Friday, December 19, 2008

The road to Christmas...

... is paved with good intentions! Blogging, gift knitting, baking and making, there's so much more I wanted to have done by now. Still it's the same every year and to keep the balloon afloat and the vital cargo (actual enjoyment of the festive season) intact I find I have to jettison what I can bear to manage without. So I won't dally here, much as I would like to, have a mince pie on me and I'll be back with the nail-biting conclusion of "Did Sarah finish her Christmas knits?" after the big day.

Season's Greetings to one and all.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Send in the Elves...

...10 December? How did that happen? Seriously Santa I need some help over here , so if you can spare me an elf or two who can knit, this pile of WIPS might just get gifted by Christmas.
In case you can't make out the projects in the gloom (if I waited for natural daylight this post may never happen) there are three pairs of socks and a scarf - the spiral one from Knitting Nature which I have been meaning to make forever.

This is it now (except for one stealth knit which is about half done too). I'm more on target than in previous years, a few potential makes have been converted to purchases and I have also finished a hat (which can wait for the rest to catch up and some light for its moment of fame.) My theory was to get them all going and then having so many choices I'd have no excuse for not fancying something to knit each evening. It's kind of worked though work itself has been very busy and then there's that thing of actually socialising - it's all a shock to my system, the last two years I've been in work trip mode and haven't done much outside the house type Christmassy things. This year I thought I'd have such a relaxed December, it would be all decorated by now, I'd be sitting with a cup of mulled wine knitting calmly away on my final gift or two... yeah right! So far behind on everything!

And so to a long overdue present for one of you lovely readers who commented on my blogiversary post, the lucky winner of the draw is..... Floderten. I'll leave a note on your blog with my email address so you can send me your snail mail for the budges and battons :o)

Thank you all for your kind words about the Dashings - this time of year its inevitable that blogging sometimes gets squeezed out in the mad rush of holiday busyness so thank you especially for everyone who took the time to say something lovely. The recipients were all very well behaved and took the gifts away to save till Christmas day but there was a pleasing glint in their eyes as they squished them and felt the woollyness. So, I'm off to click the needles some more and spread the woolly love a little further.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dashed Fine Gifts

I've quite some knitting pride in this little crop of Dashings that I have tended over the last few weeks.The whole idea of whether/who/what to knit for Christmas gifts has required some extra thought this year. Last year I set out with unmanageable expectations and ended up giving the last of the gifts meant for Christmas as a birthday present this September. My productivity and inspiration dried up in the approach to Christmas and I didn't finish anything last November or December. Knitting the Christmas gifts throughout the year and stockpiling them is by far the most sensible approach but still, I can't get really excited about gift knitting until the magic of Christmas is within reach. I love to make my gifts in one form or another, though I try and make sure the recipient is going to feel equally fond of the idea of a handmade present. Last year I think I focussed too much on the pattern I thought people would most want to receive; this year I've decided that the knitted items have to be things I wantto make first and foremost so that there is maximum enjoyment in the stitches and a better chance that the knitting mojo won't be chased away. So I looked at the list of giftees and tried to think of patterns I fancied that were a nice fit with them. Dashings have long been on my to do list so it was certain someone at least would have warm hands this year.I had a group of three girlfriends to make for, an early 'Christmas' tonight as the deadline and a wish to make them all something similar so whenever they wore their gifts there would be a connection amongst us all. The three colourways of Karaoke I had in the right quantities for this great little pattern were the inspiration in the end and looking at this posy of gloves I am delighted with what I have made.Pattern: Dashing
Mods: Shortened the cuff by reducing rows after the last cable and before thumb placement
Yarn: Karaoke in Mermaid, Mermaid Mix and Wild Cherry - between one and one and half skeins per pair
Needles: 3.75mm Metal DPNS
First Pair Started: 13 November 2008
Last Pair Finished: 27 November 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The blog is...

..two years old today!

Here are some of things the blog is about:


In fine blogging tradition I have a little prize giveaway to celebrate and say thank you to all you readers for your input and contributions that make me love blogging so.

I've noticed a growing obsession in my heart for badges - or buttons if you prefer. There are so many cute ones around now, Etsy is a wonderful source for them. Actually, a quick aside, I've always wondered if badges as I know them are buttons then how are buttons still buttons? Ooh the word button starts to look very odd when you type it repeatedly. Button, button, button. I once bought the 1TB some buttons as a souvenir of a US trip - I thought they were to be sewed on to his jeans and so it was quite pleasing to find that they were just ready to go to be pinned on.

So anyway, whatever you call them, I love them and to share my love with you I have gathered the gorgeous wee ones pictured around this post for you to win. Just leave me a comment on this post by the end of November to explain about the button/button thing if you can, to tell me about your love for small items you pin on or just to say Hi and I'll select someone at random. Please don't be shy if you haven't commented before - it's always nice to know who's out there reading, sharing in this lovely place of mine.

I saved this one on the right from the I Knit day in September and I included an extra Bob in an order from Ravelry - now is this technically a pin rather than a badge/button?

And how's this for confusing - badges made of pictures of buttons.

I bet if I do a Wordle after this post the word button will show up BIG :o)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thumbs Up

There were signs of a slump into the knitting doldrums mid week. Two inner knitters were battling and the likeliest outcome seemed to be a ceasefire in the form of no knitting. I was knitting away happily on my flip top mitten when it became apparent that there was going to be an issue, a not enough yarn type issue. Attempting a pattern that requires a skein of Lamb's Pride Worsted when you have only half a skein looks, with hindsight, foolish. That's of course because it is foolish but the Frugal Knitter had been having her say.

She wanted that half skein to be enough for the child size because it would use up some stray yarn ; the Frugal Knitter pointed out that the pattern said it took a skein for the child size and a skein for the adult size so surely half a skein would be fine for the child size. Well no. There is not enough yarn to make two of the mittens, to be honest it's going to be tight for one. So the Stash Loving Knitter said "Sucks to you Frugal Knitter, now you'll have to buy another skein and then you'll still have half left over." Then Frugal Knitter says "Rip out the mitten and make something even smaller with the half skein then you won't have to buy anymore."

On and on they were arguing and the mitten lay abandoned. A few desultory rows were knit on this sock or that but there was no zing in the fingers of the Outer Knitter, not whilst such conflict raged over the little mitten. Thankfully the peace loving Mr (who is becoming oh so wise in the ways of living with a knitter and maintaining a quiet life) suggested that the best cure for the knitting doldrums was to start something new. Perfect. The Startitis Knitter was super happy and squashed down Miss Frugal and Miss Stash Loving. The Christmas knitting schedule simply can't allow any knitting doldrums to be entered , it's got to be all zingy knitting here till the end of the year. So it's been full speed ahead on some new mitts, the lovely Dashing, which I have plenty of pretty Karaoke yarn for.This is a wonderful pattern: simple but with a little interest in the form of some cables and the thumb placement. It's also a great feeling to be knitting heavier weight yarn in the round. My brain thinks that I'm working on socks and then I'm pleasantly surprised at how fast it knits up.
My favourite part of the pattern is the way the thumb is worked; this is a lovely bit of engineering on a par with the glory of a heel turn in my knitgeekery books. I'm guessing that it's the same principle as an afterthought heel? You knit some holding yarn into the place the thumb should be and then finish the tube of the mitt. At the end you go back and take out the holding yarn and pick up the live stitches, add a few more each side and then knit on the thumb.

Simple really and yet rather special. Another little piece of knitting magic; enough to soothe any inner conflicts.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Randomly on a theme of knitting

Months ago lovely Amanda tagged me for a random meme and I got as far as three dull things that I couldn't feel that any of you would want to know about me (having obviously been so fascinating before) and saved the non-post in my drafts until today, when I was inspired by Glenna's post to share some random knitting minutiae.

1. My needle collection is very random, odds and sods from cheap ebay lots, rummages through charity shops and moments of luxury with Brittanys or Harmonys. The circulars live in a tea tin that is too small for them even though I long ago bought a folder to sort them in to. Like my life really the intention is there to organise and be tidy but the execution is a bit weak :o)

2. My favourite tv programme to knit to is Murder She Wrote - my fingers have developed a Pavolvian twitch response to that theme music. Any whodunnit is always a happy knitalong with for me but even complicated patterns can be knit to MSW with no fear that you will miss the vital clue to who did it as Jessica will be sure to signal loud and clear when the killer gives themselves away by admitting they hate cranberries or whatever it is they must not admit to ensure that they get away with it.

3. I would happily tell you that I don't mind seaming and yet Moonlight is still lurking in that bag.

4. My notions pouch is nearly as messy as my needle collection as I like to have all possible aids nearby but I'm always surprised by how heavy it is when I pick it up; nearly half a kilo eh? What on earth is in there that weighs that much?

5. I hate knitting socks but I've got a strong masochistic streak. No, not really, all that sock love is genuine though it baffles even me some times.

6. I have so far resisted knitting in the bath; reading in there does bad things to my books so it can't be a good idea to take the yarn there but I'm sure I'll have to try it soon.
If you're feeling random do share some knitting minutiae. Happy weekend.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Casting on counts

This is the sum total of Socktoberfest progress on my singletons: one success, one to the heel (glad to know that a lot of you will understand that I am enjoying the anticipation of the heel flap to knit) and just a cast on for the Jays. I did insist on doing the cast on before bed on the 31st so that I could say I started all three socks in Socktober. Not quite what I was aiming for but still not so bad given colds, energy lows and work stresses this month.
Casting on late at night is not normally a recipe for success and so it's not that surprising that those stitches are no more - I've ripped out the original cast on and gone down a size. Am definitely enjoying the pattern for these, as I do for the Monkeys, while the Pom pattern and I have a more troubled relationship - we've just not quite clicked yet and I never get into an easy rhythm with the knitting but I do love the sock that is emerging.

I shall persevere with these singles and their partners this month though I am feeling a big pull towards gloves. The secret knitting has shown me how much fun a glove can be and that combined with this cute pattern from Let's Knit magazine means I might be in for Glovember.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blogs I Love III - From the start...

Back in the early days of blogging (when blurry photos seemed okay) there were some lovely people who made sure I wasn't lonely and some of them are still very much here and blogging along today:

The aforementioned Glenna is one, another is her friend:

Hedgehog Knits
Kelly is not a knitting hedgehog. I'm sorry if that's a disappointment to anyone but really, though she is a mere human person, there is no way her knitting can be a disappointment to anyone. She keeps a super cute pet hedgehog Molly who features too rarely on the blog in my humble opinion - so go tell Kelly to let us see her. She's had all kinds of job craziness of late which limits her blogging activity a little but the knitting still continues apace.





Knitting in the North
Charity is a very generous commenter. I'm never too sure how she cares for her mighty brood of chicks and fits in all the knitting and blogging to be honest. Still I think she's let slip some relevant info of late - she's pretending that Katie is just learning to knit but I think she gets the kids started at Liam's age and then passes off the knits as her own. Seriously though, she's amazing and I love reading about how she fits knitting in with family life.





Marianne's Knotminding
Marianne is a very naughty blogger - she never blogs. She's always over here reading away and saying lovely things and yet she never posts anymore and let's us know what she's knitting. Come on Marianne - I know Bobby's Blankie is a beauty but it's time we saw some more of your fabulous knits. Though I do love to see the bleeding hearts popping up in my and so many other's comments sections. Thanks for being such a faithful reader.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Favourite Knit so far...

I was just reading about Bells' favourite knit and thought I'd join in. Unlike Bells I didn't have anything immediately in mind, though let's face it I knew it would be a pair of socks. As I was looking over my Ravelry project page I spotted my favourite knit.
It's the Primavera socks, finished back in May so they haven't seen much use so far this year, until one cold evening this week the 1TB got in from work and went upstairs to change and came back down wearing a very fine pair of socks on his feet. They're his favourites I've made for him by far. All the elements together - great fit, pattern, yarn and colour. And if they're his favourites then they're mine too :o)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

More Sock Love: Turning a Heel

This is the heel I just completed on my bee-yoo-tiful Monkey sock. I love it, both the sock and especially the heel turn.

It's not exclusive to this sock, I'm always excited to do the heel on my top down socks. I enjoy it so much that, as I did on this one, I sometimes pause the project to find a peaceful little moment to knit the heel flap and make the heel turn all in one go.

Turning a heel was one of those phrases I knew in my pre-knitting life and I had the idea it would be a tricky thing to do. It pleased me no end to find that it was straightforward and so clever. While I was blindly following the instructions for my first sock I don't think I even realised that I achieved this significant moment in my knitting career! Now, every top down sock I make, I relish this part most of all. A simple, elegant piece of engineering. What's not to love?

Anyone else have a favourite element of the sock knitting process, or have I reached new heights of knitgeekery? Thank goodness I have the excuse of Socktober.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Alchemy

A ball of Regia Silk Shine magically transformed by knitterly alchemy and serious sewing skills to a gorgeous sock project bag. My friend needed that tricky-to-find shade 150 to finish up her Anna stockings and I still hadn't found a mate for my lone ball following the Vancouver debacle so this is a perfect resolution to two troublesome situations. Thanks again Clare, the Monkeys love their new home :o)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sarah, Sarah quite contrary...

