Friday, 27 February 2009


The end of the week already...

Knitting has progressed from being completely non-existent, through infrequent, back to a more normal level. However the poor Earth Stripe Curtain hasn't even made it out of the knitting bag for the entire week. So much for averaging two or three rows a day! Maybe I will catch up, but I think that my days of setting targets for myself are over, that is something that doesn't add a thing to the knitting experience. I really don't want to worry about what I have or have not been able to do.

Along those lines, however, there has been some degree of consideration regarding NaKniSweMoDo, because I'm not exactly storming along here.

The back of Cashmere Susie is finished, and I've started the left front.

As I said, not exactly storming along here. But all is not yet lost. Twelve finished in the course of 2009 is my goal, and this will be the third so far.

I know what I'm doing next, though. I had thought of working this year entirely from stash or handspun, but that idea didn't last long once I spotted the Rowan sale at Kemp's.

This is Rowan Country, now discontinued, in a colour called Willow. It is going to be a pullover for my husband - Rugged from Rowan 42. I think it is unlikely that I will work the contrast edging on the collar, although the possibility of a bit of the leftover grey Polar creeping in there hasn't been ruled out completely.

I managed to talk my husband into this even though he officially doesn't like Aran knitting, because a single plaited cable up each arm is all there is to deal with. He's decided that he doesn't mind that - and I haven't worked cables for ages and they are something that I do enjoy, so there we are.

I've seen comments that the sleeves of this pattern are strangely wide and long, but my husband has big arms so I don't anticipate too many problems there, however I'll keep that under review.

Finally the travel sock has made some progress.

I need to alter the placement of the gusset shaping on the second sock, so that the decrease line is three stitches in instead of two - then it will look more harmonious with the 3x1 ribbing on the top of the foot. Otherwise this has worked well.

I think you can see the extended heel stitch section there - I've continued working heel stitch through the heel turn and along the sole of the sock until the gusset decreases were finished. This really ought to become a fixed feature of my husband's socks.

Not that I mind darning, but prevention is better than cure, don't you know.

Saturday, 21 February 2009


I am not very well.

As usual, I've been slow to admit it - if I was honest with myself, Wednesday wasn't brilliant and Thursday really wasn't too good at all - but yesterday morning I was feeling so unbelievably bad that even I couldn't kid myself that things were remotely ok.

Fortunately the NHS was absolutely there for me. At about 8:15 in the morning I rang the hospital ward where I had a procedure done a couple of weeks ago - looking at the symptom list on the discharge information that they gave me, you know the sort of thing - if you should develop symptoms x, y, or z, then call us! do not hang around and wait to see if it goes away! - and they told me to go straight to my GP. So I called the GP, and lo and behold, a 9am appointment was there waiting for me, and by 9:20 we were headed home with antibiotics and pain pills.

So the rest of Friday was something of a blur.

And I think I'm going to just carry on with all that, as appropriate, until I start to feel better, thankyou very much.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Invisible knitting

I have been knitting, I swear I have. But it seems that there isn't anything to show for it. The results of my efforts are, if not exactly invisible, then at least imperceptible.

I'm talking about the Earth Stripe Curtain here, of course.

It is really very pretty..... five colours in play so far, two more still to come. But it is certainly slow progress.

This is worked on the same size needles as the Earth Stripe Wrap, but with single yarn instead of with two strands held together. The tension is a little different, too.

Anyway, for this curtain, I have something close to three times more stitches on the needle than the Earth Stripe Wrap requires. And the length of the curtain is going to be approaching double that of the Wrap. I've been doing some arithmetic, and I can tell you that this Curtain has more than 5 times the total number of stitches for the Wrap.

So that's like knitting 5 and a bit Earth Stripe Wraps one after another, and that did make me pause, I can tell you.

This is going to take a long time.

I started it on the 13th of this month, and I've done just 17 rows so far. But if I can continue to get at least three rows finished each day - or even four? - then it will be done before the end of the year. That'll do.

I'm not going to put up another picture of Susie just yet. I have been working on it, but I still haven't got to the armhole shaping on the back and really it looks the same as it did before. Invisible knitting, don't you know.

What else - the travelling sock. Progress here is not invisible.

The colours are very true here - it is looking rather nice, actually..

