Sunday, 19 April 2009

Yarn on a Budget

I ventured out to the shops yesterday, thinking I might splurge on a little yarn for Knitty's Hanne. I needed 3 skeins of something colourful and variegated and three of something soft and plain, probably a grey alpaca.

I couldn't face trekking all the way into town to John Lewis and thought I might find something more unusual over at Loop in Islington. And I have to confess I was hopelessly disappointed.

For a start they had very little that wasn't in a solid colour. Only sock yarn and some gorgeous handpainted stuff that was £14.99 (!!!@$$$%£$$!!!!) a skein.

I know it's a boutique shop, but I was surprised at how little 'regular' yarn they stock anymore. A few Rowan, a few Debbie Bliss and that's it. Everything else was high-end, luxury fibre - hardly credit-crunch friendly. The prize went to some very beautiful cashmere that was £32 a skein, and which filled two whole shelves.

The pattern calls for Rowan Tapestry, and I had thought of subbing some Freedom Spirit as it's even cheaper. I didn't really expect Loop to stock either of these but I thought they might have something more original and I would have splashed out if I could have found 100 yds for less than ten quid. 

Anyway, I don't mean to moan and it's hardly their fault if I can't afford most of what they stock. But even if I'd had fistfuls of cash with me, there was very little that would have actually worked for that pattern anyway. It's a few months since I was last in there and I'm sure I remember them having a few more 'normal' brands in there. Ah well, guess from now on I'll be making the trip to Oxford Street after all. But it does rather highlight the problem with supporting a LYS.  It's all very well if you can actually use them but, even aside from the price, if you're after sweater yarns, shops like that aren't always very helpful.

On the bright side I think I've finally worked out what to do with the huge amount of Jamieson's aran I still have lying around, leftover from my brother's seamless hybrid - Heroine. Yes I know it's April. And sunny. And warm. And that a thick felted military jacket isn't really the most practical thing to be considering. But - no really, hear me out - at least if I knit it now it should be finished for when the weather turns again in the Autumn. And if last year is anything to go by, it might prove useful in July, you never know...

Saturday, 11 April 2009

I Caved

Well I finally gave in.  Surrendered.  Followed the herd.  I held out as long as I could but there comes a point where you have to acknowledge the truth.

I'm knitting a Clapotis.

Yes, the ubiquitous scarf has finally found its way into my life.  I'm probably the only knitter who hasn't made one yet, so it was inevitable really.  Of course there's nothing really wrong with this.. The fact is that patterns only become that popular when they're good and Clapotis is undoubtedly a good pattern.  It's complicated enough to hold the interest but blessed with a simple repeat that's easy to memorise.  It looks good in almost any yarn and any size.  More interesting than a regular scarf but infinitely simpler than the lacework shawls that are everywhere.

A few months ago I succumbed to an impulse buy in John Lewis for some Mirasol yarn.  A merino wool and silk blend from Peru it drapes beautifully, has a lovely sheen and is a great shade of royal blue.  A Clapotis seemed the obvious home for it.

As I only have 2 skeins, it's much narrower than the original pattern, I just did two sets of the increase rows, but I'm pleased with how it's turning out so far:

So, not the most original project; more of a classic.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

The Trouble with Cotton

Episode Two of the Electric Sheep podcast is now up, Knit & Be Damned. Please pop over and have a listen, I'd love to know what you think.

Meanwhile, knitting continues apace over in Hoxton, although nothing drastically exciting to report. I'm still working away on the minimalist cardigan and doing miles and miles of seed stitch. It's looking pretty good but doesn't really make for an exciting photo.

But perhaps you lovely knitterly folk can help with another problem instead. I have a stash of Ddebbie Bliss Cotton DK, in a lovely dark shade of turquoise, and I simply do not know what the hell to do with it. You see, I hate cotton. It's stiff and cumbersome to knit with, it weighs a ton, any garment ends up stretching down to your ankles. I also have some Rowan Bamboo Tape which, although nicer to knit with, suffers from many of the same issues. A fellow Hoxton knitter made the excellent suggestion of a Clapotis, which I think might work for that. But the DK would be much to heavy for that. So, what to do? I've had a look through Ravelry but nothing has grabbed me so far. What am I missing? Answers on a postcard please...

Debbie Bliss Cotton DK
84m/50g (I have 400g)
Gauge: 4mm needles 20sts/28rows

But for now, the sun is shining, the birds are singing (and a helicopter keeps flying over my house but I'm ignoring this intrusion on my pastoral idyll) and I think it's time to head outside. Spring is indeed sprung. Although putting away my cosy, heavier jumpers always makes me a little sad....