Monthly Archives: November 2008

Seven things meme

Terri has tagged me (actually a little while ago, but I have been slow at thinking up things which are at least vaguely of interest but which I haven’t mentioned 40 times before).

To participate you
Link to the person who tagged you.
List seven facts about yourself.
Post the rules on your blog.
Tag seven more people to do the same and link to them.
Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
Let the tagger know when your entry has been posted.

So here we go:

  1. I have sung in the Royal Albert Hall. It is a great building, which I managed to notice even while being terrified! Our 9 person school madrigal choir won our category of the National Festival of Music for Youth, and all the winners got to perform in a big concert at the Albert Hall. As part of the same festival I have also played and sung in the Royal Festival Hall.
  2. I love carrots, they are definitely the best vegetable.
  3. I like most kinds of knitting, but the yarn has to feel nice.
  4. My longest project on the needles so far is 8 years for a beaded dress. Admitedly it has spent most of that time in a bag in the spare room. I really must dig it out and continue it at some point.
  5. I have taken Grade 8 on the trombone three times, and passed all three times.
  6. There is yarn in every room in our house except the bathroom and the kitchen πŸ™‚
  7. I don’t like camping in a tent, altogether too much grass and not enough hot running water. I do like static caravans though.

I am never very good at the tagging thing, so if you would like to do this then consider yourself tagged! Let me know and I will enjoy reading it.

This is all Fiona’s fault

It is all Fiona‘s fault that I have developed an unfortunate obsession with knitting garter stitch slippers. It all started with her posts about her husband’s slippers, and a link to a pattern (in Finnish), where you knit a strip of 6 squares, then knit two squares onto the side of this strip, do a spot of origami, sew it together and voila! a slipper. It all looked intriguing so I made a little model in paper first to see how it worked (my Finnish is not too hot so I was relying on the pictures).

Looking at the picture I kept thinking that I am sure it could be worked so that you knitted the seams together as you were working, and so wouldn’t have to do any sewing up. So I gamely cast on, having no idea how many stitches I should use so I used 18, the same as Fiona, and used 3.5mm needles, again the same as Fiona, and some shetland 4ply weight yarn doubled. However I think I am a tighter knitter than Fiona, and although the principal worked, indeed there are no seams, it is a bit small for my foot, and also the heel is considerably pointier than my heel.

So I measured my foot, and thought I could amalgamate two of the squares to give a squarer heel, so one and a half squares measured diagonally would be the length of the foot. In all my little calculations (I used Pythagora’s theorem and everything) I failed to take into account that because knitting is stretchy and my feet aren’t actually square that I should have made the slippers shorter than my foot length. So here is the yeti slipper.

And just for scale, all three slippers together.

Intellectual curiosity satisfied. Luckily I think I have got this out of my system now since I need more slippers like I need a hole in the head.

I Knit with Franklin

On Thursday 13th November, I braved the horrors of London to go to I Knit for the first time, and hear Franklin Habit talk about his new book It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons.

The shop was easy to find, and conveniently close to Waterloo station, and also full of interesting stuff. I didn’t escape empty-handed, and as well as a copy of Franklin’s book, bought the Meg Swansen Baby Surprise DVD, two issues of Piecework, and a lovely skein of Malabrigo sock yarn in dark brown.

Franklin himself was as lovely, and hilarious as you would expect from his blog. He read a couple of exerpts from the book which had us all rolling in the aisles, and then very kindly signed loads of books and also copies of his calendar, and chatted to everyone for ages.

As you can see, he was signing so fast his hands are blurred (either that or my photographing skills are just really rubbish – I will leave you to decide!).

I had a great evening. It was so nice to see old friends and new, and to be so well entertained in a great atmosphere. I hope we didn’t scare him off with our exuberance.


I got this from Anne, and thought that it sounded fun.

Grab the nearest book.
Open the book to page 56.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

“There must always be at least one stitch between paired increases”.

From Knitting in the Old Way: Designs and Techniques from Ethnic Sweaters.

Finally handed in

Here is my Keble Cardigan (named after Keble College, Oxford, since the brickwork helped to inspire the travelling stitch pattern). This is my first project for my City and Guilds course. We have to do 4 projects as part of the course, one jumper with set in sleeves, one cardigan or jacket with sleeves that are not set-in (so raglan, dropped shoulder etc), one accessory, and one item for interior use. I jumped in with the cardigan first and it has taken me 10 months to do, from starting to collect the photographs I used for design inspiration, through many iterations of the pattern, through to the final knitting and finishing.

I am very pleased with how it has come out, and it is the best-fitting cardigan I own. Finally a cardigan that I can wear open without it sliding off at least one shoulder! I do think this is the best thing about designing and knitting something yourself that you can have something which fits just as you like it. I now have a cardi that fits on the shoulders and chest, and the tummy and hips all in the same garment!

The yarn is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK, 55% merino, 33% microfibre, 12% cashmere. The really clever thing about the pattern is that all the waist shaping, sleeve shaping and the raglan shaping is hidden in the lattice pattern. That took quite a bit of working out but I am very pleased with the finished result, and the clean lines that it gives to the garment, since there are no extra shaping lines interfering with the stitch pattern.

I handed it in on Sunday, and will hopefully find out whether I have managed to include all the appropriate things in the write-up when I get it back next month. So, one down, three to go! I am planning to do the jumper with set-in sleeves next and have already started dyeing some yarn to use for trial pieces.

Look what arrived

Several fun things have arrived through the post this week. First a little order from Ravelry.

The bag is a really useful size, big enough to get lots in without being cumbersome.

Also in the parcel was my T-shirt.

This was more turquoise than the picture on the ravelry site, which I think is a good thing since I love turquoise (at least on my monitor Ravelry’s picture looks more royal blue).

My second parcel was The Dyer’s Companion (Companion (Interweave)), full of interesting technical information. I am looking forward to reading this through properly and doing some experimenting with the pH of my dye baths.

Last but not least I have a new computer! My first laptop (only my 4th ever computer – the first one was being used as a doorstop in some University offices and they let me have it for free because they were concerned it was damaging their floor). So I am writing this from the comfort of the settee while watching Jeeves And Wooster : Complete ITV Series (8 Disc Box Set) [1990]. Ahh, the decadence, someone peel me a grape πŸ™‚

A bit more dyeing

While my parents were staying down here, Mummy and I took the opportunity to have another little dyeing day.

We mixed up a whole load of 1% stock solutions (5ml dye powder, 15ml citric acid, and filled up to 500ml with water) of the new colours of Jacquard acid dyes I had bought. 2 pint milk containers (properly labelled of course!) make great receptacles for stock solutions – and they pour quite well too.

You can see the stock solutions all lined up along the back of the worktop below.

We each dyed 4 skeins of yarn this time. It was surprisingly time consuming making up all the stock solutions, and by the time we got to the 4th skein we were both quite tired. I think you can tell that from how my last one came out!

We were both using yarns from H W Hammand again. I dyed 4 skeins of 4ply weight 80% superwash merino, 20% bamboo (a lovely feeling yarn – I am really looking forward to knitting with it). Mummy dyed 2 skeins of DK weight Bluefaced Leicester, and 2 skeins of aran weight, 80% alpaca, 20% silk.

Here is an action shot of Mummy dyeing one of her skeins of DK. She was so active that my camera has blurred her yarn-squashing hand πŸ™‚

I’m afraid I have totally failed to take any photos of Mummy’s yarn once it was finished, so you will have to put up with just mine πŸ™‚

First up, two skeins the same (or as close as I could get it). Here I was experimenting with diluting the dyes to get paler colours.

You may notice that these are a little less bright than colours I usually go for πŸ™‚ This is going to be a Baby Surprise Jacket for a friend who is expecting. I am hoping that it is a good unisex colour and also a colour that hopefully both parents will like. I had better get a move on with the actual knitting!

Just in case you were concerned that I may have become subtle in my old age I bring you exhibit B:

This is going to be socks for me πŸ™‚ I love how cheerful and happy this colour is.

One of the interesting things that happend while dyeing this yarn was that the emerald green dye separated a bit and the turquoise blobs in this yarn actually came from the green. Although I like it in this yarn I’m not sure I would always want that to happen. I was wondering whether I have got the acidity right – I’m sure I read somewhere about dyes separating when the conditions were too acidic. So I have bought some indicator papers and am going to make up a solution with 15ml of citric acid and 500ml of water (which is what I usually add my dye to – but if I tested the actual dye solution the colour would obscure the colour change of the indicator paper) and test out the pH. I am rather looking forward to this actually, somehow more fun than A-level chemistry ever was.

My last experiment wasn’t quite so successful. I hadn’t realised we would have time to dye a 4th skein, so while I had been having a think about the other colours for quite a while, the last one was a bit spur-of-the-moment. I was aiming for a kind of reddy brown, but it turned out that the red we had was on the pink side and the brown was a bit paler and greyer, and not as rich, as I had been expecting.

It isn’t a total disaster, but is not quite what I was after, and I’m not sure that the colour is very me. Luckily Mummy really likes it, so she is going to have it for Christmas (hooray – one down on the Christmas present decisions!).

It was fun using a slightly different base yarn, and the alpaca / silk that Mummy dyed was absolutely gorgeously squishy too. I like how the dyes have come out on the merino / bamboo better than how they did on the merino / tencel. I am looking forward to doing some more experimenting soon.

Ally Pally

Since neither Mummy nor I had been able to make it to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace last year we were both really looking forward to this year’s outing. We decided to go on the Thursday, but ended up coming back on the Friday as well since we hadn’t managed to get round everything in just one day.

So at the crack of dawn (or at least that was how it felt – I’m not really a morning person), Mummy, I, and Charles the chicken bag set off for a day of fun.

Charles met lots of new friends, and is definitly started to get quite a fan club. I was hoping to put in a link to the website where I bought him but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to exist any more.

