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Friday, December 28, 2007


Star Christmas present this year is Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters.

New Pathways for Sock Knitters

My Dad ordered it from Socktopus and it came in such an awesome package with pink tissue paper, a Socktopus stitchmarker and two samples of Eucalan fabric wash.

Stitch marker

I now have quite a collection of stitch markers as I also got five from my OBS secret santa along with a great alternative Christmas mix CD (thank you Secret Santa!)

Secret Santa pressie

Our secret santa gifts were swapped at the final OBS meeting before Christmas which took the form of a party at Lara's newish flat. I managed to get a fairish bit of Christmas knitting done despite the distractions of a table crammed with edible goodies and the entertainment of Felix playing the accordion.

Back to the post-Christmas Christmas knitting. The reason why I haven't yet started knitting any of the revolutionary mini socks in the new book is that I'm still working on a pair of the more traditional variety for my Dad.

Dad's socks

These are knit in Rowan Felted Tweed on 3.25mm needles using toe-up with gusset and heel flap method. I'm trying to make these a fitted pair so really it's a good thing that I'm running late with these as it's nigh on impossible to fit someone for a sock whilst keeping it a surprise! I'm nearly done on the first sock, despite the fact that I spent most of today working on a quilt (which I'll post about tomorrow on All To Pieces) and acting as tech support whilst Dad tried to get his new digital photo frame up and running. It's been educational though as I've learnt how to add or remove images from an XD card without waiting for a popup window or options and how to retrieve an XD card from the inside of the PC when it's been accidentally posted through the wrong slot. It's amazing what you can do with a stout sewing needle and a bit of blu-tac.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sprint to the finish


I've got 25 rounds to go on the last item of Christmas knitting, a Shedir* in Rowan Felted Tweed. Normally I'd consider this the home straight but the pattern for the crown decreases is by no means straightforward and it's been slow going this evening. I've created some of my own issues by (on 2 separate occasions) attempting to start round 56 before finishing round 55, but what do you expect when attempting complicated cable knitting whilst watching Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. Concentration is bound to slip at some point.

Given that I only started a fortnight before Christmas it's a fairly impressive haul: one pair of socks, one hat, one scarf. I've had to drop one item from the roster but I'll make it up to the would be recipient at some point and it's not like anyone is going without a present.

Hopefully I'll post some shots of finished items as modelled by the lucky knittees soon, in the meantime I wish everyone a happy and peaceful Christmas!

* I'll be knitting one of these for myself asap btw - I love the pattern and the hat fits me a treat!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Only two knitting days till Christmas

And there are twinkly Christmas lights at the end of the tunnel. One item of Christmas knitting is complete* and two more are over halfway there leaving only a single item which hasn't been cast on yet. I'm not actually doing a great deal, it's just that due to the Peacock Feathers shawl I only started on December 10th. Remind me not to do that again next year would ya?

I'd be more sure of finishing on time if I didn't have other Christmassy jobs assigned to me like cake decorating, bauble adorning and table setting**. Plus Mum had added the item "black and white mobile?" (for baby) to my list, apparently it's a developmental thing, and although she's insisting that I prioritise the knitting I really want to have a go at making one! I've already worked out materials and construction (black and white felt, clear nylon thread and a smallish embroidery hoop) and I don't think it would take long to make.

Anyway, back to the knitting. Back on the hottest day in August (we were slapping suncream onto our flip flopped feet as we waited at bus stops) I impulse bought 2 skeins of oatmeal coloured cashmere from Devon at i knit London with the rationalisation that I would use them to make a Christmas present for my sister.

Time passed and two days ago I cast on. Not being completely insane I had tried to think of a non-scarf project that I could knit but drew a blank. The fabric wouldn't be sturdy enough for a hat*** without knitting at a ridiculously fine gauge and the yarn (pale as cream and soft as butter) was not practical for socks or mittens. I had a quick hunt on Ravelry for patterns which wouldn't be too complex to knit (as I would be picking it up to knit in odd spare minutes) or use too much yarn (only two skeins) and came up with the Little Pyramids pattern, a simple 6 stitch by 6 row (and rows 4-6 are the same as 1-3, just in a different order) repeat.

cashmere scarf

The result is rather gorgeous in an understated way and it's all down to the amazing yarn. The finished object should be a shortish (36-40", maybe a little longer with blocking), very light scarf which can be tucked inside a jacket neck, either on its own or with a bulkier scarf on top.

* Two, if you count Elijah who had to have a bath today to get him ready for meeting the VIB (very important baby).
** Which are all fun things to do, just a little time consuming.
*** I hate baggy hats.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Pins and Needles*

The crochet cast-off is done, the new pins and extra strong Gutermann thread (my secret blocking weapon to ensure a straight top edge and centre line) have been bought and the Peacock Feathers shawl is currently stretched out damply** over three towels on my living room floor.


Note: this is not the final blocked shape, I stretched out that wonky bit on the left later on and rounded out all the feather ends.

The thing is huge, there was only just enough room for it and I didn't block particularly aggressively. I've no idea how it will look on, or with the dress, but in its in-blocking state it is gorgeous. Helen's Lace tends to look rather woolly in the ball and especially when knitting but as soon as you block it the silk content comes shining through.

Shawl point detail

Edging detail

It took a lot of pinning out - there are about 200 separate points to pin around the lower edge. It's a good thing I finished today as I don't think Mum would have been at all keen on my sticking 200 pins into her new carpet, even in the cause of my having the shawl ready for the wedding! I wasn't too finickety about measuring an even distance between points on each side, I just pinned each side roughly and then stretched it out until it looked fairly balanced. I can always reblock when I'm not on such a tight schedule. Now I just need to fire up the dehumidifier and cross my fingers that it's dried by tomorrow morning.

* Oh dear lord, blocking is hard on the knees!

** My other secret weapon is a bog standard plant mister from Boswells (font of all that is good) as I find that my dampened lace tends to have mostly dried by the time it's pinned neatly in place, especially if I forget to sew in the top and centre threads beforehand.

I'm done with knitting!

That's right, I'm not doing any more knitting on this wretched Peacock Feathers shawl - because I'm finished!!

Finally I'm onto the crochet chain cast off, in fact I'm nearly halfway done and hope to be finished by this evening so the shawl can block tonight!

Peacock Feathers edging

It's looking pretty good this far, I really like the pattern of the lace edging and it's going to look amazing when all these little raggedy loops are pinned out straight (note to self: buy more pins after work).

I'd like to thank all my Bluestockings buddies at this point for their encouragement, especially Felix who has been sending me emails and blog comments along the lines of "GO TEAM!" at the announcement of each milestone. This one's for you guys!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Oxford Bluestockings at Prick Your Finger

We all had a completely lovely time at Prick your Finger on Saturday afternoon. Ellen and I had braved torrential rain in Oxford to catch our train and it was rather dark, cold and damp when we arrived in Bethnal Green. However, we had the warmest of welcomes from Rachael and Louise who thrust mugs of tea into our hands and made us try Felix's gorgeous bread buns with rhubarb jam. My own contribution to the feast was in the form of heart-shaped custard creams* from Feast by Nigella Lawson. They're surprisingly simple to make and really are fun - next time round I want to try orange creams, another childhood favourite.

custard cream with tea

Kirsty was there when we arrived and Lara turned up a little later on with a present for me!

honorary bluestocking

She had these made for people to wear at the i knit Stitch 'n Bitch day. I also got a "fluent knitter" sticker from Rachael which I will be sticking on my knitting journal as soon as I locate it. I didn't feel quite so fluent on the train back to Oxford as I discovered a horrible looking mess a couple of rows back in my Peacock Feathers shawl. I more or less fixed it after two separate attempts but it still looks a bit snarly. I'm just crossing my fingers that it won't be too noticeable after blocking.

The shop itself is lovely. Maybe not the place to go if you have a specific yarn or pattern in mind, but certainly the place to get inspired and pick up gorgeous one-off skeins and cute notions. Ellen and I were very tempted by the contents of the ribbon drawer, especially a bluey/green/silver affair with scalloped lace and sequins. I will definitely be going back there in the future.

Right now I'm heading back to Peacock Feathers. I've just finished row 211 and I really want to get to 224 (the end of the lace pattern) o.n.o. by bedtime.

* These scored very highly on Felix's approval meter being both kitsch and retro (not to mention delish) and I felt the effort of making them, especially dotting all the little holes round the edges, was well repaid by the speed with which they were consumed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Arithmetic for idiots*

Last night in an effort to stop me fretting about whether I would have enough time remaining to finish the Peacock Feathers shawl before December 9th the boyfriend demonstrated how to calculate how many stitches remain in a triangular piece of knitting.

Take the number of stitches on your current row (A) and subtract from the number of stitches on your final row (B). Divide this number by 2 and add to (A). Multiply this number by the number of rows you still have to knit (C).


((B - A)/2 + A) x C

In my case:

A = 346 (number of stitches on current row)
B = 495 (number of stitches on final row)
C = 75 (rows left to knit)


495 - 346 = 149

149/2 = 74.5

346 + 74.5 = 420.5 **

420.5 x 75 = 31537.5 stitches remaining.

I think I was happier not knowing!

You can also use this to calculate how far you are through a triangular piece percentage-wise (no more guessing on Ravelry). So:

Starting number of stitches = 3
Final number of stitches = 495
Total number of rows = 250

((495 - 3)/2) x 250 = 61500

(31537/61500) x 100 = 51% left

I've not even reached the halfway mark - should I just give up now?!

By my reckoning I need to put in at the very least 20 hours of solid knitting in the next ten days. The only chink of light is that it looks like there may be an option to skip rows 191 to 222 of chart 7, curtailing the "big feathers" portion of the shawl and move straight onto the edging chart. Luckily it's my lace-knitters anonymous (a.k.a. the Oxford Bluestockings) meeting tonight so I can get some expert advice and find out if this is really a viable option.

* by which I mean a knitter who takes on a complex piece of lace knitting to a tight deadline without checking how many stitches she will have by the final row of the piece.

** this is your average number of stitches per row (in case you're interested)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Felted goodness

So after boasting about my display of good behaviour in John Lewis the other week (where didn't buy so much as a button!) I promptly fell down hard in said store twice in one week.

Last Wednesday I executed a lightening raid on the Oxford Street store coming away with seven balls of Jaeger Matchmaker Merino 4-ply clutched in my grubby little fingers. It's going to be discontinued, alright!


This Sunday I visited the Trafford Centre store and, whilst assuring the lady next to me that Kid Classic would indeed "felt like crazy", picked up 6 balls of Rowan Felted Tweed with which to knit Christmas socks.

Felted Tweed

Of course whilst the excuse that "it's not for me, it's Christmas shopping" is a good and valid one, it doesn't quite stretch to explaining how I'll have time to knit three pairs of Christmas socks on top of the Christmas something I already have planned, and the Peacock Feathers shawl (deadline December 9th), and the Anya sweater which I really did want to have done in time for this Christmas.

Still with socks at least I'm on home territory and I can hopefully whip these babies up on 3.25mm needles which should make them a relatively quick knit.

Meanwhile the Peacock Feathers shawl (aka the shawl that time forgot) is still progressing at a steady rate although I was somewhat relieved to realise that it's not because I'm a particularly slow knitter or that I'm finding the pattern especially taxing. It's just that it's huge. There are already around 320 stitches per row and there'll be nearly 450 by the time it's done. I really should have read through all the charts before starting! I'm halfway through chart 6 and there's just under a fotnight left - it's going to be close run thing.

Peacock feathers

Friday, November 23, 2007

Something for the weekend

Peacock feathers schawl

Compared to my lightening progress on the Kiri for Aliki's sister's wedding progress on the Peacock Feathers shawl has, quite frankly, been a bit on the slow side. I cast on just before I set off for Dublin and I'm still ploughing through chart four of eight (and chart seven, let me tell you, is a monster). Partly it's because I've been distracted by baby knitting - so much more fun really - and partly becauseit's not friendly knitting for the evenings (dark wool and lots of pattern stitches) or for company, the only knitting I've really managed on it on Wednesdays has been before everyone else has turned up.

Drastic times, drastic measures and all that. I have made the decision that the shawl is the only knitting that's coming up north with me this weekend. To that end I've transferred it from the Brittany birch 3.5mm straights (a delight to knit with but a tad unwieldly and not at all friendly to any person sitting near me on public transport) to a bamboo circular. Hopefully 8 hours on a train there and back will see me well into chart 6 (if not the black hole of chart 7)!

Hopscotch socks update

The pattern is currently being test knitted by Katie. I squee'd out loud when I saw the picture of my sock being knit by someone else. Actually my reaction pretty much mirrored hers back when I started knitting my first Hopscotch sock with her yarn.

Anyways, once I've got feedback from her I'll make any corrections, gussy up the charts, put in some better photos (which I hope to take this weekend) and pop it online for your knitting pleasure.

Introducing BP

In the middle of what has been a slightly hassly week at work (crises all of my own making) I had a wonderful day trip to the big city to see my brand new baby niece:

no paparazzi!

I was running rather later than intended so didn't have much time to sample the yarn delight of London. However, I did manage to snaffle a few balls of Jaeger Matchmaker 4-ply in John Lewis (there's still plenty left guys) to make a top for me and a cardigan (or something) for BP.

As it turned out my timing was perfect as BP had just been got up and changed as I arrived and was then awake and doing cute baby stuff and being very very good for the rest of my visit - she's a total charmer.

I'm not sure that Elijah really enjoyed his trip to London..

Elijah waiting for train

..but he looks much happier now:



He wasn't quite ready in time for me to present to BP on Wednesday (still missing most of one ear) but I finished knitting on the bus on the way home and he's waiting to be sent off as soon as I#ve taken the photos for my competition entry.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

WIP - Elijah


I got in some good progress on Elijah whilst watching the final episodes of Heroes (season 1) with Ellen and Helen last night. It's not at all suitable viewing for a young elephant - lucky he's not got ears or eyes yet then!

I'm very much enjoying this pattern - the lack of sewing up is a joy and it really uses very little yarn, I may end up with a whole herd of elephants.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I'm struggling to stay faithful to the Peacock Feathers shawl at the moment. It's not handy bus knitting due to the long needles it's on so if I want to knit it while travelling the boyfriend has to sit on a different seat which seems a tad anti-social.

Plus there are too many other temptations. I came across Oliver's blanket on the Mason-Dixon blog and discovered that it's actually a UK based project to raise money for equipment* for Oliver - a little boy with cerebral palsy whose mum blogs here. Blanket squares should be knitted from leftover sock yarn (of which I have more than my fair share) and should be 4 inches square. You can send comkpleted squares to Michaela until the end of November. Michaela is making all the squares up into blankets which will be raffled at the end of the year. Kay at Mason-Dixon knitting is also collecting squares for a US blanket.

Oliver's square

Oliver's square

Pattern: see here (note the squares are garter stitch. Initially I knit mine in stocking stitch and ended up with more of a rhombus.
Yarn: Fyberspates sock yarn in Ocean Forest
Needles: 2.75mm

Even if you're not knitting for Oliver's blanket this is a great way to make squares more interesting and completely side steps the thorny issue of how many to cast on.

Meanwhile I also succumbed to temptation in the form of a little blue elephant who has been having the most exciting adventures over on Ysolda's blog. The final straw was finding out that Felix was already knitting the pattern and that I had the specified yarn in my stash (that almost never happens).

Introducing Elijah


Pattern: here for the grand sum of £2
Yarn: Rowan RYC Cashsoft baby DK
Needles: 3mm dpn

So far I'm progressing on the head at a steady pace but should speed up once I hit the trunk decreases. I need to hunt out some stuffing too as it's one of those projects where you stuff as you go so he should start looking more like an elephant pretty soon (although first he'll be resembilng a parsnip).

More knitting on Peacock Feathers at the weekend - I promise.

* Example a regular car seat costs around £20-£40, Oliver's costs around £1600!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Happy Birthday baby Porter

Yesterday lunchtime I received the very exciting news that I now have a niece. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology I was able to see photos shortly after that and she looks incredibly cute if a little grumpy. Of course that's hardly to be wondered at given that it's turned seasonably frosty outside - luckily the latest batch of baby knits is all ready to keep her cosy and warm.

Classic Cardigam

Classic Cardigan

Pattern: Classic Cardigan from The Baby Knits Book by Debbie Bliss
Yarn: Rowan Cashsoft Baby DK
Needles: 3mm and 3.25mm
Modification: Pattern knit at 24 stitches/32 rows = 10cm instead of 18 stitches/24 rows = 10cm to make newborn size.

Posy bootees

Posy Bootees

Pattern: Posy bootees by Martin Storey from JB29
Yarn: Oxford Kitchen Yarns sock yarn
Needles: 2.25mm dpn
Modification: Pattern knit at slightly smaller gauge, tubular bind-off added at top.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Baby knit-o-rama

Baby Porter - my first niece or nephew (we're fairly sure niece) - is due any day now and so baby knitting has reached near fever pitch. I sent off the first batch of crafted stuff (plus some very bought cute toys and clothes that I couldn't resist) last week and I'm now working on the next lot - a newborn size cardigan in Rowan Cashsoft DK and some Posy bootees in Oxford Kitchen Yarns sock yarn.

Posy bootees

I love this pattern which is one of many beautiful patterns from Jaeger Handknits JB29. They may or may not be named after Posy Fossil from Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield (one of my favourite children's books) but I couldn't resist the photo opportunity. Sadly the lighting isn't great but I'll take more pics when I've finished the i cord drawstrings. I used 24 grammes of Oxford Kitchen Yarns sock yarn in Raspberry and 2.25mm needles. Otherwise I've followed the pattern as written right up to the top of the cuff where I've added a 6 row tubular bind-off to match the piping around the foot.

