Thursday, 31 December 2009

Last of the gifts

Here's a quick rundown of the last of my holiday gifts! In no particular order:

Mum's Tropical Fishbel
Fishbel 001

Pattern is the Ishbel Shawl by Isolde Teague. Yarn is Colinette Jitterbug in Jewel.

The blanket of squares
Granny square blanket

Millions of granny squares, finally finished!

Mitts for my friend J
mitts 001

Pattern is Knucks from Knitty, yarn is a 4-ply alpaca.

A washable shawl for my grandmother

Pattern is Shetland Triangle (surprise!) and the yarn is an aran-weight wool/acrylic blend.

Finally, mum's Christmas socks
broadripples 002

Pattern is Broadripple from Knitty, yarn is the delectable Mirasol Hacho. Used two balls exactly.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Hurrah! Another gift gifted!

Which means more photos!

I've done all of my mailing for the year, so I can now show off the two things that have arrived thus far and been opened. My lovely knitty friend H, who moved to Bristol earlier this year, is a bit of a Studio Ghibli nut. And so ages ago (about two years!) I promised her that I would crochet a Totoro, since she doesn't really crochet. I finally finished it and sent it off, and I swear, you could hear the squee from London!

Yarn was some random DK-weight arylic that the spouse found when I sent him to buy "a ball of Totoro-coloured yarn", plus some white scraps I had left over from Christmas stockings two years ago. The eyes are little black beads. He's incredibly cute, so much so that spouse is now petitioning for one of his own.

H also got a couple of skeins of handspun yarn in her favourite colour. As a knitter and handspinner, I feel it is my duty to pass on a love of handspun to all my knitting friends, so how could I refrain from sending H her first ever handspun yarn?

Monday, 30 November 2009

First gift gifted!

Yesterday my best friend came over to help us get the flat ready for the holidays, since it was the first Sunday of Advent. And since I'd finished and wrapped them, she decided to open her Christmas socks - which means I can blog about them!

Pattern - Anniversary Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn - Posh Yarn Laura, colourway Spruce
Mods - fewer repeats of the lace on the cuff and a shorter rib, otherwise as per the pattern


These were a fun project to make. Lucy picked the pattern and a colour, then I chose the yarn and knit the socks. The lace is easy to memorize and quite pretty, and it was good to get lots of practice in cabling without a cable needle. And the round toe was interesting! I'm going to have to put one on a pair of socks for me and see how I like the feel of it.

I also finished another gift yesterday. Only two more gifts to go!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Teeny tiny stitches...

I'm hemming tablecloths for the reenactment society. Good, because hemming goes really quickly compared to knitting. Bad, because it's miles and miles of itty-bitty little stitches, white on white. Yes, I could make bigger stitches, but these are for high table for an event in the spring and I want them to look perfect!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

A wee bit more shopping

Just realised I'd never posted my haul from the Knitting and Stiching Show! Or in fact blogged about it at all - oops!

I was unexpectedly able to attend this year, which meant that my shopping budget was rather limited. I think I did a good job of being restrained. Only three needlework things and the obligatory chocolate for my spouse. (It's his reward for cooing over yarn and FOs and not complaining about the shopping!)

Two kits were the main focus this year. First, a knitting kit that I've been lusting over ever since I laid eyes on it a few years ago - Sanquhar gloves. I've chosen mulberry as my colour and a pale grey for the neutral contrast. If you can't see from the photo, these are stranded laceweight gloves knitted on 1.5mm needles. I may be mad, but they will be gorgeous once they are made up!

Second, a beautiful kit to make a goldwork holiday ornament. I've wanted to learn goldwork for a long time, but the materials cost has always put me off - especially since I might end up not liking the technique. A small kit for something pretty is perfect. The designer does a range of goldwork kits, but this ornament series are designed as teaching tools. Thus, they've got small areas of most of the usual techniques used with precious metals. And the kits come in silver, too!

The weekend wasn't all shopping, though. A very dear Ravelry friend, SD, had come over from Iceland to visit the show and she came over to have dinner with us. It was lovely to get to meet her in person after years of online correspondence, and we had a fab evening of spinning and gossiping and delicious food. SD was after a spinning lesson, so I gathered my paltry skills and taught what I knew. It seems to have taken, as she's been spinning up a storm since returning home!

Generous soul that she is, SD also brought me some beautiful gifts. Bags of Icelandic fleece and yarn (hello, felted slipper-socks!), some mystery roving in stunning shades of sea glass green, and a treasure of a gift. This is handdyed spinning fiber done by another Posh Knitter, who has his own online fiber shop. SD gave me her double batch of one of his club offerings because it's my favourite colours. Needless to say, I was a bit blown away!

Friday, 6 November 2009

My eyes are square, I cannot see...

