Tuesday, February 28, 2006

so soft

There is no way Rowan Soft 4ply is 100% merino. It is a little too silky, the stitch definition is slightly better than you'd expect, its soft elasticity isn't quite believable and I don't trust that sheen one bit.

I swear someone slipped in some silk and microfibre when the rest of the team weren't paying attention. Made Mr and Mrs Rowan look the other way with a distressed sheep or something.

Whatever, it is yummy yarn. I like to think of it as butter disguised as candyfloss*swirls, desperately trying to escape the tightly spun structure Rowan have imposed upon them. When I have babies I will make all their clothes from it. But I don't plan to do that for a while, so until then, it was perfect for my granddad's socks.

He is 85 in a few weeks, had a dodgy knee and has problems getting his socks on somedays. Plus, as an elderly person circulation concerns dictate he really shouldn't have anything with too-tight a cuff. Lycra can be great in some things, but not necessarily for old man socks. So I've done a long a really wide ribbed cuff (the soft elasticity of the yarn really helps for this) and a nice big heel so he can slip his feet in easily. The wool will be soft and warm, yet let his feet breathe if they get sweaty. And it doesn't matter if its not too hard waring because he go many places anymore, they are really just an extra layer of slipper. I didn't really use a pattern, its a basic top-down sock on a 2.25mm addi circ.

I also added a nautical design on the toe. This is partly because he's an ex Sailor, but also to "anchor" down those feet he's not so steady on these days.

*candyfloss = "cotton candy" in English (as opposed to American-English)

Monday, February 27, 2006

shhhh, its science

I spent my lunchbreak with pencil and paper at the Science Museum today.

What could that possibly have to do with knitting?


But to give specifics would just be telling. You are allowed the one clue: I bought yarn this weekend. Jaeger Matchmaker DK, four whole balls of merino goodness in 655 (burgundy) and 730 (loden). Right, that's all you are getting.

Apart from this red-herring of a photo and the news that this appears to be out. Even in blighty.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

sweat pea?

Isn't it funny how your opinions of a project can chop and change so much?

I decided I make socks for my friend K (n.b. I'm not doing the whole fake name in the blog thing, she actually goes under the one letter). It's her 24th this weekend and she's going round the world at Easter. Handknitted socks are just perfect for the traveller, giving me an excuse to get my greedy knitters fingers on some Curious Yarns sock wool and pop my Jaywalker cherry to boot.

When the yarn arrived I was even more excited, the colours reminded me of a photo we'd taken of our feet in Florida a few years back (K and I have many photos of our feet, ahem, another reason why socks were the perfect present). Curious Yarns have a "doubleskein" thing going on - they send you 75g of a MC and 25g of a CC for toes, heels and cuffs. It’s 100% wool, machine washable and yummy.

About an hour in I was loving the pattern, but feeling less enamoured with the yarn. The colours were nice, just not together. Not so bad I'd dump the project, but it was bugging me, the shine of perfect had gone. By the next day I decided I didn't like the pattern either. I know this is about as sacrilegious as criticising the clapotis, hey it lacks stretch! But...

...by the time I'd finished the second sock I'd been totally converted. The colours worked when the cuff was balanced by the heel and the toe, and the pattern - I take it all back, it showed off the yarn so well and snugly hugs around the foot. I started mentally writing my blog entry for the completed project, waxing lyrical about the loveliness of the yarn, etc and speedily cast on the second.

Finished now, its not flawless - the shine of perfection was lost in the idea rather than the reality of the project. Curious Yarn's cute idea of a small skein? Well, I was four rounds short of yarn. As it happens the end of the toe in the MC was ok for this colour combination, but I think I'll stick to the single-skeins in future. So, overall, I'm quite proud. They are super-comfy, and will be just delicious for travelling in.

And don't worry K, I took this shot BEFORE I washed them.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

shucks, socks

My Olympic progress has improved, helped muchly by a trip to Kent and back on thursday and knitflicks yesterday, I've finished two socks! Not of the same pair, but two socks nonetheless. And two half-done's on the needles.

I'll leave posting about them till I have a complete pair done. So the photo above is from a book the boy gave me for Valentine's. Not the one about poo, its called Woman's World, its a novel written entirely out of bits of text cut out of 1960's woman's magazines. Its by the guy who does lost consonants series in the Guardian, and hilarious. Thought I'd post it here, as the crafty knitting community is the sort of place to appreciate such things.

Right now I'm making the boy act as a swift while I ball some yarn. His payment for this will be a cherry and almond muffin, which I'm about to take out the oven. Then I'm taking the rest of the batch down the road for knitting with some livejournal/ Bustie types.

Oh, and shucks, such nice comments about the cardigan. Thank you knitting bloggers!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

fairly difficult (to knit on crowded tube)

So here be pictures of my "Fairy Easy" cardi. I'll write up a better post on in it the knitalong when I have the time. Just so you know the thing in the background that looks like a toilet seat isn't one, its the door of our washing machine. There is a limit to how much I share, though I admit I have a bit of a reputation for discussing such things (my boy gave me Everybody Poos* for Valentines).

Slow progress on the socks, as I had to stand on a crowded tube this morning rather than my normal hour of public bus knitting. In the rest of public knitting world, one Stacy seems to be suffering from the dreaded gage-issues, but the other Stacy's sock seems to be coming along fine. Laurie has some fantastic pictures of the olympic progress on her bag. Iolarah's doing a hat she's designed herself and I have her to thank for the news that the knit olympics have made it into Wikipedia.

Sarah, however, is my new favourite blog. She's posted a picture of her knitting in public. Moreover, she also has a photo of a pair of Socks that Rock Jaywalkers she knit "on 9 plane flights and in a total of 6 states" - wow! She's doing an alpaca tubey which looks lovely.

* incidentally, when I typed "everybody poos" into the amazon search engine I got a page saying it couldn't help, but would I like to search the keyword "boys" and look at Nintendo games.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


More public-knitting news in as much as the Dulwich knitting group were in a local magazine complete with feature on Cast Off and information about where you can download a pattern to knit a bakewell tart. They misquoted everyone, and of the load of photos she took they decided on a very unflattering one of unflattering yarns. I've spared you this pic in my shot above, you just get to see the knitted-tarts.

In other news, I have finished my Fairly Easy Fair Isle, hence that lovely green sleeve in the shot (beautifully bringing out the scab on my knuckle, don't you think?) but I'll post about that properly later in the week. Also in the photo is some progress on my first socks. However, this has now been seriously frogged due to a slight miscalculation on gage. Why is it I never trust patterns? Why?

This means I'm way behind Olympic schedule. So I either speed-knit (quite possible, but I don't want to rush these, they are gifts) or decide against the handicap of knitting in public (*wails* but I LIKED that idea) or re-challenge myself to only two pairs of socks. If the lack of parenthesis didn’t give it away already, I'm going for the last of those. And if on top of that, I finish my Pomatomus then all the better.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

And they're off... (team knitting-in-public edition)

So I started the Olympics a bit later than everyone else, but my flatmate and I took our knitting to a local cafe this morning and I cast on my first pair of socks.

I feel a bit like a self publicist with this knitting in public thing. There was a post on Live Journal punk_knitters recently saying how much fun it is to knit in public; the funny looks you get, the way you impress everyone. At first this really surprised me because the last thing I think about is the audience. It might sound odd, but I learnt to knit to give me something to do on the bus - so it just turns out that I do most of my knitting in public. Thinking about it though, it is kind of fun knowing people are watching you knit and wondering how it all works.

Anyway, from my daily click through knitting blogland there seem to be loads of people feeling they'll probably have to "go public" with their Olympic projects just to get it all done in time. We seem to have several sock knitters in the team, which makes sense as socks are such a portable project. Stacy, the "Empty Nest Knitter" from team Texas, is representing team dpn for her first socks. Lars, one of those lesser-spotted male-knitters, is another first sock-er. Good luck to them, once you've turned your first heel there's no going back.

One of the things that LiveJournal post picked up on was how its especially fun knitting on dpns because they look so very impressive to non-knitters. Personally I magic-loop, which I think looks so weird most people don't realise it's knitting. I was working some gloves on the tube once and these two ladies sat opposite me spent a good ten minutes arguing whether I was doing crochet (and yes, they pronounced the "t").

In the non sock public-knitting world, Kat (who's doing a grey Samus, from the looks of it) had picture of Olympic torch last time I checked her site, so obviously all go! Another Stacy is a challenging herself with button holes and a hood. And Lise, Yarn Mom of team Maryland (and team off the cuff, brave lady) is doing an amazing Where's Waldo sweater. I love stuff like that, my flatmate's doing the most georgous wonder woman jumper at the moment.

Friday, February 10, 2006

and they're off...


Obviously, I'm so excited. Taken from the Radio Times:

In 1984 it was Torvill and Dean; in Calgary it was dear old Eddie the Eagle; and four years ago it was that brilliant women's curling team from Ayrshire who made curling into a source of unlikely national pride as they brushed their way to a gold medal. Tonight sees the colourful opening ceremony; tomorrow the games begin in earnest.

Ok, so they're talking about the "sporting" winter olympics (I refuse to call it "real", the knitting olympics has more people taking part, after all), but my knitter's re-write was too, too geeky to paste up here.

I have been thinking though, and may have (brace yourself) a negative comment to make about the whole olympic experience. I remember round christmas I found myself looking ever so slightly grudgingly at my knitting bag. Only a bit, only a few times, and only round the very end of it all.

I was doing so many presents (my brother, mum and dad all have their birthdays running up to Xmas) it was starting to become more chore than hobby. I know I wasn't the only one; many bloggers and communities discussed "knitters block" or general burn-out during the first few weeks of January. Personally, I blamed the idea of knitting-to-deadline. You couldn't leave something and go and play with that new idea you've just had. Gift-klnitting was oodles of fun and everything, don't get me wrong, but ever so slightly constraining. I vowed I'd be kinder on my hobby next time and factor in more knitting "playtime" for myself.

So why are we doing it all again? Or is olympian knitting different from the gift bonanza of december? I think there is one key difference. For all that we're tagging on a sports event the knitting olympics are a slightly exclusive thing, something to share with our peculiar community of online fiber arts, working challengers and patterns that connect us to knitters and we knit for and celebrate knitting itself (as opposed to all the verity of other things that go on in December). Knitting Olympics as a festival of knitting? Maybe that's why its so popular.

But will we all suffer post olympic burn out? We shall see.

Right, 6pm it is then, off to turn on BBC2 and wait for the torch to be lit. Can't cast on though, I'm at home (and so not in public), damnit. Maybe I'll go sit on the front step. Or maybe I'll get on with my cardi. It might go against the sporting approach of single minded discipline (no pain no gain), but I'm keeping the right to choose.


Thursday, February 09, 2006


I admit it, I caved. I started another project. One of the socks I was planning for the olympics. And I did this terrible deed without first finishing the chunky cardi. In my defence, I had three days away from home with loads of sitting in buses and simply not enough space in my bag to carry a half knit chunky cardi.

However, I have more than enough "unassembled socks" around, so I've just promoted one of these to the place left by Pomatomus. Starting this sock early has helped me gage my sock knitting speed though, to think through the plausability of my Olympian plan. I guess it counts as "training". I've decided my "handicap" will be that I can only knit in public. Because this allows me to have a "home" project, I have the possibility of finishing the cardi soon, which is good because it's all coming together and feeling yummy and I want to wrap myself in it.

I'm loving the Pomatomus pattern, it is a bit of a challenge but not an confusing one, it has logic and rhythem to it once you get going. I'm not entirely convinced its the best pattern for my insistance to adapt every dpn project to magic-loop, but I'm hoping any of these issues will go with blocking. The Angel sockyarn is great to work with too - for all the issues we all may be having with Angel at the moment, they do good sock yarn. I'm using "pine" which looks a sort of teal at first, but shimmers with silvers, blues and even golds depending on the light. The colours look especially pretty on the gold and silver of my addi turbos. The fish-scale quality of the yarn was what made me put it with Pomatomus; when last Knitty came out that pattern immediately put me in mind of mermaids.

I also went to the knitting group at the British Library for the first time today, seeing as I was free from teaching for once. So nice! Lovely people, will definitely go again. Plus, Sir Roger Penrose sat behind me. He wasn't knitting, just sitting in the canteen, but I'm sure if he did knit it would be amazing.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Felt I was due a picture. This shows the colours and fair-isle design changes I've made to the SnB Nation cardigan. When not playing with this huge chunky wool, I've been round the other end of the ply's, swatching for my olympic socks. Think I'm sorted for that, but itching to start now. The cardi is the most unportable project ever and I'm finding it hard to fill my bus-time with reading.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

olympic poliferation

Welcome to team knitting in public. Anyone wanna join in?

EDIT: take the button if you want (or make your own) and I'll keep and eye on the blogs of anyone who comments to do a bit of "commentary" once the games commence.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I have VERY exciting news but it has to be a secret (a pattern of mine has been accepted somewhere...) so for now all I'll cheer about is that my second parcel to the lady I'm Secret Pal-ing was yet another success. I've made her next gift, which is a needle case, my first sewing machine project since childhood, compleated with a set of Lantern Moon 4mms, but I should hold off actually posting it for now.

Also, in her thank you email she said she was going for a job in science outreach - we have so much in common! I really hope I can meet her when I go to New York next year. Don't know if she'd want to meet me though, that's the odd thing about Secret Pal, you know loads about the person you are spoiling but the other side of the relationship is compleately anonymous. Its like when you look out of windows at night (when one side is a window and the other has turned into a mirror by unequal lighting).

Been playing with my fairy-easy faire isle and chosen the yarn, going for a pale blue to match the "forrest green" as the MC, which is making the whole thing look quite minty. I'm still deciding whether to use the fair isle pattern in SnB Nation, or use one based on the lovely books my Secret Pal sent me. Mmm... its such a chunky gage, don't think it could take anything too complex.

Oh and darn it, where's the new AntiCraft I had it in my diary and everthing.