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Ally Pally 2011

I am making good inroads into the catching up and have now got to October!

Mummy came down to stay for a few days and we had a trip over to the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace. We went for only one day this year, which was a bit of a push to see everything. I would have liked more time to see the exhibition, and we were very tired at the end. Perhaps two days next year? It is always hard to know in advance how much time will be needed to see everything, it depends so much on who has brought what.

It was a lovely outing as always, great to catch up with people and to see what is new.

Unsurprisingly I came home with a few goodies:

A ball of Jawoll Magic from Lang Yarns:

This is 4ply weight 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon. It is only a singles so I am not sure how well it will stand up to wear. I am planning to make some socks with this so we shall see.

Jawoll Magic Dégradé, another Lang yarn, the same weight and blend as the last, and also a singles.

Admiral by Schoppel Wolle, also the same weight and blend as the other two, although this one is a plied yarn.

I am clearly going through a sock yarn phase 🙂

As well as the lovely yarn I found a few other useful bits and pieces:

Some beautiful buttons from Textile Garden:

Some fun buttons (I think these will be destined for something for my niece who has dual British/US nationality):

And stitch markers from Bev at Knitting 4 Fun:

A beautiful shawl pin from Art Yarn:

Some more pins to use for blocking (I never seem to have enough):

And a daylight bulb which I have already installed in the light fitting above my seat on the settee:

I also bought a stick pin for Mummy for her Christmas present, she chose it so she knows it is something she will like 🙂 but I had wrapped it up and sent it on its way before I remembered to photograph it.

A good day out, and great to catch up with everyone.

Christmas Concerts

We are into the season of three-Christmas-concerts-in-one-week here, one down, two to go, but I still seem to be breathing and playing most of the notes in approximately the right places so that is good.

If any of you happen to be in the South West London area in the next couple of days I can recommend two concerts by the Barnes Concert Band (I may just be a little biased as I play 2nd trombone in the band).

On Wednesday 10th December 6.45pm – 8.45pm we will be playing at Carols by Candlelight, at the London Wetland Centre, Barnes. There will be a variety of readings and carols, and some music by a couple of local school groups then we will play a bit on our own at the end. Wrap up warm as this is outside (unless it rains), free entry from 6pm.

On Thursday 11th December 7 – 8.30pm we will be playing at the Community Carol Service at St Michael and All Angels Church, Elm Bank Gardens, Barnes.

If you do come along then come and say hello. I will be wearing knitted hat, scarf and gloves at the Wetland Centre concert, but haven’t yet worked out how to fit knitting into my concert outfit for Thursday. Hmm, definitely a challenge 🙂

For Annie Tejidor-Bakas

Thanks for your email. I tried to reply to you but got a message saying that I am not one of your allowed list of rcpthosts, and that the message couldn’t be delivered. Could you add me to your list of allowed rcpthosts and then let me know and I will email you again. Thanks!

Chain Maille

In a little departure from the knitting I have been having a play around with chain maille bracelets made from rubber O rings and anodised aluminium jump rings.

It is such a lot of fun, although it does take a bit of practice to get used to holding a pair of pliers in each hand.

The rubber rings give the bracelets an interesting tactile quality, and are also slightly stretchy, allowing you to make a comfortable bracelet without a fastening, but which doesn’t fall off.

I got the o-rings and the jump rings from Bead Sisters, along with a very useful book called Chain Mail Jewelry, which is suitable for the total beginner but still manages to cover a lot of different techniques.

More fun with the sewing machine

I have been playing with the sewing machine again, and finished a needle roll for the three sets of bamboo circulars I have. I bought these from the Bamboo Knitting and Crochet Centre, and I have the 50cm set, the 80cm set, and the 100cm set. I thought these would cover most eventualities 🙂

I have used the same idea as I did with the roll for the dpns. There is a pocket for each size of circular, then a flap which folds over and press-studs down to hold all the needles in their pockets, and the whole lot rolls up and fastens into a roll with another press-stud.

I am very pleased with it and it seems to do the job well. I am slowly becoming more organised!

The other excitement of this week was the arrival of my books from Iva Rose.

I have been having a very fun time reading through these, and am planning which things to knit first 🙂 I am particularly taken with a couple of circular designs from the 1890s. They are designed as doilies I think, but would be great as a shawl if worked in thicker yarn with larger needles. I think I am gearing up for a lace phase.

