Happy? I will be if I finish this

With the weather finally turning autumny in the UK its surely time to crack on with this scarf, except it’s not a scarf really is it, it’s a shawl. We don’t really make traditional long scarves anymore do we? I’m going to ditch shawl knitting and get back into scarves.


After this one though of course. This is the third project I’ve attempted with the ironically named Wendy Happy self-striping sock yarn.  This yarn has not made me at all happy, its quite nice to knit with until you hit all the joins.  Now I know its supposed to be acceptable to find knots in your yarn these days but it bloody isn’t when there are a ton of them and there has been no attempt to join the yarn with the right colour.  Actually I don’t think it is acceptable to find joins in a ball of yarn at all let alone several of them.

Anyway I’m wandering off the track.  I pulled back the socks because it was absolutely lousy as a sock yarn but I think it will be fine for a shawl.  I went for a very forgiving easy shawl pattern – Knit Night by Louise Zass-Bangham.  LZ-B is one of my favourite knitting designers because her patterns are so simple they’re great for showing off nice yarn.  img_0989

Course that was went wrong, because this isn’t nice yarn is it? I think a self striping yarn worked against the pattern so I pulled this one back too.  Its not been going well has it?

The longer the rows got the less well the garter stitch stripes worked. So I started again using the Knit Night pattern as a basis to do something a bit different.  I’ve added purl to lessen the colour clash and when that got boring I started adding in some randomly placed eyelets.  I am placing them randomly because I like the effect of a shawl looking a bit like a Victorian heirloom full of moth holes.  Its quite hard to explain a random pattern but here goes…img_0990

I purl when I’m on a wrong side row and the row below is a different colour to the one I’m knitting with (otherwise its all garter stitch).  Eyelets can only go in on a right side row (always garter stitch) and they can only go in when the row below was purl of the same colour as you’re currently knitting with and only when a car passes my flat if I’m 10sts or more into the row.

I really like it. I might try to make my own pattern with my random techniques. I might.

Pesky rip-off merchants

Here’s one for the designer-makers. Let me tell you a story I’m sure you’ll find familiar.

Once upon a time a creative person driven to the end of their tether by working in dullsville hits on the idea of selling things they’ve made online. The D-M has a marvellous time designing and making gorgeous things and would you believe it, people buy them. The feedback is all fabulous, it makes the D-M’s heart sing every time a sale comes through. If it’s all sounding a bit fairytale take heart that it’s not bringing in enough money to give up dullsville but it makes the D-M very happy and the second income comes in useful even if the tax return stuff is a bit scary.

Things go on like this for a few years and sometimes you sell to other D-Ms. Lovely to have the recognition of your peers and all that. Then you realise one of the other DMs you’ve sold to has miraculously started selling the same item as you, and you realise they bought your item purely to rip it off. Marvellous.  Its quite annoying but as you’re pretty small fry there isn’t really anything you can do about it, legal fees being what they are.

Then it happens again, and its starting to rankle.  You’ve put in all the effort and they’ve sat there watching your good reviews stack up and just thought ‘I’ll have some of that’. I’ve had it done to me in more than one country too.

You know the type, they’ve got some skill, they’ve learned some techniques but they have not one ounce of creativity.  Fine to be an assembler of products if that’s your thing, and its fine to resell but don’t make my thing your shoddy thing.  I can’t do anything constructive about it but I can stick pins up your nose.  Well, I can’t do that either but I can make a pig-faced voodoo doll pincushion and stick pins in that, and that will have to do.  You know what? It does make you feel better. You might not be able to kick the ugly sister out of your patch or turn them into a pumpkin but take heart in the daydream that you’re giving them nosebleeds.

So my latest item will be a voodoo pincushion called She’s No Good, aimed at designer-makers who have been ripped off by talentless trolls. I’ll even start you off with a few pins.

I did have an item ready to go but someone complained that it looked like someone they knew which was unfortunate as I’d drawn a smelly pig-snouted hag (with friends like that…) so I’m currently working on a new version of a smelly looking pig-snouted hag…


 On the news this morning they announced micro-beads will be phased out of production by 2020. I thought we all knew how harmful microbeads are to the environment already? I certainly knew and I’m just some woman somewhere. Canada is looking at adding them to a list of banned toxic substances. California has taken the positive step to ban them from 2020 onwards but elsewhere the target is voluntary and not every company has signed up to it. What I don’t understand is how comes the manufacturers need another 4 years to stop making them though? 

