Sunday, 29 April 2007

Motivation

I'm fairly zooming along with the Trekking XXL #sock. This is partly because of the gorgeous and unpredictable colours - they really are lovely - and partly because I am very motivated to finish.

The colours speak for themselves - except that it is becoming obvious that I need a better camera. Here are some samples. They are a bit blurry, I know, but you can still see the way the colours change.


I just love this. Anyway, I'm about to turn the heel on the second sock. If I don't finish the sock today, then it will be tomorrow.

The reason for this sudden burst of progress arrived in the post a couple of days ago.

It is the April shipment from Blue Moon. The yarn is new - its called Silkie, and it is lovely to handle, quite wonderfully soft. It has nowhere near the twist of the usual Blue Moon yarns. I am wondering slightly how well it will wear - but the 19% silk content will help, of course.

Initially it looks thicker than most sock yarn - more like sportweight, but the recommended gauge is 9 stitches to the inch, on size 1 needles. That's a fairly firm tension, definitely. We shall see.

One thing that I did notice whilst winding it, is that this yarn is very airy and light. Running through my fingers under tension, it seemed to become much thinner. So I would guess that this will work up nicely at the recommended tension - after all, Blue Moon do know what they are about! - and that it will make a lovely bouncy thick fabric.

The colour is called Walking on the Wild Tide, and it's even prettier wound up, if possible.


See what I mean? - in a blurry sort of way, of course.


I really, really want to cast on with this - the pattern looks intriguing too, more about that in another post - but I cannot bring myself to have more than one pair of socks on the needles. So, I absolutely have to finish the Trekking 100 socks.

Motivation indeed.

Friday, 27 April 2007

A word about EZ, and other things too

Quite a long post here. I thought that today - as the sock continues, and the raglan continues, and Exchequered continues - I would respond to some of the comments, in particular those regarding Elizabeth Zimmermann's books.

Until I discovered the existence of the online knitting community, I had never heard of Elizabeth Zimmermann.

I just used to knit - rather a lot, actually. That hasn't changed. I would go down to one of the local wool shops (there were at least four in my little town, all closed long ago, sadly) pick some yarn and a pattern, and go home and knit. Alone. My mother was the only other person that I knew who knitted - and the ladies in the wool shops of course, who were always interested in seeing finished garments.

But gradually the little wool shops all closed down. After that, I bought my yarn mail order, from a company called Falcon - does anyone else remember them? - until the catalogue stopped arriving, because they too had closed down. I had discovered Rowan by now, in my local John Lewis store, and that was a revelation in itself. But I was still working one project at a time, with maybe the yarn for one more stored away.

And then I found Knitty, and everything changed. There were lots and lots of other knitters out there! And they all liked to chat about knitting! And help each other, and learn from each other! And there were lots and lots of online yarn shops! And there were other online forums too....

It was like a door being opened - I learned so much. (And bought so much more yarn! - but that's another story...)

I had been knitting at this point for more than 40 years - my favourites were aran work, intarsia and fair isle. I hadn't tried knitting with the yarn in my left hand. I didn't know combination knitting existed. I hadn't tried lace knitting - well, of course I had knitted baby shawls in lace patterns, and whitework bed covers, lace cardigans and so forth - but not the really fine stuff, not proper Shetland lace, in fact I had no idea that the yarns and patterns were even available. And the idea of knitting socks had never even crossed my mind.

I learned about all these things from the online community.

And I also learned about Elizabeth Zimmermann.

It is truly a cliche to say, where have you been all my life? But this really is how I felt. Her style is conversational, and her whole message is that you can do this. And more than that - you don't need anyone to tell you how to do it. Which is how I feel about knitting, too.

Her writing is precise and, to my mind, elegant. She is economical with her words - she doesn't use a long sentence where a short one will do. Her 'Pithy Directions' are a case in point here. She treats you like an intelligent person - she explains what you are going to do (and why) - tells you how - and leaves you to it. Wonderful.

Please, don't be afraid of her books. She only wrote four of them - Knitting Without Tears; Knitters Almanac; Knitting Workshop; and Knitting Around. They are nothing like modern pattern books, although they do contain lots of patterns - rather, they are intended as something that you can sit down to read and enjoy. I started with Knitters Almanac: I read it slowly and with great pleasure. It's not just knitting - by the end of the book, you feel that you know this lady. Little things about her life are included, all the way through. Really, it is a wonderful read.

