Being Frank…

Accepting my failings

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Unravelling: A touch of figure awareness and a bit of a review

I have to report that I have failed in my 12 in 12 challenge, and I’m not sad about it. In total I managed 11.5 jumpers/cardigans of which 10.5 were for me. But at the end of the year there are only 9 finished objects or at least 9 finished objects still standing.

Over the last year I have managed to knit things from stash – I can give that a big tick as I’ve had very few yarn purchases during the year and the 2 main ones were absolute bargains from the Ally Pally Show.

I have also knitted things in colours that suit my colouring…but that was down to more careful yarn buying since may 2010.

My third criteria was to try and choose things that suit my figure, so close fitting/tailored rather than big baggy jumpers, 4ply rather than chunky (chunky yarn REALLY draws attention to the larger parts of ones figure !) and to knit a size that fits, altering the pattern to improve the fit.

I’ve also been altering them after wearing to make them fit better…and taking time over choosing buttons.

I will post individually about each top but the lighting hasn’t been good here for photographs for several days now – great weather for ducks tho’ !

  • January …..Matilda Jane – graded between sizes to deal with my small waist, big hips and bust. Have since ripped back the buttonhole band and it’s waiting reknitting to improve the fit of the buttons.
  • February… Cria – this is an awesome cardigan. Main alteration was added length plus a bigger size knit on the bottom half
  • March…The Somewhat Cowl –   hot pink and figure hugging. A real hit. Lengthen the sleeves decreased more at the waist, lengthened it and knit a larger size on the lower half. Lengthened the sleeves. Have ripped back the ribbing on the sleeves once already and am planning on doing again as it still doesn’t feel right
  • April… Ramona – more decreases at the waist and then more increases for lower half. Ripped the sleeves back after completion and reknit smaller as they were too long and too wide
  • May…The red flirt – knit pretty much as written and no alterations afterwards. Has received a lot of wear and a lot of compliments. Hated it whilst I was knitting it and thought it would look terrible, but haven’t had a moments doubt about it since I first put it on
  •  June…Kimberley. This one was knit to the end and was pretty much sewn up when I decided that it would probably never ever get worn  as it was just not my style…far too girlie…I frogged it at the start of December
  • July…Laika… This one is still waiting buttons. Can’t remember whether I altered it. Probably should alter it now as the cast off is too tight. Not been worn yet as only recently been dyed purple (was originally cream) and is still waiting buttons. Cuffs have been reknit as wasn’t happy with the length
  • August… Thermal. Wasn’t sure about this one as it’s beige. But since finding the right buttons I have grown to love it
  • September…A chunky jumper for Spider. He wears it from time to time, which I guess is an improvement on most things we make for him.
  • October…Rosebud…my first yarn purchase I couldn’t face anymore 4ply and I needed a dose of colour so I splashed out on a burgundy wool mix from John Lewis. Not yet worn I have to confess.
  • November…Snow White…this is where things started to go wrong.  I managed to knit it in 15 days flat but decided that although it was written to gauge and to size 2 x 2 rib stretched tight across my test just did nothing for my figure…almost as soon as it was finished it was frogged. Think I may have made a mistake with my sizing.
  • December… Skelf… This is the half jumper which is about to be frogged as having chosen a size too small last month  I chose a size to large this month, several sizes too large in fact.

Apart from 5 of the 12 patterns being by Ysolda Teague there doesn’t seem to be any sort of theme running through these tops which I put down to the fact I was restricted to finding patterns that I liked that suited the yarn I had in.

To be honest, although I have at least 5 tops here that I love, I can’t say that I have enjoyed this year. I don’t like knitting to deadlines and I like to knit the large things in between the small things… I probably could have managed all 12 tops if I hadn’t been led astray on at least 2 occasions by hats !

So what’s the plan for next year ?  Not sure at the moment. Knit Skelf in the correct size I guess and then take stock of what I’ve got in stash.  I suspect knitting is going to take a back seat to a few other things such as finally finishing the house off and sorting the garden out…oh and finally tackling some me sized sewing.

(will put the links to the patterns in when I finally post about them)


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FO: Matilda Jane (January)

A rare picture of me


When it comes to Ysolda Teague’s patterns I am,  a bit of a fan girl. All her knitwear looks stunning, different and is fun to knit. I love the architectural nature of the construction. HOWEVER, and this is a big however (hence the capitals) I have a sneaking suspicion, no a large suspicion that my body doesn’t love her patterns.

What looks good on Ysolda, does not look good on me as I go in and out a lot more, I look like a dork in rounded necks (which crop up quite often in her patterns, and my cleavage needs v necks)…and, and I can’t believe I am typing this but I may finally have reached the age where I have to confess that somethings are too young for me.

Take Matilda Jane. It has a lot of whimsical features such as the ribbon tie at the back, the leaf like lace pattern for the netband and the picot edging to the hem and sleeve…it is a lovely cardigan, but definitely a bit girly, a bit fairytale, a bit OTT. Well I love the OTT, theatrical nature of it, the fairytale…but I might not be able to pull it off any more…or this could all be in my mind and is all down to being sensible for the last 8 years and dressing in practical clothes that you can wipe down easily when covered with baby sick  (OK so that was mainly in the first 2 years, followed by 3 years of dealing with sticky fingers, the last 2.5 years haven’t been too bad)

Now with sewing if you are not sure over fit or style you can make a muslin, a quick and dirty mock up of what you are making. With knitting you don’t get that option because you put as much effort into the practice version as you do the finished object…well at least I can avoid making an expensive mistake even if I end up making a mistake.

Yarn:  Patons Smoothie DK in black and teal (100% acrylic)

Needles: Eventually settled on 3.75mm but it should have been 3.5mm

New:  Can’t remember…possibly the picot edging.

I started this in January but due to a lot of messing around to get gauge  it didn’t get finished until April as I put it down in frustration on the 31st January.  I’ve altered this from the pattern a lot as I couldn’t get gauge at 3.75mm, knitted half of it on 3.25mm before deciding it was too small and ripping it all back

Mods: Knitted a smaller size on 3.75mm and relying on the fact acrylic stretches to deal with any residual sizing issues. Decreased more at the waist than the patterns said. Knitted a bigger size for the hips and because I had to lengthen it to deal with a long back this gave me the length to put enough increases in to get the right number of stitches for bigger size

Like:  I actually like the picot edging

ick 011


I like the lace leaf at the neck and the ribbon ties at the back. I love my choice of buttons and the contrast of the 2 colours

ick 009


Dislikes: The fact that I managed to knit the button hole band longer than the button band and they don’t match up…and it’s not easy to reknit the button band…but mostly I dislike the fact that the ribbon at the back act likes a large arrow pointing out my more than ample posterior !002

Reserving judgement until  have reknitted the button band…and possibly lost a stone in weight…it felt strange wearing it…I felt oddly feminie for a change…and  think I like it !

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95%, oh and swatches lie

I have been wearing Manu a bit this week, no photos yet as I’m snagging.  It needs buttons that’s a minor point. I have the garter stitch cuff to sort out and there is a point where sewing the ends in has squashed the stitches a bit, again minor as is the fact that the pockets need sewing a bit more at the seams.

No the big problem is that swatches lie and it didn’t shrink in the wash as much as I hoped it would, as a result its a bit long in the back and the sleeves and the pockets are puffier than they should be BUT it did shrink as it should and a bit more horizontally and as a result it’s a bit tight round the bust !

In the meantime I have almost finished Coraline.  I am about 95% done. Last night I was 17 rows from the end. This morning at about 9.30 I realised that I had 9 more rows to go plus an i-cord bindoff and sewn button loops with only 50cm of Prima left…ooops.

Currently considering my options and wondering where I left the swatch…I have also found another couple of metres lurking in the knitting bag.

Oh and praying that this cardigan behaves the same way as the cockleshell jumper as otherwise I will be looking for a 10 year old girl who wants a lime green cardigan because this is a seriously small cardigan at the moment.

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The day I jumped off a bridge (and NaKniSweMo 2010)

I have been floating around blog land for just over 2 years now and I always find myself in awe in November when  scores of bloggers (and now twitters) try and write a novel from start to finish in a month.

This year I have been tempted to join them, in a strange sort of way, by taking part in NakniSweMo 2010 which is the knitting equivalent and involves making a jumper in a month…now this is achievable, I could turn out s jumper a month on a regular basis if it wasn’t for the fact that I frequently get sidetracked by promises, birthday presents and the need to have something portable  to knit…and although I think it’s achievable  there is no way you would get me signing up for one of those KALs that try and do a sweater a month, that is far too regimented.

I am knitting Coraline by Ysolda Teague, which has a lot in common with Manu but I’m using a thicker yarn (and it’s bamboo which hopefully will stretch after knitting.

