Thursday, August 30, 2007

Best Laid Plans

This has not been a good week. Still ill. Tomorrow I'm off on a work trip for a week and let's just say the timing could be better.

Like you all want for your blogs I want this to be a smiley, happy place but some days those smiles are harder than others. One thing that never fails to help are your comments. Thank you all so much for your lovely compliments on my last two FOs; you virtual friends are coming to mean the world to me and I love to show you what I've done and then I'm always so delighted at the many ways you find to say lovely things about simple little projects. Big smiles for you all :o)

So the Hederas are getting towards the toe of the second sock, nearly there and looking pretty. I'll not take them away with me as there isn't enough knitting left in them to earn them a space in my overcrowded case. They can await my return in a hopefully better state than I leave them.

I've got the Velvet Plum Jitterbug yarn packed to take for the trip and the pattern accompanying me, chosen by 70% of the voters, shall be Esther's. Thank you so much again to everyone who voted. I hope I'm up to it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bearing Fruit

There is just nothing to beat a finished object; never mind the thousands of stitches that I have put towards Arisaig's arm this weekend, two much more simple FOs give me a much greater sense of achievement.

Pattern: Fulled Lopi Tote from Hello Yarn
Yarn: SWTC Karaoke - 1 ball of Wild Cherry; 1/2 ball of Mermaid Mix
Needles: 4x 4mm Metal DPNs
Started: 4 August 2007

Finished: 26 August 2007
Modifications: Swapped Karaoke for Lopi but kept the number of stitches cast on the same, this made for a narrower bag so I made it shorter than the pattern called for to keep it in proportion.
New Skills: Three needle bind off (who knew that would be so easy, the name sounds so
complicated!) Fulling
Notes: The fulling/felting was a struggle. I have to say the pattern was great and I like the FO a lot but it was harder work with the Karaoke than I thought it would be. To brand this yarn specifically as ideal for felting suggests that the merest swish through the washing machine will do the job. After a wash at 40 degrees and another at 60 I'd run out of denims to wash and the bag was as perfect as when it went in! Now I've shrunk woollens in the past at 40 with no problem (accidentally of course) so this didn't seem quite right to me. I then put it in very hot water and gave it a good scrubbing by hand - this had some affect so I then boiled the kettle! Finally success - not the best job for a hot August evening as much vigorous rubbing of a scorching hot bag makes for a warm Sarah! There is more stitch definition left than I would have hoped for at the start but I was just grateful to create a firm fabric by the end. Sadly I deleted the before shot from the camera but there was a fair bit of shrinkage - I think the FO is about two thirds the size of the original knit.

Overall I think this is a cute bag that I am proud to give to my friend but I won't be rushing to make more from Karaoke. It's a shame that it doesn't felt better as I'm not a great fan of it unfelted either. It is distinctly squeaky and easy to break - good job it was a sale bargain and the colours are so gorgeous.

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Basking in the warm glow of cranking out one gift FO I therefore decided that a chunky knit I could polish off nice and quickly should be the next gift project on the needles - my cousin mentioned that she'd quite like some legwarmers when she saw me sock knitting a few weeks ago. This pair from the fab Stitch 'n Bitch Nation adapted for Rowan Plaid proved to be the fastest FO ever :o)Pattern: Roller Girl Legwarmers - Stitch 'n Bitch Nation
Yarn: Rowan Plaid, Moonwave - about 1 and 1/2 balls
Needles: 5 x 6mm Bamboo DPNs
Started: 26August 2007

Finished: 27 August 2007
Modifications: Swapped in a very chunky yarn so dropped the stitches from 60 to 32 for the small size based on the gauge I got.
Notes: Love them! They were a fun FAST knit and look just as I hoped they would. Super cute and cosy. I've already got another pair planned for my friend as well; let's just hope the recipients like them as much as me.

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In other knitting news Piglottie is having a fabulous charity auction for a whole range of goodies such as Hipknits Aran weight silk yarn, Knitpicks option needles and much other loveliness. Details here.

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The Hederas are progressing and it looks like it will be the Esther socks next. I expect the Hederas will be finished by mid week if all knitting goes to plan so any Snicket fans still have a last chance for a vote! Thank you so much to everyone who voted and commented. It's been such fun - I've been checking the poll results every five minutes or so!

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Finally a big thank you to Kath and Blog Blethers for nominating me for the Schmoozer award.This is already a long post so I'll try and contain my speech and not do a Gwyneth and weep everywhere ;0) I'm very touched and pleased that other people enjoy my blog and the frequently inane comments I leave on theirs :o) This knit blogging community has brought so much to my life and the friendliness and generosity of other bloggers is just too wonderful for words. Hurrah for us!

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Socky Dilemma

I had a clear plan to knit the Snicket Socks as soon as my Hedera's are finished and now that Ravelry came along and put a spanner in the works. A spanner in the shape of a beautiful sock pattern called Esther's Socks that I haven't seen before.This pattern comes from a German Yahoo group that I persuaded my German speaking friend to sign up to and get the pattern for me - it is in English so she doesn't have to translate as well :o) She says that the group looks great, they send new patterns every two months and have a good archive. If I didn't spend all my time knitting I'd take a German class.

The yarn I will use is the Colinette Velvet Plum, that much at least I am sure of. I love both patterns but I just can't decide which one to do first.

So I thought I'd try a blog poll and let anyone who wants to vote decide for me :o)

All being well the poll should appear at the end of this post, please vote and when I get the Hederas finished I shall go with the most popular; anyone who wants to expand on their vote in the comments please do so :0)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Switchy swatchy

Feeling a bit under the weather this week and it's reflected in the knitting - a couple of plain blanket squares for Flo's project (see natty button to the right) have been just the right level. Having finished them up last night I moved on to swatching.

I'm trying to match some of the stash up to the Norah Gaughan projects my fingers are itching for. I am now a little more conscious of how much yarn I have amassed as I'm listing it all out in Ravelry! No obvious pairings seem to jump out though.

My best hope was some of the Rowan Plaid I have for the Frost Jacket but it is too chunky to get anything like the right gauge:I'm wondering about a slightly shorter version of Flicca for the Plaid instead.

My number one pattern from Knitting Nature is the Snapping Turtle skirt:
There is no potential sub in my stash for Berroco Suede and it is mighty expensive to get it shipped from the US so that one is definitely on hold.

My favourite cardigan is the Ramshorn Jacket but I can't spot a goer for this either:Never mind, I shall treat it as a picture book at the moment and find it endlessly soothing to gaze at the wonderfully styled, imaginative knits and little bits of nature.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

You make me happy when skys are grey....

You are my sunshine Ravelry :o)

Invite arrived yesterday, phew for the wet weekend making plenty of time to play. I love Ravelry, it is as brilliant as everyone says - I'm Thumbelina if anyone I haven't already found and pestered to be my chum would like to be friends with the new girl on the edge of the playground :o) I had a moment choosing my username where I nearly ended up with the initials from my blog name in front of my name..... yep I'm glad I didn't submit AFATSarah!!

Playing with the yarn, taking photos etc has absorbed most of the weekend and been so much fun - who wouldn't be happy when their sock yarn stash looks like this:I have managed the odd moment of sociability; sharing the last of the plum plague, sorry harvest of bountiful proportions, with my friends in the form of a highly recommended Nigella Winter(or just feels like it) Plum Cake:However I think that Ravelry has probably tipped me over the edge into true yarnsanityI woke at 6.30am thinking about loading FOs on there and then when I tried to do a crossword earlier on and think of a fish beginning with B I couldn't get Baudelaire and Bayerische out of my tiny mind!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Miners' Blankets

For anyone who hasn't read about Florence Knitingale's latest project and has some time to knit a square you may like to read this.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Just one more shot...

I don't know, you give your one true beloved a pair of hand knit socks you slaved over for hours and after a mere 36 shots in two locations he's had enough of modelling them.Pattern:Twin Rib Socks from SKS
Yarn: Lana Grossa Meilenweit Colortweed 80% wool, 20% polyamide, used maybe 90g of the ball to fit a UK 11 foot
Needles: 2.5mm Bamboo DPNs
Started: 8 June 2007

Finished: 10 August 2007
Notes: These poor socks got overtaken by the course socks so have lingered on the needles far longer than need be. This was an easy pattern from SKS which the boyf chose but I found it was wasted in this striped yarn so I did the instep (it never seems right to me that this is the tops of the feet - the instep to me is the arch of your foot, that had me baffled me the first time I read a sock pattern!) in plain 3x3 rib which would have been a better choice all over. The socks fit the BFG well and he is pleased with them. I really liked this yarn to knit with, it is very springy and soft. It even felt nicer than the Lana Grossa I did my Mum's b'day socks in which was Meilenweit Scala - who knows why as they are the same fibre composition from the same company!

You can't see the socks very well in this shot but it made me laugh!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Knitting Retreat

My weekend at home was a lovely relaxing time, just look at this perfect retreat. This is part of the glorious garden that my Mum has created.

While she put in some work in the vegetable patch I stuck to fibre work.




I finished up the man socks (photos to follow when the recipient does some modelling) and cast on my Mum's summer socks in the Lana Grossa cotton blend. My Mum raves about how lovely her Chain Rib birthday socks are so I wanted to get straight on with another pair for her.

I wanted a nice open pattern for lighter weight socks and I wanted something relatively simple for my first go at lacy socks. I was inspired to go for Hedera after I saw Janey's lovely pair. The socks are growing fast, like weeds you could say, if you were feeling a bit tired and unable to resist a dreadful pun :o)
When I wasn't actually knitting this weekend I was reading about it, though not on blogs for once as my parents internet connection is too slow for me to bear.

I found a great selection of knitting magazines in the local newsagents, all of the US titles I've not seen in a shop here. I went for Knit Simple as there are some lovely patterns in the Fall issue (of which I want to make about 10, hmm not sure when!). I really like it and on the basis of this issue would recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it - it seemed like a slightly more fashionable/classier version of Simply Knitting to me.

I also got my birthday present from my brother - Knitting Nature - I will dedicate a whole post to it soon as I LOVE about 20 of the patterns and thought I would share some photos for anyone who hasn't had a chance to browse it. It's a real coffee table book, gorgeous styling and photos.

Lest it sounds like I was closeted away knitting and reading I should note that I did see lots of my family too, plenty of good times made.

I showed off my knitting to my talented Auntie who was delighted to see my lacy sock work, she specialises in quilting but can turn her hand to most fibre/fabric crafts. She seems to have inherited her talents from my Nan and I feel like a lot of the same crafting genes are in me. I love how our crafts are a part of family history. I feel it strengthens connections with people who are here now and who have gone before. I also find it makes me feel closer to the intended recipient as I work on their piece. Glad I have a project for Mum on the sticks as I am feeling dreadfully homesick after my lovely weekend.

Off to catch up on all the latest blogging :o)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Golden Glow

Sunlight bathes the top of our house of a fine summer's evening with a glorious, golden glow. As the evening wears on it gradually seeps away leaving a mellow warmth behind. It's particularly precious this summer when the sunny days have been scarce.It feels as if the same golden glow emanates from me when I think of the day I have planned for tomorrow: over three hours on the train to knit and my Mum and Dad at the station at the other end to pick me up. Bliss.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Crafternoon

The Mr's family came over yesterday for the afternoon and evening. We made the most of the sun and hung out in the garden doing some crafting.

Mother and son make a great rugmaking team. I worked on the tote and a few Innocent smoothie hats.

A great use of a sunny afternoon.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bitter Ends and Sweet Beginnings

Ah such wise advice in the comments to my last post, thank you all for the chuckles, the empathy and the sensible suggestions.

Of course I am a stubborn mule (not persistent or devoted Webbo, just stubborn to the point of stupidity) so I didn't bin or donate the monster, nope I reworked it by chopping it up and sewing two lengths together and gave it to my friend. I can't believe I did it but in the interests of a full record of my knitting adventures I have to own up to the fact that I gave my poor friend the Stashbustrophe.

She actually seemed to like it (she does wear slightly odd things sometimes so there is a possibility that she wasn't just being polite, alright she was just being polite but she did it well!).
I know gifting it makes me a bad person, look at me wearing it - I HATE IT - but I just couldn't face not salvaging something, had nothing else to give and she does value hand made gifts above everything else so.... yep, I know, I must learn to know when to cut my losses - what is it about knitters, as Piglottie says, that makes us put in more and more effort to save the ill fated early effort? No more grim, financially sensible stash busting projects for me or my friends, I am only going to knit things that I love the idea of at the start so there is some hope I vaguely like the item at the end!

I shall make amends to poor J, I made her a butterscotchy lemon cake a la Yarnstorm to make the bitter pill a little easier to swallow
and I hereby pledge to make her some Christmas socks out of the precious Hummingbird Alpaca; here you go look at this rather than that DISGUSTING serape.
So anyway, enough of the bitter end of that project, and on to the sweet beginning of another gift knitting venture. This must be better than the last project - I like the yarn (Karaoke rather than Lopi) for a start so I should enjoy knitting it which will be something even if the FO is a binner rather than a winner ;o)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

What was I thinking?

Or should that be was I thinking?

Sometimes these days I like to nudge myself up a class in the world of knitting, not so much a beginner beginner, I'd maybe see myself as an advanced beginner, I can knit, purl, increase, decrease, goodness I've even knit socks. However it would seem that I am unable to recognise when I am knitting the biggest catastrophe of a project EVER.

Actually it may not be the biggest catastrophe but it sure is the longest.There was thought behind this - I'm not sure if that makes it better or worse? I wasn't hypnotised and made to knit this, my cats weren't held ransom to make me knit every one of the 500 odd cast on stitches over and over again. I chose to knit it, I watched it grow, I am responsible for this monster. Just call me Frankenstein.

The original concept was good, I stand by that. The pattern is Stashbuster Serape (Simply Knitting Issue 24), I was drawn to the idea of using up some of my slightly dodgy early days purchases and some dubious yarn gifts from well meaning rellys so I was pleased with this pattern for a large serape which allowed you to use lots of different gauge yarns. I thought my friend who dresses a little hippier than me would really like this.

I have to say I detested it while I was knitting it, but if you put many of your least favourite yarns together in a mindless pattern with seventy billion odd stitches in a row you're not going to enjoy it are you?

So I didn't let that stop me, ah the warning signs... on I slogged. I thought, you live and learn, I don't think I'll make the other one of these I had in mind for my auntie for Christmas. It's not such a brilliant, quick knit stash busting idea after all. Then I thought I'm not sure this needs to be really wide, does it? Maybe just 5 more rows. Soon into the next row I thought actually it'll make a really nice lacy scarf I'll cast off next row. Yippee! So there I was casting off thinking well it's a bit odd but it's kind of pretty, I'll write a little blog post about how glad I am its finished, wrap it up, hand it over, no problemo.
Then I stood up and 20 odd foot of monster slithered to the floor. Somehow I hadn't equated the mass of stinky knitting on my circular needle to the longest, stinky scarf EVER.
So is there a way back for this creature? A large part of me just wants to throw it in the bin and forget all about it. I can't face just ripping it out - I don't want the yarns back! My current thinking is that I'll cut it in half and unravel the ends, tie them up and there you are, two long, slightly naff scarfs. Better than one monster? Let's see who wins in the this battle of the creator and the creature...
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