Granny’s Garden Gloves

I decided to make these over Christmas for DH’s Granny when MiL mentioned that her hands get cold when she reads. Searching for something pretty and fingerless that could be done in a soft fine yarn, I found this pattern on Ravelry. They’re probably the most complex thing I’ve made so far – knitting in-the-round on dpns, proper stranded colourwork, picking up stitches for the thumb etc – so I’m very proud of them!

MacMan Hat

knitappleAnother quick hat, this time for Dad. Done in a couple of days, though it wasn’t quite the simple project I expected. Having chosen a basic pattern, Dad then decided that he’d like a touch of personalisation, the Apple logo. No problem I thought, until I realised that knitting a single block of colour (rather than a repeating pattern) is almost impossible in the round. Having decided to knit it flat and sew up the back seam, I tried stranding the wool across the back of the logo, as I did for the Jam’s hat, but I kept getting holes where the colours met. I went back a few rows, read the section on intarsia in my Knitter’s Bible, and tried again. It turns out that intarsia is actually easier than Fair Isle once you get going!

For the knitters among you, there are more details on my ravelry project page.

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.)

[Wet] Wooly Wednesday: Blocking

I finished the baby blanket I was knitting ages ago, but I knew that I’d have to block it to make the most of the lace pattern. I’ve never blocked anything before and wasn’t sure how to go about it as there are several different methods and a lot of conflicting advice. The main options seem to be:

  1. pinning it out then steam blocking using an electric iron;
  2. pinning it out then placing a wet cloth over the top and leaving both to dry together;
  3. soaking it then pressing out the water then pinning it out and leaving it to dry.

fog blanket1I knew I didn’t want to risk ruining the yarn (Debbie Bliss Eco Aran – a lovely soft cotton) with a hot iron so I ruled out steam blocking, and I acquired some blocking wires so that I wouldn’t have to spend hours pinning only to end up with scalloped edges. Having bought some lovely smelling wool wash and commandeered the Jam’s squishy foam squares, I decided to go for the third option.

Still soft, still square - success!
Still soft, still square – success!

The Jam enjoyed helping me press out the water into a huge bath towel and he patiently watched me thread the wires and pin it into place (which still took a very long time). 30+ hours (and that’s in the current warm weather) later it was dry and I nervously unpinned it…

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Pott[er]ing On

Dad is attempting to teach me about gardening… When I announced that I wanted a herb garden he took me to the garden centre, helped me chose some decent mint and thyme, and planted them for me. He also sowed some basil, parsley and chive seeds in his propagator (with ‘help’ from the Jam) and left me with instructions regarding watering. (I can do watering.) Then he went home and the seeds started to grow…

Chives (hard to see, but not dead), parsley and basil - yay!
Chives (hard to see, but not dead), parsley and basil – yay!

A couple of days ago he announced that I would need to ‘pot on’ the seedlings. After running through the instructions several times and being reminded that “it’s not mud, it’s soil” I gathered the equipment and gave it a go. The little plants did not look happy, and I was pretty sure I’d killed them but Dad said to bring them inside each evening and hope for the best. Amazingly this morning, they started to look rather more perky. It seems that nature’s determination to survive trumps even my inept fumbling!

Tealight cover

I LOVE the little needles!
I LOVE the little needles!

I’m still knitting little hearts for SiL, using oddments of wool and my new short (13cm) needles that I bought so I could carry them around in my handbag (and because tiny projects look ridiculous on normal needles). I bought two pairs to get a discount on postage so to justify the purchase I had to find another project that would fit them. The tealight holders in The Knitter’s Year by Debbie Bliss caught my eye a while ago, but I usually avoid anything that involves lacework as I get in a knot (sometimes literally) with the yo, yf, yfn, yfrn, yon etc etc. Knitting, purling, shaping and stripes are my usual limits and you can do an awful lot with those basics, but recently MiL bought me a fantastic book to help to me expland my repertoire. It’s called The Knitter’s Bible (by Claire Crompton) and though it’s no substitute for having Mum around to demonstrate (and unpick) the tricky bits, it’s given me the confidence to try things I would have avoided.

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