Wednesday, 19 December 2007


Another step towards feeling really at home in the new house has occurred - I've blocked my first project on my new study floor...

I'm really pleased with how Clapotis finally turned out (after a few false starts over the last couple of years). I made the narrower version, more of a scarf than a wrap and it's going to be very wearable.
The yarn is Colinette Banyan and the colourway is Copperbeech. I love the yarn, the cotton/viscose blend looks and feels as if it will gently fade with age producing a lived-in look. It certainly gave up a lot of dye during wet-blocking, both in the water and onto the towels as it dried. The colours were beautiful in the skein and ball but are even better knitted up.

I dearly wanted to knit a sweater next and have been eagerly eyeing the gathered pullover from the current Interweave Knits. Sadly life seems to have other ideas. Our new house is fairly draughty so practicality has won out and I'm improvising a felted draught excluder. Pictures to follow if it all works out OK.

It's finally become properly cold here - the other morning there was a beautiful sky as I sat eating my breakfast, but on my way to work I saw that the canal has frozen over for the first time this year. Now that the weather is cold, I'm starting to feel a bit more Christmassy...

Hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and New Year as I can't see me getting back to the blog before the start of January.

Monday, 10 December 2007

New home and new socks

Finally, there has been a happy coincidence of good light, a camera and time to use it.

Here are some of my favourite bits of my new home:

This cupboard and window in the sitting room,

The details and cornicing on the ceilings,

The light fitting in the sitting room,

My new yarn storage - two drawers for yarn, two for fabric and two for beading and other supplies,

The bay window in our bedroom,

The stained glass round the front door.

I also managed to photograph my new socks - I'm calling them muted berries as the colour reminds me of a pale version of blueberries and raspberries etc.

They're a modification on my usual pattern but I've kept a 3x1 rib down the leg and over the top of the instep. They fit very well and the yarn, Acaraunia Ranco, is wonderful to knit with.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Out with the old...

... in with the new.

The Resident Radiologist and I have moved home at long last and I've spent the last four days shifting boxes and assembling Ikea wardrobes (now I know why electric screwdrivers were invented, the problem is if I get one now, I'll probably never need it again!). We're fairly much settled in and unpacked now, and have just to dispose of the mountain of cardboard we seem to have accrued.

The knitting is absolutely non-existant currently. Just before we moved, I finished the socks I was working on and started Clapotis (for about the third time, never the right combination of yarn and needles), this time in Colinette Banyan, colourway Copperbeech. I think this time I'll make it through to completion as long as I don't run out of yarn before I have a reasonable length of scarf. I've just got to find the bag I put her in...

Photos to follow once some more unpacking has occurred.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

A request and finishing #3:

Firstly a request for any American readers out there:

I had my first taste of candied yams today (10% of the students at the Vet School where I work are American and to mark Thanksgiving, the refectory put on a traditional thanksgiving lunch) and I absolutely loved them. Could someone who knows about these things please post a recipe for them in the comments? It would be much appreciated.

And now to another FO:

Black and grey socks for the resident radiologist, knitted to my usual pattern on 2.5mm DPNs. The yarn is Trekking XXL which he picked out for himself from A Good Yarn when we were on holiday in Boston in August.

Initially they were a bit short in the foot for him, but after a bit of ripping back and re-knitting, they now fit nicely. Apparently Splat approves too.

Our house move is rapidly approaching - we shall be moving a week tomorrow providing the last few legal bugs are sorted. Consequently, my knitting has taken a bit of a back seat. All I seem capable of at the moment are socks so that's what my current WIP is too.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Finishing #2:

Another long-time WIP has moved into the FO category this week:

The Tendrils Purse:

When I knitted tendrils, I had part of a skein of yarn left over and I was loath to waste it so I adapted the pattern and knitted a short stretch of fabric for a purse. This was some time ago - the same week I finished Tendrils in fact. Since then it has languised in a bag waiting for some time and the attention of the sewing machine.

On Tuesday evening, when the machine was out for the French Market Bag, I remembered the Tendrils purse and resurrected her. I sewed a purse lining using some cream silk fabric unpicked from a worn-out shirt that the Resident Radiologist's parents had made for him 27 years ago in China. I then set a short zip into the top by hand (this was a new technique for me - I usually use the machine, but this was too small and fiddly).

