Saturday, April 29, 2006


Partiamo fra poco per Napoli, tourniamo la prossima settimana.

Or: We are leaving for Naples shortly. We will be back next week.

Yes, mother and I are off to Italy. I am armed with the addresses of five yarn shops in Naples - thanks to Bruno at Filatura di Crosa. A black mark to Adriafil, who never bothered to respond to my email. The camera is packed, the yarn budget is eating a hole in my pocket. Back with the full story next week.

Civediamo! See you!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Maybe Baby

I just can't help myself. Jane-in-Spain is about to become a grandmother for the first time and has asked me to supply a shawl, partly for baby and partly for mother. Mother lives in Glasgow and we all know how chilly it can be getting up to feed the child at dead of night. A shawl to wrap round mother and babe is just the ticket.

While I was there in Spain we discussed how this shawl would be. It would be wool. It would be machine-washable. It would be cream. It would be square. It would be big enough to serve the purpose.

I spent ages casting about for a suitable yarn. Eventually I settled on King Cole 100% wool merino blend 4-ply from Texere. It's available in loads of colours, and, though I haven't used the 4-ply, I have used the same wool in the DK weight. (To make plenty of hats, since you ask.) It's also a very reasonable £14.50 (that's about $26US or $35AU - if you are a happy spider) for 500g (1,800m). Going to Texere's website is fraught with danger: they now stock Noro (and Lopi, and all sorts of other goodies as well.) I'm afraid the trigger finger got a bit carried away, late on Wednesday evening.

Saturday came and I had to go beetling off into town, at quite an early stage. #1 daughter was doing country dancing outside Shakespeare's birthplace, to celebrate, well, his birth. Loads of kids, loads of Morris dancers, and bands and people running around clutching little posies of flowers. (One chap, tall, greying, wearing shades, looked like a secret service man - but he still had the little bunch of daffodils.) Upshot of this was that I wasn't at home to nab the postman. Luckily, he is well-trained and leaves parcels in the outhouse (if weather inclement) or on the back step (if weather good). I got home to this:

What's inside? This:

Sorry about the poxy quality of the photo but I am having a deal of difficulty with all this software that's supposed to make it easier and in fact just makes me want to tear out my hair when it goes wrong.

Lots of hat wool and a cone of cream 4-ply for the shawl.

I thought about designing my own shawl. I spent ages looking through Sharon Miller's "Heirloom Knitting" (I know that $55US seems a deal of money, but if you are at all interested in knitting lace then you really cannot do without this book) In the end, I decided that speed was of the essence and I really needed to get on with it. So I settled on the Kerry Blue shawl from Martha Waterman's "Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls".

Starts with 12 stitches on 4dpns! Not on your nelly. Using Emily Ocker's circular start and getting straight on to the 4mm two circulars, this is what we ended up with:

Again, poxy picture but I think you get the idea.

This really is a very simple pattern to knit - just as well, the snooker is still on, remember? (And we had the added complication of the San Marino Gran Prix.)

This is the state of play at the moment:

I hope to have it finished before the child goes to University (as everyone seems to do these days, regardless of ability.)

In other news, there has been no knitting whatsoever on the border of the Garden Shawl (sorry, Mary Ann, you will have it eventually, I promise) and none on the Kimono Jacket either. I can't do it all (although I wish I could.)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Running to stand still

That's how I'm feeling right now. Somehow, almost a week has gone by and I haven't posted on the blog once. The only excuse I can offer in mitigation is that I have been knitting my way out of the now familiar black hole.

I've finally reached the border of the Garden Shawl. There are 189 stitches on each side plus 17 stitches in each flower panel section. A grand total of 824 stitches. The leaf edging chart varies between 14 stitches and 19 stitches and is attached to the body of the shawl with K2tog every second row. Even those of you who are as maths-challenged as I am will be able to work out that there is a heck of a lot of shawl to attach the border to.

This is an idea of how far I have got:

All looking a bit like pink dental floss that a chimpanzee has been playing cat's cradle with.

Here's a close up on the border. I've tried to pin it out a bit to give a better idea of the glory:

There is still a long way to go and as it is quite fine work, I am really only able to work on it during the hours of daylight and not while I'm watching the snooker either!

Snooker-watching knitting is the Kimono Jacket from "Shadow Knitting" by Vivian Hoxbro. This is coming along quite well.

I've just got to the point where I add on almost 100 stitches on each side and "continue in pattern as set". That always strikes terror into my heart. What if I miscount? What if I'm doing a knit when I should be doing a purl? (Or is it just a case of "Knit the Knits and Purl the Purls"?) I counted and re-counted, then I counted it one more time. I took the plunge and all is well. I am, indeed, continuing in "pattern as set". I need to work about 100 rows on 300 stitches. Good job the snooker's on for another two weeks!

Flapping about in cyberspace on the blogs I read, I came across "One Row Wednesday" on Ann's blog over in Colorado there. The basic idea is that on one day in the week you do at least one row on all the WIPs that are clouting round the house.

I tried to be a good girl and did a few rows/rounds on at least four WIPs but the thing I am most proud of is that I repaired the disaster on the Irish Diamond Shawl. I made this shawl (from Cheryl Oberle's "Folk Shawls") ages ago and when I came to block it, I was a little over-enthusiastic and managed to break the yarn at the cast-on edge (which also happens to be the neck edge). I was so appalled, shocked, annoyed and traumatised that I bundled the whole thing into a bag, thrust it deep into the knitting box behind the sofa and tried to forget about it. During my casting about for WIPs to add to the One Row Wednesday pile, I came across the Irish Diamond.

Here's the problem:

Thankfully, I had plenty of yarn spare. I undid a bit more of the cast on edge (so I had enough to weave in the ends), put all the now live stitches on a dpn, took some spare yarn and a crochet hook and did what I believe is called Single Crochet to fasten off the stitches. Here's the result:

I don't think it looks too bad. The whole thing - the repair at the neck; the sewing in of a stray stitch that I discovered; the weaving in of the ends; - took less than ten minutes. I cannot believe that I left it lying in a bag for almost a year!

Here it is in the garden: (in the rain)

'Im indoors said, "It suits you. Well, it suits you better than some of the others."

I think I'd better quickly take that as a compliment before he changes his mind!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Ann, if that's you, stop reading right now!

Today is Ann-at-work's birthday. I know she occasionaly reads this blog, and I don't want to spoil the surprise, hence the admonishment above.

I came upon the perfect thing for Ann-at-work's birthday the other day, while flittering about in cyberspace. A quick rootle in the stash and (literally) a few minutes with big, fat needles resulted in this:

Yes, it's a big, blue banana. (NB: There is no "r" in banana. Ann, are you listening?) Of course, everyone needs a big, blue banana in their lives.

Want to know a secret? It's not a big, blue banana. It's this:

Any wiser? Here it is pre-felting. And here it is after, with the "handles" attached:

It's the "you-can't loose-me-no-matter-how-much-you-try" bag. Handles are some odd bracelets that #1 daughter donated. Pattern is here on Crazy Aunt Purl's blog.

I'm off to work to hand over said bag.

Happy Birthday, Ann. Don't you dare lose that bag!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Mystery Object

I finished the knitting of the mystery object first thing this morning:

Do you know what it is yet? When it was two thirds done Kate-at-work suggested it could be a bikini top for a very large lady. Wrong! Other suggestions? Some sort of weird hat? Wrong! A very odd scarf? Wrong!

The application of a few origami-like folds (only fitting, since the yarn is Japanese) reveals:

What do you think? I wanted to make a feature of the seams and so have sewed (!) them on the wrong side to reveal the chain effect of the selvedge on the right side. I also gave the handle a half twist before sewing it, to give a mobius effect. I'm not quite sure about that but so secure is the seam that I don't think I could get it undone if I wanted to, so it's going to have to stay as it is. The handle could have been longer, too, if I'd had more yarn but I know it's going to stretch quite a bit anyway, so I'm not too fussed.

