Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Finished in 2009

Here's what I've actually managed to finish this year. I did this for both 2007 and 2008 - and it seems a good idea to continue, I think.

Finished in 2009 - 36 projects.

15 sweaters -
13 pairs of socks -
3 hats -
3 scarves -
1 pair of gloves -
and 1 shawl -
Not bad, I think. I haven't equalled my total of 38 projects in 2007, but that did include 20 pairs of socks and only 4 sweaters. But for two years running now, I've managed to finish 15 sweaters. And this year I have managed 13 pairs of socks, as well.

So, what about next year?

On the Rowan Inter Forum on Ravelry, people have been talking about 10 projects for 2010, and I'm definitely up for this.

People have been setting their own individual targets, and I've been thinking about 10 Rowan projects - that's all Rowan, both yarn and pattern. I like Rowan. For me, they've always defined the absolute best in knitting design, and the yarns are wonderful too.

So next year, my aim is 10 pure Rowan projects. Rowan yarn, Rowan pattern, 10 projects, all finished within 2010. And - hopefully - all from stash. That would include Kim Hargreaves patterns - she is definitely still within the 'Rowan family'.

Which 10 projects? - no, I am not going to make a list. That is tempting fate, I've decided.

I'd also like to try to get my Ravelry queue under control - more than one page to a section seems a bit excessive, and I'd like to get all of the sections down to a single page each. But that might be a step too far .......

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Tuesday morning

Onward, as they say.

I've been knitting - in fact, I've been knitting rather a lot. I have a whole project which is now past the halfway mark, that I haven't even mentioned here, up til now.

This is Earnshaw, or part of it at least.

I had 10 skeins of Noro Kochoran in shade 31, which as you can see is a nice melange of greys, taupes, and naturals. I finally stopped debating other options and went back to my original idea, and I'm glad I did.

When I took this picture yesterday, I had finished the back and one sleeve and cast on for the front. Now, I'm past the armhole shaping and almost at the division for the front neck - this is certainly a quick knit. Not surprising, though, with 6mm needles and working at 4 stitches to the inch.

I have added some extra length. At the moment I am liking tunic-length sweaters worn with narrow jeans or thick leggings - very comfortable! - and the smallest size in this pattern works out at 27" in length. So I've added 4 1/2", and I hope that I have judged this correctly so that I don't run out of yarn. This size - and the next size up, as well - is supposed to take 9 skeins, and I started with 10. Hopefully I've added just about half a skein's worth of length to both the front and the back - no other changes.

Anyway I will soon find out. After I finish the front, I shall join the shoulders and work the hood. Then I will be able to weigh my remaining yarn against the finished sleeve that I've already worked, and see if there is enough.

One thing occurs to me - it is rare indeed for me to make size XS in anything at all. Most of the garments in this pattern book - Jane Ellison's Simply Noro - are intended as unisex patterns for garments intended to be worn over other things, and the sizing is very generous. Size XS, for example, has a finished chest measurement of 48".

I'm also trying to work on the Oliver socks, which still aren't finished. And I must cast on for another pair for my mother-in-law, who likes the blue ones I made for her and wears them 'all the time'. So another pair (or two) is definitely in order. We'll be going up to visit again sometime soon - my father-in-law is out of hospital now, by the way - and I hope to be able to take along at least one more finished pair.

Finally, I would just like to say thankyou - so many people have said such kind things. I think you know that Blogger doesn't give me the email addresses of people who leave comments, so writing personally in reply is not so easy. But I am grateful, really.

Lucy was a very pretty little dog with a lovely nature, and she never really grew up. Even in her last months people we met on walks would say, 'What a lovely puppy - how old is she?' - and be very surprised to hear that she was actually quite an old dog. She was small, you see, and always friendly and playful.

The snow has gone now, and her footprints are no longer to be seen in the garden.

And we are glad that we have so many happy memories of her time with us.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The end of a chapter

We've known for the last two weeks that these were her last days. She was having repeated chest infections, and had lost a lot of weight.

The vet had told us that she thought there was 'something sinister' going on, and set out our options, which were quite limited due to her already precarious state of health. She had pancreatitis, and her kidneys were failing. Even if chemotherapy was theoretically possible, the likelihood was that Lucy would not be strong enough to cope with it.

Of course, there was really no decision to make - we did not want her to be in pain. So we chose not to have investigations done - no more tests, no x-rays - but to simply make her as comfortable as possible, even though effective pain relief would probably accelerate the kidney failure.

So the pain relief was started, and immediately she was happier. She slept a lot of the time, but when she was awake, she could be tempted to eat now, and for a while we thought that she might make it through to the New Year.

But in the small hours of Tuesday morning things took a turn for the worse, and even tramadol no longer helped.

By the time the morning came, it was clear that she wasn't going to be with us much longer. At that point, we knew that the only thing we could do for her was to make sure that she didn't have to go through another such episode of pain and distress.

So we took her to the vet, and her passing was easy and pain-free. We stayed with her, holding her and talking quietly to her until we knew she was gone.

Life goes on, of course.

We miss her at unexpected moments all through the day, and there are echoes of her everywhere.

Last night, I thought I heard her sigh in her sleep, as she used to. This morning my husband, sitting on the sofa with his cup of coffee, puts his hand down to where her head used to be as she lay by his side, and finds nothing there.....

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


Today is a sad day in this house.

This morning we lost our little Lucy. It was a hard decision to make, but nowhere near as hard as it was to see her in distress.

She's been in my life for exactly 10 years, that's all.

I don't think I can write any more for a bit.

Monday, 21 December 2009

The turn of the year

The solstice is past - 17:47 today.

This always has meaning for me. Tomorrow, the light will last for longer, and the night will be shorter.

