Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Tuesday evening

Lots of things on my Ravelry trade/sell page now. I do wish I could take better photographs. Is it the camera that's causing the problem? Or is it me? (I have a suspicion that it is me .... oh well.)

And I've finished Flow. It looks good on the hanger, but I haven't tried it on yet. I'll do that in the morning.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Monday evening

We've been off on the boat again. Nice autumn weather + a few days free = time to escape. And so we did. We've come back, as usual, tired but refreshed.

The weather really was perfect. Chilly in the mornings, and at the end of the day, but glorious sunshine in between.

It is the little things that make a difference.

The evening light on the poplars, moored once again at Bradford.....

A glass of wine and some knitting, before cooking the evening meal..... and yes, my husband likes to fish. No, we don't eat the fish. They go straight back in the canal, and live to get caught again another day.

About one second after I took this photo, a kingfisher flew out from the trees on the right, and dived for a fish, right in front of the boat. And then a minute later, it happened again. This flash of incredible bright blue......

Here is Lucy resting on the sofa in the boat. She's been doing a lot of that recently - and yes, it is merry chaos in there, but in a good way.

With regard to knitting, I frogged the Peace Fleece pullover and cast on for the next size down. So far I've finished the ribbing and I am a couple of inches into the stocking stitch body. I want this finished, I keep thinking of other things that I'd like to be knitting - and wearing, come to that. Like Hudson, which is currently top of my 'want' list, to be made in New Lanark's Donegal Silk Tweed DK in dark graphite. (Note the price there - a real bargain for such nice yarn.)

I have, however, had a sudden outburst of willpower - which may not last - and I have picked up Flow again, despite the fact that I can't possibly get any wear out of it until next year. I've finished both the front and the back, joined the shoulders, worked the neckband - reverse stocking stitch, giving a very neat finish - and currently I am casting off in purl. It's looking rather good, actually.

Still to do - the side seams and the armhole edgings. I hope this looks good when it is finished. And I hope that the negative ease turns out to be appropriate, as well.

I've been feeling very virtuous about this - finishing off a WIP instead of casting on for something new. It does happen occasionally.....

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Tuesday morning

Here are the Leafling socks, finally.

All done, and they fit nicely. These are quite thick socks as the yarn is STR mediumweight. They are worked top down with a gusset that expands alongside the heel flap - except it isn't a flap at all. The heel stitch section on the sole ought to make them wear well - it certainly makes them comfortable to wear.

The purple splodge sweater has hit a slight problem - there isn't going to be enough yarn.

It's looking quite pretty, too. But I'm going to have to frog the whole thing and start again.

At the moment I'm almost at the top of the back, and I've just had to start the third skein of the four which the pattern says will be required. This was a bit worrying as the front still has to be completed from the armholes up to the shoulders, plus the sleeves, plus the neckline. So I weighed the skein at the end of each row, for 10 rows, and from that, with a bit of arithmetic, I worked out how many stitches a gram of yarn will produce. Or, the weight of yarn needed to produce a square inch of fabric - same information of course, just a different format.

The pattern is very straightforward, so it was easy to work out how much more yarn I would actually need, compare it with how much yarn I actually had left - and it turns out that I'm going to be short just about 30 grams. Most annoying.

So then I looked at changing the sleeves to make them narrower, and it does help, but I'd still be short about 10 grams of yarn. So near and yet so far......

There is nothing for it but to frog, and make the body a bit narrower, as I don't want it shorter. I can't face that right now, though. Also, the swift and the ballwinder are currently occupied with my handspun, which is proving interesting to wind up. Apparently I didn't tie it up in enough places. Lesson learned there.....

So it looks as if I will be returning to Flow, after all.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Saturday evening

We've been off on the boat again.

The weather was just so beautiful, and we had a couple of days with nothing particular happening - so we seized the moment. Carpe diem, as they say, and they are quite right.

We didn't go far, just down to Bradford again - and we didn't really do anything other than enjoy the autumn sunshine. Lunch at a canalside pub, supper on the boat, lighting the stove because it is cold at night now, asleep soon after dark. Awake with the dawn, walking with Lucy through the early morning mist, back to the boat for hot coffee .... It was perfect.

I forgot my camera, but I did not forget my knitting.

The Leafling socks are finally finished, and I'm glad to have them off the needles. Both socks are the same, I pulled back the toe of the first sock and reknit with a symmetrical toe exactly according to the pattern. And it fits just fine. I really don't know why I had problems with this at all, but sometimes that's the way of it.

I am just about up to the armholes with the purple/green sweater. This Peace Fleece DK is lovely yarn to work with, and I am enjoying it. Nothing wrong with a bit of mindless stocking stitch.

I'll take some pictures tomorrow morning.

One other thing that has been really excellent - today I went to a Spinning Guild meeting, all by myself, with nobody taking me there and then picking me up again afterwards. I feel as if I've achieved something, which is daft I suppose, but it is a good while since I've been able to do anything like this.

And oh my goodness, I did enjoy myself. I didn't take my wheel, carrying it from the car seemed as if it wouldn't entirely be a good idea. So I just knitted on the travel sock, and talked to people, just until lunchtime. It was so good to see everyone again, and it is such a lovely atmosphere in that group, always.

Then I drove home, and went to have a little lie down because I was indeed more than a little bit tired and slept all afternoon, right through to 6 o'clock. More tired than I'd thought, then.

But next time it will be easier.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Tuesday afternoon

I think it's worn off now - meaning the recent obsession with a shiny new technique - although it was fun whilst it lasted......

I am once again knitting something other than swatches, and I've finished the first Leafling sock.

The colours are now swirling in a very satisfactory way. However I can't seem to get the toe quite right here. The pattern gives an ordinary symmetrical toe, or alternatively there is an option for left and right shaped toes. I have, as you can see, tried the one for the right foot. I don't really like the way it looks but I must admit that it does fit nicely - however I don't know if I'll keep it this way. I can't somehow see myself checking which sock is which before I put them on, first thing in the morning.

I do quite like this sock construction. It is worked top down with a gusset above the heel, which makes for a good comfortable fit for those of us with a high instep.

I still can't get the energy to pick up Flow again. If I'm not careful it will end up lurking unfinished, and that would be a pity, because I think it is an excellent pattern.

I have, however, been busy. I have gone through the whole of the stash - all of it. This was quite a task. And predictably I now have a stack of things that I no longer want/need/love - but that someone else might like. Because they are all nice things.

There is some Peruvian Collection Baby Silk;

some Peruvian Connection Baby Cashmere;

some Peruvian Connection Quechua - which is a DK weight alpaca/tencel blend, very soft and silky;

some silver Goldfingering (which sounds like a contradiction in terms, doesn't it?);

a skein of Helen's Lace;

a skein of Lucy Neatby's Celestial Merino;

and finally two different shades of Regia's Cotton India Color sock yarn.

This is all on my Ravelry destash page at the moment, and there is more to come.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Friday evening

I have no idea how it happens to be Friday. The week has simply flown past, and all that I seem to have done with regard to knitting, is to make lots of swatches. Can't think why.

Anyway. Several things, this evening. First, I came across this on Helen's blog, and I think it is excellent fun.

I have a sad suspicion that I would be completely unable to resist disarranging all the books. This probably says something about me - but perhaps I'd better not go there.

I am still playing around with combined knitting, and liking it more and more. My hands aren't used to it though, it uses muscles in my hands and wrists which apparently don't get this exercise with my usual method. Also, I think I want to go back to straight needles, I am sure the whole thing will go faster and easier.

Annie uses these beautiful things. She did offer to lend me a pair for the duration of the workshop, so that I could try them out - I was daft, and said no. I should have said yes. I really, really should have.

However, I did hold one. (Be still my heart..) They are brilliant, light and perfectly balanced. I want some. Although these also look rather good - I do like Knitpicks/Knitpro needles.

Now. Rowing out. I have had several queries - combined knitting is good for avoiding rowing out, but what exactly do I mean by that in the first place? A little explanation seems to be in order.

When we knit Western style - as the vast majority of us do, here in the UK - it takes very fractionally more yarn to work a purl stitch than it does to work a knit stitch. So with this method, purl rows tend to be just very slightly looser than knit rows. (This has absolutely nothing to do with which hand holds the yarn, by the way - it is the way that we form the stitches that causes this difference.)

This is the reason why many people (in fact I'd go so far as to say most people) get a slightly different tension when working in the round compared to working flat - no purl rows in the round, you see? So tension working in the round tends to be firmer than tension working flat.

Many of us compensate for this tiny extra length in each purl stitch by tightening each purl stitch just fractionally more then each knit stitch - we usually aren't even aware that we are doing it. And then we end up with an even fabric.

