Friday, December 22, 2006

Holly Golightly Travelling

So I'm off on my travels for Christmas in a few hours (first to Manchester and then to Watford - ah the glamour - it's not all San Fran here you know!) with my lovely revamped knitting bag.

Rather than work on the veritable Augean stables that is my Christmas knitting list, last night I attacked this:
with these (gasps):
to make this (cheers):

I've had this bag for years and loved everything about it except for the minor inconvenience that it had been completely unusable from about 6 months after purchase. Its poorly designed and constructed handles collapsed under the huge weight of a lunch I was carrying! Various attempts to push them back together being thwarted when carrying even a feather in it, it has lurked unused for several years. When I saw some recycled Sari silk online I knew I had found the answer to the handle issue and so when I saw Sanskrit at Artfibers I pounced on it and after rather more brutal destruction than I realised would be required (the second handle was of course the best held together handle ever seen) and the removal of the velcro closing I now have a travelling bag for the several projects that must be finished by the 27th. (Last phrase said in a high pitched hysterical voice while gathering wool and needles together with a wild look in my eyes).
On that note I'd better sign off. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Knitting Like the Wind...

...well maybe not that fast actually, but certainly as fast as my clumsy fingers will go.

What a crazy idea it was to take up knitting in October, someone should have warned me of the overwhelming urge I would have to knit every loved or even just liked one a Christmas present. The list has been slashed in the last couple of weeks as the looming deadline has made me more ruthless and still I've had to wrap up one sock and an IOU, convert three presents into New Year gifts and I haven't even started on my Ma and Pa's as I'm not seeing them until the 27th, in my mind that is about a month away, rather than... can it actually be so... only 7 days! Perhaps I'll wrap up the wool I have to make things for them with, then it would be like they had two presents wouldn't it?!

Speed knitting has created this gift scarf in a fluffy mohair a like yarn - that is not this colour at all - it's a very rich, bright teal. I have more so I'm sure it will appear again hopefully in a month when natural light is easier to come by! I'm quite proud as I only cast on for this on Monday last thing, which proves to me how much improved I am at least in plain garter stitch on giant needles!Anyway I promised a shot of the gorgeous yarn I picked up in San Francisco. So without further ado here it is:
The colours are doing a bit better in this photo. Some of the jewels of the sari silk are a little dimmed but the feeling is right. It is called Sanskrit and is really divine. I only managed to find one shop within reach in downtown SF but it was a real gem called Artfibers. I squeezed in a quick visit when I was on a lunch break and would have loved to stay longer, and if it weren't for the need to buy Christmas presents - spend more! The grey yarn is called Sumo in colour no 9 and is 66% silk and 34% lambswool and feels truly glorious. I chose it to make the 1T.B. a hat and I can just imagine how comforting this will feel pulled down snug around the ears. It would have been a Christmas present but a January present is so much more original :o) The shop was really great, tucked away in the midst of skyscrapers and designer stores, a haven of peace and inspiration. They make/source all their own yarns and so I really felt I got the unique memento I was after. A lovely reminder of a lovely city. I really fell for the place despite seeing just a tiny fraction - far too much work to do unfortunately but I did try some great restaurants (great Asian fusion places), did a whistle stop tour of the modern art museum (v trendy), drank at The Redwood Room (even trendier) and laughed at the seals arguing at Pier 39 (v touristy!). Sadly I missed seeing the street of many bends - Lombard Street, the Japanese tea garden and hippy Haight-Ashbury and saddest of all Atelier which looked great and had the coolest name of any of the yarn stores I read about. Still I vow to head back as soon as I can and I'll be visiting Atelier then.

Am really feeling the affects of the jetlag - 8 hours time difference is too much for me - my body gets confused when the clocks go back so I expected it to be a challenge! Still I'm making it through the wakeful wee small hours by listening to knitting podcasts which I just adore. I'd never downloaded a podcast at all until I found BritKnitCast (yey have got episode 9 loaded up to listen to tonight) KnitCast and Cast On. Have added CraftLit to the family - thanks Kendra - and CraftyChica is fun when some more general craft and a dose of glitter is in order! I can't add anymore until I'm up to speed with these knitsibs - being a total anorak I had to go back to the start on them all :o)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Like Buses

Well I'm home, landed yesterday after many hours of knitting which made the flight much more pleasant than the one on the way out. Not too sure what time my body thinks it is but it's still up to knitting so it's not broken!

You wait around for ages for one hand knit sock and then like buses three come along at once!

I managed to get my lovely Volcanoes finished just before I left last Saturday and worked on Green Heather while I was away. Sadly for my friend whose Christmas present it is there is only one so far! Knitting is showing me how optimistic I am - or perhaps just utterly unrealistic.... I'm seeing him tomorrow to eat, drink and exchange gifts so it'll have to be one sock plus an IOU!

I really love knitting socks, am definitely already getting better - the only thing I'm not happy about is the toe grafting - my pattern uses something called Kitchener Stitch and I'm thinking I might have a look round the virtual knitting world and check out the alternatives for pair no 3.

Off to wrap it now, photos of San Francisco yarn later, just a small enhancement as I wasn't near any of the bigger shops.

PS Thanks to my 1 true beloved for foot modelling so well :0)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Nearly there

I've been knitting furiously to get number two sock finished for tonight as this will be my last chance to post for a while as I'm away for the next week and a bit. Sadly still not quite there though I am on the foot of number two. I'm now officially a dedicated sock knitter and will be taking wool away with me to make pair number two - these will be for a present so the pressure is on now!

