Saturday, 22 December 2007

My only handmade present

This year I am slightly ashamed to admit that I only managed one handmade present. Not very ashamed, but a little bit. Normally I manage more than that, but the last few weeks have seemed very hectic and I have hardly had the inclination to think of things to make people. That has always been the problem - when I have an idea then it is all easy and I just have to figure out a way to make it, but actually thinking of that perfect hand crafted present is the real challenge.

I did manage one thing though. My housemate from University, who I visited in London not that long ago, is also a knitter. Sadly, neither of us were knitting at the time we lived together (now nearly 8 years ago, which makes me much older than I would want to admit) but since then we have both developed the habit/addiction/hobby....

And this year she is getting knitting related presents - some lovely luxuries from Purlescence and I have fashioned a needle holder for her (having duly noted comments and her discovery of 3 pairs of needles the same size, in different parts of her house, and the total loss of the size she wanted).......

Once I had conceived the idea (it took 3 weeks of deliberation and shopping and frustratingly not finding anything before the memories slotted into place and the perfect solution presented itself) it took me about 2 hours to make. And at least 30 minutes of that 2 hours was spend rummaging in boxes for the material and then searching everywhere for a pair of at least sharpish scissors. The material is an old length of silk that I bought about 4 years ago in a fantastic sari shop in Bradford, and has been waiting for a use ever since. I used some plain cotton calico to give everything some structure, and just got sewing without any particular plan.

The basic method of attack was:

2 pieces of silk and one of calico - a bit taller than my needles and about 1m long. One piece of silk needs to be about 3cm bigger in each direction so that you can make a hem at the end.
1 of silk and 1 of calico a bit shorter than my needles and the same length.

The shorter pieces were sewn together along one of the long edges, turning a nice neat hem over the top of the calico and stitching all the way through. Trim the bottom so that it all lines up nicely.

These were then sandwiched together with the longer calico and 1 piece of silk. I sewed a line along the bottom of the needle holder through all 4 layers, and then up each edge.

Then sewed a series of vertical lines to create the pockets - I did some quite wide (about 1.5 inches) for larger needles up to 15mm, and then made them smaller as I went along. There are about 20 pockets in all. Then all the edges got trimmed so that they were square and neat with no mad cotton ends everywhere.

Then I just pinned the final outside piece of silk to the pockety sandwich, made nice hems round the edge (ironed and then lots of pins) and merrily sewed round the edge.

A nice piece of ribbon sewn onto the outside makes a lovely fastening, and you have one nice and sleek and useful handmade present for a knitting friend.

I actually think every knitter needs a set of coordinating holders - 1 for dpns, 1 for straight needles and one for circulars. Maybe I'll save the rest of the material and make her another one for her birthday!

I am so enjoying being finished with work for 2 weeks with no particular plans. Not only did I get this sorted out this morning, but managed to go into town for lunch with my Other Half, clean up quite a bit in the dining room, cook soup, go shopping for chrismas treats (mmmm stollen) and purchase and decorate the christmas tree. I would be so productive if only I didnt have to work.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Not much knitting

My life feels somewhat taken over at the moment. Darn christmas! Every one at work seems to have decided that christmas is a good time to have deadlines. I have to have so much done by the end of next week it is untrue. On the plus side once that is done I have 2 weeks holiday, at home with my lovely other half. Then one week at work, then two weeks field work in the outer hebrides (I love it out there and my work involves looking at the beaches which are divine). I have booked a lovely cottage with sea views and a wood burning stove, which I am going to need because statistically it is a very bad time of year to be working out there

Yesterday was my first proper knitting time for about 2 weeks. Man flu was nearly deadly, then there was hall plastering to be done (one little bit of the ceiling left). We are trying to finish the hall and the spare room in time for our hoards of visitors at new year. It is going to be great to see some old mates but a bit tiring to get enough rooms sorted out to manage to find beds for 7 people.

But I have digressed from knitting - I about 1.5 balls of rowan 4-ply soft into a swiss cheese scarf, and having knitted the heel of my jaywalker about 5 times I finally am progressing up the end. But I had 6 hours on the train with only a little bit of work to do yesterday, so that was enough time to scheme and try different things out. It was definitely a learning experience and iI have come to understand a lot about how heels are made. Short row heels don't fit my fat ankles, I have a small gauge so there are no patterns to follow, but now I have a method and it fit's really well round on the foot, and I am made up.

My stash has also been enhanced - a couple more skeins of 4-ply soft to make a beret/sloppy garter stitch hat to go with my scarf, maybe some mittens too. A few skeins of sock yarn to go with certain new shoes in my possession, an order for some jamiesons DK in a lovely apple green so that I can make a tangled yoke cardigan, some really nice tweedy wool for something, and I have every intention of getting a large cardigan's worth of brown cashmere in the sales so that I can have a go at making a version of that gorgeous cabled cardigan out of the holiday movie.

Bring on those long dark evenings in front of the fire! I really need a holiday.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007


I am back from staying with my mother! In the end, it was all ok - my 5 days without my knitting. There was plenty of creating - my brother had a mad hatters tea party, and so we raided my mum's dodgy linens chest and made some truely outrageous hats. It was great fun. And then I made my mum get out her knitting because 3 days in to the stay I was getting very itchy fingers. My mum has been knitting this tulip cardigan for almost as long as I remember. At least 20 years anyway. The colours are really lovely (tulips are different shades of pink on a blue/grey background) - but having devoted an evening to finishing a sleeve I can quite see why it has taken her so long. It is all fairisle, and knitted in this doubled up very very fine wool she bought from a weaver. Nightmare. She only has one more sleeve to go, so on current projections should be finished sometime in 2012.

The first thing I did on returning was to get onto the knitpicks site and order some needles. I am now the proud owner of an options set AND quite a lot of their finer circulars. They are great. I am knitting socks with them. Long live the magic loop and death to DPN's! I am experimenting with making toe up jaywalkers.... the colours are lovely, the pattern is lovely, I am about to get to the bit where i have to turn the heel so it might all cease to be lovely by the time i have worked it out wrong a few times.

Other than that work is totally hectic, I am plastering the hall in our house, my husband is possibly dying of man flu....... which all means that half a sock is pretty good progress.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

I've goofed

I am staying with my mother for a long weekend (she has been gifted the harebell lace scarf and love's it). I came down on the plane yesterday, and she came to collect me from Bristol Airport, which is lovely because it is about 3 hours drive each way. Because I am away until Sunday, and then going to a conference next week, I decided to spend my last night at home for a while having some quality time with my husband.

We went for a lovely meal, picked up a programme for the theatre/nice cinema; our arts centre has spend the last 2 years shut for renovation and opened last weekend. I am really exited about having 2 cinema screens less than 5 minutes walk from my house, and being able to watch lots of foreign and interesting films. Then we spent the rest of the evening sitting by an open fire in our sitting room, marvelling at the newfound warmth. Given that I have finally nearly finished the curtains (they are still pinned at the bottom and I need to take them down and do the hems on 2 of the pairs) and have insulated under the floor finally, this is a relativly exiting activity.

I did a couple of round on the entrelac bag. It is much bigger than anticipated, and I am on the 4th ball of kureyon. I have one more left, and I think that will just about finish it off. A nice bit of stash completion if ever there was one. It is going to make a fantastic bag - lined and given handles - great for shopping.

I purposly didnt bring it with me, thinking that I might still give it to Mum for christmas so I didn't want her to see it. Instead, I have swatched in my olive and lettuce coloured malabrigo worsted weight, and washed them (learnt my lesson from Meagidh, which has grown considerably on washing and needs re-knitting - it is ok for one wear but then grows - and I think I want to alter the neckline). I wound 3 of the skeins onto balls, sorted out the needles, remembered my tape measure and knitting design sketch book. And left the swatches pinned to the spare bed - so I have everything ready to do the maths for a new cardigan, but no idea of the gauge. I could ring home tonight and get my husband to measure it for me, but quite frankly I am so worried about it not being right that I don't think I can really trust him.

But not to worry - I had a backup plan. I have a lovely skein of sock yarn - one of the october specials from Violet Green. A lovely mix of burnt orange, terracotta, reds and browns. Just perfect for some socks for me, and given that I have newly discovered the magic loop techinque, just perfect for doing a little bit more of that. But I looked through the needle collection and found that the smallest circular I have is my 3.75mm addi turbo lace. But still no peturbed, I calmly chat to Mum and determine that Get Knitted isnt so far from Bristol airport, and we have an hour to spare. And they sell Knitpicks needles. By this point I am formulating a long and complicated shopping list - possibly a set of Knitpicks options, and certainly one of each of all their smaller needles. And they have Cascade 220, which i am seriouly thinking of getting to make afghan mark 2 so that I can occasionally have a go under one; my lizard ridge has been claimed and I almost never get to use it. And Malabrigo laceweight - I could get a skein and make me one of these. Oh - it's a frustrated rural knitter's dream - especially as I have no local yarn shop.

But the plane was late and mum had to go to an art class in the evening so in the end there wasnt time. So I am stuck here with not knowing the gauge for the project I have needles and wool for, and not having needles for the other one.

I have goofed. I am facing 5 days with no knitting - will I make it? Who knows. Wish me luck!

Saturday, 27 October 2007

It's quite hard to take photos of your own head

A better knitting week for me this week. I seem to have rediscovered some of my mojo anyway! Mostly I decided to raid the stash and see what there was in it that I could make presents from, or at least small items that would give some sense of instant gratification rather than the rather daunting task of starting a sweater.

