Hattata Flatatta

New finished project!
Well, new-ish. The Offspring year-end class project was on WWII, specifically the evacuation of children. The final day of the project involved them living as children being evacuated, beginning with them being delivered to the “evacuation centre” in the morning, in period costume, and being issued with their ration cards and gas mask (previously created in lessons).
The Offspring decided he needed me to knit him a proper flat cap, sooo…. He already has one, from Cheryl Andres’ Inishmore Cap pattern, but could we find it? So I made another, in some Aranweight natural Herdwick I have lying around. No biggie. He also wanted an authentic vest -preferrably Fair Isle, the picky varmint – but I said nay. I’m not making a Fair Isle vest in under a week. Instead I put him in his old Bam-bam vest (a modified Sherwood by Angela Hahn), banking on Aran-ish patterns being sufficiently common by the 1940s. I made this for him when he was about 4, but with added length in hopes it would last a while. He’s now 10 1/2, so it worked – although the collar is a bit on the tight side. It does look a bit skimpy, but we were going for the impoverished inner-city rapscallion look anyway. Ahem.
At the end of the day, parents were asked to collect their children (their own children, mind) in period costume as their evacuation foster parents. Now my wardrobe is severely lacking in utility frocks, but I looked up how to do Victory rolls in my hair. Sadly, I do not have 1940s hairspray either, so this was a bit of a flop. They just about stayed in at the front, so I wore a headscarf a al Rosie the Rivetter to cover the rest. My frilliest blouse, baggiest workman denims and wellies, and I was a Land Army gel! I thoroughly mortified the poor child by marching in as “Captain Bagshot”, checking teeth and muscles on the ‘malnourished city boys and gels’, and demanding to know what each of them knew about ploughing and calving before making my choice.
Asante sana Squash banana, as they say, or: My work as a mother is done…

Maquereau Beret & Mitts in Knotions Re-Launch!

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I am fizzing about this being published!

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 stole all the best names, 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?

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* – 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.

*** – Just like her aunt.

 

LOLkid Hat

Lol Kids Accessories
© Practical Publishing
© Practical Publishing

The proposal for what started out as a baby accessory set, but was finally published as the Tiny Teddy Hat in Knit Now #48, and modelled on possibly the most grumpy baby ever! He just knows he’s being humiliated… This is so cute, and so ridiculously easy to make, it could even be used to teach a beginner how to knit.

I do feel it’s a mother’s duty to put her offspring in silly hats and take pictures. I have a lovely slideshow that I’m planning to play as a backdrop to my hilarious speech at Dread Lord Chthulu’s wedding. That’ll teach him for kicking me to bits for nine months!

Very simple, bing bam boom. I probably wrote too much, but that for was two patterns. The sketch was, I feel, less helpful than the diagrams.

The rights should be back in September – just in time for Christmas knitting!

Time to increase the medication, methinks…

I have been in a stew of rage recently.

It started with the business of my trip to Belfast, and the chewing out I got for (supposedly) not telling anyone that I was going. Really – Imabee 46 next week, people. Been dressing myself and tying my own shoe laces for damn close to half a century! I’m really tired of having to squeeze my news into 10 words or less before I get interrupted, talked over, etc. Believe it or not, dear family, there are people  who shut up when I walk into a room and take notes when I speak, and who would never dream of monologuing on Great Sandwiches I Have Known over my learned and witty discourse(s). No sir!

But the fury is leaking out everywhere. I have insulted entire continents online, and yesterday I very nearly rammed a car IRL. Well, what the feck were they doing parking across the petrol station slip road?!?! Two of us trying to leave, one trying to enter, and another already in but unable to park because YOU, you dribbling moron, decide to GET IN THE BLOODY WAY.

Currently what is wearing my molars is test knitting. A few months ago, I decided to have a practice run at having a design test-knit using a pattern I’d already published. It’s a pretty popular free pattern, lots of downloads, in a lot of queues, but no one’s got round to making it yet.  I thought it would be a good learning process to ease me in. No biggie, right? Well, it’s been a fecking nightmare. First I had to fill in a form that made my PhD look like a toddler’s wall scribblings. I, the trained researcher, nearly lost the will to live doing the research for this form, trawling through the archives of helpful notes and guidance. Not that I’d mind if I’d got my testers, but only one person responded. Then I started getting messages about the progress of the test. They were standard-letter style messages, but felt rather brusque, nitpicky, officious and unhelpful.

I tried getting testers in a less stressful environment. But all I got was a rather unhelpful reply saying my pattern wasn’t what I said it was… I don’t think I’ve ever felt such bile towards someone I don’t even know. Seriously, if I could have reached down the internet and broken every one of his/her fingers, I would have. I’m still livid.

———–

And I had to walk away from the computer just there, as I was in danger of Hulking out and this is my last pair of clean trousers. So I went and deep-cleaned the dishwasher, on the same principle that my dear old silver-haired granny told me to eat a teaspoonful of dogshit each morning*. And isn’t it good that I did**? because I know exactly h to handle it now***. Lady-like, self-aggrandising, with big words.

I am also feeling rather better about the seething ire. Because it does bother me – I think of myself as pretty chilled. I gots a rep to maintain, yo. It’s good because I’ve been feeling like crap for so long that getting mad was too much effort. It was easier just to get more miserable and defeated. Now, knocking heads together sounds like a fun plan, and plans are always better than vegging.

ION, I have begun taking the dog up the forest in the mornings, after dropping the Mighty Offspring to the bus. The exercise half kills me – I’m still stiff from this morning – but I shall continue undaunted, although the foraging is rubbish this year. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, my arse – not one of the brambles will be ready before the frost hits, the wild strawbs never got round to fruiting, and there’s no sign of the mushrooms that were carpeting the place this time last year. The currants got blown off the stems back in July, and even the sloes aren’t putting in an appearance. My cherry crabapple has ONE apple on it, and the plums, cherry and pear didn’t even bloom. I have a few tiny, miserable apples and maybe a handful of raspberries to show for the season, and my heritage potatoes still aren’t ready – and they were first earlies!

TTFN!

* – i.e., that nothing worse could happen to you that day.

** – walk away. Not eat the dogshit.

*** – again, not the dogshit. The unhelpful replier.

New Pattern!

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Because You Can Never Have Too Much PI – pi fez!

Okay, it’s a beanie – unless you felt it into shape. And add a tassel. The numbers down the sides list π to 50 decimal places. To  be specific, it starts: Π ≈ 3.14… i.e., π approximates to 3.14, etc. Cos that’s how I roll.

Fun Facts About Π:

  1. 50dp is overkill. Only 39 decimal places of Π are required to calculate anything to redundant levels of precision – for example, you could navigate across the known universe and be no more than one atom’s width from your intended destination at the end. More than my satnav can manage…
  2. The Guinness World Record for memorising Π is held by Lu Chao – 67,890 digits. Some people really have nothing better to do.
  3. Π is known to 10 trillion dp – calculated by Shigero Kondo in October 2011, using an ordinary home computer. Mr Kondo was unavailable to comment at his parents’ basement, as he was waiting for a pizza delivery.

More Gloves…

The black gloves are a pair I made for my teaching placement mentor. The pattern is Susie’s Reading Mitts from Dancing Ewe Yarns, and I used one skein of Katia Merino 100%.  Looks great, and can be used for wiping a whiteboard at a pinch.

The Pi Mitts I made for Pi Day – 14th of March, or 3/14 in American. As in 3.14? Because I have a bit of an obsession with π, as the numerati will deduce from the quote under my avatar. Utterly wasted on the little darlings at school, who are largely unaware of the symbol, and the fact that the decimal places continue beyond .14. But I like them. I started with green as the main colour, but found it didn’t quite ‘pop’ enough for my liking, so the second glove uses the red. It’s Teddy DK, wholly acrylic. They’re a little tight on my hands, but I was in a hurry. The pattern is a free Ravelry download.

Because I am a sucker, I made the skully convertible gloves and the Tam of Rassilon for X at Christmas. He has somehow become totally unequipped for winter, no jumpers, coats, gloves, anything to keep warm. I’d always intended to make both for him anyway, but the separation got in the way. The tam had to be blocked on a pizza dish! It is vast – though doesn’t look it worn. It’s now March, and I think he’s probably lost them already, doubtless on a binge. Certainly haven’t seen him wearing or carrying them since January.

I have deleted all the patterns I had favourited for him on Rav. That’s all, folks. I’m done.

On the right is a Drops shawl pattern, a basic garter-stitch domino specifically for long-repeat yarn, somewhat enlarged by m’self. The yarn is Teksrena 4-ply 100% wool, a Lithuanian yarn I got off eBay. The photo doesn’t do justice to the glowy colours. I call this Burning Embers.

It’s not a pretty-pretty shawl, but what I wanted was a big blankie that I could wrap around myself. It’s been very useful in the late and bitter winter weather we’ve had. It’s big enough to wear like a Faroese shawl, tied at the back. People like it a lot: I always get compliments when I wear it.

And finally for this post, Mickey Mouse. The Mighty Offspring has developed a real fondness for Mickey’s Playhouse, to the point where I am actually prepared to take him to Disneyland Paris for a few days this summer. Not going mad and considering a fortnight in Orlando, just 3 or 4 days. I… do not share his enthusiasm. Never have, even as a child. That squeaky voice just infuriates me. At least he’s dumb at Disneyland.

The pattern is Leisure Arts #3293, Disney Home: Mickey and Minnie Dolls, which I scored off eBay. I want to make it in Sirdar Snowflake, but while collecting the necessary colours, I made this in Teddy Vanguard DK, Spectrum Strata, and Robin Bonny Babe which I had to hand. The shorts come off, and I have an order for pyjamas already…
T’ra!

Dive In!

Well, let’s pile through this, starting with …socks!

Top left is a self-striping yarn from LIDL, Zettl Sockenwolle Cortina. Just after I finished them, the word on Rav was that Cortina was being pulled and buyers refunded because the stuff felted! These are about a year old, getting tight, and have felted slightly through wear, not washing – so I’m happy enough. Another pair, recently finished, will appear soon. Well, soon for me…

The blue pair is in Katia Merino Baby, a wonderfully soft yarn I picked up in Christine’s of Bournville (a wee treasure house – go there if you can). I did a slipstitch pattern on them, but the wool is so soft and fuzzy that the definition has all but vanished. I also picked up Katia Merino DK for socks for myself – haven’t got round to trying it though. The remaining socks are with the good old Teddy sock yarn from the Bull Ring. The one with the cabled ankles (Ankle of Green Cables, ho ho ho!) has never been on the offspring – the cables draw in too much to fit over his chunky wee limbs – nonetheless, they make a fetching phone sock. The others are my usual negative stripe and Fibonacci in what I poshly call my Crab Apple colours.

Heading north, to Hats!

The pink cloche, Big Belle, is a last-minute, no-pattern knit for Pink Day at school – a fundraiser for breast cancer. I don’t have much pink, apart from a too-small PVC jacket, so I cast on top-down in my one remaining ball of Sirdar Bigga, increasing and trying on as I went. The last few rows were done ‘flat’ in reverse stocking stitch, with a couple of stitches cast on to make the tab that the button is sewn to. It’s a tight fit and maybe a bit too pointy, but looks okay.

The jester’s hat (Borg Queen) is Fool’s Gold, but in gold Hjertegarn Natur Uld that I picked up on hols in Gothenburg, and some leftover Sirdar Big Softie from Begotha. There were some mods for using superbulky. Also, I didn’t bother knitting the 5-stitch hat band. Instead, I picked up stitches afterwards, 2×2 rib for 5 rows, and then did a knitted Picot edging, which l think looks better… I then crocheted chains and sewed them in place on the opposing colours of the crown (no pun intended). I love this hat, though it really only sits on my head. I may have to make another, maybe with more tentacley peaks.

The Spiderman balaclava (Peter Parker Picked a Perfect Period to Press for this Present) is my 100th project!

The Mighty Offspring asked me to tell Santa to buy him a Spiderman mask for Christmas – on 22nd December! I had no idea where to buy one now that Woolies is gone, and no desire to spend time trekking through the shops in the run-up to Christmas, so I decided to cobble something together. The pattern is based loosely on Jackyll and Hide and We Call Him Spidey.  It was finished with a couple of hours to spare – HANDS LIKE CLAWS!!! I went off-chart with exhaustion, eye-fuddle and any other excuse about the eyehole area, but it looks okay for all that. It IS too big, though it would be probably be fine if I sewed some shirring elastic into the collar. MO was speechless when he saw it hanging on the Christmas tree! On recovering the power of speech though, he put in a request for a Venom mask… He’s making do with his father’s BSJ hat in the meantime, pulled down over his face.

The remaining two are a Drops pattern, made with the recommended yarn, Drops Eskimo! I must have come over peculiar to actually use the yarn for the pattern, it’s just not like me at all. I even bought the yarn (from Scandinavian Knitting Design, good value and fast delivery) with the pattern in mind! However, I saved myself by not using the recommended Drops Puddel for the trim. Instead I used some Patons Lush fancy yarn that I picked up on eBay a couple of years ago. It’s a little sparkly and adds some girliness to the hats, which do get compliments. There was only just enough yarn in the balls to complete them, but they do run a bit large – even with my tight knitting. I lightly felted them a few weeks ago and the fit is much better.  The jumper I’m wearing in the photos is a handknit that I liberated from a charity shop. It’s a chunky yarn, 100% wool, with big hairy guard hairs through it. Itchy as all get out, but I don’t mind. £4! I also liberated an off-white fishermans rib crewneck and a blue and white marl 4×4 rib turtleneck, both too large for me so given to X, and a soft and fuzzy Shetland wool jumper with an Aztec-look Fair-Isle design, all for similar prices.

So, lowering the tone to the neck region – scarves!

The first two were last Christmas’s gifts to Mum and Ma-In-Law – Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran and DK respectively. The pattern is a Rav-only download, Anthro-Inspired Scarflet. I got lucky and picked up exactly the right brooch the church Christmas Fayre for Mum’s pink scarf, but couldn’t find anything for the lavendar one, so instead I crocheted a rose using the same pattern I used for the Mighty Offspring’s Christening Shawl. Looks effective, no? My own version is an iron grey yarn from eBay, Knitwitz Camel – 30% camel, 30% alpaca, 40% wool. Very resistant to blocking, as you can see. The brooch is a vintage bone daisy, picked up at the same Fayre along with a matching necklace.

The scarf on the left is Ragged Robin, a reverse-engineering of Annie Modesitt’s Ruffled Roses which is available only through LYS in the US, hence the reverse engineering. The green is Teddy 4ply, but the ‘rose’ is Jaeger Fur, a super-chunky wool-mohair blend that I stumbled across in Northfield’s Pins & Needles. The yardage is tiny – 22yds – but I still have about half the ball left! It’s a bit pouffy and OTT, but livens up a dull suit and is surprisingly warm.

The bobbly purple scarf below left is not a triumph of Aran bobbles, but a very simple scarf made with Teddy Pom-Tiddly-Om-Pom. At £2 in the Bullring, it was 75% off – you couldn’t be bad to it. The yarn came in a great tangled mass, and I wound up cutting it 4 times – yes, me, the master untangler of mohair and laceweight, defeated by novelty yarn. While knitting I just tied the ends together, cutting off any inconvenient bobbles on the way. The bobbles are big enough to hide the ends of the knots! I cast on 5 stitches, one between each bobble. On the second row, I knit into the front and back of each stitch (10sts). Then continued till I ran out of yarn. It really looks like it’s going horribly wrong for the first 6 rows or so, when the bobbles lie down and start behaving themselves. Be patient.

The lacy little number is another Christine’s of Bournville find, Katia Tobago. The colours really are that vivid. Okay maybe not – the camera was playing up at the time. The pattern is Queen Anne’s Lace, which, though really quite simple, manages to be oddly tricky. You need to do EXACTLY what the pattern says, even if it seems a bit odd at first. I made this for Ma-In-Law for what I thought might possibly her birthday – I only have a rough idea of when this is, as X had no idea of the date at all. Unfortunately, this was around the time things came to a head between us, so I have no idea what she thinks of it, or indeed if she even received it.

I think that will do for now. I do have a few more scarves to include, but they are either not quite finished or I have no photos as yet. Only the finished product will appear, m’dears.

T’ra fn!

K

Monster post

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

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Aha.

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?

TTFN
K

* 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…

Momma gotta brand new bag!

I do! I will!

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!!!”.***

TTFN
K

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‘.

*** – Sunday Post Translation Services, Inc.