Friday, May 29, 2009

New project: Ishbel

Everybody and their aunts have been knitting Ishbel. I resisted for a long time, on the principle that I had just knitted Simple Yet Effective and didn’t need to buy another easy shawl pattern, did I? No, not really. And then I cracked. About the time that Roo put her Ishbel into her blog header, so lets blame her!

The HipKnits yarn is from the depths of the stash. In my memory it was dark steel grey with flashes of midnight blue... and it was cashmere. In reality, it is light silver birch with flashes of green and mushroom. And it is bfl sock. How did this happen? Is it the same skein?! In certain lights I enjoy the subtlety of the colour, but mostly it is a bit drab.
That, and the apparently endless stockinette, were not making this a very happy project... until I reached the lace! Much more fun - and it grows faster too! I save this project for the last hour of the evening when I just can’t knit another row of 2mm sock because my hand has assumed a claw-like position and aches like crazy – oops!

So while progress was slow at first, I am now speeding along. I don’t know what I am going to do with the finished object. I think I might give it to my aunt, who wears these colours all the time. I’ve missed her birthday but there’s always Christmas!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New project: Trilobite socks

As evidence that I do stick to the plan occasionally, here is the first Trilobite sock for my son. The yarn is Fyberspates Echo bfl in colourway “Woodland” and was one of the (washed!) skeins attacked by ravenous mice. There are probably three breaks in the skein and a few more “chewed” sections, but I am hoping the joins are going to fall on the leg rather than the foot, due to doing these “toe up”.

Once again, I am struck by the width of Wendy’s patterns. This time I went for “large”, which has a 9-inch unstretched width, on the recommended 2mm needles. My son has very broad feet.

It is knitting up to make a very cushy sole underfoot and the dye-ing is complementing the stitch pattern rather well on the upper foot. I love the colour! The top picture (taken at the weekend) shows the colour best. It shimmers like sunlight through the trees – gorgeous!

My son knows these are for him so will be made to try them on at all crucial points, to ensure they fit.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

This weekend

This weekend was spent in the garden. Digging, weeding, planting, sowing. Oh - and trying to get my car out!
In a moment of total spatial unawareness, I reversed my car over the kerb and into the herb garden. In my defence, it was because FL's car was in front of the house and confused me. (No, he wasn't convinced either!) It took my son, a spade, a spare paving slab and the jack to get me out, as I managed to land on a boulder and got completely stuck. I am lucky I didn't puncture the petrol tank. Sigh.
Other than that, I have been reading lots of Tove Jannson (Summer Book, Winter Book and Fair Play. And the latest issue of The Knitter (which is dreadful IMHO.) And Sheila Hancock's autobiography.
And knitting too! New projects: socks and a shawl - I will show you later in the week when my camera battery is charged.
FL's back is causing him a lot of trouble. His latest remedy is Tiger Balm. When will he give in and take painkillers?!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

FO: Kai-Mei

I finished the Kai-Mei socks on Wednesday night. They are a big success!

I love the stripes, the stitch pattern and the density of the stocking stitch sections. It was a quick knit with added interest round about the point where you might start to get bored of endless ribbing. Once I understood what was going on, the diagonal shift of the pattern came easily. The pattern set up was perfect for a size 4 or 5-ish UK woman’s foot as the ribbing ran out at the end of the seventh butterfly. I don’t know what would have happened with a longer foot though…


Kai-Mei by Cookie A from “Sock Innovation”. Check the online errata before embarking!

Yarn: Goth Socks in “half broken-hearted”, month two of the Dead Poets Club. Whatever your eyes may tell you, (blame the stupid flash!) this is a solid black stripe set against bruised pinks and purples in an even 4-5 row repeat. A gorgeous firm spun yarn – yum!

Needles: 2.25mm dpns.

Would I knit this pattern again? You bet! These are for my daughter, and I want some too!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fitness - or not!

I think FL is OK (see yesterday's post if you don't know what I am talking about!).

He is managing to get in and out of his chair, to drive and to do the washing-up: what more could I ask!?!

But golf is definitely off the menu for a while. The pile of Ancient History tomes on the kitchen table is growing, so he must have managed to get upstairs to the boxroom to retrieve them. The fridge is under a great deal of strain this week as my son is also at home on "study leave" for his Highers. They can look after each other!

Breathe again, Roobeedoo, it's going to be OK.

