Saturday, 12 December 2015

Knitmas

This is a bit slow in the writing but last week, we had a Knitmas event at A Good Yarn.


Kate and Ruth from Practical Publishing came for the evening to give a talk. There was games, food and fun.



Kate Heppell is the editor of Knit Now magazine and her talk was on the process of making a design from inception to publication in the magazine. It was very interesting and they brought lots of lovely samples to show us.



We had a prize draw and a couple of competitions – how many stitches can you cast on in a minute and how many rows can you knit blindfolded in two. Lots of hilarity ensued as you can imagine.





We’d prepared lots of knitting kits and many of them had a Christmas theme.




There’s an advent calendar in the shop for customers this month. The first customer that spends the first £10 of the day gets to open the calendar. I had a peek – the prizes are good.


The window display this year is pretty cool. Everyone contributed green strips and Carolyn and Kate have produced the most wonderful Christmas Tree.


I am knitting lots at the moment but they are all for Christmas presents, so I can’t share them with you yet. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Review: Chiaogoo Twist Set

This is a review I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time but I’m glad that I waited as I’ve really given them a good test drive and recently discovered something new.
I bought a the full Chiaogoo Twist set over 2 years ago now.

Here are the pictures when I just bought it.

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You get plenty included in the set – you get the longer length needles from 2.75mm to 10mm (3.00mm, 7mm & 7.5mm are not included), 6 cables (3 different lengths in the large and small), 2 keys, needle gauge, cable connector, stops for large and small and stitch markers.
I ended up buying the missing sizes and the case has a second layer of pockets, so you can put spare needles in there. I have also bought duplicates in 3.00mm and 4.5mm, as they seem to be sizes I use a lot.

I have never used the stitch markers as they look too bulky for my liking.

One of the main differences with the Chiaogoo compared to other interchangeable brands is the different thicknesses of the cables. Up to and including 5.00mm then you use the small cables and above that then the large cables are used. In the kit, there are 3 different lengths for both the large and small – 14”/35cm, 22”/55cm and 30”/75cm. The needle tips add about 10”/25cm to the length. They work out to be about 24”/60cm, 32”/80cm and 40”/100cm lengths. I think the difference thicknesses allow the needle to taper to the cable more gently and perhaps to allow for a greater range of needle sizes. Having a 2.75mm interchangeable is nice.

There are shorter tips available in this range too. Used with the shortest cable, then they work great for hats.

The case is zipped around the outside and I’ve worked out the hard way to always zip it up; or you get needles everywhere! There’s also a pocket on the outside to keep the cables in. I end up putting bits inside the case too – there’s plenty of room. As you can see from this photo, the effect of 2 years of use.

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My first impression was I liked the stiffer cables as they didn’t kink and the stiffness makes the needle tips feel a little longer, which was something I noticed the first time I used interchangeables. The needles are hollow, so in the larger sizes particularly,  they feel quite light which is better than trying to battle with big and heavy tips. They don’t have a super smoother texture, there’s a very, very fine anodised texture to it. I think this makes the stitches hold a little more to the needle. It makes a swishy noise and you can feel it a little when you knit with it. Initially, I really didn’t like this and thought I might have made a mistake with the needles, but I quickly came about to like the sensation of knitting with them.

They have lovely points to them and they are quick and pleasant to work with.

One big benefit is the sizing labels on the needles and cables. The sizing is written clearly on both the needles and the cables, with a lot of brands the numbers rub off very quickly. After 2 years of constant use, all the sizing labels are unchanged – they look the same as the day I bought the kit. The needle sizer that is included in the kit has never been used – it’s a bit of a pointless extra!

They quickly became the only kind of needles I loved to work with. The only downside to them was magic loop. Some people say they are impossible to use. They’re not. You just have to have a longer cable than perhaps you’d normally use. Saying that I haven’t been thrilled with the effect, the red wires have such a strong memory, they push on the join between the knitting. I would overcompensate and pull it tighter as I passed the join making a column of tighter stitches. If you really concentrate on your knitting tension at the join, then you can get it so it doesn’t show.  

Here comes my recent discovery though. At Yarndale, my friend bought some Spin cables – these are the cables that belong to the bamboo version of the Chiaogoo needles. They are completely interchangeable with the Twist.  I wasn’t paying attention at the time and didn’t realise the significance and didn’t buy any.

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Afterwards, she showed me why she bought them. They are clear plastic cables and very supple. They do not have the strong memory the twist cables have and the cables also “spin” around in the seat of the needle, which is another huge plus.

I quickly bought a full set of the cables and have worked a couple of magic loop projects with them. They work perfectly - no runs or tight stitches. They are just the job for magic loop.
So the only downside I had with the needles has a solution.

