The thing in the wardrobe

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, lace, sewing on July 23rd, 2015

Looking back through the blog it seems to be six years since I cleared out the front bedroom so I shouldn’t be surprised that it took me so long to get down to floor level this time. It’s done now (hopefully for another six years), I can get in there to sew and I even dug some yarn out to make a warp. I’ve now got a queue of things to quilt – there is the tree skirt I made recently, the cabin in the woods wall hanging, the tree skirt I found in the wardrobe last week and a quilt made of trees. There is a certain tree theme here, it’s not intentional but just the way it worked out.

I knew this was in the wardrobe, it’s been in there for decades. I won the tree blocks back in the early days of the internet, they were paper pieced so I had hopes of them all being the same size but it was not to be. They were supposed to be 8″ finished but there were multiple makers and slightly different sizes and they were not going to play well together. I framed the trees with the light brown fabrics and squared it up as I went along making it less noticeable that some of the trees are significantly larger than others. Phase one of quilting was along the blue lines of the sashing, I had a long repeating leaf and vine motif running from one side of the quilt to the other and a shorter repeat in between. It’s more visible on the back, you can see the way that the leaves are currently framing a square of empty space. At that point my bright ideas stopped and the whole thing went into the wardrobe for a decade or so. When it came out of hiding for phase two of quilting I used some of the leaves to fill in all the triangles around the outside of the quilt and I bound the edges. That left me with the trees themselves and I was stumped. I tried a few things such as echo quilting the tree shape and a circular wreath of leaves but I couldn’t come up with anything I liked the look of so it went back into the wardrobe again.

Inspiration struck last week while I was making the bed, it’s been warm and we’re sleeping under a quilt that I finished in 1996. I looked at the quilting design in the corner block which has no resemblance to the tree quilt other than it is square but instantly I could see how I could fill those empty tree blocks. I drafted the pattern and then later that day I moved the sewing machine cabinet and found the pattern I’d used for quilting the sashing back in the 1990′s. I’m tracing the pattern, sewing through it and adding the wandering vine around the outside as I go depending on how much empty space I have. It’s going well so far, one block takes me about ten minutes but I’ve had enough after three of them. I’m hoping that by the time I’m done I will have recovered my machine quilting skills or at least clawed some of them back.

This has been my take along knitting project for a while, it’s been to music lessons, Saturday morning music centre, anywhere where I need to sit about. It started out as a skein of white yak/silk that I spun sometime in the past, the label said that there were 420 yards but it didn’t give a clue as to the date. I think it’s probably this one from 2012 that I spun as an attempt to forget all about junior’s audition. I dyed it a while ago but then couldn’t find the right project. In the end I grew tired of looking at it and decided that what it really wanted to be was finished. It is now a cowl, it comes to waist depth on me and will make a soft and warm Christmas present for someone. I will block it properly before I wrap it, it will get wires and steam to make the points pointy, I just soaked it and laid it flat to dry in an attempt to move it from the coffee table into the present cupboard.

My evening job this week is making more hankies for Christmas, he’ll get half now and half wrapped up later. The blue elephants were considerably cheaper than the yellow ones for reasons that are not at all clear to me. I would expect yellow to be discounted because it’s never a popular colour but the blue was less than half the price of the yellow. I bought a metre and it will make a dozen hankies. Sewing them is very relaxing, right up until the moment when the thread gets tangled after which it’s not relaxing at all. My other evening project has been, as always, socks but that has been derailed as I’ve reached the toe and despite counting, checking and counting again they don’t look long enough. I tried them on and they’re too big for me but not enough “too big” for me to be happy about knitting a second toe. The feet don’t return home until Saturday so until then the socks are on hold.

If I manage to quilt four blocks a day then there should be a finished quilt to show next time, I’m confident now that its future is on a bed rather than in a wardrobe and that it will be finished this time rather than stuffed away for another ten years.



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.



Sewer and sewer

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, lace, sewing, socks on May 24th, 2014

It’s been an odd week and I’m having difficulty pulling it all together into one post. I’ve given up now, what doesn’t go in here today will appear another week or I’ll just pretend it didn’t happen. The week started well enough, Sunday was sunny and my neighbour was cutting the hedge at the bottom of his garden. It didn’t take him long to finish so I thought that I’d get ahead of the chore list and cut my hedge too. Go me. What I didn’t think about until after I’d started was that he was cutting a two foot strip of hedge above a fence whilst my hedge goes all the way down to the floor. I had considerably more trimmings to clear up than he did but it’s a once a year job so I can appreciate my work for months. I thought that was going to be the big job for the week but I was so wrong. I’m sure we’ll look back on 2014 as “The Year The Sewer Was Cleared” and yes, that is “sewer” as in drainage not as in tailor. This is one time where I’m making no apologies for not taking photos although there was a video camera in use (but not mine). There was also dye (not mine) and copious amounts of water. When I come to pay the water bill next year I’ll be happy that I’ve had my money’s worth on the drainage side. I’m also happy that the offending man hole cover is on someone else’s property.

I jinxed the socks by calling them “perfectly well behaved”. They weren’t and as a result they are still not finished. I’ve been carrying them around in my handbag in case I find a minute to graft the toes but you can see how well that has worked out for me. I had to pull back five rounds on one and a whole toe and five rounds on the other. They were intended for my son but they don’t fit him so his dad will be getting this pair. I’ve been dealing with junior’s growing feet by adding half an inch to the length of the heel flap and knitting more and more rounds in the foot. It looks as if we’ve reached the limits of a 72 stitch sock and I need now to cast on a number bigger than 72. It’s taking me into new territory and I’m not exactly happy about it, I’ll have to start from scratch with foot measurements. It’s one of those jobs that I can put off for weeks but when I force myself to do it will take five minutes.

As I said last time I couldn’t find a needle that was the right size, the right length and flexible enough to wrap around for a mobius cast on so I had to settle with two out of the three. In a perfect world I’d have gone up a needle size as this is a bit dense, it’s ok but I would have liked something with a bit more drape. The yarn is handspun Rambouillet, I spun it in 2011 so it’s about time that it found a purpose in life. The beads were leftovers from something or other, I’d strung them and thoughtfully added a tag that said there were 256 of them but I neglected to say what size they were. “Big enough” as it happens. The pattern is a test knit for Vicki and I’ll add the link when she releases the pattern. I enjoyed it all the way to the beaded picot cast off, after the first mile of that I’d had enough. It felt as if it took me longer to do the cast off than the rest of the project. I like it though and I have enough yarn (but not beads) for another.

This is the result of my two sewing days, the first sewing day turned into a sewerage day when I got next to nothing done. I got three bags from the length of fabric that I made in 2011, I have under three inches left over. I couldn’t have added an inch to each bag because otherwise the zips would have been too short so maybe I need to think about cutting out and then buying zips rather than the other way around. These are more square than the last ones that I made because I’ve cut more out of the corners. I think I like this shape more than the other so this is what we’ll be going with now (at least until I change it again). I’ve already cut the next three bags and then I think I might have a change from box bags. I can’t get the lid on the fabric box yet so I might be at this for a few weeks longer but I can’t see me making more than a dozen of one thing without getting bored.

There will be no bags next week because top of my to do list is “decorating”. When we first moved into this house twenty three years ago we painted or papered every room. There’s one room that has not been touched since then and not surprisingly it’s overdue a bit of a freshen up. I’m telling myself that when this room is done then I’ll be finished for a few years but I don’t believe me at all because some jobs come round again and again and again. (Not drains though, I’m happy that when they’re clear they stay clear forever. I’m not listening to you, my fingers are in my ears)


Racing starts

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, lace, sweaters on November 7th, 2013

I don’t know where this week has gone, somehow it has managed to be Thursday again. It was only just Monday, I suppose I should be glad that I didn’t blink and miss more of November. Earlier this week I finished cutting out a shirt so before I vanish into a black hole of sewing machine wrangling (tension – yes I have it, sometimes more than the machine does) I thought I’d pop in and show you the result of my bead purchase before another week runs away from me.

