Summer Shoes (fanfare, please)

A while back – more than a year, thinking back, I had an idea that I would make the summer shoes Athena from Knit on the Net (it used to be free, but will soon be available to buy as a pdf pattern) – and so identified which yarn I was going to use for the top from my stash and set about trying to work out what to do for the soles.

To cut a long story short, I decided to make my own out of string which seems to have worked better than I hoped – although they aren’t terribly substantial, so the next pair I make, I may do double-layer. Especially as it seems the next pair I do are to be for Lily, and I’ll deffo have enough string left.

Then I read through the pattern. It seemed quite bitty and did a few things I didn’t want to do with my shoes – to be honest I’d be happy with plain espadrilles which isn’t far off what I’ve gone for here.

The yarn I’d identified – some lovely burgundy hemp I got at the i-Knit event a couple of years ago – turned out to be (when I dug it out of my stash) far, far finer than I remembered it, and so not suitable for the project in hand. I dove into Mum’s stash and came up with some aran-weight probably-cotton in a nice dark blue. It looked as though there was enough left, so on with the show.

I made the soles, and started on the mains…

Then bit by bitty bit, I worked my way round until ta-daa! Shoes.

summer shoes

And here are my pattern notes, if you want to try to recreate these for yourself!

author! author!

This post is 7 years old… I thought it was time to hit “publish”…

For a while I’ve been intending to write a book for Joel.

Finally, I got round to it. The cover:

diggy digger cover

The “best” picture of Diggy Digger. We’ll put this one on the “wanted” poster when he commits murder (please ignore the typo…) :

diggy digger wants to see the giraffes

And my favourite page:

dd & j in the bat cave

I’m now under pressure to make “When Boo-boo went to the beach” a reality.

Brooklyn Tweed commentary

It’s a while since I did a stream-of-consciousness commentary on one of Brooklyn Tweed’s look-books. I realised this avo that I haven’t done one in a while, so I took a look with an open notepad…

The book is here, follow along, children!

I like the colour scheme on the cover. This may inspire me to make something in dark blue & black soon…

Peaks – looks too 70s and is too “snazzy” for any of the men in my life.

Belfast – while I like the colours of this (see above re blue on black) the size and shoulder style of this looks as though it would constantly be sliding off my shoulders. So, in essence would be like wearing a blanket. I can see how it would be lovely and cozy, but not something I need just at the moment…

Nolan – I’m intrigued by the stitch pattern used to create the chevrons – it’s the kind of sweater that, if I encountered it in the wild, would probably have me arrested (or thought of as being Quite Odd For Staring) because of the length of time I’d be staring at it trying to work out how it was achieved. Beyond that, in the first image, the thing that caught my eye was the rain mac that the model is wearing over it. Which I didn’t take to be an awesome sign…

Douro – now *this* is a portable blanket, and on purpose. This might be one for the queue as the black scarf/nearly-blanket I’ve had for a couple of years sees a lot of outings… At this point, my main question is “could I drive with it on?”

Etna – they are doing well on naming things to appeal to me, although why this gentle-coloured design would be named after a volcano is hard to tell. I like the colour (dark teal – very “now” – or is it very “last year”? I feel like this has been Highly Fashionable for a while now, although don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining) and I like the shape, but I’ve tried on enough misguided cowl neck garments in my time to know that the neckline, raglan sleeves and batwings would be a terrible combination with my rack.

Bevel – this feels like a showcase for yarn colours. I’m a little underwhelmed by it, and have nothing witty to say.

Kirigami – again, another arrestable stitch pattern, and I like the colour, but probably wouldn’t pick this one up. I’m actually more interested in the model’s hat on this one.

Mason – a cowl with a brick-like stitch pattern – see what they did there? I was deeply scarred in my early twenties by someone asking me “do you still wear that throwback cowl you used to wear at Uni?” I was wearing the cowl at the time. In fairness to her, she was in the front seat of the car and I was in the back. I’m not a fan of tall cowls that are a bit loose – I prefer to be able to wrap them around for better snugness. So this wouldn’t work for me. And the main man in my life isn’t metrosexual enough to wear this.

