Okay, so I had kind of forgotten about this one… I was having a bit of a tidyup in the freezer (because I store all the woollen hats and scarves and gloves in the freezer during the summer to keep the moth-demons away) and found this lurking at the bottom underneath some pizzas.
A quick try-on reveals that it is, miraculously, still just about big enough for the child it was originally intended for (though the shirt it was supposed to go over has been outgrown), so I think I’d better pick it back up.
This one has had a troubled history… it was first knitted by a kind grandmother for Boy 1, but then he outgrew it and rather than wait for Boy 2 to grow into it, I thought I’d reknit it as something else for Boy 1. It had been heavily cabled with a pocket on the front, so I was pretty sure that I’d have enough for a plain pattern. I picked Julien by Drops and planned to make it a sleeveless pullover. So I frogged the cabled sweater.
The next problem was that I had no idea what yarn it was, thought it was a 4ply and used needles accordingly. Friends, it was not 4ply. I knitted the whole thing without bothering to check my gauge, and realised extremely belatedly it was far too dense a fabric, and had come up far too small. (It did look nice, though.)
So I sighed, and frogged the sweater – again- and figured out that in fact it was more like a sportweight and would function perfectly adequately with 3.25 needles, so here we are again. Just need to do sleeveless sleeves now.
I’ve had a shawl/wrap project on the go for a while. By ‘on the go’ I mean I knitted 70% of it – the centre and a chunk of the border – about two years ago and then didn’t like it enough to bring myself to buy a final ball of yarn to finish it. However, I bit the bullet this Christmas holiday when I realised that Lang were discontinuing the colourway and if I didn’t buy it now then I was probably never going to be able to. And then there would be another long pause while I brought myself to terms with ripping the whole thing out and turning it into something else. Which was the least-preferred option. Had to get the yarn from Germany because there was none in the UK, so I think I might have cut it pretty fine.The yarn arrived a few days ago. There were gloves to knit, and a sweater to finish, so I didn’t have to think about it. But finally I sighed, dug out the project and went to look it up on Ravelry to see what the pattern, needles were etc.Reader, I had not Ravelled it. And after two years’ hiatus there was no chance whatever that I remembered what pattern I’d used, what size needles – anything. My best guess was that it was a pattern from Victorian Lace Today…… but had no idea which one. So I started leafing through randomly, hoping I could recognise the pattern, squinting at shawl-centres sideways, waiting for something to feel familiar (not very useful, as I’ve knitted a couple of other things from this book).Then found this.
Enough to tell me that it’s this pattern, and that when I started the border I was using 4mm needles.
It’s been Too Long since I was able to knit any socks – largely because of the afore-complained-about yarn diet. But also because it felt as though the number of pairs of socks I had was about the right number – or possibly even too many – for one person. But I’m now going to take a stand and say There Is No Such Thing As Too Many Socks.
I’m completely and joyously selfish when it comes to socks – they’re the only thing I knit that I absolutely love wearing and I have done a splurge on not one, not two, but four balls of sockyarn. I don’t even have enough needles to knit them all at once…
I have some Rico Superba Poems in lovely foresty greens and shadows;
(this is already on the needles…
I have some West Yorkshire Spinners in chirpy turquoises and orange, which I’m hoping will knit into one of those clever Fair-Isle-y patterns,
and I have two balls of Scheepjes Our Tribe – one in passionate reds
A WIP is a Work In Progress, for any non-habitual knitters reading this, and at the moment I am in the stressful condition of having too many on the go.
This is partly to do with finances – although I am no longer a broke student, working half-time does mean that the yarn diet continues (this is seemingly going to be a perpetual state of affairs) – and partly to do with my mother’s endearing habit of knitting sweaters for the boys and their less endearing habit of growing. So I frog them to re-knit them bigger. But then, obviously, I run out of yarn. This means that this:
are currently awaiting an infusion of cash and yarn.
There’s no real excuse for the Scandy cowl. I love this knit and the utter bonkers-ness of it, and a ball each of the Debbie Bliss Slate and Ecru would probably see me through to the end. I have knitted my way through charts A to Q and only have 41 rows of chart R left, so I just need to bite the bullet and get on with it.
This one, though…
This has been heartbreaking. It’s destined to be a colour-striped-with-grey blanket. It’s in 4ply and stocking stitch and there are about 600 stitches per row if not more. I dug it out after a hiatus and … it’s had moth. There were a couple of small holes that I could mend, but I had to grit my teeth and rip back about a foot of it because they’d eaten through a whole stripe of six rows. That represents at least a week’s worth of knitting. So I’ve done the hard part and ripped out all the holey section – now I ‘just’ need to re-do what had already been done before I can get into new colours, but it needs to go into the freezer for a bit to kill any pestiferous eggs, too.
Let’s not talk about the sampler squares that are destined for a blanket sitting in a bag under the desk.
Oh, and the Eldest has just outgrown her Starshine, so it’s been handed down, so now she needs a new sweater…
Much as I love the Crazed Scandinavian Cowl and it’s cheerful no-two-rows-the-same insanity (perhaps long Swedish nights need something bonkers to get you through them), there does come a time when I want something simple. Something I can knit while also mocking a Fast & Furious film. Or puzzling over exactly why, when Sean Bean’s Sharpe shows up at an enemy fort, they immediately accept him at face value and give him top-level access to all their plans.
SO – socks it is. I actually thought I didn’t have any sockyarn but then did a stashdive and found one skein. This is my fourth of the Lang Magic Degrade skeins – I absolutely love colour change yarns.
I’ve got two skeins in the browny-grey mixture that I plan to turn into a shawl, and I can quite see myself knitting the full deck (my sock drawer is ridiculous, particularly as I’ve now learned to darn and so old socks never die…). The turquoise shading into the dark blue shading into the green is just lovely.
The colours are exactly the way I would do them if I was making colour-change yarn and it’s always very satisfying to have a pattern reveal itself without you actually having to think about anything.
And the added bonus of getting to watch Sean Bean at the same time. 🙂
So, I’ve had this Crazed Scandinavian Cowl on the go for a while now, and after a long pause to write an essay, a literature review, a briefing paper and a project initiation document, go on holiday, carve a turtle, make a stool and write 20,000 words of a book that is unlikely to ever find a publisher, I started to get back into it last week.
It occurred to me that I seemed to have done quite a few charts – and when I say quite a few I mean they’re alphabetical and I’m on Chart H – and that the length of the thing folded up on my lap was a very respectable 42 inches, which sounded scarf-ish to me, so perhaps I could start to think that maybe I was approaching the point where the words ‘home stretch’ might not be entirely inappropriate.
Then I looked up the rest of the pattern. I am not, categorically not, on the home stretch. The home stretch remains a blue-capped mountain in the very far distance. The charts go all the way up Chart R, and the estimated length of this thing is 83 inches. Who has an 83 inch long scarf?? (Quite possibly everyone – I don’t knit scarves all that often and although it sounds outrageous to me it’s entirely feasible that is a perfectly normal length for a scarf. It took me by surprise, is all I’m saying.)
Anyway, here are some pictures to keep us all going. It is very nice, which is a redeeming feature, but honestly I’m not even sure how much I actually want a scarf any more.
There has been a long silence on the blog due to me having (slightly unexpectedly) decided to do a Masters in Librarianship and Information Science. Which took up all the time I formerly thought of as ‘spare’ and also some that really wasn’t spare at all. There was no room for knitting, reading, woodworking or any of the other things I usually do when I’m not working, avoiding housework or poking facebook.
However, the first semester is now drawing to a close and with only two assignments left there is room to breathe. And knit. So first of all, a confession. The big black knotty nightmare? Is no more. All my grand talk about lifelines turned out to be so much bunkum when I noticed a mistake, decided I could live with it, and so moved my lifeline past it. Then I decided that I couldn’t live with it after all, and – get this – decided to try and frog back past it. Despite knowing all the stuff I said about the impossibility of frogging knitted lace. Literally, I looked at this fragile web of holes and thought “it’ll be fine”.
Reader, it was not fine. So now the poor thing is half-frogged and sitting in a cupboard where it can’t remind me of my own stupidity. I loved the pattern, and I loved the way it was turning out, but I have to go a-a-a-a-l-l the way back to the very beginning and that’s not something I’m prepared to do just yet. I wouldn’t hold your breath.
In the meantime there are socks in Lang Jawoll Degrade, which looks so gorgeous in the ball it’s almost a shame to knit it up:
a kind-of-Hapisk-but-not-really because I’m just striping Debbie Bliss grey 4 ply with leftover sockyarn. Projects for leftover sockyarn are great for someone who knits socks because there are always little balls at the end (if you’re a match-obsessive the way I am). And this is going to be either a blanket or a shawl. Haven’t decided yet, but I like the way the colours are coming.
Scandinavian cowl, coming along ok:
And some FOs because there were children with cold hands and heads so there needed to be hats and mittens…
I’ve opined before how similar knitting is to cooking in some respects. For example you generally can’t afford to just throw away your mistakes – you either have to wear them or eat them. The analogy also applies in terms of the things you cook (or knit) so often that you don’t need a recipe – you know enough to vary the details around the edges but you basically do the same core thing every time. So a casserole is a casserole is a casserole – brown the meat, braise the veg, add liquid, put in oven for some hours. A sock is a sock is a sock – it needs a heel, a toe and some length. You might use cider rather than wine, you might use 2×2 rib rather than 1×1. But in essence, these are recipes/patterns you can produce without concentrating all that much.
Which is probably why I don’t generally go for long recipes or patterns. When you’re used to just banging through a process, having to stop and consult a printed page every two minutes really interrupts your flow. I can just about stand it with baking, but if I’m trying a complicated dish or something where you need half a teaspoon of this, half a teaspoon of that, quarter of a teaspoon of the other I tend to get impatient and sloppy. Obviously that’s not mad crucial if you’re cooking (though – Top Tip – you really can’t afford to be free and easy with nam pla) but if you do that with lace then it is absolutely going to bite you in the bum. Which is why this;
has a lifeline. More on that later…
However, poring over a pattern that even after this many repetitions I haven’t learned yet was kind of getting to me, so when one of Kate Davies‘s emails about the haps in her new book fell into my inbox, it suddenly made me realise that I was BORED of doing complicated and I wanted simple. Even better; simple that meant I didn’t need to buy the woollen poncho I’ve had my eye on, and simple that was going to allow me to use up all the tailends of sockyarn cluttering up my stash. The Hapisk shawl by Helene Magnusson has a gloriously wearable shape and best of all it’s stripes in garter stitch. It’s essentially a big square with a slot in it, so it’s more or less a blanket that you can wear (and you know how fond I am of blankets). So it’s a knitted casserole as far as I’m concerned. It’s going to take awhile because those are 2.5mm needles and 4ply yarn and I’m knitting something that’s about 5 foot square, but still.
After reviewing Tamar for Blacker Yarns I had a small lace swatch that wasn’t quite finished off and wasn’t quite big enough to use for anything. I hate waste, and serendipitously the doll’s bed that I made for The Daughter was entirely bereft of covers. So I dug through the leftover sockyarn stash – anyone who knits socks ends up with a collection of little brightly-coloured golf-balls of yarn-ends, like so:
– and found some Rico that was the tail-end of some socks for The Man. Not quite the same yarn, but the same kind of tones and just fluffy enough to pass muster. Some lace-charting and a few rounds later – Toothless the dragon has a blanket.
However, knitting is off the menu for the moment. Observant readers will have noticed that occasionally I make chairs. Like this:
and next week I’m off to the Windsor Workshop again to make another armchair. This time for The Man. I like to do my own turnings. so this week the shed and house have been full of sawdust and woodshavings while I muck about making legs, stretchers and armposts:
All those are drying in the house – next week in Sussex I’ll be bending the arms, carving the seat, making the spindles and putting the whole thing together so that The Man has somewhere comfortable to sit while he listens to music.
Tamar is a new yarn from Blacker Yarns, being launched 3 March 2016. It’s spun from the wool produced by some sheep breeds with long, straight(ish) fleeces: Wensleydale, Teeswater, Cotswold and Leicester Longwool (and here’s a picture of a Teeswater ewe, because who doesn’t like pictures of sheep? You can see how straight the fleece is.).The straightness of the fibres is what contributes to the ‘lustre’ of the yarn’s title. It’s also blended with Cornish Mule to give it a little bounce. It comes in 15 colour shades and two ‘natural’ shades, both of which are silvery grey. The colours are overdyed on to the natural shades, giving them lovely greyish depths and just a touch of variegation.
I was testing the 4ply (it also comes in DK) and given its straightness I thought a lace swatch might suit it. To knit with it is very inelastic – I’ve been knitting with a lot of springier yarn recently and this has very little ‘bounce’. It’s worsted-spun and you do have to be a little bit careful not to get your needle between the strands but it’s not nearly as ‘splitty’ as some other yarns I’ve used. I knitted a swatch of leaf lace and put a picot border on it then blocked it. This is before the block:
and here it is afterwards (I ran out of yarn before the last side of picot).
In blocking you really see the upside of the inelasticity – it holds the block well (springier yarns tend to bounce back, just as curly hair would) and you can really see the leaf pattern. It also drapes very smoothly despite being a small swatch. It’s not the softest of yarn – you wouldn’t use it for a scarf or something to go next to the skin, I don’t think (tried wearing it on my neck and it does itch) – but the flipside of that is that it’s not going to pill and you do get the lovely sheen. It would make a really smooth shawl or wrap at the 4ply weight and would definitely do justice to a lace pattern. This was knitted on 3mm needles but for lace with this yarn you could afford to go a little bigger, I think. I’d like to give it a try with a larger project when the finances allow!