I am working a slight variation here on my usual pattern, apart from the obvious 3x1 ribbing. My husband's socks always go into holes at exactly the same place, underneath the heel. So I have decided that it would be sensible to work heel stitch not just through the heel flap, but to continue through the heel turn and along the underside of the heel, in order to pre-empt this. I think I shall continue with the heel stitch section on the sole until the gusset shaping is finished, that ought to cover it.

Can't think why this didn't occur to me months ago. Well, better late than never.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Accentuate the positive

It has occurred to me that yesterday nobody knew what I was on about with the title. But it seems more appropriate the usual way around today, so that's what we've got.

I do feel very positive indeed about this knitting, it is so lovely.

I know, it's beige.

But it isn't just beige. There are tiny little flecks of gold, and turquoise, and red, and green. Nothing overt, nothing in-your-face. Subtle. And beautiful.

Can you see? Believe me, this yarn is lovely. I've never knitted with aran-weight cashmere before, and now I know exactly what I've been missing.

Also, I found this on Heather's blog, and this seems pretty positive too.

Your Word is "Peace"

You see life as precious, and you wish everyone was safe, happy, and taken care of.

Social justice, human rights, and peace for all nations are all important to you.

While you can't stop war, you try to be as calm and compassionate as possible in your everyday life.

You promote harmony and cooperation. You're always willing to meet someone a little more than halfway.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Accentuate the negative

There was actually quite a lot of knitting yesterday, and I have exactly nothing at all to show for it, because it has all been frogged.

The current project is Susie, in Rowan Classic Cashmere Tweed (yum)....

The pattern is written for Rowan Classic Natural Silk Aran. The recommended tensions are exactly the same, but the suggested needle sizes are very different. This makes sense, the two yarns are very different. The Natural Silk Aran is a multistrand yarn made from viscose, silk, and linen - I know that Ravelry says it's a plied yarn, but believe me it is a multistrand. And the Cashmere Tweed has a soft, quite stretchy, chained construction, 90% cashmere and 10% silk. Yes, 90%. I said it was gorgeous, and it really is. The Natural Silk Aran has 4.5mm needles suggested - the Cashmere Tweed, 6mm. Quite a difference.

So I swatched with 6mm, and before I even did any measuring, I knew that I didn't like the fabric - it was too loose and open. Checking the gauge confirmed that this needle size wasn't what I wanted. Going down a needle size did the trick, and Susie will be worked with 5.5mm needles.

So I frogged my swatch, which usually I don't do, but this is cashmere after all and I don't want to waste any of it. And I cast on for the size to fit 40" bust, because, after all, I do have a bust that measures 41". This would give me 2" of positive ease.

Knit, knit, knit. Or rather - knit, purl, knit, purl - because this is moss stitch. Lovely yarn, gorgeous texture, beautiful fabric. Really very good indeed.

I was past the first increase for the waist shaping, and I'd just discovered that the Russian join wasn't what was needed for this yarn and I'd have to place all the joins at the side seams - when I stopped and thought again about something that came to mind yesterday. The thought process went something like this -

  • I have never yet knitted myself a garment that has turned out too small.
  • I have knitted myself plenty of garments that have been just about right.
  • I have knitted myself rather more garments that have been a little on the big side.
  • I am losing weight, albeit slowly and intermittently, and I intend to carry on with this until I'm at a healthy weight for my height.
  • And that first point again - I have never yet knitted myself a garment that has turned out too small. Never.

So what happened to negative ease? Negative ease ought to be my friend, especially with my body shape. Curves - yes definitely, wide shoulders - no, not at all. Average to small shoulder width. If I knit to fit my bust measurement, the shoulders will invariably be too wide. Make sure the shoulders fit, then the whole thing hangs better and looks better. Use negative ease. I've said it so many times!

I've talked about it enough. I need to actually put it into practice.

I frogged what I'd done so far. And I cast on again - not for the next size down, the 38" - but for the size below that, to fit 36". That would give me 2" of negative ease.

I'm not quite sure whether this is madness or the revival of common sense, but it feels like I've stepped off a cliff.

Friday, 13 February 2009


Here is sweater number two for 2009.

This is Polly, from Kim Hargreaves' book Thrown Together.

I made the size to fit 40" bust, and I used 8 balls of Rowan Polar - that's 800 metres - and I had less than half a ball left over. I made the body about 1" longer because I really did think it would be a good idea, but it turns out that I need not have done this. This slightly longer length still works well, though.

I like this better than I thought I was going to, actually. I wore it to knitting group this afternoon, and I'm still wearing it now. It is soft and warm - but not too warm, due to the elbow length sleeves. And my goodness, this fabric is lovely to wear. It looks soft and gorgeous - and that's exactly what it is.

If I made it again, I would make it one or even two sizes smaller. I do seem to have a problem with body image, along with a large percentage of the female population. Thinking back, there are many occasions where a pullover has turned out a little on the large size, and not one single occasion where I've knitted something that has turned out to be too small. Bigger is not necessarily better, and I need to trust measurements of existing garments, rather than 'allowing a bit of extra ease'.

Fortunately, this works well as a wide loose jacket, and I like it.

I have cast on for something else, and it isn't a sweater. Nor indeed is it a garment of any sort at all.....

This is the very beginning of the Earth Stripe Curtain, a Kaffe Fassett pattern from Rowan 42. There isn't a finished version on Ravelry yet, other than a modified version using a single solid colour.

That's Kidsilk Night and Kidsilk Haze that you can see there, 305 stitches on 4mm needles. This thing is going to end up 260 cm long, so it could take me a while. I worked out this morning that the number of stitches in the finished curtain will be something in excess of 240,000 - that's definitely rather a lot.

I am also swatching for something else at the moment - Susie from Rowan Classic Beach. This is a simple moss stitch waistcoat, and there are no pictures on Ravelry yet. The pattern is written for Rowan Classic Natural Silk Aran, but I'm going to use some Rowan Classic Cashmere Tweed, which is just unbelievably luscious.......

Also, it is not grey. Now there's a surprise.

Thursday, 12 February 2009


I have no idea how it happens that today is Thursday - I seem to be totally out of sync with the rest of the world. Once again, Things have been happening, and I cannot deny that it is all rather difficult at the moment. Nevertheless, life goes on.

Knitting ought to be going on as well, but there hasn't been a lot of it.

Polly is still not finished, and no, I have no idea what on earth I've been doing with my time.

I still haven't finished the seaming, let alone stitched on the buttons. It is looking good, though. I do like the way that mattress stitch looks on reverse stocking stitch, with all the little bits interlocking so neatly.

And yes, that's my eReader. I still love it. I keep forgetting that it isn't a 'dead tree' book and trying to physically turn the pages. It is far too easy to spend inordinate amounts of time browsing Project Gutenberg - free ebooks! yes, free! - actually maybe that has something to do with the shortage of knitting around here. I've been doing a bit of proofreading for them as well, and enjoying it.

Back to Polly - the top corner of the right front is looking alright, as well. That's definitely the trick - not to work across the edge stitches on the pickup row. And that thing with the very last stitch, as well.

The travel sock is coming along slowly.

This is a very simple pattern, 1x1 ribbing at the top as usual, flowing into 3x1 ribbing for the rest of the sock. I might write it out, I've had a couple of requests.

Pretty colours.....

Tuesday, 10 February 2009


Polly still isn't quite finished - once again, not a lot of knitting time. Things have been busy. There isn't much more to do now, though.

I've finished all the pieces and seamed the raglans - which is slow going, let me tell you. The raglan edges are in reverse stocking stitch, and although it is possible to get a really excellent result using mattress stitch for this, it is very slow. Usually with mattress stitch I zoom along taking two rows at a time - but with reverse stocking stitch it ends up looking too 'stepped' if I do that. So, one row at a time, and of course that means that it takes exactly twice as long as normal.

One thing about chunky knitting - although the actual fabric gets done incredibly fast, the finishing needs to be at least as painstaking as with fine yarns. A single strand in the wrong place, and it really shows. So real care and attention is needed for every stitch placed.

Anyway, I'm just working the neckband now, and then I've got the last side and sleeve seam to work, and it will be finished. Add the buttons, press the seams - and then I think, a photograph.

By the way, I think I've identified why so many of the finished Pollys on Ravelry have a slightly awkward finish to the top corner of the right front. Not all of them have this, I hasten to add, but there are quite a few with this problem.

Firstly, this is the corner where the casting off finishes, so care is needed not to end up with a sticking-out edge stitch. I know a trick for this, though, so that should be alright.

But there is also a small point with regard to working the neckband. Some of the stitches are already on holders, at the opening edge of the two fronts. You start with the right front - but you don't work across the stitches on the holder. Instead, the stitches on the holder are simply slipped across onto the working needle, and the 'pick up and knit' starts with the slope of the right front neckline. So the first time these stitches are actually worked in the neckband is on the return row.

I think that this little detail has been missed in quite a lot of the finished garments - you expect to find 'attach yarn to right front, work across x stitches on holder, pick up whatever number of stitches along right front slope....' - and that's not quite what the pattern says. The extra row across the front edge stitches makes that top corner just sit slightly awkwardly, I think.

Anyway, we'll soon see whether mine looks alright or not.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Sunday afternoon

Still working on Polly, albeit a bit intermittently because things keep happening.....

Here's the left front, looking rather curly due to not being blocked.

The markers are where the buttons are going to be placed - which reminds me, I must go and actually find the buttons that I have in mind. I haven't got as far as the first buttonhole yet, on the Right Front. Not much further, though.

I do like the front edging. Alternately two rows of stocking stitch, and two rows of reverse stocking stitch - it is like fat garter stitch. It works beautifully, and it doesn't want to flip over or curl or misbehave in any way at all.

It looks as if the whole thing will take 8 balls, and I may just need to break into ball number 9.

I've been looking again at yarn quantities. The pattern says that this size needs 19 balls of Cashsoft Chunky - and Ravelry says that this yarn has 50 metres to a ball. My shade card says 55, but maybe I should ignore that. So that means 950 metres of yarn, which ought to mean 10 balls of Polar, at 100 metres to a ball.

Might the amount of yarn saved due to working felted joins actually be of some significance? But it can't come to more than 19 or 20 metres, and that's being very generous indeed. So where does the difference come from?

Could it be that an allowance for knots in the yarn is included? - that would be a sensible thing. But even if there is a knot in every ball, that can't come to more than 10 or 20 metres again. But that does bring it down to 910 metres......

And actually, that's close enough. I think that what we are seeing in this pattern is quite simply a realistic assessment of the yarn requirements. I'd much rather have yarn left over, anyway.

Friday, 6 February 2009

I've said it before....

When all else fails, bloggers make lists.

I have pinched this one from Kate. You need to mark in bold the things you've done, mark the ones you plan to do sometime in italics, and leave the rest.

American/English knitting
Baby items
Cable stitch patterns

Charity knitting
Combination knitting
Continental knitting
Cuffs/fingerless mits/arm-warmers
Designing knitted garments
Domino knitting
Drop stitch patterns
Dyeing spinning fiber
Dyeing with plant colors
Dying yarn
Fair Isle knitting
Free-form knitting
Garter stitch
Graffiti knitting - what on earth is this? I have no idea.
Hair accessories
Hats: Cuff-up
Hats: Top-down
Holiday related knitting
Household items
Kitchener stitch
Knitted flowers
Knitting a gift
Knitting a pattern from an on-line knitting magazine
Knitting and purling backwards
Knitting art
Knitting for a living
Knitting for pets
Knitting for preemies
Knitting in public
Knitting items for a wedding
Knitting on a loom
Knitting smocking
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on one or two circulars
Knitting to make money
Knitting two socks on two circs simultaneously
Knitting with alpaca
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Knitting with beads
Knitting with camel yarn
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with circular needles
Knitting with cotton

Knitting with dog/cat hair
Knitting with dpns
Knitting with linen
Knitting with metal wire
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Knitting with self patterning/self striping/variegated yarn
Knitting with silk

Knitting with someone else's handspun yarn
Knitting with soy yarn
Knitting with synthetic yarn

Knitting with wool
Knitting with your own hand-spun yarn
Lace patterns
Long Tail CO

Machine knitting
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Moebius band knitting
Norwegian knitting
Participate in an exchange
Participating in a KAL
Publishing a knitting book
Short rows

Slip stitch patterns
Socks: toe-up
Socks: top-down
Stockinette stitch

Stuffed toys

Teaching a child to knit
Teaching a male how to knit
Textured knitting
Thrummed knitting
Toy/doll clothing
Tubular CO
Twisted stitch patterns
Two end knitting
Writing a pattern

Thursday, 5 February 2009


Still here, just a bit busy. And still knitting.

I've finished the second sleeve now, and I have started the left front. I am going to have so much yarn left! The back and two sleeves took five balls of yarn. What shall I do with all the rest of it? I am thinking about maybe another hat and some matching mittens. Matching - now there's a novel concept. It could grow on me.

I won't inflict on you another picture of grey knitting. Suffice it to say that I hope to have the left front finished tomorrow - and that does mean that I may get Polly finished completely over the weekend.

Or not. Because now that I've said that, something will happen to prevent it. Or could that be just a touch of cynicism creeping in there? Perish the thought.....

It is snowing again, by the way. We had a good 5" today, more is coming down right now, and it is freezing hard. We aren't used to this, not at all. My husband is appreciating the Striped Sweater, which seems to be his new favourite pullover. He's worn it pretty much non-stop since I handed it over. I obviously need to knit him more wool pullovers.

Lucy is so funny in the snow - it is pretty deep for her, and she bounces around in it like a puppy, trying to catch the big soft snowflakes as they fall.... I'll have to try to get a picture. She is so sweet!

I've been looking through my Rowan magazines looking for more ideas for woolly jumpers for myself, and I am increasingly drawn to an old Kim Hargreaves pattern, Solo, from Rowan 26 - not Rowan 27 as it says in the Ravelry link there. This is pretty much the same thing as Vanilla, although worked to a different tension. I would be playing around with the tension anyway, as RYC Wool Tweed is a classic aran weight, unlike the yarns used for these two patterns. Also, I think that the Wool Tweed would be very well suited to this wide drapy shape.

Very Shirin Guild... or am I kidding myself? I think perhaps not - I think this could work well.....

Wednesday, 4 February 2009


Polly is coming along.

The colour looks a bit washed out in the picture above - the closeup below is better.

Nice textured fabric, this. And the yarn is lovely to work with, very well behaved and beautifully soft. I was wondering how this yarn would work with this stitch pattern - Cashsoft Chunky, the yarn for which the pattern is written, has a nice sheen to it, and that would work really well with this textured surface.

Polar is completely matte, but it too works well with the texture. Less definition, no sheen, more fuzziness. Still beautifully soft, still with an excellent drape, although not so heavy as the Cashsoft.

I have finished the back now, as well as the first sleeve, and so far I've used less than 4 balls of yarn. I'm going to have a lot left over, and I'm wondering about why the quantities are so far out. Ok, I am able to use felted joins with the Polar, which wouldn't really be possible with the Cashsoft - but even so it is puzzling.

You see, I'm making the size to fit bust 40" - that would be XL. The pattern says 19 balls of Rowan Classic Cashsoft Chunky for this size - and that would be either 950 metres or 1045 metres, depending on what you believe the yardage is, either 50 or 55 metres. The Rowan website says one thing, and the shade card on my bookshelf says another.

The Polar has 100 metres to a ball, so that should mean that this size would need either 10 or 11 balls. I've got 12 balls of this stuff. And I've used less than 4 for the back and one sleeve......?

Interesting. I'm wondering now if I'm missing something crucial.

Monday, 2 February 2009


It is snowing.

Not a lot - but it is definitely snowing, and here in the warm (supposedly) mild (usually) West of England, we don't get a lot of snow. And it is cold, too.

This means that I suddenly want to knit myself a big woolly pullover - after I finish Polly, of course. I'm not going to stop knitting Polly, I just want to have the next thing ready and waiting. You know how it goes .... or is it just me?

So, into the stash. I know what I want to knit - Pyrenees, from Rowan Classic Alpine, in some nice Rowan Classic Wool Tweed that I just happen to have. Except .... except... except I cannot find it. Or to be precise, I cannot find all of it.

I have found one pack, just where I was expecting it to be - but I know I bought 12 balls. I cannot find the two extra balls. I know they are there. I just cannot find them, and this is most frustrating. They have probably been put in a bag with something else, because if I left them on their own then they would get lost. Of course they would. Just like this.

I think I'll give up, and plan something else instead. If I do that, then they'll be right there on the shelf looking at me, I just know it.

The thing with the stash, is that you have to have the right attitude of mind.