Sunday, July 31, 2005

It's amazing

In all the many years I have been knitting it never, ever, ceases to amaze me that in a few short days I can move from this:

the very beginning of the Silk Corset, to this:

the finished article.

I got lovely buttons:

from Nicky at Shipston Needlecraft. They were jolly pricey - I paid almost as much for 21 buttons as I did for the yarn for this project but spoiling the ship for a ha'porth of tar simply wasn't an option.

Yes, I am wearing a hat and here I am wearing another one:

Photos courtesy of 'im indoors, so consider yourselves lucky that you are seeing anything at all.

All in all, I am very pleased with this project - when I took it into work to show off they all insisted on my putting it on. There was a definite "Wow" from the assembled company when I appeared. It feels great and it fits a treat. I would encourage anyone to try making this - just watch yourself on the armholes. Shall I make another in 100% silk?

Amidst all of that - the sewing on of 21 buttons was accomplished at 1.30am this morning - I also managed to do a bit of work on the Mystery Shawl Swatch (the what?). Here I am considering which needles to use:

The circular needle is a 3mm with very sharp points. I call it my "lace needle". It's my needle of choice for most lace projects, particularly if I'm using Zephyr. I'm not so sure about it for this yarn though, so the straight needles in the picture are 2.25mm, 2.5mm and 2.75mm. I have not had a chance to swatch with any of them yet and I don't know if I'll have time today, since I have to go back to work and feed the starving masses. The first "clue" will be posted tomorrow, so I really need to get a move on.

Here's a close, close-up of the swatch

The yarn is delightful.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Corset she is off the needles.

Yes, indeed. Here she is:

Literally just off the needles. I need to sew on buttons. In fact, I need to find buttons to sew on. I need to do the crochet up the front, round the neck and down the other side.

Verdict - Nice result, no thanks to the pattern, which has various mistakes - there is nothing that anyone with half a knitting brain couldn't fathom but it is irritating. Some of the corrections. posted on Annie's site, had, in fact, already been corrected in my version of the pattern. That could have caused confusion.

I might have made the next size up, though if I had, I don't know if the hip shaping wouldn't have been too ample.

This is a detail of the pattern over the hips. When I tried it on, it is a little loose over the hips. Not terribly, just a little. The next size up would almost certainly have been looser. See that cast-off there? This was the third attempt. First, I cast off on the right side, in pattern. No good. Then, I cast off, on the right side, in knit only. Also no good. Third and final time - I cast off on the wrong side, in knit only. Bingo! I think it looks good. I don't know about you, or the knitting police.

The yarn (Debbie Bliss Cathay) - I used almost all of three balls in the main colour and one ball, with some left over, in the contrast colour. I have not done the edging yet, though, so time will tell. The fabric is very slinky, with a wonderful drape. There is some slight evidence of pilling already, so I cannot speak to how it will hold up in wear. I used a 3.5mm needle and 3.75 is recommended. That's not unusual for me, being the loose knitter I am. This yarn shows great stitch definition. Here's a detail of the waist shaping:

All in all, I'm very pleased with the corset, though it really showed me why I tend to knit lace shawls. There is no question of "to fit, or not to fit?" with a shawl and when a shawl is off the needles it is very nearly done. Yes, lace usually needs to be blocked but I love that bit - it brings out the magic. Who knows how long the corset will lounge around the knitting basket, looking sultry, and waiting for buttons?

It was a relief to put a round on Rosy Fingers this morning. I'm on round 130, just creating a few "mountains in the rain". I had thought this would be finished by now and I'd be cleared for take off on the Mystery shawl but the corset put me back. Why do I always do this? I like to slip a small project into the middle of a larger one.

Anyway, I've started a swatch(!) for the Mystery. Using the Artisan Merino and 3mm needles. This yarn is very skinny (technical term) and I think I'll need to use an even smaller needle. I'm pleased to see that Renee, the designer of the Mystery, mindful of the great variation in yarns chosen for the project, is going to give a version for skinny yarn, too. Pictures tomorrow - it's so skinny that 8 rows is not really enough to photograph.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I'm a virgin

There are no photographs here. If you are looking for eye-candy, look away now.

