Friday, 30 November 2007

On function and product

Yet another snappy title.

But I've been thinking about the design process over the last couple of days, whilst I continue to plod through these wretched socks - and also about why I choose to knit something. The two are very much interlinked for me. So, a bit of online musing this morning.

First and foremost, if I am going to spend my time knitting something, it absolutely has to be something that I (or the recipient, if it is going to be a gift) will want to wear or use. And it has to look good, of course. Sometimes this means a neutral colour with a flattering shape - sometimes it means that the shape is basic, and the colour or texture of the fabric are what makes it work. But it absolutely has to be something that is going to be used. It has to work.

Form and function, interlinked, both important. Nothing very original there. But I tend to think that function is the more important of the two. If something looks beautiful but isn't practical, or has a small detail that means it doesn't quite work - then it won't get worn. It will sit in the wardrobe and never emerge except to be briefly admired, and then put back. That isn't what I want to achieve, not in my knitting, and not in design either.

If it is going to be worth knitting - if it is going to be worth putting on paper at all - then the functional details have to be right. Socks must not only look good, they must also fit comfortably inside shoes and boots. Pullovers must sit nicely at the neckline, and be comfortable under a jacket or coat. Sleeves must not droop into the gravy, or indeed into the sink, or over the cooker. Scarves must be the right width, with enough length to wrap around properly, and they must lie flat when you want them to.

I've had a couple of sock designs in mind for a little while now - I think I mentioned this, actually. And I've also got a pullover design in Rowan Denim that is mentally taking shape, more on that one another time. But it occurs to me that maybe I am perhaps being too much of a perfectionist, and that I am putting too much focus on detail. Things would certainly go faster if I wasn't quite so picky. And after all, it's still only my own opinion here....

Thinking about the socks as an example in point - the single most comfortable pair of socks that I own are the Solstice Slip socks, which were one of the Blue Moon sock club patterns this year. Dreadful picture, I am aware. But despite appearances, these are extremely pretty socks, and they fit quite wonderfully well.


Incidentally this was not what I expected from this pattern, not at all. I like top down socks, worked with a good traditional heel flap. I've got a nice straightforward pattern all worked out, that fits everyone for whom I knit. It's over there in the sidebar. But these socks are nothing like that. They are worked toe up, with a garter stitch short row toe and heel. And they fit just amazingly well. They are not too tight or too loose anywhere at all and they are just so comfortable with the soft thick toes and heels. So if we're talking about form versus function here, then they score pretty highly on both scales.

However they are not entirely perfect. I wore them yesterday for the first time with my new boots - and while I think of it, the new boots were a significant thing too, because they were bought just a little larger than normal in order to have room for handknit socks. Now there's commitment for you. I've seen and heard of them elsewhere in blogland, and believe me, they are so comfortable that I forget I've got them on. Brilliant boots, really. They work.

Where was I? - right, the socks. The socks have a pretty slip stitch mock cable pattern on them - and the 'cables' are placed so that there just happens to be one running directly up the centre back of the sock, right along the Achilles tendon. And no, that is not very comfortable to wear with ankle boots. So although these are really well fitting socks, I probably won't be reaching for them if I know I'm going to be wearing my boots. Or if I do put them on, then I will twist them round a bit, so that the legs aren't quite straight, they'd be fine then.

But that's exactly the sort of thing that I mean - the little details that make the difference between something that is absolutely right, and something that makes you think to yourself, well, next time I'll change that.

Maybe I am a perfectionist, but after all, our main investment in knitting is our time. And if it's worth spending that time to make something in the first place, then let it be something that is worthwhile, something that works right, that fits well, that will be worn and washed and worn again and again, for years. Because it works.

Not everyone will agree with me, I'm sure. In the perennial debate regarding product and process, it seems that I am a product knitter. Although the process is important - if I don't enjoy the process, then I'm going to have problems continuing with the project (hah, socks) - although the process is important, I've come to realise that for me it is always secondary to the fact that the product will be right, that it will be used.

You know, if someone had asked me before I talked this through, I'm sure I would have said I was a process knitter.


Sock progress, by the way - three and a bit more than half still to go.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Thursday

I'm not going to inflict on you any pictures of the sock in progress this morning. I'm just about to work the toe shaping on the current sock, so that will be finished today. By lunchtime, in fact, if I actually work on it. The lurgy is still around, but starting to retreat.

That will leave four socks to make - two which are the partners of the last sock and the one that is on the needles at the moment, and one more pair. I am wondering how fast it would be possible to get this lot out of the way. Richard Rutt's gem of information about hand knitters routinely making six pairs a week is making me feel fairly inadequate. Mind you, I do have other things in my life, like the occasional bit of laundry and housework, and walking the dog, and playing the piano....

Yesterday evening, and again this morning, I've been enjoying looking through some old Rowan magazines that I have just bought. I used to have all the Rowan magazines from - I think - number 18 onwards, but some of them went astray in a house move. Actually I do wonder how on earth that can happen. There is no doubt that it does, though.

Anyway it is apparent that my sense of style is still stuck firmly in the late 90's, as I keep finding patterns that I would love to make, and for which I already have appropriate yarn in the stash. Amongst them is the newly rediscovered (well, by me, anyway) Kaffe Fassett pullover Courthouse Steps.


This one is dateless. It is entirely possible to knit (although it is full of intarsia) and it doesn't use too many colours either, being relatively restrained and only using 15 shades. I found one yesterday evening that used no less than 28 different colours, and the chart was printed with absolutely minuscule squares. I'd never be able to cope with that one. I don't think I will ever get round to Courthouse Steps - not realistically - but it is nice to dream.....

This sort of thing is where Ravelry comes into its own. It is so easy to go to my queue, and just add something. Then I have a note of the pattern, the yarn I had in mind, and also where the pattern is to be found, which is extremely important. Well, it would be easy if Ravelry wasn't down for maintenance for half an hour.....

My Ravelry beta tshirts arrived the other day, and they are very nice, made with good quality fabric. I bought a men's XXL which is just as enormous and sloppy as I had hoped, and a women's L, which seems to have been rather optimistic of me - I would describe it as form-fitting. I believe that I should have bought the XL, which apparently fits a UK 14 - 16. Or possibly an XXL would have been more sensible. Never mind. And who knows, I might lose some weight.

I do wonder how manufacturers arrive at their sizing guidelines though. I think that size 16 is now the average in the UK - so how does that equate to XL or XXL?

It might be worth mentioning that my computer has been behaving rather oddly over the last few days. I have had 'the blue screen of death' twice, without warning. Absolutely no idea why, either. It's a relatively new desktop (albeit a very cheap one) running Windows XP, and it is used pretty exclusively for blog browsing (and writing), email, and a bit of eBay and other internet shopping. No sinister downloads here. All rather puzzling. However after a restart each time, all seems to be well. I just hope it is not some sort of ominous signal that the entire thing is about to collapse on me.

And now I shall go and knit some more on this wretched sock.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Just some comments

I'd like to respond to some recent comments. I do read them all, but Blogger very inconveniently doesn't give me an email address so that I can respond directly. At least, if it does, then I haven't discovered it yet....

Jess, I've been meaning to say a little more about the Tartan Scarf. You're finding that the loops on either side of the vertical stripes are bigger than they should be. Whilst you're working, the first stitch in the Kidsilk Haze section does tend to be a little larger than the others, simply because of the fact that it is right next to the taller, thicker stitch made with KSH plus Tapestry. The KSH section wants to pull in, and those stitches on each side tend to look distorted - but blocking evens it all out quite wonderfully. So, not to worry.

Actually, I didn't really block mine in the usual meaning of the word. I resorted to the steam iron, as I almost invariably do. The KSH sections fluff up again afterwards quite beautifully if you rub them up with the remaining KSH in the skein - but if you don't actually flatten them, then you don't even need to do this.


And - Heather? - I love the idea of theoretical Christmas knitting. The trick, I think, would be never to actually start it at all. Then it could simply roll over from year to year, and never actually take up any precious knitting time whatsoever. Maybe we should cultivate this idea - it has distinct possibilities!

Although right now I do wish these four-and-a-half remaining socks were a bit less theoretical and a bit more finished.

And yes, this is still sock avoidance........

I hate socks

Right now I do, anyway.

Heather is absolutely right, socks are indeed other-thing-avoidance. But the converse of this is that if you are knitting socks non-stop because you really need just to get them done, then you cannot knit anything else.

And that is the situation I am in at the moment. You know how it goes, I always want what I can't have. So right now I want to knit just about anything but socks.

I am working on them, truly I am - they won't get finished if I don't - but without much enthusiasm. I am not feeling quite so unwell now - this is definitely something flu-related, we have both got it - and yesterday I did actually knit half a sock. That means four and a half socks to go.

I can tell you one thing, next year I will not be knitting so many socks for Christmas gifts. I haven't had nearly so many requests in previous years, and this year I am definitely over-committed. It isn't that I don't have time to do them, it is just that I have had enough of socks right now.... I think that maybe I need to teach people to knit, instead of giving them socks.

I still very much like the idea of finishing what I have on the needles by the end of the year - specifically Milli and Kauni. Ruffles and Birch don't seem like quite so much of a problem.

But I haven't forgotten my Twelve Sweaters. I really want to be getting on with Benedikta, this would be such fun to make. And I want the Cobblestone Pullover to be finished, because I want to wear it. The Cornish Knit Frock has already replaced Jamesey - and I've got Sally Melville's Simple Cardi waiting in the wings, and the Trapeze tank, also the Aimee Pull, and Wild Apples is high on the waiting list as well..... and there might just be something in Dream in Color's worsted weight yarn Classy, as well. And it might just be in Black Parade.......

Actually that is Seventeen Sweaters now. Maybe I should put it in the sidebar, then I can keep playing with it. You know, thinking about knitting - and writing about knitting- is almost as much fun as actually knitting.

And they both constitute sock avoidance, definitely.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Tuesday

It would appear that this is rather more than a cold. I hesitate to call it flu, but I do have my suspicions. I have knit no more one or two rounds on a sock, which is probably quite a good indicator of how I am feeling. Surely it cannot last much longer, though.


A random thought here - regarding joining in the round, as at the beginning of a top down sock. I like long tail cast on in almost every situation, and for years I have been starting it with a slip knot, without ever really thinking about it. Recently I tried it without the slip knot - just a twisted loop at the beginning - and my goodness, what an improvement at the top of a sock

I've tried lots of methods of joining in the round. Working a couple of stitches with both the yarn tail and the working yarn held together, and crossing over the last and first stitches cast on - these are probably my favourite methods. Sometimes I've used both of them together. But the join has never looked as good as I would like.

Well, I think I have it sorted now. Long tail cast on, with no slip knot, just a twisted loop to start. Bring the first stitch cast on across to the RH needle, take the last stitch cast on over the top of the first stitch, across to the LH needle. And that is all. Knit on.


I still haven't heard anything more about the job interview. I am really on tenterhooks about this. On the one hand, it is good that they aren't calling me in for an interview right now because I certainly am not feeling very well. On the other hand, I really want the position....


It did take a degree of consideration, actually, thinking about returning to work. I've effectively been retired now for four years. I stopped work back in 2003 when I had a period of ill health following a broken ankle that didn't want to mend - I had a PE, and it put me completely out of action pretty effectively for a good while. But now I can think about a return to work, you see.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Monday morning

With just a month to go until Christmas, I have realised that I only have five more socks to knit. That's socks, not pairs of socks, I hasten to add.

Plus, I have two sock designs in my head, and no time to work them until I have the gift socks done. Most frustrating.

Anyway, yesterday I finished the first of a pair of crew socks, and now I have the urge to start another pair, which will not be crew socks. I have had my fill of 2x2 ribbing for a while. I am not worried about Second Sock Syndrome, it has never threatened me yet. And yes, I know there is always a first time.

I have done remarkably little knitting over the weekend, although I have been spinning some more of the Fleece Artist Pinata. Spinning has me hooked again, definitely. I think this is because of going to spinning guild last weekend, spinning is such a social activity and I do love watching and learning from other people.

However I really must buckle down and get these socks done.

I seem to have a bad cold on the way, unfortunately. This is not the best timing, as I have a job interview soon - at least, I very much hope that I do. I am really, really keen to get this position. I don't want to say any more in case it doesn't materialise......

Friday, 23 November 2007

Friday morning

Just a short post this morning, we're off to visit my mother down on the south coast.

I've been knitting a lot less than usual this week, and the blame can be set squarely on Richard Rutt's excellent book 'A History of Handknitting'. I was able to borrow this from the library at the spinning guild, and I keep picking it up and getting hooked.

Did you know that in Great Yarmouth in 1605 the assembly agreed that 'all knitters which do wander knitting in the street shall be taken ... and immediately shall be carried to Bridewell (jail)'....?

So knitting in public did not meet with approval!

And I've been looking at a detailed photgraph of the 'waistcoat' - actually a long sleeved shirt - that Charles I wore at his execution. This is worked with complex plain and purl patterns at a gauge of 8 1/2 stitches to the centimetre - nearly 22 stitches to the inch. It is worked in the round from the bottom edge upwards, the shoulders are grafted, and the sleeves are also working in the round, and seamed into the armholes.

There is a copy of the oldest recorded English knitting pattern, as well. 'The order how to knit a hose' was published in a medical compendium printed in London in 1655. Richard Rutt tells us the the original was printed as a single sentence, punctuated erratically, which made it very hard to understand. He has set it out into sentences and paragraphs, thankfully. And it is all there. He has even charted out the pattern for the triangular plain and purl patterned clocks.

Interestingly, the heel wasn't actually turned. Instead it was made by working a heel flap, and then folding the heel flap in half and working a three needle bind off, so there was a short seam under the heel. This can't have been exactly comfortable.

Anyway, if you want to knit an exact copy of a seventeenth century sock, this is where to look for your pattern.


With regard to my own knitting, I have worked a little on Birch, but very little else. I seem to need a pause at the moment. However I do still have some socks to make as gifts, and I really should be getting on with those. Maybe over the weekend, I absolutely don't want a last minute rush. I should be ok though - there are, what - 31 knitting days left, not counting today. And if I put my mind to it, I can work a sock in a day - although, let us be honest here, I rarely do put my mind to it.

Mind you, in the seventeeth century a good hand knitter could produce six pairs a week, according to Richard Rutt. Now that is food for thought.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Tartan Scarf

This piece of gorgeousness is the Tartan Scarf from Rowan 42.

As you can see, I picked the blue colourway, so this is Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Hurricane, with Rowan Tapestry in Lakeland (for the vertical stripes) and Moorland (for the horizontal ones.)

It wasn't exactly easy seeing the scarf in the magazine - here - so this was something of a leap of faith, but I wasn't disappointed.

Really, it is lovely. It is a fun knit, and pretty quick too. I'd say that it took no more than two evenings actually sitting down and working on it. I only needed the second skein of KSH for the fringe, so if I hadn't made the scarf a little longer than the pattern said, then it is quite possible that I could have managed with just one skein.

A success, I think.

I have in mind to make another in earth tones, as well - but that won't be in NOvember. Yes, I am still holding on with this. I still cannot face another sock just yet, so I may pick up the Kauni Cardi again, or possibly Milli.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Marathon

I almost forgot - I finally finished the Foggy Socks, aka the Really Large Socks or the Marathon Socks. They don't look wildly inspiring, but hopefully their intended recipient will be pleased with them.


My husband likes the look of the way the leg is worked, and has asked for his next pair to be made in the same way. I am less enthusiastic, as k2 p2 rib is slower than stocking stitch, but I expect I will do it anyway.

So - these are men's crew socks, made with three skeins of Angel Yarns sock yarn, colourway Foggy, and 2.5mm needles.

This is a variation on my basic pattern. These fit men's UK shoe size 12 - 13, and I cast on 72 stitches. I use 64 stitches for sizes 8 - 10.

The leg is worked in k2 p2 ribbing for 80 rounds, then 10 rounds stocking stitch, before a straightforward heel flap and heel turn worked over 36 stitches. The toe shaping is started after 74 rounds have been worked after the pickup along the sides of the heel flap, and it takes 30 rounds.

Decrease rounds are worked at rounds 1, 5, 8, 11 and then on alternate rounds until there are 8 stitches on each needle, or 32 in total if you aren't using dpns. One round plain, then decrease on every round until just 8 stitches are left in total, and graft as for the basic socks.

I've finished the Tartan Scarf from Rowan 42, by the way, and it is just so pretty. I still have to block it - ok, more like wave the steam iron at it - and then I'll put up a picture.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Tuesday morning

Not a lot of time today, unexpected lunch guests arriving soon.

The Navajo plied handspun is good. Soft, springy and bouncy in a way that the 2 ply just wasn't - and something close to sock weight. I also love the fact that you only have to spin up one bobbin of singles, and then you can ply immediately.

My plying is still pretty horrible, but I know what I need to do about it - practice. Also, this method is a lot less forgiving of unevenness in the single. Thin sections get plied together, and stay thin - thick sections ditto. With the two ply, a thin section was just as likely to end up being plied with a thicker section, and things balanced out. Solution there is to spin a more even single of course.....

Nevertheless, I prefer the three ply. It is just a nicer yarn.

Here it is on the right, with the two ply on the left. I think I will be making more of this, and then I will see what it looks like knitted up. Maybe a Forest Canopy Shawl would be a possibility.

Monday, 19 November 2007

In which I cook my handspun

I had a very fibre-y weekend, actually.

On Saturday I went to a meeting of the Wiltshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers . I've been meaning to get around to this ever since we moved down here to Wiltshire some months ago, and finally I managed to get myself there. First there was the AGM, and then an informal spinning afternoon, which I really enjoyed.

My spinning output so far is really quite pitiful - one small skein of natural Blue Faced Leicester from the spindle -

This was the usual moderately lumpy 'first yarn', plied using handy plying.

And then from the wheel, first, one very small skein of natural BFL plied with dark green merino - (the blue is a little bit of merino/silk that someone gave me to play around with, I found it really difficult to draft) -


and then another small skein of two ply BFL from Fleece Artist, colourway Pinata, 35 grams, 275 metres.

That would work out something approaching laceweight, I suppose, as 100 grams would correspond to about 785 metres.

This is literally all the spinning that I have ever done.

I don't actually like the two ply Fleece Artist at all. I know that it looks moderately pretty here, but in real life the colours don't merge pleasantly, and although the plying hides a multitude of sins with regard to unevenness in the single, I still don't find the finished result appealing.

Anyway, I had one and a bit bobbins of that same single from the Fleece Artist Pinata which have been sitting on the Kate for a while now, and I haven't felt much enthusiasm for working on it any more. So, I thought I would play around with Navajo plying for a bit, and see how it worked for me, the idea being that at least it would free up a bobbin fairly quickly.

I haven't tried this before - well obviously not, you've seen the sum total of my spinning. Anyway, Navajo plying is a method of producing a three ply yarn from a single strand. Basically, you chain it, just like a crochet chain, with links as long as you like - and put twist in as you go.

I found this went very smoothly, which was a pleasant surprise. It is easy to get into a good rhythm, counting the treadles and drawing out the links in the chain one after another. I worked with links about 15" or 18" long (40 - 45 cm I suppose) and it went really fast, so that on Saturday afternoon I managed to get the whole bobbin plied up, and then I skeined it up on the niddy noddy.

I didn't mention the niddy noddy, did I? I bought that on Saturday too, at the guild meeting, a complete bargain at £2.50. And it is adjustable, too!

Anyway, much to my surprise, I rather like this as a three ply. The colours are kept clearer and more distinct working like this, and the whole thing looks much better. It doesn't look nearly so blue as in this picture though. I wish that it did, I still don't really love the green, it is a bit overwhelming.

By the way, this weighs 40 grams, and it is a bit more than 180 metres long. So, something close to sock weight, I think. It would have 450 metres to 100 grams.

Next step, setting the twist. This stuff had been sitting on the bobbin for so long that it had effectively lost all its twist energy, so I wanted to do something to set it once it was plied.

Pan of warm water, drop of Fairy liquid, lay the skein on the top of the water and let it gradually absorb the water and sink - and then put it on a low heat. It was at this point that my husband looked into the kitchen and asked if I was going to fry it, boil it, or poach it. Heh. Well, none of those, actually.


I did this before with the Fleece Artist 2 ply, and it is what Patricia Gibson Roberts recommends in 'Spinning in the Old Way'. What you do is bring it very very slowly up to the gentlest simmer imaginable. And very important - no stirring, no prodding. Just leave it completely alone. This is the difficult bit, actually.

For a woollen spun yarn, you turn the heat off immediately it reaches a simmer and then you let the whole lot cool to a manageable temperature - for a worsted spun yarn you keep it at the gentle simmer for ten minutes, then let it cool. For this yarn, which is semi worsted I suppose - it certainly isn't woollen spun - I kept it at the simmer for just 5 minutes, and then let it cool.

After that, into the sink for a careful but thorough rinse in warm water - no letting the water run onto the yarn, and no temperature shocks, of course! - and then another rinse with just a little bit of fabric conditioner in the water.

Then into a mesh bag and spin in the washing machine. This feels just so wrong, and I didn't do this step last time with the 2 ply. But I decided to have courage and trust Ms Gibson Roberts, who does know what she's talking about, after all. So, spin cycle in the machine, in a mesh bag to keep it all together. Then take it out of the bag, crack the skein like a whip several times, put it around both hands and snap it several times, move the skein round a bit and snap it some more - and hang it to dry.

That's where it is at the moment. More when it's dry!



And I've been swatching with the Pakucho Cotton, as well. I actually knit a swatch, you know. I feel quite proud of myself, really I do. Then I put it in the washing machine with a pair of jeans, and then into the tumble dryer, still with the jeans. And that's where it is at the moment, as well. So, once again, more when it's dry!

Friday, 16 November 2007

In which I demonstrate exactly how fickle I am

Talking about my Twelve Sweaters - well, I did say that things were subject to change, and it would appear that I meant it, because it has only stayed intact for one day. But really, it isn't my fault. I've just received my copy of Indigo Knits , you see.

This is a truly excellent book, and I am looking forward to sitting down and reading it through thoroughly. Some of the patterns are old classics which I remember from years ago, and I am very glad to see them again. Some of them are new and equally excellent - a whole lot of very wearable things in this book, all written for my absolute favourite yarn.

One of the old classics is the Cornish Knit Frock.


And now that I've seen this - well, pattern number 7 on the list, Jamesey, is simply not going to happen, excellent though it is, because I am going to use the Pakucho Cotton for the Cornish Knit Frock instead.

I shall have to do a little swatching to check the shrinkage, because that isn't going to be quite the same as a denim yarn - rather less, I believe. But even the prospect of actually having to wash and dry a swatch, let alone knitting one in the first place - even that isn't going to put me off.

An excellent pattern, this one - I've been watching with interest as Kay has progressed with hers, which is now finished - you can see it here. Mine will be rather different in the Pakucho, of course. This stuff still shrinks in the wash, of course, but the colour intensifies with washing and wearing, rather than fading. I'm looking forward to seeing how this works out.

And then, Whitby.


At some point. Let us not get ahead of ourselves - I do have a fair amount to be getting on with, after all. But soon.

I can't tell you how pleased I was to see this pattern in the book. You see, I had one of these lovely sweaters many years ago, from the Artwork ready-to-wear line - and it got lost. I remember being pretty annoyed when I realised that I didn't seem to have it any more, but I had no idea where (or even precisely when) it had gone astray. Anyway, now I can make another one of my very own. And when I can make my mind up which sweater to take out of the list, then Whitby is going in. Maybe I need a list of things waiting to go on the list.

But really, I love this sweater, it is just so beautifully balanced. The Artwork Whitby that I lost years ago had two pockets, and I will be considering that as an amendment to the pattern. Or maybe not - it might not be an improvement - needs thought.

And very possibly there will be the Pirate Stripe Guernsey, too.


That is on the mental waiting list as well. Let no-one say that I am not optimistic, even if I am fickle.



I am still working on the Marathon Socks (aka Foggy socks) and I'm not going to inflict a picture on you. I will just say that I would have been looking to finish these today if I hadn't made a daft mistake yesterday, which meant that there was frogging. I'm reknitting, and today or tomorrow will see these finished.

I do want them done - the Kauni Rainbow is calling........

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Something good

It is especially nice when something totally unexpected - and good - happens.

We've just heard that our lad, who had a burglary recently, has had one of his stolen bikes returned to him. This afternoon one of his friends saw it being ridden around and gave chase - basically, as he caught up with the bike and rider, the chap dropped the bike and ran.

This bike was pretty much irreplaceable, as he built it himself.

We are really pleased. It would be better still if the thieves had been caught of course - but that may yet happen.

Really, excellent news.

Twelve sweaters

  1. First it absolutely has to be the Simple Pie Vest for my husband (scroll down in that link). Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran, from the discount basket at Fabric Magic. Pattern from Peace Fleece, heavily amended by me, as my husband has a 48" chest and the pattern doesn't go up that big.
  2. Cobblestone Pullover, in Rowan All Seasons Cotton. Pattern by Jared Flood, IK Fall 07.
  3. Mr Greenjeans, in grey Louisa Harding Kashmir Aran.
  4. Marble, by Kaffe Fassett. Lots of colours of Rowan 4 ply cotton. Pattern in Rowan 41. To be altered by me, as I don't want all those buttons up the sides and along the shoulders.
  5. Kinsale, by Alice Starmore - Elann's Peruvian Baby Silk, in Moroccan Olive.
  6. Bohus Grey Mist, by Kerstin Olsson, in fine hand-dyed angora/merino. Click on 'Nyheter' at the top and scroll down. I'm going to make the version with the folded down neckband, and I'm going to put hems at the cuffs and lower edge instead of ribbing.
  7. Jamesey - Pakucho Cotton in cafe, from Elann. I still cannot decide which size to make. I may make some amendments to the pattern to create a size in between, which would hopefully fit me rather better. Or not. More thought required.
  8. Cora Pullover - (top row, centre) Mission Falls cotton, colour as yet undecided - possibly sand, possibly oyster.
  9. Thrift - (scroll down a bit in that link) - Rowan Handknit Cotton - pattern in Rowan 27
  10. Earnshaw - Noro Kochoran 31.
  11. Benedikta - Silk Garden Lite, five different colours. Pattern in Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton's book Wanderlust. This one has to be soon, I am crazy about it.
  12. Cape Cod, by Alice Starmore, in Rowan 4 ply cotton. Pattern in her book Fisherman's Sweaters - cannot find a picture for this.

Order as yet undecided. And needless to say, it is all subject to change. And I've just realised that I've forgotten the Simple Cardigan, from Sally Melville's The Purl Stitch. I've been thinking about that one for so long that it almost feels as if it is finished and sitting in the cupboard. Virtual knitting, heh.

We will not discuss the wish I have to knit Aimee Pull from Mission Falls Recollection (top left, and on the cover). Nor will we mention the completely unreasonable desire for Wild Apples (click on Nyheter and scroll down) particularly in view of the fact that I haven't even cast on for Grey Mist yet. Nor will we mention the fact that I really, really want to make Helen Hamann's Trapeze Tank (click on 'view larger image' under the little picture) before Christmas - looks like that isn't going to happen.

Plus I have promised to make two more pullovers for my husband.

Darn. I don't just need more hours in the day, I need more months in the year.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Favourite socks

I really ought to think of a classier name for this - but this is indeed my favourite sock pattern, arrived at by trial and error over numerous pairs of socks, and it is the pattern that I invariably use for my husband's socks. It fits me too, if I change the needle size, which is very convenient.

We all have our own sock patterns, I am sure. With regard to mine, I don't think I've ever actually written it all out before. In my knitting notebook it is a few lines and some numbers, with a fair amount of crossing out and different things put instead. Anyway, here it is. It works for me.

You need 100 grams of sock yarn - Opal, Regia, Trekking XXL (shown above) or possibly Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. Below you can see these socks made in Opal Hundertwasser, Meilenweit Cotton Fantasy, Regia's Kaffe Fassett design line, and finally Regia Banner.

Something like Cherry Tree Hill Supersock is rather thicker, as is Koigu, and you'd need to adjust the stitch count and/or the needle size, depending on your tension.

To fit womens UK shoe size 6 (men's UK shoe size 9) - easily adjusted for women's size 5 or 7, or for men's size 8 or 10.

Needle size 2.25mm (2.5mm) - dpns, two circs, or magic loop as you please. I like dpns, but if you don't, that's fine too.

Tension 8sts and 11 rds = 1" (7.5sts and 10 rds). Do check this - if your tension is different, then the finished sock won't be the same size as mine.

For instructions on working in the round - look here - small diameter circular knitting is what you want. And for instructions on grafting, aka Kitchener stitch - look here. For weaving in ends - this is what you want.


Cast on 64 sts. Join for working in the round, taking care not to twist the cast-on. I use a set of 5 dpns, with 16 sts on each of 4 needles.
Work 20 rounds k1 p1 rib.
Work 60 rounds stocking stitch.

Work a heel flap over the first 32 stitches - that would be the first two needles - using heel stitch.
Row 1: (slip1, knit 1) across. Turn.
Row 2: slip 1, purl to end. Turn.
Repeat these two rows until you have worked 32 rows in the heel flap.

Turn the heel in whatever way you like best - or use this method -
Slip1, k17, ssk, k1, turn
Slip 1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn
Slip 1, k across to one stitch before the gap, ssk using the next stitch and the first stitch on the other side of the gap, k1, turn
Slip 1, p across to one stitch before the gap, p2tog with the next stitch and the first stitch on the other side of the gap, p1, turn
Continue like this until you have used up all the stitches across the top of the heel flap. On the last two rows you will not have enough stitches to work one stitch plain after the decrease - finish the k row with k2tog (not ssk) and finish the purl row with p2tog tbl.
Turn so that the right side of the work is facing ready for the next row - 18 sts left across the top of the heel flap.

Slip 1, knit all the way across the heel flap.
Pick up one stitch in each slipped stitch along the left hand side of the heel flap, and work these stitches through the back loop to twist them - 16 sts. I pick up the back loop of the slipped stitch, you may like to pick up the front loop, or both loops. In my opinion, picking up the back loop is preferable as it gives a smooth finish on the inside of the sock, with no ridge. But whatever suits you is fine, of course.
I always seem to want to pick up an extra stitch at the bottom as well, so that would make 17.
At the beginning of the instep stitches pick up one stitch right in the corner between the heel flap and the instep stitches - again, work this through the back loop - and then carry on across the 32 instep stitches. Pick up another stitch in the corner on the other side, work it thru the back loop as before.
Now pick up one stitch in each slipped stitch along the right hand edge of the heel flap, working them thru the back loop as before - I always pick up another one at the top - and continue to the middle of the heel - 9 more stitches.
This point - the middle of the heel flap - is now the beginning of the round.


Work one round to confirm the stitches. Lose the extra corner stitches on this round - I work k2tog at the beginning of the instep stitches, and ssk at the end, taking together the corner stitch and the end stitch of the instep each time. This bring the instep stitches back to 32.

Now work the gusset.
On the next round, work to three stitches from the end of the first needle, and then k2tog, k1.
Work straight across the 32 instep stitches and then work k1, ssk at the beginning of the fourth needle.
Work one round plain.
Alternate these two rounds until your stitch count is back to 64 again.


Now work the foot - plain stocking stitch, until a total of 68 rounds have been worked since the pick-up along the side of the heel flap. This fits the sizes given above - you can adjust for a women's size 5 or 7 by working 4 rounds less or 4 rounds more, and for a men's size 8 or 10 in the same way.

Now shape the toe - this is a graduated wedge toe.

Round 1: This is the decrease round. Work to three stitches before the end of needle 1 then k2tog, k1
At the beginning of needle 2, work k1, ssk.
Work to three stitches before the end of needle 3, k2tog, k1.
At the beginning of needle 4, work k1, ssk.
Rounds 2, 3, & 4: work plain. 15 sts on each needle, 60 in total.

Round 5: as Round 1
Rounds 6 & 7: work plain. 14 sts on each needle, 56 in total.

Round 8: as Round 1
Rounds 9 & 10: work plain. 13 sts on each needle, 52 in total.

Round 11: as Round 1
Round 12: work plain. 12 sts on each needle, 48 in total.

Alternate these two rows until you have 10 stitches on each needle - 40 in total. Work one more round plain - 16 rounds since you started the toe shaping.

Now work every round as Round 1 until there are just 2 sts left on each needle - 8 in total. 24 rounds since you started the toe shaping.

Slip the sts from needles 1 and 2 onto the same needle, and the sts from needles 3 and 4 onto another.

Graft these stitches together - 4 from each side of the sock, so that it looks as if there is a continuous band of 4 stitches running all the way around the sides of the toe shaping. Note that many sock patterns graft stitches from the top of the foot to stitches from the sole of the foot - this is different. You want side-to-side here. I know it sounds unlikely, but it works really well.

Weave in ends - and you're done.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Motivation

Look what arrived in the post this morning.


These work. Really, they work perfectly. I love the juxtaposition of the circles of the buttons and the squares of the fabric, and the colours are perfect. The yellow looks brighter in my photo, but in real life it doesn't stand out like this.

Now all I need is to finish the cardigan so that I can add these perfect buttons and wear the thing. It is always motivating when you find the finishing touch that is going to be needed.

And speaking of motivation, I've been looking through my list of finished projects for this year, and I notice that I have hardly made any sweaters. There has only been the top down raglan, which I wear so much that it feels like I've had it forever; the GGH Illusion pullover; Jessie; and Flicca of course. Plenty of hats, scarves, mitts and socks - ok, lots of socks - but just four sweaters.

Apparently I have turned into a 'small project' knitter.

Now, it is not as though I don't wear my handknits, what there are of them - I wear them all the time. And it is not as though my queue on Ravelry (I do love Ravelry) is full of small projects either - it is full of pullovers and cardigans. And lace of course, but that's another problem.

Anyway, I think this has to change. I need to knit more sweaters.

It has crossed my mind that next year I could perhaps aim to finish a sweater every month. I am sure there has been something like this in blogland before, in fact there probably is right now, if I only knew where.

I will aim to finish the garments that I have in progress by the end of this year. Actually that shouldn't be too impossible. I have nearly finished the Christmas knitting - these Foggy Socks should be called Marathon Socks, by the way. They are half as big again as most socks that I make, so it shouldn't be altogether surprising that they are taking half as long again. After these, just two more pairs and it is all done.

Once these are out of the way, then I can finish up the Key West pullover, the Kauni Rainbow cardigan, and Milli. Just like that. Hmmm.... well it's a good thought. I can at least try.

And in the meantime I can plan a list of twelve sweaters to make next year. Now that is motivating as well.

Twelve sweaters. What shall I pick?

Monday, 12 November 2007

A blast from the past ....

Ok, from out of the wardrobe actually. Or possibly out of the dark ages.

I've been having a look through my cupboards to find some more projects to put up on Ravelry, and I found this.



This is possibly the oldest of my handknits that I still own, and it is probably my all time favourite handknit, as well. I made it some time in the early 80's I think. Goodness, 25 years ago. And I still wear it when I feel like it.

The pattern came from the Sunday Times, and it was a free handout - called something like 'Gallic Jersey', if memory serves me correctly. They used to feature handknitting patterns fairly regularly - this is back in the days of Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin, so yes, early 80's definitely sounds right. This was an accompaniment to an article about traditional ganseys, and you had to write in to the newspaper and then they sent you a copy of the pattern. This was a fairly grubby photocopy of the pattern, which was simply typed out in the most basic way possible. Very difficult to read, actually, and full of errors - that I do recall. It would have been so much easier if the pattern had been charted, but that was pretty much unheard of, back then.


The pattern was written for working flat. The article described how ganseys were worked all-in-one, I remember that clearly - and there was a fair amount of discussion about the textured knit-and-purl traditional patterns and their supposed meaning - and then the accompanying pattern was for a garment worked exactly the same way as almost every published knitting pattern back then - worked flat and seamed. It did have underarm gussets though. It was an interesting process seaming those and not ending up with an unwearably lumpy result, I can tell you.

The yarn was Twilley's Lyscordet - a very solid, dense cotton yarn, which was sold for crochet, and it was extremely hard on the hands to knit with, particularly when worked at the close gauge that this pattern demanded. However as recompense, it has worn like iron - this pullover is in incredibly good condition considering its age.

You can still buy this yarn. Lyscordet is described now as 100% mercerised cotton, but when I worked with it, it had some plies made with very sheeny mercerised cotton, and some with more matt cotton. This gave a depth to the colour, and surprisingly did not detract from the texture of the knitting.

A couple of years ago I overdyed it with black Dylon, and it worked very well. The original colour was powder blue, which has never really suited me. The sheeny plies have taken the dye much more than the matt bits, interestingly, and this has given a really beautiful result - it looks like a subtly variegated dark charcoal, with sheeny bits.

This did take me a while to knit, but it was worth it. I am sure it will last for another 25 years at the very least, and I am sure I will still be wearing it then - assuming I last that long myself.


On more up-to-date matters, the Foggy Socks are progressing.


This is the first time I've used this yarn actually - Angel Yarns own brand sock yarn, the colour is called Foggy. Nice soft hand to this yarn is the first thing that comes to mind, and the same thickness as Regia or Opal. The colour is true here - it is a neutral grey/green/fawn colour. Not blue at all, and much less bright than it looks on the yarn shop page. If this is fog colour, then it would be an old fashioned London fog. I might describe it as light khaki, possibly.

And if that looks like a jolly big sock to you, that would be because it is. The intended recipient has size 12 - 13 feet. I'm trying out a variation of my basic pattern for this one, and I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

More regarding NOvember

There has been a spectacular lack of reduction in the number of WIPs.

Yes, I did finish the picot hem tiger socks, and yes I did cast on for another pair, in another of my basic sock patterns - I think I will put some of those up here soon, by the way. But for NOvember - finishing a pair of socks doesn't count, you see. I'm allowed to have one pair of socks on the needles.

Overall I've had something of a rethink - it feels as if I was allowing myself too much leeway before. I started the month with no less than ten things on the needles, and I wanted to reduce this to five. At the moment I have seven things on the needles. I want to reduce this to four, and keep it at no more than that.

Now, I am allowing myself one small portable project (such as socks or a hat), one lace project or scarf, and two garment projects, only one of which may be for myself. And I have to get my Christmas knitting out of the way before I can cast on anything else whatsoever, that is only sensible.

So, I have one pair of gift socks on the needles, replacing the pair of gift socks that I have just finished, and that is fine, by the rules. I do want to get all the gift socks finished and cast on Lenore - (this is the Blue Moon Rockin' Sock Club pattern and yarn for October.) However it is quite possible that therein lies the problem. Heather, you have it precisely right, I believe. Socks are 'other-thing-avoidance'. I must stop knitting socks if I want to finish anything else.

Why have I only just realised this?

Friday, 9 November 2007

Friday evening

Well, I think that this morning's post might possibly have been the shortest ever - but truly I had no time. Lunch for five had to be produced from a standing start, with very little notice, not much in the fridge, and not enough time to get to the shops - so I had my hands full. I did have slightly more to say actually, just no time in which to write it all down.

I recently bought some back issues of Interweave Knits, and they were waiting for me when we got back after our long drive yesterday. They had a very nice offer where you buy any 4 back issues, and get a 5th one free, and fortuitously there were exactly 5 back issues which I didn't already have on the shelf.

It is always interesting looking back at patterns a few years old, and this is no exception. I did find several things that I might think of making - but I do notice that earlier issues seem to use more obscure yarns, which might be difficult to sub. I've got plenty to be getting on with at the moment, anyway.

The tiger picot socks will be finished later this evening, and I shall cast on for another pair straight away. And yes, that is allowed in NOvember. I can have one pair of socks on the needles, and if I finish this pair then I can cast on another. I must get on with the garments, though. Knitting more and more socks is evading the issue, and the Christmas knitting is all going to be done with time to spare, so really I must focus a little more. It would be good to finish the back of the Key West pullover this weekend, at the least.

On the subject of garments, I found some truly gorgeous buttons for the (still unfinished) Kauni cardigan - several sorts, actually. I had been wondering what on earth I could use with this extremely colourful garment - and yesterday evening I found it. There are literally all the colours of the rainbow in the Kauni cardigan, and also in the buttons, which you can see here. I have chosen the rainbow burst ones - I could easily have picked the colour wheel ones or the rainbow spiral, but somehow these feel right. I hope I have made the right decision.

