Of WIPs, FOs and Birthdays

Since I last wrote an entry on here (like a month ago, erm), I cast on for loads of different things, finished others and turned 22! *sobs quietly*

I’m currently working on three different projects — two tops and a pair of socks (because sock knitting, as we have established, is life.)

I started knitting Waterlily from the 2014 Spring Issue of Pom Pom Quarterly. I’m knitting it in DROPS Baby Alpaca Silk, in a lilac-blueish colour. It’s a 70% alpaca and 30% mulberry silk blend, and it’s so soft! I got this while DROPS where having their Wool Supersale, so it was quite affordable! I started knitting this in early May when it was still possible for me to wear it, but since then we have entered full-blown, 30ºC summer weather in Portugal. I also got sidetracked with other projects, so this one taking a backseat for now. I’m up to the lace section, which I’ve already had to rip out twice because I got cocky and thought “Why, yes, I can knit a complicated lace section while watching TV! I’m such a knitting pro!”. Ah well.

Back in March I subscribed to Pom Pom Quarterly, and this year’s summer issue also arrived in early May. I love, love the cover pattern, Greco. I’m also considering knitting Michelada and learning to crochet just so I can do Azulejo! I kind of was unable to resist and like a week later I stopped by my LYS on my birthday, and kind of bought the yarn I needed — birthday impulse purchases are the best/worse. The day after that I immediately cast on, and this is where I’m up to. I’m knitting it in Fonty Bohème, a 65% cotton / 35% linen blend in a grey and denim blue,. I have a couple of issues with this pattern, the biggest one being the fact that it is knit according to rows. The pattern will say, knit for x number of rows, and if your gauge is off my one row, it won’t fit. It’s also a bit short for me, so what I’m doing is repeating the 3 and a half rows twice before separating the back and the front. The original design also features an open back, which looks amazing but I wouldn’t feel very comfortable wearing it, so I’m going to knit the front and back panels the same way.

Lastly, I’m working on some background socks which I take with me to knit at the café, or when I’m watching a movie or something. The yarn is Das Paar, which I mentioned in my last post. The skein is split into two skeins, which allows you to knit an identical pair of socks!

These super cute DPN holders were a gift from my boyfriend — after I pestered him for about 3 months to get them for my birthday. They came, as did the yarn, from Retrosaria. I love them! They’re made my Clover, and there’s also a bigger size for larger DPNs — these ones run from 2,0mm to 3,75mm, I believe.

Speaking of birthday gifts, my mom got me this little basket from IKEA for me to store all my yarn scraps in! I basically stuff all my WIPs and yarn in there, and then carry it around the house — the main reason I wanted this was so that when I’m knitting I can place the ball of yarn somewhere instead of having it catch all the dust on the floor.

As for FOs, I finished these cute socks — they’re Opal, from their Hundertwasser collection (the colourway is Der Weg von dir zu mir züruck, I believe.) The heel is DROPS Fabel. I haven’t worn them yet, it’s too warm for wool (and for shoes, I’m sporting my flip flops everywhere already), but they’re going to be very welcome come winter.

DSCN0157I knit another Moss & Deer Horns hat, this time for my mom and in DROPS Alpaca Lima. This one turned out much smaller, but it looks great on my mom so yay! DSCN0129

Remember my Hat for Belgium? I also knit a pair of mittens to go alongside it, and gave both of them to my friend for her birthday. She really liked them! They’re also knit in DROPS Fabel, and I followed Hannah Fettig’s 70-yard mitts — they’re amazing for using up leftovers! Everyone I know will start to get one of these on their birthdays. I don’t even care they that don’t use mittens.

And, finally, I finished the Gryffindor socks for my boyfriend — I wasn’t super happy with these, though. I need a lot more practice in knitting fair isle before I actually get good at it. But, he likes them, so that’s good.

As always, you can check my Ravelry projects page for more info on all these projects, the yarn I used, etc.

Advertisements

An update on sock knitting + life (which are pretty much the same thing)

For the past month or so I’d been eyeing some sock yarn over at Retrosaria and I finally picked it up this week.

DSCN0057

DSCN0065

The white is Schoppel-Wolle’s Admiral Cat Print (undyed) and the other is Schoppel-Wolle’s Das Paar, which supposedly knits up into a pair of socks that are exactly alike. The white yarn is going to be knit up into this Rachel Coopey pattern, and the other will become plain vanilla socks. I am very excited about both.

As for what I’m working on, R. asked for a pair of socks with a little fair isle dragon at the cuff a while back. He picked out the colours, and is almost the proud owner of what we have dubbed Gryffindor socks.  The mustard yarn is DROPS Fabel and the burgundy bits are leftovers from my Cranberry socks (which I’ve finished and am sad to say that they fuzz and pill like crazy).

DSCN0073

A few notes on being a fair-isle newbie: I suck at this so bad. My first experience with fair isle was doing the Willard Pullover. I purposefully kept the floats super long and since it’s not a very intricate pattern, it’s not really a big deal if the tension is a bit uneven. But here? I knit the dragon chart twice, and am still not happy with it, but I couldn’t rip it out again. Gather round to hear my tales of woe:

— Being very afraid of not enough stretchiness in the area with the stranded yarn, I knit it up with 3mm needles and the rest with 2.5mm.

— I began my adventure by doing this Portuguese-style = the wrong side of the work is facing me, and I purl every row. This made for a very neat, good-looking dragon, but I completely forgot that if I purl every row in the round I get HUGE ladders. I usually fix this my purling the first two stitches in the next needle I’m working with the needle I’ve just worked with (ignoring my empty needle).

— This meant everything was super baggy and awful. I ripped it out.

— Then, I decided to work it with the right side facing me. No ladders, but such tight floats that it would be impossible for even me to put the socks on.

— Have I mentioned I’d knit the chart twice by then?

— Going back to knitting with the wrong side facing out, I finally got the hang of it — a much nicer result, minimal ladders and even tension. It’s not perfect, really. It’s far from it. But this is my preferred method of doing fair-isle.

— I didn’t know the first thing about colour dominance. After reading about it a bit, I am now chalking up all the weird-looking stitches to that.

All in all, I’m moderately pleased with these socks. R. is always the guinea pig for new techniques/projects so he’s used to less-than-stellar garments. If I were to do this again, I’d keep the 2.5mm needles for the fair isle, though. I did learn that Portuguese-style fair isle is the best method for stranded colourwork — I had fun doing it, and would have had more fun if I hadn’t had to knit the same chart three times. I don’t want to think about the fourth one for the second sock.

As for other life things: I’m reading Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies and it’s so great. Have you read it? It’s set in India just before the beginning of the Opium Wars and has a big cast of characters that all end up meeting somehow — it reminds me of David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Both are set in very rich, detailed worlds with fleshed-out characters. And heavily feature boats and Imperialism — such fun!

I’m also listening to Jeff Vandermeer’s first volume in the Southern Reach trilogy — Annihilation — on audiobook during my runs, and it’s weird, creepy and intriguing. I’m a big fan of the New Weird movement, Miéville being one of my favourite authors in general, so I was pretty sure I’d enjoy this one. While Miéville veers towards the sci-fi/fantasy/political/economical side of things, Annihilation seems to be a bit more post-apocalyptic. Like Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, only infinitely creepier. It does make for very engaging listening material, especially when running in a deserted park in the morning.

What are you working on/reading? What are your thoughts on fair-isle? Do you have any favourite tips?

A few WIPs

Quick update to let you know what I’m working on at the moment — I’m finished with the body on the Willard Pullover and have knit the first sleeve. Hurray! I ended up redoing the hemline since I used a regular bind-off and hated how tight it was.

Ravelry project page.
Ravelry project page.
Ravelry project page.
Ravelry project page.

I actually knit the sleeve 1.5 times. I was working a 72-stitch sleeve, as my size required, but when I tried it on, it was way too big. So I decreased it to 62 stitches, and it fits much more nicely now.

Ravelry project page.
Ravelry project page.

There are a couple of structural problems with this sweater, though: the decreases on the sleeve are very noticeable, as are the places where I did increases in the yoke. And, as I’ve mentioned previously, the floats on the fair-isle bit are a bit too loose. However, I am chalking all this up to experience and this being my first sweater. It’s still very warm and soft, which is I what I wanted, and it will provide a welcome burst of colour in my other black-brown-burgundy Winter wardrobe. Perfect timing now that Spring has officially arrived.

I finished the first sleeve yesterday, groaned at the thought of having to knit the second one, and picked up my Cranberry socks to work on for a bit.

Ravelry project page.

I’m about halfway through the heel flap, and they’re looking super cozy. This is the second pair I’ve knit using Schoppel-Wolle’s Admiral 4-ply, so I know they’ll become very fuzzy and pill a bit after a day on your feet — it is very thick and warm, but I just wouldn’t recommend this yarn for cables or intricate patterns, as I think they would end up engulfed in fuzz.

Ravelry project page.
Ravelry project page.

On the reading front, I’ve put down Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Country for a while. I’m reading this one in Portuguese, so I don’t know if it’s a translation issue or what, but I’m not feeling very gripped by the story. Or the characters. Or anything, really. So, I picked up Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, by Amanda Foreman. I watched the movie adaptation of this biography a long, long time ago, but I was recently re-watching Marie Antoinette and was suddenly very curious about the friendship between these two women.

IMGP0038

This book marks a momentous occasion for me, because I’ve discovered that I can knit and read at the same time if I’m reading on my e-reader.

!!!!!!!!!!!

My reading really has taken a toll ever since I took up knitting more seriously — which isn’t a bad thing, because that means I spend more time creating than consuming, but I have so many books I want to get to, and audiobooks sometimes just don’t work for every book I’m interested in. I’m already 50 pages into it and so far, it’s being very good. I’m very fickle about biographies — sometimes they’re great, narrative and interesting, and sometimes they’re like eating dry flour.

What about you? What are you working on? Have you read this book, or any other cool ones recently? Let me know in the comments below!

An Introduction?

Since this is my first post, I feel like I should write up a small introduction of who I am. But then again, eh. The tl;dr version — I’m 21, live in Portugal, love to knit, read and want to brag about the things I do on the Internet. For the last year I’ve been trying to lead a more sustainable and minimalist way of life.

That being being said, I’ve begun building my own wardrobe — no more acrylic sweaters from H&M that are super cold but still cost 40€, no sir! Up until this point in my life, I’ve mostly knit a bunch of socks, a lace cowl for my mom, a scarf for my boyfriend and a couple of hats for me. But I’ve been so scared of knitting sweaters. A month or two ago I was listening to the knit.fm podcast, and they mentioned that knitting top-down sweaters was the gateway to sweater knitting. And so it is! I cast on the Willard Pullover by Hannah Fettig about a week ago, and I am about halfway through knitting the body. This is my first sweater, as I’ve mentioned, but it was also the first time doing stranded colourwork, and also my first attempt at magic-looping something. After reading some comments on Ravelry that recommended keeping the floats super-duper-loose, I did so. They ended up a bit too loose, but I’m being very forgiving of myself, it being my first try at it and all.

So snuggly.
So snuggly. Ravelry project page.

I’m using DROPS Lima in the Off White colourway for the main colour and Rost for the contrast one. The yarn is very good, 65% wool and 35%. It’s very warm, has a bit of a halo, but isn’t super itchy. I’ve found that DROPS yarns are either great or horrible, so I’m happy with this one. It does, however, come all the way from Peru, and the very, very low price tag makes me squirm a bit — but it was the only one which ticked all the boxes (wool and alpaca blend, dk weight, being pretty).

DROPS Lima.
DROPS Lima.

I’m also working on a pair of simple socks for me. I’m using Schoppel-Wolle’s Admiral 4-ply in the burgundy colourway, bought at the lovely Retrosaria. These are simple socks with a *k3,p1* ribbing all along the leg and instep. I finished a pair a couple of weeks ago using the same pattern (but in dark green) and yarn for my boyfriend, and they were so warm I immediately cast-on a pair for myself. And then I abandoned them completely for the pullover. Socks are by far my favourite thing to knit — useful, gorgeous yarns and patterns, and quick! But I knit about 5 pairs in a row and then suffered a huge burn-out.

That little white thing in the cuff is an elastic thread I always knit together with the yarn (just so the socks stay up and don’t slip down to your ankles).