Archive for the ‘Knitting’ Category

Pickadilly State of the Union, July 2012

Are you sick of reading about Pickadilly yet? I wouldn’t blame you if you were. To be frank, I’m kind of sick of looking at it and thinking about it. It’s been my main knitting project over the last few months and is now at a point where it closely resembles a finished project. However, I’m not sure if I want to finish it. In some ways, I feel like I’m in the same spot as I was when I first decided to put Pickadilly aside for a while.

contrasty but nearly done.jpg

The cardigan itself is more or less finished; it just needs some buttons and it could be worn in public. I’ve been working on the crochet trim over the last week and due to my inexperience with the hook, it’s been a battle. I bought some Madeline Tosh Lace in Milk to use for the trim, but after swatching it, it felt too delicate for the cardigan. More accurately, I had concerns that I’d get it caught on… stuff. So, I tried some cream Grignasco Bambi left over from my Victory Sweater. The colour match wasn’t as good as the Madtosh, but I felt it was going to hold up a bit better to the trials and tribulations of being worn by me. In the mean time, I’d decided to leave the trim off the cuffs. Cream cuff trims + me = guaranteed disaster.

DSC 0637

With the yarn for the trim settled, I measured the swatch, calculated how many chain stitches I’d need for the trim along the button band and around the bottom hem. Crochet is a slow process when in my hands; I don’t feel comfortable with the hook, and I know my technique can only be politely referred to as ‘unorthodox’. In any case, the trim took three or four nights to finish and when it was done, I put it up against the cardigan to admire my handiwork; it was about 10cm too long. Had it been 10cm too short, it could probably have been be blocked out and stretched along the edge of the cardigan. In this situation, I can’t see any other option but to rip the trim out and start again. As it is I don’t think I have the will or the bother to keep going with Pickadilly. After seeing this boatneck jumper on Ravelry on the weekend, I’m now considering whether I should frog the cardigan completely and use the yarn to make that simple jumper.

The prospect of frogging Pickadilly was mentioned to Matt a couple of nights ago, and he suggested that it would be a waste of all the time spent swatching/knitting/modifying/swearing. It’s true that a lot of time has been spent on this project, but I don’t think it’s a waste. After all, I can’t get that time back, so there’s no point trying to salvage something just because I spent a lot of time on it. It’s also made me look at the construction of garments and look over patterns with a more critical eye than I have previously. It’s a project that’s taught me that persistence can pay off sometimes; the sleeves, for example, worked out really well.

another hand on hip photo for the road.jpg

Aside from the time spent on it, the other point to consider is whether I’d wear it once it was finished. Without the trim, I doubt I would. Even with the trim, I don’t know if I would wear it all that much. If it hadn’t been such a struggle, I’m sure I’d be more inclined to wear it.

So, with all that sooking, I’m keen to get some views from outside the Pransell household. Am I completely mad to be considering frogging something I’ve invested so much time in and am so close to finishing?

The kindness of strangers, part three

The last of 2011’s yarn miscalculations was rectified early last month when I completed my woodland capelet. Unlike Matt’s scarf, I only slightly miscalculated how much yarn was needed for this project and like Matt’s scarf, it was a fellow knitter on Ravelry who helped me out.

Woodland Capelet, front

Woodland Capelet by Susan Mills
200g(ish) Bendigo Woollen Mills Allegro, Scarlet
5.00mm needles
Started: September 2011
Finished: May 2012
Ravelryed: here

It wasn’t finished in time for Capril nor the last of the warm weather, but I’m glad it’s finished all the same. It’s an easy pattern, but constant increasing and decreasing meant that I had to be paying at least a little bit of attention while knitting it. I think the scalloped edge turned out really well and the ties look quite good in garter stitch. The only reservation I have with the pattern is the shaping around the shoulders. The method used to create the darts was a bit fiddly, and resulted in it looking a bit lumpy at the top of the capelet. It is still an entirely wearable garment, but I can’t help but think there must be a better way to incorporate shaping into an item knit from side to side. I doubt that short rows would really work in this instance, so what that better way is, I don’t know.

Woodland Capelet, back

This yarn was a problem child in my stash. It was an undersized ball of yarn purchased from the Bendigo Woollen Mills, and was going to be used for contrast heels and toes. Then it was going to be a pair of knee high Kalajokis. Finally, it ended up as this capelet. Even though it had a tendency to split from the get go, it held up remarkably well to being frogged and reknit many times.

