Friday, 30 March 2007

Blue Tops Week

Remember this?

Well, it was my Mam's birthday yesterday and I am finally going to give her the the wrapover I made for her birthday. I saw her the weekend before Mother's Day and it was so tempting to give it to her then.

The BF persuaded me to leave it until her birthday, along with a bottle or raspberry liquer (is that how you spell it? she wonders) and a box of chocs from my bellydancing weekend in Jersey.

Hope she likes it.

...and here's the progress so far on "Tulip". I finished one of the front's last night and started the other, which really isn't bad progress for a week, especially when I've also been touching up the grout in the bathroom and planting flowers in the garden to make the house look nice for selling.

In a fit of enthusiasm, I almost blocked the back...before finishing the fronts, which need to be sized up against the back for the measurements.

That would not have been clever.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

More on "Tulip"

Wrap-over tops are becoming a new favourite. This is where I'm up to on the left front.

I was up over an hour earlier than I needed to be this morning so I knitted up a good chunk whilst sitting in the sunshine. This isn't the greatest shot - I just wanted to show how sunny it was. (There's a blue-tit watching me through the bedroom window, now).

There is a mistake on this pattern - where it tells you to decrease...and increase on the same row at the same end as you're decreasing, at the same time. I've just ignored that and increased at the opposite end of the row: i.e. not on the slope. So, I don't think it's a major problem. The decreases are at pretty much the same 'rate' (every row for x number and then on alternative rows for x number) as on the "Twilleys Freedom Spirit" wrap I made.

One of the ladies on the Angel Yarns knitting forum was talking about a sizing problem yesterday which concerned me a little. I had sized up the back as I was making it, against myself and other tops to make sure it was ok. After reading her comments, I had another check and I think it's fine. Blocking can always help.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Fast Knitting

"Tulip" is knitting up at a fair old rate of knots *grimaces at the pun*. I finished the back last night and started one of the front pieces, getting as far as doing the trim I'm such a fan of.

As there are no sleeves, this is going to be finished in no time at all. Yes, there are the trims to add to the "neck" line and the armholes, but knitting those up will be a doddle. They then have to be knitted to the garment, which should be interesting, for me, at any rate. I'm well used to sewing finished collars and trims on, but knitting them on is a new one for me.

I'm really pleased with the progress as the BF and I spent the weekend getting the house ready to sell. The floorboards upstairs had been a problem - various DIY/cowboy builders in the past had patched up various parts of the floor, leaving some of the boards needing to be replaced. So, the BF was hard at work with that when he hammered a nail through a water pipe...

Fortunately, it was the pipe from the boiler and as the heating wasn't on, there wasn't much water to come out. In addition, as it's that horrible push-fit stuff (that's also under our kitchen sink and pushes itself OUT when the tap runs too fast!) we were able to fix it after a very quick trip to B&Q.

So, the floorboards are fixed. I emptied two carloads of stuff to charity shops. (Not so long ago my entire belongings would have taken just two carloads). All that's left is a bit of painting, some new carpets and the pointing on the house. Then we can put the house on the market and get a new place... somewhere with lots of stash storage. :-)

Friday, 23 March 2007

After I got bored with the hat...

I decided I was going to treat myself and this is stash reduction - knitting a top for myself uses up more wool than a sock. So here's the first of what I hope will be a number of nice new tops for yours truly. It's "Tulip" (Rowan 41) in the lovely, lovely "Rowan Damask - Basalt". It's so soft and silky. Not really squeezable on the ball as there's a tube of card in the middle, but the reward is in the knitting up.

Above, is the start of the back. After six rows of stocking stitch, it asks you (for the next row) to knit six, then rotate the left needle at 360 degrees. Not being the brightest bunny on the block it took me some time to work this out... did 'rotate' mean to do something weird and cable-like with the stitch?

So I had a look at the picture and noticed the lovely trim on "Tulip". Rotating the needle creates a simple but effective ruffle effect. I was delighted and waxed lyrical to the BF about the joys of knitting - how such a simple technique can result in a really impressive (to me at any rate) finish.

He got bored and went to play computer games.

I continued knitting, whilst watching "Men in Black 2", again... and this (above) is where I got to after two hours. I love the way the colours merge and blend, and that there's some purple mixed in with the blues - simple things... I think this will knit up quite fast - not only because I'm looking forward to having a new top.