So I present the Koolhaas hat copy that is destined for my brother for his birthday. This is the only photo out of about 50 that actually came anywhere near having my whole head in!

Pattern - it's a rip off of Brooklyn tweed's Koolhaas hat, which is included in Interweave holiday gifts. I didn't buy the pattern I just saw the pictures on his blog and copied it. I totally love the way it is so architectural (being an engineer I relate to clean lines and symmetry) and interesting though suitable for a man. I cast on 132 stitches, worked in P4,k2 rib for a bit and then started twisting stitches every other row. Decreases were worked by doing a K2tog instead of a twisted stitch once every set of diamonds. I had to play around with the crown a bit to get it to lie flat, but once this has been through the machine it will be pretty good.

Yarn - some random 100% machine washable DK weight wool/acrylic mix that came from the old lady next door when she moved out. But it's machine washable, which is important for my brother, and one of the only things that I have in the stash that is man coloured.

Needles - Addi turbo lace 3.75mm - 100cm long, meaning that I worked on the magic loop for the whole hat.

Cast on - last thursday - 18th october
Cast off - Monday - 22nd october

So for this week's challenge I am experimenting with entrelac. I have never done it before, though it's rather fun. I am utilising some of the balls of kureyon that I have left over from making my lizard ridge blanket. It is a total of suck it and see really...... but fun! I am going to felt it in the end to make something nice and sturdy, that will either be so fantastic I keep it or will be a christmas gift for someone. We have a tradition of only ever giving home made presents so I really do need to start thinking about christmas now.

The other great thing that happened is that I finally managed to get my KTS4 package from the post office......... I am drinking a cup of tea from it as I type, and have just finished a chocolate from the world's most northern chocolate company!

It's been such fun swapping with Else - a fantastic match if ever there was one! Check out her blog to see the great mug I found for her!

I got all sorts of things.... drops alpaca in a fanstastic burnt orange, the most delicious cloudberry sweets, lots of cute chocolates, a great mini tea filter so that I can brew the (very lovely) loose leaf tea! A tea tin with a massive variety of different tea bags in, some norwegian snacks and more chocolate. Mmmmmmm. Thank's Else!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Mojo - lost

Well, the title says it all really! Not that much productive knitting going on here at the moment. I spent last weekend in Carbisdale castle doing a tai chi course - we learnt a lot of stuff about meridian theory, some chineese medicine stuff and did loads of push hands. I came back so chilled out that I could barely function - looking out of the window wondering at the beauty of the world and how nice all the leaves looked and didnt the river smell lovely and clean was about the pinnacle of my intellectual capability!

I want to knit, but nothing seems to be working. I am planning 3 things:

Desert sunrise - I have decided that this is going to be a cardigan, a couple of inches rib round the bottom, cute little round neck, a couple of inches ease, fitted, clean lines and nice and simple. The object of the swatching (There has been a lot of swatching, even though all of them were wrong and ended up getting ripped) is to get the colours to look right (background is staying mid -dark brown, with the contrast varying between dark red, burnt orange and into yellow), maintaining the proportions so that I have a chance of using the yarn I have and not having to buy more and still have some sort of flow. I need to rejig my chart to have 3 less rows in it and then I think it will work.

Man jumper - the sweater curse is live and well. Only it doesnt seem to be killing our relationship, just my desire to knit a jumper that is black and in 2x2 rib. I need to think of a way to make it more interesting while maintaining enough simplicity that my husband will actually wear the thing when I am finished.

Green jumper - I have enough skeins of malabrigo worsted weight to make me the desired green jumper. But I have no inspiration as to how it should work. The wool is so lovely and soft, and looks so fantastic that I want it to be just right, so I am almost afraid of starting!

And then I found this post on Brooklyntweed's blog about the koolhaas hat and thought that I just had to make one. Seeing as how no-where had the pattern in Inverness (I am TRYING to convince somewhere to sell in Interweave stuff with no luck) and I dont really like the other stuff in the magazine enough to justify buying it mail order, I just sort of set about copying it. I'm not totally convinced about the yarn I used (some random stuff I have inherited, which is some sort of wool/acrylic blend I think in green/blue) or the decreases, but overall it worked pretty well. I am rather proud of myself, and it will do perfectly fine for my brother's birthday, which is in a couple of weeks time.

On the other hand not having that much time dedicated to knitting, means that I have got my parcel all wrapped and ready for my KTS-4 swap partner, Else, so that can go in the post on Monday. And it means that our new window has had a coat of paint, there are two more curtains in the sitting room (only 2 to go, but I have lost extra red cotton so had to stop), our stag antlers have finally been put on the wall (a "quick job" that took 2 hours) and there has been plenty of exiting and interesting baking this week! Obviously this is what other people do when they dont knit.

Photos another day - the husband is out with the camera!

Thursday, 11 October 2007

New Project Fortnight

I have been hatching a plan today at work - and drawn a HUGE chart.

And tonight I didn't get any knitting done but I did get to wind some wool into balls. I have decided that it is about time I got a ball winder, because I really really wanted to start a swatch but instead I have just been winding, winding and winding some more!

So here we have several skeins of Jamieson shetland jumperweight wool. This was a fantastic deal - I had to spend a few days in Lerwick for work in the spring (I only meant to be there one night but it got foggy and so I was stuck there for an extra day, and then had to get the ferry which takes 15 hours and leaves me in Aberdeen which is still basically 3 hours from home, rather than an hour or so on the plane) and I was soooo bored until inspiration struck and I went looking for the wool shops. There are lots and lots of shops selling boxy fairisle jumpers, and then finally I found one that would sell me wool and needles. Problem solved!

This selection came in a bag called Desert Sunrise or something similar, and I added a couple of extra yellow balls to the mix for some brightness. There were 2 skeins that didn't quite fit with my intended colour scheme.......

This is my first new project on which I am going to be experimenting. I have done a couple of fairisle things, so happy with the techniques, but this will be the first proper jumper I have done. Or maybe cardigan. Who knows - first I have to swatch.

But this is going to be the first of several casting projects over the next wee while, because it is going to involve carting round many balls and lots of concentration, so I am going to start a couple of easy things as well for in between times.

The other thing I have done is sign up to the knitters tea swap...... shopping soon so that I can post to my partner, Else, who lives further north in Norway than I previously realised existed. They already have snow up there so knitting season has well and truly arrived!

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

And then there were two.....

Finished object alert.......

Well, my first finished sock has a sister now!

Some statistics:

Yarn - Colinette Skye in shade Neptune, two skeins
Needles - 3.75 addi turbo lace (these have featured a lot in my life recently)
Pattern - Made it up with advice from several google searches.
Cast on - last week!
Cast off - just now (again)

So that I have it written down somewhere.....

Cast on 20 stitches using judy's magic cast on. This was the first time that I have ever used it (my last abortive sock had a short row toe which had gaping holes down the side and was the reason that I never got beyond mid sole) and it is an invention of shear genius. Quick, simple, easy to remember and oh sooooo effective.

Then increased 4 stitches every other row 5 times, until there were a total of 40 stitches.

Gusset - increase 2 stitches every other row 9 times. This is more than average as a proportion of the total stitches but I seem to have fat ankles. Next time I might try more.

Heel..... guess! They are both subtly different, but worked in slip stitch. Next time I will take more of a note as I am going along because I have no idea now.

Then work 2 inches, and start increasing every 5th row.

See - pretty increases to fit round my bulging calf's! I would say fat calves, but they are the one bit of me that is actually mostly muscle, we do quite a bit of cycling and walking. After 10 lots of increases, start rib until the wool has nearly run out.

I cast off the second sock so many times. The first one I just did a standard cast off loosely and while it looked fine on, was very saggy when the sock was taken off. Resorting to my Knitters Handbook and deciding against a sewn bind off I tried one that involved decreasing stitches. Not quite stretchy enough. So armed with a needle I started off on my first attempt at a tubular bind off in double rib. It said I should be good at grafting (I am not) and able to do it with single rib (have never attempted) but I thought that after a glass of wine it would all be fine. And I am quite proud of myself - it's not 100% even but for a first attempt it's ok. And the actual method is again pure genius, neat, stretchy and so much less obvious than any other method.

I still might sew soles on these, but at the moment I am enjoying wearing them too much to bother (and I need to try and figure out where I can get some suitable leather, or decide to sacrifice some jeans or something).

I have nothing on my needles and I'm not sure what is coming next. Unusual for me, but the intense concerntration at the end of this project meant that I had no time to daydream about what was coming next.

Either a malabrigo jumper for me, or something out of rowanspun 4-ply or the black man jumper. Who know's which way the wind will blow!

Friday, 5 October 2007

My first ever finished sock!

This is my first ever finished sock!

And I was so exited to have finally finished one that I immediatly cast on for the second. I have read a lot of second sock syndrome tales in the knitting blog world and feel it is important to maintain momentum at this stage. Normally, I have suffered from first sock syndrome, I once turned a heel on a pair of very short top down socks, but I never got anywhere near finishing one. So this, I feel, is me coming out and being presented to the knitting society at my debutante ball!

I made the socks toe up. I like the concept of knitting until one runs out of wool. This made them quite long, but that was sort of hoped for; I truly didn't have a clue how much wool there was in a skein and how much sock it would make.

