Thursday, 29 November 2007

Aria All Done

I finished Aria last night. I made it to the end of the sixth ball of Natural Silk Aran: it's 64 inches long just now but I expect it will stretch. I've hung it up so that it can.

The drapeyness of this yarn is just heavenly: it's soft enough to fold over double so that you get twice the frills on one edge. (My spell-checker didn't like 'drapeyness', but doesn't suggest anything else. It doesn't really like 'spell-checker' either, but I insist on hyphens.) It's worth clicking on the photograph to get the full glory of the yarn, and the frills.

I caught the end of My Cousin Vinnie, when I was finishing off the ends. It's one of my favourites; if I catch a bit of the courtroom scenes, I'm hooked. I always forget that it was directed by Jonathan Lynn, after he'd written Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, and then I look it up and remember again. It's difficult to come up with quotes from it because most of the funniest bits are exchanges rather than one-liners; the scenes between Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei are a joy, even although they consist mostly of them bickering. Vinnie on being given breakfast on his first morning in Alabama - 'Sure, I've heard of grits. I just never actually seen a grit before.'

Blugger won't let me load any more photos of Aria tonight: it must be doing something more important. I'm not here tomorrow, but I'll post again properly on the weekend. Meanwhile you can go over to the Knitting New Scarves KAL and see what everybody else has been doing.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Noro Rip Out

You know that thing I said yesterday about making sure the yarn wasn't twisted when I was doing the first row of Mavis? Well, I had another look at it after I finished that post and I noticed that it was actually twisted. I don't know how I'd managed to do that. So I ripped it.
Once I took it off the needles I was able to measure it properly and discovered that it was a bit too big too, so I'm not too bothered about the ripping. I think I learnt enough on the first cast on to be able to do a better job this time, and I won't have to worry about that mistakette that I was trying to ignore. So everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

These rosewood needles are the ones I get from Scottish Fibres, a German brand called Susanne's. They are available in ebony too and the wood is the left overs from the manufacture of musical instruments, a cheering thought and as close as I am likely to get to playing one. I have tried the ebony needles but the ebony didn't seem to become as polished through use, but I love the rosewood, especially the dpns. Classic Elite distribute them in the U.S.

There's a new jigsaw in the sidebar, showing Lorna's Laces in Bittersweet again.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Noro Cast On

I started my friend's Mavis on Saturday night. I cast on and did part of the first row. On Sunday I finished the first row and got a few rounds done. The first row was excruciating, because of trying to do YOs and K2togs while counting and making sure the yarn wasn't twisted, and allowing for the thick-and-thinness of the Silk Garden. The first row so often is excruciating and it must really put off new knitters because they think the whole thing is going to be like that and don't realize that the rest will be so much easier.

On Saturday and Sunday I was working on it in artificial light and it was only when I saw it today that I realized how lovely the colours are. It's shade 226 and it's not as bright in person.

I didn't really think what I was doing about knitting it in the round and I ended up with a slight mistakette, but I think I've resolved it. I've done a few more rows since the photo and am nearly at the end of the first ball of yarn, which seems a bit fast. I think I'll leave it for a while now, because I want to do some more Christmas knitting, and I just wanted to get this started so that I could be sure of how the stitch worked (a very simple chevron) and to see what the colours looked like. And so that I could tell my friend I've started in case she begins to panic.

I'm on the sixth and last ball of yarn for the Aria scarf so that should be done soon.

I forgot to show you this. It's the third Daisy Hat I've knitted from Itty Bitty Hats and the fourth hat for this baby. She turned out to be a girl and she's called Ellie.

It's made from Rowan Handknit Cotton in Sugar. I gave it to Ellie's aunt and uncle to take to the U.S., where Ellie lives, because they were going for Thanksgiving. I'm hoping to meet her at Christmas when she may be over here making an exchange visit.

I am missing my Kauni very much. I want so much to pick it up and see how the next colour change in the pattern works, but I must do some more other-people-knitting first. I just hope they appreciate it. But meanwhile, do go and have a look at this Kauni Christmas stocking pattern. It's the cutest thing, and there are a couple of other Kauni patterns too.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

A Post about Post

The postman was very good to me yesterday. Well, I suppose he was just doing his job, but I like to think he was being generous. (I cannot type 'postman' correctly first time; it always comes out postamn or something. The spellchecker suggested 'tampons'.)

He brought this delicious skein from Natalie at the Yarn Yard: it's not a club yarn so I can show it immediately. In fact, she's sold out of it, so yah. It's called Byron Bay.

It's a beautiful combination of blues with a little grey and some pale green, which I simply cannot get the photographs to show properly. All my favourite colours in a softer and more restrained blend than I've been acquiring lately. I don't know what I'm going to do with it, now that I have abandoned any pretence of being a sock knitter, but something frothy for around the neck I think.
And all the way from Wisconsin, came this lovely treat.
It's a prize for telling an unseemly story on Cheesehead's blog comments. The pink is two delicious balls of Louet Gems merino fingering in Baby Coral. It's beautiful. I think it might be a baby hat soon, although I suspect I will use it doubled since I'm not the daintiest knitter.

The blue and the undyed are washcloth cottons that Cheesehead added as a piece of Americana to widen my knitting experience. I can remember knitting a dishcloth once in my childhood, but it was a white stringy thing which is better forgotten. I am looking forward to following the ballband instructions and finding out what all the fuss is about. (Scroll down to 2 June.)

And there's two finger puppets too; a sheep which in the photo is trying to escape from the box and an alpaca.The sheep is my favourite. She is covered with bobbles; I get very impatient if I'm expected to knit bobbles and will only do it for people I love very much and who wear small garments. See right.

So I am very impressed with anyone who knits tiny bobbles on tiny finger puppets.

Cheesehead is running, not a knitalong, but a Hunker Up and Get Your Craft On, which is meant to help us meet those Christmas deadlines so if you think it would help, or if you just want an excuse to sit and do unalloyed knitting, surf over and join up.

I have read so many Thanksgiving messages today that I feel slightly disappointed that I won't be sitting down to turkey and pumpkin tonight, but a Happy Thanksgiving to those of my readers who are.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Scarves, But No Bears

I'm afraid I haven't fulfilled the earlier promise of the post which asked you to identify a small pink piece of knitting. It was intended to be a teddy bear's ear, but after I'd knitted four of them and began to assemble the pieces, I was eventually filled with a fit of rage and disgust, and I threw all the bits away. Well, perhaps rage and disgust is putting it a bit strongly, but I got fed up with it. I like sewing, but I don't always like sewing knitting, and that particular piece wasn't ingenious enough to hold my attention. And I had sewn the teddy bear's legs together by mistake.

So the pockets on the little scarf will remain empty, unless I find another teddy / rabbit / pig to take the place of the discarded one. The little scarf is cute, though.

It's from Knitting for Children and their Teddies, and is actually meant to be scarf for a bear, but I sized it up a little bit. Here you can see it on Sylvester, who is being very patient given that I haven't knitted him a scarf for himself yet. Rowan Kid Classic in Feather and um, something else.

After all this fiddle faddle, it was a great relief to return to Aria. I completed another ball of Natural Silk Aran and today I would have finished another, except that I made a mistake while I was watching, which was on BBC4. I don't think the film was that gripping, I just kept thinking it was going to be gripping so I knitted a purl row by mistake. Since it would have been at the back of the neck, I pondered leaving it but for once my better self won out and I ripped it back.
I'm nearly half way through the yarn, and I think I'll use it all.

The ingenious Vivienne answered my question about putting functioning buttons in the sidebar, so you can now click on the Knitting New Scarves Knitalong button and be whisked magically thereto. Oh, and there's a new jigsaw too.

P.S. The reason there were four teddy bear ears is because each ear consisted of a front and a back, not because the teddy was a mutant.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Amy Winehouse's Stunning Gig

I don't suppose Amy Winehouse knits, but this is the figure of her from Carol Meldrum's new book, Knitted Icons. That's because this post isn't about knitting, but this is meant to be a knitting blog. That podgy arm behind her belongs to Borat, but I've cut him out of the picture because he's a bit distracting in his thong.

A friend of mine was at Amy's gig at Glasgow Barrowlands on Friday, and he sent me an email this morning saying, 'I know I shouldn't expect any better but where are all the rave reviews of her stunning, flawless and sober performance from the Barrowlands last night?'

He's quite right. There are a few acknowledgements of the fact that it was a great gig but there are many more stories about her smoking on the plane and being grumpy at the airport. The fact that she gave a fabulous show should be news, but mysteriously it isn't. Who would want to be famous?

Linked Rib Again

Having been so clever when I started off the Linked Rib, I was pretty unimpressive when I picked it up again. Instead of separating the stitches as Lynne says, I separated them alternately. Why? I don't know.

It's like when I was starting Aria; the instructions quite clearly say to knit one tbl but instead I knitted one fb. Twice. So when I got to the next row, I had two extra stitches. I call this knitting blindness, although I suppose it's really pattern blindness. Sometimes I'm so busy thinking ahead that I can't actually see what's in front of me.

However, when I went round to see Jean, it was quite clear that she was getting on very well without any insights from me. She's doing it in Noro Silk Garden and getting on like a house on fire.

I have been doing some little fiddly knitting for a couple of the younger members of the family. There's a baby hat which you will see tomorrow, and something else.

Can you tell that this is?

Here's a clue.
Those of you have been enjoying the Kauni Jigsaw that I dedicated to Natalie might like to go to the Knitting New Scarves Knitalong and see the really fiendish one I've put on the sidebar there. It's a close-up of my tweedy Tilted Tiles Scarf.

Someday soon somebody is going to ask me what I do with my spare time and I am going to have to say that I take photographs of my knitting, turn them into jigsaws, and put them up on the internet. A likely story, indeed.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Blogger Help

Knitting a single solitary flange seems to have used up all my cleverness for the time being.

Can anyone tell me how I add to my sidebar an image which is also a link? I have tried and tried and can't see how to do it. I can do one or the other, but not both at the same time.

When I click on 'Add a Page Element', I get a pop-up which has a long list of options but none of them seems to offer this. If anyone can tell me which option I should select, I will be hugely grateful.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Linked Rib

My friend Jean, who is a much more accomplished knitter than I am, said she was having some trouble with the Linked Rib scarf from Knitting New Scarves, so I thought I would cast on and see if I could understand the pattern. I had noticed that some of the scarves included flanges and had thought, Well, I must have a look at that some day, and then I knitted three of the easiest scarves in the book. This scarf has a flange.
I cast on last night. It's Rowan Kid Classic, one of my favourite yarns and a very well behaved one in that it tends to stay where you put it and doesn't slide about or twist when you're not looking at it. I probably won't knit an entire scarf out of it because I want to knit others first, but it suits the pattern. The cast on is one of the trickiest parts of the whole thing, but it's only 30 stitches and even I couldn't lose concentration or patience in that time. I felt enormously pleased with myself when I got to this stage. There was a certain amount of foul language, but that was caused more by my lack of dexterity than by the pattern. Look, a flange. And a glass of wine, I know. You can see some of my knitting paraphernalia there too, or 'clutter' as some people call it.

Then I followed the instructions for the next part. I had some confidence by now and the instructions are very clear. The author, Lynne Barr, has a very three-dimensional way of thinking about knitting and I tend to be very linear (I have been accused of having two left brains) but I really understood what was going on. I even felt a certain insouciance about sliding stitches on and off needles in order to do the setting up for the next stage. Sometimes a little knitting under the influence isn't a bad thing.
Then I had to shift all the stitches around again and discovered why the pattern calls for six needles, Yes, six. My set of rosewood 4mm dpns is only five needles, so I had a rummage in the clutter, sorry, paraphernalia. I considered using a metal dpn but I thought that might slide out at some critical moment, and then I came across these. They're little dpns for knitting the fingers of gloves, 4 inches long, which I bought by mistake once - the hazards of buying online and not reading the description properly.

Anyway, it doesn't say anywhere that all six dpns have to be the same length, and they don't; it worked very nicely.
I then did the next five rounds and decided that I had been quite clever enough for one evening (and besides, do you see, my glass is empty) so I stopped there.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Knitting New Scarves

In addition to the Flickr Knitalong for Knitting New Scarves, there is now a knitalong blog too.

Go here and sign up.

You know you want to.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Prioritisation and Procrastination

I am vaguely aware that I have quite a few projects in hand. Some of them have deadlines, like the daisy hat for the baby could be taken to her by her uncle and auntie who are visiting her for Thanksgiving, if I get a move on.

The Aria scarf needs to be ready for Christmas, which means ready to post on the something-teenth, which is a dawdle but only if I actually keep on knitting, not if I put it aside because I 'have plenty of time'.

And there's the scarf with pockets for Cara; I'm not sure whether that's a Christmas present or not.

And there's Mavis, the Noro sweater for my friend. (Mavis seems to me to be a very '50s name, I'm slightly surprised to see it in a Noro book. My mother had a friend called Mavis, who drove an Austin 7. Ancient car, even then, but very glam in its own way.) That's not urgent, but then again I don't want to leave it too long and get bored with it before I've started. The lower half of the body and the sleeves is in a chevron pattern which I expect will go quite quickly.

And there are other things; the blessed Kauni, which I am itching to return to, and another Christmas Scarf from Knitting New Scarves, although I don't know which one yet. And things which are lurking. I have another Errol to sew together, for instance.

I sort of think I should Make a List, but then I might feel overwhelmed instead of feeling pleasantly busy.

If I learnt to knit backwards, I would finish the Aria scarf slightly quicker, but maybe it would take me so long to learn that there would be an overall loss of time.

Or I could learn how to knit noodles and get nothing useful done at all.

Seriously though, interesting cast on.

Friday, 9 November 2007


I have started Aria and am at the end of the first ball of yarn. It's Rowan Natural Silk Aran, which is viscose, silk and linen.

I think describing viscose as 'natural' is a bit controversial: it's produced from natural materials, wood or cotton, but the method is very industrial. I can remember it being called rayon, and before that 'art silk', which was short for 'artificial silk'. These names reflect changing fashions in how the fabrics have been sold to us - which of course is influenced by how we want to see ourselves - artificial silk was an attractive idea in the 1920s but artifice then became unfashionable; space-age names ending in '-on' were glamorous in the '50s and then became tacky, and now we're back with it being desirable to be natural, or at least appearing to be.

Speaking of space-age names, does anyone else remember Orlon? I thought it had vanished altogether but I've just checked and it's an acrylic fibre which apparently is still in use for clothing, amongst other things. I certainly haven't seen the word on a label for a very long time, so maybe it's just included under the general term, acrylic fibre.

Anyhow, back to Aria. I think the yarn works perfectly with the pattern. The linen in the yarn makes it look very crisp, but the silk makes it very soft, so it folds flat. It can be folded double, so that there are two rows of frills.

The colours you see here aren't good, although the second one catches the sheen better: the light is so bad just now, it's like photographing mud. The shade is 461, Flax, a very pretty pale blue with silvery and gold lights, and it drapes beautifully. If you've ever done short rows, the pattern is easy peasy; I had it memorized after one repeat. I find metal needles too slippery for this yarn, so I'm using Scottish Fibres' lovely rosewood dpns, the 5mm size.

At the end of the first 50g ball, it measures 9 inches, although I think it'll stretch in wear. I have 6 balls but I don't know whether I'll use them all. There's only 71 yards in a ball and I don't suppose that's enough for a hat, even for a person with a smaller head than mine, which is most people.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

I finished the Tilted Block Scarf. I love, love, love it and I'm going to make one for myself just as soon as Christmas is out of the way.

One of the nice things about making it long enough to wrap around is that the shape forms peaks around your throat.

Do you see anything you want to borrow, Lindsay?

I've been trying out things with the Rowan Natural Silk Aran for my allergic god-daughter. I tried Shag but the yarn is just too fine and the result looked muddled.

I tried a bit of feather-and-fan. You can't go wrong with feather-and-fan, I always say, and the swatch looks good, but then I thought, 'What is the point of buying a book called Knitting New Scarves and then knitting a very old scarf?'

So I tried Twisted. This is a simple idea, once you've wrestled with it, but tricky enough for you to feel really clever when you get the hang of it. I've done a bit of 'double knitting' before, using the method where you slip alternate stitches, but this method is a little faster, I think.

However, the silk and linen in this yarn make it a bit unforgiving and I decided I would get sore hands if I continued. I'll do this one later, with wool.

I had another look through the patterns and came across Aria, which is the lovely ruffly sea creature. It was one of the first scarves I wanted to do in this book, and I think it will suit the yarn very well. It will suit the long, skinny style too. I'll cast on and see if I can find a film to go with it.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Fab patterns

I first came across Mochimochi's blog when Jean (at least, I think it was Jean: I can't find the entry now) linked to her mother-in-law's stash, and I was gobsmacked by her designs.

I'm not usually given to knitting toys; I've done the odd rabbit, but it's not a major interest. Anna's patterns are so offbeat and charming, though, that they're very hard to resist. There's a Flickr group for Mochimochi Friends.

I knitted some Grass, although I have to confess that I haven't sewn it and stuffed it yet; and I have bought the Rainy Cloud pattern and plan to knit it for the newest baby in the family, although I might do it in fluffy white instead of rainy grey.

Mochimochi is offering a Christmas deal just now, with a free reindeer pattern if you buy any of her patterns.
I'm not on commission; I just think they're lovely, inventive patterns.

Speaking of the newest baby in the family, she's arrived. Her parents were so sure she was a boy that they hadn't really thought of a name for a girl, but I'm sure they'll think of something soon. She weighs 8 pounds and she has strawberry blonde hair, so I think she needs a daisy hat. I'll just finish the Tilted Blocks Scarf first.

New Noro

My friend finally managed to choose a shade of Noro Silk Garden. It's 226, and I collected it from the sorting office yesterday. I went out briefly on Saturday so they seized the opportunity to deliver a postcard saying they'd tried to deliver a parcel. Sometimes, I'd swear they're watching the house.As usual, it looks like some of the balls are from a different shade, let alone a different dye lot, but I'm sure it'll all work out in the end.

My friend hasn't sent the pattern yet, so I can't cast on, but that gives me time to finish this:

I had a stash hunt last night, to see if I had another ball of the yarn, and I thought I'd found one but it turned out to be the greeny blue shade of Yorkshire Tweed, while the original is the bluey green.

The flash has heightened the difference and in fact, they work very well together. I could have stopped and the scarf would have looked fine - well, better than fine, although I say it myself - but I really want to make this long and skinny, so I'm going with the colour change. And if I run out of this shade too soon, I found a ruffle scarf I knitted with it when I was addicted to ruffle scarves and I can rip that.

On closer examination, I think this might be the DK, not the aran weight.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Tilted Blocks and Parrots

I kept going with Tilted Blocks yesterday. It was so grey all day that it really wasn't worth taking photographs. I took this today.It's about 53 inches long now. The pattern says 60, but I would like to keep going beyond that if I can find another ball of this wool.

I could wash it and stretch it a bit by blocking, I suppose, but I wouldn't want to overdo that.

I wonder what on earth it was called; something like Spruce perhaps because that's what it makes me think of. I think it's discontinued.

I watched a wonderful film last night, called The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. That's exactly what it's about, too, parrots which have been accidentally or otherwise released from captivity and live in the trees on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. It's about some of the human beings as well, especially the man who feeds them, although as he points out they don't depend on him and would survive if he stopped feeding them, as he eventually does because he has to move away. He explains this after a passer-by remarks, 'They can't be wild if you've got names for them.' Some of the humans are stranger than the parrots.

