Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Short sleeves

I don't often get to wear short sleeves. Even in summer, my house is too draughty (though that should be fixed soon as we get insulation and gap-sealing as part of the central heating deal - woo hoo!) At work, my office window is hidden behind a massive tree, so even when the sun should be blazing through, we have to have the strip lights on and it is cold and damp.

However, there are so many interesting "overtops" in my Ravelry queue that I decided I need to make something to go underneath. I was inspired by a lovely top on the Anthropologie website (bottom right of photo). The original is gingham with printed swallows and has a ruffle down the front. I found a similar Burda pattern (number 7831) which takes only one metre of fabric. One metre, even for larger sizes! This makes it positively cheap to make, even with Liberty fabric!
So I dug out my precious remnant of the Liberty "Streets" print, which has line-drawings of trees and tiny birds all over it - quite Japanese-looking. I decided I didn't want ruffles. I cut it out at the weekend, in between major gardening sessions. Hopefully I will have a summer blouse before the sun goes away!

Monday, July 28, 2008

May socks in July!

So here they are at last - my May "socks from stash" for my wide-footed son. He is away in London this week so I had to enlist FL as house model.

In retrospect, I should have matched the stripes. Something about the "raw edge" at the cuff (no standard ribbing section) makes them look a bit unfinished and mismatched stripes add to this. Too late now. Practical socks for a teenaged boy. His sister whispered that the colours are a bit girly, but he chose the yarn and they will be hidden up his trouser leg most of the time anyway!

Colonial Rib from Cider Moon customers' design section (free pattern) on 2.25 mm needles, Online sport color from Ebay multi-pack.

Next up will be sock two of the Crosswalkers I began for June socks from stash. And this time I will aim for a perfect match!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Folk Socks

The other recent book acquisition which has been livening up my breakfast table reading is “Folk Socks” by Nancy Bush. I had been smitten by the Welsh Country Socks at Mustaa Villaa and have you seen Bryony’s neatly-cabled Chalet Socks? (Ravelry link) Lovely!

But I hadn’t expected to find so much local history in this book! Nancy writes about the 18th century sock-knitters of the Aberdeen area, fleshing out the comment I had read in the old Statistical Account of “my” parish while doing family tree research for my Australian lady:

“The people are in general industrious; but the knitting of stockings, which is here carried on to great extent, is too sedentary an employment, and is often hurtful to the constitution.”


It is fascinating to me that I only took up sock-knitting when I moved to the farm, and that this occupation is so embedded in its history. In the archives, I found the Barony Court records for the 1720’s. My farm tenant is mentioned several times for the non-payment of rent and other dues to the landowners, including “4 heer of tweyned yarn”. Does anyone know what a “heer” might be? I am assuming it is some sort of weight or length of spun yarn. I am afraid the tenants of this farm were habitual debtors! They also seemed to get involved in disputes over access to the bog to cut peat... I love local history!

Elsewhere in the book I read about the origin of the term “Bluestocking” and how the common people used woad or indigo to dye their socks blue. Another connection to the past! My ill-fated weedy woad plants self-seeded and I am going to get a dye “harvest” this year after all – woo hoo! So many connections with the past!

But for now I am finishing off the second socks for both of the above pairs. Long overdue, the sock love has returned!

I do fear I might have to sign up for Fyberspates' self-striping sock club...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lace and Norah

In my week away at home, there was a lot of knitting and a lot more thinking about knitting!

I had a good stock of books to fuel me. From the library: “Last Minute Knitted Gifts”, “Knitting Little Luxuries” and “Lace Style”.
Of the three, probably the only one I am seriously tempted to buy is “Lace Style”. It turns out not to be a book of shawls and scarves, but a compendium of all projects lacey. I am extremely serious about knitting the “Peek a boo Cloche" hat (Ravelry link) and I can’t believe I had not seen it before – why isn’t it the hit of the blogosphere? Two layers of DK, the top one being a beautiful lace, and the bottom being purely for insulation and “show through” colour contrast – lovely!

Three other projects from this book are tempting me. First up (all Ravelry links), the "Lacy Waves" jumper from Norah Gaughan. I would buy the book for this pattern alone. Love it. The over-elbow lace gloves - my daughter wants these! And the "Shetland Shawl Turned Vest" from Veronik Avery. Oh so pretty, but what would I wear it with? I need a wardrobe rethink, because I keep seeing delicious little slipover-type tops (Maude and Anais (Ravelry link) spring to mind) which I don’t knit because I don’t have the requisite under-layers. What kind of thing? I don’t know – maybe just a simple fitted top with opaque but lacey sleeves, perhaps flared at the wrist? Clearly I should make myself something suitable…

And of course my “Norah Gaughan Volume 3” arrived. And I bought the yarn for Eastlake. Because I have to have it. See picture! But the yarn is Sublime extra-fine merino, and I am scared it will be splitty like their merino cashmere silk aran with which I have spent two weeks of solid agitated knitting and vowed never again. I discovered that “Sublime” is just the posh arm of Sirdar. My mother told me she never knit with Sirdar because of its splittiness – pah! But I love the colour (Sloe Berry) so I will have to persevere. Maybe just not yet.

Other things I love in this book: the Eastlake scarf, the Assemblage cardigan which has super-long sleeves which I might even make with a built-in thumbhole, Calvert and Loppem. Again with the undergarment problem!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Back in the land of broadband after an excruciating week with nothing but home dial up and a lagging laptop. It is alarming how cut off I felt! I really missed the blogs and blogging!

Finished two scarves - hooray! I love the fact that they don't look knitted at all. Decided I could not face 280 stitches to knit one lengthwise so both are width-wise. Packaged up ready to post. Hope you like them chaps!

New hair! 6 inches have been chopped. Here are the before and after pics.

The hairdresser had never cut such long hair and couldn’t decide whether to kneel on the floor and pump up my chair, or drop my chair and stand on telephone directories – tee hee hee! It will never be this straight again, but at least it is an even length now.

In other news, watched Step Up Take it 2 TheStreets with my daughter. Fantastic dancing, rubbish plot!

Lots of weeding of the herb garden.

Much family tree research for lady in Australia. A few hours in the archives - yes I am a genealogy geek! It is fascinating to learn about the family who lived on the farm 250 years ago.

Yesterday I had a fabulous trip with my daughter to "Touched by Scotland" at Oyne. It is a very lovely craft shop, not at all "haggis and bagpipes" and we liked almost everything! The restaurant opened recently and the food was gorgeous. And did I mention that "The Wool Shed" has moved here too?! I wrote about this shop when it was in Alford. It is now much bigger and better. It sells so much woolly goodness!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

second scarf

At home for a week's holiday catching up on personal maintenance: hair cut, dentist, car MOT, check up at GP.

World's slowest dial up connection and a lagging laptop.

Progress on second scarf!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

His and Sir's Scarves

After my failure to knit Shedir (twice), I ditched the hat plan altogether and decided to make scarves.

In the stash (a recent acquisition) I had 2 x three-ball sets of Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk Aran (doesn’t that name just roll off the tongue?!), one in Clipper (denim blue) and one in Vintage Red. These had been bought with a view to knitting more Gretel hats, but it is clear that the yarn is far too soft and drapey. So scarves it is.

I collected “Knitting Little Luxuries” from the library last Saturday and was besotted with the herringbone stitch bag on the front cover, so decided to use the pattern for a scarf. One ball of yarn produced about 14 inches of scarf. It looks very densely-woven, but actually uses 5mm needles, so it is fairly quick to knit. The fabric is thick and soft and warm – everything a scarf should be! The only “issue” is the splittiness of the yarn, which separates out into a fan of threads at the slightest provocation.

I since discovered that the stitch pattern is almost identical to the one used for Henry (Knitty pattern), except that the herringbone weave runs in the opposite direction (warp instead of weft?). So I have a clear plan to knit one of each for “his and sir’s” scarves. I need to get moving though – this is an overdue present! The blue one should be complete tonight.

Friday, July 11, 2008

My new bag!

I needed a summery bag. Something other than the battered old briefcase I take to work, or the overstuffed pockets I take everywhere else.

Big enough to hold some knitting, a book, a few apples and all the other essentials I seem to lug around in my wake.

I wanted to make one, but I was worried about it falling apart. "Real" bags have lots of interlinings and reinforcing rivets and who-knows-what-else.

So when I saw this farmyard fabric over at WatanWatan (Etsy) I knew I had to have a bag made out of it, and that it was a job for an expert. So I commissioned Kyoko to make me a Market Bag.

Summer holidays here I come!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

UK Swap Question 4

A knitting theme this week...
What is your favourite thing that you have knit? (It might not be your favourite thing to wear but it was the most enjoyable to knit).
What is the worst thing you've ever knit?
What are your favourite knitblogs?
What is the most amazing knitted thing you have seen (
This Ravelry thread might help)
What is your favourite knitted item to wear? Post a picture if you can.Don't forget to leave a link to your post in the comments, if you answer more than one question in the same post, don't forget to leave the link in all the relevant comment sections.


Most enjoyable thing I have knitted?

Hmmm. I think that would have to be Manon. Because I had such a feeling of satisfaction at how all the pieces came together, intriguingly like a jigsaw puzzle. This was my first Norah Gaughan pattern and it definitely won't be the last!

Worst thing I have ever knit?

Without doubt this would be the acrylic dk cabled jumper I knitted for FL in.... err.... 1982. The sleeves were too short, the body was too wide and I don't know what he did with it, but I sincerely hope it is not going to turn up when I spring clean the attic... TOO embarrassing!

Favourite knitblogs?

This is tricky, because I have lots of favourites which aren't exclusively about knitting - some of them sew or - gasp! - crochet!. So I will highlight the ones which are completely monogomous:

Most amazing knitted thing I have seen?

It would have to be the knitted army tank which hit the headlines a few years back.

Favourite knitted item to wear?

It is probably my Gretel hat. You've seen it before, but here it is again anyway!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Shedir today (gone tomorrow)

So where is all the knitting Roobeedoo?

We know you were knitting in the waiting room for at least two hours and we know you spent a lot of time in the car park waiting for your daughter to finish dancing every night last week – so where’s the yardage?

Well it was like this…. I tried to knit Shedir. I tried to knit it twice. Once, I even got four inches up from the cast-on edge. But I couldn’t do it. This project did my head in. I could not memorise the pattern even for one row’s duration. I would start off in the right direction, and by the time I changed needle for the first time (knitting on 5 dpn’s) I had already lost my place. I tried stitchmarkers and bar-gate notation. Nobody was allowed to speak to me while I was holding the needles. Nothing worked. On Sunday night I ripped it out. A week’s knitting down the drain. What a relief!

I thought I would knit Koolhaas instead, as I have made one before and it looks a bit like Shedir. But the only aran-weight yarn in the stash was too soft and drapey: not enough structure for a hat.

I am now working on a scarf. It is in a herringbone stitch pattern and I am very very pleased with it. My target is to knit a whole ball’s-worth before I take a photo – coming soon!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Another wedding!

Today is a very special day for a bloggy friend of mine. Andre is getting married to his partner, Ed over in Vancouver, Canada. They invited FL and I to attend, but it was rather short notice!

Andre is currently preparing for a “mini allo transplant” to combat his Myeloma and has been on a real rollercoaster ride with this darned condition and assorted treatment regimes since September 2006. Right now, he is healthy – long may it continue!

A toast to Andre and Ed: cheers!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ancestral homes

One of the block of 3 fancy steading conversions adjacent to the farmhouse is up for sale, so being nosey, I went searching the web for the asking price. I didn’t find the house (so how do they expect to sell it?!) but I did find an archived genealogy message board posting from someone in Australia trying to locate their ancestor’s home for 1795. No, it isn’t my house, but it used to be in one of our fields!

Their house doesn’t show up on current maps, so the person searching would never have found it. I recalled a conversation with FL about how the farm used to be known as “C… and the Latch”. This person was looking for "the Latch" and gave the old parish name.
FL dug out a copy of a map from 1862 showing our house, and just to the north west, adjacent to the old drove road, a small farmhouse with a well: "The Latch". I emailed the searcher with a link to a current map, describing the exact position of their “ancestral home”. Exciting! Having spent a long time on my own family tree, and hitting a placename brick wall in rural Northern Ireland, I can imagine how this person felt.

We went out looking for evidence of the house at the weekend. My son was quite intrigued by the prospect of finding some archaeology! But the field was cleared of stones many many years ago when it was under regular cultivation. Looking at an aerial photo (don’t you just love the web!) there is a change in the colour of the grass in the right sort of area, so probably if we were to do a “Time Team” style excavation, we would uncover the well, which FL says would have been filled in with rubble from the house itself when the field was cleared. Call in "geophyz" Tony!
The same old map shows that my house had a walled garden – what a pity that is long gone!