Knitting and Crochet Blog week

Coming soon:

I’m trying to write posts on all the topics for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, that starts tomorrow.

Look out for some childhood photos, some ancestral intarsia and plenty more knitting tales.

In the mean time I’ve another 19 rounds of ktbl, p1, ktbl, p1, k3, p1 ribbing to do on two socks. Twisted rib is not my favourite thing in the world, but the end is in sight.

PS – Daisy, there will be photos of the heels when the socks are done.

The end of an era and a new start

Yesterday morning, at approximately 5am, a significant milestone was reached: I finished listening to episode 91 of Cast On. When I started listening to Cast On, I downloaded the most recent series at that point, beginning at episode 92. Then after I reached episode 98, there were no more new episodes for a few months so I went back and started to listen from the beginning, as well as catching up with the new ones. Episode 91 was the very last one I had to listen to.

At first I used to listen in the car on the way to meetings, but then for the last four months Cast On began to accompany me through early morning feeding times. I think I will forever associate the mellow tones of Brenda Dayne with being slightly sleep deprived and holding a small, hungry baby in the dark.

I can’t quite express how comforting it has been to hear Brenda chatting away about knitting, this week’s sweater, adventures in natural dying, life in South Wales and many other things.  Brenda, I’ll miss hearing you every day, but I’ll still be downloading the new episodes: thank you. At least there are other knitting-related podcasts to listen to as well. Hey, maybe the baby will get the hint that it might be time to sleep through the night, or maybe not!

So that was the end of an era. The new start was a knitting group. At the farmers’ market last week, I discovered that there is a new weekly knitting group meeting in the King’s Head at Nafferton on a Wednesday afternoon. I won’t be able to go every week, but I drove over there this week and had a lovely time. Kath from Little Houndales Knits was there and there were many people who were happy to entertain the baby while I knit a few rows on my socks. It is just so lovely to chat about knitting with people who understand.

I’ve finished the heels of my Sweet Tomato Socks. Very clever sockitecture, I like it. The only downside is that the heel uses two thirds of the stitches, so it is a bit tricky to adapt other patterns to use this heel. Maybe I’ll just work a few of the patterns in the book. It’s not as if I am short of sock yarn! Anyway, I’m heading up the legs, using the Eskarina leg pattern.

 

Driffield Farmers’ Market

Today I fulfilled a long-standing plan to go to Driffield Farmers’ Market and have a look at the Little Houndales Knits stall. Of course, when I say ‘have a look at’, I really mean ’empty my wallet onto the stall in return for yarn’. Fortunately, I don’t carry a great deal of cash with me.

Small boy modelling big hat

I stocked up on some Millamia yarn in Peacock blue. I’ve knitted a hat with this in the past and I would like gloves and some sort of scarf or cowl to go with it. The pattern is Bloody Stupid Johnson, (inspired by the Discworld’s most famous and least effective inventor) so somewhat appropriate that it looks enormous when modelled on the little boy’s head. It looks much better on me! At the front you can see my first attempt at grafting/kitcheneering in pattern, with the (inevitable?) half-stitch jog resulting from joining top and bottom of the knitting.

I’m intending to go for some gloves with little cables on of some sort, then adapt cables from the hat pattern to make a scarf. I’ve got 5 more balls of yarn, so I hope that is enough.

On the Little Houndales Knits stall I was able to browse copies of two of the books on my knitting wanted list: Knit Swirl by Sandra McIver and Little Red in the City by Ysolda Teague. I haven’t really done very much sweater knitting and I’d like to know more about the theory of sizing before investing a large amount on some yarn. Both of these books are now very much at the top of my wish-list.

Apart from the trip to Driffield, the main activity of interest in the last few days has been watching the progress of my new laptop from the factory in China where it was built. I suppose most of the technology in my life is more widely travelled than I am, but this journey is really quite impressive. Thanks to the wonders of the UPS tracking system I know that the laptop left China on Thursday, dropped in on South Korea, Kazakhstan, Poland and Germany, before arriving in the UK at Castle Donnington today. It will now sit there all weekend because of the Easter Holiday. Ah well. I’ll be glad when it gets here. My current laptop has been showing an alarming propensity to fail and shut down without warning.

This evening is an unexpected evening in on my own. The kiddies are nearly asleep and DH has gone to the Easter Vigil service. I’m going to go and make one final check on the baby and then hopefully have a pleasant evening of knitting in front of the tv. Tonight might be the night when I get to knit the heels of my Sweet Tomato Heels socks.

 

Not knitting

Spring is in the air, and I’ve suddenly stopped knitting. I’m not sure why – maybe it is a sign that the current project isn’t working out as I hoped. Hopefully, it isn’t permanent – it has only been three days.

In a strange coincidence, I’ve also started having trouble sleeping. Maybe it is the knitting in the evenings that is making me go to sleep so easily.

 

My harshest critic

My son has given his verdict on Elektra:

Mummy, that’s too much wool. I don’t like it.

Tough. I’m wearing it anyway.

Slightly weird shot taken in the mirror.

I note that he was only copying his Father, who questioned the need to wear Elektra with the new cardigan. They are both on my list.

Sweet Tomato Eskarina Coriolis

For the first time since last July, I had no socks on the needles, and not even a second sock to do. This state of affairs began at the end of February and continued until yesterday. Of course, there was a scarf being made with sock-weight yarn, but it didn’t have the portability of a sock.

This sad situation has now been remedied. I’m using the March yarn from the Sock Club I am in: When Granny Weatherwax Knits Socks from The Knitting Goddess. The yarn and pattern are both inspired by Terry Pratchett’s book Equal Rites. The yarn is pale blue, with flashes of red and yellow. The pattern (Eskarina) looks nice enough, but I have a hankering to learn a new sock construction.

The sock construction I am using is Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato (I have to remind myself to say Tom-may-to rather than Tom-mar-to) Heel. I love the sweeping curl of the Coriolis design she uses. I’ve knitted the version from New Pathways for my sister and the Sweet Tomato Heel version was released last week. So, there we have it. I could just knit the Sweet Tomato Heel Coriolis, but I want to give at least a mention in the socks to the Eskarina pattern.

In the New Pathways Coriolis, Cat mentions that you can widen the coriolis band – let’s hope the same applies to the Sweet Tomato version! I’m going to attempt to widen it enough to fit one repeat of the Eskarina lace pattern in it. It will take a bit of working out, but I have confidence that it can be done. I’ll start the Coriolis band a bit further up the foot to ensure that it will be in the correct place to avoid the heel.

So far, I have three inches of toe, working two at a time on two circs. Pictures in due course, when something interesting happens. I think we’ve all seen sock toes before.

 

Elektra – part the second

Since I last posted, I have mostly been knitting away on Elektra, which is now completed and sitting on the blocking board.

The pattern starts with a cast-on of just over 100 stitches, increasing to a total of around 450 per row by the end. The yardage in the pattern was slightly more than in the skein I was using, and there was an option of doing one less repeat of chart B if there was any doubt of whether the yarn would be enough.

The question became how to decide whether there would be enough yarn, since the decision needed to be made quite near the beginning of the pattern. I put together a spreadsheet with the stitch count for each row and worked out that at the point of decision I needed 72.76% of the yarn left to do the full number of repeats or 68.65% to do one repeat less. I knew the yarn was around 100g (probably a bit more, but I didn’t weigh it to begin with) and I had 78g left at that point – looked promising, so I did the extra repeat.

The pattern was a real pleasure to knit – mostly garter stitch, but with enough lace sections in the main part to make it interesting, then a lace border.

With four rows to go, it was looking a bit touch and go as to whether there would be enough yarn.
Before bind-off

There wasn’t. Despite all the calculations, there were only 2 yards left when I got to the bind-off row, so I ended up with a contrast bind-off.

I would have liked blue, but didn’t have quite the right one.
Possible bind-offs

The orange looked just fine.
Finished

Lessons:

  • Weigh the yarn before the start of the project.
  • Lace takes up more yarn than garter stitch

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:

Elektra

Having been especially virtuous and finished two long-standing wips (yes, the Paintbox Socks are complete – see right) in February, I had the luxury of casting on for absolutely anything I wanted.

I’ve been considering shawls for a while, and bought the 7 Small Shawls e-book last month, so I decided to pick from my sock yarn stash and go for the shawl that appealed to me the most.

The shawl I picked was Elektra, and the yarn was some German sock yarn found by my Mum. Very long colour changes from darkest blue to palest grey. Gorgeous colours and I thought it would be good in a shawl knit top to bottom or bottom to top, rather than side to side. Sadly, I got through about 5 rows before giving up and ripping back. The yarn is a single ply and is really fuzzy and splitty. I couldn’t get the M1s to work nicely and I think the fuzziness would obscure the lace. Beautiful though it is, I’m not sure I will ever use that yarn for anything.

The second attempt at Elektra is using some Knitting Goddess sock yarn given to me by my sister-in-law for my last birthday (actually so was the yarn used in those socks – she has very good colour-sense) and is a combination of browns, oranges and bright blue called ‘All at Sea’. It is lovely and the shawl is getting on very nicely.

This evening I ended up creating a large spreadsheet to calculate the percentage of stitches completed at various stages of the shawl so I can make sure I’m not going to run out of yarn. If I do the suggested number of repeats, there will be over 29000 stitches in the shawl. If I do one less repeat, there will be 5000 fewer stitches. This decision has to be made at around a third of the way through the shawl, so there will be some precision-weighing in a few days.

The first 50 rows are very straightforward: mostly garter stitch with evenly spaced increases. Very relaxing.

Yesterday I had a training day with work that suggested I should embrace my enthusiasms and work with them rather than trying to fit some generic model of what a priest is meant to be. I’ve ordered a few books on knitting and spirituality to see what I can learn about it. Should be interesting.