Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I think I've decided

I have have a couple of days off blogging (you may have noticed). The weekends are always very busy for me at work and this weekend was busier than most, for reasons I won't go into here, lest it turn into the mother of all rants. If that weren't bad enough, I suffer from hayfever and the last few days have been particularly bad. So much so that on Sunday I found myself gasping for breath and almost unable to speak. While the not speaking part was a big relief for some, it wasn't much fun for me. I decided to take myself off to A & E (that's the ER for all you American English speakers out there). Of course, I had to wait until I'd finished work, so all this took place at dead of night.

The worst of it was that though I had knitting with me (we all know what happens when you set off anywhere without your knitting), I couldn't actually knit. I had that thing on the left index finger (just like in "ER") that beeps all the time. I found myself waiting for the next beep just to check I was still alive. In the right wrist I had a cannula, for drawing blood and giving IV drugs, which restricted movement somewhat. Then they told me to "relax". I ask you! After a deal of "relaxing", plenty of beeping and a shot of hydrocortisone, the doctor announced, "I'm thinking of sending you home." It never entered my head that he would be thinking of NOT sending me home! I finally got home at 3.30am and fell into bed, able to speak but too tired to do so.

This whole episode has left me fairly weak, hence no blogging. There's been a bit of knitting on the Highland Triangle - still a tangled mass/mess but nearly on to the edging. Edgings always take forever, so I don't foresee its being finished this week. That's the trouble with lace knitting for blogging purposes - everything takes so long. Not like all those folk who crank out scarves on 12mm needles with chunky wool at the rate of about one every two hours.

I've had a little go at the Two End Knitting. (Not a swatch, oh, no, no swatching for me.)

This shows the public side and a nice view of the cast on edge. You need to use three strands of yarn for the cast on and you also need three, or possibly four, hands. It didn't go too badly, considering I was labouring under the misfortune of only having the two hands. It's not Z-plied yarn, of course, and it's some rubbishy ACK-rylic that was on hand, so it did twist alarmingly. I was warned about this, so it didn't cause too much consternation. I found the best way to untangle everything was to let the knitting dangle and whirl round and not the yarn. I'm going to order some of that stuff (I think that would be yarn) from the Tasmanian place and have a real go later.

Here's a picture of the private side for those interested:

The first few rounds I did in the "proper" way (always bringing the back strand over the front strand), then I did a round the "wrong" way (bringing the back strand under the front one). You can see the sort of herringbone effect clearly here.

There is much to learn: purl stitches, the purl braid, the hook stitches, the "deep" stitches, using hook stitches with two colours (this is what I need to make that cute hat). There is a long way to go.

If you've read this far you're maybe wondering what it is I have decided. (You may also have nodded off, lost the thread completely, or even lost the will to live.) I have decided to make Rosy Fingered Dawn:

This is a pattern by Hazel Carter, available from Blackberry Ridge. I haven't decided yet if I should order the pattern alone or the kit. I've sent them an email asking which colours are included in the kit and price of postage for both kit and pattern and await their response. It's not that I don't want to order the yarn from them, it's just that it strikes me as odd to have knitting yarn sent half-way round the world when I can phone Jamieson & Smith and get "home grown" Shetland wool two days later. (and I get to hear that beautiful, soft Scots accent and imagine the ladies up there in Lerwick, gazing out at a loch or something.)

I'm going to try and get on to the edging for the Highland Triangle - some time this year would be good.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

I'm not so sure

I had a little practice with the Bird's Eye pattern. This is not a swatch - I don't do swatches - this is "let's have a go and see how it comes out". So what's the difference between that and a swatch? There really isn't much of a difference, but don't tell anyone, otherwise my reputation as a dare-devil knitter (See her walk the high wire! See her juggle - maybe with fire!) would be shattered.

This is what we have so far:

and to be honest I'm not so sure. This is a true lace pattern in that it is patterned every row. There is no plain row between the patterning. There is no possibility of counting the stitches on the private side and checking the pattern repeats. This is true "high-wire" knitting. That said the pattern is not all that hard, although Sharon Miller, the designer, calls it "quite tricky to knit". I did find I had omitted a YO on one row but quickly realised on the next row, when my landmark stitches didn't line up. So I just scooped up the thread between the stitches and made the YO, there and then, on the next row.

The reason why I'm not so sure is that I don't know if I have the stamina to continue doing the selfsame thing until it's big enough. I could end up knitting a shawl for a teddy bear. (Though considering #1 daughter has a teddy called Penelope that might not be a bad thing.) It just isn't giving me that "wow" factor. So I've stopped for a bit to re-group. Maybe I should consider designing something using patterns from "Heirloom Knitting" and then I'll only have myself to blame when I start whining that it's boring.

The Highland Triangle is still on the needles. I'm in despair as to how I can take a picture of it when it's all scrunched up on the needles:

The tangled mass (or should that be "mess"?) that is the Highland Triangle at present.

See those red threads? They are stitch markers:

They are there to isolate the two centre stitches that are at the bottom point.

I can't really see the point of all those fancy beaded stitch markers people have. They look pretty but I know that in my hands they would be catching on the knitting, distorting the stitches and generally getting in the way. I use a length of crochet cotton (red in this case for contrast), lay it between stitches in the relevant spot and carry on. The marker is held in position by the working yarn and on the next row I just flip it to the other side of the work and catch it with the working yarn again. It's a bit tricky at the beginning, because the crochet cotton can tend to fall out, but if you remain vigilant, it's fine. The joy of this type of marker, for me, is that you can pull it up as you need to and , most importantly, it is simplicity itself to move the stitch marker. You don't need to slip it from needle to needle. You don't need to unhook it or unclip it and watch it as it skitters off the needle and ends up under the sofa, you don't need to stop the cat or the baby or the hoover from eating it. The best thing is that it's remarkably cheap - I can't even remember why I have a ball of red crochet cotton, let alone what I paid for it. Oh, and you are very unlikely to run out. Everyone must have something that would do.

Let's hear it for the running yarn marker!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Too Hot to Knit

Maybe it's not too hot to knit, full stop, but it is far to hot to knit on the Highland Triangle. I haven't taken a picture of it - it's the same but bigger. So I've been thinking about what I could knit in 80 degree temperatures. I thought I might have a go at the "Two End Knitting". It's best to use a Z-plied yarn, so I went on a hunt.

Could anyone credit that, of all the yarn in the house (and the "small storage solution" in the hall is a miniscule amount in the great scheme of things), there does not appear to be one single ball, skein, partial ball or even short length of Z-plied yarn? I can't believe it, either. It stopped me in my tracks. Does this mean I'll have to buy more yarn? No, no, please - not that!

During the hunt for said yarn I came across this:

7 25g balls of Paton's 2-ply 100% Baby wool, bought eons ago in the charity shop (aka "The Boutique"). No yardage mentioned on the ball band but a quick call to Nicky at Shipston Needlecrafts and she came up with 240yards per ball. So that's 1,680 yards and as this seems long enough and thin enough to a) keep me going for a while and b) not cause heat-stroke when I knit it, I thought I might as well do something with it. There are no babies in my ambit at the moment (and there won't be if I have anything to do with it!) so it's not going to be baby stuff. What about that old favourite, the shawl?

I thought about Stephanie's Snowdrop Shawl but then decided it was a bit "baby" so I turned to Sharon Miller (who's never let me down yet) and found this:

It's a free pattern for a Bird's Eye Shawl. I'm just working up the energy to start it.

I also found lots of other treasures during the hunt including this mystery yarn:

Eight balls of anonymous crepe 2-ply, cream, appears to be wool. See that ball-band? It's completely and utterly blank!

I also found this:

350g of 60% cotton/40% linen, slightly slubby and a lovely terracotta colour. Bought in another "boutique" for a song. I feel a little summer top coming on.

Daisy asked in the comments about joining cotton yarn. Well, I'm sure Daisy has realised by now that cotton is the devil's work but if you have to join it I'd simply drop the old yarn and pick up the new yarn and continue knitting using the new yarn. (Assuming this is at the end of a row, I'd then twist the ends around each other and weave them into the edges in opposite directions on the wrong side.) You can also do this in the middle of a row or round. The first stitch will be a tad loose, and you'll have to even up the tension later and then weave in the ends. You couldn't do better than look at the directions for weaving in ends in Knitty. In that article Elizabeth Zimmermann's method of joining yarn is described. She would work just one stitch with both the old and the new yarns and weave in the ends later. She claimed that one stitch didn't add much bulk. I suppose it depends on the thickness of the yarn to start with and you might need to be careful about the placement of your join. You could always do a little swatch and give it a go first. (I love advising people to do things that I would never do in a million years.)

On to the start of Bird's Eye.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Russian Join

So how do you join yarn? Unless you are knitting from a cone, there will come a time when you need to join in new yarn. Some books tell you to do it at the edge. I've never really been a believer in this method. I think it makes the edges wonky. (That's a technical term.) "Oh, but you can hide it in the seam!", they protest. Well, you can but it makes the seam even more bulky and if I've gone to all the trouble of reading Montse Stanley's "Handknitter's Handbook" and picking the best selvedge for the job, I don't want to make a horlicks (another technical term) by joining yarn there. Also, since I don't really do sewing, I am often knitting in the round and there is no edge.

So, how do you join yarn? It depends on what yarn we are dealing with. For 100% wool I use the spit-splice. Just overlap the ends in your palm; use saliva (that's spit, to you and me) to wet the yarn thoroughly; rub palms together vigorously and there you have it. This is the join I used for the buttonhole bags. I think the join is fairly strong but the added bonus here is that the bags are going to be felted anyway, so what the heck.

For really skinny (you don't need me to tell you what sort of a term that is) yarn I just use the two strands together for a few stitches. You need to weave in the two ends when you have finished and you need to choose where the two ends will fall. If it's lace knitting (and it often is) I try to leave the ends where there are decreases, so the ends can be well hidden, and not where there are increases, which is a whole load of holes. I used this join on Birch and all the stuff I've done using Kidsilk Haze. It's so skinny that the extra bulk is hardly noticeable. You do, however, have to remember that this is what you have done. When it comes to working the next row there will be two strands of yarn making up each stitch where you did this. Do not take you eye off the ball or you will find that the stitch count is way off and you will have no idea why. Do not bother to ask me how I know this.

For slightly fatter stuff that is plied you can untwist the plys; cut off half of them at varying lengths and then re-twist the plys with the other piece of yarn, which you have treated in a similar manner. I have used this join but I can never make it look decent - the cut-off plys always seem to stick out and look messy to me.

My "join of choice" for the Highland Triangle Shawl is the Russian Join (and I've been getting quite a bit of practice lately, for a found three knots in the last ball of yarn). Why do they do that? "It's all done by machine," said 'im indoors. Yes, and... You're not telling me the machine stops and ties a knot? "No, I suppose not." No. Somebody, somewhere, took the two ends of the yarn in their hands and carefully tied that knot. So that I can just as carefully untie it (because we can't cut the yarn - God forbid that we should need that two inches of yarn at a later stage. You never know.)

Anyway, the Russian Join. When I Googled for this ages ago I came up with very little. I came up with some pictures of people, and there might have been a few animals in there too, doing unspeakable things. I can only assume they were Russian. I couldn't get rid of it: clicking the little "X" didn't work; clicking "Close" didn't work; nothing worked. Eventually, I had to yank the plug out of the wall before a passing offspring caught sight of it and started with the "Why is that man...." questions. So for those of you who don't want the angst of going through all that, I give you my pictures of the Russian Join.

First you take the two ends of yarn and wrap them one around the other:

Once again, ignore the crumpled cloth, you know I don't do ironing.

Then you thread one end into a needle, which should have quite a sharp point, and you do a sort of running stitch through that same bit of yarn:

You do that for two inches or so. It doesn't really matter - as is often the way with cooking you do it until it's done.

You pull the yarn through and jiggle it (technical, very technical) about a bit until it's gripping the other bit of yarn and there isn't a great loop:

Do the selfsame thing on the other bit of yarn and you are done:

That's the complete Russian Join. You may have to pull the ends and do a bit of tweaking but it is never, ever going to come apart. Do be aware of this when you splice the wrong bits together. You will then have to take the scissors to it and you will, almost certainly, need that extra length of yarn (which will be more than two inches now) before you are finished.

