Archive for September, 2009

But should I make an earwig too?



I’ve been getting some great inspiration for spinning from my parents’ garden this summer. Working with my hand carders, the latest roving I have produced came from these two plants. The first is lantana. It’s kind of like a candytuft, but on fire. The second is my old favourite, the dahlia. My Isle of Wight grandad, Georgie used to grow them for shows and was forever moaning that the earwigs were getting in them. My Mum grows them today as a reminder of him.

Roving for dahlia yarn

I’m going to spin up some yarn in this colourway and depending on how much I get out of it, will make either wristwarmers or a hat for my Mum.

Something in me says I should make an earwig motif to go on them. I think she might appreciate that.


‘H’ is for the knitted poem

H for Poetry Society

Knitted H square for the Poetry Society

I knit like my fingers were on fire this Sunday to make a last-minute ‘H’ for the Poetry Society’s Knitted Poem which is a project to celebrate their centenary. They were missing both Rs and Hs and put out a call last week for speedy knitters to make some before the sewing-up deadline on 26th September. The Poetry Society had a stand which I saw at I Knit, showing some of the finished letters. I had thought that the deadline had passed, so I was really pleased to get a chance to take part.

It was the first time that I’ve done intarsia and found that it wasn’t all that bad after all! Sometimes I just need a prod in the right direction to try something new. Using small amounts of yarn on cards helped a lot to eliminate tangling.

Intarsia anti-tangling mechanism

Intarsia anti-tangling mechanism

We were asked to mark the back with our favourite poem, but to be honest I couldn’t choose. I put two titles onto my label. Two which create somewhat of a paradox when read together: one which I occassionally address but have yet to resolve in myself.

I chose  The Tyger by William Blake with its religious imagery and the sceptical Storm which is a beat poem by Tim Minchin.

You can see how everyone else is doing in the Ravelry Knit a Poem group. There are some lovely, inventively knitted letters there. Also stay tuned to find out what the final poem will be (it’s a secret until the sewing up is finished).

I Knit Weekender

It has taken me ages to get the photos off my camera, but finally here is my trip to the I Knit Weekender last Saturday. Such fun!

Knitting Reference Library Stand

Knitting Reference Library stand. Don't they look efficient!

I travelled up on the Saturday and worked on the Knitting Reference Library stand with Linda, Kate and Carolyn from Uni of Southampton Library (and from my knitting group). It was a whole lot of fun and I met loads of great people, old friends and new (including an American sock monkey on a swap!)

Sock Monkey!

Sock Monkey! Note her pink John Deere tractors fabric dress.

As I was on a stand, I didn’t have time to go and do any workshops or attend talks, but lots of people came to talk to us. I met Alice Starmore, Woolly Wormhead, the Knitting Noras (and Ashley!), Ysolda Teague, Joyce Meader, Jennie Atkinson, Neta Bruce and many more lovely people, including Betsan from Stitchlinks, and Susan and Gavin from KnitontheNet who I will be working with soon. Some people I knew online such as Curlyminx from twitter, others I see all the time at my knitting group. Of course not forgetting Gerard from IKnit too!

I even managed to get some (rather extensive) shopping in too:

Yarn Haul

Yarn Haul

I hadn’t bought any new yarn really since Unravel back in February, so I went all out and got some Malabrigo Lace, Zauberball sock yarn, Colinette Jitterbug, Fyberspates sock yarn in Cherry Tree and some Irish Linen yarn to try. I reckon that’ll keep me going for a while!

Sneak Preview of Xmas Knitting

Sneak Preview of Xmas Knitting

I also bought some lovely pink vintage metal needles and some Cascade 220 which is being knitted up as a Christmas present. It was a long, long day which started with my friend Katie giving me a lift to the end of the Picadilly Line at Heathrow and ended with an epic train journey of three and a half hours back due to delays. It was such fun though. Can’t wait til next time.

probably the easiest wrist-warmers in the world


Here’s a really easy pattern for wrist warmers that is great for showing off your handspun yarn. I started off knitting a much more complicated open twisted rib stitch pattern, but soon realised something. It was almost impossible to see the pattern because the yarn I was using was the star of the show. I might as well have been knitting garter stitch. I started again with a simple two  by two rib, which gives the stretch that the wrist-warmers need, and shows off the yarn to its best. This is a great first pattern for knitting in the round, and has a just a couple of easy features to knit. The thumb is simply a large buttonhole, and the only other detail in the pattern is the fluted cast-off edge, which is made by increases.

You will need:

Approximately 100 metres/ 110 yards of aran (worsted) weight yarn.

4.5mm dpns or circular needle.

Stitch marker.

Tip: Divide the yarn into two balls before you start as it is hard to estimate where to stop once you’re knitting. I find that using scales to get it right helps.

Gauge: 5 stitches  and 7 rows per inch in rib pattern.

I wrote this pattern to fit my medium sized hands, but the pattern has lots of stretch, so gauge is not vital. Use larger or smaller needles if you need.


K: knit

P: purl

Kfb: Knit in the front and back of the same stitch (to increase)


Cast on 40 stitches using the longtail cast on method (for stretch).

Join without twisting and mark the start of the round with a stitch marker.

Work in pattern *K2, P2* until the work measures 3cm.

Next round: K2, P1, cast off 5 stitches, continue in pattern to end of round.

Next round: K2, cast on 5 stitches using the backward loop cast on method, continue in pattern to end of round.

Continue to work in pattern  until they measure approximately 19cm (just under 7 inches) from the cast on edge.

Next round: *Kfb, Kfb, P2* to end of round.

Next 2 rounds: *K4, P2* to end of round.

Cast off in pattern and weave in ends.

Then knit the other one (unless you’ve been magic looping them of course!)

Thanks to Lily for modelling in the photos!

Please feel free to knit up the wrist warmers to keep or as gifts/charity fundraising, but please do not knit up for commercial purposes or reproduce the pattern without first seeking permission.

Copyright © Ingrid Murnane 2009. All rights reserved.

the unblackberry

The UnBlackberry

The UnBlackberry

Whilst collecting blackberries to make jam a couple of weeks ago, I was struck with inspiration about what to make with the final 40g or so of brown Jacob’s sheep fibre that has been hanging around since Unravel in February. It was the perfect opportunity to try out my new hand carders, mixing this fibre in with some merino to make the briars with lengths of purple for the berries themselves.

Blackberry Rolags

Blackberry Rolags

Despite what I’d heard, hand carding turned out to be a lot of fun, if hard work. Only thing was, try as I might I couldn’t get the purple dark enough to still stand out from the browns of the briars. Partly because I didn’t have enough dark to blend in, partly because I wanted the colour to pop and it just blended in too much. That’s why I ended up going a lot lighter than anticipated. Not so much of a blackberry colour at all. See what I mean?

Blackberries, close up by Martin LaBar. Used under Creative Commons.

Blackberries, close up by Martin LaBar. Used under Creative Commons.

Now, I know what you’re thinking… what about the lush greens of the leaves too? Well I was trying to get away from green a little bit. Green is my favourite colour, my go-to colour and I already have another spinning project in which I’m using it currently (more on which later). Despite it not really looking like my original plan for blackberry yarn anymore I really liked what I had blended and went ahead and spun it.

Spinning it up (whilst showing off new spindle)

Spinning it up (whilst showing off new spindle)

I planned on the yarn being self striping and had worked out by weight to get both singles to have similar colour lengths for plying. It even almost worked! I ended up with some overlapping of a metre or so, but it looks great so I’m happy. I spun 110 yards of aran weight yarn and it is destined to be a pair of fingerless gloves. Whilst taking the photograph at the top of the post I noticed that it was exactly the same colour as the Canterbury Bells in the flowerbed, and thought about renaming it thus. It doesn’t sound right though. It remains the UnBlackberry.

ETA: I started knitting it up and found it wasn’t DK after all, it knits up to aran gauge.

The Dive: @Platea Project IV

The Dive: 1

The Dive: 1 by Ingrid Murnane

For the next few days I’m taking part in The Dive, @platea’s latest project. Here’s what @platea director, An Xiao has to say about it:

As the summer comes to an end in the northern hemisphere and the fall art season heats up, the steering committee and I thought it might be fun to have one last hurrah with a public dive through social media. The performance will be September 8 to 10, and we’re asking our performers to use the real-time news feed as a visual performance space for diving.

Just think about it: you go online, you check your Facebook and FriendFeed feeds, and as the day goes on, each status update and picture post slowly makes its way down. If it’s a busy day and you have a lot of friends, these updates slide down quickly. If it’s a slow day, they get there eventually. Imagine a picture of yourself diving through this space, gradually making your way down your friends’ news feeds.

Sounds kinda fun, huh?

I think so! Are you taking part too?

Find out more about it on the @platea blog where there is a list of performers, and follow @platea on Twitter and join the Facebook or Ravelry groups to watch the performance take shape.

Just an Instuction Leaflet?

Bestway Men's Glove Pattern

Bestway Men's Glove Pattern

Issue 9 of Knit on the Net went live yesterday, and I have my first magazine article published!

I wrote a micro-study of the above men’s glove pattern which has been in my family for three generations. The pattern is well travelled and means different things to different people, having been used a lot for teaching. It has come to mean much more in my family than ‘just a pattern’; it has a whole life of its own with many layers of social connotations.

Teal Bestway Glove 2008

Teal Bestway Glove 2008

The article is adapted from a paper which I first presented at University of Southampton’s In the Loop knitting conference last summer. This is the first time I have submitted an article to be published. When I saw the theme was ‘techniques and traditions’ I thought it might fit right in, so I was delighted when editor Susan Crawford accepted it.

Issue 9, Wanderlust has lots to read and includes some really good patterns: go take a look.

I’m off to make a Mia hat.