Sunday, January 30, 2005

Brilliant day!

The Guild meeting yesterday was wonderful, although I'm still recovering! It always takes me a while to pull round again afterwards, but it's worth a few days' recovery once a month for the enjoyment of being with fellow knitters.

I offered to help one member convert a 4-ply pattern to a DK one... I don't know why I'm worrying, I know perfectly well how to do it - but will I be able to explain it to someone else?? I must remember to take a calculator to the next meeting!

Lots of discussion, show-and-tell, and laughter, as always! The time really sped by, and when Paul arrived, he actually made me jump when he spoke to me - I hadn't even noticed him come in.

I took the nummy yarn with me, and our resident lace expert suggested a slim scarf in feather-and-fan, on large needles. You know, I think she could be right!! Her work is amazing. She designs her own cobweb lace, and says things like, 'Oh, this shawl was quite a quick make - it was only about 300 hours....' She's going to help me try out some knitted lace, because I find the idea quite daunting!

If you're a knitter, and you don't already belong to a group, please try it out. If there isn't a Guild meeting or a Stitch'n'Bitch near you, then start your own! It is so much fun being with other knitters and crocheters, and it's such a help to be able to pick other people's brains if you're not sure of a technique. There's always someone who knows how to do something you're new to!

It's also a huge boost to be able to help others yourself. I find that especially cheering - being stuck in bed most of the time, when you've been used to a really active and stimulating job and social life, can be very damaging to the self-esteem.....

I got a lot of positive comments on Linda's top, too. The body is now complete, and looks much better in one unit than it did when it was in a heap!! The crab stitch edging/seaming on the sides works particularly well - not only is it decorative, but it seems to be stabilising the material, too. The fabric of the thing is quite heavy, and was tending to sag under its own weight as I was working on it.

Better go. Flagging a bit again.......

Friday, January 28, 2005

If you want to get ahead, get a hat

The rest of the yarn for Paul's beanie finally arrived, and I finished it on Wednesday night.

Then I tried it on. It covered my entire head.

After my unpicking and remaking it at about half the previous length (I hadn't appreciated how stretchy the yarn was!), he now has a fab purple beanie, which, because I knitted it in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, I have decided to name 'Blissful'. I'm about to submit the pattern to 'Knitting' magazine. Cross your needles for me :)

Linda's top is coming on apace, at last - 23 rows to go to finish the back, then I just have the short sleeves and long collar to do.

I also made the nummy yarn into socks, using a modified version of the two-needle socks in 'Socks Two' (Vogue 'Knitting on the Go' series). It did not like being socks. So, it's back in a big ball once again, while it decides what it does want to be......

I've had a lovely couple of weeks leafing through the new issues of 'Knitting', 'Vogue Knitting' and 'Interweave Knits' - I'm a magazine junkie as well as a yarn strumpet :)

Tell me, did anyone out there who read the article on Domino Knitting (in 'Knitting' magazine) make head or tail of it? Or is it just me? (Which, let's face it, is quite likely - my brain is still on holiday after Christmas!)

Off to the Knitting and Crochet Guild in Newcastle tomorrow - my monthly treat. It seems like ages since the November meeting. I wonder what everyone's working on now?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Pass the matchsticks!

Dratted M.E. - I am still recovering from Christmas. I'm sleeping at all kinds of weird hours, and everything hurts! Sometimes it even hurts to blink, so keeping my eyes closed is less painful - but of course it ends up with my going to sleep again :) I need to prop my eyes open with matchsticks......

The most annoying, and also knitting-related, part of this whinge is that it has slowed my progress right down on the back of Linda's top. It doesn't help that I started working it in the round, and then divided the front and back. I didn't realise at the time how heavy it would be, even knitting back and forth on circs! Still, even single rows add up to progress over the course of a whole day, and the top itself really is looking super, though I say so myself :)

I've aslo started some socks in self-striping yarn on dpns, which is a nice light project for when my arms really are screaming.

I'm about to receive the yarn I need to finish Paul's beanie, thank goodness. The poor chap's ears are almost frostbitten!

I'm still waiting to hear whether my submission of a long wrap to 'Big Girls' Knits' has been received, and will therefore need making up in fairly short order.

I'm also awaiting new stocks of the yarn for the poncho Linda has requested - a lovely and simple design from 'Woman's Weekly', using Sirdar Nova Chunky in Ivory.

After that, I need to make up a scarf in a design I intend to submit to Colinette; a piece of headgear for the Knitting and Crochet Guild fundraising competition; and my nummy yarn socks.

Should keep me going for a while :)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The loneliness of the long-distance designer

Well, the Design That Dare Not Speak Its Name (yes, Linda, it's your belated Christmas present!) is gathering speed and starting to look almost like a real garment! Forgive my air of disbelief, but this is the first time I've designed anything where the size and shape are more important than simply hoping a hat won't pop off someone's head, or that a scarf won't strangle them :)

I can heartily recommend Maggie Righetti's 'Sweater Design In Plain English', and I only wish I'd had it when I was making the original plans for this item. It's only two-thirds finished, and already I'm adjusting the pattern for changes I would make next time. I think that's the nature of the beast, though - inspiration doesn't strike in nice neat packets, nor at convenient times! I would love to be able to try it on the recipient, but she is 350 miles away, and anyway it would spoil the surprise....

Richard's alien cushion got finished just in time for him to take it back to University. I'm hoping for a photo so that I can show all my loyal readers (yes, both of you!) how it turned out. I was really pleased with the ephemeral effect it created, especially once it was slightly stretched and curved over the cushion form.

The nummy yarn mittens also got finished, but I wasn't happy with the pattern (one from a book, and not my own). Soooo...... now it's in a big ball waiting for my 6mm dpns to arrive, so that I can try it as socks! It is amazingly forgiving about being unpicked - this is the second time I've done it.

Finally, Richard's dad, Paul, requested a beanie, so I designed a simple style to use up some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran I had sitting around. Unfortunately it wasn't enough, so I'm now waiting for more supplies. One day I'll learn how to estimate yarn requirements :)

Sunday, January 09, 2005

What were you doing when the lights went out?

Hey, I can still touch-type!

The reason for my excitement is that we have just had a power cut, our second in two days because of the high winds, and yet I can still blog :) Hooray for laptops with batteries, too!

I have no problems knitting with the lights out - I rarely look at what I'm doing anyway, except in complex cables and stuff - but it does mean I can't reposition my bed up or down, or use my oxygen machine. However, I have several oxygen tanks, and I don't need to get in or out of bed for a while, so these are fairly insignificant annoyances.

Top tip for power cuts - do what the poor Victorian seamstresses used to do in their garrets, and put your candles in front of mirrors or behind glasses of water. It doubles the light produced (apparently, several seamstresses used to use one candle in this way).

Never say that this blog is not educational :)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

I'm still here.... I said in my toast to the family on Christmas Day!

This time last year, time was running out for me. The doctors weren't telling me so, but I found out later that, at this point in 2004, I was given about three months to live. One year on and 10.5 stone lighter, I am going into a new year with real enthusiasm and expectation!

My first resolution this year is to take my knitwear designs seriously - no more faffing about. This year I want to spend the majority of my knitting time on my own designs. I won't be knitting them all for me to wear, of course!

My other resolutions are to live lightly upon the planet, and to live each day with a positive attitude.

Christmas was wonderful, with my mother here for the first time in about ten years - it's a huge journey for her, so it was particularly good to have her here. Santa was very kind, too, especially via the Beamish Boy. He gave me a signed Mark Thomas double CD - and a little parcel that was labelled, 'I saw this and thought of you.'

It was a Buddha....

Now, I would love to think this was because of my serenity and wisdom, but we all know that just ain't so :)

I finished Mum's chenille scarf, and Richard's Alien Illusion cushion, both of which were very well-received. I'm now back on the design of my own which I had to abandon before Christmas, which is going well, and which I still can't discuss here in case the recipient reads the details! I can reveal it's a cotton top, knitted on circular needles - but that's all!

I have also discovered that I do not need a skein holder, thanks to some stray orang-utan in my heritage. I wound up a skein of Colinette Silkychic on Sunday night while sitting up in bed, by bending my knees a little and stretching the skein between my feet. It worked really well!

(It's going to be glorious stuff to knit, too - it's so cool and slinky, it's going to be like knitting with a kitten :) )

I can't close this catch-up without mentioning the tsunami disaster. I can't put into words my reactions to it - but please, if you haven't donated yet, do it here.