Sunday, April 22, 2007

stella nova, reviewed

On my travels, besides knitting frantically on the ribbing of Orangina (which never, ever will be finished) I also picked up two gloriously lurid balls of Debbie Bliss's new yarn, Stella. (I would link directly to the Debbie Bliss site, but weirdly, the yarn's not up there yet.) It's 60% silk, 20% rayon, and 20% cotton, a rather heavy aran-weight combination that gives a very average yardage of 88m per 50g. The colours are absolutely amazing:
the price is a bit jawdropping. It's silk, and priced accordingly, but it handles like a short-fibred cotton yarn, not a sheeny, long-fibred silk. On casting on, the yarn is every bit as fray-ey and splitty as it promised to be in the ball, alas. It's lovely and soft to knit, and much easier on the hands while knitting than cotton is, but it splits like crazy. Another very unimpressive quality of the yarn is the number of knots - lots of little ones holding together separate plies, making for lots of annoying little ends to be woven in to the back of the work.

On the plus side, the stitch definition is, as promised in the brochure, quite good - better than I would have thought - and the fabric it knits up into is really lovely, felted-feeling and cuddly and heavy. Also, it seems to hold its shape quite well. But still, the finished product sheds.

I had a wee stroke of Debbie Bliss's other new summer yarn, Pure Cotton, which is the most sumptuous, silky, gorgeous aran-weight cotton imaginable, and at a much better price. Stella doesn't seem to do anything that this yarn doesn't do anything that that one doesn't, apart from having the heavier, warmer qualities of silk. That said, the colours are amazing.

So what did I actually make with the somewhat maligned ball?
one skein wonder back
Another Glampyre knit, because clearly, I am unhealthily obsessed. Some day, I will knit up everything Stephanie ever designed, and then you will see a whole new theme for this blog, I swear. In the meantime, I've been slightly obsessed with this pattern: it's the nearest you can get to an accessory while still being a garment, I think, the slightest, scrappiest jumper imaginable. Does it really have a function, I asked? The answer is, surprisingly, yes, actually: it's not just bright and fun and a super-quick knit, but worn on a fair spring day over a cotton t-shirt (as in the pic), it's a really welcome hit of warmth over the shoulders, almost as good as wearing a full cardigan. That would be the silk in the Stella, I guess. Well done, Glampyre, for whipping up a natty solution to a problem I didn't even know existed. That's true science for you.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

instant sun top!

Ever woken up to sun, glorious sun, and wished that you had a brand-new hand-knitted top to swank around in, without actually having to knit it?
violet sun
Ta da! Just overdye an old one, and swank away! Well, swank away happily until you look at the photos and realise quite how much non-toned tummy is on view. Whoops. Just as well I knitted that extra round of lace edging the first time, no? It's last year's Soleil, overdyed in violet because, well, I just couldn't get my head around that mottled ducks-egg thing that the top had going on. Whereas violet is rock. Just to make sure that no-one mistakes me for a goth, I'm being sure to accessorise with rainbow belt and scholarly own. It's a queer-tastic purple vest top, not gothy purple lace, OK?

You are all, by the way, to be admiring HOW MUCH MY HAIR HAS GROWN in the year in between, OK? It's hard work, growing my wimpy hairs, I can tell you. A full time occupation.

And then I wandered out in the gorgeous spring sunshine to This is Knit's new shop in Blackrock, to drool and admire Lisa and Jacqui's gorgeous new premises. They recognised me as soon as I went in! Even though I've been in Northern exile for so long! That's knitting community for you. The shop is absolutely lovely, and so are the Lorna's Laces yarns. I have a job now, and I had to succumb, if only for the fun of using the ball winder:
lorna's laces
Then down to the beach for a bit to gaze over Dublin Bay into eternity, while waiting for the train. I love my city. Lorna's Laces-enabling job or not, I can't wait to be back.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

FO: it's amazing what a giddy rush of colours can do

It is truly astonishing what a giddy rush of colours can do to a knitter, isn't it? The label on my multicoloured merino yarn said, adorably, Make your yarn happy - Knit It Now!. So I did. Fast.

FO: City Shawl

city shawl ta-da!

Tad-da! It's Glampyre's City Shawl, scaled down for a much finer gauge. While I was knitting it, I thought I was slightly crazy. And now I've finished, I think that yes, the yarn was slightly crazy, but the shawl is also awesome. This would have made great socks, but the shawl is something else.
Pattern: Glampyre's City Shawl, modified to suit a much finer yarn. The pattern as written is for chunky yarn. And once I was mistress of the mesh pattern, I started winging it, adding drop-stitch rows and garter-stitch rows at will, as the fancy took me.

Yarn: Celestial Merino Dream, in colourway Fiesta, on sale from Get Knitted. That's just one skein, people. 100 grammes, 280 metres. I can't really believe it myself.

Needles: 5mm circ.

Time sucked: A week. Glampyre suggests a weekend, but there's a lot more mileage in finger-weight yarn.

city shawl unblocked

Unblocked splendour. Check out those colours!


Oh, come on. It's awesome. Isn't it? I had moments of doubt knitting it, but the simple pattern turned out to be just perfect for such a nutso yarn. This one is for summer afternoons in the park, listening to hippy drummers and eating Mr. Freezes in the least natural colours possible.
city shawl smile

In other news

orangina progress
There's my orangina, lickety-splitting along. Glampyre, she is a genius for the simple and effective. It took me a while to become one with the pattern, though. I think there's three stages in knitting lace; first, the set-up rows, where you have no idea what you are knitting and any mistake could be fatal; second, once you have a general feel for the pattern's rhythm, and have somewhat memorised it; and third, when you really know what function each stitch has in the pattern, and can instantly spot and correct a mistake. It took me a few days to get to the latter stage with Orangina, simple lace though she is, but I'm there now. Roll on summer!

We won't speak of Ivy. Not right now. But thank you, thank you for your kind words!