Mysteriosa

2014 seems to be turning into the Year of the Knitalong. I already had a shawl on the go (my Nuvem) but when I heard that one of my favourite designers, Åsa Tricosa, was doing a mystery shawl knitalong, I couldn’t resist signing up – and I’m very glad I did, because the shawl is beautiful!

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I particularly love the fan pattern, which I think gives it a bit of an Art Deco vibe.

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It certainly wasn’t a mindless knit – the fan section in particular required quite a lot of concentration, but I was working on that during the week I was signed off work and it was absolutely perfect because what I really needed was mindful knitting – something that needed enough focus that my brain couldn’t wander off into a spiral of worry and self-recrimination. I remember at one point trying to knit the toe of a sock, something I could probably do in my sleep given how many socks I’ve made by now, and got so distracted by my own thoughts that I completely lost track of where I was with the decreases, but I whizzed through the fans.

It’s come out a lovely size, too – perfect for wrapping round me.

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The yarn is merino/silk fingering from The Knitting Goddess. It’s a single-ply yarn and so soft it was an utter joy to knit with. This yarn is also quite fine for a 4-ply, with 500m to 100g rather than the more usual 400m, and I have ended up with almost all of my second skein of the plum and four-fifths of the lime green left over, so I think there may be another shawl in this colour combination in my future. I do love how the colours look together, though obviously it will need to be a very different style of shawl if it’s in the same colours. Maybe something very modern and geometric?

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Perfectionism

Some time ago (late March, in fact) I cast on for Martina Behm’s Nuvem using some gorgeous cobweb silk from Solstice Yarns. I’ve been knitting away at it on and off since then, but I’m not really happy with it.

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I’ve been following the pattern directions and knitting in the round on two circular needles, which isn’t normally my preferred method. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not used to the technique, or if it’s just that the weight of the hanging spare needle is too much for such fine yarn knitted at a loose-ish gauge, but I’ve ended up with huge ladders at the joins between the needles.

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I’ve just done what I should have done ages ago, and moved the shawl from two needles to one (and have used one of the really flexible ChiaoGoo Spin cables, too), but that’s not going to do anything about the ladders that are already there. And people keep saying “oh, don’t worry, they’ll block out”, but I’m not sure they will. It’s taken me three months to knit 40g of the yarn (though admittedly I have mostly been knitting other things during that three months), but I don’t want to spend another three months knitting the rest only to end up with a shawl I’m not happy with. So I’m seriously considering ripping the whole thing out and starting again. Is that completely insane? What would you do? Can anyone show me documentary evidence of ladders that big blocking out?

Edit – so, Rachel is a genius and suggested hooking the ladders up to create an extra stitch. I wasn’t sure it would work, but I dug out a teeny-weeny crochet hook anyway, and blow me if it hasn’t worked! And I don’t think a couple of extra stitches are going to be a problem in this kind of a shawl. Thanks, Rachel, you’re a star!

Lush

I finished my Lush Cardigan (which I was knitting as part of Purlescence‘s knitalong), and even though it’s really not the weather for nice woolly cardis I did put it on for a few minutes yesterday so that T could take some photos (I was jolly glad to take it off again afterwards, though!).

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The yarn is Sweet Georgia merino superwash DK, in “Jade” (though it looks more like teal to me). It’s not a really soft merino, which I think is a good thing as in my experience really soft yarns tend to pill very quickly; it’s not scratchy but it feels quite durable and I’m hoping it will wear well, because I love the cardigan and want to wear it lots!

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I knitted the 39″ bust size, which is 3″ smaller than my full bust measurement but matches my high bust, as I thought that would give me the best fit in the shoulders. I added 2″ of short row bust darts to give a better fit over the bust and worked more increases below the waist to end up with the stitch count for the 46″ size to allow for the fact that my hips are wider than my bust and although I will probably only wear ever do up the top buttons I wanted it to look as though I might conceivably be able to button it all the way up if I chose.

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I’m not sure that was the best idea, because the paired increases have created a little bulge at the sides, though I don’t know if that’s because I did more or just because the pattern didn’t specify the increases to use and I went for M1R and M1L but might well have got them the wrong way round. It doesn’t really show, though, and generally I’m really pleased with the fit.

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After agonising over what kind of buttons to use I finally ordered several sets from Textile Garden and chose a set which proved to be a perfect colour match for the yarn (I had thought that contrasting buttons might be a better choice and ordered a couple of yellow sets to try out).

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Of course, it’ll probably be at least three months before I actually get to wear it, but it’ll be something to look forward to when summer starts turning to autumn!

Me-made

Yesterday’s outfit was unusual for not including anything I’d made. Today’s was unusual because I’d made both the skirt and the top; my Afternoon Blouse got its first airing and I was very pleased with it.

