Most of my tricks depend on one thing: taking the yarn from the centre of the ball, instead of the outside –
Admittedly, sometimes it takes a bit more fishing about than this video shows. However, using the yarn from the centre-out means the ball stays in one place and isn’t bouncing around the floor.
So, we have our wool sitting nicely, in one place, not gathering dirt and cat-hair.
Most of my colourwork is in the Fair Isle vein: 2 colours in each row/round. For this, I hold one yarn in my right hand, and the other yarn in my left hand – usually the dominant colour in my right hand as I am a British-style knitter:
This allows me to keep one ball on my left-hand side, and the other on my right-hand side – so they can’t get twisted up.
On the rare occasions where I use more than 2 colours per row/round, I have a few different techniques.
if the 3 (or more) colours are used in roughly equal amounts and/or regularly across the row/round, I usually just work across/around with 2, using the two-handed technique above, and slipping the stitches to be worked in the other colours; then, I work the other colour(s) across/around, slipping the stitches in the first two.
if the colours are not very equally or regularly used across/around, then I use a knitting thimble.
if I’m using a lot of colours in very irregular amounts, it’s usually intarsia or ‘picture’ knitting. Then, I wind a metre or so of each colour onto a yarn bobbin, which can hang at the back of the work wherever that colour is needed:
I do not like the knitting thimble as I’m a fairly tight knitter and find Continental knitting (yarn in the left hand) lends itself to lots of annoying dropped stitches, but needs must. I have been known to combine techniques, e.g., two-handed knitting with a thimble when working with one dominant colour (right hand) and 2 or more non-dominant colours (left hand).
I grew up in a house with no TV. Shocking, yes? We also had no phone. GASP. There were lots of other things we didn’t have – mains water and central heating, for example, but it’s the TV I’m concentrating on here. I only got to watch the goggle box in other people’s houses, and that rarely: people in those days still switched the TV off when visitors came, to facilitate conversation. Those without TVs switched off the ‘wireless’ – as radios were known – and those without wireless put their books/knitting/embroidery down, or removed their wellies/aprons, depending on the time of day.
However, when I was about 9, we got our first TV, a black and white model in a beautiful, possibly fake wood surround, with a big dial for tuning into the channels. There were four channels, none providing more than 8 hours of programming a day. Actually, there were only four channels because we lived near enough to the border with Northern Ireland to get their 3 channels (BBC1 & 2 and UTV). We were lots more swanky than our compatriots further south, who only got RTE. Not RTE1, 2, etc. – it was the only channel then.
I became almost instantly obsessed. I absorbed TV into my bones, memorising cast lists, story lines, directors, production companies – I was a walking IMDB. But my most favouritest thing ever was the Saturday matinee. Every Saturday, one of the channels put on an afternoon movie, usually a black and white classic. There was also usually a Sunday matinee, but they weren’t quite so good: too many musicals, and from different eras. They were great family watching, but oh, the Saturday matinee knocked them all into a cocked hat. On Saturdays, square-jawed men in hats traded cigarettes and incomprehensible quips with sultry, sassy women in suits or negligee, in train stations and piano bars. Cynics and losers sacrificed themselves for love and honour, heroes and heroines self-destructed from their darker passions, life was lived against a backdrop of swelling piano and strings, and the Dame ruled them all.
The Dame wasn’t always a beauty, or a brain. She wasn’t innocent, or evil. What she was, was confident. She knew herself, and was happy with it. She put on no airs, put up no pretences, suffered no fools. Tough and tender by parts, she went after her goals, and even if she failed, you knew she’d be okay. There were many takes on the Dame – Katharine Hepburn’s tomboy athleticism, Bette Davis’ brittle sharpness, Barbara Stanwyck’s hardness, Ava Gardner’s voluptuousness – but the epitome was the wonderful Lauren Bacall. Perhaps because Betty, as she was known to her friends, seems to have sashayed the walk in real life too, her performances have a multi-layered authenticity that other dames simply don’t match. They’re too sweet, too venal, too remote. Even as a teen in To Have and Have Not, Bacall exudes the BTDTBTTS attitude of a woman who knows she can handle whatever comes her way.
Bacall was an inveterate knitter herself, often photographed with a WIP on movie sets and in private life.
