Saturday, 24 November 2007

Sisyphus knits

The problem with knitting on the train (apart from the blue fingers when the train doesn't turn up) is that it is prone to interruption and distraction. This is fine if you're knitting mindless miles of stocking stitch, or something with clear repeats where you can easily figure out where you're up to, but less so with anything remotely fiddly.

For the last month or so (it seems like more), I have been trying to knit a pair of bootees for a friend of my sister's who was expecting a baby. Note the "was" - baby has now arrived. The father is a childhood friend of both of ours though closer to my sister, so the deal was she would buy nice Australian merino and I would knit them. The work of a moment or so I thought. However...

First I tried to find a pattern to work with the fine 3ply yarn but couldn't find anything that wasn't ugly or excessively girly (at this stage we didn't know the sex of the baby so I was trying for something unisex - a slightly tall order given the amount of pink in the yarn). I was also instructed that they should ideally be bootees and not socks. I tried various patterns and versions of patterns but they all produced miserable little curled up things because the yarn wasn't thick enough. I knitted, I crocheted, I frogged and frogged again; it would not cooperate.

Finally baby appears on the scene (still booteeless) and is a girl. Hurrah, think I - Saartje's bootees. I knit one in record time throwing in a little bit of kidsilk spray (vino) to give a nice pink fuzz and am very pleased with it.

I embark on the second and run out of kidsilk spray before I reach the appropriate point. Nuts! I spend my lunch hours scouring every yarn shop in the district (all two of them) to no avail. It is now less than a week before the bootees are expected and I don't have time to order yarn from elsewhere or go further afield to buy any. No one I know has any spare kidsilk in the right colour.

I decide I will just have to start again and make a matching pair without the kidsilk spray. In the remaining two days of the week I frantically knit one bootee each day on the train to and from work because it is the only free time I have. Come to sew them up last night and the bootee curse strikes again; I find I have made two (different) mistakes, one on each bootee so they don't match.

I now have about a third of the ball of yarn left and 4 different bootees, only one of which (the one I can't reproduce) is really presentable, and I have run out of time to make them. Grr.....might as well throw my sticks in the bin, give my stash away to the needy, and give up knitting for good!

Monday, 19 November 2007

Round and round they go

Happy Birthday to me... a very happy birthday indeed since I spent most of it happily playing with my new yarn swift and ball winder (not to mention the generous quantities of new yarn C's mum kindly sent me by way of presentage).

I have been very good because the swift etc. actually arrived early last week (from the Handweavers Studio who were very helpful and got it to me the day after I ordered it) but by dint of will-power and the simple expedient of hardly having any free time at all, I managed not to open it until this morning. C of course couldn't resist the lure of something vaguely technical (either that or he feared my poor little brain would overheat with the excitement) and was soon happily winding away. It was skein number 6 before I even got to have a go!

We started by balling a variety of things I've been saving especially, including the lovely Oxford Kitchen Yarns "Storm" sock yarn (hand-dyed with woad) that I bought at the IKnit Stitch and Bitch day

and the equally lovely Italian mulberry-coloured lace weight that I also bought there.

Then I basically spent the rest of the afternoon working my way through my whole stash, reducing what had been a horrid tangle in a variety of unseemly plastic bags to a stack of gratifyingly neat little cakes.

And they fit in the box and the lid shuts for the first time in months! A Sunday well-spent say I.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Here Kiri, Kiri, Kiri!

Well, after a weekend of concerted knitting, all three are finally done. Still the odd end to sew in, but that doesn't really count.

On the whole I'm very pleased with them, and I hope my sister will be too. She is marrying a New Zealander and will be having New Zealand ferns in her bouquet, hence the original choice of pattern. I haven't got a New Zealand fern, so my asparagus fern will have to do for the purposes of comparison, but it seems fairly ferny to me.

For the third one I used, what I can't help thinking of as "Liz's accidental bind-off" (a method which apparently resulted from a slight misunderstanding, but in fact turned out to be much more successful than the original) and the edge gave me no trouble at all and came out nice and pointy. I am still trying to decide whether I dare try to tink the already-blocked Kiri No. 1 and tweak it to be the same. Not sure that my nerves are strong enough for it really, but I would like them to match. I'll think about it. If I attempt it fairly soon I suppose at a pinch I still have time to make a fourth...

Now all I have to do is get the rest of my outfit together. I have the majority of it but am still on the look-out for what I am told is called a "fascinator" (I reckon it'll be too hot for hats and anyway it's got to be packable). While visiting my mum last week I had a quick look in various likely-looking shops, but without much success. Really what I want is something the same sort of iridescent green as my shirt, but since this isn't one of "this season's" colours I couldn't find anything that matched. In fact the whole selection was somewhat uninspiring and surprisingly pricey. In one shop C proudly presented me with something that looked like the result of an unfortunate encounter between a pheasant and a lawnmower and I was rather taken aback to realize the price ticket said £265! Perhaps I'll get myself a bull-dog clip and some ribbon and then go out and mug a pigeon...