Monday, February 13, 2006

Man Down

I'm not really taking part in the Knitting Olympics - apart from trying to learn to graft successfully, and we will draw a veil over that. However, I'm knitting the Spanish Christening Shawl with a bit of deadline. A deadline made worse by the fact that I recieved intelligence from Jane-in-Spain that she is soon to be a grandmother and would I please produce an heirloom?

So much pressure and the real Olympics to watch, too. So I spent the whole day watching the men's downhill; the snowboarding (weren't you all just "stoked" when that red tomato, or whatever, "stomped" the "front-side seven twenty"?); the speed skating (you're nineteen and you win an Olympic Gold? - go and lie down, it won't ever get any better).

A quick shot of my progress so far:

However, after that I went to cook Seafood Chowder and in my exuberance, I cut my finger. Index finger on the left hand; thanks for asking.

I didn't think the left index finger came into play all that much, but it does. It's the finger that I use to push the just knitted stitch off the left needle. (Who knew?) Even though the physio (#1 daughter) ran on with the magic sponge and the elastoplast, I feel my performance may be impaired.

There's a man down here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


The pink baby Tam Jacket is very nearly finished:

All that remains is...

let me give you a clue:

I think you know what that means. It means grafting and plenty of it. I need to graft up the arms and along the top of the shoulders, leaving a gap for the neck; I need to graft the two halves together down the centre of the back; I need to go and lie down in a darkened room. Is one bottle of cherry beer enough? One bar of chocolate? Time will tell.

I am not able to face the grafting at present - yes, I know, I am a coward and this is not in the Olympic spirit but there are still a few days to go and I need to get myself "in the zone". This is my Olympic challenge - I am going to learn to graft so well that I do not need to look at the instructions every single time. I cannot promise that I won't be chanting all the while but I will strive with every fibre of my being to do this and do it as well as a can.

Thwock. (Sound of gauntlet being thrown down.)

Anyway, not being up to the grafting right now and mindful of the birth of Clare the Chef''s niece/nephew, expected at the end of March, I embarked on the Spanish Lace Christening Shawl. (Even though I really, really want to cast on for the Kimono Jacket, but babies wait for no man, or knitter, for that matter.) The yarn, which came in such a speedy fashion, all the way from New Hampshire, is like butter in the hand. I wound one skein (of three) and at 8oz it makes a huge ball of yarn. Pattern says 5mm needles, 14sts/20rows=10cm "knitted very loosely". As you may know, I am the original loose woman and I just wondered if I might get the gauge with the stated needles. Sort of. I didn't like the look of the fabric, though - too floppy (technical term). So I started with 4mm needles:

I decided to use a provisional cast on. Cheryl Oberle doesn't specify this but at the end you have to pick up exactly the number of stitches you cast on, so why not? Part of the problem, though, is that the very first row is patterned and involves yos and decreases. I didn't think that would be so easy to deal with in the picking up stakes, so I took an executive decision - I knitted the first row (which will leave a row of purl bumps on the right side) and then began the lace pattern on row 2 (which is the public side). I hope this is not going to lead to a whole load of angst at the end...Time will tell.

Here's a close-up of the pattern, as it emerges:

That's one pattern repeat - only another 27 to go. Is there a Marathon event in the Winter Olympics?

Monday, February 06, 2006

More yarn

Another week has gone by. We still don't have the first FO of 2006; we still don't have a gallery of last year's FOs; we do, however, have more yarn.


'Fraid so:

This is three skeins of Henry's Attic "Monty" which is going to be transformed into the Spanish Christening Shawl from Cheryl Oberle's "Folk Shawls". (There is a picture of the shawl on that page, if you want to see it.) This is the yarn specified in the pattern and I am so pleased I got it.

It seems the yarn is only available in the US and it just seems ridiculous to have wool sent half-way round the world (it probably came from Australia in the first place, which means it's circumnavigated the globe), so I thought about a substitution. Preferably something that is easily available in the rural backwater. A little bit of research on Yarndex and Wiseneedle and I decided on Jaeger Baby Merino (50g=200yds, which compares well with the Henry's Attic, 8oz=840yds) Note how we are mixing the metric and imperial measures here - I never was great at maths and this just adds to the general confusion. I wasn't confused about the price, though. It was going to cost me over £40 to get the stuff I needed. I decided to check out using the yarn suggested. Various places on-line stock it (some of which don't ship to the rural backwater!) and tracked it down in an ebay store for only $11.50 per skein. This is quite a saving and even when we factor in the cost of shipping, I have still saved over £10. Many thanks to Marty at Catnip Yarns, for quick and efficient service - a very quick response to my query as to shipping cost, an email to tell me the yarn had been shipped (on the same day I ordered it). Special mention must also be made of the USPS and the good old Royal Mail. The yarn was shipped on 2nd Feb (last Thursday) in New Hampshire and arrived, safe and sound, in the rural backwater this morning. (Monday) I don't see how it could have come quicker.

The yarn feels beautiful - soft as butter. I haven't had the chance to wind it into balls yet but I know it's going to be a lovely job.

Clapotis is still boring - I have finally reached the decreasing section, it's all downhill from here. The pink baby jacket is almost finished - I have bought in 85% chocolate in view of the large amount of grafting there is to be done.

Today is #1 son's birthday - I have spent the day making birthday cake (chocolate coffee delight); meringues (with the egg whites left from aforementioned cake); asparagus rolls; hummous; pizza dough and all whatnot. I have managed 5 rounds of knitting on the pink jacket cuff. It's a wonder I have time to do any knitting at all!

Happy Birthday, Babe.