Friday, November 30, 2007

Basil Sweater Off-TN

Oh joy! Less than a week after completing the knitting on Perugino II, Basil has followed it into the Finishing Basket. We now have four even-looking pieces of sweater waiting to be blocked and stitched together.

That was amazingly quick, or at least it seems that way in retrospect, now it's definitively off the needles.

Know what else is exciting? I have this thing about not letting more than three items pile up in the Finishing Basket, so that means there will be no knitting at all to be done this weekend. Not a stitch of knitting until all three waiting projects (Basil, Perugino II, Rainbow Socks) are pinned out wet and Perugino's tassels are made.

We have NOvember to thank for all this progress. I am definitely keeping it up next month.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

8.5 kilos of yarn.

8.5 kilos of yarn is what I brought home this evening from my BF's mate's house. His mum cleared out her stash and set a reasonable price on it as a job lot, so I naturally took it. It just barely fits in one of those big, plastic laundry bags. I've yet to identify what most of it is, but here are a few snaps, just so you can see the haul.

1-kilo packs, DK/aran weight, unidentified fibre




600-gram packs, aran/chunky weight, soft, slubby, unidentified fibre.

Salmon pink.


Grey boucle, about 500g

Various acrylic

Peach baby yarn, 100% acrylic. Brand is WHSmith - who knew they once sold yarn?

Wendy Capri: 51% cotton, 49% acrylic. Textured, nubbly yarn.

Patons Jamboree: 90% acrylic, 10% polyamide.

Patons Diana Discos: 85% acrylic, 15% polyamide.

Mohair & Faux Mohair

Hayfield Optimum Luxury Mohair: 68% mohair, 24% acrylic, 8% nylon.

Patons Mohair Visions Nouveaux. 66% mohair; 16% polyester; 14% nylon; 4% wool.

Looks like mohair even though it isn't: Wendy Dolce Mia; 50% Courtelle acrylic, 50% nylon.

Wendy Dolce. Pretending to be mohair but is 50% Courtelle acrylic, 50% nylon.

Large cone, at least 400g, of something black from the Yorkshire Mohair Mill.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Breaking News: Perugino II Off-TN

I'm thrilled to report that the actual knitting of Perugino II is 100% done, and it is now residing in the Finishing Basket, waiting to be blocked and have its tassels made & sewn on.

Work on Green Silk Happiness (the StitchDiva Knitted Bodice) has resumed.

How to place & shape a set-in armhole.

I write the opening lines of this post with not a clue how to design and shape a set-in sleeve with matching armhole. However, it's imperative that I find out. It's time to make some progress on the new Red/Pink Wrapover Sweater design and I've done most of the torso now so the next step is to figure out how a set-in sleeve works. Here's where we were up to last time. ................

I've had a dig through the library in the knitting room and the resource of choice is going to be the eternally authoritative Readers Digest Complete Guide to Needlework (1981). It has only one chapter on knitting but that chapter is full of the most clear and sensible technical advice you could wish for. I am instructed that to plan the armhole, we'll need the following measurements:

  • Shoulder width: distance across the back between the armholes;
  • Chest: underarm measurement across half the garment;
  • Shoulder length: "standard for your garment size";
  • Armhole depth: "standard for your garment size".

To plan the sleeve we'll need these measurements:

  • Wrist;
  • Underarm length;
  • Upper-arm.

Excuse me while I go away and work out what all those measurements are.

Miss WIPlash

Guys, sorry not to have posted for a few days. Heavy work schedule plus a broken internet connection meant no blogging for a little while there. However, Beelzebub's knitting continues undaunted. I am seriously whipping those idle WIPs into shape now. Discipline rules in the house of Beelzebub.

I have nearly cast on new socks a few times. I have some of this delicious yarn:

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Valentine

and some of these miniature needles:
Lantern Moon Sox Stix

and they are calling and calling to me. I linger in the doorway of the knitting room, listening to their siren song. Then I shut the door, step away and go back to work on Perugino II and Basil.

Well, those pesky WIPs are showing tremendously good progress as a result. Check the status bars in the WIP list. Perugino II is 85% done, and Basil is coming on in leaps and bounds. In the last 24 hours it's shot from being 40% complete to a massive 70%, just like that.

The sleeves & back of Basil are now completed and I've already started the front.

