Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Watch This Space...

Swallowtail is blocking!

No photos though until I can do the arty window shot :-D

Monday, January 29, 2007

Monday Musings

On Muses

Last night my muse hit me. Right between the eyes. I tossed and turned for hours as ideas flooded my brain and I tried to decide whether it was worth going in search of pen and paper (I've always been of the 'I’m sure I'll remember this in the morning' club).

It's funny how you don't really choose when inspiration is going to come to you. Perhaps it was the result of a bit of successful spinning or the patchy sunshine we’ve had over the last few days. Whatever it was, by 2am I'd decided that no way was I going to call in for daily supply today. Apart from the obvious draw-backs of the lack of sleep, there is an inherant risk when coming in contact with young children in the classroom that all inspirational thought will be firmly squashed and beaten by the end of the day.

So here I am at home actually writing a book. Who would have thought it.

One day I’ll be a famous author and will never have to go supply teaching again :-)

Ciao, Diane

Last week's Monday Musings


Sunday, January 28, 2007


A long chain (sorry) of events yesterday all seemed to flow towards one ultimate conclusion - I crocheted a scarf.

It started with the arrival in the shop of Jan Eaton, author of several crochet and knitting books and unofficial crochet expert at Stash on a Saturday. She had been clearing out and had brought along for our classroom a pile of bits and pieces including a bag of crochet hooks.

A customer came in and happened to ask me about a technique from one of Jan's books, I waved her in Jan's direction and then furtively followed behind so I could listen in.

I then decided that I really had to unpull the one-skein sample scarf I'd made in Koigu as I never really liked it - any excuse to play with Koigu - and decided maybe I could crochet it this time. A bit of help from the expert and I was on my way.

See how it's coming together?... It may have ended there except that we were visiting Neil's sister for the afternoon and since she was confined to the flat after a knee reconstruction so were we for the duration of the visit. Afternoon became evening and pizza and I crocheted happily away through Star Trek and kitten-watching. Until suddenly I was almost out of yarn.

"Um... can I borrow your internet for a minute?" google 'crochet ruffle edgings', back to the couch.

Meanwhile, Neil was itching to get back to his computer (the kitten was asleep and the movie over and he didn't have any Koigu to play with) so I agreed to leave. Due to dodgy weekend tube service I finished the ruffles on the train and darned in the ends while waiting for a change. Blocked last night and thanks to the heating which we can't seem to turn down, dry this morning.

And here it is: The One-day One-skein One-der
Sometime I'll have a go at crochet pattern language and try and write it up for you :-)

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Friday, January 26, 2007

[sl2, p3tog, psso] 208 times

Have finished the nupps *dances around the room*

I have only the 20-something rows of border to do and then I get to block

Trying to stretch out lace knitting to get a good look at it makes me realise several distinct advantages to being an octopus. In fact - imagine how much knitting I could get done if I were an octopus (cooooooool!) anyone know where I can buy octopus arms?

Here is Swallowtail (less a couple of inches knitted since I took the photo):

And here, a glimpse of what it may look like after a good hard blocking (due to lack of octopuses Michelle had to lend a hand):

At this rate, if the weather stays bad and we continue to experience the current lack of customers to interrupt me, I hope to be finished early next week :-D

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Cafe Curtains

I’m finding it very difficult to photograph these socks effectively so you’ll just have to trust me. The lace pattern is very easy, and looks just a little like café curtains pulled back prettily on either side of a window.

Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, shown in colour ‘Lakeview’. I used one skein for small socks with a shortish cuff, allow two if you want longer socks.
9 sts/inch in stocking stitch

yf – yarn forward as if to purl; yb – yarn back as if to knit; yo – yarn over; ssk – slip next two stitches kwise, return to left needle and k2tog through back loops;

Lace pattern is worked over 8 stitches and 8 rounds.
Round 1 and all odd rounds: *k7, p1* rpt to end
Round 2: *k2tog, k2, yo, k1, yo, ssk, p1* rpt to end
Round 4: *k2tog, k1, yo, k4, p1* rpt to end
Round 6: *k2tog, yo, k1, yo, k2, ssk, p1* rpt to end
Round 8: *k4, yo, k1, ssk, p1* rpt to end

Cast on 64 stitches and join into the round, being careful not to twist.
Work p2, k2 rib for 8 rounds.
Commence pattern, work 8 rows of patt rpt 5 times or until cuff is desired length.
Work heel over next 32 stitches, placing remaining stitches on holder or spare needles.
Each yf or yb at the beginning of a row creates a yarn-over pair. These are knitted together at the end of the short rows to create a neat finish without holes.

Row 1: k to last stitch, turn
Row 2: yb p1, p to last stitch, turn
Row 3: yf k1, k to next yo pair, turn
Row 4: yb p1, p to next yo pair, turn
Repeat rows 3 and 4 until 11 stitches remain between the yo pairs.
To complete heel:
Row 1: yf k1, k to next yo pair, k 1st stitch of pair, slip next yo pwise and slip first stitch of next pair kwise, return slipped stitches to left needle and k2togtbl
Row 2: yb p1, p to next yo pair, p 1st stitch of pair, p2tog (next yo and 1st stitch of next pair)
Row 3: yf k1, k to next yo pair, k 1st stitch of pair, slip next 2 yos pwise and slip first stitch of next pair kwise, return slipped stitches to left needle and k3togtbl
Row 4: yb p1, p to next yo pair, p 1st stitch of pair, p3tog (next 2 yos and 1st stitch of next pair)
Repeat rows 3 and 4 until the final k3togtbl, there will still be yarn-overs at the other end of the needle.

Recommence working in the round.
Next round: patt 32 sts (top of foot), k3tog, k to last stitch, p1.
Continue working pattern on top of foot and stocking stitch on sole. To balance pattern purl last stitch of sole stiches in each row. Continue until sock is within 2 inches of toe.

Work short-row toe over stitches on top of foot, leaving sole stitches on a holder. Work as for heel until the final k3togtbl, there will still be yarn-overs at the other end of the needle, turn.
Next row: p to last three stitches, p3tog
Break yarn and graft seam using kitchener stitch. Darn in ends.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

News Hour

So much to catch up on - where do I start??

Firstly: have I mentioned that Amanda is awesome! In the middle of nesting, making bootees and generally being 9 months pregnant - which should be enough for anyone - she still managed to send me my box of Knit Picks Options, which I had shipped to her house, AND the coolest Christmas presents :-) The box was delivered to my work and I didn't have the camera with me so no pics of the lovely wrapping which Amanda always takes care over - I just ripped it all open in 2 minutes flat!

Clockwise: My KnitPicks in their folder - these are awesome and Amanda sent me extra cables so I can now have a million projects on the needles without ever running out :-D candles, chocolate mix, hand-made stitch markers and scissors dangly, SOCKS THAT ROCK!!! Woohoo, I love this yarn. And there is so much of it in the skein I'm thinking maybe a scarf or something. I could easily make two pairs of socks if I wanted to. In the middle of the pic is the sweetest little ceramic teabag dish and squeezers, and some Christmas flavoured teabags, yum!! There were some other useful bits but they are in my knitting bag, hard at work.

Thank you so much Amanda :-) I love everything! I hope you and baby girl are doing well Can't wait to see some pics so I'm haunting your blog :-)

* * *
In knitting news, I have broken my yarn diet and my one-at-a-time rule and cast on the Swallowtail Shawl. My excuse? It's Koigu. For those of you who have used Koigu, no further explanation is needed. If you've never tried it - get out there and buy some! It is divine. Gorgeous. Pure Luxury. I have even seriously contemplated unpulling things I have knitted out of this yarn so I can have the pleasure of knitting it again. It is pretty tough on the old purse though, so make it a special knit. People have used it for socks but as Bronte says: Koigu is too nice to put on your feets. I expect to use three skeins for the shawl but have a fourth on standby just in case.

The silk lace has been reinvented as a Flower Basket shawl - with beads. No way was I unstringing all those beads. They are now, by the way, conveniently spaced along the first couple of hundred yards of yarn as I left them exactly where they were when I frogged. It saves a lot of time when you don't have to regulalry stop and move them along.

I finished two pairs of socks for myself recently:

Yarn: Fleece Artist, colour 'burgundy' Pattern: Bluebell rib from SKS, toe-up with the Zimmerman 'sewn bind-off'. Being a toe-up gal I am still searching for the perfect cast-off. This is not too bad: It takes a while and is basically impossible to undo, which could be a pain, but is seriously stretchy and this is the first pair of toe-up socks I don't have to put on carefully. I will probably continue to cast off this way until I find a better method.

'Cafe Curtains' (need a close-up of the pattern really)

Yarn: Lorna's Laces, colour 'Lakeview'. Pattern: My own - I've had some requests so hope to have it up here in the next few days.

Wrapping up the WIPs, I have finished one of Neil's oh-so-boring socks and will need to find a suitable movie/TV series on DVD to get me through the other one :-)

Here is the progress update on Anemoi, I am still loving this project but it is such an anti-social knit, requiring serious concentration, that it tends to get left on the shelf. Maybe I'll kick Neil out to the pub tonight and put in some hard yards :-D

Your turn now! What have you been up to?

Ciao, Diane

Friday, January 19, 2007

Very Slack

Terribly sorry I haven't been posting lately - I could pretend I have been desperately busy but really it's just the miserable grey weather and general slackness :-/

Stay tuned this weekend for:
- Photos of the awesome Christmas presents I received from Amanda
- News of the latest WIPs (I have only been slack about posting - not knitting!)
- A new sock pattern
- An early Musings perhaps...

Of course, if the sun comes out I reserve the right to go out and sunbathe for a couple of hours. Although perhaps in a thick coat, not a knitted bikini ;-)

Ciao, Diane

Thursday, January 11, 2007


It's not quite front-page international news, but some of you may have heard that parts of Australia are burning down. One of the major fire fronts is about 20km from my parents' farm and they have been on alert for weeks. It is hard to understand what it is like there right now as I shiver in the greyness of London's winter, but reports of Christmas spent close to home, late-night calls to spot-fires and my older brother spending most of his holiday visit clearing scrub, help to bring the picture to life.

Mild weather in the last few weeks has been gratefully received as it allows for back-burning. Local firefighters, including members of my family, are able to operate controlled burns to reduce fuel and slow the progress of the fires. Mum has also been 'back-burning' in the house: cleaning out cupboards and reducing stashes of anything flammable to minimise the risk of losing the farmhouse.

It came to me today that, strangely, I am doing a bit of back-burning myself. Although not threatened by such dire need as those at home, I found myself towards the end of last year needing a bit of relief from the attacking forces of too many knitting projects. When you start a new knit almost every week, sometimes more than one, you NEVER get anything finished. That's not fun. So I put myself on a yarn diet. No new yarn means no fuel for the WIP fires. I can finish what I've started, knit up some of my stash, and clear the decks ready for new beginnings later on.

Maybe you're back-burning too: did you make a diet resolution? Did you throw out all the crisps/cookies/chocolate/soft yummy cheeses lurking in your pantry? Back-burning!

Good luck with your New Year's resolutions, especially those of you who didn't need to make any! And please send a prayer my mum's way this week.

Ciao, Diane

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Year of the Steek

In her list of New Year's Resolutions Bronte announced she was going to try steeking. Of course, I rose to the bait and said I'd keep her company.

Then this arrived in the mail yesterday:

It's brilliant! Excellent advice about colour, pattern design and ... steeks!

Obviously it's a sign - so I promise that sometime this year I will cut a steek.

I have actually already purchased the yarn for a project for Nathalie's baby - I wanted to do Fair Isle but was too scared to do anything requiring steeking so I found a no-cut pattern. Do I change my mind and leap straight in at the deep end? Or finish this one first and maybe practise chopping up my knitting on something a little less precious????

Tell me your steek stories :-)


Monday, January 01, 2007

Monday Musings

Lesson One: Following a Pattern

Last week I knitted Fetching. Kind of. As I picked up my needles I thought "Good - a well written pattern, I can knit from beginning to end without any maths, adjustments or in fact, thinking.

As I cast on I caught myself thinking: I wonder if this would work with an Italian cast-on...

As I knitted the cuff I caught myself thinking: I don't really like my mitts long - maybe I'll stop at 12 rows...

Having reached the thumb I caught myself thinking: I really do prefer gusset-increase to an afterthought thumb...

And I left off the picot edging.

I can read a pattern, I can even write a pretty fair pattern. But somehow, I can't bring myself to follow a written pattern word for word, beginning to end. As soon as I start I find myself tweaking here and adjusting there. Four rows more, two stitches less, in the round rather than flat, toe-up instead of cuff-down. I think this is why I spend rather more of my time thinking about knitting, and frogging my knitting rather than actually knitting.

Somewhere out there is a pattern which I will follow stitch for stitch. In the meantime, I keep my notebook handy and spend much time examining socks - trying to figure out what I did to the first one so I can attempt to knit a second which matches.

Ciao :-)

Last week's Monday Musings