Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Muir is Cast Off

I've cast off Muir. And it is easily the softest, fluffiest thing I've ever knit. Even now looking at the finished knitting sitting on the table waiting to be blocked I can't help but think how warm and welcoming it looks.

It's already quite big - 24 inches by 58 inches - BEFORE blocking.
I'll block it later this week when I figure out where the heck it will fit.....

Undeterred by your lukewarm (at best) reaction to the new Kaffe book today I did a bit of Kaffe surfing and discovered that he's speaking at the V&A at the end of November. Wahey! I've booked a ticket already. (I don't think I'll be able to coerce anyone into coming with me -- none of my friends knit and I think attempts to 'big up' the idea of attending a lecture by a 'famous knitter' would just open me up to ridicule!)

It's a Friday evening I think, so my current plan is to leave work early so I can do a section or two of the V&A before the lecture. If you've never been to the V&A and get the chance then I heartily recommend it. It has an amazing collection of fashion and design over the centuries. In fact it was at the V&A that I first saw a knitted Kaffe Fassett Chinese Rose Coat (it was part of a temporary exhibit of his work) that inspired the 18 year project.

Fleegle asked if I wear the coat - and the simple answer is no. In fact, even when I started it 18 years ago I never really thought I'd wear it. I just fell in love with it as an object. It was always about the beauty of the colours and the rose pattern -- never really about a coat. When I was too far into the project to do anything about it - it did occur to me that I should have adapted the pattern to a throw or blanket which might actually be used. But by that time there was no way I was ripping it back.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Heeeeeeee's Back!

Kaffe Knits Again arrived this week.

Like many other knitters who were inspired by Kaffe in the 80's I feared we had lost him FOREVER to those quilting types. But no. He's back.


There are a some new patterns in this book, and many of his earlier designs re-worked in shapes more suited to today than the one size fits all oversized stuff of the 80's.

Obviously I'm a fan. (You don't spend 18 years working on something you don't love.) (Even if you don't know what the heck you're going to do with it.) But I recognise there are others who aren't so inspired by the bursts of colours. (My favourite description of Kaffe's work by the 'not so inspired camp' was from Dogged Knits who described Kaffe as a "purveyor of technicolor intarsia barf")(Still makes me laugh.)(But she loves his quilt designs -- so all is not lost.) If you fall into that camp this book won't change your mind.

But if you're a fan - go get this book. Perfect for brightening up a dull wintry day.

Two follow ups on my last post. First, Fleegle and LittleBerry wanted a close up of Muir. And being ever keen to please here it is.

Although eager to please I'm not a great photographer and the photo has somehow erased the lovely fuzzzzzz of the KSH and the little specks of silver. But they are there. Trust me.

I'm halfway through the 11th repeat and really pleased with the result. This is still perfect knitting for me as I sit in my cold house after a long day in the office!

On the boiler front -- November 8th is still the installation date (!). Thanks to everyone for their warm thoughts.

The unknown light switch looking thing in the closet was indeed an immersion heater so I have hot water. And yesterday I invested in two small heating fans, which are surprisingly efficient. I've got hot water and some heat - so all in all, I'm can't complain too much.

But I really want to.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Out of My Comfort Zone....

The past few days I've been taken out of my comfort zone -literally and kniterally (which may not be a word but certainly should be).

In the world of knitting I've taken things down a gear as the long hours at work continue. This means that when I do knit I want easy. I want progress. I want to be able to pick it up and put it down mid row. And preferably I want to do all of that while watching Ugly Betty.

The perfect pattern and yarn were sourced - the lovely Muir designed by Romi. I love the movement of the lines around the leaves. The stole is made up of 13 repeats of 32 pretty straightforward rows, particularly once the pattern is established. I am really loving knitting it. It requires just enough of my brain and not one cell more.

I'm knitting it in Kid Silk Night on 4mm (!) needles. That's the first move from the comfort zone. Until now I've done all of my lace knitting on smallish needles (relative to the pattern) preferring (while knitting) the tighter look of the fabric. But when I see the finished objects created by others with looser fabric I really really like it.

