Knit Bob Purl :: Probably more knitting. Probably less penguins.

Knit Bob Purl

It’s Been A Long Time

December 8th, 2008

There has been knitting though. I finished my Laminaria and blocked it on the guest bed (it was too large for the blocking board that I received as a birthday present). Blocking it was really scary as I was afraid that I would put my hand through it or break the yarn somehow. To be honest, I could have stretched it out more than I did, but I will know for next time.

I should have stretched the shawl width-wise, across the shoulders

I should have stretched the shawl width-wise, across the shoulders

I am so pleased with it. I can hardly believe that I made it. As soon as it was blocked, I started a scarf from Nancy Bush’s Knitted Lace of Estonia. I have no pictures yet, but it is lovely. I am doing nupps for the first time which has been fun. I can understand why some people don’t like them, though. Apparently I am quite a tight knitter (I have to go up at least a couple of needle sizes if I want to get gauge) so nupps are quite a challenge for me. I have to completely let go of the yarn to have any hope of catching all of the stitches on the way back (nupps are knitting into the same stitch and then doing a yarn over many times – it turns one stitch into many. On the next row those stitches are all purled together, which means getting the needle into five or seven stitches depending on the size of the nupp).

I also cast on for this season’s “must have” accessory – the Silk Garden Striped Scarf by Jared Flood. Although I am using Kureyon Sock yarn in the rainbow colourway. I originally bought the yarn to make a shawl of some kind (I love the long colour changes), but when I got the yarn home, I realised that my dad might really like to have something made from it (I made him a scarf last year that was a complete disaster. It is my one failure so far!).

This is a photo of the first go at it. I cast on 55 stitches and worked the scarf from there. Unfortunately I made a complete mess of the slipped stitch edging (see my comment about knitting tightly above!) that I didn’t thing would be corrected in blocking. I also wanted to keep open the option of slightly felting the scarf, and I felt that it was slightly too narrow to do that.

I frogged the lot and started again with a cast on of 70 stitches. I made a concerted effort to keep the edges loose, but I am still unhappy about how it looks. The edge where the yarn is carried up the side looks sloppy to me, and I may frog it again.

However, the post man has just turned up with my knitpicks order. My grandma wanted to buy the kiddo a warm jumper, so I asked her if she would like to buy the yarn and I would make him one. Both the pattern (ravelry link) and the yarn (the dusk colourway) have now arrived, so everything else is on hold until this is finished. I need to complete this before my parents leave so that they can take pictures back to my grandparents of him wearing it. Wish me luck!

Socks, Heels, Ramblings and Japanese Short Rows

September 22nd, 2008

A lot of the blogs I read are talking about the change of season and how it is energising them to get their knit back on. I don’t think that I have been knitting for long enough to notice how the seasons affect my knitting. I have had lulls and surges in knitting activity, but that seems (so far) to be more to do with what is going on in the rest of my life rather than any kind of regular pattern.

Recently though, there has been quite a bit of knitting activity. I have been plodding along with the laminaria, although I don’t have any updated pictures. I seem to pause for a while after making a mistake because tinking back two hundred or more stitches is a real pain in the arse. I have finished the blossom charts (all eight of them) and am at the beginning of the first edging chart. I really really love this pattern and may even consider making a second one (which is unusual for me as I don’t normally want to knit anything more than once. Second sock syndrome anyone?)

That was put on hold a while ago when my first Three Irish Girls shipment came. The yarn was so scrummy that I had to cast on immediately. I decided to use the pattern that came with the club, but I am having regrets now as the busyness of the yarn overwhelms the pattern. I am through the heel and gusset of the first sock, but I haven’t worked on it for a while. The beckon yarn base is just fantastic to work with. It is quite tightly spun and yet so squooshy. I am not sure how well it will wear, being 100% superwash merino but I have never worn any of the socks that I have knit so far, so I am not really worried about that!

Here are some in progress pics:

Barrow socks in progress by Three Irish Girls

You can see how the pattern is being obscured by the colours

And here is the beautiful heel

And here is the beautiful heel

I also picked up one of the Sock Madness socks again (after a break of I don’t know how long) to knit my first ever Japanese short row heel. I had tried it a couple of times before, probably when I was quite tired, and didn’t get the hang of it and ripped it back. This time I managed it, and it was fun. There are still holes that I can see, but maybe with practice I would be able to change that. I have only done the one heel so far. I will do the other one soon so that I can finish the socks and free up a pair of size 2 needles. I have been holding off on casting on any more socks until the ones on the needles are finished.

My first japanese short row heel

My first japanese short row heel

Making a heel can be done in two ways (as far as I know at this point). You can either knit a big flap at the heel and then pick up stitches around it to start knitting (there is another step that reduces the number of stitches at the bottom of the flap which pulls the flap around your heel and prevents it from being baggy) or you can knit in short rows making a triangly shape that forms the heel. (Basically, turning a heel means changing the direction of your tubular knitting by 90°. You can either do all 90° at once (which is the heel flap) or you can do 45° at a time (which is the short row heel). I am not sure that I have explained that properly, but I hope you get the gist.)

The problem with short rows is that each time you turn your knitting to work in the other direction, a small hole appears at the turn. A regular short row heel gets around this by wrapping the stitch at the turning point with the working yarn. The wrapped stitches are left on the needle as fewer and fewer stitches are worked on (working towards the point of a triangle, the wrapped stitches are the wider sides). At the point when the number of working stitches is narrow enough for the heel of your foot, you start knitting back into the wrapped stitches one by one, which brings the knitting round the heel. As you get to a wrapped stitch, you pick up the wrap and place it on the needle which reduces the appearance of holes.

A Japanese short row doesn’t have any wraps. Instead a safety pin is attached to the working yarn at the point where the knitting is turned and when you return to that stitch, the pin is used to pull the yarn onto the needle (and then removed – it would be uncomfortable to walk on all those pins) and is knit together with the stitch. It sounds complicated, and it can be if you are used to wrapping. But it is actually a really nice way to close the holes up.

Still very little knitting content

August 10th, 2008

I haven’t done any knitting at all for a while now. This is partly due to the whole Final Fantasy Tactics A2 thing, but also because I am trying to deal with some really shitty health news. As with all these things, it takes me a while to absorb and digest the information before being able to talk about it and put it out there.

So I have a bone tumour on the inside of my left pelvic bone. It isn’t huge, but it could be causing all my problems. At the very least I think it is causing all my leg pain. Chances are that it is benign and is just one of those weird anomolies that happen. Hopefully it is causing *all* of the problems and once they whip it out I will be back to normal, but I am not holding my breath.

Until they fix me, I am a rattling pill repository. (Which has side effects of it’s own – namely a complete lack of appetite). And although I am spending lots of time in bed, the idea of knitting, or doing anything really, is not appealing. This has changed a little today, and I am hoping that I will feel like doing more soon.

I did manage to knock out a pair of booties for a fresh sprog who I will always think of as Number 6 (even though he has a very nice name), and I now have a fancy new camera to photograph my knitting endeavours with. I need to learn how to use it properly, but I don’t think these photos turned out too badly.

Baby booties

Baby booties

There was some yellow pooling round the side of both booties

There was some yellow pooling round the side of both booties

I think they came out quite nicely

I think they came out quite nicely

Completely Off Topic

July 16th, 2008

There may be a lack of knitting content for a while due to my enabler husband persuading me to play Final Fantasy Tactics A2. There was some hope for my knitting when I discovered that the shoulder buttons on my DSlite are completely broken (meaning I couldn’t select players to go into battle), but as we are a two DS household I am able to use the trusty old DS chunky that I gave to Yoz when he bought me the small shiny black box of heaven.

There *has* been some knitting – I finished the biological clocks, I am putting in the afterthought heels of the round 4 Sock Madness socks and I have made a start on the round 5 ones (a lovely, easy stitch pattern that makes them a fast knit). I got over the last hiccup on the Laminaria but have now made another mistake that needs tinking back to fix. I ended up with the wrong stitch count after knitting whilst watching TV. Serves me right, really.

A Year On…

July 2nd, 2008

I have been knitting for a year now. At the start of the summer holidays last year I went to imagiknit with my friend and her son and bought the yarn for my first project. (I had already bought some yarn and needles on ebay that I used to do some basic swatching – learning to both cast on and bind off which I had never done before)

My First Swatch My First Swatch

Unsurprisingly (for anyone who has met me) I bought a black and a red ball. I had a vague idea that one started by making scarves, which is what I planned to do. As I neared the end of the first ball, I had to go back to the shop to find out how to join the second one to it, and they were really helpful and supportive. I ended up buying another ball to add on to the other end as I cast on for a rather wide scarf without realising it! I am quite proud of my first project, even though one end is quite a bit wider than the other (you can’t see it in this photo though).

My First Scarf

And now I am desperately addicted to knitting. I am actually quite amazed at myself for it. I didn’t think it would be my thing. I have never been particularly crafty or arty in my own time, so this has taken me by surprise. I always thought of knitting, sewing and crafting in general as not being as valuable as scientific endeavour. These were not going to broaden my mind like studying and reading would. I did spend quite a while doing origami and knotwork, justifying them to myself as being more mathematical crafts. But now I am able to create for the joy of creating. For the enjoyment of the process. (Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that I am a process knitter). For the satisfaction of a finished object. And I can’t get enough!

At the end of the month I will be 30. It has been a long time since the last milestone birthday and as my dad would say, a lot of water has been passed since then. It has been quite an extraordinary time; the worst depression of my life, meeting the person I want to spend the rest of my life with and getting married, having a child, making a home (and a life) over 5000 miles away from London. I have grown into an adult that I think my younger self would have been proud of. And part of that has been the ability to get rid of a whole load of preconceived constructs about the world.

So my parents wanted to buy me a special present this year. Something that I would keep and love for a long time. Although my first instinct was ask for a yarn store (ha!) I realised that there was something more realistic that I wanted. That when I had tried it before, I was good at it, but could never let myself enjoy it. I asked for a sewing machine. (and lessons – I am going to need them)

I worry that learning to sew will cut into my knitting time. And I worry that I won’t enjoy knitting as much when there is a fancy sewing machine sitting there waiting to be used. But I see myself now doing all the things that I was doing with knitting a year ago – checking out the price of materials, trying to work out what I will need in the way of supplies, eyeing up books to learn from and places in the city to get help. I have finally thrown off my prejudice against sewing (and knitting) and am itching to get started. I may not enjoy it as much as knitting, or at all even, but I will be able to hem my own trousers and make my own bed linen if I choose. And I think I probably will.

Hopefully I will be able to turn the knitting obsession into a crafting and creating obsession. Be it quilts, knitted items or homemade clothes. Here’s to being on the cusp of thirty and finding the motivation to act on my desires.


June 29th, 2008

I ended up having a conversation during a working row of the laminaria the other night. A stupid stupid conversation that left me with one extra stitch by the time I got to the end of the row. After hours and hours of trying to recover from it (whatever it was that I did wrong – I can’t tell at the moment), and tinking back to the halfway point I am conceding defeat and will rip back to my last save point. I am quite gutted.

I would actually like to walk away from it for a while, but if I want to meet my birthday deadline, I need to keep going. This is only the first repeat of the blossom chart, so there is a long way to go yet.

The second Biological Clock sock is ready to be bound off, which is both good news and bad. It was a lovely easy knit that had enough in it to keep my attention. I am still undecided whether they will be for me or a present for someone else. And I am not sure what I have in my queue to take it’s place. I think that makes me more of a process knitter than a product knitter. hmmm

I do have a hat and fingerless mittens that are a long overdue project for a friend. The hat is the most important, but the mittens will be a more interesting knit. And the yarn is worsted weight, so it will be quick too.

