Saturday, December 27, 2008


i haven't posted much yet about my december project for my sweater-a-month challenge. it was a christmas present, and although the RSA had seen me working on it (it's hard to knit something as big as a sweater in secret - it would never be finished in time!) i didn't want to post about it & give away all the details before the big reveal on christmas. and as it turned out, i bound off the last stitch on christmas day, about five minutes before christmas dinner was served - perfect timing! a good wash, a good firm blocking, and an afternoon drying in front of the heater, and it was ready for its closeup...


perfect! it's a basic rib & cable pattern, knitted in the round up to the armholes & then split for back & front. the back neck is slightly higher than the front, and the shoulders are joined with a three-needle-bindoff. the sleeves are knitted in a wide rib, from stitches picked up around the drop-shoulder armholes, narrowing to the wrist - it's all pretty straighforward, and i mostly made it up as i went along. but as simple as it is, there are a couple of little things that i'm quite pleased with...

december neck detail

the back of the neck, where the central cable flows into the ribbed collar...

december side detail

and the cable that runs up the side seam and twists out around the sleeve opening while flowing into the decreases along the bottom centre of the sleeve.
& although it wasn't quite finished in time to be gifted on christmas morning, it's still a pretty good present, i think, and a good end to the year of the sweater.

project specs:
started: 1st december 2008
completed: 25th december 2008
pattern: made up by myself - a drop-shoulder pullover with a basic wide rib & cable pattern
needles: 5.5mm addi circular for the main body & sleeves; 4.5mm addi circular for the ribbing
yarn: rowan harris tweed aran (now called "yorkshire tweed") in colour "claret"; 7.5 balls (750 grams & roughly 1400 yards)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

something missing

if you're loved by a knitter, here are some of the things that you may expect to get for christmas, and some of the things that may be missing.

(un)felted slipper
an unfelted felt slipper, missing its mate
(fibertrends felted clog)

grinchy sock
a christmas sock, also missing its mate
(plain toe-up sock in socks that rock "grinchy")

a sweater missing half a sleeve
(the december sweater of my sweater-a-month project, in rowan harris tweed "claret")

luckily, there's nothing missing from the christmas cuddles, and that makes up for it all.

christmas cuddles

happy christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

orange you glad

december in scotland is a month of Ds - dark, damp, drab, dreary & depressing. the days are mostly gray & rainy, and the nights are long long long. it's very easy to simply give in to the dismal conditions, & in no time, you find yourself in the depths of despair.
so it's no wonder that i've been trying to counteract the december doldrums the best way i know how - yarn. & i've been irresistably drawn to the same colour more than once...

hazel knits sock
hazelknits artisan sock yarn in "high ocTANG"

artesano aran
artesano aran alpaca/merino in "sunset"

definitely cheering-up colours!! the sock yarn was simply because i couldn't resist the colourway, and it's already brightening up my december, even though i don't know what i'm making with it yet. & the artesano aran snagged my attention while i was at work the other day, & wouldn't leave me alone until i brought it home with me. it's going to be the katje cardigan from cocoknits, to be knitted over my christmas holidays - something so simple & snuggly, in such a fabulous colourway, is bound to bring this desolate december to an end.

(& just so you know - the new studio, while fabulous in every other way, doesn't have a working sink. no sink = no dyeing, so i won't be opening the studio until the sink situation is resolved. don't drop by for a visit before then, because i won't be there!! if you'd like to arrange a visit to see my yarns in person you're more than welcome, but send me an email to let me know you're coming so i can go & open up for you.)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

grand opening....

it might not be too grand, but it will be open! the studio is finally taking shape, and i'll definitely be open for business soon - in fact, my "grand opening" will be this friday (5th december) at west kilbride's yule night festivities & late night shopping.
my new studio space is huge, with a ton of natural light (even in the dreich & dreary winter weather). & now that the stressful bit of getting ready is almost over, i'm starting to get pretty excited about it all! it's all thanks to the west kilbride craft initiative - a great project which is buying up vacant/derelict shop spaces on west kilbride's main street, and converting them into studios which are then rented out (at a very cheap rate!) to local artists & crafters.
the spaces are primarily working studios, but they're also open to the public - each artist sets their own opening hours, but all of us have to commit to a certain amount of hours per week. once i'm officially open, i'll be open wednesday to saturday from 12-4pm (although i'll most likely be there outwith those hours as well!) - so if you want to drop by please feel free!
& since i'm open to the public, i can now sell my yarn in person as well as online - look, i even have stuff in the window!!

