December 12, 2011

Adventures in Lomography, part 2

I haven’t blogged in a while. I’m pretty busy and my job is really tiring. So what have I been doing instead of blogging?

I’ve been kitten sitting and wandering around East London.

I went to Greenwich on the hottest day of the year (via the Shard at London Bridge- I’m a tourist in my own city sometimes). The hottest day of the year in London was in October, in case you’re wondering.

I went to Borough Market (yes, there’s a ship near Borough Market. It’s a replica of Francis Drake’s ship, I think).

Then I got the tube home.

I don’t live in the Lion King. That’s redscale film and a tree in Vauxhall Park against the sunset.

You can check out some more of my ‘efforts’ here.


October 25, 2011

The best thing ever

Penguins in sweaters, courtesy of Cute Overload.







Obviously a tragedy about the oil spill and all, but they do say every cloud has a cute lining.


October 25, 2011

Many mittens

Deadlines just don’t work for me.

I started a lovely pair of fingerless gloves recently. On reflection, ‘started’ is not the right word. I have a whole prototype glove and pattern ready for test knitting. Nor is ‘recently’. I started these in May. But then I got this idea about doing some colourwork mitten – my favourite ‘how about now?’ mittens are looking a bit threadbare and the thumbs are falling apart.  Learn from my mistakes, kids – reinforce your thumbs and for the love of all that is sacred, save some of the leftover yarn for repairs!

So the new colourwork mittens have this lovely two colour stitch pattern I designed ages and ages ago, which I’ve been wanting to use for the longest time. It’s based on Islamic tilework, which is remarkably hard to emulate in knitting. You’ve got to keep the delicacy and the contrast between sweeping curves and sharp edges, and all using little ‘v’ shapes made of wool. Anyway, I tried, and they are looking quite good, but it’s tiny wool and tiny needles and colourwork and all of a sudden it’s October and we have cold weather in London, and cold weather in London means cold hands while cycling – and I (used to – more on that in a minute) commute by bike every day.

So project number three came about. A simple set of mittens for cycling. Nothing fancy. Double knitting wool, 4.5mm needles, no colour changes. Started last week, 75% finished already. The only reason I haven’t got them done already is a little quirk of the design that I think is really exciting, so I can’t wait to launch the pattern. But the thing that was driving me on to finish them all last week was the threat of cold hands while cycling, and suddenly I don’t have that motivation (read on to find out why!)

Yesterday, I was cycling to Stitch and Bitch on the other side of London. I had to help a friend with a knitted dog with a backwards face – so you see, it was important I get there. I was almost at my destination and minding my own business at some traffic lights on Trafalgar Square, when I was knocked off my bike by an ambulance. You often see them taking calculated risks to get around traffic – this one drove out of the entrance into Whitehall and cut across the lights – but I guess there were so many people milling around that they just didn’t see me. So the next thing I know I’m under an ambulance and people are staring at me and there are flashing lights.

I’m not badly hurt. I had my helmet on and I was stationary, and the ambulance man just scooped me off the floor and threw my bike in the back of his ambulance and drove off to a quieter street where they could check I was OK (and do the paperwork!). I’m a bit stiff and sore but no serious damage. They even tried to get my bike working again, but sadly the back wheel is buckled so it might be a while before it’s moving again.

So I won’t be cycling for a while, and I don’t really need practical cycling mittens for a while either. But I’ll keep knitting, and maybe when they’re ready someone else will have better cycling luck than I do with them…!

September 26, 2011

Constanze: Now with charts!

One of the most common things I get asked is if there’s any chance I can create a chart for Constanze. I have always struggled a bit with this because I could only find chart making software where you had to click each square to make a stitch and Constanze is  70 stitches wide and contains some really odd little stitches and ugh … too much room for error.

So today I was really excited to find something that made this a lot easier! Thanks go to the incredible makers of Chartgen for creating a tool that turns written instructions (with a bit of formatting) into a chart!

Here’s a newly updated version of Constanze with charts, and if you have an existing version of Constanze and just want the chart, you can find it here. But please read the notes below before starting the chart. Constanze charted up well but with a few subtleties that need explaining!

Happy knitting!

Notes on the chart

1) This chart has not been test knit – please contact me if you spot an error. It is based on the written instructions for Constanze so if you are ever confused, refer to the text instructions above.

2) The right side rows (odd numbers) are knit right to left – the wrong side rows (evens) are knit left to right. The seven rows of garter stitch to start off with are not charted (see section ‘starting out’ above), but the garter stitch border is.

3) All stitches are shown exactly as you should work them – ie if something says “purl” on a wrong side row, you purl it.

4) Constanze has four ‘weird’ cables but Chartgen only allows me to create three ‘special’ stitches. The big 6-stitch crossovers (6RC, 6LC) are explained properly in the chart key. However, I had to use one symbol for both 3RC and 3LC. You’ll see these appear on rows 5 and 9, and they are right next to each other both times:

3LC = [slip 2 stitches and hold in front, p1, k2 stitches from cable needle].

3RC = [slip 1 stitch and hold in back, k2, p1 from cable needle]

On row 5, when you come to this, work 3LC then 3RC. On row 9, when you come to this bit, work 3RC then 3LC. Row 9 is basically reversing the cabling in row 5 in this case. If in any doubt, check the written instructions for those rows in the original Constanze pattern.

5) The chart instructs you to perform a 4RC on row 7 – if you compare this to the written notes, you’ll see that I actually alternated between 4RC and 4LC on every other pattern repeat. This is optional and I didn’t chart it because it was going to make life too complicated!

September 25, 2011

In the style of Bridget Jones

Knitting progress, hence publication of new patterns, delayed by unpleasant bout of the flu, likely brought on by combination of working too hard and not enough sleep. Lemsip consumption up by 800% in two days. Boyfriend helping somewhat, having provided lemsips and chicken soup. Normal progress to be resumed soon.

September 23, 2011

An autumn wedding present

I remember musing a few weeks ago about a particularly intense project I was working on, that was secret because it was a present for someone. Well, it was finished – albeit at the 11th hour (literally, 11pm the day before the wedding) and mostly knit on the East Coast Main Line en route to my boyfriend’s house, for his sister’s wedding.

Congratulations and thank you both for a wonderful day. I made this for you – although I feel one of you will get more use out of this than the other.

Simon and Christina – 17th September 2011

Pattern: Baltic Blossoms by Evelyn A. Clarke

Yarn: 1 ball of pure Orkney Angora 4ply in “Snow White”, purchased at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace.

September 15, 2011

A Yarn

I have occasionally mentioned that I’m not an entirely solitary knitter. In fact, I have a craft club, and an awesome one at that. They haven’t even kicked me out for changing jobs.

A couple of weeks ago (the Friday before Wednesday the 23rd, to be precise) I met up with a co-crafter for a few too many drinks and he reminded me that another of our craft buddies was going on maternity leave, and the following Wednesday would be her last craft club.

I had always planned to knit her something for the baby – in fact, I knew exactly what I wanted to knit – but as of that Friday night, it was just a collar stuffed under the sofa somewhere. But I’m not afraid of a challenge, and I secretly think I knit faster than I actually do, so undaunted by words like “3ply”, “lace” and “heirloom knitting”, I decided to plough headfirst into Lucille by Courtney Kelley, and knit like a woman possessed.

By the end of Friday night, I managed somehow to finish the yoke, which is all the more surprising considering how drunk I was. Saturday, I think I had split the arm holes. By Sunday, I was here:

So not bad progress – I was just about on track. But on Monday …

Well, that’s where things got a bit messy at work. I had to work late every night that week and in the end I missed craft club all together because my brain was so frazzled I thought it was cancelled and just didn’t show up. I’m not proud.

But there’s a happy ending to this story. Things calmed down at the end of the week, and by the Friday, I was here: (not sure why I decided to just stick a sleeve on there, I think I was a bit bored of endless purl rows)

Then Saturday, I was here: (and I’d clearly found time to paint my nails)

Then here:

And on Sunday, it blocked. I forgot to mention, on Saturday I blogged about it.

On the following Thursday, I took a trip up to North London on the strict condition that nobody went into labour anywhere near me, and delivered the present. I hope she likes it.

Excuse the crappy photo, but I took this at work using a colleague’s blackberry. It’s lucky I even managed to retrieve the photo because when I tried to email it to myself I ended up taking about six photos of my own feet. Sorry to the girl who has a blackberry full of pictures of my feet, but I hope you understand.

September 1, 2011

A quick plug…

My housemate is a graphic artist, and he’s designed this amazing poster for the English National Ballet’s My First Sleeping Beauty.

There are two good reasons to vote for it. 1) It’s the best poster by a long way. 2) If he wins, he gets two tickets to the ballet, and that means he has to go to a ballet especially for little girls. Which I think would be hilarious.

Vote here!

And here it is in all its glory.

August 27, 2011

The void

I’ve just finished knitting something.

Something I’ve been meaning to knit for ages.

Something for a friend, and I can’t say any more than that (except all will be revealed, and it came out a bit bigger than I expected).

This was an intense project, and one that I had started this a few times before. First I tried it on the recommended needle size, and it came out chokingly small. Then I made two thirds of a completely different pattern before I realised it was coming out huge. And finally, I cast on on 3mm needles, and then I went on holiday and forgot about it.

Last week, I found out that this person was expecting it on Wednesday, so I got to work. Eight hours knitting on Saturday, five on Sunday. Two on Monday. I was all set to be ready for Wednesday but work got in the way. I started a new job recently and it is stressing me out like you would not believe and so on Tuesday I went out for dinner, and on Wednesday we watched a film and shared some wine and not a whole lot of knitting happened.

I finished it this morning (Saturday) and it’s blocking. This has been one of the most intense knits I’ve ever completed, matched only by the intensity of my job at the moment. I can’t wait to share it with you – but first, I have to share it with the person it was made for. But now I have this weird gap – I’m not knitting something – how can I not have a project on the go – and I’m browsing ravelry desperately trying to find the right thing to start on. And I think I’ve found it.

Another gift for someone – so you’ll just have to wait and see.

August 27, 2011

Ginger Leaves

I feel like I bought this pattern about 100 years ago. It was part of my pledge to support more independent designers, and also to get into knitting lace in a slightly bigger way. I liked the organic shape of it, the fact that it wasn’t huge, wasn’t expensive (hey, I gotta eat too) and knit in 4ply, so would be relatively quick.

I actually picked it up and started knitting about two months ago, and I was getting on well – but then my pattern went missing during a living room tidy up and with it the notes of where I was. And I was having my doubts about the yarn choice and did I really need another green shawl and do I like the way lace looks in 4ply?

Anyway, you may have guessed from the photos below that there’s a happy ending to this story – a few weeks later at my craft club, I spent a bit of time figuring out where I was and got back on the wagon. About a week later, it was finished!

Here it is pre-blocking (I do enjoy these before and after pics – it’s like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly).

And here are a few after shots. I really enjoyed the way the pattern just flowed into the different sections – very organic. All in all, a good knit. I’m still not 100% convinced by my yarn choice – I feel like I ought to have picked something a little bit fuzzier and less tightly plied – but all things considered, I’m going to call it a success.