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!