Monday, 31 December 2007

Halfbreed Headover

I'm not quite sure what this one is inspired by, I can imagine it as part of a costume, with long pointy ears and that sort of thing, I can also see it as a hat in its own right. I'm going to add a few black and silver beads to the plaits, otherwise I think its done.

What kind of yarn are you?

What kind of yarn are you?

You are Dishcloth Cotton.You are a very hard worker, most at home when you're at home. You are thrifty and seemingly born to clean. You are considered to be a Plain Jane, but you are too practical to notice.
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Sunday, 30 December 2007

More Pixie Hats

I'm frantically knitting pixie hats on the train on the way to and from work in the morning, its good, easily interrupted work for that and I did really well with this design last year so I'm stocking up while I have the chance. I like the green and brown stripes I used for these two, nice cosy woodland shades.

The Dwarven Battle Bonnet!

This may be, just possibly, one of the daftest hats I've ever made. Its intended as stock for the Live Roleplaying market in February, and was pretty much made up as I went along, with a nod of thanks to this image which gave me some ideas for shaping the beard . I'm going to very lightly full it to firm up the knit now, just hope it survives the process!

Welsh Knitters Map

Just for a bit of fun, this is a Frappr map for knitters in Wales

Thursday, 27 December 2007

It is going to be a busy year

I spent a little bit of time today filling in events, sales, shows and so forth in the new 2008 diary, only to realise that once the various events kick off in mid february I don't get a weekend at home for over 6 weeks.

Not that its a problem, all good fun stuff, but it does have a knock on effect on trying out new pattern ideas and restocking, so I can forsee a very busy January as I try to stockpile enough of everything to see me through.

The first big sale will be a Live Roleplaying Market for which I need to make a whole new batch of felted pointy hats, though I also have some ideas for interesting knitted items that might possibly go down well with this audience. Going to have huge fun working on this lot.

I did manage to knit a hat on Christmas Day by way of after dinner excercise, haven't fulled it yet though so picture to follow. Was bask at work today, must admit I would have much rather have been knitting. oops.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Got my Ravelry invite today

Am having an enforced day off knitting due to a stinking cold, so it was a nice surprise to get my Ravelry invite through. Just had a good look round the site and it does look like a useful resource, have already met some almost local knitters. Not sure if I'm disciplined enough to load up details of teh wool stash, but I can see a lot of useful material in the various patterns and ideas sections already.

Simple Swirls Hat

I knitted this neat cap that has a spiral swirl effect using two strands of double knitting held together, I think an aran yarn or anything in that broad weight would also work fine. Its a very simple pattern and will be flexible to a broad range of yarns and guages. I made this in superwash, but for my next one I'll use aran wight wool and will full lightly then block for a smoother neater finish. I think it took about 100g or a little less, so a good stashbuster for an odd skein.

Using 5mm dp needles, cast on 100 stitches (25 per needle) and join without twisting.
Work 2:2 rib for 12 rows
Work plain stockinette for another 8 rows

Now start the swirly pattern:
Row 1: K2tog at start of needle, purl three, knit to end of needle.
Row 2: Knit two, purl three, knit to end of needle
Row 3: Knit one , k2tog, purl three, knit to end of needle
Row 4: Knit three, purl three, knit to end of needle
Row 5 and to finish: knit two, k2tog, purl 3, knit to end of needle
The last couple of rows will be almost all purl, but it makes sense when you get there.
Finish any loose ends, and wash and block lightly to smooth the shape (my pic is pre-blocking).

Monday, 17 December 2007

His n Hers hats and pattern

Went to the Downsizer weekend and had a lovely time knitting whilst catching up with friends. Today I finished and blocked these hats which will be Christmas presents for my parents. Both in Rowan Magpie, which is a sadly discontinued aran weight pure wool. Very simple pattern which I made up as I went along but which goes something like this if you fancy trying it:

5mm needles, cast on 96 or 100 stitches (4 needles of 24 or 25 depending on size) in pure wool aran weight.
Work in the round about 15 rows of moss stittch
work about 17 rows of stocking stitch
one row of purl
two rows plain
three rows moss
two rows plain
one row purl
Start decreasing twice per needle in the third round for I think three repeats
Purl a row
decrease twice per needle in every other row for probably three repeats again (whenever it looks right basically), purl a row
continue decreasing in the same manner to finish.
Lightly machine wash the hat to slightly full it, then block to shape.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Oops, the stash got bigger

I had a minor lapse of willpower and bought 1100g of discontinued Rowan Magpie, which I love for its well behaved knitting and felting qualities, and, um, 8.5 kilos of 4ply on ebay today. I may have got another bit of Rowan coming too.
Gareth is going to kill me when he sees it.
Oh well, have just had this half-hour hat recommended to me, so I may have to try it to show willing.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Hat with purple and daisies

Today, this is what I am working on. Its mostly done, just need a few more daisies on the band and if it all dries overnight it can go in the post tomorrow.

Friday, 7 December 2007

This week I have mostly been...

...getting back into the swing of work, which is fine, but I'm incredibly tired when I get in, and trying to keep up with orders and knitting Christmas presents. I'm afraid I havent been photographing as I go, its just been too manic. This week has seen a hat, two pairs of silk stockings, several pairs of woollen hose and a pair of thick slipper socks come off my needles. I have several pairs more stockings to do, and a pointy hat. I really should be doing more knitting in the evening, but sitting in a heap then going to bed early is so tempting.
Will try to do better next week and post some pictures.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Been a busy month

Havent posted much lately, I've been taking some time off work and as a result I've been away from home a lot catching up on research and spending time with family. Not that I havent been busy, I've knitted several caps, most of which still need fulling, but our washing machine has broken down and I won't get a new one for a couple of weeks I suspect.

However, I have made this Hogswatch hat as an order. I'm quite pleased with it I think.

I've also been photographing part of my silk yarn stash to allow a friend to select the shades she wants for some silk stockings. The colours are so pretty, I thought I'd post the picture here too:

I've also had an offer of a new sock machine! I'm so very excited. Won't get it til february, and no way to know if it will work, but its so exciting to have the chance to try to return another machine to active working order. I'm thrilled and rather overwhelmed by the generosity of the person who has offered it to me.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Back from the Living History Fair

Back from the Living History Fair and I was extremely pleased with eth response I got to the new hats. Sold a fair number and they all went to people who really will get loads of wear out of them, so good warm happy stuff all round. Got a couple of commissions to keep me out of mischief too which is always pleasant.

I really need to do a proper sort out of all the hats now and maybe list some on ebay in the run-up to Christmas, there are a few that I'm fed up with and it would be nice tos end them to new homes.

Will try to get some pictures up of new yarns and projects soon, last few posts have been text only and not that visually interesting. Sorry about that!

Monday, 15 October 2007

Knitting and the Environment

Today is Blog Action Day, and this year's theme is the environment so today I'm thinking particularly about how choices I make in some of my crafts can reflect an awareness of the impact we have on the world.

On the surface of it, knitting looks like a very low impact activity, but have a little think about some of the things we choose to use.

Where does our yarn come from, is it natural fibre or manmade. If manmade where does the raw material come from, is it a sustainable source, does it have any pollutants associated with it? If natural, has the fibre been raised ethically, dyed with care for the environment, produced in energy efficient ways, transported round the world? How was it packaged, was there loads to go in the bin once we'd unwrapped it?

What about the tools of the trade? What are your knitting needles made from, what is their story?

So, what should I tighten up on myself? I already make a concious effort to use wool produced in this country as far as practical, but I also pick up bargains on ebay or in sales when I can. So I clearly have room for improvement in being a little more focussed on sourcing. Most of my knitting needles are secondhand or home-made, so I don't feel any need to worry too much about them, they will last me a lifetime I would think.My sock machine is already a hundred years old and is muscle powered, probably doesnt come much more eco friendly than that for a machine. I do however use some chemical dyes. I try to be extremely concious of details like measureing so they attach fully to the yarn and don''t go down the drain when the dyebath is finished, I also use a lot of natural dyes but I should grow or locally collect more. I do spin, but recently time hasn't let me do as much as I should. Ideally I'd like to switch from using bought yarn to handspun entirely, that way I can use fleece produced locally, but saying that, I sell a lot of my work so I need to balance the market against what I make and sadly fewer people will pay the extra for a handspun yarn on top of handknit work.

All in all, I think its probably a case of continuing to think clearly about my choices when I pick a new yarn or consider new needles. International trade per se is not a bad thing, I do sell odd garments overseas and hope to continue to do so, but choosing local for day to day needs is undoubtably a better option, and whilst I see lots of room for improvement in the ethical choices I make when knitting, I don't think its too bad all things considered.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Knitting tension

I've noticed that when I'm stressed I knit smaller, tighter, faster stitches than when I'm calm. Annoyingly this is often accompanied by a slightly artificial, inefficient breathing pattern that doesnt do my overall mood any good.

So, I'm going to try to turn that round and see if deliberately knitting at a controlled, relaxed pace helps unwind me when life is being awkward.

Anyone else find their knitting tension matches their mood?

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Silly Fifteenth Century Hat

Here's the red hat I was working on last week, all fulled and finished. Its based on some fifteenth century french illustrations of ultra fashionable young men in the silliest hats ever. I'm quite pleased with it :)

Have also made a couple more plain hats, a brown tudor one and a blue scots bonnet. Really ought to get on with some socks, and some dyeing, but hats are easier to fit into the day at the moment.

Had a delivery of dark brown Hebridean wool today too, two weights, same natural shade. Got to try both on the sock machine and see how it goes when I get a moment.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Knitting on the train

I knit on the train to work most mornings. A week or so ago a friend in the States sent me this badge, so I wore it on my jacket, whilst doing my usual knitting for a few days. I swear I got far more funny looks with this tiny little badge pinned to my lapel than I ever normally do if I'm just getting on with my knitting.

I didn't think it was that subversive a concept!

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Lavender socks

Just finished a pair of mock rib short socks in a combination of light purple and a grey-green that reminds me of lavender plants. Got a splitting headache so not sure how much other knitting I'll get done tonight, buts its good to have these done.

The photo doesn't show the colour well sadly, the colours are much more subtle in real life.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

This may look like a bodged sock...

...and to a point, it is. This is the pair to the spindleberry socks previously noted, and I somehow managed to knit it about 8 rows short. So, once I stopped cursing, I rehung it below the toe on the sock machine and did that bit again. At least, I hope I got it right. Won't know til I sew it up and unpick the reject part. (The white bit is waste yarn that normally seperates one sock from the next)

Tonight I'm also knitting bright mustard yellow extra long wool stockings as part of an order. Wonder if they are to wear with cross gartering?

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Earflaps Cap

Had a constructive weekend, went to my parents so got lots of evening knitting time in and made almost three caps by the time I got home. Two are split brim Tudor caps like the previous post, one in black and one in a white Jacob wool which will be madder dyed in due course. Also made this Earflaps cap, again based on some I examined at the V&A earlier in the summer.

Have just started some fiery red wool I bought on ebay, its a 'double scotch' yarn which seems to mean that its made of an awful lot of thinner threads rather than be

ing an obvious two or three ply in teh usual way. I suspect it will felt really well, so I'm going to have a go at a conjectural knitted sugarloaf cap.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Some hats are very hard to photograph

I always find this style of hat particularly hard to photograph, and this example even more so than usual.

This is a sixteenth century 'flat cap' based on some that I went to study at the V&A museum earlier this year. Its a little different to the standard pattern for these seen on the re-enactment circuit in as much as this has a single thickness brim with overlapping splits or 'petals' might be a better description worked into it. The single thickness stockinette tends to want to curl, so it needs very heavy fulling and prolonged pressing after knitting to get it to not curl up in wear, and I just can't get the photo to convey that at all.

When worn, these need to be very much perched on the head, and my glass hat stand is really a little small to show this off properly so its gone a bit floppy. Still, it was a lovely yarn to work with, a thick, slightly coarse undyed Welsh wool that appeared from the cone to be of some vintage but which washed up beautifully. I'm hoping to have time to make several more in this pattern before the National Living History Fair at Warwick in October.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Abandoning housework in favour of knitting

You will frequently hear me bemoaning how disgraceful my housekeeping skills are, and you probably won't believe that I really mean it, so heres a picture of the sock machine with plenty of assorted wreckage in the background.

I'm contantly embarrassed by just how much clutter I manage to generate, its not as if I never tidy up, it just doesnt seem to last more than 10 seconds. I lie awake at night and fantasise about waking up to a tidy house, but the house-elf seems to be on strike. I promise that the next time I take a picture of the sock machine it won't be against such a revolting backdrop.

On a tidier note, I've just pulled this hat out of the washing machine after its shrink cycle, it was an odd ball of Icelandic wool I had with a lovely dark kempy fleck in it, and I knit this one top down so I could just knit til the ball of yarn ran out. Its made avery nice simple roll brim cap which would probably work for some re-enactment outfits as well as being nice and snug for winter wear.

Spindleberry hat and socks

This week's knitting seems to have been inspired by the colours of spindleberries, Autumn must be on my mind!

The pixie hat is one of my stock patterns, I knit a lot of these for my shop but I love playing with colours. This started out as two cones of single yarn from a Scottish mill, each by themselves were nice shades but not inspiring, but knitted together I got a lovely chunky tactile yarn that was a true pleasure to knit, and which after a good fulling in the washing machine has tightened up into a hat I'm really pleased with.

Also on the needles are a slightly experimental pair of socks. My circular sock machine does have a ribber, but I can't quite get the hang of it, one day it works fine, the next day it doesn't, so for these I've hand knitted the cuff (kept me happily occupied on the train to work) then transferred the live stitches to the sock machine and cranked the foot using that.
I'm pleased with the first one, I still have ends to weave in, and it will need washing and blocking once the second sock is done, but again, warm, strong colours and a very nice yarn. This is some of teh Cygnet woolrich sock yarn, 75% wool 25% polyamide which wears and washed well and does come in very nice shades.

I'm also cranking out knee high wool stockings for the re-enactors market in a month, but I'll post more about them when I have a load of them worth showing off!

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Yep, its another knitting blog...

I know I already scatter bits of my knitting all over the web, but I thought it would be quite interesting to try out a blog as a way to keep track of what I've got on the needles and to prove to myself that I do really use yarn almost as fast as I acquire it.

So, a little background. I mostly knit socks and hats, though I've been sorely tempted by this jumper and I think I may have just the yarn squirrelled away for it.

On the whole, I tend to fluctuate between attempting reconstructions of extant historical/archaeological knitting and a love affair with lurid, cheerful yarn that gets knit up into wild welly socks and pixie hats. Its almost always pure wool, though I'm not adverse to other fibres in theory, I just prefer the naturals.

I knit on the way to work, I knit in my lunchbreak, I knit whilst surfing the web. I'm resisting the temptation to start knitting in the bath, so far willpower is working on that one. I also have an antique circular sock machine so some of my socks are done using that.

That will do as an introductory post, more in due course, with pictures!