Archive for February, 2010

The value of monogamy?

One of the forums I belong to on Ravelry is called Shop the Stash.  Ostensibly the mission of the group is to knit from stash this year if and when possible, and not to buy any more stash yarn. Of course, the reality is that it is filled with enablers who point you towards the latest co-op, yarn club, indie dyers with stockings and people having destashes – oh, and don’t forget the E-Bay yarn bargains.  One lady has managed to buy more than 7kg more yarn already this year – and that’s with her making an effort to be good!

Anyway, I digress…  They have been chosing a theme for each month to challenge you to work with your stashed yarns. In January is was an attempt to cast on as many projects as you could – finishing them was optional.  February was  a combo month – for finishing up WIPs, knitting with some lovely yarn you are scared to use, and to knit something for yourself. I didn’t really pay terribly much attention to either theme in that I tend to let my knitting be dictated largely by what I *feel* like knitting.  But I couldn’t help but pay attention when they started thinking up themes for March.

I’m not sure what it is about the letter “M” that inspired alliterative themes, but the two that have been mentioned are “Monogamous March” and “Malabrigo March”.  The idea behind Malabrigo March would be to knit up all your stash of Malabrigo, which is not something I want to do – I bought it to stash, as it is the kind of yarn I *want* to find when I open up my stash. I’d far rather find projects for a lot of other yarn before I deliberately knit this up without the perfect project or reason. But “Monogamous March”?? That one really got me thinking. Would I benefit from working on just one project at a time? Or would it detract from my knitting? I think I’m going to give this one the slip too – and I’ll tell you why.

Do you remember way back in November I cast on for a lace weight Whisper cardigan?  It has been quietly progressing in fits and starts since then. It travelled with me to the south over Christmas and by the end of the holiday the sleeve portion was complete. It sat awaiting me to pick up the stitches for the 1×1 rib section until last Sunday. And then I finally did it, being glad I was making a smaller size than last time, as knitting 1×1 rib in lace weight yarn for 3 inches seems to take forever for some reason.  I finished the ribbing on Thursday. 

In the meantime, when I needed a break from knitting this, I knit up another tester for Tikki’s new vest pattern.

Excuse the not-so-flattering pic of a post-bath Miss 1.  She loved the vest so much when I took it off her to put on her PJ top, she stole it, ran to the corner of the room, and tried to put it back on. She ended up wearing it to bed – I’m hardly going to complain if she likes my knitting!  The fit of this vest is much better than the first attempt – it is so cute, and it was nice to knit up all the odds and ends I had of this colour of Anchor Magicline – I think this size (9 months width, 12 months length) used about120g.

But when I think about monogamy, I realise that when I was knitting this, I don’t think I would have been knitting on my cardigan. I just needed a break from teeny needles and 2 ply yarn. I wanted something plain and easy. Something that actually made visible progress as opposed to the endless rounds of rib that never seemed to grow.  And that’s where I think that there is real value in having a couple of projects on the needles at once. When one project is misbehaving, or boring, to too difficult to work on because you are in company or a small person has stolen your chart to practise their drawing on, you can pick up the other one. When 2 ply seems to drive you mad, there’s always 4 ply, or 10 ply, or 12 ply to pick up and work on. 

You might laugh and say I’m justifying myself – but when I stopped to think about it, I realised that there just might be method in my madness after all.


Summer Sock Club

 I was really good this year, and didn’t sign up for the Vintage Purls Summer Sock club. Oh, but I sooo had to sign up for the Needlefood club! I hadn’t heard about sign up for the last couple of clubs but managed to hear about this one in advance – a specific time was announced, and I (absolutely co-incidentally, I swear) happened to check that day about the right time and secured myself a slot.  I hadn’t purchased off Michelle at Needlefood before, but I got a sample from her in the recent Blendy’s Box, and got a lovely skein for Christmas too.  But I had heard good things, so I thought it was worth a punt.

From what I have seen of the website, the sock yarn Needlefood does comes in semi-solids or variegated yarns. I do have a preference for semi-solids, and hope that we get one in one of the parcels. However, I do love this cute colourway called “There’s Flowers in my Salad”.  It has a lovely mix of greens, pinks, some slightly orange tones and browns.

There are no patterns included in the package, so it’s up to me to decide what to knit with this yarn (or if I just stash it for a while, which I am thinking of for now). 

There are, however, lots of lovely goodies in the package – an emery board and holder, some hand cream, edible goodies, and a lovely set of stitch markers and a big ring to hold them – it is a lovely parcel and was a delight to receive.

Speaking of delightful, I finally took piccies of the yarn I got in our swap last week.

Lizzie used food colouring to dye this – I think she said she did the bright colours first and then overdyed with black – quite an extraordinarily clever colourway.  This is 100g of hand dyed yarn on a Vintage Purls sock yarn base. Delicious!

By popular demand- uncharts

Having had a few questions here and on Ravelry about the unchart that I used for my shawl, I thought I’d give you a sneak peak – here’s a look at a couple of pages of the pattern.

You can see each row is clearly marked. The first bit in the blue boxes is the edging. The white boxes are what follows each row up until the repeat starts.  In the pink boxes is the repeat for the first half of the shawl, and the centre white boxes are non-repeated. In bold the centre stitches are marked so that you can clearly see this emerge on the shawl. The layout is reversed for the second half of the shawl’s row. 

Cool eh! 

In the boxes it has marked what you do – so unlike a chart there is no counting of boxes. If you knit 5 stitches before purling one, one box will say k5, the next on p1.  Abbreviations such as kk2 and k2tog are written out, so there is no scrambling for the chart key to work out which one the designer means when you get to a similar looking symbol.

This is such a seriously cool idea – it made things much quicker. I am not scared of charts, but I am aware that they do take a little more effort to read than an unchart – this is such a great way to approach a more complex pattern – the whole thing made so much more sense to me this way.

If you would like to check out the unchart, the link is here.

FO: Nightsongs Shawl

Now that I am back at work, it seems like I have a different set of clothing requirements – and therefore different knitting requirements. It is supposedly summer here at the moment. Traditionally February is the hottest month where I live, and in my old classroom it gets extremely hot in summer, and very cold in winter. My new classroom is much more temperate thank goodness (although a few students have compared its size to that of a cupboard), and I have had a chance to wear my wee shawlettes already on colder days. But I wanted something a bit more substantial, and fast. Enter some beautiful DK yarn that has been in my stash for over 2 years awaiting the right project.

This particular yarn is special to me  – it was a gift from a friend who used to live close by and moved out of town. It was a Christmas gift, and as it was for *me* I really wanted to make myself something out of it, but I couldnt’ find the right project. Well, a DK weight verison of Gail seems to be just the thing – I used all but a few grams of the 200g skein.  The yarn is a NZ yarn from Touch Yarns, and I used the creatively named colour ‘661’. It is so supremely soft and delicious, this will be gorgeously comfortable to wrap myself in.

Now, a quick word about this pattern – Gail is apparently also known as Nightsongs – I’d love to know the story behind the two names… but I digress… The pattern page on Ravelry for Gail is interesting reading – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a designer attack her knitting public on a pattern page before. It seems that knitters are less than impressed with the presentation of the pattern, it appears hard to read or understand perhaps. Either way, it didn’t bother me as I didn’t use the pattern. Not even once.  Instead of the charted lace pattern, I used an ‘unchart’, a concept I hadn’t heard of before, but it is a very effective way of communicating a lace pattern and where the repeats are, a mixture of chart – in terms of layout, and written form – in that it does not use symbols but written instructions within a grid.

I knit 5 repeats of the pattern. It seemed at times it went very fast, other nights I only managed 4 to 6 rows in an evening. I did a fair bit of ripping back, and actually used lifelifes for the first time ever – after I needed them of course, so I didn’t end up using the ones I inserted. However, the end result is a very pretty shawl that is very wearable and while it isn’t mistake free (darn it finding errors when you are rows and rows past them!), I am fairly sure there are just the two mistakes, and unless the kids at school are more into detail than they appear, I think I will likely be the only one to notice!

I do think I will block it again before wearing it though – the top is turning over in the pictures, which means it will do it when I wear it too – and while I can’t see it, it will definitely bother me!

Dolce Socks for kids


My first pay pattern was released yesterday on Ravelry 🙂 It is a baby, toddler and child size version of the Dolce sock pattern.

After a month or so with my testers, I was nearly ready to release the pattern when I unexpectedly went back to work. However, the planets finally all aligned (or whatever…) and I got all the right things on Ravelry done to organise selling patterns.

The photo above is a simply beautiful shot from one of my testers, whose children obviously are more obliging than mine when it comes to foot modelling!  I have knit four pairs of the socks, and – honestly – getting modelled shots is nigh on impossible!

Yep, photo calls are hard things!

So, I have been knitting, even if I haven’t been sharing it all with you.

And I have to say, it’s been great to be able to use up some ends of balls, and the final pair used up the wee sample of Merino/Silk blend I got in my Blendy’s box. It is from Grrrlshaped yarns, and it totally divine. The colourway does not suit the pattern at all – something I knew in advance, but I was desperate to knit it up!!  I even had a wee bit left over, I think this pair only took 14grams of yarn all up!

In order to accomodate the pay pattern on my blog, I’ve created a new page for my patterns on my blog – you can click from there to Ravelry to buy it. I have also made  a PDF of the Dolce sock pattern for adults and will be adding the other patterns as I get time over the next week or so. 

So, a huge thank you to my test knitters – your ideas and input and encouragement were valuable. Without them, the largest size would not have been written either – so those knitting for 4-6 year olds have them to thank for that 🙂

A perfect evening



The ingredients? Take a bunch of talented knitters, spinners, dyers and crafters, such as these…

(plus a few more who piked left before the picture was taken)

Add a delicious shared dinner complete with options for those on special diets – yup, gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and those on Weight Watchers all had something to eat…

And some mysterious parcels

Mix all together with a number draw to see who gets which parcel – drawn out of a project bag of course… And let the gifting begin!

Yes, it was yarn swap time again with our lovely local knitting girls (affectionately termed the Naki Knitting Nutters by some…). We had decided on a swap with a difference this time. Instead of being given a person to make a parcel for, we each chose to dye in either 4ply sock yarn or DK weight, and have  a mystery swap within that group. Thus the numbering of parcels and a draw for them. 

All the swaps were based around some words that we randomly drew late last year.  Each person was given three words to base their swap around – they could use one, two or all three. Some got words that were impossible to relate to one another. Others, like me, totally forgot what one of theirs was and based it on the ones they could remember (oops!).  I can’t remember them all though.

So, an idea of the lovely yarn parcels and goodies for you.

8 ply first…

Handspun yarn, flowers

And the sock yarns

Enchanted Garden

Zen Garden

Bushwalk, Butterflies



This final one is what I gifted my swappee minus a wee blue dishcloth.  I dyed up 100g of Vintage Purls sock yarn with a mix of Procion and acid dyes using my favourite kettle  dye technique.

In all the excitement of the evening I forgot to take a picture of what I recieved – I’ll take a picture later when the kids aren’t around trying to ‘help’ me 🙂  There was a huge selection of differnent colours, techniques and interpretations. Such a fun evening 🙂

FO: Angee Socks


The socks of temptation are done! You might remember I was *meant* to be knitting my giveaway socks, but instead I heard the siren song  of a skein of yarn from my stash. It was begging to be knit up into these lovely socks – Angee from Cookie A’s book Sock Innovations.  I loved the socks in the book so much I bought the exact same colourway to knit these in, and I am so glad I did. I absolutely love the yarn, Colinette Jitterbug in Ginger Cinnabar. Such a bright, cheerful colour, beautiful semi-solid colourway, a true delight to knit withand it will be lovely to wear. I usually knit sock yarn with a nylon content, so I am not sure how well they will wear long-term. That said, once you have more than 10 handknit pairs of socks, it’s not like they each pair will be much wear overall. Plus, I’ll need to learn how to darn socks properly eventually!

The pattern was a joy to knit – I did have to follow the chart most of the time, but it was logical and well written. Having knit a couple of patterns from the book thus far, I would have to totally recommend it. The FO’s I see on Ravelry from the book are testament to the range of interesting and challenging patterns there, some are crazy hard, some are very accessible.  This pattern is written from the top down, and I enjoyed the standard construction with slip stitch heel and gusset – there was enough going on in the pattern to keep me interested without making these in a funky way.

I was excited to see I *do* have room for a pair of handknit socks under my new shoes too 🙂

So, one less skein of yarn in the bin, and one more pair of socks in the drawer. Love, love, love these!

February 2010
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