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 II

Let’s see, a good long while ago, the father of the Monstrous Offspring’s playmate at the childminder’s asked me if I could make a replacement blankie for her. He is also the Head of IT at work, so I ain’t gunna be p!ssing HIM off, with the state my laptop’s in! I had a look at the pitiful remnants of her blankie, and there was just enough left for me to make out that it was definitely crochet, three long stitches together and a chain between each group, into which the next row’s three stitches went. The long stitches might have been trebles, the number of stitches in the chain might have been 3 or 4 – the poor thing was too matted to tell. But I had a go at it for her birthday, and she was delighted. I was worried she would feel it was trying to take over, but she wrapped it round herself, twirled with it, was a butterfly, etc. Honour was satisfied.

I should really try to crochet more. It’s starting to be a little ouchy on my hand, and that’s not good. I may even have a project in mind…

Tiny Husband has expressed an interest in tie pins and waistcoats – now that his workplace has made ties optional for all but front of shop staff. Contrary beast that he is. So I made him a 1940s knitted waistcoat! The yarn is from a massive cone of natural 100% wool – Herdwick possibly – that I bought for nothing when I was still leaving the universe of dolly-mixture acrylic – didn’t even know Herdwick was a breed! There’s probably more than enough left for Louhi, once I get the courage together for such a long project – and a decent pair of gardening gloves: that stuff is rough! Currently, I’m making a Noodle Shrug for the bridesmaid, using this wool doubled.

This is all by way of diverting attention from the fact that I went on a big me me me drive recently. I attempted to make this for myself using some no-name chunky wool blend from LIDL. It was a very fast knit – all done, plus other knits, on our two weeks in Ireland – but it was just too. Low-cut. And there’s just no way I was going to add even more bulk by wearing something underneath it to hide Pinky & Perky from a curious world. It awaits frogging and a possible rebirth as Owls. My Ruffled Collar Pullover continued apace, but there’s only so much time I felt like devoting to ribbed mohair. Making considerable progress is my Clarice bag. No photos, but it is almost finished, which I am quite pleased about. I’ve only been able to work on it for short periods, as the multitude of bright bobbins tends to attract cat, son and husband, to the detriment of the work.

Then I saw these, and had to have them for my own. They are Penispoopcakewaffle Socks. Brainchild of one Wendy Moreland, it is a free Rav download, not available elsewhere I’m afraid.

For a time, this was all I had completed for myself to wear to UK Rav Day, and durned if I could find a pair of shoes, among the millions I own, that I could wear them with – even just a pair I could wheek off easily for showing-off purposes (why does that sound dirty now it’s in print…). I had slaved and slogged into the wee hours many a night trying to finish off my Joan Crawford (in a black variant of the mystery yarn mentioned in the previous post) for the day, only to be defeated at the last by the finishing. Sew a hem on a jumper, will ya, Biddy Ann? Aye right. I ask you.

And then, the blindingly obvious hit me. Funny how often that happens. Some time ago, I answered a plea from someone about the infamous February Lady Sweater – or as thee, me and the cat would call it, bed jacket. Cardigan if you’re being charitable. This is viral knitting as its finest. The Susan Boyle Youtube video of knitting. Now That’s What I Call Knitting #6306 (which is the number of times it’s been made so far, according to Ravelry) – you get the idea. It’s the adult version of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Baby Sweater on Two Needles. I first came across it a good while ago, being touted as suitable for a maternity cardi, and thought good luck to it. It’s mostly lace, which is not something I’m dying about at the best of times. What with neither being pregnant nor having the prospect of pregnancy, not to mention having a very great hatred of the current fashion for looking pregnant (even though it worked in my favour when I was) I had no interest in the thing. But a plea went forth, and I answered it.

The whys escape me. I mean, it’s not like no one out there had ever made one. Some people have made – well – quite a few. They’re a bit like sock knitters: they’ve found what they were born to knit, and, well, they go to it with a will. Anyway, this is about me me me, so back to your normal service.

