Wednesday, 31 December 2008

A year of needlework

2008 has rocked on the making front. 47 finished projects, some started this year, some started a long time ago. Rather fittingly, the last two projects of the year are my oldest and newest! I had hoped to squeeze in the second Rock and Weave sock, but decided that there were other things I wanted to do more.

So, the breakdown. In 2008 I finished:
  • 2 embroideries
  • 4 baby projects
  • 6 hats
  • 3 shawls
  • 8 scarves
  • 7 pairs of socks
  • 4 pairs of fingerless gloves
  • 2 'home' projects
  • 6 pieces of garb
  • 5 'other'
I have 8 WIPs, more yarn than I started with, and many, many plans for the year to come. I'm joining Mission:Possible again, but this time I'm having a much more general list.

1-4: Socks for me. I'd really like to get to a point where I have enough handknit socks that I don't have to wear store socks unless I want to.
5: A sweater. Either for me or the hub, but I want to knit more real clothing.
6: The ripple afghan. Bored now, would like to finish.
7-9: Shawls for me. I have a ton of yarn designated for shawls, I should really knit some.
10-12: Gift knitting from my 2 bags of gift yarn.

These projects can include WIPs, since my other knitting goal for 2009 is to get all of my WIPs finished.

Additionally, I'd like to finish at least one major piece of embroidery and make more garb, since we're going to more events now. Especially summerweight garb and stuff appropriate to my persona.

I find that I'm much more picky about yarn purchases now. I still enjoy shopping, but I tend to only get things that I know I'll knit. I suspect that most of 2009's yarn will be from the sock club membership my grandmother gave me (thanks Grammy!), and for the Christmas stockings I want to make for the hub and myself. I've also been destashing some stuff that I know I'm never going to knit with. The cotton is pretty much all gone, because it hurts my hands. The remaining acrylic is going to become granny squares when I'm between big projects, eventually being turned into a second cushion.

Here's to 2009!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Spitting distance

That's how close I am to finishing my poetry sampler. And the first of my Rock and Weave Socks. The sock I plan to finish over my lunch hour today (and then cast on number 2), and the sampler I will finish tomorrow. Because tomorrow is the first day of my vacation! Woohoo! I'm off until the 5th of January, so I have high hopes of getting lots of needlework and reading done. The plan is to finish this pair of socks, spend the rest of 2008 working on WIPs, and then start crocheting my friend's wedding dress on January 1. And start knitting a pair of socks for the hub.

It's been a pretty busy and productive year. Lots and lots of finished projects, lots of learning, swaps, destashing, stash enhancement, Ravelry, first lace shawl, all sorts! I shall do a complete breakdown on New Year's Eve, since hub has to work that day. (I'm planning to use the days of vacation when he's working to do lots of knitting and blogging so that I can really dive into spending time with him while he's at home. It's all good.)

My lovely brother gave us an early Christmas present which will benefit the blog - a new digital camera! The old one was fine, but this one is amazing. All sorts of bells and whistles, and it takes really good close-up pics. This also means that I can photograph our celebrations so that my family can see what we get up to.

There probably won't be a great deal of blogging from now until the New Year, so have lovely holidays!

Monday, 15 December 2008

The people for whom I knit

There seems to be a general assumption that knitters make things primarily for other people. Perhaps because of the steroetypical mental image of the doting grandmother churning out mittens and sweaters and christening robes for their grandchildren, perhaps not. There is also a fair degree of criticism aimed at knitters who knit for themselves, which is rather unfair in my opinion. After all, most people who have creative hobbies don't do it to make gifts for others, they do it for themselves.

Probably half of what I make is for me, and the rest is gifts, intentionally or otherwise. (Sometimes projects just belong to someone else even if they weren't supposed to!) The biggest difficulty for me is balancing the time I spend on each kind of knitting.

My mother is certainly my favourite person to knit for. She likes lots of different kinds of knitwear, and is knowledgeable enough about textiles to be able to tell me exactly what she does and desn't like. She also has similar taste to mine in many things, which means that knitting things for her is fun and not a form of purgatory. (Dr Who Scarf, anyone???) Consequently mum gets most of my knitted gifts. In fact, I have an entire carrier bag full of yarn that is all destined to become mum projects!
My grandmother is a fun person to knit for as well. I haven't knitted much for her yet, but she's loved it all. The trouble with knitting for grammy is that she lives in the South, where it never really gets cold enough for proper knitting...

Various friends get odd things, when I feel like it mostly. I've got a couple lined up for the next few months, including the Holy Grail of yarnery - a crocheted wedding dress. That needs to be finished ASAP, so I'll be spending a lot of my Christmas holiday working on it. I'd like to have it completely done by the end of February at the latest so that the Mother-of-the-Bride has plenty of time to assemble and sew in the lining fabric. (My dressmaking skills are not up to improvising a dress lining, sadly.) And quite a few friends will barter with me. That's rather more satisfying, because I like it when people realize exactly how many hours of my life have gone into making garment x.

My little brother, dearly though I love him, will not be getting my knits. His taste in sweaters is even more boring than mine, he doesn't wear hats, scarves, gloves or mittens, doesn't use anything that requires a cozy, and would destroy a pair of socks faster than I could knit them. Perhaps someday if he decides he needs an ironic teacozy, I'll make him one. Although he was talking about a felted slipcover for his flatscreen TV...

And then there is my husband. Bless him, he loves my needlework. Wears all the garb that I sew for him, thinks my granny square cushion is the best and wants another one, is convinced that socks are too clever for words and doesn't mind the yarn stash. He'd love lots of my knits to wear all the time. Which is great, don't get me wrong. Socks? Fine - we have the same sized feet, so it's no worse than knitting for myself. And he likes hiking socks, so I can make them with worsted instead of fingering. Scarves? He wears the one I crocheted back when we were dating every winter and loves it. He doesn't really need another one. He doesn't wear hats, which is good because his head is enormous. He doesn't do gloves or mittens, although I keep finding patterns for colourwork mittens that he squees over.
No, the problem with my husband is the sweaters. He loves sweaters. He generates a lot of body heat, so will often be running around in winter with just a pullover while I'm shivering in a coat, hat and scarf, so he needs lots. Trouble is, he's a natural fibers man. I made the mistake of picking up some dress shirts once that were a poly/cotton blend and he wore them exactly once before ditching them in favour of some horrifically expensive 100% cotton ones. This would be fine if he didn't wear a L/E-L in sweaters - that much wool is expensive! Plus, it's really hard to find superwash wool in a worsted weight, and I refuse to handwash his sweaters, since they need washing so often.
There's just one other issue. I've married someone who seems to be the only spouse in the entire world of knitting who LOVES really complex Aran sweaters. This would be wonderful, if only I liked knitting cables! They are gorgeous to look at, but so tedious to knit. I showed him a very stylish sweater with a sigle panel of thin cables up the centre - "It's too plain, couldn't you make me one with lots of plaited cables?" Kudos to him for knowing what a plaited cable is, but yeesh!

Ah well. I love him dearly and wouldn't swap him for anything. I will knit him a sweater one of these days, but for now - he's getting a stockinette stitch iPod cozy for Christmas.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Christmas! Other half and I had a lovely and productive weekend of cleaning and organizing, resulting in a much emptier office and a new arrangement of furniture. My dining table is no longer a home to armies, my teapot collection is out and useable, and my Christmas tree has a home.

