Friday, December 29, 2006


fair isle long socks rolled

Christmas happened so I can show off the pieces I've been making as gifts. Above and below are knee socks for my mother. I did it toe-up, but with a flap heel (my own formula) and finished with a fair isle cuff. I used Jeagar extra fine merino 4ply with some leftover luxury tweed for the colourwork.

fair isle long socks

Then, for my brother, a pair of Aaargh-yles - perfect for the guy who wears a suit by day but everyone knows is a secret pirate. I used the chart and guide for knitting argyles from mothheaven. The black and white are both paton's wool rich 4ply, the red and grey are leftover extra fine merino from mum's socks and ones I made for my Grandfather last March.

arrgyles close up arrrgyles

I also gave my mother a sock knitting kit of yarn, addi's, crochet hook and toe-up pattern (I decimal-ised knitty's universal sock formula). She sent me a text at midnight last night to say she'd swatched and was ready to fill in the gaps in the pattern.

And this morning I had an extra gift in the shape of my final secret pal package, loads of sock yarn, with a fair isle pattern. She also revealed herself - Cassandra, from Philmont. She hasn't told me her blog yet though. SP9 still runs till the end of January, so I'm going to wait a bit before sending the final package the lady I'm spoiling, it's all set out though. All the packages I've sent have been themed - I've had so much fun working them out.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


For once, London actually looks like American tv says it should. We have fog! It's crazy and loads of people have been stranded at airports. You can see pretty pictures here.

My flat had a dinner party on the solstice and a bit of early present exchange. My flatmate gave me the Pictorial Guide to Modern Home Knitting! It of the famous endpaper.
the pictorial guide to modern home knitting knitting gadgets!

I gave Alexis the scarves/ headband things which were a runner up in the Knitterati competition. She emailed us when she started school in LA to say the air conditioning on buses was so strong she wanted a scarf (even when you're still sweating from how hot it is outside). This design, called "frillybits", hopes to help her. A hair band which doubles as a neck warmer; something to aid sweaty head or cold neck. It can also be tied round your thigh, if you are so inclined, or worn as a bracelet.

It employs a crossed stitch effect, similar to the one I used in the tie of the hotwaterbottle cover, which makes a nice alternative to eyelets. I also think it'd make a great cuff pattern on a sweater. I've written up the pattern here.

Seasons Greetings to all, I'll leave you with a photo of some of the Christmas "cards" I sent this year (they are tree decorations). You can also see the UK Christmas stamps - doesn't Santa look like he's doing a poo down the chimney?

christmas decorations

Friday, December 15, 2006

FO: fair isle hotwater bottle cover

hot water bottle cover

I felted a swatch of the the fair isle project I was working on. It didn't felt that evenly, so a lot of the colourwork pattern was lost. Plus all the green went out of the turquoise yarn - a plain blue just wasn't the same.

So I decided the fabric would have to be kept un-felted and, after taking a few measurements, realised it would make a perfect hotwater bottle cover. My mother, who doesn't have my issues with wool. has just moved house, so it was an ideal housewarming present.

I sewed up the cast-on edge. I'd started it with a few rounds of garter stitch, hence the odd edge. For the top, I shifted to working just in brown and decreased a few sts evenly around. Then, after a few cm of st st, I worked a couple repeats of a cross stitch pattern*, through which I run a crochet-chain of the CC as tie. The friction between the yarns means the tie bunches up very neatly.

The book I found the fair isle design in was from Marion, who was my SP last spring. The yarn was a thank you gift from Veronique, who's SP I was. I'm pleased I managed to match them.

* This is similar to the stitch pattern I used in my knitterati entry - I'm going to post the pattern for that in a few weeks.

Monday, December 11, 2006

all american fairy

patriotic fairy

My "hostess" for SP9 has challenged us to post a picture of a tacky Christmas decoration. Which is perfect, because I was going to post about this little lady anyway.

She's a beaded Christmas Angel. I made her myself, from a kit Alexis sent me from LA. I know red, white and blue could signify a whole set of countries, but you can just tell she's all-American can't you? I whipped it up last weekend and, currently, it's our only decoration in the flat. I think this angel is extremely "tacky" for several reasons, and delight in her being so.

Firstly, there is her "patriotism". I've been listening to some BBC podcasts on American heritage. From a British perspective, the American concepts of national identify are fascinating, being so different from our own. This is especially apparent in terms of our relationship to the flag. The many flags of the United Kingdom are not, to me, celebratory symbols. We might, on occasion, wave them at sporting events or fly them on the top of a public building, but sporting ones are symbols of what team we support as much as anything else, and there are only very few public buildings that fly a national flag. Like many Brits, I'm very aware of the legacy of our flags as symbols of racism. Both in terms of feeling more than embarrassed by colonialism, but also in terms of far-right "skinheads" of the late 20th Century and nationalism debates today. That's a long-winded way of saying, personally, I don't associate flags with comfort, familiarity or really any particularly positive image.

