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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Make do and mend

In the event my epic train journey this afternoon went remarkably smoothly and was extremely pleasant with minute-perfect connections and bizarrely quiet trains and buses all the way to Banbury.

I finished the all-in-one portion of the knitting on the Katharine vest somewhere between Wolverhampton and Leamington Spa and had finished the left front by the time the bus pulled up at Oxford station.

Katharine vest

It's looking a tad on the small size (as in child-size) but I am keeping faith with the pattern and hoping that aggressive blocking will bump it up to the correct proportions.

I've spotted (I think) one further erratum in the pattern concerning the stitch count after the armhole decreases for the back which I don't think was reported on Ravelry so I'll have to check that out later.

I've recently been using my trusty knitting bag (a Christmas pressie two years ago) as a holder for my current project (rather than as a receptable for an assortment of odd needles and half balls of yarn) and have realised that it really is time that it had a new lining. Not least because the torn plastic of the old one had a very irritating habit of scratching the backs of my hands every time I tried to reach something out of it.


Tatty old bag lining



New bag lining


The main lining fabric is some strong polycotton that I used to make muslins for skirts in the summer. The strip of edging at the top is the snail and peapod fabric bought over a year ago at the Festival of Quilts for Laurie's crib quilt. It's both functional and decorative as I only realised after cutting, sewing, and hemming all the main lining pieces that the sides of the bag were about an inch taller than the ends and so had to improvise something to make the sides a bit bigger - oops!

I made up the lining in its entirety on the sewing machine and then hand stitched it in place to the binding, hems, and zip (anywhere where a stitch could get purchase) of the outer bag.

The added bonus, aside from now having a lovely soft bag lining in which I won't keep losing needles and notions, is that I was able to lose the old electronic security tag which kept setting off the door alarms in Borders and Boots whenever I took it in there.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Silver linings

The plus side of spending over ten hours - five hours due to unscheduled delays and disruptions on Friday evening and another five due to scheduled delays and disruptions on Sunday afternoon - on public transport over the weekend is that you get a lot of knitting done*. I'm now four lace repeats into the vest which was just a smidgen of a swatch when I dashed onto a Newcastle bound train at 17:21 on Friday, I might even have it done by the end of the week!

The pattern (which I mentioned briefly in my last post) is the Katharine vest by Eunny Jang from the Spring 2008 issue of Interweave Knits. Right now, when it's chilly, damp, and dark outside, is a great time to flick through spring designs and plan what I want to have knitted up** and ready to wear when the sun finally breaks through.


I really love little, short sleeved blouses for spring, summer, and autumn and this looks like it would be the perfect vest to match with them. I especially like the deep ribbed waistband which is nice and snug in contrast to the airy lace - I hate having a draughty midriff. In fact this top might even lengthen the stay of execution on my Gap jeans which do leave me feeling rather, well, gappy around the middle.


Other than the fact that I'm knitting mine in 100% Wensleydale Longwool whilst the original is in an 80%/20% cotton/merino blend I'm not planning to make any modifications. Really the pattern is so complicated, shaping + a lace pattern where not all the decreases and increases are on the same row, that I'm not sure I'd know where to start.

* In fact I even got a mini stitch'n'bitch session in with Ruth as we were both stranded at Oxford station waiting for trains to the north and west respectively.

** I'm also liking the (very fancy) Twisted Tulip socks, I think they may have been the reason I bought the mag in the first place, and Anne Hanson's Bleeding Hearts stole - just gorgeous.

Friday, January 16, 2009

5 things that make me happy

1) The new designs on UK coins. Do any other countries have coins that work like a jigsaw puzzle?

2) Leaving work at 4:30 to catch a train meaning that it will still be light (more or less) outside.

3) Starting work half an hour earlier than usual but working up to my usual lunchtime so that the afternoon is half an hour shorter.

4) Finding a pattern that will look good with some stash yarn that I had more or less given up on.

5) Bothering to swatch for said pattern, realising that there is a small error in the chart, and so looking up the errata before I start, rather than when I'm racking my brains for why the cap sleeves aren't quite working.

Happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

For days when knitting takes too long

Having not (for various reasons including being dog tired and having my nose stuck in a book for much of the time) picked up a needle of any description between Friday lunchtime and early Sunday evening I felt in need of a quick craft hit at the end of the weekend. I wasn't really in the mood to knit on the very fine alpaca gloves so I got out the fabric, cutting board, rotary cutter, and sewing machine and had a crib sized quilt pieced up by the end of the Antiques Roadshow (perfect crafting viewing).

Blue quilt

Blue quilt

I used the same pattern for the quilt top as for Laurie's crib quilt which I made last year but I intend to make the quilting a bit more fancy. I'll be doing the quilting by hand which will be good practice for submitting a quilt for next year's Festival of Quilts (apparently I'm already too late for this year!).

Friday, January 09, 2009

Cabbage Patch quilt

The advantage of waiting at home for the Argos delivery men who are bringing a new chest of drawers is that I can take photos in what passes for daylight around this time of the year!

Cabbage patch quilt

I finished the binding on this shortly after getting back from my Christmas break. Hand binding a quilt is a perfect job for the cold weather as you get to snuggle under it whilst you work. This is my first big quilt (just under single bed size) and the first one that I've machine quilted. I'm really pleased with the overall effect despite a few skipped stitches and small tangles on the back. I particularly love the dark green cabbage squares and border and the concentric octagons in the middle of the blocks.

