Monday, 25 May 2009

Whose filthy fingers are these?

They would be mine...

These are not the fingers of an elegant knitter attending closely to a delicate piece of lace or dainty socks on fine needles I hear you say. More of that later.

My hands are in this state because it's the time of year when householders across the country are cutting, trimming,weeding, potting and planting as the gardening season gets underway again. Tuning in to Gardener's Question Time or hanging on to Carol Klein's every word.I am no exception as you can see:

I have planted beans and peas, tomatoes and peppers, courgettes and cucumbers, aubergines and salad leaves. I have tended and repaired my herb garden and cut the grass.

Now I want to sit back and watch them grow. Here is my vantage point. As knitting spots go I think it's rather lovely.
What have I been knitting? The first of the On Hold socks is finished. It was a fun knit, the texture of the Posh Lei is lovely and the sock feels wonderfully soft. It is, however, tricky to knit with as it tends to split and has at least one knot in so not an unreserved recommendation.

Whereas my fingers are not the well manicures digits of a lady who lunches there are other ways to be girly. Hot on the heels of my deep lipsticky pink sock is this frothy confection. This is the Leaf Lace Shawl by Evelyn Clarke which I have made on a number of occasions in nothing finer than a 4ply. This time it is made in Knitwitch's 100 per cent cashmere laceweight. It's lovely, if tender yarn to work with and, whilst the work feels like it weighs nothing at all, the halo on the yarn makes it feel quite warm and substantial. It was a good idea to practice working with laceweight yarn on a simple and familiar pattern as I can concentrate on the yarn and making my motions less tentative and exaggerated.

I have ordered some laceweight yarn from the Yarn Yard which is much finer than this. Whilst it slumbers gently at the Post Office it now holds no fear for me. In fact I might go and pick it up tomorrow if the desire to cast on immediately isn't too strong and I run the risk of cheating on my cashmere.
I must focus on dreaming how nice it would be to wear a scarf this soft against the skin.

Of course, I haven't abandoned myself entirely to lace knitting. Allow me to introduce you to another one in the series of favourite jumpers knitted ages ago. This is a very simple top down raglan cardigan with three quarter sleeves knit from one of my good standby Knitting Pure and Simple patterns in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in a cheerful leaf green. It is the perfect thing for late spring mornings and I always swear to myself that I am going to knit half a dozen of them as they are so useful. Of course, in reality my butterfly brain only allows me the maximum of one per season until I'm off playing somewhere else.

Here, however is this year's summer cardigan which I've chosen to do in this beautiful, warm yellow. As you can see I've just divided for the sleeves which means the rows get a bit shorter. I've now got to work down the body remembering that my friend Sue reckons I always make my stuff an inch or two too short. Must control my impatience! I also think that being generously endowed in the boob department means that the back of a jumper has a tendency to ride up to compensate for the difference between front and back. I have allowed a couple of inches extra fabric in the front of the cardigan and hope that will improve the fit.

Observant readers will have noticed that I have embellished the front of the cardigan with a touch of eyelet lace on each front. Even more eagle eyed knitters will have spotted that it is the same lace pattern that I used for the Lace and Cable socks from Socks from the Toe Up which lends itself perfectly to being upscaled and used in this way.

So, like most modern women I run the gamut from filthy fingers to frothy pink lace and all points in between. I think I enjoy being a girl!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Surprise! I'm back. No Surprise! I have new socks.

Hello - remember me? I'm back from looking after dad on the Isle of Wight and the first good news is that he is absolutely fine. Thank you to everyone who sent good wishes. His pacemaker has been replaced and they seem to have turned him up a notch as when he got home he couldn't stop talking and had whipped us up a cheesecake for our tea before we knew what was going on! My sister also came down from Wales to help. I know this sounds naughty as I love my niece and nephew to pieces but it was wonderful to spend time with my sister just by ourselves and with dad. A lot of giggling like twelve year olds was done on the quiet.

However, on a hospital related excursion you can always count on there being more than enough time spent sitting around giving enough quality knitting time for even the most devout needle athlete.

