Wednesday, 30 January 2008


I have just a suspicion that I am going to be rather busy over the next few days. The new season's yarns are being released very soon, as I'm sure you know, and I want to rearrange the yarnwall accordingly.

I shall be going into work excruciatingly early to get this done before the customers come into the shop - and I don't know if I will get it all done in one go, even so.

But I will certainly have fun trying!

I do enjoy the different things that the day at work brings me. Today within an hour, for instance, there was a new knitter looking longingly at one particular pattern using Biggy Print and wondering if they could possibly manage those big needles - and an experienced knitter putting together a rainbow of cotton yarns for a cardigan to their own design, mixing DK and 4 ply, with the 4 ply to be worked with two strands held together in different colour combinations.

This last was extremely fun, which sounds ungrammatical but is entirely true. It isn't until you get the yarns off the shelf and group them together that you get an idea of how they will work together. Adding a blue tone, maybe a soft green, trying different pinks to see which looks more interesting - I love this.

These two customers were at opposite ends of the spectrum, in terms of experience. One person just learning, following the pattern cautiously and carefully, watching every stitch - and one who has been knitting for many years and has the confidence to work alone, freestyle, if you will. And yet I know that both of their projects are going to be absolutely beautiful - and I love being part of the process.

On Thursday I will be doing some preliminary rearranging of yarns - well, as much as I can manage whilst helping customers. Later on in the day I have somebody coming in who wants some help with Fair Isle technique - and then at the end of the day there is the knitting group.

And so it goes - never two days the same. It's good, you know.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Two steps forward, one step back ....

Pia has had a bit of a setback.

Yesterday I had reached the armhole shaping when I stopped and looked long and hard at it - it seemed really very roomy indeed. I went and had a look around on Ravelry, and discovered that the unexpected roominess of this pattern has been noted by several people, and the general advice seemed to be - if in doubt, size down.

So I frogged, and started again.

I am now almost up to the armholes again. This time I am making the medium size, not the large, and I do think it is going to be ok. The pattern with the columns of eyelets makes a very stretchy fabric, you see.

And now I have to focus for a little while on the pretty knitting that I cannot show you just yet.....

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Finally some knitting!

I do have some knitting progress to show, even if it isn't very much. Here is Pia.

This is a Kim Hargreaves design, from Rowan 35, and it takes just 4 skeins of Rowan All Seasons Cotton for all but the very largest size. I'm using the yarn that was the free gift with my Rowan International subscriptions, and it is pleasant easy knitting.

I think I will carry on working on this today and tomorrow - I do want something different to wear to work. I've got an old pullover in RYC Natural Silk Aran to my own design, and also a pullover in Calmer, pattern from Rowan's book 'Classic Knits for Real Women' - but that's it, really. The Tartan Scarf gets in the way and is too warm for comfort indoors. I really would like some other options, and the yarn for Viv and Cordoba hasn't arrived yet. So I have plans for Pia to be worn with a tshirt and a skirt.

Here is the Cobblestone Pullover at the moment.

I will get on with this after Pia is done, I think. It has just occurred to me that I am actually knitting two separate projects in the same yarn, All Seasons Cotton. Well, it is one of my favourites, after all.

I am nowhere near as exhausted as I was this time last week. I think that maybe I am getting used to it - this job is quite physically demanding. Yesterday the only time I managed to sit down was on my breaks, and I didn't manage to knit a single stitch on the shopfloor. It gets so busy! Coming into the yarn department it was really noticeable that that particular area was just full of people. This is good, after all - there is all this lovely yarn in the stockroom, and what we want to do is sell it to people.

There is some other knitting going on at the moment, but I can't show it to you just yet. Really pretty, though!

One other thing, not related to knitting. Since I went gluten free - on Wednesday, so that is just four days so far - I have lost six pounds in weight, without even trying. I'm feeling so much better in myself as well, and I haven't needed any meds at all. But this is very welcome, as I need to lose a good bit of weight. Six pounds in four days! - I wasn't expecting this at all.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Time flies

Friday seems to have come round very fast. The rhythm of my week has changed of course since I started work, and I am still finding the long drive tiring, particularly at the end of the day. When I leave work, my mind is buzzing - I come away energised and full of enthusiasm. By the time I reach home, I've come down from that point and I'm just tired.

Thursday at work went really well. It is beginning to feel like my own personal yarn store, which is a bit of a surprise to me actually. I find that I feel responsible for it - well, I am responsible for it! - the contents of the stockroom shelves are becoming more familiar, and I'm starting to be able to go straight to what I need, instead of hunting along the shelves.

Yesterday was the first meeting of the Weekly Knit Club that I am going to be running. We are having this in the yarn department sitting around the table there, and as we haven't got a lot of spare space, numbers have to be limited. At the moment this isn't exactly a problem, as there were just two of us there - a small and select group, you could say! But we did have a good time, we will do the same again next week, and hopefully more people will join us soon.

It was so nice to actually sit down and do some knitting. With all the tidying up and sorting out that I've had to do, I've almost lost sight of the knitting element. I really must try to make time each day just to sit and knit for a while.

Knitting - well, my Rowan knitting has been Birch. I am still right at the beginning of this, only a few repeats in so far, and a row does take a while. But it is looking beautiful, and I am remembering why I love knitting lace so much.

I have also cast on for Pia. This is a neat little singlet top by Kim Hargreaves from Rowan 35, and it takes just 4 skeins of All Seasons Cotton.

The yarn that I'm using for it was actually the free gift with Rowan International membership this year. The accompanying pattern was for a lacy wrap or waistcoat, and I had started working on the wrap. However I just didn't feel the love, as they say, and when I spotted Pia on Ravelry, the decision was made. I shall be able to wear this to work, over a tshirt. Very useful.

