A Small Matter of Casting On #knitting


Oh dear, I might have gone a little nuts. Even Cat is face-palming at the horror. I have now accidentally cast on all my spare row counters (even I am not sure how many I have) and I also broke the rules and solved the problem of running out of knit pro 3mm tips by buying more. Basically a large casting off bomb went off last week and I am still dazed and confused as to what happened.


It all started off innocently enough. Knit-knit-knitting at my log cabin blanket. Cro-cro-crocheting at my big red granny. And generally picking at other projects. Then I started strolling though some yarn books and accidentally started another Calmer cardi (to join the purple and green one). Lovely shade of pale teal and will look lovely with a wavy border, reliable yarn and the self-designed pattern for the body already a proven success (it will even be made with the same needles). Logically it does make sense to make a start on an autumn weight cardi now so that it is going to be ready in time. So far, so reasonable.


The pair of socks was also an accident, I wanted a simple pattern but also some lace, and I have been meaning to use the yarn for a while. Just ignore the other four pairs shall we. Between them they cover plain, lace, colour work and simple rib. The moody grey/teal is nice with the mock cables though!


As previously mentioned I have been chain knitting shawls recently and looking through my brand new Sock yarn Shawls II book it would have been rude not to try one. The first book has already proven to be a firm favourite and I will admit to a loud squeak when I spotted number two in the Amazon pre-order list of temptations. The second book builds on the first and has a good mix of classic triangle shawls and long and skinny sideways ones. It has also included larger two skein shawls (some in contrasting colours, some in the same), which are based on 70g balls.


The yarn doesn’t photo well, but it is basically a pale mushroom grey with a sparkle thread running through it. And it will look awesome next to my big white dress (dum dum di dum), or alternatively on exotic location for the honeymoon. The yarn was bought from Olympia a few years ago (it was apparently dyed to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee) and I have been saving it for something worthy. And people, this pattern is gorgeous! Luckily I have 150g of it, so I should be able to make one long enough to wear as a proper shawl (opposed to the triangle forward style) and I might dip into my bead collection when I cast off to give it a bit of extra bling.


I also accidentally cast on this blue shawl (I was comparing book 1 and 2 and fell in love with it) which basically means I am now making both cover photo shawls. I absolutely love this Tardis blue yarn (and had to put my foot down when Mr LouBug tried to claim it for socks). I need to come up with a suitable Dr Who name for it, (perhaps River’s Song, or Timey Wimey). I regret nothing on this one and I am impatiently getting to the lace section, to the point where I will start it 12 rows early (to allow an extra repeat). Wearing my Blue Yonder shawl, I have found that the large triangle does make it bunch up a bit under the chin, lace tends to sit better (as seen on my Purple Happenstance) so there are practical as well as impatient reasons behind this.

Blimey, I had better get knitting.





The Trouble With TV


Now the year 11s have gone, life is slowly returning to my evenings. This basically has opened up a whole world of trash TV to my innocent eyes! My current guilty pleasure is “The hoarder next door”, which I like because it doesn’t point and mock & doesn’t just shout at the person and tell them to throw things out . It recognises that most of these people don’t want to live like this, they just can’t do it by themselves. I have seen similar programs (notably the USA version which seems to equate bullying someone into crying with good telly). But this one seems to be more compassionate and more interested in actually helping them rather than shaming.


The downside is that it makes you look nervously at your own home and wonder if you are also a small tipping point away from having crammed rooms (with small “goat paths” through the mess) and whole rooms blocked for years. At what point do you get blind to the piles of stuff and it becomes normal?


For a knitter and crafter it can also be worrying to hear people justify having ten half-finished bottles of crusty ten-year old ketchup. Especially if you hear them use the same phrases that I occasionally use to justify my stash – “but it is useful”, “it cost too much to throw away”, “but I like it” and the dreaded “I will sort it later, I am sure it is worth keeping”. There is (of course) no way I am comparing my yarn stash to piles of mouldy newspaper, but the sight of these people’s once treasured possessions now covered in rat droppings and mould does make you stop and think. And worry. And start tidying up!


