Every day, in every way, I’m getting better

At least, that is what Frank said that his mother always told him.

It would seem my colourwork has been improving. my first attempt at a properly stranded, in-the-round item was Eunny Jang’s Endpaper Mittens in October 2007. At first i found holding yarn in my left hand a real problem, especially as I was knitting English style in my right and continental in the left. It felt less awkward eventually and I even went on to knit a pair for my sister afterwards.

Eunny’s pattern is great and I wore the mittens most of that winter. I started to wear them this winter (just gone. Going? still here? who knows?) and took them on tour to Germany for a few days. In fact, I am almost certain they made it to most of the Blackforest and back, but for some reason they preferred Terminal 5 to my house, and only one came home :0(

So eventually I started and finished the replacement in February. Woo! my FO rate is improving. And so is my stranded knitting.

So much so, that my gague is looser! *(#&*($&*@(#$! (the newer, more annoying one is on top)

its actually far too loose although I didn’t notice it until I had done the thumb gusset and was past the point of no return. There is one less pattern repeat between the thumb and the ribbing to make sure they ended up roughly the same length. The pragmatic angel on my shoulder says, ‘its fine, they work, the untrained eye will never see the difference, they are mittens of gorgeous lovelyness’. But the perfectionist Devil on the other says ‘Madwoman, re-knit it to match AT ONCE!! before it drives you insane with its un-matchyness!’

What would you do?

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Sooooooo…..

Well here are my latest efforts. I’ve added some hexagons from a new yarn: Shelridge Farm Ultra Touch Handpaints. This stuff is amazing. At 6 quid a skein, its affordable and the fabric it knits up is just wonderful.

Shelridge Farm Hexagon

Shelridge Farm Hexagon

Actually, I bought it at Socktopus in Chelsea. That shop is such a find! I spotted it on Ysolda’s blog last year, but didn’t get round to doing anything about it until a month ago. I sing more or less once a month at a gig round the corner from there so left extra time before the soundcheck to peruse.

At the time the yarn didn’t really have fond memories (apart from that of finding the shop in the first place!) but someone remarked on how beautiful the colours were and was taken ill very shortly afterwards. So, this is a lovely reminder of him. His recovery won’t be rapid but maybe I’ll knit him some socks using it.

A few other pics:

I also picked this up recently at a Brighton market:

I’m not usually into ‘pretty’ things, but I love the collar on this and even the lace is nice. Have I suddenly turned into a girly girl?

So, I’m Back!

Knitted Hexagon Blanket

Hopefully not to any great trumpets or fanfares… This is purely for me. To keep a record of all the things I’m doing. I’ve been rubbish the last year or so, for various reasons, life just exploded on me. And Ravelry of course affected all things knitting, so I never really got round to posting anything on this page.

Anyway, my knitting has gathered pace: I’ve started to get into the swing of finishing projects, mostly because they’re intended as presents for people. I’ll post pictures of new stuff later, but for the time being I want to upload my current project, the real reason why I’m posting again…

Blue knitted hexagon

That’s right. I’m being highly original and knitting myself a blanket.

I’m using up mostly any DK I’ve got in my stash, but most 4ply held double works if I use the right needle. I’m finding it peculiarly satisfying, I’ve noticed the urge to nest recently. Not sure why, maybe just a part of growing up, or even growing down as some people would put it.

There is something restful about having a project to return to, something that is always there to provide interest. Its particularly nice because as I include new hexagons, each different yarn reflects a different story or episode. So the blue you can see here is from my first foray into designing – the remains of some top-down baby hats I knitted at Christmas (in RYC DK merino), often a bit fuzzy after something fizzy.

Pink knitted hexagon

The pink is from my first ball of Manos Del Uruguay from my favourite LYS, and I have very fond memories of it: Boxing Day 2008 I sat with some friends from New Zealand watching a NZ flick and some pavlova (very Kiwi dessert, so they tell me), knitting myself a scarflette.

Green knitted hexagon

The green is some Cascade 220 from Loop, and was purchased to make a present for a new, very dear friend and his daughter.

So this blanket is probably going to take me most of this year (can’t see that i would want to knit a wool blanket in the Summer) but will hopefully be a labour of love. I’ll post pictures periodically to keep up my interest and motivate me to finish, and I will do my best to tell the stories that fit each shape…

Knitted Hexagon Blanket

oh well

Well, I’ve already failed in my aim to post every day, but I have been discovering some wonderful new things everyday:

Flight of the Conchords. Possibly the funniest thing I’ve seen since the Mighty Boosh (which was about 4 years ago now). Go check them out.

iKnit. Possibly the best knitting shop I’ve been to. Ever. Its more about the location and the atmosphere of the shop, although they have a fantastic range of bamboo needles and yarns. If you can get to Vauxhall train station, you should pay them a visit.

Sweet Paul. Possibly the best food photography sight I’ve seen (but I’ve only seen his). There are some very inspiring photos of cakes on there. Do you need to know more?

Cupcake Bakeshop. Possibly the best baking site I’ve seen. This crazy woman does nothing but post about cupcakes with wacky tastes and colours.

And I’ve started knitting this:

Convertible

Its called convertible and you can find it on http://www.knitty.com. Its a gorgeous lace shawl which can be buttoned in a variety of ways. It’ll be perfect for me if I can knit enough repeats without frogging it too many times, but its been a b*gger to start. I’ve used a provisional cast-on as the yarn I’m using is much more fine than the original and I’m not sure I’ll have enough, so I figured this way I can always add more to the ends. There are some gorgeous examples on Ravelry too.  Anyway, enough of my ranting, its late – I apologise if this post seems incoherent! night.

excitable

Ever been so excited about how close you are to finishing a pattern that you just have to keep going until the end?

It doesn’t happen to me very often, but its a little like reading a book you really love – most recently it was the last of the Northern Lights trilogy. Well anyway, I’ve recently started Ysolda’s  Gretel. I completely miscounted the tubular cast on and got 3/4 of the way through before realising I had to frog it back. Anyway, I cast on again a couple of days ago and basically stayed up until around 3am finishing it. Perhaps it was the challenges the hat had to offer – learning how to cable without a third needle, a tubular cast on blah blah. It made me realise that the reason I stop halfway through so many projects is because they aren’t challenging enough, or perhaps, interesting enough. There simply isn’t enough reward in continuing. Its also made me wonder if that applies in other areas of my life. Anyway, has anyone else had the same problem or found the same solution? Has anyone found a different solution?

so here’s the thing…

Lickety Split in progress

It wasn’t quite a cat that caused the mayhem of a couple of days ago. I was in the mood to knit something not-too-taxing and rather than go through the rigmarole of starting a new thing I decided to dig out an old project. Hence, the lickety split socks from the Knitty website.

Remembering they were probably in the ole wool stash I grabbed what I could see of it and pulled. It didn’t come out instantly and as I was tired didn’t stop to think that I should probably investigate further before pulling anymore. And thus, the mess was born. And, thanks Janabanana for the tip about the clear shoe hanger, I might try that one.

I’ve actually knitted the left sock already but as I’m in the house on my own at the moment I can’t get a decent enough picture of it on my foot. However, here are the toes of the right sock. You start knitting the big toe with an invisible cast on and then leave it to one side, then you start the rest of the toe and join the rest together. Anyway, knitting from the toe up means you can try it on as you go, making it easier to gague your size.

Well, I’ve got some last minute teaching that’s just rolled in so I have to head off and prepare.

How did it get so bad?

There comes a point in every knitters life when it is time to deal with that wool stash and tonight was that night. Jeez. I inevitably got the scissors out at one point, but didn’t have to cut too much. Wool stash

What a nightmare

Feeling Glam

After more than a little umm-ing and ahhh-ing I finally caved. I’ve been putting it off for a good few months, trying to rise above it all and remind myself that it would be no better second time around. However, under the pressure of boredom and the early onset of a varicose vein (vain, moi?) I finally cracked. I bought what today’s youth (ie. those of us younger than 27) call ‘footless tights’.

