Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Ridgeway

Out-and-about today with the twinnage and the stoic spouse. No, this isn’t a knitting post, but I’m 80% of the way through my latest project and will “ta-dah” it in a few days’ time.

So, we went to part of the Ridgeway. I’ve often walked small sections of this ancient 85-mile trail before. It’s a long, raised chalk ridge, trudged for at least the last 5000 years by herdsmen, traders, soldiers, and other travellers. Its height helped navigation and security, and raised it a little over the boggy lowland. The trail stretches southwest to northeast across a chunk of central southern England, and over millennia it came to be peppered with landmarks such as the Uffington White Horse, numerous Iron Age hill forts, and at its end, the World Heritage Site stone circle at Avebury. We didn’t get near Avebury today, but here’s a photo I took there with friends a few years ago.

Avebury stone circle

Avebury stone circle

And while I’m at it, here’s a view inside the excavated Neolithic barrow at Avebury, constructed 5600 years ago:-

My friend inside West Kennett Barrow

My friend inside West Kennett Barrow

Anyway, back to today. We were in Oxfordshire, dawdling at toddler place along a wide section of ridge:-

View from The Ridgeway

View from The Ridgeway

The sky was pretty funky:-

Impressive sky

Impressive sky

And we wandered along the wide track reasonably contentedly:-

The stoic spouse and the twinnage on a The Ridgeway

The stoic spouse and the twinnage on The Ridgeway

And finally, as the sun set, we headed back towards the car:-

Sunset over The Ridgeway

Sunset over The Ridgeway

Not a bad trip, especially as the stoic spouse drove, so I could knit in the car. 🙂

Edited later to add: and now, the children are abed, and I’m drinking pink champagne in front of a roaring log fire whilst knitting. I’ve had worse days.

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Knitted Chicken

OK, it’s not a chicken, it’s a cockerel.

My friend dropped heavy hints that she wanted a knitted model of Tuesday, her lovely pet chicken:-

Tuesday the pet chicken

Here she is, visiting our house. And here’s the replica. OK she’s had a gender change and lost her beautiful markings, but having spent days (and days) on this, I’m a bit chickened out.

Knitted chicken

Knitted chicken

image

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Knitted Christmas decoration

I had to share this with you. Look! Look at the cables! Look at the stockinette!

Knitted Christmas decoration

Knitted Christmas decoration

It’s about eight inches wide, and I found it in an unprepossessing-looking card shop in a town near here. T’was far too expensive for what it is, and one tumble on to our hard floors will undoubtedly shatter it, but I couldn’t resist.

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Knitting: it’s everywhere, this Christmas

A while ago, I blogged about knitted motifs being trendy at the moment, especially fairisle designs.

To a fairisle addict like me, this both gladdens my heart (the world is coming round to my way of thinking at last – I wonder what took it so long?!) and worries me (’tis written in the rules that Whatsoever Is Trendy Today Will Be Deeply, Shamefully, Untrendy Tomorrow, and I say that as someone who proudly wore fluorescent orange fluffy socks for all six weeks that they were cool in the 1980s – what was I thinking??)

Since writing that piece, lovely internetty friends have been sending me more examples that they’ve snapped, and I’ve seen quite a few more besides. Fellow fairisle knitters, and knitters in general, hold your heads high and adjust your lovely stranded sleeves with pride, for our moment has come and we are cool.

So, without further ado, here are samples of the unknitted knitting that you can see round here at the moment:-

First, we have Waitrose (translation for non-UK people, whom I realize comprise most of my readership: Waitrose is an upmarket-ish supermarket). All their Christmas signage around the shop has a giant stockinette-pattern background, with a scattering of stranded work. I wonder whether somebody knitted the original, or whether it’s entirely computer-generated?:-

Waitrose knitted signage

And their products have gone all knitty on the box. Here’s some festive yumptiousness:-

Waitrose knitted pies. Photo with permission from Selma at eclectichomelife.blogspot.co.uk

Waitrose knitted pies. Photo with permission from Selma at eclectichomelife.blogspot.co.uk

Oooooh, look at that cabling! (Thank you, Selma. 🙂 )

And I think this loveliness might hide some stollen:-

Waitrose knitted packaging. Photo courtesy of Selma at eclectichomelife.blogspot.co.uk

Waitrose knitted packaging. Photo courtesy of Selma at eclectichomelife.blogspot.co.uk

So that’s Waitrose. Then we come fractionally down-market to another supermarket, Sainsbury’s, who’ve gone a bit knitted on their crockery:-

Sainsbury's knit crockery

Sainsbury’s knit crockery

Wilkinsons (not-upmarket everything-shop) have truly embraced their stockinette:-

Wilkinsons stockinette

Wilkinsons stockinette

And again:-

More Wilkinsons stockinette

More Wilkinsons stockinette

And I was given a Christmas present wrapped in this:-

wrapping paper

Very pretty, very knitted, but I’m not sure how you’d manage to create those reindeer in the top left corner.

Is it just the UK? Or is fairisle taking over the world?

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Knitted Reindeer Head

Well, operation Christmas is in full swing. The tree is up:-

Christmas tree

Christmas tree

I’ve begun Christmas shopping. I’ve started replying to emails asking “What do you want for Christmas?” The stoic spouse has experimented with a different form of roast potatoes for each of the past seven nights, ahead of his culinary efforts on the big day. And the reindeer head I knitted a few months ago has been brought downstairs and adorned with baubles:-

Knitted reindeer head all dressed up for Christmas

Knitted reindeer head all dressed up for Christmas

Other than writing my cards, tidying the entire house, preparing rooms and beds for nine, finishing shopping, finishing knitting jumpers for the twinnage and a chicken for my friend, there really isn’t much to do. Bring it on!

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The Ugly Duckling And The Beautiful Swan

I’m going to be controversial here, again. First, I want you to imagine something. We’ll call this Scenario A:-

Imagine, you were in the LYS, and you saw the most stunningly beautiful skein of wool. ‘Twas gorgeous, wasn’t it? Pure cashmere, homespun, dyed with love and care. All those rich autumnal colours blended in just the right proportions. Curled tightly in its skein, red tumbled into sage green, and when you squished it, you glimpsed a flicker of orange amongst its browns. Admit it, you were in love.

So, you parted with hard-earned/sneakily-stolen/fortuitously-inherited cash and you bought the amazing yarn, and then you carried it home on the bus, or perhaps Jeeves chauffeured you home in the Bentley that day, and all the way you were smiling, just to know that so much beauty was yours.

And when you got home, you cast aside the afghan you’ve been diligently knitting for your grandmother, and you started to knit the beautiful yarn. Maybe you made a scarf – something simple because a wool this wondrous does all the work itself.

And then you tried it on.

And you thought… “Meh.”

Because the thing is, the beauty of the yarn was displayed with unsurpassable perfection in the ball, and now… well it’s just a stripy scarf. A pleasant stripy scarf, but it is no longer a thing of perfection.

(I’m not posting pictures here, because I don’t want to offend/libel any yarn producers.)

And now, consider Scenario B. You see some yarn. It looks nothing special, nothing you’d want to knit/crochet with. A bit of a cacophony of colour, designed in the dark by someone high on amphetamines. So you pass it by.

But then, you happen to see something knitted in this yarn, and you browse Ravelry and see some more, and you realize that this is the ugly duckling of the knitting world, and knitted up, it miraculously just works.

Or is it just me?

Scenario B is a recent one for me. I have some Adriafil Knitcol, an Italian 100% merino DK. It looks like this:-

Adriafil Knitcol

Adriafil Knitcol

And also like this:-

Adriafil Knitcol

Adriafil Knitcol

Yeek!, I hear you thinking. And I probably wouldn’t have bought either colourway if I hadn’t spotted the shade card and realized that all those jarring, shouty colours settle down to work their aesthetic socks off when they’re knitted, and that those funny stripy bits turn into pleasing alternating stitches of red and white that break up the solids nicely. So the ugly duckling becomes a swan, and we have one jumper for the twinnage in progress, with another planned:-

Jumper for twinnage in progress

Jumper for twinnage in progress

And I’m learning a lesson about not being seduced by beautiful skeins of loveliness.

Have any of you had the same experience?

 

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Christmas decorations

Oh all right, I admit it, but only grudgingly. Christmas is almost upon us. ‘Tis the season of curmudgeonly old grumps like me cheering up. I need to stop knitting housey stuff and apply my mind to gifts, and guests, and grub. Actually, the grub’s covered because the stoic spouse is already engaged in his annual mission to source the best turkey in Western Europe. But I do need to think about the rest of it.

We have a tree! I’ve put it up in the slobbing-around-room next to the kitchen, because I’m planning to completely redecorate the living room before our guests arrive on the 24th. Yeah right, I hear the stoic spouse muttering.

And due to my sometimes anarchic creativity, we have some rather unconventional decorations for the tree. Exhibit A is a gold bauble hatching to reveal little Santas, one of whom is abseiling away. I had so much fun painting this:-

Santa hatching bauble

Santa hatching bauble

And then I painted Santa pausing for refreshments:-

Santa

Santa

And clearly a cow needs a Santa hat:-

Cow Christmas decoration

Cow Christmas decoration

Then I decided to paint a beaver who had just felled a Christmas tree. As you do.

Tree decoration

Tree decoration

And at last I painted something sensible:-

Painted Christmas decoration

Painted Christmas decoration

Finally, here’s a bauble that I didn’t make. Because baubles are pretty. Merry Christmas (bah, humbug).

Christmas bauble

Christmas bauble

If I get time, I’ll knit some fairisle baubles, but given my queue of projects, they’ll be ready some time around March. *Sigh*

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Fern cushion for bench finished

I know, I’ve mentioned this a few times, but it is – at last – done! Completely done!
Fern cushion

Fern cushion

I’ve sewn the two sides together around a custom-cut foam cushion, then sewn some white cord all the way around the join to make it neater. So… we have the green side (a couple of greenish shades of Rowan Fine Tweed roughly alternating):-

Green fern cushion

Green fern cushion

And we have the red/brown side, also comprising a few shades of Rowan Fine Tweed thrown together. This side is supposed to coordinate with the curtains, but I don’t think it’s as nice as the green side:-

Red-brown ferns

Red-brown ferns

And again, because I want to make the most of all 46000 stitches:-

Red-brown fairisle ferns

Red-brown fairisle ferns

Stranded knitting is rather addictive. You don’t have to grapple with loads of bobbins (unlike intarsia), and you can paint a picture in yarn. As long as you obey a few basics (not excessive runs of one colour, only two colours in any one row if you value your sanity) you can paint with yarn.

Talking of which, the knitted blog header is still awaiting its last few flowers before unveiling here. I’ve had to take a brief swerve to complete a couple of Christmas projects though. Pics to follow…

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46 000 tiny stitches finished! Yay!

Stranded cushion cover

Stranded cushion cover

46 000 tiny little stranded stitches on 3mm needles finished! Wheeeeeeee! Ten balls of  4-ply yarn (Rowan Fine Nordic Tweed, ordered from Deramores).

This is the second side of the cushion I’m making for our Victorian box settle:-

Late Victorian box settle

Late Victorian box settle

I love the bracken design – it’ll make me think of the wilds as we set off on our walks. Not that there’s any bracken round here.

So I knitted the triumphant last row. And I sewed my steek stitches to reinforce them before cutting:-

Cutting the steek

Cutting the steek

Before I blocked my knitting, I took a photo of my work next to the other side of the cushion, which has already been blocked. The photo doesn’t really do it justice, but the stitches in the blocked knitting are so much better behaved. They lie nice and flat and even, and all those grumpy over-tight stitches I knitted late at night have been evened out:-

Blocking before and after

Blocking before and after

So, clearly I need to block this blighter. Into a sink of cool water with a tiny bit of mild detergent it goes. Then a quick  swill around, a quick rinse, and I wrap the piece in a towel to get rid of some of the water. Finally, I pin it out on some towels laid over a polystyrene board, and wait for it to dry:-

Blocking my knitting

Blocking my knitting

Right, that’s done. And I’ve ordered a piece of foam to use as a cushion pad.

So, now to think about the c-word.

Christmas.

There, I’ve said it. Unlike about 105% of the blogosphere, I don’t really think about Christmas until at least 20th December. But I’ve weakened slightly. It is only 3rd December and I have put up some lights in the kitchen. I was shopping, and I saw them, and I fell slightly in love with their miniature silvery perfection. Look at these lovelies!

Christmas lights

Christmas lights

Does this mean that I need to start thinking about Christmas shopping now?

 

 

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An Iron Age hill fort and a break from knitting

Sometimes, I put the knitting needles down.

Just for a while, so that I can stretch my fingers.

Today, the stoic spouse, the twinnage and I actually went out together. At the same time. To the same place.

There’s an impressive-looking Iron Age hill fort near here that I pass on my way to work. I’d love to get a photo of it with the early morning sun draped across its terraces, but I’m generally late and in a rush. So today, we all went off to climb it. The weather was not kind to photographers, but the fort was pretty impressive.

Hill fort from below

Hill fort from below

You can see its terraces as you approach from below. Apparently there was a camp there from around 500BC, then a hill fort from around the 4th century BC to the 1st century AD.

getting to the top

getting to the top

You can feel the history of the place as you walk up each of the steep terraces. The lives that must have been lived and lost here. The wooden structures that must have been built. The eagle eyes watching the landscape around for approaching invaders.

view from the top

view from the top

Then at last we were at the top, looking down the other side.

view from the top

view from the top

The view in the opposite direction wasn’t bad, either. Defending this hill, you’d definitely spot the approaching hordes before they could get to you.

The twinnage was quite interested in a thistle:-

thistle

thistle

And soon it was getting dark, so we headed down.

evening sky

evening sky

Anyway, there is knitting to be done. Better get back to it. I have wine, I have a roaring log fire, I have knitting. The twinnage is in bed. The stoic spouse is roasting a joint of beef. All is well. 🙂

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