Sock-knitting OMG

Remember Kaffe Fassett’s fabulous Design Line colourways for Regia sock yarn? Six different colour combinations which knit up either in stripes (“landscape”) or marl (“mirage”)?

I’m making a pair of socks for my father in mirage earth:

p's sock 1

Beth‘s been using landscape twilight for her jaywalkers.

Well, seems Regia have just released a new set of yarns by Kaffe Fassett – Design Line Exotic Colors.

exotic socks

Six new palettes, and just look at how they knit up.


“Self-striping” seems an inadequate term for that patterning.

I wonder whether the box shown on this site is for shop display purposes or a kit for purchase containing two balls of each colourway. Unfortunately I don’t speak a word of German so can’t understand the text on the page, but the latter wouldn’t surprise me at all given the popularity of the first edition and the fact that it is being sold in complete sets (although not in wooden boxes – and no cheaper per ball than buying them individually).

Also I’ve just discovered that it’s possible to buy transparent wellington boots in order to ensure that the beauty of your hand-knitted socks is not obscured even in wet weather. OMG.

Peplum and gores

Knitting has been happening, pretty steadily, in the background. The latest onto the needles is the excellently-named Darcy from Heartfelt – The Dark House Collection by Kim Hargreaves.

Not only is it a wonderful pattern – peplum! gores! moss-stitch! short-row shaping! – it’s also a conscience-clearing stash-buster since I’m using some yarn which I bought in a sale probably more than ten years ago and have had hanging around ever since. The shade has the rather puzzling name of “foggy” because to me it looks more like sage green than foggy grey. But maybe it’s a reference to pea-soupers or something. This picture, of course, is not an accurate guide to the shade in question being not green enough.


Speaking of Darcy, as of course we were, I must report that I met a delightful man recently who might well fall into the Darcy category. Smart as a whip, funny, charming and kind – altogether a sparkly refreshing delight to be around. My word, I thought, they do actually exist!

Borrowed threads

This is not my knitting. I merely recorded him.


Isn’t he spectacular? Silk sewing thread and dressmaker’s pins. No pattern. Made by F. She calls it “knitting off piste”. There’s another picture here.

Conclusive evidence of the benefits of five-a-day

Further to yesterday’s post, here is a picture of the garment I was working on at the I Knit London meet-up. The sleeve on the right of the picture was sewn on before I had my five-a-day; the sleeve on the left of the picture was sewn on after consumption of the appropriate number of fruit-and-veg.


QED, I think you’ll agree. It really is necessary to have five cocktails a day. Here are some suggestions to get you started. If you click through to the picture on flickr there are helpful notes on ingredients.

fruit, veg and knitting

Now please excuse me, I have to remove and reinsert a wonky sleeve.

A delightful new way to have your five a day

Everyone must eat five portions of fruit and veg a day we are told. Endlessly. Not just by the nanny state that knows what’s best for us but also by supermarkets and food companies eager to peddle us their products at a premium because, gosh jolly whee, they contain food and must therefore be good for us – and should therefore cost more.

As a side note I was interested to see on the site I linked to above the information that potatoes do not count as one of the “five a day”. Somebody ought to tell the potato product companies currently marketing their chips and crisps as though they do count as such. (Ah. Googling reveals someone else has already noticed this.)

Rambling? Icoherent? Moi? surely not. On with the plan.

So the plan is this. You need to go down to Concrete, the bar/café at the Hayward Gallery, between the hours of 5pm and 7pm any day Monday to Thursday. There, at those times, you will find the special “two-for-one” offer on all cocktails containing vodka. You will also discover that many cocktails containing vodka also contain fruit and, yes indeed, vegetables.

Take this evening, for instance. The avowed purpose of the visit to the aforementioned café/bar was knitting and to view the hyperbolic coral reef. What actually happened was balanced nutrition and yacking. The balanced nutrition consisted of six cocktails containing (individually, not collectively):

– raspberries;
– lychees;
– limes;
– red peppers;
– watermelon;
– ginger.

Ok, that last one (ginger beer a Moscow Mule) may be stretching it a bit. But the others all had bona-fida fruit and vegetable matter. We passed on the one containing avocado on the grounds that it also had coconut and that was icky.

“We” were Pixeldiva and I at the Wednesday meeting of the I Knit London knitting club. I knitted nothing but attempted to sew on a sleeve of a garment nearing completion. Three hours later and I’d just about managed it but I suspect I’ll have to unpick and redo it tomorrow for reasons not entirely disassociated with the amount of nutrition imbibed.

That matters not one jot. For I am now so balancedly nourished that nothing is too much trouble. And I had a fab evening to boot.

Knitting knote – sock round-counter and cable needle

Sock round-counter and cable needle

I’ve always had a bit of a problem keeping track of what row I’m on. Was it row 122 or 123? Damn and blast. Nothing to do but count them, again. Many of my knitting patterns are covered with notations like those usually depicted on the walls of prisons – endless repetitions of four vertical lines scored through by a diagonal fifth – made in an effort to keep track of where I am. Or there’s the mechanical row-counter, slid onto the end of a needle and turned on a unit each time a row is completed. The problem with both these methods is that it’s very easy to forget to make the mark, turn the bezel.

And that’s just on two needles, knitting flat fabric back and forth. The problem becomes more complex knitting in the round because there’s nowhere useful to stow the row-counter, no needle-end for it to nestle up against. But I’ve come up with a solution so cunning that it’s almost impossible to go wrong. And, I must point out, I thought this up *all by myself* although no doubt it has been known about among those wise in the lore of knitting for several hundreds of years.

So. I always know the beginning of every round because the stitches are on four needles and the start is marked by the tail of the cast on. So I always know which is “needle one”. On it is placed, as you can see above, a stitch marker (in this case a safety-pin with a conveniently-sized circle at the end). It’s placed after the number of stitches indicating the number of rounds that have been repeated. So in the arrangement shown in this photograph I know instantly that I’m on the third round of the 10 round pattern repeat. It’s impossible to forget to move it on because it’s physically there when you knit along the needle.

Oh joy! oh happiness!! No more feverish counting of hundreds of tiny rows to work out whether it’s this row I need to make the cable on, the next row or (worst of all) the row I’ve just completed and will subsequently have to unravel and rework.

The cable needle is half a toothpick, sanded down and varnished with clear nail varnish.

I’m ridiculously pleased with my own ingenuity.


The sock family.

My father looks as though he has elephantiasis because his sock was retrieved from the laundry basket and he insisted on putting it on over the thick one he was already wearing.

FirstSpawn’s sock has a huge hole under the heel (not visible in this picture) because he’s been wearing it almost constantly since he got it, half the time sliding around on wooden floors without shoes on. He has ordered me to darn it. I have ordered him to take more care of it.

The next sockage will be long ones for my father probably based on this golf hose pattern which dates from when he was two years old.

It is, in our collective experience, quite true that hand-knitted socks are warmer and more comfortable than shop bought.

Chilly in these parts

My electricity provider has helpfully supplied me with an Age Concern Cold Alert thermometer. It is a piece of double-layered card with a temperature-sensitive strip displayed in a window next to a colour-coded guide relating to the safety of the ambient temperature. A very similar device was supplied by various purveyors of baby-products for monitoring the “nursery”.


Luckily none of us is either very old or very young since, as you might be able to see, it’s quite cold around here at the moment. I think it’s more a result of the wind getting through the late Victorian cracks than the actual outside temperature.

Last night, as I alternated between chill-induced headache and sub-duvet suffocation, I remembered of the delights of that comforting garment, the nightcap (my childhood held its fair share of frugal heaters), and thanks to the stitches of the interknit have already found free pattern. Although I’m not wild about the idea of knitting 1ply wool even if I could find some. It shall have to be adapted for something slightly bulkier.

Actually, there was a period in my life when I wore a knitted hat all day and all night, winter and summer. It was made for me by my mother from this pattern (which I obviously still have).


She only knitted me three things (excluding the possibility of baby clothes which I don’t remember). That hat was the second. First was… this.

sheer hell

In baby pink. Baby. Pink. Made for me when I was thirteen years old. Anyone who has ever met me, even for a millisecond, will know just how diametrically anti-me such a garment would be, at any age. Even in black. But in baby pink? And apart from the colour the most obvious thing about it, to a girl not yet bought a bra and provided with extremely sensible knickers, it’s full of fucking holes. Let us leave aside the obvious fact that it’s hideous. I was used to being forced to wear hideous.

Poor woman. She tried so hard to have a daughter who was some person other than me. It is entirely possible that, in the titanic struggle of identity between us, the hat – navy blue and very plain – became a symbol of something we actually agreed upon. Something given, something taken. Which may explain why I chose to wear it all the time until, as I recall, it pretty much disintegrated, and she elected not to stop me.

Perhaps instead of using some other nightcap pattern I should ritually recreate that blue hat in a symbolic assuaging of ghosts.

Hairdressing: EPIC FAIL

Secondspawn is shornspawn. Last night I took the clippers to his curls.

The results, as might easily have been predicted, pleased nobody. Neither Secondspawn nor I liked the length (very short due to his mother’s egregious failure to acquire a qualification in trichological control); neither Firstspawn nor I enjoyed the 40 minutes or so of continuous maximum volume screaming with which Secondspawn greeted his appearance in the mirror.

This morning peace prevailed* but the weather was cold and (another fact which will come as no surprise to those with children) not a single hat was to be found of the formerly enormous collection of Arsenal and Nike headcoverings which littered the house. He walked, uncomplainingly, to school with his little ears shrivelling with cold.

Thus it was that I was galvanized to complete the Red Light Special which I started back in April last year (on holiday in the camper van… sniff sniff) and which has been languishing for months complete but for the darning in of its ends.

red light special hat

Being designed for an adult head it has the advantage of entirely covering the ears of a spawn, and he seems rather to like it.

* Firstspawn informs me that this is because he told Secondspawn he looked just like Brad Pitt and Brad Pitt had been voted the sexiest man in the world and therefore Secondspawn was mollified. He also confided that he wasn’t exactly certain whether Brad Pitt had really been voted the sexiest man in the world but he thought it might be true.