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still knitting

My workplace is presently a bit strange because everyone is restless (not only those who are going but also those who are staying). So I try not to focus too much on what’s happening there, despite knowing that I have a lot of work coming my way as a result of that situation.

As ever, in order to retain my sanity, I’m still knitting. Honest, I am. I’m still knitting the Easy Lace Cowl because I decided to make it deeper (yes, I made progress on that during the week while commuting). I’m still knitting Eldest Niece’s mittens (yes, I have done a couple more rows of that second one but haven’t yet picked up for the thumb). I’m still knitting the latest hat (halfway through a shaping row and wondering if the cables are going to be lost in the colours). And I’m still knitting the lattice scarf (wow, that’s an amazingly quick knit but best not attempted when so tired you can’t keep your eyes open and definitely something where you do not want to drop a stitch).

I’m also still knitting that Noro Silk Garden scarf that I started for Eldest Son’s 40th-birthday present. You might recall it morphed into something more sober and serious that my menfolk assured me he might actually wear (I don’t know if he does) but I didn’t unpick what I’d already done. I rolled it up and put it away in one of my many calico shopping bags. I picked it up for my travel knitting on Sunday, wanting something gratifying but not requiring huge amounts of concentration – I needed to be able to identify sheep and crops and participate in conversation, you know – and being a straightforward 1×1 rib, it was ideal for the purpose.

So I’m still knitting quite a lot. I’m just not finishing anything.

And now I have an emergency sewing project: some more toobs, please, because one is lost and the weather is getting too chilly to be without such a thing. OK, I’ve tracked down the black polar fleece, must be close to locating the white and am clearing the sewing table. Back soon!

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how YoungB sees it

Middle Aunt rang a little while ago and we passed the phone along the family. While it was YoungB’s turn, Middle Aunt must have asked him if I was around, because his response was that I was staring deep into my knitting! Quite so. I’m working on a frilly scarf, made with one of those lacy, lattice-type yarns (for the life of me, I can’t find the ball band) only because I’ve reached a point with the beanie I’m making where I need to decrease and keep an eye on cable rows and, because they don’t always happen on the same rows, I can’t do all of that and watch TV. The lattice yarn I can just about wield to some purpose and still get the gist of whatever the TV show might be. Horses for courses, you know? I hope your weekend has provided you with many opportunities to stare deep into your knitting, too.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in Knitting

 

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laundering

You remember that blue top I made for Nonno? I asked Dr B today if its recipient regarded it as OK and did he want another? Dr B’s response was that he’d put the top straight in the laundry basket when he delivered it so he didn’t really know whether the fit was good or not, but he thought it should have been. I was a little puzzled by that, I admit, because the fabric had been washed and, you know, I hadn’t been trampling it on the ground or anything. I said as much. Dr B admitted that he’d had an accident with a box of liqueur-soaked cakes and the top was, uh, one of the nicest smelling he’d ever encountered! But, alas, not able to be worn without laundering. Oh. And, yes, please, Nonno would like another. Fine. That can be done. Now that I have the pattern sorted out, you’d think it shouldn’t really take me all that long.

Knitting has been the thing this weekend. I’ve only a few more rows do to and the White Caps Cowl will be finished. I’ve packaged up the crocheted orange rose and the knitted red scarf to take to the yarn bombing coordinator – they’re not large contributions, but every little helps and I would struggle to knit more articles between now and 7 December, which is the deadline; I’m not a fast knitter – then I need to turn my attention to aprons and lavender bags and other Christmas sewing.

I hope you’re making great progress with all your Christmas projects. I usually end up sewing till midnight Christmas Eve – which is really Christmas Day, I know – because I’m not well organised. But I get there. Good luck with your efforts!

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2012 in Crochet, Knitting, Sewing

 

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replicating the toob

Bikes, whether of the pedal or motor variety, bring attendant problems, among which are to be found helmets and what you have to do when you’re wearing one and the weather is cold if you want to keep your head and face warm. (That made sense, didn’t it?) You want to be warm but not hot. Whatever keeps your head and face warm must not fall down when your helmet is pulled over it. There should be no bumpy adjustment mechanisms. Such things are OK with a pushbike helmet, where they don’t run into the helmet, but problematic with a motorbike helmet which covers a lot more of the rider’s head.

Dr B had what he called a toob – it might even be a Toob, though I think one of his other pieces of paraphernalia is an actual Toob – and Boy borrowed it to keep his face warm during his five-days-a-week motorbike ride into school. Winter here is nowhere near Antarctic in its coldness but it’s cold enough and although Boy loves the knitted balaclava I made him, it’s not quite the solution it could be because it’s too bulky under his helmet (even though I knitted it in soft yarn and sewed it up using a very flat seam, there’s just not a lot of space in a motorbike helmet, which is as it should be, of course).

The toob covered the bottom half of Boy’s face and didn’t need to go under his helmet in the way a balaclava does, so it was a winner. Except that it tended to pull down a bit when the helmet went on and the adjusting knob had a tendency to dig in but, you know, despite those disadvantages it was warm and not bulky. I offered to sew an imitation toob using black polar fleece (already in my stash, left over from sewing a supporter’s scarf for our first Head of the River regatta nearly five years ago) and sewing in some elastic instead of an adjusting knob. Boy and I discussed what width and softness of elastic we should use.

The other night, I sat down and made one, which is really a prototype in the sense that the elastic was a bit hit and miss and perhaps a firmer one than I should have used (I didn’t have quite enough of the softer elastic we’d decided on). But the toob doesn’t pull down when Boy pulls his motorbike helmet on and it keeps his face warm (he’s already used it for several short rides to shops), so, even if it’s a prototype, it’s functional.

Black imitator on left, blue original on right (showing knob adjuster)

I couldn’t say it was difficult. I mean to say, how hard is it to sew a simple tube? One side seam. Hem top and bottom leaving a small gap at one end to thread elastic (I could have made it with an attached elastic, but I didn’t). That end will be the top, because you pull the toob over your head and adjust it so your nose is nice and warm. It required only very simple sewing, which I can do reasonably well. Boy could have done it, but he was busy with homework. The toob works fine. I recommend such a thing if you’re looking for a quick, easy project (and you have a cyclist of some variety or other who’s looking for such an end product).

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Cycling, Knitting, Rowing, Sewing

 

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of perils and pickles

Elderly needles come with attendant dangers. Namely, they’re fragile and if you’re not careful they might break. Actually, they might break even if you are careful. Then you end up with this.

I only almost screamed

That was my lunchtime nightmare. I’d knitted a few rows and was carefully putting away the bag with the project when I felt the needles snap. Obviously, I’d put pressure on them somehow. I was extremely fortunate that I didn’t lose any stitches. Not one. The break came above (or below; Dr B and I can never agree on such directional indicators, so I’ll simply tell you that the break was between the stitches and the tip of the needle and you can choose whichever descriptor suits your world view) where my work was carefully pushed to the end, so I very, very carefully picked up the bit of needle that hadn’t broken and to which the stitches were still clinging, and wrapped a rubber band around the end to prevent them falling off. I couldn’t knit on the bus on the way home. Oh, dear.

And then the next part of the pickle is that, as you might remember, these needles are between sizes. I know, unequivocally and without even looking, that I don’t have any others the same size. What to do? Knit loosely on the smaller size? Knit tightly on the larger size? If it were only a row or two, I could probably do something like that. But this is going to be a lot more than a few rows. My solution, I think, will be to knit with one larger and one smaller and hope that somewhere in the middle means that the difference between the original and the newer bits won’t be noticeable.

That is, I’m hoping it will be less noticeable or no more noticeable, I haven’t quite decided which, than the changeover of yarn. I’m using the same colours and the same dye lots, but there’s a sharp contrast between the older section, which is quite soft, and the newer one which is very bright although mostly on one side. Again, what to do? I’ve no solution to that one, other than unpicking entirely and working the whole thing with all four balls of yarn on the go so that all the colours alternate and any differences between balls of the same colour are not so obvious. For a Thursday night deadline? You’re right. I’m not going to do it. The joy of a lovely, long, warm scarf is that it’s lovely and long. I would never finish it by Thursday if I had to do it again. I’m even leaving the mistake where I knitted one stripe of four rows rather than two (I blame a loquacious colleague for distracting me at that critical changeover point).

What would your solution be for such a drama as broken needles and no others the same size?

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Knitting

 

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sometimes reading a book is better than knitting

I know that sounds a little like heresy but there’s a reason I say it. I was knitting Eldest Son’s scarf on the bus yesterday morning and I could see that something about it just wasn’t quite right. For the life of me, I couldn’t put my finger on what. The yarn wasn’t split or twisted but there was something that jarred on one edge. It wasn’t a bright morning and I was a bit cramped so couldn’t get a good look at what I was doing. Therefore, between that and being very tired, I only knitted a couple of rows then simply rested my eyes for the rest of the journey.