Knitting needle storage

A few weeks ago I bought a bargain set of bamboo dpns from the Bamboo Knitting & Crochet Centre (thank you Jo for letting me know about them). Ever since they arrived I have been meaning to make a case to keep them in, and yesterday I finally got round to it.

The material is some bargain furnishing velvet I have had kicking around for ages. It came as a pack of 5 different colours, I think for something like £5, the only disadvantage being that you only got about 0.5m of each colour. I originally got it thinking I would make some cushion covers, but there is plenty enough for a needle roll and several big cushion covers too.

There are 15 sets of 5 needles (I got the longer length of dpn, which are 8 inches long, they sell a 5 inch set as well), and they range in size from 2mm to 10mm. The whole lot rolls up and fastens with a press-stud.

I am quite pleased with it 🙂 I also got three sets of their circular needles (in different lengths) and am contemplating the best way to make a holder for them too. I have some nice dark browny-red velvet earmarked for that.

The difficulty I am now contemplating is the best method of storage for all my needle sets, and other assorted loose needles. So far they have been stored in a tool bag from B&Q, but it isn’t nearly big enough, so the overflow is stacked on the top. Also in order to get at a particular needle, I need to unpack the whole bag, and then re-pack it, not exactly convenient. So I have been trying to think of a better method of organisation. I have a lot of needle sets, two packets of Knit Picks (one for the interchangeable set, one for fixed circulars), 2 Denise sets, a Boye set, a small set of crochet hooks, a small set of long straight needles, a bag with assorted circulars in, a bag of assorted straight needles, the new sets I just mentioned, and a few odd bits which don’t seem to fit in anywhere. So, how to store them so that they are all easily accessible and reasonably tidy? Also since I do most of my knitting in the lounge, and it would be handy to store my needles there so they are easily to hand, it would be nice if the storage is moderately attractive. If anyone has any ideas I would very much like to hear them!

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year. We went to Paul’s parents for Christmas and had a wonderful time. Lots of food, lots of board games, quite a bit of knitting, and an opportunity for me to admire P’s mum’s tapestry weaving which looks great fun. I have also introduced her to the delights of Texere, it wont be long before her house is full of yarn too 🙂 I even actually finished knitting a Christmas present for my sister. I’m hoping to take a picture of it in situ this weekend. We had a quiet New Year at home which was great, and I was greatly amused by some of our neighbours having their fireworks at the slightly unconventional time of 10.45pm, perhaps it was so exciting that they just couldn’t wait, or that they were tired and wanted to do the fireworks and then go to bed.

This year I think is going to be the Year of the Big Tidy Up and Sort Out. Things have rather got on top of me over the last couple of months (actually over the last 3 or 4 years, but glossing over that aspect slightly) and it is getting to me. I have started, and am making progress although it is slow going. We now have a clear dining table, which in itself is nigh-on miraculous. The dining table in particular had become a dumping ground for various things which needed attention, and before I started sorting it was covered all over to an average depth of around 18 inches. The novelty of actually being able to eat off the table hasn’t worn off yet 🙂 I am on to the lounge now which is a major task. The pile on the coffee table is shorter but not gone yet, and the floor is still pretty horrendous, but I will get there in the end.

The sort out will also extend to my knitting. I have come to the conclusion that I don’t really like having that many works-in-progress. I just forget what I am doing on them. I think ideally I would like to have 2 or 3, to give a mixture of portable and knit-at-home, and complicated and pleasantly mindless. So as part of the organisation I am going to find all my notes on the various works-in-progress I have, and try and remember where I was with each of them in order to finish them off. I am also going to catch up with blogging about my works-in-progress. I will be back soon with photos!

So, what are your thoughts for 2008? Do you have a theme? Or a particular something you would like to do? I don’t really do New Year Resolutions, so I suppose this theme for the year is as close as I get.

Happy Christmas

This last couple of months has zipped by horrifyingly fast as is often the way with the run-up to Christmas. Apologies for not posting for ages, and also for having fallen behind on my emails.

Work has been hectic, but is hopefully a bit more under control now. After weeks of feeling smug that I was the only person I knew who hadn’t had the nasty cold going round here, rather inevitably I came down with it in the week where I was playing in four Christmas concerts – two of which were outside! I’m feeling much better now although P is still sniffling.

There has been time for a bit of knitting, although it has been rather late at night. I finally finished the Christmas stocking for a friend’s son at 5am this morning, it is now in the post, and will hopefully make it in time!

Christmas Stocking for Ted

Anyway, off to do some of the many things on my do-before-Christmas list! Hope you all have a lovely Christmas and New Year. I will catch up with the rest of my Stitches report in the new year.

A learning experience

Now that the moment as passed I can tell you all about the project I was attempting for yesterday. One of my friends is getting married in November and her three bridesmaids organised her hen night (or day really) for yesterday. One of the bridesmaids (also a friend) mentioned some time ago that it would be rather fun if I could make a tea cosy in the shape of a wedding cake which could also double as a hat for the hen for the occasion (I should perhaps explain that the hen is a big tea drinker so this is perhaps less odd than it sounds). I thought the idea sounded entertaining and set to.

I managed to find some nice white yarn which reminded me sufficiently of royal icing (Sirdar Spree, 60% cotton, 40% acrylic, chunky weight). I did a nice big test swatch to see what the fabric it produced would be like. The ball band recommends 6.5mm needles, but I wanted a very firm fabric, I was thinking I would probably make an internal skeleton out of plastic canvas (so keeping it washable and still flexible) but still wanted the knitted fabric to be quite dense, so I went down to 4mm needles. Being mostly cotton, and also being quite loosely spun it is a very inelastic yarn and knitting it on such small needles was what had been hurting my left hand. The way I knit means that I push the knitting along with my left thumb, and dealing with such resistance from the fabric (even though I was using my KnitPicks needles – nice and slippery, but the pointiness means I also have a sore spot on my left index finger!) gave me a pain in the base of my left thumb. Thank you for all your comments and suggestions on this. I am very happy that now I have stopped knitting on this my hand is fine, and no other knitting causes any problems.

So anyway, armed with the tension measurement from my swatch, I measured my collection of teapots (I have 6, I thought this would be a representative sample 🙂 ) and I also measured my head, with a thought to it doubling as a hat for the festivities. A few calculations were made, and I cast on for the bottom tier. My plan was for a three-tier cake made all in one piece, large enough to fit over a teapot, so it wouldn’t have slits in the sides for handle and spout.

I made a nice reverse stocking stitch hem, and worked in stocking stitch for the first tier, again with a reverse stocking stitch roll before the flat section to go into the second tier. I fiddled around a bit to get a good stitch to make the delineation between the horizontal top of the first tier and the vertical side of the second tier, and in the end decided on a round of purl, then on the next round I picked up the purl bump from the front and worked it together with the next stitch on the needle through the back of the loop. This bent the fabric forward on itself and created a good 90 degree fold line. So I motored along up the second tier, and had done about 20 rounds when it became apparent that things weren’t working out.

White Teacosy
White Teacosy

The proportions were all wrong and it wasn’t looking like a wedding cake. The top tier was too narrow, the diameter was too small, but even apart from that I could see that it was going to be too tall for its width. The difficulty was that the bottom tier needed to be that tall to go over the shoulder of the teapot, but that meant that the upper tiers would also have to be tall to balance the lower one, and it all got out of proportion. To counteract this I could have made all the tiers much wider, which would have made an abnormally large teacosy, rather scuppering the option of it doubling as a hat. Also time was running out and so I reluctantly admitted defeat.

However, I have never been particularly good at letting go of something once I start thinking about it, and so today I sat back down and finished the tea cosy off.

White TeacosyWhite Teacosy

It may not look like a wedding cake but it is a perfectly functional teacosy so I shall keep it. It rather reminds me of a strange bit of architecture. It was certainly fun to experiment with even though it wasn’t a roaring success.

The hen day itself was great fun, we made chocolates at My Chocolate, and then went for tea and sandwiches. The others then went onto dinner and a club and I came home.


There will be a short intermission from your regularly scheduled programming on Stitches East while I knit like a maniac on a project for a friend’s event on Saturday (more of which later). Programming will be resumed when (if??) I finish.

Please send new left hand, mine hurts.

Panic, panic, panic.