Project – Symi Wrap

Pattern: Symi Wrap
Designer: Vibe Ulrik Sondergaard
Publication: Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine 53

Yarn: Rowan Kidsilk Haze Glamour
Shade: Smoke (285)
Smoke 285

Yarn: Rowan Fine Lace
Shade: Gunmetal (929)
Gunmetal 929

Ravelry: Symi Wrap

Symi Wrap FrontSymi Wrap Back

 

Photos by Andrew Woodhouse Photography

 

Good

  • Kidsilk Haze Glamour is so pretty! You can read more about my thoughts when I first received the yarn in this post. It was lovely to work with and I’m very pleased with how it looks knitted up.
  • Rowan’s customer service is excellent. One of the three balls of KSH Glamour was completely devoid of sequins apart from maybe half a dozen right in the middle of the ball. I hadn’t noticed this when I picked the yarn up in store, in fact it didn’t come to light until I’d been knitting with it for about 40 minutes and suddenly realised that I hadn’t spotted a single one yet. Luckily for me I usually buy my Rowan at John Lewis (Nottingham) and their stores each have one or more Rowan employees who work in the haberdashery department. On handing over my defective ball to the Design Consultant, I was given a replacement immediately from the shelves with an apology. I also emailed Rowan directly to report the fault, from which my comments and photos were sent straight over to their quality department to investigate. Brilliant!
  • Although a bit complicated to follow (see below) the pattern is great, it all worked perfectly, and the final result is very very pretty.

Bad

  • Perhaps it was bad luck or maybe just my perception, but it seemed like far more of the sequins in the yarn ended up on the wrong side of the knitting than on the right side. I would ideally have liked more sequins to be visible when wearing it, but it’s still very pretty.
  • Lace is hard! I have a terrible tendency to forget to do or otherwise lose my yarn overs/yarn forwards and I am also too lazy to count my stitches at the end of each lace row. This means that when I miss one (which happens too often!) I don’t find out until I’ve finished the current lace row, purled the next row, then got to the end of the next lace row and realise that I don’t have enough stitches. I really should do much better at this.
  • In addition to the above, this lace pattern is a 28-row repeat, where all the rows are so different that I could not cope without constantly reading the pattern. This proved difficult when knitting whilst watching the TV or whilst knit group – much concentration was required!
  • Alongside the main 28-row lace repeat, the lace edging was a different 4-row repeat. This meant you had to check carefully to work the right edging row that matches the main lace repear two. Even more confusingly, the edging repeated rows 2-5 of a set of 5 rows, so you had to skip row 1 after the first set. Arg!
    My top tip for this is to write out in a list the row numbers for the 28-row lace repeat and then next to each one, write which of the 4 edging rows you will need to use. Magazine 53 is too big to tote around so I was working from a photocopy, which meant I could write on it easily. At the bottom of the page I had this list:
    1-5
    2-2
    3-3
    4-4
    5 –5
    6-2
    7-3
    8-4
    9-5
    10-2
    And so on, up to row 28-4. This meant I could easily check at any time which edging I should be doing on my current row.
  • The original pattern is for 2 balls of Kidsilk Haze, which I substituted for 2 balls of Kidsilk Haze Glamour. The Glamour yarn is slightly thicker than the original KSH but not so much that I worried it would affect the garment size much (it didn’t) but what I completely forgot is that Glamour has a much shorter ball (by about 50m/55yd). By the time I finished the first ball, I realised I was not even half way through, so I had to go and buy a third ball! This was easily done though, so all was not lost.

Conclusions

  • I should read yarn specs more carefully when substituting!
  • Lace work really does need concentration. Using markers to note lace repeats makes it much easier to spot where the stitch count is over or under and work out how to fix such mistakes.
  • Tip – measuring the length of the garment was difficult due to the stretchy nature of the lace. Blocking stretches it out quite a bit, so try to give it a good flatten out on a table or the floor when measuring progress. My gauge put the finished length at a total of 9 repeats of the 28-row lace pattern, so that should be a good guide for you to work towards if you try this pattern in future.
  • Lastly, I can’t wait to wear this! I am going to a wedding in September and have two outfits picked out depending on whether the weather is late summer warm or early autumn chilly. This wrap will go with my “chilly” outfit so I feel a bit bad that I almost want it to be not very hot on the day! (The dress in the above photos is not the one I plan to wear for the wedding, as I didn’t want to give my outfit away just yet…)

Project – Labyrinth Jumper

Pattern: Labyrinth
Designer: Wendy Bernard

Yarn: Rowan RYC Extra Fine Merino DK (discontinued)
Shades: Forest (895) Bark (894)

Ravelry: Labyrinth

LabyrinthLabyrinth

Photos by Andrew Woodhouse Photography

This project and I have a long and patchy history together. I started it way back in May 2011 and finished it in a reasonable amount of time. Unfortunately the flat I was sharing with a friend at the time didn’t have enough space for me to easily block garments so it got stashed away for months waiting to be blocked. I finally blocked it in June 2012 and although the body came out fitting perfectly, the sleeves came out totally uneven and one of them was way too baggy. A few months later I finally ripped the first sleeve back to before the bell increases and started reworking it. It took me five months to finish redoing both sleeves, and some more time again to block them afresh. I finally got it all finished in spring this year, but it’s been too warm to wear it ever since! This weekend I finally got some nice photos of the finally finished product, so I thought it was about time I got it up on the blog!

Good

  • The pattern for this project is amazing, well worth the $7 price tag in my opinion. The instructions are detailed, clear and keep you totally in the know about how it’s all going to work together. There are options for both long and short sleeves included, short row shaping for the larger bust sizes, and helpful tips about when to try on as you go so that you can ensure it will fit. I really can’t recommend it enough.
  • I made a few adjustments in my version: I made the neckline slightly higher than the standard in the pattern and also made the body shorter (the pattern is very long down the hips which I didn’t want). I’m normally very nervous about making adjustments, but it was really easy due to how helpfully the pattern is written.
  • The colour is gorgeous, such a lovely shade of green!
  • The fit is fantastic and I’m just so pleased with the final product. I can’t wait for it to be cold enough to wear it!

Bad

  • I bought two 10-ball bags of this yarn on clearance when it was discontinued, one bag each of the green and brown. I first used most of the brown and a little of the green to make a cardigan, but when I blocked it the cardigan grew enormously so it looked like I was wearing some sort of comedy clown cardigan! I couldn’t bear to rework the entire thing, so I tried shrinking it in the washing machine. After several washes with no obvious change, the final wash felted and ripped it, so it had to go in the bin. Knowing this jumper was made with the same yarn, I was terrified of blocking it. Luckily this project is made in such a way that you knit it quite small and block it up quite heavily, in order to get the nice fit, so the body wasn’t a problem. As mentioned above, the sleeves did suffer from the same issue I’d had with the cardigan, but luckily I was able to rectify the situation, but not without some tears and swearing! I would warn anyone off this yarn, or to be very careful when blocking it, but as it’s been discontinued for some time, I doubt anyone is likely to be using it in future!
  • Having been burned with this yarn before, I think I stalled and dallied a lot in this project (even on top of the setbacks) because I was so subconsciously worried about what would happen when I tried to block it. It’s a real shame that it took me nearly two years to have it ready to wear!

Conclusions

  • I really ought to block my gauge swatches. Despite the disaster with the cardigan in the same yarn, I still never do so. At least now I know just how badly it can go wrong if I don’t. And I’ll have no-one to blame but myself!
  • Top-down raglan patterns are the best (how many times have I said this now?)
  • Well-written, clear, supportive patterns are the bestest.

Many thanks to Andy for the fabulous photography.

Project – Fine Art Socks (Competition Prize)

I ran a blog competition in May for one lucky reader to win a pair of hand knitted socks. This project was the prize for the winner!

Pattern: Goose

Designer: Marie Wallin

Publication: Fine Art Collection by Rowan

 

Yarn: Fine Art by Rowan

Shade: Serin (301)
Serin (301)

 

Ravelry: Competition Prize Socks

 

Socks Colour Detail

 

Good

  • Fine art was wonderful to work with. It was soft, smooth and absolutely trouble-free in every way.
  • The colours are so gorgeous and it was wonderful to see them knitted properly showcased once knitted up.
  • The pattern was really easy to follow so even though I’ve only knitted one pair of socks before and that was about 4 years ago, I found it very easy to turn these out.

Bad

  • My tension is generally quite loose so when you’re knitting socks on 2mm and 2.5mm, there isn’t really any room to adjust for tension by going down a needle size. Unfortunately this meant that after I’d turned the first heel and was working along the length of the foot, I realised the sock was far too big. The only solution was to rip it out and start again knitting the next size down from the pattern, which gave perfect results in the end but did lose me a lot of time and was quite frustrating. No fault of the pattern or the yarn, though.
  • My only other complaint is that I ended up with about 30g of yarn left. If I’d known there would be so much left over, I would have made the socks longer from cuff to heel, as they are only quite short ankle socks as it is.

Conclusions

  • I am very jealous that Amanda is getting a pair of socks and I’m not! I will definitely be buying some Fine Art to make myself a snuggly pair of socks for winter. The shades are all so gorgeous that I still haven’t decided which one I want, but I suspect it will be Raven (304).
Update – 4th August 2013

After receiving her prize, Amanda sent me some lovely photos.

Amanda's new socks

It seems she only managed to take one photo of the socks actually on her feet before her daughter decided they were the best thing ever and promptly stole them:

Stealing Mum's socks!Socks are cool!

Before deciding she was now done with socks and kicking them off!

Bye-bye, socks!

I think we can all agree that’s pretty much the cutest set of sock project photos ever.

