Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Happy Birthday to me! :)

While I was at the 'Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show' last year, I bought myself a Colinette 'Perugino Throw Kit' in the beautiful 'Stillwater' colourway from Sarah Durrant's stand. Sadly, the kit has been left languishing in my stash for the best part of a year, patiently awaiting its turn to fulfil its destiny.

Well, the long wait is finally over...

Isn't it going well! :) And I only have just over one pattern repeat to go before it is finished now. I was worried for a while that the 'Tagliatelli' yarn was going to run out just before the end as it was disappearing at a faster rate than the other yarns, but I'm pretty sure now that there will be enough to make the throw the length I want it to be. :)

I'm actually so happy with the way this throw is turning out that I went ahead and bought this from Sarah Durrant's Colinette stand at the recent 'Craft & Quilt Fair' at Darling Harbour...

Yes, it's a second Colinette 'Perugino Throw Kit', only this time in the 'Skylark' colourway as I thought two identical throws would be a bit boring ;), and both of these colourways will look fabulous with our dark blue lounge.

Working on the throw hasn't been all joy, though. Katherine was somewhat annoyed that my procrastination over how best to proceed with her 'Skull Vest' had left it unstarted despite the increasingly cold weather, and that another project had now been started ahead of it. And as usual she wasn't afraid to let me know exactly how she felt about the situation. So when the constant cry of "Where's my vest?" became too much, I headed back to Rubi & Lana's in search of a little additional yarn, mostly so I could continue swatching without running the risk of not having enough yarn left to actually knit the vest.

I quickly found the yarn on the shelf, but discovered that the yarn I was sold as an 8 ply has now been labelled as a 5 ply. In hindsight, I guess I shouldn't have been totally surprised by this, as I did have problems initially getting the yarn to knit to a standard 8 ply tension. Undaunted by this turn of events, I decided to check out the 'Rubi & Lana' yarn which has now been labelled as the 8 ply as I quite like the quality of the wool Paula chose for her brand, but unfortunately I wasn't able to get both black and white in that weight of yarn.

What to do? What to do?

As the patterns I'm adapting to get the type of vest that Katherine actually wants are from these two Jo Sharp books...

... the obvious thing to do to make things as easy as possible was just to switch to Jo Sharp DK Wool for the vest. It seemed like the easy option when the thought first entered my head. Rubi & Lana's -- where I was still standing at the time, after all -- stocks Jo Sharp DK Wool. Pretty much any LYS in Sydney stocks Jo Sharp DK Wool. How hard could it possibly be to get some black and some white Jo Sharp DK Wool at lunch time on a Saturday?

Harder than you might think!

Rubi & Lana's were out of stock of both the black and the white. *sigh*

So I rang the Turramurra Drapery. They had white Jo Sharp DK Wool, but none of the black. Plus they would be closing shortly.

OK... So I'll try the Hornsby Wool & Craft Nook, I thought. They had plenty of the black available, but were out of stock of the white. Not my day obviously. At least they weren't closing for several hours though.

My best hope of getting the yarn I desperately wanted was going to be to try to get to the Turramurra Drapery before closing time, and then to head on to Hornsby. So that's what I ended up doing.

And here is the end result of all my driving around...

Woohoo! :)

Actually, I may have panicked a bit when I was trying to decide how many skeins of each colour to buy. I suspect at the end of the day there may well be a 'Skull Hat' or two made with the leftover wool.

When I got the yarn home, I started re-knitting the swatches -- it's important to maintain the momentum with projects like this, after all, and after all that running around I was definitely motivated. The fabric of the plain black stocking stitch tension square turned out quite a bit firmer, and a much better weight for the vest I think...

This was the easy part. The real test, of course, would be the fairisle skull pattern swatch I've been avoiding tackling again since the original one turned out to not be all I'd hoped it would be. With much gritting of teeth, I dove in and started work on the new swatch.

Well, it's amazing what you can suddenly discover when you work on something after a bit of a break. I'd read in a few places that it is important to always strand the colours so that one of the colours is always the one stranded above the other colour, which I thought I'd been doing by always having the white yarn in front of the black yarn on the hand I use to hold the yarn. As it turns out, the way I make my stitches results in the strands reversing position on the purl rows if the yarn is held with the same colour in front all the time. So I'm now swapping the position of the yarns around on the hand I hold the yarn with at the end of each row, and the yarn is stranding correctly across the back of the knitting.

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, black and white really isn't the best colour choice for a first attempt at fairisle. I'm fairly certain that the stranding problem would have been much more obvious if I'd been working with almost any other colour combination. As it is, the black strands are more or less invisible against the predominantly black background, so it just wasn't immediately obvious that the strands were around the opposite way on the purl rows.

I'm also following the advice I was given by a few people and using both strands to work the edge stitches, which appears to have helped resolve the loose stitch problem I was having.

And here is the final swatch...

I think the most obvious improvement is that the small diamond pattern no longer has a strong resemblance to chicken foot prints ;) -- something that was definitely caused by the alternation of the positioning of the strands on the back. The skulls are also a better shape, and, even more surprisingly, the tension of the blocked swatch now appears to be correct, helped no doubt by the large amount of black in the design.

By the way, the little plastic gadget in the photos is a yarn guide, and has proved to be a sanity saver for me while I've been negotiating the rather steep learning curve of this project, as it keeps the two strands in their correct positions on the hand holding the yarn -- using the two handed method really was never going to be for me.

Time to finally move on to knitting the actual vest.

The vest I'm knitting for Katherine is based on the 'Devon' vest from Jo Sharp's 'Gathering' book, but will be a bit longer in the body and will have the armholes made deeper as Katherine intends to wear her vest over a blouse with very puffy short sleeves. The v-neck is being replaced with one similar to the one from the '1950s V-neck Sweater' in the new 'Knit' Issue 1 book, as Katherine wants a deeper V for the neckline of her vest.

As you can see, the back of the vest is progressing well so far...

Maybe too well, as the time to start work on the scary fairisle front of the vest is approaching way too fast.

As for the original yarn I bought... It looks like either Katherine or Amanda may eventually score themselves a 'Skull Scarf', as I think the drape of the fabric I was getting from the 'Rubi & Lana' wool will work well for a scarf. I doubt I'll be in too much of a rush to knit this though, as fairisle really isn't something I'm enjoying doing. Maybe the scarf will end up simply being striped at the end of the day... ;)

There is one other project I've started recently. It's the 'Basic Black Shawl' from Cheryl Oberle's 'Folk Shawl' book, although I'm substituting ink navy Colourmart lambswool and angora blend laceweight yarn used double for the original black wool.

I haven't knit very much of it so far, but hopefully the final shawl will look something like this...

Today is my birthday, and while I was taking the photos for this entry my two girls came home with a treat for me...

And here is my haul of presents...

I've really been spoiled this year, haven't I! :)

Earlier this month, I had big plans to be part of the WWKIP event at the Sidewalk Cafe near the Sydney Opera House. I actually started knitting my 'Perugino Throw' a few days before as I thought it would be an ideal project to keep me warm while I was knitting it if the weather was cold on the day. I even had everything packed and ready to go the night before -- almost unprecedented preparation for me, as I'm generally more of a throw things together at the last minute kind of person. As it turned out, this was as close as I got to participating in WWKIP Day this year...

... as unfortunately for me, I woke up with a migraine and ended up spending the day hiding from any source of light.

Next time for sure, though! :)

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At 5:05 am, June 28, 2006, Blogger emy said...

Happy Birthday!

It's amazing how we don't have any Jo Sharp yarn here in Singapore even though we are so close to Australia! :)

At 9:56 am, June 28, 2006, Blogger Donna said...

Happy Birthday! :)

Random Knits

At 10:12 am, June 28, 2006, Blogger amanda j said...

Happy Birthday to you! That vest is going to look amazing. And your throw looks so warm and cozy.

At 10:18 am, June 28, 2006, Blogger JulieB said...

Happy birthday! That fair isle is looking really good now. I want one of those yarn guides.

At 2:54 pm, June 28, 2006, Blogger Kate said...

Happy Birthday from me too - it all looks very productive and I love the Colinette shawl. Isn't it amazing the lengths we go to and the distances we travel to get 'just'the right yarn/pattern/haberdashery device!


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