Wednesday, 23 February 2011


We've just had an 'Andrex puppy' moment.

First there was this -

- and then she decided to make a break for it, taking the evidence with her.

She can't work out why we've been laughing so much.....

Monday, 21 February 2011

Square one

I finished the first square from my Debbie Abrahams blanket yesterday evening. This was rather fun.

That's two colours of Rowan Cotton Glace, and one colour of Rowan Revive, which is just as lovely to work with as I had expected, and produces a beautiful tweedy fabric. Also, three different colours of beads. And intarsia, obviously. Debbie gives two options for each square, by the way, so if you feel that you really can't face intarsia, there is an easier second option available. I am doing option one throughout.

The photo was taken with the flash, which surprisingly has given a pretty good representation of the true colours, for once. The Revive is one of this seasons new shades and is called Grit, for some unknown reason. I cannot decide if it is more turquoise or jade - either way it is really beautiful.

I haven't woven in the ends yet, nor have I blocked, which is going to be very necessary as the beaded border on the left has a noticeably different row tension from the rest of the square.

The blanket is constructed in long strips, with each square cast off and then the stitches for the next square picked up along the top edge. This adds stability and structure, of course, and also makes the final assembly very easy.

The next square - square two - starts by picking up along the top of this square. It has a beaded intarsia border together with a diamond pattern with texture and beading, and cables, all of which are on a striped background. There are four colours of yarn, and again three colours of beads. I can see that with this one, a bit more concentration is going to be needed.

Jess is napping at the moment, so I am seizing my chance and getting the beads threaded up; hopefully I will be able to get started properly, later on in the day.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Miss Mud

Jessie had a lovely walk yesterday. She was running with a couple of Border Collies who live near us, jumping and playing as puppies do, and generally having a wonderful time.

However, it has been raining a lot recently, and that means mud. Our little miss usually doesn't like getting her feet wet in puddles, tiptoeing delicately around the edges instead. Yesterday she was actually rolling in the mud, so she was quite a sight when we arrived home. She was soaking wet, literally covered in mud, and extremely happy.

Too mucky for the hose! It was straight into the bath after this.

She's all clean and beautiful now.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Black Opal

I have finished my second Black Opal.

Once again it is a thing of beauty, and once again it is hard to photograph. Pattern from Kim Hargreaves, to be found in her book Winter Blooms. I used a bit more than 3 balls of Kidsilk Aura - it is perfectly possible to make two of these from 7 balls, as this is what I have just done.

I am very pleased with it, and have every intention of keeping this one for myself.

I am continuing with Victor(ia), at the moment I am just coming up to the armhole shaping on the back. The fabric with Felted Tweed Aran is exactly what you'd expect - soft, dense, and drapy. Really rather nice.

Today I have every intention of starting my Mystery Blanket. This is from Debbie Abrahams, you get a packet of yarn and beads every month, together with the patterns for the next four or five squares plus piecing instructions. I am rather behind-hand with this, there have been two mailings and I haven't even opened the first packet yet.

However the yarns are lovely, and the patterns look interesting and varied.

This is the first mailing - three shades of Revive, five shades of Cotton Glace, and four different colours of beads.

And here is the second mailing - two colours of Revive, four colours of Cotton Glace, some Lenpur Linen in a lovely turquoise, and some Amy Butler Belle Organic DK in deep blue. Plus there are some more beads in there somewhere as well.

You can see why I am looking forward to starting - this is really a lovely mixture of textures and colours. It is also interesting to see the Lenpur Linen, Revive, and the Belle DK - I haven't had my hands on any of these before now. I particularly like the Revive, which looks rather like a DK version of Summer Tweed, but without the hard handle. It is going to be lovely to work with, I can tell.

I have decided what I am going to make from this seasons new Rowan books.

At one point, this pullover was top of my list. Because who doesn't need a classic cotton Aran to pull on, when the summer day is just a little cool?

But I am not going to make Landmark after all, and if you look closely at the picture above, you can see why. That central cable panel is not a cable panel at all, instead it is just knits and purls with cabling at the crossovers only - the cable strands do not travel over the purl background at all. Most unexpected, and I don't think I like it. So that's off the list, for the time being at least.

Baymouth is going to be made using some old All Seasons Cotton, printed with grey on ecru. I think it was called Cloud or something like that. I shall be shortening the body length overall by about 5 inches - making it 28" long rather than 33" - and I shall also be making the side vents not so long - I think something like 8 or 10cm rather than 28cm. I shall probably not turn up the cuffs, either, which means that the sleeves will end up being full length on me. And I shall add two front pockets. Plenty of modifications, but it will still be Baymouth.

