Friday, 30 November 2007

There will be pictures, darn it.

I took pictures this morning. They are on the camera waiting to be uploaded to my laptop. The reason they haven't yet been is because, inevitably, the batteries need to be recharged. Again. So they are plugged in and I am hopeful of uploading tomorrow morning.

I actually knit on the Shedir this morning. I'm getting more comfortable with the travelling stitches, so hopefully it won't spend too many months languishing while I look at it wistfully with a headache.

Also finished up the second border of Mr Fluffy, so now I just need to work the centre of the beast until I'm nearly out of my lovely kidsilk. I'm quite happy, actually - I wrapped the finished part 'round my neck, and it's more than long enough to be a proper scarf. All the remaining length is simply bonus fabric now.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Tickled

I get a really good dose of quality needlework time every Wednesday night during our gaming sessions. I can knit and roleplay at the same time, and I'm careful to only bring projects that can easily be put down if I need to throw dice or roleplay a combat or drink beer or referee a shouting match. So last night I brought the beginnings of the ripple afghan.

Everyone was fascinated with it! As in, members of the group got so distracted petting the crochet that they weren't paying attention to the game fascinated. Crazy stuff. I think for some reason crochet hooks are less scary to non-crafters than the knitting needles. Less pointy, fewer of them, shorter. And crochet just looks tougher than most knitting, so people aren't so afraid to just pet it. Plus it's purple, and everyone likes purple!

This morning I took advantage of my morning off to figure out a stripe sequence for the rest of it. I've decided not to add the rest of the blue yarn, since the combination of purple and rust is about as much as I can handle. I totally failed to get any pictures taken, but that's ok, because I'll have the morning off tomorrow too. Woohoo! I also did a bunch of work on the fluffy grey scarf. I've got 4 rows of the second border to do, then I can just knit the centre of it till I'm nearly out of yarn. Then I get to learn how to graft garter stitch, which will be fun.

The other fun thing about pulling out all of the yarn for the afghan? I've put all of it in a bag, together with the colour sequence chart, and now all the rest of my yarn fits into the current designated stash containers. Lovely portable project, lovely tidy living room ... how can you go wrong?

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

A moment of clarity

Last night I was sitting and considering my fish. And it struck me. When I made the blanket for my friend the part I liked least was weaving in the ends and sewing the whole thing together. And here I was, embarking on a project that was going to involve huge numbers of ends and silly, fiddly curvy sewing together. So I decided to stop.

I'm still going to make some fish, because they are too cool not to make. But instead of a blanket, I'm going to make ten or so fish, then sew them together end-to-end and make a scarf. I'll lose the interest of the tessellation, but I will still have fish like a good little Pisces.

The acrylic? Well, I'm glad I invested in 200 Ripple Stitch Patterns. I trawled through the whole thing last night and settled on 'Provence', which is a rather angular crocheted ripple. And I started making it. This morning I fished out every scrap of worsted weight acrylic I have left and made a surprisingly large pile. I'm thinking random stripes, although the idea of just grabbing a ball and using up all of it at once is very tempting. This thing is going to be the end of ugly, but that's ok. The other ripple afghan I made has turned out to be the most useful project in my repertoire, and I could use another one!

The inevitable scraps will be granny squares so that I can finish the wretched pillow and put it on the armchair. Of course, this will mean buying a pillow form at some point, and that will mean a trip to Ikea. British shops are singularly lacking in pillow forms.

The kerchief was successfully blocked and dry by the time I got home last night. It fits perfectly, having gained about an inch in both length and width, and is very subtle against my dark hair. I just need to weave in the two ends and photograph it. I think tomorrow morning will see a round of photography. My camera flash washes out the colour in everything if I take pictures at night, and it's always dark by the time I get home. Thank goodness for mornings off!

Monday, 26 November 2007

One up, one down

Not just a great drinking game, but a good reflection of my knitting progress this weekend. I cast on for a baby jacket for a friend who is expecting, but I also finished up the lace kerchief that I started months ago! I finished the patterned part during Scrapheap Challenge, and knit the ties and border during part 2 of Cranford. I still need to block it, since the lace is a little bumpy right now, but I tried it on and Spouse thinks it looks great.

