Friday, 31 October 2008


Goodness I am tired.

But I have had an excellent day.

I was quaking in my boots before the spinning demonstration at the museum, I can tell you. And when I got there with my wheel and saw a notice on the door saying 'Professional Spinning Demonstration' - well, I felt like turning around and just quietly going away. Because, you know, I am not a professional spinner, not by a very long chalk. I am a beginner, and I am under no illusions at all regarding that.

But I went in, and there was my friend from the Guild waiting for me with her wheel already set up, and it all went brilliantly.

My carding has improved significantly with her help, and I am really enjoying the moorit Shetland. I washed this fleece last summer, and haven't touched it til now. It is absolutely a joy to spin, it practically leaps onto the bobbin by itself, and I am so looking forward to seeing what it is like when I ply it. Spinning this stuff is so different from spinning commercial tops that I can hardly believe it. I want to carry on spinning from fleece for ever, this is spinning as it should be - that is how it feels at the moment.

I am managing to spin a bit thicker now, and that is a big step forward - however if I want to achieve something like a worsted weight then I will have to make this a three ply yarn, not two ply - so that means more Navajo plying. I don't mind that, I like Navajo plying. In fact - ahem - I am not very good at any other sort of plying. Not to imply that I am good at Navajo plying, though, it is just that I cannot really do anything else just yet.

Tomorrow morning I am going to Get Knitted for their knitting group, which I didn't know was still running. Nothing on the website about it, but I am assured it is alive and well. So I will be there!

And by the way, if anyone is interested in buying a really lovely Wee Peggy wheel (much nicer than mine, and yes I have been very tempted) or a Herring wheel - both in perfect working order and a total bargain - let me know. Because the Wiltshire Guild has these two wheels for sale at the moment.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008


I finished the first slipper, and it is not going to be frogged.

Here are the finished 8 squares of sock yarn leftovers, looking very unprepossessing.

And here they are once I had seamed them together, looking even less likely, if that is possible.

A thing of beauty it is not. Also, it is really very small indeed . And yet, mirabile visu, it fits.

Well, after a fashion, anyway. My husband approves and says it is 'just right'. I don't entirely agree. I think it is on the small side, and that this is the size to make for it to fit me. I shall make its fellow to match, of course, but I think that next time I make a pair of these for my husband I shall sneakily add a bit to the cast on number. These have 18 stitches, and in my opinion are definitely on the small side for him. The ones with 22 stitches were ridiculously large - I think I shall try 20 stitches. But that's for next time.

By the way, it is very interesting (to say the least) trying to work out how to fold these for seaming, when one is too lazy to go and turn the computer on and look at the diagram in the pattern. I got there in the end, though.


Busy day today - well, this morning, at any rate. Yet another hospital appointment, so I took along some sock yarn and cast on for yet another pair of socks for my husband - Noro sock yarn this time, the first time I've used it. The 8 square slippers are not ideal travel/waiting room knitting, as too many little balls of yarn are required to come along for the ride.

By the way, the first slipper was finished and seamed, then tried on by my husband - and then frogged. It was much too big. It fit him about as well as a Wellington boot, which was not the desired objective at all. These slippers really are very stretchy indeed, and don't need to be anywhere as big as I thought. I have cast on again, with 18 stitches instead of 22, and the frst one should be finished later today.

I wonder whether this time they will fit. It is hard to judge. They do look a bit dinky - but then last time they looked as if they would be about right, and then were enormous when assembled. So maybe dinky is what we need.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


I finally managed to tear myself away from Fantastic Contraption long enough to function yesterday. I came to a halt with level 14, which looks deceptively simple but seems to be practically impossible. At the moment I seem to be totally stuck. Later on I may quite possibly have another look at it, unless I can restrain myself.

One thing that we did yesterday was get started on our Christmas shopping. We did actually go to Cribb's Causeway on Sunday with the intention of doing a bit of window shopping and generally looking for inspiration, but we didn't manage to get anything. This is something that I meant to mention before, because we looked in on the yarn department.

It was extremely weird for me, actually. Lovely to see people again, but strange to see the yarnwall and the customers and know that they are not my responsibility any more. I miss the job in many ways, I was working with such a nice group of people, and I did like tidying my yarnwall and running the teaching sessions - but I am so glad that the daily grind of exhaustion is no more, and that I can spend more time with my husband.

I need to get a few bits and pieces organised ready for Friday's spinning demonstration at Trowbridge Museum. And I hope they aren't expecting us to dress like that lady at the top right, it is more likely to be jeans and a pullover for me.

Anyway, it is half-term week around here, and we are expecting there to be a fair number of children in the museum, so I need to have things that they can try out. I will be taking along some spindles, and also I need to make sure that I have something on the wheel that people can actually manage to spin if they want to try. Not that merino pencil roving, although the colours are lovely, merino is too difficult for an introduction. I have some Blue Faced Leicester roving around somewhere, thatmight be a good choice. Or I could take some of the moorit Shetland along, together with my carders.... that's it, I think. Roving for the spindles, Shetland for the wheel.

With regard to knitting, I have succumbed to the lure of garter stitch.

As you can see, I have finished six of the eight squares required for one slipper. I just need to attach the two that stick out at the sides, and then I will seam it up and we will discover whether it fits. Some of the squares are a little difficult to distinguish, due to my having used adjacent colours that were too similar, hence the little markers. Also, I have just discovered that the beautiful square in shades of blue will end up on the sole of the foot when the thing goes together. Most annoying. I will take care not to let that happen again.

Anyway - this is being worked with oddments of sock yarn leftovers, two strands held together throughout. I am using 3.5mm needles, and my cast on was 22 sts. Each square is, of course, 22 garter ridges in depth.

