Unwinding

Rewind / unwind / unpick / unravel / frog / begin again (Michael Finnegan). Just to give you a heads up, from the way things are going, these are the future titles of the next few blog posts. I’m just about to frog the sock again. Which is a shame actually, but also doesn’t matter.

After my last post I decided to start again, in grey. This time the cuff took forever because I did 2×2 twisted rib stitch, which is tighter than regular rib and so barely stretched across the needles. I like twisted rib stitch, but is it worth the hassle of trying to squeeze your way through every stitch? Maybe not for a sock. Weirdly, it stays stretched out once you’ve knit it, or it does for me. When I’ve done regular 2×2 rib it sort of sucks itself in and only stretches when you wear it. Twisted rib seems to stay stretched out. Wait – this photo will show you what I mean, twisted rib on the left, regular rib on the right.

Just me, or the same for everyone? Or actually, is it just this yearn? Anyway, once I got past the cuff I thought I’d make life easy and do some plain knitting. And then I thought maybe I should do some colour work after all. I know I said I don’t really like knitting colourwork, but everyone else’s socks on Instagram look really great – and… bleurgh. There you go.

This is an awful photo but I actually really like the sharpness of colour changes in knitting. I don’t think people make much use of it – often people try and soften the edges or try and create organic shapes in colourwork, but there’s something really nice about embracing the fact that slabs of colour just look good. So I went with colour blocks of 4 stitches. This is good because, 1) counting to 4 is easy to remember 2) carrying the other colour over 4 stitches is fine, you don’t need to do any weird ‘catching the float‘ techniques, which I know I’ll forget to do and then risk a flappy thread that’ll catch and break.

Somehow, I did pretty well with this. Usually, because I’m a tight knitter, the fabric gets really pinched when I knit in more than one colour. No matter how hard I try to keep the floats loose. But I think I did ok this time. Or maybe not.

I switched back to grey, measured it against the well fitting stripy sock and decided it was time to do the heel. I did an ok job with the heel itself, and for me, a decent job of picking up the stitches to get the whole sock back on the needle.

But here’s the thing. It just doesn’t fit well. I pulled it on to check the heel, and the colourwork section is just too tight. I can get it on alrightish, but it’s a slight squeeze every time. I would suggest if you’re (I’m) going to do this, and you don’t want to go up a needle size – which is what a lot of people do with colourwork, but I don’t want to do – then you’ll just have to add more stitches to account for the tightness of the floats. The yarn also shrinks ever so slightly in the wash too – even though it is listed machine washable at 30 degrees. If I did finish the sock it wouldn’t take long before I couldn’t wear it at all. So, I’ll unravel it and try again.

Who says knitting isn’t a cheap hobby? I’ve been using these same balls of yarn for entertainment for literally weeks. Maybe one day I’ll even get a functioning pair of socks out of them too.

I’m assuming someone’s written extensively about the fact you need to account for all this if you’re knitting colourwork socks, but never mind. Experience is a great teacher, as they say (when they’re being polite about the fact you’ve just screwed something up needlessly).

In more productive news, I knitted the bear a blue t-shirt. I think it’s better. Same as the rabbit in the previous post – which, it turns out, is loved.

So that’s where we’re at this week. A few steps forward in knowledge, and a lot of rows back in knitting.

Unravelling

Truth be told, I was a bit grumpy last time I wrote. Not sure why. I’m much happier right now though, because I’ve finally managed to dig out a bramble from the garden. It took about 30 minutes kneeling in the wet mud, with my head in a flowering currant (or indeed ribes sanguineum), but I finally did it. It’s been bugging me since we moved in (3 years ago). It’s hard to get to, and the… stems/trunks/stalks (?) that come off the bramble are the kind of thickness you can only imagine in fairytales. I’ve never seen anything like it. But as the currant bushes haven’t come into leaf let I could finally get to the heart of the bramble. It was a beast. I thought I might have to ask for help digging it up, but I got there in the end. This is in no way interesting to anyone but me, but honestly, I am very pleased with myself.

In other news, I made a quick-ish rabbit for someone at work. Originally I’d planned to dress her in the dungarees I made for the bear (I’m not convinced the bear is happy with their clothes), but then I just sort of knew that the person who would receive the bunny would prefer it with a tail – and I’d sewn up the back of the bear’s dungarees and there’s no way to unpick it. So I made a new pair of dungarees, but without the pocket this time. Actually, they’re quite cute pocketless, I think. The white bunny is there for scale – both made with the same pattern, but the white bunny is in worsted weight yarn.

Here’s an artless shot of the bunny’s tail as proof. I posted her to the recipient on Monday, and by Friday, I’d given her up as lost. Which was awkward. Do you tell someone you’ve made them something and it’s got lost in the post? If they weren’t expecting to get it, would you just be making a scene? I wasn’t too sure. But then on Friday afternoon, I got a nice message to say thank you. I think the bunny had just taken the long route across London.

Here’s a sort of secret. My boss knows, not everyone else does. If I’m in a long (up to an hour +) meeting which is mostly listening, I sometimes knit. If I don’t knit, I end up getting instant messages about work which I feel obliged to answer, and then I check my email and before long I’m responding to a bunch of work related questions and then I might as well not be in the meeting at all. Knitting keeps me focussed and listening to what people are saying. I’m not alone in this, I’ve heard other people say it helps them to focus too – just no one I work with, as far as I know. Anyway. I unravelled one sock in one meeting, and this sock in another:

It got to the point where it was okay, just not…that great. It’s not like I desperately need a knitted sock I don’t like much, so I unravelled it and started again. I thought maybe solid blocks of these colours would work better?

The colours do work better like this – but then I was working on the heel yesterday morning and decided I didn’t love this either so I unpicked this too. I have no idea what I’m looking for in this sock, but clearly none of the above. I’ll work it out. I did actually find someone who makes beautiful socks on Instagram. Amazing colours, beautiful photos. Maybe I will have to go back to learning colourwork after all? I love how solid her colours are. Less about texture, really. Although this is the wrong yarn for trying that kind of thing. Anyway. I’m still attempting to knit socks, basically. What are you up to?

A bear (left) behind

How on earth is it December? What a weird year. I can hardly remember… well, the summer even. It feels like so long ago. This year feels like it’s been 5 years in 12 months, without time to catch a breath. A never-ending stream of things that needed to be done. I’m not sure why, but it’s been a restless year. There’s been no rhyme or rhythm to it.

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I haven’t had a lot of time to make anything, so the things I have made have happened a bit sporadically. I had a huge panic about the yarn I have just sitting around in boxes, so I made this wee bear, but she never got her own blog post.

Made from Lorna’s Laces sock yarn, she’s actually a really nice size. I think sock yarn could be a good weight for toys. I don’t love the stripes (bit busy), but they’re not as bad as they could be. The pattern (as is often the case) is from Little Cotton Rabbits.  In this photo she has no nose (how does she smell?! etc). I ummed-‘n’-ahhed a lot about whether or not to give her a nose, and seeing this photo I’m still not sure it was the right thing. I think she looks quite cute without it.

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Here she is with a nose, and with my favourite elephant for a size comparison. And here she is larking around with the rest of the gang…

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The dress was another random make to try and get rid of some cotton I don’t really like! To be honest it doesn’t really fit her – and nor does this pink jumper. Both a bit too big.

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I really did think about buying more yarn to make her some clothes, even though the whole point of making her was to use up yarn in the first place. As I type there are 2 arms, 2 legs, a body, 2 ears and an almost finished elephant’s head in the kitchen, using up more of the yarn stash. I think I started that in August maybe, but I just haven’t had any time to finish it off.

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I did finally make a human sized jumper though! But it was for a very small human. A friend had a baby, and it seemed like a sensible, and hopefully nice thing to make a little jumper. There were a lot of stitch markers involved which almost gave me a nervous breakdown in the beginning, but once I got going, really helped.

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There’s a small cable down the front, which made it a bit more interesting to knit. The sleeves were a horror though – I just could not get nice purled cuffs when I was knitting in the round. I was on DPNs (ie, not using the magic loop on circulars) and I’m not sure if it’s just harder on DPNs or I was doing something really wrong, but after 3 attempts, I decided to go for ribbed cuffs. (You don’t even want to know about the language that got me through this phase.) After a severe bit of blocking it turned out ok, I think. Not perfect, but just about ok enough to gift.

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Actually the mother of the recipient wrote me an incredibly nice thank you note. The baby is still a bit small to wear this (it’s for 3-6 months I think) so we’ll all have to wait a bit longer to see if it’s actually functional at all!

