Tri-Cable Stitch Cardigan

tri-cable, done.jpg

Ti-Cable Stitch Cardigan from A Stitch In Time, Volume Two
400 grams Patons Dreamtime 4ply, Charcoal
3.75mm and 3.00mm needles
Started: November 2013
Finished: August 2014
Modifications: Nothing!
Buttons: Buttonmania
Ravelryed: here

Since casting this cardigan on in November last year, I was excited about wearing it. The whole process was an illustration of an ideal knitting project; I really enjoyed seeing the marled grey cables come together to form braids up the body and arms, and often daydreamed about wearing it once it was done. In stark contrast to my usual knitting behaviour, I managed to finish it while there were plenty of weather-appropriate days left to wear it.

Tri-cable, back.jpg

There were no modifications made to the pattern, as my gauge was spot on and everything seemed to come together reasonably well. Noting that I’m never completely happy, I had a crisis of confidence over the length of the sleeves at one point. They are longer than I usually wear, but not ‘too long’ as I moaned to friends and family, who patiently sat through me demonstrating the length of the sleeves prior to seaming them to the body.

Tri-cable, the bow.jpg

If I were to make this again, I’d shorten the sleeves slightly, lengthen the ties and deal with the lip at the bottom of the cardigan, caused by the knitted-in button band. Like the sleeves, the button band isn’t a deal-breaker, but I think knitting and seaming on a separate button band would make for a slightly nicer finish. These are, however, minor quibbles; the cardigan was a joy to make and is now a joy to wear.

Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show 2014

Anyone with even a tenuous connection to any Australian knitters on Ravelry would know that the Bendigo Sheep and Wool show was this weekend. This year, I got there first thing on Friday morning. It’s the first time I’d been on a Friday, and although I was mentally prepared for pointy elbows and doorbuster sale-style stampedes, it was all rather polite and calm (and cold!).

My approach to the show has become a running joke, because I can easily walk away from the Bendigo Showgrounds without any yarn in my hands. I think a lot of this comes from what is sold at the show; I’m not a spinner, and tend not to knit with semi-solid and or variegated yarn. Because of these rather strong knitting feelpinions, there are only a few stalls selling things of interest to me. This, therefore, makes it easier for me to walk away empty-handed. In spite of all those knitting dietary requirements, I ended up coming home with a few purchases this year.

Bendigo 2014 haul

Prior to the show, I’d been considering knitting myself a new set of mittens. My old mittens have provided me with many years of good service, but they’ve begun to look quite tatty. They really didn’t have much of a chance, given that one of the yarns I used was Malabrigo Worsted. They pilled like nothing else soon after the first wear, and it’s been all downhill from there. Before I knew it, the show was upon us and there was no time to make new mittens. So, I did the next best thing and bought some yarn at the show to turn into mittens, hopefully in time for next year’s show.

Instead of the soft and pilly Malabrigo, I bought for the exact opposite. Jamieson and Smith 2ply Jumper weight is rough and robust and perfect for a pair of mittens that will likely get knocked around. I’ve wanted to try this yarn for an age, so when I spied The Purlbox‘s stall, I made a beeline for the neat rows of lovely heathered colourways. Eventually the yarn will become a pair of Snowdrift Mittens, another pattern I’ve wanted to knit for a while.

Besides the yarn, the only other knitterly things I picked up were a couple of vintage knitting pattern booklets from Onabee. Nothing particularly exciting of note, but The Sock Book from Paragon has quite a few men’s sock patterns in there that may result in socks for Matt at some point.

So, that’s Bendigo for another year. Probably quite modest by most other’s standards, but one of the most extravagant Bendigo outings I’ve had for a while.

Celebratory herringbone socks

Herringbone socks, sans feet.jpg

Herringbone Socks from New Sock Fashions in Wool by Styled by Hilda, via Free Vintage Knitting Patterns
120-ish grams Patonyle 4ply, Navy
2.25mm and 2.50mm needles
Started: April 2014
Finished: May 2014
Modifications: Switched back to the smaller needles for the foot
Ravelryed: here

Whew. Now I’ve got the last post off my chest (thank you everyone for your kind words about the jumper), I can move onto happier things.

