Knitted treasure

Have you been following the Yarn Love Challenge on Instagram? I've been doing my best to keep up with the prompts for the last couple of months, and it's been great for sparking ideas for my daily photos and also discovering other yarn-loving people through the hashtag.

The challenge prompt for April 30th was "made for me", which gave me the idea of showing off an amazing sweater which my Mum made for me, almost 30 years ago...

That's me and my brother feeding the chooks!

I'm a big fan of the harmonious colour palette, with its brights toned down with greys and pastels. Isn't it beautiful?

The pattern is 'Outlined Star' from Kaffe Fassett's 1985 book Glorious Knitting. It's one of the gems from Mum's collection of retro knitting books which we get out now and then to marvel over. Some of the 80s books are more valuable as comedy than inspiration right now, but Glorious Knitting still stands up in my opinion! I love the photography and colours, and I'm in awe of some of the designs. If you're keen for some top-notch colourwork inspiration, you might be able to find it at your local library or second-hand bookshop. 

There are certain knitting techniques that are generally considered difficult or advanced at the moment, that weren't so much when I was growing up. This sweater incorporates two of them: stranded colourwork knit flat, and 3-colour stranding. And because Mum was comfortable with these techniques, I didn't shy away from them when I first learned to knit. Thanks Mum!

My first attempt at colourwork of any kind was an Inga Hat, which I tried to adapt for flat knitting, but got horribly confused by the braid at the brim. Later, when I'd learned to knit in the round, my first completed colourwork project was an Opus Spicatum hat in a full rainbow of colours instead of the original two - which resulted in working 3-colour (and even a few 4-colour) rounds. It was a massive challenge, but I managed to finish it with the help of online tutorials and sheer bloody-mindedness. Hooray for adventurous newbies! ;)

A tale of two sweaters

You guys, I finished a sweater... and it only took me two-and-a-bit weeks! For me, that is FAST. It was my big Ravellenics project, so I was determined to get it done before the deadline. I put my other works-in-progress aside for the two weeks and just worked on this whenever I could. Result: a new knitted garment that didn't take me several months. ;)

The pattern is Ysolda's Blank Canvas, and I used less than five skeins of Longrider DK from Madelinetosh in the 'River Water' colourway. I'm still completely in love with the speckles!

One thing I would do differently next time is to knit the sleeves on similar needles to the ones I used for the body: I used wooden double pointed needles on the lower part of the sleeves and slippery metal needles on the body, and the gauge is visibly looser on the sleeves. Ooops. 

I've been wearing it regularly for a few weeks now, and so far the only signs of wear are a few pills under the arms. I still need to block it, but I'm waiting for warmer weather so I won't be without it for long while it dries. <3

To keep my garment-knitting momentum going, I dug out an old half-finished WIP from 2014 and decreed it my new Weekend Knitting project. The pattern is Laura Aylor's Park Slope tee, and the yarn is Vintage Purls Sock in 'Across the Universe', with subtle swirls of midnight purple and blue.

I've nearly finished the ribbing at the hem, and then I'll just have the sleeve ribbing and neckline ribbing to go. And then I'll have another new top to wear, just in time for spring.

Up for a crafting challenge?

Like any popular website with a big social element, Ravelry has its own traditions and special events. One of my favourites is the Ravellenic Games, held every two years to coincide with the winter or summer Olympics.

Ravellenics participants choose one or more projects that will be a personal challenge, and try to finish before the closing ceremony. The next Games are coming up in a few weeks beginning on the 5th of August, so if this sounds like fun you still have time to pick your projects. Joining a team is optional, but definitely adds to the fun in my opinion!

Last time around I crocheted a great big rainbow blanket:

I'm still super proud of it, and it's fantastic to have a real wool lap blanket in the lounge when it gets cold.

This time, I'm going to go big again and knit a Blank Canvas sweater. It's DK-weight, with 3/4 sleeves, and using a pattern I've knit before, so it shouldn't be impossible to finish in two-and-a-bit weeks (I hope). But it will still be a stretch for me, since I usually take ages to finish a garment. My plan is to halt all design-related knitting during the Games and concentrate on making myself a new comfy jersey. :)

Swatching ahead of time is encouraged (by analogy to 'training' for an event), so I've begun my quest to get my gauge correct. This is my first swatch in Madelinetosh Longrider DK, which I need to undo and knit again on smaller needles:

Wish me luck!