All posts for the month July, 2014


Published July 31, 2014 by Jackie

I’m not a great writer of lists, or maybe it’s that I’m not a great reader of lists once I’ve actually written them. Is the process of writing a list all that I usually need to organise my mind? Possibly, but probably not.

I’ve been feeling a bit swamped by my projects lately, this happens every now and then. So yesterday, during an exceedingly tedious meeting, where I could see that my notebook was not in view of the video camera (I’ve finally learned how to focus and zoom) I started writing a wee list of the things I must finish, start, or start and finish, before the end of the year. It was only a spiral topped notepad, so not very big, but in less than 5 minutes I had reached the bottom of the page and was going back to categorise things.

I chose 2 categories: ‘active works in progress I ought to finish off’ and ‘I really want to start this soon, I have the yarn all ready to go!’

To be fair, the lists were pretty equal in length, and probably most of the WiPs just need me to pull my finger out, sew in a few ends, and a couple of buttons. But my chronic start-itis sees me casting off one thing only to cast on the next, if I even wait that long.

I always have a few deadlines, random birthdays, Christmas and leaving gifts that I foolishly impose on myself, small things, y’know, but these sneak into my project and disrupt all my best laid plans.

But every other Thursday evening, I find myself tidying up and filling my storage space with bags of yarn, projects that don’t have impending deadlines, before my lovely cleaner comes. And the next evening, after she’s been, I’m pulling things out again, left right and centre to find this or that!

I suppose I’m just feeling a bit overwhelmed by those projects at the moment because I know I won’t have a huge amount of knitting time this coming month. Maybe I need to take a day to sort things out before it all kicks off. I’ve even bought a couple of underbed boxes to try and make order of it all, so that’s a start!

Yes, it’s August now, and the start of the Edinburgh Festival, and for the next 4 weeks I really just need a small portable project that I can a. knit on the way to & from work b. won’t take up too much space in my handbag c. can be picked up for some ‘unwind time’ when I get home late in the evening too. Is that one project, or is it two?

Vivid can certainly be my portable project, I now have definite deadlines for two of them, a December birthday, and a May wedding. At the moment I seem to be focussing on the May wedding Vivid, but that’s mostly because the yarn is easier to work with on hot days, being cotton. But if the weather changes, I could easily move to the other. So that’s the portable project sorted…

Unwind at home with what though? Colourwork hat that is needed (make that wanted) for early October trip to Shetland… The other (Quotidian) colourwork hat that is buzzing round my head right now? Fiona’s sock test-knit? Just one would be enough to get finished.

Maybe the best thing is to just finish up the projects I can finish quickly, and not start another project until I have finished 3 things! I need to sleep on this, it seems.

Any handy and helpful hints gratefully received!


Vivid update

Published July 21, 2014 by Jackie

I’ve been focussing on various Vivid squares recently, partly because I’ve been too busy and Vivid is such a Zen activity, mindless yet not, but portable too.

I finished the aran weight St Clements, and am just waiting for the person, who can get it to my friend for her new baby, to come back from her own holiday. I think it will be handed over in the next few days. Here’s a pic of it, and I’m very pleased with how it’s turned out.

I can now knit the lace centre in around 45mins to 1hr, undisturbed, and about the same for the garter edge, so let’s say 3hrs tops per square! On bigger needles and thicker aran yarn, it really didn’t take many squares to make a buggy/cot blanket.

While my nieces were here on their annual visit, I wanted to swatch for needle size for a sweater/cardigan for the eldest, and had tried a simple swatch with Rowan Tweed Aran on 4mm, but the fabric was too dense, so I then had the brainwave of trying to make a Vivid square with the yarn on larger needles (5mm), just to get a feel for the fabric it produced.

Youngest niece saw it and asked if she too could have a blanket! (we are definitely a lap-blanket family) I can only get one square per ball, but can squeeze out a couple of extra rows on the garter band to make the best use of it. Here’s the result!

And how about a size comparison? The Aran Tweed squares are about the size of an LP, near enough 12″, the Aran ones slightly smaller, and the Denim ones smaller again. Here’s a pic where I’ve put the same cd on each. My 4-ply squares are about the size OF the cd, (before blocking, that is)


Published July 4, 2014 by Jackie

I’d been wondering over the last few days on what to blog about next, and thought it might be good to talk about my ‘turn-to’ blanket, Vivid by Tin Can Knits.

I am addicted to making this blanket, I currently have four on the go at the moment, one slow one for me, one extra large one as a wedding present, one quick turnaround in Aran, and one that has gone a bit wrong in the joining, so am putting that on hold for a baby that’s due a bit later in the year.

I also used the pattern as the basis of a communal project of two blankets last autumn for a colleague, and participated in the construction of two blankets for knit-group friends who have recently had babies

There are at least three other people in my knit-group ~ that I know of ~ who are working on their own Vivids, and am pretty sure they are as addicted as I am!

I think it’s an absolute classic! Any weight of yarn will work, you can use it to stash-bust, it looks impressive to gift to a non-knitter, and it is a comparatively easy knit, and tho the centre requires a little more attention than the outer garter border, I suspect it would be an easy introduction to lace too. A couple of useful new techniques to learn, and you can either use dpns, short circulars or magic loop, as you prefer.

From my Ravelry notes, this is the method that works really well for me:

“As with all my Vivid projects, I use a crochet hook to cast on, knit 1 row off the end onto a single dpn, then start increase row and transfer onto 4 needles, at the same time, for the lace section. Switch to 24” circ on final round of lace, ready to start garter edge. Casting off with surprisingly stretchy cast-off (over-needle YO between all stitches)”

So, in order of creation, here are my Vivid projects:

1. In pink cotton, from the bottom of my stash, I started with one for me. I have about 20 squares made, and am aiming for either 6×6=36 or 6×7=42. This just ticks away, every so often I work another square. Very old Jaeger Sienna cotton ~ this has been an RYC Classic label for many years now ~ I have no photos of these squares yet, but I shall attempt to remedy that soon

2. Two communal blankets based on Vivid: a work colleague adopted siblings, around the same time as we knit a blanket for another colleague’s new baby. Seemed easiest to make a patchwork blanket that other colleagues could work garter squares for, and I threw in Vivid squares, 9 for each blanket. One blanket was mainly made from Natural Dye Studio Dazzle Sock, and the other from Angels & Elephands Hand-dyed sockweight.

3. A fingering weight Vivid, using deep stash Natural Dye Studio Dazzle HT. This is making a very fine weight blanket, and I am trying to use a variegated yarn as the lace centre and the undyed base as the border. Looks great, but I went off-pattern and decided to use a 3-needle bind-off, and it just isn’t working! I have put this to one side, and see Vivid 5 for its replacement.

4. Denim Vivid ~ having gathered a collection of shades and oddments and full balls of Rowan Denim, I took them on holiday with me, and at almost exactly the same time as my friend Cathy, decided to knit a shades of blue Vivid. Cathy’s is in Rennies, double strands. The darkest indigo squares are filthy with dye, both making washing and blocking leaches more dye, but the lighter shades are okay. Shortly after I started, my nephew told me there’s a wedding invite coming out shortly, and having enough Denim to make a 7×7 blanket, I should get something almost double-bed sized.

5. Fast-track Vivid: aran weight, for a baby due in a couple of weeks, gender unknown. This is replacing the one that has gone wrong in the construction. I dived into my stash and found some half-price Rowan Aran I had picked up in Jenners. Thought maybe I would use more colours, but I can get as many squares as I need out of two shades, with a third neutral for the garter edges, so I opted for an Oranges and Lemons theme. 4 of one colour, 5 of the other… these are coming out as over 10 inches square when blocked, so I only need 3×3 for a cot-blanket! I can almost turn around 2 squares in an evening now!

But here’s the thing… if I try to knit the lace centre in a social setting, I trip up! If I’ve frogged one, I must have frogged 3 or 4 in the last 10 days! So I sat down one evening and worked out what made it so easy to do at home but meant it was almost impossible socially… and was answered so quickly, it’s just counting! 1 2… 1 2 3… 1 2 3 4… 1 2 3 4 5…. round and round! Social knitting involves talking, so I can no longer talk to myself while I knit.

I have a strategy tho… I work a centre, and at the end of the lace, I transfer to a circular needle… then I start a second centre, and take it to the row before. If I put both pieces in my project bag, I can finish two squares fairly quickly, without any bother at all!

Well, who’d have thought I could write nearly 900 words about a simple blanket square? Try it… you’ll love it!