Sunday, September 21, 2014

Marching on Mallows

Have you heard the expression:  "Don't harsh my mellow"?  I assume that it's alliteration on the theme of marshmallows, so let's improvise a little.  This week I have mostly been Marching on Mallows:  keeping up a regular bouncing pace for fear that if I stop moving, I will sink into a sticky mess of self-indulgence.
I have thrown wool at the problem :)
If in doubt, keep Knitting.
First up:  the Big Red Doily, aka the Old World Blanket in Cascade Eco +
There is a disconcerting issue of scale in the above photograph.
That ball is actually as big as my head.
I am on Row 96 and have just joined the second skein of yarn.  There are too many stitches to fit the cable of my circular needle, so I tried using two circular needles, but it is too awkward.  I have ordered a 200cm-long cable.
The first Woodcutter's Sock is looked darned fine, if I say so myself.  I should finish this today.
It took me a while to get used to the braided cable, and by that point, the broken rib had kicked in - don't worry I am talking about knitted ribs!
There is plenty of interest in this pattern to keep me going.  However, I find the colour hard to see in artificial light... I cast on the Inge Sock from my latest Knitting Goddess / Rachel Coopey sock club shipment.
That blue is hard to capture - it is the colour of a Mediterranean sky.
My tension is all over the place, as I keep getting my needles in a muddle.
I think I need to redistribute the stitches across 3, instead of knitting across 4 dpns and then bringing a 5th into the mix to work the travelling stitches.
It's like a sword fight every time I pick it up.
I have this crazy plan to set everything else aside to knit Joy McMillan's Mirrored Linen Stitch cowl out of this unlikely combination of yarns.
I had been looking for a pattern to show off the Fluormania, and I was initially thinking of somehow contrasting it with black and probably making thick wintery socks.
But then I had a stash-dive and found this premium hand-dyed MCN from Lioness Arts - gorgeous! So flipping gorgeous I have been afraid to use it.

In other news, I have been playing Hide and Seek with the calves from next door.
Rather like sheep, if one decides to break through the fence, all the others follow.
We had six of them staring in the farmhouse window the other evening.

Sewing?  Nope.  But I have ordered Gertie's new book on Sewing Vintage Casual Sportswear after hearing a very positive review on the Knitmore Girls podcast.  I look forward to seeing some sew-ists review the book, but it seems to be oddly quiet out there.

And have you seen the new Moomin Embroidery patterns?  I love the knitting Snorkmaiden - she would be great on a project bag!

FL?  He has moved onto his higher-dose painkillers this weekend.  I am not feeling optimistic.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Mid-harvest:  the straw has since been baled
Back to work tomorrow.  I had last week off work and spent it painting walls, clearing out gutters and regathering myself.
I did lots of knitting, but no sewing at all.
My decluttering has been merciless.
I am still reading "The Country of Ice Cream Star". Slowly, slowly because I don't want it to end.
I seem to be in a place where I want to burrow into books and knitting projects and just... feel the sand between my toes.
So I am making another enormous blanket.
This one is knitted out of Cascade Eco + in the richest cosiest shade of red you can imagine.  I am on row 78 and am perhaps 2/3 of the way through the first ball of yarn.  I have five.  That's an awful lot of knitting!
The pattern is Old World by Abigail Phelps - I won it from the Knitting Go Podcast and it is turning out to be a really straightforward knit.
I also have FL's Christmas socks on the needles, because if I knit him socks he will still be here for Christmas.  That's how my mind is working right now.
These are the Woodcutter's Socks by Rachel Coopey, from Enchanted Knits.  The yarn is from the Dublin Dye Company, in the colour Stone Wall.
And this my latest Knitting Goddess / Rachel Coopey sock club yarn - wowzer!
I really need to get these cast on asap - what a blast of sunshine!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

FO: Cranford Mitts by Jane Lithgow (and Myeloma)

This is a story of my evolution as a knitter.
When the Cranford Mitts pattern first came out, I failed to knit them.
All my best knitting friends were churning them out, pair after pair, as gifts and for themselves in every colour you can imagine and then some.
I got stuck right at the beginning:  "Work 7 rows garter stitch commencing with a purl row".
Garter stitch?  But surely that means every row is "knit"?
I checked with my mother, and she agreed - yes, every row is a knit row in garter stitch.
So that was that.
But several years later, with a drawer full of socks to show for all knitting that has passed through my hands since then, I now understand.
Garter stitch is only knit on every row if you are working backwards and forwards on a flat piece of fabric.
If you are going round and round on dpns, every second row is purl.
Well duh!
My mother would not have known this because she doesn't knit in the round very often.
And I don't know why it didn't occur to me to ask anyone else... like one of those other knitters...?!

Pattern:  Cranford Mitts by Jane Lithgow, a p-hop pattern.
Yarn:  Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the Hula Kolili colourway - much less than 50g, but I am too lazy to weigh them.
Verdict?  A quick and fun knit - I can see why all those other knitters have knit so many pairs!
These were rustled up in various waiting situations on holiday and back home.
This year's Cherry Crop - yes, one each!
Quick Myeloma Update:
Despite an alarming pain episode while we were on holiday, FL is doing OK.
We were back at the hospital yesterday and the doctor prescribed another month of Pomalidomide, but asked him to monitor his symptoms more closely.
She thought it could be a build-up of either the chemo or the steroids that is causing his pain on week 3 of each cycle.  (He gets a week off on week 4.)   If it persists, we need to weigh up the pros and cons of myeloma-zapping versus incapacitating pain.
Walking is becoming more difficult.
Driving is manageable only on familiar roads with minimal traffic.  But he desperately wants to retain the independence it gives him.  It's hard.

Friday, September 05, 2014

FO: The Great Big Enormous Mystery Crochet Blanket

 Vital Statistics:

Weight:  1450g
Metres:  2465m  (based on 85m in a 50g ball)

Pattern:  Inside Crochet magazine Mystery Crochet Blanket, from Issues 48, 49, 50 and 51.  With enormous thanks to two fellow Ravellers: Jadesfire and Craftyfox for sending me their issues 48 and 49.

Materials: the equivalent of 29 x 50g balls of Rico Creative Cotton Aran, but I had to buy additional balls of individual colours to complete rows in a single colour.  A 5.00 mm crochet hook.

Cost?  If it had taken only 29 balls it would have cost around £1.69 x 29 (price of the yarn at Kemps), but I needed more like 45 balls to preserve the integrity of each round... so somewhere around £75

Time to make?  I started it in March and have been plugging away at it ever since, with pauses to order more yarn.  But really?  Not long at all, considering the size of it!

 Finished Dimensions:
This is the blanket on a King-sized bed.

 A close up of my favourite stripes.

 And this is the same blanket on a Single bed.

Blanket posing on the window sill of the holiday cottage.

What do you think this is, blanket?  "Country Living" magazine?!

This was a hugely enjoyable challenge.
Until now I had not crocheted anything bigger than a baby's bootee.
I learned loads of new stitches and had the chance to play with colour on a grand scale.
And I discovered how yarn-hungry crochet can be!
Would I make it again?  Not using this sort of cotton yarn - it split like crazy.
But I will definitely keep on crocheting... now that I know I can.
I have this hankering for a great big enormous granny square blanket...!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Postcards to Bruce

Yo - dog! You won't believe this, but I'm on holiday!
The humans started on about "carp-y dee-em" and the next thing I knew, I was in the boot of the car watching the sky rush past.
The garden here is fantastic.
I like the pond best. No sign of carp though.
There are swallows though - lots and lots of the pesky swoopy dive-bombers.  Grrr.
Roo takes me up the hill every morning and evening.

The local Iron Brew is rubbish.  I'd rather wash my paws in it than drink it.

We saw a deer (yawn) and then I spotted Pi an' Martin. That Martin stood on his hind legs, made faces at me, cursed and ran off before I had time to catch my breath. Pi wasn't much friendlier.  Roo seemed to think it was funny.

The Boss is scribbling in his notebooks, sleeping a lot and eating pills.
Roo says she is On A Mission and sits around sticking a hook in a massive blanket that just keeps getting bigger and bigger. She really needs to stop soon.
Today we went for a drive to the El Wye Ess.
Roo came out with 4  bright green baby llamas. They look more like yarn to me and are no fun to play with, but it doesn't stop her from petting them.
That's all my news, dude.
Got some serious sun-bathing to do.

PS  Roo says they were Pine Martens, in case you wondered.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Things to do when you run out of yarn

Demonstrate your swearing prowess... again.
 Mend your husband's sweater... again.
 Bake Blueberry Spelt Muffins (again!)
 Plan a new project.
 Start a new project.
 Buy more yarn!
 Pet a tractor.
 "Ooh - what big wheels you've got!"
 Go for a walk in the barley.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

FO: Richting Hat by Andrea Rangel

While waiting for the pattern/s for my test-knitting to arrive, I distracted myself by whipping up a quick hat for autumn.
Because it is most definitely autumn in these parts!  The temperature has not made it into double figures (celsius) any morning this week and I have been piling on the layers to stay warm at my desk.
This is the Richting Hat by Andrea Rangel.  The pattern popped up among the New Patterns on Ravelry a couple of weeks ago and I had been visiting it daily until I decided it just had to be purchased and knitted up.
I used half a ball of JC Rennie Supersoft Lambswool and it was done in 4 evenings of gentle knitting.  This wool is very soft and sheepy.  My hat will need a bath before I wear it in the rain, unless I want to reek of eau-de-mouton.  But at only £4 a ball, it is truly bargainous and a great substitute for Brooklyn Tweed Loft, as used by the designer.  It comes in some gorgeous colours too.  This is Oxford grey and was leftover from my Mystery Mitts project.  The cast-on edge used a tiny length of JC Rennie Unique Shetland in the colour Confetti.

The pattern is a simple texture of knits and purls - not the feather-and-fan stitch I was expecting.  So it was easier, and yet less easily-memorised than it might have been.
I made the smallest size on 3.5mm needles and it fits me really well.  I would knit the larger size if you have bigger hair.
Right now, I am all fired up to knit a stack of these in a multitude of colours, to squirrel away in various pockets in case I am caught out in The Weather.
But first... I have an urgent appointment with a Giant Crochet Blanket and an utterly compelling novel.
See you on the other side!