I've never been tagged before(except in the schoolyard) but never one to do things by halves, I've been tagged twice. Once by Lixie (aka the Cyberstalker) and once by Annie. Since I'm a virgin, please forgive me if this all goes up the shoot.

pl. id·i·o·syn·cra·sies
A structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group.

Write down five of your own personal idiosyncracies. Then, if you wish, tag five people from your friendslist to do the same.

1 - I get a "p" and a "b" mixed up. Not in speech, in writing. Trying to write, with a pen and paper, the word "public" is a nightmare. I have to sound out the letters each time. This difficulty extends to using a keyboard, too, which I find very odd. I can understand the difficulty in handwriting, where the letters are similar, but on the keyboard?

2 - All the cups in the cupboard (another hard word) at work have to be stacked in fours and have to have their handles pointing to the right. I had thought of taking a photograph here, but then I realised it was a step too far.

3 - I have to read about it before I do it. Sometimes, I actually read about it as I am doing it. Not looking at St Mark's Square when I'm in it but reading the Blue Guide instead.

4 - I hate the "greengrocer's apostrophe". If you don't know what that is, you need to go and read Lynne Truss' book "Eats, Shoots and Leaves". It might be to do with the English teacher in me, it might be to do with having half a brain. You choose.

and at that point, I ran out of idiosyncrasies. I never thought I had any idiosyncrasies, anyway. It's perfectly normal to have two sharp sticks and a bit of string in your hands, day and night, isn't it?

So, I asked "'im indoors" and he said, "Well, you wear hats, and not so many people do that."

5 - Every single time I step out of the house (even if I'm only going down to the gate), I wear a hat. I have about 47 hats - those are the ones in the living room, which is where the hats live. There may be other, rogue, hats scattered around the house. That's not idiosyncratic, is it?

If anyone is bothered about the knitting (which is what this is all about, right?), I am up/down to the hip shaping on the corset from Hades; I have not done a single stitch on RFD (work it out); and I cannot wait for the start of the Mystery Shawl, though I have not had time to do a swatch ( a what??), nor wind the yarn.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Cursed Corset

If this thing is ever finished and if it fits me, it will be some sort of miracle. I do not normally make items that need to fit. This is the reason why. It is still a nightmare.

Someone (and I'm sorry I can't remember who you are, but I think you will probably remember who you are) asked about the one row buttonhole. Google is your friend, my dear. I googled and found lots of hits including this from Esther Bozak, who had to do with the Aran I knitted that you haven't even seen yet. There was also this, which includes a variety of good tips, the one row buttonhole is the second one, I think. Also included was this gem "Don't start over or rip out at night; it may look fine to you in the morning. Or you may come up with a
creative solution to your "mistake". - Maggie Baldwin"

I should be so lucky that the horror that is the corset might look "fine" in the morning, or the evening or at any time, day or night. I ripped out Madam Modesitt's i-cord cast off and on buttonhole, which someone described as "unnecessarily complicated" - couldn't have put it better myself. I re-knitted using the one row buttonhole, discussed above. It looked neat, it looked a heck of a lot better than the first attempt. It also looked far too small. I know it's a corset and it's meant to fit. I know I don't have huge, great fat arms. But I just couldn't stop myself thinking that the armhole was going to strangle my arm. So I put the stitches on the good old red crochet cotton and tried it on. I looked a wonderful vision as the corset was about three inches long at this point and covered nothing that it should. Yes, I could get my arm in the buttonhole, no, I couldn't move my arm. When the arm started to turn blue and feel numb, I realised that the armhole was too small.

This presented a dilemma. Should I do it again, same technique but use more stitches? Should I do it again, using different technique, more stretchy, same number of stitches, more stitches? Should I sling the whole thing in the bin? Should I run myself through with a pair of knitting needles and be done with it?

I ripped (again), I re-knitted (again), I used the reinforced buttonhole, detailed in Montse Stanley and no, I can't find it online - I may just not be using the right search terms, you may have better success. I carried on with the ribbing. I started to worry (again). I put it on the red crochet cotton (again):

Sorry about the poxy picture - it was dead of night, I had just got back from work.