Finally, I sewed the short sides of the knitted fabric to the zip and seamed the edges with mattress stitch.

I'm pretty pleased with the results and the purse looks great with the wrap.

Now all it needs is a loop of ribbon to go over my wrist, but that could take some time...

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Finishing #1:

I may have said this before, but there's something incredibly satisfying about finishing things. Over the last couple of days I've been on a bit of a finishing spree, including proper finishing that included needles and thread as well as the finishing socks kind of finishing.

Here is the finished French Market Bag:

I lined it with some Pucci-inspired swirly fabric I had in my stash that I think tones beautifully with the knitted fabric.

I turned the bag (which has a square base) inside out over a conveniently-sized box and measured up for the lining.

I sewed the lining up on the machine, then attached the lining to the bag by hand, tacking in the corners then going round the top in whipstitch while the outer was still stretched over the box (made things much simpler).

I'm really very pleased with how it's turned out.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Super Speedy

Well, it seems that when my yarn knows what it wants, it really knows what it wants!

The baby alpaca had itself knitted up into the French Market Bag in no time at all... in fact, it went so fast that it was in the machine being felted before I realised that I hadn't taken the 'before' shot. Never mind, suffice to say that in a short 60C cycle, it felted beautifully and shrunk by approximately 50%.

The 'after' shot shows the lovely dense texture of the felted alpaca. I'm not going to have to worry about the handles stretching or losing things through the fabric. Although the bag doesn't need it, I have decided to line it, I think that this will produce a more professional finish and I have a fantastic fabric in my stash which coordinates beautifully - more photos to follow (provided that I'm not too embarassed by lumpy lining or squint seams).

Finally, the other up side to all this - the bag only used a ball and a half of yarn so I've still got another ball and a half to play with!

Friday, 9 November 2007

Oh Wow!

Have you seen the latest Interweave Knits yet? I looked at the online preview on Wednesday and within a few hours, had nipped out to K1 yarns and secured myself a copy (have to move fast on this one - it always sells out pretty quickly).

I'm not usually a bit magazine fan - I've occasionally used patterns from magazines, but mostly my patterns come from the web or books. This time though, I'm hooked!

Here are my must-make patterns (in current favourite order)...

Sweater girl pullover,

Gathered pullover,

Ive League Vest,

Celtic Tote,

Tilting Cable Socks.

This is clearly going to play havoc with my current list of potential projects, especially since I don't have the yarn for any of them. Grumph!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Does yarn know its own mind?

... it certainly seems to in my hands! Yesterday evening I went home and ripped out the second abortive attempt at a tank top with my baby alpaca yarn, wound it into a ball and stopped thinking. A couple of hours later, without, apparently, much input from me, this had materialised:

The base of the French Market Bag!

This was knitted on DPN's and then a circular needle and was produced in approximately a quarter of the time it had taken me to achieve similar progress on the tank top. It would seem that the yarn knew what it wanted to be and started cooperating once I had agreed with it! If the rest of the bag goes as well, I might be felting by the weekend...

NB My test swatch went into the washing machine this morning before I left for work so I don't yet know if this yarn will actually felt (it's alpaca so it should). If not, it will be back to the frog pond for a third time.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Yarn, Glorious Yarn

Amazing, the fun that can be had, winding up fresh balls of yarn and distracting myself from the never-ending farce that is the tank top!

I think that the tank top is over, at least for the moment. I've knitted myself back to the point where I tried it on last time and found that it was too big, and once again (despite being 30 stitches shorter in the round) it's still the same size. I'm beginnning to suspect that the length of the circular needle is having a major role in dictating the gauge I'm getting. Anyway - regardless of anything else, the baby alpaca is for the frog pond once again.

In the midst of this realisation, there was some solace... new, unripped, still-skeined yarn to wind and a new project on the horizon. This is my unbloggable project so these are probably the last pictures you'll see of it for a while, but suffice to say that it was cast on last night (well - the foundation row was laid, I'm not sure if cast on is appropriate in crochet), and progress was made. The yarn is Rowanspun 4 ply that I won in Ali's blog competition back in April. The colours immediately suggested a design to me and I've been saving them for this project ever since.

Newsflash - all is not lost for the baby alpaca. I've just come across a pattern I've been meaning to knit for ages and it would be perfect in this yarn. I've even got all the right needles, it's as if it's meant to be!

Friday, 2 November 2007

Little things

Well, it's Friday again and I couldn't honestly tell you where the time has gone. My working weeks seem to just get eaten out from under me - I think it might be the new students, they sap my strength, my resilience and my will to live in their first couple of months.

Some knitting has been achieved this week - the resident radiologist's socks were finished but they're a little too snug in the toes so I'm going to have to rip back a little and knit them a little longer.

The alpaca tank top has also had a trip to the frog-pond. My suspicions about its girth were correct and at The Big Knit Out, I put it on to an extra needle so I could try it on and it came up too big (by about 5 inches!). So it was ripped and restarted with 30 fewer stitches in the round. The problem I now have is that the gauge has changed, so where before I was getting 6 stitches per inch over 200 stitches (= 33.3 inches approx) , I'm now getting 5 stitches per inch over 170 stitches (=34 inches) so if anything it's getting bigger! I'm going to carry on for another few inches and if it doesn't look any better, then it's back for another dip in the frog pond.

There have been a couple of little sucesses:

A little knitted voodoo doll for the Big Knit Out...

And a little flower crocheted out of some left-over Koigu that seemed to stitch itself in a few idle minutes.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Time flies like an arrow....

...and fruit flies like a banana (as my old PhD supervisor used to say!).

The Resident Radiologist and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary this weekend (though we're not entirely sure where the time has gone) with an overnight stay in Kingussie and dinner at The Cross, a fabulous five star restaurant in a converted mill in the village. It was a very relaxed way to spend the weekend and I can heartily recommend both the B&B where we stayed, and The Cross restaurant, which sources most of its produce locally.

On the way home, we stopped at the Hermitage, off the A9 near Dunkeld for a walk up past Ossian's Hall, up to Ossian's Cave. It was an absolutely beautiful autumn morning with a blue sky and the Black Linn Falls were in full flow.

These are a few of the sights though nothing can really capture the force (or noise) of water flowing from a broadish stretch of river, over falls about 20 feet deep then squeezing through a gap only three feet wide to another broadish stretch on the other side.

The knitting has gone kind of quiet again. I've almost finished another pair of socks for the RR and have cast on in alpaca 4ply for a tank top. The jury is out on the potential sucess of the tank top at the moment, I've done a provisional cast on then picked up the stitches to begin knitting under the bust - I'll go back and finish down to the waist once I'm happy with the top section. I cast on the number of stitches indicated by my swatch but it's looking fairly large at the moment. Perhaps this is just the provisional cast-on creating mischief, but then again, perhaps it will need ripping out and starting over again. Only time will tell!

Friday, 19 October 2007

Friday Eye Candy

Just look at these! Aren't they really cute?

I've seen them before at Woolfest, little baby balls of sock yarn for little baby socks, but managed to resist. At knitting night however, all resistance failed. Katherine, the owner of our local LYS brought them along so that we could knit voodoo dolls to ease the anguish of (or at least cheer up) one of our fellow knitters who has been accused of something so preposterous that I won't even give it blog-space here.

On the dwindling-stash front, I've visited the storage unit that my yarn currently resides in and extracted (to the not-inconsiderable amusement of the guys working there who probably don't often see random women raking through boxes of yarn outside one of the units) three skeins of Catalina Baby Alpaca DK, two skeins of Colinette Jitterbug and some Rowanspun 4 ply.

The DK and the Jitterbug are both going to be swatched with a view to becoming a tank-top (yes, I'm still worrying away at that idea) and the 4 ply is for an un-bloggable project. This is a new thing for me but suffice to say that I'm aware that some close family members have been known to lurk in the vicinity of this blog...

Finally, I'm now on Ravelry. For anyone wanting to visit me there, I'm known as MaryD in those parts!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Still here...

... but not really knitting much. Things have gone crazy busy at work at the moment - new grant to establish a project for and new PhD students to settle in and teach where to find things and how to do things.

On top of this our house-move is rolling along with the moving date set for the 30th November so I think that by the time my students have found their feet and I regain a bit of time for my own work, the move will be on top of us.

On the plus side, Glasgow is beautiful at the moment. The leaves have turned autumn colours and are falling off the trees and the weather is crisp and clear.

I have a pair of socks on the go for the Resident Radiologist but they're just my usual pattern and nothing much to look at yet so no photos until they're done I'm afraid. Tonight is knitting night so there might be some significant progress made - on the other hand, I might just eat the fabulous scone, drink the hot chocolate and natter about knitting, life and the universe instead!

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Welly-boot weather

Well, it's that time of year again when walking up the hill to work means wearing welly boots to prevent my trouser legs from being soaked half-way to my knees. You'd have thought that sometime in the last four years, the council would have realised that if they cleared the ditch at the side of the path, then the water from the field drain would not run straight over the top of the stuff in the ditch and down the pavement in torrents! It's been happening for so long that there is actually a water groove worn into the tarmac.

Sadly, this very wet weather doesn't mean that it's cold enough yet for this...

or this...

or these...

I'd finished the hat and scarf with a ball of yarn left over so I improvised some mittens, then ran out of yarn with one thumb left to knit! I had to unpick the cuffs of the mittens to get enough yarn to finish off, something which was much trickier that I thought it would be and which I don't want to have to repeat.
The hat and scarf are from the Twilley's Freedom Spirit Book and the whole set is knitted from Twilley's Freedom Spirit in the Force colourway. I used 5 balls of yarn with NOTHING left over.

Finally a little tastey bite that I made for the group meeting today at work. We have a system whereby whoever is giving the seminar provides the snacks and today is my turn.

Blueberry and raspberry muffins and banana, nut and seed loaf.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

In the meantime...

It looks like it could be a while until I'm going to get my invite to ravelry:
  • You signed up on August 9, 2007
  • You are #24190 on the list.
  • 2331 people are ahead of you in line.
  • 14406 people are behind you in line.
  • 56% of the list has been invited so far.
... so while I'm waiting, here's another pretty picture.

This is Wisp in her fully finished state. I'm not entirely pleased with the blocking - the sides are meant to be straight but I didn't have that many pins and anyway, I think that anything stretched out with pins is going to come out a bit peaked. I think I'm going to need blocking wires for this sort of project. I don't know where I can buy these over here but my father is an engineer so some 1.5mm round stainless steel rod should be fairly easy to come by! The buttons are very lightweight shell ones from the Button Lady at Woolfest this year. She can be buttoned up as shown, short side to long side to form a wrap, or wrapped round the neck and buttoned short end to short end to form a muffler. She can also be folded in half and the eyelets on one side laced together with ribbon to form a hood. A very versatile piece of lace indeed.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Is it a bird?

Is it a plane?

Well, it certainly isn't a tank top!

This doesn't happen to me very often, but I just couldn't get gauge and didn't want to have to start recalculating the pattern to a different gauge (knitting is my escape from thinking at the moment) so I had a flick through the pattern book and found a couple of patterns for which I was hitting the gauge perfectly and for which I had enough yarn.

Introducing the beret...

and the multidirectional scarf...

The beret was really fun to knit. The pattern gave directions for knitting it flat and then sewing it up, but this didn't seem to make sense for something so essentially round, so I worked it on circular needles, then DPNs once the circumference was reduced enough.

I couldn't really see how the scarf worked initally but since the pattern made no mention of picking up stitches (something I avoid if I can except in socks) I gave it a go. It's actually really simple and good fun. Whenever I'm making something with such simple but effective design, I'm always left wondering how it was worked out in the first place. The finished solution may be elegant and simple, but I would imagine the conception was fairly involved!

Finally, the Twilley's Freedom Spirit yarn (100% wool) was lovely to use, if a bit splitty and isn't at all itchy. I do think that it might be a bit warm for a layering jumper though.