Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Round ripple blanket

What shall I make next?  I ask myself this question far too often, and not just when I have finished the project I'm currently working on.  Like lots of crafters, I have a mental list of items I'd like to make, and I often start a new project before the current one is finished.  Sometimes I persuade myself that there is a reason for starting a new one, as was the case with the round ripple blanket.

On Monday nights I go to my local craft club, and due to the chatting and cake eating that goes on, concentration levels are not high, and so I need a fairly simple project to do while I am there.  I'd been taking small, quick items like these knitted ventilator bonnets.

About 6 weeks ago I decided I would have a go at a round ripple crochet blanket as a craft club project.  I've made a straight ripple lap blanket before, about 4 years ago, and I enjoyed doing it.

The pattern I decided on was a Beginners Round Ripple from Ravelry, and I chose 3 dk colours from my (not inconsiderable) stash.   Two were Stylecraft special, and the third was some "mill end" James C Brett baby yarn that I bought online.

I found the ripple pattern really relaxing to do, and it didn't take much concentration. The only difficulty was in deciding how big to make the blanket - I've never done a circular one before.  In the end I stopped when it was 44 inches across at the points.

I tried several different borders because I needed something that wouldn't detract from the shape of the blanket. In the end I decided on a simple picot edging that finishes it neatly:

This blanket will go to a charity, Chemogiftbags, which gives a goodie bag, a heart cushion and a lap blanket to women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The result..............

In my last post I showed the start of a little cardigan with a very pretty stranded colourwork border of hearts:

I was struggling with the purl rows of the design, and wondering whether I would be able to complete it to a reasonable standard.  Well, it took a while, but I'm pleased to say that I have now finished this project.  Sadly I don't have access to a cute toddler to model it, but here it is laid on the carpet instead:

It looks a bit of a funny shape without a child inside it because it is a jacket design, rather than a cardigan.  You can see the knitted darts on the fronts, above the hearts, and there are matching ones on the back.  I will be blocking it under a damp cloth before it goes into my Loving Hands box to be donated to a suitable charity.

The row of hearts took for ever, with me trying every which way of holding the yarn. At least I didn't pull the trailing yarn too tight.  In September I am going to a Knit for Peace knitting class in London with my niece to learn how to do this technique properly.  I can't wait!

This was knitted with 2 strands of 3 ply held together to make double knit, on size 4.00 needles.  When I use this yarn again, I think I will drop at least one needle size to get a tighter fabric.

Monday, 8 August 2016

More than I can chew?

Colourwork.  Now, I very much enjoy learning new techniques and trying new challenges, and I have been making half-hearted attempts to crack stranded knitting with 2 colours for a couple of years now, but I have never really felt confident in knitting with one strand of yarn in each hand. I have done some hats with a colourwork band such as this one, although you can see that there is some tightness in the band of arrowheads - the tension isn't quite right.

But onwards and upwards, and while looking on Ravelry I found a pattern for a little girl's jacket with a stranded border of interlaced hearts.  Although this picture doesn't really show it, this is a 'swing' jacket which is wider at the bottom and then gradually tapered towards the armholes.

I fell in love with it, and knew exactly which yarn I was going to use.  Among the cones were a couple of 3 ply Shamal in Ivory and Old Rose.  As this is a double knit pattern, I could just double these two colours and I would have the right thickness of yarn.  A couple of goes with the wool winder later, and I had the yarn ready.  Isn't the old rose a beautiful colour?

I like that you cast on with one colour, then immediately change to the other for the rib.  It gives a lovely continuity to the jacket.  The fronts and back are knitted in one (less sewing up - I'm all for that!), so there were 200 stitches.  No problem, the rib was knitted while watching England bowl out Pakistan in the final afternoon of the test match -  I am a bit of a cricket fanatic, by the way.  Then came the stranded part.  Aware that I needed to watch my tension and not let it get too tight, I started the first row of the pattern with rose in right hand and ivory in left.  So far, so good, I have developed a technique for making knit stitches with the yarn in my left hand.  

But then I came to the second row, where I needed to make purl stitches with each hand.  I suddenly realised that I have never done this before, because the hats on which I have done the stranded knitting have been made in the round (knit stitches all the way).  Oh boy, what a mess I got in!  Despite watching the best you-tube videos, I still couldn't (and can't) get the hang of this.  Much frogging took place.  The front side looks OK, but the back of the fabric, where the unused yarn is carried along, is , shall we say, less than tidy!  But at least the tension on the back is not too tight, if anything it is too loose.  

Have I bitten off more than I can chew here?  This is taking such a long time to knit, but I keep telling myself that there are only 14 rows of pattern to do.  I will persevere, and update you in my next post!