Saturday, 29 December 2012

Rain, rain

Wild weather here, rain and wind....

Part of the fence in the back garden is trying to blow over at the moment.  What is really needed is the digging of a nice big hole and putting in more concrete, but that will have to wait until the rain stops and things dry out just a bit.  And that doesn't seem as if it will be happening any time soon, so we've got the fence braced with a piece of 2 by 4.  Not ideal, but it works.

It is interesting weather for walking though, very mild despite the wind and rain.  And you know what they say - there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.  Right now, woollen handknits are definitely appropriate.  (Also good boots, and waterproof jackets of course.)


The fields are pretty wet but we've seen it worse than this over the last couple of months.  And when the sun comes out, the light at this time of year is lovely.


That's my other half and Jess, the other day, when we were out walking over the fields.

Still knitting here, of course.  I must take some pictures of Periwinkle, at this rate I shall have it finished before it gets anywhere near the camera....

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Homespun Vintage



This rather nice book arrived in the post the other day.   It was a lovely surprise as I certainly wasn't expecting to get my own copy.

Here, as you can see, is Homespun Vintage, Jane Crowfoot's new book.


It is full of a quite wonderfully eclectic mix of pattern, colour and texture - homeware patterns of all sorts.  Some are knitted, some crocheted, and some are a mixture of the two.  There is embroidery and applique as well, and all levels of skill are catered for, so there really is something for everyone.


I was lucky enough to be one of the knitters involved, and there are two cushion covers that are my work - just the knitted backgrounds, not the trim.


If you'd like your own copy, Jane has some on her website - here.

We have had a lovely quiet Christmas here, and I'm feeling so much better now, as well.   Today I've picked up my crochet swatches again - I shall have to stop very soon, and wait for more yarn to arrive - and Periwinkle is still progressing slowly.  More about that soon...

Oh, and by the way - I have finally worked out why this is funny.  I may be slow, but I do usually get there in the end.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Not knitting

I've been a bit unwell for some days now, and although things do now seem to be heading in the right direction, I am a long way from being back to normal.

So I am going to stay quiet for a bit and just rest, and focus on getting some strength back.  For several days now I haven't knitted a single stitch, and even yesterday I only crocheted for about an hour.  But I did sleep a lot.

I was going to say something about that - the crochet, I mean, which is currently my main project.  I am making swatches of lots and lots of different crochet stitches.  I know it is for a book, and that's all that I know.  I'm not allowed to show any pictures, of course.

It is actually great fun though - basically, here I have lots and lots of little projects that are all quickly finished, all different and all in lovely yarn, using different colours.

Just what I want right now, in fact.


Thursday, 13 December 2012

Finished

I have today finished Thing A, folded it carefully, packed it up, and sent it back to Holmfirth by Special Delivery.  It is guaranteed to arrive tomorrow, which is my deadline.

This has been a pleasure to knit, and it has drawn admiring comments from lots of people who have seen me working on it.    The best thing about it, I think, is the yarn, which is something new.   I shall definitely be buying some myself when it becomes available, and I think it is going to be very popular.

This Thing has taken me three weeks precisely from start to finish, not really any rush, just nice comfortable progression from day to day.   If I hadn't paused to finish the Apple Tree Blanket - and if I hadn't started the little rabbit soft toy - then I'd have had this finished at the beginning of the week.

As it turned out, I did not get much done on Tuesday at all.  A bit in the car on the way down, yes, but none at all during the rest of the day.  The journey back was just atrocious, freezing fog all the way back in the dark - and of course I cannot knit in the dark.  On Wednesday I picked it up again and did the last of the knitting, and today I spent a couple of hours doing the last of the finishing.

I am really very pleased with it, and I look forward to being able to show pictures.

Next, some crochet, which once again I will not be allowed to show - although I can talk about it, and I will.  Also, I think that perhaps there will a quick project for myself.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Eight things


  • Still here, still knitting Thing A, which is taking a bit longer than I had expected.  I am on the last bit now.  When that is done then I will have about two hours of finishing work to do - perhaps two and a half hours, no more than that.
  • We are off to the dentist tomorrow, and visiting relatives after that.  This means quite a long drive, and so I should get a quite a lot of knitting done in the car.  Whether I will get this last bit of A finished tomorrow is questionable, though.  It depends, of course, how much I get done this evening.
  • Edmund the Bunny was sidelined at the weekend.  Next door's new little baby can have him for Christmas, which gives me lots of time. 
  • I've been reading a lot lately, as I like to read whilst I knit - currently I have nearly finished Dolly, by Susan Hill, which is as spooky as you'd expect from that author.  I just hope that the ending isn't going to be a let-down.  Before that it was Breakfast at Tiffany's, which I had never read; and The House of Silk, which is by Anthony Horowitz, and really is excellent.  I can recommend it, and I hope very much that there will be more along the same lines from this author.  (We've got a beautiful new library in Trowbridge, and I am making the most of it.) 
  • I have some more paid work lined up ready to start when A is finished - but it's not knitting, it's crochet.  More on that later.
  • I am feeling a strong (and rather selfish) urge to cast on something for me.  Something quickly finished.
  • Yes, I know that lists are a last resort, but I'm busy, truly I am.
  • I do not understand this.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Apple Tree Blanket

Finally, here it is.


