Thursday, September 25, 2008

Christmas sock plot

The latest sock. I've knitted another 3 inches and turned the heel since this photo was taken.

It is the Undulating Rib from "Favorite Socks", using yet another ball of Online Supersocke 100 Sport Colour. These are for my son's Christmas stocking (ho ho ho)!

The directions suggested starting on a 3.5mm needle, but this was ridiculously saggy and baggy. I ripped and started again on 3.25mm which is bearable, if a bit loose for my taste. Then I changed down to 2.75mms for shaping purposes. I had just changed needles when this picture was taken.

It is definitely a good stretchy sock for a wide-footed boy. I am not entirely convinced by the dayglo yellow stripes, but they are growing on me. My son is oblivious to my knitting so these are secret socks in spite of him sitting next to me as I knit!

The plan is to knit my three pairs of Christmas socks (FL, son and daughter) at the same time - i.e. knitting each person's socks at times when they are not around. So FL's will be done while he golfs, my daughter's after she has gone to bed in the evening, and my son's at all times in between.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Double Chocolate Marshmallow Sundae

I have had something flu-like and was confined to the sofa for most of the day on Friday. So I took the opportunity to whip up something chocolatey from the stash. Comfort knitting!
This is Jyri from Norah Gaughan Vol. 1, knitted up in handspun from Handpaintedyarn dot com.
The colours were challenging - mostly browns with the occasional splash of marshmallow pink blended with midnight blue. Absolutely delicious as dessert but not so good in stocking stitch!
I turned this to my advantage by choosing a pattern which exploits the purl side. This broke up the colours so that the chocolate-iness was emphasised.
It was just like knitting a tub of Ben and Jerry's!
Yum yum yum. Feeling much better now!

Friday, September 19, 2008

I knit I sew

I finished the Spring Forward socks. Fyberspates Echo self-striping in Flower Garden, from the stripey sock club. 2.25mm dpns.

FL says they are magnificent, the best I've done!

I have also done some sewing but I'm afraid I can't show you! I was test-sewing something very cute for Ruth Singer's forthcoming book Sew Eco. Not something I would have thought of sewing myself but I love it!

Thanks for your kind comments re Feargal. We are getting used to missing him. The dog has inherited his furry tartan bed in place of the huge cold plastic bath-like dog bed he used to sleep in. I came in this morning and he was curled up fast asleep, all snug and cosy - aw bless!

I am knitting a scarf - 269 stitches of scarf! But luckily it is knit sideways so I only have 7 inches to do!

And we have been invited to a wedding so now I have to think up an outfit. Maybe I will knit a shawl... and sew a dress?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Feargal our cat was put to sleep yesterday. He had lost a kilo in weight in the past week and at last the vet diagnosed “cat HIV” i.e. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. I don’t understand why it took so long (4 vet appointments) to diagnose such a relatively widespread problem.

He was a “rescued” cat from the streets of Barking. My son named him after the book he was reading at the time we got him: "The Fall of Fergal". But I changed the spelling to "Feargal"... I'm not really sure why! It means "valiant warrior"! When he lived in London he was a troubled character. He used to fight any cat that dared put its nose into our garden. He once woke us in the middle of the night chasing another cat through our hallway, leaving clumps of fur in its wake! In those days he would not sit on our laps and would not be picked up. We sometimes wondered what possessed us to "rescue" him from the cat home!

We brought him here on the plane to Scotland when we moved – quite a drama at Heathrow when they insisted on drilling extra airholes in his supposedly “air approved” carrier! At that time we were still too scared to lift him as he would scratch and bite. They had to lock the doors of Customer Services while we took him out of his box for the drilling, in case he did a runner. You can imagine the headlines if he had escaped: "Cat in runway chaos drama!" (My London neighbour’s cat once escaped from his basket on the London Underground and brought the whole network to a standstill while they got him out of the tunnel!)

Anyway, after moving to the country and making peace with FL’s dog, he was a changed cat. For the past 4 years he let out all his aggression on the local mice and rabbits and turned into a child-friendly family pet. Every morning, he and the dog would greet each other with a sniff and a lick. But the cat remained in control and swiped the dog across the nose if he got too friendly! He was my knitting lap companion, but preferred circulars to dpns, which tended to poke him in the ear.

On Monday night he was terribly weak and FL lifted him onto his lap while reading. Unusually, Feargal accepted this. He was always suspicious of FL, as he viewed him as being in cahoots with the dog. I am so pleased that I took this photo. The vet said the kindest thing would be to put him to sleep.

Goodbye Feargal!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Babes in the Hood

One baby hoodie - complete apart from the buttons.
It's a very easy pattern and looks so effective in this yarn.
Stats: Daisy from Knitty by Stephanie Pearl McPhee. Interlacements Toasty Toes in colour "PASP", knitted using Denise circulars in size 3.75mm.
My kids are both dropping hints. My kids want hand-knitted jumpers?! It must be the hood, or the colours... or both?! I am tempted! I am thinking Colinette...
Or something like this?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Baby knit

I cast on for a baby hoodie for my neighbour’s baby on Saturday and progress has been fast and fun. It is the Daisy pattern from Stephanie Pearl McPhee and is an absolutely shameless copy of the version I saw over at Sockpron although the colourway is different.

This is Interlacements Toasty Toes in “PASP” which I think must be shorthand for something like Raspberry Passionfruit Rainbow. It is …um… very bright! But I don’t like wishy washy pastels on a baby. I would put either a boy or a girl in this jumper. But maybe that’s just me!

Anyway, it is a very quick and easy knit. The yarn is wonderfully soft and the colours are probably the brightest I have seen on a pure merino wool. It seems to go a long way too, and I am expecting to have enough leftover for something little for myself, like some fingerless mitts.

I have knitted the back and two fronts (in one piece up to the underarms) and one sleeve so just have the other sleeve and the hood to go. Must get some “Smarties” buttons to go with it!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Digging up the past

On Saturday I decided it was time to reclaim my bedroom as a bedroom instead of an all-purpose dumping ground for junk. Probably due to it being the room nearest the front door, FL comes in and drops whatever he is carrying: trailer lights, overalls, books, incoming post, golf balls, newspapers, hats, boots, deckchairs, bag of charcoal, weedkiller… you get the idea. After a discussion about allowing the children to use the room to access our brand new erratic Broadband connection (“It’s a bedroom not a computer room”) I decided to take him at his word and civilise the place. It had been getting me down for a long time. Especially the layers of newspaper on the floor by the fireplace, ready to soak up the next flood. So I got my son to help move the wardrobe (which is Victorian, is almost impossible to shift and came with the farm) and moved it away from the damp wall, so at least the wall will have a chance to dry out and my clothes won’t get mouldy. And I boxed up my books so that I could store them at the dry end of the room. And arranged the two armchairs and the sofa (excess furniture stored here as there is no room anywhere else) at the potentially-wet end in the hope that if it stays dry it will be somewhere nice to sit now that we have central heating!

So anyway, I was in the middle of all this, vacuuming spiders’ webs and scrubbing the leather chairs with anti-mould cleaner (!) when there was a knock at the front door. There stood a very frail old lady and a younger woman, asking tentatively if they could walk round the yard, because Mrs T. used to live on the farm, from 1948 to 1960! She wanted to see it again before she died. She is 86. Well, given my recent interest in the history of the place, I wasn’t about to send her away! Despite being in a state of total chaos, I invited them inside and showed them round. It was fascinating! Mrs T remembered that my bedroom used to be their “parlour” and a milk house (which FL had knocked through in the 1970’s to make one room.) She also remembered her husband falling through the floor because the parlour was so damp and that they had to get “the overseer” to replace the floor. “We couldn’t use it for months”. Ah ha! This is very interesting! There is clearly something we don’t know about the basic position or structure of the house – maybe an underground spring?

In the front room she remembered scrubbing the peat smoke stains off the ceiling, and watching the water pour off Bennachie during a big storm when “all Mrs Pirie’s chickens drowned”! I wanted to make them a cup of tea and encourage more memories, but she was quite embarrassed to have interrupted me in my mess of cleaning. I also suggested they knock at the door of the Steadings conversions as my nearest neighbour would have been kind enough to show her round the former stables, I am sure. “Oh no! We couldn’t do that!” But she told me that while she lived here, a family had arrived asking to see the stables, (“Missionaries from Africa”) and that their childhood heights were scratched on the door to the loft! What a shame that has long gone “For firewood, no doubt,” she remarked.

FL was sorry not to have been at home when they called. He would have had so many questions to ask her!

Then on Sunday, we (FL, me and the kids) went to an Open Day at Birnie archaeological dig. Every summer, the same team spends a month working on the site of an Iron Age settlement where you can clearly see the remains of a roundhouse which was destroyed in a fire. The archaeologist was an excellent teacher and brought the dig to life for quite a crowd of visitors. At the end of the site tour, he showed the “finds” – a beautiful glass bead, a tiny marble, the clasp of a belt. He also encouraged us to go to Birnie Kirk, where some old tombstones had been uncovered for one day only. That’s the photo at the head of this post. A gravestone from 1711. It is kept covered by a protective membrane and a layer of grass. See how the grass has taken on the shape of the carving?

Friday, September 05, 2008

New Look for autumn

It is definitely autumnal here. Despite sunlight blazing into my eyes at the worst possible angle, I was cold driving to work this morning. Well what do I expect in September in northern Scotland?

Continuing my pledge to avoid buying ready-made clothes, I need to audit my wardrobe for the coming season. Last year I made a batch of tweedy skirts which I still love and are still going strong. But I never did get round to making some trousers. Wide-legged tweedy trousers - mmmm! Warm and stylish, they would allow me to wear handknitted socks to work! And today I won a suitable pattern at ebay - woo hoo! I like the skirts too...

I might rustle up another tweedy skirt or two, as I have the fabric in the stash already.

And perhaps a jacket? I wonder about a raw-edged collar - is that maybe a bit dated now? Hmmm.

But I also need some woollies. I have a kilo of pine green aran-weight in the stash which was destined to become a Drops jacket - what am I waiting for?!

And I need fingerless gloves for the office - typing is getting quite painful already.

And of course there is Eastlake, waiting in the wings.

Tsk! Get yourself organised girl!

The knitting queue (all from stash!):

Present for nice neighbour's baby - due in November
Drops jacket in pine green Jamieson and Smith's aran
Socks x 3 for family Christmas presents
Fingerless gloves or mittens x 3 for Christmas presents and for me
Woolly Wormhead hats x 3 for Christmas presents and for me
Shetland Lace triangle
Did someone say Christmas?
Lots of chocolate please nurse!

Casting on tonight: Daisy hoodie (Ravelry link) using yarn from the stash. Stick to the plan Roobeedoo!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Slowing the heart rate

After finishing the gloves within my self-imposed deadline, my heart was racing just a little too fast.

I know that my knitting and my emotional state are interwoven. The higher my heart rate, the faster I knit! Last week was tricky. There was FL's m-spike, which I am trying to ignore on the principle that it is only up by 0.2 and is nowhere near the point it was at when he was diagnosed.

And there was the cat. Feargal decided he would stop eating and just sleep for two weeks. We took him to the vet 3 times. He had antibiotics, antimicrobials and something I didn't recognise with a dog on the packet (!). The only time he showed any spirit was when FL tried to get the pills into his mouth - not pretty! Now, at last, he has decided to eat again. But only top-quality "posh" cat food, and he has to be carried to his bowl from whoever's bed he has been asleep on. Please note: until he got sick, the cat was not even allowed in the bedrooms! Tsk!

It's no wonder I spent the weekend knitting like a crazy woman. I came very close to a multiple cast-on situation. Roo tried to tempt me to the dark side (lace!) and Bryony dangled the sockdown (Ravelry link) under my nose. I was sorely tempted by both! I even got the stash out and played with things: another crochet Anne scarf was begun and frogged, and I wound a couple of skeins into balls ready for Astrid or Anais. But I also felt overwhelmed by the size of the stash. When did it grow so big? Why is it not even catalogued at Ravelry?! Panic panic... gulp.

So I took a deep breath, put away my toys, made a cup of tea, and settled down with a Jane Austen audio-book and my second Spring Forward (Ravelry again) sock. Much better! Calm is resumed. One thing at a time.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A pair of long long lacy gloves

Here they are! I managed to finish the Long Long Lacy Gloves for Aunty C. at the weekend.

This is a pattern from Lace Style, but mine are in a closer gauge so look less lacy.
I used The Knittery cashmere/merino sock yarn from Socktopus, colour "midnight" and size 2.75 dpns. If I make them again I think I will go for larger needles or thinner yarn. I had loads of yarn leftover from my single skein.
I like them with the cuffs unfurled, but you can also fold them over. Since I accidentally picked up the stitches for the arm inside out, the lace probably looks better on the folded-over side. The pattern suggests sewing a line of crystal beads along the cuff edge to resemble buttons, but my tighter gauge would have made a closed cuff a bit too tight I think.
Now I just have to find Aunty C.'s address and get them in the post before she comes home from holiday!