No, wait, it's just that I've been looking at squares too long. :)

The blanket is finally done. Done, done, done, up on Ravelry and packed safely away to wait for Christmas. My box of holiday gifts is getting quite full! I also finished the knitting of another project this morning, but it needs blocking to be truly done. And then it can go into the box of holding too...

In among the gifts, I have actually been knitting something for me. It's a very special something - a hat made out of my very first skein of handspun yarn.
Fishbel 005
It's particularly entertaining for me, because in it I see evidence of my spinnerly progress. The mauve stripe is my first skein. It's a 2-ply. The watermelon stripes on either side are later spinning, my first 3-ply to be precise. My singles were enough thinner at that point that the 2-ply and the 3-ply are exactly the same gauge. It's heavy, it's going to be warm, and it looks reasonable enough that one of my knitting buddies thought it was a commercial thick-and-thin yesterday. Why yes, I was pleased about that, why do you ask?!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Things fiber arts have taught me about haircare

Hair and wool are both protein fibers. Many remarkable similarities there!

-Moisture plus heat plus agitation equals fulling. Remarkable how similar that list of no-nos is to blowdrying hair, isn't it?

-Blocking (ie soaking and pinning into place, then allowing to dry) gives wool a specific shape until the next time it gets wet. My beautiful plait-induced waves will do the same, I just need to remember not to visit the waterpark.

-When wet-blocking a wool garment, many patterns recommend soaking it for at least half an hour before washing so that the fiber is fully saturated and gets properly clean. 5 minutes is really not long enough to have saturated hair when taking a shower.

-If one strips all the oil and lanolin out of a fleece while washing, it's a good idea to oil one's hands before carding so the fiber doesn't get all static-y and jumbled. Must remember to condition my hair regularly.

-Longwool breeds tend to have extremely oily cut ends and dry, brittle exposed tips. Spinning longwools is much easier if they have been trimmed first. Hey, just like styling waist-length hair!

-Wool always takes longer to dry than I think it's going to, but it drys faster if it's spread out flat rather than clumped together. I really shouldn't be surprised when the plait of wet hair I went to bed with is still wet in the morning.

Friday, 16 October 2009

And sew it goes...

There are two main schools of thought* when it comes to weaving in ends. The first says not to weave until the project is totally finished in case you have to pick something out. The second says weave as you go, just in case you look at the finish project and discover a sudden need for strong drink as you are confronted with a mess of loose ends all over your nice project.

I have no criticism to make of either school, but I have to wonder if those ends at the end people have ever made a granny square afghan of 225 squares and seen the hundreds of ends such a project generates. Just sayin'. ;)

I sew two strips together, sew in all the ends on that section. Add another strip, sew in more ends. And so on, and sew forth. Someday I'll finish, but I'm feeling pretty mellow about it. And I can actually see real progress, which is a good thing!

*There's actually a third school of thought that looks at the ends, says "Screw this!" and throws the whole thing in a dark closet, but I like to think I have more fortitude than that...

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Huzzah - progress!

This has been a fabulous weekend! Despite working yesterday, I've managed to get tons of things done. The flat is clean and getting ready for cooler weather, everything's tidy, and I've been doing a bit of finishing! Another gift is totally done, and the one batch of Christmas handspun I had planned is soaking in the basin ready to drip-dry overnight. I'm at a bit of a loss to know what to work on next! Sewing more blanket squares, I suppose. Off to go assemble my project bag for the week. :D

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Hey look, a photo!

Thank goodness for packages in the mail, 'cause I've actually got something to blog about! A while back I was lucky enough to win a skein of handdyed yarn from Sheepy Time Knits, and the mail system being what it is it's just arrived. I present 490yds of fingering-weight superwash merino, colourway Pansy Ass.

pansy ass 001

The base yarn is astonishingly squishable and bouncy. I won't be using it for socks since I don't wear socks without nylon content. But that's ok, because this is pretty enough that I want to wear it where it can be seen! I'm thinking either an Ishbel Shawl or a Boteh Scarf would be ideal. Admittedly I'm leaning toward Boteh because I may have cast on for an Ishbel over the weekend...

Saturday, 26 September 2009


Nearly a fortnight between posts, naughty me. I've been busily knitting away on Christmas gifts. And this morning I enrolled on a part-time MA programme! Between those things, and the fact that term starts on Monday at my workplace, well, I've been kinda busy. :D

I finished up a scarf for a friend last night. No pics just in case, even though I'm 99.99% certain she doesn't even know I have a blog. The squares project is moving along nicely. The remaining gifts are doing well, so much so that I've added in another gift to my list. Optimistic, moi? Still, it'll be nice to get all the gifts done and delivered so I can get on with some other things!

I've been taking advantage of the new year feeling I always get in September to have a good sort out. Lots of domestic projects like cleaning out closets and finally getting around to lining our bedroom curtains for warmth and darkening. (Well, I've gotten as far as buying the fabric, anyway...) And I spent a goodly chunk of the afternoon going through my stash, tidying up, sorting and making sure it was all on Ravelry with pictures. Quite a few things had snuck past the camera, but it's all up there now. And I feel like I'm ready to go back to finishing projects.

Monday, 14 September 2009

IKnit Day 2009!

I didn't think I'd be able to go this year, but cancellation of one thing and the start of another meant that my Saturday was free for yarny goodness. So I went! I got up bright and early on Saturday morning, armed with cake, a packed lunch and plenty of carrier bags, and headed down to the Royal Horticultural Halls. I got there early enough that I was the second person through the door, but we all had a really good time standing about in the queue chatting and looking at one another's projects. I love queuing with knitters. :D

The place was not nearly as packed as last year, probably because it was split over two days instead of just the one. There were also fewer vendors. On the other hand, the hall had figured out that knitters really would come to an all-day event, so opened the cafe and restaurant for us (unlike last year) and made sure that the cashpoint in the building had been refilled (since it ran out in the first 45 minutes last year!).

The best thing for me was meeting up with people I knew. Last year several of the Ravelry groups to which I belong had had a meet-up, but I was too shy to go and say hello. Not this year! This year I met, I chatted, I cooed over yarn and babies and admired lace and handspun. And another friend was working on one of the stalls. For her I brought cake, but she and her colleagues couldn't eat all of it. Off I went to distribute cake to all and sundry! Well, not quite everyone, but all the people from whom I bought something, as well as the lovely people from iKnit who were running the event. And of course the Posh Knitters.

I spent a lovely quarter hour with the lady running the Knitting and Crochet Guild stall, trying to reverse-engineer a crochet block. I'm determined to figure it out. Chatted with several people about the new location of the Handweaver's Studio, since I was hauling my purchases in the lovely canvas bag they'd given me when I bought Fifi. And I finally got my hands on a Ravelry 'My Name Is...' badge from a lady who'd brought a bowlful to give away.

Oh yes, there was shopping. ;) Of course there was shopping! I'd gone planning to get unusual and unique things, nothing I could get in a shop. And I really wanted a batt to spin, since I've only ever spun from combed top before. Here's what I brought home:

The big pile of fluff is a batt from Rockpool Candy. She does amazing batts, blended with several fibers and often with findings carded in. This one is merino, milk protein and banana fiber with velvet ribbon, black silk lace and red feathers! It's called 'Bordello' and is 50g of loveliness. I'm planning on spinning it up as a heavy-ish single, then plying it with some plain red merino to get more length from it. The red, purple and orange fluff in the bag is combed top, but it's special. It's superwash merino blended with nylon to spin into sock yarn! I'm finally going to be able to spin and knit socks I can wear.
The yarn is a skein of Infinity Lace from Fyberspates. It's actually the colour of cinnabar. The name is appropriate - it's 3000 yards to 100g! I've got plans for a very large lace shawl. This purchase did mean that I failed in one of my goals, since I didn't really want to bring home anymore laceweight. Ah well. It was worth it.
The rest of my purchases weren't planned, but rather were on my mental list of 'stuff I really want to get my hands on if ever I happen to see it for sale'. The book is the long-awaited reprint of Alice Starmore's 'Book of Fair Isle Knitting'. Pretty much everyone is hoping this means that the rest of her books will be coming back into print in the future. It's a hefty tome, containing everything that was in the original edition from 1988, but with added photos. The leaflet is a copy of a shawl pattern called 'Ishbel'. It's this year's must-knit shawl pattern, since it's so gorgeous, but had only been available online and I've closed my Paypal account. Fyberspates were happily selling paper copies, and I got one just before they ran out!
The mug is my new office mug. It just says "I'd rather be knitting". I've been looking for one for ages, and now I've got one! It'll make my colleagues laugh. They've all seen me squirrelled away in the staffroom knitting away over lunch.

And finally, I was walking up to the bus stop afterwards in the glorious sunshine and decided to play tourist. Westminster was looking gorgeous!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Hip to be square*

A weekend of meetings and being out and about on the Tube gave me lots of time for end-weaving. I've nearly caught up with all the ends on my completed squares - just a dozen or so that still need doing. And I've made and washed all the coloured squares. As of this moment, I only need to make 57 more white squares and sew in the ends. Then I can finally assemble the afghan!

*I'd better finish making these squares quickly, as I'm running out of new titles pertaining to squares.