The pattern is called Apple Tree Blanket, and it is from Rowan, written by Martin Storey.  The wool is some anonymous pale green merino, and it really is pale green, not grey as my pictures seem to always come out.  And having said that, I can see that the colour is true in the picture above.


The pattern used to be free from the Rowan website but seems to have disappeared.  However if you want to make it, I'm sure that you could get a copy from Rowan - they are very obliging about out-of-print patterns.



I did enjoy knitting this.  The pattern is impeccably written, and the chart is easy to follow.  In fact, much to my surprise, I soon had it memorised.  There is nothing complicated here at all, and there is always something happening to make it interesting for the knitter.  And the finished blanket is a good size, as you can see - this is more of a cot blanket, definitely not just for the cradle days.

Once it was finished, it was very bouncy and the fabric was not lying flat at all - basically, it was much in need of blocking.  My usual steam iron was not appropriate as the apple trees would be at risk of getting flattened.  So I gave it a quick wash and a bath in fabric softener, and let it dry flat overnight.   There was something of a transformation - the fabric became soft and drapy.

I printed out a little gift tag (thankyou Eskimimi!), and we went round to our neighbours' house yesterday morning, with this blanket, a card and a bottle of bubbly.   We have not yet seen the new little baby boy, but all is well, and I am sure we will meet him soon.


I did attach one of my little labels - I rarely use these.  Perhaps I should do so more often.

Overall, I am really pleased with this and I would happily make it again.

Friday, 7 December 2012

I should not be doing this right now

I am not knitting Thing A at the moment, lovely though it is.  I know that I'll pay for this later - knitting 'til midnight, knitting the next morning whilst the coffee brews, knitting while the water runs hot for the shower - knitting every spare second basically - but I have no choice.  It is not my fault, it is all down to Rowan.  More specifically, Rowan's pattern for Edmund the Bunny.  

This cute bunny is the perfect Easter gift for any child and can be knitted usin

I could not resist.  (Picture blatantly pinched from the Rowan website.)

I have one ball of wool left over from the Apple Tree Blanket. (More about that later.)  I had intended to make a little soft toy to go with the blanket, if there was enough wool - and there is - but I had overlooked the possibility that there might not be enough time.  Our new little neighbour arrived a couple of days ago, some weeks early, and there was a lot of frantic last minute knitting to get the blanket finished.   Anyway - Edmund the Bunny is on the needles right now, and I hope he will be finished soon, because I really should be knitting Thing A.

And on that subject, a couple of things.  Please don't imagine for one minute that when I said people were admiring the pattern, that I was passing the written pattern around the hospital waiting room.  No.  They were admiring the fabric - the pattern of the fabric.  

Also, when I say that I dropped my knitting in my handbag - there was a bit more to it than that.  I didn't just grab the needles and yarn and drop it all in the handbag.  When I am knitting for other people, I do take great care of the work - it isn't mine, after all.  I keep it in a resealable plastic bag, together with a soft clean cloth that goes over my lap, and in which the project is wrapped.  What I picked up and dropped in my handbag - and yes, it is a nice capacious bag - was the resealable bag with the knitting inside, wrapped in a cloth.

And no, the reference to the size of my handbag is not necessarily a reference to the size of Thing A.  After all, my husband says that I have the kitchen sink in there somewhere....


Thursday, 6 December 2012

All change!

I have had to stop working on Thing A.  Not recommended really, when I have precisely one more week to get the whole thing finished and posted, but outside events mean that this is a necessity.

My neighbour has just had her baby, some weeks early.  Babies arrive when they want to, of course, and they don't necessarily wait until people have finished knitting things for them.  And that includes the Apple Tree Blanket.

So I have set Thing A aside - I was just doing some of the finishing work, for a change, and very nice it was to be doing something different - picked up the blanket, and am now knitting apple trees like there's no tomorrow.    It won't be done today, because I do want to wash it - and of course then it needs to dry.   But it will be ready tomorrow morning.

No picture now, too busy knitting.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Knitting is good

I've just had a really long day.

It is never a good thing when you arrive in the hospital waiting room and discover a notice saying that your consultant is currently running with a delay of 90 minutes - and it turned out to be even longer than that, in the end.   However it does help a lot when you have your knitting in your handbag - and I'd taken along the plastic bag containing my Rowan project.   So there I was, knitting away happily on Thing A, and you know how it goes - people always ask about the knitting.

Is it a scarf? - no, not a scarf, it's actually a *****.  (Number of asterisks unrelated to number of letters in name of Thing.  And yes, I did just tell you that it's not a scarf.  But you probably guessed that anyway.)

