Odd socks

Last week I bought some beautiful Noro sock yarn from the Knitting and Stitching show.

DSC_4864Here’s the result of my first attempt at sock-knitting. It’s a much more enjoyable and interesting process than I’d previously thought, and made especially easy by Charlene Schurch and her book ‘Sensational Knitted Socks’. She’s basically done all the possible calculations you might need to knit a sock regarding guage, fit and pattern variations, and then put them in handy charts.

While I was teaching new knitters to cast on at Ally Pally, I got a lesson myself from a very kind Danish lady on how to knit continental style. Instead of holding the yarn in the right hand, as I was first taught, she, along with much of Europe, knits with the yarn in the left. Once you’ve got the hang of it, this is supposed to be the most efficient and fastest method, although I think I need to finish the other sock before my brain gets round the switch.DSC_4865

One side effect of the Noro yarn coming in beautifully graduated colours is the difficulty in making two socks roughly the same. Here’s my second attempt at starting sock no. 2 – which came with the realisation that ball no. 2 was wound in the opposite direction to ball no. 1.

See?

DSC_4867But I figure that the colour scheme isn’t crazy enough to warrant worrying about matching them up. They’ll be odd, but in an endearing, eccentric way, not in a ‘where’s the other sock?’ way. Let’s hope my Dad* thinks so anyway when he unwraps them.

*don’t worry, he doesn’t read my blog so his Christmas present will still be a surprise

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Tweed swiggle

tweed4

I’ve started another swiggle piece (here’s the original design, the first swiggle jumper and its progress – one, two, three), this time a birthday present for my mum, who will be sixty in September. I went for Rowan tweed yarn in a mossy green and cream. Since the yarn is a bit thicker than what was used for this design before, the design is bigger and I’m reworking my original ‘pattern’ (I say ‘pattern’ because it’s shamefully strewn between various notebooks and sheafs of paper, many of which have uncertain whereabouts).

This time I’m making sure to remember exactly what’s already been done by literally attaching notes to the knitting on luggage labels. It’s the only way.

Thursday’s paradigm knit

Having been a bit lax about posting lately, I’ve given myself a pinch this week. I started this blog and want to continue it because  a) I want to post things that I think others would find interesting/ inspiring/ helpful and give something back to the huge online pool of amazing talent and work that I dip into so much, b) I have a poor memory and need an easily accessible archive full of images to remind myself what I’ve been doing and making and c) my self-motivation varies hugely from obsessive and hyper about getting something done to chewing nails and staring into space – I wanted a long-term project that would keep both it and me going. However, being in that uninspired, flat state of mind makes it difficult to write or photograph or DO anything.

So.. the point of this particular post is to have a regular feature that I have to post every week because ..otherwise that bomb on the bus*/ milk float** will go BOOM!! and Bruce Willis*/ Father Ted** won’t be around to help this time.

Anyway.

Every Thursday I’ll post a new design with a little bit about its source of inspiration. The design might be taken directly from a historical piece of knitting, adapted from another medium e.g. ceramics or emerge from the jelly-like substance of the sea on the surface of the planet Solaris.

Here, like this:

Oak leaf design

leafsample

A new knitting pattern, taken from a piece of embroidery in Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire. The yarn is Jamiesons of Shetland spindrift in ‘moss’ and ‘scotch broom’.

Detail of a framed cushion cover of crimson silk worked in long-armed, cross or tent-stiches with various types of oak leaves. From the Paved Room, Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire.

leafdesign

*popular culture reference for the general readership

**popular culture reference for Aunty Penny

Square Dance

Remember that commission I mentioned aaages ago? Well, I finished, wrapped and waved it off in April.

Now, two months on, having allowed any suspense I may have hoped to build up to whither and die (sigh), here’s a post to tell you (and remind me) what it was exactly that I made.

Ready?

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Ta da!

blanket1blanket

An excellent friend commissioned this blanket for her friend’s first baby. We settled on bamboo wool in cream, yellow and grey, and simple squares in garter stitch so it would be the same on both sides. Before sewing it together I photographed different patterns to help decide the layout, and ended up making this stop motion animation film in the process.

Mitred squares

Here’s my (slightly) modified version of Aunty Penny’s pattern for a mitred square. These measurements are specifically to make a 10x10cm square in Debbie Bliss ‘Angel’ mohair yarn.

Debbie Bliss kindly donated this and lots of other beautiful yarn to The Mill, so we’ve been putting it to good use for our group piece for the forthcoming Softer textiles exhibition.squares

Abbreviations

k – knit

k2tog – knit two together

sl1 – slip 1

psso – pass slip stitch over

Cast on 31 sts on size 5mm needles.

Row 1 and every following alternate row: Knit.

Row 2: k14, sl1, k2tog, psso, k14.

Row 4: k13, sl1, k2tog, psso, k13.

Row 6 and all following alternate rows: Continue reducing in the same way, with decreased stitches forming central diagonal line, until 3 stitches remain.

Following row: sl1, k2tog, psso.

Cut yarn and pass end through loop.square

Many thanks to Aunty Penny for putting me on to this. Here’s her original, excellent advice:

20th April 2013

“I just discovered an interesting way of knitting squares, where you decrease a stitch in the middle of each row, forming a diagonal, as follows.
Cast on an odd number of stitches, 2n+1
Row 1: knit n-1 stitches, slip 1, k1, psso, knit
Row 2: as row 1
Row 3: knit n-2 stitches, slip 1, k1, psso, knit
Row 4: as row 3
Continue until there is only 1 stitch. You can either pull this through, or start on a new square by picking up n stitches along one of the edges of the first square and casting on a further n.”

24th April

“Re my comment of 20th April on diagonal squares, I’ve just been trying different decreases, knit 2 together or knit 2 together through back of loops, and for garter stitch it doesn’t seem to matter which one you do as long as it’s always the middle stitch and the stitch before that you knit together and you are consistent. These squares are particularly fetching in rainbow yarn.

I’ve also noticed that it’s a way to get a scalloped edging. Instead of carrying on decreasing until you’ve got one stitch remaining, you stop sooner and then just knit straight.”

Wool House II

After quite a busy week I’ve finally got round to uploading my pictures from a second visit to the Wool House, last Friday. I’ll try to be better in future, I promise.

The rooms of Wool House were put together by different artists and designers, with a bedroom, lounge and nursery, amongst others.

These were my two favourites, Natural Room by Josephine Ryan and Nursery by Donna Wilson. I liked the first for its fairytale-like sinister edge (Little Red Riding Hood’s Grandma’s woodland cottage), the second for it’s soporific dreaminess (the designer’s alternative to adding brandy to the baby’s bottle) and both for their all-encompassing warmth and imaginative design. Walking into them practically felt like being hugged by the fleecy walls.

wool1wool2wool4wool6wool5wool7wool8wool9

Wool House

woolhouseYesterday I chanced across the ‘Wool House’ at Somerset House. The week-long exhibition and series of events set up by the Campaign for Wool is dedicated to all things wooly. During my brief visit I had a spinning lesson with Sheila from Dovecot Studios and bumped into a familiar face from The Handweavers Studio. I’m going back this morning for more, armed with a camera. I’m just so sad to have missed the sheep parade!

The exhibition finishes this Sunday, 24th March. Go to the Wool House‘s or Somerset House‘s website for more details. Catch it before it goes!

A commission!

I’m off to gather materials for a knitting commission. Stitches and finishing techniques were running through my head before I opened my eyes this morning.. excitement has officially kicked in. I’m sworn to secrecy for now and can’t reveal any details just yet.. so here’s a nice picture of a cat named Billy in the meantime.

billy