Category Archives: Knit

All things knitworthy

Jaywalker Bag

I failed to get a birthday present to my sister this summer. When I called (on her birthday) to ask what she wanted, she had just seen pics of my knitted Twiggy Tweedish bag and said she wated one of them, please.

I asked what colours, and she said she liked my Jaywalker socks on Ravelry. (She’s stalking me).

They, of course, are made from a pre-dyed, self-striping yarn. But I had an inspiration.

I could buy all the colours in the yarn, look at the pattern, and recreate it in worsted.

So I did.


I’m really with pleased how it’s coming along.


So, I cast on a Hanami Stole yesterday.

I’m here to write about my experience today, so we’ll skip over the beaded cast-on (which went well), and the knitting-of-the-first-row and the unpicking-of-the-first-row-when-working-with-tiny-fuzzy-yarn and the part where I reached that point after getting to the end of the first row for the third time where I just went ‘sod it, I’ll do a couple of yarn overs. No-one will ever notice” and which I’ll probably live to regret.

No, today we get to the part where I”m sitting here and my yarn is tangling (because I couldn’t find my ball winder and had had far to much wine by that point to effectively search for it, and wound it by hand instead) and I’m working back and forth on slippery circular needles, and losing my place on the chart (I have a complicated relationship with charts. I love them dearly, but quite often they betray me) and…

I realised that my breathing was shallow, my shoulders hunched and my face fixed in a grimace.

Now, normally I very much knit to relax. This is not relaxing. But I’m hoping that as I get to grips with the chart and the repeats, as I get comfortable with the yarn and as the chart starts to take on less importance, that I’ll be able to relax into this and enjoy it.

Of course it’s entirely possible that it’s not the stole’s fault. The tension could have something to with the fact that I’m trying to knit this pretty complicated lace project at the dining table while supervising two small boys (one 5, one 3) who have been let loose with ink stamps, paints and water and who insist on saying “Mum, look at MY picture” “No, look at MY picture!” “I need more blue”, “NO! The BLUE is MY-INE!!!!” every four seconds.



Ooo, I have a pullover and a sock on the go, neither of them small projects, really, but neither of them in the first flush, either. Both are about 3/4s finished, so naturally I’m looking around for a sexy new love.

And I think I’ve found it.

I’m sitting here trying to resist winding into balls the two skeins of Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud I have burning a hole in my psyche, and casting on. It’s not like I have any uninterrupted-knitting-time for doing knitting-that-requires-paying-attention-to-the-knitting-and-the-chart.

I just want to have that kind of time and somehow casting on something complicated seems like an optimistic statement about life. Or “unrealistic wishful thinking”, as some might call it.

But I firmly believe that it’s optimism (however misplaced) that keeps us sane!


I’m going through a trying time. In short, I’m having my second miscarriage in five months. But I have two lovely children, I have faith, I have friends and I have people who love me, so it’s all better than it could be.

But the other weapon in my arsenal, against the monsters lurking in the dark pools of my psyche waiting for an opportune moment to leap out and drag me under, is my knitting.

Stephanie has a theory that knitters are not patient people, but that while knitting, we exist in a bubble of artificially-induced calm. I am using my bubble as needed.

After I lost my first baby, unexpectedly, at 12 weeks two days before Christmas, I cast on a lovely, complicated, decadent, and beaded lacy cowl. I worked on it and made it as beautiful as I could. It was a challenge and it was delicate and beautiful and comforting. And I finished it, which felt like quite an achievement, in the circumstances.

On Monday as I sat in the waiting room, wondering if we were going to see a heartbeat or not, I couldn’t take out my current project in case the news was bad and the project was soured by association.

But after I heard the bad news and was dispatched to another waiting room, I pulled out my sock and looked at it. The yarn, TOFUtsies, is supposed to have antibacterial properties.

“Oh well,” I thought. “You can be my healing socks.”

