Thursday, 7 June 2012

Whole lotta stitching goin' on ...

I’ve not had time to write for the last few weeks for the simple reason that I’ve been knitting, knitting and more knitting.  And also a little bit of wedding planning as November looms.  I had a little go on the sewing machine as well the other evening and did a beautiful job on a zipper for a knitting bag but, sadly, a bodge job on the bag itself.  It was supposed to be a box bag to store my needles, yarn etc for a project, but ended up looking more like a Dachshund.  This I have put down to the fact I was rushing and not really thinking about what I was doing; however, it actually works quite well because my super long KnitPro needles fit like a charm in the “nose to tail” section of the bag.  And honestly I’m so darned chuffed with how the zip turned out that I still believe it is a thing of beauty.  Stick some ears and a tail on the bag and just admire that zipper people.  Everyone loves a Dachshund after all.  I haven't included a picture, however, for shame.

Anyway, the knitting is going well on the jacket although my natural perfectionist tendencies (as not demonstrated by the bag) coupled with the fact that it’s for someone else, mean I had to rip back a couple of times at the outset as I got the lace pattern (which is really quite simple) memorised.  Note to self for future projects: start on a smaller front panel first as it’s less galling to rip back than the full back of the jacket.  The only later slip-up was mother-in-law related – she was watching the Jubilee celebrations but, apparently unimpressed by the actual commentary, decided to offer a non-stop (she must have been a didgeridoo player in a previous life) warble through all the of the intricacies of the four hours of footage.  Knitting was supposed to be a happy distraction from both the Jubilee kerfuffle (I’m not really a fan of mass social outpouring) and the delicate politics of spending time with someone else’s mother.  In the end, the fiddliness of trying to pull back a piece that is at least 25% yarnover was quite distracting.  I am now happily inserting lifelines at crucial parts of the knit.  I won’t be fooled again (sorry, CSI is a big part of the soundtrack to my knitting – nothing says “lovely Sunday afternoon of knitting” better than murder and mayhem in Nevada after all). 

The bed jacket so far

Close up of the lace pattern
The other thing I’ve learned is that using my Royal ball winder when ripping back means there’s less tension on the yarn then if I make a ball myself so in principle it is less roughed up (for want of a more technically accurate phrase) when I come to re-knit with it.  I also found my yarn swift, which I bought many moons ago and had never taken out of the box, and decided to ball up all those skeins I had lurking around the place.  My God, it’s a revelation.  Whenever I’d open a new delivery of yarn my little heart would sink if it contained skeins.  Often, I wouldn’t buy a yarn at all if it only came in skeins.  I still have flashbacks of the many hours spent with numb feet, yarn wrapped around them, trying to maintain an even tension as I rolled skein after skein into balls.  Horrifying.  And the ball winder on its own, it’s fine and a bit quicker but you’ve still got to use one extremity or another to perch the skein on and inevitably it will un-secure itself from the table and plop straight off the side.  I was often crestfallen.  With the swift the whole combo is magic.  Within half an hour I had eight new neat, central feed balls of yarn to play with. 

It was almost too much for me and I vacillated wildly between casting on one thing or another – doing absolutely nothing in the meantime - before remembering that I had to restart the front right of the bed jacket again.  I’ve bagged up all my goodies though with a note of what the yarn is for.  I’ve also created a “knit list” so that I don’t lose track.  I’ve drawn the line at setting up a spreadsheet although I was tempted.  And I’ve booked him indoors a golf lesson (which I only last week described as “the least sexy hobby a man can have”) to get him out into the fresh air to de-stress and allow me some valuable knitting time.  Golf – both altruistic and incredibly self-serving.  The ideal gift.  Perhaps I could knit him some Argyll socks for Christmas to encourage him to keep up the new hobby.

I have a couple of other projects on the go including a dress from Claire Montgomerie’s Knitting Vintage, which I think will test my flea-like patience to the limits but it’s just too beautiful and will go very nicely with the enormous petticoat I bought the other day.  When on earth a woman in her thirties will be able to wear this combination I don’t know but if I do wimp out of wearing the petticoat with it, the dress itself is absolutely gorgeous.  

Lacy New Look Dress by Claire Montgomerie (picture from Ravelry)
The other thing that launched itself onto my sticks this weekend is the Frost Flowers Frou Frou which I have decided to knit in Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Amber for my wedding to wear under a vintage fur coat and over the following fabrics which will, at some point, be fashioned into a dress although not by me I should add.  I have a feeling I’d get hold of these lovely fabrics and end up with another Dachshund and while I believe everyone loves them, most of us aren’t keen to head up the aisle dressed as one on a day when all eyes are likely to be if not on me, then certainly on my sartorial choices.  So I will leave that to someone else’s capable hands after I manage to translate the image in my head onto paper.

When you see your dress, you just know - now it just needs to become a dress!
Top of the knit-list currently then is the bed jacket (need to get that finished soonest), the “It cannot fail to please” jumper from Susan Crawford, a Milo dress for my niece, and then I have to start finishing some of my projects including my de-reindeered Christmas jumper, the baby blanket that I lost interest in when I decided I didn’t like the colour although I’m now well over halfway, and then the Paper Dolls jumper which I have cast on and failed to go anywhere with due to a deep-seated and irrational fear of knitting in the round, which I am in the process of conquering.

The City Lit continues to impress with the great short courses it offers.  The last three Sundays I’ve attended an “Improvers Hand Knitting” workshop which was good fun.  Although the techniques were things I was broadly familiar with, it helped me tweak some of my bad habits, built my confidence (in particular the section on knitting in the round), and also got me started on the painful road to learning to flick rather than throw when I knit English style.  If the yarn is fluffy or there’s a good solid lace pattern, then I knit Continental style.  However, if the tension needs to be just-so, I have to throw and it’s not very quick.  Starting to learn to flick has been an eye opener and I’ve had to adapt it slightly as holding the right needle like a pen when the needle is loaded with stitches really wasn’t working for me so I hold the needle under my palm.  Still not quite mastered the pivot or managing the tension of the yarn but perseverance is obviously an important part of the journey.  What was that about flea-like patience again ...


  1. Hi,

    I just found the Lacy New Look dress pattern and it IS a gorgeous dress! Have you finished it?

    I'm eager to get started, but I'm also a bit apprehensive because it'll be my largest project to date. However, when I think about how lovely it'll look this spring (and yes, I'll be wearing a crinoline too), I feel re-inspired.

    1. Hi there, I can't believe I missed your comment and I'm so sorry that I did - did you get started on your lacy dress? I got all my skeins balled up and planned to start knitting and then ... just stopped. I must get cracking on it again as it could be rather fabulous for autumn. I'd love to hear how your dress is coming along or any other projects you're working on... sorry again for slow response - I dropped off the blogosphere for a while there.