Although I've been trying to knit the smallet sizes in baby patterns even the 0-3 month sizes have come out looking huge. I can understand why pattern designers don't want to give small pattern sizes - babies come in a varying range of sizes and grow very fast so you could end up with some very disgruntled knitters. Still, I really wanted to knit something that that baby could wear right away and so knit the classic cardigan from The Baby Knits Book by Debbie Bliss using DK weight yarn instead of aran and size 3.25mm needles instead of 4.5mm. The result is a cardigan which is three-quarters the size of the 3-6 months size and which looks a pretty good fit for a newborn (fingers crossed). The yarn is Rowan Cashsoft in a very pretty lilac.

Classic cardigan (newborn size)

The bear transfer was my one purchase (for all of £0.99) at Hobbycraft this weekend - so sweet!

I was similarly restrained at John Lewis where Mum and I went to pick out my very exciting Christmas present (which is sadly staying firmly in its box and under wraps until December 25th - it might as well be a surprise for someone!). I think that my urge to buy yarn - even when confronted with exclusive to John Lewis alpaca and soon to be discontinued Jaeger (the Rowan rep said they still had plenty in stock) - was somewhat appeased by my Mum's purchase of 8 balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino aran for a moss stitch baby blanket (also from The Baby Knits Book which I had luckily brought up with me). Mum wanted me to be around to remind her how to cast on and change colours etc. but she really needn't have as she's picked it up again like the proverbial bicycle and after just one evening she's already 2 inches in!

That's all the knitting news for now - I can't wait to get back to Oxford and hear all about how the various Bluestockings got on at the i knit Stitch'n Bitch day. From the small snippets I've heard it sounds like everyone had a great time. Katie's put a small preview up on her blog - I can't get over how great her knitted banner is!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Guy Fawkes night

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

I've always preferred bonfire night to Halloween*. It was always a big deal in our house with us and our next door neighbours from either side getting together for a big shared bonfire. My main memories are of the wet bonfire night at Brynn's (next door up the street) when we sheltered from the rain under a make shift awning made from sheet plastic and the year when we burnt the old table tennis table at our house. We retreated indoors because of the fumes from the paint and stood in the kitchen worrying whether the intense heat from the bommy was going to crack the windows. I have great memories of the food too. Sausages in rolls with onions and ketchup, baked potatoes in foil and kitchen towel, Brynn's special black peas (although I'm not sure that I ever ate any), rock hard treacle toffee which my brother and I made with Mum and then smashed into pieces with a mallet on the patio table.

There was (sadly) no bonfire for me this year but we did go to the Somerville college firework display which was a fantastic spectacle and I did get to have sparklers and treacle toffee (albeit from Thornton's).

Guy Fawkes night

I knit the fingerless mittens especially for bonfire night. The hand dyed yarn is a perfect autumn/bonfire colour and the stitch pattern is Flickering flames from the Harmony Guide to Knitting Stitches vol. II. The lack of fingers make them ideal for lighting sparklers and fishing sticky toffee out of a bag!

Flickering flames mitts

Flickering flames mitts:
Pattern: 10 rnds of K1 tbl, P1 rib. 2 repeats of Flickering flames pattern, afterthought thumb and another 10 rnds of K1 tbl, P1 rib.
Yarn: Hand dyed Debbie Bliss merino dk
Needles: 3.25mm dpns

*Actually Halloween and trick or treating was pretty much banned in our house due to all the evil.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Yay, go me! The above is my "chip time" (sadly nothing to do with deep fried potato products) for the Dublin marathon which I ran in last Monday. I led up to the race feeling deeply under prepared due to a bad cold which had forced me to skip three weeks of training (including my 20 mile run and my 10 mile rehearsal run) right at the end of my training schedule which basically meant that I hadn't run more than 6 miles at a time for over 5 weeks before the race.

It wasn't even until I turned up at the registration Expo in Ballsbridge on the Saturday before the race to pick up my number and kit bag that I faced the reality that I would be attempting to run 26 miles on Monday. As at London the "Impossible is nothing" whiteboard on which runners and supporters scrawl their messages of good luck proved very inspiring.

Impossible is nothing

Only 26 miles to go!

I hope Ciaran made it!

Also inspiring (as it turned out) was the lovely new kit that I bought for myself - a reflective Dubin 2007 jacket, my very first pair of running tights (which should help reduce the effect of my runner's tan this winter), and a lovely Hilly water bottle holder with zip pockets (finally, hands-free running). One of the things that kept me going in the tough miles between 20 amd 24 was the thought that I would feel a complete fraud wearing my gorgeous jacket if I didn't finish the race.

The race day itself was gorgeous, freezing on the start line - luckily we were packed in like sardines - but with bright sunshine which never got too warm thankfully. The worst thing was the stiff breeze which was troublesome on the higher portions of the course, especially between 12 and 13 miles where we seemed to be running straight into it for almost the whole mile, but mostly conditions were fine.

