Saturday, 6 October 2007

Bead Auditions - Close Ups

I made this sample to test which beads work with my yarn. The wrap pattern is going to include areas of lace, complimented by some accent areas of beads - it won't be beaded all over in the same way as this swatch.

Interestingly, I am struggling to select what beads to use, as they all give quite a different effect - I like more than one effect, for some different reasons.

I am conscious that my final choice will influence whether my wrap ends up being more day or evening wear. I have never owned a wrap before (but I picture myself using this on chilly summer evenings), so I have asked the question, 'When would you wear a wrap?'

The majority answer seemed to be, 'Evening'.

I also asked people which beads they would select (yes, my swatch has travelled around with me to work, family events and to knitting groups) and views are polarised equally between two very different beads.

So if you read this post and you would like to contribute your view in a comment, I would love to know what you think. Luckily, some of my beads ruled themselves out via the process of working the sample. I will explain why below.

Picture 1 Left: Gutterman Sewing Beads - ruled out - too small, they simply vanished into the fabric of the knitting.

Picture 1 Centre: Jaeger Frosted Red Knitting Beads - ruled out - once handled, they lose some of their frosted appearance (which is far nicer, actually) but again, they disappear into the fabric.

Picture 1 Right: Acrylic Beads - ruled out - simply because the shop advised that they lose their finish after a while. It is a shame because they are a good colour match and several people picked them out as their favourite beads. They glow like little Christmas Tree baubles. I sampled with them because I was sure that I could find venetian glass beads with a similar finish...nope, not found any yet.

Picture 2 Left: 3mm Red Glass Beads, combined with Gutterman Sewing Beads - Lead Bead and Configuration Contender Number 1! I am drawn to these beads because they are a sympathetic shape, a close colour match to the yarn and shiny without being sparkly.

However (to me), they start to vanish when you look at them in artifical or gloomy light so using these would make the wrap a little bit more day wear? Interestingly Robynn said that these were the first ones that stood out for her in the swatch (she saw it at 19:30 in the National Theatre Bar, gloomy and under artifical light) so maybe I am wrong!

Picture 2 Centre: 5mm Red Glass Beads - ruled out - actually I love these and this effect. I am just not sure that it works for this project. They were a bit too big to sit on a single stitch as they distorted the stitches around them but I love how they work on two stitches with the holes either side. The bead hole is a bit too small, so they are wedged in place. Hmm, glass bead Vs 2 ply cashmere? I think that they might saw through the cashmere fibres after a while?!

Picture 2 Right: Jaeger Frosted Red Knitting Beads - still ruled out - These are threaded on two stitches too. I think that they work better here but they are still not right for this project. They sit more loosely on the two stitches and as a result, travel easily out of position.

Picture 3 Left (Light Siam) and Centre (Siam): Swarovski Crystal Beads - Lead Bead Configuration Contender Number 2!

The siam colour looks okay in this picture but in real life, it is too dark and contrasty against the yarn. The light siam is a closer colour match to the yarn, so it is little less conspicuous during the day while twinkling happily at night.

Completely polarised feedback from people on these beads, compared with the other leading choice. They either really liked these, feeling that they stood head and shoulders above any other beads in the swatch - or they prefered the unfaceted 3mm red glass beads.

While I do not find the shape of these beads as sympathetic as the unfaceted ones, it cannot be denied that they are sparkly, both day and night. They stand out well against the yarn - are they elegant or would the result be a little bit chavvy?

Two very different contenders that give two very different effects. Stuck but I need to make a decision, so all input very welcome!

I have posted some more bead close ups on Flickr and the slideshow is here, if you would like to go see!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

CC Wrap: Gourmet Bead Platter

I enjoy having guests over for dinner (or supper, if you prefer).

Sometimes, I stress over the menu and worry about my cooking but you know, on reflection (having taken the photos below), I sort of reckon that it might be possible to get away with serving something out of a tin, as long as there's a bit of candlelight, some gentle background music, good wine and a modicum of presentation?!

A platter designed for the discerning knitter...

...settling down to enjoy... ...a closer look at what is what...
...and finally, the evening's debris...

...indicates a platter enjoyed.

Ahh, there is nothing quite like contributing to the world of gastro blogging, is there?! I will post close ups when I have better light.

I do have stories of guerilla cooking but in the event that I ever invite you over to dinner, in defence of my culinary skills, it's quite safe - no need to pack sandwiches.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Yarn Arrival: Order - Abject Chaos - Order

My Posh Yarn for the Castle Couture wrap has arrived from Dee and it is gorgeous.

It is slightly more intense in colour than the yarn that I have been using for swatching - that is not a complaint! It is just by way of explanation that my project yarn looks to have a vibracy that my swatch yarn did not have, so I cannot wait to cast it on and see how it knits up!
You will notice from the photos below that every time I try to photograph this yarn, my camera seems to saturate itself with the intensity of the yarn colour. This is not some 'my head has disappeared up my own backside' statement - it is just that I have noticed that in some pictures, it seems to glare and pull the overall image of the yarn out of focus. (Although that might be my lack of a tripod as well.)

So here you are - from the order of the skeins received - through the chaos incurred by ball winding with a swift (including a fair bit of skein untangling) - and back again to the order of centre pull balls, all prepared and ready for use:

1. Working out how to order the skeins for use (plus comparing project and swatch colours)!

2. Ball winder and swift looking deceptively orderly.

3. Truth starts to reveal itself towards the end of the first skein.

4. Disaster strikes towards the end of the second skein.

4. Some time is spent painstakingly untangling the end of the second skein. Really.
5. It is all worthwhile in the end...