Sock Yarn Shopping

Because I really need more sock yarn, I bought some more from the Angel Yarns sale. The justification is... well, who needs a justification?

This is one ball of "Trekking Sock Yarn" in varying shades of purple because I have neither purple socks, nor "Trekking" socks. There are two balls of "Trendsetter Stripe" - "Fireball" and "Fall Leaves". I don't have any "Trendsetter" socks either.

So, there's the future justifications sorted. If it's a yarn I don't have or have never tried, I can and shall buy it.

I'm now hoping that I can get a pair of socks out of each ball of "Trendsetter" or that would be some seriously expensive socks. I have ordered a pattern. The answer will be revealed as soon as the postie delivers it.

Stash Busting Progress

So, I finally finished off the ball of "Opal - Magic Sugar Almond" with these baby booties. I think they're quite cute but I'm just relieved to have used up the yarn, which by this point, I had gone right off.

One ball down... several more to go.

And, above is the start of a hat in what was left of the "Opal - Rainforest Flamingo". Then I got bored, so I stopped.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Knitting up the left overs

Last Christmas, my Mam got three pairs of socks from me... start of the craze...and there was a substantial amount of wool left over. It has been sitting there, waiting for me to do something with it.

Well, now I have. Using the left over "Opal - Sugar Almond" (yellow) I've made a pair of gloves for a small child, and there's certainly enough yarn left over from just that ball to make some baby socks.

The blue hats came from some yarn left over for a jacket I made for my baby nephew. (I'm ever so chuffed with the pom-poms). These are for a charity based in Manchester called the Wood Street Mission ( which aims to help out families who are having a tough time financially. They have collections throughout the year and at particular times for celebrations (at the minute it's Easter Eggs - deadline March 22nd). I'm going to aim to knit up my leftover yarn by Christmas.

(That in no way suggests I won't be knitting up "Tulip" or any of the other lovely things I plan to make this year).

Friday, 16 March 2007

And I cast on...

Nothing last night. I finished my lovely "Opal Hundertwasser" ankle socks...

...which I'm now wearing. Then I did no other knitting... because I was teaching Vaughn (who came back to the knitting group) how to purl. He has garter stitch sorted, and I'm pretty certain that he now has purling under control - which really comes as a two-for-one option, to Vaughn's surprise, because he can now do stocking-stitch.

Next time, we're ribbing.

And below are some squares I made for Claire (who set up the knitting group), as she has asked us all to knit a couple for Water Aid - "Knit a River" campaign ( The intention is to lobby governments - using the finished river - on the issue of access to safe drinking water.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Casting on?

I'll have finished a pair of "Opal-Hundertwasser" socks tonight, narrowly avoiding Second Sock Syndrome, but I'm wondering what to cast on next. Once these are finished I'll be down to one WIP (the malingering "Deep" or is it "Wave"?) which I do intend to finish this year...

So, I am intending to do "Branching Out" with the lovely laceweight Springtime Santa sent me, but I was planning on starting that at the weekend, rather than at knitting group tonight...

Or I could cast on another sock in the fab "Opal - Rainforest (Blue Frog). Again THANK YOU, Santa. But, I'm not sure if I'm in a sock mood. (EEEK!)

I'm also gradually using up the bits of sock yarn left over for baby hats and socks...but I think I want to start another project.

I really, really, really want to start "Tulip" (Rowan 41). I have the pattern. I have the yarn - gorgeous, gorgeous "Damask" and one of the ladies in "Ring A Rosie" showed me a knitted up piece. It's so soft and lovely and the colourway is gorgeous... and some Spring/Summer tops would be really stash being mostly, it could be justified, couldn't it?

You know what I'll be casting on don't you? :-)

Wednesday, 14 March 2007


As I was walking into work this morning, looking at all the daffodils that have sprung up in the park and gardens, I started thinking about how quickly this year has been passing. I then had a conversation with a friend about books, so I thought I'd give you a brief review of the books I've been reading since New Year.

(These are in order of reading rather than preference).

1. "American Gods" - Neil Gaiman

It sounded like a great idea - a story that would be right up my street... as people emigrated to the New World, they took their beliefs and their gods with them. As time passed, they adopted new gods - television and shopping - and forgot their old beliefs. So what happens to the Eastern European, African, Scandinavian, Far Eastern and Celtic gods when they're forgotten about?

