Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Third Time Lucky

So the labour of love is done and the ITB will have a warm, snuggly head. The close up below is to try and show some of the colours in the yarn, some deep purples and almost greens, but its a dull grey day today and they're not really glowing like they do sometimes - there is a better representation of the colour at the link below. I'm really pleased I persevered with this, having finished it the second time the inclination was just to say, oh well it's not great but it's done. However the fact that this was special yarn and a present meant I ripped out to do it properly. It was a quick project to knit and it really proved to me that it's worth taking the time to get something you're really happy with.

Pattern: Top Down Hat Recipe from Knitting for Dummies - 72 stitches
Yarn: Artfibers Sumo, a silk/lambswool blend in Shade 9, 1 x 50g spool. It is absolutely gorgeous, but very pricey, special occasions and small projects only!
Needles: 6.5mm Bamboo DPNs - 15cm (just about long enough)
Started: 26 January 2007
Finished: 29 January 2007
New Skills?: Bar Increases - I was sort of just fudging increases before but I know a proper named technique now!
Notes: Having done both a bottom up and a top down hat now I'm not sure which I prefer - the top down was useful as I only had one ball of yarn so I could use every bit and the I-cord stalk is cute but I'm not sure I would want this on every hat. If I can work out how to start a top down without it then I think that would be the perfect blend. There is a nice synergy in having knit for the 1TB from Knitting for Dummies which he gave me for Christmas. Hopefully this will encourage many more knitting related gifts.

I've swatched the Rowanspun Thorn for the shapely tank and the gauge seems good to me; so after weeks of preparation for the first big project, I'm finally going to cast on. Gulp!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Not so much toe-up as top down

No toe up sock knitting done this weekend after all as the skein has proved a little tricksy to wind into a ball. I tried on Friday night but had to give up and do something less likely to get launched across the room in a fit of pique. It's been so naughty that I've left it at my sort of MIL's who loves a good challenge to finish the winding process.

The less frustrating project selected was the top down hat for my 1TB who as yet has no knitted love to show for my new obsession. Best that he gets something soon I thought or the comments about the growing yarn mountain may become more frequent.

Here is progress so far - yes that is a complete hat on the right which I am reknitting into the third attempt! The wool/silk blend is very chunky and soft and I completely misjudged the sizing first time round and made a beret - the opposite problem from the kufi situation Grumperina was in recently, I'm pleased to be in good company! I ripped back and cut down the second attempt to 96 stitches but that was still too wide and not at all grippy so out it is coming into an 72 stitch option. The colour is truly lost in this photo so I'll make sure the FO is snapped in daylight. I'm not minding all the reknitting actually as it's very quick on these 6.5mm needles and the yarn is just heaven to touch.

My shopping arrived on Saturday and the Rowanspun is living up to expectations, I'm really pleased with the shade and feel. Yet to swatch but am optimistic it should make a good replacement yarn. I also got my Brittany needles and they absolutely exceed my expectations, they feel so beautiful to handle, shame they're not the size I need for the tank but never mind, I'm enjoying just stroking them at the moment!

I'm really delighted with the service from Cucumberpatch - not only a great deal but such quick delivery. This is the second time I've bought from them, the first was via their ebay shop and they've been brilliant both times. I highly recommend them to anyone who hasn't shopped there, though anyone trying to starve the stash monster should not visit the site under any circumstances. I'm hoping there will be some Rowanspun left after payday as I would really like some in another shade. I'm wondering if I already bought more than I need because of the incredible yardage Piglottie mentioned, sure hope so :o)

Have a couple more days off work to knit, I mean do DIY, so hopefully I'll make some good progress!

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I fear my brain may overload with all the knitting buzzing around up there right now so time for a bit of a download to the knitting ideas overflow depository, this is probably very boring for anyone except me so do feel free to look at the one pretty picture and pass on to more exciting pastures. Come back soon though I even sometimes knit actual things!

Big excitement as my HipKnits sock yarn arrived yesterday - ooh ooh see how beautiful it is?

I'm holding off knitting with it until tomorrow night when I feel I will be able to sit calmly with a cup of tea and Wendy's toe up sock instructions and let rip/falter along getting in a right pickle.

I've been trying to gear up to start work on the shapely tank top I've been dreaming of for weeks but my plan to use some Silk Garden I have for it is feeling a bit ambitious for my first big project. It's knit up at quite a different tension from that recommended for the pattern which is not surprising as it is quite a bit thicker than the recommended yarns. I was debating fiddling with pattern to make it work with the yarn but I'm going to hold off on that for the moment - one challenge at a time I think. So then I thought I might splash out on the actual yarn the pattern calls for but the two options are US yarns which I'm struggling to source on the web in the UK and shipping from US makes the whole project a little pricier than my January pockets can face. After some dallying with the idea of the beautiful Rowan Tapestry which should be about the right weight I have settled for ordering some more January pocket friendly Rowanspun DK in Thorn from this fab shop. I also concluded that self striping yarn will create horizontal stripes (good use of brain here, it does work sometimes thankfully) something that I work hard to avoid purchasing normally, so I'm not sure I should inflict it on my middle just because I love the yarn. The colourway I really like is Moorland and I'd like to see some projects knit up in it as the stripes are more subtle in some of the shades but I haven't found any pics of this one knit up yet.

In a classic piece of me logic having hunted around for the cheaper Rowanspun I then looked at the Brittany needles and a pair of 5mm made their way into the basket - it was still cheaper overall than the Tapestry would have been and I haven't got any 5mm needles and the postage wasn't any more expensive with them and and and :)

So I think I'm settled now on the shapely tank in the Rowanspun (though this may all change when it arrives) but I'd still quite like a tank in the Silk Garden and as if by magic I saw this linked to from the Knit and Tonic blog. Under consideration for the next project pile as it would add cabling to my repertoire. Will it be too stripey? Have 4 skeins of 201 which I think would probably be much more subtle and should be enough? Will check the comments later as I see others are wondering how many skeins used too.

The shawl projects with the Cotton Angora seems like a goer, played around with the yarn a bit and am happy that it is not too heavy for the pattern and will feel gorgeous as a shawl. Just need to get a v large circular needle and have had problems with ordering online tonight - never mind though - plenty to be getting on with.

Other ideas in my head - need a nice chunky cardi/coat pattern for my Rowan Plaid. This is the best so far - but with a collar more like this? More research to do on this.

Have found this great pattern for another vest but I'm not too fussed for the argyle for me so I need to find something this shape but plain.

Am feeling a bit dejected about the driving gloves - more like gloves for the freaky handed at the moment - wrist should be that of a giant, fingers those of a skinny midget, think I can reshape a bit by resewing the seam but the passion to do the second one is ebbing away fast!

Phew time for bed I think, glad that is all out of the buzzing brain, writing things down always helps.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Auction Fever

Oh why is there so much life to get in the way of knitting?

So little weekend knitting was done as a lot of tiling took place, still I have a bath again - yey! Shower is just waiting on getting the grouting done but I feel like we're in the home straight with that now. 1TB and his Dad are putting together a kitchen as I type so progress there too. At least I shall appreciate it when both rooms are done - thank you all for the moral support. It's really not been too bad (keep repeating to self to stay sane).

I did finish up the last of the Christmas presents last night, so here's another photo of a green sock! I promise a rest from this yarn now. It's nice feeling to have the guilt projects done with - will start earlier this year! Also got my Water Aid square done on Saturday - can I claim that as a FO? - hey why not it's only me who's counting and 3 months ago I couldn't have even done that!

Some non blog posting to do tomorrow I think. Talking of which I have been checking the post feverishly for my Hipknits sock yarn but still no sign, had to make a small interim purchase to keep me going. It was an Ebay impulse buy moment and I'm hoping I won't come to regret it too much.

I seem to be a bit stuck on buying bargain yarn and then trying to find projects to fit so I kidded myself I was being quite sensible looking at some Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora in a nice everyday silvery grey for a little cardi type thing. Bagged me the yarn then surfed around a bit on the internet to see what other people had made - see how this process was the wrong way round?Found this review and felt all deflated - my serviceable, washable but beautiful cardi flew off to wait for a day when I am sensible and grown up about yarn purchasing and not 'ooh ooh it's beautiful, I want it, it's a bargain , it's mine now - oh, what do I do with it?'.

I'm thinking a shawl would be more sensible than a cardi as there won't be so much chafing of arms against body etc drawing all the angora away. Does this sound wise my knitting counsellors? Has anyone knit with this yarn themselves?

I've got a pattern for a shawl I would like to make - Dimple Stitch Shawl from my Easy Knitted Accessories book and I think it could work.

The yarn does feel gorgeous, the colour is really beautiful, right up my street and I really love this item so maybe it'll all be for the best. At least I know about Knitter's Review now, what a mine of info that site is.

Thank you all for the nice comments about the glove, it's nearly finished and then on to its friend so more details about that when I have a pair to show off. Off to do some swatching/microwaving of dinners now :)

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Week in Knitting

Well it's certainly been an interesting week. No bath, shower or cooker - ah the joys of DIY and the foolishness of doing your kitchen and bathroom at the same time! Still thankfully through it all there is knitting to keep me sane.

The last very overdue part of the Christmas presents is getting there and should be finished by the end of the weekend (I hope). This is great wool but two pairs of plain socks in the same yarn has tested my short attention span somewhat. A bit of Water Aid square and the fun of creating a glove have helped to keep things moving along.

An exciting parcel from Hong Kong arrived on Tuesday with 12 lovely sets of bamboo DPNs, sizes from 2mm to 8mm making socks in varying weights of yarns now possible. This were just the best bargain ever - £10 for the whole lot, hurrah and thank you Joyce :0) Dreaming of some cosy bright knee highs and have got some fabulous looking sock yarn on its way from HipKnits which I am VERY excited about and which I think I'm going to try and knit toe up. I think sales are about the best thing January has going for it.

In other knitting news I'm actually all caught up with Cast On, I wasn't sure I'd ever catch up but with poor Brenda being ill I'm suddenly there and all ready to go with the new one which arrived today - what fabulous timing! Have also found a couple of other podcasts to try out now I have some more free ear time - Pixie Purls and Pointy Sticks - so glad there are so many out there to keep knitting to.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Today or Someday

Today I finished two projects - hurrah! One is slightly more successful than the other I have to say. Luckily it is the gift that has triumphed.

Here are Dad's Christmas socks finally finished. I'm pleased with how these turned out, I'm getting better at this basic pattern and can even even see the difference in speed and confidence between the first and second of this pair.

The wool is part of a batch of old Patons Purple Heather I got from ebay and it is just perfect for socks, feels like it should be hard wearing, not the cosiest socks but good for some tough love which I know my Dad will give them. I think I used about 3 balls - about 60 grams for the pair.

I put a double line of reverse stocking stitch in at the top to distinguish these from the other Christmas socks for my friend in the same yarn and I like how this looks.

I am really enjoying sock knitting and think they will become a particular passion of mine; can't wait to try some toe-ups and something with a pattern. Maybe not both at once...

It's been a lovely knitting weekend all round (in between some DIY - I see how dusty the house has become from the photos, not sure I should have put my new items on the floor!) I really enjoyed episode 10 of the BritKnitCast podcast which helped me along through the end of the socks.

