Wednesday, November 29, 2006

On a Roll

Well I've done two of the secret fair-isled thingummys now and the second one was a lot better. Greater contrast in yarn and looser stranding proved to be the key.

Am about to cast on for the third and see no signs of stopping anytime soon. If you know me, you're probably getting one for Christmas :-D

Ciao, Diane

Monday, November 27, 2006

Monday Musings

A Challenge

Last week a customer was lured into the shop by the Feza scarf sample we had in the window. After I explained that it wasn't for sale and, no, we didn't knit to order for customers, I suggested she might knit one herself: "It's really easy, just garter stitch"

"Oh no, I could never knit"

I didn't know whether to fall over or cry.

Today I chatted to a teacher aide who spends every Tuesday afternoon (successfully) teaching year one children to knit. And here was a fully-grown, intelligent-looking woman completely writing off knitting. I could NEVER knit. I could never KNIT.

Maybe she really meant "I am perfectly happy in my bubble and don't need to learn anything new." Okay, perhaps that's a bit mean - maybe she's really busy, but NEVER????

I consider myself now a pretty competent knitter. Luckily, I learnt at a very young age from a highly skilled mother.


A little over a year ago I had never knit socks.
Six months ago I was too scared to try lace.
Two months ago I had never done a heel flap.
Two weeks ago I couldn't knit continental style.

At the moment I am learning how to two-colour strand. Because I need to learn new things. I couldn't imagine not learning anything new after leaving school. Wouldn't it get really really boring? And how would I ever reach the point where I can design my own traditional Fair-Isle Norwegian sweater with steeks and tubular cast-ons and a cool pewter clasp? (Really I just want it for the pewter clasps)

So I am issuing a challenge. To all you readers who haven't tried anything new for a while: Take the plunge. It only has to be a swatch, or maybe a sock, or cables on a beanie. Branch out and get inspired by something you've always meant to try and never got around to. Leave a comment with your plans and in three weeks we will regroup and you can let us all know how it went :-)

I will be doing this too. I solemnly promise, sometime in the next three weeks I will try ....

Can you guess - my Achilles' heel! A small prize for the first person to post the answer in comments (Mum you don't count and no spilling the beans either!)

C-Day is Dec 18th 'C' for celebration, or maybe confessions ;-) send me a piccie and I'll post it here.

Have Fun!

Last week's Monday Musings


Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Lady is a Tramp

I have to admit to a little fling on the side. This one I'm pretty sure will be short, barely more than a one night stand, but I confess, my morals may be in question.

I blame it all on Eunny and Cazza. The sleepless nights, the scribbled pages of graph paper, the hungry search for books and tutorials on colourwork.

Oooh that looks pretty...

Oooh I have a great idea for Christmas presents...

Oooh I get to play with pretty Koigu colours...

A blink of an eye and I am a fallen woman.

I am treating the colourwork as a learning experience. I don't see myself ever becoming as obsessed as I am with lace. It has grabbed my attention for the moment, but once the Koigu is all gone and the Christmas gifts are wrapped, I think I will put it away.

I decided to go for the two-handed method, I have done a little fair isle using strand-changing and wasn't impressed with the look of the back or with how tangled the yarns got. Recently a Danish customer showed me how to knit continental-style, I found I could easily do it by holding the yarn as I do for crochet (incorrect according to my teacher but I wasn't fussed). So I applied the same method to the colourwork - hey, not too hard!

Here's an action shot: My left middle finger is chopped off but imagine the lighter yarn going over it.

What I am finding difficult is the tension when stranding. I finished the first Christmas present, I wasn't completely happy with the tension but blocking helped a lot. The inconsistencies are barely noticeable now. The next one around I will aim to do it more loosely.

The other revelation, which had me frogging colourwork all Friday night (after 3-4 hours I had nix on the needles), is contrast. I drew up my own simple charts and knitted away only to discover that A) Koigu on 2.5mm needles produces TINY stitches and B) you can't see a tiny stitch pattern when the two yarns don't contrast enough. I changed the pattern and achieved a nice result in the end. This time round I have upped the contrast and am trying the tiny pattern again.

The whole present thing means I can't show many progress pics sorry, but eventually the pattern will be up with any tips I manage to glean in the process :-)

Ciao, Diane

Monday, November 20, 2006

Monday Musings

A Love Affair

Think of lace.

Of shimmering, silken lace.

Of silken lace with the sparkle of tiny crystal beads.

Just recently, I have fallen in love with lace. A consuming passion which devours my time as I discover new patterns, new swatches, new yarns. I spend countless hours online, reading blogs and tutorials. Gazing at galleries of finished shawls and hungrily watching auctions of coned cobweb-weight cashmere on ebay. I dream of winding around myself a gauzy, floating wrap and imagine tracing with my fingers the trailing vines and intricate patterns of a crisply blocked stole.

I have set myself a limit. One lace project at a time. One shawl, or stole, one pattern. And yet that doesn't stop me in my feverish creativity. Planning, scribbling ideas, buying books, lying awake at night thinking about this new love of mine. Next time, with that yarn from my stash, with that laceweight I am tracking on ebay, with that new design, I will make lace.

But this shawl is to be finished first. As I thread beads I visualise the final article. The luxuriant drape of the silk, the elusive sparkle of just a few pale beads, that wonderous moment when the shawl is blocked and the pattern revealed for the first time. This is a project I know I will enjoy from beginning to end. From the first few stitches cast on to the glory of blocking and finally, hopefully, the look of pleasure in the recipient's eyes as it is unwrapped from its tissue bindings.

Last week's Monday Musings


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Mmmmm... Cakey goodness :-P

Yesterday was Cake Day at Angel Yarns and a great time was had by all.

Oh the cake!

Neil travelled all the way to Brighton with me just for that cake and by the look on his face it was worth it.

I didn't get any photos of the cake, Bertie ate it all :-D

I was vewy vewy good, and only bought a little bit of stash. Did I mention I am a complete sucker for anything with silk in it. Also I seem to have developed a serious lace habit.

Here's a piccy:

The laceweight is for a shawl for me, original design. The Country Silk, colour 'eggplant' is for the beret in Louisa Harding's 'Hats, Gloves, Scarves' which I have been searching for the perfect yarn for for a while.

On another front, I have thought of a way to keep the nasty WIPs list under control. As I can't bear the thought of knitting ONE thing at a time (ick - need variation) I have decided to go for the 'Categories' method. In a nutshell, I will only allow myself to knit one thing from each of four categories: Socks, lace, garments and gifts. That means I need to do something about the four pairs of socks currently in my sidebar...

Neil didn't approve my theory. "What's to stop you from creating a whole new category every time you want to knit something? Like the blue-alpaca-cardigans category."

Sigh. You guys will just have to keep a close eye on me.

Ciao :-)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Spotted in Paris

Two things I just had to share:

'La Tricoteuse' at the Musee d'Orsay. She is knitting on dpns! Maybe a stocking - it looks too long to be a sock but is quite wide - perhaps the top of a stocking.

And this wonderful creation, crochet sculpture? In a shop window in a very snobby part of town all among the Gucci bags. Price tag €392. Gulp! I'm obviously in the wrong business.

Au revoir!

Monday Musings

Needles on the Move

"That's the first knitting you've done all weekend" said Neil as she drew her sock from its cosy sock bag while they waited at Gare du Nord. "I knitted on the train from London," "yes but you haven't done any while we've been here"

I have obviously trained him well. To him, it is now perfectly natural that I will pull out some knitting any time I can get a quiet seat.

My blog title grew from the prospect of travel around Europe. I had visions of us trekking all over by train, bus and bicycle and saw myself knitting my way around the continent, sock by sock (socks travel best being small and generally pattern-less). This has not been far from the truth so far. I knitted on the train to Cambridge and when we went to Stockport and Chester. I knitted all weekend when we visited rellies and had long conversations about knitting of the past on both sides. I see no reason why my knitting will not follow me on all future trips.

I am not, however, planning to spend all my holidays with my nose stuck to my needles. I can't knit while gazing around - except for the plainest stocking stitch - and I don't see why I would go all the way to Moscow to look at a sock instead of whatever it is you go to Moscow to look at. Perhaps those keen knitters who take several projects and spend all their time tracking down knitting shops have less busy holidays planned. Perhaps they, unlike me, can knit while climbing the seven hundred stairs of the Eiffel Tower. I did visit one yarn shop in Paris but we were going down that street anyway. Really.

I will take my knitting all over Europe, and I will probably look on those travel-knitted socks fondly in the future and think "ahhh, that was the train to Milan". But however much it may surprise my well-trained husband, while the camera is in my hand, the knitting will probably be in my suitcase.

Last week's Monday Musings


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Have finished a WIP!

I managed to delete one WIP from the list - as the cold snap whistled through last week Neil started bugging me for his scarf so I made it a priority for a couple of days. However, as you may have noticed, the list is not, in fact, shorter but longer :-( There's something about sitting all day surrounded by beautiful yarn ...

I did manage to finish something else - it never made it to the list as it was started and off the needles in only two days of frantic my-ears-are-really-cold knitting. It is a cloche style hat in Lorna's Laces Swirl DK. I had lots of fun with developing the pattern and inventing a border. Sorry, I haven't got around to taking photos yet but I will have it up soon and the pattern will follow shortly after. Here's a taster while you wait ...

Here are a couple of the things from the ever-expanding list:

A store sample in Koigu using the cool Dream Swatch from Knit and Tonic. I love the colours! The pattern is fiddly but fun and I definitely recommend it. (Store samples don't count as wip's right? Nathalie's making me do encouragement from me at all...)

And here is the latest sock - look, HEEL FLAP! Yes, I am finally doing a heel-flap :-) I'm hoping this sock will stretch as it's a bit tight at only 54 sts on 2.5 mm needles. But it was a nine-stitch pattern repeat so what do you do .... maybe my feet could go on a diet ....

I tried to put up a photo of the shrug as well but all four pictures were blurry so I gave up. You'll just have to imagine it :-D

Ciao ;-)