Day 23


I can’t say that I had ever seen anyone use PVC pipes as percussion before the Blue Man Group. I was introduced to them during a kids program that my son was watching a few years ago in which each episode showcased 3 pieces of music usually centred on a theme – pets, ‘cheer me up’, that sort of thing, and today’s song was one of these showcased pieces. I can’t find the video they used but this one is pretty close. Blue Man Group don’t just use a single length of pipe but use several to vary the tone they produce and it’s fantastic.

Sweater Update! The body is finished!!! As soon as I’m finished with this post I will be starting a sleeve.

driftwood-finished body

Revisiting the yarn I used on days 5 and 7 – Austermann’s Step in ‘Beere’ –  I added a mostly pink rectangle to the blanket.


Day 21


Soooooooo, I was going to do a post about weaving in ends wasn’t I? Turns out, I don’t need to because Purl Bee has done an excellent tutorial so here’s a link to hers instead. Laura covers the usual sewing in techniques for garter stitch and stocking stitch but goes further with directional sewing in as well as others. Even if you are confident with your finishing techniques already, I recommend reading it. There way be something new for you.

driftwood3Sweater update! The body is almost done! 2 – 3 more stripes alternating dark green and white. And yes, I know. The button bands and collar are normally done last but I found the flapping sections to  be annoying so I did it early. I’m still enjoying knitting this and am looking forward to doing the arms. Isn’t it strange how the simple act of changing colours can take the boredom out of working so many rounds of plain knitting?

Tonight I’m introducing you to Ella Fitzgerald singing music by George and Ira Gershwin. You can thank me later. This is taken from the live recording of her 40th Birthday Concert in Rome that I’ve mentioned before. Originally, this song, ‘I Love You, Porgy’, was written for the musical ‘Porgy and Bess’. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve heard. Ella Fitzgerald is arguably one of the greatest voices ever and while her range and vocal creativity are not displayed fully in this song, it demonstrates the elegance of her voice, the depth of tone she is capable of and the fullness of every note she produces. Her voice ebbs and flows so smoothly through every note and every word with a gentle fierceness for her narrative. A very nearly flawless performance.

More Austermann Step added to the blanket today in the colour ‘Tricolette’. A rectangle added ready for the large square that is planned for tomorrow.

day 21

Day 19


Ah, Nina Simone. SkyArts 2 again. They’re broadcasting the footage of her last ever recorded concert, performed in 1990 at Paris’s Olympia. I infinitely prefer to listen to both her and Ella Fitzgerald live (Ella’s 40th Birthday Concert in Rome is brilliance).

Such honest music. An imperfect and magnificent voice. Watching her connect emotionally with her music is something wonderful and we miss out on it in so much of our music today. Only 5 instruments to accompany her. It’s enthralling and beautiful and wonderful.

No sign of ‘Pirate Jenny’ though and it’s macabre but I love that song.

Another simple square today. Another colour of Austermann’s Step sock yarn. Today it’s colour #3 – “Grass”. Not entirely sure why there’s a reddish pink splashed through the green though… Anyway, day 19.

day 19

J suggested I do a post about sewing in ends which is a great idea, so that’s my plan for tomorrow. I have a knitting group in he afternoon and I ave some uni coursework I *really* need to do so it might not be done until Friday. But as always, please make any requests/suggestions in your comments.



Day 17


My Travelling Companion is Off The Needles!!!!! Insert a happy dance here, to the tune of ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon.

travellingcompanion-cast off

Things I changed and why:

* The rainbow section is about twice the length as the pattern calls for. I had half a ball of this yarn (KnitPicks ‘Chroma’ in Lolipop, if you’re curious) and wanted to use it all and knew that it wouldn’t complement the lace section. (Why wouldn’t it work with the lace pattern? Visually the rainbow yarn is ‘busy’. Lace is busy with texture and pattern. I chose to let the lace stand on its own merits in a solid colour).

* The second large section of black eyelet pattern is meant to be twice that width. I had already added rows in the stocking stitch section and didn’t want the black to overwhelm the rainbow colours but did need it to make them stand out.

* The purple lace section should also be twice this width. This was kept short only because I was running out of yarn. I do have more but it’s in the loft and I wanted to be finish the shawl tonight. I am exceedingly impatient. Also, I like it how it is. The rainbow section remains the feature this way.

What happens next?

Next I will wash it. I have a small bottle Eucalan leave in wool wash that has been with our laundry detergents for more than a year now. Time I used it. I’ll roll it in a towel to remove as much water as possible before I pin it into shape on foam mats where it will stay until dry.

The Verdict?

I am really pleased with this shawl and despite my changes, I really like the pattern. In fact, one of the reasons I like the pattern so much is *because* of its adaptibility. I used 3 different types of 4-ply yarn in this project – KnitPicks ‘Chroma’ which is only one strand of wool/acrylic, Austermann ‘Step Classic’ in black, and ‘Coton Fifty’ by Bergere de France in purple. I usually try to match yarn textures in my knitting but these have worked together really well.

Day 17’s blanket piece is a square, knitted in Step, colour #51 ‘Tricollete’. The pattern is on Day 1. Picking up the stitches on the triangle is a little different to what we usually do.

Because of the way the triangle is constructed you will have to pick up stitches between the bumps on the edge like normal but you will also need to pick stitches up through the bumps.


From the point of the triangle, I counted 7 edge bumps down then picked up my first stitch in the 8th bump. From there I alternated picking up stitches  between the bumps and in the bumps until I had 15 ad had reached the corner where pieces 14, 15, and 16 meet. From there you pick up stitches as usual – 1 stitch in the corner, 15 stitches between the bumps as far as the middle of the rectangle (where you cast off).

Don’t worry if that makes no sense. I’m preparing a photo tutorial for how I pick up stitches in this project to post tomorrow.

Now follow the pattern on Day 1 from row 1.

FYI – I’m reeeeeally tired. as in, falling asleep mid-word. So I’m not entirely sure this all makes sense. I will check it when I wake up…

Day 15


Today’s knitting is accompanied by Triple M radio in Sydney and their Almost Acoustic Sunday. Gotta love online radio streaming. I miss Triple M since coming to the UK.

Today, using the green version of the pink Austermann Step I used on Day 7, I tackled the triangle and I am pleased to report that the technique I used for the angled side of the trapezoid works for the triangle.

So, working left to right across the angled sides of the 2 trapezoids we’ve already made, pick up 15sts on Day 13’s shape +1sts between the 2 shapes +15sts from Day 14’s shape. You’ll have the standard 31sts on your needles.

Your decreases are made 1 stitch in from the edge on both ends of the right side row.

Row 1 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k25, k2tog, k1 – 29sts

Row 2 and all even numbered rows – k

Row3 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k23, k2tog, k1 – 27sts

Row 5 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k21, k2tog, k1 – 25sts

Row 7 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k19, k2tog, k1 – 23sts

Row 9 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k17, k2tog, k1 – 21sts

Row 11 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k15, k2tog, k1 – 19sts

Row 13 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k13, k2tog, k1 – 17sts

Row 15 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k11, k2tog, k1 – 15sts

Row 17 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k9, k2tog, k1 – 13sts

Row 19 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k7, k2tog, k1 – 11sts

Row 21 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k5, k2tog, k1 – 9sts

Row 23 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k3, k2tog, k1 – 7sts

Row 25 – k1, sl1, k1, psso, k1, k2tog, k1 – 5sts

Row 27 – k1, sl2tog, k1, psso, k1 – 3sts

Row 29 – sl2tog, k1, psso – 1st. Break yarn and pull through your stitch.

There you go Stuart, a triangle! (I was asked for a triangle earlier this week).

day15In the photo, you can see that I have pinned the piece out. You can also see that between some of the pins, the fabric is bowed. in the final item this can be taken care of with blocking (more on that in a later post). But right now let me explain.

I’m knitting with the same weight yarn (4ply sock yarn) for each of these shapes, on the same size needles (3.25mm), using the same techniques, stitches and dimensions. do you remember that I said in an earlier post how just because several yarns say they are all 4ply, some are thicker than others?  That’s one part of it – because a thicker yarn fills the stitch space more fully. Another part is that whether the knitter is tense or relaxed effects how tightly they knit. A chilled out knitter is more likely to knit loosely than a knitter who is contemplating stabbing you with her needles despite the blood it will get on her yarn (and believe me, in that moment, the potential damage to the yarn is the only thing saving you :p). There are other factors involved but those are the two most likely to make a difference in this project.

Hey Charlotte, did you make your husband go into the loft today?

I didn’t actually, but he remembered and went without me nagging. He’s clever like that. So along with 7 or 8 other projects, I now have the project I’ve been  wanting to work on for a week. It’s a lace shawl made with yarn that’s about as thick as a couple of strands of sewing thread (for the curious, the yarn is JaggerSpun Zephyr – a wool-silk blend, lace weight yarn in the colour ‘Peacock’).

Anyway, the pattern is called ‘Aspen Grove‘ and has been designed by Miriam Felton to look like, well, like a grove of trees. I’m about half way down the tree trunks and haven’t had the focus to work on this for more than a year.

aspen grove


Lace work needs a lot of attention – counting stitches and working out if you’ve put the yarn overs and k2tog’s in the right place. Anyway, I haven’t been in the right fame of mind for that until now so I wanted to strike while the proverbial iron was hot.

Yes, it is entirely normal for me to be working on his many projects at he same time.


Day 14


Sweater update for you all : I wasn’t happy with the jogless joins I had done on the sweater stripes yesterday so I frogged 2 stripes (12 rounds) back to where it wasn’t bothering me. I finished redoing them today and added another stripe of colour but now I’m not happy with the way I’ve carried the yarn between stripes of colour. It’s possible I’m just being extra fussy. So I’ve put it down for the moment and got the rainbow shawl out again. When you want to take the scissors to a project in a negative way, it’s time to put it aside for the night and start again on it tomorrow.

To be honest, I want to be working on an older unfinished project but my bag of unfinished projects (yes, i have a bag full) had to be moved into our loft. It’s not conveniently located and the husband has to be sent on an expedition to find it.

Which he will be doing tomorrow 😉

I did my meditation knitting in the early morning quiet today but I do have some music to share with you.

The Ukulele is generally not considered a particularly serious instrument, a bit like the recorder, that anyone can pick it up and make a somewhat tuneful noise, as evidenced by both being readily available cheaply in toy stores. I achieved my Fourth Grade music certificate in the Recorder. It sounds much nicer when it a) isn’t played with your nose, and b) it is used to play more classical music than you were given in school and there is a lot written specifically for the Recorder, including a part in one of the Brandenburg Concerto’s! The Ukulele is the same – give someone with the knowledge of how to play it some good music and you get something nice. Give it to someone creative and you get something awesome.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain do that something awesome – many of which are covers of popular music. Not just interesting ukulele playing but some fantastic vocals too. You should look them up. They’re pretty easy to find on the web, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. They’ve covered ‘Teenage Dirtbag’, ‘Pinball Wizard’, the theme from ‘Shaft’, and ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ among many others but my favourite is their version of David Bowie’s ‘Life on Mars’ but it’s more than that. How many of the duet songs can you name? (and don’t just read the comments to find out!)

Today’s square was actually another trapezoid. Tomorrow I shall attempt to square the tops of the two trapezoids off with a triangle.

The yarn is the same as day 8 (Austermann’s Step in ‘Fuchsia’), the pattern is the same as yesterday but instead of picking up the last 16 sts, you cast them on. Continue on as written.

day14Tomorrow I will square the angled sides of the trapezoids with a triangle. At least, that’s my plan.

Day 10


It’s a Bank Holiday here in the UK so I am enjoying All The Movies! As I knit my square I shall be watching ‘The Magic Roundabout’ movie.

I am knitting with Austermann Step’s ‘Fresh & Easy’ range in colour #160 – Turquoise and after picking up 31 stitches you will follow Day 4’s pattern.


I will be working from the middle of yesterdays rectangle and across the remaining stitches of day 5’s square. Find the stitch you cast off with in the middle of your rectangle, pick up the stitch next to it and the following 14sts, pick up 1 in the corner where the 2 shapes meet, then 15 stitches up the side of the large square. Do not pick up the cast off stitch.

Follow day 4 from there.

day 10

I am planning to write about a few important topics for knitters this month – ‘Ballbands and why you should read them’, ‘Blocking – what is it and how is it done?’, ‘Swatching – but it’s so booooooring!’, and ‘Circular Needles – not just for knitting in circles’. These topics need samples and photos and some research so they aren’t ready yet.

I will also share my rant about why we need a single unit of measurement for knitting needles and yarn-weights but being a rant, it’s a little incomprehensible at this point so I shall refine it until it has at least a veneer of coherency but the bare bones are this – the world is shrinking courtesy of the internet – has 4 million members who knit, crochet, spin and weave. Could we please choose one unit to measure the size of the needles and yarns we use? Come to think of it, a standard format for patterns would be nice too.

Actually that’s about it for the rant…. Some places have assigned a number system without any measurement unit which, for me at least, is just annoying. Friends have also had experience of needles all labelled ‘4’ actually being different diameters. Other places use the metric millimetre to measure diameter. Doing this means your needle either is or isn’t correct and it’s much easier to make this determination.

As for the yarn-weights – there are many names for the weights between countries. For example, yarn that is labelled DK in the UK is light worsted in the US and 8-ply in Australia. 4-ply in Australia and the UK is called fingering-weight in the US (though no one has been able to explain that to me…). And yarn in a given category can be thicker or thinner compared to another within the same category. Measuring yarn in wraps per inch would be more accurate. However being sure that the yarns are being measured at the same tension presents a new set of problems.

Given all of that, if you are trying to substitute a yarn, try to get a similar yarn content between what you want to use or have available to you, and what the pattern suggests. Next you want to compare yarn length (aka yardage or meterage) to the weight. So if the yarn suggested for your pattern is a 100g ball with 400m, you want to get something similar. A 50g ball with 300m will be too thin. 100g with 200m will be too thick. This information is all on the ballband. I will cover how to find all of that on said ballband tomorrow so stay tuned 🙂


Day 9


We were rockin’ out to Bach again today. Started with ‘Concerto for Harpsichord, Strings and Continuo No. 5 in F Minor’ before more Brandenburg Concerto’s. Very much enjoying this collection.

Today I used the Vulcan coloured Step by Austermann that I mentioned yesterday to make another rectangle. For this rectangle, only 1 side was cast on, but 3 sides were picked up.

I cast on 16 stitches, picked up 15sts along the righthand side  of day 8’s square, 1st between that square and day 6’s rectangle which it’s joined to, 15sts along the edge of that rectangle, 1st in the tip of day 4’s square and 15 along the  side of day 5’s big square. those 15sts should put you 16sts from the cast off tip. So, you have cast on or picked up : 16sts + 15sts + 1st + 15sts + 1st + 15sts = 63sts on your needle.

Now you will repeat the rest of the pattern from  day 6, which is helpfully reprinted here for you.

Row 1: k14, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k29, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k14 – 59sts
Row 2: k across
Row 3: k13, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k27, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k13 – 55sts
Row 4: k across
Row 5: k12, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k25, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k12 – 51sts
Row 6: k across
Row 7: k11, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k23, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k11 – 47sts
Row 8: k across
Row 9: k10, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k21, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k10 – 43sts
Row 10: k across
Row 11: k9, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k19, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k9 – 39sts
Row 12: k across
Row 13: k8, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k17, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k8 – 35sts
Row 14: k across
Row 15: k7, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k15, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k7 – 31sts
Row 16: k across
Row 17: k6, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k13, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k6 – 27sts
Row 18: k across
Row 19: k5, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k11, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k5 – 23sts
Row 20: k across
Row 21: k4, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k9, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k4 – 19sts
Row 22: k across
Row 23: k3, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k7, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k3 – 15sts
Row 24: k across
Row 25: k2, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k5, (sl2 tog, k1, psso), k2 – 11sts
Row 26: k across
Row 27: k1, (sl1, k1, psso) x2, k1, (k2tog) x2, k1 – 9sts
Row 28: k2tog, sl1, k2tog, psso, (sl1, k1, psso) – 3sts
Row 29: sl1, k2tog, psso. Break yarn and pull through the stitch.

day 9

You can see in the picture how a yarn dyed to produce definite stripes looks compared to the other types of striped and patterned yarns discussed yesterday.


Day 8


Not sure what to write about today so I’ll just start with telling you that I returned to Bach today but instead of the Brandenburg concerto’s I listened to Concerto for 2 Harpsichords, Strings and Continuo No.5 in C minor’. Then I went on to Handel’s ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’

I’m using another Austermann yarn (I have a lot in my stash). This one is a self-patterning yarn designed to imitate a fair isle pattern. The colourway is #48, called ‘Fuchsia’.

I added the square between the square from yesterday (day 7) and the rectangle from day 6 to complete a third large square.

day 8 - detail

Detail of picked up stitches – brown fabric is from day 7, pink from day 6. You can see stitches 12-14 above the brown fabric, the central stitches for decrease start with stitch 15 where days 6 and 7 join, stitch 16 is in the last decrease from day 6. Stitches 17 to 31 are in the pink fabric of day 6.

day 8

What’s the difference between self-patterning and self-striping yarn Charlotte?

Self-striping is simpler than self-patterning in its use of colour. Self-striping yarn is just that, it has been dyed to produce stripes of colour. Self-patterning yarn often requires a computer to determine the length of yarn that will be dyed in each colour to make a more complex pattern. You’ve seen examples of both in my blanket. The Regia Brasil yarn from day 5 was dyed to produce regular sections of alternating colour and pattern, as well as the yarn used from day 3 by Opal (picture below). The Step yarn from day 6 was dyed to produce graduating stripes of pink. There are other self-striping yarns that have no patterned sections and are dyed to produce definite stripes such as this Step yarn in ‘Vulcan’ which I am thinking of using tomorrow.


One pattern repeat of the yarn used on day 3 – Opal sock yarn in Sweet and Spicy colourway Plum


Example of the entirety of the Step sock yarn used on day 6 in Holiday Color #194 – Pink

vulcan sock-cropped

Vulcan colourway of Step sock yarn – definite plain stripes in grey, red and black

In the pictures above you can see how different the fabric produced looks when it is done in stocking stitch rather than in garter stitch.

Sock yarn is versatile and can also be used for shawls. When a yarn and pattern are chosen carefully to compliment each other, even simple mitred squares can produce something spectacular.


My favourite shawl made from 3 balls of Schoppel-Wolle’s Zauberball (1200m of yarn!!!). It is tremendously difficult to leave any yarn-related event with it.

Day 7


Well look at that! One whole week of posts! *happy dance*

I originally wrote this entry, by hand, while in the cafe of the local Waterstone’s bookstore. I had intended to post it from my tablet or my phone but my tablet’s battery was very nearly flat and my phone has suddenly been possessed by Evil so, yeah, by hand (I have orange ink in my Lamy fountain pen. I love writing!). Also, it’s nearly 6 hours since it was written but the weather is still lovely, my stress headache can’t decide if it wants to stay, and my psychologist was pleased that I have taken up yoga and that I have begun some mindfulness meditation, particularly because that is the direction my therapy is going in so yay me! 🙂

I did my meditation knitting early today, while hubby was walking the dogs and the house was quiet. I filled some of that quiet with Holst’s Planets again. Unsurprisingly, ‘Venus, bringer of peace’ is my current favourite. Though in the past, the Empire-March-to-be aka ‘Mars, the bringer of War’ has been my favourite.

Today’s square was placed against the lower edge of yesterdays rectangle and used the same ball of yarn as on day 4 – Austermann’s Step in Berry. I used the joining and knitting pattern from day 3.


Hey Charlotte! Why aren’t you varying your stitch patterns?

Firstly, I consciously use this project as a meditation tool. Plain knit stitch is soothing and uncomplicated. Beyond that, I need only to know how to pick up stitches, how to decrease and how to count to 31.

Secondly, I don’t want it to be stressful or protracted. Lace or cables or even purl stitch require more attention than I want to give this project. It needs to be simple and repetitive so that I can focus properly on each stitch, each breath, rather than on what I will need to do next to maintain a stitch pattern. (Yes, I know that I have to pay attention to when to do the decrease but after the first square, the work shows you where the decreases need to be placed ).

Thirdly, different stitches and stitch patterns fill space differently. These knitted pieces are both 20 stitches wide and 20 rows tall. One is bumpy, rectangular and flat. The other is smooth, mostly square and desperate to curl in on itself. The first is “garter stitch” (knit stitch only for every  row), the second is “stocking stitch” (knit stitch for one row, purl stitch for the next with these two rows forming the pattern).

g-st vs st-st

You can see that without any shaping, the garter stitch piece is shorter than the stocking stitch piece. It is also already flat.

Why is this?

The garter stitch piece is shorter because it is corrugated or crinkled meaning that part of each stitch is lost below another as compared to the stocking stitch in which all of each stitch is side by side in all directions.

But why is it flat?

Well, if you ask the internet why your stocking stitch curls, many websites will simply state that it does and offer no further comment. Some websites assert that it is because the purl stitch is longer than the knit stitch. I agree that it is structural but not in the way they are describing. If you look at other things that are crinkled or corrugated versus the same material left flat – potato crisps for example – the straight cut crisps curl far more than the crinkle cut crisps. So what do I think causes the curling? If you corrugate a piece of paper by giving it concertina folds [note to self: put pics in for this bit] it’s much harder to bend to make the sides touch than it is to do with an unfolded piece of paper. The folds give the paper density and rigidity. I have always considered that garter stitch is the knitting equivalent of this.

folded concertina

Anyway, you can see that if I do change the stitch pattern the squares won’t so easily or simply fit together.

Lastly of course, is that this is what I want to knit and it’s my blanket so :p 😉