Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Well, That was Unexpected....

London (and indeed the rest of the UK) are enjoying a very odd spring holiday season.  First - we get 2 four day weekend IN A ROW.  So office type workers were treated to an 11 day break for the low low one time only cost of 3 vacation days.  Insane.

If that wasn't enough. (And it was.)  We have had the most gorgeous weather for the last week. Sunny and a very warm 26 degrees.  Heaven.  It's cooled down slightly today but the sun is still shining so no complaints from me.

On the knitting front the 6 km of yarn for the Princess has arrived.  It's called antique silver - grey to most of us - and has a lovely sheen.  I dug out the needles and got ready to cast on, and then realised the Princess is built upside down (or inside out) (or something...).

In my experience (which isn't vast - but heh it's all I've got) - shawls like this are generally constructed like this:
1) knit the centre piece (triangle for triangle shawls, square for square shawls)
2) pick up stitches around the centre piece and knit the broad border and then
3) knit the mind numbing never ending narrow edging around the whole thing

Now the ONLY thing that keeps you going on the horror that is step 3 is the sight of the finish line.

So imagine my mood when I realised that the Princess is knit like this:
1) knit the mind numbing never ending edging
2) pick up stitches along the edging and knit the broad border
3) knit the centre triangle, joining it to the border by picking up stitches as you go along

This put me off for a day or two.  I mean - really.  What's all that about?  That means starting with the worst bit.  And to add insult to injury, when you finish that you can't even console yourself with "Oh well, at least that's the boring edging done" because it isn't.  You still have to knit the final edging along the top of the triangle.

Finally though I picked  up the yarn and needles again and cast on.

And then proceeded to make a mistake.

In every single row of the first repeat.


And worst when I finally got to the end of the first repeat, exhausted from the ordeal, I accidentally pulled the needle out of the stitches.  Frogged the repeat and cursed the Princes.  Loudly.

Taking a leaf out of Anne of Green Gable's philosophy - I awoke this morning and decided it was a new day with no mistakes in it and I was ready to try again.

So I cast on again - and here it is - the first of a gazillion edging repeats.

At this rate I expect to be done by June.

June 2099 that is.

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Princess Waits ... But Some Knitting Occurs

So immediately following my last blog post I thought if I'm going to do this Princess thing I'd best start by buying the pattern so I placed an order and waited anxiously.  Three days later the pattern dropped through the letterbox and I was ready to go!

Or so I thought.

I had planned on using some lovely Fleegle gossamer weight yarn I had in the stash.  A gorgeous bluey-greeny peacock colour.  2600m of the stuff.  A beautiful yarn and really, how can 2600m not be enough for anything?

When you've decided to take on the Princess that's when.  Sharon recommends a staggering 5800m - 5.8 km - yarn. 

Not having 5.8km of any single yarn in my stash I was back on to the Heirloom Knitting website and ordered up some 'Antique Silver' CashSilk.  With luck it will arrive this week.

In the meantime I've knit up the lovely green laceweight merino I posted about last time. 

I couldn't find a pattern that sang to me so I just cast on and played around a bit until I came up with this.  I really like the little ruffle and have dubbed it  - Just a Little Bit of Ruff.

It's a simple construction - starts with 11 stitches cast on.  (6 for the main body of the shawl and 5 for the ruffle edge). 

The first row is k1, yo, k2tog, k1, yo, k2tog, knit 5

The ruffle is formed using short rows.
At the beginning of wrong side rows (ie when starting at the ruffle edge)
-  knit 2 stitches, wrap the next stitch and turn (to wrap a stitch and turn - simply slip it to the right hand needle, bring yarn to front then turn knitting)

-  knit 2
-  knit 2, knit next stitch picking up wrap, knit 2, wrap next stitch and turn (picking up the wrap is simply inserting the needle into the wrap and then through the stitch on the needle - easier when you are doing it!)
-  knit 5
-  knit 5, knit next stitch picking up wrap, yo, k2tog, knit to end of row.

I increased on the third and every second row after just before the fagotting until I had 25 stitches in the main body, then every 4th row until there were 35 stitches in the main body and the every 6th row until there were 45 stitches.    Then I knit straight until I used 49 (of my 100) grams of yarn, and the reversed the process to the end.

I'd like to make a larger one in a heavier yarn - perhaps in a yarn with long colour changes - I like the idea of the striped ruffle.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Well, I've been THINKING about knitting....

This weekend saw Londoners shedding their raincoats and frantically dusting off and firing up the barbecue as temperatures soared to the mid 20s. Greenwich Park was packed with family picnics and friendly games of football.

Now I don't want to rain on anyone's parade (or picnic) but this crazy (but welcome) summer weather in April isn't doing anything to get me into the knitting groove. But I won't wish the sunshine away - this is London and I know from experience that before long I'll be moaning about the grey skies and drizzle. 

Although I haven't actually been knitting I have thought a little about knitting which is I guess the first step. I've also been admiring the great knitterly gifts I got from my family this year and maybe that's the second step!

