There were lots of different reasons why I decided to take up knitting at the start of 2010. Having picked up Debbie Stoller’s Stitch n’ Bitch late last year – at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, of all places – succumbing to The Knit was somewhere near the forefront of my mind. But the real catalyst was when I heard in early Summer last year that one of my closest friends was going to have a baby.
After eight-and-a-half years together, since meeting through friends at neighbouring halls of residence, my friends were married in May last year in a stunningly wonderful service and reception at Kings College in London and the Waldorf’s Palm Court. I was lucky enough to be the bride’s maid of honour and even then I was very excited by the prospect of little tiny pattering feet. Only a few months later, that prospect became rather more real as they announced their happy news and thoughts of knitting tiny things for tiny people started to pepper my thoughts.
This is the first of my completed endeavours – a tiny Tomato Hat. The parents-to-be didn’t want to know the sex of the baby until birth so I had to choose something fairly gender-neutral for this first knit and given that I’ve only finished five other projects to date, it couldn’t be anything too complicated! After looking around on Ravelry, Michele Sabatier’s Baby Berry Hat looked to be an excellent choice: simple without looking too easy and, most importantly, really rather adorable. Being festooned with red hair, as I am, I thought a tomato would be an excellent choice to enable the child to learn at an early age that being a redhead is nothing to be ashamed of. The yarns are RYC Cashsoft DK in Poppy (512) and RYC Cashsoft Baby DK in Sage (818), the colours of which are closest to those modeled by Ted E. Bare in real life. Incidentally for anyone who hasn’t seen or heard of Ted E. Bare, I do urge you to check him out on YouTube alongside ventriloquist David Strassman – making him a suitably cute model for the tomato hat. I have a feeling the hat’s recipient is going to be just as cute though – can’t wait to meet them!
Having presented my Mum with her early Mother’s Day / Birthday present over the weekend (I know, it’s cheeky to combine them but one, they are always very close together and two, I’m still a very slow knitter!), she’s kindly sent down a couple of photos to show off her new cowl.
It’s Jane Richmond’s excellent Marian cowl knitted in simple seed stitch and while it’s far from complex, I really love the effect. Using Rowan Big Wool in Mulberry, I took my lead from a few other Ravellers knitting it in the same yarn and cast on a full 99 stitches so it could be double-wrapped for added cosiness.
Having used Big Wool for my last two projects, I’ve really enjoyed how quickly the bulkier wool knits up and found it strange going back to projects on smaller needles afterwards. Sadly now that the days are getting warmer, I think I’ll have to put much of Big Wool stash aside for later in the year or risk sweltering in chunky knits come June. Sigh!
To anyone who has visited this blog over the last few weeks, I can only apologise. It’s been a few weeks since I posted anything like a regular update and I’m feeling incredibly guilty.
My only excuse is that work is entirely crazy at the moment as we’re about to launch a new phone in India so I’ve spent the last couple of weeks in sterile (and not-so-sterile) airports, unfamiliar hotels and various cabs in between. Sadly this time spent away hasn’t been particularly productive on the knitting front either; Indian air authorities have been pretty hot on the no-needles-in-the-air rule and most evenings have seen me too frazzled to concentrate on much other than simple stockinette and BBC World News on a loop. I promise you that business travel isn’t nearly as exotic as it sounds and anyone who says otherwise has never been to Delhi.
I have managed to get a few things finished though: an early birthday / Mothers’ Day present in the form of Jane Richmond’s Marian for my Mum (which I neglected to photograph before giving it to her so am hoping she’ll send over a pic of her wearing it so I can upload it to Flickr), Handmaiden’s In an Evening Toque and the first of two Great Weekend Mitts from the fabulously-named Lick the Light Switch blog by Wonderfallz.
The second I saw these armwarmers on Ravelry I knew I had to make them. The pic above doesn’t show them in their full final glory – I still had to add the ribbed placket down the left seam (non-functioning in my case – let’s not get over-ambitious!) as well as add buttons sewn down the placket at intervals. After some stroking in stores and some poking around online, I chose to knit these in RYC Cashsoft 4ply which I adore, both for its super-softness and the great range of colours. Because I’m clearly on some sort of mission to knit almost exclusively in grey and purple (or so it would seem) I went for a combination of silver-grey and darker granite to which I’ll add a black placket with black shiny buttons. Very much looking forward to the finished pair and the cosy wrists they’ll produce.
