Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A bit of panicky pre-Xmas knitting

Hello dearies!

I am alive and knitting. Because we are well into December I have realised that I need to get my shit together ahead of Xmas. I did nearly all my Xmas shopping online I think it was yesterday, and I just have a few knitting and sewing projects that need to be finished - and in some cases, begun - in time to put things in the post. Should be no problem, right? HA HA HA HA HA.

The one I'm panicking about the most is as follows. A business associate of mine had a baby girl, ages ago actually, and I promised I would knit something for her. Naturally I came over all ambitious and the first thing I tried to knit was an extremely fiddly intarsia dress from one of those hellish Vogue knitting books. Here is how far I got. Excuse the horrible photos. I have no longer got time to mess about taking nice ones.

It is four-ply yarn and incredibly splitty. I don't really like that shade of pink (it's much less horrible in real life but still looks like boiled ham). Worst of all, that little bit you see there took absolutely forever. I am really not joking. I pulled it out the night before last and realised I didn't have a hope in hell of finishing it this year.

I decided to start on an alternative baby project. Something QUICK. Because I am a complete fool, I thought 'quick' could still include four ply knitting but maybe this time I could do Fair Isle instead of intarsia. See how stupid I am? As though I can knock out a 4 ply Fair Isle cardigan in one night or something. I spent the whole of last night knitting, until about 2am, and came up with this:

I did not stop because it was 2am and I was making fearfully slow progress, oh no. I stopped because I realised my tension was off. The Fair Isle section was way too tight, there was no way it was going to stretch around a baby. Went to bed in despair.

Got up this morning and went to work, feeling worried. That's when I remembered my Emergency Baby Project that I keep at the office. It is a super-simple and small basketweave baby blanket. It is DK weight yarn on 4mm needles. It is in not very attractive pink acrylic but hey, this is an emergency. I took it out and had a look at it. Not bad. Managed to do a bit of work on it while doing some work related reading this afternoon. I think this is what the baby is getting. No time left for messing around. This is simple to make. Bang it out, give it a wash when done and thread a ribbon through the eyelets around the outer edge. Will have to do. Is just about achieveable within the time.

It will look a bit nicer than this when finished, I promise. Well anyway. Even if it doesn't, that's what I'm making. I am now glad that I keep emergency easy projects at the office.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Knitting 101

I wish I had seen this when I was first learning to knit. So helpful.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Autumn Hat & Scarf for Joe

I have knitted very industriously this week. Joe's Autumn Scarf is in the Finishing Basket already. It is made of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran which I know is prone to pilling so it will need a shave every once in a while - just like Joe, heh heh. It is so soft and cosy. It needs a light blocking to make the woven-in ends settle down and also the yellow fringe needs trimming because it is very slightly longer than the oatmeal-coloured end. Here it is!

I've also made a start on the hat.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Beelzebub lives

Hey everyone, I bet you thought I'd been eaten by moths didn't you. Well, I live on and I am still knitting. Here's a quick news update.

I still have moths. They are the bane of my existence. I think it says something that when I sat knitting at my desk last night, I was extremely surprised that not even one came fluttering around my lamp and monitor. I am forever dropping my knitting and clapping my hands, trying to kill them. Sometimes I succeed. I think all the practise is giving me faster reflexes. The one good thing about the onset of winter is that the little fuckers will go into hibernation for a few months. I still have not managed to pinpoint whatever part of my clothing or yarn stash they are using for food, and since they are not living on fresh air, that is a lovely surprise that still awaits me.

Sunshine Sweater
The Sunshine Sweater is coming along! It is synthetic yarn so I don't fear that the moths will eat it. As you can see from these rough photos taken just now, the front and back are knitted and the neckline has been attached. I am now working on the sleeves. That red yarn is temporary and gets taken out later, you'll be glad to know.
I have recently lost some weight and if I keep that up then I should be able to fit into this sweater in due course. I am excited by the thought of being able to fit into sweaters that I bought the yarn for back when I was a skinny size 10.

Joe's Autumn Scarf

Since the moths arrived I've been very keen to reduce my stash and I've had quite a lot of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran hanging around in bags and boxes for a long time, so I am turning it into a cosy scarf for Joe. Possibly I may make him a hat and gloves to go with, we'll have to see. This is a single rib scarf and I think it will eventually have 11 blocks of colour in it. It is coming along well.

