Monday, June 29, 2009

Metropole in a sidewind: first quarter

My first issue is a stupid one: I only have one small circular needle and it is 2.75mm and is probably giving me too loose a gauge. This matters on the leg and I suspect I am going to be making slouchy socks. However, my daughter is a dancer and might like the legwarmer look...?
This is a quarter of a sock. You are looking at it side-on with the foot along the bottom, the heel turn and the lacey leg.

This is half a heel. The toe shaping comes in the next installment.
And here is the leg. Note how open the lace is - you wouldn't know there were "yarn overs" in Stephanie's version in the book! But I assure you they are meant to be there. That's why I have a sinking feeling about my gauge!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

New Project: Metropole in a Sidewind

(Image from "Socken Aus Aller Welt" by Stephanie Van Der Linden)

I am still knitting the Trilobite socks, (I am on sock two) but the urge to start something from my Stephanie Van Der Linden book was too strong to resist!

I love the look of “Metropole der Mode”, but almost everyone on Ravelry who knitted it has had problems with fit. So I decided to use the basic formula from the Sidewinder sock pattern and “plug in” the stitch pattern from Metropole. People seem to find the Sidewinder the best-fitting sideways-knitted sock and the instructions are very clear.

I was utterly baffled by the original Metropole pattern. Obviously it would help if I understood German, but adding this to an unfamiliar structure was a recipe for disaster! The designer answered my query on Ravelry regarding the sock’s basic anatomy, where did the knitting begin?:

“Neither at the front nor at the back - it begins at the side. First you knit across the instep, then increase for the heel side , knit a part plain for the heel, decrease for the heel side and the sew both ends together. + toe in rounds + ribbing in rounds”

And although that makes sense on paper (I think!) it didn’t make sense when I tried to fathom it in an unfamiliar language. I got as far as : provisional cast on with a circular needle, work 40 rows of pattern… and then realised that this didn’t match Stephanie’s description because I would have knitted half a sock without any shaping. There is probably a phrase like “And at the same time….” hidden in there!

My plug-in approach is working so far. I am using one of my last balls of On-Linie Sport Color sock yarn. It self-stripes in purple, turquoise, green, red and yellow! Both kids are trying to claim it as their own, so I said I would see how the size works out before I make a decision. At the moment I am aiming for a ladies UK size 5 or so with a wide foot - which would suit my daughter. And the leg pattern is way more lacey than the pictures in the book suggest, so I think this is a girl-sock!

Progress shots will follow!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Goth socks club: final instalment

Goth Socks in "Dream within a Dream", the final instalment of the Dead Poets Sock Club, complete with a poem by Edgar Allan Poe.


This has been my best-ever experience of a sock club, as every colourway was one I would have chosen myself. This is parchment-creamy-golden-sand with turquoise and black and will stripe in 4-5 row segments.

I have reserved this skein for myself. It's just perfect for Kai-Mei!

: )

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

FO: Ysolda Scroll Lace Shawlette

Lessons learned.... before photo-shooting:

1. Check for stray ends and darn them in

2. Allow garment to dry fully, or by the final picture you will look like an entrant into a Ms Wet T-Shirt competition

3. Incentivise the project for your photographer or she will get bored and you will be left with lots of pictures of your greyest hairs and half-shut eyes, and a shawl that appears to be inside out ...
It really is incredibly long....!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ysolda Scroll Lace Shawlette - blocking!

I finished my Ysolda Scroll Lace shawlette last night and it is now blocking on my exercise mat.
Sorry about the flash photography!
It stretched alarmingly on contact with water and in my mother's words "You could riddle corn through it"! However, I managed to push the stockingette together as I blocked, while opening out the lace.
Nevertheless, it is a very open gauge and I would probably go down a needle size next time. I could barely fit it onto my mat!
It's more of a long scarf than a shawl.
I ran out of yarn while casting off and had to use a toning oddment from another project, which was disappointing. I had already adjusted the shaping from row 28 onwards to cut out four rows and save yarn. But I am certain this was because I lost yardage on a previously-frogged project on this yarn.
Watch this space for modelled shots!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Where did the weekend go?

Rather more time than planned was spent trying to find school shoes, skirt and blouse for my daughter who is singing in a school concert and therefore has to be more “uniform” than usual. We still haven’t got shoes and she is not impressed by me telling her to stand at the back (as the shortest kid in the choir, that just isn’t going to work!)

Then there was the herb garden weeding… still not finished! Would you believe it was too hot to carry on? So I moved down to my empty shaded veg patch and filled it with the last herb seedlings from my windowsill and some very ambitious baby tomato plants. If they grow it will be a miracle, but it was definitely too dark in the house, so this is their best chance. FL has reinforced and heightened the fence so we are hoping the rabbits can’t get in.

