Friday, July 24, 2009

Twin Peaks

Le Tour is nearly over (sob) and it looks like my two favourite riders, Wiggins and Armstrong, are going to have to scrap it out for a podium place. I have a weekend away booked with no tv or net coverage so from lunchtime today there's going to be a media blackout until Sunday evening when I can watch all three ITV4 highlights programmes in one sitting. The ITV4 coverage has been so entertaining again this year and the race itself has been so exciting, I'm sure I'll have withdrawal symptoms when it's all over.

My own personal polka dot jersey efforts were looking a bit lacklustre with just the Moonlight mountain ascended so last night I claimed two more peaks.
Pattern: Baktus
Yarn: The Natural Dye Studio Blue Faced Leicester 4ply/Sock - Aqua Ice
Needles: 3.75mm Bamboo Straights
Started: 4 June 2009
Finished: 23 July 2009

Pattern: Macaroon Purse Kit - Raspberry Sundae
Yarn: Jamiesons Shetland Heather
Needles: 4.5mm circular needle
Started: 18 June 2009
Finished: 23 July 2009

I knit on the Baktus scarf for my team time trial (and managed a much more respectable 1,700 stitches by watching a less distracting repeat of the rest day coverage) and at the end of that (the sections between the red wool) thought I could just kick on to the end. Part way through I gave my arms a break and tackled the purse, right mental attitude this time and it went together without any swearing :o) Thanks for the great kit and encouragement Kyoko.
So in love with both of these items. I've hopes of finishing Lady E this weekend as my own personal Ventoux, bonne chance all fellow tour knitters - enjoy the run in to Paris.

PS - Hardly any photos taken for the scarf shoot, many more for Moonlight - want an out-take or two Teri?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Two out of Three and a Mountain

And what a great two they are. One to England in quite some style and one I thought might never happen for me. Incredibly enough I have actually finished Moonlight.

Last seen like this:
Now looking like this:
In finishing this cardigan I do feel a bit like I have achieved an historic victory, sure it's just been a bit over two years in the making rather than 75 but more than one year after I finished knitting the pieces of this cardigan, which was more than one year after I started knitting this cardigan, I really feel like I have scaled a mountain!Turns out if you just pick up a needle and some yarn you can turn those odd shaped bits of knitted fabric into something rather nice.

Pattern: Moonlight
Yarn: Rowanspun Aran - Gables
Needles: 5mm wooden straights and 5mm circular needle
Started: March 2007
Finished: 20 July 2009
Notes: Almost perfect - there's just the small matter of having knit the right front wrong. Gawd knows how but I haven't got the stocking stitch panel correct - it's too wide on the right so it doesn't meet nicely with the panel of stocking stitch on the arm.
See what I mean? It's actually been quite reassuring taking these photos as it's not as obvious as I thought it might be. I found the mistake only as I was sewing the final sleeve in place. I just couldn't face the idea of ripping out the collar, unpicking the front and re-knitting it after all this time, so lopsided it shall remain. It made the decision about whether to add the buttons or not an easier one!

A huge mental block has held this up for the past year or so. There's a little bit of knitting for the collar in the midst of the seaming and every time I've got the pieces and pattern out to look at what I needed to do it just sounded too hard to get going with, this combined with the typical doubts about whether it would fit/what it would look like when seamed etc and made the finishing of this seem like a real chore. I'm all for knitting what I want when I want, this is a hobby after all but I'm so pleased that my sporting KALs made finishing this up into the fun it should have been all long.

It was of course quite straightforward when I just got on with it and I am delighted with the fit and feel of this despite the dodgy front panel. I think the adrenalin is still flowing from the ascent to the finish as I feel like I might just re-knit this pattern one day soon in another yarn, if I do I'll try and make sure I a) finish it in less than two years and b) knit both fronts correctly!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A draw

So like the England team itself the purse had a bit of a rough Test after the positive looking first innings. It wasn't my new toy which stuck the bat in with four centuries oh no. Magic loop - check, sewing - check, attachment of purse clasp - ummm:Though if a draw is good enough for the cricketers then I'll take a draw on my own Test performance against my mighty purse foe. The sewing machine and I got on well and I was pleased with how I managed to join the lining. So with a spring in my fingers I thought I had this challenge licked until the endless frustration of trying to make the purse sit in the clasp. Just one tiny corner so far attached. So fiddly, I certainly felt all fingers and thumbs and in the end had to abandon for fear I would bowl it across the room with almighty speed and bounce!

