Sunday, 26 April 2009

Sunday evening

Well, I was going to post a nice picture of the back of my Lacy Raglan Top, all finished. Or at the very least, up to the armhole shaping, because that's where it was this morning. However there isn't a lot of point in posting a picture now, because it looks exactly the same as yesterday.

Yes, there has been frogging. Just after breakfast I reached the armhole shaping, or where it ought to have been, and paused to measure. And it is a good thing that I did, because it was longer than I was expecting. Reason - my row gauge seems to have gone back to what it ought to have been in the first place.

This is a good thing, it means I don't need to add in extra rows here and there to end up with a garment the right length. Except that I'd already added some in before the waist shaping, to keep the balance. Hence the frogging. I decided that I'd rather reknit the back than start messing around with undoing the cast-on and sorting it out that way. So, not a lot of net progress over the last 24 hours.

The travel sock has made some progress, though. We went down to Beaulieu for the Boat Jumble today. We were after assorted small, hard-to-find bits and pieces and we didn't have a lot of luck, but we did have a nice day out. The New Forest is always a beautiful place. And yes, lots of ponies.

With regard to the slugs, thankyou all for the advice, it is much appreciated. I think we need all the help we can get, because our back garden seems to be a favourite holiday destination for slugs. Torremolinos for slugs. Or maybe Butlins. There are hordes of them, literally dozens and dozens of the beasts. They are all over the place. In retrospect, we must have been mad thinking we could possibly grow tomatoes. Last year we tried to grow sunflowers and fast though they grew, the slugs ate them faster.

Beer, yes, we know about beer, and I've heard that it works very well. I think that we'd need rather a lot of it though, on an on-going basis, and Lucy does tend to think that anything at floor level that is even vaguely edible or potable is naturally intended for her consumption, and we'd have a somewhat tiddly dog in no time flat. So maybe that's not the route for us.

No, we are going all biological high tech and trying nematodes. I remember Jean writing about these little beasties, and they sound like just what we need. So we're sending off for some, and hopefully they'll be with us in about a week. If they get rid of the huge nasty slimy horrors that currently haunt our garden, we'll be very pleased indeed.

Saturday, 25 April 2009


Here is sweater number five this year.

This is Foxtail, from Rowan's The Tapestry Collection, in 0175 Moorland. 7 balls of yarn used, exactly as per the pattern.

I made size M, to fit bust 36"-38", and it fits very nicely. I'm pleased with this, I don't look lost in it, it is very wearable, and I love the colours.

The only modification that I made was to omit the buttonhole, and to work a couple of extra rows on the front band. Verdict - all good!

There are other things on the needles as well.

This is another Baktus in progress - Noro Kureyon Sock yarn, this time. A very rustic effect with this yarn because of the thick-and-thin thing that you always get with Noro, rather nice with the slow colour changes I think, and very different from my first Baktus.

This did start off as a sock, and I frogged it, as you can see I have not yet knitted up all the frogged section of yarn. I wasn't loving the sock, and I kept thinking how nice the yarn would be as a Baktus. So here it is. 3mm needles again, by the way. I could perhaps have gone to 2.75 for this, but I'm not worrying about it.

And this was very nearly another Baktus.

However my husband spotted it, and said - That's nice. Can you make me a pair of socks like that? I'd like that.

Now, I have a weakness concerning remarks like that. If someone actually asks me to knit them something specific, I am quite likely to drop everything else on the agenda and do exactly that. So this yarn - Opal Handpaints sock yarn, by the way, don't ask me the exact colour because I have no idea - this yarn is not going to be a Baktus, it is going to be a pair of socks for my husband.

And finally, after all that colour, we are back to grey, because I have cast on for sweater number six this year.

This is going to be another Lacy Raglan Top - in size M this time, instead of size L. My row gauge is out again, and I have no idea what is going on with this. I'll have to add some rows if I want to end up with a garment the right length, some before the waist shaping and some after, I think. I don't want to start messing around with the number of rows in the raglan shaping.

This is yarn leftover from the Hooded Tunic that I made last year, and it is actually the fourth garment that I've made from All Seasons at the Mill - so that was definitely a good purchase.

Right now, I'm going to go and thin the tomato seedlings. I wish I had some idea how to keep the slugs off them, when we pot them out. There must be a way....

Friday, 24 April 2009

Friday evening

My first Baktus is finished.

Here it is, fetchingly worn by a coathanger on the fence. I actually finished this on Monday, but I didn't get around to a photo until today. I am very pleased with it - it is very pretty and easy to wear, and the pattern is addictive. Oh, and the yarn is lovely too!

To recap - this is Baktus. The pattern is free, and you can get it here.

I used 3mm needles, and went up to 80-something stitches on the needle. The yarn was a single skein of 100% cashmere sock yarn, from the original Hipknits - I remember that Trudi did a series of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter colourways, the only one I managed to get hold of was the Autumn. And it is lovely.

Exactly how much I enjoyed making this simple thing can be judged from the fact that I cast on immediately for another one. I had some Noro Kureyon Sock yarn in a rainbow colourway that I had started to work into a pair of socks for myself, but truly I wasn't loving them.... so I frogged, and now I have another Baktus on the needles. Picture in the morning, if I get my act together.

I am sure there will be more Bakti (ok, I know it isn't really Latin) later in the year.

Oh, and I have just finished Foxtail. 24 days from start to finish - and it felt as if it was longer than that. I like the end result very much, though. I need to block it (= attack it with the steam iron) and photograph it. Again, hopefully that will be tomorrow!

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Saturday evening

I'm still working on Foxtail - well, sort of. To be honest, I've got sidetracked.

This is the beginning of my first version of the Baktus scarf. I say first, because I'm sure there will be more. This pattern is addictive, and in this case the yarn is certainly adding to that.

I have here a single skein of 100% cashmere sock yarn, from the original Hipknits. The colour was called Autumn, so this is Autumn Cashmere Baktus, and very nice it is too, even though I say it myself.

I'm using a 3mm needle here. I did try 3.5mm first, and although I'd undoubtedly have got a longer and stretchier scarf out of my single skein, I wasn't happy with the fabric. 3mm strikes a nice balance, I think.

Addictive knitting, this. I'm not so far from the centre point now, and then I won't have to keep on weighing my yarn and will be able to just knit....

Foxtail hasn't stalled entirely, although I don't think I'll be picking it up again until this Baktus is finished.

Long rows here, and I've caught another split stitch as well, that's two so far. No problem sorting these out, of course, it's just a case of laddering down, picking up the strands, and laddering back up again - so I don't know why I'm bothered.

I like the narrow stripes. I've got about another thirty rows to go, and then I can cast off and start the finishing. After that, I might well start another small project before casting on for sweater number six this year, which will be another Lacy Raglan. (By the way, I am sure the only reason that top is not more popular is the fact that it looks like nothing at all until you wear it. I've had more compliments from my version than from anything else I've knitted.)

Anyway, twelve sweaters in a year is all very well, but I don't want to knit sweaters exclusively. I'm pretty sure that next onto the needles will be either Leafling or Rogue Roses - I've got the yarn already wound up for both, so I'll just see what I feel like when I get there.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Sunday again

So. The beaded socks are finished.

I didn't think that the beads would necessarily appreciate the steam iron, so I sprayed them with water and left them to dry on the sock blockers. They are very, very pretty!

For the record - the pattern is Queen of Beads, and it was written by Sivia Harding. This is the first pattern from the Blue Moon Sock Club this year. The yarn is Socks That Rock lightweight, in My Blue Heaven, which is absolutely gorgeous. I like it even better than Bella Coola. 2.25mm needles, size M, and they fit my UK size 6 feet very nicely indeed.

Tubular cast-on at the top, there - it does make a nice round edge, but I remain unconvinced that it is preferable to my usual long-tail method. Just a tad too stretchy, I can't help thinking. Looks good, though.

A very entertaining knit, I enjoyed making these.

Foxtail is making slow progress. The top bit is all done, and I have cast on for the lower section and worked about an inch so far. Long rows of stocking stitch, now. I still can't get any speed up with this yarn because of the tendency for it to split. Never mind, I'll get there.

After that - I had planned to start Colbert (not the cardigan, the pullover version) but I don't think I can face another garment in Tapestry just yet. So that will have to wait.

It is definitely spring now, and everything seems to be growing, apart from my knitting.

The reason that blogging - and knitting - has been a bit scarce recently is that I've been a bit under the weather, so to speak. I'm feeling rather better now, though, and plan to get myself as fit and healthy as possible over the coming weeks. There is some surgery planned for June which ought to sort everything out, and I really do want to be as healthy as I can by then. We may even go veggie for a while, still undecided on that.

Afterwards, I've been told that I will have to take things extremely quietly for at least four weeks. I won't be allowed to drive, and I'm not even allowed to be a passenger in a car during that time, because of the risk of an emergency stop. No bending, no stretching, no lifting anything at all. No going out for walks, no cooking, no housework.

I can see that this means I will have lots of time for knitting, although it is distinctly possible that I will have a severe case of cabin fever by the time the four weeks is up. Anyway, I need to have four weeks worth of knitting all set up and ready to go, and sorting that out is no hardship at all!

Ravenscar, I think. And another Lacy Raglan, in M this time, not L. That is such a useful top! Then, I'm thinking Mulgrave, from Rowan 45. No Rav link there yet..... Rowan Cotton Glace in two colours, anyway. Also high in the ranks of possibilities are the Golden Vintage, in black - and Sally Melville's lovely Gray Cardigan. I haven't forgotten Avignon, either.

I am also planning Shawl That Jazz. I've got some Lorna's Laces Swirl DK that would do very nicely indeed. And garter stitch is always good.

You will notice that it is neither grey nor beige. See, I can do it if I try!

Oh, I do love making lists, even if I never stick to them.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Tuesday morning

Well, it's not tomorrow, it's the day after. Things keep happening......

Time for an update on Foxtail. I still haven't got very much done. Currently I have just started the second sleeve.

The two sleeves and the upper back are all worked in one long section, as you can see.

I do love this colour - it's called Moorland, shade number 175. Rowan Tapestry - I can't recall whether I already said this. As usual, it isn't such a bright blue as my camera makes it look. The colours shade from a deep slatey blue, through a soft brown in one direction and shades of grey in the other, to biscuit colour. Very subtle and pretty.

Although I love the colouring, I am not so enamoured of the yarn, which is of course a softly spun single - it wants to split,and because of this I can't knit as fast as I'd like. I have actually had one split stitch and I didn't notice it until I was about thirty rows past it - I laddered it down, sorted it out, and picked back up again, so no harm done. But I have learned my lesson, and am checking along each row as I finish it.

Now, the Marianne Isager book, Japanese Inspired Knits.

This book is just gorgeous. I have heard so many good things about Ms Isager's work that I decided to buy this book without seeing any sort of preview or review, and despite the fact that I wasn't very taken with the cover design - and I certainly don't regret it.

This book is not full of Japanese knitting patterns, let me make that clear. It is in fact titled very precisely. The patterns - twelve of them - are inspired by Ms Isager's experience of living in Japan. There is one pattern for each month of the year. For each pattern, there is a page of associated images, and an explanation of the inspiration. There is a glossary of terms and techniques at the back, and a page of Japanese ideograms used elsewhere in the book, with their meanings.

It is a pleasure to read, and out of the twelve patterns given, I am interested in knitting no less than six - this may be some sort of record for me.

Ms Isager likes fine yarns and small needles - so do I. She uses interesting techniques - I love this. Her patterns are beautifully illustrated and carefully explained, and the garments are all shown both modelled and laid flat, with more photographs showing the details.

The first pattern in the book is a kimono-shaped jacket. The main part of the garment is Aran work, patterned with moss stitch and honeycomb stitch, and the lower border is worked in double knitting combined with intarsia. You realise immediately that this work does not come from any average designer!

Next there is a long tunic worked in garter stitch entrelac, in three colours. I love this one - Winter in Tokyo.

The shaping is done by changing the size of the entrelac squares.

This is one of the pattern that I am interested in making - I might leave out the bobbles, though. Or perhaps not. I'd keep the contrast edging at the neckline, I love that.

After that, there is a pattern called The Fan - a total contrast. More garter stitch, but with lace this time, and an interesting construction, not dissimilar to Kate Gilbert's Sunrise Circle Jacket.

This one is worked with a fingering weight yarn and a laceweight yarn held together throughout, and the needle size is larger, 3.5mm.

Then there is The Carp - worked in two shades of fine cotton and linen/viscose, using mitred squares.

Delicate and beautiful.

The Sun - two versions, Large Suns and Small Suns.

I love the Large Suns - I think I might substitute greys and blues for the rose, coral, and tomato....

There is more lace; there is more Aran, worked in fine yarns in the round; there is more intarsia; there is fair isle colourwork in very non-traditional colours; there is some amazing tailored shaping - the whole book is full of absolute gems.

If you like fine yarns and detailed work, this book is for you. Except that this particular copy is for me!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

New things

I have two new knitting books, now I've got more room on the shelf.

