Monday, 31 December 2007

Finished in 2007

So, here's what I actually managed to finish this year. If I do manage to get Benedikta finished this evening, I will edit this - otherwise she will go into the list for 2008.

3 pullover tops -
1 cardigan jacket -
5 scarves -
7 hats -
1 pair of slippers -
  • Felted Ballerina Slippers, Cascade 220
1 pair of mitts -
and 20 pairs of socks. Hmmmm that is plenty of socks....
38 projects in all. Not too bad, considering there was a very time consuming house move in the middle of all that. But next year, I intend to make more sweaters. And lace...... whatever happened to lace?

More large projects, less of the small stuff. Definitely.

New Year's Eve

Yesterday evening I finished the fifth round of mitred blocks on Benedikta - here it is, both sides. Slightly out of focus in one picture, sorry about that - but there will be more.

I am pretty much decided that the side with the orange stripe will be the front. I am also pretty much decided that the neckband will be worked in the round, even though it is garter stitch, so that I can avoid a seam.

So now I am going to place two more blocks front and back, to shape the V neckline, and seam the sleeve raglans. Then it is the neckband to work, and it is all done.

I shall miss this project, it has really been entertaining.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Still knitting mitres

Yesterday evening I finished the fourth round of mitres. I've got one more round to work, in colour 2010 which was used for the very first round, as well.

Here are the two sides, first thing this morning.

I'm still not positive which will be the front and which the back. Anyway, when the whole thing is finished, the only break in the symmmetry of the construction will be the neckband seam, placed behind one shoulder. I could get round that by working the neckband in the round, of course, and I'm thinking about doing precisely that.

Today and tomorrow should be quiet. We aren't expecting any guests, so I should have lots of knitting time.

The hats and scarf were well received, by the way, which is always nice.

So, what's left to do? Eight blocks in this fifth round, four more blocks to shape the neckline. Four raglan seams to stitch, the neckband to be picked up and worked, and finally the sleeve seams. That is a fair amount, actually.

Well, whether I finish it before the year's end or whether I don't, I shall enjoy knitting it! This project has really been a joy. I am still thinking about what to start next, and I am very undecided. I could start Sorrel, or I could start the Cobblestone Pullover. The yarn for Earnshaw is sitting there on the shelf looking luscious, as well. Or maybe Mr Greenjeans? Or Malt?

So many choices. I think I shall just enjoy Benedikta for the time being, and then make my husband's promised sleeveless pullover, probably.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Saturday morning

I think it is Saturday. I seem to be completely out of sync with the calendar at the moment.

Anyway, I am back to Benedikta. Nearly three mitres finished now in the fourth round. This round is worked in 2011, the same as the garter bands and sleeves. Here is the front - there hasn't been any addition to the back just yet.

I have also finished the requested scarf.

Just about six foot of 2 row stripes in 1x1 ribbing, with slipped stitch edges. This wasn't as tedious as one might have thought. It went surprisingly fast, and changing colours became completely automatic - although I did forget the slipped stitch at the end of the row just a couple of times. This didn't bother me enough to make me go back and fix it though.

This is more of that incredibly cheap yarn from Lidl, 80% acrylic 20% wool, and it took one and a bit skeins in each colour. Nice and soft, and pleasant to knit. I've got no problem at all working with this stuff. I infinitely prefer it to the Patons Diploma Gold with which I made Exchequered.

It has produced a beautifully soft, light and drapy scarf, with a feel of pleasant solidity to it, thanks to the 1x1 ribbing. And of course there is not a hint of curling or any similar misbehaviour.

I cast on 25 stitches and worked according to Jared Flood's generic Noro scarf - slipping the stitches at the beginning and end of the second row in each colour. This does get around the problem of slipped stitches combined with stripes - if you work the slipped stitch at the beginning of each row, then you get the colour from the stripe below lifted up and showing as the first stitch in the row of the colour change. However I am not entirely sure that I like the finish with the slipped stitch at the end of the row immediately followed by the colour change - the edge seems to look looser than I would like. The other edge is fine though, and the rolling of the slipped stitch does hide the stranded yarn quite perfectly.

When I come to work the Noro striped scarf myself, I shall do some experimenting. This one however, was worked slip 1 purlwise, (p1, k1) repeat to end of row - then slip 1 purlwise, take yarn between needles to the back, (k1, p1) repeat across. If that makes any sort of sense.

Today we have guests for lunch, so I will be busy. I should be able to get some more mitres done this evening though. If I finish the fourth round today, and the fifth round tomorrow, then I can work the seams and the neckband on Monday - and Benedikta will be finished before the end of the year. Well, maybe.

As I remember saying before - this isn't impossible, just unlikely. Still, you never know....

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Resizing Benedikta

Before I forget - I've had a couple of queries about this.

Benedikta has a finished size of 46 1/2" around the chest, and although this is fine for me, with plenty of positive ease, it isn't going to suit everyone. Fortunately, resizing is entirely possible.

There are several ways to alter the sizing of a pullover with a modular construction like this. Firstly, you could play around with the gauge. I wouldn't really recommend this, unless of course you wanted to use a different yarn. Noro Silk Garden Lite works up very nicely at 5 stitches to the inch, and I would stay with that.

It would also be possible to alter the number of blocks around the body, but you'd have to add an even number of blocks both front and back, in order to keep the V neckline and the raglan sleeve shaping. Each block measures 5 3/4" across - so adding two blocks front and back would add 23" in total, bringing the chest measurement up to 69". Now there are pullovers with a shape like this - wide and drapy - and they work very well. I'm thinking of Shirin Guild's work, specifically - have a look at the collections. Ok, not handknit, but you get my drift. I absolutely love Shirin Guild's clothes actually, they are very flattering and wearable - although I will admit that I get them from eBay rather than new from her shop.

Where was I? - right, wide and drapy. Very wide actually. Maybe good, maybe not - needs thought.

