Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Are you sure you haven't got enough yarn?

Just as you can never have too many shoes, you can never have enough yarn. Of course, when it gets to the stage that the offspring are making igloos out of yarn you may want to draw in your horns slightly. I have been good. I've been very, very good but occasionally one just can't help oneself.

Like the other day, browsing the "boutiques" (aka Charity/Thrift Shops), I came across a bag of 100% wool crepe in green - eight 25g balls for 50p. So cheap, so my colour that I just couldn't resist.

Worse (or better, depending on your point of view) was to follow. Inside the shop was a whole shelf of yarn in bags. Most of it not my style but lurking right at the back was a bag of twenty (yes, 20) balls of Sunbeam "Shantung" - 65% silk, 35% wool, also in green:

They are 25g balls but there is no indication of the yardage. I've no idea what I'm going to do with this yarn but there is plenty of it and for £8 it would have been a sin not to bring it home with me. I haven't got round to looking either of these yarns up on Wise Needle or Yarndex, though I suspect they are both so ancient that they won't appear.

As you know, I can't resist lace and so have started the "Primula" design from Marianne Kinzel's "First Book of Modern Lace Knitting". I'm using the green 4ply and 4.5mm needles. I'm hoping I've got enough yarn to complete what will turn out to be yet another shawl. There's no picture of that at the moment - the light is so bad that it's like living in the Underworld.

I've also bought books (but books don't count - everybody buys books, don't they? Don't they??) I got a copy of James Norbury's "Traditional Knitting Patterns" from a charity bazaar in a village near mine. It looks as though this might be a first edition because inside is written the name "E. Clark" and the date "1961", though the printed page says, "First published 1962". Whatever the case, it's a valuable stitch dictionary though not all the patterns are charted and where charts do appear, he uses what can only be called an idiosyncratic system of symbols.

I also bought a book from my LYS the other day (though I didn't buy yarn, so that should count for something). I bought "Yarn Stash Wonders" edited by Judith Durant. I see that according to the publisher's website this book isn't even published yet so, unusually, I am at the cutting edge.

It's a lovely book containing 101 patterns for using up that odd/orphaned ball of yarn. You know the one - the one you just couldn't resist, even though you had absolutely no idea what you were going to do with it? or the one left over from that project where you ordered two extra balls "just in case"? or the one where you bought one skein because you couldn't afford two? This is the book you need. Each project is photographed in colour - not a "fashion" shot, nor an "arty" picture just one where you can actually see the project. Scarves, hats, mittens, shawls, socks - there's plenty for everyone.

I couldn't resist the "Little Ruff":

This is a ruffled collar, fastened, in my case, with a wooden button from the "boutique". The original calls for one skein of Noro Cash Iroha and is pictured in a plain red. Mine uses Colinette Skye in the "dusk" colourway, and a representative sample of women who know (ie Ann-at-work and Kate-in-the-office) have declared mine to be better than the original. So easy to knit, so effective.

I absolutely couldn't resist these bootees (found on Ravelry, of course) and one of my friends has obliged by producing a baby boy at just the right moment. These are winging their way to Baby Ben as we speak.

Free pattern is available here.

They take seconds to make - the thing that takes the longest is sewing on the buttons.

Latest news is that there is a new yarn shop within striking distance of the rural backwater. Crafty Cottage stocks all manner of delights. I was very restrained during my visit today. I purchased only one ball of SWTC "Tofutsies" though I was very, very tempted by the many beautiful yarns (including Malabrigo lace weight merino - the first time I have seen this yarn in person) and I'm sure I'll be back there very soon - especially when the cafe opens and when Jo becomes the first UK stockist of the by now infamous Kauni. If you are anywhere near, I do urge you to visit. Stroking of yarn is encouraged!

You may wonder why I have purchased yet more sock yarn when I profess to dislike knitting socks. I have had an epiphany - I don't dislike knitting socks, I dislike knitting plain socks. I have just started the second Pomatomus sock and am considering other complicated patterns (it's all down to that Ravelry). Anyway, since the Tofutsies yarn contains crushed up crab and shrimp shells, I can always suck my socks if the worst comes to the worst.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Flurry of Activity

After the huge blow that was the loss of the WRS, I have been knitting for reassurance. Wanting to reassure myself that I am not a complete wombat (no offence to any wombats who may be reading), I have embarked upon a myriad of small projects that can be rattled off in no time.

