Tuesday, 28 November 2017

What I Did Last Week

Got a yarn order delivered:

This is going to be for my nephew's Christmas present. 

Had a meltdown at work

My line manager couldn't understand why I was so upset; I thought it was pretty obvious.  Lesson learned is, next time, to take a deep breath and make it clear every last thing that I'm not able to do, because I've run out of time. 

Bought some beads, which may well end up in a project at some point

After going in to meltdown at work, I went along to Flying Tiger to look for some beads, after hearing on the Sockmatician podcasts that he bought some chunky beads from Flying Tiger and designed a cowl around them.  (From the look if it, I've got exactly the same beads that he has).  I've got some Rowan alpaca yarn to have a play around with, so we'll have to see what happens. 

Bought a book: 

Friday was pay day and we went for drinks after work.  I'd seen this book in John Lewis a couple of weeks ago, and wanted to get it before it disappeared from the shelves.  I was intrigued by the idea of architecture as an inspiration, and liked some of the patterns that I'd seen.  

The book wasn't where I expected and I had to ask one of the assistants for a book: "I can't remember its title; it was 'something Knitting' and was about architecture".  She didn't have a clue - but did help me find a copy, tucked away behind another book. 

Bought another book:

The Nordic knitwear designers Arne and Carlos were doing an event in Liberty of London called 'Meet the Designers'.  I arrived with twelve whole minutes to spare, feeling hot and flustered.  After I spent a couple of minutes pretending to look at the yarn in an attempt to calm down, I started chatting to them - and they were lovely.  Somebody came along and spoke Norwegian to them, which I wasn't expecting - but it is London after all, so it wasn't a massive surprise. 

I'd already seen their video explaining why their Regia Pairfect yarn is only suitable for cuff down socks (unless you want a really odd looking sock), so we had a discussion about that.  Carlos explained the theory of cuff down socks; Arne picked up that I didn't look quite convinced. 

We talked about short rows - working out the differences between the fish lips kiss heel and Japanese short rows (apparently you lift the stitch on different sides).  Carlos made a comment that they were leaving the shop to go straight to the airport - which I took as my cue to depart.  I got their book, and a ball of the cuff down Pairfect yarn, as the colours were nicer.  They had both left the shop before I'd paid.  I didn't get a photo, but they did sign the book. 

I can work out the first word is 'strikk' or some variation - but can anyone make out the rest?

Messed up the second sock in the pair:

Somehow, I've dropped a stitch, then pulled the stitches above it so tight, that there isn't a ladder to pick up the dropped stitch.  I suspect the best way to fix it, is to drop a couple more stitches each side, to get a bit of wriggle room back.  It's either that, or undo about twenty rows. 

Bought a magazine with the cutest diary:

Free with this month's issue (number 81) of Knit Now magazine.  I doubt I'll be using the diary - but that's my nephew's birthday present sorted for next year.  First, however, I need to find the pattern so I can get cracking with his Christmas present for this year.

What has your week brought you?

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Computer Systems are Down

Last weekend, Mr Knitty took me on a tour of Down Street.  This made at least one of my friends a bit envious.  For those who aren't complete geeks, Down Street is a tube station that went out of service before World War II and was then converted to be the headquarters of the Railway Executive Committee.  Staff would be in the station for three weeks at a time, so conversions included a kitchen, bathrooms and sleeping quarters.  There were no lights, so we all had to use torches.  There were points in the tour we had to stop and switch the torches off, so that they didn't distract drivers passing through the station.  Of course, I came away with design ideas.

My wristband, which I inexplicably lost somewhere between the tour and dinner. 

The outside of Down Street, as it looks now. 

A plan of the station, displayed inside.

There's a host of abandoned stations across London.(I really want to visit Brompton Road; our tour guide is holding out for King William Street).  Transport for London still own the abandoned stations, some of which are still maintained should they be needed for emergency evacuations.  (Better pictures of Down Street from other blogs are here and here

I've never been so excited to see something which isn't in the Johnston typeface. 

