Saturday, 24 November 2007

Soo Meets her Knitting Hero

Friday was a banner day in my knitting life -- I went to the V&A to hear Kaffe Fassett speak. Despite my love for all things Kaffe I had never been to one of his lectures or workshops so I was pretty excited. (In this picture Kaffe is giving some other Susan advice on how to fix her knitted collar.)

Being me, I was also likely to abandon the whole thing at the last minute. But a firm shove out the door by a colleague (the Caked Crusader in fact) and I was on my way.

My cab driver was greatly amused by the fact that I was going to a museum, for a lecture on a Friday night. BY CHOICE! When I explained it was to listen to a knitting designer he knew he had the rest of the journey sewn up as far as commentary went. "Knitting designer? Well, at least it won't take long. Knit 1, purl 1. That's all there is isn't it?" I laughed and asked if he thought that maybe I was being conned - because they were charging me £18 for 2 hours. He advised me that the only way to get value for the money was to drink A LOT at the wine reception.

The auditorium was full and a few latecomers had to sit on the stairs. Kaffe was charming and inspiring and pretty funny. You can tell he loves what he does. The talk was accompanied by a slide show of some of his work and the objects and scenes that inspire it. There was a Q&A session and my favourite question and answer of the evening went something like:

Q: Have you ever made anything that didn't work, or that was horrible.

A: Kaffe answered that question (basically no, he watches and refines as he goes along and he always learns something from a piece) and then went on to comment that he thinks most people give up too early. And how he's often so frustrated at workshops because he can see the beginning of a great piece but the person working it loses confidence and rips it out - way too early. They don't give the piece time to work.

And I do think that is particularly true with colour knitting. Each row and colour adds so much to the rows around it - you really do have to persevere in order to 'get' the picture. When I was making the coat I was often amazed at how a colour would affect the colours around it - sometimes quite dramatically changing the look.

During the wine reception there was an opportunity to have his new book signed and meet Kaffe. I had brought along my copy of Kaffee Fassett at the V&A (1989ish) and the coat, so I ventured to the signing area. I was a bit babbly (eeeeee) and my voice an octave or so above its usual register - but I met the man himself.

He was happy to sign my older book and seemed genuinely pleased to see the coat. I gushed about how much I loved it. He said it was lovely and it made his heart sing to see people take on the really big projects. Eeeeee.

I didn't take my cabbies advice about drinking a lot of the free wine at the reception -- but I definitely feel I got my money's worth!!

In other knitting news I feel the need to rant about knots in self patterning yarn. Particularly when they make no attempt to keep the colour continuity. I mean - the WHOLE point of self patterning yarn is the pattern. If they mess that up.... Grrrr.....

Monday, 19 November 2007

A Cosy Post....

First - three finished tea cosies. Inspired by the St John Ambulance 'Big Tea Cosy' fundraising drive I've knit a few cosies from the Tea Cosies book. These are knit in a wool blend so should be washable. For some reason I really had to force myself to sew these up. It seemed like some Herculean task whenever I thought of it. Odd really, as of course, it took very little time and was pretty straight forward.

The Loopy Ewe cosies have proven quite popular in the office so I expect that I'll be sending a 'donation in lieu' for them!

I've also finished these cosy 6ply weight socks. It's a Regia 6ply - 'Country Colour' yarn. They were knit on 3mm KnitPicks dpns. I like the sharp points and slippery needles -- but they do feel much heavier than the bamboo and birch DPNs I'm used to working with.

They were a speedy knit, which is just as well as I actually have no idea who they are going to! That's a slight exaggeration - they are for a friend of M's who apparently suffers from poor circulation in his feet due to MS. How could I refuse to make him a pair of socks. Whoever he is.

And most importantly - my house is once again cosy and warm. Hurrah!! Thanks so much for all your warm thoughts and messages of concern. They didn't fix the leak in the water tank, and the flue they installed outside my house is horrific and will have to be replaced -- but I have heat. And for now that's what I'll focus on! (But British Gas should beware - I will get my second wind.)

Other knitting is underway but I can't talk about it here (yes Dyl, that's because YOU are reading this.) I'll post some pics in Ravelry (a Dyl free zone) later this week......

I just got an email that the yarn for my mom's cardigan has shipped. I hope I love it as much as I expect I will!!!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

It's Still Cold in Here

Yep. Over 3 weeks later and British Gas 'Emergency Installation Service' continues to leave me cold! I won't bore you with the details of the incompetence of British Gas (that's what work colleagues are for!) but in summary I won't have heat until Friday at the earliest.

This has resulted in me being pretty dang grumpy.

On the knitting front I spent the week pondering my 'what next' project.

A leading contenders was the Forest Path Stole which has been ready to go since May - and is the pattern responsible for my current obsession with lace.

Also under serious consideration were The Spring Shawl from Heirloom Knitting in a blue or red and the Winter Wonderland shawl.

Naturally a Niebling or two called to me - but I decided that I would hold off on Niebling until the new year.

Anyway in the midst of this pondering I received an email from my niece asking if I could knit her some mittens. For reasons unknown to even her, her current heart's desire is a pair of knitted mittens. And she also mentioned that her mom (my sister) wants some of my 'fantabulous' socks. This talk of Christmas knitting reminded me that I wanted to make my other sister some mittens which reminded me that in the summer my mother had asked for a pink sweater 'with some cables or something'.

And all of this made me wonder how long I had to knit before Christmas. And the answer was - 'not very'.


Time to get Christmas knitting. The past few days have been full of mitten book buying and yarn shopping. As luck would have it Ann McCauley left a comment on my blog a couple of weeks ago which led me to her book The Pleasures of Knitting. It arrived last week from Amazon and has some lovely designs I think I found the perfect one for my mom - the Dollar Cable Cardigan.

Of course Christmas knitting raises a blog challenge which I haven't yet got a solution for. I can't really talk about the patterns or gifts here. (Except for my mom. My mom lives in a 'no internet' bubble. There is no chance of her stumbling across this blog. None. Ever.)

PS - Despite icicles on my fingers I have done some knitting. Here are 3 ready to be stitched up tea cosies and an almost pair of socks.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Exit from Muir

I blocked Muir yesterday, and I'm really pleased with the final product.

As I mentioned in a previous post I used a needle size (4mm) that was larger than what I've generally knit laceweight on (2mm - 2.75mm). I love the effect and will try to remember that when I cast on my next lace project and the 'looseness' freaks me out.
The pattern is a 32 row repeat (even rows are all purl) and the pattern is pretty intuitive once it has been established.

I used 4mm needles and 4.5 balls of Kid Silk Night. The only modification I made to the pattern was a mistake on my part. I made the picot at the beginning of each row instead of on alternate rows as indicated on the chart. When I realised this on row 6 I decided that picots on every row was a better idea then attempting to rip back Kid Silk Night.

Pre-blocking it was 24 x 58 inches.
Post blocking it was 28 x 72 inches.

I used blocking wires to straighten the edges - but I didn't block it hard at all. In fact I didn't attempt to stretch it at all while blocking, and I didn't pin it. I just let the weight of the wires hold it in place.

I was worried the blocking would mean the stole lost its fluffiness - but it didn't. It's still oh so fluffy and welcoming.

This weekend I'll be working on tea cosies. I still have a couple of 'Loopy Ewe' cosy requests to fill, and I want to get one or two off to St John Ambulance this week. (As it was their tea cosy fundraising campaign that started this latest trend in my knitting!)

I'm pondering my next big project. I have a few contenders - all of which have been on my 'to do' list for ages! I'll keep pondering which one to tackle while I finish up these cosies and expect then I'll cast on for something else entirely.