The In An Evening Toque is another fantastic pattern. Again it was a Ravelry find and again once I saw the pictures I knew it was something I’d have to cast on for me in yet another shade of grey. The yarn here is Rowan’s Big Wool in Oxydised, after I fell head-over-heels for this and another couple of shades on eBay. Handmaiden was kind enough to email the pattern to me directly as she was having some problems with her blog at the time and I’m incredibly grateful to her for doing so as I adore this hat. I tend to wear hats quite low on my forehead and so prefer those that are loose and unpatterned enough to avoid leaving brim imprints on my face (never a good look when at work!) and this fits the bill perfectly whilst also being incredibly cosy. Highly recommended.
As an aside, it’s also worth noting that the In An Evening Toque does exactly what it says on the tin. I am by no means a fast knitter but even I was able to knock this out in a couple of hours whilst half-watching telly. I now understand why knitting with big wool is so immensely satisfying! Mum’s Marian was also done in Rowan Big Wool (Mulberry) and completed in a couple of evenings – hoping to post some pictures of this soon.
In the meantime though, I apologise for my blogging absence and promise I’ll be less of a Dunderblogger over the next few days.
It’s been a quiet few days knitting-wise so I don’t have too much to report other than wishing one and all a very Happy Valentine’s Day. While I’m usually a bit “bah humbug” about a day devoted to commercialisation, fluffy things and general lovey-dovey-tude, I will confess to being a little bit won over by a gorgeous bunch of flowers from my Boyfriend (whose scarf STILL remains unfinished – I know, I know!). Plus I’m in the process of knitting a tiny Henri bear for my friend’s almost-newborn and despite being rather short on the limbs front, he does look rather adorable already.
A brief evening’s respite has finally given me a chance to update my Flickr feed with the two items that have been keeping me warm in London’s current Siberian winds: my Super Slouchy Beret and my Buttermilk Sky Cowl.
I’m really happy with these, the cowl in particular. They’re both exceptionally cosy and – somewhat marvellously – they kind of match each other without being too, y’know, matchy. I’ve posted a few more pictures on my Flickr site and while they’re a little bit dark they’re pretty accurate. Only less fluffy than in reality.
The sneezing season has got the better of me and I’m currently working from home to avoid infecting my coworkers with what feels like an Alien-style facehugger on the inside of my head. Vastly unpleasant. However, I thought I should make up for the lack of pictures in my last post by adding some photos of version two of the cowl, minus wine and associated atrocities.
I cast on my second attempt at the Buttermilk Sky cowl on Sunday and am progressing nicely, having realised that by using a 40cm cable I can just knit in the round and not worry about magic looping for a change. It’s slightly tight at times, but I think that’s more to do with my tension than anything else. With any luck I’ll have this one finished with enough time left over to knit the second one for my friend’s birthday. And no, I haven’t touched a drop since Friday.
They say pride comes before a fall. I don’t know if it’s pride that drove me to it – complacency or over-ambition seem rather more likely – but fall I did.
I’ve been knitting a cowl recently, another magic loop affair while my boyfriend’s scarf languishes idly by (not completely idly though, as it’s recently become my portable project for when I’m sitting on the train to and from work and as such is progressing nicely). It’s a slightly more advanced pattern than those I’ve completed to date, with slipped stitches, yarnovers and psso’s aplenty. It’s also a dry run for the cowl I’d like to knit for a friend’s birthday present in the suitably indulgent Fyberspates Scrumptious DK yarn– purple for me and deep pink for her – meaning I’d quite like to get it right.
All was going well. I’d cast on the requisite number of stitches, got to grips with the twisted rib border and even made a start on the first round of the pattern – pretty good going for only two evenings’ work. The third evening’s work was preceded by dinner and drinks with two former colleagues, both of whom were a little late in arrival: half an hour or 1.25 cocktails, if you prefer. As the evening progressed, wine was ordered, stories were shared and any recollection of New Years resolutions was pushed aside with the arrival of the dessert menu. It was a lovely night and one that finished surprisingly early as we each trundled towards our respective stations at a respectable 9pm.
Arriving home to find the house empty, I allowed a small snicker of delight at the fact I could continue my cowl without fear of neglecting my boyfriend and his scarf. Set up on the sofa, I had my wool on one side, more wine on the other and endless QI repeats on the telly courtesy of channel Dave. And so, I knitted. I knitted long and I knitted fast (for me, anyway) and sped through line after line of the pattern into the early hours before eventually succumbing to a Rioja-induced slumber in bed.
