Tuesday, January 29

Many hands make Wight work!

One of the highlights of my weekend in the Isle of Wight was two women sewing in the window of the RNLI charity shop! Yes I know, I'm seriously sad, but this event incorporated so many of my favourite things, it was inevitable it would catch my imagination! Let's see, we had crafting, environmental issues, and a healthy dose of the famous English eccentricity all bound into one.

These two brave souls spent the day in the window of the charity shop in aid of a very good cause - to rid Ventnor of its plastic bags. They were making Morsbags out of recycled fabrics (old duvet covers, curtains, sheets etc) that had been donated to the cause. Anyone buying anything in the charity shop got to choose a bag for free, or you could give a donation instead.

I was totally thrilled by the idea, particularly that they were doing their campaigning in such a visible and imaginative way. Sewing in the shop window was so close to the whole knitting in public thing that I felt really drawn to their campaign. Not that I need any encouragement of course - the Curse will confirm that I am an avid collector of fabric bags, and every time he accompanies me down the high street for a shopping trip, he has to listen to my little refrain 'Don't bother with a bag thanks, I've brought my own!' over and over again. I am quite tempted to try a similar campaign in Deptford, perhaps I could get sponsorship from the sewing machine shop at the end of the road?!

Anyway, the Knit Nurse's collection of slightly grubby and stained fabric bags has just been augmented still further by this rather gaudy but pleasingly pristine example.

If you get a chance, do pop over to the Ventbag blog to offer a few words of encouragement. There is a report about the event, and a short interview with the organiser, on the Ventnor Blog here.

There's also a short interview with me....! Have a laugh at it here. You might just be able to hear the excitement in my voice...!

Latest cosy

Every teapot needs a cosy, and the teapot at Russet Spinney in the Isle of Wight is no exception. This lovely cottage has provided my home comforts for several visits to the island, but a warming tea cosy has always been absent.

Now I know that on future visits, I'll be able to dawdle over my morning cups of tea for as long as I like, without the pot going cold.

This Colinette Point 5 has actually been a teacosy before - it was first knitted up to become my sister's christmas present, but I really didn't like the finished object (too pointy and a bit big), so I ripped it back. I kept the pom pom though, and when packing my stuff ready for the weekend, I decided that I should take the yarn, needles and ready-made pom pom along to create a little something for the cottage.

It made a nice change having the teapot present when I was knitting the cosy - the last few I've made have been pretty much a guessing game! I just cast on 40 stitches (9mm needles) and knitted it flat, leaving the hole for the spout in the middle. Using circular needles made it much easier to move from one section to the other. I decreased very rapidly on the top, every other row I did K2tog along the whole row.

This yarn suits garter stitch SO much better than it did stocking stitch; I think the nobbly-ness of the stitch complements the random nature of the thickness of the yarn. The only thing I would do differently is make it a little longer at the bottom of the cosy - but you can't see it from here, so don't worry about it!

Saturday, January 19

Two halves make a whole (not a hole)

My trip to Zaragoza, in north west Spain, was not only very interesting from a professional point of view, it was very productive in the sock department.

I give you:

Standard toe-up in Regia Canyon Colour (as an aside, why does no-one stock this in the UK? If you know anywhere that does, please tell me!) This was my airplane knitting, on wooden DPNs. Simple and straightforward, no pattern required.

The Zockni socks also reached the heel from the other direction, mostly at the hotel in those dull evenings of solo business travel. Luckily I had a great audiobook with me; The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. A great story following a handful of characters in London during the Second World War and the years afterwards. Very dramatic, and also very poignant. It was fascinating imagining what life was like during the bombings of the city, and how people yearned for such simple pleasures, like an orange. The story is told from the post-war period backwards, which now leaves me wanting to listen to the beginning again...!

I'm trying to keep my hand in with top-downs although the heel is still a short-row heel, not a heel flap. I think I'll make my next pair of socks a top-down with heel flap if I can. The pattern is fairly easy, although I did lose my way a bit during a few of the more dramatic bits of the audiobook. Sorry Canny Cat, they are way too big for a size 3, and make a very comfy fit for me. However, I CAN recommend the pattern..!

Tuesday, January 15

Welcome colour

My fibre club parcel from the Yarn Yard brought some very welcome colour into a grey, wet and windy day! Naturally my camera and the 7pm winter indoor light do no justice at all to these subtle tones. The fibre is 50% merino, 50% tencel and Natalie kindly includes a chunk of undyed 'practice' fibre so we can have a go with it before deciding how we want to spin it. I think I am going to hang on to mine for now, until I've had my spinning tuition at the beginning of Feb and have a bit more idea what I'm doing!

Oh pointy sticks, oh pointy pointy! Here are the lovely Lantern Moon DPNs that I mentioned the other day. However the sock shown is no more. Turned out 2.25mm needles were too small for this yarn and pattern. I have gone up to 3mm (yes they really were too small!) and will see what happens. Trouble is it's not really a pattern you can easily adapt by putting a couple of extra stitches in to widen a panel or something. If it fails to fit me on 3mm needles I'll either be giving them away, or looking for a different pattern. Given that I've got three days away in Spain from tomorrow, with no doubt a lot of waiting at airports and sitting on planes, I suspect the socks will get finished no matter what. All you people with feet smaller than a 7; put your bids in now!

Monday, January 14

Heatwave alert

I finished the Foliage hat at the weekend, so there's bound to be an unexpected heatwave to round off January. Although having said that, a colleague of mine is planning to shave off his beard later in the month, so by then the weather will no doubt swing back to below-zero temperatures.

It's a bit difficult to see the detail in this hat, especially since I haven't blocked it and the light is not great, but let me assure you, it is lovely and warm, and looks great! The fluffiness of the yarn and its thickness does not lead to great stitch definition, but that doesn't really bother me.

It was a fairly easy knit once I got into the swing of it, and managed to get the right size needles. I used 3.75mm needles for the main part of the hat, and 3mm for the ribbing, which is quite a bit smaller than the recommended needle size, but I am a loose knitter and it seems to have come out ok. I also seem to have a rather small head; I always have to go to the smallest setting for bike hats, site safety helmets and so on.

Meanwhile, I have cast on for...yes, more socks! I'm using some Yarn Yard Shelter yarn (bright red!), I think it's the first time I've used plain yarn for socks! I'm knitting Zokni Socks, which are quite ornate, and I'm hoping this yarn will make the pattern much more noticeable.

Although I prefer toe-up, I think it's important to keep one's hand in with the various other techniques, so I'm going top-down as recommended. Plus I think it would kill me to try and follow the pattern backwards....!

The other exciting thing is that I'm using my new Lantern Moon DPNs in rosewood. They were something of an impulse buy just before christmas, from Loop up in north London. Despite the price tag (ahem I cannot divulge!) they ARE lovely to knit with, the finish is very smooth and the points are very pointy. Perhaps a little TOO pointy if you are using yarn that is anything more than very tightly wound. Let's say I wouldn't recommend knitting cotton with them!

Wednesday, January 9

Better late than never..

..to show off this lovely christmas present from my sis. Orla Kiely mugs in 'Apples & Pears'. Which leads me to thinking about Cockney rhyming slang, since "I'm off up the apples to bed" means "I'm off up the apples & pears/stairs to bed".

These are my new favourite mugs! Thanks sis!

The saga of the Foliage hat

After seeing this hat on Ravelry, knitted using the same Miski llama yarn I received for my birthday, I decided that my own Miski yarn was destined to become the same.

I'm now on my third attempt. I fear the Miski yarn might have its own ideas. The first time was my own fault since I didn't swatch, and I cast on with the recommended needle size. I know my tension is fairly loose, and all through the charts and so on I had a nagging suspicion that it would be too big. Why is it that sometimes we deliberately choose to ignore those little voices?

I DID sensibly rip before I got right to the end, but I was about three quarters of the way through and I was as good as finished. By this time the little voices were screaming at me. Most of the time in this situation I would do what Elizabeth Zimmerman recommends, and just find someone with a big head to give the hat to, but for one, I need a hat and I love this yarn, and secondly, it's not that easy to judge how big people's heads are physically without actually measuring them!

The second time I got lost with the pattern, and even though I went back a few rounds to try and find my mistake, I couldn't identify it. This is why I suspect I would hate lace. When you do a knit instead of a purl in rib or something similar, it's very easy to spot. I suspect it's possible to spot a mistake when you are very experienced with lace, but I bet there's lots of angry ripping and cursing to get through on that journey.

One of my aspirations for this year, along with going part-time at work (discussions have been launched, watch this space!) and developing my spinning skills (tuition booked for early Feb) is to try my hand at something lacey. I will make it small and manageable, and I will wait until I have gone part-time so that I have dedicated time off to devote to it, but I hope to achieve at least a small victory by the end of 2008!

Tuesday, January 8

First FO of 2008!

When Natalie saw my last post about the sock, she nearly fell off her chair. She has blogged about it here where you can see how the semi-striping yarn turns out when she, and others knit it! She also emailed and expressed her hopes that the second sock would match.

Natalie, look away now (or at least hold on to your chair)!

Kazam! What a natty pair of socks I've got! I'm rather fond of their dogged attempts to be different, and also quite shocked by how much my tension must vary from one day to the next!

Perhaps it was all the stress of Christmas, or maybe the relaxing I felt once it was over!