Friday, August 31, 2007

Circulars?

OK knitting people, I need some advice…

I have swatched for Notorious and “got gauge” with my HipKnits aran silk – woo hoo! Strangely, I have two skeins, one labelled 180g, and another that looks the same, but together they weight 400g…. hmmm. Anyway, I think it is enough if the “metres per 100g” is correct.

So… now I need circular needles. I own one sad old circular, with no size marked, but it appears to be 4.5 or 5mm. It is aluminium with a plastic cable and I only tried it once and hated it. It kinked and twisted and the stitches got stuck at the join between the cable and the needle – shudder! But I know that I cannot possibly rework the Annie Modesitt pattern to knit on straight needles – I had a look at it last night and it did my head in.

So… Denise or KnitPicks or Boye Interchangeables? Or would you buy them singley and get Addi Turbos? (See? I know all the names to drop, but there is no knowledge behind my words!)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A pair of Golf Stockings


Four and a half hours sitting in the outpatients clinic allowed me to finish the second Golf Stocking. So at least something worthwhile resulted from the wait!

So the stockings: Golf or Cycling Stockings from "Knitting Vintage Socks". 2 full skeins of brown St Ives, 1 full skein of the green, and not very much blue. Size 2.75mm dpns, cast on with 80 stitches, decreasing down to 68 at the ankle. This was a bit of a fiddle because the instructions didn't tell me how best to work the decreases into the ribbing without messing it up too much, and I didn't decrease as many times as the pattern suggested. One came out better than the other. I rejected the Welsh Heel and Star Toe suggested, and went for a French Heel and a Flat Toe. The leg fits me well, but also stretches to fit First Love comfortably - and he used to play football, so has a sturdy calf. If I was knitting them again, I might step up to dk wool to make them slightly bigger for a man, but he is happy with them as they are. The long ribbing section made this a mostly-mindless knit - perfect for waiting room situations. The fair-isle cuff added a bit of "bite" to the knitting, and because it is folded over, adds significant warmth. I added the stripes because I knew I didn't have enough brown in the stash, and I am really glad I did - it adds a bit of a modern twist to a sock that could so easily have been too old-man-ish.

The St Ives? Well it does the job. It is cheap, very strong (no hand-breaking possible, I had to use scissors) and the colours are heathered classic man-friendly shades. A bit hairy which made me think it might scratch, but once knitted up it seems soft enough. Yes, I will use it again (just as well because I bought ten balls of it, so there's plenty left for more!) But probably not in this pattern - I might go for the Lozenge pattern (also in Knitting Vintage Socks) for the next pair.

But first – a burst of colour!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Fiendish


Oh please save me from weekend frustrations!

My 11 year old daughter was obsessing over a suduko in the Saturday Times - the one labelled "Fiendish". She wanted to win a laptop. Even supposing she successfully solved the puzzle... aaargh! 
So it was with great happiness that I escaped to the woods with the dog and the latest IK! I was determined to get to the heel of the second Golf Stocking yesterday so that I could justify ordering yarn for the Mirepoix Bodice! The more I look at it, the more I realise it is a girly sweater version of the Golf Stocking: a fair-isle bodice (like the cuff) and long ribbed sleeves and body. That's a lot of ribbing! And the Composed Mitts are calling to me. I really enjoyed reading the article on cable-knitting too. Hooray for IK!
I turned the heel of Golf 2 by dinner-time and am hopeful that First Love's hospital outpatients appointment tomorrow will see off the end of this loooong sock!

Meantime, Notorious is positively screaming at me to swatch, and I am pondering June Bride fingerless mitts in the handspun from Rebecca my Sockapalooooza pal. See the purple dpns? I couldn't resist them from Woolly Workshop when I ordered my IK - on the grounds that I didn't have 3.75mm dpns and they are needed for June Bride - tee hee hee!
But I am trying to save the handspun to combine with the Pigeonroof Studios handspun I ordered a couple of weeks ago - it's not here yet. I fancy a Chevron Scarf in deep purple and emerald - mmm!
But I haven't forgotten Clessidra... or Marina Piccola plans... or that list of future projects I drew up several months ago. So many ideas, so little time!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Notorious, for free!

I just found out you can download the pattern for Notorious for FREE!

