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.