KFYS Update and Knitting Upside-down

I’ve been knitting from my stash for two months now and I’m pretty chuffed with my progress, so I thought I’d mark the occasion with a few big colourful ‘x’s.

The yellow ‘x’s are for yarn I’ve knit up (and then put the leftovers back in the stash) or are WIPs. The orange ‘x’s are for yarn I removed from the stash with the intention of selling or op shopping it.

See the big ‘x’ over the box of red mohair laceweight at the top right? Well, now that I have a knitting machine the mohair might be making it back into the stash. I’ve always thought about knitting it up into a big blanket, but since mohair makes me itch it can’t be a blanket for me, and if I knit it by hand for someone else it would have to be someone pretty darn special who I know would go into spasms of gratitude for the gift. A knitting mashine, however, might make for speedier, less itchy knitting and less weight of expectation on the gift recipient.

With High Verocity finished, I could have thrown myself into the Kimono Top, but I was in the mood for something a bit more challenging than row upon row of stocking stitch. For one night the lounge was covered in magazines, books and yarn while I swatched, weighed yarn and considered carefully what to tackle. Everything I wanted to make seemed to require more yarn than I had (and the yarns I had were either from a small yarn dyer in the UK, handspun, or bargain bin batches from Aussie Country Spinners, so there was no chance of buying extra).

Eventually I decided on this:

The pattern is called “Pink Mimosa”, but since the yarn I’m using is purple and ‘Pink Mimosa’ just sounds like some sort of wierd sexy lingerie line to me, I’m calling this one “Violet Femme”.

I’m doing two crazy things with this pattern.

1) The specified yarn is a cotton/linen blend. I’m using a lambswool/angora/cashmere blend. Usually substituting different fibres is a bad idea, but the pattern is a pretty basic shape. And the swatch was right on gauge.

2) The pattern calls for about twice the weight of yarn than I have. Cotton/linen is usually a lot heavier than lambswool/angora/cashmere, and the cakes I wound up certainly feel and look like enough. But to make sure, I’m reversing the pattern, knitting it top down. In the round.

Like I said, I was in the mood for something a bit more challenging.

High Verocity Jumper

Around this time last year I kept seeing this ad in magazines:

I really took a fancy to that jumper. Maybe that’s why I make the unusual purchase of a jumper’s worth of varigated yarn while in Canberra later in the year. But right from the start I had ideas of designing something knit in vertical strips rather than than horizontal stripes. Then when I started Knit From Your Stash I decided designing takes too long and I should just go out and get a pattern:

Amazing how close this pattern is to the jumper in the pic above it.

I worked out I could still do vertical strips using the usual method used for intarsia. So I knit and knit and knit (often while watching Top Gear) and yesterday I sewed and sewed and sewed. I sewed for about four hours, first the ends, then the seams. I discovered that I’d put the divisions between the strips on the collar on the inside, which meant the collar was inside out, which meant that the loopy bits where the old and new yarn twist around each other were visible:

I could have reknit the collar. I could have carefully pulled out the pick-up row, sliding the stitches of the body and collar onto needles, then turned the collar and grafted it back on again.

Naaaaah. This is the High Verocity Jumper, full of fast car associations. 500 brake horse power and 0 to 60 in 2 point 5 seconds. I felt the neeeeed for speeeeed. I overstitched a column of fake stitches over the joins. Problem solved neatly hidden.

While seaming, I considered the ribbony bits in the original jumper design. I figured I may as well put them on. If I don’t like them, I can always rip them out and finish off the seams.

The sleeves look good:

But the collar didn’t.

I’d put the ribbony bits on the inside edges, leaving the outside to fold and gape however it wanted to. Once I saw a photo of it, I knew the designer of the original had the right idea. So I sewed up the inside bit and moved the ribbony bits to the outside.

Much better.

I’m glad I made the collar 5cm shorter, too. It’s quite high enough, thankyou very much. Now I just have to wait a month or two for the weather to get cold enough for me to wear it.