...how do your socks grow?

Well quite slowly actually now you come to ask as it seems that I used most of the weekend when I wasn't snivelling into a tissue to knit a snood.* I know it is Socktober when sock love is official and I don't normally need an excuse to knit socks but my brain wasn't up to small needles so I got big uns and just knit until:A polar explorer's snood fit for a gardening mad Mama. Well from one set of bandwagon knits to another, I've been unconvinced about cowls but they are lovely to knit so I'm glad that my Mum is convinced about them. I did want to make a really generous size so that it could perform the snood function of making a hood or sit snuggling warmly around the neck. I can confirm that it is very toasty and that is why you aren't getting any better photos as I had to remove it before I overheated.Pattern: Just knitting with a few decrease rounds
Yarn: Rowan Plaid - Moonwave - just under two balls
Needles: 6.5mm 80cm Bamboo Circular
Started: 9 October 2008
Finished: 12 October 2008

*Definition from: The Clarabelle Official Knitters' Dictionary


So snoods aside I have actually started two of the three socks I plan to do this month; one pattern repeat in each on the Poms and the Monkeys and am loving the speed of the Monkeys in comparison to the 1x1rib of the Poms (had not really thought how slow that might make them to knit). Am doing the original Monkeys this time around but I think No Purl ones won't be absent from All Fingers and Thumbs for too long.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Blogs I Love II - The Links

The title should be said by voice over man: "It's Blogs I Love, the sequel, this time it's about the links." Some blogs belong together in my mind you see, when you write about one you want to write about the other.

It felt quite wrong to mention Bells without mentioning Rose Red - these partners in crime organise the Southern Summer of Socks together and have a delicious Nigella blog they share - Mouthfuls of Heaven.

Rose Red Shoes

I found Rose Red after I saw a rather lovely shoe avatar popping up in people's comments and had to check out the blog of the owner of such a beautiful thing. Rose Red shares more of her AMAZING shoe collection every Shoesday and in between shows us gorgeous knits (sometimes with the daring use of stunt buttons) and flashes her awesome yarn collection including much alpacky.




Knitting to Stay Sane
Glenna's blog was the one that started all this wonderfulness for me. I was loving her Ivy design in Knitty and followed the link to her blog and, well, it's clear enough what happened next! Glenna makes a lot of sweaters, very well, tackles any new technique with ease and with helpful hints and then throws in a few designs for good measure. Her book reviews are always fabulous as befits someone who started the Ravelry group and read-a-knit-a-long: Knitting 20th Century Novels.


Under the Influence
Glenna's twin sister blogs here and is always working on something lovely. Initially she seemed very resistant to the development of a stash but the unusual trait is being gradually smooshed out of her by beautiful yarn crying out for a home. Martha's photos, in particular her cityscapes, are always fabulous and she writes many an amusing post. Conversations with a recalcitrant Icarus spring to mind.



Artis Anne
Living in the beautiful countryside of Wales, Anne is a lady who isn't afraid of sheep! She doesn't hang back and just knit the yarn, she's not shy of getting in there right from the start with an unwashed fleece. Her adventures with her Guilds are always fun to read about, as are her adventures with her daughter:






Kath's Krafty Kreations
Kath and Anne have set up their own Etsy shop together: Mam a Mi and their dyeing skills are now being put to a very good use. Kath started knitting properly when she became a mum and as well as her virtual shop she works in a bricks and mortar yarn shop. Somehow she also fits in actual knitting. Kath and Anne share the same avatar - a beautiful photo of Kath learning to knit as a little girl. I'm looking forward to when Kath's daughter Emily gets going with the needles and blogging!


Baad Medicine
I met Teri during this year's Tour de France KAL when she took charge of our team wonderfully and forgave me for not finishing my beret on time. Teri's blog is two for the price of one as T and J share a blog. Both are very enthusiastic knitters: T is not just creating a pile of Christmas gifts she's going for a cloud and J didn't let advanced pregnancy stop her from attacking her knitting with scissors, oh more scary steeking!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Socks I Love: FO

No I've not suddenly started knitting super fast and rattled off one of my Socktober projects. The FO love is for the Honeybees which have been done since before the holidays but were awaiting photographing as this glorious yellow is mighty hard to capture. Love for these socks may be official because it's Socktober but it's not unconditional love. I am not head over heels for these tricky customers and a lot of the issue is with those heels.

Pattern: Honeybee Socks
Yarn: Oxford Kitchen Yarns Sock - bit under a full skein
Needles: Trusty Harmony DPNs - 2.25mm
Started: 25 March 2008
Finished: 13 September 2008
Notes: I think these have convinced me that standard show row heels and toes for toe ups are not for me, second go and I'm still not happy with the fit around the heel and the length of the toes. Allow me to demonstrate:

Gappy and baggy heelWay too long before the pattern starts on toes
Still it is very hard to argue with the beauty of the stitch pattern which necessitates them being knit toe up. I think I just need to find some alternative toe up toes and heels to drop into patterns like this to get a look and fit I would be happier with.
The one mod I did make was in the cuff. When I cast off the first one I was very upset to find I couldn't get it over my heel and promptly stuck it in time out for a long while. When I was feeling less sulky with it I unpicked the cast off and redid the cuff as a simple 1x1 rib which I think works fine though probably should be a little more generous, actually another repeat or two of the pattern is probably what I would really enjoy here.

So you see the path of love has not run smooth with these little ones but at the end of the day those beautiful bees and the rich gold, fabulous yarn make them hard not to love. This yarn really bloomed after washing. It feels a little prickly and rough whilst knitting which actually helps to hold the stitches in place if you drop them and now it feels soft and snuggly; what a perfect sock yarn. It's the first time I've knit with Blue Faced Leicester wool and I would go back for more for sure, also the natural dyes used seem to hold well through hand washing and I just love having this sunshine on my feet.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Blogs I Love

I've been lucky enough to be given some blog awards lately from some lovely fellow bloggers. Thank you so much to Princess Pea, Blog Bletherings, Bells, and Terri Knits. I'm always really delighted when someone nominates me for one of these things but also a little unsure about how best to pass the honour on. I'm also always a little disappointed you see, when one of my favourite bloggers doesn't nominate me in their list. Maybe it's just me and my mega ego but in case some of you lovely peeps feel a twinge of this sometimes too I'm always loathe to pick out just a few blogs. All the blogs I read are great in their own particular way; for me one of the endless fascinations of blogging is how we all stamp our individuality on the same medium.

However having said all that I loved the little mini reviews that Bells did with this award and it gave me an idea about how I would like to pass on my appreciation of my favourite blogs. Kicking off today I'm going to have a little "Blogs I Love" featurette, a shameless luvvy fest; I fully intend to work my way through most of the "normal" blogs on my reading list - ie not the mega blogs everyone knows already like Yarnstorm, Yarn Harlot, Posie Gets Cozy (though that one is a favourite). When I first started blogging trying out new blogs from the blogrolls of regulars was one of my favourite pastimes, now I read many blogs regularly I tend to add more only from lists like Bells compiled or when new uns comment here (on that note thank you Sonia for your comment on my last post - unfortunately I can't see your blogger profile to see if you have your own blog - I'd love to stop by and say Hi if you do) so I hope that this feature may bring a new place you'd like to visit and will show my lovely bloggy friends how much the blogging they do is valued by me. I'd knit you all a woolly hat to say it but I've had to recruit the 1TB just to get the mini ones done for Innocent/Age Concern
Without further ado the first four "Blogs I Love" spots go to my kind awarders :

Bells Knits
Bells' blog is so full of warmth and enthusiasm that I quickly felt like an old friend. We seem to have a very similar sense of humour and have knitted the same number of socks. I'm not sure I'll ever live up to some of her amazing projects though - steeked jacket anyone?





Blog Bletherings
Ms Blethers is forever whipping up some lovely creation, normally for one of her daughters, the lucky things. She's recently clicked two February Lady Sweaters off the needles at record pace - probably to ensure hers (which she did first) was not nabbed!






Princess Pea
This is a blog with style, fit for a Princess who seems to knit only envy inducing beautiful things, often with a lovely vintage feel. She's charming, gracious, elegant and she can fit both big toes in her mouth at once ;o)






Terri Knits
Terri Knits has got the fastest needles in the West and she isn't afraid to use them to make a bazillion gorgeous sweaters and socks. While she makes me feel inadequate that way she does at least have more WIPs and stash than me :o)






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