Friday, 4 September 2009

More squares

I fished out all of the squares I've finished for the blanket and played around with arrangements. I'm about 2/3 done with square-making! I've also rejigged my planned layout so that there are more white squares and fewer coloured than I'd originally planned. First because I'm running low on scraps, and second because the white are quicker to make and finish. I still really like the way it looks, not too plain or boring.

In fact, thanks to the rejig, I've only got 13 coloured squares left to make! Lots and lots of white squares, but I can make about 6 an hour if I'm concentrating on it. Hoping to make 40 or so by the end of the weekend, including all the coloured ones. Then I need to wash this last batch of coloured squares, sew in millions of ends and finish the white ones next week. Then on with the sewing up!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Moving on

Another gift finished, photo-ed and packed away. On with the next!

Tonight was a bit of a personal landmark. We made a meal using a chili from the plant we grew. I've eaten homegrown fruit and veg before, thanks to a rather rustic childhood, but this is the first crop of our marriage. I am happy. Our chilis make pretty tasty terriyaki beef.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Green and growing things

A while back one of my colleagues was thinning out her chili seedlings and offered them around to all the rest of us. I claimed one, brought it home without breaking the stem, and got it safely installed in a spare terracotta pot on the windowsill. 002
Fast forward a couple of months, and it's got fruit! 004Eight so far, and we hope to get at least one more crop off before the end of the growing season. For anyone growing peppers indoors, stray ends of yarn trimmed off projects make great fertilizing tools. Soft enough not to hurt the plant, rough enough that the pollen sticks well.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Mmmmm, sheepy

My flat smells like a sheep. Fortunately hubs and I both like the smell of lanolin, as do most of our friends. I've been washing it bit by bit, done three bags from approximately 20. I've rigged up an empty freestanding tapestry frame into an impromptu drying rack which seems to be working well. 005Of course, I'd somehow managed to forget that washing fleece drastically increases its volume, as does carding. It's just going to keep getting bigger until I get it spun up!

In knitting news, the first Christmas gift of the year is finished and drying out after its bath and blocking session. No pics, of course - you'll just have to take me at my word. I'm still hopeful that I'll get all of it done, although there is a shedload to be done. Including squillions of squares and all their ends. I sewed ends in last night after I finished the knitting on Gift One.

Monday, 24 August 2009

An introduction

My beloved grandmother seems to have taken on the role of my spinning patroness. I was sent on a shopping mission for tools and supplies, and am partway there. So, allow me to present Fifi.

J/Su/Tex cross fleece

Fifi is a chocolate brown Jacob/Suffolk/Texel cross. The fleece weighs 2.35kg, skirted but unwashed. It's currently in a bag in my living room. :D

I've started the process of scouring the fleece. Batch one turned the water a spectacular bright orange colour, so heavy was the coating of lanolin. The fleece is of course a Christmas present, as are the other bits purchased along with it, but I live in London. If I wait until December to start scouring, the washed fleece will never dry. So, I'm taking advantage of the hot August sunshine to wash it. Once it's thoroughly dry, I'll pack it away to play with in the new year.

(That's a pint glass in the photo, by the way. This thing is enormous!)

Friday, 21 August 2009

The great post of numbers

225 - the number of squares I need to make the blanket I'm working on

72 - the number of multicoloured squares

153 - the number of plain white squares

15 - the number of squares in a single strip

15 - the number of strips

108 - the number of squares I've finished

738 - the number of ends resulting from making the all the squares

Monday, 17 August 2009

change of plans

Christmas knitting. All the time. That's pretty much all I'm doing right now. I sat down and worked out exactly what I need to do to get it all done, and there's a lot. I will try to have interesting things up as and when I can, but quite a few of the recipients read the blog and we can't have spoiled surprises!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

We have a winner!

And it's me! Unbeknownst to me, the group with which I was participating in WIPs Wrestling decided to have a prize draw at the end of July. Every completed project got you one entry into the draw. And I won! My prize was a skein of hand-dyed yarn from Sheepy Time Knits, in my choice of base yarns. I picked laceweight (surprise, surprise!), and am really looking forward to seeing what it looks like.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Note to Self

Projects involving lots of multi-coloured motifs invariably require much sewing-in of ends and much finishing. Neither of these tasks are particularly enjoyable. Quit deciding to make projects that you won't enjoy finishing.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Shawl love

I've abandoned pretty much everything I'm working on right now in favour of my sage green shawl. I love it. It's a less common construction, made by casting on the two bottom edges of the triangle and decreasing on every right-side row until there's nothing left. As I suspected, this construction goes very quickly. With a top-down triangle, the longest rows occur at the point where one is tiring of the project. Done this way, the longest rows are done while it's still a new and exciting project, so by the time it's getting boring most of the knitting is done anyway!

Some clever person on Ravelry worked out the completion percentages for each row of the shawl - I've only finished the first chart and the first row of chart two, and I'm 26% finished with the shawl. Hopefully I'll get a good-sized chunk of it done over the weekend, since it looks like it's going to be wet and gross again.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

State of the WIPs, August edition

July was a marvellous month for clearing the decks. I finished big things, little things and in-between things, as well as making good progress on those things I didn't finish. I even got around to cutting out the lining for a hood I'm making!
Of course, it's hard for me to refrain from starting new projects when I finish old ones. I cast on for a few in the last couple of weeks. Here's where I currently stand on all my yarn WIPs.
First up - a pair of Broadripple Socks I'm making for mum. Very quick, lots of fun. I'm paused in the middle of the first gusset because my needles are a little bit too short for the number of stitches I've got on. I'm working on it at home, but they slip off too easily to cart them around at the moment.

Next, a pair of socks for me from Cookie A's new sock book. These are my current take-everywhere project, since they're just 3x3 ribbing for miles and miles! I'm experimenting with a new tactic on these socks. I've got two sets of 2.25mm sock needles, both of which were conveniently empty when I cast on. I've got both socks on the go at once. I'm working the cuff of the first then the second, then both heel flaps, etc. Hopefully this will ward off the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome.
A large pile of granny squares is up next. This one is designed to use up all of my remaining acrylic worsted as well as the three 400g balls of acrylic/wool I got at the Knitting and Stitching Show two years ago. Now that the bedspread is done I actually know how much I have in the way of scraps and can plan appropriately.

Of course, I have to finish the Totoro amigurumi I'm working on for my friend. It also uses acrylic worsted, so will generate more scraps. Once it's done, though, I'll be free of a big pile of toy stuffing!
I cast on for a simple lace scarf in my very oldest stash yarn. It's the discontinued Rowan Lurex Shimmer, a sparkly metallic fingering-weight. One of my old knitting page-a-day calendars had a pattern that called for exactly four balls of the stuff, conveniently. Basic feather-and-fan pattern, but it's nice.

I also started a shrug using the orange cotton my best friend gave me. It's a single row of two stitches, repeated over and over to make an enormous rectangle. Once the rectangle's done, you pick up stitches at each end and knit a ribbed cuff. Pretty and mindless, perfect for tv knitting.

This, although it doesn't look like much right now, is going to be a sweater for my husband. I've been promising him a sweater for ages, and we finally found a pattern that he likes, I'm happy to knit and uses the yarn I have in appropriate amounts. I'll get stuck in properly once I get the correct sizes of circular needles. For now I'm working on the sleeves, since they use DPNs.

And finally, my current lace shawl. 004You may have noticed that it's neither pink nor laceweight. That's because I ripped out the Aeolian Shawl I was working on. It wasn't making me jump for joy, and something that's going to take that many hours of knitting really should. So my precious pink Cecilia is hibernating, and I've cast on for a new shawl with some Posh Yarn (of course!) to make a heavier winter shawl to keep at work. This colourway is called 'Drift', and although I'm not usually fond of these greens, the Laura 4-ply just leapt off the screen at me. It's 100% merino and incredibly soft and squishy. I'm knitting it up with 4.5mm needles, but I could almost go up to a 5mm and have the lace be just as lovely.

Friday, 31 July 2009

A personal best

One of my Ravelry groups tracks the total yardage of all yarn that each person knits or crochets into a project or otherwise destashes. I've chosen to only count yarn once the project is completely finished. This means that there are months where I've done a ton of knitting but have a very low total. There are also months like this one. Total yarn knitted, crocheted or gifted out of stash - 4889 yards!!!!!!!

Goals for the coming month:
  • Finish the Franken-Mei Socks I'm working on
  • Make 20 more granny squares
  • Make progress on two other WIPs
  • Work on a piece of garb
  • Finish another section of the Santa embroidery

It's too hot for spinning, my hands get all sticky and mess up the fiber. But I'm trying hard to work on all of my hobbies, not just knitting. Tomorrow I plan to do a big photo update, since I've started a couple of projects that have never featured on the blog...