Scrubbing Up The Beast

A few days ago an email came up on the Melbourne s’n’b list offering a free knitting machine to anyone who could pick it up. It was in a suburb not too far away, and one we could do a quick detour to if we were heading to the city, so I put my hand up for it.

The lovely lady who gave it to me (thankyou Maree!) warned me that it was grubby. She was right. When I took it out of its box I got oil all over my hands. It was practically dripping with it. Old oil had dried and turned orange on the face of the machine, too. And if you happend to touch the slidy bar that the thingo runs over you got black grease all over you.

Basically, it needed a good clean, then re-oiling and re-greasing where the oil and grease were supposed to be, so yesterday I did just that. Which included an hour or so of cursing from the beau as he took over to work out how to unscrew the main bit from the case, and a trip to Bunnings and Clark Rubber to replace the rubber feet and some foam.

Five hours later, it was all shiny and clean:

Only then did I notice something amusing. Look closely and note the model number:

I hope this isn’t a bad omen!

By the time I’d finished I was too tired to do more than peep at the ribbing attachment, or to see if I could get it working. Another time.

In WIP news, I was able to return to High Verocity last night since the temp had returned to a civilised range. In the pattern photo the collar was right up under the jaw of the models. While I love a good high collar, I’m a bit sensitive to wool. I usually wear a cotton skivvy underneath to prevent itching, but no skivvy is going to reach high enough for this pattern. So, after trying it on to see if I liked the height, I decided to finish the collar 5cm before the pattern said to.

Today I’m going to sew it all up. Tomorrow I’ll post pics.

The Manly Mega Socks

Ah, the satisfaction of a project finished, tried on, photographed, folded up and put in the drawer, then blogged about.

Naturally, I headed straight for the sock yarn storage box and picked out a new project. The cotton-wool blend tempted me, but I want to see if wearing and washing the first pair I made softens them up a bit. Trouble is, it’s been too hot for even cotton socks so it’ll be a while before I’ve worn them enough to judge.

I also considered some Knittery merino sock in ‘passionfruit’, but I haven’t yet decided whether I want to do them plain or with a stitch pattern. So instead I took out a cake of Sunshine Yarns sock yarn in ‘blacksmith’ – a varigation of black-grey-white – and some black patonyle. I’ve been meaning to try a method of spiralling two yarns around a sock and I reckon these two yarns will suit. If it works, I’ll take pics.

If it doesn’t… pretend I never mentioned it!

Keeping Your Cool

The weather here in Melbourne, Australia, has been revolting. At least, that’s my opinion. I used to have a neighbour who would sit outside in the sun, a look of bliss on his face, whenever it got this hot who would disagree with me.

I come from a long line of women who can’t stand the heat. We serve salad and cold meat at Christmas if there was the slightest chance the temp might approach 30. We hibernate in summer. On the weekend it hit 38 celcius. That’s 101 fahrenheit. And the humidity. Oh, the humidity. Left me feeling like I’d been attacked with cans of spray adhesive and cooking oil.

Our poor little aircon wasn’t meant for extremes like this, so to give it the best chance we closed all the blinds, shut off as much of the house as possible and put both fans on. This meant knitting in very dim light, or in a narrow shaft of light from the small gap in the blinds if I dared to open them.

Humidity leads to sticky, stiff knitting, but that’s never stopped me before. You just have to choose your projects carefully.

I made a start on High Verocity’s collar before the heatwave, but haven’t touched it since. Having the whole body of a jumper in your lap while manipulating thick wool yarn is not a pleasant situation in weather like this. Instead I’ve made good inroads into the Kimono Top, finishing one sleeve and starting another. I also started another crochet sunhat.

This one is for me. I have to say, the yarn – the Cotone from the stash post – is full of knots. Knots seem to be my curse lately. First there was the Vero yarn knot problems, then this happened:

Knitting away on the second Manly Mega Sock, I noticed that the colour had changed rather suddenly. Here’s the problem:

Not a knot, but a join nonetheless. Unfortunately, several rows of the colour graduation were missing, and it was very obvious.

