Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Amelia watches over the new stash.... details/[gloating] to follow...


My only chance ever for Olympian Gold having been the Next-to-Last-Kid-to-be-Picked all the way through school.... It's not blocked, but I cast it off on Friday night at the completely wonderful SkipNorth in the presence of a dozen or so other knitters, and here's Ellen, wearing a white T-shirt which shows off the pattern, modelling it ...

So there. Really didn't think I had enough time to finish. Then I thought I had, and got complacent. And then I encountered the edging pattern, which was completely and utterly un-memorisable. I repeated it 54 times, and had to look at the pattern each and every single time. The separate edging pattern for the point was worked in Sainsbury's Cafe in Keighley, while Rosie was getting her chocolate-and-booze stash and before I did...

The rest of SkipNorth, and the visit to Gill's, will be blogged in a bit... It was wonderful though.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Textiles in Focus is over for another year. Not that it wasn't fun - it was - but I feel as if I've been run over repeatedly by a fleet of pantechnicons carrying the Rolling Stones' entire stage setup. Have just crawled out of the longest hot bath in living memory and am heating up last night's leftover curry, the food of champions.

Another very nice friendly bunch of needlefelters to teach today - two of whom I knew, which is always a little embarrassing, but they said they'd enjoyed themselves... The morning was quiet at the stand but we sold a few things in the afternoon, including Rosie's beautiful Silk Garden short-row scarf, which is going back to Adelaide with its Australian buyer (pictured - there were no mirrors in any of the loos, so I took a photo of her in it for her to see; miracles of modern technology etc. - she also checked she could wear it in half a dozen other combinations...).

I really enjoyed the weekend - chatting to people about knitting and other things, getting the odd freebie from one or two of the other suppliers - viscose fibre for needlefelting (and, potentially, spinning) from Winifred Cottage and some cotton tape from Gill - I think it's called Ibiza, but realise when I shared it out that I've kept the half-balls without the ball-bands on them!

Today's stash acquisition:

16 oz/1120m of CTH potluck worsted - to be combined with the leftovers from St Brigid, when she's done, and an odd ball of Kureyon. I fancy trying a top-down sweater now I've got the Denises, to see if it's easier to make it fit correctly... In the background, the aforementioned cotton tape - which isn't at all stretchy, and in nice colours, and therefore confounds my prejudices about tape yarns. I'm going to try knitting it up in lacy patterns and see how it works.

And to prove they're still alive and haven't been buried under a mound of yarn, we have an illustration of the principle that

if you put yarn on a table and attempt to photograph it, a cat will appear from nowhere; and still manage to look offended.

And last but fabulously; an unexpected, unwarranted present ... I asked UKHK for cool tea-cosy patterns months ago and there was a huge flurry of correspondence with lots of suggestions, but I never got round to making one ... my teapot remained forlornly unadorned. Meanwhile Rosie was designing and making one shortlisted for the NEC - and here is my gift (the photo is not good; I'm going to try and replace this with a daylight shot sometime soon, just as soon as there is actual daylight while I'm in the house...). It is bright, it is bubbly, it has a complicated slipstitch pattern, it fits... and my teapot is warm and happy.

I love it.... thanks!!

Friday, February 17, 2006


Survived the setup and first day of Textiles in Focus. These are not good photos, but give an idea of what the stand Rosie and I are sharing looked like yesterday.

And also a photo of Gill's Woolly Workshop stand in the setup process. Even more yarn was added after we crawled away for the day... Gill's daughter Catherine (hope I've got the spelling right) is helping this weekend and doing a fabulous job. (She doesn't have an attendant white cat, by the way; she's just wearing very cool furry boots...)

Anyone within travelling distance of Cambridgeshire, you need to see this stuff. There is Silkwood, there is Celestial Merino, there is more Cherry Tree Hill than the mind can comfortably accommodate. There is laceweight and megachunky. There is Adriafil. There are Brittany needles; there are Peace Fleece needles; there are Denises. I can attest to the Denises - I'm now the proud owner of a set and although I don't think I'll ever be a fan of circs (and only own one Addi, in 15mm, the Turkey Baster Size), these are definitely the nicest I've used.

