Three weeks till Christmas…

And progress is… progressing.

I managed to get the lining and a fancy button for my sister’s bag, though I really need to pick up some board to stiffen it (Yes I’m going with the button closure. Musing is what this blog is for too). The lining is quite lovely – heavy, turquoise with a pale gold sheen from a primrose weft (or warp. Not too sure of my fabric orientation). Although I haven’t had time to inspect it closely, I would not be surprised if it was silk, or at least a good quality fake. Only £2 in the Bullring for about 2m of 60″ width. Well chuffed. There may even be enough to line a skirt for myself, a little something I’ve been planning ever since I got the eau de Nil chenille, using crocheted squares from an old tablecloth pattern.

The covers for both specs cases are complete, all I need is to find the craft glue.

The childminder’s scarf is almost complete, another 3 repeats to go. IBC has utterly charmed her and her husband by calling them by name, and demanding kisses. I suppose I ought to think of some wee thing to give his playmates there… I’ve swapped the scarf to my in-school project, and taken the Trellis cardi for Liz’s youngest home where I have more time to complete it.

I still need to make a start on the unicorn for Lisa’s daughter – in fact I need to get the chenille out and wind my pullcakes.

Santa went to Rackham’s on Saturday and picked up IBC’s tractor and trailer, wrecking shoulders, back and bum.

We’ve decided not to send cards this year. Instead we’re sending ducks to Bangladesh, or possibly midwife kits to Burkina Faso – haven’t decided. We may also substitute something like this for presents for the adults in the family, as it is SO difficult to buy gifts for most of them, in part because we just don’t have the time.

Only 3 weeks!

K

I give you…

… the Glory that is Begotha – the Gothic Aran!

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…

WOOT! TG4 is on the Idirlíon!! Ros na Rún here we come!!!

T’ra
K
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.

 

Hurrah!

The Gothic Aran is finished!

Apart from one thread inexplicably left hanging from a sleeve, it is done, laundered, and tried on by a very chuffed hubby. Back-to-front at first, being himself, but ye gods what a fine fit when it was on. I short-rowed the back of the collar as prescribed in EZ, which was rather nasty with the moss-stitch panels, but what a difference it makes. Fits him like a glove. Pics later, once my camphone is recharged.

IBC’s Bob the Builder sweater is well under way. I’m putting the face on the front – it’s up to the mouth atm – and the logo on the back, which I haven’t got to yet. The sweater shape is reversible (front same as back, not inside-out reversible), so it would be nice to have a different view on each side. I’m knitting in the round again. I read somewhere that intarsia couldn’t be done in the round, but didn’t get why, since Fair Isle is traditionally knitted in the round. Now I do. Duh. Wool ends up at the wrong end of the knitting. I’ve got a partial solution which cuts down on the bitties of yarn hanging at the sides: leave a long tail when starting a new colour, that can then be used to knit the next row. In the case of the outlining black yarn, the tail may be enough to complete all stitches required.

And I’ve started a little something for Halloween – rush job, special request from TH. Fingers crossed…

Update

Not a lot to say, nothing completed.

TH’s Gothic Aran proved trickier than anticipated – not disastrously so, not even challenging really, just fiddly around the collar. It worked in the round, which is good, but TH’s broad shoulders and slender frame mean that while the front and back are completed to the base of the neck, I need to knit up the shoulders another inch/inch-and-a-half to reach the same point, nibbling off stitches from the front and back as I go. Oh yes – I decided late on to go for EZ’s fake raglan method of reducing the yoke, which looks well, despite some very awkward fudging when the decreases started cutting into the moss-stitch panels. Now this shoulder problem is turning it into a combined EZ raglan/saddle sweater.

But this is what comes of taking a pattern for an aran, running it according to another intended for Fair Isle, then changing mind 3/4 of the way through and finishing via a third for a plain sweater, discovering that the final bit needs to be fudged via a fourth (also plain), all the while using an unidentifiable yarn and a needle size not recommended in any of the patterns – and therefore a totally different number of stitches. Hey ho – at least I did swatches this time. I do get TH to try it every so often on to check the fit (so far, perfect).

I do feel that I’m working in the true EZ spirit though, winging it and not being scared. And occasionally lying down in a darkened room to recover.

I have also made it through the ribbing and into the body of IBC’s Bob the Builder sweater, and have done the charts – modified one of Bob’s face to fit better on the sweater, and made another of the Bob logo, though I think some surface embroidery is going to be necessary to get the detail in on it. I’m also very taken with the idea of a knit or crotchet BtB ‘hard’ hat… Hmm. When am I going to get my stockings made, I ask you?

Bwahahahahah!

According to mum, SIL is delighted with the Drops Norwegian set I sent her, and the ba hasn’t been out of it since! She was thrilled with the colours and the pattern, and was particularly floored by the label.

Pics to follow once mum sends them over…

Hubby’s sweater grows apace. I have the body completed to the EZ seamless sweater join-up point, and one sleeve almost done after a bit of a hunt for 6mm dpns – I had to settle for 40cm circs in the end. I also had to adjust for TH’s elongated torso, as he’s 6’1″ but his chest’s barely 36″. I’ve decided to do the collar as a polo neck, so he can roll it up or down as the weather dictates, and I’ll probably have to twiddle the decreases so they don’t interfere with the Aran panels. TH can’t wait to get his Goth Aran!

I’ve also begun the calculations for a version for my son – I think the panel plus 7st to either side will be big enough for his wee chest. don’t know about the sleeves yet. I’ve also found a Bob the Builder chart which I might try on the grey marl background, and a Thomas the Tank Engine one currently under consideration. So that’s four ideas for him so far, including the Drops!

My own pinwheel cardi has stalled because – aaargh! – I’m running out of wool. As it’s vintage, the chances of getting any more are pretty much nil. And it’s RED, so I’ll never match it… So I have to finish the sleeves, see how much wool is left, then unravel or devise a trim to suit.

And God help me, I want to knit socks

To get ahead, get a hat

A few posts ago, I mentioned a matinee set I made for my niece. Specifically, how closely I followed the pattern for the beret, or bunnet as it’s called in my erstwhile neck of the woods, because I wanted to make one for my son. This was motivated by the fact that he kept slapping my niece’s on his head and running away, shrieking “Hat! Hat! HAAAAAT!” and giggling. So, dear reader, I did.

I guesstimated the number of stitches based on some rough measurements and memory, just made sure it had the requisite 7 segment swirl on top. I made it up in the same Blue-faced Leicester wool I used for the Aran cardi – which I still haven’t found.

For the stitch pattern, I used a single-repeat Tree of Life motif from Shelagh Hollingworth’s book, interspersed with a motif of my own devising (with a little help from Alice Starmore to get it started), repeated 4 times round the underband. My motif was an infinity symbol – an 8 on its side – which is a symbol I’ve always liked, with the forever and ever, amen. Nice combined with the Tree of Life too. For a bit of interest, I put bobbles inside the loops of the alternating two infinities to represent the point singularity at the start of the universe, just to continue the science theme. T’was only too late that I realised the result looked like boobies!

Around the edge, I put bobbles at 7-st intervals. I’m sure I had a deeply symbolical reason – I had for everything up to then! but it escapes me now. All I can think now is that it gives the bunnet a Henry VIII look… Over the top, I did two stitch patterns, both from the 1988 edition of the Complete Stitch Directory, one called Bee Stitch, the other Honeycomb Stitch. They weren’t a great fit into the space, but look okay. Actually, it looks a bit mediaeval, so perhaps I did have a Henry VII theme going on. Reason for Beeing? The Destroyer of Waists has recently become obsessed with flying insects, known collectively as ‘Bzzzes’.

I’ve googled for these two patterns but what comes up is not them – and I’m not certain the Amazon book referenced will contain it, as mine is an older edition by a different publisher, so here goes:

Bee Stitch: Worked over a multiple of 6 st, plus 5. Row 1 & all odd rows (WS) – K. Rows 2 & 4 – P. Row 6 – *P5, K into next st 5rows down, unravelling st in the rows between#, repeat from * to #, end with P5. Rows 8 & 10 – P. Row 12 – P2, K into next st 5rows down, unravelling st in the rows between#, repeat from * to #, end with P2.

 

 

Bunnet Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honeycomb Stitch: Over an even number of stitches. Row 1 &

3 – K. Row 2 – *K1, K into next st 1row down, rpt from *. Row 4 – *K into next st 1row down, K1, rpt from *.

I like that they both use the same principle of knitting into an earlier row. There’s something very fractal-ly about that, similarities across different scales, leaf growth on trees being governed by the same principles that create fjords, etc.

On top, I added a tassle rather than a pompom, carefully set to sit sideways as in the pic. And of course he refuses to wear it…

Inside, my new Subh Milis label!

Begorra

Back at work again for the last week – snowed under due to a Maths teacher’s sick leave and the dopey Yr 11s not sorting out their work experience – and before that a fortnight in Ireland which was anything but restful. Every time I go home I come back swearing I’ll never set foot there again, and then I forget how awful it is and go back.

It wasn’t too bad when I was single. Going “home” meant being shunted around parents and siblings living up to 50 miles apart, cross-border. Lots of travelling by car. Fine if I had no plans of my own. Things got more trying when I left to live in Birmingham: then, when I came “home”, I also wanted to visit friends, sort things out at the bank, etc. The former caused my family to throw a collective fit – why was I bothering to come home at all if I wanted to see other people? The latter rarely happened, and business had to be sorted out by post and the one branch my bank has in Birmingham. Then I met Tiny Husband. Foolishly brought him home one Christmas to meet the family, on condition that we were left at the coach station on the 27th to go to Belfast to meet his family. We finally got away on the 29th, driven up by my pissed-off sister, having spent the intervening time on the farm where there’s no phone and no satellite cover. TH’s mum was frantic.

Now, with the ba, it’s a bloody nightmare. It’s not safe for a city baby who doesn’t realise that tractors AREN’T just big toys, there’s never any food in any of the houses we go to (probably all eaten by my big fat rellies), and I’m not even consulted about where we’re going to be dumped, as when my sister walked off and left us on the farm overnight with no bottles, one nappy and no clothes after taking us for a “short visit”.

Really, never again – not without a car, and preferably a hotel reservation.

Although on the plus side I did larn maself how to double-knit, and put together some patterns for blankies, with a little help from Jessica Tromp, of which more anon.

While in Ireland I handed over the Drops Norwegian sweater and hat to new nephew Adam, 6 weeks. Stupidly, I didn’t take a photo to put up here, but I plan to make another for my wee man, so that’ll have to do. I did it in blue (MC) and yellow (2nd) 2-ply laceweight, with a 4-ply natural as the third colour. The laceweights I doubled and re-plied with my Daruma Home Twister, a fabby gadget. Okay, I could live without the re-plying function, but I love those funky fat centre-pullcakes. The sweater looked terrible while I was knitting it up, very cottony-ribbony and cold, but when I wet it for blocking, the fibres bounced up, almost felt-thick, yummy.

Adam’s mum will not let him wear it, of course. I made the 6-month size, so it should fit him in a month or two, but SIL is obsessed with proving her children are BIG. The older boy, at 7, is wearing teenage clothes, although keeping the clothes on him involves rolling up hems, rolling down waistbands over belts and wearing 3 or more layers of t-shirts etc to fill out the massive sweaters she has the poor boy in. He looks like a badly stuffed scarecrow. He’s certainly tall, but not teenage tall – maybe 10-year-old height. So undoubtedly I’ll hear shortly that the sweater was too tight to go over Adam’s head (despite one shoulder being a button-through). I sent her over a 6-12month outfit when Adam was born, which “dudn’t fut hum” as a newborn. Yeah, right. Madwoman. I told my sister to tell SIL if she didn’t want it, to send it back to me because I could sell it for $75 on Etsy, heh-heh.

I’ve also – finally – been inspired to make Tiny Husband a sweater. We’ve been together for five years, so it should be safe enough! I’d selected the pattern yonks ago when I was thinking about trying Aran knitting again and wanted something easy to start with – but then went and made something more complicated in the meantime. TH is of course gothically-inclined, so the usual wools in naturals, creams and beiges were out. Not that he wouldn’t like a white Aran sweater, but he’d just never have occasion to wear it. So the hunt was on for something darker.

I bought some grey wool off eBay, but when it arrived it was a marl (*spit!*). Fine for him, he’ll wear grey and navy at work, but – quite apart from my fear and loathing of the coloured-up wool – I just don’t think marls work for Aran. The beauty of the technique is in the sculptural stitchery: the wool is just the vehicle, and shouldn’t detract attention by being interesting in itself. Would Michelangelo’s David be quite such an eyeful in a mottled green marble? No. I said NO. Peasants. I also got some Welsh Black (aka brown), but it is very rough. Hairshirt rough. I may Aran something from it yet but it requires further thought. I’m still on the look-out for navy or dark blue wool, although just looking for the evilness of blue hurts me in the core of my soul. The sacrifices one must make for love…

However, few months ago I bought some mystery wool in the Bull Ring. No bands, but cheap and with a very pleasant hand to it. It’s one single ply of many filaments, very thick, soft and warm, but lightweight and slightly fluffy. I thought it might possibly be wool, maybe a merino or something, but as soon as I’ve decided it almost definitely is wool, it starts looking synthetic, like what polar fleece would be like to knit with. It’s coming up chunky, 14st to 10cm – the moss-stitch panels look like bobbles! It isn’t pilling as I knit, which is unexpected if it’s synthetic.

And just for fun I decided to muck about with the pattern – as usual. I’ve been reading Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Without Tears and was inspired to try knitting it in the round without seams, apart from a bit of grafting under the pits. It’ll mean a possible rethink of the neck – how do I continue the Aran with the decreases? but I wasn’t too thrilled with the plain collar any way… So I shall keep this updated.

The free knitting machine is lacking a carriage. But, hey, it was free. Doubtless the universe will see fit to send a carriage my way eventually, in that really unnerving way it does from time to time, just to make me think someone IS actually watching me…