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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Texere, Coldspring & Bobbins

What a lovely few days away! I'll tell you all about it but, first, I want to show you River (which I blocked on my return). Here she is draped over a chair. I was a bit over-cautious with the blocking in that I was afraid to pull the edging too much so it probably doesn't look quite right. I also took the instructions literally and measured exactly six centimetres between the positions where I pinned. I want to knit another because I'd like to block the edging differently and don't really want to go through the process again with this one. I've decided that my interpretation of the blocking instructions for River (or my interpretation of how River should be blocked depending on how you look at it) is that the edging should flow in the same way as the ripples in the lace pattern itself. So, the edging should be pulled to a shape that is slightly more rounded than a point and in the same positions as in the pattern itself. In other words, my next River will have the edging blocked in a way that will follow the line of the ripples in River! Hmm ..... what do you think?

Here's another photo of River showing the full extent of her ripples!

The cast off method I used for River also didn't work very well because that edge turned out tighter than the lace cast on edge that I did. Since that time, I've been looking at the folder I've kept of UKHK members' posts regarding various methods of casting off and decided that the Icelandic method is probably a good candidate for next time. Don't you just love doing things not quite right; the best lessons are learned this way!

As regards the beaded knot, think hybrid of doughnut and spotted dick. It's something and nothing. After having spent time and effort blocking River, I can't imagine wanting to stuff it into this ring but each to their own!

I seem to have obtained three more balls of KSH in the same colourway which I will use to make Birch. More lace knitting and blocking practice! Must get better at blocking!

Anyway, I promised to tell you about our few days away. First stop was Morley near Leeds where we stayed at the Old Vicarage Hotel. From here we visited Texere and Coldspring. I didn't buy anything at Coldspring because there was nothing of interest to me at the time of our visit but at Texere I bought 14 balls of Alpaca Select to make a jumper for DH. This is 100% alpaca and luxuriously soft!

I also bought 20 balls of aran weight recycled cashmere and lambswool at only 90p a ball!

After a few days at the Old Vicarage, we left for Darlington where we stayed at the Ballantyne Hotel which we used as our base to visit family in Whitby and Durham. On Friday evening we had a family reunion dinner at Trencher's restaurant in Whitby. This restaurant is so popular that there are always people queueing at the door waiting for a table and, by the end of the meal, we all understood why. The food was delicious and the service impeccable. Despite our tight schedule, whilst in Whitby, I managed to fit in a visit to Bobbins. I wished that I'd taken my camera with me because Church Street where it's situated has tons of atmosphere - think cobbles, street musicians and fascinating shops - and Bobbins itself was wonderful. I could have stayed there for hours just browsing but I didn't have long because of our schedule. I bought a kit for a scalloped lacy throw in various Colinette Yarns shown below.

I was also thinking of buying one of the Whitby Guernsey Kits (again, for DH) but wanted his opinion first and he was unable to join me due to difficulty finding a parking space. There was some sort of music festival going on and there were Morris Dancers in the streets, etc, and parking was very difficult to find.

On our way home, we stopped off at Knaresborough. This is a place that I have often passed on my way up north and always wanted to visit but never quite got around to it. This time we determined to stop there and I especially wanted to see Old Mother Shipton's Cave and the Petrifying Well.

Reaching the well and cave involves a walk along the banks of the River Nidd which is very pleasant and we passed Castle Mill and Weir. Here are a couple of photos to show just what an idyllic spot this is.

The Petrifying Well, pictured below, was the subject of much superstition in bygone days because it was felt that anyone who went near it would be turned to stone! The well is fed by a natural lake about one mile underground that is so rich in minerals that any object that comes into contact with this water will, over a period of time, develop a mineral coating on its surface, hence the well's name!

The above photo shows objects hung at the well so that they are in constant contact with the water. The objects include teddies and Agatha Christie's handbag! The bears take around three months before they are sufficiently coated to be classed as petrified teddy bears and guess who has one on order?

