Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, socks on October 25th, 2016
The decorating remains an ongoing project. Last week I passed milestone one which was the hall side of the double doors into the living room. This week I’ve already ticked off milestone two which was the living room side of the double doors. I am kidding myself that I am now past the big stuff and into the home straight but this is a lie because the doors need a second coat. Once I’m past milestone three (meter cupboard, shelf and windowframe) I can stop whenever I like because no-one is going to poke about behind furniture looking at skirting boards. I had promised myself that I would finish at the end of the tin of paint and do the second coat after Christmas except that I got to the bottom of the tin before I got to the meter cupboard. This means another tin of paint and another week of painting.
The socks from last time are finished and on feet. Rather unexpectedly the feet they are on are mine, I counted the rows from one of David’s socks but they have ended up fitting me better than they fit him. Oh dear, how sad, never mind. The black border at the top is to force a match, they are Opal self patterning yarn that I dyed green because I didn’t like the base colours. When I started knitting them I didn’t know how much of a pattern repeat would still be apparent and I thought that it would be easier to make them match by adding a cuff detail rather than shedding tears trying to match the repeat in the yarn. Matching socks after washday is not one of my most favourite jobs and the days where I could pay 50p to have it completed by child labour are long gone. Anything that makes pairing socks easier is a good thing in my book especially when I have to do the job myself.
The white Portland from last time has progressed to being blue Portland. The camera is not entirely truthful here, the true colour being more denim than electric blue. It didn’t look to bloom much in the process, it still looks to be a double knit and so I could probably get away with knitting Highlander all over again. I’m pleased with it, there are a couple of darker spots resulting from me not doing a good enough job of dissolving the dye but I can live with that. I rushed for the dye pan on Saturday morning with zero preparation or planning because the sun came out and I realised that if I got a move on I had a chance of getting the dyed yarn dried outside. I would have got away with it too if it hadn’t been for the shower in the afternoon.
While I was pondering pattern choices for the Portland I fell down the rabbit hole of a sock yarn blanket. I’m not sure how it was that I started with patterns for cardigans in double knitting weight and ended up with a sock scrap eating monster. The scrap bag was getting out of hand (and out of bag) again and I have a space in my life for plain boring tv knitting which this is apart from a bit of paying attention at the corners. The only challenge was that I’m knitting at night and the light wasn’t really good enough to see where to pick up along the edge of navy yarn so I had a bright idea and picked up all the stitches in daylight by running a cotton thread through them (the pink one). This is a good idea and I can recommend it but I would suggest not moving your knitting whilst standing on the end of the cotton thread which is what I did yesterday. It’s a lovely smooth yarn and the stitches slip from it very easily, whether you want them to or not.
Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, socks, sweaters on October 12th, 2016
I should have made a cake or something but I didn’t really feel much like celebrating. Sorry blog, maybe next year I’ll make a big fuss about you being eleven. Yes, the blog is now ten; it’s ten years since the little boy broke his leg on his second day back at school. This space was created to gave me something else to think about other than hospital appointments and wheelchair loans and it gave me a perfect little bubble where I could ignore the reality of living with an eight year old with twelve weeks off school. It was not a good time for us but we lived through it and now it’s just a distant memory.
This is the time of year when I rediscover my love of knitting. It is beginning to be glove and hat weather and I would usually start off with an intensive search for this year’s perfect dog walking hat/gloves/scarf which would improve in some way on the specimens that were last year’s perfect solution to the British winter. That’s obviously not going to be happening this year. Sweaters for me are on hold after the great Wensleysweater ripfest which (as always) leaves socks but there are only so many socks that I can knit. This is another pair of socks which the recipient doesn’t need but he’s getting them anyway because they are occupying me while I think about what I can knit next. I even mended three pairs of socks by making new toes, it’s not my favourite thing to do but I was pretty desperate for both the socks and knitting. I did make six toes because otherwise they wouldn’t match and you know what I’m like for matchy matchy socks.
This is probably the Next Big Thing, or at least I hope it is. If it isn’t the next big thing then I don’t know what is. This is 1600 yards of three ply Portland dating back to 2011. I didn’t finish it at the time because I knew that I’d be dyeing it and I thought that it might as well be finished in the dye bath and only dried the once. It’s still early enough in the year for line drying to be an option if I keep an eye on the forecast and pick the right day, in another month it’s more likely to be all rain all of the time. The plan for this is to dye it some colour as yet to be determined and knit a cardigan for my mother. I haven’t chosen a pattern yet because I won’t be able to knit a tension square until after the yarn has been wet and dry. The yarn probably won’t bloom much but it would be really risky to try to second guess the tension based on the unfinished yarn. (Anyone who thinks this post will end with a photo of a tension square is going to be disappointed, I’ve enough experience to know where to take a shortcut and believe me, it’s not here)
While I’ve not been knitting I have been painting the porch and starting my Christmas shopping. No, it is not too early, the butcher has opened his Christmas order book and we have ordered the turkey so I am now officially into Christmas preparation. I have bought two presents so far and they are probably doomed. What usually happens is that I tuck the early ones away in some random location then put the later purchases in a sensible place when I’ve had more time to think about it. When it comes to getting out the wrapping paper I will have forgotten about the things that I bought early on or have no clue where I put them. I need a better system, possibly involving a zipped sports bag and a small padlock. Better planning would eliminate the need for me turning the house upside down in December, although that might not be such a bad thing as I might then find my spare pair of glasses.
I have now glossed everything there is to gloss in the porch which means the door frame is now really white on the outside and a more cream shade of white on the inside. I keep looking at it and trying to ignore it but I know what will happen next. I will paint the door frame which will lead to the skirting boards which will lead to the next door frame, the door itself, the other side of the door and then a run all the way around the edges of the living room to where it will meet the fresh paint in the dining room (the blog says that I painted in there in 2013, so it’s not all that fresh really). By then I’ll have had enough and I’m counting on it being dark enough in the hall at this time of year to be able to ignore the transition to the cream paintwork going up the stairs especially as the join will be at skirting board level.
Posted by Caroline in Family, Knitting, socks on September 30th, 2016
Right then, let’s be upbeat and positive and model appropriate adult behaviour in the face of adversity. I shall start with a quick backtrack to May which is when the train of my life started to jump the rails. I was knitting a white baby jacket back then, it finished up really quickly and was immediately out of the house so these are all the photos you are getting because it’s probably been outgrown by now (as always, click on the little photo to see the bigger one). This is DROPS 17-14, it’s a free pattern and I liked it well enough to be able to say that I might knit it again, possibly even with the matching bonnet and bootees. It is supposed to have a single row of the contrast colour on the inside facing and I’m sure that would be a lovely touch but in my view it wasn’t worth sewing in the extra two ends on each facing so I took the decision to omit that.
I would like to say that I took the decision to replace the buttonholes with snaps but that’s not what happened. I knitted the front facings to the accompaniment of some good evening tv and I’d cast off before I realised that while my hands had been on full autopilot I’d forgotten to make the buttonholes. As it was a facing there should have been two sets of buttonholes, one set before the turning row and a matching set on the underneath of the facing so I would have needed to have ripped back almost to the start to correct it. I briefly considered reknitting it but thought it was better to press on and get it finished. I was glad that I did, the snaps were easy to fasten and it meant that I could choose buttons based only on appearance rather than also having to make sure that they matched the size of the buttonholes.
This was my holiday knitting, it should have grown up to be mittens and a matching hat but I was not altogether sold on it from the outset. I couldn’t tell you why really, between the middle of July and now I haven’t touched it and that’s usually a sign that my inner knitter thinks that there’s something wrong. On this particular occasion she’s not giving me any clues as to what that might be. The last thing I did was to pull back four rounds because I misread the chart and I must have decided at that point that it was worth keeping because I put it back onto the needles. I’ve picked it up this week and I just don’t want to be bothered with finishing this mitten, never mind starting a second one. What I need now are things that bring me joy and this was not cutting it so it’s now back in the yarn bag.
When all else fails, there is always sock knitting to fall back on. The pink leftovers on the left are from the socks that I knitted for my aunt. They are the same size as each other but might not be the same size as her feet because I was not exactly thinking about what I was doing at the time. They got me through a difficult week and have left the house so I don’t have to see them again and remember how bad I felt when I was knitting them. I will dye the remnants navy so that they become unrecognisable, it’s either that or throw them in the bin. The ball in the middle started off as another pair of socks but after the rib of the first one my inner knitter managed to communicate her misgivings and I weighed the ball. It will make a pair of socks if I add stripes so that’s on hold while I think about delving into the bag of leftover sock yarn. So far there’s nothing wrong with the third pair of socks other than a run of knots in the second ball of sock yarn. I hate knots in self patterning yarn because unless you are prepared to lose a pattern repeat they won’t match. These are for me and so they will match, I’m hoping that there will be enough yarn in the smaller ball to reach the toe but if there isn’t then the scrap bag will be coming into play for a pair of contrast toes.
What else has happened? The child finished his GCSEs without major incident, the results were in line with what he was predicted and he took up his college place three weeks ago. For those of us who are oldies he’s now in the lower sixth or Y12 as it is these days. I’m back to doing a school run of sorts in that I drop him at the bus stop in the mornings and collect him in the afternoon which is not as wonderful as waving him off to catch the school bus that passes the window because it means that I have to be fully dressed with shoes on by 7.20. On the positive side this means that my mornings have the potential to be much more productive than they have been for the last five years.
I’ve been back through the last eight years of the blog which ran to twenty six pages of post titles. I can’t now be tripped up by an unexpected dog photo because I’ve been and looked at all of them. Originally I thought that eight years was no time at all, a life cut short but now I see it differently. We’ve covered a lot of ground in eight years as can be seen by the fact that the primary school student is now starting his A levels and is much, much taller than me. We’ve done so much as a family and Pebble did it all with us. He had a rich and full life well lived and that is all that any of us can hope for.
Posted by Caroline in Non-fibre on September 2nd, 2016
I’ll be back at some point but not just now where I could look back on an older post and stumble across a photo of Pebble the Wonder Dog. I’m not ready to deal with that just now, in the same way I’m not ready to look at the last photo I took of him earlier this week. He was in pain and now he isn’t. His name was Pebble and he was a Good Dog, right to the end which came far too soon.
I’m not sure that I managed to turn comments off – I can’t deal with that either.
Posted by Caroline in Non-fibre on August 21st, 2016
Well hello dear blog, did you miss me? There has been woe and a considerable amount of bad language between May 19th and now. The short story is that my laptop died, I used something else and went through the long business of signing on everywhere and recovering my passwords, then my laptop was revived, then it died for real, I used something else, there was a factory reset involved (passwords again) then a change of browser (passwords again). I decided to leave the blog until everything else had stabilised (or to put it another way “I was worried that I didn’t know the password and was too frightened to actually look for it”) and so here we are, nearly at the end of August. I have not yet worked out whether the camera is on speaking terms with this laptop, that’s an experiment for another day. I just thought that you’d like to know that I’m still breathing and that I have not on this occasion managed to lock myself out of the blog.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sweaters on May 19th, 2016
Here we are at the end of GCSE week one. The story so far is perfectly boring – no crises, no unusual exam content, everything trundled along as would be expected. The school bus turned up, the roof didn’t fall in and no-one broke a leg. Give me another three weeks of the same and I’ll be well pleased.
I’ve finished the blue and grey sweater that I made from leftovers dyed blue and leftovers left grey. It’s knitted from the bottom up with the sleeves joined in when you get to them and is a mash up of a Drops pattern and the neck from Geilo. If I could have found a set of dpns in the right size I would have knitted the sleeves in the round and avoided a sleeve seam, as it was I knitted the sleeves both at the same time on straights and pretended it was so I could make them match. The worst thing about this turned out to be sewing on the clasps, for some reason I made a small job into a really big one. I sewed all six parts on to then decide that the neck was wrong. I took the collar off, knitted it again but smaller and then decided that the four parts remaining were in the wrong place. When I came to sew them on again I caught a strand of yarn on the back with the first one and had to take it off and then managed a proper knot in the thread when sewing on the second. I like them, they are the same width as a stripe and a good colour match for the grey but the cost (£1.45 each) and the nightmare I had sewing them on means that I probably won’t be using them again or at least not until I’ve stopped associating them with tedium. They are not as eye catching in real life – they stand out in the photo because of the flash but as it’s grey and grim today using the flash was a necessity. I am in no way complaining about the weather, the rain brings the pollen count down which is a blessing for GCSE candidates with hay fever.
The white cardigan is of the same construction as the blue striped sweater in that it’s knitted in one piece from the bottom and the live sleeve stitches incorporated into a yoke. Again I’ve had to knit the sleeves flat because of my inability to find a set of dpns. How anyone can end up with a single double pointed needle I do not know. I could understand having none at all, I could understand having three but how did I end up with just the one? I am still unconvinced with the fabric, it’s ok but I know that I’d like it better on a smaller needle. I am bang on gauge and using one of the recommended substitute yarns but really it needs something a little bit thicker. Maybe I’ll get lucky and the yarn will bloom on finishing in a way that it’s never done before. I am considering knitting this again with my tried and tested method of using smaller needles, the length for the size I need and the stitch count of the size two sizes larger. I am also considering a hat and mitten set so that repeat knit may be happening sometime-never.
This is an actual pattern, not messed about with in any way so you too could knit this. You’d probably knit the bonnet and socks too, so would I if I could live with the tension. It’s DROPS 17-14, a free pattern, and I’m using undyed Fabel sock yarn and the leftovers from previous projects. I think it would have been fine if I’d used the recommended yarn but alpaca makes my nose itch and I don’t like feltable babywear. Drops Fabel is one of the listed substitutes but I remain unconvinced. I would suggest you use something a bit thicker or more fluffy or use smaller needles and a calculator. I would also suggest that you do the right thing with the facings and either cast on 10% fewer stitches or use a smaller needle and change/increase after the fold. A flippy facing is easily avoided, you just have to make the inside slightly smaller than the outside.
That’s it – I’m off for an exciting evening of fifteen decreases every four rows. The end is in sight although I still have the button challenge to overcome.
Posted by Caroline in Family, hats, Knitting, sweaters on May 13th, 2016
Let us start with a contender for the most boring photograph in the history of knitting. It’s a length of plain white rolling stockinette. Worse than that, it’s a very short piece of plain white rolling stockinette. Hopefully by the next time it appears it will be much longer with a touch of colour – either that or I will have ripped it for offences against tension. It’s sock yarn (again) but this time on a 3.75mm needle rather than a 3.25mm. It means it will make a cardigan the same size as in the pattern rather than combining the stitch count from the third size with the lengths for the first size. This should be a good thing but my inner knitter is positive that she prefers the fabric from the smaller needle. We shall see.
That is the start of sweater three because I haven’t quite finished sweater one. The grey is left over from the Geilo sweater from the last post and the blue is overdyed sock yarn leftovers. This is knitted on a 3.25mm needle which means my tension is way off but it makes a nice cushy fabric. I am using the neckline from Geilo so it’s knitted around all the way up and then the opening is cut. The photo on the right shows the two yellow lines of machine stitching on the reverse, I’ll pick up alongside those and knit a facing on each side. I am still undecided as to whether the neck will have a plain band or a collar, my decision will be influenced by how much yarn I have left.
Sweater two was started and finished over a weekend. With a 13″ chest it is easily the smallest garment that I’ve ever made and I hope that the baby is too big for it. Full term babies come in all sizes, premature babies do too. This is Heim in Drops Fabel sock yarn, again on a 3.75mm needle as that’s what I needed to match gauge. It took 48g for the smallest size so you’d get one from a ball of yarn. The pattern has five buttons but I thought there was more chance of finding a set of four in the button tin. It goes without saying that when I tipped them all out I found five. The pattern also has a helmet and leggings but I skipped those in favour of a little lace hat in leftover yarn. You can see from my finger how small it is, it fitted nicely over a wine glass.
I might have to find something that needs a lot of planning, possibly also spinning because GCSEs start next week. There are two weeks of exams, a week’s holiday and then another two weeks of exams. After that it’s summer all the way through to September.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sweaters on April 26th, 2016
Regular readers (that’s you Carolyn) may recall that I spoke of having three baby sweaters rammed into a single bag. This is a spectacularly bad idea, do not try this at home. Two of the three patterns were handwritten notes translated from Norwegian, both containing the word “elephant”. It wasn’t enough to work out where I was in the pattern, I had first to work out which pattern went with which sweater. The first sweater I finished was one of the elephants, the second one I finished was the other elephant pattern. When I spun the yarn I knew I wanted to make a little sweater from it and I split in into a large skein and two smaller ones with the colour repeats shorted in the sleeve skeins. There wasn’t quite enough yarn in the large skein to knit all of the body so I had to put it on hold, knit the sleeves and then use the leftovers from the sleeves to finish off the body. This is knitted as a tube all the way to the start of the neck shaping, the big advantage of this being that there is only a few inches where you need to purl in pattern. The time saved there more than makes up for the extra finishing work at the end. The pattern is in a free pattern booklet and Google Translate will help you if you don’t knit in Norwegian.
The last sweater in the bag was very nearly finished, it just needed a few rounds on the top of one sleeve. Like the one above it is knitted as a tube to the neck and cut for the sleeves and the neck opening. It was the neck opening that drew me to this one, I’ve never steeked a polo neck before and I wanted to see how much work it was. This is Dale’s Geilo in the child size, there is a hat and a cardigan in the same pattern. The colour scheme on the pattern front is not the most inspiring ever but fortunately I’d seen it first on Ravelry where it had been knitted in something less orange. My version is knitted in sock yarn, I thought I had plenty of undyed yarn but the cupboard was bare and I had to ditch my carefully planned colour scheme in favour of whatever I had enough of. I like the olive and the navy but if I had been starting with a blank canvas I wouldn’t have gone with fuschia. The original has two part fasteners but as I’m cheap I went with pairs of buttons and button loops. I enjoyed knitting it and I didn’t even mind sewing down the multitude of facings at the end. The thing that I was grateful for when I came to pick up the pattern again was that it was in english.
That makes this “sweater one” again rather than “sweater four”. I liked the neckline on Geilo so much that I’m transplanting it onto another sweater pattern or I will do when I get further up the body. The grey yarn is leftover from Geilo, I’m pretty sure that there will be enough although I didn’t do anything radical such as weighing it. The blue is a random selection of leftovers from the sock scraps bag overdyed with navy. I’m not worried about running out of the blue because it’s all different and I can just make some more without worrying about it not matching what I already have. By the time I’m done I will have seen the back of a lot of little balls of yarn and that on its own is enough reason to knit it.
I’ll leave you with a couple of old posts with a school theme:
He starts his GCSEs in three weeks, doesn’t time fly?
Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, Spinning, sweaters, Wensleysweater 1 on April 4th, 2016
Let’s just forget all about March and move right on with April. Although I’ve not been entirely idle I had a spell where I didn’t seem to do much of anything. I’m through that now and as I’ve cleaned, polished, scrubbed or dusted everything in the house it’s time to dust off the blog and look through the camera card.
I spun all of the greens and blues from the fibre oddments in my last post. I overdyed it all with navy and ended up with a pleasing pile of yarn. It all went wrong after that when I found the brown yarn that in my mind I had picked out as the perfect weft yarn. I remembered it as being considerably thicker than it actually was so that idea went west. I probably have something in the stash that would work but I didn’t feel like making the herculean effort to look for it so I packed the hypothetical warp away until I come up with a better idea.
While that was on hold I made some socks, there was another black and red striped pair but they were on feet and out of the door before I thought about getting the camera out. The middle pair is yarn from a much-hyped International Yarn Dyer, I was seriously underwhelmed by both the yarn base and the dyeing and I won’t be buying more even if it became cheaper than Opal. I was so unimpressed that I made sure the leftovers wouldn’t hang around in the stash by knitting them into another pair of socks with plain black stripes. The child had them on feet and out of the house before I had the chance to photograph them
I addressed the issues on the Wensleysweater. I’m not sure exactly what the issues were but it must have had some to be still on the needles eighteen months after I started it. I like the yarn and that’s good because I will at some point be using it again. It took a while to rip out all those lovely cables but it was the right thing to do and I feel better for it.
