Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Happy Birthday, me!

Or it was on Boxing Day!  My daughter got me all sorts of lovely things, including the most wonderful winter flowers:  various heathers and fancy pine cones.  Never seen anything like it!  I, naturally, got myself some wool!  12 balls of Sirday Big Softie in yummy Fanta orange plus an easy cardigan pattern.  My knitting efforts have taken a bit of a confidence knock and I thought I'd be slightly less adventurous and try something I know I can do and should (should!) work out.  My daughter fancies the pattern and colour too so I might be making two!

All my lovely pressies!

Can't wait to start knitting!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Nearly Christmas!

Two days to Christmas and I haven't posted for ages!  But I'm still knitting - working on that bizarre top, the likes of which have probably never been seen before and probably shouldn't.  About a month ago I finished some wristies and a matching hat which I haven't sewn up yet (and it needs a pompom) but haven't blogged about that at all!  Aaargh!  Also started a hat for my daughter but ran out of wool and the substitute I managed to find was disastrous so that's been shoved out of sight.  Will get back into gear again in the New Year with lots of photos and beautifully finished items!  This is a promise to myself!
In the meantime, this is the sweater I want for Xmas:

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Big Reknit

One of the reasons why I started this blog was to get going on reknitting projects that hadn't worked.  At last I've begun one of them!  If I've learnt anything this year, it's that you can't plan your knitting:  you just have to go with it and knit whatever whim takes you.  It's definitely a mood thing!

My mother knitted me a cardigan once, one of the last things she knitted for me, which, I'm sad to say, just didn't work.  She used to always knit wonderfully bright jersies which I loved, all sorts of colours that really suited me.  And that fitted well.  In effort to make the cardigan warm, she double-stranded the wool which made it hell to knit.  It also made it very stiff (not one for tension squares or correct needle size, my mum).  The body was rather tight and the sleeves - I can't describe what happened with the sleeves.  The armholes were just huge.  In an attempt to fix this up, my mother sewed in a big seam which meant that I had a big clump of wool under my armpits.  So not comfortable!  Also the sleeves were too short.  But the buttons were lovely.  And the colour is delicious - a really rich cream.  

Several years after my mother had gone off to Better Things, I found the courage to pull the whole thing apart (which felt sacrilegious, somehow) and knitted a pattern I found in a magazine.  One of the first things I knitted from a magazine, I think!

This is what it looked like:

To be honest, not much wrong with it, aside from the appalling sewing up of seams (I hadn't learnt magical mattress stitch yet, which I think is the best thing since sliced bananas) and a minor error which isn't noticeable.  However, it came out a tad small.  The size is probably correct (I did a tension square!) but it was too small in MY eyes.  I need things to be a little longer on the hip to be flattering.  The correct yarn for the pattern is Sirdar's Big Softie, so I think I might reknit it again one day - but with the correct yarn.  And a much bigger size so that it's got a lot of swing!

I also had a bit over to make a scarf:

....which, needless to say, was so big and huge and fat that I didn't like wearing it.  So that's coming apart too!

Do other people have the same hassle I do when unravelling???!!!  Everything all knotted and a great big mess.  Why doesn't it just come apart as easily as it was knitted??!!
This is a bit of an overly easy project that could be doomed to fail - no pattern, no inkling, wool that doesn't know what it is...!  I truly have no idea.  It feels a bit cheap, like acrylic and, of course, double-stranded, who knows what it should be knitted as (aran, chunky, unaccountable...).  Far too difficult to even try to unstrand it and start again.  I have a picture in my head of what it will look like but no guarantees that it actually will.  I got the idea from this Rowan ad:

She's a bit blurry, but you get the idea...
Obviously it won't drape like this as this is divinely soft and expensive silk or something.  I just love the idea of knitting a bunch of scarves, in different directions and no shaping, armholes or ribs in sight!  Easy TV knitting.

Check out my fab, colourful knitting needles!  (A gift from a knitting magazine, of course!)

If I'm lucky, I might get this project done quickly and then knit something sensible!!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Killing II Sweater

The Radio Times goes knitty!  Actually, I hate the word "knitty."  You can tell I've been reading too many knitting magazines - they use it a lot!  The Killing II has started on BBC 4 and with it, the advent of a new sweater.  Not nearly as striking as the first one, that snowflake pattern which I now see copied on absolutely everything.  Apparently it costs £300!  I tried to find out more about the wool used in this new, red pattern, but the website was in Danish (it would be) and despite the fact that Google proudly announced that it had just translated it for me, it hadn't.  Thanks Google.

Here's the pattern anyway.  Not something I can see myself knitting...not until I actually know how to wield circular needles!

Sarah Lund in her new red sweater

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Something I can wear!

It's done!  Again!  I've finished that Gedifra top!  Yes, it's the second time I've finished it but almost the moment I'd done the first time, I realised that the bottom rib was too tight and too short.  So with much painstaking swearing and cursing, I undid it and reknitted it.  Obviously the unpicking was much more tricky than expected.  When is anything ever easy!  But thank the knitting god for inventing mattress stitch because it hides so well all those bad edges! Unless you looked inside the jersey at the seams, you'd never know what a battle I had!

I just love these colours!  They really suit me too!
Oh, it's so lovely to have something to wear that I knitted that actually works!!

The whole story:  The Art of Knitting Badly, On the needles (4), The Queen of Bad Knitting, Stripy Gedifra Top

Friday, 11 November 2011

Pictures at last!

At last some photos of the yellow jersey!  For all those thousands of fans (har dee har har) that have been waiting with baited breath, here they are at last! What a hassle to get them, though.  My computer suddenly, for no fathomable reason, refuses to read the memory card and doesn't recognise the camera when plugged in to a USB port.  I don't know what's going on and worse, my warranty has just run out so I can't even phone someone to ask without incurring vast charges.  So I'm doing this on my daughter's computer which isn't half  as much fun, I confess.  (It's a laptop and I'm not that good on the keyboard so all this is taking hours....)

This is a lovely and warm jersey - the colour is quite golden and delicious for these grey November days

I think I did a very neat job on this!  (For a better idea of the colour, check the next two photos as they are much brighter...)

You can't even see the error on the neck!

The heart pattern makes a very plain jersey quite pretty, I thought!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A Golden Jersey for Autumn

What a relief to finish the banana jersey - although "golden" is probably a better description of the colour.  I knitted so much last weekend that my knitting callous (on the little finger of my left hand) got rather sore!  The last bit of knitting was the high neck, which I decided to do longer than the pattern required as my daughter likes to keep warm.  On Sunday afternoon, I was five rows from the end when I suddenly realised that I'd picked up neckline stitches all the way to end of the left shoulder!  How could I have been so stupid!!  I was quite distraught - all that hard work...no WAY was I going to pull out nearly fifty rows of rib.  I was just going to have work a miracle.

Turned out to be easier than I thought:  I cut a stitch, picked up on the edge, carefully pulled out the ten or fifteen stitches or so that needed to come out, carefully cast off.....and it all worked out very well.  Had a bit of extra neck, if you see what I mean, but once I'd sewn it all up, you'd never know that I had to do a bit of overlapping.  I thought that was a VERY clever save!

Took me three days to sew it up, mostly because time was suddenly very short this week as I started a new job.  Haven't quite gotten into the routine yet.  But I'm awfully pleased that I made my target and finished (knitting, at least) on the day I'd intended.

(...many frustrated decades later....)
For reasons I can't fathom, my computer can't read the camera card, whether directly or via a cable plugged into the camera.  Never had a problem before.  Must be the damn card.  Aaaaargh, does this mean the end of my blog....?

Monday, 31 October 2011

Mission Accomplished!

