Sunday, 5 July 2020

Weekend Frog: A Cautionary Tale

I'm currently knitting a new version of this using the same yarn, in cream/beige. It's not very interesting yet, but I am going to add a racer back when I get to the top, when it will become a bit more challenging.

In search of a challenge, therefore, I pulled out this. It's been a while since I worked on it; it may even be that I haven't touched it since 2018. It's a 12 row lace repeat that patterns on every side, although once you get into the rhythm of it, as I remembered today, it is quite straightforward.

What was less straightforward was working out where on earth I had stopped, on the pattern. I remember vividly thinking, you need to make sure you stop this in a place that is obvious so you can pick it up again. Well, good thinking past Sally, but would it have killed you to write it down in your project notes? I couldn't figure it out. I was staring at it for over an hour. It helped when I realised I had finished on a wrong side row - this epiphany took a good 20 minutes to arrive, which is utterly tragic. In the end, I counted the stitches and did some pattern maths, and worked out I had finished on a row 6. I duly began knitting row 7, only to realise that, probably the reason why I had had such trouble is that I had messed up the last row I had knitted, and managed to knit half the row from one pattern row and the other half from another. So I tinked back the new knitting. I tinked back part of the row of the old. I knitted anew. It all came together.

This morning, I picked it up and started again. I have no idea what went wrong, but it went really wrong, very quickly. This is a pattern of carefully placed circles and it's not forgiving of mistakes. I tried tinking but I had lost track of where I'd restarted and decided that it was a lost cause, since I'd clearly not restarted in the right place and couldn't work out where it should be. So I frogged the lot. Except, it's a pure silk single, so I frogged about half of it, cut the yarn and gave the rest to the kittens to play with, because it was getting a bit ratty - now I see that I've frogged it before, the first time I tried.

Maybe I should give this up as a lost cause .... but, third time lucky. 

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Lockdown FO

I am cheating on this a bit and backdating it to when it was actually FO'd, although I have been waiting for pictures of its recipient wearing it to write about it. 

Such a little cutie, my niece!

Pattern: Crumpets
Yarn: 4 balls of Rowan Calmer - discontinued now; this has been in my destash for ages. 
Needle: 3.75mm - I should have gone up a size to 4mm, it ended up being pretty bullet proof
Mods: Very few. I knitted a beaded bind off instead of crocheting a picot edge because, as we know, crochet = dark art. Likewise, I avoided crochet straps and knitted on icord straps with little beaded ends. 

This pattern had been in my queue for about a decade - it was on the first page. I think I had intended to knit it for Jen's daughter Abi, who is now 10...possibly 11. The beaded bodice came out beautifully but it was pretty fiddly to knit. I was so looking forward to the skirt part, but then that had double the number of stitches and was boring as hell. The Calmer is splitty and feels weird to knit with, being ridiculously stretchy. I spent ages stringing beads for the bind off, only to come across a knot a few rows into the new ball; I cut and restrung, and then decided that the beaded bind off I liked to most was done with a crochet hook, so it was all for nothing.

So yeah, not my favourite thing to knit! - which is a shame, because this pattern goes up to 6 years and I'd love to make her another. Definitely not in Calmer, though. 

This bind off is divine, even if it did make me want to throw the garment across the room in frustration. It took 3 days. I slipped a bead onto a stitch, knitted it, slipped it back to the left hand needle together with the previous stitch, and k2togtbl. It's lucky she looks so cute in it, haha. 

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Weekend FO and WIPs

I keep coming across caches of yarn that are not listed in my Ravelry stash. I don't like it when this happens because it means that, when I knit it up, I can't clear something out of stash. Reading that back makes me worry about myself but, there it is. 

This ball of yarn was one such missing. I bought it from Pook online around NY 2018/19, prompted by Jo at knitting group who knows I am a fan of the watermelon. When I saw this Star Trek comm badge inspired pattern by the Yarniad, I knew that it was made for this ball.

Pattern: Engage
Yarn: One 100g ball of Pook Gradient Cake Merino Nylon sock yarn. The pattern called for a yarn that had 100m or so more in the skein, but I just knit to the end of the ball and was happy.
Needle: 3.75mm
Mods: None needed, other than making it a few repeats shorter. This was the easiest pattern I have ever come across, I think, short of a straight st-st scarf. It was done in about a week. 

I keep meaning to take post-blocking photographs. I blocked for length rather than width, so it has become a long, airy wisp, that folds lengthways to become a compact cowlish thing. I love the colours.

Now thinking about that OTHER watermelon gradient I got at Wonderwool and never listed on Ravelry. Sigh. 

Once this was done I got straight onto the baby dress I am knitting for my niece, mainly because I talked Mr Z into stringing the beads for me and I didn't want to look this gift horse in the mouth by putting the yarn back into a bag and not touching it for another year. 

This pattern is called Crumpets and has been in my queue for about 10 years - it was on the first page. The yarn is Rowan Calmer that has been listed on my destash page for ages but nobody was interested. I was surprised, people love Calmer. I'm not loving it, though. It's so stretchy. I think I should have gone for a bigger needle but the gauge seems to be working. I'm knitting the 1 year old size, thinking that my niece will be able to wear it next December when she is visiting her Peruvian family. But I'd like to finish it and get it off to her soon, just in case she outgrows it before then. 

I love, love the beaded effect but, omg, what a hassle. It would help if I learned to cable without a cable needle but it is still a faff, purling two together tbl. I was thinking of making this in a 2yo size too but I think I'd better be honest with myself and go for the 4yo size because I think that is how long it will take me to pluck up the nerve. I've seen some great versions of it with the beaded bodice and a fabric skirt, though, so I'm sure I will have another crack at it - only this time, I will get Mr Z to string way more beads than the pattern calls for. I used about 50% more than were specified. Had to cut the yarn and restart it. Annoying.

And then, there have been some more of these...

I haven't knitted a pinwheel since 2017 so I thought it was high time I started on some of those double skeins I've got stashed. This is a LE I bought out of someone's Ravelry destash. It's a lovely combination of soft blues, very restful. I've smashed out four this weekend. Expect another four by...well, Christmas, maybe. 

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Recent FOs

Lockdown continues to do wonders for my knitting productivity. It's getting the point now where I am slightly resentful of having to spend all my weekdays sitting at a computer and working when I would rather be knitting. The very nice thing, though, is that I find I don't have to do any work in the evenings or at weekends, something I mainly attribute to the loss of my exam classes, meaning I'm really only planning for 11 hours of lessons a week (and some of those are double ups). I've certainly been very busy during the day but my leisure time is my own.

Ergo -

Pattern: Climb Every Mountain
Yarn: Triskelion Mona Sport, a lovely blend of silk, alpaca and linen. This took about 4 and a quarter skeins.
Needle: 3mm and 3.5mm
Mods: I knitted an extra pattern repeat at the bottom and 6 extra garter rows on the sleeves. I knitted 5 rounds of ribbing around the bottom edge, instead of the icord bind off.

This is a really comfortable garment to just throw on and feels wonderful against the skin. I can imagine it being a good post-yoga top as well as good for the beach, hence the inspiration for the photo shoot. And I managed to complete the whole garment in under 2 weeks! I was very pleased with myself.

No sooner was that done than I dived straight into this -

Pattern: Flutter Sleeve Cardigan, Interweave Knits Spring 2008
Yarn: John Arbon Knit by Numbers, so long in my stash that the label still says 'a new yarn', just under 4 skeins
Needle: 3.25mm, 3.5mm, 3.75mm
Mods: I knitted it in the round instead of pieced and added a reverse st-st line on either side where the seam would be. I picked up and knitted the button bands instead of knitting separately and sewing on - I used the smallest needle and calculated the stitch count using the same formula applied to the sleeves, which came out ever so slightly bowed on the middle needle, hence using the smallest one. Both of these mods were partly due to not enjoying seaming and partly due to working this pattern in a sproingy merino instead of the drapey silk blend it was meant for - I just didn't think this yarn would have the sag to necessitate the structural details.
I haven't knitted the tabs for the sleeves, yet, but I might add them in if I can find buttons I like for the sleeves.
You can't tell yet, but it will only have one button instead of two.

