Sunday, 31 January 2010

Knitwits Yarns

Any of you who have been reading this for a while will know that I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I love hearing from customers, I really love receiving your orders and I love the instant communications we can now have all round the world. I really, really, really hate it when your computer suddenly, with no prior warning stops doing all the things it has been and refuses to play ball. Why does that happen? Is there a little gremlin in there who suddenly thinks "ha - they've been having it too cushy for a while, let's mix things up a bit" - and the gremlin does and the computer stops.

Well, that's what happened to me on Thursday afternoon. Sitting in the shop, updating stock and writing a blog entry, went to publish the post and "bingo" nothing happened. Couldn't publish the post, couldn't access emails, couldn't go on the web. Absolutely dead as a dodo. So I turned the blasted thing off and went home and prayed it would sort itself out on Friday morning. It didn't. I work from home on Fridays (the dreaded paperwork) so Tracey was in. Nothing from the computer - nien, nada, nothing.

Went in yesterday - long conversation with a very nice and helpful man in Calcutta who clearly recognised a technological dimwit when he heard one as he started by saying "click the start key - that's the one at the bottom left hand corner of the screen" - I knew immediately I had a good man on the end of the phone. He then went through some whizzy system which enabled him to control my computer from Calcutta (it's nice and warm in Calcutta at the moment, by the way) - which was very weird - watching my mouse moving remotely around the screen entering numbers and clicking on things - very weird indeed. Anyhoo - miracle of miracles - he fixed it! If he wasn't so damned far away I'd have given him a kiss.

So ladies and gentlemen - I give you the much delayed blog entry for Thursday:

So - I finished the Colinette Tagliatelle jumper, which I love and will wear to a dinner party on Sunday night and will take photos for you to see. So - there's always the question of what to knit next, isn't there?

I've been eyeing up this:

which is, basically, a rectangle but is (according to Tracey) very "me". I also like this:

and, indeed, this:

But then - in the spirit of the new houseproud, tidying, finishing jobs me - I remembered The Cornish Gansey (TCG). TCG was one of those impromptu, bargain Car Boot buys - £5.00 for 11 balls of pure wool 5ply in bright red. Needless to say the previous owner of the 11 balls had started one, knitted about a third of it and called the whole project off. I bought the wool, bought Mary Wright's definitive book on knitting Cornish Ganseys, bought the frighteningly miniscule needles and cracked on - and really did quite well:

As you can clearly see, I've knitted both the front and back, joined up the shoulder seams and knitted the neck and have started one sleeve. I do remember getting in a real pickle at the top of the first sleeve as it's knitted in the round and I had far too many stitches for my needles and the stitches kept dropping off the ends so I had corks on the ends and it all got horribly messy. But - as can be clearly seen here:

(take note of optional sleeve detail I added in myself) the stitches are on a circular needle (which I have no recollection of buying) so, what on earth stopped me from continuing? At the bottom of the bag lay the answer - the Estate Agent's details for this shop! Whilst battling with the top of the sleeve I was buying the shop and, therefore, knitting samples for the window (wool shops don't come ready stocked with knitted samples, you know) became the priority.

I also have a great memory of Mary Wright (author of the definitive book) - who should really be Lady Mary of the Cornish Gansey (in my humble opinion) - coming into the shop and I was talking to her about my stitch/needle problem and she said "well you don't have to have the stitches on 4 needles - put them on 8" - as Homer would say "Doh".

So, I re-started the Gansey last night and immediately remembered why I'd stopped knitting it (apart from the shop samples issue) - I have 111 stitches and the circular is a nightmare - the stitches are so tight that I can only knit about 15 and then the plastic bit of the circular pokes through between 2 stitches and I then have to shove it through the next few stitches and then knit them and shove it through again - and so it went on last night and I knitted about 8 rows, which on 2.25mm needles (old money 13 and US 13) is not very much of a sleeve.

So I'm now back at Lady Mary's 8 (or more) dpn theory - but where to find 2.25 dpn's? My supplier doesn't sell them and I own a wool shop for heaven's sake. In the shower this morning (anyone else get inspiration in the shower?) it dawned on me - Naomi's needles. Do you remember darling Naomi who designed these:

for Cornish Organic Wool? Well, when she died, her lovely family gave me all her needles. Naomi's bound to have 2.25's I thought - she was always knitting gorgeous lovely little things - and, lo, it was so and I now have 12 dpn's of the right size (4 of them bamboo). So tonight the 111 stitches will be transferred to about 8 needles or so and I'll see if progress is any quicker.

The only remaining problem to overcome then is the "line" that I always get when knitting on dpn's when you go from one needle to the next. The trick, I know, is to pull the yarn tighter but - good grief - these are pretty tiny, tight stitches anyway. Naomi's advice to me on this one is to slip the first stitch of every needle onto the needle you're knitting on and, that way, the "line" is always moving - I'll let you know! Maybe the stitches are so tight it'll be all right - let's see.

I rather suspect TCG is going to be the project for the entire summer, which is OK and will mean I can wear it next winter but I was also planning to design a hot water bottle cover (or two) in Cornish Organic ....................... so much knitting, so little time.

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