Tuesday, 25 September 2012

1950s Petal Yoke: From Cardi to Jumper

I was going to write 'I recently'... but that isn't really true, this is a project that I have picked up and put down again over several months!  I decided to re-work a 1950s cardigan, 'Petal Yoke', into a jumper, mainly because I felt that the cardigan style was more difficult to wear without becoming 'gap-y' when it was pulled across the bust, or stomach.  I still wanted to keep the silhouette of the 1950s curve, and the very pretty petal yoke, but create a smoother finish.

I also changed it slightly to give a more polished finish, with the button band becoming part of the neckline.  I also removed much of the waist decreases - replacing with a deep rib (more forgiving for the modern figure!).

Details of the amendments to the pattern follow:

1. Begin the pattern as per instructions, knitting from the neck top-down, until you reach the last row of the yoke design, just before you place stitch markers to divide for sleeves (and front, and back).  At this point switch to circular needles.  I thought it looks neater to bring the button-band to a smarter end, by knitting the front to the back of the band.  To do this, I slipped the last eight stitches back onto a spare needle, and placed behind  the front eight stitches of the button-band (the other end of the circular needles).  Then I worked these eight stitches as if it is a 3-needle bind-off, without actually binding off, i.e. knitting a front stitch and a back stitch together.  Here is a picture to try and better explain what I mean:

2. The next difference will be that instead of having a left and right front side, you will have a front section that is 8 sts less than the number of stitches for the left and right front side added together.

3. After working the pattern to the armhole join, I made a further alteration to reduce the number of decreases for the waist, and to use a K1,P1 rib instead.  To do this I rejoined in the round, casting on four stitches under each armhole. I placed a stitch marker at the mid-way point under the armhole to work decreases.  Worked as per pattern until it measure five inches from the armhole cast-on, i.e. five decrease rows worked.  I then changed to K1, P1 and continued.

4.  I made one further slight alteration by adding another 1/2 inch to the overall length.

Done - hope that is clear as dishwater ;)

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

A Knitter's Guide to Hamburg (Part 2)

Following my trip to Hamburg, this is a post giving a few details about my adventures finding and shopping in 'Hamburger Wollfabrik' - a yarn warehouse, full of cones of yarn in about every shade imaginable! 

Wollfabrik is a fairly large warehouse that stocks yarn in a relatively wide range of yarn types, particularly noted; cotton, acylic mixes, merino blends, cashmere and silk combinations with wool. The selection available is really quite inspiring, and for a budding designer it's just perfect to be able to find this kind of diversity of choice (and the prices are very good too).  The yarn is stocked as single-ply and then you have the option to choose what thickness and weight you would like to purchase it in.  On the shelves there are little cards giving you an approximation of what ply you will need to needle size, which works as a rough guide: 

My german is not great, but I think we can assume f├Ądig means ply - as you can see here the german words are not that dissimilar to the english for yarn types, so you can have a pretty good guess.  There were also two Sales Assistants available at the time that I went in that spoke good english, which inevitably helps!  When you have chosen your yarn, weight, and number of plys, they will take the order and go round with a shopping trolley (surely the only way to buy yarn), and load it up onto their machinery to wind it onto cones for you.

The yarn that you end up with is not twisted together in the same way it would normally be when you purchase it in balls, but rather you hold the plys together as you knit.  I haven't experimented with that before, so I'll have to update when I see how it goes...

Whilst you wait for your yarn to be processed, you can help yourself to free coffee, there is a customer toilet, and you can continue to wander around looking and touching yarn ;)

I think it is definitely worth a visit, and would recommend it to anyone going to Hamburg.  The only thing is that it is a little out of the way, although very possible on the bus, it is a little disorientating as it is off a major road in a fairly industrial area.  So, what follows is a detailed picture map of my pedestrian route after I got off the bus, to act as a guide for anyone who finds themselves in a similar position!  

I took the 120 Bus from outside the Hauptbahnhof.  To find the bus depot you need to come out of the main exit for the Hauptbahnhof and turn right, walking to the furthest edge of the Hauptbahnhof.  Then, still facing away from the station, cross the road and, you will see, slightly bearing to the right, the buses pulling in.

Get off the bus at Billhorner Rohrendamm (there is an electronic monitor announcing the stops on the bus).  When you get off the bus you will see a pedestrial subway, which you need to go down to.

Turn left and walk to the second steps on the left-hand side, and use these to exit the subway.  


 Then you walk straight ahead going over two zebra crossings.  

Keep going straight until you find a little pedestrian path on the right-hand side.

Take this to get onto Brandshofer Deich (road).

Walk a bit further down this street and if you look up and to the left you will see a metal sign saying 'Hamburger Wollfabrik' above the building.  In this photo, it is the building you can see it at the top of the tree (the terracotta coloured building)... you are almost there...

Just a little bit further now and you will see the shop sign on the left-hand side for Hamburger Wollfabrik - you have arrived :)


And just for fun, here is a picture of me looking rather smug with my shopping bag at the bus stop!!

Monday, 6 August 2012

A Knitter's Guide to Hamburg (Part 1)

I recently went on a five-day trip to Hamburg, and spent the time in an entirely self-indulgent intinary based on my hobbies!!  These are a few notes about my time seeking out knitters, yarn, tea and cake! 

I was very lucky to get a very helpful response on ravelry from the knitting circle of Hamburg, Hanseatic Knitters, and their first recommendation was the knitting shop and cafe, Mylys.  Mylys is easy to get to - I was staying close to the Hauptbahnhof and took the U-Bahn (U2) to 'Christuskirche' - Mylys is just a few minutes walk from there on Wiedenallee.  This is what it looks like from outside:

Mylys has a very nice yarn shop (on the right in the picture above), and a great little cafe too (on the left).  When I went in the person I spoke to was happy to chat to me in english and had previously worked in loopknitting in London too - with this and the international discussions spinning out from ravelry, it was very easy to spend some time in here - barely knew I was in another country!  The yarn is a nice up-market collection (check out the website) with the requisite white Ikea shelving to show it off ;)

The woman who was serving (I never asked her name/ not sure if she is the owner?!) was really helpful and offered to let me use the shop's computer to look at my queue on ravelry to see what projects their yarn would match to.  Unpressured, friendly approach.  I chose Louet Gems (Steel Grey) 4-ply and BC Garn Semilla (Deep pink, 109) as my purchases :)

I then spent several hours in the cafe!!  I'm sure that would be possible anyway given the choice of lunches, cakes, teas etc but I also had the opportunity to spend it with the Hanseatic Knitters!  Such a great bunch, had a really nice afternoon with these guys.  They were also very kind and spoke a lot of English with me.  I really felt welcomed by this shop and these lovely knitters - so great to tap into the community when travelling - totally peaceful and inspiring :)  Vielen Dank!!

Friday, 29 June 2012

'Korrigan' in Stylecraft Special 4-ply

For a while now I have been amassing a small collection of yarn which might possibly-one-day-be-useful-for-something-but-unsure-what... it has amassed quite well.

I had a big sort out last week and decided that of the potential options in front of me I would match up one ball of Stylecraft Special 4-ply (100g) to knit up 'Korrigan' by Solenn Couix-Loarer.  The pattern is really great!  The cardigan feature a yoke-neck with disappearing cables, three buttons to close at the top, giving a slight flare (over nappy-bums) to an otherwise simple stocking stitch body.  Big thumbs up for yoke-neck and top-down design.  Korrigan may be tricky for new knitters as the instructions assume a certain level of understanding, as well as ability to work cables etc. 

I knitted this with the instructions for size 6mths and it used about 70g of yarn.  As this is a cheap acrylic yarn, it is a very economical, but pretty, option.  The yarn is one of the better acrylic options that I have come across, with a very soft, malleable texture.  Nice to knit a baby item in something that is so definitely machine-washable too.  The main limitation of this yarn are the colours (in my view); despite a range of 16 shades, I would probably only use 'Lipstick'.  The tension more-or-less works to 28 stitches and 36 rows (= 4inches) when worked on 3.25mm needles.  However, I think my final cardigan is still a little small for a 6 month old.  Without doubt it would be a pleasure to knit the same pattern in something more luxurious, like the recommended Rowan pure wool 4-ply, but using stylecraft special 4-ply has still produced an adorable, utilisable cardigan in a very nice modern shade! 

Good stuff!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Yarn Review: Rowan Cotton Glace

I am not the greatest fan of knitting with cotton, but as I planned to knit L'illo, a baby cardigan to be worn in the summer I decided that it would be a good idea. I knew that I needed a cotton that could be machine-washed - a 13 mth-old baby rather dictates this. In the end, I decided to try out the recommended yarn for this pattern, an unusual move for me, largely based on the nicer looking pictures in ravelry...

To no disappointment! Yeah!  Rowan cotton glace is a smooth, soft cotton yarn; a softness that mitigates it from my most disliked aspect of cotton, a kind of graceless inflexibility.  The yarn has some sheen to it but not to the extent of a cotton like Patons 100% cotton, making it great for showing up the detail of a textured pattern without an abrasive brightness. 

Rowan cotton glace worked well in this pattern, where sport weight yarns might also have been substituted.  The yardage seems quite good to - it took less than four skeins to complete a cardigan in the 18-mth size.  That said, this is priced at typical Rowan prices - I bought mine from Laughing Hens for £4.95 - but it is a nicer, softer, more flexible yarn than cheaper cottons around.  I would use it again in a knitting project that required cotton, although a friend of mine, in my knitting circle, has been working with Rowan pima cotton and that feels even softer...

Here is the finished L'illo :)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Yarn Review "Cornish Organic Wool" DK

Well, before I wax lyrical about how lovely this yarn is, first a warning and a frustration that the tension described on the ball band is entirely out. It should be a DK of 22sts by 30 rows on 4mm, but by my tension (which is usually quite standard) it's more like 19sts to 29 rows. To my mind it is effectively an aran-weight, or at least worsted. The unfortunate consequence of which is that I cannot use it to knit up a boyfriend beanie as intended; it doesn't seem to help to go onto smaller needle either given the coarseness of the yarn... Oh well, plan B... I think instead I will try to knit this pattern 'Lorna Suzanne', which requires a tension of 19sts/25 rows on 5mm needles. The tension for Cornish Organic wool on 5mm might better be described as 18st/25 rows - but I think it is close enough. Only thing is now I need to order more yarn!

Otherwise, I think that this yarn is really great for all these fabulous, rustic farm-type projects that are around at the moment. The shades in which it is dyed are really great, subtle, good choices, with the nice touch of being named after Cornish towns. When I say rustic knit, I mean that the yarn is a little coarse, nothing too alarming, but not one for a baby's skin. Actually it is very refreshing to knit with something that is not overly processed, it produces a fabric which has some structure to it, and should be a fairly warm knit too. It is nice to have a slightly uneven stitch, although it will probably look best in textures that are not overly reliant on stitch definition. I really like this yarn, I just think that it will be prudent for customers of this yarn to think carefully about which project it is suited to :)

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Yarn Review: "Baby Camel", Makalu Yarns

This is the first time that I have knitted with camel yarn, and I ordered it for the novelty as much as anything else. I remember when I first started knitting and I went to the Harrogate 'Knitting and Stitching Show', and someone patiently explained to me that their yarn was from a farm of rabbits in Africa... I just didn't really believe them... yarn comes from sheep right?! Ha ha, young fool that I was! Now, I find myself enjoying an increasingly geekish interest in where the yarn comes from and the very different product that is available as a result.

I ordered the yarn from an online store based in Canada, I refer you to their website for a short piece of research about camel yarn in general, here. I had no problems with delivery to the UK although probably not the cheapest way to buy an already fairly costly yarn. However, I have not come across a UK stockist thus far.

The yarn is soft but with a density that creates a textile that still looks quite structured. The yarn is made up of short hairs which create a light fuzz - not to the extent of mohair - but it produces a nice 'fill' between the stitches. I had no issues with splitting. There is enough drape there to produce a garment but I think the sellers, Irene and Mr Sheep, are right in showing this with a poncho, I think it is better suited to a slightly more structured outer garment, then a cardigan or similar.

This yarn is best described as sport weight, or a light DK. The band states that it has a gauge of 22st/30 rows = 4". Additionally, I experimented with different needle sizes and found that:
  • Knitted on 2.25mm: gauge of 32st/48rows = 4"
  • Knitted on 3.25mm: gauge of 26st/36rows = 4"

In my opinion it looked at it's best when knitted on 3.25mm.

The yarn only comes in the one colour - the natural brown of the camel! However, it makes a great backdrop to a variety of colours, it would be nice to play on the camel theme and use reds, turquoises, metallics in the design - it also looked very good with the orange beads on my stitch markers!

I used my single ball to produce a pair of baby 'Moc-A-Soc', a pattern by Bekah Knits. I am very happy with the result. The white 'soc' is King Cole Merino Blend 4-ply. :)