It does occur to me that I should have taken a picture before I frogged it.... never mind. I am a bad blogger with regard to things like that, I always seem to remember them afterwards.

Lenore remains sadly untouched. I shall be so far behind with the Blue Moon Sock Club that it is quite unspeakable - I still have to finish Lenore and Cat Bordhi's Salish Sea Socks from the 2007 club, and already the first shipment of the 2008 club is on its way. I think I may be beyond hope here, but I haven't given up yet.

Finally, I have started the first sleeve of the Cobblestone Pullover. I've finished the garter stitch border, and I am just about to begin the increases. These sleeves do seem to be quite wide at the cuff, to my mind. I could change this, but I am feeling lazy and I think I will just go with the pattern, for this time round at least.

Pictures of all this soon, I promise. Probably at the weekend. Which for me, starts on Sunday.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

It's just a label

This morning I finally had the coeliac test done, and now - thank goodness! - I can stop eating gluten.

Deliberately eating the stuff over the last three weeks has been interesting in that it has completely changed the way I think about some foods.

At the beginning, I was thinking that although I knew I would probably be rather uncomfortable, at least I would be able to enjoy some good bread, and some good pasta, and that would be some compensation. This idea did not last. Eating wheat rapidly began to feel like a burden, like carrying a heavy weight - and today I am very glad indeed to be able to leave it behind, as it really does not agree with me.

Whether this test comes back positive or negative, I'm not eating the stuff again. I don't care about whether this problem is identified as coeliac or just 'wheat doesn't agree with me' - the end result is the same. Actually that should be 'wheat and rye don't agree with me' - I don't know about barley, and oats seems to be alright sometimes.

Actually that's not entirely true - in a weird sort of way, I do hope the test comes back positive. We do seem to find it easier to deal with things if we can give them a name, a label, if we can identify them. But after all, giving a name to a condition doesn't change things, it is just a label.

And I am already starting to feel better.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Why getting up early is over-rated

This morning it was my intention to arrive at work two hours early, and get a fair bit of the yarn wall sorted out. I thought it might take me a bit longer, because there would probably be more traffic - maybe an hour instead of 45 minutes?

Not even close.

The journey actually took me one hour and 45 minutes. I should not have bothered to get up early. I should have stayed in bed and gone in at my usual time - I wasted a whole hour sitting in traffic.

I had a good day at work though. I am enjoying this job, although I can see that keeping the yarnwall in order is going to be rather like painting the Forth Bridge - no sooner have you finished than it is time to start again at the other end. Except with yarn involved of course, so I don't mind. And I don't think I've reached the halfway point on the yarnwall yet, let alone finished. But it is still fun.

One thing that happen as I am sorting out all the colours - ideas come to mind. When I'm sorting out a particular yarn, I take it all off the shelves and drop it into a wire basket - then I think about what I want where, to look good - and put it all back. And in all this mixing up and rearranging, it happens that I see a combination that really strikes me, and then I think of a pattern.

At one point this morning, I was sorting out the Rowan 4 ply soft, and Hanover came to mind. Goodness that picture is tiny - try this one. A little larger. Anyway, I think this would look brilliant worn with a little tshirt and some trousers, and I'm planning to recolour it..... current thoughts, Malachite for the main colour, with Sooty for the first contrast - this is somewhat softer than it looks here. This was the combination that I spotted, you see.

The pattern says Marine - (which is a whole lot darker in real life, really a very dark navy) but I think I like the softness of the grey, rather than the strong contrast of the navy blue, which looks quite hard.

I need two more contrasts. The pattern has Kidsilk Haze Liqueur - again, much much darker in real life, a deep dark red - and not for me, I don't think. The last contrast given in the pattern is Kidsilk Night Bronze, which I rather like, and might actually go with. I'm thinking probably Anthracite instead of Liqueur..... or maybe Smoke. Possibly Anthracite is too dark. Or maybe Hurricane would be better - that one really is a stunning colour.

On Thursday I'll have a look at them all together and make my mind up.

It is just so nice being able to actually see the colours in the skein. The shade cards are excellent of course, and I've managed with them for a good while now - but nothing quite compares to having the yarn right there.

Actual knitting content today - not a lot so far. I'm knitting this evening though, and plan to do more tomorrow.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Monday evening

I've done a bit of knitting this weekend - not a lot, but some at least.

The Cobblestone pullover is up to the armholes. At this point I put the underarm stitches onto a couple of bits of spare yarn, and carry on with the yoke - once I've made the sleeves. So that's next.

Lenore has progressed a little as well, I worked another inch or so whilst we were driving to and from Comet at Chippenham. This is a lovely straightforward pattern, the lace is practically mindless and that's just what I need right now.

We finally made up our minds that the old printer had had its day - it had been getting more than a bit temperamental about actually printing, you see, which really makes it something of a waste of space - and so we went out to buy a new one. Now we've got a shiny new laser printer which is all a bit of an unknown to us at the moment. However the set up was incredibly straightforward, we were expecting a two hour struggle with incomprehensible instructions. Not a bit of it, it was hardly more than just connecting it and telling the thing to install itself. All clever stuff. And it prints beautifully, as well.

What else - actually I've slept a whole lot - the tiredness really caught up with me.

And this evening we've discovered what seems to be the best local fish and chip shop around here, and had lovely fish and chips for supper. We think this is probably one of the best chip shops we've ever come across, it's taken us six months here to find it - and now I've got just about 36 hours left of eating gluten before I have the coeliac test thing.

Really rather annoying. There is gluten in the batter, you see, so almost certainly I won't be having fish and chips again after today. I've heard that there do exist fish and chip shops with a gluten free option, but we haven't found one of those yet. Well, at least I enjoyed our supper tonight.

But I won't really be sorry to lose gluten. It has been feeling - well, not good, recently. You don't want to know the details. Suffice it to say that I am looking forward to going gluten free again.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Weekend knitting and more

So, that was my first week.

I really enjoyed it, and I think this job is going to suit me well. The downside at the moment is the driving, which is very tiring and is taking substantially longer than I thought it would. But I do have in mind that this is the worst weather of the year (well hopefully it is!) and conditions will improve, and also that as I get more accustomed to it, it will feel easier.

At the moment I am also feeling a little overwhelmed with all the detail and the systems that I have to know - but once again, it will be easier once I get used to it.

Right now - certainly no regrets at all. I want to do this, and I do appreciate how lucky I am to have this opportunity come my way!

Now that it is Sunday, the weekend starts for me.

I've been knitting some more on the Cobblestone Pullover, which is nearly up to the armholes.

Rowan All Seasons Cotton really is one of my most favourite yarns. I always like cross-season yarns - Rowan's Wool Cotton is another one. But All Seasons Cotton is what I'm using here. At 4.5 stitches to the inch it makes a beautiful fabric - smooth, solid, and with a really excellent drape which is much better than you might expect in an Aran weight cotton-based yarn. I am expecting the Cobblestone to be one of my most worn garments - when I get it finished. Just about three more inches to the armholes, now.

Lenore hasn't progressed at all - literally, not one stitch. But I've put this in my handbag now, and when I get a bit of spare time in my break at work then I will be knitting on this again.

I am thinking of starting another sock this weekend. I have Birch in my knitting bag at work, and I did actually manage to work about a third of a row on this yesterday. But it is not ideal for taking to work, because I don't get much knitting time at all on the shopfloor, and it is not really a good idea to keep putting lace in Kidsilk Haze down in mid-row. I dropped some stitches yesterday, doing this. Fortunately KSH is very well mannered in that respect, and the stitches just sit there waiting for you to realise that you've dropped them, and pick them up again - so no harm done. But I think that maybe I should be working on something more straightforward, that demands less of my attention.

So, a sock comes to mind. I will be making it to fit my husband, who needs some new socks, and it will be worked in one of Kaffe Fassett's Regia yarns, using one of Cat Bordhi's new sock construction techniques. More on this later.

It is about time I said some more about Cat Bordhi's excellent book. To be honest that is going to be hard to do in any detail - there is just so much in this book. New Pathways for Sock Knitters, says the title - and that is exactly what it is. New ways of working socks. And pretty brilliant ways, at that. Cat Bordhi has reinvented the wheel here, in sock knitting terms. I must admit, I am rather blown away with it all, and I immediately want to cast on about ten of the sock patterns.

I remember clearly when I first came across Patricia Gibson-Roberts' yarnover method for short rows - and I had one of those 'aha!' moments. You know, when you find something brilliant, which is totally obvious once it has been pointed out, so good that it is hard to believe that it hasn't been in use for years.

Well, reading this book, I've had about eight of those - including another short row method. You know I don't really like using wraps? - well, I think that has just changed. This book is just brilliant. Cat Bordhi is a specialist in thinking outside the box, and my goodness it shows.

It is not a book for sock beginners. It is not really a book for the 'blind follower', either. But if you have reached the point where you are basically comfortable with knitting socks, if you can 'read' your knitting, and you like to understand what you are doing, and why you are doing it - then this book is for you.

We still have a fairly substantial lake at the back of the house, by the way.

However the causeway across from the mill remains clear, and although there is still quite a lot of water on many of the minor roads, the journey to and from work hasn't involved any detours.

Long may it last.

Update: I've just checked the road closures online, and the causeway is not open, it's closed. Hmmm.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Can I help you?

So, I'm a very new Rowan Design Consultant now.

And that means that three days a week, I work in a lovely John Lewis store, surrounded by lovely Rowan yarn. I've got a nice little enclosed area, well lit, with a table and some chairs so people can sit down and talk or look at patterns, or organise yarn for a new project. It really is rather good. And there is a wall of yarn. Literally, an entire wall of cubbyholes - to be arranged, by me, exactly as I like. It is a big store, so we have pretty nearly the entire Rowan range, and that is a lot of yarn.

However one thing that I knew but hadn't really thought about, is that yarn shops have a stockroom. Well, of course they do, I hear you say.

But the corollary of that, of course, is that what you see on the shop floor is not all the stock.

Now, I'm one of those people who, almost always, would rather look around a yarn shop on their own. Sometimes I like to chat, and ask what's new in by way of yarns or patterns - but usually I just like to browse by myself. What I actively don't like, is the assistant coming up to me, and standing right there at my elbow, and asking 'Can I help you?' It makes me feel as if they think I ought to buy something or else move on - it makes me feel as if my browsing isn't welcome.

And I haven't tended to ask for things either - especially if the assistant has previously said 'Can I help you?' and I've said 'No thankyou, I'm just looking.' I prefer to just find what I want, and go to the till.

But yarn shops don't work like that, and now I think about it, it is all very obvious.

But, oh dear - when I think of the number of times I've looked along the shelves of a yarn shop, thought I would like to buy enough of something or other for a particular project - counted what was in the little cubbyhole - and then walked away, because 'the shop didn't have enough of that yarn', and I 'didn't want to bother the assistant' ..... oh, the missed opportunities... the stash that could have been ....... oh the horror!

Because most of the stock is in the stockroom - no, more than that - more like nearly all of the stock. I was supposed to ask the assistant - could I have 10 skeins of such-and-such, please? They were expecting me to ask. Who knew? I didn't, that's for certain. And so I didn't ask.

Maybe I'm just a bit slow - or maybe it's sort of a side effect of sometimes just liking to look at yarn quietly by myself.

Anyway, I'm trying to bear this in mind when people come into the yarn area. Because I want people to feel completely comfortable browsing the shelves by themselves - and equally I want people to feel completely comfortable about asking for help - or indeed asking for yarn.

The intention is to be offering help, but not insisting, not being pushy - and I really hope it won't put people off, the way I've stupidly let myself be put off in the past.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Thursday morning

Here is Lenore, looking - well, small, because I haven't been knitting much.

And also looking rather more purple than in real life - I suppose it's the flash.

I like this pattern. It is all very normal, and that makes for soothing knitting. I've just finished the lace cuff with its Gothic arches, and the leg will continue in a vertical lace pattern. This is STR lightweight from Blue Moon, in case you're interested. The colour is also called Lenore, and it is one of the Raven Clan colours, specially dyed for the 2007 Rockin Sock Club - and those are my Knitpicks dpns.

I like those needles. They are fractionally heavier than most other needles, although they are certainly lighter than my Addi steel ones. The points are lovely and pointy, the finish is excellent, and - best of all - they are just 6" long. This is in my opinion the perfect length for sock needles, and I can see these becoming my needles of choice.

It's raining again, and we are watching the water rising across the fields behind the house. It is higher now than we have ever seen it before, and there is more rain forecast over the weekend.

I found this picture on the BBC news site.

This is the road that I just barely made it through on Tuesday evening, pictured at 7 am on Wednesday morning, and it would be my normal route to work.

That is not a bridge.

It is just a road through what is normally open fields - the river Avon itself is right down by that building at the far end, except that it is all over the place at the moment. Those vehicles further down the road are three cars and three lorries that got stuck and were being winched out by the fire brigade. Yes, the lorries couldn't get through. That water is quite deep.

So, I will be taking a different route to work today, rather longer, but sticking to A roads and the motorways as much as possible. And I have a strong suspicion that if we had been able to see just how high the water was on Tuesday evening, nobody would have been trying to cross then either.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Wednesday evening

I am still rather tired. I am sure that tomorrow will be easier than yesterday - and I am also sure that last night's exhaustion was mostly due to the appalling drive home. Really I cannot remember driving in worse conditions.

Tomorrow there is more rain forecast - but it does say light rain, so that might not be so bad. We did notice today that the road where I barely got through yesterday is now closed, so if that hasn't been opened tomorrow morning then I shall have to take a detour. So I shall be leaving early, just in case.

Things are starting to settle into perspective, regarding work. I do have a lot of sorting out to do, restocking the shelves and arranging everything so that it looks pretty. This evening I shall sit down and go through the paperwork, and make a list of things to do tomorrow.

And it's going to feel like a long day tomorrow - I don't start until 12, and I work through until 7 in the evening. But one advantage is that the roads should be clear of the rush hour traffic by then, so the journey home should be easier.

Tomorrow I am by myself in the department all day. Yesterday I had an experienced Design Consultant with me for part of the day - on Saturday it will be the same. But tomorrow I'm on my own. I'm not worried though, everyone there is so friendly and helpful that I am sure I will manage.

So, right now I'm going to go and cook some supper. Then I'm going to sit down with the files, get things mentally organised ready for tomorrow, and make some lists - and then I believe I am going to knit some more on Lenore.

Speaking of socks - I now have a copy of Cat Bordhi's book New Pathways for Sock Knitters, which I bought from Alice at Socktopus. I have only looked through quickly, but already I can see this is full of original and excellent ideas. More on this anon.....

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Still here

Well, that was my first day as a new Rowan Design Consultant. And truly I cannot remember being more tired.

My head is buzzing with information about stock and procedures - my legs are aching because of the stock room ladder - who needs a stairmaster with one of those in their life! - and really I am just exhausted.

The driving was horrible. This morning it was pouring with rain and a lot of the roads were flooded. This evening it was pouring with rain even harder, even more of the roads were flooded, and of course it was pitch dark.

So, fun. Especially when, you know, there is a bit in the road where the water is deep, and cars are taking turns going through it one at a time. And a big lorry comes zooming through in the opposite direction when someone else (me) is right at the deepest bit, and pushes them out to the side of the road (even deeper there) and swamps them completely with a great big wave of water.

Now, I drive a Prius. Clever little electric car + lots of water = bad news. Fortunately the engine did not die on me. But if it gets any deeper I don't think I will be able to get through on that road.

But the job - the job is going to be just fine. I enjoyed it today. I'm just looking forward to the time - not far away, I hope - when the yarn wall is all organised neatly, I know what I've got in the stock room, and I can focus on the knitting.

What went in the knitting bag - Birch, actually!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Monday morning

I think I'll start with a pretty picture of some yarn.

This is the yarn I was plying and finishing over the weekend, Blue Faced Leicester from Fleece Artist, and the colour is Pinata.

And I just wish it looked like that in real life. My camera really does make things look much more blue that they really are, and this is a good example of it. On the page here, I see a lovely turquoisey skein, with bits of pink and green. On the desk here next to the keyboard, I see a rather dodgy-looking green skein with bits of pink and acid yellow-green - and believe me, it isn't nearly as nice as that sounds, either.

Of course I can't show you the difference, either. Maybe I need a different camera.

So, in real life this isn't looking pretty. The problem happens in the finishing. When the skein goes into the water, it looks pretty much like that picture - maybe a bit more green to it than that, but it is definitely blue yarn. But the blue comes out in the water, and what I'm left with is not something that I like.

I am wondering if there is something I can do to prevent this happening. I seem to remember hearing something about vinegar for fixing dyes. Maybe I should put a bit of vinegar in the finishing bath, just in case? Would this work? How much, and what sort of vinegar? If anyone can offer advice, I would be really grateful.

Other things.

The Cobblestone Pullover has reached 9" now. I have hardly spent any time on it at all. Yes, I am lazy. And yes, I'll work on it more today.

This morning I cast on for a sock - it was bound to happen eventually. The pattern is the fifth Blue Moon sock club pattern for 2007 - Lenore by Stephanie Pearl McPhee - and the yarn is Blue Moon's eponymous Lenore STR Lightweight. Progress so far is minimal. I'll work on it more today, I hope.

Last but not least - tomorrow I start work. I still can hardly believe this, and I'm really looking forward to it. I know I'm very lucky - right place at the right time, that was all. But it is still brilliant!

And that reminds me, I do need to sort out my knitting bag, which will - of course! - be coming with me.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Interesting things

This morning, when we came downstairs and went into the conservatory to have our coffee, we were greeted with this, much to our surprise.

Nothing too amazing, really - just a delicate, simple little white flower - although not entirely what one expects in January. The surprising thing about it was the plant it belongs to.

Yes, that is a Venus Fly Trap - and yes, that stem is more than a foot long. It looks very out of proportion to the little ground-clinging plant from which it springs.

We bought this in the local garden centre last autumn, and it has seemed to be happy on the windowsill in the conservatory. It needs to be watered with rainwater - we use filtered water, as we don't have a waterbutt in the garden.

During December it started to grow one alarmingly long stem, with a collection of flower buds at the end. We've heard that the thing to do is to remove this, because flowering weakens the plant, but we wanted to see what the flowers were like. After all, when the plant is such a strange alien little thing, surely the flowers must be something spectacularly interesting?

It turns out that they aren't particularly alien at all, just a simple little white blossom about an inch across. We haven't the heart to clip them away just yet.

I did wind up the Blue Moon Lenore and Bella Coola yesterday.

I love both of these yarns, but particularly the Bella Coola. This is my favourite out of all the 2007 sock club yarns, without a doubt. The difference in size is because the Lenore is STR lightweight, and Bella Coola is mediumweight. Both are nicely squishy. I've put them away on the shelf for the time being.

I thought you might be interested also to see this.

Here are the 'Emergency Sock Yarn' skeins which came with the Blue Moon Rockin' Sock Club 2007 shipments. From left to right - Monsoon, Walking on the Wild Tide, Firebird, Flower Power, Lenore, Bella Coola. Nice, hmmm? And a good wide range of colours, as well. I'd hope there would be something there for everyone.

I've joined the Blue Moon Sock Club again this year. I wonder what Tina has in store for us this time? Certainly, the 2007 yarns and patterns will be a hard act to beat.

I also wound up something that I haven't shown you yet.

This is Duet Sock Yarn, made famous by Stephanie. My yarn is the original DK weight, and there is 360 yards of lovely thick soft hand-dyed merino there, in a gorgeous blend of deep dark aubergines and beautiful soft purples, together with a little skein of plain dark aubergine, for co-ordinating toes and heels. I'm planning to use this for some toe up socks, pattern as yet undecided, but to include a short row heel so that they look pretty.

By the way, my daughter gave me this for Christmas. This colour is called Midnight Secret, I believe. She has excellent taste, if you ask me.

I did get the BFL plying done, although it didn't go smoothly at all. The single kept breaking, over and over again, literally dozens of times. I lost count. It really became annoying, and then of course I was getting tense, and that just made things worse. I was thinking that I just hadn't put enough twist into my singles - but that turned out not to be the case.

Finally I realised what the problem was. It wasn't my spinning - it was the new bobbin that was holding the singles. Because it was brand new and the washers at each end have no wear on them at all, it was being held in place rather too firmly. So the single wasn't strong enough to get the bobbin to turn, and when I tried to pull the next length of single out - it broke. Solution - push the bobbin halfway off the Lazy Kate, so that only one of the two washers was on the spindle. Not ideal, and still rather too solid, but workable.

Anyway, I've been finishing the yarn this morning, using Patricia Gibson-Roberts water treatment method. Simmer, cool, rinse. Spin, snap, and dry. So far, we've got as far as the cooling bit.

And there are just two days now until I start work for Rowan - it still seems unreal.....

Saturday, 12 January 2008


We woke this morning with wonderful sunshine coming in the window, and clear blue skies. It is still pretty cold but the torrential rain has stopped, for the time being at least.

Also, there was this.

And this....

We have a lake at the back of the house. Actually of course, this is the flood plain of the Avon doing exactly what it is supposed to do when it rains a lot - flood. Please note that we are looking down on all this, we are in no danger here from the waters. We're just enjoying looking at it all.

What used to be water meadows is now water, and somewhere in the middle of all that is the Avon, which normally we cannot actually see at all. There are some very big gulls flying around - quite startlingly huge actually, and plenty of them. I think they must be herring gulls. They don't look very friendly at all, they are so big. And I've seen the resident heron in the air this morning as well, cruising so slowly that it looks as if he will fall out of the air. Slow, slow wingbeats..... looking as if it is impossible for him to actually stay up there, and yet he does.... Now he looks friendly, even though he is bigger than the gulls.

But before this turns into 'Nature Notes', I'd better start talking about knitting.

Here is the current state of the Cobblestone Pullover.

It is looking rather more recognizable now - this is 7 and a bit of the required 16 inches to reach the armholes, and I'm coming to the end of the third skein. We'll see how it goes, I shall work on it some more this evening. I'm still using the Russian join, by the way, and I'm still pleased with the result. I wouldn't normally have used this with a cotton yarn, but it does seem to be better than any alternative that I can think of. Mind you, I'm making sure that the joins are in the garter stitch side panels, and you can hide all sorts in that. Which is, of course, good.

Today I'm planning to wind the two remaining Blue Moon sock club yarns, Lenore and Bella Coola. When I start making socks again - because I will, I'm not all socked out forever! - I shall start with these two. They are both excellent patterns with famous authors, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and Cat Bordhi respectively, and will be interesting to work.

Also, I'm planning to navajo ply the Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester that's been sitting on the Lazy Kate all week, and finish the yarn as well, with luck. I'm going to cast on for a triangular shawl with this as soon as I can. Maybe the Shoalwater Shawl, or maybe this Comfort Shawl, which looks so gorgeous. This fibre has looked so completely different in the roving, as a single, and as a plied yarn - and now I want to see what it looks like knitted up.

I've got as far as setting up a fresh bobbin on the flyer - one of the new ones I had made - and putting a leader on as well. All I need to do is sit down at the wheel for a while. I have no idea how long it will take me to ply a full bobbin.

Well, there's only one way to find out!

Friday, 11 January 2008

Moving on some more...

I finished the sleeveless pullover yesterday evening.

Here it is, indoors as you can see, because it is pouring outside still. Actually this isn't a bad representation of the colour, which is an earthy dark olive green.

So, this is based on Peace Fleece's Simple Pie Vest. I've resized it to fit my husband, as he has a 48" chest and the largest size in the pattern has a finished measurement of 44". This has taken most of 5 skeins of Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran, in Thorny.

Nice straightforward pattern, extremely easy, and a good useful basic.

You might have noticed that the Ruffles scarf has disappeared from the list of projects on the needles. I decided that if it has been on the needles all this time then I probably wasn't going to finish it - if I really liked it, then I'd be wanting to work on it, and plainly this hasn't been happening. So, I have frogged it, and the yarn is back in the stash again.

Not hard to find what to make with 5 skeins of Berroco Suede though - Coachella. I loved this immediately, really flattering and unusual. I have been looking through finished projects on Ravelry, and it is apparent that the size chosen is critical - it seems to be better to make a size smaller then usual, and let negative ease do the work. Otherwise it ends up being too loose at the neckline to be wearable. So it isn't impossible that I might end up making a size Small, which sounds a bit like a joke. Well, I can always frog it again if I have to - I've got enough yarn to go up to a Large.

But anyway, that's for later in the year.

Yesterday evening I cast on for the Cobblestone Pullover.

This is Rowan All Seasons Cotton in Slick, and I'm on the second skein already. And no, it isn't blue.

I really don't know why my camera tends to make things look bluer than they really are, but it definitely does. This is a dark, dark grey melange. This colour was discontinued not long ago, and I bought a stack of it whilst it was reduced. I do like grey.....

Anyway, all going well so far. The only problem with working in the round using a yarn like ASC is how to deal with joining a new skein. I am taking care to keep the joins lined up with the underarms, and I'm using a Russian join. I don't usually use this with a yarn like ASC, but so far it seems to be alright. I'll see how it goes as things progress.

I've now got to work the body to a length of 16", knit all the way except for garter stitch panels at the sides. I've put markers in for these, as the pattern suggests, otherwise I am sure I would go flying past and keep having to frog.

Anyway, nice straightforward knitting, ideal for days like this when you just want to stay indoors. It did eventually stop raining yesterday, and Lucy and I had a good walk. It really looks set in today, though.........

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Thursday morning

It's blowing a gale outside this morning and raining as well, and the forecast is for more of the same. I shall have to go out at some point and take Lucy for a walk - I don't think she will be any more enthusiastic about it than I am. But we will both feel better for it, I'm sure. Maybe....

Lucy is doing well, by the way. She's still being fed exclusively on her special prescription food, which she really doesn't like. Every time we put the bowl down for her, she looks up sadly - what, this stuff again? However she's now allowed a few little non-fat treats, like carrot sticks, which she loves. So that helps.

And the sleeveless pullover is progressing. I've just finished the armhole shaping and I'm about to divide for the V neck.

I do like this yarn. Very rustic, quite a bit of thick-and-thin, and a nice earthy colour, impossible to capture on camera, it seems. I'm expecting to have one skein untouched when I finish this pullover. A nice yarn to have in the remnants box, definitely.

The fabric is lovely. There really is nothing quite like knitting with wool.

Two nice things arrived in the post this morning. The first of these was my December shipment from the Blue Moon Sock Club. This is the last of the 2007 club yarns. It took a while - the postmark is December 12, so that was more than 4 weeks. Usually it is here in a week or ten days.

Anyway, a really beautiful colour - Bella Coola, in STR mediumweight - and a really interesting pattern - Salish Sea Socks, by Cat Bordhi.

The architecture of these socks is like nothing I've ever tried before, and I shall enjoy knitting these. Toe up construction, a star toe - yes, a star toe worked toe up! and it can be graduated too! - and with regard to the gusset, well, there isn't one, as such. It is all different from usual. The heel turn is new too.

I do like trying new things. I don't think I am quite ready to cast on for more socks just yet though. Soon...

The other nice thing was my job offer from Rowan - I am now officially a Rowan Design Consultant!

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Moving on....

This morning I am knitting again. Here is the sleeveless pullover, which hasn't progressed a lot.

You can see the back there underneath - it is folded in half because I have both sets of shoulder stitches on the same stitch holder, which is one of those like a huge long safety pin. The front is lying over the top, and as you can see, I have not much further to go before I reach the armholes.

The division for the V neckline is straight after the armhole shaping, and after that things should go fairly fast. I am getting wary of giving predictions about when I will get things finished, because experience has shown that I invariably get it wrong and things take longer than I expect them to. So no predictions about this - not today, anyway.

I've been thinking - again - about what I shall knit next. I am starting work next Tuesday, and my knitting at work is expected to be in Rowan yarns, and to a Rowan pattern. Also, I do need in theory to be wearing a Rowan handknit myself, preferably from the current collections. I haven't actually got anything that fits the bill for that, apart from the Tartan Scarf, and that isn't something I'm going to be wearing indoors. Plus, I am not going to choose a big warm pullover, because I shall be in a nice warm store.

So, that needs thought. I still love Cordoba. Plus I should also choose something from the current Rowan Classic brochures. And that website has come back to life again, by the way, which is brilliant. Every time I've looked at it recently I've seen only last summer's stuff. Lovely to see the new patterns!

Anyway, layers are good, in case I get hot. (Who am I kidding? When I get hot, not in case I get hot. At this stage in my life, it happens from time to time. No, I can't take HRT. And yes, I really wish I could.) So, sleeveless things, to be worn over a long sleeved cotton top. Or cotton things. Or failing that, roomy things. Nothing too heavy.

So, I'm thinking at the moment - Viv, from Rowan Classic AM to PM, in Baby Alpaca DK.

Yes, that gives me two V neck sleeveless tops. But this is workwear, and that's not a bad thing, especially in two different colour palettes, I think.

This afternoon is going to be spent getting Google bookmarks sorted out properly, because Firefox has suddenly decided that it isn't going to let me have my bookmarks toolbar any more. Or more accurately, it lets me have the bookmarks toolbar, but without any bookmarks on it. I have no idea what triggered this, or how to sort it out - but I have found my bookmarks backup folder, and I'm using the information in there to sort out Google Bookmarks.

This could take a while.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008


Most unusually, today I haven't knitted a single stitch so far today. I'm going to knit some more on the sleeveless pullover this evening, but this post is about 'life in general' - or rather one specific aspect of it.

It has been a bit of a busy day today - phone calls, errands, supermarket shopping, all the usual stuff. Also, there was a visit to the doctor, which has given me pause for thought.

You see, over the last year, it seemed that I had developed some weird sort of IBS. It wasn't always there - sometimes I was absolutely fine. But when it was there, it really wasn't very nice at all.

Gradually it became more and more of a thing that I just lived with, until by the end of October it was clear that something wasn't right. I was getting through a fair amount of over the counter meds to deal with it, and it was a substantial inconvenience in my life - but, I was used to it, so it didn't seem to be any big deal.

It was my husband who suggested that maybe wheat was the problem. So I tried cutting out wheat, and lo and behold, I felt better almost immediately. By the time I'd had three days without wheat, the improvement was positively startling. So I stayed off wheat, which isn't altogether easy, as they put wheat in some quite unexpected products.

So, there was the odd hiccup when I ate some wheat without realising it, but basically the problem just disappeared. I didn't eat wheat - I wasn't unwell. In fact, the problem disappeared so completely that over the Christmas period I did actually start to think that maybe it hadn't really been that bad after all. So I started eating things with wheat again, just a bit, and just for a couple of days - and the problem came straight back.

Finally I decided to do what I should have done in the first place. I booked an appointment to see my GP, and started eating gluten again whilst I was waiting. You see, even if someone actually has coeliac disease, the blood tests will all come out negative unless the person is including wheat gluten in their diet. But how much gluten was needed, and for how long though? I didn't know. But I thought that I might as well get a head start on this.

So, today I saw my GP, and she told me that she is fairly sure that I have developed coeliac disease. I have to eat a 'normal' amount of wheat (hah! - what is normal?) for another two weeks, and then I am to have the blood tests. And a week after that, I should have the result.

This is wildly inconvenient - I am starting my lovely new job on Tuesday next week, and I would much rather not be feeling unwell then. However it is really my own fault, I should have got this sorted out before Christmas.

The upside of all this is that I can - indeed, I have to! - eat bread again.

I do love good bread...

Monday, 7 January 2008

You don't want to see this

This weekend I have been working on the absolutely plain sleeveless pullover. I haven't put a picture of this up yet, and now you can see why.

It does not look very interesting, especially after Benedikta.

However it is very pleasant knitting. Sometimes I just want miles of nice soothing stocking stitch. And with a nice yarn, what's more to want? I'm enjoying it.

But there isn't anything else to show you really. Except my spinning, perhaps. That's looking quite pretty.

This is the last of 100 grams of the Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester in Pinata. It is on the Kate at the moment, I'm going to navajo ply it later today if I get enough spare time.

I think this is going to start off as a Shoalwater Shawl, or something along those lines. I shall just start knitting and see where I end up.

The only other fibre-related activity this weekend has been darning socks, and I'm certainly not going to post pictures of that. My husband has gone through the heel of three pairs of socks, one after another. They are of course his favourite and most worn pairs, and they have all gone through at the left hand side of the underneath of the heel.

Maybe I should reinforce the others before they all go through too.... but somehow I don't think that will happen. Me doing the reinforcing, I mean - not the socks not wearing through. Although that would be even better.

Friday, 4 January 2008

New things

A really busy day yesterday, and very little knitting time. However, there are some new things that I am enjoying at the moment - new to me, anyway....