Much ooh-ing and aah-ing - much admiring of fabric and pattern.  (Told you they were both gorgeous.  They are.)

One lady said she wished she'd brought her knitting, but it was nearly as good sitting and watching me knit.

Another lady said she'd stopped knitting because her hands and wrists had become too stiff due to arthritis.  Cue discussion about how helpful bamboo needles can be.  She said she'd have to try that, she missed knitting.

Questions about my choice of needles - my usual circs.  Was I knitting round and round? - how did that work? - no, I'm just working to and fro as usual - see?  Cue discussion about how this helps with painful hands and wrists, because the weight of the work is in your lap, not on the end of the needle.  And the lady with arthritis said she'd have to try that too.....

The time just flew by.

Knitting is good, you know.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Panic

I think that I am now about two-thirds of the way through Thing A, and I am still loving this knitting.  I do wish I could say more about it - the fabric!  the yarn!  the pattern! - all are equally gorgeous, and there is so much that I could say -  but I must not.  

There was, however, a moment of distinct panic at the weekend.

When I first looked through the pattern, I made mental note that the yarn quantity said 7 for the size that I was to make.  So I've been going by that, and telling myself that I'm a certain percentage of the way through, and knowing how many days I had been working it it, was able to feel reassured that all would be finished in good time.  I like having little targets, and being able to mentally tick them off when completed.

There is, you see, a degree of time pressure here.  I had exactly three weeks to make this Thing - the yarn arrived about midday on Thursday 22 November, and the finished Thing has to be back with Rowan by Friday 14 December, so I have to post it the day before, Thursday 13th.  So that is three weeks precisely, and not a single day more.

And then I happened to look again at the yarn requirements, and was horrified to see that it most certainly did not say 7.  It said ? - I had misread it.

This was very disconcerting, to say the least.  All my little landmarks had been wrong - well, possibly.  But then I stopped and thought, and looked at what I had done so far, and realised that no matter what the yarn requirements might be, I was still very much on track.

I think that 7 is still going to be correct - perhaps 8, I shall see.  Either way, I hope to be posting this off to Rowan at the beginning of next week.

But perhaps it is a good thing that I've got some new glasses now....

Friday, 23 November 2012

Thing A

Thing One and Thing Two duly went off in the post on Monday, and have been approved by Rowan.

I will admit that I was quite stupidly nervous about this, and that it was a great relief to hear that what I'd done was entirely acceptable.   And then they offered to send me something else to knit, and I said yes, despite the Apple Tree Blanket needing to be finished soon.  (I will get it done!)  And that's not even considering all the other things that I want to make.  

So why did I say yes? - well, I've always wanted to knit for Rowan, but it has always seemed unattainable, and it is a very nice thing to be offered.  Besides, it isn't going to be all year round, I'm sure.

Anyway, I said yes, and so a parcel from Rowan arrived for me yesterday.   Once again - a quantity of yarn, a typed-out pattern, a sketch from the designer.  Up to our studio to retrieve appropriate needles, and off I went.   So now I am knitting another photography garment for Rowan, and of course I am not allowed to tell people about what I am knitting, or indeed what I am knitting with.   I'm going to call it Thing A.

Not being allowed to talk about one's knitting is a slightly hampering factor when one is writing a knitting blog.  But I think it is fairly well known that Rowan bring out new yarns each season.  And that these new yarns are nice - I don't think I've ever met a Rowan yarn that I didn't like, with the possible exception of Romance.  And I also think it is fairly well known that some Rowan patterns are very detailed.  And I don't think that anyone who knows me would be surprised to hear that most of my favourite designers work for Rowan.

So on that basis, I'm just going to say that I am knitting with a new yarn and it is truly gorgeous.  I would love to drop hints about the precise nature of the gorgeousness, but I mustn't.    The pattern, which is from one of my favourite designers,  is quite detailed and extremely beautiful.

I think it is safe to say that Thing A is also going to be extremely beautiful.   However at the moment I am not very far along with it and there is a bit of time pressure involved, so I'd better get back to my knitting.


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Things

Thing One and Thing Two are both done now - at least the knitting is done.  I do still have a bit of finishing remaining to do.

Tomorrow morning I shall take some pictures.  I cannot show them here of course, not until the patterns are published.  At that point I shall take great pleasure in showing them online, and talking in more detail about knitting these two Things, which I have very much enjoyed knitting.

Anyway - pictures, and then I wrap the Things up and then I shall take them to the post office and send them on their way.

And after that  I can get on with the Apple Tree Blanket, which really does need to be finished soon.


At the moment I am approaching the 60% mark - there will be five rows of blocks in the finished blanket, so that's very easy to work out.  Much to my surprise, I am starting to remember the pattern.  I do have the chart on my Kindle, though, to remind me.


It is so useful, being able to put knitting patterns on my Kindle - and there is a useful feature whereby I can magnify the charts, very helpful.

I haven't forgotten Fastnet, either.......


Monday, 12 November 2012

Onward...

