Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, socks, Spinning on March 5th, 2014
Baby Sirdal has been rescued from the bag of abandonment. I’ve finished the first sleeve and started the second although I’m not yet at the point where I can see that I’ve successfully reversed the cuff. I know from mittens, gloves and studying organic chemistry that I have terrible issues with
chirality mirrored items but because I know that I can’t see the difference I don’t often get it wrong. I take a lot of care to check that what I think I see is really what is there. In a few rows time there will be much poking and several second opinions and then I’ll leave it overnight and check it again. I know that it shouldn’t need much thinking about, I just need to do what the pattern tells me to do but that assumes that I managed to do that on the first sleeve.
I’ve got as far as setting the wheel up, I put it away for Christmas and never got it back out. I know, it’s shocking, what is the world coming to? In my defence I would like to point out that I’ve not been well. I found the samples I made when I knitted Celtic Dreams back at the end of 2010 (18 stitches, 24 rows per inch) which should serve as a staring point for the yarn for Yoho (16 stitches, 20 rows per inch). I know that some spinners have elaborate systems for storing samples and have purpose made books or cards with attached yarn and ratio notes. I have a system that works for me and it obviously does work seeing as I found the relevant samples in under a minute. My tried and tested system is that I stick things in a bag that lurks near the wheel. I have the unwashed single, the washed plied yarn and the knitted sample. Hopefully I should be able to get the yarn I need on the first attempt.
It’s still sock knitting season here although I am starting to be bored with round and round knitting which is why the last pairs have had patterns. This pair will be going away for birthday/Christmas presents and by the time they reappear I may have forgotten that the toes don’t quite match. The yarn originally had a pink and white section that was right on the very edge of being husband-acceptable but you can’t see that in the finished sock (at least not after its encounter with navy dye). Ordinarily I would have dyed the yarn before knitting it but I had no other knitting so I didn’t want to wait for it to dry. I also wanted the leftovers to be pink and that’s not going to happen if you start with navy. The easiest thing to do was to knit the socks, dye them navy and then dye the leftover yarn pink. I can recommend dyeing the socks rather than the yarn because not only does it avoid having to wait for the yarn to dry, it also avoids the work of turning a ball of yarn into a 420 yard skein to then wind the 420 yards back into a ball. The only skeining and winding that I needed to do was that of the leftovers and that was only a quarter of the work. For anyone wondering why I bought the yarn if I didn’t like the colour – I buy most of my sock yarn very cheaply in Ravelry destashes and the colour is immaterial because I know that I can change it.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Spinning on February 21st, 2014
I’m really stretched for something positive to say although “I am not flooded” seems to be a good start. I’d like to wipe the last few weeks from my memory, I’ve been ill enough to be happy to spend my days flat out on the settee watching whatever drivel pops up on the television. There’s been no end to the sore throat, coughing and crackling chest. I’ve been too sick to knit and I reached a new low of being too sick for tea. All in all it has not been a fun February and I can’t wait to turn the page on the calendar and declare it to be March.
The antibiotics appear to be nailing my chest infection so I’m feeling a lot better. I’m not yet ready for the level of thought required to match yarn to pattern but I can cope with round and round mindless sock knitting. The black and bright pair are for my son as they meet school uniform requirements, they’re shown below non-black trousers as it’s half term here this week. (I’m keeping on looking for the positives, so I’ll say that half term has been a major win as the neighbouring school authorities have half term next week and everywhere is deserted. Cinema for seven please) I ended up knitting four heels because on two of them I managed to drop an edge stitch early in the flap and didn’t discover it until I was a stitch short after turning the heel. After all the ripping it’s a surprise that they managed to make it to the toes. The very bright pair are for my husband who in the last three weeks has not once complained about me coughing in the night time and has been cooking, ironing, shopping and covering all those other jobs that I haven’t been doing. It’s more than likely that the leftovers from these will go into the next pair of child socks because it certainly meets the requirement of “bright”. The flash has changed the colours a little but I’m not sure that it’s making them brighter than they really are. A closer look would show how much better I’m feeling because the broken rib requires me to count to two and I’m managing to keep on top of that. I’m not ready for Sirdal yet, that needs me to follow a pattern and increase every X rows and that’s still too much to even think about.
