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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".

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.