And here is Perugino II, since I promised you a photo:

Look how big it's grown!

NOvember is really paying off.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


As we all know, the knitting community has a calendar all its own, complete with distiinct seasons and annual celebrations. Following the Harvest Festival of knitting that is Socktoberfest, a bright spark over at the Angel Yarns forum came up with the genius idea of NOvember. NOvember is for everyone who has too many WIPs - and you know I've had a plague of WIPs lately. The simple rule behind NOvember is that you don't cast anything else on until you have finished your designated WIPs. All of them.

Beautiful in its austerity (a bit like Lent, ho ho), NOvember is really helping me plough through my WIPs, which, as you'll remember, consisted of a large Colinette Perugino throw, three (count 'em!) adult-sized sweaters and several socks. Here's what happened.

On first approaching the fearsome mountain of WIPs, I naturally took the cowardly option and started with the easiest possible thing, namely the socks. I worked on socks at home, and socks while travelling. Eventually, I had to admit all the socks were done, and that meant it was time to do some proper knitting on some of those large WIPs. Under normal circumstances, at this point I would have cast on a new pair of socks. I would have rationalised that I must have a travelling sock to knit on, because travelling without one is unthinkable. I would then have cast on some fascinating new sock pattern and been unable to leave it alone when at home, leaving the WIPs languishing in a corner.

NOvember dictated that no new socks could be cast on until I'd finished four much larger items. Do you know what that means about how long it will be before I have a travelling sock to knit on again? That's a blanket and three sweaters away! I have to read books about knitting on the train, because NOvember is not letting me knit anything that's not massive. I have new sock yarn & needles I want to play with. It is driving me a bit nuts.

However, like a strict diet, this 'no new projects' thing is undeniably working and we are now seeing excellent progress on two of the four large WIPs. The first is the Colinette throw, known as Perugino II, which I'll tell you about next time. You'll be amazed when you see how big it's grown. The second is my Basil sweater, knit in Rowan Summer Tweed. See that green V-neck jumper on the left! We're making that, but in popcorn yellow. Summer Tweed is a fairly luxurious silk/wool mix.

I've been working hard on this when I want a break from Perugino. Because I don't have any socks to play with, whenever I want to knit something I have to choose one of my WIPs and they are really benefiting. At the time of writing I've knit both sleeves of Basil and about half the back.

My mum came to visit this weekend, so I enlisted her help winding my remaining skeins of Summer Tweed into balls. We had great fun with the swift and ball winder.

I love a freshly-wound ball of yarn. That buttery yellow is a dream.

I'm going to need to start blocking sooner than I thought! The race is on now, between this and Perugino II Which will pass the finish line first?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Why are you here? Update

Everyone, thank you again for your thoughtful and caring comments in reply to Why are you here?

It was nearly impossible to pick out the winner as you were all so helpful! I've learned something from everyone. After deep thought and consideration, I'm going to say: ContinentalCat please email me your name and address to beelzebubknits AT hotmail DOT co DOT uk, so I can send you some sock yarn. Your comments about doing the blog round on Ravelry were something I hadn't anticipated and wouldn't have figured out without your help. Thank you.

And by the way, dear readers, there'll be more opportunities to win stuff in the future, so do watch this space.

I love you all.


The Friday Night Knitting Club

I am on the road again, this time around the UK. I started in Birmingham, then went to Newcastle for a few days, then Liverpool and right now I'm in York. I am tired.

All this travelling is not brilliant for knitting (or blogging) but I am getting some reading done. I've just finished The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. It's currently being produced as a movie, starring Julia Roberts, to be released in 2008. Would you like to hear about it?

I'm afraid I can't give this the same glowing review that I gave Charmed Knits the other week. The best thing I can say about it is that it will easily translate into a movie. It actually feels like an idea for a movie that somehow got turned into a novel first, which was possibly a mistake. The movie is destined to be a weepie. A chick-flick weepie starring Julia Roberts. Does that tell you everything you need to know about the movie? It does me. Let's put it this way: I'll tune in when it eventually makes it on to the TV but I won't be rushing to the cinema. This is not Pedro Almodovar, not by a long chalk.

OK, so, the novel. It's about the emotional ups and downs of a bunch of women who congregate at a NYC LYS and make friends there, despite their individual differences. Everyone eventually either finds romance (yawn) or gets in touch with her true, inner self (double yawn). The writing is poor, I struggled to get through it and would have abandoned it half way through except I'd already planned to write about it here so I felt obliged to finish it. The dialogue is horribly unnatural and stilted, so let's hope a screenwriter can fix that before it hits the big screen. There are too many exclamation points. Kate Jacobs may feel it makes a sentence more exciting to stick an exclamation mark on the end! But I don't! See what I mean! The plot is full of unlikely events and inconsistent details that undermine the credibility of the story. I basically didn't believe it. When reading a novel, you want to believe in the characters and get lost in the plot. You don't want to feel like taking out the red pen and editing out the crap. Sorry, Kate.

Maybe we shouldn't blame Kate, but rather her editor. This is KJ's first novel and it feels like a first draft. With another 12 months of work it might have been better. Or maybe not. There's no substance to TFNKC at all, just a long, emotional wallow. It's a bit like one long episode of Friends but without the jokes.

One last thing: The Friday night knitting club. Really? Let's think about this practically for a moment. If you owned a yarn store and you wanted to start a knitting club, would you pick Friday night? Of course not, you'd have to be determined to make it fail. Friday and Saturday are the two nights of the week when people are almost certain to be doing something else. Particularly in Manhattan. It's exactly this kind of thing that renders the credibility of the novel shaky. To take another example, the owner of the LYS in the book has had her shop mentioned, briefly, once, in a magazine. Yet everyone she meets seems to have read it *and* remembered it. In real life, the more likely scenario would be that the woman would work her ass off getting her shop mentioned here and there and yet *no-one* she met would have read or remembered it. Earth to Kate Jacobs: we don't believe you.

Still tempted to buy it and read it? Don't say I didn't warn you. I'm giving it 2 out of 10. Published by Hodder, a complete waste of £6.99.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

New design: blueprint takes shape

As you can see, the crude ideas of Monday are taking on a more organised appearance. I'm staying up far too late tonight, pondering the best way to plan the set-in sleeves. Click on the images to see them enlarged.

Monday, November 05, 2007

OK, let's design a sweater

Thank you so much for your comments in reply to Why are you here? I'm going to leave the question open for a bit longer, so iif you've yet to speak up, let it roll.

In the meantime, I hear you. We like design, so without further ado, let's design something. I should acknowledge that this might not be the absolute best time to start designing a sweater as I have just necked a large glass of wine and it's really kicking in - but we shall not let that hold us back. I'll have what Jackson Pollock's having.

The two main contenders from my recent design-fest are these:

The red/pink one is a wrapover, so the main decision there is what to do about the wrapover bit at the front. I could:
  1. join the red and pink pieces of fabric at the side seam, which would be relatively simple but result in a double layer of material over the abdomen - not that flattering Or,
  2. join the red and pink pieces of fabric at the point where they meet, so that they merely appear to cross over but in fact form a single layer of fabric. More flattering, harder to design.

The other sweater, the red/yellow one, is more of a challenge because of those two circular shapes that will form the bolero part. I'm deliberately not looking at the pattern for Myrna by White Lies to see how they do it. I'll figure out the best way on my own.

Hmm, it looks like we might be starting with the red/pink one, doesn't it.

I'd really prefer to have it all as a single layer of fabric if I can so that means I'll need to draw a schematic to work out what shape the front pieces need to be. I know! Let's design the back and the sleeves first and do the difficult bit last.

The yarn: I'm thinking something like Rowan 4-ply Cotton, although I could be tempted into a cotton/synthetic blend. Four-ply because it will yield a finer, drapier fabric than DK. Cotton because of the sharp colours, the crisp stitch definition and the relatively easy care. 28sts and 38 rows to 10cm.

The outline of the sweater is fairly simple, if you look at it from the back, it's a round-neck sweater with set-in sleeves. I want it close-fitting around the bust so I'm going to design this with precisely zero ease (especially because it's cotton, no spring or memory in the fabric and we can't have it going all saggy). I'm going to design the sample size for a 36" bust (no prizes for guessing why). Here are some initial plans for the garment. I'm thinking nice and long, tunic length.

And that's all for tonight, I am too wazzed for any more sums. Let's talk again on Wednesday.