These, as you can probably see, are Sally Melville's new title, 'Mother-Daughter Knits', co-written with her daughter Caddy; and also Marianne Isager's 'Japanese Inspired Knits'.

They are both really, really good.

Anything from Sally Melville is always going to be excellent, she has a knack of producing well written patterns for extremely wearable garments - and in this book she tells us exactly how she does it. Not the pattern-writing, but the choosing of styles that are flattering to the wearer. The first chapter is titled 'Knit to Flatter and Fit' - and that is exactly what it's all about.

How to achieve - or appear to achieve! - a natural hourglass shape. How to decide what length and shape of garment will best suit you - and what to wear with each length and shape. How to measure yourself to determine your ideal short sweater length - how to measure for your ideal mid-length sweater - how to measure for your ideal big long sweater. And it isn't difficult!

(Now I know exactly what length I shall work Chamonix, when I get round to it.)

After that, there are 30 patterns - some from Caddy and some from Sally. There are three in particular that I really love, and plan to make. No Rav links yet - well, there are links, but no pictures, so my somewhat dodgy photos will have to do.

First, the Classic Shirt.

Simple, but with some lovely construction details - and very, very elegant. Finishing is going to be paramount for the success of this design, and as always Sally gives plenty of detail.

This pattern is written for Needful Mohair Royal, and Kidsilk Haze will be an excellent substitute. I can see this being worn and worn!

Secondly, the Mother-of-the-Bride Cardigan.

This is just gorgeous, and it's all about contrasts. It is written for two yarns of very different weight - Rowan's Kidsilk Spray (now discontinued, but still to be found) and Zitron Skacel Loft, for which I intend to substitute the remains of my Rowan Polar. I had some left after I finished Polly, and I also happen to have some Kidsilk Spray in Graphite, which goes perfectly with the grey Polar.

The back is worked in the bulky yarn and is short and fitted, the front is worked in the Kidsilk Spray and is fine, loose, and drapy. The sleeves are worked in both yarns - the top is worked in the bulky yarn, and is fitted, the lower part is worked in the fine yarn and is drapy. And most of the cardigan is lace, in several different patterns.

So there is the contrast between the bulky yarn and the fine one, the solid and the variegated, and also the contrast between fitted and floaty. I am very much looking forward to casting on for this one!

Finally, the Gray Cardigan. Another must-have, at least for me.

Sally tells a story of how a friend saw a perfect gray cardigan in a shop, but didn't buy it because she knew that she could knit it - except that she wouldn't knit it because it was just a gray cardigan. So Sally designed a gray cardigan that would keep the knitter interested, and really it is excellent.

The recommended yarn is Classic Elite One Fifty, worked at 20 stitches to 4" instead of its more usual gauge of 22 sts to 4". I think that Rowan Classic Extra Fine Merino will make an excellent substitute.

I'll write about the Marianne Isager book, tomorrow - this post is quite long enough. Suffice it to say for the moment, that this is the first time I've read one of her books, but it won't be the last!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009


I'm still working on the beaded socks. The first one is finished now, and I'm past the ribbing on the second one.

They are just gorgeous, really. Maybe a touch impractical, but I just don't care, because they are so pretty.

This is not far from the true colour, but its still not quite right. Should be deeper and richer.....

This morning, however, I've not been knitting pretty socks. I've been sorting through my knitting books, because I have completely run out of shelf room and things have to go. I might eBay these, but I thought I'd put them up here to start with and see if anyone is interested.

I put these three and some others up on the Ravelry Book Destash Forum yesterday - here. The others are spoken for already - although that may of course change - but these three are still definitely up for grabs.

Heirloom Knits, Crochet Designs, Zen and the Art of Knitting, Knit Lit (too).....

Five of Stephanie Pearl McPhee's books.

And finally two Rowan magazines - I've found that I have two copies of each of these. That's Rowan 44 - this was the 30th anniversary issue, and Rowan 27. This dates from Spring 2000, and has 35 designs - patterns by Kaffe Fassett, Kim Hargreaves, Martin Storey, and Brandon Mably, amongst others.

If you're interested in any of these, please let me know - my email's at the top of the page, on the right - or message me on Ravelry.

And finally, I have started knitting something other than socks. This unprepossessing object is the beginning of Foxtail. Mindless stocking stitch, very nice and relaxing after the stitch detail and beading of the pretty socks.