Off to do yet another Russian Join.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Knit Repair

You may have noticed this little beauty in the pile of books from the Needlearts bookshop:

This is, as it says, "Flawless Knit Repair" by Rena Crockett (who sounds like a make-believe Pioneer Woman of the old school). It's a slim volume but I think it will prove to be worth its weight in gold. The reason for ordering this was that, horror of all horrors, there has been some pesky creature at my knitting.

Holes (yes, that would be plural) have appeared in the Siberian Winter Shawl. The very first shawl I ever knitted and knitted with my knitbud, who knows who she is, and doesn't, as far as I know, have any holes in her Siberian Winter.

I got the book and read it. Always a good start, and especially good for Kate, who likes reading, and often prefers reading to doing. As is often the way of things, practice makes perfect. This afternoon has been dedicated to practising.

I knitted a swatch - quite a novelty for me. I cut the swatch in the middle and I unravelled the cut threads and pinned them on either side. Just as when you start cleaning the house it seems to get worse before it can get better. There is always a point when you think, "Why didn't I just leave it as it was?" That point came fairly early in the proceedings.

Deep breathing (no chocolate yet, though). Now it's time to Kitchener the stitches together with sewing thread to stabilize everything. (Pass the chocolate!)

I used a contrast coloured thread, as instructed. It's not going too badly so far.

Next, weave the repair yarn under and over the sewing thread:

OK so far.

Then use a crochet hook to recreate each column of stitches and Kitchener together at the top with more repair yarn in a tapestry needle.

Here we see the first two columns finished:

Looking slightly wobbly - nothing to what I was feeling like at this stage. Continue all along the row. Turn the work over and repair the slits at each side. This is where it all went a bit pear-shaped. Mostly because I hadn't had enough chocolate and had just started on the wine. I did it, though, and while it isn't as perfect as the original:

I don't think it's too bad for a first attempt:

And finally, because the back should be as "tidy" as the front, here's the finished back:

It's slightly more bulky than it should be, because I got bored with weaving in ends, but it ain't too bad.

I've learned a lot - one of the things being you can never have enough chocolate on hand when Kitchener stitch rears its ugly head.

I'm off to lie down in a darkened room.

Monday, June 20, 2005

I'm doing it my way

I finally reached the point on the Highland Triangle shawl where I simply had to decide which is the private side and which the public. In spite of the fact that I am totally swimming against the tide, (just doing what salmon do best), I have decided to stick to my original thought and use Ms Oberle's private side as my public side. This caused a slight hiccough, because, of course, when she says "Bind off loosely. Do not break yarn. With the RS facing, begin at the corner where the yarn is attached and pick up by knitting..." I'm at the wrong end! Then I thought that maybe the same thing would happen with the border pattern - ie her "right" side is my private side. So I did the unthinkable. I did a teeny swatch!

This is what she calls the "wrong" side. Sure enough, this is my "public" side!

So being at the "wrong" end isn't such a big problem after all. I started to pick up and knit the stitches for the border but I didn't like the look of it at all. I didn't like the look of it so much that I didn't even take a picture.
I ripped it out and had a think and decided to pick up and purl the border stitches.

Here is the border attached, showing the public side.

And this is the private side:

I think I've solved the problem very neatly, although, as several people commented the thing is reversible, so it's very much an academic question. I just need to knit the border, do the edging and it's finished. Then I can move on to the myriad of other projects that are whirling around in my brain.

I might even get round to washing more of the Jacob sheep fleece I was given and learning to spin. That should keep me in blog fodder for a while.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

I give in

Right, that's it. Confirmation, if it were needed, that I am, in truth, a salmon. Everyone who commented chose the side that I think is the "private" side. There may be more of you out there; there may even be people who agree with me - I don't suppose we'll ever know. I'm still not quite to the point where I have to make a decision and, as it's 80 degrees here at the moment, I don't think I'll be there anytime soon.

I have had to content myself with reading the knitting books which arrived on Thursday. All are fascinating but the one that is calling to me at the moment is "Two-end knitting" by Anne-Maj Ling. Kate, being Kate, has done a little bit of research and come up with some fine photographs of the technique from Teresa in Norway and Nanette has some interesting observations, too. I just want to knit a hat. I want to knit a hat like this

Isn't that just too cute?