On the way home, the bus was too crowded for knitting. I was in an aisle seat and thought that, even with my wonderful short needles, I’d be risking a few dropped stitches if I knitted. Besides, I had a new book to read, so that’s what I did: enjoyed the first few chapters of Garth Nix and Sean Williams’  Troubletwisters: the Monster.

The problem was just a couple of reversed stitches

Once home, I spread my knitting out on the sewing table, stoked up my work lamp and easily spotted the source of my unease: I’d made  a mistake, somehow purling where I should have been knitting in a couple of spots. It was a good thing I hadn’t knitted lots of extra rows. As it was, I was able to drop my couple of stitches back a few rows and fix the problem quickly. I might not have been quite so cheerful if I’d carried on knitting regardless of my concern and then had to drop back a lot of rows. Reading is such a good thing!

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Knitting, Reading

 

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gauging by reactions

I’ve mislaid my knitting needle gauge (I’m reasonably sure it’s about the place somewhere but I truly cannot track it down). I could probably get by without it for a while but, as I have a lot of old needles and some of them aren’t obviously marked with a size, it’s something I would eventually need (assuming continued absence of original, etc; and it’s been missing for a while).

Cue present situation with scarves on size UK 8/US 6/4 mm needles. I thought the pair I picked up to start on mark II of Eldest Son’s scarf (Dr B and Boy both reckoned Eldest Son unlikely to wear what I was busy with; in fact, Dr B said categorically that he wouldn’t) were about the same size, but to both eye and feel, they were a little thicker than the metal needles I’d been using for the other scarf. That’s perfectly possible, too, as knitting needle gauge can vary somewhat especially with older needles and different countries; my lovely long, pink Italian needles that I pretended were UK 10, and which claimed to be UK 10, actually aren’t (discussion below). They’re somewhere between sizes but it didn’t matter. I used them anyway and I absolutely loved, and still love, how l-o-n-g they are (15 ins/39 mm or so of good workable space and a bit to spare). That they’re pink is an added bonus because it means they’re extra easy to find.

So, anxious to get started on the next version of the scarf and absent the gauge, I went with the flow. I mean, it’s a scarf. No biggie. Instead of Silk Garden which was decreed too bright for Eldest Son’s austere taste, the scarf is now in two close shades of Cleckheaton Country Tartan (both with a blue base). It’s looking good and it’s lovely and soft and will be very warm. It’s quietly understated and my colleagues think it should be just the shot for A Man (any man). Boy and Dr B, I can tell you now, are less convinced of its appropriateness for Eldest Son although they think it’s perhaps more his style than the Silk Garden scarf.

Long pink metal and short aqua plastic needles

However, I thought I’d better replace the needle gauge because I might need to be more precise about something in the future (near or distant). The last one accompanied some magazine or other that I bought when I was living in England. I don’t suppose the magazine was expensive and I probably bought it for the gauge (perhaps it was an English Women’s Weekly, given their fabulous knitting patterns one of which could well have caught my eye) rather than specifically the content.

I tracked down a sturdier gauge (it’s a pack of two for the wider range of today’s readily available size of needles) whose appropriate slot tells me my old needles, instead of being “maybe UK 8/US 6/4 mm” are actually nearer “maybe UK 7/US 7/4.5 mm”. In fact, they are a size somewhere between UK 7/US 7/4.5 mm and UK 6/US8/5 mm. However, the gauge is confusing, too, setting out equivalents that tells me precision in needle sizes is not a firm concept at all.

It states that 3.5 mm needles are UK 9/US 4. Then it assures me that UK 9 are also equivalent to US 5 and 3.75 mm. My 3.5 mm needles say they’re UK 10, which the gauge recognises as 3.25 mm/US 3. Who’s right? I suppose you pays your money and takes your choice but there is an extent to which it doesn’t matter, so long as you use the correct size to obtain the correct tension/gauge (more confusion around terminology). I’m not giving up on my old needles just because they don’t fit the gauge because the scarf is looking nice.

You might say the scarf likes the old needles and I here admit that so do I. As I said, I do love my pink Italian numbers but the very length that makes me love them means I couldn’t use them on the bus. Those I’m using now are short, which means I can knit on the bus without fear of stabbing anyone or having to adopt a cramped style to avoid annoying someone sitting in the next seat. They’re plastic. Actually, they’re probably bakelite, I don’t know; I believe they’re what might be called vintage (they once belonged to my mother). They’re soft, anyway, and don’t hurt my hands or make them ache. They’re quiet (mind you, I don’t make that much racket when I knit anyway). They fit into my handbag. And what is more, they’re aqua. (Excuse the quality of the photo, my phone was handy and the real camera was not.)

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Knitting, Musing

 

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