Over the Easter break, I wanted to do work on something that wasn’t a cardigan so I cast on these socks. They were a dream to knit; the pattern was interesting but easy to remember, the slip stitch heel flap created a lovely spongy fabric and even the most monotonous part of the sock (the feet) flew by. This is how I remember knitting being.

Herringbone socks, with feet.jpg

I really liked the not-very-herringbone herringbone pattern, but it does look a bit gappy on Matt’s skinny legs. The decreases for the toe and heel suffer from the same gappiness, so I wonder if it was a combination of the pattern, the yarn and my technique. It doesn’t matter too much, as Matt seems very happy with them and they still look quite handsome despite the flaws. It’s also another addition to his sock drawer; hopefully one day soon we’ll reach a point where handknit socks are for wearing and not just for admiring and worrying about destroying them through wear.

Pillow heel.JPG

Although I didn’t end up finishing them by the end of the Easter break, I did finish them at the same time as Matt finished a wee project he’d been working on for the last few months (avert your eyes if you’re sensitive to product plugs, there’s a shameless one ahead). It’s called RavExporter, which is a plugin for iPhoto and Aperture that allows Ravelry users to export their photos directly from iPhoto or Aperture into a project or stash item. The backstory is that I use Aperture on my Mac to store all my photos, and it can get quite unwieldy when I’m trying to import stash or project photos into Ravelry. So, Matt wrote this plugin so I could get my photos into Ravelry more quickly. Productivity! If you’re a Mac user that uses Ravelry, do check it out. We’d love to hear what you think of it.

Unbecoming behaviour towards A Becoming Cross Over Line

The front.jpg

A Becoming Cross Over Line from Family Knitting in Thick Wool (from My Home Magazine)
400-ish grams Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply, Acorn
3.25mm and 4.00mm needles
Started: June 2013
Finished: March 2014
Modifications: Where do I begin?
Ravelryed: here

This project was an excellent example of the gulf that sometimes exists between perception and reality.

I chose this project as my knitting travel companion for a holiday last year. The other contender was my Tri-Cable Stitch Jumper, that four-ply cable number from A Stitch In Time Volume Two. At the time, a cropped, mostly stockinette, 8ply jumper seemed to be the project that would cause the least amount of hassle while traveling around.

This is the point where my perception of the project became divorced from reality. In the few blog posts since coming back from the holiday, I’d mentioned the many hassles I’d had with the pattern. In the end, these are the modifications I made:

  • Cast on more stitches for the waist
  • Dropped the neckline, affecting the two front pieces and the neckband
  • Removed the buttonholes from the neckband
  • Knit the sleeves using Tasha’s top down in the round method
  • Seamed up the neckband so it became a pullover rather than button up jumper.

By the time I’d gotten to the fourth or fifth attempt at the sleeves, I was worn out and became lazy. So, the sleeves shows the scars of a yarn that has been frogged and knit and frogged and knit and frogged and you get the picture. I’m hopeful that as I wear and wash it, the scars will settle to charmingly minor variations in the fabric.

The cross.jpg

Once I worked out that I could seam up the neckband and still be able to fit my generously-sized head through the hole, I quickly seamed it up and called it done. The point where the sides meet up to make the v is very wonky and disappointingly unpolished, but there comes a point in some project’s life where it just needs to be finished.

The back.jpg

Despite feeling mildly exhausted and disappointed whenever I wear it, it turned out not too bad. I really like the length of the sleeves and the cropped length makes it perfect for the fit and flare dresses I wear it with. I most certainly won’t be making this pattern again, but cropped jumpers and cardigans definitely have a place in my wardrobe.

This jumper seems to epitomise the difficulty that sometimes comes with vintage patterns; when you run into trouble, you’re generally on your own. This time the battle was worth it, but lordy did it ever try my patience!

