Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What happens when you knit in the dark...

Spurred on by the fact that there are only 22 day's left til Christmas, and thus only 22 days left to finish knitting my Christmas gifts, today I pulled out the Boy's socks. Despite a relatively quick start they're still not very far on at all and I haven't even reached the heel on the first sock yet! Thinking I could get a few rows in before lunch, I took a look at them in daylight for the first time in weeks. It seems that all the night time car knitting hadn't gone as smoothly as I'd thought!

  Christmas box socks by you.

The front of the sock showed nothing but row after row of beautiful rib, but turning things over...

Christmas box socks by you.
Can you see it, just a few rows down from the working row? I guess it's not really too clear on that photo.

Christmas box socks by you.  Christmas box socks by you.

See it now? Row after row of perfect little knit stitches marred by a perfect little purl stitch throughout the entire back row. Somehow I'd managed to screw up an entire row and knit on without even realising it! It's quite clearly the direct consequence of knitting in the dark in the car (as the passenger, of course. God only knows how my knitting would turn out if I dared to knit and drive...). Le sigh.

For a couple of minutes I debated between ripping the whole thing back to the offending row, but I hate frogging, especially since one side had absolutely nothing wrong with it, so the only thing left was to drop each stitch down and pick it back up with a crochet needle. After about 45 mins of wrestling with a crochet needle everything is (almost) fixed. I say almost because I've fixed all of the all-knit and all-purl columns, but I'm far too lazy to attempt to fix the columns which alternate knit and purl, my argument being that they're not entirely noticeable anyway! Also, the fixed columns are a little bit wonky, but I'm hoping that that's nothing that blocking won't solve.

My mission for tonight? To finally get the heel shaping of course! I feel that the Devil's Whore will be an excellent backdrop to sock progression, providing I don't get too distracted by Dominic West :)
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Monday, December 01, 2008


Today is a dreary first day of advent, so I'm staying indoors snuggled up under blankets. I've finished the flowers, which are awaiting shirring elastic to finish them off. I'm determined to progress the wedding afghan to lap warmer status, fuelled by many cups of lightly sweetened chocolate chai spice tea and my white chocolate coconut treat found behind my first advent window.Yum.

chocolate chai spiced tea by you. Advent by you.    
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Destashing and crochet trials

I'm such a terrible blogger! The adage that the longer you leave it between entries, the harder it is to find anything at all to blog about is so true! I've been storing up things that I've been meaning to write about for the last few weeks but somehow never quite got round to it. Maybe this could be a very early New Years resolution, although I'm not really prone to making them!

One of my favourite co-workers decided quit a few weeks ago for various reasons, and today was her last day. I wanted to gift her something handmade as a sort of goodbye-working-with-you (we'll definitely be keeping in touch, so it's not so much a goodbye present), so started on the DROPS pleated bag rather last minute.

last minite bag by you.

I do really like the pattern, and it certainly knits up very quickly (I managed to knit up about 90% of it in a few hours on Thursday night) but things have stalled. There's just something I'm not too sure about, but I can't quite put my finger on what. I really like the pattern and the pleats, which makes me think I'm feeling hesitant about the yarn. I had a rummage through my stash in an effort to some yarn that was heavy enough for a quick knit in a Jules friendly colour, and came across a few balls of some random oddment/remnant yarn that I remember picking up in a few different colours at the Grainger market a few years back for a crazy low price. I'm pretty sure it's a wool blend, possibly even 100% wool based on the fact that I managed to experimentally felt a strand of it, but it's low grade and not too soft. I made a moebious scarf with some of the pink stuff when I first brought it home, but wouldn't knit another garment with it, it's just too rough. Which is why I thought it'd be a good choice for a bag, so I swatched and happily started knitting row after row of stocking stitch. I stubbornly ignored that annoying little voice of knitting wisdom that kept piping up to tell me that my gauge was too tight and the fabric was too stiff to be pretty and carried on regardless, foolishly thinking that all my qualms would be quashed (that's quite fun to say) once the bottom of the bag was seamed, thus getting rid of that weird flared out curled up look that was reminiscent of some crazed skirt and which was really annoying me. Now, with only an inch to go to completion progress has stalled as I have grudgingly admitted that the voice of knitting wisdom was right. The bag is now sitting in a sorry (stiff) heap at the bottom of the bed awaiting frogging and reknitting. Even though it only took a few hours to knit up the majority of the pattern, the prospect of frogging all those stitches just pulls at my heart! Maybe I'll work myself up to it tomorrow night. Think that on my second attempt I'll do a provisional cast on so that I can graft the bottom seam rather than sew it, as seaming is my most hated activity.

Instead, I started work on a yarn flower that I'll attach to a brooch back to fix to the eventual bag that Jules could detach and use as a cute little pin as well if she wanted. I knew I'd seen a pattern in a book somewhere, but could only find a crochet flower pattern in my pre-work morning frenzy. Now, it's been a looong while since I picked up a crochet needles in any other capacity than to rework or pick up dropped knit stitches, so I had to give myself a quick crash course in crochet. It really didn't work. I do want to become better at crochet, but at the moment I'm quite happy to crochet straight up and down scarves thank you very much! Crochet flowers will have to wait until another day. Luckily I found a nice easy knit pattern for knit flowers when I got home from work, and things are working out well. If only I'd found it this morning the boy wouldn't have had to put up with my potty mouthed outbursts and crochet induced strops!

Work on the wedding afghan has stalled also, after a more promising start. I was quite excited to see the trees develop, and they are very pretty, but there's really not been much progress of late. After the 40th row I got a little tired of the frequent little twists, which is silly really as there's not long to go before the first tree section is finished and I can try to get to grips with the flower pattern instead! To be honest, I don't particularly like the flower pattern, but I think I'll stick with it and see how it looks, mostly because I'm too lazy to hunt around for a substitute stitch!

tree of life wedding afghan by you.

My WIP pile has grown quite considerably lately, with 8 projects on the needles! I really must try to actually finish some things before trying to start anything else. Think I'll start by finishing the bag and flower. Small beginnings and all :)
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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Remember remember the 5th of November!

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I can think of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Bonfire night today! It seems to have crept up rather suddenly, I haven't even seen any of those firework safety government awareness ads on tv this year. I haven't gone out to see the fireworks for so long now, but we might go up to the top of the hill next to my house to watch for a little bit tonight. The weather's meant to be a bit damp though, so fingers crossed it won't be too wet! It's much better when it's dry, there's something so magical about the cold crisp night and the smell of fireworks hanging in the air. Might even get a chance to play with some sparklers! I think they can be so much more fun than fireworks. I think we have some in the kitchen drawer that have been in there for years, but I might persuade the boy to go to the supermarket with me to pick up some more. We need some groceries anyway, or at least that's my excuse! (Toffee apples totally count as groceries!!)

Didn't get a chance to post my new stash pics yesterday because the boy came round in the morning after his night shift! I'd planned a relaxing day alone with my yarn and ondemand TV, but instead spent the day with my yarn and ondemand TV and the boy snoring in the armchair in the corner :)

New stash by you.New stash by you.New stash by you.New stash by you.

1.5 & 2mm dpns, because they are impossible to find in the yarn stores in town, some ecru and jade merino tops, and silk noil fibre in vanilla, turquiose and petrol. I've never spun silk before, so looking forward to giving it a shot! I've got a feeling that my spindle is too heavy for it, but I won't know until I try. for Ro & Johnny's wedding

Speaking of spinning, I've finished my ink blue merino singles and started yesterday on the sky blue merino. So far, I'm in the zone with it! I'm still quite a beginner spinner, and although I consider myself fairly competent towards the end of the ink merino I kept overspinning, spinning too fine and snapping the single, and just basically making a complete mess of everything! That's what happens when I pay too much attention to catching up with Spooks on BBC iplayer :) With the sky blue though, I'm almost halfway done with the sky blue and it's spinning like a dream! I'm aiming to spin the whole thing without a single mishap. I'm keeping my fingers crossed...