They are on the pricey side but I’ve had them 2 years and they don’t show any wear. They work great for lace knitting as the texture holds the fine yarn to the needle and equally great for all other types of knitting.

They do come in half sets too, so if you tend to work with fine yarn a lot then it might be wise to just get the small set or if you’re a chunky yarn fan, then get the large set.

I must say I have always had a preference to metal needles, so I might be biased towards them. Why not buy a pair and see if you like them too? Give them time though because they took a little while to grow on me.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Parcel

Very good friends of mine have just had a second child. Mr and I are going to be godparents.

I’ve been knitting away all year on and off little baby things. The first baby had a big parcel of knitted clothes, so I’ve been trying to match it this time.

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There isn’t quite as many things as last time but I have been enjoying making them.

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I didn’t know until quite late on, whether it was a boy or girl, so I do have quite a few girls knits squirreled away. Luckily I know someone who is expecting a girl in the new year, so she’ll get quite a few too.

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I love the colour combination of them all together. The colour of the peach one in Mr’s opinion isn’t masculine enough but well I thought it was fine, so it’s gone in the parcel.

There are two wee envelopes by Ysolda in the parcel. One of them I blogged about here.

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The other I made recently.

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The green one is Hygge from Loop, London and I was playing a bit of yarn chicken with this one. I only had one ball and it was only just enough.

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Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool Worsted in grasshopper

This one was my favourite. I just love the yarn with this pattern. It’s a Bergere de France pattern. I bought it in the Creations 2013/14 book but you can get it as a single pattern.

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There a literally loads more photos of this on my Ravelry project page.

This one is the cutest.

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I loved them all and hopefully baby will too.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Antipodes

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I have a new favourite shawl. The pattern is Antipodes by Libby Jonson aka Truly Myrtle. Ravelry project page. Libby has some really lovely patterns – I really like her style and all the patterns all seem very wearable to me. Check them out

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The pattern was a pleasure to knit from start to finish. It’s worked from point to point, so you just increase until just under half of your yarn has been used then decrease to the point. It’s great for getting the most out of one skein of 4 ply.

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I used Titus 4 ply in Harvest Gold by Eden Cottage Yarns. Looking at my past blog posts, I bought it at Woolfest all the way back in 2012. I’d been saving it for just the right project. I’m very happy I used it for this and the colour is just so rich.

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The skein I used was quite generous at 110g, so I was able to work 29 repeats of the main part of the pattern.

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I really love this and have been wearing it lots.

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Friday, 30 October 2015

Holly and the Wee Mouse

I bought (among many other things) a kit from Sue Stratford at Yarndale. She has many gorgeous and sweet kits. I got the Chunky Holly kit.

I quickly got started and after only a couple of nights work. I have a fabulous chunky holly.

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And if you can see her hiding behind the berries, a wee little mouse.

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All the materials are included in the kit. The little mouse is made from angora, so she is lovely and fluffy.

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One interesting surprise was because of the sewing down the centre of the stuffed leaf, it’s mouldable. The leaves stay in the position that you put them in.

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There’s a range of other Christmas based kits too. Including a chunky robin and a Christmas tree tea cosy. If you’re based around Cleethorpes, then you can get your own kit from A Good Yarn or if you are elsewhere in the world, then you can get them directly from Sue Stratford at the Knitting Hut

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It has quite an interesting construction that makes them look so good with the centre and side veins. The berries are a bit glittery too. I’m planning on mine having a home centre stage above my mirror in my lounge over the Christmas period.

That’s one project I’ve finished recently. There are literally dozens of others that I haven’t shared but I hope to, so wait for the next instalment.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Yarndale 2015

I’m very sorry for the radio silence over the summer but my workload was very high and something had to give. Unfortunately for you guys, it was the blog. I’m going to try and get back into the groove of blogging. I want to try and blog weekly like I’ve done for the past few years but have a feeling that it may not happen as often as I like.

I’ve done lots of knitting and even a bit of crochet. The camera has been out lots and I’ve been sharing a few bits on Instagram. I’m @hardybarn on there and please follow me, if you’d like to.

I meant to do this blog last week but there was a bit of procastinating going on. Some friends and I hired a cottage near Skipton for Yarndale weekend. I must say it was rather fab having a knitting weekend.

Yarndale was as good as ever. The sun was shining and I’ve been saving up all year, so I had plenty of pennies to spend.

There was too much fun and chatting going on for me to remember to take photos, but here’s my haul.

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I bought Coopknits Socks Volume 2 and the latest Pom Pom magazine.

I bought 2 project bags, one from Jem Weston (who does some great workshops at A Good Yarn, as well as a talented designer) and a Coopknits one.