I have no problems getting Mega Boots Stretch socks to match. My method is a bit laborious, but not too much if you have a ball winder. I literally unwind the ball, letting the yarn gather in ‘puddles’ for each colour repeat, onto a flat and pale surface – in good light. Usually there’s a midpoint between the repeats. In this case it was the purple bit. I found there were two colour repeats:

1) Purple to red to purple
2) Purple to red to orange to red to purple

I got a puddle of 1 first, then a puddle of 2. That was enough to knit one sock. But the next repeat was a 2, and the next, so I had to go hunting for another 1 + 2 to knit the next sock with. It just happened that there was a 1 + 2 + 1/4 of a repeat at the end of the ball, so I cut the yarn at the beginning of the 1 and wound the end part up on the ball winder. The rest was wound up and set aside as leftovers.

Fixing a badly matched yarn break was a new challenge. First I’d need to know how much yarn knit up into a round. I marked the yarn on the needles with a knot, frogged a round, then marked it again. I cut a length of white yarn to be my measure.

Then I frogged to the point where the join was and cut it. I unravelled more yarn from the ball until there was a discernable colour change, then used my measure to work out how many rows it would take to get there. I noted where that change happened on my finished sock and marked it, then counted back the number of rows and marked that place, too

Now I knew where I’d have to rejoin the yarn. All I had to do next was find a bit of yarn to fill the gap. Fortunately the 1/4 repeat at the end of the ball was the right part of the graduation to use for the ‘patch’. I started where the colour looked like it matched and knit until I’d reached where the marker was on the finished sock, and returned to the original yarn.

Problem fixed.

The three safety pins mark where the problem started, where to return to the original ball, and where I’d found a discernable colour change to work back from.

All this problem solving happened in sweltering heat, so I’m amazed it worked at all. But to help me keep cool I had these:

Berry Combo icy poles. Take 1 can of berry combo (berries in syrup). Spoon fruit into icy pole moulds. Top up with remaining syrup. Freeze.

They taste really good on a 38/101 degree day.

More Linky Blingky

Oooaaaah. Bonsai. Must knit Bonsai.

Interweave Knits Spring

I wonder if I have anything substitutable in my stash. I certainly don’t have any bamboo yarn, but I reckon this pattern would knit up just as well in a mammal-derived fibre.

Went shopping at Forest Hill Chase on Saturday, and what did I find in the newsagent there? The IK winter issue. Three IK winter issues. After having given up and ordering it from the other side of the country. Sigh.

I did, however, buy The Craftster Guide to Nifty, Thrifty, and Kitschy Crafts after spending ten minutes cracking up laughing in the bookstore, and tripping over other customers to show the beau the more hilarious projects. Handbag made of popsicles, anyone? Bracelet made of your old toothbrushes? Wanna melt your old lps in the oven to make cool ruffled bowls?

Linkety Links

In local knitting shop news, The Wool Shop city store has closed. Thankfully their Moorabin and Surrey Hill stores are still open, and they are trying to find a new location for a city store.

First there was the Liza Souza sock colourway, and some other fund-raising booby themed products for Violet of Lime & Violet podcast. Now there are Boobrock stitchmarkers by Ginger_nut at Pierre the Yarn Snob. Go look. They just crack me up.

I’m also seriously tempted by Hanami by Melanie of Pink Lemon Twist. I’m just not a lace-loving girl but, as one commented said, this is so beautiful it would be tempting just to display it as a wall hanging.

Thanks to Micki from a thing for string I’ve discovered a Yarnival. Some interesting blog entries in there.

Another Way Of Looking At Stash

Another steenky hot day today. Too hot to work, but also too hot to knit. Not too hot to surf the internet endlessly, though.

It’s days like this that I read through Knitty articles. Usually I’m too busy, so I skim through and read a few that catch my attention, then leave the rest. Today I discovered one called “It’s not a stash … it’s a collection” in which the author, Kate Antonova, considers her yarns from a collector’s point of view. What I found most interesting was how the categorised the yarns in her stash. It’s probably an indication of how bored I was today that I decided to open up the stash and sort it into similar categories.

A stash is a personal thing, so it’s no surprise that only a few of her categories applied to my stash, and I had to come up with a few of my own.

First there’s the Precious Yarns. These are the yarns that are too good to knit. I have only one:

A beautiful handspun skein of silk that was the first yarn I ever bought knowing it was a thing of beauty in itself, and I need never knit it up.

Kate’s second category was Souvenir Yarns. Oh, yes I know that one well. I came back from the UK with quite a lot of it. Yet when I put it together, I was impressed at how little was still left unused.

I found I had another pile of yarns that related to the Souvenir Yarns category, but which weren’t bought on holidays. I call this category the Because I Was There category. It’s the yarn you buy when you visit a shop or yarnmaker, and feel you must come away with something.

I have no yarns to suit Kate’s Bathing Yarns, but there’s a category that I’ve always had in the back of my mind: Friend Yarns. These are yarns a friend gave me, or made. I know how much pleasure people get when you make something out of a yarn they gave you, or made, so I don’t like to let those yarns languish in the stash forever.

Kate’s Ambiton Yarns didn’t really apply to me, but I substituted with another category of my own. Freaky Fibres are yarns that are made from something whacky. They’re so innovative or wierd, you have to buy some even though you have no idea what you’ll make. I currently only have some banana yarn that qualifies.

For Shame Yarns, I have to admit I do have a small box of acrylic, but it’s only for emergencies. Nothing suggested itself as a Dessert Yarn, or if it did it already sat firmly in another category. But I have one classic One Skein Wonder. This is the yarn you only bought one ball of, because it’s too expensive.

Next Kate talks about Phase Leftovers – yarn left over from a time when you had a particular interest in a technique or style of knitting. I figure it’s easier to just call this part of my yarn stash The Leftovers. There’s plenty of it.

Curious and Curiouser didn’t apply. Either I haven’t been knitting long enough to forget why I bought something, or I’ve given anything worthy of this category to the op shop. So I’ll skip to Best Friends, the yarn you come back to again and again. In my case, that’s Bendy and good old Cleckheaton 8ply.

That still left me with a lot of yarn that clearly required new categories. The most obvious was Bargain Yarns, the ones you buy at sales or from the manufacturer’s factory shop, or at op shops. Some of these buys are good, some not so good. I’ve obviously been very good at buying bargain yarn. This was, by far the biggest category:

Then I invented a category for my handspun called I Made This:

And that left me with just three lonely balls of cotton that just didn’t fit with any of the previous categories, mine or Kate’s. How should I classify them? What was my intention when I bought them?

Then I realise something very, very indicative of my buying habits.

The one defining factor with these three balls of yarn was that I bought them for a specific purpose. Not because they were pretty. Not because they were cheap or expensive. Not because they were made from some whacky fibre.

Perhaps I should call them my Non Spontaneous Purchase Yarns.

(You may have noticed I’ve left out my sock yarns. I wasn’t quite sure whether to split them up or not. Some could have fit into Friend Yarns, but the rest…? Not sure. It seems there’s a whole other very sock-specific drive that applies when buying sock yarn. Maybe they should have a category of their own.)

The Sunset Hat

Way back mid last year my Secret Pal sent, along with other goodies, a ball of Filatura Di Crossa 127 Print. I was delighted, since I’d fondled this yarn in the shops many times.

Each time I did, the yarn spoke to me. It said, “I’d make a fabulous hat”. Fondling my gift yarn, I heard it repeat the same suggestion.

“A hat,” it said. “You’ve got to make me into a hat.”

“No,” I replied, just as I had every time this yarn made suggestive comments to me before. “I don’t need another hat.”

A month or so back, having started Knit From Your Stash, I decided it was time to knit up that 127 Print. I dug the ball out of the stash.

“I’d make a fine hat,” it whispered.

I resolved to close my ears to the yarn. To ignore it’s seductive tones. The yarn was going to be a headband – or a ‘panta’. Wide and warm, it would keep hair from my face and warm my ears. I started knitting. The yarn bristled in indignation. It was so scratchy, I knew my poor ears would not be able to bear it. I frogged and considered fingerless mitts.

(“A hat,” the yarn said.)

Same itchiness problem, I guessed. So instead I knit a long rectangle in one sitting, all the time holding the vision of a smooth, square dictionary cover in my imagination. I sewed it up and slipped it on the dictionary. The rectangle gaped and stretched, refusing to lie flat and straight. It was shabby and awful. I unpicked it. What now?

“A HAT,” the yarn said.

So I basted the ends of the rectangle together and discovered the length exactly fit my head. Basting the top into an “x”, I tried it on. Cute… but really a bit too foofy for my tastes.

“But knit up in a basic hat pattern, I’d look great,” the yarn whispered.

“But you’re too scratchy!” I retorted.

It fell silent. I unpicked it and set the rectangle aside. Then I remembered Grumperina’s post about lining a hat with silk.

“See,” the yarn said triumphantly. “You can make a hat!”

Last weekend I took careful gauge measurements and frogged it. Then two night ago, wanting a quick, satisfying knit, I cast on for a hat. After I finished it yesterday morning, I went searching on the internet for silk yarn. I quickly realised that silk lining was going to cost as much as a three-course restaurant meal, so I went searching for cotton. Just when I was about to bid on some at ebay I remembered that I have some black Bendy cotton already in my stash.

So I fished it out. Picked up stitches. Knit and knit and knit and knit…

And there it is:

My new hat. Now I have to admit, the yarn was right. It does make a fine hat. And it’s being insufferably smug about the whole thing.

But I don’t mind. I love the colours. I love the geometricy spirally top.

I love the nice soft lining to protect my poor sensitive ears.
And when I downloaded the photos this morning, I found pics on my camera of the lovely sunset we had two nights ago. The colours remind me of those in the stripes of this yarn. So I’m calling this one the Sunset Hat.

The moral of this story? When the yarn talks, listen. (Either that, or see a shrink.)

What Else Is There To Do?

Blogger forced me to upgrade today. When I clicked on the old Blogger sign in it took me to the new Blogger sign in. Not that there was much reason to resist the change, but last time I tried it stuffed me around so much I gave in and have been avoiding trying again.

This time it appears to have worked. So far. Fingers crossed.

Thankyou to everyone who commented on my last post. I’m sleeping a bit better, thanks to good old evening primrose oil, but still stressed and feeling low. The beau doesn’t appear to be all that bothered, but he seems to be in the chilled-out all-the-time-in-the-world honeymoon stage of being unemployed after 22 years at his old job. I don’t really want to remove him from this state.

(But I think if I have to ask him to ring the architect one more time I may just pack a suitcase.)

It’s a good thing I’m enjoying the knitting of this:

The first Manly Mega Sock is done. I’ve started the toe of the pair.

I also finished the second sleeve of the High Verocity Jumper. I tried to take photos this morning, but they all came out blurry. It seems my hands are particularly shaky at the moment.

One annoying thing about this yarn:

Joins. It wouldn’t be so bad if the manufacturer actually bothered to match the colour. Or if there weren’t so many joins. I bought 13 balls. Four or five of them have had joins, and none of the colours matched. Either I’m unlucky, or that means 25% of Vero balls have mismatched joins in it. Not great odds, that.

I got most of this knitting done yesterday. My back is sore from knitting most of the afternoon and evening. Ironically, I actually didn’t want to be knitting all day because I knew it would stuff my back up. I wanted to be doing a whole lot of other things that I can’t do because a) there is no space here to do it, b) most of my craft and art stuff is still in storage, c) the garden is covered in rubbish, d) there is no chance in hell that the beau was going to agree to spend the day at a native plant garden centre.

Thankfully we’ve finally tracked down a gym almost close enough to call ‘local’, and I’m hoping I’ll get nice and fit from pounding out my frustrations on the treadmill on a regular basis.