Knattering on About Knitting

The other morning on the BBC morning news, they did a segment on the whole “Stitch n’ Bitch” phenomenon. There were even knitters “knitting live” having created a hat and fingerless gloves in the time they were at the news station. It’s all a part of the popularity of the whole knitting craze. This reminded me that, although I recently found out there was one in a nearby pub on the first Monday of every month, I couldn’t make it last week due to being in Blackpool. And now it looks like I’ll be out of town to miss the December meet. With luck we’ll be back from our trip to the U.S. for the holidays in time for me to make the January Stitch n’ Bitch.

Knitting has become a strangely serious hobby of mine in the past few years. It would be nice to meet and make knitting friends. If the coffee shop on my High street was actually open after 5pm during the week, I might be inclined to start my own, mid month or something. But I’m inherently lazy and the coffee shops close early.

Expat Observations

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The Stripey Blanket is Complete!

Deb finishing her stripey blanketThe random stripes blanket I started in March 2007 is finally finished today. Just to recap, I used Lion brand “Suede” yarn in seven colors: coffee, taupe, eggplant, teal, garnet, spice and olive. I then designed a pattern of random stripes and varying widths of even numbers (2, 4, 6, 8, 10). I had more skeins of the coffee and eggplant shades, so those stripes tended to be the thicker lines in the pattern. I knitted on size 9 needles, 150 stitches wide, working in a simple stockingnet stitch. I like how the stripes pattern looks on both the “right” and “wrong” sides. The final measurements a blanket with the following dimensions: 132 x 222 cm, or 52 x 87 inches, or even 4.3 x 7.25 feet, choose your preferred units of measure for your mental visualization pleasure.

Blanket on our queen sized bed for size perspectiveThis was such a delightful blanket to knit. I enjoyed having the “mini goals” of switching colors every few lines of knitting, it seemed to make a big project much more manageable. Plus, this suede yarn is so wonderful, it’s plush and soft like chenille, but lighter in weight. It drapes beautifully and is just so snuggly and nice to touch. I still have a couple loose ends to weave in and I’m contemplating sewing a suede cloth edging around the entire edge.

If you are interested in the pattern I developed, they are contained in these two spreadsheet files: Stripes Pattern part 1 and Stripes Pattern part 2 (there is a little over lap at the end and beginning of each respectively, should be self explanatory).  I found it quite handy to visualize and create the pattern by using the columns. Plus it made it easy to edit and make changes as I worked along. For example, toward the end, I was running out of taupe yarn and needed to readjust the pattern to make an acceptable exit strategy.

Now I need to start planning my next blanket, I really loved working with this yarn, I just might be tempted to use Suede yarn for my next project too.


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Chilly Autumn Day

Latest knitting project: Random Stripes BlanketMark is in Brussels this week. It’s a chilly rainy grey day. But I’m armed to the tooth in coziness anyway. I’ve got the fire going, I had a warm bowl of sweet and spicy carrot and coriander soup, I have a cup of hot chocolate in hand and have picked up my stripy blanket which has been neglected as I have been working on scarves like mad. I need to take another photo of it, I’ve come a long way since the last shot, it’s long enough to cover me from my toes to my chest laying down.

Simple pleasures

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Knitting: Austria yarn

Start of the Austria scarfYes, I know, I’ve jumped ahead in my yarn project, I have not forgotten about the yarns purchased in Madrid or Athens, I just have grander designs in mind for them. Perhaps nice cable designs. The Austria yarn is another novelty yarn that I can quickly knit a scarf out of. I will make this one before moving on to the others.

Austria was green, green, green. Even with autumn well on its way it was wonderfully green. I also had not yet bought anything even remotely green in this project of mine, so it’s perfect. It’s a ribbon of microfiber with variegated greens. I thought this would be chunky enough for larger needles, but I wasn’t happy with how it was turning out. Again, I have this cast on those favorite needles of mine, the 10.5 bamboo needles, 20 stitches cast on. I have enough of this yarn that I might attempt a matching hat!

Travel: Austria

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Knitting: Turkey Yarn

Detail of Turkey yarn scarfI started the scarf made from the Turkey yarn on Monday evening and finished it tonight. It’s one of those lovely easy novelty yarns that makes a scarf lightning fast. It’s a burgundy (or I like to think of it as “Sour Cherry Jam” red) eyelash yarn. It’s lush and luxuriously soft.

17 stitches cast on my favorite size 10.5 bamboo needles. I would have had it done sooner, but I was at work at the BMNH today.

Travel: Turkey

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Knitting: Finland Yarn Scarf

Finland yarn scarfI’m currently working on the scarf made from the fluffy white downy yarn I picked up in Finland, made in Finland. I didn’t realize how perfect the yarn was as the time, but it does embody the feelings and experience we had. It’s turning out to be my favorite scarf so far and working on it is reminding me of the wonderful Kaivolampi cabin.

