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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Finished Objects - Jaeger alpaca socks

In a fit of inspiration I finally finished off the second "Patsy" sock on Tuesday evening. Given that I cast this on during extra time in the England–Portugal game this sock has been hanging around on my needles for a long time. I think the reason it took so long is that the yarn is so light and fine that the needles (3.25mm dpns) seem disproportionately heavy and so the inactive needles are always pulling on the stitches. However, it was worth all the discomfort as I've been wearing them all day and they are super cosy and a lovely fit. I should probably me a little depressed that it's cool enough for alpaca socks already on the last day in August but actually I'm thinking "bring it on!". I already have plans to knit the "Birch Leaves" socks in the remainder of the grey alpaca. I had planned to do these with the green baby cashmerino but it's just too chunky really. On Wednesday evening with the support of the Bluestockings I finished knitting and cast-off the 720 stitches of the first half of the potato chip scarf in the Be Sweet mohair. After wearing my half a scarf home and trying it on with the jacket I decided that I wanted to knit the double ruffle scarf so picked up ninety stitches along the short edge in the chocolate mohair. I'm so happy with the way it's turning out that I may knit another one as a Christmas present. I think either a single ruffle in the same yarn or a double ruffle in a (slightly) cheaper yarn. Keen as I am to support independent yarn stores, I'm not that keen.
On the pottery front the pig has been picked up from the Pottery Café (thankyou Sara) and we may be reunited next week. I'm very eager to see how it's turned out after the firing.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Potato chips

Last night I cast on the gorgeous Be Sweet mohair boucle which I bought at Loop on the hen day. Amazingly it is just as lovely on the needles as in the ball (that almost never happens to me) and I can't wait to finish and actually wear the scarf. I'm knitting the Potato chip scarf found on the Knitpicks site (just Google for it) and it's perfect for the yarn. The only fly in the chardonnay is that I wussed out of buying a 7mm circular needle between Bowness and Windermere (my boyfriend was giving me dirty looks due to the fact that we were 1 mile up a steep 1½ mile hill carrying 60 litre rucksacks on our way back to the station). This means that I cast on 90 stitches on 2 straight needles and am now up to 720 stitches (which seems too many to be right but my maths assures me it is) over 3 straight needles. I definitely need that big circular needle, if only for the safety of those around me! The lack of photos is getting embarrassing so here are the black Jaywalkers which I gave to my Dad for his birthday at the weekend.

Photos at last

The beautiful Be Sweet boucle mohair (mohair boucle? I don't know which order those two go in) which I bought from Loop!

The finished article! The jacket isn't quite this shiny in real life.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What I did on my holidays...

For a start, I knitted. Lots and lots.
On the train up north I cast on the Baby Cashmerino socks on my new Addis and started to get to grips with knitting two socks at once. However, when I say grip, I suspect that the deathlike vice in which I held my needles may not have been the most conducive grip to ensure even tension and avoid cramping. So far I'm not finding it the most comfortable experience but I hope to persevere. I think part of the problem is that the sizing (60sts on 3mm needles) already appears a little large. I didn't plan to knit that many stitches, but between being unable to work out what kind of pattern to knit and trying to keep the number of stitches on each sock even (stitch markers to mark the beginning of each rounf are in order here I think) I just ended up with that many. The problem now is that I'm not sure I can bear to rip back both socks (the hidden pain of knitting two socks at once) and start over.
Two trains and a bus ride later we had arrived in Grasmere and I was feeling the pangs of RSI. With autumn lurking just around the corner I felt inspired to pick up the Anna Bell Argyle sweater again. Over the long weekend I managed to finish the front and knit about 6 inches of sleeve (yay). The front has a slight (unintentional, though happily symmetrical) variation on the pattern. I somehow managed to miss the instruction "on RS" when decreasing for the neck shaping so it's more of a heart- than a V-shaped neck. I think (fingers crossed) that it will still look and fit ok and as the pattern is correct throughout I don't think that I'll have too much heart burning over it. I'm really looking forward to adding the ribbed edging around the neck and I might skip ahead to do that.
And whilst I knit (knitted?, knot?) I listened to the new series of Cast-On (yay). I am so happy that Brenda is back after the break and I can listen to her fantastic show whilst I knit and travel up and down the country by train. The new football season has already started so I'm going to be making a lot of trips up north to watch home games and the journeys just seem to whizz by with a couple or three episodes. I also downloaded a couple of episodes of CraftSanity including the Debbie Stoller interview which I really enjoyed. I'm especially interested to see the two new books which Debbie mentioned.
Of course I didn't spend all the time knitting and listening to podcasts. I went for two really great walks near Grasmere with my boyfriend. We stayed in a really great B&B called How Foot Lodge just outside the village on the road to Ambleside so on the Wednesday afternoon, just after we arrived, we walked back down the road until we came to a footpath to the lake. Then we just kept on walking up zig-zagging footpaths until we reached the trig point on the top of Loughrigg fell. On Thursday we kind of did the same thing. We walked up to Easedale tarn which is a beautiful walk and one that I know really well. When we'd got to the tarn it was still only 11am so we walked past the tarn and up the valley following a troop of walkers we had seen heading that way. And we just kept heading on up the path, past another tarn and up some pretty rocky slopes, until we reached one of the peaks, Blea Rigg Crag which had great views of Stickle tarn below and Windermere and the Langdale Pikes and (I think) Elterwater and Morcambe Bay across to Wales. The weather was just gorgeous and I wore my new Aran tweed walking socks (which weren't at all scratchy despite the bleak prognostications of the yarn shop owner when I bought the tweed). They were, alas, somewhat felted when I finally took them off after 6 hours of walking, but that's to be expected and it just adds to the cosiness. The view behind the socks (pictures will follow) is of Codale Tarn above Grasmere.

Monday, August 21, 2006

General Loopiness!

On Saturday I travelled to London for a friend's hen-party which was an extremely civilised affair starting off with a trip to Loop (for the yarn-obsessed amongst the party) and continuing on to Pottery Café on Fulham Road in order to drink fizz and paint plates and mugs and, in my case, piggy-banks.
I went into Loop with the intention of buying something sensible like sock-yarn or Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in order to knit Fetching from Knitty Summer 06. Instead I came away with two balls of Be Sweet Boucle Baby Mohair in Heather and Chocolate with which I will be knitting a ruffled scarf (for which as yet I don't have the pattern or the needles) to match the brown velvet jacket to which I finally succumbed. Pictures to follow (as I used up my flickr allowance for this month already). I also (much more practical) bought two sets of 3mm by 40 cm addi circular needles in order to learn to knit two socks at once. I feel that this is a vital skill to possess if I'm not to crash out of Sock Wars in the first round. I will be casting-on my first pair of practice socks this evening in the DB Baby Cashmerino and attempting to adapt the Birch Leaves pattern by Nancy Bush from Gathering of Lace.
I'll write more about the pottery painting when I've uploaded the photos.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

TGI Wednesday

I love Wednesdays! Mostly because Wednesday is the day the Oxford Bluestockings knitting group meets up. Today I have a nearly finished Aran tweed walking sock in garter rib stitch (the yarn just did not want to Jaywalk) and three-quarters of a pair of actual Jaywalkers in the Lorna's laces to take along. I also have the right front of Elspeth if I'm feeling ambitious. It's not really a great knitting group project as I have to count rather than talk in order to keep up with the pattern and the decreases/increases at the same time. I also have a couple of balls of Baby Cashmerino which I bought a couple of weeks ago to "show and tell". Hopefully I can work out how to adjust the Birch leaves pattern for the larger yarn gauge and make a start on those soon.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Jaywalkers (yay)

I'd intended to post one long post about all the things I'd done this weekend (made lemon tart, visited a friend, started Elspeth, eaten ice-cream by the river) but blogger is playing up at the mo'. So this is my nearly completed first Jaywalker sock knitted from half a skein of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Jeans (thus dispelling the myth that you need two skeins of the stuff to knit a pair of socks). OK they're only ankle socks and the Jaywalker pattern is surprisingly stretchy lengthways but still. I do really love this pattern. It's fast becoming my "I want a new pair of socks and I want them now!" stand-by as it's so quick and easy. I'm already planning a pair of "Jayhikers" out of bright green Kilcarra Aran Tweed for my trip to Grasmere at the end of the month. The pattern's just as appropriate for hill walking in the Lakes as it is for dodging traffic in the city as you really can't walk in a straight line up a stony mountain path.


On Sunday I did lots of housework (trying to hoover up all those 2 inch pieces of yarn that infest our flat), some more training for Sock Wars (i.e. the Lorna's Laces Jaywalker sock) and cast on a new project. This is taking my WIPs count (see right hand column) dangerously high again I know but the yarn has been just sitting there for weeks and I couldn't take it any more. The pattern is Elspeth from Rowan 37 and I'm knitting in Rowan Calmer with size 5mm needles. I'd read a few comments about how tricky it was following the pattern from the chart but didn't find that too tough. What I was surprised by though was that the pattern nowhere warns you that if you follow the chart exactly you can end up with unmatched yarn-overs which gives you unexpected increases. I'm hoping that I can get around this by just knitting the very edges plain unless there is both a yarn-over and a matching decrease.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

River socks

River sockAfter being intimidated by it for some while, on Monday I finally started to knit with the Lorna's Laces sock yarn. And after a few false starts on different sizes of needle I came up with this.
The pattern is taken from the Rowan River stole and I really like the way the pattern works with the colours in the yarn, although because of the variegation it's a little indistinct.

However, there's a really wide zig-zag up the back because I hadn't really taken the pattern edging into account. I tried knitting a second sock to a slightly different version of the pattern. This worked out less well. Decreasing the number of stitches to 13 per needle meant that the pattern stitches kept travelling and I felt like I was improvising too much and wouldn't be able to duplicate it for the second sock. At the same time I was really loving the colour repeats on the underside of the sock and kind of getting Jaywalker envy from my knitting buddy who was knitting a pair at the same time. Soo, I think I'm ripping the first sock, knitting Jaywalkers and saving the River pattern for a plain yarn.