Let there be light

Finally, here are some much delayed shots of my Obsidian. Sorry for the delay all!

It was caused by a combination of lack of daylight for decent shots in this dreary London winter and the fact that I am not 100% satisfied on this one.

This weekend was finally bright, so I threw this on really quickly and got the man to take a few quick snaps before we went out into the light to try to catch some Vitamin D.

(Apologies for the slight blurring – the light was still a bit too low, and I was also anxious to get out in the sun while it lasted!)
front
The neckline with this pattern is still an issue for me, as  no matter what I tried the edge is a bit too scrappy looking for my taste. Using a larger needle to grow the cowl as the pattern suggests is just too noticeable and even though I increased stitches it still looks uneven. (For the life of me I could not figure out how people managed to get 100sts at that gauge to fit over their shoulders! I tried various needle sizes but it just wouldn’t give a satisfying result.)

Also, I was running out of yarn so in order to get the length of the cowl long enough to do this with –shoulder

I had to take length from the sleeves and finish the body a bit too short.

(To top it all off, I will never wear it over the shoulder, as I discovered it is uncomfortable and feels silly! ;-? )

Next time I will also increase the rate of decrease on the arms, as the garter stretches so much that they are quite loose. I hope to go back and fix these things one day soon…and take the extra length from the cowl for the hem.

On the plus side the top pattern itself (minus cowl) forms a nicely fitted, light gauge top. The top down construction is much easier, especially for fitting the arm diameter, and that garter slip stitch is just genuis. I was so lazy I even used it on the underside of the arms!back
I will definitely use this pattern again with mods!

The Habu N-80 creates a very nice fabric and I have gotten a lot of compliments on this sweater.
habu n80
Just a note, though, that it took much more yarn than expected – 6 balls!

Schnabu Two

I have put my Toasty on mico- hold as I sort out a yarn order, and am completely addicted to my Schnabu.

The pattern is so simple once you sort the neck cast on out. I am not sure how anyone would have gotten the right diameter neck with a 6mm, knit cast-on and 100 stitches! But all the power to the ones who did. It wasn’t going to happen for me.

I ended up trusting my swatches rather than the pattern  (which I should have done in the FIRST place! Swatches don’t lie. Well, mostly they don’t!)and cast on 165 stitches with a 5.5 needle…a little smaller for a bit of a tighter fabric on the neck. I just felt the loops from the 6mm would have looked too big and lacey compared to the body.  I should really have gone with 160 as the garter is so stretchy, but I can live with the extra inch+ in width. It still looks good and fits over the shoulders.

Unfortunately, I have realised, once again, that I should have done a provisional cast on with the neck as it looks a bit sloppy. When will I learn? Casting on is another achilles heel (along with sleeves). I always get to the end of projects and realise I want to re-do the start. Sigh.

Anyway. The endless garter is a JOY. I had forgotten how satisfyingly mindless it is not to have to agonise over a chart! I can read/watch tv without hardly having to look down, and people watching on the tube is a breeze! And even though it is garter, which usually takes up tons of yarn, when you do it in a bigger needle it stretches out flat and inches fly by. I LOVE the slip stitch trick that keeps you knitting the garter on both sides – even though knit in the round.

Below is a close up of the slip stitch seam up the back. It is a pretty sexy detail, and definitely something I will be using in future designs:

Unfortunately, I managed to drop the marker at the back at one point. Of course, I got all the way down to the end and preparing to bind off before realising I had created a jag in the line by putting it back  in one stitch over. Sigh. Frogged back to the waist and lost all of Sunday’s knitting.

Pattern gushing over…a bit more on the the Habu N-80 that I am using for the first time:

I searched for ages for the right project for the yarn. It is a strange silk/merino, as the silk is wound around the merino core, sliding about and bunching in places to form nubs of colour. I had assumed it would have as ‘fluid’ a hand as other silk/merino yarns, but it reminds me more of a linen in its almost crisp drape. It is hard to describe.

As mentioned in a previous post, I love the look of the Habu packaging – precious little bundles wrapped with simple paper. However, once the wrap is off the balls are actually a little annoying as the yarn slides off the bundle in chunks instead of spooling out as you need it.

Also, the yarn itself is a bit hard on the hands at first – unpleasantly like what I imagine knitting with rough twine would be like – as the rough wound silk scrapes over your fingers with every stitch. You wouldn’t think it would hurt, but after a few hours my fingers were pink, raw and sore! They have toughened up a bit since, but be prepared for some pain when you first start working with it!

All that said, the fabric it makes is quite pretty and totally unique:

A subtle variation of colour, and in the larger needle size rather sheer (not sure this is what I want in winter wear, but it will make it a year-round piece with layering!).

Here was my progress 2 days, ago. I am now past the waist. This was approx 3 balls of yarn:

I got a bit of help from the lovely Gail From Today’s Agenda on how the top down process works, as I was struggling a bit with the concept and couldn’t figure out if you knit to the top of the arm or down to the armpit before doing anything. Apparently it is the latter. Bless her for her non-judgmental help! It is so obvious, now that I have done it.

I am a little worried about the uneven-ness in the cowl stitches, though. Fear I may have to go back and re-do part of the cowl at the end, as usual, to get it looking a bit more cohesive.

I am just praying it all evens out when I wet block at the end (as steam blocking it is still leaving it a bit wibbly!). Fingers crossed.

Habu Textiles

Over the last few months I have become more and more aware of Habu Textiles yarns. I will be honest and say that it is likely because of their gorgeous earthy/minimalist aesthetic! They really stand out from the crowd in a discipline that unfortunately can be over-run by nauseating, embarrassment inducing, ‘cutesie-ness’!

Their yarns are packaged slightly retro – either on classy cardboard cones or in little folded bundles, neatly secured with a band of kraft paper that looks slightly like old-school butcher tape.

As you recall from my excited horde image, I purchased several balls of Habu N-80 at the Knitting and Stitching Show a few weeks ago:

Two are to supplement the 4 a dear friend brought me from Vancouver.

Based in New York, they have come up with some really unique yarns – yarns spun with stainless steel or copper cores, others in paper or even a thin strand of merino wrapped with thinner silk thread that pools in interesting ways and adds a lovely stiff drape to the fabric.

I love the variety and ingenuity and the colours are muted and classy…not a single clownish hue in the lot!

Having sung their praises, there is something about their presence that kind of irks me, though – it is nearly impossible to find detailed shots of finished products made with their yarns.

Do yarn companies not understand that customers need to see how their product knits up? How it drapes, its stitch definition, or how holds its shape in different patterns and items? This is even more important as more and more people shop online and are unable to feel the yarns before they buy them. (Habu yarns are hard to find in the UK and only a couple of their lines are available here).

This has recently gone up on their site as an example of the N-80:

No close-ups or links to any…and 4 arms…gulp. (‘just because you can…’). Not exactly selling the yarn.

So imagine my excitement at seeing that they would have a booth at the Knitting and Stitching show a couple weeks ago! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some knit samples of their yarns so I could see how they knit up.

Unfortunately, the experience was a bit of a disappointment. You see, most of the samples present were knit in blends of the Habu yarns. So in order to get the same effect you would need to spend a kidney’s worth on the yarn combo’s needed. Also, you couldn’t get a sense of what the individual yarns properties were by itself.

That didn’t stop me from getting slightly sucked in, though, as I couldn’t resist getting 4 more balls of the N-80 in the teal colourway!

Lets hope it doesn’t take me another 6 months to find the right pattern for these babies!

Schnabu

Finally swatching my Habu N-80 in earnest for Obsidian.

It is knit in the round, but WITHOUT purling! A fantastic technique that uses a wrap, creating a sexy seam up the back of the garment.

Here is a detail of the seam from Lisa Mutch:

Exciting…

Knit show extravaganza!

I attended my first knitting show/exhibition/fair thing today! It was Twisted Thread’s Knitting and Stitching Show, on this weekend at Alexandra Palace in Muswell Hill.

It was a perfect sunny day to head up the hill and I managed to get there reasonably early, around 11, so managed to catch a good hour of calm browsing before the bulk of the crowds arrived. This is the view that greeted me on entry:

I have to say, I was pretty excited about the whole thing and was very pleased to be around like-minded folk for a day! The atmosphere (despite the numerous school groups of giggling teenagers!) was friendly and blissfully courteous for London; People saying ‘excuse me’ when they bumped into you – a rarity in London – at least until the crowds swelled and the more typical Big Smoke impatience started to creep in!

I decided to seek out a coffee and then start methodically working my way through the aisles when I encountered this scene:

I nearly swallowed my tongue. Massive mounds of sale yarn bundles…and not one – but TWO! This was the Black Sheep Craft Barn, Black Sheep Wool‘s exhibit. People were calmly perched on the edges, demurely looking at the packages nearest to them in calm contemplation. I was astounded. I think I stood there for a bit with flies diving in and out of my maw until I realised what I must look like! Of course coffee was abandoned while I waded in and rummaged for a bit.

I surfaced with a modest 2 bags of Rowan Purelife, organic wool which is naturally dyed, in a light shade I can overdye if I want. At £14.99 for 10 it was too good to pass up! I have used this yarn before in my Knubby Moss Wristwarmers and a stripe in my Miriam, and it is lovely – dense with great stitch definition and wears very well. Oh and NOT ITCHY. With high abrasion it hardly pills, and with low abrasion, just sits there looking crisp and new.

Here is my hoard of booty from the day:

I admit I went a little overboard. It’s been a crappy health week and have been feeling a little down, so I figured I could justify some retail therapy! Nothing says ‘cheer up’ like stash plumping. (Yes, I know I said I was going to ease off on adding to the collection until I use more of it up…but that’s life.)

I managed to track down the Habu Textiles people and went a tiny bit nuts at their booth. I’ll be doing some more posts on the day, so will explain more on this later. It was amazing to finally be able to touch fabrics knit in their weird materials!!

I finally found myself a knitting basket – Lantern Moon, from the shop Addicted2Knit. I had seen these online a few months ago and googled for ages trying to track down a UK supplier, but no go…and then today she was just there waiting for me. How could I refuse to bring her home with me? (The basket. Not the supplier.)

I have also been looking for a tasteful and contemporary shawl brooch…and at the same booth ta-dah:

They had a few lovely ones. This one is a patina-d brass, embossed with an almost fingerprint, or wood-grain like texture (makes me think of a seed, but I can’t think from WHAT. Think a tree.), and comes with a nice thin, dark wood spike. You can see them all and order from their site, along with the basket above.

Lastly, I got 2 kinds of interesting ribbon for button plackets.

The black peacock one was from an amazing Indian flavoured stall, Aarti J’s, that had some really beautiful mirrored ribbons and beaded embellishments. Some really bling-y and over the top, but others that you could use sparingly to great effect. You can see their catalogue here.

The cheery bottom ribbon is from Textile Garden in Henfield. I have just been checking out their online offer and they have tons of fab contemporary wooden and shell buttons and some super cool ribbon. Hardly a gnome-r in the lot, which is super rare for trimmings in my experience!

Check out the raven wood buttons. I was tempted by these, but have seriously cut myself off from any more button purchases at the moment. So Poe.

Or perhaps a little squirrel ribbon for the an inside detail on a button plackett?
Or maybe, just maybe, you might be the type of person who has a dachshund obsession (ahem. Not naming any names.):
Speaking of weiners…check out the wire haired wein I saw and got to paw!
It really was a perfect day.

**update** I lost the shawl brooch the very first day I wore it. Sadness. Guess I have learned my lesson on shawl brooches with straight ‘pins’.