Lonesome?

I was on my way home this afternoon, galumphing down the hill, when I spotted this lonesome looking bear…

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I don’t know what he was doing there. He reminded me of a much-beloved cat waiting for its owner to return.

Perhaps Mr. Bear had been abandoned. The garter stitch around his girth is broken, like he’s been in a scrap. I was tempted to take him home and administer some TLC. If he’s still there in the next few days, I may well steal him away, poor thing!

 

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Cinnamon Dust

With gritted teeth, I am working my way through the motifs needed to make the blanket I wrote about in my last post. I’m not doing any other project, as I know this one will too easily go the way of the other blankets I’ve started but never finished! I’ve already decided I need less motifs than the pattern specifies, and may well make a few other adjustments. But more on that when I have finished the project and have pictures to illustrate my point.

In the meanwhile, I wanted to show off some wool I inherited today, which I’m quite excited about.IMG_3083

My friend’s lodger moved to another country and left 5 balls of Wool & the Gang’s Crazy Sexy Wool. It’s in the appropriately autumnal colour, cinnamon dust. I don’t know what to do with it yet – whether I’ll knit with it, or crochet. I don’t want to do a hat or a scarf.. Maybe a shawly thing..? Anyone have any ideas, or recommended patterns..? There is also a ball of neon-orange acrylic yarn, and a pair of WATG 25mm needles for me to play with.

I’m trying not to think about it until I get the blankie out of the way. I just don’t need the distraction!

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Blankie

Blankets are not a WIP that have ever become a FO for me. For some reason, I never complete. Why then, have I just started a new one??

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Well, I’ve had my eye on this pattern for a while, a few years in fact. It’s called Ringtoss Afghan, designed by Barbara Worn-Wurtz, from Crochet World August 2012. As I had some yarn in the right weight to stash-bust, I thought I’d finally get started on it. Except I’ve had to get more of that yarn… So much for stash-busting. I’ll probably end up with the same amount left over again!

I love the texture of this blanket, but I didn’t fancy faffing around changing yarn colours all the time, so I’ve opted for a monochrome of blue. I’ve been trying to work out what kind of blue this is – the photo makes it look too bright. It’s darker, and greener.. Perhaps a woad blue..?

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Apart from this blankie, I have a handful of motifs which are nowhere near enough in number to make a blanket yet. I took these out of their storage place recently and Hmm-ed a bit. The problem is, I was whipping up these motifs in DK but I haven’t used that weight yarn in a while, and I’ve more or less used up my DK stash – at least in decent yarn and colours that I’d want in a blanket. (Anything else will be for toys or something.)

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One way or another, I am definitely aiming to finish at least one blanket by the time the colder months arrive..

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Bo-Peep and The Owlers

Wool may not have been high on my list of priorities when I holidayed in Hastings last week – my focus was more botanical, exploring plants of the coast – but my discoveries were to include wool after all!

Best known for the events of 1066, Hastings is also famous for its links with historical smuggling. As I found out at a popular visitor attraction, The Smuggler’s Caves, wool was one of those commodities subject to illicit handling and movement. The activity was originally a shifting of illegal exports (rather than imports). Wool was smuggled out of the country  as early as the 13th century when it was a luxury item, and King John had stamped an Export Duty on wool in 1203. This covert transportation of wool became known as owling due to participants’ use of the owl hoot as an alarm call. The Owlers plied their illegal trade for several centuries and by 1700, approximately 150,000 packs of wool were smuggled from the Sussex and Kent shore alone.

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In the 1800s, when the Napoleonic Wars raged, circular forts known as Martello Towers were built along the coastline. Their primary function was defence but they were also used to incarcerate smugglers caught by the Preventive Services. A mile or two from Hastings Old Town stood Bo-Peep Martello Tower. Within an innocent-sounding nursery rhyme about a shepherdess of the same name as the tower lurks a darker story:

Little Bo-Peep (Preventive Men)

Has lost her sheep, (smugglers)

And doesn’t know where to find them.

Leave them alone 

And they’ll come home,

Dragging their tails (tubs*) behind them.

I wonder which came first – an innocuous children’s rhyme reappropriated by criminals? Or the smugglers’ tale hidden in the rhyme, a jibe against the law enforcers? I’m don’t why that particular Martello was known as Bo-Peep – I’ve noticed there is now a pub of that name, and the rail tunnel next to the station of St Leonard’s: Warrior Square is called Bo-Peep Tunnel.

The other unexpected woolly discovery was to be found on the new Hastings pier:

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Very typical of British seaside resorts – except they’re normally painted, not knitted. Of course I had a photo take with my mush in the face slot.. but I won’t be sharing that pic!

 

* Tubs: Booty was hidden in barrels or tubs, and the locals employed to carry them from the beaches to their hiding places were called Tubmen.

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Crocheted urchins

Hello! It’s been a time. Knitting was taking over my life a bit, so I wanted to shift focus for a while, back to the horticultural. I found this article while researching something on orchards. It shows a stunning use of crochet to decorate a public space. That would definitely stop me in my tracks!

https://www.treehugger.com/culture/urchins-crocheted-installation-choi-shine-architects.html

Choi+Shine Architects

 

 

 

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Toe Up, Two Down

The path to sock enlightenment is not proving an easy one. My first pair – years in the making – shrunk in the wash.. Oops! I put them in the ordinary wash at 40 degrees, and I can’t even get them on my feet anymore (now I know what Cinderella’s ugly sisters felt like if they were trying on her socks rather than her glass slipper!) Maybe I’ll use them as dusters..

I wanted to make another pair quickly before I forgot the process, so I went to good ol’ Ravelry and found this freebie pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/rye-4  As the design calls for worsted yarn and chunkier needles than the first sock pattern I attempted, they worked up more quickly. The only hiccup was grafting the toe – this time I tried the proper Kitchener stitch instead of the crocheted graft I used before. The only thing I would change if I made these socks again would be to use a different sized needle for the cuff: the pattern called for 2.25mm needles compared to 2.75 for the rest of the sock, but I reckon I would either use the same size as the main body, or 2.5mm if I went smaller for the cuff, as I thought 2.25mm was a teeny bit on the tight side..

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Cuff down socks: Seersucker stitch and Rye Pattern

I then decided I wanted to try a toe up sock pattern, and went for a basic pattern from the book Socks From The Toe Up by Wendy D Johnson. But I made a couple of idiotic decisions. To begin with, the pattern specified 2mm needles – eek! Titchy takes too long! And the yarn I chose was not great for the ripping back which is inevitable when learning  new techniques (i.e. Turkish cast on, fleegle heel and I was rusty on M1 increases). The yarn in question was Debbie Bliss Rialto Luxury Sock. It has a haze, and this tends to catch on itself when ripping back, especially as 2mm needles create small stitches which knot up easily. Eventually I reached the leg of the first sock and managed to accidentally break the yarn (even though I was doing plain stocking stitch at that point, my brain sometimes rebels at repetitiveness, and I did something wrong, so had to unravel..) At which point I got so exasperated, I lost the will to continue, and decided that pattern in this yarn on those needles was too much trouble! So I went large again. Far more sensible to learn on chunkier yarn and thicker needles. The pattern was another freeby from Ravelry http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/toe-up-worsted-socks and it went a lot more smoothly.

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Toe up socks

By then I had thought of a title for this blog post I wanted to write so I knew I wanted to make another pair of cuff down socks. I thought I’d have a go a go at designing my own sock. I’d seen several stitch patterns I liked and I opted for the Seersucker stitch, which was written for flat knitting but was easy enough to convert to circular knitting. I had to look up what a seersucker was – sounds like some sort of leech to me! But it actually means “a lightweight fabric with a crimped or puckered surface”. In green yarn, it brings to mind dragon scales..

The final test is how comfy they are in my gardening boots and, of course, if I can wash them without shrinking them. Dusters anyone..?

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Isla inspired phone cosy

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That floral motif from the Isla cloche which I wrote about a couple of posts ago… Y’know, I liked it so much that when I was asked by my cousin to make her a phone cosy for Xmas, I decided to whittle out the motif from the hat pattern and incorporate it accordingly. I’m only writing about it now, over a month later, because we finally met to exchange gifts on Friday. My cuz does sometimes read this blog and, of course, I didn’t want to ruin the surprise. She beamed with delight when she ripped open the wrapping paper.

I used the leftover yarn (Malabrigo Rios) from the Isla cloche I made for a friend, and I chose a moss stitch for the base of the cosy to represent the crumb structure of a good soil that the flower might be growing in. The reverse side of the cosy is in plain knit stitch. I decided against an envelope flap and button like on my phone sock. Instead I opted for ribbing using a smaller needle, and thought the result was much better.

In return, cuz gave me a stitch dictionary for knitting in the round. Just right for plotting designs for socks. I’ve got several ideas brewing and don’t know which one to go for first, like a kid in a sweetshop. (I usually went for rhubarb and custard in the end. Wonder what that suggests about my sock knitting future..)

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