Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Messy Tuesday, or Work in Progress

In a blast from the dim and distant past, I have remembered the tradition of Messy Tuesdays. They existed because in a blogosphere that sometimes becomes sanitised and rather carefully posed, it is worth remembering that actually, we're all living our own lives, at our own paces, and we shouldn't be discouraged from sharing that simply because we don't 'match up' to some unattainable standard.

Today is Tuesday, and I've spent the last couple of weeks dashing hither and yon, and finding that lighting is lacking, and housework and filing just too much to find time for. My brief flurry of blog posts seemed about to dwindle again, waiting for the moment when my life matched up to the calm, attractive and serene standards of the true craftblogger... but that isn't going to happen, so here I am, and here's my knitting.

For those monitoring #WIPCrackAway progress, thus far, I have succeeded in resisting the urge to cast on any extra projects, and the image above is the toe of my first Christmas sock. It's a very simple vanilla sock with cable detail, which I add mostly to stop me getting bored when knitting on the train, but also to stop me having to count rows or measure accurately to keep each sock the same lengthm, either in cuff or in foot.

In case the recipe's of any use: Cast on your usual number of stitches; work in 2 x 2 rib for 12/14 rows, place marker for start of round. Row 1: K2, P1, K8, P1, K to end. Repeat row 1 three times, then work cable row: K2, P1, C4F, C4B, P1, K to end. Continue in this way, working cable row every fourth row, inserting a heel of your choice when you wish, and later, the toe of your preference.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

WIP-Crackaway, WIP-Crackaway, WIP-Crackaway

Nic and Louise have got a fantastic plan: fight the startitis of the cold days and dark nights by picking up a WIP in turn and knitting till it is done. No more casting on all the things. Instead, finish something! #WIPCrackaway is happening in all the usual places: Ravelry (specific threads with prizes in KnitBritish and YarnsfromthePlain); Twitter; Instagram; Pinterest etc...

What with the stash acquisition that has been going on, and the slightly mad charting that seems to go hand-in-hand with an unpurposed skein, I felt rather in need of a cleaner plate. So, rather than casting on my beautiful Yarndale yarn, I have been most virtuous! The orange and green socks (blogged about way back in February) have been waiting patiently for the ends to be woven in. Check. The Regia sock is growing on me, though I still find the green / orange / pink combination is slightly too much. (Orange and pink, yes. Green and orange, yes. Green and pink, yes. All three? Not sure) They'll get plenty of wear this winter if it stays as it is, in any event.

I'm much more proud of my Devon pair. Finally finished (just in time for Yarndale in fact) on 25th September, after casting on in the Autumn of 2012?! I remember finishing the first sock after a slow knit in February of 2013 (backstage at Salad Days), but the second sock lingered even longer. Now they're done, and I'd be wearing them for work if only office rules would permit. Knit out of Easyknits Deeply Wicked in their Grape colourway, I'm really pleased with how they've turned out, and I like the combination of stripe and lace, even if the pattern is a little obscured from a distance.

Third is a bit of a secret knit, but the photo exists, so I'm showing them off. The yarn is Eden Cottage Yarns Pendle 4ply in Sand, bought at Yarndale 2013, and cast on in the Spring (I was originally hoping to have the pair done for Unwind Brighton this year). These are a test-knit of a new pattern I'm working on at the moment. More as and when it's ready!

And finally, in the centre are a long-awaited pair of mitts: in January this year, the office was very cold, and a colleague in particular was suffering. I said that I had leftovers that would suit, and could knit a pair of mitts. Only then I cast on too many stitches, and ended up with something too large for my (substantially larger) hands. So I sulked. And they sat in time out until this September, when I left that office for a new job, and finally decided to get them finished for her, before it gets cold again! So I ripped, and started again, and finished both hands!

And that's it - I've even picked up the next UFO, which I began just before the deadline, on 31st August. Now to turn a single sock into a pair...

Monday, 13 October 2014

Knitter on the inside

As knitting season is upon us once more, I have ventured back into the world, and found that behind the blue door lies a fantastic new venue for my knitting workshops: the Malvern Cube. Formerly a youth centre, and now a vibrant community hub, with U3A classes, fitness groups, a cinema club, repair and diy café and theatre troupe, plus an excellent actual Café, the Mavern Cube will now also house knitting workshops - three between now and the New Year, to be precise.