I bought a sweater’s worth of Shetland this week (another sign that I’m feeling better), it was cheap and my Celtic Dreams won’t last forever especially as I’m wearing it all day, every day. The bags of wool are currently packed away until I get back to being fully functional because there are plenty of ways I can fail in making a fitting sweater from a heap of wool. I need to check that I have enough of it and then find the sample that I made for Celtic Dreams because that will be a good starting point for the yarn that I need. I’m pretty sure that I can put my hand on the sample right away, I’m also fairly sure what I’m going to knit – top down, saddle shoulder, cables but with a higher neckline than Celtic Dreams so I don’t need to work at keeping my neck warm.
The laptop bag is now properly finished because I found the magnetic clasps. They were in my handbag and must have been there for months. I can just about recreate a scenario where I took the clasps out to show someone and dropped them back into my handbag planning to put them away later so it nearly makes sense and I don’t need to fall back on my usual explanation for the inexplicable (alien abduction). I need to make a matching phone case but I only seem to think about this when the phone is out of the house so that might take a while despite only being a ten minute job.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, socks, sweaters, Weaving on February 3rd, 2014
Somewhere in the house is a clear plastic bag with a dozen magnetic bag fasteners in it. I’ve always kept them with the buttons but recently I took them out to show them to someone and then decided that the button tin was a silly place to keep them and it would be much more sensible to put them …. well that’s the problem isn’t it? When I find my new and improved
hiding storage place I’ll be able to really finish this laptop bag (click on the photos for larger ones). This is a replacement for the one that I made nearly four years ago, I’ve been promising to make another ever since the husband got a new and smaller Mac but it became more urgent after I set fire to the old case. That sounds extreme and it was. I caught it before it got as far as flames but it was headed that way, the wool layer had altogether scorched away and the cotton batting was toasty and brown. Wool doesn’t burn but cotton certainly does. I didn’t mean to set it on fire, I was using the case to stop the floor lamp from singing in sympathy throughout my son’s music practise and I forgot about it then turned the light on. The smell should have been a giveaway but it took time to eliminate the dog as the source. I’m not likely to make the same mistake again but, just in case, this one is wool all the way thorough, instead of a layer of cotton batting on the inside I used a second layer of the wool fabric.
There’s less knitting than there should be because I’ve got new contact lenses and they are next to useless so I’m spending three hours a day with poor vision. I’ve been waiting for my sight to magically resolve but I am now suspecting that the lenses don’t fit and that I’ve been torturing myself unnecessarily. When I’ve been able to see I’ve been knitting the blue and white tube. My unbounded love for it faded a little when I got to the neck shaping because knitting in rows with one row colour changes makes for far too many ends. It would have been nice if I could have avoided it by knitting/purling from the other end of the circular needle but the need to cast off at the neck edge meant that was a non starter. Grumble, mutter. At the same time as I was grumbling through the one row colour changes at the neck edge I also had – surprise – one row colour changes at the sleeve cuff. I cheated on the cuff in an attempt to reduce the number of ends and with any luck I’ll managed to repeat in on the second one. If I knit this again I’ll try to stagger the grumbling sections because at that point there was no fun to be had in the knitting bag (yes, I have socks on the side, they are plain black, point made). There is a left and a right sleeve because after I’ve sorted out all those ends there will be a dinky little cuff that fastens with a button.
(ETA I was right, the contact lenses didn’t fit so it’s back to glasses for now)
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, sweaters on January 29th, 2014
This booklet is showing its age, although it’s been stuck together multiple times the middle pages are still falling out. There’s no date on “First Woollies” but as my mother says that I had multiple items knitted from it then it seems fair to assume that it dates from the early 1960s. The original pattern is a single size 17-19″ chest, everything in the booklet is in this one size which isn’t surprising seeing as the subtitle is “knitting for the first six months”. It uses Patons Beehive Baby Wool and there are no prizes for guessing that this yarn is now discontinued but at eight stitches per inch sock yarn would look to be a good substitute. It’s a three part set of dress, coat and bootees but I think I’m stopping at the coat. The bottom edges start with a hem, it’s knitted upwards and then the sleeves are joined into the joke. I superimposing the eyelet pattern onto a multi-sized modern pattern of similar construction because I originally intended to make it in a larger size but then the reality of inches of plain stockinette in plain white hit home and I saw sense and made it in the 18″ size. It still needs a wave of the steam iron now that I’ve sewn the seams up but that will wait until the day when it’s leaving home. I seem to have solved my button buying problems – the trick is to go somewhere with a tiny selection so that I have a choice of two, one of which is a funny colour.
My inner knitter started to complain when I started the last pattern on the body of the baby Sirdal, she was very unhappy that I had missed dividing for the sleeves and kept trying to tell me that it was “long enough”. This is the first garment I’ve knitted where the back and front are knitted as one all the way to the shoulder, the openings for the sleeves are cut into the tube once you’ve knitted the sleeves and know how wide they are. I know that to be true but it still felt wrong, as I was looking at it I could see when the height was right for the width and where the sleeve opening needed to start. I’m well past that point now and so my inner knitter has stopped nagging me. It helped that I gave her something else to think about, when I came to work the larger pattern I found that it wouldn’t fit. I had six inches of perfectly good knitting that was two stitches short of being right. To be honest I never considered ripping it back, one stitch each side is not going to make a deal of difference and I can always make the front bands that little bit wider. Having established what the problem was it was easy to fiddle the pattern to fit the space I had.
The scrap socks are done, I got a bit more variety out of the remaining yarns by throwing them into some dark green dye. There is still some green left but not enough for another pair of socks. These are the second pair into the pile for Christmas 2014 although they might not make it to December seeing as there is a birthday before then. They are not the most exciting socks I’ve ever knitted, they won’t win any prizes for design but they fit and they will make another pair in the sock drawer. I think the next pair will be another pair of school socks with black cuffs, I keep making them but what I see on his feet is usually the most recent pair that I finished. What he does with the others I do not know, I’m hoping that in his wardrobe there is a shelf of carefully matched pairs of socks hidden under some other item of clothing. I don’t want to check to see if this is the case just in case it isn’t.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Weaving on January 9th, 2014
Happy New Year to one and all. I usually start a blog post by looking at the camera card because the photos serve as a reminder of what I’ve been up to. I can’t do that today because the camera spent all of Christmas sulking in a corner muttering about its card being full. This means there are no photos of the mini bagels (yes, I remembered the salt the second time), the mini pork pies or the second pair of socks that I finished in time to go under the tree. The third pair of socks managed to work their way into service before I got the camera sorted out but the fourth pair are still in pristine condition. I used exactly 25g of a ball of black, the rest of the yarns are leftovers from other socks.
I still haven’t blocked the baby jacket and cowl, my blocking surface has been full of freshly laundered sweaters so that will have to wait another week. My big job this week was sorting the loom out, I wound this warp in October which is so long ago that I was bored with it before I started. The big delay was down to ordering then fixing the sectional rakes on the loom and then of course the tree went up and everything stopped for Christmas. All my threading errors are on the left hand side so I can only assume that I got giddy when I passed the half way mark and carried on past the time when I could actually see. The woven part that you can see here has now gone, there was so much wrong with it that it was easier to cut it out and start again. I started off wondering why it was that the pattern wasn’t emerging, it turned out that I’d changed my mind about what I was going to weave so what was in my mind wasn’t what I’d threaded but in addition I’d written the treadling down wrong. When I got the pattern established I managed to ignore the odd looking sections by telling myself that they were reed marks and they’d wash out. This would have been more convincing if I hadn’t had some ends left over after I’d finished threading. That strongly suggests that somewhere along the line I’d missed a heddle or four and when I looked closer in better light I could see that my “reed marks” were never going to wash out. It’s all fixed now which means I can get to planning the next piece.
