Saturday, August 30, 2008

The last day of summer

I fear we may just have had it. Still, I managed to do the laundry which is key if tomorrow's thunderstorms come as promised. I have spent this last day of summer like this:
August 120

Partly because my back is a bit bust and I can't do anything else and partly because lazing in the sunshine is what August is for. Such a location automatically leads to productive knitting and I have (at last) finished the blue part of the second Frenchmans' Creek sock:
August 121

I'm currently 4 1/2 repeats around the lace edging at the top - fingers crossed I might get it finished tomorrow.

I also met a new kind of bug in the garden - can you see her?
August 119
A little lady-bird golf ball from Father Christmas which got a little delayed!
August 118
The blogging world as a whole has gone pretty quiet so I'm assuming that you're all enjoying the sunshine!

Friday, August 29, 2008

A little of what you fancy

The disadvantage to my recent sewing room reorganisation it that now that I can see the stash in one place it is calling to me. Particularly quick little baby knits for the torrent of bambinos arriving in the next few months. I have a cunning plan for most of the babies who are on the knit-list and this is just a little something to keep the edge off:

August 116
A mitten. Size 0-3 months. Utterly cute and tiny. The pattern is a Drops Alpaca one so instead of getting a great name we get number b13-5 which is clearly a name that inspires images of cute babies rolling in meadows (or whatever babies do - I may be getting confused with lambs). Anyway, the pattern is here. If you click on the link and take one look at the baby model you'll see why I couldn't resist knitting this.
August 115
The mitten is only the start of things, the pattern includes jacket, trousers, bootees, mittens and hat and a blanket and I'm doing everything other than the blanket which I hope will make a perfect little layette for a Scottish baby, H's latest cousin. We don't know whether it's a boy or girl baby so I'm hoping that this soft sea green/off-white combination hit the mark as gender neutral. The original was beige and off-white which was a no-go for a colour magpie like me and this just seemed to suit - I can claim it's the colour of the sea (or the loch - the baby will live by the loch) and the snow on the top of the mountains (baby lives with mountain in back garden. lucky baby).

I'm all lined up for a few Baby Surprise Jackets for colleagues but I'm a bit stuck for the final one. Our close friends are having their first baby (first baby in that group of friends too) and I don't know what to knit. The baby's Mum knits, spins and quilts, Grandma quilts and knits and Auntie B could probably produce something homemade as well. So what do I make that strikes the right balance between saying "you are my best friends" and not stealing anyone else's thunder? Answers on a postcard.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Run and hide

There are socks on the loose in the Royal Mail between here and Scotland - they look like this:
August 112

scary bright colours no?

These are the second half of H's brother Tophy's birthday present. His birthday was in May and I choose a muted blue/purple/brown stripe for his birthday socks (these ones). He is a conservative dresser whose favourite colour is brown, closely followed by blue so they hit the mark.

As the second half of his present he asked for another pair of socks (his wife doesn't knit and I think he is a little envious of H's collection) so we took him to Web of Wool to choose and I promise you, on the longevity of my DPNs, this is the colour he choose.

To say I was taken aback is to say that Team GB had a minor success in Beijing (yes I know, Olympics on the brain). Anyway, I asked him whether that was what he really wanted. He said yes. His wife asked him whether it was really what he wanted. He said yes. H came in and baulked at the colour. He raised an eyebrow at Tophy and Toph declared that he would really like socks in this yarn.

And so he has, nice plain stripy socks knit on 2.5mm DPNs in Regia Stretch colour Neon Electra (or as I would put it, Highlighter Bonanza). When I got to the second sock I thought that for once in my life I had two balls of yarn that started in the same place. As it turned out, I didn't but the difference between where I was and where I thought I was is pretty tiny - here's your challenge - can you spot the difference?
August 113August 114

Tophy works in a hospital in Scotland so if you're in a hospital and you think you've just started some really bad hallucinations don't worry, it isn't the drugs!

Hmm, the evening is before me and H is on a business trip. Will I (a) tidy and clean the house, do some laundry, iron some clothes, or (b) take the yarn I have been piling up on my desk while I write this post and cast on a little mitten for a baby and a little mitten for me?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

C'est finis, It is finished, I don't know any Chinese

One wrap top, one tank top, oh and this much sock (but not counting):

August 111
And the games are over.

I've been glued to the Olympics on the tv and glued to the Ravelympics in my hands throughout the last two weeks and I can honestly say that I'm sad to see it go. Not least because there's nothing good to watch on the telly now.

The Closing ceremony was billed as being more low key than the Opening. Clearly low key Beijing style means something different to the rest of us but it was brilliant because of it. The 8mins of London's taster (horribly hyped in the press with all secrets given away beforehand) was great; I was really worried that it would make me wince and just be too keen and catering to the youf of today and not the essence of a Brit but I think they got it spot on. I also like the 2012 logo a lot more in Union Jack colours - I'm not wild about the neon colours. So roll on the next 4 years and we'll all be in East London celebrating.

So, highlights:
  • Phelps' 8 medals, particularly the one he won by 1 hundredth of a second - it was amazing
  • Usain Bolt's 3 medals - that man cracks me up - he has so much fun running
  • 4th Place - need we say more?
  • Random sports I didn't know about - Rhythmic Gymnastics, strangely addictive

And the not so great:

  • The British track team's curious inability to hold onto a baton. Yes I know it was raining but dudes you come from Britain, it rains here, I can't believe it never rained on a training day.
  • The Cuban Taikwondo player kicking the referee in the head - ouch
  • The rather subjective judging in the fighting sports - overturned once, dubious on a number of occasions.

And now it's all over for another four years - I'll have to start learning winter Olympic sports in preparation for 2010!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


When I started Posy on Monday I queried whether I'd finish before the torch went out on Sunday. My good friend Mandy was having nothing of Sunday night and confidently predicted Saturday night. My dear, I am afraid you were wrong.

I finished Posy this morning.
August 100

Incidentally had I not been away for most of this week, missing out on two days worth of commute and Tuesday knit night it might have been a lot sooner!

So here we have medal number 2, this time in the Vest Vault, the Posy Vault from the Mission Falls Illustrator booklet by Mags Kandis. I changed the Lichen to Sky (403) and kept the Wintergreen (302) and Pebble (103) the same. This top is everything I wanted it to be, the Mission Falls Cotton is spun in a way that lets the softness of the cotton come through and the twist gives the yarn a little 'crunch' and slightly nubbly texture. I finished this morning and I was sad to see it done. I also really want a sweater in this yarn at some point - actually I could put arms on the tank, or something like that.

I knit the medium size with the long (and extra long) length. It only really added 2 more rows but it has turned out the length I like for this type of top so smiles all round.
August 104

(when I look at that photo I can't help thinking How long am I? Yes I know I should have realised already!)

The delicious irony is that I had a really hard time deciding which of my two Olympic projects was going to be the Olympic project - I'm really glad I got to do both!

Oh, and my artistic director asked for flamboyant!
August 109

I've just cast on a pair of socks for Tophy in some seriously retina-searing yarn- it is very wrong of me to think that if I stayed up all night I could knit the pair by tomorrow night and have a third medal? Perhaps that's just greedy!

And on an unrelated side note, a new discovery- his and hers magazines!
August 097

Mine is clearly Craft which I picked up in Borders in Birmingham although they had some in WHSmiths in Leamington - it has lots of articles as well as fun projects - making a kite, and pocket loom and how to make Ice Lolly moulds of your very own.

H's was on the shelf below. I usually buy him art magazines but he mentioned the other day that he fancied having some electronics "just to play with" so when I saw the cover instructions for a Spy car and spy sunglasses I knew we were onto a winner. A trip for ingredients is planned shortly!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

We're back

We now resume our regular transmission (again). I'm back from York where I went to see racing but ended up seeing puddles. I had a couple of legitimate meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday and were supposed to be gambling away our life savings on Wednesday afternoon but alas we went on a scavenger pub crawl instead - we went to the Golden Fleece and drank Black Sheep so it was almost yarn-related. I came back today and I'm tired. I wasn't even that late to bed last night but some of the guys made it through til 4am and one was up for breakfast at 7.45!

Posy is a back, rather than is back. And here she is.
August 092
Exciting taking pictures of stst backs isn't it!
August 096
This shot shows the colour well and gives you an idea of the texture; the yarn is almost a very thin cotton roving with a much thinner cotton strand (think sewing cotton) twisted round it. It all works to keep the yarn nice and soft for what is essentially aran weight cotton but it doesn't half cause trouble when you're counting the stitches!

I started the front this evening (many butterflies of yarn flying around) and we're now at two days and counting - the clock is ticking and I will be knitting.

