In brief

It has been a busy couple of months. Here are the highlights, because I guess it is better to write briefly than not at all.

  • I finished my old job just after a very hectic Christmas
  • We’ve moved house
  • There was trouble with the kitchen floor (but I’d really rather not talk about it in detail and it is all ok now)
  • The little girl started walking on moving day
  • The little boy has settled into a new school with very little fuss
  • We had snow and snowmen and sledging in our lovely new garden
  • There are still cardboard boxes, although not many of them now (and I’ve done nearly all of mine)
  • I started my new job this week
  • I am excited, apprehensive, overwhelmed and loving it all at the same time

So, that’s what has been happening outside the knitting world. You can understand why knitting progress has been slow. It has not, however, been non-existent.

  • I finished the socks for the Mr in time for Christmas (no photos yet since it was a close-run thing and he only found them in a box yesterday night)
  • There was a lot of knitting goodness in my Christmas present pile, but I’ll come back to that
  • I have knitted two thirds of a sock and I’ll come back to that too.
  • I have cast on a Swirl. 545 stitches. Oh boy. At least I knew the trick of using two ends of the ball for a long-tail cast-on. Imagine getting to 544 and running out of yarn. Don’t expect this to be finished any time soon.

Now, in an exciting turn of events, let’s move beyond knitting.

  • A friend of my Mum spent an evening teaching me to spin on a spindle.
  • She gave me the spindle and some Icelandic wool to practice with
  • Then she lent me a spinning wheel for a while. It’s (or are spinning wheels, like steam engines always referred to as ‘she’?) an Ashford Traveller
  • Last week, someone from one of my new parishes rang me out of the blue offering babysitting and asking if the rumour was true that I was a knitter. She then said she was a spinner and would I like to try it.
  • There is also a spinning group that meets once a month in an adjacent village. I met the lady that hosts it while taking my daughter to a toddler group. She noticed the hand-knit jumper that J was wearing (thank you again to J’s lovely Godmother).

I think that’s enough for now. I’m determined to have some of the evening with the needles and something relaxing on tv.

Multitasking

I have reached a personal epiphany this evening.

The one regret I have about having taken up knitting is that my reading time has been so severely cut down. I used to have a book habit the way I now have a yarn habit. (Let’s be honest, I still have a book habit, it’s just that a lot of the books have ‘sock’ or ‘yarn’ in the title.)

This evening I am working on a very boring scarf, using straight needles and fairly thick yarn. There are 28 stitches to a row, just stocking stitch all the way and it needs to be 70cm long. While I am eager for this scarf to be finished, I have not been eager to invest the time in knitting it. I would rather be reading, specifically reading the archives of Yarn Harlot which I am doing for no apparent reasons other than I really like her blog, I’ve read a lot of her books recently and I haven’t done a re-read since 2009, when I lost a week and a half and nearly screwed up an essay by reading it from the beginning.

Turns out that I can read and knit if the knitting is simple enough and the reading held still (in this case, laptop balanced on chair arm). Woohoo! Life is going to get more interesting.

I’ve just reached February 2006 in the archives. Who wants a garter stitch scarf for Christmas?

Open Sock Surgery

It’s official: I’m not knitting any socks at the moment.

Be aware that this post contains images that knitters may find disturbing.

The final sock on my list of socks in progress was one for a friend that I custom-designed/tweaked to her specifications. It is in the most gorgeous purple yarn from Violet Green and I completed the first sock back in May. All was going well, when I spotted a cable that didn’t quite look right.

The only way I could get it to show well enough was to turn the flash off, hence the weird colours. Definitely a mis-crossed cable of some sort.

The choices? Rip it back (too annoying), leave it in as a feature (not when it is a present for someone else), or drop just the cable stitches down and knit them back up (quite stressful).

I got the blocking mat and pins and set to work. The mistake was only about 7 rows back, so it could have been a lot worse.

I can’t remember where I saw this technique for fixing knitting, but it works a treat, although it would be better on a flat piece. As you unravel the stitches on each row, you pin the loose yarn in order so you know you are using the right length as you knit back up.

After many deep breaths and not a little swearing, it all came back together.

Ah, the beauty of symmetry!

It’s all done now & I’ve started the Ysolda Teague gloves. Pictures anon.

In other news, I submitted an assignment yesterday consisting of a reflection on how knitting has influenced my spirituality. I love my job!

Go to the mattress stitch

I’ve discovered mattress stitch, or as June Hemmons Hiatt (in the enormous brick that is The Principles of Knitting) has it, running thread seam. The main annoying thing about that book is that she refuses to use common parlance, in favour of renaming almost everything. What is worse, is that the index then becomes less than helpful, other than as a general direction to the relevant chapter.

Anyway, I’ve discovered mattress stitch. I may be some time. Despite the main body of my son’s birthday sweater being knit in one piece, there are a lot of seams to sew.

Lever Knitting

One of the things that really interests me about knitting is ergonomics. How can I knit more comfortably and more quickly? How can I put the effort in now to protect my hands against future degeneration/arthritis/RSI/whatever else can go wrong?

The Yarn Harlot is known as a fairly speedy knitter who also gives talks on the ergonomics of knitting. Since we are sadly separated by the Atlantic Ocean and I don’t foresee being able to pop over for a knitting class any time soon, I’ve been looking on YouTube for some videos. Here is an interesting one: