Day 66


Fourteen years ago today I married my best friend and soulmate, and yes, today’s music choice is dedicated to my husband (again). It was tricky to choose a song but I fell back on ‘The Sound of Music’ for the perfect solution of movie and music star (Julie Andrews is incredible!). Did you know that this scene was filmed in shadow because both Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer had the giggles while filming?

selfie 30June2014Today is also the day I debut my new hair. I was going to wait until tomorrow to put the  turquoise over the section we bleached yesterday but I am an impatient sort. It looks pretty awesome regardless and I kinda love how it turned out.

The colour is actually more turquoise than green. I did warn you all at the beginning about my awful photo skills.

To get that look, I divided my hair into 2 roughly equal halves diagonally along the top  of my head from hairline to the back of the crown then straight down to my neck. We applied the bleach to the part that had less on show, then applied the dark colour and washed them out at the same time. I used a really cheap shampoo before and after the dye/bleach. I left my hair to rest for about 18 hours before I applied the Manic Panic ‘Atomic Turquoise’ to the bleached section and left it to develop for about 3 hours. I didn’t use any shampoo when i washed it out but i did use a coloured hair friendly conditioner. my hair is soft and shiny and pretty 😉

It’s a bit of a paradox that when I dye my hair, it’s much softer and better conditioned than when I don’t.

I used my favourite colourway today fro the large square – Opal’s ‘Sweet and Spicy Plum’.

day 66


Day 41


Well, that was less painful than we were expecting but I have never met a person more two-faced to play at office politics in my life! I am thoroughly disgusted that such a person is entrusted with the overseeing of the welfare of others. But they should be out of our lives after 18 protracted months of torment and institutional hell. Not really sure how I feel yet. I foresee a very emotionally rocky few days.

I managed to keep my temper and demonstrate that I am in fact a rational being but only because I knitted for every moment leading up to the meeting then spent the meeting writing out a pattern for a shawl I’m designing. That’s not to say I wasn’t paying attention but by doing something else meant that I didn’t take on board all the  awful things being said. It helped me keep calm. Yay for the meditative quality of knitting and creating.

base 8 - 1

I didn’t put any work into the sweater today. I felt very strongly that I should work on my own design today but I expect to finish the body of the sweater tomorrow. I may be reworking the last couple of stripes of the sleeve to tighten it a little.

Oh! Did I show you a picture of the shawl I’m knitting with that shiny yarn I bought at the weekend? I will use both balls of yarn for this shawl and will likely add a couple of black stripes toward the bottom. Though I may choose to use brown instead. Not sure yet.

shiny shawl

I’ve talked about the joy in a special piece of music that each person finds. This can extend to entire albums of music. It can also extend to an entire catalogue for a particular band. For me, I can listen to all of Paramore’s albums over and over and over again (and I have, much to my husband’s irritation) which makes it a little ironic that I am dedicating today’s song to him. I couldn’t have gotten through the heartache of the last year and a half without him. We’ve been married 14 years at the end of the month.

And I haven’t forgotten that I was going to photo blog the steeking for the sweater, except that I didn’t remember until I’d already started cutting it. So I will make a sample tomorrow and photograph the process using that to post either tomorrow or Saturday.

I love this yarn! It’s the Opal sock yarn. Isn’t it pretty?day 41


Day 25


Something of a cautionary tale today. Even if you knit a swatch (a square to see how many stitches and rows you get in a given area) and check that you are getting he number of stitches the pattern tells you to have per inch, measure your garment often. No really, keep checking just as you check that you have the right number of stitches n your needles.

driftwood-finished body

From this, plus half a right sleeve…

So, yeah, swatching is important…. but I’ve never had anything but frustration when I bother with it. I am fortunate that I usually knit to gauge naturally.. You’ve all seen the sweater I’ve been knitting – all those lovely, brightly coloured stripes. With only a sleeve and a half to go I was double checking sleeve length with J and discovered that even though I was knitting to the prescribed gauge, the blasted thing is coming out at the measurements for a size smaller.