I have not worked any more on the Striped Sweater, despite the best of intentions. It would be nice if I could get this finished before Christmas, but that does mean that I will actually have to pick it up and work on it, instead of just saying that I want to. Hah.

What else do I want to get done before Christmas? Well, these slippers. And the Tall Tibetan Coriolis Socks, to be made with the last lot of Blue Moon Sock Club yarn from 2007 - these are as yet unstarted. So that's three things at least.

I would like to get the Earth Stripe Curtain onto the needles, at the very least. Once I'm past the stripy bit at the beginning and have the pattern in my head, then it will be good travel knitting.

And I really would like to get the Helen Hamann Trapeze Top finished, for myself. I had originally planned this for Christmas 2007.

That makes four things finished and another one started. Hmmm. Who am I kidding here?

Right now, Lucy needs a walk (she's doing really well, by the way) I need to make lunch and do some ironing, sort out my spinning basket ready for Friday (tomorrow and Thursday are going to be a bit busy) and then it will be back to the nice undemanding garter stitch, hooray.

We have snow showers forecast for this afternoon. It is beautiful bright sunshine outside, but cold..... nice weather for walking.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Monday afternoon

It is all Heather's fault. I haven't done the ironing, I haven't done the laundry....

Have a look here.

Monday morning

The current pair of Kaffe Fassett socks is finished.

Here they are, straight off the needles. This is my usual sock pattern, to fit my husband's size 9 feet. I have discovered that this colourway, Regia's 4257, is called Twilight. The stripy version is called Landscape, as opposed to the variegated, which is called Mirage. So these are the Twilight Landscape socks.

And I know I've said it before, but I am going to say it again, because I am so extremely pleased with this - grafting without a yarn needle! Grafting using just three of the needles with which you knitted the sock!

And no, this is not a three needle cast off. This is grafting, aka Kitchener stitch. Perfect tension and superquick, no yarn needle required. Here.

The yarn leftovers from these socks are going straight on to the needles, as the beginning of the 8 square slippers - the pattern is here. It is in Finnish but very easy to understand, as the diagram is pretty much self explanatory.

I just have to figure out how many stitches to cast on. I am using 3.5mm needles, and two strands of sock yarn held together. I think this should produce 6 stitches to the inch.... so if I want to make slippers that fit a UK #9 foot.... then say I want the slipper to measure 10.6" long. Halve that, divide by root 2 - how does one type a square root symbol, anyway? - multiply by the spi which I think will be 6 - I think I need to cast on 22 stitches. I gather from Ravelry that these are extremely stretchy.

When I make some for myself, I will cast on for size 6 - say I want it to measure 9.6" long, same process.... cast on 20 stitches. That doesn't sound like enough difference. Or maybe it is. We'll see.

And from the comments - Kate, thankyou. A ray of hope! I too remember things smelling and tasting different when I was pregnant. So again, we'll see.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Strange change

Something rather odd.

For many years, I have had a favourite fragrance. For me, it's just been perfect, summer or winter. Now, all of a sudden, I can't stand it. It smells really strange to me, and definitely not nice.

I don't think this can be because it has gone off, because I've got it in two forms of lotion as well as the eau de parfum, and they all smell identically weird, and I think it is a bit unlikely that they should all have gone off at exactly the same moment. Also, my husband tells me that they all smell the same as always, and not weird in the slightest.

So if the fragrance hasn't changed it must be me.

Ah yes, the 'change'. That would be it, I expect. This is, I think, pretty much over for me now, or very nearly so. But I certainly wasn't expecting it to mark its final exit by turning my all-time favourite perfume into something rather unpleasant for me.

Gah. And other expressions of annoyance.

Friday, 24 October 2008


I wore Kari again today, to knitting group this time. This top really does work extremely well. The fabric is thick and soft and light and very very warm - but the styling, with the wide loose neckline and the wide drapy sleeves, means that it really is fine for indoor wear. And yet afterwards, when I came home, I took Lucy out for a walk and was not cold despite the chilly wind. There really is nothing quite like wearing wool.

One thing, however. This yarn sheds. It sheds a lot, in fact. But I still love it.

From the comments - Terri, you were asking about how I wear this top. Kari is really an oversweater, and I have been wearing it over a black scoop-neck tshirt with elbow length sleeves - so the tshirt sleeves are shorter than the sleeves on Kari, and the tshirt neckline just shows at the top. When the weather is colder, I will wear it over a tshirt with long sleeves, I think. It is soft enough for wearing next to the skin - and indeed it is next to the skin all around the neckline, and at the lower edges of the sleeves. So if the fabric was going to irritate me, I'd know about it. But the shape is wide and loose, and I feel better with something underneath.

The Striped Sweater continues slowly. I have nearly finished the fancy rib, and I just hope that my tension is ok - it is hard to judge these stitches with long loopy bits. The finished width is going to be just under 70cm - yes, that is right! - and I am working on 60 cm needles so it is difficult to spread it out and have a proper look. I know, I should get another needle out. But when I get to the stocking stitch bit, then I'll be changing needles anyway, and that's pretty close now.

I am trying to get the current KF socks finished, mainly because I am fed up with them. I want to cast on a scarf. Probably Vintage Velvet, because I fancy playing around with a bit of felting.

I have given up with the Salish Sea Socks, I have decided that these socks just are not the right shape for my feet. I didn't quite throw them out of the window, but they have been frogged for the last time. I am very disappointed that I cannot seem to make this pattern work for me.

What I have been doing, though, is having a good thorough read of the Coriolis architecture section in Cat Bordhi's 'New Pathways', and I now understand exactly why they don't fit. Also, I've discovered a pattern called Tall Tibetan Socks that uses this architecture - which is the one on which the Salish Sea Socks are based - and also uses STR mediumweight - which is the yarn used by the Salish Sea Socks. Click! I can customise the Tibetan socks, so they will fit. That sounds more like it.

One other thing I have discovered - my feet are not very average.

Cat Bordhi gives a page of 'average' sock measurements. I know my measurements are in there somewhere, because I was one of the people who contributed information for this, when she was writing the book. But my goodness I am not in the middle of the range at all.

Looking at my shoe size/length of foot, my midfoot measurement (around the middle of the foot with a tape measure, ie under the foot in the middle of the arch and over the top) is very much on the small side. My heel/arch measurement (from the point of the heel at the back of the sole, diagonally around over the top in the 'corner' between the top of the foot and the beginning of the leg) is precisely average, which surprised me. But what you look at when calculating whether the adjustment is needed for a high arch, is the ratio of these two things - the midfoot, and the heel/arch measurements. And because my midfoot measurement is unusually small, my arch ratio thingie is pretty much off the scale.

So basically, this explains why the toes were loose in the non-custom-fit Salish Sea Socks. And also why I tend to like pointy-toe socks, because it takes some of the slack out of the toe end of the sock.

Ms Bordhi, however, gives so much detail in her book regarding customising the fit, that I ought to be able to end up with the best fitting pair of socks I've ever made.

This sounds good.

Thursday, 23 October 2008


I have been trying to get on with the Salish Sea Socks. They were, for goodness sake, from the 2007 Blue Moon Sock Club. 2007! I want to be getting on with the 2008 ones, which are still lined up accusingly on the shelf.

The Salish Sea Socks are designed by Cat Bordhi, and their construction is unusual and interesting to knit. However I do seem to be having a problem. I will explain a bit.

First of all I should note that my tension is spot-on. This pattern is written for STR Mediumweight, and as this is a Club kit, that is of course what I am using - and the tension is 7.5spi. I'm using 2.25mm needles for this, as the pattern suggests.

Now, the sizing. I did have a bit of a wander around Ravelry looking at people's Salish Sea Socks, and problems with this seemed to be pretty widespread. The thing is that usually the foot part of a sock is basically a straight tube, ok with a couple of little extra gussets at the side for a heel flap construction - and this sock is not.

The arch expansion, ie adding extra stitches to give the depth needed for the arch, this starts much earlier than we are used to. And this means that it is definitely harder to judge the choice of sizing. I did notice several people saying that the sock seemed large until they worked the heel turn, and then it all came into place, and it seemed sensible to pay attention to this.

Anyway, the pattern has lots of explanation, and lots of choice too. In fact, there are no less than 5 different sizes, labelled extra small through to extra large, with finished measurements ranging from 6 1/2" to 8 1/2" foot circumference.

Now, I wear a UK size 6, European size 39 usually. I need to go up a size for boots, as I have a high instep and invariably cannot get boots on my foot otherwise. My ankles are not skinny but neither are they outrageously enormous - just about the ankle bone, they measure something like 9 or 9 1/2 ". Around the ball of the foot, measured quite firmly with no ease whatsoever, my feet measure 8 1/4". Usually, a 64 stitch sock at 8 sts to the inch fits me just fine - in other words, a sock with a finished foot circumference of 8".

I do need to take care with short row heels that I allow enough depth for that instep, and I like heel flap socks because I don't need to do any extra thinking. This is a heel flap pattern, albeit worked toe up, and the designer even mentions how to work extra-pointy toes (I like socks with pointy toes) and how to give additional space for a high instep - so, all good!

I looked at the range of sock sizes. Finished foot circumference 8" was a size Large. Ok. Off we went.

By the time I was halfway through the arch expansion, it was crystal clear that this sock was going to be much too loose. Really, there was no way that this was going to be all ok after the heel turn. It was much too roomy, even right down at the toes, and I've never had that problem before. And this was the pointy-toe version too. So, frog. Try again.

Finished foot circumference 7 1/2" is a size medium. Well, 7 1/2" sounds a bit on the small side, but the so-called 8" ones really were way too big, and medium sounds good to me. I like medium. Medium sounds good, medium sounds like what I would normally pick. So, off we went.

And would you believe it is still too big?!

I am going to have to frog it again, and try with a size Small. Finished foot circumference 7", it says. That's a 52 stitch sock. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

More grey knitting

Kari was finished yesterday afternoon, and was worn all evening. I like it.

You can see that the neckline is rather different from the pattern version ....

Sorry the picture is so small, I cannot work out how to make it larger.

Anyway. My version has a collar that is less of a cowl, and is more face framing. I am rather pleased with it, actually. It is just what I had in mind, except with two thicknesses of fabric instead of one. In fact I am rather pleased with the whole thing, and I think I shall wear it to knitting group on Friday this week. It is very wide and drapy, the sleeves in particular work well - the fabric is very very warm, and these elbow length sleeves mean that it is still suitable for indoor wear.

So, to summarise - this is Kari, from Rowan's The Cocoon Collection. I made size L, and used 7 skeins of Cocoon in Mountain 805. I altered the neckline to reduce the volume. My row gauge was compressed, unfortunately - 17.5 rows to 4" instead of 16 - which meant that I used more yarn than expected. 7 skeins was still enough ......

...... but I didn't have much left over.

I have started my husband's pullover.

This is going to be the Striped Sweater from Rowan's Classic Knits for Men, aka Knitting For Him. It is worked in Rowan Scottish Tweed DK, and I am making the size to fit chest 48". That little teeny bit of knitting on the needle (fancy rib there, by the way, but you can't really see it) has no less than 153 stitches, as the finished pullover is going to actually measure nearly 54" around the chest.

I think it may take me a while.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Want / need, plus other things

Kari is still not finished, and I can hardly believe it.

The problem is the neckline, I cannot seem to find a version of it that I like. Right now, I am reknitting it for the third time and I really hope that this time I am happy with it, because this yarn is not liking being frogged so many times.

The stand collar was nice, but somehow not quite what I had in mind. I had plenty of yarn, so I thought I'd try a foldover collar with the bottom section reversed so that the reverse stocking stitch didn't peek out from underneath. This didn't work either. I think I could have blocked it into submission, but I don't like relying on blocking for results, I like the underlying shape and size to be right in the first place. So that got frogged as well. This third and hopefully final incarnation is almost what the pattern suggests - quite ironic, really. I've been messing around with the stitch count picked up around the neck, to end up with a less bulky neckline. I just hope that the drape will still be good.

This evening should see it finished, and yes I know I've said that before.

I want to finish spinning the blue variegated organic merino.

I want to start spinning the moorit Shetland.

I want to cast on for my husband's pullover. I've decided to bite the bullet and make size 48", which actually measures rather more than 50" around at underarm level. Rowan Scottish Tweed DK, by the way. Lovely stuff.

I want to cast on for the Earth Stripe Curtain. We have a window that needs this.

I want to finish my Salish Sea Socks. I could do with another pair of socks.

I want to cast on for a scarf. Either Backyard Leaves, or Vintage Velvet.

I want to cast on for some Green Autumn Mittens.

But I need to finish Kari first.

What else.... books. I did mean to blog a little about some recent reading, and haven't managed to get to it before now. (Gabriela - I did take Middlemarch with me on holiday, but I didn't get to it. It is still in the 'to read' stack, though.) What I did read, however, was a fairly eclectic mix.

First of all, Engleby. I've read books by Sebastian Faulks before, and this is very much a change of style for him. This book is dark and chilling, quite beautifully written, with many subtle layers of meaning. It is compelling. I couldn't put it down, and I will read it again.

The Diary of a Provincial Lady was also on the list - this was pure delight. Dry, witty, ironical, self-deprecating, and very very English in a way that isn't often encountered nowadays - this was originally published in the 1930's. It made me laugh out loud more times than I can recall. Bliss, actually. I didn't want it to finish. This is actually several Provincial Lady titles in a single volume, and I read it all the way through in what felt like a single swoop. If you ever notice that I seem to be developing a tendency to Talk In Capital Letters, then you can very probably blame E.M. Delafield for it.

Cloud Atlas. It's taken me a long time to get to this book, I think most of the civilised world has already read it. I found it very hard to get into the first chapter - I've tried before, and failed - but this time I persisted, and the book so very much rewards this persistence. This is a set of six apparently unconnected biographies, or perhaps histories, with sections from each interleaved throughout the book. As the book progresses, connections start to become apparent, and small events assume a deeper significance. A wonderful book.

There was plenty of other reading as well, but none of it was particularly memorable.

Monday, 20 October 2008


We're back to normal again, after a busy weekend which hopefully was enjoyed by all - I had a good time, at least. I do enjoy cooking, and it is nice to have an excuse to put together some special menus.

Yesterday was mostly spent on the boat, as it turned out that our guests didn't actually need to take the train back until today. We went down to Bradford-on-Avon, which is one of my favourite places - just so lovely, like Bath in miniature - (read about it here and also here) - had lunch in the pub, and then came back again in the usual leisurely fashion which the waterways require. If you're in a hurry on a narrowboat, then you've chosen the wrong method of transport - the only way to get there sooner is to leave earlier.

Knitting hasn't been totally non-existent. I tend to wake at much the same time as usual, no matter how late we've all been talking the evening before, so on Sunday morning at 7.30 I had the house to myself for a bit. I took advantage of this to finish seaming Kari, and take another progress photo.

Since then, I've picked up stitches around the neckline - not the same number as the pattern requires, but a few less. I want the stand collar to grow seamlessly out of the main garment, and it just felt better not to pick up extra stitches. I hope it is going to look alright - I think that it will. The length, by the way, is going to be absolutely fine. I had forgotten about the way that the width of the sleeve tops adds to the overall length.

I ought to get the whole thing finished this evening, the only thing I am not quite sure about is whether to edge the collar with 1x1 ribbing as the pattern says, or 2x2 ribbing as is used for all the other edges. Currently I'm thinking 1x1, not least because that will fit with my stitch count.

I also managed to cast on for the second blue stripey sock on Saturday evening.

I think this colourway is either called Storm or Twilight, although I cannot say that it looks much like either of those things in reality. Nice, though.

I've since finished the ribbing and worked about 40 or so rounds of the leg, whilst we were on the boat yesterday.

Next onto the needles is going to be a pullover for my husband, from Rowan's book Knitting for Him, also sold under the title Classic Knits for Men. I have no idea why companies do this - use one title on this side of the Atlantic and another title for North America. Nor do I have any idea how I came to purchase the US version rather than the UK one - I do know that the books are identical inside though, it is only the cover that varies.

Anyway, he has chosen Wendy Baker's Striped Sweater. The Ravelry link has No Featured Photo, and currently only one project in progress - but the project in question does have a picture of the sweater as shown in the book. Here it is.

My husband doesn't like the Sunset orange stripes, though, and prefers dark red in their place. I think that is probably going to be the only change to the pattern, and at the moment I think that the second largest size is going to be the one.

Lots of knitting in that.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Economy measures

I went along to the Spinning Guild meeting this morning. Just very briefly, I needed to pay my annual subscription, you see. I couldn't stay, because we do have house guests arriving today.

I truly didn't intend to buy anything at all.

But look at this.

This is 800 grams of Suffolk/Jacob cross fleece, washed and carded by somebody who knows what they are about when they do such things - ie, not me. It is surprisingly soft for a Jacob cross, and the colour is lovely, a deep grey/brown. There should be plenty there for a cardigan jacket of some sort, and believe me, I have ideas already as to the pattern.

And the cost? £7.

Yes, really. I rest my case.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Feeling good

I seem to be perpetually amazed at how fast the time goes, at the moment. I am definitely still getting used to my change of routine, and I will admit that I am still very much missing my job - although I'm not missing the drive, not one bit.

Since I stopped working, I spent an inordinate amount of time sleeping over the first couple of weeks - just catching up, I suppose, and dealing with accumulated tiredness, if that makes any sort of sense. Naps in the afternoon that turned out to be four hours long, plus sleeping ten hours or more every night. I caught a nasty cold as well.

That phase is almost over now, I think, and I'm running with seven or eight hours sleep at night and possibly a hour's nap in the afternoon as well - and feeling a whole lot better, too.

The house is looking cleaner and neater, and this makes me happy too - I like having things tidy, clean and organised. I'm writing proper shopping lists, as well. Lists of weekly meals are getting made, I'm trying new recipes, and the fridge is properly stocked - well, most of the time.

The stash is kind of sorted out, as well. I need to do more, and I need to get rid of some of it as well, but it is all in the yarnwall now and not spreading across the floor. My wheel and my spinning chair are free from clutter, I can just sit down and spin, which is how it ought to be. I do need to sort out my patterns, though. Lots of them are only on the computer, and I really ought to print things out and file them if I want to keep them.

We've got house guests this weekend, which will be fun. Lots of cooking, too, of course. I don't know how much I'll actually get done, with regard to knitting.

Ah yes, knitting. The first sock in the current Kaffe Fassett Landscape yarn is finished, but I haven't yet cast on for the second one. It is just so useful being able to do the three needle graft! All that is needed is to break the yarn, the grafting (which is a true Kitchener stitch graft) is done using the needles with which you have been knitting the sock - no yarn needle required, and the tension works out the same as your knitting. If you haven't yet tried this method, please do - I am a complete convert, and can't imagine why it took me so long to catch on to it.

Kari - still going. The back is finished, so are both sleeves. Currently I'm working up the front towards the armhole shaping, and I'm on skein number 6, out of a total of 7. I think I can say with confidence that I am not going to run out of yarn, and I need not have worried.

One thing that I am thinking out, however, is the length. Because my row gauge is a bit compressed - 17 1/2 rows to 4" instead of 16 rows - and because I didn't adjust the raglan shaping at all, the whole thing is a couple of inches shorter than it should be according to the pattern. I've been thinking about how I might add some length to the body. Problem is, of course, that the neckline is going to take a fair bit of yarn, and it is hard to judge exactly how much. I think I will just go ahead and finish the front, seam the raglans and work the neckline, then pin the sides and try it on. If I need more length, I can snip a row and unravel across, work whatever number of extra rows my yarn permits, and graft.

So it will be ok, anyway, albeit with a bit of additional work, and definitely quicker than reknitting all the armhole shaping of both the front and back.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


Despite rumours to the contrary, Kari does really exist.

Here is the back, at the point at where if this were the front, I'd be dividing for the neckline. And I expect that is clear as mud.

Anyway, you can also see what remains of skein number 3 there in the picture. I think that I can be fairly confident now that everything is going to work out nicely, with regard to yarn requirements, despite my compressed row gauge. I'm only going to need half a dozen rows or so from skein number 4 to finish the back - so 7 skeins should be fine, in total. Sigh of relief, I can tell you.

Monday, 13 October 2008


Well, that was fun.

I had no idea what it was going to be like, taking part in a spinning demonstration - I'm not exactly a very experienced spinner, after all. But it was completely fine, and I enjoyed myself. Lots of people wanted to stop and chat, and I do hope that some of them will be inspired to take their interest a step further, and actually try spinning for themselves - because really that's what it's all about.

The other thing, of course, is that sitting next to an experienced spinner all afternoon I have learnt some things myself as well, and now I want to try them out. I still have that washed Shetland fleece, both the moorit one and the white one. My attempts at carding last year were not exactly a success, but I think I might try working straight from the fleece, now I've seen this done.

Not right now, though. I have, after all, spun solidly for three hours this afternoon. Time for some knitting, I think.

Sunday, 12 October 2008


It's been another beautiful day. Perfect autumn weather - chilly nights, foggy mornings until the sun gets up properly and burns off the mists, then warm sunshine all day until the temperature starts to drop in the evening, and the fog starts to form again over the river....

There were a number of things that I wanted to blog about recently that I don't seem to have actually said anything about. For instance, I mentioned a new sock. Here it is.

Yet another Kaffe Fassett Stripe sock, to fit my husband (who does need new socks) and in my usual pattern, which requires no thinking whatsoever. I started this in the car on Tuesday, when we had to go to Bristol for a hospital appointment, and actually reached the beginning of the heel flap by the time we arrived home again. Yes, we were in that waiting room for quite a while.

Kari, I am sorry to say, still hasn't got a photograph, and I am still worried about whether I will have enough yarn. I shouldn't be worried, I do know that these patterns are test knitted, and that the yarn requirements are carefully worked out. But, but.... I still am. Anyway, I've finished the left sleeve and I'm working up through the ribbing on the back at the moment, and I am well into the second ball of yarn out of seven.

Now. Knitting group! I have found one, just down the road from me!

Seriously though, I am rather pleased. When we lived in Hampshire I used to go to a very active knitting group which was an offshoot of the West Surrey Spinning Guild - once a month, in a village hall. And I have really been missing it. I have had problems fitting in knitting group meetings whilst I was working for Rowan, but now I have spare time (when I am not exhausted!) and this does make a difference.

I've been to some meetings of the Bath Stitch N Bitch group, and I shall go back again - and also some meetings of a group at Sutton Benger, unfortunately no longer running - but the one that works best for me is the one I've just discovered.

Craft Chat & Coffee in Bowerhill, near Melksham, every other Friday afternoon. I did enjoy myself! It was so nice to meet other knitters, and see what everyone else is working on. I worked a bit on Kari, and a bit on the sock, but more time was spent chatting than anything else. I am looking forward to the next meeting, definitely!

Later this evening I shall go and work some more on Kari, I think. That ought to be a quick knit, in theory, but it hasn't worked out that way so far.

And also this evening I will be spending some time at my wheel - yes, I am spinning again. The Wiltshire Guild is doing a spinning demonstration tomorrow at Trowbridge Library, and I have - possibly rather rashly? - volunteered to take part. I won't be on my own, thank goodness, otherwise the demonstration might take more the form of 'how not to' instead of 'how to'. But I don't really have any idea what to expect at all.

I shall be working with some rather nice organic merino pencil roving, which came from Natalie at The Yarn Yard. I haven't worked with pencil roving before, so this might be a bit interesting.

It's extremely pretty, though, don't you think?

Friday, 10 October 2008

Gauge, yet again

Friday evening already, and I haven't actually done much knitting over the last few days. Yesterday we had guests here for a large part of the day, and although I did knit a little bit, really I was too busy chatting and making cups of tea.

Kari has not progressed very far at all. I frogged that first sleeve and have nearly reknit it, but gauge is still a problem. Not the stitch gauge, that is absolutely spot on at 14 sts to 4". Just the row gauge - it ought to be 16 rows to 4", and it steadfastly refuses to budge from 17.5 rows to 4". So I will be using more yarn that the pattern writers would have expected. Most annoying.

I have however, decided how to deal with it, and that is thanks to one of our guests yesterday. This lady is in her 80's, and has Alzheimer's, unfortunately.

Such a cruel thing. She is a lovely lady, and on a good day - yesterday was a good day - she shows a wicked sense of humour. She used to have a strong interest in all things fibre related, particularly knitting and spinning, and for many years she was the knitting correspondent for one of the big national newspapers here in the UK. I know that I've read articles that she wrote, many times.

Anyway. I was sitting next to her, knitting away on Kari, and she asked me what I was working on. So I got out the pattern book and showed her the pattern (which she liked) and the yarn (which she loved, as do I) and I told her about my yarn quantities dilemma, and the recalcitrant row gauge. She suggested - and as with most excellent ideas, it is blindingly obvious once someone has pointed it out - she suggested that I plan to change the neckline, and pointed out that the change would make it better suited for me anyway, regardless of whether it turned out that I had enough yarn.

So, I'm going to alter the neckline. This pullover isn't going to have a fold-over collar, it is going to have a drapy stand collar, probably about 2 - 3" in depth, with a narrow ribbed edging to match the other edges on the garment. It will, of course, be much less bulky, and I will be able to wear it under a jacket or a coat. And I shouldn't have a problem with running out of yarn, this way.

The sad thing was that about 2 minutes after making this truly excellent suggestion, she turned to me again and asked me what I was working on? So, I got out the pattern book again.... and then again a few minutes later... and then again.... and so we went on.

She is still a lovely lady.

Lucy news - she is still doing well. Today we took her to the vet for a review, and things seem to have settled down - her back doesn't seem to be giving her any discomfort at all. Now we stop the painkillers, and see how she goes. We can start taking her for gentle walks again, too. She'll love that!

I still have more to talk about - a new knitting group, a new sock started..... but that can wait til tomorrow, I think.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Wednesday (I think)

Wow, busy day.

Finally, here I am, and I've managed to find the camera too - only took 20 minutes. Hah. Anyway, now I can post a picture of the Hooded Tunic.

This is the Hooded Tunic from Rowan's book All Seasons At the Mill, worked (of course) in All Seasons Cotton. The colour is called Cement, shade number 234, and it is a cool blue-grey which I like very much indeed.

I made size L. The pattern says this needs 15 balls, I used 13 - but I did use all of 13 balls, and I did make the body and the sleeves shorter than the pattern indicates, also, I didn't work the belt. So I would suggest getting the amount of yarn recommended by the pattern.

It doesn't look like much on the hanger, that's for certain - but I've been wearing it all day today and I really like the way it looks. The sleeves are just perfect, the gentle waist shaping is just perfect, and the way that the hood lies across my shoulders is really, really flattering, like a soft wide collar. Also worth noting is that it needs something worn underneath, like a singlet, definitely.

If I were to make it again - which I might, it's not impossible - the only thing that I would change is the way that the placket is constructed. The buttonhole cast-on works perfectly here, but the problem comes when you have to slip stitch the placket to the reverse of the other side. I would, I am sure, get a better finish if the double layer of the placket were constructed using appropriate increases. It is fiddly to get it neat, but I've done it before with an excellent result, and I should have done it here.

Lucy news! - she's doing well. She's a lot more comfortable, which is a great relief all round. Back to the vet on Friday.

What else - I've cast on for Kari, from The Cocoon Collection. (You can see it here, second row from the bottom, on the right.)

This is a wide, loose drapy overtop with a cowl neckline. I'm making size L - the pattern says that both size L and XL need 7 balls of yarn, and that's what I've got, but I am nevertheless worried about whether I will have enough.

You see, yesterday I worked the whole of the first sleeve, and it took just over one ball of yarn. So, both sleeves - two and a bit balls. The collar will probably take one ball, I should think. So that leaves less than four balls to work the whole of the back and the front. That just doesn't sound feasible.

What I'm going to do next, I think, is frog that first sleeve and rework it. At the beginning, I did notice that my row gauge was a little off - too many rows to the inch - but it had settled down by the end of the sleeve to the pattern requirements. I shall rework it, and who know, I may manage it with just the one ball of yarn.

I'd feel a lot happier about this project if that happens.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The Last Stitch

Another little trick that I've been using for many years, ever since it occurred to me that this would be a sensible thing to do. I can't think why these things don't seem to be in 'how to knit' books, actually.

You know the problem - that very last stitch, right at the very end, always tends to stick out. Like this.

Just like the stair steps, really - except more so.

Sometimes we want a sharp corner, and sometimes it completely doesn't matter, so it is fine to leave it that way. But if you want to smooth it out - for instance, on a sleeve head, as here - then this is very easy to do. The method, as you've probably guessed already, is along the same lines with which we dealt with the stair steps.

So, when you come to knit that very last stitch in the final cast-off - don't work it. Instead, slip it purlwise.

Apologies for the blurry pictures - we all know that I am no photographer, but apparently I can even get 'point-and-shoot' wrong.

Now you've got just two stitches on your RH needle. Cast off the second stitch as usual, lifting it over the last stitch and off the end of the RH needle. Cut the yarn, leaving a good end as usual for weaving in, and take the end through that last stitch.

Much better, don't you think?

Monday, 6 October 2008

The Stair Step Trick - how to get smooth edges around sleeve heads and along shoulder seams

You know what I mean by stair steps. You'll see them on shoulder shaping, and on sleeve caps - anywhere you cast off a number of stitches on successive rows.

Like this. Familiar, yes? Stair steps.

We are all very used to seeing this. It isn't the easiest thing in the world to deal with when you are seaming the sleeve cap - it would be much better if the whole thing were smoothed out into a nice neat slope, and there weren't any actual steps at all.

So, how about this instead?

Much better. Achieving this smoothing effect is very, very easy indeed. (And yes, I know you could use short row shaping, but this is simpler, and unlike short-row shaping you don't have to think about it at all until you actually get to the cast-off - or more precisely, the very last stitch before the cast-off.)

So, on the row before you are going to work a cast-off - don't work the last stitch. Instead, slip it purlwise.

Then, turn your work. Don't work the first stitch - that's the one you just slipped - instead, slip it purlwise again.

and don't work the second stitch either. Slip that one purlwise as well.

So now you have two stitches on your RH needle, and you are supposed to be casting off here. So treat those two stitches exactly as if you had worked them in the usual way - lift the first stitch over the second one, and drop it off the end of the RH needle.

One stitch cast off.

And then, just carry on with the rest of that block of casting off, working the other stitches and casting them off exactly as normal. When you come to your next block of casting off, treat it in exactly the same way. If it is at the beginning of a purl row, it makes no difference, you still slip those stitches purlwise.

You'll be surprised at the difference that this trick can make - this combination of slipped stitches at the beginning of each little section smooths out that step very nicely.

Just one thing I should add - you don't usually need to use this trick right at the beginning of a cast off sequence. For instance, if you are working a shoulder cast-off - a sharp corner right there at the beginning is not a problem. I'm using it here at the beginning of a row only because this is partway through the shaping of the sleeve head for a set-in sleeve, and I want to smooth the transition between the section worked with decreases and the section worked with casting off.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Neat edges

This is a very simple trick.

The problem is actually due to the last stitch of the row below, which can tend to be looser than the you'd like it to be.

So, on a knit row - put the RH needle into the first stitch as usual -

- and then pull the working yarn up, quite firmly.

This will pull the loop of the stitch from the row below up too, up and partly across the LH needle, taking the slack out of it. Put your finger on it for a moment, just to keep it in place whilst you finish the stitch.

Now take the yarn back down to its usual position, and knit the stitch as usual.

At the beginning of a purl row, it is even simpler. Wrapping the yarn to purl a stitch brings the yarn up at the front - so just make sure that for that first stitch you bring it up firmly.

Result, nice neat edges. I promise.


Goodness, it's as much work as looking after a baby.

Although Lucy is still feeling very sorry for herself, she is definitely not in so much pain now, the medication is doing its work. Last night she slept through til morning, which was a great relief. The previous night was not like that at all. Today she is coming out of the crate readily - yesterday she was sometimes unwilling to leave it. She is still going back in again quite happily as well, but as she continues to improve she is probably going to find it more difficult being confined. Well, we'll deal with it as we come to it. Back to the vet on Friday for a review.....

I've been knitting.

I'm almost finished with the Hooded Tunic now. I've done all the actual knitting, and today I'm seaming it. Current progress has one sleeve set in, the hood all finished and the placket slip stitched in place. So that means one sleeve still to be set in, and the long seams at the sides and along the sleeves still to work. I've actually used less yarn than the pattern says - 13 balls instead of 15. But I have worked both the body and the sleeves just a bit shorter than suggested, so that would be the reason.

I have enough left over to make myself another Lacy Raglan Top for next summer, which is excellent - I really like the one I already have, and it's been worn a lot. This time I shall probably be making the next size down - Medium, to fit 12-14, intead of Large, to fit 16-18. Yay!

I did also work some more on the Salish Sea Sock. This was the final sock kit of 2007 from Blue Moon. I've had it on the needles for a while now, and it won't be finished any time soon - because I've had to frog it. I had picked size L, because it said finished sock circumference 8", and the stitch count around the ball of the foot was 60 sts at 7.5 spi - I'd expect this to fit me nicely. But by the time I was coming to the end of the arch expansion - toe up sock, by the way, with one of Cat Bordhi's unusual construction methods - I tried it on for the first time, and it was definitely too big.

So, I've pulled it right back and I'm working the Medium instead. But I shall get the Hooded Tunic finished first, before I spend much more time on it.

After that..... I think I shall set several projects aside for a while.

Dauphine - I may have to reknit that in a smaller size. I was working size 18, and I am increasingly sure that it is going to be too big. So I'll need to pull it all back and start again, and I don't feel like doing that at the moment, not at all. I shall pick it up again next summer, when it has become clear whether I should make a 16 or a 14.

Cookie - this is not going to be frogged, I shall carry on with it when I want something completely mindless. But right now I don't feel that a large amount of 1x1 ribbing is what I want to work on. So, set aside.

Milli from Rowan 20 - again, doesn't appeal right now. And nor does the Key West pullover which I started last year. Kimono - probably top of the list of UFO's that I do actually want to get finished. Tender, the fisherman's rib pullover from The Calmer Collection - nope, don't feel like it. And I hate to say it, but I am definitely going to frog the Kauni cardigan. I have other plans for that yarn.

So what next? Definitely something woolly - Kari, probably, from The Cocoon Collection. I've got some Rowan Cocoon in Mountain 805 which is a very dark charcoal - I had intended this for a cardigan (Gigi), but I've changed my mind. I won't be starting it until the Hooded Tunic is completely finished, though.

In the meantime, I shall put up some more 'how to' posts, I think. First up, how to get nice neat edges without slipping stitches, twisting stitches, or indeed doing anything other than working them in the normal way - almost. Later today, with luck.

After that, a trick to deal with the 'stair steps' that you get when the pattern says something like 'cast off 4 stitches at the beginning of the next 8 rows'. A smooth curve makes seaming so much easier and neater. And yes, you actually can get a smooth curve this way - and it is extremely easy.

And finally, how to work the very last stitch cast off at the end of a project - you know how it always makes a little sticky-out corner? Well, it is easily dealt with.

Lots of people take these very simple tricks for granted and use them automatically. I've used them all for many years, they just always seemed the logical way to do things - and it never occurred to me that not everyone knew about them. It really wasn't until I started running Drop-In Knitting Clinics that I realised this.

So, if you haven't come across them before, maybe you'll find them helpful. If you know them already, then please just pass them by.

Later, anyway......

Friday, 3 October 2008


Well, all I can say is, thank goodness I am at home now. I don't know how we'd be managing if I was still working.

Lucy our cocker spaniel isn't very well, you see.

She's nearly 9 now, which isn't particularly old for a cocker, but she was very ill indeed last year with acute pancreatitis - we nearly lost her - and she's visibly aged since then. Yesterday morning it was apparent that something was very wrong. Usually when we get up, Lucy comes bouncing up the stairs to remind us that a) she wants to be let out into the garden and b) she wants her breakfast, and why are we being so slow about it all? Yesterday when we were getting up, there was no Lucy to be seen - something was wrong.

When we went downstairs, she was very pleased to see us, but it was apparent that she was in a lot of pain and in particular could not manage to go up steps. So we took her straight in to the vet as an emergency.

It was difficult at first to find out what was wrong, and blood tests gave rise to some suspicion that the pancreatitis might be surfacing again, so the vet kept her in for observation. However this seems to have settled back again today, and she was judged well enough to cope with the anaesthetic needed for an xray - which showed that she has a slipped disc, poor little thing.

The vet has told us that surgery will be incredibly expensive, success is not guaranteed by any means, and that in Lucy's situation it would be quite risky. The other option is complete rest for several weeks, together with some strong anti-inflammatory medication - and needless to say, that's what we are doing.

The vet has been very specific about exactly how we should look after her. So, Lucy is in a crate, which she isn't used to at all. We've put it in a corner of the living room where she can see us and hear us. She has her water bowl in there, together with bedding, and we are taking her out frequently for a few minutes on the lead, to visit the garden and have a very gentle potter around generally. After this she is entirely happy just to go back in there and lie down.

We aren't going to leave her alone until we can see that she is much happier with the whole situation than she is at the moment. So it is indeed a good thing that I don't have to go to work now.

We are just hoping that rest and medication will sort this out, we are not at all ready to lose her.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008


This morning we awoke to blue skies and a brisk breeze which has swept away the rain - all very appropriate really! Also, I have cheered up again.

Here, as promised is the Slouchy Cover-Up.

Not easy getting a photograph of this outdoors today, as it is indeed a bit windy.

This is Sarah Hatton's Slouchy Cover-Up from Rowan Studio 5, knitted here with two strands of Kidsilk Haze in Ice Cream 637 - the pattern is written for one strand of Kidsilk Haze and one of Kidsilk Night. However Kidsilk Haze is of course identical to Kidsilk Night apart from the lack of sparkle, and I didn't fancy sparkle for this, so I used two strands of the same colour Kidsilk Haze.

Size 16 shown here, by the way. Yarn usage was exactly as in the pattern - although I didn't need much of the last two balls at all, just three or four rows along the top of one shoulder at the front, the neck edging, and the seaming. There is no wastage at all with this yarn because it is ideal for felted joins, so the only ends to deal with are the ones from the cast ons and cast offs.

I love this. It is absolutely gorgeous to wear, soft and silky smooth against the skin with no itchiness whatsoever. It drapes beautifully too. The neckline is quite wide on me, and I can either wear it sort of perched on the edge of each shoulder or I can let it just drop off one shoulder a little - I let it do pretty much as it pleases, as I wore it with a black singlet underneath yesterday. This is, by the way, definitely a cover-up and not a top in its own right - because of the translucency of the fabric you definitely need to wear something underneath, unless you are much braver than I am.

It is warm and incredibly light, and I am planning another, in black this time. The only thing that I will change is the neckline, which I think I will make slightly higher in the front. Just a bit, nothing drastic, really just a bit of fine tuning for personal fit. And I might, just possibly, change the neckline width to correspond to size 14. I am still losing weight, and as the shoulders diminish along with the rest of me, this might be a good idea, even if I keep the width of the size 16 for the garment as a whole.

Verdict - an excellent pattern, and a very wearable garment indeed.