Saturday, January 31, 2009

I'm making a plan

And swatching it twice;
Gonna find out if it's naughty or nice
Cushion gifts are coming to town

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Happy Compromise

Sometimes I think a compromise can leave you feeling a little like you gave too much up, that you settled for less than you should have. I feared I may feel like this when I decided to knit a plain foot on my Poms. I'd been wanting to knit this pattern for so long could I really make do with just a patterned leg? Would it look like I couldn't stand the heat in the Pomatomus kitchen? Would it lose the joy of the original pattern to cut it off at the ankle?

Happily I love the way this looks; sure I could take the all over patterning if someone else was doing the knitting - one of the great features of many Cookie A patterns is the seamless flow of the patterning across the sock. However, for me, given where the foot of a sock normally ends up I can feel content with taking the easy way on these.

I'd got stuck at the end of the leg on this first of the pair and was not feeling inspired to press on even with the deliciousness of the heel to come. I liked the look of the pattern as it emerged from the needles but I never clicked with the rhythm of knitting it and a patterned 1x1 rib is a slow plod if you're not in the swing of it. I knew I wanted to make the socks, I knew ripping out all that work would hurt more than knitting on but I also need to enjoy my knits. There's enough in life that is not all fun and frolics without bringing plodding to the knits.

Eventually I had to get on with the heel as my mitts were knit and I'd deliberately only taken the Poms with me on my trip home. Aren't I cruel to my inner knitter sometimes? I kept hoping that once I picked them up again there would be a spring in the stitches but I still wasn't feeling it as I knit the heel flap. In the end inspiration came from my Mama who suggested the rather obvious idea of just not patterning the foot. Suddenly I had some simple knit, knit, knitting to swing along on and then just the much more manageable prospect of one leg more of the pattern to go. Half-Poms, sock one completed and sock two cast on. A happy compromise as this way I should actually get some of the great Pom patterning on an FO. Sometimes less really is more.

Friday, January 23, 2009

This Friday night I have a date...

...with a lovely bit of fluff.
Hope your Friday night partners are as delightful.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More FO goodness

Having resolved to knit more sweaters this year it seems only appropriate to kick the year off with knitting accessories. The equivalent of scoffing down the chocolate eclairs when you've resolved to diet. Better for the waistline though.

Pattern: Urchin
Yarn: Knitglobal Shetland Flame - shade Sherbet, 1 skein
Needles: 7mm plastic straights
Started: 9 January 2009
Finished: 18 January 2009A looming birthday convinced me to make another of these super quick to knit hats; I wanted an excuse to get the yarn used in one of the versions photographed for the pattern as I really love how much the texture mimics that of a sea urchin shell. In my first version with a yarn with consistent thickness there isn't all that much of the sea about it. It's a great beret but not quite so magical as that soft pink cap Ysolda looks so sweet in. Knit in the Shetland Flame yarn the hat seems to have grown in some mysterious, under the sea way. Instead it grows in a mysterious, knitting is magic way. Knit in a yarn with a consistent thickness the construction is a little more obvious as the wedge shapes are more distinct in the FO, though I doubt that had I been handed the hat and no pattern I'd have worked out the construction. I'd not knit any side to side hats before and I wouldn't have thought knitting on straight needles could have produced a seamless beret. The first time of knitting definitely felt like a return to my early days of the craft when every thing I knit required some blind faith following of the pattern. As you finish up the final wedge, pick up the live stitches from the provisional cast on and bring the two needles together for grafting the faith is rewarded and a beret appears from an amorphous schlomph of knitting. This is an all round good egg of a gift knit - the interesting construction adds a little frisson to the very quick and straightforward knitting and it creates a beautiful wearable item.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hootie Cutie

I have been feeling the owl love that seems to be spreading across the knitting net at the moment. There have been a couple of owlified patterns that have caught my eye of late. It's such a fun motif and a wonderful demonstration of our craft to see a simple touch of cabling create such a strong image. It wasn't however until I saw Cara's renditions of this pattern that I knew I must capture some owls of my own.

Well isn't he a hootie cutie?

Pattern: Give a Hoot from Kelbourne Woolens
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft Aran - 2 x 50g in Poppy
Needles: 4 and 5mm bamboo DPNS
Started: 15 January 2009
Finished: 17 January 2009
Mods: I fiddled with the decreases to leave eight stitches and kitchenered the top closed.

Couldn't be happier with these lovelies. It's like having little friends along to keep your hands warm. I'm sure I'll talk to them on days when the company is slow. The pattern is beautifully set out, very clearly written and easy to follow. They're a very quick knit and made a perfect, relaxed long weekend project. I love how the thumb gussets are worked creating a swoop up to the thumb on the palms.

I chose RYC Cashsoft for the pattern as I've squished it in the past and wanted some of it's super soft smooshiness in my life. I love the vibrancy of the red and it starts to warm my hands before I've ever got them in the mittens. An all round, super cute, multi-sensory delight!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Keeping it in the Family

There's much more knitting going on in my family these days and I hope I've played a part in inspiring this. I'm certainly always knitting whenever I see them - it's important to set a good example you know. I don't tend to talk that much about knitting until some sustained interest is shown as I find it best to hide the true strength of my obsession from the uninitiated! At work this week though I came over all Pollyanna-ish and was extolling the virtues of knitting as the perfect winter hobby to a colleague with the January blues. Well it is isn't it? Something that makes staying in fun and creative (not that I'm averse to knitting in the summer either!) Look at one of my Christmas pressies from my auntie and you can see what a skilled lady with the needles she is and how handy knitted items can be for keeping you cosy whilst you stay in and get creative. I've been meaning to make a hot water bottle cover for so long now and this has been so well used in the last weeks.

