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May 2010

£166 for a garter stitch scarf!

I've been catching up on BBC1's High Street Dreams on accessories because I'd heard rummours of people pricing a plain hand-knit garter stitch scarf at £130 and  £166 for one with cable or rib.

The programme features fashionistas saying I want it look "handmade but not homemade". I wasn't sure what that meant but to me the scarves where the sort of thing I use to teach beginners. Brightly coloured chunky wool and fat needles in garter stitch.

The big marketing gimmick was "hand knit by nanas" - even though it turned out that younger knitters were actually more productive. I admit this was a second knitting stereotype that annoyed me.

On the other hand, the fact that the retail guru Jo Malone decided the Beryl the scarf woman (aka Beryl Brewis Handmade Scarves) could pitch to the Jigsaw fashion chain, and get an order for 200 scarves, may of course raise the credibility of knitting and we knitters (and especially the knitting shops) will be teaching the classic chunky scarf more in the future.

Either that or knitting groups should set up retail businesses immediately.

Knitting the pain away - science and yarn

A study conducted Royal United Hospital, Bath, suggests that knitting can improve sufferers' experience of chronic pain.

It says more work needs to be done to work out why this happens. It could be  a number of things such as:
rhythmic repetitive movements and their role in meditation and serotonin release; the effect of bilateral  patterns of hand movement on brain maps; automatic movements on rumination; the ‘end product’ and its effect on the reward system; the effect on cognitive function; stimulation from colour, texture and being creative.

I'm particularly curious to find out what is going on because I have osteoarthritis and sometimes experience a great deal of pain. But my anecdotal experience is that knitting in some way improves the experience perhaps by distracting me or perhaps its the medative thing. I'll be following this with interest.

Two knitting firsts

This Aoelian shawl by Elizabeth Freeman is my first project in bamboo yarn (Wendy Happy Aquarius) and my first centre out shawl, although I've knitted lace a fair bit. It was a spur of the moment project. I saw the yarn which matches a dress I own in This is Knit in Dublin where they also had a version of the shawl hanging up - love at first site and the result lives up to expectations.

Knit 152

Knit 151

Knit 154

Knit 153

The Knitter 19 - it's love

Having just completed what is always one of the busiest weeks of my year - amongst other things this involves being the public face of a conference for 2000+ people - I arrived home to find The Knitter 19 and it brought a beaming smile to my face.

It is one of the best editions ever. And here's why.

Enchanted evening shrug by Grace Meewen - if I hadn't just cast on Prairie Rose in some mad blue silk, I'd be starting this right now. Beautiful 2ply lace pattern but only one pattern to learn so possible a good choice for those less confident in lace. And as I type I recall I have some scarlet 2ply in the stash 8-)

Sprite by Jean Moss - just love this 4ply asymmetric "dress" or tunic; lace, crochet edging, knitted flowers plus the finished effect is both elegant and quirky. It's short-sleeved, with a simple lace pattern and has the flowers at the waist.

Origin'02 soie from Bergere de France - the Bergere names are never inspiring but this pattern is right up my street,a long-line short-sleeved tunic in a simple lace pattern. In a DK yarn, the lace would keep it interesting and add to the final drape. I'd be temped to do it a Louisa Harding yarn like Merletto.

Tofino by Sarah Sutherland - a long line, top down, scooped neck top in DK. Very shaped and knitted in the round, it may be mainly stocking stitch but I suspect the interesting construction would keep it from being boring. Plus a very useful basic garment.

Vine and Clover by Elizabeth Lovick - pretty fitted fair isle jumper in fabby Jamieson & Smith 2ply. Would require quite some careful colour though. Also, WARNING: CONTAINS STEEKING

Jalapeno by Jennie Atkinson - love this cotton DK halter neck top with lace below the bust - one of those patterns that looks complicated but is probably a joy to knit.Unfortunately I'm the wrong shape so I'll have to find someone else to make it for.

Little sailor girl from Sublime - a really cute baby cardigan that also looks like a v simple knit. perfect for a quick gift.

Magnolia shrug by Amanda Crawford - knitted in one piece from wrist to wrist, this plain stocking stitch shrug is transformed with 3D large knitted flowers. I'd go for black with a variegated flame yarn for the flowers. Think my mum would love that.

Paeonio by Sasha Kagan - this has intarsia flowers, textured edging and lace panels. It may sound odd but the picture is growing on me.

Tulip cardigan by Kim Hargreaves - can't make my mind up about this 1980s long, drop-shouldered cardie. It may be the picture, it may be the shape. Bit of a Hmmm

Simply Knitting 68

Knit 145  The latest issue of Simply Knitting has hit the doormat. As usual I'm not taken with the cover gift, a magnetic pattern marker board set. As someone who rarely feels the need  tick off the pattern as she goes and knits on the move it didn't float my boat (luckily a friend wants it). I'm not much of a knitting gadget person. 

On the other hand next month promises stitch markers, perfect timing as my Ravelry queue is full of lace patterns.

 Meanwhile what else is worth a look this month? There isn't a must knit like last month's Blue Belle by Pat Menchini but there are a few keepers all the same (Ravelry links where available)

Stay Cool from Sirdar is a really versatile spring/summer long line cardigan. A photo spread of SK staff hows how it works on a range of shapes and sizes, it is sized for 32in bust up to 54in. In DK with a deep lace border and mainly stocking stitch it looks straightforward and useful.

Take it easy by Pat Menchini is a classic men's pullover with a rib pattern. Perfect for men who don't want "anything fancy"

Garden Party from Rowan is a handy lace summer cardigan, which would look good without the stripes shown here.

Zip and Zing by Ruth Maddock is labeled a teen knit but is a handy hoodie - I'd never chose lime green and orange though.

The quick knits section contains some interesting purses and a crotchet beach blanket which would also works a throw I think.

There is also a crotchet cotton top, and a sock pattern for subscribers but my crotchet is rusty and sock ain't for me so can't really comment.

Plus a great article on victorian knitting.

The aaarrrgh moment

One of those knitting days when you experiment with a pattern with a new yarn and a new pattern.

Having fallen in love with a ball of Wendy Happy sock yarn aquarius because it exactly the colours of a dress I also saw a version of the Aoelian shawl from Knitty hanging in the shop. The yardages for the shawl are approximate but looked about right - and they were about right, sadly though about 20m short. 

And so the aaarrgh moment hit. I have what looks like a fab shawl half cast off and now all I can do is wait for the ball sourced on ebay to arrive. Oh and indulge in some of my other WIPs.

Knit 142