BWM 2014 shade card round up

Yep, it’s new shade card time already. I heard rumblings that it was arriving this week, so I was more than a little antsy when the shade card was not ready waiting for me on Tuesday. I’m guessing for most of you this will be old news, but the compulsion to drone on about which colourways Bendigo Woollen Mills has decided are in and which are out overrides any concern about being behind the news curve. I get one opportunity a year to get my BWM colourway spreadsheet out (seriously), so I’m not going to miss it.

2014 shade card

Here’s the summary of the difference between this year’s and last year’s shade card:

Hello/Goodbye

  • Rustic and Alpaca Rich have been discontinued in their entirety
  • Stella (50% bamboo, 50% wool) has been promoted to the main shade card, and expanded to include 17 new colourways

Luxury

  • Tangerine (bright orange, shade number 347), Cerise (pink, 348) and African Violet (light blue-purple, 349) added to the 8 ply range
  • Fuchsia (303) added to the 10ply range
  • Wild Barley (light green-yellow, 323), Cork Brown (light brown, 355) and Iris Mist (light blue-purple, 366) discontinued in the 8ply range. No colourways discontinued in the 10ply range

Classic

  • Maize (cheery yellow, 694) and Hunter (dark green, 753) added to the 2/3/5/8/12 ply range
  • Deep Rose (rosy pink, 760), ember mix (red/green marl, 759), currant (reddish purplish brownish, 761), Mineral Mix (green/red marl, 758), Lilac (very light purple, 762), Midnight Blue (very dark blue, 765), Midnight Green Mix (dark green marl, 755), Evergreen (forest green, 766), Broadleaf (olive green, 763), Grey (light blue-grey, 764), Midnight Mix (dark blue/red marl, 757) and Claret Mix (maroon/dark red marl, 756) added to the 8 ply range

Interesting (to me) observations

  • The paper stock is a lot thinner than previous shade cards. This may (or may not) have something to do with the fact this year’s shade card has four folds, rather than three folds used in previous cards.
  • Classic has been split into two sections on the shade card; in one section are the colourways that come in 2, 3, 5, 8 and 12 ply, and in the other section are colourways that only come in 8 ply. I like this layout a lot.
  • The pattern selection has been expanded a lot. There are 13 patterns featured on this shade card, nine more than last year.

Classic split

The biggest change in this shade card the the end of Rustic and the expansion of Stella. It’s ridiculous to mourn a yarn I haven’t used in years, but when I did use it, I really liked it. I hope that it comes back in some form, even as a limited edition release. Out of all the discontinuations, Rustic is the only thing I would consider panic buying.

Adding to my disappointment is the introduction of Stella into the main shade card. I’ve knit with bamboo blends a couple of times, and only once have I been happy with the results. So while I haven’t used Stella (there’s your grain of salt to accompany my opinion), I’m yet to be convinced by bamboo blends in general.

Some of the new classic colourways, specifically Midnight Blue, Midnight Mix and Claret Mix, are lovely. Midnight Mix and Claret Mix remind me of some of the marled colourways that worked so well in Rustic. I don’t think they work as well in a crepe yarn, but are still nice enough for me to consider purchasing some. The only drawback to them is the weight; a project I’d use them for calls for a 5ply crepe and these new colourways only come in 8ply. I’m never satisfied, obviously.

So, over to you. What do you think about this year’s shade card?

Writing lines

A mere… five weeks after setting the goal to finish the sleeves on my Lee Target cardigan, it’s done! Knitting the back and sleeves as one piece seemed like a walk in the park when I first looked at this pattern, but in reality it was a slog. As a result, my enthusiasm for this project has waned since first starting it. So much so that it’s taken me two weeks since finishing the back to actually write about it.

Lee Target Back.jpg

The upside to spending so much time on the back it that I now know the stitch pattern quite well. The long rows were the equivalent of writing “I must not forget ‘*KB, K2, KF, P4′”; hopefully I won’t have to reknit as many rows in the remaining sections of the cardigan. Also, the other sections of the cardigan are much smaller, so no more 200ish stitch rows.

