Wednesday, May 24, 2006


(the tortoise from the Just So Stories, in case you were wondering)

Yup, that's me.

I have been working on a dressy jumper for quite a while now. It was started some time ago, at least on paper, but due to the requirements of Pub Knitting it has been rather well-and-truly stalled.

The plan is to knit Melissa, by Hillary Rohde (no, I'd never heard of her either and this might or might not be her company) from an old Jaeger Pattern Magazine. It's JM06 published in 2002, so not ancient, but sadly no longer extant either.

Melissa from Jaeger

Sadly for me, Jaeger's sizing doesn't quite stretch to mine, particularly in the arm region. I need an absolute minimum of 36cm around the upper arm if I'm to get any blood to my fingers, and the largest size (112cm bust, to fit a 107cm bust) has an upper arm circumference of 30cm less your seams when you work out the gauge.

Ouch indeed.

So, I needed to find a way to add about 10cm of stitches in the length of a sleeve, and then get rid of them in such a way that the sleeve cap would still fit.

I did it
Or at any rate, I think I've done it.
Odessa sleeves

I'm working in Jaeger Odessa, rather than the Trinity DK specified, and getting my almost invariant gauge of 22 x 28 using 4mm needles. Jaeger patterns all seem to get 22 x 30 with DK, so there was a little recalculation involved there as well.

I'll try and scan my working sheet and post it some time in the future, just in case someone else is having similar problems. Grumperina has the opposite issue with written patterns - batwing sleeves appear to be her pet hate....

Two potential bar staff who were due to come for interview this evening phoned about 15 minutes before the start time to cancel. "Something had come up."


Thursday, May 18, 2006


I was in Edinburgh on Monday (in the rain of course) trying to get my haircut fixed. I had suspected, but still wasn't overly happy to have it confirmed, that the local sheep shearers, sorry, hairdressers had made a complete hash of it. £50 later, and with a small improvement in matters, I'm left with the injunction not to look in a mirror for two months, and then go back to see what can be done to salvage things.

To console myself, I popped into John Lewis to have a look at pattern books and yarn. I was sorely tempted by one of the RYC (Rowan Yarn Classics) books, but as the patterns stopped at 40", and I'm the wrong side of 42", I resisted. Realistically, I don't have the time to completely rework a pattern to fit me at the moment.

I also resisted this:
Kidsilk Spray
Yes, that's right, £7.25 for a single ball of slightly ombre yarn.

Now, I'm more than willing to pay for quality materials, and I do have half-a-dozen balls of Kidsilk Haze in a bag along with the Summer in Kansas shawl pattern I bought about five years ago, but....

I didn't see any Kidsilk Night, which is supposed to be truly beautiful - which is probably just as well given the state of my bank balance just now.

I think I'll stick to Capricorn Mohair for now. Their 4-ply brushed mohair may not be Kidsilk, but the colours are wonderful, and it's half the price!
Capricorn Mohair

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

So how would you like...

a sparkle ceiling in the front hall? That was the electrician asking, and me screaming and running away.

Otherwise, the work on the hotel is proceding at a snail's pace, with interesting disasters being found on a fairly regular basis. I'm not going to talk about it, just in case the plaster which appears to be holding everything together gets tired and decides to fall off.

Thanks to Ted and Wendy, it seems that feather and fan doesn't bias. I still think it should, but apparently it doesn't, and there's an end to it.

I've been working with a very old lace pattern which I charted out some time ago.
lace instructions = lace

I really like the geometric effect, and am playing with a few ideas in terms of actual garment knitting. Playing is all that's likely to happen at the moment, but it's good for the brain to have something to chew on.

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Yarn: King Cole Magnum Chunky in colour 210 (25% wool, 75% acrylic) - 2 x 100g balls.
Needles: 8mm straights (random plastic from the collection)
Other info: 63 stitches (5 pattern repeats) with a slipped selvedge, and pressed at 'cotton' with steam using a linen press cloth to open up the lace
Grumps: As I've discovered before, this yarn bleeds. A lot. And that rather puts paid to using it anywhere it's likely to get wet. So my plan of using this test square as a baby blanket (it's about 65cm square) is on hold.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


or rather, the lack thereof.

Based on the fact that I've had no money coming in since my last payday in January 2005, I've decided that knitting will be from stash for the forseeable. I've got my eye on an old P&B pattern for a lacey dress for a toddler, not because there is any appropriate toddler to knit it for, but because I am puzzled.

The dress is in a version of feather and fan, with a lacey rib bodice and sleeves. It's worked in pieces, as usual, and I started to wonder if I could work it in the round, at least to the start of the bodice section. Then I started to ponder the wisdom of working what is basically a series of unidirectional decreases on a tube - won't it bias?

The pattern as written is a two-row repeat:
Row 1:[3(k1, yo); 6k2tog; 3(k1, yo)]k1 and repeat to end
Row 2:purl to end

So, you end up with a charted pattern which looks something like this:
| O | O | O / / / / / / O | O | O |
| O | O | O / / / / / / O | O | O |
| O | O | O / / / / / / O | O | O |
| O | O | O / / / / / / O | O | O |

So, why doesn't it appear to bias when I knit it? Or does it, and I just need to work a bigger sample?

I'd assumed that it would bias slightly even worked flat, as the decreases are all going one way, but when I worked several balanced variations I can't see much difference at all between them at the original above. They're blocking right now (as in, I washed them and they need to dry before I can photograph them) but I'm definitely puzzled.

What am I missing?

I know that Wendy has been working a different version of feather and fan on her socks recently, so I might pop over there and ask for advice....

Saturday, May 13, 2006

So so close.

Gretna, a tiny town with official population 3000 (that's smaller than Jedburgh!) sent 12 000 fans to Hampden in Glasgow today. The occasion was the Scottish Cup Final, where they were due to meet the team which came second in the Scottish Premier League (that's the second-best team in Scotland) - Hearts.

The game went to penalties!

Gretna, sadly, lost. But there's no shame in that, considering how they played, and I have it on good authority that they were planning a party no matter what. If Jean is a Jambo fan, I hope she's celebrating tonight as well.

The only people I feel sorry for are the Gretna police: they were drafted in to make sure that burglers didn't have a field day when the entire town was deserted!

It was great to be in the pub, watching the English FA cup final on one TV, and the Scottish Cup final on the other, as both went to penalties within minutes of each other. Definitely an afternoon to remember.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Seeing double

regia socks
The socks are done. Not washed yet, but done, and worn, and I'm almost completely happy with them. I've managed a pair of socks out of one ball of Regia miniringel sock yarn, and about half of a ball of plain black Regia - and for once I've just about got perfectly identical twins.

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Needles: 2mm Inox double-pointed (came in a set of 5, but I'm not fussy about that)
yarn: Regia mini ringel (I think the colour was called Blue Sea) bought many years ago from Opitec, and black Regia bought last year from Fankle in Troon.
Pattern: Shapely secrets by Dawn Adcock, from the Autumn 2003 issue of Heels and Toes Gazette

I worked at a slightly tighter tension than that given (33 stitches x 50 rows to 10 cm) to give me a snugly fitting sock.
I also worked multiples of 8 rows rather than 10 rows in the early ribbing to give me a shorter sock, and only worked 8 rows before starting the extended heel shaping instead of the given 20. I worked a lot fewer rows after the gusset decreases as I have very short feet to give me only 76 rows from heel flap pick-up to the start of the toe shaping.
I worked my own version of what I think must be a star toe: 5 decrease points decreasing every other round until just over half the stitches have been decreased away, then every row until 5 stitches are left.

The socks fit very well indeed, although I've not actually tried walking around in shoes with them on. It's been far too hot for woolly socks. The extended heel shaping (closeup below) does as promised and reduces the bagginess which can form around the ankle on stocking-stitch socks.

extended heel shaping

Sadly for me, it also makes it very difficult to get the dratted things on. I have what must be a high instep, and the distance from heel to front-of-ankle must be larger than the designer had allowed for. I can't just pull them on, but must wriggle them over my heel. I'm not sure if the good fit can be seen in the picture below, but even though my foot is at an angle, there is very little excess fabric around the ankle.


The pair I knitted for my mother has yet to arrive (it was sent surface mail), so I'm hoping that she won't have the same trouble putting hers on....

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Spring Greens

new leaves on the copper beech hedge

I really like the effect as the new leaves on the copper beech hedges start to change to their true colour as spring moves on.

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Knitting has been progressing, albeit slowly. This weekend was the Jed Sevens rugby tournament, which is our busiest night of the year, and we've both been trying to get caught up with ourselves since then. Socks have become my pub knitting for the moment, which means they're getting done, and nothing much else is - we're very short-staffed just now. Hopefully we'll find the right person or people to take on in the pub soon, but I'd rather spend 12 hours standing behind the bar than employ the wrong person.

Here's the progress on the socks as of last night:
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Since then I've finished the toe (I tried my own version of a round toe and will be trying it on this evening) and am working on the toe of the second sock. I was worried about running out of the stripey yarn (I only had one ball) so I worked the socks in tandem.

Not much achieved today otherwise: I was at the funeral of one of my ex-staff this morning, and haven't really felt like doing much since. He was 5 days younger than my sister....

Thursday, May 04, 2006


John is back from his trip away, and I have caught up on my sleep.

I've been thoroughly distracted by the lace symposium currently being held by the KBTH group, and by some truly gorgeous weather.

Pictures tomorrow, I hope - I'm off to sit outside again and soak up some UV.

Monday, May 01, 2006

On science and scepticism

This article at the BBC gives a very good summary of the thinking behind my refusal to debate the merits of any religious explanation of the universe as opposed to a scientific one.

In religion, any single positive correlation can be taken as proof that the entire story is correct. Go on, click here and see for yourself (warning, sense of humour required).

In science, a single negative result can be enough to send an established theory out on its ear.

Important: I am not rubbishing anyone's faith. I simply would like more people to realise that attempting to explain the details of one by using the other is about as sensible as multiplying apples by oranges. The sums don't add up!

Cheviots and cheviots
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Well, they're probably not cheviots, but some sort of cross-breed sheep, but anyway....