The telephone exchange, buried deep inside the station

The lift shaft, which I immediately recognised from pictures I've seen in blogs. 

The purple and green sparkly socks are continuing.  As I was getting bored of vanilla socks, I thought I'd stick a pattern on.  The pattern I wanted didn't quite work, so I ended up with this:

Pattern of stockingette and garter stitch stripes.
Yarn = Funny with sparkle, by Opal in colourway drollig/droll

For some reason, I'm having problems with getting a basic pattern right.  I messed it up and tinked back, only to mess it up again.  I tinked back again, only to find:

See, just above my thumb?  Knits where there should be purls - and vice versa. 

This is why vanilla socks will never go out of fashion.

A couple of months ago, I ordered yarn from some independent dyers in North America (The Yarn Jar, String Theory Colorworks and Desert Vista Dyeworks).  The yarn is luscious and I want to support small businesses.  However, I made the mistake of getting them sent to my work address, which meant that the delivery card went missing and two months later, I still don't have my yarn.  I was trying to resolve one order last Monday with Loriann from The Yarn Jar, but Etsy was throwing a wobbly.

At the same time, I was trying to buy yarn for my Christmas knitting.  Website one had what I wanted, but it had an SQL error at the till, so I couldn't pay.  Website two didn't have everything I was after, so I had to enlist the help of website three.

Two purchase problems in one evening.  Is the Internet trying to impose stash control on my behalf?  It seems the only logical solution.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

A Summary into Winter

Yeah - my aim at posting once a week has rather fallen by the wayside.  Since coming back from Iceland, I had a couple of months of horrible stress.  It's levelled out a bit - but I suspect it'll be back soon.  

  • I spent a weekend with my sister (which will be a separate post, somewhen). 
  • I had a birthday.  I hate birthdays, but even by my standards, it was hideous this year.  To add insult to injury, I didn't get a birthday cake.  
  • Mr Knitty and I spent a weekend in Salisbury; he thought I needed to be cheered up a bit - and he was right. 
  • Aunt S and I went to a recording of The Last Leg on Friday.  Apparently if you stay in the restaurant having another glass of wine, and only arrive at the studio ten minutes before the deadline, you don't actually get in to the audience.  Oops! 

  • For reasons beyond this blog - one of my colleagues has gifted me a bracelet, I'm also starting a new pair of socks.  You'll notice what they have in common. 

Meanwhile, last weekend I spent the best part of two days feeling ill.  (I'm not 100% recovered.  I did try some knitting, but it was sporadic.  It's really difficult to concentrate when you just want to be asleep. 

Whilst scrolling through Netflix, I found the National Knitting Evening broadcast in Norway in 2013.  Oh, I so want to visit Norway now.  I'm wondering if I could persuade Mr Knitty to come with me on a knitting tour of Norway for my next Big Birthday. 

During the evening, people were sharing their knits, via social media.  This was my favourite:

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Suddenly September?

Well, we had the 31 days of Aug as a warning & the 31 days of July before that. Then there were the 30 days of June, preceded by.... Well, you get the idea.

Greenwich Park
Last weekend was a bank holiday in the UK, meaning we had a three day weekend, which is as long as it took to recover from the craziness of the week before. Working in the NHS under a Tory government is as bad as the press tell you it is. It just surprises me that more people aren't making a noise about it. Mr Knitty was working Saturday & Sunday, so I was kicking around on my own for most of it. On Monday, we decided to be tourists in our own city & went to Greenwich.

Greenwich Royal Observatory, showing the time ball, which drops at 13:00 local time

First stop was the Royal Observatory, famous for the prime meridian and the Harrison clocks. I read Dava Sobel's book about the Longitude problem, many years ago, and watched the respective TV adaptation. I loved the spirit of teaching yourself and working it all out; so different from our culture of needing a certificate or qualification to prove that you know something. I was less impressed at the way the Admiralty kept changing the goalposts to stop Harrison from claiming his prize.  Coming from a Naval family, I love a that historical watchmaker had a direct impact on the working lives of my relatives. It makes my head spin, slightly.

One of the Harrison chronometers

Mr Knitty & I had a discussion about whether the clocks worked l or not. I said that they all worked, apart from the last one. He wasn't so sure.

Greenwich Royal Observatory is also home to a camera obscura, using the same scientific principles as the modern camera. It's very easy to forget that you're looking at a live picture, until something moves.

Of course, the socks had to make an appearance

Notice the people on the pathway (left hand side), who weren't in the picture above

Then, the thing that Greenwich is most famous for: the prime meridian. Any line of longitude going from North to South is a meridian, it's just that ours marks the 0 point, from which all others follow. On one side you have the East, on the other, the West.

After lunch in Greenwich park, we went to see the Cutty Sark, which I have never visited before. It's famous for being the fastest tea clipper in the world. 

The Cutty Sark - looking up
Mmmm. Tea. 

The layout inside was built to look like tea crates, and actually smelled of tea. From what I could see, it looked pretty child friendly, with stamps to collect as you go around & exhibits that you could pull out and look at. Although Cutty Sark is known as a tea clipper, I didn't realise that she brought wool back to the UK on her return journey. 

Australian merino, to be exact. 

And, what kind of wool are my current socks made of?  Merino.  Since the yarn came from New Zealand, there's a high chance it's Australian merino.  Mr Knitty rolled his eyes slightly, but it was too good an opportunity to miss! 

Yarn - Stray Cat Socks yarn, orange and purple striped. 

I think the bit downstairs, under the ship, has previously been used as a theatre space - complete with its own audience of figureheads:

Downstairs also has the cafe, with some very tasty cakes.  The only downside, was that we visited at the end of the day, by which point the cake was a bit dry, after being in the sun all day.  

Today, I mastered the Fish Lips Kiss Heel on one of the socks.  I'll wait and offer an opinion once I've used it a couple of times.  With a bit of luck, these socks will be finished this week.  Next week, I'm off to see my sister and nephew, so lots of knitting time on the train. 

Friday, 11 August 2017

So much to say.....

I'm back from Iceland and there is so much to say, I'm not sure quite how best to process it.  So, I'm going to start by listing all the places I found to buy stuff.  Put the kettle on, it's turned out longer than I expected!

A good map will tell you all you want to know
Within Reykjavik

For those outside Iceland, there's always excitement at the thought of being able to buy wool in the supermarket.  I can confirm that all the myths are true!  The only supermarket I found in Reykjavik with wool was the branch of Netto near the Saga Museum.  It had Alafosslopi, Einband (single ply), KambgarnLettlopiPlotulopi and Spuni  There were also some pattern books, although I can't remember if they were in English or Icelandic - or had a choice of either.

Netto, Reykjavik

Arguably the most famous place for wool is The Handknitting Association of Iceland which has two locations in Reykjavik.  The one I spent most time in was on Skolavordustigur.

The correct pronunciation of the street name! 

As well as the yarn available in Netto, it also had Hosuband (worsted weight sock yarn), Icelandic one ply which wasn't made by Istex and I also found a bit of two ply.  The prices were more expensive than Netto, but it had a much better range of colours for the einband.  They also had a yarn which was a blend of Icelandic wool and alpaca, which I didn't see anywhere else.  Oh - and there were all sorts of knitted goods; hats, mittens and loads and loads of sweaters!

I just loved the displays in the windows - this is at the Handknit Association of Iceland

The logo outside the building - partway between a bit of knitting and a ram

The other place I read about was Alafoss.  I think I went around in slight circles trying to find it, and then got distracted by the Christmas shop - before realising the Christmas shop is right next to the shop I was looking for!

Alafoss yarn shop on the left 
They also had Lettlopi and Alafosslopi, as well as quite a few patterns and kits to knit your own sweater (yarn and pattern all together), as well as a rack of sweaters for purchase - all of which had a label with the name of the knitter.  There is a factory outlet outside of Reykjavik, but I ran out of time to go and visit it.

Kits for sweaters can be seen on the right

On my first day, the first place I found by accident was Icewear Woolhouse.  I can't remember how much it cost per ball, but I remember it as being at the more expensive end of the scale.  They also had the Istex Lopi pattern books (like this one) in both English and Icelandic, as well as copies of Knitting with Icelandic Wool (which I decided was cheaper and lighter to buy in the UK, should I want to).

There are branches all over Reykjavik; list here.  The memo I made on my phone noted that the branch in Austurstraeti has yarns and patterns downstairs; from memory this was a better selection of patterns than some of the other branches.

The next place I found by accident was Rammagerdin - again with lots of different branches around the city.  

Cute knitted bow-ties in the Bankastræti branch
Not every branch has everything on offer.  This sells double point bamboo needles, Lettlopi and, I think, Alafosslopi.  More importantly, it also sells Einrum - the yarn which combines Icelandic wool with Thai mulberry silk, as well as hand dyed kits by Guðrún Bjarnadóttir.  Guðrún is a botanist, who dyes her yarns with plant dyes, using traditional methods.  (For those interested, there's an interview from earlier this year here, her Instagram is here and her Etsy shop is here)  The other thing I found in some of the branches, was a how-to book on how to knit your own Icelandic sweater.

The Einrum in the shop window of the Skólavörðustígur branch

Finally on the list is the Nordic Store - again with more than one branch across Reykjavik.  The main branch is on Laekjargata, which was just around the corner from where I was staying.  

Rack of wool in the main branch of the Nordic Store
Given the amount of other places I'd seen yarn - this wasn't one I investigated in any massive depth, other than to know that it sells wool and patterns.  

Picture on the Laugavegur branch of the Nordic Store. 

Woolcano is a gift shop, which doesn't sell wool.

Don't be fooled by the name - this does not sell wool! 

If you don't want to buy the yarn and knit your own - almost every other shop sells the traditional lopi.  I would suggest going in to shops and checking their comparative prices.  The Handknitting Association of Iceland had sweaters for about £120; one of the other gift shops had them for about £150.  Personally, I would suggest The Handknitting Association of Iceland, as the money goes back to the people who knit them - ditto if you buy any of the hats or gloves that they also sell.

Handknit Association - view through the window

Some of the sweaters they had on sale

There are second hand lopis for sale at the flea market; rumour has it that this is the cheapest place to buy them.  Unfortunately I didn't realise that it only opens at the weekends, so I missed visiting it, after being on a tour on Saturday and asleep for most of Sunday.  Oops!

Outside the flea market in Reykjavik
Outside Reykjavik 

Kronan in Selfoss has yarn - found after a trip to the swimming pool.

There is a branch of Icewear in Vik, which I found on the South Coast tour.  I went on the tour because I particularly wanted to see the black beach (more in a later blog).  

It has all the usual yarn and sweaters that you would expect (as well as a whole load of other outdoors-y stuff and souvenirs.

Lopis for sale in Icewear Woolhouse, Vik

Plotulopi in Icewear Woolhouse, Vik
Then I saw this:

Annoyingly, I was only there for an hour so couldn't investigate further - but is one to go back to, should I ever be in Vik again.

I spent my last night in Keflavik to be close to the airport.  En route to buying dinner from the local supermarket, I found not one - but two shops.  The first was closed - which could only be a good thing.  From an internet search, I think it's called Skartsmidjan

It is a general craft store, but peering through the windows showed a lot of yarn.  I'm not convinced that all of it is Icelandic - but it's a heck of a range available.

Inside the craft shop - lots of lovely yarn! 

The second shop was another gift shop - which was open.  All the yarn was behind the cashier's till, so I wasn't really able to do a lot of poking and squishing.  There was a decent wall-full of yarn, but I have no idea of prices.

Stapafell Gift Shop, Hafnargata 50, 230 Keflavík, Iceland
That is my round up of where I found to buy yarn in Iceland.  If you've visited the country too, where did I miss?  Not that I'm planning my next trip back there, oh no.

What I Did Last Week

Got a yarn order delivered: This is going to be for my nephew's Christmas present.  Had a meltdown at work My line manage...