The Skirt Post

Ah, the skirt. (And thank you to the kind people in the comments threads who’ve been asking about it.) This post could probably be retitled ‘How not to design a skirt, you fool!’ but it will at least give you a laugh or two, I hope.

For those of you who are new around these ‘ere parts, allow me to elaborate. I decided on a whim to design a knitted stranded skirt and a crocheted bag, ahead of judging the Stylecraft competition. It seemed like a good idea. And whilst the bag was done in plenty of time, I ended up restarting the skirt at the eleventh-and-a-halfth hour, owing to my first attempt turning into a messy ol’ cacophany of colour and stripey chaos:-

Nope. Just wrong.

You see, this is what goes wrong when you try and design a skirt whilst simultaneously playing with toddlers. COLOUR/MOTIF ANARCHY!  Consider yerselves warned. This is a public service announcement by The Twisted Yarn.

I decided to aim for something a bit more serious and muted, second time around. I liked that pattern in the middle that I’d designed, so I modified it only slightly for attempt number two. You can see the design as I drew it out on paper in the picture below. (For once, I broke my cardinal rule about using knitter’s graph paper, but I wasn’t too fussed about the relative height and width of this motif, so it didn’t matter.)

This skirt is quite short

This skirt is quite short

Anyway, here’s what I did. This is more of a description of a process, than a pattern. I hope that’s OK for now?

The yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed DK, which is a fabulous yarn other than for the fact that it breaks if you as much as look at it. Oh all right, I’m exaggerating. You can look at it, but if you frown in its direction then *SNAP!* it breaks. Dear Rowan, I love your yarns, I really really really do, but please make less breaky Felted Tweed DK, yeah? Ta muchly.

All The Yarn.

All The Yarn.

Anyway, where was I?

This skirt was worked in the round from the bottom up. I cast on 203 stitches on 3mm circulars. Then I worked 10 rows of garter stitch, because you don’t want the bottom of your skirt rolling up, do you? Next, I knitted 6 rows of plain stockinette before beginning the motif I’d designed. This design is 29 stitches wide, so I repeated it 7 times to make up my 203 stitches. See, there’s method in my apparently-arbitrary-stitch-count.

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After another 11-or-so rows of plain grey-green, I began a second band of the motif. I say ‘or-so’, because the skirt is currently sitting in the Toddler Twinnage’s bedroom and they’re asleep. And whilst I love you very much, I don’t quite love you enough to risk waking the TT in order to give you an exact row count. Sorry.

Anyway, I finished the second band of colour and worked upwards in stockinette at high speed, as the clock cruelly ticked its way towards Yorkshire Day. The stress! As I worked, I reflected on all the uneaten toddler dinners I’d consumed recently which have had an enormously widening effect on my girth, so I started adding in a few KFBs, slowly increasing the stitch count per round from 203 up to a maximum of 225 at round 139. Obviously this is a highly individual thing, and if you’ve consumed less of your children’s discarded food than I have, then adjust accordingly, you lucky woman. I started decreasing again by one stitch per round from round 140, though, because I didn’t want acres of fabric around my waist. BUT THIS ISN’T MUCH OF AN ANECDOTE, IS IT?!

fairisle knitted skirt by TheTwistedYarn in progress

By the time I set of for Yorkshire last Monday afternoon, the skirt was so far from completion that any attempt to wear it would’ve resulted in my arrest not by the knitting police, but by the real police. I did give the thing a wash before I left, though, and blocked my progress-so-far on the back seat of my car whilst I drove. Resourceful, no?

Sadly, it wasn’t possible to knit and drive. And sadly, I didn’t get caught in any five-hour tailbacks, so there was no more knitting until I reached my hotel room for the night before the judging. The hotel was perfect. Here was the view from my window:-

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But there was no time for views, dammit! There was knitting to be done!

Man, my fingers flew. I have never knitted so fast. I paused only to go downstairs and have dinner with the lovely Annabelle Hill (sales director for Stylecraft) and equally lovely Sarah Neal (editor of Let’s Knit magazine). I felt so shy walking down the stairs towards the restaurant but honestly, they were both friendly and interesting and I needn’t have worried. The food wasn’t bad, either. :-)

And then it was back to the knitting, up in my room. Round and round and round and round. No, don’t fall asleep: have some more caffeine. Sit up straighter, try to stay awake. Just. Keep. Knitting. It reminded me of undergraduate days, desperately trying to stay awake for most of the night in an attempt to get the weekly essay finished. Oh, those nights: trying to figure out some statistical complexity whilst half mad on caffeine at 5am.

Morning came too soon.

By breakfast time, I had a nearly-decent length, but I needed a waist-band, so I switched to purple and garter-stitched as though my life depended on it. Time was ticking, as the bastard is wont to do.

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I knitted over breakfast at the hotel, and as luck would have it, I bumped into Sarah Neal. My advice to you? ALWAYS have the editor of a major knitting magazine around whilst you break your fast, in order to tap her wisdom as you knit and munch. Her advice? HAIRSPRAY. Yes, you read that right. I’d been moaning about how one of my many uncompleted tasks was weaving in the ends of this colour-splurge, so she suggested hairspray. For the first time in my life, I was grateful that I have hair that has much in common with an undiscovered jungle, because that means that I never travel without industrial-strength hairspray.

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So instead of the responsible knitterly weave-in-and-snip, I hacked:-

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…And then I sprayed:-

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And then back to the knitting. I added the occasional yarnover and k2tog, in order to make holes for a little belt I’d worked half way through the night. May I just formally record here the patience of Let’s Knit‘s Sarah Neal, who waited (and knitted) patiently whilst I worked the last couple of rows at the hotel before we set off for Stylecraft. (She was working on a jumper with gorgeous fan-like stitches. It was beautiful, and she claimed that it was simple.)

So then it was done, sort of. I do want to make the waistband much wider, but I didn’t have time that morning, so here’s how far I got:-

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It’s a little worrying, wearing a skirt that’s basically held together with hairspray, let me tell you. Would it make an audible ‘crunch’ when I sat down? Would it burst into flames if I walked past a smoker? Fortunately it did neither of these things, but I’ve learned an important lesson in life: ALWAYS HAVE THE EDITOR OF A KNITTING MAGAZINE ON TAP AT BREAKFAST.

To my shame, I wiggled out of jeans and into this skirt in the car park of Stylecraft’s mill at Slaithwaite, so I can only hope that nobody was looking out of their office window that morning.

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Here’s the reverse, because you always have to show the back when you’re knitting stranded, don’t you?

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And the weirdest thing (that you probably won’t understand)? I didn’t knit a single stitch for about four days after I came home.

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Distracted From The Knitting By Cake

So there I was, sitting innocently in the garden drafting the skirt post, and the post about looking round the Spectrum Yarns mill, when I was rudely interrupted by a silly idea that just would not go away. An idea that had nowt to do with knitting or crochet. And whilst I tried my hardest to concentrate on telling you about the luscious yarn being worked at that mill, this pesky idea grabbed me by the brain cell and dragged me all the way into the kitchen, whereupon it told me to look for some fruit, some bowls, and a cake tin. I swear that the idea chuckled a bit as I did its bidding.

The idea was this: wouldn’t it be fun to bake a sponge cake which was laden with different fruits in different sections, so you’d never quite know what you were going to bite into? (Am I making sense at all?)

So I poked about in the fruit bowl (and the fridge and freezer, it not being fruit season), and came up with an apple, some raspberries, a pineapple, blueberries, and a large squishy plum. I chopped up about a tablespoon-full of each. Yum! :-)

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And then I made up a quick sponge cake (recipe at bottom), one of those easy cheaty ones that involves just chucking everything in a bowl together and beating it until your arm hurts.

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(Serious bakers will be snorting in derision at this point. Fair enough.)

From then on, I really was winging it. I divided the mixture into five bowls, and stirred one type of fruit into each:-

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And then I dropped spoonfuls of each into the cake tin, keeping each fruit to its own patch in the tin, but acknowledging there’d be a certain amount of splurging and merging. What I DIDN’T do was pile one fruity mixture on top of another, because both fruits would probably have sunk to the bottom together during baking. Nearly done:-

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And then into the oven it went, producing the most mouth-watering smells. Look!

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Mmmmmmmm….

Want to see inside? Well this is the point where I remind you that this is a knitting/crochet blog, not a baking blog, and if you’re a serious constructor of cakes, you may want to look elsewhere. Really, I should have adjusted the consistency of each section of the cake to allow for the runny-ness of the fruit it contained but hey, life’s too short already. But you know what? I have cake and I don’t care. :-)

imageRecipe (massively adapted years ago from one in Mary Berry’s Fast Cakes book:-

9oz / 225g self-raising flour

9oz / 225g soft margarine

9oz / 225g caster sugar

3 eggs, beaten

2tbsp milk

1tsp baking powder

(And the fruits, obviously, chopped small. Roughly a heaped tbsp of each. I used five different ones.)

Combine everything except the fruit. Beat into oblivion with a wooden spoon. Then follow instructions above. Bake in an 8-inch / 20cm diameter deep cake tin at 180C for about 55 mins, or until surface is golden and springy to the touch.

AND NOW I REALLY AM GOING TO FINISH THAT SKIRT POST! (Thank you to kind commenters who asked about it.)

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Judging The Stylecraft Competition

And… breathe…

Right, so this is my post about co-judging the Stylecraft yarn competition. Settle y’selves, friends, for it threatens to be a long’un. There may also be gaps where I run upstairs to gullibly respond to yet another request from the Toddler Twinnage. (Y’know, twins, I’m not convinced that you’re really scared of the rain any more. Anyway, you’re still in trouble for that water fight in your bedroom half an hour ago that I’ve only just finished cleaning up. Now will you GO TO SLEEP?!)

Whilst I’m gone, you’re welcome to some of that wine but I’ll be honest, it’s not the best.

I’ve been waiting to write this post all week, but all sorts of things have had to come first, such as going to work (Wow, it’s been busy on the ward.) Meanwhile, thank you for your kind comments. And I promise that a skirt post is coming very soon!

So if you entered the Stylecraft competition, you’ll know already that the deal was this: send in something in a shade that you thought Stylecraft should add to its range of Special DK yarns. Could be anything: something painted, your toenail clippings, anything. (Thankfully, nobody did send in their toenail clippings.) The plan was to meet at Spectrum Yarns’ mill (they own Stylecraft) in Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire, to judge the entries and compile a shortlist of ten shades to be whittled down to one winner via a vote by YOU. My fellow judges were Sarah Neal (editor of Let’s Knit magazine), Lucy (Attic24 blog), and Annabelle Hill (sales director at Spectrum). Would you like to see us?

Phil (TheTwistedYarn), Sarah Neal (editor, Let's Knit), Annabelle Hill (sales director at Stylecraft), Lucy (Attic24).

Phil (TheTwistedYarn), Sarah Neal (editor, Let’s Knit), Annabelle Hill (sales director at Stylecraft), Lucy (Attic24).

We had a tour round the mill on arrival, but more on that in a separate and over-excited post. And then we settled down to business. Truly, it was hard to know what to expect in terms of entries. There were 350 of them, I think, and I helped open the envelopes with initial trepidation but then increasing fascination at the treasures inside. People sent photos, beads, slips of paper they’d coloured in, little jars of spices, a photo frame, nail varnish, a chocolate wrapper, scraps of fabric, and meticulously-compiled mood boards that must have taken happy hours to compile. They also wrote cards and letters explaining their choices and sometimes suggesting names for the new yarns they were proposing. All of it was fascinating. None of it was dull. It was so varied and imaginative. And there were no toenail clippings.

Stylecraft judges

We laid them all out on a table, and then we were a little quiet for a while whilst we figured out quite how to begin. Can you blame us? There was so much loveliness here, but we could choose only ten. The range of suggestions was, as you’d probably imagine, huge. And yet there were certain concentrations of similar shades, whether reflecting new trends, or definite gaps in the existing range of shades, I wasn’t always sure at first. After all, the range of Stylecraft shades is already large:-

Stylecraft range

We decided to assemble the entries into groups of related shades, and then judge one group at a time, excluding any entries that were too close to existing Stylecraft colours, and debating which colours would work best both on their own and in combination with others from the range. That probably makes it all sound quicker and easier than it actually was, but at least we had copious tea (green, in my case), sandwiches, and cake to fuel us. I’ve definitely worked under worse conditions. ;-)

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It was interesting to notice each judge’s expertise and preferences. Sarah was incredibly thoughtful about colours that work together, and was a source of wisdom on the eternally tricky (apparently) matter of ORANGE. Lucy had clear ideas of bright palettes and combinations that work for her designs, as well as colours that are currently trendy. Annabelle – as you’d expect – had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Stylecraft’s existing range and where its gaps might lie. She wielded the Pantone scanner thingy, enabling us to translate random objects into recognised shades, including Sarah’s cardigan in the process of making a point. (No, Sarah’s cardigan wasn’t an entry.)

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And me? Well I was thinking about individual shades rather than any overall palette, because different projects demand such different colours, but I was also conscious of the arguable paucity of greens in the Stylecraft range. And I confess, I’m a sucker for a muted red or purple or green or orange: nothing too bright and gaudy, nothing too pale.

Anyway, we did it! No fur (or yarn) flew and no vows of eternal enmity were sworn: pretty much a success, I’d say. (The other three judges were lovely, in case it’s not obvious that I’m being flippant in that last sentence. I had dinner with two of them the night before, which confirmed my impression that judging was going to be both interesting and enjoyable.) Actually it felt like an honour to be sorting through the fruits of so many people’s creativity with three other colour/yarn-addicts. The hardest part was narrowing our initial selection of about sixteen possibilities down to the requisite ten… and even when we’d managed that, we decided that we weren’t happy with a couple of the ten after all, and had to backtrack a bit.

So…. ten (wonderful and quite diverse) shades have been selected. Want to see them? Well I’m afraid that I’m not allowed to share them with you for a few more days yet. But I will as soon as I can, I promise, and then we can talk about the next stage of the competition: how to vote for the final winner.

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Stylecraft Competition, Yorkshire, Internet Friends, And Champagne.

Oh where to even begin?

I’m back from yarn-filled, sun-drenched (despite any regional stereotypes you’ve encountered) west Yorkshire. I have so much to show you – more, I think, than can realistically be shoe-horned into one blog post, unless you like your blog posts encyclopaedic.

Obviously, to anyone who’s been dabbling ‘Yarnside a-lately, there’s the main event, co-judging the Stylecraft / Let’s Knit competition to find a luscious new shade of yarn. Here’s a teaser photo, but this fabulously colourful event warrants its own post:-

judging...

My fellow judges. Left to right: Annabelle Hill (sales director at Stylecraft), Sarah Neal (editor, Let’s Knit magazine), Lucy (Attic24 blog).

…And having had the fascinating experience of a tour round Spectrum Yarns’ mill (where the judging took place), I’d love to show you the embarrassingly few photos that I took. Another post!

And then the knitted skirt and crocheted bag I designed for the occasion deserve their own post, especially the skirt, completed over breakfast on judging day with hairspray-related advice from the editor of Let’s Knit magazine to complete its details. In fact, the whole wonderful Yorkshire experience deserves its own post, ending with a dash even further north to meet up with Gill from the Greenclogs blog, whom I’ve been gradually getting to know online, and who turns out to be every bit as lovely/creative/clever/kind/interesting as I imagined she’d be in person. (Pity I went all socially anxious and scarcely let the poor woman squeeze a word in edgewise.)

crochet house bag

…And three other little things that I’ll say here, because they’re not big enough for their own blog posts:-

(i) Thing the first.

Today, Colin The Postie delivered many things (let’s gloss over the tedium and financial demands of most of them), including an issue of this coming month’s issue of Simply Knitting magazine (edition 133 – out todayish, I think?) with an interview with, erm, me, inside the back cover. Witness:-

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My column in Simply Knitting begins shortly, though it won’t be every month.

(ii) Thing the second.

I’m drafting this pen-and-paper, as always, this time in the garden whilst loosely managing the Toddler Twinnage, and I’ve just realized that a pair of great tits are breeding in the nest box beside me. Springtime squee! I couldn’t steal a photo of Mater or Pater Great Tit going in, so this blurry iPad snap of the home front will have to suffice.

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(iii) Thing the third.

(No bitterness here… Oh no, none at all…) So I got home from Yorkshire late, late, late last night, all braced for the weeping hordes to intercept me in the driveway, desperate in their need for maternal wisdom and salvage. Know what I found? No weeping whatsoever, but an empty champagne bottle in the sink and tales of unnaturally well-behaved children in my absence. Clearly, things function better round here when I’m not present. Sigh.

So, where shall we begin with this blogfest? the Stylecraft competition, surely? Right, I’ll get drafting…

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Hello West Yorkshire!

Another quick one. I’ve just arrived in Holmfirth in West Yorkshire, ahead of tomorrow’s judging for the Stylecraft competition at their mill in Slaithwaite. If you entered, very good luck! I can’t wait to see all the colours that you’ve sent in (although I’m a teeny tiny bit nervous about the objects that might have been sent in!!) I know that they’ve received loads of entries, so it’ll be quite a (happy, colourful) task. Here’s the view from my hotel room: rubbish photo on iPad camera because I haven’t brought my little gadget for downloading photos from my proper camera.

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I wish I could put my boots on and go walking, but there’s knitting to be done as I’m still working on that ****ing, ****ing, ********************ing skirt. The main skirt will probably be done in time, but I won’t manage the fairisle braces unless I stay up all night. Again, apologies for rubbish iPad photo:-

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The drive up here was long but sunny, and as soon as I’d got past Sheffield, the hills started rolling and I was surrounded by sheep-dotted fields edged by dry-stone walls and looming conifers, with lush green grass and hints of blackish peat beneath. Heaven. :-) The day has been cool but sunny and absolutely still, so windless that none of the wind turbines were moving and the air was hazy and distant hills bluish.

Now I’m sitting in my hotel room knitting and trying to identify a strange birdsong that I can hear. It’s sort of a long and enthusiastic warbling that starts low and reaches a shrieking crescendo. Someone in the avian world is, I think, flirting furiously, but who on earth can it be?

I’d better get back to the knitting.

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This Isn’t Going To Work, Is it?

A quick one, my fine friends, because I’m knitting against a deadline. And for now, the deadline seems to be winning. :-( I haven’t even drafted this post on paper; just opened the little flap in my brain behind which all the crazy lives, and let it all dribble out uncensored onto the keyboard. Consider y’self warned. And maybe fetch a stiff drink.

So Tuesday is Stylecraft judging day with Lucy from Attic24, and having self-imposed this ridiculous deadline of designing/knitting a new skirt to wear for the occasion, and then re-starting it at the eleventh hour, I’m in a pickle. The sort of pickle that might raise a few eyebrows from fellow judges at the indecent shortness of my attire. It’s just not happening fast enough. You know you’re in trouble when you give serious consideration to dealing with the weaving-in-ends problem by using Superglue. Here’s some progress:-

fairisle knitted skirt by TheTwistedYarn in progress

Ultimately, this is to be a skirt with funky fairisle braces, but that’s not going to happen in time, is it? I’ve been doing my best. I’ll spare you any pictures of the knitting-in-the-bath that’s been going on, but I’ve also been knitting at the bus stop…

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(Marks on hand = number of kfb increases worked so far.)

And I knitted at Oxford’s Museum of Modern Art whilst puzzling over topiary in a wig.

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…And I knitted on the pavement whilst sighing over the loss of part of the top floor of Oxford’s historic Randolph Hotel to fire the other night. Look top middle of this picture and you’ll see the most obvious damage. Sigh. It’s such a beautiful gothic building.

fire at Randolph Hotel

And now, if you’ll be kind enough to excuse me, I have some more knitting to do. Can’t wait to bring you pictures from the mill and the judging…

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Thank You, People :-)

A quickie, because I’m busy knitting. But I wanted to post a wee bit of enthusiasm because there’s a chance that maybe, just maybe, the Yorkshire Skirt will be done by Tuesday’s deadline (if I employ a team of minions to weave in the ends and block it on the back seat of the car on my way north). Look!

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But mostly I’ve come on here to say thank you for all the kind words and suggestions for my sore, knit-weary hand, and also for the encouragement. You’re kinder than I deserve, and I appreciate your words very much. I’ve been following your suggestions too, hunting around online for exercises to preserve hands that knit too much, as well as popping into town to buy a stylus for the iPad. I’m trying to take breaks from the needles. And my hand is a lot better for now, although it keeps sending little warning twinges. Actually taking breaks isn’t too difficult when the Toddler Twinnage are around, because we have to do things like go and say hello to the day-old lambs at the farm down the road:-

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“I wasn’t born yesterday, you know. Oh, hang on, actually I was.”

…in this sort of weather:-

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For those of you not in the UK, it’s suddenly insanely warm and sunny here, and it feels as though the whole population, not to mention the blossom and spring flowers, are emerging, blinking, into the light. It’s so sudden, it almost feels confusing. You mean I don’t need scarf and hat and mittens and a waterproof coat? Nah… you’re going to have to explain that one to me again…

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One final bit of excitement. I’ve swiped the image below from Facebook, ahead of my Yorkshire trip. :-) Six days from now I’ll be co-judging the Stylecraft competition and spending an entire day discussing delicious yarn shades. If you’ve entered the competition, good luck. I’ll bring back some photos of the mill to show you. (As for the photo below, I’m bottom right: it’s the worst shot of me ever taken. I seem to remember it was taken after being up pretty much all night with the Toddler Twinnage.)

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SIX DAYS?!!!! Excuse me, I’ve got some knitting to do….

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In Which Life Conspires Against Knitting

My first thought when I woke up this morning was… “Ow.

My second thought was, “Owwwwwwwwww. Ow.

The over-ambitious design-and-knit-a-stranded-skirt-in-10-days insanity plan just got even more unfeasible. Lately I’ve been having problems with the knuckles of my right hand two littlest fingers hurting if I, (i) knit/crochet too much, and (ii) surf the net on the iPad continuously and insomniacly from 2am to 5am, and (iii) spend too many nocturnal hours indulging the Toddler Twinnage’s wish to sleep with their heads resting on my outstretched hands. I suspect I’ve been doing too much of all of these things recently.

So now I have a (trivial) problem that’s quite hurty. I don’t mind knitting on pain (a lass has to suffer for her art, darling), but I do mind the risk that this could escalate to a scenario where someone with relevant qualifications frowns at a scan image and says, “DO NOT KNIT.” Especially as the knitting has just landed me a magazine column. That would be timing on the wrong side of wrong.

Writing seems to be OK (I’m drafting this with pen and paper, as I always do before typing it up.) So whilst I can still scrawl, shall I show you my meagre progress on the skirt?

This skirt is quite short

This skirt is quite short

Now as I said in my last post, beginning again and changing the colour scheme of the skirt meant buying more yarn, on a timescale that precluded online ordering. So on Saturday, I bundled the poor Toddler Twinnage into my Stink-Wagon car, and headed off to Oxford to hand over some serious cash at a couple of yarn shops. <Waves to Oxford Yarn Store. :-) > I even managed to find a sneaky parking space for the Stink-Wagon. (Sneaky parking for free in Oxford is an art that’s taken me years to perfect.) Score= life: 0, knitting: 1.

All The Yarn. It's Rowan Felted Tweed DK, By The Way.

All The Yarn. It’s Rowan Felted Tweed DK, By The Way.

But it seemed kinda unfair to drag the Toddler Twinnage all that way just for yarn, so we popped into Oxford University’s Natural History Museum, to nod a hello to the dinosaurs. The Twinnage LOVE dinosaurs. (One day, I’ll tell you about the dinosaur I once found.) It was a beautiful day to drift about in a beautiful building – it’s like a cathedral to the natural world, and I’ve always loved it, ever since I arrived as a nervous undergraduate student in 1991.

oxford natural history museum

The Twinnage were predictably impressed by the dinosaurs:-

Don't Mess With Mr T-Rex

Don’t Mess With Mr T-Rex

The other fossils were pretty cool, too, including this ammonite:-

Twin Included For Scale.

Twin Included for Scale

But the clock was ticking, and there was no knitting. Score= life: 1, knitting: 1.

It was such a nice day that the Stoic Spouse (who happened to be in Oxford too) came and joined us at this point, and we had lunch at the Head Of The River pub in the sunshine. Score= life: 2, knitting: 1.

Round the back of the Head Of The River is a place where you can hire row-boats and punts. I am so over the whole punting malarkey after one too many drunken, soggy, raucous experiences in my youth, so we paid for an hour in a rowing boat, because we thought it would be a fun new experience for the Toddler Twinnage. Amazingly, given how scared of everything they are, they loved it. Score= life: 3, knitting: 1.

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The Stoic Spouse Rows. Stoically.

And just in case you think I didn’t pull my weight. (Excuse greasy hair and no makeup.):-

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I was carrying my knitting with me the whole time, in the desperate hope that I could squeeze in a few rounds when the Stoic Spouse wasn’t looking, but it just wasn’t happening, and I realized after a while that my poor yarn was sitting in a fat puddle at the bottom of the boat. There’s no photo of this event: it’s too depressing.

Score= life: 4, knitting: 1.

Sigh. I’m not going to make it in time for next Tuesday, am I?

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This Is Crazy, No? NO?

I know you’ve all been there: the three more pairs of gift socks still to be knitted and it’s 10pm on Christmas Eve. Or the exquisite, fit-through-a-wedding-ring bridal shawl that the bride really needs like, erm, tomorrow, for her wedding, and you’re only half way through the working the lace. OK, I made up these exact scenarios, but to a knitter/crocheter, they’re normal and completely understandable, right?

But I think I might have over-stretched myself this time. The knitting in question isn’t for someone else so it’s not that important, but I’ve got a deadline in my head that won’t go away, however much cold reason I fling at it. Cold reason such as, “Y’know, you probably ought to consider feeding your children at some point over the next week, and that’s definitely going to eat into your knitting time.” You see, on the 21st April – that’s a mere nine days away – I’ll be heading up, a long way up, to a mill in west Yorkshire to co-judge the Stylecraft yarn shade competition with Lucy of Attic24 and the editor of Let’s Knit. And given that the occasion will be all about the yarn, I’ve got it into my stoopid head that what I really (really) need is to design a new fairisle knitted skirt and a crocheted bag for the occasion. Well the bag is done and the skirt was underway, but…

Note the use of the word ‘was’.

The thing is, I wasn’t so much designing this skirt as distractedly doodling in semi-random shades as I went along, and the result was increasingly looking like a cacophony of ill-matched stripes of pattern and shades. I kept wondering whether to rip back and begin again, but the proximity of the deadline reminded me that I’d be mad to start again at this late stage. But the more I progressed, the more I thought, “No: this really isn’t getting any better, is it?”

Nope. Just wrong.

Nope. Just wrong.

I’m pleased with the fancy pattern in the middle of the photo above, though, because that’s the bit I actually put some time and careful thought into designing. This skirt really has been a lesson in taking the time to work and re-work design elements properly. So I decided to rip back to the start, and knit a skirt with a plain background, and several bands of that fancy fairisle stripe with the hearts and curls. Easy, no? Well no, actually, because I hadn’t got enough of the right colours if that was to be the plan, and delivery of more yarn would take a few days, especially as it’s the weekend. Aaargh! And all the while that these thought processes are going on, life and the Toddler Twinnage are pulling at my sleeve going “Mummy-Mummy-Mummy-Mummy-Mummy”, and my head’s all over the place, and I’m trying to figure out the timing to start my IVF drugs.

Anyway, a decision was made. Yesterday. Whilst there were still 10 days until Y-Day (Yarn Day). I was going to start again. Deep breath.

I began to unravel the skirt. Except I didn’t, because the Rowan Felted Tweed DK I’m using does like to get down and cuddle itself tightly once it’s been knitted, and it’s far far far far far too prone to breaking, so frogging this stuff just yields an unholy shredded tangle. So I sighed. And I clenched my teeth. And I picked up some of the remaining yarn that I did have, and began, again, to knit.

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Cast on 200 stitches using Old Norwegian cast on with 3mm needles. Work 10 rows garter stitch. Work another 6 rows stockinette, increasing (with kfb’s) on the last row to 203 stitches. Begin pattern. Here we go….

Do you think I’ve got any chance at all of making it? There’s plenty more I could tell you, in this very twisted yarn, but I’ll save it for the next post, because right now I really need to do some knitting. Suffice to say that my chances of getting this thing done have already been seriously hampered by a large river and some dinosaurs.

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The Bag Lady

The crochet house-bag-thingummy is done! Want to see it? (Please say ‘yes’. Or at least, ‘Oh all right then, if I absolutely must.’)

I began construction of the crochet house around the same time that men in big boots and hard hats arrived round here to build far too many new houses on the periphery of our previously lovely village and buy up all the best sandwiches from the village shop for their lunch each day. And I can now report that building a house takes a couple of months, regardless of whether it’s constructed of yarn or bricks. There’s more swearing involved in the crochet version, though. Trust me on this. The builders would have blushed if they’d heard me.

The bag began life in my head as a pretty cottage, but I feared that something wide might sag in the middle, so it ended up rather more like a Victorian mid-terrace. And its proportions would no doubt offend any serious architects. Sorry about that.

Stitch-swatching aside, it worked up fairly speedily, other than the shoulder strap which I worked round and round and round with ever-decreasing enthusiasm. I wanted this bag to be strong and durable, so that meant doing some sewing. I bought some cotton and lined it with iron-on interfacing.

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First the handle, and then the body of the bag…

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Ably assisted by my sewing-expert parent, Mother Twisted, who increased two dimensions of fabric to three whilst I was busy being distracted outside by the Toddler Twinnage:-

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And then I hand-sewed the lining inside:-

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But you need to see the finished thing, I hope. Here it is!

house 1

And again!

house 2

And again!

house 4

And look, it holds all the things!

house 3

As I’ve said before, I’m planning to make a knitted version too, which was going to be very similar, but Mother Twisted has been dropping heavy hints about a thatched cottage bag.

There will be a pattern for y’all to try if you so wish, but I need a little bit of time to write it up. Watch this space!

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Filed under Crochet