Last method - and the best, I think - would be to change the dimensions of the blocks. As the pattern is written, each block is 5 3/4" wide - and there are four blocks point-to-point across the width - so that gives 46" or thereabouts.

For a pullover that would be 40" around, we'd need each block to measure just 5" across from point to point. A bit of arithmetic tells us that a block with 18 stitches to a side would measure just very fractionally over 5" across - giving a garment measurement around of just about 41", and a 17 stitch block would measure 4.8" across - giving a garment measurement of about 38 1/2".

So there you are. There will be some other changes that need to be made, but none of them present any difficulty.

The cast on number for the garter bands would need to be changed accordingly, no real problems there. The sweater will be shorter too of course. A couple of extra rounds of blocks could be added - it is quite a short pullover, to begin with - or else just one round, if the garter bands were worked together, so that there were just one seam rather than two. A single seam could be placed behind the right hip perhaps, in much the same way as the neckband seam is placed behind the right shoulder.

The depth of the armhole will be reduced, and this can be compensated for by increasing the depth of the neckband. Also, the depth of the sleeve shaping will need to be reduced correspondingly. It is very easy to alter the width of the sleeve, too, of course.

So resizing Benedikta is not impossible at all. If anyone decides to do this, I'd be really interested to hear about it!

Two days, three hats

Well, here we are on the other side. I do hope that you had as excellent a time as we did. I love having everyone together here, it happens so rarely these days now that people are grown up and have their own lives.

Benedikta has been sadly neglected over the last two days, I'm afraid. This is not just because things have been busy - because really by lunchtime on Christmas day all the cooking is done, after all. It is rather because I will happily drop all other projects when one of my family actually asks me to knit them something, and this time the requests were for hats with earflaps, and maybe a scarf as well, please.

So, Rowan 30 came off the shelf, as that is where Kim Hargreaves' excellent earflap hat pattern Lottie is to be found, and the Lidl yarn was dug out from the stash.

First the hat exactly as written, in the grey mix yarn, and with good long strings, as requested by the recipient. Apparently hats like this are fashionable at the moment, in student circles at least.

And then one in the dark navy, without strings. About as simple as an earflap hat can be, really.

Each of these two hats took one skein of the Lidl yarn, that would be 100 grams. I have no idea of the length though, this yarn doesn't have any information about it. Anyway, 8mm needles, and worked flat from the top down, with a seam up the back - a very fast knit indeed.

After this I thought I would make something a little more substantial. The last time I made EZ's Ganomy Hat, the recipient said that they would prefer something a little less gnome-like, not so pointy. Well, it is titled Ganomy (gnome) for a reason, and does have that certain pointiness to it, even though it does have excellent earflaps.

Anyway, I made some modifications this time round, and added decreases to the top at the front and back in order to make a more head-shaped hat. The result is actually rather pleasing - this is probably the best-fitting hat I've ever made. I did make some notes as I was going along, and I hope I'll be able to reproduce this one on request.

This took rather more than one skein of the Lidl yarn, worked firmly on 6.5mm needles to give 4 stitches to the inch, and really I think it has worked very well indeed. For warmth, it would be better made in wool, of course, as would all these hats - but the advantage of these is that they can be thrown in the washing machine with impunity.

Right now, I'm going to go and see how fast I can knit a scarf, because I do want to be wearing Benedikta before the end of the year.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Christmas Eve

It is strange, it doesn't really feel as Christmassy as it did over the weekend. I suppose it is because the frosty weather has left us, and we are back with grey skies and mild temperatures. But it does seem very good to me, just to know that the year has turned, and the days are starting to get longer.

This weekend has been so incredibly busy that I can hardly believe it has been only a couple of days without posting, it feels much longer. There is more family still to arrive - although there is no shopping at all to be done, thank goodness.

I did get the second sleeve finished.

I had a vague idea of trying to get the two sleeves to match, and started the second one with the same colour as the first one. All was well for about two inches or so, and then there was a break with a knot and an abrupt colour change (I undo these, and make a felted join instead) - and then there was another break - and another.... I had given up hope of things matching even remotely, what with extra green stripes and extra orange stripes.

And then - well, you can see! Very surprisingly, they ended up at the same point. Really rather good, but I cannot take any credit for it at all - that is just how it worked out.

Also, I have finished the third round of blocks. This is the back, and I was working from left to right across the top here.

This round was worked in colour 2014, straight from the skein all the way round, exactly as the colours came off the skein. And because I've done this, I can now tell you that one round of blocks takes one whole skein, plus a few yards. The blue block on the top right was the last one, and you can see a little bit of grey at the top - that is the 'few yards'.

There is really going to be plenty of yarn left over. It is apparent Ms Tuttle Hamilton has given yarn requirements that allow for a lot of picking and choosing of colours. Or for having enough yarn left over for a multi-directional scarf!

Now I'm working a round with 2011, the same colour as the garter stitch bands. After that there is a round with 2015, the same colour as the first round of blocks - then four more blocks from whatever colour I choose, to shape the V neckline - and then the neckband.

It will be done before the year ends, that is for certain!

Friday, 21 December 2007


It has certainly been a week and a half, as they say.

No knitting progress worthy of being photographed - in other words, no more pretty mitres just yet. I do have a good chance of getting Benedikta finished this weekend. The second sleeve will not take long to finish, I have just finished the increases and the raglan always goes quickly. After that the third round needs three more mitres to finish, and then there are two more rounds, seaming the sleeves, and working the neckband. Not completely impossible, although perhaps a bit unlikely.

We really are almost ready. There is still the last supermarket visit to do, and that is going to happen at some strange hour, later this evening. We don't often take advantage of the fact that there is 24 hour opening, and hopefully it will not be quite so insanely crowded then as it will be over the weekend.

After that, we are staying at home. We are not going anywhere near any shop whatsoever, for any reason at all.

So I should be able to knit, you see!

