March 14, 2011

On knitting, cycling and so on

Filed under:Cycling,News!,Sewing,Socks,Sweaters,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 12:04

I’ve had a busy time of it recently but things are settling down – no more playing for competitions or exams for another month or so. There has been knitting. Check out this mega cable.

I’m nearly finished the body of Graystone. I tried it on and let me tell you, that cowl is humongous! Perfect for this damp, chilly weather we’ve been having.

I got a discount code for a book from the Book Depository so I finally caved and got Folk Socks by Nancy Bush. I went off knitting socks there for a long time. I came across this book through Ravelry and somehow got sucked back in. Just like Knitting on the Road, it is full of social history and intriguing tit-bits all about socks. Here are my Welsh Country Stockings.

I don’t know what makes them Welsh (maybe the little pattern?) but I like them very much. I learned a new cast on for it and it’s one that I think I will keep for ribbed cuffs. I started off on 2.25mm needles but eventually ripped it out and restarted on 2mm. They were turning out a little baggy. I have some lovely 2mm double points but they’re so thin, they kept bending in the warmth of my hands. Yesterday, I dropped into This is Knit and picked up some metal ones instead. It has been a very long time since I knitted with a metal needle… so I wasn’t as cautious as I should have been when it came to leaving my knitting on the sofa last night. There is now a very neat, deep hole in the sofa… and one to match in my leg! I don’t recommend it!

When we were in London, I had to get a toiletries kit from the hotel reception because I forgot my toothbrush, toothpaste and any form of shampoo or soap. It came in this neat little hard case. I liked it so much, I kept it for holding my sock!

An update on Bertha: we were grinding very slowly to a halt through January and February, thanks to a slow puncture. A friend of mine with tools and know-how came over one evening, replaced the tube for me and also lent me a far superior pump to the one that I was using. We’ve had a new lease of life ever since! It’s astonishing what a difference it can make. It’s really starting to get into bicycle weather now and it makes me happy to see an ever-increasing number on the streets of Dublin.

Sometimes I don’t feel so excited about cycling but I find reading blogs like Academichic, Let’s Go Ride a Bike and of course the original Copenhagen Cycle Chic keep me fresh and interested!

Lastly, let me tell you about a book I got yesterday. It’s called Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear. I have often looked into getting a book on this topic but, despite reading countless reviews online, could never figure out what would be most useful to my needs. I find myself increasingly drawn to nicely-cut but plain clothes – pieces that I can wear for a few years and update with different shoes, accessories, a trendy blouse or skirt. These are things that I would like to learn to make myself. This book is exactly along the same lines as what I was taught at the Grafton Academy when I did the sewing course a few years ago. It is very clear and outlines all the simple blocks needed for tops, bottoms, sleeves, dresses and so on. All the blocks are laid out at about 25% of actual size. This is something I’m familiar with from the classes I took; everyone had to take down the notes and reproduce the block at 25% in their notebook. Initially we practised scaling it up to 50% and then actual size. Having done that, I am pretty confident I wouldn’t have a problem adjusting the blocks outlined in the book to my own size. I would like to make up some simple skirt shapes just in calico to practice drafting for my own size and making the shape. It’s a bit nerdy but I think it would be fun and give me a better understanding of how patterns work. If you’re in the same boat as me, maybe this book would interest you.

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March 7, 2011

There and back

Filed under:Finished Objects,Lace,Mittens,Shawls,Travel — Aileen @ 16:18

We spent the weekend in London. We went primarily to catch the Toronto Raptors (which was brilliant! one of the best things I’ve ever been to!) but we had some time for other things. We swung by the Tate Modern and did the London Eye. We wandered a lot. Its infrastructure, a scratch-for-every-itch, bubbling populace makes it very similar to New York but I think the charm of London is the narrow, winding streets and the Alice-in-Wonderland feel to wandering around.

I had time to knit and finished Celaeno last night when we got home.

I haven’t had a chance to block it out yet. There’s something I really like about unblocked lace.

I ran out of yarn two rows from the end but I don’t think it really affected the end of the lace pattern very much. I also finished up a pair of garter mitts for my dad.

The pattern is Ysolda’s and the yarn is possum/merino that my friend Heidi sent me from New Zealand. I already knit Dad a beanie from this yarn but had enough left over to make these. They are extremely warm!

And my London spoils? We managed to squeeze in a quick trip to Loop in Islington. If Cath Kidston or Avoca opened up a knitting shop, this would be it. It is filled with gorgeous yarns, many from renowned dyers such as Malabrigo, Madeline Tosh, Hand Maiden and Juno, as well as a variety of needles, bags of all sizes, journals and notebooks, shawl pins, books and so on. Most of what they stocked I knew I could get from my own This is Knit so I hunted quickly for things I couldn’t get at home and didn’t cost the earth. I came up with these:

The shawl pin is a funny purpley-brown (I thought it was just a normal brown but the light was dim). The yarn is a whopping 825 yards of extra fine lambswool in dark navy. The packet is full of T-pins for blocking and I’ll be using them later for my Celaeno!

It was a super trip and I’d like to go back again sometime. My thanks, of course, to Alb for bringing me to see the Raptors. True to form, we lost both games!

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March 3, 2011

Some FOs and some WIPs

Thanks everyone for your response on my last post. The concert in Mary Immaculate, Limerick, went extremely well, as did our violin duo concert in St. Pat’s, Drumcondra, last week. Things were a bit mental for a while as I juggled work, concerts, rehearsals, my regular lesson and then extra teaching from Vanbrugh Quartet at the weekend. I ploughed on and went with it but this week has been a come-down. Apart from my regular work commitments, I have nothing else on so there has been a lot of this….

…and not much else. This is Graystone from Veera’s Book of Gray. The yarn I bought ages ago – nearly two years at this stage, I think – for Ysolda’s Vine Yoke Cardigan. But the more I watched peoples’ projects on Ravelry, the more I was put off knitting it. A lot of people had issues getting the yoke to lay flat and most people found it too cropped. I think it’s very cute but maybe best kept for a time when I have more brain space to dedicate to it.

I love everything about this so far. The cowl neck is raised a bit at the back, the cable is assymetrical, the shaping is easy, I love it. Also on the needles is Celaeno from the 7 Small Shawls booklet I mentioned a few posts ago. I picked up this dove grey cashmere from Hedgehog Fibres via This is Knit. I find the subtle tones of blue, grey and tan very soothing.

I’m about halfway through the lace panel. I’m at a point in my knitting where I like lace to be interesting but not too hard. I mostly watch tv when I knit so a chart that’s easy to memorise is all I want. This pattern certainly has that.

I was cranking out the Splitbark mittens from Stephen West’s Book Two until we got some unseasonal spring weather. It was suddenly too warm for mittens so I put them down. Of course, now it’s back to being cold and I have already started the second one.

I finished up Ishbel. I used my own merino-silk handspun singles. I think I had nearly 400m of it! I wasn’t sure how it would knit up but I think it turned out quite nicely. I love the colour progression though I assure you, it is accidental.

I’m going to send this to the lady who minded me when I did the competition in Italy last May. I know it’s been a long time coming but better late than never, right? I wanted to make her something extra-special and I can’t think of anything more special than a handspun merino-silk handknit shawl!

…And I finally got around to sewing those cushions. My sewing machine is very slowly giving up the ghost. It refuses to sew zips and has decided that winding bobbins is just not the done thing. I had to finish these off by hand but I think they look ok. Frankenstein stitching is in next season, they tell me.

I don’t know about you but I find cushions really overpriced. When I went up to Ikea before Christmas, I found these cushion fillers for €2.50 each. Then I got a metre of this and 1.5m of this. I made two brown cushions and two patterned cushions (with brown backs) and still have enough leftovers to make something like a table runner for the coffee table. I got four massive cushions for €25, which is not too shabby at all.

Off to THIS for the weekend in London – Toronto Raptors play the New Jersey Nets in the O2 Friday and Saturday nights. I caught the NBA bug from Alb so we couldn’t believe our luck when the team we follow (Raptors) announced these games last August. They’re not the best team in the league but they’re our team and we’re very excited!

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