A sad demise, for real this time

Posted by Caroline in Non-fibre on September 2nd, 2016

I’ll be back at some point but not just now where I could look back on an older post and stumble across a photo of Pebble the Wonder Dog. I’m not ready to deal with that just now, in the same way I’m not ready to look at the last photo I took of him earlier this week. He was in pain and now he isn’t. His name was Pebble and he was a Good Dog, right to the end which came far too soon.

I’m not sure that I managed to turn comments off – I can’t deal with that either.


A sad demise, but not mine

Posted by Caroline in Non-fibre on August 21st, 2016

Well hello dear blog, did you miss me? There has been woe and a considerable amount of bad language between May 19th and now. The short story is that my laptop died, I used something else and went through the long business of signing on everywhere and recovering my passwords, then my laptop was revived, then it died for real, I used something else, there was a factory reset involved (passwords again) then a change of browser (passwords again). I decided to leave the blog until everything else had stabilised (or to put it another way “I was worried that I didn’t know the password and was too frightened to actually look for it”) and so here we are, nearly at the end of August. I have not yet worked out whether the camera is on speaking terms with this laptop, that’s an experiment for another day. I just thought that you’d like to know that I’m still breathing and that I have not on this occasion managed to lock myself out of the blog.



Let’s call it my yoke phase

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sweaters on May 19th, 2016

Here we are at the end of GCSE week one. The story so far is perfectly boring – no crises, no unusual exam content, everything trundled along as would be expected. The school bus turned up, the roof didn’t fall in and no-one broke a leg. Give me another three weeks of the same and I’ll be well pleased.

I’ve finished the blue and grey sweater that I made from leftovers dyed blue and leftovers left grey. It’s knitted from the bottom up with the sleeves joined in when you get to them and is a mash up of a Drops pattern and the neck from Geilo. If I could have found a set of dpns in the right size I would have knitted the sleeves in the round and avoided a sleeve seam, as it was I knitted the sleeves both at the same time on straights and pretended it was so I could make them match. The worst thing about this turned out to be sewing on the clasps, for some reason I made a small job into a really big one. I sewed all six parts on to then decide that the neck was  wrong. I took the collar off, knitted it again but smaller and then decided that the four parts remaining were in the wrong place. When I came to sew them on again I caught a strand of yarn on the back with the first one and had to take it off and then managed a proper knot in the thread when sewing on the second. I like them, they are the same width as a stripe and a good colour match for the grey but the cost (£1.45 each) and the nightmare I had sewing them on means that I probably won’t be using them again or at least not until I’ve stopped associating them with tedium. They are not as eye catching in real life – they stand out in the photo because of the flash but as it’s grey and grim today using the flash was a necessity. I am in no way complaining about the weather, the rain brings the pollen count down which is a blessing for GCSE candidates with hay fever.

The white cardigan is of the same construction as the blue striped sweater in that it’s knitted in one piece from the bottom and the live sleeve stitches incorporated into a yoke. Again I’ve had to knit the sleeves flat because of my inability to find a set of dpns. How anyone can end up with a single double pointed needle I do not know. I could understand having none at all, I could understand having three but how did I end up with just the one? I am still unconvinced with the fabric, it’s ok but I know that I’d like it better on a smaller needle. I am bang on gauge and using one of the recommended substitute yarns but really it needs something a little bit thicker. Maybe I’ll get lucky and the yarn will bloom on finishing in a way that it’s never done before. I am considering knitting this again with my tried and tested method of using smaller needles, the length for the size I need and the stitch count of the size two sizes larger. I am also considering a hat and mitten set so that repeat knit may be happening sometime-never.

This is an actual pattern, not messed about with in any way so you too could knit this. You’d probably knit the bonnet and socks too, so would I if I could live with the tension. It’s DROPS 17-14, a free pattern, and I’m using undyed Fabel sock yarn and the leftovers from previous projects. I think it would have been fine if I’d used the recommended yarn but alpaca makes my nose itch and I don’t like feltable babywear. Drops Fabel is one of the listed substitutes but I remain unconvinced. I would suggest you use something a bit thicker or more fluffy or use smaller needles and a calculator. I would also suggest that you do the right thing with the facings and either cast on 10% fewer stitches or use a smaller needle and change/increase after the fold. A flippy facing is easily avoided, you just have to make the inside slightly smaller than the outside.

That’s it – I’m off for an exciting evening of fifteen decreases every four rows. The end is in sight although I still have the button challenge to overcome.







