Sunday, 13 November 2016

Armistice Day

Today we remember our fallen soldiers, those who paid the final price, gave the last full measure, people who literally died to fight fascism, and this yeah I just...can't. I look at poppies and shudder; I listen to people swear they will "never forget their sacrifice" and all I can think is "you're re-creating the world that required it". The Greatest Generation, the people who remember what this looked like first-hand last time, are largely gone from us. To those left I can only apologise. I'm sorry. You gave so much, lost so much, thought you had won so much, and now at the very end it is clear you just delayed it. The only thought that hurts as much, today, is having to hope my children are at least your equals, capable of fighting it back for another 100 years. What a burden we place on them.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

So Much to Knit, So Little Time

One of the things about me being pregnant is that, for the first half of it, I can't knit. Three first trimesters now and three periods of time when the thought of knitting just leaves me cold. I can read and this time I watched a fair amount of Netflix 'cause I couldn't just lay in bed all day but I also wasn't up to getting up and doing anything. So no knitting for the first three months and, this time around, I could and did knit a little in the fourth month but my heart wasn't in it.

Imagine my delight, in September, when I got my knitting mojo back! Except I didn't particularly want to knit any of those boring projects I'd been working on before, no,I wanted shiny new knitting projects and bouncy new yarns to knit them in! I, uh, went way off the rails. For the most part I am aware that I have a bountiful stash with a huge variety of wools and colours, but in September that simply Would Not Do.

It started innocently enough, with the purchase of Ysolda Teague's Inglis mitts which were originally publish in the Edinburgh Yarn Festival magazine back in March, to showcase her new British wool, Blend no. 1. I loved the look of the pattern (and one other in the magazine) but it was only available in dead tree format, not digitally, and I really don't need more Stuff so I didn't buy it, nor did I buy the (small batch) yarn in the hope that I would find something to do with it. Well, having bought the pattern, when Ms Teague announced that she was getting another delivery of Bn1 and it would be available on her website as of this time and date, I was right there (on our holiday), ordering a skein. Chris wanted something to keep his hands warm when typing; I'll knit these for him, I told myself. 

Oh, my goodness! Blend no. 1 seems like a nice enough yarn in the skein and even the cake, but once I started to knit with it and had a few rows of ribbing....wow. Heavenly amounts of squish. I gave the just-started cuff to Chris to squish and he went online to see how many more skeins were available to purchase and started requesting intimate items I could knit for him so he could spend every waking minute figuratively rolling around naked in it. Me, I hoped the mitts would come out small and, darn it, I guess I'd just have to keep them. They didn't. 

The pattern is not overly complicated and has lovely details like the way the ribbing slants across the palm from the thumb gusset and the cuff that can be worn up or down depending on temperature and if you need to use your fingers. The only tricky bit is that, because the patten never repeats and is asymetrical you have to keep checking the charts for both mitts. I could knit while talking to people or watching telly -just glancing at the chart at the start of each round- but it wasn't suitable as a handbag project.


Then, right after I started the Inglis mitts, Ms Teague released the first pattern in her annual Knitworthy series, the Belyse fingerless gloves. It was love at first sight! Which unfortunately wasn't in time to get any of the kits she'd released to knit them in her wool and EasyKnit's Squidge, which is a similar blend of sheepies. I decided that, rather than order from two shops I'd just try to skeins of Squidge. My first several contrast colour choices were sold out (blue and silver again? Me?) but got one I liked and joined the mailing list...and the day my order arrived I got an email saying "wow, we had no idea our wool would be featured in this popular pattern, but we've restocked and even made kits!" Sigh. I still haven't started these, but looking at the pattern again, they're certainly top of the queue. 

I also bought a gradient set on the Big Boy base, as long as I was trying a new-to-me dyer, to make something from Carol Feller's new book "Knitting with Rainbows" which I also bought in September. Only I hadn't looked closely enough at the meterage and it's a bit short for what I had in mind but might work for a hat or mix with a contrast colour for an easy gradient colourwork project. I caked two of the colours together to start and I was surprised how course the yarn is. Will have to plan accordingly.