It has got to be more simple than that hasn’t it? I stopped buying products with microbeads in them ages ago when I first learned they were bad and I talked about it at home so my household is micro-bead free. Apparently lots of other people did the same thing according to the news this morning because the sale of products containing microbeads has dropped dramatically. But if one shower using a microbead infused product can release 100,000 of the blighters into the water supply then why aren’t we getting our skates on?

To me it’s obvious, don’t allow the manufacturers to dictate the pace. Of course it is in their interests to make it sound like production has to be phased out over a long time but it isn’t their call really is it? It’s ours. I think we could bring this forward to a matter of months if we put our minds to it with just TWO simple minimal effort steps: 

1. Stop buying products containing microbeads, they might not be described literally as microbeads, they could be on there as tiny capsules of something or as some kind of exfoliating scrub beads but you’ll be able to work it out.

2. Where you do find shops selling products containing microbeads, ask them to stop. It’s up to you how you do this but we all know the power of social media.

I am utterly convinced that if the demand is there from the consumer and the shops’ buyers don’t place orders for these products miraculously manufacturers will manage to end production way in advance of 2020. I think we can do this quick smart and be nice about it too. #banthebead


Today I’m Making… Le Moelleux shawl

I have been trying to make a shawl using these two yarns for most of this year, I think it was back in February at a Knitaway at the Westcliffe Knitting Hotel that I cast on a Knit Night  shawl but didn’t really like it, can’t really put my finger on why but it didn’t work somehow with these colours so I pulled it back and put it to one side.

imageIts not  obvious in this picture but the white yarn is an I Knit London Ziggy Stardust so it has silver running through that gives it the most gorgeous subtle shimmer and its as soft as anything so I’ve been dying to use it for something really nice.

Gerard, the owner of I Knit London made the most gorgeous Le Moelleux shawl that I’ve been mooning over for ages but I thought brioche stitch would be really hard so never seriously thought of making one.  Until one day an IKL newsletter popped up advertising new brioche workshops.  Well, I was on it like free cake. I was in on the first one and you know something? Brioche is easy. I would recommend a workshop if you can get to one but its not a lot more difficult than doing yarn overs.  I finished my workshop project  and that was it, I was straight to Ravelry to buy the Le Moelleux pattern.


I made one false start on my second trip to the fabulous Westcliffe Knitting Hotel when I misunderstood the pattern when it said tension didn’t matter.  What I was thinking I do not know but I took that to mean knit with any old tension anywhere in a row or rows.  Of course it looked hideous so I ripped that back too. I do wish I had dropped a needle size too but now I’ve started knitting with a more even tension its a delight.

I have a terrible problem with starting tons of projects and not finishing any of them so I’ve signed up (late) to the I Knit London Ravellenics team in the Shawl Sailing category to give me the impetus to finish it.

Right now I’m on repeat 16 so just about halfway and the deadline is the weekend so a pretty good chance I’m on the DNF podium.

So this is where I am now, the picture on the left is mainly to show my lovely moonstone ring that I’m very pleased with and that my manicure tones with my slippers beautifully.

The picture on the right is where I am tonight, now all I need is to do 5 repeats a day (= 2 hours to knit 80 rows) until Sunday and I’ll be able to cast off before the closing ceremony. Today I managed 2 repeats…


Today I’m Making… a jumper for me

I could have sworn I’d talked about this before but I’m probably getting confused with Ravelry because I can find no sign of a previous post here.

I have a problem finding a jumper that suits me in shops, nothing quite fits the bill, and my bill has a lot of items on it:

  • Must be a block dark colour, preferably black to minimise my bust;
  • No stripes or patterns around the chest area;
  • Must be fingertip length or at the very least 3″ below my bum (this also helps balance out my chest);
  • V-neck of course but not too deep or too shallow, I don’t want to expose cleavage but it needs to come close to be worth doing at all; and
  • Sleeves no shorter than elbow length, and I’d rather below the elbow than on the elbow

Limiting isn’t it?

On a visit to my local yarn store (not that local, its a good 6 miles away) for something completely different I came across this Stylecraft Cabaret pattern 9182awhich is pretty close to what I’m looking for, but without the stripes and if I made it much longer and perhaps the neckline is a bit low…

imageI’m having a trial run at making this with some plain black acrylic yarn I bought at Aldi (of all places) and am making it much longer, down to mid-thigh I think.  I don’t like this fussy cast on either, there is another option of just doing garter stitch for a few rows so I plumped for that.

