Cold hands?

It seems that everyone I know must have cold hands, which would explain the number of requests I’ve had to knit gloves / mittens / armwarmers recently. I’m always happy to knit somebody else is paying for the yarn (and new needles) and the first two pairs kept my fingers occupied while I was sitting by the Jam’s bed in the hospital.

blackmagic.jpg1. Black Magic Gauntlets for our FFF. She asked for these to keep her hands and arms warm under a coat with ¾ length sleeves. The (terrible, taken at the hospital) photo doesn’t show it because of the colour, but they are the same pattern as my Raspberry Gauntlets. (Click here for the Ravelry pattern page.)

silvercupcake.jpg2. Silver Cupcake Mitts. Made these for a friend of SiL’s. It’s a lovely little pattern and when she wore them I immediately got a request for a second pair for her friend’s daughter. (Ravelry page.)

armwarmer.jpg3. Spring Green Armwarmers for SiL. These are my WiP at the moment. I’ve finished one and am about to cast on the second. They’re part of her Christmas present and she found the pattern (which was actually called Snow on the Laurel) on Pinterest, but luckily it was linked to a Ravelry page.

4. Purple Cable Mittens #2 for another friend of SiL’s. I’ve already made one pair of these but the pattern is good TV knitting and I need to keep practising the thumbs! (Ravelry page.)

Once I’ve finished these I plan to move on to feet – baby booties and socks!

Warm Woollen Mittens

“Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens,
Brown paper packages tied up with string…”

I’ve just finished watching the ‘Musicals’ episode of Strictly Come Dancing and the lyrics to one of the songs prompted this post. (Yes, it was the one from The Sound of Music but that’s probably because I’ve still got a bit of a crush on Brendan Cole so it was a multifaceted guilty pleasure.)

Somewhat surprisingly, this is a post about knitting, specifically about knitting mittens (and fingerless mitts). Though I haven’t posted much recently, I have been knitting a lot. I’ve really enjoyed smaller projects like hats and mittens – partly because they’re quick to complete and partly because they’re technically quite challenging. Here are a couple of my latest efforts:

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The pink ones are for me and were made with the beautiful yarn Dad bought for me in Canada. It’s probably a little too soft for mitts but even if the palms end up a little threadbare from bags and the pushchair handle, they’ve lovely to wear. The purple ones were requested by a friend of SiLs who offered to pay for the wool plus a little for my time. I briefly wondered if that was allowed as it’s not my own design but I don’t think it even counts as selling. (It’s certainly no Etsy shop and as I knit in short bursts in front of the TV, the hourly rate works out well below minimum wage so I’m not making enough of a profit to bother anyone!)

The issue did get me thinking about the rules for selling hand-knitted items based on somebody else’s designs. I imagine the basic pattern for a shawl, scarf, hat or mitten doesn’t belong to anyone and many of the fancier designs (even ones that you have to buy) are simply a generic cable or lace pattern added to the basic shape. There must be a point at which a pattern becomes specific enough for someone to be able to copyright it, but does that mean they have a claim on items made using the pattern or just the instructions themselves? A quick Google search suggests the law is different in the US and the UK, but what does that mean for a English knitter using an American pattern, or vice-versa? If anyone has a clear set of rules I’d be interested to know…

Wooly Wednesday: Best Book EVER!

A couple of weeks ago I was eagerly awaiting the 2013 Man Booker Prize longlist. Usually it pushes me towards a couple of books that I was considering reading anyway and uncovers a few intriguing possibilities that I hadn’t heard of before. I was hoping for some inspiration as I haven’t been reading much lately, but nothing on the list grabbed my attention; it all seemed more worthy than wonderful. Perhaps my lack of interest is more indicative of my current non-literary frame of mind than the quality of the list and I’ll reconsider when the shortlist is announced.

Until then, I’ll content myself with this:

A book about knitting about books!
A book about knitting about books!

IMG_1684My first project is a hat for the Jam – the ‘Edmund Crown’ (inspired by the character from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe), which involves using two colours for something other than stripes and knitting in the round using both a circular needle and DPNs. This is all new to me so I have no idea how it will turn out. The stranded colourwork – does it count as Fairisle? – looks okay, though I think I should have left a little more slack at the back.

After that I’m torn between the delicate ‘Emma [Bovary, from Madame Bovary] Shawl’ and the more autumnal ‘Jane Eyre Shawl’. I’m also tempted by the ‘Daisy [Buchanan, from The Great Gatsby] Cloche’ on the front cover. I love this book…

(Everyone who reads and/or knits should own this so here are  the website, Amazon UK, Amazon US and Ravelry links.)

Wooly Wednesday: Americana

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‘Madison’ top

This is my latest project for myself – a sleeveless summer top in a pretty speckled yarn. The pattern is surprisingly easy (just one row in sixteen that requires counting) and the elongated stitches means it grows quickly too. I just hope I can remember how to pick up stitches when I get to the armhole edging!

Americana is a cotton/acrylic blend (from Sirdar) so it’s quite light (and washable). I’m using Virginia (shade 203) which combines white with beige, blue and purple. It’s the palest one in the range and very pretty, but I’m half regretting not picking Dixie or Mexicali. I might have to knit something else…

Wooly Wednesday: Silk Crush

20130717-144911.jpgJust thought I’d share a picture of the beautiful yarn Dad brought for me from Canada. It’s almost impossible to get (and very expensive) in the UK because it’s made by a small company in Vancouver (called SweetGeorgia) and most colours are dyed to order.

I gave Dad a list of colours that I liked and directions to the flagship store but didn’t really expect him to be able to get hold of it as he was staying on the other side of the city, at least a 30 minute taxi ride away. Ever resourceful, he spoke to the concierge, who telephoned the store. I think he actually spoke to the owner / proprietor who managed to find two skeins of the second colour on my list and offered to drive it over to him that evening. Amazing customer service and she didn’t charge him anything for delivery!

The yarn is a beautiful blend of silk and merino in Raspberry and I have enough to make myself a shawl – probably either this one or this one. If you can get your hands on some, I’d definitely recommend it!

More Little Hearts

Over the weekend FFF sent me a link for another pattern for knitted hearts. They’re slightly bigger but because they’re knitted all in one piece, the edges are neater. At first the increases confused me as you knit into the front, the back and then front again of the centre stitch on every row. In the end I had to write it out in full for myself, so I thought I’d share it here:

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  • Cast on 9 stitches
  • Row 1: K1, yo, K3, KFBF, K3, yo, K1
  • Row 2: K1, yo, K5, KFBF, K5, yo, K1
  • Row 3: K1, yo, K7, KFBF, K7, yo, K1
  • Row 4: K10, KFBF, K10
  • Row 5: K11, KFBF, K11
  • Row 6: K12, KFBF, K12
  • Row 7: K13, KFBF, K13
  • Row 8: K14, KFBF, K14
  • Row 9: K15, KFBF, K15
  • Row 10: K16, KFBF, K16
  • Row 11: K17, KFBF, K17
  • Row 12: K18, KFBF, K18
  • Row 13: K19, KFBF, K19
  • Row 14: K20, KFBF, K20
  • Row 15: K21, KFBF, K21
  • Row 16: K2tog, K20, KFBF, K20, K2tog
  • Row 17: K2tog, K20, KFBF, K20, K2tog
  • Row 18: K2tog, K20, KFBF, K20, K2tog
  • Row 19: K2tog, K2tog, K18, KFBF, K18, K2tog, K2tog
  • Row 20: K2tog, K2tog, K17, KFBF, K17, K2tog, K2tog
  • Row 21: K2tog, K2tog, K16, KFBF, K16, K2tog, K2tog
  • Cast off and weave in ends

Little Hearts

woolhearts2Despite the title, this is not a post about congenital heart defects in general or the Jam’s heart in particular. It’s a post about knitting. (However, there is an excellent charity called Little Hearts Matter, which supports families of children with conditions like the Jam’s – feel free to support them!)

knittedheartsAs I haven’t knitted anything for over a year, I decided to start with something small that I could definitely finish. In her spare time, SiL makes and sells some lovely creations at craft fairs, and one of her planned projects involves knitted hearts, but she doesn’t knit. I found this simple pattern for heart-shaped coasters but used finer wool (Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino) and smaller needles (3.25mm). They’re very easy so I can chat while making them. I’d forgotten how soothing simple knitting can be and so far I’ve just used oddments from past projects so it’s a lot cheaper than the spa…