Differences between UK and US attitudes to nationhood aside, surely appropriating religious symbols like angels* with the colours of the flag is a bit "tacky"? And if we do invest a lot of meaning in those stars and stripes, how can we make an allusion to it out of such cheap plastic?

Most of all, for all her plastic-patriotic angelic qualities, this lady is a secret punk. Her skirt is actually made from safety pins. You might be able to tell this from the shot I took up her skirt, although even then they are pretty hidden. Because, you see, our all-American fairy seems to have had a bit too much of the Christmas spirit and fallen over, told you she was a tacky lass. A right old lush, I bet you.


* I know we could also consider her a fairy, and as such a pagan rather than Christian symbol, especially if I put her on a Christmas Tree. I think my argument for her tackiness in this respect still stands.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

FO - shedir

shedir top

Pattern: Shedir from the Knitty breast cancer print edition, downloadable here.
Yarn: two skeins Debbie Bliss cashmerino dk (I have about two thirds of a ball left). I know cashmerino will pill like crazy; not the best for cables. But I don't care. I can't take wool and it matches a scarf I wear all the time that's knitted in the aran weight version.
Needles: 2.75mm addi circs, using magic loop. That is two sizes down from the suggested ones and crazy small for dk weight yarn. I knit loose. I did the whole thing without a cabling needle.

Following Eunny, I only did three repeats of the main braid pattern instead of five. I thought about twisting the knit stitches too, but am feeling a bit "over" the twisted rib at the moment. I wish I'd done a better cast on. I was feeling particularly grumpy when I started it, and just worked knit-along for speed. Cable would have looked much neater.

And a shot from the front. In which I'm knitting Forecast, which is nearly finished. But then it's been nearly finshed for a while...

me knitting in shedir

I know I said I'd stop knitting breasts... It is a breast, and not just because it's pink. Shedir (the title of the pattern) comes from an Arabic word for breast. The pattern notes say to try google if you want to know the title's meaning. Of course, knitting's web presence being what it is, I needed to do a few layers of searches, filtering "hat, cap, knitting, knitty, knit".

I just need to keep hold of this hat. No small feat in the current climate. Yes, a tornado in London - just down the road from my old school. My mother only lives the other side of the park, she was pretty lucky.

And I've swapped to BloggerBeta. Hence the lables.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

on stash and "stuff"


I've inherited some furniture from my Dad's office. I now have a chest of drawers of my very ownsome, and my yarn can have a nicer home than a cardbox box.

I'm really pleased to say it easily fits into a small drawer. I admit this is partly due to the number of WIPs I have the moment (I've completely broken my two projects at a time rule...). As long as I don't start thinking I can buy more yarn, just because I have the extra storage space.

I don't like having a stash. I don't like having a pile of unread books either. Having unused "stuff" makes me feel guilty for unneccesary consumerism. Moreover, it's like an overflowing "in tray", which makes me nervy. I have enough of that with the horribly nebulous deadline of the PhD thesis*.

All that said, I was very pleased when this lovely secret pal package came through the door this week. A cotton/ nylon/ wool mix sock yarn in a sort of blue/ green/ white combination. Also yummy chocolate. The latter is now gone, obviously this was purely in the spirit of getting rid of "stuff" cluttering up the place :)

SP goodies

The really dangerous thing that arrived was my sewing machine. My 18th birthday present back when I was doing A-levels and dreaming of undergraduate life in Durham, sewing all my own clothes (etc etc). Except then exams arrived and I didn't really have time to learn how to use it. And I didn't go to Durham, I got a job. It's been at my parent's place for years, being guilt-inducing "stuff". But now I've got it back and I will put it to use. As long as I don't end up having to clear a drawer for fabric.

sewing machine

*UK grad school - hey, nice to meet you, come back in three years with 100,000 words. Go, use the libary - it's open 24 hours and has a coffee machine. (n.b. I am lucky and have a really supportive supervisor, but we do just get the one massive deadline, which is nice, we have freedom, but can hang over you somewhat).

Thursday, November 30, 2006

solace on fair isle

wip shot - lost hat!

Downloading* photos from my camera yesterday, I found I a WIP shot of the lost hat. I'd completely forgotten I'd taken it. So I can share quite how lovely the colours were.

Easing my pain, I found a use for the blue and brown wool Veronique sent me. I finally got the hang of holding a colour in each hand, and am breezing along.

fair isle wip

I was going to do legwarmers, but I'm still worried about wool-itch. I'm pretty sure it'll be a bag, but if I felt it (yet to test a swatch) I could cut the fabric up for something else. It'd probably make a great bag, I'm just not sure I need one.