At some point since my last post I decided to tidy up all the knitting seeing as I wasn’t actually knitting. At the time it seemed like a good idea to stuff all three baby sweaters in a single bag together with the patterns, needles and spare yarn. Sorting it out weeks down the line was not fun because two of the patterns were originally in Norwegian and my translations were on odd bits of paper. The first challenge was attempting to decipher my scribble enough to work out which papers went together (note to self – page numbers are a wonderful invention) and which papers went with which project (second note – titles are good too). I kept putting it off as being too much to tackle until I ran out of things to knit and had to find something in the bag of many projects. To my surprise I found that all three sweaters were almost done; one needed two rows on the body, one needed three rows on one sleeve and one needed scissors. I cut out the X’s that I’d carefully sewed in, I’d only done half of one sleeve and I couldn’t face another sleeve and a half. I’ve put the button tin in a new place and when I hunt it down I’ll add the three buttons that this needs. This is a free pattern but it’s in Norwegian. I went my own way when it came to the neckline because it was easier to make it up than translate it. I wouldn’t knit it again because there were more ends than I cared for. I should have thought about that when I saw the stripes but I managed to overlook it until making up time.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned on the blog that back when it was cold and grim I adapted my soft and lovely handspun gloves for use with a smartphone. It took all of five minutes, a needle and a length of conductive thread. If I was knitting them now I’d hold the thread with the yarn and knit the two together, the thread is soft and supple and I don’t think that it would affect the fabric. As this was a retrofit I just did a bit of stitching on my index finger and thumb in what seemed to be the right places. It works perfectly and I’m really pleased with it. It just happens that the thread was a close match to the yarn, I got lucky there as it meant that I didn’t need to be particularly neat with the stitching.
There is more but I’m staying with this month’s motto of “finished is better than perfect”. Hopefully I’ll catch up with the rest next time.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sweaters on January 13th, 2016
Christmas was fine despite my misgivings. My to do list of essentials filled the sheet of paper but with a little delegation it all got done. It appears that wiping down the skirting boards and vacuuming under the furniture are not essential Christmas jobs after all. The tree is down, the spinning wheel is back up and I’m starting to work my way through the pile of miscellaneous wool that I tidied off the floor before Christmas. I did what I think of as an “emergency tidy” in the spare bedroom which is where I pick up everything and stuff it in a bag to deal with later. The bits of wool ended up filling a pillowcase and it was the first place that I went to when I decided that the dog needed a new blanket. The one I made in 2009 has developed a few holes where he’s clawed it in his rush to jump on to the back of the settee and defend the household against passing dogs/cats/delivery drivers. I could mend it but it’s had a five year run and I can make the replacement the length that I intended last time (I came up short on one of the panels so the whole thing ended up 4″ shorter than I wanted). I’ve split the wool into two piles because it looks like the makings of two blankets, a brown and green one for me and a red and brown one for someone else. The red pile is the photo on the right, it’s not red yet but dye will fix that.
You might expect that after nearly a month I’d have one of those two baby jackets finished by now but instead of finishing one of them I cast on for a third. I have a rational explanation other than the fairly obvious one that I like knitting and am not overly taken with making up. The first little sweater was knitted as a tube and needs to be cut down the sides and front, which means I need to get out the sewing machine to reinforce the cut edges. The second little sweater needs a lot of hand sewing and I have to have decent light to do it. If I started a third sweater that would also need machine sewing then it would be worth getting the machine out because then I’d have two sweaters to sew. I’d also have some knitting to be doing while I was plodding through the hand sewing. If you look at it in that way it seems perfectly reasonable and not at all a case of startitis. I should add that I am not enjoying sewing X’s onto my knitting and I am very sure that I won’t be making another of these.
Sweater three, which is a cardigan, is black sock yarn paired with the yarn I spun in October. At the time I spun it I intended it for a baby sweater which is why I split it into a skein for the body and two smaller skeins for the sleeves. I made the colour runs shorter in the smaller skeins because sleeves are narrower than bodies and I was hoping to get stripes of similar thicknesses. I’m happy with how the stripes have turned out because the ones in the sleeves are pleasingly narrow. It appears that 50g of coloured yarn is not enough for the body but I think that’s okay because 25g is too much for a sleeve. The body is now on hold until I’ve knitted both sleeves then the leftover yarn from the sleeves will (hopefully) be enough to finish the body.