While I was away i managed to complete the following:

The second Trilobite sock. Just to recap they are knit on a 2mm circular needle from Hazelknits Artisan Sock i n the colourway Cabbage Rose which I definitely plan on using again. It's very bouncy and makes a nice sock fabric.
The second lace and cables sock. Again I used 2mm needles with Indigo Moon Yarn in the colourway Apricot. Once again, a lovely springy fabric - highly recommended.
I've also finished one of the Ribbed Ribbon socks in Yarn Yard Toddy Semi Solid which is a much finer yarn, knitting up to a very summer weight sock.

And finally, you didn't think I could manage total project monogamy did you?
Here is, On Hold, another Wendy Johnson pattern from her new book. Incidentally, thank you Wendy for coming over to the blog and commenting. Yes, I am enjoying the book very much thank you as you can tell! The yarn I am using for this is some Posh Yarns Lei which is a wool and bamboo mix which feels very pleasant and drapy to work with.

While I was piling the socks up to bring them in after photographing them I noticed what lovely summery shade I am using and how good they look togther.
LIke this:

Of course, I was planning to knit loads more socks but I was surprisingly seduced. By this little beast. It's 20 years since I've been in the saddle but the weather was so nice and there's a gorgeous cycle track up behind dad's house where the railway line used to run so my sister and I took advantage of the fact that there was nobody around to laugh at us and went on a couple of rides. Now I am by far the most wobbly ( in more ways than one) of the two of us but even I, by the end of our rides, was feeling more confident and starting to enjoy myself. I did manage to fall off once, inexplicable when I had just come to a halt. I do have, however, a disappointing observation to make abut hand knitted garments and cycling. Jeans tucked into bright pink hand knitted socks teamed up with a green hand knitted tank top do not make you look like the sportiest cyclist in the world. Nor does being told you ride your bike like you have a parcel between your knees by your sister who has miraculously brought all her cycling gear.

Next time you will be relieved to know that I am off my sock knitting obsession and may have another little piece of lace to show you. Plus a cardigan if, despite my swatching efforts does not stop looking like it would go round me twice. I have also had the spinning wheel out after a month's abstinence. I'll tell you how it punished me....

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Wendy is my new BFF

No surprises here.I am still in the grip of my Wendy Johnson's Socks from the Toe Up obsession. I have taken a long time to convince that the toe up method, magic loop and 2mm needles are for me but these are some of the most technically competent socks I have knitted for ages. They fit, have no annoying holes in the heel flaps, have a totally seamless toe and are really quite pretty!

Let me show you how I've been getting on.

Here is one and a half Trilobites.

A whole lace and cable.

Plus a toe. Feast your eyes on that cast on....
And yes,of course I've sneakily cast on another one from the book. It's Ribbed Ribbons in Yarn Yard Toddy Semi Solid in a shade called Berry Stained Fingers and it might be my favourite so far. I am very pleased with this yarn. It's part of a new Summer Collection that Natalie has brought out that will be available all the time. I've been experimenting with lots of semi solid yarns recently and whilst they are lovely, a lot seem to consist of the same dye shade at different dilutions whilst this blends two distinctly different shades to form a heathery yarn with lots of movement.

Can you blame me for casting on?
My toe up circus will be decamping to the Isle of Wight for a few days while Dad has his pacemaker replaced. It goes without saying that a few more skeins may find their way into my bag....

Monday, 4 May 2009

Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)

Summer, Buddy Holly, the working folly
Good golly Miss Molly and boats
Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet
Jump back in the alley and nanny goats
18-wheeler Scammels, Domenecker camels
All other mammals plus equal votes
Seeing Piccadilly, Fanny Smith and Willy
Being rather silly, and porridge oats
A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it
You're welcome, we can spare it, yellow socks!

Ian Dury

Yes, I've finished my first Cookie A socks. Eunice in Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Semi Solid in the colour Wheat. It was a complex but well written pattern which I really enjoyed. The pattern runs down into the heel flap but apart from that the construction is a for very normal flap and gusset top down sock.

I also love the sunny, bright, soft yellow yarn.
Ian was right!