The Ravellenic Games

I’ve declared my projects for the Ravellenic Games.

  1. 14 squares on my sock yarn blanket/scarf – competing in the Modular Relay
  2. The Anthracite Cowl – competing in Cowl Jump, Lace Longjump and Synchronised Stash-busting

Go Team GB!

I’ll post a before-photo of the scarf for proof of progress.

Must get on with winding the silk for the cowl before Friday.

Yarn Along again

This week I’ve had a horrible bout of tonsillitis that left me off work and too sick to knit. As I started to recover, I wanted to knit something very simple so I started this scarf – the Doughnut Scarf. The yarns are all Colinette, from my trip to their factory shop last summer. The tabs on the bottom are various scraps of Hullaballoo yarn and the main body of the scarf is in Art, a lovely yarn with some bamboo content. I’m enjoying the complete lack of challenge, although I got bored yesterday evening so stopped. For some reason I am using straights – most unusual, although I’m quite enjoying it.

The book is one of my current library books – The Campus Trilogy by David Lodge. Having grown up living on a university campus, I love books set in similar environments. This one so far is quite good: the story of an academic exchange between a UK academic at the University of Rummidge and a US professor at Euphoria University. It is quite densely written, but clever. The academics have just found themselves simultaneously in strip clubs on opposite sides of the world. I await developments with interest.

[edited to add yarn along button]

End of term

Things have been getting very busy here as we head towards the end of term. My boss has been away a lot (and is in fact leaving soon, but that is another story), so it is my phone that seems to be taking up the slack and ringing off the hook. Of course, it is usually one of those recorded messages about PPI or compensation, but there are a fair few work calls as well.

This would all be fine except that the baby has chosen this week to surprise us daily with her sleeping and waking pattern, plus we are all fighting off a bug of some sort. Anyway, my knitting time has mostly been diverted into extra sleeping, so things are moving quite slowly.

Here are the beaded socks I’m working on.

I’m a bit further on than this now – just a few rows left on the second leg. The pattern is Stardust by Adrienne Fong and these are the Stage 3 socks of Tour de Sock. The yarn is from Artist’s Palette Yarns in Herefordshire and was a birthday present from my sister-in-law. I’ve never done beading before and I quite like it. I’ve chosen the unlikely-sounding method of using dental floss (the stuff that has thick and thin sections) to string the beads. It works really well – the thick sections hold the beads in place and you use the thin section to thread through the stitch you are beading, then back through the bead, which can then be pulled down onto the stitch. So simple! I don’t recommend trying it while travelling by train though. It got a bit stressful when I tried.

I’m hoping that next week I’ll be able to push on with these and get them done before the Olympics start, although that is looking less and less likely. I’ve not chosen my Ravellenic Games project yet, although I am signed up to Team GB. I may do some more squares on my sock-yarn scraps shawl/scarf as a starter, but I’m not sure what else.

Yarn along

I’ve discovered the yarn along on the blog Small Things, so I thought I’d join in this week.

Here is my picture of what I am reading and knitting.

The socks are still the stage 1 socks from Tour de Sock, although you can see some progress from the last post. I’m now up to the blue, so the end of the rainbow is in sight. I’ve switched back to two at a time for the last bit so I don’t have to worry about whether the feet are the same length. I’m a little concerned that the yarn will run out before they are long enough, but I think I will be able to use the deep purple yarn from the Calable socks to do the toes if necessary.

The book is Bowling Avenue by Ann Shayne (of Mason-Dixon Knitting), a novel set during the Nashville floods a few years ago. Strictly speaking, I’ve already finished reading this, but it was such a good book that I wanted to recommend it. There is a tremendous sense of place in the novel, and I found the characters, particularly the main character, really interesting. Can’t beat having a knitting sub-plot as well! I’m sure that a picture of the book I am reading would be a lot better if I wasn’t reading it on the kindle. Ah well.

This evening it is a meeting of Deanery Synod. This is one of the meetings where I take my knitting along and actually do knit through it. The trick with knitting two socks at once is to wear a cardigan or jacket with pockets and keep one ball of yarn in each side.

Back to work

I left you nearly a month ago with the revelation of having discovered mattress stitch and going off to sew together the sweater for my son’s birthday. I haven’t really been sewing seams all that time, although it did take about four days worth of knitting time.

Here is the result:

And here he is wearing it post-shrinking (deliberately) in the wash.

My son’s birthday took up a lot of time. He’s been really good (on the whole) with coping with having a little sister, plus this is the first year he’s really had a good handle on what a birthday is and what it means to wait for it, so we decided to spoil him. We hired the church hall, put a bouncy castle in it and invited all his friends. There was cake (or rather cakes – I had help with the decorating from an artistic friend), and biscuits made in the shape of the number 4.

Then I took him over to York to see all the engines at Railfest. I was particularly pleased to be reunited with the locomotive Princess Elizabeth. My first identifiable memory involves seeing this engine steaming through Shrewsbury station. She was only in light steam, but we got to go up onto the footplate and have a good look.

The day after his birthday, I went back to work. I love my job, and I’m really enjoying being back, but I’d forgotten how emotionally draining it is having the split focus of family and work, as well as how tiring it is getting up and ready at specific times. We’ll get used to it, but it does mean that my knitting time has been radically reduced.

The purple socks are coming along, although there is still only one of them. The pattern is Calable.

The lack of second sock is because Tour de Sock has started. I’m not competing to win, but just enjoying knitting some of the patterns. I loved the lace sock that was round one and I have almost finished two legs. I’m hoping to finish the round one socks before the end of round two and then knit either round three or four. I’ve found that I prefer knitting socks with only one sock on the needles at once, but swapping them over every so often. I knit the first leg, then the second. I’ll do the heel-flaps together, then the gussets separately, then probably the feet together. I’m impressed with the addi turbo needles. I’ve had to go down to a 2.25mm needle for sock knitting because my tension has relaxed so much in the last year.

I love this yarn (Knit Witch Witches Brew in Heritage Rainbow) so much. It looks pretty however you arrange it! Waiting for the next colour to arrive makes the knitting just that bit more enjoyable as well.

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.

WIP Wednesday

I’ve made a lot of progress on the cotton sweater for my son. The main body is done and I’m 20 rows from the end of the first sleeve. Sadly, one ball of yarn was not sufficient for the sleeve, so I’m waiting for an extra ball to arrive. The picture is of the main body up to just before the split for the armholes. I’m finding that knitting with cotton for long periods of time is quite tiring on the hands, particularly the left hand, so I’m taking a break for a couple of days.

The new WIP are some socks for a friend who has a lot of pain in her feet. We’ve talked a lot about how socks need to be constructed for her, so I’m hoping these will help. We settled on a toe-up construction with plain foot, reinforced flap and gusset and a lovely cabled pattern on the leg. So far I have a toe.

Oh, and I mentioned a parcel in the post that would help an aspect of knitting go more swiftly…

This is the yarn for the socks, from Violet Green in colourway Lavendular.

The lurgy has hit us all big-time, so knitting isn’t going as quickly as it might. Hopefully things will be back to normal shortly.

Blue, blue, blue

I’m knitting away on my son’s birthday sweater. Nearly finished the main body up to the armholes. This evening I want to get most of the neck shaping done, so this will be a very brief post. My hands are constantly dyed blue from the indigo leaking off the Rowan Denim. Thankfully, soap tends to get rid of most of it.

I’ve taken pictures, but they are downstairs on the camera. Later in the week…

In other news: I was reading the footnotes of my BIG book of knitting (see prev. post) and discovered a book called The History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt. I ordered it through the library and I’m now browsing through it. I was intrigued to discover that Richard Rutt was the Bishop of Leicester. I knew there was a knitting bishop, but I didn’t know he’d written about it. I really must work on making sure that knitting can be partly counted as work in the future. I’ve a few ideas, but they aren’t totally formed yet.

Turning the computer off and heading downstairs to knit.