I am, thanks to a day in bed (“I’m ill, I don’t want to do anything, anywhere with anybody) ahead of schedule. I’ve been knitting (and swatching) for 6 days now and I am over 40% of the way to a full sweater. However after a day in bed with only Radio 4 for company I was as you can imagine happy for a day in the country with my friend Wingnut geocaching.

Now the day out was sold to me as “I really need you to take photographs”. It turned out that for her 1900 cache she wanted to do one which involved abseiling off a disused railway bridge in the wilds of Leicestershire. Wingnut I should point out was one of Husbands occasional climbing partners back before we were married.

So Wingnut set up a top rope (2 points of contact, nice and safe and secure), abbed down, got the cache, signed the cache and then turned to me and said “right, you are putting it back”…I haven’t done ANY climbing since 6 months before I became a Mum…I can’t even remember how to put a harness on…but I did it, I jumped off the top of a (small) railway bridge and you know it was nice to get a wobbly scared feeling in the pit of my stomach which had nothing to do with work, government cuts or the fact that in the eyes of Warwick County Court I am a Defendant in a trespass case…

It’s very easy to take a leap in the dark when you know there is someone out there to catch you.

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Catch ups and cock ups…

It’s been a gentle day here…we’ve had a few late nights so the extra hour was welcomed…unfortunately by the end of the day the fact that our bodies are still on summertime even if our heads are on GMT, starts to take its toll.

Mainly today I have been finishing off the Hallowe’en goody bags for Flapjack Princess and her brothers – no pics as I ran out of daylight and now the bags are with their new owners, no doubt full of loot…

My boy has spent the day on the Playmobil website having discovered “games”… ordinarily I would object to this but I took a gamble and it has paid off. Today is the day I can officially say that my boy can read – since last Friday he has been actively spelling words out when he comes across them in day to day life, so today I just let him loose on my laptop and made myself “not quite available” so that he had to read things for himself…and he did !

Manu is finished except for the pockets and I’m now swatching for something else…it looks fabulous except for one thing.  The problem with a yoke cardigan is that you can’t take the sleeves off and remake them when you discover that the cuff of the left sleeve has more rows of garter stitch than the right…!

Feeling a bit silly and a bit disheartened tonight…it’s annoying but not really a problem as I tend to have my sleeves pushed up most of the time anyway.

Got a sock on the go, half a pirate tote and bits of a lego man… contemplating a hat for a friend and have those fingerless mittens to do this week…still haven’t decided about christmas knitting…

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FO: Julia, the water aid cardigan

Despite the time it took to knit and reknit I didn’t get round to taking a good photo of Julia’s cardigan…I had been waiting until the buttons were on but had problems finding buttons that actually went. In the end I just sewed on some  that I had lying around so that Julia could at least try it on for fit and then put her own buttons on it when she found some she liked.

Pattern: an original 1942 pattern from Women and Home (or some such title)

Needles : 3mm and 3.25mm

Yarn: Rowan Donegal lights 4ply in burnt orange

New: Trying to rescale and knit from an original 60 year old pattern !

Next time I auction myself for charity I make sure the description doesn’t let me in for anything quite so big !

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As in “to tink” which has been defined by someone in the knitting world as painstakingly knitting back stitch by stitch until you reach the mistake (it’s knit backwards).

The same person (Yarn Harlot ?) also noted the phenomenon whereby you knit for ages and ages and your knitting doesn’t seem to grow at all staying at about 2 inches in length and then suddenly you get your tape measure out and you realise you’ve knitted about 3 inches too much.

My love for Manu has been tested over the last 3 days, the stocking stitch seemed endless, its amazing how much knitting is involved in  19 inches x 208 stitches in fine wool and 3.25mm needles… once again I was cursing the long back genes inherited from my Dad’s side of the family and then I hit a knot in the wool. In fact it wasn’t strictly a knot more of a horrible snarl where the yarn had split over about 20cm.

Manu is knitted mostly in one piece, left front, back and right front as one endless piece of back and forth knitting and I was in the middle of the back, not really the place for joining in new yarn after breaking off the damaged bit, so I tinked, I tinked back 104 odd stitches, cut the yarn, attached the new and then thought “well whilst I’d stopped I may as well measure it” and yay ! I was just over the 19 inch mark, time to stop and start the rest another day as this is where the pattern gets “interesting” aka challenging…

So I’m off to bed. I know not to risk the gods wrath by pressing on thinking that luck is with me.