Monthly Archives: February 2010

Brighton Spoils

Last week I was in Brighton for the weekend and of course I couldn’t resist popping into a yarn shop. I visited Purl, a small shop brimming with yarn, a good selection of books and (when I was there) a lot of excitable children! They were just finishing up a crafting session and it was clear the kids had thoroughly enjoyed it.

I walked away with these goodies:

Yarn and Book from Purl Brighton

The yarn (Austermann Alpaca Silk) is a gorgeous deep purple colour. It’s very soft with a lovely sheen, just what you’d expect from an 80% alpaca and 20% silk blend. It’s probably a good job they only had two purple left, otherwise I might have bought even more. I’m thinking it will make a good a cowl/neckwarmer…

The book is Make Do and Mend, a collection of official second world war instruction leaflets. Some of the advice is still relevent today, especially the advice on cutting down waste and recycling more. I find it interesting how the war affected almost every aspect of daily life in one way or another and I like the character of Mrs. Sew and Sew who (unsurprisingly) gives sewing and knitting advice and tells you to “Never send a hole to the wash!” or “Smarten up your men!”

There’s some tips I’ll try, like switching the sleeves on a jumper so they wear evenly and last longer but I don’t think I’ll be following the advice of reinforcing my knickers! It’s perfect for the coffee table and you can easily read a leaflet (or two) whenever you have a few spare minutes.

Chocolate and Vanilla Socks

I’m going to Brighton for the weekend, partly to support my brother who is doing the half marathon and partly to see one of my housemates from uni and I want some don’t-have-to-look-at-a-pattern-or-count-my-rows knitting so this:

Chocolate Box

is going to become vanilla socks. :)

The yarn is Take Five sock yarn (75% superwash merino, 25% nylon) in the colourway Chocolate Box. I’m going to do stockinette stripes with chocolate toes, heels and cuffs. Yum!

I’ve also mastered managed magic loop knitting this week! My previous attempts were hindered by an unflexible and short cable. I ordered some KnitPro needles and they have a wonderfully flexible cable (I also love that it’s pink!) and I’m now confidently knitting magic loop. So confident in fact that I might even try to do my vanilla socks 2 at a time on one circular…

Bakti, Baktus’, Baktuser…

…whatever the plural of Baktus actually is, I have them.

The first one is in Fyberspates Space Dyed Sock Yarn in the colour Moss:

Baktus #1

I love how this yarn knitted up, it’s lovely and scrunchy and so warm. Plus, the colours look a lot better now than they did in the skein.

As there was only 300m of yarn it’s not a very large scarf, it’s more than enough to go round my neck but to tie it would be a little bit tight and I didn’t really like the look of that anyway. So I dug out the pattern for a flower from issue 36 of Rowan magazine, stuck a button in the middle, a pin on the back and voilà, a pretty broche:

Pretty baktus #1 flower

I really enjoyed the simple don’t-have-to-pay-attention knitting so I decided to make another Baktus, this time to go with my gloves and headwarmer that I’d knit using Twilleys of Stamford Freedom Spirit. Since I made the headwarmer using Calorimetry which is a ribbed pattern, I decided to make the Baktus ribbed too. So the pattern became:

Row 1: K1, yo (k2tbl for decreases), k to end
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: Purl
Row 4: Knit

Ribby Baktus

I have a love/hate relationship with this yarn. It has such gorgeous colours but it’s so loosely plied and it seems to unply itself even further as I knit. Very frustrating, especially when I stop to twist it up again and the yarn has unplied so much that it just breaks. However, I should point out that I made my Calorimetry with this yarn held double and I didn’t have that problem. In fact that Calorimetry has been worn LOTS and shoved unceremoniously into countless bags and pockets and it has shown hardly any wear; it’s amazing.

