Tucked in

I’ve never tended to wear tops tucked in (well, I probably tucked in my school blouses when I wore school uniform, but I think that was about it). I’m not sure why. Was it just so much the fashion when I was growing up that I never even thought about it? Did tucked-in tops remind me too much of school? Did I hope that wearing a longer top would hide my stomach? I really don’t know, but whatever the reason, I have spent most of the last 40 years wearing my tops untucked. So I’m not quite sure why I suddenly seem to have started tucking things in.

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I don’t think it looks bad, and it’s probably better with these rather shapeless blouses I bought from White Stuff in the hope that they would look smarter than t-shirts (which I think they do, though possibly not when untucked as they’re linen and wrinkle up). It’s just rather a departure from my normal look.

Green and purple, and a new necklace

I love my Lyttelton shrug. It’s a really nice shape, perfect to throw on when I want a bit more than just a dress but it’s too warm for a cardigan.

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I think that what I like about the shape is that unlike a lot of shrugs, it isn’t just a pair of sleeves without a jumper attached – you knit a few inches of the back before casting on more stitches for the sleeves, and cast off the sleeve stitches and then knit the same length again on the fronts. I’d like to knit more shrugs, because it is very wearable, but there seem to be very few patterns that have that; most are basically a rectangle with the long side seamed at the outer edges to create sleeves, and they tend to have a rather stretched look at the armpits which I don’t particularly like. Maybe I should just substitute another stitch pattern, and maybe rework the stitch counts and shaping for a different gauge, and make another Lyttelton…

I also wore my new necklace, which I bought on Saturday from Yellow Bear Wares.

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Because really, how could I resist a green and purple knitting needle necklace?

Simplicity (or maybe dullness)

I keep thinking I should get back to posting more outfit pictures, but then it’s summer and it’s hard to come up with interesting outfits when my main priority is generally staying cool. Today’s outfit is about as basic as they come, but I quite liked it anyway – it almost felt “classic”, if such a thing was possible for me. Or maybe it was just a bit dull.

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Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside

This weekend I headed down to Brighton for Unwind Brighton, a new yarn festival organised by Dani Sunshine of Lioness Arts. I was a little bit wary about this, given that my mental state hasn’t been great recently and there seemed to have been so much buzz about the festival online that I thought it might end up being really crowded, but I needn’t have worried as it felt surprisingly relaxed, and the marketplace was set out with a wide enough aisle that even though individual stalls were often crowded it was never hard to make my way around.

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It wasn’t a huge marketplace – certainly nothing like the scale of something like Woolfest or Unravel – but I thought there was a nice range of stalls, all selling lovely stuff.

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I was particularly taken with Yarn Garden‘s stall, which had a grass-green carpet and all the yarn laid out in seed trays.

I managed to spend all my yarn budget and then visited the cashpoint a second time to buy even more. These are my initial purchases, photographed as I was trying to convince myself not to get more cash out:

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There was a great programme of workshops as well, but as I’d only made the final decision to attend two weeks ago everything that really appealled to me had sold out, and I didn’t want to spend £50 on a workshop that I wasn’t really interested in, so I gave that a miss. I did attend an interesting talk on colour theory by Felicia Lo of Sweet Georgia; she discussed primary, secondary and tertiary colours and explained about hue and tone and saturation, and gave some helpful tips on selecting colours to knit with and knitting with variegated yarns. It did leave me, once again, trying to work out whether according to seasonal colour analysis I’m an autumn or a winter. (None of the tests ever make any sense to me: do your veins look blue or green under your skin? Well, mine look kind of turquoise and I’m not sure if that counts as blue or green. Do you look better in white or cream? I hate how I look in either. Do silver or gold suit you better? I have some silver jewellery, don’t like gold, but prefer brightly coloured beads to either.) Not that I think it really matters; I generally like how I look in pretty much any strong colour and dislike how I look in pale and pastel colours, and if I happen to pick an outfit that makes me look less than stellar it’s not as if anyone gets hurt by that, is it?

Of course, despite the bulging bag of yarn, I don’t go to yarn festivals for the shopping so much as for the socialising, and Unwind was brilliant for that. Wandering around the marketplace in the morning I bumped into so many people I knew, including some I was meeting in person for the first time (and who recognised me from the blog, which was just as well as I’d completely forgotten to bring a Ravelry namebadge, despite having about half a dozen scattered round the house!), and then at lunchtime I went to the podcaster meetup where I got to catch up with the lovely Louise from Caithness Craft Collective and say hello to A Playful Day, both of whom I’d met before, as well as getting to meet Martine and Charles from iMake, Jo from Shinybees and Nic from Yarns From The Plain for the first time. I was very pleased to find that they are all just as lovely in real life as they sound on their podcasts, and I managed not to be too star-struck at them.

From left to right: Jo Shinybees, Charles, Martine, A Playful Day, Rachel from The Good Yarn Guide (which I don’t listen to because it’s a video podcast and I normally listen to podcasts while travelling), Helen from Curious Handmade, Louise, Nic, and some more video podcasters: KnitRunDig (whose name I didn’t catch), and CeCe and Damaris from Geeky Girls Knit.

It was also a lovely surprise to meet Kris, who regularly comments on the blog, and who had brought Louise a bottle of Canadian whisky to try.

All in all, Unwind was a fantastic day out and if Dani decides to make it an annual thing I’d love to go again next year. It may be my favourite yarny event, because the location meant that not only did I get to have a wonderful day of yarn and friends, but I was at the SEASIDE!