I’ve also recently bought a book on designing your own knitting patterns so in a funny way I hope this doesn’t turn out to be quite what I want to spur me on to make my own pattern. I know a lot of people turn their nose up at acrylic yarn but it holds colour well and you can machine wash it easily enough, plus it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

imageSo far I’ve knitted the back and about a quarter of the front.  Not an awful lot of progress is it but it is quite boring just doing stocking stitch in black so no wonder I keep getting distracted by other projects (see Debbie Bliss yarn left)  I can’t quite remember when I started this, but I think it was the beginning of this year.  Crikey that’s not good is it, I really would like to wear it this winter too.

I’ve found some spare black shimmery DK in my stash so I’ll add a couple of low impact contrast stripes on the forearms of the sleeves.  I don’t like my clothes to be too flashy, I have lots of incredible vintage brooches so I tend to see clothes as a blank canvas to show off jewellery.

I’m also thinking about making my own clothes from now on too, I am bored with buying clothes that don’t fit me properly and are not quite the look I was hoping for.


Today I’m Making… socks for my bloke

This last week I’ve been on a knitting retreat at the ever excellent Westcliffe Knitting Hotel in Blackpool (really you must go if you can, its fantastic). The one thing I was determined to finish was the socks I’ve been knitting for my bloke for the last couple of months or so.

I didn’t. But I’ve finished them this morning (I came home yesterday evening) and I’m really pleased with them. So is he, and so is his mum!

I found a great sock pattern from 1986 in a charity shop and used that because it has a nice spiral decrease for the toe (like you’d see when knitting a beret) rather than a grafted toe. I dislike that chisel tip look you usually get, anyway, with a few tweaks this is going to be my standard sock pattern, there are also only 5 stitches to pick up after turning the heel and no silly heel flap.   I am going to rewrite the heel to make it sturdier but to be honest I don’t really need to.

So here they are, charmingly modelled by himself with barely any direction from me, he’s worn them round his mum’s just now and she’d like a pair too, scaling the pattern down for her feet won’t be any trouble at all, once she’s measured her foot and chosen her colour I’ll get cracking on them.

I do want to say something about the yarn, and I’m sorry to say its not going to be overly positive. I used the Debbie Bliss Rialto so called luxury yarn.  It looks delightful as you knit (unfortunately I bought three balls so I’ve got to use it up) but it unplys as you knit shockingly and I can’t work a way out to stop it (any suggestions anyone?). It lurches in width from thick to thin to very thick and very thin alarmingly but strangely it hasn’t affected the finished socks that I can see so not a huge problem but not something you’d expect when you’ve paid £10.50 a ball. I am quite worried about wear with it unplying so badly (you can’t do a whole round without it happening), where it has happened the yarn must surely be a fair bit weaker.  Now, I know I could take photos and send it back and blah blah but I’m not going to, I’d rather just not buy it again.


Still for all that I’ve make a very fine pair of sock and Mr GinPoodle is very happy with them indeed so its all worked out well in the end, eh?



Today I’m Making… Brioche scarf

Ta dah! I finished it. I love soft squishyness and the contrast of the riot of colour peeping through the calm natural cream.  I love brioche.img_0757

I’ve fancied having a go at brioche knitting for ages but as you might have picked up from other posts I have a ton of outstanding projects (1 pair of beaded gloves, I pair of mittens, 1 jumper, 4 pairs of socks, 1 scarf, slippers, 2 blankets, a cowl, various snoods – these are just off the top of my head) so I sort of put it off because I really should finish some of what I’ve already started…

Course then when I went on that Knitaway break to the excellent Westcliffe Knitting Hotel Paula treated us to a trip out to the incredible Beckside Yarns in Clapham, Yorkshire and they had the most incredibly luxurious feeling kimono style brioche jacket and it’s been on my mind ever since.

Most Wednesdays you’ll find me very happily at the I Knit London  knit night, the owner was knitting the most gorgeous Le Moelleux – he’s really good with colour so his one is really yummy.  Then, he only sent out a newsletter advertising a beginner’s brioche workshop. imageWell. You can imagine how fast I signed up for that. He has more lined up so if London is accessible to you I highly recommend doing the class.

Turns out the basic brioche stitch is pretty easy once you get the hang of it and really enjoyable.  OK so I did cock up my increases and decreases a bit at first but I go the hang in the end and its all part of the learning process so I don’t tend to unpick unless I really have to.

I love the way it looks, with the bright mix of colours peeping through the cool calm neutral. The yarn is I Knit or Dye DK and is the most soft and snuggly thing you’ve ever felt. I’m almost looking forward to cold weather so I can wear it all the time.


Thanks to Gerard at I Knit London I feel confident enough to take on Le Moelleux myself.