The second slightly less succesful FO is the hat that was looping the loop - called Peacock originally after the yarn (Sirdar Flash Peacock) but I prefer River and as I'm going to knit a Water Aid river square from it I think it should be called River. The hat is lovely, soft and snuggly, I like how the rolled brim looks but yes it is tiny! It doesn't really fit me let alone my 1TB who can just squeeze it on:
I thought it was small and not very deeep as I was going along but was too trusting that it would stretch out at the end. The magic looping was okay and I got along quite quickly once I was used to it but I think it is a bit of a faff. It's useful to have the option, especially while I'm building up my set of needles but I can't see it ousting dpns for me either Alice, Marianne and Carrie Anne.

I'm glad I tried this pattern out before using my more precious Sumo yarn for the real version for the 1TB. I'm tempted to have another practice with the Sirdar Flash to try and get a better sizing as it will make a lovely hat, maybe I'll go for a top down pattern which I could then add to as required.

I'm at a stage where it's hard to know whether to push on and go for difficult projects with the 'best' yarn or to try and consolidate a bit. I'm leaning towards the consolidation at the moment as I like to do things as well as possible!

I read a post from Lolly on Friday which made me think a bit more about the today or someday question. It encouraged me to list out some projects in two categories - ones to tackle in the near future, and a list to tackle someday. I see so much at the moment that I would love to try but feel that I would benefit from some patience and a bit more learning before I jump in thumbs first. I'm glad to have them here on my blog though to encourage me on.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Looping the Loop

So this rollercoaster ride that is my knitting learning curve continues.

On Monday feeling that the Dad sock was going well but was an itsy bit tedious and would benefit from a teensy break while I started something else, I tried to get going on the hat for the one-true-beloved.

I had bought the gorgeous silk/lambswool yarn in San Francisco with this in mind, but I knew it was too thick for the pattern I had found. So I read some of my Christmas books for advice and concluded if I got the right size circular needle I could alter the number of stitches required. Needle duly ordered I thought I would make a test version using some yarn closer to that recommended. I knit a swatch and decided it was close enough, especially as right after I smugly swatched thinking I was oh so virtuous I read a big thing about how getting the gauge right on circular needles is much harder....

So then I cast on 72 stitches, thought mmm how pretty and knit the first row..... anyone spot what is coming next? How could I proceed? I had this one row I could knit back and forth but there was no way on earth this beauty was making it round my 80cm circular.

So scratch head - grab Knitting for Dummies (no the irony was not lost on me) - turn to section on circular knitting - read sentence which says circular needle must be the same size or smaller than the circumference of the knitting - think my, how obvious that is - stare at needle in despair - brief moment of hope, but oh, oh yes the new needle on order is also an 80cm. Suddenly that old sock is looking mighty lovely again!

Next day at work I casually mention my knitting 'experience' to my ace knitter colleague, in an aren't I funny kind of way, thinking to myself 'say you did this too, say I'm not a super dunce' she smiles sympathetically, and with perhaps a touch of 'ah you novices' says "you need the magic loop, there are instructions on the web."

What is this? The rollercoaster car is climbing again, we're out of the slough of despondency, there may be an answer to this which doesn't involve chain buying one circular needle after another.

I'd heard of the magic loop, often referred to in a mildly disparaging way in sock related articles, but always just let that one pass on by as one of those terms to try and understand later - there is after all only so much information one small dunce can take in at a time.

So Tuesday night I log on to the web, I read an article on magic looping, my head hurts, then I find this video tutorial and you know what? I think I get it. I cast on a few stitches- try it out - think what an almighty fiddly nonsense this is - but hey it's January and it will save me £2.70 - and I do have all those bamboo dpns on their way from Hong Kong to feed the sock habit so I'm clearly in breach of the legal number of knitting needles you can buy in a month - and this is in the advanced techniques section on knitting help so that makes up for that super dunce moment, doesn't it? - so I made this ten stitch tube - and now I'm looping the loop on the hat!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Happier Knitter and Blogger

See how Dad's number one sock that was behaving so badly is finished and feel my happiness!

