Pairing, pairing and more pairing…

So my mind has been whirring with choices for the Charm knit-a-long (KAL) and I am still undecided on what yarn(s) to knit mine in. I think it is just the issue of an ’embarrassment of riches’ and having way too many choices. ;-?

But as promised the other day, here are yet more yarn pairs to help you if you are having the same problem…

A strand of this warm golden caramel lace Westminster (Cardamom) held with the BFL/Alpaca light fingering would make for a subtly blended yellow . The fabric quality will be beautifully drapey and very warm. I’d finish the edging with the grey but you could try either.

I have several different shades of yellow dyed up for the update this coming Saturday, and yellow/grey is one of my absolute favourite combos! How about a Kensington mustard yellow (Wells – will be posting this to the shop on Saturday Oct 19th) and an edging in a shimmering Islington grey (Blighty)? The Kensington in the body would be warm and full, while the silky edging would give it a nice finish:


For all us green lovers holding a strand of spongy Falkland (left) with a strand of lighter Bloosmbury green in the crescent will create a lightly marled effect with a thicker, spongy and warm fabric. You could then edge with either the light green lace or the darker fingering.

Then a super luxurious option I have been considering for my mother…a large size in Westminster Butternut with an Islington Blighty edging! Super drapey and luxurious to wrap around and around like a big, warm hug!

I will leave it there for today but will try to get more pairs with the new batch of yarns ready to show you next week! If you missed my past posts on yarn pairing you can see more examples under the ‘yarn pairing’ category. Remember if there is something specific you are after, just email me through the blog and let me know.

Happy planning, all!


First Kettle knit-a-long!

For those of you who haven’t been following along on the Kettle Yarn Co. Ravelry group chatter we have decided to start a knit-a-long (KAL) to share some fun and help each other along while knitting up Juju Vail’s beautiful new shawl Charm!

Charm shawl - Juju Vail

A simple garter shawl with some lovely details this pattern is going to be great for some quick holiday gift knitting! This pattern will look great in a number of different weights with all that garter and there are two sizes which use either one skein or 2 of fingering weight, so more options for all of us.

Charm shawl - Juju Vail

I am toying with the idea of using Islington in light silver blue/grey ‘Vestige‘ for the crescent with the warmer, woolier natural Bloomsbury edging. Think this would be a subtly stunning classic with a traditional feel, the shine and drape of the Vestige contrasting with the fluffier crunch of the Bloomsbury lace edge.

Or a little bit more of a contrast Islington in a deeper grey ‘Blighty’ crescent with a fluffy lighter grey BFL/Alpaca lace edging perhaps… And thinking for both of these first two you could reverse the colours and get 2 small shawls (ie. One with dark crescent/light edge, and other with light crescent/dark edge)? One for you, and one to gift? Just the way I like it! OR you could stripe the two colours across the body of the shawl and use one for the edge…

Another similar pairing option  with a bit more zing, perhaps? Pair Bloomsbury ‘Coram’ green held together with Islington ‘Brunswick‘ teal— and then a Brunswick edging?

But then I think how beautiful and slightly more edgy/young/hip the shawl would be in a simple crisp, delicate lace like Bloomsbury in  screamingly bright blue ‘Montague‘.


Then….THEN another part of me wants to knit up a simple, one colour, super fat, squishy Charm with some Wimbledon sport weight in ‘Darwin‘!


Oh no. I am doing it again, aren’t I?? I have taken more shots of possible yarn pairs for this project and will post suggestions over the next few weeks, as this post is getting out of control! Can you tell how excited I am about this KAL?

We’ll be casting on November 1st, so pull out your Kettle Yarn Co. skeins and join us then! More chatter on the group pages

When ribbing goes wrong

It was another somewhat frustrating knitting weekend.

Buttercup started so well. The top down construction was a breeze and, even though I am using thin fingering for this project, I had the entire body and most of the arms done within a couple of pleasurable knitting weeks. I was enjoying the silky BFL and loving the cool, iceberg-y colour I dyed for this project, the lace quick and fun…everything was going smoothly…then came the ribbing.

First time around on the hem I tried something new – a sideways garter rib. I got halfway around the bottom before admitting it looked like crap where the new rib section joined the body. Frog one. L zero.
I then decided I would do a twisted rib hem instead. Twisted rib. On 3mm needles. With a tubular cast off. Ahem.

I may have well just poked myself in the eyes with those needles, it was so painful. And, naturally, since it was so much work, the twisted rib looked horrible. I hadn’t twisted the purls so they looked looked all stringy and loose next to the twisted knit ribs. It just wouldn’t do. Frog 2. L zero.

Not able to let the idea of twisted rib go I frogged the cuffs (and made the sleeves longer), and then I dragged my feet and did everything I could to avoid having to painfully re-do the hem. I finally got back to it, this time twisting the purls AND bloody knits. Both alllllllllll the long way around. It looked better. It really, truly did.

After the previous tubular failure I decided a simple suspended bind off  on a much larger needle would be THE ONE. Only to find it was slightly too tight at the end. Frog 3. L zero.

At that point I figured I would use Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy bind off. That works on everything, right? First the cuffs, then all the way around the hem, just barely making it with the very, very last of the yarn, spit splicing bits together so I wouldn’t have to break into a new skein. Ouch.

So I thought I had it and rejoiced, dancing the dance of completion with vigour and sending thanks to those cruel knitting gods for letting me finish at long last…

Only to find those sadists weren’t quite done with me yet. Take a close look at the sleeve cuff on the left of the photo. See anything …odd?
It looked ok  at first, a little curly on the edge after blocking but fine stretched out on the arm. However, after a day’s wear this is the monstrosity that presented itself:
Stringy, stretched out and gape-y , with weird YOs show along the edge. I nearly retched every time I looked down at my arms. No, really. It was so upsetting. What a disappointment…but it got worse. By the time I got home this is what the hem was doing:
It had loosened up and gone all hideous loose and frumpy on the bottom edge.

So new Knitting Rule– and this is obviously news to me as I have only ever used twisted rib with very bouncy wools – twisting stitches make them rather un-elastic. Makes sense if you think about it. IF you think about it. ;-?

So instead of tightening my ribbing up by going through all the effort of twisting the purls as well as the knits what I actually did was make the ribbing even less elastic than before. And to make matters that much worse I also realised that when I frogged back on the arms I missed some decreases on one side so the left arm has a weird row of k2togs bumps all around the mid bicep. wtf? (Who was it that said my approach to knitting was somewhat ‘Rainman’??? Sigh. Yeah.)

Frog 4. L zero. This little frog is kicking my butt.

I am so grateful knitting Camomile is still such proving such a huge source of joy or I would be right despondent by now. There is definitely something to be said for having multiple projects on the needles after all! Back to silky soft goodness for a while.

Does anyone else struggle with casting off? Casting on and off with a clean/stretchy edge always seems to be an issue for me. I have sorted out the casting on with long tail cast ons, but have not found my go-to cast off yet, despite purchasing a book entirely on the topic!

What is your favourite or fall back cast off? I know one of you must have a good one! Share?

Studying Stripes

I am still catching up on posting some projects, so here is my very first shawl.

‘Shawl??’ you say?

Yes. I know I have been pretty vocal off blog about how gnomey I find the concept of most shawls…but think I finally understand why people like them so much. It is not so much the way they look (which I usually find over the top old fashioned and girly), but the way they FEEL!

I knit this Stripe Study Shawl in a light, fluffy doubled laceweight cashmere/merino and a sleek, heavy dk silk. The wool adds warmth and luxurious squish, while the silk adds amazing drape and a bit of subtle shimmer.

It is, thus far, the most amazing feeling thing I have made. Like a luxuriously light, but warming hug in a chilly office!

It is asymmetrical, so a little edgy (for a shawl).

Another learning curve with tons of short rows and interesting shaping. It is worked from the flat side out to the point, and I obviously went wrong somewhere, as it isn’t flat at the top! Think it might have been a matter of tension.

Also,  a little annoyingly for the newbies out there, the pattern doesn’t mention that you should knit through the wraps to hide them, so I had no idea what would happen until I was done and got these holes:

Another knitting rule there – ALWAYS knit both the wrap and stitch on the next row to hide the wrap.

But…have I mentioned how GLORIOUS it feels? Yum.

Capped Coolness

Not that long ago, I finished my third knit clothing project – the super cute Cap Sleeve Lattice Top by Purl Soho.

A fairly quick knit, or would have been if I hadn’t made a few enormous time-guzzling blunders along the way!

As is the nature with mistakes, I learned some important beginner’s lessons along the way.

For this project I substituted cotton blend yarns frogged from thrift store sweaters, therefore had to do a little jigging around with gauge, but nothing huge. Since I am still a very inexperienced knitter I got the ribbing wrong first time around – it was too tight many,many annoying, clingy, splitty days in (the grey cotton blend I used was HIDEOUS).

Instead of hanging myself with my yarn, I decided to frog from the bottom up, not knowing this is a no-go area in knitting.

After about an hour’s cursing while trying to unpick the ribbing hem, I learned my next knitting rule:

You can’t frog ribbing from the bottom up.

After some desperate googling I found a mention on a blog of how someone had cut into the work from above the ribbing and unravelled down. No picture, but having nothing to lose at this point, I gave it a go. (also, bringing out sharp scissors seemed like the right thing to do at this point. It was important to hold myself back…)

Seriously bricking it, I sliced through a stitch and made a big hole, unravelling and carefully picking up stitches as I went. (Is it just me, or does knitting involve a lot of stomach-clenchingly anxious moments? I hope it is just because I am a novice.)

