Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Decisions, decisions.

I think my knitbud and I have decided on the swap shawl - it's going to be:

The Garden Shawl from Fiddlesticks. (It was quite a feat to find a shawl that we both liked that neither of us had already made.) The yarn called for is the Margaret Stove NZ merino lace weight that I used for the Hyacinth Mystery Shawl. I quite like the Ocean colourway, my knitbud would prefer a solid colour. We are still in discussion over the yarn to use, so I don't know quite when we will begin.

In want of a large project, I'm still making clothes for my Babe, who has told me that her name is Matilda.

Here she is reclining on the pink wrap, wearing her frock and matching hat:

I then decided she would need some warmer clothing, what with the winter coming on and all, so I made her a jumper from some self-patterning sock yarn:

I even more or less managed to get the stripes to match up on the back, front and sleeves. (If I'd had my wits more about me I would never have comtemplated doing this in pieces, because, as you know, I don't really do sewing.)

I've done hardly any knitting today, preferring to "sort out" the chaos in the living room. I took pictures but you really don't want to see them. Suffice to say that there came a point when it was worse than it had been when I started; that I have discovered, behind the piano, Debbie Bliss wool/cotton x 4 in purple and fuchsia, Rowan Polar x 2 in green, Jaeger Shetland Aran x 2 in creamish, Regia mini ringel x 2 in blue, Louisa Harding Fauve x 2 in teal, the four skeins of Rowan Tweed 4-ply, along with sundry other bits and pieces; I have frogged the pink entrelace sock which didn't really fit me and life's too short for entrelac anyway, the Hearts Illusion scarf in Jaeger Matchmaker DKwhich I didn't like the look of, though why it took me almost four balls of said DK to realise this is beyond me, and the green fuzzy second go at the first mystery shawl. That yarn still hasn't told me what it wants to be - I'm starting to think it doesn't know itself.

I've started the second mystery shawl again using Zephyr (the "Iris" colour left over from The Great Cosmos), it looks better than the mystery yarn version, though I am still not convinced I want to expend the time and effort required. We shall see.

When I went to check on my web stats at StatCounter I discovered that 35 out of the last 100 visitors have been from Sweden. Who knew? Hello to any Swedish knitters out there and can anyone shed any light as to why I suddenly seem to be flavour of the month there?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Presents in the Post

Such an exciting day yesterday. The postman brought me not one, but two packets.

Remember the dreadful knots and fragile state of the final skein of Blackberry Ridge laceweight for Rosy Fingered Dawn? Well, I e-mailed them and explained the problem, not really wanting a replacement (since I'd already struggled with all the extra yarn ends the knots entailed) but just in the spirit of letting them know so the problem could be addressed. (It drives me bonkers at work when people complain after they have eaten (or not) their dinner. Tell me about it and I might be able to help, don't tell me about it and there is no chance I can help. Unless my crystal ball is back from the mender's.) I had a very nice, very prompt reply offering a replacement skein or, if I had "plowed on" (don't you just love that quaint US way of spelling?), another skein of something else and would I like to choose? Well, I had "plowed on" and so I chose a skein of silk/wool blend in the Willow colour.

That arrived:

It's very pretty. I haven't wound it into a ball yet so I don't know about any knots. I don't know what it's going to turn into. I thought about "Ene's Scarf" from "Scarf Style" and when I dug the book out discovered:

Blackberry Ridge Lace Weight Silk Blend (75% wool, 25% silk; 350 yd [320 m] /2 oz [57g]): Willow, 2 skeins". So that would be half a scarf, then.

I also got a parcel from UKnitty. I had an honourable mention in the competition to prove "I'm not slacking, I'm supporting the cause" and because of that I had four skeins of Rowanspun 4-ply in a lovely teal colour. Many thanks. Here is my first (faceless) "Knitted Babe" holding said yarn:

Included with the yarn was an example of the rare red Bounty bar, a truly inspired touch. There is no picture of that, for I am afraid I have destroyed the evidence.

In want of a decision on the next shawl, I have been concentrating on the Babe:

Here she is, reclining on the Ab Fab throw in her underwear. In fact, I still need to put some elastic in the waistband of the French knickers, otherwise she is in grave danger of losing them completely. She needs more hair, too. I think maybe a fringe? Most of the clothes and accessories use what is called "fingering weight" yarn. I think this is equivalent to our 4-ply. Well, that threw me into confusion. I don't have any 4-ply. That was my first thought. Second was, "Oh, no! I'll have to go to my LYS." and third was to have a root through my stash. Of course I've got 4-ply. There's pink variegated (from the entrelac socks); plain pink (ditto); any number of tiny balls of sock yarn (variegated and not); some wool/cotton in purple and fuchsia (no idea what the plan was there); lots of Shetland 2-ply jumper weight that I think will do (left over from the Wendy Fearless Fairisle); I think two strands of laceweight would also do the trick (any amount of that clouting round the house); and of course there's lots of yarn left from the RFD kit, which I still can't think of as lace-weight. All in all, I've probably got enough yarn to knit the nameless babe a full wardrobe.

I've surely got enough yarn to knit a whole stableful (if that's the correct term) of Babes. They even have their own website and there's a "Babes' Blog", where there are very many Babes of all descriptions. My Babe hasn't got a name yet but I'm sure she's going to tell me who she is very shortly.

Now for a bit of silliness:

Kate needs:

- more than a glad bag of coke for an evening.

- a shave.

- to get outta here.

- to be brought to her knees.

- to trust Angel.

- to go back to working at the diner.

- to be genuine.

- a kidney.

- help.

- to be involved.

Saw this originally on Wendy's blog. Want to play? Just Google "(your first name) needs" and post the best 10 (or don't bother posting - just laugh quietly to yourself.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I did it again.

Yes, I did it again - I just popped into my LYS to show off Rosy Fingered Dawn and yarn just threw itself at me.

I got some more of Louisa Harding's yarn:

A ball of Impression to make a hat for Ann-at-work (even though she managed to squash two of my fingers the other day while we were moving tables round the restaurant - all I could think of was, "It's my yarn hand, I'll have to knit Continental for a while." even as my fingers were throbbing and turning blue.) It's just going to be a simple beanie style - there's a pattern in the Accessories book, but she suggests knitting flat and seaming. There is no way I'm doing that. I really don't do sewing.

I got this:

to make myself the Moss Stitch hat from the same book. I'm not terribly keen on the actual practice of doing moss stitch, though I like the finished effect. The hat is very cute though, so I'm going to give it a go. Part of my difficulty with moss stitch is that you keep having to move the yarn from front to back and vice versa, which slows everything down no end. I did a little bit of research (you know me, I'd rather read about doing it than actually do it) and I found Theresa's detailed information about different ways of purling. I have been having a go at the Norwegian method and think I have got the hang of it. She says it tends to make the tension looser, so I shall probably end up having to use 2mm needles, since I am a loose knitter at the best of times.

I was practising on the 2x2 rib of the latest socks, which are finally finished:

I just used some ACK-rylic yarn I picked up in Birmingham market, because I liked the idea of camouflage socks. I used this toe-up sock pattern. I like toe-up socks - no need for a swatch, just keep going until the sock is long enough/you get fed up/you run out of yarn (whichever is the soonest). So now I have no socks in progress, so I need some socks to knit, so I need some sock yarn, because, of course, there is absolutely nothing, repeat, nothing, even faintly suitable in the mountain of stash. So I caved in and bought this:

I don't know if I should cast on a hat (or two); a sock (or two); take up one of the many WIPs; dig down into the stash for a UFO; or what.

I know I'm not going to start another shawl just yet, though a new shawl is in the very early planning stages. It's going to be a "shawl swap" shawl. My long-time knit bud over in the US there has agreed that we should knit on the same shawl and then send it to the other. We've knitted on the same shawl at the same time before (like a personal, individual KAL) but we've never actually swapped before. It so exciting - we have so much to decide. The shape, the size, the yarn, the colour, the pattern. Any suggestions, anyone?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Finito Benito

The knitting was finished on Wednesday. The blocking was yet to come. I always look forward to the blocking. This is when the crumpled mass/mess of mountains of shrivelled yarn is transformed into the beauty, the glory, the delight that is lace.

The problem is that I need to do blocking on #1 daughter's bedroom floor, as it's the biggest space in the house. The problem is that #1 daughter tends to want to hang out in her bedroom and trample all over said floor, with her great size 9s. (Are kids like puppies - you look at the paws/feet and it gives you the clue as to how big they are going to end up? I think I gave birth to a Great Dane.) So I had to wait until Friday, when #1 daughter was off staying with Not-a-Barbie Auntie (who doesn't like to be calle "Auntie", so let's hope she's not reading this.)

I looked at the finished shawl, I looked at the available space and it came to my attention that maybe, just maybe, I didn't actually have enough room to block the Statue of Liberty's shawl. I thought about doing some alterations in the house - you know, knocking down a few internal walls, making things a bit more "open-plan"; I thought about renting out the village hall for a weekend - that's quite a big room, it might be big enough; I thought about ringing the sports centre and asking about "borrowing" a tennis court, or something. I really did think that the blocked size of this shawl was going to be bigger than the whole "footprint" of my house. Ann-at-work, on seeing the unblocked version, said, "It's going to be big. It's going to be so big that we'll be able to wrap you in it, like you wrap a baby - round the head, cross over the chest and bring the corner up over the feet. Then we'll be able to prop you in a corner." I was starting to think that she might be right.

I had to move everything in the room (apart from the bed) but I did manage to fit the thing in:

I must say that the colours seemed to come up beautifully when I washed her. I usually use shampoo with conditioner, soak for about twenty minutes, rinse, squeeze out gently, wrap in a towel and walk about on it. However, this time, I was a bit pressed for time, so I thought I would spin the thing in the washing machine. It worked a treat. I'd already threaded the fishing line through each of the points and while I don't normally cut the line but just leave it attached to the reel, I didn't think a reel of fishing line clattering round in the washer would do it much good, so I cut it and tied it and hoped for the best.

This was one of the easiest shawls I have ever blocked. I used the cotton bedspread with the handy squares on it, which you can see in the picture above. One pin in each point, one pin in each corner, count the squares between points, slight adjustments, done.

She is 62 inches square - that's five foot two inches - that's my height. So yes, Ann, you will be able to wrap me in the shawl and prop me in a corner. But can I wear it a little bit first?

Apologies for the dark picture. It was hurriedly taken by #1 daughter before she went to school this morning and it was a tad dark. It's brighter now but there is no-one in the house but me.

Wrapped round me.

Here she is on the line:

Vital Statistics

Rosy Fingered Dawn. Pattern: Hazel Carter
Yarn: Blackberry Ridge Lace Weight
Needles :4mm dpns, then circular.
Started: 8 July 05
Finished knitting: 12 Oct 05
Blocked: 16 Oct 05
Size: 62 inches square.
Weight: 267g
Verdict: Great fun to knit. No mistakes in the pattern as far as I could tell. Yarn slightly fragile and thicker than what I would call lace-weight.

This is how it all started:

Can't believe it, really, can you?

Friday, October 14, 2005

I'm still supporting the cause.

I'm supporting National Knitting Week by knitting (but as this is nothing unusual you can't really tell the difference) and by buying books (also not all that unusual, but I am trying.)

This appeared on the door-step:



Stephanie's latest bookbookbook - because she's funny and we all know what she means (and she was knitting Birch at the same time as me; and the Highland Triangle shawl; and the spiral scarf from Scarf Style; scary, no?); Claire Garland's "Knitted Babes" - because they are cute; A Gathering of Lace - because, for some strange reason, I don't own a copy. This last is awesome and I want to knit just about everything in it. It gathers (ha ha) together all the usual suspects - you know: Hazel Carter, Sandy Terp, Debbie New, Susanna Lewis and so on and so on. So between trying to read all of these at the same time, go to work and watch some snooker, did I get any knitting done?

Why, yes! (Because I'm not slacking, I'm supporting the cause.) I finished the Button Wrap:

Seen here, resting in the garden. Not a brilliant picture - it is almost dark at 10am, but at least the flash didn't go off.

Here's a close-up of the buttons:

The ones shown on the model in the pattern book seem, to me, to be a little bit low-key. They are sort of brown-ish, a bit "none" as my mother would say. This whole wrap is much more vibrant in real life than it appears on the screen or in the book and I wanted these buttons to emphasise the "bling" factor.

The true fact of the matter is that they were the only buttons in the huge button tin that were a) anywhere near the right size and b) anywhere near the right colour. This so rarely happens that I have designated this a "Gold Button Day".

Blocking of Rosy Fingered Dawn should take place later on today or possibly tomorrow. Stand by for tales of woe -I just feel there might be another sting in the tail. The booze is chilling, the chocolate is to hand. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

National Knitting Week

So it's National Knitting Week and we are enjoined to knit. It's not all that hard for me to knit. I mean:

washing up, or


Knitting or washing up? It's so hard to decide.

What's hard to decide is what to knit - not if I should knit or not.

Finish Rosy Fingered Dawn?

Finish clue 2 of Mystery 2?

Finish the Button Wrap?

Start something new? (That really would be in the spirit of National Knitting Week, now, wouldn't it?)

I decided to finish Rosy Fingered Dawn. I've had more than enough of the last "ball" of yarn. You thought it ended up as six (6) balls of yarn? You'd be wrong. I discovered another knot in one of the plies. So it finished as seven (7) balls of yarn. The yarn also broke twice - once when I was digging in to two stitches to do a double decrease. I had to take back half a row of the border. Not really a big deal but just a bit of a pain.

The other time the yarn broke was far, far worse. The knitting was finished. There remained only that which requires:

Yes, you knew what was coming - chocolate and alcohol.


This is why:


There are a few reasons why these two are required together and one of them is the dreaded grafting. Now it's only 15 stitches on the border. It's made slightly more complicated by the fact that seven of those stitches are garter stitch and eight of those stitches are stocking stitch but the instructions are clear (apart from "the yarn should be coming from the right end of the top needle". So would that be the front needle or the back needle? I assume the back needle. Naturally, my yarn is coming from the front needle but that actually didn't make all that much difference.)

I took a deep breath. I took a bite of chocolate, I took a slug of raspberry beer. I followed the instructions to the letter. It all went very well. The tension was slightly wonky (technical term) but that is often the case. I gave the thing a slight tug to even out said tension. And the yarn broke. In the middle of the graft. This is when I polished off the raspberry beer in one gulp and ran into the garden, screaming. It wasn't even swearing - there were no discernible words - it was just one, long, primeval scream of anguish. I had to get as far away as possible from Rosy Dawn and all her Fingers, lest I bundle her, uncerimoniously, and without a second thought, into the fiery furnace of the Rayburn in my kitchen.

I stood in the garden, in the murk and the rain and did very deep breathing and chanting. "In with love, out with hate. In with love, out with hate. In with love, out with hate."

When I calmed down, I did it all again. It came out perfectly. Rosy Fingers and her Dawn is done:

This is #1 daughter, obscured by Dawn and her Fingers, all Rosy.

What's next? The Blocking. I am so much looking forward to The Blocking. How many more times can the yarn break? What about if it breaks right at the beginning? What about if it breaks in the middle of the most complex pattern panel? What about if it breaks anywhere at all?

What about ordering up a case of Champagne? A kilo of chocolates? What about having a lie down in a darkened room??

Monday, October 10, 2005


I don't wish to be crude; I don't like to use "bad language" (how can language be bad? It's just words, right?) but, and I think this is a big but, it came to the point where I needed to wind the very last skein of "lace-weight" wool for the Rosy Fingered Dawn. I extracted it from its bag and I put it on the swift, I started to wind and I found a knot. Once again, this knot was in only one of the two plies. As you know, a machine might spin the yarn, but it doesn't stop in the middle and tie a knot in one of the plies, does it? Well, it doesn't. (Just so you know.) OK. These things happen.

* Cut yarn. Start a new ball. Repeat from * until you are thoroughly ticked off. This is what I ended up with:

One ounce of wool, 6 (six) balls of yarn.

Don't get me started.

I've done more repeats of the never-ending border. I've also done a bit of frogging because I really can't be bothered to write down every single row I knit, so I keep getting lost.

I've done a bit more of Mystery2 (which, let me tell you, is a heck of a lot better than Mystery1) and this is the result:

Yes, I know, it doesn't look like much. Welcome to the world of the lace knitter. Everything looks like a crumpled (and used ) handkerchief until it's off the needles and blocked and then the true glory is revealed.

And just because I was feeling as low as a girl could feel, I went into the garden and took a few pictures. My garden is not a "loved-up" garden. I think things grow there in spite of me and not because of me. There was this though:


Not much more to say, really.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Still avoiding the issue

I still can't quite manage to get to the end of Rosy Fingered Dawn, although I did make myself do one repeat of the edging last evening. It looks much as it did: just as big, just as scrumpled, just as pink.

Here's a (very bad) picture of the Louisa Harding Lace Scarf:

Here's one with scarf languishing on the garden gate:

This is the one where the flash went off, outside, in the middle of the day. Today is not much brighter. All it makes me want to do is sleep. So, to counteract this wish for hibernation, I thought it best to start knitting something more cheerful.

This is the beginning:

of the "Button Wrap" and doesn't really show off the jewel-like nature of this beautiful yarn. A close-up reveals more:

It really is a joy to behold and (almost) enough to gladden the heart.