The pile on the floor is books that I found in the office that I need to read and return to the library at some point. I'm hoping that having them out will make me take breaks from knitting to read. Maybe. :D

The ornaments on the tree are a rather special collection. It's our first tree, in honour of our first Christmas at our own home rather than either set of parents. Some of the ornaments are from my childhood, bargained away from my mother. Like the gold harp from a family holiday in Scotland, or the Pisces disc that I made in pottery class and which matches the ones I made for the rest of my family. Some are from friends. The angel topping the tree, for instance, was a gift from my best friend. She gave it to me when I went on my year abroad, to remind me of home and keep me safe while travelling. And there are the newest ones, the Hallmark ornaments that are from my mother and grandmother in honour of our marriage. It's a very special tree, and I think that it's good to start our own holiday traditions while keeping the old ones.

I'd like to make a tradition of holiday swaps on Ravelry for certain! I received a parcel in the post the other day from my Posh Secret Santa, and it was lovely! Beautifully wrapped in coloured tissue and brown twine, and smelling gorgeous. A set of pattern tamers, long strips of magnet with ribbon attached to keep my paper patterns from escaping in the breeze. A bottle of perfume and a bottle of gorgeous bodywash for pampering myself. And some badges and bubble solution, just for fun! My swappee has her parcel, but is saving it for Christmas. I hope she enjoys hers as much as I do mine.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Another state of the WIPs

I really, really dislike having so many projects on the go. I just ripped one the other day, but cast on something else. Finished 2 projects for Christmas, but one gave me leftovers and the other was tiny and never got photographed. ARGH!

So, as a note to myself, here are ALL of my WIPs. Oldest first.
  • The Coatigan. Needs 1.5 sleeves and a collar, plus some seaming. I could almost certainly finish this in a weekend if I sat down to work on it properly.
  • Ripple Bedspread. About 1/3 done. It goes quickly when I work on it, but I rarely do more than a few stitches in the evenings. I may bring this out as my tv-watching project.
  • Pomatomus Socks. I am actually working on these on and off. I finished the gusset of the first sock a few days ago, but haven't worked up the energy to do the foot.I'll finish them someday!
  • Silky Mittens. These are on hold. I only cast them on out of frustration, and I don't really need them urgently. And they are a bit boring, if quick.
  • Leafy Manos Hat. I packed this away while tidying, which was a mistake. I could probably finish it in an evening. In fact, I might work on it tomorrow morning before work and see if I can get it done this weekend.
  • Mum's Wool Peddler Shawl. I'm working on it. It's a whole bunch of garter stitch for a good long while yet, so not hugely interesting.
  • Rock and Weave Socks. I love these tremendously. They are in my bag waiting for a dinner break, in fact. I'm slightly putting off really working on them because I will need tofind buttons at some point.
  • Test Mittens. These have thoroughly been tested now, so there's no rush to finish. I had to rip out most of the first mitten because it was too small, so they are hibernating until I can face reknitting all that colourwork.
  • Replacement Noro Triangle. I had a cast-on itch, so succumbed. I'll work on it when I'm finished with some of the other stuff.
  • Gifts for people who read my blog. Yeah, so not giving away what those are!

Actually only 2 really old projects. Everything else is from this summer or later. But there are many, and they are annoying me. And most of them require 2 items to be knit, for such is the nature of the mitten and the sock.

Perhaps I shall restrain myself by not allowing myself to cast on the beautiful tangerine-coloured laceweight I got in the post this morning until all of these WIPs are done...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Getting back to normal

I've finished all of my obligatory holiday knitting and posted it. I'm posting the second of my holiday swap parcels later today. And all the bits of the mittens that needed testing have been knit. I can now work on anything I like! Yay!

The cool thing about Christmas swaps is that once you've had all the fun of assembling, wrapping and posting one to an unsuspecting fellow crafter, you get one back for yourself! I've had a parcel from the first swap, and it's now sitting under my Christmas tree looking all smug and mysterious. The plan is to open it on the 6th for St Nicholas' Day. It is a European swap, after all. Haven't had the second parcel yet, but then the posting deadline isn't until the 15th. It's so exciting!

I'm currently working on getting as much off the needles as possible. We're having a Solstice party with lots of people coming over, and I'd like as much stuff done and out of the way as possible. No mulled wine on my spinning wheel, thank you very much.

I've started a new project, one that's just for me. My mum fell in love with my green Noro Triangle, so I gave it to her. She got me some replacement yarn to make a new one - more Noro - so I thought it was high time I got to work. I finished the last one in a week, but I'll be happy to have this one done by the end of the month so I can wear it over the holidays.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Actual Knitting Content!

I took the test mittens to a SCA event yesterday, where happily one of my friends showed up with a camera! So, for your viewing pleasure, a front and a back of a partially finished stranded mitten.

The blue thing is a stitch holder for where I'm putting the thumb later.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Holidays getting in the way of blogging

I am deep in the throes of marathon Christmas/Yule/non-denominational winter festivity knitting and crocheting. Thankfully, I'm half a sock away from everything that needs to be mailed overseas being done, so I should (fingers crossed) get that done by the end of the month.

I'm taking a slight detour from holiday knits at the moment, though. Dee, purveyor of my favourite yarn in the world, designed some mittens a while ago. Everyone loved them, so she decided to dye up 5 different colourways and sell them as kits. Unexpected financial problems meant that I wasn't going to buy one, so I'd resigned myself to waiting until the pattern was available next year and coming up with some other yarn. Except, of course, that patterns need test-knitters before they can be given out - so I volunteered! I'm currently partway through the ribbed cuff of the first mitten, looking forward to starting the stranded hand. I picked the colourway Bonfire, which is shades of orange and brown and looks just like you'd expect. And when they're done, I get to keep them! Yay!

Since my blog has been rather boring of late, I thought I'd post some photos of what are going to be the last stash acquisitions for a while. They're none of them recent - it's everything from the time my camera died!

This little lot is all stuff that my mother bought for me to turn into something for her. Some Jitterbug for socks, though I haven't yet picked a pattern. Some Mirasol Hacho, destined to become a pair of Broadripples. Several skeins of Cascade 220 Wool, destined to become several things! The mauve and pink are going to be a shawl for my mum, which I've already started knitting. (And put down because there's no way it's going to be done in time for Christmas!) The purple was intended as a hat - and I've made it! There's still nearly half a skein left, so I'm planning to make a second hat at some point in the future.

Mum also got me a gorgeous skein of Jitterbug for myself. I have no idea what I'm going to make with it, but right now I'm perfectly content to just pet it.

More later - don't want to use up all my photos at once!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

An early Christmas present for me

From my grandmother, who absolutely rocks. She came over to visit for my little brother's graduation at the end of October and decided to do a bit of shopping while here.

On her first full day she joined me and my reenactment friends on a fabric expedition to Walthamstowe Market. It was good, we shopped, but that wasn't our only destination. We also made a trip to the Handweavers' Studio, a nirvana of fibery yumminess. I had never been there, but thought I might get myself a new drop spindle that's heavier than the one I already had. Well, I was looking at the spindles when my grandmother called me over and asked what I thought of the wheels.

You can probably guess where this is going.

I tried out an Ashford Kiwi, loved it, thought it was wonderful. This now lives in my living room.

I've got it all set up, and once I finish my Christmas knitting I plan to throw myself into spinning the bag of fiber I have ready to go. (I also got several sample packs of different fibers to try out, including some camel! Yum!) For right now I'm practicing treadling and getting to know the wheel.

If anyone has any name suggestions, now's a good time to throw them out!

