Sunday, 29 July 2007

A quiet afternoon.....

Very welcome, actually, a quiet afternoon. The guests have taken themselves out for the day, so I am off duty. And everyone wanted a takeout last night, as well, so I didn't have to cook.

The invalid had something of a setback, as she managed to snaffle a prawn cracker which was dropped on the floor. This meant a tummy ache and a rather wakeful and unhappy little dog overnight, however she seems more comfortable now although completely exhausted. I know how she feels, I am pretty tired myself.

I've been playing the piano, reading, and knitting this morning.

I am sadly out of practice with the piano, it seems like such a long time since I was able to sit down and play for more than a minute or two. It has crossed my mind that once I am back in practice again, I might perhaps try a few lessons. I've never had any formal lessons before, so this is quite a scary prospect. But I would like to improve, and I don't really know how to go about it. At the moment though, I am not brave enough. Perhaps in a few months time.

Recently I finished Jane Smiley's The Greenlanders, and I can thoroughly recommend this book. It is set in fourteenth century Greenland, and I found it fascinating and completely absorbing. It is rare that I enjoy a book so much that I don't want it to come to a conclusion - The Greenlanders was like that. I just wanted it to continue.

I've also recently finished Georgette Heyer's Regency Buck. This is possibly my favourite of her books so far. This is wonderful escapism. Regency England beautifully depicted, with wit and style, with a good storyline, and with excellent characters. Why did I not discover this author years ago?

In its place, I have picked up Ursula Le Guin's Orsinian Tales. This lady is my favourite author, beyond a doubt. I come back to her books again and again - and each of these stories is a gem.

And last but not least, I have finished the first Solstice Slip sock. I decided to add an edging to the top of the leg. This is three ridges of garter stitch, followed by a lace cast off. I am reasonably happy with this, and I am very happy with the fit.

The second Solstice Slip sock is underway.

I shall have to use this heel again, definitely. And I shall have to get a move on, too, otherwise the next Blue Moon sock kit will be here, and I won't have finished the last one. I want to get Jessie finished too, before then. Plenty to keep me busy.

I've also been looking at a preview of the contents of Rowan 42 over at The Knitting Garden. Lots of pretty things, in some of my favourite yarns, and there seem to be two new yarns as well, Kidsilk Aura and Cocoon. I don't know anything about Cocoon, but Kidsilk Aura looks very much like the long-discontinued Kid Silk. Lovely if it is..... I do hope so.

I am looking with interest at Bressay, also at the Earth Stole, which is on the front cover. The colours are lovely. I am also rather taken with Malt, in Kid Classic. I think it is about time that I did some embroidery again. I used to do a lot, but I haven't done any for quite a few years now - not counting needlepoint, of course. I think the last embroidery that I did was for this Chinese bag.....

..... and I don't think I've used embroidery on a knitted fabric before at all. I've been looking with admiration at the inspiring work that Lene has been doing with embroidery, particularly on a felted fabric with Felted Market Bags, and on twined knitting. Time to try something along these lines, I think!

So, looking forward to this issue, definitely.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Slow progress

Slow progress in more ways than one, actually.

The invalid has been taking up a lot of my time of course, and she is definitely showing some improvement. This is not going to be a rapid recovery, we can see. Today however, when she is awake she is noticeably brighter and has been wanting to play again.

We are still feeding her tiny little meals of prescription food every hour or two, and she is still on medication, including a strong painkiller that makes her a bit spaced out.

Anyway, back to the vet again tomorrow.

Slow progress on the knitting front as well, but the Solstice Slip sock now has rather more of a leg to it than last time. This is a much better representation of the colour, actually. I didn't rip it back for a second time, I am pretty sure that the foot length is correct now.

This heel is excellent. I am not a fan of short rows with wraps, I find that placing the wraps slows me down and so does picking them up again. However with a garter stitch short row heel, the wraps don't get picked up. I am in favour of this.

In addition, there is a gusset for improved fit. The short row heel is very cleverly worked across this, and the increased number of stitches stays the same for the leg.

I am thinking of working a slightly different top for this sock. The pattern says simply to cast off, which seems a little abrupt. I have in mind a garter stitch border, to tie in with the heel and toe, and also to give a more defined edge. I shall have to decide this evening.

And finally, this.

Once again, I haven't done justice to the colour. This is the most gorgeous subtle teal blue that I have ever come across. And the yarn is so soft, its amazing. If I said it was like stroking a kitten, it would be a dreadful cliche - but it would be true.

And the yardage! These are 25 gram skeins, and each of them is 400 metres. Pretty much double the yardage of Kid Silk Haze.

This is Tess Dawson's Superkid Mohair Lace, and it really is beautiful. The rest of the range is pretty amazing too. I'm particularly taken with the Baby Alpaca 4 ply. I'd show you a picture of that too, but its hard to take an interesting picture of a skein of fine black yarn. Particularly for me.

Maybe I will get the sock finished tonight, anyway. I am not likely to get much done this weekend as we have house guests.

And maybe the weather will improve, you never know.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Monday evening

Lucy is back home again, hopefully to stay. She is still quite a poorly little dog, but she doesn't need a drip any more. Looking after her is keeping us busy - feeding tiny little meals at hourly intervals is very time consuming.

There has actually been more knitting progress in one day than there was over the whole weekend. The Solstice Slip sock is past the heel now.

I do wish that I was better at judging the length of the foot with toe up socks. I pulled it back and added some length, if you recall, as the foot was too short. At the moment I am wondering if I have made it a little too long - perhaps I should have worked just one more pattern repeat instead of one and a half. I shall try it on again in a minute, and if it still seems too long then I shall pull it back for a second time. If it's worth doing at all, then it's worth doing properly.

Regarding the boxes - they are still with us, except that they are no longer in the way. We have put a half ceiling into the garage this weekend, with a loft ladder for access. This space is intended for general storage - and at the moment it is full of boxes. Getting them up there was a job and a half, I can tell you. There are 67 of them, plus a large quilted furniture protector, one of those things they wrap your sofa in before they put it in the lorry. Anyway, the removal company tell us that they will collect them on Friday morning without fail.

I seem to remember hearing this before.....

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Russian grafting - now with pictures

I’ve been hearing an increasing amount about this over the last couple of weeks, and decided that a little research would be in order, as it sounded interesting. If I’ve understood things correctly, this is how it works. Pictures soon. I wrote this out in the early hours of this morning - I couldn't sleep, and our net access is abysmal then. Pictures soon! - (ETA: now added)

Russian grafting is very different from Kitchener stitch, or ‘normal’ grafting. To begin with, you start with the two needles side by side with the points facing each other, as if you were perhaps part way thru knitting a row. This contrasts with Kitchener stitch, where you hold the two needles together with the wrong sides of the work in contact, or perhaps on a flat surface so that they are in the same relative position as they will be when the grafting is finished.

So, you have the two needles side by side. I’m looking at stocking stitch here, for simplicity. It is easier if one piece has just had a wrong side row worked, and the other piece has just had a right side row worked. You hold the two pieces side by side, with one needle in each hand as if you were going to knit with them, and making sure that the working yarn tails are at the outside edge of each piece - like this.

As this comes together, you will start to see that the stitches from the two needles are linked together very much like the interlocking teeth of a zip, and there is throughout a single working stitch, which is moved from one needle to the other.....

Slip the first stitch on the RH needle onto the LH needle. This stitch is the working stitch, and it is now the first stitch on the LH needle - like this.

Now place the tip of the RH needle into that working stitch purlwise........

...... and into the next stitch on the LH needle knitwise.

Slip that knitwise stitch onto the RH needle, taking it thru the loop of the working stitch ......

......and letting the old working stitch drop. This is the new working stitch.

This is actually very easy to do. You’ve pulled a stitch from the LH needle thru the working stitch, and the new working stitch is now the first stitch on the RH needle.

Now, place the tip of the LH needle thru the working stitch as if to purl.....

......and pick up the back loop of the second stitch on the RH needle, taking the LH needle behind the trailing leg of that second stitch .....

.....and bringing it up thru the loop of the working stitch.....

.......and letting the old working stitch drop. This is the new working stitch.

Now, you have pulled a stitch from the RH needle through the working stitch, and the new working stitch is now the first stitch on the LH needle.

And so it continues, with the stitches from each needle alternately being taken through the working stitch. With just a little practice, this becomes very quick – and it is certainly very easy.

