Sunday, December 31, 2006

Back on the 3-Minute Miracle

First I will update you on the hair situation:

It was bleached for three hours in total and we did get it to quite a good lightish yellow. However, after application of the ash-y tone, it was still quite yellow. I found a darker ash tone, which produced a more believable shade of dark blonde on a strand test. Unfortunately, however, the area on my scalp where I did the strand test (I'd had enough of cutting chunks off on which to perform various tests for the bleaching process) was stinging and there was no way I'd cover the whole head with something that stung. So I admitted defeat and dyed it bright pinky-red. It won't be staying that way - it's just you have to dye it red and then brown, otherwise it will go green. And yes, it has happened to me before. I remember sitting on the beach at Brighton and someone remarking how I well I matched the seaweed.

Please note that the red patch you can see is dye, not a sore patch (I'm very lucky I don't have any of those).

I have been doing some knitting, in between ruining my hair with the bleach: some more socks (I thought I said I was off knitting socks - all that has changed now I can Knit to Fit) in Opal and the stitch is baby cable rib (which is very simple and requires no effort). I cast-on 56 sts again and it seems okay. So far.

Thanks for all your advice on the Bad Word Situation. I'm still ignoring him and will see how it goes.

Must go and stop my lunch from burning.


Friday, December 29, 2006

Orange Socks and Hair to Match

Well, I started Shedir and completed fourteen rows before I realised that it would be too big and that I didn't like the flippy-floppy fabric I was creating. The pattern called for 3.25mm needles but I was using 3.5mm, as I was too impatient to wait for the right size to come in the post, thinking Christmas would delay them. But they arrived the following day (from Kangaroo). I sould have waited but my impulsive, impatient and demanding nature just would not let me. And of course I had to frog all that work and start again. Shedir is the kind of pattern I have to give at least a little of my attention to. For instance, I can't just knit Shedir mindlessly whilst giving Grumpy Old Women/Men the larger part of my attention, which explains why I've still only knitted fourteen rows on the new needles. Instead, I finished the socks I started a month ago, in Lana Grossa Fantasy, colour 4833. At last I have knitted socks that fit perfectly (for a change). Usual top-down formula, 56 sts, on 2.5mm needles. Yeahhh. But will I use the same number of stitches with a cable/lacy pattern and get the same size? I'll let you know.

My hair is now orange. No, really. If it wasn't so unbelievably patchy I wouldn't mind it. On Wednesday I got restless and attacked it with the bleach I'd had sitting around in the cupboard for a year and a half. It would have been okay but I left too much hair at the root area whilst bleaching the lengths, so when I put the bleach on the roots, the centimetre closest to the scalp went blonde but the other two centimetres of "root" didn't have time to get as light as either the nearest centimetre of hair, or the lengths. This means I have orange hair with a brown/orange band near the roots and then blonde roots. Needless to say, it looks really stylish! Lucky for me I have a habit of walking about in a bright pink fully sequinned hat (it's an original Liberty hat but looks like a sparkly swimming cap), which doesn't show any hair. I'll get some more bleach today but have no idea how to go about evening it all up. Maybe I should do all the dark stripes, rinse and then do the whole thing again, once it's a uniform orange. Better be careful. Don't fancy a chemical haircut right now. Not to mention the brain damage bleaching gives you. Watch this space.....

By the way, Kathryn, I haven't forgotten your tag
And also, the orange-hair photo really does make it look better than it is - quite nice, even. Don't be fooled. And I look really shagged out in the hat photo, but that's what comes from having the cold from hell and drinking wine for hours (on Boxing Day). Still avoided a hangover though, as it was more a slow but constant intake, rather than lots at once.
Has anyone any idea how to get an almost-three-year-old to stop shouting out BOLLOCKS all the time? I've tried ignoring it but it hasn't worked and though other people find it funny, I'm way past that now. I swear if he shouts it out in Tesco I will just die on the spot.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Plea Specifically to Alice........

Or indeed anyone that knows the answer (which is probably everyone except me). You know I'm knitting the Shedir hat? I just looked at the chart. Hmmmm. Does it read from left to right on each line, or right to left, or zig-zag from one to the other? Maybe I should be able to tell by looking at it, hope there! Actually, I'm thinking that once I know how to read the chart it's going to take me at least a month to learn and remember what the symbols mean. But I'll have a go.

I would really appreciate some assistance................Thanks, blogfriends.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Odessa (number 4)

I can almost knit these with my eyes closed (so to speak), I've knit so many. Again, this is in cashsoft, though with large, glossy, black beads this time.

I have one more Odessa to knit, this time in Ballad Blue (one can never have enough Odessa hats). Then, it's on to Shedir.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Best Pic I Could Get....

Well, here you are, you lot. The best picture I could get. You know how children never stop moving.

Frankie was saying she didn't understand why so many people are so mad about knitting socks, for several reasons (you know, small needles, you have to knit two of them, etc, etc.) Frankie prefers to knit hats, and if you look at her blog, you'll see she is excellent at doing so. I like knitting socks, but it's hit and miss as to whether they'll fit. I still wear them, though, whether they're like little boats on my feet (the Koigu stranded stitch ones I made), or whether I have to endure them like you would a tourniquet, cutting off the circulation in an alarming manner (the pink lacy ones where I lost the feeling in my finger for a couple of months, due to knitting on 2mm metal needles). So, I'm taking Frankie's lead, and knitting hats for the time being. Having spotted Alice's Shedir, I must knit that. I've never worked from a chart before, unless you count Forecast, which you can't really, as that pattern was so simple to memorise, you didn't really need the tiny chart in the first place. I may not be up to the task, but I've ordered a ball of Rowan Felted Tweed, in Carbon, anyway. You know, hats are relatively quick to knit, there aren't two to be completed every time, and you get to show a hat off to all and sundry, unlike socks. And hats don't get snagged on our dodgy floors in this house. Not like my socks. I only have one handknit pair left unscathed now - the others all have huge holes in the heels, where I caught them on "things".

I did finish my skirt (I forgot to mention it) and am very pleased with it. I just put four huge darts around the waist area, and it did the trick of shaping it enough. As the fabric had a lot of stretch in it, it didn't need a zip - I just slip it on. No photos yet, as I can't get a decent one.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's Christmas-time!

I know, I know, it's been so long since I've posted that I've almost forgotten how to do it. It's that time of year when we have so much more to get done, and also I've just been kind of revelling in feeling festive, which means a lot of "sitting and taking in the atmosphere". And which also means I still haven't written any Christmas cards or wrapped any presents. At least I have my tree up now. We've had the same one for seven years and it's still thriving, which is incredible, given my track record with tending anything green. Mind you, putting the tree up isn't a problem - it's taking it down again. One year I couldn't be bothered to take it down until March, as I'm often reminded by my friends. The tree became an adorned skeleton in the corner of the room. I couldn't understand why it offended so many people. I was 20 and had just bought my first house. I think it was my way of saying I could do what I wanted. Well, that and drinking brandy at 10 in the morning before a stint of the dreaded Christmas Shopping Experience. Not so that I was too much the worse for wear, you understand; just a little fuzzy around the edges. Sometimes I think I could do with that now, but I couldn't face drinking so early in the day. And not more than about two and a half units at once. Boring, I know, but I don't want my first hangover in twelve years. I'm rambling - sorry.

The above photo is of some completed knitting. Charles didn't own a scarf, which is very sad, as we do walk, and often high in the Chilterns where it's often quite exposed and very windy. So I knitted another Odessa hat, this time in Cashsoft DK, in Navy. That didn't solve the problem, so I knitted a scarf to go with it. In Cashsoft again, Navy and Ballad Blue. Just as well I hadn't been on the brandy, or it could have been green and yellow.

As you can see, it's a simple cable pattern, crossing this way and that to make a lattice (I particularly like the way the pattern makes a crinkly cast-off edge). The cashsoft is soft and lovely to wear, though it has a tendency to show wear very quickly, which makes me fuss terribly. The pattern was from Scarf Style; it's Braided Mischief by Teva Durham, though I didn't use the yarn suggested, or the same size needles. Mine was knitted on 5mm needles, with 54 sts. There was a cable row every four rows, so it was relatively fast to knit.

In addition to the scarf and hat, I've also knitted some self-patterned knee-high socks for Charles and half of one candy-coloured sock for myself. And now it's a race against time to get another Winter Companion knitted for my sister's birthday on Christmas Eve. This time there are many more beads (every four stitches and every six rows) and I've cast-on 25 % more stitches and used a 5mm needle, instead of 8mm. It remains to be seen how it turns out.

My Edwardian Lace Stole hasn't been touched for literally months and the red Forecast, for weeks.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

And Now For Something Completely Different..

What a beautiful, sunny day it is - just the sort of day to take a photo (though the trees around our garden are so tall they don't allow much sunshine in the winter months, with the sun so low in the sky). The OH has taken Charlie Townes to see the trains whooshing through Tring station at Charlie's request, and I'm playing my new Amy Winehouse CD, which sounds as though it came straight out of the sixties. Anyway, this is what I'm working on at the moment (apart from the Raspberry Forecast):

I got the fabric from ebay for £3.77. There are 4 metres of it, though it's only 80cm wide. It's a textured, stretch jersey. Heaven knows what it's made of, but it's got a lovely sparkle to it, which satisfies my little inner magpie (the Audrey Hepburn part isn't too happy about it, though). I thought I'd sew it into a tube skirt just straight up and down the sides (but leave the raw edges on the outside down the back seam, as you can see in the photo - I like the frills), but it seems it's not that simple. Well, it is simple, but will take a little more work than I anticipated: I've had to put four quite deep darts in, around the waist. It's still not enough to make it snug enough around the waist and hip area so I'll have to adjust the darts again. I don't think having a pattern would really help, as it wouldn't account for how much stretch this fabric has. Speaking of stretch, I've sewn the hem by hand and may have to sew the whole thing that way. I'll try a sample on the machine, but I'm not sure it will come out with the right amount of ease in the stitching. I know practically nothing about the ins and outs of sewing, so much of it is trial and error for me.

In case you're worried about me looking a complete floozy in this tight and shiny skirt, don't worry - I'll be dressing it down!

Sew Direct they are selling all their McCall patterns at £3.25 for a limited time, so I've ordered the dress-fitting shell, which should be...interesting. As with my knitting, when sewing, I just choose a size to make and then find it doesn't fit here...or here...or here! Maybe this will help. I just need to buy some woven gingham to work it out and make it up. Then I want to make a nice high-necked Chinese sort of affair with this fabric. Something plain and simple.

If you fancy listening to a beautiful piece of music this morning, try
this. I know Gordon Lightfoot is not very well known to many people in the UK, but this music is beautiful. I love him. Kathleen reminded me of how much I like him, with her link.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust

Thank you all for your kind words, not that we were at death's door or anything, but it was pretty nasty. Charles got the worst of it, but he's back on top form now.

Knitting - It was with much relief, and with no sense of defeat whatsoever, that I frogged Funnel Neck right back to thin air. In fact, it felt good. There are times when we have to face the truth. In this case, not only was it too much of a pain to think about getting the stupid thing to fit me (I just could not be bothered), but I had known from the start that a jumper in 100% rib was not going to be to my liking, and I chose to ignore it. Funnel Neck is no more and never will be. There.

Being a creature of habit, I immediately cast-on for another Forecast (in the Debbie Bliss Tweed). This yarn is supposed to be the same weight as the Cascade 220, but when I knitted the neck in 5mm as before, it was HUGE. Instead of frogging, I kept it, and after making some quick calculations I went on to knit the yoke in 3.5mm, which came out small enough to fit a kitten, and was killing my fingers. Frogged back to the neck again and started on 4.5mm, which seems to be okay. I don't know why I have these problems, unless my tension varies wildly from wip to wip (which is quite possible). But the element of trial and error in my knitting is far huger than I suspect it is for most people. It can be very trying.

