Tuesday, 28 October 2008


I put the front and back of the Turbulence U-necked sweater into the washbasin, left it a few minutes and then lifted it out. The whole garment kind of sighed and relaxed. It is now the right size!!! Nobody could be more surprised than me. I'm so glad I didn't a) sling it into the garbage or b) pull the whole thing back and re-knit it in a larger size. The wonders of blocking!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Visual Colouring by Joen Wolfrom

I get it! I totally get colour now I've read Joen's book. I'm so glad I didn't give up yesterday. I'd never have had the joy of knowing that one of my knitting problems is solved!

This book is very, very easy to read and understand. The basic idea is simple - and it explains how to select a colourway that will make Kafee Fasset's 'Poppies' look stunning when I get around to knitting myself a Channel style jacket in that pattern. Some time next century. Let's not get carried away here.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

I Nearly Give up Knitting for EVER!

But what would I do with my hands? I do love television, but it's not the same without knitting. So, after a whole programme of Strictly Come Dancing with not a stitch knitted, I switched on the light, got out my tape measure and had a look at the situation.

It's bad. It's pretty bad. Not only have I gone wrong in the cable AGAIN (see the ugly lump on the left?) but my tension is all over the place. I used to knit larger and larger and larger as the garment progressed. By switching to Lucy Neatby's method, I now seem to be knitting smaller and smaller and smaller. No wonder the sleeves seemed tight. Also, I have been mislead by the boxy nature of this garment's design. I thought it was the same width, as a favourite sweater, and so it is, until you get to the arms. From the armhole up it is about four inches too small.

I looked at the original swatch. No doubt that 4mm needles gave too open and stretchy a fabric. Maybe 3.5 needles would have been better, but I went for 3mm partly because I'm used to my fabric getting bigger and bigger, but also because it gave the best result in the swatch. But the sleeves, in particular, are tiny! Note to self. If your Addi needle is on the front of the sweater when you decide to start the sleeves, for goodness sake go and put the front on a piece of yarn and use the same needles for the sleeves. Don't bunch them up on an old pair so that the tension changes from - are you ready for this - 30 rows per 10 cm to 44. 44!! how can I get it so wrong? So often? I so nearly threw the back, front and sleeves out, along with Tangerine Alef for good measure.

But then I counted the stitches across the cable panel and they were exactly right. It's taken me nearly a year to master the art of getting the right number of stitches, and even though I was so absorbed in the panel, that part is still correct. And if I give up now, I'll never be able to knit. I should be used to the fact that it takes me ten years longer (at least) to master things that other people can pick up and do straight away. Giving up does not cure dyslexia. And if I don't finish this sweater, then I won't learn things that will make the purple version a success. So, I will finish this sweater. Then I'll sit in the bath wearing it and see if the cotton relaxes.

I sat up until midnight and finished the cable panel. One stitch went slightly wrong somewhere at the top, but it's so invisible I fudged it! Enough already.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Turbulence U-necked Sleeves

I've been knitting for days, and there's still inches to go! Well, all right, I've not had much knitting time this week. Now that I'm back on my degree course (last year! Yay!) knitting time has had to go.

I've made another mistake - these are bracelet sleeves, and I didn't measure them and measure the point on my arm where they will end and check that they cuffs would be wide enough until I'd got this far. They are tight.

Well, I know the whole sweater is turning out small, and I'm relying on the cotton stretching, and I'm NOT under any circumstances ripping and doing it again, so I'll cross my fingers!

Oh, and here's an idea! I'll finish the front, neck and shoulders, then I'll knit all the yarn that's left into the sleeves. They might get long enough to fall on the narrower part of my arm then.

Beats me why I want to knit!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Too Arty for Me

Teva Durham is well regarded as a designer so I thought I'd have a look at her book Loop-D-Loop. Knitters beware. She also designs crochet! I got the crochet book by mistake! There is nothing in it that I would make, but that's because I am not tall, stylish or fashionable! Her crochet garments are interesting, and I can see why people like them, but I think you would have to be a model to wear them and look good.

I think this is because they rely on drape and beauty of fabric for effect. It's taken a while, but I'm beginning to understand short round people are better staying away from drape! Oh, and crochet skirts! Many of Teva's items close with a single bow or artfully placed pin. Fine for prancing around a warm garden in America, not so good for running up to the supermarket on a windy day in Lancashire.

