Friday, 13 November 2009

Oh...fickle knitter

No sooner have I blogged about my obsession with a new Ysolda pattern, than another one arrives and now I want to knit that one as well.

The Scroll Lace Scarf/shawlette looks really beautiful and, at just 1 skein of sport/sock weight is much more achievable given my 'no new yarn until Christmas' vow.

Strangely enough, I didn't like the look of this shawl at all when it was featured in Yarn Forward. It may have been the colour it was knit in or the way it was styled, but I love the way people have pictured it in Ravelry - being wrapped around the neck like a scarf, rather than draped across the shoulders - shawl style.

Still, I have my finished shawl to gloat over and I'm desperately trying to keep startitis at bay - for the time being anyway!

Thursday, 5 November 2009


What is it about some knits that make us want to drop everything and cast on immediately?

My Christmas sock knitting is pretty boring (and that might have something to do with it) but ever since Ysolda's latest pattern from Whimsical Little Knits 2, hit my inbox I've been obsessed with casting on for it.

The Peaks Island Hood is an ingenious scarf/hood which can be worn a number of ways and features a couple of cute buttons too - ticks all the boxes so far. The only problem is that is calls for a particular type of worsted weight mohair/wool yarn and I don't have anything remotely suitable in my stash. I have plenty of aran weight yarn but it is all quite heavy and smooth - nothing that will give me that lovely fuzzy halo effect.

I have some NDS Caress Aran but sadly, nowhere near enough yardage, and I've learnt my lesson on that one.

Due to my recent stash buying excesses there's no way I can justify buying more yarn, especially this close to Christmas. Not sure that my boys would admire my yarn stash under the Christmas tree instead of eagerly anticipated presents.

No amount of stash searching will yield the required amount of aran-weight yarn so I shall have to give up and get back to my sock knitting - must resist - must resist...

Saturday, 31 October 2009


I finished my 'October' pair of socks, with a day to spare, ready to add to the Christmas pile. One down, three more pairs to go.

I was very pleased with the Norfolk Ramblers in the end, although I abandoned the heel flap stated in the pattern and did my own usual 'eye of partridge' simply because I was on holiday at the time and not in the mood to learn anything new.

Hopefully my mother-in-law will like them, and I'll earn some brownie points!

Next pair of socks on the needles claim to produce a pair of mens socks which fit like a glove. Quite a claim, and so I'm determined to try them our for my father-in-law who loves handknit socks but is quite particular about the fit.

It wasn't until I'd downloaded the pattern, found the yarn and cast on for the Oliver socks,
that I read the pattern properly (forward planning was never my strong suit) and realised that these toe-down socks start with 8 inches of ribbing....eeek!

Still, I will persist in my strategy of doing 1 inch of a Christmas sock first, followed by some fun knitting for me. Onwards and upwards.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


Motivation for Christmas knitting is distinctly lacking I'm afraid. What is it about human nature that can turn an enjoyable knitting project into something that you avoid at all costs, just because you have labelled it a 'Christmas knit' and given it a deadline?

It's the same pair of socks as it was before. It's a pattern I quite like (not too boring, not too fancy) - Norfolk Ramblers; the yarn is a good dark shade of green and it should be progressing nicely.

Except that I find myself wanting to work on anything else, other than 'the christmas socks'. It doesn't help that I was desperate to cast on with the lovely Noro Kochoran which I bought recently.

I spent an indecent amount of time on Ravelry deciding how best to put this lovely yarn to good use, before deciding to cast on for a simple shawl and just accept that I may have to order an extra skein, if it comes up too small to be useful. The yarn is beautiful and the colours really remind me of my recent Lake District holiday. There is a lovely rusty-brown colour, reminiscent of bracken, merged with a smoky, cloudy grey lovely natural creamy-browns which keep reminding me of the smiley faces of Herdwick sheep.

The pattern is adapted from La-La's simple shawl and it's one of those very addictive knits you just don't want to put down.

So, for the moment I am compromising. My rule is that I must sit down and knit at least 1 pattern repeat of the socks before I can work on the shawl. So far so good...

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Back to business

Is there anything more depressing than returning to the old routine after a really relaxing holiday? There's nothing wrong with our house, our village or our life, but it is just in the wrong place - about 300 miles too far south to be precise.

Even my knitting is feeling a little dull, with the long slog through several pairs of Christmas socks starting to feel more like a marathon than a sprint.

Never mind - I sought consolation in some lovely Noro Kochoran bought from the incomparable Beckside Yarns, near Settle on the outskirts of the Lake District.

Now, I'm no stranger to the inside of a yarn shop, but this place took my breath away. I had no idea that there was so much Noro in existance, not to mention the full range of beautiful Araucania yarns and many, many others.

My OH took the boys to feed the ducks for 10mins but this barely gave me time to catch my breath (being somewhat overcome by yarn fumes). So in the end I made a couple of impulse purchasing decisions and left, promising myself another visit just as soon as I can manage it.

There was some Regia sock yarn as well, but this is half-way through becoming a pair of socks and is in the car at present.

Anyway, should you find yourself passing J36 of the M6 it is definitely worth a visit - just persuade your other half to look the other way :)

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Holiday hiatus

Apologies for the temporary lapse in transmission - I've just returned from a short holiday in England's beautiful Lake District.
Had a wonderful time (as relaxing as it can be with two small boys), saw lots of sheep, did some knitting...

... and found the most amazing yarn shop. Yes...really.

Stay tuned - will post all the details of my stash enhancement just as soon as I emerge from a huge laundry mountain and find where I put the camera

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

10 Balls of yarn…

…does not a sweater make!


Again, I have failed to engage brain when planning and starting a project. I seem to have this automatic assumption that 10 balls of yarn is enough (always) to make a sweater to fit my standard UK size 10 frame. So when I spotted a 10-ball pack of RYC Cashsoft aran going for a song on ebay, I snapped it up. I merrily cast on for the lovely Vine Yoke and knitted happily away. I have done the right front, right sleeve and proceeded happily around the back. Just about to start on the next sleeve I reach into my knitting bag for the next ball and …horrors…only 2 balls left!

At first I tried to accuse the cat of some yarn-pilferage (and we have also had some pretty huge spiders around, whom I was willing to consider as culprits) but then I had to face facts and realise that it's my own daft fault.

Reluctantly I checked the yardage on the pattern (some would say I should have done this some time ago) and sure enough – I am 2 balls short.

So, more yarn is on the way. Not a disaster but more of a 'duh' moment. I'd like to say that I'll learn from my mistakes…well maybe…

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Keep it simple

For reasons that I can't imagine I have never knit a simple, plain sock...never. With my first sock I did a simple 2x2 rib as I was worried it wouldn't fit my foot and wanted to allow for plenty of stretch.

But this time (many pairs of socks later) my sister said she wanted some multi-coloured striped ones, and with some Regia sock yarn in my stash I was happy to oblige. But try as a I might, I couldn't find a simple stitch pattern that worked with such broad stripes - so a simple knit sock seemed to fit the bill.

Despite my misgivings that it would be the height of boredom it is actually quite soothing. The sock equivalent of the ubiqutious garter stitch blanket I suppose. maybe this will be the first of many...

Friday, 18 September 2009

The wonders of the Vine Yoke

I am currently working on my Vine Yoke cardigan from the wonderful Ysolda, after the long-awaited corrections have now been published.

All I can say is that no wonder the corrections took a while to come through - the maths involved in this wonderfully 3-D sweater are mind boggling. And I'm just glad that it wasn't my mind that had to get to grips with it. Heaven knows, I can barely figure out which angle to photograph it from!

It is a really interesting construction - knitted sideways in garter stitch with lots of short row shaping at the yoke. It is quite a challenge for me but (dare I say it) so far, so good. I am knitting it in some lovely RYC Cashsoft Aran which is lovely and squishy - I just hope that it grows a little in length with blocking (according to the pattern it should) as, at the moment it looks a bit on the short and squat side.