Knitting Without Tears - well, I wish I had discovered it years ago. In fact, I believe I will re-read it before I start the new books. This was her first knitting book, and every page is full of little gems of information. Never, ever does she fail to explain. She tells you precisely how - she tells you why - and you find that you can.



My own knitting continues.

Trekking XXL is lovely to work with, the yarn is very smooth, and kind to the hands. And the colour changes are gorgeous! It may be childish to be so fascinated by this, but really, it is fun. I keep looking at my work, and at the ball, and trying to see what it's going to do next. And guessing wrongly, let me tell you. No colour repeats here, none at all.


Colour #100 is - well, maybe not famous, perhaps ubiquitous is a better word. It's the colourway that everyone seemed to be working on, a little while back. And as usual, my picture doesn't do it justice. This is really, really pretty. DH says it is quite psychedelic. I think he means that it is bright, which is definitely true.

The raglan now has one whole sleeve, so I'm on the last stretch, finally. Today I will spend some time weaving in ends, and get the second sleeve well on it's way.

Exchequered is still growing - it is past the half way point now, which feels like something of an achievement. When this is done, I will be able to cast on for the Kidsilk Stole. I am looking forward to that!



What else....

Diana Gabaldon's books - if you haven't discovered them yet, then you have a treat in store for you. I was extremely sceptical about them initially - I didn't read 'books like that'! I suggest that you start with the first one - 'Cross Stitch' here in the UK, and 'Outlander' in the US. Same book, just the title is different. I must add here that I think the US title is much, much better - I really cannot see where the UK title came from. Anyway, recommended.

The house - I wrote a letter, and it had an effect. We seem to be back on track. So far, we can't quite believe this - it seems too good to be true.

The boat is now at its destination, and my husband is back home again, which is wonderful.

And I did get the grease stain out of the tshirt in the end - thankyou so much for all your tips, I will know how to deal with it next time!

Monday, 23 April 2007

And about time, too

Finally, a finished object. The Hundertwasser socks are done, just a few minutes ago. I haven't got a picture though, as I do still have to darn in the ends, but they count as finished now in my mind. I will put a picture up tomorrow, in the sidebar.

I haven't been producing finished projects at anywhere near my usual rate. During the second half of last year, I was averaging one a week. Not this year, not so far.

I know what is going on the needles next though, at least by way of socks. I have some Trekking XXL in the famous colourway #100 - here it is.

I am looking forward to working with this yarn. I am a sucker for colour changing yarn, and this yarn has colour changes that are so unpredictable. I am wondering if it is going to be a bit splitty though - the separate plies are so visible. It's probably just the colour treatment, though. I shall cast on later this evening and work a couple of rows, then I shall return to the raglan.

Ruffles, though, is sadly going to have to be set aside. Would you believe, I cannot find the rest of the yarn. Today there was a second expedition to the loft, with much emptying out of boxes and sorting - but the Berroco Suede remains elusive. I will find it after we move house, of course, but for the time being it will have to wait.

I did find a lot of other things in the stash though....... but that can wait for another day. However, I will say that there will definitely be a Starmore project later this year. I haven't decided which one will be first though - Elizabeth 1; the Driftnet Wrap; Cape Cod; Cromarty....

And look what the postman brought me today!


I am a great fan of Elizabeth Zimmermann. Her writing style appeals to me enormously - I enjoy the precision of her words, together with her conversational approach. I already have Knitting Without Tears and her Knitters Almanac - and I am so pleased to now have her other two books waiting for me to read them, like a delicious treat still to come.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

The advantages of blogging

Blogging is new to me, as you know, and I'm finding it interesting, definitely. I like the way that it makes me think about what is actually happening in my life - and reading over my recent posts, I have noticed that my thoughts have been quite negative. I seem to have been focussing on things that I haven't done, and things that haven't happened, rather than on things that have - and I don't think that I would have identified this negativity without blogging about it. The good thing about this, of course, is that identifying and acknowledging a problem is a major part of dealing with it.

But not all of it. We have had something hanging over us for a little while now, but I haven't dared to blog about it yet. Somehow it felt like tempting fate - and how ridiculous is that? But now it has happened anyway - or rather, not happened - so here goes....

