Friday, 24 December 2010

Just a Quick One

I thought you would be riveted to know that I finished the Marsan Watch Cap in time. I even photographed it. It was a bit of a dash at the end, but that was more because I got up so late than anything else. And last night I took the time to do a Christmas manicure, which didn't really help.

I didn't do the foldy bit, because I decided the giftee would probably rather have it just as a beanie. I would have liked to do it, as a knitterly experiment, but I resisted.

I like the look of twisted rib very much and for a while I always did ribbing that way; I'm not sure why I stopped. Combined with the Malabrigo Worsted, it makes a beautifully bouncy and squidgy fabric.

Having done so much twisted rib in the last few days however, and up against a deadline, I now feel mysteriously drawn to doing several miles of stocking stitch in the round, so I'm not sure where that leaves Koolhaas. He might just get a nice plain hat instead, or come midnight I might be tempted again. We'll see.

In order to help me decide, I'm now going to have rather a lot to eat and drink. I hope you are too, and Merry Christmas.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Mostly Christmas Knitting

Christmas cards
The images in the photo of the Eternity Scarf in my previous post are some of my Christmas cards, which I had finally got round to writing. Well spotted, Judith. They're from the National Galleries of Scotland: these links won't work for long but the choirboys are here and the Dutch scene is here. The choirboys are by Mabel Royds, who excelled in woodcuts. The Dutch scene is a detail from one of Avercamp's winter landscapes, paintings that can keep you occupied for hours.

The chaps in this detail are playing a game called 'kolf' apparently.

I forgot to tell you about my adventures with the Wild Saffron pattern, from Rowan's Purelife Autumn book.

I fell for this design like a ton of bricks when I saw it, and got a ball of Renew in Diesel to try it out. The reason I didn't immediately buy enough yarn for the whole thing was that a small voice of reason was pointing out to me that although this was the sort of thing that I would have loved (and suited) when I was young and slim, it might not make me so happy now that I'm not-so-young and not-so-slim.

The pattern rquires some concentration, so my first task was to blow it up so that I could see one section at a time, and concentrate on it.

I found this worked well and was a small amount of trouble for the benefits. I did a swatch, which I realize now I didn't photograph, but I found that when a row didn't seem to have the right stitch in the right place on the row below (the number of stitches isn't the same from one row to the next) I didn't quite care enough to go back and find out where it went wrong. I think that if I had been more convinced about the outcome being something that that I, in 2011 rather than 1983, might actually wear, I would have persevered but the small voices were getting louder and I decided that in this instance it might be wiser not to be as determined as I know I can be. I could almost hear the gunpowder running out at the heels of my boots. So I ripped it. I still think it's a lovely pattern. The Renew has a nice hand, and I'd like to do one of the other patterns in the book at some time.

I got these goodies recently, lots of nice Rowan-y things. I'm scared to use the keyring in case she gets grubby, but I suppose she would dispel dirt quite easily, being 100% wool.

The new Rowan book is out very soon, and I realize I never got round to mentioning number 48, which is one of my favourites ever, when it came out. It has chunky classics, intricate colourwork and fine evening wear, all at their Rowany-est and I think I would like to be buried with it.

I may not ever knit anything from it, of course, but that is genuinely another matter. I don't think I would have been a knitter without Rowan: obviously I have used other designs and other yarns, but it was the Rowan style and the availability of their ideas which encouraged me and even from time to time inspired me, so even when I don't knit anything from a particular book, they still make me want to knit.

Xmas knitting
I seem to be keepingup with all my self-imposed challenges. I finished the Eternity in Stone and handed it over in time for the giftee to head to Gothenburg at 5 o'clock on Wednesday morning. I'm sort of hoping for a model shot but you'll have to be satisfied with this meanwhile.

It doesn't look totally knockout in the pic, but I was very pleased with it. I finished it three times: I decided it was too narrow the first time, and that the rolled edge rolled too much the second time, so I did a few rows of garter stitch instead. It still rolls a bit, but it doesn't vanish. I think the Malabrigo rolls more than some yarns would. I'd like to knit more of these.

And I finally finished the Beret: I decreased another 8 stitches and that seems to be right. I tried it on a friend with a small head and it fitted. I've bought some elastic anyway, so if it flops over the giftee's ears, help will be at hand.

Again, I'm impressed with this recipe and would like to do it again. In spite of all the finishing, I feel I've got it right in the end.

The matching cowl is still mysteriously at the stage where it 'only' needs to be kitchenered.

The Risers Cowl and Hat are finished. I did the short version, although I used more stitches because my tension was different.

And I may have done a different number of repeats: I just did it until it seemed about the right depth and then I stopped. If you click on this, you can see all the tweedy shades - Rowan's discontinued Yorkshire Tweed Chunky, shade Coast.

Lovely. It's simple, but very effective, and its willingness to crumple and fold makes it perfect for a warm cowl. Thank you, Mary Lou.

And I've cast on the two chaps' hats. The one which has to be handed over first is a Marsan Watch Cap, in yet more Malabrigo Worsted.

The colour is Vaa. It's a little darker in reality.

And the later one is the Koolhaas, in Malabrigo Worsted in Pearl Ten, the perfect mannish mix of brown and purple and greige and mushroom.

