Friday, 31 August 2007

Foggy again

Well, its got me again. I thought this thing had subsided, but apparently it was just lurking at the sidelines. Goodness I do hate being unwell. It is such a waste of time.

Although I do seem to be a bit on the slow side sometimes. This has been building for most of the last week, and I haven't wanted to acknowledge it. But finally sense has prevailed. Off to the GP today, and yet another lot of antibiotics, and I am officially instructed to take the pain pills. It is true that I do feel easier when I take them, but I don't like feeling so dopy.

So, things are a trifle foggy around here at the moment.

Adverse conditions notwithstanding, I do have a few things to write about. Photos tomorrow when clarity will (hopefully) have returned to some degree.

My August Sock Kit has arrived, and it is absolutely lovely, the nicest yet. I had been planning to take the new sock kit on holiday with me, but it isn't going to be entirely straightforward due to the nature of the pattern. There is a lacy fold down cuff with an overlap. This cuff is worked flat and then blocked, before joining to work the remainder of the sock. Now, blocking is much easier if you have access to a steam iron, and although I am a dedicated knitter, I am not so dedicated as to give packing space to a steam iron. No. So - I think - I will be winding the yarn into two balls and working the two cuffs first, separately. Then I can take things from there, when I am away.

What else - the fleece. This came out nice and clean, not smelling of sheep in the slightest, and soft and light as a cloud. Now I have to card it, and I have not actually done this before. This could be interesting.

I am thinking also about holiday knitting. We are away for a couple of weeks very soon, and I am wondering what to take. The new socks, definitely. And also, I think, Birch is a front runner. I have some KSH in Smoke that is just the thing. Or am I mad to think about knitting lace with KSH in Mediterrean temperatures?

Another possibility is Jaeger's Key West Pullover, worked in some Celeste that I bought from Elann a while ago. Big needles, nice cool linen mix tape yarn - and if I finish it whilst I'm away (don't laugh, it is possible ) then I could actually wear it out there.

More tomorrow......

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Wednesday morning

At least, I think it's Wednesday. I seem to have lost track slightly. Busy day today, family coming to stay, so this will be quick.

First, before I forget, a couple of finished garments.


I never did get around to putting up a picture of the GGH Illusion pullover. I think this was because the chaos of packing had started. No excuse for that now, so here it is.

I cannot remember which Rebecca this pattern was in, and I can't look it up because I have given it to my mother. Anyway, from an issue of Rebecca. The Illusion is lovely stuff to work with, soft and heavy and drapy, with a nice elasticity that means it is easy on the hands despite it's complete lack of wool content. Cotton, acrylic, acetate, I think.

It is a flattering top to wear, and it looks good with jeans. I've worn it several times already.



Jessie, from Debbie Bliss's Summer Essentials book. This was indeed finished over the weekend, and I am very pleased with it. The cashmere was bought at a bargain price from someone on the Angel Yarns forum, I cannot for the life of me remember who this was. But be that as it may, it has produced a lovely garment.

Extremely simple lines, just some shaping at the side seams and nicely curved armholes, a rolled edge at the neckline and just a few rows of k1p1 rib at the hem. And it is lovely to wear - in fact I am wearing it right now.


The Kauni cardigan is coming along.

This is lovely to work, and it would be an ideal first Fair Isle pattern. It looks much more complex than it actually is, of course. The pattern repeat is only 20 rows, and it consists of six striped rows alternating with four colourwork rows. Nice, easy knitting.

The yarn is just a tad thicker than Shetland jumperweight, and despite feeling a little harsh in the skein, it is easy on the hands due to the lanolin content. I'm betting that this will bloom beautifully when it is washed. It is addictive knitting for me, of course, because of the changing colours. Obviously I am easily pleased. But it is nice.

The garter stitch edging has produced several queries. The little blocks are 2 sts wide and 2 rows deep - so that's one garter ridge deep. I started off with 3mm needles and worked 4 stripes with this size (I think it was 4) and then shifted to 3.5mm, which is the size I am using for the rest of the garment.

This wasn't entirely intentional, but I find that I rather like the effect it produces, and I may work the rest of the bands in the same way. I shall see how I feel about it when I get there.



I haven't forgotten the lovely moorit Shetland fleece.

In fact, I will now go and rinse it off, I think. I am hoping that this time round, the result will be better.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Too much knitting?

It has occurred to me recently that my trusty knitting bag is perhaps a little over-full, not to say stuffed. Things are actually stacked up on the top, to the extent that I have to be careful they don't fall off. And I certainly can't close it.

There are two ways of looking at this. Either I need a bigger knitting bag - or else I have too much knitting.

Or perhaps I could say that I need a second knitting bag, but then I'd need another set of all the essential bits and pieces that get carried around in the bag - you know, tape measure, crochet hooks of varying sizes for picking up dropped stitches, little sharp scissors, stitch markers of various types, cable needles, needle sizers, tension square thingies, a chibi, a needle case for tapestry needles..... Nope. I'm not running with two bags.

So I thought I would take it all out of the bag and see exactly what I have been carting around. Well, almost all of it. Not the essential bits, the ones I was just talking about. Just everything else.

And there is indeed rather a lot of stuff.

From the bottom left, going clockwise and spiralling in -
  • photocopy pattern and needles for the Simple Cardigan from The Purl Stitch
  • rosewood needle case containing all my sock knitting dpns - I love this case, it is a thing of beauty
  • knitting bag
  • Exchequered, right at the back, green and black. I did actually work on this a bit today. It's in my knitting bag rather than my handbag because I went to knitting group in Bath today. More about that later.
  • some black Calmer to make Shedir
  • my trusty knitting notebook, an old Moleskine, with a calculator
  • a whole stack of patterns and a pattern book - Rowan Coast, because it has the pattern for Clovelly, which I will get round to - the pattern for Exchequered - the pattern for Shedir - and finally the pattern for the Kauni cardigan.
  • a little tin of hand cream, and a little lavender bag
  • the Kauni cardigan, which is growing. I do not love working garter stitch with colourwork in the round. I love the way it looks though.
  • two skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Wisteria
  • two skeins of beautiful merino tencel sock yarn in subtle greens
  • a skein of Socks That Rock lightweight in Watermelon Tourmaline, with STR's Hippy Crunchy sock pattern
Too much? I don't want to take any of it out.

What do other people carry around in their knitting bags, I wonder?

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Pretty things

I cast on for the Kauni cardigan.

I'm not going to work corrugated ribbing. That isn't one of my favourite things in the first place, and it has a strong tendency to curl, so as you can see I've decided to work a checked garter stitch edging instead - still in the round, with a steek. It is just so pretty. I always love garter stitch, and with the colour changes this looks almost beaded. Gorgeous.



And another pretty thing - my new crochet hook. Layers of clear pinky-red and sheeny slate blue. Handmade by Grafton Fibers, and bought here. It is just the right size and weight, lovely to hold, and I know it will be lovely to work with. Soon!


The last pretty thing doesn't have a picture, because the Vogue Knitting website is down, so I can't put a link. In the new issue of Vogue Knitting, Fall 07, there is a new colourway for the Twisted Float Shrug which is just stunning, beautiful earth colours.

Now, I need to make this. This is just so me, it is perfect. And this means that I need to find somebody who stocks LL Shepherd Worsted in Aslan and Pewter, and LL Grace in Pewter, and who will ship to the UK. Not so easy.......

Jessie, by the way, is very nearly finished. The front and the back are complete now, and I just need to join the shoulders and work the armhole edging. And seam the sides. That will happen later today. Honest. After I find an LL stockist. Or perhaps I should say, if I find an LL stockist. I am beginning to think that there isn't one......

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Unheard-of

I do not have any socks on the needles at the moment.

I cannot remember the last time this happened, truly. Usually I have socks in my handbag, so that they can be whipped out whenever I have a spare minute or so.

Whipping out Exchequered isn't quite so straightforward, not by a long way, as it is well past the halfway point now. But I do want this finished. The younger son - who asked for Exchequered to be made for him - is off to university at the beginning of October, and he can only take it with him if I have actually finished knitting it. And it won't get finished unless I do actually spend some time on it. So it is in my handbag.

I am quite unreasonably pleased with myself for picking it up again, actually. It feels like I am being noble, when I don't love this yarn at all - Patons Diploma Gold. Completely unjustified, of course, Nothing actually wrong with it, it just doesn't feel like wool. Which is not surprising, as mostly it isn't wool.

Also, Jessie is coming along nicely. In fact, its coming along rather fast. One piece is finished, and I am working the waist shaping on the second piece. Soon I shall be up to the armholes, and then it really accelerates. Done by the weekend, possibly. Or at least by the end of the weekend. We have guests, so I may not have much time to spare.....



But I really, really want to cast on for the Kauni cardigan. And I really, really want to start Malt. I haven't done any crochet for ages, but I remember well how portable it is, and how fast it grows. I have treated myself to one of these beautiful hooks made by Grafton Fibers, and I have just got an email today telling me that it is on its way. Aren't they just gorgeous? I can't wait to see what colour mine is going to be!

And I really, really want to pick up the Tartan Scarf again. It is sitting there looking at me....

I also have in mind to make - just quickly, on big needles - a top in some Jaeger Celeste that I bought a while ago at Elann, for a very good price. We are off on holiday in a few weeks, I could take it with me, it would get worn.....



Or I could just get on with Jessie and Exchequered.

Really, I do need more hours in the day.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Getting better

Things are definitely looking up.

I am feeling much better. I haven't done a lot of knitting over the weekend, mainly because I seem to have been asleep for most of the time. The antibiotics seem to have done their work, because this morning I found myself emerging as from a fog, ready to get on with things. This afternoon the final stitches are out, so that, hopefully, should be the end of that particular issue.

Despite not being very awake over the weekend, I did manage to finish the Panda Socks. DH hasn't tried them on yet, but I am sure they will fit.

This is an interesting yarn. The finished fabric is rather nice, smooth and cool to the touch, and almost spongy in texture. As I mentioned before, it does have a tendency to try to separate into its constituent plies - but really this isn't too bad. If I were unable to wear wool, I would certainly be using it again for socks. However as nobody in this household has that problem, I can't see it appearing on my needles again, particularly as the second skein had two knots in it.


Last time I posted, I was waiting for several things. Two of them have arrived, namely the Fall issue of Interweave Knits, and my rainbow Kauni yarn. I'm extremely pleased with both of them.

The Kauni is now arriving ready wound into balls, as you can see. This is a great improvement. My previous experience of this yarn has been that it is very difficult to wind, and I am glad not to have to wind this. These balls are 150 grams each, and apparently each ball has an entire colour sequence. I am thinking of starting with the top two.

I also bought some more of the lovely Jaeger Wool Stretch that Jannette has from time to time. This is, quite wonderfully, the same dye lot as the previous batch that I bought from her.


If you haven't encountered this yarn before, let me tell you that it is lovely stuff. Long discontinued, of course. It shrinks after making up in much the same way as Rowan Denim, except that with the Wool Stretch all you do is press it with a steam iron. The texture is amazing, and the finished fabric is just stunning. The shrinking process seems to remove all the tiny irregularities and produces an astonishingly even, smooth fabric.

I do wish that I could photograph blues more accurately. This is a deep dark blue, called Pacific. Just my sort of colour.

And IK also does not disappoint. This is Eunny Jang's first issue as editor, of course, and her Tangled Yoke Cardigan is on my list of must-have's now, as is Jared Flood's Cobblestone Pullover. I think the Tangled Yoke will be in the Felted Tweed it is written for, but the Cobblestone Pullover is going to be in Rowan All Seasons Cotton from stash.

In the meantime, I am going to swatch for the Kauni Cardigan this evening. Necessary, definitely, as I have noticed on the KauniKal that several people have had gauge issues with this pattern.

And also necessary because I have noticed that the garment dimensions given in the pattern schematic do not correspond to the stitch count....... Look at size L. Stitch count is 277. Take off 13 for the steek, that leaves 264 sts, which at 6 spi should be 44" round. And the schematic says 60 cm x 2, which is just about 47". Size M has a stitch count that works out at 40" around, compared with the schematic at 43". And size S, according to the stitch count, will work up at 36" around, compared with 39" according to the schematic.

So, I'm going to swatch carefully, and pick my size accordingly.

No new socks on the needles, not just yet. I shall wait for the new Blue Moon socks to arrive. In the meantime I've picked up Exchequered again, and it is now living in my handbag. And yes, it does take up a lot of room, so maybe that will provide sufficient motivation to me to finally get this finished.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Knitting under the influence

I had to miss knitting group last night, much to my annoyance.

I finally acknowledged to myself that there was something amiss with one of the places where a suspect mole was removed. Antibiotics and some fairly heavy pain pills are hopefully setting things back on track again, however I do feel kind of spacy. Driving - not a good idea, definitely not. With regard to knitting, however, I don't seem to have a problem, as long as I can stay awake. Some sort of autopilot, possibly. Heh.

I've finished the first Panda sock. I haven't cast on for the second sock yet, but I have every intention of doing so - in fact I really must do so immediately. If I were to encounter Second Sock Syndrome at all, it would be with these socks.

Still waiting for the rainbow Kauni.

Still waiting for my copy of Interweave Knits.

And still waiting for the Blue Moon sock kit too, of course.

I suppose I'd better go and knit that sock......

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Must knit faster!

I am really getting fed up with the Panda socks. I've had to pull the first sock well back - when I reached the beginning of the toe shaping, I ran out of yarn. This has never happened to me before. I had wondered if there would be enough, and I had made the leg 10 rounds shorter than usual to take account of this. Still not enough, though.

So, I pulled it back past the heel, and took out 14 more rounds of the leg. 20 rounds of k1 p1 rib, and 36 rounds of stocking stitch instead of 60. Quite a difference. I've turned the heel -again - and I'm working on the gusset - again. I've lost what enthusiasm I ever had for this....



The thing is, that it is actually rather a nice fabric. Very soft, nice and squishy. The Panda is more splitty now its been frogged once, but its not too bad really.

But I would much, much rather be working on something else.



Like the Tartan Scarf for instance. Gorgeousness.

This is such fun to work, as well. The yarns are all lovely - KSH is always luscious. This colour is Hurricane - it's a deep, deep, dark blue, not as bright as the screen shows. And Tapestry is so soft and beautiful. I am always a sucker for pretty colour changes, as well - this is two separate balls of Lakeland, and the horizontal stripes are worked in Moorland.

I emailed Rowan about this pattern, actually. The pattern requirements say two 25 gm balls of KSH - it seemed to me that there is no way I was going to use this much, even with a long fringe at each end. So I was wondering if there was perhaps an error in the pattern instructions, and the KSH should actually be held double.

Turns out that the pattern is correct. The model scarf used 26 grams of KSH - just one gram of the second ball.

Never mind, a stray ball of KSH will find a use, I am sure. If nothing else, it just can sit on my desk and be admired.

So, at the moment I have the Tartan Scarf, which is not very portable, as it has at least 3 balls of yarn running, and sometimes 4. And there are the Panda socks, which really I am not so interested in any more, but I ought to finish. I don't feel right starting another pair of socks whilst I still have these on the needles. And there is Jessie, in that luscious chocolate cashmere. We won't mention Exchequered, not at the moment.

My problem is that I need to get all this out of the way as soon as possible, because - finally! - my rainbow Kauni is on its way. I joined the KauniKal a while back, but I haven't exactly been much of a participant, as I haven't been able to obtain any yarn til now. It hasn't arrived yet, but it's on its way.

And! - so is the August sock kit from Blue Moon. I wonder what is in store for us this time!

Friday, 10 August 2007

Miscellanea

  • I've just finished reading Greenery Street. This is just the loveliest book. Read it, do. I wish it were longer.

  • I've been knitting the Panda Cotton socks. The fabric is nicer than I was expecting, and the yarn isn't as splitty as I had thought. Working the heel on the first sock at the moment.

  • The boxes were collected, by the way. I forgot to mention it. What a relief.

  • The garden should be nearly finished by this time next week. The paving will be completed this weekend, and the turf will go down on Thursday. That just leaves the second set of steps. We'll be able to sit outside! Excellent....

  • I didn't get to the fleece after all, it's amazing how many things conspire to fill the days. But I will. Next week, I think. Drying outside will not be possible at the weekend, due to the dust from paving being cut.

  • I've had four suspect moles removed today. Please, please, if you are in any doubt whatsoever about a mole, get it checked by your GP. My dermatologist says that mine are almost certainly benign. Almost. Right now I have a sore face, but I don't mind. 'Almost' is not quite enough, you know. In the meantime, arnica, I think.

  • Lucy continues to improve. Such a relief.

  • And I've got some more yarn. Have a look here. Lovely embroidered crochet jacket, and stunning knitted scarf. Both of them. I am trying to restrain myself from casting on for the scarf immediately. I really should finish Jessie. I really should finish the Panda socks. The scarf is KSH and Tapestry...... It is going to be a completely luscious fabric, and fun to knit as well. I don't think I can hold out.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

All good stuff

I have a new favourite book.

Wendy Keele's Poems of Colour - this is about Bohus Stickning, and really I can't praise it too highly. This book tells in fascinating detail the story of how Bohus Stickning came to be, its growth to popularity, and the reasons for its decline. The garments themselves are discussed as well - the yarns, the construction techniques, the patterns and the use of colour - and the varying styles of the different designers.

And best of all - the whole second half of the book is given over to patterns. I completely hadn't realised this, and it was a lovely surprise. Gloves, mittens, hats, yoke sweaters, cardigans, jackets - they are all there, together with yarn requirements and the colour patterns. Wonderful.....



On the knitting front, the Solstice Slip socks are finished, and very nice they are too. Finally I gave up and followed the pattern directions for the top of the sock. As simple as it could possibly be - literally just a loose cast off in pattern, and it works very well indeed. I did try a sewn cast off, after I ripped back the garter stitch edging and two stage cast off - but somehow it just didn't look quite right. This, however, is just fine.



Jessie continues. I am nearly up to the armhole shaping on the back - or front, as they are interchangeable. Nice relaxing stocking stitch in a lovely soft yarn is just what I want at the moment.

The ribbing is determined to flip up, it seems. I hope that a quick blast with the steam iron will sort this out in due course. I'm working here with my Knitpicks Options, by the way. I do like these needles!

And I have, technically, cast on for another pair of socks. Just.

This is Panda Cotton, and I am not quite sure about it at the moment, it seems to have a tendency to drop apart into its separate plies. Although I haven't exactly given it much of a chance so far, so I really should reserve judgement.


With regard to life in general, we have been playing tourist again, this time in Bath.

The Roman Baths are not to be missed, really. And the spring is a quite wonderfully atmospheric place....

That incredible colour is true. It's caused by the iron salts in the water, apparently.


Other things - I've been washing some of my lovely moorit Shetland fleece. This was surprisingly time consuming, and not entirely successful, unfortunately. It still smells of sheep, even though the water runs clear.

I think I have been much too cautious with this. From what I can find out, I need water that is very hot indeed, and a detergent with a little more authority might also be in order. Lukewarm water and Ecover gentle wash liquid definitely haven't done the trick. I see a lot of online recommendations for Dawn dishwash liquid for this, and I'm wondering if Fairy liquid is anything along the same lines. Well, I'll have another attempt tomorrow. It's all part of the learning process, I suppose.


And last but certainly not least, Lucy has started to improve. She had a distinct relapse last week, but over the weekend she has definitely turned the corner. Although she is not yet back to her usual bouncy and irrepressible self, we can see that she is at least on the way, and we hope this will continue.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Friday morning

I made my first visit to a new knitting group yesterday evening. I headed off into the unknown - well, alright, towards Junction 17 of the M4 - and much to my own surprise, found the place with absolutely no problems whatsoever.

What can I say? Good company, lots of knitting and friendly conversation - I'll be back for the next meeting. Here is the yahoo group, by the way.

The second Solstice Slip sock is on the home straight.

I'm going to rip back the top edge of the first sock and finish it according to the pattern instructions, I've decided. The garter stitch edging looks like a ruffle on top of the slip stitch pattern, and although it looks alright in wear, I am not really happy with it. So it will be pulled back, and I shall work maybe another half repeat of the pattern, and then 'cast off loosely in pattern' - exactly as the instructions say. This is supposed to be about stepping out of my comfort zone and doing things that I wouldn't usually have done, after all, and the word on the STR sock club blog is that a normal cast off works just fine.

We went to Bradford on Avon earlier in the week and did the tourist thing for an afternoon, except that I completely forgot to take any pictures. This is such a pretty little town. The old part is all narrow streets and passageways, and all the houses are in that beautiful golden Bath stone. There is a Saxon church, with lovely carved angels on the wall, and the Town Bridge is just beautiful. There is a little lock-up partway across, with a fish on the weathervane. Apparently it was used to lock up drunks, who were said to be 'under the fish and over the water' - this is now the town's motto! And look - a spinner - well, she is holding a distaff, anyway.

No yarn shop, though, and apparently there isn't one in Bath, either.

We did make one purchase though.


My husband was greatly taken with this sign - as an old hippy, he remembers seeing signs like this for real, around festival sites back in the early seventies. So now it is on the wall next to our back door.

And that leads me to one of my current preoccupations - our back garden. Here is the current state of play.

Still mostly mud, as you can see. It will be wonderful when it is finally finished, and I can just let Lucy outside. Soon, soon....

And speaking of Lucy, thankyou for your good wishes. The invalid is still rather unwell. Currently she is on three antibiotics together with painkillers, and yesterday the vet was talking about possible surgery. This photo was taken yesterday evening - this morning she is a little brighter. Back to the vet again later today for review, hopefully.

And right now she is reminding me that it is time for another feed.....