Archive for the ‘Dufferism’ Category

Where’s my WIPs at?

I know I’ve made a terrible grammar faux pas in the title, but it reminds me of a Basement Jaxx track with a somewhat disturbing monkey/human video. So, the grammar crime remains and I refuse to show any remorse for it.

Anyhoo, this is just a short update on my two WIPs. First up is a Variation of Cable Stitch.

It sits before me as an almost complete jumper and even though I’m the only one who has worked on it, I’m surprised it’s nearly there. Since last mentioning it, I knit the sleeves and made minor ‘edits’ to the front to make the neckline a little lower at the front. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that I do not sport a graceful swan-like neck, so I suspect I’ll be making a lot more of these kinds of modifications in the future.

Variation on almost done.jpg

All that’s left to do is sew down the facings, give it a wash and then take it in to the lovely people at Buttonmania to find some buttons.

My other WIP is the brown jumper of immense frustration. Last time I mentioned it, I was getting increasingly annoyed at the hiccups I was encountering along the way. Since then, I’ve finished reknitting the button band and have almost finished one of the sleeves. It’s been quite the voyage of discovery, reworking those two parts of the jumper.

One of the things I discovered was the importance of seaming technique. On my first attempt at attaching the button band I used my default seaming method, mattress stitch, to attach the band to the body. Even though I had a lot of button band leftover, I didn’t realise that I was stretching button band out a lot. To show you how much, the strip of moss stitch sitting on top of the jumper is the original button band; it’s probably two thirds of the length of the current button band.

Mattress stitch button band.jpg

The new button band is attached using whip stitch, which worked a treat. I hadn’t contemplated using whip stitch for button bands before, and it was only because I accidentally saw mention of it in A Stitch In Time Volume 2 that I tried it. It was a proper happy accident.

whip stitch neckline.jpg

The other thing I realised was that there was absolutely no chance of easing the sleeve into the armhole on my first attempt. This was primarily because I’d cast on 10 stitches less than I was meant to, and had, in turn, knit 10 rows more than I was meant to. This spectacular misreading of the pattern is probably my best bout of dufferism of late.

Even after removing the 10 extra rows, the sleeve would still probably be a bit too big. I’ve made the sleeve smaller again, and even though it’s looking a lot better, the lack of precision is upsetting me a little. If I wasn’t so far into reworking the sleeves, I would definitely use this tutorial from By Gum By Golly. It would pretty much solve all of my problems (except the whole duffer thing).

How about you, where’s your WIPs at?

Bendigo bonnet

Thank you everyone for your thoughts on how to deal with The Pickadilly Situation. You (and Matt) were all right of course. It would be kind of silly to abandon a project when it’s pretty much done. So while I will sew on some buttons and call it done, I probably won’t do that for a little while. I just need to not think about Pickadilly for a bit, and putting it aside is the easiest way for me to do that.

While contemplating Pickadilly’s future, I started and finished a project to wear to the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show last weekend.

Giant pompom.JPG

Neon Ski Bonnet by Lacey Volk
200g Ms Gusset Ton of Wool Ten, Undyed
4.50mm needles
Started: July 2012
Finished: July 2012
Ravelryed: here

Since it first popped up in my friend activity on Ravelry, I’ve not been able to stop thinking about it. The cables! The twisted ties! The pompom! It didn’t take long to knit, but it would have been quicker had I not embarked on a trial-and-error odyssey. If you wish to make this bonnet without the odyssey, these are the things I found out that might be helpful to others:

  • It’s not absolutely necessary to use magic loop to make the cabled band. If you’re more comfortable with double pointed needles, use those.
  • When finished, the cabled band needs to be long enough to sit between your ear and chin. I had some trouble working this out from the photos in the pattern.
  • Don’t be concerned if one edge column of stocking stitch on the cabled band is uneven. If you pick up stitches for the smocked stitch on that side, it will become more even.
  • The wraps on my wrapped stitches became tighter when working in the round. Altough this is more an issue with my knitting technique, keep an eye on it because tinking wrapped stitches is unfun.
  • In contrast to tinking wrapped stitches, making twists was quite a lot of fun.
  • The pattern describes the pompom as ‘giant’, which wasn’t specific enough for me. My version of ‘giant’ was to use an 85mm Clover pompom maker. Incidentally, if you want your pompom to look poodle-like, like mine, used frogged yarn. I didn’t necessarily intend to have a poodle-like pompom, but I didn’t want to start a new skein of yarn to have a non-poodle pompom.

Ignoring most of those dot points, it was quite a fun knit, and just the antidote I needed for the frustration felt towards Pickadilly.

from the top.jpg

This was my first experience working with Cormo, and I have mixed feelings about it. It stood up well to being frogged multiple times, and the stitch definition was very good for the most part. Stockinette and cables look really good in it, but I wasn’t impressed with how the twisted stitches came out. That said, there may be some issues with my technique which contributed to their lack of definition.

The biggest concern I have about Cormo is its durability. Before using it, I was aware that it had a tendency to felt and had been treating it with more care than normal. However, after the cabled band was wet blocked, it tried its very hardest to pill, making it look untidy before I wore it once. This is it before depilling:


And after:

Less fluffy.jpg

The depiller cleaned it up pretty well, but I can’t help but feel that it’s going to be an ongoing battle. I will see how the fabric goes after I start wearing it a bit more regularly. It does make me wonder what I should do with my remaining Cormo.

As for the show itself, it was a glorious winter morning and a bit too warm for a thick cabled bonnet with a preposterously large pompom. The show seemed quieter this year, with more ‘as seen on TV’-style products. My purchases, as always, were fairly modest. There’s only one purchase I can mention at the moment, and that’s the darning mushroom I forgot to buy last year.

super mushroom.jpg

It’s a simple thing, but I can’t stop marvelling at it. It sits just nicely in my hand, and I really like the colour of the wood used for ‘cap’ of the mushroom. Luckily I’ve not got a use for it yet, but I’m sure that time will come sooner rather than later.

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.

2011 round up

It was a funny old year this year, knitting-wise. It felt like I had my knitting needles in my hands at every spare moment, and yet I have only seven finished objects to my name this year. I’m trying to stay rational about it, reminding myself that it’s not a race and at that I’m making things that I’m happy with, but I can’t deny that I’m disappointed that I got so little finished. My productivity deficiency seems to have largely come from misjudging the amount of yarn I had, and pattern/yarn mismatches. This is otherwise known as being a duffer.

Even though I’m having a bit of a sulk about the year’s worth of finished objects, what I did actually finish turned out pretty well. This part of the recap always reminds me of the end of some movies or TV shows, where there’s a still shot of a character (sometimes sepia-toned) and a caption about where they are now…

Golden Hands Vest
Golden Hands Vest caption

Gaptastic Cowl
Cowl caption

Lyttelton caption

Manu caption

Cornsilk Pullover
Cornsilk caption

The Delicious Knee Socks and Kalajokis declined to be interviewed, still cross they didn’t get a fair showing when they were debuted during the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show weekend.

I’ve been planning for 2012 for the last few weeks. The pattern queue has been set, the stash has been rifled through. All systems are go, and I’m really looking forward to having a productive year with minimal dufferism. What are your crafting plans for 2012?

The quick becomes slow and the slow becomes quick

This post could have gone up hours after the last one, but I’ve had a dose of the denials which has meant I’ve waited a week to publicly say it: I don’t have enough yarn to finish the Woodland Capelet.

The main section is finished, and all that’s needed is for the top darts to be sewn up and the ties to be knit. However, the ties are made up of around eight rows of stitches. Each row is 208 stitches long, and I have this much yarn left:

frankenstein, meet yarn

My Frankenstein Lego Man kindly offered to step in for scale, and also provides a fairly accurate representation of my furrowed brow when I had to face facts; no amount of happy thoughts are going to get me there. I’m not quite ready to give up on this project yet though, so if you have some unwanted Bendigo Woollen Mills Allegro in Scarlet floating around in your stash that you would like to sell, I would love to hear from you. I think I need about 20 to 30 grams of yarn and I’m not fussed about the dyelot at this point. Besides financial compensation, I can guarantee that you’ll be a contender for my favourite person for the second quarter of the 2011-12 financial year.

Now that my attempts to knit a quick project have been thwarted by my picky taste and/or my stubborn resolve to use up that Allegro even if it’s the last thing I do, I have turned back to the bigger projects I originally shunned. The funny thing is, I feel like they’re flying off the needles when before progress felt so slow I could have been frogging instead of knitting. ‘Tis just another reminder that pretty much everything is relative.

