Tuesday, December 02, 2008

memory yarn

Mooncalf recently posted asking which of our handknits actually end up getting worn. It's a good question, and makes for a nice reminiscent post, so I thought I'd go for a trundle down memory yarn. I rarely get compliments on my handknits, and I take that as the biggest compliment of all: few people would ever guess...
Langora bolero

Brown langora bolero, from Rebecca. It wasn't as big a hit at first, but since I started wearing a series of dresses in autumnal colours to work, this gets worn all the time. ALL the time. It's cuddly and at the same time not too cardiganish, and I love it.

Rusted Root 2

Rusted Root. Looking slightly pill-y now: I suspect that's cashmerino for you. But still, a wardrobe staple, again hitting that boundary between cuddly and cosy on the one hand, and sharp and cool on the other. As time goes on I think it, like all handknits perhaps?, will become more cosy and less sharp, but I am still in love with the curves and the versatility of this one.

Bulky cables, redux

Bulky Cabled Cardigan. For those days when you just want to wrap yourself in warm tweed armoury and say pah! to the world. But in a stylish fitted way. The fashion mags keep claiming 'chunky knits are in!', and I look at those draped, sculpted piles of cables they have on high-end fashion shoots and think, I could make one of those! If I thought about it hard enough! And then I don't think, so this will have to do as my high-impact, high-texture Vogue Knit. It's not all that voguey, really.

Thermal and the Henley Imperfect have started to look like wardrobe classics, too. They have travelled to London and Dublin and been stroked and admired, and their slimness makes them perfect professional garments. Hooray.

Of course, knitting is always like this. I never have disasters. No no no.

Wickeljacke in Zyklam

I certainly didn't just bundle this one in a bag and send it straight to Oxfam without even trying to fix it, did I? Perish the thought!

Of course, the real classics are the socks. Which get worn day in, day out between September and March. Socks, solid wool socks: only one pair has died on me, the most of them are stalwart as ever. I'm not sure what I ever did without them.

Short Attention Span Knitting

So I finished the Noro yarn scarf, almost in my sleep, so simple and seductive was the lace:

It's short and has pretty colours and tucks nicely under a high-necked coat. But it still feels like paper to the touch.

And thus I was seduced into starting the balloon-sleeve top. This is going to be yet another of those kidsilk frivolities that gets started and never worn. I know it. But shh! I'm enjoying knitting with air and dreamy softness, and hopefully I can hang the resulting frivolity on the wall as art, even if I never end up wearing it. Judging from most Rowan publications, that's the most suitable fate for their garments...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

taking the edge off

Dark winter evenings. They really do bring the knitting muse on, don't they? Even the finishing muse. My Ravelry list still shows a shamefully long list of wips and zzzs, but nonetheless, I finished the Thermal. And last weekend, mouth full of fluffy parching angora, fingers finding yet another dangling strand to be woven in, I finally finished the Henley Perfected.

FO: Henley Perfected

The Victorian-style buttons are perfect. Unfortunately, there are only four of them, not six as there should be.

But I think leaving the collar open at the top is actually fine: buttoned up to the top might make it a little over-bosomy. And it's reasonably bosomy as it is. Not quite as bosomy as this photo might suggest, mind. I was going through all classes of contortions in front of the time delay setting of my camera, trying to strike a natural pose that would show precisely the right amount of jumper with the amount of drape on, when I remembered that, back when I was a-wooing my lady love, I sent her a dress form for her birthday, and that she now lives with us. So below I have included is a much better idea of what the jumper actually looks like on.

It's form-fitting but not over-tight at all. The yarn is a bit scratchy, but softened up with washing; the finishing was pernickety, but makes the jumper look professional. In short, this is another of those knits that really doesn't look handknit; that is so smooth and finished as to look unremarkable at work. And that may well be the highest compliment going.

Pattern: Henley Perfected, from Interweave Knits, Winter 2007, knitted in size S. This was a good idea, I think; I am obviously not an S (UK size 12, for anyone who's interested), but it's a fitted knit, and handknits always stretch.

Yarns: "Pekhorski" Russian angora/wool yarn, bought off eBay years and years ago. Well, three years ago.

Needles: 3 mm circs and 2.5 mm straights, slightly smaller than called for.

Time sucked: Half a non-monogamous year. A long time to be hanging around, but I lost patience again and again. I am a bad knitter.

Pattern modifications: Magically lengthened.

So now I have two fine-knit, form-fitting jumpers to wear to work, and I am very very pleased with myself.

You'd think, then, that I'd get back to the long-suffering Geno, wouldn't you? Or that Lush 'n' Lacy? You would. But sometimes, you just need to lash into a quick, simple knit, to take the edge off, as Knitting Neels once said on her blog. It's a phrase that makes a lot of sense to me. We all knit for different reasons; there are meticulous, careful project knitters, chunky-knitting product knitters, and, I suspect, quite a few knitters like me, overburdened with twitchy nervous energy, and not sure where else they'd discharge it. So projects where you have to concentrate are all very well, but sometimes you just need something to occupy your hands when you read...

FO: Vintage Raspberry Beret

Pattern: Vintage Beret, from Rowan 44

Yarns: DK lambswool bought on the cone from Kingcraigs Fabrics on ebay

Needles: 4 mm circs

Time sucked:
Twenty-four hours, tops

Warm, pink, finished. You'd think I'd be satisfied, right? Nah. You'd be wrong. The siren song of the Woodland Stole was calling, the attraction of mindless lace was too great, and I fell...

I rarely post about non-knitting content here, but I should finish by saying I too am still on a cloud from Tuesday's US election result, and am so, so thankful that Obama will be president in fewer than two month's time. Thank you so much, US citizens! I am on so much of a cloud, I actually went and bought Obama's memoir today, and am now speeding through it as I whisk up the lace from the Noro sock yarn. It's an extraordinary book; personal, cerebral, intense, and much to be recommended. (Unlike feckless startitis. Sshhh).

Monday, November 03, 2008

it's always the way...

It's always the way on this blog, isn't it? Months of hibernation, and then suddenly a flurry of posts, followed by silence. I am sorry! And I have so many things to show you, but I haven't got around to photographing them properly. So this is a catch-up and a confession:


It was wonderful going to the States in June. Wonderful... and jet-lagging. What happens when you get jet-lagged? You run around in a panic and forget essential things. Such as your beloved Kaffe Fassett toe-up socks. Clearly, this is no good, and a second pair must be knitted forthwith:

Plain toe-up heel-flap socks, 60 stitches, knitted to the very very end of the ball. I've tried fancier sock yarns, but for that perfect balance between softness and durability, Regia wins out every time. Holds its colour, holds its structure, is always comfortable and has really generous yardage. This is the Twilight colourway of the Kaffe Fassett lime, and I don't think I like it quite as much as the Earth, but oh well. Look how well it goes with my IKEA rug! That has to be the main thing, right?

The other great thing about going to the States, of course, was taking delivery of that amazing shipment of Knitpicks yarn. Mmm, Knitpicks. When will you start shipping to Europe and save our benighted continent from expensive yarns, eh? There's one for the presidential candidates to consider, I say. Forget the politics of oil and arms; it's the yarn trade that should be considered this election. (Or possibly not.) Anyway, finally, finally I got my hands on some Knitpicks Gloss in Parsley, and all summer I slogged away at a Thermal, size small.
And indeed, although the Rosy shrug was my official civilisation knit, I actually was knitting the Thermal on my civilisation day itself to help take the edge off the nerves, so it, too, partakes in the glitter of romance. It took a while. Quite a while. But once done, oh, it is possibly the most perfect knit ever, the first thing I've knit that really, really looks professionally made, goes with almost all of my outfits, always flatters. I wear it at least twice a week, and would do more if I could. We did a photo shoot yesterday, but as only one photo came out that did the Thermal justice, you'll have to wait till next week for the full shoot. In the meantime, here's a taster of its silky gorgeousness.

A confession

I'm still stash-busting. Hell yes. We've moved into a lofteen half the size of our old house, and that stash must be busted. Look, I cast on for a Lush 'n' Lacy in some lambswool I bought a year ago that's taking up a lot of space: I should be feeling the love, right? It's a chunky winter knit. I need to knit up the yarn. It's a popular pattern. And I should be MONOGAMOUS. Except that... on Friday, I took delivery of a copy of Rowan's Studio 12 booklet. Which contains anything but chunky handspun knits. Instead, it's full of light, lacy, silky knits, fashion-forward and amazingly styled. I had to sit on my hands on Friday to stop myself attacking my Kidsilk Haze stash that I have left over from the shrug. It was physical, I can tell you. The lust! What is chunky lambswool compared to this?:

Just. Not. The. Same. That is what. Pray for my knitting chastity, for I fear I won't hold out long...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

the return of autumn, the return of knitting


It's been a while. There are reasons, and I think I'll list them, and then you can decide which excuse flies. (This is the precise opposite of the strategy that works best with parents, teachers and bosses, of course, where the key is to pick one single excuse, any excuse, and stick to it. But you are my loyal readers, and that's different.) So:

  • I just got civilised!
  • I moved city, again
  • I interviewed for a plethora of new jobs
  • I got a new job
  • Which involved a lot of brand new teaching
  • And a lot of brand new commuting
  • Also, I thought for a bit that I would be buying a fancy pants new camera, but it is possible that this might be a little beyond my budget, new job or not, so I held off taking photos for a bit.
Pick your excuse! That doesn't mean I've not been knitting, though, no no. There's been quite a bit of it since the civilisation. As the chilly storms rolled in from the Atlantic and the temperature dropped, even slimfitting angora suddenly looked promising. So I dragged out the infamous Henley Perfected once more, tried it on, and realised, with a sinking heart... perhaps making it Small under the principle that I have never yet met the handknit that didn't stretch was not such a good idea. It was cropped. Britney Spears cropped. Tummy-showing, rolly-uppy, unflattering cropped.

So I took a deep breath, googled, and found that apparently you can actually just pull a thread just above the hem of a garment, snip the thread and pull it out, pick up the stitches and knit to lengthen it. Who knew? It sounded implausible...

but look, it worked! This is the lengthened back hem: the front hem is still three inches too short.

Like this. But my lovely lady friend then spirited the last ball of angora yarn away to complete a cardigan that she is knitting from it. Leaving me to do nothing but try and pick out the right buttons for the completed product:

These are from a hideous black polyester jacket I bought in a misguided attempt to be smart in about 1991. Polyester jackt: long since dead, pretty Victorian-style buttons: have stayed with me all these years. I think they'll work, don't you?

There are a couple of other FOs to show you, but I'll show you one: my jealousy every time my lady wore her Rose Red combined with my stubborn desire to own a beret made out of RYC silk wool, and I knitted my own:

Man, the silk wool grows. I may have to slip in some elastic, because the yarn is heavy and slippery and feels as though it wants to slip down off my brow and engulf my whole body like an expanding jellyfish. But it looks good, doesn't it?
(Pattern: Rose Red by Ysolda
Yarns: RYC silk wool in Greenwood, 2.5 balls
Needles: 4 mm bamboo
Time sucked: about a week and a half)

And I'm being very promiscuous with my WIPs at the moment, but I'll confine myself to one so you're not completely shocked:

These are the Travelling Stitch Legwarmers from Interweave Knits. There's something about tight Austrian legwarmers that's a weird combo of hippy and, cough, trachtlerisch, and I'm not sure I approve of the semiotics of yodelling traditional Germanic costume. But the gorgeous semi-solid Araucania Ranco and pretty stitch pattern have stolen my heart away, even if I actually never do wear them in reality for fear of looking like a stealth Jörg Haider fan...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Rosy Shrug, triumphing

HelenMary 08001.JPG, originally uploaded by ceciliamadden.

And lo, here is the Rosy civilisation shrug, finished, and magically ensuring that somehow, these are the only dancefloor photos I've ever seen that don't look ludicrous. I chalk it up to the elegance of the pattern, myself.

Size made: 36, no mods apart from knitting for about 2cm on 5mm needles at the very end of the ribbing, which gave it more of a frilly edging. It is gorgeous, and it was perfect for the occasion, and I am so grateful to Aileen for her gorgeous design!

(I'm also madly in love with my beautiful lady, but sssh. You probably guessed that anyway. It was a blissful, magical day, full of sparkle and sunshine, and we just couldn't stop smiling and smiling.)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

knitting and life changes


It has been a long time.

I have been to Chicago!

And I bought this:

And started on a long-lusted after project, this:

There was nearly a month knitting the middle section (two-row pattern repeat for 42", over and over), but I triumphed:

Look how glam and silky and grown-up it is!

I didn't wear anything handknit for this:

But I suddenly realised that I would need something rather special to keep my shoulders warm for this.

Two weeks ago, I looked out the window at the pounding rain, the cutting breeze, and realised with a start that the civilisation would be in three weeks, and that possibly it would not be the balmy and pleasant night predicted by me when buying my floaty, sultry dress. I might, actually, freeze. Have I knitted a stitch for this wedding? I have not. I frantically ransacked my stash for yarns that might just work, and suddenly remembered... years ago, the lovely Felinity came to visit me in the flateen, bearing with her a lovely gift of the pattern and yarns for a pair of gloves. I did try with those Frivolous Fingers: I knitted all the way up the arm of one, battled my way with the palm.. and then came to the fingers. I wailed, I cried, I tied the yarn in knots and then I threw the project across the room and scrumpled it into a corner, where it rested until yesterday. When I held the yarns up against my civilisation dress, and realised that.. it matched!

KSH: a dream to stroke, a bitch to knit with. But I strugged on with bamboo DPNS, ripped back once as I realised I made the wrong size, and finally, the Rosy civilisation shrug, designed by the magic Aileen, is finished! But you will have to wait until next week to see photos of it in its full wedding glory.

(I am so excited. So excited! You can't imagine!)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A clean yarn drawer is a peaceful mind

I've been writing a lot over the last week, and working away in the back of my mind has been a stash tidy session: destash, knit up, log on Ravelry, contemplate, decide. Gradually working through the stuffed plastic bags that have been clogging up my drawers and my mind for the last year, and thinking, do I really want to take this with me? What have I learned in the past three year's knitting?

A case in point: cotton. It turns out I don't like it, much. Particularly not in heavy weights and in cheap varieties. It hurts the hands and doesn't shine and hangs heavy off the shoulders in a shapeless fashion. It is only ideal for babby knits, but, it turns out, I have no patience for babby knits. I am not a doting grandmother type. Not me. So farewell, entrancing package from two years ago: I've posted one bulging parcel off to a babby-loving friend who'll appreciate you, and one other is ready to go, and a sense of guilt that I never finished a babby knit has gone with you.

And then there's that other cotton, which is indeed heavy, but is not cheap and is complex and a rich rich green: Gedifra Marokko, which I had picked up on sale in KaDeWe in Berlin two years ago (I am made of fancy, I know).
Gedifra Marokko
Chuck, gift or knit into a bag? But I don't really do handknit bags: they sag and get grubby and don't have enough pockets. Or... I could trail Ravelry late at night for possible saviours?

Hallelujah. The yardage is exact, to about three metres or so; it'll be short and indacent, but I can wear it over a light cotton vest, and the colour will still be perfect. Type into Ravelry, photo, keep.

And so it goes. There are a few yarns I might yet part with: this sheen-less laceweight Lavenda, for instance,Lister Lavenda, another eBargain that is sitting about unloved: pure wool and vintage she may be, but she's also unshiny, fine, unsexy.

And that brings me to the point, I suppose: eYarn is not necessarily the way forward, because no matter how knacky the pattern, how perfect the gauge, what makes the garment is the yarn you use, its sheen, how soft it feels against the skin, its halo, the play of its colours. All the things you can never tell in an eBay photo. So do I regret all the eYarn? Of course not. It was my learning yarn, without which I would never know that I have no room in my life for mohair, that tweedy yarns are glorious and fun but to be used sparingly, that there is a great difference between cheap cotton and fancy cotton, that pure wool is not all alike, and possibly most importantly: the yarn on which I discovered what I love to knit and what leaves me cold and unloved. Ditching a half-knitted baby dress or scratchy scarf is much less painful when it only cost €3 in the first place. And sometimes, you even hit lucky...

Henley in progress

As with the patient Russian angora-wool, who waited her time in the back of drawers and is finally knitting up into flickering-flame glory, three years on. Sometimes, stash patience really is a virtue. But given how fast my life moves, usually not.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

O Stash, How I Love Thee

No really, I do love my stash. Not all of it equally, of course. But there's such a sense of frugality when knitting from stash! Of achievement! And I am being very, very good and holding off purchasing lots and lots of yarn that I really, really want, because... I have just found out that I am flying to the US in June. Chicago and Madison, homes of local yarn stores and lots of luscious yarn names that I have so far been only able to ogle on Ravelry and Interweave Knits and Knitty, and oh! I am drooling already! Better yet, I have a knitting partner in crime on the trip, so I suspect we'll be enabling an awful lot of fancy American kettle-dyed hand-reared yarn to make up for the acrylic wilderness of Northern England where we now live. Hooray!

So, one thing knitting from stash teaches you: what yarns you really like. Most of my stash comes from the broke days and from eBay. And much of it is sitting there looking... just a bit wrong. Just a bit too cottonny, a bit too acrylicky, a bit too chunky, a bit too listless... a bit too unloved. That's the thing about eBay, of course. No stroking and fondling the yarn! But my adventures in eYarn have been an Educational Experience, for through the medium of bargain yarn, I have found out for very few euros what I do and do not love. And currently, I am all about... the fine-gauge yarn. Yes. I have some stacks of aran and bulky to use up, some plain DKs without shine or brandname that I will doubtless get through at some time or another, but ooh, my heart is going out to fine, slightly sheeny, possibly blended yarns, sock yarns, cashmere-mix 4plys, laceweights... and I hereby promise to buy only the fine. Promise!

So what about that stashbusting, eh? Well, it's been like this...

FO: Chestnut Rose

chestnut rose
Pattern: Rose Red, from Ysolda

Yarns: Langora (left over from my bolero), two-and-a-smidgen skeins

Needles: 4mm bamboo DPNS

Time sucked: A week or so. I was on the train a lot.

Verdict: I was risking it, using a fingering-weight yarn in a DK pattern, and even though I knitted the large size, a slouchy beret she ain't. Much more, as my lovely lady friend said, a "bell-y cloche". But my lovely lady friend is a 1930s kind of a girl, and she likes the cloche look. I'm not sure I'd wear it myself, but she loves it, and that is most definitely what matters. Hooray! It's a gorgeous pattern, though you do have to keep paying attention, and I might well stashbust some more and knit up some of the rest of my shocking-pink cashsoft into a properly slouchy DK beret...

And there's more!

FO: Baudelaire Socks

baudelaires done

I love looking at all the pictures of these on Ravelry: because they're toe-up, people get fabulously long socks out of them, and really, long socks is where I'm at. Lookit, high lacey socks and mary-janes: it's back to primary school! Except that these are particularly witchy mary-janes, of course...

Pattern: Baudelaire, by Cookie A from Knitty, by Cookie A, from Knitty

Yarns: Schoeller + Stahl Fortissima Socka in pink, bought at the knitting and stitching show (sighs) two years ago. See! I am getting through the stash! I am! And this yarn was always meant for the Baudelaires! I like it: it's robust and even. More on that anon...

Needles: 2.5 mm DPNs

Time sucked
: Two weeks. Good LORD, these socks are princessy and demand attention. I ripped back and forth and recrossed cables and picked up YOs and... well, if anyone's paying enough attention to my calves that they notice an uncrossed cable, you really have to worry about them. They're only socks! It doesn't really matter! And yet somehow, it does.

: I opened out the cables and increased them to allow for calf muscles in what I hoped was a spot of elegant-ish clocking on the side. You can kinda see in the photo. It seems to have worked; the leaf pattern isn't stretching out at all...

So in general, am I pleased with myself? I am. Onwards and upwards with the Henley P., so! It's 16 degrees and springy out, but the BBC assures me that it'll be rainy and back down near freezing at the weekend. Light lacey warm jumpers will be where it's at, then. Meanwhile, to decide how best to get rid of the rejected members of my stash: the poor fluffy baby cottons (hate baby knitting), navy sock yarn (have knitted socks for my dad, don't have any other men to knit for), the lustreless vintage Lavenda 3-ply... all to make way for US yarn. And on the subject, a sad story to finish up with: luxe yarns may be only gorgeous, but look...

My glorious Lorna's Laces! My fine and finicky Potomatusamuses! Six months of wear and the washing machine, and look what happeneth! I suppose it was inevitable, but let it also be a Warning to me on my search for luxe yarn: luxe is as luxe does, but don't get too carried away by the Shiny. Yes, Lorna's Laces is beautiful, yes, the sock pattern is elegant, but you know what? if the socks aren't going to last, then it ain't exactly worth it. Let this be a lesson to me, in my yarntastic June adventures...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

stashbustin' is rock!

gretel for keeps

Stashbusting is brilliant! Look! It's the last, the very last of my ancient Tivoli Luxury Tweed Aran, which kept faith with me through the Debbie Bliss biker jacket and the Le Slouch (now defunct), and has now been whipped up into a replacement Gretel with cunning overtones of my lost Slouch. Zippy swift! (It's a lot faster re-knitting a pattern you know already, isn't it?) And I have two more berets in mind to finish up other luxe yarns, which will be only gorgeous, not to mention PRACTICAL in the horrendous weather that's in it at the moment.

So now, I'm empowered into more stash accessorising: I am knitting, finally finally, a pair of Baudelaires with the yarn I bought for them a year and a half ago.

A year and a half, three or possibly four countries, countless house moves I have been trugging that yarn around for. Good lord. But now finally it can encase my legs in springy decadence!

Accessories are fun, of course, but jumpers are where it's at, and I have finally, finally started knitting up my legendary Russian angora yarn.
remember this?

I meant it to become a cardigan, for a while, and then it was to become a stole, but then I saw Interweave Knits, and my heart was lost to the dainty elegance of Henley Perfected. For once, I got perfect, heartbreakingly perfect gauge...

henley in process

And here is the lunar landscape of the back of the Henley P: I've finished the back and am zipping through the front. I'm slightly trepidatious about this one, because it's the first jumper in ages that I'm making without short-rowing. You can't really put darts in lace; but non-darted jumpers either ruck up over the bosoms on me, or look like sacks. Eeeek. I'm hoping the lace will stretch. Please pray for a miracle for me?

I'm really touched, by the way, that there are still lovely people commenting on this blog. Six months away, and you still care that my hat blew off! It's enough to turn a knitting tragedy into a heartwarming moment. Thank you so much!

Next up: knitting vows, fantasies, intentions and realisations: it's Glitz's Knitting Unconscious. Be warned...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

the untold viciousness of the ipod nano

So what else have I been knitting, these cold and weary months? Warm accessories, yo, to make my life that bit cosier in the wuthering Yorkshire blasts. (I never knew what wuthering truly meant until I moved here.) Some of it has been full of success, for example:

comfort leaf scarf
Pattern: Made up myself, from the Harmony Guide to Knitting Stitches

Yarns: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky (bargain! at £2 a ball from the Knitting and Stitching show), colourway 17020, 5 balls.

Needles: 7mm circs

Time sucked: A week or so.

Chunky, cosy, not quite as wide as I had hoped. I kind of imagined that five whole balls of chunky yarn would envelop me in a cashmerino heaven so dense it would be like rolling in clouds, but not quite. Not so much yardage in the chunky yarn, really. But it's still cosy and elegant.

And as ever, there were socks: I was at a job interview for a job in deepest wildest Wales, which in the event I didn't get, but who cares when there are yarn shops?

FO: Leaves on the Line Socks

Leaves on the Line Socks

Pattern: Ahaha. Basically a top-down heel flap sock, no pattern, but, erm, improvised by myself under very trying circumstances: viz, the train being delayed for hours when the journey was supposed to take five hours anyway in the first place. WOE.

Yarns: Kaffe Fassett Design Line, lovely Landscape yarn in lovely colourway 4255, oh yes I love it, bought in Clarewools of Aberystwyth.

Needles: 2.5 mm circs

Time sucked: Hmm. Most of a train journey, during which I mostly but not entirely managed to remember how to construct heel-flap socks. Except that I forgot how to turn the heel properly, in the midst of my trainy woe so there's twice as many stitches in the heel as there should be. Which makes for a fierce baggy heel. Oh well.

But then, alas, a tragedy! A woe! Also in the nice wee woolshop in the wilds of Wales, I saw and stroked some RYC Silk Wool DK. Oh, my. And I fell in love. You would fall, too, if it happened to you. And yes, it's insanely pricey, but oh! the sheen, the density, the colours! So I brought it home, and with great loving care, I constructed me a beret fancy enough for its glory, viz, Gretel.

FO: Oh my darling Gretel


Pattern: Gretel, by Ysolda.

Yarns: gorgeous RYC Silk Wool DK, 2.5 balls of Greenwood (306), bought in Clarewools of Aberystwyth.

Needles: 4mm dpns

Time sucked:Two weeks or so? For I had to rip back and reknit, because...

Pattern modifications... The first time I knitted this, it ended up like a pork pie hat, weeny and tiny, and I realised that the DK yarn required an adjustment. I ended up adding in 4 stitches to the cast-on, which gave a slightly uneven finish - the number of stitches has been worked out fiendishly exactly to give a perfectly balanced pattern. But I don't think you can see the glitch if you're not looking for it - there's an "orphan" point in the star-shaped crown, but you really do have to squint to find it.

And oh, how I loved my green shiny hat, through the cruel winter days of blowing and sadness! But then. But THEN, one windy moisty morning, I put on my iPod, crammed on Gretel, and battled through the dark morning to work, escaping into a cheery world of mashup. I arrived at work, raised hand to head.... and there was Gretel, gone. HOW HAD SHE BLOWN OFF WITHOUT ME NOTICING? Had I been transfixed in a mashup dream too deep to notice Gretel being whisked off my head? Or had my iPod, somehow, actually eaten her?

I know not. All I know is, I have never seen my pricey crafty Gretel again. Sadly, then, I put on my Le Slouch instead, and wore that all the next week.

Until, one windy morning, I arrived at work, put hand to head, and... there Le Slouch wasn't. Gone. Two berets, in two weeks, eaten by the Yorkshire wuthering. Emily Bronte, you should be alive at this hour to record this deepest of all mysteries, because to be honest, it is beyond me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

let's not lie about resolutions

Erm. Cough cough cough. A whole six-month hiatus? That would be the hiatus that coincided with me taking up a new job, then. I have been around on Ravelry, and I have been knitting, but blogging? well... not so much. And I'm not going to promise great things in future.

My new year's resolution, then, after an unseemly yarn binge at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate (twice the size of the Irish one! awesome!) is to knit from stash. Thing is, right, I do have an enormous stash, but most of it is my beloved old eyarn from the broke days: nameless pastel cotton, scratchy worsted-weight wools, cheap rough and ready vintage yarns. And now that life is looking slightly less impoverished, I do have a faible for the luxe yarns.

Moreover, knitting from stash is a questionable endeavour. You start, for instance, with the remnants of your Cashsoft and a stash of Jaeger Matchmaker Merino aran, both of which you bought cheap in Knitting and Stitching shows of yore. You have fallen in love with the Neiman pattern from Knitty, and even though it's a pattern that calls for a DK yarn, you decide to repurpose the aran anyway, in the interest of frugality. So you knit and knit at an impenetrably tight gauge, adding in short rows, when, of course, the ten balls of aran you own run out, because there is less yardage in aran than in DK:

drunken circles

So, all in the interests of frugality, you order some more to finish the jumper. Except that Jaeger have now discontinued Matchmaker Aran, so you buy Matchmaker DK instead, and hope it works.

Neiman closeup

And you know, it works pretty well. The jumper's a bit heavy, and a bit off-the-shoulder, but in general, it's a good heavy-duty winter jumper.

FO: Neiman

Pattern: Neiman, by Weaverknits from Knitty.

Yarns: Jaeger Matchmaker Merino Aran, black, ten balls; Jaeger Matchmaker Merino DK, black, 1.5 balls; RYC Cashsoft DK, fuschia, 1 ball.

Needles: 3.5mm circs. I told you it was solid.

Time sucked:A month, I guess?

Pattern modifications
Short rows short rows short ROWS.

Except. Except now, you have two and a half balls of Matchmaker DK left. What on earth can you make with them? And then you think of the almost-whole ball of Tapestry you have left over from your Seaside Handwarmers, and you think, Aha! I will do a scoop-necked tank top loosely based on Fad Classic, but to use up the Tapestry I will add in the fair-isle pattern from Interweave Knits's Sweetheart Vest! How frugal!

So you knit and knit away. And soon enough, you discover that two and a half balls of DK is nowhere near enough to make a tank top. Except that by this time, Jaeger have also discontinued Matchmaker DK. So you order Merino Extra Fine instead, in the hope that it will match. It doesn't. It's much shinier and nicer, even though it's black too.

But it all comes out in the fair-isle wash, and between the three yarns, you have more or less the foxiest tank top in town.

FO: Sweetheart Fad

sweetheart fad

Pattern: Fad Classic, with extra bonus Sweetheart fair-isle pattern.

Yarns: Jaeger Matchmaker Merino DK, black, 2.5 balls; Jaeger Merino Extra Fine DK, 2 balls, Rowan Tapestry, (Potpourri 172), 1 ball.

Needles: 4 mm and 3.5mm circs.

Time sucked: Two weeks

Pattern modifications
Short rows short rows short ROWS. As ever. And I didn't do the fancy Fad Classic waffle stitch, just stocking stitch.

Foxy, yes. But was it really frugal? I leave you, oh friends, if I have any left, to decide...