Sew, knit, spin

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, Spinning, sweaters on May 21st, 2015

This looks to be the last shirt I’ll be making for a while, I’ve used all the shirt fabric I have and the shirt wearer doesn’t seem to have ordered any more. This was another piece that I bought as a three metre length, I cut out a short sleeved shirt first and that made the cutting of the long sleeved one very tricky. Sleeves are bigger than you think and it was a close thing as to whether I could make a long sleeved shirt with what I had left. It does look as if you can get two shirts from three metres of fabric, I’ve done it twice now but it is much easier if you are cutting the short sleeves at the end. This one has hidden buttons (you may need to click on the photo to be able to see that they aren’t there…..). I think that this is worth the effort and that little extra fabric involved in forming the placket because you don’t need to fret about getting the buttonholes perfectly aligned. I got the idea from watching an episode of QI where Mr Davies had a shirt with hidden buttons so we can chalk this one up to their props department.

I was close to running out of thread as well as running out of fabric. The worrying thing is that I knew that I couldn’t go out and buy another spool as this one is most certainly not available in the shops. It’s probably older than me, certainly old enough to be considered vintage, but it was the right colour, perfectly sound and free. I have custody of the family thread collection as I now do more sewing than my mother does which means that a lot of the time I can match thread to my project simply by opening a suitcase and rummaging through the contents. It’s a bit short in the purple range and I use a lot more grey than there ever was in the case but for most colours I can find a close match. Finding two shirt’s worth of close match is another issue.

The cardigan is crawling to a finish. I’m on the bands now, they are “zip bands” rather than “button bands” so there will be two button bands with no holes. I steam blocked the body and the first sleeve before casting on for the second sleeve so that if the first was the wrong length I had the chance to correct it on the second one. I can’t see the point of making two identical wrong things if you have a chance of getting one of them right. I basted the first sleeve in to the body to check the length and the fit of the cap and it looked like a sleeve should look so I made the second one the same. I have to finish the bands, sew in the sleeves and add pockets to the fronts and hopefully by the time I’ve done that I will have got the zip that I haven’t ordered yet. This was supposed to be a stash reduction project but it doesn’t look to have reduced it by very much at all. It’s difficult to see how much yarn you are using when you are knitting with three balls at once because you can knit forever without making any impact on the yarn. I haven’t counted the balls I have left (they are upstairs, I’m not) but I don’t remember going upstairs to fetch more yarn more than once.

It’s been a while since I spun anything other than grey Wensleydale so this was really enjoyable. I have a big plan for this, one of those plans that looks wonderful in my mind but may or may not transfer to the real world. Next time I will have yarn and perhaps more of a clue whether my idea will actually work. I’m pretty sure that when it comes to sewing the fabric made from the yarn I’ll be needing to match the green because I’ll have no chance at all of finding thread to match the purple.

Do you have a collection of vintage thread? Do tell, I’d love to hear about it especially since the sewing machine man told me that “no-one uses thread like that any more”.  He’s wrong – I do and I suspect that I’m not on my own.

What has it got in its pocketses?

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing on April 28th, 2015

I’m sitting here with my cup of tea and the bread rising in the tins; at this time of day it would normally be a cup of coffee but the machine is in pieces for its monthly clean. Today has all the signs of a doing day and my to do list includes “blog”. I’ll get the knitting out of the way to start with seeing as there is so little of it that it’s easily summarized. There are no points for guessing that this is a sleeve. I usually knit both together so I don’t have to think too much about the increases, if I miss one and then catch it up later then I will be consistent if not strictly correct. I thought about doing that, briefly, before dismissing the idea as utter madness. I’m knitting with three balls of wool to even out any colour changes and the thought of untangling six balls on a regular basis was not enticing.

Knitting – tick. Next up – sewing. This was the next shirt that I made, with this one I solved the problems I’d been having with the outer cuff being too short for the inner cuff. This was also the one where I used the last of the buttons, I bought fifty for the first shirt and thought that would be enough to last me forever but it turns out that I had a longer run of shirt making than I ever thought that I would. The fabric is a fine linen and it’s shot through with a silver thread which gives it a bit of sparkle without being over the top blingy. I like it, it would have been good for a dress if I’d not already made a shirt from it. That’s now out of the question because I find the thought of matching his and hers wardrobe items to be too weird for words.

