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?

Thursday, 14 August 2008

More haste, less speed

I managed 6 of the remaining 8 rows on the chart last night. Then my body decided to wake up an hour early this morning and I finished the other 2 rows. So that chart is done!

I went and did my usual morning things, tea, breakfast, clothing etc. And I decided that since the first row of the next chart was just knit stitch all the way across, I'd quickly crank it out before work. And of course, 5 stitches before the end of the row, I looked back and realized that I'd very cleverly left out the 2 yarnovers either side of the centre stitch. So rather than getting home to a headstart on the final chart, I will be tinking back to the centre stitch and putting in the bloody YOs. How annoying!

Still. The final chart is pretty, and I've got that feeling of downhill knitting that I sometimes get at the end of a project. As though the momentum of the knitting is so great it carries itself forward whether I will or no. I really, REALLY want to finish this on Saturday. I got another big chunk of Monkey gusset done over lunch too, so in a perfect world, I'd finish the shawl on Saturday, the Monkeys on Sunday morning, and then get to devote the whole of Sunday afternoon to the green Poms. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Now I get it!

I had someone over on Monday, so didn't get any knitting done in the evening. But I picked up my shawl again last night and discovered why so many people go nuts over Addi Turbo needles! In the past, I've been unconvinced that there was enough increase in speed to compensate for the annoyance of slipperiness and working on a circular needle. But after swapping over to one for space issues (I had more stitches than would fit on my bamboo straights) and working last night, I totally get it.

Previously, I was managing about a row and a half in one evening, given average conversation and tv-watching. Last night I got through four rows! And they were longer, too, since the shawl increases 4 stitches every other row. And then I got through another 2 before work this morning!

Definitely worth the hassle to have that much of a speed increase. :D

Spouse is out tonight, so with a quick dinner and no distractions, I have high hopes of getting through the remaining 8 rows of my current chart. And that would put me on the final chart! I might get this sucker done over the weekend - woohoo!

And now that I've finished my current batch of lunchtime errands, I managed to get a load of the gusset done on the second Monkey sock. Soon. Soon they will both be done and I can get on with Pomatomus...

Monday, 11 August 2008

Going well over the weekend

I decided that since I absolutely cannot work on my Swallowtail Shawl anywhere other than at home, I would take advantage of the horrible wet weather and work on the shawl all weekend. I completed the 14 repeats of the second chart and have moved on to the first beaded chart. And my goodness is it slow. I've got over 200 stitches on the needles now (in fact I've moved over onto a circular needle for just that reason!), and each row takes forever! Still, it's looking good, and I'm enjoying working on it. I have high hopes of getting it finished soon.

Poms are started, but I didn't really do much on them since I was working so much on the shawl. I've done a few more rounds, and am really looking forward to getting stuck in.

I finished the heel flap and turned the heel of the second Monkey sock last night while watching the Seventh Seal. It's true what they say - you can't watch subtitled films and knit from a chart at the same time! Still, the film was fabulous, and it's good to make progress on the sock. It's now back in my handbag. I'm hoping to finish it up over this week's lunch-hours.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Best of luck, Ravthletes! Best of luck, Olympic Athletes!

Ravelympics have officially started, and I have cast on for the first Pomatomus Sock! Lovely spouse recorded the Opening Ceremonies for me, so I will be watching them this evening while I knit. In keeping with the spirit of these Chinese games, I will only be knitting 8 rounds of ribbing on the cuffs of my socks.

I love watching the Olympics. I was born in an Olympic year. It's hard though, deciding who I'm going to support. I grew up in three different countries, and so part of me wants to support each of them. Generally, though, I end up cheering for Bulgaria. I've watched them be awarded several medals, and it never fails to get me choked up.

Of course, I get choked up watching the Opening Ceremonies too! It's the procession of the athletes into the stadium that does it for me, especially for the countries that only have one or two people participating. When you have a huge population, putting together a spectacular Olympic team isn't really that impressive. Nuaru, though? Or St Kitts? That's impressive sportsmanship, in my opinion.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Ravelympics and the Yarn Harlot

The plan was to make the Ivy League Vest to wear to meet the Yarn Harlot, just because I have this thing about wearing my handknits whenever I go somewhere knitting-related. Then my best friend gave me enough cotton for a tank top, and I thought that a tank top would be quicker, so I'd do that instead. Then I discovered that I didn't have any needles that would give me the correct gauge for the top. Back to the drawing board.

Then I was looking over my WIPs, and was pondering the possibility of WIP Wrestling in addition to my Sock Putt entry. You see, I could wear my Swallowtail Shawl to meet the Yarn Harlot. And that would mean that I wouldn't have to race to finish an entire sweater of some description between now and the first weekend of September. I was looking at the shawl last night and discovered that I've actually completed 10 of the 14 repeats of the main chart, and they are going quite quickly now that I've got the pattern memorized and the centre stitch marked. Then it's just the charts with the beads to finish, and a bit of edging. I think it's doable. Plus I really, really want to finish the Monkey socks I've got on the go at the minute. I'm halfway through the heel flap of the second sock, and they are going to be SO COMFY!

So, I've now signed up to attempt all three projects for the Ravelympics - my original Pomatomus Socks, the Swallowtail Shawl, and the Monkey Socks. I can wear 2 of the 3 to iKnit Day to meet Ms Pearl-McPhee. And it will be good. Fortunately, tomorrow night (the first big session for me of Olympic knitting) my spouse is going to be spending the evening at a beer festival. I will have the flat to myself, and can knit away to my heart's content. Or discontent, depending on how well my chart-reading goes.

There is only one question left to be answered. Which project will I work on first?

Monday, 4 August 2008

Mission:Possible review

It's now August, so I thought I should probably look over this list again.

1-4: Finished four of the original list - Monkey Socks, Black shawl, Dr Who leftovers, alpaca neckwarmer.
5: Finish Swallowtail out of crimson Eva - still in progress, but I'm working on it here and there
6: Finish the crocheted ripple bedspread that will use up most of my acrylic stash - slowly getting bigger, but right now it's too hot for a lapful of afghan!
7: Knit something, however small, out of some of my 6 skeins of Tapestry - FINISHED!!
8: Knit a pair of Anne-trelac socks - not yet started
9: Knit a pair of Pomatomus socks - not yet started, will work on these for the Ravelympics
10: Mystery project (I may have signed up for a new mystery knitalong) - not yet started
11: Finish Interlocking Cables sweater - FROGGED. The yarn will be repurposed into an Aran sweater for the husband at some point in the future.
12: Knit flag for the 198 Countries Peace Project - FINISHED!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

What a weekend!

I have finished my flag, putting me one project closer to ending the year with no WIPs, and one project closer to completing my Mission:Possible goals. I think I'm going to spend the rest of the afternoon having a leisurely swatching and working on socks session. I'm trying to relax prior to the frantic knitting that will commence on Friday for the Ravelympics!

I did in fact go to the shop yesterday for the needles I need for the vest. Got the needles I needed. Took my knitting friend who has a newborn with me, because she really needed a baby-free couple of hours! And she decided to treat me, since I've been helping with Baby L and generally providing adult company and conversation. So I now have a skein of Noro Kureyon Sock and a new book!

Then in the later part of the afternoon, a bunch of friends came round for tea and biscuits and I acquired more yarn. Newly Knitting Friend had been to the John Lewis seasonal clearance sale a few weeks back, and when I told her over the phone that I couldn't afford to go to a yarn clearance sale, she decided to get me 6 balls of Rowan 4-ply cotton in a lovely pale orange colour, since I'm "the only person she know who likes orange". Enough lightweight cotton for a tank top!

I have really lovely friends.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Plotting and scheming

In one week and 48 minutes, the Ravelympics will officially start. I have my yarn, I have my needles, I have swatched. I will be attempting to make Pomatomus Socks in 17 days. I have never made a pair of socks that quickly, and this is a very fiddly pair of socks! Wish me luck!

I've also been reevaluating my stash. It's amazing what a moratorium on new projects will do for one's forward planning. I've got two skeins of pink-and-purple Posh sock yarn that I'm thinking I'll turn into a Pi Shawl, a very clever pattern based on principles of Pi. My remaining 4 balls of Rowan Tapestry will become a snuggly warm cowl. And the rest of the ball of Rowan Calmer from which I made my Odessa hat will become a baby hat for someone. Don't know who yet!

I've very nearly finished the first of my Monkey socks. Will do that over lunch. Just 3 more rounds, grafting the toe and sewing in the starting bit of yarn! I've also brought the rest of the yarn with so that I can start on sock 2.

For the weekend I'm planning a blitz on the flag. I'm hoping to get it finished so that I can mail it off on Monday. I'm also planning to go pick up the needles I need to make my Ivy League Vest! If I manage to finish the flag, I'll do my swatch for that. Definitely need a swatch, since I want this vest to fit perfectly. Also, it involves steeking, and I'd really like to practice that on a swatch before attempting to cut up my vest!