But if we don't do this - or don't do it consistently - then the purl rows can be visibly looser than the knit rows.

You can see the effect of this, below - looking at the reverse side of the fabric at the top left, you can see rows of purl bumps sitting together in pairs. The looser row in between each pair is from a purl row.

And you can also see - top right, in particular - that alternate rows on the right side of the fabric are slightly looser.

This is 'rowing out'.

It is much more apparent when using a non-wool yarn, as in this case - Rowan's Wool Cotton, which is 50% cotton.

And it also tends to happen when the knitter (me) is not paying due care and attention to her work. (Ahem.) I was flying along with this pullover and I did get it finished in time, but it is apparent that I should have been taking more care.

With combined knitting, things are different. The way that the stitches are formed means that the knit stitch and the purl stitch take exactly the same amount of yarn - and all that is needed to produce a beautiful even fabric, is to keep an even tension.

So, if we want to get a good even fabric, we can either work Western style and adjust for our slightly looser purl stitches, or work combined style and not adjust anything at all.

And if you want to know more about Combined Knitting, you cannot do better than read Annie Modesitt's excellent website, where you will find All You Ever Wanted To Know About Combination Knitting (but were afraid to ask)........!

What else ..... I was talking to my mother about the combined knitting workshop. She was very interested, and much to my surprise she knew all about this method already. She told me that she hadn't heard of anyone using this method since she was a little girl - (she is past 80, now) - that her mother knew how to knit this way, although she usually worked 'the normal way' - and that she had thought nobody worked like this any more.

She remembers seeing a group of old ladies knitting garments this way when she was a little girl living in Perthshire. She says that they were working with the yarn in their left hands, incidentally, and with one needle anchored at their waist. My mother is past 80, I should add - she learnt to knit when she was quite little, as did I.

She described to me the way that these ladies were working - knit stitches and purl stitches sitting differently on the needle, so they could tell which was which without having to look - and winding the yarn for the purl stitches the opposite way from 'normal' - under the needle rather than over.

And that is combined knitting, I do believe.

She was very taken by the speed at which these ladies were working, and also by the fact that they never looked at their knitting. She told me that she had wanted to learn to work this way, as well. So her mother tried to teach her, but she couldn't get the hang of it.

So. Combined knitting was alive and well in Scotland, before WWII.

Interesting, yes?

Thursday, 10 September 2009

More on combined knitting.....

Still thinking about this, and still playing around with it as well, pretty much to the exclusion of everything else knitting-related at the moment. I really do like this method.

I've played around with combined knitting before. This started when I made Exchequered - this scarf is double faced, by the way, with the other side a colour-reversed version of the side you can see. I worked this scarf with one colour in each hand, and I found that the only way I could get any speed going at all - (because I do like to work fast, mainly because I have a short attention span and get bored otherwise, ahem) - and also cope with the double knitting, together with the colour changes, was to work the purl stitches made with my left hand in the eastern style. So I ended up working combined style with my left hand, and ordinary Western style with my right hand - a rather strange mixture, which worked surprisingly well.

But I never really used it again, apart from occasional problem solving in the shop with someone who worked that way, and to demonstrate it for people who were interested.

I believe that this may now be going to change.

In the past, I've had a slight problem with rowing out when working with non-wool yarns, particularly when I've been working quickly.

For instance, Rowan Wool Cotton -

I was really pushing to get that top finished for a deadline, and the rowing out is very noticeable.

Rowan All Seasons Cotton -

And Rowan Bamboo Tape -

I'm sure you can see what I mean.

It is nothing too dreadful really, but it is rowing out nevertheless, and I've never liked seeing it. Don't get me wrong - it doesn't bother me unduly - and obviously it's never bothered me enough to make me actually do anything about it, like unravel and rework. But I still don't like it.

What became apparent at Annie's workshop on Tuesday is that if I work combined style, with the yarn in my left hand, then I don't get rowing out. Not at all. I get a good even fabric - much more even than I've ever been able to produce before.

If I work combined style with the yarn in my right hand as I usually hold it, then I don't get this magic result, in fact the rowing out is worse than ever. I've been thinking about this, and I believe I know why it is happening.

When we work combined style, the knit stitches and the purl stitches take exactly the same amount of yarn. When we work Western style, then the purl stitches take fractionally more yan than the knit stitches - so to produce an even fabric I have been automatically tightening each purl stitch just a tiny bit more than each knit stitch. And it works, of course - except that when I'm working fast, it seems that I don't tighten the purl stitches quite as much, and then I get the rowing out.

Anyway, to produce an even fabric with combined style and holding the yarn in my usual way, I need not to do that. Unfortunately, I've spent the last 48 years or so working that way, and it seems to be a bit hard to unlearn. My knit rows come out as they always have, but I can't seem to stop tightening each purl stitch as I've always done - so working that way, the purl rows actually come out tighter than the knit rows. Not an improvement. Sigh....

However if I work with the yarn in my left hand, everything is different.

I don't have to unlearn anything, and I get a nice even fabric. I'm really rather pleased with this. At the moment, it is still quite slow for me, but I'll get faster with practice, I know.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

What I did yesterday

I had a really good day.

Yesterday Annie Modesitt was teaching at Get Knitted, and I had booked myself a place at both of her workshops. The subjects were Combination Knitting, and Cabling without a Cable Needle.

And I had such a good time. I came home tired - so tired! - but energised, and with so much new stuff buzzing around in my head.

I've got my head around combined knitting now, really. And I like it very much indeed.

I've learnt a new method of working lifted increases.

I've learnt a whole lot of different little tips and tricks - so useful!

And the cabling! I thought I knew how to work cables without a cable needle. - well, I knew one method, and certainly I've worked this way many times. And I will admit, I wondered what more there could be to learn. Well, there was more. Annie's method is much better than the method I've used up til now - and by 'better', I mean easier, quicker, and giving a neater finish. That means 'better', for my money.

I didn't take lots of pictures, I was too busy knitting. Just one.

That is Annie taking a picture of us.

If you get the chance to take a class with this lady, jump at it - truly, you won't regret it. Annie is an original thinker - she is one of those people who thinks outside the box, who sees things that don't occur to most people. She is also a gifted teacher, and a seriously nice person.

I'll say it again - I had a really good day yesterday!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Sunday evening

Goodness, posting two evenings in succession. I probably won't be able to keep this up. Anyway, just like yesterday - something finished, something continuing, and something started.

I have finished the Traffic Light Socks, aka In Season, the most recent offering from Blue Moon's Rocking Sock Club. (I know they call it Rockin' Sock Club, but I'm afraid that I simply refuse to acknowledge it.)

These socks are, um, interesting. You can best see the colours at the heel turn - shades of red, shades of green, interspersed with a clear yellow. I am not really at all keen on the striping in the knitted fabric here.

However, this is a very quick and easy pattern to knit. The cuff is interesting, starting with a reverse stocking stitch hem which looks very neat in wear. Then there is a panel with two blocks of a slip stitch pattern, and two blocks of ribbing. The stretchiness of the ribbing makes up for the lack of stretch in the slip stitch sections, and means that you can actually get the sock on your foot without any difficulty. This is a good thing.

After that there is a band of reverse stocking stitch, and then the main part of the sock is worked with the instep in 1x1 ribbing, a standard heel stitch heel flap, and the sole in stocking stitch. I have modified the toe, from a standard wedge toe to my usual graduated wedge toe, for a better fit.

What I will take from this pattern is the use of the reverse stocking stitch hem. This, I like.

Flow is still continuing.

I have finished the back, or possibly the front, as they are interchangeable. There really doesn't seem to be very much of it at all above the armhole shaping. However I know from Mine that this all changes when the edgings are added, so I'm not worrying.

I know that if I just sat down and worked on this, it would be done in no time. But, but, but.... it is cold here. And I don't feel like knitting a little sleeveless drapy summer top, I feel like knitting with wool. Also, I have decided that unless I can get caught up with last year's Sock Club socks - I made exactly none last year, whilst I was working for Rowan - unless I can get caught up, or at least half way caught up, I should really not be joining it again next year. So I am knitting more socks.

And that would be the thing started.

This is Blue Moon Socks That Rock mediumweight, in the colourway Lucky. It was the second offering from the Blue Moon Sock Club last year.

The pattern is called Leafling, from JC Briar. Nice and straightforward - a dotted rib edging, which flows into a leaf pattern panel down the front of the sock, with the rest in stocking stitch. The shaping is interesting and unusual - the construction of this particular sock is based on one of Cat Bordhi's patterns in her book New Pathways for Sock Knitters, and I am looking forward to working it. Something new is always interesting.

The yarn, you will note, is pooling with a vengeance. There are four shades of green - two bright, and two muted. The two bright shades are striping together, the two muted shades are striping together, and the whole arrangement is swirling very slowly indeed around the sock.

This will all change when I get into the increases, of course.

And - Helen? - I promise I will get on with Flow as well!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Saturday evening

So, a bit of a progress report this evening. Something finished, something continuing, and something started.

The Fraggle Socks were finished a few days ago. These were a quite disgracefully long time on the needles, for no particular reason. This was an entertaining pattern to knit, but I can't see myself making another pair of these. The yarn is Socks That Rock lightweight, which is always nice to work with, and this busy colourway (Pepe La Plume, and no I don't know what it means other than, presumably, something to do with Fraggles) does work surprisingly well with the busy pattern. They are nice comfy socks, as well.

Here is Flow.

At this point I am just before the armhole shaping, having added three inches to the length. Lots of people on Ravelry agree that extra length is a good thing with this pattern, usually a couple of inches extra is recommended. However I am working with negative ease here, so I thought I'd add an extra inch on top of that.

The little markers are to save me having to count rows repeatedly, in case anyone is interested. I use these all the time.

This would be a quick knit if I would just get on with it.......

And this is the reason that I haven't been.

I have started a loose oversweater in Peace Fleece DK. This is basically Peace Fleece's pattern Josie's Crewneck - the main point is that the needle size is larger than you'd expect for DK, 4.5mm. And of course it is working up at a looser tension as well. I am expecting this yarn to bloom with the first wash - Peace Fleece always does - and I think that this should be very comfortable to wear.

The colours are pretty - Peace Fleece used to do different hand dyed colours, for a while, and this one was called Lavender & Lichen. I have four skeins, and they are all rather different, but I'm not going to worry about alternating skeins or anything along those lines. I am just going to embrace the randomness, or lack thereof, as seems more likely at the moment.

I didn't work a tension swatch despite odd needle sizes and odd gauge requirements, mainly due to extreme laziness, but things do seem to be working out alright, which is reassuring. It is such a pleasure working with good wool, and when the evenings are chilly - as they are, increasingly - this is just what I want to be doing

Summer does seem to be over. I hear it was on a Wednesday, this year. Hmmmm....

Wednesday, 2 September 2009


I finished the Hemlock Pullover.

This is a big pullover, size 50", because my husband is a big man. It fits quite well, although it is perhaps just a touch snug across the shoulders and around the upper arms. I think it will be ok, though. Rather too warm to wear at the moment, despite the dreadful weather we are having.

The pattern is from Peace Fleece - Siberian Woodsman Sweater. The main yarn is Peace Fleece worsted weight in Hemlock, and the black yoke is worked in Patons Jet. These two yarns are quite dissimilar, but the gauge works out the same.

The yarn requirements given in the pattern are extremely generous. The pattern says, for the largest size, 7 skeins of the main colour, 1 1/2 skeins of the first contrast which is for the yoke, and 3/4 skein for the second contrast, which is supposed to be the neckband and the line of dots. I worked with just two colours, as you can see.

I did break into skein number 7 of the main colour, and the total amount of contrast yarn used was less than three balls of Patons Jet. According to the pattern, I should have needed at least 8 skeins of the green and nearly 4 balls of the Jet.

Good straightforward pattern. My husband likes the colour detail, I like the nice folded stocking stitch neckband, which works very well I think.

The break was wonderful, although the weather wasn't entirely kind to us - it was cold enough in the evenings for us to light the stove.

This time we went down to Bath. Every time we go there on the water I am amazed at the beauty of this city. It seems that around every bend there is something lovely to see.

We spent some time at Bathampton, as well. The waterway is unexpectedly high above the city at this point, and looking across the valley to the stone built terraces of classical Georgian houses is quite spectacular.

But I think I prefer it away from the city.

This is our relaxation, and really there is nothing quite like it. A world apart......

There's been some more finishing, and some new things started as well - for one thing, the last Blue Moon sock kit is now underway, and I really should have taken a picture of this yarn before I wound it up, because this one looked much nicer in the skein.

It is extremely bright - shades of red, green, and yellow. The colour name is Garden Daze, however I am afraid that for me, these are the Traffic Light Socks.

Fun to knit, though.

I have made some progress with Flow, but unfortunately I didn't bring all the yarn with me, so that came to a rather abrupt halt in short order, and I haven't really picked it up again since. The main reason for this is that I have indeed cast on something else for myself, in wool, and I don't want to put it down.

Pictures soon.....