Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hello 2012

A new year, new post, and new projects. Its 2012, and has been for some 12 hours - and in the spirit of things new we spent yesterday tidying up ready for the new year. Of course I know that the whole date thing is an arbitrary notion which helps humans to structure their lives and one 'day' is no more significant than another day, but there is something about a new year. I'm not one for New Years resolutions, that was a tradition that wasn't practiced in my family, New Years resolutions were some sort of a comedy that was enacted every year on tv, and in print as people told stories of how they tried to reform and change and how doing so was not as easy as it should be. So for us, New Year continues with catching up with family and friends, people that are important to us for a variety of reasons. In doing so we have opportunity to acknowledge the truly important things in our lives, each other, good friends, our good fortune in terms of health and  economics that we live in a place where living is good. Good is of course relative, for us that means we have reasonable health, access to good reliable care should something go wrong, enough to eat, educational opportunities, freedom of association, access to communication, and time to partake in the things that we find relaxing and enjoyable.

For me that includes knitting, this year there were 28 knitted projects (filed under 2011 in my Ravelry projects tab), eight pairs of socks, two and a bit hats, four blankets, three  washcloths, five hot water covers, 3 or so pairs of wristers, a linen basket liner, mittens, and I learned to make books and felt room-shoes. I contributed 3 articles to Entangled, a review or two to Context, and taught at KAN and Handmade . And as fits a knitter with time away from work - I cast on for new projects so the year would end with things on the needles.

Rosebuddie - Chart D starts
Deciduous Lace Shawl

Christmas Day I cast on a new baby blanket, Rosebuddie by Anne Hanson. I'm living dangerously with this one, as the pattern calls for 1000 - 1650 yards (914 - 1509 m) and I have 160g of 2 ply hand spun Perendale that is some where around 850m. I've compensated a little by knitting the smaller size, so fewer repeats of some of the lace charts, and by using slightly smaller needles. 3.25mm rather than 3.5mm. My plan is to put in a life line once I am about to start the edge lace and then find a compatible yarn to use for the border if I don't have enough of this to finish.

There was another project cast on shortly after Christmas, Deciduous Lace shawl by Evelyn Clark. I'm a 'newish' lace knitter, and so I tossed up between knitting E Clarks Deciduous and her Icelandic Poppy Lace. Deciduous won as it is the simpler of the two lace patterns, repeating over only four rows and with the even numbered rows knit plain. The yarn is a local one, Touch yarns 2 ply Lace weight with Mohair, dyed a deep brown green. So far so good but I have to pay attention to this one as I knit it .... the yarn is so fine and the lace so small.

Frogging ....
Then because I wasn't working and we had some time at home, I played. I've been admiring the decorative devices that some bookbinders use to identify their books, and I've been admiring the rustic wood-cut inspired stamps that are used by some craftspeople. After a while of admiring - there comes a time when I get tempted to try for myself. So I  tried to carve a frog ..... in lino. My modest goal is to come up with something I'd be happy to print as a 'signature' as a frontispiece in the books I bind. The other family members are also playing, Bear is working in the garage, Elder cub is modeling planes, and younger cub is knitting a doll.

Take care - I hope that the new year is rewarding, and fun and has as little stress as it can, and that there is time and energy for hand knitting and what ever interests appeal.

all the best for 2012
na Stella

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Boxing day here, the day after Christmas day. I was always told that boxing day was the day that wealthy Victorians went about passing on the food and other left overs to those less fortunate than themselves. I've also heard tell of Boxing day sales, particularly in the UK, where shoppers almost lost all reason in their haste to purchase heavily discounted items, particularly clothing and accessories. Here Boxing day is usually quiet, often is is an invite somewhere, and there are left overs, and of course the cubs (and adult bears) want to play with their new toys. In short mostly Boxing day is a mop up from Christmas day, eating the left overs, and finishing up Christmas things. Today - the washing machine threw us a curve ball .... yesterday after Christmas dinner I popped the table cloth which Bears Mum had embroidered into the washing machine  .... thinking it best to clean it before any food had a chance to settle and stain. Last night I pulled the damp table cloth out of the machine and hung it over the side of the machine ready to hang up this morning. This morning Bear went out to hang the table cloth on the washing line while I made breakfast coffee. Bear returned reporting that the table cloth was covered in brown 'mud' and that the washing machine had more 'mud' all over the inside. Long story - short, appears this washing machine has a filter, deep inside the agitator that we were unaware of .. and the filter was completely filled with years of wet lint. Filled the the point it was washing out of the filter and back into the wash, and it was mud coloured and  ... ewwwh! So our boxing day went in a mess of cleaning up the mess, including dropping a cloth between the agitator and the wall of the machine and fears of needing a repair visit to retrieve it. Luckily Bear is the sort of person who just works away quietly at things and he hauled the washing machine out and cleaned in behind and under and in the process the cloth fell out the bottom ...... What was boxing day like for you? Was it better than mine?

1950's style petticoat
The last two days of the 'before' Christmas week littlest cub and I sewed another dress and a petticoat. With each of the dresses she has asked if the skirt could 'pouff out', and inspired by rumors of a 1950's petticoat for sale at a local second hand shop (we went but it was sold), I searched out instructions and made one. I bought the bridal tulle and the bias binding, and already had the material for the top and the elastic. So far little cub has worn it every day and with every skirt and dress she has. I suspect that she will ask for another one, as I let slip that I'd read that girls in the 1950's sometimes wore more than one to make their skirts extra full. The dress is just like the pink one, but in blue plaid ....

Unravelled by Carrik, of Central Otago, NZ

Did you know that there is wine made for knitters? This is one that Bear brought home for us, Unravelled by Carrick, one of the Central Otago wineries. I've not tried it but Bear is good at reading and remembering wine reviews .. so it should be tasty. Carrick say  'The name is a play on our Carrick Bend Knot and represents a marketing decision to produce a very reasonably priced uncomplicated, upfront ("unravelled!"), enjoyable wine, with recognizable black cherry fruit and ready to drink now'... I like to think that its fibre rlated and  I'm happy to connect the two together in my own mind.
Owls, tatted and silver
Christmas brought other fibre things, these amazingly cute tatted owl earrings, from Suzanne, who is making the most amazing snowflakes right now. the larger sterling, Garnet and marcasite Owl was from Bear and is delightful, officially a broach I've temporarily hung it on a chain so I can wear it in warm weather.  With temperatures in the tee-shirt, light dress and sandal range I'm just not wearing things which will support a heavy broach right now - and I'm not prepared to wait until winter.
Rosebuddie starts
The little cubs with a bit of guidance from Bear gifted me chocolate and some patterns, Rosebuddie by Anne Hanson, Deciduous and Icelandic Poppy by Evelyn Clark. I finished the KAL socks Christmas eve so was all set to start something new  ... and Rosebuddie is now on the needles. I'm using fingering weight hand spun Perendale, and I love how the colour changes in handspun are so different to the colour changes in mill or hand dyed yarns.

and this is Yoyo doing her new 'thing', Cat-in-a-bowl'. Most days we come across her either curled up in the bowl or sitting and surveying her domain. She curls up in the larger bowl, and sits in the smaller of the two .. we have no idea why.  Bear suggest that maybe she has no idea why either. This behavior is new as far as we know, traditionally Yoyo relaxed on the front stairs or under the foliage around the garden .. the use of terracotta bowls is new. I suspect that these warm up in the sun and she has discovered they are soft, slightly elevated so dry and warm as toast. This has the whole family calling out 'Cat-in-a-bowl' whenever we spot her ... and stopping to look.
Cat in a bowl?

So - boxing day continues, the washing machine is back and washing, its Spin night tonight, and we are off to the Waimate Rodeo tomorrow so an early start.

take care

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

So if we are talking about foot size.

Youger cub has the smallest feet, then mine, then Bear slightly wider and longer than mine, and then elder cubs are longer again than any one else in this house. Then two of you tell me that Granddads feet are bigger than elder cubs? Really?
So if the KAL socks fit Bear .. they won't fit Granddad?

Bear - do you want another pair of socks? Oh you do? You like these ones and have been admiring them? Oh good, they are yours then.

Slip stitch heel pad and heel flap
So when I made the socks I made them larger for me, which always works for Bear, I kind of knew that my Dads feet were bigger, but thought that they were bigger in the way that Bears feet are bigger than mine. Socks that fit me - fit bear .. but now I learn that Granddad has much larger feet, large enough to require a more generous sock. I could frog and rework the sock, but instead I'm switching who this is for.  Sock number one is done, finished, the ends woven in and everything. The heel worked out beautifully, if the other one didn't need to match I'd play with starting the slip stitches under the heel in a 'V' pattern. Even better the heel flap seems nice and generous.
Slip stitch pattern transitioning into 3x3 rib
The slip stitch pattern is still subtle, or almost invisible depending on how you see these things. When worn and from further away I'd like to think the pattern was more obvious. I'm wondering if I used a more solid colour yarn if the pattern would show up more? I am not sure if the variation in this yarn is camouflaging or enhancing the slip stitches. If enhancing - then in a more solid yarn the effect would be even more subtle.  I did try and work the slip stitch pattern into the ribbing, and I chose a 3x3 rib to work with the 6 stitch repeat of the leg pattern.

Blue felted room shoes with leather sole
The two pairs of felted slippers now have soles (Thanks M!), my pair I stitched on using a slayed blanket stitch. Knowing that I really don't like to repair things, especially things once they are worn and dirty from scuffing around on the floor I stitched the soles on twice. First with a row of back stitches through the holes in the soles, then second with a row of blanket stitches. I figure that if one yarn wears thin and breaks that would still leave a second yarn holding the sole in place.

My first felted slippers, soled and ready to wear.

Bears were stitched first, and on his I worked a standard blanket stitch, and then a round of back stitching. Of course it is summer here and most of the time we are both barefoot or just padding around in socks inside the house .... but come winter and we are ready.

We are also ready for Christmas, the last of the post was sent out today, the sun is shinning so I'm able to keep laundry in check so it doesn't pile up. Elder cub is off earning money with his first paid job (car washing for a work colleague), younger cub is surprisingly calm about the whole idea that Christmas is 3 days away.  Bear has two more days at work .. and they are keeping him busy with lots of last minute deadlines. His present arrived today while he was at work so I've examined it, and wrapped it and hidden it ready for Sunday*. I might go and sort something easy for dinner (Indian crumb chicken with onion bhaji) and then knit some .......on that sock for Bear ....

take care

*  A fountain pen,  new,  Sailor 1911 mid size Maroon, with a lovely 21kt M nib and a bottle of Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo Night Sky blue Ink. I do hope he shares the ink, I've read about the Pilot Iroshizuku inks and they seem like one of the luxurys of the fountain pen world. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Then again, maybe its about making not the finishing?

Last post was about socks for Christmas, about how I thought I could finish a pair that was only a quarter done. By all rights this post should be proudly showing a finished sock and its pair well under way. But that is not the content of this post, instead there is pretty much the same sock with minor modifications at pretty much the same stage. What happened was that I made a mistake, I had the yarn in one 100g cake, and after I turned the heel on the first sock I wondered how much was left. I pulled out my little mini-digital scales and weighted the remaining yarn. Forty six grams (46g) which was less than half the yarn used and still one and a half socks to knit.  I knew I was knitting a large sock .....but was shocked to find I'd used more than half the yarn on one quarter of the sock,  so I frogged the sock back to the beginning and weighted the entire cake of yarn - to find the scales said 76g! Now I knew something wasn't right as it was a 100g skein of yarn so should be a 100g cake of yarn. I transferred the yarn to the scales in the kitchen - 103g, now that was more like it. Then I noticed a wee odd symbol on the small scales, and they were not at zero but sat at 34g when empty. Doh! I found I had frogged the sock thinking I had used more yarn than I should because the scales mislead me.

Still, I decided that since I was about to cast on and reknit then I could improve the pattern. I modified the slip stitch pattern a little - making it more dramatic, and managed to integrate the pattern even more into the toe shaping. From what I learned in knitting Mark I, I was able to tweak the pattern for Mark II so the heel was worked over an odd number of stitches and the heel slip stitch pattern was able to be symmetrical. I even tried starting the slip stitch pattern when half the the gusset increases were done, so that there was reinforcement under the heel. That may have been my undoing as slip stitches are shorter than plain knitting.
This was all going well until yesterday morning, when I asked Bear to try the sock on and check it fitted. Well it fitted but the heel was misplaced by 2-3 cm so the heel turn sat under his heel not at the end of his heel. I realized that  would be the slip stitches shortening the sole. Bother! I thought about the solution for most of the day as I got on with family things - and three possibilities came to me:
  1. The sock fit me, so I could just continue to knit and call it mine, after all Grandad would never know about the sock he didn't get, and I could knit him one for his birthday in April. 
  2. I could frog the sock, at least back to where the gusset shaping started and add in an extra few centimeters of length to the sole.
  3. I could park the project completely and knit something else until I wanted to return to knit this sock.
Now solution number one appealed but really at this stage I realized that  I wanted to work out how to make this sock work more than I wanted to finish this pair of socks. Solution number three didn't appeal at all, because I knew if I parked the sock I would return to it at some distant time in the future and I would have forgotten all the little details that I would need to develop it as a working pattern.  I make notes - but sometimes there are things do not seem important enough to write down but which are considered in desiging.

That left me with solution two, frogging back to before the gusset increases and adding extra length. Given that the gusset increases and heel were worked in only one night of trash tv, and there was bound to be  more trash tv that seemed the best solution. So this is where I am now, knitting the slip stitched heel for the third time, and nearing the end of the heel flap. At this moment I'm not sure if these will be for my Grandad as Bear is eying them up enviously, he has been ever since he tried them on. The socks have stopped being for Granddad(my dad- the cubs granddad) for Christmas and are now about me solving the problem of shaping a heel with slip stitches under the heel and a heel flap that is as tall as that on a conventional top down sock.