The colourway I used, Scarlet, had a few strands of red-orange mixed in with the red. When it was knit up, the contrasting orange meant the fabric had very subtle variations in colour which I think worked well. If memory serves me right, all the colourways in the second edition of Allegro had darker contrast colours, which wasn’t as subtle and a little less to my liking. All of this is more or less useless trivia, as Allegro was one of Bendigo Woollen Mills’ limited edition yarns and it appears to be sold out.

With the exception of Pickadilly, which is coming along quite well, my backlog of 2011 WIPs has now been cleared. This means I need to start thinking about an appropriate celebration when the backlog has been properly cleared. At the moment, I think a tickertape parade through the middle of Melbourne would suffice…

Pickadilly update

There are a few things I mentioned in previous posts that require updates. One is ginger beer, the other is Pickadilly. The only impediments to me posting updates have been time and light. Time, or lack thereof, is a common ailment, as is light at this time of year. The days are shorter and the light levels have been hovering around ‘miserable’. In some ways the light situation has been a blessing, as it allows me to make some real proper progress on my craft projects. This is definitely the case for Pickadilly.

Pickadilly sleeve, again

Almost as soon as I posted about being off my knitting, I started working on Pickadilly again. In between my last post about Pickadilly and now, I did the following:

  • Ripped the sleeve and body back to the yoke
  • Shortened the yoke by a few rows, making the armhole a little bit smaller and reducing the amount of fabric underneath my arm
  • Started the decreases for the sleeves earlier, and added more decreases in total

As a result, my Pickadilly now comes with a fully functional sleeve. I cannot lie, it was a battle getting the sleeve to a point where I was happy with the shaping. However, once it was actually done, it felt like a victory rather than just being another completed part of the project. The shaping isn’t perfect by any means. There’s probably still a bit of excess fabric under the the arm, but I still feel it’s an improvement on previous attempts. In other words, I will not be attempting the sleeve again. Now that the sleeve shaping issues have been solved (more or less), I hope that my fixation with the amount of fabric under my arms will end. It’s a bit disturbing.

The second sleeve is now underway and, predictably, it feels like it’s working up a lot faster than the first. I have started and finished the decreases and it’s well past the elbow. Something that has helped the progress of the sleeve is cold nights combined with TV. In particular, I’ve started watching Friday Night Lights after reading lots of positive bits and pieces on twitter and on DrK’s blog. It’s one of those shows that I could quite happily watch episode after episode, but Matt is rationing it out. This is probably to stop my eyes from going square. Even with the rationing, it’s provided a good amount of uninterrupted knitting time.

Although it’s been a relief to be making good progress on Pickadilly, it feels strange to be working on something modern. Since mentioning the year of vintage knits last month, my knitterly thoughts have been largely taken up by mental notes and plans for next year. I’ve started looking through my pattern collection and pairing patterns with stash, and started thinking about yarn I might need to buy for particular patterns. I’m not sure how many FOs I’ll end up with next year, but I’m looking forward to the process. It’s going to be fun.

The year of the vintage pattern

Last Saturday the Brunswick Mini Wool Expo was held at the Brunswick Town Hall. It’s a pleasant way to spend time on a Saturday morning, running into and chatting with friends, looking at yarn and, in my case, sorting through old patterns. I didn’t buy any yarn this year, but did spend quite a bit of time going through piles and piles of old patterns. In the end, I picked up quite a nice collection of bits and bobs to add to the pattern stash.

patterns patterns everwhere

There are lots of patterns in this mini-haul that I would knit, but this one is my favourite:


There’s nothing particularly exciting about a stocking stitch jumper with seed stitch trim, but it does remind me of a jumper worn by a lady in a vintage shop I visited nearly ten years ago. Even though it was a long time ago, I still remember it pretty well; it had the same high cross over, but it didn’t have any buttons and the sleeves were a tad longer. It’s a jumper that I’ve wanted to make for myself, and I even went so far as to sketch it a couple of times. Like a lot of things, it never got past being a kernel of an idea, so I was really excited to come across this pattern. It’s unlikely that I’ll be making it this year, but I’ve started thinking about colours already. So far light yellow, mustard yellow and brown are the front runners.

