Monday, June 22, 2015

Completed - Cardigan for my mum

Finally, another non-selfish knitting project!

This is kind of an old knit now, but I made my mum a cardigan for Mother's Day.
I love the cables up the fronts and the back!

It fits mum but probably could be a little bigger.  But it was because I ran out of yarn!  I don't know why I didn't buy enough.  I ran out before I got to the button bands.  So I had to do some creative shortening of the sleeves (which turned out ok because they were too long anyway), and undid my swatches, and ALSO had to cut off all my long tails and use them too!  The button bands are not quite as wide as I'd like but they do the job.

That was a very stressful evening.  But done phew!  I ended up having to seam it with some different yarn, which was not quite the same colour.  Oh well you can't tell!

I do love Amy Herzog's pattern!  It was a fun interesting knit :-)
One reason why this took so long to write is that Blogger was being weird!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Completed - Canopy shawl

I made another lovely shawl!  This one is for keeping my neck and shoulders snuggly and warm.
Pattern: Canopy
This shawl has three repeating sections: A and B, which look the same except are mirror image, and a stocking stitch section.  These three sections are repeated three times, with four stitches increased on each right-side row.  This makes the triangular shape!
By the end, your rows are over 200 stitches long!  
This yarn, Road To China Light, is made of 65% baby alpaca, 15% silk, 10% camel and 10% cashmere.  It is so snuggly and warm and incredibly soft!  Unfortunately, as it is hand dyed, there is quite a bit of variation in each skein and you can clearly see in the photo below where I changed skeins. It's not a huge deal, but the middle skein I used had much more orangey tones.
I know you're supposed to knit a few rows of each skein to avoid this stuff, but I don't like doing that as I worry it will come undone.
Ugg boots for the win.
The border was the trickiest bit, being knit at right-angles to the shawl.  I imagine it's a bit like entrelac? Anyway this was a lovely shawl to work on and to wear.  Do recommend!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

ANOTHER Miette cardigan!

Yes I made another one.  Suddenly I decided I needed a dark red cardigan in my wardrobe with which to go to Japan in February.  So, I used some stash yarn and whipped this up in less than 2 weeks!
A fairly unflattering photo but I was on the couch!  
I loved working with this yarn.  Bendigo Woollen Mills, please re-release it!  It's a very soft 100% wool yarn, DK weight, with a couple of slightly different colours plied together.  This deep red is a mixture of a magenta-red and an orange-red.
My buttons are vintage stash buttons.  
Because the yarn is thinner, I did an extra repeat of the lace pattern down the front, and since I had so much yarn left I did long sleeves.  I still could have done with a little more length in the body.
These are photos of me in a Japanese fabric shop - it was amazing!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

First Granville blouse!

I jumped on the bandwagon and made myself a wonderful Granville blouse!
For those who don't know, this is one of two new blouse patterns from Sewaholic.  (The other, the Oakridge blouse, will be coming soon to my life I'm sure).
The backstory on this is that we were about to go to Japan and I decided that I needed a blouse.  TWO days before we left.  So I kind of sewed myself crazy in those two days and wound up with a pretty good shirt.

Here's me after sewing for two days straight.  I sewed that skirt too.
I made the non-pocketed version out of some vintage cotton a friend gave me.
I am between sizes but went a size down, because I looked at the finished measurements and decided that there was too much wearer's ease for my liking.  It turned out pretty snug but comfortable for me.  I had been warned that Sewaholic patterns are quite hippy (i.e. big at the hips, not wears tie-dye at music festivals and believes in crystals), but sizing down worked fine for my normal sized hips.
I made a couple of super spacktarded errors, completely due to me being in such a rush.  I didn't mark the wrong side of my fabric, thinking I could tell the difference (I couldn't), and so have two plackets that go the same way instead of mirror image.  I know, super dumb.  Also it took me like two hours to figure out how to do that yoke, and I had to unpick it twice.  Also I sewed one dart on the right side and had to undo it, except then unpicked the wrong one, etc.  I had to re-do a bunch of stuff because I was rushing.
It turns out that when you rush and cut corners, you take twice as long because you're always unpicking.
However, the only actual thing wrong with my completed shirt is the one placket being the wrong way round.  Apart from that it's great!  It made a really good layer in Japan when it was cold.  Also while in Japan I bought a bunch more fabric to make more Granville shirts!  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Completed - Kouyou Shawl

I finally made my first shawl!
I found the construction really interesting and easy to do.  The lovely triangular shape is made by increasing at the middle and ends of each row.  It was a really well written pattern, very clear and easy to follow.
The lace section took easily three times as long as the stocking stitch section, but I found it pretty interesting!  It's always fun seeing the pattern emerge.

These photos are of the shawl blocking on a towel.  It was incredible how much better it looked after blocking! 

I made this shawl to go with a particular dress.  We are going to Japan at the end of this month for our friend's wedding on the first day of spring.  I had read some articles on what to wear to a Japanese wedding and they all said WEAR A SHAWL!
I think I might have been bitten by the shawl bug!  I enjoyed knitting it SO much, I want to make more now.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Completed - owl eyes cardigan

So while I've been recuperating from my surgery, I knit a cardigan!
This is "Ginny's Cardigan", from the Interweave Harry Potter special magazine. While I was in America I picked up a copy of the pattern.
I used Berocco Ultra Alpaca in a brand new colourway which I can't find on ravelry.
My buttons are shell buttons from my stash. I think I got them from a garage sale!
I made a few changes to the pattern. I shortened the amount of ribbing on the sleeves (got sick of it) and also shortened the sleeves considerably. My arms are short. I also opted for ribbing around the neckline instead of garter stitch, and I put a buttonhole in the neck band too.
I love the lace panel. It looks like owl eyes!
This cardigan is great because it's long enough to wear with jeans but it doesn't look weird with skirts either. It's The Perfect Length! One criticism is that the sleeves are incredibly tight, especially near the wrist. I figured they'd loosen up with wear but they're still pretty tight.
I also made the blouse I'm wearing - it's New Look 6107 (or thereabouts) and the fabric is a silk from Liberty that my old boss gave me. She must have bought it twenty years ago! Isn't it a great 90s print!
These photos were taken on one of the first walks I took after my surgery so no makeup. That's why I look a bit bedraggled. But you don't read this for my face do you! Do you?
I am writing this post using Blogsy, which is an iPad app for writing blog posts. We're going overseas in a month and I want to blog without my laptop! So far it's ok, but I think anything on iPad will be a bit cumbersome. Does anyone have a suggestion?


Friday, January 9, 2015

How to make colourwork patterns using Excel

How to use Microsoft Excel to create colourwork for existing patterns
“Christmas Jumper” charts
After the popularity of the Christmas Jumper I made, I decided to share my process.  Many people on Ravelry asked me to share my pattern - however I used a commercial pattern for the construction and only originally created the colourwork.
In this tutorial I will show how to put your own unique colourwork designs on an existing jumper pattern, using Microsoft Excel.
For those wanting some charts from my Christmas Jumper, they follow after the tutorial.  You will need to space these charts to fit your unique stitch count.
Before we begin, you will need a pattern to draw up.  I have chosen a free women’s sweater pattern from Rowan as an example, and will take you through the entire process.  You should use a pattern you have with the shaping you like.
This is easiest with a set-in sleeve pattern as you don’t need to worry about raglan or round yoke decreases.  It’s also best to have side shaping (if any shaping) instead of darted shaping. It creates nice flat canvas for colourwork.
One disadvantage of using this kind of pattern is that you usually have to work it flat, whereas colourwork is easier in the round.  You can always convert flat patterns to round, but will need to steek the sleeve holes (an advanced technique I won’t go into here).  For this example, I will colour in a set-in sleeve pattern with the intention of doing stranded colourwork on the knit and purl sides of the fabric.
My size is XS so this tutorial will be in that size.
Let the tutorial begin!
First open up Excel and make all the cells square.  Do this by selecting all (command a) and dragging the vertical cell wall to make a square.
Now we need to make an outline of the pattern on the spreadsheet.  Go down the page quite a lot (if your pattern is bottom-up like mine) and a few squares in from the edge.  Check to see how many stitches to cast on, and colour in a row of that many squares.  Colour in by highlighting the squares and clicking on the “fill” button.  For me, it is 99 stitches.
The first section is usually rib, which I like to make a darker colour so I remember later not to colour it.  In my case, I work 14 rows in rib.  So I’ll drag up from the 99 stitches 14 rows and colour that whole block.  So far you’ve got a rectangle.
Now we get to outline the sweater.  Following the shaping (if you have any), outline the edges of the sweater.  For me, I am supposed to knit 8 rows and then decrease on each side, and then every 6 rows, and then every 4 rows.  Then it increases again.
Sometimes you will come across something like “Knit until piece measures -cm from cast on edge”.  This is when you’ve got to look at your gauge and figure out the maths!  Mine says “continue straight until back measures 38cm from cast on edge”.
First, look at your row gauge.  Mine is 32 rows to 10cm.  So there’s 3.2 rows in 1cm.  3.2 x 38cm = 121.6 (let’s call it 122).  I’ve already done 109 rows from the cast on edge, so there’s only 13 rows to go.  Draw them in.
Now usually you have to decrease for the armholes.  Just like in the waist shaping, draw it in.  Continue until the cast off edge.
For most standard set-in sleeve jumpers the front and the back are very similar.  For mine, it only begins differing at the neckline. Rather than make a whole new drawing for the front, I use “borders” on the cells to outline where the front is different from the back.  Just following the outline like we did with the rest of the sweater.  This means that your front and back will have identical colourwork (except for the top middle which will be absent in the front).
I didn’t do it here, but it can be helpful to draw a line down the centre.  This just helps you keep the patterns symmetrical.
Now is the fun part! Colouring in!  Start experimenting with different geometric designs.  Good resources are cross stitch charts, existing fair isle patterns, and pixel art. Simple little bands are easy to make, you only need two or three rows to make them effective.  Snowflakes are a bit trickier, so you might want to look something up and copy it.
Keep in mind that you don’t want too many stitches before changing colour. If you leave one colour too long your floats can become unweildly or tight.
For my example, I used hearts, snowflakes, squirrels, and a pretty border pattern.  I love the way it ended up!
When repeating a pattern across the jumper, you need to keep the design centred.  This means that when the stitch count is different (e.g. at the waist shaping) you may need to adjust the spacing between the motifs.  My two rows of squirrels are spaced differently to keep them centred.
Sleeves can be lovely with full colourwork, but I prefer sleeves with only a little colourwork.  If I were to knit this I would put the border pattern or hearts motif just after the cuff ribbing on the sleeves and leave the rest of the sleeves blank.
A great thing about making this outline of the pattern is that you don’t need to read the pattern.  All of your shaping is worked into the chart. This chart is all you need!

Please check out my Ravelry page and my designs on Ravelry:

Christmas Jumper charts!