Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Summer Knitting. . .

I haven't blogged about my knitting in weeks but I have been busy this summer.  Not that I have that much to show for it - just more projects that are partly done and a list of others that I'm itching to cast on.  However, to my complete delight and astonishment really, I did start and complete one entire project and it may be my favourite knit ever.  Here it is:

The pattern is Bonny and it's from this terrific book - Handmade in the UK by Emily Wessel.  She's part of the dynamic duo that is Tin Can Knits - two Canadian women who have formed their own design company even though Emily has recently moved to Scotland.  They have a wonderful blog  and what I like about them is not only their talent and Canadian sensibility (I really want to knit their Antler Sweater), but their generosity to knitters and their eagerness to entice newcomers to the craft. Along with clear and helpful tutorials on their website, they are gradually releasing The Simple Collection - a series of easy patterns that will help knitters learn new skills while creating some very lovely garments. And the patterns are all free!  You can't help but root for them and want to support them.

Handmade in the UK is a collection of lace patterns inspired by the Scottish landscape. The patterns are clear and easy to follow and the book is peppered with personal ink drawings throughout. It's truly a lovely book to add to my collection and I'll certainly be knitting other designs in it. I also like how Emily has used UK indie dyers and yarn producers for each of her patterns and profiled them both in the book and on the blog.

Since Bonny is a sleeveless summer top, I decided to use some Canadian hemp that was in my stash.  It's allhemp3 from Lana Knits and at the beginning it did seem a bit risky.  I did three swatches and couldn't really get gauge and so since hemp, like linen, doesn't really block out, I decided to knit the top two sizes bigger than I normally would.  It was the perfect project to start on the train to the Isle of Wight - 60% of it was just knitting in the round and when you finally get tired of that (it's many, many rounds in fingering weight), there's the fun lace cowl to tackle.  And lo and behold, it fit perfectly! I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  The only mistake I made was not checking the dye lots (I just grabbed a few skeins quickly before leaving) and you can probably see the results on the bottom of the garment.  Thank god ombre is all the rage this season; I can live with it.

Other projects are still on the go.  I made a sea-foam stitch summer scarf out of some cotton in my stash but it's a wee bit short for my liking and I ran out of yarn.  I'm thinking of adding some fringe in a contrasting colour to give it length but I've already spent several weeks procrastinating on the colour.  My go-to grey? Maybe turquoise?  Black and white?  I just can't decide.

Earlier this year, I went to Woolfest up in Cumbria and got several skeins of undyed alpaca which was sold by weight and quite reasonably priced.  I really want to knit some chunky cushions but don't have enough chunky wool.  So I'm making some with this alpaca, knitting a very, very long i-cord which I will knit with large needles.  This is my mindless TV knitting - who knows what will become of it?

But I also have plans for the rest of the alpaca. I've had these three enticing balls of Noro Silk Garden in my stash for a long time.  Again, I'm envisioning cushions - three of them -  with the white as accent colour. Not sure yet about the pattern (fair isle?  intarsia? slipstiching?) but I'm determined to have fun with them.

And with winter approaching, I've realized that I use almost every shawl I've ever knitted as a scarf.  I want some really, really big shawls - the kind I can completely wrap around my whole upper body.  Have I mentioned how cold English houses can get and how long it takes for the heating to kick in? I have two large shawls on the go at the moment.  The first is just a huge square using self-striping Crazy Zauberball yarn.  I have some contrasting burgundy that will become the border but I'm still trying to decide what pattern to do around the edge. I'd like some lace or maybe something triangular.  Need to think about the maths on this one but I think it'll be cozy when it's done. I really do like the colours.

And finally, I'm plugging away at the Eyre Shawl, designed by Karina Westermann.  I'm using Rowan's new Fine Art hand painted sock yarn in the colourway Pheasant.  It is a delicious blend of earthy fall colours - plum, burgundy, brown - that suggest the richness of the Yorkshire moors.  I like this pattern because you can make it as big as you like.  I have two skeins of this yarn and intend to use them up fully.

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