Birthday bragging

In the midst of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week it was my birthday. Since the blogging topics for last week didn’t really include a “jump up and down and shout about all the nice stuff you have” topic, I thought I’d wait until this week to catch up. Mr H is away in Sheffield watching the Snooker World Championships and having a well earned few days away from the little people (we think this is only the second time in 3 years that he has gone away for a night without us), so I’m having a nice, relaxing evening of catching up on Mad Men and knitting.

Birthday lootI had made a very knitting-focussed wish-list for my birthday, so it is no surprise really that there is a lot to blog about.

Firstly, my lovely children (aided by Mr H, I suspect) bought me The Principles of Knitting, 2nd edition. The first edition of this has been selling for hundreds of pounds/dollars on book sites, since it has been out of print for years. The second edition has been thoroughly revised and updated. Although it is a reference book, I think it bears reading from cover to cover. I’m on page 27 of 712, so it may take a while. The first chapter was all about how to hold the knitting needles. June (author) recommends that you learn at least 3 different ways to hold the needles and yarn so that, in the event of injury, you have a different method to fall back on. According to the book, I hold the needles according to the ‘parlor method’, a hold adapted by Victorian ladies from those using a knitting belt, but without the need for wearing unladylike knitting gadgets! I’m fairly sure that my hold developed from being more used to crocheting and feeling comfortable with having the right hand knitting needle resting in the gap between thumb and forefinger. I’m sure there will be more to write about as I get further along.

The next book is Knit One Purl A Prayer, a book on spirituality and knitting (thank you sister-in-law and family). I’ve been gradually collecting books on spirituality and knitting so that I can figure out how to merge work and knitting! This book is recently published and seems, from what I have read so far, to be from a broadly Christian perspective. Should be interesting.

The last book (thank you parents-in-law) is Knit, Swirl. This is a book of patterns for a distinctive, circular construction of cardigan/jacket. Knit from the outside in, and based on either a circle or an oval, there are only four constructions, but many interpretations of the idea of a ‘swirl’. I am very much looking forward to getting the yarn to make one of these, but I may need some help choosing!

There are also two skeins of yarn in the picture: some grey Smoothie Sock from Artisan Yarns and some purpley-green Knitting Goddess sock yarn. The latter was added to an order I made a while back and hidden by Mr H until now. It is dyed using a double-dipping method, so I’m very interested to see how it works out.

The final item in the picture is a knitting notebook from my lovely sister. I think this may well become my travelling journal for keeping track of ongoing projects and decisions made.

The next month is going to be a busy one as far as knitting is concerned. I’m trying to get my son’s SK8R jumper finished and knit a promised pair of socks for a friend by the end of May. 1st June sees the start of Tour de Sock, the six-round speed sock-knitting tournament. I’d better get back to the needles.

Oh and just one more thing before I go – there is a very exciting parcel in the post to me at the moment, that will make one aspect of my knitting go much more swiftly, I hope!

Crafting Balance and A Perfect Crafting Day

The topic for today is to talk about the balance between knitting and crochet, but I think I covered that in yesterday’s post, so I’m going to play my wildcard (3KCBWWC) and write on this topic instead:

Craft Your Perfect Day

My perfect knitting day would involve being on my own, away from the family. I would wake up bright and early in the morning, not worn out from feeding a baby in the middle of the night, and reach over to where my latest sock knitting was waiting for me. I’d put in a few rounds before getting up, possibly while listening to a podcast or two.

I would spend the day mostly sitting in my favourite chair, without the cat jumping up to check on progress. There would be a DVD of West Wing or something similar on the TV and the phone would not ring.

Around lunchtime I would finish the socks, photograph them and post to Ravelry. Then I would spend the afternoon immersed in pattern books and then browsing the stash to decide what to knit next.

Crucially, between 5pm and 7pm I would be relaxed and listening to soothing classical music, while eating something quick and casting on the new project. I would not be going through the kids’ tea, bath and bedtime routine.

The evening would continue, with more knitting, more tv and cups of decaff coffee magically appearing at regular intervals. At the end of the day, I would head off to sleep with a new Yarn Harlot book to read.

Maybe in 10 years time I’ll get a day like this. Hopefully a bit sooner!

Talking of finishing socks, here are the Eskarina Socks: