Friday, April 23, 2010

Icarus blanket

Once upon a time... this isn't a re-telling of the Greek myth, but rather the story of a somewhat ambitious knitting project. So here goes...

I've always had a thing about sales, and since I took up knitting this has meant an ever increasing stash of yarn, which used to hide (rather unsuccessfully) in a cupboard in our spare room, but now has plenty of space devoted to it in my craft room - known to many as the spare room, or by the husband as 'Jenny's playroom'. In December 2008, a trip to the yarn sale at Liberty of London resulted in two bulging bags full of discontinued Rowan, including 12 balls of Scottish Tweed Aran. I was determined that this would become a lovely warm blanket that we could throw on top of the duvet for those particularly cold winter nights, when our draughty sash windows left us fantasising about lovely warn double glazing.

But what pattern to knit? I trawled through Ravelry, trying to find something that wouldn't bore me to tears, but that was simple enough for a spot of TV knitting - after all, such a big project was invitably going to take a while, so anything requiring me to lock myself in a quiet room for hours on end just wasn't going to cut the mustard.

Nothing caught my fancy. Hmmm. And then inspiration struck - I could convert one of the many tringular shawls I'd been planning to knit into a square, and Bob's your uncle - a blanket! Back to the search, which eventually led me to the Icarus Shawl from MimKnits. I already had a copy of the magazine it had been published in, and with a few back-of-the-envelope calculations, I was ready to start knitting.

And knitting.

And knitting.

By February, my Ravelry notes tell me I'd figured out that 12 balls of yarn wasn't going to be enough. So I needed more. Gah! Luckily, I found some on the internet at Stash Fine Yarns - I ordered three balls just to be on the safe side. Then I started to think about dye lots. Hmmm. When it arrived - it was from the same lot. Hurrah!

More knitting.

And some more.

There then came a period that I seem to have been largely successful in removing from my memory. It involved confusion about quite when I would start the edging chart, forgetting to put a lifeline in, taking the whole thing off the needles and ripping it back quite a way, and then spending an awful lot of time putting it back on the needles. The precise details are thankfully rather fuzzy...

So I eventually got back to knitting it. Then the weather warmed up, and the blanket went into hibernation - by this point it covered my legs entirely when I was working on it, so it definitely wasn't going to work as a summer project. I only had about 25 rows to go (at about an hour a row, due to the ridiculous number of stitches now on my needles - I was very thankful for the fact that the cables on my knitpicks/knitpro needles can be extended by joining them together. I was also a little bit paranoid that one of the joins would break...)

Winter came, as did a move to another city, a Christmas surrounded by boxes and a central heating system that decided to pack up during some of the coldest weather I've ever experienced. Suddenly a knitting project that covered most of my body while I worked on it sounded like a very enticing prospect!

So, over a year since I started working on the project, I picked up the needles again. After a couple of weeks of knitting, I finally cast off what is definitely the biggest project I've ever attempted. But it needed blocking to bring out the stitch definition. So back into its bag it went, to wait for better weather.

Well now April is here, the sun is shining... and my Icarus is finally ready to meet the world!

...of course, it is now too warm for me to need a huge knitted blanket (although knowing the British weather that could change at any time). And since we moved, the colour scheme in our bedroom isn't blue either. Ho hum. I still love it!

More detailed pictures can be found on my flickr page.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Keeping warm

So far this year has brought lots of bugs/lurgy and thus lots of time at home on the sofa knitting - which doesn't lend itself to interesting blogging, at least until I get around to taking some pictures of my FOs!

I can, however, show you a couple of my most recent projects in use - the Noro hat from Saartje knits and (briefly glimpsed) Maine Morning Mitts from The Knitter's Book of Yarn, both knitted in Noro Kureyon, colour 161 - 3 days for the hat and 1 day for the mittens/handwarmers. Furthere details on my projects page on Ravelry. Yep, there was a lot of sitting on the sofa and knitting going on for a while there...

Oh, and the picture is me and my Granny, who came up to visit us in London at the weekend - her first trip to London in 35 years!

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Saturday, January 05, 2008


Well, that died a death, didn't it? And all because I got caught up in a 6 hour Monopoly marathon and missed the chance to post one day (I lost the game too, by the way). Nevermind.

A trip to Durham, Christmas mania (4 parties attended and a trip to Devon) and New Year have since passed, along with some knitting (there's an FO to come, when pictures are ready) and I now have a rush on my hands to complete some baby stuff for people who will be arriving on the planet very soon. Plus work just got a whole lot busier. I think 2008 is going to be a good year...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

N is for...


I joined facebook on a bit of a whim yesterday... Amazing to see how many people are on there, and also how many of my friends aren't. I'm currently trying to figure out whether I should bother contacting old school friends or not - I mean, if I wanted to be in touch with them, I probably would be anyway...


I found out the other day that Get Knitted are taking pre-orders for the wooden Knitpicks needles. A possible Christmas list item to suggest to my Mum, although I'm not sure if she'd be able to get her head around paying that much for a set of knitting needles. Or if I really need any more needles anyway. (And yes, I do still give my Mum a Christmas list each year, even at my age - it ensure I get things I actually want...)

Friday, November 16, 2007

M is for...

Magic Yarn Ball

I took part in an MYB swap recently, and it was great fun! I managed to pick up a good variety of bits and pieces to include in it on my travels in September, and after a few evenings of frantic crafting I sent it off just before the deadline (assisted by the fact that my partner sent early and I promised myself I wouldn't open my parcel until I sent hers off). As soon as that was done, I unwrapped the following:

The yarn itself was Rowan Kid Classic (so soft and lovely) and I got some great gifts. James was a little shocked that anyone would purposefully melt a record, but I like it...

The items I made for my partner are shown below - a glass bead necklace, a needle case, 2 corchet flowers and matching silver/tourmaline stich markers and earrings (plus a pincushion I forgot to include in the photo)

I completed the pattern suggested (a shrug from one-skein wonders) in about 2 days, but unfortunately it is waaaay too small for me - I need to find a 10 year old to give it to I think!

I don't think I'll be taking part in a huge number of swaps as it took a surprising amount of time to pull this one together and I have other crafting priorities, but the occasional one would be fun...


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

L is for...


As mentioned a few days ago, I've just swatched for the Peacock Feathers shawl. I started swatching in some laceweight silk from colourmart but really wasn't happy with it - too fine, and too slippy for my new Knitpicks needles... So I thought about what was in the stash and decided to try my beautiful Garnstudio Drops Alpaca (picked up in Stockholm) - it is perfect! Unfortunately I didn't have enough, but a spot of shopping at Scandinavian Knitting Design soon fixed that (by the way, I highly recommend them - the package arrived next day!)

It won't be as light and 'lacy' as the original, but I think I prefer that anyway - I like my Seraphim and I think fingering/sock weight shawls are more my style (not that the peacock is for me). I wore Seraphim on Saturday and it was nice to receive so many compliments on it (including from Debbie Stoller...) and to be able to tell everyone about the pattern (do you think I could get commission?)

I really enjoy knitting lace - I think the charts appeal to the scientist in me - but if that's the case, I can't figure out why colourwork holds no interest at all (for the moment at least). Plenty of time for many other favourite techniques in the future I suppose...


Monday, November 12, 2007

K is for...

Knitpicks Options

One of my recent purchases is a set of Knitpicks Options interchangeable needles from Get Knitted. I admired them at ally pally, but knowing that I'd be visiting the GK shop in Bristol the following weekend (October was a bit hard on the finances but good for the stash!) I saved my purchase for a week. I was slightly concerned that they wouldn't have any left after the show, but all was well and I've transferred a couple of my projects onto them already...

My first attempt at using them wasn't entirely successful - silk yarn plus slippery needles is not a recipe for success - but with other yarns they are a dream to use. I've just cast on the Devil Baby Blanket from Crazy Aunt Purl's book and it is progressing well:

That is less than one day's knitting - good given my usual speed (mind you, it was a Sunday...)

I also wanted to write a bit more about the UK Stitch n Bitch day on Saturday - what a great day! It was smaller than I expected, but that worked out well - there was an opportunity for smaller companies to have stalls and more time to speak to the stall holders. I had a lovely chat with a lady who farms cashmere goats down in Devon (Devon Fine Fibres) during which I learnt about how the coats of cashmere goats differ from those of sheep and just why cashmere is so expensive (I hadn't realised just how little you get from each goat in a year!). There was lots of knitting - with the SnB London Stitchettes and others - and I met so many lovely people! To top it all off, I actually managed to stick to my plan not to buy any yarns. I came home with a book and a few patterns - hurray!