Wooly Wednesday – Imagiknit Rainbow

Actually I bought this last Thursday, on our way to before our visit to The Exploratorium, but it’s so pretty that it deserves a post of it’s own.

rainbow yarn

I’ve been planning to explore the knitting shops here since sending Ben on a yarn buying mission on one of his work trips, and Imagiknit was top of my list. It didn’t disappoint! They had every type yarn I could think of (and a few I’d never heard of) all organised by weight and filling two rooms (one for animal fibres and the other for cotton etc). I only bought one skein, chosen by the Jam for his winter hat, but I’ll definitely be back.

Ball Winder

Last Christmas, I was given a ball winder by our FFF. As most of the yarn I buy is already wound into balls, I haven’t had a chance to test it until now, when I decided to use some gorgeous Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend that I accidentally bought on eBay.

It’s brilliant! The ball was neatly wound, without being too tight, in a fraction of the time. It looks pretty too…

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:

IMG_1925 IMG_1984

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…

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.

Hat-fest!

I’ve finished a few knitting projects recently but haven’t got around to taking decent photos. However, I couldn’t not have a knitting post during National Wool Week so here are a couple of snaps of the winter hats I made for myself and the Jam.:

Best cure for dark circles? Photoshop....
Best cure for dark circles? Photoshop….

My hat – knitted in Rowan’s Thick ‘n’ Thin merino wool, which is great fun to use due to the unusual texture and beautiful jewel hues, some almost solid colours and some lovely combinations – I fancy trying a scarf in the purple/green basalt next. I rarely use chunky yarns, but it was very satisfying to finish something in just a few hours. The pattern is from the accompanying book, but it’s just a basic ribbed hat, knitted flat then seamed.

IMG_1891The Jam’s hat – a variation on the crown hat I knitted for him a few months ago. That was a little small, so I used slightly bigger needles and knitted an extra 1.5cm before decreasing. (I also remembered to strand the yarn really loosely this time!) Instead of the crown pattern, I made my own chart with his name and a little heart. This took rather longer than mine, but I’m proud of the results.

Wooly Wednesday: I Knit London

I knit London

Woo-hoo! I’ve finally found a fabulous knitting shop that isn’t on the other side of the world (or online, or closed, or requires a complex journey involving multiple train/tube/bus changes). It’s called I Knit London and it’s tucked away just behind Waterloo Station*. The Jam and I went on a recognisance mission today and liked what we discovered:

1) A lovely saleswoman who chatted to the Jam and didn’t seem at all fazed by his close examination of her stock. She even said he was adorable and let him buy a chocolate bar with buttons (and wouldn’t take any money for it from me).

Pretty...
Pretty…

2) Rainbow shelves packed with yarn that you can’t buy on the high street. I bought three skeins that I don’t need, but they were beautiful! One is a bright blue merino/silk blend (called Rubber Soul) from their own brand (I Knit or Dye) and the other two are Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend, which I’ve been eyeing up online but not had a chance to fondle until today. Now I need more patterns…

* That’s one train ride from home and ten minutes walk from the Evelina, so it will no doubt be my sanctuary when we’re living there after the Jam’s next operation.

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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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