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.

 

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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 3 – The Good, The Bad, and The Knitting

Well, it was another crazy-busy week at work and I’ve been too tired to do much knitting so there is a lamentable lack of progress to report.  But I have occupied myself in other ways which I hope you’ll find interesting.

The Good

We had a couple of frosty mornings in Norfolk at the start of the week and my bicycle decided to get all uppity about it.  On Monday my helpful work colleagues helped me sort out a ‘frozen brake’ with the helpful advice that what I really needed was a new rear wheel, but we got the brake and therefore the bicycle working okay again.  On Tuesday the brake ‘froze’ again and I took the bicycle to a local cycle repair shop in my lunch break and the bicycle did indeed need a new rear wheel.  How is this in “the good” section, I hear you cry?  Well, because the service I received from the cycle repair shop was exemplary.  The shop is Mandarin Cycles on Aylsham Road in Norwich; I had never visited them before but they are the nearest bike shop to my office so it was a sensible decision.  I took the bike in at lunchtime, they identified the problems, phoned through to their delivery driver/other shop and sourced a wheel to be brought back, and let me know that if they couldn’t complete the work that afternoon it would be done the following day.  At 4.30 that afternoon I got a call to say it was all sorted, they had replaced the rear wheel and the rear brake at a very reasonable price indeed.  I think good service should be praised and they gave an excellent service.  If you’re in the area (and you might be – they are a stone’s throw from Norfolk Yarn), check them out.

The Bad

Whilst I like WordPress on the whole as a blog host, they did annoy me earlier this week.  I thought I would check out some blogs on my iPad and was shocked to find the WordPress home page showing black thumbnails of blogs and “Censored” stamped across them.  The most obvious thing was to assume that they had been hacked, which caused me rather a bit of worry about the state of my blog.  But no, it transpired that WordPress had decided to make some political statement about anti-theft legislation which Barrack Obama is backing, although why the people running WordPress should believe theft is good is somewhat lost on me.  But the real point is that their actions amounted to nothing more than scaremongering.  Shame on them.

The Knitting

As I alluded to earlier, the knitting has amounted to very little.  So little, in fact, that I’m resorting to arty shots to try and make it look like more than it is.

An arty shot to disguise a lack of progress

Which is not to say that there has been no progress.  Indeed, I have made a start on the first front of the cardigan, it just hasn’t gone particularly quickly.  After my busy and tiring week at work, I had a busy and tiring Saturday so no chance to get on with the knitting last night.  Which has left this afternoon and evening, during which I must admit I made some progress.

Deadwood - a good way to make a little progress on Laccaria

I got the DVD of the second season on Deadwood for Christmas and have been saving it for a point where I could immerse myself in it.  I love a good Western, and this is a very good Western indeed.  It even got me to the beginning of the bobble pattern on this side of the front which seems to be going fine.

Reading

Apart from tiredness and babysitting, one of the things that has occupied me this week has been the fact that I’ve been off in sci-fi land.  I had a sudden yen to read some sci-fi as I’ve totally fallen out of the habit.  I had an e-book of Horizons by Peter W Prellwitz tucked away and it turned out to be a really good read.  And by that, I mean that I chose to read it rather than watch TV, knit, and in some extreme cases, sleep!  I’m going to search out some further books in the series if I can, and at the very least it’s reawakened my love of the genre which is a very good thing indeed.

So, having mentioned that I like Westerns and sci-fi, I should perhaps let on about my secret career ambitions.  For, if it so transpires that I cannot be a Yeoman aboard the Starship Enterprise, my second career choice is to be a bar room floozie.  Please don’t burst my bubble by suggesting that at almost 52 I am getting a little long in the tooth for either of these careers!

Now, I just have a little bit of computer geekery to undertake, then I might manage another few rows of the cardigan before bed.

 

Week 1 – Back to Reality

It’s been a real back-to-work week and I have been rather lacking enthusiasm, not just for work but anything much really.  It was a windy week in the UK; fortunately in Norfolk I think we had things slightly quieter than a lot of the country, but it was enough to scare me away from cycling to work on Tuesday.  Walking to and from work, in turn, was enough to get me back on my bicycle by Wednesday!

On the needles

For the beginning of the year I have taken the opportunity to start two new projects.  I have mentioned that my knitting had slumped a little with nothing quite working how I wanted it to, so I have taken my favourite yarn and hope to make it work for both projects.

First, Laccaria, the Norah Gaughan cardigan from her Berroco Pattern Collection Volume 6, which I am knitting in J C Rennie Supersoft Lambswool in the Couture colourway.

Making a start on Laccaria by Norah Gaughan

I struggled a bit with the gauge on this and have ended up going for the yarn held double, knitted on 4mm bamboo needles and knitting a size 34″.  Usually I would knit a size 38″ but when I started that it was coming out unfeasibly large.  I keep measuring this one against a jumper I know fits well, but am still convinced it will be a bit too tight.  Well, time will tell.  One strange thing about this pattern is that you decrease to shape the waist, but knit quite a long while before starting the increases to the bust.  Again, I cannot predict whether or not this will fit me well (I am short-waisted – I can see how it would suit someone long-waisted), but I’m happy to give it a go.

My second project is a pair of basic socks, again in the J C Rennie Supersoft Lambswool, this time in the colourway Lush.

Green sock with purl stripes

I have chosen to add three “purl bump” rows at the end of the cuff before heading into plain stocking stitch for the rest of the sock.  These socks will be an experiment in durability as I don’t know how this yarn will hold up to wear.  I have been very pleased with it for garments, but socks are a whole different kettle of fish.  If it does work out well, I have plenty of yarn to slowly build up my everyday sock collection.  I am using my usual 2.5mm needles, but am working on 56 stitches, rather than my customary 60, as this yarn, whilst feeling thinner than most sock yarns, seems to knit up a bit bigger.

Reading

Over the Christmas break I galloped through a Josephine Tey detective novel which I received for Christmas.  Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed this.  Josephine Tey wrote her novels mainly in the late 1940s and they have the smaller world charm of that era which contrasts with modern detective novels.  The idea of a “body count” doesn’t enter into it.  In fact, in “The Franchise Affair” no-one dies – it is all about a teenage girl’s allegation that two women in a small town had kidnapped her and held her against her will for a month.  One thing I particularly like about Ms Tey’s writing is that she keeps the focus on the main story.  Yes, there are little things happening around the periphery such as you might expect to occur in the lives of the characters, and some people are telling the truth and others are not, but I don’t get the feeling that things are being thrown in as ‘red herrings’.  In a good crime/mystery story you need enough complexity to make the story interesting, but no so much that it becomes clouded and unreal.

I have many more books sitting unread on my shelves, and am not entirely sure what to pick up next.

Writing

I enjoy keeping a journal/diary, but have fallen out of the habit.  I have been experimenting with various pads and books and also with electronic options for the iPad, but to no great avail.  I have kept both handwritten and word processed journals in the past, and have written reams in them, and I am a big fan of the therapeutic value of having somewhere to tuck away your angst; writing it all out of your system.  Not to mention how very much I enjoy going back and reading old journals.  Anyway, I think it is high time I got back into the habit of writing a diary and with that in mind I’ve bought some Moleskine Cahiers (or exercise books to you and me).  I was taken, most of all, with the size of these particular offerings – at 7 1/2″ x 9 3/4″ they give me more freedom than even a standard A5 book whilst being less cumbersome than an A4 size.  Needless to say, these are stay-at-home books.  It remains to be seen whether I am happy with the paper quality.

I have a vague plan to set up a paper-based system to record my knitting exploits too, but this is still in the daydreaming stage.

Ultimately, I hope to improve my handwriting which is suffering from lack of use.  Oh, and to use and enjoy my precious pens including this beauty:

Cross Apogee Fountain Pen

Now it is Sunday evening and I intend to get in some solid knitting whilst watching the next BBC offering of Sherlock, and perhaps downloading an audio book.

 

Bikes and bags and secret knits

Fully laden Trek

So, when I want to do my grocery shopping, this is my modus operandi.  My Trek bicycle is my everyday transport, in that I ride it to work, for leisure, and for shopping.  And, yes, I use it in the wind, and the rain, when it’s light, or it’s dark, but I wimp out when it’s snowy or icy.

This is the Trek loaded up with a grocery shop.  Depending on what I’ve bought, it can be a bit of a haul getting home – groceries can be very heavy.  Sometimes it’s just bulky stuff like cereal and tissues so the weight isn’t quite so bad.  After a lot of experimentation the combination of bags shown works for grocery shopping.  There are two Basil designs which hook onto the rear rack of the bicycle.  The black and white one also doubles as a day-bag (well, when it’s not beyond use as it is now – waiting for the replacement as we speak!!) but the grey one on the side next to the wall tends only to be used for shopping.  The rack pack which sits on top of the rack is for overflow items, as I found that I always buy one more item than will fit into the two shoppers!

I’ve been really happy with the design of the bags from Basil, which is a Dutch firm.  They do a good variety, plain and fancy.  I also have a couple of their designs for little girls which are the ideal size for a ‘handbag’.

But I haven’t only been doing my grocery shopping.  No siree.

Unfortunately, what I have been doing is somewhat secret.  Hush.  Not a word.  There’s one secret knitting project which has a definite deadline which it might meet.

Hush, can't say

This is being knit in Wendy Supreme Cotton DK.  Despite hating working with cotton, this is actually very nice indeed and I’m really happy with how it’s knitting up.  Mind you, I’m getting nowhere near the “correct” gauge, either for the project I’m working or for the suggested gauge for the yarn.  Strangely enough, although I usually knit very loose, I’m rather tight on this one, although admittedly I’m using a size smaller needles than suggested.  But then I like the fabric it’s making so maybe I’d find the next size needle making a slightly sloppy fabric for my taste.

Then there’s another secret knit which I started this weekend.  This might have a deadline, or it might not.  It might be going to one person, or it might be going to a different person.  What the deadline is, and who the recipient may be, and, indeed, what the project turns out as, are all in the lap of the gods at the moment.  Given that I must complete the first secret project, I might not have time to finish the second one to meet the earlier deadline, in which case it will become a Christmas gift.  In fact, the yarn was bought with the Christmas gift in mind, so has been slightly hijacked for the summer gift idea.

No, really, can't talk about it

This time the yarn is raw silk.  I am calling the project Recalcitrant.  This is not because I’m having any problems with the knitting, but the yarn was a real problem to wind from skein to ball.  It has a slightly ‘sticky’ feel and kept clinging to itself and twisting into knots as I wound it.  Plus, I kept dropping the ball.  Note to self: must invest in ball winder one of these old years. The colours are just gorgeous, for either of the people I have in mind.  It reminds me of different coloured lichen growing on a rock.  Of course, if I was knitting this for myself I would be doing plain old stocking stitch.  Even as I’m knitting the very simple lace pattern, I keep thinking “Wow, this would look good in stocking stitch”.  It’s lucky that I occasionally knit for other people, otherwise this blog would just be a sea of stocking stitch.

So that’s what I’ve been up to this weekend.  How about you?