Monday, March 31, 2008

Project Spectrum - The End of Part One

Time does something funny at the start of the year, January takes forever to slog through and then February and March are over in the blink of an eye. Somehow we're already at the end of the first element for Project Spectrum - so it's time to say farewell to fire and welcome to earth for April and May.

I've enjoyed my PS project knits and the inspiration that focusing in on the colour has brought - most recently evidenced in my finishing of the cabled cardigan. The Spicy colourway could have been designed for this colour block. I've also managed one of the fronts of Moonlight and more work planned on that for April.

The man socks from February were the designated PS fire knit and they have brought much welcome warmth in the past two months. Lovely as the shades of Jitterbug are though I feel there is a warning here for me to not focus solely on colour when choosing a yarn. I get swept away by the colourways Colinette offer but am disappointed by the washability of this apparently machine washable sock yarn. For me it leaches colour at each careful hand wash and although the colours of the socks remain strong it does mean you can't wash it with anything else. The wearability is also a little questionable - perhaps better for a gentler stepper than my one true beloved when you look at the beating the heels have taken on these. Au revoir my eye of partridge heel!

I have also very much enjoyed collecting up my colour inspired photos for the end of each post. I've found myself being much more aware of the amount of colour around me and it's been a real delight to see past the grey/brown blur I associate with winter here to the greater range of colours inside and out or to pull out some colour from the archives when needed.The difference in the great outdoors in the last couple of months is very marked; at the start of February finding living things to capture on camera in the warm shades required was a definite challenge and was not often in flower form. These beautiful berries proved that it was there when I looked for it but there was not an abundant choice.

Now the flowers are really starting to pop up all over and the pink tones in particular are easy to see and enjoy. My bleeding hearts are nearly in full bloom already. I know you'll enjoy these Marianne :o)

Looking ahead to April and May the shades for the earth element are green, brown and metallics.

have just received some delightful green Shibui sock yarn in Seaweed (amongst other shades) so I think a pair of green socks will be on the needles shortly.

My main project is going to be something I've been thinking about for an age. Ysolda's Cloud Bolero pattern has been a long time favourite of mine and I've be
en meaning to knit a sparkly, silver number for a friend of mine in this Patons Spritz I bought almost when I first started knitting. Seems like PS will be the perfect reason to cast on.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Cabled Combo

The fingers and thumbs have been twinkling away over the Easter break and I have two great cabled FOs to show for it.

This one has been a quickie and a goodie:Pattern: Simply Cables - March Sockamania Pattern
Yarn: Knitting by Zen - 3ply Sock Wool - Stormy Skies - 1 skein
Needles: 2.25mm Harmony Wood DPNs
Started: 13 March 2008
Finished: 24 March 2008Notes: These were a really enjoyable knit for multiple reasons - back to my comfort zone of top down heel flap socks, great simple but effective pattern from lovely Anni, thick squishy yarn and those Harmony DPNs - smooth, pointy, bendy but resilient - I see much more of these needles in my socky future.


This one has been a slow goer and a baddie at times, triumphant in the end though:Pattern: Cabled Jacket
Yarn: Rowan Plaid - Spicy - about 5 balls
Needles: 6mm Plastic Straights
Started: 1 November 2007
Finished: 27 March 2008
Notes: Oh. This. Pattern! That sweater in the picture on Ravelry looked just the ticket for my Mama but the pattern is really best used as a starting point I think. It is a freebie and I think we are spoilt sometimes by the effort people make with free patterns - let's just say no-one did any spoiling with this one!

The pattern was in fact plain wrong to start with, I sorted that out (and I believe the corrected version is up now) but it was still mods all the way. I lengthened the body by about three inches and should probably have gone for about five even for my petite Mum; in a do over I would also add a little extra width to the arms - I was scared they weren't going to fit. I added the cabled ribbing to the back because I was sure the plain stocking stitch would just curl even after blocking. I had to rip back the fronts and shorten those because the pattern is very misleading and I wasn't thinking. I had decided to omit the buttonholes which turned out to be a stroke of luck as the fronts as written wouldn't meet in a month of Sundays and because the edge is just reverse stocking stitch they curled even after blocking. I ended up knitting on a ribbed edging which I think looks well with the collar. In summary? A challenge! Enjoyed at times and endured at others - in the end I am really pleased with how this looks - and most importantly so is the recipient :o)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter from Cornwall

Enjoying a lovely break down with my Ma and Pa. Chomping on chocolate eggs and the odd real one too. Here are a goose, some blue/black duck and bantam chickens eggs.And here are some of the creators - these are a traditional, local breed kept by my Dad - Indian or Cornish Game.
No snow down here (yet at least!), a little rain and plenty of sun shining on the blossoming garden.
A strong, very biting North wind makes knitted items most welcome when venturing outside but it can create some fun as well.We got here this trip via this lovely vehicle; lent to us by the Mr's parents (thank you again Mrs Lurker). She travels a little slower than our car but that suited me just fine :o) Here's a Lenten Rose from the garden to finish on a pink PS note. Wishing you all a lovely Easter.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Stormy Skies...

...the aptly named colourway of my latest socks in progress. Simple, effective pattern from Sockamania and knit from the top down. Ah the relief. There was a storm with those wretched LoveMeKnots last weekend so after a bit of a sulk I let myself cast on this new pair of socks as shelter.The LMKs are firmly in time out until I can bear to look at them again. I'm on the leg of the second one so felt that all pain should be behind me and that I had an easy cruise to the end. That was looking true until I made a pattern mistake, ripped back and now just don't have the will to get those darned stitches back on the needles. I'm calling it a victory that I didn't just keep on ripping right back to nothing. There is something sick about how good that feeling is. Watching those stitches pop pop pop away. One day I'm sure I'll look in my WIPs box see a nearly finished pair of socks and it will all be happy happy. Just don't mention them to me until then.On a more soothing note I've acquired some beautiful new sock yarn, this is some Oxford Kitchen Yarn on show in my Oxford kitchen - how could I resist a photo opp like that? I entirely blame Queen of the Froggers for flashing something similar and sending me over there; so you know, I thought I'd better return the favour. I'm thinking this yarn would look fabulous as the Honeybee pattern. I'm keen to tackle another toe up pattern soon as I want to be able to use this option when the pattern calls for it and feel like I should get back on this particular horse before the fear sets in and all toe ups are tainted with the LMK pain. Oh the pain, the pain.

Stop thinking about those beasts and look at this beautiful Lana Grossa cotton/wool/nylon blend.I enjoyed the feel of this yarn when I used it for the Hederas last year and am keen to have some lighter weight hand knit socks of my own but I was a little underwhelmed by the other colourways I have seen for sale in the UK. When my friend Clare asked whether I wanted anything brought back from Berlin this lovely stuff sprang to mind and I asked her to see if there were any strong, solid colourways available. Couldn't be more delighted with what she found me.

Clare also helped me sort out what to do with my Cabled Cardi. I've been procrastinating as it became apparent when laying her out for blocking that the fronts were far too long. That pattern is a leetle misleading/plain wrong in many a place and I ended up with too much shoulder. I was planning on sewing it and then cutting off the excess but my wise (and not so desperate to get over the finish line) advisor suggested I just unpick the bind off and adjust - et voila one front is now correct.

Let's finish with some PS polka dots. Cheery enough to counteract the stormy skies.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Clinging to the Knits

These are the knitted things that have kept me going this week.

In the wearing and even the washing - so much comfort

In the creating - achievement in finally mastering a new technique
Yes indeed, that is not just a small bit of knitting, that is a small bit of knitting with a small bit of crochet attached and yes, the crochet is UNZIPPING! My provisional cast on actually undoing like it should. It wouldn't unzip last sock because I knit into the wrong bit of the crochet loop. This time round I looked at many pictures but it was still mighty tricky to tell which bit was the bump on the back for this non-crocheter. In the end I would knit a few stitches in, try and unzip, crochet a bit more, repeat until I felt sure I knew I was aiming at the right bit. For the record I tried and failed at both Judy's Magic Cast On and a looped cast on. Many times. Watch out though cast ons I'll be back. One day.

In the nearing completion - anticipation
Here is a pile of of all the pieces of the Cabled Christmas Cardigan and right on queue here is a weekend in which to block them.

Hope it promises to be a good one for you.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

PS Baking: Rosy Buns

Pink buns forged with fire = perfect PS theme one food. Delightful any time food :o)

I've been dreaming of Nigella's Rosebud Madeleines a la Mouthfuls of Heaven
but am doing badly at finding a madeleine tin. Not wanting to deprive myself of elegantly flavoured food stuffs, I adapted my bun recipe at the weekend to get some rosy goodness in there.

These are definitely more of your full bloom, blousy tea rose than a delicate rosebud.

Rosy Buns

125gms Plain flour plus 2 tsp Baking Powder
125gms Spreadable Butter
2 Large Eggs
125gms Caster Sugar
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 tbsp Rose Water
Red Food Colouring

Whisk flour, baking powder, butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla extract together until smooth. Add enough rose water (about 2 tbsp) to make a mix that drops easily from the spoon and then add red food colouring to match your own pink quotient.

Spoon into bun cases - this mix made 12 buns in a muffin tray.

Bake for around 15 minutes at Gas Mark 6.

Leave to cool and ice - I just mixed icing sugar and rosewater to a firmish consistency. Once upon a time I saw crystallised rose petals which would be the perfect topper, not that the crystallised violets do a bad job but they do mess up my all pink scheme, which is a little more subtle in the interior.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Happy Mothering Sunday

I love you Mum, all days, all ways.

Pattern:Tender from Let's Knit
Yarn: Colinette Jittrebug - Tapis
Needles: 2.75mm Metal Straights
Started: 25 February 2008
Finished: 28 February 2008
Notes: This began life as the Heart Sachet from Interweave but linking those tiny mitred squares was no fun for me and with a deadline to meet I went for the simple heart from the latest issue of Let's Knit which has several patterns that appeal to me for the first time.

PS - Glad to see the tulips in the shops; just the leaves peeping out in the garden at the moment - love the promise of spring in the bulbs coming up.

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