Monday, 10 November 2008


I finished the purple hat last night. It's blocking, although I really need a bigger plate to stretch it over! I still have quite a lot of the yarn left, so I may be able to get a second hat out of the same skein. I'm really pleased with the pattern - it knits up much more quickly than I was expecting, especially since I was knitting the larger version!

Still no darning needle. I really need to go get one, but it's a question of finding the time!

I cast on for another Christmas present this morning, but it's a secret...

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Christmas swaps are fun!

I'm really enjoying coming up with creative ways to spoil my swappees, but it makes for rather boring blogging - I can't tell you what I'm getting/making in case they read about it!

I can mention the new hat I've started. It's a present for my mum's best friend. A lovely deep purple, and happily I had the requisite circular needle to start immediately! And I went shopping this morning to get the other needles I need for my holiday knitting, so feeling quite pleased about that. Halloween Monkeys continue apace. I'm knitting the toe of number one this evening, and will be taking number two with me for the weekend. (Reenactment events tend to allow lots of time for crafting.)

Sock progress, indeed knitting progress in general, has be somewhat delayed by the disappearance of my darning needle. Not a major incident, one might think, but This was a special darning needle. I used it to sew in the ends on my very first knitting project, and all subsequent projects! I've had it for years now, and suddenly it decides to disappear. Very annoying. And this morning the yarn shop was sold out of darning needles, so I'll have to wait until Sunday at the earliest to buy new ones at the sewing shop. Grrrrr.

Monday, 3 November 2008


Ok, I think I need to do a motto sampler that says "Too much sewing and not enough stretching makes the Knitting Fiend hurt lots." Yes, once again I have managed to embroider myself into a serious neck-and-shoulder knot. Thank goodness for hot baths and neck rubs.

The upside is that I managed to get loads done on the poetry sampler this weekend. I'm nearly done with the cross-stitch parts and have made good inroads on the backstitching. Although I'm 99% certain I'm going to need another skein of Claret to finish. Fortunately my friendly neighbourhood needlework shop carries Gentle Art Sampler Threads!

I also cast on for a new project on Friday evening. Mum has been after the Wool Peddler's Shawl from Folk Shawls for a while now, and since there was a secondhand copy on Amazon for cheap she bought the book and had it sent to me. It came on Friday, and since we'd already gotten the yarn I saw no point in delaying! It's a very basic triangle shawl - garter stitch for about half of it, then an arrowhead lace pattern for the second half. And the edging is just more garter stitch, so I can knit the lace pattern until I run out of yarn. This makes me very happy, as I won't have to find something to do with the leftovers!

Stitch 'n' Bitch tonight will see me working away on the Halloween Monkeys while eating birthday cake. A friend is celebrating, so I've made chocolate indulgence for her, complete with frosting! Mmmmmm...

Thursday, 30 October 2008

something new

One of the other nice things about mum visiting is that she brought over 3 of my partially completed embroidery projects. (And no, we won't be discussing how many partial embroidery projects I have.) These 3 were my favourites. One is just a plain piece of counted cross stitch, a picture of Henry the 8th and his 6 wives. Remarkable only because it is the very first project I ever purchased entirely on my own.

There's a bellpull spot sampler that is so complicated I need supervision for parts of it. (I've never done any fancy hemstitching before, nor worked with hardware for finishing.) It has the first few lines of one of my favourites poems:

"What is this life, if, full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare?"

I like it because taking time to look around is really important to me. Plus the sampler is gorgeous. :D

The third is an alphabet sampler with a verse backstitched around the edge. The gist of it is "Read me poems, it makes me happy". I worked about half of this in a week a few Christmases ago and then just put it away. It's silk on cream-coloured linen, and I just thought it was a bad thing to have in a dorm and then in a student shared house. But now that I have my own home and my only roommate is my (mostly) responsible and careful spouse, I decided that it was time to finally finish it. So, this morning before I went to work, I mounted it in my stretcher frame, found all the silks, remembered how the pattern went, and started working! It's even quicker than I'd remembered, though that may have something to do with the 6 years of intervening needlework experience... I'd like to get a good chunk of it done this weekend, and hopefully I could finish it in time for Christmas!

In other news, I got two parcels in the post this morning. I've been doing a bit more swapping on Ravelry, and received 2 skeins of Regia sock yarn in a lovely mottled red/orange, complete with DPNs to knit them with. I also got 2 balls of ivory Kidsilk Haze. Amusingly, these are exactly the same colour as the 2 I found for half price at John Lewis the other day. So, now I have enough ivory KHS to make a really good-sized shawl. Now, to figure out which pattern I want to knit...

Thursday, 23 October 2008

I step away for 5 minutes to live my life...

...and suddenly it's been a week since I updated my blog! Oops! Major happenings on the needlework scene, some of which need their own post. So, a rundown of the minor things.

I still have no camera. This is annoying, but since little brother (who graduated yesterday! Woohoo!) seems to want to buy me one for Christmas, I am going to struggle through without one for a little while longer. However, mum is staying over this weekend and I have high hopes of taking a big batch of photos that I can dole out over the next few weeks.

I've done a bit of shopping. The reenactment group took a trip to Walthamstowe Market to look for garb fabric. I came away with 2 lots of fabric, both courtesy of my mother, and both for the same outfit! A while ago I swapped some yarn from my stash for some lovely rose-coloured cotton fabric. Only trouble was, there wasn't enough to make a full gown from. So I've now acquired some paler pink cotton and some white linen that is all going to be turned into a bodice-and-skirt number. I'm hoping to cut that out this weekend.

I also came home with 2 more giant balls of wool/acrylic to make sweater for the hub, courtesy of Grandmother. It's his favourite colour and I don't make him nearly as much stuff as I should.

There was one other thing that happened that day, shopping-wise, but it gets its own post!

Weaving Friend has now received her turquoise mitts and seems to love them. I'm glad she's happy. I'm gladder that they are out of my flat! (I've been in a bit of a purge mode recently.) Also gave Mum her garters, as well as giving her my Noro Triangle Shawl. She loves the colours, and while I really like it they are definitely more her than me. I've been promised a replacement skein of Noro Sock to make another in my colours.

While on a brief mission to John Lewis, I found 2 skeins of Kidsilk Haze in the remnants bin on half price. Needless to say, they now live with me. I'm rather pleased with them because I've just swapped for 2 more skeins of the same colourway - I'll have enough to make a sweater! Plus Mum found some gorgeous yarn that I am to turn into a pair of socks at some point in the future. I'm thinking Broadripples, personally.

Other needlework news - I finished my Wise Monkeys. They fit, are comfy, and have already been worn so are in the laundry hamper. I've decided that I don't really like the red tunic I started making for Hub last year, so I've ripped out a bunch and am going to finish it and donate it to the Shire guest basket. I finished another stripe of my bedspread last night, which is very pleasing. Halloween Monkeys are now the designated handbag sock, while the Poms are going to be my at home in the evening project. I really just want them finished and off the knitting table! Once those three projects are done, I'm seriously considering resurrecting the Coatigan. Mostly because it takes up a ton of space, and I'd really like to be able to wear it someday.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Planning for next year

Yes, it's early to be planning, but I have time to think right now and I might not later! So, planning it is.

I am nowhere near being down to 60 balls of yarn as I'd originally hoped, and it doesn't look like I'll be getting there by the end of the year. Karma swaps are certainly helping, though - I've gotten rid of 12 balls this month and only brought in 2! (I also got a book, but knitting books don't count as stash.) I am, of course, still knitting and hooking away, so there will be a further reduction before the year finishes.