My other accomplishment in early September was finishing my vanilla, after-thought heel purple stripey socks. One sock appears to have two more stitches than the other as they start off at the same point in the colour sequence and they're the same length, but they end at a very different point. Oops. This is not my bothered face. I've not worn them much as I dropped a stitch picking up one of the heels and it's secured with a safety pin until I get around to sewing it down. They're knit in Opal's "happy" range, "sweet & spicy" colourway on a sparkle base which I ordered last year with two self-striping rainbow colours. I have a lot of sock yarn but I'd have to be dead to pass up sparkly, self-striping rainbows.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Lies Knitters Tell Themselves


A little over a year ago, Blacker Yarns, a small wool producer with their own mill known for championing wool from British breeds of sheep, put out their limited edition 10th anniversary wool, Cornish Tin. It's a blend of their favourite things, and to say it went like hot cakes is to vastly overinflate the popularity of hot cakes. I was lucky enough to get two skeins of the DK, one in a beautiful rich blue and  the other in the undyed silver-grey in the hopes of knitting a stranded colourwork hat, Pleiades by Ann Kingstone. I knew that the yarn she used was a "light" DK - which is to say more of a sport weight except the UK is only just starting to acknowledge a sportweight category - but I was okay with having a large beret. Unfortunately, what I knew I would have a different stitch gauge, I hadn't thought through the implications of the different row gauges and my beautiful beret came out as a pixi hat. It was, ah, unfortunate. 

So I frogged it and put it back in my stash while I looked for just the right project for my two very special skeins of Cornish Tin. Two-colour, two-skein projects for fingering weight, the other weight Cornish Tin came in, are a dime a dozen but DK projects are a bit thinner on the ground. Then, just about a month ago (around the same time Blacker yarns announced their 11th anniversary blend, Tin II and this time I bought a sweater quantity in a soft teal), Ann Kingstone released another stranded colourwork collection featuring sheep, and I pounced on the Dewlap cowl pattern with a not-too-dissimilar meterage/weight ratio. Yeah. My stitch gauge is not too far off, but my row gauge...well, instead of being 24"x9.5", my cowl is more like 25"x24". That's a, um, slight difference. I can use it as a cowl if I don't mind either smooshing it up so no-one can see the sheepies or having it stretched out proudly and completely cover my head. Neither option is ideal.

 

So I've changed my search criteria and I'm going to think of my Cornish Tin as being a light worsted rather than a heavy DK (there's no standard for categories and it's more an art than a science) and I think I found The Pattern this time - third time lucky, right? It's a split-brim beanie with a snowflake design and pompom and while beanies and pompoms aren't my usual cup of tea, Wooly Wormhead's MKAL last year, Skelter, turned out to be a split-brim beanie with a pompom and I will admit that I spent most of last winter borrowing it every time I was going out and he wasn't. Cross your fingers and wish me luck!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

28 weeks (and definitely counting)

Today I am 28 weeks, officially in the third trimester, and because I'm fat and old, today I got the special experience of a fasting blood glucose test. My understanding is that in the US they're fairly deriguere but in the UK you only have to do it if you have 3 ticks on a list and last time I wasn't old (my other ticks are for being fat and extra fat respectively) so I've not had the, uh, pleasure before. 

The good news is that my results are "within normal parameters" which means I don't have gestational diabetes. There's no bad news, although highlights include my alarm going off at 7am but not being able to eat (anything) breakfast until 1pm, having exploratory phlebotomy - 3 midwives had a go at me (twice!) to actually find my veins, getting to drink Lucazode for the first time ever (a friend described it as 'Gatorade distilled x10, mixed with Sprite'), finding out I had to stay there and sit quietly for 2hrs or I would "compromise the results" meaning I couldn't go home and get Kristina so Chris could go to work and just return for the second blood draw as planned, and finally being left in the exam room for half an hour after the second draw because the (third) midwife said she'd be right back....and never came back to say I was done. Or bring me the promised plaster/band-aid. So, um, yeah. Fun. Much recommend. 

I am a bit miffed that I told the (technically fourth, but "first") for the next go-round) that this puncture was where the second midwife missed my vein and that puncture is where the third midwife found it and she stuck the needle pretty much exactly in the first puncture and - surprise - couldn't find a vein there, either. Other than that (and not bringing me my notes and telling me I could go home until I went looking for someone half an hour later), everything else is what it is.

In other news, the new single/twin bed we ordered for the nursery arrived just in time for Miss Amy to come for a visit and attend the Loch Ness Knit Fest with me weekend before last. We put it in Kristina's room for now in the hopes that we could get her sleeping in her own bed again if I am sleeping in the same room with a further hope to have me out of the room when her sibling comes.

So Sunday night, a week being how long it took me to wash the sheets and remake the bed and not be going to work and thus needing a decent night's sleep, we got ready for bed. Kristina ran to get her pillows (she has two so that I can share her pillow without making my heartburn particularly bed) and very excitedly put them in my bed. No, no, I explained, this is my bed, that's your bed. Absolute hysteria. I offered to switch beds with her, she could have the new bad and I would have the old bed, but no, the problem was that in separate beds I wouldn't be able to "body cuddle" (spooning) her all night. Well, no. I knew when she discovered spooning as an alternative to cuddling on top of me (no longer an option with the pregnancy) that it was going to be a problem. Used to be we'd cuddle for a bit, then she'd slide off and roll over and sleep on her side of the bed. Now she wants me to have my arm around her all night.

Needless to say we wound up moving back to the big bed in the middle of the night. I can't roll over with only a fraction of a single bed to work with and my abdominal muscles out of commission. Being pregnant is also why she moved into the big bed with me in the first place - I kept falling asleep with her at 8 o'clock in the first trimester and waking up 4 or 5 hours later, cold, stiff and cranky, sleeping on the edge of her bed. Much easier to move her into the big bed with me and just go to sleep. 

So on Monday I folded up the sofa bed, moved my knitting stuff from the nursery into the sofa bedroom and put the new bed in the nursery. Chris can sleep in there in a real bed and grandma can have Kristina's room when she comes and the baby, Kristina, and I will have to share the master bedroom. But no spooning after the baby comes.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Hello, blog!

Hello, blog! Ltns, or at least ltn-type. What have you been up to? Me, mostly I've been pregnant. It sucks. I'm so bad at being pregnant. This time is worse than with Little Djinn (who is no longer Cucumber but now a baby Coke Cat. Yeah, we don't know what that is either); with my first pregnancy I felt terrible the whole time but was rarely actually sick (except when brushing my teeth - that was a regular trigger) and this time I spent four months throwing up two or three times a day, eating little and drinking less. It was festive. I'm almost 20 weeks now, and how do I feel you ask? I am living in heartburn central, which is a lot like nauseau central except I've got pills that mostly keep me from throwing up. Except even with the pills I'm feel worse and worse and I've come pretty close to throwing up a few times so we'll see how long that lasts.

The other reason this time has been worse than with my first is that, having had a miscarriage at almost 16 weeks, Chris and I have been pretty much nervous wrecks the whole time. We had to wait to 12 weeks (3 whole months of throwing up and generally feeling like I had stomach flu - which btw, we all had the week before I found out I was pregnant) for the dating scan to have actual proof that there actually was a fetus this time. That was a huge relief, but by the time another six weeks had passed and I could feel it kicking, I was pretty well tied in knots again. Feeling unrelentingly terrible when you know there's something wonderful at the end is very different from feeling unrelentingly awful when you don't. I can't tell you what a relief it is to feel it kicking around in there. 

Little Djinn is very excited to be getting a sibling, though she's less pleased with not being able to fall asleep lying on top of me. She's finding toys "for the baby" and we're putting them aside in what will be the nursery. I remind her a lot that the baby won't be here until after Christmas (3 Jan), and it won't be doing much of anything for 3 months, eating food for 6 months, or walking for a year. In the meantime, she starts nursery on Tuesday and daddy and I are excited even if she's largely not.

She got to be quite the swimmer over the summer, and can now swim underwater, changing orientation on every axis, but she hasn't yet figured out how to lift her face out of the water. Unfortunately, in her increasing confidence, she tried to jump into the pool backwards, leaned forward slightly, and cracked her face against the edge of the pool and went from wanting to go swimming every day to not wanting to go swimming at all. I'm hoping that when we're on holiday in a few weeks that proximity will tempt her back into the water.

She is sorta enjoying watching the Olympics but has firm ideas about which sports she does and doesn't like. She liked the diving, especially the green pool, and she liked the gymnastics and now the trampolining. Tennis is allowed but not badminton, rugby but not football. Speaking of rugby, did you see the rugby 7s final between Fiji and the U.K.? Funniest 10 minutes (opening half) I've ever seen. The U.K., and one presumes every other team that Fiji played on their way to gold, had no idea what hit them. Hilarious. Anyway, she's now playing Olympics with her little cars (one couldn't play with the others because it's not fast enough), which is almost as funny as when she was playing house with them and Mama car kept having to go throw up. I love listening to her play.

I mentioned our upcoming holiday - that has been, uh, interesting. Over a year ago we booked a Disney cruise to see my longest-standing friend and matron-of-honor get married (technically, a vow renewal for their 10th anniversary as they eloped at the time) followed by a family reunion on my mother's side in Florida. Well, thanks to those stupid ZIKV virus carrying mosquitos making it to the US Virgin Islands, one of the ship's ports of call, and me being pregnant we had to cancel the cruise. And then, a week later, those same stupid mosquitos made it to Florida so we had to cancel that half of the trip, too. The good news is that we got a full refund for the cruise and should get a refund for the flights because Disney and Virgin Atlantic are not the most economical options around but both companies value having customers for life over keeping your money today. 

So we looked for a holiday that involved flying in and out of Glasgow between our existing train tickets and hotel reservations and instead we're going to Tenerife (one of the Canary Islands, part of Spain but off of Africa). 

In knitting news, I've only just recently been able to concentrate enough to wrap string around sticks, so there's really been no progress on anything. But I'm back to looking at patterns and dreaming of having beautiful knit things so there's hope for the future. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

February Is All About Colour

February's theme certainly looks to be colour and beautiful colours they are!

I decided, the last week in January that I want to knit myself a throw blanket using TinCanKnits pattern. I love how it looks like a quilt and the variation with the squares having a variety of centres and one border is my favourite. I really wanted to knit this in DK or heavier weight wool so it would knit up super quick and be lovely and warm, but I decided that stash diving is the better part of valour and went with my collection of solid colour WYS sock yarn. I was originally going to hold the yarn double but I was having trouble with the pin-hole cast on (CO) and a single-strand made it easier. The WYS sock yarn has the added advantage of being superwash which is useful for something large like a blanket. 

My first colour was Blueberry Bonbon, a lovely saturated medium blue just edging towards teal, and I knit four centres whilst waiting for the cream I ordered to arrive. Yes, I decided to knit from stash and then immediately ordered more yarn. Well, I had to: I only had two colours, Blueberry Bonbon and Cherry Drop (blueish-red, same saturation as BB), neither of which was the cream for the borders. So I ordered two skeins of Milk Bottle (cream) and one each Raspberry (bluish-pink) and (light teal). And stitch markers to qualify the order for free shipping (and because I can't find my small ring-os).



I finished adding the cream borders to the four blueberry squares, lightly blocked (washing and stretching out the lace) the first square and they look wonderful. If I do 4 squares a month I'll have 48 squares, 49 gives me 7x7. If I do one a week, I can do 49 squares and still have three weeks to sew them together. I need to properly block (wash and pin out) my squares to see how big they are and decide if I'm happy with that size blanket. 

I also signed up for Bombella's colour-work KAL which runs 1 Feb-10 Mar. Any colourwork project would work so I decided to finally CO Pleadias Hat by Ann Kingstone in the special limited edition Cornish Tin in (blue) and (silver) I purchased over the summer. I didn't realise at the time that the Rowan Felted Tweed That the patten suggests calls itself DK but is actually sportweight, casualty to the UK not yet having embraced sportweight. My yarn is thicker than the pattern's, so I CO a smaller size (and then the smallest when I realised one round in that it would still be too big). I added an increase round to emphasise tam/beret rather than beanie. This is my first time working a corrugated rib, so yay for new skills. 



Speaking of Ann Kingstone, I also signed up for her joint "on the other hand" Mystery KAL which started on Friday. I am using some stashed Ripples Crafts 100% BFL 4-ply in teal and cream. I finished the first cuff that day and only then realised I would need to knit the second cuff before the next clue if I want to finish on time so I pulled from the other end of each ball to make a second set of balls, moved the first cuff to a smaller needle and knit a second cuff. I don't really see myself doing fraternal mitts.  Picture shows the "wrong side" as I'm knitting them inside out and it's generally considered polite not to post a lot of "spoiler" photos.

New skills here include corrugated rib and lice stitch (prettier than it sounds, though it would have to be, n'est pas?) and Norwegian purl. I'm doing them slightly different in a way that's faster for me but means wrapping my yarn the other way. I can live with that.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

2015 Knitting Round-Up: Selfish Knitting

I am, primarily, a selfish knitter. I knit for me and I'm not ashamed or embarrassed to admit it. I find things I want to knit or knit with much much faster than I finish knitting things. I knit a bunch of haps for other people because I wanted to knit haps and the colours I was knitting them in didn't suit me. I knit things for Chris and Little Djinn because I love them and spending my knitting time to make things for them is a way to demonstrate that love. But mostly I knit because I like to knit and I want lots of beautiful knit things to wear and show off.