Anyway, I'm down to the ribbing on the body and I think it's okay. I just hope I don't hit the same problems as I did on the first one, where I didn't have enough yarn. I didn't mention it before, as I couldn't be bothered to do that much typing, but in the middle of the second sleeve I realised that I may not have enough yarn left for the button bands, so immediately put the sleeve on a holder and went on to the bands/edgings. After the edging I only had enough yarn left to do about another inch on the remaining sleeve, so had to undo the one I'd finished and frog a couple of inches, re-knit the cuff, and hope I'd have enough yarn from that to do the same on the other sleeve. I did - just. It was pretty hair-raising. This time I'll do the button bands first, then tackle the sleeves.

It remains to be seen whether the ribbing on the body will be okay on 4mm needles. We'll see - there could be more frogging ahead.

PS I'm knitting another Forecast because I really do like my original one with my jeans, enough to want another in a different colour.
I know I look a bit strange in this photo. I was trying to smile on self timer (see what I mean) and I had a cold, and my hair left a lot to be desired.

Friday, November 10, 2006


After all that moaning, I didn't know when we were lucky! Just getting over the cold from hell and Charlie got his first sickness bug (not bad, since he's got away with it for almost three years). That was Weds tea-time and then I got it at 5am Thursday. I'm ok now but Charles is still quite ill and honking up even water. So, I may not be around for a few days again. Hope you're all well! Got to go and heal the ailing.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Warning: Contains Ranting and Raving, With a Good Measure of Whingeing

Firstly, I have a cold and that makes me extremely grouchy. The OH, inconsiderately (I think) actually left the house to do some socialising a couple of weeks ago, and has been ill since around three or four days after. What with my being so healthy and fit, and hardly ever seeing anyone actually in the flesh and all that, I smugly thought I hadn't caught it. But now it's got me. And it's only November. Great. It's only a cold but it messes things up. I have been eating piles of home-made chocolate biscuits and other such delights, and doing no exercise. That's what I can't stand, no exercise. That's why I'm grouchy. Well, partly why. The other thing is.....

My Funnel Neck. It was all going very well indeed. Every time I tried it on it seemed great. Until it came to reserving the stitches for the sleeves. It seems the portion for the body (from neck to underarm) doesn't have enough increases, but the arm section does. Of course, what I should do is rip back a long way and start putting in more increases for the body portion. But how many more and can I be bothered? I can't tell you how much I detest knitting the same bit again. Not as much as I hate being ill, but I won't bend your ears about that again. Or you may never come back. I could wing it and just have a jumper stretched very tightly across the chest. Oh, I shall put it to one side and come back to it when I'm in a better mood.

The only knitting I have left now is the Edwardian Stole and Nick's socks (which go back to April). Good thing I'm not knitting him a huge cardi, then, like Poshyarns did for her DH. So, I have no knitting that I want to do and no yarn waiting in the sidelines (no, honestly) except for some Noro Blossom but I don't know what I'm going to do with that. I could do with making a pair of socks but I'm too skint to get the yarn. I could have spent the money I raised on eBay on some yarn instead of my haircut but then I'd be even grumpier. Thank heavens you don't have to live with me!

On the skint front, our Music Distribution company is really doing well. It's only been going for just short of a year, but already we are doing the distribution for over one-hundred record labels. But you know what it's like when you start up a business - at the beginning there's no money to spare. We're hoping we'll soon be at the point where the business is paying for our monthly outgoings in entirety, never mind having any extra to spend. It's not too bad. When we have a fire going in the burner, a little child to hug and make us laugh, home-made biscuits, a cheap (ish) bottle of wine etc. etc. I think all the other bits are really not what makes us happy. Though I would like extra money for yarn. Of course. But one day when I'm rolling in it, I'll be far too busy to knit (not really - it's either knit or eat biscuits).

And actually, it really is never far from my mind that a large proportion of the world's population really don't have any of the real comforts of home like we do. I mean the really bare basics. I'll never forget a photo I saw a while ago, of some Pakistani earthquake refugees trudging through the mountain snow with their children carried on their backs. But the children didn't even have shoes or blankets. No shoes. In the snow. I remember having a bad day and then, in the midst of my crying to a friend, saying "oh, how could I feel sorry for myself" and telling her about the photo I'd seen. And with the best of intentions, she replied, "well, Darling, you're walking barefoot through the wilderness of life". And I thought, "no, not really", although I appreciated the sentiment. And it brought me back to my senses.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Funnel Neck

Firstly, thank you all for your kind comments on Forecast - and my tights! I've been wearing wacky tights ever since I had my own money to spend on them (around twenty-three years-ugh). The very best red tights I have ever worn are the ones by Charnos. You can't get softer, stretchier, smoother, anywhere else. And the waistband isn't too narrow or tight. Charnos. Brilliant.

The next project is under way:
Funnel Neck , another top-down knit. I did the neck bit and then started on the increases for the yoke, but after about seven rows of the yoke I realised that the increases looked awful, really messy. I knew the method I was using would leave little holes (picking up the bar between stitches, with the left needle, front to back, and then knitting) but I thought they'd make a nice, ordered pattern, like on Forecast, and the Glamour Cape. But no. I think it had something to do with fitting in the increases with the K1P1 ribbing. Anyway, I ripped back and started the yoke again, this time picking up the bar between stitches with the left needle, from front to back, and then knitting into the back of that stitch. The difference is unbelievable. No holes at all! The only way you know something's been happening in the increase areas, is the fact that the ribbing diverges and seems to make rivulets. Great. The method is the M1F on this site.

