Don’t they look teeny?


I’ve crocheted these mock cable mitts up as I was putting off the sewing. Mattress stitch is fiddly to do well and even worse in poor light. I used a 3mm hook into the single loops of the stitches on the edge of each side (holding the right sides together) feeling very glad I’d thought to leave a very long tail of yarn for sewing up. Crochet has made a dull task enjoyable.

Don’t they look teeny lying there on the table? But see – when they’re on my hands they’re really stretchy and warm, with the double rib edging rows and bouncy mock cable. I increased the bottom ribbing to 12 rows for this pair, rather than the 6 of my first so my wrists would be well covered and warm.

The pair of mitts weigh 40g so if you wanted to try making some with only 1 ball of Knitcol Trends by Adriafil (this is colour 061) you could probably chance it. I tend to buy yarn in twos just in case. I’m a bit scared of playing yarn chicken because I usually lose.

Using 3.75mm needles (it’s DK yarn) I cast on 47 stitches, and knit double rib for 12 rows. Then I repeated a 4 row mock cable pattern 12 times and ended with 2 rows of double rib. Easy! Don’t forget to leave a gap for your thumb when sewing or crocheting them up.

Yarn Along 

I finished my mock cable knits last night, all bar the boring sewing up. I’ve just noticed that the right mitt is the right way up in the photograph – so you can see the mock cable pattern – but the left is not. I’ll pretend I positioned them like that deliberately to show you both sides, but the truth is a repair man was here and it was all a bit of flurry. He’d just had a call and was rushing off as wife has been in a car accident (unharmed, though the other lady might be) and so I wasn’t really concentrating.

I’ve always got an audio book on the go, they’re a great distraction on long journeys or while walking. Clare Balding’s first book My Animals and Other Family was an excellent listen as she writes and narrates so well. Rather than rapsodize about Walking Home: My Family and Other Rambles I’ll link to The Telegraph review, it’s very good.

I’m joining in with  Ginny’s Yarn Along again. The linky thing’s open for a week if you want to as well.

Definitely not knitting 

I’ve got to finish darning my motif blanket (it’s going well and best described as: slow but steady) and crochet lots more stripes. So, I’m still determinedly not going to start knitting anything, or begin any new project, until they’re finished. 

 I can still buy the occasional treats though. A gorgeous pottery coaster and a skein of the most deliciously soft yarn which is 97% baby alpaca, (see the silver sparkles in it?)  along with a little pattern for wristies with a mock cable pattern.
  It would be foolish to begin a new make, when I’ve really got to finish the overdue motif blanket which is for someone else. Equal pleasure can surely be gained from darning and half watching a Pirates of the Caribbean film can’t it? 

   Bright stripes are good for the day after the night before, when one by one leaders are resigning and pundits are still reeling from false predictions. 

What are you definitely not doing? 

Designer Yarn Play

Near the end of May I received an email from Black Sheep Wools asking if I would like to review some new designer yarn. Well of course the answer was yes! Who isn’t going to want to try brand new designer yarn, for free? Then I was told I’d need to complete a non-disclosure agreement, I was not to tell anyone about the yarn or even that I was to be doing a review. How secret squirrel was that?! I’ve been sent yarn and other products before from various companies and have never seen a disclosure form. I admit that I felt quite excited and started to look around for crochet patterns; this would be the time to start on my first crochet garment, no more blankets, hats or scarves for me, this was obviously going to be a lovely big bale of yarn, suitable for a cardie, jumper or huge wrap, otherwise why all the secrecy and legally binding paperwork?

At the beginning of June a little parcel was popped through my letterbox, just as I was heading out. Oh…
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I’d obviously been very convinced and convincing about the quantity of yarn due to arrive, as Someone said “Is that it?!” “Mmmmm, yes it seems to be.”

Shortly after that an email came full of guidelines for the blog post; must be no shorter than xxx words, must contain no more than 4 links to the website, but should include one to x and x and x, the review must contain both positives and negatives, though obviously more positives than negatives, an original design could be submitted to the company website and would be appreciated, along with the blog post etc, etc, etc…

I may be about to fail short of some of these guidelines but this is my space, I have used the yarn and will tell you as many details about it as I can, given the quantity. The moral of the story is that sometimes bloggers get free things to play and have fun with, other times freebies come with expectations. Be prepared. But Black Sheep Wools seem like a good company and obviously have very discerning tastes in craft bloggers (the need for a winking smiley feels strong here, but I will not break my no emoticons in a post rule) also I can’t imagine ever writing a ‘review’ which wasn’t honest. If you want an honest opinion I’m your girl.

I’ve never used any Louisa Harding yarns before so this was a new experience.

Here goes…

Yarn details:

Louisa Harding – Esquel
60% merino, 20% llama, 20% silk
50g ball, 106 yards (97 mts)
Suggested neeedles: US 8 (5mm)
Suggested tension 18 sts x 24 rows

This lovely yarn feels quite soft but also due to its thickness of the strand (and the silk?) it’s strong. The band doesn’t say, but I think it’s aran as it needs 5mm needles and is thicker than other designer DK yarns I’ve used. I decided to make more fingerless mitts as it seemed just the right amount of yarn for a pair. I’m going to give these away as a present.