I've been thinking about my lovely new job. Well, of course I have. But specifically about the dress code - I need to wear Rowan handknits, preferably from the current season. That is a little difficult right now, as all I have made from Rowan 42 is my Tartan Scarf. Gorgeousness yes, but not really indoor wear.

I do however have the yarn for Sorrel hiding in the stash - this is from Rowan 40 - and I'm thinking about starting it soon. This does have rather a low neckline as it is written, but the section inside the cowl neckline is actually worked separately and then seamed in place - so I can make the neckline a rather more normal depth.

In the New Year, I am also thinking about a couple of things from Rowan 42. Firstly, Cordoba, probably recoloured in a slightly darker palette -

and also possibly Ombre, which you can see below.

I am rather taken with this - although as Susan says, this picture may well take the prize for the worst photo of a garment. Looking at the schematic and the pattern though, and I can see that this could be really lovely. So, both of these have distinct possibilities.

I'll put up some more pictures of Benedikta soon!

Thursday, 20 December 2007


I'm going to be a Rowan Design Consultant.

I can't even begin to tell you how pleased and excited I am about this. This has been my dream job for a long, long time - and I still cannot quite believe that the vacancy came about just at the right time, and in the right place.

I'll be starting in the New Year, once the sales are out of the way, and I will be based at John Lewis Cribbs Causeway, near Bristol - Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

There is a strange mixture of feelings at the moment - I really want to do well at this job, yet I am also just a little apprehensive - after all, I've never worked in a retail environment before.

But really, it is a door opening for me, a wonderful opportunity. And I shall see where it leads!


Goodness, I shall be glad for a day when we don't have to go anywhere.

Yesterday, rather too many hours in the car, and not much knitting time after all, because it was dark for most of the way back. I don't mind knitting in the dark if there isn't any shaping, but I didn't want to mess up the sleeve increases, so I stopped when the light went.

Today, the second interview. And then some errands, which I am not really looking forward to, because the shops are getting incredibly busy. But that will get worse before it gets better, as they say.

Knitting pictures when I've got something to show. Four inches of a sleeve isn't really very interesting, so I won't inflict that on you.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007


We are off out the door in just a short while, down to the south coast to visit my mother. It's about a two hour drive each way, and I will be a passenger on the way back, so I will get some knitting done then.

I'll be starting the second sleeve, as this is much easier travel knitting than the blocks. Here are the two sides of the body, first thing this morning.

I didn't get a whole round finished yesterday, just the four blocks across the front and one at the back. The five that you see here - four in the top picture and the one in the top left corner of the lower picture - these were all worked in sequence, straight from the skein, left to right across the top picture and finishing with the one in the lower picture. Some striking colour changes, as I think I've remarked before.

I like the front better than the back - well, that's why I've picked it as the front, of course - and I think this is because of the balance between light and dark. I think I need more dark squares on the back, perhaps. The only physical difference between the front and back on this pullover is the placement of the neckband seam at one of the back raglan lines, other than that the whole thing will be reversible front-to-back.

There is going to be a lot of yarn left over, at this rate.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Tuesday morning

Another busy day today. Lucy has a visit to the groomers to make her look beautiful - much needed actually, she looks like a mop on legs at the moment - and whilst she is being sorted out, we are heading to Sainsbury's with a long shopping list, ready for family arriving at the end of the week.

Knitting has resumed, thankfully, and this morning I have finished the second round of blocks. Here are the two sides of the work.

I still think that the side with the orange stripe along the border is going to be the front, although I am still not certain. (By the way - remedy for burnt finger - hold under cold running water for ten minutes. Yes, ten full minutes. Apply ice as needed for the next few hours. It worked for me.)

The next colour is 2014. Still no VM at all in the yarn, which is excellent.

The interview yesterday went really well. I am very excited about all this, but I do have a slight case of cold feet with regard to returning to the work environment. I suppose that is to be expected after such a long break - it is four years now - but I know that I would absolutely love this job. It is an opportunity that doesn't come along very often, and if I were to turn it down then I know that I would be kicking myself for probably the next ten years, approximately.

There hasn't been a final decision yet, I still have one more interview to go. That may happen in the next few days, or it may not happen until after Christmas. I'll find out today.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Not cool! and proud of it!

It seems that we are all agreed that we like looking at work in progress. I certainly do - it is so interesting watching a project grow, and hearing about the problems and the pitfalls and the fixes - there is always something that can be learnt.

I talked about process and function a little while ago, and came to the conclusion that whilst I love the process, the success of the product is paramount for me. However, if we didn't enjoy the process, then we wouldn't be knitters in the first place, and observing the process - looking over each others shoulders as we work on our various projects - well, that is nearly as good as working on that project ourselves.

So I think that being 'not cool' is the way to continue.

With regard to Benedikta, unfortunately I don't have anything to show you today. I've been out for much of the day, and this evening I managed to burn my right forefinger. Daft of me, really, picking up a hot pan without a potholder. What was I thinking? Not a lot, apparently.

At the moment it is not really possible to knit, no matter how I do it, as I keep having to stop and put my hand on ice. And it is not so easy to type one handed, either.

I've nearly finished the second round of blocks, by the way. If I hadn't managed to burn myself than I'd be onto the third round this evening. Very annoying, really. But I should be able to get some pictures in the morning, even if there has been a slight pause in the general progress.

I've decided to let Eisaku Noro look after the colour placement, by the way, and this is actually a substantial relief, not to be worrying about whether the block placement could have been improved. The only time I am intervening is when it is obvious that I would end up with two adjacent colours which are pretty much identical - this happened yesterday evening, with two light grey blocks. So I moved over and worked the light grey block in the next slot instead, and then went back and filled the gap.

Much easier just to let it flow. After all, the unexpected combinations of colours are what Noro yarns are all about.

And I'm still thinking about that Earth Stripe Curtain. It is such a big project, as big as three Earth Stripe Wraps. Would I get fed up with it? But it would be so beautiful.....

