Sunday, February 18, 2007

Radical Lace Knitting?

An exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design in New York has come to my attention. How I wish I lived in New York. (Well, of course I don't, but I wouldn't mind having a look at this Radical and Subversive Lace Knitting stuff.) I had a look at the Teachers' Pack, too - partly because I'm a teacher, partly because I find you often get more information if you pretend you are a student. I think the "History of Knitting" section is very good and the ideas for activities to further enhance the museum experience are probably worth doing myself at home. Freddie Robbins, of course, is the one who designed those weird gloves with hands on the ends of the fingers and who had the knitted wedding, I believe. There's a free pattern for another pair of weird gloves here. (The story of Struwwelpeter always gives me the creeps.)

I finished Ene's scarf and blocked her and now she is done, done, done:

Seen there reclining on a bush in the garden, and here lazing around on a chair in the kitchen:

The second picture here gives a more true impression of the colour. She is more of a shawl than a scarf. Pretty all the same.

I think she might end up being a present for my MIL - somehow I seemed to miss her birthday what with the hospital saga. Now she's gone off to Italy for a few weeks, so I'm wondering about sending the scarf/shawl out there, or just waiting until she gets back.

The answer to what the heck I'm knitting with the Gedifra sock yarn is the "Scrawl" that I mentioned before. It really is totally mindless knitting (not radical at all) and perfect for sitting in front of the TV and watching David Suchet inhabit the role of Hercule Poirot, which is what I've been doing for a large part of today.

I like the way that the shaping for this garment is done by changing needle sizes (although the largest size, 6.5mm, is just about my limit for comfort.)

Heather asked where the yarn came from. This is Gedifra Fashion Trend Sportivo and I bought it from Webs, where it was in the sale. I was quite impressed with the service I had. I sometimes think that smaller retailers work harder to please the customer. I have ordered yarn from small outfits in the US and had the goodies in my paws in four days. Webs took a little longer, but not an inordinate amount of time. They also charged only the actual cost of postage plus $2, which I really don't think is bad at all.

Kat asks if the scarf I made (and I think she's talking about the Silk Garden one) was easy to knit. Always a difficult question - what I find easy might be the most difficult thing you have ever done (and vice versa, of course.) I don't think it was hard at all. There are only two rows in the pattern and you just keep repeating and repeating and repeating until you get bored/run out of yarn/find the thing to be long enough (whichever comes first.) I think I cast on 30 stitches and used 3 balls of Noro Silk Garden, because that's what I had at hand. Cast on more stitches and have a wider scarf, use the same amount of yarn and it'll be shorter, use more yarn, it'll be longer. It's your knitting, you decide. I did, however, find this site, with a stitch by stitch explanation of how to execute this pattern. I urge you to have a go.

And MaryAnnLucy has me intrigued - she obviously lives within a stone's throw of myself. How did you get that picture of Shakespeare's birthplace with nobody else in shot? Whenever I pass by there the place is over-run with tourists of all complexions. Maybe you were there at the crack of dawn??

I leave you with a picture of the Saturday field, looking grey and miserable and nothing like as romantic as it was in the snow:

Friday, February 16, 2007

Home Sweet Home

I'm home. Didn't know I'd been away? I didn't know I was going.

I was dashed into hospital (again) last week with a recurrence of the old asthma. We are still not sure what caused this particular flare-up but a combination of factors seems to be to blame. (Infection, cat (see below) and weather.)

I'm home again now, still feeling a little wobbly (and absolutely exhausted - it seems to me that you need to be at the peak of physical fitness to withstand a stay in hospital) but substantially on the mend.

One casualty (apart from me) has been Beelzebub - she really wasn't helping, what with my allergy and all. She has been "re-homed" by the very nice people at the Mid-Warwickshire Branch of the Cats' Protection League and I wish her every happiness. It feels quite strange not to receive my morning mouse.

'Im indoors was, of course, required to bring the necessities of life to me in my hospital bed. I had actually had the presence of mind to snatch up a pair of socks-in-progress as I was carted away but (wo)man cannot live by socks alone. Although I asked him to bring the Romance Shawl he managed to bring me "Fulmar". In a way this was just as well, for if I don't get a move on with it, it really is going to turn into the ten year sweater (beating the five year sweater into a cocked hat). I certainly caused a stir, sitting in bed with my knitting while wearing the "gas mask".

