Saturday, January 26, 2008

Spring perhaps?

Look look look:
January 099
Do you see? Genuine, actual, non-artificial and completely not created by photoshop - SUNSHINE!! (Cue happy Morris Dances heralding the arrival of spring - or something - there should definitely be a lute involved!)

All of this wonderful windy warm weather can mean only one thing in a knitting household; outdoor pictures. Sadly the extent of the garden's cooperation is this:
January 102
Even I can't artfully arrange knitting on top of one primula and some daffodil shoots, it would be the end of the daffodils!

Instead we return to the trusty evergreen bush to reveal that:
January 097
I have Azure socks to match the azure sky. I finished these on Thursday but didn't get around to posting before. As you can see the cuff is a little longer on both socks - the second ball had a bit more yarn in it so I unpicked the sewn cast off and added rounds in one of those almost Heath-Robinson manouvres involving every 2.5mm sock needle in the house, knitting one row on one sock and then one on the other!

And the fit?
January 106

Perfect. Although from my view it's a bit more like this:
January 109
Having finished the socks I've been cracking on with the shawl, which also came out to see the sunshine:
January 110
I am now 4 rows into chart 2 with 4 charts and a 4 row edging to do.

I still don't know whether I'll have this finished in time for the wedding next Saturday. I know I'll need to have it off the needles Thursday night to block it, let it dry Friday and then wear it Saturday - only time (and a lot of knitting) will tell but in the meantime it's a great pattern to knit and the colour is just ... well, just look at this:
January 111

Monday, January 21, 2008

Isn't it amazing...

...what you can accomplish in a relatively short space of time when you stop kicking yourself in the teeth with your own stupidity!

Today I went to court (again) and spent a total of 3 hours on a train.

I did the toe on the second Azure sock last night because the kind of manipulation required to start a toe up sock is not possible when at any moment you may need to grab hold of something if the train jolts, someone might open their newspaper into your face, or, my personal favourite, someone standing in the train next to your seat will dangle their handbag over their shoulder so that it repeatedly swings into you with the motion of the train (actually that was the tube!).

Apart from the toe I did this today:
January 092

I've almost finished the gusset increases - yipee

I've got at least two more trips this week so these should easily be finished in time to keep my toes toasty at the weekend.

Which leads me onto a side point - there are reports of heavy snow in northern England today. Here it's 12 degrees C - does anyone know of an unknown, unreported giant volcano located under the West Midlands? - I have my fears!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A happy ending

Thank you for all your good wishes for the state of the sock and the state of me. I have finished the sock - voila!
January 089

And, more importantly, it is a perfect fit:
January 088

I am so relieved!

In the end I had 5 pattern repeats before the increases and 9 up the leg (counting to include the heel) and ended with 8 rows of rib and a sewn cast off. I had to pinch a bit of yarn from the other ball to finish the cast off but I know that that ball is heavier so I should have no problem completing the second sock (in terms of yarn - whether I can take the mental strain is a completely different matter!)

I also played around with the rib at the top - the pattern calls for a 1 x 1 rib but I wanted the pattern to flow into the rib rather than be an abrupt line so I substituted p1, k1, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k1, p2, k2, p2, k1, p2, k2, p2, k2,p2, k1, p1 across each repeat and that way the pattern swoops int0 the rib - it looks a bit like this which will make far more sense:
January 090
This sock will be forever mingled with memories of Anna Karenina (on the train), court appearances (the reason I was on the train and so tired) and the Poirot marathon I finished it to. One of H's Christmas presents to me was the entire David Suchet Poirot series and I love it - I just wish they would do the Orient Express - it's one of my favourites of the Christie novels.

Having completed the sock (and pranced around wearing it for a bit), I settled down to some soul restoration in the form of my Icarus scarf. It's not very photogenic at the moment because it's all scrunched up on the needles but this is as good as I got:
January 085
I'm now on the fifth repeat of the main body section which according to the pattern is the last before the edging. I think I might add an extra repeat though as my gauge is nearer 6 sts to the inch rather than the 21 to 4" called for in the pattern. By my reckoning that should make the shawl 60 ish inch wingspan rather than 72 and as I am not on the small side I think I should go big and add the extra repeat.

