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.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Hats off.

The Louisa Harding moss stitch hat is finished. I think it's one of the nicest hats I've got (and I've got plenty). The grafting of the moss stitch was not quite as troublesome as I thought it might be. I had to start it twice because 'im indoors had the audacity to speak to me in the middle of it, even though I had expressly requested that he not do so.

It's not brilliant but it's not bad (though I say so myself). Here's a shot of the completed item:

I think it's quite stylish (and that's before it gets on my head).

Something else that's quite stylish is my mother (or Mom, as many of you would say). She phones me on a Sunday morning, usually in the middle of "The Archers", and the other week I picked up the phone to hear, "I've done it." (No "Hello", no "This is mum", no nothing). What are you talking about, mother? This:

She's had a tattoo. There are no words.

Tari has tagged me for a meme and I want her to know that I am aware of it, that I think it's a great meme and I am still thinking about it. I even got mother to bring the "best knitted item" with her. Pictures have been taken and will be shown shortly. Stay tuned.

Friday, November 04, 2005


The Louisa Harding moss stitch hat is a little bigger than it was. There is no picture, so you will need to use your imagination.

The previous LH hat made from Impression for Ann-at-work has been on holiday in France. Here she is looking chic and warm:

Sorry for the small picture - it's one taken on a phone and emailed to my living room. The wonders of modern science. I still think electricity works by magic.

And a quick update on Mr Briggs and his knitting progress. Here he is in full flow:

Again, not a brilliant picture - it's that mobile phone again. He's wanting to make a neck warmer thingy to go under his motorbike helmet. I've been looking for patterns. Found this on UKnitty, which might just fit the bill. There's always this pattern for a helmet liner, but it does mean we will have to learn to purl, to decrease, to work with circular needles. Oh, and how to cast on (we have already accomplished the cast off). I hope we haven't bitten off more than we can chew. Oh, and, of course, he wants it in black!


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Back in the Groove

I started the Moss Stitch Hat from the Luisa Harding Accessories book using the specified yarn (Fauve) in a teal-ish colour. She says 6mm needles, I started with 5mm (loose woman). Guess what? I didn't do a swatch - it's only "cast on 31 stitches" - that is a swatch, isn't it? It soon became apparent that the tension was too loose and by quite a bit too. The "swatch" was frogged and I started a second "swatch" on 4mm needles. This "swatch" was more like it and so became the beginning of the hat:

It's a very nice construction. You knit the crown and the brim together. The crown is flat moss stitch, the brim is also moss stitch but careful use of short rows causes it to be wider than the crown and thus faintly "frilly":

The fold is created by a single line of reverse stocking stitch on the public side. Here's a close-up of that one stitch "fold line" from the private side:

The colour is a bit wonky in this shot - it came out severely grey and I had to doctor it (and even though I was a nurse, I was never a doctor.)

After finishing the crown and brim you pick up stitches along the top (shorter) edge and decrease for the top. Then you seam the thing. Not over here, you don't!

I have done a provisional cast-on (using the crochet hook method) - you can see the trusty red crochet cotton in the first two of those pictures above. I shall then graft the seam (stand by with the chocolate and alcohol), pick up the stitches and work the top in the round, using either dpns or, more likely, the two circular needle method.

The fact that this is moss stitch gave me pause - how on earth do you graft moss stitch? I then realised that it's going to be exactly the same as grafting 1x1 rib, (isn't it? Reassure me, someone!)


Patterns have arrived from Fiddlesticks (The Garden Shawl - this is the "Swap Shawl", and the Romance Shawl - because I couldn't resist it). No pictures, yet - I'm off to gloat.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Whirling Round and Round

I feel as though I am whirling round and round and it's only the force of gravity that is stopping me whirling off into deep space. This is partly the reason for my lack of posts recently. I have not, however, been resting on my laurels. I had a "sorting out" - this is the yarn that was scattered around my living room:

This is not "stash", you understand - this is just stuff that was lying round. Debbie Bliss, Rowan, Jaeger, Regia, Luisa Harding, Blackberry Ridge - all were represented.

I found WIPs I'd almost forgotten about (which brings us back to the age old question of when does a WIP turn into a UFO?)

That pink cotton is the "Backyard Leaves" scarf from "Scarf Style". That's a good book - I didn't really think I needed a scarf book (A scarf is a scarf is a scarf.) but I've made several things from it. There you can see the soy silk that Kiki sent me - I'm doing a swatch (a what??) of some lace from Myrna Stahman's book. In the "Sheep" bag in the box? that would be "Fulmar" (here's Wendy wearing hers - she's knit it twice, which is why she is an uberKnitter and I am just a knitter) the jumper that dare not speak its name. She's about 18 months old at the moment and I really do not know when she will be finished. I also found the plastic bag bag. I'm slicing green plastic bags into "yarn" and knitting a bag. (You can imagine the reaction of 'im indoors - "Wasn't it a bag to start with?")

I frogged some stuff, which I think I told you about last time - most liberating.

I have even done some knitting:

Here is a sock for 'im indoors. Yes, it is a strange shape - that is because his foot is a strange shape. The joy of toe-up socks is that you can alter them for a custom fit with very little fuss. This one is a bit more pointy than the last pair and I cannot for the life of me think why but I'm sure it will be fine.

I have made a little progress on the Mystery2:

It's quite an interesting construction. First, you knit a smallish triangle from the point up. Then you pick up stitches along both long edges and work a deep border, increasing four times every public side row - once at the beginning and end of the row, once on either side of the central stitch. Then you knit a border side-on, taking up live stitches as you go.

Here's a close-up of the border, which is patterned on both sides, so requires a little bit more concentration:

Matilda has also had new clothes. I used a little bit of wool & silk that I had lying around to make her a wrap around cardigan:

She really needs something to clothe her nether regions - I must get on to that.

Still waiting for the Garden Shawl pattern to arrive, still dithering over the exact colour of yarn I want, still thinking about making this hat:

I've already made the scarf, of course.

Oh, and another coup - Mr Briggs, our new barman, has expressed an interest in learning to knit. I have started him off with some double knitting yarn and 4mm needles. I have taught him the knit stitch and he seems to have got the hang of that. He's having a bit of trouble with the length of the needles, so I'm going to take him some shorter straights and some circs, which he will use as straights, obviously. He is quite determined. I will keep you posted.