Sunday, 23 October 2016

fo: totoro brick jumper

Pattern: Brick Jumper
Yarn: Women's Institute Soft and Smooth (Aran in colours biscuit and purple)
Ravelry project page: here
A few years ago, not long after I first learnt to knit, I wanted to knit a Totoro jumper for myself; I found a free jumper pattern online, I had just enough white wool from mum's stash that I could knit it, and I even used a free online cross stitch chart to design the (what I now realise should have been an instaria) chart to knit the picture!
I knit it all up - but bear in mind, as a beginner I had no concept of tension or how to knit colourwork, nor did I try anything on, so when I finished the jumper turned out to be 3 sizes too small - doh! In the end, it wasn't wasted at least and it did become a cushion cover.

Flash forward to a couple of month's ago, and I was ready to try again! There is a lovely yoke jumper design that I'd like to knit one day wasn't up to my tension this time (see, I'm learning!) so instead I pulled one together myself. I had saved this pattern on Pinterest a long time ago, and it's a lovely regular shape that I liked.
Once I'd familiarised myself with the jumper pattern, which is knit top-down in-the-round, I worked out the length I would need to get to to start incorporating this straightforward but very clear Totoro chart. It was a simple enough repeat that I could knit it in fair isle while it being quite obvious who the character was.
I really liked the little details on the existing chart, which was originally designed for mittens and accessories, and I didn't want to lose this if I could so I included it on the sleeves, which carries the design and colour changes quite nicely throughout the jumper.It also softens the colour switches between the main jumper and the cuffs. 
I don't think it was needed on the collar however, and I really like the scoop neck - that's one of my favourite collars on jumpers and tops, soft and flattering. I just bought a plain, large jumper from H&M which I'm going to have a go at replicating with some yarn I bought last year *looks sheepish* :)

The yarn is 100% acrylic, which I know I know might not be ideal, but I do love the colours and it's incredibly soft, easy to wash, and very affordable; £10 for 500g, plus Hobbycraft always have 3 for 2 on yarn, so I bought 1500g for £20, and I have PLENTY left over for much more knitting. 

All in all I am delighted with the jumper! I haven't had a chance to wear it out yet, but it is definitely getting cold enough that I can, and I am pretty excited to crack it out for work :) When I do wear it out, I will be sure to share some more pictres, because I wasn't very happy with this 'shoot' (sorry Ben, I know you're not a professional and thank you for taking the pictures!). Also, my hair was very faded here and I have since re-dyed it in a much deeper, glossy purple yum yum. 

But I digress, I am delighted to finally have the Totoro jumper that I wanted, and I hope to be able to wear it over and over! What I really need to do now, is to get to grips with double knitting so I can make these Totoro mittens; it's only a matter of time. I am actually in full Christmas present knitting mode now though however, woohoo, but I am still going to share my project updates as I am finished, because no-one knows what they are getting :) spoiler alert - no blankets this year however.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Yarndale reflections

Last month I attended my first ever Yarndale. For those who don't know - though I'm pretty certain that a lot of you reading this, do know - Yarndale is a festival/show/exhibition/convention of all sort of yarny goodness, think knitting and crochet and spinning, as well as lacemaking and weaving and just about anything you can think of to do with yarn (I spotted one or two sewing stalls too, but these were outliers, and we don't need to talk about them). Held at Skipton Auction Mart in Yorkshire it's a show that I've heard of and read about for a few years and had always fancied going to. And now that I work on a knitting magazine (!) I was asked if I would like to go to meet some of the people I will/should be in touch with in my role as editorial assistant. YES PLEASE.

Basically, the show was the best craft show that I've ever been to yet, and I can't wait to go again next year (because, let's face it, I have to). You can read more about the show on it's website, while I'm just going to take you on a bit of a whirlwind picture tour of the day! First, let's go in ...

Well, what a welcome to a knitting show. An ice cream truck, converted to a 'finger puppet truck', completely yarnbombed, was parked just outside the entrance door, while bollards were cheerfully yarned-up with all sorts of characters. My favourites were the cute amigurumi weather characters and also the bumblebee collection. There was also a rather busty and booty-ed knitted lady in a bikini, but I didn't get a great picture of her! Shame, I know.

Mandalas were hung from the tree branches and were very pleasant to watch swaying in the wind when we later sat outside and had a picnic for lunch. I know that Lucy from Attic 24 had a hand in designing and making some, if not all, of these mandalas. I'm sorry to say that I didn't have a chance to walk along the lovely, blue knitted walkway, but rest assured this was allowed (no shoes please) and some clever clogs sat on there at lunch time as well - pre-installed blanket; love it. Well, technically it was a knitted canal, contributed by a knitting group to celebrate the 200th birthday of the Liverpool and Leeds canals; read more about that here.

You can tell that this was a show that really, truly cares and is passionate about all things yarn. There were thousands of knitted bunting, not only draped in the entry hall, but all along the walls of stalls and dotted within the main showroom (auction den!) itself. It was really a delight to see and this room was my favourite. I couldn't walk through it without a huge smile on my face and now I really must fill the ceiling of my craft room (when I have one) with similar, colourful bunting.

There was such a deluge of colour on most every stall, it was such a delight to feast my senses on! Just yarn yarn, beautiful yarn all over the show(!) - everything that was on offer was a little more expensive and luxurious that I am used to buying and using, but in a way that was one of the best bits of the show. For one thing, it meant I couldn't spend silly amounts of money because I really had to consider what I wanted, what I could afford, and how much I would need to complete a project. For another, there were yarns from independent dyers that I really would never have come across if I hadn't found them at the show. I was also introduced to these 'sushi rolls' which you can see in the picture directly above this. These are skeins of yarn that are pre-knitted, but not finished, because you can then unravel them while you knit the yarn into the project that you want to make! That is just an AMAZING concept. My mind was blown.

We stopped for a 2 hour lunch, which was a wonderful picnic sat outside, knitting, chatting and eating and just chilling out. It was a very busy show so this was a welcome break, and it also gave me time to just absorb everything that I had seen in the morning while I decided what it was that I wanted to buy - because I just couldn't leave the show empty handed ...

What I really wanted to buy was the yarn to make this large adorable toy from TOFT, featured in the latest book from Kerry Lord, Edward's Imaginarium (Christmas gift idea, anyone?). TOFT yarn is beautiful but I blanched at the cost to make this guy (£90+ EEK) so unfortunately I had to move on. I opted instead for a nice balance; I've recently taken to sock knitting, so I bought some luxurious sock yarn from CoopKnits, and also some budget DROPS sock yarn from another stall - Christmas knitting is beginning in earnest. A pair of KnitPro circulars rounded off my day very nicely, thank you very much.

There was so much more on offer at the show, including workshops and knit & knatter groups, but I didn't really partake in these, and its more of an excuse for you to visit with me next year, what do you say? I really can't say enough how much I loved Yarndale, and if you went along this year I hope you felt the same!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

fo: bobble hat

Pattern - Bobble hat, from Knitting with Giant Needles (DK)
Yarn used - Phildar Shoot (discontinued, from mum's old stash!)
Ravelry project page - here

Good Saturday morn everyone! Today I bring you a quick knit that I cast on with Katy a couple of weeks ago, and I finished in a couple of hours - always an incredibly satisfying feeling!

Using a nice, chunky wool that I've had for years ever since raiding mum's collection of wool, this hat was knit up on 7mm needles. The construction of the hat, if you can see in the picture, was worked in a different direction to the usual. It was knit horizontally rather than vertically - which I really rather enjoyed! Short rows in garter stitch was all that was needed to shape the hat and define the hat band which was pretty ingenious, and it was only repeated over 6 rows so after a few goes I didn't need to consult the pattern again. Once it was knit to the correct width, it was just a case of casting off and sewing up the seam.

Like I said, the yarn I used was pretty old and so it was a touch scratchy as a result, however the colour came out as this wonderful, deep purple as I was knitting - even though in the ball it looked closer to navy. It was quite a pleasant surprise, particularly as I've recently dyed my hair purple so it goes rather nicely! It fits nice and snugly on my head and is bound to keep my head warm, if ever this weather turns cooler.

I opted for a contrasting pom pom, using a pink from the same Phildar stash that I have. Perhaps a little more pink than I would usually wear, I think they go pretty well and I was particularly keen to keep to the same brand of yarn, which I don't usually do when knitting from my stash, always resulting in mixed up tensions across projects. I know I know, tension isn't exactly important in a pom pom, but it's the thought that counts, eh?

The book that I knit the hat from is one I got for Katy for Christmas last year (I think?) - she is a beginner knitter so Knitting with Giant Needles (DK) was a great find; fast, easy projects to get stuck into and get used to knitting. Katy also cast on the hat in a lovely turquoise, though I rather took off in my knitting speed :) anyway, I can't wait to see Katy's finished hat and then we can go out on matching hat sister dates! Hehe.

Look out for a look at Yarndale, coming soon to the blog :)