Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Why I don't like intarsia

I've cast on the sleeve for the Chinese Lanterns and I remembered why I don't like intarsia. When I was knitting the cardigan originally it was at this point I decided a single row of lanterns would be better!

I'm using the new yarn I got from Uncommon Threads. The colour is not a bad match: Old yarn on bottom, new yarn on top.

I actually had to angle the knitting in the light to show the colour difference, but there is quite a big difference in the texture of the yarn. I dont know if Rowan changed the base yarn for Cotton Glace in the last 15 years, or the original yarn 'softened' while stored. The old yarn is considerably softer and seems thicker than the new yarn. I'm hoping that a wash once the cardigan is finished will hide some of this difference. Otherwise I will need to keep moving my arms to disguise the effect.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sweater Hall of Fame - second place

This sweater is one that has survived and been worn more than many. I knitted it in the late 1980s/early 1990s from a Rowan pattern and its knitted in the called-for yarn which I think was Handknit DK. It's a really soft wool and as you can see it has pilled a bit.

I think I like it so much because it came out exactly as shown in the picture, except mine is in nicer colours (!). The colour really suits me well and I still like to wear this on the rare occasions that the temperature in California warrants. I think I'm particularly pleased with how the colour substitution worked out - this sweater was just not a disappointment as so many are.

Here is a close-up of the detail. I still like the cabled rib that so nicely mirrors the cabling on the sweater. If I had planned it in advance I might have knitted my name into the sweater, but as it was, its just as specified in the pattern: random letters.

I bought the yarn for this on sale at Reis Wools in London, I went with Christina who worked in the shop as a student. I still have the bag although Reis Wools is not more.

My favourite sweaters* First Place

Christina and I were talking about our favourite knitted items from the past, and since I have no current knitting to share I will show my old-time favourites.

First place goes to what was my first complex knitted item. I think I started with some plain stockinette sweaters (not scarves or hats oddly). Then in 1981 when I started at University I embarked on a Phildar pattern of houndstooth in yellow and blue mohair. I knitted it on 2mm needles (US 0) and it took me forever, but I wore it to death. The cardigan is no more, but I do still have the pattern.

I bought the pattern and all the yarn at the Phildar shop in Liverpool, in the days when Phildar had outlets in the UK, my friend Ingrid helped me chose it. Looking back I cant belive that I tried such a complex pattern as such a novice knitter, but I'm a great believer in desire as a motivator, and I wanted that cardigan.

* Which reminds me of Gill's favourite band of the 80s 'Haircut 100'!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Be there or be square

When looking for a picture for our living room I went rummaging in the attic and found a poster that has been rolled up in a box. I picked it up at the opening of the Tate Liverpool in 1988. I just got it back from the framers:

The Tate in Liverpool holds a particular affection for me: I was born in Liverpool, I was a student at the University from 1981-1984, and I did actually attend the gala opening event at the gallery (IBM had some sort of sponsorship deal for the opening celebrations).

The gallery is in the old Albert Docks which has another family association: my grandfather John Finlayson Sxxxxxx was a policeman in Liverpool, and rescued a man from the docks. I can only imagine that when these were working docks the condition of the water was considerably less appealing than it is now - and I would not voluntarily enter the water now.

It is really great to see some of the regeneration projects in this part of the city, once the docks closed, much of the waterfront was effectively abandoned. Now, there is quite a lot going on on the Mersey side. I have not been to Liverpool for more than 10 years, but I still read about events in the city from the University newsletter. One day I will take the boys there, but I wonder how much I will recognise?

This is a fun poster, but I like having it on my wall for all it's associations, as well as it's appearance.

Now you see it...

This is the view down the side of our house where there is an ancient decrepit fence covered in an equally ancient ivy. The ivy was, I think, planted when the house was built and is therefore nearly 60 years old. The fence is certainly that old and needs replacing.

We had several quotes to remove and haul away the ivy, but instead decided to do it ourselves. After a hard mornings work the view was somewhat different:

We rented a trailer to haul the ivy away to the recycling station, the fence will be replaced shortly.

We felt very much like the early days when we bought the house. It was a 'fixer' and due to financial constraints (!) we did a lot of the fixing ourselves. What we really ended up doing was a lot of demolition as that was firmly within our capabilities. Be were both tired but satisified with a job well done!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Picnics, parties, and prizes

Today IBM had a BBQ for employees in Vasona Park. They provided Beer, Wine and a choice of BBQ or Indian food, as well as some competitions and games.

Nigel, Finlay, and I went along, each equipped with a hat for the silly hat contest*. Finlay was the runner up and took away his very own camping chair. He was more pleased than you might imagine with it! Here he is pictured with the winner, Shaun, and his prize.

I was astonished that he was prepared to stand in front of a crowd of people while the winners were chosen by an informal "clapometer".

*Actually Nigel wore a hat for sun protection, not intending it to be silly, but still came close to winning! I wore one of the knitted pirate hats and also garnered a good round of applause - probably for wearing a knitted hat in 90 degree temperatures.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My oldest UFO and WIP*

*Unfinished Object and Work in Progress

I started this sweater a loooong time ago - maybe 12-14 years ago. I remember buying the yarn in John Lewis on Oxford St with Christina, but I dont remember the year. I think I remember it so clearly as I bought not only the yarn for this cardi, but also some cream cotton for a lace cardi, and at the time it seemed like a huge amount of money to spend. I did finish the lace cardi and still have it in my cupboard, I even wear it occasionally!

The pattern is Chinese Lanterns by Kaffe Fassett, however one row of the lanterns convinced me I didnt want to do a detailed intarsia cardigan. The real pattern has the lanterns in an all-over pattern. The problem now is that I dont have enough of the main yarn (Rowan Cotton Glace in Mint, colour 748) to finish the sleeves.

Although Cotton Glace is still in production, the mint colour seems completely unobtainable. Its hard to believe that missing out the lanterns should have used so much of the main colour yarn, especially as intarsia is so wasteful of yarn, but I had a bag full of the other colours and two balls of mint.

So my challenge is to try to knit something for the sleeves that uses the yarn that I have got and does not look too awful. I'd like the sleeves to be as long as possible so my current plan is to continue knitting the striped pattern with a band of mint between the repeats until I run out of mint. It's a pretty oversized cardigan, so the length shown is almost elbow length. Then I'm going to finish with the patterned rib.

I'm not sure what made me pick this up after so long, maybe just the sight of it looming out of my yarn box so reproachfully...?
Edited to add: Christina tells me we bought the yarn in 1992 - so that makes it 15 years old, Also I scored 3 balls of mint (I think) so am now planning to rip out the stripes and reknit the sleeves with a row of lanterns around the bottom.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Camping at Uvas

We went camping at Uvas Canyon this weekend. It's a small park with a very small campsite, there are only 20 or so sites, most of which are empty. The small size means that its an opportunity to let the boys play and explore with a minimum of supervision, which of course they love.

There are several trails, but the one we seem to do over and over is the waterfall loop which is short but steep. Its runs alongside the creek all the way with plenty of opportunity to mess about in the water looking for fish. Finlay took his magnifying glass, and Adam took his telescope to cover every eventuality of looking at things near and far.

The waterfalls are pretty small, but I was surprised to see that there was any water in them given our dry winter this year. We saw lots of lizards, and a Garter_Snake which really excited the boys. We also saw this fellow who I think is a California Newt. He was about 8" long and froze obligingly while I took a photo.

The boys took bikes and spent a lot of time racing around the campsite. Our friends came up for dinner with us bringing more wine, and turkish kebabs on swords (really - they bought them from a Turkish deli in Saratoga and had to leave a deposit for the swords). They children were all thrilled with the swords! Here are Alison and I testing the wine.

When we got home I asked Finlay what the best part of the trip was - he said "the eating"!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Schools out for summer

Yesterday was the last day of school, and the last day of Kindergarten for Adam. There was a graduation celebration in his classroom.

I actually got to see my son sing! Thier teacher made a short speech and presented the students with thier 'Kindergarten Diploma'.

The class also recited the Pledge of Allegiance. They make this pledge each morning once they are in first grade.

Fortunately they have learnt it at school, because neither Nigel nor I know the words.

I'm also delighted to report that Adam's school report for the year was really good - showing great improvement in all areas. We had cake to celebrate.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Green socks

The green cotton anklets are finally finished. I wanted some close fitting socks to wear with my trainers and these fit the bill.

The yarn is an elasticated cotton boucle, and the finished product is really nice, soft and stretchy enough to provide a close fit. However, I really didnt enjoy knitting it - I found the stretchy-ness of the yarn made it hard for me to maintain tension while knitting and it really messed with my knitting style. No more cotton socks for me!

The yarn came from Greenwood Fibreworks through Etsy, but I cant find a link to her. She does lovely hand-dyed yarns and this chartreuse colour is very pretty 'in the flesh'; intense green with yellowy undertones. As usual, an adaptation of my default sock pattern. I used to have some socks with a slight ruffle at the ribbing so I cast on very loosely to try to recreate that. I think that maybe a 1:1 rib might have been better for such short socks.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A grand day out

Nigel has unexpectedly spent most of this weekend working, so the boys and I decided to have our own adventure:

We cycled down to Vasona Park and had a picnic by the lake.

We then took one of the pedalos out on the lake. In 10 years I have never done this before - and after 30 minutes pedaling I understood's hard work! Adam was willing to help but his legs barely reached the pedals. Finlay's assistance consisted largely of grabbing the steering 'wheel'.

However it was really nice t0 see the park from the lake instead of the other way around.

Rosemary is off the needles

Rosemary fulfilled the requirement for a quick and satisfying knitting project. I started this top just over a week ago and am wearing it today.

The pattern is Rosemary from the Rowan Summer Tweed collection. Knitted in Tempo! Lina, a cotton/linen mix. I made no modifications to the pattern (not even unintentional ones!).

Friday, June 08, 2007

Knex creativity

The boys got their box of Knex out this week. Finlay made a satellite.

Adam followed the instructions in the box and made a race car.

This kept them busy for several hours! It interests me to watch the boys' creativity as they each have a very different approach: Finlay has a lot of imagination and is forever making things out of whatever he finds (for example the bee trap); Adam is more like me - needs to follow instructions - but once he has the intructions he can make something quite complex.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Rosemary grows

I did cast on for Rosemary from Rowan and have completed the back and about a third of the front. I'm really pleased with how it's knitting up.

The yarn is a cotton/linen mix that Christina got from ebay. According to Kristen it is a swedish yarn from a store equivalent to Woolworths that went out of business several years ago.

The yarn is really nice to knit and the slubby effect enlivens what is a lot of reverse stockinette, and, of course, the colour is very 'me'.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Estonian Garden Stole on the needles

I've been knitting on the Estonian Garden Stole a bit. Once I got going the pattern was easy to memorise so i'm whipping along with it. 7 repeats done, 34 to go before I get to the borders.

I really love the yarn; its a handpainted 100% silk, and contrary to my usual selection of colours, its really quite muted. The predominant colour is an olive green, but in photos the complementary navy seems to show more.

I'm using my new knitpicks Options needles. I didnt buy the entire set, just cords and the ends that I needed for this project. I actually prefer these to my Addis because the cord is very soft and the points are very pointy which is good for the lace work. I have not tried the new Addis for lace, but it seems like the Knitpicks needles are hard to beat, especially at this price. The join, even on this adaptable needle, is completely smooth.

My only concern has been whether they are as durable as Addis. One of the needles I was using for my secret knitting project broke last week. It snapped off the cord at the join and I guess it might have happened when I was putting the knitting into my bag. I called Knitpicks and a new needles arrived in 3 days, so the customer service is excellent.