I tried it on and it fits, it fits, it fits:

There is no picture of me in it - I have spared you that.

I am now hoping to sail serenely on, down the body, out over the hips and have it on my body before the winter sets in.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Life isn't all ha ha, hee, hee.

You might think it would be a simple matter to cast off stitches on one row and cast them on again on the next. Don't be fooled. It was a nightmare. I'm doing the armholes of the silk corset. Annie Modesitt says to use the i-cord cast off and do it loosely. Then the i-cord cast on, ditto. How loose is loose. Not this loose surely:

Far too loose. I just didn't like the look of it at all. I ripped it out. I managed to get all the stitches back on the needle and I decided to abandon Annie and her i-cord and resort to the old standby - Montse Stanley. What you are really doing is making a big buttonhole. So I used the one row buttonhole ("very strong and neat") and this has improved things no end:

Much better. It has slowed me down, though. I had hoped to be much further on than this by now. However, it's not a running race and there is plenty of time.

Just to prove that I do live in the wilds of Warwickshire, here I am knitting in the garden:

That is the corset, before the disaster of the armholes.

Very late last night, there was a huge commotion outside the back door. It sounded like some sort of huge animal. It was making enough noise to be a bear, or some such. As we don't, to my knowledge, have bears in Warwickshire, (though there is a bear on the Warwickshire crest), I thought it must be a fox or something. Wrong, all wrong. It was this little fellow:

lurking round the basil plant. I think he was having a drink.

Not even one stitch put on RFD, and it's almost time to go back to work. I just hate it when life intervenes.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Silk Corset Progress

I started the corset. I just couldn't help myself. First dilemma: which cast on? You know me, read all about it before you actually do anything. I consulted Montse Stanley, who details over twenty cast-ons. Since the finishing of this corset requires a crochet edging I decided on the "Cast-off cast-on", popular in Japan it seems and looks just like the chain cast off:

So how many times do you count 149 stitches to be sure you really have 149 stitches? Once? Twice? In my case it was about four times because I kept getting a different number. I really have got to get a grip!

All the stitches are safely on the needle, the lace edging is done and I'm just ready to cast off for the armholes:

Arty-farty picture of corset lounging in the lavender bush.

I didn't make a necklace - I made a bracelet:

Arty-farty picture of hand, with bracelet, lounging on the basil plant.

I had to make one for #1 daughter - she wore it to school and it was much admired. I didn't bother with a loop and a button - I picked up the four loops from the cast on and did a three needle bind off. It's fine.

The postman was burdened with this little lot this morning:

Isn't it just to die for? I don't know why I bother knitting bracelets:

This is the yarn for the mystery shawl along. Ordered on Tuesday, arrived Thursday. Thanks to Gill at Woolly Workshop. It's lovely.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Sale Time

I haven't been to Shipston Needlecraft for a while. What with being in hospital and being so intent on getting on with Rosy Fingered Dawn, there just hasn't been a minute to spare. I shot in there this afternoon to get some yarn for the corset and discovered they are having a sale. Oh dear, oh dear - my yarn budget was fairly healthy - note the past tense there. I still haven't managed to get the pattern for the silk corset to print properly but did find out how much yarn was needed. I've got four balls of what I am calling "burnt orange" and two of "gold".

Can't wait to get started. I've decided to make the smallest size, it is, after all, a corset and by definition should be close-fitting. The sizing is a bit odd, I think. The smallest size is 35 inches, the next size is 38.5 inches. (You really wouldn't get very many of those to the pound, would you?)That's quite a difference. I do not think my assets are as small as 35 inches but there is no way they are as big as 38.5 inches. I am trusting to the forgiving nature of the knitted fabric and hoping for the best and yes, I suppose I will have to do a swatch.

Shipston Needlecraft also had some new Adriafil yarn in stock. I've given you the link to the Italian version of the site. You can change the language to English but I couldn't stand the bad translation. I prefer to read it in the original language and since I can...(she said, showing off). I wonder if I should offer to translate the site for them? I got this:

Some stuff called "Fizzy" - 25grams, 27 metres, 9mm needles recommended.