Half Lee Target Back.jpg

I’m now seeking solace in my other project, the tri-cable cardigan. It seems somewhat backward to consider a cabled 4ply cardigan a holiday in comparison to an 8ply cardigan, but I’ve never claimed to be rational; in fact, I’m really taken aback by how tiring I’ve found working on the Lee Target cardigan to be. Hopefully working on the tri-cable cardigan will provide enough R & R to get back on to it soon. Who knew knitting could be this mentally taxing?

Bendigo socks

Bendigo Socks.jpg

Sox (Dutch Heel) aka Design No. 1799 from Sun-Glo Knitting Book Series 15
110-ish grams Candlebark Country Socks Corriedale/Romney 5ply
2.25mm dpns
Started: July 2013
Finished: November 2013
Modifications: picked up more stitches around the heel flap, worked a few more decrease rounds at the foot.
Ravelryed: here

These socks were part of Matt’s Christmas present last year. They were knit on public transport, at Stitches and Bitches and at various other points in time where Matt wouldn’t see them in progress. Evidently I did a good job of hiding them, because he was thoroughly surprised (or so he tells me).

Both the yarn and the pattern came from Bendigo on the Sheep and Wool Show weekend. The yarn was from Corriedale/Romney sheep from a farm just outside of Bendigo, and the pattern from a stack of vintage patterns I picked up from the Sheep and Wool Show. I generally not location-loyal when it comes to buying things, there’s still enough hometown pride left in me to be tickled by the Bendigo-ness of it all.

Toesies.JPG

I think these socks are one of the best yarn/pattern combinations I’ve ever come across. The socks are pretty basic ribbed socks, but the rustic, slightly slubby texture of the yarn lends itself well to a fairly plain ribbed sock.

The yarn was quite good to work with. It still had a slightly greasy texture from the lanolin left in it, and there was a little bit of vegetable matter that was fairly easy to pick out as I went along. It turns out I quite like working with that kind of toothy, unrefined yarn; it’s not something I’d really want against my neck, but even without nylon in it it seems tough enough to handle the wear and tear of being sandwiched between a foot and a boot.

Heelsies.JPG

One thing about the yarn I didn’t care for was the smell when I was blocking the yarn. Because of the lanolin content I was expecting a wet sheep smell, but as soon as it hit the water, it gave off a pungent camphor/petroleum smell. It was so strong that even though I was blocking it in a room with the door closed and the window open, the smell was still wafting into other parts of the house. Once the socks were dry the smell disappeared, but I’m not particularly looking forward to their next wash.

The pattern itself is fairly unremarkable, it’s just a fairly long (4.5 inch cuff, 12 inch leg) sock with a dutch heel (which, incidentally, seems to be Matt’s preferred heel type. Just so you know). The pattern book was published in 1940, so it’s unsurprisingly quite utilitarian in its design. The only modification I made was to pick up more stitches along the heel flap and increased the number of decrease rows to account for those extra stitches.

All pretty straightforward, but a lovely result nonetheless.

The start of sleeves

This week’s goal was to get to the major increases on my dolman sleeve cardigan. The only impediment I had to reaching my goal was the weather. It was absolute stinker of a week in Melbourne, with hot days, hot nights, crowded trains and general (in my mind, justified) moaning about the weather. Knitting in this weather wasn’t fun, and I did question my sanity many times, but I plugged along and juuuuust made it to the major increases yesterday.

The start of sleeves.jpg

The upside to spending a lot of time working on the cardigan is now I really know the pattern. I’d mentioned before that it was a fairly easy pattern to remember, but it turns out I was lying a little bit. I found the basic structure easy to remember, but there are two mirrored twisted stitches close to one another that I had a lot of trouble committing to memory. I’m still occasionally having to rework the twists, but a lot less often than I was earlier in the week.

