Day 161

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Ta-daaaaah!

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It’s so big that finding enough floor space for this picture meant clearing extra floor space in my sons room (very badly. Sorry.). It’s at least 2m across the top so it’s kinda huge.

I’m really pleased with it and the colours have come out beautifully in the mitred square shapes.

And here is the last 3 days of blanket knitting. Today is the blue rectangle, yesterday’s is the almost white square, the day before is the red square.

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The gap in the corner will remain empty for the moment. Tomorrow I move to the far side of the top of  the blanket to work back to this point. That will then take us into stage 4….

Sometimes the first time you hear a song, it’s a live recording. You buy the live album and love it so you buy the studio albums that have your favourite songs on them but it’s not at all the same.

I often feel the opposite of this. Sometimes, the artist makes changes to the track and it becomes almost unrecognisable…

Anyway, Sarah McLachlan released a live album called ‘Mirrorball’ and for me, this album is one of the first situations. There is something beautiful about unpolished music, and about hearing an artist truly enjoying their music.

I am not at all a fan of the studio version of today’s song. This is the live recording that I love… but I’m not sure anything is better than ice cream 😉

Sarah McLachlan – Ice Cream

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Day 132

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handspun-gardenFINISHED!!!!! 550m/600yds of 4ply yarn (the actual yarn is 3ply but the thickness is the same as a commercial 4ply yarn). Think I killed the gears in my e-spinner (nicknamed ‘Avril’ because it got complicated) finishing this yarn. Good thing I have spares.

Anyway, some spinning terms before I go on.

Single/s – a single strand of spun fibre.
Ply – 2 or more strands of spun fibre.
Chain-plying – a way to turn single into a 3-strand thick thread.

So, I finished spinning the single-that-wouldn’t-end last night and almost immediately began plying the yarn. To keep the pinks with the pinks, and the greens with the greens I chose to chain-ply the single. Chain-plying is a process where you draw a long loop of yarn through another long loop of the same yarn to create a continuous length of yarn that is 3 strands thick. As you are doing this, you are twisting the yarn in the opposite direction to the one that the singles were spun in. In this case, I spun the yarn in a clock-wise direction so I twisted the plies in an anti-clockwise direction. The tricky part is not to put too much or too little twist against the earlier spinning of the singles. This is called balancing the yarn.

To be honest, as long as the yarn doesn’t fall apart, you can use it and count it as a success and with pattern databases like Ravelry, you are sure to find a pattern that will accommodate whatever sort and length of yarn you have created.

The process of plying this yarn took about 5 hours in total. 550 metres of stranded yarn means that the single was about 1650 metres. That’s more than 1.5 kilometres…. and just over a mile long. It’s the longest I’ve ever manage to draw out 100g of fibre.

A blue rectangle for yesterday and a dark pink square for today join the previous 130 blanket pieces today.
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I fancied some awesome guitar today so here’s some Santana (with Rob Thomas) from the turn of the century.

Santana feat. Rob Thomas – Smooth

Day 108

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No new blanket piece today but I have a really good reason.

The tablecloth is cast off!!!!! I had to undo a total of 5 rounds today to get there because it’s difficult to judge how much yarn is in a ball and because I decided to cast off with a larger needle which uses more yarn.

What needs doing with it now:

* The ends from the 5 balls of yarn need to be sewn in which will need attention because of the stitch patterns.
* Washing.
* Blocking – this is where a completed piece of knitting is stretched into shape using either pins or special flexible wires and either allowed to dry after washing or steamed carefully with an iron. I don’t have any wires but some of my knitting group do so I’ll be asking to borrow them.

So here it is, unblocked, in need of a wash and final finishing, but it’s done. And I am well pleased.

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In the end this finished much more quickly than I expected. Perhaps that has more to do with my ability to focus on it than anything else but it’s good to have it finished. Here’s hoping it fits mum’s table.

We’re revisiting the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain for today’s tune. It’s their version of ‘Wuthering Heights’ – something quirky and familiar and fun.

Day 47

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So….. I finished knitting for The Sweater.

driftwood v2 - needing sewing upYeeeeeeah, it ended up 15cm larger around the body than the pattern schematic said it should have which is puzzling because I got the gauge that the pattern said I needed. Basically, this means that it’s too big for my friend J. Disappointing. However, it is the right size for me so it wasn’t a wasted effort.

You can see that I still need to sew in the yarn ends and to add the buttons but the majority of the work is done.

Things I have learned : Do your maths!!! All of the difficulties that I have had with this pattern are down to maths – whether I haven’t checked my gauge properly, I haven’t checked measurements or the sizing isn’t calculated correctly, it’s all down to getting the numbers right. There is nothing complicated in the maths – it’s all addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. When I do it, I will share it with you all. It helps that I have already completed the pattern once so I know what I’m looking for/at.

Things I changed : So, the first time I knit the body of this sweater I followed the pattern exactly which meant that I worked backwards and forwards for the button band area, and after separating the sleeves from the body I cast on the stitches for the underarm. This time I knit the button band section in the round then steeked (secured and cut) the opening. It was much quicker to complete even with the few extra stitches on each round because I didn’t have to turn and re-situate the knitting at the end of each row, and because every round was knit stitch and like most knitters my purl stitch is a little slower than my knit stitch. As for the underarm, by casting on then picking up the stitches for the sleeve there was a stiff line that could be an irritant, so this time I did a provisional cast on which meant the join between sleeve and body under the arm was seamless. It looks and feels much better.

Things I would change next time : I would do my own maths for sizing. Looking at the gallery of other knitters sweaters from this pattern, the smaller sizes seem to fit perfectly but the larger sizes “swim” on the wearers. Not sure where the maths is wrong but I’m sure that it’s not me that made a mistake. My gauge was spot on so it should have come out to match the schematic in the pattern but it didn’t. So, yeah, I’ll do my own maths according to the measurements of the recipient of the sweater.

I will also be volunteering to test the designers patterns to help remedy this problem. I really like this pattern, and the construction is fantastic, and I am happy to knit it again at a later date. But first I’ll knit something else. I’m liable to destroy the sweater from boredom/irritation if I knit it again so soon. I have plenty to be going on with.

In honour of the  journey this sweater has taken me on, I present Faith No More’s ‘Epic’. It’s a bit of a flashback to my early teens and is one of my favourite pieces of modern music.

Today’s small square is blue. It is also setting up space for tomorrows rectangle. We’re coming to the end of the first chart so quickly. I am still surprised that I’m still going with this. I am terrible about starting things then getting bored but I’m enjoying this project. And knowing that there is something new to make and finish each day is good. If I don’t do anything else each day, I have accomplished a little bit more of this blanket.

Day 47