Friday, 31 October 2008

Maya So-Called Scarf

It is at last properly cold. It's not that I like only cold weather, but, as a knitter, it's important to have the proper weather for woolly wear. Bright, sunny days of swirling leaves and brisk wind are excellent for wandering around the city in a big scarf.

Maya So-Called Scarf

DSC02594Maya So-Called Scarf

This is My So-Called Scarf, now in its second season. It's wearing quite well, developing a bit of a bloom, but then I rather like it like that. I realise that the rough cast-on/cast-off edges would not appeal to a perfectionist knitter but I rather like those as well. The important thing about this scarf, apart from the subtle variations in colour in the Debbie Bliss Maya yarn, is that it is BIG, big enough to mean that I escape that sliver of cold neck between coat collar and scarf that is so often the bane of skinny scarves.

So-Called Scarf in Maya
In progress last year...

Pattern: My So-Called Scarf by Allison Isaacs on Imagiknit
[Ravelry link]
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Maya; 3 skeins (I think)
Needles: 7.0 mm
Modifications: not finishing the hems properly...

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Swamp Thing Socks

Swamp Thing Socks

Swamp Thing Socks

Swamp Thing Socks

Swamp Thing Socks

I love these socks. Everything about them is happy. From easyknitter's yarn stall at IKnit 2007 with free gingerbread men giveaways to the great colourway name and the way in which the pattern provides lots of toe wiggling room, every aspect was straightforward, generous, and did what it said on the tin.

I have only very recently come to sock knitting. One of these socks was the first sock I ever made. I like being a swamp thing while wearing them. They are perfect for stubbed-toe recuperation.

Pattern: A Pair of Socks (ravelry link) by Ann Budd
Yarn: Easy Knits Blue-Faced Leicester; 1 skein, 100g, 330.0 yards (301.8m)
Colourway: Swamp Thing
Needles: 3.25 mm

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


I did buy the toilet seat yesterday, after all.

I have just tripped over it in its box. I may have broken my toe.

That'll teach me to rush around all excited about vintage 2-ply botany wool, Kidsilk Haze and fairy crochet hooks.

Treasure Trove

I was once working on a photography shoot with Axel Russmeyer, a German jewellery designer who used minute beads to create beautiful larger beads. I coveted with all my heart just one bead but couldn't afford one then, and certainly couldn't afford one now. This necklace was recently on sale for $3,995. I hope he won't mind me mentioning that he told me a treasure trove tale that has stayed with me, in the hope that one day I too might stumble upon a similar find.

Axel was researching the art of Venetian glass bead production, and visited a very old, traditional glass factory in the Venice region. At the very back of the most neglected part of the factory he came across a box, covered in thick dust. Upon opening it he found that it contained hundreds of minuscule antique beads, each one the size of a large pin head and of a type no longer manufactured. It was a design using some of these beads that I covet still.

I have several treasure-trove wishes, including finding a portfolio - or even just a single one - of an original Tintin drawing by Herge, or a stash of pure linen sheets in their original 1930s paper and ribbon wrappings, or perhaps a pile of beautiful vintage knitting patterns from the 1950s back. The ultimate trove would be a house or shop sealed and left untouched for several years full of the original contents. I suppose that is why this news piece grabbed my attention recently.

A couple of treasure-trove experiences have come my way over time. When I was 10 my best friend showed me a warren of tunnels beneath her family's house. This had been used as an air raid shelter during the war and had been left virtually untouched ever since. There were toys, books and furniture left scattered around from the last time people had taken refuge down there. Last year my elderly neighbour, an elegantly dressed woman in her 90s, had a fall and alerted me by banging hard on the floor until I heard her. After she came out of hospital I went up to visit and for the first time saw inside her flat. It was a time capsule of 1930s decor, furniture and Clarice Cliff pottery, unchanged at her own request since she had first moved in. The kitchen was fitted with the original mass of tiny larder cupboards, a wooden draining board and large butler's-style sink. The only nod to modern living was a 1960s cooker and slightly younger fridge.

Last summer in Oxfordshire I was led through a half-concealed wooden door into an abandoned walled orchard. The tree branches were full of apples, no longer picked, and the grass and wildflowers reached halfway up the tree trunks. We shouldn't really have been there, but I went exploring all the same. It was too much of a secret garden not to.