Now I can start to see the sleeves coming along on the cardigan, I want to keep going. So, next week’s non-binding, no consequences goal is to finish the sleeves. That does mean working on 224 stitch rows, but it’s at least going to be a lot cooler this week. Small mercies and all that.

Under/over achiever

Last year my crafting output could be charitably described as ‘minimal’. This was for various reasons, but one of them was lack of focus. Projects would be picked up and put down after only a couple of rows, and nothing seemed to get finished. This year, I’m trying a different tack by having little crafting goals for each each week. Being a fairly risk averse person prone to chronic bouts of dufferism, each week’s bar is going to be set pretty low. There will be no death-defying crafting stunts going on here.

This week’s goal was to get up to the armhole decreases on the right front piece of the Tri-Cable Cardigan mentioned in my last blog post. I’d been motoring along fairly well on the body, but getting to the armhole decreases always feels like a milestone (and in some cases, a minor victory).

Not only did I achieve my completely non-binding, no consequences goal, but completely overachieved by finishing the whole piece.

DSC 0026

The more I work on this project, the more I’m drawn in by its knitted web of charms. However, its progress is going to slow a lot now I’m on the second front piece, which requires a row counter to keep track of when buttonholes need to go in.

Next week’s goal is slightly more adventurous: getting to the major increases for the sleeves on the dolman sleeve cardigan. There aren’t too many rows to knit to get there, but there is row counting and this weather forecast to contend with:

Is this a joke?.jpg

Let’s just see how many strange looks I can get from fellow commuters while I’m knitting 8ply alpaca on a 41 degree day…

On reflection

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been debating whether to do a round up of 2013. I like reading round up posts, it’s nice to see how people have felt about their year. Also, there’s something cathartic about summing it all up; it packages everything up to be stowed away for (possible) future reading and remembering.

This time I’ve got a case of the ‘don’t wannas’. My knitting output was minimal, and outside of knitting there’s just some happenings that I’m not ready to think or write about. So instead of an end of year review, I’m going to postpone any reviewing until July(ish), which will mark one year since the start of a year of vintage knitting. It’s quite a convenient way to procrastinate, but I’m using it.

I’ve still got a couple of FOs waiting for their moment in the bloggy sun, but before I get around to that, here are the projects that have followed me into the new year.

I cast on Tri-Cable Stitch Jumper from A Stitch In Time Volume 2 as soon as Variation on Cable Stitch was done. It’s got all the hallmarks of a slow knit, with all its cables and ribbing and 4ply yarn and small(ish) needles, but it’s flown off the needles.

tri cable back.jpg

A lot of that has to do with the yarn, Patons Dreamtime 4ply, which is pretty much the perfect charcoal grey and a delight to look at. It’s a surprising colourway for a yarn that I thought was a baby yarn, but I’m not complaining.

button band lip.jpg

The button bands for the front pieces are knit with the front piece, which has caused this weird little lip at the bottom of the piece. It’s a little bit annoying but I think I’ll learn to live with it.

The other project I’m working on at the moment is a dolman sleeve cardigan from Lee Target (pattern available from Skiff Knitting). The yarn I’m using for this projects is some rusty 8ply pure alpaca Matt’s mum gave me a few years ago.

Lee Target cardigan.jpg

The pattern is easy to remember but requires enough concentration that it’s not really autopilot knitting. It’s knitting up pretty quickly at the moment, but the combination of yarn and stitch pattern means it’s difficult to count rows to space increase rows correctly. Luckily, I know of a good row counter to do the remembering for me.

I really like the colour and how the pattern’s coming up in this yarn, but there’s the quiet concern about how it’ll hold up once it’s finished. There’s no doubt that it’ll pill like the dickens, but given it’s alpaca, I’m somewhat concerned about how much it’ll drop. I’ve mitigated that risk a little by knitting it at a tighter gauge, but time will tell how well it’ll wear.

There’s one more project that I’m working on, but it’s within a hair’s breadth of being finished so I’ll hold off until it’s done and ready for the great (in the loosest sense of the word) reveal.

How have you brought in the start of the year, craft-wise?