We've just heard that we have lost the house that we have been trying to buy. We are very disappointed indeed - we had really set our hearts on it, and we are still committed to move to that area. But right now, it seems that we are back to square one, and have to start looking all over again.

However, on the plus side, there are some lovely people who are very keen indeed to buy our present house. And that means that we will be able to move really fast when we do find somewhere new. As I write this, it occurs to me I wouldn't have thought of this as an advantage, if it wasn't for the fact that I am trying to write something coherent about it.

So the conclusion this evening, I think, is quite simply that housebuying is very difficult. And that blogging can be helpful.

Knitting? What's that?

Friday, 20 April 2007

Busy, busy..

Bloglines is down this morning, and I am missing it already. Hopefully it won't be down for long.

Things have been very busy this week, but hardly any of the activity has been knitting related, unfortunately. The second sock has had its heel turned, but there is not really much to see. I have hardly worked more than a couple of rows on Exchequered. The never-ending raglan almost has the first sleeve completed, now - that's good, at least. And I have resurrected Ruffles, which has been on the needles so long that it's a positive disgrace.



Here it is - I do still like this scarf very much, and Berocco Suede makes an interesting fabric. The colour variations are subtle, and the scarf is curling in a very satisfactory way.

The current ball of yarn is nearly finished, and later today I have the interesting prospect of an expedition into the loft to try and find another - I know that I do have more. The problem lies in discovering which of the boxes marked 'Yarn' is the correct one, and this could take some time. I am very much looking forward to our new house - or more specifically to the nice yarn storage arrangements which I am planning for our new workroom there.




And here for your edification is the never-ending top down raglan. The colour is not true at all - this is a good dark navy, and on my screen it looks like royal blue. The markers are so that I do not have to count rows in order to end up with two sleeves the same length - it's not that I mind counting rows, it's just that it seems like a waste of time to count the same rows repeatedly. So I place a marker every ten rows instead.

This is Jo Sharp Desert Garden, a good Aran weight 100% cotton yarn. Its lovely to work with, nice and soft, and I am looking forward to wearing this pullover.

DH is getting along nicely, by the way. He has only about 30 miles still to go - but that is still 51 locks, including descending the infamous Caen Locks. Here is a picture, in case you haven't seen them before. Spectacular, but very hard work.


It is strange to think that we can drive the whole distance of his journey in about two hours, but it takes about two weeks on the water.

And now I must go and busy myself with more things which are not knitting related.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Miscellanea

1. Addi lace needles are very, very nice indeed. All the good things you've heard about them are true.

2. I still don't like magic looping. If anything could do it, it would be using my new Addi lace needles. I just had to try them out on something, and the Hundertwasser socks were to hand. However magic looping is still not for me, and I have reverted to my trusty Inox bamboos.

3. I am now trying very hard not to think of new projects for which I could use the new lace needles.

4. Grease stains on a favourite tshirt can be really, really difficult to remove. Yes, I have tried Stain Devils. Twice. Tomorrow I will be trying again.

5. Permanent marker on a favourite pair of white plastic sunglasses can be really, really difficult to remove. Until you try surgical spirit, which works like magic. I wonder if it works on grease stains.....?

6. I still have my raglan mojo, but there's not going to be a picture until it's finished. It just looks like a big dark navy blue blob at the moment, and that is fairly easy to imagine.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Home again

Really, I feel like I have had a holiday.

Yesterday was a lovely day. The sun shone, and it does seem to be true that a change is as good as a rest, certainly in these circumstances.

It is always rather special looking out over the water in the early morning. You feel as if you have the whole river to yourself. There is just the sound of the birds, and the water going past - quite fast, actually, where we were moored. We are used to the Wey, which is a lazy sort of river, and the Kennet has rather more energy to it.


I didn't want to leave. But needs must, of course. I turned to take this picture of the boat as I was walking away down the towpath.



An hour in the traffic, and now I am back home with Lucy, and DH continues on his way. The remaining distance is almost exactly 60 miles - and there are 87 locks, and 23 moveable bridges. We shall see how long it takes. DH is not pushing on as fast as possible, he is taking things gently - it is hard work doing all this when you are by yourself.