Colburn – I can see this being a staple wardrobe item for someone, but it’s not singing to me.

Isthmus – If even the models look silly wearing a hat, there’s no chance I’m going to look anything other than silly wearing it. I like the cleverness of the mini-earflaps, but if I’m going to have earflaps, I want them to be definitely there. If BT are going for “a sophisticated take on the Peruvian hat” I think they are misguided. A large part of the point of those hats is their bonkers-ness, and I think it’s a mistake to take that away from them.

Bevel in different colours – I’m still underwhelmed.

Freja – I may be missing out on a world of awesomeness here, but I really fail to see the point of chunky cardigans with short sleeves. If I’m cold, I’m cold all over. Including on my arms.

Isthmus – the beanie version. This is less silly than the earlier examples. This I might be willing to attempt, but it’s still not really anything to write home about.

Geiger – I’m pretty sure I’ve seen an advert for this elsewhere. This is the one I like the most so far (apart from Douro). I like the intricate cabling and the stucturalness of it. V-neck, long sleeves & clever details. Also, this one is made in black, which I like. Having said that, black would be a bad idea for me, probably, given that my cat is mostly white.

Mason in different colours – still don’t like it.

Peaks – might be in different colours. Hard to tell. I’m feeling like there’s quite a lot of repetition here.

Freja in different colours. I like it even less in cream.

I like the picture of Douro that’s on the back cover. In conclusion, there’s a large navy blue blankie-scarf in my future, I think.

 

New slippers

Late last year I decided that travelling to work was getting a bit old, so I sought ways to reduce my commuting time. As luck would have it, the parents live much closer to my place of work than I do, and they are happy to accommodate me one night a week. So, the plan is to stop at theirs every Monday evening, and start the week with one less journey back & forth. I’m trying to leave a few bits & pieces there so that I have less to remember/forget when I’m packing in the dark at oh-my-god-it’s-early o’clock on Monday mornings. Im having to pick out outfits for two days, I don’t want to then fall into the gaping chasm of forgetting my toothbrush. Which reminds me, I need to take a hairbrush as well…

They are away at the moment, so the heating is on don’t-burst-the-water-pipes settings and it seems a bit futile to turn it up just for a couple of hours on one night a week. I camp out in the front room with the gas fire on, then make myself a hot water bottle about half an hour before turning in, then put on ALL THE CLOTHES (apart from tomorrow’s carefully chosen outfit, of course) and go to bed. It’s a bit tricky getting up in the morning, but not as cold as you might think, even though I had to scrape the frost off my car this morning. The one thing I’m keen to have available in this context is slippers.

I went out to Ormskirk market but, if I’m honest, I was underwhelmed by the selection there. So, clearly, I took the path any sane person would, and decided to make a pair. I have some super-chunky yarn that my sister gave me, so I hit Ravelry to see what I could find that would be appropriate. I saw a few I liked and fancied having a go at, but the one that was closest to what I was after was described as “basically a pair of toe-up short-row socks”. Clearly, rather than download and follow a free pattern, I thought “I can do that”!

And what do you know, I was right! In other news, here’s a gratuitous picture of the girl and the cat. She was very happy because, although the cat didn’t sit on her voluntarily, he did stay there for a bit 😀

srsly, why?

A Thing happened the other day. It was not a major, serious, bad, life-changing event, but it was more of an additional drip on the drip-drip of everyday sexism that forms the backdrop to one’s life and occasionally drips loudly enough for me to respond with “srsly, why?”

A week or so ago (I’ve been mulling) I took the train to London to visit a friend. I’ve got several friends in London. If I didn’t visit you, it wasn’t you, rest easy. The offender in this tale wasn’t my friend, nor were any of his friends who I saw that weekend, you can all breathe easily. I quite like taking the train by myself. I don’t have to worry about getting seats with my travelling companions, I can knit or read or write or code or snooze or gaze aimlessly out the window without having to explain myself about what I’m doing or how long I’m doing it for. I appreciate that that could be read in a way that makes me sound grumpy and as though I don’t like being with people, including ones related to me. This isn’t necessarily the case, I just enjoy my alone time when I get it. Suffice it to say that generally I am so enjoying the freedom of solo travel that the presence of other people who I don’t know is generally not troubling.

Generally.

I got through all of the journey there and a lot of the journey back without incident. On the return journey Euston to Crewe I was sitting across the aisle from two couples who were travelling together. They were about my age. Maybe a little older. In my head I’m still in my late 20s, maybe early 30s when in fact I’m in my mid-40s. These folk were kinda late 40s-early50s. They had brought snacks (the subject of some discussion – it’s so hard to know what to get when you’re buying for other people, apparently) and discussed holiday plans – they were on their way home from a mini-break, it transpired. All pretty innocuous, and one couldn’t complain about conversation because we weren’t in the quiet carriage. So I had my earphones in for quite a lot of the time. As we arrived in Crewe, it transpired these four lovely people and myself were all getting off. I was knitting at the time (Wheaten, by Brooklyn Tweed) and of course was knitting up to the last possible second in order to finish the row I was working on. I don’t cope well with stopping half way through a row, as my children will happily tell you – one of their most-heard lines over the years has been “just let me finish this row”. Even with circular knitting. Yes, it’s a problem, just one I choose not to address. So, party-of-four are on their feet sorting themselves out, I’m frantically racing to the end of the line before I start to see platform signs sliding past, when one of the men from the party leans over to me and says:

“I hate to tell you, but you dropped a stitch a few rows back, there.”

From the many possible responses crowding into my head, I chose:

“Thank you for bringing that to my attention, I’ll deal with it later.” I may have preceded it with an “Oh, really?” in a tone of genuine surprise and curiosity. Then he asked me what it was going to be, which I answered “a scarf” – I’d have shared the pattern name with him, but I suspect he didn’t care.

I am now filled with regret over the many other responses I wish I had given, for example…

  • how can you tell? You’re too far away and my knitting is kinda scrumpled up
  • how can you tell? This pattern has many yarn-overs in it that may look to the untrained eye like dropped stitches, however are completely deliberate
  • who made you the knitting police?
  • did I, where? (with panicked look in eyes)
  • why didn’t you say so earlier?!
  • no, I didn’t
  • hard stare, followed by no response
  • what are you knitting at the moment? You’re clearly an expert, so I’m guessing you have several WIPs. Oh, what’s a WIP, you ask?
  • Did I really? Or are you just saying that because you’ve heard  a dropped stitch is a thing in knitting and you want to show off that you’ve recognised that what I’m doing is knitting?
  • Is that a pick-up line? Because saying something negative about something I’m doing isn’t going to work and, dude, you’re wife’s *right there*
  • why would you say that? That’s just mean
  • please come home with me and be my dropped-stitch-spotter for ever
  • actually, this is crochet
  • I haven’t dropped a stitch in about five years, mate, you must be on something (this isn’t actually true, but then neither was his assertion, so who cares, eh?)
  • Oh, that will probably have been on one of the cables I did without using a cable needle – yes, I’m properly living on the edge

I appreciate that on some levels I’m over-reacting, here, however, it feels completely in line with patriarchic behaviour to attempt to pléasante me by pointing out that the thing I’m doing has a mistake in it. Why didn’t he say “I’ve been watching you knit. That looks awesome. What’s it going to be?” or something equally positive? Why belittle me, and what I’m doing?

I’d say he doesn’t get out much, but clearly from the conversation I’d overheard, he does. Maybe he belittles everyone he comes across in some small, unconscious way.

I just felt like it was an opportunity missed. Both on his part – he could have spread positivity instead of negativity, and on mine – for acting like a weak, subservient being, who granted that he maybe knew better about an activity that, with all due modesty, I’m really quite good at. Why have I labelled this (in my mind, and in my opening paragraph) as sexist? Because I can’t imagine that if I had been a man knitting on the train that he would have said anything to me, much less something that implied that he knew better than me the success of the thing I was doing. I’m willing to lay money on he also wouldn’t have spoken to me if Steve had been with me. Maybe I’m over-reacting, and maybe he would have done, but I have no way of finding out. I’ll just pick out my favourite line from the list above and hold it near the front of my brain, waiting for the next time this happens.