I am also making another pair of the cabled slippers for my dad. I am stalling somewhat on it though, as the yarn is vile to knit with and I don’t like knitting the same pattern twice. It would be good to be able to send them back with our current visitor, but I somehow doubt that they will be finished by then.

In other news, I am going for another MRI tomorrow – this time of my nerves. Hopefully they will find whatever is causing all this pain and it is easy to fix. This means that I need to spend time tonight taking all my piercings out *again*. But on the the other hand, it means another trip to Body Manipulations tomorrow to get them all put back in again and maybe have something else put in. Everything has it’s up side, I suppose.

Note To Self

June 19th, 2008

If you are going to put down a relatively complicated lace project (Laminaria) for a while it would help if you kept your notes up to date so that when you pick it up again you don’t have to spend over half an hour trying to work out where you are.

That is all.

Sewn Picot Edging

June 17th, 2008

Sewing down the picot edging on the Biological Clock socks is turning into a complete nightmare. Not fun, pleasurable or any of the things that I love about knitting. I am either going to tear my hair out over this or work out a a way of doing this less painfully.

What is involved with a sewn picot bind off is a row of *k2tog yo* at the point where the top edge is going to be, and then a few more rows of knitting to make what will be the hem. As I am binding off the cuff of a sock, my hemmed section is ribbed, but I assume that in other cases it may be plain stockinette.

For my first attempts, I put the live stitches onto waste yarn and tried sewing it down from there, but it was difficult finding the live stitches because they dropped down, dragging the waste yarn with. Pulling one stitch up would drop it’s neighbour and it was just really frustrating.

I ended up putting the stitches back on the needle in the hope that it would be easier. Another thing that was frustrating was that I couldn’t seem to sew the stitches down in a straight line. Because I was tightening the stitches as I went along, it was difficult to see which row of purl bumps I was supposed to be picking up. This continued to be the case with the live stitches back on the needle.

I have unpicked back to the beginning about ten times and I am *so* frustrated at this point. I started sewing down the stitches without tightening them, and it seems to be more successful this way. I am not convinced that this is the easiest way (tightening up the stitches is as much of a pain as trying to unpick them) and I think I might try picking up the purl row with a smaller needle and sewing them off together like that. We shall see what happens.


June 16th, 2008

It’s been a while, huh. Yoz’s suspected salmonella turned out to be a liver abscess that kept him in hospital for almost three weeks. He is slowly on the mend, but it will be a while for him to be back in the office physically (I am sure he will be there in the virtual sense soon).

There has been lots of knitting to catch up on. May I present the finished bumblebees:

Finished Bumblebee Socks

I was glad when I finished them. I should have (oh, it kills me to say it) swatched as they are slightly too snug for my feet and nowhere near big enough for the intended recipient. If I were to use the same yarn next time (and *swallow* don’t swatch – there’s no guarantee that I will learn from my mistakes) I would use a 3 or even a 4 (US) needle. Although the fabric feels cushy and nice on my feet, I think that at the right gauge it would be sproingy. I shall probably keep these for myself unless I find someone with narrow feet who would like them.

I am keeping all of my Sock Madness socks unworn/ungifted until I have completed all of the patterns. I may be mad for doing this, but I want to have that photo of them all lined up. Just for the sake of completeness. Keep your fingers crossed for me…

Next up in the Sock Madness lineup is the Something’s Shady pattern. It is designed for dyeing, but as I wanted to use up stash yarn for the competition, I chose a turquoise yarn by Cherry Tree Hill that I bought with a specific friend in mind. The pattern calls for an afterthought heel, with waste yarn knit in as a placeholder, so that it is easy to dip dye. Even though I am not going to dye this pair, I decided to knit the pattern as written as it is a new technique for me. Part of my motivation to join Sock Madness was to push the boundaries of my (knitting) knowledge and experience. So I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do something I haven’t tried before, even if it does scare the hell out of me.

Something's Shady Socks back

Here you can see the placeholder for the heel and the sole in progress. These socks were just too demanding of my concentration and attention whilst Yoz was in hospital, and they were on hold for a while but I have picked them up and will be coming to the toe on the first sock soon.

The reason the second sock is on a stitch holder (and spare needle) is that I needed my other set of number 2 needles for this

biological clock sock

Months ago I was browsing sock patterns when I came across Rivendell by Janel Laidman. I fell in love with the pattern, and decided that instead of buying and casting on for it *that instant*, I would pre-order her book. I was convinced that anyone who could design something that grabbed me so hard would be likely to have other patterns that I would love too. And I wasn’t wrong. The Eclectic Sole is a beautiful book filled from cover to cover with sock patterns that I want to knit. The sock above is the Biological Clock pattern – hitting both my science/geek and knitting buttons.

It has been a really interesting knit so far. To begin with it is toe up (my preferred method of sock knitting) and plain stockinette for the foot. This was great for me as I cast it on at a time when the chart reading of Something’s Shady was just too much for me to cope with. Things got interesting at the heel as it is a heel flap construction, which is something I have never done from the toe up. And then the double helix chart to die for where I was practising chart reading (I am an old hand now!) and cabling without a cable needle.

I ended up making one mistake (a left cross instead of a right cross), and although I would like to drop the stitch back and fix it, I am scared to because of all the cabling. I have a feeling I would screw up more than I would fix, so I have left it in there. The other option would be to tink back, but by the time I noticed it, that would have been an evening’s work on it’s own. Another lesson learned – if I am going to be upset if there are mistakes, use a lifeline!

It is on hold for a little bit as the pattern calls for a picot edging where the end is sewn down. I was a little apprehensive about it (I can’t sew, don’t like it and therefore don’t do a very good job. Or should that be I don’t do a very good job and therefore don’t like it. Either way, sewing and me don’t mix), but decided just to push on and do it anyway. I transferred one needle’s worth of stitches to waste yarn (dental floss) and… made a complete mess of it. I have only sewn down a handful of stitches, but it looks awful. This beautiful pattern should not be finished of in such a crappy fashion. I was hoping to spend some time googleing the technique, but lo and behold, today Lime & Violet linked to an excellent tutorial for this exact technique. I will be sitting down with both sock and computer tomorrow to see if I can figure it out.

The last knitterly report is of a pair of slippers I made for my poorly husband when he came out of hospital. They are knit flat with three strands of worsted yarn held together and then sewn up (see above for my feelings about sewing). I used fluffy, almost novelty, brown yarn that I had in my stash. I had knit with it once before and after I cast on remembered what I didn’t like about it. It is difficult to see the stitches and just plain not nice to knit with.

The pattern is really simple with a cable down each side for decoration. The first slipper knit up really quickly and the yarn masked my shoddy sewing job. It was only as I was sewing up the second slipper that a friend politely pointed out that the first slipper was at least a couple of inches shorter than the one I was working on. I didn’t have enough yarn left to knit a whole new slipper which was my preferred option due to the characteristics of the yarn. Undoing my sewing took an extremely long time – it was impossible to see what was going on, and picking the stitches back up was equally difficult. The yarn kept getting caught on itself and I couldn’t tell which bit I should tug on. It was very frustrating. A three hour project took days. But he did end up with fluffy brown slippers.

If I make this pattern again, and that may be sooner rather than later as my father has asked for a pair in orange, I would mirror the cables down the feet. I also wonder if I could knit it in the round to save on all that sewing up. That may be an experiment for another day.

Yoz's feet in brown slippers

No knitting

May 18th, 2008

Nothing to report as Yoz has been in hospital since Wednesday. Latest thoughts are that he has salmonella, but they need to do more tests to be sure. Hopefully normal programming will resume shortly.

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