This garment is the one that has been in my queue for longest - since 2008. I bought this yarn in 2021, specifically for this cardigan, and I had even wound one skein of it ready to begin. I am really pleased I've finally managed to get round to it. It took a little longer - three and a half weeks - but then it was term time by the time I made a start on it.

In both cases, though, I am annoyed by the yarn requirements being so under what the pattern specified. I have more than a whole skein of Knit by Numbers left and most of a skein of Mona, and I was knitting to the correct gauge both times. Where does leftover yarn go to die? At least I could pair the Knit by Numbers with the leftovers from the Wonderwoman jumper for something. Maybe little felted toys or something.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Lockdown knits

Well, this is a weird old world, isn't it?

I went home from work on March 20th, fully expecting to be in on the Monday, only to find a rota drawn up which I appeared on just once before the Easter break. To begin with this was jarring: I can't work a hundred miles a minute and come to a complete stop. However, I have found it actually quite easy to slide into a plateau of idleness. I've lost nearly half my timetable hours now that there is no summer series. I've gained weeks of time in the summer now that there is no summer series. What will I do?

Well, naturally there's been a lot of knitting. I finished this:

Pattern: Ravello by Isabel Kramer in size XXL - last year I was knitting her Westbourne so it seems the year has to always begin with a Kramer 4-ply sweater, because I started this in December.
Yarn: Isager Strik Tweed, bought in Copenhagen in the summer, in Topaz (2 and a half skeins) and Navy (2 and a bit skeins); Freyalyn BFL/Dinegal Nep, bought at Wonderwool in 2014.
Needle: 2.5mm and 3mm.
Mods: Almost none. I didn't even knit a bigger top than bottom. I did stripe the full sleeve instead of just half, however - the Freyalyn is so pretty that I couldn't just save it for the meagre stripes dictated. And the sleeves are a little longer than dictated, on account of my gibbon arms.

It's a lovely fit and I really should put it on for pictures, but there doesn't seem to be as much time as there should be, really.

Wanting something quick and easy, I moved straight on to a big tit.

This was a Sue Stratford kit I bought at Wonderwool in 2016. It was satisfyingly quick - the whole thing knitted up in a day and then I made myself find stuffing for it so the sewing up has begun. It's not yet finished because I'm debating stuffing some catnip in the middle. We're getting kittens later this month (SO exciting) so this might make a good plaything for them, although it is considerably bigger than either of them will be when they arrive.

Then, I cast on Climb Every Mountain using yarn I bought in the Triskelion sale last Wonderwool.

It's not a cape - it's a cape-like jumper. I have been desperately plugging away to get to the division for the sleeves and reached it today, one week after starting. Because the sleeve division is so low, this leaves me with only 62 rows left, plus the sleeve cuffs, which means I'm on course for this to be my second fastest garment ever, a record currently held by Cabo da Roca which took me 24 days but was (a) in a DK weight, not sport, (b) only 840m where this is going to be (my best guess) 1100 and (c) not knitted during a period of enforced sitting. In fact, my fastest garment ever, a camisole I knitted in 6 days, was completed during a period of enforced sitting, so this is obviously a good portent.

That said, I've got a sore shoulder and neck now. It might be from the resurrection of Wii Fit boxing, but it might be from the endless rounds of st-st in front of endless episodes of anything I can find that's good to watch (Tiger King, Grey's Anatomy, Unorthodox, The Crown, Ozark, the repeat of Wolf Hall...).

The colours are nothing like I'd normally choose but they are really glowy. I remember being torn between these two and a delightful spring green, which would have matched the tan quite well, but I'm not sorry about my choice (in fact I probably just wish I'd bought both, this is nice yarn to work with).

I can imagine throwing this on over my swimsuit at the beach and looking like a massive, luscious, custard cream.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Sunday Selfie

Just proving to you that I'm still alive -

It's been a busy couple of months. I went on the ski trip to Northern Italy (it's ok, no sign of the virus) so, as usual, large chunks of my mental energy were taken up preparing for that. I had a job interview for a job I wasn't sure I wanted, which I (therefore luckily) didn't get, but it was a very big job and the application and interview prep used up all remaining mental energy. I haven't even had time to re-read the first two Wolf Hall trilogy in preparation for the third part finally being released this week.

But, here I am (was), drinking a margarita in TGI Friday's last month, being sociable. More soon, honest.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

2019: Part 4

Now fully back into the swing of things at work, in spite of this, October had some nice events. The very first day was a trip to Drudle Door, in my new role as Head of Geog. And excellent reason to have that job.

Mr Z and I spent the second weekend of the month camping with the DofE crowd. My group gave me additional grey hairs; his were a dream, of course. It was fine all day but then rained all night, and it turns out that our silly festival tent from several years ago isn't waterproof, as we discovered at 3am. Mr Z considered going outside to put the gazebo up over the tent but I convinced him to just throw the tarp over our sleeping bag and we'd go back to sleep, a decision I regretted an hour later, when he turned over, disturbing the tarp, and I got a faceful of freezing rainwater. This whole drama played out to the accompaniment of a thumping drum'n'bass soundtrack, courtesy of some party somewhere distant, that went on until 8am. It wasn't what you'd call a relaxing night of camping, tbh.

The following weekend was much more pleasant, as I went off to Devon on Thursday night, spoke at an inset on Friday, spent two nights with my old friend Amanda and went to a party in honour of one of her friends, drove around Dartmoor for a bit getting lost and watching the rain and met my friend Caroline and saw her new house. A very pleasant time. Then it was back for an exam board meeting...less nice, but then less than a week to half term.

I spent the first weekend of half term in London, attending a nerdy teacher event on the Saturday, doing a nerdy history visit to Elizabeth I's lost dress at Hampton Court on the Sunday, and combining the two for a nerdy history teacher event on the Monday, which was a focus group, for which I was paid. A lovely little break, that was.

(Lost dress just about visible in the background)

At the end of half term I spent some time recording a new podcast I've launched with another nerdy history teacher. So far it seems popular.

I blogged so much in November, you must be bored of hearing about it. It was a relatively quiet month. There was knitting. There was working. I gave blood. I played Trump in the silly staff play. I went to Friday club a couple of times, for a change. I mostly worried about how I would make it through a busy December, and tried to prepare.

What a whirlwind the month has been! Even if I hadn't made the decision to gracefully fail to meet my target of 127 posts for the year, I don't think I would have made it.

The month started with the ubiquitous visit to the Bath Christmas markets with Caroline and Vikki. Mulled wine was quaffed. Puddings were bought. Dinner was eaten. Work was complained about. All pretty standard.

Also in this week I had a ski meeting and a hustings at school, and then at the weekend I flew off to see Jen in Edinburgh, where I promptly came down with a cold and spent most of the weekend wanting to be asleep. Not a good way to start yet another eye-wateringly busy week, this one ending in a mentor meeting at the uni on election day, the carol service, a sad, empty, post-election mood and a visit to Hampton Court with 50 lovely students...

(felt like this though)

...and then a catch up with Sib and Sib-in-law (so pregnant she almost couldn't walk), a hair cut, some Christmas shopping and a really fun party in Twickenham to celebrate Burhan's birthday, at which I took no pictures because there were too many interesting people to talk to. 

And then it was week 3 which was just as frantic but only filled with nice things, really. Monday night was Christmas evening in with Kath and Jo. Tuesday night was the work Christmas do...

...Caribbean buffet and all the rum punch we could drink. Winner. Then skiing!

With lots of cheese.

And then back for Christmas.

And since then it's just been sitting around, relaxing, trying not to think about the work I need to do. The new niece has been born and I'm off to Belfast for the first weekend of 2020, but then London for the second weekend, to meet her. Happy New Year, everyone!

(Yes, I fully cheated and wrote this after new year, but it's my blog, so...)