Yesterday I came across a mini-trove. I was browsing in a charity shop and spotted a squashed assortment of yarny things in a tatty plastic bag. It turned out that there was another bag down in the store room, and I made an offer for both. The woman in the shop wanted to know if the wool would be going to a good home. I assured her it was.

Inside, along with some rather strange acrylicky things which will go back to charity, was a miniature treasure trove:

2 balls of Kidsilk Haze, in Candy Girl and Jelly

3 balls of Jaeger Matchmaker DK in Teal

some more Jaeger Matchmaker DK in shades of green and blue that someone has started to knit together and then abandoned. I could have told the poor person that there are easier ways to create a variegated effect, so if he or she ever sees this and would like their wool back to make something else, do get in touch.

1 ball of Jaeger pure alpaca 4 ply in Ice

2 balls pure cotton 4 ply from Slovakia

2 balls Wendy Cotton Aran

However, if this wasn't enough, there was what seems to be a vintage element to the trove:

Altogether there are 235 grams of this 2 ply. I've tried researching Rivermist and the Waterfall Spinning Company but can find no sign of it currently in production.

As well as the two shades of cream 2 ply, there was also this:

Lots of smaller skeins in beautiful shades. Or so I thought. It turns out there's a slight drawback:

The coloured 2 ply has been cut into short lengths. Any ideas what to do with this, apart from very fiddly fair isle, or embroidery (which is not really my thing)?

There was one last item in the tangle of yarn. Tucked deep inside was a tiny tool, a bit like a fairy's crochet hook, with a normal-size handle.

I am ignorant about many needlework and hooked crafts so any clues as to what this might be used for are very welcome. Crochet for people who really like a challenge? Tatting?

If anyone would like the miniature hook, or indeed any of the bright yellow silky mohair also in the package but which I haven't shown here, or some of the short lengths of coloured 2 ply botany, do let me know. Unusual swaps or ordinary ones considered. The hook, well, that can just go to a good home.

I should mention that I wasn't meant to buy any wool yesterday. I had actually gone out to buy a toilet seat, but, hey, this haul is a lot nicer to stroke (unless you are very, very weird).

Monday, 27 October 2008

How many??

2500 entries... and I suspect that was a fraction of the people who might have entered had they not been working, distracted, knitting, travelling, sleeping, stroking yarn, and anything else that readers of Knitting Daily do. The winning entry did make me laugh, though.

Franklin Habit is coming to London very soon. Unfortunately it sounds as if he won't be bringing his 1000 Knitters photography project, which has to stay in Chicago.

It seems that the one-thousand-different-gauges-scarf has now grown to enormous proportions and would take up most of his luggage allowance. I guess it comes down to a choice of giant scarf or clothes. He could always wear just the scarf.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Galway Souvenirs

Loch Corrib, Connemara


Galway was a brisk mixture of alternating sunshine, rainbows, scudding clouds, rain - and hardly any people. I so wanted to go on the boat trip around Loch Corrib, stopping at the village of Cong and some islands, but I failed to persuade the captain that I could clone myself into the minimum twelve people required for a sailing. Instead I leant almost perpendicular into the whirling wind at the end of the pier before walking back into Oughterard and along the country lanes.

Connemara, scenic road Loch Corrib

In Galway City I sheltered from the rain in a haberdasher's, and found some buttons. Now all I need to do is make the cardigans to go with the buttons.

Galway buttons

people buttons, Galway

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Secret Garden Harris Tweed Socks

Plushness Harris Tweed Socks

Plushness Harris Tweed Socks

Plushness Harris Tweed Socks

Pattern: Harris Tweed Socks by Put A Sock In It
Needles: 3 mm
Yarn: Skein Queen Plushness
: Secret Garden; 1 skein
Composition:80% lambswool, 10% angora, 10% cashmere
Weight: DK Light - sock weight; 100g, c 300 yards

I've mentioned this yarn and the heel of this sock before. Both socks are now ready for public viewing. I used the pattern as written, apart from the toe. Instead of the suggested wedge-shaped toe, I substituted the Star Toe of Three Points from Knitting Vintage Socks.

Saturday, 18 October 2008


sweets on a Saturday

I couldn't resist these. They are just so pretty, and so nostalgic of a time when sweet shops had jars. These are hand-made Chocolate Satins, from the excellent A Quarter Of... , where nearly all childhood dreams held by adults can still come true (and there's a great page for requesting long-missed favourites).

Rather strangely, ever since I saw them being given as a present during an episode of The Secret Life of Us, I have had giant jelly beans on the brain. This summer I found some, even more strangely located in the Forestry Commission Shop at Queen's View in the Highlands of Scotland. How apt that the Queen herself is helping me give an idea of just how gigantesque these beans really are.


Queen's View, nr Pitlochry

Queen's View, near Pitlochry, Scotland, on a misty, rainy day; unlikely location of giant jelly beans

Moneypenny Socks

Charade Socks in Moneypenny (SQ)

Socks on a Saturday.

Pattern: Charade
Yarn: Skein Queen, Moneypenny (custom dyed); 1 skein
The name, well, it's a long story. Skein Queen and I know how it came about. Daniel Craig, hold on to your hat...

Brown jewels

I was pondering today why some foods have so much more attention paid to their packaging than others. It is well known, amongst those who know me, that I have a particular penchant for sweet chestnuts. Look at the treats I have been brought, from France (left), Italy (centre), and Japan (right). Such beautiful packaging for them all. I wonder if the chestnut is particularly venerated in Japan, or if all foods come so beautifully presented. This little metal tub of chestnut puree comes with two types of cardboard container, a tin, and even its own tiny spoon.

Chestnut purees

Going, going,...

Sometimes it's important to buy something because soon it will be gone, and there will be no more.

Jaeger Extra Fine Merino Double Knitting
Shades (from back, left to right): Biscuit, Golden, Coal Dust
Sadly this has been discontinued, but it knits up beautifully. Sometimes wool companies make strange decisions.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Vintage scarf

I know this has already appeared on ravelry, but it is one of those projects that became addictive and which lingered in the mind as it raced off the needles.

A 70th birthday present for someone I've known most of my life, it was a gamble in case purple was not a favourite colour and lace a disliked texture. However, it went down well, which is not so surprising as the yarn is a fantastic mixture of silk and cashmere.

I chose an original pattern from, I think, the 1930s. I have a large collection of vintage patterns, waiting to be used and adapted for modern life. This one required no adaptation, just blocking and wondering if it might have been published the year its recipient was born. That would have been a neat coincidence indeed.

The yarn came as a transatlantic gift of great generosity, delivered one rainy Sunday afternoon to me, a complete stranger except for some emails. We should have been out looking at pelicans in St James's Park but instead talked about knitting and New England over a cup of English tea.

Yarn: Jade Sapphire Cashmere-Silk 2-ply, vintage rose colourway (perhaps); 1 skein
Needles: 3.0 mm
Adapted from ‘Two-Colour Scarf’ in vintage "2 oz Woollie Book", cost 1 shilling, Weldon’s leaflet no. 364, probably 1930s.

If you aren't on ravelry and would like the pattern instructions, do let me know. I'm sure copyright has now lapsed.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Toe Techniquery

Thanks to the patient teaching skills of Purlescence and Erqsome, and the equally helpful advice from KatinkaKnits, I now have one kitchenered sock toe. I'm sure it shouldn't take three people to teach me something everyone else seems to know from birth, or at least much earlier on in their knitting careers, but I'm very pleased to have it at the end of my foot at last.

In case I'm being heelist, here's an alternative view.

Here's another heel, just to balance things out. This is the heel for a Harris Tweed sock in Skein Queen Plushness, mentioned earlier. Not quite tweed as we know it, but pink is de rigueur at the moment.

Thursday, 9 October 2008


I have bought myself a treat. There is an exhibition too.

The book is still pristine, still shrinkwrapped. It's for next week when time slows down a bit. Maybe some of the shops still exist.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

What would you do...?

So, rather unexpectedly I have some free time. More than a few days. Good days.

What would you do with such a windfall?

All ideas and suggestions on the back of a postcard, please.

No bungee jumping.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Maybe no one will notice...

So, this project was going well, with the cables proving easier than they first appeared and things flying along quite nicely. The wool was wonderful, buttery soft and thick, and there I was knitting away like a wild thing to produce two thick aran socks of wintry warmth. Hoorah!

Anyone guess what really happened? Um...

No, the heels were fine, I didn't mess those up, or wear them out in my sleep as before... It was something else...

Yes, I ran out of wool.

I quite like the oddness. I could start a trend.

Pattern: Log Cabin Socks from 'Handknit Holidays' by Anne Woodbury
Yarn: Jaeger Extra Fine Merino Aran in Cedar (with a touch of Juniper*)
Needles: 4.0 mm
3 skeins = 285.0 yards (260.6m)

(*well, at least I kept it arboreal)