I'm doing a quick necklace. Cast on 4 stitches on to the shiny Addi Turbo 9mm circs. Slip the stitches back to the left needle, keeping the yarn behind, give the yarn a tug. Knit the four stitches. Do it again and again. You are making i-cord. You are making a necklace. I think a loop at one end and a button at the other should do the trick.

It reminds me of liquorice allsorts. #1 daughter says it "Suits me, Mummy" I expect I'll have to make more than one.

Work on Rosy Fingered Dawn continues. I had to buy a longer circular needle, as the stitches were a bit crammed on the shorter one. While I was transferring the stitches I was able to get a better idea of how the pattern was looking:

Not bad, though I say it myself.

Oh, and I had an email from someone who's writing an article on knitting bloggers for "Simply Knitting" magazine, asking if I'd like to be included - I'm very flattered and as long as they don't make me wear any of the ghastly patterns in the mag I wouldn't mind being in. If she's reading this I'm probably right off the Christmas card list!

Cast on for the corset? Finish the necklace? Do a bit more of RFD? I don't know but it'll definitely involve needles of some description.

Monday, July 18, 2005

It's Monday again

Monday is really Friday. I work in a restaurant. Weekends are busy. Today is my Friday. Tomorrow is my Saturday. To get into the spirit of that TGIF feeling, I ordered yarn.

You know I joined the mystery shawl along? The first "clue" is due on August first. We've had a few hints as to how much yarn we might need (1100 yards), we don't know much else. I just find this so liberating - I don't have to think; I don't have to swatch (as if!); I don't have to do much except knit and I think I can manage that. So, I spent this morning flapping around cyberspace, choosing yarn. I decided I'd really rather order from the UK. I don't have anything against the US, I've ordered yarn very successfully from there many a time and oft, I just thought I might give some of these new UK vendors a go. I thought about Cherry Tree Hills merino lace (discounted, I didn't like the colours); I thought about Lorna's Laces (discounted, almost impossible to find anywhere that has any selection of colours whatsoever - what is that about? "I've made this wonderful yarn, I've dyed it wonderful colours, you can't have any because I didn't make enough." Is it like how the more expensive the perfume, the more women want it?). I finally settled on Margaret Stove Artisan Lace. It comes from New Zealand. It's hand dyed. They say it's beautiful. This is the colour:

which is called hyacinth. I've ordered it from Woolly Workshop and I can't wait for it to arrive. I ordered 4 skeins - that's 1,200 yards. I hope it's enough.

I have never before used a variegated yarn for knitting lace. I know there are differing opinions on this: some say the colour variation takes away from the lace, some say it adds to the effect. It's time for me to find out for myself.

Ordering yarn always cheers me up. It's almost as good as getting stuff through the post. I got something through the letter box this morning. It wasn't yarn. It was "Knatty Knitters" - the newsletter of the Penzance Knitting and Crochet Group. Ages ago, when I posted about the Knitting Police, I had an email from a knitter in Penzance, asking if she could use the Knitting Police story in the newsletter that she does for her knitting group. Of course, I said yes - I was flattered beyond belief! I just asked that she would send me a copy of the newsletter. That's what came through the letter box this morning.

The Knitting Police article was illustrated with this wonderful image:

I'm only sorry I didn't have the good sense to find a suitable "Knitting Policeman" image to illustrate my original post. Isn't he just the epitome of the Knitting Policeman? You wouldn't mess with him, would you? I know I wouldn't.

So, to any Penzance area knitters who are visiting this blog because I featured in your newsletter: Hello and I hope I've entertained you suitably. The write-up made it sound like a laugh a minute, hope I've lived up to it.

Work continues on Rosy Fingered Dawn. Slowly, slowly, catchee monkey. I'm on chart 5:

The pink yarn markers are back in. Yes, Lixie, I am still using your markers - I just need more. You can never really put in too many markers, in my opinion. There are still clothes peg markers at the corners, there is still the heart marker at the beginning of the round, but there are also markers along each side to mark the four pattern repeats. If you count carefully and if you use "landmark" stitches (the third stitch goes into a yarnover from the previous round, or whatever) you can't really go wrong. Famous last words - there will be frogging before morning, I can just feel it.

You know I got the Elsebeth Lavold book? Viking Patterns for Knitting. It has many delightful designs but it doesn't have this one, with which I have become obsessed:

This is a design called "Nanna" (what some Brits call their Grandmother). I found it on her site a while ago and it was only available in Norwegian, or Danish, or whatever. Foolishly, I didn't order it and now it has disappeared. I am totally in lust. I want this jacket more than I've wanted anything for ages. I would even be prepared to learn Danish, or Norwegian, or whatever. If anyone, anywhere, knows where I can get this pattern, even if it is in Chinese, please, please let me know. Failing that, I might have to just wing it - based on the information from the book, the picture and my own native wit and low cunning. Am I up to the challenge? Answers on a postcard...

Saturday, July 16, 2005

One of those days

It's one of those days when everything I touch seems to end in chaos. I am posting this in great trepidation - I fully expect that Blogger will eat the whole thing before it gets anywhere near your screen. If there are spelling mistakes or mistakes in grammar please ignore them and be thankful that you are seeing anything at all.

I spent the morning trying to buy Annie Modesitt's pattern for the silk corset. There's a lovely picture of Anita wearing hers which meant I just had to have it. I hope mine turns out so well. Annie says it looks good on everyone - she may come to rue her words when it comes to my figure. I had a big long fight with Paypal over which credit card to use (like I have so many there could be confusion). Eventually, after much coming and going, emailing, tearing out of hair, cursing, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. I managed to pay for the pattern, which is sent by email in pdf format and so should arrive in no time - perfect for instant gratification. Ha! I was still waiting when I had to leave for work.

The pattern has now arrived, looks wonderful and it turns out Annie has been having email/computer "issues" also. It may be catching.

She gives instructions for printing out the pattern to make a little booklet. They are not foolproof. This fool could not manage to do it. There cannot be all that many variations in the way one piece of paper can be put into a printer. (No doubt some smarty-pants mathematician could tell me exactly how many ways - if you are that smarty-pants, why don't you email me or leave a comment - I do not think I could feel any worse.) I am certain I have tried all of them. It is obvious that I can't have tried all of them because I still do not have the pages in the right order and in the right orientation. It is making my brain hurt. Heaven alone knows why I thought doing a round on Rosy Fingered Dawn would improve things.

The corners of the shawl are where the increases happen. On one round you do YO, K3, YO; on the next round you do YO, Double decrease, YO. It's pretty straightforward. Not for me, not today.

I got to the end of the first side and saw this:

The double decrease on the previous round is missing. It should look like this:

Oh, dear. It's not a big problem, do not panic. It is perfectly possible to correct this without taking back the whole of the previous round. You just isolate the three offending stitches; take them off the needle; undo the loops, leaving a big strand at the back and knit them up again, correctly this time. However, the day being as it was I thought I'd rather only do that for one round and not two, so I decided to tink back to the beginning of the round. It's only one side, there are only 121 stitches (I didn't realise that at the time, if I had done I might not have chosen this solution.) I tinked back, even undoing the centred double decrease - slip 2 kwise, K1, pass 2 slipped stitches over- without too much difficulty. When I got back to the beginning of the round I realised that I had not, in fact, made the same mistake on the first corner. The first corner was correct. I had just tinked 121 stitches (including the devilish centred double decrease) for no reason whatsoever, except to pass the time. By great good fortune there was no-one else in the house when I discovered this. Had there been anyone present I think I would still be apologising for the cursing and throwing of sharp objects even now.

At least one brave soul, to my knowledge, has joined the mystery shawl along because I mentioned it on here. Someone else asked if lace wasn't hard. I don't think lace is hard. It's just knitting. As Stephanie says knitting is a binary code: it's either a knit or a purl. You have to do some increasing, which is usually just a yarnover. You have to do some decreasing, which is often a K2tog, or SSK. You may have to read a chart. But that is the extent of it. Believe me, if I can do it anyone can do it. Do not let anyone tell you it is "too hard". You are a knitter - nothing is too hard.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Look what I got!

Look at these lovely little things:

Lixie sent me these delightful stitch markers, which she made herself the clever girl. Obviously, she took pity on me because I normally use the red crochet cotton. I have never used a stitch marker like these before. One with a heart marks the beginning of the round:

and a clothes peg marks the corners:

I like the way you can feel the marker coming up and that gives you the clue to the fact that you really are making progress. A great big thank you, Lixie.

The rounds are pretty long now and it can feel as if it is just going on for ever. I have changed colour yet again. I am now using "purple mist" and it's now like a very large, very bruised scrotum. However, at least this project has regular changes in the pattern. It drives me bonkers when you are doing a pattern that just repeats and repeats and repeats. In chart 4 we are doing flowers and strawberries and we have the added complication of a "pivot stitch". All this means is that you work up to the pivot stitch and then work away from the pivot stitch, reversing all the decreases. It is a very effective way of charting and I don't find the mirror image business too complicated. The same technique is employed by Dorothy Siemens in her patterns at Fiddlesticks Knitting. I must say her patterns do have a slight edge - they are very easy to read, because she prints them big enough. My only complaint is that they are on a strange tan coloured paper and that means trying to do a working photocopy is not all that easy.

I have joined yet another Yahoo Group. This time it's the "Mystery Shawl Along". Basically what happens is that you are given up to six "clues" (one a week starting on August first) and you follow the clues and end up with a shawl. There are a few guidelines: we know it's a triangular shawl, we know how much yarn it takes, we know the designer is using Jaggerspun Maine Line. That's about it, so far. I really like the idea of seeing the shawl unfold and gradually coming to know what it is like. I think that by August 1st I should be in a position to start another shawl and I'm really looking forward to it. Anyone want to join me? Whizz along and sign up and let's get knitting.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Lace knitting, during the knitting process, is not photogenic. Discuss.

You don't need to bother discussing. The evidence of your own eyes should be sufficient:

and to reinforce my point, here I give you Rosy Fingered Dawn, stuffed:

It's like some horrible scrotum. I am heartily sick of chart 3 (the Gate pattern). There are seven more rounds of this most boring, repetitive stuff and then we move on (and not before time.)

Aside from all that - Lixie is feeling the need to knit lace. Have I been the great enabler once again, or is it just coincidence? Whatever the case, she asked about knitting Kiri in cotton. We all know that I think cotton is the work of the devil but it wasn't always so. In my thinking about a cotton Kiri, I went stash-diving and I found this:

This is a shawl, knitted in cotton with many, many bobbles. What was I thinking? Cotton and bobbles - I must have been in a masochistic phase. It just goes to show how much of a process knitter I am that the thing is not even finished. The knitting is done (and that's all that matters) but the ends are still to weave in. The product is just so not important.

The point is, though, that this shawl is quite heavy. I'm not sure how fine a cotton Lixie is thinking of but Kiri is quite delicate and that's part of the charm. I don't know if cotton would destroy the delicacy? On the other hand, cotton certainly shows a pattern well (witness all those doilys). I did even more research (Read all about it before you start, that's my motto).

I find someone using Sirdar Calypso for her Kiri. It looks nice but I don't know how the cotton would wear - I've got a bit in stash and it is very soft and floppy (technical terrm). Here is another cotton Kiri, and this is the yarn being used. The upshot is give it a try - you could always do a swatch. (HA!)

Tari left a comment here on the blog. So I went to look at her blog and found this wonderful designer. There is a book:

I want that thing on the front (maybe, in this case, the product might just be a teeny, tiny bit important) and I covet this pink coat:

Book available here (but only in Norwegian or Danish). I tried putting some of the words into a translator (it told me I could "Book the book" - I think that would be "order" the book, no?) Maybe, when I am feeling stronger - it can't be that hard, it's just knitting, right?

Seven more rounds. Seven more rounds. Seven more rounds.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Through a glass darkly

I just feel as if it's all a bit of a blur at the moment.

I started off following the pattern and doing exactly what it told me to do.

Then I came to my senses and the tinkering kicked in.

First up, the left leaning decrease. There has actually been quite a lot of discussion about left leaning decreases on the laceknitters list just lately. I wasn't really paying too much attention - a mistake, as I've just had to root through the archives. I don't know about you but I find Yahoo Groups painfully slow and just not all that easy to use.

