Off the needles: Sawley hat

There’s one problem with going on holiday – leaving views like this behind when it’s time to come home:

France1

Just beautiful. I could happily spend all winter playing in the Alpine snow.

Before our trip, the first few weeks of January passed in a blur of back-to-work business, but I managed to squeeze in enough knitting time to make myself a new bobble hat. As soon as I set eyes on ‘Sawley’ in Rachel Coopey’s latest book, I knew I had to make one, and I had just the yarn for it in my stash.

Coop Knits

I have no idea how you pronounce its name (Snail-don? Snarl-dan?), but it’s wonderful. Grippy and warm, and perfect for colourwork.

Knitting Fair Isle to a deadline turned out to be a bad idea – so many tangles! so many mistakes! – and there’s some duplicate stitching to be done to fix the errors, but I’m calling it finished nevertheless:

Sawley hat

It’s lovely and warm, and a little bit big so it keeps the wind out of my ears too. What more could you ask for?

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Excuses, excuses

What is it about knitters and making up? We’ll happily spend months on a project, but when it gets to those final few hours of seaming and weaving in ends, out come the excuses. There’s laundry to be done, TV to be watched, forums to be read… and, and, and…

Maybe it’s that when we cast off we feel like we’re done. Project finished! Maybe it’s that making up is fiddly and time-consuming and just not as much fun as knitting. Or maybe, in my case at least, it’s mostly laziness. These socks, for example – I completed them over a year ago.

Stranded Socks

Colourful, aren’t they? I love the pattern. It’s Stranded Socks by Ravelry designer square [ j ] jane, and it’s perfect for using up scraps of sock yarn. But although everything looks ok on the outside, inside they hide a terrible secret.

Monster Socks

Eep. I can hardly bear to look! I was sure I carried the unused yarns down the side, and I didn’t use that many different colours. Where did all those tails even come from? Sigh.

So, my New Year’s resolution for 2016: no more putting off the making up. From now on, weaving in ends starts as soon as I’ve cast off. Probably. Hopefully. Well, I’ll give it a try, anyway.

 

Home sweet home

Where has the year gone? I stopped paying attention for a few moments and suddenly the high street is covered in fairy lights and Noddy Holder is shouting “It’s Christmaaas!” in every shop I go into.

We’ve finally moved in to our new house, unpacked (well, almost) and made the obligatory ‘buy all the stuff!’ trip to Ikea – and now I can start thinking about the important things. Like where to put my yarn stash.

My parents kindly brought us some old furniture to use in the spare bedroom, and I’m thrilled to move my knitting paraphernalia from under the bed to its very own little crafting nook. My yarn is going up in the world!

I swapped out the old handles for these adorable floral ones from Tiger (have you been to Tiger? It’s a treasure trove of budget-friendly Scandi awesomeness), and it’s given a tired cupboard a new lease of life.

Cupboard

Inside, the shelves are the perfect size for my yarn boxes, and there’s even room for some other bits and bobs too.

Stash 2015

And now I can get to my yarn more easily, I have no excuse for not using it up…

Off the needles: Vernal Equinox

Thanks to a week-long staycation (so many extra knitting hours!), my Vernal Equinox is finally off the needles. I um-ed and aah-ed about the cast off as I find crochet ones hard to block and didn’t think the garter edging fitted with the overall floatiness of the design. In the end I went with a trusty picot (cast on 2, cast off 4, repeat ad nauseum…), and I think I like the effect.

So to the blocking board, and from crumpled jellyfish:

Vernal Equinox 6

To finished shawl:

Vernal Equinox 3

Vernal Equinox 5

When am I going to wear a 1.5m-long baby pink lace shawl? I have no idea. But I’m looking forward to finding out.

In stasis

It’s a knitter’s nightmare. I’m many miles from home, sitting on a friend’s sofa enjoying a natter and a cup of tea with my latest WIP beside me, when something rolls out from my knitting.

A needle. Or, to be more precise, most of a needle – I’ve sat on it and snapped it in two. I start coming up with MacGyver-esque solutions (Super glue and duct tape? Whittle down the nearest pencil to 3.25mm?), then resign myself to the fact that I’ve done all the knitting I’ll be doing this weekend.

Up until then, I’d been making good progress on my Stasis jumper – I’ve finally made it past the acres of stocking stitch and on to the Fair Isle design on the yoke. The sleeves are attached now too, so I can get an idea of the final fit: a little tight, but it’ll hopefully loosen up a bit with blocking.

Stasis

As for my knitting-free journey home, thank goodness for smartphones. My Neko Atsume digital kittens (the only thing keeping me from achieving full crazy-cat-lady status in the real world) have really been spoiled this weekend.

A Little Lace

My favourite thing about knitting lace is seeing the pattern finally reveal itself when the finished article is blocked into shape. So it probably follows that my least favourite thing is the hours of staring at a crumpled mass of string that comes before.

Ravelry_vernal equinox 1

There’s some pretty lace in here, I promise.

Ravelry_vernal equinox 2

I may not be enjoying the full effect of Vernal Equinox’s glorious design, but I’m definitely enjoying the yarn. Malabrigo Silkpaca is, as the name suggests, a blend of silk and alpaca – super soft and lovely to work with.

I can’t wait to get this shawl off the needles and onto the blocking board.

 

Starting over

Not long ago I unravelled the first garment I ever knitted. And, much to my surprise, I wasn’t at all sad about it.

The poor ill-fitting cardigan had hung in my wardrobe, unworn and unloved, for the best part of three years. Every now and then I’d feel guilty for not wearing it and try it on again, in the hope that it would have magically changed shape and I’d be thrilled at how great it looked. It never had, and I never was.

So I came to the conclusion that the best thing I could do was give the yarn a second chance. I unpicked a loose end and started pulling, and a few hours later I had a large pile of yarn and a strange sense of relief.

Goodbye Peggy Sue… hello Lime Soda. Still a summer cardi with short sleeves and simple patterning, but this time I’ll get it right. And if not? Well, third time’s the charm.

Sarah Lou Knits Lime Soda cardigan

Pretty in pink

It’s so easy, when choosing yarn, to go for the qualities you want in the finished item, and not the ones you want in a knitting project. This might explain why I have countless abandoned skeins of Kidsilk Haze in my stash, and also how I came to acquire this ball of Andes by Debbie Bliss.

It’s beautiful yarn, it really is – luscious baby alpaca with the gorgeous sheen of silk. But to work with? Oh boy. It’s splitty, slippery and feels ready to felt with the slightest agitation. I’m struggling through a pair of Paula McKeever’s Cafe au Lait Mitts (lace was the wrong choice for this yarn) and counting down the rows until I can knit with something else.

Try on the gorgeously, ridiculously soft half-finished mitts, though, and all is forgiven.

SarahLouKnits Cafe Au Lait