Saturday, 21 February 2009

Half term review

It has been half term this week and I promised myself that I would not go into work this week. I'm pleased to report that I kept this promise. Instead I had a few days in Whitby with Ezzie and we had a great time. We stayed in an amazing Georgian B&B. Here I am knitting and watching tv there.

Unfortunately the owner told us that with the economic downturn, business has been really slow. This is such a shame because this house is stunning and the breakfast was lovely. (If anyone wants to go and stay somewhere nice in Whitby, I can pass on the details.)

We did a lot of walking and we were lucky that it didn't rain. After the snow the paths were incredibly muddy and that got on my nerves a lot of the time, but we still had a great time. I got to wear my finished houndstooth gloves, which I am still really pleased with and proud of.

During the time away I started a new sock. This is Nutkin and is my new pattern for February. The yarn is from the Knitting Godess - 4 ply superwash merino in Same Difference, colourway Raspberry. I like the yarn but I reduced the number of stitches to 60 and the socks are now really tight. These will be for my mum as she has really skinny ankles, feet and legs.

Last weekend I went home to visit my family. I'd made my cousin some Bradford City socks from King Cole, Merino blend superwash wool, Double Knit. Shade 32, dye lot 33603 is the claret and Shade 10, dye lot 34483 is the amber. My cousin loved them.

I loved knitting these socks. The yarn is gorgeous, it is just so soft on your fingers. As its double knit it also knits up quickly and on fewer stitches. I've bought a lot of this yarn because I have some uncles who also want Bradford City socks now.

So, that's half term almost over. In two mornings' time I'll be getting up for work. It doesn't appeal, but never mind. I've had a lovely half term.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Snow allows knitting

This week I only worked two full days; the snow interfered with work and we had two half days and one whole day off. You'd think this would make you feel energised but I just feel more tired than usual this week. I think the snow just caused hassle. My car was parked ages away because my road was impassable and my journeys to work were stressful because I had to concentrate so hard on what was going on. The kids were also livelier than usual. "Are we going home today?", " do you think we should go home?" They were unrelenting.

I'm glad they got some days off. All the kids told me they had never seen snow like it and it reminded me that when I was a kid we always got a couple of days off a year because of the snow. In fact, one of my happiest days ever was playing in the snow with my cousin and sister. We'd gone to school that morning and it was shut, came home and stayed out as long as we coiuld physically manage the cold. We have some fantastic photos from that day. I had a great sledge and we took it in turns to push and pull one another.

Because the sky was so light due to the snow I managed to knit with black for long periods. At night I had to stop because black is so difficult. I've never knitted with it before. I thought navy blue was bad, but this black is up another level. I'm really pleased with the first glove.

It is definitely no longer a sock. Fair Isle socks are just not going to happen but at least I've learnt that through the process. What I especially like is the fact that I've designed it. I've written the pattern down as I go along so I can make its twin identical. It feels very satisfying. I definitely need some gloves in this weather.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

February Fair Isle

In case you haven't noticed, it has snowed a lot recently. This snow has meant two days off work for me and I have used the time wisely to do some knitting. I still want to knit a different sock a month so decided yesterday would be a great day to begin my first ever Fair Isle.

One of the most frustrating things I have to deal with as a teacher is explaining the same things over and over again, only for my students to repeat the same mistakes. Whenever I'm teaching a grammar point we work on it in class, students seem to get it, they get homework and without fail a significant group will forget what they learned and the success they were having and revert to making the same old mistakes. I often wonder, why is that?

I really should remember that this same thing happens to me with knitting. I have spoken to a lot of people about Fair Isle socks and each and every time I have been warned that it isn't stretchy, you need a lot more stitches than usual and that it isn't always suitable for socks. Armed with this information and advice I still spent a lot of yesterday getting frustrated with tension, ripping things out, increasing the number of stitches and changing needle size. By the afternoon I had had enough and decided to phone the knitting equivalent of A & E, Caroline. Caroline advised me to turn the sock into a mitten. The sock isn't quite a mitten, it's going to be a glove and I'm happy with its metamorphosis. I think it was good advice.

The yarns are: Regia Nation in colourway 5399. The black is Regia 4 ply in colourway 2066. I think the hounddog tooth check looks great and it has been fun to do something different. (I do know it's not officially hounddog tooth, but that's what I've always called it; I think it's a homage to Elivs.)

There are some finished items to show today as well. Ezzie's pixie socks are finished. They are not quite identical as I ran out of the green. I think this is the first time I have ever used up a whole ball of yarn and it feels very satisfying. The second sock isn't as neat as the first as a lot of it was knit at the Arena whilst watching Strictly Come Dancing. (Incidentally, Strictly was fantastic but I did miss shouting at Darren Gough!)

I have also completed the blue socks for my friend Carlos. They will be sent to Switzerland at the weekend and will come in very useful in the Alps.

I was given a lovely present recently from Knitbird, which will come in really handy for my future self-designed socks. The stitches are really easy to use as they have big photos and have one stitch pattern per card. Very transportable. Thank you Knitbird.