Once home, I felt like knitting something that would be quick and give me a sense of achievement. I've had my eye on "Ene's Scarf", Nancy Bush's pattern in "Scarf Style" for quite a while. When my eye fell on a cone of unknown yarn I knew it was time to start. The only thing I know about this yarn is that it says "386 Orchid Lot 24112" inside. I can't even remember where I bought it (or why!). I didn't bother with a swatch. (Really, Kate?) I set off with 4mm needles and hoped for the best. I think it turned out rather well.

Here she is in her unblocked state:

and here's the border:

She's soaking in hair conditioner at the moment, prior to blocking. Glamour shots later.

What's this going to be?

Yummy colours. Though I was a little concerned when I saw this:

Looks like two totally different dye lots (or even colours!). A check on the ball band revealed that I was mistaken - this is the same shade and the same dye lot.

I am not allowing myself to worry about this at the moment. We shall see.

Here's the beginning:

Answers on a postcard.

Because you missed the back field in the snow (so did I, if it's any consolation), I give you the garden in the snow:

I know it's not the back field and it's not Saturday, so bite me.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Good News

Yesterday I received the monthly newsletter from Sandy Terp at Moonrise and in that newsletter she brought the news that Skacel, makers of the Addi needle, have listened to the deluge of pleas from dedicated lace knitters around the world. They are finally going to make a needle specifically for lace. Pointy tips and a red cord, so I hear. I can't wait to see them, though I expect they will be inordinately expensive - as all Addis are (though they are so worth it, in my eyes.) I've heard great reports of the Knitpicks Options needles, too. Though as previously discussed on this blog they don't ship outside the US. He'e's a quote taken from their website:

"We regret to inform you that we do not offer international shipping for our customers (...). Our primary reason for this is that we are not able to provide our international customers with the same superior service we provide to our North American customers."

So how on earth do they think they can have "international customers" if they won't ship outside their comfort zone? The global marketplace appears to have passed them by (which is a great pity, because they have some great stuff for sale and cheap is not the word, though of course the £/$ exchange rate is a big help).

Many thanks to an anonymous commenter who tipped me the wink about the fine buttons available at Woolly Workshop. I'm thinking about ordering this one:

to go on the Giotto Jacket. There are others that I like, too but this one is the right size. I don't know why I didn't thing of Woolly Workshop - I ordered some Margaret Stove Artisan Merino Lace weight from Gill and was astonished by the speed of delivery, and nicely packaged, too.

While I was trawling cyberspace in pursuit of buttons I came across this thing:

which is rather inelegantly known as a "scrawl". The pattern is free and available here.

I like the versatility of this - you can wear it as a shawl, a scarf, a shrug, a sash and there is even a picture of it on the dog - I think I will draw the line at that. It will be just the ticket for my hols in Italy with mother and her tattoo. (Yes, we had such a good time last year, we have decided to make it an annual event.)

Of course, if I'm to have the thing knitted by May, I would need to start it sometime soon, so as not to have panic knitting at 2am on the night before we leave. The yarn used is GedifraFashion Trend Sportivo - a sock yarn, as it turns out. I managed to find some in a sale at Webs, and although they have stung me rather a lot for postage and packing, it still works out at a reasonable price. I've ordered colour #5712, which is an autumnal colourway. I ordered plenty so that there is no danger of running out and if there is any left over I can always make a pair of socks with it.

I also came across (for about the third time) this pattern for a scarf. I'd already got it bookmarked for future reference and when it came up again for the second time in two days, I took that as a hint. I happened to have some Noro Silk Garden which I had bought for a hat and scarf from the Shadow Knitting book but it didn't look right. I had a play last night and eventually decided on 6mm needles.

Progress so far:

Close-up of the stitch:

It almost looks woven. I'm thinking it would be nice for a cushion cover as it results in quite a dense fabric, without you having to use a needle that is "too small" for the yarn (in fact Noro recommend needles 4.5 - 5.1mm for Silk Garden). 5.1mm?? obviously the Japanese have very particular needle sizes.

At Angel Yarns in the UK this yarn is available for £5.95; at the Knitting Garden it's $10.95 per ball (that's £5.56, not much of a saving) BUT at WoolNeedlework it's only $8.09. That is the equivalent of £4.11. Yes, we have to take into account postage and packing but they could charge you a whacking £1.84 ($3.61) per ball and you would still make a saving. The moral of this story is: shop around. I know there is something a tad odd about someone in the UK ordering a yarn that's made in Japan from the US but until I learn to speak (and read!) Japanese, so I can order direct, that's the way it's going to be.