It produces a visible seam, looking like a neat little zigzag across the joined pieces. Rather pleasing, actually.

........and other things

A post consisting of several disparate things, this morning.

Here is one of the 'other things'.

As you can see, the Solstice Slip socks haven't progressed very far - although they had actually got rather further than this, at one point.

I have been making the medium size. Usually, medium is good. However, when I had reached the centre point of the heel, I realised that the foot was going to be too short. So I pulled out the needles, and ripped back to the beginning of the gusset. I'm working one more pattern repeat, and I think that will give a better fit.

These garter stitch short row toes and heels are really very good. I do not like working wrapped stitches in general. I find it difficult to get the tension exactly correct when placing the wraps and I find that it slows me down when it comes to working the wrapped stitches on the increase rows. Except not with these. This is because you don't work thru the wraps on the increase section, you just leave the wraps sitting there at the base of the stitch. Excellent.

Anyway, I shall soon be back at the point where the photo was taken.

Another thing - the removals people did not come and take the boxes away. We are disappointed but not surprised. However it is getting beyond annoying. We have been in this house now for nearly a month, and about a third of our garage is taken up with the empty boxes still. Telephone calls will be made this morning - again.....

And something else.

Our beloved Lucy is very ill indeed.

This is completely out of the blue - the day before she was her usual bouncy self. She was playing and running about exactly as normal - chasing butterflies as we walked along the towpath, greeting everyone enthusiastically, and eating with good appetite, polishing the bowl as always.

Yesterday morning she did not come to greet us when she heard us waking up. As I came down the stairs I saw a mess on the landing, and Lucy lying in a heap, and realised that something was very wrong. We hadn't yet got round to registering her with a vet here in Wiltshire - this was actually on my list of things to do today. I went straight to the telephone, called a vet and explained that we needed emergency help, carried her immediately to the car, and drove.....

One of us had to stay behind, because we were expecting the removals people to collect the boxes. They didn't turn up, of course.

Lucy has acute pancreatitis. It is life-threatening. The vet says her chances are better than they might be, as we caught it right at the beginning.

Why she has it is a complete mystery. She eats an all natural diet, and doesn't have table scraps.

Think good thoughts for her, please.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Time flies

Truly I don't know where this last week has gone.

We have been living in this house for three weeks now, and in some ways it feels like a lot longer, probably because we have been so busy. Curtain poles, curtains, lampshades, shelving, new furniture - and a whole lot of unpacking. There is now only one box left inside the house, and probably four or five in the garage - together with something like sixty or seventy flattened empty boxes, plus a big quilted furniture protector which was left behind by mistake - these things all take up a lot of room, I promise you. We really, really want the removal firm to come and take them away, so that we can sort out the garage, and we have been promised that this will happen 'on Friday morning at the latest'. We shall see.

One thing that we have discovered without a shadow of a doubt - our broadband is much slower here than it was in Hampshire. Theoretically, we have 'up to 8Mb', which is exactly the same as before. In practice, only one of us can be online at the same time or else the connection becomes so slow as to be unusable - and in the evening it is impossible to get connected at all. There isn't a fault, it is just that the local exchange is slow to begin with, and we are a fair way out, as well.

Heather has nominated me as a 'Rockin' Girl Blogger'.....! I am very flattered. And I am finding that I have a similar problem to Heather - I am not sure who to nominate. Since I discovered Bloglines, my blog reading list has increased substantially, but I think that the people whose writing and whose work I consistently find most inspirational are probably Jean Miles and Lene (Dances with Wool).

In my somewhat limited spare time I have been managing some knitting, and the Meilenweit socks are finally finished.

My own basic pattern, 2.5mm needles, in Meilenweit Cotton Fantasy. I cannot remember the shade number, as the ballband went astray some weeks ago. I can recommend this yarn. It is very pleasant to work with, and the striping is much more subtle than my appalling photography shows. My husband says they are cool and comfortable to wear - so that is all good.

I wound up the Firebird - gorgeous stuff this. Socks that Rock lightweight, by the way.

And I have cast on with the Firebird for the Solstice Slip socks - the June sock kit pattern from Blue Moon's Rockin' Sock Club - and looking at Blue Moon's home page, I believe that is Firebird in the middle of the basket. Stunning colours, truly - red, fuschia, orange, gold, fading into peachy pink.... not purple. My camera lies.

