Thursday, March 30, 2006

SP goodies!

So about 10 minutes after pressing "post" for my last entry, upstair's dog starts barking and there's a knock at the door...

Its Mr Post Man and he's carrying a parcel from Estonia! (My SP is Estonian - ooo so exciting). She emailed me a while back to say she was a bit busy in Febuary but I'd get a extra big double March package, and she meant it - its ENOURMOUS!

Inside were five numbered packages and a "table of contents" (a contents for a package, ooo so exciting). All beautifully wrapped. It's my birthday in a couple of weeks and I'm sure if my flatmate was here I'm sure she'd make me keep one of the boxes until then. But she's not... ha, let the opening begin!

So first up, entitled "help": row counters, coloured note-tabs, tape measure, honey handcream from Russia and an amazing design notebook (I think I'll do a whole post on this sometime, it includes pages with two different sizes of squares and outlines of bodys for sketching garments) - how did she know I'd just finished both a set of note-tabs and my knitting notebook - Secret Pals are magic!

Number 2 "glitter" is beads! Along with beading chord and a clasp - really lovely purple-based beads too (well lots of colours, they shimmer!). Beading is my first love, I only took to knitting for its portability. In fact my bead stash is nearly as bad as my knitting one... Number 3 "feeling good" - lovely candles that make me think of spring. I'm going to hold off photographing till the start of April as they are just perfect for Project Spectrum,

Number 4 "sweet tooth" - as soon as I pick this up this I can smell the chocolate... mmmm. Coffee too, and I was just about to put a pot on (I swear, there is some psychic think going on with Secret Pals, I managed to send Veronique needles in the exact size she was using for a big WIP).

And... number 5 "what it's all about!". What is it all about? KNITTING of course! Purple Finnish sockyarn, some black and white cotton/ acrylic mix that feels lovely, some georgous red and green Russian yarn that just glows (its hard to tell in photo, but its luminous) and... she made me a pin and bracelet!

This final box also included a postcard of Tallinn which shows were she lives. So far I've known her as "Riietaja", but she's called Marion and her blog (which my flatmate said she'd found and I was trying to be good and not check through the SP Participant list for...) is vardakeerutaja. Go look - she has English in her posts!

I'm sure I've used up my monthly allowance of exclamation marks in this post, so I'm going to make a cup of coffee, cast on a pair of falling leaves with the purple sockyarn and relax. Thank you Secret Pal!

I'm back

I'm back from up North (three days in Glasgow for conference, three days in York for holiday with boy). I stroked Debbie Bliss silk in York and fondled angora in Glasgow. Still, I managed to be good and only purchase some grey scottish yarn I think I'll turn into socks for the boy. It was that or souvenir-buy some Edinburgh Rock, so really this stash enhancement was purely for the good of my waistline. Ahem.

I also got some dpns. I'm a devoted magic-looper, but I decided it was necessary. I took a challenge for the long train journey - some fair isle socks - and discovered that my gage is a LOT looser at the end of the needle than the start, not a good thing in fair isle. I suspected it was something to do with the angle you make the stitches, which in turn relates to how many sts are behind it on the needle and concluded distributing them over five dpns might help. It was a lot slower, but the gage was a lot more regular.

Anyway, one of them snapped last night so I may well have to swap back to the magic loop and complete the experiment comparing gage on the two. And I'm pleased to add I tried doing figure-eight cast on with dpns and magic loop and the latter is a MILLION times easier. When Wendy says it can be fiddly in her knitty article? She was obviously only meaning with dpns. This toe rocks and considering its ease with magic loop, I doubt I'll ever provisionally cast on a toe again.

in other news the veils are starting to fall and Secret Pal's all over the world are showing their identity. I came out to mine, Veronique in New York, in my last package (the secret Magknits project) and she likes it! Do check out her blog, she's a very cool lady doing some amazing knitting.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Turns out, garter stitch scarves? On big needles? Really addictive. Who knew?

Despite the distractions of the garter, I have finished the "stripy" socks and can confidently say illusion knit socks kick bottoms. They are so much fun. You can find the pattern here. Its a game. You will need dice.

I also managed to photograph and email off the pattern for my secret Magknits project. And mail the finished piece to my Secret Pal, as the FO is also her last spoil from me. I do hope she likes it. The only clue you get is the photo above, not that the project had beads in the end - its not a very good clue. Ha.

Right, I'm going to sort the last few bits of my presentation and then off to bed. Wye tomorrow (exam) then sleeping at my parent's before very early train to Glasgow for the conference. Probably won't be online till wednesday evening.

UK knitters - if you haven't already, check out the new knitchicks site.

Monday, March 20, 2006

four things...

I am really busy this week with academic-work type things, so not a huge amount of knitting happening. Plus most of the knitting I am doing isn't ready for its close-up quite yet. But this picture hits project spectrum buttons if nothing else.

I've been tagged by the delightful Emmie which is the perfect excuse for brief distraction from my marking. It's (probably) not the "four things" questions you think it is...

Four jobs I wish I had in my lifetime:
1. Kaffe Fassett's colour therapist
2. Lorna (her of the Laces)'s checker for pooling type effects
3. Chief librarian for a big knitting library (imaginary) one where you could chat, and drink coffee in, and where knitting groups from all over the world would travel to for special meetings (or ooo, we could video-link SnBitchers, how exciting) as well as books on shelves we'd have gage swatches so you could see how different yarns looked knitted up in different stitches.
4. Rowan's yarn sniffer (all yarn should be sniffed)

Four movies I cannot watch over and over:
... I can't really answer this because I don't watch anything "over and over"

Four TV programmes I hate to watch:
1. "Celebrity" reality stuff
2. the news when it makes me cry, I prefer to cry to the radio
3. *shhh, I didn't say this* science documentaries - hey it feels like work
4. nearly anything with Steven Fry in it, though there are a few exceptions.

Four places I wish I could live:
1. Sydney
2. Edinburgh
3. Wimbledon (I had a dream about it a few weeks ago and it made sense, I think its because I like West London and trams, and I never litter)
4. My own house, one that I could afford a mortgage for. In London, central-ish, near a tube station and park, which was structurally sound without a damp problem, preferably on the Victoria Line, with nice quiet neighbours and a great local knitting group. But I'm not fussy, a flat near a train station would do, it's the affordable mortgage that's the really wishful bit.

Four places I’ve never been on holiday to:
1. Anywhere in South America - I was going to go in my gap year when I was 18, but I got all distracted with the job at the Science Museum.
2. Anywhere in Asia - I did a stop in Singapore airport once, doesn't count
3. New Zealand - and I'd LOVE to, one day once the PhD's done
4. Ireland - and there is no excuse, I grew up in Kilburn for god's sake.

Four websites I visit daily, without fail:
1. BBC
2. livejournal
3. googlemail (UK gmail)
4. this one (hey, its where I have my knitting blog links, no narcissism here, promise)

Four least favourite types of yarn:
1. Rowan lurex - it tangles and is scratchy and why Rowan, why?
2. Kidsilk haze - don't like working with it, don't like wearing it, don't like washing it. It is lovely to look at though. Absolutely gorgeous and goes really far. I heart Rowan really.
3. Gedifra's "Barocco" - *simply shivers* why Liberty's stock this I don't know.
4. Stuff in my stash I haven't knit with yet, I hate having a stash, it makes me feel guilty. I'll love it again when I start a project with it, but at the moment its looking at me, making me feel bad.

I refuse to call it a meme, I did an essay on the sociology of memetrics as an undergrad - it left me with "issues". I won't tag anyone, but anyone who reads this can consider themselves semi-tagged. More a "tap" or a "nudge" than a tag.

Right, back to googling images of Dinosaurs and all that Rubbish for my conference presentation.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

a couple of FOs, a couple of WIPs

Finished the "brighton rock" socks! Am very pleased with them. The picture was taken at 7:55 this morning at West Dulwich station, much to the amusement of several kids on their way to school.

Yarn: one small (50g) skein of fyberspates sockyarn in "brighton rock" and some magic anti-tickle merino 4ply
Pattern: toe-up, changing yarns for body and cuffs, toes and heels. I also did a 1x1 twisted rib (i.e. knit the knits through the back loop) to finish off.

Since last downloading photos, I finished another pair of socks, again with the fyberspates sockyarn. This was similar, but with green. And the green pooled something chronic. I love the colour combo though - I have quite a bit of both yarns left over, so I thought I'd stripe them together which should get the nice bits of green amongst the red and pinks and it'll look all lovely. I should have some other reds and pinks left over soon enough, so will probably put together an odds and ends pair of socks.


And the WIPs? The stripy socks idea is working. Well. Really well, but I'm holding out on this for now, I'll probably put out the pattern if it does work. Just on craftster or something, not submitting it anywhere.

Pictured is... a garter stitch scarf. On big needles. Well, 6.5mm, which is big for me - my idea of a nice fast chunky knit is 4.25mm.

I've had this wool in my stash for months, and before then it spent several years in sunny Kilburn living in my mother's knitting bag. I think its Colinette Prism, but it lost its label a long time back. I'd tried a few swatches of various stitch patterns, with several different garments in mind.

In the end garter stitch scarf was just what fitted the yarn. Plus it'll be a perfect project to take to knitflicks on saturday (its Capote!). I love the way it looks, it reminds me of ivy - hence the photo, I got all inspired taking pictures of trees on my walk home through Dulwich this evening.

Sometimes being a skilled knitter is knowing when to break out the garter stitch. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


I took this photo while my train was standing at Ashford International Station today. I teach at the agricultural college at Wye on thursdays - it involves a long train journey there and back and much knitting gets done.

I'm using a small (50g) skein of fyberspates sockyarn in "brighton rock" bulked out with some bright pink magic anti-tickle merino 4ply for toes, heels and cuff. I'm doing a standard toe-up mindless knit, so I was reading while I worked, hence the book its resting on. It's the latest Lemony Snicket. If you've not read them, don't let the movie put you off, these books are outstanding. This one is set in a huge hotel with rooms based on the Dewey Decimal Classification System. Fantastic.

I'm pretty sure the guy I was sitting opposite was this author. Whatever, he was reading Harriet the Spy and I could tell he was eyeing my pile of kids books. I wanted to start talking to him, but some really loud teenagers got on so we both moved seats in different directions.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Lots of knitting has been happening, but its secret. So there.

I've been trying to think about what I can do for Project Spectrum but so far the secret science project has been keeping me to purples and green. Which is ironic seeing as most of my stash is red or pink, as shown.

I'm planning on casting on a pair of red and white socks using some fyberspates yarn in "brighton rock" as soon as the secret project's done, and I've been thinking of baking red velvet cake I saw lots of references to it surfing knitter's blogs round valentines. I can't believe I'd never heard of it before, I expect Nigella to keep me informed about such things.

The knitting cogs in my mind have been doing some serious work the last few days. Apart from various battles with the secret project (it'll be a piss-easy pattern to follow, but a pain in the bottom to design!) I read about an art competition at my college, so obviously I have to submit some knitting-art. I'm not sure about the details yet, it’s not till the end of May, but think it'll involve lace and kool-aid. And possibly tofu.

Friday, March 03, 2006


I finished Pomatomus this week. I really like this pattern.

For one, it looks amazing. They ripple over your feet.

Contrary to popular opinion, it did work using magic loop, although the pattern involves some stitch re-arranging which are written with dpns in mind, so more than a bit of dpn-visualisation was required. It wasn't a quick knit, but more of a "process knitter" anyway - the lace pattern is hard enough to be entertaining but logical enough you can work out where you are and when you've gone wrong. Like many patterns, the second one was a lot quicker because I knew what all these instructions were there to achieve.

The yarn helped, it suits the pattern so well. Partly because of the shimmery grey-green-blue (photography won't do the colouring justice) but also because its warm and fluffy yet with reasonably good stitch definition. I used Angel sockyarn in "pine". I know Angel are getting slagged off a bit at the moment (including by me, grrrr) but I was so pleased with this stuff, I'll risk them again. Well, I'll see how it copes to the copious quantity of wear I plan to give these socks first.

The twisted rib flows through the lace design, making wondrously stretchy socks. In fact I think I could have made them smaller. I may frog them down an inch or so and re-do the toes to make them shorter at least, but I'll see what its like after they've been through a wash or two - its not so baggy it uncomfortable. Still, my gage can be on the big side, so I might use 2mm dpns when I make more pomatomi. Which I will. In fact I have the yarn in my stash already. It is also green.