Well, that was exciting.  To those of you who responded with advice, thankyou very much indeed, I am very grateful for this.

I had no real difficulties sorting out my email accounts, because I have two-step verification turned on.  If you don't have this - well, I recommend that you do.

It means that if someone tries to log in to your email account from a location, or indeed a computer, that you don't normally use, then they are blocked.  Google won't let them log in, even if they have both your username and your password.  It means that to get into your email, a person needs to have something that you know - your email address and your password - and, because obviously they aren't using your usual computer, it means that they need to have something that you have - your mobile phone.

Whoever it was that tried to access my email accounts would have found they were asked to enter a code which Google would send to my mobile - and of course at that point they gave up.

I think that that something similar must apply to Facebook.  Nobody managed to get into my account, they just tried to, and failed, and then Facebook blocked normal access to the account because they thought (quite rightly) that  something fishy was going on.    I eventually obtained access via my Google account.  Again this involved codes being sent to my mobile phone.

So new passwords all round, and hopefully that is the end of it.

Now - knitting for Rowan.

Obviously I cannot talk about what I am knitting.  Actually it is two things, which will henceforth be known as Thing One and Thing Two.

What happens is just what you'd expect, really -  a parcel containing pattern and yarn arrives at your door, and off you go.  Obviously there is no picture of the finished item - because that's the point of it being sent to you for knitting in the first place.  But there is, in this case at least, a little sketch by the designer, so you know that you're on the right track.

There was bit of a pause over the weekend when I found something questionable in the pattern for Thing One, so I emailed Rowan, set Thing One aside and started Thing Two.   This morning I heard back - my suggested change is approved - and off I go again.....  

Goodness, that doesn't sound very interesting, does it. But the knitting is interesting, and I am looking forward to the finishing.  Yes, I am to do the finishing as well. I'm very pleased about this, because I like finishing and am proud of the quality of my work.

Anyway - lovely yarns, and lovely colours.  But this is Rowan, so that goes without saying really.

I could show you Fastnet, which I have started.  But honestly it isn't worth it.  Imagine 7cm of 2x2 ribbing in the same colour as this photograph - and that's what I've got so far.

I could show you the Apple Tree Blanket - that's coming on quite nicely as travel knitting, and I'm approaching the halfway point.  I might even get it finished before next door's baby arrives.   But I've gone on long enough, and I think that can wait until the next post.

Friday, 9 November 2012

A bit worrying

Well, something is definitely going on.

Today I've had messages from Google telling me that someone  in the US has been trying to sign in to both of my email accounts.  Google stopped this from happening, and told me to change my passwords, so I have.

And now I can't get into my Facebook account.  Facebook keeps telling me to enter the code that they've sent to my phone, and telling me that they are having problems changing my email address.  I don't like this at all, particularly as they haven't sent any code to my phone - not that I'd asked them to in the first place - and I haven't changed my email address.

Advice, anyone?

Thursday, 8 November 2012

In a hurry.....

I have just ten minutes to spare before I go out the door to my Thursday knitting group, so this post is going to be reduced to bullet points.


  • Kaffe Fassett!   Go here, and scroll down a bit.   Kaffe Fassett is visiting John Lewis in Edinburgh on Thursday 29 November, 6pm.  If I lived nearer - it is more than 300 miles away from me - I'd be camping on the doorstep, I think.  There are still some tickets left.  

  • I finished two more pairs of baby socks for my neighbour, wrapped them up and presented them to her.  I think she liked them - she did ask for wool ones.


I was rather pleased with this.  They are incredibly cute - little tiny short row heels, and a decorative Greek cast-off over the top of the toes.  More on that anon, if anyone is interested.

  • I am going to be knitting some photography garments for Rowan.  I cannot talk about the garments themselves, of course.  But I am rather pleased about this, to say the least.  More on that anon, as well.  
Ok, out the door now.....


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Quite a lot

Time for a bit of catching up, I think.

Here is Ross, from Wintertide.


This is made from Rowan Fine Boucle, and I chose the Masham Stripe colourway.  The edgings are in the British Sheep Breed DK, I chose the Brown, this is the darkest shade available.

I do like the fabric,  It is pleasingly woolly, and the variegations of the striping are lovely, too.  I made no attempt to match the stripes at any point in the garment, and I am very pleased with the end result.


I never did get around to talking about Bianca.   I finished this ages ago, back in July, and it really is a lovely garment.


Again, the fabric is a delight.  This is Rowan All Seasons Cotton, worked in a reversible garter rib pattern.


However the garment as a whole does not work for me as well as I'd like.  The collar is very flattering, but is unfortunately not very practical.  The wide sleeves drape nicely, too, but the combination means that I cannot wear this under a jacket or gilet whilst out walking.  Also, this collar does not work well with a scarf.

It looks so good on the hanger, but sadly it just doesn't work in my wardrobe.  So, with regret, I shall be unravelling it, and re-using the yarn.

Finally, I have finished knitting a Color Affection shawl for a friend.  No picture, but I do have a few things to say about the pattern.

