Monday, April 30, 2007


Yes - do not keel over in shock! - for this is an actual FO report! Yes, this is for a garment that I don't even have a progress tracker for in my sidebar. (Plus this is my most recent FO, ignoring the FOs which have been finished for ages and still haven't materialised here...)

This is Ella. My own hand-dyed, hand-spun, hand-knit shawlette.

I never expected to get a shawlette out of this yarn - I thought I was just tormenting myself with a large-ish swatch. But the yarn kept going and going and going (until it ran out 20 inches before the end of course).

Ella is a pattern with a couple of variations - you can make a triangular-shaped shawl (which is all I had enough yarn to do), or you can make the full 'V' shape. In the future maybe I'll try the full shaping.

My version did end up with some quite funky shaping. I did a super-stretchy cast-off, which was possibly slightly tooooo stretchy. After ages and ages of attempting to block the shawl out into a triangle (in which time it totally dried out so I had to spritz it, hence the fact the mattress - our old mattress I kept specifically for blocking! - is covered in damp patches) I admitted defeat, and put a couple of 'u' shapes in the top edge:

The little bumps in the neckline work quite well actually - they curve round my neck and the centre part folds down like a collar.

Talking of collars - I will *definitely* need to wear a collared shirt when wearing this shawl! It's so itchy! But a good learning process - now I know to make sure I match my fibre type to my project!

Pattern: Ella
Yarn: My own Mermaid's Hair Yarn, approx 190 yards of 20WPI 2-ply Jacobs
Needles: US 8 Denise
Modifications: different yarn, different needles. I only had enough yarn to do 2 full repeats of section 2, and then a further 18 rows before casting off.

Obligatory shawl-over-chair-shot:

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Annoyance is...

... binding off your hand-dyed, hand-spun, hand-knitted shawl, and discovering you're just a couple of inches of yarn too short.

(green arrows mark the rest of the stitches to be cast off; pink arrows mark the remaining yarn. Le sigh).

The idea of unknitting the stretchy bind-off is far too depressing to contemplate, so I found the coil of crappy singles I spun from some grey wool which was either Jacob or Massam Mid Grey, unspun a bit from the end, respun it finely, plyed it, and dyed it. (ankles be damned - but I did switch chairs).

The way the dye has taken up (MUCH more vibrantly than the shawl) suggests it's MMG rather than Jacob, but it won't be too noticeable. I hope. Luckily as it's only about 20 inches of yarn it dried almost instantly, so I should still be able to finish and block the shawl tonight.

Here's the colour difference: (presumably a combination of way more dye per square millimetre, and almost certainly a different breed. The base colour was very very similar though)

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ella and Eve?

I've just had the most manic week ever. Last weekend we had to clear out Mr Bee's parents' loft, thereby adding more crap to our house. Then I had to write a paper for a conference at the weekend. Then it was the conference - which I was also helping to organise, and that lasted from Thursday until Sunday. It's been a few of the most manic days ever! In my old job I organised events, but they were only ever one day, so you had the build-up, then the event, then you could rest. This time I just had to keep going!

And now Mr Bee's work colleagues (and techically mine too since I now help with their user support) are staying for a few days. They all work from home in different cities, so decided to meet up - and our house was deemed most central (ignoring the fact it was also the most filled with unpacked boxes!)

Anyway, here's the progress on my Ella shawl:

As you can see, it's considerably bigger than I thought it would be, plus I have enough yarn left for another 5 rows I reckon. The white thread marks the point at which I had about the same amount left in my first ball of yarn as was in the second (the remains of the capelet) - so I'll be able to do almost the same amount again.

It's not going to be a big shawl, more like a short, pointy scarf, or a shawlette I have to pin on, but since the wool is rather scratchy I'll need to wear it over clothes anyway.

As well as heaps more boxes I have also acquired a lot more novelty yarn. Previously I had one ball of peacock coloured stuff (eyelash?) and one ball of Snowflake stuff, which makes a nice fuzzy fabric (I used it for one of the first things I knit when I restarted knitting; it's a rectangle so I may use it for a washcloth). Now I have loads, as Mr Bee's mum gave me some for a Christmas present and some just because she was having a clear out! And utterly no idea what to do with it.

The Lara Lamb kit things were my gift, and I really don't know if there's anything I can do with them. The colours aren't really me, and the patterns really aren't me! Between the kits is my original peacock ball - I don't know what to do with it, but I like the colours.

The brown ball and pink balls are again Not Me, and the blue is a bit 'meh'. But I do like the purple and gold colourway (top right), and am tempted by Eve, which is pretty much the only novelty yarn pattern I've seen which is actually nice. But when would I get a chance to wear it?!

The hairy black/white/grey stuff is more me colourwise, but I just don't think I'd wear anything made out of it!

So if anyone is tempted by anything (other than the Peacock or purple'n'gold) let me know! Also, if there are any amazing patterns for novelty stuff, do let me know...

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007


My foot still twinges every now and then. I've started a joyous 'pain calendar', on which I put a little sticky dot every day that I feel the slightest twinge. No spinning until after a week minimum of normal activity and no dots.

Meanwhile, I have been knitting with my Mermaid's Hair, and trying not to feel too bitter about it. I've been trying to figure out what it wants to be. I thought it might want to be the SpiderWeb Capelet from Stitch'n'Bitch Nation. But after knitting at it for a while, I realised that it really, really, really doesn't.

As Mr Bee puts it, there is no way that you can look at it, without it looking like a load of scribble.

I knit the first 6 or so rows (ie., nearly half of the capelet) and it just bears no resemblance to the photo. I'm doing the pattern correctly (note that there are corrections!), but the yarn needs to be fuzzier, and maybe a tad thicker.

So, I decided to see whether the Mermaid's Hair wanted to be Ella (I have two huge folders of Knitty patterns that I printed off at work, so I tend to work from those. In going to the actual site to get the link, I notice there are now charts available).

I tried Ella three times, on US6 (too tight), the stated US10 (too loose), and then I tried US8. This also looked dubious because the pattern bunches, so I knit the set-up section and lightly blocked it (which also had the effect of causing me to stop knitting for the day - I think I was trying to drown out the pain in my foot by attempting to set off some arm pain).

So far, so OK.

So at the moment my yarn wants to be Ella, and I'm up to three leaf-things across now. Of course, this pattern calls for 750m yarn, and I have less than 200m, so quite why I am bothering to persevere is beyond me. I'm not planning to make the full V-shape, just a small triangle. But still, who am I kidding?

(also, in order to keep all my options open I didn't frog the capelet before I started Ella. And then once I'd decided to carry on with Ella I couldn't bear to rip out what I'd done and start again from the beginning. So my knitting currently looks like this I know I know. It means that not only am I hoying around a half-knitted capelet, but when I finally do frog that to use that yarn I'll have a join - if I do actually ever have enough yarn to make anything more than a handkerchief - which is irritating, but I haven't been really thinking rationally about fibre arts this past week)

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