Sunday, December 31, 2006

Unbearable cuteness

This photo was not actually faked. I spent some of the afternoon sorting paperwork of all sorts from various quarters of the house - mostly finished now - need to do the annual clearout of the 'file upstairs' drawer so it doesn't blow a gasket. I was using little heart-shaped PostIts from Nina (proofreader, fellow stationery-fetishist and all-round good person) with terse things like 'File', 'Read', 'Teach', 'Knitting' etc. scribbled on them. Tilda's rolling around on the half-cleared table got exactly the right sticker where it belonged. (You can just see the 'File' PostIt over her shoulder.)

Christmas 2

Still on the ' 'tis better to give than to receive' tack, I went over to dinner with friends this evening, and their daughters very kindly stayed up long enough to model their Christmas sweaters... so here's Fiona in hers

(request: Aran-ish, and long enough in the body and sleeves as she's tall for her age; I had measurements of a favourite sweater. This was known as Daughter of Sherwood in the making, and it's got a Celtic Braid, as used in one of the Elsebeth Lavold sweaters, Ragna, surrounded by cables up the front and back, and small cables up the sleeves. I carried the cables into the neckline; and knitted the body in the round so the Mexican Wave stripes wouldn't mismatch on the side seams)...
... and Lorna in hers (no particular request but I had measurements and colour ideas; this was a quick last-minute knit with some gift yarn I over-dyed; I attached the sleeves and neckband with the waste-yarn stitch-by-stitch method as it was chunky yarn, and did a 3-needle bind-off on the shoulders which was admired).

Here's Lorna again - the women in the household seem to have purloined Chris's Christmas hat, and all looked very good in it. Didn't see Chris wearing it!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Knitting from stash

I'm going to try this for 2007

The main rules are on the WendyKnits blog; but having inventorised the stash in the autumn and discovered there's a Lot of Yarn there (as if the 12 plastic crates in the loft couldn't have told me that anyway); and read the discussion on the SkipNorth list about 'yarn diets', I'm up for it. With some changes to the Rules. Mine are:

1. The Knit-From-Your-Stash-a-Thon will start January 1, 2007 and run through September 30, 2007 -- a period of nine months.

2. I will not buy any yarn during that period, with the following exceptions:
2.a. Sock yarn does not count* [This is the only way of ensuring sanity during visits to, say, Stash, where the urge to pillage the shelves is strong but a ball of sock yarn will probably assuage the craving...]
2.b. If someone asks for a specific knitted gift that I really and truly do not have the yarn for, I may buy yarn to knit that gift.
2.c. If I am knitting something and run out of yarn, I may purchase enough to complete the project.
2.d. I am allowed two "Get Out of Jail Free" cards -- I am allowed to fall off the wagon at Textiles in Focus, where proximity to Woolly Workshop for three days guarantees failure of resolve; and at SkipNorth, which was booked in September for the express purpose of acquiring cheap and unusual yarns.

3. I am allowed to receive gifts of yarn; and purchase yarn as gifts for other people, on legitimate occasions such as birthdays (as opposed to occasions such as "we're-both-Knitting-from-our-Stash-so-if-we-pay-for-each-other's-and-then-settle-up-in-the-pub-later-it-doesn't-count-days").

4. Yarn bought specifically for dyeing for sale to others is exempt.

* but I have to knit up a quantity of sock yarn from stash in order to be able to buy the same quantity again...

Let's see how it goes. Gulp.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas 1

Rather than do one huge post and have Blogger swallow it whole, I thought I'd do a few to cover Christmas.

Lovely time at my parents' in the North-East - the journey up was nowhere near as horrendous as I'd anticipated, except for the stretch between Ely and Peterborough, where Central Trains' Christmas Eve strike had pushed a lot of people onto the trains one day early and we standees had marginally less space than on a rush-hour tube... On the way back the train was delayed by about half an hour, which was fine by me as it gave me extra time in the warm, and less to experience the joys of Stevenage rail station and its many feral teenage occupants at 9pm on a wet Wednesday...

First up, a couple of bits of Christmas knitting... This is the Angel Pearls scarf from Sivia Harding, done as part of the KAL for my sister-in-law, Hazel:
and here she is modelling it just after opening:

And next up, the Icarus shawl from Interweave Knits (also available as a separate pattern); here it is blocking:

and being worn by my Mam; the front view...

... and the back... I think it/she looks lovely...

Both seemed to go down well, anyway! In the end I got the knitting finished in time - simplified one project, and sent a pre-knitted thing to another person...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tiny Clanger...

says Merry Christmas.

It's taken till tonight to get the house tidy enough to decorate (and I'm not talking about conventional definitions of 'tidy' here) but Tiny Clanger's lashed to the top of the Christmas tree shouting and all's right with the world.

While sorting out the washing, I found a white T-shirt I bought a few weeks ago, very reduced because very shop-soiled - not that it matters when you do this to it

and it comes out like this.

Also: card-hanging à la cheapo - but I like it;

Take one reel of Sellotape, wrap an end into a bit of a bundle, and push a drawing-pin through the bundle; shove the drawing-pin through the top of a door and hang the tape reel over so the sticky side of the Sellotape is on the outside; stick cards down the length; at the bottom fold the Sellotape back on itself and stick it to the door. This possibly only works with cheap non-Sellotape tape and doors painted with satin varnish or eggshell. And sometimes you need a bit of Blu-Tak if the cards are determined to hang completely open...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Standing at the bus stop this evening in the fog (for a long, long time) I realised that it looked rather like a scene from Doctor Who. Wrong kind of phone box, but whatever... That's the actual parish pump on the right...

Then on the way home later, the cranes in the big hole to be known as the Grand Arcade had disappeared into the fog, but their light-trails hadn't... For Cambridge ex-pats, the big gap in the middle used to be the bus-station travel office and indeed the rest of the Bradwells Court arcade...

Frost flowers

First real frost of the winter this morning - it's still here at nearly noon - so once I got back from the Maiden Aunts' annual vaccination trip, photographed my latest acquisition, this beautiful scarf from E-J - isn't it fabulous? She also presented me with a Lantern Moon needlecase, which is perfect for the Petra's beaded needles!
I think I'm going to put a hook on it, and hang it on the wall to admire, like the liddle mop in Cold Comfort Farm... I gave her this merino. Reluctantly; I really liked this batch...
A bit more Christmas knitting - a hat for a friend, which started off as a Coronet and ended up as a Halfdome

and wristwarmers from my aunt - pattern a little bit adapted from the pattern in Last Minute Knitted Gifts, but not much... in James Brett Marble.

I'm getting there with the rest of it!

On the list: 14 (previously-knitted item sent instead when the postal deadline loomed...)
Cast on: 13
Cast off: 12
Finished: 11 (and one blocking at the moment)
Wrapped/sent: 11

And knitting in prospect at the Mitre tonight... Better round up the last of the presents and cards and send them off...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bright angels

I devised the angel for last night's class, and made 2 samples, and here's my favourite: kind of a Mollydancing angel

It was a good class; most people made an angel, and everyone who started one managed to finish one... there were some great colour combinations. We had food, and sherry, and the class all signed this card, which is a copy of a silk painting by Alison, who's done most of the organisation and hard work for the class over the year - she won a design competition, and the card was professionally printed to raise funds for the Oncology Centre at Addenbrooke's - I can't find a link for getting hold of these online...

... and also this, which is brightening the kitchen and helping me pretend it's not actually pitch dark by 4:15pm...
Don't think I've ever had a poinsettia of my own before!

The Christmas Tally at the moment:
On the list: still 15 (nil desperandum, and all that)
Cast on: 11
Cast off: 8
Finished: 7
Wrapped/sent: 7
As they say on the Shipping Forecast, 'falling, slowly' ... and the ingredients for the final item arrived today... Back to the needles.
And I've just checked again - the Yarn Harlot's back! We have normality ...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Going Quiet

100th post!

I dragged out my Christmas lists this morning and had a good hard look. Not much shopping to do, but the 'handmades' list gives pause for thought. The statistics:

  • items on the list: 15

of these:

  • items cast on: 10
  • items cast off: 7
  • items finished (blocked, washed, labelled etc.): 5
  • items wrapped and sent: 3

These do not include Caroline's daughter's scarf, the remaining 1.3m of Mountmellick edging for next Wednesday's class, or the Christmas ornament I need to devise, make and write up for same class... and two of the as-yet-not-cast-on items need to be posted.

It might be quiet from this corner for a while...

On the positive side, only one of the unfinished items is a sweater (see below). On the negative side, one is a beaded lace scarf in Kidsilk Spray (the Yarn from Hell); it'll be lovely when it's finished!

The Socks of Doom are in the washing machine at the moment (really didn't do that good a job on washing out the dye so had blue hands throughout the process) along with Daughter of Sherwood.

In the meantime though - who'd have thought Beehive Chunky would dye so nicely. The paler ball started off pale grey, and the darker one a bright salmony cerise. The other yarn in the bag (present from a friend of my mam's) was black. Ah; the 1980s... I bet it would have made a spectacular batwing...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Amelia investigates...

... the Case of the Lone International Sock of Doom.

Actually, the real mystery is that this sock exists at all - I'm astonished to be photographing it less than 24 hours after casting it on at 10:20 last night on the train back from London. I went to this (yeah, I get all the good gigs; actually, it was pretty interesting, if totally knackering, and will probably save me loads of unnecessary work) and then met Jan; we visited the knitting group at Liberty (including meeting Yvonne and Sue again) and went to find something to eat, at which point we realised a) just off Oxford Street on a Thursday night in December might not have been the best choice and b) my exorbitantly-expensive and work-funded rail ticket had fallen out of my pocket while it was tucked under a bench in Liberty's, which was, by then, 3 minutes off closing. The distraction caused by the latter meant I didn't even look at the bag of goodies I came home with until I was on the train... copies of two of Jan's books (thanks!!)

one brand new one (the pic here's the US edition, the link's to the UK one which has a different cover), and one out of print one... As ever, with both, the knitting's enticing but the crochet looks like complete magic and makes me vow to try and have a go... Also the Winter IK and Holiday Vogue, picked up for me at Stash...

Back to the sock because I'm still ensorcelled - the yarn's cream King Cole Anti-Tickle Merino, dyed with Ultramarine at full strength, and very dilute Violet and Turquoise (all acid milling dyes from AVG). I didn't participate in Sock Wars, but came across the pattern while Googling 'socks DK' and decided to give it a go. These are for bedsocks, a Christmas present for a cold-footed friend who likes these colours.

I'm pleased with the way the yarn has pooled on the leg - just hoping the other skein, dyed in the same bundle as the first one, will do the same... They're a really quick knit (I reckon the first one took 3 hours or so - a lunchtime at work, an hour's train journey and about the same on the bus tonight...), the rib is lovely and stretchy, and with the lengthened legs (I added 5cm), take a fraction off one ball each to knit (say 110m each)... Even the dreaded toe-grafting worked; presumably with DK I can see what I'm doing... or maybe there's just a charm on these socks.

I did some dyeing on Tuesday; will blog that when I've finished the child's sweater I need to make with the results. But look; I finally managed to get a pan of magenta dye to exhaust! I acquired a lovely big preserving pan from Clarissa Cochran through CamLETS last weekend and although she was rightly sceptical about dyeing in an aluminium pan, it seems to have worked very nicely with all three batches of the yarn I tried (three lots of Beehive Shetland Chunky, which dyed beautifully despite being 50% acrylic).

Also, Daughter of Sherwood is finished and made up - will blog her once she's washed and pinned out...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


It was a Fibrefusion day today (sometime soon this should be an actual link...) and also the last session before Christmas, which means Serious Food. Everyone has her own speciality - Ros brings a baked gammon, Sandra brings her special rice salad with roasted veg, Helen and I compete to make the most calorific dessert, and so on...

We were sorting out the aftermath of the shows - getting postcards back to their owners, settling up for meals from the hotel bills, paying for photography we'd had done - when Madelaine said "Oh, and you left these behind..." and handed me a paper bag containing these...

I'd ogled these at Pavi Yarns, who were just opposite us, several times over the couple of days I was there, but apart from them being somewhat out of my price range, I'd assumed they were glass, ergo fragile (they were in a little display case), and therefore unsuitable for being hurled onto slate floors by huge deranged cats. Turns out they're resin; and that Madeleine, Sue and Pauline had decided I ought to have them... It's a generous group, but that was totally unexpected! (I think three extra people will be receiving small knitted items this Christmas. Note to self; extra hours in day required...)

In the background, Daughter of Sherwood. I've reverted to a largely stocking stitch sweater with a Saxon Braid front and back, and it's going more quickly...

Here's the Harrogate stash; clockwise from top left, one ball James Brett Marble to go with the other 8 - every pattern I see seems to need yardage from 9 balls... three balls Twilley Freedom Spirit, probably for another multidirectional scarf; two lots of three balls of Lang Mille Colori, which is beautiful and soft, a 50% acrylic, 50% wool mix (colours 0056 and 0053). All from the various branches of RKM Wools - they had three stands...

And a ball of Opal Hundertwasser sock yarn in Silver Spiral, which I've been after for a while... from Web of Wool. Taking colours from paintings is such a good idea - I'd love some Klee or Kandinsky colourways!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Say goodnight, Sherwood...

After several weeks of knitting on this, and an almost equal period of denial, I finally came to the realisation that whatever I do to this sweater, Sherwood from the current issue of Knitty, it's not going to be anywhere near the measurements I need for Fiona's Christmas sweater; it's definitely too short, and possibly too narrow... Unravelling is the only thing to do... Back to the drawing board with the schematic from her current favourite sweater and Barbara Walker's first book...

Some other Christmas knitting has been done though; two multidirectional scarves (not sure who's getting which at the moment) which are wonderfully easy and therapeutic to knit... the top one in Elle merino variegated bought at Ally Pally, the bottom one in Freedom Spirit in colour Fire, bought at the NEC;

Christmas card manufacture has also started...

and the Christmas lights have appeared on the Green again making everything look peaceful and festive. Better cast on for the replacement sweater...!

Harrogate '06

I like Harrogate. This year, I was travelling up alone but then did the last little bit of the journey with Sue after we bumped into each other at Leeds station. Over the couple of days I was there (Thurs/Fri) I met Wye Sue, Fred, Yvonne, Sussolu, Quite Contrary and What Katie Did, among others.

I was there to steward the Fibrefusion stand, but we were somewhat mob-handed on the Friday, so spent quite some time in the Relax and Knit area. Here are Wye Sue knitting up fingerknitting and wearing her fab Colinette sweater;

Yvonne demonstrating the Mobius cast-on to Fred

and Sue wearing her newly finished hat and crocheted flower...

Also on the Friday, I bumped into Jackie and Sue from the Cambridge knitting group; the train from Leeds was horrendously crowded but met back up with Jackie for the last part of the journey.

Blogger has eaten the stash photos, so the shopping part can wait...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sock torture

Went over to EJ's last Tuesday night. We started off in very civilised mode; nice dinner, wine, conversation, admiring of Baby M who gets more interesting by the visit (she's got that holding her head straight and smiling business sorted out now). Then we started sock-casting-on. After 4.5 tries, this happened...

Ran out of camera batteries to record the sock-needle-warding-away-by-sign-of-the-cross moment... or the reappearance of smily Baby M in Mason-Dixon bib...

Curate's egg...

of a weekend last weekend. My parents visited... On the Saturday, we went to Burwash Manor Barns, which are very pretty

and each bought several Christmas presents. After lunch at the café

also went to the Larder and the butchers' there and picked up good things to eat, including some extremely nice Berkswell ewes' milk cheese and some Italian stuff which looked like Chaumes, but was tastier... After that we went off to the Christmas Market at St John's, Waterbeach; we drank mulled wine, bought some extremely cheap CDs and books (Aerosmith's Pump, anyone?) and watched the molly dancers.

Molly dancing is an East Anglian thing. This is the molly side of the Ely and Littleport Riot; there are some stranger black-face molly sides made up of both men and women such as the Ouse Washes. The musicians here were a banjo player, a violinist who looked like a cross between the local vet and Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman (neither of which is a bad thing), and a bodrhán player. Worked fine...

The Sunday went less well, entirely due to my shower-head's successful attempt to leap off the wall and maim my mother. All those things you hear about scalp wounds bleeding a lot... believe it; it's scary. A visit from the ambulance/paramedics and a trip to A&E for general reassurance and head-glueing later, and we were all back at home 3 hours later attempting to calm down. In the end, the stove was lit, a picnic lunch was had, Dad went into town with the shopping list for Christmas and we sat around having a Quiet Day while beef stew bubbled quietly in the slow-cooker.

Someone was happy at this turn of events...

Remind you of anything?

Friday, November 17, 2006

A century

Grandma Christie was born a hundred years ago. This is a picture taken in 1980 (I think) ; she'd just finished playing cricket on the beach with 4 of her grandchildren, in a skirt and court shoes.

Grandma Christie liked gardening, and Rich Tea biscuits, and Margaret Thatcher, and horse-racing, snooker and cricket. She brought up four strong, opinionated daughters. She knew all about plants, and birds, and entertaining small children.

Grandma Christie didn't like her first name; or pop music; or quite a lot of things about the modern world. She didn't have a phone until nearly everyone had one, and collected 2p pieces in a brass jug on the mantelpiece, and went round the corner to the phone box in her fur coat.

Grandma Christie knitted and crocheted and embroidered, although I never actually saw her doing it... She cranked out school sweaters; and possibly socks; and made blankets; and beautiful crochet lace; and cutwork traycloths... She ran the sewing machine over pieces of paper to make stamps for kids to colour in.

Everyone needs a Grandma Christie.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


The KnitPicks order arrived, forwarded by an Internet friend Judy in the US, and indeed it was fabulous and even with customs and transatlantic postage, extremely cheap. Blogger needs to install some sort of virtual fondling option. So to speak.

On the right - 4 skeins of Bare laceweight. That's 3200 metres... I reckon that's 2 stupendous or 4 moderate lace projects... Front left, 4 skeins of Shimmer in Turquoise Splendor, for the Peacock Feathers Shawl ... Back left, 4 of a beautiful dark, dark, slightly heathered burgundy, Shadow in colour Vineyard,

which was completely unphotographable (it's much, much darker than this) but will probably make a lovely Paisley Long Shawl, if one of Miriam Felton's doesn't get to me first... Back right, the pièce de résistance, 4 of Alpaca Cloud in colour Autumn.

This is utterly gorgeous yarn... I have a note somewhere to say what it's going to be, but at the moment I'm just picking it up at intervals and squeaking...

Meanwhile some knitting has been done. Sherwood continues; this is it in terms of colour...

The photo kills the texture completely, but Blogger's disappeared the other photo, so I'll try and show that later...