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My knee feels much better after a day in comfortable flat shoes, though still not quite right. That’ll teach me not to put appearance before comfort again in a hurry!

New dress, new start

Back at work today after a week and a bit off sick because the headweasels had just got too much for me and I simply couldn’t cope any more. I spent most of my time off knitting. I find the act of making stitches and following a pattern very therapeutic, though I found that I needed a certain amount of complexity to keep my mind focused on the knitting; there was one point where I found myself getting horribly muddled over the toe decreases on a plain sock because I’d ended up knitting away on autopilot and my brain had wandered off into a spiral of anxiety and lost track of what my hands were doing, whereas when I was working on more complicated things I had far less trouble. And, as a bonus, I finished two of the knitalong projects I was working on and am now pretty much back to my normal three WIPs (socks, a shawl, and a cardigan) which is good as I was feeling a bit overloaded. There will be pictures soon, once things are blocked!

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I have actually gone back to a different job for a couple of months, as another department was desperate for some assistance in an area I know well and things are fairly quiet on the project I’m seconded to. I think this is a good thing, as I wasn’t really enjoying the project work and didn’t feel I fitted in with the office culture in the department where it was based, and it’s nice to be doing something different and getting to meet new people and experience a different part of the organisation. I wore my new Boden dress to make a good impression (it’s actually one of two new Boden dresses, as I originally bought the same dress in navy blue and loved the fit so much I couldn’t resist buying it in pink as well), though the smart shoes were a mistake as I had forgotten just how uncomfortable they are; after walking three-quarters of a mile from the old office to the new one, and then spending 45 minutes standing up while I had an induction to the building, and then walking half a mile into town at lunchtime, the bottoms of my heels and the balls of my feet were throbbing, and by the time I got back to the office again my right knee was stiff and sore (though that may be a stress reaction, as it has done it before when I’ve been under stress or going through difficult times). Back to flat shoes tomorrow, I think!

The Great Scottish Tapestry

While I was in Glasgow last month I took a trip over to Paisley to see the Great Tapestry of Scotland at Paisley Thread Mill. (I have delayed writing this post for so long that the Paisley exhibition has now finished, but the tapestry will be at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh over the summer and at New Lanark in October and November, and if you have a chance to see it you really should go.)

The tapestry (which isn’t actually a tapestry, because tapestries are woven and this is embroidered, but then again so is the Bayueux Tapestry) consists of 160 panels which were embroidered by groups of volunteers around Scotland, depicting scenes from the history of the country from the Ice Age to the present day. I couldn’t hope to photograph half of it, but I did take pictures of some of my favourite details.

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I love this squirrel’s bright eye and bushy tail!

This panel celebrates Scotland’s involvement with India (although not the delight that is the haggis pakora) and I loved the colours.

The peacock represents the peacock-tail of Paisley designs, on a panel commemorating the mills of Paisley (including the one where I saw the tapestry).

I can’t resist a puffin! This one was on the Shetland panel.

And penguins are almost as good. Not a native Scottish bird, but this panel is about Shackleton.

And finally, I was just amazed at the detail of the embroidered sock on the Fair Isle panel – the way the outside looks like knitting and the inside looks like the inside of stranded colourwork is just incredible.

More socks

I swear that most of my knitting time is spent on things that aren’t socks; I am currently on the second sleeves of two cardigans and have knitted three of the four clues of Åsa Tricosa‘s mystery shawl knitalong and about a fifth of a Nuvem*, but what gets finished seems to be socks.

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These are my eighteenth pair of Earl Grey socks, and are once again for T. The yarn is from the Knitting Goddess and was one of a month of special one-off colourways inspired by poems which she dyed some years ago now to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

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This one was inspired by Yeats’s poem ‘The Lover Tells Of The Rose In His Heart’:

All things uncomely and broken, all things worn out and old,
The cry of a child by the roadway, the creak of a lumbering cart,
The heavy steps of the ploughman, splashing the wintry mould,
Are wronging your image that blossoms a rose in the deeps of my heart.

The wrong of unshapely things is a wrong too great to be told;
I hunger to build them anew and sit on a green knoll apart,
With the earth and the sky and the water, re-made, like a casket of gold
For my dreams of your image that blossoms a rose in the deeps of my heart.

This is one of my favourite poems, and is the poem I chose to have read at our wedding, so it seemed appropriate that the yarn should become socks for T!

*This is about twice as many WIPS as I normally have, which may explain why they remain in progress rather than being translated into finished objects; I normally have a pair of socks, for bus knitting, a shawl, for when I want complicated knitting, and a cardigan for when I want TV knitting, or something like that, but I keep joining KALs and ending up with more things on the needles.