The practice cable for the Turbulence U-necked sweater is done, but I'm working on the sleeves at the moment - plain stocking stitch is nice and soothing after all that cable trauma.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Norwegian Mittens

Found another disaster to photograph. These are supposed to be Elizabeth Zimmerman's Norwegian mittens. I'm only not throwing them out because the grey yarn is wool from an Irish rare breed sheep and there's only one ball. When I do learn to knit (I'm still saying when! That's a triumph of hope over experience) I might need that grey to finish the perfect pair of mittens that I will knit one day.

I was brain dead on Friday night so I knit at the sleeves of Turbulence while watching TV rather than going back to the cable.

And this morning I made myself set in the sleeves of Tangerine Nightmare. I hate that garment! It was worth setting in the sleeves as an exercise because I can see that the fully fashioned edges are a disaster! For my next test Alef, I will make the sloping decreases, left or right as the side of the garment dictates, but I will make them at the very edge of the fabric.

I made a start on sewing on the button bands, but I'd had enough. I will do them, though, because the only way to make a good Alef is to practice, practice, practice!

I know what I'd really like - a plain pattern for Rowan's Classic Kid that uses three buttons. Then I'd never have to knit another Alef in my life!

Friday, 17 October 2008


When I put away the green and pink balls of yarn I bought for poppies I decided to photograph the swatches - and the failed attempt at a Chanel jacket. Kafee Fasset has no words to wisdom to offer on fit - but he does have the answer to the colour problem. He says that if the colours are not working, what you need is 20 more colours! Hopefully, now that I'm knitting Lucy Neatby's way, I'll learn how to control my tension, and by the time I can knit a garment that's the right size, I'll have the extra 40 colours tucked away in the stash ready to start knitting again. I like some of the colourways, but overall, it's just not right.

Finished the practice swatch for the Turbulence cable panel - hurray! I went wrong once at the top, but I think I'll go back to the real garment now.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Brown Stash

Bought a couple more balls today, to add to the 80p worth from a few days ago. The new colours are acrylic, unfortunately, but I only need a few rows for the fair isle so they will be just fine for that. This pile of brown is destined for a 80s classic - the Ralph Lauren Ski Sweater. Ah nostalgia. It probably won't be the same this time around. The pattern is by Nancy Vale. I came across her 80s book second hand - I bought the original when it came out. Ralph Lauren's prairie collection was THE thing one year, I can't remember which, but I made the dress (American cowgirl type) from a Vogue pattern and the jumper and by some lucky miracle they turned out OK.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Turbulence Cable Swatch

This swatch would have looked neater if I'd done a garter border, but hey, Inner Neat Freak, hush your mouth! This is a swatch for a practice for the real thing. Let's not get too picky.

It's going pretty good - only one mix up - can you see it? There's a kind of lump where I purled a cable instead of knitting it. It will be a few days before I can get back to it because of college and a trip to a concert, but hopefully it'll be done on Friday.

It was a lot easier to concentrate on just the cable - and of course, a lot quicker. Another time I'd do the practice swatch first. I lost so much time going wrong, re-knitting great long rows, frogging again, re-knitting great long rows...as usual, the longer way round is often the fastest.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


Oh, I give up! Last night I undid the whole cable panel and sulked. I'll tell you what I did. I made the classic knitting mistake. I ignored that little voice that says, you should have 4 stitches here and you've got five. There's something not right here. Stop. Stop now BEFORE you knit another 17 rows, get to the end and then realise it's so sore you can't live with it. It was nattering me all night, but I ignored it. And I paid for it too!

I've begun a practice for my practice garment! Would that be a practice squared? Or, if it's a test for Turbulence would it be a wind tunnel? Anyway, I cast on in thick wool for the cable panel and I'm going to knit a test panel before I go back to knitting the test garment and then, and only then, will I get out the good yarn. Just as well. I would have killed Jaeger Extra Fine Merino with all this fumbling!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Christian de Falbe

A second-hand find. There is an introduction to the book by the Guardian fashion editor stating: these designs will not date. I wonder if she still has her job? There are only three designs in the book that you could even think about wearing as they are. The one above is lovely but I suspect that when I measure the sleeves, I'll find that the sleeve cap is too wide for classic fashion BUT what lovely details. It's beyond me at this point, but when I do get to the point where I can design my own garments, this will be a great resource book. I've learnt a lot about design by checking out 80s knitting books. The better the designer, the more attractive the designs still seem. The cheaper books look horrible now - the question to ask is why?

