Fast Forward – Rewind

Fast forward 6 weeks since the last post: we are too happy for words in our new home. Dogs go walking in the morning, sweaty owner jumps in the pool to cool off… we are making bread when we run out of toast, we play snooker, read, talk… Endless streams of visitors have come through our home and shared our new place and we have loved socializing, cooking and catching up with friends and family. Well, I am – we all are – on holiday, so this is not exactly going to be the day to day routine for the rest of the year…

Rewind and reflection of what 2013 has been like. Incredibly stressful comes to mind immediately. The move, a huge work project – those two things combined made it impossible to get a routine going for any of us as individuals, as well as as a family or a well run household. But alas, that’s all done and dusted.

2014 will be super, none of those stressful diversions. Lot’s of creativity, nurturing friendships, good health and prosperity to you!5180576-3x2-940x627

It is a great joy to share this news with you: I have received a gift from heaven! A generous amount of knitting yarns… donated to me from Sue. My first thought was immediately that anything knitted of these yarns are going to be for me. I have been knitting 5 jumpers/ cardigans in the last 18 months for other precious people, now I need to look after my own wardrobe. My second thought was that I am just going to knit up other people’s designs. There is plenty of nice stuff out there and I have already downloaded and printed… allocated to the new and old stash. Just have to finish Patrick’s jumper and then – presto – get on with it.

Why? Well, it’s all very well that I have fun designing my own stuff, but I have never really knitted other people’s designs, so I think it will be a great learning curve to ‘just do it’ and learn a thing or two about knitting that way and speed up production for next winter’s wardrobe.

First there is this nice light grey, and there is about 300gr per skein. Heaps for a fabulous poncho…DSCN7388

And this heavenly blue – ideal for a classic V-neck or cardigan with an interesting silhouette.DSCN7390

And 500gr of this variegated grey/ pink – maybe a very tailored 70’s top?DSCN7389

A very raw and natural look for something from this gorgeous yarn. Again, something with a really interesting (asymmetrical?) silhouette? DSCN7391

And here we have a Camel and Wool blend in the most gorgeous pink. DSCN7392

I have started. In this heat! I have started on Jennifer Hansen’s Silken Scabbard, and what a learning curve to knit with someone else’s pattern! DSCN7398

First of all, this photo documents the insanity of knitting in this heat. But I am suffering from withdrawal in the last busy year, so I just have to do it.

DSCN7403Here is a detail of the collar hem. The hem stitches are cast on with a provisional cast on, the inside of the hem is knitted in pattern, in the turning row the stitches are knitted through the back (this gives a really neat edge!) and then the knit stitches of the hem are joined in a row of 3 Needle Knitting and the cable stitches are left on the waste yarn to be firmly sewn in later.

Proudly Presenting: Japanese Lace Top

I have never really written about this project – hinted at it and made the odd grand announcement that I was about to write about it… and now stage one is miraculously finished!DSCN6953

Voila! The actual color is not as warm as this (see below) – I just enjoyed playing around with the newly discovered facilities on iPhoto.

This top is an amazing fit, and the wool is so very soft – I am just not used to wearing such figure hugging outfits, so it feels a bit odd. I am just not sure if I have done the pattern and the wool any justice… I think the pattern would have actually stood out better knitted up in (a) cotton and (b) in a lighter color and the wool would have just come into its own much better knitted up in a plain stocking stitch. Anyway, it is what it is, stocking stitch in this thin yarn would have been utterly boring…DSCN6960

Isn’t the lace just stunning… And I love the neck detail, how the different lace just grows out of the body.DSCN6961

There is a lot on the web you can find to help you using Japanese knitting patterns, so I will not spend much time re-inventing the wheel here, but these are my thoughts:

  •  a lot of the Japanese patterns I have found are very sophisticated (more so than the average stuff in Western patterns) – so they are really worth knitting up
  • unfortunately all of the patterns I have found come in one size only (size AU 10), so unless you happen to be that size, you have a bit of a job re-charting… which is tricky since these patterns are very well balanced and thought out, adding an inch here and there where your size might need it could potentially be really tough
  • Japanese patterns are concise and written in a very economic style – a short blurb which I don’t understand and then two pages of schematics and graphs which I found more or less straightforward to work out (see example below)
  • great care is taken with the garments shape – Japanese patterns seem to use increases/ decreases as well as different needle sizes to achieve this
  • Japanese knitting projects are not of the kind that you can knit up while watching a great movie or having an exiting conversation… they do require a lot of attention, following the graph/ charts closely – and in this top for instance the lace pattern required yos and decreases in every row…
  • if you want to embark on a Japanese project, find some resources that translate the basic knitting terms, explain the basic charting style, explain the notation for decreases/ increases, … make a photocopy of the pattern and write your ‘translation’ on it

So, I hope nobody gets their knickers in a twist about copyright if I put this first of two pages up to explain how I approached this project…DSCN6287

The first bullet point tells you what yarn and how much is used for this pattern, really irrelevant for me, since I never stick to the recommended yarn, but a good guide. Below that, it lists the required needle sizes (again, you find heaps of info on the web for converting those sizes into US or metric); size 3, 4 and 5 are 3mm, 3.25mm and 3.5mm. Then there is the guide for the size of he finished garment; I am not a genius and my maths is limited – but adding up the figures in the chart made me work out that the bust measurement is 92cm, the finished length would be 55.5cm and from armhole to hem would be 36cm. The gauge is 27st and 33 rows for 10 cm knitted in pattern A and B. So, then there is a whole paragraph that I couldn’t (and probably didn’t need to) figure out, my guess it is a short description of how to go about constructing the top.

Let’s just run through how I approached the back: at the very bottom the figure 121 MUST indicate the number of stitches to cast on, and voila – there you have the symbol for ‘stitch’! Of course I ignored that – I knitted front and back together in the round up to the armhole – I could not find any reason why not… and having to work the pattern in both rows (knit and purl/ right and wrong side), it seemed infinitely easier to just work it in the round to get the decreases (slanting to the right and left) right. Capital letters A, B, C refer to the pattern charts used, the number next to it refers to the needle size used. The arrows up and down indicate the knitting direction (!). I ignored that, I couldn’t see why I wouldn’t just knit in the one direction, starting with 2 rows of garter stitch (which the photo seemed to indicate). Now the fun notation for decreases/ increases: 2 – 4 – 1 means: every 2 rows – decr/incr 4 st – 1 time. Whether it is decr or incr you figure from the chart – the same notation is used for both, I gather. Framing the schematics for the back are a lot of numbers, and having worked out the symbol for ‘stitch’, and assuming that everything followed by ‘c’ refers to cm, I gather that other numbers would refer to ‘row’… and when you consult the carts, you can cross- reference that that is correct. I have cast on the little jacket that goes with it…

Yarn – the yarn is amazing, it’s Smooshy sock weight sumptuously splendid hand dyed yarn in shade Vino Veritas. This top took less than 2 x 100gr skeins. I have got 400 gr left for the wee jacket (also in lace). DSCN6285

And the pattern – it’s from ‘Let’s Knit’ series, Vol #17.DSCN6963