I used much smaller needles than the recommended 5mm, but the resulting fabric is thick and makes warm mitts.

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Although it’s really annoying it seems that it’s sometimes inevitable that wool yarns have knots in them. This is one disadvantage to using woolen blends, unlike acrylics which rarely have this problem, but most synthetic fibres do not have the quality feel of yarn like this. Unlike a ball of baby cashermino I once used which once had 4 or 5 knots in one 50g ball, this ball of Esquel had only the one. I decided to cut the yarn and start the cuff again, the fewer darned ends in a pair of mitts which will see plenty of wear and tear, the better.

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Lots of gratuitous tomato pics today I’m afraid, in my search for better light they seemed as good a backdrop as any. It’s great to come home after a hol to 8 plants groaning with ripe and nearly ripe red and yellows! Sorry – back to the yarn…

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I would recommend Esquel, because it comes in such lovely colours, the feel of the knitted material is fairly soft and also seems as if it will be hard-wearing and warm. I bet a knitted, or crocheted, jumper would be super toasty in the winter.

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If you’d like to check out Louisa Harding’s Esquel in Black Sheep Wool’s online yarn shop it’s currently £5.35 a ball.
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As I photographed the mitts outside on my emergency-stepladder-storm-resistant-stand-up-tomato-plants-please-don’t-fall-over-device look at what I saw…I’ve grown a rabbit!

Here endeth the review. A Manhattan is waiting for me on the other side. Happy cocktail hour weekend everyone!

In progress

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This second pair of mitts are still waiting to be sewn up, the first are being worn and appreciated during the chilly school run apparently. I’ve had a request by one of my little nieces asking me for “white pink with purple bits, like Mummy’s but…oh no I mean light pink with purple bits.” (Awwww, so sweet.) As I’m told they’re superb at losing gloves I’m heading in the direction of a good quality acrylic, not Rowan tweed like these!
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The cabled yoke cardigan has been renamed ‘that stupid cardi’ I’m sorry to say. The time it took it took to figure out the cabled strip has rather soured the project. Well….I guess I have to be honest and admit that’s not absolutely it. Don’t start dipping rags in oil and sharpening your pitchforks but I’m not so sure about the actual look of it. Knitted clothes look so smooth and elegant, crocheted clothes particularly in chunky dcs like this just look coarse somehow. Know where I’m coming from? It needs to be edged, sleeves crocheted and button-band added so I might be more impressed after it’s finished. Maybe.It could be the yarn, I wonder if a different colour and quality of yarn would help too. I chose to use my Stylecraft meadow as I thought it would look lovely, and it’s washable so is practical for children’s clothing.

Oh and also I’m worried that the neckline is tiny. Overall I worry that it’s a bit small. I really, really should try a tension swatch before new projects.

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I’m going to be knitting this feather and fan scarf until I die I fear. Last year I decided I’m going to live to be a hundred; so I’ve got a lot of time to carry on, but might die just after completion and so not get the benefit!

It’s probably far more practical to use a non-fluffy brand for lace knitting. It’s not tricky to undo or knit, but another would show the lacy holes and repeats making it easier to see mistakes and just act as a guide. I’ve tried using pony stitch markers but those little plastic rings are going to scratch my birch needles, they’re getting in the way a bit too. I’ll maybe have a try at placing yarn markers. I accept this scarf is going to be a long-term project and don’t mind really, not now I’m adding lifelines!

I must get on and darn some more of the ends of those granny squares. It’s actually not so bad once you get going, it just starting that’s the issue.

Also I’m knitting up something for a yarn review and that is another story…

What are you up to this weekend? Hopefully not splashing about in flood waters like these poor ponies were, gradually more green patches are appearing though as the water slowly drains away.

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14:37 Mitts now sewn up & ready to wear. This post was a good motivator!

The knitty gritty and reading

I experienced a strong sense of déjà vu as I finished off the thumb of the second fingerless mitt of the second pair. It only takes an evening to knit one mitt and is so economical on wool. I’ve still got 34g of a 50g ball of Rowan Tweed left! That’s 4 mitts out of 2 50g balls, with more than half of one left over. I know – it occurs to me too that I could retype that much more simply!
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I’m going to have another go at mattress stitch and make sure I line up each stitch really carefully. The tweeter of Inside Crochet and I had a good ole chat about it. Apparently Claire Montgomerie, the magazine’s editor, is obsessed with MS. I can see why – it’s so fiddly but produces a really good seam.
I’ve got a few relatives with little hands so I have a recipient lined up to offer this pair to at the weekend. But it would be easy enough to use a larger size pair of needles, or scale the pattern up by a couple of stitches if you haven’t got small hands!

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A knitting group friend wants to accomplish her goal of learning to knit fair isle this year. I knew I had various patterns tucked away in my magazine hoard in The Little Room so had a good few minutes flicking though copies. It’s so worth holding on to patterns because you never know when you’re going to need inspiration. Hmmmm I am running out of space for magazine holders though! I’ll have to move over to all didgey copies soon. I found a selection of patterns for her but also distracted myself with the Knit Now mag (issue 25) pattern above. The colours are not me, not at all, but I fancy some lace knitting. I did say I wouldn’t make anymore scarves, but hey over the course of a year you end up wearing them all really, don’t you? It fits in with my plan to use up more of my modest stash too. I’ve got a few balls of my favourite purple DK yarn Tosca Light so I’m going to use 4.5 mm needles and see how it goes. The pattern is for 3.75mm needles and 4 ply but suggests trying all different weights of yarn.

Somebody went to Cuba for a week and on the first day I had a knock at the door early in the morning. It was an Amazon delivery of a Kindle Paperwhite and accessories, no doubt meant to distract me from remembering to nag about too many cigars, rum and sun from fishing! I’ve got a few Kindle books already as I’ve tried them on the ipad app. I’m addicted to scouring the Kindle Daily Deals and have bought stunningly good books for 99p or less (49p has been the cheapest so far.)

At the moment I’m reading House of Silence by Linda Gillard (98p/$1.61!)  It’s hard to put it down.House of Silence

“A country house mystery… A family drama… A Gothic romantic comedy…
REBECCA meets COLD COMFORT FARM in Linda Gillard’s complex new novel, HOUSE OF SILENCE.” Amazon.co.uk

It has sewing (patchwork) too. What’s not to like?

I must get on with casting on the scarf as I’m going to another knit group and want to get to grips with the pattern before I go. I’d like to blog about my knit group crawl, trying out all the local groups, along with various friends, but it’s potentially social suicide. How could I resist telling you about some of the characters and (bit weird) happenings without maybe shooting myself in the foot? I’ll have to write a novel one day….

What are you reading? Can you recommend any good Kindle reads?

Conquering mattress stitch

Terrible light so rubbish photos I’m afraid….

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I’m determined to conquer mattress stitch. I’ve heard it’s one of the trickiest sewing-up methods but I’m persevering. It’s also not straightforward when the Rowan Tweed breaks off because of the weaker, thinner parts of the strand. Argh!

The Knitting Answer book (see link on the sidebar) diagram has made sense of the method. There are a few different ways to use mattress stitch, depending on what you’re sewing up, and I’ve chosen this one. It seems like a good choice as the seam isn’t too thick or uncomfortable when you’re wearing the mitt.

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I found I really got into a rhythm and ended up enjoying the sewing up. I’ve always liked hand sewing but the little voice in your head that says you’re going to find a new thing hard (especially when other people say how hard it is) needs to be silenced at times. Or stamped on. Then covered with a good layer of something.

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I’ve sewn up both mitts now. Hurrah! The light’s gone now so no more (awful) photos. I will be wearing the mitts, they’re fine, but if you do own a copy of Cute and Easy Knitting and want to knit them I’d suggest trying a tension swatch. I know, I’ve never done one in my life either but they did come out fairly small. I have little hands but I reckon the mitts might be a little snug for others.

Can’t wait to have a sip of G&T and a glass of wine Saturday, after doing Dry January. I reckon I’m going to be a very cheap date!

Which method(s) of sewing up do you use for knitting?

Simply Crochet bobble mitts

We were heading off on holiday a few weekends ago when the postman arrived at the door with what looked like an armful of magazines, so of course I had to leap out of the car and take them with us…

One was the latest Simply Crochet, issue 10. I had packed my craft bag very carefully with things to carry on with, or complete. Not new projects to begin. These were the hot pink crochet scarf…20130912-102346.jpg and the sewing up that really needed to be done on the little red knitted jumper and that cat (I know, I’m bored of mentioning it – so am sure you’re bored of reading about it!)

The trouble was that the bobble mitts designed by Hannah Reed really caught my eye. I’ve never made fingerless mitts before, thinking that they looked a bit dull as most I’d seen are made with simple doubles or trebles, but Hannah’s lovely pair are in one of my favourite crochet stitches – bobbles. The only spare yarn I had was a ball of brown I’d packed for embroidering for the cat’s nose. I don’t wear brown, it’s just not my colour but I know a lot of people who do. So, before I knew it the Clover soft-touch hook was in my hand and I whipped up the mitts during spare moments in the apartment. It just had to be done.

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I wrote some notes in my little book after I crocheted these which I’ll share in case you fancy making a pair…

:: Make sure that the stitch count is 33 still after making the 5 chain thumb-hole, otherwise it throws out the following bobbles

:: I adapted the pattern to make a longer piece of crochet so did 11 rows of bobbles then 2 rows of double crochet at each end

:: I also double crocheted around the thumbhole to finish them off. Don’t do this! Unless your thumb-hole is big and a bit gapy. Mine were perfectly sized and now are a little bit snug. They’re wearable but the dc row and darning tightened them up rather. I’ll have to give them to a friend with slim thumbs

Simply Crochet issue 10 has some nice items this month, I recommend you have a little look at a copy.

Have a good weekend! Maybe I’ll bump into you at Yarndale? :-D