I came, I swatched, I frogged

I’m not sure how well I conveyed it in my last blog post, but I was really looking forward to making a Thousand Splendid Suns cowl. Really really looking forward to it. As soon as the secret squirrel project was finished, the swatching started. Sadly, something just didn’t feel right as I knit with the Jitterbug.

Jitterbug swatch

Then I swatched with the Madeline Tosh sock, and I got the same feeling. It just wasn’t quite right. Now that I look at the photos of the swatches, I think the ‘suns’ don’t translate that well to thinner yarn, they just look a bit measly. In theory either yarn could work well if they were double stranded (not together though, that probably wouldn’t look too good), but I doubt I have enough to make a cowl from a double strand. It’s a little disappointing that it hasn’t worked out, but it’s better not to force these things I feel.

Madtosh swatch

Putting the cowl on hiatus meant in theory, I could start working on the other pattern mentioned last time, the Man scarf. Instead, I got distracted by the Woodland Capelet and its pretty scalloped edge.

Woodland caplet

I’m running the stash gauntlet again with this one, using the Bendigo Woollen Mills Allegro that was meant to be for my knee high Kalajokis. There wasn’t enough yarn then, and I’m not convinced there will be enough yarn this time either. If there is enough yarn, it’ll be a very very tight squeeze. What can I say, I like to live life on the (pretty scalloped) edge.

The little red socks that could

The aim for this year is to use up as much stash as possible. Not to avoid buying yarn per se, but to make stash the first port of call when starting a project. So far it’s worked fairly well; there was enough yarn in my meagre stash to make a vest, a cowl (with some help from an abandoned scarf) and a bolero (with some help from a knitterly stranger). These socks, however, have put an end the golden run of stash diving.


Initially there appeared to be more than enough yarn to make a pair of Kalajokis. In fact, there looked like there’d be enough to make a pair of knee high Kalajokis. As soon as the thought of red knee high socks materialised in my brain, it was over. It was a pair of red knee high Kalajokis or nothing.

There were four or five attempts to try and squeeze a pair of knee socks out of the yarn I had stashed, but it was to no avail. Even with a pair of knee socks that was close to vacuum sealed onto my legs, there wasn’t enough yarn for most of the foot. There’s definitely enough yarn for a pair of ‘normal’, shorter, Kalajokis, but quite frankly it feels dirty typing those words. Red knee high Kalajokis or nothing, remember?

Kalajoki plus ankle defence mechanism

As it happens, the colour of the yarn (Bendigo Woollen Mills Allegro, in the discontinued colourway Scarlet) is pretty close to Patonyle 8ply in red. Let’s hope the seven balls purchased in the recent Clegs sale will be enough.

patonyle allegro face/off

As for the Allegro, its future is uncertain. It’s a fairly splitty yarn, so while the colour is good and the fabric seems pretty hard wearing, it’s not the best to knit with. So back it goes into the stash, waiting for another pattern to come along. Hopefully next time round there will be enough to finish whatever I start!

When knitting attacks

For a long time, podcasts and I didn’t get along. Concentrating for long periods of time does not come easily to me, so I felt podcasts were out of the question. I mentioned this to a couple of knitting friends late last year, and I’m sure they found it all a bit odd. Then Matt started listening to Radiolab. He played a couple of interesting episodes to me, so I thought I’d try them again.

The last time I looked for knitting podcasts, there were only one or two about. My, how things have changed! The number of podcasts about knitting now borders on overwhelming. Based on tidbits I’d heard when my friends discussed podcasts, I started listening to the Knitmore Girls. So far I’ve only listened to a couple of their podcasts, but I’ve found them all quite enjoyable. The mother/daughter presenters have a really good rapport, and their conversational style makes for easy listening. In writing all this, I’m sure I’m probably the last person to discover the Knitmore Girls and that this is old news to knitters everywhere.

The title of this post is a blatant ripoff of the Knitmore Girls’ segments, where they discuss issues they’ve had with their knitting. To be fair, in my case ‘when duffers attack’ is probably a more accurate title as the knitting is not at fault at all.

Soon after my last post, I ripped out my first attempt at Lyttelton and decided that it was probably too big anyway. ‘This is my silver lining’ I thought, and cast on again with one less pattern repeat. By the time I got to the sleeves yesterday morning, it was clear something was amiss again.

Comparing the shrug to the swatch, it appears I’m not starting each pattern repeat correctly. This means that the cable and trellis stitch was moving diagonally with each repeat, rather than straight up. Even though it was a fairly silly, simple mistake, it was subtle enough that it took me a little while to work out what I’d done wrong. It was also subtle enough that I can’t really capture it clearly on my camera. So yet again I shall frog, and hope that the mantra of ‘third time lucky’ holds.


As punishment, I’ll hold off from casting on again until I’ve finished the bands for my stripy vest. It’s a fairly trivial task (famous last words!), but each row is 433 stitches. Of 1×1 rib. I like to think of it as the knitting equivalent of writing out lines. That’ll teach me… hopefully.

The quest for a silver lining

It’s been very humid here over the past week. Miserable weather is generally associated with the cold, but for me, this is properly miserable. Sticky, energy-sapping and generally uncomfortable.

Because the weather is so, I haven’t been knitting very much. However, I did decide that it was far too hot to be working on my two wool projects, so I cast on Lyttelton in grey (did you expect anything else?) Rowan Cotton Glace.


The rows are a lot more time consuming than my usual stocking stitch, but the lovely trellis stitch makes it all worth it. Having said all that, I’m just about the rip out the whole lot as I don’t like how I’ve incorporated the pattern into the increases. It seems a shame to rip out all that work but it’s much better to start again than persist with something you’re unhappy with.


While contemplating ripping out Lyttelton I reverted back to knitting with wool and started on the armbands for my stripy vest. All was going well there until discovering that I’d lost one of my knitting needles between the house and the train station yesterday morning. Chalk that up as one more reason to buy circular needles, something that I will do after writing this post. I’m also a bit concerned that there might not be enough yarn for the bands at the front, so I’ll think happy thoughts again, given how effective it was for Matt’s Dashing Jumper.

The mildly grumbly tone of this post is completely unwarranted given the terrible flooding in Queensland (and since I originally wrote this, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania on a smaller scale, and also Brazil and Sri Lanka). It’s terribly disarming watching the news and reading the paper, knowing I cannot help with sandbagging or cleaning or fostering animals… or just not be completely useless besides donating money. Having a few problems with my knitting projects pales in comparison.

A duffer’s knitting dilemma

Last weekend, I had every intention of taking a photo of the pile of neatly blocked pieces of Matt’s jumper, but I got a bit excited and started seaming instead. As my seaming-in-progress photos look like yarn monsters rather than almost-jumpers, I shall instead write about my latest bout of dufferism (a disease for which I’m convinced there is no cure).

Before getting to the dufferism, there is a backstory. As a kid, I used to page through Mum’s sets of craft books. One set, the name of which name I cannot remember (I’d be forever grateful to anyone who could tell me what they were called) had white vinyl covers with gold writing, and the other was Golden Hands.

Both sets of craft books went to the op shop during my teens, and were almost forgotten until I saw an almost the complete set of Golden Hands books at an op shop a few years ago. My strong sense of nostalgia never fails me, so I bought the almost complete set on the spot.

Old craft books are a wonderful mix of comedy, cringe and good ideas. I decided that this vest pattern from Golden Hands Book 1 fell into the last category.

golden hands vest

The pattern suggested that I’d need less than 200 grams of 8ply to make the vest. I was a bit sceptical of this claim, particularly given that there was no yardage accompanying the yarn requirements, but I had some stashed Bendigo Woollen Mills Rustic 8ply in Graphite that I thought would work with the pattern. It seems I was right to be sceptical, as I’m not even half way through the back and there is no way I will have enough yarn to finish the vest.

outta yarn

As far as I can tell, I have three options. I can frog it and forget about the whole episode, buy some more yarn, or frog back to the ribbing and make a striped vest using some more stashed Rustic in a different colour. The first option’s been dismissed already but I can’t decide between the two remaining options. I bought the graphite Rustic some years ago and the label’s long gone, so matching dyelots isn’t really possible. There’s generally little variance in Bendigo Woollen Mills dyelots, but it’s still a bit risky. The alternative is to use some stashed Rustic 8ply in flannel, a light grey.

graphite and flannel together

Graphite and flannel go quite well together, and it would help use up more stash, but I’m not sure if I’ve got much in my wardrobe that goes with a striped vest. At the moment I’m leaning towards flannel stripes, but I’m not 100 per cent sold on the idea.

Dilemmas dilemmas. Sometimes it’s hard being a duffer.