Here



Do it, girls, you know you want to!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Reading and some sewing

No knitting to show. It was a frustrating week off work, craft-wise. Kids to be taken places, First Love to be taken places, dog to be walked. Somehow the days were swallowed up with little to show for them.
I did some reading: “Free Food For Millionaires” by Min Jin Lee now has a creased spine. The “Times” said it was the next Great American Novel, which I find curious. It is a pleasing-enough read with interesting details about Korean-American life, and ticks all the boxes for descriptions of clothing and hints that maybe the heroine will turn out to be a reknowned hat designer. So it keeps me reading just to satisfy myself that life is, after all, fair. Ah but maybe it will achieve Greatness by subverting these expectations. Literature? I’m not sure. Tell you when I finish it..
Also received my copy of Vogue Knitting Fall 07. I am not overwhelmed by any of the patterns. I enjoyed reading an interview (transcribed tele-conference) with old and new knit stars. Why do people knit? Process or product? Hmmm. Right now I need the process to keep me sane, but I like to get through the products too…
However, I made a skirt. I used the least-favourite metre from my 7 metre pack of tweeds. It is mustardy with a light windowpane check of purple and claret. (So the kids hate it.) But the pattern (Japanese) is a huge success: slightly a-line to the knee, then a crazy flirty mini-flounce cut on the bias, so it flares out and bounces when I walk. And I am delighted to say that it fits - I had this suspicion that a Japanese skirt pattern would have a tiny waist, but all is well - hooray! But I am stalled for lack of a zip and lining material. This will entail a trip into the city. The joy of living in the middle of fields! So pictures will follow after I attend a work meeting in town in two weeks’ time!
Back to work in the morning. Broadband access – hooray! I have been missing my daily blog-reads!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Romantic Hand Knits arrives


There will be swatching!
I just received my copy of “Romantic Hand Knits” by Annie Modesitt (whose husband has Multiple Myeloma, just like my First Love. Her blog is essential daily reading for me these days).
Oh my! “Romantic” in the style of Dita von Teese meets Scarlett O’Hara! These are not knits for a shrinking violet. There is a surprising number of “novelty” yarns – ribbon for example, and a new yarn made out of corn / maize called (yup) “Amaizing”. But I think that the styles repay dedicated swatching for substitutes and adaptation to suit. If you think you have the knitting skills for it – this is seriously technical stuff! My absolute favourite has to be “Notorious”. I could imagine this as the top half of a bridal outfit. Very fitted with cables and lace and gathering in strategic places. I also see myself knitting a wrapover cardi “Charade”, which is knit in a ribbon yarn, but I hope to substitute with SWTC Bamboo. My daughter is blown away by a floor-sweeping skirt “Now, Voyager”: I have explained that she will have to knit it herself. Other items I will definitely knit are “June Bride” fingerless gloves, and “Some Like it Hot” elbow-length gloves. The over-the-knee stockings are knit in silk sportweight, which sounds a bit bulky to me – I might have a go at translating them into fingering-weight…
This is not a set of “practical” knits. It is definitely a book to reach for to find a show-stopping garment for a special occasion. “Cleopatra” (sample-knit by Grumperina) is extravagantly elegant. “Jezebel” is downright rude. The cover skirt is sassy and classy. There are two structured formal hats with brims. There are several strangely bulky knits with fugly contrast edgings, which just confused me. Am I missing their point somehow? So no, not all of these are for me. But I would have bought the book just for “Notorious”.
Off to Get Knitted to eye up the Knit Picks circular needles…
Oh - and I also received my Dyeabolical Yarns purchase from Etsy! The colourway is "Scratch Art" and it is Superwash merino fingering. I like the dyeing - though the black could maybe be blacker. I am looking forward to seeing how this knits up. Maybe Mermaid gloves? Or maybe ditch the long armlet idea and go for Pomatomus socks?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Some finishing

I have finally finished a few felt flower brooches for my friend’s craft stall later this year. They sat around unfelted and limp for a while. Then they sat around unbeaded and sad. Now they are making me smile, with seed beeds and shiksa mirrors – much better! I need to crack on and make some more, now that the design has come together.

See my Moo Cards in the photo? Tee hee hee! SO cute! They will be my mini-business cards for the craft stall.

My replacement dpns have arrived, so Clessidra can progress.

But meanwhile I have finished the first Golf Stocking, so maybe I should concentrate on the second sock to cheer up First Love. I knitted the foot in stripes because I didn't have enough of the plain brownish green... and also for a bit of fun. He came out of the radiotherapy room and saw what I had done and laughed more than he has done for a long time.

Chemo made him sick again this week, despite stronger anti-sickness drugs. He has stopped taking the bone-rebuilding drug altogether because it made him feel so nauseous, so we had hoped that this weekend might not be so bad. Wrong. It is so ironic that the things that will make him better in the long run make him feel so much worse now. So he gets really depressed and says things like “I would rather be dead than dying”. To which I can only reply “And I would rather you were well.”

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Scottish Things

My Yarn Yard sale bargain sock wool has arrived! And I have to say I am impressed by the softness of the yarn – not at all “hairy” as is so often the case with wool / nylon mixes (like St Ives) and it has a nice firm spin. The colour is delicious – it is “trente et un” from the Tour de France range and goes from a thistle-ish purple through to cerise, with plenty of variations on the way. This is earmarked for Marina Piccola socks for a Christmas gift.

And here is the latest picture of the Golf Stockings. 20 or so rows to go before I reach the heel flap. First Love has been showing them off to his visitors. I do fear he is going to resurrect his “hunting shooting fishing” tweed plus-fours from the depths of the old-clothes trunk so he can show these off in style!

Lots of improvement in First Love’s energy levels this week. He managed to walk the dog yesterday without needing a walking stick. He has been joining us for family meals again, after more than two months of odd food cravings and tiny portions. Chemo and radiotherapy again tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Waiting for the Postman

Toes out for the first time this year!

There has been a series of postal strikes in these parts. So none of my recent orders have made it to my door yet. Which has led to selective memory loss… and more orders. Oops!

If they all come at once, it will be very exciting… and incriminating! As well as all the woolliness I mentioned before, I added a skein of glorious handspun to my Pigeonroofstudios order. It is in my most-favourite colour, and one that I have strangely never knit with: deep dark mysterious glowing purple…mmmm! I am thinking of a scarf to wear at my freezing desk at work on those days when they have neglected to switch on the heating (almost every Monday in winter last year!). I might even combine it with the green handspun from Rebecca for the ubiquitous Chevron Scarf…ooooh!

Talking of heating – fabulous news! First Love is eligible for free installation of central heating! If you had seen me lying on my stomach trying to bale out the flooded fireplace with a ladle and a bucket a few weeks ago, you would understand just how incredibly exciting this is! No more wet sacks of coal to heave indoors, leaving sooty puddles on the floor! No more thick sooty dust over every surface in the house! No more overflowing ash cans to empty in the mornings – wow! It might take a couple of months, but hopefully it will be in before winter – woo hoo!

Where was I? Of yes…and of course I pre-ordered the new Annie Modesitt book “Romantic Hand-Knits” – published yesterday! I can’t wait for this one!

I received an email from Woolgirl with details of the sock club, and they certainly know how to whip up excitement! There are going to be contests and treats and fun things – I am really looking forward to this!

The only thing that HAS arrived is a package of tweed from a woollen mill in Yorkshire. There are seven one-metre lengths of assorted fabrics – except at least two of them actually measure 1.1 metres – bargain! I am planning a collection of funky autumnal skirts using Japanese patterns. Flippy backs, appliqué, maybe a splash of embroidery… watch this space!

Seen the new Interweave preview? Here we go again. Another “must-have” knitting magazine which will languish in a box under the bed! I really fancy the Minimalist cardigan – simple but lovely (if I can find a good yarn substitution). And the Composed Mitts. And the Snowflake socks. And the Mirepoix Bodice. And the Sweetheart Vest. Horror! I just realised I am being drawn yet again to fair-isle!

First Love’s Golf Stockings are going well. I am bashing down the leg towards the ankle at an amazing rate in k3 p1 rib, pausing only for the occasional shaping decrease. Not as many decreases as the pattern suggests. It was written for a girlish leg, not an ex-footballer’s leg! I have pulled on the brakes at 70 stitches on size 2.75mm dpns – and they seem to fit – phew! Pictures will follow!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Lots of projects

Clessidra was progressing well and then I turned the heel and the previously-snapped needle snapped again. So I am stalled until my new set of dpns arrives. First Love came home from hospital late on Friday night and remarked that he needed more socks - hooray! So I foolishly showed him my pattern collection, pointing out the Boyfriend Sock and the Undulating Rib for special attention... and then he spotted THIS in Knitting Vintage Socks!
"That's the one!" Are you sure? "Oh yes - that is the sock I want: up to my knees with a good deep cuff!" Oh. OK. Gulp. Then I gave him the pick of my stash and he chose the most unlikely dark brown / green heathered St Ives with "lovat" fair isle. Lovat? I think he meant the blueish shade but I confused Contrast 1 and Contrast 2, so it turned out to be the greenish shade.
My daughter is appalled. "That is hideous, mum!" she hissed, when he was out of hearing. But he LOVES it! There is a bit of a generation gap issue here I think. This probably reminds him of the socks his mother knitted. It is a very Scottish-looking sock. And it is actually a lot of fun to knit. First there is the discipline of the fair isle cuff, and then you turn it inside out to knit the main leg in a simple rib - absolutely mindless speedy knitting - lovely!

You might notice, however, that fair isle is NOT my strong point. I got away with my dodgy technique for Roo's Rainbow Socks ( 2 to 3 stitches per colour at most), but I am too much of a "thrower" for longer passages of "weaving up and down at the back" and my fabric develops a sort of jacquard texture... as it did on the heart heel of Cinderella's stocking. Sigh.
And here is the finished Japanese linen / cotton tunic. From the same book as before. I love it over my wide jeans. There is cream lace at the hems, home-made Liberty-print bias binding at the neck, and a gorgeous vintage button from Grandma's button box on the shoulder.