Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ester is Finished

I finished Ester. Here she is in the garden:

I think it's turned out rather well. It's just the job for this time of the year when it's neither hot nor cold but you just need something on your shoulders. It did use up quite a lot of yarn - no bad thing with that green stuff.

Here she is from the side:

Although the blurb says you can wear this either way up, it feels more comfortable for me to wear it this way, so I have added a button to join the front. I didn't bother with a button hole but just sewed the thing together and attached the button over the top. It does mean I can't wear the shrug open and I do need to put it on over my head but this is not really a problem.

This was a quick, easy knit - gave me plenty of practice in making cables without recourse to a cable needle and used up oodles (tt) of the bright green tape, so all in all, a good thing. I'm thinking it might be nice in a slightly fuzzy (tt) yarn. Not so fuzzy that the cables are obliterated but just fuzzy enough to give a slight halo (this is a real technical term) - something like Rowan Kid Classic (if it hasn't been discontinued, something that Rowan is constantly doing. Don't get me started.) I'd probably have to use the yarn doubled to get the gauge, although the pattern is so straightforward, it wouldn't be difficult to adjust for any yarn.

For those who are interested the Sock Blanket is at 287 squares and looking good - I work on it while watching TV that I can't take my eyes off - a great deal of work is going on during the snooker.

The weather at the weekend was lovely, which makes quite a change. I spent some time visiting the Domestic Fowl Trust at Honeybourne (because I'm thinking of getting some chickens) and driving there made me realise how lovely England is.

Even the back field looks nice bathed in sunshine:

I'd better get on with a few more nupps.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


The latest pattern in the Estonian Potpourri has almost driven me to throw the whole thing against the wall. The words don't match the chart. She says the nupps should be made on the private ("wrong") side of the fabric but yet the chart shows them on the public ("right") side. Even though I read the words, I took it upon myself to ignore them and made the nupps on the public side. The nupps weren't great, so I ripped it out and started again. Incredibly, I still ignored the "nupps on the private side" advice and, throwing caution to the winds, I made the nupps on the public side once again. While the nupps looked OK, they looked even better on the private side. That's when I read the instructions for the umpteenth time and came to my senses. Eventually, I produces this:

which I don't think looks too bad at all, considering it's unblocked. However, by this stage, the nupps were starting to get on my nerves, so the Estonian Potpourri has been laid aside for a short while.

In the meantime, I have booked my place at Skipnorth 2009. Ann-at-work and I had such a good time last year that we determined to go again. It was booked up within 48 hours (I blame that Ravelry) and it was only Lixie saving us a place that meant we scraped in by the skin of our teeth. Last year was my first year, so I wasn't involved in the "Have you used up any/all of the stash you bought last year?" but this year I'm sure to get grilled about the fate of the nine (9) kilos of yarn I bought - mostly at the instigation of Sue. Some is already in use - the green cashmerino for the Star "tablecloth":

the fuchsia stuff (technical term) for the Estonian Potpourri above and I'm thinking about Herbert Neibling's Lyra in some red skinny (tt) stuff.

There is an awful lot of yarn in nine kilos. I've got a pile of this:

Love the colour but I don't know why I keep on buying variegated yarn when I know that most of the time I don't like the look of it knitted up.


it doesn't look much better.

I started casting about for something to knit with it. I'm thinking a cardigan, I'm thinking knitted in one piece (or as few pieces as possible), I'm thinking a free pattern.

You'd think, wouldn't you, with all the free patterns available at Knitting Pattern Central, or Garn Studio, or Berroco, or on Ravelry, that there would be a pattern that would jump out and yell, "Knit me, Knit me!" I think the problem is just too much choice. If it were a case of "this or that", I probably wouldn't have a problem. As it is, I'm paralysed, like the rabbit in the headlights.

There are a few I quite like but I think Cinxia from Knitty ticks all the boxes. I've done a swatch (yes, I know, that was a pig flying past the window) and I can get the gauge required using 4mm needles. (The fact that the pattern calls for 4.5mm needles worries me not one whit - I am the original loose woman, after all.) Strangely, I don't have a 4mm circular needle (or at least not one that's available for cast on purposes) and, even worse, neither does my LYS. I shall have to wait.

Hence the frustration of the title. I had to do something. In my search for a suitable pattern for the variegated yarn, I came across Ester, also from Knitty. I have got to knit something and this is as good as anything. Ideally, I'd like to knit it without having to buy more yarn. This is the solution:

It's a cone of some slinky (tt) stuff, bought years ago in Italy. What possessed me? I have no idea.

