Up Knit Creek

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


A bit late, but I've been away and had no access to this interweb thingy.

Lucy got 4 As, 3 Cs and 3 Ds so she will be going to college from next week to do a BTEC National Diploma in Art and Design. She's a very clever girl and I'm a very proud mum!

I have finished the Mystery shawl:
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It isn't as big as I would have liked, but I could add a border or a fringe. I don't know if I will participate in the next one - the emails became really tedious and I'm too impatient to wait for the clues. I shouldn't be surprised really, I've never been happy in a large group - too many people with too much to say! Yes, I know, I should stop moaning and design my own shawl - well maybe I will (when the bag and the chair cover and the top requested by Bethany and the socks and the scarves and two tops for me are all finished!)

Sorry for the short post - nothing much happening in the Creek at present!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A la recherche du blog perdu

Not too sure that the title is appropriate - "oublie" would probably be better than "perdu" and I wish I knew how to put accents on the letters.
I haven't posted recently for two reasons: 1. I haven't felt much like writing anything and 2. I haven't done much knitting to write about.
Although I have now been off work for 5 weeks, I just don't seem to have a lot of time; I am completely unable to explain where the time has gone and I have nothing to show for it - the time has gone, never to be seen again. I unknitted four sweaters last week, wound them into skeins, washed the skeins, ironed the skeins and wound them into balls; I knitted clue 4 of the mystery shawl and knitted a bit more of the aran chair cover. Yesterday and today I have knitted a little bolero-style cardi for my cousin's baby, but it took three attempts to get to a style I was happy with and even now, I'm not completely convinced but that's because of the yarn I used (a yukky acrylic with little sparkles in it, the best of a very limited choice in our local craft shop). Hopefully, a few embroidered flowers will improve things and make it look a bit less naff. I haven't knitted with acrylic for a while and had forgotten how unpleasant it is to use. The longer I knit, the more snobby I become about yarn.
I have been doing a little bit of dyeing (some merino tops using food colouring) and spinning on my drop-spindle, but not enough to make anything worthwhile - y'know like actual yarn or anything. I am hopeful that this situation will improve over the next couple of days as I intend to take the fibres and spindle to Leicester when we go to stay with my parents tomorrow.

Tomorrow is a big day for Lucy (and hundreds of thousands of other 16 year-olds in the UK) as GCSE results are out. Although she was very calm during the exam period,despite her school being burnt down a month beforehand, she has now got the jitters quite badly; her predicted grades are very respectable and she worked hard so I don't think she needs to worry so much. I have done my best to reassure her but I can remember how nervous I was on results day back in 1979. I did my best to stay in bed all day in the hope that everyone would forget and I could just make up the results - didn't work then and I don't suppose it would work now. Anyway, to all you GCSE-ers out there GOOD LUCK and DON'T PANIC, it'll all be over by Friday.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Not knitting

Another two weeks with no work - the doctor has given me another medical certificate. That makes six weeks all together, the longest continous period I have ever been off work. What have I been up to? Well, I have finished clue 3 of the mystery shawl - no point in taking a picture though, it has reached the stage where there are so many stitches on the needles that I can't spread it out to show off the pattern and it just looks like a tangled mess.
I have also taught myself to spin using a drop-spindle that I won on Ebay. I have only done a little bit so far but I am now the proud owner of a 4" x 8" sample that has been spun and knitted by me. My gaze is lustfully turning to the spinning wheels on Ebay but I have no space (well, nowhere that isn't already full of yarn and merino tops and fabrics and felting needles and sewing machines and patterns and magazines ....... you get the picture). Maybe if I got rid of the exercise bike and that old fire......................
We spent Sunday giving our bedroom a long overdue spring-clean; I am so relieved it is finally done, I didn't realise how much the mess was getting me down until it wasn't there anymore. During the course of our excavations (not exaggerating, honest) I found four jumpers/cardis that are well past their sell-by and haven't been worn for at least a year. They have greatly increased the size of the Up Knit Creek frog pond and will shortly be increasing the stash. One jumper that my mum knitted for me ages ago has already been deknitted and I decided to do things properly and wash the resulting curly noodles to get rid of the kinks. I washed in hot water and hung the skeins up whilst still dripping wet, the theory being that the weight of water would smooth out all the kinks and curls. When I got the skeins in from the washing line they still looked as though they had had a bad perm and I began to think that the yarn must have a high proportion of poodle in it but it was no match for my lovely new "steam ironing station". A good blast with steam at 60g/minute and the yarn was flattened to within an inch of its life. How proud I was, what an achievement! (Can you sense that I need to get out more?). Said yarn, whose composition is a complete mystery, is now wound into nice neat balls, waiting quietly for the next moment of inspiration to strike. I do not own a swift (it is on my "most wanted" list) so had to improvise as Lucy was unwilling to lend me her hands. A bottle of Pimm's No. 1 and a bottle of Vodka placed at strategic intervals on the floor work reasonably well when winding about 1kg worth of yarn - I always knew there was a reason I drank!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

New toys

Does this picture give you a small clue about what I got on Ebay?
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Not the yarn, but look at how it is wound - I got a wool winder for a very good price and have been busy winding ever since. The yarn in the photo is the left-over HipKnits silk plus some 100% wool that I dyed with food colouring. I've been going through my stash and anything that looks as though it has been wound by hand, or is messy, or has never been wound from the skein is getting the treatment. It's very therapeutic.
I have also progressed with the Mystery Shawl - clue 2 was completed the day after it was posted. So far *hastily touching the nearest bit of wood* I have found it fairly easy going. The pattern is such that it is quite easy to spot a k2tog that should have been a ssk or vice versa.
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The alpaca yarn has a tendency to cling, so I have to be very careful not to knit YOs in with the next stitch. It looks like a bit of rubbish whilst on the needles but I'm sure the final blocking will reveal its true beauty - all thanks to Renee, the "list mom" and designer who has had to put up with quite a bit of carping and moaning on the message boards.

As I have been rather busy with a spot of painting and repairing of door frames, I asked Lucy and Bethany to take some pictures for today's blog; I have censored the results as I did not think that this blog was an appropriate forum for the display of pictures of teddies being crucified with knitting needles or of teddies and other associated small furry creatures indulging in games of chance for money (teddy poker - what is the world coming to?).
These are the nicer pictures which hopefully will not offend even the most delicate sensibilities of my viewers/readers:
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(obviously Pimms & Vodka are essential pieces of Knitting equipment!)

Oh, OK, if you promise not to tell the blog censors, here's a bad one:
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Thursday, August 04, 2005

You can't teach an old dog...............

....................new tricks, or so they say, but I have learnt a new trick whilst feeling like a very old dog indeed!
Two socks on one needle is what I've been learning and the evidence is here:

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The needles are 2.25mm, 75/80cm (yes, that's exactly what it says on the packet. Surely it should be 75 or 80, not both at once!) Whitecroft circulars - a make I've never heard of. One day, when I've got lots of spare cash (ha ha ha) I will treat myself to Addi turbos in every known size. The whole process of knitting two socks at once would be much easier if:
a) the cord was longer
b) the cord was more flexible.
I have found it quite tricky to keep the stitches even around the point where they divide for each section of the needle - this isn't normally a problem when using dpns - but a longer , more flexible cord would definitely improve things. I will definitely try this method again as it means that second sock syndrome would be a thing of the past, but not until I have nicer needles. The yarn, by the way, is Regia s-t-r-e-t-c-h- colour which I really like because the little bit of stretch gives a very neat fitting sock ( yes, I have been trying them on whilst still on the needles and I have the injuries too!). The colours look as though they are pooling quite badly in the picture but it's not so obvious in real life.

Please indulge me, but here is another picture of my stitch markers; yesterday's picture didn't do them justice (in my humble opinion) so thought I'd have another go:

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Not much better, really, but I think you can see the colours more clearly. I haven't used them yet but I think they will come into their own when we get further on in the mystery shawl. Speaking of Mystery Shawls - Kate obviously has far too much time on her hands as she is knitting two mystery shawls. Strictly speaking, only the first one is a real mystery as she will know what's what by the time she does the second, but she's knitting two of them anyway. Now, why don't I find yummy-looking mystery yarn like that - at the bottom of my stash is a load of yucky acrylic stuff in hideous colours (from the days when I was obsessed with knitting Jean Greenhowe toys) and there are virtually no knitting shops round here with bargain bins to poke around in. Our local charity shops are very disappointing too - not even anything worth unpicking.
Enough whingeing - the socks are calling!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Not Johnny Depp

Had to take a few days to recover from the mini Depp-fest - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Friday, then Benny & Joon on Sunday night. He's so good, I could watch him all day.

Anyway - knitting
The Mystery Shawl Along has started and was not without a few teething problems. Many thanks to Renee, the "group mom" who has put up with lots of whinging and moaning but has come up trumps. The first clue was two charts to follow, resulting in this:

This is obviously not blocked, just pinned out a bit. It will be much more open and lacy when it is properly blocked - at least, I hope it will be. The alpaca is so soft, I can't wait to be snuggled up in it, watching JD (mmmmmmmmm, "Chocolat" would be a good one for the shawl's induction, methinks).

Yesterday I decided I needed to get out of the house if I was to stand any chance at all of avoiding cabin fever - I've hardly been out for the last fortnight. I went into Lewes and perused the local bead shop as I have been brainwashed into jumping onto the pretty stitch marker bandwagon. A couple of hours later and I ended up with these:

Not bad for a first attempt, if I say so myself.

Whilst waiting for the second mystery shawl clue, I decided to try and learn how to knit two socks on one circular needle. I've been meaning to try this for a while and finally got round to starting yesterday. No pictures yet, because there's not much to see, but I did find this site very useful. (Thanks to Lucy for helping me with the link, the normal Blogger way didn't seem to work).

Mollie has also been "helping" me with computer stuff: