Frog in knots

Knitting, knots and frogging.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Knitting Pixies

It appears that the Knitting Pixies have been to visit. I know they've been when something has gone wrong. Whether it's something that won't grow, no matter how much I work on it, or a dropped stitch, I know they're to blame. I must have really upset them this time because they've wandered off with a whole ball of yarn, not just any ball of yarn, but the one I needed to finish my project, the one that I can't replace. Of course it could have been the dog, but knowing how much he likes to pull balls apart I'd have noticed him playing with it.

It was some of the yarn I showed you a few posts ago, the pink, lilac, blue and white crepe which I have since traced to being Sirdar Silky Look in Maypole. I have been to all of the yarn shops nearby and nobody seems to have any, nor can get it. I'd be really loathe to buy more, especially at full price as I know I bought three balls and I definitely brought them home. Somewhere in the process of putting them upstairs and tidying them away, one has gone AWOL. Pixies! Definitely the Pixies.

Being an idiot I started knitting with the rest of it because I figured it must be there somewhere but despite turning the house upside down twice I've been unable to uncover it. This leaves me in a pretty crappy place. If I frog, they'll give it back, if I leave it I'll go mad looking for it.

I'd started Daydream in it from 'Rowan Babies' by Kim Hargreaves and it was turning out beautifully. I have enough for one more sleeve, but as I like knitting similar parts at the same time I decided to hold off until I have enough for both. In desperation I might adapt the pattern and work shorter sleeves.

If I knew what the Pixies eat I'd leave them an offering. One of my biscuits went missing the other day, but that one definitely was the dog.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Free to Stitch - Free to Bitch

I just wanted to show my support for this cause. I put the button in my sidebar days ago, but reckon all the pretty buttons may dazzle you long before you reach the bottom. Click on the button above to learn more. A brief overview, a New York sewing firm have laid claim to the phrase Stitch n Bitch and are using bully boy legal tactics to close down sites that use it. This has affected a large number of knitting groups. Many yahoo groups have been shut down, depriving a lot of people of their main information and contact source.

It's pathetic and ridiculous.

I really hope this hasn't affected your SnB group.

If you want to show your support then there are a number of ways to do it, not least by putting a button on your blog to spread the word. They even have a selection of fancy flashing ones.

Image Hosted by

Let's hope this nonsense stops before it affects any more groups.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Just call me Olga

Being cursed with the shoulders of a Russian shot putter should not give me pretentions of Olympic achievement. Since my kayaking days are long since over I'm running out of events I really could compete in.

Thank goodness for the Knitting Olympics!

Now there's something I can do!

If you haven't heard about this yet (where have you been?) then you can clickety click the button above to go to Stephanie's blog (Yarn Harlot) to find out all about it.

I know I've mentioned in other places that I wasn't going to join this, but I figured that since I'll be watching the Olympics anyway then I may as well have something to show for it at the end. I love watching the skating and I got hooked on the curling at the last one - Go Rhona! I also enjoyed the tea-traying event that got reintroduced, can't remember what it was called, but it basically involved lying head first on a tea tray and throwing yourself down the bobsled track.

Another reason for doing it is to get my cardigan done. Scarlett's birth has set me off in a girly baby knitting frenzy and sometimes I just can't help myself or stop. If I'm not forced to make my own stuff then I'll never get it done.

I'm designing it myself and will be making it out of the same yarn as the Flying Suit. I'm planning a fitted raglan cardigan, with a shawl collar. It will be long length (roughly mid-thigh) with curved fronts. I'm sure there are probably patterns out there similar to what I have in mind but I want it to be just right. I've called it "Does My Bum Look Big In This?" because that's the first thing I'll be asking when I try it on. Having the arse of an elephant on the torso of a midget doesn't help.

Of course there was then the dilemma of which team I was going to knit for. I already know of one act of treason - Shame on you Sharon!

With a button like this... could I resist my home team?

Although Team Angstylvania over at The Anti-Craft put forward an interesting option. Their ethos

"We'd have to care to finish."
- Svetlana Vyaloctova, Team Angstylvania coach

at least gives an excuse for those cutting it fine towards the end.

