Waking up

It is time to wake up and get this blog moving.

Nothing dramatic has been happening; I have been toddling along with life and not writing about it.  There has been a significant amount of sleeping.  Knitting projects have come and gone; some have stuck around and been finished whilst others have fallen by the wayside.  I think I have purchased more wool than I have used which is not the correct way to make progress in this life.

So, let’s all take a deep breath and jump in.

Image

 

(Lovely wool isn’t it…)

A collective noun for knitwear designers

Is there a collective noun for knitwear designers?  I would like to nominate “A cruelty of knitwear designers”.

There are many thousands of brilliant knitting patterns out there that people have designed and we love them for that.  But bear in mind that, within living memory, someone also designed this:

“Cable it” – cable it all

Oh, and you’re thinking perhaps that hideous design can only be inflicted upon children?

Astonishingly, this pattern is titled “It’s so cool”

Take heed, men of the world.  If you allow your wife to knit in the end you are going to be wearing a hand-knitted lacy blouse.

I haven’t edited out the instructions because I am sure these must be out of copyright and, anyway, really, no-one wants to knit them! *

(Grateful thanks to Golden Hands circa 1976-77 for these very special garments.)

(* If you do want to knit either of these monstrosities, let me know and I will arrange an intervention.)

Hang on

This blog post is entitled “Hang on” as a salute to my darling grandson who turned 3 a couple of weeks ago.  When he was very young he had a very impressive, not to mentioned expressive, Gallic shrug which seemed to indicate an internal questioning of the world around him.  “Hang on” appears to be a verbalisation of this.  When faced with something new, or when wanting to buy time to work out what something means, his first action is to claim “Hang on…”

I’m making a little progress on my striped Rimini cardigan.

First front progress

I have a deadline for this project.  It’s got to be finished and ready to wear by the middle of October so I can take it on holiday with me.  Suddenly it’s September and I’ve realised I’ve got to actually work on this.  So I am going to try and commit myself to knitting one pattern repeat each evening.  The pattern repeat is 30 rows – 10 of colour one; 2 of colour two, 2 of colour one, 6 of colour two; 2 of colour one, 8 of colour three. Since I haven’t worked on my knitting on weekday evenings for several months, I am not sure if I will be able to pull off this regime.  I just feel I need to in order to make the progress I need to make.

I subscribed recently to the Rowan magazine.  I have done this once before, but I am always undecided whether it is worth it.  I like Rowan’s autumn/winter collections and am never particularly keen on their spring/summer collections so I would usually only buy one of the two magazines that I will get on the subscription.  However, the whole subscription is made almost worth it for me by one single sentence in the July 2012 newsletter.  In an article on “The Rise of the Fair Isle Technique”, Jane Crowfoot writes “It also seems, despite popular belief, that cutting and steeking the knitting also originates from the Scandinavian style of knitting, and was not practised on the islands until the middle of the last century.”  O, music to my ears (or, rather, eyes, as I was reading it).  I have been mystified by the growing clamour of knitters who espouse knitting everything in the round and steeking in half a dozen separate places in order to render the piece into a garment.  It seems so counter-intuitive to me.  Of course, it is good to have options and if you find it difficult to seam a garment together, or to construct a colour pattern on purl rows, then by all means knit it in the round and cut into it to create the necessary openings for sleeves, neck etc.  You will be following a fine Scandinavian tradition that suits you perfectly.  Me?  I will be working with another tradition altogether.

It is my intention to do a review of the Rowan Magazine Issue 52, but I will need to do more than the quick flick-through I’ve managed so far.  I do most of my reading in the bath and the Rowan magazines are not bath-friendly at all.

So, until next week, when I hope I shall be nearing the end of the first front of my cardigan, I shall just say…

“Hang on!”

Knitting Ketchup

Was it really May when I last wrote?  Oh, dear.  Well, in my down-time I have been busy catching up on podcasts and, if not knitting as much as I’d like, knitting as much as the mood and my tendency to overheat allow me.

I finished my grey Rimini cardigan with none of the usual dithering over buttons.  Having completed the buttonholes, I simply looked to my button box and it produced the perfect set.

Pretty buttons

I am really pleased with the finished product although it is slightly too warm to wear during the summer.  Well, it would suit summer evenings but primarily it was always intended as part of my work wardrobe.  The pattern is Rimini by Martin Storey from an old Jaeger book that is long out of print.  I modified it by omitting the waist shaping and by having it button only from neck to bust.  The lace pattern and main construction are as written.  It is knitted in Supersoft Lambswool by J C Rennie in the Silver Grey colour way.  I have approximately 650g of this left on the cone; enough for a longer-length cardigan.

A lovely cardigan

There was a tiny bit of avoidance in finishing that project.  It took me ages to steel myself to do the front band and collar then, of course, when I did they were utterly painless so silly me for procrastinating.  However, it did give me an opportunity to knit up some very purple socks.

These socks are very purple

Plain socks in Colinette Jitterbug in a colourway that I cannot recall the name of.  It is very purple, though.   I can’t wait for the cold weather so I can wear these.  I’ve got my eye on a purple checked dress which they would go very nicely with indeed.

Twisted rib for the heel

Particularly gorgeous spikes of colour in this yarn.

Just as I was drawing to the conclusion of the grey Rimini cardigan, I bought a very nice, quirky linen tunic dress in a neutral shade and when I got it home I found that it was a neutral shade that not a single one of my cardigans would work with.  It has, I realised, a slightly gingery tinge to it which is just far enough removed from my usual greys and blues and cool pinks and even the greens I gravitate towards to present me with a problem.  The solution lay in the miscellaneous small cones of “lucky dip” wool that I ordered from J C Rennie earlier this year.  Although none of them are enough to do a garment, three of the shades were perfect with the new dress and these were later supplemented by a ball of Katia sock yarn from my stash.

I’ve already completed the back of the new cardigan which I’m also basing on the Rimini pattern since it fits me so well.

Back of my new cardigan

I worked out the stripe pattern by referring to some old Rowan magazines.

Close-up of the striping

As soon as I started this it reminded me how much I enjoyed the two Fair Isle jumpers I knit many years ago.  That is hardly surprising since the Rennie wool is precisely the kind of wool I would knit a Fair Isle garment with.

Before I wrap up, I just wanted to mention a brilliant video podcast I’ve been watching through the summer.  It’s the DramaticKnits podcast and I really recommend you give it a go.  It is co-hosted by Steve, a school teacher, and Callie who works in an office.  They are based in Illinois.  Now, I have given a lot of podcasts, both audio and video, a spin over the years and it takes something very special for me to keep watching.  Whatever that special thing is, Steve and Callie have it.  They are fun to watch, have interesting projects and they seem to have very real lives.  By that, I mean that they don’t seem to sit at home all day every day knitting like demons.  Most of their projects take many weeks to complete and although between them they have several projects on the go at once, they generally seem to complete the projects.  I find I get frustrated when podcasters brim over with ideas and are constantly showing/talking about all the new things they have cast on, but they don’t seem to finish things.  So it’s a big thumbs-up from me for the DramaticKnits podcast.

And that brings me up to date, on the knitting front anyway.

I hope you find the time each day to knit a bit, or work on your hobby whatever it is.

A skein of two halves

So, I start with the end; in this case a finished object.

Bright Charcoal socks ready to wear

Quite a small one, but one pair of socks completed and ready to wear.  The Colinette Jitterbug has, as usual, knitted up nicely into thick, springy socks.  I love the colourway which I think is like chalk markings on a blackboard.  Or, thus it is for one and a half socks, because my skein of yarn had a join just under half the way in and the two ends did not entirely match.

When I wound the skein into a ball, of course, I found the knot and decided at that point to make two separate balls.  I knit the first sock out of the slightly larger ball which was the second half of the skein, and the colours were nice and even throughout.  When I came to knit the second sock I started on the slightly smaller ball, which was the first half of the skein, and it was immediately apparent that there was a lot less colour in this part.

There are less colours on this part

At that point, I unpicked and rewound the ball to try working from the other end, but with the same result.  The fabric was more substantially grey than on the first sock.

However, I still had enough of the first ball left to knit down the leg of the sock, and joined in the second ball to work the heel and foot, reasoning that since that will be mainly within my shoe it won’t matter too much.  The difference can be seen comparing the soles of the socks.  It certainly seems like some colours are missing, leaving long stretches of greys broken with the pale creamy white.

Our soles – shows the difference between the two parts of the skein

I think I was unlucky to get a skein with a bit of a flaw to it, but these things happen and I am happy with the finished socks.  Most importantly, the quality of the wool is the same throughout, just the dyeing was a bit off.

Plans

I decided to make some firm plans for my knitting over the next few months.  I do this every so often when I need or want to be more productive and I certainly find it helps to set myself targets.

For the current month, I have set myself the target of knitting one pair of socks (done) and completing the grey Rimini cardigan.  I feel at the current point that this is achievable, but certainly not easy.  I have three weeks and almost a complete side of the front, two sleeves, button bands and collar to knit, plus the time for piecing it together.  Knowing how bogged down I can get with sleeves, I wonder if I have given myself too much to do, especially as I’m back at work from tomorrow so my productivity is likely to take a nosedive.

However, I am aware that I will let things drift if I don’t give myself some target to aim at – I experienced this with the Laccaria cardigan which lingered on the needles for what seemed like forever.

In the longer term, I am going to try and knit one pair of socks a month for the next few months.  I can churn out the simple, plain socks that I like fairly speedily.  I am aware that since I wear my hand knitted socks every day, there are likely to be several that bite the dust at the same time, and therefore I need to be prepared well in advance with some new ones to include in the rotation.  I’m keen on this plan because I intend to use up some of the wool I’ve got stashed for garments over the next few months and this will be much easier if I can treat myself to a skein of sock yarn each month to keep things feeling fresh.

Speaking of feeling fresh, if I intend to feel that way in the morning I’d better get myself off to bed.

Hope your knitting, or chosen field of endeavour, has gone well this Bank Holiday weekend.

 

Very special American sheep

Okay, when I said on Tuesday that I would write about a very special American sheep “tomorrow” I didn’t really mean tomorrow in the calendar sense of the word.  However, without further ado let me introduce:

Hi there!

Yes, on Tuesday I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of a skein of yarn by Brooklyn Tweed.  Loop of London have recently become the sole UK stockists and I took advantage of my week at home to place an order.  I’ve been reading the Brooklyn Tweed blog for several years now and although Jared Flood’s garment designs don’t entirely do it for me, I have always loved his aesthetic sense and will admit to having a slight knitterly crush on him.

His first foray into yarn production was the worsted weight Shelter, 100% American wool dyed in a splendid palette of neutral shades.  Nothing bright or garish, yet covering the spectrum all the same.  Then, last winter, he released his fingering weight yarn Loft which uses the same 100% American wool blend.  What has had me interested all along about these yarns is that they are woollen spun rather than worsted spun and this is the method used for my favourite Shetland style wools.  For this reason, I am hopeful that the Brooklyn Tweed wool will be similar to the coned yarns I’ve been using recently. My choice ended up being:

Brooklyn Tweed “Loft” in Cast Iron – it isn’t black….

You will have to excuse the photography.  This isn’t an easy colour to photograph (a bit like black, although obviously this wool isn’t black), and my camera is temperamental at best nowadays.

The wool feels nice and soft, for a 100% wool yarn, and visually at least it is thicker than the 4-ply coned wools I currently use.  I have been wanting to find a yarn that I enjoy using which knits to about 25 stitches to 4 inches, halfway between a 4-ply and a DK, because I have quite a lot of patterns that use that in-betweeny thickness of yarn. With any luck this might fit the bill.

I think I might have made a mistake ordering this colour, though.  Viewing the colours on my various computational devices, it seemed like a deep grey with a slight blue cast to it.  In real life the name Cast Iron suits it very well.  It is practically black.  Not that it’s any great shakes as I ordered a single skein for trial purposes only.  It should be enough for an experimental cowl to act as a very large gauge swatch, but it’s not as if it’s going to be a garment. Having said that, though, it’s by Brooklyn Tweed and that’s enough to make any colour just right in my book.

Here’s the information about the wool from the back of the ball band:

Some more information from the ball band

I rather like that the sheep were raised in Wyoming as the state featured in many of my favourite TV westerns when I was a child (I am still a bit of a sucker for a western, if the truth be told).  The above photo also gives the best colour rendition of the Cast Iron colourway.

That’s it for today.  I will be back with some photos of the Colinette Bright Charcoal socks, to prove that I was lying through my teeth when I said the colours don’t pool.  Also look out for a general catch-up on my knitting achievements through the week.  Finally, I am planning a bike-orientated post for those interested in such things.

Have fun and knit with me.

You only had to ask….

Yes, apparently so.  “Rain, rain, go away,” I said.  And the next day, this:

Is it Spring?

Blossom!  Blue skies!  Just like in the ‘real’ blogs – you know, the ones written by people who don’t spend the first ten minutes at work every day trying to blow-dry their legs using the hand dryer in the Ladies’.

