Saturday, 31 December 2011

Red's January SALE

Yes indeed! For the first 2 weeks of January, you can get 25% off the price of ALL REDSCOT SOCK PATTERNS!  Oh yes!  Buy one or buy 'em all - you'll get 25% off the total price!

Don't say I'm not good to you!

Click HERE to go to the pattern page on Ravelry!  (You don't need to be a member to access the page or buy the patterns!)

Sale starts 1st January 00:01, ends 14th January 23.59
all times GMT

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Notes On A Scandal - Shawl Edition

'painted elly' by birgit freyer
I know. Another asymmetric shawl. The LazyKaty I made for my Mum has tapped an unfathomable fount of shawl-lust.  A fount that SHOULD NOT EXIST.  Especially after the shawlicide of my first attempt. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
Truthfully, I kind of got a little excited after finishing that first shawl and decided I was going to make a shawl/scarf for my sister's Christmas. She has chosen the colour yarn without knowing what it's for. I suspect she thinks it’s for socks, because that’s what I do!  I knit socks.  (And to be fair, when I was first learning to knit, scarves were all I made, but that passed once I discovered the joy that is socks.  I think my sister has received at least four scarves in differing levels of competence from me so far, so I doubt she'd be expecting another version.)
Anyway. The chosen colourway of Noro Kureyon Sock (236) is making me salivate. It’s the only ball I could find of this colour, and I'm slightly kicking myself that I promised it away. Never mind, I’m sure it’ll look gorgeous.  (And if it doesn't, well, what is knitted can be un-knitted and made into socks. possibly for me! Heh!)
Wish me luck…
1 I’ve added a stitch marker before the first k2tog - the placement stays the same throughout the pattern (so far) and it means I don’t have to count the number of knit stitches to the edging stitches. WIN!
2 I still hate purling. If I didn’t dislike the appearance of garter stitch so much, I’d be knitting both sides like there’s no tomorrow!
3 Damn, but I want this green-coloured Noro for myself. WHY IS IT SO RARE, DAMMIT?
4 I’m replacing the skp with a k2tog tbl because it looks less baggy than my typical skp.
5 I’m going down a needle size to 5mm. I have suspicions this may be a good idea, length-of-wool-wise.
6 I HAVE to learn to knit backwards. Oo - nice video by the Knit Witch HERE! And another for continental (which helped me more, I must say) HERE.
7 Why Noro? WHY????? Orange. ORANGE? Just wrong. Wrong, I say.
:: rings bell :: 
Row 79 and all is weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell (apart from that damn orange. Yuck.) 
:: rings bell ::

8 I’ve realised that although this feels like it’s going slower than the LazyKaty, it’s not really - it’s just that the edging on one side is already being incorporated into the shawl. :: phew ::
9 I should never invoke the wrath of the Shawl Gods by stating things are going well. I now need to learn how to pick up lace stitches.
10 I’ve added stitch markers to show the 11 repeated sections in the edging. It’s that or forever counting, and I’m doing rather shabbily at that so far…
11 Yeah, the name keeps changing. I’m nothing if not whimsical. And mathematically challenged. I should maybe keep a note, because I'm probably going to name it something Autumn-themed to justify that rusty orange that infiltrated an otherwise beautiful set of colours… ‘Two Plus Two Equals Three’; ‘Oops, It Just Fell On The Needles’, ‘Autumnal Equinox’… But seeing the colours, I’m reminded more of malachite and moss. Oh. Well.  That'll do!
12 ETA D’oh. After frogging (oops - did that come as a surprise? Details further on at note 14/15…) I’ve realised (now that I’m back on track) that the stitch markers idea was great, but as a guideline only - their placement is not a rigid thing in the actual pattern contruction…
Things I Have Learned - follow the damn pattern.
13 I have to add that the colours are nearly as garish in real life. My flash is not conducive to a realistic, well, anything really.

14 I'm so crap. I’ve spent the entire day on 3 rows, making mistakes, counting, re-counting, jiggling about. I am so frustrated. ENTIRELY my fault. It seems this *easy* pattern is not easy enough for me. :(
15 Kill me.  Kill me now. I’m going to have to frog this baby. Way too many mistakes from which to recover.
16 I need a moment…
17 Maybe I can frog a little and pick up before the edging starts… … … … … WOOHOO! 1 day of ‘knitting’ lost, but I think I may have salvaged it.

18 Well, I am almost certainly going to run out of yarn before I reach the end of the shawl, so going to have to search for some contingency yarn!
19 I’ve reached the first of the individual edging points, so I’m going to have to figure out what the crochet method *really* asks for to connect one point to the next. Ulp... oh.  Actually - it’s a simple chain and slip for 8 stitches or so. My crochet is baggy as hell, but it gets the job done! (Poke the hook through the yo, pull through, then pull through st on hook. Make another stitch on hook, then poke the hook through the next yo and lather, rinse, repeat…! Please note extensive use of technical terms.)
20 WOOHOO! Finished with 4 metres of yarn left! FOUR METRES! Fabulous! Contingency yarn is not needed after all, which is grand, because I haven't found any yet!

21 Now the interesting part - blocking, and the never-ending questions of 'will it stay all nice and lacy, or will it ping back into a pretty-coloured tangle of nothingness...'?

22 There is nothing more sublime than taking out the blocking pins and the work staying blocked! No ping-back for this baby!  WOOHOO!

23 And finally, the really fun part - taking photos of the finished item!

malachite and moss - for my sister

Friday, 25 November 2011

Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire...

Jack Frost slurping at my Irish Coffee...

I don't know about you, but I sometimes feel that barmen are a little furtive when making an Irish Coffee... whether it's to make sure no-one sees their super-secret method of making it, or to make sure no-one sees their panic in trying to make sure the coffee and cream stay separated, who's to tell?  What I can say is that I am a fan of their end product!  I'm also a fan of the 'Baby Guinness' which in fact has nothing to do with Guinness at all, but is in fact a portion of coffee liqueur poured in to a shot glass then topped with a layer of Irish cream liqueur!  I happily class that as an Irish Coffee, too!

Inspired by warm cabled jerseys, roaring pub fireplaces on a frosty evening, and a snifter of Irish whiskey, this is a cream-liqueur-cuff-down, heel-flapped sock, with a coffee-bean cable leg, cosy enough to stave off the harshest of Winter chills!

Unlike the traditional bottom-up method of making an Irish Coffee, we start at the top with an Irish cream liqueur cabled cuff:

The cuff* is actually knit flat from a provisional cast-on, then the edges are grafted together (I used kitchener stitch) after the stitches for the ribbing section are picked up along the edge.  It sounds complicated, but it isn't at all, and makes for a very cool-looking (or should that be 'warm-looking') cuff.

Then follows the toasty coffee-bean cable leg... Truly delicious - I love how this yarn* pools in a way to create different flavour beans!  

And talking of beans - they come in a righ variety of colours!  Check out the Wikipedia page on Coffee roasting for some fabulous examples from greens and yellows to almost black!  Plus the coffee berry itself is a delicious pinky-red colour!

The heel-flap is actually a simple 'double' Eye of Partridge with the main and contrasting colours alternating every 2 rows.  I affectionately call this my Curdled Heel-Flap, because it looks like my attempts at making Irish Coffees for myself.  (I can never get them to layer like the professionals - they either mix for plain a boozy coffee, or separate completely, looking not unlike the example below!) You could, however, claim that the heel-flap represents the sugar grains you need to add to keep the layers separate!

The foot continues the with Coffee-Bean cable, then moves on to a plain toe.  A deliciously warm way to keep your tootsies cosy this Winter!

You can buy this warm and boozy sock pattern for $4.00 (€3.00, £2.58, A$4.12, 
¥310) by clicking on this link:

and you can find the Ravelry pattern page HERE.

Go on!  You know you want to! ;-)

*BBKnits Prima Superwash Merino Nylon in colourway 'Innocence'
**Zitron Trekking XXL colourway 420

Thursday, 3 November 2011

If You Like Piña Coladas...

...then you'll love my new pattern: The imaginatively named (wait for it) Piña Colada Socks!

piña colada socks by yours truly
You can't have a sock theme of cocktails without including the infamous Piña Colada! Starting with a liberal splash of rum, add generous quantities of pineapple juice and cream of coconut, then you *must* finish with the most famous drinks garnish of all: the cocktail umbrella! 
The Piña Colada sock is a cocktail-umbrella-cuffed, heel-flapped, pineapple-legged sock, with a toe that continues the pineapple design! Worked from the top down, this sock is almost good enough to slurp through a bendy straw!
I found this yarn (Zitron 'Trekking XXL' in Peaches and Cream) in my local wool shop last Summer and knew immediately that this pattern was going to be the result (give or take a few false starts and lots of tweaks). 

I wanted to create a pseudo-pineapple pattern that echoed the wonderful thick rind of the fruit - somewhat rhombus shaped, but with shading in each half of the diamond to give more depth. The result was a really lovely texture, which was still quite stretchy, given that there are a lot of twisted stitches involved!

The heel-flap uses the wonderful Eye of Partridge.  I was tempted to try an continue the larger diamond leg pattern in the heel-flap, but in the end the E-of-P was just the ticket, as it has its own diamond pattern already built in - a shoe-in!

For a final flourish, I had to add something fabulous and bright. And kitschy.  The cocktail umbrella ticked all those boxes, so I went back to the drawing board and added the Cocktail Umbrella Cuff to the design.  The first one I made used a coordinating colour (Beyond Basic Knits 'Superwash Sock' in Love Struck - the same lovely yarn I used for the Strawberry Mojito socks), but the second went off in a slightly more garish route, (BBKnits 'Superwash Sock' in Color me Happy - the same yarn I used for my Gin and Tonic socks) but I thought bright and gaudy clash was appropriate, as I can safely say that I've never seen an understated cocktail umbrella in my life!

With such a cool cuff, I had to finish the sock with a wee bit of flair, too, so I continued the pineapple pattern down to the toe - I do like seeing a pattern worked the entire length of the sock, I must admit!

This little beauty of a pattern can be yours for the excellently small price of $3.50 (or, and here we go with the current rates of exchange: €2.53 or £2.21 or ₪12.77 or 270 or A$3.43.)  A bargain in any currency!

(You can click HERE for the Ravelry pattern page for more details and buying options - and you don't have to be a member of Ravelry to look at, or indeed buy, any of my patterns!)

(Please excuse the massive differences in lighting/colours on the photos - my camera dislikes certain times of day/low level lighting.)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Tales Of The Unexpected Shawl

Once upon a time there lived a ball of wool.  A very prettily-coloured ball of wool called Noro S188 Kureyon Sock.  (Her parents wanted a boy.)

say hello, noro

Noro lived in a big bag full of her friends, and some acrylic*.

One day she was trolling through browsing through some threads on our favourite website and stumbled onto a pattern** that stole her breath away.  For two reasons.  The first being good: a combination of a swirl of colours and wonderful form.  The second being bad: because it was a shawl.  

Now, it is well known to all the Yarn that bides in the Bag that the Hands That Make were averse to the knitting of anything Lace.  ANYTHING lace. Except  lacy socks.  But then, all the Yarn that bides in the Bag knew that the Hands That Make were a bit weird when it came to making socks, so tended to look the other way when double-pointed needles came in to play.

After 'accidentally' leaving the browser open on the pattern page, Noro waited with bated breath Japanese zen-like patience to see whether the Hands That Make would fall as wildly in love with the pattern as she had. And thanks to her cleverness the plan worked, and within hours of the pattern being displayed she was introduced to some fine Taiwanese wood bamboo circular needles and they got busy to work.

making sweet, sweet lo stocking stitch
And more work.

still making sweet, sweet stocking stitch

Until the pattern said to stop with the sweet, sweet stocking stitch and start to add some holes.  Noro and her Taiwanese friend decided to play it cool and just add a few little yarn overs to give the Hands That Make a gentle transition to the scary lace.

the gentle art of making holes in knitting

But it wasn't gentle enough and all the Yarn that bides in the Bag felt waves of panic start to emanate from the Hands That Make and sent their swiftest messenger (some delicious purple Malabrigo - used to running fast to get away from hordes of screaming fans) to find some stitch markers before it was too late.  

stitch markered for your pleasure

And once joined with the stitch markers, Noro and her bendy Taiwanese companion continued on their journey to eyelet heaven.  But, as in all tales of epic epicness, our heroine lost her dear friend to a change in the pattern just as they were beginning to see an end to their Herculean adventure. Seeing the pattern change from a distance too far to be able to prevent it, a shining knight of metal hookiness rode forth to rescue the damsel in distress from her devastation, and between them they began to weave an end to the tale worthy of the saga gone before. Or something.

 noro and the hooker

After many hours toil of monumental proportions Noro and the knight were able to look back on their hard work and see the surprisingly beautiful fruit of their loins travails.  Noro named it 'shawlette' and saw that it was good.

stretched and pinned for glory
Small, but good.

 daylight deliciousness

*They tended to rub each other up the wrong way.  
**'LazyKaty' by Birgit Freyer.

Thursday, 1 September 2011


aka Actual Singing Content.

basilique sainte marie-madeleine de vézelay
Or choral content to be precise.

But don't anyone ever tell you it's easier than solo work. Because it's not. Nope. Nuh-uh. Not in a million years.  You need an extra kind of confidence. It's not enough to know you can sing the music by yourself, you need to know that you can sing it with other people, be able to blend with other voices, not be put off by the others in your section, or be so scared that you're not pulling your weight, or are sounding crap, that you end up forgetting how your technique works. You almost need to be arrogant about it all.  It intrigues and confounds me!

But what better music to be intrigued and confounded by than the wonders that are the Requiem, and Mass in c minor, by WA Mozart, with Arsys Bourgogne, and the Camerata Salzburg.  Om nom nom!  (I auditioned last year - my first as mezzo/alto, so I was doubly pleased to take part!)

But enough of such inane twaddle - I know you really want to know about where
we sang, not why, what, or how we sang!  ('Cos really, after the initial - ooh pretty music, and ooh - cool orchestra, the rest is all hard work, sweat, and tears!)

Arriving at Vézelay in Burgundy in 36c heat at 9pm wasn't my idea of fun, I have to admit, but after making a tour of the village, fell in love.  Not with the hills. No. (The small town is built on the summit of a hill.  The rehearsal venue and the basilica was at the top, my hotel was at the bottom.  Big hill.  Much sweat.)  But oh. Pretty. PRETTY!

Ancient buildings.

Picture-postcard views.

And then there was the Romanesque Basilica of Saint Mary Magdalene.

Absolutely stuffed to the gunwhales (or, should I say up to the pillars) with fabulous stone carving...

 feel free to click on the pictures for enlargments

The interior is lovely and light, with some nice stone striping on the arches.

And there was one example of stained glass.  (I had taken many more of the same window, but only discovered once I had arrived home that the reason none really came out was because the lens was rather needing cleaned!)

An exhausting 10 days, but totally worth it to be able to marvel over a lovely and ancient small town, and take part in some fabulous music-making.

Mair Bloag Weejits

Footerin' Aboot

Footerin' Aboot
Heh! I'm so funny!

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