All shall be well

Posted by Caroline in Family, hats, Knitting, sweaters on May 13th, 2016

Let us start with a contender for the most boring photograph in the history of knitting. It’s a length of plain white rolling stockinette. Worse than that, it’s a very short piece of plain white rolling stockinette. Hopefully by the next time it appears it will be much longer with a touch of colour – either that or I will have ripped it for offences against tension. It’s sock yarn (again) but this time on a 3.75mm needle rather than a 3.25mm. It means it will make a cardigan the same size as in the pattern rather than combining the stitch count from the third size with the lengths for the first size. This should be a good thing but my inner knitter is positive that she prefers the fabric from the smaller needle. We shall see.

That is the start of sweater three because I haven’t quite finished sweater one. The grey is left over from the Geilo sweater from the last post and the blue is overdyed sock yarn leftovers. This is knitted on a 3.25mm needle which means my tension is way off but it makes a nice cushy fabric. I am using the neckline from Geilo so it’s knitted around all the way up and then the opening is cut. The photo on the right shows the two yellow lines of machine stitching on the reverse, I’ll pick up alongside those and knit a facing on each side. I am still undecided as to whether the neck will have a plain band or a collar, my decision will be influenced by how much yarn I have left.

Sweater two was started and finished over a weekend. With a 13″ chest it is easily the smallest garment that I’ve ever made and I hope that the baby is too big for it. Full term babies come in all sizes, premature babies do too. This is Heim in Drops Fabel sock yarn, again on a 3.75mm needle as that’s what I needed to match gauge. It took 48g for the smallest size so you’d get one from a ball of yarn. The pattern has five buttons but I thought there was more chance of finding a set of four in the button tin. It goes without saying that when I tipped them all out I found five. The pattern also has a helmet and leggings but I skipped those in favour of a little lace hat in leftover yarn. You can see from my finger how small it is, it fitted nicely over a wine glass.

I might have to find something that needs a lot of planning, possibly also spinning because GCSEs start next week. There are two weeks of exams, a week’s holiday and then another two weeks of exams. After that it’s summer all the way through to September.

A new start

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sweaters on April 26th, 2016

Regular readers (that’s you Carolyn) may recall that I spoke of having three baby sweaters rammed into a single bag. This is a spectacularly bad idea, do not try this at home. Two of the three patterns were handwritten notes translated from Norwegian, both containing the word “elephant”. It wasn’t enough to work out where I was in the pattern, I had first to work out which pattern went with which sweater. The first sweater I finished was one of the elephants, the second one I finished was the other elephant pattern. When I spun the yarn I knew I wanted to make a little sweater from it and I split in into a large skein and two smaller ones with the colour repeats shorted in the sleeve skeins. There wasn’t quite enough yarn in the large skein to knit all of the body so I had to put it on hold, knit the sleeves and then use the leftovers from the sleeves to finish off the body. This is knitted as a tube all the way to the start of the neck shaping, the big advantage of this being that there is only a few inches where you need to purl in pattern. The time saved there more than makes up for the extra finishing work at the end. The pattern is in a free pattern booklet and Google Translate will help you if you don’t knit in Norwegian.

The last sweater in the bag was very nearly finished, it just needed a few rounds on the top of one sleeve. Like the one above it is knitted as a tube to the neck and cut for the sleeves and the neck opening. It was the neck opening that drew me to this one, I’ve never steeked a polo neck before and I wanted to see how much work it was. This is Dale’s Geilo in the child size, there is a hat and a cardigan in the same pattern. The colour scheme on the pattern front is not the most inspiring ever but fortunately I’d seen it first on Ravelry where it had been knitted in something less orange. My version is knitted in sock yarn, I thought I had plenty of undyed yarn but the cupboard was bare and I had to ditch my carefully planned colour scheme in favour of whatever I had enough of. I like the olive and the navy but if I had been starting with a blank canvas I wouldn’t have gone with fuschia. The original has two part fasteners but as I’m cheap I went with pairs of buttons and button loops. I enjoyed knitting it and I didn’t even mind sewing down the multitude of facings at the end. The thing that I was grateful for when I came to pick up the pattern again was that it was in english.

That makes this “sweater one” again rather than “sweater four”. I liked the neckline on Geilo so much that I’m transplanting it onto another sweater pattern or I will do when I get further up the body. The grey yarn is leftover from Geilo, I’m pretty sure that there will be enough although I didn’t do anything radical such as weighing it. The blue is a random selection of leftovers from the sock scraps bag overdyed with navy. I’m not worried about running out of the blue because it’s all different and I can just make some more without worrying about it not matching what I already have. By the time I’m done I will have seen the back of a lot of little balls of yarn and that on its own is enough reason to knit it.

