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...