Onto the knitting now, and I've just cast on for the Tree of Life Afghan for Ro & Johnny's wedding. I decided a while ago to make an afghan for them as a wedding gift, but was taking my time finding it and assumed I'd have a nice long leisurely stab at it because the wedding was originally planned to take place around August. Ro recently decided to bring it forward 8 months and get married in December ( think I wrote about this before). Cue present panic! I was originally going to knit Burridge Lake Aran Afghan, but I like the symbolism of the Tree of Life afghan, especially since Ro is named after the Rowan tree, so I thought it'd be a particularly nice touch. I just love the intertwining branches. Not completely sure about the flower pattern, but don't really fancy looking and swatching a suitable substitute. Not the mention the fact that the tree of life doesn't need seaming, whereas Burridge Lake does! And I do like to avoid seaming whereever possible. Of course I know it's going be nowhere near finished in time for December, but I can give it my best shot!

I better get showered, off to see Quantum of Solace and then have a pub lunch (so much for a diet!).
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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Where did October go?

I can't believe it's November already! This year is just flying by.

Didn't do much on Halloween, but Ben had a goodbye house party/halloween do last Sunday, so the fun and games started then.We've had so many good parties at Ben's parents house over the years that it was quite a bittersweet night (even if his parents are just moving around the corner!). Another closed chapter on my schooldays!

Bens bye bye house/halloween party 26/11/08 by you.
Bens bye bye house/halloween party 26/11/08 by you.Bens bye bye house/halloween party 26/11/08 by you.

Christmas came early! by you.

And this is what has been keeping me from doing practically everything that I've been meaning to do for the past 3 weeks!! The boy gave me a very early Christmas present, so I've been getting acquainted with my new toy. It is so much fun! My faves so far are the hula hoop games, the boxing and the ski stuff, but there's still a lot left to unlock!

Sadly, I don't think I've lost any weight yet but I'm going to have to get a move on because Ro's decided to move her wedding forward by about 8 months, to five weeks from now, so I have barely any time to make myself bridesmaid worthy! I also have to work on persuading Vicky to give me the day off work (more like swap a shift with someone) which is probably going to involve much begging as it's nigh on impossible to get time off in retail during Christmas. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

In knitting related news, I finished another Anthropologie inspired capelet for Julie for a wedding she was going to last Saturday, as she was in the same predicament as I was over the summer.

Julie's cardie by you.

It ended up being a madcap last minute knit, mostly because I spent the first half of the week playing on the WiiFit. I told her the yardage and she bought the yarn, and I recommended against the DB alpaca silk based on my shedding and stretching experiences with it, but she brought me 5 balls of it anyway! I thought she would, seeing as the DB range is about the only yarn brand that John Lewis stocks with so many pretty and vibrant colours. No matter though, since Jules didn't the same yarn availablity issues that I had, I felt it was safe for me to knit the cardigan in a smaller guage, which produced a much more structured fabric that I actually preferred. I knit it slightly smaller than measurements Jules gave me because I knew the yarn would grow. I made the body longer, but since I was running close to the deadline, and running out of yarn, I decided to knit the sleeves at the same time in the round. I ran out of yarn before before I could make them as long as they were intended. You can really see the stitch difference between where I was knitting flat and then changed to knitting in the round for the sleeves, which really bugs me. I would have ripped it back and reknit if I'd had the time, but no such luck. Had no time to block either (damn that wii!), so left Jules with instructions on what to do, and she seems very happy with the end result! Don't think I'll be accepting another commission for such a short time frame in the future though. It's one thing when it's a last minute knit for yourself, and you can try it on as you go to make sure it fits and if it doesn't there's only you to blame, and quite another when someone else is relying on you for something! Way too stressful, even if I brought most of it on myself!

I had Saturday off because it was my mums birthday, but then she went off to LA for holiday, so I got to enjoy it all to myself! What made it even better was that my texere order arrived, and inside was my new ball winder! I've been wanting one of these for ages, but haven't particularly wanted to pay the prices on ebay for delivery from America, so when I noticed that texere were stocking them I decided to add them into my order since I was placing one anyway.

newly wound yarn by you. newly wound yarn balls by you.

They wind soooo much faster than doing it by hand (obviously), and are so much fun that I now want to wind every single bit of yarn I own into neat little balls.

More on the yarn stash tomorrow. QI has finished, it's way past my bedtime, and I'm currently too infuriated by an email I just received from uni to do anything more that lie comatose in bed with my hot water bottle watching a dvd.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

cakey goodness

Oh my lord, it's so blustery today. I almost was blown away waiting at the bus stop on the way home. But not quite. The wind keeps rattling down the chimney, so I'm glad I'm tucked up inside now with a fire and a cup of tea.

So, remember that fruit I was soaking the other week? Well, I finally got around to mixing it into a Christmas cake on Friday
afternoon, or rather 3 Christmas cakes. I always feel like it's 80% fruit and 20% cake every year I make it.

Mixing Christmas cake by you.

It's been one of those things
waiting patiently on my to-do list for far too long. At first I managed to rationalise this to myself
quite sucessfully because although I've
made this cake numerous times over the years, this is the first year that
I've made multiple cakes to gift. In my mind, this seems to add so much more pressure to making the cake absolutely perfect, and since I had only one 8" cake tin, I had to set about on a quest to find another that wasn't absurdly expensive or paper thin. TK Maxx to the rescue. Also, I'm making one for my aunt this year, and since she's on her own a full sized cake would have been far too much, so I had to third my grans recipe (and oh what fun thirding and old imperial recipe is) and of course I didn't have a cake tin that was large enough, so ended up improvising using some kind of foil tin we had lying around the kitchen. Ironically, since I was most concerned about over baking the smaller cake, this one took the longest and ended up making me late for an engagement party I was meant to go to. But at least the cakes are finally made! They smell deliciously of Christmas spices, and I fed them their first dose of brandy yesterday.

Also, after dropping my mum off at the airport on Wednesday, I was left with a huge amount of bananas. They were reduced to 10p a bunch and were still quite firm, and my mum just can't resist a bargain! I knew I wouldn't finish them all so I decided to bake up some delicious banana nut bread too.

Banana nut bread by you.

I sprinkled some extra brown sugar and chopped nuts on top on top, which caramelised nicely in the oven while the bread baked.

Banana nut bread by you.

It was so yum warm and straight out the oven, but is also delicious lightly toasted with or without butter and a cup of tea. It's almost all gone now, but I still have bananas so I think another batch is needed pretty soon!
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Thursday, October 09, 2008

11 weeks to Christmas

After this rather frightening realisation I realised I'd better get a move on on my Christmas cakes! I try and do one every year using my grandmothers recipe, but this year I'm making 3 - one for us, one for the Boys family, and a little one for Aunt M. I've been meaning to get my arse into gear and start soaking the fruit for weeks now, but have successfully managed to procrastinate (why admonish my greatest skill?!) for long enough, so this morning I pulled out the jars of raisins, currants, peel and cherries and finally started weighing.

Soaking fruit for the Christmas cake by you. Soaking fruit for the Christmas cake by you.

Now, three beautiful bowls of dried fruit and glacee cherries are languishing in French brandy until they're suitably alcohol infused to bake into a lovely traditional boozy Christmas cake. I love how the brandy mixed with the sugar from the fruit makes it all look so glossy and jewelled, especially in that autumn morning sun.

It took me shamefully longer than I would have liked to work out one third of the original recipes imperial measurements for the mini cake, but I managed to scrape together just enough fruit for the three cakes without needing to go to the supermarket to make up any shortfalls, although I do need to restock the cupboard with a few odds and ends now. I did however run out of whole almonds for the second of the larger cakes, but I figure that the nuts aren't going to soak up any booze so they can wait until to tomorrow when I shall motivate myself in the direction of the supermarket.

