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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A scrap of lace

Lace tee

I'll give you three guesses as to what I'm knitting now. Yep, it's another EZ seamless hybrid. This time I'm switching things round a bit by knitting it in another yarn (Garthenor Organic laceweight Manx Loghtan) and with a lace pattern thrown in. I think it will look nice as a t shirt worn over a vest in a contrasting colour.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Variations on a sweater

EZ seamless hybrid

Pattern: Seamless Hybrid by Elizabeth Zimmermann from Knitting without Tears
Ravelled: here
Needles: 4mm circs + 3.5mm circs for hem facings
Yarn: Rowan purelife British Sheep Breeds DK Undyed Bluefaced Leicester 3 balls each in fawn and ecru

This shot is almost Rowan-esque*. If it weren't for the fact that I'm wearing thick cotton tights and sitting in a centrally heated modern kitchen rather than an ancient farmhouse somewhere in the wilds of Ireland I could be in the photoshoot for The Next Big Thing. Oh, and the fact that my sweater is knit out of an eminently wearable dk weight yarn rather than the super chunky which makes supermodels look as though they could do with cutting back on the calories a bit.

I appear to be on a bit of a seamless hybrid jag** at the moment. This is my third of the year and I've just cast on for the fourth. I shook things up a bit this time around by knitting exactly the same sweater on exactly the same needles at exactly the same gauge but with a different yarn(!) in two colours(!!). The two colours bit means that this is actually an almost seamless rather than an actually seamless sweater. In the instructions for this sweater in Knitting Without Tears EZ explains how knitting in the round means that you can execute a central double decrease every three rows without any hassle, because all your knitting is done on the right side of the garment. Knitting the yoke in two colours means that instead of knitting in the round you have to knit back and forth and so instead of a straightforward central double decrease on the right side every three rounds you have paired left and right decreases either side of a colour change and on both knit and purl sides of the fabric. So it's a little bit fiddly. But so worth it. I've been wearing this sweater all day today and I plan to wear it all day tomorrow, and then maybe all day the next day too. It's so warm and fitted and the knitterly raglan decreases, intarsia colour changes, and saddle shoulders just give me a warm glow inside every time I look in the mirror.

Talking of technicalities, Felix asked how the turned picot hem is created. It's actually pretty straightforward. Directions are given here for knitting in the round 'cos that's how I roll.

When casting on:

Cast on an even number of stitches using a provisional crochet cast-on.
Join for knitting in the round, then using a smaller size needles knit x rounds (the value of x is up to you but for all my sweaters x = 5).
Change to a larger size needle and knit an eyelet round (K2tog, yo, around).
Knit x rounds with larger size needle.
Undo provisional cast on and slip resulting live stitches onto the smaller needle.
Using larger needle and starting at the beginning of the round knit the first stitch from the larger needle and the first stitch from the smaller needle together.
Continue to K2tog around as set until all stitches from the larger and smaller needles have been knit together.

Using a smaller size of needle for the hem facings means that the hem is less likely to splay out or flip up when being worn. If you don't have a smaller needle then you could try knitting a round less on the hem facings.

* I apologise for the fact that my right arm is over-exposed to the point of disappearing into the wall. Let me assure you that my right arm is still fully attached to the rest of my body. In fact I'm using it to type right now.

** Technical knitting term meaning I just can't stop knitting the damn thing.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I can't think of a title for this post

But at least my sleeves are done!

Hybrid raglan sleeves

Now I just have to knit a few more inches on the body (I took a break from the body to knit the sleeves whilst I reskeined and soaked the remaining yarn which had been ripped out of my brother's sweater) before I can get started on the raglan decreases and then the really fun bit - the saddle shoulders!

I'm really looking forward to finishing my third sweater of the year so far (can you believe I've knit two and a half sweaters already this year?) and even more to wearing it. I think this is going to be a great casual sweater for the spring.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Marathon girl - Week #8

Day #7 - half-marathon race

Venue: Silverstone GP circuit
Distance: 13.1 miles
Time: 01:45:12 hours
Average time (per mile): 08:02 minutes

I am beyond chuffed with my time for this race. I knew I'd been getting faster but 01:45:12 was much better than I'd been aiming for. And I'm even more pleased with my place. I noticed by the time I got to the last 3 miles that I wasn't seeing many other girls and I'm sure that it's partly because there were more male than female entrants but it's certainly a boost to the ego to be running alongside and ahead of a bunch of fit(tish) young(ish) blokes. Anyway I was thrilled to be placed 952nd (out of 5750) overall and 102nd among the women.

Next week it's the first of the really long runs - 18 miles!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Embroidered cake

See last post for the "before" pic. It's definitely a cake as it turns out.

Spring flowers

The prolonged cold snap in January and February has made everything a little later this year. Whilst there are plenty of snowdrops and crocuses still around (including a magnificent display in Somerville College which I must try to photograph) there is hardly a daff to be seen yet. Two years ago I was able to rhapsodize over them on March 1st. In fact there's something a bit wrong about St. David's day with without any daffodils.

Still, with some iron on patterns and a bit of embroidery floss I can have my own spring flowers (or rather the friend to whom I'm giving these as a present later today can).

Embroidered handkerchiefs

You can tell they're hand-embroidered because I stitched the one with the blue flower (bottom right) on the wrong side!

Embroidered handkerchiefs

These are the first things that I've embroidered using the patterns out of the Sublime Stitching pad that Abby gave me for my birthday back in February and they were so much fun to do that I started hunting out all the scraps of plain fabric in the flat.

Jelly/trifle from Sublime Stitching

I can't quite decide if this is meant to be a jelly or a trifle or a cake but it's fabulous whatever it is.

I have a tiny bit of slightly incompetent make do and mending to show you.

Make do and mend hairslides

One of the button slides that I bought at Handm@de Oxford in November came apart a few weeks ago and the pieces have been sitting on the coffee table waiting to be glued back together ever since. Spot the difference? One of the slides has a slightly larger and more cream-coloured button in the centre (or rather off-centre) now after I superglued the original button to the paper I was using to protect the table. Could have been worse though, I nearly glued it to me (in fact I have a slightly gluey patch on my left thumb as I type which is going to take a few days to wear away I think). I'm much better with a needle and thread than I am with glue.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sweater WIN

EZ hybrid sweater

I'm like one of those athletes who does fantastically at the European and World championships but just flops when the Olympics come around. I knocked a sweater out in three weeks before the Knitting Olympics and I've just finished another one in two. I put the final touches to the neckband and grafted the underarms at Bluestockings this evening and then tried it on to general acclaim. I'm so pleased with how this worked out. The fit is great, I really like the 3/4 length sleeves and I love the picot edging at the hems. And it's so warm and cosy - I'm so glad I finished it before the weather got any warmer.

EZ hybrid sweater - neck detail

Pattern: Seamless hybrid by Elizabeth Zimmermann from Knitting without Tears
Yarn: Sublime Angora Merino (6 balls)
Needles: 3.5mm and 4mm circs
Size: 34"
Ravelled: here

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Marathon girl - week #7

Day #7 - cross-country race

Venue: Horspath
Distance: 4 miles
Time: 30:41 mins
Average time (per mile): 07:40 minutes
Position: 52nd (out of 111)

Start of men's xc race at Horspath

[That's the BMW Mini plant that you can see in the background. Scenic!]

Go me! That's only about 6 and a half minutes after the winner and I felt pretty competitive all the way round, i.e. actually trying to overtake people rather than just slogging on and hoping it would all be over soon. I think I may finally be a real cross-country runner, I even went straight through the muddy bits (and they really were very muddy) rather than picking my way round the edges in order to gain places. As you can see from the photo it was an absolutely gorgeous day though bitterly cold but running up Shotover hill will soon get you warmed up. I did also have a lovely cup of Clipper Organic decaf tea courtesy of the vacuum flask that Felix gave me for my birthday.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Knitting Olympics update

You might have guessed from the complete lack of fanfare that I did not manage to bring home gold in the Knitting Olympics. At midnight on Sunday with 3 and 3/4 hours to go until the end of the closing ceremony I was some back neck shaping and a neckband short of my goal and my numbers for the back neck shaping weren't adding up. I think if the numbers had been right I might have pressed on but it seemed wiser not to turn up for work on Monday morning completely exhausted just in order to meet a fairly arbitrary and self-appointed goal. Especially as I had already missed the rather more concrete deadline of finishing in time to actually give the thing to my brother whilst up in Bolton that weekend.

