Vix Knits… and crochets and sews…

My adventures in the wonderful world of arts and crafts

The infamous crochet hook case and other crafting disasters

Do you ever have one of those weeks where nothing you attempt seems to go right?

Well mine’s been much longer than a week!

I’m lucky in a way that there’s always so much I want to make. If something goes wrong or gets dull, I can put it aside and work on something else.

It only works for so long though, because said WIP starts looking at me and calling to me and eventually screaming FINISH ME!

The yarn for my crochet cardigan is doing it now…

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I found myself coming to the end of my latest big projects (I’ll try and remember to post about those later) and, it being spring and all, decided to have a tidy up of my unfinished projects as well as working on some smaller stash-busting projects.

Mostly this was a tactic to avoid buying yarn since I’m running a little cash-poor.

So, the list went something like:

  • finish the damn crochet hook case
  • start the front of the cricket jumper
  • start the crochet cardigan
  • try my hand at beaded crochet by making some lovely bracelets
  • do tension swatches for a knitted kimono shrug
  • think about finishing the African Flower Blanket

It may seem like a lot but with Steven away from two weeks, I didn’t want to risk finding myself at a loose end (so to speak)

Obviously the news of my Grandad’s death threw me as well so I was looking forward to being busy.

The cricket jumper and the AFB were pretty low on the list, since they’re both rather repetitive.

Top of the list was the crochet hook case. I’ve been ‘designing’ this for months and struggling with how to finish it off.

I thought I had it sorted but no such luck.

I did what I could but had to leave the glue to set so moved on to something else.

I decided on tension swatches for a lovely kimono shrug pattern (from the One Ball Knits book that Steven gave me for my birthday)

Beaten again! The stocking stitch swatches were fine but trying out the stitch pattern was a disaster.

It’s badly written and isn’t physically possible (I actually have to wonder if the authors are knitters!)

The attempts I did make looked nothing like the pictures and, to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t (and still can’t) be bothered to work it out.

So, it was on to yet another project.

I thought I’d try the cricket jumper since it was likely to be easy but when I though about it, I realised I’d started it before I lost loads of weight so I’, actually working on a size too big.

To top it off, the notebook I’d used to keep track of row counts and shaping etc had been ‘lost’ in the move.

Once again, I moved on to another project but the jumper was still on my mind.

So when the tension swatches for the crochet cardigan got the better of me, I went back for another look and sorted the problems.

Not the happiest of craft days but I actually really enjoyed an evening of knitting my cricket jumper and now I’m steaming ahead.

More tomorrow

Leave a comment »

Mina’s Tuxedo Vest – update

After my struggles with my tension swatch (see previous post Tension headache) I was excited to get started on my vest and learn the new techniques involved. Because I’m working on quite large needles, it’s growing really quickly and I soon finished stage one of the back.

I should probably explain, here, that I like to think of projects in stages. It helps me set targets for myself beyond the usual ‘x number of rows’

So, this design is knitted top down, in one piece.

Stage one: provisional cast on, knit back to required length, shape armholes

Stage two: undo provisional cast on and pick up stitches (end stitches required for fronts onto needle and middle stitches for back neck onto waste yarn)

Stage three: knit fronts to required length, shape armholes

Stage four: join fronts to back

Stage five: shape neck

Stage six: shape waist

Stage seven: ribbing and cast off

Stage eight: armhole ribbing

Stage nine: collar

Stage ten: finishing, blocking and buttons

Right now, I’m working on stage five, which meant I needed to make a decision on the cardigan vs. jumper issue. For a cardigan I need to continue working back and forth but for a jumper, I need to join and work in the round.

I still think a cardigan will be better. As much as I hate sewing on buttons, I think it will be easier to put on over other tops.

I still haven’t decided what to do with the collar but I have some ideas so I’ll keep you posted.

The biggest problem I had was undoing the provisional cast on. It was really easy to do: using a contrasting waste yarn, cast on using the long tail cast on technique; instead of having the end of your working yarn over your thumb, join the waste yarn with your working yarn using a slip knot and have the waste yarn over your thumb. The end result should be stitches in your working yarn with a chain of waste yarn along the cast on edge.

Wendy Bernard (author of the book Custom Knits and the blog Knit and Tonic) has written a brilliant tuorial for long tail provisional cast on.

I was so excited but when it came to taking it out, it was a lot more difficult than I thought and didn’t really go so well…

I think I must have picked the stitches up wrong because I ended up with one too few and when I continued knitting the picked up stitches didn’t (and don’t) look quite right.

I’ve had to go with it though because I couldn’t bear the thought of taking it out, doing it again and ending up with the same result.

My main concern is that the row of picked up stitches look a little flimsy but they seem sturdy enough so I’m thinking of it as a design feature rather than failure!

Unfortunately progress has slowed a little now as I’m working on over 200 stitches! Also, stocking stitch has never been my favourite and the twisted stocking stitch used for this design is just as repetitive to knit.

So, I’m learning some extra patience as well as new knitting techniques!

Leave a comment »

Tension headache

Apologies for not posting yesterday as promised, I had a rather traumatic morning having tests at the hospital and wasn’t feeling my best (I’m still feeling a little fuzzy and very tired but trying to keep busy)

So, I’ve never been one for tension swatches, I’m simply too impatient to spend the time knitting a piece that’s essentially useless.

However, after several disastrous projects that can probably be traced back to tension, I’ve finally learnt my lesson. Hence, being so excited about finishing a swatch on Sunday

Unfortunately, I spent a large portion of this morning knitting more swatches!

The rules of swatching:

  • using the recommended needle size, cast on the recommended number of stitches plus 10
  • working in your stitch pattern, work the recommended number of rows plus 10
  • using a hard, flat surface and a rigid ruler, measure 10cm across the rows and stitches and count them up (some people mark out 10cm with pins and then count but I tend to just count along the ruler
  • measure in more than one place to double (and triple) check
  • if you have too few stitches, try again with smaller needles
  • if you have too many, use larger needles
  • a general rule of thumb is to go up or down by one size but this might not work so persevere until you’ve got it

So, my pattern states ’22sts and 28rows = 4″ (10cm) in Twisted Stockinette stitch (Twisted st st) using larger needles’ (3.75mm)

Initially, I didn’t knit a swatch. I meant to, but just started the vest out of habit.

It soon became clear that the piece was too small and, measuring my stitches, I appeared to have 26sts to 10cm.

Being the big, brave girl that I am, I took it all out and knitted a swatch using 4mm needles. I cast on 32sts and worked 38rows.

It didn’t take too long and I was strangely proud of myself. So I was really disappointed to discover that I still had 26sts to 10cm!

Again, I took it out (I can’t see the point of keeping them) and tried again with 4.5mm needles. I was feeling pretty frustrated so I measured the stitch count after eight rows and I still had too many!

I switched up to 5mm needles but carried on knitting the swatch, worked 10 rows and measured again. It finally seemed to be working!

So, again, I took it all out and started again with the 5mm needles. I knitted the whole swatch in a couple of hours and, although my row count is still a little off, I’m finally happy with my tension.

My concern now is knitting 4-ply yarn with 5mm needles as it creates a very loose, open weave.

So, I waited for a second opinion before casting on for my vest (Mum’s helpful like that) We think it’ll be okay and I figure it’s worth a try since I’ve bought the yarn.

The most irritating part is that I’ve also bought new needles that I don’t need now but I’m hoping to swap them for some more goodies.

I’m also hoping the vest won’t take long to knit up so I can start experimenting with the collar (see Mina’s Tuxedo Vest – help!)

I’ll post pictures of my progress

1 Comment »

Tension swatch – finished!

I just knitted my first ever tension swatch! Unfortunately, I find myself without a ruler…

More tomorrow

Leave a comment »