Friday, August 25, 2006

For What It's Worth

For what it's worth, I posted the previous post and received error message after error message. In the end, I emailed the "Blogger Team" and had a reply from someone called "Danish" (surname "Pastry" presumeably) telling me to revert my blog back to its previous template. This I have now done and so we are no further forward.

Want to see pictures? You'll be lucky!

Let's try with a green sock for starters:


That's taking about three and a half years, but eventually, there it is.

This is the start of another pair of socks (I am quite determined when I get going - I AM going to knit socks and I AM going to do it well. Whether I enjoy it or not is an entirely different matter.)

The yarn is Regia Crazy Color (sic), 6 fadig (with a double dot over the "a" - that would be "ply", yes?), knitted on 3mm needles (and yes, the loose woman really should have gone down a needle size or three) to the Widdershins pattern in Knitty (which Laritza put me on to - thanks, babe.) I loved the fail-safe cast-on. I wouldn't want to use it for the start of a circular lace piece but it works great for these socks. The pattern worked very well and the toe was done in no time. It's a little bit "lumpy" (technical term) but I put that down to my cack-handedness. I also liked the fact that quite a few stitches were increased for the gusset ('im indoors, it transpires has a "high instep", which I always think makes him sound like a Shetland Pony - not so.)


There's a picture of the green sock after the heel was turned and the clever-little-bit-of-extra-padding-at-the- back-of-the-heel-to-stop-the-sock-going-into-a-hole-in-no-time was added.

Please note that the sock is lying on the second Kerry Blue Shawl and the whole lot is reclining on the AB Fab Throw, which Melissa (in the comments) took such exception to.

Melissa, your comment made me laugh out loud. It's exactly what I mean about "You Knit What?". I love the AB Fab Throw (even though it cost a fortune and in knitting hours lasted me about five, so not a big bang for the buck, really) and that's the whole point. It's my knitting; I like what I like; I'm not really that bothered if you like it; if you don't like it; if you curl your lip; what the heck you do, to be honest.

And as for "My mother said, If you haven't got anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"? I can't think how many millions of people in the world would be struck dumb. (Dorothy Parker, for one. Reviewing one show she said, "If you don't knit, bring a good book.") My mother (she of the tattoo) always told me, "Say what you mean; mean what you say." Good advice. Thanks, mum. I have tried to follow her teaching. If you don't like it, you don't have to listen, but if you do like it, we'll get along just fine.

There are more pictures - of the cat, not-quite-in-the-hat; of the second Kerry Blue, almost finished; of books I bought in the "boutique" (aka Charity Shop, or, for those across the pond "Thrift Shop"), but I think Blogger, and its alter-ego BetaBlogger, has had enough for one night.

I know I have.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Slack Set Up

Many apologies for being what my Grandma would have called "slack set up". This is something to do with cotton weaving on a power loom. I believe it is when the warp threads are too loose, causing inferior cloth (although extensive research has not revealed the origin of the phrase, so it could just be an idiocyncrasy of my Grannie.)

Though I have been slack set up in the blogging department, I have been as taut as any old thing in the knitting department. I have finished the blue socks from Hades (no picture - I have thrown them far from my body) and started another sock. Glutton for punishment, obviously. I have added to the WRS. I have almost finished the second Kerry Blue shawl. I have scored in the book buying department. There, that's all the news, you need read no further.

The real reason I am doing a quick "in and out" post is that I have signed up to the "new, improved" beta blogger and I can't say I'm having great success at rearranging the layout. I don't know why I thought the "new" blogger would be any better than the temperamental "old" blogger, but hope springs eternal, I suppose. I keep getting error messages and it is almost to the hair tearing stage.