And so, to knitting. Normally I like to outline where my inspiration comes from, but in this instance, it’s all a bit … nebulous. I like Bacall, but I can’t say she was the direct inspiration. I’m a big fan of monochrome, tessellation, and fitted clothing, but again, these didn’t call to me. Knit Now put out a call with a theme of budget knitting. That didn’t call to me either! Sheesh, I do nothing BUT budget knitting! Somehow, though, the various elements fermented away at the back of my brain until a couple of days before the call was due, and then it was all, “how do I want to look when I’m strapped for cash? FABulous, that’s how. How can I look fabulous? Try for classy rather than runway. Who’s classy? Lauren Bacall. What’s she worn that’s particularly classy? well, that houndstooth suit in The Big Sleep is kind of iconic…” and so on. Lots of Google image searches for the structure of the kind of sexy-but-not-sexy clothes Bacall wore, trying to pin down an appropriate shape.
The Dame Pullover grew, rather than sprang fully formed into my mind. I think it’s a style that’ll grow on people too. It’s smart enough for the office, elegant enough for cocktails, and, yes, classy enough for everything from a church jumble sale to the Aspen ski slopes. I love it more than is seemly for its creator – I should be more modest about these things, and I usually am, I think – but this is perhaps my favourite pattern of those I’ve produced to date, and I design only what impassions me. The nipped waist, the Vikkel braid borders, the pointless wee buttons on the polo neck make my toes curl with joy.
The fact that it’s also the first and, so far, only pattern of mine that’s gone through tech editing with no issues is just the whistle to my pucker…
And here’s the sub. Spot the statutory misspelling that escaped me! And the novel design element that I forgot to take notes on, and then couldn’t reproduce for the sample… I’m making a lot of use of my Kindle Fire, a slim Targus stylus, and an app called SketchBookX Express to produce my sketches these days. Find an image, import it, put a layer on top and ‘trace over’ the image, then delete the image and save the tracing. It’s pretty much what the cool kids have always done with Photoshop, but for me, the touchscreen beats the mouse any day. This technique should work as well on any touch-enabled screen, though I can’t recommend software for individual platforms.
At the beginning of May, I achieved a long-held ambition. ‘Twas a fairly minor thing, compared to world peace, or even convincing the cat to use her litter tray instead of a laundry basket, but an ambition nonetheless.
I published a Selbuvotter-style pattern.
Selbuvotter are traditional mittens (votter) from the Selbu region of Norway. Typically, they are worked in fine yarn in black and white, although red is sometimes used as well, and feature very intricate patterns on a distinctive pointed mitten. The simplicity of the materials belies the stunning range of ornamentation possible even if one sticks rigidly to the traditional techniques, but there is immense fun (may be NSFWODS¹) to be had by breaking the rules too. The overall effect reminds me of Gothic stained-glass windows – particularly with a variegated or hand-painted yarn as background – but this is just my opinion. Selbustrikke (Selbu knitting style) is unusually well-documented for a knitting tradition ~cough~Aran~cough~, and so I shall just leave you to read this synopsis (link to pdf from Selbu Bygdemuseum) for yourselves rather than risk introducing any mythology to the tale…
Ever since I happened upon Selbustrikke, I’ve had a longing to create something as intricate as these lovely patterns, but inspiration failed to strikke strike. I didn’t want to simply stick a pin in a stitch dictionary, I wanted something that had its own story. Last year, I learned of the death of Val Doonican, a singer who was the first in a long line of genial Irish chat-show hosts beloved of the British viewing public. Val was famed for his huge collection of knitted sweaters, or jumpers as they are known here unless you’re a blow-in from foreign parts, and allegedly never wore the same one twice. While noodling through his obituaries and listening to his back catalogue on Youtube, I came across a photo of him in a navy-on-white jumper with some complex colourwork (see photo in the submission outline below), and, as is my way these days, I opened up a Stitchmastery chart and attempted to recreate as much of the pattern as I could make out. Then I just saved it and forgot it.
Fast forward a few months, and Kate Heppell at Knit Now magazine put out a Designer Challenge call. These are short turnaround calls for patterns for specific yarns, typically with only a few days or a weekend to submit a proposal, so there’s usually not enough time to put together a full submission with sketches, swatches, photography, etc. I’ve nailed a few of these calls myself and find the pressure wonderfully concentrates the mind. The ideal pattern for these calls is short and straightforward, so grading for 15 sizes, fully charted lace, and complex shaping are out. It helps to have a design already kicking about in your catalogue, and a plug-in shape REALLY helps. For this, the Selbu style is perfect: I already had the colourwork design as a Stichmastery chart, all I had to do was fit it into the votter shape…
And here is what I sent off:
Note the phrase “usual format” – that’s the plug-in. Many Selbu patterns are single-size, as the colourwork is often non-repeating: the charts depict the whole mitten. Extra sizes mean separate charts for each size!
Newbie designers should take heart that the submission itself is not lovely, and I missed a misspelling, for which I have no excuse. The self-flagellation continues. It’s not terribly detailed either – no need to write an essay. Being prepared to compromise on changes is good too: Knit Now went with two shades of green instead of the white and aubergine I suggested. I’m rarely wedded to the colours in a submission – I expect people to choose their own anyway – but the greens worked beautifully, and fit nicely with the Irish inspiration.
Knit Picks Palette is a fab choice for this kind of detailed colourwork, too: 150 (150!!) colours, a very pleasing price point and UK availability. It’s not unlike JC Rennie’s Unique Shetland, which I used to make my Shadow Pets Hat and Mitts. I’d also recommend Palette for colourwork baby garments generally: you’d get the same level of detail in a baby jumper as in an adult version.
I have another pattern out next month, and a further four in various stages of the pipeline – including one which is an object lesson in not being wedded to colour schemes – or pretty much anything else either! And that this is far from being a disastrous sell-out of one’s oeuvre…
It’s pretty amazing, an honour, really, to be selected as one of the designers in a launch issue, or re-launch in this case. But when it’s a publication like Knotions, it’s a bit special: Knotions is the webzine that offered a platform for Magknits patterns, after that site vanished overnight, along with designers’ fees. Extra karmic brownie points for that, Knotions.
Then, there’s the other designers. WoollyWormhead is in it too! and she is the goddess of all things hatty! and my hat is right beside hers on Ravelry! I’d also mention Elizabeth Helmich, except I hate her because she stoleall the bestnames, and because the gorgeousness that is Jane of the Wood sneers at me from my favourites, saying things like “Not yet, fat girl!*” and “Lace? With those sausage fingers?” I may have to have a go at Sidhe’s Beret, though. Okay, I’ve already selected the yarn. Then, there’s Louise Tilbrook, who has a way with socks that is magical. Honeycomb Cables is particularly mesmerising, shifting shape according to the viewing angle. And finally, Jody Richards managed to produce the cabley City Creek Mitts as well as organising the re-launch, and doing the tech editing and layout for the patterns! Wow! Why am I in this issue again?
Finally, and no less excitingly, it is my beautiful niece and god-daughter’s professional debut** as a model! She has a quirky, fresh-faced beauty** that shows the set to perfection. She performed beautifully, climbing up walls and rickety gates for shots despite being afraid of heights, and never once whined or sulked or demanded cocaine. What more could you ask for?
* – The size range actually goes above my size. But I am also a lazy fatty who who would rather knit smaller garments…
** – Meaning I paid her in actual money, not just hot chocolate and the hat and mitts.
I love love love making gloves, all kinds of gloves, any size, any shape. It’s instinctive: I’m pretty sure there’s some funky topological calculus tattooed into my brain that fills out the details – I’ll never not be able to make them.
I’m generally happy with my romance section: I think I call up a mood pretty well. The inspiration is clear, too. Escher is a favourite of mine, a perfect blending of art, mathematics and vision science, my specialism. I’m not happy with the photo, but with the theft of my beloved old Pentax and poor results from a borrowed DSLR, I decided to scan the swatch. It’s not wonderful – better than the DLSR – but I suppose it gets the message across.
The sketch is, however, laughable. Part of me questions the need for a sketch in some instances where shape is obvious: the brief was for a mitten, FHS. How many options are there? But, the process must be followed. In this case, I did a quick sketch on my tablet, using a sketching app and a finer-than-usual touchscreen stylus. Nowhere near my usual standard for sketching, but I needed to test the tech, and could not be bothered to go through my usual sketch, scan, titivate and save in a suitable format. I’ll probably stroke out one day on the titivating part alone. Give me a pencil over Creative Suite anyday.
Nevertheless, the proposal did the job. My tablet technique has improved dramatically since – but more on that later. Shh!
It’s gotta be. Nearly 5 months since my last post, and let me tell you I have not been idle.
