Purl Alpaca Glacier Cardigan

Niobe-Jumper-by-Purl-Alpaca-Designs-front-viewThis cardigan originally started out as a jumper. I had purchased the beautiful Yarn Stories FineMerino and Baby Alpaca in toffee for Purl Alpaca’s Niobe Jumper, but after a couple of mishaps I had to rethink this plan!

The construction of Niobe is very interesting. You knit the jumper in the round from the bottom up, split in half to separate for the front and back, and then continue in a simple lace stitch for the arms and chest. You then split for the neck, continue the lace down the back and then graft the top of the garment to the previously knitted back. I had knitted all of it, I’d even managed to fairly seamlessly (and after many attempts) graft the top to the bottom, and was almost done, when I realised that I had more stitches left at the bottom of the work then the top. GUTTED.Fine Merino and Baby Alpaca Aran Toffee _ Yarn Stories

I emailed Kari-Helene the designer and with her help I realised that SOMEHOW I had managed to not equally split my stitches. HOW DOES A PERSON DO THIS?? Anyway, I was then faced with having to rip back right to the beginning, and so chose then to do the jumper in a different colour, and use the Yarn Stories yarn for something else.

I LOVE the colour of the yarn, but when I tried on the half completed jumper, I realised that there was a lot of brown, and that this might not be that flattering!

Glacier-Cardigan-by-Purl-Alpaca-Designs-front-viewSo back to the Glacier Cardigan. I knew exactly what I wanted my beautiful toffee yarn to be, a nice, longish cardigan with a shawl collar, and was surprised to find that Purl Alpaca had exactly this in their Glacier pattern. At first I wasn’t sure about the design, as the stitches for the top and bottom go in different directions. For the bottom piece you knit vertically from the bottom upwards and for the top you knit horizontally from cuff to cuff. After reflection though I decided I didn’t mind this, and I’m so glad I carried on!

GlacierCardigan_ - 1 (1)

 

I REALLY love the cardigan, it is EXACTLY what I wanted and I can’t wait for this silly warm November to bugger off and allow the cold November to arrive so I can fully appreciate it’s snugglyness!

I have to be honest though, as much as I love the design, the yarn is the real winner. I was impressed with Yarn Stories after knitting a vintage lace blanket for my friend in their Fine Merino 4 ply in the beautiful cobalt, but seriously the best was yet to come!

GlacierCardigan_ - 1 (2)I CANNOT even tell you how soft this yarn is! It has literally surpassed any of my expectations! The description of the yarn says that the baby alpaca gives the yarn “a touch as soft as cashmere” and this really is no exaggeration! I don’t want to take it off! The suggested needle size is 5mm, but I chose to knit using 5.5mm needles as I wanted a less dense fabric, so the resulting garment is soooo light!! It hardly feels like you’re wearing it! I’m guessing at the moment I sound like I’m on the Yarn Stories pay check, but this is unfortunately not true, and here is the downside.

 

GlacierCardigan_ - 1 This yarn is a bit pricey at £7.25 for 50g, but I think its 100% worth it. I originally bought 9 balls of yarn, and had to order an additional 3 to complete the cardigan, which makes it a pricey £87, way more than I would usually pay. Had I not been given some ‘thank you’ money from my cousin I probably wouldn’t have spent that much, but I’m so glad and I would pay it again for this yarn as it’s completely worth it! And when you look at the price of knit wear on the high street for something that’s not even 100% natural fibres, there really isn’t any contest.

Anyway, I’ll stop going on now! As the design of the cardigan is really straight forward I didn’t encounter any real problems. The only slight one was that I had forgotten to make allowances for knitting in a slightly larger needle size, so the bottom section of the cardigan was slightly wider than the top, which meant I had to do a some ‘creative’ mattress stitch to get the two to fit together. Once I had blocked the cardigan out though this was doesn’t really show (although I see it straight away!).

Overall this is my new favourite squishy woollen item and I encourage everyone to check out this yarn as it’s amazing!

Winter Woollies

Last week was a serious uphill struggle. I have the January blues, or rather, so what better way to cheer myself up (and hopefully you!) than by looking at the lovely woolly items I have knitted for winter!

Last winter I remember enviously looking at all of the glorious knitted accessories that came out with a flourish during the cold months, and was determined that next year I would knit some of my own, so I did! As a newish knitter I hadn’t quite fathomed that you always need to be knitting a season ahead if you ever want to wear it during weather appropriate months!

Black PomPom HatThe first item I knitted was this lovely Debbie Bliss cabled pompom hat. I knit this using my seemingly never ending supply of Drops Nepal that I used to knit The Black Cardi. It was my first attempt at knitting cables and I’m completely hooked! They’re so fun to knit and actually quite simple, but the end results look really impressive! I had originally planned to finish the hat in time for Festival No.6 in Wales, which resulted in me frantically trying to find a fake fur pompom at the last minute, but in the end I didn’t need it as the weather was GLORIOUS!