I also spent £2 on the stash: a ball of Rowan Felted Tweed in brown - partly to swatch with to see how I like it, and also, if I ever do reknit that Ralph Lauren ski sweater, it's the right colourway for that stash, then a full ball of green double knit wool, a full ball of flecked green and pink double knit acrylic and a few scraps of pink mohair all for Poppies.

So, with the book, the magazine and the stash, that's £8 I spent this week on knitting. It's amazing how much you can spend, even when you're not supposed to be spending!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Take Three on Turbulence U-neck Cables

See the extra markers? I found out the hard way why the pattern told you to place markers! I didn't bother (when will I learn to stop saying that?) because the purl row you just knit all the knits and purl all the purls, why bother counting? (I must learn to stop saying that as well!!)

Because I hadn't been counting and checking the stitches of the cables on the purl row, when I did, inevitably, go wrong, I had no way of working out when, where and how. Made low growling sounds and frogged it all back.

Started again, placing markers. Forgot the famous 'AT THE SAME TIME' begin armhole shaping instructions. Made loud growling sounds and frogged it all back.

Started again. And this time I'm not doing too badly, although the stitches look pulled and lumpy, I'll have to work on that.

I'm also trying to read my knitting. I was making errors because I didn't understand why I held the stitches on the cable needle either forward or backwards. Now I'm looking at the cables as I go, thinking well, if this cable is travelling towards me, then I'll need to hold it at the front and fetch a purl stitch over this side so it can slant left, or whatever the details might be. Also, if I know that I have a row of three knit stitches and they are twisting right, then if my instructions say to work on four or two stitches, I should stop and check!

The yarn has better yardage than I thought at first - I think it will make the sleeves called for in the pattern. They are only bracelet length. I started the sleeves for some easy knitting and a rest from the cables. Bearing in mind the horrible non-matching sleeves I produced for practice Alef, I decided to go back to my old method of knitting them flat, both at the same time. If it seems to take a lot, lot longer than knitting in the round, then the answer might be double knitting. I know Lucy Neatby has a DVD on double knitting, and you can knit two sleeves in the round at the same time so that they match.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Turbulence Cable Chart

Right, I think I've got it! I enlarged the chart onto a photocopy and then colour coded all the types of cable. And I'm using a row counter and writing down what to do. It's going to work this time!

I did 12 rows last night, but haven't had a lot of time.

I treated myself to a copy of Yarn Forward. This is issue 9 or 12 or something, so it's been out for a while. I probably wouldn't buy it regularly, but it's quite good - a bit more fashionable than the other titles out there.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


I did 16 rows before I discovered that I'd got the cable panel for the neck of the Turbulence U-necked sweater all wrong!

I was so fed up - I mean I'd pored over the diagram - written out each row before I knitted it, kept a count of the rows, worked so carefully. It looked beautiful. I was even starting to wonder if I might move on to cabling without a needle any time soon. And then I ran into trouble: the outside cable was one stitch short. Yes, I'd misread the key - some symbols are slightly wider than others - they are over four stitches. Some symbols are slightly narrow than others - they are over three stitches. Otherwise the legends are identical.

Louise's first law of knitting:

If it is possible to make a knitting mistake, Louise will make it.

I pulled it all back in a fierce temper growling: rip! rip! rip!

I should have taken a picture - it would have been interesting to compare them. But I was mad clear through and past reasoned thought.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Turbulence U-neck is ready for the Exciting Bit!

I did sew on the lace trim for Tangerine Nightmare this weekend. It took three attempts but I finally got the overcasting to look neat. The instructions were in a tatty old second-hand book that I nearly didn't buy (what, spend a whole pound on a book with a grubby cover?) but I'm so glad I did. There's something about the way the instructions are written and drawn that make sense to me, when other, posher books leave me baffled. The secret of overcasting is to only take the edge bump of the stitch - the less you have in the seam, the neater it looks. Once I'd got my head around that, it worked fine.

The graft on the two pieces of lace for the trim went much better this time as well. I seemed to end up with a lot of loose ends that were difficult to sew into lace without them showing. I think I need to buy a sharp needle and split the plies. I'll try that on my next test.

Then I'd had enough of test Alef AKA Tangerine Nightmare. It still needs sleeves and the troublesome collar/buttonbands sewing on, but I'm feeling like I'd like our relationship to be over! I want to be with a fun item!

The front of Turbulence seemed to take longer to knit than the back, which would be the cable slowing me down. I did start a test once before, but the yarn - a cone of green un spun 3-ply - was a nightmare to handle so I threw into the poppies stash. There's a strong possibility that if it was a nightmare on a plain garment, then it won't be any better for intarsia, but I hate to throw yarn away!
But it was useful because I'd got the cable twist one row out in a couple of places and it looked sore, so I used a row counter this time.

I plan to be very careful with the cable front of Turbulence - I will use the row counter. I will write down in words what I'm doing for each row. I will check the pattern once I've written the words down to make sure I've got it right. If I can knit 36 rows without frogging, I'll know I'm improving!

You can see rowing out on the front of Turbulence - I'm still not as neat as I'd like to be, but hopefully that will come. This is only my second knit using the alternative continental purl stitch (as suggested by Lucy Neatby) and I'm sure I'll get neater. One thing I am pleased about is that this garment has not distorted as I knit. My tension is pretty even. Not perfect, the front is a tad smaller, I don't know why, unless it's that I'm still improving! When I knit ordinary continental (left leg of the stitch in front) my tension used to grow as I worked my way up the piece. This was also due to not knitting at the tips of the needles. Making these two changes has given me a sight of the knitter's holy grail - even tension you can rely on.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Brown Alef

This is to prove that I am getting better! Another horrible test Alef that took the long walk to the dustbin. It is vile in so many ways - especially where I've done half the lace on 5mm needles, then picked up 4mm needles and finished off the other side and not noticed! How can you not notice something as glaring and awful in the mistake department?

Today I watched Lucy Neatby on DVD on grafting, then had another go at grafting the lace strip together for Tangerine Nightmare. And this time I got it! I suddenly understood how it worked. BUT, probably influenced by mattress stitch, where you leave the stitches slack and pull them up at the end, or in batches, I left the grafting loose - it's only 11 stitches. But they wouldn't pull tight at the end. Tightened them one by one, then overcast a section of lace to the bottom of the main garment and went to the mirror. (You see, I'm getting smarter - I didn't do the whole strip and weave in the ends and then check in the mirror.) I looked in the mirror, and DOH!

One of my least favourite instruction is 'lightly stretched'. It is so difficult to interpret. I did knit the lace strip a bit shorter than measurement of the hem of the main garment, but when I blocked this lace strip it grew several inches, and then was slightly too long for the bottom of the garment. I ignored this and sewed it on anway. It looked frilly and naff. I took the unsewn section and stretched it lightly. It looked smart and lacy. Undid all my sewing. Undid all my grafting. Undid several lace repeats. Redid the waste yarn knitting ready for grafting, and put it all away until tomorrow.

As ever, Lucy Neatby is so, so right. Don't weave in your yarn ends until you are certain that everything is exactly as you want it. This little tip has saved me much anguish.

Thank goodness for stocking stitch. I am storming up the back of the Turbulence U-necked sweater. Thanks to my new, neat, Lucy Neatby inspired knitting, my tension is staying the same all the way up the piece. This is good!

I have just thrown the swatch in the washer. It will be just my luck if this is the only cotton in the known universe that shrinks rather than stretches - because my tension has stayed even, the garment, as it is, is slightly too small. It'll be all right. I'm on a diet!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Peach Alef

Here's yet another practice Alef knit in peach acrylic. I changed the bottom trim to cobweb lace which is knit from the bottom up - it almost worked. I like the part where it joins the body of the garment, but I don't like the bottom part - it looks tatty.

By the way, look, no seams. I knit it in one piece. When I first discovered lovely Addi needles and the concept of knitting in the round, I went through a phase where I knit EVERYTHING in the round. Now I'm not so sure. I think many items fit better if they have side seams, although I still do all plain sleeves in the round.

Because I didn't like the cobweb lace when I saw it on the body of the garment, I committed a fatal error. Laziness always comes back to haunt one. I took it on the long walk to the dustbin. And I didn't practice making the collar and button bands. Which means I don't know how to do it.

Today I wrestled with Tangerine Alef, grafting the lace band and over sewing on the button band. After a couple of hours of frowning concentration, which resulted only in ugly, sore looking joins, I pulled it all back and threw it in the basket. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to do it.

I already know that I will need to make yet another Alef before I attempt it with the Rowan Classic Kid. I'm finding this such a hard pattern.

Knit six inches of the back for the test Turbulence U-necked sweater yesterday. My, I love time off work!