Monday, 14 April 2014

Anyone got cable! - A scarf-ghan

Sometimes you have an idea that you know is going to be just awesome and fantastic fun to make but is going to take time to bring to completion. Anyone got Cable! is an ambitious long term project that I'm ready to unveil as a sneak peak now. I started this in January and it's likely to take me the whole year to complete.

So what is it? I call this a scarf-ghan. I was inspired by two free afghan patterns  made modularly sewing up from long strips of knitting; Boy's Afghan by Ann V Gallentine and  the Fisherman Sampler Afghan by Judy Gibson. I'm constantly finding gorgeous scarf patterns that my knitting needles itch to make. But much as I hate to admit it, a girl can have too many scarves. Why not knit all these gorgeous scarves, sew then up together and make a unique, one-of-a-kind lap blanket? A warm snuggly blankie is always useful.

This project is also a designated stash buster. I've been collecting / acquiring (possibly you could call it hoarding) an array of recycled pure wool from our local op shop for a couple of years now. This particular op shop seems to have a unseen mob of little old ladies who recycle old knitted garments into gorgeous balls of crinkle cut yarn. I've been collecting all the neutrals, a beautiful array of cream, eggshell, fawn, tan, mushroom and greys from silver through pearly gray to smoke.
This is a random sample of the selection of neutral coloured yarns I have.

January saw me start with a gorgeous Celtic cable scarf with the most complicated cable chart I've ever attempted. I also love this yarn. It's a gorgeous wool and mohair blend, a soft cream winter white with a smattering of small black fibres. This was a slow but satisfying knit.
Pattern: Everstar Scarf from Josie Mercier from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2013.
In February I changed tack and went for a lace patterned scarf.

Pattern: Falling Water Scarf by Bonnie Sennott. This is a beautiful mock cable and lace pattern and it's free.

The second ball of yarn I used for this was having an exceptionally bad day. It was extremely dodgy with multiple knots. At one stage the back of the scarf almost looked like an Ood’s face with about 20 sets of ends in about 10 cm of knitting. I sewed in ends as I went though and as long as I was careful about hiding them by sewing them in vertically along the knit stitches in the back, it looks good.

Cables again for March though I have to confess I started this in early February casting on and completing one repeat before putting it aside for most of the rest of the  month.
Pattern: Pretzel Scarf by Margie Mitchell from Interweave Holiday Gifts 2013. 

This one was not love at first sight I have to admit. It took me quite a while to warm up the beauty of this one and I wasn't fully sold on it till I was nearly finished. The pattern looks so  much better in bulk so to speak.
This one is officially the April strip but I cast it on and completed it in the last week or so of March. Lace again.
Pattern: Victorian Lace Scarf by Rachel Leverton. Again this is a free pattern.

This is almost the same lace pattern as my Tribute Socks. (See Knitting Gymnastics: Tribute Socks). It was great fun to knit this lace pattern again on a larger scale. It almost flowed off the needles.
April's second strip is a combination of lace and cable and a free pattern: Twisted Ribbons Scarf and Cowl by Kristi Holaas. Here is its progress so far hanging out in the yarn basket in my lounge room.
I'm really loving how all of these are looking together so far. This is going to be a very special rug.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Just rabbitting around

So the KAL / CAL theme for the Womans Weekly group on Ravelry for March was Mad March Hares - make a rabbit / bunny! I didn't need a lot of encouragement. I love me a good knitted toy and haven't made one for a while (if you don't include the great sew-up-a-thon of unfinished toys I undertook in January).

But just what bunny to make? There are so many cute ones out there (and that's probably the ideal theme for a future curating Ravelry post). I looked through my physical pattern stash (lots of books and magazines) and briefly contemplated Alan Dart's Bunny Babes and Beach Boys or Debbie Bliss's Sleepy Bear in a Rabbit Suit which I have made once before as baby shower present.

But then I thought half the fun of playing along in KALs is trying something you wouldn't normally do or being encouraged and supported to try a new technique. And so I thought, I've never knitted a toy in the round. And then I knew the ideal pattern to make... Rabbitty.
Here is the beginning. Rabbitty is began from the bottom up and knitted in the round with short row shaping to create the head and neck. I really like the end result and it was a really quick knit (with the bulk of it being knit in two days) but I don’t think it will become my preferred method.

