No rush or How to approach your knitting project wisely

After lots of projects for other people, I have really been focussing on my needs this week.

Not only did I try to sew something for myself (well, apparently I am not clever enough to understand the instructions of a supereasy pattern, but that is a totally different story) but I have also officially started a new project on ravelry. And as it is a rather big (and expensive) project for once, I really want to get it right rather than the usual impatient rush. And so far (on day 2 of this project) I am rather enjoying how it slowly unfolds.

I have downloaded the 3in1 pattern by atelier al-fa a while ago, then I did some yarn research and decided to go for the recommended Wollmeise as I had already often come across the name but never bought any of it. According to various online comments it sells out fast so you have to be on the computer when the shop gets updated. So in that case I felt a bit rushed and I am actually not sure if it really is that bad.

Anyway, at the time of my order there really was only a certain selection available  but I still wanted to finalise it. I chose the yarn for a certain colour combination for the sweater but also bought one or two other skeins just because they looked so beautiful (unfortunately I am unable to only buy what I need – so this step clearly does not file under “wisely”)

IMG_1696 IMG_1700

The colours are gorgeous, the texture is great, it is certainly worth the money. But then I do wonder if it makes sense to use such a nice yarn for a very casual looking design. Considering that I will then wear it in my everyday life as a mother it will soon get ruined as all my clothes. But it would also not make sense to save it for special occasions.

Back to the project approach.

I took the skeins out of the box on Thursday and started to wind them into balls, yesterday evening, I made my gauge swatches. Now, this was interesting. Even though I tried with size 4mm, 3.75 and 3.5, I was unable to get the exact gauge that I would need and the differences where actually significant. So this crucial step hasn’t entirely made me happy. With the size 4mm I am just slightly too loose, in fact the number of stitches was spot on, just not the rows, so I am hoping it will be fine once I start knitting in the round. I have decided that my knit stitches are slightly tighter than the purls…. because then it will be fine 🙂

On the other hand, I find the stitches slightly too loose and therefore not as even as the ones knitted with the smaller needle. Hmm. Might reconsider.

Whilst knitting the swatches and looking at all the beautiful colours I was suddenly unsure about my first idea so I have started to knit striped swatches to see how the colours would actually work together.

I will need two colours for the main section, two for the bottom and one for the middle (which could be the same as for one of the bottom ones, I guess.

IMG_1695IMG_1693Unfortunately, I didn’t get the colours completely right on the pictures, the dark purple is really dark and greyish. It is relatively neutral compared to all the other colours and is sort of a good contrast for all the other colours. I like all combinations apart from orange-pink. In this case they really don’t go together although I usually love the combination.

I have now lots of options and I think the design really asks for a colour combination which is not an obvious choice. But to kind of make if open for many occasions I should maybe go for a gentle combination in the main part and keep a loud one in the bottom section with a contrasting middle? Or maybe not?

So, without revealing my favourites at the moment, what do you think? Which colour combinations would look best? I am looking forward for suggestions…. and then I will reconsider everything (including needle size) and hopefully cast on soon 🙂

Door 18 – favourite patterns

I have just been browsing my ravelry-projects, wondering when I will ever have the time to add my latest projects and I have realised that I have used some patterns over and over again, just because they are really great and versatile.

There is, of course, the Little Rascals by Julia Stanfield.

I am not even sure if the gallery shows all the models I have ever knitted from that pattern, but you can see it is very versatile and all children in my family own at least one of them.

Another favourite for a quick and easy gift for a new baby girl would be the Versa by Shannon Passmore.

I almost always use this pattern when I have to knit something for a baby girl. It offers many choices to adapt the shape but I almost always knit a tunic as I feel it is the version that will fit the longest, first as a dress, later a top.

And last but not least, there is the Rainbow Dress by Georgie Hallam. I haven’t actually knit it this year but I think it is a great pattern and I am very fond of it. Maybe because it was the first time ever that I came across anything a seamless top-down pattern.

Whilst looking at my past projects I have also rediscovered a few patterns that would be worth to be knit again, but enough for today 🙂

back to school

Stitch Samples

Stitch Samples

After years as pupil, student and teacher, September has always been more of a new beginning than January. Maybe a bit less in the recent years but September 2013 is definitely the beginning of something new as I will be going back to teaching. But this time it is not French nor Chemistry, it’s knitting.

As I have mentioned before, I will be giving knitting classes within the Children Centres in Kensington and Chelsea and the first one will start on Monday.

So I am actually quite busy preparing the classes. My students will be mothers of small children, so probably always busy and tired from sleepless nights. So the knitting might not be on top of their list so I should keep that in mind.

I am thinking of letting them practice the stitches and produce samples rather than just letting them knit an unwearable scarf. I have been inviting people to those classes and quite a few are traumatised by past knitting experience and it always seems to involve a long stretchy thing. So I really want to avoid scarfs.

I also want them to produce samples of their stitches and techniques for future reference as they might not have enough time now but will pick it up again a bit later.

Once they got a bit more confident, we will knit rather small items as I want to make sure that things can actually be finished to get the full satisfaction.

The courses only last 5 or 6 weeks and I am almost certain that most of my students will miss at least one class, that’s just how it is if you have small children.

The smallest pretty item I could think of is actually a garter stitch bow which can easily be made into a hairband, either by attaching it to an Alice band or by a simple crocheted cord. I can only hope they all have little girls rather than boys… although the same might be used as a bow tie….

Or a tiny bag or a case for the mobile phone would be easy too.

I am also currently trying out soft toy patterns to see if they would be suitable. Somehow it would be an ideal project. Lots of small pieces with a variety of tasks, casting on, binding off, increases and decreases, sewing pieces together,…. and literally everyone of my students will have at least one small child who would probably be delighted.

I have made one rather big bear, I found the pattern in the last Let’s knit issue, or rather in the complementary booklet with free patterns. It is not too bad, slightly too big I think for my purpose, very classic though and reminds me of the Mr Bean teddy which I always found very cute.



The other toy is a bit smaller, either a rabbit or a bear, depending on the ears, it is lovely too. I really like the shape of the head and the floppy ears of my rabbit. It is written by April Cromwell. She has a great blog too.


This one might be a bit too tricky to sew together, so I will have to think about it. Or I will end up writing my own pattern.

I will see how people are doing the first two weeks and then we will decide what to knit as project.

So, I am quite busy now but I have also been busy over summer. As we have been visiting friends and family back home, I actually had to produce a few gifts for babies. So I did a few new Versa tunics as they are highly effective, quick to knit, cute to look at and long to wear as they “shrink” from dress to top.

The only boy in the list of babies to meet and greet got a Little Rascal. As my daughter found the plain sweater “boring” I added a little orange car which got her approval.

I also made a few scarfs. A too small for me Baktus in Sirdar Smiley Stripes, a Clapo-ktus for a wedding in a beautiful  Wool-Silk-blend hand-dyed by Dye for Yarn and triangular scarf in my own design, again that great Yarn from Dye for Yarn, in the most gorgeous red.

So, I guess it’s not a surprise that I didn’t actually have time to keep this blog up to date. Sorry for this long post, I really should post more regularly.

The Little Rascals

ImageThe Little Rascals by Julia Stanfield is one of my favourite patterns. Actually it is a whole set of patterns, it is really clever and versatile and I wish I could come up with something as well thought-out as this pattern (and no I am not getting paid for praising her 🙂 ).

It is a seamless knit so you do not get those sometimes fairly bulky seams when you are using a thicker yarn and there are no troubles with armholes not quite meeting the width of the sleeves. Especially for children cloths I find those two criteria very appealing.

The other thing I really like about this pattern is the fact that it is knitted from top to bottom which means you can adjust the length much more easily and just stop knitting at the required length (even trying it on before cutting off the yarn) rather than doing complicated measurements and calculations in order to suit your particular needs.

Now, both techniques have existed before and have been invented by another very clever person (who should be praised for, too) but I just happened to stumble upon this pattern and it has been the base for a few sweaters so far. My own children and two nephews were lucky enough to get woolen ones for this winter, the next one to knit will be a summery cardigan for my niece.

Who would think that those two come from the same original pattern:



This is one that I have just made for a young boy, I quite like the slightly crazy eyes of the caterpillar, it must be really hungry:


And the best thing is that actually the pattern offers me lots of variations, sweater, cardigan or short sleeved vestee, different types of pockets, collar or no collar, hood or no hood,…

So those options plus my own ideas basically allow me endless and very individual designs which is just great.