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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.