Up Knit Creek

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Just stuff

Yesterday was such a nice day that we decided to go out and about - we headed off into the Ashdown Forest to the Llama centre. The added bonus was that there was a craft fair there as well as the animals.
The craft fair was rubbish - if I had hoped for inspiration then I would have been sorely disappointed - there was a bit of rather boring knitting, some yucky machine embroidery and some of those "hand-made" cards where people have just assembled ready-made bits and pieces. I think it's a real cheek to call that kind of thing "hand-made", there's very little imagination, talent or creativity involved.
Anyway, the llamas and alpacas were cute. I like alpacas best, they're a bit rounder and fluffier than llamas.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com.

When we got home, Sophie (step-daughter) wanted to do some laminating, so out came the laminator (I had to buy one - it was too good a bargain to miss!). Guess who couldn't resist?
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She just loves boxes. Her favourite toy is the box that my sewing machine came in - it's quite big and sturdy and she spends ages jumping in and out of it, but any box is worth investigating, even if it's only big enough for one paw and a head!

I also managed a bit of felting the other day. This was my first attempt at anything other than a flat piece of felt. It was made entirely in one piece so the only sewing was to attach the cord round the edge.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
(It's a bag, in case you were wondering!)

Lucy and I are off into Brighton in a minute to buy some new jeans.........it could be a very long day!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Taking photos

It's such a nice day today I thought I would go into the garden and take some photos of my knitting.
I took about a dozen pictures of things I've knitted over the last couple of years and have saved them to an online gallery. I have tried to put a link on this page, and although it appeared on the "preview" page, it hasn't shown up on the actual page yet.Maybe tomorrow it will have miraculously appeared.
There are quite few things that aren't in the gallery, either because I haven't got them (in the case of presents) or because certain people - ahem, Lucy! - are not being very co-operative. In addition to the items in the gallery (should you ever be able to see it) I have also knitted: a mohair shawl for my mum, matching socks and tie for my dad, a furry black and white jumper for Bethany, a neck-warmer for Bethany, a 3-ply lace shawl for Simon's niece and her new baby Matthew, a scarf for Lucy, a sleeveless button-through top for me (which I have lost), a school jumper for Lucy which she no longer wears as Year 11s are exempt from uniform, a red eyelash yarn scarf for Sandy (my brother's girlfriend), a pink/beige/lavender eyelash yarn scarf for a friend at work, two hats for Bethany and two domino-knitted cardigans for a knitwear designer (for which I got paid!!!). I am more prolific than I realised.
You may have noticed that the one person who doesn't feature in this list is Simon, my tolerant partner.
In the past I have knitted him a traditional guernsey (knitted in the round) and another cabled sweater, neither of which he ever wears because he says this country never gets cold enough. He says if we ever go back to Prague, I will have to knit him another sweater because it does get cold enough there in winter.
Hmmmmmm, Prague (my favourite city) and knitting (my favourite pastime) ......... that's a heady combination - I feel a daydream coming on!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


I almost forgot! Huge, enormous and awesome thanks to my beautiful and talented daughter Bethany for designing my little button,
Image hosted by Photobucket.com and for showing me how to get it onto this blog.
mwah! mwah!


Today is the first day of my Easter holiday so I put it to very good use. The "Lucy" bag is now completely finished, including felting, embroidery and applique, plaited extra section added to the handle and a fabric lining complete with pockets for pens and mobile phones (yes, phones plural; I have one for work and one of my very own with pictures and photos and real music which I hardly ever use)
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I'm very pleased with the way it has turned out although the handles shrank much more during felting than I anticipated, hence the plaited extra section.
The wrap-over cardigan I knitted for Lucy has undergone a slight alteration - Lucy decided she didn't want it to tie around her waist as she liked wearing it undone. If I'd attached the ties as suggested in the instructions, she would have had 3 feet of tie trailing along after her so I undid several yards of the original tie and put buttonholes in each end so that she can wear it undone or wrap it around and hold it with buttons. I can't describe how I felt undoing the work that had taken so long to do - the tie was 98 inches long, all done in moss stitch.
On another tack entirely, I spent a long time today on the internet trying to find out train times and prices for a proposed visit to London (to the V & A and the Knit2together exhibition at the Craft Council). I found trains for tomorrow leaving from our local station, at a cost of £17.90 each. I then thought I would see how much I could save by driving to a station further up the line - cost each? over £25.00. I then decided to try for next Tuesday, again from our local station - in the intervening 15 minutes or so the cost had miraculously increased to £31.50 each on a train leaving at exactly the same time! Bring back British Rail - at least you knew how much the tickets were and that the train would be late, full and with no facilities except cardboard sandwiches and tasteless coffee!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Guru no more

I shouldn't have bragged about being a knitting guru - I made a complete and utter hash of the handles on the "Lucy" bag. I didn't realise, until I had painstakingly grafted the handles together and was getting ready to chuck it in the washing machine for felting, that I had joined the handles to the wrong stumps!
Why don't I read the instructions properly?
Why do I think I can just skim the instructions and busk?
Why do I assume that I know what I'm doing when it is quite obvious that I don't?
Anyway, the problem has been rectified and the bag is in the washing machine as I write, along with the towels used for dyeing not one, but two daughters' hair. The results on the hair are fine (both have ditched their normal fair/golden locks for something dark, red and mysterious) but it remains to be seen how the bag turns out.
Lucy and I ventured into town this afternoon to get hair dye and had our ear-drums assaulted by an infernal din! I am all for people busking and providing a little entertainment on an otherwise grey dull day, but I prefer them to be able to play! There was a clarinettist positioned opposite the shops we were in who was attempting to play.... well, I'm not sure what, it was unrecognisable. I think I've heard nicer sounds coming from a labour ward, or a cow-shed!
I shouldn't be too critical I suppose - I got my violin out yesterday after a rather long gap and I don't think I would have impressed anyone with the noises I was making.
I think I'll stick to knitting.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

It's Official! I'm a knitting Guru

....... and here's the proof!
Knitting Guru
You appear to be a Knitting Guru. You love knitting
and do it all the time. While finishing a piece
is the plan, you still love the process, and
can't imagine a day going by without giving
some time to your yarn. Packing for vacation
involves leaving ample space for the stash and
supplies. It can be hard to tell where the yarn
ends and you begin.

What Kind of Knitter Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Ha Ha Ha, found this on someone else's blog (sorry, can't remember whose) so I had to have a go. I have to say, it's fairly accurate - I get more obsessed the more I do.

Friday, March 18, 2005


I had a bit of a gap at work today so naturally I decided to do some knitting; so there I was, sitting in my car on the esplanade, listening to Radio 2, knitting away happily on the "Lucy" bag, when disaster struck - my lovely Denise Interchangeable Needles snapped without warning. When I had rescued the dropped stitches and stopped swearing I saw that one of the little connectors that goes between the cord and the needle had sheared off right at the point that it goes into the cord. It can't be fixed, even superglue wouldn't be strong enough, but I am hopeful that it can be replaced. I have e-mailed the company that makes the needles and am anxiously awaiting their response.
I had to stop work on the bag and did a few rows on Clapotis instead so all was not lost. The bag is coming on nicely (I used another cord from the needle set when I got home) and I hope to have it knitted and felted by Sunday !
<Image hosted by Photobucket.com
This is a preview of the Lucy bag so far.
The wool is Jaeger extra-fine merino chunky and is beautifully soft. I felted a sample before starting the bag and it has come out really dense and firm with the colours really well blended. When the bag is complete, I'm going to knit and felt some flowers to stitch onto the front just to make it a bit more girly.
Following on from the success of dyeing yarn, I have another dyeing project to do tomorrow - namely my younger daughter's hair. Bethany, who is 14, has lovely golden hair but she hates it and would like to permanently dye it jet black. I think that's a bit drastic so we've compromised on a dark browny-red semi-permanent just to see what it looks like - there may be photos here tomorrow if I'm allowed to take pictures of the finished article!
Talking of finished articles, I was hoping to post a photo of Lucy's finished wrap-over cardi but very selfishly she decided to wear it tonight! She has gone to stay at her friend's house because friend's mum is away. It's probably best that I don't have any more details than that, my imagination is fertile enough as it is!
P.S. Thanks to Bethany for helping this poor old creature to work out how to post photos within the text, and also explaining about Kurt Cobain's murder/suicide.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Knitting to music

I didn't expect to get much, if any, knitting done today as I knew I would be busy at work and that we were going to a concert this evening. Funny how things work out though, I managed to sneak in some knitting at lunch time which was a surprise as I hadn't thought I would have time to eat my lunch, let alone get the needles out.
This evening we went to a concert at which my partner's nephew, James, was performing; he is due to take his Grade 8 violin next week and tonight's performance will also count towards his A level music.
Well, I took my knitting and knitted through a whole ball of wool during the first half. I hadn't taken another ball with me so I spent the second half fidgetting and cursing the hardness of the pews - not being a church-goer I hadn't realised there wouldn't be cushions to sit on. Anyway, James played very well and got the biggest round of applause. There were some very talented kids playing everything from Debussy and Kabalevsky to Herbie Hancock and Andrew Lloyd-Webber - all-in-all a very successful evening.
I would have posted a picture of tonight's knitting but I can't find a space that isn't covered in junk in which to take the photo, so you'll just have to wait! I plucked up the courage to use the disgusting green double-pointed needles and started the "Lucy" bag; the nice thing about thick wool and fat needles is the speed at which it grows - perfect for the impatient sort like me. This means I now have 4 projects on the needles at present so I think I'll have to put myself in the naughty cupboard for a while to ponder my actions! (or maybe I'll just go to bed - night-night.)

Monday, March 14, 2005

A busy day

Got up, made sandwiches, had shower, went to work, cursed the computer (why does it always decide to muck about when I've got important stuff to do?), got home, made dinner, went to Ex Tex, came home, watched EastEnders, went to bed.
No, I've missed something out.............. looked at my blog and I've had a comment! A comment!!!
Now I know that it's not just me and my family that have looked at these ramblings.
The aran chair cover is designed by Erika Knight and is in her lovely book "New Knits" - it's designed for a Tullsta armchair from Ikea but could be adapted fairly easily to fit another similar chair.
The dyeing, well, that was a bit of an experiment following some stuff I saw on an American site about dyeing with Kool-Aid (which is some sort of powdered drink, I think) and Easter Egg dye. I decided that the main ingredient in both of these must be food colouring so off I went. I mixed the food colouring (which is just bog-standard Supercook stuff) with water and some vinegar (apparently acid is good) and splodged it onto skeins of wool that had been thoroughly soaked in warm water and squeezed out. The skeins were arranged in a microwaveable dish (I knew those pyrex casseroles were good for something), covered the dish in clingfilm and zapped it for two minutes at a time on 50% power. When it looked done (i.e. there was no excess dye slopping about in the dish) I left it to cool then rinsed thoroughly in warm water. There was very little colour to be washed out during that rinse, which surprised me as I expected the colour to run. I put the skeins on the radiator to dry, the started knitting!
I was amazed by how vivid the colours were and by how easy the whole process was - be warned though, it makes your house stink of wet sheep. The next experiment will be to see how much I have to dilute the food colouring to get pastel colours, but that's for another day.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The hunt for needles

I recently bought some chunky merino wool to make the "Lucy" bag from Blackberry Ridge (http://www.blackberry-ridge.com/) but I didn't check the needle size as I have a set of Denise interchangeable needles. When the pattern arrived I realised I would need some 6.5mm double pointed needles as well as a circular of the same size. This part of Sussex is not well stocked with knitting shops and I have found it very difficult to get hold of these needles. I eventually managed to get some today from a place about 20 miles away but I'm not sure I can bring myself to use them - they are a revolting shade of green (my least favourite colour) and have obviously been hanging around in the shop for a few hundred years. Anyway, they will do the job, and on the up side, I also bought some yarn for my 12-year-old stepdaughter who wants to make a monkey and a cone of "unspecified" yarn which looks rather interesting. It's a kind of pale bluey-green and is uneven in texture but I've no idea what it's made of. It feels quite soft and silky and breaks quite easily so I don't think it's man-made. A lacy scarf or shawl seems appropriate, but I'll probably change my mind about six times before actually knitting with it.
I also got some scraps of synthetic fabric which we will use at evening class tomorrow. Lucy and I are doing a course in "Experimental Textiles", taught by the magnificent Kim Thittichai (http://www.kimthittichai.com) and tomorrow night's session is bead-making using synthetic fabrics and a heat gun (note to self: remember fire blanket and bucket of sand!).

The belt/tie for Lucy's cardi is progressing quite slowly as I haven't done any today - I got rather disillusioned with this project when I discovered that one sleeve was almost three inches shorter than the other. I just couldn't figure out what had gone wrong until I counted the number of cast-on stitches at the cuff - one sleeve had 48 sts (the right amount) and the other had 54. Unfortunately, Lucy's arms are the same length and the same circumference so I had to rip out one whole sleeve and start all over again. I'm not a perfectionist by any means but I just couldn't bodge it enough to look reasonable.

On an entirely different note, is it just me, or is anyone else aggrieved that Edith won Comic Relief Does Fame Academy? I did think Edith made a lot of progress but Kim definitely had the best voice. I also thought Adrian Edmondson was brilliant - rubbish singer but soooo funny.

Chair cover on the chair it will eventually cover Posted by Hello

Clapotis from Knitty.com using hand-dyed wool. Narrower and shorter than in the original pattern due to not having much of this wool Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Starting out

I've never done anything quite like this before so please bear with me as I get used to what I'm doing. So far it has all been straightforward, even putting in the pictures of Mollie the Magnificent! I just need to find a photo of me that won't scare anyone.
Anyway, this is supposed to be about knitting, so I'll just let you know what;s going on at the moment. I have broken all my rules about only having one project on the go at any one time, and am currently working on three things at present:
  • a wrap-over cardigan for Lucy (elder daughter) knitted with Jaeger's luxury tweed - a lovely blend of merino lambswool and alpaca. It's almost finished - just knitting the 98" long belt/tie. I knitted about 5 feet whilst watching Comic Relief last night.
  • a chunky aran-style chair cover. The wool for this came from elann.com because it worked out loads cheaper (even paying customs charges etc) than buying the wool in the UK - how weird is that? I saved about £30-40 by buying yarn from a place 3,000 miles away!!
  • a version of Clapotis from Knitty.com using some 4-ply 100% wool that was really cheap (£2.50 for 500gm) which I dyed myself using food colouring. I had never dyed yarn before and was really pleased with the result.

When I've worked out exactly how this blogging thing works, I will post some photos!

My First Blog!

Well here we are at last - my first blog!. Please be gentle with me, I'm a blog virgin.
I've read lots of blogs recently (mostly to do with knitting) and have been fascinated by them. They are by turns, informative, interesting, educational and mostly highly amusing. I always knew that knitting wasn't a fuddy-duddy activity and all you wonderful knitting bloggers out there have proved it

Mollie demonstrating how well-read she is Posted by Hello

Mollie in the garden Posted by Hello