As I realized earlier this year, I have enough yarn to make about 50 projects. That being the case, I am going to attempt 2 months of knitting exclusively from the stash in January and February. Depending on how that goes, I'll hopefully continue to do that for 2-month blocks. There is a project I've committed to knitting that will require a purchase of yarn (one of my reenactment friends needs some stockings), but other than that I don't have anything planned that needs new yarn.

Mission:Possible is coming back for another round in 2009, so I will be joining that again. I've got a few projects that I've absolutely committed to, so I thought I might as well post the tentative list here!
1. S's wedding dress. Yes, one of my friends is getting married and has chosen a crocheted wedding dress - a backless 40s style number in green Alpaca Silk. Yum! I'll be starting that as soon as the yarn arrives, but I am quite sure that I will still be working on it next year.
2. Gansey for the husband. I have decided that until I know exactly what he will and will not wear, I'm going to make a Gansey rather than an Aran sweater. Half the yarn, half the time. Plus he doesn't have nearly enough sweaters. This will be using the giant balls of cream wool I got last year.
3. A shawl using my Sundara silk laceweight. I haven't decided which one yet, although I'm leaning heavily towards the Icarus Shawl from the Best of Interweave Knits. (Really ought to pick up a copy of that book!)
4. Stockings for Reenacting Friend. Need to get about 200g of black fingering weight silk/wool for these - I'm leaning towards Regia Silk. I can get that here in London, so not a problem.
5. Swan Lake Stole. This was the Mystery Stole that I signed up for ages ago and never knit because I didn't have the right yarn. Well, I have the right yarn and the right beads, so I'm good to go!
6. and 7. 2 pairs of socks for me which are NOT MONKEYS! Enough with the Monkeys already! :D
8. Cabled gloves for the husband. I've been promising these for over a year, I really need to just make them.
9. Scraps. I have a lot of yarn left over from various projects, so I would like to make something exclusively from scrap yarn. Hub is rather enamoured of my granny square pillow, so I might just make another one.
10. Shawl for Reenacting Friend. Assuming that I don't end up making it this year, I'll be doing another Shetland Triangle with the Kauni yarn I got last month.
11. and 12. - No idea yet. Will wait until inspiration strikes!

I will hopefully be attending iKnit Day and the Knitting and Stitching Show next year, so would like to have lots knitted up by then so as to allow guilt-free shopping! (I didn't make it to the Knitting and Stitching Show this weekend thanks to a miserable cold. Boo.)

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

slowly, slowly

I thought originally that September was going to be the insane month. Foolish person that I am, I'd forgotten that it doesn't get really crazy until the middle of October! So, work is insane and I'm not doing huge amounts of knitting or other needlework right now. I'm halfway finished with the second of my stripey Monkeys, and I have high hopes of being done with them by the end of the weekend. Once those are done, I will move over onto the Halloween Monkeys and the first Pomatomus sock. The Poms and my ripple bedspread are my only remaining Mission:Possible projects once I've finished the sock I'm working on now, so achieving my goal is definitely doable.

I will confess to having a fit of sock loathing over the weekend, though. I just couldn't bear to look at those needles any more! So I cast on for a pair of mittens. Mitered Mittens, by Elizabeth Zimmerman. I'm not a huge fan of her instructions (note - not her patterns, her patterns rock!), but these instructions are not too bad. Of course, the fact that the pattern is utterly basic might have something to do with that! So, at some point this winter I will be producing a pair of sage green silk mittens. Yummy.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Keeping up and branching out

One of the wonderful results of being a knitter with an internet connection is the online knitting community. I've come in contact with many fabulous people, discovered new sources of yarn and equipment and learned lots of new things about knitting, fiber, and life in general. It's great!

Ravelry in particular has been a real eye-opener. I'm not a people-person by nature (in fact given the opportunity I'd never talk to another stranger face-to-face again!), but suddenly I am confronted by 'my' kind of people. Uber-geeks who think that knitting messages in binary code is just the coolest thing ever. Other 20-somethings who are trying to live simply in a chaotic world. Gamers. Cooks. Wannabe gardeners who live in inner-city apartments. Librarians who think that cataloguing their own books is a fun Saturday activity. Everything with which I identity, that makes me who I am, is shared by other knitters.

Finding so many interesting people has encouraged me to investigate other groups besides those dedicated to socks, books and geekery. To that end, I've recently joined a couple of swap groups. Both run on the karma principle of swapping - one person offers something (earning a nice point), someone claims it and offers something new, which is then claimed by someone else. And so on, until someone ends an offer chain by using a nice point. I've claimed a book and sent off some cotton yarn that I bought back before I knew what I was doing. And I've joined a Christmas exchange! You know for whom you're buying, but don't know who's buying for you. This swap is a knitting one, so it's supposed to include yarn. And I've just joined a second one, which is general nice-ness for Christmas rather than knitting-specific. Both of them have a spend budget, which is even better for those of us with limited resources. So over the next few weeks I shall be making things and raiding shops for interesting things to send my swap partners!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Yarn is yummy

I got a parcel with a skein of Posh Yarn Arabella in it yesterday. Arabella is a cobweb-weight merino/cashmere blend, and it is to die for. I just want to snuggle it like a little kitten. The colourway is called Wistful, and it is beautiful shades of grey and pale blue and silver. Yum! Now I just need to find a shawl pattern that is worthy.

That's the trouble with really nice yarn, you see. I have it, and then it is just to nice to knit with. What if I mess up the yarn? What if the pattern doesn't do it justice? This is why I hoard my Posh Yarn and make so much out of boring yarn. And is possibly why I take so long making things.

I've nearly finished the first of my stripey Monkeys. I've got part of one repeat and a rather short toe left to do, then I'll be good and cast on for the second sock. Much to my amusement (and dismay!) I took advantage of my sexy new knitting toy - a set of scales - and discovered that once I finish the second sock I will actually have enough yarn left to make an entire second pair of socks. Maybe I should train myself to like longer cuffs so that this doesn't happen again!

Friday, 3 October 2008

It's good to be a Knitter

I walk to and from work. It's about 35 minutes in either direction, so good exercise for me every day. Now that it's autumn in this hemisphere, my knitwear is really coming into its own. Last night I walked home bundled up in my Dr Who mitts, my Tapestry scarf and the red hat I made last year. Today I walked in wearing my Calorimetry and my tiger-ish Jitterbug socks. I am fantasizing about mittens, gloves and more hats. And let's be honest, more scarves. I really need more scarves. I don't yet have any made out of cashmere, for example. Shocking! :D

I realized this morning while doing my daily round of blog reading with breakfast that there is a reason my brain is telling me to make more socks. It's the 3rd of October. More accurately, it is the third day of Socktoberfest! I have never participated in this before, but I think that now is a good time to start. I have 3 pairs of socks on the go, plus another half-a-dozen or so that I want to cast on. I think that socks and I have a weird relationship, truth be told. I love wearing handknit socks. I love giving people handknit socks. I love the thought of knitting socks, and I love having socks in my bag to knit. I don't really like knitting socks. They get incredibly boring by the time I get to knitting the heel flap. I like the way toe-up socks fit, but all my favourite patterns are cuff-down and I'm too lazy to convert them. I could probably avert the heel flap boredom by using a different heel, but again there's the lazy factor. Oh well. I shall keep knitting socks, knit the occasional toe-up number when I'm going nuts over heel flaps, and be bored occasionally. It's better than not having handknit socks!