There are various possibilities for the left leaning decrease:

SKP - Slip 1, knit 1, pass the slipped stitch over. (You could slip that stitch either knitwise or purlwise - if you slip it purlwise it twists the stitch)

SSK- Slip 1 (kwise or pwise?), slip another one (kwise or pwise?) put the left needle into the two stitches on the right needle from left to right and knit together from there. Someone suggested slipping the first stitch kwise and the second stitch pwise to make the finished article flatter - I think it does, you may decided it doesn't make a scrap of difference.

There are some good pictures of basic decreases here - I know if I were a good girl I would have taken those pictures myself. Well, maybe one day, at the moment I'd be happy just to get one round done without tearing out my hair.

Hazel Carter, in her wisdom, makes great play of the fact that we should slip the stitch purlwise, knit the next stitch and pass the slipped stitch over. As I said above, this twists the stitch. While I can see that there may be a need to have a twisted stitch in certain cases, I don't think we need a twisted stitch here. I have therefore replaced SKP with SSK (first stitch slipped kwise, second stitch slipped pwise) in all cases. I didn't rip out the few rounds at the beginning where I had used the recommended increase. I am just going to have to trust to that chap on the running horse not being close enough to see what is going on. The knitting police may also be the mounted police too, thereby affording two possibilities of getting away with it.

All of the above really is not that big of a deal. It's knitter's choice. I have made my choice, I can justify it (even though I don't have to justify anything) and I am sticking to it. End of story.

Where I'm feeling less happy and more at sea is where there is a discrepancy between the words on the pattern and the chart. This happens right off in chart 1, section B. The words say "round 34 is plain knit" ; the chart shows round 34 as beginning the faggoting at the corners; the words say the corner faggoting begins on round 35. I can't remember now what I did but whatever it was may have contributed to the total tearing out of the hair when it came to chart 3.

I did have the right number of stitches in the round. I didn't have them properly arranged and this caused a certain amount of consternation. I had to fudge to get the "Gates of the East" pattern to line up correctly with the "Chariot Wheel" pattern. Ms Carter isn't all that clear on her "spacer ridge" either. The first one (rounds 41 to 44) states "there are no increases during the spacer ridge". She doesn't make it clear if that's just this ridge or all the other ridges to come. Later she says "work a spacer ridge ... keeping corner faggoting and increases correct." Just to add insult to injury, she doesn't give a stitch count for the first round after this spacer ridge. I was reduced to counting the squares, doing a sum and hoping for the best.

This is the state of play at the moment

It looks just the sort of thing to store your dreadlocks in (if you have them).

This is the private side:

See the famous red crochet cotton? That's the start of the round.

See the blue crochet cotton? Those are the corners.

See the safety pins? These have now been replaced by pink crochet cotton and show the pattern repeats on each side.

Markers are your friend.

Friday, July 08, 2005


When I got back from taking #1 daughter to her flute exam this morning, the postman had been. I knew what it was and I think you will too:

I had to do some deep breathing. It is all that I hoped:

Blackberry Ridge are to be congratulated - I ordered Rosy Fingered Dawn on July 1st and here it is on July 8th. One week from the wilds of Wisconsin to the rural backwater. Pretty good.

Out came the swift:

This bit of kit is invaluable - don't begrudge the few quid they cost. There is no messing about with the back of chairs; there is no trying to persuade a passing husband/offspring to hold out their hands; there is never, ever, attempting to emulate the contortionist's assistant and hold the yarn with your own feet, while winding with your own hands. This thing will last a lifetime and will pay for itself in peace of mind (not to mention no chance of putting your back out) in a very short space of time. I urge you to get yourself one - you know, because you're worth it.

The addition of a ball winder is, for me, an optional extra. I used to have one and have no idea what happened to it. I don't miss it. I like the feeling of the yarn feeding through my fingers. Some people can make perfect centre pull balls. Some people use a nostepinde. Some people are absolutely hopeless at all of the above and cannot wait to get the yarn into a ball, any ball, so they can start knitting. Use your imagination as to which category I fall into.

