Tuesday, 31 July 2007


Here are the results of my latest SEX. These are "Crystal Palace Yarns - Bamboozle": one pair being "Fruit Salad" and the other "Strawberries and Lime".

(BTW: It's supposed to be an 'arty' picture).

The BF's mum is allergic to wool but loves my socks and when I heard about this stuff (bamboo, cotton and elastic) I thought: "A-ha!" (In fact, Morten Harket was my second crush... Adam Ant being the first when I was five, but I'm digressing).

My work-buddy was around for dinner the other night and promised me the "best Christmas present in the world ever" if I could make her a pair of socks. Now, there's an offer I couldn't refuse. I had already bought some sock yarn with her in mind as a thank you for putting up with my moving-house-woes, but she told me that night that she is allergic to wool too.

I had thought she would prefer blue, as it's the colour she wears most often, but she asked for pinks, "preferably shocking pink". I think the "Strawberries and Lime" match the job-spec.

PS There was a question about how much wool is left over from a "Jitterbug" ball. Using the freebie "Opal" pattern, making socks for a size five foot (45 rows on the foot, rather than 48)... I find that I have a tiny ball left over. There's probably room for an extra ten rows (possibly more) on each foot.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Blog or Knit? Blog or Knit?

It's nearly 9.30pm on Sunday and the solar lamps are just beginning to light up in the garden. I was mulling over whether to knit another pattern section of "Bonita" or write a blog entry. You can see which option won.

I've been managing about one section a night - requiring absolute concentration - though it seems to be taking shape rather nicely. One problem I'm having is with the decreases... which take place at each end of rows which is a logical place and I've been 'compensating' on the following rows. For example, if you decrease a stitch and the next row would usually start with three stitches before 'diving' into the pattern, I've been knitting two stitches.

I thought this was logical.

Something has gone wrong. There six fewer stitches on the needles, than there should be, according to the pattern. I can't see what I have done wrong, and I'm a bad knitter - no attempt to be a perfectionist here! I'll just "fudge" in some stitches to make up the numbers in the increase section. Tinking this lot would take to long and if I frog, I might as well pull out the entire lot and start again. While "Damask" is a lovely yarn, it wouldn't be too forgiving of that treatment.

Meanwhile, the back of "Saranac" is taking shape rapidly. I got a good chunk of stealth knitting done over the weekend, being as I was visiting my Mam's and the BF didn't come. (The BF is lurking so no photograph yet). After knitting a 3ply tank top for Thomas, socks and the "Bonita" 'lacework', Aran yarn comes up trumps when it comes to a rapid knit-up.

For someone who hates sewing up, you would be forgiven for being surprised that I'm not following the instructions and knitting it in the round. (As mentioned in an earlier post, I don't like circular needles). However, the sleeves have to be knit into the body of the jumper, in the round. So, here's the plan for the "Saranac-Fudge"...

1. Knit the front and back to armhole level, place the two on holders.
2. Knit the sleeves on DPNs.
3. Knit the yoke and sleeves together, as the pattern instructs, in the round.

And... the prize for the most observant knitter goes to... anyone but me. I searched the pattern sheets for the instruction on how to knit a garter-rib. After several skim readings I still couldn't find it, until eighteen rows of ribbing (6k,2p) later there they suddenly materialised on the pages.


Those eighteen rows were not pulled back.

It's going well.

Above... the start of my "Rainforest - Peacocks".

PS "Rowan 42" is already out, and I've had a bit of a browse... I'm not too impressed. Having only been buying this since last Summer, I have found that I prefer the Summer editions. This season's offering is just a bit too '80s and "Heidi" for my liking.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Stitchy McYarnpants and the Ballad of BaggyPants and Luna

If you were ever wishing that Stitchy McYarnpants's wonderful Museum of Kitsch Stitches was a real location, rather than a virtual one... then wish no more. To see knitting patterns for outfits like these (squirrels not included),

then hurry along to 'Fuel', Wilmslow Road, Withington, Manchester. The ladies loo is decorated with 1960s and 1970s Patons and Robin patterns. It is fab!

