Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sooty Socks

Do you remember when post was exciting and a treat; before it brought bills and junk mail? I used to love getting letters and when I was at school I had a good clutch of pen pals to ensure a constant stream of post. I still feel the same way about parcels; I've loved the excitement of every sock club package, and every little thing ordered from the internet. I know I'm not alone, because H likes the parcels as much as I do. So I've been plotting.

Way back when, in September, I was trying to decide (a) whether to sign up for sock clubs this year and (b) which ones, when I came across The Unique Sheep, and the sign ups for Rams 2 - a sock club for men. You can see where I'm going with this and sure enough, a Mr H Cariemay found himself signed up for a sock club (hee hee).

I kept that secret until the beginning of February when I received an e-mail from H to tell me that I had a parcel. I replied that in fact HE had a parcel; and waited to see whether or not he could work it out (he lasted about 30 mins before opening it!).

Rams 2 is a six month sock club (3 shipments) of socks for men. It gives me a bit of novelty in choosing socks to knit for H and gives him the socks that he would never pick out, but loves anyway.

And without further ado, here are the first installment:
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Both colours of yarn are the Unique Sheep's Tinsel Toes in Red Granite (the gunmetal colour) and Cranberry Martini (the one that we shall not call pink because these are manly socks). Tinsel Toes is 50% merino and 50% tencel, a yarn combination that is completely new to me.

The tencel content gives the stitches very crisp definition, but can also make the yarn a little splitty, and almost impossible to splice successfully if you get a knot.
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It does have a wonderful sheen which shows off the subtle variegation's in the yarn to their best advantage.

The pattern itself was well written and easy to follow. This section, which looks like fairisle

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Is actually mosaic knitting, where you knit round with the main colour, slipping the stitches that should be contrast and then knit round with contrast reversing the process. As I'm quite happy knitting two colour fairisle I think I could have done that quite easily but it may just be that I found it hard to focus on colourwork while trying to talk to all the girls at knit night at the same time - certainly the second sock seemed much easier.

As the kit arrived just before Valentine's Day I started calling them Valentine Ram socks but now they are just called Sooty Socks. The reason? well, unfortunately I started to look like I'd been playing with a chimney while I was knitting them. It took me a while to work out - I couldn't figure out where these odd stripes were coming from on my right hand, until I looked properly and realised that I could trace the passage of the yarn through my fingers by following the stripes!
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My bamboo DPNs did not escape unscathed either - the ones on top are sootied and the ones underneath are how they used to look!

So .... I scrubbed my hands; H's socks spent several hours of this afternoon in a warm Eucalan sock to try to wash out the excess dye; and I began the great needle cleaning experiment!

After a quick peruse of some of the Ravelry forums, and the contents of my kitchen cupboards I came up with four different cleaning options:

(a) furniture polish
(b) soap and water
(c) nail polish remover
(d) Barmaid's friend

I also saw a suggestion to fill a glass with rice and rub the needle up and down through the rice but we didn't have any rice to spare - it could be worth a try.

And the results (from left to right, a - d)

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all of them have retained an element of grey but it was amazing watching how much grey came off from all four methods. The winner though is clearer in real life than in the photo - option D, barmaid's friend, which is a mild abrasive cleaning powder that I usually use on the bath and stubborn spots on the draining board.

There is one caveat in that because it is slightly abrasive, it does take a bit of the finish off the needles so my final solution was the barmaid's friend, followed by a polish up with furniture polish. I've started on the next sock and so far there are no signs of grey anywhere and the yarn still moves well along the needles - success!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Second Chances

Way, way back in the autumn I planted two amaryllis bulbs. One of them turned into our fabulous Double Dragon that fired its way through the Christmas season with a stunning array of seemingly never-ending blooms.

The other produced a very small stem, and a rather droopy flower. We decided that we had buried the bulb a smidgen too deep, and compounded the error by over watering and resolved to remember that for next year. Both bulb pots went out to the conservatory to wait for the foliage to die down, with some vague plan to try to save at least the Double Dragon to grow again next year.

And there they sat. Totally neglected until we came to relay the conservatory floor and found that out of the dried up bulb compost a beautiful strong straight pale celery stem had emerged. We moved it back to the sunny windowsill and made careful efforts not to water it unless strictly necessary.

On Wednesday as I got ready to go to work, the first petals were starting to stretch out:

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And there was no stopping them:
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This is Apple Blossom; and it does what it says on the tin.

