Trial and Error: A Mustard Malabrigo Tee

My fetish for mustard is such, that as soon as a delivery of ‘Ochre’ Malabrigo Sock yarn arrived at work, my plans for a labour intensive intarsia machine knit flew out of the window. I’m one of those people that’s always cold, and I can never have enough merino basics to wear under my jumpers, so I decided to keep things simple and knit a plain short-sleeved top, in my favourite colour, that I could wear endlessly once the cold weather sets in.

I used the basic outline of the Bolt Tee pattern, but swapped garter stitch hems on the body and sleeves with machine-friendly folded hems. I also left out the awkward looking longer back hem, and picked up and knitted the neckline by hand.

The yarn knitted like a hot knife through butter. It didn’t catch or snag once and was generally soft and springy, with a lovely marl effect that I had to keep stopping to admire.

Getting the right gauge turned out to be really tricky though. The suggested gauge for the pattern was based on hand knitting with two yarns held together, which turned out to be really hard to replicate by machine (I even knitted a whole top front, before realising it was waaay too small). Eventually I had to knit the whole thing on the biggest stitch tension setting and hope for the best.

I’m also embarrassed to admit that I really struggled with the picked up and knitted neckline. Picked up edges have never been my forte, but this one took six attempts and one (very helpful) finishing techniques class to get right (well….vaguely acceptable anyway). I can live with the finished result, but it could be neater…

Front2

After blocking, seaming, and blocking again, I’m already wearing this top to death. It’s so comfortable, surprisingly warm (hello merino!) and I’m getting loads of compliments on the colour. It still came up slightly small – it’s a bit short, and although the armholes don’t feel too snug, there is some puckering under the arms. I’m already thinking about a slightly bigger version in ‘Lettuce’

I think I’ll take a short break from complicated machine knits though. I’m really craving a nice, stress-free hand-knit next, where a designer has done all the thinking and trial-and-error for me….

Not Your Mama’s Poncho

Sometimes my brain decides I need a break from making, and everything that I started in the last month or so either fell at the first hurdle, or went wrong at every conceivable point until I put it away in frustration. Given my run of bad luck, I was a teensy bit worried when work asked me to try to machine knit a simple asymmetrical poncho for the shop. Especially because they let me have four skeins of beautiful Artesano Alpaca 4-ply that I definitely didn’t want to ruin…

Grey Poncho 7

I won’t say it knitted up without incident – the yarn was almost too fluffy and splitty for my machine, and I had a few tension problems because the centre pulling balls didn’t pull easily. That said, I think it looks pretty damn good!

Grey Poncho6

I cast on 128 stitches, and knitted until the piece was about 1.3m long. I then folded it in half and partially seamed it on one side, leaving a gap for the neck. It’s knitted at quite a loose tension for 4-ply (tension dial setting 8 on my Toyota) to give extra drape, and minimise rolling at the hem.

It’s almost perfect. The poncho has a bad rap amongst the style-conscious, but in this guise, it’s really quite elegant. It feels amazing to wear – like a really soft, luxurious, easy-to-wear sweater. Everyone who’s tried it on (including me) wants one. I think I may have Christmas sorted…

Grey Poncho 5

My only gripe is that the seamed edge flicks out a bit awkwardly at the side. I think this is because the cast-off edge was much looser than the cast-on, leaving a slight ripple where they meet. Next time, I might try using a provisional cast-on so I can match the tension on both edges more closely. I also think I’ll invest in some blocking wires, so I can get the edges really straight

If you don’t mind hours and hours of stockinette stitch, you could easily hand-knit one of these (you don’t really need a pattern, but this one on Ravelry looks very similar and has an additional cowl neck option). It also makes an easy beginner machine knitting project.

I’m optimistic that I’m back in the groove now, watch this space…

Baby Knits: It’s a Wrap

I actually finished this baby cardigan weeks ago, but stashed it away in a rage because it’s not as perfect as I would have liked. I won’t tell you where I found fault with it, and if you squint you hopefully won’t notice either…

Baby Cardigan FO 2

Despite its imperfections, it’s very cute, and was a great, easy pattern that you can put your own stamp on – I went for stripes, with plain contrast sleeves and neckline. I also made the cardigan totally seamless by joining the shoulders with a three-needle bind-off (instead of casting off and sewing them), and knitting the sleeves on in the round (I had to restart my first sleeve because I forgot that garter stitch in the round is alternating rounds of knit and purl….duh!).

Baby Cardigan FO 3

I’m slightly dubious about the sizing. My gauge was bang on, and I don’t know much about babies, but if you ask me it’s way too big for 3 to 6 months. I do know that babies grow at an alarming rate though, so at least it’ll fit eventually.

Baby Cardigan FO 4

The overall look is a little bit boyish, but luckily for me, mystery baby arrived a few days ago and he’s a boy!

I hope he’ll like his elephant, and fit into his gigantic cardigan one day…