First is Mary Thomas's Knitting Book. This was given to me as a Christmas gift, it has languished on my Amazon wish list for ages, and really I wish I had bought it a long time ago. I am only about a third of the way through, and really, it is interesting reading. It was originally published in 1938, and some of the notation is different - but everything is clearly explained, with neat little diagrams. Such things as SSK, mattress stitch, and EZ's sewn cast off were yet to be 'unvented', so are not included, which is interesting of itself. Different knitting styles, including combined style, are thoroughly explained, which is refreshing - and no mention of 'right' or 'wrong' either, which is also rather pleasing. You will gather from this that I am still playing around with combined knitting, when the mood takes me.

Still to come are the chapters on colour knitting, beaded and embroidered knitting - and also, how to put together a foundation pattern that will ensure a good fit. I need to read that.

Also Shetland shawl, gloves, socks - and a whole chapter of tips, including things like how to darn a knitted fabric undetectably - even for a ribbed fabric.

I should have read this book years ago.

Second new thing - podcasts.

Yes, I have just discovered them. You see, I have been labouring under the misapprehension that they were something to do with iPods - the name, you see - and I don't have an iPod, so I hadn't looked into the subject any further.

What I do have is a little Zen Stone, which again I was given for Christmas, and it is a lovely toy. I have been playing around this evening finding out how to put knitting podcasts on there and finding that there are a lot of them around. It seems that I have a lot of catching up to do - but at least I can knit whilst listening.

With regard to actual knitting, I am still working on the back of the Sleeveless Pullover for my husband - so that means I am still knitting stocking stitch in the Yorkshire Tweed Aran. It feels like there are acres of it.... but in reality it is only 22 inches or thereabouts. I am partway up the armholes at the moment.

I mentioned that this is nice yarn - it is, definitely. It has a very rustic look to it - it is one fat single with a lot of twist, slightly thick-and-thin, and a finish that is almost felted. A certain amount of VM here and there, which I am picking out as I find, of course - and it produces a soft and substantial fabric. It works up very nicely at 4 stitches to the inch, and suits this pattern very well indeed.

After this is finished, I shall be knitting another modified Ganomy Hat, as the recipient of the last one has managed to 'lose' it in the pub, much to his annoyance. Well, it was not so much lost as purloined, unfortunately. Apparently it attracted some comment, and ended up being passed around, and people were saying what an amazing hat, and trying it on - and it ended up going home with someone else. Without its owner's permission, if you follow my meaning.

So I need to make another one. Or maybe two, whilst I am at it. I did look at my notes when I realised this - they seem to be rather cryptic, and I do hope that I can reconstruct the hat.

Thursday, 3 January 2008


No time for anything much this morning - out the door in just a minute, a long drive and things to do.

Progress on the sleeveless pullover so far constitutes 10 inches of stocking stitch, so I wouldn't be inflicting that on you anyway. I should get some done in the car today. Mind you, this Yorkshire Tweed is nice yarn. Lovely yarn, in fact. I shall have to try the Scottish Tweed soon, and make a comparison.

I've realised it is now less than two weeks until I start my lovely new job. I am so much looking forward to this!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Benedikta is finished!

Yesterday evening I finished the neckband and wove in the remaining ends - this morning I got the steam iron out - and here is the finished result.

I must say I am rather pleased with this. The finished pullover is effectively reversible, because I worked the neckband in the round instead of to and fro and then seaming, as the pattern says. This was the only major change that I made.

It is not too large at all, the width works beautifully with the drapiness of the fabric. And the neckband is excellent, giving a very flattering result with the wide V shape. The lower band seems wide - and indeed it is roomy - but the mitred blocks bring things in a bit, so that is just fine.

A couple of pointers for anyone else considering making this - the yarn requirements are generous, and allow you to pick and choose with your colour placement of the blocks. But! - not for the main colour, 2011. I worked the pattern exactly as written, with the blocks in rounds of each colour. If I had not bought extra of 2011, I would not have had enough of this colour to work the neckband, which is both wide and deep, and takes about one skein of yarn.

I would suggest that after working the sleeves and the lower bands, you set aside one skein of 2011 for the neckband. The round of blocks which is worked with 2011 - well, use what you have, apart from that set-aside skein - and work the rest with the other colours exactly as you please. You won't run out of yarn. Three skeins is plenty for two rounds of blocks. One round of blocks takes a little more than one full skein.

So there it is, the first finished item for 2008, and hopefully the first of rather more sweaters than last year.

I've already cast on for a sleeveless pullover for my husband, in Rowan's discontinued Yorkshire Tweed Aran. The pattern is loosely based on Peace Fleece's Simple Pie Vest, but I've resized it to fit a 48" chest and changed the proportions a bit as well. Largest size in the pattern is 44" around, you see.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

New Year's Day

Happy New Year!

Benedikta now has sleeves, and will be finished today.

It did take me rather longer than I thought it would to seam the raglans - indeed, it always does. I don't know how long it is going to take me to learn this, it happens every time. I am obviously slow on the uptake.

Making up is not something that ever goes fast for me, I like to take my time and place my stitches carefully. I really do believe that the finishing is what makes all the difference to the garment.

Also, there were just a few ends to deal with.

I had been weaving in the yarn end at the start of each block, but not the yarn tail at the finish. I did try working it in with the next block along, but it didn't seem to give the best result so I unpicked and left the tails for later. Yesterday evening I finally dealt with them all. I do think they look rather pretty, actually.

Benedikta looks a bit strange at the moment.

To be specific, incredibly wide and short, and with an absolutely huge neckline opening. This is more than a little disconcerting, but I have confidence that the neckband will make all the difference.

I am going to work the neckband using some of the more neutral colours from 2011 - the colour used for the lower band and sleeves, also the fourth round of blocks. Maybe with a stripe of the citrus orange partway through - possibly also a line of green - just to lift it a bit and to tie in with the sleeves and the front band.

If the neckband in the round works well, this will be reversible front to back.