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We’d decided to stay in Worthing rather than in Brighton itself, which I think was the right decision; Brighton seemed lovely, but very busy and achingly trendy, and we are quiet and middle-aged and don’t like crowds. Worthing had reasonable restaurants (we had Indian on Friday night and Thai on Saturday) which weren’t too crowded or too noisy, and we got a room in the Travelodge there which was comfortable if basic and a lot cheaper and quieter than hotels in Brighton would have been. And best of all, when I got back to Worthing at about six o’clock yesterday evening and decided to go for a walk on the beach, I practically had it to myself.

The tide was a long way out, but that was all to the good, as the bit above the tideline was all shingle, whereas further out there was sand and I took my shoes off and walked barefoot out to the edge of the water so I could paddle. You can’t beat sand beneath your feet and the sound of the waves and a salty sea breeze as a way to relax!

And another cardigan

A couple of weeks before the Lush knitalong was announced, I actually cast on for another cardigan – Katya Frankel‘s Medallion Edged Shrug. I saw this pattern on Ravelry when it wwas first published in a US magazine last year, and when it was released as a downloadable pattern earlier this year I bought it straight away, thinking it would be nice to have a lightweight cardigan for summer.

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I had a voucher for Deramores, who sell Fyberspates yarn, so actually ended up using the recommended Scrumptious laceweight for the cardigan. It only took 68g of the yarn – just under 700m. Mindful of the fit issues I had with my Featherweight Cardigan a few years ago, I made the size just smaller than my high bust measurement rather than attempting to size based on my full bust, and I’m very happy with the fit – the measurement across the back is perfect this time.

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I ended up making it longer than the pattern, mostly by misreading and thinking I was supposed to work the same number of increases after the waist as I had done decreases before. I like the longer length, though it’s probably slightly too long as the fabric bunches into the small of my back a little bit, and I wish I’d used a stretchier bind-off on the bottom ribbing as the edge is a bit tight. Also, I should probably have gone down a needle size for the sleeve ribbing as it flares out a bit. But none of these are serious problems.

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I am a bit disappointed with the lace edging, though. I blocked it carefully and it looks lovely in the pictures I took yesterday morning, but after wearing the cardigan for most of yesterday and today it’s already looking quite scrunched up and the edges are rolling, particularly where it gets caught between my arms and the side of my bust. It’s still pretty, but I think the style possibly isn’t ideal for someone with a fuller bust – I guess if I was flatter the lace would hang over my bust rather than falling to either side and getting squashed. I also think it’ll probably look better over a dress than a t-shirt, but it’s a nice light summery cardigan and absolutely perfect in the warm but not hot weather we’re having right now. I think it’s definitely worth the time it takes to make summer cardigans in laceweight, and I’m sure I’ll make more, though I probably won’t knit this pattern again.

Mysteriosa

2014 seems to be turning into the Year of the Knitalong. I already had a shawl on the go (my Nuvem) but when I heard that one of my favourite designers, Åsa Tricosa, was doing a mystery shawl knitalong, I couldn’t resist signing up – and I’m very glad I did, because the shawl is beautiful!

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I particularly love the fan pattern, which I think gives it a bit of an Art Deco vibe.

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It certainly wasn’t a mindless knit – the fan section in particular required quite a lot of concentration, but I was working on that during the week I was signed off work and it was absolutely perfect because what I really needed was mindful knitting – something that needed enough focus that my brain couldn’t wander off into a spiral of worry and self-recrimination. I remember at one point trying to knit the toe of a sock, something I could probably do in my sleep given how many socks I’ve made by now, and got so distracted by my own thoughts that I completely lost track of where I was with the decreases, but I whizzed through the fans.

It’s come out a lovely size, too – perfect for wrapping round me.

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The yarn is merino/silk fingering from The Knitting Goddess. It’s a single-ply yarn and so soft it was an utter joy to knit with. This yarn is also quite fine for a 4-ply, with 500m to 100g rather than the more usual 400m, and I have ended up with almost all of my second skein of the plum and four-fifths of the lime green left over, so I think there may be another shawl in this colour combination in my future. I do love how the colours look together, though obviously it will need to be a very different style of shawl if it’s in the same colours. Maybe something very modern and geometric?

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Perfectionism

Some time ago (late March, in fact) I cast on for Martina Behm’s Nuvem using some gorgeous cobweb silk from Solstice Yarns. I’ve been knitting away at it on and off since then, but I’m not really happy with it.

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I’ve been following the pattern directions and knitting in the round on two circular needles, which isn’t normally my preferred method. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not used to the technique, or if it’s just that the weight of the hanging spare needle is too much for such fine yarn knitted at a loose-ish gauge, but I’ve ended up with huge ladders at the joins between the needles.

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I’ve just done what I should have done ages ago, and moved the shawl from two needles to one (and have used one of the really flexible ChiaoGoo Spin cables, too), but that’s not going to do anything about the ladders that are already there. And people keep saying “oh, don’t worry, they’ll block out”, but I’m not sure they will. It’s taken me three months to knit 40g of the yarn (though admittedly I have mostly been knitting other things during that three months), but I don’t want to spend another three months knitting the rest only to end up with a shawl I’m not happy with. So I’m seriously considering ripping the whole thing out and starting again. Is that completely insane? What would you do? Can anyone show me documentary evidence of ladders that big blocking out?

Edit – so, Rachel is a genius and suggested hooking the ladders up to create an extra stitch. I wasn’t sure it would work, but I dug out a teeny-weeny crochet hook anyway, and blow me if it hasn’t worked! And I don’t think a couple of extra stitches are going to be a problem in this kind of a shawl. Thanks, Rachel, you’re a star!