The next shirt was a short sleeved one, this is the first one that I’ve made with a pocket. There are two reasons for this, the main one being that shirt pockets are the devil’s plaything and an affront to all right minded people where the definition of “right minded people” is “people who do the laundry”. Some residents (naming no names to protect the guilty) recklessly use their pockets (no, the horror!) and then fail to remove the contents prior to throwing the shirt in the wash. I have no words to tell you how I feel about that, feel free to read my mind. The second reason for pocket elimination is that the shirts so far have had pleats on the front and that means that a pocket wouldn’t sit flat. This shirt has no pleats because it’s different to all of the others. The pattern assumes that you are a cylinder in that you are the same size at the top as at the bottom but the resident husband is wider at the bottom than at the shoulder. I’m not going to continue the simile by calling him conical unless he leaves tickets in that pocket in which case I’ll be calling him worse than that. I either choose a size that fits at the shoulder and then add a few inches lower down or choose a size that fits in the body and reduce it at the shoulders. The third option is to choose a size that fits in the body, make no alterations at all and see the shoulder seam end way past the shoulder. This is the ready to wear option and is the only choice for people who don’t sew. This shirt is a larger size with an adjustment for narrow shoulders rather than a smaller size with some added pleats. I adjusted the shoulder, the depth of the armhole and the width of the sleeve and was pleasantly surprised to find that the new and amended sleeve still fitted against the new and amended body. I was so pleased that I let him have a pocket – if I have a repeat laundry offence I can always sew it shut. The shirt has a contrast inner yoke, collar stand and under collar just to use up the last of the grey from previous shirts and seeing as I had to buy buttons anyway I bought coloured ones.

I also made the handkerchief, the one in the shirt pocket is a traditional square but the other one I made was a rectangle because it made better use of the fabric. If you’re going to be using it then bigger is better and why be bound to the convention of shape when you’ve taken the elephant option? My son is sneezing his way through tree pollen season and however many tissues I send him to school with it isn’t enough. I checked the school uniform policy and there is nothing in there regarding handkerchiefs with or without elephants. I thought a novelty handkerchief might actually get used and it’s looking like that is the case. I don’t think that I’ve ever sewn a rolled hem before, it was quite relaxing and not the chore that I was expecting it to be.

That’s it from me for today, the bread is creeping towards the top of the tins and it’s time to reassemble the coffee machine and test that it still works. My to do list calls.

Much March haring about

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, sweaters on April 16th, 2015

March was a mad month, we had so much going throughout every week with the weekends providing double helpings of overloaded. The last two weeks of term were the worst with concerts here, there and everywhere. Somehow we got through to the end of it, celebrated a fifteenth birthday and relaxed into the Easter holidays. For anyone wanting to make a massive cake of their own, it’s this one but my advice would be to scale it down to three quarters of the size as you can see that it was just on the verge of being taller than the plate you would eat it from. The recipe says that it serves twelve, I’m not sure any of us could have managed a slice that size and I had a lot more slices out of it than that. Fortunately it stayed nice and moist all the way to the end which was six days rather that the three days they suggest that it is good for.

So much time has passed that the strip of knitting from last time is well on the way to becoming a cardigan. This piece is the back and fronts up to the division for the sleeves and one of the fronts. It’s Highlander in some Ethical Twist that was on sale at Kemps a few years ago. It is 30% alpaca but it is not making my eyes itch for which I am very grateful. The easiest part of the pattern has been the cable, the tartan part kept tripping me up. It is simple enough, little blocks of seed stitch and stockinette. What was throwing me was the vertical line that runs between the blocks, one of them ends at the garter rows at the end of a big block and one carries on through it. Half of the time the first row of the pattern is on the wrong side, so I would turn to the right side only to find that I’d gone wrong on the previous row. When I finally got a grip and worked out what I should have been doing (top tip – if it’s in between STOckinette it STOps) I found several mistakes four inches down. I am hoping that I’ve done all my learning now and that the sleeves will be straightforward.

In the time I’ve been away from the blog I’ve finished two shirts and am on with a third. This is Kwik Sew 3883 again, the last two shirts that I made were white but I thought I was ready for the challenge of stripes. I made the long sleeved one first from a three metre length that I bought via ebay and there was so much fabric left over that I managed to squeeze a short sleeved one out as well. I have sorted out my problems with the collars now, I wasn’t happy with the two on the white shirts because they were a bit floppy but now that I have the right interfacing I have the right collar. My second pair of cuffs had the same issue as the first pair in that the under cuff was too long for the outer cuff despite me paying attention the second time around. It appears that this is something that isn’t going to fix itself and it’s something that I’m going to be looking at fixing with shirt five. I have just enough buttons for shirt five, the fifty I bought when I started didn’t go as far as I thought they would.