It's a tape:

and "it's very green" - that from both 'im indoors and #1 son.

I started (without a swatch) on 6.5mm needles and pulled it right out after two rows because it was too big. There seem to be some sizing issues with the pattern - lots of people say it comes out really small, but I don't think it needed to be as big as all that. I started again with 5.5mm needles (and please note - I "wasted" no more time than knitting a swatch would have cost me) and I am off:

25 rows of 2x1 rib followed by the first cable cross:

Progress has been swift:

Here, I've just cast on the extra stitches at each side.

The weather is so vile, there is nothing to do but sit and knit and that's exactly what I'm going to do now.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I got a ribbon!

I was stunned to get this:

the "I love your blog award" from Knit Yoga. As many of you know (if you are attending) I never win anything - apart from a book about crochet hats, which ended up being about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

Strings are attached, of course:

1. post this award on your blog;
2. add a link to the person who sent you the award;
3. nominate at least 4 other bloggers, and add their links as well; and
4. leave a comment at the new recipients' blogs, so they know they got an award.

Nominate four other bloggers! It's a big ask (as the Australians say) because I read so many blogs but I have racked my brain and I have whittled them down.

Here they are, in no particular order:

Lacefreak - her lace work is just stunning. Sometimes I just go there and look at the pictures.

Marie Fly Fly - beautiful photographs. I don't make garment very often but when I do it's probably going to be something that I saw on this blog.

The Whole Ball of Yarn(s) - knitting, cooking and reading. All the things I love best.

Up Knit Creek - because it's the best title for a knitting blog, ever. And because Annie recognised me at the Knitting and Stitching Show last year by the shawl I was wearing and we had a good old chat and shared our purchases.

Aside from racking my brain to choose the above, I 've also been knitting.

The Estonian Potpourri stole moves on apace. Block A is finished and appears here like an old rag:

It's constructed like a log cabin quilt block and uses different lace patterns for each strip. There are three blocks, each having a central square and eight lace strips, a total of twenty-seven patterns.

As I reported in my last post, the nupps were giving me grief. I really didn't like the ones in the central square of block A. I missed them out completely in block A, pattern 8.

When it came to the centre square of block B, I knew I would have to include the nupps and I knew I had to find a better way of doing them. I consulted here and there in cyberspace but finally resorted to my old stand-by: Montse Stanley's The Handknitter's Handbook (if it's not in this book, it's not worth knowing.)

She calls them "tufts" or "popcorns", which caused a fair amount of confusion when I was looking up "nupps". When I finally found them, I discovered that she has four different variations. I tried them all. In the end, I settled on what she calls a "Thimble Tuft".

I'll try to do some pictures when I a) grow a spare hand, or b) #1 daughter/photographer gets home from school, whichever is the sooner.

I think they look much better:

This is the centre square of block B.

Close-up of the nupps:

Nuppy (tt), or what?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Back on the Straight and Narrow

Many thanks for your commiserations over the disaster with the computer. I think we may now be almost back to what passes for normal here in the rural backwater. The computer is happy to communicate with the camera but is giving the printer the cold shoulder. Let's hope I can work it out before I throw the printer straight through the monitor.

I have a confession to make. In all the flurry over the sudden death, I hardly lifted a knitting needle. What is worse I actually toyed with going over to the dark side. (No, not the Crochet!) I did a little bit of cross stitch and I must say I found it most relaxing. It's something I started a few years ago and worked on sporadically but then I laid it aside. For some reason I took it up again.

It's a picture of a peacock in a pear tree. Here's the part I've finished:

Here's a close-up of the corner block:

There's even a partridge (not in the pear tree, though):

However, it wasn't long before the call of the knitting needle became impossible to ignore.

I looked at the Estonian Pot Pourri pattern and, though it's a beautiful pattern, I wasn't happy with it. The reason for this was that I'd started it on the wrong needles. 2.5mm needles, while skinny (tt) enough for me, were too skinny for the yarn. The yarn is some unknown fuchsia stuff, bought during last year's SkipNorth. I bit the bullet. I ripped it out. Everything. The whole lot. Gone.

I started again. I took a 4mm needle and produced the central square:

The nupps, while not particularly difficult to execute, don't please me. I ripped a few back before I found the ever reliable Fleegle's instructions. They are a model of clarity.

I still don't like the nupps and the reason is, I think, that they are too unstructured for me. I like neatness. I like symmetry. I like precision. Nupps, by their very nature, can't be any of the above. It's a matter of how much slack the individual knitter leaves for each nupp and it's almost impossible to leave exactly the same amount of slack each time (at least it is for me, maybe it's a case of "practise makes perfect".) Anyway, the nupps are done, though I'm sure there will be more, sneaking up on me when I least expect it.

I did a few more patterns. Here they are, unblocked of course, so looking like an old rag:

The rain has been lashing down and the river has been rising. Thankfully, it is nowhere near the house, though the newly planted cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower almost got washed away. "Water in well" read the instructions. I think we can safely say that those instructions have been carried out to the letter.

Here's the back field last Saturday at 10.45am.

The flash went off.

Nothing to do but sit and knit.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Back from the Dead

That's not me - that's the computer. The screen went black, the brainbox went bang and I went barmy. Talk about the rural backwater - I feel as if I've been cut off from civilisation for ever. The blog is bereft; Ravelry is buzzing away; knitters the world over are knitting and chatting and generally having a good time and I am sitting in a Victorian agricultural worker's cottage in the back end of nowhere tearing out my hair.

My address book has gone down a black hole (though there may be hope of getting it back, when I can work out how to do it), so if you want me to get in touch with you, you will have to get in touch with me first. Does that make sense? It sounds slightly Irish to me (don't start writing in - I love the Irish, I'm married to one, after all).

So that's where I've been. More later.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bag of Bags

Here's the "Bag of Bags" in all its recycled glory:

The Pattern (such as it is)

You will need:
5mm needles, dpns or circulars. (I use circulars for just about everything these days - you can use straights to start with but for the body of the bag you will need dpns or circs)

First make your "yarn". I used Ruth's instructions here, but there are other methods - Google is your friend.

Using 5mm needles cast on 40 stitches and work 22 rows in garter stitch. (Knit every row). This rectangle forms the bottom of the bag.

Using 5mm dpns or circs pick up and knit 11 stitches down the first short side of your rectangle. Pick up and knit 40 sts from the cast on edge. Pick up and knit 11 stitches down the second short side of your rectangle. 102 sts. Place marker to indicate the beginning of the round.

Work in the round, in stocking stitch (knit every round) until the body of the bag measures 12 inches (30 cm) - or more, or less. It's your bag. You decide.

To shape the handles:

(Knit 14, Cast off 12, Knit 14, Cast off 11) twice.

You will have four groups of 14 stitches. Leave three of these groups on stitch holders and work back and forth on the remaining 14 stitches.

Join yarn and work 1 row knit and 1 row purl.

Decrease row: *K1, SSK, K to last 3 stitches, K2tog, K1
Work three rows st st (i.e. P 1 row, K 1 row, P 1 row)
Repeat from * until 4 stitches remain.

Work 8 rows st st on these 4 sts. Do not cast off.

Repeat this shaping on the next group of 14 stitches, then graft the remaining stitches together to form the handle. You could use a three needle bind off if you prefer but grafting is neater (and it's only four stitches - you can do it!)

Repeat the whole performance on the other two groups of stitches to make the other handle.

In hindsight (perfect 20/20 vision), I might work 5 rows between the decreases on the handles and stop with 6 or 8 stitches remaining. This would make a fatter (technical term) handle, which might be better.

Use bag at supermarket/farm shop/farmers' market and feel smug - you have made something out of nothing and all it cost you was a small investment of your time.

Send me a picture if you make one - I'd love to see them.

The back field is basking in sunshine and has been mowed:

It really is the rural backwater.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Just START, Kate!"

That's what I've been telling myself for weeks. Just START. Just sit down at that keyboard and blog.

Well, I finally listened to myself, and here I am.

I've been doing sporadic knitting, which sounds like something you need to see the doctor for (or at least get some cream to apply.)

Knitting on the green "tablecloth" continues. I'm now on round 95, and it's slightly larger than it was when I was on round 94 - if it's scrunched up (technical term), it can fit into my less than massive palm. There is no picture. It's just a small, green, scrunched up mess.

The sock yarn blanket has reached 232 squares. Here are a couple of the latest ones:

I've been knitting in the ends as I go and then snipping them off. There are an awful lot of ends and they seem to get all over the place. In order to try and keep them in the one spot, I've been putting them into a jar:

I think they look quite attractive, in a slightly off-the-wall way.

I've also made a "Bag of Bags". I cut up all those plastic bags that, like milk bottles and wire coat-hangers, seem to breed if you turn your back on them for half a second and made "yarn". I used these instructions for cutting the yarn and about six or seven bags. Here it is in progress:

It's finished now and there will be a picture of the complete article and even the "pattern" (such as it is) in a later post. I'm thinking about making a hat with plastic bags, possibly modelled on the sou'wester, beloved of old sea dogs, to protect myself from Mother Nature. It is raining. Again.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Home Again

Here I am, back again, having had a lovely time with Mother in Italy. There wasn't much evidence of any knitting (though I did see some one crocheting on the train) and there is only one tiny yarn shop in Sorrento, which didn't have a very exciting range of yarns:

I may have mentioned that I won a prize in the Yarn Smackdown competition and the book arrived while I was away.

It's about hats, which is a good thing but it's about crochet hats, which is not such a good thing. I know the basics of crochet but have never really taken to it - whenever I have tried to make a doily, it's turned out like a hat; when I try to make a hat, it turns out flat. I'm hoping this book will spur me on to greater effort with the crochet hook.

To that end I have made "Lively" and I don't think it's turned out too badly - #1 son, pictured here, has "commandeered" it:

Here's a view of the top:

The central section, where you "close the hole" in the middle, is a little "plouffy" (technical term) but all in all, I'm very pleased with it. It was quick and easy but used a ton of yarn.

My only real criticism of the book is that it doesn't tell us which yarns were used but advises us to use "worsted weight" or "sports weight" - which isn't a big help for me. I would have preferred to know the yardage of the yarns used, thus allowing me to make a reasonable stab at substituting yarn. However, I suppose it's just a hat - it's bound to fit somebody, somewhere.

I've also been working on the sock yarn blanket, though it's a little hot to have the whole thing on your lap at the moment. I've reached 206 squares and here's #1 daughter hiding under the thing:

and again:

Many thanks again to those kind readers who have sent me yarn to add to the growing pile.

I've also been working on the green "tablecloth", but there's no picture of that. It suffers from the usual downfall of all lace knitting - it looks like a crumpled handkerchief until blocked.

I have also been wrestling with getting the "garden" here in the rural backwater into some semblance of order and have made a bed and planted various vegetables. There's not much to see at the moment but perhaps when there is, you will be treated to a picture.

No recent picture of the back field - the nettles are so high I can't get anywhere near it but if my plans for a flame gun come to fruition, there's no telling if there will be a back field left.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Flying Visit

This really is a "flying" visit - I am off to Sorrento (yet again) with mother and we are leaving tomorrow! What with all the chaos at work, the fact that I'm going so soon simply slid by me. I thought I'd better check in here before you all thought I'd gone down another black hole.

There hasn't been enough knitting done lately, due to the aforementioned chaos at work (I was there 35 hours between Sunday and Wednesday - I usually work 12 hours a week.). I have only managed to do about three squares on the sock yarn blanket, which is now up to 280 squares. However, there has been a very generous offer from Kelly - she sent me some yarn!

At this point, I should be showing you pictures of said yarn. Blogger is playing up, as usual, so there may be no pictures today. Edited later: Blogger has relented - we have lift-off.

Kelly sent me four skeins of sock yarn:

Plymouth "Happy Feet" a beautiful blue colour way:

Brown Sheep "Wildfoote" in colour "Sonatina":

Lorna's Laces "Shepherd Sock" in colour "Childsplay", which looks like a box of crayons - yellow, green, blue, orange, purple, pink:

Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn in colour "Peacock", which is, not surprisingly, the colour of a peacock - green, purple, blue. That's the one on the right - for some strange reason there is no close-up of that.

How very kind and generous! Kelly has a yarn shop in Circle Pines, Minnesota and I would urge you to go and visit her. I'm not quite sure where Circle Pines is, but if you are anywhere near it, you will surely know where to find it. Go and say hello from me.

Just in case any lace knitters out there have been in suspended animation for the past week, I'd just like to point out that Lacis have reprinted Herbert Niebling's "Lyra" - a very beautiful and very rare pattern that was selling on e-bay for about $150 only last week. Needless to say, it's in the post.

I leave you with the back field:

Next week's back field will be "un prato", and if I can find one, you shall have one.


Saturday, May 31, 2008

Water, water, everywhere

I don't know about you, but in our house my stash is threatening to take over. It has wormed its way into every room in the house and is tucked into all sorts of hidey holes. There's quite a lot in the hallway. It's stored in two hanging basket type thingies (technical term). At least, they were hanging, until they fell down (surely they weren't too heavy?) a while ago and laziness and sheer cack-handedness with drills and hooks and such like meant that they remained on the floor in an untidy heap.

It's been raining rather a lot lately. It rained so much that water got in under the front door, unknown to me at first, since we never use it. It was only when I came to dig out some yarn from the un-hanging basket that I realised it was wet.

I spent quite a long time yesterday sorting out the wet yarn; putting the wet yarn into skeins; wetting the yarn some more, with clean water and shampoo this time; hanging the yarn to dry:

and finally making it into a neat little row:

That is, from left to right, some Rowan Ribbon Twist; Rowan Polar; Rowan Rowanspun 4 ply; Blackberry Ridge wool/silk lace weight; unknown cotton (what was I thinking?); Louisa Harding Impression; Colinette Skye.

I think I have managed to save the day.

I haven't forgotten the meme - I'm just biding my time.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Long time, no hear

Yes, I know, I know. It's been far too long. It's a bit like when you don't write your thank-you letters, there and then, on Boxing Day. The longer you don't do it, the harder it becomes.

Here I am now, though and rest assured there has been no lack of knitting here in the rural backwater.

I finished the Wrap Me Up wrap and there has been a request for more pictures. Here are a few:

The front:

The side:

Close-up of the pink bobbles:

I didn't add any beads in the end - it just seemed that to make any impact at all the beads would have had to be huge. I added a few buttons for ornamentation but, strangely, there don't seem to be any pictures and no prospect of any in the near future - the camera has gone to Spain with the offspring and will be back later this week.

I am still working on the Sock Yarn blanket (174 squares at the last count.) I have received yarn donations from Jan (aka Wibbo)

and Alex (aka Little Lixie)

That little lot is certainly helping to keep me going. It's a great TV watching project and offers some well needed light relief from all that lace, which I seem to have on the needles all the time.

In fact, the green lace "tablecloth" has been languishing on the piano for the last few weeks, although I did pick it up and do a couple of rounds this afternoon. No pictures - the camera's in Spain, remember?

You know I died in the Yarn Smackdown? Well, all is not completely lost. There is a prize draw for the fallen in each round and I won a prize! I never win anything, ever, so this was a lovely surprise. I have won a book, which is good - I love books. It's a book about hats, even better - I love hats and never leave the house without one, ever. The only slight fly in the ointment is that it's a book about crochet hats. I don't love crochet - I can crochet but I don't. However, never look a gift horse in the mouth, as they say. Maybe this book will be the thing to spur me on to greater effort in the crochet department. It hasn't arrived yet and I'm thinking it must be somewhere on the high seas (or swallowed by the good old Royal Mail, never to be seen again.)

I have been tagged by Annie and I'm well aware of the fact. However, I need some time to mull over the questions (and any answers I may want to share with you), so that will be for another day. I promise that that day will not be too far in the future.

The weather is so grim at the moment (hasn't stopped raining for what feels like days); life is slightly odd since the offspring are away and that always makes the house seem strange; my place of work is closed for a week while the new owners "take over" - I live so near that I can hear them chucking things in the skip and tearing up the car park with a digger. I'm hoping there will be something left for me to go back to next week. Really, the only thing left to do is knit and that's what I'm going to do right now.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I'm obsessed

I'm obsessed with the sock yarn blanket. It's growing like Topsy. I keep thinking, "Just one more square and then I'll go to bed/do the washing up/cook the dinner/go to work" (delete as appropriate).

We are up to ninety-seven squares. It sounds a lot but it doesn't look much:

I did say that I would just go and buy the sock yarn but I went whizzing into my LYS the other day, only to find a very limited supply of Regia and plenty of ultra-costly Araucania. Needless to say, I didn't bite. Jo's shop, Crafty Cottage, in Warwick has closed down (boo-hoo!), so no joy there. It's ordering on-line or begging from my readers. I'm not above begging, so if you really can't help yourself - send sock yarn!

I am taking the green star shawl very slowly, possibly because of the aforementioned obsession, and am at round 54. No picture - it's the usual lace knitter's photographic nightmare - a pile of dental floss. In this case it's olive green but to all intents and purposes, it's dental floss.

The Wrap Me Up Wrap is blocking even as I write:

Here's the picot hem:

This is the ruffle:

and here's a lace rib panel:

It's taking much longer to dry than a lace shawl, so it's good that today has been the hottest day of the year to date (69F). I'm sorry I can't do the temperature in centigrade- I had my head round it perfectly when I lived in Italy but when I bought 'im indoors a fancy thermometer with indoor and outdoor readings and he set it to Fahrenheit - well, that was it. I don't know if I'm coming or going. Suffice it to say that today was hot and the wrap is drying nicely. It should be dry by tomorrow and then it's just a case of putting an edging on the long sides and a dragon's tooth edging on one of the short ends and I am done. Just in time for it to be too warm to wear.

Spring appears to have sprung here in the rural backwater - I leave you with the back field "in the green".

(Later in the day my "friends" were lurking but I gave them a very wide berth.)