Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas: Mission Accomplished!

I'm home again and happy as can be. So much fun has been had over the last week and a bit and the gift knits were actually done in time! (Well almost). It seems that I took next to no photos of Christmas down in Cornwall with my family but here's a suitably Christmassy shot in a rare patch of sun - though I should point out that these are pet geese that didn't get eaten :)

The last two knits on the gift schedule were both socks and were both nearly there by the time I caught the train on the 19th. I thought I had finished these Angee socks off on the way down and was very happy with that as they were for my Mum and so not the easiest thing to knit at her house.I was so excited to start these back when I first got my hands on Cookie A's book but I did not love knitting these as I never 'got' the pattern and had to check the book all the time in the most annoying way. I should have abandoned them early on but stubbornly carried on and it seems I was so keen to finish them that I miscounted the pattern repeat and made the second one about an inch short! So these were the almost about the finished knits - I gave them to my Mum like this which made her laugh at least and fixed them for her once she was allowed to see them.Pattern: Angee - Cookie A
Yarn: Yarn Addict - Bamboo Sock Yarn in Intense Green
Needles: 2.5 mm DPNs
Started: 30 May 2009
Finished: 26 December 2009

These socks were actually properly finished in time and were very well received by my Auntie. She was first on the list for Christmas socks as I made her some Jaywalkers last year and she loved them so much that she hasn't worn them but keeps them with her mementos! It's lovely when the work in gift knits is appreciated - but I made her promise that she will wear these!Pattern: Colosseum - Yarn Addict Anni
Yarn: Woolcraft Superwash Sock Yarn - Colourway: 46
Needles: 2.25 mm DPNs
Started: 4 September 2009
Finished: 21 December 2009

Thank you all for the comments and good wishes on the last post - hope your celebrations went with a swing and all missions for fun and frivolity were accomplished!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas TIME

I've hit the December point known as - "if only there were more time" - I think it about a thousand times a day as I have yet another crazy idea of something to make/cook/do for Christmas. I like to think that if I could just abandon the job for December that I'd get it all done. I'd get more done for sure but it could never be 'all' as the inspiration out there ensures fresh supplies of schemes for wintery delights - like learning to crochet just to make snowflakes or building my own snow village or... well I'm sure you all get the idea and have a billion things bubbling over that you'll never quite get to.
So it's prioritise like crazy, craft for sanity (and if it is as simple as wrapping some berries and mistletoe round a heart shaped wreath - jump for joy) and I try to remember that seeing the people I'm making the presents for is the most important thing of all!
I don't think I'll be back here before I head down to the wilds of Cornwall for Christmas (where the internet is like a candle in the wind) - so let me pass on my Season's Greetings and farewell to you as I head off to knit a little more and watch The Holiday with my cousin while chomping on some roasted chestnuts. Ah, it may be crazy but I LOVE this time of year. Hope it treats you all well.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Check

Malabrigo Hat? Check. Mock Cable Socks? Check. Two more Christmas presents checked off the to knit list (and two more checked off that list when I found lovely shop gifts this weekend) means the control thing might not just be an illusion this year!

Pattern: Skye Rib Hat - Dreamcatcher
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted - Forest - about half a skein
Needles: 4mm DPNs
Started: 19 November 2009
Finished: 07 December 2009

This is my second version of this pattern, a great beanie which is super stretchy enough to fit all but the biggest noggins I would think. Thank you Dreamcatcher for a great classic pattern. The Malabrigo is so lovely for a snug hat as it so soft around your face and I'm hoping there might be enough left in the skein for a second.

Pattern: Lacy Mock Cable Socks - Scarlett Knits
Yarn: Regia Kaffe Fasset Design Line - Shade 4250
Needles: 2.25 mm DPNs
Started: 28 August 2009
Finished: 06 December 2009

Love this pattern. Wins an award from me for a stitch pattern that looks fabulously complicated but is a real doddle to do. The only reason that these malingered around is that I kept saving them for my short journeys travelling project because of their simplicity. I might be tempted to go up to a 2.5mm needle if I did them again but I'm trusting the stretch in the ribby lace will make them fit the recipient.