Now the only thing remaining is to make it fit - for me, not an easy task. Already I'm using smaller needles and knitting the next size up, without so much as a nod to the correct tension. Luckily the yarn (Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed, picked up for a song, from Jannette) is wonderful to easily rip back and then pick up all the stitches again. The yarn seems as though it's already felted - is that possible? It's the least splitty yarn I've ever known. I love it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Well, here it is! I took about twenty photos in an attempt to find one I liked. This cardi is so snug, it leaves track marks in my arms, where the ribbing is! The dress I'm wearing is made from extremely unforgiving jersey, and completely wrong for the cardi; it looks much better with a pair of jeans or denim skirt.

Forecast is a simple pattern to knit, and a real pleasure. I'll be looking for another top-down pattern to knit, as it's so much easier to try as you go and to make alterations. I'm hoping to make another Forecast, but next time I'll make the ribbing on the body, and especially on the sleeves, a little looser.

I did learn some new skills on this knit: simple cables, reading a simple chart and purling backwards (when making the bobbles).

Pattern: Forecast
Needles: 4mm and 5mm (instead of 3.5mm and 4.5mm) and 3.5mm for the sleeve ribbing
Yarn: Cascade 220 The Heathers
Modifications: I started the sleeve ribbing above the elbow, though next time I think I'll stick to the original.

Now I just have to do another 8 or so repeats on the Edwardian Lace Stole. Sigh. I'm going to Mayfair to get a haircut next week, so can do some on the train (sold some stuff on ebay to pay for it. To think I could have bought some yarn).

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

At Last - Progress So Far

Of course, now that I have made the effort to post about Forecast, it's so gloomy outside that it's impossible to take a decent photo. We'll have to save that for the grand showing of the completed garment. This may include a gapping between the button bands and, in fact, severe stretching of fabric all round. I did want my Forecast on the snug side, but I think this may require a generous dusting of talcum powder in order to get into it in the first place. Put it this way - it will either be so snug that it'll make me look really slinky, or it will be so snug that it will show off all the bits I don't want to show off. Extra bits (though I don't have as many of those as before - ha!).

I've been enjoying this knit so much I will make another. I already know that on the next one I'll start the ribbing higher up - just under the bust - and I might do the original sleeves. I tried my current Forecast on so many times, in an attempt to get the ribbing to start just where I wanted it but, weirdly, once I'd got a few rows of the ribbing done, it turned out that the top section was longer than I thought. Having said that, I am still very happy with it. On the sleeves, I've started the ribbing above the elbow, instead of nearer the wrist. I'm happy with that, too. My only concern is that the upper, cabled part of the sleeve may not be as snug as I'd like, in comparison with the lower, ribbed part - and this may make my arms look a bit chunky. If the upper part was huge and puffy that would be fine, as it would be obvious that it couldn't possibly be my real arm!

I expect you all know that this is knitted from the top down. I really enjoy this way of knitting. It does make it so easy to monitor progress and make adjustments as you go, something I've not been confident about doing in the past. It's just so brilliant to be able to slip the garment on and see it coming along, even if I need at least two pairs of hands to hold the fronts close together (to see if they actually meet in the middle).

I've been using lifelines effectively for the first time ever (I tried one on the Edwardian Shawl, about ten repeats ago, but got lazy). The lifelines this time have not been in case of errors - I put one in every time I make a change to the pattern (such as starting the ribbing high up on the sleeve) so that, if I don't like it, I can rip back to the point where I changed it, and not right back to the beginning. This gives me a real sense of freedom within which anything may be possible.

I've included a close-up of the yarn, which was taken in better light, a week ago. It really is lovely in real life; there's a light covering of deep red fluffiness all over it, in the right light. I will definitely use Cascade 220 again.

I just have one and a half sleeves and the edging to do. See you then.

Friday, October 20, 2006


This morning, immediately after waking, I dashed downstairs fully intending to get my coffee and post all about my latest wip, Forecast. It is now 14:46 and I'm still not at the point where I can spare the time, or even make the time by squeezing this or that backwards or forwards a little.

So, in the absence of any toil on my part, I urge you to read
this (You Don't Have to be Pretty-2010.06). I think it's essential reading for a lot of us (women). I loved every word!

Have a great weekend. Will post Forecast on Monday.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Here is Willow, completed and in the correct size. Now, it's quite lucky Willow fits me at all, since I used different needles and yarn to those recommended by the pattern. But it's twice as lucky that it fits so well.

It was so boring to knit just stocking stitch, and in such loopy yarn, for so long. My attention wandered several times and I ended up increasing instead of decreasing (and vice versa), or doing miles more stocking stitch and forgetting to do any shaping at all. This inattention meant quite a bit of frogging! I did make quite a mistake on the belt and it's such a stupid mistake to make that I can't quite believe I did it, even now ( and I was too lazy to put it right). The belt is knitted as part of the back of the cardigan, so you suddenly cast-on about another 160 sts (80 either side) and carry on knitting. The back was of course being worked up in st st and I carried on and knitted the belt in st st too, all the time thinking "this is a bit stupid. Surely this belt will curl like crazy, being just a skinny bit of stocking stitch" but instead of changing anything, I just continued. It was only when I read the pattern again that I realised it said to cast-on more sts and continue knitting. Knitting. They should make these things absolutely clear for knittingly challenged people such as myself. I can't imagine why I didn't just use my head. Now I have a curly belt. I haven't done any blocking yet, but I don't think it'll help much.

The picking up of 300 sts for the edging was a real pain (isn't it always?) but thank heavens it came out okay and if there are any mistakes you can't see them for all the fluffy loopiness. Had this been a plain yarn, however, I'm sure it wouldn't have looked so good. When I'm picking up stitches, whether it's for socks or edgings, sometimes there's a huge gap left between the stitch I've picked up and the rest of the knitting. I don't know why this would be. I pick up all the stitches in the same way. When this happens, I usually reject the stitch causing the gap, and pick up a bit from slightly lower down, or to the side. I always check to see if it looks odd, so tend to get away with it, but I don't know what will happen when I get to do the edging on a plain garment. I think I'll look up how to pick up edging stitches correctly before attempting it. In case you're wondering, all the black bits of Jaeger Siena cotton are there to divide up the edging into equal portions, making it that much easier to pick up the correct number of stitches

Texere sorted out the yarn problem, by the way, sending me the exact match, and in a very friendly and helpful manner. Hurrah for Christine at Texere!

You may have guessed, I've started on forecast. It took me forty minutes to knit one row of about 100 stitches last night (with about ten of those bobbles). This one's going to take me a long time. I already may have sizing issues but will tell you about it next time. Hold on to your seats!

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Thanks for your comments, Kathryn and Alice. Kathryn, I did the swatch and once I realised that all the plain squares on a right-side row had to be knitted and not purled, it all worked out fine. Really easy, actually! Oh, thanks to Carrie, too! I did look at the KAL again and there was a lot of info I didn't spot before.

I appreciate your response to my plea. Thanks, blogfriends. I can't believe I had to be such a drama queen. All I needed to do was try it out.
Real Assistance Required as a Matter of Great Urgency!

Firstly, I've finished Willow and will do an entry on that tomorrow. BUT in the meantime I'm so stuck on my next project, Forecast. I've just got to row 17, where the yoke begins and I realise I don't know where to begin on the simple chart for the cable. Do I start on the bottom row of the chart, reading from right to left? In other words, purl the whole row? And is the next row up, row 18? Or 19? And do I read all of them from right to left? I don't know if the even and odd numbered rows are included or what. I expect it's obvious to all of you, but I've never done a cable or a chart before, so can't tell which way the chart should be read (make sense?).

I've never been stuck on my knitting before. I'm stomping around in frustration. Please friends, help, or I may have to go and eat all the golden syrup or something terrible.

The bad thing is, I know nobody reads blogs on Sunday. Ooooooh, tantrums.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Good Grief

I was just sitting here thinking how I should do a knitting post and, in a bid to delay, checked Bloglines for any new posts on my fave blogs, only to find that Cherry (oh, thanks so much, Cherry, you lovely thing), has set me and a few others some homework. So, I have been tagged and must now think of five things that feminism has done for me. I will try to keep this short, as I tend to ramble (not about feminism in particular, for heaven's sake......just about anything at all).
  1. Given me the right to claim an inheritance and have ownership of property/finances. It wasn't that long ago that the females of the family were not allowed any claim on inheritance at all. Their brothers/sons could kick their own mothers out of the house if they wanted, once good old Dad had pegged it. That is so not on, it makes me mad to just consider it.
  2. I didn't have to be considered a spinster by the time I was twenty, though some of my relatives were already getting at me by then. Not because I had no boyfriends, but because I wasn't MARRIED AND HAVING CHILDREN. I mean, way back in the day, you were really at a social disadvantage if you weren't married by your mid-twenties. You wouldn't have stood a chance in the Tudor Court, for instance ( not that I'd have wanted to). You would have been well and truly past-it and on the scrap heap and quite good-for-nothing.
  3. I can travel about without a chaperone. I have freedom. I don't have to be watched over 100% of the time, even if I just want to walk 100 yards down the road on a sunny evening.
  4. Ha ha, I can lift weights and run about a lot and get out of breath. That may not sound important but the choice to do it is.
  5. I have many more choices in life than I would have done if not for feminism. Many, many more.

Of course there are loads of much more important reasons, but these just jumped out at me first.

I'll do a knitting post tomorrow if I get time.

Oh, I should tag some people. Sarah, Frankie, Debby. So sorry!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ants in My Pants

Or something, anyway. Something that's making me want to jump about all the time and not sit still. I'm not talking about restless legs, although they're no joke, I can tell you. I had those restless legs when I was pregnant and it's very annoying. No, I mean I just cannot apply myself to anything for more than about fifteen minutes at a time. I start feeling so bored. You know, like...right, what shall I do next? It's ridiculous. I think it's something to do with having a lot of energy at the moment, as I'm okay when applying myself to something like cleaning the bathroom or hanging out washing. Or maybe they're tasks that have an end in sight and that could explain it. Thing is, this is really bad for my knitting. It's not that I don't enjoy knitting any more. I do, and that's the annoying thing. Like reading, I used to be able to do it all day, given half a chance. Now, I read one chapter of my book (currently The Boleyn Inheritance) or knit five rows of my KSH and that's it. Ants in my pants.

Even blogging has taken a direct hit. I'm still very happy to peruse the blogs of others, and still very much enjoying myself doing so, but actually bothering to think of something to put on mine is just too much. Too much in the way of thinking. Too much effort.

What can I do? Maybe my attention span has shrunk. I'm not kidding when I say this, but I think I've got treacle in my brain or something. A hundred times a day I'll forget what I was doing, where I was going etc. How will I cope when I'm seventy? Sure, I'll still be riding my bike, but will I be.... "see that old woman on the bike over there? Yeah, she's not quite right, poor dear. Fit though. Packs a powerful punch". I'd better start exercising my brain a bit more, I think.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Not So Fast

The knitting in the photo above is the reason that the Edwardian Stole still won't be finished any time soon. A friend of mine really quite fancied one of those floaty scarves, knitted in the KSH, on large needles. Who am I to deprive her of this (her birthday is 12th October)? So, here we go again. The only nice thing about knitting with KSH on large-ish (7mm) needles is being able to look at the beautiful silky lustre of this yarn as the light catches it, something I've only just realised the Edwardian Stole is lacking; the black is just not pretty to knit with at all. Mind you, I prefer knitting the black lace pattern to the interminable k1p1 of the scarf.

Another reason for stalling on the stole is I got a copy of the book Eats Shoots and Leaves at the weekend in St Alban's, which is a lovely town. It's a book on punctuation (or lack of/misuse of same) in current times. I've wanted it for ages and it hasn't disappointed me; it's funny and informative. I'm hoping to learn something from it.

It would be great if I could start Forecast sometime soon but I just can't do it without finishing one of my WIPs first. Still, the yarn is sitting there, ready and waiting.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Thanks for all your encouraging comments on my yarn problem, and especially for the suggestion of alternating the two batches. Thanks, HPNY! Believe it or not I wouldn't have thought of that myself.

The point of this post is to admit that I might have been too hasty in my criticism of Texere. Although the fact remains that they didn't give me the correct information at the time of ordering the new yarn, I should have contacted them with the problem first; that is, before denouncing them completely. They've admitted they did produce more than one batch but they have also asked me to send them a piece of the yarn I need, so they can see if they have a match. This means that either I'll get hold of the matching yarn and it will (might) be happy ever after, or I can at least mix the two, as you all suggest. The customer service at Texere is in fact very good and I suppose anyone can make a mistake.

At least this gives me the opportunity to do a bit more on the stole, though I still have about nine repeats to do.

I've forgotten about Eye-Candy Friday again. Oh dear.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Okay. It doesn't take much, I know.....but I'm really mad and it's all (mostly) because of Texere Yarns and Willow. Fatal combination. You know how I've been slogging away at trying to finish Willow? And how it's been a wing and a prayer all the way, what with swapping yarns, needles etc. Well, I just got half way through the first sleevehead, only to find that the new cone of yarn is completely different in shade to the rest of the garment. I'd checked with Texere to see whether they could get the same dye batch as the others I'd used and they'd said they'd only produced one dye-batch of this yarn, so any yarn sent would match. Oh yeah, right. So I knitted about thirty rows in the new yarn in the dark last night and this morning...horrors. I don't know if you can see it in the photo. Aaaaargh. I suppose it is partly my fault as I should have ordered enough in the first place. Having said that, if Texere had just told me they didn't have the right dye batch at least I wouldn't have knitted all this and wouldn't now be having to rip back - possibly a whole sleeve - if they can't get the right yarn as a replacement. I HATE RIPPING BACK. So the options are: start this sleeve again and knit both in the same batch and have the sleeves not matching the body, but two sleeves not matching is better than just one; knit the sleeves in a plain, rust-coloured yarn; or carry on in the right yarn if they can get it.

I will let you know what happens (if I don't rip myself in two first, like Rumpelstiltskin in a rage, when he stomps himself through the floorboards at the end of the story).

Monday, September 25, 2006

Still Nothing to Show

It's not that I'm bored with the knitting at all. I have been knitting but just little bits here and there. I seem to have been picked up and swept along by the everyday current of life and I'm still hurtling along with it (but towards which end?) Time that would have been spent knitting (in between putting Charles to bed and eating dinner) has been spent exercising, and I'm reaping the benefits from that. I feel great. But my knitting..... Eunny says she doesn't often sit and give knitting her exquisite attention, more often knitting a row here and there whilst waiting, say, for water to boil or whatever. I'm right there with her, except that if I mostly did that I'd get a few rows done each day, rather than the whole, beautiful garments that seem to magically appear on Eunny's blog so often (isn't she talented!) What I'm saying is, in order to make progress I need to find more knitting time. If I ignored Charlie all day long and just threw his meals on the table and said "go play, Darling", I'd get loads done. But that's not fair. A neglected and bored toddler....shudder. I did have a chunk of about an hour the other day but when I went back to it later, I realised that for some inexplicable reason I'd stopped increasing and for the last twenty rows I'd been decreasing. So I had to rip back. Aaaaargh.

What do I have left to complete? I've knitted the back and two fronts and half a sleeve of Willow (the long cardigan). I tacked the back and front together a few nights ago (and forgot to take a photo). It seems to sort of fit, as far as I can tell. Now, this is very lucky when you realise my tension is so out. The garment is several centimetres wider than it should be, and several shorter. So how the sleeves are going to fit the body when they too turn out shorter and fatter, I don't know. I expect I'll squeeze them in somehow. Maybe this cardi will have puffy sleeves. Could be interesting.

Edwardian Stole I still have about eleven repeats and the top edging to do. I've got used to knitting this lace with the television on/people talking etc and no longer feel like screaming at anyone who so much as breathes in the same room when I'm trying to CONCENTRATE. It's Willow that's stopping progress on the shawl as I really want to finish it. The loopy yarn is pretty irritating, though I find the colours lovely, and I do find knitting garments a long and drawn-out process. I need a quick fix. Maybe some new sock yarn. Have you seen Piece of Beauty's
new shop? Lovely.

BTW I know the above photo has absolutely nothing to do with knitting but it's symbolic of just how weird life can seem sometimes (this was taken last Thursday when we went to West Wittering and Brighton, though that wasn't one of the weird days and we had a great time). They look as though they've just been dropped out of a UFO, don't they?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


I haven't been posting much lately, I realise; once a week has been about it. The reason is I'm still working on the relatively larger items, like the Willow cardigan and of course, the Edwardian Lace Shawl (actually it's called Edwardian Lace Stole on the pattern).

Rows and rows of black KSH don't make for interesting photos, so I'm leaving it to your imagination, but I've now completed the top edging on the first half, which is a relief. The points along the sides are knitted as you do each row, at the edges. But the points along the top and bottom are knitted individually. I mean it's a relief because I was worried I might not understand how to do them, but it was easy and only took an hour or so. But the bit that took some fiddling about was picking up all the stitches along the provisional cast on and knitting the first rows of the second half and having the pattern match exactly with the first half. Easy, you say - just follow the pattern. Yeah, right. Somehow I kept ending up with one stitch too few after that first row. Not an error in the pattern. In the end I just increased one stitch at one end and carried on. I was so lucky the pattern matched up exactly after this debacle. I must have inadvertantly placed the missing stitch where it belonged. Anyway, I'm two repeats (out of fourteen) along on the second half. Shouldn't take too long to complete, though. I can do this lace whilst speaking now, and with noise in the background. Oh, and I must mention that apart from being one stitch astray that time, I haven't made any mistakes at all. My lifeline still languishes back at repeat number six (I'm on seventeen now). I hope I haven't spoken too soon. I am being very careful.

The yarn in the above pic is Cascade 220, The Heathers. I got it at the same time as the gold KSH and Debbie Bliss Tweed, but forgot to show it. I'm going to make
with it. Better wait until I've finished Willow first, though. Oh, I cannot be bothered to knit Willow. So, so bored with it.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Eye Candy Friday and Idiosyncratic Socks

I chose this picture for ECF, not because it's particularly beautiful, but because it portrays a time of year I love in our garden. The buddleia has come back into flower. We've had two flourishes this year, which is such a treat as the scent is divine and can be detected from the top end of the garden. The apple trees are of course full of fruit at this time of year and I find them particularly pleasant to look at, and to smell.

Toddler socks are so fast to knit. Here are Charlie's. I would have liked to make them slightly longer in the leg, to line his wellies better but was afraid of running out of yarn. As it was, there wasn't much left over when I'd finished.

These socks have their own little special trademark; they look as though they've been knitted specially for an elf with very pointy feet. Towards the end of the toe I didn't stop putting in the knit rounds between the decrease ones. Of course, this made them long and pointy. Still, if a sock was too perfect you probably wouldn't believe I'd knitted it myself. (Speaking of perfect socks, just look at these - scroll down to post dated 29th August).

News on the Edwardian Lace Shawl next week.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

If the Sock Fits

Remember those terribly bright socks I was knitting? Well, here they are - finished! As you may be aware, I do have ghastly trouble knitting a sock that fits. The last pair was so tight they were actually painful, but I persevered and wore them through the pain, and they now fit, although I practically have to shoehorn them on. Anyway, the point is, this latest pair fits like a glove, um, like a sock (should).

I just cast on 56 stitches on 2.5mm needles and knitted the whole thing in stocking stitch, instead of all those fancy-pants patterns I've been doing lately. I knitted an extra four rows of heel flap to give a little extra around the instep but I think these would have fitted anyway. They're quite stretchy.

I really like the Lana Grossa yarn I used and am even coming to terms with the colourway. The yarn itself knits into a very soft and light sock and is very easy to knit with. Perhaps you can tell how much I like these socks - I've added too many gratuitous sock photos. I'm also half way through a pair for Charles, using the leftovers (wellie socks). By the way, the one at the top isn't me in my nightie. It's a black net skirt I'd worn that day and it has a cream underskirt, which is showing through quite boldly, due to the flash. I took the photo in the dark, not being terribly organised.

The other thing is, I've started a new blog, The Fitter Princess and the Pea, owing much to how fat I am and how unfit I suddenly am. I'm hoping it will motivate me. Really, I'm just copying Dipping My Toes Back in the Water, who has done the same thing. That's a funny blog, by the way. Give it a visit if you can.
And it's got great music on it, too.

Oh, and by the way, you might like to check out this shop I came across, Foreign Strand. It stocks some yarns I've heard mentioned but not seen available to buy in the UK.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Eye Candy Friday and Crawling Up that Hill

The above gladiola was rescued from the garden after the heavy rain snapped the stem. I find I enjoy them so much more on my kitchen windowsill, anyway. I didn't realise I liked gladioli so much.

Thank you all so much for your encouraging remarks about my paintings. I really do appreciate all the comments and I will certainly take it up again one day when I have a little more time to dedicate to it.

I haven't posted for a week because I just have not had the energy. That is very, very unlike me. I never feel lacking in energy but since having the most horrid earache two weeks ago I feel about ninety. Sore throat every day, and tender skin. I bloody hate it, as everything feels such an effort. I want to feel like I usually do. And it's not even flipping winter yet. I feel like I'll never be healthy again. I will stop whining now.....

The Debbie Bliss and KSH above were obtained by selling some Louisa Harding blue Kimono Angora and Kimono Ribbon on eBay. Thank heavens I got rid of that stuff. It might look and feel nice but it's evil. The angora leaves bits of fibre EVERYWHERE and makes my nose and eyes irritated and the ribbon is too bright and too hard and scratchy. Don't like it. I don't know what I'll do with the Debbie Bliss yet, but at a bit over £1 per ball, it doesn't matter too much. The KSH in "Swish" will be another lace shawl but don't know which yet.

I've knitted ten repeats of the Edwardian shawl so far, which isn't many, but there are times it irritates me silly and I reach for something else, usually a plain stocking stitch sock that I can knit mindlessly and without looking. At this rate the shawl will be finished just in time for the start of spring 2007. That's no good. I have to order some more KSH soon, for presents for my mum and my sister.

The cardigan I'm knitting in the Balmoral (texere) is called Willow and it's from the Louisa Harding Design Collection. So far I've completed the back and am two thirds of the way through the left front. Could this be the garment that fits me? If so it will be an almost miracle, due to the fact that the weight of the yarn is way off the pattern requirement and so is my tension. We'll see. I don't pick this WIP up very often as the loops in the yarn are "catchy" and I have to be in the mood. And I'm wondering how I'm even going to see these loopy stitches when it comes to picking up millions of them to knit the neck edging and the button bands. Lucky for me tasks usually turn out easier than I expect them to be. That's Willow, below. Take it from One Who will be merely a shadow of that image. Hehe.

And finally, my haircut (sorry-photo was taken "Through a Glass, Darkly"). I will not fail to have my hair done by Ozzie at Sanrizz when I want. Even if it means taking drastic action to get the money (!). He listens, he's courteous and friendly and he's great at cutting hair. He's better than any other hairdresser I've tried (loads). My last hairdresser is now London Hairdresser of the Year but he never listened to a word I said. Titles sometimes just don't count (or the money they charge-over £100 in that case).

I hope I haven't posted too many photos for your computers. Please tell me if it's making things slow. I got carried away. Also, I must in future give some thought to the content of my posts and not just type a stream of thought.

BTW. I just looked at this photo again and it's even worse than I thought. I took it through an old Art Deco mirror the in-laws gave to us. It's really beautiful but it's in four square pieces with pale pink and green glass strips down each side. Where the square bits meet in the middle they've distorted the image and chopped the back of my head off. Haha. But it's worth the distortions. I love that mirror (and the in-laws).

Thursday, August 24, 2006

ECF and Things Once (well, almost) Forgotten

I came across "Piece of Beauty" blog, the other day. In it was mentioned the Rowan Tree, or Mountain Ash. We have a large and beautiful Mountain Ash in our garden, and though I'd admired it through the seasons for at least six years, I had no idea that it's also know as a Rowan Tree. Of course, I've heard of the Rowan Tree, I just didn't realise it's another name for the Mountain Ash. Now, I thought I knew what a Rowan Tree looked like............One of the first houses I bought was situated alongside a canal and this canal was (of course) lined with various shrubs and trees. One day (one day of many, in those times) I was extremely bored and decided to give watercolour painting a go, and, as there were plenty of willing and patient subjects lined up along the towpath, I brought a random twig into the house and began (see below).

As I didn't do "art" at school (I did pottery and batik and drama and biology and theatre arts and sociology and Eng lit and pure and applied maths, but not painting) I was very pleased with the way it turned out and rushed out to buy a set of Winsor and Newton paints, set in a delightful metal paintbox, and painted every Sunday.

I wanted to move on to Other Things, like landscapes and interiors and catching the light a certain way - that kind of thing. But I really didn't know where to begin and, more to the point, I was too scared of not being Good Enough (Sarah......that's the self-defeat I mentioned). So I stopped. And I have regretted it ever since.

I'm irritated by my failure to pursue something I might have been good at and this is one thing in a list of activities that have gone the same way. I remember dragging a 10kg bag of clay home from a local art centre. I really did drag it. I only weighed about 7st at the time, if that! But when I got it home, I lacked motivation and inspiration and I think it's because I wanted to go straight in there and be fantastic and I knew that wasn't possible, so I couldn't be bothered.

What has this got to do with the Rowan Tree? See the second painting down? Someone once looked at it and said "oh, a Rowan Tree". So I always thought it really was a Rowan Tree, after all, why would I question it? And sixteen years later I find out that it wasn't a Rowan tree at all (the leaves were a glossy, deep green and not in clusters, as a Rowan's are), and it doesn't matter .....but what is interesting is that it brought to mind these paintings and a time gone by, and also a reminder that I can do more than I think I can. And that whatever I can paint or knit or cook or whatever, it's a gift, and something to be thankful for; not something to resent, just because someone else can do it better. There will always be others who can do it better and, these days, I can look at them as inspiration, and take pleasure from their achievements. I must have grown up a bit.

And my paintbox....I left it behind in 1999, when I left my evil partner in a hurry, before he came home and stopped me. He'd put my paintbox in a beautiful hand-carved closet he kept in a corner of the room, locked (I never knew what was in there).

I was planning to show you my WIPs and some yarn I acquired as a result of selling some. I will show those next week. I'm off to Mayfair to get my hair cut tomorrow, at Sanrizz, where I always used to go. My beautiful almost-mother-in-law-and-friend has insisted on paying. I think she's horrified that I've been cutting my own hair for a year and a half. I'm quite excited as I haven't been to London in ages and it's nice to visit every now and again.

BTW. You might have noticed that my surname is Keen on some of the paintings and Plumridge on others. That's because I used to be married.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Progress on Lace Shawl

Having ordered the Edwardian Lace Shawl pattern on a spur-of-the-moment whim (mostly due to my current love-affair with KSH), I then felt a little anxious that it would be beyond my knitting capabilities. I needn't have worried, as I soon found there were no borders to be knitted separately and then grafted on, or anything yuk like that. However, it did require a provisional cast on, which I'd been avoiding for ages, by ignoring any pattern that needed one. Again, I needn't have avoided these provisional cast ons, as there is nothing complicated about them at all (well, not the way I did it, anyway). So, having joined in my KSH, I got down to it. At row five I found there were more stitches left than there should be, at the end of the row. I checked and checked again, and just couldn't find where I'd made the error. Started unknitting it stitch by stitch, messed up, and frogged the lot. It's not that easy undoing lace knitted in black sticky KSH, I can tell you (although I'm quite good at it now). Started again, got to row five and found the same problem again. At this point I was suspicious that there was a problem with the pattern. Never mind, Heirloom Knitting told me what the row should read and I carried on. Then I did my maths for rows 7, 9 and 11 and found they were incorrect, too. Of course, H.K. gave me the correct instructions again and I carried on. Only to find that the corrected instructions for one of the rows was.......incorrect. Heirloom Knitting were very helpful and quite apologetic but it did make my first proper lace-knitting much trickier. I must add that Sharon at HK was very helpful with advice about picking up stitches from the provisional cast-on, as well. The company does offer support with knitting up their patterns.

Anyway, the pattern is very easy - I've come to realise that it's not knitting lace that's difficult - it's just making sure you don't mess up your rhythm half way through a row and miss out a YO or a K2tog or a Sl1 K2tog psso etc.etc. That's the only difficult bit - not going wrong! I'm counting every stitch after knitting every single row, as it's best to find any errors immediately. There have been hardly any and I've completed seven pattern repeats now.

After knitting fourteen repeats I have to pick up the stitches from the provisional cast on and start again for the other half of the shawl. I will practise that on some scrap yarn first, to make sure I'm picking up the correct loops. Imagine if it all went wrong at that stage. Shudder.........

I'm hoping this will be a nice big shawl. It should be about 72" by 19". I think mine might be even larger than that. We'll see. I'll let you know how it goes on.