Kniftybits's Blog

All knitting, all the time.

How I Met Nigella November 26, 2010

The day before our pack out, as I was pulling out my hair, I met Nigella Lawson.

Yep, that's our book she's signing!

Over a month ago we bought tickets for her talk and book signing hosted by our local bookstore, Topping & Company.  (Such a fabulous bookstore!  I sure am going to miss it.)

In spite of our constrained time table I insisted we arrive 30-minutes before the admittance time convinced there would be a queue around the church.  But there wasn’t.  Us and the gatekeepers were the only ones who stood in the amber autumn sunlight.

So I decided to race into town center to buy the cans of furniture polish I couldn’t get in the states.  And if I had time I was going to stop into Yarn on the Square to get another skein of Lang Yarns Mille Fiamme to make a hat to match my scarf. As I strode up the High Street a beautiful woman approached with a fawning man.  Nigella Lawson! I watched as others did a double take.

She walked right by me and I was so excited that I opted to race into Yarn on the Square before getting the wood polish to share my news with Ginette and buy my yarn. I achieved both and then raced back to St. Mary’s.

After the talk we stood in line an interminable period (so long that I actually started to swatch my next sock as I stood there, much to the amazement of the ladies behind me).  The wait was mostly due to queue jumping, how very unBritish of the crowd!

When we got to the front I couldn’t think of anything charming or witty to say to Nigella.  I wanted to mentioned that she walked by me on the High Street and that I thought she was just as pretty in person as on TV, but I didn’t want her to think she’d just acquired a new stalker.  So instead I smiled and said I enjoyed her talk as she signed our book.

Incidentally, I heard she was meeting Delia Smith for dinner in Norwich that evening. I wonder if they went to the chippy for fish and chips?


Fanning the Flame with Fiamme October 28, 2010

Delightful to look at

Lovely to hold

And when you knit it

You’ll never be cold.

Yep, it’s that time.  Time to say just what it’s like to work with Lang Yarns Mille Fiamme yarn.  Well, let me tell you, it was pretty awesome!

Each super chunky skein is 90 meters (98ish yards).  The lovely Linen Stitch Scarf used three skeins, which is 270 meters or a little over a quarter of a mile of yarn.  But, there were no sore fingers like some yarns cause.

The colors are vibrant, but not overwhelming (at least not to me).  They coordinate well with each other, and there’s a nice subdued sheen to the yarn.



Mille Fiamme All Balled Up & Ready to Go

The finished fabric is soft and cosy; perfect scarf material.  And it’s visually interesting because of the yarn width variation and colors.

The only challenges with this yarn were A) If you pull too hard at a thicker section of the yarn, which lacks strengthening twist, the yarn easily breaks, B) It’s easy to pierce the yarn with the needle in the thicker sections C) Once knit, this yarn grabs hold and is the devil to tink or frog (see problem A).


50% New Wool 50% Acrylic

100 G 90 M

12 sts and 16 rows in 10 cm on 9 mm needles.

Machine Wash, delicate without fabric softener.  Do not bleach.  Do not tumble dry.  Low iron.  Dry clean with any dry cleaning solvent other than trichloroethylene.

Made in Italy

The yarn band includes a pattern for a scarf.


Linen Stitch Scarf Pattern October 26, 2010

It’s done!  It’s done!  The Ultimate Winter Scarf is done!  And I think it’s pretty ultimate!  Whew, that’s a relief.

Long? √   Colorful?  √   Three colors integrated seamlessly?  √  Soft and warm?  √

Scarf in situ

So, here it is, the pattern for the Three Color Linen Stitch Scarf.  Some notes, or lessons learned, are below.

Lessons Learned:

I recommend a thumb or backwards loop cast on.  I did a long tail cast on and it used up too much yarn, so I ran out of that color first and had to resort to cutting the remaining two balls at each end so I could keep working with them.  It wasn’t necessarily a big deal, since the cut strands were incorporated into the fringe, but it would’ve been easier not to.

I did a purl bind off on the right side of the scarf; I felt it matched the cast on edge better.  I bound off with the next size larger needle i.e. U.S. 15 10mm, because I am notorious for binding off too tight and the thought of tinking 310 bound off stitches of ‘grabby’ yarn, made me a little sick to my stomach.  The trade off, however, is that I feel my bind off stitches are a little too obvious.  Oh, well, I’ll live with it.  You know your knitting tendencies, so bind off the best way for you.  I did not recommend it in the finished pattern.

Some of you might notice, the finished length and the gauge I included in the pattern doesn’t match what I was aiming for or the gauge my swatch produced.  Yep, once again the knitting whimsies were out and about messing with my gauge swatch.  So be warned!

The stitch pattern I used doesn’t look identical on the back, however the reverse reminds me a lot of seed stitch, and I think it looks pretty cool, so I would say it’s reversible, regardless!

Front side: I like how the stitch makes little triangles

Reverse of linen stitch

Reverse side: Reminds me of seed stitch & is very cool!

For more information about the yarn used, check out my yarn review.

So what do you think?  Does it fit the bill?

*Note: I wanted to add that I believe any chunky multicolored yarn will work for this pattern, it doesn’t have to be the Lang Mille Fiamme.*


Ultimate Winter Scarf cont. October 20, 2010

What makes an Ultimate Scarf in my humble opinion?

First things first, it needs to be long; as long as my store bought go-to scarf, maybe longer, I want to be able to wrap myself like a mummy if need be!  Plus, I love the drama of a long scarf.  So, I measured my current winter scarf and it’s 80″ excluding fringe.  I’ll aim for 80″, because I’m sure there will be some stretch when there’s that much fabric.

Since I am knitting this length wise, I need to figure out how many stitches to cast on to get this length.  My gauge on 9mm US 13 needles is 19 sts to 5″.  3.8 sts per inch.  So, that means I need to cast on 310 sts.  Wowzer!  I hope my circular cable is long enough to handle it!

Second, in addition to long, it needs to be colorful.  I use scarves much like men utilize ties.  It’s a splash of color, expresses my personality, enlivens bleak winter days and neutral coats, plus if it’s colorful, it should go with everything!  And I love versatility.

What constitutes your ultimate scarf?


Miracle of miracles I actually measured out the correct length for my long tail cast on and managed to cast on 310 sts on the first try.  Here’s hoping I continue to be so lucky.

After casting on the 310 sts I immediately began the first row of linen stitch with my second color.


Etcetera –

  • When coming back to the project after a break, the side you need to start on is the side with two strands coming off it.
  • It took me 17 minutes to complete a purl row and 15 minutes to complete a knit row.  Now you know.
  • The most common error I made was slipping two stitches, which would disrupt the pattern repeat.
  • You know which stitch you need to work by the following indicators A) It’s the longer stitch, because it was slipped the previous row. B) The color difference between stitches. C) Looking to see which stitch already has a strand in front of it.
  • It is easy to make the ends too tight, since you’re working with the yarn below the row you finished.  Just don’t tug and you’ll be fine.

If you missed the first instalment of this endeavor, you can read up on it here.


My Ultimate (I Hope) Winter Scarf October 9, 2010

I’ve warmed many a neck with my knitting needles since I’ve learned to knit, and I’ve knit myself multiple scarves, but when it’s really cold out and I need a really long, really warm scarf I still reach for my (gasp!) store bought scarf; the mega scarf I bought when we moved to England.

I’ve tried making myself an ‘Ultimate’ scarf before with some beautiful yarn I bought in Greece, but in my haste (I really needed an easy project to work on at Stitch & Bitch so I could, you know, bitch) I knit it in stockinette.  That thing curled up tighter than tightwads fist!  I still wear it, but it’s more a fashion scarf than a winter scarf.

I walked into Yarn on the Square a few months ago and fell in love with Lang Yarns Mille Fiamme, however I managed to resist.  (I think it involved me screaming ‘no, no, no’ as I ran out the door.) But, a little while later, my visiting Mother suggested we pop into the yarn shop and there is was again – singing it’s siren song, ‘You love me.  Touch me; feel how soft I am.  I am beautiful.  You covet my colorways.  I promise you a lifetime of warmth and happiness.”  How could I resist?  But, of course, I couldn’t chose just one.  I fell in love with three.


Mille Fiamme All Balled Up & Ready to Go


I immediately balled the skeins when I got home, so quick I didn’t even take a picture before doing so.  Ooops.  Part of my knitting OCD or ADD, not sure which.

I swatched the work in multiple needle sizes, in the end opting for the suggested 9mm US 13 size, for best drape while still being knit tight enough to keep me warm.  This is supposed to be the ‘Ultimate’ scarf after all.

My goal was to integrate the three colorways into a cohesive fabric, thus after pouring over my various stitch books I opted for a Three Color Linen Stitch.  A) It blends the colors seamlessly.  B) It doesn’t curl (ding, ding, ding we have a winner!). C) It looks cool.


Linen Stitch (this swatch was knit in one color)


To make my life extra challenging I decided to knit it lengthwise on a circular needle (wish me luck).

I’ll update you on my progress! 🙂