Sunday, December 09, 2007

competition crazy

So I recently won a banner compo for ravelry british knitters group... and I had almost forgotten about it when this little treat plopped through my door! How exciting! (Thanks esmerelda!)

Apparently it's Posh Yarns Lucia. I'm quite excited by this as I am not usually inclined to buy any yarn with 'posh' in the title (i'd be more attracted if the word 'cheapskate' was in the title). So it's a real treat for me! It's 30% cashmere, 70% merino... a lot more of a luxury blend than i'm accustomed to, so I don't know how long a pair of socks in these will last... maybe to be on the safe side i'll make gloves, or save the socks for when i've got my feet up on the sofa. Haven't quite decided yet. I'm looking forward to knitting with this though! The colours are gorgeous and it's reeeeaally soft.

And as if that wasn't enough competition-related jamminess for one day, I've also somehow managed to get into the final of the mochimochiland photo comp with my rainycloud! The competition is very stiff, and i'm not sure what the prize is but it's all very exciting.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

lookylikeys (again)

A mitten i just madeAaargh it's a crocodile!!1!!1

In a frenzy of Christmas knitting at the moment. So I randomly picked up some Twilley's Freedom Spirit the other day and thought it was time for some mittens. I think the best thing with this sort of crazy variegated yarn is to keep it really simple, but at the same I felt it needed a little bit of something going on to stop me from losing interest in the whole process. So I made up this mini-cabled mitten, and it worked pretty well. The beauty of 1-stitch cables is that you can do a dodgy manoeuvre involving some seat-of-your-pants style mid-air stitch swapping, which helps if you are too lazy to reach down and pick up a cable needle. So I've done one mitt, although I may yet unpick the fingertip bit to make it a bit less pointy. I know it looks a bit like a crocodile, but there's no need to be too scared.

RaaaAAAAAarrr! Actually you can hardly see the pattern here, when it's not stretched out on the hand. I quite like that. It's like the croc is hiding in the shadows, waiting to eat you!!! (don't have nightmares, kids)


Sunday, November 04, 2007


Oh noes - what is this strange meteorological phenomenon looming on the horizon!? Sheep, you'd better run and take cover!

*whistles* Let the stormy clouds chase everyone from the place, come on with the rain, I've a smiiiiile on my face......

It's a Christmas present for my niece. The pattern is from mochimochiland. I made it from Jaeger matchmaker DK and some leftover scraps of blue wool that were lurking in the bottom of the cupboard. I can now confirm, after extensive tests, that the Jaeger yarn is machine washable and really doesn't felt. Even after battering the bejaysus out of it and putting it through a hot wash with a few pairs of trainers, it just looked slightly well-loved, so in the end i gave up. The raindrops felted nicely though after shaking them around in a large screw top jar with a bit of boiling water.

I gave it a smile because it looked a bit threatening without one.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

italian tubular cast on for monkeys

For no apparent reason, I felt a faint sense of guilt about the cast-on I used for my endpaper mitts. The pattern suggests you use Italian tubular cast on, as it gives a neater edge for 1x1 ribbing. However, when I came to start the mitts I was on a ferry to Ireland, and didn't have access to any nice friendly internet resources which might entice me to try this (such as this page). Faced with either sitting watching the waves for several hours, or starting the mitts with my standard long-tail cast on, I decided to sack off the fancy cast-on and start mittening. So when I started these monkeys I felt I should really cast-on in the Italian tubular style as a sort of apology to the now completed mittens. Was this a good idea? Well, i heard that it wasn't recommended to do this for socks, because 'it gets fiddly'. This to me sounded like a challenge! One which the socks very nearly won. Illustrated is a few evenings worth of knitting... what the picture doesn't show is the swearing and frogging that was involved in getting thus far. In the end, I did 2 rows of slipping alternate stitches then pulled out the guide yarn. Then breathed a sigh of great relief as i was finally able to actually start the sock. The cast on looks quite neat but if I could rewind a few days and start again, I would probably use that time to read War and Peace and do long tail cast on instead. The yarn is Stroud Supersock semi-solid in a soothing autumnal chestnut shade. I think my retinas needed something a bit less eye-searingly bright after the aforementioned mitts.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

yarny bargain up for grabs

Fancy your hand at the elizabeth bennet cardie? Put off by the price of the recommended yarn? Now's your chance to snap up a bargain... I have just ebayed my remaining 10 balls of cascade cloud 9 (I only used 9 balls, so this should be more than enough to make another one). Go on, treat yourself!!

