Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Two Socks at Once?

I don't knit socks. This is what I always say to people. Then I think back over the socks I have knitted - several pairs (yellowish, green stripes, blue stripes) for 'im indoors; several pairs for me - plain but fancy yarn. Then I got fed up with knitting plain socks, however fancy the yarn so I made the False Flame Crew socks; Amber's socks; Sideways Socks Supreme (all from "Socks, socks, socks"); Pomatomus and Monkey Socks (both by Cookie A); Travelling Vine and Kaibashira (in progress as we speak). So I do knit socks, it's just that plain socks bore me and fancy socks always involve making two exactly the same, which is tedious. Then I saw this article in Knitty, about how you could knit two socks at the same time, one inside the other and i thought, "I can do that."

Some people (and she knows exactly who she is) were sceptical - they thought I'd gone right round the bend and assured me that there were treatment options for my affliction. When I tried the cast on I was inclined to agree. I put it down and decided it was a ridiculous idea. But it was still there in the back of my mind. I tried again. I made this:

See, that's the cast on. I am using two different colours. I might be slightly bonkers but I am not a complete maniac- this is a practice piece, not a real sock real socks.

I knitted a bit and I even learned how to purl:

I knitted some more:

I made a mistake (easily done) and corrected it (not so easy but not impossible). This looks as if it might be doable. I might just give it a try. I'd want to start with a "plain" pair but, since I can now knit and purl, I don't see why some sort of pattern might not be possible. Now all of you think I've lost my marbles - I just know you do.

In other news, I have signed up for Yarn Smackdown, which I heard about on Ravelry, that den of iniquity. It's a bit like the Hat Attack but arranged in "brackets", so you play against one other knitter and then the winner moves on to play the winner of another bracket. We'll be knitting a hat, so to get myself into the swing of things, I've knitted yet another hat.

This is the Halley's Comet Hat by Marnie MacLean, which I also saw on Ravelry. I've used the same Jaeger Shetland Aran as for the Hat Attack. Same 4mm needles (though I might have been better using slightly larger ones). The pattern says the hat would benefit from blocking. Well, so it would but I couldn't think of a way of doing it apart from wetting it, putting it on and letting it dry on my own head and I didn't think that would be too comfortable. Various options were thought of, assessed and discarded as impractical.

Finally, I settled on this:

Here she is stretched over one of my black hats. It fits very well, but the hat says "Do not wear in the rain" (Don't get me started on how ridiculous that statement is) so I may have to cover the black hat with a plastic bag before I can wet the Comet and stretch it over.

Here's the side view:

I'm quite pleased with that.

Ravelry Day at Crafty Cottage in Warwick is on Saturday. If anyone is nearby, come and say hello!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dead as a Door Nail

At 11.05 am GMT on Tuesday 19th February 2008, I was killed by a beautiful blue hat, seen her modelled by Ann-at-work.

Back view:

Side view:

I gave it to Ann-at-work because I am really not a blue person. It's a lovely hat. Beautifully knitted. The yarn is some sort of Lopi-type, by the name of "Emmebi Diamond", though I haven't been able to find out much about it. It was made for me by my assassin, sadly blogless, but Savitaks on Ravelry. The colour is more true in the first image above. For any geeks out there the cables on the hat indicate the numbers 0 to 15 in binary code. I never understood binary - you'd think it would be easier, since it only requires counting to two, but I have never found it so.

I really enjoyed the Hat Attack and hope to join in the next one, later in the year. I also want to persuade Ann-at-work to enter. She is, of course, a neo-knitter. She is also my star pupil, having knitted two hats (one of her own devising), a scarf and a pair of socks. Technically, she's only knitted a quarter of a pair of socks, but considering she has mastered the short row toe and is about to meet the short row heel (which is exactly the same), I don't think she is doing too badly. Of course, she had a very good teacher...

Since I finished the Travelling Vine socks I thought I'd better buy more sock yarn. One swift trip to Crafty Cottage in Warwick later and this is what had happened:

Opal sock yarn, called Hummel.

Opal sock yarn, called Picture.

More Tofutsies, which has already been cast on:

This is Kaibashira, from MagKnits. As you may know, I hate knitting plain socks because I just get so bored. This sock satisfies my desire for a bit of pattern with my desire to use fancy (tt) yarn.

There is a lovely ruffled picot edge. Here's a close up:

Cast on 187 stitches? I thought I was making a sock for an elephant. I just wish I'd read the pattern a little more closely. Had I done so, I probably wouldn't have used the fancy, double needle, very stretchy cast on, which has become my cast on of choice for cuff down socks. It's not really a problem but neither is it really necessary.

Even though feather and fan, of which this is a variation, is not my favourite lace pattern, I'm really liking the way these are looking.

Incidentally, Jo at Crafty Cottage is having a Ravelry Day on Saturday 1st March. It sounds like it's going to be great fun, so if you are anywhere near why don't you come on over and say hello. I'll be the one in the hat, the shawl and the fancy socks.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Dead Man Walking

I've been a bit quiet lately because I've been away for a day or so (only to Bedford for a party, nothing earth shattering); I've been knitting like fury and I'm almost dead.

