Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Socktober Summary

What fun Socktober has been.
I've had the pleasure of reaching my goal of finishing Esther and making a start on the LoveMeKnot Socks this month. It's been touch and go with the LMKs, and thank you all so much for the tips and the encouragement. I knuckled down to the unpicking last night and I think I am past the worse on the first of them now!

Socktober gave me the required push to finish up the Esthers which were starting to languish, to take the plunge on the toe ups and I got a pair of Christmas gift socks done as well. It's also been lovely to see so many knitted socks out there in the world. I am a confirmed sock knitting addict (eleven pairs since last November). I love that they allow me try to try out new techniques and real complexity but on a manageable scale.Seeing this little row drying on the radiator reminds me of how far I've come with socks; my first pair (far left) are well loved and I thought they were great at the time but when I put on my course socks or the Esthers I can see the leaps my knitting has made. The first pair are completely different sizes in the foot as I misread the pattern and decreased violently on the second one, the cuff is quite tight from the anxiety of casting on to to DPNs and the kitchenered toes were oversewn with a messy hand to hide the gaps. Post sock course I really feel my socks are quietly fabulous; there's room for improvement still and there are always a million and one new things to try but I feel my finished items are definitely something to be proud of, something more than just a mother would love!

Happy Halloween to everyone, if you come trick or treating here I've made you some buns:PS Thank you all for the get well thoughts, I'm in the last few skirmishes of the war against the cold and soon I may have a voice less like Marge Simpson's :o)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Reluctant Model

My beloved was a little camera shy when I asked him to model his lovely new hat; I guess you can't blame him as it was before 7am and he was on his way to the gym. I can guarantee there will never be a photo of me taken under those circumstances appearing here!

I had to get some photos in while it was light though and he does get the hat remember.

Though actually come to think of it he was supposed to get the hat as a reward for coming to a lovely yarn shop with me :o) thus this is the Salzburg Souvenir Hat.

This now means I have used (well made projects with - the ends don't count) all my tourist yarn from my last trip and can definitely buy more on my next trip - yey for San Francisco in December!


Pattern: Skye Rib Hat by Dreamcatcher
Yarn: Lana Grossa Dasolo Stripes (87% wool, 13% Polyamide) 1.25 skeins
Needles: 4mm long metal DPNS and short bamboo dpns

Started: 27 October 2007
Finished: 29 October 2007
Notes: This is officially my perfect Beanie pattern - makes a great fitting, deep (ie ear warming) beanie. I will be making more. According to Ravelry this yarn has been discontinued but I would get more if I had the chance - it's a really interesting construction, it's not a solid strand as I thought but a very finely knit tube which makes for a very springy, smooshy feel. Knit on 4mm needles it made a very firm fabric and the hat is somewhat too warm for our autumn weather. I'm sure it will be getting use as soon as there is a cold snap though as I think someone else likes it too.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Simple things...

...entertain a girl with a cold! Who knew it could be so much fun to see your blog title spelt out in pictures of letters :o)
A L L F Here I goes N G E R S A N Vintage LEGO Letter D t H m B_McElman_070710_0537 S_McElman_070716_2513
Make your own entertainment with Spell with Flickr.

I think Lixie mentioned this on her recent podcast but it was when I saw it in action on Terrie's blog that I got how cool it is.

As my brain is slightly addled by this evil infection I am capable of knitting only straightforward things this weekend. Dreamcatcher's lovely hat pattern is just the ticket:Thanks again Dreamcatcher for sharing this pattern, it's racing along and the other half is anticipating a warm bonce soon :o)

I've managed to finish up my second Christmas gift too:
Pattern: My So Called Scarf
Yarn: Rowan Plaid - Moonwave, 2 skeins
Needles: 8mm Wooden Straights

Started: 14 October 2007
Finished: 27 October 2007
Notes: Is this the single most knit scarf after plain garter stitch? There are currently 757 of these logged as projects on Ravelry with a further 921 queued. That many knitters can't be wrong! I love it and will surely make more. This yarn is great too - super warm mix of merino, alpaca and acrylic - why oh why was it discontinued? I suppose I should be grateful as I've gathered up some bargain lots because it has been.

Now someone is showing me how I should be getting in some more sofa time,
powerless to argue I'm off.Hope the knitting has been good for you this weekend, lots of love
S A R A H/H&C Coffee

Friday, October 26, 2007

FO Friday

Here are my comfort socks, they're done soothing me now and all ready to bring some Christmas warmth. First hand knit gift done, just another 6.2 billion to go.
Pattern: Slipped Stitch Rib from SKS
Size: 42 stitches in DK weight yarn; h to t length 8.5 inches
Yarn: Artesano Alpaca Hummingbird - Turtledove - about 1/2 skein
Needles: 3.5mm Bamboo DPNs

Started: 18 October 2007
Finished: 24 October 2007
Notes: Simple pattern, gorgeous yarn - definitely a winner. I'm not that fussed for this colourway (though it pleasingly reminds me of Refresher sweets) as I'm not so much of a pastels girl, good job or I'd be keeping these. I'm hoping to squeeze another smaller pair out of the remaining yarn, good coverage with this lovely weight yarn.

Some other comfort arrived in the mail today; this is a colourway I'd struggle to give away, the aptly named Stormy Skies. The other part of the parcel is a strict secret, oh yes it is definitely that time of year. Last year I was confident no spies were reading here but I've let a few real live people in on my secret world lately and the walls have eyes now. Luckily I can share more details at Ravelry - the beauty of a password! Sorry for any non-spies without access but you should definitely sign up for Ravelry anyway :o)

How did it get to be Friday again? Everything is too fast for me at the moment - so I'm off to curl up with my knitting and push the pause button on life for a few hours. Happy weekend.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Socktober Struggles

Ooofff. That, in case it isn't coming across so well in written form, is a big sigh. Ooofff again. This sock is a struggle.
Here we have a provisional cast on that won't unzip. I'm sure it's not the first, I'm sure it won't be the last but I just wish it wasn't on my blessed needles! I plucked up the courage to try and unzip it last week - ha think again - I seem to have done what I expressly tried to avoid doing and knitted into the crochet loop rather than the bump at the back. Whatever I did I can't release the monster so need to painstakingly unpick the wretched thing. Can you tell I don't have the energy for that at the moment?

For consolation I cast on for the sock equivalent of a big, comfy hug: simple pattern (top down), luscious (DK) yarn and big needles. These, in contrast to the sock sulking in the corner, have flown along and I shall soon have Jess' Christmas gift of guilt all done.I've been having a struggle with some blog reading too lately, for a moment I feared that my love of gentle arts and writing inane posts about them had turned me into some kind of anti-feminism, capitalism crazed construct with no moral or social responsibility.

This is clearly because I spend too little time knitting and too much time surfing the internet. I've been reading lots of interesting reactions to the publication of The Gentle Art of Domesticity. A lot of it is well thought out and real food for thought; a lot of it sadly not.

Personally, as is clear, I'm a fan of the book and the blog. I was therefore pleased to see the lazy and predictable accusations of anti-feminism die down relatively quickly. More interesting to me (as they have mainly come from within the online crafting community) have been the discussions on Jane Brocket's presentation of a highly privileged lifestyle as being too out of touch with reality to be palatable.

I've thought about this a lot as I've always read a deep appreciation for her privileges in Jane's writing - for me it is about a joyous celebration of the best of her domestic life, the opportunities she has been given and making time to hold small things up to the light and get the sense of pleasure and achievement from them that they merit.

In the end my disquiet with many of the comments boils down to the assumptions made, the criticisms built on these shaky foundations and the fact that anyone who has the time and resource to be a crafting blogger is by my definition privileged. I can't help but think of pots and kettles. We all make choices to allow us these luxuries in our life; for some it is easier than others but is there any lessening in the value of Jane's work because we may perceive the materials have been too easily won?

Hurrah at the end of the day for the freedom of speech, for the diversity of crafty bloggers and for the intelligence with which I have seen weighty issues considered; I'm glad to have got my opinions on this down here but, when all is said and done this is what crafting and blogging is about for me and I believe that is enough.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Socktober Success: Esther

Pattern: Esther
Size: 60 stitches - heel to toe length 9in
Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug - just under 1 skein in colourway Velvet Plum
Needles: 2.5mm Brittany Birches
Started: 1 September 2007

Finished: 14 October 2007
Notes: I love the finished socks, they are really beautiful but I can't imagine what would ever induce me to knit this pattern again! It's well written and does produce a lovely sock but is so fiddly to execute and hard to memorise that I just didn't enjoy knitting most of it. I am proud of the complexity of the design but I really had to push myself on through line by line and I want to enjoy knitting my socks more than that.

One element of the process I did enjoy was working with this yarn. It is so wonderfully springy and has a great stretch to it which makes the socks a dream to wear. The length of the yarn to 100g (267metres) is
quite low compared to many skeins designed to make a pair of socks but I found it was a comfortable amount for these. I think it's a good choice for a lady sock but I don't think I'd attempt hearty man socks from one skein. Here's a shot of my leftovers for info. The option of knitting it on larger needles - the ball band recommends 3.25mm - would give you a bit more coverage; I do have a very dense fabric on the 2.5mm needles. Dense in a good squishy way though.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Gently Does It

I'm having to take things gently at the moment, so the arrival of Jane Brocket's totally glorious 'The Gentle Art of Domesticity' this week could not have been better timed. Anyone who loves yarnstorm will surely feel the same about this book - its the blog made 3D: great photos and witty words. The production values applied by the publisher are admirable. The wonderfully done covers make it a real pleasure to touch.

It has been a very gently arty domestic weekend - we celebrated two years of home ownership yesterday with a meal of take away sushi and squeals of excitement at the rugby. I've done a little weeding, a little bulb planting, a little baking (the Brocket Battenberg Cake naturally), much tea drinking (we've been trying some different teas to get the perfect cuppa with our very hard water - Yorkshire Gold leaf tea is a mile in the lead at the moment) and of course some knitting. The Esthers are nearing completion (hurrah for Socktober), I've finished a sleeve for Arisaig and cast on the first of my "intended for Christmas gift" scarves. This afternoon I've a date with a murder mystery video and the sofa so I feel sure that some more progress will be made.

Friday, October 12, 2007

If the Hat Fits

My little cotton hat sure fits Bear well enough - lets hope the little human bean it will end up with has the same size head!
Pattern: Cotton Hat from LMKG
Yarn: Blue Skys Dyed Cotton; 1/4 skein of Thistle
Needles: 5mm Bamboo DPNs
Started: 27 September 2007

Finished: 8 October 2007
Modifications: As I was concerned about running out of yarn I made the distance before decreasing for the crown a little shorter which I think has worked out okay. I substituted some ribbon for the I-cord tie.
Notes: This feels like a something from nothing hat so would surely always be a winner for that alone; the fact that it is cute is a welcome bonus.

Some other smaller hats are all ready to go off to Innocent - did anyone in the UK actually manage to a buy a be-hatted smoothie last year? Hoping to this year.
Finally I think I have a yarn talisman - a proof for me that if you give what you can, when you can, however you can - the world will give back. I think I may have got the good end of the deal this time - a skein of Koigu for two blankie squares seems like a pretty good swap to me! Thanks again Ms K - those blankets are beyond wonderful.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A little persistence...

...a little help from my friends (both real and virtual) and here we have a bona fide toe:

Apparently you don't knit the toe of the socks in the round - yes I know that was obvious to all of you - sadly not to me; still Clare got me past that and introduced me to the wonders of crochet which turned out to be a whole heap easier than I imagined - unlike the overall process of starting this sock! I've frogged and reknit this little toe a couple of times to get the short rows just as I wanted them and I'm feeling quite proud of myself. Some new knitting comes easily, some not so - both I find enjoyable in their own special ways!

I thought I'd stick with the recommended toe for the pattern as I wasn't too sure how some of the others would work with magic loopiness but I can see I'll have to try some more toe-ups to try out some of the other options and establish what clicks best with me.

So much for the starting for this weekend; the finishing (in the form of this course) was also most enjoyable and useful - I am hoping for seams and buttonholes of a whole new professional nature in the future - best go and knit something other than a sock so I can get something to practice on :o)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Reading wants in on the Knitting Blog

CDQ tagged me for a meme on random facts but as I am 100% normal and not one squeak random :o) I couldn't think of any more random facts (still trying to write it as randomn!) So instead I shall do this reading meme from Charity's blog.