It's done!  Did the Great Knit over the weekend and five rows from the end, discovered an horrendous mistake - a prime example of Bad Knitting!  But never fear, all is - imaginatively - repaired.  More details and pictures to follow.  (Started my new part time job today so time suddenly in short supply...!)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Endless Banana

After several diversions, I'm finally back knitting the yellow jersey for my daughter.  I sometimes wonder if I'm ever going to finish....but I've set myself a target, one that so far, seems impossible.  It has to be done by Halloween!  I'm on the second sleeve and then it's the rib neck which I want to do quite long.  And then there's the sewing up!  I've got less than a week to do this and seem to be knitting less and less every day.  Grrrr.....but I'm determined!  Let's see how I go!
Here is the same jersey but knitted in stripes, along with the seriously cool flower scarf I made to go with it.  This photo, in all its full glory, appeared in the Spring Issue (79) of Simply Knitting.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Hottie Bottie Cover

The final product:  the kitchen hottie

During that recent hot spell at the end of September, I was to be found knitting....yes, a hot water bottle cover.  As one does in boiling hot temperatures!!  Hard to predict that temps are going to hit 30C when it's supposed to be Autumn!
The cover is meant to be knitted on DPNs and despite only ever having one go at it (those stripy wrist warmers from earlier this year...) I thought I'd tackle it.  However, it all went wrong in the first few rows as I got rather tangled trying to knit a rib stitch.  So I gave up and did them on straight needles, thinking that once the rib was done, I'd change to DPNs.  However, it also meant several increase rows and a colour change.  I manage to screw this up as well, so pulled that out and knitted on straight needles until the increases were done, the colour had changed successfully and the rest was just straightforward knitting.
As you can see, this went quite well.  It didn't take long for the "hedgehog" feeling I always get with DPNs to settle down and miraculously, the needles began to behave themselves and knitting was very quick.
You can see by the photo above that the rib part still has to be sewn up.

And then the easy part (had it ever been easy...?!) was over and I had to tackle the decreasing part at the end.  Despite the fact that I seemed to have one less stitch that I was supposed to (perhaps it packed its bags and left home in a huff), I got the decreases perfectly.
You can see the shaping on the photo below...by this time, it was starting to look like a hot water bottle cover!!

Colour variation is a result of flash photography!

Now came the really interesting part:  I had to get the remaining stitches onto two needles and then attempt Kitchener Stitch.  I've never done that before and thought it might be rather tricky!  However, the fantastic book I've got, Purls of Wisdom, explained it so clearly that I couldn't go wrong.  I concentrated very hard and sat there counting - one two three four - until I had done what had to be done to every stitch.  I was amazed at how neat the grafting was.  I thought there were bound to be some mistakes!  In fact, the only complaint I have is what I was supposed to do with the last stitch!  In the end, I pulled it through to the wrong side and sewed it in, but it made a little bump (which can be seen on the left.)

However, I haven't beaten myself up too much over it - this is the first hottie cover I've done, the first time I've done Kitchener Stitch (or sock grafting).  And my daughter loves it!  It's her "morning" hottie - we somehow have to get through the winter in our bitterly cold flat without turning on the heating for the simple reason that I can't afford to - my fuel bills have shot up so wildly without turning on a hot tap that we won't be able to stay warm.  For once, I wish global warming was just that - warm.  Otherwise we're going to be hugging our hotties all winter long.

That's what the cute pocket is for:  cold morning hands!

The green matches the kitchen!

Next up is a lovely creamy-coloured one for the lounge....

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Lovely Woollies

Two catalogues full of delicious winter woollies have come my way this week.  I can only dream about the contents as they are a tad out of my price range but they have given me some knitting ideas as well.  

I really fancy those wrist warmers!  I've seen all sorts but none knitted so finely and so long;  usually they're quite chunky or madly striped or cabled.  Gives me ideas on how to use that cream wool/silk I bought a while ago at the inevitable sale.  Am reluctant to make an actual garment having had so many failures this year.  Perhaps some wristies would be just the thing...

I love all these woolly items...!

The other catalogue is full of pictures of the Cornish coast which makes me want to move to the seaside at once.  That's me you can see walking down long, cold, wild, windy beaches with my daughter and my dogs and my imaginary man, wearing my big sheepskin boots and cool jeans and cable socks, seriously gorgeous knitwear keeping me warm, along with log fires, big stews and bookshelves full of my published novels....well, that's my idea of heaven, anyway.  In the meantime, I'll just make do with my dreams.