A bit further on from the Petrifying Well is Mother Shipton's Cave in which her mother gave birth to her in 1488. At the time, her mother was 15 years of age, pregnant out of wedlock, and in danger of being driven from the village because she refused to tell anyone, even the local magistrate, who was the father of the child. She sought refuge in the cave because everything she needed - water, shelter, and solitude - were available there. She was not likely to be disturbed because the locals were so fearful of the place, they wouldn't go anywhere near it. Here's a photo of the inside of the cave which, as you can see, now contains a monument to Mother Shipton.

Mother Shipton went on to make many Nostradamus-like prophesies and, like Nostradamus, she was eventually proved to be very accurate in her predictions! I find the whole story and the place itself fascinating. On the walk back, I stopped at the Wishing Well. It is said that if a person immerses their hand into the Wishing Well whilst making a wish and then lets that hand dry naturally, the wish will come true as long as they don't tell anyone what they wished for until after it's been granted. Needless to say, I did dip my hand into the well and I did make a wish but I'm saying nothing more on that at the moment! Afterwards, we repaired to the nearby Yorkshire Lass pub for some solid and liquid sustenance before heading back south for home.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Here is River completed (as in knitted). It hasn't yet been blocked and there is still the beaded knot to knit.

I have never knitted anything quite as fine and delicate as this before so will have to read up to try to ascertain whether or not it should be blocked in any particular way. This was literally like knitting with gossamer. Is this similar to what is referred to as cobweb lace? Then again, this is all relative. Imagine how fine the Wedding Ring Shawl must be. I have read that it's name derives from the fact that it is so fine that it can be passed through a wedding ring!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Dune's the Pits and River Rules, Okay!

Since I last posted, I've added an icon photo to my blog. This is Knitbear. If you click on the photo to enlarge, you'll see that Knitbear is actually a bear sitting in an armchair clicking away with the old pointy sticks! Knitbear lives just outside my kitchen door next to my kitchen herbs and opposite Reclining Bear. Knitbear is also in the Bears' Gallery which is now open if you fancy a browse! I've also added a link to Knitspeak under Knitters' Terminology in the sidebar. I'm still looking for definitions for knitchick, knitflicks and eXtreme Knitting. Please make any comments on the Knitspeak blog where they will be most welcome!

As regards actual knitting, well, I thought I should carry on with my good intentions and finish UFOs as well as start USOs to use up some of my stash. The first USO (which, in all honesty, has alternated between USO and UFO status due to being frogged on several occasions) is something knitted in Sirdar Dune - actually a poncho! There I said it! That unutterable word PONCHO! I just don't do ponchos! However, Dune (which, in my opinion, is an acronym for Disgusting, Unreasonable, Naff (Embodiment of) looked interesting enough in C&H Fabrics for me to buy it. Momentary lapse of sanity? (Sincerest apologies to all those good people who think Dune is wonder yarn). Something different I thought. Never mind it's 100% nylon, it'll be interesting to see how something like this will knit up. I bought a pattern for a top and came home and started to knit it. Sanity returned with the thought that wearing a top knitted with this yarn would be like wearing a plastic bag in that the nylon wouldn't allow my skin to breathe. This led to panicked thoughts as I considered my hormonally compromised status and imagined myself flushing and dripping with perspiration wearing this bright pink (coral) wonder! Suffice to say that, since that time, it became a wrap and now a poncho - not a long poncho - but a short one which is less evil. I describe this yarn as unreasonable because, if by misfortune a loop is dropped, there is no way on this earth you will ever find that loop again. It just somehow vanishes into another dimension or disappears into a black hole or something never to be seen again!

Anyway, here's a picture of one side of the poncho knitted up and don't let me hear you gasp with horror!

All I need to do now is to make another identical bit, sew up the shoulders leaving an opening for the neckline and add a fringe all around the bottom. Then I'll decide whether to consign it to the bin like Knitty Fred did with the Dune poncho he knitted or to actually wear it!

Moving on to something much nicer, I now have the beads for the Patagonian Night Sky Scarf but seem to be suffering from displacement behaviour in that I find all sorts of excuses and other things to do in order to avoid actually commencing work upon it. I eventually realised that, deep within my sub-conscious, I am probably afraid that I'll ruin that horrendously expensive but beautiful cashmina yarn by my lack of experience in the beaded knitting department. Tips in books come to mind such as, don't put too many beads on the yarn at any one time as the yarn may become frayed and avoid too much friction between yarn and beads as this may cause damage to yarn, etc, etc. This was what led me (and this is my excuse and I'm sticking to it) to buy some Kid Silk Haze in the colourway, Dewberry, in order that I might start a more modest beaded knitting project as practice. The Kid Silk Haze along with the beads are shown in the photo below.

And what did I plan to make with the Kid Silk Haze? Why, River, of course, from Rowan 38! Only the knot has beads knitted into it! The state of play is that I'm almost half way through now. The photo below doesn't do it justice as the camera flash came on automatically due to the rainy, dark weather and so the colour is all wrong but, anyway, here she is .....

..... and the beaded knitting may be easier than I thought thanks to this link which Tracy provided. Apparently, it's possible to do beaded knitting without having to arduously thread all of those beads onto the yarn first. This is done by using a very fine crochet hook. Ingenious!

Quite a few people were commenting that the stitch detail of River was not very clear in the photo in Rowan 38 so I include a close up below for those who may be interested. This photo and the photo showing the yarn pictured with the beads both depict good likenesses to the Dewberry shade of the Kid Silk Haze as in reality.

The pattern itself isn't that difficult and, if a mistake is made, it's easy to spot early on so I haven't bothered with lifelines. However, one caution. For those who haven't used Kid Silk Haze already, you should know it's a nightmare to frog because the combination of mohair and silk along with the extreme fineness of this yarn means it clings to itself and knots very easily. I found that tinking (stitch by stitch) was the best way to go back when I did make a mistake. The large diameter needles with such fine yarn also took a bit of getting used to but the effect is well worth it. It looks so delicate and gossamer-like as to be almost ethereal. After all those boring baby blankies, in the words of the dreaded Ronald MacDonald "I'm loving it!"

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Chocolates? Maltesers .....Cashmina

Above is a close up of the Cashmina for the Patagonian Night Sky Scarf. As you can see, there is no doubt that, despite comments from friends, relatives, etc, the content of the baskets in yesterday's photo was most definitely not chocolates. This photo does the Cashmina more justice and anyway I needed an excuse to have another play with our new camera. The Maltesers that are also the subject of this snap are my reward for taking the photo.

Below is another Preemie baby blanket I've finished. I need a break from these as they're becoming a bit boring.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Went to John Lewis at Bluewater on Saturday to pick up the Cashmina only to find that, despite the fact that I'd been assured that it was all the same dye lot, it wasn't. So, instead of noir, I've ended up with a charcoal grey. In actual fact, the shade's called flannel but I prefer to think of it as charcoal grey as I don't like the thought of my (hopefully soon to be) beautiful 80% cashmere beaded Patagonian Night Sky Scarf being likened to some old cloth that you wipe your face with! They didn't have the beads I needed for the scarf so I still have to get those but here's a picture of the Cashmina (no, it's not a box of chocolates) along with the baskets that I bought also from John Lewis.

Why the baskets? Well, since it's become a health and safety hazard to attempt to sit on almost any chair here without the risk of having something sharp firmly planted into the tender skin of your butt, I decided I'd be all organised and find a basket or other suitable container big enough to hold all WIPs. The large basket therefore is destined to become a receptacle for WIPs. I'll line it with some lace edged gingham or other material so that the knitting doesn't get snagged. I was going to order a basket that was already lined with a washable cotton lining from Tchibo for only £9.99 but these caught my eye and I'm sure, at a push, I'll be able to fill the other two up with something or other.

Anyway, since I bought the baskets, I've actually been very self-disciplined and made FOs out of some of my numerous UFOs. First was Foxy shown below.

And, with some of the yarn I had left over, I even made a funky mobile phone cover. Voila!

What do you think of the button? Not exactly Swarovski crystal but not bad, huh?

On Wednesday evening we went over to Angela's to make the scarf and Foxy delivery and Foxy gilet along with Foxy phone cover was modelled by the demure Jeanette .....

..... and the rather less coy Louise

Meanwhile, younger brother, Jonathan, who has just had his thirteenth birthday made a study of nonchalance as he tapped away at his computer keyboard and pointedly ignored all of this female frivolity!

Moving on, I also finished the baby shawl that just needed the edging sewn on. Here it is.

The pattern reference for this shawl is Peter Pan P759 but I substituted the Peter Pan yarn with Sirdar Snuggly 4 ply in the Sand colourway, shade no 376.

And, here's the best news - we (being myself and DH, Chris) have booked up for spinning tuition in September! Spinning sounds as if it's "just up my street". Apparently, I'm told there's a very "holistic" aspect of spinning in that you have to listen to your heartbeat in order to set the rhythm of your spinning and it's very relaxing. So, now when I'm not doing my KnitYoga, I can do my SpinYoga! Really looking forward to learning to spin!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Patagonian Night Sky and Hearts and Roses

It's been a very busy week so I haven't done much in the way of knitting. The Foxy Gilet is finished but still needs sewing up. Sewing up and finishing off seem to be things I avoid like the plague and I've noticed that others seem to have the same problem. Perverse when you think about it because it's assumed that the purpose of knitting is to achieve the finished object. I'm wondering, however, at least with myself, if what I get out of knitting is in the knitting itself and the finished result is secondary? I do enjoy my KnitYoga!

The one thing I did knit this week (in one evening) was a babies' wool soaker from the free pattern provided by Clair Coult available at The Knitting Room. I had two 50g balls of Jaeger Matchmaker Merino DK - one in a dark pinkish colour (trellis) and one in cream - that I've had for ages so I thought that making the wool soaker would be a good way of using it up. It was also something not too demanding that I thought I could do fairly quickly whilst trying to do something different with it. I decided that the background should be in cream and that I would do knitted roses on the leg cuffs and a strip of heart stitch pattern in pink. The roses were done by knotted tube stitch. I'm not sure what to think of the finished result or even if it will ever serve any practical purpose but it was good fun doing the roses and the heart stitch pattern! Here's a photo of the soaker modelled by Tilly. Very girly isn't it! Well, it had to be with only pink and cream at my disposal.

I call it the hearts and roses soaker. Here's a close up showing the heart stitch pattern.

It took roughly 75g of the Jaeger merino so it's possible that two soakers could be knitted with three 50g balls. I was considering the economics of knitting them to sell on Ebay (a bit plainer than the one above) but decided it really wasn't for me. As the pattern required it, I also learned how to do mattress stitch by watching a Knitting Help video.

At the weekend, I plan to sew up Foxy and the baby shawl. I'm also half way through both a baby blanket and a Rowan Summer Tweed top (not to mention Bob's jumper).

Here is a future project I'm planning, mainly because I want to learn to knit with beads.

It's Lily Chin's Patagonian Night Sky Scarf. Here it's knitted in Lurex Shimmer but I wanted something a bit more special so I've managed to source some Jaeger Cashmina (80% Cashmere and 20% extra fine merino) in noir - unashamed luxury!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Catching Up

Now that the new camera has been somewhat sussed, I can post some photos of the things I've been knitting, etc. I like to have about six or seven WIPs on the go at any one time. This way I can chop and change a bit and don't get bored. First off, is Toledo from Rowan 37.

And here's a close up view showing the Linen Print threaded through the eyelets.

This is Marshmallow from June Knitting magazine slightly modified because I didn't like the neckline when I'd finished knitting it. The neckline seemed really big and baggy and, when I looked at Marshmallow worn by the model in Knitting magazine, I think there may have actually been a problem with the neckline in that one too because, in one of the pictures, I swear it looks as if its been pinned to make it look better. Anyway, I thought rather than show everyone what I have in the way of bazooms every time I bent over when wearing it, I would frog the neckline and change it to more of a crew neck with baby cables and a picot edge. I still hate it, regardless, and will never wear it.

Next, a baby blanket.

I've been making these for the Preemie Unit. They are just the right size for the little cots (24 inches by 24 inches). I avoid making teeny tiny jackets, hats, bootees, etc, for the premature babies simply because I loathe the amount of sewing involved in ratio to the amount of knitting with such miniscule things. However, that is all due to change and why? Because (fanfare of trumpets in the background), I have, at last, discovered Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise jacket (thanks to Jan)! Knitted all in one piece, it looks somewhat like an octopus until put together in a more recognisable shape - but, hey, hardly any sewing and it looks so cute!! The small bears pictured here also leave Hawkley Lodge to go to the Preemie Unit (one bear with each blanket).

And here we have two scarves - one from the last issue of Vogue Knitting (Lacy Leaf Scarf) and the other a free pattern for an arches and columns lace scarf that I found online. I made the arches and columns scarf with Jaeger Matchmaker 4 ply Merino and Kid Silk Haze knitted together. It's lovely and soft. The bag is knitted in Funky Fur Magic.

The Lacy Leaf scarf is a present for Angela as she was so very, very kind to me a while ago. Below is the kitsch bag that the scarf will be presented in and also the accompanying card. No doubt, it will be noticed that the colour of the bag clashes terribly with that of the scarf.

Another baby blankie on the needles!

The piece de resistance! Colinette Giotto in Earth along with a couple more of the goodies I've acquired recently. I don't know what I'm going to make with the Giotto yet but, at the mo, I'm enjoying just admiring the colours from time to time. The Giotto I bought on my recent trip to Loop. The small rolls in the photo are very fine thread with beads on which can be knitted in with other yarns. There are three with white thread and one with black. Obviously, the white is to be knitted with lighter coloured yarns and the black with darker ones. Both are strung with white beads. I got these from the sale at Designs along with the teddy bear buttons (40 percent off everything). A real bargain I'd say.

Now it's time to hang my head in shame and look suitably mollified 'cos the sleeve below has been at the same stage of completion (or lack of) since April.

This is part of a jumper for Bob and the pattern's Jagger (intarsia argyle style sweater from Jaeger Handknits book). It's in Jaeger Matchmaker merino 4 ply and was Bob's choice. Why did he have to pick this one out of all the b----dy patterns in the shop! Here is what it looks like from the back.

I'm dreading having to sew all of those ends in when it finally does get finished! I've explained to Bob that this sort of knitting is "winter knitting" and I need the time at the moment to make lots of summer things.

Below is a baby shawl, again, for Preemie Unit. Okay, it's a bit more than 24 inches by 24 inches but I bet it won't go to waste. The edging which, when I was knitting it, seemed to go on for an eternity, now just needs sewing on and gathering at the corners and a ribbon bow added to each corner.

And, also on the needles, is the almost complete front of Ginger from Rowan's Summer Tweed Collection.

Not strictly to do with knitting but nice eye candy and the incense sticks in the pretty organza bags are supposed to be great moth repellants so will help to protect my worryingly organic (as in growing!!) yarn stash.

The bag (which I think is very hippy chic) was reduced to £10 in the Wallis sale and the incense sticks were only £1 a bag or refill when our local Army & Navy had their closing down sale before re-opening in a brand new building as the big new posh House of Fraser.

Believe it or not, the image in the photo on the right is actually of the back and the right front of Simply Knitting's Foxy Gilet. Hopefully, when the left front is finished (it's now on the needles) and the collar's added and the whole thing is sewn up, it will become recognisable as such and Angela's daughter, Jeanette, who is to be the proud owner of said gilet will, in her abundant appreciation, forever laud me as the Goddess of Knitting.

Finally, here is Fondant from June Knitting magazine. My first effort at knitting in the round and an opportunity to try out the Denise needles I had just acquired. Also, in the photo, is the crocheted evening bag, Ultra Violet, from July's Knitting magazine. Both were done in Sirdar Breeze in Wisteria. I have not yet been able to find a toggle to match the colour of the evening bag which explains why it doesn't have one! And that, maties, is me for the day and I must now get back to my work "proper".