I'm off to keep up the knitting so that Santa doesn't have to lend me any elves this year.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Santa Claus is Coming!

I'm so glad it's December - my self imposed no mention of Christmas ban is lifted! I'm so excited this year, I don't quite know why the magic is stronger some years than others, maybe it's just having enough time and energy to enjoy the fun and not feel like it's lots of work?
I feel like I'm in control of the Christmas knits (we're still at the illusion stage). A few are done - like those rocking red socks - and most are on their way like this version of Dreamcatcher's Skye Rib Hat in a good Christmassy green shade of Malabrigo. I'm making this for the Secret Santa swap at work, I pulled out a colleague who has been begging for a hand knit - serendipitous!
The decorations came down from the loft last night and though we can't get our tree till the weekend some things went up. Last years pompom garland was a lot more fun to make than to untangle this year, come January 6th I must be in less of a hurry to just get the stuff down!
I do love the memories that come out of the box with the things. Saying hello to old friends is such a lovely part of the decorating.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Winners

So if we can get a drum roll please, I am delighted to announce the winners of the third blogiversary yarn drawings from All Fingers and Thumbs.

For the the Piccolo iiiiiiitttttttssssssss.... Lori, for the Manos our hedgehog loving friend... Kelly and last but not least for the Plaid... Fiona. If the the three lucky ladies could be in touch with addresses by email or PM to Thumbelina on Ravelry I'll get this yarn in the mail; Fiona: Blogger didn't capture any of your details so I hope you see this here :o)

Thank you to everyone who joined in and for all the compliments you left me for my blogging, enough to keep me going for at least enough another three years I think!
Here are some winners of another kind, a pair of lovely socks, a finished object I do believe. Something not seen in these parts for quite some time! These are the Socktober Mystery socks finished just in time for the prize draw - quite an incentive to focus! I'd done well at keeping up with the clues until holiday intervened, but it's still a fun way to knit a sock for a change.
Pattern: Mystery Sock 09 - Kirsten Kapur
Yarn: Something lovely but unidentified from Ebay - dagnammit!
Needles: 2.75mm DPNs
Started: 1 October 2009
Finished: 29 November 2009
I particularly love the flow of the pattern - the transitions into the heel flap and onto the top of the foot - very clever indeed.

The yarn is gorgeous, pure wool I think. Flat but plump if that makes any sense? It's not twisty like the tightly spun merinos like Shibui or Socks that Rock but has a lovely denseness to it. Answers on a postcard if anyone recognises it! I had a scary moment with the second sock as I ran out of yarn mid way through the toe, it's slightly shorter and blunter than it's friend now!

As well as a belated Socktober sock these are my first contribution to the Southern Summer of Socks - so happy socky season to everyone knitting along with that.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Easy? Difficult?

Why is it that some crafty techniques are easy and some difficult? Why are some easy for one and difficult for another? Who owns the scale that says what is easy and what is not?When I was on holiday I finally got around to cabling without a cable needle. I've often read of people learning to do this but never quite had the impetus to take what felt like it would be a plunge myself. I thought it was an advanced technique and one that I wasn't sure I would ever bother with. I'm not the world's speediest knitter and have never really minded the extra time involved in using a cable needle.

While travelling my main project was the Over the Knee Stockings from Handknit Holidays which has one fiddly cable every ten rows as part of the gorgeous seam that runs up the back of the leg. Part of my getting my knitting on the plane strategy is to avoid taking metal needles in the hand luggage and I thought I could just use a spare DPN as my cable needle, which I did for a while, but it was cumbersome because it was so long and the stitches are so few and I started to think about the fabled cabling without a cable needle. I decided I'd make the effort and look the technique up online and give it a go, following a video tutorial has helped me often in the past and is the best substitute I can think of for having a real live person teach you how to do something. Then it occurred to me that actually all it takes is slipping the stitches off the needle and rearranging the order you knit them in, shuffle shuffle and away I went cabling without a cable needle. Not at all difficult although I had built it up to be so.

This reinforced for me that often it's just mind over matter and that sometimes I label things as difficult for no greater reason than that they are different or new. So when I sat down with Alicia's lovely ornament kit, I felt sure I'd whip straight on with some blanket stitch before I had a chance to think it could be hard. Goodness I think I even knew how to do this when I was at school.
Ha ha - easy? No! Difficult? Yes! I still don't know why but it took many attempts (with knitting rest breaks to restore calm) to get my head round this which is no doubt a basic stitch in the great stitch grading. Still one easy, one difficult, whichever way they come to me , that's two more skills for the emporium!

This is not easy or difficult (except to resist casting on another pair of socks!) This is loveliness in the sunshine. It's my prize from Bells' recent give away. Thank you so much again Bells - I like to think it brought a little bit of the Australian summer with it!Finally, Happy Thanksgiving to anyone celebrating and to anyone who's not but still is very thankful for all they've got. A big thanks from me for everyone who commented on my blogiversary post - cheers my dears - prize drawing this weekend so last chance for anyone who hasn't got their name in the hat.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Three

It's a magic number. My blog is three years old today. I can't quite think whether it feels like I've had a blog for three minutes or if I always had one. Do you ever feel that way about time? Somehow that first post is forever ago and also yesterday.

Anyway it wouldn't be a good blogiversary without some prizes for t'dear readers would it now? Three years means three prizes in my book and as my destashing efforts have been hurt by my yarn tourism I think I'd better share some stash as prizes and redress the balance a bit. These are all yarns that I'm just not sure what to do with so I hope your imaginations are better than mine.

Excuse the photos from the archives, weathery gloom means these are the best we can get.
1) There are fifteen skeins of this Lana Grossa Piccolo Print, which gives you just under 900 metres of it. It was a gift to me and I've never quite had the vision of what it wants to be.
2) Three skeins of Rowan Plaid, I think this colourway is called Moonwave. I've had fun with this stuff - I've made a scarf, legwarmers and cowl in this so it's time for someone else to love the Plaid.
3) One skein of Manos del Uruguay in colourway 6709 which should be called something like 'An autumn walk'. From the batch of this I had I've made a scarf and a Thorpe.

If you would like the yarn please leave me a comment by say Friday 27th November expressing a preference for the yarn you'd most like - if you're the only one it's yours, if not I'll do a draw for each type. I am happy to send it anywhere. Oh and if you don't want the yarn please wish me a happy blogiversary anyway (even if you've never commented before) won't you? It's nice to know who's out there :o)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Souvenirs

Oh there was yarn shopping a plenty on this trip; I knew to look for yarn stores in Portland and Seattle but even Cannon Beach has its own beautiful store. My pre-trip target was just some Raven Clan Socks that Rock as the perfect local souvenir. Howeve it's rare stuff even in the Pacific Northwest and I didn't find any until the last store I visited and it just seemed impossible not to collect a little something from each shop.

It has to be said that I am a dreadful yarn shop yarn shopper - so indecisive - I like to check EVERYTHING out maybe three times and in the end tend to go for a safe skein of sock yarn I know I'll use. Free WIFI or use of networked PC would be such a great addition to any bricks and mortar store. I hinted to see if the assistant would look something up for me in one place but I think I was too subtle! Aaaanyways, I digress - here's the haul:As well as being too shy to ask outright for use of the internet I am also too shy to take photos in stores but I got shots of the outsides for you all! In order visited first there was KnitPurl in downtown Portland, serendipitously (honestly!) opposite my hotel.
This is me looking at their beautiful Autumn Rose display. As befits a downtown boutique the stock here was very deluxe, high end yarn - Habu, Tilli Tomas etc - not somewhere I'd dare to look for a sweaters' worth, but they stock some lovely, unusual, sock yarns - I went for a skein of Chameleon Colorworks merino/tencel - (maybe) for my Mum (if I can bear to part with it!) - she's quite the sock knitter these days.
Up on Alberta there's a lovely pair of stores - CloseKnit and Bolt - feeding the burgeoning sewing interest as well. Lovely things in both. CloseKnit has more the complete range of yarns - basic up to fancy fancy and I bought a fair bit here thinking I might call it quits at two stores. In Bolt I felt like I did the first time in a yarn store - out of my depth - so I was happy to find a pretty little bundle of fat quarters by a local designer and I'm thinking to use them perhaps in Alicia P's Summerhouse Pillow pattern for a real Portland homage.

