Thursday, September 29, 2005


Yes, I'm bored with the border. It's such slow going. I know that if I don't do it, it won't get done. (As so often in life.) There are nine repeats of 24 rows on each side. I have completed one side and if Blogger would let me, I would show you a picture.

I have also "gone round the bend" - the corner is achieved by short rows and is extremely neat and ingenious and if Blogger would let me, I would show you a picture.

The Morning Star features in the centre of the border, birds at the bottom of the border and the very poetically named "Zig-zag border" is, well, it's a zig-zag border and if Blogger would let me, I would show you a picture.

No pictures here, though.

I'm starting to think about the next big project. The Wedding Ring Shawl will, I think, have to wait. It is obviously a project that requires natural light and plenty of it. As we are entering the "it's so dark we have to have the light on all day long" period of the year (which I hate), so not enough light to see a hand in front of your face. "River" from Rowan 38? A very nice Sharon Miller pattern but maybe just a teeny-tiny bit boring? Some sort of a garment? Maybe "Pandora" also from Rowan 38. (But without the fearful pink bow.) Shock, horror! Something that has to fit? Does this mean I have to do a swatch?

Something from Hanne Falkenburg? Maybe Mermaid? Tari's knitting this at the moment and it's stunning. The trouble is: I think I should use some stash. There is just so much of it. I don't know what I fancy. Help!!

Blogger has relented. There is one picture:

I don't know which is more bored-er, me or it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I am reduced to this.

It's time to start the border of Rosy Fingered Dawn. I have changed to Dark Cloud. It was wound with minimal fuss (although there was a knot in one of the plys, again!). I have the right number of stitches between the corner stitches, I did not even have to "use the next two rnds to adjust the number". I read the detailed instructions carefully. Then I read them again. Then I walked around the room a bit. I took up the work. "Do not break yarn" Hah! After I had tried and failed to "cast on 16 sts invisibly, over a spare piece of yarn on to the right-hand point of the circular needle" at least five times the yarn broke of its own accord.

That's when I started with the heavy guns - wine and chocolate. Both together, at the same time. I tossed the instructions aside, used my own native wit and low cunning, cast on the sixteen stitches on to the left point of the needle and I think it's perfect.

This is half of the first corner mitre, done using short rows. At this stage I was ready to start "eating up" the live stitches of the main body of the shawl. There are 162 stitches on each side between the corner stitches, so there is quite a lot of "eating" still to do. We also need to be sure the stitches don't fall off the other end of the needle. We had to be ingenious, as we have no point protectors. This was my solution:

I think it was originally used on a backpack to fasten the string through the top. It has now got a new life - it is a "Stitch thingy".

There it is - doing its job perfectly. I do not think the stitches would dare to throw themselves off the needle now. I will finish this edging, I will finish this edging, I will finish this edging and preferably before I die of old age.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Yarn Bites Back

Having beaten Rosy Fingered Dawn into submission by a combination of stern words and the "Paddington Bear Stare" all appears to be plain sailing. That's all it was - an appearance. It came time to change to "Blue Cloud", except "Blue Cloud" was still in the skein. I like to wind as I go. It gives me something else to do besides knit. It leaves the yarn relaxed until it's time to be wound up. It gives me a right headache. The skein went on the swift in a very docile manner. That didn't last long. It tangled, it pulled, it twisted, it stuck to itself. It was coaxed, cajoled, cursed; it was taken off the swift, it was put back on the swift; it was spoken to (in two languages) very sternly indeed; it was stared at with a basilisk glance. Talk about psychological warfare - I am exhausted but I have bent the yarn to my will. It was eventually wound into two balls. Two? Yes, because, to add insult to injury, there was a knot in it. Only in one of the two plys but there was a knot, nevertheless. Why do they do that? Don't get me started.

All I have to do now is knit Chart 6. Couldn't be simpler:

This is "Boreas, the North Wind: Horseshoe and Horse's Mane". You can see the horseshoe appearing between the stitch markers.

The whole nine yards:

Nine yards seems to just about cover it.

We are quite near the end now (only four more rounds of this chart and then we are on to the border - bet there'll be a lot of fun and games there) so it's about time I started on displacement activities. I saw this so I made this:

This is the back of the fox. Yarn is Colinette Silky Chic and Patons Eskimo, left over from Knitty's Vegan Fox.

Here's the front:

I didn't happen to have any white eyelash yarn, so have used something I did happen to have. I can't remember what it is and I'm too lazy to root out the ball band - it's some furry stuff, it's white-ish, what more do you want?

If I could find the bag of stuffing that I know is present in this house, the fox would be finished by now, but I can't, so it's not.

How many more little bits of trivia will I start before Rosy Fingered Dawn is finished? The book is open. (You can do a spread bet, if you want.)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Beaten into submission

That's Rosy Fingered Dawn - not me. She has settled down and I have just completed chart 5 and two rounds of the "Spacer ridge" with no mishaps whatsoever. I expect that has put the mouth on it and she'll be busy unravelling herself just because my back is turned.

This was the problem:

I think you can just see the red beginning of round marker on the right there. You can also see the broken threads just about four stitches before the end of the round. The language was choice, I can tell you. All better now though:

There we are all mended. This picture also illustrates something I have been puzzling over for a while. Here we are knitting "Mountains in the rain" - you can clearly see the mountains. On the right the slope of the mountain is created by YO, SSK on the left by K2TOG, YO. Paired decreases, sloping in opposite directions. However, the hole created by the YO on the right is bigger (quite a bit bigger, actually) than the hole created by the YO on the left. I do not know why this should be and it is bugging me. Is it something to do with the distance the yarn travels before the next stitch? I think it must be but I can't, for the life of me, work out how to stop it. I have tried wrapping the yarn round the needle in all the ways I can think of and nothing has helped. If anyone out there has either a) noticed this phenomenon or b) worked out a solution, I would be grateful for any clue.

You know how I usually panic that the shawl in question will end up too small? I do not think that is going to be a problem with RFD:

This, of course, is only half of her (well, from one corner to the centre) and this is me stretching her gently - not putting her on the rack, which is how I normally block lace. I know she looks as if she takes up half the width of my house but that is merely an illusion. Isn't it?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Zen of Craftsmanship

I've been having a rather frustrating time with Rosy Fingered Dawn. Yes, I've gone back to her what with the mystery shawl being finished. Maybe that's the reason that RFD is causing me so much trouble at the moment - she is sulking because I laid her aside.

I don't know how it happened but I had put her down on the table and left her there when I went to work. When I returned and picked her up again there seemed to be a very loose stitch. I do not know how this could happen as there had been no-one in the house, no-one, not a single solitary soul. I pulled the yarn to snug the stitch up and it got a bit bigger. So I pulled the next stitch in an attempt to even things out. A slightly bigger loop. Moving along to the third stitch... Bigger yet. It dawned on me that I was going to have to pull each and every stitch all the way round to the working yarn before I could get rid of the excess. I don't know how many stitches I have on the needle at the moment and I don't really think I want to know. Suffice it to say that we are talking hundreds.

It won't take very long. It's mindless stuff. I don't really want to be doing anything complicated. I want to watch the cricket (which by the way was one of the most exciting things I've seen in a long, long, time and many commiserations to any Aussies reading this - you played well, it's just that our boys played better). All these thoughts running through my head as I slowly and carefully pull each stitch.

Then I discovered that about 10 stitches had dropped off the needle and run a few rows down. I had to do emergency reconstruction of the lace pattern. That achieved, I continued dealing with the great loop of yarn which at this stage seemed to have grown to about 2 feet long. No, I didn't think to take a picture - I was so fascinated at the way the loop had taken on a life of its own and was defying the laws of physics. How could the thing be growing like that?

I got round all three sides of the shawl. I got to within four stitches of the working yarn and then..What do you think? Yes, I snapped the yarn. I let out a huge shriek and that's when 'im indoors said, "That's the Zen of Craftsmanship for you." Thank you, darling.

At that point I set the wretched thing aside (that "set" doesn't really do it justice - it was more like hurling it across the room in frustration), opened a bottle of something sparkling and watched the cricket boys celebrate a great victory.

I have taken Rosy Fingered Dawn up again this morning. I have given her a jolly good talking to and I think we have reached an understanding. I think she now knows that I am in charge.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I'm back

Yes, we are back up and running. The computer is out of hospital and has had a modem transplant. I feel as if I have been cut off from civilization for weeks. It truly has been the rural backwater.

I have not been resting on my laurels, however. I threw together this bag:

This is the "Arctic Bag". Yet another of Emma King's designs from the "25 bags to knit" book. Once again, I ran out of yarn. (When will I learn? I have made four bags from this book and have run out of yarn on each and every one. You would have thought that by now I would be wise to Ms King's little ways and would have bought more yarn. Did I? What do you think?)

The yarn is Rowan "Polar", now sadly discontinued (all the more reason to have bought more...), the needles 4.5mm. The recommended needle size was 7mm (!) I know I knit loosely and I knew that starting with a size 6mm or even 5.5 would be better. Starting right in (I don't do swatching - it's only 45 stitches to cast on. If it makes you feel better think of it as a big swatch.) I realised that the fabric was too floppy (technical term) and started again. Twice. In the end I got a fabric I liked and so the bag is slightly smaller than she said it would be. You know what? I'm not bothered. My filofax fits in it and that's about all that matters. I did stretch the handles unmercifully as I was knitting them. Partly to save yarn, partly because I didn't want them to stretch too much in use and end up being long enough to sling over the shoulder. This is what happened with the pink "Chunky" bag and that's fine on that bag but this bag is a hand bag and I want it to remain so. I also made a slight modification to the turn over at the top of the bag. Basically, you knit two rows in the contrast colour, change back to the main colour and work 10 rows in stocking stitch. Well, I didn't change back to the main colour (saving yarn again) and I also decreased one stitch at each end of every right side row in the stocking stitch section. This means that the bulk in the seam at the sides is reduced. The fabric is already thick enough without having four layers in the seam. That worked out fine. It's my knitting, I can do what I want. (Knitting police take note.)

I have also been playing (no, not swatching) with the soy silk Kiki sent me. I've tried it with 2mm needles, I've tried it with 3mm needles, I've tried various patterns. I like this:

This is a swatch (I mean a "play" piece) of the Idella pattern from Myrna Stahman's wonderful "Stahman's shawls and scarves" I have not actually knitted any one of these Faroese shawls but I have a feeling I might be starting soon. I think I am liking the soysilk but it is a little early to say. It is skinny (technical term) and there is a bit of a nap to it, it is slightly "fuzzy" (another technical term) and I think I like that.

Hazel asked in the comments about blocking lace. Stephanie (aka Yarn Harlot) has a great tutorial on blocking lace here. (She uses a piece of smooth cotton in place of the fishing line but the principle is the same.) She says it much better than I could, so pop over there and have a look. Judy Gibson also has some very good pictures of blocking the "Rose of England" tablecloth and co-incidentally Rita O'Connell over at Earth Heart Designs also describes blocking the "Rose". So there you have it.

I'm off to knit and watch some cricket. Howzat!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Famous Last Words

All quiet on the blog front? Why is that?

When I said that 'im indoors was expecting me to be struck by lightening through the keyboard "sacrificed on the altar of the blog", I did not realise quite how prophetic those words would turn out to be.

Last Wednesday evening, the electricity substation at the bottom of the carpark at "The Bell" (where I work and about 50 yards from my house) was struck by lightening. It knocked out the power and sent a surge of electricity down the phone line which set the roof on fire. The fire was put out before it did too much damage and things are getting back to what passes for "normal" round here.

However, the power surge also fried my modem and my computer has had to go into hospital. There is no news of the patient yet. I am hoping that normal service will resume as soon as possible.

I am able to access emails and blog comments on my sister-in-law's computer, (she of the blue button-hole bag and definitely not a Barbie), so if anyone wants to send commiserations, chocolate, yarn or cyber hugs, they are very welcome.