Sunday, 28 March 2010

Honeycomb Problems

I have only got this far on Honeycomb. I've finished the waistband, which was a nice twisted rib. My progress was hindered earlier in the week when I accidentally made a moebius by twisting the c/o row. Not to be deterred, I swiftly cast on again, and have made good progress, considering how thin the yarn is.

However, here's where the real problem began. The first round of the Honeycomb pattern is: K1 (C2F, C2B) Repeat to last stitch, K1. The dilemma here was whether to bother with a cable needle (tedious) or leave the slipped stitch hanging before coming back to it later (risky). The latter seemed like the obvious option, but let me tell you: it took me at least an hour to do this first round. That is unacceptable for me! I need to be going much faster than that. I'm used to cabling without a cable needle; it makes progress much faster. However, the combination of evening knitting (dark), colour of wool (quite dark), texture of wool (tweedy) and hanging stitches made it so easy to drop a stitch, and progress was slowwwwwwww. I normally use much thicker yarn where the hanging stitch is much easier to idfentify, so this was difficult.

Bearing in mind that the cable round is repeated every 6 rounds, this will take me forever to finish. I am considering giving up now. Alternatively, I've considered doing a simple stocking stitch tank top, which I would actually prefer anyway. I realise that I would have to modify the pattern, as cabling pulls the fabric in. Presumably the waistband width wouldn't change, so I could stay where I am (as long as I remember to frog the first Honeycomb pattern round after the rib). What would you suggest for modifying the size of the overall tank top to make it in stocking stitch? Should I just give up on this project altogether?

Before embarking on this, I did read comments on Ravelry from those who had finished Honeycomb, and knew that the cabling would be a pain, so I can't blame the pattern. It's not that I can't do it, just that I want to enjoy my knitting, and this round was far from enjoyable!

Speaking of Knitty, have you seen the Spring issue? Warm weather knitting really isn't my thing anyway (I like to make woolly garments to provide warmth in winter), so I wasn't expecting to find anything I liked. The only one I would even consider would be Emmaline, but if I'm honest I probably wouldn't wear it. For me, and it's just a personal taste thing, not snobbery, I'm not keen on short-sleeved knitted cotton tops in Summer. Why not just wear a T-shirt? Sadly, I didn't like any of the other patterns, and I spend months waiting for the new issue, so it was a little disappointing. I did like the idea behind Tribute (a sock pattern written by a woman in tribute to her friend who had lost her battle with cancer), but I'm not in the mood for socks yet!

I'm probably just being too picky... I should really embrace the knit I'm working on, and stick with it, so back to work now.

Edited to Add: I'm now on my third gauge square, trying to get gauge in stocking stitch. I think this is the way forward for me.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Tank Top...Early Days

Well, the blanket's finished, so on to something new. When I say finished, I mean that all of the knitting is finished, but I still have to weave in the ends and block it. Still, it's the weekend and I want to enjoy myself; that's a Monday night job.
Therefore I've begun Honeycomb, a lovely textured tank top that I plan to wear over a white shirt, or perhaps a short-sleeved top. It has the perfect scoop-neck that I was searching for, a great slip-stitch pattern, and a twisted rib waist-band, which is where I am currently. It goes without saying that I have adapted this pattern to be knitted in the round, and I'm using 4.5mm circ's, size small.

I have been meaning to make a tank top for years, and searched many pattern databases for the perfect style. I had always wanted a scoop neck, so this fit the bill, and it's nicely textured without being bulky. If I was to make another in future, I may consider a V-neck in plain stockinette, as that would go much quicker. But that's a long way off!

When I found this pattern, I searched in vain for the correct wool, Elsebeth Lavold Silky-Wool, and couldn't find it for sale in this country. So I took myself off to the Ravelry projects page to see which yarns other people had used, and came up with Rowan Felted Wool, based on some useful recommendations and advice that someone had posted. This is the perfect suubstitute for me, as I wanted a tweedy, non-silky yarn anyway. It has a great range of colours, and in particular a good red, which is the colour I had originally intended to make the tank-top in. Now that I've started knitting with it, the red seems a little darker than I expected, but I'm sure I'll like it more when I get further into the piece.

My Stitch N' Bitch, Hammersmith SNB is planning a Tank Top KAL this year, following on from the highly successful French Press Slippers KAL that we recently undertook. I'm sorry everyone that I've already started, but I'm happy to stop at the end of the waist-band and hold off until we're all ready.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Colour Wheel

The blanket is almost finished.

This is one of those projects which, though different on the reverse, unusually looks just as nice. The colours are lovely, as are the textures created by the cotton and slip-stich combination.

I've just realised this one looks like a snail.

This week I received in the post some buttons that I bought on Etsy. Don't you love them?

They are from PaperFish and I found out about them from Petit Filou. The red toadstool-like ones initially appealed to me, but I couldn't pass up all of those divine colours. There are some great colour combinations to play around with:
Powder blue and dark fuschia...
...teal and orange.
Think of all the different accessories and jumpers they'll look good on. In fact, I'm starting a dress-making course next week, and have an idea in my head for a garment that could do with some polka-dot button adornment! Don't worry, this doesn't mean that I'm giving up on my knitting. Far from it; I'm just adding another string to my bow and kickstarting my memory of past sewing.

Once the blanket's finished I'm moving on to my tank top. I'm making it in Rown Felted Tweed in Rage (dark red). Looking forward to it!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Happy Mothers' Day

Happy Mothers' Day to my Mum. She's just got some new hens, so I painted her favourite for her, Biddy.

Saturday, 13 March 2010


I forgot to tell you about these. For my thirtieth birthday, my good friend Alex who is faithfully good at indulging my passion for knitting, gave me some wonderful surprise books.
This Haiku Knits book by Tanya Alpert is incredible. It has designs in the most unusual shapes, and is very inspiring. You're going to see examples of my attempts at some of them in the years to come.

The Norwegian Handknits book has some beautiful traditional intricate designs, many of which we will all recognise, but it is also a great read. The two authors (and knitters) have taken inspiration from the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa and proivided modern knitting patterns for many of the ancient and delicate pieces they found on view there.
It's fascinating to read about the history of the Norwegian immigrants to the States, and to learn about individual crafting women, men and children, the stories and hand-made garments they passed down through the generations. I've been reading it on the bus to work each day, and would really recommend it. One day I must tackle one of those flower-star designs (though I incorporated one into a Christmas decoration I designed, years ago).

This Elsebeth Lavold book is also very interesting, and has lots patterns involving complicated twisting celtic cables.
Am I a lucky girl or what? Actually, now I'm 30, perhaps I can't be called a girl any more? I went for an eye test yesterday and have been told I now need glasses for television and the computer screen. Is this just the start of the slippery slope into old age? Aagghh!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Weekend Activity

This is my Birthday painting from my wonderful Dad, "Across the Moray Firth from Culein", which is on the coast not far from my parents (they live inland). We've hung it temporarily in the bedroom where there's already a hook, while we work out where it looks best. Isn't it beautiful?
Did I mention that my Mum gave me some great buttons? Here they are: 5 cats...
... and a little mouse!

Last night we had our friends round for dinner. On Friday night DH completed a butchery course at the Ginger Pig, a very upmarket butcher in Marylebone High Street, which was his Christmas present from me. He really enjoyed himself, and came back armed with lots of beef. So we thought we'd take the opportunity to offer it up for our friends.

I'm afraid I neglected to photograph the exceptional Boeuf Bourguignon with celeriac mash that he made, but here's the crab that later went on crostini that we shared around before we sat down at the table.

According to Chef DH, basically you mix crab meat with diced, de-seeded tomato, parsely, lemon juice, capers and chopped artichoke, season then serve on toasted slices of ciabatta. Bliss.

We followed up with cheese and chocolate mousse, but it was the beef that really shone last night. So yummy x

Saturday, 6 March 2010

New Hat, and Birthday Surprise

Well, I promised more knitting, and here it is.
Another snowboarding hat for DH's Cousin, this one in an all-over 1x1 rib. His Mum liked the last one so much that she asked for another; I love getting commissions!! I made this one up as I just couldn't find any good patterns out there, and I'm happy with the way it turned out. Let me know if you would like the pattern and I'll email it to you. It's done in Rowan Pure Wool Aran in Navy.
What's OTN? Remember this? I'm doing another, this time at the request of a friend (can't say any more at this stage as it's a secret).
I've done this much. This is one of those projects that looks incredibly complicated, yet is really a simple knit, using mosaic knitting to create an illusion of fair-isle. The spectrum of colours and interspersed garter rows really make this a beautifully-textured and pretty piece. It also goes very quickly, considering it's quite a big blanket. That must be down to the large-ish needles (4.5mm) and the changing of colours, which makes me want to plough on.

Last week I turned THE BIG 3-0 (don't worry; I still feel 17, so far). I received some beautiful presents, both in the post from my family and in person from DH. Plus work threw me a little party with cake, balloons and pressies, and we went out for drinks. So I thought that was it.

I was wrong.

On Friday night I arrived home after work to find DH cooking. Thinking he was preparing a birthday meal, I went into the spare room to take off my coat and change my shoes. The door was closed which is unusual, but I assumed this was because DH wanted to stop the cooking smells from entering the bedrooms. Imagine my surprise when I pushed open the door mid-conversation with him, to reveal 4 Hamiltons squeezed into our little spare room!

DH had organised for my whole family to fly down from Scotland for the weekend, including DB's girlfriend Rachel. Most of Scotland was cut off last week because of the heavy snow, so it was also a miracle they made it. They had to leave home at 5am to catch a 4pm flight (it's only an hour's drive to the airport), and Rachel even had to take a different flight.

We had such a great time, once I had recovered from my fright, and I was given lots more presents, including a wonderful landscape painted by my incredibly talented Dad.

DH had made Pho with beef three-ways, his speciality and much-loved by the whole family.

On Saturday he had arranged for us to go to Greenwich by boat, so we got the boat from Embankment and took a great trip down the Thames (something none of us had ever got round to doing before), admiring the architecture on the way.

We got off at Greenwich, had a nice lunch, looked around the market and did a spot of shopping (naughty me), then took a look around the Naval Museum and Naval College. It was so interesting, and there were some wonderful buildings to look at.

A huge fresco inside the dining hall:

That night we had dinner at Roussillon, another family favourite, and they left after breakfast on the Sunday. The weekend was perfectly finished off with another party on Sunday afternoon: with my friends! It was another surprise, and a great way to end the weekend.
Here's a gorgeous plant that DH's grandma gave me. Can anyone tell me the name of it? To me it looks like a daisy, but has the fragrance of a chrysanthemum, which makes me feel really nostalgic; I love the smell of chrysanthemums.

Meanwhile, back in the reality of real-life now the birthday celebrations have finished, I'm considering what I really want to pursue this year with my knitting.

I started off the year really aiming to complete some knits for myself, as I spent most of the last two years making things for other people. This is not a complaint: I truly adore giving people things I have lovingly created. It's just that I really need to get some more skills under my belt, and I feel that I can do that when making things for myself, when they don't need to be too perfect if I'm the only one wearing them.

In addition, I'm considering designing some more things. I've had so many different ideas in my head for a couple of years now, and I've just started to get them down on paper. I really need to get them onto needles, and plan to do that soon. When it comes to what I knit, I make up quite a large percentage of my projects, as I can't always find patterns for exactly what I need in books, on Ravelry and elsewhere. My free patterns have attracted a little attention so far and some time in the future it would be good to earn just a little money from my designs, though I'll work on that later.

It'll be a long processs before I can release anything, as I also greatly enjoy knitting from a pattern, and you can imagine how long my Ravelry queue is! What do you think? Please tell me; your comments mean a lot and I look forward to them after every post.


Have you ever looked inside a tulip before?
I don't think I have, and yet I often admire them from the outside. They have beautiful transparent lines running up the centre of each petal, which I had never noticed before.

I love the way they're stretching out to reach the light. They look like a menorah!

These are beautiful birthday tulips from my family in a lovely new tartan vase.

This one has delicate curled edges. They're bringing back memories of painting and drawing for Higher Art and Portfolio Art at school. From the age of 15 to 17 I would literally spend every free waking moment at home sketching detailed drawings of different flowers and plants as still-lifes were a major component of the programme.

More knitting in the next post, I promise.