Wednesday, 20 April 2016

And they are done

They don’t feel, well, nice.  In true ‘Princess and the Pea’ fashion, I can feel of the change from the purl side to the knit side on the side of my feet (a good portion of the top of the foot is all purled) and I don’t like it.  

The few rows of twisted ribbing at the top are a little loose but then the swirling twisted ribbing pattern on the leg is too tight.  It’s a real effort to get these over my heel, though once on the heel sits beautifully.

The swoops and swirls of the pattern is attractive, and the yarn over holes are stacked in neat columns.  The pattern is well written, cleanly laid out and the charts are large.  The pdf pattern does take a number of pages (4 pages of charts alone) but there is no need to print everything – I discarded the pretty pictures, the information about abbreviations and the like.

But now these socks are looking for a new home.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

There's something about habits

I am normally a toe up sock knitter, with a fish lipskiss heel or another kind of one needle, no real gusset heel.  I knit these socks on the tube, or on the go, so it’s helpful to do it in a similar way each time.  I know precisely how long to make the foot before the heel for both me and Geoff to end up with well fitting socks.  But then, you see a pattern, and you are intrigued, and you’ve clicked ‘buy now’ on Ravelry without much thought.

Or so it went with the Vanessa Antiopa socks by Hunter Hammersen.  The twisted stitches are so neat, so defined.  Then I discovered the sock was cuff down, which is patently obvious on the Ravelry pattern page.  So perhaps that explains why the pattern was purchased in September 2013, and not cast on until April 2016?

I’ve now cast on, using some lovely Bergere de France Goomy 50 in the ‘Imprim Jaune’ colourway, which sounds very fancy but means ‘printed yellow’.  It’s a 75/25 wool/nylon blend (standard) but it feels softer than the Regia or Opal equivalents, and less compact.  It’s a ‘faux isle’ yarn, so it’s self-patterning, but it’s subtle.  The colour differences between the various yellows are gentle and the speckled section is narrower and less frequent than the yellows.

All of this to say that I am not particularly enjoying the knitting, and I think it’s because this is cuff down.  It’s not a natural flow – I have to check the pattern regularly as I move through each section.  I’m also not entirely sure about how long the cuff should have been before I started the heel flap, or how long the heel flap should be.  I am confident that I should start the toe 1 ½ inches before the full length of my foot – though having committed to that I am now equally sure that it will be wrong!

I have taken to bribing myself and knitting the socks in tandem to be sure that I finish a pair!  Yesterday the bargain was that I could cast on a new project once I knit both heel flaps, and I’ve now reached that goal.  The next stage will be heel turn plus stitches picked up for the foot, though I haven’t decided on the reward.  Jasmin, of the Knitmore Girls fame, has been trying something more pavlovian.  She’s been eating cake and then knitting something that she’s not enjoying (twisted rib I believe was the last one) and it seems to be working for her. 

My reward for now is the delicious texture of the socks, and the feel of the yarn.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

An ode to wollmeise

Wollmeise.  That name triggers all sorts of robust discussions amongst yarn lovers.  Cottony, dry, tight, smooth, saturated.  My feelings are those akin to true love.  I adore the tightly twisted hanks that could double as a ‘blunt instrument’ if self-defence was required (and it may be among the other Wollmeise lovers).  I enjoy the feeling of knitting with the dry wool and I adore the smooth finished objects, pill resistant and appearing as good as new years later.

I knitted myself a raglan cardigan, v-neck, in the deliciously dark navy (‘admiral’) back in 2013 and it is still as deliciously polished as it was when finished.  2 skeins and I have a perfectly transeasonal neutral garment that looks great as work wear over higher waisted skirts and is just the thing over a dress.  I would adore another in one of the deep, dark greys.

1.8 skeins of the 'pure' 4ply

I have knit some other garments for myself in the same yarn, though those are no longer in my possession – a whisper (even older, and finally gave in after some mending), a boardwalk (not terribly useful in the weather in the city I now call home), a candelia with rear pleats rather than a peplum (not my style, but terribly fun to knit).  I’ve also knit a pair of Manolo socks, and oh, the stitch definition of the twisted stitches.   

Just over 300m in the colourway 'Babe'

However, there is a subset of Wollmeise that I’ve never been able to love in quite the same way – the intesenly variegated skeins.  The twist is still lovely, and the colours so beautifully saturated but the differences between the colour is so significant, and almost overwhelming.  It’s difficult to know what to do with them in a way that will please my aesthetic. 

However, I think the answer may be weaving as it seems to spread the colours out, and the way the yarn has been dyed there are options to play with the colour repeats to create gradients, tartans and all manner of effects.  The most successful projects (again, to my taste) are those that have warped on using a crazy skein (that is the long threads in a woven scarf) and then used a plain colour complementing the crazy.  Geoff was kind enough to weave me a scarf, using a multi hued wollmeise (verhext and verratzt) and a pale purple lace weight, which fades into the colours. In woven form, the bright pink plays beautifully with the slightly purpley greys and the overall effect is charming.

The beautiful woven fabric

I used the remaining 60grams to knit a pair of socks and the difference is quite fascinating.  What appears as long swathes of colour is only a few stitches in knitting, and the striping and colour change effect is much more pronounced.  The pink seems brighter, and the grey more distinct in knitted fabric. 

I think I will be sticking to the mostly solid Twin yarn, but for those keen on the idea of weaving I encourage you to join Wollmeiseholics Anonymous and delight in the thread called 'weaving with wollmesise'.

Friday, 1 April 2016

To Handweavers we must go

Geoff, Lucia and I made a trip to Seven Sisters to go to the Handweaver's Gallery and Studio.  Mostly to buy some cotton for Geoff, but a good opportunity for Lucia and I to explore a different wool shop in London.  

'Wool' shop is absolutely not the right word to use - the array of different fibres was eye-popping.  In the back of the shop there were bags, and tubs of fibres coming from different sheep breeds, different varieties of alpaca and also silk, cashmere and other heavenly soft things. 

The main part of the shop is divided by book shelves, and offers amazing colours of yarn in many different fibre blends - including some seriously shiny cottons which were mesmerising. 

The 'gallery' aspect was the show of felted animal masks and figuerines, and my favourite was this beautiful blue and white bird mask. 

The sharp deliniation of the blue around the eyes and nose is lovely, but the I find the blending of the white into blue at the top truly lovely.

This is a shop which can be quite intimidating at first blush, the price tags are confusing (with prices, and amounts of yarn, expressed in weight rather than per cone, or per spool as you may expect) and you should expect to do some maths to work out how much yarn you are getting (the price tag lists the metres per kilogram).  However, the range of colours and fibres is unparalleled in London - the mesmerisingly shiny cotton being my favourite in the shop, though not the yarn that I bought!

I purchased 4 of the small 25 gram spools of merino/tencel - 1 black, 2 mid grey and 1 pale grey to make a cowl that I can wear with my brighter (aka pink) clothes.