Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Starmore, the Early Years

Borrowed from the library: Scandinavian Knitwear (1982), Knitting from the British Islands (1983), Children's Knitting from Many Lands (1984).

In my opinion these three pattern books are not worth the money some shops demand but I'd pay a normal used book price (say, under $12). There are a few sweaters knit in the round (without making use of steeks) but the great majority are worked in pieces, which is a plus or minus depending on your personal preference. Even the hats in Scandinavian Knitwear are knit flat and seamed up.

As for the designs, it's a mixed bag. Check out that Aran dress on the cover: Yikes! Some items look dated, as is expected from patterns published in the early '80s, but there are a few appealing classic pieces in each book and more not-so-appealing classics. YMMV.

You can buy the "Patrington & Withernsea" pattern in Knitting from the British Islands on the Virtual Yarns website (it's been renamed Scalpay in the AS Classics section), as long as you don't mind buying it as a kit. I think it looks better on the website and I suspect the pattern has been updated and improved.

If you're curious but your library doesn't own these three books, ask about interlibrary loan. That reminds me, I should see if it's possible to borrow Pacific Coast Highway on loan.

Birthday gloves: One is done, it's drying inside-out right now so it's not ready for a photo. I just finished the cuff for its mate, looks like they'll be a little late for mom's friend's official birthday next week.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

yet another pair of socks and a bad glove

I finished grandma's socks on the 9th and mailed them off (after a quick handwash and air dry) on the 11th.

Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, color "Jeans"

Grandma asked me to make the cuffs extra loose so I aimed for 8.5" cuffs for her 8" ankles and then decreased on the leg so they wouldn't be too loose for her foot. I included instructions on how to block the hell out of the cuffs if they were still too tight: wet the cuffs and place them over a drinking glass or plastic bottle until dry. I recommended she look for a glass or plastic bottle that is about 9" around. That should do the trick.

I love working with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock but I think it should be washed by hand if you want to keep it looking nice, even though the label says it's machine washable. I throw all my socks in the washing machine and the LLSS has pilled badly (and doesn't look that great in general, even if you ignore the pills) while my Regia socks from 5 years ago look almost as good as new. That's my experience, I can't explain why some people don't have any problems machine washing their LLSS.

When I bought the yarn for grandma's socks I had this conversation with the LYS worker:

Her: Have you used this Shepherd Sock before?

Me: Yeah

Her: How did it hold up after washing?

Me: Well I wish I didn't machine wash it, it doesn't look very good but they're just socks so I don't care that much. If I used it for a sweater or gloves, something more visible, I'd be upset that the label says it's machine washable.

Her: OK, we had a customer who was upset with us because she machine washed her socks and she felt they were ruined after one washing.

Me: Yeah, if I were you I'd recommend people handwash this yarn.

Right now I'm working on a pair of gloves for my mom's friend, as a favor to my mom. She selected a silky alpaca fingering yarn, black with light blue for contrast around the wrists. I should have known during the swatching process it wouldn't work but I stubbornly knit to the end of the thumb gusset before giving up on the yarn.

Bad glove

Problems: it was too itchy (even though it felt fantastic in the skein) and alpaca yarn doesn't have the kind of spring I want in a glove yarn. Duh. Lesson learned. There's some black sock yarn in the stash so I'll start over with that this weekend. I'll probably do something different around the wrist, depends on the stitch count.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A new book, new yarn, old yarn, and a new sock in progress

I received 3 skeins of overpriced Fortissima sock yarn for Christmas but it was from the same line as these Mexico socks. I didn't want two additional pairs of socks that look so much alike (I can make 2 pairs from 3 skeins) so I quickly accepted the receipt when mom waved it and headed off to Linda's Knit n Stitch, where the perfect exchange was waiting:

Fantastic book. I'll write a review that compares it to Alice Starmore's out of print Fair Isle book after I borrow her book from the library again.

On the way home I stopped at Weaving Works in Seattle and left with five skeins of Jamieson's 2 ply Spindrift for even more colorwork gloves/mittens.

Hooray for Christmas cash

The Spindrift will be combined with one of last year's major thrift store scores: a bag of 2 ply Shetland yarn, including some Alice Starmore Campion.

Hooray for thrift stores

The new yarn shop in town, Marilyn's Yarn, also carries Jamieson & Smith's 2 ply Shetland, so it'll be easy to pick up another color or two.


Right now I'm working on grandma's Christmas request, a pair of socks in Lorna's Laces Shepherd's Sock. This is the "Jeans" colorway:

Grandma's Request socks

I asked mom for gift suggestions and she said "Give her yarn and say you'll make socks with it." Mother knows best. I also offered to make gloves or mittens with the yarn but grandma wanted socks.

I'm declaring a moratorium on knitting socks at home after I finish the Trekking socks and grandma's socks. 2006 will be the year of colorwork for me. See how I snuck the "at home" in there? I'll continue to work on socks when I'm not home, it's easy mindless portable knitting so I can't give them up entirely.

Hello 2006, I hope you're kinder than 2005.