Not that

New sock
Not that but this!

There is a computer service known as IFTTT which allows users to write simple little commands which their computer will action automatically under certain circumstances. The initials stand for If This Then That. An example would be If an e-mail arrives from Harry then move it to the Harry folder. It makes sense because this type of thinking is hard-wired into the human brain – If the sun is just above the horizon then it is early morning or late evening; If the rain comes then the crops will grow. Routines, which I wrote about at the beginning of the week, are often based on the IFTTT scenario.

So what does this concept have to do with the knitting in my photo? Well, the knitting leads me to propose a different concept – NTBT. Not That But This. My photo is clearly not a progress update on the sleeve of the Basilica cardigan which I had just started in my previous blog post. I didn’t get more than a few rows of that completed before realising that this is not the time to be embarking on a complicated pattern. This is the time for sock knitting (enter sock wool, stage left).

I grabbed a ball of Opal Sport Exclusiv out of my stash and made a start. I am enjoying the gentle greens and greys of this yarn’s colourway, so soothing on the soul (oh, wait, should that be the sole?), green being a calming colour. It isn’t quite as soft as the sock wools I normally use, being a blend of 60% wool/25% polypropylene/15% polyamide, but it’s what I had on hand and I’m keen to use up some old yarns. I have a further three lots of sock yarn which I’ll try to get knitted up over the next couple of months, all from West Yorkshire Spinners – a plain grey which may be too boring to knit, but we’ll see; a grey with cream and brown; and a grey with cream and red.

The big change that is coming up is my return to full-time work after a year without a formal job. Between that and knowing that I want to keep aside plenty of time to pursue my creative writing, I anticipate that my knitting production will slow down significantly for the next few months. My main plan for the autumn is to minimise my yarn stash and tidy up the storage in my knitting cabinet, which currently looks like this:

Knitting cabinet
Not exactly inspiring

I’m not sure if I have talked about this piece of furniture before, but it is a music cabinet which belonged to my maternal grandfather who gave music lessons after he retired. One of our favourite parts of our grandparents’ large Edwardian terraced house in York was his Music Room which was on the first floor (upstairs from the ground floor, this being an English house). The bottom part of the cabinet swings downwards to about 45º and I have some knitting patterns stored there, but that area isn’t being used as well as it could be. The real bugbear for me are the Rowan magazines. These are all issues that I love and don’t want to get rid of, but the size makes them difficult to store effectively.

Once the yarns and storage are sorted out, I think my next garment will be the big pink jumper of my dreams. I will have to order wool for that and I don’t want to start it until I am more comfortable about the amount of time my new job will leave for knitting.

So these are my meandering thoughts for a Friday morning. I have a busy weekend of Grandparenting to enjoy before I start work on Monday. Exciting times. I hope that you are all looking forward to the weekend.

Finished object – Mama Weer All Crazee Cowl

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So I finished my cowl and I am delighted with it. I love how enormous it is and I love the glorious colours. It will be warm and cosy, not to mention ultra-cheerful, on cold winter days. Although working the knit one, purl one rib for such a big project was rather hard on the hands, it pays dividends in how the cowl sits and its versatility, so I’m glad I chose that. It also makes the cowl completely reversible which is very useful when the inside of an item is frequently on view.

In the end, I finished after the ninth colour because it felt complete. I had been a bit unsure about adding the stripe of pink at the end because the progression of the nine colours seemed close, and the pink interrupted it. That mini skein will sit in my stash and be used either to augment a pair of socks (it is sock wool, after all), or be added into the colourwork in a patterned sweater somewhere down the line.

I have updated my projects archive with the full details of this knit and I just want to take this opportunity to point you in the direction of Noodle Soup Yarns whose mini skein set I used on this project. Charley is a very talented dyer who lives in my home county of Norfolk and sells her hand-dyed wools at local craft fairs and through her online shop.

Taking photos of the finished object, I was struck all over again by how rotten I am at taking selfies. In fact, I think that is the thing above all others that marks me out as a member of my generation. I have just about got the hang of it to show my face, but I have to admit defeat over trying to photograph myself wearing the things I knit. I think the answer might be a tailor’s dummy (or is dress form a better term?), but it is unlikely to make an appearance given the bijou nature of my flat.

