Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Scarf overdose

It had to happen. All those scarves in such a short space of time. I OD'd on scarfy evilness, and now I don't want to pick up the needles. I got half way through knitting a blue elephant, and have put it to one side. (Not lifesize - just 10" tall.) Worked a few half-hearted rows on the dark red basket weave socks. I need to get my knitting mojo back.

Remember the ninepatch lap quilt for Mr F.'s Grandad? The one that I was going to quilt while Mr F. was away racing in Pembury? I procrastinated as much as I could, and finally got down to work on it at 3.30pm on Christmas Eve. Laid it out, pinned the layers together, quilted it on the machine, and put on the binding and label. All done and finished in time for bed. I have to admit though, that's cutting it very fine even for me. I did get Mr F. to take a couple of pictures, but we were both well into the Christmas spirit by then, and the photos came out a bit fuzzy.

I'll post again soon with the photos if they're salvagable, along with photos of a lacy angel I made for the Christmas season.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Far have I travelled....

Well, actually, I haven't been anywhere other than to work and back. I don't have any excuses for my silence other than, y'now, I'm really lazy.

I have been knit, knit, knitting. What have I been knitting? Scarves, because it's getting to that time of year. In fact, I went a little scarf crazy.

Here's a scarf in Rowan Tapestry (shade 174). It's a simple broken rib pattern, and the scarf is only 4 inches or so wide. Two balls were enough to make this scarf which should be just long enough to wrap around twice without creating too much bulk, and the ends will tuck into the front of yer jacket. Excellent. Tapestry is a beautiful yarn to work with. It's really soft and lustrous. However, it does not like to be ripped. Not at all! How do I know? Let's just say that even a simple stitch pattern can fox you when you're trying to knit in the dark whilst watching a screen god strut his stuff, and whilst trying to keep up with the plot in a foreign language film.

I've just picked up another couple of skeins of this yarn - one in the red colourway and one in icy blues. I intend to do the same pattern again, but two rows of each colour down the length of the scarf, so that the shading travels along the whole length. I've done the same in the Noro Kureyon scarf below. The colours aren't too good in the door photo, so have a look at the one where I held the scarves at arm's length and tried to make it look like someone else took the photo.

OK. I obviously didn't plan it well when I took the photos. The Kureyon scarf is the one with the striping effect running through it. I used two different colours, no idea what shades, and knitted in a nice chunky rib to make a skinny scarf. The other scarf is made from Noro Silk Garden. Both balls were the same shade, but no idea what that shade might be. I ordered the second ball from a completely different supplier than the first ball, and almost twelve months later - they were both the same dye lot. Woo hoo! Yarn karma. Of course, if the scarf was for me, and not a gift, it would have been impossible to get the same dye lot. Yarn karma.

Here are two scarves in Artesano Alpaca. The pattern is from Simply Knitting, issue 17, I think. I knit the first one in rust without the beads, then the second in mid grey with beads. This is my first attempt at beaded knitting, and looks much nicer wih the right sized beads. My first attempt had me using size 9 beads. Tiny. I managed to get them onto the yarn, and even knit about 6 inches of scarf before I gave up and tried again. I now have an industrial sized supply of the correct beads, and guess what folks are getting for Christmas this year...

Some eye candy to finish with. I have a friend who emigrated to Turkey a couple of years ago, and recently I've been sending her books in English as they're not so easy to come by in the area where she lives. She's over here in cold, wet Lancashire for a quick visit, and she popped in to work today with a gift for me. Real hand-knit Turkish socks from Turkey! I know, it's sad to get so excited about socks. But: real hand-knit Turkish socks from Turkey!!! They are super soft and very warm. They are far too nice to wear under boots, so I think these will be snuggly socks for those cold wintry nights when you want to curl up on the sofa with a hot chocolate, a good book, and the lap quilt.

Oh - I've also been knitting little girly cardigans for my nieces, but no pictures of those yet.

Okay - I'm off for some of that hot chocolate I mentioned earlier.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Clocks back

It's clocks back day today. We've got an extra hour to play with. What did you do with yours?

I put this together.

OK, it took more that an hour. It even took more than two. I'm very pleased with it, and hope Mr Flajol's Granddad likes it as much as I do. It's going to be his Christmas gift this year.

I'm part of an online quilting community who regularly swap patchwork blocks with each other, and these homespun squares are from our most recent exchange. It includes blocks from the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand and France. I love that something so homey and comforting has been created from the efforts of people from around the world, who have been brought together by their common love of quilting and a particular series of books. It just needs to be quilted - a job for next weekend while Mr Flajol disappears off to Pembury to watch the racing.

I'll also be working on the lap quilt I put together after our last exchange. The brief was to send in blocks based on Amish patchwork patterns. We all bought black background fabric from the same source, so that the blocks would go together well, and each announced which block we would do so as to avoid two people making the same pattern. I chose Shoo Fly - it's the black and orange block, bottom centre. When I got the blocks back, I had eleven different ones, including my own. I didn't want to put two the same in there to make it up to twelve, so I put together the pink and blue Amish Bars block on the centre of the second row. I really enjoyed researching the patterns for this exchange, and I'd love to make a full size Amish style quilt. They really are beautiful. Until then, I'll be happy with my international mini version!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Along came Rose

Rose arrived on Saturday 14th October - all the family doing well. I've only seen photos so far, because Mr Flajol had a stinking cold at the beginning of the week, then he rather generously shared it with me. I've been sat at home feeling sorry for myself for the last few days, willing myself better so I can go visit the new addition to the family.

I have done a little knitting, but I've been feeling so crappy that the last few days have consisted of me lolling around on the sofa, drinking lots of fluids, and doing my dying swan act. Mr Flajol is one of those blokes who doesn't easily admit to illness, and doesn't do lying around feeling sorry for himself. Not me, though! If I'm poorly sick, the whole world better know it, and bring me offerings of chicken soup*, ice cream** and luxury yarns***.

I did finish the surprise baby jacket at the weekend. It lacks only buttons and a baby to fill it. It's probably going to be at least the middle of the week before I get to visit with my new niece. I want to be sure Mr F. and I are both completely disease free before we go a-visiting. On the plus side, it will give me time to whip up a little something for niece number one.

Pictures next time. I'm simply too too feeble to go downstairs and take photos of knitting in progress.

Adieu from the plague house.


*Actually, what the whole world should bring me is tomato soup, because we all know chicken soup is second only to mushroom soup in grossness, unless it's that clear noodle soup flavoured with chicken stock. Best to stick with tomato soup. It avoids tantrums.

**Any flavour but chocolate or mint. Unless it's real chocolate instead of that crappy chocolate flavour. I will eat mint ice cream, but only if there's no other flavour available.

***Who am I kidding? It doesn't have to be luxury. I am a yarn ho.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Newsflash from the frogpond

The cotton sock is dead. Long live the cotton sock.

I finally tried on the Lana Grossa cotton sock. Despite its ribby goodness, it felt like it was trying to cut off the end of my foot.




Thursday, October 12, 2006

Still waiting on the baby...

My brother's baby was due almost a week ago, and we're still waiting. Come on out, already! We're all waiting to meet you! The shawl is delivered and ready to receive said baby - now I've got to get to work on some clothing. I have Elizabeth Zimmermann's pattern for the baby surprise jacket sitting here, waiting to stun me with it's magic folding goodness. Unfortunately, I also have a pile of projects crying out for attention.

I finished the first of the Ripple Weave socks, and I've worked the first pattern repeat on number two already. I also cast on a cotton sock in Lana Grossa Meilenweit whilst I was in Edinburgh. I needed a simple sock for the train journey: one I could work without constantly referring to a chart. I'm working this one in k2, p2 rib all the way down the leg and plan to take the rib pattern along the top of the foot.

I was very well behaved in Edinburgh. I managed to squeeze in three visits to HK over the course of the week. I caved on my second visit, and bought the Lana Grossa sock yarn, a ball of Opal solid in a very girly pink, and a couple of sets of Boye's shiny metal dpns (love those colours!). My friend dragged me along for a third visit - she was being a complete yarn ho, and wanted to get more of the sale yarn she'd found on our first visit to the shop. I escaped this time with a fantastic knitting zine, called Take Back the Knit. I'm itching to make the summer wrap and the goth-style gloves.

Now I'm off to PAD in Preston to check out the National Knitting Week exhibition - Endangered Species. Looks interesting. Of course, all the workshops are on days when I'm working or already have other arrangements. Grrr.

I'm never going to learn how to crochet at this rate!

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Shawl...

I finished the shawl for my brother's new baby today. It's a shawl I've made several times before, but never with the emotional investment that this one has. My first nephew or niece (the jury is still out).

The pattern is from an old Patons' book that my Nanna gave me years ago. In the late eighties she had a couple of heart attacks followed by a stroke, and the doctors told her she couldn't knit any more because of the strain it placed on her heart. She gifted me with her entire knitting stash and paraphernalia. I wasn't sure it was a good idea that she give it all away, but I figured nobody else in the family was interested in knitting, so I might as well take care of her stuff until she changed her mind. She never asked for any of it back, but when she had to move in with my parents for 24/7 care, she'd evidently ignored the doctors' advice and built up a new stash. Yay go Nanna! She'd been a knitter and craftswoman since childhood, and I know it cost her dearly when she thought she had to give it all up.

Well, this pattern is one of my old favourites for new babies. As I've said, I've knitted it more than once, but I only ever knit it for babies special to me. It's a beautiful shawl. The only thng I don't like is the seam, and I'm trying to figure out a seamless version. I am always, without fail, impressed by the end product.

This was knit with Sirdar Snuggly 2-ply. It's a nylon/acrylic (55/45) mix so it washes well and shouldn't turn into a felted ball in the machine. I've dressed it to be a bit larger than advised - 60" diameter instead of "50 - but I think it looks better for it.

Here's a close-up of the feather and fan pattern.

I haven't done any work on the Ripple Weave socks, but you haven't seen them yet, so here's a lack of progress picture...

Sorry for the paucity of new posts, but I've spent the last couple of weeks preparing for a big interview and presentation. I didn't get the job, but never mind - more time to knit! Yes, I am gutted, but we'll not dwell on that.

I'm off to Edinburgh at the end of the week. Knitting, reading, shopping. Maybe a little bit of drinking and making merry too. Well, OK, lots of drinking and making merry.

I also plan to hit a couple of fibre suppliers. More news soon...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

No new knitting today...

Which is not to say I haven't been knitting. I just forgot to take photos of it. I'm about to start on the edging of the lace shawl for my brother's soon-to-arrive bairn. I've done zero rows on the Ripple Weave socks, which does nothing to take me closer to some of those seductive new designs in Knitty. Not to mention Eunny Jang's scrumptious Bayerische socks. Photos next time. If I remember.

Last November I went to Texere Yarns, and spent my 'wool tokens' (birthday cash) on a selection of dyed rovings. I didn't have a spindle or a wheel at this point, but I knew I would have a spindle soon, and intended to have some lovely fibres to practice on. I didn't really get on with the drop spindle, but as soon as I acquired a wheel I set to. I haven't had any lessons as such, and it shows.

The wheel was a gift from a friend at work, who got a new wheel herself earlier this year. The one she's passed on to me is a Haldane Lewis. Other than that, I know nothing. She gave me a quick lesson on its setup and workings, but I've learned mostly by doing, watching short tutorials on t'Internet, reading and watching a very serene lady spinning away at Woolfest.

Before the revelations of Woolfest, my experience with the wheel was frenetic, panicked and full of frustration. I managed to spin yarn, but not yarn I would ever want to knit with. Here are my first attempts at wheel-spun yarn. I think the orange shade was first, then the pink.

I was so pleased with it when I first made it, until I started looking around on t'Internet and saw other beginners' first attempts. I knew I had a lot to learn.

After several more attempts, producing similar results, I trotted along to Woolfest where I happened upon a lady who sat there, calmly spinning as though the bustle and noise that surrounded her didn't exist. I commented to my friend that my spinning attempts were much more frenzied than that. The spinner overheard me, continued in her spinning, and advised me that I should try to relax into it rather than battle with the wheel.

In the few days after Woolfest, I hauled out the wheel from its corner. I pulled out more of the Texere roving, and set to. After a few false starts, I finally managed to ease the tension from my shoulders and back, and relaxed into it. It worked! My yarn is still bumpy, lumpy, and Not Suitable For Socks, but it looks like it's gettting there. It's an odd colour mixture. Here it looks mostly blue, but it's actually a bright turquoised plied with grey. Not an awful lot of thought went into the colour selection - I just used what I had in my stash.

My next skein was even better. Still not perfect, but much more even throughout. I'm pretty pleased with it. It's a much nicer shade of green than it appears in this photo.

Now I've got almost a full bobbin of my friend's undyed romney roving spun into singles, and I look forward to turning it into usable yarn. The singles are much thinner than anything I've managed so far, but there are inconsistencies in the thickness of the singles. I'm hoping it will even out in the plying...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It's all Stash-Junkie's fault

I wanted to post a comment about the lovely Clapotis being knitted by Stash-Junkie, but BlogSpot won't let me play unless I join the gang. Well, OK, but if this blogging thing spirals, I want everyone to know whose fault it is.

Talking of things spiraling out of control, I've just been having a squiz at the new edition of Knitty. More socks! Woo hoo! (Like I'm ever going to knit up all the patterns I've already earmarked for attention.) I l-u-r-v-e the Red Herring socks, and I'm already wondering whether to ditch the Ripple Weave socks from the latest issue of Vogue Knits in favour of the glorious Cable Net design. But no. I am all about the finishing of projects. Absolutely nothing new until I finish the Ripple Weaves. I will remember how I wanted to rip my Jaywalkers off my needles as soon as I saw the seductive twisted-rib goodness of Ripple Weave. I will remember how I finished my Jaywalkers, how I love them very much, and how very glad I am that I didn't consign them to the Cupboard of Doom.

Here thay are in all their green loveliness.

Pattern: Jaywalker by Grumperina
Yarn: 4-ply silk bourette, hand dyed by Knitting Goddess Yarns.

I used 2.5mm needles, instead of 2.25, and cast on 84 stitches. I missed off the rib at the top of the sock - I've already knit a pair of these for a friend, and wasn't too keen on the way the fabric behaved. These haven't been blocked yet, so the pixie points are still a little curly, but I'll sort that out on their first wash'n'block.

The socks look very wide in the leg and foot, but I needed to allow for the inelasticity of the silk.

Next time: Pictures of the Ripple Weave socks in progress, and a peek at the lace shawl I'm knitting for my brother's new baby. Will the excitement never cease?