Thursday, 28 June 2007

Brioche is breeding!

Yesterday was another Sheffield Forum Knitting Meeting and I had a great time. The hassle of the floods, having no car and then no electricity meant I was desperate to get out and do some knitting with others. There was quite a bunch last night. There weren't as many socks last night, instead it was Brioche in the limelight.

My Brioche is now at this length:

My Brioche was glad to meet up with Jill's Brioche cousin and Esther's Brioche cousin.

This is Jill's Brioche. Unfortunately I have managed to delete accidentally Esther's young Brioche, but believe me it's gorgeous.

Jill kindly gave me a lift last night and I saw her beautiful Camomile throw and it would then only be a matter of time (a couple of hours in reality) before I would be purchasing the yarn for this. Here is that beautiful yarn:

Left is Colinette Mohair in Sunrise.
Right is Colinette Giotto in Gaugin.

Neither my photos or the internet photos show the true loveliness of these yarns and colours. There is more lilac in both yarns than you can tell here. I have had a long love affair with lilac and this throw is for the bedroom.

I'm now going to do a bit of knitting. Last night we were without electricity, so I was knitting by candlelight and winding up a clockwork radio for contact with the world. My car is now fixed and I will be picking it up tomorrow, so I feel I will be back in the civilised world soon. With the floods, the Sheffield Forum has been inundated with threads and posts and the Knitting section has been taken off to create space, so I'm feeling a little lost without that also.

Monday, 25 June 2007

It never rains, but it pours!

What a nuisance day!

I set off to work, had troubles with the car because of the handbrake, the kids were excitable because of the rain and floods. The kids had to be sent home because there were floods in school and it was dangerous for them to be in school. We staff were then sent home. I was nervous driving home because of the rising water and my dodgy handbrake, but decided it would be best to take it to the garage. They mechanic had a look at it and said it would take about an hour and half to fix it. This sounded promising, so I waited and did a bit of knitting.

After an hour the mechanic had to switch off the power and close the garage because the water had started to flood inside and was dangerous with the machinery and equipment. I then had to leave my car and wade through water up to my ankles to leave the garage forecourt. I was really lucky (or so I thought) because I managed to get into a taxi, who brought me home. Trouble was, I had forgotten that I had left my house keys with my car keys at the garage. I was absolutely soaked and it would be at least another two hours before Ezzie would leave work. In the end, Ezzie had to leave work early and we ended up indoors safe and sound.

Just over a week ago we had a similar situation, but I think this is worse for us. I don't know whether school will be open again tomorrow, but I don't have my car and it's all really frustrating. Cath, a fellow teacher from school, is going to give me a lift in the morning, which is a relief. There have been some really sad stories on the news this evening; one man died when his foot got stuck in a drain and a thirteen year old lad has been swept away. At least my troubles are not on that scale.

I have managed to do a bit of knitting. Rachael's first sock is now completed:

I have made a little progress with Brioche: (That's Granby in the background, with his rather dashing collar)
I have made a few mistakes in the pattern, but it's very forgiving and it's easy to re-establish the chevron pattern. I'm liking it a lot more now and am deciding which cushions to make next from the book. I like Battenburg. I could do it in one of the tagliatelli shades I already have and then mix in a complimentary colour for the Isis yarn. I am loving the Toast and Marmalade book and I love the idea of a house full of knitted accessories.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Faith restored

Today is the longest day and it really has felt like the longest day. I awoke at 5.25am and couldn't sleep for my terrible hayfever. The cat started mioawing continuously, so I got up, got ready for work and gave him some attention. Work was demanding and I had an after-school meeting with parents regarding the imminent exchange. I didn't end up getting home until 9.30pm.

I've had an incredibly busy week - Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I had Spanish classes in preparation for tomorrow's three exams. I feel fatigued and am not looking forward to camping this weekend as, once again, the weather forecast is not favourable. As a result of all this activity, very little knitting has taken place. I keep reminding myself that once the exam is out of the way, I will be a lady of leisure and have lots of available knitting time. But, Monday I'm at a languages talk, Tueday I have a languages committee meeting, Wednesday I have the monthly knitting meeting (hurrah - can't wait), Thursday I have a work's social, and I'm sure something else is happening on Friday, but goodness knows what that is.

When I last blogged (is it just me or does that word sound revolting?) I was down in the dumps about Brioche and was questioning whether my sanity would remain in tact with this project. Let me reassure you all - I have made some good progress and love what I have so far. My friend Darren described it as "Aztec", and I saw this as a great compliment. The blue in Autumn Leaf is not remotely conspicuous and I think the yarns and colours work well together. I've not followed the pattern slavishly; I've done four rows of each yarn and will do this throughout. The pattern suggests in the middle changing yarn every two rows, but I think that's too often and would mean far too much weaving in. I don't like the finishing part of knitting, so the less weaving in, the better. From the comments I know Jill is starting hers for the next meeting, which sounds exciting also. Mohair has not beaten me in the end and my faith has been restored in my knitting.
Rachael's sock has made a little progress and looks likes all the other socks I have made in terms of pattern. Mind you, I still think it's worth a look:

This week has been a great week for the house plants. The orchid started to flower again today. Ezzie has been feeding it with special orchid feed for a good number of months and I felt sure that we would never see life again, but on this occasion he was right and I was wrong and it is stunning. I'll get a photo later. The cactus that used to belong to Darren's uncle has flowered this week and it clearly loves its new home. I am told that it is over thirty years old, so we are very privileged to have been given the role of protecting it for its next thirty years. The flowers are beautiful, and it's such a shame they only flower for a day or so. I know cacti have their critics, but they still remain my favourite plants. The flowers may come seldomly and perish quickly, but they are worth the wait.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Making mountains out of mohair

Why didn't any body warn me? Mohair is impossible to knit with. It has taken me the best part of an hour and half to do two rows. Part of the difficulty was counting the stitches when I cast them on. I have started, ripped, started again, ripped again countless times because if you go wrong, it is impossible to remedy the situation. I hate Mohair and am seriously worried about the future success of the throw. Lucy, whose original Brioche throw inspired me, promised me the pattern was easy. I'm feeling very mistrustful of other knitters now. I seriously hope that this is not going to be another unfinished project. Last night I was blogging about how I should stick to what I like knitting. I felt sure that a throw would join that limited list. Now I'm wondering if I am destined only to knit socks.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

The birth of Brioche

As ever, it's Saturday, and I've not got as much knitting done as I intended. I felt sure that I would have knitted the heel flap and shaped the heel for my latest pair of socks, but I'm still on the cuff. I had every intention of starting my first Jaywalkers, and was about to cast on the 72 stitches when I last blogged on Thursday, but I soon became distracted and cast on 60 stitches for the usual Opal sock pattern with some yarn I bought a few months ago. I saw this yarn and remembered it was bequeathed to Rachael, who is a volunteer at school, and I felt guilty that I had promised her socks and not even cast on. The Jaywalkers and posh sock yarn no longer felt like a pressing project because it was more important to make a present for someone else. I love this sock yarn. I love all things pink, so pink sock yarn feels extra special. I'm going to knit 100 rounds on the cuff because Rachael needs the socks for camping and I know from experience camping, that the more wool on your legs, the better!

Speaking of camping, that's what I was supposed to be doing this weekend with the Duke of Edinburgh kids from school. However, that was sensibly cancelled due to Thursday and Friday's horrendous weather. I had real difficulties yesterday getting to school because of the deluge on the roads, and some members of staff didn't manage to get in because their areas were so flooded. Instead, we're going next week, which is better all round because I have my Spanish exam on Friday and I really must do some revision tomorrow. Also, I need to write reports and have some to do this weekend.

I made my way merrily to the Wool Baa again today to pick up my Colinette yarn for my Brioche throw. Here are the skeins:

From top left and going clockwise, they are:

I love five of the yarns unconditionally and feel very smug about the choices. However, I have real issues with Autumn Leaves. I didn't expect it to have so much blue in it. I don't remember noticing the blue on the website photograph and I feel it jars with the other colours. Have you ever seen a blue leaf, let alone a blue autumn leaf? I just hope that it works and that the whole throw is not spoilt by the conspicuous blue. Lucy's and Esther's yarns were also there for me to look at, and I think they both made superb choices. I fear my throw will be the poor relation in comparison.

This evening I have managed to put the skeins into balls. I sought advice from Jill at the Wool Baa and I didn't get a single tangle. No four day untangling job for me this week! Don't they look cute and bursting with potential?

I haven't managed to start it, but surely one day soon I will be casting on with those circular needles. A lot of precious throw knitting time was lost this evening looking for the pattern book. In his determination to tidy the house, Ezzie had put the book in the paper recycling bag only minutes after it had entered the flat. He thought it was an advertisement of some sort, and didn't realise that it had not been forced upon us surreptitiously in a magazine, but was instead desired, coveted and necessary for the my well being. Sometimes I feel I have got really far with him because he hardly complains about the flat groaning under the weight of all my yarn, yarn books and paraphenalia. And then other times, like today, I realise there is still a long way to go.

In the midst of all this, I have been to John Lewis and sought the help of Bev with Tulip. I have gone wrong with the pattern and need to rip a few rows. How demoralising. I am starting to realise which projects I should undertake, and which I shouldn't. I need large sections of repetition, which is why socks, throws, hats, scarves, gloves and cushions are ideal for me. I also need to avoid lots of shaping, which is why most other items are unsuitable for me. Everyone assumes knitting is about jumpers and cardigans, but maybe you can be just as successful a knitter without having these in your repertoire. I will finish Tulip because it is lovely and I cannot justify another failed project, but it is going to take time. My plan was to wear it in June, but I'm sure it will still be fashionable in June 2008.

I think I would be far better off sticking to what I enjoy. I don't enjoy knitting large items of clothing. My fantasy at the moment is a house full of knitted objects, not a wardrobe full of knitted clothes. Knitted accessories are much more appealing and I'm less likely to go off them. Plenty of people knit beautiful clothes, but don't get the wear from them that should really be justified. I know I will enjoy knitting the throw not only because it is just so beautiful and well within my capabilities, but also because I know I will be knitting something with longevity and I love the idea of creating an heirloom. Today may be the birth of Brioche, but it is also the birth of a new way of thinking.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Not a stitch since Sunday!

I have been chomping on the bit, wanting to start my Jaywalker socks with the posh sock yarn, but only late last night did I manage to untangle the yarn. Each night I have been convincing myself that "tonight's the night" and the yarn will be ready to knit, but it's only now that I can contemplate casting on. I'm sure there has to be an easier way to unravel a skein. Why does it always take me so long. I had the yarn on my knees and started well, but before long I was in a mess. Anyway, the yarn is now ready and looks gorgeous. A photo will confirm this:

Today's weather has been miserable - really wet and rainy, the sort of weather you expect in October and November. The rain sends the kids a bit loopy at school and frustrates we teachers. The great thing about weather like this is having a pair of newly knitted socks like these:
These are Colinette Jitterbug in Mardi Gras. They are beautiful and warm. They are not remotely identical and this is usually a problem for me but because they are not faux fair isle, I feel surprisingly tranquil about their individuality.
I'm not having a big knitting night today - I'm going out for a Chinese with Emily and Rich. Tomorrow I'm picking up Shona and then it's camping on Saturday. How will Tulip fit into that? The likelihood is that it won't be finished and ready to wear in June. June 2008 it is then!

Monday, 11 June 2007

Knitting update

I seem to have thought about wool and knitting a lot this weekend, but not got nearly as much done as I had anticipated.

On Saturday I went to the Wool Baa to order my yarn for the beautiful Brioche throw I intend to start one day and I pretty much stuck to what I had originally chosen except for Cezanne was chucked out and replaced by Forest. Jill (at the Wool Baa) did a fantastic job of helping me choose the colours. I met Lucy (Littleblue on the forum) and she chose her yarn for the Brioche throw, but her colours are more pinks, purples and blues. Stunning colours and very Lucy. Whilst in there my friend Esther appeared and had various different wool projects to show and then she ended up ordering yarn for the Brioche throw. She is making accessories for her boyfriend Dale's house in greens and pinks, so that's what she chose for her throw. It was all very frantic, but very enjoyable.

Knitting has certainly energised my creativity and ability to put colours together. In the past I used to match everything with black or white, but these days I prefer to put colours with other colours and often I like the clashes they may create. Favourite colour combinations at present include: orange and pink, orange and red, red and pink, turquoise and purple, green and purple, green and pink. If you see anyone wearing such bright ensembles, it could well be me. I usually accessorise well, so if there's matching jewellery, it's definitely me!

Esther and I then went to my favourite café - Ceres for a bite to eat and we did our bit for Worldwide Knitting in Public Day. The waitress was mightily impressed with our efforts, so maybe our knitting in public will inspire a convert.

Yesterday I did finish the second Jitterbug Mardi Gras sock, so I now own four pairs of handknitted socks. I usually knit myself a pair and then someone else, but I might end up making myself another pair because I want to get going with the posh sock yarn. It may be some time before I get onto them because I have made a terrible mess of unwinding the yarn. I really wish skeins were banned because I can never turn them into a ball without mess and this time it's really messy. Eric keeps saying, "what a skein in the arse", and he's right! I am going to turn this yarn into Jaywalker socks and because I've not done this pattern and it is a rite of passage, I want to get going now!

Guess what? In the midst of all this Tulip has not progressed any since last week, even though I was going to devote Saturday to this lovely cardigan. My aim was to finish it and be wearing it in June, but I doubt very much that this will happen. The next aim is to be able to wear it in Germany, where I go mid July. I just can't be swayed from socks. Socks rule! They are more satisfying than anything else knitted.

Away from knitting, today I've had another hectic day at work. I'm loving my new job, but there is a lot to do. Tonight I went to Spanish where we had a mock exam because the exam is imminent (11 days and counting). I finished early so I left and saw Eric down at the allotment. He was revising outside amongst the onions and asparagus; his German exams are tomorrow. Good luck Eric!

The allotment is looking full at the moment and things have definitely grown in a week. We tasted our first peas, which were sweet as sugar. The lupins and poppies look beautiful and some more cacti in the greenhouse are ready to flower and look really healthy and spikey! I also saw a dead shrew today. It is outside the allotment and clearly an animal had pecked at it. It was so tiny; Eric hadn't even noticed it. We had a good nosey because we like looking at nature, even when it's dead. Shona would have loved it because last year in a similar place there was a dead bat and we liked to look at its body as it decomposed. She's coming again this weekend, so hopefully there will be something left for her to see.

I got the address of where I will be staying in Madrid today and it looks as if I am near to a subway station and also walking distance from the language school where I will be having lessons. I'm relieved because I need to have ease over there. The language and classes will be hard enough without transport difficulties.

Tomorrow there'll be photos, but don't forget I managed to link to other websites today!

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Can't sleep for thinking knitting

As predicted, I had a nice time at Knit Club at Lucy's. There were only four of us, but it was really good fun and we managed to cram in a lot of knitting and knitting chatter. There are actually two Lucys, so this blog make get confusing, Barbara and me. I did a bit of crochet, but then ripped it back and promised never to be seduced by it again because it makes no sense to me whatsoever and then continued with the second sock in Colinette's Jitterbug Mardi Gras. The cuff is almost completed. Barbara actually did some knitting on a sock and it looks unlikely this time that she will rip it back. She has a habit of undoing everything she ever knits at Knit Club, but I'm hoping she will break the habit. Lucy (the host) showed us the progress on that marvellous throw and she was also knitting something from the RYC Coast book and the other Lucy completed her first sock and I helped her to graft it, which made me feel like I had actually completed a project.

Lucy (the one making socks) and I are going to the Wool Baa tomorrow to order our Colinette yarn that the other Lucy is using for her Brioche throw. We are just so inspired and I'm sure that throw is the reason I have been up since 4.45am! I have just spent over forty-five minutes choosing my colours on the internet. The trouble is, Lucy's throw is just so stunning and the colour combination perfect, that I fear I will not make as wise a decision when it comes to choosing my yarn colours. At the moment it stands at:

Mohair - Cezanne, Moss, Autumn leaves
Giotto - Velvet Leaf, Madras
Tagliatelli - Castagna

This combination is likely to change and I'm hoping that Jill at the Wool Baa has some colours in already so I can compare because using the internet can be tricky in that way. I had six Colinette windows up at the same time and have changed the colours and checked the colours various times. I love autumn colours and want browns, oranges and greens but it is tricky without seeing the yarns together. I want subtle and bright together with dark and light. All this is a lot to ask of yourself on the internet. The throw is designed for the living room and the brown leather settee that I keep being assured by Eric will happen one day.

No doubt I will update after my trip to inform you that this plan has all changed and that I have bought pinks, purples and blues and that's it's for the little bedroom, and already now that I've written that (or should it be typed?) I'm thinking that would be a great idea.

Friday, 8 June 2007

I predict a great knitting day

Look at what has arrived in the post today! Posh sock yarn sent kindly by Caroline. I didn't know which colours I would be receiving so I was very excited opening the parcel. I love these tranquil blues and the yarn is so soft! It's Schaefer Yarn and it having a German name makes me love it even more! I cannot wait to get my dpns into it and make some cracking socks for my good dear self. It is 60% merino wool, 25 mohair and 15% nylon and you can feel the luxuriousness.

I finished the first Mardi Gras Jitterbug sock last night. It only took 35 rounds on the foot because it is slightly thicker than 4 ply and I use 3mm dpns, not my usual 2.5mm. It's a great sock. I weighed it and it weighs less than 50g and I have more than 50g left, so I won't need to buy another ball after all, and as a result these will not be the most expensive socks in the world.

I thought I would also show you a picture of the gorgeous Granby who has been following me around since I've come home this evening. It took me a long time to get him away from the yarn and sock as he seemed to want to steal the limelight.

I think he's trying to make the most of his time with me this evening because at seven I am going to Lucy's for this month's Knit Club where this new yarn and new sock will make their debuts. Poor Tulip has been before and has made little progress since then, though I'm going to dedicate time to Tulip tomorrow as it's Saturday and I have no cares in the world on a Saturday!

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Recent photographs

I have managed to upload my recent photos. The sock is now finished and grafted, the pink is Tulip and the cactus is an Echinopsis that flowered two days ago, although now it is already wilting and dying. It was stunning and I just felt that the world needed to see it.

What's been happening

Well, I tried to write some thoughts on Sunday after I came back from camping and was just about to go back to work, but unfortunately I made a complete mess of it and I've been just too busy to do anything about it ever since.

Brief summary of past week. Eric, Shona and myself went camping in Derbyshire (Lathkilldale - ominous name but truly beautiful). We had a great time and Shona really took to the outdoors as we expected she would. I managed to start another sock but we were just so busy that knitting did not progress as I had hoped. On return home I did some knitting of Tulip again and have made a little progress on the left side as you can see from the photo. Problem is, this cardigan takes real effort when following the pattern so I need to do this knitting at the weekend when I have time and patience to do it.

The sock I started is my tried and trusted freebie pattern for Opal yarn but it's in Colinette Jitterbug in Mardi Gras. I love it, especially the red spiral which is very obvious from the photographs. Such a lovely yarn, such incredible colours. Well worth the money but I suspect I will need another ball if I am to get a pair of socks from them because I have already used a lot of the wool. The joy of using Jitterbug is that it is slightly thicker than four ply, so you use larger needles and fewer stitches; a sock takes less time that way and I should be wearing them by next week. I know it's summer, I know these are 100% merino wool but you can never have enough socks and they will be nice to wear on my next camping expedition in two weekends time.

Yesterday I received a lovely message from Caroline who has bought some beautiful posh sock yarn in a sale. She is selling it to me at a very reduced rate and is even putting it in the post so I will not have to wait until the next Sheffield Forum Knitting Meeting in three weeks. How kind is she? She has two skeins in different colours and a fellow sock sister is having a skein also, though it's down to the flip of a coin which we end up with. I love both although they are very different so I'm looking forward to the yarn surprise soon.

Tomorrow is Knit Club at Lucy's and I cannot wait because it's always good fun and knitting with others is fantastic because you don't feel like you are the only person on the planet with a yarn habit and obsession and who thinks that knitting is a normal part of life and needs discussing.

After many failed attempts I cannot post the photos I want to today, so I will have to try again later, probably when Eric returns from his night class, but at least I have caught up with myself and have got back into the swing of blogging.

Friday, 1 June 2007

I love knitting with other knitters.

It's the middle of the night, I can't sleep, so this feels like an ideal opportunity to blog. On Wednesday I went to the Wool Baa for the Sheffield Forum's knitting group and had a great time. The group meets once a month on a Wednesday and I thoroughly look forward to going. I like being nosey and seeing what other knitters are up to. I am amazed by what other people are making, and also quite humbled.

Knitbird is making a stunning throw for her sister's birthday from a mixture of Colinette yarns. The pattern is Brioche from Toast and Marmalade (I think) and she has chosen her colours well. It's different yarns and different shades of red with hints of yellow and green and it is amazing. I think I will end up making one, even though it's a massive project and knit on circulars. I've been looking on the Colinette website today and I'm really drawn to some of the bright colours they have.

Wool4Brains kindly showed me a different way of knitting a heel on a sock, so I was also being educated during my evening out. LittleBlue started a sock, despite being defiantly anti-socks and Albethere and I talked again about our mutual sock appreciation. It was good fun and I even mentioned my blog and the address.

Whilst there I managed to finish a pair of socks for my lovely six year old niece, Shona. I knitted them in Colinette Jitterbug colour Florentina and she was really pleased with them when I arrived home afterwards. She loved them so much, that she wore them in bed and today at Playscheme. She said she couldn't take them off because they were just too warm. She's not daft, isn't Shona; compliments like these will mean a lifetime of socks for her.

Today I've not done much knitting, a few rows on Tulip by Rowan which I am determined to wear during June. As it's now June, I have only until the end of the month in 29 days, so I will have to resist starting more socks and get cracking with the cardigan.

Tonight we had the pleasure of Di at tea. It was nice to see her as it seems we've not seen one another for a while. She's going to Australia at the end of July so we need to make the most of her while she is here. The picture below is of Di and Shona and the socks. What a lovely photo!