Welcome to the home of my musings about knitting :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Christmas knitting update

So, how's the manic Christmas knitting going, I hear you ask?

Well here's progress on my Vine Lace socks to date. As you can see I'm halfway through turning the shortrow heel.

Sock progress

I can almost hear knitting brains around the world counting the number of days until Christmas and thinking, "Um, Atropos - I hope you hadn't planned to give too many people socks this year if that's how fast you're going." And that would be fair enough if that was still my first sock. But actually it's the second. Look!

Fooled you!

So, at current rates I will have finished this pair in around 11 days which is certainly a new record for me and holds out some hope of getting maybe 70% of my original over-ambitious plan done before the big day. That is of course if I can overcome 2 major hurdles:

- Kitchener stitch. For some reason I am having a Kitchener stitch blackout. It's not that I can't do it. It's just that for some reason I don't seem to want to. So at last count I had 4 completed socks that just need their toes grafting lurking in the bottom of my knitting bag. Someone please send me some finishing vibes - I am in dire need of them.

- Ponchos. I have 2 ten-year-old girls on my Christmas present list who I had not originally included in my knitting plans. But I woke up in the middle of the night sometime last week with the word "poncho" ringing around in my head and now it's refusing to go away. There is no way in the world that I could knit 2 ponchos and another bajillion pairs of socks in the time available of course. But that doesn't mean that my knitting imp isn't tempting me to try. What? Doesn't everyone have a knitting imp that sits on their shoulder whispering things like "Why don't you buy some Noro Silk Garden even though your stash is the size of Mount Everest and you have no particular project in mind for it"? Or in this case "Ponchos....you know you want to". Anyway, I am sternly resisting the imp at the moment, but I have no idea how long that's going to last.

In other news, this is new in the stash:

Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton

I expect the siren call of Klaralund will get me eventually, but at the moment I am quite taken with this little number:

Lovlund Posted by Hello

Has anyone knitted it? I'd be interested in your experiences with the pattern, and particularly any views on yarn substitutions.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

For, lo! I have seen the Promised Land (but I forgot to take my camera)

This weekend I think I may have attained knitting Nirvana. Whatever the heck happened I certainly had a lot of fun and learnt some very useful new skills, although I should probably be severely punished for blogging without due care and attention because I very stupidly forgot to take my camera to record the event for posterity.

What have I been doing that was so brilliant?

Well,Axelle and I spent the weekend at Rowan in Holmfirth participating in a workshop called 'Creative Design' taken by Louisa Harding.

(Louisa Harding!....the Rowan mill!....SQUEE!! My lunch was served by Kim Hargreaves' sister!!!11!)

Now I've got that out of my system I'll show you what I produced at least, even though I don't have any "in-progress" shots. Luckily Axe did remember her camera so if you check out her blog later in the week you should be able to see what she did, and some of the stuff done by the other participants. There were some amazing things, I'm telling you.

Here's what I did (Excuse the after dark photo - usual disclaimers).

Workshop results

The idea of the workshop was to come up with a design for an original garment based on inspiration from a picture, postcard or other source materials. One of the participants (a lovely lady named Doreen) even brought along one of her bathroom tiles with her and used that as a basis for her design. Louisa told us that the process we were following is very similar to the one she uses when she is designing for Rowan, which made me feel all grown up and designer-y before we even started :)

The first step was to put together a mood board. This involved lots of tearing pictures out of Vogue and Elle Decoration, sorting & sifting, cutting them out and sticking them onto a piece of paper to create an idea of the type of look and feel you want the garment to have. Here's a better picture of what I came up with for stage 1:

Mood board

As you can see, it's got all kinds of pictures on it and also some small twists of yarn in colours and textures that reflect the pictures on the board.

Stage 2 was to write a brief, which is basically a series of bullet points stating what you want the garment to be. Mine said things like "fluid", "smart casual" and "luxurious but practical". Frankly at this point I was a bit sceptical that any kind of garment could emerge from this process but I was having too much fun cutting and sticking and choosing yarn to care.

The next stage then was supposed to be to draw out your garment ideas and come up with a sketch of your design, but I was itching to knit so I set off making a swatch with a subset of the yarns on my mood board. This was when it all suddenly began to come together for me and ideas started zinging around the place. I spent the rest of the afternoon knitting like a crazy person and came up with this:


The colour reproduction is a little bit bright but you get the idea. The slubby green colour is Jaeger luxury tweed, and the stripes are done in Kidsilk Haze, Kid Classic and Jaeger Matchmaker DK. The tree design was "borrowed" from one of the postcards on my board and backstitched on afterwards with 2 strands of Kidsilk Haze. Honesty means that I must also tell you that the embroidery was Louisa's idea, although the sewing is all my own work. I've also sewn some clear glass beads on at the end of the "tree branches", although I'm not sure that I'm going to keep them in the final design as they are a bit twinkly. The swatch is very airy with a good drape, and it's soft to the touch. Just what I was hoping for really, which was a bit of a surprise, but at least it was a pleasant one.

Day 2 of the workshop was spent finishing up swatches and turning them into written patterns for a final garment. A number of bad drawings and some crazy maths-skillz later and I have 90% of the pattern for a loose-ish fit jumper with a boat neck and bell sleeves primarily in the slubby green Jaegar tweed with these stripes around the sleeves and the bottom edge , and embroidered trees on the bottom edge stripes. All I have to do now is sketch out some of my curves on knitters graph paper and work out my decreases and increases. (And knit it of course, but let's not focus on that part for the moment).

I appear to have designed a jumper and written a pattern for it!


So now you see why it was so much fun. Louisa was lovely, Holmfirth was lovely and I got to spend the whole weekend playing with yarn with a group of equally yarn-crazed, highly talented ladies. Absolute bliss.

And what about all that Christmas knitting I'm supposed to be doing? Well I finished the Harvest socks on the train on the way back but I haven't kitchenered up the toes yet so you'll have to wait for proof that I have actually have a finished object. Instead I'll leave you with a picture of my next pair in progress, again knitted out of Apple Laine Apple Butter, but this time using a vine lace pattern.

Vine lace sock Posted by Hello

I'll post some more pictures later in the week, just as soon as I've worked out exactly who I'm going to give this pair to. Decisions, decisions :)

Friday, November 12, 2004


You know, one of the things that I like best about knitting is the whole "what goes around comes around" part of it. I love the way knitters exchange ideas and yarn in some kind of huge international swap-meet and use them to make creative original things. I present a recent example of what I'm talking about from my own experience.

Remember when I went off on a hunt for rug cotton and came home from John Lewis with three skeins of this?

Debbie Bliss Maya

You will remember that I didn't really know what I was going to do with it, but thought I might use it for Clapotis.

Well, I'm still going to make Clapotis, but I'm going to use some of Axelle's yarn to do it. The Atropos colourway in fact. How's a gal supposed to resist yarn that's named after her? So what to do with the Debbie Bliss?

Well, I went wandering round the internet for inspiration and came across a copy of her new book, which is almost entirely devoted to patterns for Maya yarn.

Ribby scarf

I didn't even need to look at the pictures inside - I just fell in love with the scarf on the front cover. (Yes, I have a scarf problem. And?) It's starting to get cold here and a lovely purple speckly ribbed scarf will be just the thing to keep my neck warm come December. But I'm not planning on buying the book just for that pattern because I've already knitted a ribbed scarf from Noro Kureyon 70, so I can use the pattern from that.

Kureyon 70 ribbed scarf

I gave this to my sister in law for her birthday at the end of the month and she loves it. But not as much as my nephew Theo, who keeps stroking it and going "Oooh" at all the different colours.

Inspired by this, my mother in law knitted Theo a hat from this Debbie Bliss pattern, but out of Kureyon 92.

DB hat

And where did she get the Kureyon? I had it left over from my Rosedale and had given it to her because she wanted to make a Booga Bag :)

Rosedale in Kureyon 92 Posted by Hello

So there we have it - three knitters interact and projects abound. None of them are exactly what they started out as, but they all have a bit of knittingdipity :)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

What date did you say it was again?

So, we had another lovely weekend in Norfolk painting the downstairs bathroom and planting bulbs in the garden. We got back early last night so I even got a full night's sleep for a change - so much so that when I got up for work this morning I felt like this:

All is calm, all is bright

And then I remembered what the date was, and I felt like this:

HOW long is it until Christmas? Posted by Hello

What is it that is upsetting me so? Well, in case you hadn't noticed, Christmas is coming and the yarn stash does not seem to have diminished any despite all my best intentions. In fact, it's just over 6 weeks to Christmas now, I believe, and what progress have I made against my knitted gift list? Not much, that's what. Ferreting around in my various knitting bags unearthed the following:

* 7/8ths of a baby blanket for new not yet born niece / nephew;

* A half felted bag for RLBF;

* One baby sock, half of a pair for nephew Theo; and

* 1.5 socks for dear friend Cat who once found a rugby player naked in our communal bathtub (if I haven't already told you this story, I wouldn't go there if I were you.)

What good is that? What I need is finished Christmas objects and I need them fast. So my needles will be flying faster than usual over the next few weeks and I see lots of socks in my future. I am resolved *nods* Don't know how long that's going to last, but for now my eyes are fixed on the prize of not having to give anyone expensive Christmas presents.

I dare you to pop back later and see how I do :)

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Run away! It's a finished object!

So, I was taken with a finishing fervour last night and decided to sew in all the ends on my version of Shimmer, which had been languishing in the bottom of my stash pile for longer than I care to think about. I finished the knitting back in August, but shhh - don't tell anyone. I can't believe it took me 2 months to get around to sewing her up, but I have to say I really, really hate large amounts of finishing. I know Montse Stanley encourages you to see it as part of the creative process, but frankly it's not doing it for me. I just find it a chore and will do almost anything to put it off, which makes yesterday's fervour even more miraculous.

Anyway, here are the fruits of my labours. The pattern for this garment is available over at http://knitty.com. I substituted Rowan Kid Classic in Lavender Ice for the recommended yarn, which has not only made the shrug very soft but has also removed any possibility of an actual shimmer from my wardrobe. That is a good thing as I'm not really a shimmery kind of gal. More of the floofy kind really. Perhaps I should rechristen my version Floofer :)

Anyway, here is a front view taken by Mr A, thus neatly obscuring the tapered sleeve edging which was one of the things that attracted me to this pattern in the first place. *sigh*

Shimmer, except not shimmery

And here is a back view to show you the diamond lace pattern on the shrug's back.

Shimmer back view Posted by Hello

This is my first lace pattern of any kind. I am rather pleased with it.

So what would I do differently were I to knit it again?

1. I would shorten the sleeves by about 3/4". The cuffs of this shrug are supposed to come down over your wrists, but I still think the sleeves are a little too long.

2, I would gather the initial ruffles at the bottom of each sleeve more tightly than they are now, so as to emphasise the outward flare of the cuffs.

The most difficult thing about this pattern was keeping the lace stitches straight whilst doing the raglan decreases. That called from some inginuity at times to make sure that I ended up with the right number of stitches in roughly the right places. It was made much easier by using a stitch marker every ten stitches and counting obsessionally at the ends of every row. And because I didn't have any stitchmarkers of the right size I ended up using paperclips, which seemed to work just as well. Another handy idea that I got from someone's blog. If you're reading this, thank you!

Well I had loads more I wanted to post about but I am falling asleep at my keyboard here so it'll have to wait. See you in the morning :)

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

OMG, its Scarfzilla!

So what have I been doing since I last blogged? Why, knitting of course. And I have mainly been knitting my Glenora throw, in what seems like a fairly single-minded obsessional manner. There's something about stripy things that always makes me want to carry on knitting just to the end of the next stripe. And the colour combinations in this thing are so nice they only tempt me to further feats of knitting endurance. And then its suddenly 3am and I have work the next day *sigh* But at least this approach gets results in terms of productivity. I just have the second set of swirls to do, and a couple of garter stictch edges down the long sides and then I'm done. Look - here's the evidence.

Glenora throw

I know that pic's not great in terms of artistic content, but I took it to emphasise one thing. This throw is HUGE. It already stretches from one end of my two-seater sofa to the other, and there's quite a bit more width too. It's just rolled under because the thing still needs to be blocked. Not bad, neh? I am the queen of stocking stitch - hear me roar!

So what other knitting news has there been since we last spoke? I have learnt the salutory lesson that when knitting socks it is best to make some notes so as any pattern alterations you make for the first sock get carried through to the second one. I just had to unravel a whole shortrow heel the other day because I made the leg part of second Harvest sock about 1cm shorter than its pair. Doh!

In other knitting-related thoughts, I think I will have enough of the Mission Falls left after Glenora to make a stripy jumper for my nephew, Theo. Can anyone recommend any good basic jumper knit patterns for a 2 year old?

Also, I'm not sure whether I have any readers who don't also read my dear friend Axelle's blog.. If there are any readers who fall into this category, I suggest that you wander over there right now and look at the lovely yarns she has to offer. I personally thing they are delicious, and I'm sure y'all will love them too.

Two more pics to close - firstly the contents of the great tomato mountain of Norfolk, and then the use to which I put said mountain:

Green tomato mountain.

Yay, chutney! Posted by Hello

I really can't wait to try this. I'll have to be patient though - It won't really be ready to eat until December.