Saturday, October 31, 2009

First Biwa sock

The first Biwa sock is done!

I love the yarn.

I love the pattern.

I am knitting the second one straightaway!

P.S. On closer inspection, FL's parking ticket was a "first warning" - no fine incurred! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fresh and Shiny

Picture credit:

The sun is shining today and I am so much happier. Ridiculous that I let the weather drag me down.

At the weekend, I rearranged my stash (again!) to make sure it was still mouse-free, and felt all the better for it. Now all the odds and ends are in one box and the fresh and shiny new sock yarn has a plastic tub all to itself. Inspiring! The sock-yarn-leftovers blankie now seems possible, as do 24 pairs of new socks (err yes...)

I also fondled my Manos Silk Blend and decided it needed to be knitted into something glamourous, not a frumpy old-lady cardi (aka Moonstone). By chance, my ex-sis-in-law was looking for help finding a pattern for her mum to knit herself a bedjacket, and I found this. OOOOH! Top of the queue! There is a gorgeous version on Ravelry by Tadtwister using just three skeins of Manos. I really fancy a silky woolly kimono to lounge about in, in my fantasy watertight bedroom!

Then yesterday I found a colourful new blog to browse: Attic24. I am probably late to the party on this one, but I had a very happy lunchbreak browsing the archives. And becoming besotted by stripey armwarmers along the way! Now weighing up the options: pay £15 to buy them ready-made, or fiddle about with a gazillion yarns with ends to darn in and colour-matching decisions...? Definitely one for the Christmas wishlist!

FL has cheered up a lot since Monday. He says his back is noticeably painful, and he is having difficulty straightening up properly. Deep-breathing is uncomfortable. But he thinks that Dexamethasone is a wonderful thing, and can he take it every day please?! I tried to explain that it is not a recreational drug, and is almost certainly the cause of the atrophy of his leg muscles, but he thinks he ought to be allowed the level of energy it brings, on a daily basis. Eek! Thank goodness it is a prescription-only drug! And he has to admit that the post-Dexy crash of Monday morning was NOT a wonderful thing!
I am just debating whether or not to meet him at the hospital tomorrow. His 12.30 appointment is hard to fit with my day job, so we are thinking he might drive himself there and back for the first time. But I could be there for him in the waiting room, for moral support. I will definitely want to be there is he is going to see a doctor. Decisions, decisions.
Oh - almost forgot - a new-to-me Myeloma blog. Lisaraniray. Absolutely extraordinary writing. If she doesn't get an offer from a publisher, I will eat my armwarmers.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Velcade Day Three and a new project

Fl was very tired at the weekend. We did the shopping between rain storms on Saturday and then he slept. On Sunday, his golf pal rang him and suggested 9 holes, so he was up and off. But it was a mistake - he had problems catching his breath walking round the course, and I am quite glad they were eventually rained off.
So a morose Sunday evening, followed by a depressed Monday morning. I drove him to the hospital and he hardly said a word - he didn't even want to stop for a newspaper.
He thinks his "concrete boots" are worsening. By this he means he is losing feeling in his feet. If this is true he may have to discontinue treatment as it is a sign of nerve damage. They did a blood test today. His Thursday appointment has been set for 12.30 so he might go on his own, or I might go to work first, then drive home at lunchtime to take him to the hospital. Not very convenient.
In happier news, I started the Biwa socks from "Knitted Socks from East and West" using Hazel Knits Artisan sock in Plum Glace. I love this yarn! I am very glad I have another three skeins in the stash!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

FO: Mad Budgie Socks

I have finished my Mad Budgie socks – yay! Somewhere around the sixteenth row of the second budgie, I decided that I am a rubbish fair-isle knitter. I really really need to learn to manipulate the yarns using two hands. I seemed to spend more time “unspinning” the tangled strands than I did actually knitting. Since a large proportion of the second sock was knitted in trains and waiting rooms, this was quite embarrassing. There was a lot of staring and pointing!

The pattern is written in German, but an experienced sock knitter should be able to work it out using the charts. I used Wendy’s toe-up instructions from “Socks From the Toe Up” (e.g. Trilobite) and her short row heel (e.g. the Dead Simple Lace Socks). The original is knitted from the bottom of the bird chart, up the foot, turn the heel and on to the leg, with the toe only added at the end. This method would allow you to adjust the fit, but I found the foot length to be just right for my UK size 4 foot (US 6, European 37).


Mad Budgie socks aka Nordisch Inspiriert from “Socken Aus Aller Welt” by Stephanie Van Der Linden. I used 2.5mm dpns and Curious Yarns sock yarn (no longer available) in Sprung and Neptune. There is still a sizeable ball of Sprung left over (the yellow/green) – maybe even enough for a whole pair of socks. I liked the colours but the texture was nothing special – bog standard wool/ nylon mix.

I am not too keen on this shape of heel, as it feels a bit inflexible at the instep, witnessed by the "roll" at my ankle in some of these pictures. And the picot top edge has a tendency to stick out from the leg. Plus, they are a bit shorter than I prefer, despite adding an extra row of checks.

However… I really like the checkerboard pattern on the cuff and sole – possibly even more than the birds themselves. The use of two colours woven together on the underside makes for a really sturdy fabric, so they ought to wear well.

Conclusion? A fun pair of socks which I will enjoy wearing. Would I knit this pattern again? Not on your nelly! Not unless I learn to knit two colours in a less cack-handed style.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A day trip to Edinburgh

The Girl and I took the early train to Edinburgh on Saturday. She had never been there and wanted to "do" the goth shops of our capital city. There are lots of them!

We started with breakfast at Peter's Yard, as recommended by Cornflower. Sadly, all the sandwiches and cakes contained butter, so my daughter (dairy allergic) had to settle for artisan bread and jam. I was surprised they couldn't rustle up a non-dairy bacon baguette for her, but apparently they had used all the bacon (at 10.30am!). I had coffee and a cinnamon bun - mmm!

I bought bread and Cloudberry jam to take home - ooooh!

Then onwards to Candlemakers and the Grassmarket and Cowgate and Canongate... with detours into sidestreets to peer into "closes". I loved the shop window at Barnardo's Vintage on the West Bow!
We spent perhaps two minutes in K1Yarns which is very pretty, but is what it says on the window "a boutique knitting shop". The shelves were half-empty, which seemed odd for the only (I think) yarn shop in Edinburgh. I could have bought a Zauberball, or some Fyberspates sock yarn, or even some Jamieson's shetland marl chunky...? But I didn't.

We stopped for lunch at a cheap Italian cafe where the Girl got her BLT and I had a salad.

Then we ogled a designer jewellery shop, Rene Walrus, where the shop assistant (the designer?) was a real live glamourous goth. I wanted to tell her that her whole look was inspiring to my daughter, and could I take her photo? I was in disguise as a tourist and had no shame. But I was dragged away by a mortified Girl. Her eye make up was incredible, like a bird of paradise, with deep purple and black swirls extending out to her jet black coiffure. And her clothes!? WOW. Oh and the jewellery was pretty special too!

We got the train home at 4.30, SO tired, but it was worth it! FL doubted that it was worth going all that way for a loaf of bread and a pot of jam, but I beg to differ!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

FO: Aira hat

This was a week of knitting Aira, testing the pattern for Lily.
I will let you decide for yourself who suits it best!

Aira by Lily (aged 11), found via her mum's blog here.

I used Mountain Colors Bearfoot sock yarn in Wild Raspberry. Yummy yarn with a touch of mohair in it.
Mine came out a bit loose round the band, despite changing down a needle size to 2.25 and 3.25 needles. But it works with big hair!
It's pretty huge!
None of my pictures of the starfish crown came out well - too much camera shake! Despite the stern faces of the men-folk, we had some laughs with this one.

Success? Well it suits someone!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I have had a couple of days off work to entertain the kids at half-term. Actually, my son doesn't want my sort of entertainment and is happy with Broadband and a ready supply of ginger beer. My daughter, on the other hand, was happy to learn how to use the sewing machine to make a black tablecloth in Round One of Goth-Up-Ya-Room*. Oh my!

Please don't examine the background too closely - we are in dire need of a trip to the recycling bins!
I am knitting Aira - it's looking good! I hope to finish very very soon.
And we went to see the new version of Fame! at the cinema. And I cried, of course. So we need to watch the first version on dvd to compare the two. Now my daughter wants to go to the NY High School Of the Performing Arts - hooray! Exactly my dream at her age! Just as long as she knows it isn't actually going to happen...
And I have read two books. Swallowed them whole. Cried myself to sleep. Fantastic! That's what a good book is all about, a spot of catharsis. But that's another post.
* Goth-Up-Ya-Room? My daughter wants to paint her walls black and turn her sunny childhood bedroom into a goth bat cave. I draw the line at painting the walls black, but we are working on accessories...!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Random Act Of Kindness

Sally - thank you SO much for your unexpected present in the mail!

It is fabulous - absolutely “me” as you thought, even if I never usually wear white. I have half a plan to over-dye it… or get invited to lots of weddings!

But anyway - wow! As my family will testify, I have going around saying “that’s amazing!” since I opened the package.

FL says I am not allowed to wear it outside his company, in case someone else wants to ring my bell - ooh err! So… um… thank you!

I will make a donation to p-hop as a “passing it on” type thing. And embarrass you on my blog sometime soon!

: )

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Testing times

Not much knitting to show today!
I have started test-knitting Aira for Lily, and it's going well, despite not having circular needles in appropriate sizes. I am using dpns with stoppers on the ends to prevent the stitches falling off. A trick I only thought of after several unfortunate incidents.
I am liking the yarn (Mountain Colors Bearfoot) though it is rather more variegated than it looked in the skein.
In other news, FL is back at golf this weekend so is much happier. However, I checked Voicemail for the first time in weeks and discovered that the hospital had left three messages on the 21st September, asking him to get in touch because they had given us the WRONG DATES FOR TREATMENT!
I cannot tell you how FRUSTRATING this is, as I have already had to change my work appointments twice. The latest version suggests that we have to be at the hospital on Tuesdays and Fridays. Not Mondays and Thursdays! FL will be ringing them tomorrow to ask for a final decision on the days and dates, before I irritate the Secretary any further.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

FO: Sloochie hat

This was intended as an instant gratification project to cheer me up. And in many ways it was: lovely, smooth, soft, even-textured yarn in a beautiful hand-dyed colour.

A fun top-down pattern with spiralling increases which eventually became second-nature for lazy late-night knitting. Begun on Sunday, finished on Tuesday. The process was fun!

But when it comes to the finished garment, it's not quite right for me.

It is a pixie rasta hat - so you have a baggy bit for hair-stuffing, and a cute and crazy, pointy twisty bit on top. It ought to be my ideal hat! But the pointy baggy bit is too far up to accommodate my usual nape-of-the neck bun. It is actually quite tight at the point where my hair would usually be. I reckon it would be ideal for someone with fairly short dreads or hair that just about scrapes into a tiny high pony-tail... or indeed short hair. Waist-length hair? Not so good.

So it might be a gift for the teen cousin.


Sloochie by Woolly Wormhead. Size Large, which is written with 4 inches of negative ease so only measures 18 inches at the brim - be warned! Best knitted in a drapey yarn. Maybe using bigger needles would have improved mine.

Yarn: Dream in Color Classy (now available from Stash yarns in the UK), colourway "Black Parade". A firm worsted-weight superwash merino which I would use again, but not for this pattern. Plenty of yardage - I think I have enough left for a pair of Fetching mitts, making a single skein better value than it first appeared.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Hat tricks

All is well here. FL has been told to rest to gather his strength so has had to give up golf in favour of reading and watching repeats of Time Team. He is still coughing a bit and is very tired, but he is much MUCH better.

I have been immersion-knitting. I got up on Sunday morning and decided I needed a knitty treat. The scouring properties of my Lime Green Tweed of Doom had left my fingers a trifle rough, and I wanted to play with something soft and beautiful for a change. So I got out my Dream in Color "Classy" (imported from the USA, but you can get it in the UK nowadays) in the colour "Black Parade".

The pattern is Sloochie by Woolly Wormhead and I am knitting the largest size on 4.5mm dpns. It took me a little while to get into the rhythm of the spiralling increases, but now I am on a roll and should finish it tonight. Pictures will follow!

Then I have a fab new project to dive straight into! I am test-knitting Aira for Amanda's daughter Lily. Because clearly I don't have enough projects on the needles right now. I cannot get over the fact that Lily has only just started secondary school and has the knitting know-how to design something so interesting. It was gob-smacking enough when I saw she was knitting tricky socks and shawls, but when she started designing her own patterns...?! When I was her age I was just about knitting garter-stitch scarves... badly!

So I leave you with a photogenic skein of yarn - Mountain Colors Bearfoot in "Wild Raspberry", destined to become Aira, a beautiful pleated beret - perfect for the teen cousin's Christmas present!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sometimes I knit!

Touch wood, FL is on the mend. Still coughing, and the last antibiotic taken, so he will need to go back to the GP just to be sure.

Over the last week, I turned to my CPH for solace and completed the back and two fronts. I am only part-way through my third ball of wool so should have plenty to complete the sleeves, hood and bands. (I have 8 balls.)

Those little green things aren't skeins of yarn - they are my magnificent crop of cherry tomatoes. All of it.
I knew you would be impressed.

Last night I worked a bit more on my Zur Lederhos'n and also started the second Mad Budgie sock.
And I may have some of Natalie's new "Clan" yarn in the colourway "Probably Jane".
As I suspected, it is a close relative of Wollmeise superwash.
These skeins will turn into something from my Socks East And West book - woo hoo!
Thank you again for all your support - where would we be without friends, real or virtual?
And knitting.

Friday, October 02, 2009


So - we have made it to Friday!

In the midst of all this, it is probably the busiest week of the year at my workplace, so I have been juggling like crazy to meet deadlines while caring for FL. I am really rather tired!

Hopefully, FL is over the worst of this episode. Now we have to gear ourselves up for the next one - the planned one - Velcade from 19 October onwards.

Gabrielle - you asked if they couldn't bring forward the start of Velcade, if his calcium is creeping up? If it hadn't been for the pneumonia, they might have done. But right now his depleted immune system has enough to contend with, fighting off the lung infection. He doesn't have the necessary reserves to cope with Velcade too!

So - this weekend I hope to do "normal" things - walk the dog, taxi the kids around, clean the house, KNIT!

I should have some knitty goodness to show you - I have almost finished the fronts and back of my Central Park Hoodie.