Monday, August 27, 2007

Time has caught up

and it is now the end of the bank holiday weekend. I have really loved having that extra day of work and I wish it happenned every week - four day working week, 3 day weekend - perfect!

Anyway.... what have we been up to.

was gorgeous - hot and sunny thanks no doubt to lots of knitting mojo and people casting on heavy winter woolies. H decided that it was just too nice to spend all day sat in the garden and suggested a trip to Upton House - one of our favourite local places.

The house is lovely if a little quirky but it's the garden we go for. From the house the garden looks like this
August 2007 003
(prostrate husband an optional extra) but can you see that ledge where the people are picnicking? If you stand there then look what you can see:

The whole garden falls away in terraces and it's stunning. We sauntered down,
August 2007 032
strolled around the lake
August 2007 039
and even met some local wildlife
August 2007 040
August 2007 017
it also seemed the perfect place to introduce the current sock-in-progress to a giant gunnera - and what sock is complete without such an introduction!
Leaves and gunnera

time for some knitting content - I have proudly finished a jumper for a one armed person!!
Okay okay I've finished one sleeve and still have the other and the button bands to go. I am still most enchanted with the cardigan and when not being knit it sits in my corner of the sofa to keep me company.

"not being knit on!!" I hear you cry - never fear I now have not one but TWO embossed leaves socks:
Leaves left footLeaves Right foot

I can't show you both in the hebe at the same time - I don't bend like that! Can you spot them here?
Embossed Leaves
Many many people have waxed lyrical about this sock pattern and it is rather clever - particulalry the way the toe shaping finishes off the last two leaves. I'm not so wild about the cast on or the heel shaping (it involves cutting the yarn and starting at a corner) but they fit well and are very cosy and with my own amendments I would certainly make them again. I'm currently deciding on the next pair to hit the DPNs so watch this space.

My activities today could only happen in rural England. We went to a scarecrow festival in Barford, a little village not too far from us. There were over 60 scarecrows and I could crash everyone's computers with the piccies but instead I've picked a few favourites and if you like a giggle I strongly recommend popping over to my Flickr page to see the rest. We went planning to spend about 1 hour pottering round and were there for 3 1/2!!
The Baachanalian
The Good Shepherd
Allotment Friends
And finally I can also report a bit of progress on Foxglove - it is marginally bigger than last time. I've popped in a photo really for colour than anything else - this is the nice simple stocking stitch part of the pattern before I cross over to the dark side for the flowers!
I hope you all had wonderful weekends - same again next year?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A silver lining

I'm blogging from work and yes you did read the time correctly (ouch!). The downside to a train commute (the plus obviously being knitting time) is that at this time of night if you just miss a train it's a bit of a wait until the next one comes along. I've got everything ready for tomorrow I think... (small pause while I remember to send an e-mail) ... and now I'm playing with the bloggysphere for a bit.

The plus at the moment is that there is a simply spectacular sunset going on outside and if I push back my chair a bit I can see it over the skyline of the city all orangy pinky purple - is that a silver lining?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Swan Lake - the photo shoot

At this point in the proceedings I would love to be able to show you pictures of the Swan Lake stole (no longer a mystery) delicately floating over various garden plants, hanging from the bough of a tree overlooking some fields and a golden sunset or perhaps suspended on the balcony railings at my parents' house with that view as a backdrop.

However; I live in Warwickshire which is (a) in England and (b) a long way from the Westcountry. Accordingly at the time of said photo shoot it was (a) raining and (b) raining and (c) dark.

The photographer (H) was prized away from playing his guitar only to the extent of picking up the camera, the guitar stayed on his lap and therefore all photos have a slightly 'uphill' angle. I am tall but I'm not so tall that my husband has to crane his neck to take a picture of me.

Enough procrastination - I know you're here to see the pictures so without further ado I present:
MS3 039
Swan lake as modelled by moi, and
MS3 042
the ubiquitous (and rather appropriate) wing span shot:

Or at least as much of the wing span as we could fit in the picture - as you can see, I have been outspanned! As always the lace magic has done its trick and the stole is both huge and beautiful - the wing in particular and even though it is not the most practical garment for every day wear I love it and I only took it off last night to cook - spag bol does not mix with white lace.

Hmm - the lace addiction has set in well and truly!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A rainy Sunday afternoon

Today has felt autumnal in that snuggle down under a blanket, knit warm things and eat comforting spag bol kind of a way. I am reliably informed by my northern translators that the weather for today is "dreek". Well you can guess what I did today!!

Actually today's story should probably start with a rainy Saturday evening - H was out with some work colleague who were staying with us so I had the evening to myself and I had planned to do something about Kauni but as with the best of plans, we overslept, spent most of the afternoon sorting out the house and doing the usual Saturday chores and when you have guests in the house it really isn't the best time to start steeking. That and J was staying in my sewing room!

Ok, ok I'm sure you believe my reasoned prevarication so far but the canny among you will know that there is one more reason for the delay; Mystery Stole 3.
Finished Saturday evening and boy did those last few rows take a while. This is the unblocked state and you can finally get a feeling for the finished article.

This morning I had no such excuses - MS3 was finished and just needed blocking so surely now I could think about those steeks. But the problem with finishing one project is it inspires a bout of finishingitis which is particularly catching when you have an almost finished sock on the needles and you are the slightly obsessive sort of person who likes to finish a sock each week. (On a complete tangent that means I might knit 26 pairs of socks a year - I've knit 14 pairs so far this year including two pairs of knee highs so I'm going well!). Needless to say I now have 1 finished embossed leaves sock - and very comfy it is too.
Embossed Leaves
So those steeks - I knew I'd never get away with hiding from them again but I did have one more job to do first - blocking the Mystery Stole, this time with blocking wires - or rather "light garden wire" from Homebase:
MS3 and Wire
Once you have unravelled the coil and pulled it through your fingers a few times it straightens out really well. The stole had a little soak and was then threaded onto the wire through the YOs around the edges and it is wonderful how few pins you need to block a nice straight edge. I have pulled out each of the feathers on the wing to a point and it looks wonderful. The only problem is that as it is fine white lace my pictures of the stole blocking on pale coloured towels are remarkable only for their uninteresting nature - better piccies when the stole and I meet in daylight!

I have to say my fear of the steeks and the reason for putting it off until the weekend was not really a fear of cutting my knitting - lots of Norwegians make sweaters by cutting them, there is no reason to suppose mine will be any different - and more to do with a fear of my sewing machine eating the knitting!

Suitably bolstered by copious amounts of chocolate and with H on hand to mop up the tears if all went wrong I set up the equipment:
Steeks 3
I planned on practicing on the swatch but I couldn't find it so I did a dry run on an old Alpaca swatch - I sewed:
Steeks 2
And steeked:
Steeks 1
An the world did not come to an end so I ventured onto the real thing.
I would love to say that it all went (dare I say it) seamlessly but the machine did have a valiant effort at sewing about 20 sts all at once into the same bit of knitting after the bobbin had a little paddy and I had to rip out one protective seam and do over. It isn't the best stitching in the world but it will hold.
After all of that actually cutting an armhole was a walk in the park and we are all set up ready to go again - must get a shorter circ though.
So far the steek I have cut seems to be holding up well - it is a little fluffy round the edges of the cut as it passes through my fingers but as the sleeves lengthen I will be leaving the steek well alone and it's nothing major.

More progress will be revealed as it happens.

PS I cast on for Foxglove! - bad and unfaithful knitter

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Veni, vidi, hiding from steeki

The steeks are officially waiting for the weekend. In the meantime I have finished pretty things:
New England 002
The first is my variation on Nancy Bush's New England Socks. The pattern as written calls for 2mm needles and is to fit a foot circumference of 7.5inches. I need a bit more than that so I shifted up to 2.5mm needles to make the sock a little larger. I stuck with the required 70st cast on but decreased to 65st for the foot to make it nice and snug. With 6 pattern repeats it all fits beautifully and I am very pleased with the result.