The first report is of the Bob The Builder jumper, last seen almost two years ago. Hallelujah, it’s done. Good job I was making a big size – he’s still got room to grow into it! Forgive the look of misery on his face – I was committing the cardinal sin of interrupting his viewing of Ben 10…
So what else? Ah Christmas. Scarves and smoke ring kind of things, mittens that I stupidly didn’t photograph before they were handed over. Ah well. We went to Ireland for two weeks over Easter, giving Tiny Husband’s HR person heart failure at taking so much time off so early in the financial year. Several gauge-swatch bunnies, Ava’s pink hoodie and Adam’s Trellis cardi were finally given to their intended victims – or not in the latter case, as it was not originally intended for Adam… I’m just too much of a flibbertygibbet with crafts. But I suppose it makes up for being so staid and dull everywhere else.
The Mighty Offspring also benefitted from a Fat Controller hat. This is the top hat worn by Sir Topham Hatt, the eponymous director of trains on Sodor Island and Thomas the Tank Engine’s boss. I made this by laying out cash money – yes! coin of the realm! – for Dark Twist’s Miniature Top Hat pattern, then promptly ignoring most of it. I used Rowan Big Wool rather than a worsted, because, well, I didn’t really want a miniature, just a little’un for a little’un. I think there was some mad nonsense about felting it by boiling it, then plunging it into freezing cold water too, but I am here to tell you – do not waste your time on this pish. Throwing it in the washing machine on a boil wash cycle with a pair of jeans that have got a bit saggy in the arse is yer only man. All I got for that boiling and freezing nonsense is frizzy hair and chilblains, and the Offspring hiding in a corner with his fingers in his ears until Daddy came home. In a way, I’m sorry I didn’t just leave it the size it was, because he looks so cute in it, an Artful Dodger – which fits his personality a lot better these days. The remaining yarn was made into a pair of felted slippers, which spend too much time on the run to be snapped on camera!
Two more pairs of socks, one a green and beige on-the-fly Fair Isle (and I must get a pic of these on him), the other a Spidey pair. I’m really becoming quite inured to arachnids, as I also made him a pair of my Mitts-to-Mittens with the Spidey pattern – though Gordon knows where they are now. Probably in his special superhero chest, wherever and whatever that is this week. The Spidey socks were the last pair I made using the 52st pattern, as I’ve noticed they’re a bit baggy even on MO’s feet. The green and beige were made using a 48st version, which is quite snug. At that point I kind of stopped with the socks, partly because he really had enough for now, and partly due to a misunderstanding. I did buy some socks (they were cheap), big enough for his feet which of course meant they came up over his knees. Not too long after, we were having this little chat about socks and shoes, and he told me he didn’t like the socks I made him. Now, I didn’t at first factor in that ‘buy’ and ‘make’ probably mean much the same thing to a highly-verbal three-year-old who nonetheless only has a three-year-old’s understanding of the magical ways in which goods and services appear in his world. He has about ten lyrically-described birthdays a week – doesn’t mean he’s getting cake every day. Turns out he doesn’t like the long socks, only the Mommy socks… I have started again, as I see some of his socks are a bit small now. More of which anon.
I also made him a woolly sweater, Crab Apple, based on Blue Garter’s Twisted Tree Pullover – with the usually mods for not having the right yarn in the right weight, etc., etc. – do I really have to say this? The pic does not do this justice – it is one of the things I am most proud of making – utterly gorgeous, beautiful stitch definition. I dread the day when he’s too big for it. In fact, I’m plotting how I can lengthen the sleeves and such to get a bit more wear out of it…
But the interesting bit is the yarn. I bought it out of the bargain bin at this market stall I go to. I’d seen other yarn like it before – similar weird rolled-up looking balls – but they didn’t appeal. Many of the colours were drab, and they looked like they were the work of a particularly ham-fisted beginning spinner: I’ve done a bit of spinning so I know whereof I speak here – all twisty and lumpy and bumpy, only singles and the fibre looked rank – nasty old ropy cottony looking stuff. However, this one day, there were 2 balls whose colour just demanded to come home with me, a beautiful vivid sap green. And at 69p for 2 balls in the sale, I wasn’t going to fight over it. Sadly, I had to get the brown because there was no more green, and I needed 3 balls in total, though I must say, it came together well in the end.
It was brutal to work with. I imagine knitting Brillo pad fibre would be easier on the hands. I switched from index to middle to ring finger flicking as blisters rose and fell, and even to my shame did the odd row Continental. I went through many times that 69p’s worth of Norwegian hand liniment. My hands turned green – the dye just seemed to brush off the yarn! and every dozen or so stitches I’d have to stop, grab the ball, and dangle the knitting from it to de-tangle it – it was horrifically overspun. Then I began to notice it was FELTING. Well, sort of getting that another-go-at-90deg look about it, at least. Then there was the quantities of hay I had to dig out of it… Finally, when I wet it to block it, it looked like the dye was just going to leave it completely – it absolutely gulched out of it for ages. The odd thing is, the colour wasn’t really affected – there’s a few white flecks that weren’t there before, but otherwise, it’s the same sap green that drew me in the first place.
Then I went to UK Ravelry Day in Coventry a few weeks ago – a grand day out which I will make mention of – but anyhoo, I was tootling around the rain-soaked stalls, mindful of my budget* but determined at least to beard Jamieson & Smith in their, er, stall, and cop a feel of a few fibres that shall remain nameless (dirty, dirty qivuit), when I just ceas’d all motion. I posed myself a few searching questions and ascertained that something had caught my surveillance attention out of my peripheral visual field. There was a little hurried conferring with longterm memory, with visual memory loudly denying all knowledge and blaming everyone else, and then finally reading comprehension and categoric memory kicked in with a few facts that hitherto had not been going to the same parties, all whilst, unbeknownst to the cerebrum, the legs had wafted me towards a stall I had just passed.
And there by the hokey were some balls with the same odd rolled-up shape to them. Same godawful ropy stuff, in glowing colours – multi-coloured in this case, but I was too stunned to hold that against them. Ye see, all that mental conferring and confabulating – putting of straw and blisters together with dye runs and felting, and marrying that to a chance flicker in the corner of my eye on a rainy Saturday in Coventry – had already told me what I would see written on the gracefully hand-painted sign beside them…
Noro Silk Garden £13.99
But it doesn’t end there… I have poured over Yarndex and online Noro sites, asked questions on fan forums, gone to yarn shops and looked and asked, and I’m no further forward. Noro’s not cornflakes – they don’t make yarn for anyone else, and no one else makes yarn for them. It looks like it might be Maiko 105 colourwise – but Maiko is a new range, and I bought this yarn before Maiko became available! Anyway, Maiko’s also supposed to be plied, not single. I’ve bought more in the interim (yes, even before UK Rav Day!) which has a different structure – 2 plies, evenly spun – but in colours that are closer to Cash Iroha, which is a single (not plied) yarn… So I don’t know what to think – and neither does anyone I’ve asked. It looks like it should be, but it’s not quite right… There’s only a few ‘solid’ Noro ranges, and the colours I’m finding are oh so close – but the weight and the construction is wrong, even for discontinued colours. Quality control reject? Pre-production run that didn’t get past the design stage? Did someone hit the saki too hard at the office party, and do the yarn factory equivalent of photocopying their bum? Or is it something completely different, that just happens to bear certain remarkable similarities? Employees trying to make a bit of extra cash on the side? Industrial espionage? Wool piracy?
Akk. I’m not used to putting in this much detective work and getting nowhere. Answers on a postcard?
* I was rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack in May! It wasn’t – I have the heart of a GOD – but the health insurance policy gave me some free money for the two-day stay in hospital, which was my UK Rav budget…
I’ve been having a go at dyeing wool, using Kool-Aid (right, top) and food colouring and vinegar (right, bottom). I have loads of undyed 4ply which I am probably never going to use up otherwise. The plan is to double-ply it and knit and full (felt) myself a bag. I love Clarice Cliff so I just had to get a copy of Melinda Coss’s Art Deco Knits when it came up on eBay. I’ve had it for a while but the designs are so 80s that I’ll never knit anything from it. However, it would be a pity not to make something. So I thought bags. The first one with be a straightforward knit-up of a sleeve, but if/when I do more, I might try to mimic the shapes of Clarice Cliff’s pottery as well.
I wound off approximately 2oz (50g), skeined it on the back of a chair and tied it loosely with waste acrylic yarn. I washed it in cool water with a little liquid soap, making up the dye bath while it soaked briefly. The Kool-Aid dye bath consisted of 2 sachets dissolved with cool water, in a microwaveable pot (I used a soon-for-the-bin micro pressure cooker) – except for the purple (top, far right) for which I used 4 sachets. The food-colouring dye bath was approximately half a bottle (20ml) of Supercook food-colouring and a good glug of Sarson’s Distilled White Vinegar, in cool water. I didn’t bother rinsing the wool clear of the soap – I read somewhere that it actually might help the dyeing process – and lowered it into the dye bath, adding more water to make sure it was completely covered. A good shuggle of the pot to mix it up, then into the microwave for 2-minute bursts – mine has a default setting of 750W – with 2mins rest between, when I poked it a bit with a whisk to keep it under the bath. For most, the dye bath was clear after about 4 or 5 bursts like this. I then left the wool in the depleted dye bath overnight to cool, though it only needs to reach room temperature. I washed the wool gently in cool water to remove any excess dye, and left it to dry on a radiator. I’ve double plied two already into pullcakes with my Daruma Home Twister (left).
The results of the dyeing were overall pretty fabulous, even if I do tootle me own flute. The colours on the whole are clear and vibrant, and I’m particularly pleased with the good, dense black, which I really didn’t think would come out well at all. Instead, it’s about the best of the bunch, much better than the pic shows. The food-colouring green is lovely too – a nice strong organic sagey colour. I’m very fond of the Kool-Aid turquoise (second from left), and the red (second from right) is lovely and pure too. The food-colouring blue is a huge disappointment though, all patchy. It was my first attempt at food-colouring dye: on some advice from tinterwebs, I soaked it overnight in the dye bath before zapping it. Damn you, tinterwebs! Once more you bring me wrongness! It was actually worse than it looks now: I cooled it, added more blue and, in a fit of poorly-remembered colour-theory madness, a splash of red and zapped it again. It’s better, but it suffers from the madd colorz yet, poor fluff. Saying this, I could probably whip up a bidding frenzy of Wollmeisian proportions on Etsy with the foul stuff. Many’s the fool would promise me their firstborn* for it…
Next time, I will make sure to loosen up the strands within the skein, and tie them VERY VERY LOOSELY indeed. So loosely indeed that they were virtually UN-tied. Even though I thought I’d got them loose enough, they still affected the dye penetration on the first batch. It doesn’t matter much, since I’ll be using them double-plied and then felting.
The Kool-Aid colours are, from left to right: Orange and Lemonade (one sachet each) – light, bright orange Berry Blue – turquoise Lemon-Lime – bright sap green Black Cherry – reddish-brown marroon Watermelon Cherry – peachy pink Tropical Punch – pure red Grape – mid-purple. Not entirely successful.
Other craftiness: a forgotten pair of socks. Sue me. How many pairs have I done? These are claret, ribbed in the leg and down the top of the foot. And another pair, 5-row stripes in red and navy blue. And yet another: Tiny husband’s Regia Bamboo socks are finally finished. And as if that wasn’t enough, a dinky pair of ankle socks for Ickle Baby Cthulhu from the left-over Bamboo. The photos are crap. Don’t know what’s wrong with the camera.
I also made myself a fake Fair Isle tam. Not that I couldn’t make a real one, but I saw the patterns and thought “Oooh!” and “An excuse to use some of that variegated Teddy Picasso** in the camouflage colourway that I unaccountably like so much, without people necessarily catching me out being hypocritical”. So I went at it like a demented thing, so maddened by the promise of fiendish skultammery goodness that I didn’t check stitch counts or anything, finished it in 24hrs – and promptly lost it to the offspring. Seriously. I spend ages working out significant and meaningful Aran symbols for a tam for him, and he won’t touch it. I risk my mental health at the eight legs of monstrous yarn worshippers to make him a Spiderman hat that lies despised and cobwebbed in a corner until I give it to his friend Harryweb. Not to mention all the unbelievably cute little hats for which I don’t even have photos, because they got chucked out of the pram! But let me even day-dream about a hat for someone else – TH’s BS Johnson, my fake Isle tam, his Spiderman hat now that it’s Harryweb’s… – and he WANTS IT NOW. The bottom two pics are his response to mild suggestions that he give Mommy back her special hat.
“Ye can tak awa ma dignity, but ye’ll nivver tak ma tam!!!”.***
P.S. I treated myself to a spinning workshop for my birthday!! Now, once I get a proper spindle…
* – What, precisely, is the attraction of the firstborn? Why does everyone want them? Why the elaborate schemes to get their mitts on them? I say this as a firstborn myself. Though perhaps the fact that no cannibalistic witches/wrathful gods/strange little spinning men wanted me makes me bitter. And envious.
** – This is the DK version of the chunky Teddy Colourama for IBC’s ‘special jacket‘.
Er, well. That was a bit pants, really. July was okay – I even had the beginnings of a decent tan, and managed to get out and about with IBC to do fun Mummy and Baby stuff like going to the pool, etc., but then August came pouring in. I’ve just had two INSET days at school, with the students returning tomorrow, and I’m sitting here, shivering, in a thick jumper, with the heating on and the rain lashing down outside.
We didn’t go anywhere. Despite best plans, we didn’t really have the ready cash. I did get to Rhyl on a day trip though. It was a freebie, with a play-scheme attended by my chief bridesmaid’s 9-year-old son. She had double-booked herself, so she asked me to go to look out for him. I was a little concerned about IBC’s behaviour on a 100-mile coach trip, but he took his cue from the older boy and was very well behaved. He slept briefly both ways, which helped, although a surfeit of pop resulted in a fairly spectacular spew on the way home. Above left is a phone video of IBC and his pal on the beach – it was not warm! – and left is me, knitting a sock on the way to Rhyl.
I managed to finish all but the toe by the time we got back to Birmingham! It is the last of the blue and claret socks I’ll be making for now. It’s a Fibonacci-striped pair: this time I made the leg and the foot bed half an inch longer each, which allowed for up to 8-row stripes, with no fudging like the first Fibonacci pair I did in blue and yellow. One of the most rubbish pics I’ve taken with this phone. I’ve just started on a new series, this time in red and navy.
I’ve done stunningly little knitting over the holidays. I got an automatic spool-knitter, which I have plans for, of which more later. I did make some i-cord with it, about 1.5m, which was appropriated by IBC and has been pressed into service as a tail when he’s playing cats, a tow-rope when he’s playing truck rescue, Cranky the Crane’s grappler thingy, a belt, hair, a necklace… Following IBC’s sudden interest in Spiderman – causing him to purloin various beanies and pull them down over his head as Spidey masks – then pranging into walls – I made him a Spiderman hat in DK using the We Call Him Spidey pattern, a variant on Hello Yarn’s Generic Norwegian Hat. At least he can SEE through this hat. Now: I HATE spiders. How much do I love this little boy? 8 spiders’ worth, that’s how much. And while I was knitting this, every massive spider in the world was attracted to me. I killed two 3-inchers. Seriously. It was like they were coming to worship. GY-Y-Y-YAAAAHHH!
Since the last post, I started my first ever lace knitting project, began the Christmas knitathon, am not substantially further on with the Bob the Builder jumper, and went back to Ireland for a night… It was about the right length of time for a visit home!
My big baby brother turned 40 at the end of October, but the surprise party was on the 10th November. And surprise it was – he’s been like a wasp since his actual birthday because nobody made any fuss, just the odd card and well-wishing, a small token present or two. Organising the party was no mean feat for his wife, as he has been off work with a broken arm for the last few weeks and was underfoot every time she tried to write an invitation or make a phone call. But he was completely fooled. The only tricky bit was that they had to send him into the North on the day on a series of pointless but “urgent” errands, and of course I was coming down from Aldergrove to Kesh, along any route he might take, staying with my sister who he might drop in on for a cup of tea… Any other guest seen travelling down could be explained, but why would I be coming over to Ireland in secret??? It was a good night, there shall be YouTube evidence of the big man DANCING as soon as YouTube deigns to co-operate, and Mum was looking more relaxed, younger and less strained than she has done for years.
I don’t think we’re fully aware yet of the toll on her of caring for Dad in the last few years. None of us knew she had to dress him, for example. I knew she was bathing him, but thought that was just back-scrubbing where he couldn’t reach – ffs TH does that for me! It seems he was more incapacitated than he let on to anyone. The unravelling of his life continues.
So, to wips: the lace scarf was inspired by a cone of black mohair (or fluffy string) I found dumped outside a late neighbour’s house. How grue is that?! She must have been a machine knitter, because there were other bits and bobs – including pieces of knitting machine – lying about, obviously fallen out of bins and not picked up by our delightful and hard-working binmen. The scarf pattern is merely of 8×6-petal flowers with a garter-stitch border, nothing exciting. However it has been frogged about 6 times to date: I have only managed to do 3 rows of flowers, and one of those has only 7 flowers on it. The next row would have had only 5, as the total number of stitches had dropped from 64 to 44! I have no idea how this happened. It’s not as if I’m not well used to textured patterns. It’s not like I can’t count! I checked and rechecked and double-checked the pattern, the number of stitches on the needle, counted and re-counted the pattern stitches off and checked again that the fluffiness or the yos weren’t ‘creating’ stitches – and still I either had too many stitches or too few at the end of each row. The only row that work out right is the one where the Offspring was torturing me for walks and purpo juice and cuggles. If it ever works, I’ll give it to the Offspring’s childminder.
The knitathon is just to make little token gifts for Mum, my sis, and my MIL. Last year I made a skinny scarf and gloves set in eyelash yarn for them – the gloves were actually purchased black fleece jobs, but I knitted matching eyelash-yarn cuffs for them. And didn’t take pics – pity, as it was quite effective. This year, I saw an interesting pattern in Simply Knitting mag. Weeell, pattern. Anyhoo. Tis a baggie. Supposedly, a bedroom cushion (does anyone really have these things, unless they’re selling the house?) which doubles as a nightwear holder (again, does ANYONE use these things?), which presumably provides the cushiony goodness, otherwise you wind up with a nightie case and a teeny cushionpad lying on the floor. There’s 2 yarns, and something goin on between them. Naturally, the two yarns are only available on the second moon of Tau Ceti 6 during the bicentennial eclipse, but only to quadripeds. But I got some Patons Lush (surprisingly soft) to substitute for the sparkly yarn, and for the other I’ve quadruple-plied some thin chenille from the stash. That’s looking good, like sari yarn. I’ll make up two versions, one in blues on eau-de-nil chenille, and the other in autumn colours on wine chenille. I figure I’ll just give them, they can use them as they want. In my sis’s case, (blue/eau-de-nil version) I hope she will use it to pick out colours for her bedroom in the new house. Please God. Anything so long as next visit I don’t have to wander around saying how well I think donkey pink, terracotta and putty beige go together (*shudder*).
On Bob, I’m about halfway up the helmet bit on the front, having begun working flat from the armholes. Ho hum. Erm. That’s about it.
And I should be Ravelry -bound in the next couple of days!!!
Also known as a black mystery-yarn sweater with a bit of cabling and moss-stitch. Still, TH is happy. He’s had it on a few times since, but usually whips it off as soon as he comes indoors because “it’s so warm”, so even when I’ve had the camphone there’s been no opportunity to snap it. Yesterday, though, he came home early and I cornered him in the back garden and wouldn’t let him in till I got the pics.
And here it is, photographing well for black thanks to our wintery sunshine – the stitch detail shows up beautifully. The turtleneck collar is 2×2 rib, over about 76st I think. Clumping a little at the sides because of TH’s simian posture and his habit of mugging for the camera, but otherwise a lovely fit for a nine-stone hank of string.
Sadly, TH is not looking his lovely best. His workplace organised the staff flu jabs yesterday, and he had a bad reaction – hence the early homecoming. We were supposed to be going out to a work do of mine last night, babysitter organised and everything, but in the end I went alone, leaving him with his head down the loo, loving spouse that I am.
Apropos of space-filling, and pointedly ignoring a certain 2yr-old putting in some practice for the Toddler Olympics (All-Out Tantrum event), here’s the Bob the Builder sweater thus far. There’s only 3 or 4 rows of ‘face’ left before I get into the helmet, and the first 4 rows of the logo on the back are in place – not enough to photograph though. And yes, those are nappy pins – I use them to hold the nyims* of yarn not in play. TH’s aversion to washables – odd given he’s happy to be coated in all manner of shite from disintegrating disposables – left me with a surplus. The hair is done in a knit version of bullion stitch for a curly look … that was the plan, but we shall see.
The second pic shows the reverse: all in all, quite neat; most of the tails are on the (inside) left, due to the way I am knitting on the colours (i.e., leaving a long tail to be knitted on the next row). Hopefully this will be tidier in the making-up stage. I really do not enjoy putting garments together, and tbh I would not be dying about picture-knitting/intarsia if it wasn’t for seeing the picture appear row by row. Such a pity knitting in the round and intarsia don’t go together…
Oh for Pete’s sake – Aran? Irish? black? Begorra? Begotha? Catch up peeps…
* – a mangled anglicisation of the Irish mion (m-YUNN), meaning a very small amount, what can be held in the palm of the hand with the top finger-knuckles straight and fingertips touching the mid-palm.