Unfortunately, I didn't like the style of writing which I was very disappointed by because I loved "Good Omens" (Agnes Nutter's prophecies about the world ending one Saturday teatime) which he wrote with Terry Pratchett.

2. "A Feast For Crows" - George RR Martin

I love George RR Martin's books - especially the "Wild Cards" series - and this is the fifth in an 'epic saga' of dragons and battles for kingdoms. The story has sprawled so much that this novel is actually volume one of a two parter - so many characters that he divided the story. It works and this one ends with several harsh cliffhangers - I'm actually concerned about the characters I don't like.

However, I'm a bit miffed that volume two still isn't in the shops yet.

3. "The Kraken Wakes" - John Wyndham

What can I say? I adore John Wyndham's books. I'm a bit of a sci-fi buff. This is one of his best - intriguing story, vividly portrayed. (See also: "The Chrysalids" and "The Midwich Cuckoos" and "Trouble with Lichen", in fact, just read them all... though "Lichen's" ending is a bit irritating). One of the most amusing incidents in the book is where government scientists are considering the possibility that aliens from Jupiter may be visiting the Earth: "Well, we can assume that they have technology similar to ours."

Similar? Visitors from Jupiter - yes, that's people from planet Jupiter, not Jupiter, Tyne and Wear... and our technology is similar?

4. "Consider Her Ways" - John Wyndham

This is a collection of short stories - all of them brilliant. In many ways, I think Wyndham was ahead of his time, with his opinions on society, politics, media and feminism. "Oh where now is Peggy McRafferty?" explores an Irish girl's attempts to become a film star... with some twisted results.

5. "The Children of Men" - PD James

I read this some years ago and I still haven't seen the film with Clive Owen. There's a bleak future ahead according to PD James but while her description of a possible British society sends shivers up and down your spine, some of her placings don't feel right. The childhood of the main character who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s feels more akin to my Mam's childhood than mine.

6. "Cell" - Stephen King

What a fun novel - there's a virus spreading through mobile phones turning everyone into zombies. I always knew the damn things should be avoided! It's not as detailed as "The Stand" but it's a brilliant 'end of the world' type novel. One sentence I had a problem with is where he described a man kitting out with guns as being excited as a young Muslim suicide bomber. Is there any need for such reactionary statements?

(And no, I haven't been feeling particularly down whilst reading these 'end of the world' prophecies).

7. "A Modern Utopia" - HG Wells

This is more of a philosophical discussion about how a world Utopia would work than a novel. It was certainly interesting though HG Wells had some scary ideas about eugenics and 'undesirables'. The most interesting sections are where he focuses on society and people, but these are also the shortest sections.

8. "All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses An Eye" - Christopher Brookmyre

I love Christopher Brookmyre. His books are brilliant - usually a mixture of politics, satire, interesting violence (e.g. "it was raining liquidised mercenary") and rantings about people who play their music too loudly and park their SUVs on double yellow lines, leaving their engines running.

This one is one of his best. His main character has never so much has had a parking ticket in her life, until the situation changes... Other fantastic titles are: "A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away", "One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night", "Quite Ugly One Morning", "Country of the Blind" and "Be My Enemy"... which he wanted to call "Fuck this for a Game of Soldiers".

9. "Havoc, in it's Third Year" - Ronan Bennett

Set in the 17th Century, just before the English Civil War, this is about a secretly Catholic coroner investigating the murder of a baby, by its Irish mother. Ronan Bennett doesn't seem to go in too much for a lot of detail, but the paranoia and hysteria he describes makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

10. "Until I Find You" - John Irving

This is the first John Irving book I've read for a while, having gone through a phase of reading every one I could get my grubby little mitts on and then being disappointed by "The Water Method Man" (vile main character) and "Son of the Circus" (disjointed).

His books are always a little weird ("The World According to Garp" and "The Fourth Hand") with characters with mother fixations ("A Widow for One Year" and "A Prayer for Owen Meany") and very small characters ("Hotel New Hampshire") but I love all of these and "The Cider House Rules".

"A Prayer for Owen Meany" broke my heart. I was reading the ending on a flight from Amsterdam and because I was surrounded by people, I couldn't cry...but it's all so dramatic I had to finish it. That evening I read it again, so I could have a damn good blub.

So, those are the stories so far... plus a few others for good measure.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Completed Pressies

Here are the finished gloves and socks ("Opal Petticoat"). This is actually 'hot of the press' as I finished the second sock ten minutes ago.

Will Power

Will power is something I have in abundance at present, as in "I will go shopping". Every time I post on the subject of reducing my stash, how I'm going to do it, what I'm thinking of knitting, it's inevitable that I will end up buying more yarn. Even after the words of encouragement, there's always that bargain. Even Aileen at "Wool" encouraged me - and selling wool is her business.

I always thought that a public declaration of intent would make me stick to my resolution. :-) I thought this might embarrass myself into keeping my word. Nope, it's more of a 'red rag to a bull'.

I was visiting my Mam this weekend and we headed out to check a few of the LYS in the area. First stop... "Kemps" in Sunderland. They mainly stock "Sirdar" and "Patons" but they also have "Twilley's Freedom Spirit" at £2.19 a ball... Well what else could I do? I bought enough to make another Wrapover cardi for me! (In "Fire").

Then we headed over to Whitley Bay and "Ring a Rosie" which is a lovely shop stocking "Rowan", "Noro", "Debbie Bliss", "Louisa Harding" and "Sirdar". My Mam bought some "DB Cathay" in a gorgeous green to knit "Georgia" ("DB Summer Essentials") and some gorgeous "Sirdar DK Cotton" in turquoise (her favourite colour) for a lacy cardi.

Was I good? Was I hell as like... "Rowan - Damask (Basalt)" which is a lovely deep blue with hints of violet to make "Tulip" (Rowan 41).

I give up. We can consider Resolutions 1 and 2 soundly trashed, whereas 3,4 and 5... I've actually done. :-)

The BF laughed heartily when he saw the new goodies. Apparently, he was laughing at me rather than with me. Joy of my heart, he is.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

I'd rather be knitting

I've spent all afternoon working on an ethics approval form for a piece of research I want to do. Form filling is not the greatest way to spend an afternoon and ethics forms... Well, my friend Paul describes completing them as "having someone stand behind you flicking your ears, for three hours".

I have given up for the day now. It's for the best. I have completed the main section (which is vast) and that's not bad going. Then I reached the supplemental form... it wants me to repeat everything I have just typed.

The damn thing is meant to be a marvel of electronic wonder - removing sections that become unnecessary depending on your answers; and allegedly copying information from the main document to the supplementary section. Well, it doesn't do that completely.

You know, there are people who spend their lives developing these things. Are they sadists? I hate form-filling. They're either voluminous monstrosities that want your life in tedious detail or so superficial that you wonder what the point of bothering with them actually is.

It's too early to go home and knit.

On a happy note, the Spring edition of "Knitty" is out! Hurrah! Teabreak, I think.

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Rowan 41 and DB Summer Essentials

My Mam has put me on a mission to track down some "DB Cashmerino Chunky - Robin's Egg". She has spotted a cabled cardi she wants to make... for herself! (So far, I have a fab red cardi trimmed in"New Fizz" and she has made a green one for my Auntie - all bar the zip, which she also sent me hunting for).

This gave me a valid reason to go to my favourite LYS - "Wool" in Stockport. It makes a change from tenuous excuses. :-) However, I've also bought for myself: "Rowan 41" and "DB Summer Essentials". Yes, this does increase the likelihood of me buying more yarn.

(I had to really fight temptation when I saw a whole basketful of "Colinette Jitterbug". At the rate I'm buying it, I'll turn sock knitting into a chore rather than fun).

However, I'm using the purchase of these books to encourage myself to knit up my stash. Then I can have a lovely time buying stuff for knitting the gorgeous patterns out of these books. I must say that I think "Rowan 41" is an improvement on "Rowan 40". Yes, there were a few nice things in that edition, but the Summer magazine has LOTS of lovely things. "DB Summer Essentials" has some lovely tops to knit in "DB Cathay" which I just love; and a rather nice silk top that wouldn't come in toooo pricey.

So, with a cup of tea and a few other books that Aileen gave me to browse through while I was there, I had a lovely time.

Gloves - with a picture

Finally, here is a picture of the finished gloves, which I think are rather funky.

I used 39g of a 100g ball for medium-sized adult hand gloves. So, I reckon there's enough left for another pair in that size and a small- sized children hands. Alternatively, I could have a very nice pair of socks.

Speaking of which, I'm onto shaping the heel of the first sock of a pair ("Opal - Petticoat") as the other half of my Auntie's birthday present.

