Welcome to the home of my musings about knitting :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

You say potato, I say french fries!...salty!... oceans!...pirates!

(or "Welcome to my brain; please watch out for low flying ideas and random connections")

In the last 48 hours I have mostly been thinking about rugs.

Let me explain. Most of you will know that I recently bought a new house, and when I was up there at the weekend MR A idly observed that it would be nice to have a couple of rugs for the kitchen floor. And maybe they should be rag rugs, as that would seem to go very nicely with the style of the house.

OK, I thought to myself, sounds like a plan. Also sounds like something I should be able to find on the internet in a range of retro-chic styles.

Gentle reader, never put the search term "rag rugs" into Google unless you have braced yourself thoroughly first. There are 2 sorts of rag rug artist out there. One makes *very* expensive "designer" rugs in styles that are far too modern for where I want to put them. (And did I say expensive? ) The other makes good value basic mats, but they are so twee that I found it hard to look at them without flinching. One site even started up playing "'Tis A Gift To Be Simple" at full volume when I clicked on it. Not something you need at 2am when Dear Husband is asleep within earshot, let me tell you.

So, next plan. Why don't I make them? Further research revealed that there are a huge number of ways to make rag rugs, although one of the most popular appears to be crocheting them with a hook the size of a tent peg. Or you can knit them....

Next plan - I know I've seen a great pattern for a rug made out of mitred squares somewhere. A bit more Googling later and I find it. It's from Interweave knits, and is made out of Lion Brand kitchen cotton. Nice, don't you think?

Interweave rug

More Googling reveals that I cannot source Lion Brand kitchen cotton in the UK or via the Internet with any degree of reliability (presumably because it is super-common in the US so who the heck would want to sell it on-line). Can I find a substitute? Not that easily as it is very thick compared to most of the cotton yarns available here in the UK.....

Next plan - can I adapt that cool mitred afghan pattern that I admired on Mason Dixon not so long ago?

Psychedelic throw

More Googling, and I decide this is possible, although I would like to make it out of reasonably cheap cotton yarn rather than super-special Rowan cotton because it's going to be walked on. Some internet possibilities present themselves, but I am going to John Lewis's tomorrow anyway to exchange some of the pillow cases I bought the other week, so I'll check out what they've got there.

I get to JL's. They have no suitable cotton (except for some really horrid colours). But they do have some really yummy big wool yarns.....

Next plan - I go crazy and buy Rowan yarn, hatching a plot to knit big garter stitch squares, sew then together and attach a felted i-cord border in the darkest colour. I also wantonly buy all blue and grey yarns despite the fact that the tiles in my kitchen are green and dark red. It'll be eclectic, I tell myself.

Here is my loot.

Kitchen rug ... honest

The first yarn is Rowan Ribbon Twist, which I had never really closely examined before. I love the crinkles and the zingy bits of colour and shininess provided by the ribbon. I want to start knitting these immediately to see how they turn out.

Ribbon twist

The second yarn is Rowan Big Wool, which is soft and delicious. Again, I want to start knitting straight away.

Big wool

And while I was there, this Debbie Bliss Maya may have slipped into my basket. This picture hasn't really done the colourways justice - the purples are much softer and pinker than you see them here. What am I going to do with this? Well, maybe Clapotis, but I need to think about gague and whether this is slippery enough. Other than that, who the heck knows? I'm sure something will come to me.

DB Maya in purple Posted by Hello

So, from rag rugs to knitted rugs, to mitred squares, to cotton, to wool, to patchwork to i-cords in just under 2 days. My head hurts. I think I need to go and lie down now :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Knitting Natter

So, what's been happening recently in knitting land? Well, last weekend I went to Stitches East in Atlantic City and bought a whole heck of a lot of yarn, but pretty much everyone who reads my blog was with me at that event so suffice it to say that there was yarn and it was delicious. There will be pictures when each purchase emerges from my stash to be knitted up. When that will be I can't predict however, as said stash now seems to have taken on the proportions of a small mountain. Or perhaps a whale. So much yarn, so little time *sigh*

Another thing that I did for the first time last weekend, under the guidance of the lovely Axelle and Jen was to have a go at KoolAid dyeing. Here are my first efforts (thanks to Jen for providing the yarn to experiment on) :

Look! - KoolAid yarn

Not bad, neh? I think I marginally prefer the minty one although it's a close run thing. Here's a closeup of the minty colourway:

Minty yarn

And here's the orange one...

