Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Lots of Odd Socks!

I sometimes wonder how many lonely handknitted socks there are in the universe. Do knitters, filled with a burst of enthusiasm for new yarn and a new pattern, madly knit up sock number 1 and then sock 2 becomes a nemesis?

Spring rains have thankfully brought some gentle relief to our drought-stricken city. It rained for a week before we went away, then was lovely and sunny apparently, so the garden has burst forth with breathtaking new growth, the roses and vegetables in particular. And now it's raining again - our garden won't know what's hit it! I think our level 6 water restrictions are now delayed a month.

Well, life is back to some sort of normality after my trip out to central Queensland to celebrate my youngest brother's 30th birthday. Unfortunately, he dislocated his ankle and broke both bones in his lower leg a couple of weeks ago and only got out of hospital after surgery a couple of days before his party. So he didn't have quite the big night that he was planning - more an evening of holding court in a comfortable chair while friends fetched his dinner and drinks. Actually that sounds pretty good!!

I saw my other brother, David, on Sunday night and presented him with the Brown Nemesis! It immediately went over his head and was pronounced to be "awesome" and a "perfect fit". Oh, so satisfying to see one's creation being truly appreciated! I forgot to take a photo so my sister-in-law is taking one for me and will email it. I'm sure my brother won't mind modelling on my blog :)

Unfortunately, my father has decided he'd like one too, with the "Flying A" emblem of his 1949 Austin A90 Atlantic convertible on the front of the shoulder. Hmmmm. He will have to wait a while for that one. There will be no man's jumpers on this knitter's pointy sticks for a while, I think!

My opal lacy mock cable sock is now finished and I'm really rapt with it! It's too small for me, which is perfect, because my sister-in-law (for whom it is intended) is a couple of sizes smaller in her shoes. She has lovely, dainty little feet!

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And last night I finished the first passionfruit lacy mock cable. It is divinely soft and really feels like I'm wearing a warm cloud on my foot! I had to adjust the pattern a little because I have big ankles and very high insteps, but it worked out very well indeed.

Although I was cursing a blue streak when my yarn broke halfway through grafting the toe, leaving a 3cm tail which looked innocently up at me. But I knew it was secretly full of malice. A weak felted join ensued, followed by me very gingerly finishing the toe and then weaving the strong yarn through the stitches from the inside. Hopefully my toes won't poke through.

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Also on the needles is a fun, merino bambino jumper for an old friend who's having a bubba next year. He or she will be born in March, so I'm making one for a 6 month old. She lives in Queensland, but out west, so they have very cold nights in winter. I love these bright colours! Not sure why, but I have a faint aversion to the insipid colours babies are so often dressed in. To me, they scream, "I am vulnerable and helpless" rather than "I am a cool little person with my own personality."

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She won't lose her little baby in THIS jumper - that's for sure!!

My habit is to save the best until last, whether it be food or otherwise. I got back to chambers on Wednesday after my trip away to find a curious little parcel on my desk! I didn't know the address and, after scrutinising the signature, took a stab in the dark and Bells confirmed my suspicions! A lovely little red box was inside, in which were nestled five gorgeous stitch markers from our very own Georgie!

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They were a present for finishing the brown nemesis! And, to make my gift even more special, George informed me later that she had in fact made them herself. Funnily, I'd been hunting around for some lovely stitch markers that weren't ridiculously overpriced.

So thank you George - I love them!!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Nemesis is Finished!!

I can scarcely believe it and am still recovering from the shock.

I promised myself I would not blog until the brown jumper was done. That promise was kept and my knitting nemesis is no more!! I had a deadline of this weekend, as I'm seeing my brother, David, on Friday 31st when we head out west for my other brother's 30th birthday party.

The last stitch was completed yesterday afternoon, jumper was washed and dried flat and I'm really happy with the result. My neckband is much better than the first one I did - not such a struggle to get it over a head! Bells and I had a deal going where we had to report to each other every day with how much we'd done - me on the brown jumper and Bells on her steeked jacket. It worked really well because the thought of reporting that I'd done nothing resulted in far too much guilt!

Don't have a 3D model yet, but here is my nemesis lying on a towel - it's been raining here so I couldn't dry it outside.

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My next gift deadline was for the red branching out scarf as my friend's birthday is 9 September. I got to 1m and thought, hmmm, that's probably long enough once I block it. But it didn't gain as much as I thought it would. Oh well, I'm sure my friend will love it anyway. This is my first go at blocking something. It turned out just over 1.2m long, so I'm not sure I did it right - wasn't sure how much to stretch it. I guess I can do it again if necessary so hints welcome!

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So not much other knitting has been done! But I do feel extremely virtuous.

I did frog the knittery passionfruit socks (again!) and started making lacy mock cables with it. I'm really happy with it - I will end up with a pair of beautifully soft, pretty socks all for ..... ME!!

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Such a simple, quick pattern. I think these will become a staple of my sock-knitting library (that so far consists of only 2 patterns!)

Work has been a bit tough this last week - had some difficult, emotionally draining matters to deal with. It's hard to remain completely detached sometimes, but one has to in this job, just for self-preservation. So knitting the brown jumper has actually been quite soothing. But it will be a long time before another adult jumper goes on my needles, I think!

But ... my oldest friend called me today and told me that she has a little one on the way, so more baby knitting. Such quick results when making tiny things - I love it!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A willingness to frog ...

to fix a mistake is the mark of a good knitter, I have been told! And today I had to frog 20 rows of brown jumper sleeve number 2. A milestone has been passed. I was clicking away watching Anne of Avonlea last night while Glynn was at work. This morning, I noticed that I had done an even row where I should have done an odd row. Bum!! So I frogged it and have now passed it on to Millicent. Her brain is only the size of a pea, so she is unlikely to become bored with it.

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I should probably introduce Millicent properly. She is rather prissy and, despite the jaunty bow on her head, a little conservative. But her unzipped abdomen did yield up a set of 2.75 DPNs that I forgot I had, which was very generous of her. Actually, that's a worry. I've been knitting since May 14 this year and I'm already forgetting purchases. Hmmmmm.

It is a time of indecision. I was so in love with my passionfruit knittery yarn that I simply had to start something. Jaywalkers were commenced, on 2.25s, but I soon got fed up with the double decreases. Just too difficult in that slightly thicker sock yarn and disaster almost struck in the form of a snapped knit pick DPN! So they were frogged.

Consultation was had with my newly arrived Sensational Knitted Socks book and waterfall rib socks were then commenced on 2.5s (after ripping the needles out of a grey striped basic rib!). The going was slow on that and came to a standstill while I consider what to do. Bells suggested lacy mock cable socks. But after seeing that it involved casting on only 56 stitches I was worried they may not fit my tree trunk ankles. A brainwave struck! My sister-in-law has size 7 feet and smaller ankles, so I figured I'd make her a pair of lacy mock cable socks, in some Opal yarn I had, and try to squeeze them over my clodhoppers.

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I'm loving this pattern!! The leg was churned out in a few hours. The heel took some time, as it's, I understand from Bells, one step along from an eye of partridge heel, as the wrong side row is Sl1, P1 all the way across.

So now I have 4 socks on the go, all different!

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The grey ones do look a trifle forlorn with no needles don't they? I'm thinking of frogging them and doing something different anyway - maybe garter ribs.

Have been doing a little shopping from Little Knits since they're having a sale. There was a lovely Regia sock yarn in burgundies and cream. Unfortunately, some horrid person walked out with it without paying, so it won't be coming to my house :( I simply don't know how anyone could bear to knit with something they stole. I hope they throw them in a boiling hot wash with their white sheets, which all turn pink and the socks turn into booties. Is that bad karma?

But, on the bright side, Glynn came up with a solution for a little problem. When I knitted his jumper, which was my very first big ticket item, the first piece I did was the back. It had some mistakes in it, so I made another one. But what to do with the first?

Time for some background. At the beginning of the year, Glynn and I rescued a 2 year old part Himalayan cat from the RSPCA. We renamed her "Libby". She had been abused and was very timid. Just coming out of her shell now (and how!!). Unfortunately, she has formed a liking for sleeping on our bed and kneading my cream damask duvet cover. Aaaaaggghhh!!! Because she's so uncertain of people, we are loathe to kick her off all the time and reject her.

But, she also loves Glynn's moss rib jumper. So, a catbed was purchased, lined with the discarded jumper back and she looks very happy with her new arrangements. When she's totally in love with her bed, it will be relocated to the windowseat and the bed will be ours once more! I do so love a happy ending!

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Today we decided to enter her in our vet's pet of the week. That's really quite obsessive isn't it? But Glynn did this comic and I thought it was so cute that we just had to give her some publicity. Of course, the 10% discount prize doesn't hurt, either!

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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Anyone for a slice?

It's not often that I get overly excited when my mail arrives in chambers, but two inviting looking parcels turned up today!! Number one was a set of 12 of Jejune's beautiful knitting art cards. They truly are the perfect accompaniment to any knitted gift! Thanks! :)

Number 2 was a hank of The Knittery cashmere merino in the passionfruit colourway. So as soon as I got home my husband was again enlisted to act as my interim swift! Poor Glynn! But how beautiful are these colours?

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I'm planning on a pair of jaywalker socks. And they will be all for ..... ME!!!

Everything on my needles at the moment is a gift, so I've decided to keep the best for myself. Selfish? Maybe!!

I also picked up this yarn from ebay, which will be a pair of socks for one of my sisters-in-law.

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The colours aren't precisely as they appeared on the ad, but they're nice and bright and my sister-in-law, who lives in a cold house and is in the habit of losing things, will no doubt appreciate them.

The weekend must have been one for nemesis motivation! Bells got cracking on her steeked jacket sleeve. And brown jumper now has a back! This is how boring the pattern is:

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But it will be nice and cosy when (if?) it's finally finished. Have started sleeve number two, so am on the downhill run now, which is a nice feeling.

I had a lovely day last Wednesday. A friend of mine, Geri, does beautiful quilting and I took the day off to have a craft day with her. She's also a wonderful cook, so a delicious lunch, stimulating conversation and drooling over her work made for a brilliant day! I worked on the one row scarf. It only took another evening after that and it was finished!! Excuse the cheesy look on Glynn's face and the dangling ends (which have now been sewn in).

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It is now on its way to a (hopefully pleased) recipient!

Striped hot socks number 2 is now on the needles for my other sister-in-law. This time I've got my lovely Knit Picks DPNs and am knitting on 5 instead of 4, which seems to be helping with the ladders. I adore my Knit Picks! Their shiny, slidy pointiness is so addictive! The grey toned pair is for my brother. Maybe I'll have a sock wedding before they are sent.

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And, finally, the branching out scarf has grown somewhat. I now have 20 repeats, but will keep going until I run out of yarn. Actually, that means it will end up being about 50, which is probably too long, so maybe I'm closer than I thought to the end. Deadline is 9 September for that one. One wouldn't know it from the picture, but it's still the same dark red it started out as!

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A dark hole yawns before me. After tonight, no knitting until Friday. Work calls and I don't think I can charge for "contemplation time" whilst I am knitting. Unfortunate.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Babies, Buttonholes and an Inspiration Scarf

I confess. Brown jumper has changed little (hangs head in shame). I was so keen to do my first buttonholes and my first neckband since I learned how to pick up stitches properly.

So, after such a horrid week, I gave myself an early mark on Friday to come home and get clicking! I'm really happy with this little jumper. And I'll be early - my friend's baby isn't due until September and it's a size 1, so won't fit him until next winter anyway.

Still got a sleeve to do! These are "stunt buttons" btw (acknowledgment to Rose Red for the term!)

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I'm quite proud of my neck

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And - big news - today my wool winder arrived!! I was working on something horrifically complicated today, so decided to hole up in my study at home away from phones (and people!). Of course, the wool winder arrived just when I needed a break :), so my husband masqueraded as a swift and I wound up the Tasmanian yarn. It's so clever the way that little thing works!

And I defy anyone to wind up some yarn and not do anything with it immediately, just to see how it looks, of course. So one row scarf was cast on! After 10 rows, inspiration struck!! It was like a blinding flash in my brain! I knew how best to deal with this problem I had. My grey matter had been ticking away in the background while I half concentrated on knitting.

Brilliant. Wonder if yarn can be claimed as a tax deduction, to assist in pondering time? One can dream!

This is just from one evening - this little sucker grows like wildfire!

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It is intended for a male friend, but am wondering now whether the splashes of pink and mauve make it a little too feminine? Glynn and I initially thought it was either "elegant masculine" or feminine, but Glynn's latest pronouncement is that it reminds him of Tom Baker's scarf in Dr Who! The only Dr Who, in my humble opinion!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Withdrawal Symptoms

How dare my work interfere with my knitting? Some urgent matters have taken my attention away from my yarn and it's just not on!!! A whole 24 hours went by on Monday without a single stitch being knitted! And again on Wednesday! Although I did get to run away from chambers for 15 minutes and stalk the Lincraft knitting department staff again.

I did have a valid excuse to stop work on the brown jumper, because I needed to check the sizing against my brother (who is 1000km away). But, unfortunately, he flew down for one night and stayed with us last night. Sizing is all good so far, so procrastination can no longer be justified! I was having such fun with my baby jumper too. One sleeve is done and I'm halfway up the front. Heck, maybe I should just get in and finish that before the brown jumper? I'm looking for support here!

Three more orders too! My sister-in-law tried on the one striped sock, declared it to be a perfect fit and soft as a cloud, plus she loved the colours. So it seems those socks are not destined for my own feet, but for hers. They were a little small for my clodhoppers anyway. My brother tried it too and is angling for a pair for himself for Christmas. Oh well, he's a great brother, so why not?

Sister-in-law also would like a branching out scarf in cream cashmere. Bells suggests Jo Sharp Baby Cashmerino, which she used for my "falling leaves" scarf so that sounds like a plan. Her birthday's in December, so maybe socks for that and scarf for Christmas. It's so nice to be able to make things for people!

At least socks and lace scarves are more interesting "obligatory knits" than the bloody brown jumper!!! Grrrr!

Have been spending up a storm online too - have got myself a wool winder, some knitpicks DPNs and a copy of "Sensational Socks" and "Fitted Knits". Can't wait for them to arrive!! Then I'll be a real knitter!!

I have some lovely hand-dyed yarn my mother bought years ago in Tasmania, so I'd like to wind that up and make it into a scarf - maybe a one row scarf?

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Hmmmm .... maybe my husband, Glynn, should hide the wool winder for a time, until the unmentionable UFO is done.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sourdough and socks!

A strange post title, but very fitting for today! A week ago, Bells and I decided it was time to make some sourdough bread. We made bread together for the first time last Christmas at my house. This time, breadmaking was simultaneous but hundreds of kilometres apart!

The starters were made on Wednesday morning,"sponges" were put together on Friday and today was the big day for kneading, proving, baking and, of course, sampling.

Breadmaking is therapeutic. Punching and kneading, combined with imagination, is extremely cathartic after a bad week :)

So here is my first ever sourdough loaf!

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Great slabs were devoured with homemade soup, during a very late lunch.

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My second achievement today was the finishing of my first (full size) sock! It was a basic rib pattern that Bells put me on to. I saw the first pair she made with this pattern and they were way neater than mine but you can't expect miracles first go!

I used Lincraft Hot Socks. It was okay to knit with, although the different colours seemed to have different thicknesses. The pink was awfully fine compared to the red and purple. I did them with a set of 4 2mm DPNs. Haven't overcome the ladder problem yet, as you can see, but I'll get there.

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The good thing is that I can now pick up stitches! So thanks to those of you who pointed me in the direction of tutorial articles. I felt a bit silly after I saw how simple it really is, especially with the slipped stitches. I also learned grafting, as the toe of the miniature sock I made last week resembled an arrow and I didn't want anyone to think I had pointy feet. It's bad enough having fat ankles - lol.

Alas, my brown jumper has languished in my knitting basket for the entire weekend so far. I am contemplating asking my husband to confiscate all other knitting until the back is finished. 30 rows to go before I even start shaping the armholes! Then another 68 after that. It is like being on a treadmill!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A time to reminisce ...

Carol suggested a post about learning to knit, which prompted me to dig out some of my Nanna's knitting. It was so even, fine and just perfect! I can only hope some of her genes passed on to me.

She died back in 1984, but I'm sure she's happily looking down on me clicking away!

Due to a bad car accident in her late 30s, she suffered from horrendous back pain and I imagine that knitting was very therapeutic for her. It probably gave her something to concentrate on and think about, other than pain. She was largely immobile and I remember her sitting in her favourite chair in the lounge, feet up on the ottoman, needles flashing away long into the night. Her hands moved so quickly you could hardly see them. I remember she used to hold the live yarn in her left hand, which Bells has told me is the continental method.

I recall the holiday I had with Nanna during which she taught me to knit. I'd begged her to make some clothes for my Sindy doll and in no time she was dressed in a cute moss stitch hat, a little pink jumper and a lace shawl, complete with tiny tassels! I so wanted to be able to do that myself. Ha ha!

Nanna pulled out some fat, yellow plastic needles with black blobs on the end. No way could I hold both in the air at once, so the right needle was braced on my thigh, tongue was out and a frown decorated my forehead as I struggled to form stitches. The wool was orange and my knitting had so many holes in it that it looked like a misshapen fishing net! But I didn't care - I was knitting with my Nan and that was all that mattered.

There's something very comforting about now finding joy in a craft that my Nan loved so much :)

As soon as I laid this shawl on the floor, our cat Libby commandeered it. Had to knock that one on the head quickly!

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A close-up
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Sunday, July 15, 2007

I am Outed

My friend now knows of my new obsession. Pulling out my knitting didn't bother me at all - I just thought we'd be off doing things all day so there would be no time. But, as it happens, it was very cold, so we spent a fair bit of time indoors laughing ourselves silly over "Coupling" Series 2 and 3. It was never the same after the idiotic Jeff departed. Series 4, sans Jeff, is not as sidesplittingly hilarious as the first 3. So, a perfect time for knitting!

We had a lovely day on Saturday - went to Sandgate in the morning, walked out on Shorncliffe Pier and strolled along the boardwalk, finishing with a coffee overlooking the water. There was a yarn shop in Redcliffe that I wanted to see but I was very disappointed when I got there. It was very small and there wasn't much in the shop at all! There is another one I want to look at, but it seems for now I'm stuck with Spotlight and Lincraft. Which is okay, I guess. I'll find out good places to buy yarn along my knitting journey.

The brown jumper has grown! It was a good thing to work on whilst watching DVDs because it's so mind-numbingly simple. The back is half done! Mind you, the back of the baby jumper is also done. I'm very pleased with the colours and this is my first time knitting with 2 balls. So have learned a new skill :)

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Bells is a bad influence - she tempted me with a miniature sock tutorial pattern on Friday. So of course I had to try it!! I found it very awkward for the first couple of rows and thought, "what a moron I am to think I can do this!!!" But then I saw my little sock tube peeping out from the misshapen triangle of my DPNs and thought, "wow!"

But I do have one BIG problem. No-one has ever shown me how to pick up stitches from the side. I had a lot of trouble doing it on Glynn's jumper and I just couldn't get the right number of stitches picked up. So if anyone knows any tutorials I could watch, that would be wonderful. I couldn't find one on knitting help - just for picking up stitches from the top.