So for this project I just picked up the recommended needles, the yarn and started knitting. It was loose. Crazy loose. But I just focused on Ugly Betty being charmed by Gio the sandwich guy and carried on. Now, just about through the 5th repeat I'm loving the looseness! I'm embracing the looseness! Looseness rules!

Sadly, my other 'out of the comfort zone' tale does not (yet) end so happily. On Saturday (possibly Friday) my boiler packed up. No heat. And a dwindling supply of hot water - the last tepid drops of which I used to wash my hair on Sunday.

Yesterday I called the 'emergency installation' line for British Gas. When I said I wanted a new boiler system installed the service agent said they'd send around a sales agent to see what I need. I reiterated that I needed a new boiler system. He booked the sales agent appointment.

Today a very nice man from British Gas dropped by to 'evaluate the situation' and apparently I need a new boiler system. Wow. Didn't see that coming. He then proceeded to recommend a system, give me the (crazy crazy) price. I agreed. (I WANT HOT WATER.)

He called the service centre to book the 'emergency installation' appointment. I tell no lie when I say British Gas are delivering the equipment NEXT Monday, and the earliest actual installation (according to the computer) is - November 8. Yep the 8th of November. Yep, as in 15 days from now. There is some hope (ha) that an earlier date will come up.

Now I could call an independent plumber and get a new boiler that way. But my last experience that way was a real disaster. So I wait. The British Gas man left this folder to mock me. "All the warmth you'll need...."...sometime in 2008.

In the meantime I've found a switch in the closet where my hot water tank is. It was 'off' (as it has been for 5 years) so I've turned it 'on' in the vague hope it's an immersion heater thingy for the hot water tank. (This hope is based solely on the offhand comment from a young colleague who this morning explained she had one of these 'immersion heater' things, and you turned it on with something that looked like a light switch.)

Now turning this switch on could give me hot water. Or it could lead to some sort of electrical explosion. I'll let you know which it is in my next post.

Until then.....Brrrrrrrrrrr..........

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Working for a Living....

....sure gets in the way of knitting!

Work has suddenly become really busy- which I'm not complaining about because I love work best when the day flies by and I've got good, interesting stuff to get my teeth into. The downside is that knitting has to take a back seat as the work day gets a lot longer.

But all is not lost. Last Sunday I watched a bit of afternoon television and tackled tea cosy number 1 while enjoying (not for the first time) The Princess Bride. It was a fun knit, and I love the loopy sheep I ended up with.

Well, except for the fact that he's WAY TOO BIG for any teapot I own.

I pondered my lovely creation a while, and then decided action was needed. I threw it into the washing machine, and 35 minutes later I had a smaller, less loopy, more sort of 'bobbly' sheep tea cosy. Which I also love. AND which fits my teapot!
So - alls well that ends well. It was knit on 4mm needles using some brandless wool I bought last week using the pattern from The Tea Cosies book. Although the fact that I used 100% wool meant I could felt the result, it does make the cosy a little - well, ummm - impractical. Oh well!

The sheep cosy made it into the office to be shown to a few colleagues and I can confirm that, if you want to impress non-knitting type people, forget the Nieblings -- go for a sheep tea cosy (or an iPod sock). There was much oohing and aahing and immediate requests for tea cosies from many corners. (The Caked Crusader in fact was so enthusiastic that she's already named her yet to be cast on tea cosy.)

I also managed to finish these socks for my gorgeous goddaughter G. She thought that were 'very cool' which is high praise from a 13 year old. They are modified Monkeys knit using Middle Earth Yarns 'Captain Jack' colourway. Captain Jack yarn contains the many colours of the dapper Johnny Depp character from Pirates of the Carribbean. It creates a great spiral swirl of colours as it is knit up in this pattern.

The Monkey modification is one I've used before -- simply replacing the purl stitches with knit stitches. I also replaced the heel flap with an afterthought heel to keep the colours swirling......
This leaves me pondering my next project....but that will have to wait for now as a little more work calls.....

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Niebling Knit Bits News!

Great news for any Niebling addicts visiting - I've discovered another source for some of Niebling's gorgeous patterns. Glenda (aka Doilyhead)(I love that name!) - anyway Glenda has some patterns for sale -- you can check out which patterns she has at her Flickr site.

Glenda refers to herself as a 'Niebling addict enabler' and when you see the patterns you'll know why!

Happy Niebling knitting!

Knitting Mania

Whew.....back from the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace - my feet are sore and my credit card is reeling a little from use. I'm told the show is much more crowded on the weekend than it was today -- which made me very very happy that I wasn't attending on the weekend.
I have to confess that I wonder a bit whether the show has quite the same impact these days when the world is at the end of a www click. But it was fun to meet some of the people I've been ordering from the past few months, and I did manage to find some buying inspiration!

Without further ado - my purchases:

My first goal was Tea Cosy yarn. (As I expect it was for many.)(Or perhaps not.)(Having said that - I was surprised that there were about 4 stands which were selling tea cosy knitting patterns, so perhaps I've hit some sort of trend here.)

Black and white for the sheep.

Red and green for a Christmas 'bumpy' tea cosy.

Having achieved my goal, I rewarded myself with random purchases....
From the same stall I bought some variegated blue yarn to make a felted bag for my goddaughter.

From http://www.webofwool.co.uk/ I bought some Kid Silk Night in a lovely lilac-y colour - which I think is destined for Romi's Muir.

And I discovered there's a new sock yarn seller in the UK and they win all awards for the best packaging! Look at this lovely tissue paper that the yarn is wrapped in, the cute little sticker and adorable stitch marker. Check out http://www.socktopus.co.uk/ .

From Socktopus I bought two skeins of very squishy sock yarn called Smooshy.

I also randomly bought some 2mm Addi's in various lengths and a copy of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Workshop book as I lent my copy and never got it back. (Can't really blame them - it's a great book.)

And to round off the day I bought some 6ply Regia sock yarn.
Right, I don't have time to blog I have knitting to do! Wahey!

Monday, 8 October 2007

From Tiny Acorns...

the Niebling Oak grows.

This large doily is about 3 feet across, and I made it for my kitchen table.

The oak pattern isn't as intricate as Lyra - it's a far 'sturdier' looking piece of knitting due to the large oak leaves that make up most of the pattern. That suits my kitchen and style, and I'm pleased (with some reservations) with the result.

The pattern is from Anna Magazine, August 1985. I knit it in Jaggerspun Zephyr wool/silk (mostly because I seem to have a lot of it) on 2.5mm needles. The pattern is straightforward to knit and uses similar stitch patterns to Lyra (and I expect many other Nieblings).

My reservations about the finished piece are around the mesh background - which looks a bit sloppy in places, and my blocking.

The Niebling Knitting group in Yahoo is currently doing a knitalong and I'm anxiously awaiting their views and verdicts on the best way to tackle the mesh. I expect some of it is the pattern itself. I knit this mesh the same as I did for Lyra - but I think this pattern flexes the mesh a bit more so it looks much less structured here.

To date my blocking has been almost entirely of pieces which are quite geometric and linear in their design. Niebling designs are more fluid. And my instinct to pull/stretch everything from the centre straight out doesn't do the Niebling justice.

In this pattern for instance you can see there is some curve to the large leaves. This curve isn't knit into the leaf (it's knit straight up) but can be introduced in blocking.

I'm not sure what the next big project will be.....but I expect it won't be long before something grabs me!

From the Sublime Niebling....

...to the ridiculous!

Just before the latest postal strike started this arrived on my desk!

Yep. A whole entire book of tea cosies.

I was first drawn to the book when the St John Ambulance in the UK made a request for knitters to make tea cosies as part of a fundraising effort. I did find a few patterns on line, but I loved the look of that cheerful tea cosy on the cover of the Tea Cosy book. It reminded me of the several thousand pairs of Phentex bumpy slippers my mother and I made when I was a kid.

(Egads! I've just found the Phentex slipper pattern online! I should say that we favoured the checkerboard pattern over plain stripes. But we were sophisticated like that.) (Phentex for those of you lucky enough to have not experienced it is 100% olefin(?) super scratchy, indestructible yarn that was popular in the 70's, primarily for things like slippers. It bears no resemblence to any natural fibre. It was man made and proud of it.)

I digress. The Tea Cosy book arrived and I've selected my first tea cosy!

How cute is that?

The postal strike continues, so I will buy the necessary yarn on Thursday when I attend: