Wednesday, 28 February 2007


Well, it is February 28th, and this means two things. One is that it is time (well, that is to say the last possible time!) to make my Blogalong post for February, on this month's topic of Serendipity. When I thought about this word, what came into my mind was a memory from childhood, of a television character called Serendipity Dog. I do not remember much about Serendipity Dog except that he was a robot dog who asked questions in a mechanical voice, and after all this time I am not sure that I have not confused him somewhat with K9, Dr Who's dog. A quick search reveals some information in Wikipedia which confirms the existence of Serendipity Dog, though sadly I have not managed to find a photo of him.

The picture I have posted is of Deputy Dawg. I was only about eight or nine years old when I remember watching Serendipity Dog; I had never heard the word serendipity and did not know what it meant. I imagined that it was a kind of play on the name Deputy Dawg, another of my favourite programmes at the time. For all those years the two characters have remained associated in my mind, and if I think of serendipity, Deputy Dawg comes to mind as well!
The other thing that February 28th means is that it is time to have finished my socks for the Sock a Month challenge. Here's how they are looking:

Oops! I haven't quite made it. Oh well, they will have to be the first socks for March, instead. And finally, I received this pack of Jaeger Trinity, in a pale blue colour called Powder, yesterday.

It was on sale at Janette's Rare Yarns and one pack should be enough to make a summer weight Ivy, don't you think? Of course, I have a few things to knit before I can get started on that. Apart from a few socks, I have a sweater to design and knit for Mr Knitbert. But it is such a lovely soft yarn and a pale, summery colour, I just couldn't resist it.

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Bonus Photos

I have finally worked out how to photograph very small things, so I can post this picture of two of the beautiful stitchmarkers I bought from the very talented sprite64 on the Crafty Threads and Yarns Forum.

They are grazing on my Hedera sock for the February sock a month challenge (and I will continue to maintain that they are for February until midnight on the 28th), which you can see better in the second photo.

And finally, a photo to show that Ivy looks just as great with jeans as it does with a smart skirt. Did I mention that I'm really pleased with my Ivy? Alright, I'll shut up about it now...

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Finished Ivy

At last I have finished knitting something! All around me people have been knitting one, two or even three pairs of socks a month, Central Park Hoodies and Rogue, with lists of finished items streaming down their blog sidebars, and I've been plodding away, steadily knitting IVY and not actually finishing anything.

Now I have finished and here is the result. It is knitted in Patons Diploma Gold, colour Lupin and it has taken me about six weeks to complete. As I learned new, improved sewing up techniques last year, it has taken me three days to sew together using teeny tiny neat mattress stitch. I've got to say that it was worth it though, the seams are much flatter and neater than I achieved with my previous method.

I really like the finished sweater, it is very versatile and comfortable, and I would like to knit lots more! I'd like several in different colours, and I'd like to knit a summer one now, in a silk and cotton or alpaca mix. However, learning from experience, I am not going to try and knit another one straight away. I have an alpaca sweater for Mr Knitbert to get started on next. It is a strange feeling when I finish a large project which has taken several weeks; although I want to get to the end of the project and wear the garment, I feel strangely unsettled when the project is complete, as if something is missing! It takes me a few days to get engrossed in another project. Luckily I have a couple in waiting - my Hedera for Sock a Month 2007 (will I get them finished by the end of the month?) and a Clapotis in SWT Oasis, which I would like to get completed in time to take on my forthcoming trip. The second stop on the trip, by the way, is Auckland, New Zealand, where we are going to spend some time with Mr Knitbert's family. Yes, Mr Knitbert is a Kiwi!

Friday, 16 February 2007

A Little of What You fancy

For Valentine's Day, Mr Knitbert bought me this beautiful Donegal Tweed from Irish Yarns and Crafts. It is a gorgeous red colour with flecks of blue and black.

I do have quite a lot of this yarn now; I already had the charcoal and the grey and brown mix, and I also got the aubergine colour from another member of the Crafty Threads and Yarns Forum.

Actually, I bought this last week, but I didn't dare tell anyone. It is also a very beautiful colour, with flecks of magenta and violet. Including some Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed, I make that five lots of aran tweed yarn I have now. I suppose I'd better consider knitting something with it! I am definitely going to knit at least one Central Park Hoodie and at least one Rogue. I'm now on the lookout for other beautiful aran patterns which might be suitable.

I am pleased to announce that I have also made good progress with some knitting this week. As you may remember, I have been working on the sleeves of my Ivy.

As I was knitting them both at the same time, progress has been a little slow, but following a final burst at the garage this afternoon while I waited for my car to take its MoT test (successfully, I am sure you will be happy to hear!), the sleeves are done, hoorah!

I thought you might like to see a couple of Barbies from my collection, so they are helping to hold the sleeves in position for the photo. The left hand Barbie is wearing a hat bought for her by Catbert in Los Angeles, which is where she spent Christmas in 2005. The right hand Barbie has hair you can cut and style, although anyone caught cutting it would be subject to severe penalties, of course. Especially if they were to use my dressmaking scissors. Let's not go there! I only have the ties and the neck border to do now and I can sew up. Just as a reminder, here is the front and back already completed (attached at the shoulders).

There were a few other purchases this week. I could no longer resist the lure of Tofutsies and bought a ball of Light Foot and a ball of Stand on your Own Two Feet from P2tog.

The yarn, which is delightfully soft, arrived with two free patterns, one called Mountain Peeks and one called Bows on Your Toes. They both look lovely, and I am looking forward to knitting them. I also ordered a copy of Interweave Knits Winter 2005 ,mainly for the Ballet Wrap Cardigan, but also for the Embossed Leaves socks and the Aran Pullover (an excellent candidate for some of my lovely aran tweed).

Ordered this week but not yet available, were some wonderful stitchmarkers, to appear in a future post.

I think it is also time to reveal that Mr Knitbert and I are going on a trip in a few weeks. Our first stop will be Hong Kong, which I have not visited before, and I am intending to publish a record of our journey on the blog as we travel. I'll keep you informed! There are still a few yarn-shopping days before we depart, and this weekend we need to buy Mr Knitbert a new suitcase, an exciting project in its own right.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Mmmmm! Delicious

Last weekend the lovely Pictish from the Crafty Threads and Yarns Forum posted this recipe for a vegetarian casserole using a slow cooker: Chickpea and Parsnip Casserole in Red Wine. Now I don't know about you, but I do not have many vegetarian recipes for my slow cooker; I have plenty of meat-based ones, but as Mr Knitbert is vegetarian I don't often use them. This one sounded so tasty I decided to have a go at it myself this weekend, and as it has come out well I wanted to share it. And if anyone reading has a favourite vegetarian slow cooker recipe that they would like to share, I'd love to hear it. If I try it I'll publish some photos of the results, along with Mr Knitbert's Verdict, in a future post.

Pictish's recipe is more of a concept than an exact specification, so I have freely adapted it while (I hope) remaining true to the original idea. Here are all the ingredients assembled ready to start:

I had some butternut squash and celeriac left over from another recipe, so I added those, and I also replaced some of the parsnips with sweet potato. At Mr Knitbert's request I increased the amount of chickpeas, too.
I made a tomato, onion and garlic sauce using a tin of tomatoes instead of tomato puree, to which I added the chickpeas, vegetable stock and red wine:

There is a lot of chopping to do with most vegetarian recipes, so Mr Knitbert is fully trained:

Here are all the chopped vegetables in the slow cooker:

The sauce ready to be added:

And, six hours later, it was ready to eat - I added a swirl of creme fraiche as suggested by Pictish, which was yummy.

Mr Knitbert's Verdict: **** Very tasty. His recommendation - serve with mash to soak up the sauce.

While the slow cooker was doing its job, I had time to carry on knitting the sleeves of my Ivy. I have two more increases to do, then knit straight to the armholes and then shape the sleeve cap.

As you can see, I am knitting them both at the same time, which is exactly what my mother always used to do with her sleeves, but which I have never tried before. I think it is turning out quicker to knit the two together than it would have been to knit them one after the other, and there is the added advantage of having the same tension and the same row count on both sleeves. Plus, once I'm done, I'm done. No second sleeve syndrome, yay!

Following this reasoning, I am starting to think that it might be quicker and more satisfying to knit two socks on two circs. While I can manage one sock on two circs, I have never worked out how to do two. Yesterday I discovered Eric and Cat's great video podcast Let's Knit2gether. In her first episode she demonstrates how you would organise yourself to cast on and knit two socks on two circs and - well - it's easy! She also explains how to do two socks on one circ using Magic Loop.

I've got to finish my Hedera in the old, slow, one-at-a-time way, and then I'm going to do my next socks as a pair on two circs. Has anyone else tried this? How did you find it, is it really faster?

Sock a month - bah! Hundreds of socks a month more like!

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Guess the Baby

Some while ago there was a bit of a crisis in the Knitbert household. It was sparked by an event I am organising at work, for which, to add a bit of fun, we decided that the management team should all provide some baby photos. The idea was to put them on the wall and ask the attendees to guess who was which baby.

So that weekend I asked Mr Knitbert to go into the loft, where there is a box containing all the Knitbert family photos for about the last hundred years (no really) and drawings made by my Aunt Dorothy, and my grandmother Molly's notebooks, and to bring this box down. Well, Mr Knitbert searched the loft, and brought assorted boxes to show me, and I shouted instructions from the top of the ladder until I was hoarse, but the long and the short of it was that we had lost the box of photos.

Now of course I know that this cannot have happened. My brother Yugbert, who previously had custody of this box, had brought it to us a few years earlier, when he was moving house, and asked us to look after it for a while. We said no problem, and we took the box and put it in the loft. Since then there have been no untoward occurrences, no break-ins, no coming home and finding the loft hatch swinging mysteriously open, and we haven't touched the box ourselves. So it must still be in the loft! The problem seems to be that Mr Knitbert can't find it.

I daren't mention to my brother that we might not exactly know, just at this precise moment, the exact location of the box, and also I do need a baby photo for the event at work, and even more than all that I would actually like to find the box because it has Important Things in it. So this last weekend I sent Mr Knitbert up to the loft again and we tried a more structured approach. This time I just ordered him to describe things from the boxes that are in the loft, and then bring them to me. I have a suspicion that Mr Knitbert is applying too much personal judgement when looking at boxes and is dismissing candidate boxes just because, in his opinion, they don't look like The Box.

Well, we didn't find The Box yet, but we did find a box which has a lot of my photos in, including some baby photos, as you can see from the photo of me and Yugbert at the top of this post, so that was a good start. And Mr Knitbert has offered to put flooring in the loft and put up shelves so I can look for my own d___n Box in future. Isn't that sweet of him?

I received two items in the post this week which were not yarn (I blushingly confess that there were also items which are yarn), one of them was this book, which was recommended by Jacquie, and is very interesting, and one was the Spring 2007 Interweave Knits. I like a lot of the things in this magazine, and in particular I would like to knit the Ruffled Surplice, the Ribs and Lace tank, the Dollar and a Half Cardigan, the Slanted Neck Pullover, the Cable Down Raglan, the Merry Maiden's Dress for my twin cousins (they'll be the right size in about five years, luckily) and the Bauhaus Fair Isle Sweater for Mr Knitbert.

I am overwhelmed with admiration for the technical virtuosity of Eunny's entrelac socks, but I personally would not care to wear them. And let me reassure you now that there will never be any knitted items in the lingerie drawer chez Knitbert.

Friday, 2 February 2007

"Memory Lane" February

I have decided to start a series of posts, once a month, which I shall call "Memory Lane". The idea is that each month I shall take a photo or an item which reminds me of something in the past, and tell the story which is associated with it.
This photograph was taken about ten or twelve years ago, do you recognise what is in the background? That's right, it is Niagara Falls! At this time I was living in Paris, and during my summer holidays I had met and become friends with a Canadian lady, let us call her Alice. Alice and I remained in touch after our holiday, and I nearly visited her a few months later when I came to Pittsburgh for a conference, but in the end I just did not have time. She invited me to come and stay for Christmas instead, and on impulse I accepted.

The cheapest flight was with KLM, so I had to fly first from Paris to Amsterdam, and from there to Toronto. I remember the first evening in Toronto; Alice drove me around her neighbourhood to see the Christmas lights, and what really impressed me was the snow, which was several feet deep. Actual steam was coming out of the drain covers, just like it does on the movies, but just like it doesn't in the South of England! Or in Paris, come to that. We had been invited to a friend's house for dinner, and at about 9pm I nearly fell asleep in my dessert, as it was about 3 in the morning for me, and I had to be taken back to Alice's place for some sleep.

It was a lovely Christmas, very very cold outside, and I enjoyed visiting Toronto, which seemed to me to combine the energy of the New World with that sense of the past that I am used to in Europe. I wasn't much into photography in those days, so this is the only photograph I have of the trip. Alice was very worried that I was not used to real cold and would not dress up warmly enough, so as you can see I look like Michelin woman. I think I had about four coats on and the earmuffs just complete the picture.

This trip did not take place during one of my knitting phases, so I purchased no yarn, but I did buy a delightful jacket, which I still have.

After writing this I went to my wardrobe to try the jacket on this morning. I had forgotten how nice it is! It came from a shop called Ms Emma Designs. In this shop, you chose a garment and it was then fitted to your shape by pinning. A few days later, the custom fitted garment was ready to pick up. What really pleased me is that it still fits perfectly even though it was fitted to the shape I was over ten years ago!

Alice and I stayed friends for a few years after that, but sadly have lost touch now. But I still have the warmest memories of my magical, white, Canadian Christmas.