Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Resolution Reflection

Stranded Blog Knitting Resolutions
We are nearing the end of June, the halfway point in the year when I should probably take the time to look back on my New Years resolutions and see what progress (or lack thereof) I've been making. For those who don't recall - which is entirely understandable as I've almost forgotten myself, I made a few Knitting Resolutions at the end of 2014.

1. To knit 10 projects from books I already own. I'm off to a bad start already - I have only actually finished one project from a book I already have - the Tic Tac Toe Up socks from Socks From The Toe Up by Wendy Johnson. I'm also currently working on a pair of Budleigh socks from Coop Knits Socks by Rachel Coopey - but I haven't finished the first one yet, so they don't count!

2. To knit 10 projects out of my handspun yarn - including a jumper. I've made ever so slightly more progress on this one - I've finished two projects out of my handspun so far this year. A pair of socks and the Linus Shawl (which to be fair did use 1000yds of yarn). I also have another pair of handspun vanilla socks on the needles but I'm not even to the heel of the first sock yet... I've only just finished the first sock and and cast on the toe for the second...

Stranded Blog Knitting Resolutions

3. Knit and steek a project. Nope. I'm still a steeking virgin. If you have any recommendations for projects that involve steeking, please let me know! I'm reluctant to knit an entire adult fair isle sweater and steek it - not because the idea of cutting my knitting scares me particularly, but because I find colourwork to be incredibly slow going and tedious.

4. Continue onwards with Operation Sock Drawer. This is the goal I've made the most progress on. I said I wanted to knit 25 pairs of socks this year and my total currently stands at 11. Not quite halfway, but I do have three other work in progress socks on the needles, so if I knit nothing but socks for the next six months - I might make it!

5. Start a knitting vlog or podcast. I think I've pretty much decided I don't want to podcast - I'm happy keeping my weekly fibre recap to my Fibre Friday posts, but the idea of video intrigues me so maybe I'll eventually try vlogging. Maybe. Who knows...

It sounds like I haven't really done any knitting in 2015 - which is not the case at all. It turns out that I prefer to dip into ravelry for knitting patterns, rather than choose from the more 'limited' collection on my bookshelf. While I love knitting with my handspun yarn - it's fabulously decadent, I find it hard to match patterns to the yarn. Clearly a Must Try Harder on all counts! The problem is I love setting arbitrary goals, but I hate 'Obligation Knitting' - a catch 22... Still, if I complete Stash Dash I'll feel a little better about my ability to meet goals!

Did you set any fibre related goals for the year? Are you doing better at them than I am?! ;)


Sunday, 28 June 2015

5... Striped Sweaters for Almost all of the Family

I love stripes. I know it almost goes without saying that horizontal stripes are unflattering and make you look wider - but I refuse to listen to this propaganda! I love stripes and I think there's the right striped sweater out there for everyone.
Stranded Knitting Blog 5 Striped Patterns Photo - Tanis Fiber Arts
Lifesavers by Tanis Lavallee. One of the reasons I'm so fond of stripes is they're such a good way to inject pops of colour into outfits without committing to overall colour and this cardigan is a perfect example of that. I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable wearing a rainbow usually, but the skinny stripes against the grey work wonderfully. I'm not sure I'd bother with the buttons and I think I'd add a couple of extra inches of rib on the cuffs but customisation is the best part of knitting!
Stranded Knitting Blog 5 Striped Patterns
 Dessine-Moi Un Mouton by La Maison Rililie. The combination of the texture and the stripes is what drew me to this sweater - I love how the broken seed stitch affects the stripes on the body and how this contrasts with the stockinette stripes on the sleeves. Also, a great way of using up treasured leftover yarn? Hmm...
Stranded Knitting Blog 5 Striped Patterns
 Mimic by Joji Locatelli. I know knit dresses aren't everyone's cup of tea - and this one certainly wouldn't suit me, but I was drawn in by the styling. Worn over a shirt and jeans it's a perfect smart casual outfit. I've just finished knitting a Joji pattern and it was a delight to work on, I think if I were to knit this one, I'd probably shorten it to hip length so the hem of the shirt would peek out.
Tide Pools by Andrea Sanchez. I'm always on the lookout for well designed kids knits and I love the simplicity of this sweater and the button detailing on the shoulder is the icing on the cake. Now I just need to find someone to knit it for...
Stranded Knitting Blog 5 Striped Patterns
Photo - westknits
Hofsós Pullover by Stephen West. Late June probably isn't the time for cozy winter sweaters, but I guess if you started now, it could be finished in time for the colder weather (or if you're in the Southern hemisphere, this could be exactly what you need right now)! For me, I think knitted out of a variety of charcoal greys, this could be great for winter beach walks.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Fibre Friday #20

Stranded Knitting Blog Fibre Friday This week I've been away visiting some friends and pretty much all I've been knitting for the past few days are baby hats. Easy Peasy Newborn Hats to be precise, out of leftover sock yarn. The Easy Peasy Newborn Hat is a free pattern by Keri McKeirnan. These hats are so addictive - I've knit five hats this week and I don't any babies to give them to!
Stranded Knitting Blog Fibre Friday Yarns used: Top Row, L-R: Pinkalicious Rainbow by Yarn Ink, Manos Del Uruguay Alegria in '7105A' and Austermann Step in 'Ennis'.
Bottom Row, L-R: 'Autumn Rainbow' by Fab Funky Fibres and leftovers from a sock blank I dyed last summer.
I still have a kilner jar full of leftover sock yarn, so there are many more hats on my horizon! I'm going to store them up and gift them to any expectant friends in the future.
Stranded Knitting Blog Fibre Friday
 I finished the heel flap and started the gusset decreases on my first Budleigh sock from Coop Knits Socks by Rachel Coopey. I'm using Skein 'Top Draw' in the 'Blackcurrant' colourway. I'm still really enjoying this pattern - I didn't take it away with me as with this many cables that was just asking for trouble, but I'm looking forward to curling up on the sofa and putting a couple of inches on it, this evening.
Stranded Knitting Blog Fibre Friday Aside from the army of little hats, the project that's seen the most work this week is my second Simple Skyp Sock by Adrienne Ku, out of Hedgehog Fibres in the 'Seaglass' colourway. At the beginning of the week I only had the ribbing and the first pattern repeat done, but I've done a fair amount of train journeys this week - so I'm now through with the gusset decreases and a couple of inches into the foot. I know I've said it before, but I love love love this yarn. It's the softest sock yarn I've ever worked with. I hope it washes and wears well as these socks are destined to become sock drawer favourites.
Stranded Knitting Blog Fibre Friday
Lastly, I put about an inch of knitting on my handspun vanilla sock out of fibre by Lime Green Jelly. I overplied the yarn, so it's a little ropey but should hold up to wear pretty well, if I ever get them finished - 2mm (US 0) needles make for very slow progress!

Not a bad amount of knitting this week, considering I've been out and about - predominantly eating very calorific meals in diners and drinking too many cocktails but hey - no one diets on holiday right?! ;) I hope you've had a very good week! I intend to spend the weekend relaxing before I go back to work on Monday.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

FO and Tell: Old Romance Cardigan

Stranded Knitting Blog Old Romance Cardigan Joji Locatelli
 I wanted to share a few more photos of my finished Old Romance cardigan, which is a pattern by Joji Locatelli and I used Madeline Tosh Sock in the 'Moorland' colourway. We went to the beach to photograph - the beach is my favourite place for knitwear photos, and I'd intended to model it myself, as I knit it for my measurements, but I'm a control freak when it comes to photography - so a big thankyou to my mum, who hates photographs of herself, for stepping in!
Stranded Knitting Blog Old Romance Cardigan Joji Locatelli Stranded Knitting Blog Old Romance Cardigan Joji Locatelli
 I followed the modifications that ittybitty used for cardigan, titled 'Modern Romance'. I eliminated the contrast colour for the lace panels - as I knew I'd get more wear out of a single coloured garment, and I replaced the picot edging on the lace with stockinette stitch. I also neglected to add ribbing to the cuffs as the sleeves were more than long enough without it.
Stranded Knitting Blog Old Romance Cardigan Joji Locatelli Stranded Knitting Blog Old Romance Cardigan Joji Locatelli
I love this cardigan, it's probably the garment that I'm most pleased with to date. The construction was really interesting and there wasn't any seaming involved either - but a fair amount of kitchener stitch, which I find quite satisfying, even if it is a bit tedious!
 It's designed to be worn with 10-12 inches of positive ease, which means knitting an enormous swathe of stockinette, but results in incredible drape. I wear a UK size 16 on top and knit a size Large and I'm really happy with the fit. I shared this photo of me wearing it in a Fibre Friday post a couple of weeks back....
Stranded Knitting Blog Old Romance Cardigan Joji Locatelli
I will definitely be getting a lot of wear out of this cardigan! And I think I'll be knitting more of Joji's patterns in the future...

Friday, 19 June 2015

Fibre Friday #19

 Until yesterday I had precisely one project to talk about this week - it turns out that deadlines make me a very boring monogamous knitter! Haha. But before I get to that...
Stranded Knitting Blog Fibre Friday
I finished the cuff and am knitting the heel flap on the first Budleigh sock - which is a pattern from the first volume of Coop Knits Socks by Rachel Coopey. I'm using Skein's 'Top Draw Sock' in the 'Blackcurrant' colourway. This is my first time using Top Draw and I'm not sure what I think of it yet - I love the colour, and it feels really soft, but it's starting to pill even as I'm knitting with it, so I don't know how it'll hold up to wear. It's a blend of 85% Superwash Merino and 15% Nylon which is a little less nylon than I normally go for in a sock yarn, but we shall see! Pattern-wise, I'm really enjoying knitting Budleigh - it's been a little while since I've knit anything cabled and I'd forgotten just how much I love cables! It requires more concentration than I can give it whilst watching Netflix, so is strictly audiobook-only knitting! Luckily I have a stack of crime novels to listen to...
Stranded Knitting Blog Fibre Friday
 I also put a couple of rounds on my latest Easy Peasy Newborn Hat by Keri McKeirnan out of leftover Austermann Step in the 'Ennis' colourway. Normally I wouldn't include such a nominal amount of knitting in my weekly round up, but I was scraping the barrel this week! Haha.
Stranded Knitting Blog Fibre Friday Finally, the project that's seen the most work this week - my 3x1 toe up ribbed socks with a short row, knit out of Manos Del Uruguay Alegria in colourway 'A8106'. These are a birthday present for a very good friend of mine - I think the colours will be perfect for her, so fingers crossed she likes them! (sidenote: we stopped at the beach to photograph my Old Romance cardi after I finished work today, and it was so sunny and lovely, I thought I may as well snap my socks there too!)
Stranded Knitting Blog Fibre Friday
I also received a lovely parcel from my dear friend Nina this week - containing some pretty handspun mini skeins - and she kindly forwarded me a Knit Picks order - getting hold of Knit Picks things in the UK is hardwork, as they refuse to ship internationally! I didn't need any yarn, but I ordered a couple of sets of their Caspian fixed circular needles - because I was lured in by the pretty colours, and a set of the nickel plated interchangeables on behalf of my mum - who wasn't keen on splurging on a set of ChiaoGoos which are my needles of choice, so I'm interested to see what she thinks of them, but I think they'll suit her just fine.

Okay, seeing as I'm pretty much up to date on my obligation knitting, I think I'm going to spend the rest of the evening working on my Budleigh socks totally guilt free!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Stash Dash Progress Report

Stranded Blog Stash Dash 2015 Knitting Progress
It's been a couple of weeks since I shared my Stash Dash progress - and I've finished a few things since then. But first of all, I want to talk about how my wonky scales nearly sabotaged my metre count.

Last summer, when I finally decided that my cute little vintage scales weren't going to cut it anymore, and I needed a digital kitchen scale for yarn weighing. I bought the most expensive scales that Clas Ohlson had to offer - and they never really worked very well. After being surprised at how little yarn my socks were using in comparison to other people's projects, I weighed them on my mum's kitchen scale and the results were completely different! So I've recalculated my yardage for my finished objects.  Luckily, it worked in my favour and I used more than I'd previously thought!

Old Romance cardigan - 1360m
Tic-Tac-Toe-Up Socks - 355.5m
Mixed Lilacs hand-dyed merino 2ply - 237m
Rainbow Trekking socks - 284.75m
Jaffa Cake socks - 310.5m
Easy Peasy Newborn hat - 71m
Lime Green Jelly BFL Cashmere Nylon 3ply - 370m (This is currently in use as a work in progress sock).

