Sunday, 27 May 2012

No More Twist

Fans of Beatrix Potter might recognize the title of this post. It's from The Tailor of Gloucester and is the note left for the tailor when his mice ran out of silk thread (twist) to stitch the last buttonhole.

Image copyright Frederick Warne
You can see the original of the embroidered waistcoat and more of the illustrations here, on the V&A site.

The plain part of the Purity shawl took about one ball of Kidsilk Haze. It's easy knitting: the only thing you have to remember is to keep your increases nice and loose so that the edge isn't tight. The shape is a straight edge and a very wide, shallow U, both of which have a flounce of lace added to them.

 Quite a lot of people on Ravelry have just added the lace to one edge which gives a less fussy result and while I was working on it I thought I would have to cast off the straight edge and pick up stitches on the U, which I thought would (a) be a lot of faff and (b) make the lace edge a tiny bit rigid at the changeover. However, while I was peering at finished ones on Ravelry I realized that it wasn't necessary to do this - the U stretches out a lot and it makes a nice line across the back of the neck, with a slight rise at the nape. I'm glad I noticed that because it saved me a lot of work and actually looks better.

The lace is easy enough if you're a lace knitter, a six-stitch repeat which is very forgiving because of the flounced effect created by the row of YO K1 before the lace starts. I'm sure mine is full of mistakes but only I will see them. There's a fancy cast-off which I almost thought I wasn't going to do because I thought it meant turning the piece a lot, but when I tried it it was easy peasy and very pretty. It's a kind of crochet cast-off, done on knitting needles. So I've learnt something new.

The lace edging took about one ball of Kidsilk Haze too, making two balls for the shawl. Except that if you knit it all on 5.5mm needles (as in the pattern) at my tension, then you run out of yarn about a yard from the end.

So I hot-footed it back to my dealer, the Edinburgh branch of John Lewis, to get another ball, but not only was there no more Cream KSH from that dyelot, there was none in Cream at all. Quelle horreur. I did have a sneaky thought about finishing it off in some Kidsilk Night I have which is Starlight, a buff pearl with sparkles in it - if it had been for me, I would have done it without hesitation - but this is for a wedding shawl and one really can't cheat then, at least not when it's someone else's.

However, the sterling Lindsay at John Lewis Edinburgh  reached out to the JL Rowan mafia and asked if anyone else had a ball of Cream lurking and thanks to their eternal vigilance, the shawl can be finished. Claire in Cheadle rang me (it was on my birthday that all this happened, which made it even more exciting) with the right colour in the right dyelot, and organized its dispatch northwards. A ball was found by Sarah at Trafford too.

I have it now but I haven't brought myself to finish the cast-off yet. How could anyone bear to finish this?

As some knitters seek out babies to knit shawls for (you know who you are), I think I shall be seeking out brides just so that I can make another one of these.

Thank you Lindsay, and Claire, and Sarah, and all the other Rowan ladies who checked your stock. I don't know what I would have done without you.

Saturday, 19 May 2012


Oh Lynne, thank you for reminding me. I had Henri in my list of things to be added to the blog and then he sank out of my mind. Here he is now. Be sure to turn on your speakers.

The latest Pinwheel got ripped again. I weighed the yarn before I started doing the edge and after a couple of segments it was plain I didn't have enough. There didn't seem to be any white Paton's Jet left in the British Isles and I had gone off the idea of blue. What if they have a little girl later on? There was however a small cache of the yarn in cream, and I acquired that.

I got the original ten-pack of white on eBay for a trifle so it was a bit galling to have to pay the full price for the last three balls, but never mind. I think it's pretty.

I was pleased with the end result, and the friend who commissioned was pleased too, so Phew.

By the time that was finished I was only too happy to switch from my lengthy not-very-fine-yarn-in-garter-stitch binge and turned my attention to some froth. My Polish friend is getting married this summer and I offered early on to make her a shawl or a veil, but she said that was too old fashioned so I turned my attention elsewhere. But of course, I yearned. The dress she has chosen is strapless and I can't help wondering the priest will be altogether happy about her baring her shoulders in church. Or have priests and ministers given up on that front? Anyway, I couldn't resist, and if she doesn't wear it on her wedding day, she can use it to keep warm next winter.

I have liked Sharon Miller's Purity shawl from the first time I saw it in Rowan 43 and somehow two balls of Kidsilk Haze in a light, luscious, gauzy cream shade found their way into my sitting room. (Oddly, it's just called 'Cream', and not some interestingly Rowanesque name like Cloud or Sneeze.) 

 I'm doing the version which only has the lacy flounce along one edge. It's heavenly, like knitting with ice cream or candy floss, or the froth on a cappuccino, and I don't really want to finish it.

Yes, Knitlass, I think Saga is meant to be somewhere on the spectrum but it all seems very unlikely - would you ask an autistic person to conduct interviews? And while we're on the subject, do they really not keep any record of police interviews in Sweden? And it's one of those very scary serial killers who seems to be able to walk through walls and influence people's behaviour from a  distance, and I just spend too much time thinking, 'But nobody would do that,' about all the characters, all the time. And the make-up department must have used up the entire Scandinavian supply of putty-coloured foundation, as all the characters look on the brink of unconsciousness. But no doubt I shall watch it to the bitter end, which is this Saturday night, just so that I can complain about it.

Sad news. The Handmade Ryan Gosling hs got a book contract so the website is saying bye bye. Here's a last thought for us to cling to.