Friday, September 28, 2007

Almost October

I am really cold. I just ordered 4 thermal vests and a pair of flannelette pjs by way of long-term investment in living in this draughty Scottish farmhouse. My superstitious self is hoping that this will somehow accelerate the processing of our central heating application! First Love is spending his sleepless nights in the front room with the electric fire on full blast, crouched over the table wearing a hat, coat and quilt... leaving me shivering in bed alone. I have not slept alone for 26 years - blimey! 26 years!?! So I decided to be proactive instead of just complaining.
Which led me to thinking about warm clothes in general, and the absence of hand-knitted jumpers in my wardrobe - how can this be?! So the prevarication project known as Notorious has been swept aside until the sun shines again. This woman needs a woolly jumper!
While I was studying for my Finals at University (and was single and cold) I knitted a gorgeous jumper. It was pine green wool, mostly in a sort of double moss stitch,with a panel of twisted rib down the front and raglan sleeves. The jumper itself and the pattern are long-lost (3 Suisses Junior, I recall) so I am thinking I will try to recreate this old favourite as a design exercise, using my new Denise circular needles.
Off to order some chunky wool - watch this space!

P.S. Remember I broke the points off my new Daisy dpns? Well, I emailed Gill at the Woolly Workshop and she sent me another set, free of charge, and they arrived the following day! How is that for fantastic customer service?!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Woolgirl and another June Bride




My first Woolgirl sock club package arrived yesterday and I am SO pleased I signed up!

The yarn is Miss Babs sportweight superwash merino in a specially-dyed color called "Waterfall". Deep rich blues and purple - mmm! The sunlit picture is the best one of the colour - that elusive blue and purple mix confuses my camera! And it is a deliciously springy 3-ply! I am not immediately sure about the accompanying pattern - it is hard to see but it looks to have lace and cables - and I would probably prefer more solidity for a warm sock in this weight of yarn. I am thinking of knitting Marina Piccola in this yarn - I think it would be a good match. And there are other goodies too - chocolate mint lip balm (smells exactly like After Eights!), a crystal stitchmarker (pretty!) and a Woolgirl Sock Club Journal and pen - woo hoo! I am a sucker for stationery! And there are competitions to enter too! Gold stars for quality, presentation, value and general loveliness!
Also in the post: my Denise interchangeables! Yes, I went for the "maximum flexibility for my pennies" option. I had to buy the pink set (in aid of breast cancer research) as it felt like tempting fate NOT to support this cause.
So I am now itching to cast on for Notorious - and forget those month-by-month plans for knitting projects up to Christmas! Naughty!

BUT I have finished the cashmere (HipKnits buttermilk cashmere sock yarn) June Bride fingerless mitts. The lacey pattern really stands out in a plain yarn (well, duh!) so I did a second lace repeat this time. I also adjusted the sizing and knitted a small hand with a medium thumb - a much better fit for me than small all over. Not sure whether these are for a present, the charity craft stall, or to keep for myself. Cream is not really my colour, but they are SO soft and cosy! Two evenings of knitting for a pair of pretty mitts - brilliant!
The only thing is... I snapped the points off TWO of my brand new Daisy dpns - aargh! They broke at the point where the dark purple joins the light, a clean break. And I am NOT a ham-fisted knitter, honestly! Mutter mutter mutter. Off to email the Woolly Workshop to see if they can replace them...

Monday, September 17, 2007

June Bride's second cousin


Finshed the June Bride mittens, as per instructions. They are lovely!

I emailed Annie Modesitt about the discrepancy between the photo and the charted pattern ... and she emailed back! And the upshot is that the mitts in the photo are not the ones in the pattern: there was a bit of a mix-up and the publisher decided to go to print with the wrong photo. How frustrating that must have been! Crikey - the perils of international knitting design stardom! Seems like a really odd decision to me.

But anyway... I like the pattern as it appears in the book and that is what I knitted. The geraniums photo is the best picture of the colour. The close-up caused the flash to go off and drowned the black. But you can see the lacey back better.


Very quick to knit - I started a second pair yesterday in cream cashmere sock yarn - mmmm!

The first pair was intended for my daughter, but she came across me knitting them and was so disinterested in the yarn that I am thinking these might go to the teenaged cousin for Christmas after all.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mystery mitt

Have you ever tried to wind a ball of wool while sitting in a car? Can I just remind you that it is a really really bad idea to use the steering wheel and/or gear stick to hold the skein? Just saying…

Try explaining that one to the AA.

Luckily, I managed to free the trapped strands on my own. Eventually.

No, of course I wasn’t moving at the time. I blame the Girl Guides myself. If only I didn’t have to spend so long in a car park waiting for them to finish learning how to eat chocolate this would never have happened.

Anyway, wool extracted and wound, I cast on for the June Bride fingerless mitts from “Romantic Hand Knits”. This was a bit of a risk. The yarn (Dyeabolical Yarns Alter Ego superwash merino sock from Etsy, colourway Scratch Art) was calling out for me to do something a bit emo / goth / sk8er girl for my daughter. But the pattern called for two strands pulled from a five-strand cashmere yarn – err right! So I cast on using the 3.75mm needles suggested, just for fun,“got gauge”, shrugged and kept on knitting.

And it is such FUN! I was thrown by the instruction to garter stitch 4 rows before joining the knitting into a round… then I realised this achieved a ruffle cuff with a little notch in it – pretty! I struggled a bit at first with the language of this pattern. Ever done a “vertical double decrease”? You probably have and didn’t realise it. Luckily there is a glossary at the back of the book. I annotated the lace chart and all was well.

It looks NOTHING like the picture in the book. But the photo in the book looks nothing like the chart, however hard I peer at it. Is this actually the same pair of mitts?! Today I emailed Annie Modesitt, the designer, because the chart clearly shows yo's and yet the photo shows a plain-backed mitt! It is really exciting to be knitting a mystery mitten!

But I really like what I see so far. There is a ruffled cuff, ribbing at the wrist to pull it in, then a lace back. The yarn I am using is coming up with a spiralling stripe, which was not at all what I expected. I thought it would have small splotches of colour here and there through fairly solid black. But this is much more exciting! There is a strong diagonal swathe of colour with an arrowhead of lace holes shooting through it - I like it a lot! I will take a photo at the weekend, when I finish them.

I am knitting the smallest size, so I will be interested to see what happens when I knit my next pair, the next size up, for me. Because I certainly will!

The needles are my Daisy dpns. They have added to the fun. They are made of “ABS coloured resin”. You might call them plastic. But they are kind of soft and warm to the touch. I don’t spike my finger on the point when I push against it. They have flexibility but don’t feel like they are about snap. They are PURPLE! If this is what Denise interchangeables are like, my circular decision is made!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Knitting Little Luxuries

New book alert! Coming soon, available to pre-order at Amazon.

"Knitting Little Luxuries" by Louisa Harding.

And there's a slide show of its contents HERE.

I want the bag on the cover, and the little shawlets and the slipover with the diagonal cable and the long fingerless gloves....

Lots of gift ideas!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pigeon Post

Woo hoo! My PigeonRoofStudios order has arrived at last!

And the sportweight sock wool is.... gobsmackingly beautiful! It is like a thicker version of the old Piece of Beauty sock yarn: beautifully springy and soft and the dyeing... ah… sigh…. the dyeing is SO lovely! It is so obviously hand-painted, as in "painted by hand" using a beautiful blend of colours - this is "Nightshade" and it goes through a range of purples with dashes of pure clear blue - wow! Just look at it! It does have a bit of a whiff of vinegar about it, but all is forgiven because it is so totally gorgeous. Can you tell I like it?

I also ordered a skein of handspun. Lovely colours again, but a very uneven spin - it is real "thick and thin" yarn, which I wasn't expecting. It is nothing like the emerald handspun I got from my sockapaloooza pal, and I don't think the two will work together as a Chevron Scarf - boo hoo! So I am not sure what I will do with this... it is very soft, so maybe a simple hat?

I ought to mention that this took a VERY long time to get here. Krista admitted that she had “fallen a bit behind” on international orders, but it is hard to be patient when you see something you must have, order it and wait… and wait… and email… and wait. Luckily I had other projects to distract me. But I thought I should warn you, in case you need some too! Woolgirl stocks her yarn, so I will probably buy from there next time.

It is just as well that I have a dial up connection at home. On Friday I missed the Sheepaints shop opening by an hour and missed all the good stuff. I completely forgot about the Yarn Yard Friday Frolic in my sulk. Then I managed to fill my shopping cart at Poshyarn on Sunday – but by the time my checkout page loaded at 6.05pm, most of the goodies I had selected had been sold! And I failed to get anything at all through the payment process. I also lost a bidding war for a set of Denise interchangeables at Ebay. Sniffle.

Then I came to work yesterday to find one of the yarns I wanted was still available at Poshyarn, and there were two “must haves” over at the Yarn Yard. And I have not ordered any of them … yet! Can you imagine how much money I saved?!

A confession: I have an overwhelming desire to buy some orange and turquoise sock wool – yes, the two colours in the same skein. Wollmeise has a likely suspect – but her shop is closed for online refurbishments. Gemini Knits (Etsy, UK-based) has a version, but is moving house this week. Lovesticks has a self-striping yarn, but it is not available right now. There is another stripey one over at Vesper – but that stuff is like gold dust. And all of this just helps to reinforce the sheer time-wasting ridiculousness of this web-scouring obsession with turquoise and orange! Lets hope it blows over – I do NOT need turquoise and orange socks, people!

Monday, September 10, 2007

SMART

That's what I needed: SMART targets!

So this weekend there were achievements: I finished my flippy skirt. It is distinctly mustard, but is a lovely shape and the claret ric rac gave it a style boost which incidentally tones in beautifully with my NEW SHOES! See see see! Beautiful metallic patent wedges from TopShop - I am a fashionista after all! And they are super-comfortable too! (We won't talk about the hobble from the furthest reaches of the car park over the cobblestones into work today, oh no, that would be silly!)

This doesn't mean I have stopped looking for funky flats to wear with handknit socks - Bryony and Ysolda have both been showing off their lovely sock-friendly shoes recently and I am on the case!


Because I also finished my first Clessidra!

I am VERY pleased with this sock! The colour (Veilchen) is so hard to photograph - it is richer and more Dairy-Milk-wrapper-like than these photos suggest. The Wollmeise superwash sock wool is excellent for a detailed stitch pattern like this. Another blogger recently described it as being a lot like Lorna's Laces and I know what she means, something to do with the distinctly matt appearance and the way it takes the dye - so totally saturated with colour.

I made the leg slightly shorter than written, and this made the double cable at the ankle look a bit less elegant than the original - it could have done with being another inch or so longer. But I don't like socks which end in my knee-crease when I am sitting down, so this is a more practical length for me. I am not planning to knit sock 2 straightaway, but I will definitely get back to it before winter.

Monday, September 03, 2007

September



Is it just me, or do you start to think / panic about seasonal gifts around about now? How many rash promises have I made about hand-knitted socks?
I need a plan. Not just half-formed thoughts.

September:
Finish ten crocheted felted beaded flower brooches for craft stall
Marina Piccola socks for friend (Yarn Yard trente-et-un)
Finish first Clessidra sock (and start the second?) – these are for me, so low priority
October:
More crochet felted flowers – as many as possible

Scratch Art superwash merino socks for my son (hmmm wouldn’t it be more sensible to use a wool / nylon mix in similar colours like Wicked from the Yarn Yard?) Pattern? Something textured but simple.

Chevron mitts for teenaged girl (from stash?)

November:
Socks for my daughter – what yarn? She likes Fyberspates in Seascape from the stash. But if I was buying from the Yarn Yard anyway I could get her Purple Goth… What pattern?

Four pairs of step-grandchildren’s socks…. What size are they? How old are they now? Would any of them appreciate handknitted socks anyway? Who am I trying to impress?! Scrub this plan altogether. Make one pair of socks for First Love’s daughter and leave it at that. Fleece Artist Cosmic Dawn – Pomatomus.

December:

Realise I still need to make Christmas socks for First Love… Austermann Step, Boyfriend Socks.
It is Christmas already! I haven’t even thought about my mother! Gulp.

And when will I find time to knit Notorious?!

Thanks for all the circular advice. I am still thinking. Part of me is going for the cheap and cheerful with maximum flexibility (Denise) and the other part of me thinks I should seek to enjoy knitting big things as much as small... so I should get the best quality, slinky wooden needles. But there is a lot of support for Addis. Thing is, I respect the opinion of all the knitters who have commented, and everyone has had a slightly different opinion. This will be my first foray into circular knitting and Notorious requires 3 different sizes of needle. That in itself makes me lean towards Denise: if I survive this first project, maybe I will buy lovely wooden "singles". Thinking...