Also, it is snowing outside. I cannot remember when I last saw a white Christmas, but it is looking more and more likely this year.

This afternoon we've been putting up our tree, and later in the week, family will be arriving. It feels really quite festive in a seasonal sort of way.

And that's good.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Sunday evening

I had to miss the Guild meeting yesterday.

My father-in-law has been taken ill, which kind of took priority. He's doing well, and we hope he'll be home for Christmas.

Anyway - the Guild meeting. This is the Wiltshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers, and I've been a member since we moved down here two and a bit years ago. We've been meeting in Rode village hall for a while - Rode is actually in Somerset, which I've only just realised.

For a couple of months now, the Guild has been considering a move to some permanent premises in Steeple Ashton, and on Saturday this was finally put to the vote - and it has been agreed!

I think this is a very exciting move. Our permanent base will now be the former St Mary's School in Steeple Ashton - this is a listed building, and the rooms are lovely, with lots of natural light and plenty of space for looms, spinning wheels, and anything else we might want.

Downstairs at the front of the building is the village shop, but we've got all the upstairs, together with some more rooms behind.

We'll be able to have a knitting group, and there will be spinning groups, with courses for all levels - and weaving, and dyeing..... the only limit is our imagination - and, of course, lots of hard work!

We'll even be able to have a dyer's garden. There are so many possibilities!

I am sorry to have missed the meeting, of course, but fortunately my vote (or rather, the lack thereof) was not crucial.

Still no snow here, but it is getting even colder, and there is lots of ice underfoot. Good weather for staying indoors and knitting, if you ask me.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Friday lunchtime

I finished Lilly a couple of days ago, and today the sun came out, so we can have some pictures.

To recap - this is Lilly, from Rowan's Colourscape Folk Collection. The pattern is by Sarah Hatton, and I made size L.

The pattern says four skeins of yarn for this size, I used three. I've encountered this before with Colourscape patterns, I believe that extra yarn is allowed so that we can play around with the arrangement of the colours, should we wish to. I just knit it as it came along, and I like the result.

The colours are actually quite subdued - shades of grey through to charcoal, with deep greenish teal and greenish duck egg - and very nice they are too.

I made some changes from the pattern, in that I worked this in the round rather than working flat and seaming. The only disadvantage in doing this is that the circular start is not easy to work neatly with such a soft yarn. I used the disappearing loop method, and size 5.5mm needles. I stayed with the 5.5mm needles for the first round, and only then switched to the pattern size needles.

Also, I did not cast off and then on again for the armholes. Instead I worked across the armhole stitches with waste yarn (bamboo tape worked beautifully for this as it is so smooth) not forgetting to work an increase at the right place, and then purled back across those same stitches. Then I worked across them with the project yarn, again, not forgetting an increase at the right place.

When I came to pick up the live stitches for the armhole, I was able to slide the stitches onto a 60cm circ, along one side, and then the other. Unpicking the bamboo tape was easily done, and then all that remained was to pick up some extra stitches at each end, so that the stitch count came out to an even number - because I wanted to work the armhole edging in the round as well.

Very pleased with the result.

And I've picked up Chamonix again - I finished the back yesterday.

This morning I started the first sleeve.

The back used less than 8 balls of yarn - I only broke into ball number 8 for the last few rows. I'll see how many this sleeve takes, then I'll know if I can make the body any longer - I am liking long pullovers at the moment.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Wednesday evening

The weather seems to have suddenly decided that it is winter, and ought to behave accordingly. This morning it was cold. At midday, it was exactly zero degrees. That's Centigrade, of course. Or should I say Celsius? I can never remember which one is correct.

Anyway, it is jolly chilly all of a sudden, and the weather forecasts are talking about snow. Now although it is very pretty - in fact, truly beautiful looking out over the snowy river valley behind our house - I don't much like snow. It is the possibility - or in my case, probability - of slipping that causes the dislike.

But even so, we might have a white Christmas, and I cannot remember the last time that happened.

We still haven't got our tree organised. We have an artificial one, and it lives in its box in the loft for most of the year. Real ones are much nicer, and fill the house with that lovely piney Christmas tree scent - but as the needles start to drop, they are a problem for Lucy, who gets them stuck in her little paws, and that's not nice for her at all. So we don't have a 'real' tree.

Hopefully we'll get it sorted out tomorrow, though. And maybe we'll even put up a few lights this year.

On the knitting front, Lilly is nearly finished. All that's left is the edging around the armholes, and blocking. I might even get that done tonight.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Monday afternoon

It has been a very busy weekend. And yes, the socks did fit my mother-in-law, and she is pleased with them. I shall be making some more for her.

I haven't done much more on Chamonix, but I am still working round and round with Yvonne. This is excellent travel knitting, although it is of course now growing rather slowly as the rounds get longer and longer. I am still on the first ball of yarn, and I am hoping that two balls will be enough to finish it.

Also I am wondering if I will be brave enough to wear this when it is finished. It is certainly bright and colourful. But is it too bright? I am not sure. My husband says it is lovely, and that of course I will wear it. He is usually right, I know.

Yesterday evening I cast on for something else, because somehow I felt in need of a project that could be finished quickly.

This is Lilly, which is basically a circular shrug, and looks like a sort of large hat or bag at the moment.

The pattern is by Sarah Hatton, and can be found in Rowan's Colourscape Folk Collection- I think that's the right name - and also in Issue 9 of The Knitter magazine.

The yarn, of course, is Kaffe Fassett's Colourscape Chunky, and the colourway is called Storm. It is actually quite subdued - shades of grey through to charcoal, with deep greenish teal and duck egg blue. I'm zooming round and round on a 7 mm circ here - it is growing very fast, I am nearly out to the armholes already.

I am making some changes to the pattern. The pattern says to work flat and then seam, but I can see no possible reason for a seam in such a garment. It certainly isn't needed to add stability or structure. So, one stitch less for the initial cast-on, and round and round we go.

It was certainly interesting working a tidy circular start with such a soft yarn. And having just said that I can see no possible reason for working flat and seaming - there is a reason. It really isn't easy to work such a start.

I used the disappearing loop method, for an odd number of stitches. There is a nice tutorial for this on Techknitter's blog, here. Note that the instructions discuss how to cast on an even number of stitches - there is a small but vital change needed for an odd number, and that is noted near the end.

I am pleased with the result, anyway.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Friday morning

Something happened yesterday that was quite disconcerting.

A letter arrived for me, from a company that I'd never heard of. The letter thanked me for my order (?!) and asked me to contact them by telephone.

So I rang them up - I did check first that they were who they purported to be - and they told me that someone giving my name and card details (???!!!) had placed an order with them that came to several hundred pounds, and asked for it to be delivered to an address that was different from the card billing address. When this happens, they have a policy of writing to the cardholder and sending the letter to the billing address, to check that all is as it should be.

Well, I am very glad indeed that they do.

I have no idea how anyone got hold of my card details. It is really quite worrying. But anyway, the card is now blocked, and I have to wait for a new one to arrive.

Now, knitting.

Just a small diversion here. The other day I spotted Julie Weisenberger's new pattern Yvonne, and couldn't resist.

The Kauni cardigan which has been lurking on the needles, unloved, for far too long, has now finally been frogged. There wasn't very much of it, anyway - only a few inches past the edging.

And now I am enjoying knitting this.

Nearly mindless knitting, which is just fine by me at the moment.

Working with Kauni - especially on Addi Turbos - really is a pleasure. I do like yarns with a rustic feel to them, where you know it really is wool - things like Rowan's Scottish Tweed yarns, and Noro Kureyon. This Kauni Effektgarn falls into that category as well. It is quite fine - it feels like fingering weight, but I expect it to bloom and soften with the first wash. And then, of course, there is the colour. Lovely fun.

It did cross my mind to stripe two balls of yarn, but I decided that might possibly be overkill. I'd look like a walking optical illusion, probably. So, no stripes.

I haven't done more than a couple of rows on Chamonix, but I'll get back to it. And the Oliver socks haven't been touched, either - although I will get more done there over the weekend, as we are driving up to see the in-laws (I must remember to take the blue socks and find out whether they fit ) and I will probably be able to knit for most of the journey.

Onward, as they say.....

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Wednesday lunchtime

Chamonix is coming along.

Nobody spotted the mistake I'd made yesterday, including me.

The last set of cable crossings in the two centre cables had been made too soon. It was an easy fix, though. Take the cable stitches off the needle, ladder down an appropriate number of rows, work them back up again with a crochet hook, putting the cable cross at the right place.

Also - did I really say I was going to add 2" to the length? Far too conservative an estimate.

I've actually been able to add 6 1/2", taking the overall length from a far-too-short-to-be-flattering 18 1/2" up to a respectable 25". And it is entirely possible that I may be able to add a bit more.

So far I've used exactly four balls of RYC Cashmere Tweed. The pattern says that size M needs 20 balls, I had 4 more than that.

After I've finished the back, I shall work one of the sleeves. Then I can see how much yarn I've used at that point, and judge accordingly - not forgetting to allow for the collar. If I can add another inch, then there will be some frogging and reknitting.

Worth it, though.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Tuesday afternoon

It is raining again, very grey outside today. And I am knitting something grey, and it is making me very happy.

This is Chamonix, worked in RYC Cashmere Tweed.

This is just so nice to knit. The yarn is soft and luscious and very light - the pattern, as you can see, is interesting but not really too complicated at all, although Rowan rate it as being 'for the more experienced knitter'. And as always with a cabled pattern, it is growing very fast.

I am making some changes. The pattern is for a cropped pullover, which is very wide. Now, I don't mind the width, but I am not keen on the length. So, I am making size M, to fit 36" to 38" bust - the finished measurement will be 44" around. This means that it will have a sensible amount of ease for me, without being too oversized.

The length, however, has to change. The extent of the 'cropped-ness' is clear in the photo above, which was taken at the point where the pattern says to start shaping the armhole. Er, no, I don't think so. I am going to add 2" at the very least, more if I have enough yarn.

Watch this space....

Monday, 7 December 2009

Black Frost - and the best join in the round, ever.

I have finished Black Frost. This picture is not good, and I am blaming the light at this time of year. (Excuses, excuses....)

The pattern here is First Frost, by Heidi Kirrmaier. I used Patons Jet (yes, I still have a bit left) and 5mm needles, worked to the gauge given in the pattern. I worked the 'in between' size measuring 44", for a loose waistcoat, and I left out the buttonholes. And the buttons, of course. I shall fasten this with a pin, when I fasten it.

Verdict - very nice! This pattern would look good worked in a self striping yarn like Kureyon or Silk Garden, to show off the different directions of the knitting. And, who know, I might make another to do just that. But not yet.

I've also finished the first Oliver sock.

You can see here i) the arch shaping, and ii) the contrast toe showing off the fact that I ran out of yarn. It is a design feature.

I have cast on for the second sock, and whilst I think about it, here is a little how-to.

Have a look at the edge of this sock.

At the right hand edge of one of those columns of ribbing is the beginning of the sock - where the join is, in other words.

This is not easy to spot. I think I might actually say 'impossible' - but of course if you were to look at the inside, you'd see the ends woven in. But pretty difficult, to say the least, looking at that picture.

Fourth column from the left.

I rest my case.

So now - The best join for working in the round. Ever. (So far, at any rate.)

This trick, like many good things in knitting, is very simple.

I should just note that the cast on that I have used here is a double start cast on - in other words, this is a long tail cast on, and the tail is doubled yarn. This means that the first stitch cast on is made with doubled yarn as well. This is not an essential for working this join - I'd be showing you my usual long tail cast on, but this sock pattern wants a double start caston, so that's what I've got in these pictures. (I am far too lazy to work the cast on twice. Ahem.)

Also, I am working (as I usually do) with a set of 5 needles.

Right. After casting all the stitches onto one dpn, and then dividing them between dpns as you wish, arrange the dpns so that the working yarn is coming from the end of the needle in your right hand, and the first stitch cast on is at the working end of the needle in your left hand.

In other words, arrange the stitches and needles as usual.

With the needle in your right hand, knit the first stitch on the LH needle - this was the first stitch that you cast on, originally.

Three things to point out here.

Firstly, I am not starting to work with the spare dpn, as you might expect. I am starting to work with the last needle in the round - the one with the working yarn hanging at the end. The reason for this is that if you work the first two or three rounds with the stitches from the first and fourth needles all together on a single needle, the join comes in the middle of that needle. This avoids putting too much stress on the join, and possibly stretching it out.

In other words, it helps. Put the stitches back onto separate needles after, say, three rounds.

Secondly, you can see the yarn tails - doubled yarn, remember - lying in front of my index finger and across the middle finger of my left hand.

And thirdly - usually I'd either work the cast on without a slip knot at the beginning, or else I'd unpick the slip knot and replace it with a twisted loop, before working into it. Because this is a double start cast on, that doesn't work too well. So for that reason only, I'm leaving the slip knot at the beginning - that's the first stitch that I am working into. Normally, there would be no slip knot.

Now - the yarn tail(s) are the key. Take the yarn tail(s) and bring them up in front of the work, between the needles, and drop them down at the back of the work.

And that's it.

Snug everything up nicely - tuck the yarn tails down neatly, give the working yarn just a little tug, don't make it too tight - and knit on.

You will, I promise, find that you have a lovely neat join.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Friday evening

It's been a quiet week here. I seem to have spent a quite inordinate amount of time sleeping, and this means that knitting time has been correspondingly reduced.

However, the Oliver socks are ticking along, and I might finish the first one tomorrow.

This is St Ives sock yarn, and I can't remember the name of the colour. It is a tweeded mixture of green and brown, and the yarn is a nice straightforward sock yarn with a sensible amount of twist. It handles nicely, has no tendency to split, and I expect it will end up nice and soft with the first wash, as is usual for sock yarn. I would definitely use this stuff again, if I could remember where I bought it. I do recall that it was cheap.

One thing I have discovered is that these socks will need more then 100 gm of yarn. I don't usually knit man-sized socks on 2.25mm needles, with a 72 stitch cast on. Usually it is a 2.5mm needle, and a 64 stitch cast on. Working with the smaller needles and the bigger stitch count means that one 50gram ball isn't going to be enough, and I shall have to work the toe in a contrast yarn, as the pattern suggests.

I'm not so pleased about this, although my husband says it will be a smart result. I do think that if I'd worked the contrast heel as well (which is what the pattern says to do, and I chose not to) then it would look better. I have a strong suspicion that just working the toes in a different colour succeeds only in making it apparent to all that I've run out of yarn.

Which is, of course, the case. Never mind.

I am enjoying knitting these socks, and my husband says that they look interesting. If they fit him as well as I hope they will, then I have in mind to design some arch-shaped socks in sizes that would fit both myself and my husband - these would only take the usual 100 grams of sock yarn. I do have some more St Ives in a dark red, and I might use that to work out a pattern.

Black Frost remains unseamed and unbordered; the Noro Kochoran remains unswatched. But I'll get there eventually.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Tuesday evening

Sometimes I amaze myself. Posting two days in succession hasn't happened very often lately.

I finished the Even More Boring Socks.

Lang Megaboots Stretch again, 2.5mm needles and my usual pattern for socks to fit my husband. Initially I didn't like this yarn - it doesn't have a very firm twist and it has a tendency to split, but despite this I've now decided that it is actually quite nice. It makes a nice soft tweedy fabric, anyway. And my husband likes the socks, and that's what really matters.

I've been trying hard to take some pictures of myself wearing Kaari, but I think I am going to have to give up. The light is not good at this time of year, and I find that I have to steady the camera with both hands if I want the result to actually be in focus -

- and that is still pretty useless, except to show that I did indeed add some length.

But it is a nice pullover, and I am wearing it quite a lot at the moment. I have discovered that it is quite tickly at the neckline - maybe it is the alpaca? I've had that problem before. Anyway, I tuck a little silk scarf in at the neck, and that solves the problem.

I still haven't cast on for Chamonix, because I am still dithering over the choice of size. This means that I do not have a major project on the needles, which is quite unusual, and because I have finished the Even More Boring socks, I don't have any mindless knitting, either.

This won't do, of course. At the moment I am looking at my bag of Noro Kochoran and thinking about an Einstein Coat, which would solve both issues. However, some swatching is required, I think - the Einstein wants 3.25spi, and the Kochoran likes 4spi. I'll see if I can find a happy medium.

I did block Black Frost yesterday, but I haven't worked the yoke seams yet. Maybe tomorrow.

And in the meantime I have just cast on for some Oliver socks, using some rather old St Ives sock wool, and I am looking forward to working the interesting arch shaping.

Finally, a nice lady emailed me today and asked if I'd consider linking to her article about free knitting patterns online, and I am happy to do so. I did know most of these, but there are a couple of new ones to explore.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Monday morning

It's a lovely morning here. It is just pleasantly cool, the sun is coming through the clouds and the rain has stopped for the time being. If this were February, I'd be saying that it felt like spring.

Yesterday it poured down all day, and I stayed indoors and knitted.

This odd-looking thing is the result. All the main parts of First Frost are now finished - there is minimal seaming in this garment. My husband is puzzled as to what on earth I am knitting, and that's not surprising really. I am not going to enlighten him just yet.

I intended to make this quite wide and loose and at the moment I'm wondering if I've overdone it slightly. Well, I'll soon find out, because there will now be blocking - in other words I will attack this thing with the steam iron. Then there are two short seams to work, and then there is the edging. I'm not going to put any buttons (or buttonholes) on it.

The shaping of the two front sections was interesting. The first one felt extremely cryptic - blindly following the pattern, never my favourite way of working, and of course it is not symmetrical - but the second one seemed entirely logical and obvious. Funny how that goes.

Anyway, I'll get this blocked in a minute, and then later this morning we are going Christmas shopping. I'm not sure whether I'm looking forward to that or not.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Saturday afternoon

Another week flies by like lightning. I've got just one finished project today. Would have been two, but there was frogging because I found another pattern that I liked better.

First, then, the very non-standard blue socks.

For my mother-in-law, who is having problems with swelling of the feet and ankles, and finds shop-bought socks very uncomfortable to wear. I very much hope that these will fit her comfortably. We'll be going up to visit soon - maybe next week? - and then I'll find out. Once I've sorted out a pattern that fits nicely, then I'll make her a few more pairs.

Just for the record - and also so that there is a note of this somewhere whilst I still remember exactly what I did (!) - these are worked in Opal sock yarn on 2.5mm needles, top down, with a cast on of 78 stitches. 10 rounds of 1x1 ribbing, then 50 rounds of stocking stitch. Heel flap worked in heel stitch over 40 stitches, for 36 rows, then a round heel turn followed by picking up 18 sts each side of the heel flap. Gusset decreases worked every other row down to a stitch count of 64. Foot worked for 60 rounds from where the stitches were picked up along the heel flap, wedge toe worked with decreases every other round down to 28 stitches, then every round down to 16 stitches. Finished with three-needle grafting, 8 stitches from the top of the sock grafted to 8 from the sole.

Now, frogging was mentioned. I had just about finished Asta, using yet more of my incredibly cheap Patons Jet from Kemps, when I spotted First Frost. And I wanted it. And if I frogged Asta, then I'd have enough Jet to make it. So now, I have this to show -

This little waistcoat has a very interesting construction method, as you might guess. What you see there comprises the yoke sections of the two fronts, which are shaped at the shoulders with some short rows. These sections are then joined with a cast-on section in between them, and the back is worked downwards from the shoulders.

The shaping is lovely, although I do have to pay attention. There are things to do at each edge, and also some centre shaping worked at the same time. I've already had to pull back about 20 rows because I discovered that I had worked a decrease where I shouldn't have.

Anyway, fun to knit, because I like this detailed shaping. And the rest looks fun too - the fronts are worked sideways, with stitches picked up along the side edges of the back. And there is a garter stitch edging to finish the whole thing off.

This pattern is written with great attention to detail - I've admired Heidi Kirrmaier's patterns before, she designs using drape and shape to flatter, and that sounds good to me.

Why I wasn't paying attention is also worth mentioning. I like to read whilst I'm knitting, and the book I am currently reading is Sarah Waters' latest title, The Little Stranger, from the local library. (I do love my local library!) And I can't put it down.....

So on that note, I am going to go and find out what happens next. (More frogging if I'm not careful, but that's not what I mean......!)

Except - I nearly forgot. Have you seen this? I think this is the most beautiful use of handspun that I've seen for ages. And that's knitted with singles, which makes me even more in awe. Just lovely.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Saturday evening

Spinning Guild AGM this morning.

The guild is considering a rather interesting move for next year. There is a listed building in a nearby village, which used to be an infant school, now vacant - the guild is thinking about this as a permanent base, which would be available to members all the time.

Amongst a whole lot of other possibilities - classes, all sorts of different groups, knitting, felting, dyeing - it would also mean that there could be regular spinning bees - I must admit that I do miss the weekly spinning bees of the West Surrey Guild. I do hope that it all comes together.

I meant to post this earlier in the week - I finished Jyri on Wednesday.

Four balls of Patons Jet, on 5mm needles. Pattern by Norah Gaughan, from Berocco's Norah Gaughan Vol 1.

This was fun to knit, and grew surprisingly fast. It is very warm to wear!

There has not been very much progress with Chamonix, because I was struck with sudden indecision as to which size to make. This pullover is supposed to be quite wide and cropped - now, the cropped bit is not something I am so keen on, so I was going to add length to bring it to my 'ideal short sweater length' according to Sally Melville's formula in her most recent book. (This is calculated according to your body proportions and height, and it works. I did lots of measuring, and thinking about what worked in my wardrobe and why - and my conclusion was that Sally has it right. Her formula for sweater lengths is now the gold standard, as far as I am concerned.)

And now I have lost track of what I was saying.... yes, sizing. I suddenly thought that I ought to be making size L, not M. And then I thought that I wouldn't have enough yarn, if I was going to make that size, and add the length I needed - so I stopped.

Currently I've gone back to my original idea - size M, which will be wide but not overly so, and add several inches of length.

However at the moment I am working on something else, because my husband reminded me that I promised my mother in law some socks. At the moment she is unfortunately having a lot of problems with swelling in her feet and ankles, and finding that shop bought socks are very uncomfortable to wear, so I offered to make her a pair that would fit.

I took a measurement around the ankle, and around the ball of the foot. These are going to be very non-standard socks, of course, and I'm having some difficulty visualising that what is coming off my needles is actually going to fit. The decision of how much negative ease to allow was a bit problematic - my first attempt was made with one inch of neg ease, and it looked just enormous. I pulled it back and reworked with more negative ease - roughly 15%. This attempt is looking a bit more possible, but I do wish I could try it on the foot in question. Not possible just yet, though.

On another note, I've been thinking for a while that I might say something here about why I am not yet back up to speed again, after the surgery at the end of June. I've mentioned before that I've been told that I will have to have some more surgery, because some of the mesh is misbehaving and needs to be repaired. At the time I was really disappointed - I'd very much hoped that it was all done and dusted. But I think I've got my head round this now, and I'd really like to just get it over with, as soon as possible.

But that isn't really the main problem. The main problem is pain - and this is hard to talk about. Because we hate making a fuss about things like this, don't we.... we ought to cope, and take things in our stride, and not let things get us down.....

Except that life isn't always quite like that.

Anyway. I've been looking forward to getting back to normal again, but that just hasn't happened. It is a long story and I won't bore you with the details, but it turns out that this is neuropathic pain, that it can't be dealt with easily, and so they've referred me to the Pain Clinic. There is a long waiting list, and I haven't got an appointment yet. In the meantime, they've started me with some medication which is supposed to help - and indeed it does seem to have brought it down a notch or two. However it also makes me very tired, and a bit loopy. Or perhaps I should say a bit more loopy than usual.

So that's why I'm sleeping rather a lot at the moment.

This is your loopy knitting correspondent, signing off for the evening......

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Kaari is finished.

I am very pleased indeed with this. I did take rather a long time seaming the pocket section, but that doesn't reflect the difficulty of the job, more the fact that I haven't had a lot of daylight knitting time over the last few days.

This pattern is excellent. The neckline looks initially as if it is not going to sit correctly at the tops of the sleeves, but (of course) it does work, beautifully. Ms Gaughan knows her business.

I made the third size, to fit bust 40", which actually measures 44" around at underarm level, and the only thing that I changed was to add a couple of inches to the length, after reading comments on Ravelry where people wished they had done that. Ravelry is so useful! Oh, and I worked the neckline one inch less than the pattern says, because I am not keen on high necks. Turns out it would have been ok as written.

So, to recap - Kaari is by Norah Gaughan, and you'll find the pattern in Berroco's Norah Gaughan Volume 1. The recommended yarn is Berroco Pure Merino Heather - 16 balls for the third size, which would work out at 1344 metres. I used Patons Jet (on 5mm needles to get gauge) and this pullover took 15 balls with minimal leftovers - really minimal I mean, just a couple of yards. So that is just about 1110 metres, and considering that I added a couple of inches to the length, I think it is safe to say that the yarn requirements given in the pattern are generous. But please do bear in mind that I used felted joins throughout - that does make quite a difference.

Verdict - very nice! I plan to make another in cotton.

Jyri is coming along nicely.

My husband says it looks like woolly egg cartons, and he is absolutely right. This is pleasant mindless knitting (well, nearly mindless) for the evenings at the moment.

The main thing today, though, is going to be Chamonix. I plan to cast on after lunch.

Grey cashmere, mmmm.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Saturday evening

Karn is finished.

This was fun to knit, because of the irregularly spaced rows of brioche rib - and quick, too. It is worked flat and seamed - and yes, I know that you can work brioche rib in the round, but it is so simple when worked flat, and I have no problem with a bit of seaming.

This took less than 3 balls of Patons Jet. I worked on 5mm needles, and added an inch to the length, because I have a big head. Ahem.

Kaari is still not finished.

I did finish all the raglan seams, and the sleeve seams as well, and I've been taking my time working the neckline.

I like this. First of all there is a bit of 2x2 ribbing, then you switch to reverse stocking stitch - I worked an inch less than the pattern says - and finally the pattern says cast off loosely, fold to the inside and stitch in place. Awkward thing that I am, I always have to change things - so I grafted the live stitches (purlwise) to the pickup round, on the inside of course. It has worked rather well, if I do say so myself.

It turns out that this is a good neckline for me. I do not have a long elegant neck, it is more along the lines of short and stumpy, so tall necklines make me look as if I either have no neck at all, or alternatively am slowly disappearing inside the pullover in question, a bit like a tortoise retreating into its shell. Basically, not a good look.

Wide necklines, however, work nicely. And this, with its softly rolled edge, is flattering. That is good.

All that is left now is the side seams, which need to incorporate the side edges of the pocket section, of course, and also there is the rest of the seaming to do on the pockets. Daylight is needed for that, so it will have to wait for tomorrow.

I have cast on for Jyri.

That isn't a very useful picture, probably, but you get the idea. Lots of stitches, anyway, and a simple 8 stitch lace pattern with a 12 row repeat.

I do seem to be on something of a Norah Gaughan jag at the moment. I'm looking at Asta now, as well......

However, Chamonix is calling. As soon as I've finished Kaari, I shall cast on. I have resolved that saving the good stuff for some unspecified 'later' is pointless. Knit with it now!

And I do want to try to reduce my queue, as well. Currently it stands at just over 200 items, which is rather a lot. I shall try to make at least one item from each category. That will do to be going on with, and it might even be achievable, too.

Hmmm, that means a Starmore will finally get onto the needles around here. Which one, though?

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Wednesday afternoon

Kaari is nearly finished.

I just have to finish seaming the raglans, work the neck, and do the rest of the finishing. It is easy pleasant work seaming this nice fabric, but I do find that I need daylight - black yarn, you know - so it isn't going that fast.

