Knitting

The Singlets Have Been Started

The Singlets Have Been StartedI’m happy to report that the singlets have been started. I have picked up several patterns and have been trying them out. So far I have had slightly mixed results.

The first pattern (lavender singlet) was fairly straight forward when knitting up but I probably won’t use it again. It has overlapping shoulders and, to me, it seems a bit bulky around the armholes. It was definitely worth giving it a go though.

The second one I tried was the blue one. This is a good pattern which I will keep on using. The problem I ran into with this one was a slight shortage of wool. I was away for work last week and took my knitting with me (of course!) thinking I would get a couple of singlets finished in the evenings. I was going really well with the little blue singlet. It is knitted in one piece to reduce seams which is a great idea except that I ran out of wool with only 8 rows to go.

I decided to put it aside in the hope that I might have a little bit of wool at home to finish it off. I started knitting the white singlet, which is another pattern I will definitely continue using. Unfortunately I was unable to find any more blue wool so decided to pull the singlet undone past the neck shaping and take 4 rows out of the length on each side just below the neck. I have just about finished reknitting it so am hoping for a successful outcome this time.

Luckily the white singlet has not had any issues so far. I have finished one side (the front and back are knitted the same) and have started one the second. Hopefully I will soon have three completed singlets to pass on to the neonatal unit.

Knitting

The Needles Have Been Flying

The Needles Have Been FlyingThe Needles Have Been FlyingOver the last few months my knitting needles have been flying, literally at one point as I took my knitting with me when I flew down south. In my post “How Much Yarn Will You Need?” I mentioned a vest I had just knitted. The first time I wore it to church a friend of mine was really taken with it and said she would love to have one. She chose some lovely navy wool (unfortunately it looks grey in this photo) and I managed to finish it for her before she went overseas at the beginning of June.

The Needles Have Been Flying The Needles Have Been FlyingIn the meantime I had also been busy with my “Winter Birthday Presents”, and had finished a red child’s cardigan. The cardigan went to a young friend of mine for her little girl to wear. It was a nice change of colour from the pinks of several other garments I had made for her.

Not long after finishing the birthday presents, I found out at the last minute that I would be able to make a trip south that I had really wanted to do but thought I would have to miss out on. I went down for the wedding of one of my nieces, and was able to spend a few days with my daughter and her family.

The Needles Have Been Flying The Needles Have Been FlyingI hastily started a couple of jumpers for the two children as soon as I had confirmation that I could go, and was mildly hopeful I might be able to finish them before I went home. Unfortunately, but predictably, this didn’t happen. I made the most of my bonus time with my two grandchildren and ended up posting the jumpers down to them earlier this week.

The project I have started on now is woollen singlets and cardigans for the neonatal unit of the local hospital. I will be posting more on this once a bit more progress has been made.

Crochet, Lace Making

Homespun Comfort Shawls

crochet shawls

This review has been a bit delayed, but that has turned out to be a good thing. I like to be able to include my own photos when I am doing a review and the delay has allowed me to use much better ones than I had originally intended.

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

This book of “Comfort Shawls”, made using Lion Brand Homespun yarn, is very relevant for me at the moment as we are in the middle of winter here in New Zealand. As with previous Leisure Arts books I have reviewed, I was again very impressed with the range of different styles included in this book. There should be something to appeal to everyone.

Homespun Comfort Shawls

The pattern I was drawn to when I first looked at the book was the “Broomstick Lace Shawl” (the third photo above). I had heard of this technique before but had never had the opportunity to try it out. Fortunately one of our local yarn suppliers had the Lion Brand Homespun yarn on sale just when I needed it, this being the reason that the delay was a good thing for me.

IHomespun Comfort Shawls had originally planned on getting a light colour for my shawl, but was really taken with the wonderful rich colours in this darker one. While I still love the colours, I have found this yarn a bit of a challenge to work with. The dark colours and the boucle effect of the yarn make it difficult to see and count the stitches, particularly the setting up chain stitches, so it required a lot of concentration at the beginning. Having said that, I really like the way the garment is turning out, and the lovely soft, warm feel of it.

The instructions in the pattern I am using are very clear. I have found a bit of discrepancy between the instructions and some of the diagrams given, but I have found that sticking to the instructions has produced a good result. The book contains clear instructions and diagrams for all the patterns as well as a number of stitches and techniques, for example fringes.

This yarn and these patterns are a lot different to my usual projects, but I have enjoyed the challenges and learning some new techniques. For more pictures of these lovely shawls please check out the Leisure Arts website.

 

Knitting

Winter Birthday Presents

Winter Birthday PresentsJune is the official beginning of winter in New Zealand. I have recently finished a couple of winter birthday presents and sent them off, a bit belatedly, to my youngest daughter. There has been some very cold weather in the South Island, and even in the North Island, over the last few weeks, including enough snow to allow the early opening of some of the ski fields.

Winter Birthday PresentsIn March I made my daughter a pony tail hat which she seemed very pleased with. I thought it might be useful for her to have a few more, so I have just knitted another two. Hopefully they will help her keep warm.