Being a Blog-ho meant I couldn't help but sign up to the Team Knittyboard blog.

One team I didn't want to join, but think deserve a mention are

Other knitters I know (from my Blogs That Rock list) taking part are


so please visit them and cheer them on too.

Of course if you are just too damn lazy for something so energetic...

For more great buttons like this one and the British Team one then visit The Knotty Girls.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Compulsory sewing classes for all

I have to say that most men I know wouldn't have a clue how to sew on a button, let alone how to get a neat seam between two pieces of fabric, so please tell me why I'm trusting someone to do that to my face. Sewing should definitely be on the school curriculum. I've been trotting back and forth to the hospital a few times in the past week to visit various consultants, I'm finally getting my back and pelvis seen to (halle-freaking-llujah). I'm also having a rather nasty mole taken off my temple. Given the size of the mole, it's going to leave a heck of a scar. Fortunately it's right on my hairline so it shouldn't be too noticeable and I've already had a fringe cut in to hide it. It's going to be like having half a facelift. I know I'm no oil painting, but I didn't quite have being a Picasso in mind.

Talking of things being sewn together in a strange manner, I've just made a rather odd cardigan for baby Scarlett (Yes, she now has a name!). I must admit I'm not very happy about it (the cardigan, not the name). It was the Garter Stitch Cardigan from 'Simple Knits for Cherished Babies' by Erika Knight. I actually decided to abandon the garter stitch altogether as the yarn I chose looked far better in stocking stitch. It was the only pink DK I had in at the time and I was itching to knit something girly. I thought it had a very odd construction. Cast on x sts, knit half the back, cast on extra either side for the sleeves, work so many, turn, knit the fronts with increases for the v-neck, cast off for the sleeves, carry on knitting, cast off, join in to the other side and repeat to match the first. You might think that knitting it in one piece is a bonus, with just the underarm and side seams to sew, but given that the book is aimed at beginners I thought it was a bit complicated to follow if you don't know what to expect.

Anyway, here it is.
I'm really not sure if Jenny will like it (I'm not super keen on it), but I've sent it on anyway. All of my knitting has a provision - if you don't like it, you don't have to keep it. I'd rather offer a get out clause and be able to pass it on to someone else than to have something stuck in a drawer and never worn.

The yarn is some of the first yarn I ever bought (all by myself out of my pocket money) aged about 10. I think it may have been Patons, I've long since lost the bands but remember it was called Seaspray. I also have 100g in green, 200g in peach and a tiny bit of blue left. It's a boucle yarn, varigated with 2 shades of the colour and white and with a shiny white strand twisted around it.

As I wasn't sure if I had enough to make the cardigan (and my tension was way off), rather than faff about with needle sizes, I decided to scale down the pattern to a smaller size than the one given that would work with my gauge. I did this as I went along rather than by writing it out first and it worked. It's good to keep the old brain ticking over.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

She's here

I've been holding off the birth announcement waiting for a name, but Mum and Dad are still undecided. Jenny gave birth yesterday to a 7lb 7oz beautiful baby girl, who by all accounts is just perfect. I'm absolutely overjoyed for them and know they'll make excellent parents.

Since I did all of my girly knitting early on, I feel like I haven't made anything pretty for ages. I feel like I've made far too many things that would do either, but are actually a little boyish. I went into town today for a haircut and came home with mounds of girly yarn from the market. It was an accident, really it was, but it was too much of a bargain to leave behind. It's all without labels, but some of it I recognise from John Lewis and another expensive yarn store I go to (mostly just to lust after nice stuff). At 49p (86 cents) per 50g ball it would have been rude not to. I could have gone mad, but showed amazing restraint. (It was at Habiknit for those of you in the North)

En stash.. (as always, click to see bigger)

3 balls, 2 shades of pink and white. It falls somewhere between DK and 4 ply so i'll have to swatch it before I find a project for it.

5 balls, raspberry crepe with silver strands (4ply). I'm tentatively thinking of making a bolero from this.

3 balls, shades of pink, lilac, blue and white. It's crepe 4 ply like the rapsberry. I'll probably make Daydream from 'Rowan Babies' by Kim Hargreaves.

4 balls, brown beige and cream 3ply. This is probably going to be a complete pain to match to a pattern so I might design something myself. I just thought it was a bit different and would make a change from pink.

1 and a half balls, white. This is velvety and tufty. I almost paid a small fortune for some of this just last week. They also had lilac, pale blue, lemon and a few varigated ones that were a bit on the bright side. Since I have no idea what it will knit like I decided not to get any more of this. I'm considering it for the white tufty bits on the Baby Ugg boots once I've found a sub for the brown.

Congratulations again Jenn and Nick. I can't wait to see her.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Cruise control

I don't think there can be many young women who made it through the 80s without having a crush on Tom Cruise. I can only have been about 7 or 8 when Top Gun first came out, but it had a lasting impression on me. In fact, that film has a lot to answer for, it was no accident that I or a lot of others of my generation ended up in the Air Force. Of course we didn't tell the recruiters that...

Although my time is served, when it came to knitting for two of my Air Force friends, I couldn't help but notice the resemblance between a babygro and a flying suit and curiously had an abundance of olive green in my stash. It didn't take very long for an idea to be born (although this baby is taking its time about it).

Despite a few issues with creating the way the crotch would fasten it was pretty easy to design and didn't take long to knit up. It's an 18" chest made from Patons Fairytale 4ply (60% acrylic 40% nylon), it's wonderfully soft and can even be machine washed and tumble dried.

It's been languishing in my unfinished box for months. I needed to embroider the various badges to turn an otherwise boring outfit into true Mini-Me status. The embroidery is somewhat crude to say the very least, but you get the idea (although I've blanked out the name tag). Nick, can you please transfer to 7 Sqn because the badge is easier to do. The elephant looked suspiciously like a camel at one point and I was loathe to redo it.

Be it son or daughter on arrival s/he can be dressed just like Mummy and Daddy.

With other military based outfits in progress I'm concerned about turning into a novelty knitter based on my own whims. Since you already know I take my careers direction from films you won't be surprised if you see me dressed as a Pirate. Don't point and laugh - just show me that horizon.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Just tie me to my rocking chair

No knitting today I'm in shock.

I've just found out that I'm going to be a GREAT Auntie. That's not me proclaiming how good I'm going to be at it (although my favourite Nephew thinks I rock). That's me saying...

OH My $%£&!@ Word!

My oldest Niece is pregnant. Before you think I come from a family of slappers, my Sister is 18 years older than me and the Niece in question is 21.

It's more the fact that I'm going to be a Great Auntie aged just 26 that bothers me. This leaves a very small amount of time before theoretically I could become a Great, Great Auntie. There's even the possibility that there could be two more Greats in there before I die. I do not want to be Great, Great, Great, Great Aunt Rain.

And to top it off, when is this baby due? Yes you guessed it, July! I already have 3 babies due in the June/July slot and there just isn't room for any more. If you know me,


I'm pleased for her, really I am, but where do I get the extra set of hands I need for all that knitting. I wonder if it's possible to knit with your feet?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Inside the mind of a serial knitter

When I was filling out the description bits for many of the 64 million web rings I'd joined I needed something to say. I came up with something like - Muddles through crafting on a whim, mostly made up as I go along. "CODSWALLOP!" I hear you cry, "there are pattern listings all the way through the posts". That is indeed true, but especially when it comes to baby patterns, if there is something out there similar to what you want in the size that you need then why spend time designing?

Sometimes though, if you have a slightly off the wall idea, it's off to the drawing board. With me that tends to be quite literal. You're probably familiar with the quote from Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's - "Jose brought up the blueprints for a new ranch house... I have this strange feeling that the blueprints and the knitting instructions got switched. I may be knitting a ranch house." You could just as easily make the same mistake with me. I work via a series of technical drawings, sometimes to scale, sometimes not. Either way, my knitting designs don't generally have written directions, but more often than not a map.

I didn't think it was an unreasonable expectation to find a pattern for a 4ply baby grow amongst the hundreds of patterns we have in the house. It seems though, that I was asking too much as I wanted buttons both up the front and under the legs. I tried combining different patterns and sizing down DK ones, but I couldn't create anything like what I had in mind. Time to reach for some paper.