But as you can see they are well above calf length, but not quite knee high. Being made of sort of worsted weight wool, with 3.75mm needles (a lot smaller than the suggested 4.5's, but I am intending on getting a fair amount of wear here and tighter normally lasts longer)

Most likely I am going to wear these as sort of sock slippers for lounging round the house. As you can see from the state of the unsanded and wood worm riddled floorboards in my sitting room this is going to give the poor things a certain amount of heavy wear. So much that I am seriously considering sewing some sort of either leather or something else hard wearing to the soles as protection. Kind of a more colourful and cheerful version of those nepali sock slipper things my mum wore in the days when I was young.

As you can see my second ball of wool is behaving rather differently to the first. I don't mind this at all, and the exitement of seeing what is going to happen to the pattern on the next repeat is great. Plus if I am going to get all into these handpainted skeins of pure luxury then it is just something you have to love.

But the whole sock knitting thing is mostly down to my recent discovery of the magic loop method of knitting in a circle. How great it is and how much easier is it to control than all those pointy and spikey dpn's? (Lots!) How did I not know about it until a few weeks ago? (Ignorance and not enough blog reading)

So, sock knitters of the world - I owe you all an apology. I thought you were all mad, and I am starting to have my suspicions that you were right all along. I still think I am going to knit jumpers, but the odd pair might be slipping into the equation every so often, and it gives me the perfect excuse to buy some lovely colourful and fantastic wool.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Beautiful Harebell Lace.......

Another finished object has risen from the blocking bed....

Modelled on my apple tree....

And on my garden bench.

Finished Object Stats

Yarn - Laceweight Merino from Yarnsnob (100g skein - I had 11 yards left)

Needles - 3.75mm addi lace turbos, 80cm long

Pattern - Harebell lace Fichu from Victorian Lace Today - heavily modified (some explanation later on)

Cast on - 11 August

Finished - 27 September

Finished Dimensions - 13" by 64" after blocking

This is a picture of the origional pattern.

I took the harebell part of this chart, and knit 25 repeats of 4 sets of it across the scarf. These were offset so that the difference in stitch numbers was evened out.

I then knit on the picoty pointy border using the same attachment method as the myrtle leaf shawl.

And the combination makes a lovely squishy warm scarf that is just perfect to be a birthday present for my mum. Her birthday has already been (and she has no idea I have a blog) but I will deliver it in person in about a month!

The next project has been conceived - I have 2 skeins of Colinette Skye in neptune colourway, and I am going to make bedsocks!

Thursday, 27 September 2007


I have just finished (having taken queen of froggers advice and knitted faster and faster) with 11 yards to spare. What a relief.

Now I just have to graft something that has slip 2 k3together and yarnovers in it.

See you in about 15 hours when I have done it wrong about 56000000 times. I hate grafting.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Am I going to make it?

I have been frantically knitting all night - and I am now very very worried....

(I still love the border and think that the picot pointy edge is fantastic)

Though it doesn't totally come across in the picture, I have two corners and one end of edging still to apply, and there really isn't that much wool left. The former fat and squishy centre pull ball has only a few turns left. I have weighed on my kitchen scales, but that was inconclusive because they only weigh to 1g accuracy and that isn't accurate enough to be able to do any calculations. I tried. I can only hope........

See the photo from before the weekend - nearly 1/3 of the way up the side of the scarf and there is a comforting thickness to the ball. This edging is really really eating up the yards! I didn't expect to be anywhere near in this position considering that I had only used a smidge over half when I started the border.

Keep your fingers (and toes) crossed for me - I have to go to bed now, be up early in the morning to go on a site visit (and the forecast is good) and then I have tai chi in the evening (regular class followed by an extra hour with my teacher) so it is going to be ages until I can solve the will she/won't she mystery.

My (ever optimistic) view is that there is going to be JUST enough wool, and there is always my swatch!

Thursday, 20 September 2007


I am really really really tired. I had a day off work today to put a concrete floor in our cellar.....

I know it is a really fuzzy dark photo, but I am too tired to do anything about it (like get up and walk to the cellar to take another one). Anyway, a very very nice man came with his concrete lorry with it's very long chute and dropped about 4m^3 through the window. So even though we didn't have to carry the concrete anywhere, there was an awful lot of shovelling involved. But it is a very good floor, flatter than I could have hoped (flatter than any other floor in our wonky old house) and means that we can put the wall back together (only half this room is ours, the other half belong to next door) and finally be my utility room.

This afternoon I was bushed, but managed 3 hours vegged out on the sofa, comforted by my lizard ridge blanket, adding edge to the harebell lace shawl. Nothing very interesting to say about it (the pattern is very pretty, I have made lots and lots of picots, even slip2 k3tog psso doesn't go too badly on the wonder addi turbo lace, and there are lots and lots of repeats to go).

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Weekend Distraction

Mostly this weekend I have been distracted from everything that I should be doing. I finally finished stripping, sanding and finishing a cupboard that I rescued, when clearly judging by the state of the washing pile I should have been sorting the washing and doing the ironing.