The Spring clear out

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, sweaters on March 19th, 2015

My days are flying by, I’m so busy that sooner or later I will meet myself coming in the door. I amuse myself whilst racing about by having the “Mission Impossible” soundtrack running in my head and most days it would be impossible to achieve everything that’s on my list. Some things are time sensitive and they are the ones that get done. The more flexible ones (such as “write blog post”) are the ones that keep on rolling over to the next day and then into the next week. I’ve ditched all plans to comb and spin the grey sweater, it is officially sidelined until next winter. That’s not a problem as the weather has started to warm up and we’ve had a few days that could optimistically be described as “Springlike”. Having got that out of the way I made myself find time to dust off the knitting that’s been waiting months for me to get to ten minutes finishing work with the promise that I could then start something new.

This was a September start, it’s been waiting many months for me to unzip the provisional cast on, pick up and knit one row and then cast off. It also needed a collar and the sleeve seams sewing up but as it is a little sweater they were little jobs. The pattern is Ulina, I’ve knitted it before and I’ll no doubt knit it again as it’s entertaining to knit and lends itself well to stripes which is a major consideration for those of us trying to use up sock yarn leftovers. This time I wasn’t using leftovers, I made the yarn with this pattern in mind. I had a braid of superwash wool that had been dyed in a rainbow, I split it lengthways into four to make two matching skeins of two ply yarn. The black stripes were a necessity because I was sure that I wouldn’t have enough rainbow yarn to knit the whole thing, the wider stripes in the body were my insurance in case I had to switch to wider stripes at the end of the sleeves (it’s knitted from the centre back and edges inwards, finishing at the cuffs). The buttons weren’t quite what I’d planned but they were the best that the button tin had to offer.

This has been another lingering project, again it had been waiting months for four rows at the front and a few rows at the neck edge, I’d already joined the sleeve seams and worked in all the ends. This is Drops B14-27 yet again, this pattern fulfils all my requirements for tv knitting (I can even manage to keep up with subtitles while knitting) and it uses leftover sock yarn so there’s no wonder that I keep on knitting it. The only reason that I don’t have a storage issue with the finished item is that I keep selling a couple so they aren’t piling up. I use a provisional cast on for the new sleeve stitches just so I can finish the sleeve with a three needle cast off and avoid sewing it together. I’ve been looking at the bag of leftover sock yarn and I suspect that there may be one or two more of these coming up in the near future.

After I’d finished the final child sock I had no knitting at all so I pulled a few balls of yarn out of the sock yarn scrap bag and went looking for a pattern. This is Drops B13-12 except that I’ve ignored the directions for knitting the stripes. It felt vaguely familiar and that’s because it’s the same shape as the Drops B19-3 that I knitted in 2012, there will be buttons along the raglan of this one in due course. It amazes me to see a whole something emerge from a pile of nothing, I had a bag of small balls of this and that and out of it is coming a sweater. The advantage of using lots of different yarns is that by the time you’ve knitted one stripe from each there is no appreciable reduction in the yarn remaining. That might actually be a disadvantage, I’m not sure about that yet. I suspect that I have enough yarn for two more of these before I have to hunt out more scraps. I’m not sure that I want to knit two more of these, I’ll know when I’ve finished this one. I know that another time I’ll be sticking to a set pattern on the stripes because the freeform six or seven or eight row dark and two or four row light is making my teeth itch. It seemed like a good idea at the time and I’m sure that it’s building character but no, no, no.

That was a holding project while I got to grips with sizing a cardigan pattern for my mother. I had the yarn from the failed cardigan attempt before Christmas but it’s taken me weeks to find the time and needles to knit a swatch. I knitted two, the first one felt right but was twenty two stitches to four inches rather than the twenty stitches the new pattern needed. The second swatch felt wrong, I didn’t even measure that one because it was too loose and floppy to be wearable. I went with the first swatch and decided to rejig the pattern once the swatch was dry and I knew what the tension really was. I was lucky, it’s an alpaca blend and it relaxed to the twenty stitches the pattern needed. There’s a lesson in there for someone, I’ve learned that one the hard way. I’m still not totally convinced about this, by next time I’ll have decided whether it has a future or not. If I leave posting as long as I did last time it might have sleeves by then as well as a future.