There are two major issues with making a toy this way. It’s really fiddly to knit a small number of stitches on dpns especially at the beginning of a piece of work. And even more so when you are knitting using a boucle wool. When I was knitting the feet, I’d get half way through the second shaping round and half the stitches would slide off one of the needles I wasn’t using and I’d have to start all over again. Also stuffing the body and then having to knit the last two rows means then you have to be careful not to knit the fibre-fill into the knitting!
Pattern: Rabbitty by Cheezombie. Free pattern from Knitty First Fall 2013.
Needles: 4 mm dpns
Yarn:  Body: Aran 10 ply worsted weight thick and thin multi-coloured boucle from the op-shop - brown, grey, blue, green and black. Tail: 8ply fluffy white snowflake-like baby wool from stash. Eyes: Cleckheaton Country Naturals cream from stash. Oddments of black and pink yarn for eyes, nose and mouth.
Cost: 50 cents
Look at the cute little bunny tail
But he is so cute! (It's all in the eyes!) Rabbitty is also an accomplished maths bunny. Bunnies are inherently mathematical. They are great fans of Fibonacci. He's being following me around, helping me teach classes and getting photographed in odd places and appearing on Twitter and Facebook. He's my new mascot bunny.
My husband reckons that he looks like the rat from Horrible Histories. I'm choosing to ignore this very valid comparison.
I have some more weird mystery wool. I might make another one. After all one bunny is lonely.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Ravellenics - semi competetive knitting

This year the Winter Olympic Games were on in Sochi in Russia from the 7th to the 23rd of February. In Australia, most people would acknowledge that both the summer and winter Olympic games are prime couch potato time. If there's one thing Australians excel at, it is watching other people do sport, crowding into massive sporting stadiums to watch the AFL, spending our weekends at suburban sporting grounds watching our kids play cricket, soccer, rugby or football or watching professionals battle it out on TV from the comfort of our couch in our own lounge rooms.

Knitters the world over look at it a little differently though. All this sport on TV is a good excuse to settle in for some quality sport watching and knitting time. You get the pleasure of watching elite athletes perform at their very best as well of lots of hours to create your next knitted masterpiece.

The Olympics is the pinnacle of this intersection of awesome sport on TV and an excuse to sit in front of a TV for hours at end, knitting needles in hand. Knitters the world over cast on in solidarity at the start of the opening ceremonies of an Olympic games, challenging themselves to complete awesome feats of knitting brilliance and endurance whilst the games run. It's called the Ravellenic Games. I find the Winter Olympics particularly inspiring. It's all that snow and ice and spectators swathed in scarfs and awesome knitted beanies. Knitted garments in a deep snowy winter aren't just fashion accessories; they are essential to human survival. So I can't watch the winter Olympics and not knit (even if it is the tail end of summer in Australia).
So I joined in with my fellow knitters (and crocheters) around the world, signed up for a team and plotted and planned for my medal aspirations.  I trained hard, knitting and crocheting consistently through the heat of an Australian summer. I designed a new Ravatar. I found team TARDIS and climbed in with all the other Who fanatics and the fun began.
And I won three medals. To win a medal you need to complete a nominated project within the time frame of the Olympics and tick off a whole heap of checklists on Ravelry including posting photos of the finished item and tagging your project pages appropriately.

The first was for frogging a project, Arundel. This was a project for future Doctor daughter. I loved it, still love it in fact (and I hate it at the same time). I love the pattern. I love the colour combination. I love the construction (bottom up semi seamless). I love the lace pattern.

I think this is an example of the unseen perils of using stash wool. I used some Paton’s Katie wool which has to be from the late 70s, early 80s. I thought I had enough. I had enough balls (but because they are so old they had no yardage listed). I knitted the body up to the armholes (twice). The first time I had the gauge off just enough that the length of the armholes would have been too short. So I went up to a 4.5 mm needle. I divided for the armholes and knitted to the shoulders and joined them up. I started the sleeves. (The pattern has short sleeves). AND I DIDN’T HAVE ENOUGH YARN. (I swear evil yarn fairies made off with the extra ball I thought I had).

I threw it in the naughty corner and stomped off in disgust for a few months. Then I came up with three plans. Knit the sleeves in a different colour. (The doctor daughter vetoed this one). Frog it (I couldn’t bear to do this). Or three - turn it into a vest. I did eventually do this but was never really happy with it. Now the future Doctor daughter is seriously training for Dance worlds 2015, she is a lean mean fighting machine and this no longer fits. It came home for Christmas and heartbreaking decision was made to frog it.
However, I needed the impetus of the Ravellenics to force me to do this. This is what it ended up as. (At least I have photos of the beauty of the original).
And my project Steampunk on Toast successfully competed in both Mitten Moguls and Lace Luge.
“Steampunk is what happens when goths discover brown”.
One of the things I love doing is naming projects. When I first saw these fingerless mitts in Issue 64 of The Knitter they reminded me of that curious blend of industrial and Victorian sensibilities that is steampunk. I knew I wanted to knit them in a glittery yarn. I’d seen, fondled and ultimately passed up on buying the perfect yarn at the end of last winter on clearance - a wool acrylic blend by Moda Vera called ‘Taylor’. I saw it initially in a beautiful silvery black but after a road trip to a couple of Spotlight stores, I finally found some in brown for a ridiculously cheap price. So warm and toasty lacey wristwarmers and hence Steampunk on Toast
These are my first ever Ravellenics project for Team Tardis. I can see Victorian Clara wearing these.