Monday, 29 September 2008

I wonder...

Periodically I go through phases of wanting to rip out many of my knitting projects. I wonder if it's connected to my lack of a camera. Perhaps not being able to show my progress makes me want to destroy it. Or maybe I'm just thinking too much after an afternoon of post-dentist napping. Who knows?

But yes, I have been frogging again. I ripped the Branching Out Scarf a while back. The pattern/yarn combo just wasn't working for me. I think I shall use the glove to make some mittens, because really, who doesn't need silk mittens?
I decided yesterday that I was going to just finish the heel of the neverending sock, since I was home alone with a pile o' yarn and Captain Jack Sparrow. So, I slogged and knit and picked up stitches and then disaster struck. The bloody pattern doesn't line up. I just spent 6 months of my life working on a sock that needs to have the pattern redone to be symmetrical. Oh, I ripped that puppy out. The sock is no more, I am not going to be attempting it again, and the yarn is in the corner thinking about what it's done.

There was one plus side to my discovery of vile misery. This sock was made from one of the skeins that got mauled by a puppy last Christmas, and had a break in it about 2 inches into the cuff. I ripped back to the unspliced join, eyeballed it, bound off and wound up with an instant coffee sleeve. I get tea and coffee from the Student Union Cafe where I work, and it comes in disposable cardboard cups. Rather than burn my hands instead of using the disposable sleeves, I've been meaning to knit up a few of my own out of sock yarn leftovers. I'd been putting it off because I really loathe swatching for something that small, but hey presto! 60 stitches of ribbing on 2.5mm needles fits perfectly. I have a new FO that is utterly practical, there are no more broken bits of yarn in my skein, and I don't have to work on the sock from hell anymore. I am a happy knitter.

In other news, I'm down to 3 active WIPs, and they are all socks. I finished my most recent garter stitch scarf on Sunday and gifted it to the hub. And because I finished something, I decided to cast on for something new. The plan was to use the Halloween sock yarn to make a shawl, but it's just too variegated. Mum likes socks, and so I cast on for more Monkeys. They fit everyone. Yes, I am working on 2 pairs of Monkeys and one pair of Pomatomus. Both patterns by Cookie A. Aren't I a good little junior stalker? :D

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Still no camera

I've finished the heel of Pomatomus the First. I've also picked up stitches for the gusset and started working on that. This sucker just gets more complicated the longer I work on it! I like it, though, and I'm definitely keeping it. Hopefully the second one won't be as much of a puzzle. It's now at a point where I can't carry it around with me (it won't fold to fit into my WIP tube), so it's going to be worked on at home until it's at a point I can carry it. For now, I'm working on the Monkeys. I still really love this pattern!

I seem to have lost the desire to work on my garter stitch scarf right now. That's ok. It's not taking up much room, and I've packed away most of my WIPs in preparation for a series of impending familial visits. This has resulted in lots of progress on things I want to get done, as has been demonstrated in the past!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Vexed... a good description of my current mental state. You see, my camera seems to have died. It'll switch on, but the viewfinder stays black and although you can take a picture, it, too, is black.

This is incredibly annoying, because I spent much of Sunday afternoon dyeing a skein of sock yarn pretty colours. Now that it's dry, I was hoping to take a photo of the skein, wind it, take a photo of it wound and maybe start knitting with it.

I was hoping to take a photo of the finished cuff of my Pomatomus sock. Nope.

My blog may get a bit dull until I either fix the camera or get a new one.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Many, many projects

So, I realized that I have quite a few projects that haven't been blogged about yet. But first, I have a FO to show off! Yesterday I spent a couple of hours in a coffee shop with friends and discovered that the mitts I was making for Weaving Friend were very nearly done. So while watching NCIS last night I just finished them. They fit nicely, and since we have the same sized arms they should fit her. Very easy - cast on 48 stitches, K2p2 rib until you get to the thumb, BO 8 stitches and work in rib until the hand's long enough.

The best part, other than making something nice for a good friend, is that I barely broke into the second ball of yarn. So I'll definitely have enough to make the pair of gloves for myself that I'd originally intended with the yarn!

Since I finished a project, I decided that the time was right to start another one. This is actually better than it sounds, because this is one of my Mission:Possible projects. I'd originally meant to make a pair of Anne-trelac socks with this yarn. However, through reading around on Ravelry I discovered that the ankles are very baggy on most people. Since I find most normal socks way too baggy in the ankles anyway (darned skinny ankles) I decided to cut my losses and make another pair of Monkeys. Yes, this is the third pair I've made this year. But they fit perfectly, they are inutterably comfortable, they look good, and I've memorized the pattern. Oh, and for some reason they are totally adictive to knit. I'm falling back on my bribery method of knitting as a result. "Finish a couple inches of scarf, knit Monkeys. Work on sock of doom, knit Monkeys." Et cetera.

My Branching Out scarf finally got started at the beginning of this month too. Since Summer of Socks ended on the 1st of September, I decided to rearrange the stash so that the stuff for projects in my immediate queue was out. These skeins had been hanging around since my birthday, and I really wanted to knit them up. Ironically, now that I've got it underway I'm thinking that it may not actually be what I want to do with them. I'm not really liking the tweed with lace effect much.

Finally, this is, yes, you guessed it, another garter stitch scarf. For anyone who's been wondering what I do with all the scarves I make - I wear them. Of all the ones I've made, I've only given away about 4. And 2 of those were fun fur and one was a special request. Every single other scarf gets worn by me. I wear them almost every day, especially now that it's getting colder. But given that this is London, it's rarely warm enough that I don't carry a scarf around with me just in case. I always have a pair of mitts and a hat with me, and I carry a scarf 9 days out of 10. I find that I just get cold, and even if I'm not cold enough for a coat, a scarf is a marvellous this to wrap 'round me. I spent much of July and August in scarves.
Since I wear them so often, I need lots in many colours and styles to suit my mood. Scarves are fabulous!

Saturday, 20 September 2008


This morning the post came, and two lots of things that I had ordered arrived with it! The first parcel only came from Reading. I ordered it on Thursday from Scandinavian Knitting Design, an online company that stocks, umm, Scandinavian yarns and patterns. A friend found them, ordered a bunch of stuff and recommended them to me, so I went to have a look at their website. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that they stock Kauni yarn! This stuff is very, very cool. It has unusually long colour repeats and was made famous when the Yarn Harlot knit a rainbow cardigan from it. I've been thinking about knitting a variation of the cardigan for a while now (in better colours, of course), but was loath to try and buy it from a Danish website. Finding it available in the UK was a real treat. So I've now got one skein of the black/purple/grey colourway that I'm going to turn into a shawl for a good friend. This was another one of those cases of trying out one skein of a new yarn before committing to a sweater's-worth. And it was also my last earned skein from the Stashalong!

Of course, I couldn't just get a single ball of yarn. I went to their sale section and was thrilled to find some lovely shawl pins. Since I seem to be going nuts for shawls right now, it made sense to get something to replace the DPN I'd been using instead.

The other parcel came from the US and was some yarn that I'd ordered a while back when I unexpectedly came into a bit of money. I'd been looking for some Halloween yarn online and found this seller on Etsy. She had a collection of monster-themed sock yarn that looked really fun - so I bought it! It arrived today and is just great. Frankentwined is purple and green and is probably my favourite of the lot. I'll be making some socks out of it, once I can find a worthy pattern. Monster Stash is probably going to become a pair of Rock 'n' Weave Socks. I love this pattern and have been looking for something to make it in for a while. Bestitched may wait, since I don't know what it will suit. And Socks o'Lantern is going to be turned into a Halloween shawl for my mum, using the same pattern that my Noro Triangle did.

What fun! Must finish up some other stuff first, though. There may be a few new-ish projects that haven't yet been blogged about...

Friday, 19 September 2008

Tortoise and Hare knitting

I have been thinking recently about how long it takes me to knit projects. I have it in my head, you see, that I'm a slow knitter. Recent events have demonstrated that I can in fact knit an entire decently-sized shawl in a week, which is not slow. And yet, I have some projects that are just taking forever, even though they are not that big or complicated. Let's have a look at my long-term projects, shall we?
First up is my coatigan. It's chunky yarn on 9mm needles. This goes at a rate of knots when I'm working on it. Therein of course lies the catch - when I'm working on it. I need to do a load of number-crunching to make the sleeves work, and it's tedious. The whole thing is too big to carry around, and when I'm at home I mostly want to work on simple things I can do while carrying on a conversation, listening to the radio or watching tv. So my poor coatigan gets left in its bag hibernating. I'm also not entirely sure that once it's finished I'll have the nerve to wear it. I love the colours and I love the way it fits (currently - I don't know how the sleeves will fit yet!), but it is very loud. At least compared to the rest of my wardrobe. I started it in April last year and have knit many, many projects to completion since then.
Next oldest project is actually my ripple bedspread. I started it in November last year. Its only crime is being big, heavy and hot. I got ill right after starting it and could only just manage the weight of a sock on my abdomen. By the time I'd recovered, it was too hot to sit around under a blanket. It's actually making steady progress because it lives next to my bed and gets worked on when I'm waiting for the spouse to wind down his stuff in the evening. As the weather gets cooler I'll be able to work on this more. Of course, I can't do too much crocheting at a time as it hurts my wrists.
Everything else is from this year. A pair of socks that I started in May. I can't make myself finish the heel flap. Seriously. I finished the entire cuff in 4 days and have been working on the heel flap since the 20th of May. It's so frickin' boring!
A pillow that needs decisions made about its buttonholes.
A Pomatomus sock that is starting to bore me as well. I've figured out how the pattern works, so I can just get on with it. However, now that I've figured out the pattern, it's an entire 72-stitch sock in 1x1 twisted rib.

Basically, I can knit quite quickly. But if the project is either boring, weather-inappropriate or needing more concentration that I want to provide? Well, it's going to end up just hanging around not getting much done on it. The big projects are the worst. The socks, at least, I can force myslf to work on by relying on them as my handbag knitting. The coatigan is a bit scuppered in that respect.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Mosses and lichens

Back when I was at school, I had a thing for botany. My biology teacher would provide me with woodland manuals, field guides, advanced textbooks... Anything, as long as it had stuff about plants in it. I abandoned my love of botany at A-Level because I really didn't want to have to study anything else in the biology lab. Practical experiments are not my thing, for lots of reasons.

What does this have to do with any form of needlework? Well, when I showed this to my husband, he commented that it was all the colours of lichen. And mosses and lichens were always my favourites.

Of course, if you look at it from this angle, you can just see the fabulous egg-carton effect of unblocked lace.

After a good bath and a rinse with hair conditioner*, my somewhat scratchy shawl now feels a lot softer and drapier. 20 minutes of pinning and stretching got me this marvellous thing:

And now that the ends are woven in and it's all dry, I can proudly present my finished Noro Triangle!

Pattern - Shetland Triangle by Evelyn Clark from the book Wrap Style

Yarn - Noro Kureyon Sock, 1 skein (1 golf ball-sized lump left over)

Needles - 4.5mm 1m Addi Turbo circular

Pattern mods - I knit 10 repeats of the fircone chart instead of 8 and added a single row of garter stitch to the end of the edging to help prevent curling. Bind-off was as per instructions in the Swallowtail pattern.

I loved knitting a shawl with fingering weight yarn. Unlike with the laceweight, I was never worried about it breaking or snagging. I threw it into a bag quite happily, left it on the couch, sat it on the floor, gave it a thorough scrubbing in the sink. Plus, it seemed to go much faster and I got a bigger shawl for fewer stitches. And it's a one-skein project! Love it! I have a sneaking suspicion that I may end up using my laceweight up and then knitting lace exclusively in sock yarn from now on...

I was happy to discover that the yarn seems to be colourfast. There was no dye in the water when I'd finished soaking, and none of the colours bled onto one another - not even where bright green butted up against white. I had been a bit concerned about that.

A 1m circular needle is ideal for shawl-making. It was approaching the point of being so long it was annoying, but even at the end my stitches weren't at all bunched up on the needle.

*A tip that I read somewhere suggested washing scratchy yarn in human hair conditioner. It sounded a bit weird, but it's not when you think about it. Conditioner is designed to smooth down the outer layer of the hair so that it becomes smooth and shiny. Human hair is a protein fiber. So is wool. Ergo, hair conditioner should have similar effects on both. I wouldn't want to try the theory on silk, which always seems to be the exception to the rule of protein fibers, but then I've never met a scratchy silk.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Things one can do on a 5-day weekend

Term is about to start, so I decided to take some time off before the influx of students rendered my life insane. I've discovered that I am able to do the following on a 5-day weekend:
  • scrub, organize and tidy my kitchen
  • wash 4 loads of laundry
  • go to the cinema
  • watch an entire season of the West Wing (among other things)
  • knit 90% of a lace shawl

I was off Thursday-Monday. On Wednesday night, after eating dinner, I settled in with Spouse, a DVD and a skein of Noro Kureyon Sock. This was one of the skeins I acquired about a month ago with friends. I had originally intended to make socks, until I looked at the yarn more closely. It's a single-ply, so not hugely sturdy or abrasion-proof. It's not evenly spun, so in some places it's a heavy worsted and in others it's thinner than some of my laceweight. This would mean that the socks would not knit up consistently. And finally, it's really, really rough. Apparently it softens when you wash it, but the skin on my feet is very sensitive.

I concluded, therefore, that perhaps a shawl would be more appropriate for this rather lovely but scratchy yarn. A shawl is open and lacy, and so the thick-and-thin nature of the yarn wouldn't be so noticeable. It's customarily worn over other clothing, so the scratchy isn't an issue. And I just so happened to have a pattern for a lovely triangle shawl by the same designer who did the Swallowtail Shawl. The original calls for 500yds of fingering-weight yarn. The Noro was only 437yds, but according to Ravelry (yay Ravelry!), a decent-sized shawl can be produced with one skein of Noro Sock. The pattern is a single chart for the body, repeated as many times as one desires, followed by a 14-row edging chart. The pattern calls for 8 repeats of the chart; I've done 10 and am expecting to use just about the whole skein. I've got 6 rows and the bind-off left to knit, then I'm done.

I'm still trying to decide whether Noro yarns are worth the bother. They have fabulous colours and are all self-striping with long colour repeats. However, they are on the pricey side, often have breaks in the skein that throw the striping sequence off, and are FULL of vegetable matter. Picking bits out of my yarn is not fun. But this shawl is marvellous shades of green, and I don't even LIKE green! A company that makes yarn so pretty I go for colours I don't even normally like is definitely onto something...

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Interim photos

I'm participating in a Stashalong, which in theory is supposed to be helping me with the not buying of yarn. I think we all know how that's going! :D Anyway, one can earn yarn purchases by participating in themed knitting over the course of a month, and I earned three skeins in August by completing some WIPs.

I was picking up some new circular needles that I needed for a couple of projects in the pipeline, and decided to pick up two of my three skeins. This one is going to become yet another scarf, and this one is going to be some over-mittens for my too-thin gloves.

Monday, 8 September 2008

iKnit Day part 2

The main part of the day was rockin'. I managed to get down to the Royal Horticultural Halls at about 10:45 for an 11am start. When I got there, the queue went around a side and a half of the block. By the time the doors opened, the queue had doubled. There were so many knitters, merrily knitting away despite the miserable weather. Just as the queue started moving the heavens opened, and I realized that I had left out my umbrella in my urge to have more space for yarn in my bag. Oops! Fortunately we all got in quite quickly, and there were plenty of convenient trees and overhangs to stand under. It didn't really start pouring until after we got inside.

After being presented with a programme and some iKnit badges the vast flock of knitters finally made it into the main hall. Since, in addition to my umbrella, I forgot my camera, you'll just have to imagine it! There were 4 long rows of stalls, plus more stalls on three sides of this enormous hall. The 4th side had a raised seating area where all of the workshops took place. Directly in front of the raised area was a catwalk where the vintage knits fashion show took place. Off to one side next to some of the stalls was a mini-theatre where there was some improv comedy stuff going on (I didn't see it, I just walked past).

The best part for me was realizing that I finally knew what I was doing. Last year, I'd been knitting for a while but hadn't done much other than working from my collection of magazines in the privacy of my own home. I hadn't really discovered Ravelry, and I wasn't participating much in the knitting group at work. Not this time! This time I spotted a shawl across a crowded room and raced over to confirm with its owner whether it was Kauni Effektgarn. (It was.) I had people come up and fondle my shawl, including one lovely lady who was also making a Swallowtail out of Posh Eva 2-ply. I gave advice on how much laceweight one needed to make a shawl. I commiserated over how expensive baby alpaca is, and pondered whether one could really justify spending one's lunch money on roving. (Not really, but fun to think about.) I was able to go from booth to booth and enjoy looking at the pretty things, but choose not to buy them because they weren't things I'd enjoy knitting.

There were so many people just having a good time, and it was a lovely atmosphere. There weren't thousands all fighting over the best sock yarn, and the stalls were spaced far enough apart that it wasn't claustrophobic. There were loads of tables and chairs set up all over the hall so that knitters could actually sit down, eat a snack and do some knitting. I saw ladies winding yarn together. I saw babies. I saw proto-babies. I saw spinners and angora rabbits and knitted doughnuts. And I remembered to take snacks and drinks with me this time, so I didn't have a mid-afternoon panic attack and dizzy spell. (That was oh-so-fun at Ally Pally last year. Not.)

So many happy knitters in one place was a marvel. It was like the world's best knit night at a local yarn store, only with more yarn and not ending too soon.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

My oh my oh my

iKnit Day is going to take a couple of posts to relate, especially since I forgot my camera and need to wait for my friend to email me some of her pictures! I had an absolute blast and am so glad I went. Today I'm going to relate the delights of my shopping.

Like last year at the Knitting and Stitching Show, I went yesterday with a list of things that I wanted to get. Unlike last year, I only bought things on my list. I'm really, really satisfied with my purchases as a result. Here's the entire haul:

So, bit by bit. The one things that I was absolutely commited to getting was some dark blue Wool-Ease to make my hub some socks. He's been feeling a bit left out, I think. This may be cheap not-good yarn in the US, but over here it's nigh-on impossible to find solid-coloured washable wool blends that don't feel like plastic. Discovering that there is a UK supplier of it who doesn't even mark the prices up that much was a treat.

I also went looking for scarf yarn, because clearly the 25-odd in my cupboard are not enough! I wanted something to make a very complicated number from Knitting New Scarves, since I've had that book for months and not yet knit anything from it. I also wanted to make a double-knit argyle scarf from Son of Stitch 'n' Bitch. (Double-knitting is where you knit both sides of a mirror-image fabric at one. That is, one side will be green with a black pattern and the other side will be black with a green pattern. Very groovy.) Three skeins of organic Devonshire merino will do the trick nicely! Husband was tickled to realize that the mill that made these is about 5 miles from his family's home.

I explored the lucky dip at the Knitting and Crocheting Guild stall and came away with a skein of pink and purple chunky yarn that will someday become a hat and mittens, in all likelihood. I like having the odd skein of chunky yarn around for instant gratification projects!

Two packets of the world's yummiest commercial fudge, one for me and one for husband. Unlike most European fudge, this is the crumbly kind rather than the chewy kind. I was thrilled. Chocolate for me and hot ginger for him. Mmmmmmmmm!

Then I decided to make a commitment. I am going to take up spinning. No more umming and ahhing over it. This is 100g of undyed merino. It's going to be my practice roving to get used to my spindle. And this is about 400g of what I think must be a silk/merino blend. (I forgot to ask. I was pretty excited yesterday.) It is just delicious, and smells so good!

Things I didn't buy include 2400yards of Cherry Tree Hill laceweight for £25. I was sorely tempted, but it wasn't a solid or semi-solid and I would never actually use it for a shawl. I didn't buy any alpaca sock yarn because I'd wear through it in a week. In fact, I bought neither sock yarn nor laceweight. Decided that right now I don't need anymore (especially since there are 4 skeins of sock yarn in the post to me right now!), and I'd rather have things that I want to use immediately instead of sticking them in the stash to hibernate. I did kinda regret not going back to the lucky dip and trying for some Rowan, but it's ok.

Of course, the friend with whom I spent the day offered me a ticket to come with her to the Knitting and Stitching Show next month. She has mobility difficulties and gets a free ticket for an assistant. Since her husband has no interest in fiberarts, it makes a lot more sense for me to go with. Judging from the sheer number of vendors last year, I will certainly be able to make up for yesterday's restraint!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Slowing down somewhat

September is always less productive in the world of my hobbies than any other month. This is because it's the start of the academic year, and I have always been either in full-time education or working in education. Or sometimes both! So right now at work we are rushing around trying to get everything done on time, and when I get home I don't necessarily have the energy to focus on a complicated knitting pattern. I've been crocheting my afghan and playing a lot of video games as a result!

I've also been indulging in a long-neglected hobby - my embroidery. Several friends and acquaintances have recently been spotted with embroidery in hand, and as ever, seeing someone else doing something I enjoy has inspired me to do it myself. I fished out a big pice of counted cross-stitch that I've had on the go for a couple of years and have actually been making progress. I find embroidery involves a lot less concentration than knitting, for some reason. I'm still craving yarn between my fingers, but I would like to spend the autumn working on both needlearts, not just one or the other.

Monday, 1 September 2008

6 in August

Finished projects, that is. For despite having underestimated the amount of yarn I had left, I managed to finish my grey and fluffy scarf last night!

I cast on for this over a year ago, when I desperately needed something easy to do on an airplane. I made it narrow enough that I could do it back and forth on DPNs, which were plastic so they wouldn't set off the metal detectors. But once that holiday was over I put the scarf away in favour of other things that were more urgent. Since then, I've brought it out occasionally and worked a few repeats, but up until the last week or so I haven't really done much on it.

Because I'd knit the second lace border back when I started it, I was able to use up every last scrap of the ball of yarn. I also got to learn how to graft garter stitch. Not nearly as bad as I thought it'd be.

Next up, working on Weaving Friend's mitts, since the weather is thinking about getting cold enough for her to wear them. I told her I'd have them done by the October revel, so I may not work on them exclusively...

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Mmmmm, kidsilk

I've spent the last 2 lunch hours working on my grey fluffy scarf, as predicted. I've discovered one problem with it, though - I can't work on it outside as it blows around in the slightest breeze, making it very hard to knit. I love it, though. It is soft and snuggly and everyone wants to pet it, which is perfectly understandable! I really need to get a set of kitchen scales. The ball of yarn was 25g to start with, and I'd love to know how much yarn I have left. I'm perfectly happy to just knit until the yarn is gone, but it would be nice to know how long my scarf is going to be!

IKnit Day is coming up a week on Saturday. And I'm planning to take as little spending money as possible. Sound crazy? Here's the thing. Last year I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show. It was lots of fun, but I came away feeling disappointed because I didn't have enough money to spend on the really lovely one-of-a-kind things, and so instead I bought mostly blah and mediocre things. Stuff that will make nice grey gloves for the husband someday, but not the kind of thing you save all your pocket money for. And actually, of all the yarn I bought last year (9 balls, if I remember rightly), I've only used 2 and given away one. Not a great track record, really. My most used purchase was the WIP tubes that I keep my socks-in-progress in. Money may be a little better off, but I can't really justify spending £hundreds on cashmere laceweight with spun-in Swarovski crystals for an evening wrap. Lovely as it might be, and much as I might want it!!!!

So this year I do have some yarn money saved up. I will be going to the show with the intention of buying one ball of yarn to make husband-socks, one skein of either laceweight or sock yarn, and possibly some needles. And my other spending money will go on yarn that I really, really love and want, like perhaps more Posh yarn in a future sale. I am trying to be practical in my yarn-buying, however difficult and not-fun that might be. Although in truth, having a stash consisting only of yarn I love and will someday wear or gift is fun in its own right!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

May have finished something else

Like this lovely hat, for instance!

John Lewis were having a clearance sale on Noro Silver Thaw, down from £7-odd to £3. So I bought one skein to see how it knitted up. Rather nicely, as it turns out. I had about a foot left once the hat was knit and seamed, although I did intentionally make a bigger cuff than necessary.

Now that I've scratched the startitis itch, it's back to the WIPs for me. Think I shall work on my grey fluffy scarf next.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Surprise project

I picked up my new glasses on Friday, and as ever, had the initial adjustment phase to get through. This meant no socks and no laceweight, ruling out pretty much all of my current WIPs. Of course, I really don't do chunky yarn, which was all I could focus on. So, I made my own chunky yarn!

No, I didn't start spinning. Although I'm planning to get into that soon. I took 4 skeins of Rowan Tapestry, a single-ply DK weight yarn, and held a strand from each together to create a much chunkier quasi-plied yarn. And it was great. I now have a new, muted, autumnal scarf with a kick-ass fringe (modelling courtesy of the spouse):

I love it. I also love that it used up 4.5 balls of a yarn I was desperate to use up. Just one ball left, and I know what I'm going to make with it.

I still can't quite focus on small stuff, but I'm working on a garter-stitch hat with an aran yarn. It's pretty funky stuff and knitting up quickly. Hope to finish it by the time my eyes are working properly again!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

First day off is going well

For I have just finished my Charcoal Monkey Socks! They are snuggly and warm, and fit just as well as the last pair. I am very happy.

One less WIP, and one more finished project for the Ravelympics. I have about 4 days left in which to finish my Pomatomus Socks. Better get slogging! (Also one more pairs of socks for Summer of Socks. Woohoo!)

Monday, 18 August 2008

the other bits of the weekend

Not so nice, in places. I got up on Sunday morning and decided to knit my sock while waiting for the spouse to wake up so he could get the spare mattress down for a blocking mat. Imagine my horror when I unfolded the finished sock of the pair and discovered a clothing moth crawling on it! Ick! Needless to say, I squished the little bugger. And the one I found on my favourite skein of sock yarn. And the one I found on the curtains. :(

This unpleasant discovery prompted an emergency shopping expedition for zip-top bags, cheap cotton cloth and citronella and cedarwood essential oil. I spent most of the morning and early afternoon going over every single skein I've got and bagging them all individually with citronella. The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent rewinding all of my Posh Yarn to check for any damage or creepy-crawlies, since that's pretty much all I've got that's irreplaceable. So far I haven't found any signs of munching or infestation *fingers crossed*, so with any luck I caught them in time. Once all of the yarn is safely packed and inspected, I've got all the stuff to make herbal sachets to put inside our winter coats, woollen clothing and SCA garb. And then once that's done, I'm going to make bowls of repellent potpourri to put all over the place! Happily, spouse likes the scents of all the herbs I'm using and so do I. It's a good thing, because the place is going to smell like Neal's Yard before long!

Other stuff - I have some new acquisitions to show, once I have time to take photos of them. I also have one less WIP outstanding. After finishing the shawl, I thought I'd look at my half-hexagon again. And I've decided that the needles I was using were much too big for the yarn, so I've ripped it out! I'll come back to the yarn once my stash is back under control and not under the shadow of the moth monster. I may pick another pattern, though, because having just done rows on Swallowtail that were 300+ stitches across, I'm not sure I can handle rows that are more than double that. It took half an hour to do a row of plain knit stitch on 300+ stitches! I'd never finish the bloody thing!

This means that I might *crosses fingers* end the year with no WIPs. I am ever hopeful!

Sunday, 17 August 2008

May I present... finished Swallowtail shawl! Cast off last night, spent today blocking, wove in the ends about half an hour ago.

This is my first lace shawl, and in fact my first laceweight lace anything. I am feeling very, very pleased.

Pattern - Evelyn Clark's Swallowtail Shawl
Yarn - slightly less than one skein of Posh Yarn Eva 2-ply
Black seed beads from my local bead shop.
Time elapsed while knitting - 4 months. 75% of the knitting was done in the last week and a half, though.
Mods - didn't make the nupps. Replaced some of them with beads, though not all, and added beads to the peaked edging. Used a "slip two together knit-wise, knit one, pass slipped stitches over" decrease instead of the recommended double decrease because I need things to be symmetrical.

I love this pattern. In all likelihood I will make more once I've recovered from the shock of knitting most of a shawl in a week and a half. It's a perfect way to use a small skein of expensive laceweight. It's small, so definitely not a "wrap-around in the depths of January" shawl. More of an extra layer of warmth for a formal evening thing. Or perhaps an event where one might meet a knitting celebrity. I'm just sayin'. :D

I like the yarn/needle combo. Yes, there was enough yarn left over that I could have added repeats or gone up a needle size or two, but I don't like stockinette stitch that is too open looking. This is pretty much perfectly how I like it. My knitting got slightly tighter as I got less scared of breaking the yarn and once I started using a metal needle instead of a bamboo one, but it didn't make a noticeable difference in the finished piece.

Blocking is amazing. It gained about 4 inches in all directions once I'd done the deed. I went for a full soak and pin rather than a pin and spritz. Really glad I did, because there seems to have been quite a lot of excess dye on the yarn. It's definitely colourfast, but I had to rinse it several times after the initial soak. I probably could have stretched it a bit more, but with the silk content of the yarn I didn't really want to risk it.

The scariest part of the whole experience was trimming the tails of the yarn once I'd woven them in - I didn't want to get the shears anywhere near the lace!

Definitely going to be making more lace in the future. My only problem now - how the heck do I store it?