Have just seen Rosered's beautiful socks so it is very humbling to post this picture of my sock-in-progress, but humility is good for the soul!!! You can see where I stuffed up the picking up stitches after turning the heel. The other side is worse - it has a couple of little holes in it :(

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

What a lovely welcome!

Thank you so much to everyone for such a warm welcome! Although what, other than warmth, could one expect from those who love knitting - lol!

I'm looking forward to browsing around on everyone's blogs and seeing what wonderful creations there are to drool over and covet.

And a HUGE happy birthday to the beautiful Bells for Friday! I hope lots of lovely things come your way.

There is a disaster looming over the weekend. Next to no knitting!!! I have a friend coming to visit who is definitely NOT the crafty type. She arrives tomorrow afternoon and is staying until Sunday evening. So there might be some desperate clicking going on into the wee hours of Monday morning! What is wrong with me that I am half wishing she wasn't coming so I could spend more time knitting? Should yarn be in the Schedule of Class A Drugs? I guess it's healthier than many other addictions, so perhaps not.

I am loving making this baby jumper - it grows so quickly! A couple of hours and I'm up to shaping the armholes.

Here's the pattern of the bubby jumper

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And an update on my scarf. Don't look too closely - I made a mistake early on in the piece! But I thought it would be too hard to frog so I just kept going. The recipient won't notice and, if she does, she won't mind in the least :) Oh, the joy of accepting friends lol.

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Alas, my brown jumper is still the same. Shame on me!! But I am doing nothing but brown jumper tonight! (trudges off, shoulders slumped)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Is it too early for a Knitting Nemesis?

The brown jumper. Ugh! I hate it already! A bit of background. My younger brother, David, has some health problems associated with diabetes. Recently he stayed with Glynn and me for 2 weeks whilst he had eye surgery. At the time, I was knitting Glynn's navy jumper. David was very impressed with it and asked what the chances were of me knitting him one the same as he liked the pattern. It's just moss rib and very plain. "No worries!" was my response, being only halfway through Glynn's at the time and thinking I'd never tire of it.

So we jumped on the Bendigo website and ordered his wool. It's a lovely chocolate brown called "Mulga". I decided to do a sleeve, then the back, then the other sleeve, then the front - saving the most interesting bit until last.

But I now know it's going to be very hard work to finish it! It's very uninteresting knitting the same pattern in the same colour for such a long time. Hopefully the knowledge that my brother will really appreciate it will be enough to keep me going.

I've been rewarding myself with one pattern repeat on the scarf for every 20 rows of brown jumper! The scarf is now about 50cm long. But today I decided I needed another interim treat, so bought a pattern book of baby jumpers and some Zhivago in navy and a bluish-grey. A friend is giving birth to a little boy in September, so he'll get a nice little present! I'm also going to knit him a jumper in Merino Bambino, as recommended by Bells. But there's no reason he can't have two!

Back to the brown jumper .....

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A brave new world

Being entirely new to the world of blogging, I am filled with both fear and embarrassment. Fear in case no-one reads a thing I write and embarrassment in case someone does!!

A great friend of mine, Bells (sorry - don't know how to do hyperlinks yet!) has reintroduced me to knitting. I did a little as a child and I'm sure my grandmother used to despair of my butter fingers! Happily, I seem to have gained some co-ordination along with my wrinkles and have managed to knit a couple of things so far.

Bells has been very encouraging, despite my no doubt elementary questions and I think of myself as her apprentice (or Paduan if we were Jedis).

My biggest worry is that, because I jump in head first and try things that are too hard for me, I will become frustrated and chuck it all in. So I'm hoping to become part of the knitting blogworld so I have access to that world of experience and encouragement. Maybe in time I can add to that!

This is my beautiful husband, Glynn, in the very first jumper I made! It's less than a week old!

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My younger brother has put in an order for one in the same pattern, with chocolate brown wool. One sleeve down, one back waistband down and many, many stitches to go! For pretty relief, I'm also working on a "branching out" scarf. I've been desperate to knit lace and what's the worst that can happen? There are worse things in the world than frogging and starting again. That's a philosophy I hope I can hang on to!

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