Secondly, I had my interview with the Citizens Advice Bureau on Tuesday morning, and got the call later on that day to say that I'd been accepted, so big yay that I'm doing something constructive with my time this year that'll hopefully help me to get a job! I start my induction on Monday, and should hopefully be advising by around February time.

I had a few hours to kill after my interview before I was meeting Danielle, so wandered around the John Lewis and Fenwicks yarn deptartments to oggle the yarn. Picked up a whole load of yarn in John Lewis thinking it would make quite a nice argyle-style vest, but relented and in the end put it all back. I also saw a rather cute idea in some variagated Wendy Happy 4 ply sock yarn. Each colourway is named after a different star sign, which quite an adorable idea! Unfortunately, after much googling today it seems that for some reason, all the stores I've found that stock the range only have 8 different colourways. I'm not sure whether that's because that's all that Wendy have made (which would seem rather odd) or whether the other 4 are just shockingly rare, but I would have liked to knit my own star sign socks, but it seems that my own Saggitarian sign is most definitely missing. I am quite drawn to the Pisces colour though, so maybe I'll cave in one day.

Lastly, my tickle in the throat on Tuesday has developed into a full blown cold, despite all my efforts to ward it off, so I'm off to snuggle up in bed and try and sleep it out. Just one last picture of my (slow) Thermal progress...

Thermal progress by you.

Hopefully it'll be finished by Christmas!
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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Catching up

I swear this week has completely run away from me, I really can't believe how quickly it's vanished.

Lunch by you. Lunch by you.

Thursdays lunch was yummy leftover Pizza Hut pizza from lunch on Wednesday (2 slices of my medium make-your-own concoction of jalapenos, chorizo, chicken breast, spicy pork and red onion, and one slice of the Boys large meat feast) with some leftover garlic ciabatta from earlier on in the week, and some home grown salad leaves and avacado drizzled with a bit of sesame oil, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Truly scrumptious.

Most of Thursday was spent filling in my new botanic filofax (you can just about see it in the top left corner of the pizza pic) which I've been lusting after for months. Luckily, we wandered over to Borders after Wednesdays pizza lunch found out that Paperchase was having a 20% off promotion, so I caved in and treat myself to it. It's so so pretty, I spent most of the car journey just looking at it and grinning like a loon! It's such a great feeling to save up and get something that you've wanted for while, I think today's disposable society with so many shops having such a quick product turnover have spoilt us for going after impulse buys.

Anyway, after getting everything up to date and organised I dug out my drop spindle and roving, and tried to rediscover my (somewhat rudimentary) spinning skills. I'd had a smallish ball of cream coloured merino singles lying around for the better part of a year as I didn't have time to knit much, never mind spin last year, and this seemed like a perfect time to try and spin up another single and ply it. After spinning another 3 singles, I plyed the shorter one with the old single, but completely messed it up by putting far too much spin into it! It ended up a completely overtwisted mess, and altough I soaked and dried it to take out some of the twist, Friday evening was spent catching up on episodes of Secret Diary of a Call Girl on ITV catch up whilst rewinding The Hideous Overtwisted Hank with the aid of some scrap material and a trusty peg to take out all of the overtwist. I soaked it again, and it's still damp but seems to have worked.

handspun drying by you.

It's a bit uneven, running a bit thick and thin, but it's a pretty good improvement on my first attempt, and seems to have calmed down into a small but passable length of Real Yarn. Thankfully I learn from at least some of my mistakes, and the remaining 2 singles were plyed together into an even longer and slightly more even length of Real yarn. Spurred on by this apparant success, I've started spinning more inky blue singles. I'm on the hunt for some lime green merino which I think would look rather nice plyed together with the inky blueness.

Also, I finished Dani's neck wrap during the week. I found some lovely small wooden buttons in Fenwicks which look rather lovely with the cream colour of the yarn.

Dani's neck wrap by you. Dani's neck wrap by you.

Improvised pattern
Yarn:Patons Australia Smoothie DK

It's about 3 months late for her birthday but I needed a little something extra to bulk out the presents I already got her, and anyway, better late than never! I saw a similar neck wrap in a little Vogue knitting book in Borders back in September, but wasn't willing to buy the whole book for one pattern, so I decided to improvise my own. It's essentially a mini scarf knit in a simple brioche stitch (or maybe it's honeycomb... I forget) for about 26 inches, with buttons sewn on at one end. I love how versatile the different ways that you can button it up make it, because the stitch is loose enough so that the buttons can just pop through at any point that suits you. I did put little YO buttonholes in at one end, which the above pics are buttoned up to, but you can essentially wear it however you please, using both buttons, or just one.

Dani's neck wrap by you. Dani's neck wrap by you. Dani's neck wrap by you.

I'm not much of a cream/white wearer, but I really love the way the wooden buttons sit against the cream. In fact, I'm so very tempted to knit myself one of these bad boys sometime soon, so long as I manage to wean myself off the long lengths of scarf ends that I'm oh so acustomed to.

Dani's neck wrap by you.

The patten was a bit monotonous (too much purling for my liking) but the end result is pretty worth it, especially for a quick bit-on-the-side knit. One thing I do have to say however, is how much I detest this yarn. Yes, it's soft, and a pretty colour, and budget friendly, but my god does it split. It is by far the splittiest yarn I have had the (dis)pleasure of working with yet, which made it really unpleasant to work with. Having had a little nosey around on Ravelry however, it doesn't seem to be as despised as I would have thought following my experience with it (it's rated 3.5/5) so maybe I just got a bad skein. Still, I won't be rushing to buy it again.

And now bed, and the second half of Westworld beckons.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Big decisions and silver linings

It's been a bit of a crazy couple of months with quite a few ups and downs of late, but the main gist of it is that I'm deferring my last year of uni until next year, which leaves a big empty year for me to fill. The idea of it is both exhilarating and terrifying, as at the moment the exact content of the next twelve months is incredibly uncertain, and uncertainty tends to not sit too well with me.

But, I'm looking on the bright side of things, and with the free evenings that a not entirely unwelcome lack of assignments and deadlines will bring, I'll have plenty of time to destress and catch up on some much needed knitting and spinning. There's something about the crisp autumn air and the quickly closing in nights that really makes me want to spend every minute curled up under a cozy blanket with a pile of knitting and a huge steamy cup of hot tea.

And speaking of knitting, onto some FOs...

P1010635 copy by you.

P1010633 copy by you.

Anthropologie inspired capelet  by Julia Allen
Yarn: Debbie Bliss alpaca silk aran

I absolutely adore this yarn because it is the softest fibre I have ever knit with. It was also an almost perfect match to my dress for the wedding, which possibly clouded my judgement concerning using this yarn for this project. However, as much as I love this yarn, it does have its downsides, the biggest being that it sheds like an absolute mofo! It shed on me, it shed on my bed, it shed wherever I happened to be knitting it. The boy continually woke up in the mornings with blue all tangled up in his stubble. Then when I wore it, it shed all over the boy's suit, all over the car, the seats at various parts of the wedding venues, and pretty anyone who dared to get too close! In short, I was leaving blue fibre absolutely everywhere I went! But at least it was very pretty blue fibre. Also, the yarn is probably a bit too heavy for a garment because it hangs a little awkwardly and it's pretty evident that it will grow quite a bit. It might have been slightly mitigated if I'd knitted a little tighter or used smaller needles, but I was too short in yarn to try.

Aside from all that though, it felt lovely to wear, and luckily didn't actually shed on me on the actual day thanks to wearing a silk dress! The pattern was an absolute delight to knit, and breezed by, which was good seeing as I had a mountain of revision to do. I finished it the day before the wedding before our morning flight down south and snuck a knitters needle into my carry on luggage on the flight so that I  could weave in the ends that afternoon! I probably wouldn't wear it again in a hurry, mostly due to the shedding issue, but would definitely knit another one soon in different yarn.