The baby jacket is adorable. It's made in three pieces - 2 sleeves and a body. I've done about half of the body so far. It's great having instructions that say things like "work even until piece measures 1.5", then divide for the armholes". The last adult sweater I knit needed 8" of knitting before the armhole, and that was a rather short sweater. I'm making it in lime green for a couple of reasons. First, I had enough lime green cotton in my stash to make the whole thing, and I got gauge on the needle size stated in the pattern. Second, I don't know whether the bump is a boy or a girl, and green is nicely neutral. Third, I think babies look good in bright colours. It's never really made sense why people give babies brightly coloured toys to stimulate them, then dress them in bland and boring colours. Crazy.

I've also started something that I've never done before. I'm making a gown. Spouse and I have gotten into medieval reenactment, and the time has come for us to have some garb of our own. So I got some lovely teal wool and on Saturday cut out the pieces. It's a simple sleeveless overtunic with a full gored skirt. Nothing but straight seams, unless I decide to do something funky with the neckline. I'm hoping to get the whole thing done by the twelfth of January, since we are having a feast. Of course, I'm also going to need a chemise to wear underneath, but that's going to mean sleeves and gussets.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Brainwave

I was walking home last night, thinking about my knitting. As I often do. And suddenly the solution to the grey fluffy scarf problem hit me. See, I'm making it with Kidsilk Haze, which is expensive (£6.50-ish, usually), and I only have the one ball. This would normally be fine, since a scarf just goes until you run out of yarn, and the yardage in the ball is fine.

But the pattern I'm making from VLT is one of the wide-bordered scarves, which means that once I do the first border and the bulk of the scarf, I still have to do another border. But I don't want leftover yarn! Fortunately, the Yarn Harlot outlined the perfect solution in Knitting Rules - you knit the second border separately and then attach it to the body of the scarf once you're down to the last little bit of yarn.

It's made slightly more complicated by the fact that I've rejigged the pattern. I wanted to knit it on an airplane, which meant plastic DPNs to get through security. Of course, the only ones I had were much bigger than the pattern calls for. It still looks really good IMHO, but it means that when I did the first border I only worked 3 repeats of the pattern instead of 7, and it's still the right width. So I had to modify the number of pattern repeats in the body of the scarf. And I'm going to have to graft the whole thing in garter stitch, which I've never done before. Lots of fun.

Still, I cast on for the second border last night, after successfully playing a quick round of "hunt the yarn end inside the ball". It's very quick, and I'm hoping that after trying 2 other projects, this one will be the right thing for granny-in-law's Christmas present.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Yeesh

Ok, I've officially got too many projects on the go right now. I've just been looking at my Ravelry account. In no particular order:
  • Shedir hat
  • Freedom Spirit hat
  • Burgundy scarf
  • Mystery Stole
  • Christmas present for my grandmother
  • Stripey scarf
  • Silk half-hexagon
  • Scribble scarf
  • Jaywalker socks
  • Jitterbug socks
  • Coatigan
  • Grey fluffy scarf
  • Granny squares pillow
  • Sock yarn scarf
  • Fish blanket
  • Kerchief

There are probably a few more lurking around the place. This is not good. Not good at all. I really need to crack on and get things done. The trouble with this list is that many of the projects are perpetual ones - I'm making them from leftover yarn, so I have to wait until I have the leftovers in the first place. Most of the rest are things that could be finished quite quickly, but then I'd have to devote myself to just that. And only the top three are going to leave me without any leftovers and thereby get me closer to having fewer balls of yarn. Bother. Better get on and see how much I can get done before Christmas.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Ouchies

That Shedir that I'm making? Turns out that the concentration needed for the cables is so great that it gives me a tension headache. As in, painkillers and massage and heat in order to be able to sleep headache. Bugger. I may be buying a present for grandmother-in-law. I'm going to keep working on it, but very, very slowly.