I recently moved house. And I also recently had to go away for a week for work. Could I find my tatting bag? No I could not. It’s somewhere in the house purposefully placed so I can find it easily. WHERE THOUGH?! Where is it? I just can’t figure it out. This means I travelled with nothing but a book for entertainment, which must be the first time in years. Tatting is so small, you can always find room for it so I take it with me almost everywhere. It feels weird not having shuttles to hand even if I haven’t been tatting for a while. I’ll have to start yet another hunt. I haven’t made a single tatted snowflake this year.

And on that note, I should go. There are obviously, more Things That Need To Be Done. I hope that wherever you are, you have a good holiday season, and a great new year!

 

 

 

 

Rabbit round-up (and elephants too)

Well, here we are, back again in an Autumnal England. The colours are beautiful and it’s freezing cold! I left Athens one week and one day ago and I’ve had a raging cold ever since. Hopefully that will go in the next few days, as I think tissue demand is higher supply and if this continues, the end won’t be pretty.

Athens was a brilliant adventure. Hard work, but amazing to be able to live another life for a while. I was only supposed to go for three months, but decided to stay for eight. We travelled around when we could (which wasn’t quite as much as I’d’ve liked), and explored the Peloponnese, Crete, Deplhi and finally the Metéora. The Metérora monasteries might be one of my favourite places to explore. Breathtakingly beautiful. The weather was a little crazy when we were there (we literally had our head in the clouds at times) but it was magical none-the-less. This photo, taken on an iPhone, doesn’t really do it justice, but I’ll share anyway…

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I also had a lot of time to myself in Athens. The Mister is a freelancer and so was sometimes able to visit for a few weeks, an other times he had to head back home (or to Germany where his work sometimes takes him). Before I went I took my first steps into trying out the patterns by Little Cotton Rabbits. Actually they’re the perfect thing to take away… I ended up making rather a lot.

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This is an in-progress shot, taken on the mustardy-coloured leather sofa in the front room in Athens and these two are the end result, taken on our pink window sill:

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The one on the left should be going to a new home later this week. The one on the right was gifted to my mum on a quick visit back in the summer.

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This little lady had three different dresses, before finally settling back with the first one. After the addition of a cardigan it seemed the original suited her best after all, and she’s also gone to a new home.

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This one (mentioned in my previous post) was just a head for quite some time. She has a piebald patch, made with intarsia. Its not the neatest knitting, but she’s got such a kind face when you see her in real life it seemed a bit mean not to give her a body! As she’s not the neatest bunny she’s staying with me for a while, until I can find someone who loves her just as she is, imperfections and all.

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This little fella is exactly that. Little. I made him on 2.75 needles, rather than 3 and it made quite a difference somehow. He’s really compact and petite! I like him a lot, and he is waiting to be gifted to a gentleman at xmas. I think his jumper is the neatest I’ve ever made. I sort of made him as I wanted to make a brown elephant, rather than a grey one and actually I think the colour works quite nicely.

And talking of colour…

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This wee chap is also made on 2.75 needles as a bit of an experiment. I did actually buy this colour with the idea of making a blue bunny or elephant but thought that despite the yarn being technically the same size as the brown, it felt a lot thicker. In the end I decided to try it anyway and I like it. I know the jumper doesn’t suit him, I’ll make him a cream one I think, but I think blue is a good colour for a bunny!

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And talking of the jumper, I really enjoyed making this! It’s another Little Cotton Rabbits pattern. This is my first real venture in to cable knitting and I have a feeling that I like cables more than colour work. I’m going to make another one to test that theory but I think this is more successful than my colour work so far… time will tell. (I get really annoyed by the tightness of colour work, no matter how hard I try to keep it loose.)

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I think this could be the colour work I’m suited to best! It’s for a tiny xmas stocking—rather embarrassingly it’s yet another pattern by Little Cotton Rabbits, but this one is free. You see, once you have the yarn and the needles, you can make all kinds of things…

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This elephant was made as knitting therapy before I went and kept me company throughout. I love her to bits actually.

Now I’m back I have one more bunny to make, and then I’ll try moving on to something new. Maybe finally a human-sized jumper or something? I’ve loved making these though, they’ve been everything I needed. Complex enough, relaxing enough and delightful enough. They’ve kept me interested and motivated and given my head a little space when I needed it most. There’s a lot to be said for knitting as therapy so thank you to my Nan for teaching my Mum, and my Mum for teaching me (even though she’d rather be doing embroidery herself ;o)