Knit-Read-Blog

24-04-19 Gaudi pieces
When a plan starts to come together

This morning I have completed all the knitting on Gaudi. Hurrah! I must say, laying all the pieces out on my bed to photograph makes me feel more confident about the finished object than I have been in a fair while. I want to have this finished and wearable by the end of the month, so the next week will see me joining the pieces, putting on the crochet front bands and neckband, sewing on buttons, trying it on, then washing it (I always wash my completed projects before I wear them, rather than just pinning them out and dampening them to block). That still seems like an awful lot of work to achieve and I won’t be surprised if I over-run my self-imposed deadline.

One reason I’ve been working hard at this project for the past couple of weeks is a desire to dispose of the needles I chose to knit it. These are the 30cm length 4mm KnitPro Zing metal needles. I started on these because I mistakenly thought I didn’t have any of my preferred KnitPro Symfonie wooden needles in the 4mm size. I don’t swap needle types once I have started a project because I think I get a different gauge using metal needles compared to wooden needles. However, although metal needles are very good in thin gauges, by the time you get to 4mm, the design of the KnitPro Zing is not so good to my way of thinking. They are incredibly pretty, but I ‘throw’ my yarn which means the needle in my right hand moves about a fair bit and that heavy finial on the end gets very tiring. Funnily enough, the thing I hate about circular needles is that they don’t have an end to provide stability as I am throwing the yarn! Clearly I am very much the Goldilocks of the knitting community!

I think this pair is destined for the charity shop where I am sure they will find a home with someone who will love them. I might bundle them up with some wool to make a gift pack. I am going to have quite decent remnants of wool from this project but I’ll keep them to make a co-ordinating neck-warmer.

That’s all I have been doing on the knitting front.

24-04-19 Inside Vogue
Book co-ordinates with my knitting!

I have been in a bit of a reading lull recently, but have just started Alexandra Shulman’s account of Vogue’s 100th year and I am finding it very enjoyable. I have always been interested in clothes and fashion magazines; I love the film of The Devil Wears Prada and the documentary The September Issue which follows the making of the bumper fashion edition of American Vogue.

I also read Harpers Bazaar when I can afford it; that means not at present, although I do read their website to keep abreast of things. This morning I read a very interesting article on there Introducing Circular Fashion and it gave me much food for thought about making fashion more sustainable. As someone who is (forgive me if I am being too modest) making a brilliantly unsuccessful attempt to sell hand-knitted accessories, I am familiar with the dichotomy of encouraging people to buy less and encouraging them to buy what I want to sell them. On the face of it, paying a more realistic price for work that is going to last for years makes perfect sense. However, when faced with a pair of knitted fingerless mitts on Amazon for less than a pound compared to a hand-knitted pair on my Etsy shop for around £20 it’s hard to think about relative value. I know that I currently have less disposable income than at any time in my life and I am falling into a mindset of buying cheap rather than buying quality. I hardly think I am the only person in this position.

In her book, Alexandra Shulman talks about how sensible it would be to amass a collection of pieces that could be slotted into any issue of the magazine if needed, but how she finds that if she has such pieces she becomes unenthusiastic about them. This resonates with me because it is precisely what I find for my blog. After I publish a post I will, occasionally, be in a mood to continue writing and get part of the way through a couple of blog posts on what seem to be excellent ideas. Sometimes I even know the precise day I could publish them, yet I rarely do. It seems to me that they are not indicative of what is on my mind on that day, they do not appeal to me at that moment, and so they sit in my Drafts folder until I delete them. I applaud the people who can write and schedule their blogs in advance, but it has never been my way of writing and I don’t think it’s a way which enables me to produce my best work. I am thinking back to school when I was unable to write the outline of an essay and then write the essay, so used to write the essay then go back and write a synopsis/outline at the end (but don’t tell my teachers I did that!). Is it that I become too easily bored and once I’ve written the outline I’ve basically said what I want to say and am ready to move on to something completely different? Perhaps it is more that my creativity is greatest when I give it a free rein and an outline to me feels like a fence. And now I am thinking about horses show-jumping – whoa there, mind; get yourself back on track!

I hope the mid-week finds you in good spirits and making progress with your own projects.


 

How is the knitting going?

10-04-19 Mitts try 1

In an effort to straighten up my thoughts and plans a bit, here’s an update on how the knitting is going in this neck of the woods.

First up, fingerless mitts for my Etsy shop. The above are my first pair trying out a lacy pattern and they are as finished as they are going to get. I have to say, they look a lot better in the photo than in real life. To my eye, the busy dye pattern on the yarn, which I think is gorgeous, doesn’t work well with the lace motif. The glove doesn’t seem to sit too well on the hand, with the lace motif looking a little off-centre. Not to mention that I hurried the first mitt and am not happy with the quality of it. I think these are destined to go to charity. I have cast on for a second pair, but I haven’t got far:

10-04-19 Mitts try 2

For these I am using John Arbon Knit by Numbers 4-ply and everything about it is making me very happy. I am experimenting with positioning the lace panel at the side of the back of the hand to see if I like it.

My golden/mustard/yellow sweater is still patiently awaiting its turn in my affections. I fear that might not happen until the autumn, but we will see.

Over the past week I have been mainly working on the Gaudi cardigan and I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made. As of today, I have the back and both sleeves completed, and am just about to embark on the armhole shaping/colourwork section of the first front.

10-04-19 Gaudi

I am still keen to get this cardigan completed so I can be wearing it. I think I may crochet the button band as I did this with one of my all-time favourite cardigans and it has stood the test of time extremely well. The additional sturdiness of the crochet really helps on button bands, and also the button-holes are so much neater than on knitted bands.

I have been looking at a few of the patterns in the Rowan New Vintage DK pattern book and thinking how splendid they would look in a gradient of one colourway. That could be achieved using John Arbon Knit by Numbers yarns, or wools from the Shetland suppliers. I might do one myself.

Other than these, I have no real plans or thoughts or dreams on the knitting front other than to reach the finish-line on the cardigan and mitts.


How is your knitting shaping up? Have you taken an inventory recently and come to any conclusions about the projects you are working on?


 

Finished object – Wheatfields Pullover

20-03-19 Wheatfield full

Well, here it is in its finished glory – the Wheatfields Sleeveless Pullover. I am really pleased with how it turned out and I think it’s a great layering piece for this time of year. I would wear this as I’ve photographed it over long-sleeved dresses or shirts when you don’t need a full-on cardigan or jumper but need a little bit of extra warmth. I really love the cream wool and I definitely need to knit something in this shade for myself – in fact, I’m pretty sure when I splurge on a kit from Virtual Yarns to knit Scapa, it’s going to be the cream version.

20-03-19 Wheatfield neck

Here’s some detail of the lace stitch and the crocheted border round the neck and armhole. I did two rows of double crochet (UK terminology) for the neckband and just a single row round the armholes. These have provided the perfect minimal edging. As to the lace pattern, it was a joy to work and I almost had it memorised after the first two or three repeats. The only rows that I had to keep consulting the pattern on were the two where you worked the top of the right-hand ear as well as the bottom of the left-hand ear and vice versa – I just couldn’t remember which way you had to work three knit stitches then four knit stitches and which was four knit stitches then three knit stitches.

I knitted this in a fairly small size and it ended up measuring 34″ round the chest. It’s just a bit tight for me which is lucky since it was knitted for sale in my Etsy shop. I used a 3.75mm needle for the main body with two strands of J C Rennie Supersoft Shetland wool held together. I think if I used 4mm needles it would be my size, but then I like the sturdiness of the wool knit at this gauge so I’m happy.

This was knitted bottom-up, in two separate pieces and seamed together as I always do, with a crochet chain. I know that I would get a better finish sewing the seams, but I would rather have a supportive visible seam than go for complete invisibility and lose some of the durability.

The back of the pullover is worked in stocking stitch and I simply whizzed through it. I do enjoy working on a nice stretch of stocking stitch and I like working the purl rows every bit as much as the knit rows, which makes me very odd in the knitting community.