Whilst I was waiting for Holby City to start last night, I sneakily cast on my next garment – Basilica by Martin Storey for Rowan. I am knitting the sleeve to begin with to act as a swatch, although I have used the yarns and needles before and I’m confident about the gauge I will get.

14-08-19 Basilica cast on

I hope you’re getting on well with your creative projects and everything else in your life. Today the temperature in Norfolk has dropped and it’s dull and threatening rain. I recognise this weather – it heralds autumn and that can’t come quickly enough for me, even if it’s only to give me a chance to swaddle myself in that crazy collection of colour.

 

I don’t have plans and schemes

I don’t have plans and schemes
And I don’t have hopes and dreams
I don’t have anything
Since I don’t have you

Well, actually, I do!

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My next garment

Over the past couple of days I have been examining my modest yarn stash to work out which yarns I want to keep and which I am never going to use so therefore need to donate to charity. I’ve also been getting some exercise winding small remnants of Shetland wool from the cones into balls as I think they will be easier to store. I am saving all of these to make a Fairisle patterned sweater one of these old days.

Since I finished Gaudi earlier this year and ended up with plenty of left-overs of the Rowan Felted Tweed DK, I have had the above cardigan on my radar. It is Basilica by Martin Storey – a lovely, cosy-looking bundle of colour which will my third project from the excellent Rowan pattern book New Vintage DK, which I bought in autumn 2018.

After careful consideration, I have come up with the following colour scheme:

Main colour for ribs and collar – a double strand of JC Rennie Supersoft Lambswool in Marine (the ball nearest to the model’s head in my photo)

Secondary colour, for the larger colour blocks on body and sleeves – a double strand of JC Rennie Supersoft Lambswool, one strand Blueprint and one strand an unknown shade of grey

Stripes – Rowan Felted Tweed DK in Mineral and Clay, double strands of JC Rennie Supersoft Lambswool in Medium Grey and an unknown shade of orange

I am planning one very small change to the way the pattern is written so that the stripes are at the bottom of the garment and the solid colour block starts at the armhole and stretches to the neck. This will get around the fact that I have a limited amount of my secondary colour.

Considering that this garment is knit in stocking stitch with a very simple stripe sequence, I am surprised that Rowan felt they needed to produce it as a charted design. I understand (although I don’t entirely agree with) the use of charts to convey complicated instructions that would take up too much space if written out in full, but in this instance I can’t imagine the written instructions would take up as much room as the chart.

That’s the limit of my knitting plans and schemes so far. The pale pink “sloppy joe” jumper is still on my list, but first I want to concentrate on getting this bunch of wools out of my stash. I don’t really have any other sweater quantities stored away, which is a lovely position to be in. Ideally, I’d like to run my stash down completely. Lovely though yarns are in their skeins and balls, I like them so much better when I’ve turned them into garments and put them in my wardrobe!

Well, I think I will knit another couple of rows on my cowl before tea – I am just starting colour number eight.


For your education and/or enjoyment, why not take a listen to Don McLean’s version of Since I Don’t Have You?


 

A curiosity cabinet

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Mama Weer All Crazee Cowl – progress to date

Today I am going to write about a miscellany of ideas, connected only in that they spark my interest, thus the title of “Curiosity Cabinet” seemed appropriate.

To kick things off, there is progress on my Crazee Cowl and I am now on the seventh of the planned ten colours. I must admit I am ready for this to be finished and I am reserving the right to call it done without using all ten mini skeins. That being said, the colour I started at the weekend is very much my cup of tea, gorgeous shades of deep purple/blue, teal and turquoise with splashes of verdant green and yellow. This has led me to conclude that when I am using a colourful yarn I like it to be really vibrant and multicoloured. It’s not that I dislike the more muted combinations in middle of the cowl, I just really like the bright ones.

I like to learn from the projects I work on, and if my learning point on this one has been to invest in wild and wonderful colours on my special skeins of yarn then it’s a lesson well worth learning. Thinking about it, this cowl itself has the air of a curiosity cabinet about it, and if I wasn’t so enamoured with the Slade-inspired “Mama Weer All Crazee Cowl” I think I would rename it “Curiosity Cabinet”.