I was a little more worried in the early part of the race (1 - 6 miles) than I would be normally due to the lack of training but once I'd realised that I wasn't going to break down in a heap at three miles I really got to enjoying it. Miles 5 through to 8 in Phoenix Park were really nice (pretty trees, fresh air, nice views).

Although the crowds were nothing like London (which was overwhelming in both positive and negative ways) there were little knots of people here and there and larger groups in places and they gave out very warm and encouraging support. There were lots of little kids holding out their hands for low fives as the runners went past which I was much more inclined to do than in London where I was so hot and exhausted for so much of the time that my main reaction was "are you kidding? do you know how much energy that'll take out of me?". Lots of people held out sweets (btw jelly babies and wine gums: good; boiled sweets, especially ones which you have to unwrap: v v bad) and orange quarters. The water stands were really well organised and well supplied and they even still had enough of the energy drinks remaining when I went by although I only tried that once as it tasted worryingly like Sunny Delight and made Lucozade seem low-sugar.

The general trend of the course was uphill until 15 miles and downhill thereafter which was a good thing as I faded pretty quickly after 18 miles. 18 miles is a magic distances for me in marathon running. It's the point at which I can be fairly certain that I'm going to get home, no matter what. After all, it's only 2 miles after that until 20, and then only 3 until 23, and then anyone can run, or, worst case scenario, walk 3 miles. When you break it down like that it sounds like you're almost there at 18 miles. In reality there's still 8 miles to go (that's almost a third of the race) and it was a long hard slog. From 20 to 24 miles I really took it just one step at a time. When you start running people will tell you that it's just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and it's true. The tricky thing is to keep making yourself do it, even when you're too tired to think about getting to the next mile marker. The great thing is that if you can keep doing it, and keep doing it at a reasonable rate, you know that in a certain number of hours or minutes it will be over and you can stop it.

All this doesn't sound like too much fun but I really did run round with a smile on my face for most of the time and the finish makes it all worth while. As soon as you pass the 24 mile marker you can see people all around you lift up their heads and pick up their feet. It's partly to do with the larger crowds near the finish line, cheering you all on, but mostly to do with the knowledge that you're so close. One last effort and you're done. By the time you get to 25 miles people who were struggling to step onto the curb 2 miles back are running like they were at the start of the race and runners who looked dead on their feet are going for the sprint finish, arms outstretched. My primary school headmaster used to say that if you could sprint at the finish then you weren't giving enough earlier on. He has a point but I feel that the effort that I give at the finish comes from a different place than the effort I put in during the race. It comes from knowing that I can give everything for the last mile, that I can run on empty because there's no more distance to run.

After the race I got a lovely shiny (heavy) medal on a red ribbon which physically hurt everytime it banged into me as it swung around my neck (I had to hold it away from me as I was just too sore already after the race!) and a goody bag which - if light on the edible stuff (luckily I had brought my own Kit-Kat and banana) did have a lovely long-sleeved t-shirt in the right size (London organisers take note, most of us are not XXL).

Copy of dublin_marathon_2

I don't think I will run Dublin again (too hilly) but I did enjoy the experience on the whole and I'm still chasing that sub 4 hour time. I'm in the ballot for London next year so fingers crossed for that and for a cool April 2008.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Halloween

I have two possible routes to work from my bus stop - one takes me through the Day of the Triffids/28 Days Later style deserted hospital, the other takes me the scenic route, via the Maison Blanc patisserie window. Guess which one I usually choose.

Pumpkin pies

I have lots to post about my Dublin trip and the marathon and I'll do it when I have a little more time at the weekend. In the meantime, here's a shot of the progress on the Peacock Feathers shawl.

Peacock feathers shawl

I'm into chart 3 and it's going along quite nicely. I'm really glad I bought all those stitch markers at the Knitting and Stitching show though!

And, talking of shows..

Katie has just announced that she is going to have an Oxford Kitchen Yarns stand at the Stitch 'n' Bitch day in London. You can find out all the details over on Katie's blog.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lace and cookies

I got home from the Stitch n Bitch with an urge to bake cookies as my contribution to our Thursday pot-luck lunch. Amazingly none of my Nigella books had a recipe for American-style cookies and I didn't feel like leafing through my sizeable Good Food collection until I found one either. So I looked online and picked the first recipe that came up. You can find it here.


They're a bit thinner and more crispy than American cookies (I'll have to get Ellen's recipe!) but very nice nonetheless.

Earlier I had knit moss stitch for the arm hole of the Anya sweater until it was too dark to see the stitches properly (the problems of knitting with navy blue yarn). I still have 2-3 cm to go until I reach 21cm and can start the shoulder shaping (I seem to be in a black hole as well as an armhole).

Anya sweater

Once I'd had my fill of moss stich for the evening I got started on the swatch for the Peacock Feathers shawl.

Peacock feathers shawl swatch

I made a teensy error when I re-knit 4 rows of the pattern whilst distracted but you get the idea. I think that the variegation is going to be great with the pattern as the colour changes are really subtle.

I even managed to make a start on the shawl proper but had to stop after row 13 as I've managed to mislay the first chart - argh! - it was going so well too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I love this bit

Blocked Kiri

I suspect that I will be investing in those blocking wires as they would have made blocking the Kiri rather more easy I think. Still it's done and the dimensions are close enough to Aiki's for them to match (I hope). I just need to finagle the points a bit as they're a bit loopy from the way I blocked them. Hopefully some TLC with a cool iron and a clean damp cloth will sort them out.

Blocked Kiri

The blocked lace has the loveliest drape - I can't wait to knit something in this for me!

Sunday, October 21, 2007


The Kiri is finished (yay!). It's been an incredibly quick knit - I only cast on a week last Tuesday - but I have been remarkably monogamous knitting-wise* (not that I'm not being monogamous in other respects also!).

Kiri unblocked

The points are already quite pointy (even before blocking) as I knit the last row (as well as the cast-off) using 5mm needles.

Kiri cast off

Sadly I finished too late in the day to get it blocked tonight (the boyfriend would not take too kindly to the idea of sleeping on the couch whilst my knitting is blocking on the bed).

Aliki, very sweetly, offered me the remainder of the ball as a thank you for knitting the thing and I'm very excited as on weighing there is just over half left which means I have enough Aussie silk to knit another Kiri-sized shawl for myself (yay!). I may even have a go at dyeing it a different colour (after a bit of practice.

Listen while you knit

A quick plug for Librivox who are a group of volunteers producing free, downloadable audiobooks of works in the public domain (which is more or less equivalent to copyright over here). Works are read either as solo or collaborative projects and they have an ever growing catalogue of 19th and early 20th century classics (as well as books from earlier centuries). I've recorded a couple of chapters myself, both for novels by Elizabeth Gaskell, one for North and South which I've just uploaded this weekend and one for Wives and Daughters, which is now available to download at I love Elizabeth Gaskell's writing - North and South combines a great love story with keen observations on the class divide in the industrial north in the 19th century, Wives and Daughters is equally romantic and has touches of comic genius, especially the scenes between Hyacinth Gibson (Molly's stepmother) and her former employers at 'the Towers'. If that's not enough incentive then at least two of the chapters are read by Brenda Dayne so you can assuage some of those Cast-On cravings whilst she's away in Italy.

*I may have knit a swatch or two, but I swear it didn't mean anything!

** I know the link is to the BBC adaptation rather than the novel but there's a cute picture of Richard Armitage (who is, after all, the only reason to watch Robin Hood).

Friday, October 19, 2007

Yarn winding

Yarn winding

Not being able to face the thought of winding all our newly acquired stash from the Knitting and Stitching show herself* Katie invited the Bluestockings up to her place on Wednesday evening for a yarn winding/pizza and cake eating session.

When I got there Emma was already winding yarn and Ruth was knitting her umpteenth strip of garter stitch chain-mail for a production of King John at the Old Fire Station next week. I had a bit of a disaster winding the Helen's Lace Black Watch. I'd nearly finished the first attempt when Katie pointed out that I was winding it anti-clockwise which meant it wouldn't centre pull. I then was part way through re-winding it clockwise from the outside of the ball when the thing just jumped off the ball-winder (I may have been too enthusiastic). This meant I then had to re-re-wind the first part of the yarn from the inside of the ball before re-winding the second part from the outside of the original ball. After all this saga the 100g of hand-dyed merino DK seemed to wind up in about 30 seconds.

Felix brought along her in-progress Tatami (which is going to be more of a chunky kimono) knit from charity shop recycled wool, some cheesy stitch markers and some gorgeous rhubarb crumble made with stem ginger and coriander seeds (the recipe is here).

Cheesy stitch markers

Rhubarb crumble

I've decided to knit the Peacock Feathers shawl from Fiddlesticks knitting. The pattern is quite bold so I don't think it will get lost in the variegated yarn too much and luckily I was able to borrow the pattern from Katie so I can get started as soon as I've finished the Kiri.

I also borrowed the pattern for the Tatami cardigan which I queued on Ravelry almost as soon as I'd tried on Katie's version in 21st Century yarn the other week (it's pretty). As a reward for reaching the final repeat in Kiri I worked a couple of swatches for it last night, one in Jaeger (sigh!) Matchmaker Merino 4-ply (nice but a bit too drapey) and one in Rowan Wool Cotton. I don't think I'll use either (although I haven't dropped the stitches in the Wool Cotton one yet) but it was fun to try out the pattern and a nice change from knitting lace. It turns out that knitting swatches is really appealing if you think of them as a chance for a tiny bit of knitting that's completely different from the marathon project you're slogging away at.

Tatami swatch

Tatami swatch

Kiri progress update: just finished the last repeat this evening. Hopefully I can work the edging tomorrow and have it blocking on Sunday!

Kiri shawl

* Apparently she has better things to do with her time, like setting up our amazing new website

Monday, October 15, 2007

Knitting and Stitching show 2007

Despite a few raised eyebrows when I returned home with the new additions to my stash I think I was fairly restrained at the Knitting and Stitching show on Sunday (although if there had been any deep reds or blues remaining I think I might have dived head first into the sale pile of discontinued Jaeger at Black Sheep). Ellen picked up a bag of green Matchmaker DK and Aliki one of grey Matchmaker 4-ply. I wandered around hugging a bag of charcoal 4-ply for a while before putting it back as I really would have been buying it from pure nostalgia and I'm sure there will be some single balls for socks and gloves floating around for some time yet.

There was a lot of very tempting fibre on offer from UK Alpacas and especially from the Sheep Shop (purveyors of Wensleydale Longwool) who were offering 500 gram footballs of combed white or black Wensleydale top for £8-£9. Luckily I had time to reflect over lunch and reached the considered opinion that spinning 500 grams of fibre on a drop spindle was probably not as much fun as you might think at first. I went back a couple of time to fondle but stayed strong. I also fell in love with the Black Hills Corriedale which had been spun with the lanolin in and smelled just amazing*. Fortunately they didn't seem too weirded out by my sniffing their yarn and as they're local to us we might manage a trip to their show room some day.

There were lots and lots of lovely things on display including some sweet knitting earrings, and some beautiful kits including these very cute knitted tea cosies from Laughing Hens

Tea cosies

We saw the knitted river - it's huge. I especially liked the square that someone had knit with a sailing boat. There was just the one so it looked like it was on a vast ocean.

Knitted River

I spent a lot of the time looking for yarn for a Tatami after trying on Katie's at the knitting group last Wednesday. It's a beautiful pattern and it looks amazing in the 21st Century yarn that's she's knitted it in (although apparently dropping the stitches is a complete arse due to the yarn's grabbiness). However, between there not being a colourway that I really loved and getting rather confused over the yardage I decided to wait until I had a chance to swatch the pattern with some of my stash yarns.

The other thing that I was keeping my eyes open for was some laceweight to knit a shawl to match a dress for my cousin's wedding in December and I found just the thing at the Get Knitted stand straight after lunch - a gorgeous skein of Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace in the Black Watch colourway.

Black Watch Helen's Lace

I just need to pick a shawl pattern now. I love the Fiddlesticks Peacock Feathers shawl and I think it would suit the yarn. There are also a couple in A Gathering of Lace that I really like. The main thing is that I want it to be an all-in-one piece of knitting as I don't want to have to knit a huge separate border (a la Print O' the Wave) against a deadline! Mind you, what with this, and the POTW, and the Kiri (up to repeat no. 10 btw) this is looking like a good time to invest in some blocking wires and I even found a UK seller. Aliki, Helen and I did look out for them yesterday but either no one was stocking them or they'd all been nabbed earlier on in the show.

Another sad absence were the Handweaver's Studio as Aliki was thinking about a Swift or ballwinder and I really want a niddy noddy as my landlord obviously didn't have winding yarn in mind when she chose chairs for the flat!

My other purchases were some more Clover locking stitch markers (I love these little guys), the Thelonious sock pattern by Cookie A (yes it's available online but I've never got around to buying it) from Knit n Caboodle and some Louet Gems sock yarn from Foreign Strand.

Louet Gems sock yarn

Rather stupidly I bought a skein more than I need for my sock pattern but it's lovely yarn and will "come in for something". Aliki also bought the Twisted Flower pattern so we can have a sock pattern swap later on.

The Louet Gems was my final purchase of the day (made rather on impulse after I failed to find Tatami yarn) and we left the show at 4pm in plenty of time for a huge cup of tea at Paddington before our train home.


* I'm the sort of person who wanders through the M&S jumper section on rainy days going "Mmm wet sheep".