Saturday, 29 March 2008


Many thanks for the helpful comments about the Forest Canopy yardage. Kathy in Juneau reminded me about the Triangular Shawl Calculator, which was handy anyway but what was even better was that she reminded me of Rose Kim, whom I lost in the Great Accidental Blog List Loss of January '08 when I accidentally deleted my Sage list, and it's so nice to find her again.

And Spinning Fishwife has given me lots of useful information specifically about the yardage for the FC, not least reminding me it's a two-row cast-off; the chances of my remembering that on my own are non-existent. I often think of buying digital scales, but whenever I'm in front of a set of them in a shop, I find myself delaying the purchase. Oh that I were so wise when I'm in front of a skein of wool. When I get my second skein of Lagoon I should be able to plan the border fairly minutely and not run out - would you put money on it?

But meanwhile I am pining dreadfully. I'm plodding diligently round and round the All Seasons Cotton sweater, but my fingers are itching for lace. I haven't forgotten Drifting Pleats but I know I have too much brain fog to start that just now. It would end in tears, or worse.

So I've identified about four yarns that I could make another Forest Canopy out of, and I've also thought this might finally be a good time to start Icarus. I've always loved this shawl, but not been entirely convinced that I could do it - the Forest Canopy has increased my confidence to the stage where I think I might. And I'm pretty sure I want to finish it off with a few rows in a darker shade, as some people did from necessity, with terrific effect. And maybe some beads? I've done beads by the method where you thread them onto the yarn and wasn't inclined to repeat that with 900 yards of yarn, but today I discovered how you do it with a crochet hook and I might try that. But should I really start a 900-yard shawl just to fill a few days while I wait for the yarn to finish the FC?
This skein of Schaefer Anne has been haunting me for a few years now; it's not enough for Icarus, but it would make a Forest Canopy, or a stole/scarf in the pattern used in the shawl. The designer, Susan Pierce Lawrence, says it's based on the Openwork Diamonds from Barbara Walker's first Treasury, but it looks to me more like the Openwork Leaf. Either way, this yarn has little enough colour that I don't think it would interfere with the stitch pattern.

Dufy said that we don't see form and colour at the same time (well, somebody else may have said it first, but I noticed it when Dufy said it) and I suppose that's why variegated yarns can fight so hard with patterns sometimes, as the eye keeps trying to switch between the two.
I'm quite sure I won't get through this weekend without casting on something lacy, but I don't know yet whether it will be something manageable that I can finish before the rest of the Lagoon arrives or not long after, or whether it will be a larger, all-consuming and somewhat insane enterprise.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Forest Canopy Maths

I've finished the skein of Fyberspates' Blue-Faced Leicester that I was using for the Forest Canopy Shawl. Jen conveniently asked on her blog today if anyone needs any particular colours, so I asked her if she could do some bfl in Lagoon and she asked me back, regular or superwash? This caused me track down the end of the ball, knit the fastest swatch ever, one-inch square, and run through to the bathroom to run it under the hot tap and generally abuse it. The answer came back, superwash. It looked a little bit battered, but it hadn't felted or shrunk. So that's useful to know. If I decide to give it away, I can give it to someone careless. Although I think I might keep it. I prefer stoles to shawls since I have no shoulders to speak of, but I think I'm going to like this. Knitting Linguist asked if I have a blue thing going on - I always have a blue thing going on, so much so that at the moment my nail polish matches the Forest Canopy Shawl. (Those aren't my nails: I borrowed the photo.)

Since I mastered the pattern and have had time to think while knitting, I have been worrying about starting the border too soon and having a small shawl and lots of yarn left over, or alternately not starting soon enough and having to rip it back after I've done half of the border. I know I want to make it as large as I can, and larger than the pattern. I thought there must be a way round this. Each row is longer than the last, so one can't calculate that way.

It occurred to me this evening that since the pattern is made up of squares, I could count the squares and that would give me a unit of measurement. It's 11.5 squares at the centre now, so that's 144 squares from one skein. The blocks which make up the border design look as if they use a little more yarn than a square - I could make them shallower but I think I want them quite pointy. As the number of squares increases by two per row, I think that means I can do five more rows and a shallow border, or four more rows and a deeper border. In other words, half again as deep and as wide. I wonder if that's enough. I expect it is, after blocking. I shall probably waken repeatedly tonight, counting squares.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Can't Put it Down

I blocked the faggotted scarf from Victorian Lace Today. It started out at 62" x 10" and ended up as 84" x 13". I could have stretched it more but I didn't particularly think it would gain from it, and it's not a good idea for me to spend too much time hunched over a lot of pins, so I let it go at that.I don't feel hugely pleased with this: I had higher hopes of it. But I think for what I had in mind I should have used a different yarn, and as it is I think the yarn is the best thing about it, so in the end I'm not complaining. It's sock yarn from the Yarn Yard, in crocus colours. I think my friend will like the scarf, which is actually more important. I will parcel it and the Scaruffle up and send them off. Again, the really vivid violet is missing from these photos.
I have cast on twice for the Drifting Pleats scarf, but haven't been paying sufficient attention either time. I have now copied out the instructions in large print and with lots of gaps so that I can focus better on what I'm trying to do. That should help.
And I see what everybody means about the Forest Canopy Shawl - it's very moreish, isn't it? I've had to rip it back a couple of times, because I've insisted on knitting it in a bad light and when watching something very interesting on the television, but I can't put it down. I should knit the All Seasons Cotton sweater when I'm doing that, but I haven't. I'm using Fyberspates' lovely Blue Faced Leicester sock in Lagoon, but I think I'm going to run out.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


My friend rang tonight to say that Mavis has arrived and fits. Phew. She also said that she likes it very much. She said that her friend Laurie had admired it, which pleased me enormously because Laurie is French and perhaps I should have more national pride, but getting praise about clothes from a Frenchwoman is somehow more reassuring than getting praise from anyone else.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Done and Posted

I parcelled Mavis up today and sent her off. I had another look at the neckline in bright light and still couldn't find the end, so I decided that this was a sign that I shouldn't do any more to it. Thank you very much, Zippiknits, for your encouraging comment too. It was just what I needed. The yarn softened up even more in the blocking and I began to wonder how much wear Silk Garden stands up to - should I knit elbow pads?

I had to buy an extra ball to finish off the scarf (having started it in order to finish up left-over yarn, ho hum), which I got from Jannette as usual, and I noticed that she has this - black and grey Kauni. How cool is that? You could knit words in it. If you drew up the charts.

And here is a prettier picture of the Scaruffle, as promised. It's very dainty, and I keep picking it up to play with it. For those who are new to the party, it's the Scaruffle from The Knitter's Book of Yarn, and it must be the easiest thing ever, if you can just master knitting with air (Kidsilk Haze) and barrage balloons (8.5mm needles). One of my uncles did Highland dancing when he was in the Army (he was a bandsman), and they were taught to dance in their Army boots so that when they put on dancing shoes they simply flew into the air. I think a similar effect takes place here. Knitting with matchsticks would be easy afterwards.

I've started Chrissy in the Organic (that's the colour, not the method of production) All Seasons Cotton but it's not really worth photographing. Imagine some string on an Addi circ and you've got it. I had the usual dither about what size to knit: the largest size is to fit a 40" bust, but it measures 60 inches. I don't think I actually want it too oversized, although I want it quite oversized, which is no help at all. The other ASC sweater I knitted grew with washing but it grew sideways - one expects cotton to stretch lengthwise but this has 40% microfibre so it grows sideways instead. I'm doing the ribbing at the moment, which has some curious pickup-stitch -between-needles, slip-stitch sort of tomfoolery at the ends, so I'm curious to see what that's in aid of.

Chrissy is intended to be totally thoughtless knitting, so I will need something a little more challenging to do as well. I got a an email at the weekend telling me about this sale and decided that it would be too great a shame to pass up the duck egg blue cashmere at this extraordinary price. I didn't really buy it; I just put it on my credit card and that doesn't count, does it? Not another bleeding scarf, I hear you say - I can hear you smiting you forehead too - but this one is going to be for me. You wouldn't deny me a duck egg blue cashmere scarf, would you? My very favourite colour? If all else fails, it will just be a single rib, but I'm secretly hoping I might manage to do a Drifting Pleats - be still, my beating heart.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Festival of Finishing

There's been a Festival of Finishing round here. The Scaruffle is off the needles: I didn't really block it, just gave it a soak and then squeezed it in a towel and laid it to dry naturally, no pinning. The photo above shows how much yarn was left over from one ball of Kidsilk Haze - not enough for another Scaruffle, but still quite a lot. From being unfeasibly frothy, it settled down and now looks like something you might wear seriously and not as part of a fancy dress costume. It's very pretty. It looks terrible in the last photograph; I'll try to take a better one tomorrow. I didn't think to measure it before soaking but the neck edge is a lot longer. I'll definitely do this again. It would look lovely in Kidsilk Spray, or with some beads scattered here and there, and I'm wondering whether it would work in stocking stitch: the Kidsilk is so light, I don't think the curling would be a huge problem and anyway I could do a few stitches of garter stitch at each edge. In stocking stitch, it could be striped, a sort of mini Earth Stripe Wrap. Very mini.

The Mavis scarf is finished and is blocking. I didn't pin it very rigorously, just enough to make the points nice and pointy. Seeing it in bright daylight today, I realized that the colour that I thought was cream is actually a pale pink, and not really all that pale. The colours around it must have sucked the pink out of it.

While I was doing the Mavis scarf, I decided that I would revisit the neckline of the sweater after all, just undo the cast off and knit another couple of rows with a few decreases, but when I went back to it tonight I could not for the life of me find where I'd finished and woven in the last end. I seem to have managed a perfect bit of finishing. I'll have a look at it in the sunshine tomorrow and see if that helps.

And I think the VLT scarf is finished. I haven't actually cast off yet, because I may as well continue with it until there's space to block it, but it won't be getting much longer. I don't think there'll be any sort of border on it after all. I even thought about putting a fringe on it in the crocus blue, but I feel that would limit it a bit. I may change my mind (surely not?) once it's blocked, but I don't think so. I can see quite a lot of mistakes in it but I never built up any confidence about taking it back, so I carried on regardless. I suppose it's because there aren't any plain rows in it, there's never any basis of sanity that you can return to.

Strangers on a Train was on yesterday afternoon. I watched the beginning and wondered when Margaret Rutherford was going to show up, and then remembered that was The Lady Vanishes, and anyway it was Dame May Whitty, not Margaret Rutherford. I eventually realized that I've never actually seen Strangers on a Train before, although I knew what the plot was and I've seen clips, so I watched it all. I even put my needles down for the last ten minutes; I was quite transfixed.

The Dale Damask pattern went for just over £11 ($22.55) but I don't feel any pangs of regret. Rather more amazingly, Solveig Hisdal's Poetry in Stitches was on eBay last week, and went for nearly $200. I have a copy of that already.

I was successful in my bid for the All Seasons Cotton in Organic yesterday although I almost paid full price for it, so I will start an ASC sweater this week, in either the Organic or the Iceberg. I'm sort of tempted to do something with a bit of gansey patterning on it, since ASC has lovely stitch definition and there's one in No Sheep For You which I could do, or there's Chrissy from Rowan Book 31, seen on the left. There's no surprises or anything to show off here, but I do like a classic, and sometimes they're the hardest patterns to find. Or I could be the last person in the western world to knit Rogue, although I think that I would rather do that in a darker shade, maybe the dark blue ASC that is currently in the wardrobe. Or the grey. Cheerful, eh?

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Knitting with Kittens

Mavis is finished. Unless I decide to undo the neck cast-off and knit a bit more. What do you think? It's quite low, isn't it? I'm working on the matching scarf, also in chevron stitch, but have stopped on that in case I need the last bit of yarn to finish off the neck.
I don't think the sleeves are really as long as they look here: once there are shoulders inside, the sleeves will come up a bit. The Silk Garden softened up even more with blocking. I think it will continue to mellow with further washing. The yarn snapped a couple of times when I was seaming it - well, not so much snapped as fell apart with a soft sigh. It's funny to think it's the same content as Kidsilk Haze, which can take your finger off if you try to break it in the wrong place.

The Victorian Lace Today scarf has reached 58 inches, so maybe it's time to think about casting off on that. I ripped the border because it wasn't possible to line the two patterns up in a way that looked right to me: the big gaps in the faggotting wouldn't align with the close garter stitch on the border. I will have another look at borders.

I cast on for a Scaruffle, from The Knitter's Book of Yarn. This is for the same friend as the VLT scarf; as previously established, you can't have too many scarves. This gave me an opportunity to try the Addi Lace Needles, which are bliss. The pattern starts off on 3.75mm needles, for which I substituted the 4mms I'd just bought, and after a few rows requires a change to 8mm, which is what's happening in the photo. It's Kidsilk Haze in shade 581, Meadow. Knitting this yarn on these lace needles is even more bliss, like knitting with kittens.
While Mavising, I have decided to rip the Kauni snails. They would be fun to knit on mittens, but on something this size (can't remember exactly, but over 240 stitches) they're a bit of a bore. And, they're not a real Fair Isle pattern, by which I mean that they don't have rhythm or symmetry, so the purist in me disapproves. I'm looking again for a 'real' pattern. Someone on eBay is selling the Damask pattern which looks so wonderful in Kauni yarn, but I expect it will go for a lot and I still don't think it's what I want anyway. The Yarn Nest is doing a very nice pattern by Eunny Jang - I like the idea of something which looks curved. The hunt continues.