And here is the obligatory knitting content. Sock progress has been minimal, but not non-existent. I will turn the heel on the second sock later today, and then I will return to the never-ending raglan with enthusiasm. I want it finished!


I showed DH the completed first sock, and he commented that he thought they looked Christmassy. I don't see it, myself.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Wishful thinking

Isn't it funny, we always seem to want what we can't have.

I'm off to the boat today. DH is now off the Thames and on the Kennet, past Reading, and moored up for a bit of a break. So I am meeting him, bringing clean clothes and fresh food as well.

There is limited space on the boat, and small portable projects are best. So what do I find myself wanting to knit? The never-ending raglan. I haven't been able to drive myself even to pick it up for quite a while now, and all of a sudden that's the only thing I want to work on. However as I only have one and a bit sleeves left to do, it's neither small nor portable, really. One of the disadvantages of a top-down, seamless garment, of course. So Exchequered will come along with me, as will the Hundertwasser socks. By the way, sock number one is finished, and sock number two is in progress.

Back tomorrow though. I wonder if I will still want to knit the raglan then.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

New ideas

Maybe it's just the sunshine, maybe it's the fact that I know the boat is now back to normal - well nearly - or maybe it's the time of year. Whatever the reason, I find myself looking forward, and making plans for new projects - lots of them, in lots of very different yarns and textures.

Flicca will be next, definitely. I've heard that this is a quick knit, and that sounds excellent right now. I shall make this in grey, which is one of my wardrobe staples. After that, the black cotton fleece cardigan - not exciting to look at, but very useful indeed in the wardrobe, and also quick to make.

And then.... I think Clovelly. Not in RYC Natural Silk Aran as it is shown here, but in one of RYC's new yarns, Cotton Jeans. Canvas, I rather think, is the colour I want for this.

I also have a lace shawl in mind at the moment. I have some lovely Kaffe Fassett Kid Silk that I found on eBay a little while ago, in a colour called Shout, an amazing citrus yellow.




This yarn is long discontinued of course. It has the same fibre composition as Rowan's ever popular Kid Silk Haze, 70% kid mohair and 30% silk. The difference is the gauge - this yarn works up as sport weight, I think perhaps along the lines of KSH worked double. I have been doing a bit of swatching, trying out different patterns and tensions - but not too much, as I have just 640 metres of this gorgeous stuff, and it likes being frogged even less than KSH does.

This will be a rectangular shawl, or perhaps a stole would be a better name, and it will be garter stitch based, so that it is reversible. I much prefer shawls that don't have a right and a wrong side.

And after that - I have plans for some black Rowan Denim, another happy find on eBay. I love Rowan Denim, it really is one of my favourite yarns, but the black is hard to come by, so I was extremely pleased to come across 12 balls all from the same dye lot. I have in mind Raspy (scroll down a little) from Rowan's Denim People. Rather nice in the black, I think.

So that's a fair amount of variety, really.



The first sock is now past the heel turn, and the gussets are complete. Not a very inspiring picture perhaps - the fabric is not looking its best because I am much too lazy to have washed the yarn after frogging the sideways sock. So that is good motivation to get this one finished, and start the second one, which will undoubtedly look better with pristine yarn.

So the sock progresses, the boat continues to dry out, and the house move remains very much in the balance. And I am knitting again.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

A disaster of sorts

Over the last few days, we have been very busy getting our narrowboat ready for the move down to Wiltshire. We've been lucky enough to get a mooring very near our new house (assuming we do actually succeed in buying the house) and we had been looking forward to making the journey down there together - 127 miles on the water, with 124 locks and 23 swing bridges. However the timing just doesn't work out, and so I am still here fielding calls from estate agents and solicitors, whilst my husband takes the boat down on his own.

Today I saw him off from the mooring, helped him with the first lock, and waved goodbye. This evening I rang him up to see how things were going, and discovered that the entire 200 gallon contents of the water tank had emptied into the bilges, due to a connection coming adrift somewhere. The boat was absolutely in the middle of nowhere, between locks, between bridges, no civilisation in sight - which is normally exactly how we like things, but in this case it was definitely not ideal, with water several inches deep in the bedroom.

However things seem now to be more in hand. The wet and dry vacuum has been called into service, and although I am sure it wasn't intended for pumping quantities of water like this, apparently it seems to be doing the job rather well. Hopefully things will start to dry out tomorrow, the water tank will get refilled, and the journey will continue.



