Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I think just about the last thing I wrote was about how green the Noni bag turned out to be. I may have mentioned something about the uncertainty of the felting process, especially since I have a front-loading washing machine. Never a truer word spoken.

This is the bright lime green bag after felting:

It has turned what can only be described as a "mucky brown" (technical term). On the plus side, it is a more suitable size for a bag. I'm trying to think what to do with it because I certainly don't want it to be that colour. Dye it black? Remove the colour and dye it back to the lime green it started off as? Dye it with what? Throw it behind the sofa and forget about it for a while? Everything is possible.

Not content with the bag itself turning into a nightmare, the flowers are not far behind. There are five flowers. I had already felted one because I couldn't wait to see how it would turn out. I made the others and felted them. I'm sure you will spot the problem:

Guess which one I did first? That's something else with a whole lot of questions attached.

I decided to get back to something where I know what I'm doing:

This is clue 2 of the Spring Shawl Surprise and it's still looking good. The difficulty has stepped up a bit in this part - the Bird's Eye pattern at the top centre there doesn't have that plain private side row but is patterned on both sides. It's not impossible but you do need to keep your wits about you.

Here's a shot of the side border:

It's the usual lace-in-progress story - it looks like a crumpled handkerchief until the blocking, so you will just have to use your imagination.

After the setback with the Noni bag, I thought I'd have a go at a little bag in the latest "Let's Knit" magazine. It's called "Audrey" and consists of two moss stitch squares, two cabled squares and a garter stitch gusset. The handle is meant to be a chain with yarn wrapped around it but I might do something different there. The recommended yarn is RYC Cashsoft Aran and only one ball is required. Of course, I'm not using that yarn because there is so much yarn already in the house. I'm using Debbie Bliss wool/cotton doubled and size 4.5mm needles. Strangely, there is no gauge given for the pattern, though we do have finished dimensions. It's a small bag but I think it's meant to be dinky (technical term).

Here's the cabled square, which I did without the aid of a cable needle (oh, the joy! the liberation!):

Here are the rest of the ingredients, looking slightly wonky (tt):

And, finally, just because you haven't seen it for a while, I give you a soggy back field:

No sign of the horses, one of which bit me the other day (don't ask).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bag, socks and some lace.

Ages ago I got some Cascade 220 and a Noni Bag pattern from First4Yarns in Wales. I made a flower and felted it but then laid the project aside. Having spent two days this week waiting in the Orthodontist's surgery(don't ask), I decided it was time to get on with the bag because it's nice, mindless knitting. (Incidentally, there was another woman waiting who was also knitting - proof, it it were needed, that I am not that salmon swimming the wrong way down the one-way street.)

I finished knitting the bag and it looks big enough to be used in the sack race - let's hope the felting shrivels (technical term) it to a more suitable size.

It's also very green, more green than I remember:

The flowers are even pinker than they were:

Felting the flower hasn't really toned it down much:

What was I thinking?

My original reading of the pattern had me making nine flowers, on closer inspection I discovered that I had to make "5 9-petal flowers", so that was a stroke of luck. All the knitting is now done and I'm doing some deep breathing exercises to prepare me for the felting. I have a front-loading washing machine (as most Brits do, I think) so earnest advice to "check the item every five minutes or so" is completely useless. I have to run it through the hottest wash and hope I don't end up with a bag for Barbie. It's a very stressful time.

I think I'm turning into a clever clogs. Or, to be more accurate, a clever socks.

Remember I made the Monkey socks? Well, I bought some beautiful Araucania sock yarn in autumn colours the other day and wanted a pattern to reflect the colourway. When I saw the travelling vine pattern in James Norbury's "Traditional Knitting Patterns" I realised it was just the thing. The drawback was that the pattern isn't charted and it's written for knitting flat. I had to chart the pattern and adapt it for knitting in the round. By this time, I was quite exhausted and the idea of designing a sock from scratch was a little daunting, so I didn't do it. The pattern repeat is eight stitches and it just so happens that the pattern used in the Monkey sock is a sixteen stitch repeat. I cheated. I just plugged the travelling vine pattern into the Monkey shape.

So far, I think they are looking good.

My next area of concern is that I might have made the leg too long and will find myself running out of yarn before I'm finished. Next time, I need to adapt the pattern for toe-up knitting, though I'm sure someone has already done it.

There has also been lace. I have started the Spring Shawl Surprice (sic). I'm not giving a link to the Yahoo group because I believe membership is now closed (so, too late, you missed the boat). I don't usually like mystery KALs - why would I want to invest time, effort and funds into knitting something that may well turn out to be nothing more than a glorified dish rag? (or not, of course - we could have the next Herbert Niebling lurking in our midst.) Anyway, I sometimes sign up for mystery KALs and wait until all the clues have been published and I've seen some pictures of WIPs before I commit myself. This one was different. As soon as I saw the first clue I just knew it was going to be a beautiful design. So far I have almost completed clue one:

I'm using some Patons 2-ply baby yarn, 100% wool in white. I'm probably going to dye the thing later, though I'm not quite sure what colour yet. Maybe a green. (Possibly not such a loud green as the Noni bag...)