Now we’re into August I’ve been looking at the latest brochures over on Rowan Yarns’ website and, in particular, Martin Storey’s recent offerings which include some lovely, wearable patterns, as I expect from my favourite designer. I particularly like Neat from All Year Round (a very basic v-necked jumper) and Holburn from Easy DK Knits (the round-neck jumper with split and buttoned welt). I think a combination of the two would be particularly interesting. Although I’m not a hoodie girl, I do like the look of Homespun. Finally, I’ve included Tactile, not because of the pattern, but because the first thing I noticed in the picture was the profile of those sliding doors, having spent seven years of my life becoming very closely acquainted with that product line. It’s funny what sticks with you when you are no longer involved with a thing on a daily basis.

Away from the knitting, I’ve been working on my goals for the next three months, as I was pondering in my previous blog post. Over the weekend I worked through a free training module on the American Franklin Planner website and I must say it sparked my enthusiasm to think about my core values much better than either of the books I’ve been reading this year (Getting Things Done by David Allen and The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll). Perhaps it is just the brevity of it that appealed to me, who can tell?

I’ve enjoyed a couple of podcasts over the weekend. On the knitting theme, there was the latest offering from Melissa of Knitting The Stash and I particularly enjoyed the part about receiving vintage knitting magazines for her birthday during which she touched upon the idea that knitting patterns themselves are often quite timeless, it is the styling of the photography which changes and which makes things seem dated. I love a good vintage pattern so I was very interested in this. The other podcast which was audio rather than video, was from NASA and covered commercial ventures in the space programme from whether products can be/should be endorsed, to encouraging commercial space ventures in order to utilise their facilities to reduce the cost of future exploration. All fascinating stuff.

Lastly, here’s a photo I took last week of the military area at Earlham Road Cemetary, with the Spirit of the Army standing sentinel over the soldiers in the summer rain.

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Crazee Cowl/Small Steps

Fouth colour
Almost done with the fourth colour

My Mama Weer All Crazee Cowl is growing slowly. The British heat wave has deadened my pace which, let’s face it, is pretty much a crawl on this project even under conducive weather conditions. It’s not that I don’t love the project, because I do, but 300 stitches of K1 P1 rib in sock yarn on 3.00mm needles makes each row a labour of love. All I can say is thank heaven for Charley of Noodle Soup Yarns because gazing in adoration at the colours in the yarn is what will see me through this project.

Next up I will be moving from the muted purples and browns of the Tickled Plum colourway onto the silvery sparkly purple party named Festive.

Fifth colour
Fifth colour ready to go

You know that happy dance that Snoopy does? Well, that will be me when I hit this colour!

Small Steps

It struck me on Thursday morning that it doesn’t take massive gains to turn the day’s mood from slightly negative to slightly positive. Getting to the post office to find the item you’re posting isn’t going to be as expensive as you expected; finding even one job vacancy you like the sound of and that is in a location you are able to get to; the Met Office promising that temperatures will drop come Saturday. These are the tiny gains which mean a lot. Sometimes it is best to put your head down and just take the next small step, rather than constantly looking at a horizon which never seems to get any closer.

Hope you are all keeping well and those in the southern hemisphere aren’t getting too fed up with the constant “it’s too hot” chant coming from us in the north!

 

Finished object – Cable Front Cardigan

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A finished object… and I took advantage of an invitation for a couple of hours at our local park to rope my daughter into taking some modelled shots for me in between games of balloon football with my grandson.

I am exceptionally happy with how this project turned out. The fit is just great and adding the button makes this garment better suited to my requirements because I don’t really do things that hang open at the front – maybe it’s my narrow shoulders that make things seem precarious if they are not tether shut at some point? I adore the marled effect from the gold and cream yarns held together and I am pleased to say this combination washes really and dries really well which means the garment will be pretty low-maintenance. It’s definitely a fabric that isn’t scared of being bunged in the washing machine. The fact that I knitted this, start to finish, in just a month is testament to how simple and pleasurable a project it was to knit.

You can see more technical information on my project page here.

Just another couple of shots for you:

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FO 2
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This gorgeous button was bought at Liberty of London in 2010 – colours go so well with this cardigan

Those smaller barley-sugar twist cables really please me and I’m really keen to do more cabling, although perhaps I’ll start with the sleeveless top with cabled midriff rather than jumping into the all-over cabled jacket without a life belt!

A finished item put away in the wardrobe makes my heart sing.

Memory Lane Again

With Mum & Canon

Some things just get lost in the mists of time, and that is right and good, it clears the way for the next innovation. Take the hand-knitted cream jacket folded neatly on my arm in this photo taken somewhere by the sea in Kent in the later half of the 1970s. The pattern for that jacket is long gone, and I remember so little about it that reconstruction is not a possibility. Oh, I could make a stab, and I could get close, but it wouldn’t be that jacket, just a cream hand-knit jacket slightly reminscent of it.

As I recall, the design was slightly boxy without buttons; it had a slash neck – you can see in the photograph that the front is a long straight line right up to the shoulder. When worn, the neck would naturally fall open forming a soft, ad-hoc rever. The yoke area was worked in a one-by-one rib, but I can’t remember if the body was textured or just stocking stitch. I am guessing that I used an aran-weight yarn, because it felt more like a jacket than a cardigan.

I found the pattern in a UK knitting magazine that was published in a small format – probably A5 – and which had a fairly short lifespan. I can’t find anything in my internet research that seems to relate to this publication, but there are references to “Mon Tricot” which was also in a small format and published in the 1960s and early 1970s.  I bought my first copy of this mystery magazine in a newsagent on the Isle of Wight in the summer of 1976 then I got a few copies from shops before it became subscription only. I subscribed, but it wasn’t long before it petered out completely.

I can remember knitting a couple of other patterns as well as the cream jacket. There was a plain and simple twinset (short-sleeved sweater and long-sleeved cardigan) in a lightweight yarn, which featured a square neckline and folded hems – très chic. The wool I used was quite luxurious for the time, containing at least some cashmere, and I bought it in Aldertons, a little haberdashery shop that inhabited one of the historic buildings on Swan Lane in Norwich for at least a hundred years before closing down in the 80s or 90s. Although mainly dedicated to sewing, if you climbed a tiny, twisty wooden staircase to the first floor you would find a small selection of knitting wools.

The other pattern I knitted was a thick gilet made in a chunky wool for which the design was worked in three horizontal bands with each band being folded down on itself to double the fabric before the next section was added. It was an ingenious construction.

Returning to this cream jacket, I have been wondering whether I should add a cream version of that cabled jacket in my previous post to my list of things to make. It would not be a direct re-visit of this old project, but more an homage to the basic concept (I fear that may be akin to a fashion designer revealing the inspiration for their latest collection and you looking and saying “You what?”). I am not sure, however, because I rather like the idea of the heavily cabled jacket in a jewel toned yarn. It may be the destiny of this cream jacket to live on in memory, and this photograph, only.

Finally, to bring things bang up to date, I have a finished object! The Cable Front Cardigan is off the needles, washed, and ready to wear. I’ll do my wrap-up post on Monday with some finished object glamour shots.

I hope you all survived the week in good shape and that you have time this weekend to put in a bit of work on your crafts, whatever they may be.

On the home stretch

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I am getting so close to finishing my Cable Front Cardigan that I don’t want to put it down, but perhaps it is fortunate that the weather is forcing me to work in short bursts. I’m writing this mid-afternoon on Tuesday and we are currently at 26℃ (78.8ºF) which is hot enough to make wool stick to fingers after a while.

I am thoroughly enjoying working on the cabled scarf part of this pattern; in fact, the whole pattern is a joy which probably explains why I am on my third version. The main cardigan is quick and simple to execute in stocking stitch, then the two different cable patterns on the scarf front, together with the ever-decreasing width, has me happily knitting ‘just another 8 rows’ for hours on end.

I have made some modifications to the scarf front. The pattern has the decreasing take place between the large cable pattern at the outside edge and the section with the smaller cables, but I am doing the decreasing at the inner edge where it will be joined to the body. I have added a single buttonhole which I am placing immediately below the bust as I know from experience that I like being able to button the cardigan closed. Perhaps the biggest change is that I am working the larger cable over 16 rows rather than the pattern’s 14 rows. As the smaller cables are a 4-row repeat, and the decreasing is every 8 rows, this change means there is hardly any thinking required.

When this is off the needles I am going to rein in my knitting for August. I will hopefully make time to finish my Mama Weer All Crazee Cowl and perhaps knit a pair of socks, then I hope I will be ready to embark on another garment come the beginning of September. I am already dreaming about what that might be. That pink v-neck sweater I’ve been banging on about is one contender, although I need to order suitable wool, but then again I have always hankered after knitting this:

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The pattern is by Bergere de France from their Irish Knit Magazine No. 159. I bought the pattern book from Norfolk Yarn back before their shop moved from the outskirts of Norwich into the city centre, so it’s probably high time I actually knit something from it. Every time I get it out and look through it, I think how great it would be if I could find a blouse just like that, too. I really like the combination of the bold, colourful print with the light, chiffon type of fabric.

The other pattern I really love from that same book is:

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I think I would classify this as a labour of love.

I am continuing to saunter down memory lane and have some very sketchy recollections to write about on Friday of an old, old project from a magazine that I can recall only the barest details of.

What are your plans for summer and into autumn? Do you have any projects you keep thinking of doing but somehow never get around to? I love to hear from you, so drop me a line in the comments section to let me know what you’re thinking of doing.

Pink Ice-Cream

First Jumper

Uh-oh, it’s the 1970s again! Just look at those flares! I wouldn’t be surprised to find a platform sole hiding just out of shot.

Here I am with my lovely Mum at the seaside (I think it’s the Isle of Wight in which case it’s the summer of 1977) and I’m wearing the first jumper I knitted myself after I left school.

Along with my sisters, I was a keen knitter from the age of 5 when I learned the basics from our mum. I can remember knitting dolls’ clothes and scarves, but I don’t remember actually knitting myself any garments as a child or young adult. A little later I learned to crochet (I think it was our oldest sister who taught us that) and I remember crocheting tank tops in the early 1970s, but then who doesn’t? When I left school at 16, there was a lovely long summer before I started working in the autumn, and it was during that summer that I picked up the knitting needles and, really, never stopped.

This jumper was incredibly simple, just a basic v-neck pattern with set-in sleeves and I am pretty sure it was knitted in a man-made yarn. However, it fitted nicely and was warm and comfortable and, really, doesn’t that sum up what a hand-knitted garment should be?

This is the first of my ‘historical’ projects which is inspiring me to make a revisit. On this one, it’s a combination of the colour and the simplicity of the garment – that vibe of being a step up from a basic cotton sweatshirt – which is inspiring me. I have been yearning to knit something in an ice-cream pink for so long and I think this year will have to be the year.

I have been working away over the past couple of weeks setting up an archive of completed knitting projects on this website and, if you care to take a look at any, you can find it linked on my main menu. It is my intention to log new projects as I begin them so I end up with a proper archive of the things I knit. I do have a number which I made but didn’t originally bother to log, so I may go back and record them if I can find photos and details of yarns and patterns. In time, I might also add a page of stashed yarn, although I might be being a bit ambitious there.

Well, that’s all I wanted to say, and now the weekend is peeping over the horizon. I hope you’ve got nice things planned, and I will see you back here on Monday, I hope, for more chatter about inconsequential things.

Seams okay

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Now that is what I call progress!

My Cable Front Cardigan by Norah Gaughan for Vogue Knitting is coming along apace. I made it my goal to finish the back over the weekend and, despite having a totally lethargic day on Saturday (which I am putting down to the humidity), I comfortably finished it by the early part of Sunday morning. That was the point at which I decided that I could seam together the main body of the cardigan and then when the cabled scarf front is finished all I’ll have to do is add that to the body and I’ll have a finished object.

Of course, as soon as it was in the above state, I had to try it on and I have to say that if the fronts were not so narrow, I’d be tempted to just put a button band on it and call it done. I love how it fits at the moment. It is nowhere near as boxy as the initial, multi-coloured version was, although the addition of the scarf piece will change the fit and the look of the garment dramatically.

Just to clarify, I have not made a mistake with my grammar in the title of this post, it is a play on words. I thought it would be nice to show you how I seam my hand-knits. First of all, I tether the pieces I am about to seam together with loops cut from left-over sock yarn – the contrasting colours help to make things clear. The loops are usually about 3-4cm apart.

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Then I run a row of crochet along to form the seam, removing each yarn loop as I come to it.

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Yes, it’s more bulky than a nice professional invisible seam, but what it lacks in grace it more than makes up for in sturdiness and ease of finishing. The only seam I really hate doing is the shoulder seam – no matter what I do I can’t get a shoulder seam to go together easily. Mind you, they look fine once the garment is finished, so who cares?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little look at my current work in progress. I’ve been doing a little housekeeping on my archive of finished projects over the past week and I’ve come across some more references to old knits which I want to make new versions of. Come back on Friday for more about that.

In the meantime, I hope your week is progressing well.