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!