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Sock Madness*

I need new socks. It's wretchedly cold and damp this summer, to the extent that warm woolly socks sound delightful rather than nauseating. I plan to keep working on other things in and around socks, but it's going to be pretty much all socks, all the time for the foreseeable future. For my own reference I'm making a master list of all my sock yarn and the patterns that go with. I reserve the right to select new patterns, of course!
  • Austermann Step - Circle Socks
  • CTH Multi - Coupling Socks
  • CTH Lime Green - Oak Leaf Socks
  • Jitterbug Brown - Spring Forward Socks
  • Jitterbug Green - Leyburn Socks
  • Frankentwined - Kai-Mei Socks, cast on last night
  • Monster Stash - Mad Colour Weave Socks
  • Embers - Nutkin Socks
  • MMM Grey - Plaited Points Socks
  • Blue Wool-Ease - plain ribbed bedsocks for camping
  • Kroy Socks - Extreme 2-in-1 Socks
  • Opal Blue/Grey - don't know yet
  • Red Heart Red - Rick Socks
  • Red Heart Blue - don't know yet
  • Regia Red - See You Later Socks
  • Regia Blue - don't know yet
  • Schoppel-Wolle Dark - don't know yet
  • Schoppel-Wolle Light - Vilai Socks
  • Kettle Drum Aegean - Absinthe Socks

I've also got my Tsock kits, but they are less of a priority because really, they are for fancy wear. My regular socks are for schlepping around the library and walking. And of course, all of these socks are going to generate leftovers, so I need to figure out exactly what I'm going to do with those.

*Not the actual Sock Madness, just my own personal sockstravaganza.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Smitten with mittens

Finally, 9 months after starting them, I've finished my Winter Cottage Mittens, aka Bonfire Mittens*. It's somewhat embarassing to think that someone could have grown an entire baby in the time it took me to finish these. The worst part? The actual knitting only took about a month.

Test-knitting these was a great deal of fun as well as a good learning experience for me. It forced me to really think about the pattern, both in terms of the end product and in terms of clarity and ease of interpretation. I spotted some things that needed changing or fixing, but I never saw a copy of the final pattern. Still, my mittens look just like all the other finished ones - there can't have been much caught by the other test knitter that I didn't find!

I adore this colour. Orange is my favourite colour, and there is so much variety and depth in this colourway. Posh Yarn is always a pleasure! I've got a goodly chunk of the white contrast and even a small ball of the orange left. I picked up a skein of black fingering a few months ago to go with. The plan is to use black or white as contrast and Posh leftovers as main and make more pairs of mittens and mitts. Stashbusting, useful items, warm hands!
*The pattern is called Winter Cottage, the colourway is Bonfire. I like Bonfire much better as a name.

Monday, 27 July 2009


Back at work after two delicious weeks of vacation. After a weekend of a summer cold, films and a mitten, I decided that the mitten would be a good handbag project for my lunch hours. After all, it was halfway done, so even though I wouldn't finish it for WIPs Wrestling all progress is good. Just finished lunch. I'm two rounds away from starting the decreases at the fingertips. I'll probably finish the hand by the end of tomorrow and the thumb on Wednesday. It's amazing what a couple of rounds squeezed into a baking marathon will add up to!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Ruined forever

My foot's feeling better, so I thought I'd get Roy out and spin up some packets of sample fibers this evening. I chose to start with a 5g bag of dehaired camel. Yum. And then I fished out a 5g bag of pure cashmere. I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to spin anything else again. It was like spinning with butter. Or possibly the underbelly fur of the softest longhaired cat. Softer than angora. With practice I suspect I could get a really nice laceweight out of it, but it's insanely expensive!

Ah well. Fortunately for me, the friend who gave me lots of her yarn when she moved also gave me three big bags of fiber. One's a mystery, but there's one of merino/silk and one of merino/cashmere! Not much cashmere, but enough that it's still like spinning butter.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

WIPs Wrestling Update

It's now two thirds of the way through the month. And I've finished four of my six WIPs! Woohoo! The first was the pair of green Monkey socks which were nearly done anyway. The second was this chunky neckwarmer, made from yarn I was given by a dear friend.

Mum's heavy winter shawl, finished just in time for her mid-July birthday. :D It's so big I couldn't block it properly on my bed, so I'll be reblocking when next I visit her.

And finally, the one of which I'm most proud. I've finally, as of 11:30 last night, finished the crocheted ripple bedspread I started two years ago. I can't even fathom how many episodes of assorted crime dramas went into the making of this bedspread. It's on the bed, and thanks to a bout of unseasonable weather was very welcome last night.

And as a bonus:

My lovely grandmother decided that we really, really needed a microwave, since we've never had one. She let me pick, and now this adorable red Whirlpool is living in our kitchen. And thanks to the microwave, we were able to make the popcorn that fortified me through last night's crochet marathon. Thanks Grammy!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Flashbacks - more embroidery

In addition to the small projects floating around, I've also finished a fair few big projects. These two are among my favourites. Just plain cross-stitch, but I love the colours.

A trio of cats, my first big finished piece:
A birth sampler:
This one is very special. I made it for my mother a few years ago for her birthday. You see, I'd discovered that although she's made many birth samplers over the years for lots of babies, no-one had ever made one for her! I picked this one out because she's very into astrology. I spent hours poring over astrological charts to work out the details. Thankfully my grandmother keeps the family birth certificates or I'd never have gotten the time details in secret! It came out quite nicely, I think, although the designer didn't leave much space for the words - I had to rechart a section of it.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Flashbacks, part one

While I was visiting my mother, I took the opportunity to photograph many of my pre-blog needlework projects. Most of what I have there is embroidery, but there are some exceptions!
A few years ago I was helping mum with one of the perennial rounds of organizing, cleaning and purging, this time in all of her sewing stash. We found a bunch of little kits, things that had been freebies with some of her embroidery magazines. Since at the time I wasn't knitting and had very little in the way of embroidery supplies, I swiped them!

A free embroidery needle case that I use to store my sharp quilting needles:

A scissors fob:

A little framed jobbie that mum has hanging in her sewing room:

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Didn't make it

I decided that dinner and double-checking my packing was more important than finishing the sock, so I didn't get it done til the day I got back. I got home, had a cup of tea, unpacked, and sat down to finish that toe! All done now, I'm very pleased. :D
(The second sock isn't modelled because I've got a bandage on my right foot.)

I did a ton of knitting while I was on vacation, unsurprisingly. I was *this* close to finishing mum's heavy shawl, but I ran out of one colour of yarn! I was so vexed! In a nice save, though, the yarn shop is having a 20% off everything sale this week in honour of their birthday. Hubs went over yesterday and picked up the extra skein I needed. I wound it last night, spliced it on, and am sailing away again. Because I only needed the extra skein to do half a row, I decided to add a seventh repeat of the lace pattern. Bigger is always better for a heavy winter shawl! I've got 7 long rows of lace left, then I'll join the pink and work the garter stitch edging until I run out of yarn. I hope to block it this weekend.

Friday, 26 June 2009

So close...

I'm off on holiday early tomorrow morning, which means taking the last train to the airport tonight and sleeping on a bench. And I'm so close to being finished with my second Monkey sock! I've only got 10 rounds of the toe and then the grafting left to do, then it's done. And the rows get shorter as I go.

Of course, I've also got to get home from work, shower, eat dinner, finish the last tiny bits of packing, put away all my knitting stuff and have quality time with the husband. Can she do it? Watch this space!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

WWKIP Day and new knitting friends

Saturday before last was World Wide Knitting In Public Day - featuring the iKnit Scavenger Hunt! I'd heard stories of this marvellous event, but had never been. This year I was determined to go. I even skipped a reenactment event* for it. :D

I got up bright and early on Saturday and headed down to iKnit. Thankfully the Northern Line was running normally! Oystercard loaded up in case of emergency bus journeys and bag full of snacks, knitting and water and I was good to go. None of my regular London knitting buddies was around, so I went hoping to join another team when I arrived. Most people already had teams of the maximum size, but there was another woman who had no team. And thus it was that Grimwitch and JeffNet** met and formed Team Bob!

We'd a long list of tasks to complete, ranging from spotting letters on shop signs to knitting a scarf to taking a picture of ourselves knitting with a naked person. No, really! Here's the photos to prove it!

Knitting in a red phone box:

Knitting with a London policeman

Knitting with pigeons:

Knitting with a celebrity:

Knitting with a statue of a naked person:

Knitting with a bunch of real naked people - the London Naked Bike Ride!

And finally, knitting on a Routemaster bus.

We lost, spectacularly, but had a ton of fun. We even stopped for a dodgy hot sausage from the Bulgarian guys outside the British Museum. (As an aside, one of my favourite hobbies is listening to the two of them being snarky about passers-by, since they assume no-one around them understands. Oh, how wrong you are, chaps!)

Then on the Saturday just gone I attended a wedding reception. It being an evening do, I decided to wear my red Swallowtail Shawl over a black dress. Good call - I didn't need the warmth, but I met another knitter! Turns out that a girl I'd been at uni with has turned into a knitter. She came bouncing over to ask me about the shawl and we ended up swapping spinning wheel stories and chatting about Ravelry. Lots of fun, especially when combined with a cheesy disco and lots of champagne.

*It was only the monthly revel, not a real 'event'
**Ravelry names given to protect the innocent!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

A little embroidery

A good friend came round on Sunday for the first time in about 6 months. And while here, she remarked that I'd not done anything on my Santa embroidery. It currently lives on the arm of the couch along the wall, so perfectly visible to anyone who comes in. And you know, she's right. I really haven't. Oh, I'd done the odd bit here and there, but hadn't actually sat down for a good session in forever.
So I did! After she went home again, I pulled out the box of embroidery floss and the pattern and set to. Got a big chunk done and really enjoyed myself. And I've been doing little bits in the mornings before work! And hubs is proving his worth once again. The trouble I often have with embroidery is that there are too many things I could be doing. With a sock, for example, I knit the cuff, then the leg, then the heel flap, then the gusset, foot and toe. Given that I'm making a cuff-down sock, I can't work the parts in any other order. With an embroidery, I can and do work on any bit I fancy, which unfortunately allows my inner dithering side to come out. This is where hubs come in. I can call out to him in the other room "Red or brown?" when I can't decide. After years of practice, he knows to just pick one at random, thus eliminating my dilemma.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Garters and FOs, oh my!

Hubs was out at a wargaming club last night, so I settled in with a pizza, Civ IV, the Phantom of the Opera and went at it. The garters are finished, and I'll be delivering them to mum at the end of the month when I visit. And I managed to finish spinning all the powder-blue fiber into singles! I'm letting them rest on the bobbins for a couple of days. Then I plan to do the plying on Friday evening, followed by a wash-and-whack session on Saturday morning. Photo update on Sunday, if all goes well!

I'm thrilled at finishing the garters. They were my second oldest yarn WIP, beaten only by the ripple afghan. I now only have 3 projects that date from before 2009 - the afghan, the mittens and the crochet Totoro that's hibernating. With any luck, the mittens will be finished this month, along with a goodly chunk of the afghan. And then I'll hopefully finish the afghan in July!

Once the current Monkeys and the mittens are done, I'll cast on for another pair of practical socks. After that, Totoro will live in my bag until he's done. I'm really feeling pleased about all my needlework right now. It's great.

Monday, 8 June 2009

One down, one to go

Had a surprisingly productive weekend, given how busy it was. After work on Friday I'd planned to do a load of knitting, but after ending up doing a bunch of housework in my wheel's corner I got out Roy and did about three hours of spinning! The bag of fiber I thought would never end is looking decidedly depleted, so with any luck I'll finish the singles this week and get the plying done next weekend.

Various trips around London on Saturday gave me the chance to get a couple more inches of garter done. Who knows, I might finish that this week too. And although I went into Loop, I managed to not buy any yarn! I went for a second 100cm circular needle for Mum's shawl, and left with only that. Now I'll be able to actually finish it.

And thanks to an afternoon celebrating Swedish National Day with my half-Swedish best friend and long train journeys on Sunday, I finished the first Monkey sock and got halfway through the cuff of the second! The purpose of the trip was to give hub's Granny her birthday shawl. It fit perfectly, and I think she likes it. My in-laws seem to think I'm a bit mad for loving knitting. Ah well. I think they're all a bit mad too, so it balances out. :D

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Ravelry consensus says...

...that June and July are months for tackling WIPs. Not to be confused with 'Februarys are for Finishing', which is an entirely different task. One of my stash reduction groups is having WIP reduction as this month's challenge, and then July is the WIPs Wrestling Smackdown. Having ended May on a high note of finishing three projects over a single weekend and then making surprise progress on the garters, I've decided to go for it.
In June, I hope to get through the following:
  • The green/purple/blue Monkey socks I've currently got going
  • Mum's garters, about 3/4 done after last weekend!
  • The mittens that went into hibernation after post-test-knitting frogging
  • The big batch of powder-blue spinning fiber I've been working on for the last couple of months
  • One granny square a day for my granny-ghan
  • As much progress as possible on the bedspread

I plan to devote July to shawls and a pair of not-yet-cast-on simple socks, since I have two shawls on the go right now, desperately need more socks, and have committed to knitting 4 pairs this year for Mission:Possible.

Finishing all of the above would take me down to 4 WIPs. And depending on my energy levels and free time, I might even get through the bedspread - leaving me with 3!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Silence on the blog means...

... progress on the WIPs! I've been in a bit of a finishing frenzy for the last few days, stemming from the realization that I'd gotten up to an even dozen in progress. Not any more! :D
First up, the fluffy garter stitch scarf I've been working on here and there. fluffy scarfI finished this on Friday afternoon and wore it out that very evening. Took it to a friend's birthday party, where I had an amusing experience. Among the strangers and acquaintances, a former flatmate was there. He remarked that he couldn't imagine me without my knitting! And when another person starting being a bit weird (you know, that whole "why on earth would you knit at a party?" thing), he jumped up and started raving about the wonders of knitting and how cool it is. Yay for great friends who respect my hobby!

On Monday I was good and finished the shawl for hub's Granny. She's much shorter than I, so this will hopefully fit her perfectly.birthday shawl

And this morning I managed to finish my chunky purple hat! Hubs was out at a meeting last night, so I settled in with the hat and a DVD of Twilight that my grandmother sent me. It was good timing too, as it's been pouring rain and windy the last couple of days - I definitely needed something to keep my ears warm!purple hat