Saturday, December 24, 2016

Finlaggan mittens

Ten pairs of mittens now for Knit for Peace.  I'm trying to use up some of the vast hoard of oddments which I have in stock.

This is my latest effort.  I have subscribed to Kate Davies' "Inspired by Islay" Club, the notion being that each week a pattern is released.  I don't see myself knitting kilt hose, but the chart for the cable is very appealing.  Why not make use of it, I thought.

I used a 4ply wool yarn from Natural Yarns, and a 3.25 needle.  I knit them flat, and just placed the cable by increasing 1 stitch in 4 on the panel in a set-up row.  I used that simple rib edging I have used before on the Celtic waistcoats - two rows garter, two rows rib and two rows garter.  It makes a neat edge.

I put in a thumb gusset and completed the thumb on dpns.  At the top of the cable I closed it off by slipping stitches and passing them over.  This gives a finished look to it.

These feel very warm and are a snug fit. 

I will be trying to give my thumbs a rest over the Christmas break.  Luckily the tapestry yarn has arrived to finish the little Celtic panel.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A good read...

One of the many delights of being retired is the freedom to enjoy reading in that immersive fashion which just doesn't work when you read a page or two each night before dropping off.

As a child, I read a lot.  This was partly because electricity had yet to reach us, so we had gas-light, but no television.  We did not read in bed as the lighting there was in the form of Kelley lamps - small oil lamps which gave just enough light to undress by.  It sounds like another century, as indeed it was - the twentieth century.

In the top juniors I discovered the works of Rosemary Sutcliff, which I wolfed down.  My elder sister, never an avid reader herself, was already at the grammar school in town, from which it was possible to access the Town Library at lunchtimes.  I remember reading "Dawn Wind" in an evening.  My sister protested because changing my books every day seemed a bit excessive to her. She had a point.

Now, of course, I just switch on my Kindle and there the whole of Sutcliff's oeuvre is waiting to be downloaded.  "Warrior Scarlet", "The Eagle of the Ninth", "Frontier Wolf", "Outcast", "The Mark of the Horse Lord" - the list goes on and on.  Those familiar themes of the central character, maimed or disabled in some way, as she was herself, trying to make his way in the world.  And the astonishing way in which she uses details of the Roman world as though she had lived that life.  Everywhere detailed descriptions of landscape, trees, plants and the changing of the seasons.

Just one or two of them, perhaps for younger children, seem overburdened with period detail for the sake of it, but mostly she creates a fully realised world.

I had not read her adult fiction.  Here she is more likely to adopt a female perspective, as in "Lady in Waiting", telling the story of Walter Ralegh from his wife's viewpoint.  Or "The Rider of the White Horse" about the English Civil War and Thomas Fairfax.

Sutcliff's memoir of her own childhood, and the agonising story of her early, doomed love affair, "The Blue Remembered Hills" gave some insight into her studies of loneliness and endurance.

If you have not read any Rosemary Sutcliff, or not for some time, you have a feast in store.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Celtic stranded and Fair Isle

Some more pairs of fingerless mitts.  I'm trying to use up a batch of Jaeger yarn I have had in my stash for many years - it just seems to keep multiplying.  The camera does not seem to want to pick up on the contrast between the deep turquoise main and the pale mauve contrast here.

Two of these have Celtic patterns taken from Co Spinhoven's "Charted Celtic designs" and the other is a classic Fair Isle from Sheila McGregor. 

Knitting Fair Isle patterns like this one follows a totally predictable rhythm which is very easy to learn and satisfying to knit.  eg k3 main, k3 contrast.

Celtic patterns tend not to do this.  They have asymmetric qualities, so the chart has to be to hand.  Longer floats are required.  But they do often achieve a three dimensional effect, even with such a simple repeat as this one.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Newfoundland mitts

I'm currently in a charity knitting phase, after the challenge of Uncia.  I thought a batch of fingerless mitts might be of use, so these will be going to Knit for Peace.  I prefer full mittens, if it is cold enough to make mittens necessary, but fingerless seem to be the style du jour.

I have made a few pairs of Newfoundland Mittens in my time, using the free pattern published by Creative Whimsy, or sort of.  I love them.  The pattern consists of knitting two rows of the main colour and then four rows of the contrast - four stitches contrast, slip two main stitches and repeat.  This creates a honeycomb web effect which looks far more complex than it is, since you are only really using one colour per row.

It's a great pattern for using up adds and ends.  I knit my first pair with double knitting as the main colour and sock yarn used double as the contrast.  It was ideal for using up the ends left over from socks. 

You may have noticed that there are two variants of the pattern  As with many things in knitting this is a very simple change.  After the four rows of contrast there are two rows of main colour.  If you purl the first of these two rows you get a row of colour change bumps. 

If you knit both rows the effect of the web of  main colour is more dominant.  I prefer this effect, which is why I have knit it more often.

I've also used small oddment of J&S 2-ply jumper weight and other tweedy bits knit double, changing the yarn for each 4-row repeat.  It is possible to achieve quite a painterly effect by doing this.