Sunday, April 30, 2006

Current WIPs and other musings

Photos to start - firstly the Alien Illusion scarf. This is half way through the first pattern repeat, so you have half an alien's head :-) The first photo (excuse the flash effect, it's a dull day here) shows the "flat" version (no clickie), the second the shadow pattern when viewed from a different angle:

Now I have the hang of following the chart, and am not mixing up my left and right, I'm enjoying knitting this. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is for my hubby. I bought enough yarn to make two scarves, I'm considering making a skull and crossbones version for myself. Suspect I'm currently going through some kind of piratical phase, I'm also eyeing up the Skully sweater from Stich 'N' Bitch :-) And of course there's the wonderful "We Call Them Pirates" hat, as recently completed by Knit Knit Purl Purl. I also found the lovely Skull Scarf, knit in the round, by And She Knits Too! (this one could take a while, methinks).

Next up, the start of the Irish Hiking Scarf for my dad, using the Posh Yarn cashmere-silk yarn. This is fabulous stuff to knit with, very much a "buttery" yarn. My first attempt at cables, and with this yarn I have the kind of effect I wanted - not overly "3D", but a more subtle texturing effect.

I'm hoping my Dad likes this, but good news regarding my chosen colour - he was wearing a shirt of the same deep purple hue as the yarn the other day!

I'm almost done with the bag I'm making to send with Branching Out. It's the reason I chose that particular shade of blue, I'll say no more until I can post the finished item :-) Safe to say it isn't a "pretty" style of bag, it's more a slightly mad fannish item and I hope very much it will give my friend a big laugh when she sees it :-)


This week I acquired what appears to be an truly excellent knitting reference book - the Knitters Handbook by Montse Stanley. So far I've only had a brief look though, but it has little gems like a diagram and text explaining which way round stitches should lie on your needles. Now I sometimes have cause to tink back a number of stitches, and I've never seen anything before that tells me exactly where each arm of the stitch should lie. It can be easy to accidentally twist stitches when unpicking them, especially in my case and spatial awareness isn't one of my strengths! Many thanks to Hazel for recommending this book, I know it will be very useful for the upcoming Sgt Pepper :-)

I also added another book to my wishlist - One Skein by Leigh Radford. There look to be some great projects in there, and it has received some very positive reviews from a number of knitbloggers.

I finished reading Neverwhere this week and thoroughly enjoyed it, thank you to nanatoo for recommending it! I've added two of Neil Gaiman's other books to my wishlist, Smoke and Mirrors and Stardust. Currently between books, I can't decide whether to pick up one of the "classics" and tackle something I've not read before, maybe Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.


I'd take a photo of my current button stash, but it would look rather feeble :-) Most of the buttons we currently have are those spares that you get with items of clothing. I've recently bought a few pretty buttons, the local LYS has quite a nice selection. However I wondered if anyone knew of any good online shops for fancy buttons?

Daft quiz time

I saw this on 17 Percent Geek's blog and had to have a go, apparently I'm 30.4% geek (hence the "total geek" button on the right). That kind of figures.

Then I found the nerd test at Yarnivorous, so I figured that had to be done as well!

I am nerdier than 65% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

There seems to be a pattern emerging ...

Speaking of patterns ...

This week there has been much pattern temptation posted on blogs. I'm like some sort of pattern magpie, each new one I see that I like, goes on my to-do list. Never mind the list could last me years! For example, Kendra posted about the Matilda cardigan. Oh my, that has like ribbons lacing up the back, which hits my pattern buttons in a dramatic way :-) I love the fitted, laced, ribbony kind of thing. Vogue Knitting has already tempted me in that general directon with some of the current crop of patterns. I recently subscribed and am most impressed with my first issue.

At least I now have a to-do list spreadsheet. It needs updating again. I'm thinking I should do one to catalogue my stash too, before it takes over the house.

Some thanks are also due, to Cherry for answering my plea for advice on felting Colinette Point 5 yarn. When I've knitted my way out of quite so many WIPs I'm going to make a bag with the green Point 5 acquired recently :-)

On a different note, it seems there have been changes in the Harry Potter knitting world. Last time I visited HP_Knitting, the long-absent mod had reappeared after variou members contacted her. It now seems that after another couple of months she has decided to hand over the community to others, neither of whom actually wanted to be mods! Last thing I saw, she hadn't actually transferred anything so the poor comm is in limbo. Some of the regulars have moved over to Weasley Sweaters, which seems an excellent idea. I've not made any HP items for a while but future plans for scarves and sweaters are there!


