Friday, 26 October 2007

Have (bamboo) needles will travel

A slight delay in updating the blog as I had to fly up to Edinburgh for work and have been busy catching up ever since. It was a good opportunity to test out the advice from Knitting magazine that there are currently no restrictions on taking knitting needles on flights. I checked in with hand baggage only at Heathrow, firmly ignoring the sign that said no knitting needles, on the basis that it must be out of date. I felt slightly nervous queueing up to go through security, though. What if the advice was wrong and my knitting was confiscated... I wished that I'd taken the stitches off the needles for safe-keeping. But they were bamboo needles, surely not at all dangerous - after all I had an umbrella in my bag, what about all those spokes? My courage was tested when eventually I got to the conveyor belt and my yellow rucksack was taken to one side for a full check. (This has happened before, there must be something about that rucksack. When I came back from Shetland in January it was emptied at Aberdeen airport and I had to promise not to throw a pebble from St Ninian's Beach at the pilot.) "Is it the umbrella?", I asked, hoping to draw attention away from my knitting. The security guard, however, took absolutely no notice of either umbrella or knitting and, having assured him I had no gels or lotions outside my little plastic bag, I was through security and into the departure lounge. Free to knit on the plane - and I did! I'm working on a scarf from Donna Druchunas' book Arctic Lace at the moment, of which more later. Next challenge will be the international flight when we go down to the Antarctic next month - if I'm not allowed to knit on a fifteen hour flight there could be other kinds of security problems!

Friday, 12 October 2007

Knitting the Blues

Most weeks there's that "I hate knitting" moment when something's gone wrong and you wonder why you're wasting your time tying bits of string together with sticks. I hit this big time on Sunday night when, instead of consoling my man about Scotland losing the rugby, I was giving him grief about my needles sliding off the stitches on his mitts. The next day it was straight out for some bamboo dpns - they saved my life (and possibly my marriage). Spouse was greeted at the door the next evening with gloves safely hanging from their needles, only slightly larger than cocktail sticks and ideal for those tight turns on half-finger gloves. They were finished in no time after that, and have met with much approval from the recipient, but it will be a while before I risk knitting something else for the man in my life!

Friday, 5 October 2007

Gloves, Gloves, Gloves

As well as teaching myself to knit Shetland Lace this year, I've been learning how to knit in the round. A few months ago I was lucky enough to be given two rolls of old knitting needles, one of which contained loads of different sets of four needles. I made a couple of pairs of socks first and have now moved onto gloves. I think gloves could be the new socks. They're such fun to knit, although the fingers can be a bit fiddly, especially if your needles are slippery. Mine are always clattering onto the floor leaving the stitches unsupported and, guess what, they start to unravel. I've also managed to lose two needles this way. Can someone pleases invent a sat nav for lost knitting needles? As with lace knitting, I think bamboo or wood are probably best.

I knitted my first pair of gloves using a Debbie Bliss pattern on two needles. This was just as well because at the time I was having to take the bus to work as the railway was closed due to flooding. I don't think I could have coped with four needles going round corners. (When I tried doing Fair Isle socks in the car going up to Scotland this spring I lost the plot big time - my pattern book still has the scars to prove it!) However, this meant that I had to seam up everything and I'm not exactly a great fan of sewing-up (huge under-statement). So for the second glove I moved onto four needles. This worked until after the thumb, when I was alarmed to see the second finger appearing where the little finger should go! It took a bit of working out but I managed to fiddle with the pattern until I got it right. They're lovely and soft in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino and I really like the colours.

Now I'm working on a pair of half-finger mittens for my other half (check out the piece in this month's Knitting magazine (43) about knitting for the men in your life). He says he's always wanted a pair of these (honest) and plans to wear them for cold-weather photography, of which he does a lot. This is my second proper design project as I'm working it all out as I go along, using a pattern from a very old BBC book called Knitting Fashion as my starting-point. As he's Scottish and Scotland are (so far) doing well in the Rugby World Cup I thought I might embroider a St Andrew's cross onto the navy blue. I'm using Rowan Wool Cotton, which has a lovely feel and should keep out the cold even when we go down to the South Atlantic in a few weeks' time.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Season of knits and yellow leaf designs

Autumn's here and I've completed my first knitted design project, a pretty leaf pattern collar based on one of the lace edgings featured in Knitting magazine for May 2007 (check their new website at ). I've also finally finished the two Shetland lace scarves I've been working on over the summer, in traditional cockleshell and horseshoe patterns. I've been lucky enough to get up to Jamieson's woolshop in Lerwick, Shetland twice this year and to buy the very fine Ultra wool for these projects in person. The cockleshell pattern was quite fiendish and I nearly gave up after four tries and several swatches working out an error in the pattern (from Sarah Don's out of print book The Art of Shetland Lace)! The second one, based on one of Jamieson's own patterns, was much easier to knit but for some reason the grafting together kept going wrong. But they look great now that they've been washed and stretched out to dry on my dressing-room floor.

Here in the UK the days are shortening and it's time to think of some cosy autumn and winter projects. Mohair seems to be back in fashion, along with all things from the 1970s (which I'm afraid to say I can remember the first time round!) and a kind person in my Knitting Group has just given me some very fine red fluffy yarn to play with. So a good start to the season and to my new blog. We'll see how it goes from here.