Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Grumpy and travelsore

I have been, physically and figuratively, all over the place. Over the last twenty days I have cracked open Easter eggs in Edinburgh, visited my boyfriend in Madrid, been to an amazing hybrid Basque/Californian wedding in a town outside Bilbao, eaten a pizza in Pisa, walked on the beach in my grandfather's tiny village in Calabria, delivered a painting to Genoa, and, finally, limped back to Cambridge this evening. 

Apart from contributing to a fearsome carbon footprint and equally fearsome load of dirty washing, this journey gave me a lot of time to think, about this blog among other things. From now on, I intend not just to post about my completed knitted objects. Although I've been knitting A LOT recently (more on that story later), not only does 'Look! I finished something!' make for too infrequent an output for my liking, but I worried that it also could give a false impression of sporadic sterile success, without any of the messy, interesting stuff in between. I've just listened to the awesome Insubordiknit podcast, by a lady who spins blood red yarn with realistic, vein-y eyeballs, so things messy and interesting are on my mind.

I'm a little bit too sleepy to follow through on this at the moment, so I'll leave you with news that I am knitting two cardigans, both of them purple...

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Ishbel, ma belle

I haven't written anything bloggish in a while, as I've been trying to work on a spot of history, but I appear to be unable to concentrate today, so here's a little glimpse of what I've been up too...
I knit Ishbel, another Ysolda Teague design, in the luxurious  merino/cashmere Dale by Cariad. The colour is pleasingly called 'Salsa', but in this pattern it puts me more in mind of the scales of a koi carp. I do love orange, and this orange is so orange I suspect it might make other oranges resolve to try harder.

This yarn was one of a couple I picked up in Socktopus, and serves as a pleasant reminder of the two-day, cross-London odyssey me and my wonderfully knitting-tolerant boyfriend went on to try and find the place, after I missed out a vital step in writing down the directions to it. As far as I'm concerned, it was most definitely worth it...

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Stash shlepping

After what seems like no time at all in Cambridge, I am upping sticks again for another trans-European odyssey. And sticks is not all I'm upping...

Moving around the triangle Edinburgh - Cambridge - Genoa has definitely contributed to my stash problem. Each time I arrive in a new place I stock up on stuff I worry I won't be able to get elsewhere. I know I'll be returning to all of the points of the triangle before too long but... what if the yarn I want is gone by then? And I spend the rest of my life regretting not having bought it?

I accrue more yarn in flagrant denial of the fact that I can't take it all with me wherever I roam, which leads to agonising decisions about what to knit next. Which patterns are sufficiently intricate to keep me interested whilst travelling, but not so complicated that they have the potential to go disastrously wrong if I don't give them my full attention? Then there is the problem of what to do with skeins to which I have to bid a sad, if temporary, farewell. How can I look after their welfare in my absence? Well...

... by turning them into a big, vacuum-packed yarn asteroid, that's how. I'd like to see a moth try to break in to this airless fortress.

Incidentally, just now, as I was packing, I pulled out a shoe bag from my wardrobe and found this in it.

A single mysterious ball of a rather nice colour of felted tweed. Where, when, why did I buy this? What on earth was I going to make that would take just one ball? No idea. 

Sunday, 5 April 2009


Yesterday I finished Liesl, an airy feather-and-fan cardigan by Edinburgh knitting goddess Ysolda Teague, and today I got my friend Simone to take some pictures of me wearing it around various Emmanuel College vegetation.

This was fairly straightforward knit, marginally marred by a minor mare I had with one of the sleeves. The pattern is excellent, and provides so many different options - such as whether to make a bolero or cardigan - that I could see myself making a Liesl for every season. For a full-on Liesl experience, I listened to The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (where the inspiration for the name came from) on audiobook as I knit it.

The yarn is Fyberspates' aptly-named Scrumptious, in royal blue. It winked silkily out at me from the shelves of the marvellous k1 yarns in Edinburgh, and I snapped about 800 yards. I then worked myself into a bit of a tizz over what to make with it. It calls itself a dk, and I thought initially I might make this with it. It quickly became apparent, however, that it behaved much more like an aran or worsted weight yarn, trying to pass itself off as its more slender cousin.  I considered making this, a pattern I had been lusting after for a while, but worried about the high silk content (45%) of the yarn, and thought that this heavy fibre might cause a fitted cardigan to sag and stretch.
I eventually chose Liesl in the hope that if the silk did descend any further, it might look intentionally drapey. In the end, I think all my ruminations were slightly counterproductive, and I overestimated how much the yarn would stretch with blocking, with the result that the cardigan is on the small side. I haven't added buttons yet (that's my grandmother's cameo brooch fastening it in the photos), but I suspect that if I do, those little buttons are going to have a tough job keeping it closed!

Despite the size issue, I am very happy with my Liesl, and am sure I will get a lot of wear out of it. It's the perfect thing to have in your bag as insurance about the vagaries of the British climate. I love the subtle shimmer of the silk that makes every rippling purl ridge glisten like ocean waves, and I am very fond of the nubbly picot edge.

I have gone a little bit Ysolda crazy, and have two other projects designed by her on my needles at the moment, which I'll try and post about soon

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