* Or is it uploading? In fact, what's the difference? When is the computer up or down?

Monday, November 27, 2006

problem with t'noggin

I knitted a hat.

Using Wormhead's ingenious Whirly Rib pattern, I striped Kureyon with a solid purple Cashmerino. To avoid itching from the wool, I worked cashmerino only for the rim, then striped in the gradually. The yarn and the pattern worked so well. The colours; gorgeous. I finished at the end of last week and already had compliments from non-knitters and knitters alike.

Lack of photographic evidence?

I left on the bus this morning. I was tired and frustrated by seeing the bus I was going to change onto pass us. I might be able to try the London Transport lost property office, but don't hold out much hope.

Grump grump grump. I was planning on blogging about it this evening and really looking forward to it.

But in good news I drunkenly made my boyfriend wear my pink scarf on saturday night (went surprisingly well with his yellow tee-shirt). Now smells of him. Which is comforting considering the lack of whirly wool hat to keep my noggin* warm.

*Brit slang - I mean head. Though you probably worked that out.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

FO - woodland fairy bag

Another FO! I'm just chugging them out. That's a lie. I did this AGES ago, but like the shibori scarf, it was a present so kept off the blog. My current knitting is actually going quite slowly (frogged a sleeve of forecast, grumble, grumble).

Enough of that, the FO. Ta-da! It's a felted bag, a birthday present for my friend Alexis, who recently emigrated to LA.

alexis' bag portrait

I did the knitting, felting and embroidery for the outside. Kirsty (Alexis' cousin, my flatmate) sewed all the inside, making a super-strong lining, strap and zip. Plus she chose a cute button from her grandmother's button box to neaten the front pocket. I used green fuzzi felt with a loose lace design suggested in the second R2 book. Felted it, cut bits out and crocheted hexagons in some pink/sparkly scraps I had around.

Years ago, back when we were slightly punkish, slightly gothish teenagers, I made Alexis a similar bag which we both decided looked like Barbie's puke. I've decided all the green fuzzi felt makes this more like the bodily fluid of a woodland fairy. We left the front bit open as an extra pocket, so she can play with the "boobies" that are made by the embroidery. I have to stop knitting things with breasts.

boobies inside alexis' bag

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

birthday scarf for my mum

Before I forget, thanks for all the comments about my recent FOs. I tend not to reply to comments unless I have something productive to say, but I do always read them and go over to any link that's left with them - I've found a load of new knit blogs from comments.

So, another FO. I finished this ages ago. But it was a gift for my mother's birthday, so I had to hide it. I used about two and a half balls of luxury tweed. It was just a simple st st scarf on 3.25mm needles. When finished, I arranged some marbles at each end - kept inside the fabric with rubber bands - and threw it in the washing machine for a spin. As previously documented, our washing machine loves felting.

Once dry, I removed the marbles and popped the bobbles out. I'd been wanting to try this technique for ages and very pleased with the result. The colour should suit my mum well, and it's not too fussy (without being something too simple and boring for a birthday present). It's also incredibly warm and soft.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

FO - "mermaid" legwarmers

One fish.

one fish

Two fish.

two fish

More green than blue fish.

The yarn is from curiousyarns, back when they sold sockyarn in 70g skiens (with a 30g contrast colour for toes and heels).

It's been sitting in my stash for about six months, teasing me with how perfect it'd be as a pair of pomatomi. Three problems with this: it's 100% wool; I don't really need another pair of socks; I didn't think the yardage was quite enough.

I can't believe it took me this long to work out the solution - legwarmers. Well more anklets than full legwarmers, but I wanted something neater than my big baggy sparkly pair. I just worked the cuff chart for the pomatomus pattern an extra repeat and finished with a sewn bind off. They fit neatly over a pair of standard socks, or even bare feet on days when I'm wearing grown up shoes. Perfect.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

FO - silk sash for wedding

silk sash

I decided to knit this to go with the dress I wore to my cousin's wedding, and it was my project for the train up there. In the end, it didn't quite go with the dress in (not quite thin or wide enough) but did work VERY well in my hair instead. It'll probably work with other dresses, and again in the hair. And maybe as a very small scarf come spring.

Pattern It's a long rectangle... the stitch pattern for those who want to play (multiple of 4 sts, +1):

Rows 1 and 3: knit
Row 2: p1, *p3tog put don't drop the st off the needle, yo, then purl another time into the p3tog before releasing the stitch (i.e. you make three sts into a double-decrease - neat!), p1**, repeat from * to ** till end.
Row 4: p3, then * to ** until last 3 sts, p3.

It was a really fun stitch pattern, I know the photos (black yarn!) aren't that great, but the effect is sort of like crochet. I'm thinking of doing a pair of mittens using it.

