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Happy Birthday To Me.................

Yes, it is my birthday, or was last week and above is one of my pressies, the Vogue Knitting book which contains the best of articles and features that have appeared in the magazines over the last 25yrs. So it contains gems by Meg Swanson, Elizabeth Zimmerman, Nicky Epstein and others. I love it. I do like the fact it contains some tables of standard sizes with measurements on that you don't normally find in dressmaking tables and are just perfect for sweater knitting.

It doesn't contain many glossy pics of designs, or any patterns as such, which actually is a welcome change. Just good old fashioned advice and tips and tricks.

I had hoped to make it to the V & A fashion couture exhibition for some vintage inspiration and a birthday treat, however, I just was not well. I had a few days in bed, and kept being sick and inhaling it...horrid! Probably reflux and need to go back on the drugs that make my food travel in the right direction.

I also got some much needed dpns for my birthday.

And I went to see the film Atonement. I greatly enjoyed the treatment of this novel by Ian McEwan. I had enjoyed the novel but it can leave you with a feeling of emptiness, there is such intensity at the beginning of the story and detail, and it all seems to be leading somewhere....and then? See it for yourself.

I have always enjoyed the writing of Ian McEwan, I remember back in the 1980's when I read his short stories his writing was generally thought shocking in the circles I was moving in. If you haven't read any of his books, try Enduring Love, which is a brilliant analysis of relationships with an absolutely thrilling opening involving a hot air balloon.

And Clara is born

Clara Kathleen Thorp was born last week, and I had already knitted the Ice Baby Beanie (pattern available with Hip Knits silk).

I also knitted this babyset, I know I rarely knit in pastels preferring to knit in brights or black for little babies whose parents just prefer more alternative clothes. However, Clara is such a traditional name and her parents love classical styles so I used Debbie Bliss baby Cashmerino in pink and Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino in off white, but knitted on 4mm dpns and 3.5mm dpns giving a very stretchy knit.

The colours are very antique and far better than the Barbie type of pink.
It is a very straightforward pattern, however, if any beginner knitters contact me and want the pattern, I am prepared to write one up for hat and socks and put it up as a free download.

I also made this which is a very very easy ribbed beanie in DB Cotton Angora. Once again, I would write up the pattern and donate if anyone was interested. I tend to think though, that most people can manage to knit a beanie without a pattern.

My Holiday Pics

I have finally got around to copying the photos from holiday. Here they are. I feel homesick for Cornwall already. Needless to say quality time with the pooches and relaxing knitting time were the best ever. Will I ever be able to move back home to my beloved West Country?

Above is the cottage we stayed in and our 2 relaxed hounds. See more of their holiday antics here

Also, we visited Bodmin jail,
and there was a rather ropy historical
installation of two women
in the stocks, one of who
knitted the hoursaway
(a true story)

We didn't get onto the beach much, with one of the hounds having an ulcer in his paw the sand was not such a good idea. There was a lot of lounging around on the bed reading. I read The Other Boleyn Girl Phillipa Gregory, and I am ashamed to say, I had avoided this book expecting a trashy historical romance and yet I was absolutely riveted and in awe of the detail, I didn't care how innacurate it might have been, I just got swept away with the story. I then went on to read The Sixth Wife Suzannah Dunn and enjoyed that too. Staying in an old blacksmith's cottage in the private valley made me come over all historical. My mother read a historical novel by someone called Victoria Holt, and I wondered if Phillipa Gregory was the same person with another nom de plume.

As I get older, and have fewer friends I can discuss books wth, I am finding myself less cynical about reading a good story without the need to learn something or save concepts for discussion. Oh dear! what next? Mills and Boon? What are your guilty pleasures (books I mean)?

There is a lot of socking going on...

I can't really show the whole thing or offer any kind of description or explanation, but here is a little bit of a tease, some bits and pieces of socky stuff going on. I am not idle, far from it!

I have spent such a long time on this project, mainly because of the self striping yarn which I wanted to work in a particular way and would only do so on a very specific no of stitches and needle sizes.

However, I am now on the sock proper and the swatches have paid off.

Short Row Heel, Short Row Heaven...At Last!

After knitting many mini heels, I have finally perfected my short row heel technique so that there are no spaces, no holes and no unsightly bits of twisted wrap on the right side of the work. So this my preferred method although no pics yet, the above is someone else's short row heel, not mine.

1. Knit to last stitch, yfwd, slip 1 p- wise, yb, slip stitch back on to LH needle and turn.

2. Instead of purling across, pull tight and slip 1 p-wise then purl to last stitch

3. yb, slip 1 p-wise yfwd, slip stitch back onto LH needle and turn,

4. Instead of knitting across, slip 1st st p-wise, then knit to last st unwrapped.

Continue like this until desired number of sts wrapped, i.e. unwrapped sts in centre are the correct width for the back of heel.

Then to lengthen rows again

1. Knit to first wrapped stitch. Use RH needle point, pick up wrap with tip on wrong side, and twist at back of work then K wrap and stitch together, turn

2. Sl 1 p-wise, purl across to first wrapped stitch and this time use tip of RH needle down to pick up wrap on front, still the wrong side of the work and twist and purl wrap and stitch together, turn

3. Sl 1 pwise then knit to next wrapped stitch....etc

Continue until all wrapped stitches are knitted again, but on the last knit row, pick up wrap and knit across to join back into round, then pick up the purl wrap as you come around again, this avoids any nasty little holes but you can put a couple of extra stitches to avoid a little hole or gap, then decrease these stitches away on next rounds if you wish.

Being consistent in how you pick up your wraps, and twisting them tightly makes sure no unsightly blobs occur and make sure you do this on the wrong side of the work, you will find a little line shows on the right side but no gaps. The gaps which I don't like on a non lacy sock, are avoided if each row knitting or purling back, the first stitch is pulled tight and slipped thus minimising the 'step that occurs between worked and unworked stitches.

Right, I am off to knit a full size heel (instead of my little dolly mini samples)............

Holiday Socks, Knitting in Stocks
And a Museum that Rocks!

I had a fantastic two week holiday in Cornwall in a relaxing Blacksmith's Cottage in a private valley, I could have lived there forever and forever. I wasn't idle though, I managed to knit some socks for my Sister in Law in a Lorna's Laces Sheperd Sock shade Devon. I used a variation on a mock cable rib and a standard Dutch type heel with a flap. I also knitted a pair of socks for myself in Lorna's Laces sportsweight shade Flames, and although you can't really see it here, it is knitted in a wide rib.

I don't often put up WIP as I prefer to show the finished blocked item, but here is an enormous sock for my partner. This is a standard ribbed sock in Artesano Hummingbird DK in shade Pheasant and is designed to be a close fitting high legged boot sock to be worn inside waterproof biker's boots. I did finish the first sock, but put this aside to work on some Tofutsie socks which has caused me some grief over the strange pooling that has occured. I am so happy knitting socks, I can understand why people keep going and specialise in these accessories.

As well as getting invloved in my own knitting, I also met a knitstrologist who writes the horoscopes for Knit 1 (Vogue) under the name of Pearl Wise (get it?) and I saw some cute little bags knitted by a local textiles artist.

I absolutely loved the knitted poppets I saw in the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle and read about the significance of knitting in casting spells. I am determined to knit some of my own poppets and supply a pattern to the Anticraft. We need a basic quick knit doll we can adapt for various uses. These uses being for binding and protection and not for malicious uses.

We also visited Bodmin Jail and were most amused to find an installation of a woman knitting in the stocks. she was sentenced to sit in the double stocks for a period of days, but passed the time pleasantly by knitting whilst her neighbour who had a bad leg screamed and cried the whole time. I will post some pics of the stocks when my holiday mate has finally got around to giving me the JPEGS (I stupidly forgot to take my own camera).

All in all I had a very relaxing and knitty kind of holiday. You would love the cottages hidden in a private valley with the sounds of Buzzards, Falcons and owls and the gentle watery sounds of a little stream whilst sitting in a private garden knitting like mad. I felt so happy there, I shed a tear or two when I came back to London and discovered chore after chore that needed doing, as well as the stress of my pro projects that need to get done.