thomasinaknitsheader 2

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas sweaters

I have two sweaters to talk about in this post - one finished and one just started!

I have finally completed the Argyle sweater and am pretty pleased with it. There are a couple of things which I would change if I knit it again* but I cannot contemplate alterations right now. I'm just so glad it's done! The fit is nice and stretchy and I love the finish on the 1x1 ribbed neck border. I used the Kitchener stitch bind-off (see here for great instructions with pictures) and it looks great.



It's not a great photo but the argyle pattern shows up nicely in real life. However, this is the last time that I buy yarn for a sweater because it is good value. Don't get me wrong. The yarn, Debbie Bliss merino dk, is lovely and it was very good value (£1.95 a ball, 7 balls for the sweater) and I do like navy (see below). But it's not the most thrilling or easiest colour to knit with (it just about beats black), especially on a reasonably complicated textured pattern. This took a good six months from buying the yarn to stitching the last bit of seam which is an unusually long time, even for fickle (when it comes to projects) me. I started to feel guilty every time a project which wasn't the argyle sweater went from the "On my needles" to the "Finished Objects" list which is not a good state of affairs. This is one good reason for staying away from the John Lewis sale this holiday!

* I would knit it in the specified yarn weight (aran not dk) as it's a little bit see through (I can wear a dark shirt underneath), also the sleeves are still incredibly long although I only knit to 17" not 19" (as specified in the pattern). Anna Bell must just have very long arms.

The sweater which I have just started is Anya from Rowan 40.



It has a Fairisle pattern done in Kid Classic and Kidsilk Haze, mini cables worked into the rib at the cuffs and bottom edge and a funnel neck in moss stitch. This was a Christmas present from my parents.



I picked out the pattern and yarn with Mum at John Lewis in November so it wasn't a complete surprise but it's very lovely nonetheless. I spent most of the afternoon and evening today winding yarn onto cardboard bobbins, then threading beads onto the yarn and then knitting a gauge swatch in the fairisle pattern.



I need to knit another swatch today as I'm not on gauge. However, this gives me a chance to change some of the colours around. I'm knitting in shades of blue rather than grey and the shade of Kidsilk Night which I'm using is darker in relation to the other shades than its grey equivalent. You can only just see the pattern in the widest pattern band in the picture above - what, you can't see any pattern? I thnk I'll switch the blue Kidsilk Night with the cream Kidsilk haze in some portions of the pattern. Alas this entails a lot more bead threading.

There are so many beautiful patterns in Rowan 40 that it would easily pass the four pattern rule even if it hadn't been a present. I very much like Nakita a kidsilk haze embroidered sweater, the Anna Socks (knee length socks in Rowan 4-ply soft), Grantis a crocheted scarf, Lorelei an autumnal fairisle sweater, Cobweb a Kidsilk haze mini-cardigan, and Aelf a cardigan in Kid Classic. I will not be attempting to make the Arwen ballgown, but then neither has anyone else it would seem!

Homespun

On Christmas eve and Christmas day I spun the final two tops which I bought from the Handweavers Studio stall at the Knitting and Stitching show in October. I hadn't tried this for a while and so the pink (which I spun first) is still pretty lumpy and bumpy in places. The cream went much better and is a pretty lacy laceweight I think.



I "set the twist" by winding the spun yarn into skeins, wetting it and then stretching it out with an ingenious contrivance made from two wooden coathangers and some 4 and 8 oz weights. This got rid of most of the tendency to spring back into a telephone cord like tangle and made it pretty knittable. I plied the pink yarn (again using the drop spindle) with some metallic gold thread to strengthen it and add a little sparkle.



I haven't decided yet whether or not to do the same for the cream. It worked quite well but it does make it very scratchy to knit with and (presumably) to wear.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

The mistake rib sock is finished and under the tree! That leaves only one and a bit socks to knit for just after New Year. I'm knitting a pair of Jaywalkers in the Rowan Cashsoft 4-ply and they're looking very nice so far. I'm getting very excited about Santa Claus coming as I'm pretty sure he's got some knitting goodies on board. According to NORAD (apparently they don't just track missiles) he's just across the channel in France and should touch down in the UK in about 45 minutes. Hopefully Rudolph's very shiny nose will be able to cope with the fog at Heathrow!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas stockings

Only two days to go! However, by dint of knitting "like the wind" for the past day I am one sock down and on to the toe of the next!



A bit blurry but you get the idea. The very cute background paper is from John Lewis (is there anything they don't do?).

Whilst knitting I listened to the entire Librivox recording of Rilla of Ingleside"* written by L. M. Montgomery and read by the extremely talented Karen Savage (she sings and does a British accent when required). The sock is not quite as long as could be desired (there's so much instep to knit in men's socks) but the mistake rib is lovely and chunky and the Kitchener stitch bind-off is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. There is plenty of knitting (as part of the war effort) in Rilla of Ingleside (I seem to notice knitting in books a lot more nowadays, funny that). In chapter 10 Rilla reports that:

"I finished my sixth pair of socks today. With the first three I got Susan to set the heel for me. Then I thought that was a bit of shirking, so I learned to do it myself."

When I knit my first sock about 18 months ago I remembered that passage and felt very superior as I picked up my heel stitches. No mention is made in the book as to whether or not Rilla uses the Kitchener stitch to graft the toes of her socks but as Lord Kitchener is Susan's idol it seems highly probable!

I also picked up the yarn for the final pair of Xmas socks (which do not have to be complete until the new year), Rowan Cashsoft 4-ply in a lovely berry red. I plan to knit them up in reverse garter rib. It would be great if I could work out how to do this without having to purl every other row though. Maybe if I can knit the sock inside out. I've done it before (although not from the toe up) when I started a sock with the tubular cast on and then couldn't work out how to get it right side out for the leg without reversing the direction of the round.



I suspect this shot will provoke more amusement from my knitting buddies. They couldn't stop laughing when I told them I had taken photos of my hands in the Fetching mittens whilst placing angels on the decorative twigs (see below). But don't they realise how important styling is? It gave me a great idea for a future Christmas tree anyway. Instead of presents under the tree you could just decorate it with balls of yarn then on Christmas day you would just invite people to take a ball. You could even hang those hooked Clover cable needles from the branches instead of candy canes. Of course this would only work with knitters!

*no Cast-On this week as Brenda Dayne is down with the dreaded "podcaster's throat" - I knew there had to be an occupational illness attached to podcasting!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Decorative twigs

DSCN0505

No room for a tree in the flat so we have festive decorative twigs instead. There are twinkle lights on clear flex which reflect very prettily in the glass angels and gold baubles. In my parents' house there is a beautiful fir tree, quite short but very fat with plenty of room for presents underneath and with a delicious smell.
Christmas knitting is all but done. The garter rib socks are finished (today on the train) and the two pairs of Fetchings have been knitted and given. I was pretty pleased with the pair in Alpaca Silk which I've sent off to the boyfriend's sister (I hope she doesn't mind getting gloves two years on the bounce). The yarn is more bulky than Cashmerino Aran so I decreased five stitches above the thumb by purling two together along the purl columns so that there are only 40 stitches around the hand rather than 45.

DSCN0512

Pattern: Fetching from Knitty Summer 2006
Yarn: Rowan's Tapestry
Alterations: Extra cable twist at the cuff and at the fingers.

DSCN0510

Pattern: Fetching from Knitty Summer 2006
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk Aran
Alterations: Extra cable twist at the cuff, decrease to 40 stitches over three rows above the thumb, extra cable twist at the fingers.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Back to craft sanity

There's something about this time of year that makes knitters lose all sense of proportion when it comes to setting sensible schedules and achievable targets. Two pairs of socks and a pair of Fetchings by next Wednesday? Sure, I can manage that! Luckily I came to my senses before going out and buying the yarn and have downsized my goals. Nice as it would have been to knit things for all the people I wanted to, if I was going to do that I should have started in November*, not mid-December. This leaves me with a "to knit" list of:

Two pairs Fetchings in Tapestry - deadline 20/12/06 (these are kind of optional though)
One pair garter rib socks in cashsoft dk (three-quarters done) - deadline 25/12/06
One pair mistake rib socks in alpcaca dk - deadline 26/12/06
One pair garter rib socks in cashsoft dk - deadline 02/01/06

I'd better go and buy some yarn then.

* actually I started much earlier and did in fact knit some Christmas gifts back in late summer/early autumn. But then I took a break...a long break.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Finished Object - Print O' the Wave scarf

Finished on schedule and in time for Monday's post thanks to some mad on-train knitting and last-minute blocking. I used the method recommended by the Yarn Harlot (here) which worked a treat at letting me stretch out the scarf width-ways without having to use a gazillion pins* (which I don't have). Since the yarn was so fine and the gauge so small I used some thick sewing cotton which I had originally bought to hem a pair of jeans (my sewing machine had other ideas and refused to play ball) instead of yarn. In an ideal world (in which I also would not have knit the thing on 2mm needles) I would have added a border to the long edges of the scarf as well as the short. However, the sides are lovely and straight and the little garter stitch triangles (basically entrelac base triangles in garter stitch) on the short edges look really nice. All I had to do now was wait for it to dry and hope that the teal Kidsilk haze was as colour-fast as it seemed and wouldn't leave tramlines of blue blotches on the cream futon.

Print O' the Wave in blocking



Finished Print O' the Wave



* I nearly didn't have any pins. I hunted for them for nearly half an hour before the boyfriend fished them out of the only stash bag I hadn't searched "because they won't be in there".

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Mindless Print O' the Wave

Strange as it may seem, the Print O' the Wave scarf--hereafter referred to (in Da Vinci Code trial style) as POTWS--turns out to be ideal train, TV and zombie-style insomniac knitting. This week has been a bit of a social whirl so there have been only snatched moments for knitting. On Monday evening I went out to dinner at a restaurant I have wanted to visit for ages. It's actually situated about halfway along one of our regular running club routes and so Tuesday evening around 7ish usually finds me running past this place (in the cold and dark) looking wistfully at the fairy lit exterior and candle lit interior. The only hiccup in a wonderful evening was that after about four(ish) glasses of very good wine I forgot that I don't drink caffeine and that drinking two cups of coffee on a work night was not a good plan. Having fallen asleep at 1 am I was bolt awake again at 4 and ended up sitting on the sofa for two hours between 4 and 6 knitting on the scarf and listening to England get absolutely tonked by the Aussies! The amazing thing, however, was that when I looked at the knitting I had done in those two sleep-deprived and hang-over incipient hours it was perfect. Not a yarn-over missed, not a wrongly slanting K2tog or ssk to be seen! Whereas at my running club dinner on Tuesday and at the Bluestockings on Wednesday I was very error prone. I can listen or watch and knit on this thing, I just can't talk. Luckily it's nearly done so i can go back to being sociable next week. On Thursday I cast on another jaywalker with the remaining half of the Lana Grossa self-striping. I needed an extremely portable project to take on the train to London as I was attending a black tie dinner (a computing awards presentation at the Grosvenor House Hotel) and my smart black handbag is much smaller than the all-purpose brown satchel which I use every day and somehow I didn't feel that the Knitting Bag of Doom (though it is black and I do love it) would quite suit the occasion. Anyway, the toe and the first few rounds have gone smoothly but I confess that it's a little too boring to knit the same pattern with the same yarn again so I'm on the look out for more stripe-friendly patterns.

Anyway whilst trying to find the link for a pic of the Knitting Bag of Doom I got tagged.

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Editor
2. Editorial Assistant
3. Shop Assistant
4. Waitress

Four movies I would watch over and over:
1. Shawshank Redemption
2. Fellowship of the Ring
3. Sense and Sensibility
4. Dirty Dancing
(I am just a big bowl of mush)

Four places I have lived
1. Bolton
2. Oxford
3. I guess I don't move around much
4. Sorry

Four tv shows I love to watch
1. Strictly Come Dancing
2. The West Wing
3. Torchwood
4. Doctor Who (my inner child hides behind the sofa)

Four places I have been on vacation
1. Paris
2. Copenhagen
3. Grasmere
4. Rome

Four websites visited daily
1. bbc.co.uk
2. Yarn Harlot
3. Knitty.com
4. The Panopticon

Four of my favourite foods
1. Bacon hotpot
2. Creme brulee
3. G&D's pistachio ice-cream
4. Rachel's Organic low fat rhubarb yogurt

Four places I would rather be right now
1. Bed (in my bedroom)
2. Bed (in a snug B&B)
3. Bed (in a palatial hotel)
4. Bed (in a country cottage)
(It's one-fifteen in the morning--what do you expect?)

If you're reading this and you've not already taken part - you're IT!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Craft insanity

The project: Print o' the Wave lace scarf
The yarn: Kidsilk haze
The needles: 2mm
The deadline: December 12th (eek)



My (somewhat lame) excuse for breaking the "no new yarn, no new projects" resolution (below) is that it's for a present. My aunt is having a round number birthday on December 12th and I saw this yarn whilst Christmas shopping in John Lewis. I'm not knitting the full Print o' the Wave stole (I'm mad not stupid) but this is still a sizeable challenge for me. So far approximately 8 hours of knitting has produced abuot 12 inches of scarf and I think I need at least 48 (plus edging) to make a decent scarf. These are the smallest needles I have ever knit with (luckily Hobbycraft was all out of the 1.75mm needles recommended by the pattern) and I'm quite impressed that I'm coping. There have been a few nasty moments when I've had to unknit a row or two but progress is mostly smooth.

I have at least managed to complete two of the UFOs that have been hanging about my knitting bag, the Lana Grossa Jaywalkers and the pink Koigu Whitewater lace socks and turned the green cashmerino into one and a half Seaside fingerless gloves, so some progress has been made.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Resolutions

A month or so earlier than is traditional but there's no time like the present.

I will finish everything that is currently on my needles before casting on anything new. That means:

  • Finishing the fronts of the Argyle sweater and making it up.
  • Ripping back and reknitting the bottom ribbing of my stripy sweater in Kid Classic and doing something with the neck.
  • Finishing the jaywalker socks I just started.
  • Adding a head to the Debbie Bliss teddy bear I started this weekend.
  • Finishing off the UK alpaca crocheted thing and finding a use for it (not big enough for a blanket, not long enough for a scarf, maybe a cushion?)

I will use what I have before buying anything new*. That mainly means:

  • Finding a use for the Rowan linen tape - I'm thinking bag?, rug?, oven-gloves?, shelf-runner? (other ideas/patterns gratefully accepted).
  • Knitting something out of the Colinette Giotto (the stuff I feel so bad about it lives away from the other stash under the bed).
  • Finally make a pair of socks that I actually wear from the bright pink Koigu.
  • Knit something out of all the odds and ends that are left over from various projects. (Probably a few pairs of Mrs. Beetons and some Innocent hats.)

Then and only then will I move onto exciting things like spinning the two remaining tops and knitting something from the fluffy angora.

In the meantime to assuage my craving for knitting newness here's what a few of the girls were knitting last night at the Bluestockings meeting:

Abby demonstrates her amazing ability to knit with ten balls of yarn and drink wine at the same time!

and here's what she was knitting


Kate shows off her lace cardigan whilst preserving her own anonymity!

Ellen is thrilled with the way her sweater is going.

Despite warnings about their addictive properties Ruth is knitting her first pair of Fetching hand warmers.

Katie is knitting a shawl with what currently looks like blue string but will turn into the most amazingly soft cashmere after washing.


New member Lucia is knitting a sweater for her boyfriend from Rowan Wool Cotton

And this is me—a pair of socks (naturellement).


Kirsty (of whom I didn't get a shot) was continuing to knit the now legendary Wonder Woman sweater and Aimee (whose knitting turned out kind of blurry, or maybe that's just how angora looks when photographed) was casting on a pair of hand-warmers.

*At this point the boyfriend said he'd believe it when he saw it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

This weekend I...

...visited the "Global Market" which arrived in town.

These (extremely toothsome) tartes were my only purchase. Much as I wanted a hand carved wooden clothes rack to hang stuff on, the boyfriend pointed out that £50 for unvarnished wood was possibly a bit steep!

...finished a baby hat and matching socks.

These were such a quick knit that they didn't even make it onto the "On my needles" section. The pattern is from The Baby Knits Book by Debbie Bliss and I knit them in some leftover Rowan Calmer (less than a full ball for a pair of socks and the hat) on 4mm needles and 4mm dpns. I hope they will still fit the intended baby, I don't really know how fast babies grow.

...enjoyed the autumn leaves.

This doesn't fully represent how lovely all the trees are looking at the moment. I do like autumn!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Chocolate cheesecake

Having made a cheesecake on Monday that I didn't get to eat (I donated it to a charity quiz) I decided to make another cheesecake on Wednesday evening for the pot-luck lunch I go to on Thursdays. I adapted the recipe for the London Cheesecake from Nigella Lawson's Domestic Goddess by using 4 whole eggs instead of 3 eggs and 3 egg yolks (works just as well I promise) and by adding 3 heaped tsps of Green & Blacks cocoa powder to the biscuit base and 6 heaped tsps of cocoa to the cheesecake mix instead of the lemon and vanilla. I also melted half a bar of Green & Blacks dark chocolate with the sour cream and sugar (again omitting the vanilla) for the topping. Next time around I would probably add a little more sugar to the cheesecake mix to balance out the bitterness of the cocoa and I would warm the chocolate topping mixture gently just before adding it to the cake to make it easier to pour. Otherwise I would say it was rather a success, judging by the way the slices disappeared.
Slightly blurry but you get the idea!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Busy weekend

I finished the entrelac cushion on Saturday morning. All it had needed was the back fabric to be machine stitched to the knitted front and some sort of opening created. I chose an overlapping flap (like a pillow case) in the end, partly due to not having got my act together enough to go and buy a matching zip-fastener, however it looked very nice and there was even a spare cushion pad of the right size floating around my parent's house. Anyway, it now has pride of place on Grandma's old chair in the living room. I hadn't originally intended to give it away but it just looked so much better there than it ever would on our manky green sofa. Plus I can enjoy it whenever I go up there.

I also (shouts of hurray) finished the sleeves on the Argyle sweater so that is almost (but not quite) finished too. Sadly when I went to sew the right shoulder together ready to do the neck ribbing I decided that I really did have to fix the (somewhat drastic) mistake I had made in the neck edge decreases and set about ripping back. Only to the start of the armhole though and as it is a v-neck I don't think it will take too long to repair. A good thing too because it just keeps on getting colder around here!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Finished objects—Butterfly Wings Socks & Dulaan hat

There's really nothing like wearing hand-knit socks all day to make you feel good. Although I have knit many many pairs of socks I only have about 4 or 5 pairs that I can actually wear with shoes as regular socks. The rest are bedsocks, or sofa socks, beautiful chunky things in dk or aran which compensate for the lousy heating in our flat. Anyway, hopefully I should have three more pairs of "regular" socks very soon. I'm about to cast-on a pair of entrelac socks (if I can get my head round the concept) with the Lana Grossa from Ally Pally. I figure this should make two pairs since I can get a pair of socks from a single (50g) skein of Lorna's Laces. I also still have the abortive pink koigu from which I must make something, anything!

Also finished last week was the ribbed hat I knit at our knitting group's mini Dulaan knit-in. I'm also knitting a pair of mittens in the same wool--Debbie Bliss Merino dk--which is very soft and hopefully warm.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Get it finished Friday

Inspired by Christine Selleck of the Pointy Sticks podcast I had my very own version of "get it finished Friday" on the train up north this weekend. I took with me the 5 or so inches of Argyle sleeve which had been hanging around at the bottom of a plastic bag for several weeks and turned it into an almost complete sleeve by Saturday lunchtime, at which point I ran out of yarn, a failure of forward planning and packing on my part. In fact the overall knitting shortage - I brought a jumper sleeve and the toe of the second butterfly sock (which is now knit up to the ankle) - had got quite worrying by Sunday morning leading me to schedule a sneaky trip into town with Mum on the way to the train station. Our local department store has either just started to stock yarn and knitting supplies or they've started to display it more prominently. Apparently they have Rowan although I don't yet know which yarns they have, the extent of the detail that Mum could supply was "big balls and smaller ones".

Butterflies
This sock is knit using the Butterfly Wings stitch pattern from the Harmony Guide to Knitting Stitches 2 which I found in Oxfam for £2.49. You can't really see the butterfly wings very well in this yarn (Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Vera which I picked up at the Knitting and Stitching show), on the other hand you also can't see the two mistakes on the instep of the first foot which I made before I realised that I should follow the pattern in my knitting, rather than in the book.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Abingdon Marathon 2006

I have a warm glow (and extremely sore legs) after completing my first marathon on Sunday. The race took place in and around Abingdon, a very pretty town on the Thames with an excellent wool shop (Mason's). The weather was mostly fine, despite the horrendous forecast the night before and I made a pretty good time around the course finishing in 4:04:51 (yay!) which was much better than I had anticipated. I'm now very much on track for London in the spring and really looking forward to it.

Me crossing the finish line

Post-race drink

Monday, October 23, 2006

Knitting and Stitching Show 2006—Part 2

Even after several drafts I still couldn't quite create a single homogenous post combining what I bought and the K&S Show with what I did and saw there. So, two posts. I arrived at Ally Pally (very excited) at about 11.30ish on Friday morning and spent about a half-hour scoping out the lay of the land—important things such as the locations of Get Knitted and Loop and (less excitingly but no less vital) where the loos were. I then got the call to say that Katie and Lara (friends don't let friends loose on a yarn show on their own!) had arrived and we set about traversing the main hall in a very orderly search and rescue style grid pattern. Favourite stands included: UK Alpaca where I spent about 5 minutes thrusting alpaca fibre at Katie and Lara and saying "Have you felt this!" (Lara later succumbed to the fibre); Laughing Hens, whose gorgeous Rooster (the yarn not the bird) covered sofa we collapsed onto at several points; 21st Century Yarns where I fingered the tiny silk skeins for embroidery and got dangerously enthused about the possibilities for miniture knitting and Foreign Strand which had Monkey Sticks and the gorgeous Namasté vintage knitting bag (as seen here) and buffalo yarn—a seriously tempting proposition until I noticed the £40 (per skein) price label. Plus it only comes in brown! It was a really lovely day out. I saw loads of beautiful and interesting things and tried spinning for the first time (more on this later). And now, some photos...

Lara and Katie on the Laughing Hens sofa

Lara and Katie meet Sarah Dallas


I did also have a shot without a random person in the foreground but Lara was looking rather serious in it.

Rooster yarn and cushions at Laughing Hens

I also wish I'd taken pictures of Lara and myself being taught to use a drop spindle and the fabulous knitted bunting at Laughing Hens and just more yarn generally. Still there's always next year!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Knitting and Stitching Show 2006—Alexandra Palace

I bought

Five balls of Aarlan 70% angora
This is just so soft and pretty I had to have it. I had been wanting to knit something in angora since watching The Black Dahlia and coveting the lovely angora sweaters in Monsoon. Sadly they only had five balls left in the cream but I think that will be enough for a mini-cardi along the lines of Elspeth.

Buttons and beads
Whenever I see bead and button stalls all my magpie instincts come to the fore. They're just pretty and shiny and I especially like the fishy bead. I think the black buttons will go on a pair of felted slippers which I plan to make from an old pink sweater and the black and pink beads can go on the fingerless gloves from last month's Magknits.

Lana Grossa and Lorna's Laces sock yarn from Get Knitted
I saw this quite early on in the day but managed to restrain myself until about 5pm. The Lorna's Laces is going to be a pair of entrelac socks (if I can work out the heel) and I think the Lana Grossa will just be a plainish garter rib, possibly the same stitch pattern as the International Sock of Doom.

A drop spindle and some tops from the Hand Weavers Studio
Lara and I finally found someone who would show us how to use a drop spindle at the Hand Weaver's Studio. They also had huge basketfuls of these gorgeous little tops at 50p a shot so I was able to get a spinning starter's kit for just £5. I've already spun the bright pink, the orange and the burgundy and I feel I'm slowly improving. Hopefully by the time I've got through the white and the rose I might be good enough to be let loose on the good stuff! Hipknits has some gorgeous silk/merino in the most beautiful hand-dyed colours.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Elspeth cardi

This has been finished for weeks but I only presented it to Mum for her birthday on Tuesday so I've been keeping it under wraps (my mum knows where my blog is!). As a birthday treat we visited London and had tea at Liberty (where I was very restrained in front of the Jaeger Matchmaker 4-ply) and mooched round Covent Garden and finally wound up at the Royal Opera House where we drank champagne at the Perrier Jouet champagne bar (ooh swish!) and saw Darcey Bussell in the first of three one act ballets. A jolly nice time was had by all!

The cardi is knit with 3 and a bit balls of Rowan Calmer on size 5mm needles. It was a relatively quick and simple knit, although I occasionally tripped up on lining up the pattern repeats with the decreases. It's a really sweet little cardi and I'm very tempted to make one for myself in a different yarn. Maybe they'll have angora at the show tomoz!
I'm extremely excited about going to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally tomorrow. The show guide arrived on Monday and I spent a half hour leafing through it and going "ooh!". I'm very eager to check out HipKnits and Cherry Tree Hill yarns and am toying with the idea of buying a spindle.

I have a few small things on the go at the moment. I finally gave up on the Pomatomus socks. I loved the pattern and the colour. I just wasn't keen on them as socks. Anyway, I'm using the yarn to knit the Whitewater wristwarmers pattern from the October issue of Magknits as socks and it's working out really nicely. I also have a third pair of Fetching gloves on the dpns (I don't know why I've been misnomering them as "Fresh" for the last few weeks—really no idea!) this time in cream. Finally I've nearly finished a square of entrelac in the Rowan tapestry. I'm going to add a triangular border and then back it with some fabric to create a cushion. I seem to have completely stalled on the Argyle sweater. It's completely cold enough for woolly jumpers now but it still has no sleeves! I really need to force myself to do something about that but I keep getting distracted by prettier yarns (damn navy blue!).

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Why thankyou, it is pretty isn't it

"It" being the new blog header*. The photo is the first peek at the loveliness that comes from combining Rowan Tapestry in Pot Pourri (whatever happened to great Rowan shade names like Raw and Storm and Bear?) and entrelac, something which I'd wanted to try since seeing this. I now have about a 12 inch square of knitting and I've decided to make a cushion. It's just not quite wide enough to make a really satisfying wrap but making it any wider would require much more yarn (about 5 balls?) and I'd have to rip out what I have. There was enough heart wrenching the first time I did that, after realising that 100 cast-on stitches would be far too many. Anyhow, I just need to complete the last row of rectangles and then the final triangle row and then decide on a backing fabric and how it's all going to come together. It's been a pretty speedy knit. I cast-on on Saturday after practicing the method with a bit of baby cashmerino (which I also used for my provisional cast-on) and knit about 1 and a half rows of rectangles before working out (as aforementioned) how much yarn it would take at that width. I ripped back all the rectangles and half the base triangles and then started knitting again from there. The great thing about entrelac is that you have all these little self-contained squares of knitted fabric so if you screw up it's really easy to go back to a certain point without the danger of losing all your stitches. I knit the bulk of the square in a marathon train journey from Bolton to Oxford via Crewe, Tamworth and Birmingham New Street (in that order!). The relief when I finally got on a train which was going to Oxford! Huge thanks to Brenda Dayne of Cast-on and Carrie Anne Dennison of BritKnitCast for keeping me in a zen-like state of calm for the 5¾ hour journey.

* I nearly forgot to say "thankyou" to my boyfriend who picked out the coordinating colours for the background and lettering. When we get our own place he is definitely going to be in charge of the paint charts.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

This week I have...

Finished one pair of Fresh glovelets.

Knit one half of the next pair


Eaten the first ripe pepper from the garden

Bought some Tapestry from my local yarn shop and started knitting an entrelac stole (or possibly cushion)

The colourway is gorgeous, ranging from dusky rose, through tawny pinks and oranges to a steely grey. It's a wool and soy fibre mix which gives it such an unusual feel. I'm knitting ten rectangles of ten stitches and have done a provisional cast on so I can do a triangle border. I only bought two balls of yarn so I'm going to measure the stole after the first ball and if it looks like a stole will be way too expensive it can be a big square cushion. I think it would look great with the triangle edging and a reverse side in a deep slubby silk or something similar.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sock Wars Update

The Socks of Doom arrived in the post on Tuesday morning making me officially dead as far as Sock Wars goes. It was fun whilst it lasted. As a consolation I also received the excellent Knitting Bag of Doom from Lilith my assassin. Thankyou so much. It is very cool and drew much admiration at the Bluestockings meeting last night.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Happy Birthday to you!

In honour of the boyfriend's birthday. The cake recipe is from Nigella's How to Eat (I find that a knife and fork generally gets it done for me!), the sparkly cake board is from Lakeland Limited and the impossibly cute candles are from Sylvester's.

Putting my feet up!



I finished the second sock at around 1.30pm (BST) on Sunday afternoon. This is me checking that the socks will fit—they're a bit big for me so I hope that means that they will fit a US size *. Tsarlingfeld's socks are in the mail! I was feeling a little guilty at the thought of sending out killer socks first thing on Monday morning but I needn't have been as she has also been knitting "like the wind"! I am, however, I little worried about my yarn choice as DK alpaca seems a little warm for California—does it ever get cold out there? I feel like I'm going to be an early casualty of war though. My assassin, tigerlilith, has got her socks finished and is UK based (gah!). I love the colour though and they're knitted in cashmerino (yay).

The only thing about this competition is that the socks take longer to post than they do to knit. Won't that mean that everyone will have knit a pair of socks and sent them off before anyone receives any? Clapotis wars anyone?

Friday, September 22, 2006

S-day!

I've been spending the morning alternating between yarnmonkey's site to see if the pattern is up yet and the BBC to check the Ryder Cup scores. So far, no pattern and the scores are level at 1.5—1.5. I'm just waiting for the last four-ball result to come in. I've been passing the time by knitting a gauge tube. My gauge is usually the same as published patterns and I haven't yet had to use different needles from the ones suggested but you never know what tension the yarnmonkey will get from knitting with those tiny monkey paws. And no opposable thumbs either!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

S-day minus 1

I have the yarn, my needles are freed-up and I'm ready to go as soon as the pattern is posted. I finished knitting the toe of the first Pom mk2 sock at lunchtime today after knitting practically the whole of the foot whilst watching The Black Dahlia last night after the Bluestockings meeting. I just need to Kitchener stitch the toe this evening then I'm one sock down, one to go. I've cast on a further pair of Fresh glovelets - they're just so cute and I love the yarn. And I've actually bought a further ball of Cashmerino Aran after that for a third pair in cream. It's going to be handwarmers for everyone this Christmas!

The Black Dahlia (2006)
Dir. Brian de Palma
Scarlett Johansson
Josh Hartnett
Aaron Eckhardt
Hilary Swank
Plot complexity rating: stocking stitch in the round with the caveat that you may want something slightly bigger than a sock to hide behind during the grisly moments

From a knitting point of view the high point of the film was definitely Scarlett Johansson's wardrobe. Her character wears a fantastic succession of champagne and oyster coloured twinsets and her final scene is in a gorgeous white (either mohair or angora) mini-sweater.

Obviously I won't be taking on anything new until after Sock Wars. However, when it's over I want to knit
this. Last night Ruth announced that she would be knitting it when she had finished her current project, I wasn't familiar with the pattern so when I came across the link today I followed it. I think I'd like to make a striped version—something bold like red and white or blue and white (either that or I'll end up in my usual pink through brown palette).

Monday, September 18, 2006

Fa—a long, long way to run!

I still have show tunes stuck in my head from watching the final of "Maria" on Saturday, especially "Do—a deer" which I sung to myself for the majority of my 18 mile training run on Sunday in preparation for the Abingdon Marathon. I find that getting a piece of music on repeat in your head, especially one with a regular beat and simple lyrics is fantastic for helping to regulate pace and breathing over long distances. You can also judge how tired you are and whether you need an energy boost by seeing if you can remember all the lyrics. I tend to forget "La—a note to follow so" when dead-beat. As well as discovering the ultimate power-tune this weekend I also found this gem of a site Map My Run which lets you plots your favourite runs, add in symbols for water breaks and toilets and tells you how long the distance is. I'm particularly chuffed with the site as it informed me that I'd actually run 19.7 miles (rather than the intended 18) which not only means that I'm speedier than I thought (yay) but also that I don't have to think of another 2 miles to add on to my next long run.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Finished baby stuff

From the front with the Koigu bootees



Back view with i-cord tie.


Just the bootees.

I've finally solved a styling problem which has been bothering me slightly for some time. There are no attractive surfaces or backdrops in the flat. There's just yellow wallpaper (very
Charlotte Perkins Gilman) and brown carpet). Anyway, when laying out the latest lot of finished items it hit me. Wrapping paper! I had bought some gorgeous paper from )Sylvester's (the one stop shop for great presents) in order to wrap the items so i spread it out and weighted it down and presto! I love the patchwork elephants.