Shawls
Byatt Shawl:I blogged about my Byatt shawl back in March after I wore it to EYF. I said it was starting a trend for two colour shawls but instead it was the start of a blue and silver trend in projects (some of which are still waiting to be knit). Pattern by Karie Westermann, yarn from Ripples Crafts.

Headwear
Baskerville Hat and Strada Headband
I blogged about these as well, waxing rhapsodic about the new-to-me superwash BFL from Old Maiden Aunt. I got two finished objects I love out one skein and wore them a lot in the spring, summer, and autumn.

Tryghed Hat: Another hat, another Karie Westermann pattern. I blogged about this back in October. I like the hat: the shape suits me and it's big enough. I never wear the hat: the colour is wrong. It's a beautiful colour and I picked it because it's beautiful, but you only see the beautiful highlights in the sun. The rest of the time it looks like a dark khaki green and that doesn't suit me. This is a hat in search of a new home.

Mithral Hat: I didn't blog about this project, I don't think. The pattern was offered as a chance to swatch the pattern for the sweater of the same name. I actually knit it twice, frogging the first go and reknitting it when, despite getting stitch gauge, it was way too short (row gauge). I've worn it a few times, but I haven't woven in the ends as the style doesn't much suit me and I may need the wool for the sweater in question.

Sweaters
Miette Cardigan: I don't think I ever blogged about this one, last year's big disappointment. The whole time I was knitting it I knew it wasn't going to fit but I knit it anyway and sure enough it didn't fit. If I knit it again, and I may very well do as Miette is a lovely pattern, I'll add another couple of inches across the bust as it fit in across the shoulders and through the arms, it just didn't close in the front. This is the second time I've knit a cardigan with J C Rennie's wool and both have been, ah, disappointing. This is coincidence as the wool is lovely. But my understanding of how to knit a jumper increases so third time will be the charm.

Scollay: This was the big success of the year, my Scollay cardigan. I wear it almost every day and still haven't gone back to re-knit the button bands to be wider. It's big enough - it'll stretch around me and Little Djinn in a pinch - but the button bands pull and I think part of that is being reverse stockingette and part of that is not being wide enough. At some point I will fix the button bands and then it'll be even more my favourite cardigan.

O W L S: I didn't have a chance to blog about O W L S. A friend was having a knitting slump so I went through her queue on Ravelry and found that the only thing we had queued in common is O W L S (there are two kinds of knitters - those who have knit O W L S and those who want to) so I proposed a KAL of our very own. We both ordered wool from New Lanark Mill, the same as my Scollay cardigan though a different weight - she chose "pebble" and I got "blueberry" and she had a number of problems getting started, like the wool not showing up and then not having the size needle she'd need and, um, I knit mine in about a week before she even had her wool. Oops. So I kinda kept quiet about finishing but here it is. I did the math for the number of stitches verses my hips and found the pattern had 9" of negative ease (smaller than my body) so I added 5" worth of stitches and...now I have about 5" of positive ease (larger than my body). Um, oops. Really not sure how that went wrong except, in this case I should have trusted the pattern. The extra increases I added for my sleeves was perfect though. Anyway, instead of being fitted (which I didn't want), it's quite baggy (which is more than I wanted) but still has curves and it's very comfy and I love it.

Socks
Cotton Brainless: I cast these on in April and finished them in August. They were my "follow Little Djinn around the Floral Hall" project and she went through a "Mama, carry me!" phase. Is still in it, actually. Cotton sock yarn from Opal in my then-default pattern, Brainless.

Pheasant in the Road: WYS socks in the colourway Pheasant with aferthought round heels. I love my autumnal rainbows. I bought a pair of their ready-made socks in this colourway for Chris and knit the leftovers into socks for Little Djinn. I think I'll like the round heels more than the wedge heels in the pair of socks I'm currently working on.

Hands
Skovtur Mitts: Another unblogged pattern by Karie Westermann. I knit these towards the end of October when I was poorly and watching Switched at Birth. These were the second of my blue and silver projects to get knit up (the third, with the leftovers from this was the Skelter Hat for Chris). I love them and I wear them a lot, but they're in a kinds of weird place for knitwear. They're very warm, which is great for cold days, but they're fingerless which is more of a transitional element. I probably should have gone with my first instinct, to turn them into mittens.

Lindgren Mittens: If these look a bit like the Skovtur Mitts, well, it's Karie Westerman again. I only just finished these this month but still haven't woven the ends in. Oops. They're actually not as warm as the Skovtur ones - thick Aran wool vs smooth DK wool/alpaca blend - but they do cover my fingers so that's a plus. The picture is from before I finished knitting them.