Sunday, October 30, 2005

Klaralund is FINALLY finished

At long last I found the time and the courage to sew up Klaralund which has been washed and blocked for a good couple of weeks now.

And here she is. First a non-modelled shot:

Not a brilliant picture, but does I hope show it's looking vaguely how it's supposed to look. Ok, brace yourselves, here comes the modelling shot...

And finally.......... LOOK, no seams!!

While I know it's not quite as perfect as I would like it to be, this has been a real knitting milestone for me. Not because of the actual knitting of it, since let's face it, it's hardly a challenging pattern, but in the putting all of it together. Anything I've knitted in the past has always looked crap because I really had no idea how to put it together properly. This was my first go at mattress stitch, and what a difference! I feel I have finally knitted an item that's not a scarf, shawl, or pair of socks, that I'd be happy to be seen in public in.

Even Eddie was impressed "You've got a lot better since you've been going on that Knitty board" he said, and - the words I never thought I'd hear him utter - "It looks like you could have bought it in a shop". From someone who has hitherto been either uninterested or slightly mocking about my knitting, that is praise indeed. He did also say (unprompted) that he thinks my Clapotis is great :)

Ok, here's the nerdy bit:

Pattern: Klaralund from Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton's Hand Knitting Collection (Book 2)
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden #88 - pattern called for 9 balls. I used 7 and a half, so am knitting a beanie with what's left over
Needles: 5mm Addi Turbos
Alterations to the pattern: I knew the sleeves were going to be way too long. I'm not a fan of sleeves that come down to my knuckles. So, I changed the pattern so that the cuff was 9 rows of garter stitch instead of 14, knitted the front and back as written, but put it together so that the 14 rows of garter stitch (which would have been at the bottom) were at the top, and the 9 rows were then at the bottom to match the sleeves.

I got a great deal of help from the article in Knitty about finishing garments, and from "Finishing Techniques for Hand Knitters" by Jane Crowfoot, which I got this week in a swap on the Knitty board. Another great boon was my super duper new yarn needle (which is sterling silver and cost a fortune), which I got from The Knit Tin, and which is worth its weight in gold.

In other news.....

A package from my SP!!!

That's 5, YES 5, balls of the softest kid mohair in the most beautiful bottle green, some yummy tea, and tubes of luxurious hand and foot creams. I feel so spoilt! What a wonderful SP! Thank you, thank you.

The kid mohair has got to be a cardigan I think, I just need to find the right pattern.....

Work has become somewhat hectic again, but due largely to being out of the office for most of the week before last at the Institute's annual conference. Most importantly, at our monthly partners' meeting last Monday we decided on our Christmas break - the office will close on Thursday 22nd Dec until Tuesday 3rd Jan - a lovely long break. Hurrah!

We move offices a week tomorrow. That should be fun. We will get to see (I hope) the benefits of being a paperless office, as we seem to have very little to move. This has also been helped by J getting carried away and selling most of the office furniture on eBay weeks ago! Once we move, I will, in theory, work from home 3 days a week and only go into the office on Mondays and Fridays. We'll see how that works in practice, but if I manage it half the time it will be great to work from home more.

Today we have seen the first real rain for ages. It's still incredibly mild for the time of year though. In spite of the unseasonably clement weather the goats have decided it's winter. And that means they stay indoors and have all their food brought to them, thank you very much. They really are weird. The grass is still growing and is lovely and lush, the mercury hit 20 degrees C this week, but unless they're creeping out in the dark early mornings, they apparently haven't been outside to eat at all. Even only giving them hay in the evenings doesn't seem to be working. I wonder if it is simply that their annual routine is so ingrained that it means that their body clocks are telling them it's time to hunker down for the winter?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A lovely week

What a lovely week it's been. The weather has been fabulous - sunny and warm. It's difficult to believe it's mid October. Work has eased off a bit so I don't feel anywhere near as stressed out (or knackered) as I have the last few weeks.

On Thursday night I went to a swanky awards dinner at The Dorchester, courtesy of Money Management, as I had been shortlisted for an award. And I won! £1,000 smackeroos - earmarked for some lovely new feed troughs for the goats, and a bit for yarn ;) Michael Jackson was apparently in residence, but didn't put in an appearance :)

On Friday I finally got to meet Carolyn, who I've been in touch with through the Knitty board. What a fabulously lovely lady. It was great to meet her at last. We had lunch and spent a very pleasant couple of hours chatting. And she brought this with her

as a birthday gift for me, which was so, so kind of her. Isn't it beautiful? It's wool roving from Pikku Finnsheep, which she got at the Knitting & Stitching show. It is unbelievably soft, and smells faintly of sheep - lovely!

While I'm on the subject of birthday gifts, here's the cashmere Kerrie gave me

Gorgeous isn't it? Aren't knitters generous?

Finally, Saturday came around and it was off to Ally Pally where I met up in the morning with Little My, Woollymind and Sis from the Knitty board. Also managed a brief chat with Holly, who was hard at work on the Knit Tin's stand.

What can I say about Ally Pally. It was just wonderful to see so much yarn. Such a treat for us Brits. I think that I was actually quite restrained in the circumstances, but I did treat myself to some beautiful Possum yarn from Touch Yarns of Australia. I also bought a great mohair/merino scarf kit from them, lots of undyed yarn of varying fibres from Texere Yarns and the Handweavers Studio for Kool Aid dyeing, some more Hip Knits silk, and a ball of Louisa Hardings "Impressions" which although it is 84% nylon is so, so soft.

I managed to spend some time in the morning doing a bit of research, in preparation for when we get our kid mohair processed into yarn. It was very interesting to see how popular mohair is, although most of what I saw was from outside of the UK (which is great!). It really got me fired up to get going on our yarn production.

Carolyn joined us in the afternoon, and we spent a couple more hours wandering around the show.

I was knackered by the time I got home, but it was soooo worth it. I hope everyone else who went had as good a time as I did!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Point protectors could save your life

Last night, after watching The Closer, Eddie was doing his usual "I'm a man, I can't possibly go to bed without flicking through all the TV channels with the remote at least 4 times first" routine (thank your favourite deity we only have terrestial TV. Back in the good old days when we had cable this routine could take up to an hour). Anyway, we happened to just catch the end of CSI NY. I have no idea what the storyline was, but the denouement was that some woman had drunk something which affected her such that she collapsed. Unfortunately for her she collapsed onto an innocent woman's bag of knitting and was impaled on the needles, and died.

Knitters beware. It could happen to you. Use point protectors when taking your knitting out in public.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Another hectic week, but progress on the knitting front

So another hectic week draws to a close. Why do the weekends go so quickly?

Work still manic, but had a great end to the working week by meeting up with Kerrie for lunch on Friday.

Seriously, she is amazing. Not only does she work full time and have 2 kids, but she also finds time to run Hip Knits and Magknits. I'm exhausted just thinking about her workload.

Not only did Kerrie bring me some luscious silk I custom ordered, but she gave me for my birthday the most beautiful hank of cashmere. I was lost for words. Beautiful soft shades of greens and reds, lovely autumnal colours, and so ME. The silk is also in autumnal colours. I have almost a kilo, some of which is destined to become a Clapotis for my sister in law Deb, but the rest is for ME ME ME.

The only downside is that I am such a ditherer about yarn. I'm terrible at deciding what to do with it, if it's yarn I've bought (or been given) without a specific project in mind. The cashmere cries out to be a shawl. I'm thinking Birch, or Kiri at the moment. Having already made myself a Clapotis in the silk, I'd really like to knit a garment with this batch. Currently it's whispering "cables" to me. Maybe the Anniversary sweater from Knitty??

I will post pictures soon so you can all have a drool.

I got back to the office to find I'd been gone for 2 hours! The time flew by. It was so great to meet Kerrie, and to have a good old natter with another knitter (I like the way that bit sounds)

Only 6 days to go to the Knitting & Stitching Show. I discovered yesterday I'd missed the deadline for ordering my ticket in advance - by one day. Crap. Consequently, I dreamed last night that I arrived to find a humungous queue, which meant I was late for meeting the girls from Knitty. For someone who has a pathological fear of being late for anything this rates as a nightmare in my book. Now I'm thinking I'd better get there by about 9 (the doors don't open til 10) just to make sure.....

Angela from the Knitty board ordered some kid mohair fleece during the week, so I spent a few hours yesterday cleaning up a couple of kilos. Picking out bits of hay, straw, miscellaneous vegetation, and the occasional poo is an odd way to pass the time, I'll admit, but I was quite happy sitting there picking it over and dreaming of when the huge number of sacks of fleece around me have been processed into luscious hanks of kid mohair yarn. I do like selling fleece to spinners though. I love the thought of the raw product being magically transformed by hand.

Major progress to report on the knitting front for a change. The cashmere socks are finished. They fit perfectly. They are beautiful, they are soft and snuggly. And out of the 100g I bought, I reckon I have at least 70g left. Result! I'm thinking a nice lacy scarf for that.

Klaralund is off the needles, and now just needs washing, blocking, then the dreaded sewing up. And Penryn is whizzing along. Cast on the back at 9 pm on Friday, knitted for about an hour. Finished it yesterday evening while watching "The Cider House Rules". What a great film.

Started the front this afternoon, while I spent a couple of hours watching "Downfall". Another great film. Hitler was clearly completely bonkers by the end. Why the hell didn't someone just shoot the bugger?

Right, there's a Gressingham duck roasting away in the oven which needs my attention......

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Which about sums up how I feel at the moment, and is my excuse for lack of blogging.

Since my week off (which seems like another lifetime ago) work has been incredibly hectic. Added to which Eddie has been working away for the last 2 weeks, and the chap in the village, Geoffrey, who normally does some of the routine feeds when Eddie is away was not available. So, hello to days that start at 5 a.m., and find me sitting down to eat my tea at 9.30 p.m. with absolutely no breaks in between. Week 1 was made worse by a couple of the goats getting stomach upsets due to very heavy dew on the grass (you know those lovely misty mornings you get at the end of the summer when the sun burns the mist away? Great for walking the dogs in, not so nice for the goats). A goat with the squits gets dehydrated pretty quickly, and trying to get 2 litres of fluid into them several times a day is not the easiest or quickest thing in the world to try and do.

So, by last Friday I felt like absolute shite. And then I got the news that Deb,( my lovely sis-in-law)'s mum died on Friday evening. She has been battling cancer for most of this year. It's so sad, but I know Deb is glad for her mum that the pain is over. Death is always awful for those left behind though. So, not a good end to the week.

However, last Saturday I managed a lie in until 8, and then spent the day at The Knit Tin where I learnt to crochet!! Yay!

Six women ranging in age from 31 to 80, none of whom knew each other. We never stopped laughing all day. It was great fun, and we were all pretty equally pants at it to begin with, and all pretty darn good at it by the end of the day. Anna, who took the workshop, was patience personified, and a brilliant teacher.

During lunch we all descended on the shop like locusts. Now the last thing I needed was any more yarn - I've got a To Do list as long as my arm. And I promised myself on the way there I would only buy needles and notions. No yarn. Absolutely none. No way.

Then I saw this

and I just had to get the yarn to knit this

Thing is, I wasn't taken with the range of clours in the shop for Natural Fleece, so decided to sub with this, which has exactly the same gauge

Also picked up some 9mm bamboo circs, and a couple of other bits and bobs.

I'm on the second cashmere sock, which I hope to finish this weekend, or early next week. I'm obviously getting cocky with this sock knitting business as I've branched out into a 2x2 rib instead of plain stocking stitch. It's made for a much better fit. I've also gone down a sock size, and can finally say I have made a sock that fits me perfectly (and has no holes in!).

Then I HAVE to finish Klaralund (still on last sleeve, haven't done any knitting on the train for the last couple of weeks as too knackered), and THEN I can start on this. Until then I'm petting the yarn every so often.

In between the total chaos that has been my life for the last couple of weeks, I have managed to creep onto eBay occasionally. I managed to pick up a swift to go with my bargain wool winder. It's ancient, but looks to be in very good condition - haven't had a chance to try it out yet. If it does work, it will have been another great bargain at £6 including p&p. Have also managed to track down some of the things on my SP's wish list, so have just about got the next package ready to go.

This week has been another week of total exhaustion but had a great night out last night with everyone from work. Our young chap, Jas, who we've trained up from leaving uni is ready to go off into the big wide world (well Milton Keynes), and last night was his leaving do. We had a fab meal at The Lightship at St Katherine's Docks, and I discovered the Tower of London is about 10 minutes walk from my office. I really am so crap at knowing where stuff is in London. But next summer I'm determined I'm going to take a stroll down there on a nice sunny day.

Got home at about 1.15 this morning. I'm so glad I live at the end of the line because I fell into such a deep sleep on the train and only woke up when it finally stopped. Leapt up, (like you do when you wake up suddenly) and jumped off the train only to discover my right leg had gone to sleep and refused to take my weight. Cue me crumpling into a heap. I bet everyone else getting off the train thought I was pissed (I don't drink!).

Today I have been shopping and catching up with emails. Tomorrow I get to visit the Knitty board properly for the first time in about 3 weeks.

Next week Eddie is away again but Geoffrey is on hand to help out. The funeral is on Monday, which won't be good, but on Friday (my birthday) I'm meeting Kerrie for lunch - turns out she works just across the road from me so we are rendezvousing at Pizza Express. That will be a lovely end to another manic week.

Oh, and finally thanks for all the name suggestions - I love them and will use them all.

Thanks especially to Jess for her suggestion for Smiley Miley - now known as Tolcarne Gelos after the Greek spirit of laughter. Isn't that just so wonderful, and so appropriate?

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