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!