I'm getting started with this more slowly than I expected. After re-starting the rib, I completely misunderstood the beginning of the pattern repeat so I had to undo lots of twisted stitches and get it back on the needles again. Jared at Brooklyn Tweed is obviously a very thoughtful and painstaking designer and I think I had expected it to be smoother exercise, but I'll get there.

And I still have to cast on a little pink ballet cardi for a little pink ballet dancer, but that's not so critical time-wise, so I am feeling fairly calm about it all at present. Fairly.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Forwards and Backwards

I've just re-done the ribbing on that pigging hat for the third time, and am casting off again. I cast off another eight stitches and did it on a circ this time, because I think I do ribbing very loosely when I'm working on four needles.

If this doesn't work I'm just going to put some elastic through it. Sue me.

The Eternity Scarf is going a lot better and I was mad to think I wouldn't finish it in time. Of course, now I'm thinking of making a hat as well and tempting fate all over again. The colour, Chapel Stone, isn't one that I would have chosen usually, but it's perfect for this person and it's growing on me.

I noticed that most of the versions of this made in Malabrigo Worsted had got very long and since the giftee is quite slight I didn't want her to be swamped by it. I cast on 170 stitches instead of 200 and it's come out just right. I could have got it out of one skein of the Malabrigo but I've decided to do another inch or so, so that it provides lots of cover. I don't want any sneaky gaps for the wind to get in.

I also cast on for a Koolhaas Hat in another shade of Malabrigo, but I made a daft mistake for about three rows so that's to be started again. Blame it on the cold weather. I think I must be the last knitter on the western hemisphere to embark on this project, but I'm looking forward to it. And this time I get the ribbing over at the beginning.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas over at The Big Picture.

Donice, I hope your snow isn't too awful and inconvenient. Your comment provoked a slight attack of Tourette's in me. Whenever I hear of Columbus, Ohio, I blurt out, 'The high water mark of our life in Columbus Ohio, was the night the bed fell on Father.' I was raised on, amongst other things, the works of James Thurber and S.J. Perelman (I often think how my father must have quailed at the sight of me waddling towards him with a New Yorker Album in my chubby hands, pointing at a cartoon and saying, 'What does this one mean?') and I know chunks of them off by heart. So this seems a good time to link to that story: it may not be very Christmassy in itself but it's a good tale for a winter afternoon.

Friday, 10 December 2010

More Snow and More Knitting

Another snowy photo, this time of a giant bootprint. It's from the BBC News website. An Edinburgher called Nial Smith did it in his back green - it's a sort of snowy crop circle, I suppose. What I want to know is, how did he not leave any footprints?

Big version here.

I think I promised you a model shot of the Cowl that Became a Balaclava.

As you can see, it can be worn in such a way as to provide maximum coverage. And minimum recognition.

I have been getting on well with some of my Malabrigo and Christmas knitting. The Amoroso became a beret, but then I ripped back the ribbing and I'm doing it again with slightly fewer stitches. The One Day Beret is a very good recipe. It might make me an aficionado of top-down hats. I made the top 12 inches across, and did just over 2 inches of stocking stitch between the increases and the decreases, and then got worried about it being too slouchy, but now I don't think it will be.

As you can see, it has plenty of lifelines.

I finished one ball of wool on the Burberry cowl and took its photograph.

Tonight I finished the second ball and now I 'just' have kitchener it. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this pattern; it's exactly the right mixture of paying attention and sailing along, and if you do an extra row now and again it doesn't matter. There's always something happening and it turns into what it's meant to be. I had some bother with it gaping at the cables, and I couldn't work out what I was doing differently when it did and when it didn't, but because of the general squidginess it doesn't matter.

I've not been doing so well with the two skeins of Malabrigo in Chapel Stone.

I thought I could cheat and I started an Eternity Scarf with two strands on an 8mm circ, but it's not working. I expected two strands of Malabrigo to be heaven, but it's too loose and slides about on the Addi Turbo. I allowed myself 24 hours off to think about it, and I'm now in overtime. This is the present that has to be handed over first, on the 22nd, so I had better get my deciding cap on.

If you're stll in the mood for snow photos, this is one of my favourite things, the Angel of the North.

The Angel of the North, by Antony Gormley, in snow, December 2010 Copyright North News and Pictures

If you're not familiar with him in fair weather, you can see him here.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Cold and Hot

Two pictures and a little film tonight.

One of a white UK, totally snowed out. You can see a little patch of green, although presumably in forty shades, on the west coast of Ireland. The image was received from a NASA satellite called Terra by the University of Dundee Satellite Receiving Station.

You can see lots of Scottish snow here.

Two, an ad which you may have seen before but which I think is worth resurrecting this week. Turn on the speakers.

And three, a cosy one of the Burberry Inspired Cowl, in Malabrigo Worsted. The colour is Amoroso.

I can't believe how fast this is knitting up. I knitted the above in an evening, although you have to bear in mind that the evening starts around 3.30 at the moment, and I stayed up late. Still. I can't believe how quickly the next pattern row comes along. The pattern is very good for such a squidgy yarn, as it's self-squidging.

Click on the picture and you can warm your hands at it.