Monday, August 20, 2007

Hello from Jess in Australia!

Hello, how are you all?
My name's Jess, and I'm hailing you from the Wintry Southernmost Australian state of Tasmania, with a mug of hot chocolate in my hand and a warm dog asleep on my toes :-)
Well, this is my first KAL, and it's fun :-)
What to knit, hmmm.... I have already changed my plans several times, which is why something like a KAL is so good for me - it will force me to actually stick with something ;-)

Basically, over the next few months I'd like to do four new things:
~ Knit a pair of socks for my nearly-2-year-old son Liam (I've never knitted socks before!)
~ Repair and complete a Celtic cabled vest for Liam, which is the first pattern I've made up... I need to undo the cast on row and knit downwards to make it longer, which I've never done!
~ Make a jumper for Liam using wool I dyed myself.
~ Knit and Felt a pair of pixie or medieval boots. I got this idea from a free pattern online, Old World Booties, by the Sanguine Gryphon. They would be for (you guessed it) Liam.

...Perhaps at some point a "new" thing I can do is to knit something for myself! But it's more fun to make things for other people, and it uses a lot less wool and time to knit for children than for grown-ups! Where I live it's quite cold in the winter (which is now), and Liam keeps growing out of his old warm clothes :-)

To get myself started, I've taken some pictures of my projects...

These are the socks I began for this KAL, while I was eagerly awaiting my invitation :-) They're based on the Opal Kids Socks, but I'm knitting them on two needles. I'm happy with the shape so far, the colours turned out a bit more overwhelming than I thought, but Liam will like them I'm sure! I'm using Cleckheaton Merino Bambino in their latest multi colour-way.

This is the Celtic vest I have yet to complete, I love it but it's tricky because I made the pattern up (except the central motif, which is traditional) and I'm trying to get the collar cables to tie in with the central panel. I'll add a border on the bottom and link those cables to the central panel too!
I'll have to undo the cast on row and work another repeat of the main body, as Liam has grown since I started this vest! Then it just may fit him for a little longer... I'll have to concentrate hard on the right cable crossings when I'm working "backwards" (downwards?), I've never tried it but I hope it'll work!
A few firsts for this vest then :-)

Here's the jumper I started with the wool I hand-painted. The colours are a bit darker than you can see here, with little dashes of purple to warm it up. I'm knitting it on circular needles. Originally I started it in the round, but the colours were pooling strangely so I switched to knitting the front and back separately. The wool I dyed was white Patons Jet (30% alpaca, 70% wool), my favourite wool for keeping Liam warm! That's what the Celtic Cable vest is made from as well.

And these are my first attempts at felting - 3 mini-swatches to see how much the wool would shrink. The two white squares are Jet, and the centre is Cleckheaton Tapestry. I just wanted to make small swatches to measure how much the finished boots will shrink. The Jet reduced by a whole third, and became very stiff and strong - perhaps too stiff? The tapestry yarn didn't felt very well at all, though it's a pretty colour ;-) The 2nd picture shows the swatches after 3 cycles of hand-felting. I think I'll make the boots from Jet and then dye them a rich summery green afterwards. Or is it better to dye the wool first? The two white swatches were on different sized needles - one the recommended size and one 3 sizes smaller, but it made no difference to the end result. I wonder how I could get a thinner finished felt? By using needle sizes larger? I'll have to keep swatching ;-)

Thanks to everyone for sharing your projects, I'm really enjoying this :-)
Kind regards,


*Jaye* said...

Hi Jess, and welcome!
You've got a lot of really great projects on your list - yowza! The socks are super beautiful as is the Celtic vest for your son (also very impressive!). Sounds like you're going to fit right in with our group here.


Hobbygåsa said...

You have some great projeckts, and I have discovered that once I made the list for this KAL it is much more fun to really start on the work! When I do felting I always use needles much bigger that the yarn tells. If the yarn is supposed to be knitted with size 4 needles - I knit with size 10/10,5 (US). Can this be any help?

Kristina B said...

Hi Jess:

a very impressive list of projects! I love the centre cable in the celtic vest (not to mention the rest...).

Re. your felting query... what thicknesses of yarn are you using? It's hard to tell from your photos, but they look like bulky weight. I've had success with thinner felted products using a DK or worsted weight (such as Lett Lopi or Brown Sheep Worsted - don't know if they're available where you are!). Check out my blog for the French market bag in particular. This was knitted using both of the above and 4 or 4.5 mm needles (I forget). Any lopi in particular felts well, or you could try a DK weight yarn with a strand of mohair.

Best of luck!


Tina in Wonderland said...

I just looked at that link for those pixi booties, and they are just so sweet! I can't wait to see how yours turn out.

That Celtic vest is awe inspiring! And you designed that yourself! You seem to have talent coming out the wazoo! Seriously!

I like your little boy's socks, also.

Samantha said...

Welcome to the KAL. I love all your work you've got going. I've eyed that bootie pattern too and think they are just adorable. As far as dyeing before or after, I think before would be better. Then the color variations you get worked into the knitting and bring some interest.