Sunday, July 30, 2006

Secret Summer Santa

Well, of all the things you expect to happen on a boiling hot Sunday afternoon, getting a visit from the postman isn't top of my list! He claimed he was working overtime, which seemed odd to me, but hey - HE BROUGHT ME A PRESSIE!

I've been taking part in the Angel Yarns forum Secret Summer Santa swap, and I've been waiting not very patiently for my pressie for the past few weeks. I showed amazing restraint and managed to photo it before I demolished all the pretty paper:

And when I opened it I saw this:

The first pressie said "To add to your stash", and inside was 2 skeins of handpainted 100%lambswool. The colours are beautiful, absolutely my favourites and it smells really good too!

The next package said "Perfect for socks", and indeed it is perfect :)

Next was a little pack labelled "Perfect for adding a touch of colour". These are just brilliant, and sizes are 5mm, 6mm, 7mm, 8mm and 10mm, none of which I own and are great for a novice crocheter like me.

Next came two more pressies, one labelled for me and the other for the small badgers (I ate the muffin almost instantly - yum!)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I also got a lovely card (which I haven't taken a picture of), and there was a clue as to who my secret summer santa was.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

A slow snail, hmmm I wonder who it could be ;) I want to say a very big THANKYOU to the lovely blogless Slowasasnail Kate!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Too hot to knit

I can't stand this weather. I'm not one of those people who whines on about the British weather - I like wind and rain and sleet and general coldness so this is normally a great place to live, but right now I'm wilting badly. I had made up my mind that I was going to finish knitting the second regia sock today (whoosh - that was the sound of the deadline racing by) but I managed 8 rows of the heel flap this afternoon before having to give up.

I also tried to carry on with the baby cardigan which is the tulip cardigan from the Rowan Book of Ultimate Knits. It's a very sweet simple girls cardigan with just a lttle bit of lace to add interest, and I'm knitting it in Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino in a subtle duck egg blue. The pattern calls for Rowan handknit cotton, but it's knit at a very tight gauge for a DK yarn (7.25 spi on 3.25mm needles). I swatched for it using some Paton's cotton from the stash, and whilst I got gauge the fabric felt too stiff for a little person's cardi, so out came the baby cashmerino. This is thinner than a DK but slightly heavier than 4 ply and gives a beautiful drape so I'm happy with that. What I'm not so chuffed with is my complete inability to follow the most simple of charts. The pockets have a lace tulip motif on them which is worked over 19 stitches. The chart is correct, the placing of the chart within the pattern is correct but for some reason I keep ballsing it up. It's a present for a friend who's baby is due in the next few months, so I really want to just get it done and move onto something more exciting. Instead, I've spent 2 hours tonight repeating the same 4 rows over and over trying to work out what I'm doing wrong. Maybe it will make sense tomorrow. Maybe.

I have been sticking to the stashalong really well this week and haven't even felt tempted by any yarn. In fact, I even got rid of one ball from the stash! I swapped a ball of Opal Tiger for Socks Soar on 2 Circular Needles by Cat Bordhi. I've only flicked through the book, but I'm finding her writing style irritating so far. Hopefully I'll overcome that and use the book for my next pair of socks, I really do want to learn that technique.

Having felt very smug at having decreased the stash, I was surprised this morning to find myself the proud owner of a new ball of sock wool. The lovely Melody had offered to send me some windy hat thingummys for my ball winder and also put a bar of galaxy and a ball of sock wool in the pack! Thanks Debs :) The colours are so me, I can't wait to knit with it!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Apologies for the blurry photo - I really do need to buy a better camera - and the colours are paler pinky and purple than the photo appears. There's no information on the ballband as to what the fibre composition is, but it feels exactly like opal. There should easily be enough to get a pair for me and baby badger out of this ball, so we won't have to fight over who gets the pink goodness!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

My birthday boys

Happy birthday to the badger boy and ex Mr Badger!

Boy turned 9, ex turned 32. There was cake for the boy:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And cake for the hairy beast too:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I think I prefer the first cakey..... ;)

Monday, July 24, 2006

A confession

Well, I haven't blogged for a few days because I've had nothing to blog about. Yes, dear readers, I have not knitted a single stitch since last Thursday! The socks are unfinished, the baby cardigan is languishing in a basket and whilst I have wound the yarn for my colinette throw into balls, I have done nothing else with it. Sigh.

I think it's mainly the weather that's got me feeling so totally meh, and we also had a very busy weekend. It's the badger boy's birthday tomorrow, and also ex badger's buffday too, so we went to the cinema on Saturday and Chester zoo on Sunday. I took loads of photos but using ex badger's camera, so I can't even post any pics of cute animals.

And thankyou for all the good wishes for the job interview - I didn't get it, but it has made me realise that I do want to work in libraries and get out of education, and I also have a much better idea of exactly what skills and knowledge I need to gain, so it was a good experience for me :)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The full story

So after yesterday's pathetically brief post I shall now fill in the gaps. The job interview was for a post as a library assistant, which is something I have always wanted to do. The interview went well, but there was a literacy test afterwards and the heat had obviously addled my brain and I made a few mistakes. I should be hearing about it in a few days, so will let you all know if I get it.