And knitting? Oh yes – knitting! I am so very very nearly finished the Ysolda Scroll Lace shawl – if anyone is looking for a fast but lovely shawl pattern this is the one to try! I had a stupid moment on Friday night when I misunderstood the instructions and emailed another knitter and Ysolda herself via Ravelry to query the number of pick-up stitches – not realising that “every slipped stitch” actually meant every second stitch – duh! Both sent me very speedy and helpful replies – hooray for Ravelry! Once I recovered from this, it was just a case of finding the time to knit. I have about 10 rows left to do, plus the picot cast-off… and a tiny ball of wool. I have a vague memory of losing some yardage ripping back an earlier project with this yarn. I am really regretting it now! If I get stuck, I might have to cast off early, which I feel would lose the integrity of the pattern, or I could possibly use leftover Knittery cashmere / merino sock which is a very similar purple and only slightly thinner. Hmmm. Fingers crossed, I should finish tonight!

Friday, June 19, 2009

This weekend...

This weekend I will be knitting my Scroll Lace shawl(-ette)! The lace edging is knitted "sideways" using rows of only 12-15 stitches, so each row is quick, and I probably spend more time drawing my 5-bar gates to keep count than I do actually knitting!

I am already planning my next one which will be for my mother’s Christmas. She is 84 years old and a very conservative dresser, but used to be voracious knitter herself. She never ceases to tell me that hand-knits are “old-fashioned” and is baffled by the idea of knit-blogs! Nevertheless, I know that if I am giving my aunt (her sister) Ishbel for Christmas, she will feel slighted if she does not get something from my needles! The original colour of the Scroll Lace shawl in “Yarn Forward” is deeply mother-friendly, so I have ordered a skein from Old Maiden Aunt. Sorted!
I am also going to finish the annual Great Weed of the herb garden. I am distressed to report that the rabbits have hacked in through my supposedly-high-security fence and made a start on munching anything fresh and green… or pink… or purple. I am livid, as you can imagine! FL has taken to getting up at 5am, standing on a pile of books on the window-ledge and whistling out of the window at them. He reckons whistling won’t disturb the neighbours but will scare the rabbits. OMG. I am just waiting for one of our early-rising oil-worker neighbours to spot him hanging there in his dressing-gown…! Or for him to slip… but lets not even think about that!

In sewing news… I need to make more trousers for work. It is June and I am still wearing the grey wool ones I made in the winter! I finally found new shoes to wear to work with trousers after a seemingly impossible quest: not completely flat, black, wide enough to allow the wearing of hand-knitted socks, and a little bit funky. Since I have nothing else to show you, I will leave you with a picture of my new shoes!
(Oxygen, from Ebay, footbed style).
Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New project: Scroll Lace Shawl(-ette)

Sometimes the best projects are the ones that take you by surprise and knock all the careful planning aside in their wake.

This is certainly what has happened to me this week! I had no sooner seen Ysolda’s post about a new shawl-ette pattern in the latest Yarn Forward (Issue 15) than I had to track down a copy (online) and cast on within hours of its arrival!

The yarn choice was inevitable. The pattern calls for sportweight, and I have been nurturing a couple of skeins of PigeonroofStudios Sportweight yarn for far too long now. There have been two attempts to use it: fingerless gloves for my daughter (too tight) and socks for me (when the yarn inexplicably pooled and splotched). But this time I know I have got it right! The colourway is “Nightshade”and it is handpainted in the literal sense of the term – you can almost see each touch of the artist’s brush! I am not exaggerating – the colours are so confidently daubed across the yarn, fading into each other at times and deeply saturated elsewhere, yet always showing off the texture of the firmly-twisted wool. I love it!

I don’t know why Yarn Forward suggests aran-weight yarn as a suitable substitution, as double-knitting would be far more suitable. The only one on Ravelry with a photo so far uses cashmerino aran and it looks so much heavier – nice enough as a winter scarf but nothing like the light breezy summer shawl pictured in the magazine.

I knitted ten repeats of the lace last night and I predict at least another ten tonight. We could be looking at a finished object by the weekend! And I don’t see this new obsession ending there…!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

FO: Ishbel

So, here we have her: the ubiquitous Ishbel. Like so many others, I opted for the small stocking stitch inner section with the large lace edging, using almost all of my skein of HipKnits bfl sock and 4mm Denise circular needles.

Verdict? There are so many beautiful Ishbels out on the web that I wanted to be part of the craze. But mine is just a bit… ordinary. My initial thought was to make something very Scottish – inspired by stormy skies, mist over heather, the three witches hunched over their cauldron…!

But the yarn I pulled from the stash was not what I remembered and I held onto that sense of disappointment throughout this project. I would have preferred to use something more exciting - either in terms of texture or colour or both.
I didn’t enjoy knitting the stocking stitch section, but the lace was a lot more fun. Once I got to the lace, it kept me knitting way past bed-time on a regular basis!

So would I knit it again? Yes! But definitely in a more inspiring yarn – maybe a bamboo or silk mix? This Ishbel is destined to become my aunt’s Christmas present and I know she will appreciate its subtleties, so all is well!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

FO: Project 13, the Secret Staccato

The work of a week's holiday in North West Sutherland, plus a couple of evenings. And then there were the endless ends to weave in! But my daughter's birthday hoodie was completed in time and she likes it. She was shocked to realise I had knitted it - and I take that as a compliment!


Staccato hoodie by Kristen Kapoor of Through the Loops blog. I knitted the second size using 5mm Denise needles and plant-dyed aran wool from Knitting4Fun.

Instead of hemming the sleeves and body I left the edges to roll back for more of an indie-girl vibe.

Would I knit it again? I have no choice because her big brother wants one too!

The only thing I would do differently is I would sew the ends in as I went along, because it really was an enormous effort of will to do the whole lot at once.

I really like the yarn, which I have used before and is proving to be hard-wearing.

The only issue I had was with the dark green colourway which felt a bit soapy and left my fingers stained as I knitted - as if it hadn't been properly rinsed.

As you can tell from my daughter's face, this project is a big success!

Thanks from my daughter and from FL for all your birthday wishes - they are greatly appreciated!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

13 today!

The girl is 13 today – happy birthday N!

As you read this I will be finishing off Project 13, which I think I can now safely reveal, as my daughter is spending the weekend with her father and brother in London and has better things to do than look at my blog!

Project 13: the Secret Staccato!

Both kids showed more than a passing interest in Kirsten’s stripey hoodie design when I showed them her cool teenagers sporting theirs on the Through The Loops blog. My daughter agreed the colours with me, but I don’t think she realised I had gone ahead and ordered the yarn (from Knitting4Fun).

My holiday to Scourie in April provided ideal uninterrupted knitting time and I surprised myself by completing the bulk of the knitting during that one week away. Sewing in the ends has been another issue altogether!

So this weekend I am weaving in the last few (dozen!) ends, knitting the front bands (which go right round the edge of the hood) and sewing on the zip.
She comes home on Sunday evening – watch this space for modelled shots!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Happy Birthday to my First Love!

Happy birthday FL!

He particularly asked for me to take a photo of him by this tree.

But would he smile?!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

FO: Dress for a Teenager

(Click on pics for close-up view!) As planned, I made my daughter a dress at the weekend. I haven’t made her many clothes for many years. Once she developed her own opinions, it became too precarious! But every detail of this dress was negotiated as I went along: the pattern, the fabric, the buttons, the length – everything!

There was a scary moment when she came to try it on and I thought it was too small, but luckily it fits really well. She tried it on before I sewed in the sleeves and we decided it looked fine without them, so I added some bias binding round the armholes instead. 1970’s puff-shoulders were never going to be within my daughter’s comfort zone!

I had to reduce the bodice by two inches all over, length as well as width, and I know I should have got her to try it on earlier as it could so easily not have fitted. The instructions for the front bands were very confusing and I ended up just following my instincts. Because of the adjustments to the top, the skirt had to lose a few inches of width to be in proportion. It’s still a really good swooping half-circle.

I don’t know how often she will wear it as she is not a dressy girl – it is definitely for layering over jeans and a camisole as the ladderwork fabric is quite sheer. She dug out a long white cotton petticoat from way-back-when which looks pretty funky under it too.

Verdict? A success! Phew! A landmark in many ways, as I think she will trust me to make her more clothes in the future… and I do think that every girl needs at least one dress in her wardrobe.

13 on Saturday 13th – eek!

Stats: Vintage 1970's Butterick "Betsey Johnson Young Designer" pattern 6978, in age 13-14, reduced by two inches in bodice width and length and the skirt shortened another six! The material is pure cotton from Favourite Fabrics at Ebay and was £3.99 a metre. It has alternating stripes of ladderwork and dotted swiss embroidery. Simple black buttons from John Lewis. Evil black Vilene 180 interfacing which melts within three feet of an iron - grrr!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Sprecken sie socken?

I do enjoy a good knitting challenge. But I may be pushing myself to the limit this time! Bewitched by the project gallery on Ravelry, I tracked down a copy of Stephanie Van Linden’s “Socken Aus Aller Welt”. I have to tell you that these socks are staggeringly beautiful! And that the book is written in German.

No, before you ask, I don’t understand a word of it… yet! And further evidence of my jeopardy is that I didn’t even realise the charts were contained in a separate booklet attached to the inside back cover. I thought I was going to have to use the photos to work out the stranded designs! It was only when I noticed the repeated mention of a “strickenjournal” and the word “seite” (which my daughter told me means “page”!) followed by a number that I tracked it down and realised the task ahead had just become more achievable!

Thank heavens for Ravelry! There is a support group for knitters of Stephanie’s patterns and links to linguistic back-up resources and tips. I totally immersed myself in the book over the weekend and now recognise at a glance the words for “circular needles” and “stitchmarkers”. I can even just about tell which socks are knitted toe-up!

But I am under no illusions: this is not going to be easy! It doesn’t help that my magpie-eye is drawn to the most complicated designs with diagonal shapings and unusual heel construction! Ironically, the easiest patterns for a non-German-speaker are probably the multi-coloured ones!

I would be very surprised if this book is not translated into English very soon, because it is an absolute stunner. But if you can’t wait… you can buy a copy very reasonably from the Book Depository via Amazon Marketplace – the listing says “Used like New” but my copy looks box-fresh.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

In the garden

So much of my time has been spent weeding recently! I am trying to keep the Herb Garden under control because the middle neighbour's house is up for sale and the first thing viewers see as they approach the front door is my garden.

I took my daughter to Monymusk Walled Garden last Sunday and was thoroughly inspired by the density of the planting and the mixture of herbs and bedding plants.. and even a few weeds! I didn't take any pictures - tsk!

We had a picnic and I bought a few more plants from their shop.

Back home, and at last I am beginning to see the results of all my work! But I need everything to grow and fill the spaces where the weeds used to be. There is just too much bare grey earth!
I also dug over the veg garden and planted out all my baby plants: a selection of culinary herbs, broccolli, chopsuey greens, watercress, artichokes. I watered them daily for a week. And then I went out this morning and they were GONE! Every last plant was razed to the ground. There is just a slight green stubble where they used to be. We don't know what did it. There are plenty of candidates: deer, rabbits, mice, rats, pigeons, owls - all possible!

I love living in the country!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

A dress for a teenager

This weekend I am sewing my daughter’s dress. You’ve heard that before, but this time it is true!

I had to buy more material when the skirt turned out to be wider than expected.
Ironically, I might be shortening it by about a foot so that the girl can wear it over her skinny jeans, so there was plenty of material first time around.

Then I had to grade the pattern down a couple of bust sizes when I realised that it would have fitted me after all!
Then my daughter vetoed the width of the sleeves, so I had to re-draft them too. I am not sure how much of this dress could be said to be Betsey Johnson’s design anymore!

However, this much is true: it is black, it has a high waist, a wide skirt, a scoop neck, buttoned front and gathered short sleeves. Watch this space!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Incoming stash

My dedicated stash-busting has been shot to pieces by a couple of retail therapy sessions. The first occurred shortly after FL’s last hospital visit. I needed bright orange wool. In my stressed-out mind, I could not face another day without the knowledge that sizzling marmalade sock yarn was on its way to me! And you don’t get much more orange than Hazel Knits Hi Octang! I ordered it from Sonny and Shear, along with a skein of Dream in Color Classy in Black Parade…because I have loved everything I had seen in this colour and nobody seemed to stock it on this side of the Atlantic.

Unfortunately, my package was stopped by Customs and they held my yarn to ransom until I arranged to collect it from a remote sorting office (7am to 12 noon Monday to Friday!) and paid £12.83 for the privilege. Grrr. Lesson learned. No more international yarn orders. (Yes I know I have said this before, but this time I mean it!)

There was a second shopping incident when FL’s back was bothering him, and I absolutely needed to knit him some tweedy socks, immediately. So I stalked the Yarn Yard site and Ravelry until I knew the shop update was imminent and sat at my desk with the site under observation in the corner of my screen. Snapped up: two skeins of Natalie’s new yarn “Croft”, with the aim of making truly manly deeply Scottish socks.

So I have more yarn than I had before. But it is lovely stuff! And its not as if it will just lie in a box under the bed until the mice get it, because that would be stupid wouldn’t it?! Must. Knit. Faster.

P.S. Don't forget to watch BBC1 at 9pm tonight to see the Knitting Noras and their calendar! (See yesterday's post!)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Cinderella in the buff!

If you are a long-term reader, you might remember I won the Storytellers knitting design competition over at Purlescence, with my Cinderella Stockings.

Well, the pattern is about to get a bit more ... ahem... exposure... in the Knitting Noras' 2010 Naked Knit calendar! Julie (Dannikins on Ravelry) has made a pair of Cinders' stockings in sizzling red which her brave friend Francesca will wear for this project. They look fab!

Proceeds are going to the Christie Hospital in Manchester, one of Europe's leading cancer hospitals, which treats over 40,000 people a year .

You can learn more about the Knitting Noras on BBC1 this Thursday at 9pm in the "Calendar Girls 10 Years On" programme.

Pre-order the calendar here!