Friday, December 30, 2005


There has been a hiatus, and not of my own making. Despite the fact that the computer is anti-virused, firewalled, ad-aware right up to its eyeballs, I managed to get some spyware on here, which caused a right panic. All sorted out now though and not too expensively, either.

Just to tie up some loose ends: I don't think that was an Addi that snapped. I had never heard of Addis until fairly recently and this needle was one that I have had for years. In fact, its provenance is lost in the mists of time, so no, not an Addi.

Someone asked to see the front of the pink shoulder cozy. Here you go:

Front of the thing.

Side of the thing.

(You asked for it.)
Thanks to #1 daughter for her photographic skills.

The Garden Shawl has not really been doing very much lately, though she is growing slightly. She's just so darned fiddly. Usually I like fiddly but I don't find myself in a very fiddly mood at the moment. It is, I think, all part of my general unsettled feeling at this time of the year. I hate this period between Christmas and the New Year when everything seems to be in suspended animation. We don't seem to be able to get on with anything until we get the New Year out of the way. Can't come too soon for me.

It hasn't started yet, though I'm sure it won't be long - those interminable posts on the "Knitlost" detailing every, single charity hat; crochet baby blanket; pair of socks for Chuck; garter stitch scarf; pair of mittens and all what not, that each individual has completed this year. Yes, I do, in fact, have a list like that (for the first time ever), and no, I will not be inflicting it on you (not unless you offer inducements - yarn, chocolate, yarn, wine, yarn, yarn etc.)

Have a Happy New Year. See you on the other side.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Busy, busy, busy.

And when you are so busy this is just what you don't want:

Oh, yes. It's the circular needle that fell apart. Not too much damage done. The pink shoulder cozy is finished. The pattern says to pick up stitches all the way round the outside. She even tells you how many stitches to pick up. I'm sorry to say that once I get over about thirty, I can't keep count. So I threw caution to the winds and just picked up the stitches as seemed appropriate. I don't even know how many there were. It was a miracle that it was an even number, so the ribbing was perfect. Then she says to cast off and sew the hem down. Oh, dearie me. Give me a break! What is the point of casting off and then sewing the thing? It uses up more yarn (and at £8 the ball, 5 balls needed, we don't need to use any more yarn than is absolutely necessary), it adds bulk - this is lovely yarn but it is heavy, we don't need more bulk at this stage.

I did an Elizabeth Zimmerman. I took an executive decision. I am the boss of my knitting. I didn't cast off. I knitted until it was long enough (and I don't even know how many rounds that was) , and then I sewed the live loops:

to the corresponding stitch at the beginning of the hem:

and that was the end of that.

Of course, I needed a button. A big button. What with one thing and another, I didn't have a button. Big or otherwise. But I really, really wanted to wear the thing. Extreme measures had to be taken:

I just happened to have a pair of short pink needles. They all thought it looked great.

So did I.

I'm in the middle of making White Stilton Soup. It's our soup of Christmas Day. I'm also in the middle of working my way through a bottle of red wine (provided by a grateful punter) and I do have the rare red Bounty in the freezer. All's well with the world.

We brought out the crib the other day:

Yes, I made all that. It won a prize, too. It was the "presepio piu originale" one year when I lived in Torino. (I was informed by one adolescent boy that it couldn't possibly win the "crib of cribs" because it didn't include a palm tree. You win some, you lose some, I suppose.)

The Baby Jesus seems to have lost an eye:

but I don't suppose it matters if he looks like a pirate. It's His birthday -He can do what He wants.

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Pass that Frog.

There I was racing away on the pink shoulder cozy, when I suddenly took it into my head to check the stitches per four inches again. Yes, there we are, perfect. 14 stitches. Then I glanced at the pattern. I did a double-take. How many stitches in four inches? 18. What? 18; eighteen; one, eight; one ten and eight units.

You would never imagine in a million years that I have been knitting for over 40 years. You would think that I had never taken up a pair of needles before; that reading a pattern was a closed book to me; you would never imagine for the smallest nano-second that I could be so stupid as to mis-read the pattern and then dash on (using needles 4mm smaller than called for) until I had knitted up the whole of the first ball of yarn and a fair proportion of the second. Would you?

