Hey everyone, look at my Sheep Heid! Ooh, yes, I’m happy with this one. It’s no surprise really that Kate Davies comes up with the goods yet again with this design- it’s not as if I’m the only one who loves Owls and Manu after all. However, it still deserves to be said that she writes a damn good pattern- not just a pleasing design, but she manages to make the prospect of quite a large chunk of fairisle in 9 (!) shades of yarn not nearly so daunting with her mix of clear, well written instructions alongside touches of her own personality and humour.
The nine ‘sheepy’ shades of Jamieson & Smith yarn used were definitely part of the joy of this project. It seemed so right to be using the yarn that’s produced in the same place that the knitting style sprang from and developed. Everything from the names of the colours- gaulmogot, katmollet, mooskit, shaela, sholmit, moorit, moglet- to the springy, textured feel of the yarn made me feel connected to Shetland and its generations of craftspeople somehow, even though I’ve not been there- yet!
This wasn’t the first time I’d tackled fairisle- witness my Fyne Vest from a few years back. However, this was my first time doing it in the round- arguably the way you’re ‘meant’ to do fairisle. I did find that knitting stranded colourwork in this way felt a lot easier. For a start you can see what you’re doing all the time, rather than having the back of the work facing you on wrong side rows. It’s also easier to keep tension even- the challenge in all such colourwork projects. The other factor that improved my tensioning was using the ‘two handed’ method, where you hold one colour in the right hand and ‘throwing’ it when you knit that colour, while holding the other colour in the left hand and ‘picking’ it when you knit that colour. It didn’t feel in any way natural at first, but I found I built up speed quite quickly, and as you can see from this view of the wrong side of the work, it produces a pretty neat result.
I may have successfully got to grips with two-handed colour, but it wasn’t all plain sailing. Work went on while two small children swarmed around me, while I was a passenger in a car negotiating snowy motorways and while I was recovering from a 24 hour bug, amongst other things. However, none of those were necessarily the reason why I seemed to have to go back and frog an inordinate amount of times. Sometimes it was because I started in a wrong but very similar colour- even though I carefully made a reference sheet with scraps of each yarn matched to the colour key beforehand. Sometimes it was down to good old-fashioned miscounting the stitches, other times, who knows? On all but one occasion I went back and sorted it – the ‘stickiness’ of Shetland yarn and the use of nine different colours of yarn loses its appeal somewhat when attempting this- but when I finished the band of ewes for (I think) the third time and realised that one sheep had only half a face (see pic above, it’s the one in the middle) I decided to just leave it. I could have Swiss-darned it afterwards but in the end I’ve decided it’s my own unique little stamp on it, so it stays.
There’s a lot to love about this hat design, but one of my favourite things is the colour gradations at the crown. They really show off the beautiful colours of the yarn and the beautiful rhythm of the pattern, as this shot (right) shows.
With all the colour changes and a slight problem I had keeping the beginning of rounds even, this was a project where washing and blocking performed a particular magic. Kate Davies recommends soaking the finished tam in warm soapy water for 20 minutes before shaping, to allow the fibres to plump up and even out. It made a big difference- it was on my head more or less as soon as it dried and has been helping keep me cosy on every cold day since. Those shetland sheep know a thing or two about keeping warm!
Well, hello there and welcome to my new home on the web! Maybe you’ve found your way here from my previous haunt on Blogger, or perhaps you’re a whole new visitor. However you’ve got here, welcome, make yourself a cup of tea…
Once I’ve got to grips with it all I’m hoping these pages will look a bit better and have a few more features than my old ones, but while I’m learning, please excuse any glitches.
Note also that my progress on getting this space sorted will be hindered by my current preference for working on a new design (sneaky peek above), while BBC4′s ‘Transatlantic Sessions 5′ is on iPLayer in the background . I blame the weather, which is still too cold and too grey and makes me need to play with colour.
>I’ve had an ambition to go to an agricultural show for years and this year is the first time I’ve made it to one. Despite weather which ranged from heavy showers to to hot sun to gusty wind, we had a lovely time, seeing animals great…
and small… (we think there should be a new class for showing ‘Simultaneous Buggy and Dog Handling’)
Some lovely quilts- the circles one is my favourite and already has me thinking about a ‘big girl’s bed’ quilt for M (yes, she’s only four weeks old, but it might take me a while!).
Beeswax and honeycombs- have to show this to my sister, who has been taken on as an apprentice beekeeper at the media company she works at (it’s in London, they have a hive on the roof! And no, beekeeper is not her actual job)
And finally…my Fairisle pullover! All those months of fiddly colourwork, anguished frogging after I misread the pattern, re-knitting and then not being able to wear it because of the baby bump and finally it ends up winning first prize in ‘Garment Knitted in a Fashion Yarn’!
Okay, I know it’s not the best picture, but when I began this Fairisle tank my burgeoning bump was, well, not burgeoning at all. And now that I’ve finally finished it’s going to take a bit of careful selection from my (limited) wardrobe to stop any pictures of me wearing it looking like the side of a lumpy, woolly house!
But I am very proud of this, my first big Fairisle project. I found juggling the different colours tricky, but not as bad as I thought. I managed the tension pretty well I think. I loved seeing the pattern emerge. I hated having a million ends to weave in at the end- when will I ever learn a proper technique for working them in as I go? I’ve taken quite a few breaks for some straight up and down, look at something else while you do it projects while this has been on the needles, but even so I don’t think I’ll be doing anything as complex or large scale for a while. I feel the need for quicker and/or less brain-taxing projects for a while.
This recent blog post from Remedial Eating made me laugh, but also made me think a little bit about why I do all this crafting. There are so many reasons. Among them: it fulfills some sort of need in me that I don’t always realise I have until for some reason I can’t create anything for a while; it gives a very fidgety person something to do with her hands; it gives a very fidgety mind something to think about in quiet moments; nothing compares to the wonderful calm that is reached when you’re in the knitting zone; the satisfaction of having or giving something you know is unique. There are probably many more I could come up with, but with motherhood one ‘why’ has become even more important.
I knitted the little bear pictured before P was born, one of the few things my superstitious mind would allow me to make before his safe arrival. It’s from a Debbie Bliss pattern and a better picture and details are on my Ravelry projects page. Until recently P has not been fussed about soft toys, this one included. He’s certainly not been bothered about having them in bed with him. But since the New Year we’ve moved forward from a not-very-satisfactory sort of co-sleeping by accident situation to him sleeping in his own bed all night every night, meaning much better nights of sleep for everyone. At the same time, he has suddenly decided that Edmund Bear (named by C) is the perfect sleeping partner. It makes my heart sing when I put our little boy down for the night, or go and check on him, and that bear, made when motherhood was still a future mystery, is clutched firmly under his arm. When we go to get him up in the morning, the first thing he’ll do is point to Edmund and earnestly tell us all sorts of things about him, before dropping him firmly back into the cot- Edmund is definitely a bedtime bear, not for elsewhere. That’s a big Why.
P will probably be less appreciative of the latest project on my needles- I’m using all the leftover Felted Tweed from my Fairisle to make him a top down raglan sweater. This is partly because I’m waiting for some more of the dark blue so I can finally finish off- just the collar and armholes to do, but I ran out of yarn. It’s also partly because he needs a new sweater- and I’ll really try not to felt this one. P is a little bit too young to be that fussed about what he wears yet, but I’ll still be happy knowing that it’s my work that’s keeping him cosy.
Having been thinking about this post for a couple of days, it just happened that a couple of my favourite blogs to read: Soulemama and Sew Liberated posted today in a similar vein. Both are inspiring as ever and well worth a read.
I’ve finally got a bit motivated about restocking my Folksy shop after my pre-Christmas success. A dinky little brown betty for one now has this ‘beehive’ style cosy made from Cornish Organic wool. To join it, the slightly larger brown betty is getting a humbug striped number made from more Cornish Organic and also some Sherington Flock Hebridean Wool, bought at last year’s Woolfest to make a hat I never got around to (think I fell in love with the cute sheep more than the idea of the headgear!)
As the tea cosies can just about be managed with P running around during the day (only one ball of wool to keep out of his way) I’m keeping the evenings for the Fairisle. The latest update is, I’ve reached the armhole shaping, so I’m steeling myself for dealing with armhole shaping while working either side of the neckline separately, while maintaining the Fairisle pattern. Yikes!
What’s on your needles?
I had a ‘hang the housework’ day today when I caught up on some napping and cracked on with the sewing. Even though I’m not going down to my Ma’s for a few weeks to do the next stage, I just felt the need to get the quilt top finished and go back to working on my Fairisle in the evenings. No doubt C will be pleased as knitting is a lot quieter than the sewing machine. I think I can add 7 hours onto the previous time total to get to a result that I’m really pleased with. I can hardly wait to do the next stage- need to decide on batting and backing first. I’m thinking of a wool/cotton mixture batting and brushed cotton backing so that in winter it can be an extra layer and in summer a cover on its own.
Just one more bit of stitching I’m planning before the machine gets put away for a while- with more time at home with the boy coming up, I thought I would do something with these old shirts, a collection of toy animals and a certain well known song about a farmer. Had it not been for a phone call from a friend tonight I’d have got it done, but maybe I can fit it in around that still-waiting housework tomorrow morning. A more pressing job tomorrow is to go shopping for Seville oranges though- for until I heard someone mention it on the radio today I hadn’t realised they were about and this year I’m going to make marmalade!
We’ve had a great festive season. This included some time spent at the farm, which thanks to an impromptu blogging session you can now read about here. The festive weather continues and although there hasn’t been any snow it’s still very chilly. The pics, then, are to try and engender a cosy feeling. We found this pattern book when tidying up today- I made the men’s sweater for him indoors a few years back (minus the bobbles!) and in pure wool it’s a warm up and a workout in one to wear! Meanwhile, I’m back on the Fairisle again, having forgiven myself for the misread pattern debacle.