Look, look at the luvverly yarny goodness!


Friday, October 12, 2007


I finished these endpaper mitts about 3 weeks ago, but it's incredibly difficult to take a picture of your own hands wearing gloves. So after a couple of fruitless afternoons trying to train the dog to be a photographer, I got someone else to take a photo. And here it is! These mitts are made of 4 ply cotton, which sounds like some kind of insanity. And they aren't particularly warm. But for the purposes of cycling around, they are pretty good - they stop my fingers freezing onto the brakes in the morning, and they cushion my hands from the continual bouncing around over loose stones/potholes/squirrels. So I kind of like them. The yarn was on spesh (jaeger discontinued, again) so the pair cost less than three quid. I really enjoyed making them - stranded knitting is great fun, and I need a lot of practise to get to the stage where the work done by each hand looks vaguely even. Rather than randomly creating hotspots of slackness, where i came back from the pub and attacked the knitting with drunken bravado.

There's also one stitch which is in the wrong colour, that I left in because I couldn't be bothered to rip back. You can see it in this photo. One pint of beer* will be awarded to the person who can tell me where it is. I actually thought it would annoy me more than it does in the completed object. A positive feature of these mitts is that they are symmetrical, so you can wear them upside down and never see the stitchy maverick.

Terms and Conditions
Prize to be redeemed at any drinking establishment in Manchester, England.
Spot it in under 5 seconds, and I might consider throwing a packet of salt and vinegar crisps into the bargain.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

peacocky drop-stitch-lace tank top

It's finished! It should have been a fun, fairly quick and easy thing to make, but I was starting to seriously wonder if it ever would make it to a wearable state, as the progress of this top has been plagued by a series of unfortunate events. The main problem being that about halfway through this pattern, in a fit of incredible stupidity, I lost the book I was making it from. This was shortly after a conversation with a friend, who is into sewing, about how great knitting is because you can take it anywhere. She was jealous that she couldn't whip a sewing machine out at a picnic and knock off a couple of tops whilst idling on a hillside. I grinned smugly as my needles whirred. So it serves me right really, that my inability to even go to the corner shop for a pint of milk without my knitting has eventually had disastrous consequences. I just hope that someone else on the train journey from London to Manchester is now enjoying my copy of Fitted Knits.

The other fairly obvious problem is that is it too small. This is because nearly everyone I have seen make this top has complained that it was too big. So I went the other way, overcompensating ridiculously, with quite hideously unflattering results. It's made of debbie bliss cathay though which is 50% cotton so I'm holding out some hope that it will have a bit of give in it, and hopefully if i wear it for a bit, it will eventually get baggy enough that passers-by don't have to be subjected to a relief map of my internal organs. It is pretty stretchy anyway, cos its mostly ribbing, and on a more positive note it's actually incredibly comfortable and quite warm. So it's currently a dogwalking top. Maybe if I can stay off the pies for a bit* it will become a wardrobe staple.

So, for the benefit of other knitters, my modifications to the pattern were:
- cast on 136 stitches (i think i have to spend some time coming to terms with the concept of ease)
- knitted in the round, as I am too lazy to seam
- knitted through the back of the loops for the stitches around the yarn-over, to give better stitch definition
- made up the whole top half, based on vague memories of the book, and other pictures of this top on the internet :)
- failed to add buttons. This was due more to indecision than design - i may yet do this if i find some suitable.

* highly unlikely, as a really nice bar serving lovely pies has just recently opened near me

The dog was unimpressed by the top. He had found a bone and was enjoying that, in a stereotyped way. Apologies for the dodgy photos, they were taken on my rubbish camera in the murky mancunian twilight. In this one I also look as if I have been auditioning for a part in Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Seven Odd Things About You

I got tagged by Yan Tan Tethera. I'm usually too curmudgeonly to do these kinds of things, but I am quite bored tonight so I'll play. I'm not passing this on to anyone in particular, but you can join in if you want :) It feels wrong posting without a picture so here's a nice autumnal view from my kitchen window.

  1. I love autumn and winter. I think I have inverse SAD.

  2. A couple of weeks ago, when I opened my front door on Saturday morning, I was rather surprised to find a polecat on my doorstep. It was trying to get into a milk bottle. They are indigenous here but very rare - I have no idea where it came from. I live in the middle of a city, and have never seen one before.

  3. Instead of going to a sunsoaked mediterranean destination every summer, I like to throw the dog, the husband and some beers in a camper van and head to the lake district, snowdonia or scotland, where I can often be found trudging up mountains in the bitter cold and horizontal rain.

  4. I'm a bit of a tomboy. I've never read a Bridget Jones book. I like climbing trees and my favourite films are mostly horror or sci-fi.

  5. I can raise and lower each eyebrow independently. All my siblings can too. I've never met anyone else who can.

  6. I have an allotment where I spent much of last week digging up spuds.

  7. I once met Tony Blair at a party. I was helping to DJ. We accidentally played 'War - what is it good for'.


Saturday, September 15, 2007


There's a bitter chill creeping into the early mornings these days. As I'm cycling into work, I am rather exposed to the elements and can notice this as my fingers one by one cease functioning. Usually starting at the outside with the little finger and working inwards towards the thumb. But I kind of still need to use them, principally to make v signs at motorists who cut me up, so I felt a solution of sorts might be these endpaper mitts. I had two balls of jaeger siena in the cupboard which i'd got for about a quid each in the john lewis sale bin. It's 100% cotton and may or may not actually confer any warmth at all, but I liked the colours and couldn't think of anything better to do with this yarn. I may yet need to make another more heavy duty pair of wool-based gloves for the really bitter mornings. Like these maybe. Still, these are quite comfy and stretchy enough to go on easily. One particularly nice thing about this pattern is that you can keep trying the mitt on as it grows without needing to take it off the needles.

After an extremely disorganised week last week, I also failed to either a) find a smaller size of needles for the ribbing or b) learn how to do italian tubular cast on. So I just did the usual long tail cast on - sorry Eunny. I just had time to grab my usual 2.5mm needles, yarn and shadily print out the pattern on the work printer before leaving for a trip to Ireland last weekend. Approximately 8 hours on the ferry and in the car gave me plenty of time to get started, for the parts when i wasn't driving, feeling seasick or playing dance dance revolution in the ferry games room (in fact it occurs to me that possibly these last two activities could be related).


Monday, August 27, 2007

any old any old iron

A friend of a friend's grandmother died and as the closest knitter of any infamy in the area i have been bequeathed this fine haul! I wasn't really expecting quite so many - having cycled into town to meet up with the donor, on the return journey i found myself significantly weighed down by the huge tonnage of scrap metal on my back. There are knitting needles both straight and bent, metal and plastic, dpns and, er, spns, and crochet hooks. So if you are in the Manchester area and thinking about buying any new knitting needles - I would advise giving me a shout first, as I now have about 3 of every needle size in existence, and I suspect several in between. I really need to go through and organise them a bit into something better than this vase.

Which is in itself an upgrade from the Pint Glass of Justice, my previous knitting supplies organiser, which sadly no longer really cuts the mustard.

Also with the haul there was this rather stylish box, but this is woefully too small to accommodate the full extent of pointy sticks now in my possession.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

hearty-stripy sock slight return

So I reknitted the top part, and made another one. And they fit this time! Not only on my own feet but also on those of the intended recipient, which is a fortunate turn of events. I've learned much about stranded knitting and my own inner psyche during this process.

  • Getting the tension to look right is pretty hard for stranded knitting, but gratifyingly, if i half close one eye i can see the second sock is sliiiightly neater than the first. I think.

  • Weaving in floats as i go seems to make the sock even less stretchy. So I stopped doing it for the second sock: the maximum float length is 5 stitches so hopefully not really long enough for any toes to be severed

  • The stitches I knit continental style are looser than those I do English style. I was pleased to note this is like a microcosm of the different cultures: laid-back devil-may-care European knitting with the left hand, up-tight stiff-upper-lip what-ho English knitting with the other.

  • I have made some pattern notes on what I did in this post.

  • I am developing an obsession with bulleted lists


Saturday, August 04, 2007


A warning to the curious. When making a stranded-patterned sock, bear in mind that the finished fabric will hardly stretch at all. This means that it becomes pretty impossible to navigate the heel of the foot past the upper tube-section and into a practical position within said sock. Thereby rendering your new artifact utterly useless :D

I need to have a bit of a think about ways to redeem this thing. I tried frogging back the ribbing + one pattern repeat and still couldn't get the bugger on. The foot part fits fine, fortunately, but not sure what to do about the top bit. Options i can currently think of are

  • Throw in some random increases past the heel for a bad 80s saggy ankled look

  • Leave Huuuuge floats inside, for the wearer to snag unwary toes on

  • Lose the stranded pattern at the top, past the heel, and just have plain stripes

Sadly, though, these ideas are all a bit rubbish. I will continue to ponder...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

hearty-stripy socks

Three facts about the intended recipient of these socks:

  • She gets cold feet quite a lot

  • Her favourite colour is brown. Can you tell?!?

  • It's her birthday on Friday. By which time she is extremely unlikely to have a completed pair of socks.

I am winging these, so here is what i did, mostly for my benefit so i can remember when i have to make sock 2 - the sequel:

*now updated with full instructions and photo in case other hapless fools want to try*

Hearty-stripy socks

Toe up socks. Stitch counts for foot size worked out using this universal sock pattern. I used 3 colours - for the patterned bits, about 30g each of 2 different colours of Cygnet wool rich 4 ply (brown and cream). CC - smallish amount of leftover yarn from previous socks, for the toe, heel and cuff.

Cast on

  • 11 stitches on each of 2 needles using judy's magic cast on, in CC (oatmeal colour leftover from the last sock adventure). So 22 st. cast on in total.

  • Inc. 4 stitches each other round, one st. from end on each side until 66 stitches on needles. Finish toe section with a non-increasing knit row.


  • Work in hearty stripey pattern. Here is the chart. It's a 6-stitch repeating pattern, but i have put 2 repeats in so you can see it properly.

  • No weaving used for floats - this helps to keep the socks stretchy

  • Both brown and white yarns carried up side for added laziness

  • No jogless-stripe-faffery used. I have enough to worry about trying to keep the tension even enough to prevent the sock resembling a mini-eggbox.


  • Switch to CC

  • Short rows. Knit flat to one stitch from the end, wrap and turn. Then purl to one stitch from end, wrap and turn. Next row, knit to 2 st from end, wrap and turn. Keep knitting one less stitch every knit row until 13 stitches remain unwrapped in the middle. Then start knitting wrapped stitches until back to normal stitch count again. (see universal sock pattern
    for more details on short row heels)


I had to put some increases in here because the stranded fabric that my limited skill produced doesn't stretch very well, making it something of a challenge to get your foot in otherwise.

  • First all-round single colour row after heel, [k6, m1]* around. (e.g. row 1,2, or 3 of chart)

  • Next row, k around, then m1 at the end to get up to a multiple of 6 stitches for the pattern (78 st. total)

  • Knit 3 pattern-stripes

  • In CC, k1 p1 rib until scunnered, then cast off


Tuesday, July 17, 2007


The top I'm currently makingA peacock, yesterday

On a small holiday on the south coast at the moment. Sometimes the sun shines down here! When I spotted this handsome beast yesterday, it made me think vaguely of my current knitting project (the drop stitch lace tank top from Fitted Knits).

Modifications made so far:
- knitted in the round. Cast on 136 stitches after a couple of abortive attempts to get a suitable size.

- using Debbie Bliss Cathay

- knitting the stitches next to the yo through the back of the loops, to give more stitch definition around the lacey bits

- did a couple more pattern repeats at the bottom, to shift up the ribbing towards the waist area. Don't really know why. Just can't resist a little pattern-tinkering.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

oh noes

Not sure quite how that happened. I had to go to the opticians and somehow got sucked into the John Lewis haberdashery department sale on the way home. Which is unexpectedly copious - usually there are just a couple of partially unravelled balls of Biggy Print languishing unloved in the bargain bin, but this time there is loads of stuff. Before I know it I am scrabbling wildly, like a kid floundering in a ball pool, and seem to have scooped up an armful of Debbie Bliss Cathay. Well it was only £1.60 a ball, and a half-arsed mental metreage calculation reveals 5 balls should be enough for the Drop stitch lace tank in Fitted knits. 8 ding for a nice new top isn't bad... and at least I'll have something to do with my hands again now while I watch telly, apart from picking dreadlocks / brambles / small animals out of the dog's fur. I got a couple of spare balls in case i decide to do something crazy like add sleeves... my upper arms aren't the most attractive things in the world so it may be for the best...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

cardie photos

OK, so finally the cardigan is dry.. yippee! And the rain held off for long enough for us to squeeze in a quick dog-walk between thunderstorms. One plus point of the recent biblically atrocious weather in this country is that it has now become baltic enough for the new cardie to be worn. So here is some evidence of it in action... thanks to Toast for his clever photography, and the rain gods for shutting up for 5 minutes.

As I can't seem to follow any kind of instruction without a minor act of futile rebellion, I should point out that I made a couple of modifications to the pattern, as follows:

  • Couldn't decide whether to make 34 or 36 inch. So it started out as a 36 round the yoke, as i have rather big beefy shoulders. I then went down to the 34 inch size after the under-arm split, and vacillated aimlessly between both measurements for the rest of the pattern.

  • Used the same 4mm needle throughout, rather than switching to a 3.5mm needle for the button band, because, er.. i didn't have one, and was too lazy to go and buy one.

  • Widened the button band a bit, so i can continue to eat pies with reckless abandon, and breathe at the same time without fear of propelling a button across the room at high speed.

  • The cuffs. I didn't like the original cuff design, which was so flouncy as to make Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen's shirts look tastefully understated. So after row 65 of the sleeve cable chart, I switched to the chart for the body and did rows 32 to 36. I finished the sleeve by repeating the section at the top of the sleeve cable chart: purl 1 row, knit 2 rows, purl 1 row, ..., knit 1 row, purl 1 row. Then I cast off. This gives a much gentler and less ostentatious flare that you are less likely to accidentally dip in your curry.

ruuun! before that cloud opens!!


Sunday, July 01, 2007

blocking adventures

So I finally finished the elizabeth bennet cardigan - hooraaaay! And as it was a just a tiny bit smaller than I would have ideally liked - I thought I'd try my hand at this blocking malarkey. And the results? I'll be jiggered if it hasn't magically transformed itself to the exact right size! It's now a whole 10 cm longer!!1!1 How does that happen? I think magic knitting pixies have sneaked in while i was out of the room and glued in a bit more fabric. It's even 5 cm wider around the previously slightly taut cabled middle section, which is excellent news!! *opens beer, phones curry house*
Marvel at the pin-based wizardry! I'll put up some pictures of it in action once it has dried out nicely. I am quite excited... have been coming in at 5 minute intervals all day and patting it impatiently.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

fake isle recharted

I was recently asked to share the chart i made up for this hat. So here it is! It's a 12-stitch repeating pattern around the hat. When i reached the top of this chart I switched to fake isle chart 2 for the crown.

I cast on 120 stitches, so did this pattern 10 times around, but be warned - i have a freakily big head - under no circumstances attempt this hat without measuring your own and swatching first! You could easily miss out a row or two if the chart is too big. I think I actually did 5 rows of k2,p2 ribbing, then 2 knit rows one in each colour before i started the snowflake bit, so you could add/remove rows pretty easily here. The hat is quite big even on me, and very warm and snug because of the stranding and 100% woolliness of the Kureyon.


Friday, June 15, 2007


I made this hat a while ago too. I think around February / March time, after I'd finished Zelda and emerged blinking from the lounge into daylight for the first time in a while. The yarn had that sort of spring sunset feel about it which I liked. It's from Natural Dye Studio on ebay - can you believe all those nice bright colours are sourced from plant extracts?!? It's just trinity stitch, knitted in the round, with a bit of ribbing at the bottom. I stole the idea off craftster. The yarn is DK weight so my nobbles are a bit smaller. It kind of looks like those old skool swimming caps, like on the cover of Leisure by Blur.


So i've recently signed up to ravelry* and i'm taking the opportunity to catalogue my big pile of knitted tat. This is a Calorimetry i made on a boring train journey down to London last month. I forget what the yarn was now, but if my brain returns i'll make a note of it. It does kind of look like someone threw up on my head, but it a nice, earwarming sort of way. Even I had to make it a bit smaller - casting on 104 stitches instead of 120 - and i have a big freaky head (like an orange on a cocktail stick**) so I would definitely recommend getting out the measuring tape and swatching for this one. The button I think came off a dressing gown I had when I was about five. It upsets my biological sensibilities a little, as I don't believe any ladybird species currently known to science has six spots.

* don't do this if you want to have a tidy house or maintain friends and a social life - it is Knitters' Crack - teh_most_awesome knitting site ever!!1!!!1!one

** apologies if you haven't seen So I Married an Axe Murderer


Sunday, June 10, 2007

cardigan craziness

Yeah, i'm still alive, just a bit lazy. I've been mostly making this recently. It's the Elizabeth Bennet cardigan from Fitted Knits. Not really a fan of Pride and Prejudice I have to say - we did the book in school and it was alright but I generally prefer films with a lower bonnet count. However i do like this cardie very much.

A month or so ago, just after getting this book (Fitted
knits, not Pride and Prejudice) I came back from the pub and with drunken bravado ordered a load of Cascade cloud 9 from some American site where it was on spesh. The exchange rate made this sound like a not unridiculous purchase, however in the cold light of day a couple of weeks later I discovered that an extra 15 ding had been slapped on by customs and excise, and i had to settle up with the post office before they'd hand over the goods. Doh! It's soo soft and warm and snuggly though. And I love the cabley bits. I've made a couple of modifications - mostly due to some indecision on which size to make, it started off as a 36 then i decided it was too big, so it kind of morphed into a 34 after the raglan neck, then decided it was too tight, now adding a couple of extra rows into the button band :) i know, it would have been much more straightforward if i'd stuck to the pattern. But where's the fun in that?!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

cthulhu fhtagn!!

A friend of mine likes Cthulhu so I thought I'd make this for his kid. I thought it would be more fun to make it up myself so resisted the temptation to google image excessively and only really looked at this picture. Not the easiest of starting points for woolly creativity. I sort of made it up as i went along. May have been partially inspired by The Host which i was watching while i did the head (ace film!!). I hope it doesn't give the kid nightmares.

The yarn i used had been nicked out of my mums haberdashery cupboard about 15 years ago so I couldn't tell you what is was - some sort of dodgy cheapo DK boucle acrylic, which was a bit of a nightmare to work with - you can't really see what you're doing and I used finger-wreckingly small 3mm needles to get a tight knit, so hopefully the stuffing will be resistant to battering by small children.

From the side you can see the wings and slightly silly pointy head. I used my new-found rubbish crochet skills to do a knobbly edge round the bottom part of the wings, so it looks a bit like the wings you used to draw on dragons when you were a kid - doesn't show up particularly clearly in this yarn though.