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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My heart leaps up..*

I'd forgotten how much I love this pattern. The rainbow Jaywalkers are just zooming along - I'm nearly up to the heel on the first one. The only thing holding me up is that I keep stopping to admire the colour changes and coo over how beautiful the striping is. I think these are going to be my new favourite socks.

Rainbow jaywalkers

Rainbow jaywalkers

* The Rainbow by W. Wordsworth (1875) - is it just me or does the last line really not scan??

Knit a rainbow

A finished object to start with:

Berry Hill mittens

Pattern: Berry Hill fingerless mittens (free Ravelry download)
Yarn: Hand-dyed Debbie Bliss Merino DK (1 ball)
Needles: 3.25mm dpns
Ravelled: here

I've decided that the best way to build up a pattern portfolio is to just start writing stuff down (or up). I certainly improvise enough stuff. These are just a very simple pair of fingerless mitts with the interest coming from the twisted rib in the cuff and at the knuckles and from the lovely shades in the yarn. I put it up on Ravelry on Saturday evening and was so chuffed to find that someone had already cast on a pair on Sunday.

Knitting these mittens from yarn that I hand-dyed last year reminded me how much I enjoy dyeing and knitting with stuff that I've hand-dyed.

cable mitts

Although not so much with these (one ball Rowan Pure Wool DK dyed with Supercook food dye) - I was going for another simple pair of hand-warmers but I've tried 6 stitch patterns so far and ripped back every one. This is the furthest point I got to before ripping back. The tension was so tight that it was hurting my hands to knit and to put the gloves on - not really ideal. I do love the stitch pattern though so I might try again with larger needles and more plain rows and stitches between the cables.

After dyeing one skein of variegated yarn I thought I'd follow Ellen and have a go at some stripes. I created a 5.6 metre skein by winding the yarn around the door handles in my flat. Ideally it would have been a bit longer but I thought I'd get in trouble if I made the bathroom inaccessible for the best part of an hour!

red, and yellow, and pink, and green...

As I wanted stripes in 6 different colours (and I don't have 6 pans, let alone 6 rings on my hob) I decided to do these in mugs in the microwave.

I arranged the yarn in the mugs, added the water and cream of tartar (for mordant) and then put the microwave plate in the microwave before adding the dye* - it just seemed safer. Getting them out again was a bit hairy though.

orange, and purple, and blue...

The yarn dried in time for me to take it to Aliki's yesterday to wind up on her ball winder. I had lots of fun watching the woolly blur on the winder change from red through to purple.

I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow...

The yarns in the background are from Oxford Kitchen Yarns (right) and All the Pretty Fibers (left). I have big plans for these.

After all the tense cable knitting and ripping I needed something really straightforward in order to knit away the frustration.

sing a rainbow too!

Luckily I now have the perfect yarn for rainbow Jaywalkers.

* Dyeing this yarn meant that I had the rainbow song stuck in my head all day - and it's not even a helpful guide to dyeing a spectrum, I nearly put purple and blue in the wrong way around.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A different kind of WIP

In honour of Felix's SLOUNGE event at the Vaults this evening I thought I'd share my washing-up in progress.

washing up

I don't quite fit neatly into any of types A, B, and C when it comes to washing up. There's definitely a bit of C in there when it comes to finding clean cutlery to use with dinner and there's quite a lot of B in that I do quite enjoy the washing-up when I get around to doing it. Finally there's a bit of A since when the washing-up does get done it gets done properly with lots of hot water for the glasses and cleaning between the tines of forks. I even wash the bowl and sink out afterwards*.

Of course I haven't let all this washing-up get in the way of the knitting.

FO - second pair of Hopscotch socks

Hopscotch socks

Pattern: Hopscotch by Liz Thompson (that's me folks!)
Yarn: Regia 4-ply
Needles: 2.5mm

Yesterday was quite a frantic day at work so it was nice to be able to look down at my feet from time to time and know that I was wearing a great pair of socks.

You'd think I'd be sick of twisted rib by the time I'd completed 20 rounds for the ribbing of these socks but no. I was inspired by these socks to just try knitting in offset twisted rib (4 rounds of *k1 tbl, p1* followed by 4 rounds of *p1, k1 tbl*) and see what happened.

camera case

purple sock

The first is a camera case in some hand-dyed Debbie Bliss merino dk (I must do more supercook dyeing) and the second is a sock in the Lorna's Laces Shepherd sock that I got at our last yarn swap. I'm so happy that Helen (the swapper) isn't keen on purple because I love it. Although the pattern is so simple and it's all 1x1 rib I'm just enjoying knitting along and watching the colours change.

* I usually do this, although I do think that the Finish advert that confidently asserts "you wouldn't wash your dishes in a dirty bowl..." is making a lot of assumptions about how people do wash up.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

More spring greens

Classic cardigan - FO

Pattern: Classic cardigan from The Baby Knits Book by Debbie bliss
Yarn: Baby Cashmerino
Needles: 3mm/3.25mm
Ravelled: here

Altogether this turned into a pleasingly thrifty project. The stashed yarn is nearly all gone and the buttons were reclaimed from an old pair of gloves. I'm really pleased by how the red and white add a bit of quirkiness whilst the green really seems to match the yarn. I also had a pair of deep pink buttons but I wanted to keep the cardigan unisex. The neck has turned out a bit small (as with the first of these) but you can always leave the top button undone.



Meantime out on the balcony the lettuces and spinaches are really coming along - in fact the baby spinach leaves are edible already.

pak choi

We also had two tub of grow your own salad containing lamb's lettuce, pak choi and more spinach but it turned out we weren't really so keen on them so they've become purely decorative - luckily the flowers are pretty.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

WIP - Classic cardigan

More yarn reclaimed from the stash. I bought this apple green baby cashmerino to knit a pair of fingerless gloves from the (now defunct) Magknits site. I can't recall the pattern name - something to do with the sea?

