Sunday, 29 March 2009

Green stripey sock - one down, one to go....

At last I have some progress for you on the green stripey socks. One is done and I just need to get into sock knitting mode to start the other one. The toe up worked really well using the magic loop and Judy's magic cast on so I'll be sticking to that from now on. I did notice on Yarn Harlot's sock summit site, Judy is doing a class on the magic heel which has no picking up of wrapped stitches. A super duper way of doing toe-up heels!!! Hopefully she will publish it soon and Cat Bordhi will make a new video and we can all be knitting perfect toes and heels from now on.

Just a simple 1x1 rib for the top of the sock but maybe I should have stopped on the larger green band as the blue/white edge looks a bit messy not being a more solid colour. We knit and learn:-)

I have spent some time today looking at lace wrap and shawl patterns and have added a few to my 'to-do' list! So far, I'm considering the Shadow Scarf, the woodland shawl, Print o' the wave stole (the link is down at the mo) and Jeanie, from knitty's winter 2007 , a lovely double cabled scarf with floats that looks very interesting. I'm going to practice a few samples before launching into something complex though so I will post as and when they are finished. If you have a lace pattern you could recommend, I would love to hear about it - the more the merrier!

Meanwhile, I have another sock to knit before I suffer from second sock syndrome!!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Magenta Ishbel Beret

At last the magenta Ishbel beret is finished and blocking. This one has really fought me all of the way, I'm telling you. And I was wondering why when the laceweight was such a pleasure to knit. But I think, after a few days taking back lots of botched up knitting, and trying to reknit that I've worked it out.

Everything was fine until I started to decrease. Then I moved down to dpn's as the stitch count got too small for the circular. It seems the YO at the end of the last dpn kept 'dropping' the last stitch and when I went around the lace row, the pattern was out by one stitch. After all the ripping back, I carefully started to re-knit the pattern keeping this in mind and damn if the same thing didn't happen again! Even when I was looking for it! This got to really frustrating levels of crapness by late evening but I persevered and eventually got it cast off. Whew.

So why was the green teal beret not such a pain? Because I used two circulars instead of 4 double pins and the stitches couldn't fall off. Lesson learned.

I made one modification to the band - a picot edge instead of the straight edge. If you want to try it, just substitute the purl row with *YO, K2tog* for the whole row and you get the picot edge when you fold the band over. I thought it would work well with a bold coloured beret. If its going to be in your face anyway then why not:-)

Now all the hassles are over, I am beginning to warm to it again. I do love the colour and the picot edge and although the lace looks more dense in 4ply, it is still a very elegant pattern indeed - despite my sabotage attempts!

Although this is pink - and I love pink - I still think I like the green version better. I never really got into lace shawls and scarves before as they seemed to be long term projects and very time consuming at that, but I can see the appeal of delicate 2 ply yarns stretching out into wonderful cobwebs of pattern that are so elegant and sophisticated in their design and finish. A lovely sheen of silk and maybe beads? Mmm. I can see some more lace in my future.....

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Spinning mojo

Today, I thought I would have a change of pace and scene and get absorbed once again with spinning. I borrowed this book out the library - 'Creative Spinning' by Alison Daykin and Jane Deane to refresh my memory as it has been a very long while since I spun anything, good or bad! I felt a good bit better after reading the instructions as I remembered most of it but learned that there are two different methods of spinning depending on whether you card the fleece and make your own rolags or buy the combed roving. I've only ever carded from fleece so I learned 'Long draw spinning'. The other method from combed roving is 'Worsted spinning'. Now a lot more pennies fall into place from reading spinning blogs!

So not having spun from roving, I thought I would try this technique first. Bear in mind I have all that lovely, yummy roving I bought recently, so my decision is not unbiased :-) I thought I'd start with a tester before the good stuff. Mind you this is 100% merino so pretty nice to work with.

After a few starts, I got going and worked out the thickness of the roving I want. Having always drafted the fleece as I go, I kept wanting to thin this out rather than just let it be!! I can see how this would give you such an even thread if all the roving strips were the same. Mine were too thick for a single so I thinned them all but then it became tricky as some bits went a bit too thin. One thing I do remember from previous spinning attempts was I always got too much twist in the single so I went a bit easier with this in mind and what do you know - not enough!! Typical:-) But in a good way. Just finding my feet again and that's okay as I feel I'm making progress.

So, now, tell me what is wrong with this picture? A clue - the treadle pedal is on the floor - not attached to the wheel. Yup, the thick plastic connector just snapped - ping! Well, more like a thud!

I know I've had the wheel for a while and not used it that often and plastic does perish eventually, but still! Just in the middle of me finding my spinning groove! Sigh.

Luckily for me I found a shop online - Scottish Fibres - that sells parts for my Louet with 1st class delivery. So hopefully, if I can work out how to fit the part, we should be back in business in a few days.

Louet S10 spinning wheel

Well, looks like I'll have to face the Ishbel mess that needs fixing after all - but that's okay, I can handle it as I'm feeling good and I've got my spinning mojo back - even if it's only a mere blob on the bobbin!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Edible eye candy

Midweek eye candy for you today. Some lovely chocolate flowery shapes covered with sprinkles/hundreds and thousands. Look really good from both sides don't they? And very yummy looking. Shame to say the chocolate was a bit on the cheap/nasty side, but hey, its still chocolate and it didn't stop me eating them :-) But not all at once!

The knitting is going slowly this week - hence the eye candy! Notice I didn't say progressing. I feel like I've pretty much ballsed up all I knitted today so I'm a bit fed up with myself. Having noticed a mistake in the decreasing lace pattern of the magenta Ishbel, I dropped the offending stitch down 4 rows to fix the pattern and fix it I thought I did, very carefully to keep the YO's and PSSO's in order. But now it's done, I'm now noticing odd looking twists where there shouldn't be and unfortunately not just where I altered the mistake. So, my conclusion is it'll all have to be taken back and fixed - properly. But, I'm leaving that till tomorrow when I hope a fresh pair of eyes may see a fix or have the patience to rip it back - which I don't have just now ;-) I think I'm showing great restraint not throwing it across the room in a fit of justifiable peak.

So, maybe I'll go back to some good, old stockinette sock knitting. The green stripey sock is probably feeling neglected by now anyway. On the good side, don't these chocolates make good tiles to use for repeat patterns? They're beginning to look like an edible hexagonal quilt!!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Ishbel beret

At last I can show you what I have been beavering away knitting the last few days. The Ishbel beret is finished! It has been sitting there waiting for me to progress past the band for about a week and yesterday, I suddenly decided was the day to finish it. Okay, it took me more like two full days but don't you think it was worth it? Doesn't lace look good when its blocking?

This is knitted in 2ply/laceweight lambswool that I hand dyed a while back. I really did think this was going to be too thin for a beret but I was so wrong. The lightness of this is just lovely and so elegant being a finer gauge. When you are knitting the lace pattern, you can see generally where the design is going but you don't really get the full picture until it's finished. Then, wow. Suddenly this structure appears fully formed and looks amazing. Believe me, I tried to take photos of this at intervals of making to show you and none could capture the loveliness of the lace until it was stretched out.

Using such a dark yarn did make it difficult to see in artificial light and I did make a few mistakes trying to keep the pattern right at the beginning. But once you get a feel for each section it begins to flow a lot easier. Of course, knitting lace patterns when you are tired probably isn't recommended as you end up taking back what you knitted the next day! But I am pleased with my first lace project and there is still plenty of this yarn left to knit up the matching Ishbel scarf. For my sanity's sake maybe it'll be the short version ;-)

* Vital tv watching whilst knitting this lovely beret - 'The Duchess' and an episode of Poirot. I really enjoyed The Duchess though, lovely costumes sumptuous settings and a real feel of what society was really like in the late 1700's. Kiera Knightley played the Duchess of Devonshire very well and gave her a chance to show the depth of the character. Ralph Fiennes was a very convincing baddie! The link gives you clips, cast details and stills, worth a visit.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Green stripey socks

This is the yarn I started my sock experiments with yesterday - the green trekking - using the magic cast on with only one circular. The stripes have come out pretty much like it looks in the ball which I like. The random thick and thin lines work well and keep you interested as you knit. Mind you, the picture that went with this online didn't look anything like this. It was more of a blended mixture than definite bands. The label did say 'for best effect, knit with alternate skeins'. Anyone tried this for socks? I tried it on one of my christmas berets and it worked well to stop the pooling of the larger lengths of colour but I would be interested to see what effect it had here on more obvious stripes.

I had to take this back once already as the set amount of stitches for my width of foot seemed overly generous. Hopefully it will be a better fit now. Mind you I am tempted to take it back again as the change from 2 to 4 needles is very obvious and I don't like the line it leaves right down the middle on both sides. Another reason for circulars. This didn't seem so much of a problem with the heavier sock yarns and I know it will probably settle with blocking but still.

Anyway, I can resolve this now as my replacement circular arrived this morning very well padded for the post. Thank you Alison. I'm looking foward to a more pleasureable sock knit now:-)

Film watching whilst knitting the sock: Princess mononoke - you can click the link to watch some clips:-)

I love these forest spirits - although they are meant to be harbingers of a death, probably your own. So back to some sock knitting and maybe on my anime roll, I'll watch 'Spirited Away'. Don't know yet as there's another 2 hour miss marple on tonight :-)

Monday, 16 March 2009

Magic cast on

More yarn in the post! The Artesano and the Happy sock yarn has arrived! The Happy sock yarn by Wendy is mainly bamboo and it has a lovely smooth feel to it. It feels like it will knit up well, and makes me think of knitting with cotton. Well, I'll have to wait and see :-) The Artesano is sooo soft to the touch as you expect 100% Alpaca to be but it is nice to be reassured how soooft it is in real life! These will be scrummy soft socks indeed.

But as you can see from my picture, one of the two pairs of circulars got broken in the post - sigh. Bamboo needles are just so fragile. I'll need to find some way of keeping these safe. So although I have now mastered the theory of Judy' magic cast on using Cat bordhi's video on You Tube - you must watch this its such a fun way to learn - I haven't managed to start the socks using the magic loop. I did do a cobbled version with one dpn and one circular and it does work but not as smoothly as you know two circulars will. In fact it may well have converted me to circulars completely. Going back to all dpn's feels more fiddly that previously.

And one of the Capricorn happy's is going to be turned into these lovely stripey gloves. I know spring is on its way - it is! It must be! - and it's more time for knitting those spring cardi's in lighter weight cottons but the gloves will be such fun! The second ball may become a pair of socks or another pair of gloves if the first ones become a present. And the colours are just as bright as they promised - yay! Sometimes it's so difficult to tell from pictures online - Alison from P2tog's pics are very good, I must say.

BTW, she is replacing the broken circular for me with no hassle and apologised for the inconvenience and disappointment. It's now in the post and should arrive first thing tomorrow. Wow. What a lovely person. Don't you just love knitting people? So, tomorrow I can magic loop socks to my hearts content:-)

Friday, 13 March 2009

Happy, happy, happy ;-)

I'm happy, happy, happy today! Well I'm talking about Wendy's new Happy 4 ply bamboo sock yarn in a gorgeous range of colours named after the signs of the zodiac. This one is Capricorn but all the colourways have a different 'feel' or personality to them and all are scrummy. I've been trying to match sock yarn to personality for some future presents and its been quite a difficult choice. I mean some people will wear bright, in-your-face colour any day - me, for instance. Some like to have secret bright socks hidden but don't wear much colour normally and some wouldn't appreciate the bright sock on any terms!

I bought two x 100gms of the Capricorn for two presents; one a pair of socks and one for a pair of gloves. I'm still hankering after a mad pair of stripey gloves so if this present works well, I may indulge myself later on. (I'm thinking the Sagittarius Happy....)

This Artesano Hummingbird 4 ply sock yarn - woodpecker - I've had my eye on for a while now and I'm just dying to know how it knits up. Couldn't find any pictures knitted up - I do so love the sites that show you how they look completed as a sock. 100% Alpaca though, yum! I'm hoping it's a small stripes look :-) It's only a 50gm ball so you'll need two for a pair of socks.

And what better to start my sock endeavours than with some lovely knitpro 2.5mm bamboos to master the magic loop knitting technique. Although I know how, the lack of 2.5mm circulars has been a bit of a problem until now. Happy, happy, happy!

All these lovely images are from's site where you can see the full range of sock yarns and accessories. I have bought from them before and they've always been very helpful and friendly to deal with. Very quick on the delivery too. They also have an Ebay shop in the UK.