Having got onto the foot of number two I dicsovered that what I assumed was some misnumbering in the pattern was in fact me switching half way through sock one and reading the pattern for socks in 6-ply which is in the same leaflet as my 4-ply pattern. You wouldn't think it was that difficult to stick to the same page all the way through one small sock would you? Oh well you live and learn.

I'm off to San Francisco on Saturday with work and am looking forward to some yarn tourism while I'm there as I hear good things about the shops.

I was really frustrated to find out that Heathrow won't let me take knitting needles through security even though the airline would let me carry them on! Aargh - these ridiculous rules - I could take a pencil which is infinitely more dangerous than a 2.5mm bamboo dpn! Oh well at least it gives me time to catch up on my poor neglected to read pile - saw a timely post about this from Lolly just now.

I'm planning to pack my knitting in my main luggage and then at least I can knit when I'm away and on the flight back as US security seems to be a lot more sensible than UK!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Finishing Line

As planned there has been a lot of knitting this weekend, and I managed to get over the finishing line on these three scarves. Yippee!

Two of these have been lingering just short of the line for a while but I just couldn't get interested in sewing in the ends - especially on the really stripey one, so many to do - and much more exciting knitting to be getting on with like my beloved socks.
The scarf on the right is a bit of cheat to call a finished object of mine really as my Mum did well over 2/3. Thanks Mum :o) It is knit in Sirdar Curly Wurly in Charcoal which I absolutely hated knitting with, so it's a good job Mum came to the rescue to help it get done in time for Christmas. The bobbly nature of the yarn was okay but the base yarn is I think called a 'boucle' style yarn and I really hated the feeling of knitting this - as if you needed to get the dips in the yarn to meet together to make a successful stitch. Uggh. I used all five balls I had in the scarf, so it's a lovely great big fluffy thing and best of all I never have to knit with it again :o) The dark grey one is primarily some mohair-a-like called Sunbeam Sumatra which I picked up a big lot of on ebay. I've put in some stripes at the end in Wendy Shimmer and the pretty sea breeze yarn I knit my first scarf in. I kept the stripes minimal as I was a little striped out after the middle scarf which has that sea breeze yarn as the base. I really loved knitting that one as I added some lovely silky cord, pretty gold thread and several yarns, but it was so tedious sewing in all the ends that I think it'll be a while before I go so crazy with the stripes again. I'm a little disappointed with the edges which dip in quite a lot on some of the stripes as I didn't really know to try and match the yarns' tension, but it's all good experience for me.

Other knitting news:

I have finished the first sock and I LOVE it (with a worrying passion!) - the second one is cast on and I'm sure it'll be finished soon but I was as ever over ambitious to think I might do both this weekend. I'd forgotten how tricky I'd found it to get started on the last one in the terror of the heel but I'm away now.

I have ripped out half a scarf as I decided it looked ugly and it was boring to knit, still at least some of it survived and I'm feeling much happier with it now and thus it is progressing faster.

I also went to my LYS (see I know the lingo!). Sadly it's not great (thankfully I was warned) and strangely combines a limited selection of yarn and knitting/sewing accessories with a key cutters, toy shop and some baby clothes of a pre-fab non-handmade nature???? Oh well, at least they had some pretty buttons and a circular needle which I was after to try out this hat pattern for my brother for Christmas.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The wonderful world of knitting

Taking up knitting has brought me so much more than I could ever have expected. I thought I'd enjoy the crafting and (hopefully :o)) the items but I never imagined that there was a whole secret world of knitting to explore and enjoy. From the first discoveries of online knitting magazines and blogs to podcasts and now this week Stitch n Bitching.

The fabulous BritKnitCast pointed me in the direction of the SnB website and Carrie Anne made groups like this sound such fun that I was determined to pluck up the courage and go along. I've never been the best at that sort of thing but blogging knitters seem so lovely and friendly that I was pretty sure I wouldn't get my head bitten off by the in the flesh version! My knitting friend from work was keen too so with safety in numbers we went along to The Jericho Cafe (great hot chocolate) on Wednesday evening and met some lovely and highly talented knitters. I had a great evening and lots of assistance on my heel shaping. Everyone was far more experienced than me and working on amazing projects but they were happy to help me out and encourage me along! I did need it as I'm not great at reading patterns and the heel took three attempts but is now done and I am on to the safety of the foot - yey!

Knitters are so delightfully generous with their knowledge and so encouraging of fellow adventurers in their secret world. A big thank you to everyone who writes blogs, designs and gives away patterns, makes podcasts and helps out fumbling beginners. I have been so encouraged and aided by everything that is out there (or what I have found of it so far - every day I hear of or find something new). It has made it possible for me to move onto sock knitting when I still envisaged I'd be on plain garter scarves.

There seems to be only one downside - the dent in my bank account! In the last week as well as my proper sock yarn I seem to have bought a couple of larger lots of top quality yarn from ebay.

I just don't know how it happened. All the mixed yarn for scarfs I could justify as it was all for Christmas pressies but already I have abandoned that and started on socks for myself. Now some beautiful Rowan Plaid, called Moonwave - I think I was half won over by the name - has found a home with me and also some mixed shades of Noro Silk Garden. I'm holding the online knitting community entirely responsible - all those beautiful stash pictures drove me to it!
I was trying to wait until after Christmas to buy a big lot of yarn (and ideally a budget one at that)as that was when I was planning to start a jumper project for me but these lovely yarns (there may be some Noro Iro in the post too!) just wouldn't be left unbought. I think I may make this tank top with some of the Silk Garden if I don't chicken out or find something more basic and I'm going to try and find a simple chunky long cardigan pattern for the Rowan but they really must wait until I've done some more scarves as pressies. I'm going to have a big knitting weekend, mmm heaven and get some more completed projects under my belt - maybe even the socks...
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