Project – Jetty Tunic

Pattern: Jetty

Designer: Cecily Glowik MacDonald

 

Yarn: Andes by Debbie Bliss

Shade: Coral (370007)

 

Ravelry: Jetty

 

Jetty Front Jetty Cables

Unfortunately the colour didn’t come out too well in the main photo, I think the cable detail photo shows a slightly closer representation of the actual shade. It’s a very pretty salmon/coral shade with a slight sheen in stronger light.

 

Good

  • The yarn. Andes is so unbelievably soft! When I describe it to people, I say it’s soft like kittens. They usually look at me a bit weirdly until they touch it, then the usual responses is “Oh, it really IS like kittens!” Lovely, lovely stuff.
  • The yardage / metreage. I’ve been in love with Andes ever since I first saw it in John Lewis, the colours along with its amazing softness were completely enchanting. When I saw 9 skeins in a JL clearance sale some time ago, I bought it without second thought. After I finished my last project, I decided it was time to find something for this lovely yarn, and the fabulous pattern search on Ravelry didn’t disappoint. Matching the required amount of yarn when you’re not using the recommended brand is always tricky and I was worried I might not have enough, but in the end I used just shy of 7 skeins so I have 2 left to make something else with. Bonus!
  • The simplicity. This garment is so simple and yet really quite visually arresting – I think it’s the lovely line of the waist shaping along with the cable panel that makes such a great combination.
  • Pattern clarity. I didn’t get confused at any point understanding what the pattern needed me to to do as it’s very well written. The cable panel is provided in both written instructions and a chart so you can follow whichever you prefer to work with.
  • Options. The pockets are optional and the pattern is written well in this regard, so it’s not a struggle to include or exclude them.
  • Top-down and in-the-round. This is, without a doubt, my favouritest way to knit garments. You can try on as you go and I think the results look just lovely.
  • Finishing my finishing. As soon as I’d finished the knitting, I started sewing in the ends (yawn). I had those done the very same day and then I did the blocking a couple of days after that. Aren’t I good?!

Bad

  • Confusing repeats. Whilst doing the waist shaping, you are running cable repeats as well, but unfortunately these repeats don’t match up in any way. I found I had to run two row counters to make sure I kept my cable and shaping repeats correct, otherwise my brain would have melted and run out of my ears. Not too taxing, but important to make sure you increase both counters after each round!
  • Symmetrical. This is only a minor niggle, but without the pockets (I didn’t fancy them) the tunic is completely symmetrical so I don’t know which is the front! I might have to sew a little label in the “back” so I don’t wear it back-to-front in future and have boob-stretch in the back…

Conclusions

  • Cables are still the best
  • Row counters are your friend
  • I actually can do my finishing in a timely fashion if I put my mind to it!
  • SOFT LIKE KITTENS

Project – Elise cardigan

Pattern: Elise

Designer: Sarah Hatton

Publication: The Cocoon Collection by Rowan

 

Yarn: Cocoon by Rowan

Shade: Bilberry (812)

 

Ravelry: Elise

 

 

Good

  • The cables. Oh, the cables! They are so gorgeous, I can’t even begin to tell you!
  • The colour of the yarn. It’s a lovely shade of purple that shines silvery in the light, so very pretty.
  • It’s so cosy. Cocoon is so wonderfully thick and soft and snuggly, I’m going to love wearing this in the winter.

Bad

  • The sleeves are a bit too big/baggy around. Unfortunately they are knit flat and sewn up, which means until you’ve sewn up the hems it’s hard to tell how they’ll look and if you aren’t happy with them, they are a huge pain to correct. Mine seem to match the pattern spec, so I think the pattern intends them to be that way, but be warned if you make this. I’d make the sleeves slimmer than the pattern suggests.
  • It took me ages to finish this project, far longer that it would have in the past. This is entirely because I took up knitting when I was newly single for the first time in a long time and have since been able to knit as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted. This project I started just a few weeks before I completely unexpectedly met a new special someone in my life who I’ve been with ever since. The excitement of a new relationship ate into my knitting time a lot, so this project slowed to a crawl for quite some time.
  • It took me even longer to get around to blocking it! (9 months, if I must be honest) I don’t really know why it took me so long, but the main cause was probably that I have a terrible memory and after putting the finished garment away somewhere safe, I never saw it so was never reminded to block the damn thing. I finally blocked it about 6 weeks ago maybe and have worn it once, but spring is now definitely here and so it will have to go away till winter.
  • The shedding. Oh, the shedding! Much though cocoon is beautiful and soft and lovely, it sheds fibres like nothing else. I’m hoping it will ease with time, but any tips on how to deal with this would be much appreciated!

Conclusions

  • Knitting top-down garments with sleeves knitted in the round is by far my preferred way of working, because it allows for trying on as you go along and allows for easier rectifying of problems if they happen. In future I’ll be more wary and careful if knitting flat sleeves and maybe even look into converting the sleeves to be knit in the round.
  • I really must get better at finishing my finishing!
  • Perhaps I should research yarns more before I buy them, or at least find out how to (or even if you can) deal with yarns that shed.
  • Cables are the best.
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