Tuesday, 30 January 2007

The Yarn of the Irish

Catbert has taken to reading my blog, which is nice. We were chatting on the phone at the weekend and she mentioned how amusing she found it that all the posts were about how I'd bought yet more yarn and still not knitted anything. Well I think that is a slight exaggeration, Catbert, actually, but I have to confess that I did order some more yarn at the weekend, and it has been arriving this week. Regular readers might recall that I have been thinking about knitting the Central Park Hoodie. I also purchased the pattern for Rogue this week. Mmmm, think I need a bit more aran yarn.
I discovered this gorgeous store on ebay, and in a few clicks of a lambs tail had purchased some Kilcarra Irish Aran Tweed in a charcoal colour

and in a grey-brown mix with lovely coloured flecks.

I think I will get at least one more lot, in another colour, it is difficult to find really nice aran yarn, and this is just gorgeous, soooo soffffft and pretttty my preciousssss, yesss.
Storage might be a problem, I may possibly have to chuck out some of Mr Knitbert's electronic stash. Personally I don't think he would notice for at least five years, he doesn't spend as much time with his stash as I do with mine!

I broke a knitting needle on Sunday and while I was waiting for it to be glued by Mr Knitbert I decided to take a break from knitting Ivy and start a sock. This is a Hedera in Angel Yarns hand dyed sock yarn. I think it's really pretty, but I have resumed Ivy now as the needle is mended, so the sock will have to wait a few weeks while I finish that.

You may notice that the clock is now showing the time in Hong Kong. What can it all mean?

Friday, 26 January 2007

UFO Spotting, er I Mean Busting

For the last few days I have been catching up on some of the things I committed to doing this month which I have not made progress with. I signed up to the Crafty Threads and Yarns Forum UFO Buster Event. Sorry about the photo, I'm afraid it's Mr Knitbert's idea of a joke. Anyway, this morning I have had a look through my Unfinished Objects. There are only really two of them, which surprised me, but I have had a few clearouts in the last year when I got rid of or finished off some outstanding projects, it has obviously paid off. Here's the first one:

This is a crochet cushion from Erika Knight's Essential Crochet. I have finished the front, which is in a lacey pattern, and have got stuck on the two back pieces. These are in interminable double crochet. The yarn isn't really helping either, it's a very pretty nylon fibre with beads in it, which splits like anything.

The lace was fun to do, but the ghastly double crochet isn't. When I've done the backs then I have to make a cushion cover out of the red fabric to go under the crochet. I don't mind doing that bit, it won't take long. I do think it will look very pretty, and I would like to finish it now I've got this far, so I think I'm going to have to make myself get on with it. What do you think? Any ideas for remotivating me?

The second project is even easier than the first. I have this piece of fabric which Mr Knitbert brought me back from Kuwait.

It needs to have the two short ends roll-hemmed and then it will become a stole with beading on the ends. The problem is that I started doing the roll-hemming and it didn't turn out very well. It didn't roll properly.

I have done some research and I think I know what to do to make it look right, but first I have to unpick what I have already done. Which I hate doing. And also I hate the stupid roll hemming foot which is fiddly and difficult to get started. So it's been in the UFO pile for *mumble mumble alright then three years*. I think I'd like to finish it, so again I have to somehow make myself get on with it. All suggestions gratefully received!

The only other unfinished item I have right now is my Clapotis no 2, but I am doing a repeat of this at the moment every time I finish another project, so I don't think it is really at risk.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Stash Reduction? Not On My Watch!

When I started knitting Ivy, I was pleased with myself because I was knitting it from stash, and it meant that a large pack of yarn taking up space on the cupboard floor would soon be gone. I also thought that joining Sock a Month 2007 would quickly reduce my sock yarn stash (see Yarn Disclosure ), so by now I imagined I would be well on my way to reducing the stash backlog.

Well, owing to a couple of unfortunate incidents involving ebay last week, I have now increased my stash, and I am knitting Ivy as fast as I can to make some space to put it all. First of all, I have decided to knit the Central Park Hoodie, for which I needed (no, really, dear reader, I did need it) two packs of green Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed (from Janette's Rare yarns).

Then I saw some Twister sock yarn on the Angel Yarns Forum. A quick search on ebay revealed a pack of eight in lovely colours from this seller. Ooops. Now my sock yarn stash contains enough to knit twenty six pairs of socks, which if my calculations are correct (and they've been checked by Mr Knitbert) means MORE than two socks per month. And in fact I haven't even started one sock for the month of January as I am knitting Ivy. *Hangs head in shame*.

Nice yarn though innit?
By the way, you may have noticed our nice new blog clock. Why is it showing the time in Auckland? All will be revealed...soon.

Sunday, 21 January 2007


This post is part of a Blogalong organised by the Bloggers Paradise Forum. Each month, members of the forum post a thread on their blogs using a title which has been agreed for that month. This month's title is Treasure.

When I started to think about this topic I realised that many of my treasures are memories or keepsakes which remind me of people or events in the past. Probably something to do with my age! Anyway, I have chosen as my treasure something which links me to my paternal Grandmother, who was called Molly.

Molly died before I reached my first birthday, so I do not remember her at all, but I have a few of her things. The mirror in the photo (which I regret to say is real tortoiseshell, but I suppose those were less enlightened times) is part of a set, which includes a matching hairbrush and jewel box. I was also given an ivory hand mirror engraved with her initials. For many years I have used the tortoiseshell mirror every morning.

Anyway, that's not the treasure! I always believed that my grandmother and I had never met, but a few years ago I came across a letter among my mother's papers. It was a letter from my grandmother to my mother, written just after she had returned from visiting my mother in hospital after I was born. In the letter she mentions the visit and talks about seeing me. So we did meet, even if it was only that once, and my treasure is that letter which tells that story.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

Last Train to Knitville

This week I had to go to Paris for a meeting. The meeting was on Friday, and as it was an all day meeting I took a train the day before so as to be there on Friday morning. It said on the weather forecast that it might be quite windy, and on the way down to Ashford in the car I noticed a few gusts of wind that made me slow down and drive carefully.

The train was about forty minutes late arriving from Waterloo because of the strong winds, but I had my knitting so I wasn't bothered. Eventually the train showed up and we got in and made ourselves comfortable. It takes about 30 minutes from Ashford to get to the Tunnel and out the other side, and then a bit longer to get to the first stop at Calais. Usually the Calais stop is about two minutes, so when we hadn't moved after twenty minutes we knew something was up. After a while the train did move, but backwards, into a siding, and then Eurostar announced that we could not continue the journey because of the weather and that they were trying to organise an alternative route.

To be honest, we could not see much evidence of wind from the sheltered position we were in, apart from a few bushes blowing about. When I saw the news the next day I could see that huge trees had been blown down across the railway lines, and the storm, which extended across the whole of Northern Europe, was really very dangerous. There were people on the train who had contacts via phone with people who had access to the internet, and from this we learned that we were on the last Eurostar to leave Waterloo, the train after us had been cancelled and the whole Eurostar network had been stopped. We didn't know what would happen next, but I had lots of work to do, and it was nice and peaceful on the train, so I got on with that.

After about another half hour there was an announcement that we would be waiting in the siding for at least three more hours, at the end of which there would be a decision about whether we would go on to Paris or back to London. A lady next to me emitted what I can only describe as a wail as she heard this. When I heard her story I understood why. She had been trying to get to Paris to meet a client for a meeting in a fabulous restaurant. First she went to Heathrow and found her flight was cancelled. Then she drove like a bat out of hell to Ashford to get the Eurostar. She had just heard that her client was on the Eurostar following ours, which had been held in London, and then she found out we were stuck in a railway siding for three hours!

I finished my work, and then got out my knitting. I had my trusty iPod with me and a number of knitting podcasts to listen to, the Eurostar staff were bringing tea, coffee and water around, so I had plenty of time to knit without interruption.

After less than three hours there was another announcement, to say that they had found us another route and we were going to be setting off for Paris in a few minutes. Sure enough, the train glided away about five minutes later, and after another hour and a half we finally reached Paris, about four hours later than the schedule. I felt sorry for many of the travellers, clearly not knitters, who had nothing to do to pass the time. Some people had Sudoku, which kept them happy, although unless you staple the pages together afterwards, they do not make much of a wearable garment. The rest spent the time either on the phone to their friends complaining, or calling other transport providers, futilely trying to organise an alternative means of getting to Paris.

As an aside, I had to do that once when there was a Eurostar problem getting home, a few years ago. A few intrepid Brits and I set off from Calais to get home when Eurostar wanted to take us back to Paris until the morning. It was Friday night and we just wanted to get home. We used local trains and then took a Seacat, using the mobile phones of a few kind passengers to make Seacat bookings with our credit cards as the local train trundled for hours though the French countryside. There was a great sense of cameraderie, just like during the Blitz, I fondly imagine, although less dangerous obviously. I got home at two in the morning, and I don't regret it for a moment, but I learned from this that the Eurostar is REALLY FAST and that other forms of transport are not good substitutes.

Anyway, I got to my hotel in time to have a light meal and a reasonable night's sleep, I attended my meeting the next day, and on the way back home I bought perfume, and I did some more knitting. My Ivy is making excellent progress! Plus I got lots of work done.

I've learned one thing though. Next time I travel I'm going to carry a few spare needles and some acrylic DK. I'm going to offer to teach people, who have nothing with them to pass the time, to knit or crochet. Perhaps they'll call me the mad knitting woman of the Channel Tunnel. That would be nice.

Friday, 12 January 2007

Knitting In Public

This last week I've been in darkest Somerset, working away from home. I took my knitting bag with me and as you can see from the photo above, I managed to get some knitting done. I knitted in the evening in the hotel bar, and during the day at work. I'd just like to clarify, by the way, that I knitted at lunch time, not when I was actually supposed to be working.

The reason I thought I would write a post about this is that I often hear people saying that they don't feel they can knit at work (in their lunch hours I mean!), and one reason which is frequently given is that they work in a profession with a high proportion of men, such as IT. My profession is relatively male-dominated, and I have knitted in my lunch hour, without any adverse reactions from colleagues, on many occasions over the last twenty years.

People do often come up to me and ask what I am knitting, and I am happy to tell them. Many people of my age or thereabouts have memories of their mothers knitting when they were children, and so it brings back pleasant memories of their childhood. A very high proportion of male colleagues as well as female have told me that they were taught to knit as children, which surprised me at first, but when I think about it, my brother learned to knit along with me when we were kids, and I taught DSOK and Catbert to knit together when they were little. One colleague even remembered his father knitting!

Now if you really feel uncomfortable about knitting in public, or in your place of work, then I think that you have to respect your own feelings, after all, you have to enjoy it, and if you are tense and nervous then it isn't going to go well! But if you are dying to whip out your latest socks on two circs in your lunch hour and you are just not sure if it will be OK, I hope this post will encourage you. This week I was leading a team of five male colleagues to complete a demanding and intensive task. At the end of the week, we had some photos of the team doing stuff which I had taken as we went along, and the guys asked if they could also take a photo of me knitting to add to them. That's where this photo comes from, and I thought that was rather nice of them. So give it a go, you might be surprised what you will learn about your fellow workers!

Incidentally, I managed to finish the back of Ivy, so I'm going to be starting the left front very soon! I'm really pleased with how it is turning out.

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Yarn Disclosure!

As you can see from the sidebar, I am signed up to "Sock a Month 2007" on the Crafty Threads 'n' Yarns forum. I haven't started yet because I am knitting Ivy, but I thought I would do some preparation. I have decided to knit Hedera and wanted to choose the yarn. Now, I haven't been keeping an eye on my sock yarn stash, I know I have bought one or two balls over the last year, but I've knitted five pairs of socks so far and if I thought about it at all I probably imagined I had about four or five balls. Well.

First of all, I realised that I had actually bought four balls in the last three weeks, what with the Tiger socks panic and the P2tog sale. Oh, well, probably still less than ten balls overall.
Next I am collecting up all my sock yarn from the stash cupboard to photograph. "What are you doing?" asked Mr Knitbert. "I'm collecting up a few balls of sock yarn to photograph for the blog," I replied. At this point I was in fact stealthily trying to creep down the stairs carrying all the yarn. I had made a cunning pyramid of yarn in my arms, and unfortunately the top of the pyramid was higher than me and was causing some difficulty in seeing where I was treading. I was carefully looking around it so as not to lose my footing, when Mr Knitbert distracted me by saying "how much have you got then?" and getting up to come and see, instead of just waiting for the blog post like everyone else. I gave a guilty start, a ball of yarn fell off the top of the pyramid, I bent down to pick it up and...well, let's just say the yarn got down the stairs quicker than I did.

So I've got enough yarn to knit 18 pairs of socks; hey, loads of people have more than that. Don't they? Mr Knitbert was a bit shocked, though.

So here's the stash:
In this picture (back to front, L to R) Opal Lollipop, Lana Grossa Cotton, Lana Grossa Magica, Lucy Neatby Celestial Merino Dream, Cygnet Wool Rich and Angel Yarns hand dyed.

Next there is Colinette Jitterbug, Bright Dyes hand-dyed Opal, Curious Yarns sock yarn, more Cygnet Wool Rich, Fyberspates sock yarn and another Lana Grossa Cotton. I'd just like to remind everyone that the Cygnet comes in 50g balls so you need two for a pair of socks. Just so there is no misunderstanding.

And finally, Sunbeam St Ives 4 ply, Opal Rainforest Tiger, one skein and two balls of Angel Yarns hand dyed, and another ball of Lana Grossa Cotton.

I rather like having a sock yarn stash, there is some possibility I might actually knit it all one day. Anyway, the one I'm going to use for the first 2007 sock is the Angel Yarns hand-dyed one which is shown in close-up at the beginning of this post.

Before I close, it came recently to my attention that 31 people had viewed Mr Knitbert's profile only to be disapointed because there was nothing there to see. I think this is rather unprofessional, so Mr Knitbert is currently locked in the computer room writing his profile. Please accept the Knitbert Principle's apologies if you were one of these 31 people. I've also noted that he hasn't actually posted anything yet, although he did mutter something about posting his New Year Resolutions, which would be about doing less DIY, no walking or cycling at all and resting more.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Looking Forward and Looking Back

I don't typically make New Year's resolutions, but I do like to look back over the past year and think about what went well, what I would like to change, and what objectives I might have for the coming year.

What Went Well
1. I changed my job, to reduce the amount I travel, work closer to home and have more time. I've really enjoyed being at home more, and being able to cycle to work sometimes.

2. I took up knitting again, partly because of the first change, as it is an activity which I can do in my lunch hour and easily pick up and put down at home. Boy, has this had an impact on my life last year! I used to do dressmaking, and this needs special equipment and much larger time slots. Originally I thought that I would fill in additional spare time with knitting, but in reality I just knit all the time now, and as a result I have (ahem)a few sewing UFOs. Last year I joined knitting forums, made lots of new friends who also like to knit, learned new techniques and improved old ones, discovered yarns, patterns, tools and resources I had never had any idea existed. Wow!

3. Also as a result of the first change I have been able to exercise more regularly and eat more healthily (as I have not been staying in hotels half the time).

So the lifestyle change has been successful and had a lot of beneficial effects. If I decide to change my job in the future I think it will be important to take these other aspects into account.

What I would Like to Change in 2007
1. Well, I'd like to give a little more attention to some projects in the house and garden this year, I think. There are some small changes and improvements to make in the garden which we have not got around to in the last few years, and there are a couple of rooms in the house I would like to decorate, or do some maintenance in.

2. I'd also like to have a bit of a clear out in DSOK's and Catbert's rooms, as they don't really live here any more, their rooms are just being used for storage. A lot of what is being stored is just rubbish, or could be stored more efficiently. DSOK has one of those beds on stilts, and I'd really like to store that or give it to him, and redo the room as an office.

3. I'd like to do more walking and cycling with Mr Knitbert, especially in the warmer weather. I know that Mr Knitbert, who reads this blog, will be turning pale with horror as he reads this, but I assure you it WILL BE FUN.

So there isn't really anything very fundamental I would like to change, and that makes sense because my job change last year was quite a significant change which I had been trying to bring about for a while.

Objectives for 2007
1. Knit some more lace, knit some nice, wearable garments which fit well (for me and others), and knit loads and loads of socks (12 pairs to be precise! See sidebar and more of this in a future post). Try to do some sewing as well as some knitting.

2. Review ways to improve work/life balance even further and consider if any changes might need to be made.

3. Relax, enjoy life, make the most of time with the family, stop worrying so much about achieving objectives!

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Back In The Jug Agane...

...in the immortal words of Nigel Molesworth, the goriller of 3B.

Returning to everyday life after the Christmas and New Year break is always painful, I can't remember what I was doing, what the plan was, what on earth was happening or why it all seemed so important. I didn't even have a single meeting in my diary today, and a significant number of people have not returned yet from Planet Christmas. Those of us who were here sat quietly staring at our LCD screens trying not to attract attention. I've eaten a normal packed lunch, which seems like starvation rations compared to what I have been subsisting on, and I had to get up while it was still dark. Snivel. Tomorrow I'm going back to the gym. Snivel, snivel.

During the day I have managed to acquire two new meetings for the rest of the week and a list of key points for Q1 2007. So tomorrow I may feel more like I know what I am supposed to be doing.

I managed to finish the tiger socks on New Year's Eve, here modelled by their proud owner.

and yesterday I cast on for Ivy. Here's how far I have got.

I am using Patons Diploma Gold DK in Lupin colourway. It doesn't seem to be a very complicated knit, and the twisted rib pattern is rather pretty. The most difficult part of Ivy seems to be the simultaneous decreases and increases on the fronts, however I have worked through the pattern and extracted information, which I shall put into a spreadsheet, so that I can easily see what I have to do for each row.

I'm looking forward to making progress on this, it will be the first fitted garment I have knitted for six or seven years. It is also a much better written pattern than I have used in the past, and I am confident I have improved my finishing skills (my mother never told me much about blocking other than that it was a waste of time), so all in all I'm quite excited about how it will turn out.