I have chosen to work this sock toe up - the pattern gives directions for working top down as well. I still like the garter stitch short row toe as much as I did in the Inside Out pattern. There is a gusset as well as a short row heel in the Solstice Slip, and I am part way thru working the gusset at the moment. This yarn is most conveniently working up exactly to tension at 8 stitches to the inch on 2.25mm needles.

This pattern includes M1L and M1R. Up til now, I have invariably not bothered to make this distinction with a bar increase, however this time when I worked the first set of increases I realised that it did actually look better if I took the extra moments to twist the increase the other way as appropriate. Another first for Blue Moon.....

It is also interesting that I am enjoying working this pattern although these colours are about as far removed from my usual choice as it is possible to be. It is only an eight row repeat, and extremely easy to memorise. I am working the little cable twists without a cable needle, as has become my habit.

And last but definitely not least, the stash now has a new home.

Floor to ceiling yarn, as you can see. I wouldn't call it organised, but it is all there, definitely. Very pleasing.

Thursday, 12 July 2007


Goodness, I should go away more often, that was a record number of comments yesterday. One thing about Blogger, unfortunately, is that it doesn't give me email addresses so that I can respond to commenters - and I really wish that it did. So instead, please know that I do appreciate each and every comment, and also that I do feel that I am being rather impolite in not responding in person.

And if anybody has any suggestions as to how I can get round this, I would be very grateful.

Right, knitting.

Still not much of it happening, actually. However, I do have something to show you.

This is Firebird.

It is Socks That Rock Lightweight, and this is the June sock club colour. I would never, never in a hundred years have chosen this colour myself - and yet I love it. Red, gold, orange - it says 'summer' .... 'energy'..... 'warmth' .... 'life' - all in one. I shall wind it tomorrow, and then we shall see what it looks like in the ball.

And - Heather? - you'd love this.

The pattern is called Solstice Slip, and it too looks excellent. Another fascinating pattern, of course. There are slip stitches, as you would expect with a name like that, and the sock can be worked either toe up or top down. There are garter stitch short row toes and heels - again! lovely! - and there is also a little gusset, for better fit. I like this idea, very much. And this die-hard top down fanatic is probably going to work the sock toe up, from choice. Please don't faint.

My mammoth reading list does not seem to have got any shorter during the move, as I have had hardly any time to read, surprise surprise. However I have re-read one book that isn't on the current list, 'Wendy Knits'. And now I have an overwhelming urge to knit Ingrid, in two shades of Koigu. This lovely pullover is described in more detail in the book, with several photographs, and all of a sudden this is high on my 'want' list.

I am, however, going to exert some willpower. I don't have this yarn in my stash, and I really should finish a couple of other things at least before I order any more.

The chocolate cashmere top is coming along slowly, but it really is a lovely fabric. The yarn is slightly thick and thin, with a 'handspun' texture to it - very enjoyable to work with.

And I cannot see that I will ever get tired of the view from this window. The changing light is incredible.

Feast your eyes.....

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Return of the stash

I'm back! - and so is the stash! I've missed it, and I've certainly missed blogging, too.

Finally, I have all my yarn and fibre in one room. There is a fair amount of it, as you can see. And yes, those stacks of boxes are all full, and yes, they do all go right down to the floor. This isn't quite all of it, I should add. There is yarn for about 5 more projects, plus about four pairs of socks.

We have some nice sets of metal shelves that are going to fill that wall, once we get the energy to put them together. And then I can sort it all out properly - I am looking forward to it already!

And the move? - the move went well, and the new house is lovely, even nicer than we had hoped. The view from the back of the house is just stunning. And to prove it, some pictures.

See what I mean? And with luck, nobody will build there. At least, they really shouldn't, because that is the flood plain of the river Avon. This house is set well above it, and the price we pay for this view is a somewhat steeply sloping garden.

We are getting settled in, gradually. There are only a few boxes left to unpack, to the point that the empty boxes are getting to be a problem.

Knitting has been scarce, to say the least - but not completely non-existent.

More tomorrow. Bloglines tells me that I have 529 posts to read..... something tells me that this may take a while......