I’ll leave you with a couple of old posts with a school theme:

this one

this one

He starts his GCSEs in three weeks, doesn’t time fly?




Cut your losses

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, Spinning, sweaters, Wensleysweater 1 on April 4th, 2016

Let’s just forget all about March and move right on with April. Although I’ve not been entirely idle I had a spell where I didn’t seem to do much of anything. I’m through that now and as I’ve cleaned, polished, scrubbed or dusted everything in the house it’s time to dust off the blog and look through the camera card.

I spun all of the greens and blues from the fibre oddments in my last post. I overdyed it all with navy and ended up with a pleasing pile of yarn. It all went wrong after that when I found the brown yarn that in my mind I had picked out as the perfect weft yarn. I remembered it as being considerably thicker than it actually was so that idea went west. I probably have something in the stash that would work but I didn’t feel like making the herculean effort to look for it so I packed the hypothetical warp away until I come up with a better idea.

While that was on hold I made some socks, there was another black and red striped pair but they were on feet and out of the door before I thought about getting the camera out. The middle pair is yarn from a much-hyped International Yarn Dyer, I was seriously underwhelmed by both the yarn base and the dyeing and I won’t be buying more even if it became cheaper than Opal. I was so unimpressed that I made sure the leftovers wouldn’t hang around in the stash by knitting them into another pair of socks with plain black stripes. The child had them on feet and out of the house before I had the chance to photograph them

I addressed the issues on the Wensleysweater. I’m not sure exactly what the issues were but it must have had some to be still on the needles eighteen months after I started it. I like the yarn and that’s good because I will at some point be using it again. It took a while to rip out all those lovely cables but it was the right thing to do and I feel better for it.

At some point since my last post I decided to tidy up all the knitting seeing as I wasn’t actually knitting. At the time it seemed like a good idea to stuff all three baby sweaters in a single bag together with the patterns, needles and spare yarn. Sorting it out weeks down the line was not fun because two of the patterns were originally in Norwegian and my translations were on odd bits of paper. The first challenge was attempting to decipher my scribble enough to work out which papers went together (note to self – page numbers are a wonderful invention) and which papers went with which project (second note – titles are good too). I kept putting it off as being too much to tackle until I ran out of things to knit and had to find something in the bag of many projects. To my surprise I found that all three sweaters were almost done; one needed two rows on the body, one needed three rows on one sleeve and one needed scissors. I cut out the X’s that I’d carefully sewed in, I’d only done half of one sleeve and I couldn’t face another sleeve and a half. I’ve put the button tin in a new place and when I hunt it down I’ll add the three buttons that this needs. This is a free pattern but it’s in Norwegian. I went my own way when it came to the neckline because it was easier to make it up than translate it. I wouldn’t knit it again because there were more ends than I cared for. I should have thought about that when I saw the stripes but I managed to overlook it until making up time.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned on the blog that back when it was cold and grim I adapted my soft and lovely handspun gloves for use with a smartphone. It took all of five minutes, a needle and a length of conductive thread. If I was knitting them now I’d hold the thread with the yarn and knit the two together, the thread is soft and supple and I don’t think that it would affect the fabric. As this was a retrofit I just did a bit of stitching on my index finger and thumb in what seemed to be the right places. It works perfectly and I’m really pleased with it. It just happens that the thread was a close match to the yarn, I got lucky there as it meant that I didn’t need to be particularly neat with the stitching.

There is more but I’m staying with this month’s motto of “finished is better than perfect”. Hopefully I’ll catch up with the rest next time.





Far too much XXX

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sweaters on January 13th, 2016

Christmas was fine despite my misgivings. My to do list of essentials filled the sheet of paper but with a little delegation it all got done. It appears that wiping down the skirting boards and vacuuming under the furniture are not essential Christmas jobs after all. The tree is down, the spinning wheel is back up and I’m starting to work my way through the pile of miscellaneous wool that I tidied off the floor before Christmas. I did what I think of as an “emergency tidy” in the spare bedroom which is where I pick up everything and stuff it in a bag to deal with later. The bits of wool ended up filling a pillowcase and it was the first place that I went to when I decided that the dog needed a new blanket. The one I made in 2009 has developed a few holes where he’s clawed it in his rush to jump on to the back of the settee and defend the household against passing dogs/cats/delivery drivers. I could mend it but it’s had a five year run and I can make the replacement the length that I intended last time (I came up short on one of the panels so the whole thing ended up 4″ shorter than I wanted). I’ve split the wool into two piles because it looks like the makings of two blankets, a brown and green one for me and a red and brown one for someone else. The red pile is the photo on the right, it’s not red yet but dye will fix that.

