Monday, 14 December 2015

Rainbow Through the Clouds

Lately I have had a flood of requests from friends and family (not that I'm complaining - I love it! It keeps me busy), most of them being for fingerless mittens. Although I do enjoy making them, sometimes I find the simplicity of them rather mind-numbing. So, when Mum asked me to make her a pair, I decided to test myself by trying a more complicated pattern. At first I chose Gabriella by Dana Berry, but as soon as I reached the cable chart I realised I was far too tired, or stupid (probably both) to understand it, so I quickly frogged it and had another dig through Ravelry. I then discovered one of the most beautiful patterns I had ever seen on Ravelry, IX Mitts by Rebecca Blair.

Colourwork has always had a soft spot in my heart, in fact a fair isle mug hug was one of the first "proper" projects I ever made when I started knitting (unfortunately I can't find any pictures...), so this project seemed like a lot of fun! My Mum asked for a pair of fingerless mittens because she suffers from arthritis, and as she has to do an awful lot of driving, her hands hurt a lot. I decided to make her a pair of convertible mitts, as this meant she could drive in them, and stay really warm when she's wandering around Plymouth.

I casted them on Sunday, November 22nd, using Sirdar Snuggly 3ply in 303 Cream, which was a really kind gift from my Nana. And boy is it soft! It's probably one of the softest, and coziest yarns I've ever tried! For the contrast colour, I decided to use a skein of Scheepjes Invicta Colour in Cold Fire (957), which I bought from Deramores just a couple of weeks before.
After a few inches of rib, I started on the fair isle pattern. Don't let looks fool you, the actual fair isle chart is very easy to follow. After a few repeats you then begin to work a thumb gusset chart as well, slowly increasing for the thumb while you maintain that lovely pattern. Once you put the thumb onto hold, you work a few more repeats of the main chart before you grab some waste yarn and knit some fake palm stitches. These "fake" stitches will later be pulled out, and you will be left with live stitches which you can then use to create the palm flap.

Once you had knitted the fake stitches, you then continue knitting to create the mitten top. After you have casted off, you then move onto the thumb. Fortunately I had remembered to save a few yards of the colour I was using when I put the thumb stitches on hold, this meant that the thumb stayed the same colours. After that, I knitted the palm flap, before finally reaching the last part of the pattern - the fingers. If you wanted just a normal pair of mittens, you could just leave out the fingers and finish knitting the thumb and the palm flap. However, I wanted the full convertible mitten experience, so I set to work on the fiddly fingers.

Just like I did for the thumb, I saved a few yards of yarn from the colour I was using underneath the fingers, this meant that that same colour flowed from the palm, up through the fingers and then into the mitten top. When I knitted the fake stitches on the palm of the mitt, half of them were used for the palm flap, and the other half were the base for the fingers. I transferred the new live stitches onto my needles, then using the cable cast-on method, I added an extra 29sts. After a couple rounds of simple knit, I had created the foundation for the fingers, and it was time to split the stitches. After putting a bunch of stitches on hold, I slowly made my way round knitting each finger. It was very fiddly, but I managed it!

After a week long hiatus (I had to whip up a pair of mittens for my friend, and I also had a couple of no knitting days), I picked up my project again and knitted the left mitten. I have to say, I am really chuffed with how they turned out!

Would I knit them again? Probably not in a hurry... but I would definitely like to make myself a pair at some stage! I really love how the yarn pooled, it looks like they were painted (which is a happy coincidence, as my Mum is an artist)! Mum is over the moon with them - hooray!

So, that is what I've been up to since I last wrote you. I do have some more projects to show you, but they'll have to wait 'til later in the week. Until then, take care, and happy knitting!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Autumn in the Ozarks

Good hello everyone! I can't believe it has been so long since I've written to you all! It's been a crazy year, and I'm so pleased I'm back. I won't go into the details of why I was away, because I'd be here all day, but let's just say that things have been very difficult, however now they're getting easier and I finally have the mindset where I can return to the lovely world of knitting.

Talking of the wonderful world of knitting, let me tell you all about what I made this week! 

It has finally started getting colder here now, so people are wrapping up in every knitted item they can find. My lovely friend Selena is always out in the cold, and I never see her wearing hats or mittens, so I thought I'd solve that problem by making her a matching set!  

After a dig through my stash, I found two skeins of King Cole Woolmix DK in the 9 colourway (red). They were a gift from my Nana, when she was clearing out her stash. Who knows how long she has had them in her possession, as Woolmix is now discontinued! Selena looks wonderful in red, so this seemed to be the perfect choice! 

One enjoyable stroll through Ravelry later, I settled on the Foliage Hat by Irina Dmitrieva. This simple beanie has a lace leaf design through the entire piece, making it perfect for late Autumn knitting! I used my Addis Click Lace circular needles in size 3.75mm for the ribbed brim, and 4mm for the main body of the hat. I love using these needles, especially for lace projects. The stitches elegantly slip off the needles, and the project gets done in no time at all! Which is just happened with this project - within 2 days I had knitted up a lovely lace beanie! 

After I casted off Selena's Foliage Hat, I returned to Ravelry to find a matching mitten pattern. It didn't take long for me to find Autumn in the Ozarks by Amy H. Aymond, which is fingerless mitten pattern with a similar leaf design running through the mitt, while being encased in a sea of purls. 

I knitted the pair up in three days while watching Dr Who, and I have to admit, it wasn't the most enjoyable of experiences. The pattern was written very well, and is definitely worth the money... unless you're a complete plonker like myself. Instead of knitting them using magic-loop, I used DPNs. Which is fine, except instead of splitting the stitches onto three needles (using a fourth to knit with), I only used two needles (using a third to knit with), as the pattern instructed me to (but only because I was supposed to use magic-loop... I have no common sense!!). Which resulted in there being two big loose stitches running up either side of the palm of the mitt - it looked terrible. I think I also should have gone down a needle size when I got the palm, as it turned out a little baggy. 

By the time I casted them off and tried them on, I just wanted to frog them and start again. However, when Selena came to visit, my younger sister forced me to show her the set I was making. Selena loved them, and insisted that they were perfect and I should hurry up and knit the other one, rather than ripping them up. Reluctantly, I casted on the second mitt and knitted away, this time making sure I split them onto three DPNs!

Within a week I had managed to knit up both projects, which I am rather pleased about! Normally I get distracted and "treat" myself by making something I want in between projects, but I stayed focused and made sure I got these done as quickly as possible. Yay!

I have definitely learned from my mistakes, and I hope you did too! But on the whole, they didn't turn out too bad at all, and the main thing is that the recipient loves them - which she does! It's good to get back into the knitting game, and I've already finished a pair of socks which I'll show you in a couple of days time. Until then, I hope you have a lovely weekend! x

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