Friday, February 18, 2011

What goes around comes around

A few weeks ago I had an email from an unknown knitter in Dublin. She'd started a project which had then gone into hibernation. When the project later came to light, she discovered she didn't have enough yarn to finish the garment. The yarn, had of course, been discontinued. Undetered, this resourceful knitter knew that Google was her friend. She found, via this very blog, that I had bought some of the same yarn in the same colour:

Well, she was very lucky, because I did have some left and was very happy to send it to her to allow her to finish the garment.

And I thought no more about it.

Until I posted here that I was thinking about a huge, skinny lace project but didn't have quite enough of quite the right yarn for the job. Hardly had my fingers left the keyboard, when I had a message from WyeSue, who was offering goodies. Before a few days were up, this little lot arrived:

Almost half a kilo of Jamieson and Smith Shetland Supreme

and this:

almost half a kilo of blue silk.

So, you see, what goes around really does come around.

They are both pretty skinny:

The Shetland Supreme.

The blue silk.

I couldn't help myself. I had to cast on immediately:

This is a swatch (yes, you heard correctly) for the alternative centre of the Queen Susan Shawl. I know, it looks just like all lace looks before blocking.

I did a bit of strectching:

and a close-up:

The yarn is beautiful to work with - slightly fuzzy (tt), so if you do happen to lose a stitch it doesn't fly down to the cast on edge before you can say "Jack Robinson". The pattern suggests pairing decreases (K2tog and K1, sl1, PSSO; or SSK, as I normally do) but actually, with this skinny yarn and needles (1.5mm), I don't think it makes a scrap of difference. The bottom half of the swatch uses paired decreases, the top half has K2tog throughout. Can you tell them apart?

I don't think the swatch is going to come out square (or even be capable of being blocked square), so I'm going to have to do some adjustments.

I don't know what the blue silk is going to turn into but I'm sure it will speak to me before too long.

Many, many thanks to WyeSue, who has cemented her position as the greatest enabler in the universe.

Oh, Sharon, (who left a comment about the blue and cream sock in the last post) the sock is from Stephanie van der Linden's book "Around the World in Knitted Socks". Great book, great patterns. If you are a sock knitter, I think it needs to be on your bookshelves.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

There and back again

I set off from here:

and before long, I was here:

As soon as I was on the train I cast on for a sock:

All my elaborate plans for knitting pair one, sock one; pair two, sock one; etc went right out of the window. I should have been knitting sock two of this pair:

but I couldn't cope with two colours and a chart on a journey, so I cast on for the "Scent of Lavender" socks from Stephanie van der Linden's book "Around the World in Knitted Socks".

By the time we got to here:

I had got to here:

So I decided it was time for a reward:

By the time I got to my destination:

I'd got as far as this:

However, I suddenly realised that SkipNorth is creeping up on me and I know I'll be expected to show at least one item that I have knitted with the vast amount of yarn I purchased last year.

So I decided I'd better get on with this:

"This" is the Fern Glade Shawl by Dorothy Siemens of Fiddlesticks Knitting, looking just as photogenic as lace normally looks until the magic of blocking. The yarn is "Exquisite", 50% mulberry silk, 50% merino wool, 50g/500m, also from Fiddlesticks (though I bought it at the Knitting and Crochet Guild). It's beautiful to work with and the pattern charts are large and clear. It's quite an interesting knit - sometimes the ground is stocking stitch, sometimes garter; sometimes it's patterned on alternate rows and sometimes on every row.

Here she is spread out a bit so you can see a little of the pattern:

Note the trusty running yarn markers - I've almost run out of the bright red crochet cotton and am reduced to white, which is not going to work too well on any white item I might be knitting. That's certainly a possibility, whereas my knitting a bright red item is probably not.

I started the edging:

Apologies for the wonky (tt) photo.

It's very slow going - the edging is attached by k2tog to the live stitches of the shawl every alternate row. I don't know exactly how many stitches there are but it is a lot. I'm almost finished now and the next picture should be of the shawl in all her (blocked) glory.

There has also been movement on the very complex, very skinny shawl requiring the 6000m of yarn but that will have to wait for another day because if I don't get off here and start knitting the border will never be finished.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

There's more to life than socks

Really. There is.

I know I said it hasn't all been socks but it seems all I've talked about is socks. Just to prove there is more to life than socks:

This is Barry - I don't know why he's called Barry (I don't even know if he's a boy) but Mel-at-work said he looks like a Barry, so Barry he is. As you can see, he's got a bit of yarn trailing from his ear but that's all sorted out now and he's got a nose, too.

The pattern came from "Best in Show - knit your own dog" by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne . They are the pair who designed the famous "Sheep Jumper":

that Princess Diana wore to a polo match on one occasion, thus starting a craze. Everyone had one (even me - though I didn't follow the pattern exactly - mine had one lost sheep on the back). There is a free pattern available here if you want to relive the '80's.