Also the little scarf I did last week:
Feeling so happy in fact that I stole the percentage bars from Glenna and did some blog editing too. (Whew learning about blogging makes knitting seem easy.)

Lesson learned - some days things go badly, some days they go better - in knitting as in life!

Doesn't mean I've finished all my Christmas knitting for 2006 by 7 January 2007 though does it? Maybe the bars will spur me on and stop me casting on for a tank top for myself....

Friday, January 05, 2007

Sometimes there are signs...

...such as yawning, scratchy eyes, a general weariness.

I should take these things to mean stop knitting and get to bed. Instead I took them to mean, just push on through the decreases you can graft the toe tomorrow. Next thing? Stitches jumping off the needles like lemmings off a cliff.

Eventually it became clear that a new day was going to be the only solution to resuscitating the lemmings.

That was last night, tonight the signs were strong so feeling like a wise white witch I took note and thought I'll photo the mess and blog about it instead, a nice substitute for knitting itself.

Here is the photo:

Or maybe this one:

And yet did the wise witch feel the way the wind was blowing, nope, onto blogger I hopped and I've been fighting with it ever since.
Sometimes bed is the only option!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Plus One

I forgot one of my knitting Christmas presents! Shame on me as I was super excited when I opened it as it's the Knitting Pattern a Day calendar I was busy ogling pre-Christmas.

Two days in and I already want to make both patterns, the angora scarf from yesterday is also making me want to buy that exact yarn - I can see this will keep me busy and poor!

The crafting party was great yesterday did some sketching and paper making as well as knitting, hence no finished scarf to show today despite it only being ten stitiches wide! Hoping to finish it off tonight during This Life, very excited about this one off return to one of my favourite all time shows, almost makes up for it being first day back at work!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Farewell lovely 2006 and welcome fabulous 2007

It is a glorious, blue skied crisp winter day here in Oxford - a perfect start to what I hope will be a wonderful year.

2006 has had its ups and downs but on the whole it has been really great - we said farewell in style last night with a small group of friends and, as it should do, that final memory for 2006 casts a golden glow over the rest of the year.

2006 will go down in my history as the year that I took up knitting and found more than a hobby. I have found a way of spending my time that brings enormous rewards in feelings of achievement and self expression, a means of making gifts that people love (even when delivered late or in part!) and a whole community of knit sibs. Not a bad achievement for a year.

I had a lovely Christmas, suitably blessed with some knitting related gifts - mainly some books which I'm enjoying dipping into but haven't fully explored yet. My crafting auntie also made a lovely decoration for my tree and a wonderful stripey pouch (pictured) which is perfect for storing needles and small bits of knitting kit.

I've done plenty of knitting over the break - still for Christmas gifts of course! Mama seems to like her scarf (see below) - I cast on for this on Christmas Day using my new Stitch n Bitch Nation - it's the Yo Drop It pattern and I feel pleased to have added a new skill to my small but growing repertoire. It was still in progress when she arrived here on the 27th, that was all planned of course as it allowed her some creative input into length and whether to tassel or not! The fact that she did half the tassels herself seems a little mean but she just proved again that she is always there to help me out wherever needed in my life. The yarn came from an ebay store - http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Unusual-Yarns as part of a mixed reds lot and was great to knit with.

Dad's socks are still very much a work in progress, no 1 is still on the needles (hiding out in the top corner of the picture of Christmas pressies) and seeing as he built me a wardrobe during his stay of 3 days this is just not good enough! More feverish work on those tonight.

This afternoon I'm off to a lovely New Year Party - a crafting open house - all welcome so long as they bring some craft to work on - I would take the socks but I've got a scarf to do for a birthday on the 4th! Luckily it's for a soon to be 2 year old so I think I should get it done this afternoon - chunky needles and shimmery eyelash yarn at the ready.

Happy New Year!
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