Speaking of eBay, I bought a few balls of All Seasons Cotton in Iceberg this week. When I was looking through my stash for something else last week, I found ten balls of Iceberg which I had no memory whatsoever of buying, although I now think I got them in Jenner's half-price sale which they had when they were closing down the old, fairly nice yarn department in order to open the new, devastatingly dull yarn department. Ten balls of ASC isn't much use to me, so I snapped up these four and am now looking for a project. I hope to get a few balls of ASC in Organic too, to make a usable amount for the ten balls I have of that. Organic is the warm, natural shade, not to be confused with Bleached, which is the bright white, or Cookie, which is dark beige, or Jersey, which is light beige. Iceberg is a marvellously watery pale blueish greyish green, or greenish greyish blue, depending on the time of day and prevailing weather conditions. I think my mother would have called it Eau de Nil, although nowadays that name seems to be used for a darker shade. I've found a pattern in Rowan mag 31, which I might use for the Organic. Watch this space.

I have had my eye on the Forest Canopy Shawl for a while; I bought the pattern, and even swatched a bit once. I have a horror of shawls which get wider and wider as they go on - that ever-increasing row makes me feel quite overwhelmed, even claustrophobic - but perhaps I should use this pattern as a way of getting past that. Everyone who knits it raves about it. Spinning Fishwife has just started one, and Passing Down Crazy has just finished. Hmmm.

This is nothing to do with knitting, but quite a lot of people have been posting this link - I think I most recently found it at Mason-Dixon Knitting - and it makes me laugh every time. If your setup allows you to watch your pc on your television, it's even better. Also nothing to do with knitting, the Guardian has posted a list of the world's 50 most powerful blogs. I didn't check their definition of 'powerful', but if you can read this without adding any blogs to your list, you're a better knitter than I am. Well, that's probably true anyway, but you know what I mean.

There's a new jigsaw, of the Scaruffle. I've had to add it at the top of the jigsaws, below the LOLCAT, as I can no longer squeeze them in at the foot. I thought it would be a difficult one because of all the wood and all the wool, but there are more visual clues than there appear to be at first.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

K1 Yarns, Jenner's and Mavis

Monday's visit to K1 Yarns was good. It turned out to be a bit of a dry run, because one of us wasn't feeling very well, and another was saving herself for Skip North, but it was a satisfactory start and I'm sure we will do better next time. Jean liked it so much that she went back the next day and bought more wool. I got a pair of the Addi lace needles which I have been keen to try out, not just for lace but because I find the regular Addi needles a bit too rounded and blunt. I haven't tried them yet but I'll let you know when I do - in excruciating detail, no doubt. I might be going to Bristol in the next few months, Gretchen, and that will give me an excuse to go to Get Knitted and acquire some KnitPicks Harmony needles.

One of the things I like about the K1 in Glasgow and this one is that they don't stock any of the stuff you can get easily elsewhere - I like Rowan yarns a lot but it's sort of liberating to go somewhere which doesn't have any at all. Everything they have is a treat - Jamieson's, Artesano, Fyberspates and 100% angora lace-weight. I didn't get any yarn because of the awful queue of plumbers, electricians and a dentist who are standing with their hands out in expectation - it's one of those spells where I feel I might as well stand on the street corner with my wallet open, you know? But K1 had some aran weight alpaca which I can't get out of my mind - in a soft orangey red. I'm pretty sure it was Artesano Alpaca, but their website doesn't mention an aran. When I'm solvent again, I can go back and check. (I couldn't wait and I've checked online, it's that shade at the far left called Sunset.)I went into Jenner's on the way home, to check out the new yarn department and it has to be one of the most dispiriting places in town. If you were selling yarn (just Rowan and Patons, one either side) in a supermarket, this is what it would look like. They do have exhaustive colour ranges of the yarns they stock which I must remember for the future, but it's not somewhere I would go for a browse. In fact the whole store, which used to be an independent and was taken over in 2005 by a chain, is already beginning to have that terrible homogenized look. Given how much money stores must spend on re-vamping and decorating their branches, it amazes me how often they end up being barn-like and depressing. Except for the new styling for Marks and Spencer food halls, which is claustrophobic and depressing.