You might be wondering why I was being quite so picky, but it was a very special project. I was pushing my luck a little too far with Nick when I knitted a sheep suit for his baby (he's Welsh, but not without humour), so I thought I'd knit something to make up for it. Given that he's military aircrew I thought he might appreciate a replica flying suit for the wee one when he/she finally puts in an appearance.

Jenny asked me last week how it was coming along as I've been telling her since August that it still needs a collar. Well, er, Jenn, it still needs a collar. I am contemplating said collar as I type and I've promised it by the weekend. I've also got plans for wee Sergeants stripes and flying badges etc so the bean can be just like Daddy.

There must be something about this yarn that sets me off in a designing frenzy. I woke in the early hours a few days ago and grabbed a scrap of paper to scribble on. My next big project the 'Does My Bum Look Big In This?' Cardigan (also in this yarn) is currently mapped out on the back of an envelope, meaning that it's either going to be the size of a postage stamp, or that I need to add a bit more detail.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

So where do I sign?

I must admit to never having worked in a knitting friendly workplace. I did bar work when I was a student, so between the potential spillage and smoke it just wouldn't have been practical, not to mention how busy it was. I've also worked as a watersports instructor in the Med and you can't knit whilst windsurfing. My military days didn't exactly lend themselves to knitting either... although I think you could do a lot of damage to the enemy with some needles and yarn, you'd die of embarrassment wearing some of the things I've knitted. I was in John Lewis in Liverpool today and the ladies there don't seem to have the same problem, six of the eight Habidashery Department staff were sat knitting, so where do I sign up?

Unfortunately I was only looking for mundane bits and pieces like buttons and not on a yarn mission, but I did manage to find these clasps for my coat (i'm still in the process of lining it - well still thinking about the process of lining it). I needed three, but there were only two and a half in the tube. Two and a half - I'd like to know how they ended up with a half, but the lady was kind enough to locate more at other stores.

I also managed to pick these up (not JL) for the grand sum of 71p. They're plastic, not wood, but i'm still looking forward to designing a bag to go on them.

My other less obvious yarn related purchase was a set of
electronic scales. I tend to work by weight and not yardage and so it's important for me to know exactly how much I have. My old mechanical scales are er..well..a long way from being accurate. They were also half price in Argos and it would have been rude not to...

On the actual knitting front not much has been happening. The tiny cardigan I was working on yesterday got ripped so many times that I gave up. I was too tired and annoyed and couldn't face casting on again. To make up for not sending something else, I decided to jolly up the boat neck sweater by swiss darning a teddy bear's head onto it. It's not so big that it won't fit reasonably soon.

I just wanted to get it all out of the way as I have other things on my mind...and they're adult sized!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Impatient Little Imp

It appears that bean number two just couldn't wait any longer and has jumped the queue to become baby number one. Despite being three weeks early, Ned and Nicky are delighted with baby Sol who came into the world a happy and healthy 5 lb 10 oz. He's only little, but by all accounts is an absolute cutie.

He has also prompted some panic knitting on my part as I never knit anything smaller than an 18" chest. My brother was a whopping 11 lb and has been a family lesson in not knitting small sizes.

I was already in the middle of knitting this boat neck sweater for him from 'Baby Knits for Beginners' by Debbie Bliss when I found out, so I finished it off while choosing something smaller which I hope to have finished by tomorrow. This is the laziest piece of knitting that I have ever done, no neck shapings just increases on the sleeves. I added in a reverse row at the top of the sleeves just to make it match up a little better with the neck sts. I also undid the cast on rows for all the pieces and cast then off instead to stop it rolling quite so much at the bottom. I subbed in DK acrylic for the cashmerino aran (nice but over-priced IMHO), it has a slightly more open weave as it's knitted on 5mm, but isn't out of range for the yarn and produces a similar enough gauge to get away with. It only took about 50 g. I know pale blue is a little unimaginative, but you never know if more unusual colours will match up with the baby's other outfits.

As for the other bean, Jenny is getting very impatient and was almost induced on Friday but got sent home from the hospital. If you have any tips for hurrying things along then answers on a postcard to....

Saturday, January 07, 2006

T minus one to debarkation

In case you haven't noticed, I'm not of diminutive size, I've just been knitting a lot of stuff for babies recently. In just seven days time bean number one is due to arrive in the world. They won’t let Jenny go more than two weeks over her due date so the baby will be here any time soon. She sent me a photo of her bump a few days ago and to quote my mother, “Is she sure there’s just one in there?” I hope there is – I’m not knitting two of everything!

Talk about a deadline, I’ve only been knitting for this baby for 8 months and I still don’t have everything done that I wanted to. I’m going to be that mad old auntie (not a real one, the type that did water aerobics with your mum) that sends knitted gifts for every occasion until the baby turns 18. I’ve been trying to get as much done as possible to last the first two years as I don’t know where life will take me in the meantime (hopefully travelling) and if I’ll be able to knit.

To keep the little ‘un wrapped up warm I’ve made him or her a papoose (I’ve requested a girl – I like knitting for girls). It’s from 'Baby Bloom' by Erika Knight and is a different approach to a blanket. It’s limited in use due to size, but for the time it lasts it can’t be kicked off like a blanket could. It’s also the most boring piece of knitting I have ever done. Cast on 80 sts and knit Forest knit. Aaaarrrggghhh! Had I any sense, I’d have done it on a machine. It’s one of those things that you have to force yourself to keep working on as it was mind numbingly dull.

I made it in DK acrylic and it’s really soft. It’s got green and yellow flecks in that will match the nursery. The pattern was for any DK weight yarn, but suggested a wool/cotton blend which will explain why it required 300g but took less than 200g. I have plenty left over that will be enough for a cardigan or jumper. I'm debating the bobble that is in the book. It looks cute and finishes it off nicely, but I wonder at how annoying it might become actually in use.

Baby number two (also from my ex-squadron) isn’t due for another 3 weeks so that gives me a bit more time. I definitely think there is something in the water as I also have 3 friends expecting in the summer. One day I’ll get to knit something for myself ;)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

More mufflers

Over the festive season I was invited to Emily's parents for dinner and drinks. Emily's mother admired my muffler and asked if i'd make her some to go with her new coat. She offered to pay me, but I was more than glad to make them anyway. She brought round the yarn she'd chosen on Tuesday night and I finshed them off yesterday. They really are a quick make and easy to do.

Here are the finished articles.

The pink one is in Aran weight yarn used double throughout.

The cream one is in chunky yarn and feels incredibly soft.

Both are in acrylic.

Pattern here.

I blocked them this morning, again using the steamer, but this time without the pressing attachment, just a hose. I then dried them off with a hairdryer as I was too impatient to wait. I even managed it without the hassle of last time.

I just wanted to stretch out the pattern and you can see the difference it makes.

These were scanned, I got the idea from Bonnie at 'Toward the Blue Peninsula' who scans all of her knitting, it is a particularly good way of showing stitch patterns.

Jackie has just been to pick them up and has exchanged them for a fine bottle of wine. Hmm, knitting for wine, I think i'm onto something... although not knitting with wine, that could be disasterous.

She was also kind enough to let me keep the remaining yarn. The pink was out of a 400g ball so there is plenty left for other projects.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

These boots were made for walking

Girls have shoe festishes. I don't know why but they do. Myself, I like unusual shoes and have a cupboard full of completely impractical but incredibly lovely shoes. My latest shoes are my Ruby Slippers that I bought to wear with a black ball gown. I'm not supposed to wear high heeled shoes at the moment due to a spinal injury so I needed something flat. Unfortunately for my friends i've taken to wearing them to the pub, complete with the stripey socks or tights as it's a shame to keep such lovely shoes locked up until I go to another ball.

I've suddenly transferred my fetish to tiny shoes. The past few days have been taken up with making itty bitty footwear. I just can't stop, even though I need to move on to mitts and hats. The trouble is, tiny shoes make me broody, so if you have that problem too, don't look down.

More Two Needle Socks from - 'Baby Knits for Beginners' by Debbie Bliss, I just couldn't help myself. They've come out a fraction bigger than the blue ones in the post below, so it saves me from making the bigger size (for now). Gah, I want to make another two pairs, royal and navy blue, both with white stripes, but I wonder how much use they will be practically and if I should just stick to booties. I used DK acrylic, although the pattern is for DB's baby cashmerino.

These little boots are a really well written pattern called Docker from 'Rowan Babies' by Kim Hargreaves. They had stripes along the top of the foot in the pattern, but I made these plain black ones to go with the military flying (sleep) suit I made for Jenny's bean. (Come on baby, be born already). Made in DK acrylic. I think these will be the booties of choice from now on. I like the pattern and they look really practical, easy to pull on and off. (I've been plotting a giant pair for myself).

These little shoes are simply gorgeous from 'Adorable Knits for Tiny Tots' by Zoe Mellor. I used 4 ply acrylic rather than the cotton used in the pattern and they came out ok. I used white with lilac flecks, but they didn't show up too well in moss stitch. They were bright red in the book and too cute for words.

And finally, these so called "dainty bootees" from 'Baby Bloom' by Erika Knight. I felt they came out a little clumpy and boxy and I wouldn't make them again as they were a pain in the backside to do, each one was made in 3 parts and it got a bit fiddly. They were in lemon DK acrylic and I struggled to get a decent photo of them, even my camera didn't like them.

Must. stop. knitting. little. shoes. although they are great for using up the scraps left over from other projects.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Join Me!

I was very impressed when Danny Wallace (author of ‘Join Me’ and ‘The Yes Man’) started a cult by mistake. I must admit being disappointed when he chose to use his minions for good instead of evil, but it could have gone the other way.

I’ve realised I may have unwittingly started a wee cult myself. Well not technically a cult, but I’ve started a craze. (I want a cult dammit!) Recently a large number (well ok 4) of my friends have been inspired to take up knitting again, they all learnt as children but stopped for some reason or another. Since I’ve talked of nothing but knitting (no, really) for the last few years it’s been sowing the seed in the minds of others that it’s a good idea. They all have minds of their own, but to heck with it, I’m taking the credit. One has even gone off and inspired somebody else to learn, see knitting is catching. It’s a disease, once you’ve got the bug you can’t get rid of it, even if it lies dormant for a few years.

I’ve found it amusing watching from the sidelines. Jenny, expecting in about 2 weeks, holds one needle like a javelin and yet has knitted and lined two beautiful blankets. Emily, knitting for an expectant friend, has got so broody I think it won’t be long before little Ems appear. Louise is also knitting for a new baby, her sister’s and the first baby of her generation. Lizzy, knitting and spreading the word, has just had a knitting masterclass from her mother in the space of 3 days and very proudly announced she can now make holes. I live in hope they are the deliberate kind - my learner knitting was full of inadvertent ones.

I can’t wait to see Lizzy’s knitting once she gets started, as she picks out the best knitted gifts and gave me this bag for Yule. It's fantastic and in my favourite colours.

I burst with joy knowing they are all knitting. Knitting rocks and I think everybody should do it. Danny’s cult performs Random Acts of Kindness, mine Random Acts of Knitting.

Of course there is still Jen, the anti-knitter, who needs defeating at any cost. She’s firmly in the Can’t Knit, Won’t Knit camp, but every cult needs an arch enemy.

To join Danny click here.
To join me, just follow the Two Comknitments:

Thou shalt knit.
Thou shalt encourage others to knit.

As for me, I didn’t finish even half the stuff I wanted to by the New Year, but new projects were far more exciting and calling to me. The baby cape is almost done, but I ran out of yarn half way through the hood, so I started the papoose which is a bit mindless but growing quickly. I’ve also realized I haven’t done much in the way of accessories and have started making hats, mitts and booties. These were my first socks, The Two Needle Socks from ‘Baby Knits for Beginners’ by Debbie Bliss. I’m trying to use up scraps, so I put stripes in them. Forget Em getting broody, I’m just melting over these.

Happy New Year

I just wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year. I hope it's a good one for all of you.