Archive for April 2012

The kindness of strangers, part two

From a knitting perspective, last year was quite frustrating. On more that one occasion, I managed to run out of yarn before finishing a project. Some times it was by a just a small amount, other times I was completely off the mark. Running out of yarn is not something that I’m used to; in fact, I tend to buy way too much yarn. The cardigan that was in the last blog post? It’s being knit from yarn left over from Matt’s Henry scarf.

The Man Scarf was one project from last year that was a victim of my dufferism. I used the Ixchel Bison + Bamboo I won (and subsequently bought more of) at the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show last year. This yarn has terrific yardage for an 8ply so at the time I thought I could get a Matt-sized scarf out of two skeins. I’m not a natural-born optimist so cannot imagine why I felt so confident about getting a long scarf out of 100g/320m. In any case, I was really wrong.

As the second skein ran out, the scarf looked short but I thought it might be ok if Matt wore it under jackets. When Matt tried it on, he looked like Laurel wearing one of Hardy’s short ties. It really wasn’t wearable as a two-skein scarf. Then I found out Charly from Ixchel fibres had sold out of the yarn. I wasn’t mentally prepared for the yarn to be anything but a Man Scarf, so I asked for another skein on Ravelry. As it was not a widely sold, easily accessible yarn, I didn’t hold much hope of finding another skein. Again, I was wrong.

Within an hour I had an offer of a skein. Within a couple of days the yarn was in my possession and I could finish Matt’s scarf. Saved from knitting peril, not for last time, by the kindness of strangers.

matt's scarf

Man by ankestrick/fallmasche
Just shy of three skeins of Bison + Bamboo by Ixchel Fibres
4.00mm needles
Started: Septemberish 2011
Finished: April 2012
Modifications: knit 23 rows between sets of pleats rather than 24
Ravelryed: here

This scarf is essentially stocking stitch with some horizontal pleats. It doesn’t seem that exciting, but the the horizontal pleats are fun to knit and they add a nice bit of texture to the smooth stocking stitch fabric. Because it is stocking stitch, the scarf has a lifelong ambition to curl. This isn’t a big issue for Matt as he tends to wear his scarves in a way that is conducive to curling anyway.

The modification to knit one less row in between sets of pleats was to account for either an error in the pattern or an error in my interpretation of the pattern. The pleats are always worked on the wrong side of the fabric, so in my mind I needed to work an odd number of stocking stitch rows in between sets of pleats. Besides that possible error, the pattern was pretty easy to follow.


The yarn was really lovely to work with. The softness in the skein translates into soft, smooth fabric, and the bamboo content gives the yarn a lovely sheen. If I could buy more I would, but would probably stick to making smaller accessories with it. With all that bamboo, I’d be worried that a larger, heavier garment made from this yarn would lose its shape.

While this was a slightly suspenseful knit, the little bit of running around to find enough yarn to finish it was worth it. Before casting on, I had some doubts about whether it was the right yarn for the pattern, and vice versa. Soon after casting on, my doubts disappeared. The colour and texture of the yarn was just right for the scarf. I can’t imagine making it in any other yarn.

The Return

Just over a year ago, I threw a mild tantrum about a cardigan I really wanted to make, but the pattern and I were not friends. The last time it was mentioned, it looked like this:

Pickadilly, circa March 2011

Now that the hissy fit is finally over, I frogged what was left of it, reswatched and started again. This is what the cardigan looks like now:

Pickadilly, circa April 2012

The sleeves are now one inch narrower than last time, so while it might not look that different, the sleeves feel more fitted and I’m happier with how it’s looking. While the sleeves are a bit more fitted, there’s still an issue of fabric bunching under my armpit. I know I need a some ease around the armpits so I can move my arms around without fear of tearing the fabric, but I think the armholes need to be a little less deep. So, I’ll be wading into the shallows of the frog pond to make the yoke a little shorter.

Frogging this time round won’t be as painful as before, as I’m knitting the sleeves before the body rather than the other way around. It’s a lesson I learnt last time; issues with shaping the body can be fixed without frogging, but issues with the tops of the sleeves will generally mean frogging the yoke. I’d rather not have to rip back my knitting, but as there’s some trial and error in getting the fit right, it’s pretty much an inevitability.

Something which has crossed my mind a couple of times is whether it’s worth retrying this pattern. After all, it’s a project that made me feel so frustrated that I had to put it aside and not look at it for a year. Even with that time and frustration I still like the cardigan, want to make it and want to wear it. There’s no doubt that I’m being at least a little bit stubborn about not giving up, but if I want the final product, then there’s some logic to battling on for at least a little longer.

The Jan Sweater

Marsha Marsha Marsha

The Jan Sweater from A Stitch in Time, Volume 2
Yarn: Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 4ply, Brick
Needles: 2.75mm and 3.25mm
Modifications: Made the body longer, sewed up the neck to make the neck opening smaller
Started: February 2012
Finished: April 2012
Ravelryed: here

If you are contemplating knitting this jumper, stop what you’re doing and cast on. It’s an easy, but fun, pattern and it makes a lovely top. I really enjoyed making it, and since finishing it a week ago, I’ve worn it a couple of times. It’s the first pattern I’ve made from the Stitch in Time series (despite buying the first volume nearly three years ago) and I’m simultaneously impressed and kicking myself for not starting on patterns from the books earlier.

substantial shoulder seam

The usual modification of lengthening the body applied to this pattern. The other modification was to make the neck opening substantially smaller (by about 10cm on each side). I think this makes the top more casual than if the neck was left completely open, but I feel more comfortable with my shoulders covered up.

While seaming it up, I started to become concerned about the blousing above the ribbing. During a mid-seaming try-on session, the blousiness was creating doubt about whether this top was going to work for my body shape. However, as soon as the sleeves were set, it all balanced out and order was restored to the world.

As a side note, I should point out that for the size I made, the 34-36 inch, the sleeve cap only just stretches enough to fit in the armhole. I found there was little room for seaming error, but it looks fine when the sleeve’s set, and doesn’t feel tight or uncomfortable when worn.

This project was not my first experience with Bendigo Woollen Mills’ Luxury, but it was the first time I’d used the 4ply version. It doesn’t seem logical that the difference between the two weights would be substantial, but I much preferred working with 4ply Luxury than 8ply Luxury. It’s soft, but feels fairly hard-wearing. I definitely want to use it again, and it makes me feel even sadder that I missed out on buying some Oceanic before it was discontinued.

It would probably make sense to use this momentum to cast on another vintage project or another project using Luxury 4ply. However, I’m going to do something a bit different; I’m going to be sensible and continue to finish off WIPs that really should have been finished a long time ago. Little by little, I’m becoming a somewhat responsible grown up.

The quest for a stomach-warming ginger beer, part one


Last weekend the ginger beer mentioned in this post was ready to drink. We used this recipe, and the only modification I made to it was to add heaped teaspoons of ginger to the plant to hopefully make it a bit spicier.

It turned out pretty well, but not quite the ginger beer I was looking for. It didn’t have the peppery, stomach warming bite that I’m a fan of and it was a little bit syrupy.

Even though it was a perfectly pleasant, drinkable ginger beer, I’m going to try another recipe. This one in Chow has piqued my interest because it uses fresh ginger, so should be a bit more stomach warming. I’m slightly concerned about the recipe relying on airborne yeast, rather than adding yeast, for fermentation, but it’s no great loss if it doesn’t work. After all, it’s only ginger, water, sugar and time at stake.