Sunday, October 02, 2011

in for the long shawl

So i finally finished my epic dew drops shawl! This started off as a quick on-the-train project for on the way down to Knit Nation. I wanted something small, light and summery to knit, and I had a load of lovely Adriafil Merino Laceweight left over from Debs's wedding shawl. Foolishly, I decided this was the perfect project to start - the big stocking stitch piece would be ideal for social knitting. With a whole two train journeys and afternoonfull of knitting i'd probably tear through most of the stocking stitch. By the time i hit the lace I'd be at home and more able to concentrate. I'd probably have the thing polished off in a week or two, then I could get on with my other Knitting Plans.
This may have been a little naive. I did get a fair bit done on the first day, but didn't get to the end of the stocking stitch. My main mistake was to take it to knitting group that week. Whilst chatting, I reached the point where you can start the lace, thought, now isn't a good time to get into the complicated bit, and I have plenty of yarn, I'll sling another couple of rows in here. The pattern is really easily adaptable, there is a great resizing table, giving you the stitch counts to use for about 20 different sizes. So all was good, I was making speedy progress, the shawl would be ready to enjoy this summer.
Then I hit the lace section. The effect was somewhat like bombing down a steep hill on a bike and into a swamp at the bottom, in which lurked crocodiles. My knitty momentum dissipated instantly. This would have been entirely predictable had I actually bothered to read the pattern properly before casting on.
I was initially attracted to this pattern because of the roundness of the lacy bits. You don't often see circles in lace, do you, it's usually triangles and feathers and pointy things. Once I started knitting, I realised pretty quickly why this is - you need to do lace stuff on every row to get a proper circle. There's no brainless purl rows that you can breeze through. This stuff requires attention in bucketfuls, which I tend not to have late in the evenings when I am sprawled on the sofa with my knitting.
This has also been a pretty busy couple of months for me. I started a new job, and have been getting ridiculously carried away with androidlove in my recreational coding projects. (A row counter for android, and a Ravelry project browser app, if you are an androidy knitter). Perhaps not the most sensible time to get massively addicted to some complicated lace.
In the last pattern repeat, whilst watching a whole film on tv, I only managed to do one complete row. I was starting to regret putting those extra rows in the stocking stitch section.
But it's ok, because it is now bloody well finished. For all my whinging I did very much enjoy making this, and am very pleased with the result. And just in time for a bit of indian summer, allowing me to legitimately wear something lightweight and drapey for a few days!


Sunday, August 21, 2011


growlithe on ds
Yes, it's time for another nintendo cosy! For a dsi this time. It's been a while... this one's for my teenage nephew who requested one with Growlithe (fire breathing puppy pokemon) on it.

I can't resist these kind of requests, and I love pokemon so I set to work. Take one image...
actual growlithe
Make an incredibly oversimplistic chart about 20 pixels square...
growlithe chart
... and embroider onto a stocking stitch tube.
growlithe detail
Hopefully it is still recognisable. It's tricky chartifying hi res images, which is why I tend to like working with classic characters from the 8 bit age of video gaming. Mario and associated mushrooms / donkey kong have about the right dimensions to embroider directly onto a 4ply ds cosy, one pixel per stitch. So I've made rather a lot of these. (Not because I'm an aging nerd, and they remind me of good times from a misspent youth. No no. That has nothing to do with it) But anyway I guess it's good to know your electronic device is safe and unscratched and warm and able to defend itself with a firebreathing attack.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

knit nation

(above: the Wollmeise stand, before it all got devoured by a swarm of yarnlocusts)

Oh yes, last weekend was knitting festival time!!!1!!1! Like Glastonbury, sort of, but with more cardigans. It's taken me a week to recover from the excitement.

Highlights of the day included:

  • Marvelling at the Habu stall. So many beautifully arranged cones of colourful tweedy yarn, I didn't want to ruin the display by buying any. There was a great selection of unusual yarn, silk / stainless steel blends, and paper! (All fun and games until it rains.)
    habu stall

  • Scoring some beautiful Crannog from the Yarn Yard. I went crazy and got a cardigansworth, probably for Laika, but I haven't 100% decided.

  • Finding this cute project bag in the same fabric as my recently acquired needle case

  • Inadvertently wandering across Ysolda's twitter feed. It was Cara who noticed this - she recognised my Tempest cardigan! (the red one)

  • Winning a Knit nation mug! Here it is being modelled by a good strong brew.

  • Relaxing in the cafe with knitting, cake and gentle yarnbanter. cake

  • Last, but very much not least - meeting the very lovely Kate Blackburn, who not only put up with my yarn-based witterings for most of the day, she met me at the station, navigated me to the correct place, and gave me gifts of yarn and cake. Thankyou so much!