Anyway, back to knitting. I've been keepin' on with the Victorian Lace Today scarf. I've finished the first skein, which wasn't complete, and I'm at 40 inches. The colours are so beautiful; I've decided that is because they remind me of crocuses that I find the colours spring-like. I've wound another skein and the colours aren't quite so sharp, but part of the joy of scarves is that it won't be noticeable.

I cast on for the toning border at one end, far from convinced that it would work, but actually I think it looks good - that's a Boye needle you can see there, in a carefully matched shade of silvery green, of course.

And Mavis has begun blocking; she's pinned out on the bed, without her arms. And yes, as soon as I saw this photo I went back through to the bedroom and moved the pins; I hadn't noticed how crooked the hem was. I don't know if it's because I have prisms in my lenses, but I can never see if things are crooked; I once stuck posters up in my office and everyone who came into the room burst out laughing because they were all at different angles. Oh well. I didn't have too much trouble getting her pinned out to the required dimensions and if she needs to grow a bit further I think that will be do-able. As soon as she's dry, I'll get on with the sleeves.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Automatic Knitting

It's funny, isn't it, how you sometimes sit down to knit something and you find yourself knitting something quite different. Like automatic writing, we might call this 'automatic knitting'. The haunted among us might say we are carrying out the knitting of those long gone; Freudians that we are doing the knitting that our subconscious wishes to do; or students of creativity that we are releasing our unconscious knitter. Jared says this sort of knitting is 'really refreshing'. It does tend to be free of the stresses that can accompany long-planned or cherished projects.

I had intended to return to the Kauni snails, but the pattern for that lacks the rhythm of real Fair Isle knitting, and I was feeling restless. Another friend has requested a knitted birthday present, and she, like me is a scarf aficionado. Where other woman have cupboards full of shoes, we have drawers full of scarves; where other women talk of Blahnik and Choo, we gasp over Liberty and Pucci. You have no idea of the work I had to put in to avoid becoming a Vera junkie when I discovered eBay - the trick is not to buy the first one. I know that she will like the idea of a Victorian pattern, so I thumbed through Victorian Lace Today. I knitted the Scarf on page 80 last year, and found the central pattern nearly drove me insane so I knew I couldn't do that again but I spotted the bordered scarf on page 16.

The yarn is from the Yarn Yard; it was a Sock Club yarn in 2006, I think. Jean gave it to me after she'd knitted this Little Boy Sweater. In a lace stitch it looks very springlike, and since the lace is just simple faggotting and not anything that the eye needs to follow, I think the variegated yarn works with it. It will look totally different after blocking, fortunately. At the moment it definitely fits into the category of boiled ass (TM, Rabbitch, 2006) The needles are Addi circs, size 6.5mm. I would prefer them to be a little bit pointier but I expect you're sick of hearing me wittering on about knitting needles, so I shall say no more. I don't think I'll do a border all the way round, but I might do the ends from the Page 80 Scarf - I thought I might do them with the toes-and-heels yarn that accompanied the yarn; or do you think that would look wrong?

This friend told me something yesterday which she had been afraid to confess, but which I found very flattering: a couple of years ago I knitted her one of those corkscrew scarves that were so compulsive and she lost it in the changing room of a well-known chain store. The flattering bit is that although she realized and went back 20 minutes later, someone had already stolen it.

The pattern is quite eye-intensive, I find - not suitable for watching subtitled films, or indeed any films that you actually want to watch properly, but perfect for watching the Oscars or old episodes of Law and Order. Although it is very simple, I think it would be quite impossible to rip it back and pick it up again correctly, so here's hoping I don't have to. Speaking of the Oscars, did you see Tilda Swinton? She wasn't wearing any make-up - she must have been the only woman within a 100-mile radius of the auditorium of whom that could be said - and she still looked stunning. Actually, I think the Best Supporting Actress should have gone to Amy Ryan, who was nominated for Gone Baby Gone, but never mind. Tilda was pretty good too.

On the subject of watching subtitles, I've just got the DVD of the first episodes of The Wire. It's been shown in the UK, but only on channels that don't have subtitles, so although I found it enthralling I was fairly mystified about what was actually going on a lot of the time. (There isn't anything wrong with my hearing, it's just that everyone mutters these days, honestly. And anyway, how much Baltimore street talk can you understand?) So I am going to watch it with the subtitles on and see if light dawns, or if I will continue to be mystified. Amy Ryan was in that too.

I'm meeting up with Jean and Spinning Fishwife tomorrow, for a spot of retail indulgence at the new branch of K1 Yarns. I think Spinning Fishwife and I, who haven't met before, may have had a mutual friend in the past, so there may be a fourth, absent, friend at the gathering. But I really mustn't buy any yarn.