Thursday, 31 January 2013

Just a minute..... and some thoughts on intarsia

It's been very quiet around here recently.

I'm working on the garment commission, and am well into the colourwork now.  This is complex, and does not allow for distractions - reading whilst knitting, as usual? - not a chance.  Even conversation can become a bit disjointed, because I keep stopping and looking at the chart for just a minute.... and completely forget what we were talking about.  Somewhat anti-social, really.  But I'm enjoying the knitting.

Now, something that I have been meaning to mention.

Lots of people don't like knitting intarsia - indeed, think that they can't knit intarsia - because they are unhappy about how it looks when it comes off the needles.  Almost invariably, they set the work aside because they are so disappointed, and cannot bring themselves to take it any further.

There is, however, a secret  regarding intarsia.

It always looks messy, at first.

But then you neaten it up, adjusting the stitches if necessary with the tip of a needle, and darning in the ends on the back along the colour joins.  This makes all the difference, and it can be really quite surprising how much better the work looks afterwards.

So if you are in the I-don't-enjoy-intarsia camp - or even if you think you are in the I-can't-do-intarsia camp -perhaps consider giving it another try, and this time, sew in the ends.  You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013


I had absolutely no idea that there was anything on Pinterest connected with me.

Until this evening, that is - when I was looking through the blog statistics and discovered this, which has really surprised me.

A bit parky

It is still quite chilly here.  We don't have anything by way of sub-zero temperatures, it is just hovering a few degrees above freezing - not dissimilar to being inside a fridge.  This means, of course, that all the snow is thawing, leaving everything very wet.  If we do get another hard frost, then there will be a lot of black ice.

It has been trying to snow again all day today, but a bit half-heartedly, and it hasn't stayed.  I would be very happy indeed to see the sun come out tomorrow and dry everything off a bit, but that does seem rather unlikely.  Still, spring isn't so very far away.

I did make a pair of fingerless mitts over the weekend, using some oddments of Felted Tweed Aran left over from my Victor(ia), and 4mm needles to give a dense fabric.  They are very warm and ideal for dog walking as I don't need to keep taking them off - but the fabric is oddly prickly in wear.  This is unexpected as I've had no such issues with the pullover made from the same yarn.   I think that perhaps I should wash them and give them a rinse in fabric conditioner.

Here they are, looking rather unexciting.   But they are certainly useful.  The pattern, which incidentally is very well written indeed, can be found here.   It is unusual because of the neatly fitted thumb, which the designer credits to June Hemmons Hiatt, author of The Principles of Knitting.  The idea is one to remember, as it makes a considerable difference to the fit.

I'm working on a privately commissioned garment at the moment.  I do wish that I could put up some pictures as it really is going to be very gorgeous, but that wouldn't be appropriate.  At the moment I am flying along as nothing complicated is happening, and I expect to continue flying along until I hit the colourwork, at which point there will be a dramatic slow-down.

In the meantime though, it is nice to see the work growing so quickly.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Snow day

This morning we've got several inches of snow, and it is still coming down quite hard.

Every winter Jess greets the first snowfall with fresh amazement; it really is as if she completely forgets about it from year to year.  Right now she is out in the garden yet again - wading around in it, biting it, throwing it up in the air, and generally messing around, playing like a puppy.  She is very reluctant to come in, but eventually the cold brings her back to the house, wanting to be dried off and to have a little nap in a warm corner - and then as soon as she wakes, she wants to go out again.  It is lovely seeing her having such fun.

This is good weather for staying indoors and knitting, if you ask me.  Or crocheting, as in my case.

I've very nearly finished the crochet squares now - I have one in progress, and after that there is just one more remaining. Working these squares in different stitches has reminded me of when I did something like this once before.  When I was in my teens I taught myself to crochet, from a book belonging to my mother.  There was a section illustrating a couple of dozen different stitches, and I worked my way through the lot.  I didn't keep the squares, I just unravelled each one when I'd got the hang of the new stitch, and re-used the yarn for the next one.

Back then, I was working with the yarn carried in my right hand, and taking the yarn round the hook as if to knit.  This is because the diagrams in the book did not actually show hands in any of the 'how-to-crochet' section - there was just a hook, and the yarn, floating in midair.  So I just did what came naturally - being exclusively a right-hand-carry knitter, having only learnt that way - and had the yarn in my right hand for crochet as well.

When I started working as a Rowan DC at John Lewis a few years ago, I decided that I had to learn to crochet in the more usual way - with the yarn in the left hand.   This did not come easily at first, but now I am very glad that I made the change, and I much prefer working this way.  My tension is firmer and more even, and my hands and wrists are more comfortable.

I'm looking forward to finishing these squares though, and getting on with knitting something appropriately woolly that I can actually wear.  As usual after finishing a paid project, I want something for myself - and something quickly finished, too.  A new hat? - or mittens? - or fingerless gloves?  I've also just discovered this Reversible Stripes Scarf pattern - that's a free pattern, by the way -  and am very taken with it, but that's hardly going to be a quick knit.  So perhaps the fingerless gloves first, I think.  In Felted Tweed Aran, they would be a very quick knit, and that's a very sensible design, with the fold-down top.

Maybe I'll be able to cast on later today.  That would be good.

Monday, 14 January 2013

How did that happen?

I don't know how it comes to be halfway through January already - but it is no bad thing.  This is because it means that we are now halfway through winter, and this is definitely a pleasant thought, even though the worst of the weather is undoubtedly still to come.  The evenings are getting noticeably lighter now, and this is A Good Thing.

Today I had yet another trek up the M3 to the dentist, and it was a great relief to discover that the horribly expensive things that were initially mentioned as possibly being required are not going to be needed after all.  No root canal, no metal post, no crown.  There does have to be one final visit to finish everything off appropriately - but that's the lot.  We hope.

In general it has been very quiet here, and I've been busy.

One thing that I have actually completed is someone else's knitting.   A lady in her 80's (the mother of someone that I know) had knitted Seth, from Kim Hargreaves book Shadows, and was unable to finish it because she had injured her hand.  So I said I'd do it, and a parcel of knitting duly arrived.  

Incidentally, this caused a big double take from my husband, who came back from walking the dog to discover me with a lapful of knitting which he had certainly never seen before.  (Where did that lot come from?  Did you do that?)

All that I had to do was knit the last little section, block the pieces, seam, work the buttonband and neckband, block one last time, and send it back to its rightful owner.  This pattern is full of lovely little tailoring details, as is often the case with Kim Hargreaves' patterns, and I always enjoy finishing a garment - this one was no exception.  

I hope that the recipient will wear it in good health.  I do know that she is a very good knitter - I have rarely seen such beautiful even tension.

Once again I am working on the crochet swatches.  I was waiting for more yarn colours at one point, but that duly turned up, and all I need now is to actually get on and finish them off.

My husband has started asking plaintively if I am still knitting Fastnet.  Yes I am - just rather slowly.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Summer Stole

I can talk about it now!

Back in October, I was knitting this beautiful thing.

Kidsilk Haze in Steel, with lots and lots of silver-lined glass beads from Debbie Abrahams.

This is the Summer Stole, which will be the June pattern for Debbie's Bead Club 2013 - go, read all about it.  Signups are open now.

The designer is, of course, Alison Crowther Smith.   Go and have a read there too - Ali takes lovely pictures, unlike me.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

New Year

So here we are on the other side, again.   Still here, still knitting.  (And the fence is still standing, just.)

Last year was actually quite productive.  I completed 35 separate projects, although rather a lot of them were other people's knitting, and I cannot show pictures of several of those yet.

I have been somewhat distracted from my usual routine over the last few days.  The blame for that goes to a broken tooth, literally half an hour after the turn of the year.  I do now have a temporary fix, which is a great relief, I can tell you.   I've got to go back, of course, and get it fixed properly, and that is a moderately big deal.

Our dentist is not exactly local, you see.  We drive all the way up to Surrey - about two hours in the car, if the traffic is light - and we consider it entirely worthwhile, because of the standard of his work.  It is not common to find a dentist in the UK who is a member of the American Dental Association, as ours is, and the waiting room tends to be full of accents from the other side of the pond.  People do travel quite a long way to see him, and our two hour drive is not exceptional in context.

I finished the crochet swatches - well, most of them.  I am still waiting for two colours of yarn, when that turns up I shall be able to do the rest.  The ones which I have finished went back to the designer, who is pleased with them.  I was not quite so stupidly anxious about whether they would be acceptable, as I have been previously - perhaps I am actually getting over that, which would be sensible.  

And it has just occurred to me that I forgot to take pictures of the swatches before I sent them off .....  Well, darn.