Wednesday, 19 January 2011


My day has just been made, taking a peak at KnittyBlog over my lunch today their new post mentioned that a new knitting chart production program had been made, in fact, I'll quote what they say;

"Awesome: a knitting chart generator developed as a demonstration application of the Mathematica mathematical programming language."

This free to use (I think) bit of kit is just brilliant - and even more exciting - is in Mathematica, the programming language I use every day for my PhD! The link to access it is here:

Wolfram Demonstrations Project: Knitting Charts

If you use it in Mathematica Player the demo recommends taking a screen shot and then cropping the image to match the size of your chart, however because I can play with the source code (which hopefully means I'll be able to figure out how to add even more symbols!), I have been able to extract the JPEGs directly and then crop from there. 

I don't know if you can see, but at the top there's a slider that lets you choose the number of stitches square of the chart, which is great! It's super easy to use, just select the symbol you want, and then click where on the chart you want to place it. 

I'm chuffed to pieces to have found this, it's going to make my chart writing so much easier!

Andrew's First Socks

I thought it was about time that I tried my hand at knitting some socks for the long suffering other half. He was initially duboius about the whole "hand knitted socks" idea, but since these beauties have been completed he's totally come around - praise indeed from someone so fussy!

They are made using Easyknits' Superwash Merino/Cashmere in Gun Metal, the most gorgeous light grey colourway, with subtle variations in tone between the lighter and darker regions of the skein.

They are knitted from the top down and use my own easy to execute stitch pattern.

A heel-flap construction with slightly modified heel turn to accomodate a man's rounder heel,

And a wedge toe made to my own formulation.

This pattern will be released as part of a men's mini-ebook that I am working on, although will also be sized for women.

These socks are a quick and easy knit for an experienced sock knitter, and they would serve as an excellent introduction to knitting men's socks, or any socks at all! All techniques will be explained in detail to maximise the audience for this rewarding pattern. The mens size will fit UK shoe sizes 9-11.

Speak soon!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

My Excuse

So sorry for the delay since the previous post, I've been fighting a troublesome bout of the flu. So much so, considering I spent two weeks without leaving the house I feel like I have very little to show for it! But I'm a productive soul, so there are a couple of things...

Firstly I finished a pair of socks for Andrew, these are one of my own design, and will have a post all of their own tomorrow.

I also finished a pair of socks for myself. I knitted the first of these a while before Christmas, but was trying to put off knitting the other one in preference for deadline knitting. However, when flu strikes intricate lace is a bit too much effort for me!

The pattern is Sensu by Judy Sumner from the book Knitted Socks East and West, and the yarn is Wollmeise Twin in Daisy. I didn't change the pattern too much, I swapped the ruffle top for a ribbed edge, left out the purl stitches from the stitch pattern, carried the stitch pattern down the foot and used my own wedge toe construction instead of the books (I have stumpy toes!). So by the middle of January I am well on the way to my 11 socks in 2011 target! Hoorah!

You may have noticed a certain someone sneaking into the middle picture up there.....

It seems Joey has a new favourite spot! Andrew was very patient with him and even let him have a little nap! Lucky Joey!

Over the weekend when I was feeling a bit better I even managed some dyeing (abliet only washing machine dyeing) of this Sirdar Denim Ultra, a super bulky acrylic/cotton/wool blend (only 15% wool, otherwise I wouldn't have dared machine dye it!) which came out better than expected:

Note the Elmo cat in the last pic there!

This is a really airy, lightweight yarn I used a lot as a teenager, and I had about 600g to dye. Unfortunately most of this airiness has gone, and the resulting yarn is probably better suited to 8mm needles than 12mm. This is probably not a bad thing, as I get bored very quickly using the really big needles - it's just too much effort to knit at that scale!! The yarn was originally bought by Andrew to crochet a jumper, but he wasn't happy with how that came out so it was sent my way. I can't remember the original colourway (ballbands are long gone), but it was brown and white.

What's interesting about how this yarn has dyed it that seems that the different plys are different fibre types. The cotton content has dyed in some of the plies, but some are near to their original colour. This is not what I expected at all, and was a lovely surprise that I think really adds to the yarn. This yarn is destined to become a lace sweater dress for the show in March.

Speaking of the show, I spent an hour this evening blocking bits and pieces for the show....

Excuse the lighting in this photo, it was dark when I got home!

In the back of the photo is a chunky knit jumper I've made for Andrew. This is actually the third time of blocking, for this jumper, and I've shown you a couple of snapshots before, here and here. It has been seamed, and Andrew has been wearing it, but the seams were a little tight and so I'm trying to relax them. As the jumper has started to felt (!), I felt a re-block was necessary to help reshape a bit.

I must say I'm really disappointed at the speed of which this work seems to be disintegrating. I knew pilling was a risk with using a single (unplied) yarn, but the extent of it is massive. There are large felted patches appearing on the chest and underarms, which, considering this is made with Debbie Bliss Como, an expensive yarn at over £5 for 50g, and which I won't be using again. If the twist was a bit higher it would probably have been a lot better.

In the bottom of the photo are 3 out of 4 sections of a cape that I am working on. I posted about the swatches here. More on this when it's sewn up!

In the top is my favourite piece of the collection. A dress I'm making based around the Not A Drop stitch pattern by Arlene's World of Lace in Wollmeise Lace in Golden Pear. Trust me, there will be a lot more on this dress later.

Oh, and I read another book, The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis. So that's 2 out of 11 done there as well!

Speak soon!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

30 Minute Mime Beret

So I finished the first of my 11 books in 2011 today (I know, what a good start to this challenge!) I read The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. I've been reading quite a lot of Agatha Christie lately, and as such was gifted by my lovely boyfriend a copy of this Sherlock Holmes escapade and The Valley of Fear. I must say I rather enjoyed it, although I did spot several of the "deductions" early on. That being said, I love the style of prose and the manner in which the characters talk to one another.

In other, perhaps more interesting news, I have published another pattern! This lovely hat is a quick knit I made in time for my New Year's Eve celebrations this year, in which I attended a vintage circus themed party as a mime.

The hat is a very simple, stocking stitch beret with tracks of decreases forming a small spiral at the top of the hat.

As you may be able to imagine, it was a very fun evening, with dancing (I was introduced to blues dancing, that was particularly fun!), a live band, poetry and dancers.

The pattern is available for free via Ravelry (pattern page is here), or the PDF can be downloaded directly via this link download now . The pattern calls for less than a skein of Rowan Big Wool and uses 12mm needles. It should be possible to make in half an hour or less!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all, I hope you had a wonderful New Year's Eve!

I've been thinking a lot about some New Year's resolutions/aims for next year, I wrote a few of the more broad ranging ones down the other day:

  1. Finish my collection ON TIME. The deadline for my 8 outfits is the 4th of March, currently only 2 are fully complete….
  2. Get the patterns for everything in said collection written up and up on Ravelry within at the most a couple of months.
  3. Make some sort of a dent in my fibre stash. I have enough BFL/Alpaca blend for a cardigan so it would be nice to spin and knit that!
  4. More dyeing. It’s fun, and I’d like to be better at it.
  5. Use stash/finish things. Most notably, my Golden Wheat Shawl (an epic, 2m square beauty) is lacking only 3/4 of the edging.
In addition, I'd like to knit 11 pairs of socks for 2011 (at least 11 pairs, anyway!) I haven't planned by patterns and yarns in advance, as I know I wouldn't stick to them, although I have a few planned in advance.

1. Mens sock of my own design using Easyknits Merino/Cashmere/Nylon in Gun Metal (admittedly, these are already half done) - I bought this yarn at the Bothered Owl's Christmas Party to make some socks for Andrew, so far so good!
2. Father's New Socks from Susan Crawford's Vintage Gift To Knit, in Wollmeise 100% Superwash in Zenzi, and Wollmeise Twin in Ebenholz. These have been started, but may be ribbed back, I'm having some serious gague issues!
3. Climbing Mistletoe Socks by Jon Dunn-Ballam in Wollmeise 100% Superwash in Olio vergine (although I may need to make some adjustments to the pattern, as it calls for 3.25mm needles, which won't work with this yarn.
4. Fiori Di Zucca by Alice Yu in Wollmeise 100% Superwash in Single Malt - This is the yarn and pattern I was gifted as part of my Secret Santa gift from Trisha
5. Inside Leaves by Me (I think this is what I'm going to call it), I've already made a practice pair of this design for the show, but it needs a few tweaks. I'm going to use Wollmeise 100% Superwash (spotting a theme there!) in Frosh.

I'll add things to this list/cross things off the list as and when. In addition to the knitting challenges, I'm planning a self imposed book challenge, also along the 11 for 2011 theme. It's not that I didn't read 11 books in 2010, more that I want to ensure I read 11 proper books, Literature with a capital L if you want. I haven't decided on the complete list for this yet either, although I have a number of ideas.

But I won't bore you further, here's some pictures of my only piece of Christmas present knitting for this year, a hat for my Uncle Stu of my own design, as seems to be the theme of this year, pattern coming soon!