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Not cool?

Recently I have heard it mentioned - more than once - that it is not really 'the done thing' to post pictures of work in progress in one's blog. The thing to do, apparently, is to remain silent until the whole thing is finished, and then post about it.

Well, if that is the case, then I am already a lost cause, and must resign myself to being terminally uncool. So, I will just carry on.

Yesterday I continued working on Benedikta, and I finished the first of the five rounds of blocks, which were worked in colour 2010. I still have almost 100 grams of the original 150 for this colour, so there will be plenty for the other round of blocks to be worked in this colour.

Here is the state of play first thing this morning.

The two sides are looking very different. I have not yet decided which side is going to be the front. At the moment I am tending towards the first one, with the orange stripe in the lower border. I'm really not sure yet though, I will see how I feel as it continues.

There are some striking colour changes in this yarn. I worked the first three blocks in the lower picture - right to left - all in sequence, straight from the skein. Then I switched to another skein and worked that last block that looks light blue and actually is a bright turquoise-y green, followed by the first two on the right in the top picture, all in sequence, once again straight from the skein. Then I switched back to the first skein again, and worked the last two on the left in the top picture.

I'm thinking that maybe I need to give more thought to which colour goes where. Or possibly less thought, and simply leave it up to Eisaku Noro, who certainly knows more about these things than I do.

By the way, I take back what I said before about there being lots of spiky bits in this yarn that needed to be picked out. With 2011, there was a lot. But with 2010, there has been none at all, and I think this may be some sort of record for Noro. No vegetable matter whatsoever.

Also, I'm still thinking that the yarn quantities will be very close as regards 2011. The sleeves and lower borders will take more than six skeins. One round of blocks will take just about one skein, with no picking and choosing of which colour goes where. So that leaves less than one skein for the neckband. Quite possibly not enough, as this is a wide neckband. But with regard to the other yarn colours, there is no problem at all, in fact I am sure there will be substantial leftovers. So that will all work out.

The next round is worked with colour 2015. This goes from black, through grey to mauve to coral/orange, and then gold, deep green, and back to black again. I only have to work one round of blocks in this colour, so I can dip into the three different skeins as I choose.

After that, three more rounds of blocks - 2014, 2011 again, and 2010 again. Then just four blocks to shape the V neck front and back, and all that remains is the sleeve and the neckband. When did I start working this pullover? Tuesday 11th December, I think. At this rate, I might get it finished for next weekend. That would be rather good.

Not sure when I will get to the computer tomorrow - I have that job interview that I mentioned. I find that I am very much looking forward to it actually.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

We have mitres!

I'm incredibly pleased with the way this is working up. Very childish, I am sure, but this is about as different from the endless socks as it is possible to get.

The second border was finished yesterday, together with the points - that is interesting knitting in the car, I can tell you. I seamed the sides during the evening.

Seaming garter stitch is something that I find can either work absolutely beautifully, or else look like a complete mess - like a lot of things in knitting, now that I come to think about it.

I work the seam as a modified mattress stitch, from the right side, of course. You know how in garter stitch, the 'purl bumps' are in chains across the work, with top links and lower links - I take the yarn first through a lower link on one side of the seam and then through a top link on the other side. This usually means coming in half a stitch on one side, and an additional stitch on the other side, which always seems wasteful. But it works very well and produces a neat and flexible seam, with the purl bumps interlocking straight across the seam like the teeth of a zip, with the colour change right in the middle. And yes, I know there are green bits in the yarn right there, it is just how the yarn worked out.

I've tried working with the bumps nearest the edge on both sides, and the result just isn't as good. If anyone is interested, I could post some 'how to' pictures of this at some point.

Anyway, I seamed the sides. And then! Mitres!

I love this. I can't seem to put it down. Excellent fun.

This is really very easy, once the picking up stitches is sorted out. And the construction of the mitres, with the purl ridges at intervals, makes it look as if the knitter has done something extremely clever with different yarns, when in fact all I have done is work straight from the skein.

I did give some thought to how to pick up the stitches for this. There are 15 ridges along each of the border points, and 20 stitches to be picked up. So, pick up one in each of three ridges, and then one in a gap. And repeat, ending with one stitch picked up after the last ridge. Works beautifully, and no holes anywhere. This is a well written pattern, definitely.

Picking up stitches for the next round of mitres will be easier still - first, one stitch above the first ridge, then one in the ridge and two between, and repeat. It is all very obvious when you actually have the work in front of you, and for me, obvious is good, with regard to technique anyway.

This colour of Silk Garden Lite is 2010. I have three skeins of this to play with, and that needs to produce two full rounds of mitres - 16 in all. At the moment I am just working straight from the skein, with no playing around. That may change.....

What else - shopping yesterday. We went to Cribbs Causeway. I have never in my life been to a shopping complex of such a size, really it was something of a culture shock. That place is just enormous. I mean, really really huge. It is bigger than the shopping complexes in Basingstoke, and in Guildford, and the Oracle in Reading, all put together. Huge. So many shops, so many people.... We felt like the country bumpkins come to town.

Anyway, we visited John Lewis, amongst other places, and I may have happened to buy some Noro Silk Garden for a Stripy Scarf like Jared's and Norma's - well, hopefully like theirs. I've got 2 skeins each of colours 47 and 8.

This weekend we are not going anywhere at all. There will be housework (a regrettable necessity) and general tidying up before the arrival of family next week.

And there may be some spinning, if I can get myself to put down these mitres for long enough.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Friday morning

Just a quick update, as we're off out the door again in a minute. We're going to explore a little in Bristol - well not actually in the city centre, rather a large shopping mall on the outskirts. We haven't been into Bristol at all yet, the only thing we've done so far is zoom past it on the motorway. Today we are going to have a wander around some shops. Hopefully it won't be too crowded, but anyway there is no pressure as we have finished all the Christmas shopping already.

First of all now, before I forget - in response to several queries - this pattern, Benedikta, is from Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton's new book called 'Wanderlust'. It is pictured on the front cover, actually. The pattern is given for one size only, to fit M/L, finished chest measurement 46 1/2", and the finished length is 23 1/2". It is written for Silk Garden Lite (ugh to the name but most definitely not to the yarn) and it takes 150 grams of each of three contrast colours, and 400 grams of the main colour. Gauge is 20 sts = 10cm in stocking stitch.

I'm using the same colours as suggested in the pattern - 2011 is the main colour, and that's the only one I've actually used so far. Contrasts will be 2010, 2014, and 2015.

I'm finding vegetable matter in the yarn, as seems to be pretty much standard with Noro - except that there seems to be perhaps more than I have encountered before. I suspect this is just because the yarn is slimmer, dk weight instead of aran weight, and so the thorny bits (some of which are quite sharp) are more noticeable. I'm removing them as I go, and I'm finding that the resulting fabric is excellent. I definitely prefer Silk Garden Lite to the standard Silk Garden - but maybe that's just me, I will always pick a finer yarn over a thicker one.

Yesterday was quite a busy day, with lots of driving - however I did manage to get a fair amount done. I've finished the first sleeve completely, and started the second lower border.

Today I want to finish the second border, together with the points, seam the sides, and maybe start the blocks. Or the second sleeve - I'm wondering whether to keep that for travel knitting. I think I will start the blocks, and see how they go. The advantage of modular knitting is that you can always put it down and go and work on another bit.

I'm wondering about the amount of yarn specified in the pattern for the main colour. The first border and one sleeve used more than three skeins - both borders and both sleeves would need most of 7 skeins. That leaves one round of blocks and the neckband - which is wide - to be worked with one and a bit skeins, as the pattern specifies 8 skeins of the main colour.

As each of the three other colours has three skeins each specified, and that is for either one or two rounds of blocks - well, I am wondering if there is enough of the main colour.

On the other hand, there will be plenty of leftovers from at least two of the contrast colours, I expect. And I also think that this allows for the blocks to be started at the beginning of colour sections.

We shall see.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Thursday morning

It is absolutely freezing this morning, and we have a long drive ahead of us. I should be able to knit on one leg of the journey, which is nice.

I didn't get as much done yesterday as I had hoped for, due to the builders arriving unexpectedly to sort out our bathroom floor. It is very nice that they have turned up so soon, this does mean that there is a fair chance that the whole thing will be finished properly before Christmas - however it is sheer chance that we were actually here. We could quite easily have decided to do our visiting yesterday.

Anyway, I did get some knitting done. I am still loving this yarn, really it is much nicer to work with that the traditional Silk Garden.

Here is the state of play first thing this morning - I've done a little more since then, and joined the third skein. The first lower border is finished, complete with points, and about half of the first sleeve is done as well. The markers are so that I can see quickly how many increases I have worked, in my usual fashion, because I dislike counting the same rows repeatedly. You can see also the remains of the first two skeins of yarn.

I need to work just a few more increases, and then it is straight up until the raglan shaping begins. I haven't made a raglan sleeve for ages.

Right, we need to be off.

It is so nice to be working on a sweater again!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007


First of all, thankyou Heather and Marianne for the reassurance!

I have - of course - carried on. I am sure you are right, the mitres will bring it in a bit. My stocking stitch tension was spot on, so we will just have to see how it goes. Once I have done a couple of rounds of blocks, it will be interesting to see what the width is looking like then.

We don't have to go out or do anything particular today, just for a change, so hopefully I should get plenty of knitting done. I am really enjoying working with this nice yarn. Colour changes get me every time, and it is so nice to have them in a dk weight yarn instead of aran weight.

Anyway, here is the state of play this morning.

I have just finished my 8cm of garter stitch, and I am about to start the points. I am - rather childishly! - looking forward to this.

Tomorrow we have another long drive for the next in the round of pre-Christmas visits, and I think that I may perhaps start one of the sleeves. I'll get this border finished today, of course, and see how far I get with the other one.

Or, if I get them both finished, then I can start the blocks. Now there's a thought!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Riddle me this....

I am wondering. Maybe I am missing something incredibly obvious here. Let me run this past you, and perhaps somebody can help me here.

The finished chest measurement for Benedikta is, according to the pattern, 46 1/2" - 118 cm. Tension is 20 stitches to 10 cm in stocking stitch - so that would be 5 stitches to the inch. There is no shaping in the body of the pullover at all.

All fine so far. Now. The border at the bottom is worked in garter stitch. Tension in garter stitch is usually the same as stocking stitch, with regard to the stitch count - yes? Not the row count, obviously, but that's not the problem.

You see, I've just been sitting here watching the radar on Ravelry, which is incredibly addictive by the way, and knitting garter stitch. Lovely, especially with this nice yarn. But then I held up my work and actually looked at it - and it occurred to me that Benedikta was looking to be rather wide. Not just 46 1/2" around type wide, which is quite big enough thankyou very much, but even wider than that.

So then I did a bit of arithmetic, and got even more worried.

I will explain. The cast on number for each of the two garter stitch borders at the bottom is 129 stitches. If I allow one stitch each side for the seam, then that means that the width of the border is 25.4". Which means a measurement all the way round of 50.8"...... and that is rather wide. Also, it is not 46 1/2".

The cast on number is definitely right. It is the foundation for all those modular blocks, you see. I've checked it all through, and that is the number that the pattern needs.

So, where has that extra 4" come from? And more to the point, where is it going to go? - if anywhere?

Maybe the lower edge of Benedikta is sort of scalloped - that has occurred to me. It doesn't show anything like that in the photographs in the book, which doesn't mean that it won't be the case, of course. So this might be it - but at the moment I cannot tell, and anyway I don't think I would be seeing this happening until there were at least a couple of rows of blocks.

Or maybe Benedikta is just going to be huge. I do hope not - somebody, please tell me I've made a silly error in my arithmetic?

In the meantime, I am going to knit a swatch and check my stocking stitch tension. I don't do this very often. Extreme measures, definitely.

The socks, they are finished....

The gift socks are indeed finished, all of them. And I just can't tell you what a relief it is.

I knew that I would get them done in time - no doubt about that, there is still the best part of a couple of weeks to go, after all - but really, the boredom, the tedium..... it's been getting me down, and I am glad to stop. One benefit (?) is that I now have my basic sock pattern in all its variations completely ingrained in my memory, toe shaping and all, never to be forgotten.

So, here - just to prove it! - are the last two pairs.

These are both worked with Regia yarn. The stripy ones are Regia Banner again, this time in a colour called Pigeon. This is quite appropriate when you think of wood pigeons, all bluey-grey. Although not stripy, of course.....

The dark ones are in Regia Loop, and I believe that the colour is called Graphite. I do rather like the random swirls on these. If this yarn were available in bright contrasting colours, the result would be very op-art. They are still good in the dark grey, though.

This morning, I have cast on for Benedikta. It is a pleasure to work with 4mm needles instead of sock dpns - although I shall have to be quite organised with the different colours, as it is so difficult to tell which is which. So far I have worked all of two rows, so not a lot of point in a progress picture just yet.

First there are the two garter stitch lower borders to work, each with garter stitch points along the top. Then five rounds of eight blocks each, plus another four blocks placed one each side of the neckline front and back - so that is 44 blocks. Two garter stitch sleeves - good travel knitting, I think. And then the shaped garter stitch neckline.

It doesn't really fall conveniently into sections. I do quite like being able to identify when I am half way through, or a third of the way through, or whatever. Never mind.

The Silk Garden Lite does seem quite fragile, by the way - I actually managed to tug it apart whilst casting on, which was something of a surprise - or maybe I just need to adjust to a softly spun yarn, after working with sock yarn for a while. That's probably it, I expect. It has that thick and thin element that you always get with Noro, and of course it is quite thin to start with. Lovely colours, of course.

A couple of other things. If you haven't yet seen Feral Knitter Janine Bajus' stunning Comforting Scarf, then please do go and have a look. This lady makes some truly amazing fair isle, and her blog is a constant inspiration - for instance look at her Sashiko Jacket. This is her own design, please note. I do hope she writes up the pattern for this one day, I think it is just beautiful.

Anyway the Comforting Scarf is something rather different in style. It is simple, and also extremely beautiful. You'll find it here, and the free pattern is a pdf download in her sidebar. I think it is almost a wrap, as it could be blocked out to 28" wide. Janine suggests Kidsilk Haze, and I think that this would be absolutely stunning. Imagine the fun choosing colours!

And one more thing. Yesterday we went to Lidl, as we do from time to time, because they have some incredible bargains, and you never know what you will find. This time they had a stack of extremely cheap 600 gram packs of yarn in various colours. I won't call it wool, as mostly it is not wool, being 80% acrylic, but it will do very well indeed for hats, which always go astray and can never be found when needed. It is machine washable of course, which means that if any of the hats do actually manage to hang around long enough to need washing (hah) then that won't be a problem.

I bought one pack of dark navy, another pack of grey mix, and a third pack in a clear duck-egg blue. Bargain.

I do love my Noro and my Rowan yarns - but acrylic has its place too, definitely.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Food for thought

Let me show you the yarn for Benedikta.

This is Noro Silk Garden Lite (ugh). That still makes me cringe. But just look at the colours....

The front row is the main colour - this is the sleeves and the hem, the first row of points, and the neckband. And yes, I know that it looks like three different colours.

Behind that are two skeins of each of the other three colours, one shade is the two skeins on the left, another is the two in the middle, and the last is the two on the right. There are four shades in total - I know I said five, apparently I have forgotten how to count.

This looks like nine separate colourways, I know. But it is just four, and they are all so beautiful. I cannot tell them apart without looking at the ballbands. I mean, look at the top right skein, and the one in front of it. Same colourway. Hard to believe, I know. They look so different.

I must admit, Benedikta is in the lead at the moment.

It will be fun, and I want to play.

Thursday, 6 December 2007


I've really come up with a collection of original blog titles this week, haven't I? Well, put it down to gift sock overload.

I didn't really do much knitting at all yesterday as I was laid low with a headache which didn't want to go away. Finally it has lifted, life resumes, and so do the socks.

The blog very nearly didn't though - the power was on and off all night, mostly off. Supposedly the worst of this windy weather is still to come over the weekend, so that could be interesting. We've got a fair bit of driving to do as well, the beginning of the perennial round of pre-Christmas visits. We'll just have to go carefully, that's all.

With regard to gift socks - I'm now on the very last pair, and despite certain people (my husband) volunteering me to knit pairs for yet more people who admire them, I can tell you with absolute certainty that no matter how deserving anyone might be, it is just not going to happen. And next year, gift socks are going to happen in the course of the year if they happen at all, and there is going to be no last minute slog. It is not that I am pushed for time with them - it is just that there have been too many of them and I am fed up with socks.

The next socks to go onto the needles will be my Lenore socks from Blue Moon - but they won't be materialising just yet.

Instead, what is going to happen next is either Earnshaw or Benedikta, and I cannot decide which to make first. They are both gorgeous, both worked in Noro yarns, and they are very different indeed.

Earnshaw is a very straightforward shape, with garter stitch sleeves and yoke, and a hood. I love garter stitch, this might be just the thing. And the simplicity of the fabric and shape, with the wonderful yarn - really, a pleasure.

Here is the yarn for Earnshaw - Kochoran 31. It is soft and beautiful and thick, and I simply love the colours. Lovely dusty blues and greys, warms creams and beiges, and soft browns. I do like my neutrals, and this will be just so wearable. It ought to be a quick knit, too.