Pass that frog.

I have frogged the whole thing. I have started again using 6mm needles (only 2mm smaller than the needles called for - that's a bit more like it.) The drawback is I have wasted a bit of time. The advantage is that I now know the pattern inside out and I can use short rowing to make the curve smoother.

How did I do it? I cast on the total number of stitches needed, which in this case is 146. I used a separate length of yarn for this. I then placed markers to indicate: the central 34 stitches (this was the original cast-on number); 20 stitches on each side of that (for the cast-on 4 stitches at beginning of next 10 rows); the 22 stitches on each side of that (for the cast-on 2 sts at beg of next 22 rows); which left me with 14 sts at each end for the cast on 1 st at beg of next 28 rows. I then slipped stitches until I was at the beginning of the 34 central stitches and, using a new end of yarn, began knitting in pattern, incorporating an additional four stitches at the end of each row until I hit the markers, then I started working two more stitches at the end of each row until I hit the markers again. I think you will agree that this has eliminated the "steps" in the original:

Isn't that so much better? It is so often the case, at least for me, that the pattern as written could be improved no end. I don't know why the designer didn't write the pattern this way. It is not rocket science - the hardest part is doing the maths and if the designer had written the pattern this way she would have done the maths for you! Anyone who might have contemplated making this as written would be more than capable of working short rows (especially if they were well explained) and the added benefit would be that knitters who were unaware of the magic of short rows would have the scales fall from their eyes. Anyway, I'm pleased with it. I suppose tinkering with the pattern gives me something to do in my copious spare time.

"Happy Spider" asks if the pattern stitch has a name. In the book it's called "Slip Rib Pattern". I have never come across it before but that is not so surprising as I do not own Barbara Walker's Treasuries (except the Charted one) and have only a couple of stitch dictionaries (one ancient Mon Tricot book - "1500 punti", in Italian; and one collection of stitches, part of a Fabbri partworks thing, also in Italian).

That's enough for now. I have to go back to work and deal with Christmas parties. I'm afraid I'm a little bit "Bah, humbug!" at this time of the year.

Cheered up no end by the sky as seen from the rural backwater at 7.45am this morning:

"Red sky at night? Shepherd's delight.
Red sky in the morning? Shepherd's warning"

Oh, dear.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Yet another wrap

This isn't a wrap - it's a "Shoulder Cozy". It's another pattern from the "Wrap Style" book and I want it very much.

I couldn't help myself. I shot into the LYS yesterday and bought 5 balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Super Chunky in a pale pink colour. I wanted to cast on immediately but I took the unprecedented step of trying a gauge swatch first. The recommended needles are 8mm. Well, I knew the loose woman over here would need smaller needles, so I started with 6mm. Too big. I tried again with 5mm. Again, too big. I ended up with 4mm needles. That's a massive difference. I have got the stitch gauge bang on but the row gauge is not quite right. I am hoping I will be able to fudge the thing, or even maybe get away with making the whole thing slightly shorter. I am not a tall person, so this solution might just work.

I went to see Great Expectations at the RSC last night and managed to cast on and make quite a dent in it:

We start by casting on 34 stitches and then working in the slip rib pattern, which is a four row repeat over multiples of 2 stitches and casting on four stitches at the beginning of every row a few times, then casting on two stitches a few more times and then casting on one stitch a whole lot of other times. As you can see, this makes "steps" along the bottom edge and I only wish I had been more sensible and cast on the total number of stitches required at the outset and used short rows to shape the curve. This would certainly have made the curve smoother. "Plagued with latter wit", as my Dad used to say. I am, however, already planning to make a better buttonhole than the cast off 4, cast on 4 that the pattern suggests.

Here's a close up of the stitch pattern, which is one I haven't come across before and it's not quite as painful as a lot of rib based patterns are.

The yarn is very soft and luscious but it is starting to pill and shed already. I do not know how it will hold up during wear. The Alpaca silk that I used to make Lara has pilled dreadfully - it's only just stopped leaving bits all over now, almost a year after it was completed. I don't have a picture of my Lara, as it was knitted before I got my digital camera, as a gift for my not-a-Barbie sister-in-law, but here's a link to a picture of Wendy (the UberKnitter) wearing hers.

That just about wraps it up for today. Tonight is #1 daughter's Christmas Play; she will be the Ghost of Christmas Past and I will be knitting.

Monday, December 12, 2005

All wrapped up.

Many thanks to all who commiserated with me over the wrap disaster. I know it's only a wrap and doesn't really need to fit but when I put it on and it slipped right down, off my body and I ended up standing in a circle of green knitting, then I knew I was going to have to do something about it. It's all done and dusted now:

Here's a picture of the back of the wrap. It is really rather nice and lovely and warm. It is only fitting that I should have had to do one last little bit of frogging with this yarn. I've had this yarn in my stash for maybe 20 years. It never really told me what it wanted to be and I've started at least 5 or 6 projects with it and then decided it wasn't right and frogged the lot. I think it is finally at peace with itself.

Remember ages ago when that woman got in touch saying she was writing an article for "Simply Knitting" magazine about knitting bloggers and could she inclued me? Well, as far as I know the article was due to appear in either the December issue (on sale November) or the January issue (on sale December). It wasn't in the December issue, so I expected it to be in the January one. Due to an administrative error I managed to end up with two copies of said magazine, only to find that the article does not appear in this issue either. I said at the time I didn't mind being in the mag as long as I didn't have to make any of the ghastly patterns in there. I thought that might mean I would be drummed out of the service but it didn't seem to matter (although the article hasn't actually appeared yet, so maybe they have taken it to heart after all!)

The magazine has definitely not improved with time. We have a Crochet Shawl; we have three wine bottle cosies (I ask you, life's too short to knit a bottle cosy, especially one made with Wendy "Chic" (not) - a white eyelash yarn); we have a cotton jumper for a man that is just boring; we have a "practical and cosy ice scraper mitten" that looks like a shapeless blob; we have a "soft and funky" cushion cover (we need a pattern for a cushion cover now, it would be too easy to make it up as you go along); we have the piece de resistence (and my personal favourite), we have Muffin the Mule. It has to be seen to be believed, I assure you. The best reader's letter contains a picture of a mobile phone cozy made of cut up orange nylon satsuma bags and fastened with a button made with a sardine can ring pull. She has won a prize of "The Knitter's Bible" - we can only hope that she reads, marks, learns and inwardly digests and then maybe knits something halfway decent.

Last picture of the wrap:

Maybe I should fasten it with a sardine can ring pull?

What to knit next? More on the Garden Shawl and maybe, just maybe, the Shoulder Cozy from the Wrap Book. Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Super-chunky. Mmmmm.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I do not believe it! I have finally knitted my way out of the black hole. The Twisty Turns Wrap (I made a Freudian slip by writing "warp" then) is finished. The knitting is done. The sewing up is done. That was a feat in itself - as some of you may know, I am not fond of sewing up. In fact, I normally move heaven and earth to avoid it.

The construction of the warped wrap is ingenious. It's a bit origami-like and a bit like one of those metal puzzles you find in Christmas crackers. The one where you have to take the two pieces apart and it is impossible until you know the trick and then it's so obvious you feel completely stupid that you couldn't work it out. The wrap requires careful assembly (for fear of creating a Mobius strip - which I did the first time and had to undo it.) So I was already in a teeth gnashing mood and that was before I finished the sewing up and really looked at the tangled mess. It looks reasonably OK but (and I'm sure most of you have guessed where this is going) it is - I can't bring myself to write this - it is TOO BIG.

Oh, the wailing; the gnashing; the cursing; the swearing; the tearing out of hair; the walking into the garden; the yelling at the stupid sheep in the back field; the deep breathing; the taking stock; the realisation that it is not all bad; the going back on that and deciding it IS all bad, it's the worst thing I've ever knitted, it's the most stupid thing I've ever done.

At this point #1 daughter appeared and silently brought me this:

Yes, it's the frog.

I'm thinking I might be able to sew the back seam and snip off the excess. I'm thinking that if that doesn't work I really am up knit creek. I'm thinking that #1 daughter is quite correct and that the only thing to do is to frog.

And I am still cursing.

If this is the day the "Simply Knitting" magazine is published, and if this is the issue with the article about knitting bloggers in it, and if I am mentioned, and if you came here because of it expecting to be entertained, I just want to say:

I'm sorry for all the cursing.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Black Hole

I am knitting in the equivalent of a black hole. A black hole, according to Cambridge University's learned chaps, "is a region of spacetime from which nothing can escape, even light." There is even a picture of a black hole, which seems a little odd - surely it would be just, well, black? Whatever the case, I feel as if I have been sucked into this black hole and no matter what I do, I cannot escape it. I have tried knitting faster, reasoning that if I knit fast enough I will be able to escape the gravitational pull, but it is simply not working.

I knit and knit and knit on the green "Twisty Wrap" and then I measure the thing. It is 76 cm. I knit and knit and knit a bit more and I measure again. It is 76 cm. I decide that I'm not going to measure again until I have finished this ball/ knitted for an hour/ watched "Coronation Street". I measure again. It is still 76 cm. It is a marvel of physics, it is defying the laws of logic, it is driving me barmy.

I now understand why it is called the "Twisty Wrap". Not because it is twisted at the front, but because it makes you twisty. A word which where I grew up meant having got out of bed on the wrong side; to be out of sorts; to be disgruntled, cranky; you get the idea. I am it.

Want to see a picture?

That's it, for what it's worth. Yes, OK, it is slightly longer than 76 cm now (but only just). I cannot wait for it to be finished but it certainly won't be if I spend hours doing displacement activities. Like making snowflakes. On this site here. It has been down for maintenance but should be back up before long and it certainly beats knitting my way out of a black hole.

I spotted this in the Charity Shop (aka "The Boutique") the other day:

What is it? You may well ask. I think it's supposed to be used for holding paintbrushes but this is what I'm going to use it for:

All the dpns are in there. They are all arranged according to size and the handy-dandy needle gauge slips handily into the pocket at the back. What more could a girl ask?

She could ask that the knitting elves would take up the twisty wrap and do a few rows on it, maybe during the night?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

That's a wrap.

I pottered off to my LYS yesterday, not to buy anything (oh, no! not me!) but just to ask Nicky to save me a copy of the January issue of "Simply Knitting" (out Dec 8th, I believe) if, and only if, the article about blogs that I "helped" with is in it. I don't normally purchase said magazine - I find the patterns a bit too, well, simple really. The ads in the back are the best bit but as the same ones tend to appear time after time, I find it is sufficient to buy the thing about every three or four months.

The best laid plans of mice and men...I managed to stop myself buying yarn but succumbed to a book. This book here:

All the usual suspects: Jo Sharp, Debbie Newton, Lily Chin, Teva Durham, Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all are included. There are several things I want to have a go at in here and I have already cast on for Norah Gaughan's "Twisty Turns":

Of course, there is no question of using the recommended yarn. (Classic Elite "Lush" 50% angora, 50% wool), so I started with two strands of the wool/mohair mix from Phildar, that has been in my stash for years and still not decided what it wants to be. It definitely didn't want to be this used double on 5mm needles, so I started again with one strand on 4mm needles. The recommended needle size for this yarn is 3.5mm and the loose woman here would have to use smaller but I decided to go bigger to get a nice drape. I took a picture of it but it's so dark and unpleasant looking that I'm going to keep it to myself.

I'm not sure what gauge I'm getting - it's a 4x4 rib, so you can just about get whatever stitch gauge you want. The row gauge is not so important - basically you knit a long trapezium (which you folks across that pond call a trapezoid) and then sew (!) it together in a fancy way to make the wrap work. I like the drape of the fabric and that's all that matters to me. The only difficulty with the sewing up is that the designer tells us to count the rows and place a marker here there and everywhere. Two things: couldn't you tell us to place the marker as we are going along? (which is what this knitter is going to do) and couldn't you give the distances between markers? (as this knitter is going to have to work out.) I never was all that keen on Maths (nor much good at it) but I feel that if they had set puzzles about where to place the stitch markers rather than all those baths filling with water and men digging holes, I might have made a bit more effort.