Finished, maybe finished and nearly finished

Posted by Caroline in Bohusish, Knitting, socks on February 27th, 2015

I’ve done a little bit of combing and a little bit of spinning but not enough of either to start on the plying-knitting part of the process so the sweater will be waiting another week before it can show some progress. At least I found the bag that had the sweater in it, I was heading towards a crisis when I realised that I didn’t have a clue where I’d stashed it over Christmas. I looked in several likely places before starting on the unlikely ones, fortunately I didn’t get all the way across the spectrum from “concern” to “panic” before I found it.

My new gloves have been out and about at least twice a day on dog walking duty so they are now much more fuzzy than in this photo. They are soft and warm and I like them. I could have done a better job of the fit, I used a glove pattern calculator and I must like my gloves to be a closer fit than the average person. The fingers are right and the thumbs are in the right place but the cuff could have done with a few stitches less. The stripe in the cuff isn’t obvious when I’m wearing my coat but it should make finding a dropped glove easier. If I had to dream up a name for the colourway then  ”lichen on pavement” would just about nail it. The yarn is the soft merino/angora, merino/camel leftover from my Wild Apple hat, the pattern on the gloves is part of the hat pattern. I still have some little balls of yarn left and I’m thinking about getting some more of the merino/camel and making another hat and glove set. (If there is anyone who wants the story of the hat, it’s all under the category of Bohusish)

I rattled off another pair of child socks, these may or may not be finished depending on whether I feel like adding a bit of embellishment with some swiss darning. The yarn was a leftover part ball that was originally light green, as it stood it was not really bold enough for teen feet. I dyed it to be self striping and matching and it would have been if one sock hadn’t had one more stitch in it than the other. I could have ripped it all the way back to the end of the gusset decreases but he’ll not mind that they don’t match and I’m trying hard not to let it bother me. When they are released into the wild they may be worn paired with a red sock or an orange one so there will be nothing to match anyway.

I had hoped to have caught up with the pile of finishing, I’m closer than I was but I’m not there yet. This little cardigan has been on the needles since November. For the last two months it’s been waiting for a whole eight rows on the buttonhole band and four rows on the neck. I was tidying up and found the pattern so it seemed like a good idea to finish the jacket before I threw the pattern away. It’s blocking and needs the buttons sewing on but I’m so close now that I think I might manage that without another two month pause. I still have another little cardigan and that one has been on the go since September. I think all that needs is an edging. It’s clear that I’m missing my Saturday morning finishing session, otherwise known as music school. Dan is now in two groups which would make for a long morning of waiting about so I drop him off and pick him up later. I previously had an hour and a half sitting in a school canteen which was an ideal time for finishing because I had nothing else to do other than work on whatever boring thing I’d taken with me and drink tea. When I’m at home I can usually find something else to do and avoid sewing up and dealing with ends.

I’m not going to promise to show two finished baby cardigans next time, that would only lead to an even longer than normal gap between posts. Finishing is not my one of my strong points.


Keep it simple, my brain hurts

Posted by Caroline in Family, Knitting, socks on February 16th, 2015

It was half term here last week, I seemed to spend all of it either running around or waiting in for contractors. I spent half a day looking for the part of the hob that had vanished after I took it apart to clean, it turned up eventually stuck to the bottom of a baking sheet that I’d been using for bread. I’d already picked through the kitchen bin and the recycling bin just in case I’d thrown it away even though I knew that I couldn’t possibly have done that. After the baffling episode of the vanishing burner plate I will be glad to be getting back to a nice uneventful life this week. Last week was crying out for mindless garter stitch on big needles but unfortunately I didn’t have time to find the wool, needles or motivation so I settled for simple round and round knitting. These are destined to be birthday socks, they have the added advantage of using leftover yarn that I hadn’t got around to putting away. I was hoping not to have any left that needed putting away but the coloured yarn will live to see a third pair of socks, there’s not a lot left but it will make a stripe. I’m well on with the second sock, apparently I knit really quickly as a means of coping with hammering and brick dust.