My aim (over optimistic as usual) is to finish this in time to wear it over an orange-red dress to a friend's wedding on the first weekend of February. If I am too optimistic there's another wedding at the beginning and end of March, we will just have to wait and see.....

Saturday, January 19, 2008

One upon a time...

There was a sock. An embryo toe-up sock to be exact. It belonged to a knitter who had never tried a toe-up sock before but took upon herself its creation with good cheer and much confidence. The toe itself was intriguing and ultimately satisfying as the little square of knitting turned into a recognisable toe.

At this stage it looked like this:
January 065

The Knitter knit on, recognising that now she was on the foot it really should be plain sailing and all would be well (foolish knitter). It was only when the heel was turned that she noticed that in addition to the little mistake she was happy to live with she had in fact misread the whole pattern and on every row knit 2 sts that should have been purled. The Knitter (on a train at the time) pulled out the needles and ripped back to the toe. At this stage it looked like this:

January 065


Peeved but not discouraged our knitter valiantly started up the foot and round the heel. She contemplated posting a picture on her blog and sharing the giggle of how she was so silly to have mis-read the pattern. She ran out of time to post but the sock looked like this:
January 069
The knitter kept knitting and finished the heel turn. She then tried it on. (minus points to the knitter for only at this stage having noticed how long the sock was) It was too long.
January 083
The knitter ripped back, deciding to take out one of the 8-row pattern repeats.

The knitter spent several hours reknitting the gusset increases and the heel. And tried it on:
January 086
Still too long (it's like Cinderella in reverse).

The sock currently looks like this (now sporting 5 rather than 8 pattern repeats).
January 087
The Knitter thinks that the yarn is beautiful, the pattern is charming but toe up socks may not be the salvation they are often advertised to be. Also the knitter could do with being less tired and paying more attention to the pattern and to the details of her mistakes.

Now I know that to climb Everest you end up climbing the height of the mountain three or four times before you eventually make that summit bid but seriously, is that really necessary with a sock? It's like trying to run in a dream only to find yourself rooted to the spot. The number of hours I have put in on this sock!! I'm off to knit some gusset increases and a heel - send me positive vibes!

Monday, January 14, 2008

A sad and woeful tale of woe (with a happy ending)

With apologies possibly to Henry VIII depending on your preferred Tudor-age music scholar:

Alas my sleeve I knit you wrong
and cast you down discourteously
for I had knit you pretty long
Alas it was mistakenly

Green-second-sleeve was all my joy
Two finished sleeves my intended delight
Greensleeve I ripped you back
Oh, will I ever have two sleeves

Your increases placed on the wrong row
oh, why did the pattern misguide me [hint: probably user error]
8 inches knitting all wrong, so
I ripped back my latest greensleeve

Green-second-sleeve was all my joy
Two finished sleeves my intended delight
Greensleeve I ripped you back
Oh, will I ever have two sleeves

Now you have been re-knit by my hand
A finished sleeve is what I crave
You're longer now than a wrist band
My sanity has now been saved

Two green sleeves you are all my joy
Two finished sleeves I am full of delight
I have finished both my sleeves
And there ends my ditty of greensleeves.

Do you see what I see?
January 068
Both sleeves now joined to the body. 3 and a bit inches of stst to go and then the fun begins!

In the meanwhile - there is another embryo sock commuting to Birmingham:
January 065
And this one is toe-up - a new and exciting venture in sock knitting

The pattern is Azure from the winter Knitty; it's written for 1 skein of Jitterbug and what would you know, I just happen to have skein of Blue Parrot in the sock yarn stash - mmmm pretty!

In unrelated points of useless information they have had snow in Bagdhad but still no snow here. Not fair.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Warm Feet

Well you know what they say about people with warm feet...

.... got new handknitted cashmerino socks of course! (why? what did you think I meant?)

And yes indeedy verily and all other assertive adverbs - I have finished my Karenina socks:

January 048
[Excuse the blue drawing book - it's there to balance the colour so that it photographs acurately]
The observant among you will notice that they both fit, they both have toes, and both the toes are purple. This can mean only one of two possibilities:

(a) I have magic yarn creating powers and can expand the amount of yarn I have to fit the project in hand; or

(b) there was enough yarn for even my clodhoppers.