I topped up on needles and bought some tags that were cute, to add to finished knitting gifts.

There was a ridiculous amount of buttons from Textile Garden and I’m not talking about that one!

I bought some mini skeins from Knitting Goddess and some sock yarn from easyknits to make Otis from the Coopknits sock book.

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There’s a lovely cone of cobalt blue Lithuanian linen from Midwinter Yarns, which is destined for a large shawl.

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The rest of the yarn was from Triskelion Yarns. The colours in this brand really appeal to my taste and I could honestly have bought the entire lot.

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The grey is Dylan 4 ply which is 50% de-haired yak and 50% silk. It’s heavenly soft and is destined for a shawl of my own design that I’m working on for my City and Guilds Level 3 course.

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On the Sunday, we had a trip to Clapham and Beckside Yarns to see the lovely Sandra. I might have bought more yarn….

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She stocks Kauni, which is something I’ve seen a lot of but never seen it stocked in a bricks and mortar shop. So a couple of skeins of that came home with me.

Beckside Yarn is in a beautiful place and we were lucky enough to be able to sit outside in the sunshine with a coffee.

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Thursday, 11 June 2015

Photo Tutorial: How to Improve the Loose Knit Stitch Before a Purl

When working ribbing, ever had that loose knit stitch before you change to purl? It’s a common problem. The reason it does it this is because the way a purl stitch is worked, it uses a little bit more yarn than a knit stitch and the excess moves into the last knit stitch and makes it loose. It’s the same reason why rowing out can happen for some – when you’re working stocking stitch and your purl rows look bigger than your knit rows. Rowing out doesn’t always happen, it’s often a combination of yarn fibre, tension and knitting technique.

There is a way around this and there are quite a few tutorials out there on how to fix this. I’ll show you how in a minute but the basic idea is that if you combination purl that first purl stitch after your knit stitch, it will tighten things up.

A normal purl involves wrapping the yarn anti-clockwise around the needle and a combination is wrapping the yarn clockwise. This uses less yarn though it does mean the stitch sits on the needle backwards, so you have to remember to work into the back of the stitch on the next row/round.

Tension does have an effect on whether you have a loose knit stitch in the first place. I find since I tend towards being a tight knitter then I don’t always have this issue, which is a bit of a problem when you try and do it intentionally for a tutorial!

The question I had about this technique is what do you do on the next row afterwards. Do you just work normally and work into the back of the stitch or do you repeat the technique or what happens if you work all the purl stitches this way?

I’d decided that when I worked in the round then it made sense to repeat the combination purl into the back of the stitch every row but what if I’m working back and forth. So what I did was repeated the same knitting swatch for each variation to see which one I preferred the look of. Just bear in mind this is what happens with my knitting technique and this particular yarn. You may want to repeat this for yourself and see which you prefer.

I found that when I was doing the cuffs of the Esquel poncho and I was working at a loose tension and the knit stitches were looking messy, so I used the large needles and that yarn to do my testing.

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What I decided from this was the combination purl on the first purl on both the RS and WS rows was the neatest option (bottom left). The combination purl on all the stitches on both sides was pretty neat too but I found it opened up the first knit stitch of the column instead.

I found that working the combination purl every other row (whether on all the stitches or just the first one) made for a messy purl column.

So from now on I’m going to make sure I combination purl just on the first stitch but on both right side and wrong side rows. The winner….

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So I’ll show how to do it now.

1. When you get to the first purl stitch after a knit stitch, insert the needle into the stitch as if to purl.

This is what you do the first time you do this - on all successive purl rows the stitch will be seated on the needle backwards, so insert the needle into the stitch as if to purl backwards (so from the back and left to right – sorry forgot to photograph that bit)

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2. Wrap the yarn around the stitch clockwise (instead of anti-clockwise as for a normal purl) and work the stitch.

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3. On the wrong side (WS), we want to mirror what we did on the right side. When you get to the last knit stitch before you change to purl, the stitch will be sitting  backwards on the needle. The column of stitches on the reverse will open up with this technique but better on the wrong side than on the front of your work.

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4. Insert your needle into the stitch as if you were going to knit into the back of the stitch.

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5. Knit the stitch but wrap the yarn clockwise around the needle and work the stitch. This stitch just worked will be sitting backwards on the needle.

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Just repeat this every time you come to this section in your knitting. The stitch will be sat backwards on the needle every time you come to it and hopefully remind you to knit or purl it by wrapping your yarn clockwise around the needle. If you forget to do it then pop a stitch marker in to remind you.

I’m working on this lovely pink aran coat at the moment and the technique is working well to make the transition from knit to purl neat and tidy.



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