I got some beautiful yarn, a set of Harmony Options 5 inch sock needles (which as I discussed in my last post have had quite a workout already!) and two gorgeous books.

The yarns are a lovely wool from Briggs and Little (a NB mill!!), a Merino/Mohair blend in  gorgeous blues and pinks and black from Fleece Artist (Nova Scotia!), and a laceweight Ella Rae merino in my favourite greens.  

I have my eye on the green laceweight at the moment - it's 420m so should be good for a small shawl/scarf. It'll probably another of the crescent shaped patterns that are popular at the moment - I just can't decide how lacey I want it to be.

I so enjoyed making the Great Canadian British American Aran Afghan that I am considering another similar project -- and there are some gorgeous squares in the Nicky Epstein book, and of course some amazing patterns in the Alice Starmore one. My younger sister hinted strongly (errr declared outright) that she wants a throw, and I fancy making one for my Dad so I think a throw or two are in my future.

But of course what I really want is a crazy lace project that will take months and have no real purpose in life other than to make me feel clever when I block it. I've got some lovely Fleegle yarn and I think it's time to tackle the Princess shawl.

Monday, 4 April 2011

And so we move into spring...

I want to say thank  you to everyone who emailed or commented kind messages and words of comfort.  Blogger doesn't let me reply directly to all comments -- but please know that all of your thoughts and prayers all meant so much to me.

Here it is April 4th and London weather is warming up. That with the little bursts of sunshine we get convince us that summer is on its way.  

I stayed in Canada until early March and while sorting through pictures with my family I found two that I thought I'd share with you.  The first is one of my mom in the early stages of her Phentex Checkerboard Slipper jag.   

And the second is a very happy me clutching a 'how to crochet' kit early one Christmas morning-- look at that smile - I was always in love with yarn!!

As many of you suggested it would be knitting has been a comfort and while I was in Canada  I was seldom without needles and yarn in my hands.

My first project was a pair of mittens for the delightful Dylann -- another in the annual series with her high school's initials and the year knt into the palms.  Dyl was frightened by my sister telling her in September last year that she had given me a 'great idea'** for Christmas gifts -- according to my Mom Dyl's reaction was 'But I like my mitts!!'

Luckily for her - I liked knitting the mitts as well so there was no need for her to be concerned. This pair (a Drops pattern) will be the final high school pair as next year she starts university -- I wonder what those colours will be?

I really wanted to make my Dad a cardigan so on our trip to Bathurst we found 'The Spinning Wheel' yarn shop (no website that I could find - but if you are in the area you'll find it in the phone book!).  It is a lovely little shop with a really wide variety of yarns.   The owners were really friendly and it became a regular stop in our trips to town after that!

I wanted the cardigan to be easy care so I opted for some Sirdar Denim yarn in a brown colour (which doesn't appear on the website so perhaps it has been discontinued - too bad it was a nice colour.).  It's soft to touch and I really liked working with it.  Finding the right pattern was pretty straightforward - a bit of searching and I settled on Charcoal Ribbed Cardigan -- available for free from Knitting Daily.

The cardigan flew off my needles.  The body is knit flat in one piece to the sleeves, and the sleeves and shoulder caps are knit separately.  The knitting was done within days - and I had seamed the main pieces together but when my dad tried it on we all agreed that the body was too short and it needed a couple more inches

This meant I got to impress no one but myself by fixing this problem without the need to unravel days worth of knitting! 

What I did was snip the yarn in the row above the body ribbing and then very carefully pull the yarn through the stitches to separate the ribbing from the main body.  As I did this I carefully placed the stitches from the main body onto a needle.  Luckily, knitting doesn't unravel upward so this wasn't too stressful!

When I removed the cuff, and picked up all of the stitches I proceeded to knit the additional 2 inches of body downward, followed by the ribbing. 

This sort of fix isn't always possible for complicated patterns  (or maybe it is and requires more thinking power than I have!) but for simpling stocking or ribbing works quite well.

Now, only a quest for buttons kept it from 'finished' status.  Trips to Zellers and Walmart were fruitless but I struck gold (or brown button) at an old sewing shop where the owner kindly went through EVERY button in stock to help me get the right ones.

The finished cardigan was well received - and my Dad showed it to everyone who dropped by. Naturally, he hasn't worn it - but I know he loves it!

The rest of the time was spent making socks. 

Socks, socks and more socks. 

Not all were photographed as some were claimed pretty much as soon as they came off the needles.  I discovered that I could knit nothing but socks all year and STILL there would be feet in need!!!

Most of the socks were knit plain in self striping yarn.  The red pair were Diagonal Rib Socks (another freebie from Knitting Daily) a pattern I expect I'll use again. Straightforward to knit but just a little more interesting than plain socks.

I think in the end I knit about 10 pair!

I haven't knit a thing since I got back to London but I can feel the urge to start a project building.  I think a browse through my books and magazines for some inspiration is in order!

** My sister's 'great idea' will be revealed later...I don't have any photos of the finished objects  yet!