20-03-19 Wheatfield back

Now this is done and up for sale, I am about to return to the Gaudi cardigan which keeps on not progressing even though I still adore it. Perhaps I am not yet quite desperate enough to wear it. One thing that is bothering me is the size; my diet has gone well, but it means some of my knits now don’t fit as well as they once did. I’m going to have a quick check to see if I am still happy with the size I am knitting before I go any further because if I’m going to have to unpick it and knit it smaller, I will be much happier to do that right now.

Whilst I knit this afternoon, I am going to watch the latest video podcast by Knitting The Stash. I find Melissa a very interesting knitter, podcaster and (very recently) yarn wizard and I highly recommend her podcast which you can find on YouTube or via her blog.

So, au revoir until Friday.


Hope your Wednesday is going fantastically well.


 

In which progress is made

11-03-19 knit progress

We live in a universe in which stars are being born in clouds of gas whilst others cool and diminish; entire galaxies are spinning, colliding, grouping and re-forming. So it is with our everyday lives – there are things we have just started, others that we are making some kind of progress on or completed, and a few which we have abandoned.

I have made progress in my crafty life. The lace-pattern front of the sleeveless pullover is complete and I have made a start on the plain back. In tandem with this, in the past few days I have been playing with my French Knitting kit. I bought it years ago and I used a bit of the very basic nylon yarn included to construct a sample ‘tail’ of knitting then promptly put it in my knitting cabinet and ignored it. Now I am experimenting with a ball of Rowan SoftYak DK yarn which is 76% cotton, 15% Yak and 9% nylon. I’d love to know if anyone has used this for a garment and what they thought so I must check it out on Ravelry. My plan is to make something for myself and also as a prototype item I could put in my Etsy shop. I can’t explain what it is, because it’s not really something you can explain – you have to see it. It is inspired by a necklace I saw at the Norfolk Makers’ event cross-bred with an item that I have recently seen in pictures from a designer’s Autumn/Winter 2019 catwalk show.

I have also been working on some Mother’s Day cards to put in my Etsy shop and I’m pleased to say the two designs I’m doing this year are now for sale (clicking the picture captions will take you to my Etsy shop).

11-03-19 knit MD card
A Mother’s Joy
11-03-19 MD card 2
You’re a Gem

The cards feature simple, graphic designs infilled with images of swatches that I have knitted myself. I’m planning to expand what I offer in the way of printed knit-related products to include packs of inspiration cards on a knitting theme and I already have some birthday card designs in the pipeline. At present I’m offering two colourways, but I will increase this with more colours and some textures as time goes on. For my actual knitwear, I am looking at the relative merits of Etsy and Folksy. The latter being UK-based has appeal as I am keen to encourage more ‘local’ buying by not offering to send my hand-knits overseas. That’s not to say in any way that I want to exclude the non-UK residents, but to encourage them to support the skilled craftspeople in their own countries. This is the reason I buy yarns from indie-dyers who, like me, are based in the UK although I love to look at offerings by dyers working all over the world.

I am going great guns with my self-imposed month of creative writing challenge, although the format of the challenge has changed somewhat in the first week. I’ll do an update about this on Wednesday.

Well, that’s what I’ve been doing for the past few days. I hope the weekend has been enjoyable and productive for all of you who so kindly read my blog. Feel free to let me know in the comments what crafty (or not-so-crafty) projects you are working on.


 

Landscapes, wheatfields

03-03-19 Writer

Last Saturday was my second trip to the Castle Writers’ group at Norwich Castle Museum and this time we covered the topic of landscape and how the setting can act like another character within your writing. This is a concept that I will have to work on because logic dictates that the landscape needs people to react with or, at the very least, a character to observe it. However powerful the elements are, they are only dramatic in terms of the effect they exert on a person or an object which we care about. That’s how it seems to me, but like I say, I need to work on it.

The other thing I am working on at the moment is a sleeveless pullover, a transitional piece to extend the life of winter dresses and blouses into the spring weather. Here it is so far:-

06-03-19 WIP
Fields of Wheat

I am absolutely loving working in my favourite Shetland yarn (J C Rennie Supersoft Shetland) which I am holding as a double-strand to work at approximately DK gauge. I am also enamoured of this particular shade. It is such a good, clotted-cream colour, neutral but uplifting. The lace pattern reminds me of wheatsheaves, thus I am thinking of this garment as Fields of Wheat. It is destined to go into my Etsy shop, worst luck, as part of me wishes I was knitting this for myself. I am knitting a small size, but I intend to make it available in a medium and large as well. The design will feature a v-neck and the back will be in stocking stitch.

I really enjoy knitting a nice, simple lace pattern and this one has proven to be quite easy to get the hang of. It has a 12-row repeat which is just right to do in one sitting, meaning I get a pleasing feeling of progress each time I work on the top. Even so, I am looking forward to getting the front finished because I just love a good expanse of stocking stitch.


I hope you are enjoying your current projects, whatever field they may be in. Do you have a work in progress that is making you smile?


 

Strike up the band!

I like to think I go my own way in life; stand apart; never follow the herd; make considered choices. Every so often, though, I’m right there, leaping onto the bandwagon and waving a flag with the rest of the human race. So, deep breath, I am experimenting with turning my phone screen to monochrome – a bang-up-to-date trend.

If you want to read the full low-down on why it makes sense to do this, try reading this essay on Medium (you can read up to three essays a month on Medium free of charge so I believe you should be able to follow this link). The gist is that all the bright colours on your device act like a sugar-rush to your brain and keep you coming back for more. Putting your device on greyscale is more restful to the eyes and more boring to the brain, so you reduce your desire to keep picking up the phone.

This intrigued me so I tried it yesterday and this is what I found. First, and most importantly, it wasn’t an epiphany and, unlike the writer of the essay, I didn’t find that colours in the real world seemed brighter, although yesterday was a spectacular day of bright, warm sunshine and deep blue skies so everything looked pretty bright to begin with. I am not sure if I used my phone less than usual, but I don’t use my phone as much as some people do so clearly mileage will differ from person to person. What I particularly did like about the greyscale screens was how easy it became to differentiate between the icons for different apps and I wonder if this is where colours mess with my head. I have struggled with situations where I open completely the wrong app, not just once, but every time I want to open one I consistently open another one, as if my brain has got a particular option wired into it and won’t be told that it’s wrong. With the colours gone, the symbols stand out better and are easier for me to comprehend.

To illustrate the point, here are comparative screenshots from my own phone:-

25-02-19 Std open screen
Opening screen standard
25-02-19 Grey open screen
Opening screen greyscale
25-02-19 Std phone screen
Apps screen standard
25-02-19 Grey phone screen
Apps screen greyscale

The greyscale is quite a warm grey and very pleasing to look at. I like the way the bubbles on the opening screen wallpaper look like pearls when the opening screen is translated to greyscale. The wallpaper is an old Apple desktop background from the days when iMacs came in colours like Tangerine and the Strawberry shade shown.

One important thing to note is that this is just about turning the display from colour to monochrome. For example, if you look in your Photos app, all of the photos show in monochrome; if you take a photo, the camera shows you the image as monochrome. However, the photos are all still in colour, the camera still shoots a colour photo. As soon as you turn your display back to colour all the colours are there. Also, this is not a ‘hack’, it is simply using a setting that is built-in, certainly to Apple phones. If you are interested in trying it yourself, the essay I referred to above directs you on the steps you need to take.

Will I keep my phone on this setting? Who knows? (Anyone familiar with the Dr Who 50th Anniversary episode will recall that the answer to the question “Who knows?” is Tom Baker, tapping the side of his nose.) And does it matter? Indeed, if it does matter, how far will this go? Will I end up with a black and white TV and only write in black ink on white paper? Anything is possible.


In other news, I dipped out of circulation a bit last week, but now I’m back and raring to go. It’s good to take a few days out, even when your days ‘in’ aren’t exactly bursting at the seams. I am going great guns with the InCoWriMo challenge and should complete it so long as neither of my hands drops off. I am working on a idea for a Mother’s Day card to sell in my Etsy shop (https://www.etsy.com/shop/pamalisonknits) and the latest Avon brochure is online (https://www.avon.uk.com/store/pamalisonbeautyshop/) – there is a nice new springtime perfume which comes with a generous gift with purchase, and also the launch of a Korean Beauty line which I can see being popular with the trendy set.

I hope your week is off to a good start and I’ll see you back here midweek.