Orangey yarn

Meh. I need to learn the focussing distance of my new digital camera, but you get the picture. Look Ma, I've dyed my first yarn! And it was great fun. I can see why some people get addicted to the process. Now all I have to do is come up with something to knit with it.

Back on European shores, I am nearly halfway through the Glenora throw and the vast number of ends were completely freaking me out. Look at this for heavens' sake!

OMG the horror!

So I decided to give it a hair cut. As I think I said previously I have woven in all the tails as I've been going along, which is something I habitually do. But then I sew them in as well, because for some reason I don't trust the weaving in, even though that is the only method my mother in law uses to deal with stray ends and her garments never fall apart. So I screwed my courage to the sticking post and gave Glenora a haircut.

That's better :) Posted by Hello

Doesn't that look better? I am still going to sew in the ends for the swirly section, but for the stripes I've just trimmed the yarn off at the end of the weaving in. Let's hope that I won't regret that decision later. You will notice that I have woven my ends in for quite a long way before cutting them off. My rule of thumb is to weave over at least 10 stitches, sometimes up t o15 for good measure, before cutting off the yarn. Cross your fingers for me that this doesn't all come to a sticky end :/

And finally, from the thrifty knitting corner, I was poking around in a second hand shop in Norfolk at the weekend and I discovered a huge box of knitting needles tucked away in one corner. I fell on it like a woman possessed and managed to root out 5 sets of double pointed needles in handy sock sizes. They cost me £1. No, not £1 per pair. £1 for all five pairs! Now that's what I call a bargain. They had a small box of yarn too but I couldn't get near it. Never mind - it gives me an excuse to go back next weekend.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Glenora Throw progress

I finally found some time where I was at home in the daylight to take some pictures of progress on my version of the Glenora throw, so here it is. What do you think? I'm quite pleased with it so far. The yarn feels beautifully soft and I love the colours and the effect of combining them. The only thing I wish I'd done differently was knit it on circs instead of the straight needles that the pattern recommends. They make my wrists ache, and my work feels so heavy on them. Circs all the way for me from now onward.

And look at my Fairisle swirls! I'm quite pleased with those, although I think I could do with some more practice in order to get the tension right when carrying yarn across the back of my work. It's not bad, but some vigorous blocking is going to be required in order to get that checkered part to lie flat, in particular. But I managed to follow my first chart without too much trouble, so that's got to be a good thing :)

The only trouble with this sort of multi-coloured design is all the ends that need dealing with after the fun knitting part is over. Look at this!

Arrgh - too many ends Posted by Hello

I've woven them in as I've gone along though, so in principle I can just trim them without any further sewing. I've just never been able to bring myself to do that before. I might be brave about it this time though as it's not like it's a jumper where the pieces are going to get pulled out from being worn. Plus the fact that if I decide I need to sew these ends in I will never ever wear this garment due to my finishing aversion. It will languish in my wardrobe for ever, and that would be a great shame.

Two more knitting related things occur to me:

First, I think I can see one of my squares in the Noro afghan on Mason Dixon Knitting. Eee! A tiny little bit of knitting fame and glory comes my way.

Secondly, for all you felters out there, what temperature do you set your washing machine at when you felt? I am felting RLBF's Booga Bag at the moment, and the choices I have are 40, 60 and 95 Celcius. I have been using 60, but it seems to be taking a very long time so I was wondering if hotter would be better. But 95C is pretty hot! All the instructions I have just helpfully say 'set your machine to hot'. Fabulous. But I bet someone out there in knitblog land knows the answer. Any other tips on how to achieve the perffect felt also gratefully received.

Finally, thanks to eyeleen for the link to the nifty percentage bars. You will see that my super special IT skillz have not yet proved sufficient for me to get them working but I will persevere. Look for versions with actual text on them here soon (as soon as I work out what I'm doing wrong. Wahh!)

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Good things come in threes, right?

All is going well for me on the knitting front at the moment.

Firstly, my blog has finally been accepted into the Fibre Arts bloggers netring. So if you click on the button below it will now send you on to another cool knitblog rather than off into technical oblivion. Which has to be good.

Second, and extremely excitingly, I have finally found somewhere in the UK where I can not only buy Koigu yarn but also Lorna's Laces. Look! - It's here! The prices are a bit eye-watering though. £7.95 for one skein of Koigu. Oy. But at least it means I can buy 2 or three skeins at a time from now on rather than having to purchase a small yarn mountain in order to justify the postage. Not that a yarn mountain is a bad thing, you understand. It's just quite difficult to conceal in an open plan flat.

And the third good knitting thing that has happened to me this weekend is that I finally gave in and started on the Glenora Throw, in Mission Falls 1824.

Ooh - swirly Posted by Hello

I started on Friday night and I am up to the first bright orange stripe in the picture above. I would post pics of my own WIP, but I didn't get home until it was dark today and I really want you all to be able to see the colours properly which just ain't going to happen with a picture taken in artificial light. Watch this space though - there will be pictures soon.

I am loving this project so far. The yarn is fluffy and soft,and, now I am past the first lot of swirls and checkers, the large-ish gauge means that the whole thing is just zipping along. I'm quite pleased with my swirls. They are my first ever attempt at Fairisle and also my first ever experience of knitting from a chart. It all seemed to go off without a hitch although I think some blocking will be required to even out the Fairisle parts of the pattern. But I wouldn't have said that that was particularly surprising given the amout of yarn carrying involved.

What is that you're whispering about my promising to finish all my Christmas knitting before I started this project? Did I say that? In which case, I point you towards the new button on my sidebar. I'm a badass knitter no less which, as you can see if you click on the button, means that I knit what the heck I like whenever the heck I like.

So there.

(And I've still got ages to go before Christmas, right? So I can take a break from socks without spoiling the overall game plan. Right:? Right?)

Friday, October 01, 2004

My felted bag has grown like Topsy

Gah. I have lots to blog about, including an internet yarn store that has done me wrong and a Great Knitting Adventure that is coming up next week. But it's late and I'm falling asleep at my computer so you'll just have to settle for a few knitting pics taken with my new birthday digital camera (yay!)

RLBF's felted bag is all knitted up and just needs the ends sewing in before it can get thrown into the washing machine. It's difficult to tell from this picture, but the unfelted bag is really quite large, so I am hoping to get a small-ish shoulder bag out at the end of the process. But who knows? All part of the fun of felting.

So what's that odd square in the top right hand corner of the picture then? Well, my idea is to fold it over somehow and sew it up into a little purse to match the bag. Exactly how that is going to work I'm not 100% sure. I think I'll wait until I can see the size of the felted piece before I make any firm decisions. I like to live dangerously, me.

The next three pics are a new innovation for this blog - knitting, but not done by me. Behold the beauty of the two Noro Silk Garden cushions that RLBF gave me for my birthday.

Aren't they yummy?

But it gets better.

If you turn them over, you find the following:

Posted by Hello

The letters are done in beading and refer to the ongoing battle between Mr A and myself over how many cushions are needed in one house. His preferred number would be none. My view is that you can never have too many cushions. I have slowly been winning the moral victory over the last few years, but his reaction on seeing these was pretty much as RLBF predicted.

Bless him.

Don't you think they are a really cool present? I was extremely pleased with them. And one of the best bits about them is that the dark green silk RLBF used for the beaded panels is offcuts of the material she used to make her bridesmaids dress for my wedding. :)