Working on size 10.5 needles with 20 stitches across in a simple Garter stitch. This yarn has a texture that lends itself to a simple stitch revealing fuzzy ridges.

Travel: Finland

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Greece: Athens – Acropolis and other thoughts

Deb with the ParthenonIt’s marginally less obscenely hot today, before we leave for our flight, we needed to make it to the Acropolis and the Parthenon. No archaeologists on strike today, up we went.

The Propylaia (the main entrance) and The Parthenon are both undergoing extensive restoration work, only small portions are not surrounded by scaffolding, maybe some day we will revisit the sites once the work has been completed. A project of Perikles, the complex of temples was built starting in the 5th century B.C. The Parthenon is a temple built and dedicated to the goddess Athena and over the centuries has been utilized as a church, a mosque and even housed weapons as an arsenal through various invasions. Even with the amount of damage it has sustained, it still remains the symbol and pride of Athens.

Deb with the ParthenonWhile Mark was working in the early afternoon, I also made my pilgrimage to buy some yarn made in Greece to add to my “knitting scarves as souvenirs” project. Walking by one of the many tiny Byzantine churches, around the corner and parallel to the Ermou Street clothes shopping is a long street full of textile shops, largely bolts and bolts of fabric. I initially asked at the hotel desk where to find such a shop. I didn’t want to wander aimlessly in the oppressive heat. She asked me how many and what colors I was thinking, “when you come back, we’ll have yarn for you!” stymied I explained, “No, no! I like to go look at the yarn myself!”

I’m starting to have a back log, snowy white fluff from Finland, soft blues from Spain and now a chunky wool of ochers and terra cotta. Scarves are quick (relatively), I’ll catch up!

Byzantine Church in the middle of Ermou StreetI did have a good bit of down time in the hotel escaping from the heat and sun, but even this time was spent reading about Greek life. I brought along with me It’s All Greek To Me by John Mole. Two English ex-pats who came to living in Greece for work and then decided to buy a home there, this place where they were the happiest they’ve ever been. He takes us through all the details as he buys essentially an abandoned goat shack in the 1970’s and remodels it into a home where they have lived for the past 30 years. Interspersed through his own story he includes tidbits of Greek history, mythology, culture and language. I learned quite a bit about traditional village life, Greek life philosophy, the haggling mentality, their love of their own food and identity. And even through the changes in modern society they managed to create a piece of their own Arcadia. It was a fun read made more real and relevant as it was contextualized within my own experience.

Continue Reading »

Historic Sites & Monuments
Travel: Greece

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Knitting: Random Stripes Blanket

I started my newest blanket. I’m using Lion brand “Suede” yarn in seven colors: coffee, taupe, eggplant, teal, garnet, spice and olive. I’m making the stripes random widths and trying my best to randomize the color placements. So far, it’s gorgeous, all the colors are working together wonderfully (the photo makes the colors look a little brighter than they actually are) and it has a nice heft. I’m working on #9 needles, 150 stitches wide:

Latest knitting project: Random Stripes Blanket


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Knitting: Denmark Yarn Scarf

This is the first in my series of souvenir scarves made from yarn purchased from countries I’ve visited. This particular yarn was produced in Odense, Denmark. Usually I use two small skeins of a yarn to make one scarf, however, one skein produced a lovely summery accessory scarf with fuzzy creams and tabs of blues, I can use the other skein to make a gift:

Denmark scarf Close up of Denmark yarn/scarf

Travel: Denmark

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It’s fall, time to break out the knitting

Softest Blanket EverThe air has that autumn chill, it’s time to curl up under the blanket du jour that I’m working on.

I’m nearly finished with The Softest Blanket EVAH! (made with Wild in Russet, THE softest yarn in the universe). I started it last winter, and given warm weather and the trend to do more outside, the project was laid aside until recently. I have just over one more skein to use until completion.

Scarf in LapisHowever, in my impatience, wanting immediate knitting gratification, I broke down and purchased several neat varieties of yarns for scarves. I can crank out a scarf fairly quickly. The first is almost finished, using Curious in Lapis making a fantastically textured scarf that has been slowly depositing a light coating of extremely fine glitter coming out of the strands.

Next project yarnNext will be a chenille ‘pigtail’ yarn, Fling in Aloe, but I think I need to pick up an intermediate sized set of needles for this yarn, maybe 10’s. It’s not chunky enough for my larger needles, but there’s too much going on for 8’s that I usually use for novelty yarns as my scarf factory.


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It’s getting to fall again and I’ve picked up my knitting needles. This is a hobby I save for when the weather starts to turn and the evenings get dark early (or as the case has been this week, when I’m sick). I have a number of projects on the table for the coming months. I feel that if I’m at least knitting while vegging out watching tv or a movie, I feel my time isn’t being completely wasted.

I picked up the most unbelievable ridiculously soft yarn. The kind of ball of yarn that you just want to snuggle up to and make it a pet you don’t have to feed. I have designs to make this into a blanket, a blanket people will be fighting for on our couch it’s that kind of fuzzy soft. I went for the Russet multi-tonal, which will complement the colors in our home well. But seriously, this will be the SOFTEST BLANKET EVAH!

As always, I also have plans for a number of scarves. I’m not nearly to the point that Judith is at, where it seems she has a scarf for every outfit and occasion. But give me time, they’re easy and fast to produce. I’m using Mohair for the first time the Moonlight Mohair in Safari, for a golden and slight sparkly scarf. I just finished one with Bernat Boa in Phoenix, and am starting a gift for a friend using Disco eyelash yarn.

Mmm… fuzzy fuzzy yarn…


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Knitting: Green Checkered Blanket

Surprise, I’m utilizing the basil colored chenille yarn to create this second blanket. I decided to try a slightly more involved pattern this time. By alternating stitches in blocks of ten by twenty, this produces a checkered pattern with blocks of garter stitch and knit stitch. The blocks measuring 4 1/2″ square.

This creates a reversible pattern so it will be checkered on both sides. Other photos of this with fewer number of stitches per block makes a basket weave looking pattern. Once I have a few rows of finished blocks I will have to see if the effect is visible.

Checkered Chenille Blanket:

Size 11 needles

Cast on 94 stitches

Row 1: knit entire row
Row 2: knit entire row
Row 3: k2, *k10, p10, rep from * across row to last 2, k2
Row 4: k2, *p10, k10, rep from * across row to last 2, k2
Row 5-22: repeat alternating rows 3 and 4; creates nine blocks of 10×20 stitches
Row 23: knit entire row
Row 24: knit entire row
Row 25: k2, *p10, k10, rep from * across row to last 2, k2
Row 26: k2, *k10, p10, rep from * across row to last 2, k2
Row 27-44: repeat alternating rows 25 and 26; creates nine blocks of 10×20 stitches with alternating opposite patterns of the first row of nine blocks.

Repeat Rows 1-44 for checkered pattern for desired length. Finish end with two rows of knit stitch.

Originally I thought stitching 10 x 10 blocks would create equal squares. But as it turns out with these large needles and thick yarn, 10 stitches across and 20 rows of stitches creates the large square block I was looking for.

I recently ordered a neat resource book for knitting stitches: The New Knitting Stitch Library. It’s an illustrated encyclopedia-like guide to over 300 types of stitching patterns, something I should have picked up from the beginning and certainly would have be handy before starting this current project.


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Knitting: terra cotta throw

It’s finished! I’ve completed my first knitted blanket!

Eight skeins of yarn later it measures 38″ x 64 1/2″. I almost didn’t have enough yarn to finish. I ended up snipping off of the 8 inch lengths left to weave into the blanket from where a new skein was added in order to have enough yarn to finish.


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knitting: terra cotta throw

(photo soon to follow)


8 skeins terra cotta thick and quick chenille yarn, size 10 needles.

Project pattern:

Cast on 84 stitches loosely.
knit four rows, purl one row (first and last two stitches knit, p row= k 2, p 80, k 2).
Continue this 4:1 repeating pattern, end on the WS with four knit rows, bind off loosely for a ribbed pattern thick chenille throw.

This has been an interesting and addictive project. It is gratifying to be making something and watch it slowly fill your lap as it grows into its function. I kept losing track of what row of stitches I was on. This proved to be a valuable learning experience as I learned to recognize what differing stitches look like up against each other. If I lost my place because I had stopped working on it for a few days, I could easily tell by examining the previous rows of stitches where I had left off.

I must knit more tightly than others. The pattern I’m following originally called for 6 skeins of yarn to make a decent sized throw, once I reached 4 skeins and it was not even enough to cover my lap, I decided to add a couple more skeins to have the size of throw I have in mind. I’m already thinking about the next blanket I’m going to knit, I need to remember to just move to larger gauge needles when working with my favorite yarn, chenille.


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knitting: black fuzzy scarf


2 skeins black Fun Fur, size 8 needles.

Project pattern:

Cast on 22 stitches, knit every row (garter stitch). Length: 54″ (loosely stretched out).

Although the Fun Fur was a little tricky at first when I used it as an accent yarn on the ends of the black chenille scarf. It looked so cute I decided I need to make a fluffy scarf out of it. It has a little bit of stretch to it and is quite warm with its fuzzy insulating thickness.


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knitting: black scarf

Black chenille yarn–1 1/2 skeins and Black Fun Fur, size 11 and 8 knitting needles

Project Pattern:
20 stitches, stitch in knit with size 8 knitting needles enough rows of Fun Fur for 2-3″ of fluffy ends. Attach chenille yarn, continue with size 11 knitting needles 20 stitches, alternating rows of knit and purl. End with Fun Fur to finish other fuzzy end.
Finished scarf 55 inches long.

The Fun Fur is a little tricky to work with, but looks fabulous as an accent on the ends.


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