My cousin (her daughter) moved to Oxford late last year and is becoming quite the dedicated knitter; Sunday evenings often find us side by side on my sofa clicking away. I do my best to help out and at least I normally know where to look to find the answers. The cats just like to make sure we don't feel lonely.

Tonight the Mr and I will be heading back down to Cornwall to see my parents. My Mum has had to spend a lot more time sitting down, restricted by a bad foot, this winter and what more perfect occupation for her time could there be than knitting?

Over the Christmas holiday she got going on her first socks and I hear that this one is finished already. She's made various other things including this oh- so- pretty -I- must- make- it- myself Jyri scarf from my NGV1 ( that must count towards the knitting more from my books resolution I think) and she finished off the scary monster gloves I made one of for use around the garden. Suited me as the only use I ever found for the single giant glove was to make my cousin feel better when her first project, some mitts, turned out somewhat on the small side. There's nothing like a another failed project to lend a little support is there now?

These are now officially known in the family as the Wallace and Gromit gloves.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Balance Sheet

The stash. Is it a monster or a treasure trove?Sometimes I love my stash, sometimes it weighs me down. My ideal stash would be smaller than it is currently (this one drawer is just a drop in the ocean) and with less stuff that I purchased on sale for no higher purpose than it being a bargain. Sub-section a) of the stash - my sock yarn stash - brings me nothing but pleasure because I love all of the yarn in it, looking at it can be inspiring, I can see myself knitting it all and when I want to start a new pair of socks I have something suitable on hand. Simple really.

Within the rest of the stash it's the odd amounts that I'm not too sure what to use them for that weigh me down the most. They're not quite charity shop donations yet (though some of it went that way last year) but they may be in time. (For full disclosure purposes it should be noted that I do not count part used balls, the odds and ends bag does not clamour at me as that yarn has already had a go at fulfilling its destiny and there will always be Innocent smoothie hats or their like to finish it off with.)

With all of this in mind during 2008 I thought I would try and keep track of my yarn purchasing with the aim that I bought in the same or less than went out. Most knitters seem to have a stashing habit so I'm sure you understand that this goal which sounds so simple is actually a tricky one to achieve. I didn't set a regular check point and in fact started to ignore totting it up deliberately as the year went on for fear of what I may find. Not the best management technique was it? Well it's time to check the balance sheet and see whether there was any subliminal effect of knowing there would be a final reckoning.

83 balls - eek that is more than I thought....

Knitted: 56 balls
Sold/traded/gifted: 22 balls
= 78 balls - well also more than I thought :o)

An addition of five balls overall and probably sock yarn at that so the yardage is definitely up! Still I'm pleased it was close and I'm putting that down to fear of the final reckoning. This year I'll try and build on this. I think monthly or quarterly checks and perhaps measuring the yardage to give a more accurate reflection of usage versus purchasing. It would be nice to use more than I buy this year (though that is not a resolution!) Dreamcatcher is using a knitmeter to keep track of how much she has knit up - I must investigate this.

There has been an entry on the in column of the 2009 balance sheet. 3 skeins of Knitglobal Shetland Flame - yum. Still I am knitting with some of it already, which after all is what yarn is for :o)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Exciting new project for me, me, ME!

Making a list of resolutions for the new year is not something I bother with too much (you can tell by this opening that I will now go on to talk about the new year's resolutions I am going to make for 2009 but work with me, one day I'll resolve to be consistent).

I like to think that I'm always working towards living better (and what that means varies wildly from moment to moment) I resolve to do all sorts of things whenever the whim takes me with varying degrees of success in keeping to them. At the end of the year I'd rather think about all the great things I've done than see a list of things I haven't. However at the New Year's Eve supper we attended this year I got asked for a resolution and out popped 'knit myself more jumpers'. And so, more jumpers I must knit. Notice the vagueness of 'more'?I finished two jumpers in 2008. I think this goal is achievable.I'm off to a good start with the first new project of the year - a shrug for myself in the truly indulgent Kidsilk Haze. My very, kind parents bought me the yarn for Christmas and if you noticed the Harmony Options circular cable it's hanging from you'll know that I am a thoroughly spoilt knitter. The 1TB's parents treated me to the full set of these terrific needles. What's that you want to see them all? Here you are then - isn't it a compact box of joy? Much more portable than I had anticipated.
I had a definite idea of how I wanted this shrug to look but couldn't find a suitable pattern written in a fine yarn so I'm following the pattern for the Two Tone Ribbed Shrug by the glorious Stefanie Japel whose great book Fitted Knits I got approximately 2 billion years ago* and have never knit from. This brings me on to another resolution (stolen from Lin so I think it doesn't count so much as a resolution, more as copying a good idea) to actually knit more things from my wonderful collection of knitting books. The knitting shelf is getting full and yet so rarely do I actually make a pattern from a book I own. I made a head start on this resolution at the end of 2008 as I finally managed to knit something from one of my all time favourite pattern books - Knitting Nature - when I made Mum's Spiral Scarf. I find resolving to do something after you have started to do it is quite a good way of upping the achievement ratio. Anyone else ever add things to their to do list that they've already done? Makes me feel good :o)

*Well Christmas 2007 does feel that long ago sometimes.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Christmas Knits 2008 - Done

They got done.

January 1st type done but done and I'm not so done with them that I'm sworn off Christmas Knitting for 2009. There will be some refinement to the approach and I'm sticking by the lesson learnt to only go for patterns I actually want to knit but there will be woolly gifts again for my nearest and dearest I'm sure.

Now on to this 2009 thing, not so sure I have the hang of this year yet but when this nasty piece of work cold leaves me to get on with life alone it'll get easier I think. Happy New Year to you all, keep the knits close by and I'm sure it'll be a good one.
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