Saturday, 30 July 2011

Knitted Jacket

So I've been posting and posting on the subject of crochet, and you've been waiting patiently for me to knit something (or even to sew something, but that has to wait for another month to pass, probably!)

In the background, though, I've been steadily working away for the past several months on the Violetta cardigan. In fact, I haven't blogged in the last ten days as I was focusing on completing it:

This was the second cardigan pattern I made from Yarn Forward (now Knit) magazine and after encountering pattern errors in both, I will hesitate before tackling another large project from that source. (The first one was the Apple Strudel.)

For this jacket, I corrected for inadequate decrease instructions (decrease lines are uneven in the back piece owing to this), incorrect sleeve cuff and pocket lining instructions, errors in the button band instructions (that was minor though, about the identification of WS when RS was actually involved). Even the half-linen stitch pattern defined at the pattern start is incorrect. And worse, the errata on the Knit magazine Rav group are still incorrect, in spite of sending them a message to draw this to their attention.

As ever, I noted the various pattern errors on my Rav project page, so if you want to tackle this one, you know where to look.

I made it using Amy Butler Belle organic yarn, which was a dream to handle and knit with. But it is pricey, and I'm sure the yarn investment has contributed to the stress of making it, as I didn't want to make an expensive mistake. Which I may have done, as the FO seems a bit large on me (even though I made the smallest size). I do like the vintage styling on it, though, and at least I've finished it!

I now plan to do NO KNITTING for the month of August. :-)

Sunday, 17 July 2011

On the difficulties of crocheting a granny square

In my quest to learn to crochet, I have now covered the final element in the beginner's crochet repertoire - the Granny Square.

Preliminary research very quickly indicated that a granny square should definitely NOT be your very first foray into crochet! Here's why (according to me): it is very difficult to judge which are the chain spaces to work in, until you've had some practice.

As an illustration, I'm reproducing below the photo of my initial granny square swatch, which I had to make owing to the rules of the Harry Potter Rav group. Try counting the clusters in each round (if you can!). You'll see I totally failed to produce even rounds:

On my next attempt, which was after I'd had thoroughly practised clusters, including some into chain spaces (see previous blog entry Plaited Scarf) I discovered that using different coloured yarn can help to maintain even rounds:

Traditional granny square
The same technique works for the Granny Mandala:

Granny Mandala
Then I made a Granny square with a centre heart motif:

And if you make two 9-in squares, one 6-in mandala, and a length of granny stripe, and crochet the pieces together, you end up with a bag that looks like this:

Instructions for making this bag can be found on Ravelry (note: Rav log-in may be required). To make mine, I used a 4mm hook and ggh Tavira aran yarn in plum, pale pink, white and burgundy.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

A handbag for summer

After muttering to dh about wanting a new handbag for the summer, I have now used my new crochet skills to make one:

The pattern was from a library book called Easy Crochet Bags. But take care: there are errors in the printed version, and I have not fixed them all in the FO - the dark green stripe should have been two more rows. I noted the pattern errors on my Ravelry project page, which you'll be able to find without too much trouble if you search on Rav for "Summer Stripes Bag".

I made this using Rico essential cotton dk and a 4mm hook. The bamboo handles I bought off ebay - I had to buy two pairs, as the first ones were too big - the perils of online shopping! But at least I have another pair of handles in my stash, should I want to make another bag in future.

I sewed a lining for the bag, using a layer of interlining as well as cotton fabric, to give it more structure. Here's a view of the inside:

I took that photo before I replaced the too-big handles, and also, I since sewed up the side seams about 2 ins further, as I found my bag gaped a little.

Overall I am happy, and the proof of success is that I have actually taken it out of the house.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

In the garden

We have a lot of shrubs and herbs with foliage in our garden, but relatively few flowers. But we now have geraniums flowering on our patio.


Everything has grown wonderfully since I first posted about that pot.

Our clematis is also producing a fantastic display of flowers this summer:

Inevitably, we are also attempting to grow a few crops. There are plenty of beans coming:

After lifting the early potato harvest, ds's pumpkin plant has now been planted in our raised vegetable bed:

It has plenty of flowers so hopefully we will get something to use at Hallowe'en, although in previous years, our home-grown pumpkins have been too small to make an effective jack'o'lantern.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Lincoln visit

Back in January, I declared an intention to see Katherine Swynford's grave. Today, ds and I fulfilled that ambition.

It was a teacher training day, so the school was closed. We took advantage of the free time to catch the train to Lincoln - we have a family railcard now, so this is a cheap option. Here's our trip in pictures for your enjoyment:

View of Lincoln and cathedral. 
From the shiny wet road surfaces in the photo above, you'll see we had to contend with English summer weather, which today was disposed to showers.

Inside the cathedral
Inside the cathedral were rather splendid stained glass windows, a 12th century font, and below the Main Attraction, as far as I was concerned:

The tomb of Katherine Swynford, d. 1403, and her daughter, Joan Beaufort. 
It wasn't all rain, and so we were able to enjoy wandering about the cobbled streets, and be entertained by various musicians:

We ate lunch out in a pizza restaurant.

After that we went to Lincoln castle, where we walked on the fortified walls, visited the Victorian prison (pictured in the background below) and saw the Lincoln Magna Carta (strictly no photography allowed! It dates from 1217)

On the way back to the station, I even got to visit a yarn shop - Spins and Needles on Clasketgate. They have a lovely selection of yarns, including Colinette, Noro, Louisa Harding, Araucania, and Millia mia. However, having spent a small fortune on dd's prom outfit lately, I restrained myself to two balls of Crystal Palace Mini Mochi and a small bottle of Eucalan. This means I will have to go back, when finances allow.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Plaited scarf

I finished this over the weekend:

This is the Rapunzel scarf from a pattern out of Inside Crochet no. 16. I substituted a 4.5mm hook and King Cole Riot yarn. I used about 1.25 skeins in two colourways.

Nice easy pattern to make, but I'm not sure the finished scarf will stand up to washing! The plaits seem quite delicate, even though I have tacked them together at most of the three-way join points.

It is rather pretty though. Dd has admired it, so perhaps she will snaffle it, come the Autumn.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Weekend treats

It was ds's school summer fete yesterday, and in the the evening, dh fired up our barbecue so our dinner involved very little work by me. Ds also helped me make this dessert, which used the blackcurrants from this week's organic box.

The blackberries and pastry case came from Marks & Spencers, and the custard used as base was out of a tub, too!

Today we went out for lunch to Hardwick Hall, a National Trust location only about an hour from us. Here's ds with some splendid delphiniums in the garden there:

After last weekend's cooking and entertaining marathon, I appreciated a rather lazy time.

Hope the sun is also smiling on you, dear reader.