Meantime, I am trying to get fit. Don't laugh, but I have bought a couple of dance fitness dvds: Clubland Workout and Dancefloor Workout Vol. One. My daughter's lip curled as she hissed "Beats!", because apparently Clubland is a by-word for nnst-nnst-nnst music and is the sign of a "Ned". Are you following me?! Well, whatever else, it is extremely energetic and involves a great deal of silver bra-fringe-tossing. My daughter informs me that this movement is called a "jazz pop" and I am rubbish at it. Sigh. The Dancefloor dvd starts off with a very user-friendly warm-up and then it's full-on fleet-footed choreography. However, it is very repetitive and I think I had the moves worked out by the end of the first 20-minute session. You can work your way up to an hour...! But I am not put off. It was fun and I felt like I had done some exercise, without needing crutches the next day.

Maybe FL would like to join in...?!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Stash Cookies

Having two exciting new sock books in the house has made me see the stash with fresh eyes. It had started to feel like a burden of unknitted mouse-bait! But I sat down with Cookie A (the book, not the girl!) and made a list.

Left to right:

Wanida – Malabrigo in "Eggplant"
Sam – Fyberspates Echo in “Moonlight”
Angee – Yarn Yard Bonny in“Trente-et-Un”
Devon – Fleece Artist Merino in “Cosmic Dawn”

And then after that there's:

Vilai – Bearfoot in “Wild Raspberry”
Rick – Fyberspates Echo in “Mixed Brights”
Cauchy – Curious Yarns in “Neptune”
Kai-Mei – Wollmeise in “Poison Nr. 5” (because it has to be done!)
Kai-Mei – Fyberspates Bamboo in “Violet and Lime” (another pair of Kai Mei? Really?!)

And that's not to say I am ignoring my Wendy book - I still plan to knit Trilobites for my son.

But right now, it's all about the Cookie Monster!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

First Kai-Mei

These will be for my daughter, partly to make up for the two failed attempts at red and black Gothic yarns Poppy socks.

Kai-Mei is probably my favourite sock knit to date: there's plenty of simple ribbing to speed you along, and then the interest of that lacey diagonal section crossing the foot.

I'm not sure they will stand up to much wear and tear but the first one looks great!

I am now on sock two, just reaching the heel flap.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New Project: Kai-Mei

In the running for “fastest sock I ever knitted” is Kai-Mei from the new Cookie A book!

The yarn (Goth Socks in “half broken hearted”) arrived on Thursday and by Saturday evening I was turning the heel… despite spending most of the day shopping/ cleaning / weeding! Most of this was knitted while watching “Hamlet”. Sunday was another day of gardening (the Endless Weed Garden, formerly known as my herb garden- grrr!) but I managed to settle down in the evening to the excitement of the diagonal shaping and that lace pattern.

The lace freaked me out at first – you want me to DROP MY YARNOVERS?! - but I soon got the hang of it, and I loved watching those butterfly-shapes appear out of the loops – woo hoo! I have been unusually confident about using a self-striping yarn for a pattern that screams “semi-solid” to any sensible knitter. My reasoning was that Jeannie Fanihi got away with it (as seen on Ravelry) and that this colourway was reminiscent of Wollmeise Poison Nr. 5 which another Ravelry knitter used for this pattern with stunning results. As my daughter pointed out, I too could have used Poison Nr. 5, as this is the very colourway I have squirreled away for a very special occasion. But I wasn’t about to break out the Wollmeise until I was certain I knew what I was doing. Maybe now…!

Monday, May 11, 2009

FO: Dead Simple Man-Lace Socks

Last week was all about finishing FL’s birthday socks, and I am pleased to say they are done, with plenty of time to spare.

The yarn is “Goth Socks”, colourway “Night”, from the Dead Poets Club series. I would definitely recommend this yarn. It is a familiar firm base – rather like Claudia Handpaint or Cherry Tree Hill - and the dye-job is great. It is a really “good” black and the striping is even and crisp. The dark blue / purple sections are gorgeous, with little stars of white here and there. There is plenty of yardage. These are long, wide socks, and I still had a golfball-sized portion leftover.

I used the “Dead Simple Lace” pattern from Wendy’s new book, but upped the needle size from 2mm to 2.5mm because this yarn seemed too thick for Size 0’s. I appear to have “got gauge” but I felt like I was knitting Big Socks from the start as they are 8 ½ inches wide unstretched for a size “medium”. Wendy’s patterns tend to have a wide wedge toe, which is great for men’s socks but I am less sure for myself or my daughter.

I found it hard to judge when to start the heel shaping. This is only my second pair of toe-up socks and I was trying to measure them against finished top-down socks. I ended up making cardboard sock-blockers using a pair of my son’s handknitted socks as a template, and trying the sock on there. The sock foot has turned out longer than the blocker… but maybe FL has bigger feet than my son? Oh dear. So there is still an element of doubt about the fit. And they look blinking weird on those blockers!

Would I knit this pattern again? Almost certainly, because it flatters a self-striping yarn and kept me interested. But I would use a thinner yarn and smaller needles for a woman’s sock.

I think what I have learned most from this project is that I need to get some properly-sized sock blockers if I am going to knit toe-up socks without trying them on the recipient’s foot as I go. I am thinking of getting some funky recycled plastic ones from Finland called “Succaplokki”. Isn’t that a great word?! The Etsy seller also makes cool hand-shaped needle-gauges which I have my eye on!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Unanimous verdict

So - I had better book that house then?!

Thank you so much for all those votes of confidence to just "go for it"! Now I just have to persuade my son he wants to spend a week away from his mates with Grandma, FL, his sister and I! But the house I have found has such a wow factor that even he should be impressed. No wireless internet connection though....!

Today we watched "Hamlet" for my son's Higher English revision (the exam is next Friday - eek!). FL came in halfway and astonished us with the fact that part of the film was shot in his former wife's cousin's back garden! Ophelia drowned herself by their willow tree. Well, who knew?! And sure enough - the credits thanked the good people of Stonehaven!

I knitted - more on that soon! See that yarn? It has been wound and a quarter of a sock knitted already! It is month two of my Goth Socks club subscription, complete with a poem by Byron which got me between the eyes. The yarn colour is "half broken hearted" and is gorgeous.

And I devoured "The Summer Book" by Tove Jansson. Have you read it? If not, buy it now! I think I read about it on the Cornflower blog last year. Poor FL has had to put up with hoots of laughter and copious reading-out-loud. I stayed up til midnight last night reading it. I got up early this morning to finish it. I had what A.S. Byatt terms a "narrative craving"! The characters of the grandmother and the child are just so vividly portrayed. The stories are so memorable, the place so real.
So all in all, a literary feast this weekend!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Cookie 15, Arsenal Nil

Picture the scene: FL and I are sitting on the sofa. I am knitting, he is watching Man Utd v. Arsenal (football match) on the TV, with the sound turned off so as not to disturb everyone else.

FL: Cheese-oh!"

long pause

FL: Oh! Oh wow! That's incredible! Cheese-oh!

Me: (not really listening) Mmmm hmm?
FL: Will you look at that? Have you ever seen anything like it?

(I look at the TV. Nothing of note seems to be happening. If I am not mistaken, it is possibly even half-time.)
Me: What am I looking at?

FL: This! This sock! (Stabbing the book on his lap with his finger) Have you ever seen anything like it? I mean how did she think of that? What kind of mind comes up with something like that? Cheese-oh!
(Flicks a few pages)
I mean, look at this one - it's practically a sculpture!

(I look hard. OMG. FL is reading the new Cookie A book "Sock Innovation"!)

Me: Where did that come from?

FL: Mmm? Oh, it came in the post for you today and I've never seen anything like it!
(Turns a few more pages)
Are you telling me you can knit that? (Points at Bex)

Me: (cautiously) Um... possibly...?
FL: (chuckling) Oh don't worry, I wasn't meaning you should knit it for me! But I like this one! (He points at Rick)

(Shout from stage left, my daughter on the chair): Goal!!!!

FL: (startled) Eh?!

Daughter: They scored. You missed it. You missed a goal because you were reading a sock book!
Me: Heh heh heh!

FL: Cheese-oh!

Monday, May 04, 2009

FO: Cup Half-Full Apron

I am really bringing the kitsch into my kitchen now!
This weekend was dedicated to the Cup Half-Full Apron from Anna Maria Horner's book "Seams To Me".
It could have been a quick and easy project, but I chose to spice things up a bit with another "Sublime Stitching" embroidery on the pocket.
This was one of my favourite designs from the Sublime Stitching Craft Pad, so when I spotted the bird print fabric, I knew I had to combine them somehow.

Stats: Half a metre of Alexander Henry "Bird Seed" fabric, from Nerybeth; some watermelon gingham and linen I bought years ago to make clothes for my daughter - the same one who will only wear black now!
The pockets are lined in gingham, which you can't see but I know is there!
Green bias binding round the edge.

Verdict? Well, I love it! A totally unnecessary item which will cheer me up every time I wear it, and that has to count for something!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

This weekend

Much progress on the Dead Simple Lace socks for FL's birthday. I finished sock one during the week and have turned the heel on the second - hopefully this Bank Holiday weekend will allow me the time to finish the pair.
That short-row heel is not my favourite - I can never see the "wraps" and get confused about when to pick up and turn. However, they appear to be sock-shaped and I like the way the striping worked out.
My next "Dead Poets Club" yarn is on its way so I need to get these finished soon!
Remember the wool the mice nibbled? Well, I decided it was time to wash it and see what could be done with it. I am hoping to knit my son a pair of Wendy's "Trilobite" socks. That sludgey green and their infestation history seem well-matched to a bug pattern!
I am also sewing but have over-complicated things as usual....!