Back to the basics

For the last few years, I’ve mostly been focused on challenging myself with intricate patterns. Every new pattern had to be harder than the one before it, or what was the point. And somewhere along the way I forgot how much fun can be had with just knits and purls.

Recently when looking for a sock pattern, I fell in love with Treppenviertel. It’s a pretty straightforward pattern and a pretty straight forward knit, but it really takes advantages of the natural curves of stockinette.

As usual, the best explanation for why stockinette curls I’ve seen is this piece by techknitter. I love techknitter’s approach to knitting, and her explanations and illustrations are really clear, and she usually approaches a problem from a few different angles, providing a variety of interesting solutions.

The basic gist behind the curl of stockinette is the part of the stitch that always sits at the front pushes out to the sides, whereas the bumpy back is pushing up and down. Hence the sides of a piece of flat stockinette will curl back, but the top and bottom will curl forward.

The fun part is when you alternate bands of stockinette and reverse-stockinette. Vertical bands will emphasise the side curling of the fabric, pushing the knit side forward and the purl side backwards, giving us the familiar rib. However, if you make the bands horizontal instead, the top and bottom curl wins, pushing the purl side to the front and the knit side to the back.

Treppenviertel uses both. The cuff is ribbed vertically as is familiar, but the foot is ribbed horizontally, with three rows of knit followed by three rows of purl. The transition is done gradually over the course of the leg, with the horizontal lines starting at one point and gradually taking over.

I really love the visual effect of this. You have a sock that’s super simple, but still fun to knit and wear. I also like how straight off the needles it looks like an elf’s shoe!

Travel, yarn shopping, permission

I’m finally putting my feet on solid ground after yet another week of travel. Now I get to stay put for a few weeks, before my next excursion in July. This time I was in Turku, Finland for a friend and collaborator’s defense last Friday. The fancy dinner and speeches were followed by a weekend of sun, sea and sauna. Turku is in the south of Finland, so even this close to midsummer the sun does set, but it still looks like this at midnight.


This is my seventh trip to Turku, so I’ve had plenty of time to scout out the local yarn. In previous trips I’ve picked up some lovely Finnish and Nordic yarns that I can’t easily get at home, so I was disappointed to see that the yarnshop I’d visited in 2011 had closed its doors. I mentioned it in passing to my local friend, who wasn’t sure if it was closed or had moved. She offered to check online for me, and when I suggested that was a dangerous plan, she asked if she should email my husband to ask if she should.

The problem with this plan isn’t rooted in feminism, or a worry that he’d say no. The problem is when faced with the question “should your wife go yarn shopping?”, my husband’s response is an emphatic yes. This is his idea of logic when applied to me and yarn:

“I spend more money on lunches in work in a month than you spend on yarn in a month, ergo if I eat less at lunch, you can buy more yarn!”

So unfortunately when it come to yarn purchases, I have to rely on my own will power. Not the worst problem to have.

In the end, it turned out that the yarn shop had shut down, but a new one had opened, which was even bigger. I decided to go and look, but only buy something if I couldn’t easily get it at home. I picked up some lovely charcoal 1ply laceweight from Sweden, and some purple sock yarn because sock yarn.

Now that I’m staying put for a little while, I’m hoping to make some progress on my UFOs.

Finally Finished

May 31st saw the completion of a project I have been struggling with for some time. As I waited for the binding to set on my thesis I finally finished crocheting my Venus shawl. I was absolutely determined to complete that shawl by the deadline for May Stashdown totals. I needed to crochet the extra metres of yarn to balance the increase in stash last month. Those increases included some gorgeous Hedgehog Fibres merino &silk single thanks to the wonderful Stew (who also took the lions share of blog posts lately because she’s awesomely supportive).

I posted previously about my adventures with the start of the shawl. And with the middle of the shawl where it all went wrong, involving an awful lot of ripping out. The end of the shawl was no different. I hadn’t enough yarn to finish the final fan row (never mind the edging!) This meant even more ripping out. Back two rows so that the middle, of what would now be my last row, didn’t have a big bump in it. Eventually my perseverance paid off and my 800m of yarn has finally become a shawl. It was supposed to be a present but I’m honestly not too enamoured with how it looks. Perhaps this is just my fatigue from the struggle but it’s for a fellow crafter so it does matter.

Since then all I have been good for are little garter stitch squares for my sock yarn blanket. I’ve been knitting up the leftovers of various projects, along with some lovely donations, to become a purple, blue and green blanket. It’s perfect mindless knitting which is exactly what I need at the moment. I’m very tempted to cast on another Undercover blanket too for exactly that reason too.


And now for something completely different

It feels like at the moment most of my posts are about things going wrong. Today’s post, by contrast, is about things going wrong.

I’m blaming the jet lag. Well, the jet lag that I still had when I had to leave home for a second time to go to the highlands. By the end of the highlands trip, the jet lag was pretty much gone, but only because it had been replace by being tired. All. The. Time. I was no longer beholden to time-zones. Every time was sleepy time!

Thus was the state of my brain when I got home on Thursday evening.

I know, I’ll do some laundry! That’s a low brain task that I can get done before bed.

So I gathered up a bundle of clothes from my suitcase and threw them in for a quick wash.

Half an hour later, I was hanging up the clothes and trying to figure out what that smell was. I sniffed the t-shirt I was holding, but it was fine. I got to the last item, and picked up a sodden, stinky, black ball of something.

That something had once looked like this (photo by the lovely and talented freckledpast on Flickr and Ravelry):

After half an hour in a washing machine, with all that lovely soap, heat and agitation, it looked something like this:

Now, I know Freckledpast is a much better photographer than I, as you can tell by our lighting and composition choices, but I don’t think that can fully account for the difference between the photos.

Fortunately I was able to pull the shawl apart and straighten it out. It’s now significantly thinner, less neat and generally a little less clean-lined, but it’s still long enough to be a scarf, and the pattern is still visible. I hung it up to dry and now it’s actually not too bad.

Secretly, though, I’m kinda happier with the post-wash version. I enjoyed the patter and the knit, but was never truly happy with the drape. When I tried to wear it, it tended to curl up on itself like a sausage because it was so thin and flimsy. Now it’s smaller but has more body to it. It’s so soft and comfy that I wish I knew how to do this on purpose so I could do it again!

Hopefully by the time my next post rolls around I’ll have survived without breaking anything, but I make no guarantees!