Finally I would like to direct you to my sidebar where you can see my Ravelympic medal and medal-winner's flowers. The medal ceremony was a rousing success. As I stood on the podium, grinning from ear to ear and trying not to let a little tear of joy well up in my eye,I was presented with my flowers with the official words of praise:

"Congratulations on a successful challenge accomplished with effortless grace! Please accept this Ravatar bouquet from the beautiful Bobicii Nereids for a job well done"

I then had only the briefest chance to gulp back my joy and blush gently and with appropriate modesty as our president of the International Ravelympic committee, Adonis Dionysius Bobicus Maximus, approached to present me with the finishers medal. And as the weight of the medal came to rest on my neck, the first rousing chords of the International Ravelympic anthem could be heard and the combined flags of Great Britain and the dominion of Scoktopus climbed into the windswept sky. Raucous applause and cheering erupted from the stands and chocolate bars sailed from the crown for we are Ravelympians and we have conquered all.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Victory Lap

I wasn't quite sure what to call this post. It isn't the medal ceremony as that won't happen until the end of the games when everyone has finished so here is my chance to wave my Union Jack and Team Socktopus banner and show you what I can do.

Here is Ether:
August 076

Knit from Rowan Damask in Mica using the size small widthways and the size XL lengthways. It's an odd combination but it works.

The ties are crochet chains with the odd crochet slub and these pretty little leaves on the end.
August 085
Started 1pm BST Friday 8 August 2008. Finished midnight BST Sunday 17 August 2008. Phew.

Damask is a really unusual yarn in that it has a far higher acrylic content than I usually tolerate but somehow it works really well. It is very splitty and knotty in that annoying way when two of the three plies as split and been knotted but not the third. I found trimming down the fluff around and knot and carrying on as usual was the best way to deal with it and there was one ball in particular where I seemed to be sorting out knots every metre. I used about 8 1/2 balls so the yarn estimates are pretty generous for this project as the small called for 9 balls and I added quite a bit of extra length.

The other thing that surprised me was how warm the finished top is. I think it will soften up and relax a bit as I wash and wear but at the moment it is warm and give the occasional little prickle. I think I'll wear a vest underneath if I'm wearing it for dress-down Fridays at work as it's just on that borderline of nice neckline - slutty top - it depends how well I manage to tie it up!

And finally - the Rowan Catalogue pose:
August 079
She didn't look so cheerful though, I must work harder on my vacant expression for next time.

Now we all know that the closing ceremonies aren't until Sunday and I can't just be sitting around knitting gently on some WIP - it isn't in the spirit of the games. So may I introduce Posy:
August 090
Or rather, 10 rows of Posy.

Posy is a tank top with a flower from the Mission Falls Illustrator booklet. It has a back, a front, some seaming and finishing of neckbands and armholes - anyone think I can finish by Sunday?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

For I am an Olympian

It is finished. It is pretty. It is almost 1am. I am tired. That is all.

Friday, August 15, 2008


The BT man has been and gone and we are now linked back to the world - it turned out that the cable just outside the house had frayed (those crucial few inches that stopped it being our £200 problem and made it entirely BT's fault - phew). We have had a little move around as well and H's office is now entirely his and we've moved my computer up to my sewing room which will be really handy when I want to look at a technique or something to copy on my sewing machine - should save paper too.

Once I've had a tidy up and sort out I'll be able to show you pictures of my new crafty space.

Anyway - all this enforced separation from the computer has led to a lot of knitting and watching Olympics (and yes we have done a couple more early starts!)

I now have:

August 037
a back
August 038
a left front
August 039
a right front
August 040
and sleeves!

The sleeves are sewn in and the ends are darned in.

Oh, and I have 5 inches of edging which I knit on the train this morning.

Did I mention that this could be the most boring thing to photograph that I have ever knit - it's cream and gold and thick and thin and wonderful in real life but utterly flat in photos - particularly when it's first thing in the morning and the light hasn't come round far enough for decent photos.

To finished my Sweater Sprint I have to:

- knit two sleeve edgings, a hem edging and a neckband and sew them all on.
- join the side seams and remember to leave a gap in the right hand side seam for the tie to come through.
- make the belt which involves knitted leaves and some crochet that I don't really understand although the starting instruction is just make a really long chain so that I can do - the rest I'll figure out when we come to it.

All this means that I am having trouble choosing between going to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC tomorrow or staying home and knitting edging - only time (and the length of edging I knit tonight) will tell!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Our phone line has gone pfut - no main phone time, no internet - Sky is still working which I really don't understand so I'm catching a minute in lunch to play with the world of The Internets.

Many lovely things, including ravelry are sadly blocked so it doesn't take that long! Anyway, the man from BT is coming tomorrow (at some point between 8am and 1pm!) so I should be reunited with the world as of tomorrow night (phew - I think I might just make it).

So this:

Is all I can show you of my Olympic progress. Exactly nada.

I finished the back on Sunday and started on the left front and took it on the train on Monday. H then had this 'good idea' that we could go to bed early on Monday, wake up at 3am and watch the swimming and then go back to bed again. So I am pleased to announce that I finished the left front and 3-needle-cast-off-ed it to the back while watching Michael Phelps get yet another medal - he seemed pretty pleased about it.

I'm into the front shaping on the right front as we speak which leaves only the two little sleeves (seriously, 12 rows before I start the sleeve cap shaping) and a whole lot of edging band to knit. If I finish the right front tonight and knit a sleeve a day for Thursday and Friday it is not beyond the realms of possibility that I will finish this top this weekend (although please note that I am not promising anything - please nice universe don't come and bite me for saying that!). If I do finish early I clearly overestimated how long it takes me to knit a sweater (even a short-sleeved one) which gives me something to think about for next time. I also have a back up plan, but more on that later.

In other unrelated news I am reliably informed that Peggy is very attached to Honeysuckle. Photos also reveal that she is an exceptionally cute 2 year old and has acquired the eyes and golden curls of my father's family in early youth - but I'm biased!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympic Days

I think I've got my days muddled. I think the opening ceremony was on Day 0 and then Saturday was Day 1 and today (which included a stunningly brilliant gold-medal winning cycle ride for Team GB) was Day 2. I think that's right.

Anyway Day yesterday and Day today's knitting has been good. I have finished the back:
August 028

and made a good inroad into the left front. As it is stst the whole way and a very fluid fabric it isn't the most exciting thing to photograph but hopefully I get credit for trying.
August 035

August 030

Lots of flowers anyway. I'm now into the 4th ball of 10 so I think I'm on track. If I can finish both fronts this week then the sleeves are tiny and I'll just have to knit miles of edging and sew the whole thing together (and hope it fits!).

So as I have very little to talk about knitting wise here is the news from today's Beijing Jamboree tv coverage:

- In the 4 x 100 relay heats the American team (their team B) got a new world record and they weren't the only ones under the old record time. The British team shaved I think 3 seconds off their British and Commonwealth record - it was very exciting and the BBC commentators said they were scared by how fast everyone was going.

- Matthew Pinsent did an mini-tour around the Team GB part of the Athletes Village - the quartermasters have a secret stash of champagne which they put on ice for the medal winners when they get home - how sweet is that. I was also surprised to learn that the teams have to kit out their flats themselves, Team GB brought sofas and inspiring pictures for the walls!

- Lots of people fell off apparatus in the gymnastics but as my gymnastics extends only as far as forward and backward rolls I really can't comment! Actually once I got a badge for doing a tucked headstand. I was 6. It hasn't happened again.

- Did I mention that Team GB won a medal?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

And they're off

Ravelympics Day1: from our special correspondent

Day 1 got off to a promising start for our competitor. Having proudly completed a circuit of the Bob Arena in the opening ceremonies she proceeded to her starting point, a bench in the churchyard and at 1pm UK time the games commenced:
August 025

Our athlete discovered that it is quite hard to photograph a small watch in brilliant sunshine.
August 026

And off she went, bravely completing the cast on before being called away by those in charge of ensuring her handicap - known as THE OFFICE, and also escaping from an old man who gave her a bible leaflet and said "Vanity, Vanity springs to mind." When asked whether this word sprung to mind in connection with our athlete he assured her that he meant skateboarders, people who go downhill on skis and those para-flying people. Your special correspondent assures you that our athlete possesses none of those talents as her balance isn't very good and she tends to fall over.

When finally released by THE OFFICE our athlete assumed a serious competitive position and, entertained by a wee jamboree in Beijing she produced this:
August 027
Our day 1 report concludes.

On a side note the wee jamboree was pretty amazing. I loved the drummers and the print boxes that went up and down with people in but best of all was the footprint podium and the torch lighting. Good Luck the real Team GB!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Summer this, summer that

Are you feeling Olympian today? The first few events have kicked off in Beijing but the games don't open officially until 20.08.08 Beijing time on Friday - just after 1pm here.

11,468* top athletes are lined up to take part and with them are 4,283 Ravelers ready for the Ravelympics (not to be confused with the Knitting Olympics which run with the winter games but similar).

I am a proud member of both Team GB and Team Socktopus - it's a bit like being Devonian, English and British (and if we're being very technical and want to include NI, a citizen of the United Kingdom) all at once.

My ravelympic project is Ether from Rowan 43 with the Damask I bought to make a terribly similar top in Rowan 41. I am reliably informed that the one in Rowan 43 has better shaping so Ether it is. And I'm all lined up ready to go.
July 139
I've done my swatch - it produces the gauge I need (to my great surprise) and at 1pm on Friday I will stop what I am doing and cast on over my lunchbreak. All I have to do now is persuade H to record the opening ceremony so I can watch it later.
August 003
H by the way is following the Ravelympians' lead and is going to do an Olympic Painting - he can start at the opening ceremony and it must be finished before the closing ceremony ends. He doesn't have to have an Olympic theme though and I've said he can do his sketching as Olympic training - it'll be interesting to see what he comes up with and I promise to post photos of both our progress.

In the meantime I'm flitting between projects. I've finished the first Frenchmans Creek sock as you know and a temporary break in our 100% natural garden watering system allowed me to take a quick picture:
August 023
If you look carefully you can see the links into the story. Starting from the top we have the cream lace (which still needs blocking) which Dona wears for important dressing up events and the rubies and pearls which she wagers to her Frenchman and which he gives her back, then on the cuff we have the outline of gulls and a mock cable to represent either ropes or waves, all of which points to La Mouette. And finally, the foot is covered in a carpet of bluebell rib:
August 024
Can you see them?

I've started the second sock and worked a little of the cuff but I've also picked up the Hidcote Garden shawl which has been sadly neglected in favour of socks - it isn't much further along but a little bit here and there will soon add up.

So, if you fancy being a fellow Olympian (even if a dreaded rival), you can sign up by following the instructions on the Ravelympics Group page - I'll see you in the arena at the start of the sweater sprint!

* according to Wiki answers

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Splish, crash, sigh, splish, crash, sigh

I miss the sound of the sea. Slung in my hammock at the weekend I could look out over the bay and see this:
August 001

And hear the waves lapping at the cliff beneath me, and swing gently in the westerly, and bathe in the sunshine - which incidentally feels a lot hotter in Devon than in Warwickshire - I think it's to do with reflections off the clouds and the sea and we gave up trying to figure out if Devon is nearer the sun so if anyone knows, let me know.

But all of this R&R was not without industry - I was knitting a wholly location-appropriate sock:
July 135

Well if we're being technical, Falmouth and the Helford river are a few miles down the coast but it counts as close enough as I've sailed around that neck of the woods many times so it's all very familiar! This is the start of the Frenchmans Creek sock by the Tsock Tsarina and is part 2 of the Flock Sock Club this year. You can just make out the start of the gulls and the waves or ropes of La Mouette.

Hopefully if the torrential rain will stop at some point I will be able to show you a picture of the currently almost finished sock - it's very pretty.

In the meantime, and as I have few pretty pictures I shall send you off to another black hole, the newly launched Twist Collective. I may perhaps be said to 'misspeak' (a la Hillary) if I deny that any of these patterns followed me home. It's up to you to guess which ones!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

On fire

Never know how much I love you
Never know how much I care
when I wrapped that yarn around me
I got a fever that's so hard to bare

July 147
You gave me fever
When I cast on
Fever when the knitting's right
Knitting in the morning
Knitting all through the night

Sun lights up the day time
Fire lights up the night
I lit up when I spent time knittn' you
I'm knitting on the train tonight
July 149
you gave me fever
through the lace work
fever through the tail transition
Fever on every commute
Fever when I'm in the station

July 151
Every sock can give me fever
That is something you all know
Knitting isn't such a new thing
Knitting caught me long ago

Firebird socks were quite a challenge
Second one was just the same
When I put them on my tootsies H said
Carie babe your feet are aflame
July 146
I cried "It's fever!"
From the knitting
Knitting a flame picot band
Fever, such embroidery
Never seen before in this land

Now you've listened to my story
Here's the point that I have made
Tsock Tsarina gave me fever
I'll be clear, it's true I am fair game
July 145
Socks give me fever
when I knit them
Fever when I pop them on
Fever, no more storage space
But what a lovely way to burn

From this fever I shall never return
From this fever I shall never return
From this fever I shall never return
From this fever I shall never return ....

July 154

In other non musical news, this is how I spent my weekend:
August 016