Saturday, July 09, 2011


In a feat of spectacular timing, I went camping this week, just after the sunshine ended and the thunderstorms began. There was a lot of sitting in the tent, listening to the rain and doing this sort of thing. Thank the knitting gods for headtorches!

Obviously the sun came out again once I was back home. But at least I emerged blinking into the daylight with a finished tank top.

I basically made this up as I went along then pinched the neckline from High Street, a pattern with the same stitch count which I stumbled upon serendipitously after casting on. My neckline is slightly different; I used 2ply jumperweight, rather than the sportweight in the High Street pattern. Mine's a finer gauge, so I needed to add a bit of extra straight stocking stitch in at the shoulders to keep the depth of the neckline in the same sort of place. This changes the neckline to more of a U-shape than a V-shape, which I think is no bad thing.

There's no waist shaping or anything, just straight up and down, knitted in the round bottom up to the armholes. It was unbelievably easy to make. If you're feeling chilly, it's almost less hassle to knit one of these than getting up off the sofa and going upstairs to get a jumper from the wardrobe. The most laborious bit was the knitted hem, but this only took one game of Scrabble to complete. And I like the sturdy edge it gives.

Also a good stashbuster for small amounts of nice yarn. The finished top weighs about 140g, and the blue stripe is just under one 25g ball of Shetland Spindrift, so ideal if you are a fair isle enthusiast with lots of leftover bits. The brown bit is gorgeous handspun from Wild Fire Fibres. It's spun so neatly you can hardly even tell it apart from the mechanically spun yarn in the white and blue stripes! I like this fact a lot, it's like a little secret that a casual observer would never spot.

It's quite a lot shorter than the tops I usually make, but I modelled the shape exactly on a favourite tank top which I wear all the time, so I guess it doesn't bother me so much for a tank top. I have a couple of longer shirts that I wear under it so I should avoid any alarming midriff exposure. The fit is nice and snug, after my third attempt at casting on! I put a bit of experimental zigzaggy stranded colourwork in, and it's still stretchy enough to put on comfortably. Its shetlandy embrace feels bloody lovely on.

Now then, if you'll excuse me I feel like I need to go and apply for a job as a librarian or a geography teacher or something...


Thursday, June 30, 2011

tank top thursday

I'm starting a new blogmeme because I missed WIP Wednesday. I suspect I may be the only immediate participant (although I could probably talk round fellow tank top fans Audrey and Vikki).

I love tank tops me! I have a couple of shop bought ones that I basically wore on alternate days throughout the whole of last winter. They are just really comfortable, nice fitting and cosy to wear. The lack of sleeves never seems to adversely affect my core temperature, they are easy to throw on under a coat, and they chime quite well with the massive-geek-about-town look that I generally favour.

It's silly, really, that I haven't made more of them so far. So this is one I started knitting last week to use up some leftover bits of lovely Shetland jumperweight, and to start on some beautiful Wild Fire Fibres Shetland handspun, from the trunk show. The bottom bit is 25g-ish of Natural Shetland, which I think is now renamed Shetland Supreme. The blue stripe is just under a 25g ball of Shetland Spindrift in Blue Lovat, and the dark brown is the handspun. I'm foolhardily making it up as I go along. I did a provisional cast on and a knitted hem, which gives it a nicely weighted bottom edge. There's some stocking stitch and a bit of fair isle type twiddling, because it seemed rude not to in Shetland yarn. I was thinking I was just going to be brave and wing the neckline but, jammily, I have just discovered High Street. This pattern is also bottom up and one of the sizes has exactly the same stitch count as my top! Which is full of win, as I am essentially quite lazy, and was nervous about the potentially ruinous amount of frogging and reknitting of lovely handspun that would inevitably follow any attempt to improvise the difficult bit. My gauge is smaller so it may need a bit of modification, but hopefully I can minimize Crimes against Shetland *makes sacrifice to appease ancient Pictish gods*. If it works out ok I'll write up a bit more detail for fellow trainspotters tank top enthusiasts.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

straightening out the circulars

down in one
Dear readers. How do you all store your knitting tools? Are you super organised, or a needleslattern like me?!?

I'm not a messy person really, but my knitting areas can get a bit chaotic. Little scrag ends of yarn, too small to rehome but too big to throw away, adorn every surface. Pattern printouts flap forlornly out of bookshelves. Needles often end up down the side of the sofa, and I seem to have one less pin after each blocking, making walking around the house barefoot something of an adventure.

I think there are a few reasons for this. Knitting is my relaxation time, and I don't want to spend it doing boring stuff like tidying. Also my principal knitting time is late in the evening, whilst flaked out on the sofa. I'm generally in a fairly low energy state, gawping at the telly/internet, with parts of my brain already shutting down in disgust that I haven't made it to bed yet.

I bought my Knitpicks Options interchangeable circular needles, like, years ago. I can't remember when. You can tell it's been a while because they've been renamed to Knitpro in the UK for a few years anyway. I love these needles, and there is always at least one piece of knitting attached to them. For the reasons of laziness outlined above, during this long period of mindbogglingly heavy use, they'd been kept in the original packaging. This is a piece of flimsy cardboard threaded with a piece of elastic. Inevitably, a couple of weeks ago, the elastic snapped.

The needles were basically now all just mixed up in a heap at the bottom of my knitting bag. I was driving mr. rubbishknitter up the wall, pausing the tv every 5 seconds while I wandered round the house looking for needle sizers. Trying to find two matching tips and a suitable length of cable was seriously eating into my precious knitting time. This was not good. I did what everyone does in a crisis. I went to Etsy.

And after a bit of rummaging around, I found this whole section devoted to interchangeable needle organisers. *Cue choir of angelic voices*

And in less than a week, despite shipping all the way from the US, I have got my organiser and I bloody love it.

It is beautifully and thoughtfully made by a nice friendly lady. There is plenty of room for all my interchangeables and cables, a little pouch for notions, and some wider pockets for cables.

It even fits nicely in the side pocket of my knitting bag. I went crazy and tidied that too, shovelling out the detritus of a billion battered ball bands at the bottom. Look how much room for knitting there is in there now! Two whole skeins of lovely Wild Fire Fibres handspun and a couple of balls of Shetland Spindrift... nice. Now if you'll excuse me, i have an appointment with the sofa...


Sunday, June 12, 2011

broken stones

moody indie kid about to write some poetry
This is a quick toddler jumper I made as a sample for Wild Fire Fibres' stall at Woolfest. Sample knitting, I can't get enough of it these days. Who would have thunk that someone with the online moniker rubbishknitter would be entrusted with such a task, not once but twice in a row! Bwahahahahah all your lovely yarnz are belong to me! Anyway this particular yarn is a beautiful hand-dyed bouncy merino, Zeus DK, in colourway Broken Stones.

whole jumper
I had two skeins and I wanted to pick a pattern that I could use up every last inch of the yarn on, so I went for Runaround Raglan. I knew I had about enough yarn for the second size, and as it's top down I figured I could just keep going on the body and sleeves until I ran out. I quite like long sleeves on the wee man, you can fold them up when he's eating his tea or fold them down if you're out for a walk on a cold day, whilst also slowly unfurling them as he grows.
daisy daisy
I'm not much of an expert in hand-dyed yarn pooling prevention, but Vikki cunningly suggested knitting each row using alternating skeins, so I gave this a go. It worked really well - I think with something as irregularly shaped as a jumper, you would be extremely lucky to get to the end of a single skein without some kind of Pooling Incident, such as I had with my tempest cardigan.

I quite like this pattern for hand-dyed yarn. The cables running along the raglan increases and down the sides give you a bit of knitting entertainment, but with all that stocking stitch it's simple enough texturally to show off the colours in the yarn. It also avoids the over-the-top cabled/lacy/hand-dyed too-many-things-going-on-at-once trap. And really quick to make. TDRs are so full of win if you're a bit strapped for time.

It's a good fit too. Nice wide neckline so it's super easy to put on and take off, accommodates a chubby toddler belly, and has a bit of growing room. I was thinking it would be a snug fit by winter when he needs it, but frankly today's alarming balticness has underlined the need for woolly summerjumpers in northern England. (My sis in Cumbria just last week lost some of her veg patch to ground frost! I know!)

Now if you excuse me I'm going to get back under my summer sofablanket... please to be bringing me a brew and biccies, cheers


Monday, May 23, 2011

beady, aye

I think I might have a bit of a shawl problem.

This is bitterroot. I loved making it so much I knitted far too fast and gave myself tendonitis. For 2 weeks I was in ouchy-wrist hell, unable to wave at people over the road, or use a mouse.

I was quite grumpy for those two weeks. What does one do when one can't knit or code? I tried to remember Hobbies Of Old. I did a bit of gardening. And grumbled quite a lot.

Then, one day, waking up in a haze of ibuprofen and gin with my arm in a tubigrip with a shatterproof ruler down the inside, it was all ok again! Not having learned any kind of lesson, I picked up the shawl and knitted continuously without pausing to eat / make tea / sleep until it was all finished.

It's for Purl City Yarns, I made it using just under 2 skeins of their gorgeous Manos Del Uruguay Serena, colourway 6977.

I am totally in love with this yarn. If it was human I'd buy it pints and laugh at its jokes. It's a very subtly variegated, soft dove grey alpaca/cotton blend. There's a nice crisp cottony stitch definition but the alpaca softens it and makes it warm.

I got some beads from The Bead Shop in Afflecks Palace. They're clear with a silver lining - these ones i think. (If you've not been to this place, you should. Sweetie jars from floor to ceiling, full of SO MUCH SHINY.)

I made the small size, but it turned out pretty huge, and really didn't take very long at all. I'm a big fan of DK weight yarn for shawls.

It's off to be displayed in Purl City tomorrow (but I can have it back when they get bored of it. bwahahahaaa!)


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

the castoff of adventure

superflying citron
My friend Amy (cross stitcher extraordinaire, creator of this lovely Mr Men wall hanging and Buffy themed awesomeness) has recently enjoyed a birthday. I am a big fan of both Amy and knitting shawls. So I knitted her this shawl.

It all happened because a couple of weeks previously, in the pub she had been describing a new posh dress, made of bottle green and black shot silk. I sipped beer and nodded whilst excitedly traversing the Purl City yarns laceweight section in my mind. It's getting dangerous to even mention colours in my earshot these days.

The next day, I sprinted excitedly to the LYS, had a rummage around the shelves with Vikki and Cara and found a perfectly coloured Schoppel-Wolle Laceweight Zauberball. I cast on straight away for a Citron.

It may be stating the bleeding obvious to point out, that if you are the kind of person who gets bored by large expanses of stocking stitch, it's probably not the pattern for you. But I'm a big fan of keeping stitchwork simple where a multicoloured yarn is involved, and Citron fits that bill nicely. I think the thick/thin textural stripes add just enough visual interest to stop it being boring to work on.

on the washing line

As I had quite a bit of yarn left over (laceweight just goes on forever doesn't it? i love it) and I am a knittingmasochist, I even added an extra pattern repeat. This involved increasing to 636 stitches, using my longest ever Knitpicks Options cable, and developing arms like Mr Tickle. I managed about 8 Stakhanovite rows of the final ruffle before collapsing to the floor begging for mercy. I'm glad I did this though as I think the small size of the pattern as written leaves it just on the cusp of wearability. I don't have any modelled shots unfortunately but this size will stay on your shoulders quite nicely, or you can wrap it comfortably around your neck in a scarflike fashion.
citron money shot
I had just enough energy left to incorporate a beaded cast off before expiring, hooking a small black bead on with a wee tiny crochet hook every 10 stitches in the cast off row. I was worried about getting some of the old stocking stitch roll at the end, so I thought the beads might counteract that. This sort of worked, and where the edge still manages to curl upwards, at least a viewer can be distracted from any structural failings by the shininess of the beads. Look at the beads! look at them!
got my beady eye on you


Monday, April 25, 2011

northern skies

front view
I am ridiculously excited this week, because this silly hat I made won the Purl City yarns design competition accessories category and customers' choice award!

It's called Northern Skies, with apologies to I am Kloot, it can't do much for your rock'n'roll street cred to have a song commemorated in knitwear. I designed and made it in January to enter the Purl City 'Inspired by Manchester' design compo. I couldn't think of anything more typically Manc than a row of terraced houses, and I liked the idea of having them go all the way round a hat in a continuous circle. I also liked the idea of having stars in the sky, people always say you can't see them in a city, but it's not truuuuue, I should know I spend a lot of time in the gutter looking up at them.
top view
It was a little daunting to knit, the houses are all done in stranded colourwork so there's not a lot of stretch, but fortunately the fit around the head is pretty spot on. (Fits my head too, the model above has a pretty much adult sized head now!) The bit with the windows was fun, I just went for a random pattern with some lights on and some off. As a rule there aren't more than two windows next to each other in the same lighting state, as this makes for tricky long float/weaving in issues, which I prefer to avoid as much as possible. All my fingers were occupied by coping with three colours at once anyway. Yikes! Turns out it's quite doable, but a pretty immersive task. Good job I managed to get through those few rows without needing to answer the phone / scratch / point at anything.

The sky is Fyberspates Sparklesock in Midnight, which is dark blue with little silver spangles in, so it's just perfect. I embroidered a few extra stars on with this Drops Metallised silver thread, and also backstitched up and down between the houses in grey to outline them a bit. The grey is a slightly heavier weight, it's King Cole baby alpaca dk, and the brickwork is Lang Jawoll sock, but I quite like the way this gives the houses a strong, cartoonish outline. The roofs are purled to make them stand out a bit against the sky.
side view
I might get round to writing up the pattern some time soon, but I am quite bad at finding the time to do this, and tbh I'm not sure anyone else would be daft enough to make such a thing anyway. Rubbishknitterjunior likes it a lot though.

Thanks everyone who voted for my hat, and Purl City for the awesomely generous prize! :)