Swirly Whirly!

When I blogged about Swirl a few weeks ago I told you I’d made another for myself and I said this:

I enjoyed making it so much I’ve already made another to keep for myself, but more about that when I get some decent photos (I’m waiting for the weather to pick up a bit).

Well no excuses with the weather – it’s certainly been sunny, but as I keep saying too hot for me!  You’d have thought that whoever is in charge of the weather would have taken the hint by now wouldn’t you?  😉

Swirl!

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

The trouble is that when it’s too hot, by the time I get home I feel about as motivated to get changed and have my photo taken as I used to about English Literature at school.  I hated English Literature.  To me it just seemed the most pointless subject known to man.  (Can you tell I have a science brain?)  I like facts, stuff with evidence behind it that you can be pretty certain about, like physics (I can still remember the names of all six quarks – up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom – in case you’re wondering) although if someone reads that in 100 years, new physics will have been discovered at CERN and it might all be wrong.

I like arty stuff too, but English Literature just seems like speculation to me.  Read a poem/book/etc.  Try to figure out what the author really meant by all of it.  If it’s a historical text, the author isn’t around any more to check.  What if they wrote a poem about a dog and you think it might be about the futility of existence, but they really just wrote about their dog, with no hidden meaning at all.  Isn’t it arrogant to assume that we know what they meant, what they were thinking?  Sometimes I want to get a poem into a school anthology just so someone can analyse it, find the ‘hidden meaning’ and then I can prove them wrong.  Or give it a subtext on the futility of English Literature.

I’m rambling again.  I must stop doing that.  But today it has been slightly less hot and more bearable, so I have photos!

Back to the shawl!

Swirl!

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

This was originally my swatch for Swirl but it seemed a shame to waste the yarn (Easyknits Biffle-Boo which I bought at Andyfest last August) so after my submission had been accepted by Let’s Knit and I had finished the sample, I undid the cast off on my swatch and just kept knitting until I ran out of yarn (it’s the sort of shawl where you can pretty much do that).

Swirl!

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

The only difference between this and the sample in the magazine is the edging.  I nearly ran out of yarn so I had to cast off a row early – on the same row where you work the edging – which is not ideal, but I wanted to use every inch of yarn I had!

Swirl!

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

This yarn is lovely to knit with and I love the colours – which is the reason I bought it in the first place!  I was worried that I wouldn’t have anything quite the right shade of pink/red or purple to wear with it for the pictures but then I remembered this dress and luckily it was the right colour. 🙂  I’m really pleased with it and I’m sure I’ll wear it a lot once the weather is cooler.  It’s rare for me to actually get a chance to make one of my designs to keep for myself so to have made this feels like a nice treat!

Enjoy your weekend!

Lottie x

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Block around the clock!

One of the things I often get asked about when working at Stash Fine Yarns in Chester is blocking.  Blocking isn’t difficult, and really is worth the effort, as it can significantly improve the look of your finished projects, especially lace shawls, as you will see…..

So, I think some demystifying is in order.  I’ll try to answer some of the most asked question in this post and give you a little photo tutorial using the Ishbel that I made recently:

What is blocking? 

Blocking is a way of opening up knitted fabric to better show off lace (curing that ‘crumpled’ look that lace has when it comes off the needles) and to stop the edges of your project curling.  It also makes knitted fabric drape better. 

What do I need to block my knitting? 

You don’t need any special equipment.  Just a couple of clean old towels (old towels are best as new towels can have lots of loose fluff on them, which you don’t want to have to pick off your knitting, and also in case your yarn loses any colour when it is wet) or foam play mats, and plenty of long rust free pins (ones with nice bright pin heads are great – you can’t miss one and leave it in your knitting).  It is possible to buy blocking wires (which you can thread through the edges of your knitting for a nice straight edge without needing lots of pins), but while these are nice and certainly make blocking quicker they are not essential. 

How do you block something? 

Basically blocking involves soaking the knitting in/spraying it with water, and then pinning it out to the measurements on your pattern schematic/blocking diagram if it has one, or if not until the lace is opened up, but not distorted. 

Here is my Ishbel shawlette before blocking:

Ishbel pre-blocking

Ishbel pre-blocking
(Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

As you can see, the lace needs opening out, and the shawl is curling at the edges.  It could also be with being a little bigger.

Ishbel - curling at the edges!

Ishbel – curling at the edges!
(Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

The distinctive ‘points’ of the blocked shawlette are also not visible, only the curl.

So, on to the blocking:

Step 1: Soak the shawl in water

Step 1: Soak the shawl in water – you could use some detergent as well if you like.  A ‘no rinse’ wash like Eucalan or Soak is ideal.
(Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

Step 2: Spread the shawl out on some clean towels

Step 2: Spread the shawl out on some clean towels, roughly to the dimensions you are after.
(Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

Pins

Now reach for those pins – you’ll need plenty.  These pins were free with a magazine and I use them all the time.
(Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

Pinning corners

Step 3: Pin your shawl at the 3 corners and the centre of the top edge first.  Don’t worry too much about the position of the pins, you can always adjust them later.
(Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

Pinning points

Step 4: Pin the points of the shawl, making sure that you open out the lace, but don’t distort it.
(Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

Pinned vs not pinned

At this point I’ve pinned one half of the lace so you can see the difference.  Continue like this until you have pinned all the points, then add extra pins to the top edge if required.
(Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

Leave it to dry

Step 5: Step back and check that you have pinned the shawl evenly and adjust as needed.  Leave it to dry overnight (or longer).  Don’t be tempted to fiddle about with it until it is completely dry!
(Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

Blocked lace

Step 6: Un-pin your knitting and marvel at the improvement! Doesn’t it look amazing? Don’t you wish you’d done this before?
(Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

What if I do it wrong?

Don’t worry!  Unlike pressing your knitting with an iron (don’t press acrylic!) wet blocking (as described above) is reversible as long as you don’t over stretch your knitting to a ridiculous degree.  Just start again, blocking more or less aggressively depending on whether you wanted the knitting bigger or smaller respectively.  If you’re blocking a garment, make sure that you block to the measurements in your pattern, rather than by eye to avoid making it too big.  Also, try pinning out garments to the schematic measurements first and then misting them with water from a garden spray.  This method of pinning first, then misting with water is also good for fibres that are inclined to stretch, such as bamboo and other forms of viscose.   

I hope you feel more confident to try blocking now if you haven’t tried it before.  If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will try to answer them for you.

Lottie x

Progress so far…….part 2!

So what else did I make from my pile of yarn from Andyfest?  Well, so far only one other item, but hopefully I will get some more done this year.

I’d been thinking that I should really make an Ishbel for a while, as it is such a pretty shawlette and I love shawlettes (in case you have been living under the knitting equivalent of a rock for the past few years, Ishbel is a shawl pattern by Ysolda Teague which has acheived cult status, and at the time of writing nearly 12,000 projects on Ravelry!).

One of the *ahem* three skeins of Fyberspates Faery Wings I got at Andyfest was a gorgeous cherry red colour, which I bought with my Mum in mind.  It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to make anything for her, so I thought it was time to sort that out.  Quite a few people have made Ishbel in Faery Wings, so it seemed like a safe bet (Faery Wings is a bit shorter than most 100g skeins of 4ply yarn, so I wanted to be sure I would have enough).

I started my Ishbel on holiday back in September after I’d finished Rosaleen and had hoped to be able to finish in time for Christmas, but with other things to do between then and now it was not to be, however I finally finished at the weekend!

Ishbel

Ishbel
(Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

Isn’t the colour of the yarn beautiful?  I confess that if this was for anyone other than my Mum, I would have had great difficulty in giving it away!

Ishbel edging

Ishbel edging – just look at the pretty points!
(Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

Faery wings has a beautiful drape (thanks to the high silk content) which is great for shawls, it blocks nicely (good for lace) and has a halo of mohair that just makes the fabric divine.  I even have a little bit left, which I might be able to use if I combine it with something else.

I made the smaller size, which is a nice size to wear as a scarf, and not so big that you get fed up before it is finished.

I enjoyed the pattern (I especially love the points at the end of the border) and even though it was a long time in between casting on and casting off, it didn’t really take that long to finish in terms of time spent actually knitting it instead of just thinking about knitting it!

If you’ve not made a top down shawl before, this would be a good place to start, as like most of Ysolda’s patterns, this pattern includes both charted and written directions for the lace (perfect for chart lovers and chart phobics alike).

Just two more skeins of Faery Wings to go!

Lottie x

Progress so far….

It’s been a little while since I went to Andyfest and came back with all that yarn *ahem*.

Unfortunately for the yarn/fortunately for designing I’ve not had much time for non-work knitting since then, so I’ve not made much, but actually having finished something(s) by now is quite good by my usual standards!

First, I made this lovely shawlette while I was on holiday all the way back in September.  The pattern is Rosaleen by Rachel Coopey with a skein of Easyknits Cloud in the ‘Petrolhead’ shade (I’m a bit of a motorsport fan, so it seemed quite appropriate):

Rosaleen Shawlette

Rosaleen Shawlette
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

I love the edging on this, the bottom edging reminds me of flowers and features beautiful twisted stitches (I love twisted stitches).

Rosaleen edging

Rosaleen edging

The top edging is a twisted stitch rib that ties in with the bottom edge nicely.  Did I mention how much I love these twisted stitches?

Although I finished the knitting on holiday, it is a little bit difficult to block shawls in a hotel room, and I didn’t fancy trying to take pins on a plane just for that, so it did languish unblocked for a while before I got round to that bit, hence the lack of photos until now.

It’s a great pattern and it made a good holiday knit, being in DK weight yarn it was fairly quick to do.

The yarn is gorgeous and works well with the twisted stitches and the lace, although I was cutting it a bit fine with the yardage, as the recommended yarn is quite a bit longer per skein.  I had several moments of doubt about whether I would have enough, and spent a lot of time nearer the end of the shawlette working out how I could shorten the edging if necessary, as well as nervously measuring out the remaining yarn.  So if you’re planning on making this in the same yarn I would get an extra skein, especially as I knit fairly tightly, so I tend to use a bit less yarn.

Happily though I had just about enough to finish it as per the pattern, with a tiny ball of yarn the size of a cherry tomato left over!

Come back tomorrow for the second finished item!

Happy New Year!

Lottie x

Bluefaced Open Weekend (or ‘Andyfest’!)

Last weekend I was lucky enough to go to a very exciting event with some of my friends from Stash, the Bluefaced Open Weekend,  (or ‘Andyfest’ as it has become known on Ravelry!).

Now I know some of you will be thinking ‘More yarn and knitting things?  What a busman’s holiday!’ and while I suppose you may have a point (and I did see and chat to lots of lovely Stash customers – it was lovely to see you all!) I did thoroughly enjoy myself, and of course, I may have sucumbed to temptation/been weak willed bought a small cough amount of yarn, purely for ahem, research purposes, you understand.

One of the many things that were really nice about Andyfest was the relaxed atmosphere.  There were stands from Easyknits, Posh Yarn, The Natural Dye Studio, Fyberspates, The Knitting Goddess, Nicsknots, Babylonglegs, Felt Studio, Ann Kingstone and Laughing Hens but nothing was too crowded and there was plently of space to sit and chat with a cup of tea and a piece of cake in between stroking yarns!

I didn’t get many photos as I was too busy having a great time and buying lovely yarn, but in case you missed out on all the fun, here’s why you really must come if it happens again (I’ve got my fingers crossed that it does!)

The Natural Dye Studio stand

Beautiful yarns and stunning crocheted blankets on The Natural Dye Studio stand

These stunning blankets from the Natural Dye Studio are in Amanda’s new book ‘Into the West’.  My favourite one was the rainbow graduated one next to the yarns, Rita.

Fyberspates and Felt Studio stands

Gorgeous yarns at Fyberspates and amazing handspun at Felt Studio

There were some gorgeous yarns on the Fyberspates stand, and I may have had a moment of weakness/madness and bought 3 skeins of absolutely divine Fyberspates Faery wings, which is to die for.

And at the end of all this I came home with a lovely pile of gorgeous yarns!

Gorgeous yarns from 'Andyfest'

Gorgeous yarns!

Fyberspates Faery wings, Posh Yarn Natasha and Sylvia 4ply ‘orphans’, Easyknits Twinkle DK and 4ply, Cloud and Biffle-Boo, a pack of Mini skeins in Flower Power from The Knitting Goddess, and a skein of Precious 4ply from the Natural Dye Studio…….

Nicsknots project bag

Fabulous Nicsknots project bag – big enough to hold even a sweater WIP!

….and a bag from Nicsknots to put it all in (well, maybe not all at once!).

Did any of you go to ‘Andyfest’?  What did you get?

Lottie x

P.S. The offer on Moon River has been extended……

Get ready for Autumn!

Get £1 (GBP) off Moon River until 00:00 GMT on 1st October 2012!

Discount is automatically applied at the checkout. Enjoy! ♥