Her questions were quite complex, possibly made so by a difference of language, and in the end I had to cast on to check that my reading of the pattern was correct. For handiness, and because it was roughly the right weight, I started off with an apricot cotton – Paccia La Lana Cinzia – which I got in a fire (or possibly bomb) sale in Belfast about 18 years ago. I had tried doing things with it before, but nothing had quite worked. Undaunted, I plugged on with FLS to the point – at the end of the collar/start of the lace – where her questions ended, and was pleased to report that I was correct (as was she, just confused, but then this is about me me me. I don’t know why I have to keep saying it). By then I had invested a substantial amount of time on the project; I thought I might as well use up this stuff after all that time in a box, moving countries with me.

Okay fine, I just couldn’t stand the thought of ripping it out again.

So I continued. I soldiered on with the lace – it wasn’t too hard, especially after I put 15 million stitchmarkers at every repeat. I could even do it without looking, managing half a row or so (there are about 85 giblillion stitches per row…) on the bus. Then I remembered I was doing a maternity tent – sorry, smock effort. Never a good look on one so sumptuously endowed as moi, and thanks to my recent success in vanquishing the Weed, I am packing a smidge more round the waist than I like. So not just huge jugs to make it sit out, but a muffin top to keep it from sneaking back in. By jaze sez I, I’ll need to do something about this.


So I shaped it. Hah! Pheer my madd skillz. I narrowed it in to my waist, then widened it out again for my hips. Then along the way I thought, you know, for ages I’ve been longing for something a bit piratical, a bit Jacobean, something with booty and flounce and that certain Laurence Llewellyn Bowen sensibility – something with oomph and tra la and a fol de rol to set the cat among the curtains. So I SUPER-sized the hip increase for a bouncy little peplum, ha har! Then I added cuffs, collar and hems in a vintage Astrakhan I have about me, and some gold-and-black buttons I found in the market, and voila! The effect is not fitted, but semi-fitted: I can still wear a jumper underneath. Though part of me is tempted to unpick and re-do it, because I feel I didn’t start the decreases early enough. But whatever.

I just about finished it in time to travel to Ireland, where I wore it almost constantly. The photos had to be taken that evening, before it was finished, or blocked or anything – you can see the ball of astrakhan balanced on my shoulder. I’m not sure now why it was so urgent, but it was. One day I’ll get nice pics. Ones where I don’t get exasperated by the photographer’s fear of pressing a button on my very complicated camera phone while panicking over the location of the passports…

Next installment: UK Rav Day!

TTFN
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.

There Went The Summer.

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!

So what have I done with my summer? Wellll… This:


Here Comes The Summer –

Woo-ooo, Here Comes The Summer!

Hurrah for The Undertones! Thirty-odd years on, I still find myself singing this one at some point during the sultry hell that is the British Summer – usually while out frying eggs on the pavement.

School closed on Tuesday, after 3 days of end-of-years jollies for the kids, including school trips, the disco, and Sports Day, which was a Gladiators-style challenge between staff and students. I did not join in, partly because I wasn’t asked, and partly because I had serious misgivings about the whole thing. Far too many opportunities for harm, given the nature of the little hoodlums. I did have several offers, mainly from the Yr 10 boys, to take me down. Ummm, boys – you do realise I’m Irish? 8 years military? and the body-building/power-lifting thing I did that 15 years on still has me looking like a drag queen in a frock? Frankly I don’t trust myself to stand there and take it like a good teacher if one of them decided to assault me for real. So I don’t put myself in that situation.

I have plans for the summer – swapping bedrooms with the Offspring, for a start. They are about the same size – his current room is very slightly larger. I did some calculations and figured out our furniture would fit better in his and vice versa, and since ours is further from the living room there’d be less chance of him being disturbed by conversation, tv, etc. I have to paint out the feature wall in our room and put a mural on instead (Thomas the Tank Engine?), then totally repaint his room for us. I’ve arranged to borrow an overhead projector from school for the mural – I just need to sort out printing a suitable image on acetate. Quite looking forward to it, though I’ve no idea how to keep IBC out of the way while I do it!

I wanted to say a few words on the subject of converting flat knitting patterns to knitting in the round. But I think I shall write a knol on the topic. A list of my knols are on the sidebar, just below my pattern(s) – please note, not all are complete!

So, dear reader, to knitting: the Hoodie for IBC is completed. He calls it his ‘special coat’, bless. And two more pairs of socks, one in the Aston Villa colour scheme, the other a simple claret rib with a stocking stitch heel, toe and footbed. The final pair in AVFC colours – a ribbed Fibonacci sequence pattern – are on the needles as we speak. After that, we get onto other colours, woo-hoo!

I have also completed the Presto Chango for my colleague. I made the 6m size because she told me her medicos said the baby would be about 10lb. I did speak briefly of my own experience of expecting a 14lb+ monster – multiple scans, hysterical midwives (my favourite knitting tape measure is the one dropped by the midwife as she ran out of the room shouting for an ambulance*), planned inducing, etc., only to pop a medium-sized 8lb-er, but she was not having any of it, she was having a big un. I held my peace as it was announced in briefing that she had had a 6lb 3oz boy… At least the Presto Chango will fit him – eventually!

I’ve since begun a second Presto Chango for my niece. It’ll be different. I’m doing it more or less in the round, with lace sleeves, and the inserts will obviously be different too. No pics yet.

That’s about it for now

TTFN
K

* – Max bump size at full term: 40-42cm. My bump size with 3 weeks to go: 48cm. Cue a fortnight of to-ing and fro-ing to the hospital, observation stays, more flippin’ scans. I went a little crazy, as detailed in my LJ… starting here

I made a new knitter…

And here he is:
DSC00420 DSC00421 DSC00422

So proud of his work –
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About a fortnight ago, my son, aged 2yrs 8 months, demanding to “do knittings”. I grabbed the camphone, then got out an old pair of needles and my bag of scraps (priorities, m’dears, priorities). He picked the “lello woo” himself because it looked like Josie Jump! He’s still asking for his knittings occasionally, though we’ve moved on to pink wool after an unfortunate potty-related incident with Josie…

DSC00424DSC00441As to my knitting, I have finished yet another couple of pairs of socks for my Blondy Bear. I got a variety of colours of 4-ply Teddy Enriched 25% wool in the Bullring and hope to make as many combinations as possible.

So far, I am tackling the light blue and claret shades, which are coming up at a gauge of about 12st / in. The first is the striped pair: just 4-row stripes, one of which is split across the heel. Both colours are held together on the heel and toe. I’m planning to make two more pairs in this colour combination, one of which is almost finished – again stripes, but in the combination AABAA BBABB. These are the strip colours of Aston Villa, a football club here in our fair city of Birmingham. A few years ago, The Villa were going through a reversal of fortunes – good or bad I can’t say – and there was a slogan about it – again it may have been coming from disappointed fans or enraged supporters of other teams, I don’t know. The slogan was “Sh*t on The Villa”, from which I named this project “Socks on The Villa”. I’m such a wit.

The second pair is in the light blue only, with a little mock cable running down the sides – k through back of 2nd stitch on left needle, k through front of 1st stitch and 2nd stitch and remove from l needle. The next pair will be in claret, and I’m toying with making them ribbed on the leg.

DSC00413I have started a little jacket for him as well, purely because I fell in love with the yarn… And it’s variegated!! Quelle horreur! Teddy Colorama Colour Keyed Chunky. Actually, I fell in love with the DK, then noticed the same colourways were available in chunky. It’s a simply beautiful melange of greens, creams and browns, some long runs and some short giving stripes, spots and chevrons. Of course the gauge is all off. The pattern calls for 10st x 13r on 9mm needles, which would be too large for this yarn, which is on the low end of chunky. The ballband recommends 3.75mm needles (15st x 20r) – ridiculously tiny for chunky yarn. I’m getting 14.5st x 20r on 6mm needles. I also decided to Zimmermann it – knitting seamlessly. Except for the pockets which I didn’t stop to understand – they’re attached at the bottom as per pattern (but there’s a BO edge in the body), and at the top as per a sort-of 3-needle bind-off of mine own devising which isn’t BO but instead melds into the body. If I had taken time to understand the pattern I would probably have done some sort of pick-up and bind off to anchor the side of the pocket, and possibly a Fig-8 cast-on onto a dpn at the bottom to knit the whole pocket attached, which would have the added advantage of not interrupting the striping-ness of the yarn. Sadly, it was all on my snazzy new computer which decided to die, so I’m a little stalled until it’s fixed.

DSC00442Finally, for a colleague who’s going on maternity leave soon, there’s a Presto Chango, one of the cleverest ideas I’ve ever seen for babywear. The body is in blue Robin Bonny Babe Aran, and the insert(s) is (are) a mystery Aranweight cotton found in the Bullring. I just have to knit one more insert, for which I’m checking through my Aran pattern books. She’s expecting a boy, and the pattern’s lace insert looks a bit girly to me… Not that she’s likely to put it on the child – from the sounds of things, the sprog won’t see anything less than Armani. And that’s just the nappies.

I had a clever idea, aka hints n tips, recently. Using i-cord to re-create the effect of Aran barleytwists if you don’t do Aran knitting, or to create your own non-canon shapes and designs. Just make huge quantities of i-cord (a job for a child with a new French Dolly?), lay it out in the shape, then sew to the knitted piece.

Gosh I’m good.

Tra
K

Foot Loose! Fibonacci

Yet another pair of socks for my mightily hoofed offspring. Ye gods I am bored with this sock business. The only thing they have going for them is that they are handy bus projects for my 10-minute commute. But I shall persevere until he has a reasonable supply – by which time he’ll probably need bigger socks – because today, for the first time EVAR, he has been willing, nay, demanding to wear something I’ve made him – yes, these socks. Ripped from my hands as I tried to finish weaving in the ends, which is nice because it’s not my favourite task, with shouts of “Mommy, put a socks on!” Guess they won’t get blocked for a while then. He pootled around the house until bedtime, when he adamantly refused to have them taken off. Half an hour after we put him to bed, I looked in on him. He was sitting on the floor, facing the window, chatting to his socks…
Again based on the Lion Brand pattern but modified for gauge as described previously, these are the Fibonacci socks I mentioned. So what’s Fibonacci when it’s at home? Well, HE discovered a sequence of numbers where each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers, hence 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21, etc. So what? So, most flowers have a ‘Fibonacci’ number of petals. Fibonacci numbers also show up in the shapes of coastlines and clouds and other natural phenomena. Also, if you divide each number by the previous number, you get a result that is very close to the Golden Number/Section/Phi/Divine Proportion (1.618), whereby all sorts of The Weird And The Wonderful… ~Cue Twilight Zone music~. It’s all terribly amazing until you realise that mathematics exists to describe the universe. So it’s not exactly surprising when the universe just happens to conform with the maths, is it?

It is a little sad that this glorious stuff is too complicated to explain to kids who think maths is boring.

I have also – in two days! – completed a Valkyrie helmet for my cousin’s daughter Anna, who is a cute chubby little Brunhilde. It’s based on a Viking Girl Hat I saw on Ravelry. However the thought of forking over $24.50 for a kit had the predictable effect on my bowels, so I reverse-engineered it from the photos. I couldn’t tell for sure if there were horns or wings on it in the photos, but as a Viking re-enactor, I couldn’t in conscience put horns on it so wings they are.

I wanted a smooth, helm-like shape with no obvious decreases. To get this, I phase-shifted the decreases on each round (i.e., starting at the 1st stitch on one dec round, and on the 7th, 5th, 3rd stitch on the alternate dec round). The plaits are i-corded, though I thought about French-knitting them. In the end, though, I had the dpns in my hand, but the bobbins were somewhere in my knitting boxes…

(Modelled by my vintage fully-working Oopsie Daisy, with original outfit, for those interested in such things.)

TTFN
K

BS Johnson, socks, and a hoodie

What a boring title.
This afternoon was British Summer Time, so I forced my significant Creature of the Night out of his tenebrous cellar, blinking and meeping, into the lacklustre light to model his Bloody Stupid Johnson hat. But it was worth it: despite his wailing and chittering, and his frequent swinges into the shadows to check for tell-tale signs of ash forming on his pallid skin from the influence of the evil Day Star, the cables showed up well.
As for him – anyone would think I’d asked him to bathe, for sheeshs’ sake. Honestly.

Also forthcoming, more pics of the Ba’s socks. Not a lot to say here – they’re based on Lion Brand’s Child’s Solid Socks pattern (you might have to register to look, though it is a freebie). Not having Woolease within several thousand miles, I’ve been using what I have to hand – DK in the case of the beige ones in the previous post (Robin DK) and the dark brown (Patons Fab) and red (mystery) pairs here, and 2-ply pure wool, double-stranded, for the striped pair. Even in the DK pairs, there have had to be slight alterations as none of the yarns are the same gauge – brown and beige were 24st per 4in, close enough that I could use the pattern sizes given, but the red yarn was 26st/4in, so I had to go up to 44st cast-on.

At this point I unvented a 50-50% rule for turning the heel – half the stitches are used to work the heel, short-rowed down to a quarter overall. It may not be pretty, or anthropometrically accurate, but it works. The blue and yellow striped pair had a gauge of 32st/4in, even with the yarn doubled, and follow this rule. I have a Fibonacci striped pair on the needles right now, blue and yellow in alternating 1,2,3,5, and 8-row paired stripes, with the final 8-row split across the heel in the other colour, then 5,3,2, and 1-row paired stripes down to the toe – though I’ve had to do 4 rows of alternating-stitch colour changes to make the footbed long enough.

That turned out to be more than I thought. I’m planning to make a few more pairs.

I also got round to making His Wee Nibs’ Sirdar Bigga weskit. I’ve called it the Bookem Dano, as it is the Hawaii colourway (groan!). It took almost 2 balls. I hadn’t intended to put buttons on it, but I think I might try a duffle set, with a loop instead of buttonholes. I’ve unplied the remaining yarn and am hoping it will be enough for the Berroco Kap with a bit of fudging. It’s like the hat worn by Grandad Tumble, from the Mr Tumble series on cBeebies, which HWN loves, and I’m hoping he’ll like a Grandad Tumble hat…

One last thing: my niece Ava’s Little Pink Riding Hoodie, from Drops Design, using that weird pink mystery yarn I got in the Bull-ring. Quite a quick knit really, slowed down by my crappity attitude towards the sewing (~shudder~). The first pic shows it right side out, the second inside out, and the third is a close-up of the hairiest part of the sewing (~shudder~) around the armhole. Just to show that, actually, I am not such a crapilicious seamstress* as I fear myself to be. Go on, find a stitch. Yeah, you. See any? Do ya? DO YA? No.

That is not half bad for an awkward seam in a bulky, 6wpi yarn. I kind of mattress-stitched it from the right side, using a nylon-y fibre with cellophane strips which I unplied from the yarn itself. Y’see, I really can sew. I know all the moves. I know lingerie techniques lost before La Revolution. My homies called me Madame St Cyr down le ‘Ood. I used to have a little notebook with beautifully stitched and pinked samples of my needlework. Exquisite, it was. Of course, for every charming little gingham sampliaire in it, there were twenty blood- and tear-stain’d rejects, pin-rusted and spraying pulled threads, lying in a bin somewhere…

Now I just have to screw my courage to the sticking place and line the blasted thing.

Ta-Ta
K

* – Having started the post with the Terry Pratchett-inspired hat, I feel I should probably point out that when I say ‘seamstress’, I do mean the female personages wot sew, not the ladies of negotiable affection

ETA: I have Kool-Aid! w00t!

I should probably post more than once a month…

My dad died a year ago. We were not close, and disagreed about most stuff. I don’t recall him ever calling me by my name, and he certainly didn’t know where I lived – not just that he couldn’t remember my address off the top of his head: he didn’t know what country I was in, let alone what city. He only began to warm up a bit when my son was born, the image of him as a child. There was no broken home or damaged relationship to explain this. He simply wasn’t interested in his daughters. We were the waste product of having real children – sons. My sister lived nearby and was able to force some recognition out of him. In many ways I regarded him as a rather eccentric relative that I didn’t see much. I was fond of him and recognised his good qualities, even though I knew they would never be applied in my direction. He was a good man, loyal to a fault, kind, tolerant and good with children. I wasn’t terribly upset, just shocked when he died. Now mostly I’m angry at him for dying at only 69 and denying my son the chance to get to know him.

Mum is lonely since he’s gone. She has a lot of support in her church, and always had a life apart from him, so she is bearing up well. But she doesn’t have to run around after him any more – checking that he’s taken his pills, has his wallet, isn’t eating junk (he was a diabetic), etc. – and is a bit lost. They spent a lot of time together and they talked about everything under the sun. Except food. Dad could get her to stay off the subject of food for hours – I wish I knew his secret. She was on the phone daily over the anniversary weekend of his death, even though my brothers and sister were there for her. Not to talk about him – she didn’t mention his name once, even when she phoned minutes before the actual time of his death. I can’t have been much comfort, I just let her blather on.

