Archive for September 2012

Scrap bag

An unavoidable by-product of knitting and sewing is all the little scraps of yarn and fabric that are just too short or small to be useful. There’s always a twinge of sadness when I collect all the scraps up and put them in the bin. It’s almost a sense of mourning, like they could be used for something else. Turns out that ‘something else’ is a draught stopper.

The draught avenger.jpg

We live in a fairly draughty house, but our ability to do anything about the gaps under the doors is limited because we’re renting (if we owned this house, that carpet would be a distant memory). Draught stoppers can be purchased fairly cheaply at the supermarket, but at least this way I can pick the fabric, customise the height and length and feel satisfied that those little scraps are no longer wasted.

Even though it’s a ridiculously simple project (it’s just a stuffed tube of fabric, after all), I’ve found that I can use it as a pseudo-rubbish bin, slowly filling it with scraps until it’s at the right length. It does mean that it can end up being a bit lumpy as some scraps pack in a bit tighter than others, but if it’s just sitting on the floor stopping the cold wind from entering the house, I don’t think that matters too much.

For a mildly harebrained idea, it’s worked well so far. It’s only yielded one draught stopper, but even just that one is making the house less breezy, and I feel less guilty about the amount of fabric and yarn scraps I produce.


On occasion, I come across a knitting pattern that looks like a lot of fun, but isn’t the sort of thing I would wear or use. In these situations, I’ve found that the best solution is make it and then foist the finished object onto an unsuspecting friend or family member. To make myself feel better about the this, I like to call the finished object a ‘present’.


Marin by Ysolda Teague
Just shy of 100g Madeline Tosh Tosh Merino Light, Denim
3.25mm needles
Started: July 2012
Finished: August 2012
Ravelryed: here

As soon as Marin began to appear in my friend activity feed on Ravelry, I wanted to make it. Unfortunately, it’s one of those patterns where it looks pretty, but I could never see myself wearing it. Luckily, I discovered the pattern shortly before a dear friend’s birthday, so I was able to foist this version upon her. Even luckier, it was just the sort of scarf/shawl I could see her wearing.

scallops and reversible cables.jpg

This pattern is a lot of fun to knit, with its ribbed scallops and reversible cables. However, it required a lot of concentration. There are several parts to the pattern, and I had to flick back and forth between the parts until at least one part was memorised. I tried to work on it while standing in queues during Melbourne Open House, but that ended with mild frustration and regret that I hadn’t chosen a simple sock as my knitting project for that day.

The only part of the pattern I struggled with was the increases at the start. Even after reading the pattern several times, it wasn’t immediately apparent (to me) how many times I needed to increase the garter stitch section at the start. The problem was solved after reading this very helpful thread on Ravelry about this pattern.

The yarn I used, a 4 ply, was a slightly lighter weight than the 5 ply called for in the pattern. Instead of using 3.75mm needles, I used 3.25mm, as the gauge swatch in stockinette looked much nicer in 3.25mm than 3.75mm. This was a mistake, particularly as the pattern doesn’t contain any stockinette stitch. So while I think my version of Marin looks lovely, it’s probably a little small even with aggressive blocking regime I put it though. There are quite a few people who have knit this pattern using Tosh Merino light, and they all seem to have used 3.75mm needles with good results. I don’t think I’ve ever said this before or will do so again — don’t trust the swatch in this instance.

Marin point.jpg

As I was knitting away at this, I grew to like it more and more, and my initial steadfast ‘I’d never wear this’ reaction started to crumble. Contributing to this wavering is the fact I’ve got some lovely MadTosh sock in Graphite in my stash without a project… Perhaps I could make it work for me after all.

Emergency Beanie

plain ol' beanie.jpg

Long Beanie by Woolly Wormhead
75g Jo Sharp DK, navy
4.00mm needles
Started: July 2012
Finished: July 2012
Modifications: Used lighter-weight yarn, cast on more stitches, knit the ‘body’ longer
Ravelryed: here

It was recently suggested that my Poppa might want a handknit beanie to tame his unruly hair. My first thought, which may result in me being disowned by the knitting community, was that a beanie might exacerbate the unruly hair situation by giving him hat hair. Very shortly after thinking that, I started looking for a basic beanie pattern.

There’s not too much to say about this beanie as it’s simply 1×1 rib paired with plain ol’ stockinette. However, I did like the alternate cable cast on used in the pattern. The first cast on I learnt was the cable cast on, and as versatile as it is, it does end up being a bit tight at times. The alternate cable cast on is much stretchier and I think I’ll be using it in the future for other beanies and top down socks.

the ol' spiral.jpg

The modifications I made to the beanie were fairly minor; I cast on more stitches because I used an 8ply yarn rather than the suggested 12 ply. I also knitted an extra 1 or 2cm before beginning the crown decreases. I wasn’t sure how long Poppa likes his hats to be, but in this instance I thought it better for the beanie to be too long than too short. A long beanie can be remedied by rolling the cuff up higher, a too-short beanie generally means cold ears and annoyance.

The Jo Sharp 8ply has been lurking in my stash for longer than I can remember. I don’t really remember when I bought it, besides it being during my university years, but I do remember the act of buying it. There was an op shop that I used to often visit after classes, and I always sought out the craft section first. Usually the yarn selection was abysmal, but on this day there was a grab bag of yarn which included four balls of Jo Sharp DK. The grab bag cost less than the retail price of one ball of Jo Sharp DK at the time. I remember trying very hard to not show any outward sign of the adrenaline rush that I get (then and now) when I’ve found something in an op shop that I’ve wanted for a long time. At the time, Jo Sharp was one of those desirable yarn brands (Rowan was another) that I really wanted to try but could never justify the expense. It was a real find. It’s funny thinking back on that now, because as it sat in my stash for years, it went from being ‘that great yarn that I bought really cheaply at an op shop’ to ‘another 200 grams of navy 8ply I need to find a use for’.

As far as navy 8ply yarn that I needed to find a use for goes, I think it worked well as a beanie. The fabric had a slightly rough hand before blocking, and it softened slightly after giving it a soak in wool wash. I think it’s also going to be quite hard wearing and I’m hopeful that it has good hair taming attributes. Initial reports suggest that it fits well, the colour is aesthetically pleasing, and that it covers Poppa’s unruly mane well. Who needs Brylcreem when you’ve got a hand knit beanie?