Sunday, 28 February 2010

Odd socks

I must be getting absent minded. I've finished not just one, but two pairs of socks, and completely failed to mention either of them.

So here they are.

First, because they are interesting (I think so, at any rate) - my Skew socks.

Pattern is here. The yarn is Regia Galaxy, but I cannot remember which colourway. Needles used were 2.25mm and 2.5mm dpns, of which more anon.

These were great fun to knit, especially the second sock. This is because the right and left socks are worked exactly the same apart from the heel shaping, and the gusset decrease. This is very counter-intuitive - at least it was for me.

The toes are anatomically shaped in a very pleasing way, and they fit very neatly.

I'm not even going to attempt to photograph the lovely swirl of the heel shaping - you can see this in the pattern, photographed much better than I could ever hope to achieve. Suffice it to say, this is why I wanted to make these socks - I wanted to see how it was done!

And indeed it is very clever. Follow along, and it all works out very neatly indeed.

Initially I thought that I wasn't going to be able to wear these, because once I was past the heel of the first sock, I discovered that I couldn't get the sock on. I have quite a high instep, which means that I often have this problem with non-standard heels.

So I tried a whole assortment of different things in order to make these wearable - expanding the gusset, moving the location of the gusset, both these things together - none of them were really successful.

In the end, the simplest possible fix was the one that worked. When I reached the Inner Ankle shaping, I changed up from 2.25mm needles to 2.5mm. I went back to 2.25mm again, a few rounds after the Heel Joining round - I think 4 rounds, if memory serves.

And it worked very nicely. I have a comfortable pair of socks here.

One other thing worthy of mention is that I worked these socks on dpns, despite the designer's warning against attempting this, and had no problems at all.

My other finished pair of socks is the gray pair that I made for myself.

I think I've arrived at my optimal sock pattern, with these. At the top there is a picot hem, worked with a provisional cast-on in the round. The heel is a standard heel flap construction, with a round heel turn. The toe shaping is a graduated pointed toe. This fits me really well, and I shall be making more like this.

The yarn is Regia Antik Patch, again I cannot remember the colourway. And I used 2.25mm dpns.

And now I shall go and work some more on one of the pullovers which are currently on the needles.

Or maybe the curtain, which is probably going to take me approximately forever to finish....

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Ham roll

Actually, a ham and a roll.

It occurs to me that I've never mentioned these. I bought them a year or so back, and now I can't imagine how I coped without them. These two things have become indispensable when finishing garments - and, indeed, when doing the ironing, to a certain extent (ok, to a much lesser extent, because I am lazy.)

I present to you my tailor's ham.

About the size and shape of a small ham - one wide end, one narrower end - and stuffed really firmly with sawdust, this is what you need for seams with any sort of curve in them. Shoulder seams, set in sleeve seams - this gives you a firm curved surface for your steaming, or ironing, or what you will.

And the other essential is my sleeve roll.

This is self explanatory, really. It is also very firmly stuffed with sawdust. You put it inside the sleeve you are dealing with, and then you can steam (or iron) the seam without doing anything you'll later wish you hadn't, to the other side of the sleeve.

Not that I'm knitting any sleeves just at the moment. It is still curtain curtain curtain all the way.

And the beginnings of a couple of as yet unblogged pullovers as well.......

Friday, 26 February 2010

More on the Back Join.

This morning there is the most glorious sunshine outside - it is blowing a gale, but the sun is shining and it feels as though spring is not far away.

I've cheered up a bit, too. When I was at the Pain Clinic the other day, I spotted a notice on the pinboard near the reception desk. The notice was about Stitchlinks. Knitting and stitching as therapy? - I can go with that. There's a meeting of the knitting group at the Pain Clinic next Tuesday, so I'm going to see if I can get myself along there.

I'm not sure what knitting I'll take - probably just a sock......

I've been working on the Earth Stripe Curtain, and it is starting to look visibly larger. Still got a long way to go, though - this thing is going to be 260 cm in length, eventually. That sounds worse in imperial measure. Shall I say eight and a half feet long? With more than 300 stitches on the needle, worked with a single strand of Kidsilk Haze? No, perhaps I'd better not.

As I was coming to the end of a row, I thought I'd take the opportunity to show you the back join in real life. (Once again, thankyou, Techknitter!)

When I am a few stitches away from the end of the row - 6 stitches, in this case - I stop, and cut my yarn. I leave an end, of course - about twice the width of my Altoids tin. I am bad at estimating lengths, you see, and it helps me to have something to measure against, before I cut the yarn.

Why this length? Because I know that I can work six stitches with a length of yarn equal to one width of the tin.

(And how I know that, is because I worked to the end, marked the place on the yarn by tying a little bit of thread around it, and then unpicked 6 stitches, and looked at how much yarn those stitches had used. This only needs to be done once, and considering the number of colour changes in this curtain, it is eminently worthwhile.)

Ok, so the yarn is cut, leaving a appropriately sized end of yarn.

Now the new colour is simply looped through.

As simple as that.

And now, I knit on with the end of the dark yarn - which is doubled, now.

Not the easiest thing in the world to photograph, with Kidsilk Haze trying to slide off the needle.

But you can see, I hope, what is happening. The last few stitches on the RH needle have been worked with the doubled end of yarn.

And when I get to the end of the row, the dark yarn is all used up, and the connection with the new yarn is exactly where it needs to be - right at the end of the row.

(This was completely impossible to see without a dark background, hence the tablemat.)

After this, I start the new row, using the new yarn, which will be doubled for a few stitches. And that's it. Kidsilk Haze is the perfect yarn for this join, as it is so grabby.

There will be no weaving in of ends at all, in the whole length of the curtain.

This is A Very Good Thing.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Pro tempore

So, it is time I stopped being mysterious. This isn't easy to talk about, but it is what's happening in my life at the moment, and it is - at the moment - a major problem in my life.

Since the gynae surgery at the end of June last year, I've had a problem with pain. For the first few months, I was told that it was just the healing process, and that it would subside, it would just be a matter of time - however, it didn't. Instead, it got worse.

In November last year I was told this was neuropathic pain, and referred to the Pain Clinic. Today I had my first appointment - yes, that was quite a long wait - and I have been referred now to Symptom Management, which is good, and should be helpful. The consultant gave me a little leaflet about this. It says on the front - Chronic Pain Management. And that was a bit of a shock, I can tell you.

In my mind, this has just been a temporary glitch. Just a little blip that's going to settle down and disappear completely. Probably tomorrow, or maybe next week at the latest. Now, from what has been said today, I am trying to come to terms with the fact that it probably isn't going to happen quite like that, and that I do have to accept that this problem is with me for the time being.

I can cope with 'for the time being'. That implies 'not permanent'. I can cope with that.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Ad interim

As you might have gathered from the lack of recent posts, I am not feeling too brilliant at the moment. The side effects of my current medication are turning out to be almost as unpleasant as the original problem. I hear that there are plenty of people who take this stuff with no difficulties at all - well, I wish that I was one of them, but it appears that I am not. And it isn't even making the original problem go away, either.

Sigh. I will get past this.

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

Monday, 15 February 2010

Weekend knitting

Bits and pieces, really - but interesting nevertheless, I think.

I grafted the Double Wrap Cowl after 44" of knitting. I am still loving this lifeline provisional cast-on.

Not only is it very satisfying to unzip the crochet chain all the way across in one go - don't ask me why, but it is - but it is also very reassuring (for me, at least) that all the stitches are sitting there on the lifeline, and you would really have to try quite hard to lose any of them.

Quite the opposite of the usual provisional cast-on.

Anyway - the idea of this cowl is to put in a half-twist before grafting, so that it forms a Mobius loop.

Just like that.

This makes it beautifully wrappy, and I like it a lot. One thing to note - made in Rowan Polar like this, it is seriously warm. This is for when it is snowing and freezing and blowing a gale - not for when it is mildly chilly.

Pattern here, by the way. It's a free download, and I can recommend it.

Other knitting during the weekend - well, I have been sidetracked yet again. This time it is by a rather amazing new sock pattern on Knitty, called Skew. I just could not resist that heel construction. If you haven't seen this yet - do have a look. It is quite surprising.

This was the state of play just before the 'origami moment' where the heel is grafted. Alas, it no longer looks like this, because there has been frogging.

An inch or so after the heel, I tried it on again. I always try on socks in progress, and this one had seemed to be fine - but it can be hard to tell, with unusual construction methods. Unfortunately, at this point it was crystal clear that the sock was not deep enough through the instep - in fact I had great difficulty getting it over my heel.

So I am currently working out how to add more depth at that point, and it is not entirely straightforward, as you can probably guess from looking at the pattern picture.

Nevertheless, I have confidence that I shall manage this - in fact, I've already pulled back to well before the heel, and started working it up again - and with luck you'll be able to see my new version in the next post.

With even more luck, it will fit.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Sparkly (and not...)

Time for some progress pictures, I believe.

So, here is the Earth Stripe Curtain this morning. I am still loving it.

The main colour, Bronze, is in Kidsilk Night, which is sparkly - and the deep maroon/red which you can see there is Port, also in Kidsilk Night.

It turns out that sparkly = hard to photograph. Never mind.

Did I mention that I am going to be able to knit this whole curtain without weaving in a single end?

None. Not even one.

Good, yes?

Not that weaving in ends as you go is anything difficult. But no ends at all just has to be better!

This is because I am using Techknitter's absolutely brilliant Back Join. This doesn't sound very intuitive when you read about it, but actually it is incredibly easy. Like many excellent little tricks in knitting, this is one of those things that is obvious once someone has pointed it out.

No ends to weave in here, either, but in this case it's because I've used a felted join throughout.

However because this is nearly finished, The Grafting is looming just a little way ahead. I don't exactly love grafting ribbing.....

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Things unfinished....

So far this month, I haven't finished a single project. This is because I'm still ticking along with four separate things - or rather, three, because Pyrenees seems to be hiding at the bottom of the knitting bag recently.

The grey socks are still continuing, and I'm nearly at the heel of the second sock.

The Double Wrap Cowl is nearly finished, just thirty rows to go. The current cold snap may motivate me to get on with it. (Or not.)

But the thing that is taking all my time at the moment is the Earth Stripe Curtain. It is so soft and lovely, and the subtle colours are so beautiful, that I don't want to put it down. It is still slow going of course, with more than 300 stitches of Kidsilk Haze on the needle it could hardly be otherwise, but if I only think about the striped section, then it doesn't seem so impossible. And on that basis, I'm at the 10% mark, or thereabouts. 18 rows done - 166 left, out of 184 total.

The lace section, which comprises the major part of the curtain, is another thing entirely. And I'm not going to even think about it just yet. If I do finish something in February, then it certainly isn't going to be this.

I've also been thinking about my personal target this year - 10 all-Rowan projects. So far I've only managed two - my Lottie Hat (which is getting worn a lot, I can recommend this pattern) and Chamonix. Pyrenees will be number three - and what about the other seven things?

Not a lot of use making massive lists, really - I never keep to them. But I can think about what I want to make next, after Pyrenees is finished. Which it will be, eventually.

Snapdragon is a distinct possibility - I'm feeling very drawn to that at the moment - but I know that I'll only feel like knitting this if the weather has warmed up a bit.

If it is still freezing, then maybe the Bressay Hap Shawl, or Anice, for which I would use my Rowan International free gift for this year, 6 balls of Rowan Pure Wool 4ply. But I'm also thinking about Sarah Hatton's Flared Cardigan, from Studio 8, or Rye, which is a fisherman's rib cardigan worked in Tapestry, or even Cellini, from Rowan 44.

Difficult decision. But I think that in the end, it will be Sarah Dallas' Wrap Cardigan.

Mainly because I want to look like this when I grow up.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Just for a change.....

I spent a large part of this morning on the boat, sitting in the front well knitting a sock, reading a library book, and with a cup of good coffee from the thermos at my side. The sun was shining, and out of the wind it was warm and pleasant. The gulls were wheeling overhead, the water was rippling in the breeze - it was just about perfect. I should have taken my camera, really.

My husband, however, was in the engine room doing something obscure and oily.

I can't help thinking that I had the better part of the arrangement.

Other nice things that have happened today - my new Rowan shade card arrived. There is a new format - all the summer yarns are on a single fold-out card. I like this very much - nothing can get mislaid, and it is still easy to file.

Also, Studio 18 arrived, together with the new Revive Collection.

I've been waiting for Studio 18 with great anticipation, there are some very interesting and wearable garments in there. I have queued no less than three of them, and I have been very restrained in that respect, believe me. I think that Grace Melville is a breath of fresh air with regard to design ideas.

The Revive Collection is rather nice, too. I've queued a couple of things, but I won't be buying any Revive to make them - it does look lovely, but I have yarn in the stash that will work beautifully for these designs. (Rowan Damask bought at a knock-down price last year.)

Ah, the joys of stash.....

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

A Really Useful Thing

Capital letters there, please note. There is something that I'd like to tell you about.

But first - I've not exactly been zooming along with any of my knitting projects over the last few days, because I've been alternating between four things, with the predictable result that none of them show any real progress.

Pyrenees is still not up to the armhole shaping.

The grey socks for myself - actually there is a bit of visible progress there, because I've finished the first sock. My aim with these socks has been to arrive at a pattern for the best fit I can arrive at, in much the same way as I've already done for my husband.

So far - worked top down, with a picot hem, and a provisional cast-on in the round. (Still my favourite treatment of sock tops.) An oldfashioned heel flap, worked in heel stitch, with a round heel turn that I am still playing around with - only fine details, though. And finally a graduated pointed toe, finished with what Estonian knitters call 'heart of a blossom', according to Nancy Bush - this is simply taking the yarn through the remaining stitches, and pulling firm.

The Earth Stripe Curtain. Ah yes. Four rows so far - only 180 to go in the striped section. And then the lace starts..... don't hold your breath.

And last but not least, the thing I'm spending most of my time on - the Double Wrap Cowl, because I want to wear it. This is, as always, very motivating. The pattern is here, by the way, and it is a free download. (Some lovely things elsewhere on that website, don't say I didn't warn you.....)

And finally, the Really Useful Thing.

You'll find it here.

This is a free online knitting chart generator, and even I can manage to make it work.

And right now I am going to use it to draw up a chart for the lace section of the Earth Stripe Curtain, so that when/if I get there, I won't have to carry the magazine around all the time. Much better that my usual little pieces of paper with cryptic notes on them.

Clever stuff, yes?