Friday, 10 August 2007

CCC Wrap - Yarn Auditions

This is a long post. With pictures. After all, I have been knitting swatches for this wrap for the past six months, on and off, auditioning different yarns and stitch patterns!

The swatches have ended up being tucked between other projects just because it has taken a long time to find the right yarn, stitch pattern and construction technique for my wrap.

It's been an odd journey, getting this far:

1) Competition win.

2) Decide that this is the project for my prize yarn.

3) Ignore that and knit the CCC Hat.

4) Buy Debbie Bliss silk and work swatches:

    Stocking stitch sample

Lace sample

5) Wince at samples, take remainder of Debbie Bliss silk back, obtain refund.

6) Wonder what yarn to try next and knit something else completely (as you do).

7) Buy Jaeger DK Silk, work swatches:

    Rib sample

7) Reflect that yarn weight would result in blanket weight wrap. Frog and allocate yarn to another project.

8) Knit something else completely (as you do).

9) Decide to drop a gauge from dk to 4-ply, so purchase some Posh Yarn, hand dyed Eva 4-ply cashmere silk.

10) The most gobsmackingly beautiful yarn arrives in the most amazing colour - in awe, race out to garden and take photographs of skeins as yarn art:

11) Work swatch, scratch head at texture of knitted result (for this project), put swatch aside, enthusiasm dribbling away and despair quietly:

Samples both knitted on 3.75mm needles

12) In a last ditch attempt, stretch hand into stash, pull out Posh Yarn, hand dyed Sophia 2ply cashmere in Buttons colourway (purchased to be used double in a scarf).

13) Gulp nervously as not ever used lace weight yarn before, grit teeth and start swatch.

14) Keep knitting and find I am unable to stop - realise that not only have I found right yarn (I had it all along), the colour works perfectly for my stitch pattern too:

Lace sample in Posh Yarn, Sophia 2 ply

15) Try not to panic as it is clear that I do not have enough yarn to complete the full wrap.

16) I calmly buy Oh La La colourway from Dee, ask her to post it to me on holiday, set off to meet it -fully equipped with needles, beads and good intentions.

17) Sadly Oh La La turns out to be a bit orange and the collective decision from friends is that it does not suit me at all. I am all but drowned on holiday, no knitting is done and the only thing I achieve is the safe return of Oh La La to Dee:

    Buttons colourway constrasted with Oh La La

    18) Rather than a refund, I requested a custom order for something in a colourway a bit closer to Buttons.

    19) Dee is on the case, so I have now taken photos of some of my swatches and updated you all, so that you are caught up on progress to date.

    20) Until my yarn arrives, it's difficult to start the bead auditions. However, I may need to practice the technique that I want to use on my evergrowing swatch. I'll let you know how it goes.

    Sunday, 5 August 2007

    Castle Couture Wrap

    My second Castle Couture project is the Essential Summer Wrap!

    This garment is billed in the Castle Couture Catalogue as:

    - structured yet lightweight; and

    - a delight to wear on chill summer evenings.

    It's scary (not just the image of this cat swathed in something it would be hard put to walk in, let alone leap over garden walls) but I have spent the last month or two swatching for this wrap. I have auditioned four different types yarn and a number of stitch techniques to achieve the effect that I want.

    My ideas have evolved a lot since December - photos and further explanation to follow. Honest!

    Tuesday, 5 June 2007

    CCC Hat - A Snippet!

    I hereby solemnly promise to finish the accessory for this hat as quickly as possible so that I can take proper photos of the whole project and get everything over to Robynn.

    However, in the meantime here is a snippet of it being worn by a relative with complementary hair colour!

    I can honestly say that I enjoyed knitting this hat - I think that it was watching its shape grow as I worked and the sparkle of the wool when the sunlight caught it!

    So if you fancy a hat and you have a couple of balls of RYC Soft Lux left over from another project - try not lose them or give them away!

    Thursday, 31 May 2007

    Eight Random Things!

    Rules: 1. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves. 2. People who are tagged write a blog post about their own 8 random things and post these rules. 3. At the end of your blog you need to tag 8 people and post their names. 4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment to tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

    • I am perfectly ordinary.
    • Sunshine really and truly does lift my mood.
    • I like to start each day with tea and hot buttered toast.
    • I do not read enough, so I feel very badly informed.
    • I am drawn to water, I find it very calming.
    • I love flowers. I particularly like scented garden roses - their smell, intensity of colour and careless abundant blooms. Not stiff starchy, no-smell florist ones.
    • My favourite colour varies according to my mood - sometimes it is the pinks - purples colour range that draws me, at other times it is deep burgundy reds-plums. However, at other times I head straight and unerringly towards blues, teals, turquoise and greens.
    • My brother once gave me a pet log.

    I do not have anyone to tag, who has not been tagged already! So if you read this and would like to join in - please do!

    I have been offline for a while, hence the silence, busy doing Other Things. I have finished the CCC hat but I am waiting for a specific kind of pin to arrive in order to finish it off - I have worked out what the knitted accessory needs to be but I want to gather together all the components I need before I start putting it together. Fingers crossed!

    In the meantime, Dee (Posh Yarns) has dyed some yarn for my next CCC project - I am very very excited about it! Pictures of some 4-Ply cashmere and silk coming very soon!