This was the cause of the noise and dust, last week the gas fire came out and the dog baker went in complete with new hearth and mantel. We still need a dedicated baking sheet (aka hearth rug) but I’m concerned that sometimes the word “wool” seems to be a substitute for “some sort of textile, it doesn’t matter what”. I want proper wool that started with a sheep because wool doesn’t burn. Yes, I could make one but I’ve got sweaters to make and a never ending tea towel warp on the loom and there are only so many hours in the day. As an aside, you can have a dog baker even if you live in a smokeless zone, you have to have one of the DEFRA exempt ones but there seems to be a large selection of those. It’s an improvement on the hanging gas fire that we had before although the in between stage left a lot to be desired.

I’m hoping that this week I manage to get to some wool combing so that I can get my sweater finished this side of Spring. I’ll be honest and say that I’m not entirely sure where I stashed it over Christmas but I know several places where it isn’t. I know it’s in the house somewhere which is exactly what I said about the missing hob part but at least I can be certain that the sweater hasn’t found its way into the recycling.

I have new gloves – they’ll be in the next post unless of course I comb a pile of wool, spin it, ply it and race away with the sweater. My money is on the gloves.



Look, more snow

Posted by Caroline in Bohusish, Family, Knitting on February 3rd, 2015

The weather keeps on trying to be seasonally appropriate, school has been closed due to snow twice in the last two weeks. The weather forecast for the week ahead indicates that junior might manage five days this week and the weather can do what it likes next week because it’s half term. Next week I can shovel using child labour and we’ll have a four wheel drive car as well as one with snow tyres. It has been cold and I’ve been feeling the need for a new pair of gloves to go with my dog walking hat. I keep making gloves but they have never come up to the standard of my favourite pair that is now sadly a single. Now that I’ve tried it on for this photo I find that it wasn’t as good a fit as I remember it, either that or my fingers have lengthened which seems unlikely. It is however just as warm and snuggly as I remember, the yarn was handspun merino and camel so was both soft and warm. They were useless for snow shovelling because the snow clumped to the camel but how many days a year do I shovel snow anyway? (answer – too many). The one thing I didn’t like about them was that blue frankenfinger and as luck would have it the glove that I didn’t lose is the one that I didn’t like. I’ve kept the single glove in the hope that the other turns up, I’m pretty sure that it won’t because I’ve cleared out the porch looking for it and we’ve changed both cars since it disappeared but I can still hope.

It may be that I end up with frankenfingers on this pair too. The one on the last pair was due to the random colour changes in the yarn, with this pair it would be the result of plain old running out of yarn. The yarn I’m using is the leftovers from my Wild Apple hat so all that I have is what’s in the bag. I think that there will be enough of the brown to make all of the fingers but that’s down to the stripe on the cuff and the pattern on the palm – without them there wouldn’t have been enough of the main colour. I’ve not got a huge amount of any of the contrast colours either which is why I’m knitting both gloves at the same time. I’ve found the centre of each ball and made a knot in it, then rewound the yarn into a centre pull ball. If I hit the knot then it’s time to back up to the start of the round and make a colour change. So far it’s all going well and I’m not that far from the top of the thumb gusset so it won’t be long before I’m back to one colour knitting. Once I’ve made one finger I’ll have an idea of whether I have enough yarn to knit all the others.

I made a chalkboard door from half of the tin of paint I showed last time, this one happens to be a blackboard but you can get the paint in different colours. Despite sanding the door first there is one place where the paint has pulled off, seeing as this is a kitchen to garage door I suspect that it’s had a drip of oil down it at some time which my inadequate sanding didn’t shift. I’ll leave it for a month or so to see if any more comes off and then I’ll sand the offending spot and repaint it.

Holiday souvenirs

Posted by Caroline in Family, Knitting on January 27th, 2015

A quick look at the camera card reveals that we had a weekend away. The dog was exhausted by Sunday night after he had been faced with a non stop parade of squirrels, moorhens and ducks with the occasional swan thrown in for good measure. If you click on the photo you can see the squirrel with its offensive tufty tail to the left of the central tree, I could probably have pointed the camera at a window at random and had a squirrel in shot. You can see that the new sock went with us and I suppose that it is possible that it was really a pair with the other one worn on another day. I’m doubtful but until I start hanging socks to dry I can’t prove that he’s not been wearing both of them. I’m sure I’d be happier if I started making single socks rather than matched pairs but the last time I suggested this as an option it was shot down as being totally unacceptable.

