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I thought it was about time I did a proper post. It’s been a long time since I blogged about knitting, and I have several FOs that I’ve given away without photographing.

So…back in August I went to Knit Camp with some friends. We just went for the day, as it was only a few miles down the road, and I wasn’t involved in any of the drama that unfolded surrounding the event (and I feel very bad for those who were involved). We attended the Marketplace and had a very pleasant day mooching around and meeting people. My red Liesl was much admired (including by Debbie Stoller – who I didn’t recognise! Oops!) and I bumped into Katherine, which was great, as I’d never met her in real life before.

I was relatively restrained in purchasing, but still managed to come away with some yarn and buttons:

It’s “Liquorice” from Ba T’at Yarns. I have vague plans for it, possibly involving Travelling Woman.

And the buttons:

Big Five buttons! (Yes, I will finish the Kenya photos eventually. I promise).

Gorgeous, lightweight coconut shell buttons.

It’s been very, very cold in Scotland for about three weeks. We still haven’t lost all the snow that fell on the last weekend of November (although most of it is solid ice by now), and more fell today. I’ve been making the most of some of my recent FOs:

Socks in Kaffe Fassett Regia 4-ply. I wanted to make them as long as possible, so I knit them toe-up. I used Judy’s Magic Cast on, knit them in plain stocking stitch over 60 stitches, worked a short row heel and finished with Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.

Dashing mitts in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran that I recycled from my Gretel beret. It had never really fit me, it was a bit too small, and I didn’t wear it last winter at all, so I frogged it and repurposed it. These mitts have probably had more wear in the last 3 weeks than the beret did in the whole time I had it.

I have another post brewing, but I think this one’s long enough for now. I’ll leave you with this picture of some FOs, old and new, put to good use:

 

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Penne cheese

I make macaroni penne cheese every so often, and I can never remember what quantities to use, so I tend to end up with a massive pile of pasta with rather too much sauce. But I just made what I consider to be a damn good attempt at it, and I thought I’d record what I actually did for future reference.

Ingredients

  • 200g penne (although I don’t see why you couldn’t use actual macaroni or another small pasta!)
  • 40g butter
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 500ml semi-skimmed milk
  • A bay leaf
  • Black pepper
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 120g mature Cheddar cheese
  • A tablespoon of breadcrumbs
  • A tablespoon of grated parmesan

Method

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water.
  2. Melt the butter in another large pan. Add the flour and stir to form a roux. Cook gently for a couple of minutes.
  3. Remove the roux from the heat and whisk in the milk, a bit at a time. Add the bay leaf and peppers and return to the heat.
  4. Cook on a medium heat, stirring well, until the sauce thickens. Turn off the heat and stir in the Cheddar.
  5. Drain the pasta and mix it with the sauce.
  6. Place in a small casserole dish. Top with the breadcrumbs and parmesan.
  7. Brown under a hot grill or bake in an oven at about 200C for 15-20 minutes.

This made enough for 2 fairly large portions.

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It was a bit scary when my friends started having babies. But some of them are now on their second baby! My friend J gave birth to her second daughter on 2nd May. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks working on some gifts for baby Isabel, using some stash yarn that I chose because it was machine-washable. The colours are maybe not traditional baby colours, but I think they’re very funky.

This is the Garter Stitch Baby Kimono by Joji Locatelli, in Patons Diploma Gold 4-ply. I found the ladybird buttons in my local craft shop. I cast on according to the pattern, but then realised that my cast-on edge was too tight. So I carefully snipped a stitch a row or two above the cast-on, unravelled the row and put the resulting live stitches on some scrap yarn. Then, when I’d finished knitting the grey part, I knit an applied i-cord starting at the middle of the neck. When I got to the bottom of the cardigan I worked an i-cord bind-off, then continued the applied i-cord.

I had a bit of grey yarn left, so I made these:

They are Ysolda’s Tiny Shoes. The craft shop had run out of ladybird buttons so I got owls instead. I think my cast-on for the front of the shoes could have been better – I used a basic twisty M1 cast-on, and I think a cable or knitted on cast-on would have been neater.

Still, they’re all finished and posted off, and I’ve started the first sleeve of my Manu.

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Bring the fortune and life of a past finished project up to the present. Document the current state and use of an object you have knitted or crocheted, whether it is the hat your sister wears to school almost every day, or a pair of socks you wore until they were full of holes. Or maybe that jumper that your did just didn’t like that much…

Oops, I seem to have completely missed yesterday’s post. I might try to catch up tomorrow or Monday. Is that allowed? Anyway…

By way of a past FO I present to you the sweater I am wearing right now, Baby Cables and Big Ones Too. I originally saw this pattern when Kate from  Needled made one and blogged about it. I bought some New Lanark pure wool DK, because it was cheap but still Proper Wool,  and I knit it up over a month, finishing it on Christmas Day, 2008.

Chris and I were staying at my parents’ house for Christmas, and I didn’t bother blocking it at first – I just wore it constantly for several days, during which time it took the usual battering from my Mum’s ponies and my parents’ Boxer dog. When I got home I gave it a good wash, got out the drool and the hairs, and blocked it properly.

The yarn, which was scratchy right out of the ball, softened up with knitting, and now, after several washes, it has bloomed into a beautiful soft, fluffy texture. This sweater is the perfect weight for most of the year – my aran and chunky sweaters have mostly been put away for the summer, but I know that my Baby Cables will get worn all summer long on chilly evenings and windy hills.

Here it is in action on our honeymoon on Skye, in front of the Eas Mor waterfall, with Bruach Na Frithe looming behind. My Baby Cables is the perfect hillwalking sweater: light enough and fitted enough for fit easily underneath a fleece or a waterproof, warm enough even in cutting winds, but airy enough to breathe when the incline warms you up. It is my go-to sweater on almost all occasions (sadly, it’s not quite smart enough for work). I love it.

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Is there a skill related to your hobby that you hope to learn one day? maybe you’re a crocheter who’d also like to knit? Maybe you’d like to learn to knit continental, knit backwards, try cables or attempt stranded colourwork.

Mooncalf said in her post earlier in the day that her skill acquisition tends to be project-driven. I’m the same – if a project requires me to learn a new technique, I poke the Internet or pick up a book and figure it out.  I did have a plan to learn two-handed colourwork, but so far I’ve only got round to making a single Ziggy sock (which I frogged because I didn’t like the yarn). The actual colourwork wasn’t too hard, though, so I’ll probably do some more of that another time!

Actually the skill I’m most curious about at the moment is probably crochet. As far as I’ve been concerned so far in my knitting career, crochet hooks are for picking up dropped stitches. In a pinch I’ll use a crochet invisible cast-on, and once I crocheted a neckline onto a knitted sweater. But that’s about it. I never really thought crochet looked particularly nice. However, I’ve seem some lovely crocheted items recently, and some of my knitter friends have been getting into crochet. I’m also going on holiday to Kenya in July, and I’m told airlines look much more favourably on crochet hooks than knitting needles.

Oh dear, I seem to have committed myself to learning to crochet!

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Write about a knitter whose work (whether because of project choice, photography, styling, scale of projects, stash, etc) you enjoy. If they have an enjoyable blog, you might find it a good opportunity to send a smile their way.

I first discovered Kate Davies’ blog, Needled, a couple of years ago. I promptly became a regular reader, at first drawn in by her beautiful creations, but then thoroughly hooked by the tremendous depth of her writing. Kate is a very knowledgeable and articulate lady who writes with grace and fluency about all sorts of things from the history of fibre crafts, through hillwalking and allotment-keeping. The little details about her home city of Edinburgh are helping me to learn to love that town, with which I have a somewhat troubled history (being more of an adoptive West Coast girl myself, and having had a terrible job in Edinburgh that made me very miserable).

Kate’s photographs are just as evocative as her writing, bringing out easily-overlooked detail in objects and landscapes, with a certain haunting use of light. Her patterns, too, are beautiful – quirky but stylish, never over-done. I love the Owls sweater (and have been wearing mine ever since I finished it until the last couple of weeks when it’s been warmer) and am partway through Manu.

While some bloggers are to be admired from afar (I’m thinking of those knitting celebrities who can’t possibly have time to reply to comments or read the blogs of everyone who reads theirs), I feel very friendly towards Kate. When I was struggling with my Clothkits skirt (back in 2008 when I started it!) she spotted a short-lived ramble about my problems on this blog (I took it down because I don’t like complaining in public!), and emailed me to help. As well as knitting, I share her interests in Scottish hills, malt whisky, and growing things. She always has something interesting to say.

As you probably know, Kate had a stroke recently and has been blogging her road to recovery with her customary insight and eloquence. I was amazed by how quickly she re-learned to knit (and released the pattern for Manu from her hospital bed!).  Her determination and perseverance are inspiring and I truly hope to be reading about her return to the hills in the not-too-distant future.

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Blog about a pattern or project which you aspire to. Whether it happens to be because the skills needed are ones which you have not yet acquired, or just because it seems like a huge undertaking of time and dedication, most people feel they still have something to aspire to in their craft. If you don’t feel like you have any left of the mountain of learning yet to climb, say so!

Well, as I said at the end of my last post, I certainly don’t feel like I’ve climbed that mountain yet! There’s always more to learn. But as soon as I started thinking about what inspirational pattern I could write about, it became clear that there was only one possible candidate: Muir.

I’d never paid much attention to patterns for lace shawls and stoles before the Autumn of 2007. I’d been knitting for about a year, and always thought that those intricate lace patterns looked a bit old-fashioned and grannyish. Then the Fall issue of Knitty came out, and my mind was well and truly changed.

I had Muir in the back of my mind for a long time. I didn’t really know much about lace (I’d made some socks with basic lace patterns, but that was about it) and I didn’t really know how to shop for laceweight. Then I visited Woolfest in 2008 with a friend, and came home with two skeins of Knitwitches pure silk 2-ply in “Lush Seas” – a gorgeous, rich variegated blue colourway.

I was planning to make Muir, but two things stopped me. One: the silk was blue. Muir has a leaf lace motif, so it should be green (I’m literal-minded like that). Two: I realiesd that a 32-row lace chart was probably not the best introduction to both lace and charts. So I put the silk away for a while, and put Muir to the back of my mind.

In August of 2008, Chris and I got engaged (finally, after 10 years together!). I didn’t want a white dress, and ended up buying a stunning silk maxi dress in rich purple from Monsoon. And I thought: that blue laceweight would go well with this…

So the blue laceweight became, over the course of a couple of months, my Print O’ the Wave stole:

And it did, indeed, go wonderfully with the purple dress:

That lace led to more: Laminaria and Ishbel, as well as numerous other projects that involved lace of some description.

But I’ve not forgotten Muir. Oh no. For years now I have been searching for the perfect yarn: it had to be in variegated shades of mossy green and brown. And a few months ago I found it:

Posh Yarn Maisie, in the “Copse” colourway. It is destined to be a Muir. I’m not sure when: maybe this year, maybe next, who knows? But eventually I will make it!

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