Tuesday, December 29, 2009

bleak midwinter

in the bleak midwinter
frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone

(christina rossetti, 1872)

it's cold here. so cold, that we've had our first "white christmas" in more than five years (even if it snows elsewhere in the UK, it doesn't normally snow much where we are, and it definitely doesn't stick). well, it stuck this time, and then the snow turned to freezing sleet, which turned to ice, and the ice has stayed for a fair few days now. our little under-insulated sea-front flat is icy - all heaters are turned up to full blast, there are blankets & duvets on the couch to huddle under, and i'm surrounding myself with (equally chilly, i'm sure) furry creatures. around my comfy chair in the living room, i'm collecting lots of cozy knitting projects to work on - if i keep everything within easy reach, i can stay in my blanket-nest as much as possible. & since i've taken to wearing two pairs of wooly socks at a time in an attempt to keep my feet at least semi-warm, i clearly need to keep knitting more socks as fast as i can.
embarrassingly, this pair (they are both finished now, although there's only one in the photo) have been on the needles since january 2009 - i have no idea why, since it's only taken me a couple of days of holiday-tv-knitting to finish the second sock. i'm wearing them now (over another pair, of course) & they're lovely.

handspun socks
plain toe-up sock in sewknitnbeads2 handspun, colourway "lazy daisy"

i'm also finishing up some plain toe-up socks in my own merino/cashmere/nylon 4ply (colourway "bramble" - no photo, sorry!) which have been on the needles since about may 2009, as well as these brainless socks, also in my own merino/cashmere/nylon 4ply (a dyepot-accident-colourway), which have been in progress since july 2009 (blush).

& more brainless socks
"brainless" socks by yarnissima, yarn by me

i'm a tiny bit annoyed with myself at letting these projects sit for so long - i'm getting through them quite quickly (now that i'm actually working on them!), and i'm very pleased with the finished socks (especially since it's sooooooo coooooooollllld...). but at least it means that i've got lots of interesting little projects piled up around my blanket-nest to keep me occupied through this bleak midwinter. if i get bored of one, i can pick up another, and i may not have to leave my cozy spot until the spring....

(...now, if only i didn't have to go to the loo...)

Friday, December 25, 2009

merry christmas

whether you celebrate it or not, whatever you're doing today, if you're a knitter, the message is still the same....

sheep & wool

may there be sheep on earth,
& good wool to all

i hope you & yours are having a lovely day - merry christmas!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

strangely bereft

last batch

the last batch of this year's yarn club parcels is off in the post! i'm so happy with how everything has gone - it's my first-ever time running a yarn club, and the response has been fantastic. it's quite a worry, this yarn club business - essentially, you're asking folk to fork over a fairly substantial amount of money in advance, without seeing any of the yarns or colourways that they're going to get, on the expectation that you're going to send them something good!! the potential for unhappy customers seems quite high - but the yarn club members have been wonderful, and everyone seems to have liked what they got (& if not, i haven't heard about it yet!!).
& i'm especially relieved that the colourways have had such a great response, considering that they're my 2010 collection (otherwise i would have had to spend my christmas holidays coming up with a new batch of colourways for next year, instead of knitting & eating chocolate...). but now that the parcels have all left the studio, i'm feeling strangely bereft - there seems to be so much more room in the studio now that all the little stashes of club yarn & club extras are packed up & shipped out. and my work schedule is suddenly wide open - no more big batches of club yarn to dye, skein, & label up!
however, there's no time to rest on my laurels - after all, since the club was a 2010 preview, that means that i need to dye up some more of the new colourways quickly, & make sure that there's some in the shop for the start of the new year (which is alarmingly soon - have you noticed?). i'd better get going.....

Sunday, December 06, 2009

sweet adeline

adeline coat 1

project specs:
started: 1st november 2009
completed: 3rd december 2009
pattern: "adeline coat" (bust size 42", test knitter for lucy sweetland's upcoming pattern)
yarn: rowan harris tweed aran, shade 018 "thatch", 1100 grams/2050 yards (ravelled here)
needles: 4.5mm addi circulars
modifications: the pattern as written has a knitted tie belt & also has pockets; i knitted the pockets but decided not to add them on yet as i quite like how it looks without them. i'm still undecided about the belt, so i'm just using a shawl pin to close it at the moment (& i quite like the look, so i probably won't add the belt either). other than that, as a test knitter, i knitted the pattern as written.
there were points during this knit that i was a bit skeptical - with the number of stitches i had on the needles, and the amount of knitted fabric that was piling up on my lap, i was convinced i was actually knitting some sort of wooly yurt.

adeline coat 3

but i trusted the pattern, and kept going - and i have to say, i think this is probably my favourite finished project so far. once it was off the needles, sewn up, and blocked - i was sold. the dense cabled bodice, the drapey long skirt...

adeline coat 4

...the perfectly proportioned sleeves, with a cabled cuff that echoes the bodice pattern & stops the sleeve from riding up....

adeline coat 6

...and the incredibly cozy, immense shawl collar (very warm, even in the face of the brisk sea wind we were dealing with during the photo session!).

adeline coat 5

i love everything about this coat, and i'm so happy i got to be a test knitter. the level of detail & thought in this pattern is fantastic, and lucy was very helpful with any small questions that came up. i've been saving this yarn for ages for the "perfect" pattern - and i'm so pleased that i kept it for this stunning knit.

adeline coat 2

(the photographer's assistant was also impressed).

Thursday, December 03, 2009

my 15 minutes

here's the excitement for today - a crew from newsnight scotland was filming in some of the studios in west kilbride, for an upcoming item about crafting in scotland, with some of us crafters in the west kilbride craft town. i wasn't super-excited about being on tv, but had agreed to be "background" - i thought this would mean a few quick pans over the dyed & drying yarn, maybe a shot or two of the spinning wheel, something nice & colourful that they could use as background for a voiceover, and then they'd move on. alas, i was quite, quite wrong - they were in my studio for about 45 minutes of "could we get some shots of you spinning?" (good thing i wore my nice socks!) and "could you stir this dyepot?" and "could you stand over here & skein up this yarn?" and so on, and so on....

.... and then they asked me to talk. on camera. faint...

so, just in case you need to know when not to watch newsnight scotland, i'll be embarrassing myself on tv at some point during the week of 14th december (i don't know the exact date yet). please avoid all screenings of this show during that week, just in case - i know i won't be watching!!