Sunday, July 29, 2007

It's only been a week

It's been a week since "The Great Flood" and you really wouldn't know that anything bad had happened where we are. Here's the back field, looking quite normal:

Those horses would have been swimming last week. (The whole thing put me in mind of "Three Ha'Pence a Foot" - you must imagine this recited in a broad Lancashire accent - where the vowels are all very round.)

We were very lucky and the house was unaffected. There are thousands of people in the area who are still clearing up; who still have no clean, running water in their homes; who are still tearing up sodden carpets and throwing out furniture.

I am still knitting on the cardigan from hell. (I will take pictures of this thing once the trauma has abated. I'm pleased with the way I joined the shoulder seams - that's about all I'm pleased with, though.) I have finished the hellish part, however, and am now whirling down the sleeves with gay abandon. I don't know who designed this pattern (well I do, because it was written right there on the sheet of paper that is all the "pattern"consists of, but I don't want to embarrass the woman, so will refrain from mentioning her name.) The point is, we are making a sleeve, from the top down, in the round and we are instructed to "decrease one stitch every fourth round until 57 stitches remain". I don't know about you, but I don't do sleeves that way. I do a double decrease (either a slip 2 together, knit 1, pass the two slipped stitches over; or two paired single decreases on each side of a central "seam" stitch on the underside of the sleeve) and let that be an end of it - and a much neater end, in my opinion.

I've got so fed up with this pattern that I am just doing my own thing. While I understand that I have a certain responsibility to the woman who is paying me to knit this, I also know that she will be very happy with whatever I do, so long as the finished item a) fits and b) bears a passing resemblance to what she originally saw in the shop all those years ago.

So, because I am so fed up and because, if you know anything about me at all, you will know that getting to the end of a long-ish (technical term) project provokes a certain amount of panic, I have slipped in a quick finish project:

This is a pattern that was posted on the shawl knitters list (and just as quickly un-posted). It was a very quick knit and the perfect present for my mother-in-law, who is getting on in years and feels the cold, but doesn't like to have her arms constrained. I used some Sirdar Denim Sport Aran that was in the stash and needles that were a bit too big for my comfort (but I really don't like anything much above 3mm, so I don't suppose we can take that as a guide.) It's garter stitch based, with a little bit of "lace" (i.e. a few holes) at the bottom and a very ingenious method of fastening the wrap:

Here's the back view:

Garter stitch is just about the easiest thing you can do in knitting but it certainly shows up any irregularity in your tension. I'm hoping that the passage of time will work its magic (as it so often does, both in knitting and in life) and smooth out the stitches. I didn't do any blocking - it was finished so soon, it didn't really seem like a "project" at all.

Just minding my own business and watching "Le Tour", there was a fearful row. I rushed outside and saw this:

Something was "up", obviously. A little later, I managed to spot them:

The Red Arrows had come to visit the Global Gathering, taking place a few miles from here. Which just goes to show there must be plenty of money in all that "Boom-chukka-boom-chukka-boom", because I don't imagine the Red Arrows come cheap.

Many thanks to those of you who have left comments and signed the guest map. If I haven't responded to you personally then consider yourself thanked, right now.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Lifeboat required

We are just about holding our heads above water.

Here is the back field lake:

Yesterday was interesting, to say the very least. 'Im indoors abandoned ship at 11.30. The offspring's school closed at noon. Everyone took a very long time to get home but, thankfully, all were in the right place by tea time.

Not much knitting, but Michael-at-work has just become a grandfather for the first time so I made this little hat as a gift:

Pattern available here. It's not clear if it's supposed to be knitted in the round but if you know anything about me at all you will know that I do not do sewing. If it can be knitted in one piece, it will be knitted in one piece. The picture with the pattern is so small that I couldn't decide if the hat was garter stitch based or what. I tried garter stitch first. It looked dreadful. That caused the appearance of :

The Frog.

I tried again with a stocking stitch base - much easier anyway because knitting in the round means it's just all knit.