The Jitterbug is incredibly soft and squishy and the multicolours don't detract too much from the pattern. For those with queries about the yardage - this is how much you get from one skein:
New England
As you can see I only needed a little bit more to finish the foot and toe so if you had small feet and didn't mind a shorter cuff you could make 1 skein stretch to fit.

The other spurt of finishingitis produced this:
Mystery Stole 3 Clue 6. I'm now on tenterhooks waiting for the final clue on Friday which I think will be some sort of edging to the wing and then I get to play lace magic.

The conflict will come in choosing whether to finish off MS3 and then steek, or steek knowing that MS3 is compatible with weekday knitting - it may well just turn into a marathon knitting weekend - gosh what a shame!

In the meantime I have a new project on the needles - the Embossed Leaves socks from Favourite Socks. I've only done the cuff so at the moment it looks like a small green caterpillar. Also hovering in the background is Foxglove - I might try to swatch for it sometime this week, only time will tell!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Playing catch up

Suffice to say that sufficient time has now passed from the weekend to allow me to catch my breath and give a little update for oh yes, life has been busy chez ours.

I think when I last left off I was curled up in a ball feeling very sorry for myself and I'm happy to report that matters started to improve over the weekend. This was a good thing as this weekend marked the momentous occasion of (as my father said), "two down, none to go".

He was of course talking of his most beloved daughters, neither of whom is his responsibility any more as my little sister Zee became Mrs W. Hopefully she and my new little brother (who will understand completely why his blog nickname is Daniel!!) will not mind me sharing a couple of photos of the happy occasion:

The bride and groom looked radiant all day
We prooved that sisters do not look alike (NB - apparently we have similar ears but you can't see it in the photos - that's the only similarity anyone appears to be able to find in the pair of us!); and that aunts cannot be relied upon to identify their 6' niece from a choice of two bridesmaids - one of whom is 5'6" (although admitedly Zee's other bridesmaid looks a lot more like her)
And at the end of it all a very tired Matron of Honour kicked off her shoes in the sunshine. This is my parents' balcony and that view isn't a backdrop - you can only imagine how hard it was to tear ourselves away and come back to work on Monday.

So..... knitting .... I'm sure someone is reading this thinking that there must be knitting somewhere in all these plans and sure enough their was: Kauni's tube body is finished.

The further advantage of being at the parents is a whole new variety of flowers to drape knitwear all over. (I thought they'd never notice until we gave Dad our camera memory card to copy the pictures of the wedding and he got a whole load of Kauni/his flowers!):


And some different flowers:


I am afraid to report that the steeking is still waiting to be done and will probably wait until this weekend as I don't want to rush things and if I sat down on an evening I know I would be tired and make mistakes - you can only cut once!

In the meantime I'm knitting up a mystery stole storm as the last clue is due on Friday and I'm loving the lace

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Socky pal ooooooooooo!!

This morning as I sat downstairs I heard the postman pushing something exciting sounding through the letter box. Sadly it turned out to be one of those charity donation bags BUT - outside on the doorstep was this:
Sockpalooza 002
Which quickly became this:
Sockpalooza 004
And was revealed to be my wonderful sockpalooza package from the sadly blogless Gloria. And the contents....

Sockpalooza 005
Well - wonderful socks in Regia bamboo which fully satisfy my inner colour junkie and are perfect for the warmer weather. Can you believe these are Gloria's first attempt at toe up socks - they are brilliant - and she managed to get a loose enough cast off which is always the thing that daunts me about toe up socks.
Sockpalooza 008
With that a postcard of Michigan, the cutest little jumper key chain and a pretty ceramic pot to keep my stitchmarkers and other odds and ends that H keeps standing on in. I feel totally spoiled - thank you very much Gloria.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Knit knit knit

Is all I appear to be fit for today as the summer cold that has been circulating through the office air conditioning has finally caught up with me so today has been spent dozing, reading (more on that later) and playing with Kauni along with my constant companions!
Kauni 025
Kauni is still behaving very nicely and as always the advantage of a sweater knit in the round is that you can try it on as you go...
Kauni 011
On the good side I am now past the armholes
Kauni 012
and the front neck shaping
Kauni 019
but on the down side it means I must now come face to face with the fact that I have to take a pair of scissors to my knitting. At the rate I'm going I anticipate the deed (at least for one of the armholes) taking place over the weekend or possibly early next week. Suitable amounts of alcohol and ice cream will be brought in for the purpose.

I'm still entranced by the pretty colour changes - the colour repeats are not always the same length so I've not actually had a true band repeat yet which is fantastic.
Kauni 023
There has been much discussion across the bloggysphere about the merits and challenges of getting matching sleeves. For the moment I think I will probably go with deliberately mis-matched sleeves - the only way I can think of to get truly matching sleeves would be to knit them seperately as a giant tube with two steeks and the seam and sew them in - otherwise if you didn't start in quite the right place - and there are no clear colour changes - I just know I'd end up slightly out and it would bug me far more than being deliberately different - let me know what you think.

As I said, the rest of my time has been spent playing with new books - the new Rowan is out as are the new RYC books and I have acquired both Accessories and Travel. Whilst all three have the usual batch of comedy projects, there are a few things to add to my "must knit" list including a gorgeous wrap top in the Accessories book made from RYC wool silk DK - yum!

I have to go cough now - try not to catch the bug through the internet!

PS News from Peggy - she likes the sheep

Monday, August 06, 2007

At long last

[NB this post has MS3 Spoilers in it. If you don't want to know what the theme is then come back later]

We have had a wonderful true day of summer - it may well be the only one by the looks of the grey cloud currently filing my small square of sky (I'm at work and it's Monday - can you tell?) - but yesterday was a brilliant 28/29C and not a cloud in the sky.

As befits such a gem we quickly abandonned all pretence of doing anything serious and gave over to the pleasures of sitting in the sunshine.

And what should a girl do when sitting in the sunshine? ...... Knit of course.

I have been rather hiding from the internet since Friday when the theme and latest Mystery Stole clue was published as I was some way from finishing the long clue and I didn't want to spoil the surprise.

Mid-afternoon yesterday I had reached here:
MS3 030
Or here if you like these flowers better:
MS3 032
The surprise was well worth the wait - the theme is Swan Lake and the final section of the stole is a "wing" to sweep round at the end of the stole. There is always the option to repeat the first section and have two matching halves but I'm all game for the wing and the lace pattern in it is lovely and feathery.

Chart G gives you this:
MS3 034
And chart H (finished in the evening hence the rubbish photography) gives you this:
MS3 037
It's quite hard to photograph well while on the needles but I think that the outside edge should run vertical and we will keep adding to the inner edge until it is a big sweepy wing. It is very addictive knitting - roll on Friday!

Just to confuse myself with all the lace I've also finished the first New England sock (thanks to a nice traffic jam on the motorway on Friday evening). The confusion is that the symbols in MS3 and in the sock mean different things - I don't always remember that first thing in the morning - much oops!
New England
I hope you all had similarly wonderful weekends

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

No longer headless

To assuage Mary's fears I can confirm that Peggy the sheep is no longer headless and in fact was spotted gambolling in the yarny hills complete with head, ears, eyes and a little lamby tail yesterday evening.

Whilst photographic evidence exists I cannot yet share it with you as the computer was having a grump last night and I couldn't get the pictures onto the tintyweb - hey ho.

Suffice to say that Peggy the sheep, the dress, the shoes and Baby E's blanket have all today been entrusted to the dubiously safe hands of the Post Office who I hear are having a little paddy of their own - I have fingers and toes crossed so far as it is possible to cross fingers and toes and still convince your employer that you are worth having around.

When not capitating sheep (is that the right word), I was reunited with the oh so pretty Kauni and I am now another couple of bands nearer the point at which I must accept that I am going to cut holes in this knitting in the (hopefully) not too distant future (finger and toe crossing just tightened - please excuse typos). In the meantime it is beautiful and soothing knitting - perfect!

Happy sunny day to you all