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…)

Week 8 – There has been progress

Last weekend ambled by with me largely sitting on the settee nursing a cold.  This week the cold has continued and I haven’t knitted much and I expected to have little to report come this weekend.  Yet progress has been made which makes me wonder if the elves have been dropping in and knitting up Laccaria for me in the night.

Knitting

Yes, Laccaria is coming along nicely.  All pieces are knitted.  I enjoyed adding the twirly “flags” to the right front more than any other part of the construction, and oooh, about three million times better than the bobbles on the left front!  So, where are we now?

Laccaria Front Band

Shoulders are joined and the neckband and left front band are done.  This afternoon should see the right front band done, complete with buttonholes.  Then, at last, I will know what size buttons I need to buy and can order them.  I know this will put back the whole completion of the project, but you know me – I do like the buttons to be just right.  It’s hard to show the twirly bits to their best at present, so the right-hand side looks rather messy in this photo.

Next up

I have been pretty much monogamous with Laccaria the past couple of weeks as I want it finished.  However, I am preparing myself to move on and this week received a nice bundle of wool from KnitRennie.  First up, a full cone (900g) of silver grey:

Silver Wool

I am mulling this one over.  I currently have one grey cardigan which is soft and slouchy, with drop shoulders.  I want this one to be different in shape.  I am torn between something along the lines of the “Perry” cardigan by Michelle Wang which is in Brooklyn Tweed’s “Wool People Book 1”.  This is a long-line cardigan with a lace pattern at the hem and I am pretty sure the wool knitted double (as it is being for Laccaria) will suit this project.  I just have some slight misgivings over the shape, as it has a low v-neck and buttons below the waist and on some finished versions on Ravelry the buttoning seems to happen at the hip.  My hips aren’t my slimmest point.  Then again, I think it is a pattern which benefits from being sized rather looser than being form-fitting.

Another front runner for this wool is the “Leaving” cardigan by Anne Hanson from The Twist Collective Issue Winter 2010.  This is a more standard cardigan style with some nice details which looks like it would be enjoyable to knit.  This one would be a summer cardi as it has quite a scooped neckline.

I have by no means narrowed it down to just these two, though.

Looking further forward

Colour Wheel of Wool

This was my other purchase from KnitRennie.  10 “baby cones” in a variety of colours.  They range in weight from under 100g up to 200g, not enough of any to make a whole garment, but certainly enough to be the contrast in some colourwork.  I’m brooding on these for later in the year.  I’m thinking stripes, Fairisle, even a bit of intarsia such as Martin Storey’s “Elm” jumper from the 50th edition of the Rowan Magazine.

Well, it’s all about the wool this weekend.  Whilst knitting I have been catching up with previous series of The Mentalist and devouring Radio 4 Extra treats via iPlayer on my iPad.

Hope you are all well and getting along with whatever projects (knitting or otherwise) you are currently working on.

I’m off to grab some lunch.

Out with the old

The tail end of the old year was a bit unproductive for me.  I knit, and I knit, and I knit, and I didn’t really produce a whole heap of anything.  Oh, there was a cowl which went as a Secret Santa gift at work.  There were several mis-starts on the Laccaria cardigan by Norah Gaughan which were undermined by indecision about size and colour.  The last major project that really worked was the scarf-front cardigan which was completed way back in the autumn and has been worn a lot, but never photographed.  So, to rectify that, here is a very wonky shot:

Scarf Front Cardigan from Norah Gaughan pattern

This cardigan is snuggly-warm thanks to that scarf front and the single button fastening makes it practical to throw on.  Also, for once, the sleeves are exactly the right length.  Of course, the boxy design does make me look even plumper than usual, but hey-ho!!

Another couple of projects managed to creep in before midnight tolled the end of 2011.  First, a pair of plain old socks, elevated by the stunning Malabrigo sock yarn into works of art, worthy of a colourway called “Turner”:

Socks in Malabrigo Turner colourway

In case you’re not getting the full impact of this yarn, here it is up close and personal:

Glorious Turner colourway of Malabrigo Sock yarn

I loved working with this.  So much so that I decided to knit a new liner for my iPhone case using the same yarn doubled:

An old iPhone case with a new liner

I recently replaced my old iPhone 3G with a new iPhone 4S which, being slimmer, didn’t fit well in the my existing case.  But the case was a present and I love it and I didn’t want to stop using it, so a liner was called for.  My first attempt was a little too thick, so my final act of 2011 was to replace it with this pretty little frippery.  I think the colours work well with the nut-brown leather of the case.

Now fits my slimline iPhone 4S

And now it’s 2012 and I’m ready to take the lessons learnt in 2011 and put them to good use.  First, experimenting with different yarns in the final couple of months of the year really brought home to me how much I had enjoyed working with the J C Rennie wool over the previous year or so.  I foresee a year of experimenting more with what in some ways may seem a very limited choice.  Whilst later in the year I will be buying new (and buying more sock yarn to allow me a bit of variety), to begin with I am going to use what I have to hand.

As far as patterns go, well I will get Laccaria done by hook or by crook!  I will probably return to a Martin Storey 4-ply cardigan or two to supplement my work wardrobe.  And who knows, maybe this year I will get around to knitting for my grandson.

My real ‘resolution’ as far as this blog goes is to post a little more frequently.  At the moment I feel like one post a week would be more pleasant than the rather irregular offerings of the past year and allows for daylight photography, so I shall aim for that.

I hope everybody who reads this has a splendid year and there aren’t too many hangovers around this morning.

On the continuity of things

Dining chair hidden away

This is one of my projects that really needed to be done before the end of the year, if only because I have been intending to do it for most of 2011 and even if I haven’t publicised that intention I still feel guilty for not getting on with it.

I have two dining chairs in my flat and in their current format they really need some work. In an effort to avoid the issue completely, a couple of years ago I bought these cream covers and basically hid the chairs under them. Not a great move as I never really liked them, and they didn’t fit the chairs at all well. A year ago I bought some fabric and knew that it would be very serviceable on the chair seats. I have been on the brink of buying foam to pad the seats on many occasions. So now it’s almost 2012 and something just had to be done.

Voila.

Dining chair with freshly covered seat

I have never been one for getting new furniture when a few more years can be coaxed out of an existing item. Most of my furniture is either from my parents’ house, or passed on by my sister (who does like to buy new furniture). The “eco-friendliness” of this appeals to me, although I have to admit I am never going to win any interior design awards. But I like the continuity of things – there being stories and history to the furniture, not just the shop where I bought it. These chairs lived with my grandparents and have been used by various members of the family and now they live with me. The people pass and leave behind them stories that are knit into the fabric of the things they used day in, day out. I like to live with those stories, adding to them as I potter through my own span of days. My grandson now sits on the same chairs where once my grandparents sat, and as the years scurry by the stories weave into things like these chairs, linking us with a very tangible form of DNA.

Funny how things go

My knitting has been of the one step forward, two steps back variety over the past couple of months. This is mildly frustrating, but I’m choosing to let go of that and concentrate on it all as a learning opportunity. Yes, well, let’s just ignore the fact that I already know what it’s teaching me.

I have yet to make a firm decision on the wool to knit the Norah Gaughan Laccaria cardigan. I’ve made a few false starts, and in the meantime I’ve worked on some small projects to keep my hand in. I really want Laccaria to work with the clothes I wear when I’m not working, which rules out the green and red wools I have tried so far. This afternoon I decided to try my wool shade-card against my two nice dresses which led to a revelation. I already knew I had a great purple cardi to wear with my pink dress:

Masai Clothing dress with Rimini cardigan

Less expected was that my Mist on the Moor cardigan would be so perfect a match for the navy dress:

Masai Clothing dress with Mist on the Moor cardigan

So that blows the whole colour choice wide open again. Funny how things go, isn’t it?

Sorry….

I’ve been away from my blog for a while.  There are no sinister reasons, no crises, no maladies.  I have been knitting away on my cabled scarf-front cardigan.  For the most part this is simply pale blue stocking stitch, but the past couple of weeks I have made a start on the scarf that gets attached to the front of the cardigan to provide the collar, and that’s proving to be very hard on my hands and, consequently, rather slow going.  This pattern calls for an American worstead-weight yarn and I am knitting it with two strands of 4-ply held together.  I think, though, that I’m knitting at a rather tighter tension than I normally would and the large cable which forms the edge of the scarf is very tough to execute.  At the moment I’m trying to get one pattern repeat (14 rows, 1 large cable twist) completed each day then move on to something else.  When I concentrated more on it, I ended up with aching hands for a couple of days and I want to avoid that.

I did finish the raw silk cowl/neckwarmer and gave it to my oldest sister as a belated birthday present (we didn’t see her until a week or two after her birthday).  I was pleased with how it turned out and before giving it to her we had a long conversation about the usefulness of scarves etc, so I don’t think it will sit in a drawer.  One thing she did ask was why I didn’t knit it in the round.  Part of the answer to that is laziness, and part my slight aversion to knitting in the round.  Mainly, though, it was that I wanted the lace pattern to form horizontal bands rather than vertical columns and that was easier to achieve knitting flat.  Bearing this in mind, though, and since I have enough of the raw silk yarn to make another cowl, I cast on for one in the round.  After working about an inch I ripped it out as I really didn’t like how the cast-on edge looked, particularly the join that makes it a circle.  I also chose totally the wrong stitch, just because it was something that could be executed in the round without too much fiddling about.  In fact, it dawned on me that knitting it in the round was going to result in something that wouldn’t show the yarn off terribly well, nor make best use of my knitting skills, and require further finishing of both top and bottom edges in order to be presentable, all just in order to do away with one seam which I can do very neatly anyway.

To give me a break from the tight cabling on my scarf front cardigan, I have made a start on a casual 4-ply sweater from an old Marion Foale pattern.  I’m not entirely convinced by this because the pattern has the semi-dropped sleeve construction that Marion used in the 1980s and I’m simply not a big fan of that style.  However, because this is supposed to be a looser, more snuggly top, I think the semi-dropped shoulder suits it.

As a final note, I wandered out to my local cemetery yesterday with my camera.  There are some wonderful names to be seen, and I’ll leave you with Valorous.  Have a good day.

Valorous

Palms Sunday

Luxe for feet

Well, I think I promised to write about my Palms socks and here they are.

And here they are again:

Happy feet

You like?  I do.

So, the technical details.  These are my ‘plain vanilla’ socks from a pattern I got free with, I think, the first or second ball of sock yarn I ever bought.  I think it might have been the second ball because I know it was one I got off the stall on the market, and my first ball I’m pretty sure came from the local bricks and mortar yarn shop, Norfolk Yarn.  Anyway, this pattern is simple and it fits me well (which is to say, it fits me well if I don’t do the toe shaping too early!!).  I like stocking stitch socks.  I like to knit cuff-down.  I like a heel flap and gusset construction.  I like to knit on four double-point aluminium needles.  I’m a plain vanilla girl when it comes to socks!!

The yarn for these is a 4-ply sock called “Divinely Darling” by Boo’s Attic, which I bought in Ely.  It’s 75% superwash merino, 25% silk.  The colourway “Electric Eel Teal” is truly divine and is best illustrated in the ‘happy feet’ photo.  It was a joy to knit with, washed nicely after knitting, and feels very good indeed on the feet.  I am sure that it is, in fact, far too high-class a yarn to be worn on the feet and am convinced it will disintegrate as soon as I start wearing the socks.  I doubt that will stop me wearing them on a regular basis, though, and I really hope my fears are unfounded.

Have I mentioned that I like these socks?  Because I do.  I like them very much indeed.  The only thing that could make these socks better would be if they were knee-length, but I doubt I’m ever going to attempt knee-length socks.  Whilst my feet are pleasantly small, my calves are huge and I don’t have the patience to attempt a covering for them!

Meanwhile, here in the Pamalison household, there is lunch to be eaten, cycling to be viewed, and knitting to be done.  Not to mention more blog posts fermenting away in my head.

Frumpy

Is there a comment that the non-knitters in your life make about patterns that will immediately put you off them?  For me it’s “frumpy”.  They don’t even need to use that particular word, but if I show them a pattern that I’m thinking of making, or have just commenced, and they start along the route of describing it as frumpy, pound to a penny I’ll give up.  Yet, there are very good reasons why I shouldn’t.

1.  I’m not exactly the most hip dresser in the universe.  I would describe my mode of dress as ‘practical’.  I like fashion – and by that I mean couture, not Top Shop’s latest offering – but I enjoy it in the ‘if I was….’ sense.  If I was tall/thin/broad-shouldered/rich/living a totally different life…  My enjoyment of fashion is cerebral; my wardrobe is practical.  So if I knit something and it’s a bit frumpy, it wouldn’t exactly be dragging my outfits down to a less stellar level!

2.  Frumpy is in fashion.  Most women in their mid-20s are pulling off frumpy with laudable sang-froid.

3.  Have you ever knit a garment that looked like the photo accompanying the pattern?  That garment may look frumpy because the whole photo shoot has been styled in a sightly old-fashioned way, or the colour of yarn is rather old-lady.  I am going to knit it in a different colour and wear it with my own clothes.  It won’t look the same.

4.  A great photo of a trendy knitted garment, complete with fresh-faced, if rather gloomy, tall, thin, young model posed in rustic splendour on a Scottish heath, or beside a peat fire, gives no guarantee that you will look nice in said garment.  In fact, those garments (which I have to admit I love looking at) would often only work if worn on a Scottish heath or beside a peat fire.  I don’t have ready access to either.

You’ve probably guessed what’s coming.  After working the leg of the striped sock, I realised I was liking it less and less so have abandoned the idea.  Last night I cast on my bright red wool for a lace cardigan in an old Martin Storey design for Jaeger and I have one outfit I know it will work perfectly with so some incentive there.  I know they will work together because I had the swatch sitting on top of the dress for a couple of days and kept noticing it and thinking how excellent a garment in that colour would go with that dress.  I’m not going to show photos of the design, though, because I just know it’s going to fall into the ‘frumpy’ category and I’m 100% convinced my finished version will be in the ‘wow, that’s really nice’ category.  Let’s face it, nothing could look frumpy in a yarn this very red!  When I’ve progressed beyond the moss stitch welt and made a start on the more interesting lace knitting, I’ll take some in-progress photos.  There may be a bit of sunshine at the weekend to make photography easier.  Right now, though, the clouds are looming and rain is probably unavoidable.  Still, not bad weather for knitting.  And when I’ve finished, together with my finished object shots, I’ll try to remember to take a shot of the photo from the pattern book, and you can judge for yourselves if you’d have categorised it as frumpy.