Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Never look a gift horse in the mouth

Whenever I come up with some quaint phrase as a blog post title I feel an irrestible urge to Google it and read about the origins. Did you know that this saying is thought to originate from St Jerome? According to my interwebby research his words were apparently "Never inspect the teeth of a gift horse." This would be assessing the value of the gift rather than appreciating it in the spirit it was given. Makes sense now - I'd always thought it must be something to do with seeing something you wouldn't want, like the gift might bite back at you!All of this is because the yarn acquisition this quarter comes mainly in gift form from a destashing friend and gratefully though it was received I did wince a little at the addition to my stash. I take this as a good sign of the internalisation of my stash reduction philosophy, soon I'll be evangelising on the benefits of having no stash! Well maybe not so soon I did buy the beautiful kit from Cotton & Cloud - but that is a mere one skein of yarn - already in use - oh and some Patons Purple Heather so cheap in the charity shop that it was really a gift as well. It's a lovely bitter chocolate brown, though it's looking rather black in this shot:

Lana Grossa Piccolo Print - 15 skeins - 870 metres
Sirdar Denim Ultra - 6 skeins - 450 metres
Jamieson's Shetland Heather - 1 skein - 92 metres
Patons Purple Heather - 4 skeins - 366 metres
Total: 1,778

One Serendipity sock - 165 metres
Francis Revisited - 1,025 metres
Slippers - 106 metres
Total: 1,296

Year to date:
In - 2,682
Out - 3,830

Bring on the KAL's that should see the completion of some projects tying up a fair bit of yarn waiting to go out!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Training Camp

If athletes benefit from training at altitude do you think that my knitting speed will have been improved by knitting in the Swiss Alps this week?In truth not much knitting was done as that boring old thing - work - kept getting in the way - oh and don't feel too envious of the view - most of the week it looked like this:
I am in deadline knitting training on these Sockamania socks which need to be done by the end of June to enter in to the draw:
Should be good preparation for the two sporting knitalongs I'll now be participating in for July - when I read on Artificially Mythic that there is an Ashes KAL on Ravelry I thought I'd better sign on for that too. Nice and relaxed - just set your own goals for each test - should fit well with the WIP completion for the Tour KAL.

Thank you for all the bee and garden love in the comments on the last post. Most of the plants are flourishing thanks to the 1TB who has been on watering duty for the week and pleasingly the little visitors are buzzing - though if only humming birds were a possibility! I managed to snap a good shot of a little friend this morning:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bee Friendly

My Mama has been here to play this weekend and we've been busy as bees in the garden. Following advice from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust we've been upping the bee-friendliness. This mainly consists of trying to ensure a long season of flowers which make bees happy - as a rule these are flowers with easy access to their pollen. As well as more lavenders and thymes we planted amongst other things a Cotoneaster: a Ceanothus:
and some Hebes:
In an ironic twist we disturbed a common carder bee nest in the mossy margins of the front lawn when tidying that up. Luckily I don't think it was damaged, just revealed to prying eyes which were both amazed to see it and sad to have upset them. I somehow forgot to get a photo in all the excitement and by the time I went to see if I could get one this morning they had pulled their mossy blanket safely back over. I'm so delighted to have seen the nest and know that my garden is already a home for bees and so glad that they seem to have been able to make it safe again.Another much less disruptive thing I do (which works well for my lazier side) is try and keep some wild areas and wild flowers - this seems to be a big attraction:and not just for the bees. I know that newts and frogs are making good use of the wild spots too. All wildlife welcome as I try and create a pretty and friendly town garden. Bee friendly to all :o)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Just one more hill

I've just signed up for the Tour de France Knitalong (on Ravelry this year) in the Polka Dot Jersey category:

Polka Dot jersey = completion of languishing WIPs. (The more, the merrier: go for as many summits as you can!)

My secret ambition is to clear the decks completely so at the end of July there should be nothing on the needles (although that might mean ripping rather than ascending the mountains for some things - yes mittens and Arisaig I am looking at you) . I don't know why but that sounds like fun all of a sudden, maybe because it's a state never achieved since I first started knitting! To make it just a little more of a bumpy ride I thought I'd start one more thing:
I bought this beautiful kit from Kyoko recently and want it made up for my friend's birthday in early August. So while the cyclists are pedalling my fingers will hopefully be flying along with them. Who else is in?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I would be gloating...

...about just how damn clever I am having executed my magic-toe-up heel-flap-adorned socky masterpiece. I would be looking forward to completing the pair for stashing in the drawer for colder days when I could take them out and think just how damn clever I am:if I hadn't overlooked the fundamental issue of sizing. To the present pile for these then, with little hope that the recipient will be a sock knitter who can marvel at just how damn clever the construction is. Good job that they are purty too! Off to channel some Cat B for the second magic toe and remind myself how damn clever I am :o)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

National Portrait Gallery Kitchener Poster

Having successfully brought chill winds and rain to bear upon UK knitters hoping to make the most of our outdoor knitting spots it's time to go underground. I had a meeting in London yesterday and saw a poster in the tube which caught my eye:

Image from thedrum.co.uk

It was the word Knitter that jumped out. Love this campaign from the National Portrait Gallery.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The View From...

I seem to have adopted a new knitting spot and I think it has the feline seal of approval. The cats change 'their' place fairly regularly. They normally have a couple in rotation as a minimum, a daytime one and an evening one. If they can manage to get a hold on a seat that is disapproved of by their servants then so much the better; even if it seems like a hard, miserable surface, like say a table. My two knitting spots are normally snug on the sofa or the deckchair for a sunny weekend. Just lately the garden table and chairs seem right. Yep, I can see that if we get much dry weather this summer this will be the place to find Lil and I.
The view from here is very lush and green at the moment.
It's definitely been influencing the yarn choices for the three projects I've cast on in the last week or so. Angee, Lazy Leaves and Baktus.
The scarf was an accidental cast-on, in so much as something so deliberate can be accidental. I was winding the Natural Dye Studios yarn intending it for the Lazy Leaves socks but found it was so soft it seemed a waste to wrap it round toes. I've seen so many lovey Bakti of late that it was on the needles before I knew it.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Saturday Night's Alright (for Knitting)

Saturday night's alright alright, especially when I'm home alone with a knitting challenge to master. Sock Innovation has brought back the sock addiction with a vengeance.

Using Anni's yarn I won from Sockamania for Angee inspired me to try and be a better Sockamaniac and actually join in. It's nearly a year since my last which won me the pretty green yarn. This month it's a beautiful toe-up pattern - Lazy Leaves.I've never embraced toe-up socks, my short row toes from a crochet provisional cast-on have never lived up to the toes done top down, but I don't want to miss out on (or have to rework) toe-up patterns. So, with a quiet evening to spend as I chose, I thought I'd try and best an old foe. Judy's Magic Cast-on. This time with Cat Bordhi on my side:

I did it:Hurrah for the power of the knitternet! Seeing a demonstration of this technique and being able to follow the hand movements made the world of difference. When this clicks it is very straightforward but I remember getting so frustrated trying to follow the written instructions and pictures. I think tutorial videos are the best teaching aid - I went back and watched the exact bits I wanted to see over and over - a real live teacher would have passed out with boredom! They would have been proud of my finished toe though:So neat and tidy -
even the inside :o)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

For the love of yarn

"Yarn is creation, consolation and chaos all spun together into one perfect ball."
The Knitter's Book of Yarn - Clara Parkes
I've just finished swatching with the green Felted Tweed in the picture above and I love it. The yarn's been in the stash for a while but it wasn't until I started knitting with it that I realised just how lovely it is. Soft and springy and very light.

I thought I'd read up in one of my favourite books to understand a little more about the blend of fibres: wool, alpaca and viscose. Not a mixture I've knitted with before. I got The Knitter's Book of Yarn for Christmas and it is an absolute mine of information. I dip in and out of it - learn something then normally forget it again as yarn fumes intoxicate me - today's nugget of information (that I think I might actually remember as it surprised me so) is that viscose or rayon is cellulose based, it's normally made from wood pulp. I'd always thought it was a synthetic like nylon. Still it's only since I started knitting that I call yarn - yarn, before if a knitter was knitting it then it was wool even if it was 100% acrylic wool. Ah so much to learn.

Still CP is a great teacher - this article that has just come out in the summer issue of Twist Collective, on different types of sock yarn and how they can impact on the pattern you're knitting, was really interesting to me and I agree with every word on Clara's Kureyon sock yarn review here. The purchase of two balls of Kureyon sock was defnitely an example of the yarns fumes overpowering me. I bought the yarn despite having previously read this review and thinking the colours wouldn't be enough to make up for the downsides for me. I was sucked in and while I still love the colours that yarn is not much fun to knit.

My new sock project employs a yarn much more palatable or whatever the finger equivalent of that is. A wool and bamboo blend - firm with a slight sheen and a slightly dry feel - very pleasant to knit with - thanks again to Anni who I won this from last summer.
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