As Carolyn already knows (see, there are benefits to being a commenter) the beads I bought for Faberge were a total failure. I managed to match the colour so well that they would have been invisible even if they had been the right size. Don’t ask me why I bought 8/0 when I knew that I wanted 6/0, I can only think that I was distracted by the shopping software offering me other choices which were (too) perfectly coloured and in the wrong size. All was not lost, I still have bags and bags of gold beads left from the ripped Iris and gold works with so many colours including dark brown. You will have to take my word for that, if there had been some actual light this afternoon you might have been able to see them but if you click the photo you can just make them out on the larger version. This is the end of the beaded section, it changes next to something with holes. I will confess to not having read that far ahead in the pattern but there are certainly holes in all the photographs.

I’ve also started what can only be called a baby mash up. The original pattern is fifty years old and at 8 stitches to the inch on 2.75mm needles is a project for the committed knitter. I’m aiming for 7 stitches per inch on 3.25mm needles by overlaying its key features on a more modern pattern of similar construction. If it works (and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t) then this will change it from being a single size pattern in a discontinued yarn to being a multi sized pattern in sock yarn. At the moment the yarn looks nasty and stringy but I’ve used it before and it does look better once it’s been washed. I’m hoping that when I’ve done it will look the same as the original, it’s difficult to judge whether it’s looking the same when all you have to go on is the sleeves.

I’ve also been snared by a pattern for a Christmas stocking. I’m telling myself that I don’t really have the time for that especially as I have to dye and dry the yarn and adapt the pattern but I’m not listening. I compromised with a negotiated settlement – I won’t start it until something else is finished. I then immediately redefined the word “start” to suit my own ends with the rationalisation that it would be silly to cast off and not have the yarn for the next project ready to go so printing the pattern and dyeing the yarn don’t count, nor does making a swatch. No doubt by the end of next week I’ll have managed to rationalise dumping one of the current projects in favour of the new one with the actual deadline.


Never have I ever

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, lace, sweaters on October 29th, 2013

Never have I ever managed to stick with it and finish something that I disliked so much. Usually when I’m not feeling the love for a project I rip it and start over because knitting is supposed to be fun and not a chore. Those scraps that I picked out because they worked so well together turned out not to make a good team after all. I decided to overdye the finished item with brown which would mute the white and tone down the bright green but that was before I needed something to do at 3am when I sewed the seams up out of boredom. Now I’ve got those two tubes I think I have less chance of dyeing it to my satisfaction than I had when the sleeves were all open and floppy. I’ll pack it away and see if six months apart makes me dislike it any less, otherwise it may have a swish in a dye bath after all. There are no buttons and it’s not been blocked because if I’m going to dye it then doing either is a waste of time

Never have I ever finished a shawl knitted from the bottom up. I started one once, a Maplewing, but I wasn’t convinced that it was going to finish to the size I wanted and I ripped that after a few inches. With top down designs it’s easy to get the size exactly right, you just stop knitting when it’s big enough but by knitting bottom up the final size is determined with that first row. I’m not worried with the sizing on this one (Faberge) because many of the finished items I looked at seemed to have a theme of “smaller than I expected” and that’s good for me. What I want is something that will fill in the neck of sweaters that have a low neck so smallish would suit me nicely. At the moment my rows are 440+ stitches long and mindless beyond belief so it’s going to take me a few evenings to get through this part. That’s good because the beads for the next section are still in the post, I could even have time to buy a second bag of beads when the first ones turn out to be exactly the wrong shade of brown. My previous bead buying experiences tell me that I’m successful in matching beads to yarn through the computer screen only about half of the time. It’s possible to go wrong in either direction by buying beads that match so well that there’s no point using them or getting ones that fail to work with the yarn at all. Only time will tell.


Awaiting closure

Posted by caroline in Knitting, lace, Weaving on November 12th, 2012

Yes, my book did come but the fibre that I ordered to spin the yarn to knit the patterns in the book (in the house that Jack built) didn’t. I’m currently filling my time by attempting to see the difference between five near-identical colours on a chart and muttering about how long things take to ship. Moving swiftly along…

I was asked to knit something short sleeved and lacy with a scoop neck that was close fitting and had a zip. I didn’t think zips and lace would look good together because I couldn’t see how the hard line of the zip would work with the openness of the fabric so I was planning on using buttons. The yarn came out of the cupboard, I bought it for for weaving and I’ve used a surprising amount of it already. I made three bags using it as weft, the leftover piece made a phone slip cover which apparently the blog has never seen and there’s a length of doubleweave fabric upstairs in a bag somewhere. It’s JC Rennie 2/11nm supersoft lambswool and although you can buy it in balls for handknitting I’ve been buying it oiled on cones. I think it’s intended use is for machine knitters, that’s certainly the section I buy it from when I have a periodic falling down on Ebay. This one is “Fauna” which is still in their colour range. What’s left on the cone is now officially a leftover, there’s less than 200g left now and that is just not quite enough to knit another of these.

The pattern is a free one, the Horseshoes Cardigan that was originally published in Magknits. It ended up being slightly too close fitting because I made a cardinal error with the swatch in that I measured it after washing and blocking but without then leaving it overnight for it to relax to its final size. It’s the usual story, I was in a hurry to cast on and get to the knitting and you would think I would have learned by now to take the time to get gauge right. It worked out well in the end because it meant that I had a good excuse for adding a wide seed stitch border and that stopped the zip from running alongside the lace. I’m having to imagine the zip at the moment because the local shop that sells buttons, ribbons and zips only sells dress zips. I never thought that open ended zips were any more specialised than their closed bottomed cousins but it appears that I’m wrong.

If I were knitting it again I’d change the neckline and make it less scoopy. I’d convert the short row shaping back to cast offs (because I’d rather have a step than short rows in lace) and I’d plan on adding an edging to stabilise that long neck edge. I’d already added icord to the edge of the fronts to make a dip where I could hide the stitches for the zip, I continued it all the way around the neck once I’d seen how much it was wanting to roll. The previous scoop neck tops I’ve made had a crab stitch crochet edging and now I know why.

I have been tidying up this week although very slowly. On the left is the result of me starting to tidy the freezer. I found a bag with three teacakes in it that had been lingering long enough to be stale on thawing. I could have thrown them away but it was more entertaining to play with them a bit and turn them into a bread and butter pudding. I haven’t made one in decades, it was delicious and I suspect that there are more leftover teacakes in the freezer that will be meeting the same fate. On the right is the result of me finding a bag with the remains of the Blueberry Fool yarn that I made in April 2011. I could have just taken the bag upstairs and put it in a box but it was so tempting that I had to play with it first. There were several small balls left over from making a run of shadow weave scarves last summer, not enough on their own to make a single colour scarf so they had to be helped along with something else. I don’t usually make the pattern blocks this big, these have eighteen ends to a repeat and I generally go with ten or twelve. I prefer the larger ones which is something worth remembering for the future. There are now only two small balls of the handspun left and they can join the Fauna in the leftovers pile.




Half term strikes

Posted by caroline in Knitting, lace, socks, Weaving on October 31st, 2012

The navy yarn arrived and proved to be the perfect colour. I managed to get it measured out, tied on and beamed just in time for everything to stop for half term. I’m sure that the actual weaving will go fast enough once I get to it but that might not be until next week. Until then I get to admire it every time I walk past the loom and imagine what it will look like as cloth. I have a suspicion that there will be navy stripes.

This was the fibre the last time I showed it. I don’t have a photo of the resulting yarn but it looked just the same as all the other skeins of this that I’ve spun, it makes two skeins that start off dark at one end and slowly change to white at the other. When I spun this for the first time I wondered what it would look like woven but I’ve kept selling the yarn without finding out. I needed something to do at the weekend while sitting around at a craft fair so I warped the rigid heddle loom with one skein and used the other as weft. Another time I’ll take a second warp with me because I’d finished the scarf with three hours still left in the day. Fortunately this was not a major cause for panic as I’d taken a ball of sock yarn and a set of needles with me just in case. It’s not just Scouts who are well prepared.

The scarf runs light to dark across the width and light to dark along the length and I quite like it. It’s only “quite like it” rather than “love it beyond reason” because half way through I started wondering what it would have looked like paired with burnt orange or red in a log cabin pattern. The colour change in the yarn would need to take place in half the length but that’s not difficult to achieve. It is lovely and soft, snuggly and woolly and I’m glad that I took the time to find out what the yarn would look like. The photo on the right shows both ends side by side with the white edge of each running down the centre. You can see the effect of changing the colour of the weft, the left side has the light end of the yarn and the right side has the darker end.

I finished my socks but failed to take a photo before they went into service. They’re not my favourite colours but they are keeping my feet warm and stopping my shoes rubbing on my heels so therefore they are perfect. The next ball out of the sock yarn drawer was the emergency reserve that went with me to the craft fair and is very much more upmarket.  It’s Maple Creek Farms Annapolis (75% merino, 20% nylon, 5% metallic) in “Boot Camp” which is a mixture of dark greens and browns with lots of glittery flecks that are showing nicely in the photo. Even though these would be a perfect match for these trousers they aren’t for me. These are for bigger feet than mine although exactly which pair of feet I haven’t decided yet. Both residents with 72 stitch feet have recent offences of putting handknitted socks into the wash as singles rather than pairs and it’s that sort of transgression that determines who goes to the back of the handknit queue (that and having feet that are growing by the week)

This was a collaborative project seeing as it is half term and we had a spot of free time in between homework, more homework and Minecraft. Dan chose the design, I drew it on the pumpkins and we carved one each. I did the debraining which is a first because in previous years I’ve not been able to grip the ice cream scoop well enough to cut into the flesh. I was proud of myself for that – I know that it’s not a mighty achievement in the grand scale of things but it felt good to me. Mine is the one with the eyebrows, the small one had much thinner skin and eyebrows were a high risk move. Halloween proved to be a wash out, it started to rain heavily just after 6pm and that was an end to the trick or treaters. I’m not complaining as there are are an awful lot of people who will be spending Halloween flooded with no gas, electric or phone service and trees on their houses. I am thankful that all I’m left with is a few unopened bags of treats.


Week of the black shetland

Posted by caroline in Family, Knitting, lace, Spinning on July 4th, 2012

I was expecting to have a nicely hemmed tiny teatowel today but that isn’t happening. When I anticipated that I would get it finished in a week I hadn’t allowed for two Olympic torch processions or foreseen two days lost to a streaming cold. The cold was particularly trying, it was impossible to get under the loom to tie up the treadles because whenever I looked down I thought my face would fall off. I was fit enough to face the world on Friday and to go and stand in the rain to see the torch pass by. Having negotiated for junior to have the day off school he was going even if I had to lay down under a hedge when I got there. It rained, then the sun came out just in time to dry everything off before the torchbearer appeared. I did not have to lay under the hedge but I was in bed before 9pm.

I couldn’t set the loom up to weave due to the likelihood of my face dropping off into the treadles so there was more time for knitting. This is a shop sample, it shows what you could make with the three colour Shetland blend that I’ve been carding. I started with just over 600 yards of yarn which is my default spinning for three ply sock yarn made into a two ply. There was enough left for another few rows but the edging was so mind numbingly boring that I couldn’t bring myself to knit another row. I told myself that the leftovers would come in for something and cast off. It started and ended as a Zetor but I changed to leaves in the middle. It came out just as I thought it would, the colours merge one into another without a hard line and I’m pleased with the result. I know, it’s not often I say that but just for once I got exactly what I wanted. Maybe the transition between the white and grey could have been softer but that would be nit picking of the highest order.

This is Shetland too aklthough I can’t say that it was what I wanted because what I set out to spin was a laceweight silk. I sat down with a bag of silk brick that I’d bought some time ago but it was hard to draft, I had to wrench it apart. That makes for an uneven yarn and a pain in my thumb, both of which were good reasons to pack it away. The reason I bought it rather than dyeing it for myself is that the last one I dyed had spots that were hard and wouldn’t easily pull apart. I thought I’d buy one from another dyer and see how far I was off the mark in terms of the condition of the silk. It appears that my dyeing is no worse than other people’s, there was nothing to chose between them in terms of hard spots. This gave me over 200g of lovely unspinneable silk, I could make silk paper with it but I don’t have that much need for it (although the end of term is school, new teachers who don’t have silk paper pen holders already)

I found some black Shetland which was genuine black rather than the usual dark brown and carded that with the naughty silk. I spun it worsted with no attempt to take out the silk chunks, this is going to be a weft yarn and the lumps will add interest to plain weave. I now have just over 210 yards of interesting yarn and 30g less silk. More importantly the rest of the silk just escaped from the “useless” category. I have enough of the Shetland to make another skein the same and by then I’ll have woven it to see if it looks like I imagine. If it turns out to be a thing of beauty then I can buy black merino and make as much as I like.

Next time I’ll have hemmed the teatowel and have had time to decide why it is that it’s failed to meet expectations.

Stuff the monkeys

Posted by caroline in Knitting, lace, socks, Spinning, Stashbash, Weaving on June 7th, 2012

Thank you for your comments on the not-a-pirate-at-all monkey, we’re still making them as the sale isn’t until next week. This week’s monkeys have been black and bright as a result of my impulse purchase of a seven-pack of socks. These don’t need clothes because they are drop dead gorgeous, it’s the plain Janes that need a little something to help them along. I think this one might be Kiki but I haven’t set the bio-writer to work yet so it could be something else entirely. There was much less work in this than in the pirate as the total knitting content consisted of one bulky nappy with a tail hole, one little bottle of banana milk and a frilly bonnet with ear slits. I did think about a bib but I thought that the neck fastening on that would conflict with that on the bonnet so the bib didn’t make it off the drawing board. I liked making the bonnet, I could make them all day because it was interesting (changes of direction, short rows) and it finished fast. I tried to make the bottle banana shaped and it sort of worked but I can’t say that it came out the way I imagined it looking. I didn’t lose sleep over that, nor did I feel the need to rip it and start over so perhaps I am softening up as I get older.

It has not all been monkeys, last week I carded a three colour mixture of shetland for me rather than for the shop. I spun it over the weekend and started knitting it slightly before it was what non-knitters might consider to be totally dry. It’s already at the stage of being too big for straight needles although I’m pretending it isn’t because I don’t want to look for a circular needle. At the moment it’s a Zetor but I’ve knitted that twice before and I’ve had enough of the pattern already. I’ve finished with the white section of the yarn, it’s now as grey as it gets and at some point it will change gradually to sheep black. The yarn is mildly entertaining but it’s not zingy enough to offset the mind numbing pattern which will now repeat until I think I’m ready for the border. It might morph into leaves or diamonds (diamonds are big at the moment) or I could of course knit another row while I think about it some more.

I seem to have cast on for a pair of socks. You don’t have to think of something positive to say about these because I know that they are without a doubt the ugliest pair I’ve knitted in a long time, it’s the combination of pink and green that I’m finding particularly unlovely. The flash isn’t doing them any favours but the best lighting conditions for these is probably total darkness. I won’t be looking out for any more Opal Neon, this ball has put me off it. The leftovers will be hitting the dye before they go in the scrap bag, I can’t see me wanting to knit it again in its original colours. They will be hard wearing, prevent blisters and make another pair until washday.

The pile of monkeys on top of the loom is a clue that weaving is at a halt, I sleyed the warp that was left on the loom at 15 ends per inch per layer as opposed to the 12 epi I used for the first piano scarf. Since then it’s just sat there waiting for me to tie on and start. I thought a little incentive was in order so I’ve wound the warp that I’ll tie onto the end of the piano scarf once I’ve finished it (which obviously won’t be until after I’ve started it). I started off with a big pile of random balls of leftovers, there was a bag of blue, a bag of green and then I had a general rummage to see what else I could find that went with those. I’m happy to say that by the time I’d wound the warp there was very little left, by the time I’m done with weft stripes there might be nothing at all to go back in the bag. I still need to start by weaving in black and white but now I can see what’s coming along next. The idea is that I’m so taken with my plans for the blue/green that I overcome my reluctance to weave a second keyboard. Let’s see how that one works out for me.

One step forward

Posted by caroline in Knitting, lace, Stashbash on February 2nd, 2012

I had this post all ready to go yesterday, it only needed one photo, but then my afternoon was derailed by emergency cake baking. It appears that the year 7 cake stall (run by the boys, the girls are selling bracelets) was in need of supplies so we made an orange cake and chocolate buns after which I needed a bit of a sit down. The junior baker’s skill set is developing and he does now realise that clearing up and washing the bowls is all part of the job rather than scampering off and leaving me with the eggshells. This is a step in the right direction but his counter-cleaning skills need a bit more work (egg+cloth=big mess).

I spent all of January working with odd balls of leftover yarn so you would expect that I have made big inroads into my target of using up 2012g of old yarn this year. I knitted a pair of mittens and a pink baby jacket from 135g of sock yarn leftovers. That’s better than it sounds because while I was knitting  I wasn’t knitting socks and the leftovers from a pair of socks adds 30g to the bag of scraps. Weaving really rips through yarn because it’s so much faster than knitting. In January I wove five scarves and a bag length and that used 840g.

pboucleIt looks like it should have been a big win except this month I failed to meet my target of 180g. That’s because at the same time as I was dredging odd bits of wool out of the yarn bins I was sticking big cones back in. pacaboucleI’ve tried spinning boucle and decided that it isn’t worth it in terms of time even though it adds so much to woven fabric. The boucle I’ve used as an accent yarn in scarves really lifted the fabric so I can easily justify more (especially when it’s cheap). There doesn’t look to be much here but that’s because there are another seven balls of the navy packed away in a box, the total weight of all the boucle was 880g. Two purchases – 880g, one month’s work on stash reduction – 840g.

I think what we can learn from this is that firstly it’s true that weaving really does use yarn faster than knitting and secondly that I need to stop buying wool if I’m ever to get one of the yarn boxes emptied.

bjacket2I’m still knitting the next two piece baby jacket even though I’ve demonstrated that knitting isn’t a terribly effective way of thinning the stash. The sleeves are done and now I’m knitting towards the neck with the back being on the right of the photo. It’s occurred to me (on a recurring basis) that if I’d made a smaller size I’d have been finished by now, as it is I have an inch to go before I reach the neck and start working the back on its own. When I cast on it seemed to be a good idea to choose a larger size because I had a lot of brown sock leftovers, now I’m not convinced that I’ll have enough yarn to finish it. This is not much of a problem because I had a tidy up at the weekend and found two more bags with sock scraps in, including one with three balls of brown. The next one will be pink and brown unless I’ve died of garter boredom before then. The next one will also be a smaller size, I should remember that a 25″chest at 7 stitches per inch is a decent chunk of knitting and not a couple of evening’s work.

placeI needed a break from odd balls and part skeins so I started knitting the Portland that I spun last week. It’s not been getting much of my knitting time so far even though I like the colour and the beads and everything about it. It’s just my guilt that’s making the baby sweater rise to the top of the knitting heap.