I've also been playing with blotting paper, those who are 'into' fountain pens and ink will know that blotting paper is useful, for quickly drying inky words so they can be slipped into envelopes or the notebook shut without smearing. I covert some of the tools of the scrap-booker, the beautiful papers and stamps and ink-pads in amazing colours. I especially covert the embossing equipment .. so much so that I splurged on a few templates. Not being into scrap-booking I didn't understand the difference between the single layer metal and plastic templates that one embosses with a stylis and the embossing folders that one passes through an embossing machine.  I bought two embossing 'folders' on-line, and then had to find some way of using them, once they arrived it was clear both were more work than one would want to work at with a stylis and being clear both were hard to see on a light-box. After a wee bit of experimenting I've found that a rolling pin, the kitchen type, is a fair substitute if you have the folders and no machine, so I've been making decorative blotting paper to tuck into my notebooks and into the Christmas cards of those who are into fountain pens. 
This is the cutsey owl using a Cuttlebug folder, and
a more grown up style 'Alfreds birds' by Craft Concepts. And I'm not the only one who has discovered that rolling pins are a economical substitute for specialized equipment. I'm not sure how many sheets of blotting paper one needs, but cutting up an A3 sheet into smaller sections and embossing them was rather fun .. and completely put me in the holiday relaxed mode.

take care

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Just one more

pair of socks to complete before Christmas. Today is the 14th and Christmas is a mere 11 days away. Really I'm not sure if the last pair will be complete by the official day or not. I hope so but will not stress if it is not. That there is only one pair to complete before christmas means that the Old school socks are done and put aside with the other gifts.

Here they are, in all their ruffled glory. Technical details, 54 grams used, which means 46 grams left, enough for a second pair without the ruffle maybe. Needles were signature 2.25mm dpns (lovely to use), pattern was made up, and is to be written up soon for sharing. Sized to fit a UK size 3 foot which is what younger cub has right now. Destined to be work with black mary-janes and a wedge-wood blue print floral dress (that is yet to be made). Or anything else that is cute and clean.

The final pair of socks for 2011, of the seven knitted this year, is KAL aka Keith A... L.... In the last few socks I have knit I have been developing some guidelines for my own use. Things that I always seem to be working out from other patterns and from first principles. Things that I feel I should 'know' or have an opinion on. Things like where the gusset increases should start on a toe up sock. What I have found is that every sock designer has their own placement and proportions - some of which don't feel 'right' on my feet or the socks I knit. When I was knitting top down socks the heel flap was worked over half the sock stitches, and the gusset was formed from stitches picked up from the slipped stitches along the edge of the heel flap. Because the heel flap seemed to be worked as  as square or to a length that equaled the width the number of gusset stitches seemed to be 1/4 the count of the sock. Many toe up pattern work with a gusset that is much smaller than the top down patterns I started with. I've been playing with where to start the gusset shaping as a proportion of the foot if I want the gusset to be 1/4 of the sock count. Having such a deep gusset will let me have a long heel flap - which is what I'd like to achieve in the socks I work to my own patterns. I'm not saying the socks that I knit that others design don't fit - they do, I'm just saying I want a longer heel flap. I've not yet discovered the proportion for the gusset to sole length that will give me the heel flap I want, but I have worked out how to wrap the slip stitches of the heel around the sole of the foot. I'll work the pair the same way as this one ... but in the next pair I aim to extend the slip stitches further along the sole.
CB tantalising sock 2 past the heel

This is not a new idea or unique to me, way back in 2008 I knit Cat Bordhi's Batholomew and in that sock the slip stitches continued under the heel. The idea that slip stitches create a double layer of knit fabric and the result is the slip stitched area is more durable appeals, and why should that stop at the base of the heel?  Bartholomew was was knit top down so continuing the slip stitches round the curve seemed a natural thing to do as it was worked. Now I think I've worked out how to start slip stitches from  under the heel ... and I'll test my method in the second of the pair just to check. This kind of discovery and problem solving is quite exciting and I only had to frog back and rework the heel cup turn-ey bit once!

Take care - only 2.5 more work days before I'm on leave/holiday :D
Just knowing that makes me smile, and yet I'm still pleased at how well the preparation for 2012 teaching is coming along at work.

na Stella

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Room shoes

Yesterday I attended a 'room-shoe' workshop. There was a workshop earlier in the year but with one thing and another I wasn't able to sign up. This workshop was at short notice ... and coincided with elder cub hosting a sleepover for 5 friends .... so we negotiated. The sleepover had to start once I had returned from the workshop. I'm not sure elder cub agreed but he understood that if he wanted a sleep over - those were the terms. Turns out that he is a good host, he diligently made sure all his guests had sleeping bags and pillows and knew where the amenities were, and he played host all night refreshing drinks, organizing snacks, and suggesting entertainments. That is a side of him that neither Bear or I had seen before and one we are impressed by.
But Room-shoes, these were made for Bear at the workshop. They started life as 50 grams of grey polworth and 70g of purple polworth fibre. Machiko talked us through the felting properties of various fibres - and Polworth appealed as it felts into a smooth dense surface. In her 'other lives' (and like all interesting people she has several) Machiko lectures product design and makes the the sort of jewellery that I want to buy whenever I see it. Machiko provided all the materials for the room-shoes, and template for making baby shoes right up to large Bear sized ones.  I chose to make the larger size of the sizes on offer, as Bear has bigger paws than I, and in the class was a little worried that I had not felted them enough t fit Bear. Once home Bear tried these one and they fitted just right - how cool is that?
I blanket stitched around the opening tightly with sock yarn to reinforce the edge and stop it stretching. The largest sharpest needles I had on hand were bookbinding ones and they worked well for this.

