Monday, 28 May 2007


I've finally got round to getting the camera out and taking some pictures so here's how my knitting and garden are going...

The vast expanse of grey monotony that was Betty has suddenly taken shape now she's sewn up. All she needs now are some sleeves, the first of which is already on the DPN's, and a brooch for fastening (I'm using a darning needle in the photo). I learned a new technique during knitting Betty that I'm so pleased with, I'm still grinning about it. Spit splicing has been mentioned on quite a few blogs lately so I thought I'd give it a go. Never again will I have to weave in ends on 'felting' wools! I was a bit squeamish and used water instead of spit though, the scientist in me kept thinking about the sugars, bacteria etc in spit and just couldn't do it!

All the mild weather and rain we've been having lately have brought on the garden beautifully...

...the broad beans are now about 4 feet high...

...and there are small green strawberries developing already!

The clematis in the back garden which is always a few weeks behind the one at the front due to aspect etc is also in full flow.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Ugly Seaming

I've had really very little time for anything lately - including knitting, so when I allowed myself a little time last night to sit and seam up Betty, it felt a bit like a treat. Sadly, in the cold light of day, it seams that it wasn't worth it (appologies for the pun). I used a crochet seam which has gone all lumpy round the waist shaping and is going to have to be ripped out and redone. I think I may try mattress stitch this time (I'm pretty adverse to making the same mess twice).

On a happier note, the three needle bind-off I used for the shoulders worked beautifully as always so some progress was made.

If I could just get this seaming done, I could treat myself with another section of tendrils...

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Body completed.

Betty has a body - the last piece is blocking as I type and I'm hoping to get her seamed tonight. I might also get the collar done so I can reclaim a few of my stitch holders (I'm reduced to using spare needles at the moment). Hopefully there will be photos next post.

Now a quick poll... when converting a pattern for knitting in the round, does anyone else deduct one stitch either side of a seam to allow for the selvedge edge? I've always done it that way and I'm curious how other people do the conversion?

Friday, 18 May 2007

Domestic irritation.

It's not been the best week at the knitter's house. The boiler stopped producing hot water to order about three weeks ago and on Tuesday I finally got round to getting a heating engineer out. He's been really good in the past so I trusted his opinion when he informed me that he couldn't get the required part (I already knew that the boiler was obsolete) and that we'd need to get a new boiler (£1100 + VAT for supply and installation). We bit the bullet and ordered the boiler and that was that. Then last night, there was hot water... lots of hot water... whenever we wanted it...

It seems that in the process of taking the boiler to bits and putting it back together, the problem was fixed. This morning, the resident radiologist phoned the engineer to explain and cancel the new boiler. The engineer is of the opinion that the boiler will fail again within the week and that we should just replace it but I can't bring myself to spend almost £1300 on a maybe. If it does fail then we're no worse off, but maybe, just maybe it won't and the problem was a loose wire and not the sensor itself. Being a scientist, I rarely make an important decision without the evidence I need to justify it and I hate the impotent feeling I get when something goes wrong with the house - I don't have the necessary expertise to evaluate the situation and the person who does has a financial interest in the decision you make (in this case at least £500 for a few hours work).

In the midst of all this, there has been knitting. I've used up the first ball of yarn on the Tendrils wrap and have a very satisfactory 13" of fabric to show for it. I then stuck to my resolution and cast on for the right front of Betty. I'm now up to the bust increases but I'm afraid that a few more inches of grey fabric didn't inspire me to get the camera out. If I get this piece finished over the weekend, I'm planning to seam the sides and shoulders so there may be a more interesting photo next week. (Fingers crossed that it fits!).

I have a four day weekend this weekend due to a couple of re-arranged bank holidays. The RR and I are planning to paint our living room and maybe get some other DIY tasks done (reseal the bath, fix the carpet on the stairs and the floor in the vestibule etc). It will be good to cross some of the 'to dos' of my list.

Finally, because it's a fairly unpleasent wet and very windy day in Glasgow today, a cheerful picture to cheer me up - I love it when the clematis flowers, it means that summer is almost here.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Tendrils has begun...

I spent some time on Friday evening stringing beads onto the HipKnits silk - not the simplest task in the world of knitting as the beads were a snug fit on the yarn and moving them along wore out the silk and it became a bit splitty. I've strung 500 onto the first skein just to make sure I've got enough so fingers crossed that there were no knots in the yarn that I didn't spot!

The pattern looked a bit daunting at first, but once I got into it, it wasn't too bad and was fairly easy to memorise. The silk has absolutely no 'give' so I'm being careful not to knit too tight. I've already had one incident when attempting to k2tog in a slightly tighter region when the yarn broke so I'm going fairly gingerly now.

I like longish wraps and I'm not entirely sure I've got enough yarn (though I have more yardage that the pattern asks for, I think the silk is behaving differently from the yarn in the pattern). I've decided to knit up the first skein and see what length I've got to - if I'm past 12 inches then I'll keep going, as five feet is an acceptable length for a wrap. If not then I think I'll rip it out and reknit it with one fewer pattern repeat in the width.

The fabric created is wonderfully soft and has a beautiful drape to it. The beads don't show too well at the moment but I think they should show better after blocking.

I'm going to allow myself to knit a ball-worth of this project every time I finish a piece of Betty. The fact that I have now cast on for this project means that Betty now has a left front. Here's a picture of the back and left front blocking. The sizing has come up pretty well and the bias seems to have been rectified.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

More Grey Stuff

Well, Betty has a back and a bit of a left front. The fabric created by increasing in every stitch on the right side, then decreasing while ribbing on the wrong side has biased alarmingly to one side. To the extent that the armholes, although both the same length in rows, appear to be squint. I'm hoping like mad that it will all straighten up in the blocking.

I've left the shoulder stitches on holders so that I can do a three needle bind off instead of seaming, and I've left the neck stitches on holders so that I can knit the collar. The pattern recommends binding off, then picking up the same number of stitches again which I don't think will give such a smooth finish, so as usual I've played with the pattern a bit!

No other progress to report on. I've not got round to winding yarn and stringing beads before casting on Tendrils and I've actually got very little knitting done lately (too much tennis and gardening getting in the way). Two of my friends are re-discovering knitting (with a little help from me) at the moment. They are both surgeons and it is an absolute joy to teach people with such superb spacial awareness and manual dexterity. Within a week, they had compared and contrasted the British style with the German and Portuguese styles of knitting and developed preferences. Now they're asking about concepts that hadn't even occurred to me existed until I'd been knitting regularly for about 6 months. It's going to be interesting watching them - if they're trying cables 10 days after picking up the needles (after already mastering knit, purl, seed stitch, double seed stitch, rib and twisted rib, as well as increases and decreases etc), I can't imagine where they'll be after a few months!

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Happy Sunny Day...

...It's another beautiful day here in Glasgow. The sun has been shining now for a week and it just makes me happy to be here.

This is the best bit of my daily walk to work - crossing the Forth and Clyde canal between locks 26 and 27. The canals in Scotland were all overhauled as part of a year 2000 project and ever since, they've been really well maintained and are great to walk along or lounge beside.

Here are a couple of photos of my pride and joy - my garden. This year I'm growing broad beans, lettuce, spinach, strawberries, spring onions and leaks in containers and tumbler tomatoes in a hanging basket. I've also got a rockery full of useful kitchen herbs. I've always loved growing my own food but this house has quite a small garden so I've had to be a bit inventive about how to get the most from it. Last year I grew potatoes in sacks against the back fence which was a huge sucess but as we're hoping to be moving house later in the summer, I didn't want to risk potatoes this year. I get very excited at this time of the year when everything starts growing quickly - the broad beans have grown about 4 inches in a week and the lilies have shot up about a foot in three weeks.

Finally we have a bit of yarn content. This is some Hipknits aran weight silk I found in the reduced bin here (the last few skeins of this colour in stock) which is destined for this pattern. Finally I feel like I've found my summer project and now I have to track down some 4/0 silver-lined seed beads so I can get started. I'm normally fairly monogamous in my knitting - I rarely have more than one major project on the needles at once but Betty is getting to me (though more progress has been made - I'm nearly at the arm-hole decreases on the back) and I need something to feed my desire for something a bit more glamourous! I think this pattern will hit the spot. I think I may even have enough yarn left over to crochet an evening bag to go with the stole.