Current total: 2988.75m

I have a couple of first socks finished - but I'm not counting the metres on those until their mates are finished (even though you can count single socks as finished objects according to the Stash Dash rules), and I've spun half a braid of fibre, so I should hit 3km soon. Not bad for less than a month's work!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Fibre Friday #18

In comparison to the last couple of weeks, this week has been a little thin on the ground with regards to fibre related content! I've been sewing grosgrain ribbon into my Old Romance cardigan - which has taken more hours than I'd have liked and still isn't finished! But it'll be worth it.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
I've finished the first of my Simple Skyp Socks by Adrienne Ku, knit out of Hedgehog Fibres Sock in the 'Seaglass' colourway. This yarn is so soft - I never want to knit with anything else! I've knit the ribbing and the first pattern repeat on the second sock, but I had to put it to one side when I remembered that I needed to knit something a birthday gift...
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
I've made a little progress on my handspun sock out of yarn from fibre by Lime Green Jelly. I ended up ripping back the toe I knit last week and dropping from 72sts to my usual 64sts as it was shaping up to be too big! The yarn is a little overplied so it's knitting up to be rather textured… I'm knitting a plain vanilla sock on 2mm (US 0) needles - the yarn would probably have done better on 1.75mm but I don't have any needles smaller than 2mm…
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
The third and final thing I worked on this week is another sock. I cast on a toe up 3x1 ribbed sock out of Manos Del Uruguay Alegria in colourway 'A8106'. These will be a birthday gift for a dear friend - so they're getting most of my attention at the moment - I need to get them finished by next weekend! Although 3x1 ribbed socks are not the most exciting to knit - I find they're perfect gifts as the rib pulls them in, so you get a good fit on a variety of foot sizes.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
I've done a bit of spinning this week - around 65g of merino from Taylor Made Yarns in the 'Autumn Sunset' colourway. I love all the colours - they're so much fun to spin and the roving was beautifully prepared so it's spinning like a dream.

And that's all I have this week! Hopefully by next week I'll have at least one pair of finished socks as I don't really want to have to give an IOU birthday gift… Anyway. I'm off to watch at least one episode of Orange Is The New Black season 3, before I have to go to work tomorrow! I hope you have a lovely weekend, whatever you have planned.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Review: Ashford Kiwi Skein Winder

Stranded Blog Spinning Ashford Kiwi Skein Winder Review
I love gadgets and I love good tools. I have a tools wish list that is as long as both my arms and runs into the thousands, pounds wise (£'s not lbs)! But, like most of us, I have a limited budget for yarn, fibre and fibre-related tools and have to prioritise over what I want to splurge on, or what I'd rather save on.

A skein winder was always pretty low on my priority list - I used to rewind occasional skeins of my hand dyed yarn on two horizontal umbrella swifts - which works, it's not ideal, it makes your arms hurt like hell, and if your swift slips down as you're winding, then you have to rewind again afterwards... And I used to wind my handspun straight from my Lazy Kate on to my swift - again, it works, but after a big drama when I was winding 1000yds and the swift kept slipping and the skein circumference got smaller and smaller, I vowed Never Again and looked into getting a skein winder.

Stranded Blog Spinning Ashford Kiwi Skein Winder Review
I currently don't wind a ridiculous amount of yarn - this may change in the future, but I didn't want to invest in a fancy winder if there was a chance that it wouldn't get used, which left me with a choice between the Louet Skein Winder* or the Ashford Kiwi Skein Winder (sometimes just called the Ashford Skein Winder) - the only real difference being the Louet winder clamps to a table, like an umbrella swift whereas the Ashford is free standing.

I settled on the Ashford purely because I don't have a lot of table top space - finding homes for my ball winder, swift and yardage counter is hard enough - and I thought free standing would be more practical. This backfired on me a little - but I'll get to that in a second.

Stranded Blog Spinning Ashford Kiwi Skein Winder Review
Plus Points:
The Ashford Kiwi Winder is priced at around £75-78, it's at the lower, more affordable end of the winder spectrum (I know, £75 doesn't exactly sound like a bargain, but some winders run to £400+).
It's also pretty solid, considering it arrives flat packed and I put it together myself! I don't feel like it's going to break as I'm winding yarn - which I used to worry about in the umbrella-swift winding days.

Down Sides:
The freestanding structure doesn't work as well as I'd hoped. The base of the winder isn't very heavy and as you're winding, it moves across the table top, or the floor, depending on your set up. Which might not sound like a big deal, but it slows you down and can get mighty irritating! I've taken to clamping the base to the table with G clamps - which solves the problem nicely.
The biggest problem I have with it, is the circumference of the skein that you can wind. It's adjustable, which would be useful, except that at the largest width it's still not very wide - and winds a 60 inch skein (that's just over 1.5m or just over 1.6yds). I can't think of a reason you'd need a smaller circumference than this, except perhaps if you were winding mini skeins...
Also - and this goes for any hand operated skein winder - be prepared for your arm to ache!

It's a case of getting what you pay for - if you're looking to do some occasional winding, you're not bothered about the length of your skeins and you've got a couple of G clamps or a stack of heavy books to weight it down with - then go for it! It's a lot easier than winding with two swifts, I can tell you! But if I ever have the need to wind a larger volume of skeins - then I'll probably be destashing it and switching up to a Crazy Monkey winder (y'know after I've saved up / sold my soul..!)

I purchased my winder from Sara's Texture Crafts, but it's no longer listed on their site - however if you're interested in getting one for yourself, UK folks can find it here and US folks can find it here.

*The Louet Skein Winder is the only piece of fibre related equipment that I have ever seen be more expensive in the US than in the UK. It's listed at $185 (around £120) on Louet's site, and it's £87.50 right here. Most intriguing. 

Friday, 5 June 2015

Fibre Friday #17

I have three finished objects this week. Three. I'm going to go right ahead and start with the biggest one...
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
My Old Romance cardigan is done! The knitting is finished, it's been blocked and the ends have been woven in.  I'm currently in the process of sewing in grosgrain ribbon to stabilise the button band - even though there aren't any buttons, I want to keep the fronts looking polished and not stretch out over time. In case you haven't been following the progress of this cardi - the pattern is Old Romance by Joji Locatelli and I used Madeline Tosh 'Tosh Sock' in the 'Moorland' colourway. I'm going to post more photographs as soon as I have all the ribbon sewn in - but I think this is probably the best garment I've ever made.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
On to smaller things - and the first pair of socks I finished this week. My Hermione's Everyday Socks out of Manos Del Uruguay Alegria in '7105A'. I've been referring to these as the Jaffa Cake Socks because the colours remind me so much of the Jaffa Cake packaging. I've made a pair of these in the past, but this was the first time I used the heel written in the pattern - and I love the garter edging on it - it makes picking up the stitches for the gusset so much cleaner!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning Finally, on the FO front - I finished the Tic-Tac-Toe-Up Socks by Wendy D. Johnson from her book Socks From The Toe Up out of some yarn I dyed a while back. These have been on the needles since February - longer than the Old Romance - and I'm very glad they're done.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
I operate a one-out-one-in process with socks (or a one-off-one-on process) - so as soon as the Hermione's Everyday Socks were bound off, I cast on for the Simple Skyp Socks by Adrienne Ku out of Hedgehog Fibres Sock Yarn in the 'Seaglass' colourway. I've just finished the gusset decreases and I'm steaming ahead down the foot. I love love love how the yarn is knitting up - and it's so soft which is a bonus!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning The main reason why I wanted to get the Tic-Tac-Toe-Up Socks off the needles was because they were hogging the only set of 2mm needles I own (after I stood on a pair of Knit Pro Symfonies and they snapped...) and I wanted them to cast on for a handspun sock out of the yarn I finished spinning last week - from fibre by Lime Green Jelly. I have a feeling this toe may have to be ripped back, I went for a 72 stitch circumference over my usual 64sts - and it could wind up being enormous, but we shall see!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
Not only have I been finishing knitting projects, I finished spinning and plying some hand dyed merino fibre - it's a two ply and is really barber pole-y, because both braids of fibre were dyed slightly different colours. I'm going to wind it off and count the yardage tomorrow - for Stash Dash of course - but I'm not sure what it's going to grow up to be. Possibly some mittens or wristers...

It's been a busy week! I'm probably not going to get anything finished for the next couple of weeks - as everything I have left in the UFO boxes is a long way away from completion!

I hope you've had a good week - and have a lovely weekend - I'm working both days, but I'm hoping to get my first Skyp sock finished at some point, and maybe put get some new fibre on the wheel...