In conclusion, and just to put my mind at rest – can you check for dropped stitches on the pic below, and let me know if you see any?

ps. this is an on-request for the boy. I made a mustard gold-yellow version for step-mother’s birthday and he said he wanted one just like it… only in teal. Luckily, I like knitting this pattern 😀

Important stages in blanket-making

yarn choices

Around this time last year I started making a blanket as part of a knit-along with my LYS, knit-wise in Ormskirk. Quite a few of us took part, and a year later progress varies between “Blanket? What blanket? Oh yes, I finished that aeons ago!” and “Blanket? What blanket? Oh, yeah, I really should work on that a bit…”

For my part, I worked on it sporadically over the year – at least a third of it was done in the first few weeks (to a month or so) up to the point where it was at the important stage of being big enough to dick about with as though it were a scarf.

blanket-as-scarf

Although being made lantern by lantern, it was theoretically an easy “on the go” project, the need to bring all 12 colours with you kind-of countered that by making it a really difficult “on the go” project. Also, you need to keep the equipment with you at all times for changing colours and sewing in the ends. This is the kind of project which, if you don’t finish off as you go along, will pretty much guarantee it never gets finished. A crafter who enjoys sewing in ends is a rare find indeed, and one who would be willing to sew in a minimum of 11x4x8 + 12x4x7 + 14×2 ….352 + 564 + 28 …944 ends in one sitting is a rare unicorn indeed. I sewed my ends in as I went, and joined my strips together as I went, and I’m not ashamed to say that I shouted loud caution at anyone who looked like they were saving up all the sewing-in and sewing-together joy until the end.

So, I worked on it sporadically – mainly at Wednesday night knit & natter if I’m honest, just to show willing and let everyone know I hadn’t forgotten about it. I made several things in the meantime – my new favourite sweater, a cardigan that still needs its buttons sewing on (see above re. keen-ness for finishing off fiddly details), a hat, Christmas mini-stockings, a waistcoat, a herd of hedgehogs and a handful of toy ducks and progress was made, inch by inch.

I got to the penultimate proscribed row and nearly the end of some of the colours of my yarn sometime in June/July, at which point it seemed like it would be a shame not to sneak under the 365-day mark for completing this beast. So I made an effort, and sure enough I managed to get the short sprint done.

finished blanket

It’s not as wide as I’d have liked, but I ran out of the mustard yellow yarn and didn’t want to get a whole new set of balls, which is a cycle I could very easily have fallen into. The boy has claimed this one for himself, and seems happy enough with it.

Joel with blanket

…so I’m calling it “done”.

So. Given the hard slog that that felt like, which is the obvious next step for a keen crafter like myself? Clearly, start another one. This time, for the girl.

african flower motifs

Holiday keen-ness means that this, too, has got to the all-important dick-about-with-it-like-it’s-a-scarf phase which, given that I’m doing strips horizontally this time, actually happened a lot earlier in the process. Still. A stage is a stage.

new-blanket-scarf

Watch out for completion of the girl’s blanket …around this time next year, no doubt.

Whoville – my new favourite sweater

I know. It’s a while since I posted, and now it’s the new year, I’m posting again. Yes, it’s related to a NYR to “write more”. Watch this space for me relapsing and not-writing a bit more.

So: knitting news. Just around Christmas I finished my latest sweater. I seem to be on a kick with this particular designer (atelier alfa), it’s the second one I’ve done by them in a row. The first one (stripes gone crazy) has been on my to-do list for a while – we know how I love unusual construction, well this one really fitted the bill, in that it has graduated sunbeam stripes which go around the back to give small stripes on one cardigan front, and large on the other front – but more of that in another blog post (eventually, when I’ve blocked it and added its buttons).  This latest sweater, 3 in 1,  has been on my to-do list ever since I stumbled across it on Pinterest (I think) aaaages ago. Or it might have been on an “also by this designer” link. The colours spoke to me, as did the fake-layering. My aspirational how-I’d-like-to-dress pinterest board has many things featuring layers, although the observant among you will note that it doesn’t feature many brightly coloured things. It should not be news that I want to come across as being more sophisticated than I really am. Given that my sophistication level is only really above a 1 or 2 out of 10 for those who know me at all well… and that only on special occasions.