So to console myself I started another hat. This one is a top-down number in the Freedom Spirit yarn I picked up at John Lewis, and is much more comfortable. Bigger yarn and needles, so it'll go faster, plain stockinette, so it'll really go faster, and wool, so that the yarn doesn't hurt me. I always thought that the complaint about cotton being painful to knit was a big joke, but it turns out that cotton does hurt because it's not as stretchy and bouncy as wool. So needle-free cabling means fighting with yarn that really doesn't want to stretch.

My yarn is making me nuts right now, too. I have too much, and it's making it hard for me to knit, simply because there are too many options. So, the plan is this. Between now and Christmas I'm going to knit as much as possible on my current projects, in the hope of getting several of them done and out of the way. Then, in January, I'm going to have a serious go-through of all my yarn and projects. There is some yarn that I'm planning to ditch, because it's ugly and I hate knitting with it. That can just go straight to the charity shop. I'm going to see if there's anything that needs to be frogged. The stripey burgundy and sparkly scarf may be a candidate for that. I really like the scarf, but I'm not convinced I like it enough to make it worth knitting it. It's very boring and fiddly.

Then I'm planning to systematically use up the yarn. Not focusing on finishing projects, but instead focusing on using up one ball of yarn at a time. And by using up, I mean that there will be absolutely none of it left in the stash. No remnants to add to the sock-yarn scarf or the granny squares. No half-balls that might go into something later. I'm just going to use things up and find my living room again. I would like to do this until my entire stash fits into the plastic tub and one 'active' knitting bag, rather than the tub and three overflowing bags and all over the couch and the side table. This is just silly. It's not good for the yarn, and it's not good for my sanity.

Monday, 19 November 2007

I may have started another project

But it's a good thing I did. I'm making a Shedir hat for my grandmother-in-law, and this sucker is fiddly and awkward. If I'd left it any later to cast on, it certainly wouldn't be done in time for Christmas. But it is very, very pretty, and I love the yarn. It is incredibly soft and pleasant to touch.

And I'm teaching myself to cable without a cable needle, since using a cable needle for one-stitch cables is just masochistic. It's going quite well so far.

I've also discovered that DK-weight yarn and 3.25mm needles seem to be my ideal combination. Very comfortable to stitch.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

I really do have a wonderful spouse

I was having a really bad day about a week ago, and Boy was working very hard on cheering me up. It worked, and I got my happy back. And then this morning, when I was getting ready to go to work, the post came. And in it was a pink parcel addressed to him! Since we all know what pink parcels mean, I was puzzled enough to ring him. He told me to open it.

Inside I found 2 big skeins of pink sock yarn! He had decided to get me some sock yarn to cheer me up! Lovely Boy!

I'm thinking I'll turn it into a Blossom shawl and use the silk for a Tuscany shawl. Did I mention each skein is over 400m of yummy yarn?

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

I love having finish-itis

The llama is done. The two priority projects on which I've been working for months are finished and ready to go. This pleases me immensely.

I'm having tremendous bursts of energy thanks to having finished them. I worked on the silk half-hexagon from Victorian Lace Today. I worked on the never-ending black shawl. I cast on for the tessellating fish blanket. I cast on for a one-skein scarf. I'm working on the Jaywalker. It's as though I've suddenly been freed from the pressure of deadline knitting and can get back to properly enjoying myself. I like it.

The fish blanket is extremely cool. It takes me about 45 minutes to make one fish, and not very much yarn. (I'm in the process of figuring out exactly how much yarn it takes.) It's also fun, simply because each fish is such a quick finish. I'm planning to just use all of the worsted weight acrylic and make a rainbow fish blanket. It'll be cool.

The scarf may end up being a Christmas present for someone if I finish it. Or I might just keep it. Who knows!

Monday, 12 November 2007

What a weekend!

I'm most of the way through what has turned into an incredibly productive 3-day weekend. It has been a blast!

First of all, Saturday. I did in fact finish the Dr Who scarf. It's all done, ends sewn in, tassels added, done. 7 partial balls of yarn and one complete ball of yarn left over, which is not too bad. For a while I thought I was going to have 3 complete balls left over, but that was before I started cutting the fringe. I have decided that another scarf would be too ugly for words, so the remnants are going to have to be turned into something else. Not sure what yet.

A second post will follow with the rest of what I've done - as soon as I finish doing it!

Friday, 9 November 2007

2.5! 2.5!!!!!!!

I am going to finish this sucker tomorrow. End of. Fortunately, the Spouse and I are planning an evening in tonight in front of a dvd (Pan's Labyrinth), so I shall get most of the knitting done this evening. That'll just leave the fringe and the sewing of ends for tomorrow.

Must remember to charge the camera batteries tonight so that I can document the scarf.

Then I'm going to make a pair of legwarmers so I don't freeze while walking to work in the mornings. More acrylic to use up! Woohoo!

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Two down...

...just under 4 to go. I also sewed in some ends and started cutting fringe today. I've been very careful to save the ends when I've finished a ball of yarn, especially with the beige stuff, because I am running very close to the edge with having enough for the fringe. So after finishing the last beige stripe, I decided to pause in the knitting and cut my remnants into fringe. I'm in the clear.

And cutting and attaching fringe is exceedingly dull, so getting a headstart while I'm still in uber-finishing mode is a good thing. I may sit and cut fringe when I get home tonight.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Woohoo!

I finished two more stripes last night! Go me! Only 6 left, and then some ends to weave in and a fringe.

I had a moment of sheer apathy last night, though. It was weird. I was looking at all my yarn, all my projects, and I just wasn't interested in knitting. Not even starting a new project. Very strange.

Still. The hope now is to get this beast finished by the end of Saturday. Then I can get it all wrapped up and put away until next month.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Racing for the finish line

I am partway through stripe 1 of the last 8 on Dr Who. I can taste victory, and it is yarn-flavoured. The remaining yarn is going to become a skinny colour-block mini-Who scarf, and the whole ball of the green stuff is going to become a secret Christmas present. If there are leftovers from that, it too can go into the mini-scarf.

The Jaywalker is slowing down, partly because I'm in a scarf-finishing frenzy, and partly because the gusset decreases are taking frickin' forever. I still love the sock and the pattern, but there are an awful lot of decreases.

The other advantage to finishing up Dr Who is that I'm signed up for NaNoWriMo this month, and I really ought to be writing. Thankfully, I can make good time on that while sitting at the Issue Desk at work, when I really can't be knitting. And I have the day off next Monday. Hopefully for writing, since hopefully the scarf will be done!

Friday, 2 November 2007

It's not a heel, it's a life-skill

I sat down with my sock after eating my ever-so-tasty bowl of Sainsbury's tomato soup and had a problem. Not with the knitting, that was fine. No, my problem was with reading the pattern. Those notes that you sometimes get suggesting that you highlight your chosen size? Very good idea. See, my Jaywalkers are the larger size, which meant that when starting to turn the heel, I had to knit across 20 (22) stitches. So I knit across 20. Oops.

Result of this was painstakingly figuring out exactly what I'd done (thank goodness for my obsession with symmetry), figuring out how to do it backwards, then holding my breath and pulling out the needles. I'm glad my yarn is as grippy as it is. 15 minutes and no dropped stitches later, my sock is back on the needles, the heel started, and I have learned how to do something completely new and exciting.

Learning how to fix it when you screw up is a tremendous feeling. I'm kinda glad I messed up now!

I shall finish turning the heel when I get home this evening.

Houston, we have progress

I've now finished the last big stripe of Dr Who, and I'm picking up speed again. I've completed 3.5 stripes since Sunday, and only have 10.5 stripes left! Woohoo! This weekend should be good for getting more done - I'm hoping to get at least half of the 32-row stripe done, as well as the preceding few.

The Jaywalker is also going nicely. I finished the heel flap before I came into work this morning. I should get the heel turned and the gusset stitches picked up by the time I get home from work tonight. And I'm going to a party tomorrow night, which means a couple of hours knitting on the Underground!

It's so nice to only be working on projects that I actually like and enjoy. Very liberating.