Friday, March 27, 2009

Emergency Hat Knitting

This week has been the week of emergency hat knitting!
Tony’s mum, Pat, had chemo at the start of the year before having a stem cell transplant. (Her Aplastic Anaemia returned in November, and this is the only solution for a long term cure.)
She is now feeling well enough to get out and about and was invited out to dinner on Thursday evening by her neighbours. The chemo made her lose her hair. and although it is growing back, it is still very short and patchy, so she asked if I would make her a “dressy” hat that she could wear to go out for dinner in. Tony asked in a very casual way before I headed off to Skip North last weekend... I said yes, of course. It was only when I returned home on Sunday evening that I found out the meal out was this Thursday - 3 days to knit a hat - and I had no idea what she wanted!
I invited them over for dinner on Monday, and spent the evening searching Ravelry for ideas. She wanted a cream hat, with a brim that detracted from the fact she has no hair. I suggested Odessa but with a roll brim and maybe a flower or something similar. I’ve knit this hat before and knew it would work well in Rowan Calmer, which met with her, “it can’t be wool and it needs to be a bit stretchy” requirement. House of Fraser in Brum has a ball of cream Calmer in the rejects bin for 50p on Tuesday. Bingo!
I cast on during my commute home, knit up to the first or second pattern repeat on Tuesday night before falling asleep. I was convinced I wasn’t going to finish it in time. I knit like the wind on Wednesday; on the bus, on the train, at lunchtime in a cafe. Beading on a bus is certainly interesting! I cast off and crocheted the flower at about 10.30pm on Wednesday evening and delivered it to Pat. (I even remembered to take a picture first). Luckily (a) it fit and (b) she really liked it. Phew.
Pattern: Odessa by Grumperina. Originally from Magknits, now available from Ravelry
Yarn: Rowan Calmer in Cream (no ball band, sorry!)
Beads: Left over from my Swallowtail shawl
Needles: 4mm addi turbos
Started: 24th March
Finished: 25th March
Comments: I cast on 10 more stitches than the pattern recommends and did 8 rows of stocking stitch to make the roll brim before decreasing 10 stitches evenly around and following the pattern as normal.
The flower was a last minute addition, crocheted and completely made up on a 4.5mm hook (it was the first one that came out of the bag!)

Now I can go back to the spinnng! I made a right mess of some BFL last night :o)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Skipping North

This weekend saw the annual SKIPNorth take place in Haworth, West Yorkshire. On Thursday afternoon my little Clio and I headed up the M6 to stay with friends in Hebden Bridge, only a few miles from Haworth.
After talking crochet and wedding invitations I left Dan, Kate and Hattie at lunchtime on Friday and drove over the moors to Howarth.
Friday afternoon saw me learning Judy's Magic Cast on with Probably Jane and Modular Knitting with Wye Sue. Both very successful - I see a modular sock yarn blanket in my future (Kate had one, which was fabulous).
However, Skip North for me was a chance to learn something very new... Natalie had offered to lend me her Ashford Kiwi spinning wheel! I had a quick look at the wheel in Natalie's car soon after arriving in Howarth, but had to wait until after dinner to get stuck in. Isabella and Sally both gave me some excellent tuition. I found that despite my usual lack of co-ordination the treddling and drafting was remarkably easy and suprisingly soothing. By half way through Saturday evening I had produced something resembling yarn - 2ply Shetland Humbug.
My first Bobbin
I borrowed Heather's Niddy Noddy and turned the yarn into a skein and was remarkably happy with myself.
Ruth and her First Handspun
The yarn was washed and whacked against the wall in the drying room of the youth hostel to the sound of much giggling from Sally, Margarete and myself. It seemed a ridiculous thing to smack a skein of wet yarn against a wall as hard as I could, but it worked. Next morning my skein was dry and I now have this:
My First Handspun
My first handspun! Yipeee.
The shopping potential of the weekend meant that I didn't come away with just one tiny skein of handspun.
Skip North Stash 002
We have, from the top, fibre from Wingham Wools - well, I can't have a wheel without anything to practice on! Some King Cole merino from the yarn mountain at the Knitting & crochet Guild - a 500g, 1800m skein of 4 ply for £1! So what if it is mustard?!! Some Fiddlesticks Zephyr, also from KCG, potentially for my wedding shawl (I'm getting some Charlotte from Posh Yarns but I want to compare the two); 10 skeins of what I think is Aruacania Toconao from Coldspring Mill. They are sample skeins, so there was only one of each colour... but I couldn't resist
Skip North Stash 005
Perfect for a baby blanket, or maybe even Staccato if I can find a little bit more of this.
Some Rowan wool-cotton from the p/hop swap and finally lots of buttons from the haberdashers.
I especially couldn't resist these:
Skip North Stash 003
There was even time for knitting too - Provence socks in The Yarn Yard Bonny, end of Sept 08 sock club yarn. Toe up on 2.75mm needles with garter stitch heels and toes. I've got about as far as I would for a normal sock, but still have loads of yarn left, so I might make these into knee highs! I have some purple contrast yarn I can use for the ribbing at the top.
Provence Socks
When I arrived home on Sunday afternoon I found that someone else had been busy too!Garage Demolition
Yes, the garage is missing a roof.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Why Ply?

The answer to my lopsided stitches is explained perfectly in this Knitty Article
It is the yarn and I haven't started knitting in some strange way over the last few weeks! Phew.
P.S. The Yarn is Rowan Extra Fine Merino.


George is coming on a treat desipte me forgetting (a) yarn (b) a tape measure and (c) the pattern on separate days this week.
One sleeve, a collar, two pockets and a button band to go! I blocked the pieces I have already made this morning and despite it seeming really small when knitting, it is actually the right size. Horay!

BUT... I have real issues with my stocking stitch on this garment. Can you see?
Maybe closer will help?
My stitches are really lopsided. Is all of my knitting like this and I have never noticed?
They are not perfect little v's - the left hand side of the stitch as you look at it is much tighter and more upright than the right. Is this just the way I knit? Is it the yarn? Am being really picky? Does anyone know a way of fixing it? I knit english style and throw my yarn. I experimented a bit on the way home last night knitting continental but the same thing happens.
Blocking does sort it out a bit... but not completely.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


The week away in Keswick gave me quite a bit of time to start planning new knits.

First up is George by Martin Storey. This comes from a now out of print Jaeger book JB 29 which I had wanted to get for a while as it is full of really good patterns for babies and children.
I kept being outbid for this on ebay and got annoyed so emailed Janette at Janette's Rare Yarns and she managed to get the last pack from Rowan. Absolutely fantastic customer service.
This is knit in the "new" Rowan extra fine merino, which is virtually identical to the old discontinued Jaeger. I did contemplate trying to do this top down in one piece, which would be so much easier.. but that kind of defeated the object of buying the book! So I will be seaming... Hmmm.
One sleeve and the left front down. The back is OTN at the moment.

I also had some time to swatch for bigger projects. This is King Cole Merino Blend Aran, and is destined to become Amelia from Knitty. After realising the pattern is written for worsted weight (this is definitely aran) I've had to go down a couple of needle sizes to get gauge, but I'm there now. After a panic that I didn't have enough yarn Lisa at First4Yarn has come to the rescue with some more balls in the same dyelot so I can cast on and not worry :o)

Ameilia swatch
Finally, the wedding stole/shrug thingie. I have an idea in my head... vaguely like the One Skein Wonder but in laceweight and a lacy pattern. I took my Barbara Walker stitch dictionaries with me to the lakes but only managed one swatch

Wedding Shrug Swatches
But, which way up looks best?

Wedding Shrug Swatches

However I have since thought that maybe I could modify an existing shawl pattern into a half hexagon - but I then realised that the back needs to be bigger than a triangle for it to fit... so this is the vague plan. I'll start at the top, cast on stitches for the neck, and use raglan increases to make two sleeves.

I'll cast off at the bottom back edge, but leave the sleeve stitches live and then join them in the round and knit a small cuff.
So the shrug won't really have a "front" - does that make sense. In my head it works, I think I need to make a "mini" one to see if it really does work.

Fingers crossed. Then all I have to do is find some ivory yarn to "match" my dress...

Saggy old cloth cat

That is how I would describe my first pair of Socktopus Sock Club Socks. Doesn't the yarn just remind you of a certain pink and white cat?

Socktopus Sock Club Parcel Jan 09

This wonderful smelling parcel arrived in the middle of January but was ignored whilst my trapped nerve was playing up.

Raspberry Ripple Socks

I wound the yarn on impulse just before our trip to the Lake District last week. I knew if I didn't start them soon they would linger untouched forever.

I cast on one rainy afternoon, straight after the Oolong socks had been finished, and in what seemed like no time I had a toe and half a foot. AND I was magic looping - something I've never got the hang of before - I think the Harmony needles definitely make a difference.

Raspberry Ripple Socks

I cast off sock two on Sunday night after knitting half a foot turning a heel and knitting the leg in the car on the way home! As you can see, they are a fraternal pair, sock two pooled on the foot in a kind of lightning bolt, but I'm not really bothered.
Started: 2nd March 2009
Finished: 8th March 2009
Pattern: Om Shanti by Alice Yu for the Socktopus Sock Club January 2009
Yarn: Chameleon Colorworks Evolution in Peppermint Cheer
Needles: 2.75mm - magic loop
Comments: The pattern is well written, I have a new found love of garter stitch toes and heels and even magic loop with my new Harmony needles. I didn't really like the yarn, or rather I didn't like the knots and the massive variation in thickness in the yarn. Sock one had 3 knots in the skein, luckily it didn't make too much difference to the way the colours behaved but is annoying nevertheless. The skein of yarn for sock two was considerably thicker than sock one, and is definitely more "solid" and I think the colours pooled on the foot as a result. The yarn is mechanically stretched merino, so it is gloriously silky soft, I can only imagine that some yarn is more "stretched" than other. I haven't blocked these yet, I know others have had experience with this yarn growing quite a lot when blocked. As I plan to wear these as bed/house socks it doesn't matter that much, but I probably wouldn't choose to use it again.
All in all I do have a very very soft pair of new house socks... and have learnt new techniques when knitting them... so they get the thumbs up, especially as they look like Bagpuss.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Ok, so I promised you more finished knitting, here we have Oolong Socks from the Twist Collective by Monica Schmidt in the gorgeous Hazel Knits Artisan Sock Yarn from Socktopus.

Oolong Sock

I wanted some red socks to go with my new red hoodie and jeans, and these fit the bill of being easy and interesting enough to knit on the train and perfect for solid colour yarn. I wasn't so sure about the pattern change until I tried them on:

Oolong Socks

But as you can see, when worn, the change from leg to foot comes at exactly the right point!

Oolong Socks

Started: 24th December 2008
Finished: 1st March 2009
Pattern: Oolong from the Twist Collective by Monica Schmidt
Yarn: Hazel Knits Artisan sock in Red Carpet
Needles: 2.5mm
Comments: I started these with the channel island cast on that Lucy Neatby taught us on the Socktopus weekend last November. It gives the illusion of a picot edge that I like.
The yarn is about as sproingy as Merino gets and was a complete dream to knit with. The colour didn't run when washed and they are so soft. The yarn is quite tightly spun, so I'm hoping it will last. Especially as I have these two wonderful skeins from the Hazel Knits sock club to enjoy now
Hazel Knits Sock Club Feb 09

Sunday, March 08, 2009


I'm back from a wonderful week in the Lake District with lots of finished items to show you. Firstly, Ishbel from Ysolda's Whimsical Little Knits collection.
Beautiful Ishbel
It has been cold in the office recently and I have been wearing my swallowtail shawl to death. I fancied a little bit of lace and fell in love with this simple scarf/shawl.
Beautiful Ishbel
It is knit using The Yarn Yard "Beautiful - BFL" yarn we got as our end of September Solids club parcel. This photo below is about as true a likeness as I can get. The yarn has been overdyed so has a purply sheen to it. I wanted to make a shawl from this, it is too good to be hidden away in shoes.
Beautiful Ishbel
An easily memorised lace pattern made this just fly along on my commute to work and made a nice change from socks!
Beautiful Ishbel
So I had a lovely new scarf to wear in chilly Keswick last week!
Started: 15th February
Finished: 27th February
Pattern: Ishbel by Ysolda
Yarn: The Yarn yard "Beautiful" in September solids club
Needles: 3.75mm addi lace turbos
Comments: A quick and simple lace pattern. Not as soft as my swallowtail (well that is silk and cashmere) but this will no doubt get a lot of wear.