I’m also working on a blanket as part of a crochet-along and was really liking the yarn that we are using for that one – it’s a brand/line that has many colours, so is ideally suited to stripes where there are similar colours all together. I chose my colours in October, with the help of Myra at Knit-wise and could barely wait to get home to get started…

Sure enough, I ploughed through the early interesting stages, which involve ribbing (I used Woolly Wormhead’s alternate cable cast-on – my go-to when ribbing is involved BECAUSE I LOVE IT, MAN), 2×2 stripes and short rows. The curly edges for the 2 “layers” are done by casting on, on a new set of needles, working 6 rows or so in stocking stitch, then 3-needle-knit-together with your work in progress. More short rows, and on with the stocking stitch, stripes, and short rows.

I’ve said before that I “knit in” what I’m watching at the time. This part of the sweater has Orphan Black season 1 all over it for me, now :-).

Then, of course, comes the relatively long, dull slug (while maintaining 2×2 stripes) of the body. It wasn’t as dull as I feared, there’s a bit of shaping, and before I knew where I was I’m at the neck opening. Mindful of my relatively large rack, and keen to avoid the monoboob effect that can happen with high necked garments, one of the things I like about this is the placket-open henley-style neckline. Turns out it also adds interest 🙂

When I got to the neck opening, I *very briefly* considered setting myself up for steeking it in case my tension/striped/stitches lay noticeably differently when knitting back & forth around the opening instead of knitting in the round as I had been up to now. Then I reminded myself not to be quite so damn precious and just a) get on with it and b) follow the goddamn pattern for a change. So I followed the pattern, knit back & forth, and when the pattern called for it, started on the sleeves.

I did, in a slight off-piste moment (off-piste moment #1, as it shall henceforth be known), add an inch or two to the body length. Because I’m generally an inch or 2 longer than most people are in the body. I blame my Dad.

The sleeves are knitted cuff-up, so I did the same cast on and made sure they were nice & long. On sleeve 2 I went slightly off-piste (moment #2) again, and added a small heart motif on the left sleeve. This could signify many things, depending on what mood I’m in – I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve – which I frequently do – a reminder to be conscious of heart disease – which I frequently am, given that my mum and Granda both left this mortal coil due to heart attacks – and just because. Because I’m like that some days. Also, I had plenty of red yarn available, so why not.

So I joined the sleeves to the main by as instructed by the pattern, and ploughed on through the several faux-necklines – interestingly fashioned from reverse stocking stitch bands rather than rolled over actual stocking stitched until officially I was done.

However.

I like hoods, and I like the blues of the “underneath” layer and wanted more of them to be visible. So, with the sage advice of my friends at the Wednesday night knit & natter at Knit-wise I worked out how big a hood would need to be, given my gauge & preferred hood size (90 stitches), compared that to how many stitches I had on the pins (130), and then ploughed on regardless. I attached a second ball of dark bluey purple at the far end, did 8 stitches-worth of garter stitch at each end, and continued until the hood was 14 inches long. Then it was a simple 3-needle bind-off starting at the outside edge (so that I didn’t have to actually spend time finding the middle) and I was done.

Sewing the ends in was a bit of a bugger, although I carried the yarn across the stripes, but still, there were more than usual, given the different colours and many start/end places.

I chose some tasteful wooden buttons so that they were a bit of a stand-out feature rather than something that melts into the background, and they are now one of my favourite things about the sweater.

This is, in fact, my new favourite sweater and I’ve worn it pretty much every day since finishing it a week or so ago. It’s lovely and warm. The sleeves are maybe a little bit too long, but I’m coping with this adversity well. Given that they are meant to look like some of them are pushed up a bit, if they are all pushed up, it’s not the end of the world…

The pattern is well-written and easy to understand, I thought – there are helpful diagrams at each stage so that you can see what the instructions are on about. I’d thoroughly recommend having a go, if this is a style you think you’d like to wear.

