I first saw this cardigan on the cover of the Toft Quarterly Winter 2016 magazine and immediately loved it. I’ve eyed up a few lace back cardigans in the past, but I liked this as the lace wasn’t too fussy and different from most lace I have seen.
For Christmas 2013 I got this amazing knitting book called Animal Hats by Vanessa Mooncie which has loads of knitting patterns for different animal hats, and from that point started a year long obsession with knitting animal hats for small people!
I started knitting the hats in June, but had actually spent much longer consulting with the small people to find out which one they wanted and also deciding the best yarns to use! In the end I used Drops Alaska and Drops Boucle for all of the hats, as this yarn is really well priced and so far I haven’t been disappointed with the quality.
The hats all use the same basic hat pattern, which knits up really quickly, and you then knit each of the cute features as per your chosen animal. The bits that took the longest were actually the pompoms and the tassles, soooo fiddly, but definitely worth it.
All of the hats were finished with cotton fleece fabric to make them nice and snuggly. I left this bit to the last minute, which was probably a bit of a mistake as I’d never used fleece before, and they all had to be hand sewn into the hats!
The buttons I got from a haberdashery in Soho. These also took a surprising amount of time to find. Sorting through fiddly buttons in a crowded haberdashery was not as much fun as I thought it was going to be!
I’m sooo happy with the end results! I think the rabbits are my favourites. The boucle cheeks are really soft and I find their floppy ears irresistible! Thankfully the small people loved the hats as much as I did (although one took a while to come round!) and I’ve had lots of pictures of them wearing them which is really lovely!
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!
The 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!
The 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.
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!
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.
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!
I’ve fallen in love with these AMAZING Nordic mittens using Drops Lima from Garn Studio. They’re knit in the round using four 50g balls of this alpaca and wool blend DK yarn. Having previously fallen in love with Drops Nepal ( Lima’s heavier weight aran sister) I can’t wait to get started on these! I’m hoping they’ll also be a good introduction to knitting in the round and knitting from a chart. And with the pattern being free and the yarn available for the bargain price of £2.00 a ball from Wool Warehouse I don’t have to worry too much about completely messing them up!!