I haven't done much more on the Garden Shawl - my KB has been unable to start for various reasons which we won't go into here, and she doesn't want me to get too far ahead. I don't know if I'll be able to stop myself but I have promised to try.

A while ago I posted about the odd things I have knitted, among them a Hasselblad camera. Tari said she'd like to see it. Well, I don't have it any more because it was made for a present. However, I had a root through my pattern stash and I found the pattern! Published in "Amateur Photographer" in 1979 (before some of you were born, I bet) this is the picture that accompanied it:

and that is pretty much what mine looked like.

A knitter has asked that I post about Pandora form Rowan #38 if I should decided to make it. I can't see that coming off any time soon but I did have a little play to help her out and here are some pictures of the results.

You can't really get the idea from this but it's a slip stitch pattern using two colours and a two row pattern alternated with two rows garter stitch and then the two row slip stitch pattern again, off set by one stitch. I just used some odd double knitting merino that was clouting round the house and 3.5mm needles. Here's a closer view:

The pattern calls for 4-ply and 5mm needles, so it should obviously be fairly "holey". I might give it another go with bigger needles. However, you can see the large "V" shapes - these are the slipped stitches. It's quite attractive, I think.

So much to do, so little time.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

More hats.

The Garden Shawl is slightly bigger than it was. It is just about big enough to stretch round the Addi Turbo, without pulling out the cable, which is just as well because I am still not keen on the "Magic Loop" technique.

I have a few more rows of the lace leaf chart to do and then I will be moving on to "Dew drops" where every round is patterned and we have the joy of double yarn overs to look forward to.

Lace knitting does grow exceedingly slowly - it's not a brilliant spectator sport (watching paint dry is more entertaining), so in order that my readers do not die of boredom while waiting for another leaf to appear, I bring you:

Old knitted hats!

This is the back of #1 son's head wearing "Vinter lue" from Knitty. Made in Icelandic Lopi (purchased from Scotland - the only place in the UK I could find at that time) on big, fat needles it was made in no time. I find it slightly itchy on the head but this does not seem to bother him.

Here is 'im indoors, having just come in from out of doors, wearing one of the Egyptian Hats from Anna Zilboorg's "45 Fine and Fanciful Hats to Knit".

This was made in King Cole DK 100% anti-tickle merino from Texere Yarns. It comes in loads of colours and is machine washable and lovely to knit with. I have made many hats from this stuff. As you know, there can never be too many hats.

Last hat (for now, there are more, many, many more):

The Fisherman's hat from Elizabeth Zimmermann's "Knitter's Almanac". I love this pattern - it is beautifully designed, shaped to fit the head perfectly, and with delightful shaping at the back to keep the neck warm but not get tangled up in the coat collar. #1 son, however, says the air blows in under the ear flaps. This could be because he is travelling at the speed of sound on his skateboard - I have never found this to be a problem as I proceed at a much more sedate pace.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Domestic Accident #271

I never realised that knitting was a dangerous occupation until today.

I've been doing a bit on the Garden Shawl - yes, it's slightly bigger - use your imagination. I then decided I needed to knit a little something for Pat-at-work, who's just had a baby. Well, he didn't do it all on his own, but he helped.

First port of call? All the pattern books/magazines left over from my two. No go there - all very nice but too much. I just need a little something. Next port of call? Knitting Pattern Central. If you can't find it here, you don't really need one. Socks? Hat? I liked these socks (not bootees, which never stay on, proper socks) but, strange as it may seem, I don't have any suitable yarn. Then I decided to go to my knitting books and found the delightful "Baby Socks" from "Socks, socks, socks". Plucked up the pink variegated Jaeger Baby Merino and rattled this off:

Skinny little steel dpns (bought in the charity shop, aka "The Boutique") and very sharp and pointy.

How big is a baby's foot, anyway? Further investigation reveals all about sizes. Let's hope it fits. Even if it doesn't, it's very cute. It's a proper sock with a gusset:

Toe grafting (only 6 stitches so no wine needed):

and everything. I think it would be a great introduction to sock knitting - all the juicy bits but small enough to cope with.