In other news, I'm making a slightly unpleasant acrylic pram blanket which is at the office, for those times when I need some absolutely brainless knitting to get me through a long phone meeting, and I have made a little tiny bit of progress on that Jalapeno sweater that I've been working on for about three years.

I bought a couple of knitting books recently and I have plans for new projects! Specially now that I'm keen to use up my wool stash.

Okay, so the first book that I bought is this one by the marvellous Nicky Epstein:

I bought it because I have been thinking for a long time about making a blanket. When I saw this book in Waterstone's I was initially attracted by those fabulous looking blocks on the front cover and even more attracted when I saw that inside there's a pattern for making a spectacular blanket called the Academic Blanket that uses those blocks. It is really something else, look:

I can't wait to make it and am totally obsessing about what yarn to use as I work on Joe's scarf. I can see that there are a few aspects of this blanket that need taking very seriously if you want it to look as good as this dramatic picture. Firstly, the yarn has to be perfect. It has to be lovely quality with perhaps the very slightest hint of a sheen. The colours have to be extremely subdued. The colours have to be perfectly balanced, for instance if those plain-knit panels are too bright you will throw the whole design off kilter. The sewing-together has to be perfect. Finally, the various 3D motifs have to be plenty large enough to fill the whole block that they're attached to and they have to be exactly, perfectly placed. Going wrong in any one of these aspects will result in something like a large, lumpy dishcloth. I therefore deduce that this is in fact an extremely difficult blanket and not for the non-perfectionist.

As if that were not enough, there is a most delightful bag in the same book that is made of blocks with giant wheel-shaped ruffles attached to them. I love it so much and want to make one for my sister, it is just her sort of thing. So I hope to have pictures of one or both of those projects to show you in due course.

The other book I bought was this:

I have decided there's no reason why I can't have a shawl. They do look a bit funny with jeans, possibly, but I don't have to wear jeans all the time, do I. I wished I had one the other day when it was not cold enough for a jacket but just a little too cool for my light top. If I chose a neutral colour and a nice shape then I'd get lots of occasions of wear out of it, day-to-evening sort of thing, as well as being able to use it at home. This book has lots of lovely shawl patterns which I'm enjoying browsing. I want something big but not blanket-sized, probably rectangular (I'm less keen on the triangular ones where a point hangs down in the back) and possibly with a fancy edge. We'll have to wait and see.

That's all my knitting news for today! I am glad to be back and I'm looking forward to lots of knitting now that the summer is drawing to a close.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Terrific. I have moths. Isn't that just fantastic.

I had to go and buy a vacuum cleaner, I thought I wouldn't need one again because I've got rid of all but one rug in favour of hard floors.

I wonder where they are making their home, the little buggers. In what corner of my enormous yarn stash. Fantastic. So that's what I'm doing for the next several months. Obsessively cleaning and waging war on moths.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Sunshine Sweater

Right then, here's what I'm making. I'm calling it the Sunshine Sweater because its real name is just a long string of numbers. Number 486-T7-517, to be precise. It is from the Phildar Women's spring/summer collection of 2008 and that's how long the yarn has been in my stash. I think I mentioned that I wanted a non-wool yarn to knit with, and this is ideal. Phildar Sillages is 100% acrylic, a very light, loosely-woven acrylic tape, soft as a cloud. Here is the model shot of the Sunshine Sweater, from the Phildar catalogue.
__________________________... .

I am a bit unsure about sizing, having been bitten by Phildar patterns before, so I will play it carefully and keep measuring and in the meantime I'm following the pattern instructions for the largest size I can make out of the 11 balls of yarn that I have.

Here's where I'm up to, making nice quick progress on 6mm needles.

Friday, April 01, 2011

I feel like knitting something.

Hello everyone! I have been away from my knitting for a while. I have been thoroughly cleaning my house, entertaining guests, learning new skills and taking up new hobbies, and it has all kept me very busy. My new interests include exercise (gasp!! both metaphorically and IRL) and this gives me hope that I'll eventually be a nicer shape and able to model handknits more attractively. So that is perhaps why I feel motivated to knit a nice jumper of some description. I shall go and look in my patterns and stash right now. I've just realised it will have to be nearly or completely free from wool, as my poor skin is very sensitive just at the moment and I don't want to aggravate it further until it has recovered a bit. I shall be back shortly with news.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Smiley Culture dies while being visited at home by the police.

Departed 15 March 2011.

Much loved and sadly missed. There is an inquiry into the highly suspicious circumstances of his death.

The bereaved Emanuel family held a press conference in Brixton on 17 March, viewable here.

Blog of Lee Jasper, stalwart campaigner for social justice and racial equality, who helped the family at the press conference, covers the morning's events.

Family press conference covered by The Guardian here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Strawberries & Cream Tea Cosy

Lovely. Wanted to make this as soon as I saw it. Knitting magazine, issue 76. For some reason it took me ages to find a cream, mostly-synthetic, aran-weight yarn! Crazy! Glad I persevered as it turned out beautifully. The red yarn for the strawberries is DK weight and the green yarn is 4ply.

Tea & Cakes: Victoria Sponge

I have recently acquired a delightful cake stand. I am actually trying to eat less cake, so I am going to fill it with knitted and crocheted cakes instead. Here's the first item: a hefty slice of Victoria sponge. The pattern is Happy Birthday in Simply Knitting issue 40.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wet blocking the Debut Crochet Scarf

I knew wet-blocking was going to be a good idea. That fabric is much more open than it was.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Caroline's Socks: finally ready to go in the post.

Socks always look so nice and fluffy after blocking.

For The Horde Tea Cosy: live model shots


I have just learned to crochet! I have made lots of previous attempts but they were beyond hopeless. The thing is, I look at Twinkie Chan's work, and I look at amigurumi and I can see that crochet is something I need and want to do. So I had another go last Sunday and it suddenly clicked! I made a granny square that came out square, look!

After that, there was no stopping me. I took three balls of Gedifra Riana Big in green and some Rowan Big Wool in pink, and knocked up a version of the so-called One-Skein Scarf from the Stitch'n'Bitch crochet book. The flower, which I haven't attached yet because I haven't decided how I want the scarf to look, is from the Garden Scarf pattern in the same book.

I am going to wet-block this scarf and I hope that doing so will open up the fabric, as it is quite a pleasing mesh when you stretch it out. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beautiful knitted objects

Look at these beautiful tea cosies. That's what I'm doing this evening. This is Carmen Miranda:

and this is Elfin:

Loani Prior is so clever. I have other things I could be doing this evening, but I am drooling over her designs. More amazing designs are on her blog.

I am also very interested in Log Cabin blankets, which are knitted or crocheted in large blocks. There's a nice one in shades of pink, wine, olive and beige in the February issue of Simply Knitting magazine.

Also on my radar: Twinkie Chan, who crochets extraordinary wearable food.

What fun! Awesome designs. A square tissue box cover that looks like a big hunk of lemon coconut cake! A hat that looks like a cupcake with blue icing. A scarf that looks like it's made from halves of pink grapefruit. This alone is a reason to learn to crochet. If I never crochet anything else, these items will be enough.

Finally, I must talk about amigurumi. Look at these creatures. A red octopus, a delightful hermit crab, and that's an angler fish you see in brown at the bottom there.

All these animals are knitted. I love their charm and their utter lack of function. Pure art.

Monday, January 17, 2011

For The Horde

Ooh, I like tea cosies. This one bears the noble Horde symbol, as any dedicated World of Warcrafter will know. I'll show another pic when all the ends are weaved in and it is sewn up & adorning a tea pot.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Look, a tea cosy

Happy New Year everyone! I have been spring cleaning my house and when it was all tidy and my tables were clear, I felt motivated to get the tea things out instead of making tea in a mug in the kitchen like I normally do. And then I thought, what is a tea tray without a tea cosy? Here is one. I knitted it from the Poppy pattern in the Jan 2011 edition of Let's Knit magazine.

I thought long and hard about type of yarn, and eventually settled on acrylic because I want to be able to chuck my tea cosies in the washing machine when they get tea on them. This cosy is made from Hayfield Bonus DK, two strands held together, because I didn't have any aran-weight.