You might expect that after nearly a month I’d have one of those two baby jackets finished by now but instead of finishing one of them I cast on for a third. I have a rational explanation other than the fairly obvious one that I like knitting and am not overly taken with making up. The first little sweater was knitted as a tube and needs to be cut down the sides and front, which means I need to get out the sewing machine to reinforce the cut edges. The second little sweater needs a lot of hand sewing and I have to have decent light to do it. If I started a third sweater that would also need machine sewing then it would be worth getting the machine out because then I’d have two sweaters to sew. I’d also have some knitting to be doing while I was plodding through the hand sewing. If you look at it in that way it seems perfectly reasonable and not at all a case of startitis. I should add that I am not enjoying sewing X’s onto my knitting and I am very sure that I won’t be making another of these.

Sweater three, which is a cardigan, is black sock yarn paired with the yarn I spun in October. At the time I spun it I intended it for a baby sweater which is why I split it into a skein for the body and two smaller skeins for the sleeves. I made the colour runs shorter in the smaller skeins because sleeves are narrower than bodies and I was hoping to get stripes of similar thicknesses. I’m happy with how the stripes have turned out because the ones in the sleeves are pleasingly narrow. It appears that 50g of coloured yarn is not enough for the body but I think that’s okay because 25g is too much for a sleeve. The body is now on hold until I’ve knitted both sleeves then the leftover yarn from the sleeves will (hopefully) be enough to finish the body.


One foot in front of the other

Posted by Caroline in Family, Knitting, sweaters on December 15th, 2015

It was a stroke of genius telling the blog where I’d stashed the new tree skirt because there was no way that I would ever have tracked it down to the top shelf of the airing cupboard. As it was I only found it after the tree was up and I didn’t fancy pulling the tree forward two inches so that the tree shirt would lay flat to the wall. We have had a tree collapse once and it wasn’t a pretty sight. I folded under one of the points and it’s good, far less risky than trying to move a fully decorated tree. It has no fastening and that’s good too, I’ll work out what I think it needs before I put it away after Christmas. It is exactly the size it needs to be, it looked enormous when I made it and I was convinced that I’d miscalculated somewhere but once it had the tree for scale it became magically the right size.

Usually at this time of the year I have a long list of things that I have to do and my aim each day is to make it shorter. This year I’m so behind that I don’t even have a list and I thought that it was pointless to start one now because there would be too much to do in the ten days I have left. Then I remembered that we need party crackers and cranberry sauce. There’s a difference between prioritisation and randomly doing stuff so the list needs to happen despite my misgivings about what it’s going to show me. The tree is up, the turkey is ordered, some presents are wrapped, it will all be fine. The reason that I’m so far behind is because of the impact of Dan’s music exam. That has been my focus for the last two months, ferrying him around to music lessons and the sessions with the accompanist, checking that he’d complied with the exam board’s regulations (especially the ones on photocopying music), timing the programme, checking the syllabus again and writing excusal notes to school. When it was all over and I could finally stop having nightmares over sheet music I found that the first week of December had already gone and by the time we’d done with school concerts half of the second week had followed it. This will be the Christmas where I do less, there’s no way I can be a week and a half behind and catch up at this stage of the game and it’s got to come down to priorities. The world won’t end because I didn’t hire a carpet cleaner, Santa will not be pulling out the furniture to see if I vacuumed behind it and if he did he would be invited to consider which was more important, dusty skirting boards or DipLCM after my son’s name. He’s had the results, the pass mark is 75% and he clocked up 96% so that was an early Christmas present for us all with the bonus being that I don’t have to wrap it.

This is another reason why I’m behind. I’ve spent hours researching fridges, comparing energy efficiency, quietness, shelf configuration, net volume and whether it would fit in the same space as the current one. I put a day aside to wait it for it to be delivered and I’ve subsequently spent over two hours listening to hold music in an attempt to get it collected. My extensively researched perfect fridge is damaged and it’s got to go back. I’ve ordered from company A and they’ve had it despatched directly from the manufacturer. In my dreams I talk to A and they collect it but what is supposed to happen is that I talk to A, they talk to the manufacturer and then the manufacturer talks to me to arrange collection of the damaged fridge and delivery of the replacement. The reality is that I try to talk to A, spend half an hour on hold then they talk to the manufacturer and nothing happens. Repeat from start. Three times. I’m fairly sure that what will be happening next is that instead of having a replacement I take a full refund and go somewhere with better customer service to buy a fridge from a different manufacturer. In the meantime I’m on day five with a island configuration that is just not working for me, it’s too tall and has no storage potential.

In the period before the exam I was too stressed to knit but I’m back with it now. I decided to knit the sleeves flat rather than in the round so that I could make both together and avoid messing up the stripe sequence. I can still misread the pattern but as both sleeves will be the same it won’t matter. There are no elephants on the sleeve, it’s stripes all the way up and as I’m knitting both at once if I run out of yarn it won’t be a problem. The real challenge is that I can’t see the difference between the grey and the green at night but because I’m working from both ends of the same ball I know that I will be consistent even if I’m not right. If you try hard you can ignore all those ends, that’s what I’m trying to do at the moment.

With all I have to do it’s unlikely that I’ll be posting again this side of the big day so I’ll get in early and wish you all the very best of the season. That’s what we’ll be having (I hope), just the best bits with the non-essentials skipped for this year.



Hat season

Posted by Caroline in hats, Knitting, sweaters on November 30th, 2015

I’m not at all convinced that this will be the final colour of the hats, I’m tempted to dye them with a small amount of navy to reduce the contrast and make the turquoise less attention seeking. I have one more bobbin to ply which will make another hat and then that will see the end of this batch of fibre. There is a small amount of yarn left over from each hat but I don’t think that combining the leftovers will give me enough for another one. The first one was boring, the second was not that bad and then after that I got into the swing of casting on eight stitches on to double pointed needles. It’s a good thing that there was only 400g of wool to start with because otherwise I could have been going on with these all winter.

The baby sweater is cast off but not finished, it’s a twelve month size and the baby is currently less than two months old so I have plenty of time. The first part of finishing is making the sleeves match, at the start of the first sleeve (on the left) I strayed from the pattern and if I’d replicated it on the second sleeve I could have got away with calling it a design feature. On the second sleeve I copied the pattern from the body rather than from the first sleeve so now I have one sleeve that has a purple row at the top of the band and one that doesn’t. I could just leave it, I keep telling myself that it doesn’t matter. If I didn’t know that I could fix it then I might leave it but I know that I could make it right in under fifteen minutes. I’ve already spent more time than that trying to convince myself to leave it alone, at some point I’ll make a cup of tea, find an appropriate needle and get down to a spot of grafting.

It was a fun little knit so I cast on for another small sweater. This one doesn’t involve any cutting of armholes, it’s knitted in the round up to the sleeves and then divided for the front and back. It was the elephants that drew me to it, they would have been better in a solid grey but I’m all about using up leftover sock yarn so variegated elephants were the order of the day. This uses the leftovers from the last sweater together with some oddments from the bag of sock yarn leftovers. I’m knitting the small size because I know someone with a new baby. The idea is that they get the elephants now and the bigger sweater later.

The blog silence is down to me being very busy at the moment. Sixth form visits were followed by application forms and now interviews. Junior has a music exam coming up and mock GCSEs on the horizon and the result is that I’m putting in extra hours as a taxi service and tutor. Rumour has it that Christmas is just around the corner but I think this is a scare story designed to put the wind up those of us who are working flat out on other things.



Send more day light

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Spinning, sweaters on November 5th, 2015

Time got away from me there, I’ve been spending more time than usual on parenting duty as it’s the time of year for viewing sixth forms. So far we’re up to three visits, with one school kicked out sight unseen and one more visit to go. In the time that slipped away since my last post I spun, plied, soaked, dried and knitted up the superwash and nylon fibre that I was spinning last time. It made a pair of socks with a little bit left over. They were a good match for the pumpkins, I went for a minimalist effort this year which I liked but have no record of. For the second pair of socks I picked out a ball of Opal which I thought would match the leftovers from the first pair. In my defence I would say that I made the selection under artificial light because in daylight you can see that they have very little in common.

I gritted my teeth and plodded through the shoulders of the baby jacket, I didn’t enjoy it and there was a considerable amount of ripping back to correct wrong side mistakes. I didn’t like knitting the sleeve either, it’s my own fault because I should have more sense than to be knitting black in November. You can see that the sleeve increases start off in a black section of pattern and that was my problem. The increases should be every five rounds but I couldn’t work out how many rounds I’d knitted because I couldn’t see where I’d made the previous increase. Once I’d got far enough along so that the increases fell in the light yarn it was altogether more of a pleasant knit. I’ve started the second sleeve while the pattern is still fresh in my mind and I know that I just have to stick with it through the difficult part. I’ve found what I want to knit next so I have plenty of motivation to get me through the first few inches.

I have been tidying up, I have 400g of this wool and I decided that it has hung around for long enough and it is time for it to move along. It’s going to be hats unless I think of something else before I finish spinning it, I’m only on the second braid so there’s plenty of time yet. There might even be enough time for a better photo, daylight permitting.