 I really love this hat and have worn it every day since my ears got cold. I’ve had so many compliments too and a couple of requests which is really nice!

Pink Pompom HatThe only downside to the hat is that it’s a bit large, even for my massive heid! I didn’t use the wool in the pattern and also the first part of the rib is done on the larger needles. I knit the same hat for my niece as a Christmas present, but this time knitted the whole rib on the smaller needles, removed one of the cable sets and stopped before the last decrease row. I also used Drops Alaska (in Grey Pink) which is 100% wool, as opposed to the much softer alpaca wool mix of the Drops Nepal, all of which resulted in a better shaped and better fitting hat. I knitted the pink hat in the round too which means no annoying seam down the back!

I purchased the wool for the second winter woolly en route to the festival in Wales. I somehow persuaded J to have a slight detour so I could stop off at a wool shop! I wanted to buy some Welsh wool if possible and the lovely lady at KnitOne suggested I try Colinettes Hullabaloo.  It has a streak of Welsh black wool running through it which creates a lovely tweed effect.

Hullabaloo Scarf

I decided to knit a scarf and it wasn’t until I’d finished that I realised just how beautiful this yarn is! There are so many gorgeous colours running through it, and different ones are accentuated depending on the light! I decided to knit the scarf in seed stitch and actually did the majority of the knitting on the flights to and from Mexico (distant dream!). Due to the scarf being on the short side and also the springy nature of the stitch, I decided that it would actually work better as a snood and so sewed the two ends together. I now wear it every day and its so warm and snuggly, which is a good job seeing as the weather has taken a definite cold turn!

I hope you like my winter woollies! I’m currently in the process of knitting some houndstooth mittens too, but that’s a post for another day! Hope you have lots of lovely winter woollies to keep you warm too!

A Labour Of Love

Several months ago I started a black cardigan using Drops Nepal. I chose this Rico Design pattern as I wanted a really plain and simple cardigan. I decided to use Drops Nepal instead of Rico Design Essentials Merino Aran as I’d never knitted with alpaca before and it was a bit cheaper! This was my first attempt at an adult garment and it turned out to be a really big lesson!

Soon after I began my first attempt I realised that knitting the cardigan in fisherman’s rib as the pattern wanted would end up with a much bulkier garment than I was after. So about 20 rows in I took the decision to unravel the project and start again. Little did I know this would be the first unravelling of many in this project!

The first disaster happened when I hurt my hand and ended up in a cast for five weeks.

In A Cast

This massively slowed me down. It also added to my frustration when I had to unravel my second lot of rows, about 40 in total, due to not realising that the Drops yarn was knitting up to a completely different tension compared to the Rico yarn and my cardigan was ending up huge! First lesson learnt, when supplementing yarns, check the tensions between the two and make your corrections to the pattern before you start knitting!

The second lesson I learnt was about casting off cardigan borders. My first attempt was very very tight and made the cardigan curl up at the front which looked hideous and really ruined the shape! After some deliberation I decided I had no choice and unpicked the 270 stitches of the border (a VERY tedious experience), and cast off the border again, this time on needles 2 sizes larger, as advised by Grace Peartree, after my plea to the twitter community for ideas on how to fix the problem. Second lesson learnt, for cardigan borders always cast off with larger needles!!

I blocked out my cardigan and finally it was finished, or so I thought. Que second disaster! On my first outing in the cardigan, after proudly showing it off, I was duly told that it had a hole, GUTTED!! I think it was where there had been a knot in the yarn tying two ends together which I’d just knitted over without taking any additional steps.

I spent a long time on the internet trying to find a resolution to the issue to repair the hole. In the end I decided to carefully unthread one end of the the broken strand of yarn from each stitch it was knitted in, whilst at the same time threading a new strand of yarn in its place. Once I had gone about 3cm from the break, I tied in the end then trying to follow the pattern of the yarn, threaded the yarn into the stitches it had originally broken from. When I was happy with this, I then repeated the first step on the other side, unthreading the broken yarn and threading the other end of the new piece of yarn. I tied the other end of the yarn in and the hole was repaired and the disaster averted. Third lesson learnt, even if it means starting the row again, always cut out a knot and start the row again, rather than knitting over it!!

Overall I’ve been really happy with my cardigan! Despite still needing to attach some buttons (which is why its taken me so long to write this blog post as I was waiting to do this!), I have been wearing my cardigan lots. It’s really warm and soft and the fit is perfect. The only minor issue is that it has started to bobble quite noticeably, but I think that is fairly unavoidable for yarn that is so soft. I’ve also learnt so many lessons through knitting it, I hope it lasts forever!

Black Alpaca Cardigan