The deadline regarding our house purchase came and went, with nothing happening at all. In some respects this is good - it isn't all off - or at least, not yet. But in other respects, it's not good, and I am finding this continuing tension and uncertainty quite difficult to deal with.



Knitting is good for relaxing, of course, but I seem to be past that point, so there has been very little progress on anything. Exchequered, for instance, hasn't even made it out of the knitting bag. However I will finish turning the heel on the Hundertwasser sock this evening though, I have made up my mind about that at least. This yarn is actually working up very nicely with a normal sock construction.

When I have Exchequered finished, the next candidate will be the never-ending top-down raglan for myself. I really want this finished, it will be such a useful garment. At the moment it has one and a half sleeves still to go.

Once I have that out of the way, I shall cast on for something new. I am thinking this will be either Flicca - or else The Simple Cardigan from Sally Melville's excellent book, The Purl Stitch. This would be in black Cotton Fleece with interesting silver buttons (scroll down, they are silver coloured, actually) - I've made this pattern up once already, with ecru Berroco Denim Silk, and I know that a black version will get worn a lot. But Flicca is just what I want at this time of year, so useful to have something like that for the cool evenings...

Decisions again. But it's too late to take the dog for another walk, so I think I will return to sock knitting instead.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Progress


Well, that looks fairly impressive. But the truth is rather less so, as you can see below.




I am discovering the difficulties of photographing scarves, and I am not good at photography in the best of situations. Never mind. Exchequered has now reached 27". It would be longer, except that I have been enjoying knitting a straightforward sock again.

Also, I had to spend a slightly fraught ten minutes this morning repairing a mistake. I had been knitting along quietly, not really paying much attention - which was of course the problem - when I noticed that one of the columns of squares seemed to have become wider. Closer inspection showed that I had misplaced a stitch no less than 24 rows earlier, making one column 4 stitches wide, and its neighbour only 2 stitches wide. It wasn't difficult to fix, of course - ladder the offending pair of stitches down on both sides, work them up again with the right colours - but it was very annoying. I must pay more attention.

I ought to get a fair amount done today, nothing else should be going on.

Tomorrow will be rather different, it is a fairly crucial date regarding our house move. We shall see how things develop.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Highly recommended!

Bloglines!

This is just wonderful. If you, like me, read a rather large number of blogs each day, then this is indispensible. It took me a little while to set it up, but no longer than it used to take me clicking through my list, seeing what was new. Now that I have it up and running, it takes just one click, and I can see immediately if there are any new posts on the blogs on my list. I should have known that there had to be a better way, and this is it, without a doubt.

It also means more spare time for knitting, which must be good!

Definitely Spring


Today the choice of pictures was between another shot of Exchequered, looking very much the same as before, or these flowering willows. No contest really - just look at that blue.....

Knitting continues. Exchequered is progressing very nicely, as it happens - it is 22" long now, and I have been giving some thought to the treatment of the other end. The pattern has continuous chequers running the rest of the length of the scarf, but I have it in mind to make the two ends mirror images of each other, with the colours reversed. So the side that starts with solid green will end with the chequers decomposing to solid black - and of course the other side will be the reverse. DS likes this idea too, which does matter, as of course the scarf is for him.

I am liking combined knitting more and more - in fact I believe that with this method I am now working faster with my left hand than with my right. This is absolutely unheard of, and I think not to be ignored. I am definitely thinking about using combined knitting on a permanent basis.

Despite this new and lovely method of working. Exchequered is not mindless knitting. I find that if I am tired, I can easily misplace a stitch. This is very easily fixed of course, but I would much prefer not to make the mistakes in the first place, so this is not going to be late evening knitting any more, and I have cast on for another pair of socks for DH. Making basic socks does not require any active thinking at all.

The new socks are in Opal Hundertwasser, colour 1437, I forget the name. I had intended this yarn for sideways socks. This yarn looks stunning with long rows, and in fact I had actually made one sock from the Opal pattern on the back of the ballband, but they certainly didn't fit anyone who lives in this house, so I frogged them. I have seen some sideways socks which fit their wearer beautifully. They were made with a revised version of the pattern, but right now I don't think I can be bothered to work out the amendments needed to make sideways socks that will fit my husband. So these are to be in my standard sock pattern for him, top down, traditional heel flap, graduated wedge toe grafted side to side at the end.

I have just discovered something that may be a rather wonderful timesaver for me. Apparently there is something called Bloglines which will automatically check my regularly read blogs for me, and tell me when there are new posts for me to read. This sounds like an excellent idea, and I will have to investigate further.



Lucy is oblivious to the fact that winter has finally gone (well, hopefully it has, anyway) and is still in her favourite place on the sofa.

Friday, 6 April 2007

Quick answers

Now that the Inside Out socks are finished, I needed another small and portable project to hand. At the moment, this is Exchequered. I always like Alice Bell's patterns, and this is no exception.

I am using Patons Diploma Gold, not my favourite yarn, but chosen because this scarf will without doubt be thrown in the washing machine by its intended owner - and I am using black and apple green. DS has pronounced this scarf to be 'extremely cool', which is praise indeed, although I gather that he would have preferred a more fluorescent green. I, however, would not - and I feel that apple green works very nicely. The true colour is rather brighter that it looks in these pictures.





It wasn't entirely easy finding a comfortable method of working. In every row, the stitches are alternately knitted and purled, with both yarns brought between the needles after each stitch. The designer suggests holding both yarns in the same hand, but I like to work fair isle with one colour in each hand, and because old habits die hard, that was my choice here as well.

However, not surprisingly, there was something of a problem when I needed to purl with the yarn in my left hand. I am an English style knitter - yarn in my right hand - of many years standing, and although I can work Continental style as well, I do find that it is awkward for me to purl with the yarn in my left hand if I have one yarn in each hand, as I do here.

This rapidly became really quite frustrating. I do like to knit quickly, and I was beginning to think that this project - supposedly a quick and simple knit - was going to take a ridiculously long time to complete. How to speed things up?

And then I found a solution - combined knitting. I have played around a little with this method before, but I have never before used it to work an entire project. And really, it works like magic. It is hard to believe that this wonderful method has been available to me all these years, and I haven't identified just how useful it is. Purling with the yarn in the left hand is fluid, easy, and very fast. Knitting with the left hand is equally straightforward and equally fast. Somehow, it just feels right.

Problem solved! I can work quickly, my left hand is as fast as my right, and the rhythm of the work is very pleasing. I can see why people become so enthusiastic about this method - I am feeling rather enthusiastic about it myself, at the moment.

Will I become a Combined knitter? At the moment, it feels entirely possible.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Socks and confusion

Things have been extremely busy around here for the last couple of days. We are trying to move house, and I don't think this process is ever entirely straightforward. Hopefully things will start moving towards a conclusion soon, but that point doesn't seem to be in sight at the moment. At times like this, knitting seems more than ever like a refuge of sorts, even if I don't have much time to devote to it.

There has been some progress though. The Inside Out Socks are complete, and I am still rather pleased with them. The sock to the back is the right way round, and the other is inside out - you can see the different effect that the cables give. I am not entirely sure why this is so satisfying, but somehow a completely reversible sock seems an amazingly sensible idea.



They are very comfortable to wear. The ribbing around the foot is pleasantly grippy and to my surprise I do not find it irritating, the heel and toe are nicely cushioned with the garter stitch, and the whole thing works extremely well. I finished them at the top with a sewn cast off, which has echoes of the garter stitch, and seems very appropriate.

If I make this pattern again, as I well might, I will change just one thing - I won't work the cables on the leg, instead I will let the 2x1 ribbing from the top of the foot continue up the leg.



Here - slightly out of focus, I am afraid - you can see the clever heel. This is a short row heel, with wraps. The wraps are not picked up and worked, they are left to merge into the fabric, which they do very successfully. This is definitely one to remember, and use again. Thick, cushiony, easy (when you are paying attention) and quick to work.

Something else that I like about this sock is the use of different needle sizes in different areas. This is STR mediumweight, by the way - and the foot of the sock is worked on 2mm needles, and the leg on 2.75mm. This very neatly avoids any problems for those of us with high insteps, and counteracts the pulling in caused by the cables, which are 11 stitches wide.

