Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Pair(ish) of Knee Socks

The "ish" because of the very distinctly unmatching nature of these socks. Not, thankfully, because there is still only one and a bit of them. 

Pattern: My Own Knee Socks - Garter Rib Stitch for the legs
Yarn: Regia Kaffe Fasset Design Line - 4350
Needles: 2.75mm DPNs
Started: October 23rd 2010
Finished: December 25th 2010

I never make the effort to begin the second sock at the same place in the colour repeat as the first and with a shortage of yarn these weren't the pair to start fussing about that with. I then also decided I'd refine the calf increasing on the second one to see if hiding the increases in the purl troughs of the ribbing was neater than the increases in either knit or purl had been on the first. Answer definitely yes to the knitter's eye but if a non knitter picked it out I'd be amazed. Despite my scrappy notes I think I matched up the shaping nicely, made the heel in the right place, had the right number of stitches for the foot. All tickety boo except I missed the rather obvious fact that the first foot was plain and carried on the ribbing on the instep as I was decreasing the gussets. I left it, all these little variations just add character and character is a big part of a hand knit isn't it? Identical socks are easy enough to come by at the shops after all.

There was just one thing I changed on the second sock that I did rip back and correct - the length! Character is one thing but having to fold the toe of your sock over to make it the right size might be taking that just a stitch too far.

I finished these up on Christmas Day, and a most delightful day it was. I hope everyone is having a fabulous holiday time. Much fun being had by me including the big chunks of knitting time.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gift Knit Update

Two more gifts got finished. This is from about two weekends ago now. They got done mainly because they are CHUNKY. Chunky is definitely the way to go for my gift knitting. Chunky plus accessory = speed. Obvious I know but in previous years my focus on a pair of socks for x, y and z took the idea that small accessory item = speed. Not in 4 ply yarn and a bazillion stitches - one day I tried to count how many stitches in a sock. I wonder how many in a knee sock? Stop! I'm not going there I'm going to the sofa to knit like the wind. As, of the rest of what the list boiled down to: these socks (it's hard to make two of something when your notes are so crumby!), 

a big, plumptious Springtime Bandit shawl, two hats and one scarf are started but unfinished and one scarf and an owl are still just wool and dreams. I may be crazy but I think I'm going to get everything finished as most of the gifts are for people I'm seeing between Christmas and New Year. Yay deadline extension! And today the snow finally arrived here in Oxford so I've got the perfect excuse to stay put with the needles all weekend.

Friday, December 03, 2010

I'm a loser, here are the winners

I'm going as fast as my legs will carry me and yet I'm just so slow at getting to things at the moment. I'm a total bloggy loser, I've hardly visited you peeps in weeks, it feels dusty and neglected here with just a quick fly by now and again. I picked out my winners from my four year post last Sunday and then never got them announced. Still I know you dears will forgive me and four years of blogging have taught me never to do it out of obligation. I always find my way back to the blogosphere eventually because I love this little creation and all of your creations so much that the time is always found. 

Thank you so much everyone for your lovely comments and with no further ado the random number generator and I picked the following winners:

Winning the spotty heart buttons is Gill, Anita I hope you'd like the blue stripey hearts, Charity it's stitch markers for you and for Bells the round black and white buttons. I think I've made contact with you all to get your addresses though comment here or pm me on Rav - (I'm Thumbelina) if you haven't had an email/comment.

And for a pretty picture here's a couple of little extra balls of yarn for (insanely) yet more gifts. These fingers better get flying this weekend. Happy Knitting!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fisschhwwing

That was the noise of the last week whistling past me!
 This time last week I was having a lovely time in Bath. The skies were grey but we had fun in the spa,
got our caffeine fix drinking the nicest coffee I've ever had in the UK - trained in Melbourne apparently - thank you Australia.
Sightseeing and shopping.
 I'm not sure whether you can make them out for all the reflections but this is the amazing All Saints shop window display - masses of Singer sewing machines - stunning.
 Though I saved my purchases for another kind of shop. Doesn't it look cosy and welcoming? It certainly is. I'd love to shop here regularly. A gem.
I was quite restrained, just another idea for a Christmas gift!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Blogiversary Again!

This little creation makes it to four years old tomorrow, I swear it hasn't been a year since last time and four since the first post - amazing!
Nothing dramatically changes here now year on year, and that's part of the charm for me. The little ordinary details that get captured. The increased connection with the rhythm and cycles of the year. The space to obsess over things that the average work colleague or even my closest friend just doesn't quite feel the same about. Ceramic buttons - squeal! 
I'd definitely say to anyone learning to knit that they should keep a blog about it along the way. (So any new knitter without a blog if you're reading this and fancy it - do it! It's fab.)   It's so easy to forget what it was you didn't know (everything) and take your skills for granted as there still feels like a whole lot of everything you don't know. There have been dramatic changes since those first days, changes that creep up on you. I'm tickled by this post from early in my sock days where I say "my pattern uses something called Kitchener Stitch.." at least that's one thing I've got licked now.
So celebrate with me you lovely blog readers, I'd blog without you but it's much more fun with you! Four pictures of pretty things for four whole years of blogging. If you'd like to receive a set of these wonderful buttons or the stitch markers made in South Africa for Injabulo, a wonderful little company I found this year, please wish me a happy blogiversary in the comments and let me know which set you'd prefer. I'll do a draw next weekend if there are multiple people falling in love with these lovable creations. This weekend I'm off to Bath with my cutie patootie (and the Christmas knitting!). Life is good.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Christmas Knits

The list I made back in August when I had just ordered the yarn for the Vogue cowl seemed so modest. I thought I'd refined the strategy to perfection last year, ie plan only a realistic number of things and make sure they are patterns that I actually fancy knitting. I got very focused and came up with a one page list of very few hand knits for only those who have made requests or who I think would really like a hand knit gift and was impressed at how ahead of the game I was. Things looked so promising with that first gift ticked off at the start of September. Now with just the cowl and a sock and a bit complete I'm feeling much less smug, it's looking somewhat more daunting and yet I still want to add more to it!
I'd say I'm not sure why I do it. I am of course. I do it because I love to knit, I want to give handmade, meaningful gifts and in most cases the best way I can think to do that is with something knitted. 

The first year I learnt to knit it was just before Christmas and I dashed off some scarves and socks as gifts and was very proud of myself.  I soon learnt the lesson that not everyone will love the gift just because I made it for them - my Mum had clearly been too kind in response to everything I brought home from school - in fact I know she was as her house is still littered by wonky embroidery and strange pottery creatures! Looking back now I can see why some of those first knit gifts never saw much light of day but these days if you get a knit from me I'd say you're blessed.
No honestly! I even generously try and combine what I want to knit with something I think the recipient will want! So I've moved on from the early days but where I've got to now seems to be with wanting to knit a cardigan for my best friend - seriously? How many cardigans do I manage to make in a whole year, yet alone in about a month with a bazillion other things to knit! 

She's got a birthday in March so maybe I'll start it and then when the inevitable happens and I miss Christmas I'll be ahead of the birthday game. Actually maybe that will be my whole strategy for next year - gift knits for birthdays only and not Christmas. Though there are few knits it feels right to give in the summer. Maybe if they're a summer birthday the gift can be knit then but gifted at Christmas. I like it!

So my summer start on the list this year hasn't gained me any great headway but at least the looming deadline gives me carte blanche to have a casting on partay this weekend! I knew all this gift knitting wasn't selfless.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Adaptability

When the horror of the tangle pushed me into starting the knee highs I felt I was diving in on something that needed a little more planning.  My auntie requested some knee high socks for her Christmas gift socks back in the spring, so the idea  has been percolating in my mind for a long while but I was holding off until I had some time to work out the details. Then the socks need for planning became less than my need for some calming sock knitting so I thought I'd just get going and adapt as I went along. I wasn't sure of sizing, calf-shaping, heel type, anything in fact bar the yarn and that I wanted to rib the leg so it would have the best chance of fitting - but I knew all the rest could be figured out along the way and it has been.
I've been enjoying the lovely Kaffe Fassett colourway. I had some fun playing with the way it echoes the strength of the colours in my anemones.
Thanks to Dr K for reminding me that this is the self same yarn Bells used for her knee highs.  The memory of those must have been a subliminal inspiration as I was sure for a long time in advance of the knitting that this was the right stash yarn for this project. Now Bells was a smarty pants on two fronts - she had more than two balls of the yarn and did her socks from the toe up. I wanted to use up what I had and thought with some 2.75mm needles I'd get a pair of knee highs out of it. I would have gone with toe ups but I just didn't have the patience to watch a tutorial and I don't have any toe up cast-ons in my head so I had to dive in top down and hope that there would be enough yarn. 
Not so much. 
But I love it anyway. I striped in some leftover Kaffe Fasset Regia I had from a pair of socks I made for last Christmas which had the right tones if not the right stretches of colour. I wanted to keep up the momentum and not wait and try and get hold of more yarn. I wanted to use what resources I had both in terms of yarn and mentally. These socks have become all about being adaptable, a prime example of as in knitting as in life. I'm trying hard not to over plan, to delay things until everything is perfect. In trying to overcome the ME I've seen that this in area I need to relax and learn to trust more in my own skills and capabilities. So as ever there's a lot more in this sock than just yarn. I'm so glad I just got going and even more so that I kept going and enjoyed every relaxing stitch. A little triumph which I love for its imperfection. 
Now on to number two!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Can you curse yourself?

Does writing something at the end of your blog post like "More to see of this at the weekend I feel sure." constitute some black magic spell that means you're bound to stuff up your knitting? Hmmm beware is all I can say! Last time I was here I was feeling all confident I'd have most of a beautiful Wollmeise sock to show you and instead (much delayed by the various toings and froings of the real life which do get in the way terribly of knitting and blogging don't they?) here is the tangle that ensued shortly after that post.
It's a good job that wool and pattern are so beautiful and meant for each other as this was the second attempt - first time around things were looking good but were coming out too tight - this time too loose so that everything has got tangled up -  in this pic with the pattern you can see what I'm aiming for - cool hey? - so there will be a third attempt!
Not for a while though, I put them aside and reached for a simple socky alternative - top down, garter rib - the only twist being that these will make knee highs. This shot of the yarn and cuff was taken the weekend before last and I'm down to the heel now so if it won't curse me I might dare say there'll be something good to show this weekend! 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Monday is not Sunday but it will do just fine

Done at last and straight in to action. Socks make great little summer projects but as the weather starts to cool down they really come in to their own. There's nothing quite so satisfying in knitting for me as finishing up and pulling the item in question straight on for some much desired warmth. 
Yarn: Socks that Rock in the wonderful Thraven
Needles: 2.25mm DPNs
Started: June 9th 2010
Finished: October 18th 2010
These are a wonderful match of a pattern I love (top down - yay!) and a yarn I'd dreamt about owning until the start of this year. Thank you again Wendy for your generosity and thoughtfulness it makes these beauties all the more beautiful to me. I may never take them off  though I love how they look when I do. The sculptural aspects of the ribs are wonderful.
And the colour - oh the gorgeous colour - it's a little more true to life in this last shot. I doubt I'll ever have the photography skills to quite capture the amazing depth and variation of these nearly black Raven clan colourways. They are an amazing expression of a real art form.

I'm so lucky in this socky month to jump straight from the yarn of one master dyer to another. Here's the first glimpse of the WM sock - a rather beautiful folded cuff if I do say so myself. Alice has designed a fabulous pattern for variegated colourways so I decided to behave myself as a club member and knit the pattern with the yarn it was designed for. More to see of this at the weekend I feel sure.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Millimetre by millimetre

Oh why, oh why is Socktober flying  away so fast? I'm making glacially slow progress on my beautiful Carettas. They were three quarters done before the month started. 
This toe has been tormenting me all week, so close, yet so far, from an actual finished sock. Even when I manage to sit down with it in my hands I'm so tired it gets only a row or two longer. Still I'm hopeful that today even I must be able to finish off these toe decreases.

I'd thought I'd be on to the Lorna's Laces next but then last weekend the next club parcel arrived with this in it. 
Seriously! I'm so excited to even hold this legendary yarn I think I have to let it queue jump!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Spring Shot

A long time in the works mainly because of the idea that I needed to think about the knitting of them here finally are the Spring Shoots.
Yarn: Brooklyn Handspun - Soft Strength in club colourway - Persephone
Needles: 2.5mm DPNs
Started: April 2nd 2010
Finished: September 19th 2010
I wasn't sure I would ever be bothered to knit another sock in this way, it is based on Cat Bordhi's Houdini structure and I am quite wedded to the cuff down, heel flap construction. I suspect in the main I love my top downers because it is what I learnt first, though there is something very special in the rhythm of the knit. Normally a simple cuff to get you into the feel of the needles and the yarn, then a stretch of leg with pattern if you fancy, then the magic of the heel for a little razzmatazz and then gusset decreases ahoy you can feel yourself running down hill to the toe. This pattern taught me lots and it is fun to cut your knitting, but when I was sewing up the first one all the ends seemed so much work compared to my regular bit of kitchenering on a wedge toe.
However, there was quite a revelation when I slipped it on. The fit, especially of the heel, is really rather wonderful. The round decreases mimic the roundness of the heel very well. I'll certainly think of dropping in what is basically a star heel perhaps as an afterthought heel for the ole top downers, and you know, I'm thinking of digging myself even further out of my top down heel flap way of thinking and trying some more of these afterthought legs. One day then, they won't take so much thought and I might just have a couple of sock structures bedded in to my brain, variety after all is the spice of socks.

One thing that I did as written in the pattern that I wouldn't bother with again is the knit on moss stitch cuff. It's very pretty and gives a nice soft stretchy top but a regular cuff with a sewn bind off has worked quite nicely on other toe ups I've known and loved and as anyone who has ever knit the beret Verity with that band knows it's a long road to knit on.
So it's nice to start Socktoberfest (you remember how much I love Lolly's sock celebration) showing off a pair of finished socks, my goal for this month is to catch up a little with Sock Club activity which means finishing the Caretta's and starting in on 2LuvCrew. As that means knitting first with Socks that Rock and secondly with Lorna's Laces my fingers as well as my feet will be spoilt this Socktober.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

And a week on, here's "Holiday Knitting - Part II"

Did a week go by? I've been slightly dazed and confused these past days. So out of practice at getting up and that work stuff, sign of a good holiday I guess. Suffice to say, I'm only just finding time to post about my knitting souvenir but as it's seen little action since the end of holiday it's kind of fitting. I'll try and settle back in to that lovely post vacay relaxed vibe I had last weekend and it'll be like the work never got between us.
Knitting on our balcony at Rottingdean






As with my project choice I'd done my preparation for a little holiday yarn shopping. I knew that Christchurch had a lovely traditional wool shop, Honora Wool Specialists stacked high with a big range of the staple UK yarns. To try and avoid my normal panic when faced with such riches I picked out a pattern in advance that I could hunt down some suitable yarn for. I went for Short Lucky as a nice autumn welcoming cosy project, I don't have anything quite like it and I want it!

I nearly got distracted by a surprise yarn shop find in Bristol - a lovely little boutique style shop -  Woolly Thinking  - but though some highly covetable Artesano Aran wool and alpaca blend tried to win me over it was a bit too over budget. I'm glad I resisted as I eventually found a very easy on  the pocket yarn in Honora. It's Patons Wool Blend Aran which is one I haven't seen before. It's a wool/acrylic mix but it feels good and woolly. Woolly in a serious 'I'm going to wear like a dream' way rather than woolly in a smoochy, snuggly Cashshoft  'I'll pill as soon as you look at me' way. For an over garment like Short Lucky which isn't going to be next to the skin I'm thinking it should be perfect.  
It's nice on the hands to knit with, a dry sort of feel and is looking very pleasing in the broken rib pattern. I think this piece is going to be a fine addition to my wardrobe and there are some lovely memories knit into it already that I'll enjoy carrying with me. 
Hengistbury Head

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Holiday Knitting, Part I

Beaches and knitting - can't go too far wrong with a holiday heavy on those two things can you?

Avon Beach, Mudeford
I took three knits away with me. First up was a project suited to car knitting time: Jonna, a simple ribbed scarf, in more of the scrumptious Cashsoft, in Poppy this time.

I started this just before we went away to make sure I had something simple on the go.
View across to the Isle of Wight





The Spring Shoots socks I took are not really complicated, it's just that the unusual construction means that they require that little bit more thought and attention than car knitting, or indeed post-work knitting time tends to offer.

Perfect for peaceful holiday time.
Mudeford Spit from Hengistbury Head



I also used my holiday peace to start a pattern I knew would need a little thinking about: Summit. I got the chance to buy another skein of the Sunna sock club yarn that I was saving for a scarf, thus the search for a suitable pattern grew to shawl proportions. I was so intrigued by the picture of Summit that I knew I had to try and knit it so that I could understand the construction. It's really very clever, simple to work but not simple to work out. 
I love the story behind the design and using the thought of the work that the designer put in as motivation I taught myself a new skill as I started this. You work across a small number of stitches at any one time so I used some of my spare holiday brain power to work out how to reverse knit to avoid turning and purling. It's often recommended for entrelac but I could never be bothered to learn when I was working on Lady Eleanor. I certainly should have done. At the moment I'm still slower than I would be turning and purling but I think there's enough of Summit to get me up to speed! It feels good to learn a new knitting skill, a very nice holiday souvenir.
Littlehampton
I have one more knitting souvenir - a new project on the go that I found the perfect yarn for  in Christchurch  - but I'll save that for a post all its own. It's lovely to be back but I could cheerfully take that holiday again, maybe once a month!
Sunset at Rottingdean    



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