Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Spring

20 March is the equinox, meaning that there'll be equal amounts of daylight and darkness, as we're midway between the winter and summer solstices. Here in the Northern Hemisphere it's the vernal - or spring - equinox. (Southerners, this autumn equinox post is more relevant for you, I'm afraid!) Today in London is, like yesterday, very spring-like indeed - sunny and warm enough to be out without a coat. The day before yesterday might have been sufficiently chilly for me to regret leaving home without my long-johns, but winter's now at least officially over. I've just heard the local ice-cream van playing its tune for the first time this year. Here's to the lightest six months of the year, beginning today - happy equinox!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Slippers & pyjamas

Do you find that if your feet are cold, the rest of you feels cold too? And that once your feet have become cold, it takes them ages to thaw out? In our well-insulated modern flat, slippers are not quite the year-round necessity that they were in previous draughty Victorian residences, but the recent icy weather prompted me to make a new pair.
I'm not a great crocheter but these slippers from Erika Knight's Simple Crochet do live up to the title of the book. I think there's an error in the pattern, although the errata page on Erika Knight's website doesn't mention it: I found that I ended up with too many stitches in each round if I worked the first double crochet into the same place as the slip stitch each time. When I stopped doing that, it worked out. I made an extra half-row at the end and then joined the back seam with slip stitches/single crochets. That meant I could carry on around the opening of the slipper without breaking and re-joining my yarn. I worked two rounds of double crochet to finish the slippers rather than the recommended one: one in the main yarn (one strand only), and one in contrasting yarn. I skipped a stitch at each corner on both rounds to avoid any bagginess there - it's what I'd do in knitting so it seemed sensible. I didn't put insoles in the slippers at all because I prefer them to be just one up from socks. That meant I didn't need to use any glue, and the slippers are 100% organic and biodegradable.
I took them off for the photo but I usually wear socks too,
because cold ankles = cold feet
I don't know if you can tell from the photos that one slipper is smaller than the other - nothing to do with my feet, which are both equally large. Somehow I worked the second slipper tighter than the first, and even though I added extra rows to make up for it, it's still smaller in every direction. In this case it's more of an annoyance than a real problem, and I'm hoping they'll get evened up a bit with lots of wear. They're not shaped differently for right and left, either, so I can alternate which foot wears the smaller slipper. But I've had this trouble with knitted pairs of things too; what's the solution? The only one I can think of is to have both items on the go simultaneously, working a couple of rows on each in turn, which seems a bit silly and for knitting would require double needle supplies too.

The main yarn is the undyed Jacob speckled (marl) DK from Garthenor. Jacob sheep have a stylish two-tone look, and their fleece has to be sorted by hand after shearing to separate the colours. It's quite soft and gets fluffier with wear and washing. The green edging yarn is Rowan/Amy Butler Belle Organic DK, a mix of organic wool and organic cotton.
In other news, I finished (finished!!) a pair of pyjama trousers for Boyfriend. He was promised these quite some time ago and has been waiting quietly and patiently (in increasingly shabby pyjamas), which really only serves to make a person feel more guilty - it's a great relief to have these off my 'to do' list (and I'm working on making fewer promises!). I drafted the pattern myself because an earlier attempt with McCall's M4725 produced a garment of humorous voluminousness. The fabric is a lovely Gossypium organic and Fairtrade cotton sheeting (not available directly from Gossypium at the moment, but Fairtrade Fabrics have it); the little contrasting piece at the drawstring opening is from an old shirt. They look rather more special with the man himself inside them but you'll have to take my word for that.