Tiny Husband is in a poor way atm. He fell over in the car park at work a fortnight ago and wrenched every joint in his body and a handful of ribs. He had spectacular bruises from wrist to elbow on both arms but otherwise was okay (!). Then his calf muscle began to hurt. It bruised and swoll up about twice its size. He went to the Haemophilia Unit several times and was sent away because it was clearly a bruise, not a bleed. Finally they gave him Factor, crutches and 3 different painkillers including codeine phosphate, and an appointment for physiotherapy. It looked like it was working, but over the weekend it swoll up again: he spent Sunday at the unit, and had to go back the following morning. They didn’t keep him in then on condition he went home and rested. So he lied to them and went to work anyway.

Today at work, he had Disability Awareness training on blindness – how not to be patronising towards disabled people. Though come to think of it, One is not sure how he can tell people are blind over the phone. The chap had the grace to look embarrassed as he delivered his spiel to the guy on crutches…

It’s been a knackering few weeks. Emotional turmoil, and the bulk of the housework, shopping and childcare to do as well – TH is very useful about the place, deffo no Elektra complex in this marriage. However, I’ve managed to do quite a bit recently.

I’m just finishing a third pair of socks for Ickle Baby Cthulhu. They’re just quick acrylic knits. His feet are very broad but not big, so it’s a struggle getting his (shop-bought) socks on. I’ve been using DK yarn, but that’s a bit bulky. I’ve some 2-ply pure wool I might try next.

I also made a Bloody Stupid Johnson hat for TH for our wedding anniversary. The pattern’s not 100% clear here and there, and I goofed a bit on the crown. Also, the head band is supposed to be grafted but with the cabling that’s just as messy as sewing it. So I did. It turned out fine, a bit better if anything as it’s longer to the crown than it should be. Just like TH.

I really ought to have finished the Drops Hooded Cardigan from the Bullring mystery cotton blend for my niece, but decided it really needed to be lined. And that, as we know too well peeps, means sewing (~shudder~).

More specifically it means finding something to line it with, which translated into a couple of weekends bombing round the Rag Market. Then a few more weeks umming and ahhing as I tried to figure out the best way to line it – before or after assembling the pieces? during, whilst sewing it into the seams? and when should I knit (and line) the hood – before or after or…? Oh the dilemma. Trilemma? – there are 3 options. See how I suffer for my art? Oh the PAIN!!!!!!!!

Cillian’s Trellis Cardi is also finished, apart from tidying up the ends from sewing on the buttons. As he’s now 15 months, this may have to become Adam’s Trellis Cardi – depends on which size I made. Durned if I can remember. I also have a crocheted knitting-needle roll (OH! the irony…) almost done, just a closure to do. I also found this very, very old (well, from just after I restarted crafting) project lurking in plain sight on the Baba’s bedroom floor: a rug crocheted from old sweatpants*!! My sister sends me these things even though she knows I don’t wear them (?!?!). So I cut off the cuffs and waistband, slit them up the inside leg and one side-seam, then cut them up into a single strip about 1″ thick, which I crocheted up with the thickest crochet hook I had – an 8mm I think. It would have looked neater if I’d rolled the strips so only the ‘knit’ outer was visible, not the fleecy lining, but PATIENCE IS NOT MY VIRTUE DAMMIT!!!!!!! The Ba used to lie on it for his kicky sessions before he was mobile – more comfy than the hardwood floors. Now he uses it to slide along the same floors, wheee!

What else? Plans for making a bunny from a swatch. Oh yes, and I’m now a Proper Ol Designer, Ravelry-accredited n evrathang! My totally amazing scrunchie pattern has been downloaded loads! LOADS! more than I thought it would be… both from my Ravelry Designer shop and from the linky on the sidebar here. Well, shucks. Thanks to all the lovely people who thought it worth the bandwidth. Srsly! Now I’ll have to put some more up. TH has been on at me to write up the pattern for my Corset Cosy, and there’s the neck-warmer thingy, maybe the toddler gloves

More pics to add later!
Kxxx

* aka fleece-lined track suit trousers. Aka Fat Couture. Aka Oxfam-bin fashion for the woman who’s given up the struggle with weight, pregnancy, baby puke, personal hygiene…