I used two balls of Noro Kureyon and size 3mm needles. I know, I know, those are pretty skinny (technical term) needles but a) I am the original loose woman and b) it's a bag and I wanted the fabric to be fairly firm. The pattern is in one of the Noro books and is available here (amongst other places, I'm sure.)

I love this pattern. I'm thinking about making other bags, in other yarn and what about a felted version? What about making it bigger? Or smaller? What about using a magnetic fastener? What about embellishing with a flower? (NOT crochet, never that!) Oh, yes, the possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

No, No, Noro.

I am absolutely convinced that Nicky at Shipston Needlecraft is doing it on purpose. She entices me into the shop; she gives me cups of coffee ("Hi, Kate. The kettle's just on." A likely story.); she arranges for the Knitting Police to come and upbraid me in the wool room; and now, to cap it all, she is stocking Noro. Kureyon, Silk Garden, Blossom - there is no end to her wiles.

Naturally, I felt obliged to buy some. It was only two balls of Kureyon and this is what I have made with it:

If you don't know what that is then you'll just have to tune in tomorrow to find out.

Further to the "I'm so clever I can wing the pattern" story of yesterday - I take it all back. I am not that clever. In fact, I am so un-clever that even when I read the pattern for Sharon Miller's "Carolina" repeatedly, I still did not understand quite what she was driving at. I read, and re-read. Nicky read, and re-read. We got out a piece of paper and attempted to make a mock-up of how the thing is made up. We haven't got a clue, not the faintest idea. If anyone has a notion, let me know. Please?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Free at last!

Free, free, free. Done with the Clapotis. No offence, (to designer, "improving" knitters, over-sensitive souls or anyone else for that matter) but this is the most boring pattern I have knitted in a very long while. Serves me right for jumping on the bandwagon - which I just caught by the skin of my teeth, as it disappeared into the sunset.

The fact that it was finished at all is due to #1 daughter, her flute and the County Music Service, who insist on arranging concerts at the drop of a hat. Prime knitting time but you do need to choose your project with care. Clapotis was the perfect thing - simple enough to allow me to drop the needles and applaud enthusiastically every few minutes.

Here she is:

whirling round in the garden. And here again, more sedately:

Yarn is some unknown stuff from the "boutique" (aka Charity Shop) months ago. The pictures only give a vague idea of the slinky nature of the fabric, which is really rather nice. Many Clapotis rely on colour for their effect, this one relies on the fluidity of the fabric. It's also surprisingly warm but yet light at the same time. Many thanks to #1 son (at home with a bad cough/general lowness) for the "action" shots.

Work on the Kimono Jacket is stalled because I have taken up the Garden Shawl once again. It's a combination of a kick up the botticelli from Mary Ann in the US and the fact that the weather is brighter, so I can actually see what I am doing. There isn't all that far to go now, though I can see that the border is going to be a killer. Nothing could be quite so bad as the ruffle on "Flirty Ruffles" - 2,235 stitches or thereabouts.

Mother (she of the tattoo) wants to take me on holiday to Italy. I'm sure part of this is because she knows I speak Italian and will be able to translate and smooth any difficulties. It is not in my nature to complain, however. So, in docile fashion, I have arranged a trip to Sorrento at the end of April. I am attempting to find yarn shops in Naples (only half an hour away across the bay) but have so far drawn a blank. I have emailed Adriafil to see if they have a stockist there and await their reply with interest. If anyone has any good recommendations, please feel free to tip me off.

I thought I might pop down to Shipston Needlecraft this afternoon and peruse the new Rowan Mag (#39). Some reports describe it as boring, some as not quite so exciting as in the past. I like Sharon Miller's design, Carolina, but then I like most of Sharon's work. I don't know about paying £10.50 for the pattern, though. Especially not when I suspect that the application of a few grey cells and a flicking through of Sharon's excellent "Heirloom Knitting" would result in my being capable of winging it (or something very like it.) I should stop now, before my head swells up to such an extent that my hat will no longer fit.