Camomille – comfort tea in a shawl

Enter stage left new project. The gorgeous Camomille by Helga Isager.
amimono_isager_camomille
Alternating rows of doubled fingering/lace yarn with rows of single lace creates a lovely, light and airy  textural contrast that is knit up to a large, cozy shawl…and then has the magic element – TASSELS! These take the shawl to Frida-esque heights for me by giving it a subtle bit of Mexican flavoured panache that I have been craving since re-watching the movie Frida a few weeks ago!

The pattern I actually have in The Bird Collection book is the Dunlin shawl for children, shown below. But I can’t see a difference (can you?) so will just make it larger! This will be a shawl I can cozy up in on chilly summer evenings.
Isager_Dunlin_Shawl
I have been planning this shawl for a few months  after seeing Leila’s jaw-dropping example on Ravelry.
She not only did a beautiful job matching her yarns, but added a lovely detail of these turquoise ceramic beads on the gorgeously fat tassels. So perfect.

I’ve decided to go halfway between the one colour version and the two-tone Dunlin version on mine, but with less contrast between the grey and pink and a titch darker overall. I  dyed up some beautiful BFL/Silk light fingering in a delicate blush almost-pink and a silky soft but weighty Baby Camel/Silk in a deep metallic pewter for this one.
Kettle_Yarn_Co_BFLcmlSLK
I can’t tell you how good this combo feels. I have never knit anything quite so…exquisite. The BFL/Alpaca is a light, fluffy almost weightless yarn while the Baby camel/Silk gives it drape, depth and the most gorgeous shimmer. Combining the two makes a lofty/drapey hand that I just can’t really describe, but is oh-so yummy!

This combo is such a pleasure to knit I am having a hard time finishing my Buttercup! I just don’t want to put this one down. Especially as I am doing more odious twisted stich ribbing for the Buttercup and it is painful! Not least because I have done the bottom hem twice to get the tension right. Gack.
Kettle_Yarn_Co_camomille
I haven’t yet decided if I will finish the final lace row with the glowing pewter silk, or the softer blush yet. Figure it will come to me the closer I get to finishing, right?

Silver bells part III

Things are going slowly and somewhat painfully on both the sewing and knit fronts. I am still working on the fitting for my Sorbetto.

Really.

Though I think I may have finally cracked the right shaping for the centre back this morning. Fingers crossed this is the last tweak! The sewing is exhausting!

On the knit front, I have finally gotten one side of my Nightingale Vest front finished this weekend.
neck back

I have pretty well had to fudge the neckline and now have to immediately do the other side before I forget what I have done for the simultaneous arm and neck decreases! This is only my second time doing a v-neck, so feeling pretty nervous about it.
neck

Think it looks about right, though I worry that I am missing something and won’t realise until I go to join front and back. I also noticed that the pattern doesn’t do any shaping for the back of the neck, which makes me a little paranoid. Shouldn’t there be short rows to shape the round at the back?

Hmmm. What do you guys think? Have you done any vests that were straight across the back neck?

I am champing at the bit to start a few more projects and have been planning and dyeing new yarn for the day I can cast on.

Oh. And frogging. This is what is left of my Schnabu.
habu n_80

I am stubbornly determined to find the perfect pattern for this yarn and think (hope) Organic by Ankestrick will be the one. Maybe next weekend I will get to find out…

Silver bells part II

After nearly 4 hours spent on a train Saturday merely travelling to and from Leytonstone in East London to Croydon in South London my little vest has grown and is now halfway to the armhole!
half
I have decided to make my Nightingale Vest one bell shorter and start the neckline V a bell later as per Strikkemus’ suggestions in her project notes (I agree that the proportions will be a bit cuter that way and that the neck looks a bit long as is).

This is the plan:
plan
Starting the neck and arm decreases at the same time on row 8. I’d considered adding a bit of light waist shaping, but then realised I had already reached the waist at that point and it was too late. Hey ho.

Three glitches thus far, though live-able. Firstly, I got so engrossed in getting everything set up that I missed the first buttonhole, so have decided snaps it is! Second, I misread the set up instructions and added a crossed stitch right next to the last bell in the front panel so have this now:
cross
Luckily it just makes the bell on that side roll a bit more prominently which then hides the extra crossed row, so it is ok. Phew.

The other glitch is a little less ok. I somehow threw in a K2tog instead of an SSK in the row leading to the next bell…in the very first row!! And didn’t realise until I was a few bells up. 😦
glitch
Peh. I am hoping to do a bit of duplicate stitch magic at the end and hope it works!

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);
yarn
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.
bell
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!
bells
But did I mention, pretty? Look at those little nubbies! So cute.

Sakura

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.
Sakura1
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!
creased
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.
seam
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.
nightingale
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…
colour
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!

Opinion time

Dear all,

After my post I made a journey to Islington to the LYS there, Loop, to pick up The Bird Collection book mentioned in a last post (it turns out her new book – Finstickat – won’t be translated to English anytime soon, so thought I should grab the book while it was still at Loop. Things there move FAST).

My restraint slipped a bit, and though I was just supposed to get the book, here is what I came home with:
amimono
Naughtiness.

My question from the last post answered. I am going with the Robin:
Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 21.34.31

They didn’t have the yarn recommended in the pattern, though they had a sample of the Robin jumper knit up in the Spinni wool, and it was VERY itchy. I decided I would substitute with the much softer Alpaca 1. The hue is still a desaturated pink, though more magenta than the one in the picture in the book – no. 61.
alpaca1
Now the recommended yarn is a 3 ply and this is a two ply, so both are very fine knitting, though this is finer, and I knew I would be pushing it a bit with the patience factor … but thought it might be good for me. A new level, so to speak.

That is until I cast on a swatch this morning and it took me nearly an hour to knit a 5×2 inch swatch. Gulp.
alpaca1
There is the 3mm swatch of pain with a new swatch cast on with 2.5mm, as I am not at gauge.

In red below is where I have picked up not only the stitch on the needle, but that below, as I am not used to knitting with yarn this fine.detail
And it is VERY fine for me and quite splitty.
2ply
Thing is, I am wondering if I am struggling so much because of a) the fact that knitting with needles this small and yarn so fine is terrifying me, b)the yarn is just too splitty.

Here is where I need some opinions. Those of you that have knit with teeny yarns- what do you think ? Should I tough it out and try to view this as a learning curve, or am I just setting myself up for an expensive fail?

This decision is a bit time sensitive, as I want to go back tomorrow or monday and get Isager’s Highland yarn for this if I give up (before it is GONE with London’s crazy lack of physical yarn shops)…so really stressing!

Help please? What are your opinions?

FINSTICKAT

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!