Then my brother in law phoned to announce that we have another niece as of yesterday. We have been designated as god parents, so on finding out that it was a girl of course needed to knit somethings. I am really looking forward to having a god daughter - so far everyone I know has managed to produce boys, so it was a welcome change to be able to knit in pink! I am really exited about being able so spoil/be a bad influence/knit for a girl.

Introducing the very pink stripy hat.........

Finished object statistics....

needles - 3mm addi turbos, 80cm long
Yarn - King Cole anti tickle merino in shades 1, 146, 67 and 29 (white, salmon, fuschia and a slightly pinky red).
Pattern - made up as I went along, inspired by one that I saw someone else knit, but I have no idea who it was.
Cast on this morning and took about 6 hours to complete - with a break to bake coffee and walnut cake in the middle.
Gauge - 7 stitches per inch
Finished circumference (unstretched) - 12.5 inches, which is sort of large newborn size.

The pattern was really simple. Cast on 90 stitches, and join in the round. Because this was always going to be a fairly simple little project I thought I would try out some new skills and so knit it all using the magic loop technique.

Knit 1.5 inches in red. The colour sequence goes salmon, white, fuscia and then back to red.

The stitch pattern is 1 row purl and then 5 rows knit. This makes very pleasing little bumpy coloured lines where the colours change. I also slipped the first stitch after the purl row to make a sort of jogless join.

Work until the desired length (in my case the red starter row and the four stripes) - 90 stitches.

The decreases are all worked on the last row of the stripe. Change colour (to salmon for me) purl one row, knit 4 rows and then work one round of knit 4, k2tog (75 stitches).

Change colour (white), purl 1 row, knit 4 rows and then work one round of knit 3, k2tog (60 stitches)

Change colour (fuschia), purl 1 row, knit 4 rows, and work one round of knit 2, k2tog (45 stitches)

Change colour (red), purl one row, knit 4 rows and then work one round of knit 1, K2tog (30 stitches).

Change colour (salmon), purl one row, knit 4 rows, and then work another round of knit 1, k2tog (20 stitches)

Change colour (white), purl one row, knit 4 rows, and then again work a round of k2tog, k1 (this will end with a k2tog) (13 stitches)

Change colour (fuschia), purl one row, knit 4 rows. Work a round of K2tog, k1 again ending with a k2tog (8 stitches). Knit 4 rounds. K2tog four times (4 stitches). Work about 2 inches of 4 stitch i-cord, break thread and pass through the 4 stitches pulling tight to secure.

The russian splice does have one fantastic advantage, which was that the only finishing required was to darn in the end from the casting on. I generally thought it was a bit of a pain in the ass, but once I had got into the rhythm it wasn't too bad. It is worth a bit of practice of working out where the join is going to fall and getting the colour change in the right place. Bear in mind that it did tend to move a bit on the next round for me. By the top of the hat it was all looking pretty good though.

I did like the magic loop as well, not so sure I don't prefer 2 circulars, but this did have the advantage of only needing on needle and not having so much dangle. Definitely more portable.

The hat is great fun though, and I think it is going to be repeated in a slightly larger size for my brother's girlfriend this christmas. The decreases worked exactly how I intended in that they give a point at the top of the hat but aren't silly santa hat shape. I might even quite fancy one myself (in green though.....)

Much progress has been made on the harebell scarf as well...... another few repeats of the main pattern brought me to the point where I had to start experimenting with the edging.

I had a look at a few books for some ideas, but in the end I decided to use the outside portion of the origional chart. Miles and miles of picots ahead! I am applying it using the same join as on the myrtle leaf shawl - which is joined on the front of the scarf rather than the normal method on the back. I quite like the effect though. What do you think?

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Lots of shopping......

If I had a camera this post would be full of photos.......

I bought a lovely pair of shoes in the sales this summer. It was total love at first sight and even though they were green I just had to have them. Green and olive with flowers on them.

But then I realised that I dont have very many green clothes at all, so the natural reaction was to go yarn shopping and think about starting me a jumper. I found some lovely green malabrigo worsted weight in lettuce, with a skein of oliva for some contrast. No definate plan, but I'll get there!

And then today at lunch time I accidentally discovered a fantastic felt handbag from one of my favourite shops.... (no picture on the web of the bag, but it is totally fantastic) and I am thanking the god of credit cards that the red boots werent available in. my size (they had a pair of the knee high ones in non patent red leather - divine).

On the knitting front plenty of hours put in, and another 10 repeats on the harebell lace scarf to show for it. I am half way along the skein, and I think another 5 repeats should be enough before I have to decide what border to do. I am back to thinking that the outside section of the origional harebell lace pattern could be knitted on in all it picot glory, having been round the houses a bit on other edging possibilities. I will have another think in 5 repeats time!

