Wednesday, 30 January 2013

A Quest for Fair Isle -Rookie Mistake

I have been having a whale of a time with my Fair Isle project.  I'm finding that knitting with two strands in your hand is easier than I thought it would be, and there is a little frisson of interest every time you have to change colour (yes I know I need to get out more).

I've even experimented with having the wool in either hand although I find that my left handed knitting technique leaves a lot to be desired and the tension is tighter for the left knitted stitches.  At the moment I prefer holding the wool in my right hand with the first colour over my index finger (this is the purling finger for me in rib) and the second over my middle finger.  My tension appears even and all is looking good.

 And then, 10 rows in, I realise that the twist in the work isn't the normal twist you get when there are only a few rows on the needle.  It is in fact a twist!  I am knitting the Mobius Fair Isle Slipover.  After much deliberation, and swearing, and crying I decided bugger it.  The top was for me and I didn't care.  I was not going to unpick everything and start again.  So I dropped a stitch at the side all the way down to the cast on and straightened the work out, putting the twist in the threads where I'd dropped the stitch.  There is a big lump which I'm going to ignore.  I'm sure it will be fine.  After all everyone will be looking at the lovely Fair Isle design stretched over my ample bust, not at the peculiar lump in the hem.  They will won't they?

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Teaching spinning

This is a brief post but I wanted to show you all the fabulous yarn that my friend Natalia made.  She bought a wheel from another friend recently and asked me to show her how to use it.  I say show her how to use it because you don't really teach Natalia, you show her and she teaches herself.  Usually with a lot of comment!  I was very impressed with her work here and her dedication to her new hobby.  Long may it continue.

preparing the fibres
spinning away (very fast, can't get her to slow down)

finished silk/merino mix

Monday, 14 January 2013

The Vikings are now protected against the snow

There is a Viking long ship with four Vikings on the river in Andover. They are there to commemorate the  founding of Andover by Vikings in 950 AD, when a Viking King built a hunting lodge at the site.  Another Viking connection is that King Olaf was baptised a Christian in Andover.  He later took Christianity back to Norway.  See here for a little more detail about Andover and it's Viking roots,_Hampshire#Early_history.

I've always loved the statues (erected to celebrate the Test Valley in Bloom Millennium Celebrations), with their Noggin the Nog faces and their bright colours.  So when we Spitfire Knitters planned our next bout of anarchy they seemed like the logical target.  Besides, we were concerned that they would freeze in the coming snow.  So we made them woolly hats and scarves.

The only problem is, they are too far away from the bank to get to them.  So I had to wade through the river, in January, in the rain.  Totally worth it though.
We had one hat and scarf to many (I thought there was a dragon prow needing a hat and scarf but it turns out there isn't) so we gave the spare to this fine chap.

We think he looks very manly in his pink hat and scarf
This one has a cold (although I did go back and readjust his scarf so it lay under his beard)

Side view (told you it was too far away  from the bank)

The pom pom on this hat is especially fetching.

Hat worn at a jaunty angle (as all fashion conscious Vikings are  wearing their hats this season).

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A quest for Fair Isle - the beginning

So my challenge for this year is to teach myself how to knit fair isle.  I picked the book I'm going to start with, The Art of Fair Isle Knitting by Ann Feitelson.  I chose this book partly because of the gorgeous cover.  I mean, who doesn't love the colours right?!  More importantly it seems to be very in depth, comprehensive and have fabulous patterns in.  It talks about history, working with colour, pattern and technique.  What's really nice is I understand what the author is talking about, which bodes well for teaching myself.

 So I started reading, taking little bits at a time.  I like the history and the stories, but I really want to get knitting, so I will catch up with those nits as I go.  I picked this pattern, Hilltop Slipover, partly because it seems to be one of the more simple and easy to read, and partly because I like the colours (you're probably seeing a theme here, yes, it's nearly always about colour for me, although fibre matters too).  I can see myself wearing this.  I know it's for a man but I've never really followed the rules on what I can and can't wear.  Besides if I hate it when it's done it will look good on my bloke.  Of course I had no wool in the shop suitable for this project (something I am going to rectify shortly) so I sat down with my book and the laptop and went onto Jamieson and Smith's website to order wool.  I decided to stick to the colours called for in the pattern, after all the author has very helpfully listed colour numbers.  Of course life is never that easy is it.  Two thirds of the colours were where they were supposed to be.  One third were not.  This meant lots of backwards and forwards with the computer to make sure I was getting colours which would match each other and match the pattern.  Half an hour later I was done, mentally and physically exhausted, but happy.

And today all my lovely colours arrived.  Which I thought was very quick service I have to say.  Now I have to liberate my 3mm Knitpro points from my Fyberspates t-shirt and I'm good to go.  I'll hope to post the next installment in the quest for Fair Isle soon.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Christmas yarn bombing Spitfire Knitter style

Some of our Christmas gorilla crochet and knitting.  I'm told it cheered up Andover a little.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

On the Buses

We spent a fabulous day riding up and down on vintage buses in Winchester today  We were accompanied by my Uncle Simon, who is a bus enthusiast, which meant we got all sorts of fascinating history about the buses and the companies that ran them.  We parked at St Catherine's park and ride and caught a free vintage bus into town.  Alex got his feet soaked (as usual when going near any water of any sort) so I bought him some new socks, then we met Simon on the Town Hall steps.  We ate lunch at subway (which always feels like slumming but tastes divine.)  Our first proper bus was a 1935 Paris bus.

Just think, I might have been sitting in the same seat as a member of the French resistance.  The smell was fabulous, diesel and dust.  The Paris bus took us for a ride around Winchester, mainly through housing estates.  After stopping for the nicest hot chocolate I've had in years (from '1871', cafe attached to the Town hall) the next bus took us out of town to Sutton Scotney.  It was a built in 1970 so still older than me.

We came back on this one.

I wanted to travel on a double decker so we took the No. 6 up to Morn hill and back.  By this time it was getting late so we decided to head back to the park and ride. 
On an open top bus.
                                                    photo courtesy of Uncle Simon

Which I've never ridden in. 
Best ride of the day by far. 
Alex and I loved it, and I was sorely tempted to ride up and down until my mouth froze shut.  I think Alex's face says it all.

Thank you to Friends of King Alfred Buses for putting on a fantastic day, all for free.  Thank you as well to Uncle Simon for all the information and for putting us in the right place at the right time.  Roll on next year.