Week 6 Can you hear it…..

…the silence of the Pam?

Oh, sorry, dreadful pun there.  I have been quiet, and now I’m all done with being quiet.  This week work has begun to slow down a bit and I have had a little more energy to do things that are relatively interesting to write about.

Knitting

I have to admit the knitting has been a bit sporadic the past few weeks.  Laccaria lingers on the needles and when I work on it, I work without a lot of enthusiasm.  I don’t know quite why I am finding this cardigan heavy going, and it’s a shame because I am actually very confident that I will love the finished product.  I am simply not enjoying knitting it.

Laccaria's left front sports these bobbles

These bobbles were part of the problem.  I hated working them!  Which rather puts paid to my long-held belief that I would one day construct a traditional Aran jumper.

Laccaria's right front will have a knitted ribbon worked onto these slipped stitches

I’m currently working on the right front with its slipped stitches (you may just be able to discern the two areas – one on the far right of the above picture and the other starting about halfway up the piece of fabric shown, in the dead centre of the photo).  Once the cardigan is constructed (or, alternatively, before I piece it together, depending on which seems most sensible), I will have to work a knitted “ribbon” which will twist its way up the cardigan anchored to these slipped stitches.  Although I will never want to knit this again, it does strike me that one could very easily adapt this, knitting the ribbon in a variegated yarn, for example, or a contrast shade, or even using an organza ribbon and threading it through the slipped stitches (or making eyelets for a ribbon to thread around).  Certainly there are ideas if one wanted to make a dressier version of the cardigan.

Socks and Laccaria

As a tactic for avoiding working on Laccaria, I have knitted these socks.  I bought the yarn in my local Lidl store (a rather cheap and cheerful supermarket which sells basic foodstuffs, some incredible rubbish, and occasionally has flashes of inspiration).  It cost £3.99 for four 50g balls and is a fairly standard sock yarn mix of 48% cotton, 39% wool, 13% polyamide.  This pair of socks took well under two balls and I will knit a second pair, probably in garter stitch which I think may suit the yarn quite well.  It was nice enough yarn to work with and a couple of pairs of everyday socks for under £4.00 is not to be sniffed at.

The best laid plans

Or, why I don’t shop on the internet anywhere near as much as I’d like to.

I wanted to order another Norah Gaughan pattern booklet and a copy of Designer Knitting from Loop of London.  Whilst browsing I also put a couple of cones of the exotic Habu yarns into my basket.  I proceeded to the checkout.  I registered all my details.  I went to buy the items I wanted and hit the familiar brick wall – they will only send the order to the address my credit card is registered to and they want a signature to prove it reached its destination.  But I work all day.  So to get a signature it needs to go to my office or to my sister’s house.  But my credit card is registered to my flat.  What this means is that I cannot buy the items I want.

I know that Loop of London are protecting me from credit card fraud.  I know that they have to guard against the constant danger of the Russian Maffia who are well-known for turning the profits of their drug trade into wool (some knitters say it amounts to the same thing anyway!).  But the fact is that Loop have lost out on the money I would have spent with them and I have resigned myself to knitting only those items for which patterns are more readily available.  Which all-round is a bit of a shame.

Better Plans

The disappointment over the impossibility of buying from Loop’s online yarn shop, together with my slight ennui over Laccaria has led me to formulating a bit of a plan for my knitting.  A couple of years ago I undertook what I came to think of as my “Year of Knitting Furiously” where I made updating my hand-knit wardrobe my main theme for the year.  Although ultimately my output was slightly lower than I’d anticipated at the start, I did knit a good selection of items which remain in regular use now.  And I liked having the focus that came with designating my time in this way.  So at the moment I am contemplating an over-arching theme for the coming year and I would like to make it my “Year of Knitting Storey”.  I have several patterns by Martin Storey that I have earmarked to knit, and I have been very happy with the Martin Storey designs that I’ve completed before.  I’m not even averse to the idea of using a few Rowan yarns where acceptable substitutes can’t be made.  At the moment this all just an idea, but I’ll keep you posted as to whether it comes to fruition.

Reading

The Eclectic Reader

Yes, I’m going to leap directly from “Five Go to Smuggler’s Top” to “1Q84”.  If you haven’t read any Haruki Murakami, go and do so now. And if you haven’t read any “Famous Five”, all I can as is where did you spend the 1960s?

Well, that’s it for now.  There are important things to be done.  Starting with tea and cake, I think.

Take care, and enjoy your knitting (or alternative hobby).

Advertisements

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 2 – Bonjour mes amis

This week I worked very hard at the day job for four days, then on Friday I accompanied my sister to London to The France Show at Earl’s Court.  It was a lovely day out and an interesting show; particularly interesting to me comparing it to the Knitting and Stitching Shows which I am more familiar with.

My sister very kindly provided me with an early birthday present in the form of a lined basket to use for my knitting projects.  I’ve been looking for a while for something pretty to hold my main project and this was ideal.

An early birthday present

Ah, sweet

On the needles

Both of the projects I started last week are progressing.  I’ve worked a little on the green sock and remain undecided about whether it will fit.  My plan is to complete the first one and wash it then check on the fit.  At that point I will know whether it’s worth going on with the second sock.  I still think it makes sense to find a good everyday sock yarn so if this doesn’t turn out well it’s no big deal.

Turned the heel of the first green sock

I’ve also done a bit of work on Laccaria and have completed the back.

Progress is being made on the cardigan

It seems quite long compared to some cardigans I have made in the past couple of years, but I think it should fit well.  I have made one change to the pattern so far – the back of the neck is supposed to be shaped to dip a little, but I really prefer the back of my neck well covered, so I carried on and just did a straight cast-off at the top of the shoulder shaping.  I think this evening I will get a chance to start on one of the front pieces.  These have a little bit of patterning so I shall have to disengage autopilot for a while.

Reading

This week my reading has been pretty much limited to dipping in and out of “The Cyclist’s Friend” by Chris Naylor which is a “miscellany” of cycling-relating anecdotes.  It is ideal reading for the bath.  I keep hovering on the brink of buying Haruki Murakami’s “1Q84” then stepping back again.  I love Murakami’s books, so there is no doubt that I shall buy it at some point.  The thing is, the first two parts were released as one book, and hardback at that.  Now, last year I read a hardback copy of “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” and it was so heavy that it made my hands and wrists ache.  So I will either wait in the hope that the Murakami comes out in paperback sometime soon or I shall order it as an iBook.  The only downside to iBooks is that I don’t like to take my iPad into the bath.

Writing

I would like to say that I have written religiously in my diary all week, but that would be a bit of a fib.  I have done a bit, enough not to feel like I’m totally avoiding it, but nowhere near as much as I intend.  I think it is purely a matter of making it into a routine.  Ah, if only routines made themselves without any effort from me!!

So here we are on the brink of another working week.  As well as working hard, I hope there’s plenty of time to delve into my knitting basket.

Full of the makings of a Laccaria cardigan

 

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.

 

Dubious reasons for buying wool

Got buttons? Need wool!

Okay, this counts as a very dubious purchase.  A little while ago I looked through my button tin and noticed how many perfectly usable sets of brand new buttons I had in there.  Mainly in shades of green.  I am, you see, guilty of buying buttons that don’t quite work in the context of whichever project I bought them for, so into the button tin they go.  Rather than leaving them to languish forever, I have decided to buy wool that they will work with to produce some new cardigans.  My first purchase is a shade called Lush (I trust lush like grass, not like a drunkard) and actually matches these buttons better than the photo suggests.  As the buttons are quite big, this will be a project where the 4-ply wool is held double to give a fabric of heavy DK/Worstead weight.

In order to continue with my button de-stashing, I also ordered the full shade card for this range of wool which will enable me to match button and wool colours much better.   Anyone else struggle with trying to determine shades well enough on-screen?

Perhaps it would be nice to tell a little story about where I store my buttons, which is in a re-purposed Farrah’s Harrogate Toffee tin (400g size).  Whilst I have (almost) always lived in East Anglia, my mum came from Yorkshire and we often headed up to York to stay with my grandparents when I was a little girl.  Farrah’s Harrogate toffee was one of those brands much more prevalent in that area in the 1960s and rarely seen ‘down south’.  Of course now all brands are national or global and you can buy everything anywhere, which in a way slightly devalues it all.  But I digress.  My button tin, whilst being a more recent purchase (only about 10 years old!!) is valued because it reminds me of my childhood.  The tin contains odd buttons, spare buttons, and of course several full sets of buttons, awaiting the time they either get used, or my grandson gets old enough to be allowed to empty them out and play with them.

If you’ve never tried Farrah’s Harrogate Toffee, by the way, you should – it is delicious.

In knitting news, I have finished knitting the second sleeve of the Slope Rib Cardigan but won’t be attaching it to the rest of the cardi and putting it through the wash until the weekend.  I feel I want daylight to do the fiddly bits.  I started my new job this week and between learning new tasks and routines, and trying to work out the optimum cycle route I’m not up to too much complexity in the evenings.  I will probably work on my Palms socks the next couple of evenings.  Unless I just carry on reading my Enid Blyton book and ignore the knits!!  I am currently engrossed in “Five Go Adventuring Again”.  It is my intention to read my way through the series – this is only Book 2 – which I read avidly as a youngster.  I am interspersing my more serious, grown-up reading, with the occasional jaunt into the adventures of Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy the dog.  Wouldn’t it be fun to have five children and give them those names?  Of course, probably resisting the temptation to add ‘the dog’ habitually to the end of Timothy’s name.

It’s a little late to be starting anything new, and a little early to be heading to bed.  Perhaps there is just time to have a quick scan of the blogs I read before I retire.