How hard can it be?!

On Sunday evening, one final edge to bind off on my Driftwood shawl, I thought I was home and dry.

“Now work an i-cord bind off”, the pattern stated. Given that I’d never worked an i-cord before, I felt a little daunted, but was fairly sure that books and friends would get me through it.

Last night I started working the i-cord. This morning, I found that it was way too tight. By lunchtime I had enlisted the help of three knitterly friends, each of whom suggested an alternative method.

Despairing when none of these worked, I returned to the i-cord. This is what I now have at the first side to be bound off:

sadly unstretchy i-cord

If the top edge were as stretchy as I’d like, the green pins would lie on a line parallel to that of the blue pins. A sad effort indeed thus far…

Knitting spring

As I was rushing to work today, galloping along the street going nineteen to the dozen, I was suddenly overpowered by an aroma that stopped me in my tracks.

Happily, I was not detecting the calling card of a neighbourhood dog. Rather, it was the smell of bluebells emanating from a front garden left largely to the mercy of wildflowers.

In the garden of my nursery school there was a considerable bluebell patch and the heavy scent always reminds me of the seemingly endless spring days of my childhood. Regardless of whether I’ve seen my first lambs and ducklings of the year, I’m never quite convinced about the changing of the seasons until I smell bluebells.

It was an odd coincidence, then, that when I finally got to my computer I had an email from Stitch London pointing me to a scheme run by the Woodland Trust. As well as a page giving information on finding and identifying bluebells, the Trust has an unusual knitting scheme.

Harnessing the power of guerilla knitting, the Trust is asking people to knit their own bluebells and distribute them in public places to raise awareness of the organisation’s website.

knitted bluebell

(image from Stitch London newsletter)

If you’d like to have a go at knitting your own, you can even get the pattern for free!

Nearly there!

When it’s as hot as it was today, the thought of knitting can be a little unpleasant. However, with the dry heat that today brought and the peacefulness of a Sunday, it was just the time to sit outside and crack on with my Driftwood shawl.

knitting in the sun on the balcony

As it happens, this turned out to be really quite productive. With a little work once the sun had gone down, too, I got to the end of the main border.

Things are now looking rather promising…

shawl awaiting final bind off

Frustratingly enough, the final bind off requires a double pointed needle, which I don’t have with me in London. Tomorrow, though, I’ll head back home and (assuming I understand the pattern directions straight off) shawl-completion-shaped victory should be mine!

Tempting…

racer back top with changing stitch patterns

(image from by Guy Crawford knitty.com)

Following my Cherry-related deliberations the other day, I’ve been tempted in another direction. This is Julie Crawford’s gorgeous ‘Make up your mind’ top from the latest issue of Knitty.

I love the changing stitch patterns as you work your way through the garment. It also looks completely appropriate for this time of year – it’s been an absolute scorcher here today.

If I can find a yarn with a high percentage of cotton that isn’t too splitty to knit with, this top could well make it on to my list…

Can this be a good idea?

I’m getting pretty excited right now about the evening ahead – I’m going to see a musical comedy just off the Strand in London.

“Ooooh,” you may be thinking, “what high culture will she be engaging in this time?” After my trip to the Royal Opera House to see the Beatrix Potter ballet, who can blame you for assuming this would be a night of sophisticated entertainment?!

Well this time, there’ll be no stuffed animal heads for me. That’s because the star of the show will be Betty, who is a real pig, obviously.

the star of the musical comedy I'll be seeing this evening, who is a pig

(image from allgigs.co.uk)

We all remember Lulu the elephant’s legendary appearance on Blue Peter and can imagine the expenditure on disinfectant in the aftermath. While I’m sure that making a children’s programme requires more people than I would think, I’m sure the studio wasn’t bursting at the seams.

I can’t help but think, then, that it’s ill advised to have a pig on stage in amongst an auditorium full of people. Surely the stage fright could trigger involuntary responses that no one wants to witness?

Having said that, it’s entirely possible that the suspense brought about by waiting to see if the pig “misbehaves” will actually heighten my enjoyment of the production. What a fantastic dramatic device!

To knit or not to knit?

I write in the throes of a dilemma!

Having reached the halfway point on the border of the Driftwood shawl, my thoughts are turning to what to knit next. A certain something has been sitting at the number one spot in my Ravelry queue for sometime now: Cherry (Ravelry link) by Anna Bell.

Cherry as modelled in pattern picture

(image from Flickr)

When I first came across this pattern I fell in love with it immediately. The little bird cables give texture throughout the garment without screaming “wintertime” or adding too much bulk. Overall, I was charmed by the almost 1940s charm of the thing.

In a move which has I’d never made before and which I have yet to repeat, I bought the pattern straight away, even though I had a full-size blanket, shawl and jumper on the needles already. My mind was made up that I wanted to look just like that pretty lady in the picture!

What’s more, I went further, buying up enough Rowan Silk Wool (a merino-silk blend) to complete the project. This was no mean feat, requiring dye-lot coordination across two stockists, including one online shop. I even set about finding just the right buttons to set off the silver-grey colour of the chosen yarn.

In an absolute shock move, I even swatched, modifying the stitch pattern in various ways to see what different effects I could get. More surprisingly still, my gauge was spot on using the needles stated in the pattern and the sample square looked beautiful.

Only now, after all of this (terrifyingly successful) preparation did it cross my mind that the sweater may not be at all right for me.

For a start, it’s not the kind of thing I usually wear at all. As a rule I steer clear of short sleeved jumpers. To my perhaps overly practical mind, it seems a little silly to have a layer for extra warmth whose arms are missing! In hot weather, I’m far more likely to go for a sleeveless affair (as my tan lines from yesterday’s spell of sunshine – a.k.a. British summer in its entirety – testify).

Moreover, it has a waist while I do not. My instinct says that this conspiracy of factors can only lead to disaster. Drawing attention to my absence of inny bits does not seem at all sensible, and we all know that I aim to be as sensible as possible at all times.

Finally, it has seams. Seams. As in “sew up the seams”. Translated into Katie-speak, this reads as roughly “leave in a cloth bag to fester while you distract yourself with more knitting until some years later you have changed shape and need to start again in the next size up!”. Plus, I won’t be able to try it on as I go along so I’ll be in suspense until the last minute. Again, doesn’t bode well for project satisfaction levels.

Now, given that I’ve identified these factors which would mitigate against my trying Cherry out, you’d think that I’d have abandoned the idea, cut my losses at £3.50 on the pattern price and come up with another use for the yarn.

Have I done so? Absolutely not! Against my better judgement, this is still likely to be my next knit.

I apologise in advance for any blog-based swearing in the coming weeks!

“a peculiar beast…”

That’s how Edward Topsell described the unicorn in his 1607 ‘History of Foure-footed Beasts’. Indeed, several one-horned beasts provoked wonder among readers in this period and Topsell was keen that his readers should not be taken in by imitations.

Among those creatures that Topsell warned readers of were single-horned elks, rams and birds. These were not to be counted among the unicorns, Topsell cauitioned, since their horn possessed no special virtue, whereas that of the unicorn had special powers.

Topsell also mentioned a fish which was reported to have one horn and noted that that lacked the special potency that identified the unicorns.

I almost saw his point until I found this:

narwhal crocheted in grey with white horn

(image from the Wunderkammer)

I’m sure you’ll agree that this this little fish’s horn has some fairly special crochet powers! I can’t wait to have a look around the rest of this fantastic blog!