This is the other major call on my time, a minute here, a couple of pieces there, it all adds up. Looking back it was unbelievably optimistic of me to think that we would finish this in the time between Christmas and New Year. We don’t usually tackle a jigsaw with this many pieces and it just about fills the breakfast bar which means that it’s tricky to see the pieces because you have nowhere to put them. I think we’re over half way there now and I’m at the stage where every time I look at it I see a piece and recognise exactly where it needs to go. Earlier in the week I did suggest that what we needed most was a jigsaw hammer but I think we will get it finished without that.
I have new knitting and I maybe need to tell you about setting my husband’s laptop case on fire (that’s a slight exaggeration because we all know that wool doesn’t burn but I’d scorched through to the cotton batting before I caught it so flames were on the menu). That will have to wait for another day as I the light has already started to dim and I have some close work to do. I deleted the next several hundred words moaning about the short days and the gloomy grey light because I could be dealing with a flooded house in poor light so my inability to see to thread a needle doesn’t really warrant a moan.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks on December 24th, 2013
I’m convinced that there’s something significant that I’ve forgotten because there doesn’t seem to be anything to panic about. All the gift knitting is finished and wrapped (more about that in a moment) and the food shopping is all ticked off (with the exception of the pig’s trotters and packet gelatine will sub for those). There were no last minute parcel deliveries, no running out of sticky tape or wrapping paper although there was one present that had to be returned, much to my disappointment. I’m trying to look at that as a win because if something is too small then I’d rather know that before Christmas so I can send it back and not have it appear under the tree. Even the bagel failure didn’t matter because I was making them ten days in advance so I have plenty of time to bake them again, next time I’ll try hard to put the salt in. I’ll also be making the bite sized ones smaller because I tested one or two and they were definitely three bite bagels.
It turned out that I was knitting solstice socks, I finished them on the Saturday and dyed them on the Sunday. The yarn came out of the scrap bag as daffodil yellow and I dyed it a bee-gold, intending to knit bees into the foot. My second idea was to duplicate stitch “Bees?” on one sock and “No” on the other so it would make sense whichever foot he had the words on. I then realised that I had no time for faffing about and I’d just aim for getting them finished and wrapped. I really didn’t like the yellow as I was knitting it so seeing as I had the time I overdyed the finished sock. I tried to get fancy and have them change colour towards the toe and that sort of worked but not exactly as I’d planned. They are a brighter colour than they were, finished and dry so I’ll settle with that. If anyone is wondering about my colour choices – they meet the uniform requirement of plain black socks without being as mind numbingly boring as fully plain black socks would be.
I hope you all spend tomorrow with delightful company, perfectly cooked turkey and batteries in all the right sizes.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks on November 20th, 2013
This is the end of my current round and round knitting, it’s all I’ve been good for this week because I’ve been too busy fretting about real life to have any time left over for thinking about anything else. These are husband socks, I had thought to aim them at my son but it seems that his feet are now too big for my standard 72 stitch sock. He either needs a heel worked over more than half of the stitches or simply more stitches because when he came to try it on it was straining over the instep and as I was already at the toe it was easier to give them to someone with smaller feet. The baby jacket is sidelined because it is at the point where I should be uniting the sleeves with the body and starting on the yoke. This needs me to calculate the yoke decreases so that they work with the pattern I’m using and that won’t be happening until next week. There’s a lot of things on hold until the magic time of “after Thursday” and all knitting that needs any thought will be happening after then. My Christmas shopping also starts after Thursday as does preparing for a weekend away and threading the loom.
I’ll leave you with a quick trip down memory lane as that needs one photo and no thinking. I believe this to be the oldest thing that I’ve knitted that is still being worn. You can see that it is a product of my early knitting because it’s in the same colour as the pattern and more than likely I made it in the recommended yarn too. I remember that it took a lot of balls of yarn and that’s because it was sold in 20g balls. Looking back, that seems very strange, it was just a plain old double knit so anything smaller than a 50g ball would be very odd now. I suppose the fact that there is a pattern and I stuck to it also marks it as being not that recent. I knitted this bed jacket for my mother somewhere around 1980, it might have been slightly earlier but it can’t have been much later. Even though I made it thirty years ago I still remember the horror that I felt when I came to wrap it up and saw that I’d made a mistake in the pattern, before I got it out to take this photo I knew that it would be on the collar on the right as I looked at it. I could see myself frozen in the act of wrapping, poking at the unwanted yarnover and trying to convince myself that it would be fine to just leave it. It wasn’t as if I had any other option, it was a Christmas gift and I didn’t have the time to fix it properly or the experience to fix it quickly so I left it and needless to say it has bugged me to this day. The yarnover is still in the wrong place but the more mature me thinks that it’s not all that noticeable and it is certainly not the glaring mistake that I remembered it to be. It’s taken me a while to reach acceptance but here it is at last.
There seems to be some sort of lesson there about avoiding perfectionism, not getting hung up on small things and living with “good enough will do” but no, it’s just slipped away from me.
Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, socks, Spinning on October 20th, 2013
It’s not been a week where I’ve flown along but I did accomplish a few things. The striped baby jacket is finished including buttons. When I’ve made this before I’ve used sock scraps for the contrast colours and although it’s not hard to make the two sides match it does need a bit of effort. The sleeves were hard work last time, even putting the yarn for the second sleeve in a bag marked “sleeve” wasn’t enough to make it plain sailing and so I seized the opportunity to do something differently this time. I can rationalise with the best of them and I managed to convince myself that it made no difference to the order in which I knitted them providing that I ended up with a pair of socks and a baby jacket out of a ball of sock yarn. It didn’t really matter whether the jacket used leftovers from the socks or the socks used the leftovers from the jacket. This idea came to me because I was looking at a ball of sock yarn that was the same colour as the scraps that I’d dyed, that they matched should be no surprise given that they came out of the same dye bath. The result is that the body of the jacket uses overdyed sock yarn leftovers but the sleeves are knitted from a full ball of sock yarn.
When I finished the jacket I had just under 70g of the sock yarn left, not quite enough for a pair of socks but that didn’t matter because I had some of the other colours left from the jacket. These socks have the cuff and heel flap knitted from the true leftovers from the jacket and that was enough for the main yarn to see me to the toe. You’ll notice that the blue stripe isn’t prominent in the sleeves of the jacket, that’s because there wasn’t a stripe in the yarn then. I originally thought I’d add stripes as a way of making the 70g of yarn stretch to the toe, then I thought about all the ends that would generate and decided instead to make the cuff, flap (and toe if necessary) from other yarns. I still liked the idea of stripes though so I added a wide stripe of navy to the yarn.
I do still spin, last week I spun up a bag of merino/angora that I found as part of my tidying up, there are no photos of that because it’s gone away. It looks just like every other skein of white yarn you’ve ever seen so you didn’t miss a deal by me not taking its photo. I looked out a bag of coloured Shetland and a bag of coloured Corriedale and carded several sets of colour changing wool. When spun end to end you end up with a monochromatic gradient yarn, I’ve spun it many times before so I know exactly what it will come out like but it’s still fun to watch the colours gradually change as I spin and ply. It was so much fun that I might make another (and another).
My big plans for the loom were sidelined, I wound the warp and then read the directions for using the sectional beam. I need a metal rod and that didn’t come with the rakes so the warp is in a bag waiting for two foot of something that’s rigid but thin enough to pass through the eyes on the rakes. Thinking about it, there might be a work around – I see some research in my future.
I’m down to one knitting project now, the ugly duckling baby jacket. Glowering at it doesn’t seem to be getting it finished so it does look like I have to pick up the needles to get it done. If I don’t start anything else then there’s more chance of that happening.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, sweaters, Weaving on September 29th, 2013
The blog has graciously consented to reverting to photos that enlarge when you click them so feel free to enbiggen to your heart’s content. Today’s post is brought to you by way of a bunch of seemingly random numbers.
Three is the number of bags I got out of the length of fabric (it was a four yard warp). There is a bit of fabric left over that will come in for something at some time but for now it’s going back in the box. I couldn’t bring myself to make two bags the same so I added a contrast trim and some buttons to the third which had the same lining as the second. They are intended to be bags for socks in progress and they are a nice size for that. I like them, they aren’t perfect but I’m still learning. I tried to improve on the first handle which finished beautifully but was a pig to turn and got two handles that turned easily but the seam allowances fought with the pressing of the edges and as a result the contrast edging isn’t as even as I would have liked.
I have released two more socks into the wild. I have no idea where the pokey end has come from, that will be sorted with scissors as soon as I reclaim them for the wash. This is a 50g ball of black sock yarn and the leftovers from a skein of Lorna’s Laces Jungle Stripe, it also made a pair of Fiesta Feet in preblog times, a pair of stashbuster spiral socks for my husband and a phone cosy. I had to finish the second of the pair by missing out one of the plain rounds in the toe shaping because otherwise there wouldn’t have been enough to graft the toes closed. That’s one ball of yarn that won’t be going back into the scrap bag.
The baby jacket that I was knitting last time reached the neck just as I needed something to take with me for my Saturday morning tea-drinking music school attendance. I’m making the pattern up and I hadn’t worked out exactly what should happen when I divided for the neck so I needed something else to knit. That means I now have one more baby jacket on the needles and yes, it’s the side to side DROPS one again. This is the third one of these I’ve knitted, I am unrepentant because they are fun and use up sock scraps and anyway, I sold the other two so they don’t count. Needless to say the project that only needs a few minutes thought and a calculator to sort it out is now stuck in a bag and will probably stay there until the newness fades from this.
The number series could also read 3-2-1-28 because although there are seven buttons on this cardigan there are an extra twenty one in the button tin. I bought two sets of buttons and decided both were unsuitable then my mother bought two sets as well. We could discuss whether this is still the same cardigan as the original Sirdar one, I think that it is even though it’s knitted at a different tension with different yarn and I changed the length, the neck, blended two sizes and added waist shaping. It still looks the same because of the lace panels running up the fronts. I knitted it in JC Rennie supersoft lambswool, I bought it for weaving but it’s lovely to knit as well. It is very fine for knitting and for adult garments it makes for a lot of work. Had this been long sleeved I might have stuck it in a bag and denied its existence rather than face yet more plain stockinette. I think I’ll stick with using it for weaving in future.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks on August 23rd, 2013
I didn’t take the camera on holiday, no great loss seeing as the photos would have looked the same as last year and the year before because we stayed in the same town, in the same house. To keep me amused and out of mischief I took the cardigan, two pairs of socks, six library books and “Pride and Prejudice”. If I’d taken fewer books then there would have been more knitting but it was hot (when it wasn’t raining) and books keep my hands cooler. The cardigan still has a single front but it’s ready for some under arm cast off action which means that it’s now sidelined until the second front catches up. That’s not going to happen until I actually cast on and I haven’t got that far yet.
My other holiday knitting was one sock and two half socks. The whole sock was one of this pair, it seemed familiar when I was knitting it and when I’d finished the first one I looked across to see a nearly identical pair on my husband’s feet. Fortunately this pair are ribbed to the toe so it will be easy to tell them apart in the wash. I did think of telling the blog what the yarn was and used the yarn band as a bookmark so I’d keep it safe. This worked right up to the moment when the books went back to the library and the ball band went into the bin. I searched the blog for details of the first pair but (surprise, surprise) I didn’t note the yarn details then either. The eagle eyed may notice that the socks aren’t a good fit for these feet and that’s because they weren’t made for them. It’s still the school holidays here and junior was pressed into service as a foot model even though his feet are now bigger than his father’s.
Junior is not modelling the pair that I made for him because there’s only one of them now. Needless to say, I am not pleased. I went away with a ball of leftover blue sock yarn and two socks that were past the heel. On Tuesday he had a new pair of socks suitable for school and concerts, by Sunday he had only one. This is a new record in sock loss, severe enough for me to seriously consider relegating him to shop socks until he can manage to put pairs into the wash (I found this one under the settee after I went hunting for it when I realised that it wasn’t in the wash). The one good thing is that this single sock can still be worn because in shoes it will match all the other socks he has that are black where it shows. I can’t even console myself with my usual line of “it will turn up” because there is a real possibility that he’s left the other one in Devon. Until I see signs of remorse/contrition or the second sock he’s off the knit list.