Ruth’s Shawl

My little sister got married, and as her present I made her a shawl to wear on the big day.

The pattern was released a while ago (excuse my tardy blogging) but here are the details:

Ruth's Shawl

And in pink:

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Ruth’s Shawl – £4.00

We decided on the crescent shape with a plain centre and a lacy border, and I was left to fill in any other details. I have always been drawn to the lovely nupps and gathered stitches of Estonian lace knitting, and this is my homage to those traditional patterns.

I wanted to make the sample out of fingering weight yarn, as the weather in Britain is not predictable in September, so it needed to be nice and warm. It also looks stunning in lace weight (the pink version).

Size:
Finished shawl measures 210cm / 82.5in across by 55cm / 21.75in deep.

Yarn:
Easyknits Smoke, 100g = 335m / 366yds, 2 skeins.
Posh Yarn Eva Lace, 55g = 366m / 400yds, 2 skeins.

Or subsitute with 570m / 625yds lace or fingering weight yarn. I would recommend choosing yarn that will block well.

Techniques:

Tab cast on, reading charts, lace knitting, nupps.

A productive holiday

I’ve just spent a week with my in-laws in Prague. Between walks in the woods, a visit to the lego museum and some mooching round town I managed to fit in a lot of knitting.

On about Day 4 of the holiday I was worried I had miscalculated and would run out of yarn. It seemed such a reasonable plan – half a shawl to finish off and another skein of heavy lace to do another. By the time we got home I had these (later this week I need to do a serious blocking session):

Blog photos

Blog photos

And only this much yarn left.

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Which is far too close to comfort. Next time I am going to make sure I take a spare project. I will forgo clothes and almost anything else to fit in another skein.

Dying things blue

Now that I have a bit more time on my hands, it is time to tackle the sizeable pile of clothes that need repairing, altering or something doing to them before I wear them again.

First up a couple of thing I’ve knit over the years:

Dying experiment

This yarn defeated me (and it’s also from the depths of my stash and I have no idea what it actually is). It is lovely and soft and warm feeling and everything, but a lot more variegated than I would normally knit with. I honestly thought that I could defeat the pooling, with a bit of playing round and everything. I chose a lovely pattern, featuring slipped stitches thinking that would help break things up a bit. I played with needle size, changed the number of stitches a few times, knit from both ends of the skein – every trick I could think of. But it still determinedly pooled, and I’ve never worn it.

Dying experiment

I made this years ago – a whisper cardigan made from some posh yarn. Lovely and soft, and the fit is good, but I’m not quite sure what I was thinking on the colour front. That soft brown and green autumnal palette isn’t really me, so it stayed in the wardrobe and I almost never wore it.

The solution to both these garments came in two little bottles:

Dying experiment

I found some instructions on the internet, and decided to experiment. For anyone interested in the details, I used all 10g of the dye and all the fixer for 350g of yarn as I wanted to get an intense shade of blue.

Both garments were soaked thoroughly, then I dissolved the dye and fixer in some boiling water and added to a large pan of cold water. Then I added the knitting, brought slowly to a simmer for about 20 minutes (yes, simmering your knitting is as wrong as it sounds!), stirring gently every so often.

Dying experiment

Then turn off the heat and leave everything to cool down very slowly, before rinsing until the water runs clear. Nothing felted, and nothing shrank (but it is important to keep the agitation to a minimum and make any changes of temperature very gradual).

Now I have a cardigan that I will wear, in a rich warm tinted slightly variegated navy:

Dying experiment

And a hat where the pooling doesn’t show.

Dying experiment

I’d call that a success

Photos

So three weeks in to my new design career, and I am taking photos. I’m rather hoping that this will be a learning curve and that I can make the process a little slicker. I need to get to know my new camera a bit better, and I will get used to the good spots for taking shots of stuff.

Fortunately the weather gods have been kind to me this week, as mostly my mornings have been spent trundling round the islands and exploring the woods like this….

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I have had some very very strange moments. The best shots so far required me to actually get in the river (cue funny looks from bemused tourists walking by). There are lots of dog walkers, and based on my sample last week about 50% of dogs barked manically at my reflector. Almost everyone stopped and asked what I am doing. Next time I am going to try to go a bit further afield, where maybe there less people to interrupt.

For the love of blocking

I know some people detest it, but I think that blocking is the most satisfying and amazing part of lace knitting.

A bit of water and a lot of pins later, that crumpled looking pile of knitting is transformed into an ethereal flowing piece of lace.

Laura's leaves

Magic.

Nearly at the end

There’s always some good things, and some things that are a little less good.

I’ve finished work and Owen’s started school. Both these things come under the good category.

Then 3 days later Owen got an infection on his foot, which, after some backwards and forwards to the GP, ended up with him in hospital having an operation and a stay in hospital. This was most definitely in the less good category. He’s now fine, and has gone back to school with a big bandage on his foot.

The only up side to this was plenty of knitting time. I nearly finished a shawl that will be for Laura to wear at her wedding. Or at least I thought I had nearly finished. I’m STILL casting off, it’s taking forever…….

Pivot cast-off on Laura's shawl.

Hap Cardigan

It was a long time ago that I first published my Hap Cardigan pattern in Knit Now magazine, and now that I have finally got myself organised it has been re-edited, re-knit (in my size and in colours that I would actually wear), photographed and no re-published as a download from Ravelry.

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Hap Cardigan – £4.50

This pretty lacy cardigan was inspired by the traditional Shetland Hap Shawls, with their plain garter centres and brightly coloured feather and fan edging. While shawls are lovely, I don’t wear them nearly as often as I should, so I created a cardigan version. It is a versatile garment, perfect for fighting that winter office chill or thrown on over a t-shirt on a beach in the summer or anything in between.

The Hap Cardigan is designed to drape loosely at the front. As the cardigan does not fasten at the front, it is recommended that you choose a size according to your high bust (round torso at your armpits) rather than your full bust measurement.

To fit size 80 (90, 104, 116, 130, 142) cm / 31.5 (35.5, 41, 45.5, 51, 56) in upper bust, designed to fit with 0-5cm / 0-2in negative ease. Finished garment dimensions are indicated on the pattern schematic.

Modelled in size L with 1” of negative ease at the upper bust.

Techniques:
Simple lace, reading charts, knitting in the round, picking up stitches, provisional cast on, backwards loop cast on.

Yarn:

Two colour version:
Jamieson and Smith 2-ply Lace weight 25g = 169m / 185yds
3 (3, 4, 4, 5, 6) balls in L40 (MC)
2 (2, 2, 2, 3, 3) balls in L63 (CC)

Or substitute with 420 (480, 580, 660, 780, 870) m / 460 (530, 630, 720, 850, 950) yds MC and 240 (270, 310, 340, 380, 410) m / 270 (290, 340, 370, 420, 450) yds CC

Three colour version:
Istex Loðband Einband 50g = 225m / 246yds

2 (2, 3, 3, 3, 4) balls in 0018 Navy (MC),
1 (1, 1, 1, 2, 2) balls in 1761 Teal (CC1),
1 (1, 1, 1, 2, 2) balls in 1762 Turquoise (CC2)

Or substitute with 340 (400, 480, 550, 650, 730) m / 370 (430, 520, 600, 710, 800) yds of MC
160 (180, 210, 230, 260, 280) m / 180 (200, 230, 250, 280, 300) yds each of CC1 and CC2

When choosing a yarn to substitute, select a heavy lace weight yarn that will retain its shape well after blocking. I would recommend a high wool content.

All change here.

I have finally plucked up the courage and handed in my notice at the day job. No more engineering for me. No more standing in the mud and rain watching someone dig a hole (though I rather liked that bit). No more office politics. No more ‘Performance Reviews’, or ‘Monthly Project Control’ meetings.

I could go on.

It’s liberating, and terrifying, and rather like jumping off a cliff just to see if you can fly. I really hope I can.

I don’t have another job to go to, nor do I really plan on getting one. So I’ll have lots of time to knit and sew and design and write patterns. As well as cook nice food, be able to pick Owen up from school each day and factor some exercise for me and finish off all those little jobs that I’ve been meaning to do for ages.

Not knitting

This month I have mostly been doing DIY.

After nearly 9 years in this house, we have finally bought a new kitchen. There has been an unbelievable amount of dithering (and plenty of healthy ‘discussion’) but finally we have decided to have a very simple fitted white kitchen. It’s going to be my one temple to minimalism; an oasis of calm in the midst of the chaos. I hope.

I really hope that I measured right and when it arrives all the units fit. I checked so many times, Francis checked and re-measured, and my fingers are firmly crossed. We’ll find out on Thursday.

Progress over the last year:

Destruction begins
Kitchen destruction

Destroyed
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New walls and ceiling
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Painting
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And nearly a year later, not much has changed. We moved the cupboards back in, we still haven’t wired in the plugs, and I’ve only just got round to painting gloss round the windows.

Thursday can’t come soon enough.

Oops

We did a photoshoot last week, and in typical Williams family fashion managed to make it a total epic.

Now, I had high hopes. The weather was much nicer than forecast – sunshine and white fluffy clouds if a little cold and breezy. Perfect for the beach then. My ulterior motive in this was that Owen can be easily amused with a bucket and spade for a good hour, meaning that we should be able to whizz through some photos without too much distraction.

I flicked through my photos and decided on Kingsteps. Which normally looks like this:

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I thought perfect – acres of white sand, great wonky bridge which could provide some interest, nice salt marsh…

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But what I failed to properly take account of was that it was the forecast really really high tides.

Unsurprisingly when we got there, there really wasn’t much beach visible. The bridge was gone and there was no way onto the beach proper.

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But in traditional fashion decided that as I had wellys with me we should just carry on anyway. So I did the photo shoot standing in a flood with Francis on a little island. The bridge would have been behind me, but is no longer there.

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It was actually great fun. Until we had to get back to the car, realised that the water level had risen about a foot in the time we’d been there, and was now significantly over knee level on the path.

What an adventure.