Now pardon me for being past it, but when I was younger we used to call these garments Leggings (we also used to call Hip Hop ‘Rap’ but that’s a whole other thing). Big black stretchy things full of that new-fangled lycra which still seemed to go baggy at the knees after one wear and if you added fat black elastic to the cuffs, could be termed ‘ski-pants’. However, this winter there has been a number of gorgeous dresses and tunics cut so short it was only possible to wear them with said tights. In the end it was my possession of a burnt orange tunic from Katharine Walker that did it for me. It was an absolute bargain and I love it so, but I just can’t wear it bare-legged or even flesh-stockinged-legged.

So I glammed up for a gig on Thursday night and went 80’s on my bad self. Big hair, footless leggings, red dress, gold stretchy belt, dangly earrings and tall black courts. In fact, the boys in the band liked it so it obviously wasn’t too fashion-forward. But enough about all this.

Stay with me here, there is a reference to knitting at the bottom of all this. The reason I was chatting about all this cr*p was because I’ve come over all eighties – think Alison Goldfrapp. I’m not quite old enough to remember it all first time round but its growing on me. I am in fact, desperate to knit this bolero on the Knitty website for myself for the summer. Yes I know I said I should finish my other projects first but this one is just so beautiful. No? And it would fit in with my slightly new wardrobe sensibility perfectly…

hand finished

It would seem that knitting and crochet exacerbate my poor wounded finger so I have to find some other one-handed crafting activity.

SO I’ve started the lining/interlining for that glitzy tie I posted a few days ago. This tie has turned out to be a little more labour-intensive than i thought. Hmm. Maybe next time I’ll knock one up in a heavier yarn with a textured stitch. Anyway, I’ve used some more of that satin-back crepe from my knitting needle cases and just to stiffen it, I’ve also added a bit of iron-on hair canvas. It’ll have to be stitched by hand to the knitted piece. Just to make sure it all stays in place I’m putting a bit of visible hand-stitching on it (again, I’m sorry about the photo, I’m perplexed about its size):

glitzytiereverse.jpg

I’ve got the time, and Miss Marple is on telly. Now that was a woman who knew how to knit!

On the cooking front, I’m mid-way through a 3-day sourdough rye loaf. I mixed a cup of rye flour with a cup of water last night and then added exactly the same thing again this morning. The idea is the dough mix picks up natural yeasts in the air (or something like that) and ferments itself. You then use this as a starter for the bread dough which I will knock up tomorrow, except its going to take ages! It has to be left for 3 hours to rise… If I’m lucky I might be finished in time for the repeats of Cagney & Lacey, I’ve found it perfect watching-whilst-crafting material, along with Diagnosis Murder and Midsomer Murders…not that I watch these things regularly… *blush*

Surely other people watch Detectives on telly whilst knitting?

Goof Friday

I say that because today, whilst being family-spirited (I volunteered to cook the fish for good friday this year) I ended up slicing the top of my finger off. Because I was close to fainting Dad ended up cooking dinner whilst I barked orders from inbetween my knees and all the while Mum the former surgical nurse bandaged me up. Mum remarked in her subtle way that we’ll always remember the first time she ate Monkfish. I’m now walking around like I stuck my finger into a tub of dairylea…

I apologise now for any spelling mistakes. I’m a touchtyper and am VERY frustrated that I am reduced to 9 digits.

Anyhoo, I went for a lovely walk along the Thames to Ham House in the spring sunshine this morning and was happy to see so many blossoming trees even if hayfever is early this year as a result. AND I managed to turn this :

pict1577.jpg

into this:

pict1586.jpg

Knitting Needle Cases! (let me know if you want instructions but they’re fairly straightforward) The one on the left is from an old curtain that hung in my Gran’s house in the 50’s. The fabric on the right is an Amy Butler print, the name escapes me. They’re both lined with some low-fi satin-back crepe I bought from E-bay a while back, and the ribbon I found whilst tidying my wool stash. I didn’t realise there is an entirely separate stash in one of the other bedrooms… I thought I could make this pom pom rug from ‘Craftivity’ with it. Its written by a woman called Tsia Carson, who runs the wonderful applied design website www. supernaturale.com. Go check it out.

Now to get hold of that book