Rowan’s Martin Storey KAL 2

Rowan have recently announced their second KAL designed by Martin Storey. After it took me so long to finish the last one, I was leaning towards not taking part this time, but when I saw the suggested colourways I just had to get involved! You may recall that I posted last year about knitting an ottoman cover to match our new sofas, well I also bought some yarn at the same time for cushion covers. I posted earlier in the month that I was working on one of the cushions while on the train:

The three shades I bought for the ottoman cover and the cushion covers were Umber, Moonstone (pictured above) and Almond all from Rowan’s Pure Wool Worsted range. Well it just so happens that all three of those shades are in the Calm colourway! Along with lots of other shades that will look gorgeous in our living room. So yes, I’m sold! The other colourways are Blues, Evergreen and Spice. Personally I really like Spice as well, but Calm is a much better match for our decor. If you want to jump straight to the juicy details, the shopping list can be downloaded here.

The first clue will be released on 28th January with subsequent clues being released every two weeks. The KAL closes towards the end of May when there will be a competition for completed projects in which you could win a £100 yarn hamper. If that’s not exciting enough, you can also enter on Facebook to win the yarn for the colourway of your choice for the KAL. Fantastic!

I’m all ready to get going, here you can see my colourway along with my footstool and in progress cushion cover. I’m so excited, I think it’s going to look great!

Martin Storey KAL - Calm colourway

Will you be taking part? If so, what colourway do you like?

Rowan Mystery Afghan KAL – Finally finished!

So I’m back with a bang! Can you believe it’s been almost 2 years since Rowan first launched their Martin Storey Mystery Afghan KAL? If it’s been so long that you’ve forgotten, you can see my other blog posts here. And I have finally finished the huge amount of sewing required just in time (OK, a little bit late) to gift the blanket to my brother and new sister-in-law on their wedding. I think it looks absolutely amazing and I’m so pleased that they like it too.

Here are some photos of the finished Afghan spread out in our guest room. It’s a dark winter’s day here today so the lighting wasn’t great, but I think the colours still came out reasonably well.

PWW Afghan Complete

PWW Afghan TopPWW Afghan Bottom Left

PWW Afghan Bottom RightPWW Afghan Middle

What an epic project. I stopped and started so many times that it’s taken me 1 year and 8 months to finish. Yikes! But what a fantastic sense of satisfaction now it’s done. I hope this will inspire you to pick up one of your long term languishing projects over the Christmas period.

A Summer of Light

As promised, this is the first of my reviews from the Rowan spring/summer collection for 2015. Summerlite 4ply is a sumptuous new cotton yarn which uses 100% of the finest quality cotton. The finish of the yarn is matt, but it still feels beautifully soft. There are 12 shades in a lovely summer palette:

417 Pure White418 Washed Linen419 Duck Egg420 Blushes421 Buttermilk422 Still Grey424 Periwinkle426 Pinched Pink428 High Tide429 Navy Ink431 Pepper Pot432 Aubergine

To accompany the yarn is a collection of patterns from Martin Storey which show the yarn off to great effect with a mixture of cables, lace and colourwork. These are just a few of my favourites:

AmandierHellebore
Amandier
Hellebore

These two are lovely little garments that would be great for the slight coolness of a summer evening, just to keep the chill off. The lovely lacework and stitch textures used show this fine yarn off to great effect.

ArgentineLunaire
Argentine
Lunaire

I’m a big fan of cables so these both get my vote! There’s something just so delicious about a little cabled jumper. Both of these also rather excitingly feature beading! That isn’t a technique I’ve tried before and I think it’s great to see Rowan including it in their latest designs. The best thing is that either jumper would work fine without the beads, so anyone who doesn’t want to be quite that adventurous could simply leave them out.

RoseanBelle Du Jour
Rosean
Belle Du Jour

My last picks feature stunning colourwork in simple shapes, which is a great combination. Rosean in particular is a very simple and flattering shape, but made really special by the lovely rose pattern. Belle Du Jour adds some extra interest by having lace sleeves and hem which I think makes that a fascinating project.

If you’d like to see more, you can browse the whole Summerlite 4ply collection on Rowan’s website.

This yarn has enchanted me so much that I will be knitting a design from the collection. Hortensia struck me as a really wearable design that should be good for in-between seasons as well if dressed in the right way. I’ll be knitting it in shade 428 High Tide, watch this space for a project post in the future!

Hortensia

Rowan Mystery Afghan KAL – On The Home Straight

Despite all the current excitement being about the Kaffe Fassett KAL, I still have the Martin Storey Afghan KAL plodding along in my knitting queue. A whole bunch of life drama and regular commitments meant that it was completely impossible for me to keep up with the demanding schedule of 6 squares per week and so I very quickly fell behind. I’m pleased to say that in the last couple of months I’ve made some fantastic progress and a couple of weeks ago I finally finished all my squares. Don’t they look great?

Squares All Knitted

In this photo there are slightly more than half the squares blocked and ready for sewing together. It just goes to show much flatter they are once blocked, because the unblocked pile is much taller even though it has fewer squares in it!

Week 8 Ripple Cable

Pattern Download

Week 8 Ripple Cable

This is the final square clue for the KAL and the only one I haven’t posted about before. I knitted some of the other squares in a funny order due to the time constraints I had, often leaving more complicated clues after just one or two squares to finish an easier clue from further along in the sequence. The Week 8 squares I left until the very end, when everything else was done.

On opening the chart, I was convinced that it was going to be a nightmare to knit as it looked so complicated and fiddly. In actual fact it turned out to be quite a simple and regular repeat that I was able to do from memory after just a few times so I managed to rattle off all six squares for this clue with no trouble at all! This really helped me with getting past the main stage and towards the final hurdle.

I love cables and lace so, despite being a latecomer, I think this has become my favourite square of the whole blanket!

Week 9 Cable Trim

Pattern Download

Week 9 Cable Trim

This meant that it was finally time to cast on the cable edge, which I did excitedly just as soon as the squares were all knitted up.

Since then I’ve knitted about 40% of the edging. It needs to be very long but as it’s narrow it knits up pretty quickly. I want to block a small section soon to check how much longer it gets when blocked so that I can be sure how much I’ll need to go all around the edge of my squares. The pattern suggests about 550cm for the edging but my squares have all come out at 22cm rather than the 20cm recommended in the pattern, so I might need more. Plus the edging is curling really badly due to the cables, so I’d rather get it blocked nice and flat and even before I need to sew it on.

So there we go, the end is definitely in sight!

Cable Edge Started

Rowan Mystery Afghan KAL – Over The Hump

Well, hello again! Unfortunately my weekly KAL updates were thrown out of kilter by being away on holiday for week, then my team leader at work being on holiday for 2 weeks, then various other commitments and minor health issues since have left me without a lot of energy or time for knitting and blogging, which has caused exponential slide in my KAL timetable. To try to keep up with the latest clue, I decided to just make 2 squares per week so that I could at least see what the finished squares looked like and talk about the patterns, but even that turned out to be too much to cope with.

After my trip to the Rowan Mill for the Ambassadors conference (more on that when I have time to write up another blog post!) I realised that I’d lost count of how many squares I’d finished for each week and in which colour, so I was at risk of duplicating squares if I wasn’t careful. To get everything back on track, I got all my squares together in piles for each week and made a spreadsheet (of course!) of how many I’d done in each colour for each week. I was very sad to find that I was only half way, when I’d felt that I must have been further along than that!

I’ve managed a few more squares since then, I now have a total of 28 completed and 20 still to finish so I’m definitely over the hump. I’m way behind Rowan’s schedule, but then I’m not sure how anyone with a life to lead has managed to keep up. Very well done if you have!

Lets have a quick round-up of the patterns that I’ve got to since my last post…

Week 4 – Lace Kisses

Pattern Download

Week 4 - Lace Kisses

I had heard from some other knitters that this square could come out a little short, so on the first one I added 2 extra rows of Stocking stitch both above and below the lace panel, but the square was still a bit short. On the second one I added 4 rows at the top and bottom (instead of only 2) and was much happier with the result – definitely closer to square. You’ll notice that the green one below is the one with only 2 rows added at each end, the purple has 4 at each end.

So far I’ve only managed 2 squares of this pattern – I found the repeat a little tricky to master from memory so they require a bit more time and attention than some of the other squares. I’ll have to get back to them soon, though!

Week 4 Lace Kisses

Week 5 – Dots & Dashes

Pattern Download

Week 5 - Dots & Dashes

This was another square that I’d heard could come up short, so I added 2 rows of Stocking stitch between the garter stitch rows and the first row of dashes at the bottom, then again at the top between the last row of dashes and the garter stitch edging. This gave me nice equal squares.

I initially came unstuck because I’d somehow missed the “Row 2 and every following alternate row” so my repeats were only half height and the bobbles were on the wrong side! It didn’t help that I was knitting when very tired… I asked around because I couldn’t see why the pattern didn’t work, and was put right by some other KAL knitters. This is definitely why I prefer working from charts, that sort of mistake is far less likely to happen! After that, week 5 became a favourite in the easy-to-remember stakes. It’s a nice, short repeat that meant I could complete a whole square without any reference to the pattern after just one or two repeats.

The only thing I’m not sure about is my bobbles, they don’t seem to protrude as much as the ones in Rowan’s photo. I haven’t blocked any squares from this pattern yet, so hopefully that will help. Two of these are done, four still to go.

Week 5 Dots & Dashes

Week 6 – Little Doughnuts

Pattern Download

Week 6 - Little Doughnuts

Week 6 is one of my favourite squares for appearance. I love the contrast of the slightly shorter garter stitch squares with the taller stocking stitch squares containing the doughnuts. For once I got pretty much a perfect square with no adjustments needed to the height, so that made things easier. This is another very easy repeat to remember and I managed to burn through all six of these squares pretty quickly, including knitting two almost entirely whilst at the Rowan Ambassador conference!

Week 6 Little Doughnuts

Week 7 French Plait

Pattern Download

Week 7 - French Plait

I’ve only just started a square from week 7, but so far I’m enjoying it very much. Another short, symmetrical repeat that is easy to memorise from the excellent chart provided. I love a good cable, although I don’t knit them often, so I’ve really enjoyed the result of this pattern. The garter stitch panel looks really lovely behind the cable plaits as well.

Personally I’m not a fan of messing about with cable needles if I don’t have to, so to knit these squares and the doughnuts from week 6 I’ve been using this method of cabling without a cable needle. The first part of the video shows how to do cables with a cable needle, so if you don’t need that information then use this link which skips you ahead to 3:41 in the video where she shows the needle-less method I’ve been using. It seems a little scary and fiddly initially, but once you’ve mastered it you’ll be wondering why you ever needed a cable needle at all!

Week 7 French Plait

 

This is what my collection of squares looked like at the half-way point (some blocked, some not). How are you getting on with yours?

Half The Blanket Squares

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