Out at Cannon Beach was a gem of a find, Coastal Yarns. A great big shop with a great range of stock including STR but no Ravens. Still there are always other sock yarns.
Up to Seattle and I thought I was done but we managed to find a route that went past So Much YarnThis was probably my favourite store as the ladies there were so friendly and the 1TB settled in with the canine inhabitants, Archie and Belinda, leaving me free to agonise FOREVER! Honestly, truly, after this I thought I was done until we were talking about heading out to Bainbridge Island and we were told that they had a yarn store Churchmouse Yarns who stock STR.This is a BIG store packed with lovely stuff, the teas in the name sadly are only in dry form but truly adding a cafe might have meant I'd never have left!
Here finally the STR was purchased, they only had Rooky so I managed to limit it to one skein, and I can dream of Thraven for another day.

So quite a tour of yarn shops we've known and loved, and the 1TB was there faithfully at each stage. His one reward was to choose some yarn to be made in to a Koolhaas hat which is the knitting pattern inspired by the architect of the Seattle Public Library (hence its fame in the knitting world for those of you I managed to baffle in the last post). Clearly I'm training him well:
For me I bought yarn for a Bainbridge Scarf, it may be the wrong Bainbridge but the right name is good enough for me. I have an urge to try and map the world with patterns for each area, maybe as a start you can share a pattern that would be a souvenir for your corner of the world? I might have to design one for Oxford as I'm not that excited by these I found on a quick Ravelry search: this jumper Oxford by Martin Storey or this throw Oxford by Jane Ellison.

Anyway I'm off to knuckle down to some Christmas gift crafting, which in the main amounts to finishing some of the many Christmas socks already in progress.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

And finally... Seattle!

Today at work I had that "it's as if I never had a holiday" feeling. Definitely time to pick out a sample of the over 300 (!) photos I managed to take in Seattle to share with you and remind myself how fun it was. Oh it was such fun, such a great trip all round.We got the train from Portland up to Seattle, fabulously comfy knitting opportunity ahoy.
We stayed right by Pike Place Market which is a maze of little shops and stalls, quite focused on the tourists but fun nonetheless.
The views from the roof of our hotel out over Puget Sound were wonderful.
I may have become a little obsessed with the view across to the port and the cranes which look to me like some sort of prehistoric monsters standing waiting to feed on the container ships.I think I could stare at this view forever and never tire of it as it changes so much.We did our normal walking, walking, walking around. Loved the sculpture park.
Had to visit perhaps the most famous public library in the knitting world.
Took a ferry out to Bainbridge Island. Great views of the Seattle skyline on the return leg.
We ate pizza at Delancey.
I'm sorry it was too dark and I was too shy for better photos! It was the place to eat in Seattle for sure, we read up and knew to get there at opening time to get a table. By 5.30pm there was a queue and by 6pm it was a BIG queue. It's only a wee place, 10/12 tables, very simply and stylishly decorated though to me it felt a little bare and cold until it was full when the guests create the colour and warmth. The food was of course great: simple salad/antipasti to start, charred, chewy flavoursome pizza and a delicious chocolate chip cookie to finish. It's a real shame you can't see the kitchen from the dining area, but they're hampered by the space which is two smaller shops put together I think. The bar/kitchen/gathering place for the mighty queue is one half and the dining room through a doorway is the other. Molly wasn't there when we were which at least saved me the dilemma of whether or not to tell her how much I love her book!
Ah it feels good to remember.

Thank you all for the lovely comments on stages one and two of the trip, hope you enjoy Seattle too. I need to hear your latest knitting news so I hope I'll be stoppping by and catching up with you all in the next few days and then I'll be back here to have a paw through my souvenirs.
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