Wednesday, 7 December 2011

FO: Cabled Mitts

It's been so long since I actually finished these mittens. The yarn was bought for this pattern two Christmases ago with the intention of a quick gift knit. Now that they're done I'm not sure I have anyone to give them to!

As I discovered knitting the first pair, this yarn is pretty scratchy to knit with and masks nearly all of the pattern. That aside, they're quite nice mitts (I quite like the colour changes in this yarn).

Pattern: Cabley Mitties by Allison Clayton.
Yarn: Stylecraft Brushstrokes Chunky.
Mods: Nothing significant.
Project: online on Ravelry.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

FO: Bandana Cowl

Finished with near perfect timing - the bandana cowl (pictured here with my Verity hat, finished at a this time last year):

This was a super-quick travel project: cast on during a flight to Germany. Having arrived, it was colder than expected but a 3 hour lecture slot provided the perfect opportunity to bind off and weave in ends - done!

It doesn't look like anything special but this pattern is a real winner for me. All the warmth of a scarf with no ends to dangle in puddles when I tie my shoelaces. Small enough to stuff in a bag 'just in case' too.

Bandana Cowl by Purl Soho.
Yarn: Malabrigo Twist in colourway Olive (leftovers from my Verity hat, also pictured).
Mods: None.
Project: online on Ravelry.

There's just a smidge of this yarn left, I'm wondering if it's enough for a Calorimetry.

Monday, 5 December 2011

FO: One of a Pair

Knitting on a deadline, part 1 (the completed part) of 2:

I finally cast on the second of these last night, if I don't finish Santa won't be able to leave me any presents :(

Pattern: Falling Snow Stocking by Jennifer Hoel.
Yarn: Stylecraft Life/Special Chunky (I can't remember which right now).
Mods: Upped the pattern from 64 to 80 stitches (this thing is huge) and added an extra chart for the name. Modified the colour transition on the toe slightly.
Project: online on Ravelry.

Sunday, 13 November 2011


A quick look at my geocaching statistics tells a nice little story:

Four caches, four countries:
  • My most-Northerly find is The Mackintosh Church in Glasgow, Scotland and was actually found very recently as it was the venue for the Glasgow School of Yarn where I took classes with Amy Singer and Stephen West. That was, sadly, the only cache I found that trip, as I just wasn't feeling motivated to go out.

  • My most-Southerly find is the Maryland Municipal League Geotrail - Annapolis in Annapolis (Maryland), United States. I found that cache in February 2010 when attending HotMobile, a computing conference. I seem to remember nearly running out of time looking for that cache - it was (as always) just slightly further away than I though.

  • My most-Easterly find is Not On Rocky Ground (Yuanmingyuan) in Beijing, China. Again a recent find on another conference trip. This was the only cache I found on that trip.

  • My most-Westerly find is Blue Hoosier in Vancouver, Canada. This was a honeymoon find, we really loved this side of Canada.

Friday, 11 November 2011

GSoY: Colour play the Westknits Way

It's been a while, but my last post was the first of three about classes at the Glasgow School of Yarn, the first birthday celebrations of The Yarn Cake - Scotland's only dedicated knitting cafe. Of the many classes/workshops on offer I picked three (a 'Hermione Granger'-inspired time turner would have come in rather useful for getting to try some of the others). Friday afternoon's workshop was...

'Colour Play, the Westknits Way'

What made me pick this one...? I love the way colour can be used in knitting projects but when it comes down to it I tend to pick simple one-colour projects. If I ever combine colours I go looking for a combination someone else has done and do my best to match it. Boring... I'm also pretty unfamiliar with most colour-related techniques. I played with stripes for a bit in 2009:

And also tried my first stranded project in the same year:
The next stranded project was quite a bit simpler (I'd learnt something) in 2010:
To be honest I still feel like a complete beginner with stranding - I have another project on the go and I've learnt a couple of things this time around. Here's hoping it'll improve still more in the future.

Other colour techniques.... I've played with slip stitches on a few sock projects this year (I really like the way this looks):

But (prior to this workshop) I've yet to try any intarsia (although I kind of played around with the idea a bit on a pair of mittens I made up last winter):

So, what did we get up to? In this workshop we played around with a two-colour sample. (We didn't talk about colour choices but I did get to see lots of fine examples of things that worked - maybe I'll get out some brave soon.) We started out with some simple garter stitch stripes, something that actually works really well, I'm not a huge fan of garter stitch, but adding some colour definately makes it worth a second thought. To the garter stripes we then added a couple of slipped stitches which then became traveling stitches moving across the sample.

Next stop, intarsia! This was actually pretty straightforward at this scale - I hear it gets a bit more fiddly with more colour transitions... I felt like I'd got to grips with that and so went on to experiment with cables. It's not often you see cables on stockinette and I can see that they might not show so well in a single colour but here it makes and interesting linking effect:

And that was that, the light was fading and that dark blue was increasingly feeling like a poor choice of colour - time to head back to the hostel (and to a lovely haggis and neeps at Stravaigin - eating our solo is often really quite weird but the whole thing was just really pleasant - great service, great food, really lovely atmosphere).


PS - Stephen West was great too, he took plenty of time to talk us through his samples and to look at the swatches we were playing with. I wish I had his style...

PPS - Project online on Ravelry.

Monday, 24 October 2011

GSoY: Autopilot Socks

Last week was a relaxing pre-half-term chill-out with adventures to Birmingham and Glasgow. Presenting them in reverse order, I'm going to start with the end of Glasgow. And the final class I attended as part of Glasgow School of Yarn, the first birthday celebrations of The Yarn Cake - Scotland's only dedicated knitting cafe.

Glasgow School of Yarn was a two-day event including a selection of exciting classes/workshops. I attended three of the classes/workshops including....

'Autopilot Socks with Amy Singer'

This interested me mostly because I know Amy is allergic to wool and as someone not entirely skilled in making socks to fit people who aren't ever-present to try them on, I knit socks mostly for me and for the lovely Hobnob who is also allergic to wool.

The thing with non-wool socks is that they tend to fall down and/or fit less well in some areas than others. Wool is a very forgiving fabric which is happy to stretch over wider areas of the leg whilst still clinging reasonably closely to skinny ankles. Cotton is rather less forgiving and bamboo perhaps even less still. As beautiful as some of my non-wool socks have been I wondered if I could somehow improve that fit a bit - my hope was that this class might help.

And here's my output at the end of the class:

One baby sock (project online on Ravelry). The yarn is Kollage Luscious in colourway Berry Crush and the rest will become a pair of socks for me (Hobnob likes his socks colourful, but maybe not quite this colourful). I think I'll even give the recipe a try (although I might add a bit of interest to them somewhere, even if it's just a ribbed leg).

What I like:
  • The reminder that Judy's magic cast on comes out better for me than a turkish cast on.
  • Toe-up means I can try on as I go
  • Japanese short rows - these really are great
  • The extra stitch heel->gusset did a great job of preventing holes
Less sure about:
  • The extra stitch gusset->heel seemed to just make holes - I eventually closed the gap with a lot of faffing and more extra stitches
I'm interested to see how the gusset construction works for improving fit. Partly, I think that just taking the time to think about making it fit will probably help though. (And yes, I'll also knit a pair for Hobnob, just not in this yarn!)


PS - I really liked Amy, she seemed very laid-back and her teaching style seemed to really work. The class was held inside The Yarn Cake itself - sadly it was closed, maybe I'll visit again one day :)

Friday, 14 October 2011

FO: Crystalline Socks

In an ever-intense battle to free up the needles, here's another pair of SOCKDOWN socks, this pair the first of a new year (where said 'year' starts in September):

And the 'artsy' shot:

The way the colour works with this pattern makes me think of an oily puddle with all its little swirls of colour. Not an instant favourite but definitely not terrible.

Pattern: Crystalline Socks by Cailyn Meyer.
Yarn: Filcolana Arwetta Classic in colourway 509.
Mods: None.
Project: online on Ravelry.

Being a well-behaved me (for now), this is stashdown yarn - bought in Copenhagen last year - very soft, but variegated which means I have to be pushed to actually knit with it (I love variegated yarns in the skein but then they often don't work so well for the patterns I want to knit - I swear I'm learning something from this, the stash demands it).

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

In the Spinning Pool

Last week was Freshers Week (or Intro Week if you like to use its posh, non-exclusive name): during this Week annually it seems that, on a University campus, anything goes.

For this reason, I brought my spinning wheel onto campus.

Despite the fact that I do really enjoy spinning (and I really like how productive spinning on the wheel feels), I could probably use my fingers to count how many times I've really sat down and spun since I bought the wheel last year. This is in no way a positive admission - it's pretty depressingly terrible. The primary excuse is to do with the quantity of time I actually spend in my house awake and not cooking, cleaning or tidying - it's a small amount, but perhaps not as small as I think.

Solution: spin somewhere that isn't at home.

And here's the result:

Almost three bobbins of bluey-green merino. I love the way the colour has worked out - the yarn itself will be heavier than originally intended and its closer to overspun than underspun (this is highly unusual for me but I just couldn't get this merino to slip though my fingers the way I was expecting).

Not too shabby at all - fingers crossed I'll finish it off and ply it later in the week.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

FO: Flat Feet

These were cast on as an experiment - I wanted to know how the Kollage square circular needles felt: were they easier on my hands/wrists/other? What I discovered is that, for me, these circulars are unusable - the cables are too soft and would rather kink through my stitches than let the stitches travel onto the needle. You win some, you lose some.

To finish the socks I ordered some (square) double-pointed needles (DPNs) and continued from the tiny amount of the toe I'd started. It's been a while since I knit with DPNs, and even longer since I knit socks with them (I've become a fan of the two circular method for small diameter anythings).

It was surprisingly refreshing to go back to this method. I do still find this a tricky way to try socks on - typically I'd worry that the needle would snap, in this case the needles were metal so I just had to worry about stitches jumping off the needle (or the yarn snapping). Aside from that though I do find DPNs a nice way to work.

And I really like the square DPNs - really lightweight, simultaneously grippy enough to hold onto stitches when you don't want to lose them and yet slippy enough that the needles don't hold you back.

Just don't make me try the circs again.

Pattern: Mock Cable Socks by Wendy Johnson
Yarn: Conjoined Creations Flat Feet
Mods: Gradual increases as the leg progressed.
Project: online on Ravelry.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Postcard from China

It's been quiet for a while, I'm on my second big trip of the month:

From top left, clockwise:
  1. Lights in Yuanmingyuan park
  2. The Great Wall of China
  3. View of the Marble Boat from Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace
  4. Close up of characters on an arch/bridge in Yuanmingyuan park

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

FO: Augustine

This was a combination of two ideas:
  1. Use up one of those single skeins I bought without a plan.
  2. Knit a scarf/shawlette that I can wear easily on a regular basis.

The pattern works pretty well with this yarn (although I do like the ones I've seen in solid yarns) but I haven't blocked it (yet?) and it rolls/scrunches quite a lot which hides any of the 'point' around the neck.

I do, however, wear it. It's less noticeably soft than I imagined but it goes well with some of the pink tops I've acquired since spring.

Pattern: Augustine Shawlette by Valdis Vrang.
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Suri & Silk in colour 05.
Mods: Slight size mods (this is narrower than the pattern called for) and also the point much less defined (mostly because I didn't have yarn to get wider and I wanted the length).
Project: online on Ravelry.

Monday, 5 September 2011

FO: Allgäu Socks

His socks are done!
I really like this pattern, it's very effective and the braid at the top is really cute. It's pretty unstretchy and I'm hoping that it might help keep the cotton in this yarn under control.

Pattern: Allgäu Socks by Susi Ferguson
Yarn: Kraemer Yarns Saucon Sock in Ginger (MC) and Harvest Gold (CC)
Mods: Nothing intentional - a couple of mistakes.
Project: online on Ravelry.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

FO: Large Leaf Camo Cache


I've knitted something pretty close to this before:

On the right - the old; on the left - the new.

This was a replacement for the previous leaf which has been declared 'missing in action'. In case you're wondering, the leaf is designed to hung from a tree (hence the loop) and secretly hides a tiny container (which itself hides a tiny logbook). The coordinates for the leaf are listed on and periodically someone comes along, finds it, and signs the tiny log book.

If you look really carefully you can see the distortion down the centre of the leaf that's created by the container hidden on the reverse.

Pattern: Large Leaf by Lesley Stanfield
Yarn: Stylecraft Special Double Knit in Green
Mods: Lengthened the icord and added a pressstud fastener to the end. Replaces the YOs either side of the centre with M1s. Added a small pocket on the back by picking up stitches either side of the centre, knitting a few rows and then grafting them together.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

FO: Ribbed Ribbon Socks

The first in a series of finished objects, I'm not too sure why they took so long to reach the blog.

These are my Ribbed Ribbon socks. There's a lot to like about these, they're a reasonably straight-forward repeat but not so mindless that there's acres of time to get bored. The socks are a lovely green and the yarn is pretty squishy. I even thought to add stitches to the leg so I could use up a little more yarn (my socks always seem to weigh in around 60 grams).

I do find it slightly weird that the pattern doesn't continue around back of the leg though (I've done this once before but it was an accident):

Pattern: Ribbed Ribbon Socks by Wendy Johnson.
Yarn: CraftsMeow Soft Serve in Granny Smith.
Mods: For extra width on leg added four stitches at repeat 6, row 13; repeat 7, rows 1 and 13. New stitches were added using m1s on the plain knit portion of the leg and using pfb to hide them in the purl ribbons on the patterned sections.
Project: Online at Ravelry.

This was my first go at the Turkish cast on. It's easy to do and nice looking but my cast on gauge seems slightly looser than the rest of the knitting.

I look forward to wearing these when winter comes (looking out of the window, this may not be as far off as it seems). It's been grey and rainy all day today :(

Thursday, 28 July 2011

FO: Hey Tech

Now this has been on the needles for a very long time... sort of. It was almost all knit and bound off - just the edgings and button bands to knit on but it just sat around waiting to be blocked... for a year.

Still, here it is, the first pieced garment I ever started (and the second I finished ;)).

Love it! I worried for most of the sewing it up that the sleeves were going to fall exactly in the fold of my elbow - they don't. It could be an inch or two longer but it's not 'too short' and the below bust ribbing seems to fall in the perfect spot.

Pattern: Hey Teach! by Hélène Rush.
Yarn: Knit One Crochet Too 2nd Time Cotton in Claret, bought at Natural Stitches in August 2009.
Mods: Sleeve length according to someone's Ravelry project notes. An extra buttonhole.
Project: Online at Ravelry.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


I read a thought-provoking post about mistakes today on The Perfect Fit.

As I've been plugging away on this week's WIP Wednesday project, the second of my Allgäu Socks, I've been able to see mistakes in the first that I never knew were there.

Spot it? This is the underside of the sock and the mistake is more visible here than on the pattern section.

There's two of these... do I care? Well, unusually, no - not really.

I can't quite tell why, I normally have a zero-tolerance policy for mistakes in my handknits but these just aren't really bothering me. Perhaps it's just the sheer quantity of work that would be involved in ripping back a sock because you made a mistake on the third pattern repeat, perhaps it actually just doesn't matter.

I can't see a mistake in the second sock yet ;)

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Decorating (Part 2)

(If you missed it, part 1 is here).

Go go decorating...

Day 4: - Decision Made!
Hobnob worked late into the evening in order to get the last paint onto the ceiling.
(Don't ask what I was working on, it was work work and then it was cancelled - some holiday!)

Day 5:
Admiring the new light fitting and painting all manner of edges.

Day 6:
A few more edges and a to-do list for the next week or so forever.

Day 7: - A Day of Rest, Kite Festival

Monday, 25 July 2011

Kite Festival

This weekend (in a that's-quite-enough-decorating-for-this-week moment) we took a trip out to 'Catch the Wind' a kite festival in Morecambe:

Lots of kites in all sorts of sizes, shapes and colours, in the above picture you can see two octopi (one green, one multicoloured), a clownfish, a blue fish, a set of dogs and a whole bunch of colourful shapes. (Also some sunbathers, the weather was pretty good actually).

Here's the blue fish closer up with a bunch of other animals:

Another close-up (ish) the blue fish, the dogs and an octopus:

We also liked this magic hoop thing:

Lots of colourful wind socks:

Walace and Gromit:

And, perhaps a favourite of mine, the humble butterfly (and a seagull):

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Decorating (Part 1)

This week's WIP Wednesday is a little bit different:

Day -1...
Lots of chaos in here, it's all going to have to be rehomed before we can start work.

Day 0...
Good, what's next...?

Day 1: - Let's Go!
Sugar soaping you say? It doesn't look any different to me.

Day 2: - Decisions, Decisions
Nine tester pots, two colour schemes and finally a few decisions made.

Day 3: - Paint inside, cat outside
Time to start really painting.... so which one did we choose?
PS - Note the 1st coat of paint on the ceiling too.


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