So far, more than 6500 people have knitted this shawl.  Skimming through the comments on Ravelry would lead one to several firm conclusions - firstly, that the edge is too tight, and that yarnovers need to be added and then dropped on subsequent rows; and secondly, that the choice of increase (M1) is badly chosen, and that kfb is better for this design.

I disagree on both counts.  The designer has it right!

The shawl is supposed to have a firm edge.  It is intended to be crescent-shaped, with gently spiralling ends - you can see this in the designer's pictures of the original shawl.    And M1 works quite beautifully.  It blends much better than kfb.  Yes, it takes a second longer to work - but in the context of the whole shawl, this is hardly a lot of extra work.

I ended up making this shawl exactly according to the pattern, with just one small change, which I do think is worthwhile.  The pattern says, quite simply, to cast on 5 stitches.  After that, the increases begin, and a two-stitch garter edging is established.  Instead, I began with a garter tab, which replaces the cast-on and the set-up row, as follows:

 - Cast on two stitches and work six rows in garter stitch, to give three garter ridges.  This is your garter tab.  After finishing the last row, don't turn the work around as you usually would.  Now, continuing to work in the same direction, just turn the corner and knit up three stitches along the side of the tab, one in each garter ridge, then turn the last corner and knit up two stitches from the cast-on edge.  There are now seven stitches on the needle, and you can continue with the pattern from Row 1.

Using a tab to begin (instead of a standard cast-on) means that the garter edging is continuous along the length of the shawl, and I do think this is an improvement.

Back to the knitting now - I have three things being actively worked on at the moment.  I am finishing some pairs of baby socks for my very pregnant neighbour, also there is the Apple Tree Blanket which I really must get finished.  And I have cast on Fastnet, for my husband.  I have Tarnish and Bute waiting in the wings - once I get the baby things out of the way, I don't think I'm going to be able to resist the lure of these two, and will probably cast on for them as well.

This has turned out to be quite a long post.  I have quite a lot more to talk about, but that can wait for another day.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Busy, busy

I have had the most wonderful time over the last few days.  It has been incredibly busy - well, by our standards - but such fun.

On Thursday we went down to Bovey Tracey in Devon.  There is a yarn shop in Bovey Tracey called Spin-a-Yarn, and Joyce, the proprietor, had organised a fashion show of handknits at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen.  There were garments from Martin Storey, and also from Alison Crowther-Smith, and some Rowan display garments as well, from other designers.  

So many lovely things! - and did I take photos? - no, I did not.  I have no idea why not, I certainly should have.

Anyway, it was a very entertaining and sociable evening.  I am now very much looking forward to gettting a copy of Martin's new book, Scottish Heritage Knits.  There were a lot of garments shown from this book, and they were all stunning.


We stayed at a room over the pub, with an appropriately sheepy view from our window.

Today has been spent knitting as well, with Alison Crowther-Smith and friends.  A log fire, good company, lots of knitting - oh, and cake!


By the way, I finished Ross on Wednesday evening, and wore it on Thursday.  It was, I think, very successful.   Pictures soon....

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Almost too much

I seem to have rather a lot of things on the needles at the moment, all of which I want to knit immediately, because I like them so much, and all of which I am enjoying immensely.


There is a second Hyacinth scarf - just a few rows so far, and reserved for knitting in the car.  This one is Delphinium, with Smoke Kidsilk Haze - the same colours used by Kaffe Fassett originally.  (The marker is to remind me which is the right side, ie the side that I need to work the shaping.)


There is another pair of baby socks, with a cable rib this time, and a tiny little cable going down each side of the foot - I've finished the first one, and have started the second.  Again, these are reserved for knitting in the car.

There is Ross.  I've finished the back, and cast on for the first pocket lining.  I ought to get on with this, it won't take long to finish and I'd like to be wearing it now, it is the right sort of weather.

There is Color Affection (sic, American spelling), which I won't show here, because I am knitting it for a friend.  This is lovely knitting, actually - I do love garter stitch.  There was a certain amount of messing around at the beginning, because I found it hard to believe that all those increases by means of M1 - you know, lifting the bar between the needles and working into that, with a twist to close the gap - I couldn't believe it was what was best.  Surely it would pull in far too much, and I even swatched, and then started using kfb instead - I had very nearly convinced myself that would be better.  But, finally, I stopped second guessing the designer, and got on with the pattern as written.  The only thing I am changing is the cast-on - I have used a two stitch garter tab, which blends into the two stitch edging pretty much perfectly.

And finally, there is the Apple Tree Blanket, intended for my neighbour's baby.  Plenty of time here, the little one isn't due until just before Christmas, but I know how things can get put off when you think you have lots of time to do them, and then you end up with a big last minute panic.  So I have started this already.


Here you see it not exactly looking its best, but I hope you can also see how utterly charming this is going to be.  It is great fun to knit, and the whole thing is beautifully thought out.  The pattern is from Martin Storey, it was a free pattern on the Rowan website at one point, which is where I got it.

Once again, I find myself wishing for more hours in the day.

We are off on the boat this afternoon, just for a day or two.  Jess is visiting the groomer first, she is looking a bit like a mop on legs at the moment and it is high time that she was tidied up.  I have a strong suspicion that she won't stay tidy for very long, though.


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

This never happens to me

I very rarely win prizes.  I don't know whether it is something to do with my surname - Winning - but it just doesn't happen.


Except that the other day, it did.  I have won a runner-up prize from The Making Spot.   It is a softback booklet - Irresistible Christmas Gifts to Knit - and I am rather pleased about it.

I am particularly pleased because amongst other things, it contains a copy of Martin Storey's pattern Homestead.


I have liked this pattern for a long time, but somehow never got round to buying Rowan Homestead Classics, which was the book where it was published.  And now I have the pattern, for free.  Excellent!  I've been looking through the stash, and have found Felted Tweed in Seafarer and Clay, which I think will work beautifully.

By the way, The Secret Thing is finished.  Normal knitting content will resume shortly!

Friday, 12 October 2012

And here's one I made earlier.....

The problem with secret sample knitting, when combined with blogging, is that it leaves one with no knitting to talk about.  This is quite frustrating when one is actually very enthusiastic about The Secret Thing, which is turning out to be quite stunningly beautiful - but there is not a lot to be done about it.  

But every so often something unexpected comes along, which is just perfect...

Here is something that I made earlier this year.


I knitted this as a sample for the wonderful Jane Crowfoot, and she now has the pattern for sale on her website, as part of her autumn collection.  It is available as a download, and it costs £3.25    (Picture with Jane's permission, of course.)    Jane says that it will soon also be available as a kit.

This wrap looks very intricate, but it is actually a lot easier to knit than it appears.  The trick is that the whole thing is knitted in blocks, which are connected as you go along.   At the end, there are just two straight seams to sew, and that's very easy indeed with mattress stitch.  When you do this, you see the pattern come to life - sections from one block link up with the one you are seaming next to it, and the whole thing comes together.

Don't worry about the beading, either, if you've never tried this before - it isn't difficult at all.  

I was so pleased with this when it was finished, and it is such a pleasure to look at Jane's picture and know that others will now be knitting this as well, and enjoying it as I did.

So just to recap - the pattern is here.  Enjoy!


Sunday, 7 October 2012

210 metres

I finished my Black Hyacinth scarf yesterday.



This has only been worked on whilst I have been a car passenger, so it has taken a while.  Yesterday there was a fair amount of time in the car, and mostly I worked on the Secret Thing - but then I needed more beads, and it just isn't sensible to thread beads in a moving car.  So that went back in the project bag, and the scarf came out of the glove compartment instead.

The pattern for the Hyacinth Scarf is from Knitting with the Color Guys, by Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably.  It is a very simple pattern - the yarn does the work.  I used a ball of Kaffe Fassett's Design Line sock yarn, in Anthracite, together with a ball of Kidsilk Haze in Wicked, which is black.   Hence, of course, Black Hyacinth.

There is just one thing, though.  Both of these balls of yarn are supposed to be 210 metres, or thereabouts.  But the sock yarn turned out to have much less length than the Kidsilk Haze - I started another ball of sock yarn to finish off the KSH, and I used 9 grams of the 50 gram ball.  So I suppose that's an 18% variation in length, which sounds like quite a lot.

However if one of the yarns measures 10 % less, and the other 10 % more than the average of 210 metres, then this difference is well within tolerance.    But if you are making one of these scarves, you might want to just bear this in mind.



I'm going to start another one fairly soon - this one in the colours used by Kaffe in the book.  This is his Design Line sock yarn in Delphinium, and Kidsilk Haze in Smoke.  It will be interesting to see what happens here, with regard to the respective lengths.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Beach!

Today we went to the beach.  This is not something we've done for ages, because it is quite a long drive - more than 50 miles to the coast.


Jess has never been to the beach before, and of course she loved it.



There was a lot of excited running around, and also a certain amount of rolling in malodorous things, mostly dead crabs.   But we won't dwell on that.


One thing is certain, though -


We'll be back.


Friday, 5 October 2012

Still secret....

So, I am still doing my secret sample knitting.  It is going to be so pretty - I really am pleased with how it is working up.  But I think that's about all I'm allowed to say, so I shall talk about the yarn instead.

I'm sure you will have realised that this is Rowan Kidsilk Haze.  The colour, however, is a new one.  It is 664 Steel, and seems to be something of a chameleon colour.  It is a silvery grey, but sometimes it looks almost blue, sometimes I can see hints of purple, and sometimes it looks like a dusty grey-green.  It is lovely, and I can see it becoming one of my favourites, alongside Majestic and Elegance, which last is now of course discontinued, much lamented by me.  Oh, and not forgetting Turkish Plum!

Lots of things waiting in the wings - baby socks and baby blanket for my neighbour - pullover for my husband - Ross for myself - must crack on!


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Three nice things

First - a little video.


I remember these from a long time ago.  Wonderful!


Second - I am going to a new knitting group this afternoon.   Actually it isn't entirely new to me, but it is several years since I've been to this particular group, so it feels new.  This group is at the hospital in Bath, where there is a very real interest in knitting to improve wellbeing and to improve self management of long term illness and chronic pain.  

The place to look for more information is Stitchlinks.



And finally - there is this.



Another sample knit.   I am allowed to show it - but not to talk about it, so I will say no more.

But isn't it beautiful?

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Teeny tiny

My neighbours are expecting their first baby soon.  I asked if they would like any handknits, and Lorraine asked for baby socks, in wool.


These are so tiny I can hardly believe it.

The pattern is called Better Than Booties.  It was a free download from Interweave, years ago, and is by Ann Budd.  Knitted from the top down, exactly as a normal pair of socks, with 2mm dpns.  There is, as you can see, a picot edging to the top.  The heel and toe are worked with Patricia Gibson-Roberts' short row method, and the socks are finished with a zigzag cast-off along the top, just above the toe section.

I think I may have to make some more of these.

At the other extreme of the knitting spectrum, possibly - Ross is coming along nicely.


There is a slight problem, as I'm sure you can see - the fabric is biasing like nobody's business.  I know why this is happening, I think - it is the nature of the way the yarn is spun.  And now that I stop and think about it, I remember my mother knitting a dress some years ago with Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Astrakhan, which was a boucle yarn - and she had the same problem then.

Blocking should help a lot - at least, I hope that it will.  I want to like this yarn, the fabric feels so lovely, and I'd like to use it for a pullover.   Well, we shall see...

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Little Neath Shrug

Finished!


Another sample knit for Alison Crowther Smith, this is the Little Neath Shrug.  

It is knitted with one strand each of Rowan Kidsilk Haze and Rowan Fine Lace, held together - this is a lot easier than you'd think, the combination is very well behaved.  The sleeves are soft and loose, knitted with a gentle rippling texture to the fabric and dotted with little garlands of beads, held in at the wrist by a simple cuff in twisted rib, which provides a nice contrast.  The tops of the arms and the back are worked in a simple lace ribbing - very pretty, and easy to knit.

The fabric is the star here, though.



Another really pretty thing! - I do love having all these lovely things to work on.   This one is now all packed up and heading off to the Post Office in short order.

Still knitting here - something completely different.....


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Singing River Shrug

Off the needles this morning!


Another sample knit for Alison Crowther Smith - this is another version of the Singing River Shrug, grafted at the centre back this time, so that it can be worn equally as a scarf or a shrug.

Kidsilk Haze in Majestic, and Baby Merino Silk DK in Rose - and purple beads.



I'm rather pleased with this, it is very pretty.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Knitting in the rain

I was very tempted to title this post, 'Twas a dark and rainy night morning.  However I have restrained myself.

We came home at the weekend, because some heavy weather was forecast.  It is nice to be back at the house again.  Right now I have the place to myself, because my other half has gone to take his mother to a hospital appointment - a long drive on a dark rainy morning.  But very necessary.

Jess thinks it is all very exciting when we get up early and, not surprisingly, wants her breakfast early as well.  We, however, are wise to this, and don't co-operate - because if she gets her breakfast early one day, she'll want it early the next day as well, and the day after, and she'll wake us up accordingly.  I swear she has a clock in her tummy.  (Captain Hook's crocodile comes to mind.)   So for most of the last hour, she's been sitting alternately by her bowl and by the door of the cupboard where her food is kept, giving very pointed looks at the bowl, the cupboard, and me. I think she thinks I am a bit slow on the uptake.

Right now she's asleep next to me on the sofa (yes, she has us quite well trained really) with a full tummy.  It is getting light outside now, and it is raining hard.  And I am knitting.

I've had so many lovely things through my hands in recent weeks, all sample knits, and all such a pleasure.  Last but not least is the current version of the Singing River Shrug from Alison Crowther-Smith - last time I posted, I had just started.   A couple of days ago I had nearly finished the first side -


- and right now, I am working on the last part of the second side.

The first version of this shrug had a laced ribbon-back - this version is to have a grafted back, and will double as a rather special scarf.   One sleeve and half-back is finished, and the other is nearly done, I am just working on the half-back part of it.  Today the knitting will be finished, and I shall graft the two pieces together, and block it gently.   And then there will be a picture, and I shall pack everything up and send it off to its rightful owner.

And after that? - I have the back of Ross half-finished and waiting on the needles.  I shall cast on for Fastnet, for my husband - he wants quite a few changes to the pattern, which will be interesting.  And I shall also be casting on for a baby blanket, as our neighbours are expecting their first baby - lovely!

Finally, a picture from the boat, in the sunshine.  Neither Jess nor the swan are quite sure about the situation...


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Knitting in the sunshine

Things are really rather lovely at the moment.  We're on the narrowboat and have been for a few days now, the sun is shining, and I have lots of lovely knitting and absolutely nothing else that needs to be done.  No chores, no errands, nothing.  Just time to myself.

So I'm sitting here in the front of the boat as we go along, Jess is at my feet - well actually she is sitting on my feet - and I have a cup of good coffee to hand, and my knitting.


That's another Singing River Shrug, and it is looking pretty good, if I do say so myself.

We will not mention the huge search for the 4mm dpns that ensued yesterday, when I went to cast on for this.    The thing about knitting on a narrowboat is that you cannot just pop upstairs to the studio and get something, you have to actually remember to take it all with you, preferably in the correct project bag.

I did find them in the end, of course.

And now I have to go and open a swing bridge....

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Handbag knitting

I've been meaning to post about this for a while - and I don't mean knitting an actual handbag, I mean knitting that lives in my handbag.

Projects like this tend to grow very slowly, because I only work on them while I am a car passenger, or while I am in a waiting room of some sort.  At the moment I have two handbag knitting projects, one of them is a sock for myself, and the other is this.


This is my version of the Hyacinth Scarf from Kaffe Fassett's most recent book, Knitting with the Color Guys.

It is a very simple thing, but I am enjoying it very much.  This is a very straightforward garter stitch scarf, worked on the bias, with one strand of Kaffe's sock yarn and one strand of Kidsilk Haze held together.  The idea is that the Kidsilk Haze softens the colours of the sock yarn and produces a sort of glaze of colour.

(The marker is to remind me which side of the fabric to do the shaping.)

Here, I am using Anthracite from KF's Design Line, and Kidsilk Haze in Wicked, which is of course just plain black.  And this works really well.  All the colours in the sock yarn are deepened, and the contrasts are softened and blurred.  The fabric is lovely and soft, of course, and the lengths of the two yarns are pretty much identical so there will be minimal leftovers, if any.


The colours here are a little bleached out, but you can see the subtle blend of colours produced by this combination.

I keep thinking about other colour possibilities.  But perhaps I need to be just a little careful, this pattern could easily become addictive.


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Need I say more...?

This is recently off the needles, and oh, how I wish I'd taken more photos....

All I have is this -


And this -


The colours are best in the first photo.

The designer is Jane Crowfoot, and the pattern is going to be available as a download from her website, Janie Crow.

The yarn is Rowan Cashsoft 4ply, the beads are from Debbie Abrahams, and although the finished scarf - or is it a wrap? - looks amazingly complex, it is actually not as difficult as it looks, because of the clever construction.

I did enjoy knitting this.



Monday, 10 September 2012

Catch up!

Right now we are moored just above the lock at Bradford on Avon, and mirabile visu, I am blogging.  Hooray for modern technology!  We now have internet access whilst we are on the boat - well, for some of the time, at least.  The connection turns out to be variable in the extreme - it is apparent that signal strength on the waterways is no sort of priority for the networks.

High time I caught up with what's on the needles at the moment.

I've just finished knitting this for Alison - the first of a pair, obviously.



Please ignore my un-beautiful hand and look at the beautiful fingerless mitt instead.  Rowan Pure Wool 4ply in Eau de Nil 450 - and Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Turkish Plum 660, which is my new favourite KSH colour.  


Corkscrew Mitts, from Alison Crowther-Smith - but you guessed that, I am sure.  These are from her new collection of designs.

Also from Ali, and also from her new collection -


This is a shrug, worked in Kidsilk Haze held together with Fine Lace.  Plus beads, plus a clever tuck stitch that gives a cloudy, slightly puffy effect to the fabric - plus lace ribbing.....  lovely fun to knit, and this is going to be a gorgeous garment.


This is the Little Neath Shrug, worked in Ember 644 KSH and Ochre 930 Fine Lace.  My camera is not showing the colour to advantage, as usual.  

Apart from this, there is my own knitting, which isn't looking nearly as beautiful.


This is going to be Ross, from Wintertide.  I like waistcoats, and garments which have pockets are always a plus for me.  I haven't worked with a boucle yarn for ages, and when I saw that there was a stripe variation for this particular yarn - Rowan Fine Boucle - I wanted to see what it was like.  Because, you know, I love self-striping yarns.  And that is probably because I am easily entertained.



So this is Masham Stripe, and I can promise you that there really are stripes, it is not me being clever with the camera, because I don't know how to do things like that.

I like this yarn.  The fabric is lovely, soft and nicely woolly, just what one wants at this time of the year.  It is surprisingly well behaved to work with, as well, and I do like the fact that all the colours are natural shades of the wool, undyed.    I am sure I will be using this again.

I will leave you with these gorgeous autumn colours - this is, I think, Virginia creeper, or it might be Boston Ivy - I can never remember how to tell the difference.  Growing wild over an ash tree, near Dundas Aqueduct.


Also, I am on Facebook now.  If I can just work out how to put a link, like the Ravelry link, that would be good.  I'll get there.....