Thursday, 23 December 2010
Saturday, 18 September 2010
It is wonderful, therefore when a project defies the odds. It helps to take a yarn in one of my favourite colours, bright, golden yellow, in a gorgeous fibre, merino and silk in lace weight that is neither too heavy or too light. This is Gloaming by the Yarn Yard, an 80% merino 20% silk lace weight yarn which gives 800metres to 100grammes. Light but not insubstantial.
I decided that I would make another Bitterroot from Knitty as I have given away the purple one that I made at the beginning of the year to my friend Cathy in Australia - the colour is perfect for her. This colour is much more me. It helps to have a pattern which whilst rarely static for long has enough predictability and readability for me to really start to relax, enjoying the feel of the yarn through my fingers, devouring every stitch, eager to make progress but also wanting to savour the experience. I've heard this feeling of being completely at one with whatever you are doing is called Flow.
Wikipedia describes it as 'the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity'. Whatever it is, I think it's the feeling that we as knitters and crafts people strive for and are lucky enough to achieve.
Apparently it has all sorts of benefits . Who knew?
As with all lace, at the moment the shawl looks somewhat indifferent whilst under construction. I will have to wait until it is blocked for it to transform itself into something rather special.
Friday, 17 September 2010
I think it is fair to say that summer in London is drawing to a close. I believe I have eaten my last home grown red tomatoes and the morning was chilly enough for me to reach for a pair of warm woolly socks from my sadly depleted sock drawer.
Some rummaging in the laundry bag later the reason became clear - a significant backlog on the sock washing front. I know that much sock yarn is perfectly safe to be machine washed but I prefer to wash my hand knitted socks by hand - I think they do stay looking better for longer and having spent so much time in making them I do feel a great deal more responsibility towards them than if they were shop bought.
So there you have it - celebrating the turn of the season with 25 freshly washed, line dried pairs of socks. I think I might even be looking forward to autumn - just a little bit.
Sunday, 8 August 2010
Anyway, just to reassure you of the continued clicking of my needles here are my Herdy Monkeys. The yarn is Yarn Yard Toddy in a colour which Natalie died especially for Woolfest 2009 in colours that evoke the countryside and also the famous Herdwick Sheep. I have been thinking about what sort of pattern would suit them and then read on the Ravelry UK Sock Knitters Forum about a Knitalong using Los Monos Locos, a sock pattern which is basically the famous Cookie A Monkey sock but knit from the toe up. I think this sort of stitch pattern lends itself quite well to variegated yarns and was particularly pleased with the effect which reminded me of birds feathers. The heel had an unusual construction the heel flap and gussets done together across the sole of the foot then a short row heel cup done afterwards. It looks very pretty but doesn't give the arch expansion that a normal flap and gusset does so the socks fit but are a little snug to manoeuvre over the arch.
Today's second offering is also a pair of Cookie A socks, Lindsay from her book Sock Innovations. I have to say that this pattern isn't at first glance as attractive as a lot of the other designs in the book but as it was this month's sock on the Makin' Cookies Knitalong on Ravelry I thought I would have a go. I have to say that I enjoy the camaraderie and encouragement of Knitalongs so have been doing quite a few recently. I think I will become a little selective as time goes by as there are so many beautiful patterns around that I want to leave some room for tackling them.
These Lindsay socks are a very quick knit and the pattern is very easy to remember. I knit mine in some Koigu in muted greys, lilacs and khaki which I think lent itself well to this pattern. The toe and heel are garter stitch short row, the only part of which I found challenging was grafting the seam between sole and heel to finish them off but it was a learning experience.
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Today's post, whilst still vaguely about sock knitting is really more about the place that knitting has in my life and how it helps me manage the stresses and strains of a responsible job in a busy urban environment. I know that I don't talk much about my life outside my knitting on this blog and this remains my overall intention but nobody does anything in complete isolation so I wanted to tell you a bit about last week.
Last Tuesday I failed my driving test. Again. This is extremely frustrating as my driving standard is good enough to pass, I just get very nervous on the day and make the silliest of errors. This time was no different so I started the long slink back to work with my well groomed tail well and truly between my legs then remembered that my route to work (creatively planned) could include Loop's new shop in Camden Passage. I didn't think it was unreasonable to console myself with a little treat.
Loop is certainly the place for treats and in the end I chose some rather posh handmaiden Casbah in a shade that reminded me of those pieces of glass that are washed up on the beach by the tide, translucent and smooth. This heady mixture of merino, silk and cashmere felt so consoling...
I decided to join the Serpentine Sock, another pattern from Wendy Johnson's first toe up book knitalong which is designed for sport weight yarn on 2.75 mm needles as the yardage on this yarn was quite low and if I knit the big size on 2.5mm I reckoned I had a viable combination.