I have also been waiting for an opportunity to try out a pattern I got a wee while ago for “Owlie Mitts”. I had a lot of fun making these for the most part. There was one problem though. I misread the pattern when I made the first one and, instead of doing 6 repeats of the 4 row rib pattern (ie 24 rows) I only did 6 rows. The result of this was that I had to make three mitts instead of two, which was the reason the presents got sent away late.

Winter Birthday Presents
Before Beads
Winter Birthday Presents
With Beads

I have included a few photos of the finishing process on the mitts to illustrate the difference that a bit of trim can make to a project. In this case it was the addition of black seed beads for the eyes of the owls. (See also “The Magic Of Outlining”.) The yarn I used was Opal sock yarn. While it may not have been the best yarn to show off the owls to best effect, I felt the colours were a good match for both the hats.

My next projects will include a scarf knitted in thick yarn and some light weight woollen singlets for the local neonatal intensive care unit.

Crochet, Karen's Korner, Knitting

What Is The Best Yarn To Use?

What Is The Best Yarn To Use?
Image courtesy of Flickr

How many times have you been stuck wondering what is the best yarn to use for your next project? There is such a wide variety of yarns available now that it can be a bit overwhelming trying to make a choice. My personal preference tends to be for wool, especially for babies, because it is a natural fibre that “breathes” and is very warm. The modern range of yarns, however, contains an ever expanding number of different fibre types, and also blends of different fibres.

What Is The Best Yarn To Use?
Image courtesy of Flickr

One of the first things to look at on your pattern is whether or not it is written for a particular unique yarn, or is suitable for one of the more general types of yarn like 4ply, 8 ply, 12 ply etc. If the pattern is very yarn specific then you are best to stick with that yarn for your project.

A lot of patterns are still designed for more standard yarn types. Obviously it is safest to use the yarn(s) recommended in the pattern, but if you want to use something different there are several really important things to consider.

Yarn Ply and Needle Size

Always make sure that you get the same ply/weight yarn as that used in the pattern. It is also essential to do a test square to check that your gauge is correct, and alter your needle size accordingly if it is a bit off.

Yarn Length

The composition of yarn can make a huge difference to how far it goes. A ball of acrylic yarn can be up to 30% longer than a ball of wool of the same weight. Cotton can be similar to, or slightly shorter than wool, and blends of acrylic and natural fibres will be different again. Always check the band on a ball or hank of yarn for the length and for the batch number. Make sure you know what the length of a ball is for the yarn used in your pattern and work out from that what you will need in the yarn you are choosing. If you are in any doubt err on the side of caution and get extra.

Crochet

Super Simple Summer Tops

Crochet Summer Tops

I have been putting off doing this review because I really wanted to at least get started on one of these tops before writing it. Unfortunately I have not been able to get the yarn I need yet so can’t add in any photos of personal projects.

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

I really enjoyed looking through this book. If you would like to see more photos please check out this link to the title on Leisure Arts website. We are well into autumn in New Zealand, but I plan to have a go at several of these tops for next summer. I think the lovely variety in this book will mean that most people should be able to find at least one garment which really appeals to them.

The project I was hoping to get started on is the “Ombre Tee” pictured on page 10 in the book and on the right hand side above. I really like the idea of using two strands of fine yarn so that you can use three colours to get a range going through five different colours. This increases the versatility of the pattern and encourages experimentation with different colour combinations.

As with previous Leisure Arts books I have reviewed, this book includes very useful information on abbreviations, hook sizes and yarn weights, and on some of the stitches used. There are some general tips, and some specific information on the yarns used in the project photographs. It was also interesting to have a bit of information about the designer, Melissa Leapman.

I am very happy to recommend this book. With projects ranging from the “Chic Tank” tank top to the elegant long-sleeved “Belle Tunic”, you can find a top for most summer occasions.

Knitting

How Much Yarn Will You Need?

How Much Yarn Will You Need?A very common question most of us will have encountered when starting a new project is “How much yarn will I need?” The obvious answer is to check your pattern, but this may not be as simple as it seems.

Patterns give the average quantities required by someone working to the recommended tension gauge and who is making their garment to the measurements stated. Hopefully you will have checked your tension (see “I Should Know Better By Now!“), but if you are adjusting the length of your garment, or using a different yarn to the one stated, it is a bit more difficult to estimate.

I am trying to use up some of the wool that has accumulated in my cupboard. Some of this yarn came to me from my mother’s “stash” some years ago, so quite a lot of it does not have current patterns available. Having worked in a wool shop many years ago, I am familiar with the importance of checking the yarn length in a ball as well as its weight. Some of the older yarn does not have the length on the wrapper so I have tried to check it online.

My mother gave me some very useful advice early on in my knitting “career”. She recommended making the back and one sleeve of a jumper first because this should use about half the amount necessary for the finished garment. If knitting these two items uses more than half your yarn then you have a problem. If you are working on a different kind of project it should still be possible to work out a similar way of dividing it up to help you get an estimate of your total.

How Much Yarn Will You Need? How Much Yarn Will You Need?The vest I have just finished (see photos) was a good example of this. I had originally wanted to make the cardigan but it became obvious halfway up the sleeve that I would not have enough wool. Consequently I pulled the sleeve undone and made the vest front instead. I am actually very happy with how it has turned out and it will probably end up being more useful than the cardigan would have been too.