15 September 2007

place holder

Apologies, dear readers, if there are any of you still out there. I should have done this earlier, but summer happened rather fast.

I am thirteen days off handing in my thesis, at which point a slightly more regular service will be resumed. See you in October!

12 May 2007

bothar raglan

As promised, the finished Raglan Road:

raglan road

That's my own pattern, knitted in Sirdar Indigo Pure Cotton Denim DK on 4mms. I had 500g, and I've one full ball and a few bits and pieces left.

And I love it! It's easy and sexy and soft, the perfect long-sleeves for summer. As soon as it warms back up again, I'll wear it tied loosely over waistless dresses. And I'm going to take it with me in August when we go to Portugal to stay with my girlfriend's cousin: I'll shove it in my bag when I'm wearing sandals and a long patterned maxi-dress, and then pull it on an hour or so after sunset, as we sit out drinking local wine and listening to the crickets and talking rubbish. The indigo dye is also supposed to face and change as it gets washed, so the lace pattern will become more pronounced.

Definitely a success!

10 May 2007

progress report

So, Raglan Road is finished, and Josephina is begun.

Raglan Road took longer than it really ought to have done, because I kept changing my mind about how to do it. First of all, because I wanted to seam as little as possible, I knitted a flat, single-piece body, and two sleeves in the round:

raglan road part one, blocking

But then I decided that I didn't even want to do that much seamer, ripped it back to the beginning of the raglan shaping - keeping twelve stitches from each sleeve and each side of the body live - and started knitting the yoke all in one:

raglan road reknit

Shortly after I took that photo, I realised that I'd actually got one arm slightly closer to the front than the other, so I ripped back down to the sleeve and body join again, and reknitted. This time it stuck! I finished the underarms by putting the 24 stitches from the body and the sleeve alternately and casting them off, and did a plain cast off around the back of the neck. And here she blocks:

raglan road, final blocking

And ooh, let's have a close up of that lace:

I've also knitted a long i-cord and threaded it through the holes just above the end of the lace pattern, and it is actually totally perfect. Pictures of the garment being modelled will follow, when my glitzing girl comes back from Germany and takes them.

All I need now is for the warm weather to come back.


Meanwhile, I've made a start on Josephina:


And - well, what do you think? That's the "skirt" part, which will fall from just under the bust to the top of the hips, and has a short row every two rows, so it's double the width at the bottom that it is at the top. The mercerised cotton has brilliant stitch definition ... which is not actually a good thing, because it makes it extraordinarily difficult to get the ends of the short rows to blend in. I haven't decided whether the garter stitch side or the stocking stitch side is the right side yet, but it's a problem on either. There's always a gap or a knot, no matter how I do it or how much I fiddle with it.

I'm going to persevere with it - that's on 2.5mm Addi turbos, but it's knitting up faster than you'd expect - but I have a sneaky suspicion that this would actually work much better in a wool, or a wool blend. Perhaps I will end up re-making it as a winter top, not a summer one?

21 April 2007


Not much to report on the knitting front, friends - I have about six inches left of the second sleeve to do on raglan road, and then it will just need blocking and sewing up. My thesis writing schedule is having a detrimental effect of my knitting, and no noticeable effect on my thesis. Oh well! Onwards and upwards.

But in the midst of this soulless and lonely work, something bright and cheerful arrived on my doorstep: the yarn for josephina! Such are my powers of indecision that I ended up buying both the Garden Flowers silk/cotton mix and the Empress crochet cotton, on the grounds that I am not, after all, the kind of girl who couldn't possibly find a use for 500g of randomly coloured summer yarn:

600g of Empress Crochet Cotton

375g of Garden Flowers, 70% Silk & 30% Cotton, on 25g spools

Eeeee! So pretty! And also, so utterly tiny: whichever one I use, I will have to double it, which is easy in the case of the Garden Flowers, as I have doubles of all the various colours, but harder in the case of Empress, which will need to be wound onto something else. I think I will look for yarn winders on Ebay.

I am leaning towards Empress for Josephina, and some skinny little cardigan in Garden Flowers, but who can say? Swatches coming right up!

12 April 2007

raglan road

Wandering around Ranelagh and Donnybrook the other evening, we noticed that there were places where the ground was starting to look dry: we've had over a week, I think, of sunny days, and spring is quite definitely in residence. Wool has been put away, and I am dreaming of cotton, linen, viscose and silk. Summer knitting!

I've made a healthy start on the Sirdar Denim cardigan that I mentioned nearly a month ago:

raglan road

The guiding principle of this knit seems to be to avoid seams as far as possible: I've knitted the body in a single piece, and have started one of the sleeves in the round, so the only thing I'll have to sew will be the raglan seams. The lace around the bottom is, er, "borrowed" from Knitty's Soleil, but on a 12 stitch repeat rather than a 10 stitch one.

My gauge is all sorts of wonky: I originally knitted this yarn on 3.75mms, I think, and rather tightly. It's now on 4mm Addi Turbos and very loose, but not quite evenly so. I am hoping that blocking it will work the usual miracle, and I'll have a lovely drapey fabric. Fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, I am looking for yarn for my next project, Josephina:


Named because it will (if I can find the yarn) be a top of many colours. At least five, and possibly six or more. The top piece will made the same way as my doomed Cannibal's Sack Sweater Dress, as a top-down raglan. The "skirt" part will be knitted horizontally using short-rows, so it really swings. I'm going to do it in reverse stocking stitch, using nothing bigger than DK, and possibly 4-ply or smaller.

I'm looking for yarn on Texera, which has many some utternly fabulous yarns for wonderful prices. But. The brightest, most beautiful colours (Good Fortune, Double Top) come in 250g cones and cost £7.20 each, which would mean that I would only be able to do it in two colours. Kilnsey (DK), Monaco (Aran) and Provence (DK) are all cheaper, but the colours just aren't as brilliant.

The best bet might be Garden Flower Silk (70% silk, 30% cotton), but it's tiny, tiny yarn - 1000m to 100g, where DK is around 160m and 4-ply is 340m. On the other hand, if it comes in 25g spools, then I can hold two or even three strands together. Or there's Empress, which is 3ply. What do do, what to do?

03 April 2007


Those of you who follow my lovely glitzing girl's journal will know that she is currently working in the North, and we are a sad bi-national household. This week and next, however, are her vacation, so she is down in Dublin for two whole weeks, and O, it's so great. Our living room on Saturday night was pretty much a perfect image of what our lives are like together:

living one, two, three

That's us, look! Three lots of knitting (one on needles, one blocking, one semi-abandoned), a bottle of wine (empty), a packet of biscuits (empty), a vase of flowers (bought for me), two Macs (overused), many newspapers (mostly read), many mobiles (two UK, two Irish, two German if they happened to be around) and various bags and bits of outerwear. The flat is on the market at the moment, so it is all extremely superficial mess: in fact, as soon as I have posted I should tidy a bit. But that's our life together, right there. Isn't it brilliant?


The blocking on the gold sofa is the fairy knitting, which I haven't finished but decided on a (slightly drunken) whim to block anyway. Since last I posted, I have no new projects of which to boast, but the fairy knitting goes from strength to strength. I've finished shaping the armholes, and have only about four or five repeats of the pattern to do before I can shape the back of the neck and shoulders. However, the blocking has revealed a TRAGEDY:

fairy tragedy!

Somewhere over the past eight months that I've been knitting, I've completely changed my gauge: the back piece that I'm knitting at the moment is much, much looser than the front. The front piece (on the right), has been pinned out very taut and stretched, whilst the back (on the left) has been blocked very casually, just by smoothing the fabric out. And yet, it is still a good inch and a half taller than the front. Oh dear. Oh dear. The back is much nice fabric, but this means that I will have to knit the front all over again. The completion date goes back another six months.


19 March 2007

cold enough

Hullo Blogspot! Goodness, it's been a while, hasn't it? Sorry for the absence: I left my camera in London at the beginning of February, and have only just got it back.

In the meantime, there's good news and bad news: 7000 words of my thesis and two job interviews - hurray! - but it hasn't left much time for knitting. All I have to show for myself is another four inches of fairy knitting:

Past the waist and onto the increases: another two inches and I'll be making the sleeves! Perhaps by autumn ... ?

The only other thing I've worked on, the cannibal's sack sweater-dress, has come to a sad halt:

cannibal's sack sweater dress

front and back lace details

I still love the idea: the abbreviated raglan sleeves are great, the lace leaves are lovely, the colour matches my green eyeshadow and it's flattering from certain angles. But at that gauge, it's too bulky, and the yarn is too heathery and too busy: it needs to be so much sleeker. All the fashion mags are talking about this season's sack-shaped dresses, but my sack sweater-dress isn't going to see the light of day.

So the poor yarn will be ripped again, perhaps destined for Knitty's French Market bag. If I still fancy a sleeveless, non-sack sweater-dress by the autumn, I'll perhaps try something similar on 4mm needles.

Right now, though, despite the fact that Ireland has chosen to celebrate St Patrick's Day with a new ice-age, my thoughts are turning to summer. My denim Sirdar is probably going to be something like this:

A light, breezy summer cardigan for pulling over cotton dresses. It's based on one I've seen in Benetton, which actually has horizontally knitted sleeves, but I'm not going to bother with that. Lace around the bottom, stocking stitch everywhere else, raglan sleeves, a deep v-neck, and an i-cord drawstring at the waist. Roll on summer!

30 January 2007

on the road

Three things, just before I leave to drive my lovely girl up to Northern Ireland, dear friends: one complaint, one finished object, and one work in progress.

First, just to get it over with, the complaint. I bought 500g of Sirdar Indigo Denim DK at the Knitting and Stitching Show in November, for the much reduced price of €12.99. Score! I have knitted the front and back of a long tunic, but my tension is all wrong and I've gone off the idea anyway. (No doubt you'll hear when I've come up with a new plan: at the moment, I'm tentatively considering a pleated empire-line cardigan like this.) But that is not my complaint, oh no. This is my complaint:

sirdar, you suck

Why yes, that's ten large round pieces of polystyrene, one for each 50g of yarn. Why, Sirdar, why? Most yarn seems to get on perfectly well without it. It's not even one of those things which are dreadful for the environment but have a practical purpose: how can I squash my knitting in my handbag to do on the bus if the yarn comes on a piece of polystyrene the size of a can of baked beans?


Second, the finished object. The beret that I mentioned in my last post has been finished, and it is very cute and silly. Particularly silly, alas, is the very top:

the reason they called it the ... nipple beret

Yes, that's right folks: I knitted a nipple. I meant it to have a little tuft of i-cord on top of it, but I changed needles too late and it came out rather more suggestive than I intended. Oh dear.

Still, it won't stop me wearing the beret:

nipple beret

It's knitted with one 50g skein of the Natural Dye Studio's alpaca/merino sock yarn. It is a made-up garter rib, with decreases made up as I went along and occasional reference to le slouch. As it's sold in pairs, I have another skein, with which I intend to make a skinny garter rib scarf.

Lastly, my work in progress. As I mentioned, I am taking my lovely girl up to Northern Ireland tomorrow, and going to London on Saturday to see some friends. Instead of beginning my chunky cannibal's sweater dress, therefore, I'm reverting to my travel knitting for the next week or so. You know how Travel Scrabble is smaller than normal Scrabble, and Travel Connect 4 smaller than normal Connect 4? Well, my Travel Knitting is similarly diminutive:

diminutive knit

It is knitted in the finest yarn I've ever seen: I don't even know what it's called, but as far as I can work out, it's 1-ply. (Is that lace-weight, or is lace-weight usually 2-ply?) It's pure wool, Russian, and cost me £3.70 for 200g from Ebay. I started designing a fitted lace top to do whenever I ran out of other projects, using the lace patterns from knitting-and.com as a starting point.

The first photo is a close up of the blocked fabric - isn't it gorgeous, though? In the second photo, from left to right, is the finished, blocked front piece, the ongoing back piece on the 2mm circular needles, a biro and a 10-cent piece for scale, and the first 100g ball, of which less than a quarter has been used. 200g was probably unnecessary: I think I'm going to get the whole thing out of that first 100g ball. Since July, I've knitted the front and five inches of the back. I anticipate finishing it some time before the end of 2007, but that might be ambitious - though you never know, I could probably knock two months off the total time by making the sleeves 3/4 instead of 7/8. Either way, I have plenty of time to find the perfect peach satin slip to wear under it.

I bloody hope it fits.

22 January 2007

ghost of knitting future

Thank you for the welcome, lovely people! I hope I live up to your expectations.

Yesterday was the ghost of knitting past, today is the ghost of knitting future. You know that moment when you start sketching or swatching or even just telling someone about The Thing You Are Going To Make Next, and it starts to feel all real? I'm hoping that this post will have that effect.

Project 1: cannibalising the lovely Felinity's first ever sweater, which has been ripped back, rinsed out and is currently drying in a gorgeous mass of just slightly curly bundles.

Cannibalised Big Sack Sweater -> Cannibal's Big Sack Sweater Dress

Plan: a top-down raglan with very short sleeves, lace panels on the front and back, side shaping, and just keep going. With luck (and some decorative yarnovers and big needles), I'll spin the yarn out far enough to make a little mini sweater dress. I can't afford the one I want in Urban Outfitters - and I'm not entirely certain that their morals are all they should be, either - so it's knitted or nothing.

(I feel dreadful about ripping your very first project, Felinity, but I promise to love the sweater dress very very much. You do bind in your ends beautifully, though!)

Project 2: May I recommend The Natural Dye Studio, purveyors of absolutely gorgeous yarns (aw, baby's first plug.) I have a pair of alpaca/merino legwarmers in their "Ocean's Deep" colour scheme, a mermaidy purple and turquoise. They provide the silhouette of slouch boots without the expense, hoorah. I also made my brother a pair of socks in "China" for Christmas, and my mother was (ssh!) supposed to get a pair of lace socks in "Blossom", but I ran out of time. So, instead, she got some Elizabeth Arden 8-hour cream, and I am getting a beret:

Blossoming beret, Natural Dye Studio's Luxury Merino Sock Yarn in Blossom, knitted on 3mms

It is another madey-uppy one, and I am distinctly unconvinced. The fabric, post-increases, is 6 stitches garter stitch per 2 stitches of rib, and O, I don't know. We might end up ripping, I'm afraid. Look how pretty the yarn is, though!

Project 3: involves all sorts of exciting new things like dyeing. I have dyed fabric for sewing with great success, as everyone who's seen my lime-green linen jeans will tell you. (Mind you, there's also the silk crepe dress that I cut out and attempted to dye chocolate brown just before Christmas, still sitting in the corner in a sorry burgundy heap. But we don't need to talk about that.) I have 400g Hermit 100% Wool Shetland 4 Ply, also Ebayed. Alas, for it is muted blue, and I am no more a muted blue sort of person than I am a burgundy one. The plan is to turn it into skeins and stick one end in purple dye, and then, depending on how that works out, consider sticking the other end in some yellow dye. How can this possibly go wrong?

If we survive all that, I'm thinking of a skinny top-down raglan, with narrow cables and 3/4-length sleeves. Possibly even picot edging. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

ghost of knitting past

Hello, and welcome. I'm Ms Bias, recalcitrant PhD student and narcissist. I've been sewing since I was about ten, when my mother and I made a rather lumpy skirt. There was also an ill-advised bikini top that my best friend and I started (but never finished) when we were eleven; a GCSE Textiles project that I never claimed and which is presumably still languishing somewhere in a cupboard in a comprehensive school in Nottinghamshire; and a pair of hand-sewn trousers and a skirt during a particularly time-rich and cash-poor summer in Saxony. In Autumn 1999 I suddenly got proper obsessed, and my collection of fabulous garments, shameful failures, Burda Mode magazines and gorgeous fabrics that I am definitely going to use one day has got bigger and bigger ever since.

My sewing machine has something like 3000km on it, having gone from York to Berlin to Dublin. Did you know you can post sewing machines? In search of a slightly more portable obsession, I picked up a pair of knitting needles, and, after a few false starts, started producing practically wearable garments:

Madey-uppy cardigan and halterneck, half a cotton/linen slubby blend than I picked up at a Berlin flea market, €8 for 300g, and half ggh Scarlet, 100% mercerized cotton.

Unhelpfully for any readers, the vast majority of things I sew or knit are made up. The one time I tried to make someone precisely according to the directions, in the exact same yarn, it came out completely different anyway:

Ribbed Swing Jacket from Debbie Bliss's Tweed Collection, made with approximately 350g of Aran Tweed

My swatching kept coming out enormous, you see, so I eventually knitted it on 3.5mm and 4mm needles instead of 4.5mm and 5mm, and it came out somewhat abbreviated - though I have no idea how abbreviated as Debbie Bliss doesn't believe in schematics. So I ripped the rolled-up sleeves from the bottom to a more happenin' length, and it is wonderfully swingy and warm and vastly more on-trend than it was supposed to be, and I love it to bits.

tomorrow: future plans!