Saturday, June 27

Addictive lace

I've long avoided 'official' lace patterns because I'm not sure I would really wear a shawl or shrug, plus I have an inbuilt fear of lace - although I have knitted several pairs of socks and other garments with sprinklings of lace and am not unfamiliar with the various devices and stitches that make it up.

But I decided a couple of weeks ago that 2009 should be the year that I finally try something truly lacey, and my recent Kidsilk Haze obsession continues, so I picked out something and cast on.
I am not knitting in Kidsilk Haze, however, I am knitting in Drops Kidsilk, the cheaper version imported by Scandinavian Knitting Design. Drops seem to do a lot of similar yarns to Rowan, but generally about 25% cheaper - in this case it is £5.15 for a 25g ball as opposed to around £7 for the Rowan equivalent and so far I have not noticed any difference in quality. (I just found my first knot too, so it seems they are taking imitation very seriously, warts and all!). Drops has an excellent range of colours too, the only problem I find being that the colour charts on the SKD pages are not hugely accurate.

Having tried to photograph my knitting for the blog and having utterly failed to take a photo that gives any vague approximation of the colour, I can see what they are up against! That being said, Birgitte and Bruce have proved very willing to try and describe the colours over the phone, and of course I'm sure you can always exchange the yarn if it does not suit.

For your info, I would describe the colour of the yarn I'm knitting with as a kind of 'mushroom' - although that would be the colour of the cap, not the gills, and the colour of the cap when the mushroom is slightly past its best. Which is not the most snappy of decriptions!

The pattern is also a Drops pattern; 108-8. Drops has hundreds of free patterns (also available through the SKD website - I like the fact that they are linked directly the yarn type so that you can just click through and get dozens of choices). Do be warned though, there is a lot of dross in there too - be prepared to search through some scarey 1980s style geometric designs and see past the batwing sweaters.

The shawl I am knitting

The jumper I will never knit

Some of these patterns have been criticised for the rather jumbled way they are written - perhaps something is lost in translation from the original? In fact the last one that I used, the Felted Slippers in the bulky Eskimo yarn - I followed a version that had been rewritten by a Raveler to make it easier. This time I am on my own, but after reading and rereading it several times, I DID finally work out what I'm supposed to be doing and it HAS proved to be fairly simple so far. However I did find a lack of clarity in the pattern, and some repetition in the way it was worded which I found confusing. If you are a beginner or inexperienced knitter, you may need some help to decipher these patterns.

So far so good with the shawl, it is proving addictive and I'm loving seeing the pattern emerge. But I'm hating the rows getting longer each time - maybe next time I will do one that starts on the longest side and decreases, although it may be difficult to motivate myself for a pattern that starts 'CO 824 st' or whatever!

Saturday, June 20

Well-travelled socks

I give you Queen of Cups in Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Solid (as-yet unblocked).

These socks have been around the Kent coast by bike (well in the panniers to be precise, they weren't actually doing the pedalling), to Cardiff and back by train, over to Ireland - Waterford followed by Dublin - and then across the Atlantic to Pittsburgh via Chicago and back to London. So well-travelled for such young socks!

I enjoyed the pattern although it is rather complicated and it wasn't till I was nearly finished with the second sock that I finally felt like I could do it without referring to the printed pattern. Although I knitted them on 2.5mm needles they are still a little loose and I'm afraid they might get even baggier with blocking and wearing. Also I wasn't very happy with the edge I got from my long-tail cast-on, I would probably do a different version (or perhaps a turned over picot edge) if I did the pattern again.

My work trip to Dublin also gave me some time for reflection (sorry, no pun intended!). It's now coming up to 10 years since the end of a long-term, long-distance relationship with a Dubliner, which meant I spent a lot of time and experienced a lot of emotions in this city. And it's only the second time I've been since the relationship finished, and had time to muse on my past. The first time was almost a pleasure, remembering times past, revisiting places we used to frequent and reliving shared experiences. But this time was a much more melancholy experience - so many things have changed and places have been demolished or refurbished that it is no longer the Dublin we knew. Even the Winding Stair now has a posh restaurant instead of a casual cafe where we used to spend hours. There's the tram, there's the spire, and there's the boardwalk along the Liffey. Bewley's on Westmoreland Street is boarded up. Before you know it, they'll be building a proper link to the airport...

Our annual trip to Pittsburgh was more predictable. I know this photo isn't really representative of the 'city of bridges', the now famous home of the Superbowl and Stanley Cup winning teams, and the venue for the next G20 summit, but I always stop and look at this car park and enjoy its slightly wacky curves among all the straight, tall buildings of the downtown area.

Sunday, June 7

Normal service will be resumed shortly

Oysterband, Wychwood Festival

Yes I am still alive and I'm still knitting. I'm sorry about the radio silence of late - this is the result of being uninspired to write about knitting, and having a bit of a crazy social life.

A trip to the Wychwood Festival (excellent bands, superb weather!) was followed by several days of biking in Kent (Broadstairs - Deal - New Romney - Dungeness - Rye - Tenterden) and an overnight trip to Cardiff.

Best fish and chips ever? At the Ship Inn, Rye. (A great place for food and fonts too - it's got a whole Festival of Britain thing going on!)

The boardwalk at Dungeness

Tomorrow I'm off to Ireland for work for a couple of days followed by a few days in the office and then the annual trip to Pittsburgh, USA. It's safe to say that things are going to be a bit quiet around here for the next couple of weeks. Apologies for the lack of posting, hope to be back soon with socks to show you.