And now, to the tale of Baggypants and Luna.

On one side of our house, lives Baggypants. He's so furry that he looks like he's wearing trousers. Climbing fences is challenging, as he's a little on the fuzzy side, but he has found a post that he shuffles up like a caterpillar. From there, he peruses his empire - a view of six gardens - until...

Luna spots him. She lives on the other side of our house and I strongly suspect that she doesn't like Baggypants. She's playful enough when climbing conservatories to look in the upstairs windows of the houses opposite, or battering bumblebees in the lavender. However, when she spots Baggypants, the hackles raise and the howling starts.

On Saturday, Baggypants was quietly sniffing around the planters in my garden, when Luna smelled him. She couldn't have seen him - she was on the other side of the fence. I know this because I spotted her face peering under the fence at him, before moving on, to find more suitable paw swiping positions.

This lasted a few minutes, before the howling started. Then Luna was at the top of the fence, with Baggypants scurrying as fast as his furry bum could move, under the fence. At this point, both cats' owners appeared and separated the two of them.

The saga continues.

Two Weeks of Knitting

So, while we spent two weeks settling in and relaxing, I've also been knitting... well, of course.

Put your shades on, because here are the completed "Mardis-Gras Jitterbugs" (below) and once they were finished, I needed some more lovely "Jitterbugs" and I'm half way through the second sock of a pair of "Florentinas".

I also completed a vest for the BF's nephew. This is a pattern from "Dale of Norway: Soft Treasures for Little Ones".

This was knitted in the round, until the armholes, where the piece was divided into the front and back to finish. Instead of using circular needles, I used some DPNs which I find much easier than fiddling with a wire between needles. Making this vest was also my first attempt at cables and I think they have worked out quite well.

The only negative in knitting this was the yarn itself. It's very soft but the yarn on the outside of the ball splits badly - it's only when you start knitting wool from inner layers that it starts to behave itself. Frogging wasn't great either.

It is very fine and sometimes, even knitting in lemon, it was difficult at times to see the pattern. I've promised to make a jumper, in the same pattern, in navy for Christmas... I may start sitting in the garden - even in the rain, just to make sure I have enough light.

My new project for myself is "Bonita" (Rowan 41) in "Rowan - Damask (Serpentine)" which is as gorgeous as the "Basalt" I used for "Tulip". (I have an 'orrible feeling I've misplaced a bag of "Damask - Mica" for another "Tulip". I'm sure it will turn up).

This is the first lacy-ish pattern I have attempted and I am really enjoying it. It requires complete concentration for me (stone-cold sobriety on the drinking scale of difficulty) just because I need to keep track of whether I'm on row 3 or 5. The pattern itself isn't that difficult at all.

Here is the first pattern set.

And... I have started this year's stealth project for the BF's Christmas present. This is the start of "Saranac" (Knitty archive) in "Rowan All Seasons Cotton - Mocha Choca".

The yarn is browner than it appears in this photograph.

It's a very simple pattern - a basic rib - with a zipped collar. However, I'm making a couple of ammendments to the pattern. The pattern is to be knit in the round, though I've already said what I think of circulars, and in this case, I couldn't find DPNs long enough. Therefore I'm knitting it as a seperate back and front. I hope this works. :-)

Hiding a project knit on DPNs would have been trickier too!

PS "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" was fantastic - a really fine ending to the series.

Long Time, No Blog

It has been nearly three weeks since I last posted, but as most of you know, I was moving house and... it all went very smoothly. The removal guys were fab and arrived on time, promptly geting out rugs and door protectors to protect our things (and the house) as they piled everything out of the house and into the truck, in the pouring rain.

We took refuge in any room they were not emptying.

The completion call came at 11.20am which was a tremendously welcome surprise. The chaps (with their quarter full truck) took their lunchbreak and agreed to meet us at the new house one hour later. After an hour's sunshine, the guys arrived, with another rain cloud.

We're really happy with the new house, and I was soon able to sample the reason for moving house in the first place...

Meanwhile... the BF was looking rather like this:

Not only was the broadband connection non-existant when we moved in (and has just been "installed") but the TV didn't work! The BF had to spend a whole weekend without TV and he found this... challenging.

(It turns out there is no power to the aerial - we have a makeshift solution for now).

PS Three days after moving in, I met one of the neighbours... after I reversed into his car. What a great way to introduce yourself.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Are you feeling lucky?

Ooooh, yeah!!!

What's this?

This is Alexandra Palace, London - aka Ally Pally... and it is famous for, being the scene of a fab "Doctor Who" episode featuring Maureen Lipman as the 'Wire'. (And a few other things, obviously!) However, it's also where the "Knitting and Stitching Show" takes place and I'm going there this year!!!

I won tickets, in a competition run by a very nice lady on the "Angel Yarns Knitting Forum", so I will be off there in October with the BF's Auntie Anne. She has been really excited about this since I mentioned it at Christmas when we were talking about knitting socks. This has made my week!!


One sock down, one to go... these "Jitterbugs" are knitting up very quickly - probably because I love this yarn. The colours are so vivid and rich and the BF has promised he won't handwash these. (It might be worth putting a handwash box next to the laundry basket).

The colourway is almost a simple rainbow pattern...

Here's a close-up of the sock - just because the stitches look so lovely, and I'm quite happy with the gusset. (Before I started making socks, I thought you only found gussets in your knickers).

Here's the finished first sock - no stalling as with the "Sombreros". I made good progress on the second sock this evening before popping around to my friend's house for dinner.

PS The removal van arrives on Friday morning at 9am. They think it will take a couple of hours to fill up the truck, but I don't think we have that much stuff. It's then the waiting game for bank transfers and keys - I do hope it all goes smoothly.

I'm now on leave - to pack, move and settle in - for just over two weeks. I'm very much looking forward to it. The plan was to go to Alton Towers next week, though with all of the rain we've been having, I'm not sure whether that is likely. Our intention of spending a couple of days in the Lake District may change too!

However, I will get some time to so some stealth-knitting on the BF's jumper for Christmas. He has to go into work for three days of training. That works out very well.

We'll hopefully have the connection up next week but it may be a short while before I post any more updates or do any blog reading. Hope everyone keeps well.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Lost and Found: The Sock Mojo

I started the "Fortissima - Sombrero" socks over a month ago, and something unusual happened... I lost all enthusiasm and couldn't finish them. There has been a love/hate relationship between these socks and I. When I actually picked them up and started knitting, I enjoyed making them but as soon as I put them down, I developed an acute dislike of the yarn.

This weekend I have been forced to finish them. I've packed away most of my yarn and patterns, in preparation for moving so decided that sock yarn was the way to go for the next few days. With this in mind, I also packed up my spare sets of DPNs so that I would have to finish the "Sombreros", before I treated myself to knitting up some lovely "Jitterbugs".

Perhaps it's time to branch out away from the old faithful that is the "Opal" freebie pattern, but not this week. I can make the socks without referring to the pattern now and that's very handy skill when I'm trying to pack the non-essentials up.

So, here are the much-maligned "Sombreros". I'm really pleased with them now that they are finished. :-)

Now that they are finished, I've already knit 20-odd rows of my "Jitterbug - Mardi-Gras" socks. Look at the colours of this gorgeous skein. As ever, the colours are incredibly vibrant and it's like knitting jewels to wear on your feet.

It has been a few months since I had to wind a skein into a ball. I'd forgotten how long this can take...unless the BF lends a hand, or more accurately two. He is such a star.