Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pippi Long Stockings

Since finishing Manon, I have been enjoying the plain old-fashioned mindless ribbing and stocking stitch of the Pippi long stockings. And here they are! Only two weeks of easy knitting for a pair of crazy warm legs! FL thinks they are hilarious - especially when my hair is in two plaits!

Stats: On-line Supersocke Sport Color, 2.5mm needles. I used two balls for contrasting stripes, but probably only needed 150g in total. This free pattern, done in the smallest size. I might run a line of elastic through the top edge as they seem a bit baggy just above the knee. Otherwise, I like the shape, which tapers to just 56 stitches at the ankle for a snug fit.

So -what next?

Socks: FL needs more socks! His "Piece of Beauty" Gentleman’s Evening Wear socks have again broken out in huge gaping holes. There is nothing left except darning on the underside of one foot and I am going to have to concede defeat: this yarn was beautiful to knit with and look at, but is not at all hardwearing. Sniffle. So, the plan is for a pair of the lozenge-pattern from “Knitting Vintage Socks” in two colours of St Ives. Or a pair of Fratello from Austermann Step. Or Boyfriend Socks . That's two pairs of “toe-up” socks! I have never knitted toe-up, so this would be a challenge.

And unexpectedly my daughter snuggled up to me on the sofa last night and said "I love my handknitted socks... will you make me some more? Can I look through your wool sometime?" WOO HOO! She most certainly can! It is great to get some positive feedback from the kids!

Hats: Having purchased the Woolly Wormhead book, I am itching to try out her patterns for Strudel and Guimauve. But I don't have any suitable yarn in the stash... do you know how many times I have almost broken my yarn diet this month on account of this book?!

Scarf: Jyri from Norah Gaughan Volume 1 in Mille Colori bought for that very purpose.

Gloves: the ripple-cuffed gloves from “Knitting Classic Style” -probably fingerless, using sock yarn from the stash.

And by the time I get through that lot it will be time to knit some gifts for the June birthday season! Maybe I should reclassify some of the above as gift-knitting and get in ahead of the rush!

Sunday, February 24, 2008


On Saturday, I met up with the NEEPS (North East Eco-Friendly People) and collected my food co-op order. Now I have 3kg of organic risotto rice, 3 bags of organic bread flour, a huge bottle of eco clothes-washing liquid and no room in the kitchen cupboard.

I also came home with wallflowers and a chocolate mint plant - hooray! I planted these at the back of the house where the utility room used to be, as the beginnings of a back door garden. I still need to get rid of the old bath, bags of empty coal sacks, broken flower pot collection etc, but it's a start!

My son is suffering from a bad cough, which my daughter has now caught. Son has now moved on to a vomiting phase. Heart sinking - what if FL is next? Trepidation.

Knitting the second looooong stocking: nothing like the first one, but by some miracle the wide orange stripes line up with the wide orange stripes on the first one, so they strangely "go" together. Ten rows to go before the heel flap.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The VERY last sock club package!

Back in December I received what I thought was my last Woolgirl sock club package... I was wrong!

If I had been paying attention, I would have realised there were 4 shipments - and the 4th has just arrived! This means that the club was MUCH better value than I calculated, and I am now feeling like an ungrateful hussy for complaining about the import duty I paid on the parcel-before-last. Strangely, this one was valued at "$20" on the Customs slip, while the package that was seized by Customs said "$40". If anything, THIS one was the most expensive-looking!

Anyway, inside we have: a waterproof heart-print project bag; chocolate; drinking chocolate; M&M's in a heart-shaped metal box; a heart-shaped stitchmarker; TWO patterns and a skein of Zen Yarn Gardens merino/nylon mix in "Blush" (soft, sproingy - I like it!)

For the first time, I actually plan to knit the sock pattern provided. Well, one of them. Interestingly, Jen says in her accompanying letter that she was uncertain about sending this pattern because it includes cables and might be too much of a challenge. How odd! I always assumed people would join a sock club because they were already experienced sock knitters in search of new thrills, so until now the patterns have left me cold. This one has plenty of spice: cabled hearts and some sort of bobbley cuff-edge - very flirty!

P.S. I have "borrowed" the photo from another club member - I do hope she doesn't mind! Our packages were almost identical and my cd for photos is refusing to talk to my work PC. So if you think this photo is yours, it probably is... (at least I am owning up to it!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

First February sock

Despite having no knitting time this weekend, I have finished the first long stripey stocking. That's less than a week - I like stocking stitch!

The pattern is a freebie from Drops and is designed for Fabel sock yarn - which is ordinary fingering weight, self-striping. It starts off with a long ribbed section over the knee, then blends into stocking stitch, which assists with the shaping. I adjusted the rate of decrease down the leg (alright I admit it - I misread the instructions, which are translated from Norwegian and take a bit of concentration at times!) and it fits very neatly. The ankle is a much smoother fit than any sock I have knit previously, so I will probably use the recipe again (down to 56 stitches!) . I'm not so sure about the heel, which is quite square, but certainly easy to knit...

See how well this sock goes with my knitting bag from Roo?
I am casting on for sock two tonight, in a predominantly orange stripe from the same range of On-Line sock yarn (supersocke 100, sport color). It will be fun to see how the stripes line up (or not)!

Monday, February 18, 2008

The shoes!

Public service announcement:

For those of you who "need" some footbed shoes... they are by Oxygen and I bought them from Ebay (uk) direct from the manufacturer. (Just do a search on "Oxygen" and your shoe size)

An absolute bargain - so comfortable and funky and I do fear I want some more. Today I notice they have the same style in dark green! And there are some "heels in" style in... wait for it... purple!

And they smell of strawberries...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Manon is finished!

I stayed up late on Saturday night to finish Manon.

My daughter was instructed to shoot a full set of profile photos - she asked me what crime the jacket had committed! Actually...none!

As you may have gathered, the garment is knitted from the central back triangle outwards, so there is a lot of picking-up-stitches. This was the part I found hardest and most time-consuming - estimating how big a gap to leave between each stitch. There was a lot of ripping-back when I found myself halfway across a section but with a full complement of stitches already on the needle. It also makes this quite a heavy garment to knit - using circular needles would have helped.

I made some modifications. I deliberately ignored the errata and kept the panels of stocking stitch between each triangle - I think it is a much sharper look than having them just blending into each other. However, I am willing to believe this is why there is a slight bulge at the join between the peplum and the side waist - you can see this in the "face on" picture. I also misread the instructions for shaping the back and ended up with slightly too many stitches at the back of the neck, and therefore had to make the neckband extensions longer to fit. This gives it a higher back neck, but I like this: it is warmer and also quite funky (in a good way!)

Stats: Manon from Norah Gaughan Volume 1 (Berrocco) knitted in the second size (34"). I used aran-weight plant-dyed wool in Violet from Knitting4Fun and size 4.5mm needles. It is VERY warm: more of a jacket than a cardigan.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Library books

Last Saturday, I spent half a day travelling to and from the local library to collect my reserved books. That’s snow for you! But it was worth it for the subsequent hours of reading / browsing with the cat on my lap!

Fitted Knits” by Stefanie Japel got my attention straightaway. I seem to have an obsession with simple seed stitch / moss stitch / rib-type patterns at the moment and there are plenty of those in here. I particularly like the “Back to school vest” and the “Cozy v-neck pullover”, though I’m not sure they fit in to my current wardrobe: I think they look best over buttoned shirts and I don’t have any of those, not one! The vest only takes 3 balls of Cascade 220.

I also like the “Elizabeth Bennet” jacket and the “Puff-sleeved feminine cardigan” (what a terrible name!) and I know that both of those would work well with my current work style. Real possibilities here!

There's a really good review of the book here is you want to know more. And the KAL is here.

Knitting New Scarves” is an odd book. I do wonder how it found its way into the library’s collection – an idiosyncratic choice when there are so many exceptional knitting books out there but NOT in the library. An awful lot of “architectural” items (big stuffed knitted pearls anyone?) which might be worn as knitted over-sized jewellery but not really as neck-warmers, which has always seemed to me to be the point of a scarf. However, it is interesting to look through from the point of view of learning new techniques. I might give it another look. Knitalong is here.

I also reserved two books on “modular knitting”. One was dreadful. Nothing more than how to sew together squares of garter stitch to make a blanket / scarf. The second was more interesting, but compared to the directional approach of, say, Norah Gaughan, it just didn’t really excite me. Now why doesn’t the library have “Knitting Nature”? That one is high up on my Amazon wish list, now I am immersed in Gaughan-icity (Manon)!

This weekend I collect “Knitting Classic Style” (Veronica Avery) from my library reservation list. Trying not to drown myself in plans for future projects!
Almost finished Manon! One sleeve to go. Hopefully there will be pictures on Monday - woo hoo!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The things that aMOOse me

After I mentioned FL’s severe scalp-flaking problem, I had an email from Andre recommending… wait for it… UDDER cream! Yes, it is a veterinary product for cows with sore teats! After checking it was not April 1st, I did a bit of Googling and discovered that the product in question is marketed in the UK by “not just for cows”. And it sounds so intriguing and convincing I thought I would share the info here.

Apparently it is widely-used in the U.S. by all sorts of sports-people / craft-workers and is recommended for dealing with the extra-dry skin problems associated with steroid chemotherapy. FL has been using E45 cream on his feet and hands, but his scalp is by far the worst-affected area. Time for some deep-teat treatment I think!

And, remarkably, it is available over the counter at a pharmacy in a town very near to us: UDDERly amazing!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Tiddley pom

"The more it snows (tiddley pom), the more it goes (tiddley pom) on snowing... on snowing.

And no-one knows (tiddley pom), how cold my TOES (tiddley pom) are growing, are growing!" (from The Hums of Pooh, A.A. Milne)

Proper snow at last! It didn't last for long, but all day on Saturday, the farm was inches deep in white stuff.

Perfect weather for home-made bread and soup! A trip to Lidl (my new surprise shopping destination!) brought us a huge celeriac for soup and a German sunflower bread-making mix - delicious! Four people warmed-through for less than £1!
I also had a trip to the local library to collect my reserved books: "Fitted Style" and "Knitting New Scarves". (More about these another day.)On the way, I managed to get stuck halfway up the neighbouring farmer's hill. FL had told me only to attempt the hill if the tractor had been up already... well it had, but obviously it had a lot more grip than my little car, so I ended up slithering to a graceful stop when my foot was firmly pressed on the accelerator. Two Polish farmhands tried to help me, but it was no use: the hill was too steep and too icey. We gestured and smiled at each other and they shrugged a lot - clearly they don't have much English and I have no Polish! So FL had to come trudging (and puffing alarmingly!) up the hill to rescue me. He reversed me back down the way I had come and back up the other side to the "main" road at high speed to beat the ice - scary! Interestingly enough, the farmhands seemed to understand broad Doric better than English - which makes sense since the only "English" person they meet is probably the farmer! FL automatically speaks in dialect when he is hailing local farmers. I hope the farmhands don't think they are learning English from their employer!
After all this excitement I was glad to spend Sunday snuggled up on the sofa with my knitting! Manon is progressing well. I have completed the peplum, one front, and most of the back. Just a front and two sleeves to go. I have made some modifications along the way, which I will blog about when I finish. I am not used to knitting such a heavy garment in one piece, so my wrists are killing me today. Socks are definitely next on the needles!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Double prizes!

Woo hoo! I have been granted two blog-land awards from Gabrielle!

I didn't know what "Nice matters" is all about, so I had to go and investigate...
"This award will be awarded to those that are just nice people , good blog friends and those that inspire good feelings and inspiration! Those that care about others that are there to lend support or those that are just a positive influence in our blogging world! I am naming this award the Nice Matters Blog Award I will begin my naming a few of those that I feel deserve this award and I would like for those awarded to name 7 others. That is it ! Feel free to use the above button to tell everyone that someone thinks you are nice!"
Gabrielle gave me these: "for her (sic) many socks and personal fortitude in the face of adversity. "
Aw thanks Gabrielle!
Now I get to pass on the lurve... If you don't mind I will stick to the "You make my day" award, cos "nice" is not really me - that's not to say that you aren't nice people, dear nominees!
Ok, so here goes: YOU MAKE MY DAY!
Bryony at Library Girl Knits: my long lost "sock twin", whose knitting is always FAB!
RooKnits: we share a name, a love of purple and a passion for socks!
AmberMoggie: for rattling out sock after sock for her local hospice and being such a support to Mr Mog
Andre: for sharing so much information on Multiple Myeloma and for his amazing humour in the midst of it all
Lucy: who provides me with lots of ideas for local visits and child-friendly activities
Cornflower: who inspires me to read "proper" books
and finally a knitter whose blog I cannot read (it is in Finnish) but whose work is so "me":
Those are my first points of call when I am blog-surfing. I also visit lots of American knitting and crafting blogs, plus an increasing number of Finnish knitters, whose aesthetic really appeals to me. It's funny, because my son is really into Finnish "folk metal" music at the moment and one of his best friends is half-Finnish. At parent's night, I immediately identified his pal's mother across the crowded hall - she just HAD to be the one with the plaits and hand-knitted jumper... err... just like me!