Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Just as if...

...I don't have enough to do, I have joined a Knit Along! I know: mad.

Y'see, the thing is, despite a general lack of progress on most fronts - life, work, knitting, you name it - the one single individual item that I am making almost brainless, stocking stitch progress on, is my Rowan Calmer, Knitting Nature Phyllo Yoked Jumper.

At the moment it is just piles of stocking stitch hanging around on needles that I am quietly adding to with each commute to and from work.

However, I do have the feeling that I am going to hit a technique brick wall very soon. Hence the Knit Along - I may need help from those who have trodden this path before me.

There are errata sheets for the Knitting Nature Book. However, being the kind of woman I am, I have done the research, downloaded the errata sheets....but not looked at them.
Yes, quietly and diligently knitting fullsteam towards an iceburg that others have encountered, while ignoring the wreckage in the water. That concern aside, I am with Loubie-loops on the Knitting Nature book front - I really like it.

It's one of the first collections that I have come across with a central, thought out theme and a backbone of principles behind the patterns. It feels like it has been approached using a designer-maker methodology that I semi-recognise. I like the way that some of the garments are constructed - it makes a refreshing change to flick through the patterns and find a challenge to the standard T-shaped top diagram. Plus I like the way that it encourages the idea of exploring the theme for yourself. I think that is enough likes for one evening!

No other progress to report - I need to confess that Real Life is interferring with Blogging, Emailing and Knitting. How dare it?!

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Another first...

The landscape scarf blocking worked! I have to confess that I got distracted over Easter by the other exciting things I wanted to do or start - so naturally enough, nothing was completed!

As you can see above, the landscape scarf sits neatly folded, awaiting its ribbon and bead adornment.

I have made myself stop on my sister's scarf- it is getting too long! I just need to complete it by threading on some beads and knitting them into the last the 20 rows. I really hope that she likes it - right now, I am still not convinced.

All of my other projects are in various states of disarray! This brings me to my next first - I move from blocking to ripping - I am so disappointed. I cast on my cream silk over Easter and I was feeling quite proud of my progress.

I had a couple of days off which encouraged both knitting in bed with a cup of tea in the mornings (while listening to the footsteps of the rest of the world scurrying into work) and knitting in front of the tv at night.

It was with great excitement that I reached the armhole shaping for the back. Yes, this is where the instructions very casually mentioned that it ought to measure 21cm. I reached for the tape measure... hmm, 26 cm.

I scanned the overall garment dimensions with deliberate calm. Yet instead of measuring a demure 22" across the bottom of the back, my piece was a rather robust 25", barely stretched.

That happens to be a little more ease than I require - I certainly intend it to be far more ease than I require by the time summer arrives as I am back on the food waggon - stricto dieto!

My mistake? Substituted yarn, I checked gauge using a sample that I knitted for the summer wrap (in stocking stitch, rather than in the cardigan rib) and I didn't stop to check measurements. I made a similiar mistake quite recently - you would think that I might learn!

I seem to lose tension when working in rib, so while the piece is beautifully soft, it has no 'bounce back' quality so it is loopy, floppy - and big. In fact, when I held it up against myself, it looked awful, like a ropey cotton dishcloth like you buy in a supermarket.

I have wrestled with the quen of "Do I stick with the same needle size (4mm) and simply knit a smaller size, or do I start again with 3.75m needles?" - but to be honest, I am put off.

Put off the pattern, put off how the silk looks ribbed against me, put off reworking the back.

Such a waste, just think how much further along my phyllo yoked Knitting Nature jumper would be if I had expended all that knitting effort on ploughing on with my Rowan Calmer!

So it needs to be ripped out - once it is out, I suspect that I might not start it again.

So I am back to square one. I need to find a pattern that will suit the silk (and me) - simple, elegant yet interesting to knit - any ideas?! In the meantime, here it is for you to see:

RIP Angelica - Long Live Cream Silk!

In the meantime, the back of my Knitting Nature purple phyllo yoked jumper is sitting on a needle, the front is progressing neatly yet slowly, commute by commute and the sleeves are just a promise hidden in the neat balls of yarn waiting in plastic wrapped rows.

I-want-to-get-past-all-of-the-stocking-stitch-and-onto-the-interesting-bits which involve a lace pattern and construction techniques that I have not used before!

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

My first ever blocking attempt begins!

It is fair to say that the conditions are not ideal but if you do not have the correct tools and cannot find somewhere that sells them: improvise!

With this concept firmly in mind, I am delighted to tell you that my ironing board is out in my back yard, covered with a black binliner.

Dully squirted with cold water, stretched and pinned to this surface is the thank you gift scarf (see left) that I want to flatten a bit and then cheer up with some velvet ribbon and beads.

Even the birds seem intrigued when I appeared in the garden. I must confess, in the true manner of a 'bodge-it' merchant, I did empty a stainless steel surface cleaner spray bottle in order to spray the scarf with cold water. In my defence, I did rinse it thoroughly but the water does still smell of it a bit (cringe) I hope that it doesn't do anything horrible to the wool!