No, I don't wind all of the yarn at the outset. I wind the minimum amount to enable me to cast on. I like the variation of doing a bit of winding every so often. I also like to leave the yarn relaxed in the skein for as long as possible.

Then we have to cast on. 8 stitches, US#6 dpns. That would be 4.25mm. I've decided to go with 4mm for two reasons. Strangely, I don't seem to have any 4.25mm dpns and I know I am a loose knitter, so it's 4mm for me and no, of course, I didn't bother with a swatch. DPNs? I don't think so. Wrestling with a hedgehog? No, thank you. Knitting a small circumference on two circular needles is a breeze. You can do the same thing with one long circular needle. It's also known as the "magic loop" technique. I personally do not like it. I feel as if I am putting too much strain on the stitches but this is just me. You may find it is just the ticket.

What cast on to use? How to get a decent beginning? I've tried various methods. Sandy Terp has a "tab start", Rosemary shared her "belly button" start, but the one I like best of all is Emily Ocker's cast on. There are some pictures here if you are that sort of learner. Judy Gibson does say you can pull it tight and snip off the end as close as you like. That's a good thing because when I gave it a good old tug to close the hole, the yarn snapped in my hand. However, it does not appear to have come to any harm:

There's plenty of knitting to come.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Bombs

We are all shocked. Some of us have been personally involved. Some of us have been sitting at home, watching the BBC and knitting (because what else do you do?). I will not allow this outrage to make me change my mind. I know that democracy is the least worst way of organising the way people relate to each other. That is my last word on the matter.

And smoothly on to knitting.

I finished the OSW and I love it:

I hope I do not appear to have too much of a "chicken neck" here.

There is less chance of shrivelled skin here, I think:

Photographs courtesy of #1 daughter, who appears to be a dab hand (although she did, inadvertently, take a picture of the back door, while all this was going on.) She was under strict instructions to miss out my face and she did the job.

I can't write anymore. I feel a bit wobbly.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Needle Storage

There seems to be a lot of discussion on the UKHandknitters list about circular needles. I'm a great fan, I use them most of the time, regardless of if I'm knitting in the round or back and forth. You get them in various lengths, various materials, with various points and the only drawback seems to be that the size is not printed on them (unless you buy Addi Turbos - hugely expensive but well worth it.) As a consequence of this you end up with a bag/box/drawer full of curly bits of plastic/wood/metal that could easily drive you up the wall.

I have tried different solutions but my favourite at the moment is this:

These are portable CD cases bought from Ikea a few weeks ago and finally stuffed full of circular needles.

Yes, they are coiled up - this is surely the nature of the beast. Yes, you do still have to make an educated guess as to circumference and then get out the needle gauge to check. You could, on the other hand, just do what I do and pick out a likely candidate. Everyone can tell the difference between a 9mm Addi Turbo and a 3mm metal "lace" needle with the wicked points, can't they?

I went to #1 daughter's Summer Concert yesterday evening. It's all to do with Warwickshire's County Music Service. They do a great job, though I am more than grateful that said daughter took up the flute and not the fiddle. There is nothing worse than a beginner on the violin (unless it's a group of beginners.) Thanks to the concert, I finished the first sock.

Here's a close-up of the gusset:

where you can also see the heel stitch. Heather, I think it was, asked what yarn I'm using. I'm sorry to say I haven't got a clue. It's some ACK-rylic I bought in Birmingham a while ago and I have lost the ball band. I found a ball band telling me it was Patons Fab but closer investigation seems to point to something else - Patons Fab doesn't appear to be variegated and this yarn certainly is. I like the way it has turned out. All I have to do now is make the other sock. In order to avoid the dreaded "Second Sock Syndrome" I have cast on immediately and have got 24 stitches on the needles at the moment.

Progress on the One Skein Wonder continues:

I am almost to the end of the increases and will shortly have to make a decision as to which needle size to use for the seed stitch borders round the arms and whether to do the borders in the round or back and forth and seam them. The latter is what the pattern recommends but, as I'm sure I've mentioned before, I don't do sewing. If it could be done in the round, it almost certainly should be done in the round.