Why Whoville? It struck me, when I took the picture of the sleeve trying to escape from my project bag that this sweater, with its many-coloured stripes, looks just like something from a Dr Seuss book. So, Whoville it is 🙂

 

Are *you* feeling the hexagon love?

Bizarrely, the best colours photo I’ve been able to get of this yarn is when my hand is also in the picture forcing the light levels (or so I guess).

hexagon socks in progress

I’m close to the end of the “smooth” hexagons on this sock. It’s shaping up to be a little baggy, however, I have (and I know this will shock you) followed the instructions pretty closely so far. Let’s see how they go: these may have to end up being “indoor” socks or a second layer with big boots. I’m liking how the colours are matching up – or *not* matching up, actually. No unexpected colour boundaries here, folks.

Even though these are my shiny new thing to knit, I’m already anticipating severe second sock syndrome, to the extent that I’m considering starting sock 2 once I’ve finished the smooth hexagons here. It could either be a Really Smart Plan or a really stupid plan that leaves me dazed and confused and gibbering in the corner with abject confusion. Only time will tell. I’m deferring the decision until I’ve actually finished the smooth hexagons.

If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s The Procrastination.

In other “even though these are my shiny new thing to knit” news, I’ve also cast on something else.

work in progress - grey knitting
is-it-a-plane-is-it-a-bat

Can you tell what it is yet, kids?

An aside: we had a discussion in the office this morning about good festival acts we’ve seen. It’s no longer fashionable to say so, but I really enjoyed Rolf Harris’ performance when I saw him both at Guildford and at Glastonbury (although Glasto was hot & crazy-busy because everyone else had caught on by then). I also really liked his art. Clearly, I enjoyed these things not knowing how he was apparently behaving away from the public eye, but he was good at the stuff he did. It’s a damn shame.

No, it’s not the latest in chic gothic styled accessories… no wait… it kind-of is. Well, maybe not gothic on account of it’s not black, but the photo above made me think of a bat so I find myself going down this path. Arguably the end result (I’m hoping) will be a bit more steampunk than Goth – this will be a dark grey kinda-fitted waistcoat. I’ve been meaning to make one for a while, so clearly now that winter is over and the warmer weather is on its way I’m casting this on in the hopes that it’s completed SOMETIME IN JUNE. Because who *doesn’t* want another layer of aran yarn hugging them during the hottest months of the year?

I had another I-enjoy-knitting moment on Sunday night with this project as well (regular viewers will remember that the pink & purple yarn above is in the process of being re-knitted). Having worked on it all through the day (well, off & on and mainly during a skype meeting) and getting a good 6-8 inches up from the beginning (further than I am now) I decided that it was shaping up to be a fitted waistcoat for someone who is larger than me, so decided to undo and do the “large” size rather than the “extra-large” size where the measurements matched the size I know my chest to be. I did (round of applause or HIGH FIVE required here) remember to check my gauge before frogging, and it was bang on. So, well done to me. This is the WI aran which is sold through the large nationwide hobby supplies shop we don’t mention in front of artisan retailers in case it makes them come over all funny and I really like the way it’s knitting up. I got 2 massive balls so will probably be able to make everyone accessories to match my waistcoat, plus an extra one in their 3 for 2 offer which means I also have some bright red yarn. I *was* thinking a sophisticated match of the two yarns but actually red is the school colour for Excel Emmanuel and Forrester schools who partner with Porridge and Rice so I may just go into hat-knitting overdrive and send them out in dribs & drabs. Because, as we now know, the crazy kids in Kenya wear woolly hats when English people are sweltering in a skimpy thong.

Something I Really Like

Taking a leaf from www.yarnsfromtheplain.co.uk‘s book (who I’m guessing copied it from somewhere else – I’ve heard other podcasters do something very similar) – HERE’s a thing.

Background: I have a general intention to raise my wardrobe game a bit at work – wear shirts rather than t-shirts, not wear jeans so much, generally dress a bit less like a Software Developer and a bit more like a BA/Solutions Architect who could reasonably be expected to be pushed in front of clients. Basically, if I want to do more work alongside my boss who wears a suit to work every day, I want to look the part a bit more. However, I’m clearly not going to turn the dial straight up to 11 or I’ll just get asked what time my interview is all the time.

At the beginning of last week I took a step I’d been meaning to take for a white and sent off for a blouse from Charles Tyrwhitt. Blouse arrives – is a plain white blouse as ordered. The fabric is smooth and lovely, the sleeves are long and luscious, it’s generally pretty lovely. Except that when I’ve got it on, I can’t put my shoulders back for fear of bursting out of it. It works, but it doesn’t fit terribly well. Also, a button fell off in the first half hour of putting it on.

I’ve had a brief look at Pepperberry, but their stuff, in spite of being fashioned for the larger-booby lady, also doesn’t feel like it fits super well. I may re-visit, I’m not sure.

I went shopping on Saturday to see what M&S had to offer – just in case they had something that wasn’t a terrible fit and that I didn’t have to get 3 sizes too big to accommodate the rack. My hopes, I have to say, weren’t high. They have form in this area, after all.

Well.

It’s fair to say that I made a discovery that made me SO HAPPY that I don’t believe I’ve been THAT HAPPY in a store changing room since… possibly puberty. Not since I developed these lumps on my chest that make things NOT FIT in ALL THE PLACES. M&S have styled 2 extra buttons between the normal buttons, only facing inwards in an invisible fashion, and called them the “no peep placket”.

Oh. My. Word.

In spite of the silly name, this is a goddamn REVELATION. No more gaping buttons for me. I may even get my sewing machine out and sew extra inside out buttons onto all my other blouses (er… when I get them) because, man alive this thing really works. Complete lack of gaping.

I could go on for a while, but suffice it now to end on I think this is a really very good idea, and I will be buying more blouses from M&S in the future. But probably not the mint green spotted one.

 

Nearly famous

On Wednesday, instead of going to Knit-night at Knit-wise like usual, I went to a Special Event organised by Knit-wise to launch their new status as stockist of Baaa-ram-ewe yarns. Held in a restaurant/tea rooms just around the corner, the event was very well attended, with 50 or so eager knitters attending, including all the people I know through knitting, and some people I knew from other things.

The yarn was very well pitched – it is indeed lovely yarn – and we were clearly meant to come away with the impression (which I’m sure is accurate) that although the yarn is made entirely of British wool (heads-up: wool can be scratchy), it’s very soft and drapey. A finished garment or accessory had been placed on each table, and select individuals were asked to model them. Fran, on our table, did a marv job – if only she weren’t so busy becoming the next Mary Berry of the crafting & jam making world she would be a shoe-in for the UK’s next Top Model.

 

I’m very tempted, and it’s good to know my LYS will be stocking the stuff. Watch this space.

So, there was a woman of about my age sat at the same table as me who I’d never seen before. I was chatting amiably to her, when my eye caught the rubber bands on her wrist. I saw “BLOODWISE” and a switch flicked in my brain.

That’s the charity Sam Heughan supports. I wonder if this lady is doing myPeakChallenge? I carried on staring surreptitiously at her wrist, for the clue was there. It turns out she is. So, when there was a suitable gap/segwayopportunity in the conversation (which was already going well, I thought) I took the opportunity to reveal that I had spotted that she was most likely an Outlander fan much like myself.

We compared who had read what – Nic (for that is her name) has put in more hard yards than me and has read All The Books, whereas I am rationing myself because otherwise NOTHING WOULD GET DONE EVER. On that note, I’ve just decided (you heard it here first, folks) that I need to set myself a target or reward at which point I get to read the next one. Otherwise I’m just punishing myself indefinitely. Maybe after I’ve read a non-Outlander book I get to read an Outlander book. But I digress.

As if that isn’t enough, I then also twigged that I knew the name on her t-shirt. Turns out Nic is also a podcaster WHO I LISTEN TO. Yarns from the plain is one of the several podcasts I listen to (admittedly somewhat sporadically) while doing the totally easy and not at all unpredictable and dull commute from Ormskirk to Knutsford. I went all groupie on her ass, and got Fran the not-famous-yet Model to take a photo of us.


…which I instantly made a mess of blurring and winged into the ether.

So – I met a famous person who I’m sure is heading to big and fantastic times with her new focus on running an independent yarn dyeing company and studying textiles (see I do pay attention a bit) and who shares (and clearly outstrips me in dedication terms) my unhealthy obsession with Outlander (“whatever, Mum, nobody cares”) and who makes a podcast. My plan now is to internet stalk her (Hi Nic!), buy her yarn, attend her fibre festival and generally scare the crap out of her.

Or not. Have you recorded the next podcast yet?

An aside – Justin at work said that Knit-night sounds like a super-strong treatment for nits (nit-knight). I know. He’s put that thought in my head, so I’m making you share the pain. It’s OK for you. I have to work with him. 

Adventures in knitting

I have finally got around to applying myself to what to knit with this fabulous yarn.


It’s Schoppel Crazy Sauberball sock yarn in indisch Rosa and, it turns out, is ridiculously hard to photograph in any kind of light. Even in quite strong natural light the pinky red turns a horrid orange. The photo below is the closest in colours as seen on my screen but quite honestly it could look awful on your screen and I would never know. The colour changes from a rish, deep purple to a sumptuous fuschia pink/red and then variegates on those themes. It was a ball I felt unable to leave in the shop, the shop being a yarn outlet in a garden centre in Solihull, and it’s been languishing in my stash for I think at least a year, because I hadn’t thought of a project that deserved it.

After many months of on and off thinking about it, I decided to flout my usual rule of keeping patterned yarns and patterned knitting for separate projects, and decided to go for Pomatomas, a Cookie A pattern from Knitty.com. I’ve made these twice before, one pair I gave away to a university mate (who, I gather, has subsequently felted them, oh dear) and another pair for me in (I think) malabrigo, which are quite honestly a little bit large & have a tendency to “bag”. I wear them around the house or in the winter, with boots. I thought that the graduated colours would look fab, and the colour change is slow enough that the pattern wouldn’t get lost.

I was right.


However, my reckless approach to gauge (swatch? What swatch?) on this occasion has bitten me on the arse. It’s a stretchy pattern but, it turn out, not that stretchy. When I tried it on, having turned the heel (as you see here above) I could get it on, but I could *only just* get it on, it turns out. Also, the distressingly sudden colour jag you can see at the bottom of the picture disturbed me greatly, and I couldn’t think of an easy way around it. I know that for the most part this bit is likely to be hidden within shoes at times when other people can see them, but
1. I know it’s there, and
2. WTAF do you mean people aren’t going to be looking at my socks? and
3. I know it’s there and making me feel distressed.

In spite of it having been much admired at the knitting thing I went to on Wednesday (thanks, guys) I agonised for what will seem to others to be a surprisingly short amount of time before unleashing the frogs. The demi-sock has gone the way of the Norwegian parrot, it is an ex-demi-sock.

What, I hear you clamour, is plan B? That would be Hexagons (Ravelry link) by Kirsten Hall from “Think outside the sox”, a book I was given for Christmas in 2014. 

The socks are constructed with a series of hexagons where you pick up each one in turn to construct the main body of the sock, and then add in a toe & cuff in a semi-conventional fashion (or not – I haven’t actually read that far through the pattern yet. Again: reckless is my middle name). So far so exciting, and it’s working well with the colour gradations. One problemette is that I’m finding myself squinting quite a lot when doing the picking up for the next hexagon. I’m really, really hoping that it’s because the light was too dim and my eyes were tired rather than because I’m turning into one of those Old People who need reading glasses. I’m reasonably confident it is as I’ve not long had my eyes tested (in January or so) and I was perfectly fine then.

So – onwards & upwards. I managed 2 hexagons last night. Let’s see if I can beat that record and get 3 on there tonight.