Remember I'm knitting this on skinny, sharp, pointy steel dpns? I don't know what happened. I don't know if I had a seizure, a fit, a momentary aberration, or what, but this was the result:


Monday, November 21, 2005

The Start

As soon as the yarn arrived I abandoned the "swatch" and decided to "Just start, Kate!" (as my stitching teacher was always saying whilst I procrastinated and dithered and read a bit more about it.)

Emily Ocker's circular start has never come out so well:

Much better than the beginning of Rosy Fingered Dawn - skinnier yarn, of course, so maybe that explains it. The other possibility is that I am becoming more adept.

I decided on 2.5mm needles in the end, since I thought the 2.25mms were just a tad too small. For some unknown reason I don't seem to have any 2.5 dpns - I have no idea how that comes about since I am absolutely sure that I have every size of dpn known to the knitting world. I had to fall back on the two circular method, admirably explained there, with pictures, too.

Here's a not terribly good picture of the beginning, note the red crochet cotton markers:

It was all a bit of a fiddle at this stage - the red markers for the different sections, the pink marker for end of round, the two circular needles flapping about all over the place. One of the needles was the new Addi Turbo, the other some random needle. It made me realise just how good Addis are - smooth join, non-kinking cable, just the right amount of "pointyness" (technical term) - an absolute joy to knit with.

I wanted to get the thing big enough to use just the Addi, but it seemed to be taking quite a long time. I decided to take the almost unprecedented step of using the "Magic Loop" method. I have done it before but didn't really take to it. However, the need to rid myself of the non-Addi needle overcame my reluctance.

So here I am pulling out the loop of cable at the half-way point:

The stitches are not normally stretched so much because I am usually squeezing the loop together but what with holding the camera, holding the knitting down, and the fact that the spare hand which normally pops up out of the top of my head is unaccountably broken today...

So you pull the loop out and then I usually cross the cable to stop stretching of the stitches:

and that's it. We are ready to roll:

Many thanks to all who put a pin in the map, if you haven't done that yet give it a go. I know you are there, you readers in Turkey and Egypt and Israel; in Mexico, Costa Rica and Kuwait; in Guam (where?), South Africa and Argentina; in Germany, Cyprus and Uruguay. Need I go on? Stick your pin in, say hello!

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I'm trying to breathe. The postman seemed to be having a bit of trouble getting whatever it was through the letterbox. I knew what it was, and I think you do too. It's yarn! Specifically, it is the yarn:

Yes, KCG Trading has come up trumps. I ordered the yarn on Monday morning and here we are on Thursday and the yarn is in my sticky little paws. It is a beautiful dusky pink colour and I think my KB will be very pleased - she didn't want a "baby" pink and it's not.

I have been doing a swatch (fancy!) starting with 3mm needles - too floppy (technical term), so I started again with 2.25mm. This is the result:

It is supposed to measure 6 inches wide after blocking. It is not finished, it hasn't been wetted, but it's in the approximate area. It's a shawl, after all, it doesn't have to fit.

Here's a close-up:

Together with the yarn, I also got three sets of Addi Turbo circular knitting needles - 2x3mm 60cm length; 1x2.5mm 100cm length. These really are the Rolls Royce of knitting needles. I had wanted to use the 3mm Addis for the Garden Shawl, but it now turns out that I will want to use a smaller needle, so that is not going to happen. KCG also included their catalogue in the package - it's good to have that, a big improvement on the website. Regardless, top marks to them for swift service.

In other news, I came upon this the other day. Becky Bowley must be the ultimate process knitter. I think I'm in the wrong job. There's a little bit more about Becky on the "Artshole" website. (Is someone taking the p**s with that name, do you think? Surely not.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


While preparing for the onset of the Garden Shawl, I have hesitated to start another large project. I have therefore been "messing about" with smaller stuff. I have finished a sock for 'im indoors:

I took this yesterday morning, when there was quite a frost. It looks pretty against the lavender, no?

I've also been casting about for something to make with the Rowan tweed 4ply that UKnitty sent me. I came upon these Nutcracker Slippers from Melanie Falick's Handknit Holidays and thought they might be rather nice. Needle size is 3mm. Well, of course, it's not for me - loose woman that I am. I started with 2.5mm needles. Hopeless. I tried again with 2mm needles:

The gauge given in the pattern is 27sts/40rows = 10cm. My gauge with the 2mm needles is 30sts/46rows = 10cm. It's near, but it's not it and in any case the fabric is far too floppy (technical term). Not only is it floppy, it is also flimsy and I imagine that walking around (even on the knee-deep pile carpet that I don't have) would be like walking on hot coals. I will have to think again.

Mother (not a knitter but oh, so cool!) said, "You need something like this." (waving the moss stitch hat in Louisa Harding Fauve). They know a bit, these mothers. Fauve looks like this:

and has a bit of body to it. Knitted up it looks like this:

This is the top of the moss stitch hat and while I didn't do a swatch at the time, I can now reveal that the gauge on 4mm needles is 24sts/32rows = 10cm. I wonder if I could get the gauge a little nearer by changing needle size and then just winging it? Or indeed, sticking with the 4mm needles and winging it? I need more Fauve to have a play because there was precious little left after the moss stitch hat. Naturally, that doesn't solve the problem of what to make with the Rowan 4ply but I think I might revert to Plan A and make Capone from Rowan 38. (A girl can never have too many hats, after all.)

I have also been playing with the Romance Shawl pattern. I promise I have not started it (not really), I have merely been playing. Some people might call this swatching, but I call it playing. I started with some of the recommended yarn (Margaret Stove Artisan Merino Lace, as for the Garden Shawl) in the Hyacinth colourway which had been left after the first Mystery Shawl. Hopeless, the pattern was completely lost in the colour changes. This helped me to make my mind up about the choice of colour for the GS, at any rate. I didn't take a picture of that - it really wasn't worth looking at. I thought about using the soysilk Kiki sent me. It's about the same weight and would do rather well, I think. The only thing that gave me pause was that I would probably want to dye the finished article, as the soysilk is a bit "none" (as Mother would say) and the construction of the edging of the Romance shawl would probably make this difficult. So then I thought about using some Patons 2ply 100% wool baby yarn in white and doing the border in the Hyacinth. To that end I am playing. Here's the beginning:

This is one of those nifty triangular shawls that starts at the centre back with 3 stitches cast on and increases 4 times on every right side row. I like the way this makes a very defined line down the centre of the back. Here's a close-up of the rosebud:

That's enough jam for now, we don't want you feeling sick, do we?

Oh, I've just put a nifty little map at the bottom of the page. Go and stick a pin in, why don't you. Who'll be first? Who'll be furthest away? Who'll be most exotic? Can't wait.

Monday, November 14, 2005

This and That

The beginning of the Garden Shawl creeps nearer. I have decided on the Sage colour. I briefly toyed with the idea of the Ocean handpainted colourway, but my experiences with the Margaret Stove handpainted Hyacinth for the first Mystery Shawl made me think again. Don't get me wrong - this is beautiful yarn and the hyacinth is a beautiful colourway but I really don't think it added anything to the lace and, in some ways, I feel it detracted somewhat. The shawl in the link is shown in Wedgewood and I don't think that detracts but the colour changes are not so great as in the Ocean colour. I have taken advice from my knitbud (who in turn took advice from Dorothy at Fiddlesticks) and it's the Sage for me. The knitbud (hereinafter referred to as KB) has chosen the Shell colour. All the colours can be seen on the Fiddlesticks colour page. There are other colours but Dorothy stocks most of them. Now that she has teamed up with Marsha at the NeedleArts Bookshop to offer online ordering, there will be no stopping me. I just love both of these sites.

Having had the decision from KB, I set about ordering the yarn. Obviously, I'd rather order in the UK, and, after extensive research, I have discovered that the cheapest place to get Margaret Stove merino is KCG trading. There is no online ordering, so you need to telephone or order by post. The website is, ahem, rudimentary - there are no pictures, the prices quoted are slightly out of date, it doesn't make you want to reach for the plastic (which is probably just as well), but it is the cheapest place and so I think I can live with the drawbacks. I ordered this morning and will keep you posted as to when the yarn arrives.

A little bit of housekeeping: Tari left a comment and said she'd like to see a picture of the Hasselblad camera I knitted. Me too, my dear. I knitted it years (and years and years) ago from a pattern in "Amateur Photographer" and I gave it away and never got a picture of it. (Even though the recipient was, guess what?, a photographer!) However, it looked very similar to the third picture on this page.