Dream on...

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Undoing the undoable

At last Autumn is upon us:  cooler mornings, fresher evenings, clearer skies (well, sometimes, given the endless grey of London) and a chance to wear my new Gedifra top....only to find that it doesn't really fit!  Grrrrr!  It's not just the tight casting off at the lower edge, but also the fact that it's a tad too short.  And the wrong shape.  But let's not go there because I can't fix that.  So MORE unpicking coming up.  This must the most unpicked item I've ever worked on.  Is it worth, I ask myself.  I only have to look at the delicious colours to convince myself that it is!  So I'm going to undo those hems and keep knitting until I run out of wool.  Haven't got much left and I'll have to add a lot more pink.  Am I heading for disaster?  Could it get any worse than it already is?
Do I just want to go away and knit something else?!

I could knit myself a man....has anyone else seen the utterly gorgeous bloke on the front cover of Rowan's Dalesmen?  All wild and brooding and blue eyes....now there's someone I'd sweat over complex cable for.  I wonder if I can grab a piccie of it from somewhere....

Friday, 30 September 2011

Stripy Gedifra Top

Yes, it's finished!  Hip hip and many hoorays!!  This deserves a gigantic photo:
I thought the Amy Butler's belle organic aran by Rowan blended it really well with the Gedifra Fiorista - and what a shame they aren't making that any more!  The orange rib gives it a nice funky look.  This is definitely a top to wear on dull days, of which we have had many.  
RIB:  This is the best attempt I've ever made at picking up stitches along the edge and knitting a rib.  I have the book Purls of Wisdom to thank for that as I never really got it before.  The neck rib was quite hard, though - I did the usual mistake of picking up too many stitches so it didn't lie flat and looked, well, ridiculous.  Also, I didn't pick up the stitches that well and there were several holes.  A second attempt and it's perfect.  (Or perfect in my world of Bad Knitting anyway...)
WAIST RIB:  I originally wanted the bottom edge to have no rib as I'm quite fond of those jumpers that curl up.  I have one that does that and love it.  However, the curl on this top hid the beautiful colours and just looked messy, so I thought, with a sinking heart, that I was going to have to add a rib to it.  I first took the easy way:  I picked up stitches and off I went.  FAR too many stitches, I realised once again - the hem was going to stick out like a frill!  So pulled it and started again.  Was well away when I realised (many, many realisations with this creation) that though I'd picked up the stitches neatly, each one had made a hole.  It just looked awful.  There was only one thing for it - I was going to have to pull unpick the cast-on edge, pick up proper stitches and knit upsidedown.  Has anyone ever unpicked a cast-on edge?  Is there a special way to do it that isn't soul-destroying, that doesn't take years, that doesn't fray the wool??  The Gedifra, which is multi-stranded, was as frayed as my nerves before I was even halfway.  I was virtually in tears before I'd reached the end of unpicking the back.  I thought I'd made a terrible mistake and that it was all disastrous and that this bloody top was costing me a fortune, what with having to buy rather expensive Rowan to make up the shortfall, when it was supposed to be a sale knit.
SUCCESS:  However, once I started knitting, it was obvious that my hard work had paid off.  The stitches are all twisted on the first row and there seems to be an odd sort of dent but it's on the back, so less noticeable.  I made sure I didn't make the same mistake on the front and it turned out beautifully.  I'm also rather pleased that my mattress stitch has come on so well - it sewed up so cleanly that it almost looks as if there is no seam.  Knitting in the round, ho ho!
(Once the heatwave breaks and I actually get a chance to wear this, I might be brave enough to post a picture of me wearing it!!)
Back of sleeveless top
Slight dent above rib!

Please note beautifully cast-off edge - which makes the top slightly too tight!  Grrr...yet another mistake but I'll live with it.

I love the way the stripes just ease their way into the solid colour in some magically natural way!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Look what I won!!

While my knitting efforts go from bad to worse, I've managed to win myself the Rowan Knitting Magazine Number 50 just by entering a crossword competition in Simply Knitting!  
Completely unexpected!!!

In the meantime, the yellow heart pattern jersey is still going...and going...and going.  Forever, it seems.  As for the Gedifra multi-colour beautiful top....I don't think that's ever going to be finished.  I've pulled out bits of it so often that it's turned into a disaster zone.  And I just know that when I'm done it's going to end up stuffed in a drawer and never worn.

In the meantime, here are some lovely pictures taken from the knitting book.  I think I might like to rush off to this forest (The National Arboretum at Westonbirt, Gloucestershire) and live under a tree for the rest of my days....

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Queen of Bad Knitting

Someone knit me a tiara so that I can crown myself the Queen of Bad Knitters.  I've spent DAYS working on the neck rib of that very colourful vest top and this morning I finished it at last.  I loathe doing neck ribs.  I've never done a successful one and it always seems to be the final downfall of a jersey.  At least I've managed to learn how to pick up edge stitches (for the most part) and with much concentration, can keep up a knit 2, purl 2 over ten thousand stitches (definitely no watching TV while that's being done.)  So it was with great relief that I finished it at last....only to find that I'd included the shoulder seam in the neck rib!  I'm going to have to pull out days of work and do it all over again.  Aaaaaaargh!
On top of which, I baked a banana bread this morning, my daughter's favourite.  I've made it a thousand times before and can virtually make it in my sleep.  Every error I've ironed out, including never using a cooking margerine in place of butter.  Today the loaf came out beautifully....for ten seconds only, and then utterly collapsed into a squashy, sticky, dank bread.  Too many bananas, said my daughter.  Bananas too overripe.  Well, what else am I supposed to do with overripe bananas.  Perhaps we should try eating them before the humid weather does its thing.
It's been a very trying day.  A saxophonist has moved into the area and has spent all weekend doing scales.  People are starting to hang out the windows yelling "stop!" (and several other words I use myself, though generally under my breath.)
But I did buy some new wool this weekend!  Though before I get onto that, might I just mention that John Lewis (Oxford Street, London) has changed its haberdashery and wool section.  It used to be right next to the lovely open central well so that you could take your wool over to the natural light and inspect its colour.  It used to feel very spacious and relaxing.  The whole section has now been shoved into an area smaller than a dog's nostril with horrible spotlights that hit you in the eye every time you lean forward to inspect the wool.  The shelves of wool are also very ugly:  all the wooden ones are gone.  And there's less.  Of course there's less.  On top of which, the sales assistants were unbelievably rude, which has to be a first for John Lewis.
My loathing of John Lewis has hit an all-time high.  It's such a pity that I feel tied to the store because there's no one else who does anything similar.  I wish we had a giant wool shop in the middle of London.  Am I the only Londoner that knits?  Is everyone else a slave to the internet?  Happy to get the wrong shades when ordering on-line?
Anyway, new wool for a hottie bottie cover for my daughter:  couldn't find Rowan cashsoft aran (apparently it's been discontinued) but did get some lovely Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran in two shades of green.  Broke the bank a bit, but then my bank is already broken so don't really care any more.  Will be knitting the entire thing on DPNS.  

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

One Stuffed Owl

I'm ready for bed with my teddy...
At last I've finished the toy owl.  I was dreading sewing it up as there were so many fiddly bits.  I almost got the claws wrong but my daughter managed to work out what to do.  She also did all the stuffing!  It's not perfect, but then it is my first toy!  The teddy is supposed to be sewn on with the sleeved wing holding it, but my daughter wanted the wings free so that it could "fly" - hence the safety pin to keep the wing in place when it holds the teddy.  I have an idea it might be called "Clawdius" - I'll let you know if it changes!  