  • 1. Hardcover or paperback, and why? Paperback - I like the lightness in my hands for reading in bed and I like to carry the book everywhere - I feel more guilty if a hardback gets bashed up.
  • 2. If I were to own a book shop, I would call it... A Good Yarn (there would have to be a knitting corner with yarn on sale too :o)
  • 3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is... Various quotes from The English Patient or In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje - this is one of my favourites: "He could lead an iguana on a silver leash to its mistress"
  • 4. The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be... Stephen Fry - not so much for his books, more because I think he would be fabulous company, I'm not sure many authors would be the best lunch companions.
  • 5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except for the SAS survival guide, it would be... Too hard to choose - maybe an anthology of poetry as it would keep me going longer than a novel? Maybe the whole OED?
  • 6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that... held a book and turned the pages on command to make reading whilst eating or knitting easier. I'm not great at listening to books - I like the words to go in via my eyes!
  • 7. The smell of an old book reminds me of... calm exhilaration; like Charity I find this smell peaceful - it also hold promise.
  • 8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be... Miss Marple :o)
  • 9. The most overestimated book of all times is...Ah tricky - often the most hyped books are disappointing but I always think if we came to them unprepared we might enjoy them more. I found The Little Friend (Donna Tartt) disappointing but only because I wanted The Secret History again - is it fair to ask that of an author?
  • 10. I hate it when a book... has not been well copy edited - I think the publisher has a responsibility to eliminate spelling mistakes!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Rome wasn't built in a day....

... but I'll have these socks knit this month even if it sends me over the edge! Thanks for the encouragement with the cast on; boy do I need it. After this mangling I'm going for Clare's (blogless but she is Borrower in Ravelry so you can check out her fantabulous LMKs) offer of help with the crochet version.

Seeking encouragement in the gift knitting realm I've signed up for a KAL following Charity's lead - I'm quite the joiner-in these days, odd as I don't normally play nicely with others. It's just the badges I like ;o) The socks will be a gift (if they are good enough!) so that's two birds with one stone by my reckoning; though I probably shouldn't count my chickens before they're hatched as a bird in the hand is worth two still on the needles isn't it?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Socktoberfest 2007

So it's the official month of socky love - I only started sock knitting last November so this is the first October I've had to turn into a Socktober and I'm really looking forward to it.I've tried to limit my ridiculous ambitions of knitting more socks than there are days in the month to something achievable within the month. My aims are to finish up the Esthers and get to work on the LoveMeKnots which I'm more than a bit scared of as they are toe ups and I thought I'd try and expand my horizons beyond dpns and magic loop them as this is the technique the pattern is written for.

Bravery at the ready I got the yarn out yesterday but then saw that I need to teach myself crochet to do the provisional cast on, that was one leap too far so I thought I'd save that learning curve till the weekend! However it might have to be next weekend as on Saturday I'm doing a class at Loop on finishing - maybe trying to learn about starting in the same weekend would cause some malfunction and cancelling out in my brain :o)

Anyway as you can see above Socktoberfest has got me past the procrastination on the toe of my first Esther. I get all ready for kitchenering the sides together then get stuck as I never have the instructions to hand and in my head I think it will be harder than it is. My aim for the next one is to kitchener it straight off when I get there. No room for dallying in Socktober!

Socks will not be my only projects though; there is too much else hanging around in the unfinished pile and too many gifts on the list. Tonight I rattled through the last rows of my little scarf from LMKG to get one off the needles and on to its mission to comfort. Pattern: Airy Scarf from LMKG
Yarn: Rowan Kid Silk Haze; 1/2 ball of Liqueur
Needles: 6mm Bamboo Straights
Started: 27 September 2007

Finished: 2 October 2007
Modifications: Just worked two eyelet rows at each end rather than throughout.
Notes: I wanted a quick knit to send a little snuggle to my recuperating Auntie and this fits the bill perfectly. Soft and gentle it is very simple and all the more lovely for that. I could look forever at the beauty of the interlocking stitches. This has been a comfort to me to knit in its plainness which shows off the lovely yarn perfectly.

Last but not least this is my 100th post - yippee! Thank you to everyone who reads and comments and makes this blogging so much fun :o) I'm glad you enjoyed my story from Matlock - is it wrong that even as it was happening I was relishing the idea of blogging about it??!! I wish that I had knitted up a patch to save the day though QoftF, maybe next time ;o)
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