I've got plenty of this excellent yarn left over (Patons Jet - 70% wool 30% alpaca, and very nice it is, too) and I've been looking through the pattern booklet that contains Kaari, to see what might catch my eye - as you do. And so, as you do - well, as I do, anyway - I cast on for something else - purely on impulse.

This is Karn.

The ridged rib is produced by switching between ordinary 1x1 ribbing, and brioche rib. It makes a beautifully squishy fabric - positively lush - and brioche rib is always fun to work.

So this is keeping me occupied whilst I'm not actually working on Kaari.

And after this? - before I start Chamonix, I mean?

More black textural fabric, I think. Probably Jyri....

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Saturday morning

It has crossed my mind that knitting in black yarn does not make for interesting blog posts. The problem being, of course, the pictures. Photographing black yarn is not easy in the first place, and to make the pictures look even remotely interesting is even harder - at least, it is for me.

So you will have to take my word for it that I am continuing to work on Kaari, because I'm not going to inflict on you a picture of an amorphous black blob. I'm past the ribbing on the front now, and starting to look forward to the seaming.

Yes, I look forward to seaming.

I used to dislike seaming garments, and there used to be garments in various stages of dissassembly lurking in bags around the house. No more, though. Since I discovered mattress stitch, quite a few years ago now, seaming is a positive pleasure.

I just love seeing the whole thing come together. For me, knitting is about the product as much as the process. I do wear my handknits, you see. It is a rare day that I don't have at least one handknit item about my person, even if it is only a pair of handknit socks, or a scarf or hat to be worn when taking the dog for a walk. (Today it is my Grey Navigator, with a fairly ancient pair of black track suit trousers from M & S. Plus an old pair of handknit socks. And no, that is not very glamorous, but there you go)

So I am looking forward to putting Kaari together, and also I am currently thinking about what I shall knit after Kaari is finished. Something small maybe? - another quick project? These picot edged cashmere gloves come to mind. I have some oddments of Rowan Baby Alpaca DK in gooseberry, left over from making Viv. Gloves are quicker even than socks, and this project is a distinct possibility.

Last month, I said that before the end of the year I wanted to make Kaari, something in Noro yarn - probably either Earnshaw or the Y680 cardigan, and also Hudson, because of the cables.

Well, Kaari is going to be finished soon. And I am still looking forward to something in Noro, and I still haven't quite decided between the intarsia Y680 cardigan, and Earnshaw. And I still want to knit something with cables.

But at the moment, I am thinking that instead of Hudson, I will finally cast on for Chamonix.

As you can see, this is a cropped cabled pullover. It is worked in Rowan Classic Cashmere Tweed, which is luscious, has amazing yardage, and sadly is now discontinued. But I have enough to make this pullover.

There are two different neckline treatments given in the pattern. There is the polo neck shown in the picture - and yes, they've made the collar the wrong way round there, the reverse side of the work should not be facing out, the fabric is actually the same cabled rib as the lower edge - and there is a short turnback collar in the same fabric, which is what I would choose, because I don't have a long elegant neck and polo necks do not suit me.

I'd add some length, as well. The pattern says that the medium size measures 18 1/2" in length, and that is definitely a bit short for me. I've got some extra yarn - I almost always get extra yarn, just in case - and I'll see how much additional length I can manage. I am not wanting a long slouchy pullover here, just a normal short sweater length. About like Clovelly, if I can manage it - a bit shorter than my Grey Navigator.

And yes, grey yarn. I like grey.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Tuesday morning

It is absolutely pouring with rain outside. I've got the house to myself, apart from Lucy, because my other half has gone off to his art class. Even so, I'm perfectly content.

Kaari is coming along - I'm working on the second sleeve now. I'm not even going to attempt a picture of black knitting on a day like today, even with a daylight lamp. So here is a picture of my 'work' corner instead.

And very convenient it is too.

Sometimes the wheel is in front of the chair, sometimes it is the needlepoint frame. That really was a good purchase - I've had it for some years, and it makes such a difference both to the finished result and to the ease of working.

I'm still spending more time on the needlepoint that I am knitting at the moment. I'm not sure why I am suddenly feeling so drawn to it - it is probably the colours, which are lovely, and a real pleasure as the light gets greyer day by day at this time of year.

You know, that Mr Fassett definitely knows his stuff.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Sunday evening

Kaari has been making quite good progress, considering.

I've now finished the back as well as the pockets. They do look a bit unprepossessing here, but the fabric is nice. I've cast on for the first sleeve now, but I haven't got much past the ribbing.

Patons Jet is a very well behaved yarn, actually. Although this is black yarn, I can work with it in the evening with no difficulties at all, as long as I don't want to count rows. It has no tendency to split and is very pleasant to work with. I wish now that I'd got some more of it in Kemp's clearance.

I'd have got a lot more of this done if I hadn't rediscovered my needlepoint. We've decided that some new cushions for the sitting room are in order, and I've had a Kaffe Fassett cushion cover on the frame for a long, long time - in fact I think it was on the frame when we moved into this house, and that's more than two years ago.

Time I got it finished, definitely.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Thursday evening

I finished the Cashmere Dean Street Hat yesterday, and I really am very pleased with it.

I had plenty of yarn. I used three and a bit skeins of RYC Cashmere Tweed. If I hadn't added half an inch to the length -necessary because of my large head and because I like hats to cover my ears - then three skeins would have done it.

The fit is perfect, and I think that I have here the ultimate non-itchy hat. Very warm and light, too, of course.

Also, I took out the picot cast-off on the Cashmere Fetchings, and worked an ordinary bind off. The fit is much improved, and I am completely happy with these now.

They go nicely with the Dean Street Hat, too.

Back to Kaari, now.

Lucy is doing better. We had a very worrying 24 hours - she was really rather ill. It turned out that the pancreatitis had come back again, and she had a nasty chest infection as well.

Monday night was not good. We sat up with her overnight because her breathing was so difficult, and at several points we thought she had gone - but by the morning she was considerably brighter, and during Tuesday she continued to improve. Today her appetite is completely back to normal and she isn't coughing at all. Thank goodness for antibiotics.

And I am coming to terms with the fact that I will have to have more surgery. This is definite. I don't yet know when it will be - soon, I hope! - and it is also not clear yet exactly how much will need to be done. There is a test coming up which ought to clarify this, but I haven't got a date for that yet, either.

In the meantime, I'm glad I've got my knitting.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Monday morning

Yesterday I felt the need for something different, something that could be finished quickly. And here is the result - Cashmere Fetchings.

The pattern, of course, is Fetching, by Cheryl Niamath. I made these in a single day - they really are an extremely quick knit - and I used less than one ball of RYC Cashmere Tweed, now sadly discontinued. This is the same yarn that I used for Susie earlier in the year - I had some leftovers.

I've still got a bit more of this yarn, so I've now cast on for the Dean Street Hat in size L (fits 18" - 24") because my head measures 23 1/2". At the moment I'm wondering if it is going to end up being too loose - this is lovely yarn but it doesn't have a whole lot of fibre memory. When I've got a bit more fabric on the needles I'll try it on and see what it's like for fit.

We are off to the vet with Lucy this morning, she's been off her food for a few days and this morning she is coughing and is very subdued, poor little thing. So we'll see what the vet can do to help her.

Sunday, 25 October 2009


I have finally finished sweater number twelve this year - so that's NaKniSweMoDo finished for 2009 as well.

Here is my Lavender & Lichen sweater. This is made from just 4 skeins of Peace Fleece DK, in a hand-dyed colourway that was available a few years back, called Lavender & Lichen.

The pattern is basically Josie's Crewneck, again from Peace Fleece, but with a fair number of modifications. I made the sleeves narrower and also a bit shorter, because I don't like sleeves that come down over my hands. I also added extra length to the body - this involved picking up stitches all the way round, snipping and unpicking the row below to detach the ribbing, and then working down. The lower edges were all finished with 2x2 ribbing followed by a round of purl, and then a sewn cast-off. This gives a nice rounded edge in reverse stocking stitch.

The four skeins were all rather different in terms of colour distribution - I didn't worry about this, but just let the randomness do what it would.

The end result is a warm light pullover that will be very useful through autumn and winter.

I do like the colours. Normally anything remotely pink would never make it onto my needles, but this somehow works rather well.

I also finished the travel socks in Lang Megaboots Stretch - now christened the Boring Socks, because they were, rather.

The finished result is a nice straightforward pair of socks for my husband, but I won't be buying this yarn again. It is rather softer than I like for a sock yarn - I prefer a yarn with a bit more twist.

The colours are pretty, though.

Next onto the needles - another pair of travel socks in yet more Lang Megaboots Stretch, in shades of grey. These are definitely the Even More Boring Socks. No picture yet....

And I have cast on for Kaari. I am using Patons Jet for this, in black. I did swatch, because the pattern gauge is not the same as the manufacturer's recommended gauge for this yarn. So I'm using smaller needles than recommended for this yarn, in order to get the pattern gauge. I'm entirely happy with the fabric, so that's ok.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Wednesday evening

It's been an interesting week.

Last time I was writing, we were partway through rearranging the first floor of the house. Well, the next day we heard from some friends, who were in this part of the country and wanted to drop in and see us at the weekend - and stay for a couple of nights.

Cue mad rush to get the rearranging finished.

We did manage it, and the two rooms now both work really well, and also look really good, we think. I've got more room for my spinning, the stash is better organised, and my husband has more room for his painting. The spare room is better, too - it is still a good sized double room, but it is cosier. It is also quieter - no trains immediately outside the window, as there are at the back of the house.

So, a couple of extremely busy days there, and then a lovely weekend with our friends. We took them out on the boat on Sunday - it was so cold! - and we moored up near a nice pub for lunch. They were interested to explore the Tithe Barn after lunch, and then we turned the boat and made our way back to the marina at the end of the afternoon.

I have done a little knitting, but truly only a little.

The Lang Megaboots socks are finished, but unphotographed. And the Lavender & Lichen pullover is nearly finished as well - maybe. I am just about to complete the last sleeve, but I think I want to add a bit more length to the body, so I'm probably going to pick up stitches all the way around, snip a row and unpick, then knit down for another couple of inches before reworking the ribbing. Or I could graft it back on again, that might be quicker, and it would certainly avoid the lengthy sewn castoff that would otherwise be needed.

But I have been spinning. I am just finishing the last of the chestnut alpaca - I think I've finally got the hang of this stuff.

When I started working on it, I had all sorts of trouble. Alpaca isn't like wool - it has no crimp at all, and it is slippery - I did take a little while to get used to it.

Anyway, I've finished one skein of nice 3 ply yarn which has turned out about worsted weight, and I will get a second skein plied up tomorrow - that's chain plying, by the way, because I didn't divide it up before I started. This way, all the singles get used up, and I like that. I still have to finish both skeins with a bit of a wash, and then I will see how much they soften up - I'm already quite pleased with them, actually. I've heard that alpaca can turn out like wire if you aren't careful, so I was trying very hard to add only as much twist as was needed to hold the singles together, and the plied yarn has turned out nice and squooshy.

I still like the idea of finishing something from each category of my queue, for next year. However it does cross my mind that I ought to give some attention to things that are hibernating...... there are several things that have been on the needles for ages.