 Apparently I'm going to be knitting a girl version of this owl sometime, with a pink nightdress and pink bobcap (anyone know how to knit a bobcap??!)  Next year, I said desperately, please, next year....I just want to knit easy jersies until Christmas!  I could make a list of the things that went wrong with this toy, not least of which the eyes look a tad odd.  The teddy is also an odd shape which might have something to do with my drawing in the neck too high up....but if I hadn't told you, you might not have known, so I won't mention the other errors!  My daughter likes it.  I think that's all that counts.

She's quite fond of owls, as you can see from the photo below: the two next to the teddy are actually Christmas tree decorations.  The family of three on the right are owls she made herself from a kit we bought from John Lewis.  She decorated the owl house herself!  (There are also some mice somewhere but perhaps they were better left out as they might have been eaten....)

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Killing sweater

I'm watching The Killing for the second time...it seems to resonate more when you know who the killer is.  I remember the first time I watched it, I was so utterly enthralled that I couldn't knit a stitch.  I would put my knitting down for the evening and that was that:  gripped for an hour and then entranced by the end-title music that would keep playing in my head even after I'd gone to bed.  It says something for my knitting at the moment that I'm NOT putting it down during the rerun.  Endlessly boring stocking stitch.  I'm back knitting the yellow jersey for my daughter and have run aground on the shoulder.  How can this happen?!  I've used this pattern before and had no problem!  
Can't wait for the second series to start later this year.  It's truly the only worthwhile thing on TV at the moment!  
As for the US version....oh dear.  I tried very hard not to condemn it just for being American, but being American is everything that is wrong with it.  Its predictableness has nothing to do with the fact that I know what's going to happen (or not, as they've changed the ending, apparently), a fact borne out by the rerun of Forbrydelsen still being exciting the second time around.  The characters, their reactions  and the situations they find themselves in are so stereotypical of every other US cop show that I'm half dead with boredom before the titles have even finished.  No problem with difficult knitting, then, when it's on.
And for those of us who haven't a hope of knitting something so gorgeous, here is Sarah Lund's jersey:

You can buy this from shop.gudrungudrun.com if you've got the Euros!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Knitting for others

I've been reading about the Mitten Ladies who knit hundreds of mittens each year for charity.  Also about someone's aunt who used to knit afghans and give them away - who gave everything away that she knitted, keeping nothing for herself.  And the people who knit for Preemies and blankets for the orphaned and the homeless, for shelters for battered wives [see www.simplyknitting.co.uk]
It made me realise how unutterably selfish I am.  I struggle to knit a single item for myself that might actually compliment my ancient wardrobe...me, me, me, that's me.  I knit for my daughter in an effort to replace the jerseys my mother might have knitted her had she still been alive.  I knit for her to replace the jerseys my mother knitted for me years ago, that I wore out and ended up giving away to charity when I should have kept them.  I seem to be fighting myself in that line:  but that's me.  A mass of contradictions.  How lovely to have the time and the ability to whip out a pair of mittens in an evening for someone who is freezing to death on the other side of the world.  Balm for the guilty soul.  When I think about the endless problems of my life that I can't deal with, I wonder if it wouldn't just be easier to think about other people's problems, to deal with them instead of with one's own life.
Is that how charity begins?  To make yourself feel better?  Or am I once again showing my selfishness, my inability to truly empathize with others, thinking only of myself and how I feel and the tears I cry, the victim inside me that won't take a brave step.
Today I will have a go at stuffing that owl.  It has to be easier than thinking about the world.

Friday, 19 August 2011

On the needles (4)

Here it is, the lovely Gedifra Fiorista bought on a sale at John Lewis - only got 6 balls, so not enough for anything!  I thought I'd knit a tank top, something fun to wear over rapidly aging T-shirts.  I knew at some point that I was going to run out of wool so I planned on 3 balls for the front, 3 for the back, the yoke in a lighter colour and the armhole and neck ribs in something bright.  Hunting about on the internet was no good - I couldn't be sure the colour was exact enough and choosing a substitute yarn that was going to have a similar tension was going to be hugely hit and miss!  By chance I found myself in Liberty's (I think I was having a miserable Sunday....not the best day to hit Oxford Street but it proved to be auspicious!) and with some help from the Rowan assistant, found some Belle Organic Aran by Amy Butler.  It's a wool/cotton while the Gedifra is cotton/acrylic, but they seem to work well together.  While the pinky colour seemed to blend in with the bright Gedifra shades, it looks a bit dull now that I'm knitting it.  However, it's not done yet!  The colour for the ribs is a bright orange and I think it'll all pull together well!