Would you believe that only three colours were used in dyeing this yarn? Black, brown and green, apparently. Brown and green I would have guessed, but the third - I think I would have said, purple-grey. Black? I was very surprised. But it is wonderful, really. Very clever, those Blue Moon people! Dyeing is a closed book to me, so my viewpoint is an purely aesthetic one. In other words, I do think it's pretty.

And I do like this yarn. This is the first time I have used STR, and it has such a reputation for being wonderful that it is almost surprising to find that it isn't all hype after all. I shall see how it is in the wash, and how it wears.

I am very much looking forward to receiving this month's yarn and pattern, apparently it's being despatched in a couple of weeks. I wonder what colour it will be?

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Bohus

Oh, how I wish that I were a better photographer. Or indeed a photographer of any sort, because really I cannot seem to capture the beauty of this yarn, in particular the colours, which are wonderful.



Yes, this is a Bohus sweater kit. I have been looking at these for a little while now, at Solveig's site (click where it says Nyheter) and also at the Bohuslan Museum. I've seen some finished sweaters online - there is Stephanie's, you've seen it of course - the 'Gold' sweater - and also Wendy's - this is the 'Large Lace Collar'.

I have no willpower to mention, so really it was only a matter of time before I gave in and contacted Solveig, who is really helpful and has perfect English - and this arrived in very short order. This is 'Gray Mist'. I'm going to make the version with the folded down neckband, and the main decision I have to make now is concerning the choice of needles.

I have the sizes and lengths that I need in Inox greys - this sweater is worked on 2mm and 2.5mm needles, heaven - but part of me wants to wait until I can get my hands on some Addi lace needles, or perhaps even Knitpicks Classic Circs.

Decisions...... when in doubt, take the dog for a walk.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Monday morning

Today - photos.

Sock progress has been minimal, actually. But at least the heel is turned on the second sock.




Finally I think that this heel method is fixed in my mind. I don't usually like to use wrapped stitches at all, as I do prefer the finish with the yarnover method, and I found that using wraps in garter stitch I kept losing my place. The only way to overcome this is of course to concentrate on what I am doing, never my strong point. However I got there in the end.

The interesting thing about this heel is that the wraps are not picked up, they are just left to merge with the garter stitch fabric. I was a little doubtful about how well this would work, but the very fact that I kept losing my place is an indication that the wraps merge with the fabric extremely well. The result is rather pleasing, and I would expect this heel to wear well, too.

There is something else as well.




Those skeins of yarn are hand-dyed. The yarn is very fine, and wonderfully soft. And the colours are so subtle and beautiful....

More tomorrow.

Right now I am going to take the dog for a walk in this lovely sunshine.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Beginning...

The very first post. It's been suggested to me - many, many times actually - that I should consider having a blog of my own. So now, here I am.

And now that I am here, where to begin?

In common with a lot of other people, I have several things on the needles at the moment, and a whole lot more that I can't wait to get started on.

One thing is a constant however - socks.

Right now, it's the February sock kit from Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sock Club. It's the first time I've used this yarn and I approve of it, it's soft and cushiony underfoot, and the colours are just lovely. The Sock Club pattern is definitely not something I would ever have thought to try myself - ribbed all over, cables on the leg, and garter stitch short row toes and heels - but I find that I like it, and I know that I will wear these socks, as they are very comfortable. Most unexpected, really, when I think how far afield this pattern is from the socks that I usually knit. But after all, joining this Sock Club is about trying new things, at least that's how I think of it - and that will necessarily mean stepping outside the comfort zone. In this case, with very pleasing results.

It's easy to fall into a rut with something basic like sock knitting. I almost always make socks top down, with a traditional heel flap, and either a pointed toe with those beautiful spiral decreases (from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks) or else a straightforward wedge toe with graduated decreases, grafted side to side at the end of the toe. Sometimes, if the socks are for me, I work a short row heel and toe - I like Patricia Gibson-Roberts method best , her book Simple Socks: Plain and Fancy was something of a revelation to me - I had always thought I couldn't wear short row heels comfortably until I read her book. And then I finish the toe with a decorative Greek cast-off along the top - quick, easy, functional, attractive.

So, everything about this Blue Moon sock is new to me. And I am glad I tried it.

Tomorrow, I will work out how to post pictures here, and perhaps also play around a little with the way this page looks online. I am very non-techie these days - so that could be interesting......