Saturday, 10 August 2013

Junkyard Pumpkin

If clothing had feelings, this poor cardigan would be complaining that it was being bullied or racially vilified for its skin colour.
Recently I had a short holiday. Not that I went away anywhere. I just wasn't at work all the time. Over a couple of weeks I juggled the final marking of this semester's batch of exams and the attendant meetings to ensure consistency and compliance with regulations with some serious couch potato knitting time. And so I cast on for a new work cardigan. I'm definitely a cardigan rather than a blazer girl when it comes to my professional work clothes.

I have copped more flack on this poor project in the knitting process than anything else I have knitted. None of my male acquaintances have had anything flattering to say about this while I was knitting this. “You really gonna wear that thing? It looks like a giant pumpkin!” (Cue gratuitous Charlie Brown picture. It made me think of Linus and the Great Pumpkin, though at least no one was denying my cardigan's existence, just its wearability).
I love the colour, after all that's why I bought the wool, but the menfolk had to be convinced. The first day I wore it work it got three compliments including the ultimate, “Where did you buy it?” I feel vindicated.
When I saw the beautiful Yui cardigan in The Knitter Issue 55, I initially thought that this simple and elegant cardigan would fit beautifully in future Doctor daughter's wardrobe. But then I thought, I'm the Queen of Cardigans, why not make it for me?

Pattern: Yui cardigan The Knitter Issue 55
Designer: Kyoko Nakayoshi
Needles: 3.75 mm set of dpns for the sleeve cuffs, 4 mm straight needles for the beginning of the collar, 4mm 80 cm long round needle for the body and my favourite jumper length set of antique size 8 (4 mm) Aero needles for the sleeves.
Yarn: Pure wool up-cycled wool from an op shop. I suspect that this is old Bendigo Woolen mills machine wash. 14 balls ranging from 110 to 180 g.
The wool is up-cycled pure wool from my favourite op shop. I love the invisible little old ladies who unravel unwanted knitted garments into balls of yarn and put them in cool see through bags in big tubs at bargain prices. It lets me indulge my love of quality natural yarn without breaking the budget. Real wool is made to last and I love the fact it’s almost resurrection and re-invention of a well loved garment.
This was such a fun knit. Its my first top down seamless cardigan but it won’t be the last. I love the simple elegance of Kyoko’s pattern. The knotted cable detail make it sit beautifully across the front and still swing. I would have liked it a little longer but the perils of recycled yarn is you can only use what you’ve got. I have about 1 meter left….
I'd like to acknowledge the boy for his willingness  to track into the perils of mud, muck, slime filled ditches and coal dust and help me take photos in the old workshop area near one of our local power stations. I used to work here when I was first married before it was all privatized. It's sort of sad to see what was once such a bustling work area wearing a air of forlorn neglect and dereliction. But it makes for an interesting backdrop.
Intricately knotted cables

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Happy birthday Louise - I made you a hat!

My blog has a lot to thank Louise for. She is, in a way, responsible for its very existence. Louise's own blogs first introduced me to the delights of blogging and she patiently held my hand and guided my initial tentative baby steps into the Wide World of Blogging. It's hard to believe that was two years ago already. And darn it, I've realized that I missed my second blogiversary which was about a fortnight ago.

Louise is an awesome photographer. Louise sees her photography as capturing moments. She loves to convey stories and memories through her photographs. Have a look at her current blog: Louise Barbara or her Photo Diary.

So last night was Louise's 21st birthday party and I was honoured to be invited. Louise and my middle daughter Mel are off on the European adventure of a life time in late November this year. So it seemed appropriate to make Louise her own unique accessory appropriate for the depths of a European winter and fashionable enough that she would be proud to wear it. So when Louise was here a few weeks ago baking salted caramel macaroons with Mel and doing the next installment of trip planning, I got her to try on some of the kid's hats, did some measuring and subtly probed for appropriate wardrobe color choices.
Louise and Mel made salted caramel macaroons. They were awesome!
I had a plan. I knew a long soft slouchy beanie with a softly draping crown would suit Louise the best. But none of the patterns I had were quite right. I wanted something structured and cabled by with a feminine twist. I wanted to create a hat that would set off her long loose curls.
Cat and a hat. This is a common sight. I quite frequently find Cara the cat curled up on or around my current knitting project. She has a second sense of avoiding pointy things whilst still snuggling up to soft cuddly things.
On the front of Issue 55 of The Knitter is a beautiful soft pink cable and lace cowl jumper by Martin Storey called Winterbloom. Whilst it has a lot of things about it that I dislike enough that I would never make it (it's pink and has a cowl and it's 4 ply so would take forever) there was still something about it that called to me. I love how from a distance that delicate cable and lace pattern formed a checkerboard with strong diagonals that draw the eyes  across and up. I realized I wanted to use that stitch pattern but not as a jumper. Alright I thought, why not recreate it as Louise's hat?
Pattern: Adapted stitch pattern from Winterbloom Jumper by Martin Storey
Source: The Knitter Issue 55
Needles: 4mm set of 4 jumper length Antique Aero needles
Yarn:  Upcycled 8 ply (DK) op shop wool. Creamish brown blend. It has a really soft fuzz and light halo and blocks up with a light soft squishy feel and drape.
So this is my first go at making my own hat without a pattern. I've made enough of them now though using patterns to have an idea of what I was doing and I know my gauge with various needle and yarn weight combinations. I cast on 100 stitches on 4 mm dpns and completed 15 rows of single rib. Then I increased 10 stitches evenly around the next round of rib giving me 110 stitches. The pattern repeat from Winterbloom is 22 stitches and 24 rows. So I set up 5 repeats around the beanie and completed five repeats of the pattern overall giving a long deep slouch before the crown shaping. Then I decreased down to 10 stitches over the next 12 rows. I wanted to maintain the pattern whilst I was doing this so I began by decreasing the purl strips between pattern elements, then gently decreased the width of the cables whilst still being able to complete the cable rows and finally decreased the lace stitches. I decreased 5, 10, 15 or 20 stitches roughly every second row depending on which pattern element I was decreasing. I am really proud of how this turned out.
I'm now looking forward to numerous gorgeous pictures of this hat on its trip through Europe with Louise.