So my next declaration is that I will have this purse and a certain cardigan last seen hanging out in pieces in a plastic bag finished by the time England win the second Test. Ah I'm not sure which part of that sentence is the most unlikely ;o)

Friday, July 10, 2009

The first innnings

It's been a good start to the test for the Macaroon Purse, magic loop is my friend again. Quick watch of the video and I was away - I used the longest of my cables which I think makes it even easier - plenty of room to manouevre.Kyoko's pattern is a lovely knit, what sweet cables and the use of short rows to create the perfect arched top is very smart. Great design.

So now on to the machining, though I'm not sure I should wait for England's second innings to start or I might just miss getting it done for the end of the test. Yes Rose Red, it seems like the hum of the machine will be needed to drown out the sounds of Australian bat on ball!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The First Test

The first test of the Ashes bats off today and while I've got my doubts that it can live up to the mens Wimbledon competition or the start of the Tour in the excitement stakes I'll enjoy watching the series and hoping that England can do a 2005 (no mentions of the 5-0 drubbing in the last Ashes will be tolerated in the comments - thank you!).

I'm joining in with a KAL for the Ashes too which should fit nicely with the Tour one for the early tests. Each KAL-er simply makes a declaration of their goals for the duration of each test. For the opener I've gone for finishing my Macaroon Purse which would also be my first mountain for the Tour. Last in, first out.

Sound too easy? Never fear there are hidden challenges on this wicket which may get me out for a duck. First up, the reason I've not made any progress since the initial flurry is that I haven't got a short enough cable needle or the right size DPNs to move on from the base without reinvigorating a long dormant technique for me - magic loop. Still with the trusty Knitting Help videos I'm sure I can get past that and on to the second challenge:
See my shiny new toy - yep I'm too scared to have gotten my impulse weekend buy (£79.99 at Lidl!) out of the box yet and somehow by Sunday I'm supposed to have used it to sew up my purse! Never fear - I'm visiting sewing machine coach extraordinaire Mama All Fingers and Thumbs this weekend. With a bit of practice in the nets I'm hoping it will all be fine.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Team Time Trial

How many stitches could I complete to add to my team's total in one hour?
A paltry 1180 apparently. I'm blaming the excitement of the race, it kept distracting me!
Panda decided she'd get in on the cushion pile arranged for the before and after shots. Perhaps I should just lie down and join her. So not a time trialler either - good job I recognised my place in life and went for the polka dot jersey.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A gentle start for some

Two fabulous stages to kick off Le Tour including a win for Cavendish, fellow Brit and Columbia team mate :o) For me it was a gentle start with some entrelac bringing a French air to my living room. Lady Eleanor, begun in 2007 and oft neglected since, has been the first to benefit from some attention.

This is my personal Tour course: Plenty of challenging inclines as I try and finish everything on the needles as a King of the Mountains rider aiming for as many completed WIPS as possible. While the GC riders and sprinters have their days, I'll ride along with the peloton getting a few kilometres past the needles and bide my time for the glory days in these mountains that I hope are to come. Aptly the reverse of the stole has something of the mountain range about it to my eye.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Lazy Leaves

An aptly named pattern - I've been very lazy in the heat of the last week and so missed the end of June deadline - though good news for me is that they can count for the July catch up month. I was determined to finish them tonight so that I didn't add another mountain to my Tour de France challenge starting tomorrow.
Pattern: Lazy Leaves
Yarn: Patons Purple Heather - 1671, 4oz
Needles: 2.5mm DPNs
Started:6 June 2009
Finished: 3 July 2009

They were a little large for the sock blockers or stunt foot so a combination of both are employed to show the details. I'm a firm convert to Judy's Magic Cast-On after this and the sewn bind off definitely suits me. I need to try the afterthought heel before I conclude that my toe up sock recipe is perfected, the heel flap looks nice and wins for me over the short row heel but I don't think it's as much fun as a top down heel flap. Still I'm definitely more in favour of the toe up now, it feels a bit like learning to write with my left hand - I think I'll always favour the top down but it's nice to be sockily ambidextrous!
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