Friday 31 January 2014

Sirdar Crofter DK Socks on Straight Needles

A few years ago I taught myself to knit in the round on double pointed needles (dpn's) specifically to be able to knit socks. I hasten to add, that as an adult learner, knitting with dpn's was not a skill I acquired easily and took me a few attempts.

More recently I wanted to try out the Sirdar Crofter DK fair isle style yarn and initially chose the lichen shades of Glen #76 colourway. When I read the pattern I was surprised to find that it was written for knitting socks with straight needles not dpn's. I was curious about how the sock would be constructed so I decided to give this pattern a go. I should probably say now that I liked working with the Crofter yarn so much that I decided to make a second pair of socks right away but using dpn's in Galloway #73 shades of blue.

For the yellow socks the pattern states three pairs of needles - 3.25mm (US 3), 4mm (US 3) and 4.5mm (US7). 

For the blue socks on dpn's I used the same needle sizes but I improvised a short row heel turn, used some of the pattern instructions and stitch counts.

I enjoyed knitting the yellow socks on straights and very pleased with the fit. The seams are positioned so there's minimum chance of rubbing especially the heel which has no seam. The only down side is dealing with a number of loose ends and sewing the seams. If dpn's are not your thing then this pattern might be for you.

For the blue socks with dpn's somehow the yarn balls didn't start with the same pattern sequence consequently I have slightly mismatched socks. I don't mind this so much because I really like the colours and they are going to be worn with hiking boots after all.


Thursday 23 January 2014

Adventures in Yarn Farming

As a relative newcomer to the world of sheep keeping I was looking forward to reading Adventures in Yarn Farming (which I received as a gift at Christmas). Barbara Parry describes her transition into farming life in New England and how she converts sheep fleece into high quality knitting yarn. The book is hardback and beautifully presented with lots of photographs.

The story starts with the wool clip and follows the year of the sheep through the seasons. I found it interesting and reassuring that the story sounded familiar and that I'm at least doing some of the same things. There were some differences in timings in the year for certain activities. The most striking difference though is the effort she goes to keeping the sheep fleeces clean and succeeding (whilst still on the back of the sheep). My Shetland sheep usually look as though they just emerged from a rummage in the bottom of the compost heap, so there's some work to do. 

Here's a video taster of the book...

There are 8 knitting patterns and other projects for spinning, weaving and dyeing in the book. But I really enjoyed this book more for it's description of lifestyle changes and it's honest look at the hard work that goes into producing yarn from sheep fleeces. 


Wednesday 22 January 2014

Good Reads

Some of the books which have distracted me from knitting last year have piled up on the shelves. I'm trying to keep track of the books I've read this year using Good Reads. Recently I was browsing Penny's blog and came across her post 'My Year of Books'. Which lead me to this link on Circle of Pine Trees. Which in turn lead me to Good Reads. As well as keeping track of books I've read I'm hoping to pick up some good recommendations too.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

A little diversion from the usual knitting theme. On a recent visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, a morning of sunshine and showers in mid January, I took my walking boots and set off with my camera. Here are a few things I saw...

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Couronne Cardigan

This little lot of yarn arrived in my Christmas stocking from Santa. I cast on my knitting project in the closing hours of 2013. So technically I have kept my New Year's resolution not to start any new projects in 2014 before finishing those already started in 2013. So far, so good. 

I saw the pattern for 'Couronne' by Helen Rush in autumn last year while searching for, 'top down' 'fair isle' 'cardigan' patterns on Ravelry

Credit - Twist Collective, Helene Rush,  photographer Jane Heller - image used with permission.
The pattern was first published in Twist Collective Fall 2013. The yarn is by Knit One Crochet Too based in the USA.  I couldn't find a supplier in the UK and did think about finding a substitute yarn. I really liked the yarn in the design photographs and thought that Santa could bring the yarn in my Christmas stocking.

Inspired by classic Donegal tweeds. It is soft-spun, single ply blend of high grade merino wool, luxurious baby llama, and bamboo for a nice sheen, with a hint of tweedy colours.

Fibre Content: 60% merino wool/20% baby llama/10% bamboo/10% donegal
50-gr hank
Yardage: 109 yards
Texture: smooth single ply
Sts per 4": 18 sts
Needles: US size 8 (5mm)
Care: Handwash/dry flat

100-gr/218-yds. ball
Suggested Gauge: 5 sts per inch on US size 7 (4.5mm) needles
Care: Machine wash in cold water and delicate cycle, and dry flat

I bought this skein winder off ebay for the yarn skeins for our spun sheep fleeces. It's a bit temperamental if the tension isn't quite right but otherwise it's a great toy for the job. It makes lovely centre pull cylinders of yarn that are easy to use and stack.

I'm at the start of the neck of the cardigan. It's knit back and forth in knit and purl - not joined and knit in the round as with traditional fair isle. The dyed yarn is changing colour through the knitting pattern so it looks like a more complicated 'fair isle' piece.
I'm enjoying knitting this project but it's not something I can easily sit and watch TV with or listen to the radio. The main colour has very little twist to it, a bit like thin roving and can fluff up easily. I already had to pull back one row and the fibre was not happy. So I'm aiming not to make any errors! In contrast the coloured yarn has plenty of twist and is very easy to use.

Here's an alternative colourway, thank you, Joyce (knittingRx on Ravelry) for letting me share your finished Couronne project.

knittingRx on Ravelry


Thursday 9 January 2014

'Sweet and Spicy' Opal Sock Yarn Review

Until recently my sock knitting yarn has been limited to solid colours. I have wanted to try out some self patterning yarn for a while. My main concern about self patterning yarn is, will I end up with a pair of mismatched socks. I liked the look of this established brand Opal, so I thought I'd give the yarn a try. 

Yarn Details
75% wool, 25% polyamide
Opal Pullover & Sockenwolle 'Sweet and Spicy' #6755
Made in Germany 

I purchased my yarn from The Woolstack. Included with the yarn were two patterns, one for a pair of gloves with fingers and the other for Simple Socks & Gift Pouch. I followed the supplied sock pattern which gives instructions for cuff down socks in one size - ladies medium - which was just right for me.

One thing that put me off slightly, was the tiny needle size of 2.25mm (US 1) and thinking this would be another project I'd never finish. Usually I knit boot socks with DK or aran weight and nothing smaller than a 3.75mm (US 5) needle. However, I enjoyed watching the pattern develop so much that the needle size didn't seem to matter.

After I'd cast off the first sock I had a feel for how the pattern works with this yarn. I could see that I needed to unwind and remove about three meters of yarn from the ball before casting on my second sock. This meant that I started casting on the yarn part way through the orange, rust and cream pattern section. There's hardly any difference in the two socks. There is lots of yarn left over, may be enough for some small children's socks.

Really enjoyed using this yarn and straight forward pattern. I'd definitely think about using this brand again in a different colour way.

Monday 6 January 2014

Rustic Mega Chunky Yarn Review

A big thank you to my sponsor Black Sheep Wools for inviting me to write a yarn review and for providing the James C Brett Rustic Mega Chunky yarn and pattern. Until 31st January 2014 Black Sheep Wools are offering 10% discount on Rustic Mega Chunky for readers of this blog. To qualify use the discount code HKT14.

I chose to knit the ladies Poncho #JB113. Instructions are given for 5 sizes (these are UK dress sizes) for 71/76cm (28/30) to 112/117 (44/46). I made the poncho in size 32/34 which states 6 balls of yarn. As well as the poncho pattern there's a choice of jumpers and cardigans in the pattern range.

James C Brett
Two sets of knitting needles are required for the Poncho - 10mm for the rib sections and 12mm for the main body of stocking stitch, also needed are some stitch holders or spare scraps of yarn to hold the neck stitches.

I made my project in shade #CS2 which is a neutral light grey with flecks of black and coppery brown. I found the fibre to be very soft and easy to work with. There are 9 other shades in the range.

James C Brett
 Yarn Details
100g Ball
82% Acrylic 10% Wool 8% Viscose
Needle size: 12mm
Meterage: 57m / 62yds

30° wash | Do not iron | Do not bleach | May be dry cleaned | Do not tumble dry

This was a quick and easy knit, suitable for a beginner with some experience. I spent a couple of evenings on the main knitting and a further evening sewing the seams and making the pom poms. The pattern is easy to follow and the skills required are: cast on, cast off, knit, purl, picking up stitches, decreasing, and increasing.  

During the cold weather I've been wearing the Poncho in the house instead of a cardigan. It's very cozy and gives plenty of arm movement for working on the keyboard and with the knitting needles.  It fits perfectly and is just right length. The instructions say to attach the cord and pom poms to the front - so just for show really. There seemed to be plenty of yarn left so I made a longer draw cord to thread in and out along the collar join so I can adjust the fit. There's just under half a ball of yarn left over for adding to the yarn stock. Another project for another day.

A reminder the 10% discount on Rustic Mega Chunky runs until 31st January 2014 at Black Sheep Wools. To qualify use the discount code HKT14.