Ravelry has a lot to answer for, of course. I had some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (part of which I used for the Flower Basket Shawl, if you remember) in stash. I wanted to knit something with the four balls of pink yarn remaining. Ravelry came up trumps with pictures of Catmum's Saxon Braid Scarf. This is the pattern that is featured on the cover of Nicky Epstein's book "Knitting on the Edge" I haven't got the book and I'm not looking to spend £13.97 (this is about $28US at present) for one scarf pattern. I have, however, got Barbara Walker's Charted Knitting Designs and lo! there we find on page 86, a chart for the "Saxon Braid". This is 28 stitch pattern repeat. We need some sort of an edging, so I decided to use the double slipped stitch edging that Annie Modesitt uses in her Backyard Leaves Scarf in Scarf Style - this uses 3 stitches. Then I decided I'd like a fringe (as in the original) and found a free pattern by Nicky Epstein which uses a drop stitch technique to form an integral fringe. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that this is the self-same technique used for the original Saxon Braid Scarf. This uses 7 stitches. So I cast on 28+3+7, a total of 38 stitches and bashed on with the scarf. (By the way, the original pattern is full of errors apparently. Go here for some of them - or you could just do what I did and wing it.)

Just before I started the fourth (and final) ball of yarn, I decided that a sort-of matching hat might be a good idea. I settled on Coronet from Knitty (also after seeing it on Ravelry).

I made the cable band in pink and the remainder of the hat in the aubergine colour (left over from the Flower Basket). Hope I don't scare you too much with this picture of me (taken with the self portrait setting of the camera, since I was alone at the time).

Oh, and if anyone has not yet come across the Walker Treasury Project, you want to go and have a look - it is a marvellous resource for any serious knitter.

There's been other knitting; there's been yarn buying; there's been book buying; but all this will have to wait because I need to get back to work.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


The Wedding Ring Shawl - Suddenly, at home, on 1st November 2007, aged 16 months. Dearly missed by her many friends. The Memorial Service has already taken place.

Yes, the WRS is no more. She developed a fatal break in the silk thread, right in the middle, quite a long way down. I have no idea how this came about, as she was kept in a safe place, wrapped in a cotton pillow case. I spent hours trying to revive her but she was beyond help. I tried to frog her but the delicate nature of the yarn really didn't allow for this so the whole thing was consigned to the bin.

So she has gone. From the initial swatches:

to the first few rows:

to the delicate tracery of the centre:

to the intricate two ring motif:


I started again, immediately and actually felt much better about the pattern. I felt as though I had a little bit more of a grip of the yarn and the skinny (tt) needles.

However, ten rows in, the same thing happened. I didn't notice the silk being thin or damaged in any way but suddenly on the next row - there was the break and nothing I could do about it. I've been reeling from this blow ever since. I've put it aside for now. I may make another attempt. I may purchase more silk, or possibly some other yarn entirely. I don't want to be beaten by a shawl but at the moment I need to take a rest from the WRS.

There has been other knitting - mostly little "fill-in" pieces. There's been some yarn buying (some great bargains), some book buying (ditto) and a lot of casting about on Ravelry for another lace pattern that might capture the imagination. No luck so far, though.

My computer has turned to treacle (or maybe it's just Blogger) so pictures are difficult at the moment. The promise of Broadband has been held out and is promised very shortly, so we should see a significant improvement in the next few weeks. Can't wait.

In the meantime, I have nothing but praise for those who have completed the Wedding Ring Shawl:


Miss Alice Faye


and those who have it in progress:

Jane (aka LaceFreak)

and all the others out there.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More Socks

For all my protestations about not really liking knitting socks, I have been most taken by the Rainbow Socks. My first pair, in pink, for me, have hardly been off my feet since they came off the needles. I have embarked on a second pair, for 'im indoors.

This time I decided that it would be perfectly possible to knit the socks toe-up, which I much prefer, since it means you can knit and knit until there is no yarn left (or until you get fed up with it, whichever is the sooner.) I decided on short row toes, it seemed most in keeping with the rest of the sock (and also means there is no grafting to be done. When you are done, you are done.) I looked to the ever reliable Knitty and found the equally reliable Wendy Johnson, who has created a tutorial specially for people like me, who like to read about all the possible ways of doing a thing; about the pitfalls of doing a thing; about how other people have done the thing; about how not to do the thing; before actually doing the thing. Short row toe was accomplished in, well, short order.

Short row heel, ditto:

'Im indoors has the highest instep of anyone I have ever known and in the past short row heels just wouldn't work. He couldn't get them "round the bend". This time, I decided that I am in charge of my knitting and the business of using half the total number of stitches for the heel would not do. I therefore used 42 stitches, out of a total 72 and it worked a treat.

I've had to modify the pattern somewhat. The original calls for 60 stitches (which is what I used for mine) and the short row sections work out perfectly. Someone on Ravelry said the pattern was a 10 stitch repeat, so I thought I'd be OK with 70 stitches for this larger sock. Well, it's not a 10 stitch repeat. It's actually a repeat of 8 stitches plus 4 - so 60 works, 68 would work and 74 would work. However, 74 stitches really would make the sock too baggy (technical term), so 72 it is and a slight fudge on the points of the diamonds.

I don't think you can see the fudge:

I've been trying to knit from my stash this year. I haven't sworn off buying yarn but I have tried to be "careful". In my rummagings behind the sofa the other day, I came upon some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran.

There are four balls of a sort of aubergine colour and four of a pale pink. I've obviously started various things but nothing has worked out. I have no idea why I bought this yarn in the first place - it's far too fat (tt) for me but it's soft and squidgy (tt) and it wants to be something. But what?

Three balls (plus about four yards) of the aubergine has turned into Evelyn Clark's Flower Basket Shawl. I know that the original yarn is a lace weight (Misti International Laceweight Baby Alpaca) but the yarn is used double and the gauge is 16sts and 24 rows to 10cm in stocking stitch. The gauge given on the ball band for the Cashmerino Aran is 18sts and 24 rows, which is about right. I rattled it off in no time - started on Sunday, finished today, Tuesday. She is unblocked at present and looks fearfully small but I think she will grow in the blocking.

Here's a close-up of one of the baskets:

and here's the whole thing, looking slightly sorry for herself but just you wait. The Ugly Duckling will turn into a Swan - I just know it.

I'm still no further forward on which shawl to knit next - I need something to get my teeth into (but not something that is biting off more than I can chew). One of Dorothy Siemens' patterns? Something by Hazel Carter? maybe Alcazar? If I can't find anything I want to knit at Blackberry Ridge, I think it's time to hang up my needles.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Double Done

Two posts in two days? Two FOs in two days? The former might have something to do with the latter.

The Rona Shaw is finished:

Vital Statistics:

Yarn: Blue and pink Atkinson Yarn Illusion Jacinthe (i.e. Unknown)

Source: "Boutique" aka Charity/Thrift Shop

Pattern: Rona Lace Shawl from Knitpicks

Needles: 3.25 circulars

Started: 8th September 2007

Finished: 17th October 2007

Diameter: 60 inches

Weight: 161g

This is a lovely pattern to knit.

The Rainbow Socks are also done:

I never had so much trouble with a pair of socks in my life. I had to use lifelines and I ripped several sections of both socks back. I don't really know what the problem was (apart from crass stupidity on my part). I did extensive research on short row techniques and I still wasn't satisfied with the outcome. Eventually, I settled on this technique. I found that passing the lifted wrap over the turning stitch made for a neater, less holey (tt) finish than any other method, as you can see from the short row heel:

Though I used the yarn she specifies, I think these socks would look better if the stripes were narrower so if (and that's a great big IF) I ever knit these socks again I'd probably use Regia mini ringel or something else with skinny (tt) stripes.

Many thanks to Mary-Lou for her correspondence on short rows, without which I'd probably never have finished the fearful things and certainly would have less hair than at present.

So now I'm in that post- finishing valley where I can't decide what to knit next. Yes, I know - there's the Kauni; the Japanese shawl; the Burda tablecloth; a sock for 'im indoors; the flu virus; Fulmar; the Mermaid; the Wedding Ring Shawl. All WIPs, all right here in my living room. But nothing's really shouting "Knit me, knit me"

What shall I do?


Oh, nearly forgot. Back Field Saturday on a Monday, just for a change:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Time Passing

Time passing? Time has passed. No, Suzanne, I'm not still lying down in the darkened room (though I feel as if I am). I seem to be knitting in the black hole again. I knit every day. I knit for at least two hours every day and most days I knit for longer. You would think, therefore, that the needles would be smoking (good job I'm not fond of bamboo needles) and the FOs would be flying off the needles. It just doesn't seem to be happening that way and I can't, for the life of me, work out why. I have obviously warped the space-time continuum once again.

There has been some progress, I suppose. The Rona Shawl is finished, though she remains unblocked. I have to wait for the weekend when #1 daughter's bedroom, which has the largest floor space, is available for stretching (the shawl) and crawling about (me). Strangely, she appears to me "more than a circle". That's not a problem, all the better really, since it means the shawl will stay on my shoulders better, but I was surprised - I thought I was making a circular shawl. All may change in the blocking stage, of course.

Here's the centre of the shawl:

hanging on the washing line.

Here's a view of the centre flower:

(she's still on the washing line).

Here's a slightly dodgy (technical term) view of the whole thing:

Blocked pictures/vital statistics when the blocking happens.

I also started some socks. Yes, I know - I like the idea of knitting socks (and wearing them) much more than the actual fact of the matter. These socks are different. They are the Rainbow Socks from Magknits and were called to my attention by a certain person, who shall remain nameless but she knows exactly who she is and she has a lot to answer for.

(Not the best picture. I'll try to get a better one later.)

Short rows are used to create the "crazy stripes". I thought I was proficient in short rows after my adventures with Nona's Japanese Short Row Tutorial. What could be simpler? Ha! Think again, clever clogs. I can knit the most complex of lace (see above); I can knit stranded colour work (see the Kauni); I can knit complex cables (see Fulmar); can I knit a simple, short row sock? Not without a great deal of difficulty. I have even resorted to a life-line (a life-line! I ask you! I haven't even got a life-line in the Wedding Ring Shawl!) I don't know what it is about this sock but it's not the easiest thing in the world to do.

I started off using the Japanese short rows (with the safety pins) but soon got fed up with that. I tried it without the safety pins but really wasn't sure if I was picking up the correct loop. I tried the yarn over method. That left holes and loose bits and just looked a mess. I've settled on my own method. I wrap the yarn right around the needle fairly snugly and then knit that snug loop together with the wrapped stitch when I next come to it. The sock still looks a bit "bobbly" (tt) but I'm hoping that the very wearing of it will cause a "mini-blocking" and even out a multitude of sins. We shall see.

I'm also taking part in the Anne (with an "e") of Green Gables Knit and Read along. I first read these books as a child but re-read them at the beginning of this year, when I was so ill. Even though I'm a knitter, I hadn't realised just how much knitting content is in the books. Imagine my surprise when on the very first page of the very first book we find, "Mrs Rachel (...) knitting 'cotton warp' quilts." I haven't a clue what a "cotton warp" quilt is. I've googled and come up with very little apart from someone on the Yesterknits message board, who tells us that "Cotton warp is a kind of cotton thread. It's used for the warp threads in weaving. It is about the same weight as a sport weight woolen (sic) yarn." I don't think I've got the fortitude to knit a whole quilt (and I certainly don't have time to do so), which leaves me with the problem of deciding on an Anne-inspired project.

On another note, I saw an awesome bag the other day. I accosted the bag-holder and discovered that it was made by Elbo. I think these would look good in a knitted fabric. I know that Anne came with "a shabby, old-fashioned carpet bag" but maybe, when the bag was new, it looked a little bit like one of these? (Without the bow, perhaps?) Over to the drawing board, I think.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I cut the sleeve steek

and I've been lying down in a darkened room ever since.

That's not true - I've just been busy, what with one thing and another. There has been some knitting, though.

I finished the neck shaping on the Kauni. We haven't actually tried it on 'im indoors yet but it looks like it will fit:

I considered knitting twice the height of the neckband and folding it over to form a hem but the recipient didn't seem to want this, so I didn't do it. (His wish is my command.)

I did, indeed, cut the sleeve steek and, considering it was eight thirty in the morning, I didn't even have recourse to the wine and chocolate (although a certain amount of deep breathing did go on.) I have only ever made one jumper with steeks before - that was my Fearless Fair Isle. On that occasion, I cut the steek and then folded the raw edges under and slip stitched it down. This time I haven't bothered with that because I don't think it's really necessary. This is probably a case of "famous last words", as the whole thing unravels the first time it's worn. I'm hoping not.

Progress on the first sleeve:

The problem of how to match up the two sleeves, if at all, I have left to a later date.

Here's the inside:

See how the cut part is curling to the inside anyway?

I've also done more knitting on the Rona Shawl. She is as un-photogenic as most lace is while it's on the needles:

I suppose I could thread a long string through all the stitches, take her right off the needles and lay her out for a photo call but I really can't face it at the moment. I tried to do the best I could here:

The Mermaid is "resting". I still haven't grown another arm so am unable to show you the beading process and take photographs at the same time. We will have to wait until #1 daughter photographer can be pressed into service

The Japanese shawl, the Burda tablecloth, the WRS are all on the back burner at the moment. (I really don't know what I've been doing with my time - could it be something to do with two children and a job, perhaps?)

I have, however, been flittering (technical term) about the internet and came upon Nona's marvellous tutorial about "Improvisational Knitting". This appears to be similar to the freeform knitting described by Prudence Mapstone, amongst others, as well as the swirl knitting described by Debbie New in her "Unexpected Knitting".

However, the improvisational knitting is much more to my taste, being a little more structured than either of the above techniques. I like the idea of free form knitting (in the same way that I like the idea of knitting socks) but what I end up with tends to look like a jumbled mess. (Although I did have some success with the yellow flower based on ideas in Debbie New's book.) I have made me a swatch:

Very nice, too. I don't know what I'm going to do with it but it looks good.

Ann-at-work has finally finished the "secret object" and all can now be revealed. Her boyfriend is just about to set off for the Antarctic, so she has knitted him a hat (in Regia sock yarn, colour "Arctic", would you believe.)

Considering she didn't know one end of a knitting needle from the other a few short weeks ago, I am very, very proud of her. She can now cast on, knit, purl, work in ribbing, K2tog and use two circular needles together to make a small circumference. (Of course, she had a good teacher!)

Here are the finishing touches being added:

(Do not concern yourself about the many bottles in the background - we don't live in a bar, we just work there.)

Here is the finished object:

Well done, Ann-at-work!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Bag of Bags

Surely everyone, the world over, has "the Bag of Bags". It's that plastic carrier bag that contains all the other carrier bags that seem to breed as soon as two of them are left alone together. We decided we were going to do something about this and my mother-in-law set about knitting a bag from strips of plastic:

She put the handles all the way around the bag to give it more strength:

It's been test driven by my sister-in-law and pronounced a success. It doesn't cut the circulation off in your fingers, either. (Always a bonus.)

I'm slightly concerned that the whole thing will disintegrated in a couple of years but then I suppose we'll just knit another one. In fact, MIL has already almost completed her second one - she modified the pattern because the addition of the gussets was "fiddly" (her technical term) and unnecessary.

I have finally reached the right height on the Kauni jumper to start the front neck shaping. I am loosely basing the shaping on a sweatshirt belonging to 'im indoors, which he claims is very comfortable and of a suitable shape and size. I measured the width of the neck on the sweatshirt and discovered the shoulders were eight inches and the neck opening was also eight inches. My gauge is eight stitches per inch, so I'm going to have the shoulders be 64 stitches wide and the neck opening 65 stitches wide (which adds up to 193, which is how many stitches I have on the front.) I left the centre 45 stitches on a piece of thread and cast on ten steek stitches over this area.