The Olympics shawl has gone on to a circular now as I was starting to pull stitches off the straights when I got her out of my bag. Here she is, looking more like a pile of rainbow-coloured washing than ever. Progress... well. She's waist-length without much stretching, but I've only used about quarter of the yarn, which doesn't bode well given that we're about halfway through the Olympics! But I'm pleading mitigating circumstances on this and hoping to speed up next week. I'm also somewhat confused by this - I've done one repeat fewer than the whole shawlette is meant to be and the size is about right; think I'll just keep on going until I have about quarter of the yarn left at the end of a repeat and then start on the edging. Think I'll be trailing my mini-scales around with me to SkipNorth!

In non-knitting news, two small disasters. The first more major than the second - my iPod Shuffle has stopped working. This could be something to do with my having dropped it onto a pavement yesterday. Possibly. Anyway, it's flashing its little lights, the PC tells me I haven't got a disk in the USB drive and iTunes doesn't want to know. None of the suggested options in the manuals or on the Web work because they presume the PC does at least acknowledge the iPod's existence... Feeling slightly bereft; had to dig my old CD player out for the long, long bus journey to Cottenham this morning.

And the second just amusing. It was a tiring day; I'd generally spend a Friday sitting in front of a PC scowling, producing absurdly detailed work for unappreciative people and exchanging infrequent but surreal comments with my colleagues; and probably also feeling guilty about not making enough tea. Today I got to chat to loads of people about yarn for 7 hours. It was lovely, but totally knackering. I've done this as a member of Fibrefusion, but the sheer embarrassment of it being your own work you're pushing added to the fatigue factor. I sold some stuff; in fact I sold far more than I'd imagined I would (including the sock yarn I hoped to hoard to myself; but see below on that one, I got over it). So come 5:45 pm, when the bus from Cottenham *finally* completed the absurd Byzantine convulsions it indulges in while travelling through the massive Histon/Impington conurbation, and I'd just missed a bus, I headed for M&S food hall in the hopes of decent pizza, salads and wine. Came home, did some sampling for the classes tomorrow, heated up the pizza; attempted to open the wine.

Hmm. Yes, the whole corkscrew *has* just snapped off into the most expensive bottle of wine I've bought for my own consumption in a year or so (nothing exciting; I'm just a serious cheapskate most of the time). But the better corkscrew is still around. Somewhere. Maybe it will gallop heroically to the rescue. Nope, nowhere to be seen. Let's try the time-honoured method of pushing the cork into the wine. Nope again, it's a plastic closure, not a cork, and that trick doesn't work. OK. Let's look for the corkscrew again... and again... Ah, pizza is now cold; let's bung it back in the oven. While we're waiting, let's put away the washing up. Result. I have no idea why the corkscrew is in the washing up, let's just count blessings...

Back to knitting. Today's yarn haul from Woolly Workshop - anticlockwise from bottom, just to confuse things - one skein Celestial Merino in colour Blue Vesuvius (to make up for the sock yarn I sold...), one ball Adriafil Baba, one Adriafil Baroque. Pretty, pretty things...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Some progress

Didn't get anything knitted on the Olympic shawl on Sunday, but managed several rows at work at lunchtime on Monday - here she is at the moment.

The straight needles are doing fine so far but will have to get some boiling water onto the circs which were writhing around like baby snakes on Friday night. Theoretically, I'm halfway there (4 pattern repeats). Using the shawl calculator (this link downloads an Excel file...), I'm 25% there; which is better than I thought... But I've only used 30g of the 225g of yarn, so I'll have to keep an eye on that and maybe I can get a couple more repeats than the photo I'm working from shows...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Dye adventure

Spent yesterday dyeing, once I'd gone to the post office and picked up my long-overdue parcel of dyes - it was a good afternoon for drying skeins in the garden. Very glad I did it yesterday - woke up this morning to the sounds of cars splashing through puddles and realised it was pouring down. Just for once, my timing was right. Today I'll do some cotton, and dry it over the radiator, but yesterday I dyed this:

The stuff at the back is Rowan R2 paper tape which came in vile yucky colours - I bought three balls of pale grey, three of white and six of pale pink in the £1 bin at Sew Creative sometime last year, on the grounds that it was 100% nylon and would acid-dye. The stuff in the basket at the front is merino; here's a close-up

I had 2 balls of four-ply which will make a great pair of socks... and 6 of DK. There's also one ball of 2-ply laceweight in there...

With all that, not much progress on the Olympic knitting - I did 10 or so rows which isn't that great at this stage of the game when the rows are short. To speed things up I moved it back onto straight needles - really dislike circulars though they'll have their uses when there are too many stitches for the straights. Makes the shawl look like a big exotic moth...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

And we're off (or at least, cast on)...

The Knitting Olympics has started! We met at the Fort St George in England last night - Mary's husband took photos - thanks!

That's me on the left, next to Bekki and Anne. At that point I was still trying to find the start point on my yarn, the end having buried itself thorougly inside the centrepull ball...

And then here on the right are Scarlet and Mary.
Rosie was here too but ducked out of shot for the photos as she's cheerleading the team and wasn't mad enough to put her name down. We watched some of the frankly extraordinary opening ceremony (was reminded fondly of Italian TV) and attempted to get started. Reading charts in a pub while being distracted by other people's fab projects was somewhat of a challenge, but I got this much done by the end of the train-ride home

and think it's going to look rather wonderful when done... Tonight, the Charts Marked B; that's the A charts dealt with...

Today I'm dyeing yarn for Textiles in Focus next weekend - final batch of wool for now is in the steamer (22 skeins dyed today in all) but I've just remembered some Monoprix bargain yarn in nondescript grey I bought several years ago which could do with cheering up. I'll post pics when it's out and drying...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Team Cambridge

I made a button, and a couple of fellow Cambridge Olympians thought it was OK; so here it is.

Please use as you'd like. If you want to link to something, I've put up a skeleton Olympics blog at http://knitcambridge.blogspot.com, which will develop a few more bits and pieces over the next couple of days! Mail me at liz [at] lizmarley [dot] co [dot] uk or leave a comment if you'd like to be able to post to the KnitCambridge blog.

Am off to do an inventory of the stuff for Textiles in Focus (after a disastrous evening with a hat - managed to knit 17cm of the hat on a 40cm circular before realising it was a very short Moebius-type strip (and too small to pretend it's some sort of fancy cowl... ack....) - and sulk that my dye hasn't been delivered yet...

Knitting tonight at the Eagle - 7pm - yay!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

All-purpose festival day

Today is an interesting one in the calendar. I've always known it as Candlemas; it's also Imbolc and Groundhog Day. It's the official halfway point between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox; and Rosie pointed out in e-mail earlier on this evening that it's also St Brigid's day (if you follow the Imbolc link there's a load more information).

So I dragged out my St Brigid sweater (from Alice Starmore's 'Aran Knitting' book) and had a look at her, and she's still beautiful even if she only has half the back finished so far. A couple of pictures:

This is the best one in terms of colour;

and this one shows the three-dimensionality of her (and current lack-of-progress, shown by positions of needles) but looks like a completely different yarn. I'm using Jamieson's Soft Shetland in a colour coincidentally called Pagan...

Wish I could link to any of the really beautiful photos in the book, but they've been removed from the sites I know about, apparently under threat of legal action. Fell in love with this sweater about 10 years ago because of images on the Internet, and found the book the first week our local Borders opened 4 or so years ago, just before it became unobtainable.

If I hadn't been going to SkipNorth for the final bit of the Knitting Olympics, I'd have put finishing this one as my goal; but she's just too big to carry around (1kg of yarn or so by the end)...