 P1010641 copy by you.  P1010642 copy by you.

Baby Sweater on Two Needles (February) by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Yarn: Sirdar Snuggly 4 Ply

Knit in acrylic for ease of washing, and in a neutral cream because the sex of the baby is a surprise! It's been pretty much finished for a while, save the buttons, and has been languishing in a folded up soft little pile in desperate need of blocking.

This yarn is the softest acrylic I've used yet! I know EZ touts the benefits of using nothing but wool, and generally I entirely agree, but I didn't think Gems would appreciate having to hand wash this cute little jumper. Knitted this in the round so that there was minimal seaming thanks to clever knits and a little bit of digging around in Ravelry. I love the way the pattern progresses, and although I got very bored of the gull pattern about halfway through, it does look pretty. One of the underarm seams ended up a little mangled, but I'm hoping that a little blocking will save it. Also, silly me completely omitted to consider the button holes until halfway through the yoke, and although I toyed with the idea of creating some sort of afterthought i-cord or crochet toggle loop a la the adorable carrot sweater by hildiesmom in the end I decided to admit defeat and frog back.

On the topic of this jumper, I met up with the recipents mother last week for Ro's home cooked birthday dinner, and felt the little baby kick! It's about four months old and apparently around the size of a red bull can at present. I also got a chance to see the little scan pictures, and in the last one it waved for the camera! I'm so excited that my first ever experience of feeling an in utero baby kick has been Gem's little bump. So cute! I''ve still got the hat, mittens and a bootie to go... plenty of excuses for knitting!
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Monday, August 18, 2008

Emergency knits

So I've decided on the capelet, although if I've time I might knit the shrug too.

My mad dash for pretty and budget friendly cardigans turned into a mad dash for pretty and budget friendly yarn on Saturday after work. Fenwicks was disappointingly scarce of any nice aran (although I did pick up several balls of chocolatey brown and icey blue wool in the sale remnants that I'm imagining raglan potential for. It'll probably take a while for me to actually translate that into any sort of reality though), so I scarpered over to Bainbridges where all the pretty yarn lives, and eventually decided on some deliciously soft Debbie Bliss alpaca silk.

I've used it once before, and it's easily one of my favourite yarns for the simple fact that it's so pretty, soft and sheeny that I could sit and stroke it all day long. So I snapped up every ball of the stuff in the pretty blue green colour that they had in stock. Which made for a total of 4 little balls. How disappointing! I'm a paranoid knitter, ever fearful of not having enough yarn, so I usually buy much more than I ever need. Plus, I was planning on making the sleeves of the capelet a bit longer, so had dreams of buying enough alpaca silk to bathe in. 4 balls was very disappointing. So when I found out there was no more in stock, I bought up a couple of extra balls of brown alpaca silk, for some emergency colourwork edging, and some RYC cashsoft aran so I could knit the whole thing all over again in a different yarn if it didn't work out!

Popped into Hobbycraft on the way home to see if they had any alpaca silk roaming about, and that was a bit of a dud, although I did pick up some nice handmade buttons that I'll turn into a brooch to fasten the capelet when it's done.

Swatched for gauge on the Saturday night, and cast on on Sunday. The yarn sheds a bit, but it's knitting up really quick, although I did have to frog back quite a few rows last night as I'd somehow managed to move my raglan increases one stitch across in one area. How annoying. I'm about ready to divide the armholes now though, so will hopefully get it finished tonight after a day of (not so) hard work revising.

I'm feeling a bit apprehensive about the capelet now though, because I rang up a local yarn store this morning, in a last ditch attempt to find some extra alpaca silk, and although they didn't have any the lady on the phone was nice, when she found out I was making a garment she pretty much slated the yarn saying that she really wouldn't recommend using it, as the weight would cause it to drop and that it pills terribly. Sigh. I can deal with the droppage if it happens, as I'd like the shrug to fit loosely anyway, but I really hope it doesn't pill as much as she said it does! Fingers crossed...

My EZ baby sweater for Gemma's bump is currently stalled until after my exam on Friday, where I have a whole week planned of knitting and spinning. It's coming along quite slowly, but is very cute, and the yarn is the softness man-made fiber I've ever come across, it's gorgeous!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Finally got around to updating my Ravelry page last week after an unorthodox urge to organise things (probably spurred on by re-reading EZ's Knitters Almanac and my rapidly looming exam next week!). After mooching about on the boards for a while I discovered the Ravelympics phenomenon and naturally decided that of course I wasn't procrastinating my revision enough and so signed up for 6 projects. In my defence, I think this is probably the last chance I'm going to get for any intensive knitting before uni starts in under a month, so I really should get started on the baby knits for Gems' bump. Even though she's not due til February I'll have exams and assessments due then, so last minute Christmas knitting will have to go on the back burner whilst I'm holed up revising. Also, I'm kind of sick of having WIPs loitering around at the bottom of my knitting bag, so this is just the kind of push I need to get them finally finished. I've had Thermal on the needles for over 18 months and I want those bloody circulars back!

So after casting on Le Slouch in the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday I at long last finished it yesterday. It's great pattern and a simple knit, and I would have finished it earlier but I was at work all weekend, and then had to frog it back a few inches because I got a bit carried away with the seed stitch and made it ridiculously long! Hum ho. It's done now, but although I like the pattern I'm not really happy with my finished result. For one thing, I modified the pattern slightly to fit with my gauge, as the original called for an aran yarn, and I stupidly chose to use 4ply. My mods worked fine for the ribbing, but I think in fear of it ending up too small I ended up knitting far too loosely, and in an effort to make it slouchy I still managed to make it too long, and it ends up flopping a little ridiculously on my head, alarmingly reminiscent of an ice bag. In an effort to save it, I'm currently blocking, hence no pictures yet. I have little hope of it being saved, and may have to frog it back a bit further and reknit it to a more wearable length.

In the meantime, I've cast on for EZ February baby jumper, and am a whole 4 rows in, and so far the yarn is amazingly soft, so I'm pretty happy! I'm also furiously looking for easy and quick to knit shrug patterns so that I'll have something to wear over my dress for Rachel's wedding next Thursday! It's a gorgeous brown and teal silk halterneck from Monsoon but I wanted a little cardigan to go over the top for the daytime as I feel it may be a little less than modest for a summers day wedding. Unfortunately, I trailed the poor boy round the shops yesterday and couldn't find anything I really liked that would be the right colour. I trawled the Internet for a bit this evening, but still haven't found anything I like that's in my budget, so I'm toying with the idea of knitting myself one. The only problem is, it'd have to be a quick knit as I've got little time and a lot of revision to do before the 21st, plus I'm working Saturday-Monday this week! Had a quick look through Ravelry, and found 2 patterns that seem quite straightforward that I like: the Anthropologie-Inspired Capelet by Julia Allen and the Ribbed Lace Bolero by Kelly Maher. I'm leaning more towards the capelet, maybe worked a little bit longer, but I'm really quick I might be able to knit both and see which I prefer. Since the dress is mostly brown and my accessories are cream I want a teal/turquoisey yarn, so hopefully the boy's going to take me to Hobbycraft on Friday evening for a quick look! If not, I'll have to have a quick look in town on Saturday. Fingers crossed it all works out!
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Monday, April 07, 2008

Brand New Start

Wow, it's been a loooong hiatus.

Currently on the needles are knitty's Thermal and Queen of Cups. I've been meaning to get into sock knitting for a while, so Cups is my first attempt. I'm loving it so far, but I'm only through the first pattern repeat on the first sock at the moment, so we'll see how things progress!

Thermal's been sitting idly as a WIP for a long time now, so I think it's due a revival. I'm just about ready to split for the neck placket and since I'm meant to be revising for exams and finishing off an assignment, I think I'm going to need a lot of knit therapy to get me through the stress over the coming months!

Also, got my Ravelry invite through yesterday, so joined up this afternoon. Misspent most of today exploring and procrastinating.
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