I am going to stay quiet about what colour the sky is today.  Suffice it to say I had planned a day of knitting and watching my Blakes 7 DVD collection and that is pretty much what today is good for.  I dropped off my new bike for its first little service this morning (just a general once-over after 5-6 weeks of riding) and will pick it up late this afternoon.  Apart from that, the day is my own.  And I am waiting in anyway for a little packet that may contain something interesting that once belonged to a very special American sheep….

Knitting

But more of that tomorrow.  Today I’m going to write about this:

Purple Rimini

Or do I mean this:

Rimini cardigan in grey

Yes, I am knitting another Rimini cardigan from the excellent pattern by Martin Storey in Jaeger Booklet JB16.  The yarn, once again, is J C Rennie Supersoft Lambswool in Silver Grey.

This is an entirely practical garment and the pattern choice was a bit of a no-brainer because my first Rimini cardigan is the garment I most covet on days when I want a light, but warm and cosy cardigan.  Everything about it is just perfect and it has become a bit of a benchmark against which the shortcomings of other patterns are measured.  If a neckline is too wide, or too low, then that is brought into sharp focus as soon as I put on Rimini which sits exactly right at the neck and keeps out draughts without being stifling.  If sleeves are too short, or too tight, turn to Rimini and they are just precisely how sleeves need to be.  Rimini is a gorgeous pattern.

I am making a couple of slight changes on this version.  The pattern is written with some waist shaping and button fastenings all the way down the front.  Instead, I am planning this to have buttons down to bust level then let the cardigan flare open and so I have left out the waist shaping.

I have just made a start on the left front of the cardigan, having completed the back a week or so ago.  As I’m on holiday at the moment, I’m hoping to get a bit of a move-on with this through the rest of the week.  I think that one of the really great things about knitting as a hobby is that however bad the weather, no holiday is a let-down.  So, it rains for a week – think how much knitting you can get done!

Speaking of which, it is high time I was heading over to the settee….

Oh, and by the way, if you happen to be a spider and you feel like coming to live in my bedroom, don’t.  I have cleared three spiders out of there this morning and, quite frankly, three is enough.  Thanks.

 

Rain, rain, go away

I think in Norfolk it has rained for the entire month of April.  I may be wrong, but not by much.  When it hasn’t been raining, it has been windy.  The sun has put in an occasional appearance, but on the whole it has rained.  Anyone with any sense at all has either stayed at home or, if they have strayed, has made sure they have an appropriate coat.

Appropriate coats

These two, for example, are wearing the finest that Noro has to offer.  (You can tell it’s Noro by the vegetable matter.)

Knitting

You can be forgiven for thinking that, given the inclement weather, I will have been sitting indoors knitting up a storm, but nothing could be further from the truth.  I’ve had an aching arm and an aching knee which have conspired to make long bouts of sitting and knitting unfeasible.  That, coupled with the fact that I’ve been rather out of ideas of things to knit, has left me with little real progress since finishing Laccaria and that seems like ages ago.  However, some inspiration did arrive last Friday in the form of two skeins of Colinette Jitterbug sock yarn, one in Bright Charcoal and one in Lilac.  The Bright Charcoal socks are already underway.

Colinette Jitterbug in Bright Charcoal

Jitterbug is pretty much my favourite sock yarn because I find it endlessly fascinating watching the colours come and go.  When a yarn has this much going on in it, the problem of pooling doesn’t seem to have any relevance.

Cycling

My lovely new bicycle has had to learn that in real life you get wet, very wet.  When you’re a bicycle there’s an awful lot of sitting around in the rain.  It has also had to learn that it belongs to a girly and therefore it is going to have to go through the long process of finding the correct bag for her needs!  I have tried it with a Carradice saddlebag and wasn’t happy.  Being quite short, and the bike having quite large wheels (700c) there isn’t a lot of room for a bag to hang from the saddle and still sit happily above the mudguards.  Also, I found it fiddly to get stuff in and out of it effectively.  Lovely bag, though.

The Carradice Junior saddlebag

After this experiment, I bought a “Back Bag” which would sling across my back.  That was okay, but I wasn’t totally happy with it.  It worked well with one jacket that I wear to cycle, but was dreadful with my waterproof jacket.  And I’ve needed the waterproof jacket a lot!   I generally don’t get on with carrying things on my back, and although this is better than most things I’ve tried it still isn’t a favourite.  I currently have a rack on the bike and that is my preferred option as it means I can use the lovely Basil bags which I have collected, but this isn’t the sort of bike that a rack is entirely perfect with.  Because it requires you to sling your leg over the rear of the bike to mount and dismount, you are limited as to what you can comfortably do with a rack.  The search continues.

Well, the sun has put in a brief appearance and it is time for me to cook my tea.  More soon, I hope, but in the meantime enjoy your knitting and I hope the sun shines on you.

 

Re:cycle

Hello.  I haven’t been blogging, have I?  Nope, I have been thinking, planning, purchasing, riding, and generally obsessing in every which way about my new ultra-steed.  Let me present the brand, spanking new, sparkling and delicious, Trek 7.3FX (women’s specific design).

Where all my time and money is disappearing to

This is a very sporty departure from my normal mode of transport, a sedate “lady’s” bicycle with rack, panniers, and all the general paraphernalia which makes life easy and pleasant.  Life on the 7.3FX is an altogether faster, headier experience.  I am besotted with it, but just a little sad that my old bike needs quite a few weeks at the health farm, being pampered with exotic unguents, before it can be ridden even a mile further.  Well, I tell the bike it’s going to the health farm.  In reality, I imagine the experience will be more like those Dr. Who episodes where you see the flashing blades descending as the Cybermen “upgrade” you!!

Problems with the old bike, the realisation that the old bike wasn’t going to be a viable option for the foreseeable future, and the search for a new bike, have all kept me away from my knitting a bit over recent weeks.  However, Laccaria is finished!

Laccaria is finished - one day there will be photos of me wearing it!

In some ways I am happy, in other ways not so much.  The fit isn’t the best in this universe.  In particular, I find the sleeves rather tight.  The choice of sizes, given the yarn I used, was always going to be between slightly snug and a bit too loose, so I went for the slightly snug option and now I wonder if I should have gone for a bit too loose.  I haven’t worn it yet and once I start wearing it I think it will either become a firm favourite or a live in the drawer object.

Please don’t think this is a negative ‘review’ because even looking at the photo I still love the design to bits.  Love the colour.  Really happy with the buttons (another big shout out for the wonderful Textile Garden – certainly came up trumps for me on this).  It’s all very positive.  Just need to wear it.

This is just a brief update.  Hopefully now the bike buying and associated squealing with delight and cycling round to show it off is all over, I will get back to some sedate knitting projects and get some photos done as I’m working on things.  That would definitely be extremely good.  And since I’ve spent my spring holiday budget on the bicycle, when I take my spring break from work I will almost certainly be doing little other than sitting on the settee knitting, occasionally wandering across to the computer to blog about my achievements!

Week 9 – Will it never be finished?

The sun struggles on a murky morning

My week has been a bit like this, good things struggling to shine through the general murk, and a feeling the week would never be finished.

Knitting

It is beginning to feel like Laccaria will never be finished.  I thought all I needed to do was source some buttons.  A browse online at Textile Garden sorted that out and their very prompt service delivered three sets of buttons to me on Wednesday:

A selection of buttons for Laccaria

Studied in daylight, and in place on the front band of the cardigan, the ones with the white flowers won hands down.  The other two sets will be an excellent addition to my button box.  So everything should have been in place for me to set to and finish the cardigan yesterday.  But, no, I don’t have a suitable thread to sew the buttons on.  No problem – this morning I went into Norwich to buy thread and some groceries and a replacement for the cereal bowl I broke this week.  Came home with groceries and the cereal bowl but no thread because I forgot all about it whilst I was in the city.  So, next week Laccaria will be finished.  Really.

I do have a new love, though.

Making a start on the big red jumper

I’m using the red wool which has steadfastly refused to inspire me in any project I’ve tried and now I’m making a big Sloppy Joe type jumper to throw on with jeans. It’s a pattern from “1000 Sweaters” which is a good book of basic DK weight patterns which suffers from a tendency to show some pretty dodgy styling.  And, I must add, not the only knitting book that suffers from that particular problem.

Anyway, I have found myself cracking on with this quite a bit since I cast on last weekend.  It is very enjoyable to knit.

Radio, radio

Whilst knitting, I have found myself becoming very keen on Radio 4 crime dramas.  So far I’ve listened to a Falco (excellent detective stories set in ancient Rome), a Adam Dalgleish (so-so), the iconic Murder on the Orient Express, and this week a Lord Peter Wimsey. Half an hour a day of escapism.  Lovely.

Time for a cup of coffee.  Have a lovely week.