Martin Storey KAL: Square 8 Slip Stitch Check

Eek, the last square is here already. That went fast! You can download the pattern here. This week sees a final return for the slip stitch colourwork technique, this time to create a neat check pattern. A friend saw me knitting it and said that it looks like little windows and doors, I think she’s right!

As I suspected, Umber features this time round along with the return of one of my favourite shades from this colourway, Mole. They look great together, don’t you think?

Square 8 - Slip Stitch Check

Sadly I didn’t get on well with this pattern when I first tried it, probably because it’s quite tricky to know when to slip stitches and following a written pattern for something a bit unusual like this is a royal pain in the backside. After struggling with a couple of repeats, I decided to chart it to see if it would help. It definitely did! A visual chart to follow turned this square from misery to a doddle for me. If you’re also struggling to follow the written steps, you can download my chart here. The colours I used to differentiate between yarn A and B match the Calm colourway so won’t match exactly if you’re knitting a different one, but will still match to the darker and lighter shade from any of the other standard colourways.

I caught up on a bit of blocking last night, but I’m still running behind overall. At the moment I’ve knitted all squares for 4 of the clues, but between the remaining clues I still have 17 squares to do! I’m certainly not as far behind as I was with the last Martin Storey KAL, but at this rate it doesn’t look likely that I’ll be finished on schedule. Oh well, there’s plenty of time for sewing up and knitting the border before autumn I suppose!

Square 8 blocking

How are you getting on now the end is in sight?

Martin Storey KAL: Squares 4 – 7 big catch up!

Despite my best intentions, I’ve struggled to find the time for photography and blogging whilst keeping up with knitting and blocking on schedule. I’ve finally got a quiet weekend, I’m past a very busy period at work and I’m almost over the cold that I’ve had for the last week. So here we go!

Square 4 Lace Tree

Square 4 - Lace Tree

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The tree theme continues from the previous square, but this time it’s lace instead of using knit and purl to make a texture. Also the first lace of the KAL! I didn’t like this clue as much as all the previous ones, I thought the motif was a bit small inside the square leaving a lot of blank space and for me it’s just not as pretty as the tree from square 3. I found this square harder to knit from memory as well, the pattern repeat didn’t seem as symmetrical or easy to remember as the previous ones.

Squares 1-4

At this stage the blanket is looking very grey-heavy, but I know there are other shades waiting in my project bag so I had faith that this would balance out as we got further through.

 

Square 5 Moss Spots

Square 5 - Moss Spots

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The common theme of garter stitch border, stocking stitch panel and a textured motif continues in square 5. Sadly I didn’t find the moss spots motif very inspiring, but it was super-easy to knit from memory so I got through all the squares for this clue pretty quickly.

Squares 1-5

I’m not a huge fan of this yarn shade either (Almond), it actually looks a bit nicer in the photo than it does in reality. It’s hard to explain why I’m not keen on it, the shade is just a bit dull I suppose. On the other hand, it does help break up the greys nicely!

 

Square 6 Slip Stitch Tweed

Square 6 - Slip Stitch Tweed

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The clever slip stitch colourwork from square 2 returns in a slightly different format in square 6 and the Almond shade makes a return as well, alongside Cocoa Bean. I really like the tweed-style effect that is produced with this pattern, it’s very homely. Changing colour every 2 rows made progress on this square probably the slowest of the lot so far, but the effect is worth it. I was pleasantly surprised at how flat this square comes out, up until now all the other squares have curled really badly and needed blocking quite heavily to get them flat. On the downside, and I don’t know if this was just my gauge, but this square came out very rectangular. Mine were much wider than they were tall so despite being very flat they still needed a good blocking to correct the dimensions.

Squares 1-6

At first I wasn’t convinced about Cocoa Bean for this square, but now I’ve seen it knitted up and together with the other squares, I actually really like it.

 

Square 7 Lace Heart

Square 7 - Lace Heart

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Lace makes a comeback for this slightly unusual square. It starts much the same as all the others with a garter stitch border but instead of a stocking stitch main panel with purl stitches used for texture, this square has a reverse stocking stitch panel with knit stitches used to make the motif texture! I’ve never knitted reverse stocking stitch before and it was really off-putting, I had to concentrate really hard to ensure I was working on the right or wrong side as required. The increases and decreases were used to very clever effect around the edges to make the heart stand out from the reverse stocking stitch panel. Despite how much I enjoyed the reverse stocking stitch effect and the construction of the heart motif, I felt that the proportions of the heart shape were a bit off and it doesn’t feel like it’s central in the square either. So a bit of a love-hate thing with this square!

Squares 1-7

This is a new shade (Oats) and definitely one of my favourite shades in the colourway so far, along with Moonstone which I already loved from the Kaffe Fassett KAL and Mole from square 3 of this KAL which is still a firm favourite. There’s also a nice balance now between the greys and the naturals. Considering how much Umber was in the shopping list, I’m guessing it will feature heavily in the final clue next month. As Umber is a sort of brown-meets-grey shade, it should help tie all the greys and naturals together quite nicely.

Phew, so that’s me up to date! I’ve only just started on square 7 so I’ve got plenty left to do and in fact I’m behind on square 6 as well so there’s lots to do in the next few weeks…

Martin Storey KAL square 3 – Textured Tree

They say that three is the magic number and with Rowan’s Martin Storey KAL I’m convinced! Clue 3 has arrived and you can download it here. On a similar vein to clue 1, the new clue has a garter stitch border around a stocking stitch panel with a simple but effective textured pattern using just purls and knits. This time it’s a stylised tree and I think it looks really great, the stitch definition in Pure Wool Worsted is excellent so the tree stands out very nicely. The shade for this clue is new to me, in the Calm colourway it is Mole which is a lovely, soft, grey-brown colour. This is definitely my favourite square so far!

Again there’s a very clear chart this week which has made knitting these a doddle so far. I’ve finished two but only one was blocked in time for me to photograph it. Looking good against clues 1 and 2, don’t you think?

Square 3 - Textured Tree

I did a lot of blocking last weekend so I’m just about up to speed so far, only a couple of squares currently not blocked. Pretty good, I hope I can keep that up and not get swamped under tons of unblocked squares! How is you progress coming along?

New summer yarn – Rowan Softyak DK

Rowan’s most exciting spring/summer release this year is Softyak DK, a gorgeous yarn perfect for the warmer and transitional months. I’m sure yarn made from yak must exist, I’ve never seen it before so it was a real surprise to me when I saw this. Blended with yak and cotton, the yarn has a chain construction and slightly mottled effect due to the differences in why the dye is absorbed by the mixture of fibres. Even more surprising is how wonderfully soft the yarn is, I expected yak to be a bit scratchy but thatcouldn’t be further from the truth! It’s really comfortable against the skin.

Softyak DK

The palette contains a mixture of pastels and brights, making it versatile for your summer wardrobe.

Softyak DK 230 CreamSoftyak DK 231 SteppeSoftyak DK 232 PlainSoftyak DK 233 PrairieSoftyak DK 234 SavannahSoftyak DK 235 PampasSoftyak DK 236 LeaSoftyak DK 237 MeadowSoftyak DK 238 HeathSoftyak DK 239 PlateauSoftyak DK 240 PastureSoftyak DK 241 LawnSoftyak DK 242 PeatSoftyak DK 243 Terrain

To accompany the new yarn is the Softyak DK Collection of new designs. These are a few of my personal favourites.

Karma

This is quite a simple jumper, but the gathered hem at the bottom gives it a really interesting line.

Karma 1Karma 2

Nambu

The simple lines make this easy to wear and allows the block colours to be the key focus of this cardigan. The relatively short body will make this great for showing off your nice summer dresses and skirts.

Nambu 1Nambu 2

Jumo

A really cute tunic with some interesting textures, I especially like the ribbed cap sleeves. I’m also a sucker for a keyhole on front or back neck, so that’s a winning detail for me.

Jumo 1Jumo 2

Tinley

Another example of simple lines allowing the colours to do the talking. I really like the exaggerated shoulder shaping and the flattering neckline on this.

Tinley 1Tinley 2

Ketu

I fell in love with this jumper the second I turned the page and saw it. Something about the chunky garter stitch edges, the little buttons on the neckline and the overall shaping really capture my imagination.

Ketu 1Ketu 2

I was so taken with both Ketu and Tinley that I already have the yarn to knit both! I swatched for Ketu over the weekend and I’m now ready to cast on. I’m knitting it in the same shade as featured in the photo (Plateau). For Tinley I have chosen Plain as the base colour and will be using the remaining balls of Plateau for the stripes after I finish knitting Ketu with it.

DSC01599

I hope this has inspired you to check out Softyak DK, it really is a lovely yarn and I can’t wait to have a finished garment to wear!

Martin Storey KAL square 2 – Slip Stitch Nordic Stripe

Clue 2 is here already, it’s come around fast! You can get the details here. This square might look intimidating if you’ve never done colourwork before, but this is actually a very clever cheat! Instead of true stranded colourwork like Fair Isle or intarsia, this uses slipped stitches to carry colour from one row up over following rows.

I was very glad to see Moonstone featured again this week, it’s such a gorgeous colour. Against the dark of Charcoal Grey it really glows.

The first repeat of this was a little tricky as I got used to how the slipped stitches worked and switching between the garter stitch and stocking stich rows threw me off a little to start with. After I’d done the whole repeat once, I finally understood the construction and after that I knitted the rest of the square completely from memory. I also carried my yarn when changing colours so that I didn’t have to cut and sew ends every time. In this square I carried either 2 or 4 rows depending on where the colour change happened. The 4-row carries were a bit messy especially because they carried up from a purl stitch on the right side, which doesn’t give as neat a result as if you carried from a knit row. If this was going to be the visible edge of the finished product I wouldn’t have been happy with how messy the carried colours are but because all these edges will be seamed to another square or the blanket edging, they will never be visible. Lucky me! With the pattern memorised and knowing I can carrying the colours between stripes, finishing the rest of the squares for this clue should be a breeze.

Square 2 - yarn carries on reverse

 

If you’ve never done slipped stitches before, the trick is to not pull the yarn tightly across the back of the stitches, otherwise you’ll pull them too tight. This will make your knitting look puckered and also throw off your gauge which will give you squares of the wrong width. Speaking of gauge, I did knit a swatch for square 1 to get the right needle size because my knitting is very loose and I always have to go down at least 1mm in needle size to get the right fit! I winged it with this square and just used the same needle size that I gauged for on the first square. If you often have awkward gauge or want to be absolutely sure you’re using the right needle size, do take the time to make a gauge swatch. But if you’re brave, just go for it! Some good blocking and then the final sewing together should even out any minor gauge mismatches.

Square 2 - Slip Stitch Nordic Stripe (detail)

As this design doesn’t have a garter stitch border, you’ll find that the top and bottom roll over a lot. When blocking, make sure to use plenty of pins on the top and bottom edge (if you aren’t using blocking wires) to make sure it lies flat and doesn’t curl back inbetween the pins, otherwise you’ll get really scalloped edges. The fact that the squares will ultimately be sewn together or attached to the border should help keep those edges straight in the finished product, but the more you can help yourself now via blocking the less trouble it will be later and the better the final blanket will look.

Square 2 - Slip Stitch Nordic Stripe

Let me know how your KAL is coming along. What do you think of this faux-colourwork technique?

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