So now I'm indoors, trying to work out how on earth to put together the beads that my colleague picked out last week. I know what I had in mind but she's chucked in a couple of extras that have thrown my idea completely! That said, I think that I have come up with a way to work them!

So here you go - two photos of my first blocking attempt in progress...!

Saturday, 7 April 2007

I do knit too

Just in case you think that I only buy yarn and never knit - I am knitting but I am just not at a point where it is worth showing what I am doing in detail - currently, on the go:

Photo One: Landscape and Creams

a) River Wrap - Kidsilk Haze: it's a tale of woe. It started out as a commute knit. Just when I thought that I had the logic pegged...I made the mistake of trying to knit on my way home from work very late one evening when I was very tired (and fed up). My error was obvious. When I tried to rip it out, I couldn't seem to get the right number of stitches back on my needles. I put it to one side, thinking to tackle it when I was fresh...

...and each time I go back to it, look at my notes to see where I am, I cannot work it out! So it sits on my cupboard, winking at me. Sad but true, I may need to rip it out completely and start again. I am thinking of charting the pattern because I seem to see the logic and can track my progress more accurately when things are set out visually, rather than in a long sequence of 'do this, do that' instructions.

b) Scarf - Zitron Unikat Felting (Farbe 06): a commute knit for a colleague. She really liked a scarf that I knitted in the same colourway for my brother at Christmas. Naturally enough (not wanting to knit the same thing twice) I haven't made another version of the scarf she admired, I have done something different...wince, I hope that she likes it!

It's curling, so I want to try blocking it and then customising it with velvet ribbon and beads. I have never blocked anything before and I have read all of the warnings about rusty pins, so trying to track down some proper supplies.

It was fun in the week - I've told my colleague that the scarf is a birthday gift for my sister. So I got her to come with me in our lunch hour to help me choose the beads for it... ...so at least, I hope to have got that part right?!

c) Angelica Cardigan - Jaegar DK Silk: Okay I cast this on last night. It's from the RYC Summer Book 19 - Mother and Baby - no, not expecting. No, do not have children. I just liked the shape of the pattern and thought it would be interesting to knit. Also, I justified the book purchase on the basis that it is always useful to have children's patterns knocking around for those friends with lives more organised than my own - yes, those friends with bumps, babies and toddlers.

In my head, I see myself wearing this in July over a camisole, with simple cut linen trousers or something. So if you think that I am a 36 year old committing a mumsy folly - speak up now before I get any further!

If you do though, please provide other project ideas that would fit 12x 125m balls of DK silk (ideally, something that I can wear until the silk crumbles into dust or I pour red wine over it)! I had intended this yarn originally for a summer evening wrap but when I did my tension square I realised that it would be more like a summer blanket than a wrap. The weight of it is too heavy for the project that I had in mind - so I am going to switch yarn direction on that project and use something much lighter.

Photo 2: Purples and Blue

a) Debbie Bliss Quick Baby Knits - Rowan Glace Cotton: light blue summer jumper for a 1 year old, badly past its deadline. It is not quite abandoned (I cannot say the same for the shrug, jumper and two cardigan projects tucked away and musty at the back of my cupboard). The original gift recipient is expecting a sibling in May! So all being well, this jumper is just waiting for the bump to mature (I hereby promise to knit something newborn as well, even if it is simply a hat)!

b) Simple Lace Scarf - DK Wagtail mohair: a commute knit for my sister. It has a beaded trim to cheer it up. I am really not sure about it - just in terms of whether she will like it, as I am not sure that I like it myself. I really found it hard to find a pattern that would leap off the needles and feel right for her.

I had several false starts that I ripped out as I didn't like how the pattern was forming. With scarves, it seems to me that there must be an eternal search for patterns that work well on the back as well as the front.

c) Knitting Nature Jumper - Rowan Calmer: - as this is for me, everything else will get prioritised in front of it but I am almost up to the armhole shaping on the back. I really want to get on past all of the stocking stitch as this jumper has all sorts of circular needle construction techniques at the top that I have not ever tried before. Plus a lace yoke that I am looking forwards to.

In addition to the above, I have a number of other projects queuing for my attention over the summer. In part because they could look great but mostly because they involve a technique that I want to try out. The Knitting Nature Spiral scarf is one of those!

No doubt what I knit will change as new births, birthdays and other knitted item requests come in and take priority! I am sure that you know how it is - also, there is the fact that I was runner up in one of the Purlescence Storyteller Challenges (Alice in Wonderland) and that is a whole new strand of experimentation and fun for me - I'm just waiting to get my entry back so that I can continue working on my ideas, swatches and designs.

Watch this space!

Friday, 6 April 2007

I couldn't help myself...

...I know, I said that it was time to stop stashing and time to start knitting. In fact a colleague has told me to stop buying wool and instead, buy clothes for myself for a month or two - it seems that she has noticed my limited office wardrobe rotation!

But how could I not rescue these two skeins of laceweight cashmere from Posh Yarns, in the exact yardage needed for the Knitting Nature scarf that I want to knit?!

I know, the pattern calls for a more woodlands- landscape colourway and this yarn (titled Buttons) is as close to nature as a bright red Royal Mail postbox. But...I live in a city, sometimes that just needs to be celebrated!

I have in my grasp, the Royal Mail 'Sorry you were out' note which tells me that I missed a 'pink coloured plastic bag'. Today is Good Friday, so no chance that their office will be open but tomorrow, I'll be there, top of the queue, to collect them and then retire to a good coffeeshop to open the bag...

...just how exciting is the prospect of lovely new wool...yarn...fibre...or whatever you want to call it!

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Finished Objects - Limp Offerings Gallery!

Yarn and Pattern:
Touch Yarns - 8ply, 100% wool

Vegetable Ivory (apparently)
Materials Source:
Knit & Stitch, Alexandria Palace 2006
Knitting Location:

Project Duration:

10 Commutes*, Oct-Nov 2006
*1 Commute = 30-35 mins

I love receiving photos of O.R.K.s in action. It's good to know that something I have knitted is appreciated and being used. This jumper is not going to win any knitting technique prizes but somehow the pattern and the yarn caught my attention at a point when I thought that I had long reached saturation point - so I bought them.

Most of the things that I knit are for other people and I only bought a camera at Christmas, so evidence of my past finished objects are few and far between.

I do ask gift recipients to send me a photo of their present in action but there are a number out standing! This means that I have an incomplete record of my work. I have taken some photos with my dodgy camera phone and/or with a throwaway camera - so without further ado, here is the O.R.K. Limp Offerings Gallery (ORKLO?!) - I will add to this page, as I come across photos!

Simple Hat - RYC DK Cashcotton: this is the single item that got me back into knitting properly. Prior to this I had only picked up my needles to make a couple of baby hats. At the time of this photo, my mother did not have any hair and this was the softest yarn that I could find in her favourite colour (green).

I tried to knit her another hat but it looked like a dead rat (really) so I abandoned it!

Hat - Rowan Calmer: knitted for when my mother's hair made its reappearance. However, it turned out like a huge, stretchy orange net bag and she didn't like it. I understand that my aunt has it now, somewhere in the South West of England. Not a total disaster though - I liked the yarn enough to buy more in the same colour - this is what I am using to knit my Phyllo Yoked Jumper now.

Baby Bolero - Debbie Bliss Soho: I modified the pattern as it was for a baby boy, added the star motif and edged it with ribbon as it wasn't baby yarn. I just loved the semi-solid colour and the baby's mother was just far too cool to cart a baby around in pastels!

The Don't Ask Scarf: just don't ask. What possessed me to buy this expensive ball of Feza yarn that resulted in the nastiest, ugliest scarf for my best friend's birthday in December? Not only ugly but too short, so I added some even nastier ends to lengthen it. I am embarassed - still embarassed. Never again. It's a measure of our friendship that she still speaks to me.

The Ubiquituous Corsage: Leaving present for a colleague. Received the most comment on the train:
Are you knitting an eyepatch? Are you knitting mice ears?!
No, I am knitting a corsage.
Oh -why? Good question!

Ribs and Ruffles - Chunky Misti Alpaca - Free One Skein Scarf Pattern: I have knitted three of these scarfs as gifts and they have all been a success. The first one I worked in accordance with the pattern and thought it was a bit mean in dimension, length and ruffle. Luckily, it was an 11 year old's Christmas present (in pale pink of course), so it was perfect. The other two were for adults, I increased their width, length and ruffle. One in a semi-solid pink colour with alpaca/merino chunky yarn from the Natural Dye Studio and the other is the one shown above (2 skeins of Misti Alpaca Chunky), that I made as part of my mother's 60th birthday present. The truest colour representation is on the right. I have to confess, I have 4 more skeins hidden away in my stash - in aubergine and cream. So this year, this scarf may make two more present appearances (unless I make one for myself!)

The Word Gets Out Scarf: the family hear that you can knit. After much mirth and ribbing, youngest brother tentatively asks whether you might knit him a scarf. This is the same yarn as the landscape scarf but knitted sideways in a pseudo rib - looks quite different.

I started a new job at the start of October '06 in central London. I do most of my knitting on the train during my commute to and from work (as I read too quickly to keep myself in books). To date, my tally of completed objects is: 7 scarves, five hats, two baby jumpers and one toddler jumper, not to mention a number of samples to support my Purlesence Storyteller entries!

As you can tell, the majority of my projects are portable although I am branching out into larger pieces as I get faster, more confident and want to challenge myself by learning new techniques.

The one thing that I would really like to do though is a finishing techniques course. For some reason, I am not good at following photos in books and I am conscious that I am bodging things together at the end, which mars the finish of the things that I make.