The yarn is a core of wool covered in a silvery acrylic mesh. Despite the glitter, it is smooth and not scratchy. It also knits up incredibly smooth and doesn’t catch or pull.
I swatched and made gauge and then cast on on the 8th February knitting the first garter stitch tube which forms the glove base the same day. I made a modification to the pattern when it came to joining up the tube. The pattern suggested leaving the stitches live and joining to the other side of the tube by sewing. I left the stitches live, turned to work to the inside and picking up loops from the cast on edge, knitted them together one at a time with the live stitches and cast off. I joined 30 stitches, cast off 10 stitches on the live edge only for the thumb opening and joined up the remaining ten stitches.
On the 9th of February, I made the first lace frill, stitched the seam closed and stitched this onto the glove at the bottom of the thumbline whilst wearing the glove on my left hand. I did eight repeats of the lace rather than the seven suggested in the pattern just to give a little more length to reach comfortable around the glove. I also attached the frill wrong side out as I think the lace pattern is more defined this way. Cast on one or two new pieces each day and seamed as I went. I finished these on the 12th February 2014 about 10 pm whilst watching Olympics and the photo shoot took place on Saturday 15th February 2014. Thanks to Mel the hand model.
And a I won a prize for playing along with Team TARDIS - beautiful shawl pattern called Bequin. This is my planned April project.

Knitting is clearly an integral part of the Winter Olympics. Even the Finnish Snowboard coach was caught on camera knitting at the top of the slope.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Curating Ravelry: Tribute to the Doctor

You know how special it is to find a TV show that you can sit down and watch with the whole family and all thoroughly enjoy it? Well for our family that has been Doctor Who. The Head of The Household and I are old doctor fans from way back. He grew up with Scarf Doctor and Peter Davison (or Celery Doctor as my kids affectionately refer to him) is the Doctor of my childhood memories. We started watching Dr Who as a family at the beginning of the new reboot with the 9th doctor and it's a must watch family TV date whenever it's on. (Lazy Sundays on the couch in our PJs watching Doctor Who and eating brunch).

Doctor Who has so many iconic images and knitters and crocheters the world over have turned their needles to some amazing tributes. My criteria for this collection were that they had the be free patterns and things I'd love to make. (I think this is just the first of a series of posts on this topic as I found sooo many cool things).

Want a Tardis with that?

Tardis ipad Cover by Ashley Ford
© Ashley Ford
The Dr Who Tardis Afghan by Carrie Fritsche.
by hedoknitstic Flickr
TARDIS Tara's TARDIS Socks by Tara Wheeler
© Tara Wheeler
Tardis hat by Randi Sanders
© Randi Sanders
Bigger on the inside shawl by Kate Atherley
spacer model: Kate Atherley
spacer photos: Amy Singer
Bigger on the inside mittens by Ampersand Designs
© ampersand designs
TARDIS stuffed plush by Penwiper
© pixelbrid

Daleks are really cute misunderstood creatures

INSULATE! hat by Amy van de Laar
© Amy van de Laar

 Extermiknit! by Penwiper
© Penwiper 2007
Dalek Amigurumi by Lucy Ravenscar
© Lucy Collin
Mummy's Little Dalek Jumper by Allison Bitter
© Allison Bitter, 2012

And what's a Doctor without a scarf?

The iconic Doctor Who scarf has so many variations over six seasons. I've just picked one of the most popular here (and in a yarn that is easily acessible in lots of places).

See Tara Wheeler's Site dedicated to knitting the authentic scarf in all its forms; The Witty Little Knitter. Here are patterns in number of different suggested yarns for all the variations.

Doctor Who Scarf - Season Thirteen in Cascade 220 by Tara Wheeler
Tardis Logo Scarf by Kristen Danley
© Kristen Danley 2012
Police Box Scarf by Penwiper
© Penwiper

And of course a sonic screwdriver?

Knitted Sonic Screwdriver V.2 by R J Daae
by RJDaae
Eleven's Sonic screwdriver by Kristen Danley
© Kristen Danley 2011