November 29, 2007

Obsessively Yours

Filed under:News!,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 12:53

Dear Barbara Walker,

I wish to inform you of the dangers contained between the covers of Knitting from the Top. You are obviously unaware as you have allowed the book to come back into print. But there was a demand! you cry. Knitters need this book!

I agree… to a point. I agree that all knitters need to know how to knit from the top down, how to achieve that perfect fit, how to knit wonderful shapes such as raglans, set in sleeves, saddle shoulders, berets and knickers! But I think the book at the very minimum should carry a warning label alerting knitters to the dangers of such knowledge (something like bells and flashing lights would be preferable).

These dangers include the relentless pondering of aforementioned wonderful shapes, stick-man drawings on the back of bus tickets, doodles in students’ notebooks when one should be listening to scales…. and knitting all day yesterday until 1am to see if something would work out…

(it did)

Obsessively yours,

Knitting Neels


November 28, 2007

A casualty and a new beginning

Filed under:News!,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 14:37

I’m not really anal about my knitting paraphernalia but when it comes to sock needles, I am. I object to people using them as toothpicks, nail cleaners, back scratchers, head scratchers, and as a scratcher for any other itch needing precise attention. But for my needles to come under fire from myself throwing a big purse into an already-crammed-full bag… the crunch was too much to bear.

I screamed. Outside Centra. In Drumcondra. Got Looks. Don’t CARE!!!

These were my souvenier Lantern Moon needles from New Jersey. I guess I should have been more careful. At least I have a spare one to finish the socs because I was only using four of the set of five.

Needless to say, I couldn’t really touch the socks for a while. I cast on for my mother’s new and improved cardigan instead!

What’s this? I hear you ponder. Knitting flat? Yes… but only for a while. It’s a top down set in sleeve. This is the back as far as the armhole. I’m going to unpick the provisional cast on you see at the top there (navy) and knit the front down the other side. Then I’ll join them in the round at the underarm. This will be a cardigan but as time really is of the vanilla essence, I can’t afford to knit it flat. It will have to be steeked. But isn’t that tweed gorgeous?

Dear Mum, Fancy a voucher for Christmas instead? 😀


November 26, 2007

Busy Days

Filed under:News!,Stash,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 15:31

I thought I was going to have to play at a gig on Sunday afternoon, but as it turned out I didn’t, so I went to visit you know who instead (he is very well thanks). The great thing about visiting anywhere by public transport is all that extra knitting time.

This is still the first sock. It took me a while to memorise the pattern but I’m at the heel flap now so hopefully things will start moving quicker. I’m very intrigued by the pattern; it’s funny how such a simple textural feature can really change a meagre sock.

The wrap is moving along really well. I cracked open the second ball this morning on the way back, and I’m starting my fourth repeat of about six – I’ll try and stretch it to seven if I have enough yarn. Each repeat has 36 pattern rows (so really, each one is 72 rows) and takes me about an hour and a quarter to complete. Lace really makes you work for it sometimes!

There has been some stashing but it won’t be resting for very long. My sister requested a hat for my brother in law. This suits me well because I’d been planning on making him a hat anyway!

Brioche rib, methinks

And I had to find a replacement yarn for my mum’s Christmas cardigan.

She loves it!


November 20, 2007

Knitting for Teachers

Filed under:News!,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 15:32

The more I realise that I do not want to be a piano teacher, the more I appreciate the work that piano teachers do. I often do examining work for the Academy and get to meet piano teachers from around the county on a regular basis. As in any profession, you get the usual mix of people: some are a bit fruity, most are quite normal and a few are extraordinary. What makes the extraordinary teachers very extraordinary is that you don’t even know it when you meet them – you know it when you meet their students. Students who, regardless of their age or ability, love playing the piano and love showing you the new things they have learned. It takes extraordinary teaching to instil such a passion and to be generous and encouraging enough to let it grow and enrich the student. Most of us have had a teacher like that in our lives. For me, I have been lucky enough to have had a few. My mother instilled a love for reading in me and not a day goes by that I am not grateful for it. I had a pretty quirky English teacher in Transition Year who pushed me to explore literature beyond what I could find at home. And my piano teachers at the Academy have all had a profound influence on my development as a musician and human being in general.

So, to me, it’s pretty obvious that I should knit them some presents for Christmas and share a part of something that I am mad about with them.

Lozenge Socks

This is a pattern from Barbara Bush’s Vintage Socks. Knit on 2mm needles, I’m getting quite a dense fabric but I think it will be perfect. I even knitted a gauge swatch for these guys. I never swatch for socks! I’m using my new Lantern Moon needles that I picked up in New Jersey on my last visit. I half-picked this pattern to use the needles!

Wave Lace Wrap

I made a great start on this but after about two repeats, I decided I didn’t like the pattern, ripped it out and dug this one out instead. This is the progress I made yesterday evening at the Glasnevin knitting meet-up (knit-up?). Pretty good going considering there was a pint of cider involved and much giggling. The yarn is Kidsilk Night from Rowan and has a beautiful glitter throughout. I’m knitting this on 6mm needles so hopefully this will go quickly.

Intrigued about the Glasnevin group? Well, at the moment there are just three of us: Heidi, Laura and myself. We meet in Botanic House at Hart’s Corner every Monday evening at 6pm until about 830pm. This is a great pub for knitting because it is warm, it is really bright, they have comfortable couches, they serve good food, play good music and haven’t said anything about the knitting. Want to come along? Hart’s Corner is served by the 19, 19A, 13, 4, 4A and 83 from town and Ballymun, and by the 40, 40A/B/C/D from town and Finglas. If the train is your thing, it’s about a 10 minute walk from Drumcondra station. Everyone is welcome!


November 18, 2007

Trundling along

Filed under:Finished Objects,News!,Stash — Aileen @ 10:46

Things have been going really well. I used to think that once I didn’t have to practice the piano so much I wouldn’t know what to do with myself, but as it turns out, I’m now busier than ever before. I’ve started on the Christmas presents – the less essential are first and will be given before I go home for holidays. This one worked up so quickly that it didn’t have time to be a work in progress!

Moebius, Craftspun Handspun

If you have yet to discover the joy and wonder that are Moebius scarves, I hope this gives you the impetus to find out more. A moebius is a maths concept; a one-sided circle; a representation of infinity; a multi-purpose scarf/cowl/wrap. For this one, I cast on 30 stitches on 8mm needles and knit every row until all my wool was gone. Then I put in the twist and sewed it together (I ended up doing this because I forgot to start with a provisional cast on which would have resulted in the far more enjoyable finish of grafting the two ends together). It took me an evening and a bit.

On Friday, I picked up some stuff to make other presents. Once my teacher, John, found out that I knit (the thing in the paper etc etc) he requested a pair of socks.

Matchmaker Merino 4-ply

As I told Lisa, he’s a guy that gets funky with his ties…. but not socks. So I’m going to play it safe and knit a pair of black ‘lozenge’ socks from Barbara Bush’s excellent Vintage Socks. They’re quite plain but have a diamond pattern outlined in purl stitches to give a little texture.

I have another teacher too. I see Thérese every week when John’s away (which is a lot). She’s into her style and glamour so I thought a sparkly wrap might suit her better than some socks.

Rowan Kidsilk Night

I think a basic rectangular shawl with a pretty stitch pattern on large needles will do the trick for this. I’m going to start both of these today because time is of the vanilla essence.

In other news, I confronted my mum about whether or not she really likes the aran cardigan I’d started for her: No. She’d prefer something more soft and squishy. This made me pretty happy because I had lost the love for the cardigan. A good idea maybe, but not this time. We settled instead on an plain knit cardie that just fastens in the middle with a button or shawl pin. I predict a top down set in sleeve, steeked up the middle, short seed stitch bands and hems, fancy pin to fasten it. Yummy!

I’ve been spinning too. I plied my first little ball of tops (the rainbow coloured one) and the other stuff I spun and plied has dried out too.

I still have lots more of the brown and beige to spin so hopefully I’ll have enough to make a hat. I think the beige would be cool for a zig-zag pattern.

I have been sewing too, but I don’t have any photos yet because all I’ve done is cut out some lining for a wool skirt. I think it’ll be really nice! It’s a basic A-line skirt with a recessed pleat at the front. Speaking of sewing, you know Hickey’s in Stephen’s Green has shut down? Now there’s only Hickey’s on Henry Street and their customer service leaves a lot to be desired. I picked out my pattern and fabric and made sure to get the right size pattern – the lady assured me that a UK 10 is the same as a Butterick 10. She really was certain of it. I got home, pulled out my pattern and decided that I’d better compare my measurements to that of the pattern to be sure of what size to cut out. It turned out that I was a Butterick size 14 and that size wasn’t covered by the pattern. Sigh. I brought the pattern back the next day only to be told they didn’t have the larger pattern size and to pick another one. No apology. No refund. Just pick another one. So I picked another Simplicity pattern that required the same amount of fabric. The woman went to ring it up without even letting me see it or check the sizes! She was extremely unhelpful. It was very off-putting and I’ll probably buy my patterns online now instead. It would probably work out cheaper – the Butterick pattern I bought initially was €10 and I had to pay €2.60 more for the Simplicity one. I can’t wait until I’ll be able to make what I want without needing a stupid expensive pattern.