Still, it is enjoyable knitting all the same.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Soft, soft, soft

I have been in alapca heaven this week, knitting little cabled armwarmers as a gift for my sister.

They are made from yarn I bought from the Toft Alpaca stall at I-Knit and I can't praise the yarn highly enough. In the words of the advert - "I can't believe it's not butter". It is so soft and buttery and yummy - quite amazing.

The pattern came free with the yarn and there is easily enough left for another (slightly shorter) pair or a beanie.

I haven't knitted with 100% alpaca before and I am definitely a convert. Now I find myself coveting the Toft Alpaca website where they have a beautiful sweater kit - but after my spend at I-Kint I can't quite justify buying yet more yarn....can I?

Maybe I should put it on my Christmas list.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

I-Knit: retail therapy

Just the thing to boost a knitters flagging spirits. My first trip to a fibre festival was good fun and yielded a modest haul - I was quite restrained I think but managed to still bring home some goodies.

The skeins on the right are sock yarns from the Wonderful Skein Queen and the ones on the left are aran weight skeins from the Natural Dye Studio which I hope to make into a hat/armwarmers for me this winter.

I also treated myself to two kits from Toft Alpaca - one to make armwarmers and one to make a hat - both as gifts. I hadn't seen this yarn in person before and fell in love with all the natural colourways - somehow I think I'll be back for more.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Will I ever learn?

Will I ever learn?....To put in a lifeline when working lace.

The short answer: probably not.

Why do we never listen to our inner voice? I am working on a secret project for a swap on the Phoenix knitting forum. I won't post details about the actual project just in case my swappee should comes across the site but I just had to get this off my chest.

The project is a simple lace one, nothing too complicated and lovely relaxing TV knitting. All was going swimmingly and I was well over halfway through. I paused in my knitting and spread it out to admire it, as you do.

"You should really put in a lifeline" piped up my little inner voice

"No need" I answered "It's an easy pattern"

"But it will only take 5 minutes" - the inner voice was starting to annoy me

"I don't have time, and anyway I'm not going to make a mistake" I replied

My inner voice knew when it was beaten and went off for a cup of tea, but has now returned triumphant as I have realised I made a mistake several rows down in the pattern.

My misguided attempt to botch a solution failed and so I ripped back a few rows to correct it. That still didn't work as my yarn-overs failed to match up - hands up who can see where this is going?

Yep - a frenzied ripping solution was the result and I am now the proud owner of ... a ball of yarn.

To give it credit, my inner voice hasn't said "I told you so" - yet.

Monday, 7 September 2009

10 Reasons to knit a baby blanket

Life has seriously got in the way of knitting recently, and all I have felt able to manage has been the simple striped baby blanket I've been working on - nicknamed Munchkin.

The good news is that it is almost finished - and just needs a border added. I'll probably do a knitted-on i-cord but am currently being indecisive. Or maybe I'll do a little matching hat first - Hmmm- decisions...decisions....

10 Reasons to knit a baby blanket:

1. No need to worry about fit or size
2. It acts as a huge gauge swatch - ready for making cute matching items such as hats/booties
3. Regardless of parental style/preferences - almost everyone will find a use for a baby blanket
4. Likely to be used for a long time
5. Simple to knit but can be made as complicated as you like
6. Takes time to knit - this can be a good thing - quick knits aren't always the way to go
7. You can whip up a matching hat for extra pram-style
8. The baby won't grow out of it before you get a chance to wrap and deliver your gift
9. You can experiment with new yarn, stitch patterns etc
10. ...I'm sure I'll think of more later

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Gauge issues

So much for my cunning plan with regard to sock knitting. I remember now why I have been on a bit of a sock hiatus. Most of the yarn in my stash is a little thicker or thinner than usual and won't work with my usual 2.5mm Addi Turbos. I am hopelessly devoted to my Addi's and can't even contemplate knitting with DPNs or with magic loop - I usually just use a 30cm Addi and work around and around. Even I can manage that.

But - disaster....

The Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport is not a true sock weight, but a 'sport' weight and so really needs a 3mm needle, which of course, I don't have.

Still, I carried on and have worked most of the first sock on 2.5mm needles (firmly putting the voice of reason in the cupboard under the stairs). Then I have taken a close look at and realised the inevitable - it doesn't work with that particular gauge.

In fact, the combination of slightly thicker yarn, slightly too small needles and the Rib Fantastic pattern have conspired to make a sock so firm it can stand up by itself. I have created 'Socks of Steel'.

I could do the mature, rational thing and calmly frog it and order some larger needles. Or I could cast on with something else from my stash in a different pattern and leave the original sock in a heap at the bottom of my knitting bag - three guesses which I did :)

On a brighter note, the Gathered Pullover is done. Well it needs seaming obviously, but in my book that counts as done.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Too soon...?

Is it too soon to think about starting to knit Christmas presents? Am I turning into my mother? The next thing you know I'll be buying my Christmas cards in the January sale and hiding them in the airing cupboard.

If it is too soon, I apologise and please feel free to gloss over the next few lines.

A few days off work have seen me make satisfactory progress on most of my projects, although the (few) days of hot weather have made me think twice about wrestling with the Gathered Pullover. Rowan Felted Tweed is gorgeous (as I think I may have mentioned once or twice) but it is hot and hairy in the current climate.

So I got to thinking about socks as unusually I didn't have a pair OTN...and then I got to thinking about the various relatives who have expressed an interest in receiving a hand-knit pair... and then...inevitably..I got to thinking about Christmas (sorry).

So I had a mammoth session of Ravelry browsing and stash diving, and emerged several hours later and slightly dishevelled with a (sort of) list of socks to knit. And all from stash yarn - so full marks on the virtuous front.

In no particular order we have:

1. Rib Fantastic socks in Lorna's Laces Shepherd sock (Sister)
2. Inside-out socks in some recently acquired Malabrigo sock (Mum)
3. Plain rib socks in Trekking XXL (Dad and Dad-in-law)
4. Socks of my own creation for ever-loving OH in Lang wool/silk

Then it dawned on me, that I am not the world's fastest sock knitter, and that unless I was planning to employ a team of house-elves I had better get some sock knitting done. I suspect all that plain boring 'man-rib' knitting might start to wear after a while so I'll need to have a couple of things on the go at once to avoid madness.

So, too soon for Christmas sock knitting...? Never!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

A few of my favourite things

Bliss - a few toddler-free hours in which to relax, put my feet up, think calming thoughts and work on the never-ending LGP:

Excuse the Tunnocks chocolate biscuit... I needed a sugar hit.

I've been trying to be very good and work on my current projects, but the new Fall edition of the Twist Collective hit my inbox this week and there are some beautiful patterns in there just crying out to be cast on - check this out if you don't believe me...

I must be an Ysolda junkie, because the first thing that jumped out at me was the Vine Yoke cardigan - and even worse - I have some pale green Rowan Cashsoft aran in my stash that I think would substitute pretty well. I gave in to temptation and bought the pattern, but I won't cast on for it until I have finished the Gathered Pullover - although swatching doesn't count :)

To distract myself I have been also mostly playing with stripes:

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Zen and the art of stocking stitch

The Gathered Pullover is gathering pace I am pleased to report. Sometimes the thought of endless stocking stitch knit in the round is enough to send me cowering behind the sofa - at other times it's exactly the sort of project I need.

I think it is a combination of the beautiful Rowan Felted Tweed - the love affair continues with this yarn, and the simplicity of the pattern which means that this is the first knitting project I reach for whenever I get a chance to sit down.

I have just finished the centre cable section - just enough to keep my interest going and now I'm just working my way up to the neck divide.

I really hope that I love the finished product, as much as I love the WIP.

Since I started knitting I've always considered myself to be a process knitter rather than a product knitter, and some of my early projects were, to be fair, pretty dire. Some of them were sweaters for myself - I don't know why but in my early pre-Ravelry days I assumed that if I were going to knit something then it had to be a sweater. Needless to say that I rarely wear them, one has been frogged and one has been felted (on purpose) to be used for something else. I'm sorry to say that I also inflicted several sorry handknits on my closest relatives, none of whom complained, but I'm sure those items are quietly stashed in a drawer somewhere or made their way to the nearest charity shop.

Now that I am approaching my two-year knitting anniversary, I find myself being a lot more critical of the items I knit and and also who I give them to...

Something to bear in mind when compiling my Christmas knitting list this year.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Knitting voyerism

Due to a combination of hectic work-life and much travelling my knitting record this week is rather dismal, compounded by the fact that OH has purloined the camera for work use and it is now languishing somewhere in his office.

I normally jump at the chance for work-related travel as it is usually by train (and therefore leads to a great opportunity for uninterrupted knitting). However, this week much of it has been driving up and down various motorways, and not even the most dedicated multi-tasker can tackle knitting and the M6 simultaneously. I did manage some sneaky sock knitting in a traffic jam though (my engine was definitely switched off, officer...)

This enforced lack of knitting has meant that during my few leisure moments I have been delving into the black hole that is Ravelry - being too tired and stressed to pick up the needles but still craving my knitting-fix. Quite where the time goes while I'm browsing the Ravelry pages I have no idea, but I could probably have made substantial progress on my current sock project during these 'I have no time to knit...' moments.

All this browsing has a double-whammy effect, as I now have many more projects added to my queue, and less time in which to work on them.

I liken the effect Ravelry has on me, to another of my habits, namely that of peering through the windows of other houses at night, when the occupants haven't drawn their curtains. It drives OH mad, but for some reason I am genuinely interested in some complete strangers living room decor. Ravelry is the same - all those WIPs and FOs neatly displayed for me to browse at my leisure.

Also OH can't take me by the hand and drag me away muttering something about 'being arrested...'

Monday, 3 August 2009

Facing up to frogging

It had all been going so well...
I spoke briefly of Liesl a few posts ago and I was trying to get it finished ready for a family party. It really was one of the fastest knits that I have done recently, and I think that therein lies the problem.
Problem #1: I didn't have a 7mm circular needle. But I had a 6.5mm one - near enough...
Problem #2: I didn't do a gauge swatch - why break the habit of a lifetime?
Problem #3: When I started to think "Hmmm, this might be a little bit small", I didn't stop to slip it on to waste yarn and try it on.
Problem #4: When I started to think "Never mind, I can always block it to be a little larger", I forgot that there isn't much give in Manos silk blend.

The outcome is of course, a too tight bolero jacket which could only be worn for short periods without risking the loss of circulation to my arms. To make matters worse, even though I love the yarn, love the pattern and love the stitch pattern, when I was wearing the finished item it just kept shouting BEDJACKET to me.

What can I say, it just wasn't me. Even if I did re-knit it in a larger size I just don't feel the love for it anymore. Ive seen some lovely examples on Ravelry which are just beautiful but I'm just not happy with mine.
So it has been unceremoniously frogged and the Manos is sitting awaiting another project.

In the meantime I cast on for the Gathered Pullover from Interweave Knits, using some bargain Rowan felted tweed in Bilberry (lovely heathery purple colour) that I scored from ebay. Ive never used felted tweed before and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. It is much softer than I thought it would be and it works up into a beautiful light fabric. Very nice... and it makes the 8" of stocking stitch before the cable section starts easier to bear.

The Posy crochet project is plodding on. I do love it but find that crochet isn't nearly as relaxing as knitting. It is fun, interesting and absorbing but it doesn't relax and sooth my mind as much as knitting. When I crave some quiet time with just me and some yarn, I reach for my knitting needles every time!

Friday, 31 July 2009

Home sweet home

After a few days away for a family get-together it is lovely to come back home, even if we are surrounded by the special kind of mess that only two toddlers can create. The trip was a good break but made all the better by a trip to the most amazing LYS I have ever set foot in: Get Knitted, near Bristol is a knitters dream (and my OH's nightmare). With the aid of a female relative (who is a new knitter) we conspired to have a whole morning to ourselves to devote to yarn shopping and boy, did we have fun.

I was comparatively restrained you will be pleased to hear - mainly because in the pre-travelling rush I had managed to leave my handbag behind and had to borrow some money from OH. "How much would you like?" he says, opening his wallet. I was too embarassed to say how much I would really like to spend there, so I settled for a fairly modest £30 and even that made him blink!

Anyway, most of the fun was in the yarn stroking and getting the chance to examine at close quarters some yarns that I'd heard of but never seen - Koigu KPPM, Cascade 220, Fyberspates and Malabrigo to name just a few of the delights.

After much (much) deliberation I settled on two skeins of Blue Sky alapaca/silk and a wonderful skein of Malabrigo sock yarn

As far as my projects go, busy family gatherings weren't really conducive to much knitting, but I did start a garter stitch log cabin blanket for DS1 - hereby christened the everlasting LGP (log cabin project) because I think it is going to take from now until eternity to finish. On the plus side though, it will be something I can pick up and post down whilst DS1 and DS2 play - rather than resorting to something boring like housework - heaven forbid!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

The C word

It's all about the crochet today - apologies to those of you hoping to read about knitting. All this listing of WIPs and stash sorting got rather depressing I'm afraid, and I wasn't in the mood to be sensible. This is supposed to be a fun hobby and I'm sure at some point I'll get all organised with my WIPs - just not today.

This sudden playfullness I can blame (at least in part) on the safe arrival of my mini-skeins of sock yarn from NDS. They are just gorgeous and I couldn't resist setting them all out on the floor and playing with them for a while.

In fact, they were so appealing, DS2 tried to snaffle some away:

It seemed a shame to unwind all the little skeins and turn them into balls but it was a strangely soothing way to spend an hour - whilst watching DS1 and DS2 play quietly together for a change (must have been the yarn fumes - as the Yarn Harlot would say).

Then, after they had gone to bed I sat down with the Posy CAL pattern again, and somehow this time it just 'clicked'.

Now, rather than looking strange and lumpy, my motifs look like the ones that others have made - yay!! Admittedly, it did help when I took a closer look at the pattern and realised that they should be 6-sided and not 5-sided.

Note to self: must read pattern properly, must read pattern properly...

Anyway, I really like the way this is progressing now. Not sure what it will be yet - I'm thinking along the lines of a scarf/stole type of thing, but we will see how far the yarn goes

Monday, 20 July 2009

Counting WIPs

I seem to veer from one extreme to another with my knitting. One minute, I seem to have loads of projects on the go, and then the next time I look they have dwindled away until I find myself at serious risk of having nothing OTN - horrors!

Then I get into an endless loop on Ravelry of browsing patterns, stalking patterns as made by others and trying to match them up with yarns already in my stash. It usually results in confusion and more stash enhancement to make something that I don't have the right yarn for already.

Must do better...

Step one is to list my WIPs:
1. Posy - crochet project. Currently stalled awaiting delivery of yummy mini-skeins from NDS. Yes I know that have loads of leftover sock yarn already but they were too good to resist.

2. Liesl - in gorgeous Manos silk blend. It's amazing how far two skeins stretches with this pattern. More on this later but it is such a quick knit that there can't be more than an hours knitting left in it - perhaps a good job as I need to wear it to a wedding this weekend.

3. Socks - as yet unspecified, but probably one of the patterns from Cookie A's Sock Innovations.

Maybe I should check my upstairs cupboard - Oh dear - there appear to be a few half-forgotten WIPs in there too:

4. Vivien hoodie - hmmmmm. Shoved away in a fit of temper after I completed the mammoth yoke and shoulder saddle rows only to find that due to a slight mis-calculation the hood was aligned somewhere over my right shoulder.

5. Boxleaf wrap - this is one of those patterns which you do in two halves and then graft them together. I steamed through the first half, cast off and guessed it moved on to something else. No excuse for this one, except lack of staying power.

OK - so technically I have 5 WIPs but none will satisfy my requirement for some low-concentration holiday knitting.

Step Two is to check the stash - but I need a coffee first - before I'm distracted by this lovely lot that arrived today (project unspecified - oops).

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Moving swiftly on...

The final section of my Hap blanket positively flew off the needles and is now firmly in use over my knees. Severely tempted to knit another one as my two toddlers keep fighting over it, but I must resist and knit something else, otherwise this blog might get a little tedious.

Now that things have calmed down on the work front I feel as though a little fug has been lifted from my brain and so last night I sat down to learn something new - crochet. (You might want to sit down with a cup of tea to recover if you are a die-hard knitter)

I've long been a fan of the Natural Dye Studio and the amazing colours they achieve in their yarns using natural plant dyes and they have a range of both knitting and crochet patterns as well as an active ravelry group. For some reason their latest crochet-a-long project really captured my imagination and I decided to have a play with some yarn and a few online tutorials and see what I managed to come up with.

The project is based on a small repeating motif - Posy which can then be joined together to make a scarf/shawl/wrap/blanket depending on your skill, patience (or size of stash). I think part of the fun will be seeing what the other CAL'ers come up with.

The added advantage is that this project might even deplete some of my sock yarn stash - which is starting to take over the spare room cupboard to the extent that my OH might even notice it soon.

My first few motifs were slightly oddly-shaped but I think my tension is slowly improving and they are looking generally tighter and more star/flower-shaped. They are very quick to do though and I was up late last night having given in to the temptation of 'just one more...'

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Hap Hap Happy

I am pleased to report that my knitting mojo has returned (after several more dishcloths) and I was finally able to get on with my second Hap Blanket. Apparently I was completely unable to count to 61 whilst picking up the stitches for each side of the border. Although it may not have been entirely down to my poor brain. There are a couple of yarn overs in the pattern right next to the corner markers and it is quite easy for the marker to slip to the wrong side of the yarn over - giving you 1 stitch extra on one side (and 1 stitch less on the other).

Still I got there in the end and whizzed through the feather and fan pattern pretty quickly. Hopefully will be able to cast-off tonight and get it blocked tomorrow. It's difficult to photograph at the minute as it's all squished up on the needles. OH asked if I was knitting a shopping bag :)

I'm still intrigued by the Shetland Shawls on ravelry and have found some lovely examples like this one.

I think I may have to track down a good source book, and then I'll need some Jamieson's 2ply to go with much for the stashbust...

Friday, 10 July 2009

Stress Management and other tales

Ever since thinking up a title for this blog I've been thinking about the use of knitting as a form of stress management and I've certainly had a chance to put it into practice over the last couple of weeks. A very stressful situation at work has had me reaching for the needles on a nightly basis as soon as the children have done 'bath&bed'. But no complicated projects for me, thank you very much. I've been obsessed with simple garter stitch projects (dishcloths mainly) that I've been cranking out at a frightening rate - how many dishcloths does a girl need? I've managed the odd simple sock project but feel unable to master the challenge of anything more complex.

I'm knitting a second Hap Blanket but am unable to progress beyond knitting the centre, garter stitch square. Every time I try to start the pattern repeat for the border everything goes pear-shaped (literally) and I have to go back to the dishcloths. It's as though my brain can only deal with so many things at once and after that it can't be held responsible for it's actions.

So, I've given up trying to fight it and am relaxing into more simple garter stitch projects for the time being. I'm currently reading Mason-Dixon Knitting and I love their approach to colour and style. I'm also very taken with a simple garter stitch shawl that I've seen others doing on Ravelry - Mara.

It's time to embrace simple knitting - either a garter stitch baby blanket or a shawl I think. And hopefully I will emerge on the other side, a slightly saner human being. Or if not, at least I'll have something snuggly to throw over my head and hide from the rest of the world :)

No knitting photos today - but a soothing photo of one of my favourite places ever...

Monday, 6 July 2009

Mission completed

Well, the socks are finished I am pleased to say. I can't believe that I got them made, blocked and in the post in the space of a week. The wonders of dk sock knitting - I may well be a convert.

As for other things on the needles - well in the current bout of hot weather even I have had to admit that knitting a lap blanket in Cashsoft Aran is not the best idea. It may well be a thing of beauty and the pattern, a work of genius but it is still too darn hot.

For a bit of light relief I dug out some Peaches & Creme from my stash and decided to do a few ballband dishcloths whilst watching the tennis.

I don't think I dropped too many stitches - although the mens final did turn out to be a bit of a nail-biter.

I recently bought the Mason-Dixon Knitting book and I have slowly been working my way through some of the patterns in there. I've knitted dishcloths before (yes, my OH does think I'm mad) but I'd never tried their ballband pattern before - think it may well be the first of many. The colours of Peaches & Creme are just so beautiful - my credit card is powerless to resist.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

We interupt this knitting to bring you an emergency sock....

I've had to set the blanket (and the continental knitting) to one side this week in favour of an emergency pair of socks. My MIL has a circulatory problem and has to go into hospital next week for some tests. Now there probably aren't many people in the middle of our UK heatwave who are craving a pair of thick woolly socks but she is one of them. And she is so appreciative of my handknit socks that it's hard to resist.

After all, it's nice when your knits to go to a good home where they will be looked after.

So, I dusted off some dk weight yarn (Patons Diploma) and the pattern for Thuja which I've been meaning to try for ages, and after two days I have this:

Not bad eh?

I have never knit socks with dk-weight before and I am feeling very pleased with myself at how quickly they are knitting up. They have reminded me though how much I dislike using DPNs. I usually use a 30cm 2.5mm Addi circular for socks and just slip them onto DPNs for the heel/toe but I didn't have a 30cm in the right size for this yarn (3.5mm if you are interested) and in the interests of speed I decided to crack on and use some Brittany birch DPNs.

There's nothing wrong with them you understand - they are smooth and pointy in all the right places - but DPNs are just plain fiddly and I can't be persuaded otherwise. Added to which my two pre-school sons keep finding all sorts of inventive uses for them when I (inevitably) leave them lying around.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

The joys of continental knitting

I've been wishing I could knit 'continental style' for some time now and after completing my recent Hap Blanket (pattern by the talented Ysolda Teague) I was finding that my usual 'throwing' action was giving me some shoulder pain. Because of my current infatuation with the lovely Hap I immediately cast on for another - on the principle that you can't have too much of a good thing. But then I found that my shoulder was really starting to hurt........eeeeek.

So I dug out an old link to a continental knitting tutorial and decided that, as this project basically starts with a large central garter stitch square it would be ideal to practice on. Whenever I have tried continental knitting before it hasn't gone well - lets just say that there were tension issues and leave it at that.

So I found this link and gave it a try, and amazingly everything seemed to fall into place this time. After a few awkward starts I was managing to keep the tension reasonably even. For me, the key seems to be to wrap the yarn around my little finger first, and then tension across my ring and index fingers. If I try and do it the way they often show you in tutorials - just using the ring and index fingers I can't keep a proper hold of the yarn and it all goes loose and floppy - not a good look.

So anyway - full steam ahead continental style...

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Current project

We are in the middle of a heatwave and I have a sudden urge to knit a blanket - wierd but never mind.

The pattern is Ysolda Teague's Hap Blanket and it was a great and really fast knit. So much so that I've had to cast on for another one... I know I should be catching up with the other things on my needles but this is so much fun.

Test post

Well - I guess I have to start somewhere and this can be my first test post - dipping a toe in the water so to speak.

I've been knitting for over a year now and find that knitting is a great way to preserve my sanity after a busy day chasing around after two even busier pre-schoolers. Well. it beats housework for fun and it's less damaging than a bottle of Pinot - although I have been known to mix the two with predictably dire consequences.