Oh, and my latest acquisition?

A Brother knitting machine, courtesy of one of our customers, who ran the Christmas Bazaar and had this left at the end. She even delivered it to me at work. I was so excited I wanted to run straight home and get on with it. Everything is there: the table, the garter carriage, the lace carriage, the colour thingie (technical term), another bit of kit for drafting out your own patterns, a ball winder (almost the best bit since mine went down a black hole years ago and has yet to re-appear - bet it does next week, though.) The instruction book is somewhat cryptic and the learning curve is steep. I've managed to knit a few swatches but no actual items yet. I'm thinking about trying to find a class and taking a few lessons. We shall see.

I'd better get on - I'm so glad I've got some lace back on the needles - I thought my motivation would never come back.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


I have been, haven't I? I don't know what happened really - Christmas; the Black Dog; feeling as though I'm living under a stone, such is the quality of light (or lack of it) at this time of the year.

Anyway, the pies have been minced; the tree trimmed; the tree detrimmed; the Black Dog seen off (at least for now) and it finally looks like there is a light at the end of the tunnel - even though it may yet turn out to be an on-coming train.

There has been some knitting. Only small-ish pieces as I think I'm still in shock after the WRS debacle.

I have been trawling through the Yarn Stash Wonders Book and it's a treasure trove of delights. I made some hand warmer/fingerless mittens for Ann-at-work. Her hands get cold when she's driving and since I happened to have some yarn which is exactly the same colour as her SmartCar and since she's going to be driving me to the far north in March (more about that later), I decided these were just the thing for her:

I also made the Kureyon scarf from that same book. All the projects take just one skein and this one would have too if I hadn't misread the pattern. I made the first half of the scarf too long, so then it was decision time. Should I buy another ball (what? Me? Buy yarn??), or should I try and think of another way to finish the scarf? My MIL suggested making a hole in the scarf (isn't there a Buttonhole Scarf pattern somewhere?). This I did and if you tie it in some sort of elaborate fashion that I did once and can now no longer replicate, it looks like this:

I don't usually knit gifts for Christmas (too much pressure and they won't appreciate it anyway) but that book did inspire me. I knitted a collar thingie (technical term) for myself from Rowan Polar, a yarn which is now, sadly, discontinued:

I made another similar for Aunty Pat in a teal chenille. She likes it very much. If she was getting a neck warmer, Mammy would need one too. The bulky collar is a great pattern - easy and quick but I'd already knitted it twice (which is once more than I usually knit patterns), so I needed something else. The same but not the same. One Tree Hill to the rescue with the delightful Fidget. I used some Sirdar fluffy stuff (technical term) for this, in a beige colour. These two projects needed five buttons between them. Now, I've got a huge button tin. I buy buttons that take my fancy in the boutique. I cut buttons off old clothes before they turn into cleaning rags. As I said, I've got a huge button tin. Were there any suitable buttons in that tin? Of course not. It's another one of those eternal mysteries (like what really does happen to all those odd socks, how do wire coat hangers breed and why is there always one teaspoon left at the bottom of the washing-up bowl?) I had to buy buttons.

Even though I've professed not to enjoy knitting socks, the nether regions have received quite a bit of attention lately. Another pair of the delightful Saartje's bootees:

from left-over Regia 6-ply sock yarn, for Francesca's not-yet-here baby. I know some people have converted this pattern to knit in the round but, though I am not fond of sewing, they are so quick to make and finish that it's really not necessary. The thing that takes the longest length of time is the sewing on of the buttons (and going to the shop to buy them because, of course, there aren't any suitable ones in the vast tin.)

Some Pomatomus socks for me, from left-over Gedifra fashion trend sportivo, purchased from Webs to make the Scrawl:

Finally, I bought some Tofutsies sock yarn from Crafty Cottage in Warwick:

and I have used it to make some Monkey Socks:

(these are socks for me, not socks for a monkey). They are now finished and fit very nicely. The toe on the Pomatomus socks (also by Cookie A) were a bit too pointy (technical term) for my not very pointy toes, these are much better.

That's us about up-to-date (apart from a lacy alpaca hat - no picture yet) and for me to tell you where Ann-at-work will be driving me to.

We are going to SkipNorth in Haworth (home of the Bronte sisters and their drunken brother Bramwell) next March. It's just after my birthday and being that it's a big, round birthday, this is my treat to myself. I can't wait.