Saturday, 30 August 2008

Where is the Love?

As summer never happened I've decided to skip autumn and winter and I'm moving on to Spring. The Spring Shawl specifically.

The Spring Shawl is one of the Shetland lace Heirloom Knitting patterns by Sharon Miller. Sharon is a very talented designer, responsible for many beautiful patterns including the much admired Princess and Wedding Ring shawls.

I bought the pattern well over a year ago and it never seemed to call out to be made. And in all honesty, it still hadn't when I finally did start it. And therein lies the mystery of why some patterns sing to me, and others don't.

The pattern ticks all the boxes for a pattern I should love. It is undoubtedly a beautiful piece of lace. Pictures of finished shawls I've been able to find are all stunning. It is a big project and a challenging piece of lace. Every row is a pattern row -- perfect for keeping my attention. All of these things say that I should have been chomping at the bit to start this project.

But I wasn't.

It's a bit like those weird occasions where you meet someone who is very attractive, funny, clever - but somehow - they don't make your socks roll. Whatever that indescribable something may be -- they are missing it.

Anyway, I started the project because I felt I should and I have to say that nothing in the first phase of the project changed my feelings. I knit on. But without much enthusiasm. I didn't hate it by any stretch -- but neither did it begin to match the knitting obsession of Lyra. I would have been just as happy to knit on any other project.

I finished the centre triangle and began the deep borders. And something has changed.

When I was on the second pattern row of the border I was convinced I had entirely messed it up. In the time honoured tradition of knitters everywhere I threw the needles into the corner and threatened to abandon the project entirely. I huffed and puffed about how it was a lame project anyway and that if I hadn't had to force myself I wouldn't have even started it and .... and.... and...

And maybe it wasn't such a bad little project after all. I mean look at that red. How could I abandon something that red? And really I probably hadn't messed it up that badly? It was looking quite promising. And I'd finished so much of it already.

So I picked it back up and quite quickly realised what my silly mistake was. A little tinking and knitting and I was soon back in flow.

And in love.

Sadly my new love is not very photogenic at this stage. But this blobby red thing currently has my heart.

I'll keep you posted as our relationship develops.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

On Board

A little over a year ago I found that I was listening more and more to Zane Lowe's 'new music' programme on Radio 1 - particularly when I settled in for an evening knitting sess. For reasons that probably made no more sense at the time than they do now, I began a one woman campaign to get Zane to say 'knit' on the air by texting in response to his "who's on board" show opener. I was successful, and have even managed to be immortalised as knitting socks for rappers on the Radio 1 website.

So somehow Zane has sort of become linked to knitting in my mind. (I expect that news would thrill him.) A couple of weeks ago he became a father for the second time and it seemed obvious that it was time for me to put my knitting where my mouth ( phone) was.

I considered bootees or a hat but finally settled on the idea of a hoodie. I used a pattern from Chic Knits for Stylish Babies , knit it up in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran and added a few embellishments -- specifically a row of colourful beads around the bottom spelling out 'on board' and some specially constructed buttons.

When I came up with the 'on board' hoodie idea I thought sourcing buttons with letters on them would be easy. I'd be tripping over letter buttons - I'd be spoiled for choice.

Ha! How naive I was about the world of letter buttons. Turns out that buttons with letters on them are a rarity. I found 1 style of buttons in the UK - but they were kind of ugly and they were out of stock on 3 or 4 crucial letters. I found 1 style in the US - but they weren't great and I was too impatient to wait in any event.

Not put off by the great letter button shortage of 2008 I came up with the idea of using beads (letter beads being a little easier to source) and creating my own buttons.

I made the buttons by tieing the beads into the centre of plain 4 hole buttons - and I'm quite pleased with the effect. The biggest revelation was that with a lot of determination and a teeny weeny crochet hook you can get aran weight yarn through an itsy bitsy bead hole.

Unfortunately, I didn't learn how to take cool close up pictures of the beads before I sent the hoodie off -- so these fuzzy pictures of the detailing will have to do.

I will confess that I was thinking I'd not post about this -- there is something sort of embarassing about knitting a hoodie for a Radio 1 DJ's baby when you aren't 14. But when I read yesterday that Kate Moss made the news by trying (and failing) to get into the DJ booth with him in Ibiza I decided a handknit baby hoodie wasn't so bad.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


I've got a few mysteries to clear up (or try to clear up) today.

The first mystery is - why the heck has it been so long since my last post?

Theoretically, this should be the easiest of the mysteries - but alas, the answer eludes me. Work has been busy but not crazy, no whirl of social events to blame. I've even got knitting stuff to share.

Mystery one remains unsolved. All theories welcome.

Mystery two began Sunday morning when I heard something being put through the letter box. Expecting it was another takeaway menu for the local curry house I didn't rush to pick it up. And when I did pass by the front door about 30 minutes later I was suprised to see it wasn't a menu -- it was last Saturday's 'Rebel Knitter' supplement from the Guardian!

There was no note on the paper so I was initially clueless about where it came from. A bit of Poirot like exercising of the little grey cells and I realised I actually had a few good leads.

It had to be someone who knew I knit. It had to be someone who read the Guardian and someone who would be kind enough to think of me and save the supplement for a week. Finally it had to be someone who might be passing by my house on a Sunday morning but unable to stop.

Someone running perhaps. (Not from the law -- for exercise.) Or someone cycling (similarly for exercise). (Someone perhaps training for a triathalon.)

J'accuse Gavo! (Gavo being Shirl's partner.) I haven't yet confirmed my theory - but I'm pretty confident. Thanks Gavo!!!

Mystery two. Solved. (I think.)

Mystery three is a mystery that I think will ALWAYS be there for me as long as I'm knitting lace. How does this:

Become this:

How can this limp mass of string:

Suddenly(ish) transform into this:

Ok - no real mystery - but blocking is a little bit of knitting magic.

This stole was knit for Old Maiden Aunt Yarns as a sample for some her new yarn. It's a luxurious Alpaca, Silk, Cashmere blend in a cobweb weight. It feels gorgeous and knits up beautifully.

The colourway (which I haven't captured as accurately as I'd like) is a beautiful combination of blues and greens which blend together beautifully.

The lace pattern is Japanese Feather Lace from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns. If you don't have the book (go get it!) you can get the stole pattern from Knitspot.

I knit it on 4mm needles.