Saturday, November 17, 2007

One of the reasons I haven't been blogging much is that I keep forgetting to take pictures of my projects. I've finished three projects and given them away without photographing them. The most recent was a lacy scarf made from Debbie Bliss silk which I posted this week to Georgia (the place in a state of emergency). It's a real shame I didn't take a picture as Rose, my daughter, said it was the most beautiful thing I'd made so far - and I don't even know if it will ever arrive at its destination! It's for Ketevan, a woman I stayed with in Tbilisi for a week in October.
I've been messing around with a couple of other things - one is a fairisle sampler which I'm making up as I go along. It's a tube, and the original idea was for a tubular scarf as Elizabeth Zimmerman suggests. It will be an extremely warm scarf though, as on the patterns bits there will be four thicknesses of wool. The yarn is jumper weight from Jamieson and Smith. I ordered it online but used Schoolhouse website to choose the colours. Schoolhouse distribute Jamieson and Smith in the US and the colours are much clearer on their site.
This is another tube, which I'm calling a legwarmer. It's plain and unshaped apart from a 20st lace panel, called Staggered Fern, from The Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches. Now, faced with the choice of chopping one of my legs off or knitting another, I've started a second. The yarn 4 ply is from Natural Dye Studio.
The third wip is a crocheted blanket for my little Ellen (please don't tell I called her that!) Based on a pattern from Simple Crochet it's in strips of staggered (more staggering...) blocks of colour. I'm putting in the odd granny square at Ellen's request. The idea was to use up some of the Latvian wool in my stash. It's not really soft enough for a blanket though - especially in this knobbly triple crochet stitch - feels more like a string bag. I suppose it will be ok used as an afghan, draped over the back of a chair or something.
Another piece of knitting news is that we had a knit-and-sing evening here. Eight knitting friends came round including daughter Rose (who has moved out and now shares a house with a couple of friends) and her friend Alice. The group included someone who wanted to learn how to cast on, someone who brought a jumper she'd started for her son when he was two - and he's now 25, and one very accomplished knitter who was working on a beautiful entrelac blanket for the baby she's expecting. The cast-on-learner, Lucy, taught us a couple of lovely songs. It was difficult to concentrate on both at once though, so I think maybe next time we'd need to do the song-learning before the knitting, then could sing them confidently as we knitted. We're planning to have another session in the new year.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another long posting gap - sorry to anyone who has visited me in vain over the past two months.
We had a lovely holiday camping in Shropshire. The original idea was to go to Scotland but we decided to go via Shropshire because it was on the shortlist of places to move to when we leave London. A friend had recommended Bishops Castle, and Foxholes, the campsite we found there was so lovely that we just stayed - for nearly three weeks.
Bishops Castle itself is great too. No yarn shop, though it's got everything else you could wish for including two pubs that brew their own beer. When we move there I thought I might take a stall in the weekly indoor market in the town hall and try selling a bit of yarn - not to make money, just for fun and because I'm sure it's a place with plenty of closet knitters.

We're planning to go next year. Two years ago I gave up my job and we launched a little education magazine. It's done well enough to support us both with a bit of help from TC's teacher's pension, and happily we can do it from anywhere. I'd move straight away, but I don't want to pull the rug from under my daughter Ellen's feet. She's lived in this house all her life, and started university this week, so I want to wait till she's settled there before selling her home here, although she says there are plenty of friends she can stay with in this area, and she's enthusiastic about the idea of a home in the country.

I've been doing quite a bit of knitting, and have also joined Stashalong. I needed to - I've got at least 13 kilos of yarn under my bed and no room for any more.

I've got two good friends, who don't know each other. They both have the same name and have birthdays within a week of each other, and are both currently having trial separations from their husbands so are naturally a bit fragile. Quite strange, uh? Anyway I knitted a pair of socks for one, and a mobius for the other and they were both really pleased.
I'm also crocheting a blanket for Ellen in an effort to get my stash of Latvian dk down. And I'm doing a Fairisle sampler in the form of a tubular scarf.
I finally made it to Colinette while we were in Shropshire, and spotted Wye Sue sitting on the floor surrounded by 4-ply. Sue's was one of the first blogs I visited when I started knitting, and I think it was actually from her that I discovered Colinette, so it was quite an event for me to arrive there and meet her.
I bought some ribbon yarn from the bargain bins, and after a lot of experimenting made a scarf in garter stitch, on 10mm needles. Pretty basic, but I love it. It looks like chain mail and it's got a wonderful drape. I've worn it to a couple of partyish events, and had it much admired. Don't know what I'm going to do with the other 800 grams though!
After Shropshire we spent a couple of days in north Wales with my father and step-mother Jean who is in the Lleyn branch of the spinners and weavers guild. It was lovely to see them, and she'd just finished knitting a gansey for my father. It's always great to see what she's been up to. She's very creative and hardly ever uses patterns, and she also does lace (not knitting - the kind you do with pins) , tapestry, felting as well as spinning and natural dying; I'm in awe of her. She's been very encouraging since I took up knitting as a beginner, age 51, having been completely uninterested in textiles of any kind until then.
I've also just cast on the first of a pair of legwarmers, with some sock wool from the Natural Dye Studio. I work at a desk in front of a very drafty window, and the recent drop in temperature has reminded me of how cold my legs get in the winter.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Thanks for the commiserations about the train incident. I hope that's something you do only once - I've been very careful since.
It's been very exciting reading about Woolfest. It does sound wonderful, and I'd love to go next year. Couldn't do it this time, partly because Ellen was returning from her three months of travelling round South America on the Friday. She came back safe and sound with hardly a negative experience to report and I think really benefited from the trip. It's persuaded me she can look after herself too, so I try not to worry so much when I'm not sure where she is. (Well she is 19.) Here she is in the Atacama Desert in Chile, in a hat knitted by mum. Apparently it was dawn, below freezing, and the egg she's eating was cooked in a hot water geezer spouting out of the ground.

I've got a few knitting projects on the go. First, I finished another pair of socks. They're getting better every time, as you'd hope, but they're still a little on the saggy side. I know Elizabeth Zimmerman suggests 2x2 rib and I've done that right down the cuff and on the top part of the foot on the pair I'm currently knitting. I like to think these latest ones are the sort of socks that could be found in a peat bog in a million years time (yes I know it's rather optimistic to assume the planet will still support intellegent life then..). They're made from some robust Latvian wool I bought from Inita on ebay. I'm really pleased with this wool which is great value at £1.75 per 100g, and have been back twice for more already. I held a thread of nylon with the wool for the heel and toe, as suggested by E.Zimmerman.

I'm also making a cabled cardigan from some yarn bought from the Knitting and Stitching show last year. It was advertised as wool, and I naively assumed that meant pure wool. It's not, but it's OK. This time I'm trying to do some waist shaping. Here's the back.

I've nearly finished a mobius in Colinette Sky. It's for a friend I've known since we were at school together 40 years ago who is having a challenging time at the moment. Hope she likes it.

Off to York on Thursday for Rose's graduation ceremony. It's funny - in my day we shunned that sort of thing completely but apparently it's de rigeur now, even the among the rebelious ones like Rose. Must try not to leave the knitting on the train...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Clickety click

I hate this picture, despite the cherries and hollyhocks - I look like a mean (and shapeless) person. But felt I had to show you that I'd done some knitting and finished the jumper . I hope one day I will graduate to proper, designed garments knitted from real patterns but for now I still enjoy just making a back, front and two sleeves from interesting yarn and sewing them all together.

I suffered a severe setback when I left my knitting on a train last month. I was on the second sock of a pair, and also had a half-finished scarf in the bag made from Debbie Bliss silk yarn. I got off the train at Euston and left it under the seat. I hoped it would turn up in lost property but it didn't which made me think the train cleaner must have thought it was rubbish and binned it!
I made another pair of socks though, which I'm wearing right now.
I'm beginning to see why so many people knit socks - they are very satisfying aren't they? the main problem in the past has been dropping stitches but I've now swapped my short Britannia birch needles for a pair of Surina 2mm which are 7" long and easier to work with for me.

I've been busy with singing. My choir (I don't mention its name on the blog any more because I'm shy about people I know reading it - and the choir has such an unusual name that anyone doing a search ended up here) took part in the Singing River performance to mark the reopening of the Royal Festival Hall in London. We were on the pontoon - it was really good fun but very tiring as we had two weekends of rehearsals followed by a dress rehearsal and two performances, all ending at midnight.

Anyway while I was on the south bank I found a really interesting old book on traditional fairisle knitting (by Sheila McGregor) on one of the second hand book stalls. I think the next project might be a simple fairisle something - probably a hat. I've also started a cable cardigan using some yarn I got at the knitting and stitching show. It's a lovely colour, but I'm pretty sure it contains acrylic, though it was sold as wool.

If you happen to see the film Taking Liberties, which is around now, I'm in it!. There's a little interview in our kitchen with my daughters, my ex and me about the girls' arrest and treatment by the police after their climate change protest last year.

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More stuff

I keep putting off blogging because I think, "I must take a picture of that first" or "I must wait for that to arrive". And then there's so much to say, it's a bit off putting and you stop visiting other people because you feel a bit guilty about your procrastination.
Anyway I'm fine, and thanks for enquiring. Lots of things have been happening. My 18 year old daughter Ellen flew to Rio de Janeiro on March 28th to go travelling for three months - due to return from Lima, Peru. Before she went it was crazy as she'd left everything to the very last minute, and afterwards I was missing her too much to think about much else.
Before that was TC's birthday. I finished the jumper the night before, and I thought it was fine but he was a bit uncertain about the fit. Then I wet-blocked it and although I was incredibly careful not to let it stretch, it kind of "relaxed" and got about six inches longer, and looser all over.
He doesn't like it, says it feels too big. And if I'm honest he's right. I'm pissed off because I was really careful to measure his favourite jumper, and adapt the pattern etc. I can of course shorten it but I'm not sure he'll want to wear it even then as it is a kind of chunky sloppy-joe-ish style, and so can't quite face the job. Afterwards, I read this in Stitch'nBitch
Here's a legend known to all knitters across the land: it is bad luck to knit a sweater for a boyfriend as it guarantees that the relationship will end...Like most myths, it holds a good amount of truth. If you've spent a month or two working long and hard on a sweater for your guy, only to have him not appreciate it enough or not wear it very often (and this happens all the time), you might catch a lingering resentment and wind up dumping the ungrateful lout. The theory, I suppose, is that if you're married to the guy and make him a sweater he never wears, you're still stuck with him.
Perhaps one day - maybe before next winter - I will feel inspired to try and fix it. If not I guess I could find someone who does like it, or put it in the washing machine and cut it up to make felt bags or something ...
I had another failure with this shawl but in the opposite direction. It's got a lace panel down the middle, which you can just about see, and I love the yarn (from handpainted yarn), but I knitted it on too small needles so it doesn't drape properly - it falls off.
I haven't finished the second sock yet, but I haven't abandoned it. And I'm still working away at my Colinette jumper, which is a real delight to knit because it's so simple and I so love watching the colours pass by.
I made a decent-sized dent in my stash when Rose, my older daughter, asked for yarn for her 22nd birthday last month. So I've been busy replenishing. I was down in the south west over Easter, and visited Mandy Wools shop in Wells, a huge emporium of a yarn store. I was fairly restrained - I got some bottle green dk merino by King Cole to go with some cream I've already got - one day to become something stripy. Also some Regia sock yarn, and a couple of small balls of cotton for trying fancy crochet stitches.
I've also been visiting Jannette's on ebay, where she's doing a great deal on Debbie Bliss silk and alpaca dk. I've never tried a really luxury yarn before so this was a bit of a revalation. I'm trying a simple lace pattern for a scarf but I'm a bit puzzled by it.
It's diagonal, so you move along a step for each right side row. At one stage a k2tog moves from being the first stitch in the row to being the last. So you effectively shift two stitches along, which means the diagonal lines go out of alignment every 16 rows. As a lace beginner I don't know whether this is a mistake in the pattern, or normal.

I also paid another visit to the irresistable handpainted yarns, and bought some lovely stuff including sari silk. You pay a flat rate shipping price of $12, so it makes sense to get a decent-sized parcel! (Well that's my excuse. I love their yarn, and the prices, but feel uncomfortable about the air-freighting)

Despite the setback with the birthday jumper, and the shawl, I'm generally feeling quite good. My shoulder is much much better - I can even do up my bra strap if I stretch it down a bit. I've put on half a stone, but actually a lot of my clothes fit me better now than they did before so I don't mind too much. And I've got a new haircut. This picture was taken by me with a £14 web camera which I'm going to be using when I start a remote class in Georgian (the language) next week.

We had a really lovely Easter weekend in my friend Catherine's family's holiday house on Dartmoor. She's a very keen walker and took us out every day for wonderful walks. One day we went to Ashburton. I walked into a second hand bookshop, and laid out on display on the table by the door were these.

The Kaffe Fassett book is interesting but the designs are very 1980s and way over the top for my taste. The mindful knitting book though has been a revelation. I'm now trying to put all my attention on making each stitch (which I certainly need to do with the lacey scarf anyway) as a way of occupying the present moment - as opposed to being constantly pre-occuppied with something else like what x said to y, what I need to do next week, etc.
Sorry this post has been such a long haul, and thanks for reading this far!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Hello, I'm still here. Work has been very busy, and I've also joined a gym after the physiotherapist suggested I did something to strengthen my arms and shoulders. He suggested yoga, pilates or swimming and as this women-only gym at the bottom of my road does all three it seemed a good idea though a great big extra expense. I already get quite a lot of exercise walking the dog, and now I'm going swimming most days as well.
I've also had a couple of weekends away. TC and I went to Aldborough, got a bargain room in the very nice White Lion hotel, and went for long walks along the beach, and on Dunwich Heath.
We also had our choir's annual weekend away at the Ridegeway youth hostel near Wantage in Oxfordshire. 48 hours of singing fabulous Georgian folk songs and feasting on Georgian food, cooked for us by two Georgian women. Lovely.
Knitting is going OK. I made two moebiuses, one for Rose - matching her hat. The other one I made from my favourite yarn, One Zero from Colinette, in my current favourite Colinette colour Venezia. I've been wearing it a lot, indoors and out, and it has been getting lots of attention from non-knitters who know about moebiuses.
I've also got to the final sleeve of TC's cartridge ridge jumper. It's his birthday on March 22 so I have got a deadline, and there is quite a lot of making up to do because it's big (and heavy).
Last but not least I've (almost) made a proper sock! When I first started knitting, last year, I ordered a sock kit from Web of Wool and have had numerous frustrating and failed attempts at knitting it up. What made the difference this time was that I finally bought myself a pair of reading/knitting glasses so I can actually focus on the work. I really like the look and feel of it and have been thinking I'd like a hat made of this sort of fine, self-striping yarn. Still got the toe-grafting to tackle though - and the other sock of course...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Back in business





BBC NEWS | England | Merseyside | Knitted breasts help new mothers



This is going to be a rag bag of a post. First, I didn't knit these but aren't they sweet?

I am knitting again though. My frozen shoulder seems to have gone into the second phase, which is stiff but much less tender than the first phase. I picked up the needles to have another go at TC's jumper - cartridge rib in dark green on 4mm needles. He's a tall man too, so there was a lot of it. I'd already negotiated to downsize it from a jumper to a waistcoat (partly because I wasn't sure the yarn would last out) and managed to knit the back. But when I cast on the front I knew I'd never finish it. It was so boring. He was nice about it, but I could see he was a bit disappointed. And then I had an idea. I frogged back the hours and hours of work on the back and started again with 7.5 needles, using the same yarn but knitted together with some black Rowan Yorkshire Tweed from my stash. I love the look of these two yarns together, and the chunkiness of the fabric. And it's growing so fast! It's a saddle shouldered sweater from Ann Budd's Handy Sweater Patterns book - I've done the back already and this is the first sleeve. A bonus is that I now definitely have enough yarn for the whole sweater.
I'm also knitting my first Mobius, having read about them on Anne's and Kath's blogs. I bought Cat Bordhi's book about knitting Mobiuses, then looked far and wide for a long enough circular needle (120cm - from Heirloom Knitting) and after several abortive attempts finally acheived the special moebius cast on last night. It's really strange - you're knitting in a spiral, outward from a central spine, so you never come back to your starting point as you do with normal circular knitting. She explains why the result (a Mobius shape) is different from deliberately twisting a piece of circular knitting, but my poor brain hasn't been able to grasp it yet.

Finally here's a picture taken this morning from my bedroom window. Quite an unusual sight here in in Hackney.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Small steps




Still quiet on the knitting front. Rose, my student daughter who lives in York, has had her hair cut short. It really suits her, but her hats no longer do so I made her a short hair hat - small enough to show off the new hair line.
Also finished the tea cosy. The knitting was done ages ago but I finally get round to measuring the tea pot and sewing it up with the right sized holes in the right places. The pompoms look very jolly, but I didn't find them much fun to make - threading a very long piece of wool through a doughnut-shaped piece of cardboard lots and lots and lots of times. Does anyone know a less tedious method? Importantly this tea cosy does really works. Because of all the strands of wool across the back it keeps the tea hot for ages.
Ellen, my younger daughter, asked for a sewing machine for Christmas. Unfortunately the one we bought turned out to be broken and we didn't get the replacement until half way through January but since then she's been busy re-structuring most of her clothes.
I have almost no sewing skill but I do have an old machine, and as I can't do much knitting I dug it out, inspired by her. I've done a few little jobs like making a sausage shaped draft excluder from and old curtain, and I've bought a 12 yard bolt of cotton fabric (£10 from my local market) and a little "how to sew"picture book, and I'm now making an ultra-basic top from a pattern.

Monday, January 08, 2007





Not much blogging going on because not much to blog about - I'm still doing very little knitting, because of my shoulder. I have finished my Lizard Ridge cushion cover though.
It's 26x26", with four squares on each side plus a crocheted border. I thought about lining it, but I think it fits better without a lining. I also took the easy way out by leaving one side loosely stitched for washing purposes instead of trying to put in a zip.
I know it looks a bit much on the Turkish rug but it is nice to lounge on beside the fire.