I'm not entirely happy about the sizing given for that pattern, though. Speaking as a person who automatically looks first at size M, it is a good thing that I did look in more detail here, otherwise I would have had something of a surprise. I usually choose to make the size 'to fit 36' although my actual measurement is rather more than that, and I rely on negative ease to see me through. If I make the size to fit my actual chest measurement, then it invariably ends up being way too wide across the shoulders, and with sleeves far too long as well.

But with this one I'm going to have to take a leap of faith, and there is going to be positive ease, not negative. Size M is intended to fit chest 40/42, which is definitely on the generous side - and the finished measurement is 52". This does seem a bit larger than necessary. But even the XS (to fit 32/34") measures 48". Maybe they do mean this. So on consideration I think I am going to go for the S, which could actually be a first for me. To fit size 36/38, finished measurement 50". That is still pretty big, but I do have things in my wardrobe that measure 48" round, and I expect it will be fine. Although I just bet that model in the picture has half a dozen bulldog clips holding the sweater in at the back so she doesn't look completely lost in it.

And I'll have to watch the sleeve length, though. But that is hardly a problem.

Benedikta, on the other hand, is very different.

This one is made in Silk Garden Lite which I almost hate on principle because of the name. Lite. Ugh. However it passes muster because - well, it is Noro, and it is beautiful. Five different shades of this yarn, and I've got the colours recommended in the pattern.

No sizing dilemmas here, it is one (generous) size only, and it will fit nicely because of the raglan shaping. Once again though, I think I will have to watch the sleeve length, but again, that isn't a problem.

This one has an interesting construction, as you can guess from looking at it. Two garter stitch bands for the front and back hems, with garter stitch points worked along the top. Then the sides are seamed, and stocking stitch blocks are worked separately one at a time, placed in between the points. The sleeves are worked separately in garter stitch, with some raglan shaping at the top, and seamed into place. Then stitches are picked up for the wide neckband, which is worked flat in garter stitch, and finally the neckband seam is joined.

This one would be fun. I love interesting construction, and I'd love to wear this. This one is an indoor sweater - the Earnshaw is more of an outdoor sweater to be worn over other layers, or maybe indoors on a chilly evening. I am really drawn to both of them, as different as they are.

So, Benedikta or Earnshaw?

And yes, I know I have a stack of WIPs. And I also know that I really should be knitting my husband's completely plain Yorkshire Tweed Aran slipover.

But I want some reward knitting, I really do. And I want a new pullover. But which one first?

Wednesday, 5 December 2007


We're stuck in the house yet again, waiting for a delivery to arrive.

I am kind of fuming about this, actually. It is possibly the worst customer service that I've ever experienced. This is the fourth (!) time they have tried to deliver this parcel. It is fairly unbelievable, actually. They continue to insist that they are trying to deliver to the correct house, we continue to insist that whoever they are trying to deliver to, it isn't us. They don't believe us - and we don't believe them. And so it goes on.

In the meantime I am working the toe on the current sock. This evening I will cast on for the final pair, and then I don't think I want to knit socks again for quite a while.

I have a project in mind for the house, and I am wondering if it is a completely daft idea. In our sitting room we do not have any curtains at the moment. There are no houses visible at all from the back of the house, and our garden is completely private, so there didn't really seem to be any need. However we are finding that with the low sun at this time of year, a fine curtain at the window would be a good idea.

In Rowan 42, there is the Earth Stripe Curtain.

It is very, very beautiful, and it would be ideal at that window.

I am wondering who the designer is. Rowan don't give a name, which is very unusual indeed. The Earth Stripe Wrap is from the inimitable Kaffe Fassett, of course - maybe this is too?

I wouldn't have to work it to the full length given in the pattern, which is more than two metres (!) - we would need it only about 150cm. It is just about 140 cm wide, with 305 stitches on the needle. So it would be about the same length as the Earth Stripe Wrap, but three times the width. The lower part is worked in coloured stripes, and the main part in a simple lace pattern, and the yarns are Kidsilk Night in Bronze, and half a dozen colours of Kidsilk Haze.

This could be utter madness. But it would be so perfect....

Tuesday, 4 December 2007


Lots of spinning, not much knitting recently.

I am plodding on with the socks. All enthusiasm is gone, but I am continuing slowly. I want them off the needles so that I can work on something else. Anything else would do, as long as it wasn't a sock. I've turned the heel on the current sock, after this one there is just one more pair to make.

Yesterday evening I just couldn't face the socks, though, and sat down at my wheel instead. Here is the result.

These rather out-of-focus pinks, blues, and greens are some more of the Blue Faced Leicester from Fleece Artist. I shall navajo ply this, as I did the last batch, and then I am thinking of a shawl along the lines of this one - scroll down to 17th November - and for which you can find the pattern here. It will probably end up either as a gift, or on the sale table at the Wiltshire Guild's annual exhibition at Lacock next summer.

I've got this lovely stuff to spin up, as well.

This is a generous 100 grams of organic merino pencil roving, colourway Dipsy, from Natalie at the Yarn Yard. It is lovely, really, and I am looking forward to seeing how it spins up. I've never encountered pencil roving before, and this is luscious stuff. You could knit with it, as well - but I'm going to spin it. I've got some more roving on the way from the same place, in woodland colours, and I'm really looking forward to that as well.

Also, I spotted That Little Scarf the other day. Yes, I know, it is stocking stitch based, so it has a right side and a wrong side, but I love it anyway. I have had a number of ideas for yarns that would work for this, but nothing seemed quite perfect, until I remembered this.

This is 100 grams of lovely natural chestnut alpaca, and I think it will do quite beautifully, spun up in a fingering weight.

I've never spun alpaca. I wonder what pitfalls await me?

Monday, 3 December 2007

Monday morning

More old Rowan knits.

Rowan 31 was a very useful issue - I made three things from this one. There were two pullovers for my husband - Haigh, in Summer Tweed (what happened to that one? I have no idea) -

- and Mac in All Seasons Cotton, which remains a favourite and is, I think, on the boat at the moment. So I can't photograph that one either.

I changed this slightly. The pattern has the back worked plain, and the front worked in the chequered pattern - I worked them both chequered. Also I altered the neckline. As written, it rolls to the inside, and I changed it to a more usual rolled neckline with the roll on the outside.

I also knitted Anemone for myself - this was not a success. I made too large a size. It was ok, but not flattering, and truthfully I knew that I wouldn't wear it. So I unpicked the seams and frogged the whole thing, and the yarn is back on the shelf. So I don't think that this one counts, really.

Rowan 30 was another good issue. From this I made Drift for my daughter, who was then at university, and also Lottie.

This is a brilliant earflap hat pattern actually, I must make use of it again. I also made Kim Hargreaves little Knitted Bag, again for my daughter.

So, six things knitted, and not one of them actually able to be photographed. I need to do better than that, I think!

Still socking, by the way. You have no idea of the willpower that is involved at this stage - or maybe you do, if you too are stuck with gift knitting. Never again, never again......

Sunday, 2 December 2007

The Rowan Project

There is a thread on Ravelry that has really caught my imagination. It's called 'The Rowan Project' - (you guessed it) - and the idea is to make one pattern (at least) from each of the Rowan magazines - all 42 of them, to date.

I haven't quite got all of them, yet, but I am only short a few, and I've been trying to pick these up on eBay recently. I do think this is just a brilliant idea. People may choose to work a pattern exactly as written, or perhaps change the sizing or shaping to suit - but then that is all completely normal, at least as far as I am concerned. I am an inveterate changer of patterns, it is quite unusual for me to work anything exactly as written.

The thing is, you see, that as I've been acquiring (or re-acquiring, in a lot of cases - a number of them went astray in a house move) old Rowan magazines, I have spotted some quite excellent patterns which don't need updating in the slightest. And there have been so many patterns like this, that I think The Rowan Project is a distinct possibility.

I have been a Rowan fan for many years, and if I had to restrict myself to the products of just one yarn company - patterns and yarn - I'd pick Rowan instantly, and I'd have no problems at all with that, either. Over the years, I've made quite a few of these patterns already, but not so many from more recent issues.

I think that I may put this in the sidebar, as it is going to be a long list - and of course it will take time to grow, as well. I thought that today I would have a look at the last few issues and see where I've got to.

Rowan 42 - I've already made the Tartan Scarf, and I am planning Malt. The Earth Stripe Wrap and Sharon Miller's Bressay Hap Shawl will happen too.

Rowan 41 - I am planning Marble - this is a Kaffe Fassett wonder, with short sleeves, worked in combinations of Rowan 4 ply cotton. Also Anice, a Kidsilk Haze wrap by Sharon Miller.

Rowan 40 - I've already made Bronwen Harlowe's Organic felted bag in Tapestry and Kid Classic.

This is such a pretty thing, and Tapestry felts incredibly well. I felted this by hand in the sink, with a bowl of cold water at the side, and it only took 40 minutes from start to finish. really very pleasing.

I am planning Sorrel, also in Tapestry, by Sarah Hatton, and I'd love to make Kaffe Fassett's Dotty slipover. I'm also tempted by Lisa Richardson's Lichen cardigan.

Rowan 39 - either Lisa Richardson's Jasmine, or Kaffe Fassett's Ramona Sweater

Rowan 38 - it has to be Sharon Miller's River stole, in Kidsilk Haze. I can't stay away from this stuff. I also love Stella Smith's Bianca beaded cardigan in 4 ply soft, and Amanda Crawford's assymetric Betty cardigan in Yorkshire Tweed DK.

Rowan 37 - it would have to be Martha, a cardigan in 4 ply cotton from Stella Smith again, probably without the beading. I know it is labelled Buzz by Sarah Hatton, but believe me, the picture shows Martha, the version with eyelets instead of beading. I like the different coloured buttons here.

Rowan 36 - without a doubt, Lisa Richardson's Bulbous cushion, in Kidsilk Haze, Felted Tweed, and Lurex Shimmer. This is a thing of beauty, and I wish I could find a picture. The full details of tha magazines on the Rowan site only go back to issue 37.

Rowan 35 - Kim Hargreaves' Flora pullover, in 4 ply cotton. Love the biased neck edging, just so witty. And - one day - Kaffe Fassett's Sampler Sweater, again in 4 ply cotton. Just amazing.

Rowan 34 - Birch. It's on the needles! I'm working the garter stitch variation, which doesn't seem to be the norm, most people have picked the stocking stitch version. Also, Brandon Mably's recoloured version of Old Tile is in this book - it is lovely, but I still think I prefer the original. I cannot remember which book that was in. Well, I'll come to it. Oh yes - and not to forget Moonlight. This is a brilliant cardigan from Kim Hargreaves, written for Rowanspun Aran, of which I just happen to have the right amount in the stash already.

Rowan 33 - I've already made Kaffe Fassett's Arizona Stripe pullover from this one.

Also Zoe Mellor's Minnie cardigan in Cotton Glace stands out - the version with the multicoloured yoke. I'd love to make this, I would wear it a lot. And I like Kim Hargreaves' Blanket pattern. This is worked in squares in All Seasons Cotton, one of my favourite yarns, but it does take 36 skeins, so it would be a fairly major undertaking.

So, that's the last ten magazines, and I've already made patterns from three of them, with a pattern from a fourth on the needles.

It's a start - and I know I've made patterns from earlier issues, as well. I'll tackle the next lot tomorrow, I think.

Sock progress by the way - this is still continuing, but with ever-decreasing enthusiasm. There are two and a bit socks still to go. I swear that I am never going to commit to making so many socks in such a short space of time, ever again. If I ever show any hint of doing any such insane thing again, please remind me of this.

I want to knit Birch instead....