Now, all I have to do is wait for my parcel in the post......

Edited to add: It's shipped! Same day I ordered! I'm thinking 2nd class post will be here monday or tuesday at the latest? Keep you posted.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009


Random thoughts for you this wednesday:

Today while standing in the queue for the post office, I spied these lovely jumbo bakewell tarts. As it was a very long wait, I had plenty of time to consider whether these should leave with me and decided on the whole, it was a shame to leave them behind.

Favourite snack of the week: bakewell tart!, dried cranberries

Most interesting blog I've read this week: Diary of a French Feline Do read this as it's a very entertaining view of a cat's life! If you've ever had a cat you will empathise with the owners!

Watching: most recently 'The Lake House' with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. Lovely, enjoyed it immensely. It's one of those films that stays in your mind and you enjoy thinking about afterwards. Link has some trailers but don't read the synopsis if you don't want spoilers!

Reading: The Moving Finger - Miss Marple omnibus by Agatha Christie

Knitting: Still trying to knit Vivian and the Ishbel beret but they're not getting very far as my head is all foggy from flu so the detailed cable instructions are making my head hurt. I'm sure it is all very easy in everyone else's reality!

Could have done without this week: Realising the mouse in the house hasn't gone and is hiding under the kitchen cabinets where we can't reach it. Cat going demented and trying to scratch a hole where the wood meets the wall. So far she has dislodged some plaster - good going. She's spent all night 'on guard' and is now zonked - out like a light. If I waved some yummy cat treats under her nose or some fresh tuna or chicken, I don't think I would even get a twitch!

Would still like to get done this week: any halfway decent knitting, properly sort out my stash of yarn for new projects, get around to cleaning the bathroom. Probably in that order of importance.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Tropical fruits

Not much knitting has been happening this weekend but I did manage to get some dyeing done. I had two hanks of quite an acid yellow from a previous dyeing session - waaaaay back - and I thought hand painting might just salvage them. I also wanted to try to fix them using the microwave instead of steaming them, just to compare the difference. (it would also save my kitchen from a lot of moisture running down the walls :-)

So these first two hanks had the bright lemon yellow base and I played with aquas and jades and a touch of deeper blue on top for the green skein and yummy oranges and marigold yellows, with a hint of darker red for the second skein. These hanks were wound a long time ago and there is only 64 gms on each. No idea why it's not 50gm or 100gm but there you go. I'm sure I can use it for something nice anyway.

The raspberry pink skein was an overly thick hank wound on the lazy kate of my spinning wheel - a very short length indeed. It had been partially dip dyed in light pink and I re-wound it on my niddy noddy into a larger 1.5 mtr skein and hand painted different pinks and reds on top of it. I love these colours and although there is only 74gms of it, I'm loving it anyway.

This last little skein was a baby hank that I thought would be good as a tester. There's only 32gms but it will be interesting to see how the dye bands knit up. I was experimenting with paler colours but I found these a bit wishy washy for me. Very aquatic but not really zingy enough.

The fixing using the microwave did work after a few experiments and is a lot quicker. But I think I'll need to experiment further before I will feel comfortable with the permanancy of the colour.

If you are interested, there are lots of really good books on dyeing your own yarn - Dyeing to knit, Yarns to dye for, and the yarn lovers guide to dyeing to name just a few. These are links to Amazon uk and you can read up their reviews as well. It is really worthwhile having a book as a guide or reference as there are so many little things that can go wrong or time saving tips to help you get successful yarns very quickly. My favourite for the kettle dyeing and microwaving techniques is 'Yarns to dye for' although I do have all three and dip into them for different reasons.

Now, I'll just have to think of what to knit with my tropical fruits!

Friday, 6 March 2009

Planning for Ishbel

As I was looking out for some yarn to start Ysolda's Ishbel patterns, I realised I might be kind of in a bluey/green phase. I was trying to find either enough of the same yarn or enough of the same colour for both the beret and the scarf and suddenly my table was a sea of greens. With my Vivian aran yarn still out, there definitely seems to be something going on. My original intention had been to frog the evangeline mitts and knit the beret with the plum coloured merino as I know I have some laceweight silk dyed in the same colour. Maybe I'll save it when I do a second one - you know I never manage just to do one of anything! (okay, except the second sock, glove....)

The ball is my dyed merino from a while back and although it is DK, I remember thinking this should be knitted down a needle size so would do for 4ply. But there isn't enough for both the beret and the scarf. So I rummaged some more and found this lambswool hank dyed at the same time but much finer in weight. It's a slightly darker space dyed mix and I think would work well in the scarf. Both are from the same dye batch so to speak so they are close enough for a pairing.

I also treated myself to a set of bamboo circulars in both 50cm and 100cm. They range in size from 2.0mm - 10mm so I should be able to knit any pattern now.

Thank you to Karen for reminding me this shop existed. I got a full set of dpn's there last year but had somehow forgotten about them. The one problem I did have was not having a certain size of circular to do the job and either ditching the pattern for another day or struggling on with a too long needle - not a happy knitting experience. So now I should be totally sorted.

But the Ishbel beret pattern is OUT! I have loved the look of this since the preview on Ysolda's blog and now, at last, we can knit our own. So, now I must catch up on some sleep and get ready for a Ishbel beret knitting session tomorrow. Night night......

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

And then there were two...

At last there are two socks complete! The heel gave me a little trouble - one side didn't want to play ball and insisted on leaving a hole whatever I tried so I had to get stroppy and force the issue:-) They've been good practice and a quick knit in DK but I can't say I love this 'print' yarn. I appreciate the pattern the print gives although it is a bit in your face with the colour combinations and the heavy bands of patterning. I thought the bold colours would be zingy and bright but they aren't quite what I had in mind.

But it's all a good lesson in how yarns look like one thing on the ball and quite another when they are knitted up - sigh. But I have some lovely sock yarn still to knit up so I can console myself in their yumminess :-)

The last of my roving has arrived from Fibreoptics - yum! - and now I can have a play at spinning. It looks just too yummy to start with so I'll have to find some scrap fleece to experiment with first before using the good stuff. But it's been too dull and dismal to take any decent photos of any of the fibres as yet.

Vivian is now on the needles - granted, just the cast on row but it's a start. Hopefully I'll have some progress to show you later on this week. And I am also seriously considering starting Ishbel, Ysolda's new scarf and she is designing a beret to go with it - very excited! I just have to hunt for some yarn first....

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Cabled Beret - modified band

Well, the cabled beret is finished and blocked and I am much happier with my modified band. When the cables didn't match very well, and the beret still seemed on the big side after the decrease row, the perfectionist in me thought a little tweeking was in order:-) Of course, this tweeking always seems to be around midnight and then I get on a roll and don't get to bed for ages! But for once, this was a quick fix. If you have been having problems with this - the pattern instructions weren't very clear to follow at this stage - then you are welcome to try this out. Technical bit now....

Okay, you have just laboured through 51 rows of cable chart and you are looking forward to the home run. You have your smaller sized needle ready, and the first brim row reads *K2tog* . Okay, decrease - K2tog for the whole row and this leaves you with 120sts.

Here is where I have changed things.

Next row - *K2, P1, P2tog, k4, P2tog, P1* rep to end of row - 100sts.

Make sure to align your first 2 knit stitches with the first cable. A good guide is to check the placement of the large K4 stitch cable and count back to be sure:-)

Then follow the chart below:

Bind off normally.

If you feel it is a bit loose still then tighten up the bind off - works a treat.

I've never written out a chart before so hope this flows okay from the vogue one. I couldn't find the exact same symbols to use but found a free download for the cable symbol I used. As long as you carry on the same 4st cable as before - 2 st to the back on the cable needle, k2, k2 on cable needle - you should have a seamless continuation of your cable. Whew! That took a lot longer than I thought!

This is just what I did to my preference. After all that cabling, it's disappointing if you think it's been a waste of time and effort! I tried to keep it as faithful to the original overall look as I could and it's really only more decreases and a realignment. Hope it is of help to anyone in need!

So the cable beret is finished, the blue tiger socks are marching past the heel and on the homeward straight and I think it's time for another project. My blue and purple roving has arrived and I'm thinking a bit of spinning tomorrow but I also need to get started on the Vivian cabled top. Maybe I can get to do a bit of both!


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