Thursday, 29 May 2008

An evening of fun and a surprise

Last night was spent in the company of one of my best friends, who has recently discovered that she is a knitter. She had learned how to make the knit stitch about three years ago and made a red "thing", as she calls it, but never really got anywhere. Then quite recently a few mutual friends also took up knitting, and since I already was knitting as well, she stuck with it this time. And when she found out that two of her cousins were expecting babies, she went on a bit of a rampage! In the last 3 weeks, she has made enough squares of garter stitch to make a small baby blanket for the first baby.

The purpose of the meeting last night was so that I could teach her how to sew up the squares. I ended up teaching her how to make knots with a crochet hook, too, since some of the ends she'd left were a little bit on the short side. Oh well. She knows now!

Like any true knitting project, this blanket is a race against time. As of last night, there were three squares of fifty-six sewn together, and she still had 12 squares left to make. She's due to give the blanket to the doting parents on Saturday!

I spent my walk home last night thinking about my wardrobe, specifically things that I have and don't wear. A lot of my clothing doesn't get worn often because it's for a particular type of weather, or it's not suitable for work, or whatever. But there are some things that never get worn at all, and one of them was that pink sweater I made last year. I didn't like the way the shoulders and armholes sat on me, and the whole thing was a bit big. The only reason I was keeping it was because it was the first 'proper' sweater I ever made.

Well, knitting is made to be used. And it just so happens that I have a friend who's a bit bigger than me, with broader shoulders. Yep - knitting best friend is now the owner of my pink sweater! She tried it on, really liked it, it fit perfectly. So my wardrobe is now a little less overfull and a sweater has an owner who will wear it. I am pleased.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Progress and admitting the need to change

First of all - I finished the chemise yesterday! I haven't actually tried it on yet, but it fit after I'd sewn up the major seams, so I'm pretty sure it's ok. I will try to convince the husband to take a photo of it tonight, since I'm now working on his green tunic. I'm getting faster at hemming, so managed to do half of the huge neckline today over my lunch hour. It was good.

In other news, I have been thinking more about Mission:Possible. As it stood from the beginning of the year, there was no way that I was going to complete everything after taking up with the SCA. Sewing is just too time-consuming.

So, rather than abandon the Mission entirely, I’ve decided that I’m going to rework my goals into something a little bit more realistic given my new commitments. Because this is about making progress on using the yarn instead of hoarding it, finishing the projects instead of letting them hibernate! So, my new and improved and achievable goals:
1-4: Finished four of the original list - Monkey Socks, Black shawl, Dr Who leftovers, alpaca neckwarmer.
5: Finish Swallowtail out of crimson Eva
6: Finish the crocheted ripple bedspread that will use up most of my acrylic stash
7: Knit something, however small, out of some of my 6 skeins of Tapestry
8: Knit a pair of Anne-trelac socks
9: Knit a pair of Pomatomus socks
10: Mystery project (I may have signed up for a new mystery knitalong)
11: Finish Interlocking Cables sweater
12: Knit flag for the 198 Countries Peace Project

Not too different from the original list, but reduced a fair bit. I think it's doable!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Plans and lists, for I'm obsessive like that

I have a bunch of stuff that I'm making or going to make that has an external deadline on it and needs working on. Plus I have a bunch of projects that I'd really like to get finished just so that they are done. So, I'm going to do a calendar run-down with deadlines and things to help keep track of what needs doing.

May 22-31: Finish enough garb that the hub and I each have an outfit to wear to the revel on the 31st.

-finish hemming bottom of chemise ASAP
-sew up seams of green tunic, teal gown and red gown on 24th with E's sewing machine
-hand-finish tunic and teal gown once machine sewing is done
-hem veil
-if time allows, apply trim to teal gown and cut out and assemble a pair of braies

ALSO work on mum's birthday present and the bedspread when not able to sew.

June 1: Camden Green Fair. Today I can work on anything I want, and may buy up to 100g of yarn providing I have a plan for it.

June 2-9: Cut out, hem and embroider handkerchiefs for Coronation. Keep working on mum's birthday present when not sewing.

June 10: Day trip to St Albans - birthday knitting on the train and in the purse.

June 11-17: hand finishing on red gown, repairs on red tunic, cut out blue court tunic for the hub, birthday knitting as and when, hopefully finished by June 18, swatching for silk gloves

June 18: pack before going on holiday, no needlework!

June 19-26: visiting mum, finishing up any remaining handsewing plus making blue court tunic and possibly pink gown, Socks on Vacation for SoS

June 27-29: Coronation - knitting silk gloves, maybe finishing some inside seams if I can be bothered.

June 30-July1: Bugger all. Two days off playing in London!

July 2-18: SoS will start properly for me at this point, since all the sewing will be done. Also knitting flag for the 198 Countries Peace Project

July19-31: SoS continues. Other priority project is the Swallowtail shawl

August 1-7: break from socks prior to the Knitting Olympics - will work on one of the Mission:Possible outstanding projects. Probably Interlocking Cables.

August 8-24: Knitting Olympics, during which I will attempt to knit an entire pair of Pomatomus socks in 17 days.

August 25-31: Interlocking Cables sweater and last few days of SoS

September 1-5: finish Interlocking Cables

September 6 - iKnit Day and the great wearing of the sweater to meet the Yarn Harlot herself! A small amount of stash enhancement is also permissable

September 7-10: anything I want to work on or cast on for

September 11-15: Raglan Ffair - silk gloves again

September 16-30: very little of anything, given that term starts and I will be exhausted from freshers.

October-December: finishing up as many WIPs as possible - ideally I'd like to start the New Year with no unfinished knitting, crocheting or sewing projects. NB sewing not embroidery - I'm ambitious, not clinically insane!

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

My chemise, it has a cuff!

Actually it has two cuffs, one on either wrist. Now all that remains is hemming the bottom, several hours of work. I love full skirts, but finishing them is a PITA!

There are also now two korknisse ready to be given to best friend on Friday. I might get one more done, but if I don't it's not really a big deal. Fortunately the friend in question has just taken up knitting and has known me for years - she's happy to wait for her real knitted birthday present! I also worked on another round of booties for a baby that was supposed to have appeared on Sunday. Guess the little guy likes it where he is...

How many pairs of socks will I knit this year? I've already done three pairs and have the yarn for 16 more pairs, but then last year I only made three pairs in total!. (Well, plus a pair of Christmas stockings - surely that makes it 4 pairs?)

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Husbands - Help or Hindrance?

Discuss, citing examples to support your argument.

After going through all of my sock yarn the other day and choosing patterns, I discovered that I really needed some more DPNs - 2.25mms and 2.75mms. I've thus far been fudging things with 2mms, 2.5s and 3s. So yesterday when the hub rang me over my lunch hour to say he was in a yarn shop with a knitting mutual friend and did I want anything, of course my answer was "Yes!" And he very kindly picked up the 2 sizes I needed.

And being the sweet man that he is, he decided I needed something to cheer* me up. We met up that evening and he handed me a bag containing a skein of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock! The colourway is Dusk, a lovely deep blue-purple-green with flashes of hot pink that is ever so yummy. I'm thinking that it is destined to become a pair of Coupling Socks.
And of course, this means that my stash is now one skein bigger than it was, although I love the yarn. Whoops.

And I have just arranged for a couple of hours' access to a sewing machine this weekend for the making of garb. Thank goodness for kind friends!

*Originally I typed shear. Clearly I am warped and in need of taking up spinning.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Le Weekend

Busy, but not as productive as I'd hoped.

The chemise is coming along nicely. I did almost all of the seam finishing that needs to be done before hemming, and hemmed one of the sleeve cuffs. I've got 4 seams left to finish, the second sleeve cuff and the bottom of the chemise to hem, then it's done. The green tunic basically didn't have anything done to it at all bar pressing the shoulder seams. I decided that finishing one thing at a time would be better for my moral! Having the sewing machine out all weekend really did help, though. Even if it was a pain.

In between rounds of sewing I worked on the bedspread, which is motoring along. I love it, and I'm looking forward to having it done! I also indulged in a little Summer of Socks preparation. All of my sock yarn is now in a bag, I've dropped some bad yarn off at a charity shop and made more space that way, and have been working on using up my scraps of sock yarn leftovers before I start generating lots more. I've been making korknisse! These are little trolls made by knitting a sweater and a pointy hat for a wine cork. Very cute, utterly quick, really good for using up scraps. I'm going to make half a dozen or so for my friend's birthday on Friday.

I've also been planning which sock patterns to make with my yarn. Here's the list, although it will be subject to change:

  • Jitterbug in Bright Charcoal - Butterflies and Bees Socks from the Six Sox Knitalong
  • Wool-Rich in Fruit Fondue - Bellatrix Socks
  • Wool-Rich in Green Pumpkin - Aquaphobia Socks
  • Matchmaker 4-ply in Grey - Austrian Socks
  • Wool-Ease in Rose Heather - Hiking Socks and Cabled Footies
  • Bulgarian Cotton in Orange - Fishnet Knee-Highs
  • Kroy Socks in Easter Egg - Wendy's Feather and Fan Socks (pdf)
  • Laura in Chi-Chi - Petticoat Socks
  • Lucia in Ruffled - Kaibashira Socks
  • Regia Semisolid in Blue - Baudelaire Socks
  • Schoppel Admiral Dark - Conwy
  • Schoppel Admiral Light - Monkey Socks (again!)
  • sKnitches Kettle Drum in Aegean - Pomatomus Socks
  • Wisdom Yarns in San Diego - Anne-trelac Socks

I'm going to be busy this summer!

Friday, 16 May 2008

Memory of a goldfish

Having just visited my Ravelry stash page, I actually have enough sock yarn for 14 pairs of socks, plus the remnants of the Wool-Ease worsted in pink that I was planning to make into a pair of kneesocks. Better get knitting!

Pomatomus is no more

I don't know why I didn't trust the designer. The Monkey socks are the best socks I've ever made. Of course she had a reason to go up a needle size.

In other words, although I could still get it onto my foot, the first Pomatomus was a little on the tight side. So I frogged it. RIP! I am being much more demanding on myself recently. If it's less than very good, I don't tolerate it. Although it did take me almost a fortnight to admit to myself that really I'd be happier with a looser sock.

I've managed to build myself quite a nice schedule at the moment. On the 31st of this month, I've got an SCA event for which the husband and I both need garb. I have 6 full days of weekend to spend sewing between now and then, and only 3 pieces of clothing that must be finished. Hopefully this is doable. I'm spending my weekdays on knitting and crocheting both to avoid sewing-induced RSI and because, well, I like knitting and crocheting better than sewing.
Then in June I can devote my free time to making my mother's birthday present on weekdays and sewing more garb and some handkerchiefs for Coronation on the last weekend of June.

Conveniently, Summer of Socks 2008 starts the weekend before Coronation. So in theory, I should have all my sewing done by that point, allowing me to throw myself headfirst into an orgy of sockish wonder. Now that I've frogged the Poms, I have enough sock yarn for at least 9 pairs of socks. Maybe if I use it all up during SoS, I can buy a bunch more at one of the autumn knitting events I'm going to!

I will be revisiting the Poms at some point in the future. The pattern is great. But in order to make a nice fabric on 2.75mm needles, I'm going to need a thicker sock yarn, like Emily or Lucia from Posh Yarn. The yarn I was using for the Poms is probably going to end up being another pair of Monkeys.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Sewing is good

Especially when one realizes that, much as with knitting, it gets faster when one practices. Last night I took advantage of a sunny evening and an empty flat to cut out a very basic smock-type t-tunic for the husband. Wide neck, square shoulders, and a plan of leaving the lower part with a split 'skirt' so he can move. I finished sewing both shoulder seams in about an hour and a half, which is quite good for me. Especially using black thread on almost black fabric! I'm hoping to finish it and my chemise this weekend, assuming the light is good enough and I don't get cramp.

In knitting and crocheting news, I have resolved to work primarily on the rippled bedspread this month. Mainly so that I can be rid of all that yarn! And of course, to acquire a new blanket thing just in time for summer... I'm also working on a summer tank top which is designed to use up all my DK-weight cotton. Conveniently, there should be just enough yarn to make the top and not have much in the way of leftovers. Whatever is left can be turned into a dishcloth.

I really wish I lived somewhere with enough space to have the ironing board set up all the time. The biggest hindrance to my sewing right now it needing to constantly press a seam or two, but never two seams close enough together to make it worth keeping the board out. My living room is just not that big, and the drying racks take up most of the space!

Monday, 12 May 2008

And we're sorted again

This weekend just gone was one of the best and most relaxing I've ever had. Fantastic birthday party for the husband, who is 30 today(!), a truly impressive haul of leftover wine, glorious sunshine, fresh air, oh, and some knitting and sewing.

I seem to have recovered. It was a case of not really doing much of anything on Saturday, I think. Then in the late afternoon I picked up my mostly finished chemise on a whim, and somehow managed to hem the entire collar in 2 hours or so. Stopped because I had cramp in my left hand, and decided to cast on for a new project. This one's a summery tank top in cotton - basically two rectangles sewn together in a couple of places. Alternating bands of garter and stockinette stitch. I'm doing this one in stripes, with the garter stitch bands in a mystery blue-green cotton that a friend gave me, and the stockinette bands in white cotton that I picked up in a charity shop a couple of years ago. It's worked on 6mm needles, which means that it goes very quickly.

And then I did a bit more sewing. I've nearly finished the last seam, then I need to hem the wrists and bottom. Then it's done! Who knows, I might even post a picture of me in my medieval underwear.

And then there was frogging. A while ago, I started making a Shedir hat in the recommended yarn calmer, which is a cotton and microfiber blend. Lovely stuff, but when combined with 1x1 cables, it gives me neck cramps and muscle spasms. I picked it up, knit for 10 minutes, couldn't turn my head, and ripped the blasted thing out. I'll do this pattern someday, but in wool. Of course, that left me with a single ball of yarn with no pattern, which is just bad. So I went over to Ravelry to browse, and spotted a very nice set of Odessa hats made with Calmer. It's a lovely spiraling lace pattern with optional beads. I thought I'd leave the beads out so that I didn't have to go shopping, but I realized that I already had a small packet of lovely clear glass beads which just happened to fit the yarn and match it nicely. And I had the right sized needles! So I promptly cast on for that as well. I finished the ribbing last night and am starting the patterned part later today. It seems to be going quickly, especially since the needles are a couple of sizes bigger than the Shedir needles.

And I packed everything away in preparation for the party, so I'm reveling in not having so much stuff out. It really feels good.

I'm also thinking about dropping out of Mission:Possible. Basically, I'm making a ton of progress on my projects. I've even finished the neverending black shawl. There is no deadline for anything that was on my list of 12, and I actually do have several other projects waiting that do have deadlines. Plus, now that we're playing in the SCA, I've effectively committed myself to a crap-load of sewing year-round. I even somehow got myself signed up to make some Coronation gifts, which need to be done by June. Plus, I'd really like to get cracking on my silk gloves. I'll think about it for a while longer, but I'm thinking that this knitalong is one to which I'm really not suited.

(And I may have just signed up to have another go at Summer of Socks.)

Friday, 9 May 2008

Not feeling the love

I seem to have lost my mojo. I look at my yarn, and while fondling it pleases me, I have no desire to knit. My projects do not inspire.

My sewing sits on the couch looking at me with puppy-dog eyes, waiting for me to finish it, but I don't want to.

The thought of embroidery makes me miserable. I've no desire to fish out my lucet and make cord.

Perhaps I need to try a quick-finish project, or perhaps I need to take a break for a while. I really don't know.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The project of insanity

I needed something in period to take to an SCA event this summer. And I really wanted to take knitting, since that's my main craft. Now, knitting was done in the Middle Ages, but it was a little different, as far as source material leads us to believe. Mostly very high gauge accessories, like stockings and gloves. I'm not going to spend hours and hours of my life making a pair of stockings at 15 stitches to the inch, because they'd eventually wear out. So, I decided on gloves. Properly cared for, they should last forever.

Now, knitted gloves tended to be made of very fine silk. Conveniently, there is a website (Colourmart) that sells very fine silk at very good prices. They are based in the UK, so I received my silk within 36 hours of ordering it. I was hugely impressed.

Reason I'm insane?

That's a 5p piece, which is about the same size as a dime. The line across it is one strand of the silk. I don't even own any needles small enough to make these gloves. I will need needles smaller than 2mm in diameter! This website stocks the appropriate sized double-pointed needles; someday I'd like to have a set of 5 of all of the sizes smaller than 2mm.

So many things done over the long weekend!

First - a long overdue photo of the mini-Who scarf. The recipient is coming over on Friday, so that'll be good. I like getting rid of the finished projects almost as much as I like finishing them!

Next, an update of my Mission:Possible projects. I only took photos of the ones on which there was any visible progress, so some are just list entries.
  • Black drop-stitch shawl Finished!
  • Half-hexagon shawl Hibernating
  • Dr Who Leftovers Finished!
  • Red Posh laceweight Swallowtail WIP
  • Acrylic several WIPs no photos
  • Interlocking Cables sweater WIP
  • Alpaca neckwarmer Finished!
  • Coatigan Hibernating
  • Monkey Socks Finished!
  • Pomatomus socks WIP
  • Anne-trelac socks not yet cast on
  • Clapotis WIP
I'm quite pleased with my progress, actually. I'm hoping to finish Swallowtail this month, since I have so much laceweight to get through!

I spent most of the weekend sewing, when I wasn't taking photos or cooking. We are going to a big SCA event this summer and need clothing. At the moment, I have a gown and chemise for myself and a tunic for my husband underway. I also have enough fabric to make two more tunics for him and three more gowns for me. I'm hoping to have 2 each finished by the end of June, so there probably won't be as much knitting on the blog as there has been recently.

Friday, 2 May 2008

In recovery

My sock, that is. And it's making good progress, too. I spent a goodly chunk of yesterday morning making repairs. After I'd fixed the off decrease, I found a place where I'd split a stitch and left a loop hanging off the outside of the sock, so laddered down and fixed that. And then I discovered that the stitch count on needle three was off by two. Upon closer examination, it transpired that I'd somehow misplaced a yarnover, which over the course of 8 rows ended up offsetting my scale pattern and losing me two stitches. That repair was a little bit more complicated, but I managed! And having spent so much time on repairing the sock, I couldn't just leave it. I ended up finishing the cuff last night, and I did the first 2 rows of the heel flap this morning. Very pleasing.

Other stuff. Hmmm. The bedspread is currently living in my handbag, since it's still small enough to carry around. I'm hoping to finish the current stripe in the next day or two. The plan for the weekend is to do a big session of photography, since the blog has been looking a little bare recently. I'm hoping to get my Ravelry Projects page back up to date, and maybe even do a status report for Mission:Possible with pictures! I was just looking over my list of stuff left to do for that earlier, and I feel like I'm doing well.

I've just indulged in a little stash enhancement, but that, too, is going to need its own post - there is a complicated project ahead!