I've also started (and finished) Clue 1 of the Mystery Shawl 2:

using the anonymous yarn pictured yesterday. One (perhaps appropriately) anonymous commenter suggested the "burn test", which at least gives a rough idea of fibre content. I tried it and the flame moved swiftly up the yarn, before burning out and leaving a hard blob (technical term) and a nasty smell. So ACK-rylic, then. Not that I'm a yarn snob or anything.

If you haven't already listened to the October 1st edition of "A Prairie Home Companion", you could hop on over there and listen to the sketch about the knitting cowboys. It cheered me up no end.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Eye Candy

Just so you don't think I have abandoned Rosy Fingered Dawn completely, here is a close-up of the corner:

It is a most ingenious use of short rows and really does look very neat. I'm always a bit wary of those knitted on borders where the pattern says something like "you may have to adjust the rate of attachment as you round the corner". Well, thank you. Is there any clue as to what sort of adjustment I "may" have to make? You can bet your bottom dollar that if it's in my hands that "may" will be a definite. This treatment, on the other hand, leaves nothing to chance. It makes a perfect mitre and I'm sure could be modified to be used on any other project with this kind of knitted on border.

Another picture of RFD:

This is the morning star in the centre of the border that Blogger wouldn't let me post a picture of the other day. Don't know if it was worth waiting for.

The Louisa Harding lace scarf is finished. There is no picture, as I am in the house on my own; I cannot get the self-portrait bit of my camera to work (I can but I do not care of the view of myself that is produced); the day is so dim that the automatic flash went off when I draped the scarf on a tree in the garden.

Thankfully, I took this picture the other day (when it was light).

I am in an even better position than you, dear reader, for I have the yarn in front of my eyes and I can touch it, or simply gaze at it to cheer myself up.

I thought of making this:

It's a little cape thing, also in the Louisa Harding "Accessories" book and uses Sari Ribbon and "Impression" - 84% nylon, 16% mohair, 50g/154yds, 140m. She says 6mm needles, we shall see.

I have also joined the MysteryShawlAlong2 group. Why I do not know, since I moaned and griped about the last one so much. I have decided to give them another chance. I have hardly looked at the emails - I don't need or want to know. I have printed out clue one, which doesn't look all that exciting and have been wondering what yarn to use. I was hoping to use something from the stash but when I saw this cone of anonymous yarn, lurking in a basket, under a table, on the pavement, outside an antique shop in Shipston, with a price tag of 50p (less than $1, if it matters), I felt that maybe I should splash out.

I've no idea what it is. It's light grey, skinny (technical term), slightly shiny - could have some silk in there?, and has a label inside saying "Lister & Co Countryside 2/24 Larch 898/4167 B" An extensive search has drawn a blank. I have no idea what I am dealing with here. I suppose I could always do a swatch...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bling Bling

I have finished the third edge of the border of Rosy Fingered Dawn. I have turned the corner and am on the home straight. I am starting to worry that I am knitting a shawl for the Statue of Liberty. Anne over at White Star Sams is also knitting RFD. She says she's starting to worry about the size of said shawl. Her problem is the exact opposite- she's knitting a shawl for Barbie. What is all that about?

Predictably, because I am on the home straight, my attention has started to wander. I finally managed to make it to my LYS, after an absence of about three weeks, due to press of work, life etc. Only to find - a gift voucher from Ann to say "Thank You" for her One Skein Wonder AND the whole shop over-run with new yarns from Louisa Harding. Talk about a kid in a candy shop.

Look at this delightful stuff. Sari Ribbon. 90% nylon, 10% metallic. Of which I purchased four:

To make this:

A Lace Scarf from the "Accessories Collection". (Don't suppose I'll look like her when I'm wearing it.) I must give old Louisa a pat on the back for this pattern book. The items are photographed several time: there's the usual arty shot where you can't really see what the thing looks like but then there is usually a close-up (the knitter's picture) and often another picture elsewhere. So it's the best of all possible worlds. Thank you, Louisa.

Progress has been swift. I have knitted up two of the four skeins and here is the half-scarf reclining on a red bush in the garden:

I'm using my Addi Turbo 9mm needles. She suggests 10mm needles, but you know me - the loose woman. No swatch, of course. It's only 34 stitches - that is a swatch, isn't it? It's just about bang on, size-wise and anyway - it's a scarf. It doesn't have to fit!

I also got various other things but all that will have to wait. There will be pictures; there will be candy; there will probably be a finished scarf; there may be a finished Rosy Fingered Dawn (but don't hold your breath for that last one.)