Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Fond Memories of Iceland

It's inconceivable to me, but apparently I knit a whole sweater and didn't write about it on this blog the entire time I did it. I posted updates on my Instagram feed, but that's not the same, is it.

This sweater started last August when I found the yarn department at a grocery store in Iceland.
I was hoping to find some of the Lopi yarn Iceland is known for. I bought what I hoped would be a sweater quantity of a medium grey,
and a few colours to go with:
I didn't have enough sense to get a white or natural and had to order some after I got home!

It took me a while after I got home to get started, but by the end of September I had picked a pattern and gotten started. Seeing the Telja sweater on Instagram led me to Jennifer Steingass's designs. She has a lot of great colourwork patterns, but after admiring the rest, I stuck with the Telja design.

I decided to avoid colourwork that required three colours to be carried in one row.
I had done that on my Whistler sweater and decided next time it was required, I would skip the third colour and duplicate stitch it on after the knitting was done.
So that's what I did with the yellow and blue (above) and later in the pattern with the green. (I see in the picture above that I didn't wait until all of the knitting was done to start stitching. I think I remember a late night when I wanted to see how it would look.)

Here's the inside of the yoke after the blue and yellow were done:
Instead of three rows of carrying an extra strand, I just have one strand of blue or yellow going from one spot to the next.

Another thing I added to the sweater was a repeat of the colours from the yoke in stripes on one sleeve.
After knitting the first half of the first sleeve, it was obvious that it was going to be far too tight. I redid the sleeve starting with more stitches and re-figuring the increases so that I would end up with the same number of total stitches as the pattern at the same height of the sleeve.

I have made a few sweaters that have no real front or back (which is usually the case with yoke sweaters) and I always end up deciding one should be worn to the back (because of a seam or the colour jog) and then spend too much time trying to figure which is which when I go to put the sweater on.

So this time I took a small piece of red and wove it into the back in the same place a tag would be.
And then found out it wasn't necessary because the designer had added shaping to bring up the back of the neck and lower the front. (Obviously I knew there was shaping because I was knitting it, but I didn't know how effective it would be.)
Sweaters are a lot more comfortable that way. This picture also shows the I-cord bind off that cleanly finishes the edge of the neckline.

The sweater was worked from the bottom up; the sleeves were done first (to the underarm) and then the back and front together.
The pattern included waist shaping so the fit isn't quite so boxy. I ended up having to rework all of those decreases and increases as well because my waist is a different size than my bust and hips. I also shifted the side seam shaping above the waist so the front is wider than the back.
The sleeve cuffs and hem were started with a few rows of stocking stitch before a bit of ribbing.
This gives a rolled edge that looks like the I-cord on the neck edge.
Once I got going, this sweater really flew off the needles. It is a little thicker than yarn I generally work with, but it was still done on fairly small needles (3.75 mm). I really loved working with this lightly spun Icelandic woolly-wool.
Project Stats
: 28 Sep ‘18
Finished: 20 Oct '18
Pattern: Telja by Jennifer Steingass
Materials: Léttlopi in 57 Grey Heather (378g), 0051 White (42g), 1403 Blue (2g), 1703 Mimosa (9g), 9434 Crimson Red (9g), 1406 Spring Green Heather (1 g)

I've never recorded a video of a finished object before, but I was bowled over by all the noise the birds were making and this was my excuse to record them.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Finished...and Not Half Way There

Let's not bury the headline: I have finished all 56 Lucy Boston blocks!!

I started to put the first blocks together on January 20, 2018 and cut the thread on the last block on March 10, 2019.

Following are the final nine blocks. I'll start with the ones that came out of the Third Block contest by Alewives Fabrics. The first one I entered, what I call the pineapple block:
Then we have the tile block, which is my favourite (of these ones):
This is mostly the winning block:
I moved the semi-circle pieces to the corners and switched out the flower pieces for the green furl pieces.

And the last of this set:
I added the tigers after the challenge. I love them - hiding in the flowers.

