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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".

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Double potions

Hand dyed yarn

More yarn dyed through the magic of Super Cook. This turned out rather more autumnal than I had planned - I may have been influenced by all the amazing leaves around work.

Autumn leaves

I think that some leaf pattern long hand-warmers would be lovely in this - at least my arms would look warm.

I've learnt anyway that I need a lot less dye than I had thought to get deep colours and I need hardly any dye to get lighter shades.

Dye pots

For my next attempt I went for a light pink and green. I mixed up much less dye and added it very carefully to the yarn to avoid the colours mixing and to avoid saturating the yarn.

rhubarb fool

This is almost exactly what I was going for - it's like stalks of rhubarb.

Still on the hand-dyed theme I'm onto the second wavy leaves sock but I'm mostly working on a Kiri shawl in silk laceweight for one of the bridesmaids at Aliki's sister's wedding. The yarn is Grace by the Australian Live 2 Knit and it's so beautiful (if a bit of an arse to knit with).

Kiri shawl

This is the first time I've knit lace with something that gives that proper pre-blocking "dishrag" effect in that it looks like nothing at all at the moment. Still, it's going to make the blocking seem even more miraculous. If you want to see what it looks like blocked you can check it out on Aliki's blog. Didn't I mention that I'm only knitting the third one of three?

Kiri shawl

Talking of lovely things, I found this link to Ulla (the Finnish Knitty) on Kirsty's blog - the patterns are gorgeous - so much so that it might be worth learning Finnish!

Monday, October 08, 2007

In which all is revealed

I can finally reveal my secret project - my Mum's birthday socks - now that they've been proudly presented. Mum was very pleased with them and they seemed to fit very nicely which was a relief (must remember in future to keep floats nice and loose at the back).

Keble College socks

Pattern: my own
Yarn: Rowan Wool Cotton (one skein each of 907 Riviera, 911 Rich, and 930 Deepest Olive)
Needles: 3.25mm dpns

Keble college socks - finished object

Keble college socks - finished object

The socks look great with my favourite shoes - shame I don't get to keep them! Still, never mind, because these look just as good:

Hopscotch socks

Pattern: my own
Yarn: Oxford Kitchen Yarns
sock yarn in Raspberry
Needles: 2.5mm dpns

Hopscotch socks - finished object

Hopscotch socks - finished object

I was so happy to finish these socks as a) I get to wear them and they are gorgeous (she says modestly) which is due in no small part to Katie's beautiful yarn and b) I was able to finish writing up the pattern.

I'm still ironing out some of the wrinkles but I should be posting the link to the pattern pretty soon. In the meantime I'm looking for volunteers to test knit or test read the pattern. This is the first of my sock patterns that I've written up and I'm sure there are areas for improvement. If you'd like to see the pattern (either to knit or read) drop me a line in the comments, via Ravelry or at thomasinaknits ATT yahoo d0t co d0t uk.

With those socks done i was able to cast on a fresh pair with the merino dk that I had dyed a while back. I'm using a stitch pattern based on a cardigan I saw in Marks and Sparks a few weeks ago and they're progressing very nicely.

Hand dyed sock

In fact I like them so much that I've just put my remaing cream merino into a mordant bath to soak so I can start some more dyeing tomorrow. I fancy something in reds and oranges this time but we'll see how it comes out. I'm using the cream of tartat again, 25 grams to 2 litres of water and 100 grams of yarn.


This is turning into a monster post, but I just wanted to draw your attention to the Scion Craft my Ride competition. This is one of those times (like when I think about Knit Picks or STR) that I'm really sorry I don't live in the US. Not that I really want a Scion, but it's such a fun competition. For those of you who do live in one of the 48 contiguous states the closing date is 22nd October. I'll definitely be checking back to look at the entries.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Shameless plug

Katie's shop (she runs a small natural dyeing business called Oxford Kitchen Yarns) is finally open. Go and check out the colours - they're gorgeous and have yummy food names so you can knit socks in raspberries and clotted cream is you want to!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

But where's the yarn?

I haven't had much time for knitting between the lurgy and the sewing. However, I'm upto the arm hole of the back of the Anya sweater and onto the moss stitch (which means no more colour work in Kidsilk Haze - yay!).

Anya sweater

I'm getting a lot of wear out of my first Kid Classic sweater now that the weather's a bit colder (and I'm under it) so I'm really looking forward to wearing this one.

There's also been a bit of a moratorium on the hat knitting (been busy on the secret project) but I have a few hats saved up from earlier in the year so I should still be able to send off a decent total.

Yarn winding has made it into the news with the discovery of the stolen painting Madonna of the Yarn Winder. It's fascinating to see how the basic design of these hasn't changed over the centuries. It's a more catchy title than the Madonna of the Niddy Noddy.