The knitting injury is a problem with the ring finger on my left hand. When I knit socks I balance the needles on this finger (hard to describe, I may try and take a photo to explain what I mean) and I am getting achey pains in the finger, simiar to RSI style pain. I'm knitting a few rounds at a time rather than working on it solid for a few hours in one sitting and this seems to be helping, although my progress is slower than I want. The socks have to be ready by Friday, and I've only just got about a third of the way down the leg of the second sock. There may be some panicking about this as the week goes on.

The two books I got delivered were Mason Dixon Knitting and Knitting on the Edge. I absolutely love MD Knitting - it's not filled with truly unique, breathtaking patterns, but is a treasure trove of ideas, inspiration and fills you with confidence to find your own knitting style. I also like the fact that the majority of the patterns are for the home, an area of knitting that doesn't seem to always get the attention it deserves.

I already own Knitting over the Edge and so was expecting good things of its predecessor and I wasn't disappointed. This book has an entire section devoted to ruffles - how cool is that?! I think this is a better book than "over the edge" for me, as there are more edgings that I would want to incorporate into my knitting.

And I also got my posh sock club yarn today - the first lot never arrived and so Dee dyed some more for me. She also said she felt bad about it not arriving so sent me 100% cashmere instead of the usual sock yarn! This shop has amazing customer service, and I really can't recommend it enough. The colour is called carnival and is a lovely mix of purple, pinks and oranges. Very scrummy!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

As I mentioned yesterday, I have been starting to think about breaking out from slavish pattern following and designing garments for myself. I have several ideas, but I figure I'll post more about them and ask for loads of advice once I've finished the current WIP's :)

Monday, July 17, 2006

A summary

I woite a very long post, full of deep knitting thoughts and witty asides. Blogger then lost it. I didn't save it before trying to publish (yes, that particular lesson has now been learned), so here's a brief summary of what it contained:

  • I have a poorly knitting hand which is seriously impeding the progress on the stripey socks. They need to be done for Friday and I'm not reacting well to having this deadline. Yarn is Regia Canadian, colourway Manitoba for all those who have asked.
  • I have 2 new knitting books. They both rock.
  • I am knitting a baby cardigan.
  • I have been having design ideas for my 2 hanks of lasso (no slavish pattern following for me!)
  • I have a job interview tomorrow for the world's best ever job and I'm a bag of nerves.
  • I have too much yarn so am stashalonging (with much whinging and complaining).

Hopefully there'll be a proper post tomorrow!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Wool heaven

Firstly I want to say thankyou for all your lovely comments about the Polly Pocket dress, I'm really pleased with how it's turned out and it's always good to free up the needles for a new WIP ;)

Today I went to the Colinette mill shop and had an amazing time. I met up with several knitters from the AY forum and it was a great experience buying yarn with like minded people to help with the choices. Anyway, without further ado, here are the pics of the newly acquired stash:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is Parisienne mohair in velvet leaf with the pattern support booklet

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is giotto in Sunrise (I think - there was no label on this lot)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is more giotto, this time in velvet damson

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

2 hanks of lasso in velvet leaf

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

5 hanks of wigwam in an unknown shade

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

A kit for a perugino throw, again colourway is a bit of a mystery.

With the exception of the parisienne mohair and the throw all the other skeins were from the sale room (hence the lack of info about colour), so it was a total bargain! Now I just have to choose what to knit first...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Pockets make all the difference!

Whilst knitting the Polly Pocket dress I tried to persuade baby badger to try it on or let me hold it against her so I could check the fit. Every time I went near her with the dress she would run away, shouting "I don't like it!". I therefore had my doubts about whether the dress would ever get worn at all when finished. However, I needn't have worried. When I sewed the pockets on, her attitude magically changed, and she demanded to wear it. Result!!!

She even did the pretty dress pose:


Pattern: Polly Pocket dress from Miss Bea's Seaside

Needles: Inox aluminium straights 4mm

Yarn: Rowan Denim, Nashville and Ecru

Pre shrinkwash dimensions: length - 64cm, width - 24 cm

Post shrinkwash dimensions: length - 56cm, width 24 cm

Modifications/thoughts: I increased the length of the hem by 2 inches to ensure it would fit the small one for as long as possible. Other than that, I knitted it exactly as the pattern specified as it was well written and straightforward to follow. The yarn was supposed to shrink by 20% in length but it was closer to 15%. This didn't matter in a dress such as this for a growing badger, but it would make me cautious of using the yarn for a project for myself. I didn't particularly enjoy knitting with the denim cotton but the way it looks and feels after the shrinkwash is very nice, which makes me think I may use it again for projects for the offspring. Also, the fact that it can just be thrown in the washing machine means it scores bonus points in this household ;) Overall, I'd knit it again but this is one of those knits that's all about the product rather than the process.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Nearly finished

The Polly Pocket dress is almost fnished. I stopped procrastinating a few nights ago and knitted the other pocket and did the edgings. I was feeling very pleased with myself until I noticed I hadn't used the 3.25mm needles called for the edging, but rather one 3.25 and one 3.75. Still, it doesn't appear to have made a big difference as the neck and armholes look fine despite with the mismatched needle sizes!