Francoise left a comment saying how she'd like to see a gallery of FOs. Again, so would I. It's really just a case of working out where, and how (and finding the time to do it, between all the other things I have to do/want to do.)

Corinne, if you are reading this, please email me (address in the sidebar, there) as I have no way of getting in touch with you!

Sorry this is a no-picture post - there will be jam tomorrow, I promise.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Tari tagged me for this knitting meme. I spent quite a lot of time thinking about it and I think I'm now ready to take the plunge.

What is your all time favourite yarn to knit with?
This was an easy one to start with. The answer has got to be Jaggerspun Zephyr. 50% wool, 50% silk and available in loads of colours. This would definitely be my desert island yarn. If I were to be stuck on that desert island, I would want a cone of this yarn in each of the colours.

Your favourite needles?
I have a pair of metal circular needles, size 3mm, 26inches long, very pointy. I do not know who made them, I don't know where they came from, I have no idea how long I have had them. They are the perfect needles for knitting lace. I also have some Addi Turbos, which are truly the Rolls Royce of knitting needles and really do make you knit faster. I was using them and 'im indoors said "You've got new knitting needles!" Closer questioning revealed that they sound different. ("like people whispering in the next room, in a foreign language.")

The worst thing you've ever knitted?
I really can't remember. I've been knitting such a long time and I know there must have been some real shockers in my past but I think I have repressed them. I know I've knitted some weird stuff (a Hasselblad camera, an armadillo wrap, Christmas decorations, angels, dolls, a duck) but the worst thing - I'm not sure.

Your most favourite knit pattern? (maybe you don't like wearing it but it was the most fun to knit.)
I am torn between the Pink Puzzle wrap by Sharon Miller, knitted a few years ago for Mother.

Mine's not pink, though!
A very ingenious construction - no cast on, no cast off - a true puzzle.

Or the Great Cosmos shawl, one of Sandy Terp's designs, knitted in the famous Zephyr in Iris. Great fun to knit, just as one section started to get boring, another section began.

Great fun to do.

Most valuable knitting technique?
Probably the dreaded grafting. I hate doing it but it certainly adds to the look of the thing. Provisional cast on is also very useful and these two are often used in conjunction. Oh, and learning to read lace knitting charts has really made a big difference.

Best knit book or magazine?

The one I look at all the time is Montse Stanley's "The Handknitter's Handbook." It's not much to look at, she's not chatty like Elizabeth Zimmerman, it's pretty dry, really. However, if you need to know how to do it, it's sure to be there. The book that inspires me the most is Debbie New's "Unexpected Knitting" - it's not about the patterns, it's about the ideas. Sharon Miller's book Heirloom Knitting is the definitive Shetland lace book, I can't wait until her new book comes out. Magazines I don't usually bother with. I like online mags and I'd say that Knitty is the best by a long chalk.

Favourite knit-a-long?
I have only done two KALs. One was Wendy's "Fearless Fairisle", which I did years ago, when I was just easing myself back into knitting after quite a long lay off. The other was the mystery shawl and I now realise that I am not much of a joiner and I don't really like KALs. I really enjoy knitting with my knitbud in Pennsylvania and I'm very much looking forward to starting the "Garden Shawl" with her.

Favourite knitwear designer?
This is a very hard one. I think it would have to be Dorothy Siemens at Fiddlesticks. Here shawls are beautiful, the charts are clear and easy to follow, I have never yet found a mistake in one of her patterns. I also like Sharon Miller's work. My first love is lace, of course, but if I make a garment I like it to fit, so the patterns that Joan McGowan-Michael has on her site White Lies Designs are very nice. The Angelina jacket has been singing out to me for quite a while now. It's only a matter of time before I give in.

The knit item you wear the most (what about a picture of it?)
This very much depends on the time of year. I think the thing I wear the most is the cotton Fisherman's Gansey. It is just so comfortable.

I'm wearing it right now.

Time for tagging. I tag Uknitty, Lixie and Annie over at Up Knit Creek (which has got to be the coolest blog name, ever.