Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hanging Garden update

Yesterday my friend S hit the big four-oh. The celebrations kicked off with a long lunch with friends, then S and I retired to a very nice pub in Hammersmith, where we lounged on sofas, drank champagne, [I knitted some sock,] and set out our goals for 2008, before rounding off the evening with a visit to the cinema to see Charlie Wilson's War. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day.

I didn't finish S's birthday stole in time . In fact, due to staying late at work this week, I've only managed a couple of rows in the evening before falling asleep. However, several hours relaxing in front of the telly today allowed for much knitting, and what you see here are three pattern repeats. [The flash has completely drained the yarn's beautiful colour, so a closer representation is below.] My new deadline is the first week of February, which is when S and I are due to meet next, so clearly I need to move it up a gear.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

A new year

What an amazing turn-out at I Knit's New Year knit-in this week. We were a massive group of knitters at the Royal Festival Hall, which is just a fab venue, stylish, open and spacious with lots of light. I think it might become a regular haunt.

It really was nice to see so many knitters and quite a few new faces. I hope they all enjoyed the evening and come again. As ever, it was great to catch up with the usual suspects, everyone was on good form, and Melissa and I continue to compete against each other to be the slowest to finish their travelling sock.

I irritated everyone that evening with a ferocious cough. On Boxing Day, I had returned to London late in the evening, feeling unwell, and the next day I was in bed with 'flu. I was completely wiped out for the next few days, but I thought I was well enough to go back to work on the 2nd. In fact, just one day in the office and the knit-in was enough to send me back to bed again for the rest of the week.

So, despite spending the best part of a fortnight at home, there has been precious little knitting. At some point I managed another repeat on the Flower Basket Shawl, but for the most part I have had no energy or desire to pick up the needles.

This is an evening's work on the Hanging Garden Stole, in mahogany JaggerSpun Zephyr. Last week, I decided I wanted to knit a shawl for a friend's birthday present (the big four-oh). Unfortunately, I've left it too late and even with the usual excellent service provided by the Woolly Workshop [yarn ordered and delivered in four days, including a bank holiday], there is no way I am going to meet the deadline next week. Still, time pressures apart, I'm very much enjoying this project; the pattern is beautifully structured and you don't have to knit far before you see stunning results. The border is simple garter stitch which is knit together with the body, so there are no worries about running out of yarn. Speaking of which, the Zephyr suits this pattern and construction perfectly, and although you can't tell from the picture, the gauge and drape feel just right to me.

Apart from being ill, it's been a wonderful break. But it's back to work tomorrow, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, back to stress and pressure and deadlines and demands. But I am full of good resolve and positive thoughts for the year ahead. Happy new year to everyone, and all the best for a peaceful and happy 2008.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Winding down

Had a marvellous time last week at the IKL Christmas party, with much party food, music and wine. I arrived as the party was in full swing, just in time for the secret santa hand-out, and although I shamefully failed to bring a present, I was the lucky recipient of The Friday Night Knitting Club, which I can honestly say I have been wanting to read for some time. Best of all, so many people turned up, including some faces I hadn't seen for a while [hello to Jenni and Ester /wave], and it was great to catch up with every one. I still can't believe how many people managed to fit into that shop.

There has been a lot of other seasonal partying recently, but really for the past month or so, work has been ridiculously busy and stressful [and surprisingly rewarding]. With only one working day left, the IKL party was the start of my winding-down [heh, geddit?], and after everyone had gone, I stayed late, late into the early hours of the morning chatting with Gerard and Craig [sorry boys for keeping you up!].

So much has happened since I last posted; the UK Stitch n Bitch day, Melissa's birthday, Lynsey's career move to LYS sales assistant, Jenni's physical move out of London, a month-long visit from my cat, a fantastic Crowded House in concert and all the other little personal highs and lows............. that I just do not have time to write about. But I can show you some knitting! [Apologies for the photos, lighting has been poor of late.]

First WIP is the Endpaper Mitts in Rowan 4ply Soft. I really love this purple and green combination, but I don't think it works here, as the colours just seem to blend into each other.

I knit the first two thirds of this mitt holding each colour in a different hand, but I didn't like the result; it isn't that clear in the photo, but there is a bit of puckering which I hope will disappear after blocking. I am now using the one hand to switch between each yarn, and although more fiddly, it definitely produces a neater result [although arguably the colours do not "pop out" as much, but that's another story].