(Then I immediately thought, gack, you can be disgustingly perky sometimes!)

But don’t worry, the wallowing in self-pity comes later with me. When it tempts me (when I get a chance, with two small children running around) I pick up my healing sock and it makes me happy. I love the colours, the delicacy, the way the yarn-overs spiral one way and the colours of the sock spiral the other. I love the feel of the yarn, and I love the stitch-after-stitch repetitiveness and the knowledge that if I get it wrong, I can rip back and fix it.

TOFUtsies Tidal Wave

I love that it keeps me focussed on the moment, on the present. And none of those moments are awful. I read about an author who lost her (eight year old?) daughter and turned to knitting to help her get through. How could she live through that, I wondered. That must be so much worse than my troubles. She must have had days when she needed the knitting to make her want to move at all. I’m guessing got through it stitch by stitch.

And that’s what I shall do.

Funny Cable Increase — For Julie

This is for the other Julie McC. (yes, I used to be one too), who is having trouble with a cable increase that I had trouble with recently.

They tell you to knit into the front and back of a stitch and then find the vertical strand below it and knit into that. Wha….?

I eventually did figure out what I was supposed to be knitting into, or at least it worked, so here goes.

This is what it looks like after you’ve knitted into the front and back of the stitch.

KFB(if you click through to the Flickr page, then mouse over the picture a little note will pop up)

Tug down on the work and the strand will be more obvious:

KFB (again, Flickr has the spot highlighted).

Then you pick up the strand and pretend it’s a stitch, knitting into it as usual.

Picking Up the Vertical Strand

Me 'n' The Yarn Harlot in Philly!

So I finally got to see Stephanie Pearl-McPhee!

You have to understand I’ve been reading this woman’s blog for over two years and have been trying to get to see her for almost as long. Each time she has come to the area it has been a more-than-an-hour’s drive away and something has come up (impending visitors that I have failed to prepare for, illness and daunting rush hour traffic…). This time, however, she was going to be in downtown Philly, which is eminently doable (after all, I used to do it every day).

One of K’s coworkers had outed herself as a knitter just a few days earlier, so I sent her a pattern and an invitation to join me. We arranged to meet at the Free Library and take our cell phones, since there was a shocking lack of details on the Philadelphia Festival of the Book’s website. (I’m noticing this trend more and more recently. Websites exist for many more products/events/organizations than ever before, but a lot of the sites fail to tell you anything you need to know unless you already work in their marketing department and know all about their product/event/organization. Use the grandmother test: could your grandmother find out what she needs to know from your webpage? No? Rewrite or redesign it!)


I was quite impressed that I actually managed to get to the library at 11, an hour before the speech, as planned. Of course, I suddenly realised that I didn’t have a copy of her book. There were tents and vendors all around the library, so I stomped up and down streets, looking for a booth that would sell me her book, but all the booths seemed to be for small publishers, none of them the Yarn Harlot’s. Eventually I backtracked to the information booth (yes, I know…) and found out that they were selling the speakers’ books inside the lobby of the library. Now a mere 10 minutes late for meeting Jen, I popped in and bought a book, then headed down to the auditorium to see if she was there.

It was then that I remembered that we had only met once before, and I had not much of a clue what she looked like. Ah.

I checked my cell phone. Somehow, in all the running around I had missed a call. Of course, there in the basement of the library there was no signal, so I puffed back up the stairs and out to the front steps. As I went out through the ‘out’ turnstile, I saw someone coming in the ‘in’ turnstile who looked a little familiar. Could it be her? Well, I’d better check my message anyway. The message was from Jen saying she was on her way. I returned the call and her signal broke up, because, as it turns out, she was inside the library. I trecked back in and…yes, it was the familiar-looking girl I had seen coming in!

We should have arranged to carry red skeins of yarn or something. Only that would have meant we’d have ended up talking to lots of other people, because everyone was carrying yarn and needles.

We went back to the auditorium and found ourselves a couple of seats in the middle of the second row. In front of me was a small boy, maybe 9, sitting next to his mum and knitting away on his black square of something. He was good too. I thought about asking him if I could get his picture and ask his name, but my natural reticence kicked in (bad blogger!). I reckoned that Stephanie would definitely get a pic of him for her blog if he hung around afterwards. (She’s partial to a young knitter. Young and male? Double points).

People started chatting to each other. Of course, Jen and I were chatting up a storm, not having had the chance before, and I didn’t do as much knit-fraternising as I might have, but I saw some lovely shawls and socks. (Tried to get the lady next to us to spill the beans on her yarn as it had lovely thick self-striping stripes of reds and blues and earthy greens, but all she was willing to divulge was that it was ‘supposed to have jojoba in it!’. Well, that might help — insert web search here — it could have been this). But again I was ridiculously shy with the camera, and again, there was all that talking to do.

People were milling around and occasionally standing up to model shawls (choruses of ‘oooo!’), when a woman in the row in front of me suddenly came scurrying back to her seat and squeaked,

“She’s here! I just saw her!” and then giggled like a school girl as everyone in the auditorium laughed along with her.

“I haven’t been around knitting geeks before,” said Jen, the scientist and sci-fi fan, “but the vibe is very familiar…”

After what seemed like no time at all, the Free Library dude got up on stage and introduced our lady of the yarn. She peeked her head out from behind the curtain as if to make sure that there was someone out there and that she was really in the right place, and then she came on stage to whoops and cheers.

They had told her she had less time than usual to talk, so she made a show of taking a very quick audience/travelling sock picture, tripping over her yarn and generally being endearingly klutzy, as if to set us at our ease.

And then she proceeded to make us laugh for an hour. But she wasn’t just being silly. She was being smart. Extremely smart and extremely well-researched and I think she ought to be on every talk show going (I did mean to email Marti Moss-Coane and see if we could get her on Radio Times, but I forgot).

After we had all wiped the tears of laughter from our faces we headed upstairs to the lobby where there was already a line extending all the way down the very long hallway for the signing.

We probably waited for about 40 minutes, but with all the gabbing it flew by (thanks to Jen for staying and letting me talk at her, even though she didn’t have a book to have signed.)

When I finally got to the front of the line, having turned down Jen’s offer to take a picture of me with Stephanie (self conscious, much?), I fully intended to snap a picture of Steph at her signing table, but got all confused by getting my book out and rooting around in my bag for the beer I had brought her. I know this was just a quick stop, but I reckoned she still might appreciate a local beer (it was Yeungling, brewed hereabouts, more or less). Then I gave her my book and, while she was signing it, put the beer on the table, and said,
“I brought you something that’s known around here as Vitamin Y.”
Her sidekick laughed and then Stephanie looked up and roared when she saw what I was talking about (wish I could take credit for the joke, but I can’t).

I think I managed to say thanks before I started edging away. I didn’t really have much to offer, in the way of small talk, or at least I hadn’t prepared anything. I could have shown her my non-Sock-Wars-sock. I could have had a picture taken with her and the travelling sock, like the girl before me, and she would totally have done it. But what I really wanted to do was sit down in a pub somewhere and just hang out. So instead, I edged away (I have such a horror of being An Inconvenience to anyone!). She was so nice though. She was still chatting even as I edged.

So it’s all true, what everyone says: that she is funny and nice and makes everyone feel like a buddy even if you only throw a bottle of beer at her and scuttle away grinning like a fool.

Afterwards, on the way home, thinking about her contention that knitters make advertisers cry because we are seriously busting the demographics, I stopped at a traffic light. Three or four people crossed the road in front of me. Among them was one young woman, dressed in pink, carrying a pretty pink bag with her. She looked a little familiar. Then I laughed because I knew something no-one else on that street would ever have guessed. Inside that pretty pink bag there was knitting.

Yup, we’re everywhere and we look just like you!

Starting Projects

A week or two ago I had one, (count it!) ONE work in progress. OK, there are probably a few things in the back of the cupboard that are unfinished but I don’t consider them works in progress since, for that, there would have to be some, well, progress.

So I was working away on my Durrow Durrow Sleeves and had abandoned my Jaywalkers and was waiting for Sock Wars and so didn’t want to start a new sock.

I was strong for a few days, and then I cast on a baby hat, currently homeless (the hat, not the baby. I’m not sure who I’m knitting it for. I just wanted to knit it, but I do know a bunch of pregnant ladies on a message board I frequent, so it won’t be homeless forever).
Homeless Baby Hat
(Sorry, the natural light was very dull this morning when I took this pic)

Then I was buying my sock wars yarn and some Lorna’s Laces Rainbow accidentally fell into my online basket. I knew #1 Son would love it, so I had to have it. It’s not quite how I thought it would be though (I’m terrible at looking at hanks of yarn and figuring out how they’re going to look. I should have realised that the fact that all the colours were in blocks on the hank, meant that they were short lengths and wouldn’t actually make rainbow stripes (on anything other than a teddy bear’s mitten. Maybe). However it is still very pretty and nice to knit with and so I am knitting a scarf for #1 Son for next winter. Forethought! Usually I start knitting for a season when it has actually started, thereby finishing things only when the season too is drawing to a close (if I’m lucky and the project is small).

Rainbow Scarf

THEN, after my Sock Wars debacle (which I really got over very quickly), I searched around for something to do with the yummy TOFUtsies yarn I had bought and settled on a pattern published by the company that makes it. The price was right (free) and the slight laciness was right, and I was off. I’m almost finished the leg of the first sock. I find socks go much faster when I’m working on a pattern rather than just doing plain knitting, because I always want to see how it’s going to look, and that means knitting a few more rows, then one more row plain and then, well, I might as well see how the next part of the pattern turns out…

Tidal Wave Socks

I also remembered that I had promised to make a lap blanket for my granny. I had started it, with yarn left over from my prayer shawl (I do hope one of Christine’s daughters or granddaughters, or maybe even her tiny great grand-daughter, is enjoying it now that she has gone to her reward). I remembered to order extra yarn, in other colours to complement the left-overs, and it arrived the other day. I ended up frogging what I had started (twice) and am now working on a feather-and-fan blanket that I hope works out to be a decent size.
Lap blanket for Granny

So there you have it. Lots on the go now. My favourite current project is my Tidal Wave Sock in TOFUTsies, but I’m soldiering on with, and still enjoying the Durrow, in spite of the fact that I keep making mistakes. It’s getting to a point (cabling AND shoulder decreases) where I really shouldn’t pick it up unless I can concentrate and finish a whole row across both sleeves at one time. Otherwise I end up getting lost and making mistakes).

Over It

It’s been an up and down kind of morning.

But it’s official, I’m out of Sock Wars. I was SOOOOO disappointed, having been SOOOO excited.

But I think I’m over it now.

And I’ve just cast on a design I like much better than the Sock of Doom and I’m keeping them for myself.

I’m making Tidal Wave Socks, which was designed for the TOFUtsies yarn I bought for Sock Wars.

Fave Pic So Far and a Worry

This is a great picture of someone’s weaponry.

AND it turns out there was an email yesterday that I didn’t get until this morning (my fault) that said to make sure you had registered fully. I don’t remember choosing a nom de guerre or entering my shoe size (which is not to say I didn’t do it. I did sign up a LONG time ago), but now I’m worried that I’ve been deleted, since Sock Wars’ site claims not to have heard of me any more.
I’m heart broken. I missed sign ups by about a day last year and this year an email problem might have bounced me. Waaaaaah.

The consolation is that I have a whole ball of TOFUtsies yarn that I can play with either way, but still. Waaaah.