Showing posts with label Knitty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Knitty. Show all posts

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The First Sock is the Hardest: Turning Those Heels...

Gently inserted into everyday conversation, the mere mention of sock knitting tends to provoke remarks about its apparent difficulty and a comment on the intricacy of heel turning will undoubtedly be thrown in here and there as well. Even non-knitters or those only loosely connected to the fibre sphere will appear to sound like experts on the topic of sock knitting and inevitably convey a sense of a awe when they utter that ominous phrase: 'turning a heel'. 

And all of a sudden it seems that everyone has heard about how immensely difficult it is to turn a heel. "Turning the heel', i.e. the part of the knitting when you shape the heel of the sock and work your piece on several needles whilst decreasing, seems to simultaneously instil feelings of awe, fear and amazement whenever it is mentioned, especially if non-knitters join the conversation. It sounds somewhat magical, surgical and therefore terribly advanced. 

Sock Knitting Heel Detail

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Substituting Rowan Kidsilk Haze (again)

Introducing the Wisp

The pattern was created by Canadian designer Cheryl Niamath and originally published in Knitty's summer 2007 edition.  The pattern instructions call for either Elann Super Kydd or Rowan Kidsilk Haze. As I have successfully substituted Rowan Kidsilk Haze with Patons UK Misty in a previous project, I decided to use Patons UK Misty for my Wisp. And once again, Misty didn't disappoint.
Unfortunately, Misty has by now been discontinued, but it can occassionally be found for sale on both ebay and ravelry. Misty's composition (70% Mohair, 30% Polyamide) is not as luxurious as Kidsilk's but it serves as a fantastic substitute for all Knitters, who want to work with fingering weight yarn without having to pay the price for Kidsilk Haze, which currently retails at just under £9.00 per ball.

Wisp (Yarn: Patons UK Misty, substituting Rowan Kidsilk Haze)

Monday, 2 January 2012

Citron - Finally Finished

Citron in Patons UK Misty

It's taken a fair bit of time to complete this project, three months to be precise. Nevertheless, Citron, a semi - circular shawlette, is finally finished. The pattern designer is Hilary Smith Callis and written instructions can be found in the winter 2009 edition of Knitty

For this project I decided to attack my stash of Patons UK Misty, which I bought as a substitute for Rowan Kidsilk Haze. (More on substituting Rowan Kidsilk Haze with Patons UK Misty can be found in a previous blogpost.)

Citron in Patons UK Misty

On the whole, I am happy with the yarn, even though it split unexpectedly on two occasions, but this was easily rectified.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Substituting Rowan Kidsilk Haze

Kidsilk Haze must be one of Rowan's bestselling yarns. As I am writing this entry, Kidsilk Haze has been stashed 11813 times on Ravelry, knitters have produced 14396 garments with the yarn and it's a consistent favourite amongst designers. I have personally met the yarn in my local yarn store, I have touched it, my eyes have feasted on the fantastic colourways in which it is produced and I regularly drool over photos of Kidsilk Haze and other yarns in the Kidsilk family when browsing through online yarn shops. Yes, there are several members in the Kidsilk family: Kidsilk Spray, Kidsilk Night and Kidsilk Aura, which I believe has now been discontinued. I love them all.

Rowan Kidsilk Haze

And yet, I have resisted buying Kidsilk Haze. I first came across Kidsilk Haze in a pattern book by Laura Harding. I had been knitting for a mere few months then and didn't know anything about yarn and the price tag that comes (quite rightly) with certain materials - Kidsilk Haze is a blend of Super Kid Mohair (70%) and Silk (30%). Blissfully ignorant, I looked it up on the internet and was quite simply taken aback by the price. Just about having completed my first fingerless glove in an awfully cheap acrylic yarn, I was after a yarn that was a bit more luxurious, yet affordable, a yarn with a purchase price, which I, an absolute beginner, could justify in case my project went horribly wrong. Therefore, I was unable to buy Kidsilk Haze. I didn't think my level of skill would do the expense and the beauty of the yarn justice.

Nevertheless, if I didn't allow myself Kidsilk Haze, I at least wanted something like Kidsilk Haze. And so the endless quest for a substitute had begun - alongside the perennial search for Kidsilk Haze at a knockdown price: That illusive skein of Kidsilk somewhere on sale for less than £3.50. (Yeah, I's never going to happen.) Considering that 25g currently retail at just over £8.00, you are lucky if you are able to locate a skein for £5.95, and that would be in a discontinued colour, of which probably only one skein is held in stock. It has crossed my mind that instead of buying gold bullions for investment purposes, it might be just as prudent to have a few skeins of Kidsilk in your vault. I don't think prices for the stuff are about to drop any time soon and it might be a good hedge against inflation.

Patons UK Misty

In the light of all this praise, I need to make absolutely clear that I don't think any substitute not equivalent in materials will ever come close to Kidsilk, but this is not necessarily the task a cheaper alternative is supposed to fulfil. When substituting yarn in this particular case, I am aware that a cheaper alternative will produce an approximation in texture and look. I am perfectly happy with this - for the time being.

Patons UK Misty

After months of searching for this alternative, I found a possible candidate: Patons UK Misty, a blend of Mohair (70%) and Polyamide (30%) with a recommended needle size of 3.25 - 5.00mm (US: 3 - 8). Due to the Polyamide replacing the Silk content, Misty is a lot shinier than Kidsilk Haze. I haven't started to knit with Misty in earnest, but as far as first impressions go, I think Misty could be a frugal alternative. The yarn looks and feels luxurious. Whether it can live up to my expectations will soon be put to the test.

I have ten skeins of Misty in my stash and a few suitable patterns in mind. I will probably start swatching next weekend.  Ice Queen by Rosemary (Romi) Hill, which is available free on Knitty's website, or Branching Out by Susan Lawrence, a pattern which was the subject of a previous article and which is also available on Knitty's website, are two possible candidates.

Update: I decided to use Patons (UK) Misty for Citron by Hilary Smith Callis. For more on this, please have a look at my Citron blogpost.

Another update: I have used Misty for another project. This time, it was a stole designed by Cheryl Niamath. Project notes are now available on the blog. For a preview picture, please see below.

Wisp by Cheryl Niamath

Monday, 14 March 2011

Lost in Lace - A Lace Knitting Newbie's Quest for a Suitable Project

...the Highs and Lows of my Weekend Lace Knitting Quest

Sitting on the bus late Friday evening after work, I thought about my weekend knitting. I have a habit of starting new projects during the weekend, as I am able to source patterns and I have enough time to engage in all the preparatory work (choosing yarn, knitting swatches etc.). During the week, I like to return to the project, pick up the needles and simply enjoy the process.

As of late and in my quest to find new challenges, I got increasingly attracted to lace knitting. Once I arrived home and after saying "hello" to the cats, I started to sift through my pattern library and dug out Susan Pierce Lawrence's scarf pattern for "Branching Out", which was featured in Knitty's spring 2005 edition.

Susan's  design, though relatively straightforward, incorporates the most common increases and decreases the lace knitter is likely to encounter. Once you have gotten to grips with these, you will have gained confidence and are likely to master more complex lace patterns.

To have a look at the scarf, please click on the the link to Knitty below:

That it  looked like the ideal project for the beginner lace knitter, is exactly what I thought. I started a trial with some cheap acrylic yarn. Owing to the yarn, my swatch didn't look great, but I wasn't prepared to waste posh(er) yarn during the first stages of my lace experiment.

After an hour or so, it clicked and I really got going. Mastering the stitch sequence wasn't all too hard and I went to bed with a great sense of achievement. sl2-k1-p2sso isn't scaring me anymore! Result.

I continued my lace experiment on Saturday, sorting through my stash and trying to locate a yarn that was going to be suitable, but I was in the end unable to find anything...I am sure a lot of knitters must be familiar with this scenario. You want to knit a pattern, you have a huge stash and not a single resident yarn is up to the job or would do the pattern justice. Oh, it is so frustrating!!! Friday's euphoria was followed by complete and utter frustration on Saturday.

Adamant that at least one yarn in my stash might be suitable for lace knitting, I decided to go on  another pattern search and finally I succeeded. By now it was Sunday morning and I was close to giving up, when I remembered a pattern by designer Susanna IC  - The pattern is called "Meandering Vines" ( and Susanna states in her introduction to the pattern that it's possible to knit the stole with just about any yarn, provided suitable needles are chosen.

It has to be said that Susanna's "Meandering Vines" is far less intricate than "Branching Out", but by now I just wanted to knit and get a project onto my needles.

I decided to trust Susanna and started a trial swatch with some of my Paton's Vintage (30% cotton and 70% Acrylic). I originally bought it in bulk from Kemp's as it was an absolute steal at £0.59, but never quite succeeded in finding a suitable pattern for it.

I am pleased to report that after Saturday's ordeal, Sunday turned out to be a success. Meandering Vines (in Patons Vintage - Burnished)  is now  firmly installed on my needles and I can return to my  new  project over the next few evenings. It is easy to memorise the pattern and I am anticipating a relaxed and enjoyable knit. Once I have used my stash of Paton's Vintage, I will go on a hunt for yarns to be used when knitting Susan Pierce Lawrence's "Branching Out".

For all those who wish to have a little venture into lace knitting, I strongly recommend you  have a look at Susanna IC's website: There you will find Meandering Vines, a pattern every beginner can knit with virtually any yarn, alongside various other (sometimes free) lace patterns. It will be worth a visit...or maybe two!

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