Frog in knots

Knitting, knots and frogging.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Great Gift Giving Bonanza

You heard it here first.

Each year during the festive season I meet with two of my school friends Jen and Emily, for the exchange of birthday and yule gifts. We live scattered across the country so it's rare we all get together other than this time of year. Our friendship has attracted us the name 'The Weird Sisters', and another friend Adam insists we are more foul than fair.

You've seen the birthday gifts already, Branching Out for Emily and the lizard hot water bottle cover for Jen. Keeping with the themes of leaves and lizards I made them decoupage candle holders from glass vases and tissue paper (there are only so many knitted gifts you can receive before they become Weasley-tastic).

The cartoon above is the first page from the book that Emily gave me for my birthday. It's 'Great Lies to tell Small Kids' by Andy Riley. I used to work with kids and came up with a few corkers myself, but this provides some excellent inspiration. She also got me 'Change the World for a Fiver' which gives social, economic and environmental ideas for improving the world around you. It's a great book with some brilliant suggestions.

I'd already had my birthday present from Jen, a croquet set. For Yule she got me this beautiful money jar. The only problem is that you have to smash it to get your money out, although i'm sure a knife can solve that issue. You are supposed to write a wish on a slip of paper and put it in the jar with your first coin. The wish comes true when you smash it. You're also supposed to buy a new jar from the contents too.

It was lovely to see everyone again and we had a great evening out with much food, wine and merriment.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Blog frivolities

I'm not one for poncing about with my blog (much!) however, i've been playing around with it over the last few days and have some new toys.

If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the sidebar (I know it's cluttered, but I like the purdy buttons) you will see a map full of dots that tells me where in the world you are all from.

Locations of visitors to this page

It doesn't tell me who is who though and i'm nosy and would love to put a face to the dots.

Look at this!

Take pity, even the internet thinks i'm a loser ;)

Check out our Frappr!

So be kind and give me a wave!

I also discovered

My blog is worth $6,774.48.
How much is your blog worth?

So where do I cash it in? That's a lot of yarn potential!

It's actually you good people that come along and comment that make my blog worth something, so thank you for dropping by and taking the time to say such kind things.

However you celebrate this season I hope you enjoy it and that it's as stress free as possible.

Eat, drink and be merry!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


I've had my 'Branching Out' made for about a week now, but i've only just finished blocking it. To say it's been a farce is a bit of an understatement. I don't usually block things, to be quite frank I hadn't heard of blocking until very recently (and i've been knitting for 17 years). I've known to gently press things if they need it, or to tug it about while it's damp, but I was quite bemused at the lengths some people go to with pinning and rolling in towels etc. I guess I didn't really see a need for it until I made this scarf.

At first I tried ironing it. I didn't actually 'melt it' per se, but it was a little, er...well...flat. Yes, I know that's the whole point of ironing, but I mistakenly used my military iron with 2 heat settings - hot and 'kin' hot and it was a little too much. I frogged 5 pattern repeats and reknitted it sucessfully. I really didn't think just wetting it and pinning it would do, so I needed another option. In the meantime i'd read someone at Knitty saying that they'd used a steamer and how easy it was....

My do and don'ts of steam blocking

Do choose something with enough space to pin the whole thing to - the base from the guest bed propped against a wall was idea

Do make sure you have enough pins so you don't have to go racing downstairs mid-proceedure to get the sewing needles in desperation.

Don't work in the semi-darkness so you can't see which end of the needle is which. Having enough piercings in your finger to make a goth teen proud is not a good idea.

Do screw the hose to the attachment properly so it doesn't fall off, scalding your wrist and feet in the process.

Don't set the whole thing up directly under the smoke alarm.

Do leave pins all over the floor, you can pick them up later with your bare feet.

Don't mutter a string of curses after you've finished when you realise it all looks a little, er...well...flat.

It's given it a lovely drape, but has taken away the knitted feel, it's wafer thin. I certainly won't be in a hurry to do it again.

The recipient is worth the trouble though, it's for my friend Emily for her birthday. She's a lapsed knitter recently inspired to pick up the needles again. I'm really looking forward to her coming home for the holidays, she teaches down South so I don't see her so often.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Something for the weekend

I had a bit of S.E.X. this weekend, that's a Stash Enhancement eXpedition and not the real thing, the closest thing i've got to that recently is the dog trying to hump my leg - IN PUBLIC!!!

It really doesn't matter that i've got more yarn than I could knit for a number of years (even at my recent knitting rate), but hearing that my Wool Man is going to be closed until January sent me into a mad panic and a yarn buying frenzy.

I did go with a plan, really I did, and I only came home with a little extra, but now I have to find somewhere to put it. My yarn crates runneth over as it is. I did a rewinding and tidying session last week (it took me 2 full days) hoping to reduce the space required to store it, but to little avail - I need a bigger house with a dedicated knitting room.