And for the final touch, here is pretty button flower take two:

Ribby Baktus flower

:)

Gothic Anastasia Delight

4ply Gothic Delight 80/20 is a combination of 20g of black yarn and 80g of violet streaked with black. I had no pattern in mind when I bought a skein but that was fine because 100g is plenty for a pair of socks. However, as I sat fondling admiring the yarn I realised that I didn’t want to make a regular pair of socks, I wanted to knit knee-high socks.

So one skein wouldn’t be enough. And it was sold out. And different hand-dye lots are never the same.

*headdesk*

So I bought another two skeins when it came back in stock. You can’t have too much of a good thing, right?

Gothic Delight

And look! I photographed purple yarn and it actually looks purple!

Since then I’ve been having fun trying to decide what exactly to do. I did some stockinette knee-highs last year and I’ve also started Rhiannon, a cabled knee-high. The stockinette pair shows off colours while the Rhiannon pair are very much about showing off the pattern. In this case I want to show off the colours more than a pattern but I don’t want the socks to be entirely plain.

I thought about having a small detail, a cable twisting up the back of the leg, or a zigzag or small lace panel. Then I remembered Anastasia. Anastasia is pattern with a simple lace stitch that spirals around the sock and is very adaptable to changing sizes. I can easily do wide repeats for the calf and narrower repeats for the foot. There’s a fair bit of stockinette so they’ll knit up quickly and show off the colour nicely.

Anastasia was also the first sock pattern I ever attempted, and unfortunately it really didn’t go so well. I used the wrong size needle for the yarn, I didn’t realise the sole of the sock should be stockinette and I didn’t notice the cream flecked stripes in the yarn before I started (I didn’t like them). Eventually I frogged, changed needles and knitted them up for my mum instead. Although it didn’t go well, it was great in some respects because I learned so much from them.

However, now that I’m at the swatching and planning stage I’m not entirely sure I will be knitting an Anastasia sock. The pattern is for toe up but I want to knit cuff down, it has a wrap and turn heel and I’m going to do either a heel flap or an afterthought heel, I’ll have to include decreases down the calf and I want to do a different cuff. So in construction terms it’ll be virtually unrecognisable when compared to the pattern but the finished sock will still look almost the same. I’m not sure whether to link to the pattern on Ravelry or just acknowledging where my inspiration came from.

Either way, I won’t be casting on immediately no matter how much I want to. In an attempt to get some WIP’s out the way I’m not letting myself cast on until I finish the second of my Popped sock. I only have the foot to go, I really really want to cast on for these socks! :)

Before, During and After in the Snow

I have a pretty finished project to show off today so this is a rather photo heavy post. The Kernel scarf I’ve been working on for the past week is finished, blocked and now draped around my neck! I really enjoyed the pattern, it’s very clearly written so anyone who can do basic lace stitches will be able to cope with this. The only mods I made were to cast on fewer stitches (39st) and do two extra repeats of the Kernel lace chart. I was concerned about yardage as I only had 360m (100g) of yarn but I finished with ~26g to spare (which will go into my sock blanket now!) :)

Pre-blocking, my ugly duckling measured 6″ wide and 45″ long:

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I didn’t block it too hard, I wanted to open up the lace but also ensure it had enough density to be warm. I blocked it out to 6.5″ wide and 67″ long:

DSC_1728

Then I had some fun with my camera. :)

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DSC_1732

It snowed a little last night and is still snowing on and off today but in between the showers it’s lovely and bright and I managed to get a couple of good pictures.

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Yes, I know. There’s no snow on the beach tree leaves, it had already melted by the time I got outside, but look here’s some snow!

DSC_1750

Finally, for those on Ravelry who are interested, my Ravelry project page is here.

Sock Innovation Revelation

Last week I visited my local library to pick up some books on teaching (I’m looking into teacher training) but of course I couldn’t resist looking in the knitting section as well. To my surprise, I found Cookie A’s Sock Innovation, which I quickly grabbed off the shelf.

I was expecting it to be good.

However, after reading just a couple of sections I’ve realised it’s not good at all, nope, it’s really, really good. The first section on sock construction and designing is fantastic. There is so much information and inspiration here. Right at the start Cookie A writes “I hope this book will enable knitters to take more control of their knitting.” and I think the first part of the book achieves exactly that.

Two patterns have jumped out at me as MUST KNIT. Firstly, Kai-Mei. I love how the pretty stitch pattern loops around from the side of the heel and when I read that the pattern’s namesake was also a physicist like me, well how could I resist? I haven’t got a suitable yarn at the moment though, so this one is going to have to wait in my queue.

The second pattern I really want to knit is Rick. A very neat and bold pattern which I think calls for a bright and bold yarn. Happily, I already have a yarn that fits that description and I’m sure it will be perfect for this:

4ply, BFL, semi solid orange

I also got this yarn last week:

4ply, BFL, Semi solid blue

It’s such a gorgeous colour and will also solve the problem of no blue socks in my drawer. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet (other than make socks!) but I’m thinking after reading through Cookie A’s section on sock designing I’ll be more than inspired to find something to do with the yarn. :)

Hot hot hot

I have to admit, I’m really quite chuffed with how my hot water bottle cover turned out. I love to use it! Pretty and soft and toasty warm on a cold night. It’s the perfect companion to take to bed. ;)

New hot water bottle cover

I found it quick to knit but that’s probably because I couldn’t wait to see the design in my head become a finished project. It was always ‘one more round’ or ‘one more pattern repeat’! Even if you’re not as eager as me, I don’t think it would take long to complete and the finishing is very minimal. I avoid sewing things up whenever possible so this is worked almost entirely in the round.

The pattern is almost written up, which I know I’ve said before but it turns out my notes on the neck opening aren’t as clear as I thought they would be when I wrote them a few weeks ago. I’m also going to include some tips and some guidelines on sizing as I doubt everyone will have the same sized hot water bottle as me. Then I shall turn it over into the capable hands of the testers. :)

Plummy Purple Pleasure

I first saw The Knitting Goddess’s 4 ply in semi solid plum when I bought a 10g skein for my sock blanket and I immediately decided that I would have to buy a full skein at some point, it was such a gorgeous colour. Later, when I actually had a skein in front of me I realised that it couldn’t possibly be made into socks. It needed to be shown off as a shawl, stole or scarf.

Many lace patterns later, I found Kernel and had that moment. You know, the one where you see a pattern and know instantly that it’s a perfect match for your yarn? Kernel is a lacey scarf with a little bit of bead work and I knew it would look georgeous in plum.

Kernal Plum Lace scarf

The lace isn’t much to look at right now but you can see the nice variation in the colour. Like several other people who have made this scarf I cast on 39 stitches rather than the 49 in the pattern. Partly because I didn’t want a really wide scarf and partly because I only have 360m of yarn to play with and I want it to go as far as possible. Un-blocked, it measures 6″ wide.

The pattern is fairly easy, at least so far. I have a feeling the grafting part later on might prove to be a little less straightforward. I’ve done grafting before but not on anything that needs to be blocked like lace work does so getting the tension right will require a bit more care. But I have many more lace repeats before I have to worry about that. :)

A Very Long Term Project

One square at a time this sock yarn blanket has been slowly growing for about 8 months now and is roughly a third done. I’m currently thinking 33 strips with a solid colour border of some kind, but who knows, I may make it bigger.

Sock Blanket

I decided to make two identical halfs which I’ll join them together with a single strip in the middle. This reduces the number of colours choices I make, because while it might seem random I do carefully choose which colour comes next. I try to avoid too many solid colours coming together and too many dark or light colours getting grouped together. I also have a colour theme of purples and pinks. There’s a lot of different colours but each square has at least a little bit of purple or pink.

I hope it won’t take me another 16 months to finish, but it’s a nice project to keep coming back to. :)