Even if it doesn't, it hardly matters....the stripes are so lovely, who's going to look at my mistakes!

Bad knitting saved by beauty!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Knit Kit

I'm still knitting away happily on my Gedifra tank top...fast running out of yarn too!  (Photos soon!)

In the meantime, here's something I made earlier....it's a very useful Knit Kit which keeps all my knitting bits and bobs tidy.  No more shouting WHERE'S MY CROCHET HOOK!! while frantically clutching a stitch I've just dropped.  Aside from the letters, which I'd never done before, it was quite easy.  The cleverest idea is using curtain tape on the inside for holding all those fiddly things.  I also like the pockets.  I made far too many ties for it, thinking that I was going to go off with my knitting bag and knit in public, but that never happened.  
The pattern was from Let's Knit Issue 31 June 2010 though I used different colours and yarn.  I think this is what they call a "stash buster."

Needless to say, this has MANY mistakes, not least of which the tension was too tight between the letters so that it pulls up slightly.  Also, I knitted one of the letters wrong and had to go over it with Swiss darning but at least I know where my rescue crochet hook is!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Art of Knitting Badly

Here’s the best Bad Knitting mistake you could ever make:  using two different needles.  Yep, that’s me.  Can’t believe I did that!  I must have been grovelling for needles in the dark:  one was 4mm, the other 3 ¾.  Not too hard to mix up size-wise, but golly, you’d think I’d notice the numbers were different. 

Since I’ve embarked on an exercise guaranteed to be filled with mistakes, it only seems appropriate to begin with the wrong needles.  I’ve given up the banana jersey for now (FAR too hot to be knitting a winter jersey)  I really wanted to try out the fantastic Gedifra Fiorista I got on sale at John Lewis.  It makes its own stripes, but they are not perfect self-striping stripes...more like someone threw several cans of paint across the canvas and ran them into one another.  Looks utterly gorgeous.  (Several balls feature in the header photograph.)

I thought I’d go with every knitting mistake in the book:
  • ·         Using the wrong wool for a pattern
  • ·         Using the wrong needles for the wool*
  • ·         Doing bad knitting maths on a tension square
  • ·         Knowing there isn’t enough wool anyway
  • ·         Ignoring the shaping

I will no doubt end up with a work of art.

(*)  The yarn information says to use 6mm.  Previous experience with Gedifra is that they use US needle sizes.  So when it says “6” (and nothing else), I have to presume they mean 4mm.  Which doesn’t explain why my tension square was so wildly off – it came up rather small, which is odd because I don’t knit that tightly.  A website selling Gedifra says to use 6mm.  I tried that too but it seemed hopelessly wrong. 

PS  the bolero from hell?  I strongly suspect I’m going to pull it all out and do something else.  Will have to build up the courage for that one.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

On the needles (3)

I haven't begun sewing up the owl yet - my excuse is that I don't have a pair of tweezers!  In the meantime, I'm knitting something nice and easy:  a yellow jersey for my daughter.  The pattern is actually for a stripy jersey which I made last winter.  It has several mistakes, of course - otherwise this wouldn't be BAD knitting!  I didn't have 3mm needles for the rib and 3.5 needles for the body, so just used 3.25 needles instead for all of it.  Obviously the rib ended up with no definition AND it keeps folding up, much to the wearer's annoyance.  It's far too shallow.  I now have the right needles - progress! - and have made the rib 12 rows deep instead of just 4.  Also, it's bliss not having to knit stripes and change colours constantly.  I did that wrong as well.  I've since learnt how to change colours neatly.  Give me several decades and I might actually advance to "intermediate" knitter....!  But the biggest "mistake" was being forced to buy yarn on-line as the colours did NOT come up as pictured.  The orange was too pumpkin-like, the blue too deep, the pink not a soft orange-pink but rather loud....only the yellow was beautiful.  I'm not sure what anyone can do about internet ordering.  Living in the centre of London, I've got no choice.  John Lewis has about one millionth the yarn available and then generally only the expensive stuff.

Despite these mistakes, a photo of the jersey - worn by my daughter on a wintry day in the British Museum, where the light is very soft and ideal for photography - appeared in the Spring issue of Simply Knitting magazine, along with the matching scarf I made, decorated with my famous knitted flowers (something I can do right!)  A rather proud moment!

I've ventured into adding a pattern on the plain yellow jumper (yellow as in banane) by knitting a row of hearts above the rib.  Why not across the top part, my daughter asked.  Because, frankly, trying to do a heart pattern AND negotiate the armhole decreasing filled me with dread.  Anyway, it's a narrow band of hearts so I thought it would look better above the waistband and arm ribs.  

The Banana Jersey...with hearts

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Toy Owl

Knitting up the bits and pieces for the owl has taken a lot quicker than expected - I've got all the parts knitted, except for the tiny teddy, which I'll be tackling tonight.  At the moment, they all look like nothing at all and I don't feel all that confident about putting it altogether!  I've also pulled out several pieces:  the increasing and decreasing required quite a lot of concentration.  I was so enthralled by "The Lovely Bones" on Sunday night that the nightcap ended up being decreased down to zero in about an inch!  (And I hadn't even enjoyed the book....)  

My daughter had a laugh assembling all the bits:
(let's hope it looks better when it's finished....)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

On the needles (2)

I've started knitting a toy owl for my daughter - something I've never done before!  (I imagine there will be a lot of "firsts" in this blog;  I'm all for experimenting but haven't really mastered anything!)  I was rather reluctant to have a go at a toy.  It seems quite fiddly and even if I have knitted lots of flowers, those owl feet look really tricky, more intricate than anything I've ever knitted.  Along with the tiny teddy, they are going to have to be stuffed by tweezer.  Aaaargh.  Fiddly stuff was never my forte.  So far it's going all right, after a false start in which I pulled apart the owl body when it was only two or three inches long.  The increase instructions don't make sense to me so I had to use my own maths to get an even increase across the row (unless, of course, you're not supposed to have an even increase, in which case my owl is doomed before it's even dressed!)  So far I've done the body and the nightdress.  I'm about to start the wings, followed by the terrifying looking feet.  This is supposed to be a "perfect first toy project."  We'll see!

From Simply Knitting Issue 71 Sept 2010

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Wrist Warmers

I finished the wrist warmers for my daughter - the first thing ever to come off three needles!  I'm quite pleased with the result but I didn't much relish knitting in the round:  I got pricked an awful lot.  Those bamboo needles are sharp!  I'm really rather pleased that I managed a thumb hole otherwise they would just have been boringly dull tubes - not much skill required there.  Not ready for socks yet but might consider another project.  One day.  Far in the future.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Lace Rib Scarf and Begonias

Here's another photo I'd forgotten I'd taken of my lace rib scarf and a pot of pink begonias my daughter was given for her birthday...

Lace Rib Scarf

After the disastrous Bad Bolero from hell, I decided to ease the pain by knitting something restful and relatively easy.  I've not knitted anything lacy before but this rib was very easy.  I used Debbie Bliss Prima, which is a deliciously smooth bamboo/wool mix, really lovely to knit with.  I think it's still available, though I bought a ten-pack at a John Lewis sale in January.

The pattern is as follows:

Multiple of 4 sts plus 1 (I used 25 sts)
Row 1 (RS)  *P1, k3; rep from * to last st, p1
Row 2 K1, *pi, yo, p2tog, k1; rep from *
Row 3 As row 1
Row 4 Knit

It was easy to get into a rhythm with this pattern, particularly since I used stitch markers.

I used about 2 to 3 balls and it's very long but looks fab!  At last something that isn't BAD knitting!!

The final product!