I'm going to decrease one stitch at both the front neck edges on every round five times and then decrease one stitch each side on every other round another five times. This should take me fifteen rounds. Then I'm going to do a little bit of back neck shaping (but I haven't done the sums for that yet), knit a few rounds straight and graft the shoulders together (or possibly do a three needle bind off, depending on how I'm feeling). It is my aim that the shoulders should fall just at the end of the pattern repeat. I'm hoping that all my sums will come together.

The Mermaid is only very slightly bigger. I'm hoping to get some pictures to show how I'm fixing the beads on. At first I threaded all the beads onto the yarn but got myself into a fearful tangle and, though I know silk is strong, I was a bit concerned about the beads wearing the yarn because of the constant pushing up and down. Another method needed to be found in order to preserve what little sanity I still retain. This involves a beading needle, a length of sewing cotton and a steady hand - pictures later (when I've had time to grow a third hand to hold the camera.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Avast, me 'arties

Ahoy, ye many landlubbers! It be international Talk Like a Pirate Day an' I be spendin' the second dog watch, lazin' in me bunk an' knittin' on Mermaid, as only befits the day. There be a few pictures:

She be a beauty, an' no mistake - 'er's no buxom wench, 'er's skinny 'an saucy.

I be off fer a touch 'o grub an' grog.

May yer decks be swabbed, may yer booty be bountiful!

Fair winds, me hearties.

Eight bells an' all's well - be sure an' not to turn yer eye from knit like a pirate - it be a fair marvel.

It be about time to heave to, put down the killick, strike the red ensign and retire to me bunk.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Knitting and Stitching Show

should really be called "The Stitching and Knitting Show" because there was much more stitching than there was knitting. Nevertheless, that didn't stop me (and Ann-at-work, who was acting as my chauffeuse) from having a most enjoyable day.

I promised myself that I wouldn't go mad because, as you know, I have enough yarn to start my own yarn shop as it is. I saw this safety pin with the loops under it and thought it would be ideal for fastening the Kimono Jacket (to replace that hat pin that was forever piercing my attributes). There were hundreds of little charms to choose from but these three express my feelings perfectly.

I had a vague feeling that I might find some lace-weight yarn to make into something or other - I've joined both the Secret of the Stole KAL and the Secret of Chrysopolis. I told Ann-at-work to keep me well away from sock yarn and variegated yarn. Sock yarn is to be avoided because although I like the idea of knitting socks and I like wearing hand knitted socks, I don't actually enjoy the fact of knitting them. Variegated yarn is more or less the same story - it looks lovely in the ball/skein but you really need to choose the project with care - something simple and classic that will showcase the yarn. I mostly knit lace and I have yet to see a lace item in variegated yarn that makes me swoon with delight. If you know of any, send me a link, I'd really like to use variegated yarn for some lace.

Nothing was really striking me. There really was hardly any skinny (technical term) yarn to be had - plenty of frou-frou stuff; plenty of "ecological" cotton (you know my views on cotton - the devil's work); lots of alpaca - not skinny enough for my purposes; plenty of mohair ("What sort of an animal is a Mo?") - again, not really suitable for lace. I was starting to think that the cash would just have to burn a hole right through my pocket when I saw these beads:

which put me in mind of a mermaid.

Now, I'm not a great fan of beads on knitting - I have used them occasionally but I haven't really been bitten by the beading bug. A stole floated into my mind. Some sort of skinny, blue-ish, green-ish, shiny stuff (all technical terms) with a pattern like fish scales and with some beads to add a bit of shimmer.

I bought the beads and then I recalled the Uppingham Yarns stand, where I had seen cones of skinny (tt) silk:

I bought a blue and a green with a view to using the yarn double to make my mermaid dream come true. More of that in the coming days.

When I say skinny (tt) I mean skinny. Here are the two strands of yarn with a strand of sock yarn for scale.

Hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew.

Skinny yarn calls for skinny needles. I was more than pleased to come across the KnitnCaboodle stand and discover they had HiyaHiya needles.

I think this is the only UK source for these needles, which we have heard all about from our American friends. Everything they say is true - very light, very pointy (tt), uncoated (so no chance of the coating wearing off), very flexible cable, great joins. Best of all? Much cheaper than Addis! Soon to be available in ebony, rosewood and bamboo (but bamboo is nails down a blackboard for me). I'm already test driving these 2mm circs on a swatch (yes, you read right - a SWATCH) for my mermaid dream and there will be pictures of that later.

Just as we sank exhausted in the bar, we were approached by a fellow knitter, who asked "Are you Kate?". She turned out to be Annie of "Up Knit Creek" (still the best name for a knitting blog, ever). I showed off the Kauni to Annie and her mum:

and Annie showed me her purchases (and I'm sure you'll get to read all about it on her blog).

She also made Ann-at-work's day. When I introduced them ("Anne this is Ann. Ann, Anne") she said, "Oh, you're Ann-at-work!" I have not heard the end of it ("I'm famous. Am I as famous as you, do you think? I'm Ann-at-work. I'm famous.")

Speaking of the famous "Ann-at-work", we have finally managed to get the secret item cast-on:

Bet she'll be even more famous now.

Off to dream of mermaids.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I just can't help myself

That Ravelry has got a lot to answer for. The trouble is that temptation is all around - just skimming through there the other day, I came across this delightful shawl from Knitpicks and so I had to have it.

Don't get me started on Knitpicks. I believe I had a rant about them previously. They won't ship outside the US or Canada ("because we can't give our international customers the service our US customers have come to expect"). I don't know how they can expect to have international customers. In order to purchase this downloadable pattern (for a measly $1.29) I had to register and give them what, in my opinion, amounted to a great deal of personal information AND I had to give them an address in the US.

Hello!! It's a download. It really doesn't matter if I'm in Ulan Bator or Timbuktu. I was very miffed and sent them a stiff email demanding that they remove all my personal information from their records. They say they've done it.

The pattern is very lovely, though. However, it is all words, no charts at all. I never thought I'd here myself saying this but I really, really prefer charts. It's so much easier to see how the pattern should be lining up and if there is a mistake in the pattern, it's usually much easier to spot on a chart.

In fact, I did find a mistake on round 50 - nothing major, just the inclusion of two YOs that weren't needed. Easy to spot though - every other round is plain (though there is a little bit of purling from time to time), so when YOs appeared on two consecutive rounds, I knew there was something up.

The yarn is some unknown acrylic stuff on a cone, bought in the "boutique" for a few pence ages ago. I don't have much information about it - the label inside says, "Atkinson yarn. Illusion. Jacinthe 4746. 500g" The word "Burnley" also appears. Considering Burnley is two miles away from where I was born, I thought this was my yarn. It's a two ply - some sort of blue fuzzy stuff (technical term) wrapped with a pink shiny strand. It actually gives a very nice, understated effect. I have previously used this yarn to make a shawl, which I wore to a drinks party last December. One of the guests fell in love with the shawl and her boyfriend took me on one side and begged me to sell him the shawl as a gift for her. So I did. She sent me the most lovely thank you card. I'm hoping to keep this one for myself.

I suppose you want pictures?

Here's the start. I always use Emily Ocker's circular start for pieces like this. It works every time.

Here's one a bit bigger:

Those big holes are caused by working a YO five times on the one round and then working K/P/K/P/K into the YOs on the next round. In retrospect, I think I would do YO four times but still work five stitches into that space on the next round. It would probably neaten the edges of the holes (but then, it's not blocked yet, and that usually covers a multitude of sins.)

Here we are with the centre section completed:

That's probably the best picture you're going to get of this until it's off the needles (unless I thread a string through all the stitches and I just don't see that happening anytime soon.)

Close-up of a lacy bit (technical term):

I'm going to the Knitting and Stitching show at the NEC in Birmingham on Sunday with Ann-at-work, so if anyone is there give me a shout. I'll be the one wearing a hat, a shawl and bright pink crocs (amongst other things).

The back field is still the back field: