Thursday, 28 February 2008

New Book!

One of my knitting colleagues and I swapped some books this afternoon, and I came away with a copy of Scarf Style! It's lovely. There were two projects in it I'd seen elsewhere and knew I wanted to make (an Estonian lace shawl and an entrelac stole), but I've just read through it and discovered that actually I'd like to make pretty much everything in it.

The one that grabs me most is a pattern for an enormous crocheted lace wrap that will look stunning in the black-and-hot-pink yarn my lovely grandmother sent me. I just need to go pick up an 11.5mm crochet hook!

Ribbing is finished for the second Monkey sock. Hopefully this one will go as quickly as the first.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Feeling weird

One of the stranger side effects of such a long weekend is that it feels like Monday today, despite it actually being Wednesday. So the next weekend is going to be rather odd when it arrives!

I'm halfway through the final repeat of the foot on the first Monkey sock. Once that's done I'll transfer it to some stitch holders and work the second one down to the toe. I think I may have to make this pattern again, because it's wonderful. I was a little concerned that it was going to be too tight over the heel, but once I'd finished the gusset and tried it on, it fit perfectly. And it's so comfortable! Part of that is just the general yumminess of the yarn, but the pattern is so stretchy that it fits my normal foot and bizarrely skinny ankles equally well. Love it.

Ripple afghan tonight. Although I've just been notified that our game isn't running, so I may just go home and indulge in sock-flavoured goodness.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

FO your viewing pleasure...

...I present a pair of finished Whovian fingerless gloves, made from the finest in Dr Who leftovers! Yes, I finally sat down on Sunday and just finished them. And they are warm and snuggly. It took frickin' forever to sew in all the ends, but I did it. Go me!

Much progress has been made generally over my long weekend, and it isn't even over yet! After finishing the gloves, I decided to work on making a scrap scarf from the leftover Dr Who yarn. I'm not going to be able to add the yellow and green yet, since I'm going to make another pair of gloves yet, but there's no reason why I can't crack on and use up the other five balls of scraps. And I've used three now. Feeling good.

I have been making progress on using up the acrylic too. The ripple afghan is getting bigger, and I've discovered that I managed to make it wide enough to fit my double bed. I've never made a bedspread before. I've also done a ton of work on the back of the cushion cover. I'm not going to have enough of the charcoal grey to make the entire back, so it's going to be partially done in black around the edges. It'll still look good. I've also had an inspiration - the partial balls left from the afghan and the complete skeins that aren't going into it will make great practice scarves for trying out my new book of scarf patterns!

I finished 2 more repeats on the drop-stitch shawl, and I'm planning to do another this afternoon. That will put me at 21 of 28, although I'm definitely going to stop earlier if it's wide enough to stay on my shoulders. It is still boring.

The Monkey sock is getting bigger. I finished the heel gusset last night, so now I've just got the foot to do. I'm concerned about running out of yarn, although I think I've got enough, so I'm going to stop before I do the toes, make the second sock, then work the toes at the same time. If I run out of yarn, I can add some contrast yarn on both to make it look deliberate. I'm thinking black, so that they look like Hallowe'en socks!

Here is a picture of the bulk of my Mission:Possible yarn. It would be so nice to use it all up and have this much floor space back!

And finally, just so that it doesn't seem as though I'm an exclusive knitter, I present my current big embroidery project. I was in the mood for working on it yesterday, so I fished it out. I really love it, I've just been in more of a knitting mode for the last year or so...

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Your projects may be destined for glory

As I discovered last night. The friend for whom I made the Dr Who scarf, along with some other friends, was recently filmed for an episode of the quiz show Eggheads, produced by the BBC. And my friend being who he is, he decided to wear the scarf while they were filming! So the work of my hands is going to be shown on national television at some point.

(Apparently he got some rather odd looks and kudos while wandering around the BBC studios wearing such a classic item of apparel. Go figure.)

Other stuff happening in the world of the Fiend's needlework. The Monkeys are rocking along. I finished the cuff today and am going to work on the heel flap during my dinner break later. They are soft and lovely and wonderful, and it is going to be very hard to not spend Monday and Tuesday knitting them instead of the shawl. But I have decided that the shawl will be finished. Sigh. So I shall be good and put on a DVD (possibly a Lord of the Rings marathon) and see how much shawl I get done in two days. What I may do is knit on the shawl during the day and then the socks in the evening.

I have decided that I am not going to enter the Piecework Exellence in Needle Arts competition this year. I had a very good idea for it, but frankly wanted to knit rather than embroider, and I refuse to be rushed. At the end of the day, needlework is supposed to be my fun hobby, not a source of pressure and stress, so I don't have to knit anything I don't want to. I suspect that I will do some embroidery this year because I have a bunch of big projects I really want to finish (some of which are not in this country! Ack!), but I'll do it as and when I want to. No guilt-tripping on not doing a million things at once.

Maybe that should be my mantra for the year. "I can't and don't have to do everything at once. Slow down!"

Now I just have to figure out what to do with the fabric I cut out for the competition.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

A glutton for punishment

I am getting into the reward theory of finishing knitting. Work on afghan at pub, knit a few rounds of sock at home. Work on fingerless gloves during lunch hour, work on socks at home. Rinse and repeat.

I was looking over my 12 projects, and the biggest difficulty is going to be the two "get rid of a big lump of yarn" goals - the acrylic and the Dr Who leftovers. But for opposite reasons! With the Dr Who yarn, there is so little left of each that it is hard to plan what to make that will take advantage of the colourwork possibilities. Finishing the gloves will use up a good chunk, and hopefully will use up the last of the beige Cashmerino. That will leave me with 6 partial balls of yarn. The green and yellow are going to be used for a pair of fingerless gloves for my mum, and then once they are done I may go back to my original plan of making a scrap scarf for the spouse. That way I can quit worrying about running out!
The acrylic, on the other hand, is so plentiful that I have trouble figuring out what to do with it. The afghan is taking up a good-sized chunk, but it will leave many mostly-used-up balls at the end. I'm planning to make a cushion cover to match the blue blanket I finished last summer, again to give to my friend Lucy. And that will use up the second pillow-form that's lurking at the top of the werdrobe in my living room. And I'm making legwarmers. And a stripey Christmas stocking out of the leftovers from the Nancy Bush yumminess of the autumn. But there will still be a ton of stuff left to figure out what to do with!

I'm still looking forward to the other projects. The sweater will, I suspect, be lots of fun once I get over the hump of joining 320 stitches in a round without twisting them. The Monkeys are great, largely due to the wonder of the yarn. The Pomatomi are still ever so tempting, and I'm planning to spend my two days off next week working on the black shawl. Which, technically, will also use up some acrylic! I'm planning to spend Easter Closure knitting the half-hexagon shawl. It's the sort of project that once I've picked it up, I don't want to put it down again for a long time. So a week is about ideal.

It's funny, I've just remembered what I did last year for Easter Closure. I spent the week sunbathing in my garden while reading a stack of library books and knitting on the blue blanket. I've come a long way since then!

Monday, 18 February 2008

And then there was more

A few other tidbits from the weekend:
-I finally bought some tailor's chalk, also at the market. It should make cutting out garb much easier. Now I just need a yardstick!
-I experienced a first - I twisted the stitches on the sweater when I joined in the round. So that got ripped out and I'm going to knit the first couple of rows back-and-forth to avoid repeating my mistake.
-The sweater was (unsurprisingly) irritating me, so I cast on for some Monkey socks, at long last. And they are fun. Admittedly I'm still working the ribbing, but the yarn is wonderful (more Posh, of course) , the faded orange-y colour is yummy, and it's nice to be working a sock on only 64 stitches and 2.5mm instead of the rather insane gauge of the Jitterbug socks!