I haven't been knitting much lace but that is all set to change. I am feeling the urge for some massive, super-skinny-yarn lace project. I'm thinking about starting Sharon Miller's Wedding Ring Shawl again (notwithstanding the disaster that happened last time); or maybe I'll attack The Lerwick Shawl (also by Sharon Miller). Another possibility would be The Queen Susan Shawl, which has a remarkable story but takes 6,000 yards of yarn. While I'm absolutely positive I've got far more than 6,000 yards of lace yarn in the house, I'm not so positive that I've got 6,000 yards of the same type and colour.

Part of the great joy of thinking about a project like this is deciding on the yarn. I've been doing lots of research but hesitate to commit myself until I've been to SkipNorth in March. I might find the perfect thing while I'm there. We'll be visiting Coldspring Mill (website undergoing a makeover but stuffed full of Debbie Bliss on cones at such a cheap price it makes your eyes water and your hand reach for the plastic), Texere, Bombay Stores (website doesn't really do it justice - full of delights) and Wingham Wool Work so the chances are good.

I might just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

More Socks

As I said, there have been a lot of socks:

These are some for 'im indoors. I used the Gull Wing pattern out of Chrissy Gardiner's "Toe Up" and made the hybrid heel, increasing the gusset stitches to accommodate his high instep. They fit very well.

Close up of the pattern:

All these socks did have a tendency to induce the dreaded second sock syndrome until I had a brainwave - why not knit the socks in pairs. (Yes, I know we normally knit socks in pairs - bear with me.)

What I really mean is knit the socks two pairs at a time. So we knit sock one of pair one; sock one of pair two; sock two of pair one and finally, sock two of pair two. It's like starting a new pair every time - no second sock syndrome.

My first "pair" of socks knitted after this fashion:


Can you tell what it is yet?

The first is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the Buck's Bar colourway. I had such trouble choosing a pattern for this yarn. I started "Spina di Pesce" by Yarnissima - useless. Lovely pattern, just not right for this yarn.


I started the "Switcheroo Socks" from "Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn". I not only started them, I finished the first sock. It just wasn't right and I knew it wasn't right from a very early stage but I just kept knitting. Maybe I was thinking it would suddenly transform itself into a delightful sock in the night time. It didn't.


I finally settled on "Skew" - I've knitted a pair before, and though they look plain, there is actually just enough action to keep one interested.



Very ingenious construction - I still don't really know quite how the magic happens.

I then embarked on sock one of pair two:

"Route 66 " from Stephanie Van Der Linden's lovely "Around the World in Knitted Socks". I've knitted several of Stephanie's pattern's before and always liked them, so this book was my little gift to myself. I even went to the extent of ordering yarn (as if there weren't enough in the house already) to make several other pairs.

I've just started sock two of pair one and I'm not bored yet.

It hasn't all been socks - there have been other things but all that will have to wait - my sock is calling.

Many thanks to those who have commented - it's nice to know there are real people out there.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Can a blog be a phoenix?

I'm hoping this one can be.

I know there's been a long hiatus, which is mostly down to Knit Camp. All the work before it and all the fallout after it just made me feel that it was impossible to contribute anything, both here and elsewhere on 'tinterweb. Though the dust has settled somewhat, the whole thing has had a profound impact and I am only now feeling capable of crawling out from under my stone.

However, I never stopped knitting, though I don't suppose that will come as much of a surprise to anyone. Strangely, for one who at one time constantly protested that she didn't like knitting socks, I've been knitting mostly socks:

These are the Escher Socks from "Knitting Socks with Hand Painted Yarn". Yarn is Opal Trekking and I used the usual 2.5mm circular needle. Of course, I didn't follow the pattern much. I used the stitch pattern but made them toe-up (which I much prefer) using the worksheets for the shaped round toe and the hybrid heel from Chrissy Gardiner's "Toe-Up".

I don't normally buy patten books because I resent paying through the nose for the one pattern in the book I might possibly want to knit. However, both of the above books are well worth the outlay. Chrissy Gardiner's book doesn't have terribly exciting patterns (just my opinion and no offence intended) but the worksheets for different toe and heel treatments which allow you to make toe-up socks from any pattern are certainly worth the cover price. The hand painted yarn book has very interesting information about how to deal with the pooling and splotching that so often occurs with hand painted yarns as well as some lovely patterns. I have already made several of them with more in the pipeline.

Speaking of which:

these are Veronik Avery's Staccato Socks from that same book.

The pattern is toe-up and is designed to use one main yarn and small amounts of three additional colours. I used stuff from the sock yarn blanket bag, thinking that if all the yarn I've got goes into the sock yarn blanket it will be sufficient to cover the Great Bed of Ware (with quite a bit left to hang down the sides).

That's enough for now - the phoenix is feeling tired, but for those of you who might have been missing it,
here's the back field in a snowstorm:

More socks, amongst other things, soon.