EZ Hybrid sweater for Ste

EZ Hybrid sweater for Ste

Anyway, it's done now barring the blocking and the snipping off of a few woven-in ends. I do love turned hems. They're just such a neat way to finish off any project.

So, one EZ hybrid raglan down, another one still on the needles. For me(!) this time. Knitting for myself, I can hardly believe it. I think this sleeve just needs another inch to hit a nice point somewhere between 3/4 and bracelet length then there's just one more sleeve to go before I can join them both to the already knit body and get started on the yoke.

EZ hybrid sweater for me

[note the paired left (lalinc) and right (larinc) (see Cat Bordhi's New Pathways book) increases on the inside of the sleeve - hurrah for tiny knitterly details that only I will ever notice]

Hopefully the shirt yoke should give a neat square neckline to be set off nicely by another turned picot hem, have I mentioned that I like those?

btw if you haven't already seen it do pop over to the Yarn Harlot to see her absolutely magnificent Whistler sweater with which she won gold, rounding off an already splendid games for the Canadians.


It's all well and good making March the month of healthy eating but then the boyfriend announced that he had to make cupcakes for his colleague (and my friend) Kathrin's birthday and could I help. Fittingly he picked a recipe (Devil's food cake cupcakes) out of the book of cupcake recipes that Kathrin gave me for my birthday last month.

Making cupcakes

[making the batter]

The boyfriend was very excited by the 'owl' that appeared when he took the mixer out of the bowl of chocolate icing and insisted that I take a photo. Well, it's as much like an owl as all those images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary that Americans keep finding in their poptarts.

Making cupcakes

[chocolate icing]

The cakes rose a little bit more than we anticipated but there were enough 'good' ones for the boyfriend to take into work this morning.

Making cupcakes

[Devil's Foodcake cupcakes]

Making cupcakes


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Marathon girl - week #7

Day #5 - short run

I don't have a distance or a time for you* but I do have pictures! I've been saying for ages that I wished I could take my camera out with me when I go running in order to show you all the lovely things I see en route. Well finally I have a mobile phone with a decent enough camera and (more importantly) something to carry it in (my lovely new Camel-bak Charm**).

I do like the new phone - it's shiny and has a (slightly tricky to use) touch screen.

New phone

Anyway, today was a lovely day so I went for a run by the river. I ran the same route on Monday and it was amazing how much the ground had hardened up in just three days.

Out for a run

[by the boatyard]

It really feels like a holiday from work when you're out in the meadow with the sun shining.

Out for a run

[geese by the beach]

It's tricky to see from this photo but the brownish grey blobs are a flock of Greylag geese flying low across the field, straight at me. I know that geese aren't (that) stupid and that they can fly around obstacles but believe me, I took this photo and then hit the ground. I figure being hit by one of those things at speed wouldn't be much better than being hit by a car!

Out for a run

[Greylag geese]

After the meadow it's across the bridge next to the very picturesque but somewhat overpriced Trout Inn, the boyfriend and I haven't been back since we were charged the best part of £10 for a half of cider, a pint of beer, and a packet of crisps.

Out for a run

[The Trout Inn]

Finally you run back via the canal and it's back to work in time for a shower and a bit of lunch.

Out for a run

[Canal barges]

* the distance is tricky to measure when you're off road without a GPS and the time was severely impacted by keeping stopping to take pictures for your benefit.

** I love this so much. It's absolutely perfect for running and the fact that it sits on my shoulders without bouncing or rubbing means that I can finally carry my phone whilst out running.