Tonight's project-at-the-pub is going to be my ripple afghan. I'd love to take the socks, but I really can't read a pattern in a dim taproom while participating in a meeting. And I really do want to crack on with using up the acrylic yarn.
The nice bit of this whole weekend is that everything I started or worked on (apart from the Jitterbugs) was part of Mission: Possible! I love making progress on my big projects.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Weekend part two - Project Spectrum!

Something I've noticed since joining PS '08 is that my attention is drawn to things in the appropriate colours, even if it's just stuff around my flat. So I present a small photo essay on Fire in my home.

The pictures on the wall in this photo are quite special. The painting was done by a former roommate, and was the preparatory study for a much larger piece she made later. The print of the dragon is a reproduction of the original cover art for the 1st edition Dungeons and Dragons dungeonmaster's guide, and was included in the TSR 15th anniversary commemorative box set.

The parcels are gifts for some friends. The larger one has the Jaywalkers inside, which are also appropriately red!

The roses were a gift from my husband for Valentine's Day.

Weekend part one - photo edition!

So, the list. Fabric for garb - check! Thanks to the wonders of the Walthamstow market, we have acquired 7m of two different wools for two overtunics, 2m of dark green linen for an undertunic, and 2m of linen for making myself headdresses. Woohoo!

Photos for the blog, and a couple of posts. Well, here's the first! I present, first of all, the finished front and the partial back of the granny square pillow. It's stunningly ugly, to quote my brother, but I rather like it. I may finish the back someday, but since I'm just making it one giant square, it's kinda boring.

Next up we have the stripey legwarmers. These are as much a stashbusting exercise as they are a useful project (although I won't complain about wearing them to work!), so they are also in crazy colours.

Finally, we have the true success of the weekend - finished Jitterbug Socks! I got most of the heel done on Friday night while watching a taped episode of Torchwood, and then had to spend way too much time on the Underground on Saturday, so it just sort of happened. But they fit, and are warm and beautiful.

Other things that happened. Well, my time on the Underground was for a good purpose. I had to trek out to a depot in Park Royal to collect an Amazon parcel that contained my last Christmas knitting book "Knitting New Scarves". It is mind-boggling in its complexity. Pages of diagrams on how to hold as many as 6 needles at a time. I love it! I may just start at the front of the book and make every scarf, except for the one that is just woven strips of I-cord. Ick.

I received a package from my lovely grandmother containing 5 rather stunning balls of Bernat Fun Stripes, which are destined to become a sweater once I have used up some other things in my stash!

And I did cast on for the Interlocking Cables sweater, but as it's currently a cast-on round and a half round of white stitches, I decided it didn't need its picture taken.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Needlework plans for the weekend

  • Get fabric for the spouse's first set of SCA garb
  • Swatch and cast on for the Interlocking Cables sweater, now that I have all the needles for it!
  • Take lots of photos
  • Two blog updates - 1 of general stuff, one for PS '08
  • As much progress as possible on the Jitterbug sock, hopefully getting the foot done and the heel started.

There's plenty of other stuff I'd like to do, but realistically, this is going to be about as much as I can handle! I have lots of stash to photograph, plenty of projects, and a ton of Project Spectrum stuff, too.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Ah, the delights of organization

First - I worked on the fingerless glove last night. I am getting there, slowly but surely.

I was having one of those evenings of fidgeting, where I can't really settle into knitting on any one project. So I got down all of my bags of knitting and started reorganizing yet again. And this time I grabbed the biggest bag and put all of the yarn and WIPs for my Mission: Possible into it. So now I can have just that one bag, work on anything in it, and still be making progress! There is still a little bit of M:P yarn in the tub, but the bag was full and I didn't want to induce a yarn-flavoured panic attack.

I also spent some time working on the long abandoned drop-stitch shawl. Not knitting on it, mind you, but cutting and attaching fringe to the part I had already finished. I loathe fringing about as much as I do weaving in ends, and I was having visions of finishing the knitting and never doing all that fringe! So I just did some of it. I'm planning to spend a good chunk of Thursday morning working on it so that I can get some wear out of it before the weather gets too warm to need a heavy shawl.

I had a few moments on inspiration yesterday too. My mum very kindly bought me four balls of Lion Brand Incredible ribbon yarn over Christmas, and I have been racking my brains trying to figure out something that would make the best use of its qualities and the amount. And finally it hit me - I will make a beach cover-up! One of those drapey, lacy wraparound skirt things that you wear over your bikini. It will be perfect, and I can use up every bit of the yarn.
I also found a really lovely scarf pattern for the Suede yarn too - very simple to show off the yarn, but not so simple it will be boring. Woohoo!

I really, really need to get some photos taken. My Ravelry account is looking shoddy and I haven't had a new picture on the blog in about a week!

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Magic - a picture with no picture!

To view a picture of one of my projects living far away with its owner, check out this page.

I swear I was going to work on the glove...

...but the lure of the baby sock was too much for me to resist. I did a heel flap, a heel turn, and gusset and some foot in the space of an hour! Now, I know there are many knitters out there who could do all of those things on an adult-sized sock in an hour, but for me it was pretty darn fast. While in the middle of this bootie marathon, I also finished up a small ball of scrap yarn, taking me down to 122 balls remaining. Which I think is pretty cool.

I realized a difficulty, however, with my plan of counting down balls of yarn. See, most of my sock yarn comes in 100g skeins, which is enough for a pair of socks (or gloves, or mittens, or many other things), and these skeins have to be wound into useful balls. However. I am a paranoid and thrifty knitter, and there is little in this world that disturbs me as much as inefficient use of yarn or *eek!* running out mid-project. So when I wind my sock yarn from its skein, I wind from both ends and make two equal sized balls. Then I cut the skein in half.

You see my dilemma? My stash count will vary depending on whether or not I've wound my sock yarn!

Monday, 11 February 2008

Two books and a dream

I picked up an Amazon parcel from the Royal Mail depot on my way to work this morning. And contained therein were Knitting Beyond the Edge and The Gossamer Webs Design Collection. Two very different but equally cool books.

The first is by Nicky Epstein and is the third book in a trilogy of books on edgings. This one is different from the first two in that it has patterns for things like cuffs, collars and corners. All the things that you need to know to truly make the project, not just embellish it. It is basically a stitch dictionary, but much, much cooler. I sat and flipped through, then had to go back to the beginning and look at every single page in detail.
Like most of the author's books, there are the occasional pieces that make me wonder why, but for the most part it is all really good stuff that would work in my wardrobe. Plus the chapter on garment modification is really good.

The second book is more of a booklet. It is by Galina Khmeleva and follows Gossamer Webs: The History and Techniques of Orenburg Lace Shawls. I chose the one I got instead of the earlier one because it had more patterns, but I should have bought the earlier one. The second book seems to build on the first. For example, reviews indicate that the first book has information on choosing yarns and other principles of the technique; sadly, the book I have lacks this information. I suspect that with enough trial and error I will be able to make shawls in the Orenburg style, but for now they are beyond my lace-making ability.

So, last night I had a really freaky dream. I was standing in the snow by a road in the middle of the night. I was outside a farm that raised fleece-bearing animals, and I was spinning laceweight camel/cashmere yarn from roving from the farm using a drop spindle. Which was pretty weird all by itself. But the strangest part by far was that I was spinning this luxury blend as practice - for spinning yarn made of polar bear fur!

Lots of busy, not so much progress

The weekend was good, but broken up. I just couldn't seem to settle into one project, which was really annoying. I could have gotten so much done if I had just been able to put my mind to it. Oh well.

I made some progress on the fingerless gloves. I'm halfway through the second repeat of four for the hand, and I wove in some ends too. I'm trying to do a few ends every time I work on it so that when I finish the edging it's not too nightmare-ish to finish! I also did a couple of rounds on the Jitterbug sock. It's coming along nicely and making me very happy.

I've decided that once I finish the glove I'm going to cast on for a pair of Monkey socks, one of my Mission: Possible projects. I'm making them in orange coloured Posh yarn, so they're good for Project Spectrum too! So, I also spent some time winding yarn. I wound all the yarn for the Monkeys, and finally finished dealing with the yarn that had had an adventure with the puppies. It's all wound and useable, and is destined to become a pair of Anne-trelac socks.

I was going through my bags of yarn and decided that it was time to try out the baby booties. They are incredibly cute, and very quick to knit. In fact, if I'd been able to just sit still and work on them, I'm sure I'd have a pair done by now! Oh well. I'm measuring my yarn as I go so that I know exactly how much I need for a pair. I'll have to try making the other sizes next.

The last, but very useful thing that I did over the weekend was clear out my calendar patterns. Over the last few years I've acquired several pattern-a-day knitting and crochet calendars, and although I'd sorted the knitting ones, I never really got around to the crochet ones. Not any more! I got rid of enough patterns that were not to my taste that they all now fit into one box instead of two. And I've sorted them by project type so I'll be able to find what I want to work on. Woohoo! Organization!

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Furthermore

This morning was very exciting, for the super-secret-special project yarn arrived - and it is so far beyond amazing that I don't have words. I love it. I am thrilled with it. I want to pet it and snuggle it and put it in a bowl on my table so I can look at it every time I walk past. And the designing has begun! Admittedly on a scrap of paper, but still. It's all good.

I have just spent a good dose of time updating my Ravelry account. It's one of those sites that requires more time the more time you put into it. I just went through to add all of my Mission: Possible projects to my project queue, but while doing so found another dozen or so things that I just have to knit! Whoops!

One of these days I really need to get around to inventorying my knitting needle collection so that I know what I actually have. It's very vexing getting ready to start a project only to discover that you don't have the right needles. Especially when It's a circular needle. One of these days I should really get an interchangeable circular needle set.

Silk is yummy

I decided to work on the shawl. An evening alone with no tv, no radio and no spouse gave me the opportunity to figure out what my problem was. I'd stopped working on it because I thought I'd miscounted something and was going to have to rip. Turned out I was just trying to be too clever and not actually count from the chart. Amazing how reading the chart will fix the problems! So I've been working away at it for the last couple of days, making good progress. Slow progress, but good.

I've also been working on finishing the second mitt. I could probably finish it in a couple of evenings, but the shawl is so much more fun!

The Jitterbug sock is amusing me. When I worked on the first one, it took forever to finish the foot. But as I've observed elsewhere, I seem to be getting faster at knitting the more I practice - last night I did almost an inch of stockinette while throwing dice. And the yarn is still beautiful.

In other news, the last of the yarn that was captured by the dogs has now been washed and is drying. I'll probably be able to wind it tonight when I get home from work. This will mean that I'm back to having all my yarn in a useable state, apart from the stuff that's in skeins waiting to be wound into balls.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

A post of many things

And many pictures. First, Christmas stuff! (Yes, I know it's already February, but I've been ill.)

Many lovely yarny things were received, and I have pictures of most of them. First off, the new knitting needles. There is actually one missing from the picture because, well, it's in a project right now. The case holds more needles than it came with, which pleases me greatly. I'm all about the organized knitting supplies.

Then there was the yarn. 4 skeins of delicious sock yarn for three pairs of socks (Austermann Step, Wisdom San Diego and Patons Kroy Sock) and some Bernat alpaca that has already been turned into a scarf and hat this year.

Also received, though not for Christmas, were 4 skeins of Incredible and one skein of Suede, both by Lion Brand. These are very exciting for me, as I've never worked with either ribbon yarn or suede effect yarn. My lovely grandmother also let me have two of her balls of Peaches and Cream dishcloth cotton, so I can finally join the dishcloth party.

One final and very special acquisition was this beautiful skein of sKitches Kettle Drum in the Aegean colourway. Back in November Sheri had a contest of sorts on her blog, basically asking for suggestions of new music. And the random number generator picked me as the recipient of a $25 gift certificate! So I picked this beautiful skein of sock yarn. I think it's destined to become Pomatomus socks when it grows up.

Second - Project Spectrum stuff! Obviously the Jaywalkers are my first project of the Fire section, but I found a ton of embroidery stuff that I'm planning to work with too.

Oh socky sock sock sock


I have finished the Jaywalkers! At last! They don't quite match in their stripes, but they look good anyway. And the friend who is receiving them doesn't have the obsessive-compulsive thing about matching socks, conveniently.

The leftovers are destined to become my first pair of booties, for one of my two pregnant friends. Not sure which one yet. I think I have a pattern picked out, but who knows? Apparently booties are addictive and require one to find millions of patterns to make.

I've discovered an odd character trait in myself. The impression that I've generally gotten while blog-surfing is that finishing a project inspires one to start something new immediately. Not me! I find that I'm inspired to immediately pick up one of my other WIPs and finish it. I like the euphoria of dancing around the room admiring something that I've made. Not in a "I'm so cool" kind of way, but rather a "I never have to knit on this !*?! thing again" kind of way.

It's fairly common for me to finish a project and spend a long-ish period of time never wanting to look at it again. I wonder if this is why so many knitters make more gifts than they do stuff for themselves...

The next question - what to dive into next? I seem to have settled into a comfortable pattern: one project at home, sock in the handbag, odd day of knit 1 row on every single project I have. The Jitterbug sock is in my handbag, but what to pick up for at home? It's a toss-up between the half-hexagon shawl, which is beautiful and colour-appropriate, but fiddly and requiring much concentration, and the lime-green baby jacket, which is small and easy but the wrong colour for Project Spectrum. I'll see how I feel this evening when I get home, I guess. I'd really love to get the shawl moving forward. It was so annoying not to be able to knit on it during my enforced bedrest and long periods of time alone and bored! However, I've just been given back 7 days worth of holiday, so I might just take a day or two off for the purposes of sitting at home and knitting lovely silky goodness.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Whoops!

I may have bought some yarn last night. However, I actually have a really good reason. There is a very special event happening next year in July, and I have been planning to design and knit a project for the person who's event it is. I had intended to ask Dee to custom-dye me some yarn, for I need something very particular for it. Imagine my shock when I looked last night to find EXACTLY the yarn I'd planned to ask for! Right weight, material, colour, amount, everything. So I bought it. Which means that I'm well ahead of myself to get this uber-project finished on time. Fingers crossed!

Other things I did this weekend included:
-utterly fail to work on the second mitt at all
-nearly finish the second Jaywalker (I'll finish it tonight at the Stitch'n'Bitch)
-dig through my knitting and sewing stash to find numerous things I had forgotten I had
-take photos and forget to post them (oops!)
-fish out the second Jitterbug sock and remember just how much I love the yarn
-begin the process of cutting out a chemise to wear to the next revel
-find a partially worked piece of embroidery to work on
-use up two partial balls of yarn! 123 balls left!

So, at lunchtime and tonight I shall be first finishing the Jaywalker and then working on the second Jitterbug sock. Convenient how I will then have a mindless purse-sock AND a set of free needles to start a new sock. And both pairs of socks are suitable colours for Project Spectrum!

I've had to rearrange my yarn storage to help reclaim the living room. I'm actually pretty happy with it. I've basically moved all of the big bags of stuff on top of the wardrobe in the living room, which means that it looks a lot better, and I no longer have the pressure of "Ack! Too much stuff!" sitting at my kniting corner. Well, I still have more stuff out than I'd like, but hopefully I'll get things finished and thus make space. I'm just about recovered enough that I can tolerate the weight of Victorian Lace Today on my abdomen, so hopefully I'll be able to get on and work on the half-hexagon shawl.