Monday, 7 September 2009

Musings on Knitterly Stuff

A few weeks ago I saw some yarn listed on a website as 'this season's new colours' and couldn't help smiling as my first thought was is there really a need for 'seasonal' colours when it comes to yarn as it's probably only going to be added to the stash and not used until the knitter who's bought it matches it to a pattern?

But then, I started to wonder if stashaholics (and, with my 25-ish km of stash-yarn I must surely qualify for this title) are the norm in KnittingLand, or if, in fact, the majority of people who knit have one item on the needles at a time and only venture out to buy yarn when they want to make something and then get pattern, yarn and appropriate needles (if required) all at the same time.

Now, to me, having several projects available to work on seems perfectly reasonable. After all, I might want to watch a film or programme on TV and be able to knit at the same time, so something in plain stocking stitch is ideal, or, I might be in the mood for something more architectural, which usually includes cables; or, I might want something that requires concentration, so it will take my mind off the various stresses of the day, which usually means lace. However, for many knitters, does my many items on the go methodology/approach seem haphazard or weird, especially as although I rarely frog anything I start, it can sometimes take me months to complete something (my Ishbel springs to mind).

Now, of course, I've opened up a new train of thought as I type this. I mentioned my Ishbel. I'm assuming that as this is a knitting blog and that there's little chance that anyone not interested in the craft of knitting will read this, those who do stumble across this rambling entry will know what I'm talking about (it's a knitted shawl designed by Ysolda Teague - that's for the poor soul who's mis-typed a web address and has ended up reading this). With such resources for knitters as Ravelry and other forums such as Phoenix Knitting where we can browse patterns and yarn and discuss our hobby to our hearts' content, saying the name of a pattern in knitting company means immediate nodding of heads and discussion as to the merits of that pattern and what changes we'd make if we were to make it ourselves. Pre-Internet, starting a new project meant going to the local yarn shop and choosing from what they had available (does this mean I can blame the Internet for my yarn-stash?).

Is there a spectrum upon which knitting folk have their place? At one end, the knitter who makes things with a specific purpose in mind (i.e. a child needs a new school jumper) and at the other, the knitter who indulges in the craft simply for the joy of creating something out of needles and yarn and who separates patterns and yarn that attract him or her, with a view to matching up the two at some point (when, of course, the other bazillion WIPs are finished)?

Just some thoughts........ I'm off to research chunky/bulky-weight yarn in brown so I'm set for my copy of Made In Brooklyn arriving in the post (Quincy's the first design I'm planning on making - it's a hat, for those not in the know!!!).

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Squares, squares, more squares and socks

So, here I am again. What have I been doing in the last couple of weeks? Finishing off socks and knitting squares. Three pairs of socks and 15 squares, to be precise. Oh - and a Lacy Baktus scarf from some Manos Silk Blend (yummy yarn!) - which was a very quick knit and would work very well as a gift.

I finished off the Nanner and On-Hold socks which were the July patterns for the Wendy Johnson "Socks From The Toe Up" book KAL on Ravelry (a book I'd recommend if you're a toe-upper) and also the plain pair of toe-ups (using the Mash-Up Magic Toe Up - MUMTU - sock 'recipe' that's available via Ravelry) that are for my Dad's birthday.

The squares are some I'm sort-of test knitting for QueenieAmanda at The Natural Dye Studio. They're going to form part of a new Bessie Blanket that Amanda's cleverly devising. Mitred squares - in stocking stitch. The e.mails that have been flying about between the various knitters have been many, firstly as the pattern was worked out and then to give progress updates. To date, there have been reports of 28 and 32 squares completed using the yarn supplied, so on that basis, I'm just about halfway there - but haven't sewn in any ends yet. That joyful experience is yet to come (I know, I know - why didn't I do them as I finished each one or few).

So, that's what I've been up to really. Knitting squares and socks.

Except.... I wasn't sure I was going to join in with the August Wendy Toe-Up KAL as the book pattern is the Diamond Ganseys, which call for a solid or semi-solid yarn really so the pattern shows up and the freebie pattern is the seaweed socks, which are similar to the Nanners and look as though they'll bias around the leg (something I'm not overly keen on). However, I had two balls of RYC Cashsoft 4-ply in my stash in a light Wedgewood pottery green. So, I started a toe late on Saturday night after I got in from work 'just to see how the yarn will knit up on 2.25mm needles' as the smallest pattern size for the Diamond Gansey socks has 66 stitches per round. The 'swatch' is now ready for a sewn cast-off, once I've remembered where I put my tapestry needles (hopefully they're upstairs stabbed into my needle case, otherwise I have no idea where I've put them). So, it looks like I'm going to be joining in for August after all. I might even do the Seaweed socks as well as I just happened to spot some British Dream Merino Sock yarn in a colourway called Seaweed on the Fyberspates website - and bought it.

Pics of these projects (and others!!!) are on my Ravelry page - I will get around to working out putting up photos here soon - not that my photographic skills are anything to write home about.

I also bought some Malabrigo (Lettuce colour) and some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (erm, Desert something - it looked pretty anyway) from Get Knitted this week as well as the 4mm KnitPro wooden tips that I went on their website to buy. Stashbusting? Oh yes, I was supposed to be stashbusting - whoops!

That's all for now.... bye!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Things I am Working On

I've managed to have six knitterly items on the needles at the moment - including three pairs of socks. These are:

Ishbel shawl. I started this ages ago using some 100% 4-ply silk from The Knitting Goddess which is in very pretty variegated plummy shades. The yarn has little give and splits easily, so it's slow going and I'm only doing a few rows every so often. It'll get finished - just not sure when.

Miss Honeychurch tunic top. I bought enough Rowan Damask for this in a Kemps sale and I'm about two-thirds of the way down the body. It's a top-down design, but I've been kicking myself as - with the yarn being variegated - I didn't see the point in doing the cables that run down the side. Except....... I started the body part when it was late and I was tired and just started blindly following the pattern, so I'm doing cables that won't really show in the finished garment. Oh well!

Burridge Lake Aran Afghan. I'm using Patons Diploma Aran for this in beige. It was half price at Franklins needlework shop in Colchester (I also bought enough of this yarn in a pewter grey colour to make a Girasole circular blanket/throw). I like working on this, but the weather's been too hot. The afghan/blanket's made in three panels which are then sewn together and a top and bottom edge knitted and sewn on. Only I've done a provisional cast on with the intention of knitting on the borders. If it doesn't work out, I'll just cast off at either end, make the borders and then sew them on.

Socks. Three pairs OTN. I joined up to the Wendy Johnson toe-up KAL group on Ravelry which is a 'celebration' of Wendy's patterns, especially those from her new book (which I recommend - her instructions are crystal clear - yay for her!). I wasn't sure at first when I saw that the KAL had several rules, but decided to give it a whirl. Each month one pattern from the Socks from the Toe Up book is chosen, plus one of Wendy's freebie patterns. This month, I decided to do both socks - On-Hold from the book and Nanners, which is the freebie. You can't start the socks until the first day of the month and have to finish by the last day of the month. Having finished last month's socks with several days to spare, I had no socks on the go. So, rather than working on either of the first three projects I listed above, I cast on a pair of socks for my Dad. I've made my Mum three or four pairs, but none for Dad and it's his birthday next month. I'm making these from some Regia 4-ply silk-mix in charcoal, brown and cream colourway and using the Mash-Up Magic Toe-Up sock 'recipe', but with a slight modification of the heel turn.

I've also got a mitred square sock-yarn blanket on the go to use up leftovers and a crocheted bag, but they're 'upstairs' projects which I work on when DD2 is in the bath!

So - that's in truth eight projects on the go. And.... the postman's just delivered the yarn for the test-knitting I signed up for from The Natural Dye Studio. Just waiting for the e.mail from Amanda containing the pattern and instructions and then I can get started on that.

Hmm - Whoops! might be appropriate.

PS. I know that I haven't put in links - I haven't worked out that technical bit yet!

Thought of the day: Why didn't I check the weather forecast before I watered the plants yesterday evening?

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Getting started

So, I've finally folded and created this blog, which will be about knitterly stuff - with maybe a few other bits and bobs thrown in from time to time.

As the blog title would suggest, my name is Christine. I live in a small town in Essex, am mostly a stay-at-home Mum, except for a few hours a week when I work in a local shop. I learned to knit when I was six and have been making things ever since then really, with the occasional hiatus for such things as having two babies!

I'm a member of Phoenix Knitting Forums and Ravelry (same on there as this blog) and I currently have six WIPs - three pairs of socks, one afghan, a tunic-type top and a shawl.