It’s always fun to pick up ‘new’ vintage patterns, but this mini-haul also reminded me that my pattern stash is a bit of a mess at the moment. I really need to sit down and spend some quality time with both my yarn and pattern stashes to get them more organised and to also pare them down. The biggest problem I have with my vintage pattern stash is that I never seem to use it. The hunt for ‘new’ pattern books is always fun, but that seems to be where it ends. There’s very few patterns that I’ve collected that have turned into finished objects, and yet they’re some of the projects I’ve been most proud of.

Perhaps next year can be a year of vintage patterns? There are certainly more than enough patterns in my stash that I’m interested in making, and by then my yarn stash should be small enough to accommodate more yarn… I might be calling it too early, but I’m going to do it now. 2013 is going to be a year of knitting from vintage patterns.

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.

BWM 2012 shade card round up.

Public Service Announcement: this really is a post all about this year’s Bendigo Woollen Mills shade card. It contains spoilers, but may also cause drowsiness when consumed.

The month of March is full of excitement and anticipation for me, as it’s when the new Bendigo Woollen Mills shade card arrives. I don’t think I’ve explicitly mentioned it, though it might be already apparent; Bendigo Woollen Mills is my ‘go to’ brand of yarn. Many of my FOs are from BWM yarns, and their yarns make up a large part of my stash. I have a somewhat love/hate relationship with their colourways (there are often more insipid colours than you can poke a stick at), but it’s reasonably priced, decent quality, and there are enough decent colours to get by. Nevertheless, there’s always a little bit of nervousness mixed in with the excitement of receiving a new shade card, wondering which of my favourite colourways have got the boot this year.

BWM 2012 shade card

This year’s shade card arrived yesterday, and it was out of the envelope quicker than you can say ‘I’ve got a golden ticket’. Just for fun, here’s a summary of changes between the 2011 and 2012 shade card:


  • Orange (shade number 330), Oceanic (331) and Red Earth (364) discontinued
  • Sunflower (yellow, 344), Acorn (dark brown, 345) and Desert Pea (red, 346) included
  • Frost (312), Purple Storm (367) and Brick (361) included in the 10 ply range, with no existing 10 ply shades discontinued


  • Feijoa (615), Mid Green (655) and Mayfair (656) discontinued
  • Passionfruit (purple, 749), Coffee Bean (red-brown, 750) and Burnt Rose (pink, 751) included to the 5 and 8 ply ranges
  • The 2/3/12 ply range remains the same


  • Replaced by Alpaca Rich, a 60/40 Alpaca/Wool blend. The colourways aren’t particularly comparable


  • Russet (938) discontinued
  • Carbon (black, 929) included

The biggest change this year is the replacement of the pure Alpaca line with Alpaca Rich, an alpaca/wool blend. I don’t tend to use alpaca all that much so I don’t really have any thoughts either way on this change.

The changes that I took most notice of were in the Luxury colourways. I’m sad to see Oceanic go, as I thought it was a really nice shade of blue. Although I’m suffering from a stash management problem at the moment, I may have to stock up on some 4ply before it’s gone for good. The three new Luxury colourways, Sunflower, Acorn and Desert Pea, are of interest. Acorn is the nice rich dark brown that the Luxury line has needed since it was released. I suspect it will be fairly popular; hopefully popular enough that it sticks around for a few years. Sunflower and Desert Pea also look like good colourways, but they’re two colours that I’d want to see in the ball before buying. Shade cards are more useful than computer screens when looking at colours, but sometimes they’re not quite enough to get a good idea for what a particular colour will look like as a whole garment.

So, that’s the BWM shade card for this year. If you also receive their shade cards, I’d love to know what you think about this year’s card.

Wavy Line

Wavy Line, finished

Wavy Line Sweater by Sarah Dallas
Around 225g Grignasco Bambi in total, using light blue, chocolate brown and cream
3.75mm and 4.5mm needles

Start: April 2011
Finish: March 2012
Modifications: added about half a repeat (20 rows) to the body, adjusted stripes on sleeves to match
Ravelled: here

Huzzah, Wavy Line is finished and I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I like it! It doesn’t feel like it’s been a WIP for nearly a year, but Ravelry says I started it in April 2011, so it must be so. It was one of those projects that I worked on in dribs and drabs; projects that use four colours aren’t particularly conducive to commute knitting so it had to stay at home for the most part.

Over the last few years, I’ve managed to collect quite a few different colours of Grignasco Bambi. This pattern was a good way to put a dent in the collection. It took a bit of mixing and matching to come up with a combination of four colours that weren’t too loud, but I think I succeeded.

One of the drawbacks of using four colours in a pattern is all the ends it generates. I know I made work for myself by only carrying the two main colours, light blue and chocolate brown, up the side, but I felt that carrying all four colours could affect the tension on one side and make it a bit bulky. These are only some of the ends that needed to be woven in:


I didn’t keep a count of how many ends there were in total and I’m glad I didn’t. If I’d known how many ends needed to be woven in before I started, it’d probably still be unfinished. Sometimes it’s best just not to know.

wavy with skirt

The fit is a bit different to what I expected but I’m still happy with it. As I was knitting it up, I imagined wearing it with pencil skirts, but now that it’s finished and gone through the process of being tried on with other things from my wardrobe, I think it looks better with A-line and fuller skirts. The fit around the armpits is a little funny because of the unusual construction of the sleeves and armscyes. There is only a little bit of shaping at the very top of the sleeve and all armhole stitches are cast off in one lot, rather than gradually. This construction made setting the sleeves really easy, but the fit was probably not as good as a more traditional set in sleeve.

sleeve construction

If you are considering knitting this pattern, I highly recommend checking out this great post comparing the two patterns. It gives a really good rundown of the pros and cons of each pattern. For what it’s worth, I found the Sarah Dallas Vintage Knits version of this pattern pretty clear and easy to follow. It had a pretty big drawback in that the pattern only came in one size, but luckily it was the right size for me. It wasn’t the most enjoyable project I’ve worked on, but I’m pretty happy with the result and I can move onto another WIP that’s been kicking around for far too long…

The unexpected long weekend

This year’s Labour Day long weekend snuck up on me. Instead of willing time to speed up so the long weekend was upon us, I only realised on Friday that Monday was a public holiday. Surprise! Even with such short notice, I was able to quickly assemble a list of things to get done over the three days. The list only contained two items and both of them knitterly; to finish off my (unblogged) Wavy Line Sweater/Allouette, and to get to the armhole decreases on the front of my Jan Sweater. Now that the calendar indicates that Autumn is here, I really need to get a wriggle on and finish the two short sleeved tops that have been on my needles for a little while now.

dear Jan

I only managed to cross off one of the items on my list, which was to get to the armhole decreases on my Jan Sweater. The back is already done, so that should mean that I’m not too far away from finishing it. It’s been a fun knit thus far and expect (nay, demand) it’ll remain fun right up until it’s finished. It’s easy enough to work on while watching Mad Men, but the periodic yarn overs make it interesting.

wavy line allouette

Even though I didn’t end up finishing my Wavy Line Sweater/Allouette, I’m still pretty happy with how it is coming along. One side is completely seamed up, and I’m about half way through the other side. In theory, this means it’s even closer to completion than the Jan Sweater. I can’t say I’m enjoying the process with this project like I am with Jan; it’s been on the needles since April last year and I think when it is done, I’ll just feel relieved. It’s a bit of a funny pattern in that I originally saw it in Sarah Dallas’ Vintage Knits as ‘Wavy Line Sweater’, but then subsequently saw a slightly modified version, also by Sarah Dallas, in Rowan’s Vintage Knits. Even though I’ve been working on the Wavy Line version for nearly a year, I’m still not sure how I feel about a very similar design by the same designer in two different publications. It’s one thing for a designer to have favourite design elements which they use in a number of different patterns, but in my mind this skates rather close to recycling the pattern.

There were a couple of little distractions which meant I didn’t get Wavy Line/Allouette finished on the weekend and all of them revolve around the weather. It was perfect timing really, three lovely sunny (but not hot) days for the long weekend. You can never be sure if this is the warm weather’s last hurrah for this year, so I made sure I spent at least a little bit of time outside. Instead of seaming up my knitting, I did a wee bit of gardening:

wee garden

Went for a little pootle on one of my bikes:


And started a ginger beer plant. I’ll spare you a photo of the yeast/sugar/ginger/water mix. It’s not particularly attractive (or at least, less attractive than toilet paper rolls and potting mix) and I don’t want to scare the yeast into dormancy by taking photos of it. Making ginger beer really should have been something I did, or started, during Spring or Summer, but when your mind says ‘make ginger beer’, sometimes you’ve just got to go with it.