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I grew up with an apple orchard next to the house and this looks just like a giant blossom, with the grained amaryllis petals looking like the colour has been swirled across them.

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And at the heart of each flower a chocolate lime.

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I love the stiffness in the petals and the way that it looks as though the colour has been laid on with a brush, with the artist being so very careful to stay inside the edges.

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It's only half the story really, because we have two blooms at present, in a perfect mirror image, and as you can see, the promise of another three along the way.

When we planted the two bulbs I had always mentally assigned the Dragon as H's flower and the Apple Blossom as mine, and it seemed rather a sting in the tail to have mine not grow properly after I'd put so much effort into looking after them.

Now I've got my second chance and with the spikes of green appearing in the flower beds and the crocuses rioting through the lawn (at least until we get the mower out), it appears that my trumpets may be heralding the arrival of Spring!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

One for you and one for me

I am pleased to report that to date I have managed to maintain majority control over my Lizard Ridge blanket, but just in case H's covetous glances towards it turn into anything more serious, I've been busy with something a little speedier than knitting another Lizard Ridge.
February 002
It started with a sea of blue ribbons, which turned out to be far more than the 308 inches of binding that I needed so I think I'll need to make a mini blue quilt to use up the binding!

February 003

I machine sewed the border onto the quilt on Sunday afternoon and then sat down with needle and thread for the long tasks of tidying up all the loose ends from the quilting, and then neatly blind stitching the binding in place. It feels like it's taking forever on a quilt of this size but in the end, and almost without you realising it, you end up with the genuine article, a finished quilt.

February 006

As with the mini-quilts I followed Amanda-Jean's excellent tutorial which is here and which I cannot fault - it makes so much more sense to me than all the excerpts in the back of quilting magazines and books which focus so much more on the piecing than on the quilting.

February 010

Where the blanket is warm and cosy to wrap up in, the quilt is cool and soft and I have to admit that far from H running off with both of them, I tend to find that I've made myself a little nest out of both together; it's the perfect way to spend a knitting evening.

The quilt is also huge. If you thought the blanket was big, this is the same king size bed:

February 014

It's only a little bit smaller than the duvet! No-one ever said that it might not be the best plan to make a double quilt as a first effort so I just ploughed ahead regardless, and picked up what I didn't know along the way, and I'm glad because I love the finished product, mismatched seams, clipped points, wrinkled backing and all. Now I know how hard it is to manipulate that much quilt though my sewing machine I might re-think the quilting on the next one though!

And finally, it needed one last finishing touch:

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This is definitely style over substance - I'm pretty sure that it would machine wash gently but I wanted to use a blue label on a blue quilt!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Om Shanti

Peace be with your feet! (Translation: by Carie. Accuracy: wayward)

I think I may be on a finishing streak at the moment, I finished my blanket (which has been in almost constant use ever since) and now I've finished a pair of socks.
February 129

These are the first pair of the 2009 Socktopus Sock Club, the Om Shanti socks, designed by our fearless leader, Alice. I think the idea is for a little self-pampering in the post-Christmas season because they arrived with a wonderful array of foot soak, scrub and butter that smells wonderful and has left its lingering scent in the yarn itself. I can't wait to use them.

The yarn is Chameleon Colorworks Evolution which is a 100% merino wool that has been stretched. And yes, that is as bizarre as it sounds. As far as I can work out, stretching the merino makes it longer and thinner so that it is closer to cashmere in form and thereby softer and fluffier.
February 127
It is incredibly soft yarn and it has a halo and a sheen a little bit like silk which you can just about see in the picture. The only way I can think of to describe is is that it is like wool that has been over-ironed, but in a good way. As sock yarn it won't be for wearing with my walking boots but you can never have too many pairs of socks for padding round the house in your pyjamas and these fit the bill.

The colour is Peppermint Cheer - which is the reason why most of my photos incorporate some of the leftover peppermint sticks from last Christmas. Actually I don't think we've eaten any of them yet and we brought a whole box back from the US - I'll be making peppermint bark for Easter at this rate. My socks have spiralled beautifully so they look very like peppermint sticks.

For once, I made few variations from the pattern, and one was accidental. I knitted the largest size and only when I got to the heel turn on the first foot did I realise that I had an extra stitch in the foot, so I decreased one at the heel turn and left it be and repeated the same for the second foot. The socks fit me perfectly and I'm glad for the extra stitch.

I also made the cuffs a little longer - 13 of the three row repeats and 12 rows of corrugated ribbing. I have plenty of yarn leftover (I'm thinking of a pair of really cute baby socks) and my socks are about the same length as a pair of commercial socks would be.

I really enjoyed last year's Socktopus sock club and so far this year is set to surpass it!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

On Lizard Ridge

The moment we've all been waiting for is finally here. After 11 1/2 months, and thirty-five squares, I have finished my Lizard Ridge blanket - "the extended version".
February 113
Properly, properly finished, with crochet edging and everything!

Do you want to see how it looks unfolded? I feel there should be a red ribbon to cut, or a curtain to pull aside. In lieu of either, please imagine appropriate levels of brass bands, milky cups of tea and something involving strawberry jam being squashed underfoot. If you could stretch to a lop-sided marquee that would be great.

Without further ado, may I share with you:
February 133

My Lizard Ridge. Or as H refers to it "My Blankie".

(I've just looked out the window as I write this and someone in the next village along has just let off a stream of fireworks. Thank you. I'm glad you like the blanket)

Although I knit every stitch and crocheted every crochet, there has been an element of collaboration in this project because it was H who sorted out the order of the squares for me. When I finished the last square over a week ago and laid it all out on our lounge floor I crept into bed and whispered pitifully "I've finished. But I'm not sure I'm going to like it". The boy replied "just wait until I've finished with it" and told me to go to sleep.

The next evening he started re-laying the squares, bringing his art eye to the equation. He started by trying to organise the squares into swathes of colour so that they ran from orange in one corner to blue in the other with green in the middle and everything else all around. Once he had done that he started mixing them up a bit, with both of us swapping around pairs of squares.
The blanket sat on our floor in squares for three days before we decided that we had the final set up. One trick that we used quite a bit was to take pictures of the blanket on a black and white setting to check the balance of the blanket. I can't remember where I heard that suggestion but it really works.

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This is the final blanket arrangement and you can see that there isn't really any one area that is disproportionately dark or light.

To keep the order I pinned it all together with quilt pins and sewed each seam 'in situ', removing the pins as I came to them. I seamed the squares into bigger squares and then joined them all together with three long horizontal seams. Contrary to my expectations, I found it easier to sew the horizontal seams because there was less pressure to make sure that the stripes were matching up. In every vertical seam, one of the edges will be the edge that you carried the colour up and it is incredibly easy to count the carried yarn as part of the two 'bars' for mattress stitch, you just have to keep an eye on it.

I also discovered that on at least two squares I'd missed out a bit of short rowing so I had to ease them in. It isn't noticeable in the finished blanket and even I would have to look pretty carefully to remember which squares they are.

I found the best thing to sew up with is leftover sock yarn, it's very smooth and strong so it slides through the Noro easily and you can give it a good yank to pull the two edges together.

February 116

The crochet edging took me from Tuesday evening to last night. For a non-crocheter it was a surprisingly easy edging. The first row is just a set up row and the second was easy enough once I got into the flow of it. I should stress that this is what I think the crochet instructions say to do, and it is an edging that looks quite like the one in the picture; but I am by no means a proficient crocheter so I make no promises that I have read the pattern correctly. It looks good, and that's all that really matters.

For the edging I used Noro Cash Iroha in a deep blue, colour 7 (the same as I used for a Christmas Hat) . It's one of Noro's few solid colours but it picks up on so many of the colours in the blanket and gives a lovely unified feeling to the whole. It also has 20 % cashmere which makes the edges extra soft and snuggly under the chin.

I used two balls for the entire edging, and had 22g left of the second ball.
February 141
Ever since I started sewing it up I've wondered whether, and to what extent I should block; thoughts not unrelated to the size of the blanket, the length of time it would take to dry, and our available space and towels. A number of people have said how much the egg-carton texture adds to the blanket and I've seen that a number of finished blankets on Ravelry have been left 'au natural'.

February 117

Final decision made by H: egg cartons all the way. The only blocking I have done is to steam the edges to stop them curling and to finish the crochet to it's best advantage. I simply pressed the edges under a damp tea towel with the iron on the wool setting. Because that also blocked part of each of the outer squares, the blanket has a slightly flared look at the moment as the blocked blanket is going to be bigger than the unblocked for obvious reasons. It isn't a pronounced flare and when it's tucked up around you on the sofa, who's going to notice. If I decide that I would like it to be fully blocked then I can wait for a hot sunny day (fingers crossed) and block it on the lawn.

The blanket is plenty big enough as it is - I'm 6' tall and I can sit on the sofa with my toes tucked up and the top edge snuggled up under my chin. For a sense of scale, this:

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Is a king size bed. And this:

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Is a sofa smothered in blanket. Which is where I am headed right now. Possibly to look at blanket books - you just can't have too much of a good thing you know!

In conclusion, my top tip for Lizard Ridge blankets:

Go and knit one NOW!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Orange is the happiest colour

Did I mention that I liked orange? Perhaps just once or twice? I did a colour quiz (here) that I stumbled across the other day. As a personality analysis it didn't ring true; it said that I was easily influenced by my surroundings, which I think was because I picked the colours in a different order the second time round; all I know was that I one colour that really sang to me was the colour of a sun-crisped autumn leaf.

I am currently bathed in a surfeit of happy orange yarn:

February 104

Which appears to be taking sea-life impersonation lessons from a Cretan pottery dolphin that my parents gave me. Together, they form a perfect example of yarn serendipity, and the results of the most informal yarn swap ever.

On Tuesday I met up with the girls for knit night and Mandy made special efforts to brave the not-so-cold-anymore after I promised to bring the blanket for a little show and tell. Technically it is Mandy who got me started on a Lizard Ridge blanket after she had a most cunning plan that we all make a mini one for a friend's baby. However, my big blanket has got its own back by ensnaring her into knitting Lizard Ridge squares of her very own.

I had quite a few leftovers, not all of which were brown, and it seemed only appropriate that she should have them for her blanket. She has a picture of the random pile of bits and bobs here, and they appear to match her current socks rather nicely (I said it was serendipitous).

However, she had an even bigger surprise in store for me:

February 105

Beautiful, retina-firing, flame coloured sock yarn. But, I think we need a little closer look at the label don't you...

February 106

Yes my friends, it's Wollmeise (all gasp with reverent awe!). I believe I may have spent several seconds merely gazing at it, saucer-eyed. It's called SOS, which as it is life-belt orange, seemed suitable nautical for me. I LOVE it - Mandy, thank you so much.

Colourwise, it also goes remarkably well with the latest little handspun that I've been cooking up. I spun up the second bobbin over the weekend and plied it using my newest toy, a freestanding Kromski lazy kate. It suits me so much better than the in-built lazy kate because I can put a bit of tension on it with the break band and also position it so that the singles don't get wrapped around my knee on the way to the wheel. I'm not sure I've entirely 'got' wheel plying yet, I still worry that one strand is just wrapping around the other but this seems pretty even as far as plying is concerned.

February 107

I deliberately didn't spin it as a fine single and allowed the lumps and slubs to come through just as they were in the batt. It made wonderfully stripy two ply because the singles barber-poled as I spun and then when I plied it went super-stripy.

I finished it in the only way that I know, a warm soak in Eucalan and a snap and thwack.

February 111

The photos show the occasional twinkle where the angelina hits the light, in reality is is softly sparkling; enough glitz to show it is there, but not too much to make it 'Barbie does Caribbean cocktail hour'. The banana fibre and silk also have a bit of a sheen to them which adds to the overall glow.

I have about 84 yards of this Tequila Sunrise, which is roughly aran weight. It's not soft enough for sensitive skin wear so a hat is out unless I line it; I'm thinking colourwork mittens if I can find the right foil that would allow this orange to shine through. Any ideas?

Playing catch up in 4000 words

Somewhere from within my haze of internet-deprived petulance that manifested itself as my last post I think I mentioned that my weekend looked a little like this:
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My evenings now look like this:
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As I crochet my way slowly around the edge of the blanket. Since the picture was taken I have finished round one and made four blobs for round two - progress indeed and I can start to see why it is worth doing.

I have also been greatly assisted by (a)
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A happy side effect of being married to my husband. There is something about that man that makes our relatives provide him with cake parcels. My mother makes him chocolate sponge cake and his grandmother recently sent us a shiny gold shoe box full to the brim with long thin bricks of goodies wrapped in greaseproof paper. These are her millionaire's shortbread and even though she gave us her recipe I am the first to admit that I cannot make them as well as Gran.

What makes it even funnier, and proves that not only is he giving off "send me cake" vibes, but more precisely, "send me good cake" vibes, is that the first batch were deemed by Gran to be below par, so she handed them out to H's cousins as treats for them and immediately set about making a fresh batch for him. I am allowed a piece if I have been really good!

and (b)
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The second 'crochet edging incentive' is a recent discovery resulting from Hotel Chocolat's delightful idea to have a shop in Birmingham next to Borders. I went for a walk at lunchtime and just happened to stroll in. Once I'd been given my 'welcome to the shop' chocolate - a praline heart patterned with songbirds and leaves - I melted; and came home with these, cherries soaked in kirsch and dipped in chocolate. If you like Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice-cream (or the oh so much healthier frozen yoghurt), these are for you.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stitched up

My at-home internet has again disappeared down a hole into the ether. We had hard-wired internet on Saturday, we tried to move it to the other computer on Sunday and it wouldn't go. We tried to move it back to the first computer and it still wouldn't go. We bribed and corrupted a friend who knows about all things technical to come and have a look at it and he couldn't make it go.

We are left with the option that (a) a very tiny telephone line failure has happened just outside our house so that the telephone works and the internet doesn't. This is not as far fetched as it seems; the last time it all disappeared on us it was a fault inches outside our door which meant that BT thought the line was fine and we knew we were calling on a mobile because the phone didn't work; or (b) something in the vast amounts of wire currently trailed around our home went ping when we moved the cable to the other computer. According to H, the fact that our hard wired gadgets are the most basic possible makes this unlikely as it means that there is less to go wrong. I retain a healthy scepticism about that theory but would be prepared to go with it if the internets would be similarly co-operative.

My contribution to proceedings was to run up and down checking whether the little flashy light had stopped flashing and to scowl at the computer and demand that it pull its finger out and start working. There may have been a teeny foot stamp to accompany the scowl. In my defence, the little flashy light has developed a malevolence that can only be attributed to something capable of independent thought; it will stop flashing for the briefest of moments, just enough time to click the connect button ..... and then die and go back to flashing. I love it not.

All of this separation anxiety did manifest itself in a need to curl up under something lovely - I have spent the weekend sewing, and the Lizard Ridge blanket is as one. I'll tell more when I can show pictures because it is pretty and soft and warm and I can frequently be found wearing it as a giant shawl!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I take a pause from the biggest sewing-up job ever known to mankind to share, at long last, the final three Lizard Ridge Squares.

These are all mongrel squares, although some are more mongrel than others! However, as an equal opportunity Lizard Ridge square creator, they do all still get names.
Picture 052

This is Trondheim - it's the name of a town on the fjords about 2/3rds of the way up Norway and I was lucky enough to sail there from Scotland many years ago. It was the height of summer, scorching hot and the fjords had that very saturated deep blue that only a great depth of water can convey. We would sail close to the shore looking for somewhere to anchor and be continually double checking the depth reader as we found ourselves still beyond the reach of our anchor chain but almost close enough to reach out and touch the pine trees.

Picture 056

This is probably the least mongrel of the lot and is very similar to the Kir Royale square. It isn't quite the real thing though so it is the Heart of Fire from the Mystery of the Blue Train - where all isn't quite what it seems either!

And finally:
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This final square has always had a name, regardless of colour or inspiration. When we last drove back from the Western Isles we took a scenic route through the mountains down to Glasgow. After a little drive climbing what seem to be (from your side) gentle hills, you come to a place which is marked in the atlas as a village and is in reality a National Trust of Scotland car park. Below you the valley opens up and the road snakes away down the steep slopes. It ranks very highly in my list of top place names. It is called:

Rest and be Thankful

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And I am. 35 squares knit, many seams sewn and many more still to sew and it looks prettier every seam.

And finally, seeing as it is Valentine's day:

February 026

I started a sock. In pink and white Peppermint Cheer. Happy Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Squirrel Nutkin

As soon as the sixth and final Socktopus club package arrived through the door I knew I was going to love it for the very simple reason that the yarn exactly matched the sweater I was wearing at the time.

I have given up on having one favourite colour and accepted that I am a true colour magpie; every colour is mine is my motto, it just needs to find its place. However, I have a weakness for some colours more than others and the autumnal red/orange/brown swathe of the colour wheel has proved the inspiration for more than a few projects and an only slightly tongue-in-cheek attempt to persuade my sister to have burnt orange bridesmaid dresses. (She knows me very well and we wore blue!)
January 318
This is Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in the special club colourway Sugar Maple and in real life it is a rich orange brown with the burnished copper sheen of a highly polished dining room table. The yarn is soft and doesn't feel as if it has the nylon content so useful in sock yarn but knits up smoothly into a great sock fabric.

As you see:
February 008

If you are a SuperSockySocktopod (try saying that fast) you will see that these Tear my Sole socks are ever so slightly deviated from the original. If you want to see how the pattern really looks, there are some great Ravelry pictures here.

The original pattern has an ingenious heel pattern which involves making very loose loopy stitches and then crossing them over each other to give a kind of woven section to the fabric. I knit the first repeat but I quickly realised that while I loved the technique, I also needed to want to pull these socks out of the sock drawer. The pattern results in a set of open diamonds down the back of the leg and whilst I'm all in favour of lace socks I could easily put my finger through these gaps and I knew that with the diamonds I just wouldn't wear the socks.

Cue a trip to the frog pond! The woven stitch pattern incorporated a row of purl stitches so rather than just knit the back in plain stst I purled a row every four rows to give the texture of the original pattern without the openwork and I'm really pleased with the result.
February 014

As I may have mentioned before, I am not small of foot and as the original pattern was knit for small to medium sized feet I decided to add in a few stitches to help with the fit. The cuff is knit as a 3st repeat so I added an extra three stitches and when it came to the leg pattern I simply added them to the plain panel at the front of the sock and left them there until the toe. When I got to the toe detail I decreased two stitches on the final row of the foot pattern by left and right leaning decreases at either edge of the plain panel. On the first row of the toe detail itself I knit two together at the centre point single knit stitch, which becomes invisible underneath the slip stitch detail.

Picture 014

My only other amendment was to knit 14 repeats of the plain heel flap, and pick up 14 sts on each side of the heel flap rather than 12 and 12, but I then decreased down to 11 sts on each of the sole needles in line with the pattern.

February 013

Right back at the beginning of the sock club adventure I promised myself that I would knit each sock to the pattern that came with it and it took a little bit of wrestling with my OCD tendencies to break the mould. I am so pleased that I did because I really love these socks and despite all the changes they have retained the originality and quirkiness that I admired in the original pattern.

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Here endeth the 2008 Socktopus Sock club; and I think that this makes me officially a Queen Bee sock knitter for finishing all of the socks within the year - I'll do anything for badges.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

One tequila, two tequila ....

Three tequila, floor - or so the saying goes! I clearly would not know anything about the effects of tequila, having never imbibed said substance. Clearly. And indeed.

I'm holding out on you all for the final Lizard Ridge squares because despite all appearances to the contrary I have been playing with my other toys as well, and in particular my joyful Sonata.

My parents-in-law visited at the weekend and I pulled some fibre out of the basket to show off the wonderfulness of (a) spinning, (b) the wheel and (c) their son who gave it to me.

I have a decent quantity of different sorts of 'practice fibre', much of it delicious but sensible merino, blue faced Leicester or alpaca, and then I have my wild card.

Back at the Iknit day last September, which would be the day before I learnt to spin, I (and many many others) kept being drawn back to one particular stand which overflowed with baskets of tempting fibre mixed in batts of incomparable craziness. Rockpool Candy, whose tagline I love; "feed your inner fibre fiddler".

I came home with two 50g batts and it was for one of these that I reached:
Picture 010
Tequila Sunrise: 50g of (take a deep breath) merino, corridale, soya, silk, banana and angelina.

It's insane and I love it to distraction! I swear I spent most of the spinning time giggling at the fibres. This:
Picture 022
is the first 25g spun up, the rest is still waiting for me in fluffy form. I deliberately spun it much thicker than either the sock yarn or the laceweight singles and my aim is to have a 2-ply fluffy yarn with slubby poofy bits somewhere between DK and Aran weight.

What I think is the banana fibre isn't terribly soft, it feels a bit like the hairy outside of a coconut which means that there are patches where this isn't the softest of yarns so I think in the long run it might make a hat or mittens, probably as a crazy variegated contrast colour to make the most of the yarn.

Or I might just keep it as a pet - it is the perfect burst of sunshine for cloudy grey days (even ones with snow in them!).
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I also think that it will have greatly assisted in the enspinneration of my mother-in-law, who was dropping some hints about how she might like a wheel - I offered her a go but she wants to keep practicing on the drop spindle first - famous last words uttered by yours truly amongst others.

And finally, my camera has revealed a secret and hitherto undiscovered form of life using the ice-crust in our garden to form a new habitat. I am English, and a westcountry girl at that, so I have little experience of the birds and beasties native to chillier climes because it doesn't get properly cold here very often. Accordingly I lay this one open to any dear reader who may be able to help me identify this new species:
Picture 046
Have I, could it be possible that I have here on film (or digi-thing-film-wannabe) the first record of the existence of SNOWBUNNIES?
Picture 047
They appear to be standing in formation - should I be worried?