Sunday, July 24, 2011
I popped into John Lewis on Thursday, to look at some fabric for my Mum. The fabric department is right next the yarn department, and since there was a sale bin in plain view I just had to have a look! I think it must have been the tail end of the sale, because there was (thankfully!) slim pickings. There was quite a bit of cotton and linen which I was tempted to try, but the colours didn’t particularly appeal. This however, jumped out at me.
I’m thinking about pairing it with some cream Ethical Twist yarn to knit a Boneyard Shawl with the Three Country Shawl KAL group on Ravelry (because I clearly need another WIP…). I heard about the group in Episode 7 of the A Playful Day podcast (if you haven’t already listened to her podcasts, do check them out. She is so lovely!), and the current KAL designer is Stephen West.
I tried to knit a Boneyard Shawl a couple of years ago but I hated the yarn I was using, and I’ve always wanted to give it another go. I had a little stash dive and was thinking of knitting it with Ethical Twist on its own, but I’m not really in the mood for a cream shawl and I’m feeling far too lazy to dye it.
I think it could work if I striped these colours though. For some reason I feel like Stephen West patterns need cosy earthy sorts of colours, greys and browns and rusts, and this yarn (“Ochre”) plays right into that for me. It’s a very soft wool/cotton blend and it’s definitely reminiscent of those tubes of yellow/brown paint that I used to play with at school, but it also reminds me of autumn, squashes and pumpkin pie filling. I love it.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Off the needles at last.
Ishbel by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: 54g of unpsun pure silk Mawata (silk hankies)
I am so in love with this shawl. I wish it was for me (I think I say that about all my knits!), but it was made for my Mum. I can’t remember how many repeats of the pattern I did, I pretty much just kept going until I got fed up!
I did think that this would have been bigger, but it’s still a fairly good size (26 inches from neck to tip, 52 inch wingspan).
As much as I love this, I completely failed to do it justice in the photographs. I’ve been putting off writing this FO post because it was really hard to get a decent picture of the whole thing. In the end I resorted to taking a ton of gratuitous macro shots and decided to put the post up anyway, perhaps I’ll have another go at taking better pictures on a day that isn’t completely overcast!
Silk is one of my absolute favourite fibres. I love the dichotomy of it: cool to the touch and yet unbelievably warm, so delicate and yet such a strong fibre.
I’m also completely obsessed with the lustre of it.
Squishbel blocked out a lot better than I thought. This is the first time I’ve knit with pure silk, and my google-fu told me that as strong as dry silk is, wet silk is a whole lot weaker, so I was very wary of overblocking and breaking stitches. Especially since I’d drafted some of this silk a little too thinly in places.
I love the rustic charm of the thick & thin stitches.
I needn’t have worried too much. Either silk is stronger than I’d thought (and it is really strong – perhaps my technique is way off, but I built up a couple of little calluses on two of my fingers from trying to draft out the silk) or I managed to be slightly less cack handed than usual with my blocking, because it went without a hitch and blocked beautifully.
It did lose a little bit of its squooshy-ness after blocking but washing it really brought the lustre out. It also has the most amazing drape.
It might be a while before I want to knit another Ishbel, but I’m definitely looking forward to knitting with pure silk again. I think an obsession with mawatas has well and truly been born!
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Last night I frogged the mystery socks.
The gauge just wasn’t working for me. I was getting the pattern gauge, but to do so I had to go up to a 2.75mm needle and the fabric was far too loose. I like a firm tight gauge for socks, and I could see holes through these when I tried them on. That does not bode well for longevity…
Not a bad nights knitting really! Since my row gauge was hella off, I knitted 10 extra rows after the toe. I also discovered that I’d somehow managed to be 4 stitches short on each sock, but since I couldn’t be arsed to frog back again I just fudged it with some invisible increases. Much better than frogging!
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
I stumbled across this on YouTube yesterday, and then saw it on A Friend to Knit With, and just had to share it here:
I do love Juilia Roberts, she is so beautiful and has the most amazing laugh, and she knits. What’s not to love!? I think I might go stick Pretty Woman on now…
Monday, July 18, 2011
Whilst some lucky people were down in London at Knit Nation this weekend, I was in the kitchen baking up a little storm.
We had guests over for dinner last night (ate steamboat. yum!), and since I haven’t done any baking for an age I seized the opportunity for a little oven action.
I’ve been wanting a cupcake stand for ages, and ever since my friend gave me her extra stand last weekend I’ve been dying to try it out. So of course I made cupcakes!
Vanilla cupcakes with almond amaretto buttercream icing, topped with crushed amaretti biscuits. These are sooo yummy! You’ve got to love boozy cupcakes.
I need to practice my icing swirls. I really want to make those beautiful big cupcake swirls, but from what I’ve seen you need a pretty large icing tip and all mine are on the small side. I’m going to have to hunt down some bigger ones!
I had quite a bit of cake batter left over and didn’t have any more large cupcake tins, so I made mini cupcakes! They are so cute!
I find the size difference really amusing :) So dinky!
Quick crappy phone pic of my cupcake stand in action. There are significantly fewer cupcakes on that stand now. A few might have been nommed for breakfast this morning…
OK. Enough of the cupcake p0rn.
I also tried to make a Japanese cotton soft cheesecake, which was a bit of a fail (although still seriously delicious). I first made this recipe years and years ago, and it came out perfectly – light, soft, pillowy, it was amazing. I thought it would be a breeze again this time, but sadly not. The bottom of the cake is a little on the dense side and a bit eggy, and the whole thing is a little bit soggy and sticky. I have a sneaking suspicion that my oven wasn’t hot enough, and in my efforts not to overmix and knock too much air out of the egg whites, I didn’t fold them into the rest of the batter well enough. Oh well, at least it still tastes good and that’s what counts.
Still, I hate to be defeated by a recipe (it haunts me) so I think another Japanese cheesecake will be made in the near(ish) future.
I even managed to get some knitting done, although not much.
The mystery socks have progressed a tiny bit,
I finished the toe of one vanilla sock and cast on for the second,
and I even managed my weekend mani! I’m obsessed with glitter tips at the moment. This is Bourjois Rose Lounge with China Glaze Fairy Dust and ELF Twinkle. I did 3 coats of the Bourjois, but wish I’d stopped at 2, I think it’s prettier when it’s a little more sheer. It’s also a hot mess since I did it 20mins before our guests arrived last night – eek! Talk about a rush job. All I can say is, thank God for Seche Vite, I must’ve stank of nail polish fumes, and although they were touch dry I still managed to get a few chopstick dints in a couple of nails over dinner. Thankfully the glitter hides a multitude of sins!
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Meet Smith. I love him lots. Even if one eye is slightly bigger than the other…
Smith by Ysolda Teague
This is such a fun, quick, easy pattern. I started him on on a Friday night, finished knitting his head on Saturday night, and added the eyes and nose on Sunday morning, but if you were more studious than I he could easily be finished in a day.
Although the construction is straight forward he is a bit of a fiddly knit. The whole thing is knit seamlessly in the round, with the spikes knit separately and attached to the body as you go along. Whilst this isn’t in itself a complicated process, as more spikes are knit on to the body things start to become a little bulky, and once you have 6 or 7 spikes attached and start to decrease for the front of the body, things can get a tiny bit tricksy.
The hardest part of this project for me were the French knots for the eyes and nose. I can French knot on flat surfaces, but the knotting for this is done after it’s all stuffed and sewn up. Perhaps I was going about it all wrong, but I found it a little difficult knot securely onto the knitting and bury the ends safely enough so that the 2 year old Smith was destined for wouldn’t pull his face off! I managed to fudge it in the end, but if I was going to knit this again I might find some other way of doing the nose as I’m not entirely happy with how that turned out. Or maybe I just need to practice my French knots! I’m probably going to have lots of opportunity since I bought Ysolda’s Otto, Sophie and Elijah patterns when she had her birthday sale last week. I apparently seem to have decided to knit a menagerie for my goddaughter!
Overall though, this is a fantastic little knit with a lot of character, and I love him to bits. If you follow me on twitter you might have noticed that it was with a little bit of reluctance that I let him go in the end, although I’m sure he’s much better off with the little girl he now lives with :)
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I’ve finally cast on for the latest Solid Sock mystery KAL (only 6 weeks behind!). Not sure I’ll finish them by the end of the month, but it looks like a fun pattern. I cast on in hopes of distracting me from my misery at the death of my external hard drive, which houses all of my music and photos. I’m still hoping my little heart out that it can be resurrected. Anyone know anything about corrupt hard drives and damaged NTFS boot sectors?!
I’ve also started knitting a rabbit, although she doesn’t look like much so far.
More WIPs over at Tami’s WIP Wednesday!
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
At the beginning of the year one of my best friends very kindly gifted me some birthday vouchers for The Knit Studio in Newcastle.
I’ve been wanting to visit this store ever since it opened last August, but somehow never managed to get around to it. I finally popped in a couple of weeks ago, but typically forgot my vouchers, so when I arranged to meet a friend for lunch on Thursday I realised that if I headed into town early it would be a prime opportunity for another visit, this time with vouchers in hand.
I love this store. It has all the wonderful yarns that I hear so many knitters raving about and knitting such wonderful things with, but have never had the chance to try. Yarns I have coveted from afar.
Eventually, I settled on some Zauberball.
I was instantly drawn this ball of natural browns and greys. Although I do love colour, I tend to always go for the “safe” option of quite classic, neutral colours, colours that I can just throw on with anything at the last minute without having to think about matching/clashing. I think there is also something rather rustic and organic about shades of brown, grey and cream which really appeals to me. They feel like comforting colours. It seems a little strange to me now, to think of browns as being one of my go-to colours, since it was the colour of my school uniform and I grew up hating it!
I also spied this fiery colourway and thought that it might be nice to travel a little outside of my comfort zone. This is probably the most vibrant yarn I’ve ever had in my possession!
And finally, blue is one of my all time favourite colours, and I just could not help falling for the jewel tones of this Jawoll yarn. (It also reminded me of a few MAC eyeshadows I own, and that’s never a bad thing!)
If any visiting knitters are ever in the Newcastle area, I strongly recommend a visit to The Knit Studio! Located in historic Blackfriars, which is an old 13th century friary and one of my favourites spaces in Newcastle, it is the most darling yarn store I’ve ever seen, filled to brim with all sorts of luscious yarns, fibre, fabrics, books and magazines. The owner, Anne, is also lovely and so friendly! Plus, the store is right next to Chinatown, so lots of yummy eats are nearby!
Friday, July 08, 2011
Whilst you’re there, check out the rest of her blog too. She’s so sweet and is doing a really fun series on knitters you should know. She’s been profiling some fantastic knitters and crocheters!
Sunday, July 03, 2011
I’ve had a lovely lazy weekend.
It’s mostly been spent reading a book I borrowed from a friend (if you found me, hello Ro!!),
and of course, knitting my squishbel.
Hope you guys had a lovely weekend too!