Friday, April 28, 2006


Tomorrow I aim to post progress photos of (1) the Alien Illusion scarf, and (2) the Irish Hiking Scarf which I started yesterday in the cashmere-silk. It looks beautiful knitted up and sits really well on the cables. My first try at cables too, I'm surprised how easy they are!

Today's photos are a mixed bag of yarn and garden. Firstly yarn, this is what I ordered for the Sgt Pepper Jacket. It's Debbie Bliss Cathay in black, red, white, and what we thought was duck-egg. It looks quite duck-egg and nanatoo agrees! However we have since established that the shade called duck-egg is no. 8, and this one is no. 13 (Mint, apparently). We still like the 13 better!

I got home yesterday and found that DH had put this on top of one of the wheeled bins for me to see. He found it sitting on top of the pottery tortoise (!) that sits on top of where we buried Oz the gerbil last year (helps stop cats digging round there). It had fallen out of the coniferhedge, by fair means or foul we do not know. No sign of any eggs in the vicinity, it might not even be from this year. See the length of black plastic incorporated into it!

Lastly a photo of our little quince bush in flower. I should have taken these earlier in the week, as the flowers are just starting to go over. It's such a lovely colour.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Branching Out

Branching Out was nicely blocked when I got home tonight (please excuse the hastily-contrived "pale background"!):

Pattern: Branching Out from Knitty by Susan Pierce Lawrence
Yarn: Stylecraft 100% wool DK in shade Ocean
Needles: 5mm straights (bamboo)
Yardage: Approx. three quarters of one 100g ball (240m / 260 yards per ball)
Pattern repeats: 39, I think!

This is a gift for a friend, I now need to finish off the bag in the same yarn :-) I'm definitely pleased with the end result on this scarf, it's amazing that you can turn a wibbly wobbly scrunchy piece of knitting into lovely lace with damp blocking.

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Yarny goodness

My order from Posh Yarn arrived today - the original estimate for dispatch was Thursday but happily it was posted yesterday :-)

I am very pleased indeed with the yarn, it is gorgeous. It's Cordelia, the cashmere-silk aran in Mulberry, lovely muted deep purples. The picture is pretty much true to the actual colour. It arrived beautifully wrapped in tissue paper. I will definitely be back in the future! I'm itching to ball up one of the skeins and make a test swatch :-)

Also arriving pretty darned promptly from the US was the Brown Sheep Naturespun worsted for the Alien Illusion scarf. There should be enough for 2 scarves here. The yarn is from eBay shop Oregon Trail Yarn.

This is lovely soft yarn and at only 3 UK pounds per ball, very good value. It was also nice to see that the actual postage cost was in fact a few cents more than I actually paid, certainly no "hidden charges" there. Another seller I will happily trade with again.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Knitting update and SK mini-rant

I finished Branching Out tonight, it's just under 60 inches long unblocked. Hoping to get it pinned out to block tomorrow or Tuesday (tomorrow after work may well be taken up with some gardening duties).

I measured the pieces of the jacket I've completed so far (am currently knitting the second sleeve). To cut a long story short, the back of the jacket is too long. I followed the instructions as printed in the magazine, they are easier to read with the colour-coding etc. I do have a pattern sheet that came with the yarn, so luckily I have something to compare the magazine version to. I've measured according to the instructions, followed the pattern precisely, so why is the back too long? Because Simply Knitting, in transcribing the pattern, missed out a vital piece of clarification / instruction! Length needed to be measured from the cast-on edge, yet the magazine version reads as if it's the length of the stocking stitch section. Very unclear, I'm going to drop an email to them. I guess I could have spotted it earlier if I'd sat and compared the lengths on the schematics with those from the pattern. As it is, I need to frog the back down to the correct length before the armhole decreases. It could have been a lot worse I suppose! Lesson learnt re checking lengths both ways, and trusting too much to SK's editing of patterns :-)


Saturday, April 22, 2006

How did that happen ....

I'll fess up, I have ordered yarn from Posh Yarn. Firstly I remembered it was Father's Day in June. Then it occurred to me that I hadn't knitted anything for my dad yet. DH will be having an Alien Illusion scarf which he is looking forward to (yarn hasn't arrived yet but it's coming from the US).

Now my dad, like a lot of men, is quite picky about what he'll wear. I saw the cashmere/silk mix yarn and thought, now that would be great for him, very soft and drapey, not too "chunky". I've ordered 2 skeins of the "Cordelia" cashmere/silk aran to make a scarf for him, in "Mulberry". I'm thinking either a simple ribbed scarf or possibly cabled like the Irish Hiking Scarf. I know he won't be able to wear it until the autumn now, but I think he needs a warm scarf for the winter! He has been a bit poorly recently with a few episodes of a vertigo-type condition, he's also a bit naughty in not always taking the medication when it's needed! It will be nice to make something for him, I just hope he likes it! (I suspect if he doesn't my mother will LOL!)


Knitted gift!

Here's the lovely amulet bag that nanatoo made for me, isn't it pretty? It came with a piece of rose quartz inside, and it will make a great home for the worry stone (pictured left) that I bought in Cornwall last summer :-)

Thanks nanatoo!


Teeny Tiny felted tote pictures

By popular request (waves to nanatoo ;-) here's the completed teeny tiny tote:

Pattern: Teeny tiny felted tote by Sarah
Yarn: King Cole Luxury Mohair, shade Paris (approx. three quarters of a ball)
Needles: Denise interchangeable circs approx. 16" (the pattern says 24" but this is too big)
Dimensions: Pre-felting, approx 7 x 3.5 x 6 inches, post-felting approx 5 x 2.5 x 5 inches
Handles: Twisted cord using 2 strands of Stylecraft 100% wool DK

This was fun to make, especially the felting. It marks 4 "firsts" for me, bizarrely enough: felting, picking up stitches around a base to knit in the round, using the Denise set (found them great to work with), and making a twisted cord for the handle.

I made a buttonhole in the flap rather than make a loop (I didn't much fancy trying to crochet mohair yarn, and I can't really crochet yet ...). I found a crochet hook very useful for pulling the handle cord through the fabric though!


Friday, April 21, 2006

Felting update and some bits and pieces

Felting update - the bag shrank by an inch in height after going through a 40 degree wash (40 probably isn't hot enough though). There was still a fair amount of stitch definition too, so I chucked it in the sink with some hand-hot water and a bit of laundry liquid. After 10 minutes or so of work it was suitably felted, and had shrunk another inch in height. It's around 5 inches tall, 2.5 inches deep by about 5 inches wide now (originally 7 x 3.5 x 6). Currently drying and blocking using a plastic box of a suitable size, pictures hopefully tomorrow when it's dry and I've added the handles and button.

Have you seen that Mary-Lou's Steek Boa won the runner-up prize in Simply Knitting's scarf competiton?! Fantastic news and well deserved, it's a great pattern.

There's also an interesting new yarn site that has come to my attention this week, Posh Yarn. Looks lovely, I doubt I shall be able to resist for long. I know someone has just ordered from them (mentioning no names!).


Sgt. Pepper Jacket Knitalong

Ladies and gentlemen, may we proudly present the Sgt. Pepper Jacket Knitalong!

I've long admired Anna's Sgt. Pepper jacket pattern, then nanatoo said she was going to make it, so of course I had to join in :-) We decided to set up a knitalong and already have another taker!

The knitalong is open to anyone making, or about to make, the jacket, and there is no end date, just an ongoing KAL. If you'd like to join there are instructions on the blog itself.


Teeny tiny felted tote - before felting

I've had a short break from the jacket and made a Teeny tiny felted tote. Here it is this morning, before being put into a pillowcase and in with the darks wash:

The yarn is King Cole Luxury Mohair in shade "Paris". This was left over from my first steek boa. Instead of a button loop, I made a buttonhole in the flap and rounded the end slightly.

I'm currently waiting rather impatiently for the washing machine to finish the cycle! Tune in later for post-felting news :-)


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Banwy river

A couple of photos of the river that runs past the Banwy workshops. The bridge is only around 10 years old, and is made of wood. It doesn't look too much like Spring has sprung from these photos, but there are celandines in full flower on the river banks, and the hedgerows along the fields are starting to green up quite nicely.


Colinette Mill Shop buys, part two

Some more Point 5, this time in shade "Morocco" I think. I bought a kit with this last time, which made a hat and scarf, and I love the mix of colours:

Lastly 4 different skeins, left to right - mohair in deep purple shades, Giotto, Lasso (in Popsicle I think), and top is a very pink skein of Point 5:

I could probably have bought more yarn (stating the obvious there), but (a) I could just about carry 12 skeins! (no baskets provided, major oversight there LOL), and (b) I still have 8 skeins of Graffiti from the last visit, and 6 or 7 of Giotto bought for a sweater last year ....

They had what looked like an experimental run of yarn too, it was based on Giotto, the name began with "O", something like Oxo but obviously not Oxo! (might have been Ogo). The sign said it was available at the mill shop only. It's basically a shinier version of Giotto, very pretty it was too.

I am now coveting the throw kits, there were several knitted up on display and they are gorgeous. A future purchase there methinks!

Next post will be a couple of photos of the river that runs past the workshops. This is a very pretty setting indeed, there is the steam railway which runs between Llanfair and Welshpool, and the natural scenery which is a real pleasure to drive through.


Colinette Mill Shop buys, part one

Today we visited the Colinette millshop, part of the factory at Llanfair Caereinion in Powys. We'd been there once before, last September, so the Easter break seemed like an opportune time for another visit. Or as DH puts it, "to add to the wool mountain". This is said in a very accepting tone of voice - the wool is just a fact of life here now :-)

This time I only bought yarn from the sale room, which makes the pennies go further! To be honest there is so much choice in there you'd be hard put not to find something you liked.

First off, 3 skeins of Prism, a wool/cotton mix in shade "Monet":

Point 5 wool in a fab dark khaki mix (no idea what the shade name is, a lot of skeins in the sale room don't have labels):


Monday, April 17, 2006

Hooded jacket progress

I cast on for the Bergere de France hooded jacket on Saturday night. This is the current progress - back completed, left front completed, part way up the right front. This jacket knits up quickly!

Notice the yarn decided to pool in the centre part of the back, then reverted to type again. No idea why it did that! I don't think it looks too odd, at least there is a form of symmetry about it. I'm hoping to finish the jacket this week, as I'm on holiday (yay).


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Alien Illusion

We have finally found something that DH would like me to knit for him! I got Stitch 'n' Bitch, the original book, yesterday. DH was looking through it today and found the Alien Illusion scarf. He loves it - he likes aliens and all that kind of stuff (Lynne knows about this!), so do I but hey, we found something I can make for him! Maybe once he has this for next autumn, he might wear the 1x1 rib hat I made earlier this year ;-)

As is often the case, finding a UK equivalent yarn is fairly difficult. Via the wonders of Google I found a US-based ebay shop that sells the Brown Sheep Nature Spun the original pattern uses. That green is very difficult to match, unless you find a 100% acrylic. I wanted 100% wool, so I've ordered enough yarn for 2 scarves, a whole 12 pounds, fantastic.

I'm about a third of the way with adding ruffles to Latifa. It's quite hard on the hands, especially if you already have creaky ones! Probably doesn't help that I'm using metal needles either. However the results are well worth it. I'm planning on a fairly relaxed day tomorrow, and hoping to start the hooded jacket. Also looking forward to the new series of Doctor Who! There is a great extended trailer on BBCi (red button) at the moment.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Neapolitan ice cream with rainbow sprinkles

In other words, Latifa has been cast-off, blocked, and the first few ruffles added! The washing and blocking evened out the sides very well, especially the green sections. You can see where the pin heads were as little "dimples" on the edges but these will drop out I think. I love the colours of the Koigu :-) The ruffles take longer than you think, it might take a wee while (something like 30 ruffles in total) but it's well worth it.

There's enough Silketweed left over to make a pair of wristers, I think.

Thanks you all for your pattern advice, much appreciated! I think I'll keep Picovoli for another day. I got the RYC Classic Art book today, along with Sirdar California Girls. I think I'm going to make the Vanessa short-sleeved sweater with the Wool Cotton. I also love the Georgina sleeveless wrap top, ideal for me as it's the sort of thing you can sling on over any summer top. California Girls has lots of excellent patterns which all knit to DK too, plenty there to keep me occupied. I'm going to get stuck in to the hooded jacket next, though. Branching Out is progressing, I can't memorise the pattern although I understand what all the stitches actually do (and it's lovely and symmetrical). From what I've read I'm not the only one who (a) can't memorise it and (b) can't read charts very well!

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Progress & pattern advice

Latifa is almost finished, the garter stitch main body that is. Much cheering to be heard around here! The yarn is lovely but it's 4-ply weight, so each little square is 30 rows, and the scarf will end up around 75 inches I think. The next step will be a gentle hand wash and pinning out to block. At the moment it's quite wavy due in part to the differing thicknesses of the colours. The green SilkeTweed (my favourite colour of the four), is distinctly thinner than the rest. I've seen explanations for this phenomenon on UKHK recently, it's apparently due to different dye colours. What makes it more obvious is that the green is next to the brown, which is the thickest. There are also variations due to my experimenting with different knitting techniques. My tension got tighter when I tried wrapping the yarn with my index finger. In the end I stopped doing this as I couldn't seem to loosen it up enough even with much practice.

I've wound up one of the skeins of Koigu in preparation for the ruffling. Just sitting next to the scarf in my work basket, it lifts the already pretty colours. Can't wait to see how it looks when added to the scarf.

Once Latifa is blocking I think I'll cast on the hooded jacket. This looks like a reasonably quick knit on 6 and 8mm needles. Only two days at work for me next week so I'm looking forward being able to do a fair bit of knitting over the Easter holiday.

I'm also looking at the Picovoli top as a potential pattern for the Rowan Wool Cotton. The sizings go up in steps of 4 inches, and mine falls between them. Would I be OK just working out the number of stitches I need for the in-between size? I live in fear of altering a pattern and finding I have an unworkable number of stitches :-)


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Call off the search!

Nope, I haven't disappeared, run away, fallen into an alternate universe :-) I've just had trouble finding time to update my blog since before the weekend. Last Saturday we had a big shopping expedition, not something we do that often. First stop was - tada! - the new LYS in our little town!

The shop started out as a haberdashers, it changed hands last year, but when we happened to walk past last Friday I spotted they had started selling yarn as well (yarn radar). They currently do a range of Sirdar and RYC. The lady who owns the shop said they had only started with the yarn a few weeks ago, and she is planning on stocking the Rowan yarns as well as RYC. Fantastic news, the other LYS has a pretty good range but doesn't do Rowan. They will also carry patterns and books and the like. I bought some RYC Cashsoft DK in pale pink, at centre below:

At left is Rowan Wool Cotton in "Citron", a fab pale limey green, a good bargain from eBay this week (8 balls for a tenner, guvnor). The yarn at right is King Cole Merino Anti-Tickle DK in a pretty lilac, from the original LYS last week because I had to go in and buy 7mm needles, ahem. I think I'll do a Spring hat and scarf with the lilac, I fancy a cable hat and maybe wristers with the pink, and the Wool Cotton will hopefully be a sleeveless/very short-sleeved fitted top (pattern yet to be decided). Being a Rowan novice, can anyone tell me if they have any suitable summery patterns for Wool Cotton? I need an excuse to buy another pattern book!

Once we had left the LYS(2), I bought some fabby green shoes, or rather cloggy-type mules, from Clarks. Ever hopeful that we will have weather warm enough to wear them at some point! We then went to the nearest big town (now called a city), to one of the retail parks where they now have a huge Borders. A good browse was had in the craft section, which was useful to see a number of books on my wish-list, and others I'd heard of. I bought Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation (I don't have the first one yet so am approaching this backwards), and a Vogue pocket-size book of hat patterns.

In knitting news, I'm being very focused, despite multiple yarny temptation, and am bent on finishing my two current projects. I want to get Latifa cast off and blocked, then I can work on ruffling in between other things. Branching Out needs to be finished fairly soon as I want to send it off along with the bag (also needing finishing) during the Easter break.

It looks like we'll manage a visit to Colinette's millshop during Easter week :-) Thanks for the directions to the garden centre Cherry, sorry you won't be around but have fun on your city break!