Friday, 7 September 2007

Secret Hat for my little sister

I have finally finished something - a hat for my little sister for her birthday. In fact this is a minor miracle, because there are still 3 weeks to go until her birthday, so this time there is a vague chance that she will get it in time!

Finished object statistics......
Wool - some random 4-ply shetland wool bought very cheaply from ebay, in Bright Pink and Bright red. Also the end of a skein of sock yarn that I dyed myself ages ago.
Needles - addi turbo circulars, 3mm in various lengths.
Pattern - made up as I went along (more about that later)
Cast on - earlier this summer
Cast off - yesterday!
Tension - 8 stitches and 8 rows per inch

The pattern was remarkably simple and went like this:

Cast on 160 stitches using a provisional cast on in pink wool and join in the round. Purl one round, and then knit one round. Then make up some patterns using a piece of graph paper (making sure you can fit the repeats into 160 stitches). I went for naughts and croses, and then some lettering (can you guess what my sister is called) to add a personal touch, and then another repeat of the naughts and crosses.

The top section of the hat is knit from a very simple pattern with a 4 row repeat, diagonal crossing lines in pink. This is nice and easy to remember! When the desired length is reached (I did just a smidgen less than 5") place 8 markers evenly round the circumference of the hat (every 20 stitches).

Decrease round - knit to 2 stitches before the marker maintaining the pattern, k2tog in red. Repeat 8 times.

Knit one round in pattern (making the stitch before each marker red). When there are too few stitches for the 40cm needle move to knitting either on 2 circulars, or dpn's or a magic loop.

Repeat these two round 9 more times.

Work 10 decrease rounds. Break yarn, pass through the 8 remaining stitches and pull tight.

Place the stitches from the provisional cast on on the 40cm needle (picking up one extra stitch at the join) - you should have 160 stitches, and join the sock yarn. Mine was 100% cashmere and very soft, but choose something that will prevent any itchy forehead (cotton or silk would have preferred but I didnt have any in the stash) and preferably unsuitably bright!

For the first round, knit 8 k2tog. Repeat 15 more times. (144 stitches)

Knit in the round for some depth - I chose to end when I reached a stripe of plain knitting in the hat, just above the lettering. Whip stitch the live stitches to the purl bumps on the inside of the hat, remembering to miss out 1 purl bump in every 10 to make up for the decreased stitches.

Block and wear (or give to someone as a present)!

Monday, 3 September 2007

A week minus husband

So I survived my end of week working in Belfast (only just mind, it was a close run thing - I got hideously lost driving round some one way nightmare looking for my hotel, but I got there in the end) and made it back home. In a drive to only take hand luggage I left my knitting behind so it feels like weeks since I have even touched the needles.

But the good news on that front is that I have a whole 2 weeks mostly to myself and so there should be plenty of scope for sitting down and getting stuff progressed.

I am going to start with finishing my sister6's birthday hat, and then fingers crossed make plenty of progress on the harebell lace scarf. Having had an enforced break I am now raring to go!

But no pictures for a while because of course himself has naffed off with 'our' camera. Hrumph.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

The blanket bites!

Last night, in the time it took me to down load the photos from the camera and write the post, the blanket monster bit Dr Sweetpea........

Not knitting (visitors next week so trying to organise the hovel and wash the spare sheets) and I have to go to Belfast again so the next few days have been hecticed. Getting back on Saturday (grrrrrrrrr) so the weekend is only going to be 3/4 of a weekend.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Lizard Ridge Returns

Now here is a finished object from a while ago (well, earlier this year)........

Introducing Lizard Ridge Afghan.......

Needles - 5.5mm addi turbo circulars
Yarn - Kureyon in lots of colours (I don't have the ball bands so I don't know)
I made 25 squares and each one used an entire ball, so there would have been 25 balls.
Cast on - some time in March
Finished - last week.......

......because even though the knitting was done a good few months ago, I discovered that though I do a lot of crafty things and consider that I am relatively dextrous, I can't crochet for toffee. So I made a swatch and had a few goes of doing the edging, but the tension was all over the place and it looked dreadful. But then a fantastic friend (who I met on the Archers discussion board, yes I am old before my time) offered to do it for me. So all I had to do was pack it in the box, and last week it arrived back home fully and neatly and perfectly finished.

I am never doing crochet again!

I love this afghan. I am amazed that I ever started to make it. I have always thought that the colours in kureyon were amazing, but I really wouldnt ever wear anything made out of it. And I have always thought that the miles and miles of stitches (mostly stocking stitch) made afghans a really silly knitting idea. But there was something about the combination of two things that I didnt really like which produced a pattern that was sublime, charming, seductive and utterly compelling.

Knitting in squares meant that each individual piece was portable, and at the end of each one you got the feeling of finishing a whole object! The sewing wasn't too bad..... I like mattress stitching, and actually enjoyed it (I spent one whole weekend sewing miles and miles).