.. to this. * It's called a frog pond because when we undo knitting we say that we will 'rip it back'. Rip it = ribbit = frog = frogging... It's a bit heartbreaking to do this so we make our own amusement about it.

.. to this. * It’s called a frog pond because when we undo knitting we say that we will ‘rip it back’. Rip it = ribbit = frog = frogging… It’s a bit heartbreaking to do this so we make our own amusement about it.

I have spent the last couple of hours sending the sweater to the frog pond*. I will cast it on again in the morning but will ignore the swatch I did and just knit on the 4.5mm needles the pattern says instead of the 3.75mm needles the swatch indicated I should use.

I’m casting on a short cardie for myself tonight in an effort to calm down a bit. Frogging is always saddening.

Happier things now – the blanket is already getting big. 17″ x 20″ (43cm x 51cm) and we’re not even a month into the year of knitting it. It will be an enormous blanket, or a couple of slightly less enormous blankets.

day 25

The big grey square was yesterday’s addition (Schoeller+Stahl, Fortissima Shadow Color ‘Grey’). Today’s is the green square with the blue line (Opal, Sweet & Spicy ‘Plum’). I was going to give you a list of the yarns I’ve used but instead, have a photo of a mini wall o’ yarn made up of the yarn I’m using for the blanket. Yeah. I hadn’t realised I was using so many either.

wall o yarn

I’m go to finish with music today instead of starting with it. I adore Sarah Barielles’ music. She’s another artist I love singing along to. This song cheers me up and reminds me that bravery is an everyday thing. It’s not reserved for warzones and fairy tales. It’s in getting out of bed every day. It’s in trying again. It’s admitting when help would be appreciated. And sometimes it’s dancing when your feet want to move even if you are in a public library…

Day 12


I’m supposed to just be listening but I am enthralled watching a first violinist conduct a string quartet through her solo moments. Such small, intentional motions with her eyes and chin.

My knitting has become a thing that keeps my hands busy as I focus on her and the extraordinary music the quartet is playing.

Not exactly how I’d intended this to work.

The music is on the Sky Arts 2 channel, the second installment in a 17 part series – ‘Beethoven: the complete string quartets’. Guess what it’s about. Tonight they are playing Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 127, ‘they’ being The Belcea Quartet who performed this in the Vienna Konzerthaus. I love how that word looks – ‘Konzerthaus’.

Beethoven manages to write such beauty for the 3 violins in counterpoint with some very deep, almost violent, undertones on the cello. I’m not sure if I like it but I don’t dislike it so I shall continue to listen. The shifts between melodic and bombastic are quite fascinating. I think the best word to describe it all is ‘confllicted’. I wonder how it was received by the people who first heard it?

day12Nothing exciting to report today for my knitting except the purchase of buttons for the sweater. Today’s square is purple from the same ball of yarn I used on Day 3 (Opal’s Sweet & Spicy ‘Plum’) and uses the same techniques, instructions and pattern as Day 2.

It’s almost too big for my laptop keyboard. Need to find a new location for photograph taking….

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 3


Today we are using Opal yarn by Zwerger Garn. This brand was my introduction to sock yarn. I fell in love with self-colouring softness in shades of pink and green. Honestly, if you were ever a knitter and you love colour but can’t be bothered with fairisle or intarsia techniques, take a look at the self-striping and -patterning yarn available today. Noro yarns from Japan is indescribably beautiful and often surprising in the combinations, both the colour and fibre content combinations. And of course there is the unfathomably large selection of sock yarns. And not just the commercially dyed yarns either. There is a steadily growing magnificence of independent dyers out there, many of whom will dye your yarn to order. I will be including some of my handdyed stash in this project, including some yarns that I have spun from handdyed fibre. Etsy and Artfire, and even eBay have some truly incredible artists selling their handdyed yarn and fibre.

The colourway I am using today is called ‘Pflaume’ (‘plum’ in German) and is from the ‘Sweet and Spicy’ range. The colourway uses a long repeat of mauves, greens and turquoise but we are starting today at a blue and white section designed to imitate fairisle. I knitted an irregularly shaped shawl designed by Heidi Kirrimaier called ‘Windward’ with just over a ball of this yarn so I have quite a lot left in my stash, which is great because I really like it.

The beginning of the Windward shawl. The colourway is designed in part to look like fairisle.

The beginning of the Windward shawl. The colourway is designed, in part, to look like fairisle.

Today we are listening to the Peer Gynt Suite. Not because of any particular affection but because my extensive music collection is surprisingly lacking in meditation friendly music. Even my classical collection is too upbeat. I shall be remedying that. Recommendations would be welcome.

Nope, we went back to The Swoon Collection. The original CD this time and started with Dvorak’s ‘Song to the Moon‘, voiced beautifully by Yvonne Kenny. (Peer Gynt was too distracting.) I love this piece of music. It is from the Opera ‘Rusalka’. I know nothing about the opera but I do know that rusalka are from Russian folklore. They’re a type of mermaid/succubus/nymph/demon who live in waterways and lure men to their drowning deaths. Which moral tale shall we draw from this representation of women? Or is it simply a warning to stay away from waterways in the woods? I have to say though, I’m still trying to work out what exactly the moral tale is in Hansel & Gretel…. The ‘witchhunter’ movie is truly awful but is pretty funny in its awfulness.  (MTV was one of the producers. I didn’t watch it expecting anything profound.)

On to the knitting. We’ll be working on the lefthand side of the square we made on day one. cast on 16, then pick up 15sts starting at the cast on edge.this can feel a little awkward but it will have a consistent look to the outer edge of your work if you do it this way.


By the way, that weird looking stitch, the last one you cast on before you started to pick up stitches, will not always look so weird. It’s part of your first decrease so it’ll be evened out.

Continue on with the pattern from day one. You will probably notice that you are needing the pattern less often already. the trickiest part will be where to put the decrease.

So I shall share a few words on row counts, and an even fewer on the use of stitch markers:

In this pattern, you start with 31 stitches and decrease by 2 using a centrally placed, double decrease on every right side row. This means your total will decrease by 2 every other row and it will *always* have an odd number for the total.

I get that Charlotte, but I put my work down and the dog is chewing on the pattern and the cat is fishing with my knitting and I can’t remember how many stitches I should knit before I decrease!

Heads up, here comes the maths bit. Count the stitches on your needle. If it’s an odd number, congratulations! We can move on. If not, you need to look at your work and find where you missed a decrease (or added one). When you’ve fixed that, count again. Odd number of stitches? Awesome.

To determine how many stitches are not included in the decrease you need to subtract 3 (the number of stitches you do use in the decrease) and divide that number by 2. That number is how many you will knit before and after the decrease. The number of stitches on each side of the decrease will reduce by one on every right side row.

So, say I have 15 stitches and i want to know how many to knit before my decrease. 15-3=12. Divide 12 by 2 and you get 6. So, I knit 6 stitches, slip 2 as if to knit them together, knit 1 stitch, pass the 2 slipped stitches together over the last knitted stitch to decrease by 2. I will have another 6 stitches to knit to finish the row.

As an equation  — (total # sts – 3)  divided by 2 = the number of stitches to knit before and after decreasing.

Incidentally, the number you get before dividing by 2 will be your new total number of stitches on the row you just finished and the next row you knit. I tend to count my stitches when I am working the plain knit, wrong side row.

Happily, you will learn to ‘read’ your knitting if you can’t already, and will be able to see where the decreases will go without having to count every stitch. But then, counting every stitch helps quiet my mind so I will continue to count 🙂

As for stitch markers, you will notice that I do not use them in this project. You can if you want to but I find them an unnecessary fussiness. Putting them in the right position is tricky and they have to be repositioned all the time. If i had a hundred stitches, I might persevere but I have so few that I can see all of my work as I go.

We’ll start sewing in ends tomorrow so make sure you have an appropriate needle to hand.

In other news, the shawl that you can see in my little icon at the top left of the screen continues to grow. I have the lattice/mesh section to finish (the black bit I am working on), some plum coloured lace, then a few rows of garter stitch in black. Maybe by the weekend?

traveling companion 3