how cool is that???
so if you're not busy this friday night, & you want to come say hi, please do - i'm in studio 99b, right on west kilbride's main street. wish me luck...

Friday, November 28, 2008

a few bright spots

the dark clouds of november continue to hover (more bad news, this time family/health related - seriously, november isn't going well at all, and it's getting to be a bit much). but this week, for me at least, there have been a few little bright spots to keep me going.

my ears have been brightened & my spirit has been lifted by the lovely elaine, who gave me her old & my now brand-new-to-me ipod mini, complete with uber-funky anti-scratch cover...

hello. i am funky.

also from elaine, although indirectly (i finally spent the gift voucher she gave me for my birthday waaaay back in july!), some lovely new yarn to brighten up my yarn stash. more posh yarn laceweight cashmere, in an oddly familiar colourway - i was inexplicably & irresistably drawn to this colourway as soon as i saw it, and didn't even realise how close it was to one i've already used until it arrived & i saw them both together - whoops. good thing i like the colour...

posh yarn sophia fern
hello. i am a copycat.

& despite the gray days, there's always the freshly-painted bright white walls of my new studio space...

hello. i am freshly painted.

oh wait, did i mention that i have a new studio space??? ahem. i got the keys this wednesday, & it's a work in progress to say the least (it's been painted, and i've moved in the couple of things that you can see above). cupboard units & a big counter are going in this weekend, and the rest of my stuff should be there next week, just in time for me to have my official "launch night" to coincide with this. so if you're going to be anywhere near west kilbride next friday (unlikely, eh?) feel free to come say hi - i'll be the one huddled in the corner, stressed out & eating my hair.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

a bit of a cheat

i've been feeling a little bit cheated lately - november hasn't been going well at all.
first, my iPod broke (most important for listening to my own music on car journeys to work, instead of radio rubbish). so i bought another one via ebay, which seemed like a really good deal (i know, i know - cue ominous music)...

ceci ne'st pas un pomme.

yeah, that's not an iPod - it's a chinese fake. after many irritating back & forth messages, the seller has reluctantly agreed to take it back, so at least i should get my money back. sigh.
then, i was in a car accident earlier this week - some not-paying-attention eejit ran straight into the back of my car while i was sitting in a queue at a red light minding my own business. the rear end of my lovely wee car is badly damaged, but fixable (although it'll take 3 weeks); my back & neck are also a little damaged, which means all the work i had planned for the rest of the week has gone out the window (plus i had to get my flu & pneumonia jags this week, so my back hurts, my neck hurts, and i can't move either of my arms - fabulous). and to top that all off, the RSA was away for work for a couple of days, so i couldn't even milk my injuries for any sympathy/getting out of doing the washing up. sigh.
& today, my wee cat had to go to the vet - she's been prone to UTIs in the past, but hasn't had any problems for a couple of years at least. alas, since one of the triggers to her getting sick is stress, it seems like november has just been too much for her as well. sigh.
after all that, it seemed only fair that i could cheat a bit on my november sweater. i'm knitting the eyelet front vest (ravelry link) from vogue holiday knits. yes, it is a fully-fledged sweater design. but here's the thing - it's only got cap sleeves, it's knitted on 6mm needles, and it features a wide lace edging (& as every knitter knows, a little lace takes up a lot of space) - so all in all, it's a pretty quick knit compared to some of my sweater-a-month projects.

november edging detail

it may be all i can handle right now.... sigh.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

september, revisited

you may remember that the september sweater was nearly finished on time (but not quite). then it had to go into time-out for a while - i wasn't happy with the way it was fitting, so i decided the only option was to rip out & redo the entire yoke. after working on it for so long, i just couldn't bring myself to do it - but i eventually bit the bullet this weekend, and ripped it out. & after two days of re-knitting, september is finished at last...