PS What do you think of my new avatar? Does it make the site too slow to load up/use? Is it irritating?

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Easy-Peasy Gloves

I've finished the gloves. (I will try to post a picture tomorrow - the camera's batteries need to be recharged). They were incredibly easy. Yes, they are a bit fiddly - knitting 16 stitches in the round tends to be - but they were very satisfying to make.

I also take back anything I said previously about probably preferring gloves in a charcoal effect colourway or plain. The "Opal - Feelings" yarn produces lovely stripes. You could cut the yarn to make the fingers all one colour but I like the mismatch effect of some of the fingers being one colour and others two.

I think my auntie will be pleased.

There's also a lot of wool left over. I wouldn't be at all surprised if you can get three pairs of medium-adult sized gloves out of it...more if you knit child sized gloves. I'm going to weigh the finished gloves and the unused wool to get a rough estimate.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Postie Goodness

Actually, the postie is a big meany. I had to come home on Wednesday morning (a friend had left his wallet in my car and I don't drive to work) and found a card, saying that I had not one, but two parcels to pick up at the sorting office. Wonderful! However, I couldn't collect them until Thursday morning - mini-huff ensued.

I've been taking part in the 'Springtime Secret Santa' which has been a lot of fun - electronically 'stalking' the person I had to buy for through the forum posts to find out what she would really like. Naturally, I've been looking forward to receiving mine... and here's what I got:

This rather fabulous jute bag which has got lots of room for all of these:

That's two 'Clover' crochet needles and needle case (in a tapestry cover); some beautiful laceweight cotton in a shimmery green colour and... some "Opal Rainforest - Frog".

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

(I can hear the orchestra even if you can't).

These were all beautifully wrapped and I toyed with the idea of not opening them until I got home so that I could take some pictures to show you. That thought lasted all of, oh about 30 seconds because I am a brat and demand instant gratification. So, I caught the train to work and opened them in the waiting room of Stockport Railway Station.

And another parcel arrived too! I must block my access to Ebay. These are (mutters) some more sock yarn... "Opal Rainforest - Doctor Fish" and "Zebra".

I am really happy with the "Zebra" but "Doctor Fish" is much pinker than it looks in pictures. I expected a more lilacy colour. Oh, well. My Mam might be getting these. She likes pink.

PS Apologies for the posting delay - further blogger problems.

Friday, 2 March 2007

Gloves - surprisingly easy.

I cast on the first glove on Tuesday morning. After seven rows, the ribbing wasn't looking right so I finally decided to count the stitches. Odd number! "Bugg'rit" in the words of Foul Ole Ron. Naturally some frogging ensued, though the seed stitch effect wasn't too bad.

The glove was cast on, again, on Tuesday night and here's what it looked like at the end of last night's knitting group.

Glove knitting could be a new addiction. The pattern is nice and simple and it's a really logical progression. While 'Knitty' taks about 'tangy', 'piquant' and 'extra-spicy' levels of ease, I would put glove making at 'One glass of wine' especially if you have made a couple of pairs of socks.


Stay sober - very tricky and fiddly pieces, or as Knitty puts it: "These babies have teeth!"
Have a shandy - difficult, but really not that much of a problem.
Glass of wine - very easy, but keep an eye on the detail.
Bottle of wine - an absolute doddle.

PS. I had to apologise to a lady at last night's group. She first came to group about six weeks ago when she saw me making a pair of socks... I did warn her.

It's catching I tell you.

Last night she was making the most beautiful pair of "Colinette Jitterbugs" for herself - having made four pairs recently: three swiped by her husband and the last pair by her grandson who calls them his 'shocks'. :-)

The seldom seen male knitter

I've heard that men knit and I even chatted to one or two online through the knitting forums. The BF's uncle used to do French knitting many years ago, but I'd never actually seen a male knitter until last night.

Vaughn arrived at the knitting group ('Borders', Stockport) last night with a fantastic "Dr Who" scarf in progress. He's learning to knit and he certainly has garter stitch sewn up (*cringes at the semi-pun*). And, he wants to learn how to make socks! We nearly have another addict. So, our group is going to teach him to purl, cast on, cast off and the other techniques he'll need for sock-knitting.

I still haven't seen a bloke knit, as Vaughn was more interested in chatting about what he would like to learn, but I'm confident that I will soon.