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I, er, iOS.

I decided to see if having an app would make me blog better.

In the past year or more I’ve become obsessed with weaving, helped along by some ennui in knitting and crochet, plus an odd sort of pain in my left forefinger, the one that tensions the yarn when I crochet. Which served as an excuse to do more weaving.

I now have three looms, and have been waffling about getting a fourth.

Stay tuned. In the meantime, admire these.

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And down she goes

In my last post but one I was talking about slippery slopes, wasn’t I? And left you without explaining what I meant.

I was referring to this stole I made. I had some balls of rayon that Jaishree gifted me, which were sources of amazement to me primarily because of the fact that they stayed rolled. I find the yarn so slippery I cannot manage to roll it from a hank, yet she actually Continue reading And down she goes

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About slippery slopes…

…and good intentions.

I did intend to be a more frequent blogger, honest. That is, when I was not thinking of shutting down the blog altogether. But well. There’s work (March was hectic), some weaving, lots of reading (Simon Brett, an abortive Cecilia Ahern [I think I’m too old for her, I was quite bored and couldn’t finish the book], Dick Francis [I actually found one that apparently I hadn’t read], lots of comfort reads) and reading always beats most other things. And I think it always will.

So. Only a couple of posts in March.

Among the things I wove in March was this scarf, with some textured yarn I bought from Pony, that I would normally never have bought for crochet or knitting.

Continue reading About slippery slopes…

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A year’s work.

On Ravelry there is a group which began in 2010 for people wanting to make 10 shawls in 2010. I’ve bee a member since then, but never have managed to make 10 in ’10, 11 in ’11 and so on. I did have a narrow miss last year, when I achieved 11 in ’12. That was disappointing. The rules are strict, you can’t pass off a scarf no matter how complicated or yarn-consuming as a shawl or stole.

Continue reading A year’s work.

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Chuffed.

I’m feeling very chuffed with myself just right now. I finished my latest test crochet, which involved a sideways (pun intended) way of looking at regular crochet. It’s a lovely shawl using lacy interlinked stitches, plus the colour, for once, is harmonious. Take a look.

Doing its thing on the lawn.

Continue reading Chuffed.

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A toss-up

It was a toss-up whether I should use a lull in my schedule to blog or get back to knitting on the Summer Mystery Shawlette or a project I’m testing for someone on Ravelry. Blogging won narrowly, if only because I can finish and get back to knitting. But once I lose the impetus to blog, it’ll not come back for a while.

I was reassured that I still do have readers (thank you, you know who). I’m not surprised that in general the incentive to blog or read blogs has declined with the rise of Ravelry. One neat project page there gives you absolutely everything you’d want to know about a project. Which means that writing a blog post that is interesting of itself is a great challenge. Some manage to do it with sheer brilliance of writing, some add personal details or philosophy, and some floor you with amazing images. I cannot do any of those; my writing is technically fine but lacking sparkle, I have no philosophy I’d feel comfortable sharing, my personal life is humdrum and my photography barely passes muster. Much of this is due to laziness, of course, and therefore self-perpetuating. I do not, of course, speak of those creative people who actually make up patterns or techniques and therefore have their blogging raw material handy.

However! As a tribute to my readers that are, here are a couple more things I made a while ago and never blogged about. They were commissioned by a friend for her toddler son but arrived too late to catch the fag end of last winter. Both were made with acrylic available locally, as being easiest to find and care for.

The first was the popular Baby Sophisticate pattern, which I adapted slightly to suit my yarn (a heavy worsted weight) and the finished size I was aiming for (Ravelled here). The second was Ola’s Vest (project page here) which caught my eye because of the stitch pattern. The mostly stockinette patterns suited me, since the yarn was thick anyway. I didn’t want to end up with body armour.

I only used my brain in working out how many stitches to cast on for the Sophisticate (which seemed to have worked and anyway I had a lot of help from the projects of other Ravellers), and in trying a different decrease for the v-shaping of the neck ribbing on Ola’s. The latter wasn’t very successful, since I was aiming for a sort of “merging into one another” sort of look and ended up with, “oh dear, that looks a mess, so glad it’s a small bit”. Ah well.

Both went to their owner, but I suppose I’ll have to wait until winter for posed pictures. The ones I took were poor, since I wanted to get them mailed off quickly (I’d delayed the finishing of them quite a bit so my conscience was troubling me already), so you’ll pardon me if I show dark indoors photographs. They are as yet my only mementos. The second one first.

Ola's vest

I must add, though, that I was fairly happy with how the ribbing ended up on the sleeves and neck. It looks as it ought to. I’m never comfortable with picking up stitches “evenly”. The thing grew, though, in the wash and now I wonder if I will have to wait until not this winter but the next to see it worn! That’s if the world hasn’t ended from a variety of causes in the meantime. The other thing to note is that my new (then) bamboo circular needle did not give me much pleasure. It was far too grippy for the acrylic (as I found on another more recent project) and I had to change to Denise plastic, which then worked swimmingly. Except that due to my hate of cutting yarn, I left ends dangling and purled instead of knitting, which made picking up the long slipped stitches a bit of a challenge. You want to solve one problem so you cut corners and create another!

And here’s the first sweater.

Trying for an artsy shot but failing

The blue-grey of this one means you get no idea of the actual colour from my photograph. Tough.

I didn’t weigh the sweaters, so I don’t know how much yarn they used. Yarn here is sold by weight and not length, which usually isn’t a problem if you are the creative sort of knitter and make up your own patterns or can just look at a finished piece and guess how to make it. You then generally have the knowledge to ask the guy in the shop for exact amounts of yarn. If you aren’t on the other hand that sort of knitter but rely heavily on being spoonfed by someone else’s hand, then you just walk into the shop and tell him the size of person the sweater is for and they can generally tell you how many grammes of the yarn you’ve chosen you will need to a nice degree of accuracy. Your problem then comes if you are using several different colours for a specific pattern and have to estimate how much of each you might need. Then you just buy and hope for the best. It’s a toss-up.

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Vicissitudes

A blog post from me after almost 6 months! Hope you’ve picked yourself up from the floor and haven’t hurt anything seriously. Things just got away from me, I’m afraid, and I just settled for recording my crochet/knitting progress on Ravelry, not that there was much to record, in any case. A combination of a growing baby and trying to do as many work assignments as possible (first, to replace my poor old iBook, and next to try and make enough for a trip to Malta next summer) meant I had little enthusiasm left for updating my blog.

What you see here is one of the few crochet projects I did complete, though I took a bit longer than I should have. It’s a test project for the designer, with yarn I bought in a destash from a friend.

The stitch pattern is fairly easy and you could memorise it in two repeats. What makes the (Rav link) Ashley Sweater (I wouldn’t call it a sweater, but then I’m not American – it’s a top) interesting is the neck detail of the folded back flap in a contrast colour.
Ashley top

Points of interest:
1. If I were to do it over, I’d choose to make it in the round and then split for the yoke, to save on the seaming of the sides. Even with the pattern repeat clearly marking the way, I wasn’t sure the seams wouldn’t pucker when I’d finished. Thankfully it didn’t but I don’t think that’s a reflection on my seaming skills, only a mad fluke.

2. Despite what the design says, I don’t think there is a “right side” and a “wrong side” to this pattern. Both look equally presentable, so doing it in the round wouldn’t make a difference to the appearance.

3. Trying to get the gauge specified in the pattern almost killed me, and where the original recommends a 4 mm hook, I used a 2.5 mm Clover. Only to have the actual garment gauge shrink compared to the swatch (doesn’t it always?). So I used the stitch counts for the 38″ finished bust size to suit my width (34″), and added one extra pattern repeat on the front before starting the sleeves, one extra repeat in the sleeves, one in the neck region and one more on the back after ending the sleeve section.

Even with all that, it shouldn’t have taken me so long, except I was demoralised by the gauge problem and couldn’t bear to take it up to finish. I have very little staying power or determination. In anything. Outside of staying up far too long to finish reading a pulpy novel.

4. The yarn (Rowan Linen Drape, now discontinued), came on those huge cardboard cones which lull you into thinking you have a mountain of yarn, when it’s mostly air. Good for my stashbusting, since using 9.5 skeins meant there’s a nice large hole in the stash. No knots in all those skeins. A trifle splitty, but not annoyingly so. A subtle shade, too. The only problem is the top weighs almost half a kilo. Perhaps wool would be lighter for the yardage, but then a holey woollen top would be impractical for all sorts of reasons. Acrylic might be a better bet (Indian acrylic, though, not the stiff and rough and thick foreign kind).

As always with crochet, I find it to give me a dense heavy fabric (though to be fair even my Crest of the Wave knit top is heavy – I never blogged that one!). So (a) I should rethink my instinct to use cotton or related heavy yarns (b) go down to no more than sportweight for crochet projects. Acrylic fingering weight, here I come!

I’d have loved to see how this yarn would work in a knit project, though.

5. I smartly bought a grey slip to wear under this, since I don’t want to be accused of obscenity again or prevented from wearing it in public (which both happened to me thanks to the husband and his mother for the abovementioned Crest of the Wave despite teaming it with a slip).

Which brings me to the other grievance, that having to wear so many layers makes this a difficult top to wear in the Cochin weather, where the temptation is to take as much off as possible, for as long through the year as possible. The same for the other top, making the whole rationale of choosing cotton (or linen-blend in this case) irrelevant.

So perhaps my next crochet wearable for me or Chandra will be acrylic. We shall see.

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Orange, not gold

Why are they called goldfish? I’d call them orangefish myself, but then I’m too literal and prosaic. Not that they aren’t charming, as “What’s in a name” and all that. Yes, I’m now the owner of a small aquarium, with a pair of fantailed  (or is it veiltailed) goldfish. I’d also got a pair of cute tiger barbs and (I think) platies, but they were hassling the goldfish, so I’ve changed them over for a pair each of balloon mollies and sharkfish. (Don’t mind me if I’m calling all the fish by the wrong names, I’m a fishkeeping novice). And then on Sunday we went to an aquarium expo and I picked up two pearlscaled goldfish.

Actually, I’ve been wanting a change in the colour spectrum, but I ended up coming home with those gold (orange) creatures once again. Ah well. Maybe one day I shall get my wish and end up with some nice blue and green ones. Or purple. And I definitely fell in love with those platies or whatever, bright orange with black tails and fins. Perhaps I should just have taken the smaller fish and not the large goldfish, because these are heavy eaters, and just as heavy in their, er…you know.

I haven’t got any good pictures of the fish. I have enough difficulty managing passable pictures of stationary objects in sunlight so you can imagine how troublesome it is to get any of flashing, flashy live creatures in a moving medium. I might one day. So until then I’ve decided to divert your attention with some other orange stuff. I’m quite kicked about this. Find my Rav page here.

Turiya's dress

This was a birthday present for the daughter of a friend back in December. And since I like to be pedantic, here are the details in my usual format.

Yarn: Some yarn that I think Heide sent me. I suppose it is some kind of acrylic, because there was no label, and a burn test made it melt. It’s about fingering weight and I have oodles left over.

Hook: 4.00mm

Pattern: I grafted the yoke from the Sweet Pea Dress (Rav link) by Sue Childress (from Crochet World Magazine, April 2008, available here from e-patternscentral.com as a PDF) on to a skirt that I sewed myself. I was very happy with the skirt bit, because for once I sewed reasonably straight lines on the sewing machine. But of course I couldn’t quite trust myself to sew the yoke to the skirt using the machine, what with it being a mix of media, yarn and cloth, so that bit I did by hand. The gathers came out fine, too. I actually tried to find a ready pattern in knit or crochet which would have all the instructions, but I didn’t find one I liked enough or was simple enough.

I didn’t want to make a full acrylic dress either, and anyway I’d had problems with the pattern when I tried making it. So this incarnation is much better.

Size: It fit a new three-year-old quite nicely, and I hope it will fit her for some time.

Time: About 4 days, and I did the sewing in one day.

Extra: It’s orange! Should have been pink, perhaps, since the recipient loves that colour, but I thought this was bright enough, wouldn’t you say? Initially my friend said she found it too hot, but apparently later went through a phase, as children do, of refusing to wear anything else to the park every evening. Made me happy. I hope that was true.

I know I’m not blogging frequently enough, but I find that all the bits and pieces of information I find it necessary to note down I do on Rav, leaving me with little to add elsewhere. Somehow I’m not confortable any longer blogging without a knit or crochet project to write about. The rest of my day is too dull to blog. It does make the blog monotonous, and intermittent, so I’m really grateful to you, my readers for sticking with me.

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Pinkish prose

More Marquise

More posing. You can tell I hate being photographed. But I love this top and for those I love, I can do anything. Well, most things. I’d loved the design when it first entered the Ravelry database, so when the designer said she was going to release it as a separate pattern and wanted people to test it, I jumped at the chance. Not to divert from tradition, I give you all the gory details.

Yarn: Schachenmayr nomotta Catania that a certain someone gave me. It has a nice shiny finish, and it was the same weight as the design recommends. However, I had to go down a few hook sizes to make gauge. I used about 5 skeins.

Hook: 3.25mm

Pattern: Marquise by Julia Vaconsin. It’s a Ravelry download. It was originally published in Yarn Forward magazine, Spring 2008. My project page is here. The stitches used are simple. The key is an ability to count stitches and remember those counts, because those are what make the shape. The darts are cleverly done, and the neck insert lace is lacy without being indecent, and the shells give a nice contrast to the ribbed structure of the rest of the body. Oh, and this pattern is available in child sizes as well.

Time: It took me about 6 weeks, however this was because we went to Europe for 3 of those weeks, and while I did carry the pattern and the project with me, understandably nothing got done on it, although I showed it to Carla.

Size: Small. I chose this size since Julia suggested it would look better with negative ease for someone who has curves.

Extra #1 This was my first ever top in either knit or crochet. I love the result, but I haven’t yet worn it out to an event. Nothing seems festive enough while allowing western wear, but we shall see.

#2 I loved the chance to work with a versatile designer (Julia designs both knit and crochet items and speaks at least 3 different languages). It gives me the shivers 🙂