Almost an FO: just the grafting to do on a pair of socks in LL Shepherd Sock in the Jungle Stripe colourway. This picture was taken in the glow of a side lamp, so the colours aren't true, the green is actually more grass or pea than olive. I love the thicker stripes on the heel. Wish they were like that all over.

Finally, another WIP, the Flower Basket Shawl in Posh Yarn Eva. I love, love, love this yarn, 50% cashmere, 50% silk, and feels like butter.

The pattern itself is so pretty, but so simple, and I flew through the pattern as specified in three days. However, it is clear from the various beautiful examples on Ravelry, that the specs are for a small shoulder shawl. The photo here shows the shawl with an extra repeat [but without the edging], and even in its unblocked state, is still too small. I have loads of Eva left, so I shall just continue until it feels right.

Again, the colour in the above photo isn't quite right, so here's an earlier picture taken in what passes for daylight these days, and below another showing one skein of the Eva wound up. Yes, I know this isn't a particularly interesting photo, but this was my first attempt at using my new ball winder bought from IKL a few weeks ago, and as such, is an exciting and momentous event which should be recorded appropriately.

The festivities start today with Christmas Eve lunch with friends, then I'm off to the Kentish coast to spend Christmas with the family and cat. To keep me sane, I have packed a couple of UFOs and will hopefully have something to show at the end of it. In the meantime, I wish you a very joyous and peaceful Christmas. Season's greetings to one and all.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ally Pally and purnkple yarn

I know. It's been a while.

It's not that I haven't been knitting these past couple of months - I have. But I just don't seem to have anything to show for it. With just one short side of the border left to do, the Melon scarf sits in hibernation, while indecision continues to paralyse me. In the meantime I've started a new lace project, the Myrtle Leaf shawl, using Jaggerspun Zephyr in a deep plum, but there isn't much point showing you that either, since I'm switching to a cashmere, so that's effectively just a big swatch then!

Thank you for all the nice comments about the Print o' the Wave. I absolutely love this stole and have worn her a lot in my overly air-conditioned office. In fact, another reason for not blogging has been because I haven't really finished the last post, and won't do so until I've put up the specs and a final picture of the stole in all her unblocked glory. However, this may not happen for a couple of weeks yet, so I've decided to move on for now, and when I finally post a picture, I'll link it for those of you who want to see it.

While I may not have any knitting to show you, I do have plenty of yarn. First, the latest instalment of Sundara's Petals Collection, a skein of merino in Poppy, a rich burgundy, together with a sock pattern and another pretty card.

Then there is some more Zephyr, intended for the Myrtle Leaf, but now consigned to stash.

A few weeks ago, I scoured the internet looking for pink and green sock yarn, and found two that seemed to fit the bill. First, this Bluefaced Leicester from Fyberspates in the

colourway Flower Garden, which is green, purple and pink, even prettier in real life, and is now being knit into a pair of Dublin Bay socks [pdf].

By contrast, I was very disappointed by the Socks That Rock's Socktopus colourway. At the top of this picture, you can see quite a lot of brown [taupe?], not to my liking. Having said that, looking again at BMFA's website, their colours in the image are completely true. Mea culpa, it was clearly wishful thinking that led me to hope the brown was more salmon pink. Still, it's STR, right? Gotta be grateful to get my hands on the stuff.

I'm late in blogging about this year's Ally Pally, but clearly some mention must be made! First up, my purchases:

Naturally, I had to visit the Fyberspates stand, and of course, I picked up another skein of pink and green. This is in fact a different colourway; there are just the two colours and they are both richer than the first skein. I really do think Jenny has an eye for colour; there was a skein of cashmere [I think?] in a beautiful, deep wine colour, and I am simply kicking myself for not buying it.

From Get Knitted some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Jungle Stripe. I've been after this colourway for some time, but it's always been out of stock on the GK website, so naturally I pounced on it as soon as I saw it.

[Ok, that's enough of the green and pirnkple yarn. Mission accomplished, I think.]

Other purchases were the Knit Picks Options set [hee] also from GK, a shade card from Jamiesons's, DB's Baby Cashmerino 2 and a charming baby jumper pattern from Laughing Hens.

We also visited some new stands - or new to me at least. Blogless Lynsey was particularly taken by the qiviut [click and scroll down for the fantastic story of the arctic musk ox], but couldn't decide on a project for it. She did buy some laceweight from the House of Hemp and a gorgeous wine coloured skein from the Natural Dye Studio [I have to say, NDS was a real find, I absolutely loved all her colours so it's wonderful that they are soon to be made available at I Knit London].

Lynsey and I hit the show around lunchtime, walked up and down all the aisles, visited many stalls (some of them three times), saw some of the Knit a River project and signed our support to end water poverty, made happy purchases and collected even more cards and leaflets. Luckily, I'm interested in a number of different crafts, so the question of whether there was more or less yarn this year than previously doesn't really bother me, and I found much at Ally Pally to inspire me to pick up old-forgotten crafts or try new ones. There were also many beautiful pieces in the exhibition and elsewhere for sale. We finally ended up in the Palm Court, drinking pink champage and watching Breakfast at Tiffany's [love that orange cat] and Roman Holiday [bizarrely, Lynsey was wearing Audrey Hepburn socks. Seriously.] until Gerard joined us. After more champagne, we met up with Craig in Vauxhall, and had dinner at Pico's, a lively and clearly popular Portuguese restaurant. It was a thoroughly fantastic day spent with lovely people.

Finally, in case you were wondering what the pretty case at the very top was: I have a weakness for small boxes and containers and the like, and simply couldn't resist this totally unecessary and utterly charming Cath Kidson sewing kit.

OK, that's enough for now, this post is wordy enough. If you've made it to the end, thank you. Next time I post, I'll hopefully have some knitting to show!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Don't you just love bank holiday weekends? It's been a week of late nights for me, and much as I enjoy going out, it's been glorious to spend three days relaxing at home.

Sorry for not pinning the shawl out for these photos, but the light was a bit hit-and-miss today, and I had to grab the opportunity as soon as it presented itself!

So this is where I am with the melon shawl from VLT. After several days ignoring it, hoping it would miraculously grow in width and length, I took my head out of the sand, made some basic yardage calculations, added a few more repeats to the centre panel, and then - gulp - cut the yarn and started on the border.

But the combination of garter stitch and sea silk was too clumsy, so after only a few repeats I ripped the border out, and replaced it with the smaller Vandyke edging. This border is used in quite a few of the patterns in VLT, knits up quickly, looks pretty and so far I am very, very pleased with it.

The Vandyke is a 12-row repeat, rather than the original 8-row border, so some adjustment had to be made on the corner. It does actually look better when pinned out, so I'm trusting in the miracle of blocking. What I don't like, in fact what I really, really DISlike is the final repeat which doesn't get tied by the melon stitch. I don't understand why the pattern specifies this, but I think it looks kinda ugly.

Also raining on my parade is the fact that with a smaller border, I'm going to have quite a lot of yarn left. So, I'm in half a mind to undo the edging and add another column of faggoting to make the shawl wider. But then, I'm not sure it wouldn't spoil the pattern. Oh, what to do, what to do?

It was another fab I Knit London meet this week, this time at the Albert public house in Victoria. I was surprised by how many turned up despite the incessant rain. There was also a strong US contingent, and there was a lot of laughing at the end of the evening with some healthy debate on the different merits of UK and US telly. [As an aside, I've just finished season 3 of the Gilmore Girls on DVD, and am SO unhappy about Jess and Rory splitting up *sob*, I actually don't want to watch season 4!] A few days before, I'd cast on Tahoe in DB's Cathay, as an antidote to all this lace, and the mindless stocking stitch makes it the perfect project for pub knitting.

Following an unfortunate incident on our splendid public transport [ha], the Hedera socks have bitten the dust - just as I had memorised the pattern too! I'd only got as far as the end of the first cuff, so there is still the majority of the skein left for some other project, but for now, it goes into stash. Which leaves time for a new sock project. Oh wait, I ALREADY HAVE two on the needles. [I could have done with a sock at the cinema the other night - the new Bourne film, the beautiful locations, action scenes, the car chases, visually it's all fabulous, but even for the standards of the genre, there was no story at all. Really. At all. ]

Talking of IKL, the boys are throwing a party next Sunday at the Vauxhall Griffin to celebrate the shop's first anniversary and it sounds like fun, hope to see you there.