The answer is to say all hail Alice the provider and Jane the designer - there was enough yarn. [NB if anyone can do (a) please let me know - many people would like to share in that one!]

Do you want to see the leftovers? Of course you do, that's the fun of playing with yarn:
January 049
They both look like quite big balls here - mainly because I've been pulling from the centre of the ball so they're hollow. Accordingly to the approximations of my kitchen scales I have just under 10g of the yellow left and less than half an ounce of the purple (an ounce is the smallest graduation on the scales).

The photo of my socks shows how shadow knitting works - you can barely tell there are purple horizontal lines in there! My socks have 19 purl ridges on the cuff and 17 yellow stripes along the bottom of the foot.

So do I look like I could be Russian aristocracy in these socks? I'm now on the second of 5 7-hr segments of Anna Karenina and really enjoying it. Anna is sadly pregnant, Vronski has just killed a horse in a steeplechase and Levin is still living on his farm hankering after Kitty - I fear that as it is a great work of Russian literature there will not be a happy "chick-lit" style ending. If I've read it before I can't remember the story so no spoilers - I'm hanging in for another 26 hours of audio first.

Speaking of audio, and going off on a tangent as usual, if you like audio books to knit to, Simply Knitting (UK knitting mag) is giving away a free downloadable copy of Jane Austen's Persuasion at the moment - I saw the "free audio book" screamer on the cover, turned it over expecting it to be a Catherine Cookson or such-like and when I saw it was Persuasion it fell into the shopping basket - one of my all time favourite books and a treat to look forward to after Anna.

If you like the classics then the other place to try is Librivox - free audio recordings of books on which the copyright has expired. The readers are volunteers and some are excellent and I've reaquainted myself with a number of old favourites recently including The Little Princess, The Prisoner of Zenda, Rupert of Hentzau, the Scarlet Pimpernell and The Importance of Being Earnest, all of which have really excellent readers.

That's all for now but look forward to a tragic and soul wrenching story of a poor sleeve next time

Monday, January 07, 2008

In the beginning

It's January, it's dark in the morning when I go to work and it's dark in the evening when I come home. But somehow that feels right, it feels like it is a right of passage for the new year to be wet and blustery, that a sharp breeze whips down the platform at the train station, freezing my ever-knitting fingers as I wait for the (delayed) train.

The contrast, is that among the dark and stormy work days (I don't really see out of my office so I've no idea what the daytime weather was today), we get occasional beautifully sunny weekend days, and for a while on Sunday we had one of those and boy does it brighten up the house and make you realise how long it's been grey and rainy.

I curled up in a pool of sunlight on the sofa and finished the latest piece of my "brain-recovery" knitting - the sleeve for Tangled Yoke - and, in a move reminiscent of the summer, I took it outside to meet the daylight, the garden and a camera.

Sadly as there is no snow (grumph) I don't have a sparkly white background for my photography and many of my usual plant backdrops have either died in the frost, died because that's what they do or just died anyway. Thank goodness for evergreens:

January 040
I'm sorry it's a rather boring photo but all the green is pretty, and trust me I'm thinking up puns for when I have a pair!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Jury has returned

Ladies and Gentlemen of the knitting court, may I present to you Exhibit A:
January 025
A Karenina sock.

Exhibit B demonstrates that it fits the intended wearer.
January 023
Now with the assistance of my trusty kitchen scales (which are of approximate accuracy but a great colour) we can convince the jury of knitting fates that this sock:
January 030
Weighs about 40grams.

And the moment of truth - let the remaining yarn be weighed:
January 038
60 grams (ish).

Members of the jury do you find that the gamble has paid off or not?


What do you mean "possibly", you're a jury, you get to say yes or no and nothing else in between.

Have you got enough purple?

And that my friends will be the final question; I have enough yarn to make another sock and I have just shy of 30 grams of the purple so all should be well. However, I haven't tucked in the end at the toe just yet and I may yet have to pull back a bit of the toe and stripe with leftover yellow if necessary but that's no hardship.

Judicial verdict: victory for Carie and Karenina


I'm going to go and knit a little bit of sleeve now to take the edge off

Friday, January 04, 2008

Taking my knitting into my own hands

Or should tall people with big feet add another 20-ish rounds to their sock!

I have taken the plunge with my Karenina socks and cast myself upon the mercy of the knitting fates (or should that be furies). The pattern instructs you to knit until your cuff measures 7", or 6" without the picot cuff fold. The picture on the pattern has 14 purl row on the pattern (14 x 4 row repeat) before the heel at which point I was at less than 5" (accounting for the fact that I have already turned the edging). I weighed the remaining balls of yarn and there seemed to be plenty left so I have rashly added the extra inch.

I've turned the heel and started the decreases and now I just need a foot - only time will tell whether I've left enough yarn - what do you think?

I'm planning on weighing the sock when I get to the start of the toe shaping and the remaining balls and taking an educated guess on whether I have enough to finish the toe and do the other sock and I am fully prepared to rip back and take out a few rows if I need to. I've had a few occasions where I've made a shorter cuff than I planned and then ended up with a nice little ball of yarn; just enough for the extra rows I'd been contemplating so it's time to push the boundaries and see just how far I can get knitting on fumes!

The problem of course with contemplating all of this while at work is that I have at least 3 1/4 hours of non-knitting productivity to come up with before I can go back to playing with the cashmere ...... I did tell you it was cashmere...?

H and I were discussing road gritters last night during our journey home in the very green and non-snowy landscape. Given that they are on standby between October and April we wondered whether they have a lot of hanging around time - H thinks they'd get bored, I decided it was my perfect job; "just think of all the knitting I'd get done!" I exclaimed joyfully as I considered how best to phrase my application form. His response? "The purpose of life is not to knit as much as you possibly can you know."

Whatever could he mean?

Thursday, January 03, 2008


No snow in Warwickshire. Not even a little flake. Not even a tiny frozen molecule.

I must depart to go and knit through my disappointment.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Cold Enough for Snow?

To a well known popular Christmas tune

Snow cloud baby, just slip a dusting over the trees, for me
Been an awful warm year
Snow cloud baby, so hurry from the North Pole tonight

Snow cloud baby, a shimmering of icyness too, light blue
I've my hat on for you dear
Snow cloud baby, so hurry from the North Pole tonight

Think of all the frostbite I've missed [disadvantage of living in coastal areas of gulf-stream-warmed country]
Think of all the snow I haven't had in my fist.
Next year really could be just as warm [thank you global warming]
So please come to make my Christmas wish

Boo doo bee doo

Snow cloud baby, I wanna lot;
all the snow you've got
Been no chaos all year Snow cloud baby,
[except for those flakes in November which stopped half the country]
so hurry from the North Pole tonight

Snow cloud honey, I think we all are agreed, I need
Snowman construction time
Snow cloud baby, so hurry from the North Pole tonight

Snow cloud cutie fill my garden, make it WOW and how!
Really we will be fine
Snow cloud cutie, and hurry from the North Pole tonight

Come make my landscape white; let me wake up to that special light
I really do want you to come Let's see if we can have some fun

Boo doo bee doo

Snow cloud baby, there's just one more lil' thing, a snow day
I won't skip you for work
Snow cloud baby, so hurry from the North Pole tonight
Hurry from the North Pole tonight
Hurry ... tonight

PLEASE (hopeful expression)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A New Year and a new project

Well it seems only right...!

One of H's lovely Christmas presents to me was a skein of Cherry Tree Hill Merino Laceweight in Cabin Fever. It's a wonderful mixture of smoky orange, red and brown, just like watching a fire burn down at the end of a winter evening.
January 002January 004
January 007

As soon as I unwrapped it I knew which project it was for; or rather half of it - this skein is 2400 yards long.

So this morning, to celebrate the New Year and the fact that I'm not at work at the moment there was a little winding:
January 009
And then there was a little pattern printing:
January 014
And now there is a little shawl:
January 018
Little being the optimum word!

The pattern is the Icarus shawl which was published originally in Interweave Knits but has also now been released as a direct purchase from MimKnits. She writes the most beautiful shawl patterns and I bought this one a while ago, I was just waiting for the perfect yarn! Now that I've got it I think I've started another project that I will sit and croon at - "so pretty"!