We had a lovely time, there was a lot of knitting stuff to see, and it was great to see so many people we knew and stop and chat. That was part of the reason we had to go back for a second day, that it took us a whole day to get round the main hall due to stopping and talking with people. For me the interaction with other enthusiastic knitting people is a big part of the reason I love to go to shows. That, and of course seeing all the lovely yarn and books and other paraphernalia πŸ™‚

Talking of lovely knitting related things, you will not be surprised to discover that I didn’t come home empty handed (neither did Mummy but I’m afraid I didn’t think to photograph her haul too).

First off the books:

These were all from Jamieson’s. I had been thinking about getting these books for some time, and this seemed the ideal opportunity. Also they were kind enough to look after my purchases til the end of the day so I didn’t have to drag a bag of heavy books around with me. They are Jamieson’s Shetland Knitting Book: v. 1 (Shetland Knitting Book), Jamieson’s Shetland Knitting Book 2 (Shetland Knitting Book), Simply Shetland, Simply Shetland 2 (Simply Shetland), Simply Shetland 3: At Galisteo, and the Colsay shawl pattern (which I don’t seem to be able to find on their website at the moment).

I did, of course, buy a little bit of yarn too.

I had to buy this Wendy Fusion because of the colour – and it was also being sold at a very advantageous price, I think it was something like Β£1.50 a ball from NKM. I bought 16 balls which should be enough for a jumper or jacket (and probably a matching hat too).

I bought one ball of Sole Latte by RosΓ‘rios 4 from Moral-Fibre. This is a DK weight 100% milk fibre yarn. I have never knitted with milk fibre before and I am looking forward to seeing what it is like to work with. Also as part of the City and Guilds course we need to produce a yarn file with information on different fibres and how they are produced, including knitted samples, so I thought this would be useful for that too. In the ball it feels a little bit like a very soft cotton.

Next up is two balls of the new Jamie Possum 4 ply yarn. So new in fact that it doesn’t seem to be on their website yet.

This yarn is 20% possum fur, 80% merino. I bought some of their DK in a lovely teal colour a couple of years ago, but still haven’t got round to making anything from it, its time may well have come!

Next was some yarn that I was delighted to actually see in person. I had seen an advert for Biggan Design a while ago, and had spent a very pleasant time looking at all their yarn on their website. At the time I was looking for a yarn for my next City and Guilds project (I am still looking – I may end up dyeing it). I am planning to do a stranded colour knitting project in bright but autumnal shades, so I was looking for a 4ply weight yarn in good bright colours. I love a lot of the shetland yarns but was concerned that they would be a little scratchy. In the end after much indecision I decided against the Biggan Design yarn for this project. It comes in the most fantastic range of colours and is nice and soft, but at the moment only exists in a DK weight, and really the weather just doesn’t get cold enough here to actually wear a DK weight stranded project for many days of the year.

I hadn’t realised that they would be exhibiting at the Knitting and Stitching show, and it was wonderful to actually meet Biggan and her daughter Henrietta (both lovely people). Their yarn is even more beautiful in real life than pictures can show and is certainly soft enough for fussy me. I just love the beautiful bright range of colours. So of course I had to buy 5 balls (believe me it was quite hard narrowing it down to just 5!) to have a little play with.

I think this is going to be a hat (or two), and an opportunity to see how the yarn knits and wears. It is a first cross between merino and border leicester, the idea being to combine the softness of the merino with the durability of the border leicester, I am really looking forward to knitting this up and seeing what it is like – in the ball it feels very nice.

I still think it is a little thick for my stranded jumper project, but they did mention that if the DK sells well they are hoping to bring out other weights in the future. This probably wont be in time for my City and Guilds project (unless it takes me a very long time!), but I will definitely be looking out for it.

Last but not least, I bought the kit for Ballerina by Hanne Falkenberg in colour 16 – Dark Olive / Kingfisher / Aubergine / Cyclamen, from Kangaroo.

I very much appreciated that Kangaroo had sample garments that you could try on, it made all the difference. I had seen pictures of the Ballerina design before, but had been concerned that it was rather short and wide. However what I had failed to take into consideration was that the models that it was shown on are in fact very tall and thin, whereas I am actually short and wide (it comes as a constant shock to discover this – mentally I am quite tall and thin). So actually ballerina comes out a good length on me.

They didn’t have the kit in the colour I wanted at the show, but took all the details and posted it to me. It was very fast and turned up in just a week which is pretty impressive considering it had had to be ordered from Denmark! Mummy also ordered a kit, in her case Da Capo, in colour 4, Light Green / Sage Green / Yellow mix. They have been staying down here looking after my sister’s cats while she is on holiday and the kits arrived just in time for Mummy to collect hers before they went home.

Ally Pally is a fantastic building too.

This is one of the raillings outside.

And here I am with my purchases, looking very happy about the lovely day we have had.

Since it is on top of a hill, it also has fantastic views, but I’m afraid I don’t seem to have taken any photos of the view – I will just have to go back next year πŸ™‚