Thursday, 31 October 2013

Levelling up, but not in a good way

The thing about clothing is that it wears out. The thing about knitting is that it's clothing.

My favourite winter hat dying after 4 or 5 winters I can deal with. Losing 4 pairs of handknit socks in a fortnight, not so much. To be fair, they've all had years of hard use. It's just annoying that they've all died at this moment. The temperatures have just dropped so much that I've had to put the heating on twice. Plus I'm in the middle of the holiday crafting, so I can't even stop what I'm doing to cast on for a new pair!

Still. You know you're a knitter when you've garments old enough to be wearing out, right?

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


I came home from Raglan (that 10-day SCA event I went to in August) having committed to four knitting projects - three pairs of socks and one "other". You see, I'd gone by myself and planned to eat cold sandwiches and the occasional hot meal from the castle cafe. Instead, a couple of the encampments adopted me for the duration and fed me every day. I did not cook once, and the only times I went to the cafe were the times when we all decided curry was required.

I helped with the shopping and the washing-up, of course, but there were a handful of people who went hugely out of their ways to look after me. So I'm knitting for them. First up was a pair of bedsocks. The recipient always has cold feet at night, and was lamenting the lack of woolly things to keep her warm.

She was quite easy to knit for, as we've got exactly the same size feet. I've sent them to her, and apparently she's not taken them off since she got them. Another pair of Thujas, knit in the mods I normally do for my own Thujas.

The next pair was a bit more of a challenge. The recipient wanted socks to go in shoes, in royal blue or purple. I found some lovely royal blue yarn (although the longer I look at it, the more I think it looks like TARDIS blue), picked a pattern and off I went. The challenge was that her feet are smaller than mine. It's very difficult to estimate sock length against one's own foot if one's feet are bigger! I'd had her try on a pair of my Monkey socks, though, and made a note of where that pattern needed tweaking to fit. The gusset was too tight, and the foot of the sock was about one repeat too long.

Cait's socks 004

This is what I've ended up with. I'm seeing her next month at another event. Hopefully they'll fit. The pattern is Blackrose, from Knitty, knit on 2.25mm needles over 72 stitches. A simple enough pattern, and done in such a way that several sizes are available. I didn't find the lace pattern intuitive, though - despite having worked it 28 times, I never managed to memorize it. Ah well, they're done now.

I'll measure the feet of the next recipient at the event next month and find out how she likes her socks, but I won't be casting on until the New Year - there's too much Christmas knitting to do between now and then!

Monday, 14 October 2013

The winter hat saga

A few years back I made myself a hat. I'd bought this ball of discontinued Noro wool/angora blend from the John Lewis remnants bin, and there wasn't enough of it to do anything else with. It was made more in an attempt to use up an odd ball of stash than anything else, but unexpectedly I fell in love with it. I've worn it all winter for the last five winters, in fact.

Unfortunately, all of that love is starting to show. The brim is rather felted, and there are holes worn through it. Not to mention the fact that the seams are coming apart.

I've been in denial about the inevitable decline of this hat because I love it so, but I finally admitted it. I decided the best solution was to knit another hat as close to it as possible. The original yarn was discontinued, of course, but there are lots of lovely Noro yarns. I picked one that was a similar colourway and went to town. This was the result:

Cait's socks 001

Cute, isn't it? Shame that it's too small to go over my head. Oh well, one of the SCA small people will be going home from the event next month with a lovely new winter hat.

Then, out of the blue, I got an email from the lovely lady who runs Loop. I'd won a ticket to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace from a contest they'd had on their blog. I hadn't intended to go, but surely I'd be able to find some lovely hat yarn there? Off I trundled, pleased on my way to discover that Ally Pally is now within the Oystercard pre-pay zone.

It was very odd, being at that show. I went on the first day, early in the morning when there were very few people around. It meant I was able to do a reccy of the whole show before committing to buying anything. I've not been for the last three years, and I've figured out a lot more about my making and stashing habits. Most of the yarn was stuff I could easily find any old where. There was almost no spinning fiber. The patchwork fabric, while lovely, was not in the colour palette I wanted for the quilt I'm planning. The embroidery stuff was lovely, but I live within walking distance of a really well-stocked embroidery shop. I was in and out of the place in less than two hours. It was bizarre.

I did manage to find yarn for my hat, though.

Cait's socks 005

It's a different weight and a totally different set of colours, and I love it. In theory there's enough yarn in that bundle to make a matching pair of mitts, too. It's odd colours of mill-ends, but the nice lady running the stall had done the bundles in lots of colours. This one grabbed me as I walked past.

Apart from the yarn, I did almost no shopping. The little bit I did do made me very happy, though. The last time I went I'd found a lady selling crewelwork kits, and I've regretted not buying one ever since, because they were absolutely beautiful. She was back this year, and I bought two kits.

Cait's socks 006

Cait's socks 007

They are safely put away until after I finish the Christmas knitting, though!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

SCA summer

While Himself was slaving away on his MSc dissertation this summer, I spent rather a lot of time going to SCA events. Admittedly he came along to some of them, but I did spend a rather delightful fortnight camping in the ruins of a castle in Wales alone. Well, alone apart from a hundred or so of my dearest friends.

One of the things I like best about the SCA is that there is a great deal of research that goes on. There's also a lot of teaching, and that teaching is frequently hands-on. I've started doing a bit of teaching myself this summer. I'm no expert, of course, but there isn't really much spinning instruction going on in this area, and people seem interested. Of course, most of what I've been teaching is about fiber preparation, not actual spinning. I did a class at our big Midsummer event on breeds of sheep that were around in the Middle Ages, and then I did an introduction to carding and combing at the event in Wales.

It's not all teaching, though. It wouldn't be a real event if one weren't struggling to finish a project in the last few days before. I'd thought I'd escaped it at Midsummer, but then my mother informed me that she desperately needed a snood, and could I make her one pleeeeeeeease? So I did.

Raw fleeces 021

I also spent the last week before the Welsh event frantically finishing, although in this case it was embroidery and plain-sewing. My mother had made me a lovely warm woollen dress, but had left the neck placket unfinished so that I could put embroidery around it. I'd been planning something fancier, but after looking at how much time I DIDN'T have available, I decided to go with something simple. It's two strands of crewel wool, worked freehand, in a sort of looping swirly pattern. I'd show you a photo, but I finished it so close to the event that I didn't have time to take a photo of it. I'll be wearing it later this month - hopefully I can pretend to be my mother and wheedle a photo out of some nice person.