Classic cardigan - detail

Anyway, I got as far as the fingers on the first glove and just couldn't work out how to continue the pattern into them. I fudged it and made a start on the second glove but it wasn't really working for me so they languished in the UFO pile for a year or two. I had a big tidy up of the stash on Friday - wound all the oddments into neat little balls, separated out the needles, and ripped back anything where the yarn could be used for another project.

Classic Cardigan

Two balls of baby cashmerino (minus the fingers which I could not be bothered to rip back individually) should be just enough for a newborn size baby cardigan. Baby books don't tend to give patterns in actual newborn size (figuring that most knitters want the garment to fit the baby for more than 2 seconds) but it can be achieved by downsizing yarn and needles. In this case I'm knitting the 3-6 month size of a pattern which calls for 4mm/4.5mm needles and aran weight yarn on 3mm/3.25mm needles with a yarn between 4 ply and DK weight to achieve a three-quarters size garment. All the stitch counts remain the same, you just need to remember to multiply all measurements in cm/inches by 0.75.

Classic Cardigan

So far I've knit the body and half a sleeve and I'm still on the first ball. There may even be enough over for matching bootees.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Brand new/old bag

This is more or less my first ever knitting FO.

Knitting/ed bag

I bought the yarn way back when Oxford actually had a Rowan shop (it's now a copy place - sigh) along with a copy of Big Easy in order to knit the pattern Merry. Sadly when the pattern was done not only was I not too keen on the gauge (a little indecent frankly) but the damn thing wouldn't go over my head. After toying with the idea of undoing one shoulder and adding buttons I finally ripped it all out and wondered what to do with the rather expensive yarn.

The answer was this bag from another Rowan big wool book (bought for another doomed Rowan big wool project - more of which later) which knit up quickly and easily, looked great - and stretched like nothing on earth which is why it sat in a drawer for the last two years. It only occurred to me this weekend that lining it might just do the trick.

Pattern: Violet from The Next Big Thing
Yarn: Rowan Big Wool
Needles: 10mm
Lining and handle fabric is by Makower from Hobbycraft.

It's now carrying around my latest knitting project which matches it in a very pleasing manner.

After struggling to machine stitch cotton fabric to chunky merino wool (my poor machine foot) sticking a border around the quilt was the work of a moment (or at least half an hour).

cabbage patch quilt

My cotton batting arrived from the Quilt Room on Monday and I'd be quilting away right now if I hadn't accidentally left the parcel at Ellen's last night - oops. If she brings it to knitting for me on Wednesday please, please don't let me leave it in the pub.

Last but not least, the pattern for the Hopscotch socks is finally up on Ravelry. it has been test knit twice so I'm hoping that there aren't too many errata. If you spot any please let me know via Ravelry or the comments.

Hopscotch #5

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Spring greens

I'm all set to finish the Cabbage Patch quilt now that I've bought fabric for the backing (green gingham) and a border (more cabbages). I also found some lovely variegated thread in yellowy greens for the quilting.

Quilt fabrics

On the knitting front I've cast on another River stole. I've been wearing my old one to work all this week. It's beautifully light so you don't feel like you're wearing a big woolly scarf around the office but toasty warm at the same time and the mohair silk blend just gets softer and softer with wear. The difference between the one I've just cast on (quite crisp and sproingy) and the one I've been wearing is really noticeable.

River stole progress

I've also cast on another Little Pyramids scarf in Artesano 4 ply alpaca for my mum. I'm only an inch in, but then it's not needed until October when it's her birthday.

Little pyramids scarf

Today was typical British Bank Holiday weather. We gamely set off towards Silverdale (nr Morcambe) in the car in lashing rain and were rewarded by it mostly clearing up at we got nearer to the coast.

Silverdale headland

We managed a two hour walk and a picnic lunch by the sea without getting soaked. I had fun playing with the macro feature on my camera and taking pics of wildflowers.

Wild strawberry

British bluebells

Definitely worth getting damp knees for.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Make do and mend

I think that one thing that puts people off knitting socks is the thought of hand knitting something that takes so much punishment. Having worn through a few heels myself I can testify that socks definitely have a shorter shelf life than say a scarf or hat (although you are much less likely to leave them on the bus).

Happily, so long as you catch your socks before they have worn through entirely, they're pretty easy to mend.

can you see the mend?

Whenever you finish a pair of socks try to keep back a couple of metres of the yarn for mending. You can put it in the drawer where you keep the spare buttons from your shirts and trousers, all neatly labelled (what, you don't do that??). Even if you're the sort of person who knits their socks toe-up until the last inch of yarn is gone you can always use a similar yarn. In fact you don't even need to be too careful about matching the colour given that the mend is going to be on the base of your heel.

it's even less obvious on these

Look at the edge of the worn patch that is furthest away from the toe to see where the stitches start to wear thin then count back two rows so that your patch is anchored in firm stitches.

Thread a yarn needle with your mending yarn, then beginning two or three stitches to the right of the worn stitches start to work duplicate stitch following the path of the original stitches in order to reinforce them.

Work until you reach the firm stitches on the left hand side of the patch then move on to the next row and work back in the same way, making sure that you weave the yarn through the new stitches created on the last row. Continue working back and forth like this until you have reached the firm stitches on the toe side of the worn bit and then secure the yarn.

There are pics for this method here. For more traditional darning check out this item from Sky News (there are some great knitting shots!).