The last two rounds are K2tog. In fact, I did three rounds of same:

I think it will fit her at some stage, if not right now.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Light Relief

I just got so fed up with the Anne Cardigan that I decided to put it aside for a day and knit something that I wanted to knit. I didn't want it to be a giant project, I just wanted something small, quick and lacy.

I settled on one of the Valentine Doilys from Marianne Kinzel's "First Book of Modern Lace Knitting", which seemed to tick all the boxes.

I had it done in no time. Here she is in her unblocked state, looking very sorry for herself as all lace does when it's straight off the needles:

I followed Ms Kinzel's advice for the blocking. Drawing circles on plain paper and blocking to size on that. A bit silly really because of course I wasn't using the right yarn (though it is some sort of skinny cotton), nor the correct needles (I used 2mm dpns because that's what I had).

This picture of the doily in the act of being blocked doesn't really do it justice:

The complete article:

She says you don't really need to starch the item but you can if you want to. Well, I might have starched the item had there been any starch in the house. Instead, I used some spray "Fabric Stiffener" designed to be used on roller blinds. Good job I decided to do this outside because the smell of nail varnish was so strong that I felt quite light-headed.

A couple of close-ups - one of the start:

I love Emily Ocker's circular start - it is just so neat and it works every single time. Explanation of the EO start is here or if you are a visual learner pictures of how to do the EO start are here.

Go on - give it a try. It's the best circular start there is (unless you know of a better one?)

The other is a close-up of one of the hearts:

I don't really like the slight irregularity in the stitches near the base of the heart. Her method of M2 is to knit, purl, knit into the same stitch. I think I might have been better off knitting into the front, then the back, then the front of the same stitch. Maybe I'll try that next time.

Allison left a comment on yesterday's post with the picture of the front field saying what a nice part of the world I live in. It's funny that in all my reading of knitting blogs I am always seeing pictures of where other knitters live and wondering at the beauty of the ocean, or the desert, or the mountains. Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out the beauty of my own little corner of the world.

Thanks Allison.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Will it never end?

That seems to be the question which is forever on my lips at the moment. The one thing that I wish would end is the rain. I honestly cannot remember the last day on which we had no rain at all. At the moment, while it is not actually raining, it is dark enough to make me think the Apocalypse cannot be far off and requires the light to be turned on (it's just past mid-day.)

The other thing I wish would end is the "Anne" cardigan. If you have been following, you will know that the yarn is beautiful and the pattern is fearful. Vertical intarsia stripes, if you please, with the whole thing being knitted in one piece, thus requiring twelve balls of yarn to be hanging off the bottom. It seemed to take me an unusually long time to reach the eighteen inches required before dividing for the armholes. I measured it - seventeen and a bit inches. I did two rows and measured again - seventeen and a bit inches. I did two more rows and measured again - seventeen and a bigger bit inches. I swear I knitted ten rows and it never got any bigger. Black hole knitting, obviously.

I finally decided enough was enough and divided for the armholes. I'm not quite sure how long it is. Round about seventeen and a bit inches probably. Next step? "Continue in the same sequence on the first 57 stitches for 7 inches." Simple. Only three balls of wool at this stage (so only about a quarter as annoying). Seven inches? I knitted a bit, eyeballed it and measured.

I suppose you all know what's coming ?

Eight inches. Not six and a bit for ten rows. No. Eight. Straight off. Just like that. Black hole knitting, with a vengeance.

Here's the fearsome thing:

all scrumpled up. (Note cycling magazine in the background - it is "Le Tour", after all).

Another picture where you can sort of see how I've finished the right front and am working the back on the next six stripes:

Six balls of yarn now, so twice as annoying as what I've just done but only half as annoying as the first part.
The colours are slightly lighter in real life. Another function of the constant rain is that there is very little light, so it's almost impossible to get a decent picture.

I'm so fed up with it that I've rattled off a small doily from Marianne Kinzel's "First Book of Modern Lace Knitting". No picture for reason given above.

I have even taken out the Wedding Ring Shawl and done a row or two - which just goes to show how truly ticked off I am by the Anne Cardigan, if the WRS is "light relief".

Finally, Saturday Field. In a new departure, this is the front field:

Not raining there (it did later in the day, though.)

Life in the rural backwater is not all bad.