Did you hear about the Sock Wars? Well, I've just done the same with Hat Attack.

The pattern came out at about 1.45pm my time on Saturday afternoon. I had to hold back 'im indoors from leaving for Bedford until the pattern was safely printed off. We'd had some information about gauge/ suitable yarn and so on in the run-up to the start. I had the hat cast on before we left the rural backwater and continued to knit in the car until it was too dark to see. No chance of sending the thing off before Monday, so I was very leisurely about it - though I must say I pulled out the knitting as the party wore on - no-one batted an eyelid. I got the hat done late on Saturday evening.

Some competitors seem to be taking the thing very seriously but then, I even swatched, which goes to show how serious about the whole thing I am being. (For those unfamiliar with my usual attitude to swatching - I never swatch, ever.)

My assassin (blogless) is in Estonia and has already sent my hat, though I have not received it (hence the title of this post).

I have sent my hat:

to my victim, who is in Belgium. It appears that she is still alive, as I had a message on Ravelry from her today but her days are numbered.

We're doomed.

My brother-in-law arrived from Italy yesterday.

"Any news?" he asked.

"Well, I could tell you the Horse Story."

"Oh, I know all about that - I read it on your blog."


Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Horse Story

I wasn't going to tell The Horse Story, because this is a blog about knitting, right? But there have been so many comments and questions that I feel I have no option but to reveal The Horse Story (and the even more startling follow-up.)

Last Sunday afternoon, sitting on the sofa in my own house in the rural backwater and minding my own business, the back door suddenly burst open and #1 daughter erupted into the house. She was weeping, she was wailing, she was unable to speak and, strangely, she was shoeless. All sorts of horror flashed through my mind but when I finally managed to calm the child down sufficiently, she told me that she had been coming home, through the now famous "back field", and that one of the horses had rushed at her and scared her. She ran away so fast that the new red shoes came off in the general melee and were now lying in the back field. "No problem, don't worry, darling. Mummy will get the shoes back," said this brave woman, in cavalier fashion.

Out I went, over the back fence with #1 daughter in the background, pointing out the shoes. The horse was there. The horse came up to me.

Here's the horse in a quieter moment (just in case you've forgotten what a horse looks like):

I held out my hand in greeting and the bugger bit me on the inside of the forearm.

This is what it looks like now, almost a week later (and slightly blurry from the contortionist's tricks I had to go through to get this picture):

That was bad enough, but on Wednesday evening I was alerted to flashing blue lights in the pub's car park. Thinking that my workplace had gone on fire once again, I shot out of the house to find out what was happening. Only to meet a fireman, in full regalia, walking up the road, shining a torch and "looking for a hydrant" (I would have thought there should be a list of where they all are, but that's just me and my quirky outlook on life.) "So what's the problem?" I ask and he replies, "Oh, nothing much, it's just a fire in some stables at the bottom of the pub car park."

Oh, Dear God.

I've been expecting the "four o'clock knock" ever since. "Excuse me, Madam, but we have reason to believe that you have a grudge against this horse. Would you mind accompanying us to the station to assist with our enquiries?"

Of course, I have nothing to fear. I was at home all the time, with 'im indoors. The only problem being that when I said that to him, he said, "Were you?"

So far, I'm still at liberty but who knows how long that state of affairs will apply?

For the record, even though I'm not the biggest fan of our equine friend, I really wouldn't wish being burned to a crisp on him and as it turned out he wasn't even singed - no horses were harmed in the telling of this story.

There's been a bit of knitting:

That's the "Audrey" bag, not quite finished yet. The handle is meant to be a silver chain with yarn woven through it. I'm not sure I'm so keen on that idea and #1 daughter says I should make a little handle like "Tilly's legs" (that would be the I-cord, then.) Maybe, maybe not.

Follow-up to the Noni bag saga - many thanks to all for their comments re dyeing, not dyeing, what colour to dye and so on. I was most cheered by several people who have said that having one odd flower is "interesting", "quirky", "fun" and all what not. (I might be starting to come round to that way of thinking.)

The best thing of all?

I had an email from Lisa at First4Yarns, where I bought the Cascade, that turned into the bag, that turned a different colour, that ended up being part of the house that Kate knitted.

I can't do better than just tell you what she wrote:

Hi Kate,
Just been browsing online and came to your Blog, I can't believe how the bag has turned out ! That is the first time I have seen that the yarn changes colour when felted, what happened?
If you would like to have another try I am quite willing to send you some more free of charge as I feel this shouldn't have happened.
I will let Cascade know x
Lisa :()

Talk about customer service above and beyond the call of duty! I haven't replied to Lisa yet because I'm not quite sure of the etiquette of how to go on in this situation. Any advice? (Take the yarn and run has already sprung to mind...)

Oh, and, in case you were wondering the red shoes were retrieved from over the rainbow and all is now well (apart from the bruise, more yellow by the minute.)