This morning I woke to the sound of birdsong, gentle breezes in the trees outside and a decidedly grumpy thudding in my head. Have you ever had a morning where you can hear yourself blink? Well… precisely. My first thought was water. My second thought was the cowl. Getting through to the living room was no mean feat but once there I understood what my fuzzy subconscious had been trying to tell me: badness had happened. In my haste the night before, I had managed to drop, add and k2tog stitches at random to the extent that there were now holes and ladders running down multiple rows. Some sections looked flawless while others were disastrous; overall it looked less like a cowl and more like a tea cosy, assuming the teapot has between five and seven spouts of varying height and girth.
I’m ashamed to say I ripped it all, then and there. I’m still getting to grips with remedying mistakes and in this case there were so many, my addled brain didn’t know where to start. The yarn, while being beautifully soft, doesn’t really lend itself to ripping and so I’m still picking up tufts of purple fluff from around the sofa and the rest of the house. But I’ve rescued most of it and I’ll make a fresh start on it again tomorrow, minus wine. Lesson learned.
I have a confession. Oh God, I’m not even really sure how to say this, so I’ll just have to come right out and say it: I’ve been cheating on my boyfriend’s scarf. It doesn’t mean anything and I don’t even really know why I did it. But you were away and I was online, just having a look and all ready to carry on with the scarf and then I saw this really easy pattern. For a hat. I’m so, so sorry.
At first it was all new and exciting because I was knitting in the round and I’d never done that before. One minute I was casting on and the next minute I was looping the magic loop like there was no tomorrow. And it was wonderful, odd baggy ladder stitches aside. Within days I had something resembling a hat as it took shape in front of my very eyes, as the scarf lay abandoned at the end of the sofa, all straight and ribbed and scarf-like.
But I’ve ended it. I just couldn’t take the deception any more: the endless lies and cover-ups as to why the scarf wasn’t getting any longer despite my feverish knitting episodes; the guilt of secret post-work trips to Peter Jones to buy a second skein of Rowan Cocoon in Bilberry; the knowledge that my boyfriend was so looking forward to the scarf that I’d cast aside in fickle pursuit of a slouchy hat. I’m done. It’s over. And rather pretty is it too.
Having heeded Wikipedia’s warnings, I’ve started on a simple 2×2 rib stitch scarf for the other half. The simplicity of this was actually at his request; having knitted a swatch of the stitch used in the Sinful Ribbed Scarf by Classic Elite Yarns, he took one look at this and declared it was a bit ‘girly’. So rib stitch it is.
After hunting around for some suitable yarn, I stumbled across a few scarfs knitted in Lion Brand Wool Ease (Oxford Grey) and found it was a fairly cheap buy from online shop Café Knit in NW London. The other half agreed that this was an appropriately manly colour and upon its arrival was satisfied that it would provide the requisite masculine warmth and (ahem) softness.
Having already done one project in 2×2 rib, I’ll confess it’s starting to get a little dull. Still, I shall stick with this project and hope to avoid any of the Sweater Curse pitfalls, including the dreaded aversion. Here’s hoping.
Having practiced my rib stitch to the extent that most household surfaces were showcasing bumpy coasters, I thought it was about time I started an actual project. Nothing too big; a scarf seemed rather too long-winded while anything cylindrical was out of the question, after a four minute YouTube video on circular knitting left me thoroughly baffled. So what to do?
A quick search on Ravelry (favouriting patterns and ideas that were far beyond my meagre skills) suggested I attempt an iPod sock: a simple, no-nonsense knit in 2×2 rib stitch with a contrasting band at the top that would keep my phone safe and cosy. The excellent Texere Yarns yielded some lovely King Cole fingering yarn (in dark blue – shocker) as well as a pretty sparkly glitter yarn in a similar, but suitably sparkly shade (Midnight). Within days the yarn arrived and I was underway.
All in all, it was remarkably quick and simple. There are some uneven stitches, a few holes and let’s not begin to mention the dodgy seam down one side but it fits my phone and manages to look suitably impressive as very novice efforts go. I’ve even had a request from a friend to make one for her iPod, though you can bet I’ll be practicing a little more before I let any of my concoctions leave the house. So project number one is done and dusted. And it’s not too bad.