When my mom took a trip to Pennsylvania she picked up this Normal Rockwell fabric.
By then she knew what size I needed for the motifs and that I only needed a quarter yard. (It's so easy to buy a quarter yard!)

I had fun putting together this bright pink and yellow (and orange) block:
You'll see some of the same fabric in this yellow and blue blend block:
I had some of the pieces for the following block for quite a while.
The fabric with the green lined curly pieces was very limited and I couldn't get enough pieces for a lot of designs. I had several ideas of what to do on the other diagonal but nothing worked. I finally found some fabrics to put together a dark purple "background".

And finally, the mask block:
It took a long time to find eyes for this block. I tried a lot of fabrics with circles and ovals and kept my eyes out for fabrics in the stores for months...and found nothing. I finally tried a lot of the pieces that I had prepared for other blocks but rejected and these ones worked for me.

Sunday I was at church for the afternoon so I took advantage of the large table space and worked on the layout.
I had worked on it once before and didn't land on anything. I tried sorting by colour again and just couldn't work it out (again). I ended up ordering the blocks from most traditional to most unconventional.

Once the blocks were in order, I marked each block's placement on the back.
It's not every quilt block that you can just write on the back! :)

Now it's time to think about sashing. My experience in explaining the sashing is that people don't get it. (Or if they get it once, they've forgotten by the next time we talk about it.) So I have produced pictures!

Here's the basic block:
Around that block, I will sew more of the honeycombs (shown in grey) to make a sort of sashing:
But since the block is not straight on the sides, when the blocks come together, you have these extra square and cross shapes (shown in blue):
Most of the quilts I've seen have a pale colour for the sashing and then brighter or darker fabric for the squares and crosses. Usually the little squares are the same fabric, the center four squares of the cross are fussy cut to make a kaleidescope effect, and the outside squares of the cross are the same colour.

I have been thinking of grey for the sashing for quite a while. There's enough colour in the blocks, a plain solid border would be good. Here's a mock up:
I just put in black for the little squares and crosses because I'm not sure what I'm doing with them and I knew black would show up.

Soon after deciding on grey, I wondered about choosing different shades so that I could build a gradient.
One concern is that the more complicated the sashing, the more it would distract from the blocks. But I think this gradient effect would be noticed and effective from far away (across a room) but not nearly so obvious when you were close up looking at the blocks. Then you would only really see the fabric right around the block.

In the example above, each block is surrounded by the same fabric. My next thought was what if the colour changes didn't line up with the blocks? Something like this:
I have to decide before I can go any further. (Decide, and find fabric in the right shades of grey.)

Back to the title of this post...each block has 24 pieces. The sashing around the block is 24 pieces. So there is just as much sewing in the sashing as the blocks. And then you I have to sew the squares and crosses too. So I'm not quite half way. But certainly the hard part is done. Once I decide which way to go I can make the pieces in bulk and just sew sew sew.

Since I'm not sure which way to go on the squares and crosses, I plan to just sash the blocks and not worry about putting them together yet. The only sad part about moving forward is that my blocks will no longer fit in my binder. I've gotten attached to my binder of blocks!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

True Hope Cowl

About a year ago, my sister and I went to Vogue Knitting Live Chicago. One of the things we picked up was a kit for the True Hope cowl.

Profits support Handspun Hope, an organization providing work and training to women in Rwanda.

The program started with their spun yarn. I don't know if they had sheep in the beginning, but they do now. Besides being handspun, the yarn is also organically dyed with natural plant materials from the area.

I chose one undyed skein and a subtle pink dyed from avocado pits. (Avocado pits! Who knew.)
I didn't start knitting on the cowl until August. It was just the thing I needed when I didn't want to make any decisions and wanted a project that was ready to go. It also filled the time before I left for a trip because I didn't want to start on my travel knitting!

The cowl is double knit so you get the same pattern on the front and back but in reversed colours. I was cruising along pretty well until...
one of my yarns ran out! I had three rows left to go plus the bind off. !! What !! I didn't know what to do about that for a while.

I finally decided to shorten the pattern by three rows (even though that wrecked one of the crosses). It's always fun to ravel double knitting because you can see the two layers so clearly:
I got through the new last three rows and used the undyed for the bind off since I had plenty of that. I tried a bind off with the needles first but I didn't like the look of it. I went with a Kitchener bind off instead knowing it would match the cast on and would perfectly marry the two layers together.

Here it is on the right side of the cowl:
You can see that it's quite a bit looser than the cast on. Instead of trying to adjust all those stitches to pull it in, I went with a "faux" bind off; i.e. crocheted a chain stitch.
The top edge is just the Kitchener stitch
bind off. The lower edge has the crocheted
chain stitch.
This looks a lot like a line of bind off stitches while bringing in the length. I had to experiment to find the right length of chain stitch to avoid it being too tight. And with that done (and a blocking), the cowl was ready for wear!
The cowl is quite thick. It's knit with a heavy aran weight and a double layer on top of that. Because of the thickness it doesn't drape very well. It also bunches up quite a bit behind the neck:
I tried it folded over as well:
The cowl doesn't work very well under a coat, but for an extra layer over a sweater on those "in between" days, it's great.

Project Stats
: 6 Aug '18
Finished: 21 Sep '18
Pattern: True Hope Cowl by Ann Turley Dreith
Materials: Handspun Hope Organic Merino Handspun in undyed and avocado pit, 179 grams total

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Scott Pilgrim vs the Cold

More Christmas knitting to catch up on.

I asked my sister if she had any suggestions of gifts for her daughter. She gave a few ideas and made a comment that her daughter was completely into this little quirky movie "Scott Pilgrim vs the World".

While on Ravelry one day soon after, I thought I'd just search "Scott Pilgrim" because you never know what may turn up. It's amazing what kind of "tributes" knitters can come up with when they love something.

Well, what turned up was the pattern for the hat that the title character wears in the movie.
Picture from Ravelry pattern page.
The pattern was written by the person who knit all the hats for the movie (all six of them). That's pretty cool, right?

I had some brown in the right shade left over from the dress I knit another niece. And I had some blue that was pretty close left over from a sweater.
I got worried that I was going to run out of the brown yarn, so I found some in a Ravelry stash and bought it. I figured I should get two skeins but since there were three in the stash, I just bought all three. I ended up using one. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The hat is worked in the round and is a pretty simple pattern of stocking stitch and reverse stocking stitch stripes. What makes it stand out is the rolled brim and long length and pouchiness at the back.
I didn't think about it when I started, but I have a history of knitting things for this niece. (In a previous year I knit her some Tardis socks.) She got a Dobby sock bookmark too. After the gifts were wrapped but before she opened them, I got a little worried that she would prefer something from a store and not more stuff made by her crazy knitting aunt.
But it doesn't look like she minded! :)
Project Stats
: 10 Nov ‘18
Finished: 2 Dec ‘18
Pattern: Scott Pilgrim Hat (The Original Costume Pattern) by Lulu Bee
Materials: Knit Picks Swish DK, 24633 Bark (90 g) and 24053 Dusk (don't know how much...I didn't weigh the hat before I wrapped it!), mostly leftovers from other projects.

Special thanks to my niece who not only let her mom take pictures but let me post them here!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Dobby Sock Bookmarks

Catching up with Christmas knitting, here are some cute gifts I knit up through the last few months of the year.

I used the A Bookmark for Dobby pattern by Kay Jones of the Bakery Bears podcast and I knit lots of little bookmarks.

I immediately connected with the idea of a sock bookmark since Dobby the elf received a sock (and his freedom) in a book. I just love that story line of the Harry Potter books.
Two socks knit on the drive to a birthday party in September
and a third started that was finished during the party!
Each sock took a couple hours -- it helped that I didn't have to make a pair! :) The pattern was easy to memorize and it's not the end of the world if you miscount a row for two.
Once I had a bunch of socks, I made little tags to insert in the sock to give them a crisp finished look and to drive home the point.
I gave them to several children of friends and my niece, who all seemed to enjoy them.
A great project to use up a lot of my scraps and very fun to do!

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...