Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I decided not to attend our regular fortnightly knit group meeting tonight, because of a) an exceptionally social week (by my standards at least) and b) I felt like saying in and make some progress with the booties I'm knitting for my forthcoming nephew. As penance for being a hermit, I'll update the blog before starting on the DVDs.

There is another two months to go before my sister's due date, and apparently the baby already weighs more than 2kg, so I'm not exactly aiming for the newborn size. The pattern is Stay-on baby booties (scroll down for the English version), and I'm using the leftover Madelinetosh Sock from the Ishbel I finished over the weekend. I had 39g left over, and decided that the wool was too lovely to hibernate in the leftover stash pile. I've been using both straight and sock needles, depending on the requirements of the section. I'm using 2mm needles, and when I switched to knitting on another project for a while (Ella's cardigan on 4.5mm's) it felt like I was knitting with tree trunks. I was worried about running out of wool, so I made the leg 6cm instead of 8cm as stated in the pattern. I'm almost finished with the first bootee, and as usual my panic was baseless, I should have more than enough wool to finish comfortably.

The Ishbel I finished was supposed to be a gift for someone else, but once it was finished I decided that I deserved to keep something pretty for myself for once. I think the result is lovely, and I'm likely to use the pattern again for another of my Christmas knitting projects. The Ishbel takes my count of completed lace shawls to 5 in the last 10 months, with one more in progress and another one planned before Christmas. I'm currently knitting (in the vague 'it's in my knitting basket' way) Ruffle my feathers in autumn colours. Somehow I've become distracted by several other projects lately, and once I finish the booties and Ella's cardigan I really should get back to the Christmas shawls.

I also finished two hats - one for me and one for a friend's 5-year old son. A few months back, whilst in Dublin, I received an email from my friend A. She was in Leeds at the time, had noticed Baa Ram Ewe, and like a good friend was asking whether I needed anything. And like a good friend, in return I said I had plenty of wool, thanks, but to pick up supplies if she needed anything knitted for her or her family. She came back with some King Cole Merino Blend Aran (100% wool but machine washable) for a hat for her son, and I duly (eventually) knit it up into the Marsan Watchcap. A boring knit, but at least he should not be able to find too much fault with it. I did make the hat longer than the pattern stated, so that it could cover his ears (as opposed to the hat that I knitted him last winter, which did not quite...).

The other hat was a Meret, from my first attempt at hand dyeing wool. Which I still want to blog about. I loved the pattern, and found it a quick knit. I'm just not so sure of the look on me - either I need to get used to how I look wearing a beret, or I need to find some other person that can wear this hat successfully. It did whet my appetite for knitting more Woolly Wormhead hats, so watch this space. Although where I'm going to fit that in considering the current queue, I'm not so sure.

Submit to the knit!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Scotland 2010

I've been putting off this post for ages, because of the mixed feelings evoked by Knitcamp 2010.