And the best thing about it is that this was the knitting that convinced Dr Sweetpea that it was all a good idea. He thought I was dotty when I started, and continued to tease throughout, but the first monday I came home after it was finished I found him curled up in an arm chair snuggled under it and he was converted. It is now really hard to pursuade him out from under the dreaded blanket monster!

Monday, 27 August 2007

Wedding Photos!

Here are some photos from the wedding...

The bride looking beautiful and wearing the Myrtle Leaf Shawl

And again....

And again - wasnt the weather lovely?

And there was plenty of alcohol! The shawl was admired by many, appreciated by the bride who had to stand in the shade for photos for quite some while, and it looked lovely and went really well with the dress. Well done kerrie for the dying and well done me for thinking of it in the first place!

Monday, 20 August 2007

A sneaky little bit of knitting.....

Well....... I really really wasn't going to taking any knitting with me this weekend, but the harebell lace scarf snuck it's way into my bag and I accidentally ended up taking it with me. And as the weather was awful on Saturday there was enough time to finish a few repeats! I am really liking the way the colours are making stripes across the whole scarf.......

A dry blocked measurement shows that each repeat of the pattern is just over 2" long, so I am looking at doing about 25 repeats before thinking about a border. 8 down so only 17 to go. About 2/3 of the way there!

But the hotel was lovely, the food was totally fantastic even though the portions were so enormous that we both ended up feeling rather bloated. The breakfast included hot chocolate that was 50/50 milk and melted chocolate. Very very lovely, but rather rich for first thing in the morning. Anyway, if you are ever hungry and in the highlands and fancy a really nice place to stay in the highlands then I would defiantly recommend Grants!

This week is going to be low on exiting knitting - I am off to belfast for a night, and that is going to disrupt things totally. Sometime I really need to graft that other sleeve or I am going to have 2 odd lengthed sleeves and that is going to look most odd.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Was it worth it?

Please tell me that.....

..... this..........

......looks better than this?

Because that extra 4 repeats of twisted stitch rib took most of last night to knit (20 mins) and graft on (2000000 hours). Only one more to go, and then I really am going to call this cardigan finished.

Off on holiday for the weekend! Yey! It's a surprise for Dr Sweetpea, who sort of half believes me when I say that we are going camping in caithness (flat peat bog country) for the weekend.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Putting off the inevitable

You know what? We are having opposite weather to most of the rest of britain at the moment. Today - lovely, pleasant, sunny with fluffy white clouds and plenty of midges. Most of the rest of Britain - raining and windy.

But one has to take advantage when you can, so I spent a couple of very lovely hours chilling out with my tai chi mates (or the Bellfield Ninjas as we like to call ourselves) doing some practice. It has become clear to be that I need to practice more. I do try, but the weather really needs to cooperate at least a little bit. That sounds like a rather pathetic excuse - what I really need to do it get my arse in gear to tidy a space big enough to practice and then just get on and do it.

Apart from that I am spending time putting things off:

  • I need to knit some extra sleeve for Meagidh, and graft them on.
  • I need to sew on the last couple of belt loops on the kilt, take it to the dry cleaners and get it pressed.
  • I badly need to get out a very old WIP fairisle hat I am making for my sister (for her birthday which isnt that long away)
  • I need to go shopping (we don't even have a tin of tomatoes for pasta sauce for dinner)
  • I need to do the ironing
  • I need to hoover the bedroom and hang out the washing
  • I could even knit lace, but that means reading off the screen because I havent got round to printing the chart.....

But instead I think I am going to hang around doing not an awful lot, catch up with the archers (bless listen again on BBC Radio 4), wait for Dr Sweetpea to cook for me after going to the corner shop for tomatoes and look at all my new yarn. I wonder if the ironing will do itself if I wait long enough?

But my sweetpeas smell divine.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Racing for the finish line

Well, trust me to like the most expensive buttons in the shop..... (and decide to use 12 of them)

But I did really like them.......

The shoulder shaping worked really well though........

But the sleeves are a little bit too short so I think I am going to knit 4 repeats extra and graft it on to the bottom. At least most it fits.

On a wool shopping front, a great big pile of black merino dk arrived and is going to form the basis of the man jumper. But I don't think I am going to start that for a little while - this weekend is his birthday and we are off for the weekend (no details, it's a surprise). As it is his birthday I am going to try very very very hard not to knit anything and just spend some time chilling together.

Anyway - the yarn snob commented yesterday that she has never knitted with lace yarn. How can she bear to have all that lovely squishy merino goodness in divine colours and not be tempted to knit it? I really really encourage anyone who is too scared to have a go - a lot of patterns are only made of yarn overs and k2tog/ssk - with plain pearl on every other row. All you need is to make a swatch, read the chart carefully, count your stitches lots and always use addi lace turbo's! Be brave, it's worth it.