I seriously questioned whether those two inches were worth all this trouble, but when I considered how many weeks it had taken me to get this far, I persevered. I figured, if nothing else, this was another ‘learning experience’!

The images below show the discarded ribbing on the left – I couldn’t bear to waste any more time reclaiming that yarn – and the pristine rescued, double sided experiment on the right.

I ended up reknitting the rib in the same needle as the body and that worked out fine, though I did change it to a criss-cross-y twisted rib to mirror the lattice at the top:

Never one to leave well enough alone, I also decided to give the top an aqua stripe before the lattice for a bit of zing…especially as I was not feeling that hideous grey cotton! I do wish it was a bit more of a saturated turquoise, like the mock up I did, but it is fine.

It turned out fairly well, despite a host of other mistakes I can’t bear to catalogue. Though I can’t say I enjoyed my first project in cotton (not counting the checkerboard scarf I made when I was 10!).

I really missed the spring and elasticity of wool throughout this knit. Cotton is so unyielding that it really takes a toll on the hands.

(Unfortunately have picked a cotton/linen blend for my next cardigan as well!)

Oh well. I do appreciate how cool and airy it is, even though the unyielding cotton makes my hands ache! Even though the fabric is quite thick, it is cool enough to wear on a mild summer day. Perfect for my warm little carcass!

I have to say, I am looking forward to the autumn knitting though!


Over the last few months I have learned something about myself – hitherto somewhat unknown – I have a thing for cardigans!

I love them. I mean REALLY REALLY love them.

I have always tended to purchase cardis over pullovers as I tend to run a bit hot, and pullovers always make me overheat. I also don’t care for the whole ‘pulling over the head’ bit, which seems a bit fussy! (how lazy am I?).

My first big ramp up in pattern difficulty was Miette, a sweet little cardi by Andi Satterlund, pictured below.

With a simple lace border detail,

I thought it would be a good project, after completing my first lace  scarf (good fun!)…another level up in difficulty.

It was a good choice. Challenging, so I learned plenty of new techniques, but not too hard for a beginner that I couldn’t finish it. It wasn’t a breeze, but with a bit of concentration in certain parts, it was fine.

I also had hug amounts of help with Jo and Gail’s transglobal KAL (Knit Along for the uninitiated!). Thanks again, ladies!

How nice to be able to follow along with someone else doing the same pattern! I will definitely be seeking more  knit alongs in future. A great way to learn with support.

Before starting I did a lot of research and decided a few modifications were needed – of course! – which made it a bit more challenging.

First off, I used thinner yarn (Madelinetosh DK in Celadon) so had to recalculate a few things. Luckily one of the other sizes was a pretty good match for my gauge and that made it much easier.

I also decided, from reading other people’s comments on Ravelry, that I didn’t want the bust shaping as I tend to wear my cardigans open a lot of the time and didn’t want the boob cups poking out the sides (not that I would have much bulging cuppage to deal with, but one can dream).

I moved the decreases to the sides and it worked remarkably well.

The second mod was to change the twisted rib to regular rib. As the cardi is knit top down I got midway through the ribbing and decided it contrasted too much in the crunchy superwash merino I was using.

Here is before:

I just didn’t feel the crossed rib complimented the lace so went back to a regular 2 by 2 rib and took off the purl row before the start of the band.


This way the ribs flowed right up into the pattern and seemed more cohesive in this yarn.

I spent many ages getting the sleeves right, redoing one nearly all the way once, and finally, near the end, decided to reinforce the button band as it was just too floppy for my taste.

This took a bit of fussing, as I had never done button holes before on the sewing machine. Now I know why you need the special ‘button foot’ attachment. Heh. Oops.

So they  look a bit ghetto, but the ribbon makes such a huge difference to the structured ‘polish’  of the finished result, I think it was worth the aggravation…and the yucky stitching is on the inside, thankfully!

I had some troubles getting the right buttons as well. The ones I initially put on, shown below pre-button band, looked fine…but a bit …meh. they just didn’t add anything special and looked a bit dull.

It took me ages, but I finally found the right buttons on a trip to France at a shop called La Droguerie! (Beautiful buttons if you ever run across one in France. Lots of handmade wooden and shell. They are a chain so look for them in major cities.)

I wanted something that echoed the zig zag eyelet pattern, and these little beauties have just the right amount of spiky-ness and the colour adds a little bit of unexpected zing. Also, the colour combo of turquoise and rusty red makes me think of Tibetan jewellery (hence her name).

So here she is, cardi no. 2 – aka Quxu!

A mere 2 months to completion! Hah! Oh well, I am very pleased with the fit.

Thanks to Andi for sharing this pattern for free…it is really well written and a beauty of a design!