The backing is a bright green gingham and the binding is (yet) more of the cabbage fabric.

Cabbage patch quilt

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Christmas knitting - redux

Epiphany is done and dusted (although the decorations will be staying around until the weekend) so it's a perfect time to crack on with the Christmas knitting. Alas this is not next year's Christmas knitting but rather the knitting of Christmas past come back to haunt me.

Alpaca gloves

Although I made a bold start on my Mum's alpaca gloves (to match the scarf I crocheted for her birthday) with my beautiful new Knitpicks Harmony dpns (*hearts* these needles) on Christmas morning I got somewhat distracted by the need to knit socks for my brother-in-law and then, when they were finished, by the baby sweater which I cast on in the car on New Year's Eve out of the need to have something that I could knit in the dark on the way to and from Manchester. Gloves in 4-ply were far too fiddle and no knitting is simply not an option.

Back to the gloves, they are knit using a tubular cast on with a turned picot edge. I used 2.25mm needles to knit the rounds on the inside of the cuff and then changed to 2.5mm needles to knit the picot round and the rest of the glove. The finer gauge on the inside of the cuff helps it to lie flat rather than splaying out, one of my pet peeves.

Alpaca gloves

As with most hand knitted gloves of my acquaintance it looks much better on than off.

With the first glove finished and the tubular cast on of the second one completed I've just got the cuff and thumb gusset to do, which should be straightforward, and the fingers and thumbs, which should be - well, there's a reason that people say "all fingers and thumbs". Fiddly is not the word!

Monday, January 05, 2009

(Not Quite) FO

It turns out that my announcement of the blue is for boys? baby sweater as an FO was a tad premature.

blue is for boys?

I pounced on Laurie for a quick fitting whilst she was watching In the Night Garden on Sunday morning and it turns out that the sleeves are too tight at the top and the neck gapes. I've fixed the sleeves by changing the pattern to mostly stocking stitch with just the cable down the top and I plan to take 8 stitches out of the neck. The size of babies' heads notwithstanding I reckon it can take it as at the moment as at the moment it fits over my head!

reworked sleeve

In other news, and primarily for the benefit of my parents who are probably wondering what it was they bought when they gave me a yarn winder and swift for Christmas, I've finally found the perfect set-up for my new toys.

BFL cakes

BFL cakes

You wouldn't think that the desk, what with the wide screen monitor, overhanging shelf, etc. was the ideal place for these but it's actually the only suitable surface in the flat as all the rest either have shelves which get in the way or bevelled edges or are just too wobbly! I think it should be fine so long as I don't get any skeins longer than two and a half metres. I've already wound off my skein of Mmmalabrigo sock yarn (which was a complete and tangled nightmare), and four skeins of my bfl handspun which went very smoothly. I plan to knit the finer skeins of that into another Mr Tweedy for myself as it's currently brrrr freezing around here.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Happy 2009!

I'm sure that there are lots of things that I could think of to aim to do in 2009 but here are just a few off the top of my head.

Put in enough training so that running the London marathon in a sub 4-hour time is a reasonable target.
Finish the Anya sweater.
Get a knitting pattern in an actual publication.
Design a full-size adult sweater.
Submit a quilt to the Festival of Quilts in August (not aiming to win anything, just for the fun of seeing it hung on a board).

My two and a bit weeks holiday in Bolton has just flown by. I've been fairly productive. I've finished three knitted items, designed two, and published one. I've been on 6 runs, gone walking in the lakes, attended three football matches, watched cows being milked, made two trifles, and even given the baby her bath all by myself (it's a slippery task).

FO - blue is for boys(?) baby sweater

blue is for boys(?) sweater

Pattern: blue is for boys(?) by Liz Thompson (appearing soon on Ravelry)
Size: 12-18 months
Needles: 4mm and 4.5mm circs, 4.5mm dpns
Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool aran (2 balls)

Friday, January 02, 2009


Bobbins! I've just realised that I never changed the "only you can see this photo" permission on the advent calendar image for December 24th.

Knitted Nativity

As you can see, it's the traditional nativity scene, only knitted! I snapped this in John Lewis in Reading a few weeks ago and saved it specially for the 24th window *kicks self repeatedly*.

Still, it's not quite Epiphany yet so the two magi are still seasonal. Apologies to anyone who was disappointed on the 24th!

blue is for boys(?)

I had a pretty productive run today. Not only did I manage 6 miles in fairly good shape, I also finally decided what to do with the quilt fabric* I bought from the Quilt Room stand at the NEC back in August and that I wanted the baby sweater that I'm designing to have a round(ish) neck and square set-in sleeves.

"blue is for boys" sweater

This project represents my first toe in the water when it comes to designing a sweater in several different sizes (12-18 months, 18-24, and hopefully 2-3 years). Obviously this is no help to those of my friends who have (or are expecting) much younger baby boys** but unless the cables soften up considerably during washing I don't think it will be practical to knit this one any smaller. Of course I could always try a DK version for the baby sizes!

This one (as always) will be going to my niece, Laurie, who in return I hope will let me check the neck shaping on her tomorrow. It's all well and good consulting charts and making measurements but there's just no substitute for checking that the neckhole actually does fit over a real baby's head.

* I'm thinking either swimming pool or log cabin with little hand-stitched waves for the quilting.

** yes I know that can be read in an absurd way but I can't think of a way to rephrase it without the ambiguity.