Lambrook I loved when I first saw it, this is absolutely my sort of thing. I shall be buying yarn for this one, and I think that I shall probably be making it in the colour illustrated, which is rather unusual for me. What can I say? - I love it.

And finally Jellicoe. This is one which has grown on me. It did catch my eye at first, but the more I look at the pattern, the more I like it. This is made with three colours of Organic Cotton 4ply - brown, blue, and natural - and a slip stitch pattern is used, to produce something akin to linen stitch. Lovely. It would be a timeconsuming knit, but I'd wear it a lot. So this is another one where I am going to buy yarn, and again I think I shall use the colours illustrated, although there are lots of other possibilities.

So there we are, summer knitting.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Another list

Garments that I hope to make this year -
  • Lambrook - in Rowan Revive. A tunic, which is very 'me', and with pockets too.
  • Jellicoe - a slip stitch colourwork cardigan in Rowan's Organic 4 ply cotton, very pretty.
  • Something from Hanne Falkenberg, probably Studio in black and cream.
  • Something from Alice Starmore, probably Norfolk in sand coloured cashmere mix 4ply from Elann.
  • Something for my husband - probably a Sarah Dallas pattern called Horizon from Rowan 28.
  • Something from Marianne Isager - probably Asante, in Rowan Felted Tweed.
  • Brea, in Colourmart supersoft merino DK.
  • Fayer, from Kim Hargreaves, in Alpaca Cotton.
  • Wild Saffron, from Marie Wallin, in Stylecraft Nature's Way.
  • Denim Purl, in ecru Rowan Denim.
Plus I must get on with the Earth Stripe Curtain, and I still have to finish Victor(ia) and my Black Opal. Not to mention Julia, which has been on the needles since last summer.

There will also be a rather large blanket to make as well, that's paid knitting work which is very motivating.

I am overcommitted again, something has to give.....

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Zauberball Socks

These have been my travelling socks for quite a long time now. By that I mean that they have been living - in one of my little Knowknits bags - in my handbag, and they get worked on usually whilst I am a passenger in the car, or whilst I am in a waiting room somewhere. Progress has been slow, but finally they are finished.

These are for my husband and incorporate some small changes to my usual pattern. The heel is worked so that there are no leftover stitches at the end of the heel turn, and also so that the picking up of stitches along the side of the heel flap flows directly on from the last row of shaping. This makes a neater heel.

I am also now using my trick for picking up stitches without getting holes at the corners - it works, so I use it for every pair of socks now.

There is also a change to my usual toe shaping - I have used a graduated spiral toe here, this is the first time I have used it for a pair of socks destined for anyone other than myself. I prefer it, and my husband says it is fine - so that's a permanent change now.

One day I must write all this up in a comprehensive pattern that includes everything I have learned about sock knitting over the years. I have discovered that I can put stand-alone pages on this blog, and that sounds ideal for linking to a pattern.

I've picked up my Black Opal again, and am enjoying it as much as before. Kidsilk Aura really is a lovely yarn to work with, and the pattern is straightforward, so this is easy pleasant knitting. This shawl is worked from the point upwards, and the pattern falls into three sections. Each section has a different rate of increase - this produces the curved sides. At the moment I am about midway through the second section - I am just past row 70, and there are only 104 rows to do in all. However looking at it like this is deceptive, the rows are going to get much longer very quickly. I think that I am approaching the halfway point, in reality.

And finally I have cast on another pair of travelling socks.

These are for me. I am using 72 sts on 2mm needles, and the yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Wisteria. My husband comments that this is 'quite pink' for me. This is true. I don't usually like pink, and this colourway definitely includes pink, but somehow I like it.

I still haven't got started on the Mystery Blanket from Debbie Abrahams. This is because I know that my next piece of paid knitting work is going to be a blanket as well, from a different designer. It will be larger than the Debbie Abrahams one, and it will include intarsia and beading. I shall have three months, or thereabouts, to complete it. Quite a lot of work there....

Thursday, 10 February 2011


Finally I have finished it, and I like the result a lot more than I thought I was going to.

The garment itself is unprepossessing in the extreme -

There it is, a big chunky loop of dark grey/black garter stitch with some odd-looking shaping at one corner.

I have been trying to take some pictures of myself wearing it, and have ended up with a lot of pictures of my left elbow or the ceiling, the only one that turns out to be any good with regard to content is underexposed. So I am going to pretend that this is intentionally arty and blurry, and not due to my incompetence with a camera.

Shadow[]box is very easy to wear - it feels like a wrap, when you've got it on, except that you don't need to think about it coming unpinned or unknotted or whatever. My husband says it looks beautiful - I was extremely surprised by this, high praise indeed. It is soft, comfortable, very stretchy, and beautifully warm, as well.

I had been wondering about using a shawl pin instead of the button arrangement that the designer suggests, but it turns out that I like it without any fastening at all. The neckline works really well as a drapy assymmetrical collar.

I used four balls of Kid Classic in Smoke, and five balls of Rowan Pure Wool DK in Black, and I worked on 6mm needles.

So that's one more WIP out of the way. At the moment I am finishing off the Zauberball blue socks for my husband - nearly done, actually. After that I am going to cast on for some basic socks for myself in some not-basic yarn, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Wisteria - very pretty stuff.

Also on the list for today is a quick visit to Lidl, they have yarn and art supplies in store again. These always go like hot cakes so we need to get there today if we want to find anything left.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Head above water

I have finished! No more 4ply for a little while, at least.

I have been offered more work, it is hard to say no - my daughter has pointed out that as long as it doesn't feel like a chore, it is fine. And she is right, of course. So I will be doing more, it will pay for all my other knitting, and that can't be bad!

What I need to do now is a whole lot of finishing up of lots of things that are on the needles.

Shadow[]box is first. (I love making the little box with brackets. Very childish of me!)

Then my black Opal.

Then my husband's socks, these have been travelling around in my handbag for far too long, also I want another pair (or two) for myself so these need to be dealt with.

Then I can get on with Victor(ia) and hopefully have it finished before the cold weather is over. It is possible, but how likely is it that I will actually manage that, I wonder?

Time to take Jess for a walk now.....

Thursday, 3 February 2011


Whilst I tick along with my miles of cream coloured 4ply knitting, I tend to find myself thinking about knitting - as one does. The new season Rowan books are out, of course, and this season's offering strikes me as very good indeed.

Firstly, of course, there are two new yarns - Savannah and Panama, both with supporting pattern books. Both of these sound like a lovely mix of fibres, but I shall probably do as I usually do and hold off buying any for a little while. If I am tempted by either at the moment, Savannah is probably a little ahead.

Specifically, I like the textured pullover called Wilderness..... and this yarn does come in some particularly lovely colours.....

Of even more interest to me are the two Martin Storey books - Cotton Classics and Purelife Classics. Cotton Classics includes some patterns for All Seasons Cotton which is one of my favourite Rowan yarns, and I am particularly taken with two designs.

The first of these is Baymouth, very much my sort of thing, and I suspect that I already have sufficient yarn to make this.

The second is Landmark, and I might buy some yarn for this one - depends on the yardage required, I shall know when the book arrives. Martin Storey does cabled patterns so well, and this is a classic. (Pictures pinched from the Rowan website throughout this post, but I shouldn't think they'll mind - especially as I'm saying how nice they are...)

The Purelife Classics book is one that I expect to be dipping into again and again over future years. Summer Delights (an RYC book from a couple of years ago) is a book like that, too....

Anyway, my favourite here has to be the cover design. I do love pullovers with pockets.

This is Lambrook, and I shall buy some Revive to make it, colour undecided as yet. I know that I like Revive, because I've had my hands on some recently. It is lovely, beautifully tweedy and not too heavy at all.

And where was this, then? This year I am going to be doing something entirely new to me - Debbie Abraham's Mystery Blanket.

I have had half an eye on the Ravelry group for this over the past few months, and I liked the sound of the 2011 blanket - based around neutrals, with a graphic design rather than pictorial. The blanket is constructed out of separate squares - Debbie sends out a package of yarn together with the instructions for the next batch of squares, every month.

So far I have received two mailouts - more about these, anon - and although I have looked, and admired the beautiful colours, and the lovely yarns (including Revive - there, it took me a while but I got there in the end) and the interesting patterns, and the pretty beads - yes, beads - I haven't started. Before I can do that, I have to finish this....

Back to the 4ply!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

I never thought I'd say it.....

I am reaching the point where I have had enough of knitting with 4ply.

This latest piece of paid work is actually two pieces. They are both in 4ply, and they are both worked in a textured stitch pattern - the only differences between the two pieces is the stitch pattern on the main part, and the colour. I have finished the black one, and now I am working on the cream one.

Actually there is another difference too, the cream one is going faster because I can see what I am doing. My eyes aren't so young as they were, and even with a white cloth on my lap, and using reading glasses, there is no getting away from the fact that working with black 4ply yarn is no longer easy in the evenings. The cream project though, presents no such difficulty, and it is going faster.

I do have quite a tight deadline for these two projects, but I am hoping at the moment to have them finished with several days to spare - always a good thing, as you never know what's around the corner.

Working with thick yarns is not something I particularly look forward to, as a rule, but right now I can't wait to get back to Shadowbox (just two more rounds to go!) and Victor(ia), both of which are languishing in my knitting bag.

Solution - knit faster.....!