At present, the plan is to run workshops on approximately a monthly basis, and to begin by sharing beginner / intermediate level skills. Full details are available on the Events page, but the outline is that:

On 25th October I will be teaching Beyond the Knit Stitch, a class designed to take new knitters from the Garter Stitch scarf into the bright world of purl, rib, moss and slipped stitches, so that the world is their oyster. 10am-1pm, the Meeting Room, Malvern Cube. £25 including materials and equipment kit.

On 22nd November it's the turn of Lace to be the star of the show. Simple textured stitches, directional decreases, yarnovers and chart-reading - what more could you ask for? Well, there's an exclusive pattern for a simple and elegant lace stole, for which the yarn and needles are provided as part of your equipment kit! 10am-1pm, the Meeting Room, Malvern Cube. £25 including materials and equipment kit.

And Finally,

Just in time for Christmas decorating, on 6th December I'm teaching my Beginner's Sock class. From an introduction to knitting on 4 needles through cuff, heel and toe, this class is brilliant fun, and by the end of the morning, you'll have a mini Christmas stocking to add to your advent calendar! 10am-1pm, the Meeting Room, Malvern Cube. £25 including materials and equipment kit.

So if you know a knitter who'd like to know more, or a garter stitch genius out to broaden their horizons, please do let them know. Places can be reserved by emailing me (ruthcrafts [at] ruthv [dot] co [dot] uk).

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

A Me-Made Day

I haven't yet picked up the courage to try any of the 'me-made' alongs or similar outfit challenges relating to sewing, partly because I'm really bad at getting my wardrobe organised enough for it to work, and partly because the majority of my dressmaking has made exactly that: dresses. Wearing dresses for a whole month with English weather and the demands of work / travel / tights just doesn't seem like a very good idea.

Over the last few weeks, though, circumstances (some unexpected time off, sunny weather, a fantastic event in mind) conspired to create at least one fully made-by-me outfit.

Here you see me in: my Minoru jacket and Alletta shawl over the excitingly-named 'Shirt 113' from Burda Style (June 2013), and 'Trapezoid Skirt 121, also from Burda Style (June 2013). Plus the bag was made and drafted by me - to fit keys, phone, wallet, mp3player, kindle and small knit. It does ok, but I should have added a button closure / zip for the phone pocket.

A few notes:

In a rare fit of courage, I have finally (and I mean finally, I have been buying jersey for 4 years now) made something with knit fabric! And not just one something, but two (there's a striped version of this top which I wore on the same weekend, but was not photographed). The Burda tshirt has the added detail of princess seams and cap sleeves which necessitate binding the lower armscye, but once I'd made sse of the directions, and like with the neck binding I found this much easier on a knit fabric than it would have been on a woven.

The cord skirt is a regular favourite in my wardrobe, and I find the item generally transitions from home to workwear well in the autumn / winter season. This one has the benefit of hip-yoke pockets, which are useful despite sitting slightly oddly on me, and is written to include welt pockets on the back, as well as belt loops. Neither of these two features seemed conducive to a successful project in my timeframe, though I do still intend to add the belt loops, since this skirt is designed to sit an inch below one's natural waistline, which on me just feels a tad low.

I love my Minoru, and am starting to think I should make another jacket. The Robson? Something from Burda? I have a number of their coat issues, and rather like the idea of a pea coat, but don't really want to work with something massively heavy. Any suggestions? What's your favourite autumn cover-up?

Monday, 6 October 2014

Millefeuilles: a leaf-lace stole

As the nights draw in, the mornings grow dimmer, and the leaves begin to turn, I find myself searching for a splash of colour to brighten my office outfit and provide an extra dash of warmth against the chill. Millefeuilles was designed to fit this brief: a shallow crescent shawl or stole knit form tip-to-tip so that you can use every metre of that beautiful single skein.

Carefully shaped lace patterns begin and end this stole, so that the scarf grows out of the leafy design, and finishes neatly with an asymmetrical point.

With full charts and written directions, this scarf is a perfect project for the Autumn, whether as a special project for yourself or as a plan for Christmas gifting. While it may look complex, the main lace chart is a straightforward ten rows, and worked over the 26 stitch border, maintains interest throughout the length of the stole.

Samples were knit in Fyberspates Rural Charm 4ply and Juno Fibre Arts Buffy Sock, but any 100g skein of fingering-weight yarn with a little drape would work. Consider using luxurious fibres or pure wool to make the most of the skein you have, or pick something new that isn't too tightly spun or springy. I'm making another, just for me, in Eden Cottage Yarns Copper Bucket, and would recommend their Tempo or BFL Sock base.