You can see what I mean about the shade in this photo of the sole of the foot.
I don't think the colours detract from the flow of the stitch pattern.
This was a very quick and satisfying knit which produced a gloriously silky and soft fabric which I think will make perfect bedtime/lounging around the house socks. The fabric isn't as firm and robust as I would use for day to day wear.
It only took me five days to finish these socks and whilst they were a really good comfort project I have to say that I prefer the feel of a good robust sock yarn knit on small needles so have returned to my other projects with renewed enthusiasm.
I've also re booked my driving test.
Thursday, 8 July 2010
I will try to make brief amends today. You may be surprised to know that I have maintained my focus and am still keeping up with the 52 pair plunge. We are 5 weeks into the challenge and I have completed six pairs of socks. Don't ask me how it happened.
First of all I have a pair of mansocks which in all honestly have been sitting on the needles two thirds finished for a very long time so they were easy pickings. They are knitted in Opal 4ply although I have not managed to locate the ball band so can't tell you what the shade name or number is. Having been used to knitting with hand dyed yarns I did notice that the yarn was a little less pleasant to work with but I'm sure I read somewhere that the yarn has a light coating on it for ease of knitting which is removed by the first wash leaving the finished sock soft and fluffy. I've also found this yarn to be extremely hard wearing and durable.
Next up is my first contribution to the Makin' Cookies Knitalong on Ravelry. I'm a bit of a stranger to formal knitalongs and at first I was a little bamboozled by the acres of rules which I was expected to read and inwardly digest. However, once I started posting comments and pictures I found it to be a very welcoming place to be and have enjoyed the banter and encouragement.
This month's sock has been Milo by Cookie A and whilst reasonably complex turned out to be quite intuitive and quick to knit. The yarn I chose is Nature's Palette in Autumn Leaves which meant I was also able to enter it into another Knitalong where participants are assigned a colour with which to knit any socks they like that month. Much quite amusing debate ensues about when is an orange yarn orange enough but I was relieved to note that my apricot yarn passed muster! I am very pleased with how they came out and grateful to everyone for their kind comments and encouragement.
Thursday, 17 June 2010
In week three I got a little more ambitious. As part of the Anything Nancy Bush knitalong on Ravelry I chose Virve's Stockings from Folk Knitting in Estonia as I wanted to make something slightly more unusual. I also love the way that the coloured band appears at just the right spot between shoe and trouser.
Monday, 7 June 2010
Then, wandering around in Ravelry I started to pick up rumblings about something called a 52 pair plunge. After further investigation it emerges that there are knitters who are so dedicated to the knitting of socks that they challenge themselves to knit 52 pairs in a year. Apparently this madness is now in its fourth year. And no, we aren't talking 52 pairs of baby socks which are, they say admissible, we are talking knee socks, colour work socks, complicated travelling stitches. These knitters must never sleep!
Of course it wasn't too long before I persuaded myself that of course it was theoretically possible that I could do this although having checked my statistics the most socks I have ever knitted in one year is 29. The long and the short of it is that I have signed up for the full challenge although of course I hold Rachel at Knittingtastic and Natalie at The Yarn Yard entirely responsible for leading me down the paths of sock madness by signing up themselves.
The Plunge officially started on 1st June and as the completion of socks already complete is allowed I set to with some enthusiasm, digging forgotten socks out from all kinds of nooks and crannies and (ahem) maybe starting a few more just to get my hand in. By the time the plunge started I had counted fourteen pairs on the needles...
I have been thinking about how to approach this task and thought that trawling Ravelry and finding a few knitalongs might help a little as I really do enjoy the camaraderie and company of other knitters engaged in a common pursuit so have devised myself a fiendishly complicated schedule that I will try not to bore you with. Basically, I am planning to finish one pair of socks a week. This week I finished these off.
Yes, I admit, they could be described as 'Low Hanging Fruit' being almost complete plain toe up socks in a variegated yarn but we all have to start somewhere. For the record they are Toe up socks largely following Wendy Johnson's generic recipe in Socks that Rock Lightweight in Flower Power on a 2.25mm circular needle. I have also decided to use the good stuff from my stash to make the task as enjoyable as possible.
Here is a (very) small selection of some of the other things I have on my needles.
Last year I bought this lovely skein of yarn from The Yarn Yard. It's the Woolfest 2009 limited edition in colours that make me think of a Herdwick sheep.
I'm knitting less and less with variegated yarn these days but thought that as it's June (Woolfest month!) it was appropriate to use it as my first sock in the Yarn yard's own 12 socks in 12 months challenge as well as the UK Sock Knitters KAL which requires knitters to knit the same pattern - in this case Los Monos Locos, a toe up adaptation of the ubiquitous Monkey Socks by Cookie A. They have an interesting heel construction so I thought I'd have a go. Here is my progress to date.
I also found a very gentle KAL on the Nancy Bush Knitters forum. Now I am a huge fan of Nancy and am excited to report that I will be taking a class with her at Knitnation 2010 so I thought it would be a good opportunity to try one of her patterns. Having seen a beautiful version by my friend Jacqueline in Melbourne I chose Virve's Stockings from Folk Knitting in Estonia. It is a reasonably uncomplicated knit but the thing I really like about it is that the fair isle band sits exactly where they can be seen under a long skirt or trousers - how clever is that? The yarn that I used is Yarn Yard Clan in a charcoal grey solid colour.
Thursday, 27 May 2010
I was also lucky enough to meet up with my friend Jacqueline who I met some years ago through the Knitters Review Forum and have been trying but failing to meet up with on my trips ever since. I was sad not to be able to catch up with my friend Rose but that just means that I have to come back soon!.
Jacqueline and I met up at what I am led to believe is a traditional meeting point for Melburnians, under the clocks at Flinders Street Station.
While I was waiting I was reminded by these wonderful shop fronts that I was not in London and that even in the big city, the bush is close to the heart, at least in the imagination of many Australians.
One of the wonderful things about having friends in unfamiliar cities is that they can show you treasures that you would be very hard pressed to find on your own. On leaving Flinders Street, Jacqueline whisked me away into the unprepossessing entrance of the Nicholas Building on Swanson Street, an elderly but characterful building which turned out to be an absolute treasure house.
The architecture of Federation Square which was finished around five years ago has both its admirers and detractors as it is very contemporary and distinctive. I have to say that I really like it and revisiting it now after seeing it first just after it had been finished it is good to see how people have taken it to their hearts and are using it as a focal point for city life as it was intended to be.
Sunday, 23 May 2010
As you can see the location was, once again idyllic although the slightly brown caste you can see in the distance is smoke from the somewhat controversial practice of cool burning which some argue helps to forestall the catastrophic fires that the area has experienced in recent years.
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
I did get some time, however, to slip out and explore the urban environment. Bendigo clearly shows that it was built on prosperity back in the 19th century, prosperity, I understand, largely based on gold mining. There are many imposing buildings designed to showcase this new wealth. I always like to look upwards when I visit a modern town as a lot of the more interesting architecture is above the rather uniform modern shopping street.
Look at this riot of ornamentation high up on a rooftop, largely out of sight.
Leon and I also came across this rather exuberant decorative brickwork along the side of a building.
He has asked me to use the pattern to design him a hat. I think it can be done...
As in any environment, decay stands side by side with new development. I was struck by the way that this ruined building created a confusion between indoors and outdoors. It is clearly considered a rather photogenic location as later in day we came across a wedding party having some photographs done in the 'courtyard' which I imagine was once somebody's home.
Digressing momentarily on the subject of ruins.... Leon and I came across this abandoned house on our travels.
At first glance it looks like one of the fairly common abandoned homes that you come across as you drive around Australia which make you think about what life was like in this country when it was very young and without much in the way of infrastructure and people needed to make their homes with whatever materials came to hand. I am used to seeing the ubiquitous corrugated iron roofs but what made this building so interesting was what had been revealed when the corrugated iron slipped off.
Before the advent of corrugated iron people used to roof their houses with wooden shingles cut from the surrounding trees. Leon tells me that very few examples of these roofs remain in the area and that we were very lucky to see one.
We also managed to have a walk through the park at the centre of Bendigo. Some of the trees are familiar and European . Others aren't. This one looked like a giant monkey puzzle tree.
But just looking at the trunk with all its folds and texture it reminds me of a great elephant's foot.
Just in case you thought that this was no longer a knitting blog there isn't a knitter in Australia who doesn't know what the highlight of any visit to Bendigo is...
Could I leave empty handed? Of course not. On my visit, Lyn had been knitting a baby blanket with some gorgeous, beautifully soft grey yarn. I just had to have some. Here is my skein of Bendigo Luxury 4ply in a colour called Red Earth which is a rich, wholesome brown. It comes in large, satisfying 200g cakes and is quite easy on the purse as well. Whilst not labelled merino it is every bit as soft as many yarns that I have knit with labelled as such.
Of course, I had to cast on straight away so here is my third travel project - the beginnings of a Haruni lace shawl. So far it is knitting up into a warm, substantial shawl.I am finding the pattern easy and straightforward to follow and have decided to add a few repeats to ensure that as a warm shawl it is large enough to swaddle myself in.
Thursday, 13 May 2010
Tomato plants were stripped and yielded this rather motley collection of unripe fruit.
Which we turned into this:
Added an eye watering quantity of this: