Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mittens finale

This is what 400 gm of Aran yarn looks like translated into 11 pairs of mittens. I got to six and considered moving on, but then I thought I would just see how many pairs I could get out of the ball. That's £2.50 worth of yarn.

Why was this project so compelling? Well, the pattern by Elizabeth Durand was both convincing and easy to memorise. I converted it to two needles as I don't have four needles that size.

Then, it was really quick to complete a pair - one pair I knocked up while chatting to a friend as she got ready to leave after a short stay. I was also intrigued at the idea of school age children who would actually wear hand-knitted items. The average Braintree child would freeze to death rather than wear something not made by Nike.

This is my piece de resistance, the only pair which demanded any thought. Basically it's a motif from Alice St*rmore's book "Fishermen's Swe*ters", just placed on the back of the mitt, and fancy cabled ribs. I can't decide whether the effect is unbalanced and clumsy, or unusual and appealing. It was certainly a clever technique for closing the motif at the top.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Rochester Mittens

Six pairs of mittens for a charity appeal based in Rochester, N.Y.

I was inspired to knit these by two things. One, a comment on my blog by a librarian in Rochester blogging as Just Another Raveler. She went on to post a wonderful image of blue hostas just for me. I'm a sucker for the enthusiastic response, which seems to me more American than British.

Secondly, the fact that I had bought a giant ball of blue wool from the stock of a wool shop which Kerrie and her partner at Hipknits had bought in Scotland and shipped down. I picked this up really cheaply. It's only 20% wool but the rest is Courtelle and it certainly has a lovely handle.

I was reminded, as I knit the pair with the star design from Sheila Mcgregor's Fair Isle knitting patterns book, just how motivating it is to knit simple geometric designs.

The story on the appeal references the work of one Mrs Nellis in 1933 organising a drive for knitted clothes in Rochester. I am surprised that there is the same need in 2008, but it appears to be so.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


This is Ribbons by Sasha Kagan. It's in Jand S jumperweight, a yarn which holds layers of memories for me.

I first met it in Whitby, in a shop called "The Shepherd's Purse". I'll never forget the impact of seeing, in effect, the whole shade card range in skeins hanging from a line across the shop. On that occasion, I bought navy and three shades of mauve for a a striped sweater. That would have been in the early 80s.

Sasha Kagan's book was published in 84 and I must have bought it soon after. The yarn for this was bought in the now defunct but much mentioned "Art Needlework Industries" shop in Oxford, again a treaure house of colour and texture.

Sadly, when I visited the actual premises of J and S in Lerwick I was very disappointed. This was in 2000, so it may have changed since. It was as if Kaffe had never existed; in fact, the view seemed to be that his technique, presumably of darning in the ends, was not up to snuff. But what of his technique of using colour in surprising and pleasing ways? The whole place seemed to be stuck somewhere about 1958. Very sad.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Yesterday, to a reunion of old colleagues from thirty years ago, at the home of a very dear friend. Sunshine and showers, walks in woodland, lively conversation and delicious food - the ideal summer Saturday.

This little cardigan is from Sasha Kagan's book, "The Sasha Kagan Sweater Book" published in 1984. It was fun to knit because it had white mohair bands and silver lurex stripes behind the flowers.

I was amazed to find that my friend, who is modelling it here, had kept it stored over several house moves. I don't think I would still fit into items I wore in 1984. Only the pleated sleeve caps really reveal its vintage, and the mohair bands have felted a little. However, the colours retain their freshness and the Jand S jumper weight yarn has held up very well.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wrapped in Care 2

Another shawl in this periwinkle yarn for the Wrapped in Care programme. This one is the simplest triangle with some YOs added for interest. It was a pleasure to knit, although it takes some time to achieve an appropriate width at the top. I'm using straight needles so it is very bunched up by that point. Casting off is a revelation.

Last weekend, I compared notes with my work mates on plans for Saturday. The highlight of my day was to be collecting a load of well-rotted FYM from a colleague's field where she keeps horses. Even I thought it sounded downbeat as a leisure activity.

Saturday dawned to quite heavy rain, but it faired up enough to allow us to set out. In heavy drizzle, we clambered acroos the midden to reach the well-rotted sector, ankle deep in horse-muck. Twelve bags later, we drove off, filthy and sweating, but feeling that we had got a treasure.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wrapped in Care

A simple shawl for the charity Wrapped in Care which provides shawls for mothers.

It's a lovely colour: periwinkle, my favourite after a deep peacock green. What's more, the project specified easy care yarn, and this is 100% acrylic at £1 per 100 grams.

The pattern is Matilda, free on Kate Blackburn's site. Very easy to knit, once I had got over a major misreading of the first line and decided to fare forward hopefully, essentially knitting half a shawl, upside down. I don't think you would be able to tell.