Yarn Debbie Bliss pure silk in black. Lovely to work. But you know all the complaints about cashmerino pilling? Imagine a yarn that pills as you knit it. What is with all the cable patterns she's done for it?! It feels lovely and has a nice sheen, but I wouldn't cables it (even if you could afford a silk cable jumper!).

Needles My smiley face 3.25mms.

Monday, November 06, 2006

soysilk tablecloth - done!

I'm back from Edinburgh and my cousin's wedding. Which means the tablecloth has been given and I can show it off!

This was a bit of a toothpicks and dental floss project, but I did enjoy it and am pleased with the results. The only thing I didn't really like about it was knitting-to-deadline, but that's my own fault.

Yarn: laceweight soysilk. It's a bit like cotton, but not so strong, and silkier knitted up. I tried to do some research before I bought it but I couldn't find a knitter who had used it. In the end I thought it was worth a try, and I'm glad I took the risk, because it is fantastic. Recommended. It does smell a bit odd when wet though, sort of chemical.

Pattern: Find it and other's here. It was hard. But I wanted a challenge. I ended up charting out a lot of it because it was much easier to read, but that's often the way. I started each motif with the magic adjustable ring rather than the way it suggested and simplified the boarder a little, but otherwise I didn't do any mods. There were places where instructions could be more clearly expressed, but it all seemed to be correct.

Needles: 2mm brittany birch dpns, 2mm addi turbo 80cm circular and a 1.75mm metal crochet hook. The birch had too much friction and the addi's were slippery but neither was too much of a problem. It was a vintage pattern and suggested working the 800+ sts for the boarder on dpns - thank goodness for circulars! I *hated* the hook - way too slippery. Either I get a wood one of that size or there is no way I'm crocheting at that gage again.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

train knitting

I'm off to Scotland in a few hours for my cousin's wedding. I just have a few moments to blog my first SP9 package (!) and show off the projects I'm taking for the train.

First up. The dress I'm wearing to the wedding needs a sash. A great excuse to try a yarn I wouldn't normally have a chance to play with (Debbie Bliss 100% silk). I'm normally of the view that bloggers shouldn't knit with black yarn, and when they do they shouldn't photograph it. But I can't resist.

The green underneath was the dress I was wearing yesterday, not the one I'm wearing to the wedding, which is also silk and a sort of grey/ purple. I love that I'm knitting this super-glam yarn with my smiley-face needles. You'll just have to imagine how lovely it is to work with.

The silk is such as small ball this won't take long. The main project I'm taking is my brother's birthday present. When he was little he lived in his Superman cape (well any fancy dress... pirates, Peter Pan, knights, but mainly Superman) and one christmas asked Santa for "super-boots". We couldn't find any, so I made some out of a pair of red wellingtons, with the superman symbol in gold paint on the side. For his 21st (last week) one of his presents from me was a voucher saying I'd do him a knit slipper-sock version if he told me his feet measurements. I'm using EZ's moccasin sock pattern with Paton's woolrich DK (for his sensitive skin). It'll be mainly red, with dark blue soles. I thought about a gold for intasia symbol, but I'm just going to paint it on.

And, leaving the best till last, my first SP9 package! The parcel arrived yesterday afternoon long after I thought the post had already come and gone (along with my train ticket - so I was VERY pleased with the postman!). The parcel was just small enough to go through the letterbox and landed with a great thund on the carpet. I investigated the front for clues - somewhere in the USA. Then opened it - chocolate (now packed for the train), a flower notebook, a writing set (and I've been meaning to write some proper old fashioned letters recently!). Plus an aran sock pattern from knitpicks and oh, can my fingers feel some yarny goodness? By golly they can - some beautifully autumnal-coloured knitpicks sock yarn.

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.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

not so big bad

First, yay for more finished lovemeknots.

Thanks for the comments about the felting. I think Lisa is right about handknit + washine machine = bad idea, even for yarn with that nice little "machine washable" label.

I have to ask though, what is it with knitters and felted bags?

I'm not making a bag. Taking Ysloda's lead, I'll give you a "pictorial" guide to what I have done. They are all thumbnails, click on them to see larger version.

Sewed up one of the armholes...

top sewn up

Cut down the middle of the back to the next armhole.

cutting through middle

Baked some gingerbreadmen.

it's a biscuit

Ta-da! A Scarf. A (little red riding) hoodscarf. Complete with fairy-tale pointy top.


scarf longer hoodie

Red riding hood was delivering cookies to her Granny. Both my Granny's died years ago, but I've always had a great set of Great Aunts. One of my aunt's died last week, another is very ill in hospital.

This scarf is in honor of them both, and all other "mature ladies" (aunts, neighbours, grannys, members of knitting groups...) who deserve spoiling with cookies once in a while.

That said, these cookies are going to a friend for his 26th birthday. I'll save one for my Graddad though. And maybe my little brother if he's lucky.