  • Met many, many interesting people from around the world. Just wished I was more pro-active in getting contact details for some people.
  • Gained more confidence in my knitting. Will try and be less of a perfectionist in future and just experiment a bit more.
  • Enjoyed most of the classes I attended.
  • The Marketplace - managed to keep myself to a budget, but it was hard going. 
  • Beautiful location (and the uphill back to the accommodation might have helped a little in compensating for eating three substantial cooked meals a day).
  • Some lovely outings - my own or those organised by Knitcamp - such as visits to Edinburgh, Stirling Castle, the Wallace Monument, Loch Katrine and New Lanark Mill. 
  • Not as advertised - in the end I only did one class that stayed unchanged from when I booked it in terms of tutor or content. Also various other niggles during the week, such as the saga of the goody bags (Ravelry link). Never got mine.
  • Lack of communication from the organisers when things went wrong. 
The stash was enhanced (although it probably did not need more enhancement). I came back with:
  • 10 balls of New Lanark Mill Aran in Ecru - I won this in a prize draw during the trip to New Lanark Mill. Have been using it to try hand dyeing for the first time (will be reported on in a separate post).
  • 3 skeins of Old Maiden Aunt Alpaca Silk DK/Sportweight, colour Dreich. This had been on my shopping list for a while, it is destined to become a Goodale (Ravelry link).
  • 1 skein of Old Maiden Aunt Merino/Cashmere/Nylon 4-ply, colour Bluebells, destined to become a shawl for my sister. It is superwash, so hopefully it can survive her attitude towards laundry.
  • 1 skein of Artist's Palette Smoothie Sock, so that one day I can try and make nice socks.
  • Lovely buttons from Textile Garden. Will need to seek this shop out again for future button purchases.
  • 3 100g Bluefaced Leicester rovings from Freyalyn in beautiful blues/greys/greens. I'm having trouble photographing the colours successfully, but I'm really looking forward to spinning these - I plan to ply the three slightly different colourways together.
  • I also bought a necklace and some soap from Injabulo, for a small taste of South Africa.
Enough now, better get off to work so that I can afford more fibre!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mindless fun

Equipment: Google Chrome browser (or equivalent)

Step 1: Find a pattern you like online (e.g. via Ravelry), that is only available in a language that is foreign to you.
Step 2: Get frustrated by the fact that you can't read the pattern.
Step 3: Notice the bar at the top of the browser offering to translate the page. Click on 'Translate'.

"... When the song is 33-34-35-36-36-37 cm in height, with head in both hands at the edges of the road for every 2 row 1x4-4-5-5-6-6 s and then start raglankavennukset. Ie both edges of the ..."

Still, I should be recreate the pattern.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Testing the mobile blogger

Guess where I'm off to in about 36 hours' time? Just checking to see whether I can realistically blog from the iphone.

Had a very satisfying day, with a visit to the dentist proving once again that I have a very active imagination. And for the first time in months I can smile with confidence! Also had a haircut in preparation for my trip.
Knitting projects and apparatus for next week sorted, just need to pack some optional extras like clothes and toiletries. Last time I checked the forecast it seemed like packing a sun hat or sandals would be wildly optimistic, but one can always hope!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Glamorgan Rd,Richmond,United Kingdom

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Back on planet Knit

Umm, I seemed to have disappeared for a while, but I'm back. I've been composing posts in my mind ever since the last one, but I just lacked the will to sit down and do it. Story of my life...

So what have I been doing? Apart from working and eating and sleeping, I've managed some fibre folly as well. I finished the Transverse Cardigan (Ravelry link). It has been much too hot to actually wear it, but but I should get some wear out of it when it gets cooler. I might move the buttons a bit higher; it looked right when I sewed it on, but when I wear the cardi the button bands do not quite line up at the neckline. I need not have worried about running out of yarn - I only used 8.5 skeins, which means I have 4.5 left over. I've just cast on Sonja's cardigan (Ravelry link) with the left over yarn - my friend Antoinette's 3 year old daughter is in a pink phase, so this should be perfect for her. I love the 'in threes: a baby cardigan' pattern by Kelly Herdrich, and will probably be knitting the same pattern for another 3 year old. The yarn for the two projects are quite different (one in the rather dense 40% wool/60% cotton of Mirasol Cotanani, the other in very soft and much loftier 100% merino from Coldharbour Mill/ Fibre Harvest/ John Arbon), so I'll be able to compare how the same pattern knits up in different yarns.

I've also finished another shawl (my third one this year) - it's the Travelling Woman by Liz Abinante of, using some sock yarn by Nurturing fibres (bough from Purewool) that I brought back from my Christmas holiday in South Africa. It is destined to be a Christmas gift - better not say who for, just in case!

Lastly, I also knitted some fingerless mitts from some of my own handspun, inspired by the SpinDoctor podcast KAL. This was lovely fibre from FeltStudioUK, which I totally mangled on the Ashford Joy. The Joy and I are not getting along very well, and I was trying to do a thicker yarn than usual, which did not work. The result was a very uneven yarn, but the knitted product looks nice, in my opinion. Only one problem, the one mitt is noticeably (when feeling them) chunkier than the other... I might have to keep them for myself!

That's enough for now - don't want to overwhelm anyone with a 3000 word essay just because I've not posted for ages. I'm on leave this week, so I should be able to fit in another post of two before I'm off to Knit Camp in Scotland this weekend. Cheers!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Stitching myself

Some of you might already know about the Stitch Yourself exhibit, a joint project by Stitch London and the Science Museum. More information here. People are invited to create small version of themselves, and knitting, crochet and sewing patterns are provided to create the blank bodies.

I could not resist the temptation to make a mini me, and last Saturday evening I started. It did not take very long, and by the time I went to bed that night I had the body, clothing, hair and eyes sorted. On Sunday I added a mouth, shoes and drop spindle, and it was done. Can't believe how mush fun it was, probably because it was almost instant gratification, something I don't often get from my slow knitting and spinning.

I knit the body from Paton's Diploma Gold DK, using less than 10g for the whole body. I knit is using magic loop, and did kfb instead of make 1's. I probably should have paid more attention to my decreases - there is a very clear line running down the one side of the face, which I only noticed after adding the arms/legs/hair, i.e. no going back and putting the crease at the back. I blame the lighting late at night...

For the hair, I used reddish-brown alpaca roving (bough from Coldharbour Mill), which looks eerily like real hair (the picture to the left does not do the colour justice). It was a bit tricky to anchor it -luckily it will not be scored - and it was a bit flyaway, so I added some hairspray before I mailed it. There was no way I was going to create a hairstyle similar to my own, so the hair (as with everything else) is more of an abstract representation than a photo image.

The eyes are from Debbie Bliss Pure Silk, and a little bit of sock wool provided the mouth. If you look carefully, there are earrings made from jump rings (beading findings).

The short-sleeved cardigan is a top-down design from leftover Abstract Cat sock yarn. Luckily the arms of the doll are really thin, so the tiny armholes were not a problem. Because of the tiny dimensions, my horrible seaming would have created too much bulk. I want this cardigan for myself now... Please note the little shawl pin (utilising more beading supplies).

The trousers (probably my least favourite part) are from Rowan Denim - because it's denim, of course. Turned out a bit bulky and baggy, but I did not feel like redoing them.

The shoes were tricky. If I had thought about it earlier, I would probably have knitted them when doing the legs. Being optimistic that summer might have arrived, I decided on sandals. They are made from cork from a wine bottle, and little bits of velvet ribbon that was attached to the lable of some clothing item I bought (I always knew saving useless bits will come is useful some day). I sewed the cork soles to the feet for stability, then glued the ribbon to the soles. Really hope the glue holds.

The piece de resistance is the drop spindle I added as symbol of my current addiction to spinning. I very briefly considered a spinning wheel, but did not think it would travel well, even if I could make a passable mini version. Despite appearances, it is not made from a toothpick, because I could not find one. It was whittled from a wooden knife, and then sanded to smooth the edges. The whorl is more wine bottle cork. There is even a little hook at the bottom (did I mention beading supplies?), although it is not very clear, because of the glue anchoring the fibre to it. And no, the wool on the spindle was not actually spun on the mini spindle. It is Bluefaced Leicester, which I also used to stuff the body with (it is from a sample pack which contained small amounts of wool of different types - I've spun plenty of BFL before so I felt I could use the sample for this instead).

Mini me was squeezed into an envelope this morning and mailed to Stitch London - hope she arrives safely!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Joy oh joy

I meant to do post earlier this week, but things got away from me. Mostly my insatiable need to buy a new camera, and it took me many hours of internet research to convince myself that I really DESERVED the very expensive camera I wanted. It's been ordered and dispatched, but will probably only arrive after the weekend, so playing with my new camera will be next week's excuse for not posting.

I traveled to Lisbon for a 4-night long weekend last week, and I LOVE it. What a beautiful city! On the other hand, any place that has blue skies and sunshine will probably get my vote after this past winter, so I might be easy to please. I came away without any sunburn (SPF30 rules) and without any souvenir yarn. The shops were closed for a large part of my time there, so that might have helped to save me from myself.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the Knit Nation programme included some spinning classes. How I managed to ignore that information for so long I don't know. Then I noticed 'bring your own wheel'. My Kiwi is not a travel wheel (especially not on the train, my main mode of transport to London), so I was suddenly consumed by the need for a portable wheel. As luck would have it, someone was selling a second hand Joy on Ebay, which I managed to obtain. It's a well-used single treadle, but it works fine. Not as fine as my Kiwi, but maybe more practice will improve things. Now I am signed up for two workshops at Knit Nation, both the Friday workshops by Judith Mackenzie McCuin.

Not doing much knitting, between sightseeing and internet surfing. I did cast on for the Transverse Cardigan mentioned in the previous post. However, I've been worrying about running out of yarn, especially seeing as I want a longer body than the pattern is written for. Last night I checked Ebay, and what luck, someone is selling three balls of the yarn I need. Because of dye lot issues, I'm planning on knitting the garter stitch sections in the Ebay yarn (if someone does not grab it from under my nose), and because the pattern starts with a garter stitch section, I've frogged the bit I've done to wait for the additional yarn. That's my excuse for not knitting and I'm sticking to it.

I tried some navajo plying tonight. I've tried before, not very hard, but tonight I decided that I really would try and concentrate. I've got some lovely maroon/pink English Wool Blend (Ravelry link) from Spinning a Yarn that I'd like to navajo ply to preserve the colours, so I practised on some undyed Cheviot samples that I spun up on the Joy. Some of it's a bit messy, but I think I'm getting there, thank to the great video from Sarah Anderson. Looks like the weather might be miserable this weekend, so maybe if I stop procrastinating and do all my chores early on, I can spend some time improving my navajo plying, and possible even move on to the good stuff.

But now off to bed. I WILL try and be on time for work tomorrow (unlike all the other days this week)...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Another folly?

I knit. I spin. I crochet (badly). I stash (prodigiously). And now I blog about it too. But at least blogging does not a) cost money or b) attract moths, right?

Since I bought my first spinning wheel (an Ashford Kiwi) in January, I have had to split my limited hobby time even more finely, which means I haven't been getting a lot of knitting done. I did finish a few projects, such as my Cloud Non-Bolero which hibernated throughout the winter. It is now adding some purple to my slightly monochrome wardrobe. Not sure how much colour purple adds to the black, greys and blues though...

I am currently trying to finish a cowl knitted with some of my handspun. It is taking much too long, mostly because of all the time I spend creating even more handspun. But I feel I really need to make a dent in my stash, which is growing faster than ever thanks to spinning, so I guess I'll just have to sleep less.

I'm also knitting Rosamund's Cardigan from Interweave Knits Fall 2009, in Rowan Kid Classic, but I cannot really imagine wearing anything that warm soon (aren't I optimistic), so it's 'resting'.

Of course there is a long list of items waiting in my recently re-organised Ravelry queue. As usual, the top spot is occupied by some selfish knitting, in the shape of the Transverse Cardigan (another Interweave Knits pattern, this time from Spring 2010). I really want to use my Mirasol Cotanani (John Lewis sale booty), just waiting for the swatch to dry to see whether it will work.
I also need to try the Duck booties from Knitty - I found out my sister was pregnant about a week after I first saw the pattern and wondered who I could knit it for, so it's meant to be. I'm no sock knitter, but I have several months to get it right.

Anyway, enough for now, time to go to bed. Only three workdays this week before I go to Lisbon for a long weekend!