Have you seen the Raven Clan colours on the Blue Moon website, by the way? Just incredible. I don't think there has been anything like this before.

I'm thinking of a wrap cardigan in Thraven Twisted. Or possibly a shawl in Haida Laci, or Ravenscroft Silkmo .... or possibly Shadow, maybe in Silk Thread. I've only ever tried Blue Moons sock yarns, but I hear excellent things about their other yarns as well. And there is Sheep 2 Shoe as well, if my spinning is up to it. That is such a good idea.

And did you know that there is going to be a book in January, as well? I am looking forward to that one, definitely.

Right, back to the socks. Once I have finished these, there are just three more pairs to go, and then I can cast on my Lenore socks. I wonder if I will get to that point before the end of the month? It is not impossible, just unlikely....

Friday morning

It's been quite a week. And it is going to be pretty busy today as well, unexpected lunch guests are arriving in a couple of hours.

Hopefully it will be quieter over the weekend. I doubt it somehow, maybe I am getting cynical in my old age......

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Sleep and coffee

Not enough of one and too much of the other, that is the problem at the moment.

Also, a lot of driving (ok, navigating) at interesting hours of the night, followed by plenty of much-needed talking, followed by sleeping on the sofa for not very many hours - which last is something that I haven't done for quite a few years - and being woken by Lucy wanting her breakfast, at exactly the usual time, of course.

I swear that dog has a clock in her tummy. Echoes of Captain Hook's crocodile, except considerably friendlier.

Never mind, all worth it.

I have been knitting as well, surprisingly - before and after the driving, and again this morning before the drive back. I'm working the heel of the second tiger picot sock, which should be finished tomorrow, all being well.

With regard to the Key West pullover, I have worked on it a little - enough to find out that I seem to be slightly astray in my row gauge. Swatches lie, as we all know - although I didn't exactly work a swatch, I just cast on, and measured after I had worked about 6 inches of fabric.

Anyway, I should be at the armhole shaping, according to my row count - except that I am not quite there yet, I need a couple more inches of fabric. I absolutely hate it when this happens - I like things to work out correctly with regard to gauge. It is extremely tempting to pull the fabric out to the 'right' size and pretend that the gauge is perfect - however I know that this will mean that the garment will be too short, and I won't wear it. So I must grit my teeth, and work a bit more length.

From the comments a couple of days ago - Lisa was wondering about recommendations for lacy toe-up socks. One designer immediately comes to mind here - Anna Bell - and two of her patterns. Elfine's socks is a pattern that I made a while ago, and was really pleased with - and Nautilus is one that I am looking forward to making sometime soon. Both are worked toe up, and both are lacy. Needless to say, both are extremely well written patterns.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Show and tell

I've picked up my knitting again - and it is not the Tartan Scarf, it is the Key West pullover. Just to recap - this is a Jaeger pattern for their Celeste yarn, by Martin Storey, and it came free with the yarn purchase a while ago from Elann. The colourway is called Dinghy. The pullover is a very simple shape - boxy, with full length sleeves and a boat neck. I am thinking of working three quarter length sleeves instead, but haven't yet decided definitely. I shall see how the yarn is going. I still don't like working on these large needles at all, but at least it will grow quickly.

The fabric is still lovely, drapy and stretchy with a lovely crisp texture to it, yet soft at the same time. I wonder how it will wash - well, I should hope. This is linen and viscose, so I don't anticipate any problems.

Also I have decided that if I am going to actually finish all these things that are on the needles, it was time that I acknowledged their existence rather more than I have done so far.

So - here is Birch. I did say that I haven't done very much of this - and as you can see, I meant it.

This is Rowan Kidsilk Haze, in Smoke, and I am working on 4.5mm needles rather than the recommended 5mm, as I have heard of people running out of yarn with this one. I only have three skeins, and I bought the yarn so long ago that there is absolutely no chance of matching the dyelot - so, 4.5mm needles. These are labelled Prym - they look and feel exactly like Inox Greys.

And here is Milli, making an appearance for the very first time in public.

I cannot imagine why Rowan discontinued this yarn - Magpie - it is really excellent stuff. I have never been a fan of colourwork like this - a mixture of fair isle and intarsia - but I very much like the look of the finished garment in the magazine. And that would be Rowan 20, in case anyone is interested in knowing.

I think that I'm about a third of the way up the front at the moment. The stripes, of course, go fast, and the intarsia rather less so. That's a hem at the bottom, by the way, with a purl row at the turn, to be sewn in place later on.

Once again, I remember why I started this project - it's the usual reason. I like it, and I will wear it. All I need to do now is actually keep picking it up and working on it....

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Calm, calm....

Ah yes, knitting.........

I have knit a little on the sock today, which isn't the most exciting news in the world. But I have had things on my mind, so you'll excuse me.

Which reminds me - my copy of VK Holiday 2007 arrived today. The VK website is still down (what are they doing to it?) so I cannot show you the picture of Alice Starmore's Oregon Autumn Cardigan which is in there. It is quite amazing. I have seen this cardigan before, many times, on the wonderful Virtual Yarns website - and it did not seem particularly amazing. I cannot think why. Perhaps it is simply seeing it in print? The colours are just stunning. This is now in my ever-increasing Ravelry queue, and not at the end, may I say.

By the way, I decided just to add things to the queue as I feel like it. The spreadsheet is still around, but I am removing lines from it as I add them to Ravelry - I don't need both, and Ravelry is much better.

Anyway - I can point you at the Oregon Autumn Cardigan here on Alice Starmore's website. It is just so beautiful - this picture doesn't do it justice by a long way. This lady is a genius with colour.

I've also got some nice colour cards for Mission Falls 1824 wool and cotton. These are excellent - you get a good amount of each colour, probably about a foot of it, wound (and stuck) around a card. It is certainly enough to get a proper impression of the colour, much better than a little fringe of half a dozen pieces each just an inch long. I am still thinking about Burma Rings - but I am also thinking of Cora (from Mission Falls Spirit, top row, in the middle) and Aimee Pull ( from Mission Falls Recollections, front cover and first picture).

Or possibly I am kidding myself. That queue is more than 60 items now, and there is a fair bit still to add.

More things knitting-related tomorrow, I promise.

And I haven't forgotten the request for more info on the garter stitch short row heel. In fact I'm wearing my Inside Out socks right now. I'll get to it soon....

Monday, 5 November 2007

Not a sock

It seems like ages since I finished something that wasn't a sock. Well, ok, there was a hat, but hats are so fast that they hardly count.

Here is the Swirly Scarf, rather oddly hanging in the window. It is still quite misty this morning and the light isn't going to get any better than this, I don't think.

This has turned out to be rather lovely.

Two skeins of Tess Dawson's Baby Alpaca 4 ply (in black, as you can see) plus some Kidsilk Haze in Trance, worked on 4.5mm and 5mm needles. The only variation from the pattern was to work four extra rows on each side. It has turned out about 8 inches wide and 54 inches long, and it is as soft, light, and drapy as you'd expect with this combination of yarns.

It is interesting how during the first half, 450 stitches seems interminable, and during the second half it becomes no problem at all. The casting off does take a while though, particularly working with Addis - rather easy for the left hand needle to simply fall through the stitches, but at least Kidsilk Haze isn't going anywhere when it is off the needle.

Also interestingly, I don't think I have ever had this many stitches on the needle before. The border on the second side includes the two ends, and so has rather more stitches than the first half - more than 1000.


I am still working on the picot tiger socks - I am working the toe shaping on the first sock. I think that once I have cast on for the second sock, I shall pick up one of the other scarves. Probably it will be the Tartan Scarf, I think.

It is going to be really difficult picking up the Key West pullover. That lovely linen tape is not what I want to be knitting at the moment, although it is beautiful stuff with a wonderful texture and an amazing drape.

What I really want to be knitting at the moment is something from the recent book 'Best of Interweave Knits' - Burma Rings (scroll down, it is right at the bottom). And I cannot even think about it until I've finished the Key West pullover and also the Milli Jacket, and probably the Kauni cardigan as well.

Right now, I am trying to think exactly why I agreed to do this NOvember thing.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Halfway

I have finally finished the marathon cast-off, and I am so pleased with the result that I am almost tempted to leave the Swirly Scarf like this.

However, I won't - not least because I want to see what it looks like with twice the width and twice the swirliness. So the next thing to do is to pick up along the cast-on edge. Then I have to work the second half, exactly the same as the first half.

Really, it is very pretty - soft and drapy.

Lovely warm weather this morning, to the extent that we've been having our coffee sitting outside, and it was almost too warm. It doesn't feel like November in the slightest.

Ravelry ate my knitting

Well, maybe Ravelry didn't actually eat my knitting, but it certainly ate my knitting time today.

It is just so easy to wander around looking here and there, following sidelines and picking up new ideas - it is like going to an absolutely huge knitting group and being able to look at what everyone is knitting, and what everyone is planning, and everyone's finished projects, all at the same time. Overload, very nearly.

I think I will just start adding the project queue bit by bit. It will make me think about what I actually have planned, that's for sure.

By the way, I don't know whether you may have noticed, but Bloglines seems to be doing some very strange things with this blog at the moment. Sometimes it picks up new posts, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it picks up old posts that I haven't been near since I first put them up, and says they are new posts.

I do not understand any of it, really I don't.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Friday morning

Actually I was expecting today to be Saturday. I spent the whole of yesterday (which of course was Thursday) thinking that it was Friday. This happens from time to time, of course - but not usually for a whole day. Anyway, this morning things are mentally back in the right place again, at least to the same extent that they usually are.

The Swirly Scarf is rolling along nicely. Here it is sitting in the sunshine looking rather bleached out - it really is going to be extremely pretty.

At the moment I am part way through casting off 900 stitches, and with Kidsilk Haze and Addi needles it is slow going indeed. The Addis are perfect for the rest of the scarf, but the KSH wants to slide right off them all the time, so I have to be careful. It is worth the time and effort though, it looks beautiful. My husband stopped and looked this morning, and commented that the edging looked like some sort of mist.....

After this cast-off is finished, then I shall be picking up along the cast-on edge and working the other half of the scarf in exactly the same way.

I had enough yarn in the first skein of Baby Alpaca 4ply to work just 4 extra rows - a single row takes something like 9 or 10 metres of yarn at that stage of the scarf. So it has added a little extra width, but not a lot. The garter stitch fabric is just lovely - extremely soft of course and interestingly textured.


The picot tiger socks haven't been picked up at all, I'm afraid, despite the best of intentions. Maybe I shall have to revise my acceptable number of WIPs downwards. We shall see, as NOvember progresses.


What else - Ravelry, which just gets better and better.

Yesterday evening I finally braved Flickr for the first time, and discovered that actually it is all extremely easy. I have uploaded what photos I have of my finished projects - not so many, as I really only started keeping any sort of record when I started this blog - and also of my works in progress. This is going to be even more useful than I had thought - I keep finding new features and getting sidetracked, though.

The areas where I have barely broken the surface, however, are the queue and the stash. The idea is that one photographs the stash, item by item, and notes all the details, number of skeins and so forth. And also that one itemises planned projects as well - this is the queue.

The problem however, is that I only buy yarn with a specific project in mind. So my not-insubtantial stash in its entirety is really one giant queue. I have had a spreadsheet for a while now which kept track of which yarn was intended for which project, and also identified where the pattern was to be found, ie in which Rowan magazine, or which issue of Interweave Knits - but recently I haven't kept it up to date.

But the number of lines in my spreadsheet - which roughly corresponds to the number of projects in the queue/stash of course - is something of the order of 150, excluding sock yarn. We will not speak about the sock yarn, there is quite a lot of it.

I simply do not think that I can face photographing all of this, not at the moment, anyway. So I believe that I will settle for adding things to the queue gradually, and only posting pictures when they reach that stage.

It would be worth the trouble if I ever did get round to doing the whole thing, though.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Starting as I mean to continue

I have finished the Iro Scarf. I love it.


This is about 6 1/2" wide and nearly 9' long. I can wind it around my neck twice and there are still good long ends - in fact I can drape it twice around my neck and still throw the ends over the opposite shoulder, if you know what I mean. Once around my neck, and both ends hang to my knees at the front - I'm just under 5' 4", if that's any help.

This took 2 and a bit skeins of Noro Iro in shade #47, because that's the amount I had left over from making my husband's pullover. It is very simple - 20 stitches on 8mm needles (US #11) and work in plain old garter stitch until the yarn runs out. If you only want to buy 2 skeins, but you still want a good long scarf, I suggest that you do as Jared did and cast on just 17 stitches.


The colours are stunning, subtle and beautiful.

I've also removed Lizard Ridge from the 'set aside' list. When I am ready to start again properly - which will not be just yet! - I have in mind instead something like this, which I think is absolutely beautiful. I've been looking thoughtfully at log cabin patterns for a while, and seeing this has completely made my mind up.

Lizard Ridge is just gorgeous. It is a work of art, truly - but I have been coming across comments about the fabric not being firm enough, to the extent that some people had decided to felt the whole thing, with absolutely stunning results, by the way. However I think that would just about kill my washing machine, so that wouldn't be happening. Also, sometimes people were not happy about the look of the reverse side, and were lining it.

This log cabin throw is almost reversible, as it is garter stitch - and the fabric will be firmer too, again because it is garter stitch. And I love garter stitch anyway. So the log cabin it will be - I shall consider what colour to use for the banding nearer the time.

Today I'm going to work some more on the Picot Tiger sock, and pick up the Swirly Scarf again. I am wondering if I shall be able to get either of these finished over the weekend. Once I've got the scarves under control, I shall pick up Key West or Kauni again.

I find that I'm looking forward to that.