It has some surprises, including a soundtrack which includes Jack Kerouac singing 'Ain't We Got Fun?', which for me was worth the price of admission (or rental) on its own. And it has the best ending I've seen on a film in a long time. I won't spoil it for you but I sat and watched it with a big smile on my face, and then ran it back and watched it again.

It's beautifully shot and the colours are as exciting as you might expect; you kind of want to knit an enormous felted bag after watching it.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Tilted Blocks Scarf

A friend had started on the Tilted Block Scarf from Knitting New Scarves and was having problems. We were due to meet today so I said to bring it with her and I would have a look at it. So that I wouldn't be speaking from a position of total ignorance, I cast on last night, intending to do a couple of blocks just to see if it worked the way I thought it did. I liked it so much I kept going, and when we met today she hadn't brought her scarf but I was able to show her mine. She said, 'I think mine's going the other way,' so I turned mine over and she said, 'Oh.' So I don't know if I was any help.

This is a Rowan Yorkshire Tweed. It isn't Chunky as it's meant to be; I think it's Aran, but I like the smaller scale. I can't remember the name, but it's a lovely forest-y green with dabs of blue and light olive.

The tiles are nearly four inches wide, and three inches high. One of my nieces loves anything dark green (well, almost anything) so this will be a Christmas present for her. More photos when it isn't dark.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Shag Scarf Completed

I finished the Shag Scarf from Knitting New Scarves last night. You're meant to keep going until it's 49 inches long, but I had a bit of yarn left after that so I just kept going till it was all done. I used one skein of Debbie Bliss Maya (2 balls of Soho if you're in the US) and a bit that was left in the bag. You don't really need the extra bit.

Every time I measure it, it comes up a different length anyway; the stitch is very elastic and the yarn is quite heavy so it lengthens in wear. It's a little wider than it should be, 3.5 inches instead of 3 inches.

This pattern would work in all sorts of lengths. A friend suggested that it could be made quite short, with a fastening at one end, so that you wear it as a collar with one dangling tail, like a jabot. I might try one like that.

I think it would also be good in a lighter yarn made very long and wrapped round and round.

I am thinking about making a scarf for my god-daughter from Rowan's Natural Silk Aran for Christmas (she is allergic to every animal fibre under the sun so it's the perfect excuse for breaking out the silk). I'm going to try it with this pattern; it might be too narrow even for this winter's fashion but I'll give it a go.

I love how this looks from the back: it looks like dinosaur scales.

The diagonals show the yarn off a treat.

I have a great notion to make this up in shocking pink or a really juicy purple, in a soft yarn.

Lorna's Laces Bittersweet would be fabulous, but I think I only have that in Sock, not Worsted. It would be a terrible extravagance to buy some, wouldn't it?

Anyway, I'm very pleased with this. My only question
now is whether I make another Shag in a different yarn, or if I do a different pattern.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Kaffe Fasset Sock Yarn Hat

Jean suggested that I write up the pattern for the Kaffe Fassett sock yarn hat. I'm not sure that I can remember what I did.

I think I used a 3.5mm needle (U.S. 4). That's quite big for sock yarn, but I didn't need a close texture. It was a 40cm circular, Addi turbo, that I'm sure of.

The tension is 30 stitches to four inches on a smaller needle, so I think I guessed about 7 stitches to one inch. My head is 22 inches around, plus a little for luck, plus a little more because I didn't want it too tight, so altogether it was about 170 stitches. Most people could do with a lot less than that, I expect.

Then I knitted until I thought, Omigod, I'm not going to have enough yarn left, which was about 7.5 inches, and then I started decreasing fairly fast, knit 4, knit 2 tog, for a few rows and then a bit faster. This makes the top flattish. If I were making this for a child, I think I would do more of a stocking cap, or a dunce's cap, with a slow, tapering point.

Once I'd got down to three stitches and felt a bit more confident about having enough yarn, I knitted i-cord until it was long enough to knot.

I haven't blocked it because I expect the yarn will relax when I do, and I'm not sure I want it to.

Today I am being monogamous with the Shag scarf, and hope to finish it tomorrow. Let's hope the sun shines for the photos.