I finished another Wild Iris (on the left), this one is in Apple Laine Apple Pie sock yarn (65% wool, 20%  mohair, 10% nylon, 5% silk). I left the button off this time because I found that the lack of a button (and therefore no designated “front”) makes it easier to fling on and as this is for me I can guarantee that flinging will be the order of the day. The yarn was not originally this colour, it may possibly have been “Arizona”, but I was planning on using stash beads and the yarn as it stood went with none of the beads I had. I went on to make another mobius with some pale green Kidsilk Aura that I picked up at a church fete last summer. I weighed it carefully and aimed to use up all of the second ball but the ball ran out with inches of beaded picot bind off still to go. Luckily I had four balls to play with so it wasn’t the end of the world. You may detect some proper photography at work here courtesy of my husband who was testing his lighting prior to photographing more interesting subjects.

I’m still failing with big knitting, I’ve swatched for two cardigans for my mother and failed to start either. One was derailed by the pattern of many errors and the second was doomed by me trying to use a bad choice of contrast yarn. I spent three days trying to convince myself that the two yarns made a harmonious pair when it was blindingly obvious to even non-knitters that the union had nothing going for it. My sweater is waiting for me to comb more wool and that’s on hold until I’ve finished the bit of painting in the kitchen because the last thing I want is dust on fresh paint. I’m done with mobius knitting for now (I have another to show that needs the ends sewing in) and everyone seems to have enough socks so I feel rather at a loose end. No doubt the right project will come along, until it does I suppose I could always get on with finishing those two baby jackets that I’ve been resolutely ignoring.

I have had a few days where I’ve been busy but had nothing to show for it when I sit down at the end of the day. I’ve been comparing exam boards for music exams, researching log storage, chalk board options and catching up with the mountain of laundry that we generate on a weekend away. It’s all necessary and time well spent but I’m left with nothing tangible. It means that I berate myself for doing nothing at all before realising that my “nothing” included three hours in the car, filling the freezer with food and the wardrobes with clothes. I decided that today I would spend some time making something visible and permanent. Where we were stopping at the weekend had a chalkboard wall next to the kitchen and we all had fun with that so I thought that we’d have one at home. My hint for the day is to have plenty of cloths because it turns out that this paint is very, very runny as well as being very, very black. Even if you are usually a mess free painter you may find that you’ve dripped it on the floor and flicked it down the kitchen cabinets and the opposing wall. Not that I did that of course, not that anyone can prove anyway.

Well hello 2015

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Family, Knitting, lace, socks on January 11th, 2015

I’ll say that I’ve been away because of Christmas, there were other reasons but let’s blame the season as it’s easier to point the finger at the festive time suck rather than anything else. Everything I was making was finished, although one thing wasn’t done in time to meet a present exchange. It was finished and wrapped for Christmas Eve though so I’m counting it as done. It would be appropriate to do a big reveal at this point except that I don’t have photos of everything I made. The socks I made have been through the wash and are no longer a pair but seeing as they are plain black when in shoes the one remaining sock will match all of the others that are black above the heel. The other is in the house somewhere and sooner or later the two will be reunited.

Earlier this year I dyed a jacket and replaced the buttons, he’s worn this so many times now that I wouldn’t mind if he never wore it again. He’s worn it with a T shirt and trainers, he’s worn it with a shirt and tie. At some point it will no longer fit him because he’s fourteen and still growing. I found another charity shop grey wool jacket, dyed it green and bought it new buttons. This one is a little larger and will last a little longer. I prefer the purple one, it was much lighter to start with which meant that it was a brighter colour after dyeing. Finding a jacket that is the right size, wool and a light colour is not all that easy so I bought the grey even though I knew it wasn’t going to give me the bright green I would have liked.

I liked this cowl so much that I’ve cast on for another for me. This is Wild Iris by Silvia Harding. It’s a moebius cast on followed by evenings of round and round tv knitting and a beaded edging to finish with. The pattern includes mitts as well but I wasn’t convinced that I had enough of the yarn to make those so I didn’t try. I spun the yarn in 2011 from a Juliespins Rambouillet braid (details here), there would have been plenty but I’ve already made a beaded something from it back in May. Fortunately I had some of the beads left over as well, the beaded edging only goes half way around the cowl so it needs fewer beads than you might think. I will confess that this was finished so close to deadline that it had to have a swift steam blocking over the ironing board.

I have had a longstanding love/hate relationship with our coffee machine, there’s something that I don’t do right and whatever it is I’ve been doing it that way for the last eight years. My husband makes espresso and it’s fantastic, whereas mine tastes of failure and despondency. The two variables are the amount of coffee that goes in the holder and how much you tamp it down. I’ve stood and watched him make coffee time and time again and although I think I’m doing exactly the same thing it’s obvious by the results that I’m not. I’ve been looking at domestic beans-to-cup coffee machines every Christmas and each year they are a little smaller and a little cheaper. This was the year when a machine that would fit in the space we have was less than £200 in the January sales so I bought one. Beans go in the top, water goes in the side and then all you do is press a button. There is no skill involved in pressing a button so after eight years of muttering and occasional finger pinching I can now have coffee whenever I want. There has been a lot of button pressing going on, so much so that I’m now buying beans a kilo at a time.

I like to have a fresh start to January, I threw away the to do list but I failed to complete everything that I had on the needles. I’m still looking at two baby jackets that maybe need an hour’s work between them, it feels more like finishing than knitting so it’s just not happening at the moment. I hope to start up the combing-spinning-knitting cycle and get my new grey sweater finished before the end of the season for wearing it. I’m certain that the first thing to be finished this year will be the cowl because little pretty things get my attention every time.



Seasonal stuff

Posted by Caroline in Knitting on December 13th, 2014

I returned to add the photos to the blog post that I’d written earlier in the week only to find that my words had vanished without trace. I’m not entirely sure what I wrote the first time round but it must have included mittens, slippers and a Christmas tree because those are the photos that I took to go with the text that isn’t here.

The wheel came down, the loom moved to where the wheel was and the tree went in the loom-shaped gap. This year the dog was chanelling his forest-dwelling ancestry before we’d got as far as untangling the lights. The tree skirt is his new favourite place for hiding treats although it makes such a fantastic hiding place that he can’t find them again afterwards. I made that tree skirt as a temporary measure until I got on with making the real one but for some reason I never find the time to make it once the tree has gone up and then once it’s come down I don’t know how big the skirt needs to be to cover the tree stand. This year I am planning ahead and I’ve measured the length of the legs (36″ across) so that I can make a new tree skirt at my leisure.

The mittens are for my mother to give to my aunt. They were straightforward enough to knit with no setbacks or calamities, they are finished, washed, dried and ready for wrapping. The original pattern was Anemoi, it came with a blank template on which you can chart your own design. I’ve made two pairs of these for my aunt for previous Christmas presents so I know that they will fit. This is a pairing of a 50g ball of black sock yarn and the three ply handspun that I made in July. There’s a huge amount of the handspun left because mittens are such small things to knit but I don’t care. It looks lovely with the black and I like the way that the colours drift across the stranded pattern. There was a big chunk of the black left too but that’s already past the heel on a pair of socks, if I get a move on there’s still a chance that I can be wrapping those for this Christmas. That leaves me with three other festive projects which all have to stay under wraps for the moment.

I did have a setback with the new cardigan. I sat with the pattern schematic and a calculator to work out what I needed to do to raise the neckline. When I first saw the pattern I thought that I’d just set off and sort it out when I got up to the neck but I hadn’t realised that it’s worked top down so I have the opportunity to get it wrong right from the start. I came up with a new cast on figure and revised shaping and then set it aside to get on with the important job of finishing the mittens. It was as well that I did because a day or two later I had an email with pattern errata and it turns out that the measurements of the neckline in the schematic were wrong, a whole five inches of wrong. I’m telling myself that it should be much easier to do this for the second time because I know how the shaping works but it feels like a chore. I’m seriously considering option B which is to start at the bottom and work upwards so I can leave the neckline until last. I want to be knitting not to be working out how to extend a yoke without messing up the pattern.

I’ve finally called time on these slippers. I was looking for the slipper lasts to make a pair of wet felted slippers and found them inside the slippers I made five years ago. They were too big then and not surprisingly, they are still too big. I put them through the wash at sixty – still too big. I sliced them to the toe, cut out a wide chunk and then sewed them back together again – still too big. I have now officially given up with these and binned them. I’m still thinking about using the slipper lasts to make a felted pair but again I’m a bit short on time at the moment.

My only knitting is a pair of socks, currently in the plain black stage (we could quibble over whether finishing counts as knitting. My blog, my rules, finishing is not knitting so therefore I have no other knitting). I must be mad, knitting with black yarn in December when it’s dark in the early afternoon and if it’s raining it’s effectively dark all day. If I got on with number crunching I could be knitting in a nice light green yarn, easy to see at any time of year. I’m not convincing myself at all.