... & i absolutely love love LOVE it. it's a little baggy-looking in the picture - the shop dummy wearing it is considerably slimmer than me, so picture it being worn by someone much more - um - curvaceous. it's a great fit on me, & is hugely cozy & comfy & warm.

project specs:
started: 29th august 2008
completed: 30th september 2008; then re-worked 1st-2nd november 2008
yarn: elsebeth lavold classic AL (50% merino/50% alpaca), shade 008 "cognac", 13 balls (1400 yards)
needles: 5mm addi circulars
pattern: the cable pattern is from the "juno" cardigan (rowan magazine #40); the rest of the cardi i made up as i went along. apart from the cable panel, the cardi was knitted seamlessly from the bottom up; the cable panel was then sewn on afterwards. the silver clasps are from nordic fiber arts.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


october - the sunrise circle

the october sweater is finished, and it was even sunny enough this weekend to have a little photoshoot!

project specs:
started: 6th october 2008
completed: 31st october 2008
yarn: rowanspun aran colour 971 "heath" - alas, the yarn is sadly discontinued, which is a huge shame as it's a brilliant yarn to work with! it's a lovely wooly tweed, knits up to a nice firm fabric, & the yardage is phenomenal - i bought a 10-skein bag for about £35, and used exactly 5 skeins to knit this sweater (roughly 1100 yards). i also used about 1.5 balls of debbie bliss donegal luxury tweed colour 06 for the contrasting hems (which i forgot to take photos of. oh well!).
needles: 4.5mm addi circular for the jacket, 4mm dpns to knit i-cord toggle loops & toggle fasteners.
pattern: sunrise circle jacket by kate gilbert. for the most part, i knitted this exactly as written for the 41" size; alas, after knitting the back and the left front, i realised that somehow, my row gauge was completely off (yes, i swatched!). after some comparison measurements against my first version of this sweater, i decided to cut off the left arm at the armpit (since the cardi front is knitted in one piece with the sleeve, my only other option was to rip out the entire front/sleeve piece and start again), pick up the live stitches, and knit the left sleeve downwards to correct the length (it was about 6 inches too long!). i then used my corrected left sleeve to work out the right sleeve pattern, and knitted the right front as written. since my row gauge didn't just affect the sleeves, the whole cardi is very slightly off-kilter when compared to my first version - the front pieces overlap more, the body is longer (hip- as opposed to waist-length). but the only noticeable issue is that the raglan is a bit too long.

october - the sunrise circle 2

not that big a deal! i also knitted i-cord loops for the toggles instead of crocheting toggle loops, and knitted i-cords with little bobbles on the ends to fasten the toggles onto the sweater (a trick that i thought was particularly ingenious).

october - the sunrise circle 1

all in all, i'm very pleased with this month's efforts - it's a little looser than my first version (due mainly to my out-of-nowhere gauge issues!), so it's not necesssarily the most dressy or tailored of knits. but it's very sturdy, immensely warm, and will be much appreciated this winter, i'm sure!

Friday, October 31, 2008

a good day

spinning a sweater
something soft
(a luscious green/yellow/turquoise merino/silk blend; the first bobbin of singles for my own handspun sweater)

wollmeise scraps
something special
(a whole box of wollmeise sock yarn leftovers, donated by a kind knitter towards my scrap blanket)

october detail
something finished
(my october sweater! more pics to come, when i can find a photographer...)

perfect afternoon
& something lovely
(hot chocolate, biscuits, and a sweet & funny book)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

one in every colour

when i organised my closet today, this stack of knits appeared - & there's definitely some repetitiveness to them.

a stack of knits!

a couple of grays, a couple of greens, a couple of blues, and a couple of browns - but only one purple?? something needs remedied here...

october - the back

it's the first finished piece of the october sweater of my sweater-a-month challenge. & in case you didn't notice, i didn't take anyone's advice after all. when it came down to it, the yarn i wanted to use (the purple rowanspun aran) didn't quite match up with any of the sweaters i wanted to knit - so i cast on for something else entirely. remember this?

sunrise circle jacket 1

it's the sunrise circle jacket (ravelry link) - for a while, this pattern was available for free online, but it seems to have disappeared. luckily, i downloaded a copy & saved it, which means i can knit this all over again (this time in purple!).
i know it may seem odd to knit the same sweater twice. but i absolutely love the one i have, & wear it all the time - so much so that although it's only been in action for just over a year, it's already starting to look a little worn. plus, the pattern is simple to knit, yet at the same time complete & utter genius - each sleeve & front is knitted as one piece, with clever increases causing the semi-circular front piece to "grow" seamlessly out of the sleeve. i may just have to make one in every colour...

(p.s. in case you were wondering about the september sweater - i finished it. then, alas, i tried it on - & something wasn't quite right. i took some advice from a couple of knitting friends - & the general consensus was that i need to completely rip back & rework the entire yoke. i'd like to hate them, but they're right. the cardi is currently in time out, & will reemerge when i'm not so annoyed.)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

the mithril coat

this summer, i officially took a holiday from my sweater-a-month project - but what i didn't tell you was that i was still unofficially working away on a sweater. i worked on it over the summer while i was in the midst of tons of other things, and it's been waiting for buttons for a while now. well, the long-awaited buttons have finally arrived, and they were absolutely worth the wait...

the mithril coat 2

the mithril coat

project specs:
started: 18th july 2008
finished: 18th september 2008
pattern: what pattern? this is the simplest of simple cardis - a top-down, one-piece raglan in garter stitch. i made it up as i went along.
needles: 5mm for the yoke, 5.5mm for the midsection, and 6mm for the bottom - i created a slight a-line shape by increasing needle size as i progressed down the body rather than by adding stitches.
yarn: a souvenir from paris, the yarn is 100% gray silk tweed and roughly an aran weight. i only had four skeins of it (about 1000 yards), and ran out just at the end of my knitting, so i used less than a ball of noro silk garden to add the cuffs & the short-row triangular edgings. the yarn is gorgeous - despite its fairly rustic look, it's incredibly soft & drapey.
buttons: oh, the buttons - the finishing touch, from stonehouse supply on etsy. she custom-made me a set of buttons after i sent her a yarn sample - perfection!
& as for the name - i've been reliably informed by a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan that this cardi bears a striking resemblance to the mithril coat. i'm not sure if this means that i, therefore, bear a striking resemblance to a hobbit, but i'm sure it was meant as a compliment...

the mithril coat 1
hmmmm - does this cardi make my toes look hairy?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

channelling zimmermann

iceland has my money, & won't give it back. ok, so it's not TONS of money, & i'll probably get it back eventually. but i have something in the works over the next few weeks (a BIG something, which will be revealed soon!) which means i'd really like to have my money now!! sigh.
so for today, at least, i'm channelling elizabeth zimmermann...

lowenzahn socks finished
finished toe-up socks with cable detail, knitted in wollmeise sockenwolle "lowenzahn"

more wollemeise sockenwolle, this time in "drachenblut", to cast on for more toe-up socks

october yarn
the yarn for the october sweater

"knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises"
(elizabeth zimmermann)

Friday, October 03, 2008

i need closure!!!

only 3 days behind schedule, the september sweater is finished!!...

but i can't show it to you yet. why? because, like the summer sweater, i don't have buttons yet. i've ordered some fabulous custom buttons for the summer sweater, and some pewter clasp closures for the september sweater... but they haven't arrived yet!!! (darn that international postage, it's so sloooooooow!). so the sweater backlog will just have to wait until i can get some closure(s). i'm hoping they'll arrived this weekend, so fingers crossed!
& in the meantime, i have a new sweater to start, but i'm stuck. i have a few different ideas, and a few different yarns that i could use...

rowan scottish tweed 33 lovat
rowan tweed in pale green, to knit this or maybe that

rowanspun aran
more rowan tweed, purple this time, to knit that or maybe this

elsebeth lavold silky wool
tweedy dark green silky wool, to knit this

... any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

so close....

the september sweater....

september sweater - nearly!

