Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Three found objects, two woolly gifts, one finished thing...

And a partridge in a pear tree. Actually; a dead blackbird on the patio, which lacks poetry.

But otherwise it's been a lucky couple of days here... Sorry, blackbird.

First, Lorna's cardigan - I found these translucent buttons after a bit of a hunt - in my jewellery box. Of course. Where else. Why would I have a nice big button tin and actually put buttons I buy in there? I think these came from La Droguerie several years ago (before the advent of the current button tin) and were presumably lost before their intended sweater came into being... or I just bought them because they looked like sweeties.

Anyway, they turned up, and they're sewn on, and I just have to wrap the cardigan and get it into the post tomorrow with a suitable card...

The second found object(s) - these gorgeous stitch markers I bought from Lixie on eBay last autumn, and then promptly lost before I could decide whether to give them to someone for Christmas or whether to keep them. Decision made, I think. Ahem; and yay.

And then today, I got two presents! First one comes from Leah, who went across the Atlantic to to her brother's wedding in Georgetown on Saturday, visited StitchDC and brought back Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, colour (yes!) Rainbow.

The circularity of this pleases me so much - I make Lorna a rainbow cardigan; Leah gives me Lorna's Laces rainbow... Somebody needs to do something rainbowy and Lorna-related for Leah now... She also brought back some wonderful tape-type-braid-type felty Noro for herself which I can't currently trace on the Web... I'll ask her for the details tomorrow because it's extremely pretty... So I need to find a toning plain coloured yarn for this; and make suitably Washingtonian socks...

All I had to give in return was a Republicans for Voldemort bumper sticker, the third Found Object from the weekend. One of these days I'll actually tidy up properly, and if this streak continues, will find the Missing Link, the Grand Unified Theory, the Ark of the Covenant and a palatable recipe for okra (although I'm not holding out for the last one).

And the second woolly gift: 300g of fine wool yarn from Zeena, who comes along to my Wednesday night class at Fulbourn. It's crewel wool, but not pre-cut, so it's in lovely skeins. Not wildly visually exciting yet (unless beige-intestines-in-a-bag is your thing, in which case I really don't want to know; Blogger evidently agrees with me as three attempts to upload a photo have proved futile) but it'll dye and felt beautifully and there are hundreds and hundreds of metres of it...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Holiday weekend

And it's actually feeling like that... Yesterday was alternately vile and steamingly summery. Today was almost entirely sunny and warm; I was able to hack down a recycling-bin full of clippings and weeds and can now see halfway down the garden; and barbecued and ate outside for the first time this year.

To celebrate this, an outdoor knitting photo:

This is Lorna's birthday cardigan. Lorna isn't quite 5 yet (but will be next Friday, so I need to get a move on), and her parents are way too busy to be reading this. I'm using basic measurements from the Tadpoles and Tiddlers book and the Soft Chevrons stitch from Jan's ripple stitch book. The yarn is a mixture of Sirdar Rio, a gift/leftover from Jan, which makes up the rainbow stripes, and Wendy cotton DK in a mixed blue/navy, bought at a very good ex-LYS during their closing down sale a few years ago, for the main thing. All from stash (hoorah!). I need to check on buttons - I'm fancying the idea of odd ones in the right colours at the moment - I'll get the box out tomorrow.

At Cambridge Ktog yesterday Avril had various crochet hooks and miscellaneous knitting impedimenta on offer against donations to Rosie in Stitches. Including this

which was too intriguing to leave. I also picked up a set of DPNs in fake tortoiseshell (one of those "look; a shiny thing!" moments... )

Also discovered this week (along with the fact that running a multimillion-dollary company is exactly like running a lemonade stand; allegedly; and that I no longer have any patio chairs, having left them out in the rain all winter to the extent that all the wooden slats have perished) that Sew Creative in King Street have started stocking Brittany needles. I'm reasonably good at convincing myself I have Too Much Yarn (not least because it's true). Beautiful needles with deco ends, not so much. Need to keep out of there even more on my weekly trip in to town at lunchtime...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Off topic

In London yesterday, for a Show of Hands gig at The Spitz with Kate, my newest relative (by marriage; I wasn't taking a newborn out for the night...). Last time I went to Spitalfields Market, a friend was working at the homeless shelter in the Crypt of Christchurch, and the landing window of his flat looked straight out onto the market. This was in 1989-90, just before the old fruit-and-veg market shut down, and it's certainly different... Took us a little while to find it, but eventually we did, and it's a nice venue, up in the rafters of the market; almost feels like a chapel, which fits SoH's style very well. As ever the guys plus Miranda were excellent; heard one bod whingeing on the way out about the lack of old stalwarts like Longdog and The Galway Farmer, but with new material as good as the Witness CD, why would you care...

This is the only usable photo I took of the day, and the gig; and I've included it because it's weirdish. I'm hazarding a guess that those are Phil's hands, because of where we were standing...

Before the gig, met up with Jan (who has blogged the exhibition we went to; and the cover of the rather lovely catalogue we got included in the exhibition price) and she gave me a copy of her ripple stitches book which is beautiful. I think I also, in the whole Venice/birthday Thing at the end of April, forgot to mention that another book of Jan's, for which I knitted some things, came out; I'm still playing 'hunt-the-item' with it at the moment, working out which bits I made, because the hats, scarves, bags etc. look very different once they've been decorated (and in some cases felted) and photographed...

Thursday, May 11, 2006


In another bit of my life, I teach an embroidery class. Last week, crafts collided - we were doing canvaswork, and a couple of the ladies in the class brought bags of tapestry wool of various brands which they had accumulated as ends-of-kits or for other projects, or were unable to sell at a local charity shop. In the end, I was the only one who wanted them, for felting, so they came home... (Nothing wrong with the wool, but canvaswork/needlepoint has moved on and there are so many more materials available now.)

On Monday night, I took possession of a set of US West Wing Series Two DVDs, (The Ones With The Extra Features, as opposed to the UK ones which only have the episodes). The commentated episodes necessitate reading closed captioning while listening to the actors/directors, so while that was going on I mindlessly wound a couple of dozen skeins of browns and pinks into a nice big ball of yarn, and last night I knitted it up. Started with 9 stitches on straight 6mm needles; gradually increased on alternate rows in sections to 99 sts; then carried on on circulars (#10.5 Denises) and seamed the edge of the circular-shaped bit before felting. The finished pre-felted dimensions were 32 cm wide by 33 high. Then I whacked it into the washing machine at 60 degrees C, long wash, with a couple of bath-towels from the washing pile; et voilĂ . Here it is drying over a vase I made in a long-ago pottery class:

and here it is lounging about on the beautiful Christmas-present throw from Jan.

Finished dimensions are 22cm wide by 15cm high... I know Jan's done this before (and I have a couple of bags of Paternayan from her which I will also now play with) but I was unprepared for how completely and solidly tapestry wool felts in a single wash. Remarkable. I'm hooked. Next time I'll safety-pin some bubble-wrap into the middle though to stop the fabric felting to itself - gave me a couple of Bad Moments and has caused a lot of distortion to the edging...

In Cambridge-specific news, Sew Creative on King Street have restocked with a much larger range of Regia Sock Yarn than previously, having given the impression they'd stopped selling it. Got a couple of balls of this (Skater colourway) at lunchtime.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tidying up

My Yarn Corner in the dining room had reached ridiculous proportions by the weekend so I culled it (obviously, this doesn't actually mean getting rid of yarn; just shovelling it into carrier bags and taking it upstairs into the Abomination of Desolation which is the back bedroom). I now have

A bag of Current Projects: 1) the as yet un-re-cast-on Jaywalkers 2) the shawl I can't show 3) St Brigid, in her purple but unprogressed splendour.

A couple of imminent projects: 1) the yarn for the shawl after this, which will become the Peacock Feathers Shawl - this is Cherry Tree Hill laceweight from Woolly Workshop in the Peacock colourway.

2) the yarn for the sweater after next (next on the needles will be Eris, using the Mexican Wave yarn unpicked from the sweater-which-didn't-work-any-better-the-second-time), which is an assortment of very beautiful alpaca and alpaca blends.

The main rose-brown and grey yarn at the back is a 100% alpaca brought back from Bolivia two years ago by friends in a stunning act of generosity. This yarn has so far been quite decisive about what it doesn't want to be so far; I started making a Meg Swansen sweater from Knitting in America/America Knits with it and managed to get it catastrophically wrong three times - first time, I made a Mobius-type strip; second time, I made it too small and realised this at armpit-time; third time I got to the same point and realised due to crappy counting that I had 28 sts (or two full repeats) more at the front than at the back... Thankfully it pulls out as beautifully as it knits up. Then I got the variegated pink yarn from Silkwood at Stitch last year - it feels as if it has mohair and alpaca in it - and Elann had a sale so I got the Baby Silk in the other four colours; and the beads may or may not get used... No idea what I'll do with this at the moment, although I think it's going to involve some contributions from this book, but I have time to work it out; and I want to do justice to the yarn. It lives in a bag on a hook which also hangs my ironing board; because the Bolivian stuff still has a real alpaca type smell, and cats find it completely irresistible. I'm going to need to keep the finished sweater in a pillowcase or something to make sure they don't love it to death...

And then finally the Yarn Which Is Too Pretty To Let Out of My Sight. I've got this down to one basketful - there's a fair amount of sock yarn for grabbing at short notice; and some skeins of Koigu, Lorna's Laces, Kaalund etc. This is stuff I pick up and fondle...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Now you see it...

First Jaywalker sock, in the lovely Trekking XXL which was a present from Anne. Love the yarn, and the pattern. (The lilac bits are actually more pink-and-green in reality)...

I got to the bit where the heel starts; and thought "I'll just Google to see whether this Trekking stuff does have a repeat" (because I hadn't seen one so far). Received wisdom (and you can't get much wiser than this; see post for December 19), says no. But while I was Googling, discovered mentions of the 'inflexibility of the pattern', so I thought "maybe I'd better try it on".

Well; mine might fit the calf of a supermodel. I wouldn't know because I couldn't get it past my heel to work this out... The actual measurement of the leg is fine according to the pattern directions; but it has No Give Whatsoever on the 2mm needles I was using to compensate for my usually-ridiculously-loose-knitting-tension.

So, unravelling I shall go, and I'll do them on the 2.5mm needles this time! Third pair running on 2.5mms - you'd think I was developing normal tension; or something... I should stop second-guessing these pattern-writers; except I have, all my life, and it's worked for me so far! Maybe sock-knitters are relaxed people, and differently-gauged...

Also, one knitting-related image from Venice. I never found the fabled Lellabella yarn shop; went all the way along the Calle della Mandola without spotting it, a couple of times (and my instinct for yarn shops is really quite finely-honed; there's no way it would have got away from me if it were still there) but this was in the corner of one of the Murano glass shops in the Piazza San Marco and amused me:

Glass yarn. I bet that has no stretch whatsoever, however loosely you knit it...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Have been away for a few days - in Venice, in fact, with my parents, brother and SIL. These pics probably say it all:

It was lovely. We stayed at a posh hotel with its own landing-stage, took a water-taxi there and back, and apart from a frantic dash through Schiphol airport on the way back and the quickest plane-to-plane transfer ever (during which, amazingly, our luggage made it onto the plane with us!) it was a really relaxed few days and the weather for the first two and a bit days was wonderfully warm and sunny. I did a bit of knitting; started a pair of Jaywalkers and knitted on a shawl I can't show you.

I also have not one but two FO to show -

The Pomatomus socks were finished on the train north (we flew out of Newcastle airport as that's where my family still live) and here they are, just before grafting, slouching about on the table in the train (for some absurd GNER-related reason, travelling north first-class was cheaper than a Saver return). They were lovely to make, but as you can see, there was a scarily small amount of the Celestial Merino left at the end...

and these are Stewart's birthday socks, in Opal handpaint from eBay.

And finally, and very belatedly, one of the wonderful birthday presents I received from Jan the week before last (sorry, Jan): a skein of Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace (silk and wool) in the Get Knitted colourway: isn't it gorgeous??