Today I decided that the best way not to forget how to make room shoes was to make another pair, so I did. Once the extra boys had been returned to their respective families. Perendale in apple green on the inside and Gotland bright blue on the outside.
I've trimmed the opening, but not yet bound it. I like the idea of binding this with fabric but probably will just blanket stitch with sock yarn like the first pair. Because this pair were for me - I adapted the template a little, cut it narrower and shorter.
Both fibres felted beautifully, and now they have to dry. The weather is windy and threatening to change, so that may just happen inside near a heater tonight. The plan is to finish both pairs with leather on the soles so they are durable. Even just wearing felted shoes inside is enough to wear the soles thin  - so it makes sense to add a more durable layer.
One of the best things is there is only a teeny tinny bit of left over felt once the foot opening is trimmed. I brought the scraps home from the workshop and put them in the compost, and will do the same with these scraps .... I won't be able to do that with the leather scraps, as leather is pretty durable stuff and not the best thing to add to a compost. I like this method of making slippers or Room-shoes, its physical but only takes a few hours, far less involved than knitted clogs.

Meanwhile younger cub has already requested a pair, and Bear has seconded that she could have a pair and even gone so far as to suggest they be in purple .... so it sounds like there may be  a few more pairs made over the summer holidays .. if only we can find a source of leather for the soles. ...

take care
na Stella

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Sock and sock, or part sock and part sock.

Today there is a quick post, one and a half weeks left of work before the 'long holiday. Today had an extra treat at work because  Allison Goodrum was in town, and had arranged a visit to see the fashion school. I went all groupie and asked her to sign my copy of National Fabric, which she did, apparently never have been asked before (or so she said).  I have a sneaky suspicion that academics are thought to be above such things, taking copies of books to be signed ... but hey, if some one is able to put together a book that I want to read, and think has value, then why not ask. After all I've asked Annemor , and I know people ask the Yarn Harlot.
I've been knitting away at the last minute sock, with good progress. Look! I'm up to the gusset and might even make a heel tonight.
On KAL the slip -stitch pattern is working but is very subtle, more subtle than I expected. So subtle that I felt the need to highlight the slipped stitches so you could all understand what I hope the pattern looks like. In this image there are three columns of chains  created by slip stitches, the one to the left is highlighted, and the others playing hide-and-seek. I'm trying to work the bars behind the slip stitches tightly to dramatize the effect a little more, but as this is superwash it may all even out in the wash. My hope is that this effect is subtle enough to not scare a conservative man, and that with wear and washing the slip stitches might tighten and the chain pattern show up more as time goes by. There were a few other reasons to work this slip stitch pattern, first I liked the effect on a previous pair of socks, and perhaps most of all I wanted something that was interesting to work. Plain stocking stitch is fast but so-boring.
Because I've been busy on the KAL socks, and enjoying the subtlety of the slip stitches I've been ignoring the other project. Some small progress has been made ... but I am not yet working the heel, perhaps I can work them both at the same time?

The other thing that is on my mind right now is a semi anxious wait as I check the mail box each day to see if one of the  younger cubs Christmas presents has arrived. An ebay purchase of a sparkly mid 1980's marbled-pink fountain pen, quite inexpensive and just her style right now ...... you know it is almost as exciting to wait for things for other people as for oneself! Today a fabric rep called in to show his wares and those of us teaching 'practical' subjects had the fun of choosing fabric for the next years classes. Amongst all of that I found a pretty blue floral that I 'had' to order 2 meters of to make a new summer dress for younger cub. I must be getting old and forgetful as I ordered two lengths of fabric but can't remember what the other one is at all, I know it is pretty and 100% woven cotton,  - so hope I will be pleasantly surprised when it arrives in a few weeks.

Still haven't used the fabric I bought the last time he visited ....... so many fun things to do, so little time to fit them all in.

And if are into knit-geeky things like darning and mending and you don't follow Kate Davies blog, or do and have not caught up with her Worn post I do recommend a visit, I'm almost embarrassed to say that I've only just read that post. I tend to 'save' Kates posts for when I have time to savor them. 


Saturday, December 03, 2011


usually KAL means Knit along ... but in my family  KAL is the initials of my Dad. Yesterday with only 22 days until Christmas I cast on a pair of socks for him. Our family takes Christmas quietly, there are traditions amongst us around gifts, for my dad we search high and low until we find a vintage tractor calender, and usually we add a generous gift card at a supermarket or hardware shop. This year I was knitting socks for both cubs and decided that my dad, their grandad probably needed a pair as well. The impetus was finishing the Bigger on the inside socks. So today there is the finished socks, the the socks that are one-point-four done, and new socks. With three socks discussed in this post today is indeed a sock day.

Bigger on the inside, all done, and on the lawn. This many daisies worries Bear, right now he is mowing the lawn. Details, Pattern worked toe up based on the cuff down Tardis Socks tribute pattern by Ellen Botilda, 2.25mm needle, circular, yarn a custom one off from Vintage Purls. Yarn left over = 11grams, Sock sized up to 72 stitches, as that cub has large paws. Interesting detail -  I worked the gusset in one by one rib, which may be something I do again.

You can just see the lines in the gusset that the rib creates, to get the lines running this way I placed the increases on the sole edge of the gusset. This was the bit that I frogged and reworked - just to get these ribs all neat and tidy - and they sort of work well with the slip stitched heel flap.

The Old school socks are making good progress, up to the gusset already. Once the heel is done on these - there is very little left to do as they are quite short. There is only one thing I would change if I was to work these again, so somehow integrate the pattern into the toe shape more --- I'm growing dissatisfied with socks where the pattern just starts once the toe is worked but haven't yet sorted out what my approach will be to integrating the sock instep pattern with the toe. Which leads me to ....

.... the KAL sock, here  I've tried to work the sock decoration inside the toe - in a very simple way. This yarn came with a sock club in 2009, Vintage Purls, and was intended for the sock design Mandorla. It was the most 'grandady' of the yarns I had in my sock drawer that I was willing to sacrifice for some one else. That sounds mean - but there is a lot of pale blue grey, and blue, and pink in there that wouldn't be appreciated by Grandad as much as by me. Selecting this yarn did make me aware that I should widen my colour selection if only to have yarns I want to use for other peoples socks. Pattern is one I made up, slip stitches in columns with a 'chain' or 'square' of slip stitchs every 9th and 11th rounds.So far so good and knitting up fast so promises to be done by Christmas - or perhaps it can be a New Year sock?

Take care, life here has finally returned to normal, the mad rush of ballet practices and concerts is done. There are no more weekend classes - although I do have a promise to older cub that once ballet was done he could have  sleep over for 5 friends, so there is that still to survive. there are only two more weeks of work, and school before the long summer holidays begin... and that feels timely and nice.

na Stella

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nearly the right size!

Short post today, things are busy - in a good way, not too busy to post but there is not a lot of knitting or other 'things' to post ... so short post.

First up - Bigger on the inside socks are nearly done. Elder cub is away at camp and with no need to keep the Tardis inspired colour work around the top out of his sight I've been able to knit and knit and knit. these should be almost done tonight. Wednesday night is trash tv night here, Big Bang Theory followed by the Borgias, both showcasing opposite extremes of behavior in an odd way. Two hours of trash tv should get me well into the  ribbing.

Second up is I've a new article out, in Entangled (I'd link to the contents page - but I can't find it - sometimes I'm hopeless that way). I'm feeling all starstruck as in this issue I'm rubbing pages with some of the fibre  worlds superstars like  Jacey Boggs has a regular column (Well done GrannyG - Editor of the stars !) Expert weaver Margo Selby explains her progress from new graduate to commercially viable hand weaver and designer- and I love reading how she came to terms with making her work affordable without loosing the craft designer. Then there is some hand knit fashion talk, Joanna Davies (Knit forward Fashion Back) - explores  how hand knits work in the fashion world. There is even an article on Tatting - a craft that I have dabbled in and one that I think is overlooked by many but possibly more portable and creative than knitting and crochet combined.  My article is titled Impoverished Craft, and I've tried to explore the relationship of scale in crafting.

so thats me ...
back in the weekend, two more nights of ballet rehearsals (4pm to 7pm for the nine year old) and then the show proper Friday night and Saturday - Sunday we might all need a relaxing sleep in and and brunch out some where nice and relaxing.

take care

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Not just knitting

Hello, during the week Bear went digital, this is a man with a Nikon F5 film camera and previously no wish to use a digital camera at all. Digital is something I've encouraged, seeing my photos as I make them allows me to make better photos. I can't imagine waiting weeks for a film to be finished and then printed, but Bear is old school - and that is cool. The result of Bear deciding to try digital was my lovely Panisonic Lumix camera went out on a site visit with him and wasn't here for me to use - no mid week photos means no midweek post. Not that there was much here to blog, a sock is growing, I've plied two skeins (no photos sorry), and today I made a bag. The bag was a project that started out as a repair and before I knew it there was a new bag in the making. I'm working away developing a 'teachable' book for November continues to keep me busy - but the end is in sight. There are several 4pm to 7pm ballet practices this week, Monday and Wednesday, and a full ballet concert this Friday and Saturday, I'm not sure who will be the more tired, little cub who has to rehearse and dance or the parents who have to prepare, transport and feed the ballerinas and then watch the whole recital.

So a growing sock, Bigger on the inside the second is half done. The corner turned and the leg commenced. Soon I will be able to play with the colourwork at the top. There will be more opportunity this week as elder cub is away to school camp from Tuesday morning to Friday night. Without him in residence I can happily knit on his sock without discovery.
Little cub plays Ukelele, she has done for two years now. The classes are held at her school and are free - one of the retired teachers opens up the library and runs 3 classes a week, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Thank you Miss G! Every Wednesday littlest cub takes her pink ukelele and trots of to class after school, most weekends, and some mornings we hear her singing and strumming away in her room down the hall. The bag it came in was thin and had started to tear in several places. As eldest cub is off to camp we had the sewing machine out and I was stitching labels to the things we least want him to loose. Seemed a good time to do a few repairs, stitch a belt loop back on, top-stitch a hat band in place, and repair the ukelele bag. The fabric of the original bags was - well it wasn't fabric, it was a thin non-woven with no structural integrity at all. Originally I thought I would over-stitch the popped seams, but on inspection I found the seams had torn, and there were holes and tears in a few other places. The next step in the repair ladder seemed to be to open up the seams and patch the thin and worn places ... so Little cub and I started to unpick the bag. As we unpicked it seemed that the best repair would not to be to patch such thin fabric - but to cut and sew a new bag.

I hauled out the last of a roll of denim that I had used to make cub-trousers when both were smaller, and my sewing box. Little Cub chose a cotton quilting print of Paua-shell  to accent the denim fabric. Little cubs nickname is Doodle ... so that seemed a fun word to personalize her bag. The applique was outlined in machine zig zag stitching, each letter in a different thread colour, and that seemed a nice feature to carry through to the handle and the zip. Little cub outlined the 'L' - didn't she do a grand job? She wasn't sure about the 'E' - as it had lots of corners and turns, and left the curved letters to me.

We even added a wee pocket to the back, to keep her picks in, with enough space to add a ukelele tuner later (she is getting one for Christmas but dosn't know that yet).

And I've been working away to develop a nice book to teach bookbinding with at Unwind next March. The class is only a few hours so I've been working out how much I can expect people to sucessfully get through in that time,  And I've been playing with materials, these two are stitched with different weights of linen thread. I like the thinner one better, less dramatic but the stitching holes are smaller and the thread adds less bulk to the book.

I've also been playing with this method of attaching the covers to the book-block (pages). The standard method dosn't use a flyleaf - which is something that 'nicer' books have. The problem with adding a flyleaf is how to stitch the cover to the book-block and not interfere with the unglued flyleaf. Took me the 'map' journal to get my mind around the 'how' and the yellow journal to refine adding the back cover so the inside looked the same. Soon I need to 'test' my teaching on some one to make sure that this is achievable for some one in my class, no point having a method that is so fiddly that no-one else can follow is there?
I've also been playing with paper, the ivory is 80gsm Claire Fontaine, and the white is 90gsm HP, both take fountain pen ink and pencil well which is important. I'm also playing with printing a knit grid on some of the pages, and different methods of stitch binding using the 'coptic' stitch. Heavier paper makes for a book with more of a 'high-quality' feel, and I've already discovered that the covers and flysheets are much easier to glue if thicker paper is used.

Take care - I'll be back with more knitting mid week if the ballet and camp and work dosn't derail me again. There is only 3 weeks until school (cubs) and work (mine) finishes for the year - then there is our long summer holiday break. The end is in sight!

na Stella

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Today it is all about the progress - two socks, one done, one nearly done with the impressive bits done. In keeping with progress - there is a decision to abandon a poorly thought through project and a new project jumps on and nearly off the needles.

First up - the Old School sock is one, and a second one started. I still have reservations about this sock - the frill is larger than I imagined - but the littlest cub coos and fondles and thinks they are so pretty I shouldn't change them at all. I will keep an eye out for lace edge that is smaller and suitable for use as an frilled edging on a bobby sock.

I've started the second toe and managed to reverse the shaping so the increases on each sock spiral out and mirror the other sock. I didn't want the usual toe, the one with increases at each end of the sole and instep stitches but I did want a toe increase with four repeats or sections. Figuring that the usual toe involved a cast on of two sets of 8 stitches then increased four stitches every second round I rejigged that to fit neatly on dpns. I cast on 8 stitches, increased in each stitch on the first round to get 16 stitches and then every second round increased in the last stitch on the dpn for the  first sock and increased in the first stitch on the dpn for the second sock. So now I have  just the boring bit - where I work the chart until ready to increase for the gusset now.

Second up in the report - Tardis socks made good progress this week - mostly as the older cub tended to work in his bedroom rather than watch 'boring tv' with his parents most evenings. He is off an age where reading Harry Potter or about Aliens is far more fun than watching tv - and I'm keen to promote the reading - so we are keeping him supplied with library visits to stock up on whatever he fancies. The sock is being worked in reverse order - toe up rather than top down.   The chart was easy to reverse - I just turned the page upside down. I also worked the colour work on needles 2 sizes larger, so 2.75 mm not 2.25mm, just because I needed to make sure the colour work would stretch enough to go over the heel and around the calf.  There is another 12 or so rounds of 1x1 rib and then this one will be done.

The next project is the one that is about to fall off the needles, frogged.  I've already reknit this one, adding more stitches. This is a whim project, as in one I cast on in a whim, thinking I knew enough to just wing it. Seems I don't or rather I didn't think enough about what was required to make this work. Now intellectually I know that cables draw knit fabric in, they reduce its ability to stretch - and the more cables and the more stitches cabled, the more drawn in is the knit fabric. So when knitting this I completely ignored the fact that having 5 cables around a tube that fits the wrist - would make that tube tight. This fits - but it feels tight. I had thought I would give this away  - there was an opportunity to have it knit ready for latter this week. I'm now rethinking that and this will be frogged and parked. Besides its spring, wet and warmish rather than cold - hardly weather to gift warm cabled hand knit wristers. Mental note to self - 60 stitches even when on 2.75mm needles, using sock yarn, cabled rib is not enough to fit a wrist comfortably.

And this is the fast and furious project that jumped on and then off the needles, a pair of red wristers. I've been invited back to teach at Handmade again. I've offered to enable new knitters by teaching them how to make a wrister. This is a project I developed first for littlest cub, then for WWKIP 2011 and it is designed especially to give beginners the skills they need to start and finish a project in one lesson. Working the wrister involves casting on, casting off (to make button holes), casting on again ( to complete the button holes), weaving in ends, and then knitting to the length you need. It involves only 25 stitches and a few hours. I know that this hasn't got purling or shaping - but in a 2 hour class I don't want to confuse people. I figure that once people have  knit a wrister or two - they will be ideally positioned to pick up purling and increasing or decreasing. So this sample is knit in Max - the Vintage Purls dk sock yarn - superwash merino with a hint of nylon for durability,  in reality this is blue-redder than this image but its a grey day here and my camera seemed determined to add a little orange to the red.

Well its raining, again, has been on and off heavily all day. It is now late afternoon and all the cubs have come home, as is Bear - late afternoon and time to bunker in for the evening. I'd best go and put on the coffee pot, there is lemon syrup cake (a glut of lemons has been gifted to us), crisp ginger lemon cookies in the shape of bunnies, dog bones, flowers and hippopotamus (Bears favorite), elder cub has made chocolate cake and wants a hand with fudge icing. Littlest cub returned home from a play date with afghan cookies. Rain does that - makes the kitchen inviting, and I don't mind one bit. I had planned nachos for dinner but perhaps we need something healthy and green to counteract all the baking? Then again perhaps Nachos is a perfect way to end the weekend?

Take care

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Change of name

As a user of Ravely (there goes the drug terminology again - user), I am used to naming my projects. and sometimes the names come easily, Bubbles and Toad. Other times the names are perfunctory such as  Bears Paws 3, yes surprisingly the third pair of 'back paw covers' I had knit Bear. Then sometimes the names are nothing but a description, 'nother big blanket being a good example, or Miuaik (or Making it up as I knit).

All in all the challenge of naming projects is at times beyond me - and the names are not very inventive, take for example one of the latest socks, originally titled Ice sock, because of the pale icy blue colour yarn. As I knit the sock an idea formed, the sock was pretty, covered in traveling stitches that grew from 2x2 rib and formed a delicate lattice. I liked how the twists paired well with the icy blue .. and began to think of the socks as pretty girly socks. The kind of sock  I wanted as a wee girl but don't remember ever having, lace trimmed bobby socks.

The more I considered these socks as pretty girly socks, the more I wanted to add a lace ruffle to the top edge and keep them short - ankle length.
So I did, I finished off the short leg but closing off the traveling stitches into a standard rib, and worked a turning round of K2togYO, followed by a knit round. Then I searched through all my lace pattern books looking for a narrow lacy edge that I could work as a sock frill. In one of my earliest knitting book purchases, Heirloom Knitting for Dolls by Furze Hewitt I found two seconds on lace trim and the Fan Lace on page 76 seemed perfect. I do like the way the eyelets transition the rib to the lace ... I'm feeling quite proud of that little detail and might have to use it again some where. 

Nothing is every that easy, I worked a few repeats and realized that the lace was rather wide even though it was only on 8 stitches so I rejigged the lace to fit into 6 stitches. I made the lace 'frill' a little by working a join to the sock row every forth row. So far so good, littlest cub has pronounced them 'pretty' and asked if they can be house socks. Perhaps the frill is a little OTT (Over the top) if she wants to keep them for house socks?

When not adding extraneous frills to socks I've been reworking the cabled wrister. Apparently 48 stitches on 2.75mm needles was little to few, so I've frogged and upped the stitch count to 60 stitches. I suspect the stitch count could be even higher - but  whilst the cast on was easier the fifth time around I'm not in a hurry to practice it again just to add a few more stitches. I also added a round between cable twists .... and the cables seem more relaxed. Funny how a bit of space will do that to most things. Looks like there will be plenty of yarn for two wristers. It is a nice yarn, dark chocolate black - something left over from something - perhaps Tripple and the inside collar of Toad.

take care