Monthly Archives: March 2009

spring cleaning and spring greens

It’s all about clearing decks, cleaning slates and fresh starts here at the moment, in knitting and in our home.

First of all, congratulations to Bells who who has won the Om Shanti bedsocks. I ran this random number generator thingie to find a winner, and her comment came up. It’s good to know they are going to a good home!

On the home front, we have been having our bathroom renovated. It will have taken six weeks to do, but should be pretty much done by the end of the week. I’ll share some before and after pics once it’s finally done and the blinds are in. But the way it has affected the rest of our house has been truly astonishing. Dust, laundry and boxes full of tiles, bathroom furniture  and towel rails have overwhelmed almost everywhere. So this weekend we will be spring cleaning, and celebrating taking ownership of our home again.

Similarly, on the knitting front, I’ve had a strong urge recently to clear the decks, and get all of my works in progress off the needles. If you look at the sidebar up a bit and on the left, you’ll see that my only remaining unfinished project is the Hemlock Ring Blanket. My Anemoi mittens are finished and just waiting for an available photographer.

It’s not that I’m burning to start anything else – let’s face it, if I wanted to, I would have, however many projects were already ongoing! No, it’s more a desire for a clean slate and a fresh start. I have been enjoying not planning ahead for once. And I have found it interesting how, through not trying to plan, several ideas have bubbled up into my imagination.

I love Jared Flood’s Alberta vest. And, to my surprise, Steve loves it too. I would love to make this for him, I think it would really suit him (and as a bonus would have no arms to knit). But I think it will have to wait until I can find some suitable yarn – I don’t think it would be quite the same without one of the yarns being variegated, and I’m not sure where I would get that from at the moment.

I’ve also been thinking about the green Grannie Smith cardigan that I almost finished last year (pictured above). It has many elements that I love: the colour, the lace pattern, the Kid Silk Haze from which it is made, its sheer girly prettiness. I made a mistake, however, in choosing this pattern, as it just does not suit my shape. Well, I have got some ideas for how I could modify it without having to start from scratch again. I need a bit of time to play with the ideas, but it would be great if they work out, it would feel like getting a ‘free’ cardigan!

I would also like to have a handknit cardigan to wear while I do yoga. This one (Ravelry link) is kind of what I’m imagining (maybe not with the matching legwarmers though…). I’m thinking of using the green yarn in the photo above, which is Rowan Summer Tweed,  made from  70% silk and 30% cotton.

And then I’d like a small project for train knitting, socks would be good. And some more lace – another shawl maybe? And a beret to match my Laminaria shawl would be nice. And now I really have to stop before my head explodes!

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good friends, good food, good times (and some photos)

We spent the afternoon and evening today with our lovely friends Kersti and James  today. This involved  spending the afternoon hanging out in the kitchen chatting, laughing, drinking tea and watching Steve cook; and the evening chatting, laughing, drinking wine and eating Steve’s amazing meal (he truly is the king of the English roast dinner!). It was about as good as Sunday can get.

Kersti kindly agreed to let me use photos of her to illustrate my almost-ready Druidess beret pattern. The pattern is being test knitted as I write by some generous knitters from the Testing Pool on Ravelry, after which it will be available on my blog and as a Ravelry download.

I think I am going to use quite de-saturated images, like the one below, on the pattern. I like how subtle the colours are, and how the picture looks rather as though it has faded with time.

But I love the photo below just as it is.

Kersti is my running inspiration –  she is taking part in the Bath half marathon next weekend, and ran for 2 1/2 hours this morning before coming over. She started from scratch last year and it has been wonderful to see what a positive effect it has on her. I’m not quite (ha ha – for this read ‘anything-remotely-approaching-anywhere-near’) her level – yesterday I ran for 28 minutes , with a couple of short walks in the middle – my best so far. But her support and enthusiasm have been key in helping me believe that I really can do this previously unimaginable thing. I’m very lucky to have her as my friend.

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fancy some socks?

I finished my Om Shanti bedsocks and, if I say so myself, very pretty they are too!

Pattern: Om Shanti Bedsocks, by Alice Wu (Ravelry link)

Yarn: Chameleon Colorworks Evolution, with Rowan 4 Ply Soft as the contrast.

Needles: 2.25mm

Modifications: I used a contrast colour for the heels, toes and ribbing. Instead of the tubular ribbing and cast off called for in the pattern, I did a 1×1 rib followed by a picot edge cast off. I am really pleased with these modifications. I think that using a plain contrast colour sharpens up the variegated yarn. I like how the picot edge adds another element of prettiness to the socks.

There is, however, a  problem with these socks, to which the fact that they are not being modelled by me is not unrelated. Yup, these socks won’t go over my heels.

From the corner of my heel to the front of my ankle measures 12 1/2″. Due to the addition of the more stretchy white yarn, this part of the sock is not the issue. No, the issue is the leg of the sock, which stretches to just 12″. You see the problem.

So, I have decided to give these socks away. If you would like them, just leave a comment below.  I will pick a comment using a random number generator thingy on the 12th of March. They don’t have to be for you, maybe you’ve got someone else with small heels who might like them! The length, by the way, is 9″ from toe to heel.

They’re just too pretty to languish in my sock drawer!

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a comparison of cast ons

I started the second of my Anemoi mittens last week. Unfortunately I had failed to make any notes on the pattern, which meant that I had totally forgotten which cast on I had used. This mattered, as the cast on edge is particularly decorative, with an attractive corded edge.

I ended up going through Montse Stanley’s Knitter’s Handbook trying out method after method before re-discovering which one I had used. Incidentally, if  you don’t have this book, I can highly recommend it, if only for the thirty pages of cast on and cast off methods illustrated there.

However, if you don’t have this book, there are some really excellent online tutorials available.

I thought it might be useful to compare a few methods of tubular cast ons, and to include links to some of these tutorials. So, here goes!

Note: As Rose Red quite rightly pointed out in her comment, these samples do look pretty similar. So I have highlighted the ways in which they are different from each other, which is easier to see and feel in person.

1. Italian Tubular Cast On

This is in fact the method that I used for my mittens. It gives the corded edge you can see in the photo above, which is decorative but quite noticable. If you prefer a more unobtrusive cast on, this one might not be the best one to use.

There is a tutorial for this method on Fluffbuff’s website.

Here’s how the edge looks:

2. Long Tail Cast On

I have used this method a number of times. It produces an edge that is very stretchy, and fits in well with 1×1 ribbing. In doing this comparison I have realised that the edging is less neat than the Stocking Stitch method below. It is quicker though, and its stretchiness would make it ideal for socks.

There is a tutorial for this method on Ysolda’s website, and she also demonstrates how to modify the method for 2×2 ribbing.

Here’s how the edge looks:

3. Stocking Stitch Tubular Cast On

This cast on definitely results in the neatest edge of all the methods compared here, but it also takes the longest time to make. It also requires the use of waste yarn. It is slightly firmer than the Long Tail method, and I think it would look really good on the ribbing on a sweater.

There is a tutorial for this method on My Fashionable Life’s website.

Here’s how the edge looks:

4. Alternate Cable Cast On

This one is a bit of a cheat; it is not actually a tubular cast on, but it produces a similar effect. It is quicker to make than all of the other methods here, so would be a good one to go for if you want to save time.

There is a tutorial for this method on (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Here’s how the edge looks:

I hope that was helpful!

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