.... is not finished. it's SO close, though!!! the whole (huge) body is done, the sleeves are done, and most of the ends are even sewn in - but the cabled section is still about 8 inches too short. i'm guessing there's only about two more hours of knitting time in this sweater, plus a little seaming. but since it's now officially october, my month is up! sigh. SO close.....

Sunday, September 21, 2008

armed & ready

finally, i'm getting into gear with my september sweater! although we're well into september by now - and nearly out the other end & into october - i'd been plodding away on the big cabled collar of this month's sweater with no discernible progress. not to mention being distracted by new & shiny things. but it's amazing what can be achieved in one weekend...

september juno sleeves
sleeves! two of them! and they're even the same length & everything!

since january, all my sweaters have been knitted at a fairly fine gauge - and i'd completely forgotten how quickly things can go when you're using heavier yarn! knitted in an aran weight on 5mm needles, september's sleeves are finished - and, armed & ready, i'm now onto the body. & since i want the dramatic cabled collar to be the focal point of the sweater, the body (like the sleeves) is plain old stockinette - great mindless knitting for a weekend of movie-watching.
& it's been a weekend of more than one achievement...

the summer sweater peek
sneak peek of the summer sweater - proper pics when i get the buttons sewn on

Monday, September 15, 2008


i know i said i was back on track with the sweater knitting..... but i got a little distracted.

bobby's garden
the start of my version of "bobby's garden", in sock yarn leftovers - hexagons are fun!

lowenzahn socks
plain toe-up socks in wollmeise sockenwolle "lowenzahn" - i can't stop knitting these, the colours are fabulous!

wollmeise sock club 1
the first shipment of the wollmeise sock club - it's so completely gorgeous, words fail me

cupcake from "la cucina" in glasgow's west end - pink icing, edible glitter, and a chocolate butterfly???

i swear, i'm back on track now....

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

hello, september

i'm not one of these people that mourns the end of the summer. i've never been a fan of hot weather & sunshine (not that it got that sunny over here this summer, but you know what i mean!). & to me, the arrival of fall has one fantastic result - i get to start wearing my wooly sweaters again. and, after all, this is meant to be the year of the sweater!
i'll admit, i got a little off track over the summer. i had one sweater project that went badly wrong & had to be completely ripped out, which was disappointing. and i had one project that took longer to finish than i had anticipated, which delayed everything that came after it. not to mention all the extra work i had to do!
but at last, the summer is over - and i'm back on track! i'm still working on some background sweater knitting (a super-simple jacket in garter stitch), but my official september sweater is officially started...

juno cable progression
aaaah, cabley.

it's the start of the collar for rowan's "juno" (you can see a gorgeous version here). but, in fact, the collar is the only part of the pattern that i'm keeping! the rest of the pattern has been completely thrown out the window, & i'll be making it up as i go, but the general idea is a simple hip-length, a-line stockinette jacket (eerily similar to this one, in fact), which still keeps the big, dramatic cabled collar from the original version. i'm knitting it with elsebeth lavold classic AL, which is a 50/50 blend of merino & alpaca, and is incredibly soft & cushy - every stitch is a pleasure! & since the cable chart is slightly complicated, i can't watch tv while i knit. but i can drink hot chocolate, & i've got this on audiobook at the moment & the story is just getting better & better....
all in all, i'm pretty happy that summer's over.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

my head is spinning

here's where i've been all week, & here's some of what i've been doing & seeing...

there was a room full of spinners, each as obsessed as the next

& a huge marquee full of fibre, to try as much of as we liked

there was an end-of-the-week display of all the gorgeous yarns we produced

& amazing felted pieces from the felter's workshop

i made some yarn, & even knitted a scarf with it!

& then i came home with this huge bag of beautiful fibre, for even more spinning (cat included for scale)