Monday, October 30, 2006


This project was so quick it didn't make to my sidebar. I mentioned in my last post that my boyfriend's mother requested a balaclava for a ten year old. I didn't know exactly why, but it was easier not to ask. As it turns out, Di was teaching the "Balaclava Boy" (story in this book studied in many schools) but none of the students knew what a balaclava was.

Looking for patterns I found this amazing site on Red Cross balaclava's, and I love Noa. But I couldn't find a pattern for child's balaclava that was right. As a teaching aid, it did need to look very balaclava-like. In the end I worked it out myself.

I worked a top down hat until it got to the circumference Yarn Standard's suggested for a child's head. Then bound off a third of the stitches, worked flat for what I guessed was the length of a child's head, cast sts back on, rejoined in round, did a few rows then swapped to smaller needles and ribbed a few inches, ending with a sewn bind off.

It took a couple of trips to work on the bus and a few hours in the evening tv-knitting. A week's project, but hassle-free week. With the tablecloth done and still enough knitting days till xmas I had the time.

I got thank you texts yesterday saying Di had tried it on and it "does wonders for the double chins", suggesting this as a marketing possibility. I could see the balaclava working with some of those clean masculine lines this year. Maybe chain mail large guage or with a chunky cable, and grey naturally :)

EDIT: Yarnforward are looking for people to knit a few projects for the next issue - they are all really small and it'd be a great way of showcasing your knitting. Check the Yarnforward Blog for details.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I've finished the tablecloth. But its going to be a gift, so I'll leave posting with proper blocked FO for now. Suffice to say blocking did do it's wonders and I'm very proud. The soysilk yarn smelt funny when wet. Worse than wet wool. Chemical, like paint.

So on to the next project - Forecast using the yarn above. It's not the colour I expected, but nice enough. I cast on during knitting cinema on saturday and I'm already into the fourth pattern repeat. I best get balling that final skien.

Also, my boyfriend's mum has asked me to knit a balaclava. The only information I have is that it is for a child in year 5 (10 year old) and that it should have a full open face, not just a small slat for eyes. I figured black aran weight. Patternwise, I think I'll just work a top-down hat but keep going for longer, casting off central third (or half?) stitches for face and rejoining in round for a ribbed neck.

Apparently my knitterati entry was a runner up. I didn't know I was even shortlisted, so it was a lovely surprise. My prize was some sock yarn and a felted bag, both beautiful. Check out the pictures of the finalists - the winning piece is amazing.

I've had a pattern published in Yarn Forward, but am yet to get my hands on a copy - anyone seen it?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

grey forecast

The end is in sight for the soy silk tablecloth. It's no where near finished, but it is getting there. It'll really need some good blocking if it'll ever look like this. But a crochet swatch I experimented with blocked well, so I'm hopeful.

I've started to consider my next project. I don't have a huge amount of time, gift knitting season being upon us. But want a cardigan for myself and have settled on Forecast, with Winnie's mods. I'm going to use cucumberpatch's super-cheap Rowanspun in a dark grey. Yes, it is 100% wool, but I can handle it for cardigans and you'd be suprised how hard it is to find a good aran weight wool mix.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

public knitting

As regular readers will know, I do much of my knitting in public, simply because I knit as something to do on the bus to work. That's one of the reasons why I love this photo - from the shoot for exchequered. The traffic lights changed, the bus' engines growled into action, and went passed at just the wrong moment, completely obscuring the scarf.

There was a knit a river meet by the London Eye today. But I had teaching work to catch up on, so at 10 o'clock this morning I was sitting on the 36 bus to college, happily knitting away. We were making good time, and had just gone passed the Oval.

The traffic lights changed, the bus' engines growled into action, it turned into another lane and I spotted a man walking down the street carrying a HUGE blue patchwork blanket on his head. It was a sight anyone would have stared at out of the window of a bus, and it was a good few seconds before I realised I'd seen that blanket before and knew exactly who he was and where he was going.

London is such a huge place things like that don't happen very often. I was tempted to lean out the window and wave my knitting at them to wish them luck. But seeing as I was whizzing around one of the larger roundabouts in town and on the top deck of a bus I figured they'd probably not see me. Even if they did, I'd still look a bit strange. And in someways it was nicer left unsaid - simple silent recognition of fellow knitters.

But it did make me smile. It was a bit like spotting a celebrity, only better.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

SP9 Questionnaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I am not a yarn snob and I'd not look down my nose at another knitter's choice of yarn, but I am very particular about what I like to work with. I prefer "skinny" yarns: 4ply, laceweight. DK maybe. Very rarely I'll play with aran weight. Mercenized cotton is my favourite to work with but there is a limit to what I can make out of it. I like things with good crisp stitch definition. I have a slight allergy to 100% wool so tend to go for mixes. I don't like anything slubby, fuzzy, snaggy or likely to shed - I'm not much of a mohair fan. I don't really like verigated yarns for anything other than socks - even then I prefer semi-solids or light variegation. I *hate* anything boucle, whatever the fibre content.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

We have a second for dpns and circulars (can you spot the shadow?) and a plastic cup for hooks. It suits us, I like them.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
Seriously, since early 2005. My mum taught me when I was little, but I soon forgot and was distracted by paint, sewing and beads. My flatmate re-taught me the basics and went away for a week, leaving her copy of Stich & Bitch out on the kitchen table... I knit a lot so even though it's been less than two years, I'd say I'm intermediate. My garment construction and fair isle isn't up to "advanced" levels.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Nothing up to date.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)
I tend to avoid scented things. They are too likely to make me sneeze.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Chocolate. liquorice. I don't have an especially sweet tooth, although I bake a reasonable amount it tends to be based around fruit or chocolate rather than simply for the sugar. I'm lactose intolerant, which limits me a bit.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
No I don't spin and have no desire to learn, I crochet a bit and I used to bead.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s?
I don't like one kind of music. But then there is lots I don't like... probably best avoided.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
I don't have favourites in colour, all colours are nice in the right context. That said in terms of colours I like to wear, I tend to go for more muted shades.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I have a boyfriend but we don't live together (doesn't stop him leaving his football kit for me to wash, grumble grumble). I share a flat with my oldest friend which is obviously lovely, especially when she makes me lovely things like this skirt:

(sorry, off topic, but I've not shown it off here yet). My mum, brother and grandfather all live in London too, so I see them a reasonable amount but my dad died this summer. No pets.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
Yes to all but ponchos. I don't really like hats or mittens unless it's REALLY cold. I have too many scarves (yes you can have too many, trust me, I tried to get a photo of them all but it was too dark in my room this morning).

12. What is/are your favorite items to knit?
I love knitting socks. Anything small, because I mainly knit to give me something to do on the bus - it has to be portable - but I like a challenge, nothing too mindless. I like lace knitting.

13. What are you knitting right now?

Above, a lace tablecloth from soysilk. I'm about a third of the way through. It's quite a challenge, but I'm enjoying it. Below, and in complete contrast a mindless bit of simple st st for knitting on the bus. It's a scarf I'm going to felt. You can keep up to date on my sidebar.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
I have some very special ones from close friends and family.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I heart my addi turbos. I actively avoid straight needles, mainly because I find them too long to work with on the bus - I have some shorter ones though, with smily faces on.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
Nope. That's what boyfriends are for.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
About a month. I'm quite disciplined about such things.

18. What is your favourite holiday?
I *love* Christmas.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
My PhD is on children's science books.

But on the whole I try not to collect anything - I'd rather travel light. I'm constantly fighting against my yarn and bead stash.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I'd really like to see what all the fuss is about Socks that Rock. Also, this might sound weird but being in the UK I can't try knitpicks yarns or patterns - they have a couple of fair isle sock patterns that look really nice. I had a Rowan subscription this year but won't renew it. I've got one of my patterns in the new Yarn Forward magazine.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I'd like to get better at fair isle.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
I knit socks, perhaps too much. My feet are 24.5cm circ, 26cm long. Big feet.

23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)
13th of April.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Wash day today. A perfect excuse to get thinking about socks and answer some of Lolly's Socktoberfest questions.

When did you start making socks?
Last christmas. I knit a pair in dk weight wool for my boyfriend to wear under his wellies. I realised pretty quickly that there were formulas for sock knitting so worked out a pattern from a variety of things online. I remember I was at knitting group when I turned my first heel. There was a journalist there interviewing us about "the new fashion in knitting", I got all excited about picking up stitches and she looked at me as if I was mad.

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?
Lorna's Laces is my favourite, without a doubt. I love the semi-solids . I've used some gorgeous semi-sold purple Fyberspates yarn too, which like all her yarns was yummy. The Curious Yarns stuff was pretty good and the soft and squidgy-ness of Cherry Tree Hill is lovely. All that said I'm a big fan of Cygnet wool rich 4ply. Cheap, good stitch definition, comes in a verity of colours, pretty hard-wearing.

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?
I have some crochet sock patterns bookmarked, and have thought about it. I'm not really on a crochet kick at the moment. I tend to use Magic Loop, but have used dpns for colourwork because I found I got a more regular tension. I'm a toe-up girl whenever possible.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)
Short row all the way, for appearance and fun to knit. But I've been working on some toe-up flap styles which I like. I prefer a round to square heel. I many ways I think it depends on the sock. Some stitch patterns look better with a flap, others I feel suit the neat triangle of the short-row. It probably also depends on the shape of the foot wearing the sock, particular heels flatter particular feet.

How many pairs have you made?
That's a good question. That's seven pairs on the line, plus three dry and folded away in my room. And a whole load done for presents. I'm going to have to think about that.

But now to bed. I meet my new class of undergrads midday tomorrow - a morning full of photocopying reading lists lies before me. And then onto a funeral. Long day.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

things to do with tofu no.289

I broke out the laceweight soysilk. I'm hoping blocking will do wonders.

Thanks for all your kind comments and emails after my last post. I worry about mentioning my non-knitting life in the blog (for lots of different reasons) but your kind words meant a lot so I'm glad I did.

Look - finished Boyfriend Socks! Don't they look great in blue?

Sunday, October 01, 2006


In my last post I said my Great Aunt Betty was ill in hospital. She died the next day. We were all thinking how awful to loose to two aunts so soon after my Dad dying when, on thursday, I had a phonecall saying one of my oldest friends had been killed. She was 24.

To be honest it's still sinking in. It's such a shock.

I was going to start on all the gift knitting I have waiting for me for this term. But it seems a bit hard to think ahead right now. I can't really cope with the idea of anything complex. Instead I seem to be mass producing these.

Made from leftover 4ply, and applying cross stitch (that's crossing the knit stitches, not needlework) I worked the design out by playing with swatches. They can be layed out flat into an alice-band or pulled tight frilled up as a scrunchie. They can be attached round the thigh as a garter (though I've never quite understood garters) or worn round the neck as cozy and slightly Edwardian collar. They are my entry for the Knitterati competition.

Workwise, I'm transcribing interviews, which is sort of the academic's equivalent of st st in the round.