Silver bells

I have been a bit manic with projects and planning lately but couldn’t resist casting on for my Nightingale Vest (by Helga Isager) as it is the perfect weather for it right now – getting warmer but still pretty chill in the shade. A warm little vest would be perfect for throwing over a little dress! This is another pattern from The Bird Collection book.

I decided to start working through my stash which has been growing in leaps and bound as I test yarn bases for dyeing (it is a little frightening. But in a good way!). I decided to use the warm beige Phildar Preface (70 Wool/30 Nylon) I picked up on clearance in France last summer and am pairing it with some Alpaca 2ply lace that I dyed a lovely light cool silver (right);
By itself the Preface isn’t the nicest feeling yarn with all that nylon (very strong for socks, though!), but amazingly, when you add a strand of alpaca to it the resulting fabric is a beautiful silky/spongy  one with good body. As you can see below, the stitch definition is divine!
twisted stitch
It is really interesting how the two different coloured yarns work together for the bell stitch in the pattern. The way I have done the cast on for the bell stitches creates a silver stripe along the base of the bells.
I did end up charting the stitch pattern, just to see it visually, but it is very simple and common sense when you have run through it once.Very clever, this stitch. I love how sculptural the fabric is. So amazing and fun to knit.

Be forewarned, though, the pattern itself has a number of glitches – stitch miscounts and some omissions in the instructions, so you do have to keep your wits about you. I have read from the other projects that the arm hole decreases are funny as well, so am hoping it isn’t too bad!
But did I mention, pretty? Look at those little nubbies! So cute.



My first spring piece is done and ready for sprung-ing – whenever the new season decides to show it’s leary face. Supposedly the weather is supposed to take a swing for the better this weekend, so all bits crossed they are right for once!

Here is my slightly wrinkly version of Helga Isager’s Robin Bluse – aka Sakura.
This project started as a personal challenge due to having to overcome my fear of 3-ply yarn and tiny needles, but I have to say that it is probably my favourite result so far! (Or do I always say that?) All in all this has turned out beautifully…light and airy but still surprisingly warm from the alpaca.

Though, as you can see in the photos, the light fabric does tend to crease when layered under heavy jumpers as it was on the chilly day we took this shot!
I love the simplicity of this pattern and the small details like rolled the stockinette neckline which creates the prettiest, most simple little roll which looks almost like a more complicated and time-consuming i-cord! Brill. I have seen other patterns which use this neck treatment, but it was my first go at it, and definitely a keeper for future projects.

As mentioned previously, I did knit the front and back panels at the same time, which was a bit of a time saver.

I only had a couple of glitches with this one. I had some difficulty picking up the stitches for the side panels cleanly, as the crossed stitch detail on the edges creates a bit of a looseness in the stitch next to it that I didn’t care for when picking up. Three tries and the result below is what I am living with. I am guessing this is because the yarn I am using is so fine, but in future I might add a row or two more on the edge before starting this stitch to give it a bit more stability when picking up.
Also, for some moronic reason I switched to the smallest 2.5mm needle when starting the first sleeve… noticed about 5 long inches in that I’d goofed and decided I would stick with it…got to the arm band and realised the row gauge was off and the dolman tighter than wanted – so frogged and started it over. Figured it would also give me another go on picking up those nasty stitches… and I am glad I did as the join was smoother that last time around.

I ended up modifying the side panels a little bit to get a touch more width with my renewed awareness of row gauge, so knit 5.5″ before starting the dolman decrease. I also finished the sleeves off a bit tighter on the arm – 61sts-  as my forearms are a bit spindly and the garter stretches quite a bit. All bind off was Jenny’s Surprisingly stretchy.

I was dreading the finishing on this, as haven’t done many projects that needed stitching up, so am not the most accomplished at smooth seams! I ended up re-stitching both underarm seams twice and they are still a little wobbly, but not horrific.

The colour of the Isager Alpaca 1 (61 -peachy/grey) is divine. The light pink is blended with natural grey alpaca so is slightly heathered and makes the pink not so ‘sweet’ and almost neutral. Perfect colour. The only drawback is that the darker alpaca strands are also stiffer, so this does itch a tiny bit against the skin. I am hoping I will get used to it the more I wear it!

And just because some of you got a kick out of the ‘reveal’ the last time around, here is the full photo – before crop wearing my new POM!
queen of dorkness
All hail Diana Dibbly – Queen of Dorkness.

Another winner in the dork sweepstakes. ;-D

Spring forward – but wear a parka

Happy Easter, all! I hope everyone has been enjoying their chocolate-y holiday?

Well spring has officially arrived but the weather is still unseasonably chilly and it snowed a bit again yesterday. There has been lot of swatching going on the last few weeks and I am ready to cast on a new project or two as I finish up Sakura – which is still coming along smoothly and nearly done. Look at these lovely little babies!swatches
My particular favourites (today) are the little nubbly bells on the right middle, which is a gauge swatch for Helga Isager’s Nightingale vest…

The fabric is 2 yarns held together, like a lot of the Isager patterns, and this one uses a 4ply wool with a 2 ply lace alpaca. Neither of the yarns I am using are Isager – I dyed the grey alpaca myself and the wool is a fawn Phildar Muse wool/nylon 4ply I picked up for a steal in Lyon last summer.
I can’t stop playing with these! The texture is so amazing. The resulting fabric is soft and silky but has quite a bit of structure and body from the bells. I can’t wait to get started on the vest, but have been planning very carefully for this one, as the bells kind of scare me! I want to chart the stitch pattern (I seem to work better with visual charts, as I find it too easy to get lost with text. I find it easier to see where I’ve mad a mistake by looking at previous rows on a chart and matching to the work.)  but can’t figure out how to represent the ‘non stitches’, as you cast on 8sts to form the bell. If anyone knows how to do this, or has seen a chart for the stitch – whose actual name is…I haven’t the slightest clue…please let me know! 😕

My second favourite swatch is the grey Colourmart light 4ply cashmere swatch right in the middle with a Lateral Braid stitch test. The cashmere has a bit more body than I expected, even after 4 washes to remove the weaving oils, which, frankly is a nice surprise. No light fluff, this stuff – it has a nice stitch definition but remains airy and soft.

I am hoping to make the lovely Lemon, another Helga Isager pattern, with this yarn.
Amimono Isager Lemon
Isn’t that little Lateral Braid perfect? You can see a good tutorial on the how to here. A heads up to anyone who hasn’t tried it – tighten up the  yarn as you are dropping the 2 stitches from the left needle to avoid a stretched out stitch after the braid. It took me a bit to figure it out, but this second attempt is pretty even.

3_20NM cashmere
Otherwise you get this ropey lacey effect after the stitch:
lateral braid no
The fairisle ‘eyeballs’ at the top middle of the swatches were a failed test of my still fledgling colourwork abilities for the lovely Stasis Pullover by Leila Raabe.
As you can sort of see by how much the swatch below is pulling in at the sides…
and how wobbly the stitches are, I am not quite ready yet.

But another big thank you to my completely anonymous ‘knitting buddy’ for the lovely unexpected Easter gift! I will be practicing my stranding and hope to be ready to do it justice soon!

Movin’ on up…

In between stubbornly trying to finish my Odilon and starting random new projects I am trying to slowly and carefully make progress on my Robin – aka ‘Sakura‘.

Think it is coming along nicely and have only had one frightening experience with the whisper thin Isager Alpaca 1 2ply yarn tonight. This involved trying to put in a lifeline and failing miserably while trying to frog a 4 inch section on the front panel…with slipstitches. Eep.

It very nearly ended in tears, but in the end I managed to get all the tiny stitches back on the needles. Phew. Scary business.

As you can see below, I am being lazy (again) and knitting the front and back middle panels at the same time – bottom up.

Apologies for another dodgy late night phone photo!


Isager yarn’s Amimono publications have recently been making the rounds of the more stylish knitting blogs in the blogsphere. The family run business has seemed to hit on a perfect combo of beautiful yarn/stylish contemporary patterns/young and hip styling/ and ethereal photos!

Having recently contacted Helga Isager regarding her beautiful new book The Bird Collection,

I was pretty chuffed to find out that they have published it in English! It is retailing at approx £19 and you just have to indicate you want an English language copy in the notes when you order.

I have been putting off purchasing, and just went into the site again today to drool. Look at what I found!

A NEWER and LARGER book that has recently been published with nearly all the patterns I was interested in the other books (plural) all in one place…with NEW PATTERNS.

How pretty are these shots?

And the yarn colours are divine.

I am thinking of holding off until this one is translated. It is a bit more (approx £33), but has more of the adult patterns that I want, and I figure if I am going to pay for shipping, I may as well get the motherload of patterns in one go!

Waiting with baited breath for Helga to get back to me. Fingers crossed it comes out in English soon!