I've also decided that I need to stop sticking to what I know in knitting and start trying new things. I have only ever used backstitch for sewing up as this was the only way my mum taught me, and so the first thing I wanted to teach myself was mattress stitch. I had a quick look at the instructions in this book and then set off. It was sooo easy! I whizzed through the side seams of the dress and couldn't get over how simple and neat it was. It also seems that it would be a lot easier to rip out than backstitch if the seaming needed to be redone (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). Clearly deciding to expand my knitting and finishing techniques is a good idea!

Based on the mattress stitch experiment working out so well I am going to hopefully attempt the following techniques in the near future:

Knitting continental style
Fair isle
Double knitting
Knitting socks on 2 circulars
Magic loop

I think that's enough new techniques for now ;)

In other knitting news I have begun knitting a pair of socks for a friend. Other than the baby badger I have never knitted socks for anyone else, so I'm concerned about ensuring a good fit, especially as her feet are considerably bigger than mine. I've held off knitting socks for others as gifts as they are a lot of effort for people who may not understand the amount of time that goes into them, but this is a friend who I used to work with and who witnessed the sock knitting I did every lunch time. She knows how long they take and has always expressed a desire for handknitted socks, so when she told me she was getting a new job it seemed a perfect reason to make her some socks. These are knitting up remarkably quickly, and I'm sure it's the yarn that's making me want to work on them. Watching the colours and stripes develop is holding my interest remarkably well (I'm clearly easily amused).

And here is the sock in all it's stripey glory

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Friday, July 07, 2006

I can sing a rainbow

I can. I had to sing that wretched rainbow song at a class assembly when I was about 6 and it has stuck with me ever since. It wasn't the highlight of my musical life (that was performing a solo at the festival hall), but I have been humming it all week. The reason for this was because of a few comments left after my last post. Helen commented on the fact that the granny square was yellow (knowing my abhorence of all things yellow), and then Pictish admired the colour of it and this got me thinking.

Firstly, the actual colour of the granny square is very difficult to describe. It's a cross of yellow and green, similar to poorly baby poo. Personally I find the colour nauseous and only used it as it was the nearest cotton to hand. It always surprises me that people can view the same colour so differently, describing it as yellow or green or mustard or whatever else, even allowing for monitor differences. This interest may have something to do with my philosophy background, where the idea of colour perception is a major area of study. This is a little introduction to the theories surrounding perception, if you're interested.

I should now say that I'm mostly quite easy going about my knitting. I will knit for myself, for family, for friends, for charity. I like knitting with laceweight and 4 ply but also have a soft spot for some of the chunky yarns. I have no problem on embarking upon a pattern that requires maximum concentration and will take months to finish but likewise I enjoy a quick FO every now and then. I like silk, cotton, cashmere, angora, wool, alpaca, hemp - basically all natural yarns are a Good Thing as far as I'm concerned. But colour? Colour is a totally different bag of frogs.

I have an irrational hatred of yellow. I find it the most nauseating colour, from the brightest egg yolk to the palest primrose, there is not a single shade that I would contemplate wearing. Orange and peach are also vomit inducing in my eyes. This violent hatred of a range of colours seems odd to me. There are colours that don't really suit me, such as pink, but I still like them. Then there are those colours that look great on me but I feel are not that inspiring (cream, beige and biscuity colours for example). But to despise a colour so much just seems irrational. There are then the colours that I love. Greens, blues, purples and browns in all their hues really float my boat. I'm sure that this is partly to do with my having typical celt colouring and knowing that these are colours I can wear with confidence, but I'm not sure this can totally account for just how inspiring and uplifting I find these shades. I also love blood reds even though I'm sure they clash with my hair. Since I started knitting again I have become so much more aware of colour and the effect it has on me. I'd be really interested to know what any of you feel about cololur and whether you feel the same level of passion about it.

And finally, DianeM asked if I was ok as I haven't posted for a while. Unfortunately real grown up life has been placing demands on me and severely curtailing knitting time. Normal knitting and blogging service will hopefully be returned soon!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Late night hooker

I went to a crochet class on Wednesday and learnt how to wield a hook for the first time. I have to say I was totally incompetant and couldn't get the hang of it. However, I had a bout of insomnia last night and so thought I'd have another go. I made a few practice swatches of different stitches and then decided I'd make a granny square. I got the instructions from "The Happy Hooker" and it was so easy! Granny squares are now my favouritist thing in the world - they're dead quick and use stash, what more could you want?!

Here is my precious first ever proper piece of crochet

I also got a parcel this morning which contained two skeins of Fyberspates laceweight in colourway foxglove. This was a swap with a friend from the AY forum and is such a beautiful colour.

My mind isn't made up yet about what to make with it, although I'm currently leaning towards Ene's Scarf from "Scarf Style". If you can think of any other shawls that take no more than 900 metres of laceweight then let me know!