Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Drying out...

... briefly, before the next lot of forecast rain ...

About the only advantage of having Tuesdays off (it's a daft day, really) is when there's a Bank Holiday Monday - the extra day always feels very decadent. I've been sitting drinking tea, thinking about all the housework I ought to have been doing, but actually listening to a rather fabulous Georgette Heyer romance on CD, sewing in ends on the front of the sweater

and knitting sleeves (keeping them in step because some of the yarns are in short supply...)

and spinning up some of the Jacob fleece I washed at the beginning of the month.
Not expertly spun, I know, but it was fun to do, and practice makes perfect and all that... this is the first bobbin, and while it does still have some bits of straw and so on in it, a satisfying amount came out during carding and spinning...

But there's no pleasing some - Bug has sat around disconsolately waiting for the rain to stop...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Some spring colour

... in the absence of anything other than green and grey out of the window. It's been chucking it down steadily here for two days, which is traditional for a Bank Holiday but still...

Avant le déluge, I went off to Kings Lynn and had a lovely morning full of bargains; I bought stripy things...

Two towels I couldn't resist; a sheet of fancy paper for making book covers and the like...

I bought flowery things:

My favourite perfume, usually all-but-unobtainable here, in special edition and ridiculously reduced in price, and some more pretty book-cover paper (if only this had been fabric...)

And there's a lot of knitting going on round here but most of it's both secret and unexciting to photograph (pictures of a Slightly Larger Heap of Crumpled Stuff not being guaranteed to rivet the attention). But look, a Pretty Thing!

More flowers, for Lorna (for a change, the colours are pretty accurate here). I took the Marigold chart from the tote-bag recipe in IK Summer 2006 and it's looking very pretty, although it's reminding me of why, although Intarsia sounds like an attractive Mediterranean island, it's not one I'm keen to visit too often. I did some more last night after taking this picture and am over halfway there now... Stripy sleeves to go, which should be fun DVD-watching knitting...

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Favourite word, favourite time of day, favourite time of year... Bug seems to like it too...

In the coolness of the evening with the doors and windows open, it's easier to catch up on random things...

Went to the Sacred exhibition at the BL last Tuesday (15th) and introduced Jan and Kate (my cousin-in-law, or presumably belle-cousine in French, which is nicer...); you know you've done the right thing when you realise your presence is pretty superfluous to requirements by the time you get the coffee back to the table... Kate then took me out for a very lovely birthday dinner (I think this is probably the final one of the 40th) at Galvin, and it was fabulous. I have also been luxuriating in body sugar and shower wash from these people; thanks, Kate!.

Kate and my cousin Kevin are moving next Friday, estate agents and solicitors willing, to a very nice looking house in Hexham... and they're having a baby (various other powers willing) in August.

And in a segue worthy of Mike Reid at his breakfast-show best, I also got this via e-mail on Monday: look! a niecephew ((c) Franklin) -in-waiting, courtesy of my SIL! (names removed from this because I didn't actually ask them or anything before posting this...) Niecephew is due at the end of November... and brother and SIL are coming to stay here for a few days in June which will be excellent...

The needles are going to be burning this year. There may not be much knitting content on show here though; all parties have this blog address...

And just as a totally random photo, I saw this on the way into work today. Look at those colours...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

For my next trick...

Lorna has a birthday in a fortnight or so; she's going to be 6, and she's had a knitted thing from me every year since she was born. So there's a Tradition. I'm thinking about Imp from the Rowan Pipsqueaks book... but with more colours and a different front incorporating a big happy flower rather than some snide parent-oriented lettering. Originally I was thinking about pink with a contrasting front, but looking at the colours I have in Cotton Glacé and associated yarns,

I'm now thinking about green with contrasting pink and orange bits... Will let you know.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Hanging Garden

The Hanging Garden stole is finished! And a strange finishing it was, too.

The yarn is 100% cashmere from Colourmart, and is oiled. I hadn't used it before, and hadn't taken in the full implications of the washing instructions, having been too impatient to join in the KAL for this project; so when I went into their site after casting off yesterday and found 'hot water and detergent, hair conditioner, dry in the tumble dryer' it was slightly worrying. But hey, it's only 10 months' worth of lace, after all... Here it is "before" in the 'pile of old washing' stage... and the detail is after washing but before drying.
It came out beautifully - the yarn bloomed in the water to start with, but the spinning and tumble drying really brought out the softness (I only gave it 5 minutes in the tumble dryer, but that was enough to dry it completely). It finished up completely flat, as if I'd blocked it. It also shrank - a LOT. It probably lost a fifth of its length and at least that in width (instead of the stipulated 80" by 22", this one is 64" by 15"), but the stitches tightened up beautifully, and the pattern acquired a sort of 3-D quality. Normally my knitting is very loose, so having these little tiny lacy stitches is a novelty...

And it's now wonderfully soft and luxurious, and exactly the right size for its intended use. I always have this illusion that one day I'll do 'elegant casual' - it's a complete delusion, of course, but it doesn't stop me trying...

So - the details. Pattern Hanging Garden from Sivia Harding - as ever beautifully charted (and with written directions for those who prefer...); size 6 Toho raku beads from Beads Direct, heavy laceweight cashmere from Colourmart (col. D495), 3.25mm needles. Started in the garden of the Blue during last year's June or July KTog there. Finished weight: 110g.

Next time, I think I'd wash the cashmere beforehand - I didn't get a nice sensual experience knitting it, and it would have been wonderful to knit with something as soft as this yarn has turned out!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


by Nic; here goes.

“Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs the 7 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and to read your blog.”

1. For 3 years in the early 80s, I read the Bible cover to cover each year. This has not made me a better person, but I'm your woman if you need to know about smitings and arcane measuring systems...

2. I once wore fishnets, a leotard and a top hat in a performance of Joseph and His Technicolour Dreamcoat. (I think I was 7 at the time)

3. I collect the very strange 1930s books of Dornford Yates, and special-edition 50p pieces.

4. I spent years thinking CDs would never catch on, and resisted having a PC at home for a similar period.

5. I have a white streak in the back of my hair, inherited from my mother (I was once dragged across a room by my hair, so the nit-nurse could show it to a colleague).

6. I still have a tendency to suck my left thumb. The nail there is undamaged; in contrast, my right thumbnail grows out as if it's been put through industrial machinery...

7. My favourite smells are tar, fresh paint, new wood and grated ginger.

I'm tagging some people who may or may not take up the challenge; EJ, dododumpling, Anne, MaryDeB, Wye Sue, KarenE and Lixie - sorry if you've had this one before and resisted, ladies...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Some of this fleece...

... appears to be purring.

That's the last lot drying - had to bring it in from the downpour earlier on...

Knitting meme...

I've seen this all over the place but swiped this copy from Nic - thanks! Things I've done in bold, those I'd like to do in italics, ideas which don't thrill me in normal type...

Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down

Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting

Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffiti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street)
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
Teaching a child to knit
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money
Button holes
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colors
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cozies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars
Olympic knitting
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn
Knitting with DPNs
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
Knitting art
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener BO
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with self-patterning/self-striping/variegating yarn
Stuffed toys
Baby items
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm warmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

Thursday, May 10, 2007


This gansey from No Sheep for You is the most addictive bit of knitting I've done for a while. So much so that I stayed up until nearly 1 last night muttering 'just one more row' to myself. I noticed that the back is meant to be plain and the pattern only on the front, which seemed wrong to me; and also less interesting to knit. So I did the front first, and am working on the back to match now... The extra set of Denise cords which arrived from Woolly Workshop yesterday morning have already been pressed into service (I got the pink ones this time, to try and keep track of both sets!)

and I'm only 4 rows off starting the pattern on the back now, too, having knocked off the other 24 while watching The West Wing this evening...

Washing Day

On Tuesday I tackled the fleece. I got some good advice from Isabella on this - the course I did yearsandyears ago emphasised spinning 'in the grease' but most of the spinners I've met since then recommend washing the stuff beforehand... When I tipped it out of the bag and separated out the really mucky stuff before reading her instructions again, I looked up from the PC and saw this:

which looked disturbingly as if a pair of shaggy dogs had come to stay... After a couple of soakings in hot water and a gentle rinse, the colour went from mostly-brown to a lovely greyish-brown and white combination. This is the best picture I have...
Because of the weather, I tied the batches of fleece loosely up in some white tulle I had from feltmaking and gave them a spin in the washing machine which meant they were three-quarters dry by the time they got out into the garden...
One of the tulle packages ended up on the table overnight... which made a certain cat very happy.
I still have about half the bag to do, but will try spinning some of this up at the weekend first.
But for real spinning inspiration look over at Anne's blog for her handspun knitted bag, which she brought to KTog on Tuesday!

Monday, May 07, 2007

On the needles

I haven't knitted an adult sweater in the round before, but when I saw the She Gansey in No Sheep for You I realised I finally had a use for the All Seasons Cotton I got from Liberty's sale several years ago. This is a discontinued colour called Paprika, which can look like either garnets or tomato soup, depending on the light... It's so immensely quick and easy compared to my other projects (lace, more lace, lacy sock, Starmore cabled sweater...) that it's wonderful fun to knit... I'm lengthening the body and sleeves, or I'd already be up to the armholes by now, but going roundandroundandroundandround is quite addictive...

Might have known...

... that the "I can't count to 8" scarf would still be taunting me to the end... I'd had this vision of pulling out the end points (4) and adding the previously-made tassels (8). Until I blocked it yesterday. It is immensely long (84" or 210cm), and the same width as the folded-out cover of A Presumption of Death (standard size hardback thriller), which was what I had to hand as a ruler at the time... So I went to one end and pinned out the four points;
and then to the other end and pinned out the... five points. And then wondered why, given that it was a ripple-stitch pattern and I hadn't grafted it in the middle, I had ever imagined there would be only 8 points. And then I went back to the pattern (Brickwork, scroll down to see it) and noticed that she hadn't pinned out points after all and it was just the weight of the tassel...

But I'd started pinning by then, and I really liked the points, and had a little yarn left, so behold ... nine tassels ...
It seemed fitting somehow, from a pattern which had got the better of me all the way through ! It did block beautifully though, and I'm going to enjoy wearing it.

Friday, May 04, 2007

I can't work out...

... whether this particular look expresses a) disdain at my audacity in photographing her; b) disapproval of the truly awful cover of what is otherwise a very wonderful book; or c) disappointment at my less-than-stellar tableclearing skills... It's got cold again here over the last day or so, so she's sleeping on the table rather than under her favourite hollyhock in the garden (she's beaten the soil down flat under that one; better not plant on it...)

But in other news I took delivery of this:

a binbag containing 2.5 kg of Jacob fleece. Freshly sheared, veryvery sheepy, and full of fantastically sticky lanolin... from a sheep which is thriving less than 5 miles away, too...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Crossing the line

This may not look dramatic

but that line there represents half the Hanging Garden stole knitted. I've been plugging away with this one since last July or so, off and on - and have 7 and a bit of the 14 48-row repeats complete now... It's not that complicated, and it's fun to knit once I get down to it - think it's the combination of there being two rows in each repeat which catch me out every time (25 and 49, for anyone also doing this one), the cats having had it off the needles twice (hence the lifelines, which I don't usually use) and the rather threadlike blue cashmere (which is oiled - the bit I washed bloomed beautifully but for now I'm persevering with something which feels like dental floss. Another time I'll skein it up and wash it beforehand). I have a new resolution - 12 rows a day, which take me around 40 minutes; and if I do that, I'll be finished by the end of the month; wish me luck. I started this new plan spectacularly badly by taking only one knitting needle on the bus with me today (stop smiling smugly, circular-needle devotees; I know, I know...)

On Monday I went down to London for a very interesting visit to the Friends' House Library on Euston Road for work - I learned a lot about Quakerism, a little about cataloguing, made a potentially useful work contact, and picked up a wonderful book about Textiles and Propaganda in the remaindered bookshop over the road from the BL (my birthday present from my aunt). Anyway, the book, the sock and I went to the BL and waited for Jan - here's the Socks that Rock sock in progress in the plaza.
It was all a bit bizarre - some guy photographed me knitting, and a security guard came over to see what I was doing while I was taking this picture... Probably because security was really tight; we'd arranged to meet in the foyer but I was turfed out, and Jan was having a nightmare on the buses due to an Incident at Brixton, so I sat in the sun and knitted. About 10 minutes after they'd emptied the entrance hall, a pair of black cars arrived and some very sharp-suited men wearing skullcaps got out - I assume they were an Israeli personage to see the Sacred exhibition and his security; it was all very interesting, anyway...
Another couple of pictures from the BL; Paolozzi's "Newton" hulking over the Plaza (the sun was behind him

and the gates from inside - I thought the lettering made an interesting pattern against the office building behind...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Some finishings...

A constructive post!

I've done quite a lot of knitting recently - but one of the biggest pieces was a secret. Here it is, an Icarus for Jan in some Fleece Artist/HandMaiden Angel Hair, a 70% mohair/30% nylon yarn... the second one I've made to this pattern, and if they haven't discontinued this yarn by the time Ally Pally comes round, I'll be in the market for some for me...

I also finished the Jitterbug socks - pattern as on the ballband except for the 3 x 1 rib and a short-row heel; lovely, lovely yarn.

This is a small shawl for a friend in Canada - she's had it in the post now, so I can blog it. It's another of the Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl which is a really lovely pattern to knit - just complicated enough to keep your interest, but nice DVD knitting. The yarn is some hand-dyed sock yarn (my dyeing - but I can't remember which colours I used). Here it is on the lovely needles from Pavi Yarns

and here it is in the blocking process getting Amelia's Patent Dryness Test

and the stitch detail...

Some baby knitting also got done. This is the Baby Kimono from the wonderful Mason-Dixon book, in some hand-dyed Jaeger superwash merino. The baby's a girl - I'll hand the kimono over to the father when he gets back from paternity leave next week...

And a Baby Surprise Jacket - which was great fun to knit. This is Schoeller and Stahl yarn from Web of Wool - in the Hummingbird colourway. Like Trekking, it doesn't have a true repeat, and like Trekking I knew this would irritate the hell out of me in knitting socks. I really did think I was laid-back enough not to care that my socks didn't exactly match - but nope. So I know what my stash of Trekking is going to become - with this pattern, because of the really strange construction, the pattern matches perfectly!

And I found half a dozen buttons in my stash which match the yarn and are about the same size (I'm not quite that much of a symmetry freak). I don't know who this is for - there are several babies due to friends this summer - so the buttons will wait until I know its gender - you make buttonholes on both fronts, which is another wonderful feature of this pattern!

I hope to have some more finished stuff to show soon - the endless Trekking scarf which SkipNorthers may remember is finally done and I'll block that tomorrow morning before work; and Ragna is knitted, but I don't like the neckband, so I'll have to do that again... But as I only have one set of socks and one lace thing on the needles - tonight, I'm actually going to start some things!!