Ok, so first step is diagnosis. My stash is reasonably under control and does (mostly) fit in the box, and it has all been stored in plastic zip-lock bags with a sense of order to the groupings. However, my main problem in my craft hoard is that my project bags have started to spread. This is not helped by my minor addiction to making new bags (they are so pretty). This, and the fact that there are two main piles (craft room and next to the sofa) so that it is easy to ignore the sprawl. So plan A is to try to reduce the number of active projects down to the amount that can fit into my craft caddie.


I have already made some headway with this (the recently finished blanket and socks are a good start) and the real test will be not casting anything on until the end of term. Not casting on is the really tough part, but I shall be strong. I really can’t stress how hard not casting on is. One week in and I am starting to crumble, but holding strong. However, there is an upside to this self-imposed task, and that is the unearthing of old projects.


Like opening an ancient tomb, I have been peeking into brightly coloured bags and finding lovely things I had forgotten about. Stuff that a stress crazy brain couldn’t cope with, stuff not suitable for social knitting, or just stuff I didn’t fancy making at that point. This peeking has already yielded some pleasing results, such as dusting off the fantastic silk shawl I started in October (or there abouts). I have managed to finish another 28 row repeat over the weekend and it is starting to gain momentum. There is still a long way to go, but at least it is now moving along.

I shall not cast anything on. I shall not cast anything on. I shall not cast anything on. I shall not cast anything on. I shall not cast anything on. I shall not cast anything on.….


Bath Mitt Frenzy


It was always inevitable that ‘Finish-Up February’ would stutter to a halt with half term and ‘Crazy Cast-On March’ would begin early (although I am now on the sleeves of the big green jumper!). It is this time of year when my project bag collection, love of new needles and prolific stitch marker making suddenly pay off. It is unusual for me to focus on just one area of knitting (usually it is a scatter gun of casting on anything from blankets to egg cosies) but I am currently mad about knitting bath mitts.

Flannels annoy me. They either have to be bunched up in your palm or flap about while trying to soap up. Bath mitts are a genius item that allow a languid, relaxing bath moment to happen while also being practical and allow gentle soaping alongside much needed exfoliation.

I haven’t really made many bath related accessories before, but I have been aware that they are a big thing with our knitters across the pond. I have always been a bit reluctant to dismiss it as a knitting activity, as I appreciate that my sock knitting is regarded as mildly barmy by some knitters. However, the moment is now with me, fuelled by the fact that my favourite bath mitt has gone way beyond “well-loved” and is now firmly in the “not-even-for-dusters” camp.

The time has come, my friends, I have bought my last bath mitt!


I like to approach things mildly logically and my first step was to get stocked up with some likely yarn. Luckily KnitWit was down at LouBug HQ this weekend and so we hit the shops. I think I have pretty much cleared out my local yarn shops of all of the likely varieties of cotton (I might have gone a bit mad, but it was rather pretty and I can always use it).

Second step is well underway; I have fired up the old sketchbook and I have been bouncing ideas around to see what I can see. The real joy of bath mitts is that one side is plan garter stitch (for exfoliation) but the other is a blank canvas of possibilities. The main thing stopping me at the moment is every time I am about to start knitting the main side I come up with a better idea!

The third step is still to come, the testing phase. Me (being me) I have carefully noted everything down and I fully plan to test, wash and check all the outcomes. I have no wish to make a bath mitt that leaves my arms an interesting shade of orange (even though I do come from Essex) or one that turns my whole wash blue.

Now, I am aware that my various obsessions have led to me making multiple versions of an item (just look at my project bag, stitch marker and sock collections). I am currently ignoring the fact that if I make one from each of the yarn types then I will have more bath mitts than a reasonable person needs. Factor in the fact that each ball should make about two and all I can say is “Be warned friends and family members, this Christmas is likely to have a bit of a gift theme…..”


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