Saturday, 23 June 2007

Watch this space

Nearly there now.

Just one more day, and then the removal van is here. We really are going to be ready. Today there was last minute looking along shelves and through cupboards, last minute cleaning, and some time spent putting together a file of useful information for the new people who will soon be living here. The keys are all labelled and waiting on the shelf, the box of needful things is being put together - tea, coffee, mugs, washing up liquid, teatowels, soap, handtowels, first aid kit, loo rolls....

All I need to do is put my chosen knitting in a bag, pack a little backpack of necessities, and we are done, I think. Lucy will go to the kennels on Monday morning so she isn't upset by seeing all the house contents being taken out the door, and we will collect her on Tuesday as we leave to go down to Wiltshire.

And I will indeed be taking far too much knitting - I'm relieved to find that I'm not alone in this. I'm sure it is some sort of comfort blanket...

I have finished the Illusion pullover - well, I will be finishing the last seam tomorrow morning actually, but it counts as finished. I will attack it with the steam iron tomorrow whilst I deal with the huge pile of ironing that is waiting at the moment, and then I can fold it away in the wardrobe.

Picture when it stops raining - if it ever does. It's beginning to feel like we should be building an ark. I hope it isn't raining in Wiltshire. And I do hope they have built the missing steps by Tuesday, otherwise access to the garage will be interesting, not to say muddy.

Next project will be Jessie, in that rather nice chocolate coloured cashmere. This isn't any sort of milk chocolate, it is the real Green & Black's colour. Yum. I haven't cast on yet, that is a treat reserved for tomorrow evening, by which time the computer will be disconnected ready for Monday morning.

Clovelly is coming with me too, as is Patrick - this is an old Rowan Denim pattern, I cannot find a picture, so you will have to take my word for it - it is a beautiful Aran. I have some ecru Denim to make it in, and I am looking forward to that.

There will also be Queen of the Waves, in Kauni yarn. And socks of course.

The silk laceweight is going to have to wait a little - this is really quite difficult to work with, but it is such luscious stuff in the skein that I am unwilling to give up. I have swatched it, and I like 3.25mm needles. The swatch had a strong resemblance to a pan scrubbie when I cast off - both in texture and appearance, actually - but the magic of the steam iron transformed it into a slinky, drapy piece of fabric with an incredible sheen.

I do wish I knew a way of making this yarn behave, though. It seems to tangle if you so much as look at it. I believe that the problem is actually made worse by winding it into a ball - this has to be done by hand anyway, as it tries to leap off the ballwinder at every opportunity.

Because of this, I am thinking of not winding it, and working directly from the skein. This might be interesting, however I am sure it will be possible. There are pictures in Sharon Miller's wonderful books 'Heirloom Knitting' and 'Shetland Hap Shawls' of Shetland knitters working directly from the skein, either looped over one wrist or one knee - and I know I have seen a picture somewhere showing a knitter working from a skein hanging from a hook on the wall..

So it can be done, and with this slippery silk laceweight, it may be the answer. We shall see. And in the meantime, any more comments or ideas on this, or indeed other ways of coping with it, would be much appreciated!

I am not sure when we will have internet access after the move. We will have a landline connection of sorts on Wednesday, and only after that is in place will the internet people talk to us about getting ADSL. So I don't know how long it will take. Not long, I hope.

After all, the first clue for MS3 is being posted on Friday next. I don't want to miss that.

And I want to play with Ravelry some more, as well. Did I mention Ravelry before? It is a wonderful resource, and it is incredibly easy to spend far too much time there just wandering around looking at things, and soaking up information.

I will be back.....!

Friday, 22 June 2007

Completely daft

Somehow I am feeling very insecure at the moment. It is all pretty easy to recognise, moving - yes, life being packed up in boxes - yes, not knowing where to find anything - yes...... but one thing that is bothering me unreasonably is having my stash all packed up, and not accessible.

Yes, I will be taking my knitting bag, which of course has far too much jammed into it - but I find that I also want to take several projects with me. Daft idea, of course. At the very most I'm going to be knitting socks and a simple top over the next week or so, there simply won't be time for anything else.

And yet I still want to take the Queen of the Waves pattern and my nicely wound Kauni yarn. And Clovelly, and Patrick, and Birch, and a Helen Hamann top. Completely nonsensical, of course. I have yarn for quite a few pair of socks in my knitting bag, and although it is possible to knit a sock in one day, it certainly isn't something that I do on an ongoing basis - so why on earth do I want to take all this stuff with me?

Get a grip, girl.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Three days....

This isn't really an ideal time to be losing net access, possibly for as long as a week or two.

I've recently joined Melanie's Mystery Stole 3 group on yahoo, and the first clue is being released on Friday next week. It is entirely possible that I may not be back online at that point.

I'm hoping to work this stole in some cream silk laceweight, with silver lined crystal beads which take on the colour of the yarn in a quite beautiful way. The laceweight is not the easiest thing in the world to handle at the moment - I'm still winding it up from the skein - but it is so luscious and slinky that I forgive it. Well, probably. I haven't started swatching yet, so maybe I should reserve judgement.

I'm looking to join the Kauni cardigan knitalong as well. The rainbow colourway of the Kauni yarn seems to be a bit hard to come by at the moment, which isn't very surprising in view of the fact that Stephanie is knitting this cardigan at the moment. Supply will catch up with demand in the end, no doubt.

I'm still waiting for my June sock kit from Blue Moon. It was supposed to be sent out on the 14th, but some of the kits - mine among them - sat in storage at the airport for five days. It left San Francisco on Tuesday this week - I do hope it gets here before we leave on Tuesday next week.

And in the meantime, any tips for dealing with slippery silk laceweight will be greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Four days....

Four days left until the removals van arrives. I still cannot really take this in.

We went down to Wiltshire yesterday for our 'New Home Demonstration'. We now know how to work the scary pressurised water system - well, in theory - how to programme the central heating (easy!) - and where all the stopcocks are, which is always a good thing.

And the house - the house is just lovely. The rooms are all a good size, and it is well planned. Very importantly, the third bedroom is going to be our craft room. It will be fairly crowded, but it will be just what we want. A big sofa for sitting and knitting; a favourite chair by my spinning wheel, with my floor-standing needlepoint frame nearby; a desk with the computer, and my husband's easel and paints... and the yarn storage, not to be forgotten! One wall is going to be shelves, floor to ceiling.

There is a wonderful view from the back of the house - a long, long view, right across the Avon valley towards Bath, and not a single house in sight, just trees. Lots of trees, and hills. Lovely.

The boat will be literally four minutes walk from the house.

And none of it seems quite real, which is strange.

We have planned and dreamed about this house, in this location. We were so very pleased to find it and so completely downcast when we were told that we had lost it - that was very hard to take on board. We had just about accepted that it was never going to happen, when everything was reversed, and it was ours again - but that initial elation hasn't come back. I think that it won't be until we are actually there, then we will be able to finally believe it, really believe it....

There have been some minor hitches, but nothing that won't get sorted out. A missing flight of steps, which should give access to the back of the garage. Yes, completely not there. A missing conservatory - it's been raining, which means they are behind schedule. And the most unbelievable piece of 'jobsworth' nonsense with regard to the phone line that I have ever come across.

I'll tell you about that. The house has three phone sockets. The main socket is inconveniently placed in the hallway, there is one in the sitting room, and another in the main bedroom. The tails of the wires from the other sockets have been led back to the main socket, and are sitting there waiting to be connected. The wires are all beautifully hidden behind the walls, as you'd expect with a new build house.

But! - the housebuilders will not connect them, as they are not allowed to touch the phone company's wiring. According to them, the phone company has to do it.

But! - the phone company will not connect them, as they did not install the sockets. It's not a case of they will only do it if we pay a fee - they will not connect them, flat, absolutely adamant about it, will not. They are quite happy to come and install more sockets next to the ones we already have, and run wiring along the surfaces of the walls, through the house and back to the main socket. But connect up those existing sockets? No chance. More than their jobs worth.... According to them, the housebuilders have to do it.

But! - the housebuilders are not allowed to touch the phone company's wiring, so they cannot connect anything to it. The phone company has to do it.

And so on and so forth, round and round we go in circles ....

Grrrr. I will get this sorted. I will.....

I've been spending a lot of time on the phone. Far too much time, actually.

I have been doing some knitting, but not a lot. If I'd spent as much time knitting as I've spent on the phone, I'd be a considerably less stressed person this evening.

However, the first of the Meilenweit socks is completed. This is the first time that I've worked with a cotton based sock yarn, and this is a pleasant yarn to work with. It is easy on the hands, with a pleasant silky feel to it, and the fabric has a good stretch to it. I will cast on for the second sock this evening if I get time.

The second sleeve of the Illusion pullover is in progress - about one third complete, actually. I would like this pullover finished, I want to wear it, as I think I already mentioned. Not much more to do now.

Incidentally, it is also four days until I lose internet access. In theory we will be getting net access again towards the end of next week, but I will reserve judgement on the likelihood of that, for the time being.

Four days.....

Friday, 15 June 2007

Relativity

We all know that knitting affects the space time continuum - as you get near the end of the skein when you are running out of yarn, you knit faster - that way the yarn lasts longer. Of course.

But there are definitely times when I feel that something else is going on as well.

Yesterday, I wound up the Kauni yarn - and the cashmere as well, which you can see lurking at the back there. So, I started with this great big loose-ish skein of wool. It did look slightly tangly, I will admit.

And eventually, I ended up with this. However it wasn't easy - I mean really it wasn't easy. there were moment when I thought I was going to have to cut the yarn. And I never do that.

I mean, how hard can it be? You untwist the skein, you snap it a few times to settle everything as much as you can, you put it nicely on the swift, you untie the ties and take off the label, and off you go with the winder.

There are no real tangles - there can't be. All that's happened to the yarn in the skein is that it's been wound around and around and around. Sometimes it might look like there is a tangle - all it will be is a loop thats become pulled back on itself. You pull the loop out, follow it around the skein and place it back over the top of the swift, and all will be well.

Except not with this skein. I promise, I was beginning to believe that part way through skeining it had exited space time as we know it, turned itself inside out a few times and tied itself in knots unknown to our geometry - and then come back here and sat there waiting for an unsuspecting victim. Me, in other words.

It took ages. At one point I actually went and found the other end and started winding by hand to try to get some of the more inextricable bits sorted out. I have never had a skein like this before, and I certainly hope that the next instalment of Kauni (yes, there will be more!) will be a significant improvement. However if it turns out to be the same, then at least I can say that I'm not surprised.

Anyway, the yarn. The colours are just what I wanted - cream, soft biscuit brown, and soft grey. And although initially the yarn seemed to be on the rough side, actually handling it during winding has shown me that there is a lot of lanolin still in this yarn, definitely. It smells slightly of sheep, in a pleasant way. I am sure it will soften and expand with washing. And in the meantime, it has given me lovely soft hands, which is a nice bonus.

Also, here you can see the finished Grasshoppers, looking appropriately seaweedy for a colourway called Walking on the Wild Tide. Just to recap, this is Blue Moon's April sock kit. The yarn is Socks That Rock Silkie, a brand new yarn, which I can totally recommend. They are worked on #2 Boye's (2.75mm), producing a tension spot on for the pattern, of 8 spi over stocking stitch, much to my surprise.

Excellent pattern, world class yarn.



This weekend, I will continue with the Meilenweit Cotton Fantasy socks, which are going very nicely thankyou, and I absolutely must get the Illusion pullover finished. It has gone on far too long, especially for something that was supposed to be a super-quick knit, and anyway I want to be wearing it, the weather is just right for it at the moment. We will not discuss Exchequered. I cannot face any more little squares..... and yet I must.....

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Progress!

I have finished the Grasshopper socks! This is a good thing, as the June kit is due to be sent out tomorrow. Hopefully it will be here well before we move - less than two weeks now. We finally have a firm date agreed, this is a great relief.

I haven't got a picture of the socks just yet, because it is very difficult photographing one's own feet, particularly when nobody has yet worked out the delay function on the camera. But these are lovely socks. The yarn is lush, as I have already mentioned, and the colours are beautiful, positively jewel- like. Add an interesting construction and a pleasant easy lace stitch, and you have a good combination.

The Illusion sweater was actually tried on this evening in a manner of speaking, with only one sleeve, and with the help of a lot of safety pins holding the seams in place. This was because I suddenly doubted whether it was going to fit - perhaps I should have made the small size instead of the medium? But no, all is well. The medium is going to fit nicely.

I've changed my mind about the next two projects though. The Tuscany shawl will have to wait. Instead, I am going to make Queen of the Waves, in some rather nice Kauni yarn in shades of cream, grey and soft browns. I know this is not very nautical, but I do like my neutrals.

I haven't wound it up yet. I was planning to get that done this evening, but things keep happening. I am really looking forward to using this yarn, I have seen some beautiful finished objects worked with it. In the skein it does seem a little rough, but I have confidence that it will soften with washing.

And I have decided what the next garment will be, once Illusion is finished. I'm going to make Jessie, from Debbie Bliss' Summer Essentials book - this will be worked in some handspun chocolate brown cashmere that I bought last year. Lovely! And a quick, easy knit as well.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Still here

I am indeed still here - and I think it is becoming apparent that I can't move house and blog regularly at the same time. There are people who manage this, but I don't seem to be among them.

Sorting and clearing out is just so time consuming. There is a certain cathartic pleasure in letting go of things not needed, true - but really I would rather be spending my time and energy doing other things, such as knitting, reading, playing the piano, walking..... I miss my spare time!

It's not just the sorting and packing of course, there is also the driving to and from the new house, the meetings, the telephone calls... it seems neverending at the moment. But in just a few weeks it will all be done with, and I do have that to look forward to.

I am still knitting, whenever I can find the time.

The Illusion pullover has one sleeve finished now, and the second still to be worked. I will have enough yarn to finish - I had six skeins left for the sleeves, and the first sleeve took all but a very few yards of three skeins. So that is alright.

The Grasshopper socks are continuing as well, in fact I've been working on them a little today. I am working the gusset on the second sock at the moment. I do want to get these finished soon, as the June sock kit will be on it's way soon, I am sure. And it would also be nice to get another pair done before that, if I can fit it in - although that may be wishful thinking again on my part.

Exchequered is not forgotten, I worked on it a little yesterday. My son is keen for this to be finished, despite the fact that the weather no longer justifies it. I am also quite keen for it to be finished, as I am getting bored with green and black squares and would like to start something else.

S0 - when these three projects are finished, I shall replace each of them with something else. The next sock will hopefully be the Meilenweit Cotton Fantasy that I bought last weekend, in my standard sock pattern, to fit my husband. The next scarf/shawl project will probably be the Tuscany shawl from 'No Sheep for You', in Fiddlesticks Country Silk, Marrakesh colourway.

But the next garment project is another matter. I know that I ought to start the black Cotton Fleece Simple Cardigan, but it doesn't appeal right now..... So I have some alternatives in mind, and I will have to make my mind up soon.

There is Thrift, from Rowan 27. I have loved this pullover for years. It is only a simple shape, but I love all the little coloured squares, and I love the blanket stitching too. Or there is the Summer Pullover from The Knit Stitch, in some vintage Rowan California Cotton from the stash - no, maybe not, I don't think I want more garter stitch just yet. Or Clovelly from Classic Coast, in RYC Cotton Jeans.... I think this will be the one. I would like to have it in my wardrobe, to pick up and wear - that is always very motivating. And I know the neckline will suit me....

But part of me wants detail and fine yarn. And that means either Alice Starmore's Cape Cod, in Rowan 4 ply cotton - or else the Chevron Sweater from Erika Knight's Glamour Collectibles.

I am just going to have to see what feels right, when Illusion is finished.

Monday, 4 June 2007

You are not ready, Grasshopper

Ok, I'm sorry, I won't do that again! - but I just couldn't resist.


Here is one Grasshopper sock, definitely not ready. Actually I've done a little more this evening, and I'm working the ribbing at the top edge at the moment. Then there is a sewn cast off, and it will be time to cast on for the second sock.

I absolutely love these - and I wasn't expecting to, not at all. The fabric is just so lush. World class yarn, truly. I love the lace (very unexpected) and the heel is excellent. I'm enjoying working with these dpns, as well. They are 2.75mm Boyes, and I bought them from Natalie. I usually prefer a set of 5, but a set of 4 works beautifully with this pattern - very fortuitous. So, I'll finish this first sock very soon, and hopefully the next one won't take nearly as long to finish.

Not least, because I want to cast on with this .....


Here is some rather pretty Meilenweit Cotton Fantasy sock yarn, which I bought at Live Crafts on Saturday in the grounds of Loseley House, from some nice people called Lakeside Crafts. They tell me their website is a little out of date, and indeed that seems to be the case. Besides a whole array of lovely Trekking yarns, and an assortment of cotton and silk mix sock yarns, they also had a whole rail of gorgeous Silkwood yarns. I know, I know - I should have taken a picture. But I think I was in shock.

With regard to the move - I haven't yet found anything that I actually want to find, unfortunately. Like the stray ball of Berroco Suede that would go to finish Ruffles, for example. Wishful thinking there, I'm afraid.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Tagged....

Kai has tagged me to tell 8 random things about myself.

  1. I used to sail a lot when I was in my teens - racing dinghies, specifically - and I still love messing around in boats.
  2. I love to play the piano. I've never had lessons, though. And yes, I can read music - although I can't remember learning.
  3. I read a lot - I mean, really a lot. The books in the sidebar are only part of it.....
  4. I enjoy learning languages.
  5. I have a degree in Physics from Imperial College.
  6. I studied for a maths degree with the Open University, but I haven't quite completed it. Yet. I still might. Who knows?
  7. I've been shortsighted all my life, until I had my eyes lasered five years ago. Expensive, but worth every penny. Wonderful to open your eyes in the morning, and be able to see across the room.
  8. My life has completely changed direction three times in the last seven years.
Now according to the rules here -
  • Participants start with 7 or 8 random facts about themselves
  • Tagged people write a blog entry of their random facts
  • At the end of the post, tag 7 or 8 more people, and include their names
  • Leave each of them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and refer them back to your blog
I am supposed to tag 8 other people. This is difficult. I read a lot of blogs, but I don't know many of their authors personally, and I feel very awkward about tagging somebody whom I don't really know. So I think I am just going to say - please consider yourself tagged, if you would like to!


On other matters, I am incredibly busy sorting things out ready for our move. We still don't have a firm completion date, although we know it will almost certainly be before the end of this month. The most likely date is just about three weeks away now.

It is astonishing how much stuff accumulates when you stay in one place for a few years. Biros get lost, socks get lost, dpns get lost - why doesn't 'stuff' get lost? It would be most helpful if it would all just conveniently disappear.

Knitting. I have knit not one single stitch on the Illusion pullover. This is because most of my knitting has been done in the car over the last few days, and working Russian joins going down the A303 is not the easiest thing in the world.

So instead, I have picked up the Grasshopper socks again. I am just loving these. The lace pattern is going very easily - I have heard of people having problems with this, as it is all yo p2tog, but it seems to be flowing very nicely. And I am very taken with the heel shaping. It is a toe up sock, with a heel flap. This is not intuitive in the way that top down heel flaps are nowadays for me, but I think I will use this construction method again. Currently I am working the shaping at the back of the leg. Perhaps not entirely necessary, as this fabric is extremely stretchy, but I like the look of it.

Progress picture in the next post, if I am not lost without trace beneath a sea of cardboard boxes.