Saturday, July 21, 2012

Home Again, Home Again

Actually, I've been "home again" for quite a while now but what with the start of "Le Tour", the Olympic Torch coming right past the house and the incessant rain, there hasn't been much time/inclination for blogging.

I've been knitting, though.  Oh, Yes.

I finished the Good Day Sunshine Challenge:

Here, she is reclining in the garden in one of the rare moments that the rain is not tipping down.  Sadly, she remains unblocked.  I really don't know how I'm going to deal with the area around the neck - it just isn't the right shape and that's after I modified the pattern on my second start.  I feel slightly bad that I haven't quite finished this because the challenge was to do it within one month (i.e. by 14th July).  It was finished...

I've been chugging away on the Mona Lisa but there really isn't much to show - and I'm still waiting for the remainder of the yarn.

A while ago Nicky at my LYS gave me this:

delicious Botany Lace from Araucania in my perfect colours, but only with the proviso that I knit something for her from this:

Well, I don't want to give the game away completely (just in case she's reading) but I have made something.

A rather nice something, if you ask me (not that anyone did):

and (because it's not the same without a bit of lace, is it?):

I'm not showing the whole thing because I don't want to give the game away completely.

Babies seem to be springing up all over the place.

These are for the daughter of a friend of mine:

The yarn is  Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball colour Tropical Fish.  I bought this ages ago, so long ago that I can't remember where, and it's been waiting to tell me what it wants to be.  Finally, it spoke and told me it wanted to be Ann Budd's "Better than Bootees Baby Socks"

I followed the pattern on the first sock (which actually isn't shown here - there are going to be four socks in total) but the short-rows for the heel and toe were a right performance (never mind what Priscilla Gibbson-Roberts says).  So on the second and all subsequent socks I have used the plain and simple short rows that are deconstructed here.   I rarely use short rows for heels because they don't fit me (or 'im indoors for that matter), so I hadn't really got down to the (k)nitty gritty on them but the link above really does tell you all you need to know (and possibly more than some people would care to).

The pattern was first published in Interweave Knits, Summer 2005 which brings me on to my big whine of the day.  I have a subscription to IK from Newsstand (no link- I would not encourage anyone to have anything to do with them.)  Instead of sending me IK Spring 2012 they sent me Knitscene.  I remonstrated.  They said there had only been a crochet special.  Not True.  This morning a package dropped through the letter box.  Looks like Interweave?  Yes, but it's not - it's that b****y Knitscene.  Again!  I have sent a stiff email.  I await their response with interest.  In the meantime:  Newsstand.  Bargepole.  You have been warned.

Off to watch the Tour (where our boy, Bradley Wiggins, is poised for success - unless he manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, as the Brits so often do.)  I don't really mean that.  I just don't want to put the commentators' curse on it.  Go Bradley!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Is that a Frog?

I'm going to Spain tomorrow (and if Burglar Bill is reading, no, the house won't be empty) to stay in this delightful spot near Malaga, so this will be a very short post, just to keep you in the loop.

Work on the Mona Lisa has been temporarily halted because I discovered I had inadvertently purchased a ball of Double Knitting and a ball of 4-ply.  Doh!

Work has stopped completely on the "I dare you to knit this" pattern.  (Good Day Sunshine from Knitty)  The yarn just wasn't right for the job, and even though I had my doubts from the start, I just kept right on knitting.  Eventually, I bowed to the inevitable and out came:

Yes, it is a frog.

I have treated the green monstrosity as a large swatch (Yes, you heard right) and I have modified the start and the selvedges.

I have begun anew:

This is much more like it and it also has the merit of being yellow (which is a bit of a better fit for sunshine than green).


I don't know what the yarn is.  Wool, probably; a gift from a customer, definitely.

Finally, it's Saturday and for once you get this on the right day:

The sheep have gone (mainly because I found them all wandering round the garden at work the other day).

And I'm going too, because I need to pack.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Like Buses

You know how it is - you're waiting for a bus and then three come along together.

I spent so long waiting for my pattern from the Calling all Knitters group and I found myself in the yarn shop and I'd been thinking about the Mona Lisa and, well, I must confess, I bought yarn.  So I started to knit it:

I know it doesn't look much at the moment but it will, trust me - I'm a knitter.

A close-up:

(still not much to see).  It's actually a bit brighter in real life

Then the pattern came through from the "I dare you to knit this" department and I had to root through the stash to find just the right yarn for the job.  (Though the day before, when I was in aforementioned LYS, Nicky told me that if I needed yarn urgently I should just give her a call and she would open the cavern shop, just for me.)
As it turned out, there were several candidates for the job:

 Some Arucania Botany Lace in pink.

Same again in brown/green.

Some sock yarn (perhaps best left for socks).

Some sparkly stuff (tt) from Wingham Wool Works at the last SkipNorth.

Eventually, I decided on this anonymous green stuff (tt) - it weighs 60gr but I have no idea of the yardage, so let's hope I don't run out on the last row.

 I don't usually like variegated yarn for lace but I don't think this is too busy.

The start is quite closely woven, which I don't know if I like:

but the idea of the sun and the rays coming out of it needs a dense beginning so I'm happy to go along with it for now.   I'm not looking forward to the knit 7 together (shades of the "nupp", which we now know rhymes with "soup" and not with "cup" as I had always thought.  I had that from Nancy Bush's own mouth and, being the queen of Estonian Lace, she should know.)

That sparkly (tt) stuff that came to light might just have to turn into something with ice, or icicles, or snow, or snowflakes, or something along those lines.  I was thinking this Frozen Leaves but am open to any suggestions.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Somewhat Stalled

I answered an advertisement in the local paper for "Knitters Required" and I met L, who keeps Jacob sheep and wants to start processing the fleeces and producing items from the yarn.  I made a lacy scarf for her:

I think Jacob yarn is a bit scratchy (tt) for a garment to be worn next to the skin but under a coat collar it would be fine.  She's pleased with it anyway.  She'll be having a stall at the Leamington Peace Festival this weekend, so if you are nearby you could go and say hello.

I've also been battling on with the Olympic figures for Nicky.  I volunteered to sew some up (sew??  What was I thinking???).

Here's Henrietta, getting ready to compete in the dressage event:

and from the back:

There's a hurdler (complete with hurdle) to go and then I am done.

There's been the obligatory sock (for 'im indoors):

Sorry about the fearful dark picture - the weather here has been so bad that we have had the light on by 3.30 in the afternoon.  This picture was actually taken outside just after nine this morning and it's still dark.  The saving grace?  It's not actually raining (yet).

Here's a close-up of the basket weave pattern on the leg:

I think I'm going to run out of yarn, so I used another yarn (from the huge sock yarn blanket bag) to finish the cuff on sock #1.  I don't think it's too noticeable:

All this fiddly (tt) stuff has meant that I haven't really be able to do any "proper" knitting - by which I suppose I mean something that I have chosen to do.  Now I'm like a rabbit in the headlights and can't think of what I want to make.  Help may be at hand, however.  I found a group on Ravelry called "Calling All Knitters". 

This is what the blurb says:

 Ok, so here is the game. Sign-up in the current sign-up thread and you will receive a message with a link for a knit project that I dare you to do. You must complete the challenge within a month maximum. So, do you think you’re up for the challenge?

 As soon as I see the word "dare" and mentally hear the sound of the gauntlet being thwocked (tt) down, I'm in.  I signed up for the first wave and should be receiving my challenge some time today.  It will probably be late on, since the moderators are in Colorado and Georgia, so between five and seven hours behind me.  I hope they are early birds because I can't wait to get going.  It's not a KAL (good, because I'm not a big "joiner") - everybody gets their own project based on their experience and if you don't like the project you can ask for another one.  You just need to complete your given project within one month and post a picture of it when it's done.  Genius.

The secret will be revealed tomorrow.  Watch this space.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Shipston Wool Fair

The weather was beautiful (unlike last year, when it rained without cease).  These are Portlands and they certainly looked cooler after the shearing:

I think this is a Herdwick: (but I could be wrong  - don't quote me)

I was seriously tempted to bring home one of these:

because I saw this:

It was only when #1 son reminded me that we were travelling on the bus that I thought better of it.   More info about Wensleydales here.

There was a fair amount of knitting:

Here I am knitting with skinny (tt) yarn on skinny needles.

Then I saw Nicky's knitting:

Talk about from the sublime to the ridiculous:

We modelled the "Shipston Hat" - made from sheep to head in one day last year:

I took the opportunity to photograph the lace bolero I made for Nicky's shop, Shipston Needlecraft:

It really was a lovely day.

News of yarn purchases (yes, really!), knitting and Jacob Sheep will have to wait.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Going for Gold

Between the Jubilee and the Olympics it's wall to wall Union flags over here.  I'm trying to avoid the worst of the madness but when I saw this I was seriously tempted.

#1 daughter is egging me on; she's also invited all her friends to come over and see the Olympic torch go right past our house.

I've also been co-opted (though if truth be told, I was a volunteer) into making some "athletes" for the window of my LYS.

This is Sandra, lounging about in the garden between training sessions.  So far she has no kit (or even a face) but I think she's going to be an ice dancer.

There would have been a picture of the back field but when I went out to take one the batteries in the camera died.  Inserting my new "ready to use" rechargeables, I was faced with "Battery Empty".  Very Little Helps.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Knitter For Hire

Since Nicky took over at Shipston Needlecraft my skills have been requested on several occasions.  There was In the Pink using the Noro laceweight yarn, Sekku.  This is a free pattern and very interesting to knit.  That's just as well, because I had to knit it twice (long story).

There aren't any pictures of this because I wasn't thinking "blog" at the time.  However, shawl #2 is hanging in the window of aforementioned Shipston Needlecraft as I type, so if you want to see it, you know where it is.   (It's not in this picture, though!)

Sekku (since discontinued) is a cotton/wool/nylon/silk blend and pretty skinny (tt).  It's the usual beautiful Noro colours but it's also the usual Noro knots, bits of straw and thick and thin areas.  Some of it didn't appear to have been spun at all and was therefore prone to coming apart in my hands.

 Then there was the Rialto Lace Bolero.  Here's the yarn:

100% merino.  Lots of lovely colours.  Beautiful to knit with.

The pattern had a lot of bobbles:

This is the front in progress.  I don't have pictures of the finished item (again, not thinking blog).

Nicky wanted to wear it to some trade show, so there was a bit of a deadline.  Safely done in time, though.

Payment for this lot was in yarn, so the stash is growing like Topsy.

There's more but that will have to wait for another day.

Saturday back field (on a Friday - it's getting worse!):

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Double Vision

I bought "A Knitting Wrapsody" just so I could make "Infinity - a Cardi-Wrap with Sleeves".  I finally settled on James C. Brett Marble Chunky for the yarn, which I bought at Texere in Yorkshire when I was at SkipNorth.

Though I don't usually go in for acrylic yarns, this stuff just seemed to be the right yarn for the job.  In one way this is true.  Here's #1 son modelling the back:

 I think the colour changes show the pattern very effectively.

Here's a close-up of the criss-cross (tt) pattern on the front:

This is a detail of going "round the bend" on the collar:

Where I did take issue with the yarn was that of the three balls I used, each ball had at least two knots (sometimes three) and in several cases the knot was in only one of the two plies.  I ended up with even more ends than normal to weave in and lots of little balls of yarn.  Not much fun.  

However, the pattern is very enjoyable to knit.  Very little sewing (just two short seams on the back), so right up my street.

Which was just as well, because #1 son decided he liked it so much he wanted one himself.  Off we went to Shipston Needlecraft and bought three more balls of Marble Chunky, this time in green.

It was even quicker the second time around.

The back:

 The front:

Detail of the Cuff:

This time only one knot in one ball.  An improvement.

I've made him promise that we won't be seen wearing them at the same time.  Otherwise, we'll look like Tweedledum and Tweedledumber.

One of these weeks you'll get the Saturday Back Field actually on a Saturday.  As it is, here's the Back Field on Tuesday:

(Raw materials in the background.)

Thursday, May 03, 2012

There has been lace

Of course there's been lace!

I used a delightful silk, cashmere and alpaca blend to make the Aeolian Shawl which was in Knitty a while ago.

The adding of the beads was a bit of a trial.  I didn't like the idea of threading all the beads onto the yarn before I started for two reasons: firstly, I just want to get on with the knitting - swatch?  Don't be ridiculous!, secondly, threading 2,250 beads might just have sent me over the edge (not to mention causing intolerable strain on the yarn itself).

So, second method then.  The crochet hook.  Even though I can crochet, I rarely do (but more of that later).  That hasn't stopped me amassing quite a collection of crochet hooks.  I don't have one that's skinny (technical term) enough to go through a titchy (tt) bead though.

So, third method.  I threaded a very very skinny (tt) beading needle with some strong cotton, in through the bead, through the relevant stitch, back through the bead, slide the bead onto the stitch.  Done - 2,250 times.

I forgot to take any pictures of this delicate manoeuvre but I did find this blog with some good pics.  (OK, she's using a crochet hook but the principle is the same.)

More pictures of my Aeolian:

I finished it just in time for Mother's party up in the North.  It was much admired.  Then disaster struck.

I caught it on the door handle and (look away now if you are of a nervous disposition) ripped a hole in it.

I was so vexed that I threw it in a bag and left it alone for three weeks.

I took it out the other day and had a proper look (no pictures - too traumatic).  I can't repair it, so I bit the bullet and ripped out to past the hole.  Only thirteen rows.  Only?  There are about five hundred stitches on the needle.  It took a while but all the stitches are back on the needle in the right order.

There might be some pictures of that beading technique yet.

Critical Mass

critical mass noun, physics the smallest amount of a given fissile material, ie one that is able to undergo nuclear fission, formed into a given shape, that is needed to sustain a nuclear chain reaction, eg for a sphere of uranium-235, the critical mass is 52kg.
Copyright Chambers Publishers Ltd 2010

When I stopped writing on this blog it wasn't a concious decision; it was a conspiracy of circumstances.  All sorts of things happened, in a short space of time, and it all became too much.

However, when it comes to receiving emails from various people in various countries; when it comes to being gently quizzed in Yorkshire; and, worst (or best) of all, when it comes to being quizzed in my own living room as to "What's happened to your blog?" (by someone who won't mind me saying that she doesn't know one end of a knitting needle from the other); I think it's reached Critical Mass.  The nuclear chain reaction has begun and there's nothing more to be done.  

I never stopped knitting but I don't know that I can document everything that's been on the needles in the last year and a bit.  Let's just start from where we are and see how we go.  How does that sound?