Monday, 31 October 2011

The Cardigan of Doom (again)

On Saturday evening, I was booked to baby sit for a family we know. They had a dinner of spectacular proportion to go to (17 courses or perhaps 29), and I knew that I would have a long evening to entertain myself. The plan was this: to seam the cardigan of doom and continue with the knitted edging which goes on for several hundred yards seemingly. I got my bag ready in good time, and when the time was right, I set off to supervise someone else's children into bed (with an obligatory story or two) and then settle down on someone else's sofa for the evening. After reading the paper and spending some time trying to work out which combination of FOUR remote controls resulted in a tv with both sound AND picture, I picked up my bag to begin. I hauled the sorry nicely blocked pieces out of my knitting bag and set them aside. Then I reached in for my scissors and needle case. And, it was at this point that my plans for the evening broke down. Neither scissors nor needle case were actually in my bag - and I believe scientists have established beyond doubt that those two things are fundamental for sewing up anything you might care to mention. I was stumped. I was flummoxed. I was completely bojangled.

Fortunately, before leaving my own two chiddlers at home for the evening, I had stuffed the boy socks into my knitting bag, just in case.

Just as well. Sock two progressed from just started to more than half done, just like that. I finished it last night, and tried it on my sleeping son to make sure it wasn't too small. Save for one small detail (some blocks of duplicate stitch on the sole to indicate the approximate size of the sock- I'll show you sometime) - they are all done and in the (very smug) Christmas box. And the cardigan of doom still mocks me from the knitting bag...

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Glasgow School of Yarn (and an FO)

On Saturday we went to Glasgow. A family day out and a birthday treat for my mother-in-law. While the boys went to see the new transport museum, we made our way to the Mackintosh Church to the Glasgow School of Yarn 2011. Unfortunately, I booked too late to get into any of the workshops, but we spent a happy hour or two in the market place choosing yarn, drinking tea, eating cake and chatting to knitters.

Natalie from the yarnyard was there with her lovely yarns and magic carpets (which she explained to me) and a lovely warm hug; and the jelly bean helped me choose some yarn to make some boy socks with - and we carried off some lovely BFL yarn in the colourway 'Lochside' from Abstractcat.

Once the second handwarmer was finished, the skein was quickly wound and a pair of boy socks cast on. I'm adopting/creating a new tradition to make my children socks each Christmas. And, while we watched the last episode of Spooks (sniff, sniff) I soon rattled through the leg of the first sock (I don't know why this picture insists on appearing sideways... I've tried to put it right, but it just won't go...)

Everyone else has got much better pictures than me of Glasgow and the CRM church (try here and here for lovely pics), and everyone was super friendly, and I only hope that it happens again next year.

In other news, the handwarmers are finished and rather lovely (even if I say so myself). There will definitely be some more of these in the near future...

Pattern: handwarmers (based loosely on the purlbee's pattern)
yarn: Jenny Cook hand dyed yarn (multi-coloured) with some green 4 ply from the stash (Jaeger?) 40g used

I'm trying to make better use of my time by being a bit more focused and organised about things both at home and at work. To this end, I am tending to having one 'big' project (for the house) and one 'little' knitting project (for out of the house) on the needles at any one time. At the moment, my big focus is on the cardigan of doom which is now blocked and waiting to be seamed and finished. I'm also focussing on my sewing basket/mountain a bit more regularly. Apparently you actually have to get your sewing machine out for things to be made and repaired - just thinking about it is not enough; who knew? Anyway, serious roll of drums and trumpet fanfare, because I have just made my first quilt! Tada!

It may be an itty bitty doll sized quilt for the jelly bean, but it's a quilt and I pieced the top and bagged it and stitched in the ditch and everything. And, it's all recycled/repurpose from old shirts and some old flannel sheets...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Announcement (and FO)

We interrupt this blog to announce that forthwith the drinking of tea in the vicinity of laptops is strictly forbidden. At. All. Times. (Without. Exception).

I should explain. There was a small incident last week. One involving an almostly completely drunk cup of tea and a laptop. Despite my best efforts (tip laptop upside down, shake vigorously, blot any remaining moisture with hanky, swear even more vigorously, keep fingers crossed and leave laptop in warm place for a day or two) said laptop has taken ill and is with matron in sick bay. Not sure when she'll be back - and of course, until she is I can't do any work it's a bit tricky accessing photos and files.

No matter. I might have missed this week's making monday, but there is a wee something - or even fourteen wee somethings to show instead.

A small bevvy of hats for this year's Big Knit, which I parcelled up for Age Scotland. These hats will shortly grace the tops of Innocent smoothie bottles and each hat sold generates a donation for Age UK. The target was 650,000 hats!

In other news: I have been WIP wrestling, and got Deli (aka the cardigan of doom) out of hibernation. Since I had 4 of the 5 pieces already knitted, I thought I would block what I had and go from there. So, two sleeves, one back and one front were all washed and ready for blocking. As I got to work with the pins I noticed a hole, and then another and another. I'm not sure I can even say the word: m o t h. Apparently one has been nibbling at my knitting. So, there has been ripping and grafting and gnashing of teeth as I repaired and reknitted the three of the four pieces which had holes (and installed anti-moth measures in all my stash boxes). At the weekend I started knitting the second front (the last piece) and was gaily decreasing for the armhole when I thought I had better check that it matched the first side. It didn't. It wasn't quite as far out as the yarn harlot was, but it was still out, so there'll be more ripping and reknitting, and I daresay some gnashing of teeth too. Still, I did manage to finish my first handwarmer last night (after abandoning the cardigan of doom in disgust). I'm wearing it now. You know. As you do. Just to see.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Making Monday: Simply stripey sock recipe

For this Making Monday, I have been writing a recipe to share. Let me know what you think!  

I like to make the most of my sock yarn, even when there are only a few grammes left, and after seeing the grumperina knit stripey socks a while ago, I have developed her technique for my own ends to make simply stripey socks. This is how I do it:

1. Have a good rummage in the stash, and choose some sock yarns in complementary colours/shades.

2. Weigh the yarn and make sure there is enough to make a pair of socks. (I know that I need at least 50g to make a pair of plain vanilla socks in my size). If there isn't, then go back to step one and rummage some more.

2. Divide any small balls into two roughly equal portions.

3. Cast on in the usual way and knit the sock cuff using one of the yarns. In this instance, because there is a lot of green and not much of the others, then I am using the green as the 'main' colour.

4. When the cuff is the required length, start on the leg of the sock. Introduce your additional yarns/colours at this point.

A. If there are only two colours/yarns, then work the first round in the new colour and then go back to the main colour for the second round, then revert to the new colour for round three. Continue knitting in this way, alternating colours/yarns until the leg of your sock is the required length.

Joining the second yarn after the cuff

B. If you have three colours/yarns to work with (as I have here), then join the first colour at the beginning of the round, AND then join the second colour the next time you change needles. Continue knitting in that colour until you encounter the main colour again (at the end of the round). Pick this up and knit until you meet the tail of the first colour and then knit with that one.

If you find yourself with all of your yarn tails at the same point, all you need to remember is to ALWAYS knit with the LOWEST yarn available. In the picture below, this means taking the paler green yarn (on the left).

I find knitting these stripes really addictive, and once I've started it's hard to stop - although I do break from time to time to admire the effect. One of the yarns I'm using here is a self-striping one, changing from cream to green and back again.

Keep knitting until the leg is the desired length and prepare for the heel flap. I knit this in one colour - in this case, the same colour as the cuff, so I make sure that the yarns are in the right place. The spare yarns should be 'parked' just before the heel flap, as shown below.

Heel flap and yarn on left (front) needle; spare yarns parked on right (back)needle.

Continue knitting the heel flap in the normal way until you start to pick up the stitches along the side of the flap. You should find that as you come to pick up stitches on the second side of the heel flap that you encounter your spare yarns again. As always, work with the lowest yarn available and use this to pick up the stitches on the second side of the heel flap. 

Work the foot and toe of the sock in your usual way, alternating yarns as you did before for as long as you want or are able. I often use quite small quantities of yarn for my stripes, so sometimes only the leg of the sock is striped, while the rest is plain. The possibilities are endless! Here are few examples...

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Big Lace Scarf (FO)

I'm not a lace knitter - not yet anyway(!) - I've knit some lace in the past, but haven't yet cast on any glorious shawls in gossamer fine yarn. But something lacey caught my eye in the More Last-minute knitted gifts book, and I just had to do it.

Pattern: big lace scarf from More Last Minute Knitted Gifts (Joelle Hoverson)
Yarn: chunky, unravelled from charity shop jumper
time taken: a day or two last week
mods: I subbed the yarn and knit with 15mm needles

The photos haven't come out terribly well, but you get the idea. It's big and chunky and involves a simple 4 row pattern, which I managed to screw up several times. Who knew that counting to 4 could be so tricky? After dithering a little, I decided to keep this as a scarf and not transform into a cowl, and this is also stashed in my box of things (along with its sister), waiting for the right person or right occasion to come along.

In other news, I am now without a sock project. But, as I can't seem to manage without a small project I can take with me to meetings, work, conferences etc, I have cast on something else small and portable worked in the round using sock yarn: some wrist warmers. I'm using the purl bee's long striped handwarmer pattern for my first pair. Watch this space...

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Making Monday (on Tuesday): dribble bibs

I'm a bit late with this week's making monday (oooops!), but if a things worth doing....

The last couple of weeks have been studded with birthdays - first dear wee Elias, then my dad, then my cousin's twins and yesterday, a little friend of ours who has got to the very grand age of three! Happy birthday to you all.

Wherever possible, I prefer to give home made gifts, so my dad got socks, and the twins - who were 1 at the weekend - got a variety of things, including a few cute dribble bibs (tutorial here).

These were upcycled from some old terry squares and some of the jelly beans old clothes. She really wears her clothes, and not all of them are in a fit state to pass on when she has grown out of them! Some days it is hard to keep track of the clothes she gets through - such is her capacity for attracting dirt and soaking herself with any/all available liquids. Not that we'd have her any other way...

Sunday, 2 October 2011


A week or so ago, I made use of a child-free day at home to sort out my stash of fabric. It was a rather sobering experience - I hadn't really realised just how much I had accumulated over the years, nor how many half-finished projects and things for mending there were languishing in various trunks and baskets and drawers. 

First on my hit list were some old trousers of mine, set aside to make new trousers for the bean - and a pair of trousers of his that needed mending.

Then, I got to work on some trousers for the jelly bean. When you are in the throes of potty training, dungarees are a bit of an impediment, so I turned this cute pair into some trousers. Trouble is, the jelly bean herself has a different view point - in the way that two year olds do - and won't actually put them on...  humph. But I live in hope...

Saturday, 1 October 2011

October Fest

I am officially designating October as a FO Fest. While September has been quiet in terms of blogging, it has been anything but in terms of crafting, and there is a lot of catching up to do.

First up, socks. I've been a bit of a sock addict lately, and two more pairs have sprung off the needles.

Pattern: Java (from Knitty)
Yarn: twinkle toes, by Jenny Cook
time taken: 28 August - 19 September 2011

I also finished a pair of brown stripey socks for my dad's birthday (happy birthday dad!). I used my favourite striping technique to make best use of some sock yarn odds and ends.

Pattern: generic top-down with grumperina stripe
yarn: Plymouth Yarn co. sock yarn plus some unknown sock yarn (charity shop)