I am not even going to try to post a picture at the moment - though there are pictures to be posted - as I think that might tip me right over the edge and I'd end up having to wear a hat in the house (as well as out) so as not to frighten the horses with my piebald skull. (Yes, I know "piebald" doesn't mean "partly bald" but it should do.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Now is the Hour

Many thanks to all the breath-holders around the world. You were in good company - breath was being held here too. I've managed to put another few rows on the WRS and I have done a few rounds on the fourth second sock. Having my eyes glued to the snooker on TV has meant quite a bit of action on the Kerry Blue, so that is coming along too.

Your task, if you choose to accept it, is to skittle along to Lucia's blog and vote for me in the blog contest. It turns out that this blog is in the "minor categories" , and there is only one other blog nominated. I don't want to play dirty but I think I would have to throw in the lace towel if I were beaten by a blog where this was the best we could hope for. Does that look like a candidate for You Knit What? or what? But then all the commenters said it was "cute" - maybe I'm the one out of step?

It's in your hands.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

It was only a matter of time

Today's post was supposed to be a discussion (for "discussion" read "Kate on her soap-box") of what makes a good knitting blog, but events have overtaken me.

Last evening, I returned from The Bridge in Bidford, after a wonderful dinner (heartily recommend this place, if ever you are passing) to discover the gizmo I use to stop the stitches of the WRS flinging themselves off the needle on the floor. The knitting was where I had left it, but the gizmo wasn't. This did not bode well. I snatched up the knitting (without even taking off my hat) and discovered about 20 stitches had made a bid for freedom.

There is no picture. I was in shock. I had left 'im indoors, his two offspring and their cousin, with a pan of fish soup, a foccacia in the oven, the plates warming, the table set. I returned to mayhem (at least on the knitting front, the soup was eaten, the washing up done). What on earth had they been up to? "Nothing," according to 'im indoors. I don't suppose we shall ever know the truth. Suffice to say there are bad books and people are in them.

I did the best job I could of snatching up the rogue stitches on a skinny dpn and went to bed in disgust.

In the cold light of day - it was just as bad. The knitting elves had not been active in the night-time. I had managed to retrieve most of the stitches. About fifteen had not run anywhere and just needed to be correctly oriented on the needle. However, there was a horrid bit (in the most complex part, naturally) where five stitches had run down a few rows.

The first thing I did was get some polystyrene (still not thrown away after the latest electrical purchase); cover it with a pink cloth (black would have been better but I don't have black napkins); place the knitting on top and pin it out so I could see the worst:

Ready to start

Base of triangle here is a dpn with four stitches that have fallen two rows down. Left needle contains the stitches I have managed to pluck up. Right needle contains the stitches that were unaffected. The red pin is holding the first loop of yarn that needs to be used out of the way. The second loop of yarn is going across the top of the picture, between the two stitches on the original needles.

Next thing? Refer to the chart and isolate the part that needs to be recreated:


The right arrow is indicating the first stitch on the right needle. The left arrow is indicating the first stitch on the left needle. Here we can see that there should be five stitches on the dpn and not four. That was a missing yo which was easily replaced. Following the chart, I recreated the first row - that's the one above the heavy line on the chart. It looks like this:

One row done

Here you can see the five stitches on the dpn. The final loop is held out of the way with the purple pin.

Follow the chart again. Recreate the final row. This was a bit dodgy because it contained the dreaded "yo, sl1, K2tog, psso, yo" (that the little triangle on the chart). It's lucky I'm the loose woman because that meant I had plenty of yarn to play with. ("Play" is hardly the word, but you get my drift.)

This is what it looks like at the end of the repair:


and this is what the "correct" motif looks like:


Can you tell the difference? I don't think I can and I'm absolutely sure the fellow on the running horse won't have a clue.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Same old story

Hours in front of the television watching the European Athletics Championships have meant great progress on the Kerry Blue Shawl. Where the "same old story" comes in is that it still looks like a jumbled mess:

Kerry Blue in progress

This is at round 104, where I have just started the Shell Pattern. Someone, and I'm afraid I can't remember who, said they thought the Shell Pattern didn't really "go" with the other patterns used in the Kerry Blue. It is true that the other two patterns (Feather and Van Dyke and Rib) are more linear while Shell is more curvy (technical term), but I quite like the contrast. I think that the Shell Pattern softens the shawl, makes it less geometric.

Here's a picture of the corner, slightly spread out, so you can sort of see what it looks like:

Kerry Blue corner

In the meantime (which is only in between time) I have made more progress on the second sock. I realised that 'im indoors hadn't actually tried on the first sock, in its completed state. When he did, we realised that he couldn't actually get it on his foot. This is when I ripped the needles out of the second sock (which, if you've been following, is really the fourth sock) and threw it across the room. However, on reflection, it became apparent that the problem was a too tight cast off (scourge of all toe-up sock knitters). I suspect this happened because I used a "new", at least to me, method - Purl the first two stitches together, then loosen that stitch up and place it back onto the left needle. Do the same thing again...purl the loosened stitch, now the first stitch on the left needle, together with the second stitch. Loosen it up and slip it back over to the left needle. Continue purling 2 together and slipping the loosened stitch back to the left all the way across. Pull the end through the last stitch left. Supposed to give a "nice stretchy bind off" (NOT).

Kate-"I'd-rather-read-about-it-than-do-it" went into overdrive. Google was my friend. I discovered:

Peggy's stretchy bind off (which involves making extra stitches on the penultimate row)

Denise's bind off (which involves tapestry needles - I don't think so)

This blog post, collecting various stretchy bind offs

Lucia's blog post, with very good pictures (involves making extra stitches as per Peggy's method above)

but in the end I did what I usually do. I call it the suspended cast off (see, I am a Brit really - all this talk of "bind off" makes me uncomfortable). Knit the first stitch, knit the second stitch but do not drop the loop off the left needle, pass the first stitch over the second stitch and drop both that stitch and the "spare" loop off the needle at the same time. Continue in this way.

I don't feel I have explained this very well, but it works for me. It helps if you stretch the top of the sock as you go.

Here's the result:

Not a terribly good picture but we got a result - it fits on his foot!

Speaking of Lucia, she's running a blog contest. There are various categories - best knitting blog overall, best photography, funniest, best with cat etc. Many nominations are already well-known: Stephanie The Yarn Harlot; Franklin's The Panopticon; See Eunny Knit but there are others I have never heard of. I've been doing a bit of snooping and can't say I'm all that impressed. One blog, which shall remain nameless, had lovely pictures - of a beach (repeatedly), of a pile of books and of an ice-cream - no knitting content in the first three posts. This, to me, is not a knitting blog. Discussion of exactly what it is which constitutes a knitting blog is probably best left until another day, since 'im indoors is champing at the bit to be at the keyboard.

On the other hand, how complicated can it be to blog about knitting?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Needles and Pins

Work continues on the WRS - she is bigger and today she went to work, wrapped in a pillow-case, to be shown off. I'm a month into the project and have completed 6 plain rows garter stitch, 2x66row repeats, plus 14 rows. There are 5 repeats plus 42 rows and 6 rows garter stitch. I have no real idea as to when I will be finished the centre, though it's obviously quite far down the line. However, when I do finish, I will need to work in the round on quite a lot of stitches. No, I don't know how many and I don't think I want to know at this stage. Yes, I am in denial.

So I've started to think about which needles to use when I get to that stage. I don't have any circular needles in 2mm size, so we are talking new needle purchase here. The only circular needles my LYS stocks are Inox and I can't say I'm all that thrilled with the joins, though I like the points. Since we are using skinny silk the joins really must be as smooth as possible. The Rolls Royce of knitting needles is the Addi Turbo. Now, they do have smooth joins but they are not very pointy (technical term). What to do? I have heard good reports of Knitpicks new needles - Addis with sharp points, they say. All very well. But Knitpicks don't ship outside the US. (They say it's because they can't guarantee to equal the service they can provide to the domestic market. What? They can't guarantee the service, so they prefer to provide no service at all? Hello?? Global market-place. Don't get me started.)

If anyone out there has any suggestions as to pointy circular needles with smooth joins, and preferably not grey, so I stand half a chance of actually seeing the skinny yarn, please feel free to leave a comment, or email me directly - the address is over there in the sidebar - I trust you to replace the bits that need replacing with the bits that should be there.

Light relief from the WRS is called for - I don't call that %$##* sock light relief - it's driving me barmy. Many thanks for all your comments about how it's not my fault, I am not alone and the links to the Widdershins sock in Knitty (which I might well try when I get on to the next pair). Someone has asked me to knit a shawl for their soon-to-be-grandson. I thought the Kerry Blue (from Martha Waterman's "Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls") would do it - it's quick (ish), it's mindless (ish), it looks fine. I made one recently using King Cole 4-ply machine washable 100% wool that I got from Texere Yarns. This yarn is available in about 40 colours and while I enjoyed knitting with it the last time, it wasn't exactly like butter in the hand. Don't get me wrong - it's not rough, or scratchy by any stretch of the imagination but pre-blocking it looked like a pile of ACK-rylic poo. However, let me tell you - the blocking made all the difference. I know blocking lace is like waking the Sleeping Beauty, but this was something else. The thing was transformed - it became light, airy, had a beautiful drape, just amazing! There could well be other shawls, in other colours, in this yarn in future. But for now I'm sticking to cream.

Here's the start:

 Kerry Blue start

Yes, it's Emily Ocker's circular start. I can't be bothered to give the link to the instructions and pictures again - Google really is your friend.

Here's the progress so far:

Kerry Blue on  tree

This is about forty rounds in and looking, well, very similar to the last one. It's good TV knitting though - every second round is plain knit, sometimes there is another plain knit round between the pattern rounds, later there will be the odd purl round (and I really don't mind purling), so it will be accompanying me throughout the European Athletics Championships.

It has come to my notice that Lucia over at The Diet Diary is having a competition. It's all to do with knitting blogs and there are various categories - funniest, best lace blog, best blog with a cat and so on. Am I touting for you to go on over to the nominations form and nominate me? No, of course not, never entered my head, couldn't have been further from my mind, not at all (you could create a new category - knitter with the most swollen head - and nominate me there).

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Socks, socks, socks

Actually, it's more like sock, sock, sock. Ages ago I made a blue stripey sock for 'im indoors. Even though I used the same pattern that I have used before, the sock didn't fit him very well. It lay around in my knitting basket feeling sorry for itself for quite a while. Eventually, I decided to bite the bullet and rip the sock out.

So, I started again. This time I used Wendy's generic toe-up sock pattern. I like the toe of this sock - you don't have to try and wrestle with a few stitches on four dpns. However, if you look at the pattern carefully, you will see that she uses a short row heel (which is just like the toe) without a gusset. Easy to do, nicely explained and once it was done I got him to try it on and that's when we realised he couldn't actually get it on his foot. 'Im indoors is a man who needs a gusset.

I ripped the heel out, I ripped part of the foot out. I ripped a bit of my own hair out too, for good measure. I made a gusset, using the original pattern. I then used this heel, which I have never done before. It's very like the one on Wendy's sock. Finally, we have a sock that fits.

sock on tree

So this is the third sock (but, paradoxically, it's only the first sock).

Here's a close-up of the gusset and heel:

sock gusset

The Hungarian Grand Prix (Go Jensen!) has meant that progress on the fourth second sock has been good:

second sock toe

I believe some people make two socks at the same time on two circular needles - good job I wasn't doing that. Imagine how many socks I'd be up to by now.

What's that? Oh, you tuned in here to see progress on the Wedding Ring Shawl? Here you go:

WRS two repeats

That is two pattern repeats plus five rows of the third repeat. She is coming on.

Added later: I have just had a massive, three-hour-long fight with Blogger, trying to get the pictures to appear. I think I have cracked it but if not, please let me know.