The hunt has begun for the right yarn for the job. Apparently, we need to use Z-plied yarn. How do we know what Z-plied yarn is? We look at the picture:

It seems that this whole technique causes twisting of the yarn and a Z-plied yarn means you don't get into such a fearful tangle. That is the theory, anyway. I happen to have a shade card from Waverley Woollen Mills in Tasmania:

Closer inspection shows we are dealing with Z-plied yarn:

I feel an order coming on.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Just Shoot Me Now

Knitting happily away on the Highland Triangle Shawl, I came to the end of one row and found the stitch count was off by one. It's a very easy pattern and if you look at the knitting you can tell if it's working out right (or not). Therefore, I have not knitted a whole row with the pattern off by one stitch. Therefore, I may have forgotten to do the backward loop increase that we do at the beginning of every row. Easily solved - just pick up the loop in the relevant place, twist it, knit it - no problem.

In fact, this was not the problem. The problem was that I had knitted the "plain" (ie non-pattern row), turned the work, and knitted another "plain" row. What is wrong with me? I have been saying all along this pattern is so easy you could knit it with your eyes closed. Wrong! Why do you think you have those two things on the front of your head? Yes, it's so you can use them. I had to tink the whole row and that did not please me. We are back on track now, however, though we are coming to the place where I will have to decide which is the private side and which the public. I think I know what I like but everyone I ask says the other side is the "right" side. There is not a knitter among them. I do feel like that salmon, swimming against the tide, but this is not unusual for me.

If you are reading this blog, you are probably a knitter - you may be a blog junkie; you may be an incurable insomniac, clicking your way through the night, but you are probably a knitter. So what do you think?

Is this:

the public side?

OR is this:

I know what I think.

Leave a comment, drop me a line - I want to know if I really am a salmon.

Side note: I opened a Kit-Kat the other day and printed on it, right there in the chocolate, was: "Remember you are not a salmon". What?

Yesterday I took my sister-in-law (sister of 'im indoors, recipient of the blue buttonhole bag and not a Barbie) to Moreton-in-Marsh to take the train to London. On the way back I popped into Shipston Needlecrafts and had a coffee with Nicky. I didn't buy anything, I thought about it but I didn't do it. I feel very proud and I'm not even on a yarn diet, not like Lixie.

As I neared home I saw the postman's little red van, just down the road from my house. In that split second, I just knew that he had brought my books, on order from the wonderful Marsha at the Needlearts Bookshop in Canada. I knew that he had brought me books, found me absent and left that little yellow card (the one that they leave even when you are in the house, sitting on the doormat, waiting for the post) which means you have to trail off to the back end of nowhere, at dead of night, because that's the only time they are open, retrieve the item (after filling in inumerable forms AND presenting a copy of your "long" birth certificate to prove you are who you say you are). I knew he'd done that and I thought, "Oh no you don't, matey!" I knew that if I ran in the house; grabbed the yellow card that was surely lying on the doormat; chased off down the road; I'd be able to catch him and make him give me the books, even though I didn't have my "long" birth certificate to hand.

I rushed into the house. I fought my way past the famous "small storage solution" hanging in the hall. I whisked away the curtain behind the door. To be greeted with? NOTHING. Zilch, niente, zero, a big fat blank. Obviously, my telepathic powers are on the wane.

It was only at 5.30, when 'im indoors went into the outhouse

for some arcane reason, that the truth was revealed.

Sitting on the freezer was the box and inside were the books:

I'm so excited, I'm going to read.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A New Start

Yes, I've started another shawl. I just can't help myself, can I? At least this one is using up some stash. This is the Highland Triangle Shawl from Cheryl Oberle's "Folk Shawls".

This is the aim:

This is how much I had done yesterday morning. There's more now - it's the same but bigger. I'm using something called "Glenheather" Double Knitting 75% Acrylic/25% Wool. I don't normally approve of ACK-rylic but needs must when you can't get into the house for yarn. Size 4.5mm needles. I started on straights but it's on circs now. In true Kate form, I didn't bother with a swatch. I like the look of the fabric and that's enough for me.

I'm not sure that what Ms Oberle calls the "right" side (I think she means the "public" side) is going to end up being the "right" side. I think it looks "wrong", so it's probably going to end up being my "private" side. That's exactly what I mean about "right" side and "wrong" side - right/left, right/wrong, at the end you don't know which way is up.

Here's a close-up of the very beginning:

I think this is the "private" side, but I haven't quite decided yet. I will take a picture of my "public" side but not right now - the weather is atrocious, it's about as dark as the Black Hole of Calcutta indoors and raining out. It could be worse, I suppose, it could be raining in.

Here's another picture of the beginning. Please ignore the crumpled tablecloth. I stopped doing ironing when #1 daughter was born. I do occasionally use the hotplate of the Rayburn to both iron and dry items of clothing in an emergency. Wanting to take a picture of a bit of knitting is not, in this case, an emergency.

I like the construction of this shawl. The centre triangle is knitted from the tip to the top. Stitches are picked up on the two long sides of the triangle for an inner border with a mitred corner. The outer border is knitted on sideways after the inner border. It's classic Shetland shawl construction. I love that it's been done this way for hundreds of years and it's still the best way to do it. If it's not broken, don't fix it.

Speaking of Shetland shawls, have a look at the Shetland Museum's Lace Knitting section - a wealth of history, information and eye-candy.

Remember Fangst? I managed to get a hook in the ceiling in the hall and the thing holds loads of stuff:

It's not even full yet, then again, it has made only a small dent in the stash, though I did have the foresight to buy two.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Has it worked?

I haven't done all that much felting (at least, not intentionally). I've read plenty about it - Just START, Kate - and to tell the truth I am always a mite apprehensive. So it was with some trepidation that I threw the pre-felted buttonhole bag into the washing machine, gaily whirled the temperature gauge up to MAX and pressed the button.

Here she is before:

She is huge: 44cm/18in at the widest point, 28cm/11in high, base is 35cm/14in long and 12cm/5in wide. She weighs a ton - actually, that's a slight over-exaggeration, she weighs just less than 400g but that seems to me to be quite a lot in the context of a bag.

Here she is after:

Seen here drying on the Rayburn. What would I do without the Rayburn? I'm sure this bag would have taken about three weeks to dry if it weren't for the Rayburn.

When I opened the washer at the end of the cycle I thought I'd made a bag fit for Barbie (size-wise, not colour- wise). It looked fearfully small. I pulled, I tugged, I swung it round my head a bit and I got it to look like this:

She is 30cm/12in at widest, 18cm/7in high. Base is 24cm/9.5in long by 10cm/4in wide. She is a bag fit for my sister-in-law (who by no stretch of the imagination could be described as a Barbie). The fabric is (what shall we call it?) sturdy. Capable of stopping a speeding bullet, I think There could be a marketing opportunity here - I wonder if the knitting police would like a few bullet-proof vests for when they are called to hostage situations?

I have started another shawl. It is not the "get my teeth into it" project, it is the "I need something to knit and I need it now" project. It is also the "if I don't use up some of this stash I won't be able to find the kids" project and I'm off to knit on it right now. Pictures of progress, if any, tomorrow.

Monday, June 13, 2005

If I were a pigeon

If I were a pigeon I would starve to death before I learned that I needed to peck the square (or whatever) to get food. I have made three bags out of Emma King's book. On the previous two occasions, I ran out of yarn. So why did I think it would be any different this time? In fact, it wasn't too big of a deal. I simply made the flower entirely out of Kidsilk Haze and didn't bother with the two rows of Cotton Glace. I don't think the knitting police will notice:

I'm not sure about the beads, but they were handy and I certainly wasn't going to buy more beads just for the centre of a flower. I ended up with about 18 inches of Cotton Glace remaining. In the interests of peace of mind, it might have been better to have another ball on hand, just in case.

Here's the whole bag, nestling in the marjoram:

and matching very nicely with those pink flowers (whatever they are).

As I said before, I don't really do sewing and I had toyed with the idea of using a provisional cast on, knitting in the round and then grafting the cast on closed. I decided against that because I thought the seams would add stability to the bag. I don't really know if that's true, as I've got nothing to compare it with, but I'm happy enough with the finished item.

The seams don't look too bad, anyway:

In fact, I don't think you can really tell they are there.

I have also finished another Buttonhole Bag using the Rowan Big Wool pictured on Friday. It is drying on the Rayburn as I write and there will be pictures tomorrow.

I find myself in a knitting hiatus. I've finished everything I wanted to finish and while there are oodles of WIPs none is calling out to me. I want to start some lace but I don't know what it is. Help!

Wendy has declared this the "Summer of Lace" and there is even a Yahoo group for same. I've got news for you, Wendy - it doesn't have to be summer for me to want to knit lace.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Never Go Without Your Knitting

So yesterday, I decided I would just have time between working at lunchtime and working in the evening, to go to Shipston Needlecraft and purchase the ingredients for another Buttonhole Bag, destined as a present for my sister-in-law (sister of 'im indoors). I left about 4pm, back to work at 6.30pm. Plenty of time? Ha!

I got there, I purchased this:

Four balls of Rowan Biggy Print. Nice.

I leapt back into the car and hurtled out of town. I got about a mile and the gear stick suddenly went all floppy (that's a technical term); the car started to slow down dramatically; the traffic started to build up behind me. I managed to struggle to a handy lay-by and stopped the car, phoned the breakdown service and waited.

There I was, with 4 balls of delicious wool, time on my hands and NO NEEDLES. I didn't have to wait too long but it was very frustrating - hence the title of this post. That'll teach me.

In other, less dramatic, news - I finished the front of the Jet Bag:

34sts on 4mm needles, using two strands of both Rowan Cotton Glace and Rowan Kidsilk Haze. Nice firm fabric, lovely colour.

At the top of the bag, we are required to work a hem. A few rows of stocking stitch, a knit row on the private side (to make the garter stitch ridge to turn over at the top of the bag), a few more rows of stocking stitch, cast off and then fold along the ridge and sew down. Well, I'm sorry, Ms King I don't do sewing.

In typical Kate style, I had to fiddle with it just a bit. This is what I did. I worked more or less as she suggests (a few more rows, since the gauge is all to pot - see discussion yesterday) but I didn't cast off. I folded at the garter ridge and picked up the purl loop several rows back corresponding with the first live stitch . I knitted that loop together with the live stitch, I repeated, so I had two stitches on the right needle and then I cast off the first stitch. Continue in this way all along the row and this is what you get:

I think that looks neat and no sewing!

Various people have emailed and commented saying they are inspired to start one project or another because they've seen it on this blog. I am proud and honoured. I wish them all every success and hope they won't hold it against me when they find themselves staying up far too late to do "just one more row"; tearing out their hair when they just realised they made a mistake 10 rows back; telling their loved ones, "Shut up, I'm counting!" and generally turning into lace junkies.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

This Can't Be Right

Having finished the Cranberry Bag:

Pink, isn't it?

I embarked on yet another bag from Emma King's "25 Bags to Knit". This time it's "Jet". This is what we are aiming at:

Using two strands of Rowan Cotton Glace and two strands of Kidsilk Haze, all held together (imagine the muddle, the twisting, the sticking together - what was I thinking?), Ms King recommends 6mm needles. Kate, of course, is a loose knitter, so she starts with 5.5mm needles. Not right. She rips out and tries again with 5mm needles. Better, but still not right. She rips out again and tries with 4.5mm needles. More or less spot on. But the fabric is not to my taste. Ms King claims it should make "a very dense, tactile knit." Well, it doesn't, so Kate rips out again and has a go with 4mm needles. This is fine.

The gauge is 17sts and 25 rows to 10cm (as opposed to the 14sts and 19 rows recommended in the pattern) but it's a bag, right? It doesn't have to fit. However, if I want the bag to be dinky (and I do) I will have to change the number of cast on stitches.

I refer to the pattern and discover the finished size should be 19cm by 18cm. I consult Ms King as to her cast on number. Cast on 50sts. Hang on. If the original gauge is 14sts to 10cm and she wants the bag to be 19cm we should be casting on about 28sts, or is my maths even worse than I thought? I am going to cast on 34sts and be done with it. I am going to work until I like the look of it and then I am going to stop. It's my knitting (and I'll cry if I want to). I probably will end up crying, or possibly hurling the whole tangled mess across the room but what the heck, it's knitting, it's supposed to be fun!

Anyway, all cursing apart, I have finished Birch, she is blocked and she is lovely (even though I say it myself). Here she is lounging on the Wayfarer Tree:

Here she is lounging on the hedge:

and here's the back of her:

Vital statistics will have to wait. I'm off to throw some knitting across the room.