I've started planning my New Year knitting with what i've bought.

I've promised Jenny a papoose and have chosen this one from 'Baby Bloom' by Erika Knight - a book with beautiful patterns for baby and the expectant mother, both practical and glam party wear. I'm making it in DK acrylic, white with lemon and lime flecks and lemon as the contrast colour for the edge and bobble.

I've also bought some mink acrylic that is darker and shinier than the yarn for the donkey jacket. I'm thinking a traditional Guernsey sweater would look great in it, I like this one from 'Knits for Babies and Toddlers' by Fiona McTague. It will probably be for my friend Andrea (due in July) as she is convinced she is having a boy.

There was also this as an odd ball that Les had found buried in his store room, he only had one ball left and shoved it in his oddments bin. My mother pounced on it and suggested a lacy baby cardigan, but given how much she likes it, i'm hoping I can eek out a scarf from it. It's Robin Fascination 85% acrylic 15% nylon, it's lilac, pink, peach and green with a shimmer thread running through it.

The rest was just copious amounts of plain white DK acrylic that i'm sure your imagination can supply the picture for. I'm planning plain sweaters with various motifs on the front - muppets and helicopters, although not together!

I was planning on showing you my finished Branching Out today, but it's met with a minor disaster and i'm undergoing a rescue mission on it. I've also finished the white Tassle Tops and the picture is in my Gallery.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Being a bad daughter

Today I was a terrible, terrible child. I'm sure we've all done something that we've felt guilty about where our mothers are concerned, but today I feel like i've done the unforgivable. So what was this heinous crime? No, I didn't put her in a home (despite my threats), nor did I tell the police about the time she went on holiday abroad without me (ok so I was 23, but that's beside the point), nor did I stand and laugh when the dog opened the washing machine and paraded her underwear up and down the garden in front of the workmen doing the new kitchen (well, ok, I did), but it was much worse than that.

Today I frogged some cardigans that she knitted for me when I was at college, and how bad do I feel about it, especially when I think about all the hours she spent working on them. I haven't worn any of them for a number of years and she insists it's fine with her, as the yarn may as well get used for something i'll wear, but I still feel rotten for doing it. I absolutely love the yarn. At the time she knitted it I was in my late teens and really into tie-dye clothing and bright colours and it was the best stuff ever. I still really like it, although I appreciate it's not to everyone's taste. It's so awful, it's fantastic.

There were 3 cardigans in the same type of yarn but different shades, it's multi-coloured mohair boucle. Sound bad - wait till you see it!

It's frogged quite well without damaging too many of the loops, i've just had to be really gentle with it.
I don't know what i'll make with any of it yet, but you can guarantee it will be fugly and will make my friends cringe when I walk into the pub.

No matter how bad I feel about frogging them, I take comfort knowing...

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. ~Honoré de Balzac

Monday, December 12, 2005


Here's the pattern for the mufflers I've been knitting. The stitch pattern is Open Twisted Rib.

With chunky yarn or thicker on 6.5mm needles (see below for yarn requirements)

Cast on 20 sts, k1 row.
Row 1 (ws) - p1, k1, p1 tbl, k1, *p2, k1, p1 tbl, k1, rep from * to last st, p1.
Row 2 (rs) - k1, p1, k1 tbl, p1, *k1, yfwd, k1, p1, k1 tbl, p1, rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 3 - p1, k1, p1 tbl, k1 * p3, k1, p1 tbl, k1, rep from * to last st, p1.
Row 4 - k1, p1, k1 tbl, p1, *k3, pass 3rd k st over 1st 2, p1, k1 tbl, p1, rep from * to last st, k1.

These 4 rows form pattern, repeat to desired length (22" for muffler).
Cast off purlways.

I've been making them long enough to go around the neck once with a short overlap and buttons to fasten. The idea behind them was that they still keep your neck warm without the bulk or hassle of a long scarf.

Yarn requirements:
I didn't fuss about too much with gauge for this as it was only a scarf, chunky or thicker is required - anything around 10-15 sts/4" will work fine. The green one is in a really thick mystery yarn (somewhere between chunky and big wool), unfortunately I can't be any more specific than that. The red one is in chunky (14 st/4") and took approx. 70 yards, it's 5" wide unblocked and 22" long.

Initially I'd planned on putting the buttons on the underside so they would fasten out of view, but I liked the buttons for mine so much I wanted them to be seen. It would also be a little unwieldy with cold fingers.

More examples

This pattern is provided free for your own non-commercial use. This pattern may not be reproduced online in other locations or in hard copy to be sold or distributed without the permission of the owner (that's me!).

Saturday, December 10, 2005

My name is Rain and I'm a knitter

I really do think they should have some form of Knitters Anonymous. I jokingly call my favourite yarn seller my 'dealer' as he supplies my usual drug of choice - acrylic in 100g skeins. The trouble is knitting really is an addiction, I just can't stop myself. My biggest problem is that I like knitting, but i'm not a big fan of sewing up, sewing in ends or putting buttons on. Despite a growing pile of unfinished items there always seems to be something that I simply can't wait to start. Today is a case in point.

I went out this afternoon to get some chunky yarn. My mother has been eyeing up my muffler and has been proclaiming what a good idea it is. Before she could 'borrow' it I decided to make her one of her own. We've been looking around for something different and interesting in a few different yarn shops, but she just wanted plain bright red as it will go with all of her coats. Typically as soon as I got home I had to get started.

This is such a quick knit. On 6.5mm needles and only 22" long it simply flies together. Despite being acrylic it's really soft, much softer than mine in fact. I thought that might have provided my knitting fix for the day, but inspired by how quickly it went, I couldn't resist starting my other chunky project.

I'm making Tassle Tops from Kids Knits by Leslie Ann Price. It's another quick project that could be done in an all day session. The construction is inspired with very little sewing to do (always a winner with me). The body is worked in one piece and then the sleeves are picked up from the shoulders and knit downwards, the hood is picked up from the neck and then sewn at the top. Normally I wouldn't dream of doing an all garter stitch project due to the boredom factor, but in chunky it doesn't take long and looks really effective.

This is the fourth time i've done this pattern in the past few months. It seems to be the one thing that everybody really likes. I've made two in natural and dark brown and one in pale blue and navy. I couldn't decide what colour to do the trim on this one, but went for navy again as I think it looks good with white. This is another pattern I wouldn't mind making for myself, I can just see it in black.

I've been working on the cape too and have finished the back. The patterned sections are 18" and seem to take forever despite the stitch pattern being easy to do and interesting. The yoke and hood are all garter stitch though, so they shouldn't take long once I get there.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Forgive me, for I have sinned.

I know I promised that I wouldn't cast on anything new until all my unfinished items were done, but I was in a knitting mood this afternoon and couldn't stop myself. Itchy fingers have to be scratched. I just about managed to refrain from casting on a cabled aran and went for a smaller project instead.

I've been wanting to make this peruvian chullo for about 6 months and just never got round to it.
I wasn't overly keen on the design of the men and women so I charted some teddy bears instead.
The ears are a bit big on them, but worse things happen in life so they got to stay. Of course there are the obligatory zillion ends to sew in and it needs a lot of tidying up, but as far as cuteness goes - I love it. I'll make the ties and tassle tomorrow. I've been plotting colours and motifs for future attempts at the pattern, so don't be surprised if you see this sort of thing again (especially not in my size).

I did buy one for myself when I was in Peru, but it ended up getting sent with the laundry by mistake and came back tumble dried. Sadly the horror stories about tumble drying alpaca are true. It's a tad on the small side for me now so i'm waiting either for a child of my own or my head to shrink.

I've also finished Buster from Rowan Babies by Kim Hargreaves. This was on my to-do list, so I must earn brownie points for that. I did get buttons for it (maroon), but won't put them on until i'm next having a sewing session. I made the 18" size in DK acrylic opting for white and maroon rather than grey and black. I'm not happy with the stars and may swiss darn over the top of them either to tidy them up or change the shape.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

For Love nor Money

It appears that after a whole day spent exploring every fabric shop in Liverpool city centre (including a large warehouse) I cannot get bottle green satin for love nor money (and believe me I was offering both by the end of the day). I did find green lining fabric, the type found in skirts, but it looked very dull, flat and unappealing. The only green satin was a 1m section in the bolt ends and remnants section. In desperation I decided to go for the other colours in the Jedi Coat to see how they looked and came home with navy blue.

Excuse the dodgy photo - you try photographing satin in the near dark! I actually think I prefer this to the green. It pulls up the blue and makes it more prominent and I think the green would have made the whole thing a little too green. I'm paranoid he's packaged up black by mistake as it looks very dark in dim lamp light, I'll check in the morning in the daylight and if it's black i'll cry (and get back on the train).

I also went on the great button hunt that accompanies each batch of FOs. I didn’t manage to find buttons for everything, but I haven’t exhausted all of my options yet. Apparently I’m too picky when it comes to finding a match, but I hate sewing on something I’m not happy with.

I have been knitting (brownie guide’s honour – does that count if they threw you out?), but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see it.

There are a few new things around the blog, most exciting being a gallery so you can peruse my back catalogue of FOs as well as those which I’ve worked on recently. Bar some of the non-baby items it's all from the last 7-8 months.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

What do donkeys get for dinner?

Half an hour - BUM BUM.

When I was little I used to go to Blackpool every summer. It's a seaside resort in Northern England where my brother and I would ride donkeys along the beach. It's been a tradition since the Victorian era and is still going strong. This summer Blackpool's 200 donkeys were awarded a statutory lunchbreak and various rights to ensure they don't get overworked.

My love of donkeys meant that when I saw the donkey jacket in 'The Baby Knits' book by Debbie Bliss I just had to make it. I knew that my friend Ned and his wife Nicky would appreciate it as they are from my part of the world. They are expecting a boy next month.

I made the 22" size (for a 6 mth old - HA!), hoping that it will fit next winter
when the baby is 1. Rather than using DB's cashmerino aran, I substituted in bog standard DK acrylic. I also looked for a colour that was a lot more like the donkeys I used to ride than the colour recommended. I ended up with a dark mink (125g) and cream (100g). I missed out the pockets, while they looked cute I decided the average 12 month doesn't need them.

I still need to add buttons, but i'm claiming this one as finished. I would have had it done last night, but i'd misplaced an inner ear. Rather than spend 10 minutes making a new one, I chose to spend most of the day turning the house upside down looking for it. I didn't find it, hence the delay.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

No Escape

I had a day out yesterday to Lincoln Christmas Market. It’s the biggest market of it’s type in Europe with over 300 stalls and was inspired by the market in their twin town in Germany. It’s held in the Cathedral Quarter and the grounds of the Castle on the first weekend in December every year. Most of the stalls sell crafts, gifts and traditional food.

I lived near Lincoln during in my Air Farce days and I loved going each year. I was determined this year that I would take my Mum as I was sure she would enjoy it. I tried to sneak my knitting into the car, but I was told it was a day off from knitting and all related knitting talk. A tall order for a 3 hour journey.

We hadn’t been there long when I saw this stall selling Peruvian knit-wear. I bought a few sweaters when I was in Peru a few years ago, but none of them were as nice as the things I saw yesterday. I got chatting to the
woman running the stall and she was really nice. People were flocking around it as the children’s stuff in particular was so beautiful. I didn't buy anything, but came away in awe of the jackets in the picture. They were done in several colours and had matching hats and scarves. There was an awful lot of work in the applique designs and I half wish she had some in my size!

For comparison, here's the alpaca sweater I brought back from Peru for my youngest nephew just after he was born. My sister was kind enough to return it to me when he'd outgrown it rather than passing it on to one of her friends. I've been trying to find the photo of him wearing it, but it's gone AWOL.

(I have one in my size in grey only minus the llama).

I saw a lot of other knitwear, but most of it was similar to the stuff you can buy in the alternative shops that are near me and the prices were pretty similar too. It was all easy stuff to make too, I especially liked some oversized hooded sweaters lined in fleece. I’m not sure if I want to go back to the Dennis the Menace/ Minnie the Minx black and red stripes look that I loved when I was about 8, but it’s still giving me ideas. So much for trying to escape from knitting for the day, it was everywhere.

On a plus note, I did find the perfect man...

Friday, December 02, 2005

No sex please, we're British.

If you are British and you know me, will you please find something else to do in the evening. I know it's cold, but for goodness sake (my hands' sake) will you please buy some winciette pyjamas instead. That's 2 more babies i've heard about in the last week that I need to knit for. I need more notice ladies and please stop cluster bombing them all at the same time. My cousin has just had a baby, there are the two military babies due in January and now two close family friends due in June/July. If you're struggling to find a suitable contraceptive my sister will gladly lend you her 3 boys for half an hour. You won't be crossing your legs after that, you'll be tying them in knots.

My not-quite-finished baby objects box is running over as it is and i've promised myself that I won't cast on anything new until everything else is finished. I've set myself an end-of-the-year-or-else deadline. What the punishment for non compliance is I don't know, but i'm sure it will involve lots of last minute panicking and button sewing. I might have to punish myself with more knitting too.

Before the end of the year you can expect to see:

a sleep (flying) suit with full Air Farce insignia (that's not a typo either). (Needs a collar and buttons)
a camoflage combat jacket (needs bands and pockets sewing on)
a cardigan with stars (needs bands knitting)
a donkey coat (needs sewing together and buttons)
a bear gilet (needs duffle fastenings or a zip)
a lacy cardigan (needs lace trim lengthening for bottom and cuffs)
a teddy bear in a sheep suit (needs sewing and stuffing)
a crocheted pram blanket (needs ends sewing in and lining)

There, now i've confessed my sins I can get on with things. I forgot to mention all the stuff on needles, but there's only so much i'm willing to admit to and only so much space on the internet.