Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Collage

I'm rubbish at the lovely end of year posts I so like on other people's blogs but I was enjoying looking at my photos and found that what I think of as a year that missed out on its full craft potential was actually still quite delightfully crafty - and I learnt to crochet! And sew! (Almost!!) I found a Picasa collage feature and here's how it made 2011 look. Hope it's been a good year for you and wishing you a wonderful 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

PS I forgot one!

It seems that I did so well making a secret gift for my beloved that I have now wiped it from my mind! Luckily I remembered to give it and the beloved seems to love it.
Pattern: Skye Rib Hat by Louise N
Yarn: Fyberspates Chunky Scrumptious - Biscuit
Needles: 4.5mm circular

It's tricky making a surprise gift for someone you live with but there was a conference he had to attend in late November which gave me just enough time to squeak in this little beanie. It was worth the rush for the happy surprise on Christmas morning. Third time making this pattern. Still a winner in my eyes. And in his. 

As he is known to tell me plaintively from time to time he gets relatively few hand knits compared to the amount that leave this house.  Bad neglectful me! It would be hard to imagine a more appreciative recipient. Often seen wearing a pair of his socks about the house. Cold weather rarely sees him without his scarf and one of his hats. This is the favourite, going strong from 2007, hence the repeat. I think this one has been retired now. His Iphone is always toasty warm and I think this was his last knift so it was about time. In fact I think the only knit that hasn't seen serious use are these. Even these were delighted in but I don't think such mitts cut the mustard when you cycle which is the only time he really wears gloves.

Maybe 2012 will see me flout the boyfriend sweater curse, with over 13 years on the relationship clock I'm sure we can make it, though he's a big guy so it'll have to be a chunky yarn if it's ever to see the light of day!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Knifts of 2011

Just three knitted gifts given this year and, as I finished the last one today in the car on the way to see my friend, that seems like just the right amount!
Ravelled: here
 Starting with that one, it was a knit I was delighted with all the way up to when I tried it on at the end to find that it was on the large size, particularly in the arms which are quite Mr Tickle-ish in proportions! Snapped here with the ends still needing sewing in, a perfect job for a car journey. Exemplary planning in action. Happily my friend is the sort who is simply delighted to receive a hand made gift and was sportingly keen to roll up any amount of excess armage. I choose the recipients of my knifts wisely!

Spring Forward socks were finished on Christmas Eve, barely off the needles before happily cosying toes. I used a cotton stretch yarn - the kind that is constructed as a tube with an elastic thread within. I didn't love it to knit because it has a somewhat corrugated feel, but it's nice in the socks and should wear well I think. I just love this pattern both to knit and to look at as I've said before, my only mod was to add an extra inch of the twisted rib cuff and I might be tempted to add another pattern repeat to the leg next time around. I am sure there will be a next time around, maybe in a plainer yarn to make more of that pretty pattern.
Ravelled: here

The third gift was finished back in early December and after a stern talking to and a bit of a wash and condition I decided the yarn was soft enough for a cowl, I wouldn't use it for that again but this design is quite baggy so I think it worked okay. I'll let you know if I ever see my Auntie actually wearing it - though as she has a bad habit of saving all my knits in a box it might not be a measure of the scratchy-ness if I don't!
Ravelled: here

A nice little selection, and as I got some lovely yarn for Christmas that I'm excited to get on to knitting any second now I'm very happy to have kept it simple and to have them done. I hope you all had or  are having lovely holidays and that some crafty treats made it your way too.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Season's Greetings

Whatever festivities you are partaking in at this time of year I wish you all every happiness and much light xxx

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Feeling it

 The Christmas spirit rolled on in this weekend and as soon as I started having more fun the energy came on with it. 

I made a ton of sweets - and let the creative chaos reign! I've made three  kinds of fudge - these two are in the shortlist for the go to recipe. Caramels. Peppermint Bark. Candied Orange Sticks underway. 

I even saw a bit of my inspiration Willie Wonka this evening with my Christmas movie loving cousin and the delightfully soppy Mrs Miracle 2 with sock knitting in hand. This has been everything I could have wished the weekend before Christmas would be. Why is it so easy to get caught up in the must dos? Do the want tos shall be my new motto! 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ups and Downs

It's been a beautiful weekend and a beastly one. Some lovely time with friends and the Mr - eating out and tripping round the Christmas market and relaxing at home and then some grumpy time that I wish would just go away. I wonder whether I'm always a little like this in the run up to Christmas. My calm just strains at the seams until panic peeps out? Something about trying to just stuff in one too many activities. It's not the gift makes really this year. I'm just about on schedule. Though a bit more seaming and a bit less playing with crochet blanket squares might get me a little closer to the wrapped moment!

It was the thought of putting up decorations that sent me over the edge today. More specifically tidying and cleaning and finding the decorations. There's something about this time of year which makes me want to do more and make more at a time of year when I have less and less energy to spare. Each short day as we head to year's end I feel a little more like I'm drawing on an empty well. I have so much I want to do but as I try and be realistic about what I should spend my time on I guess I resent not having more energy to fit everything in. That's a downward spiral I don't want to get trapped in so we're going light on the deccies this year and I shall try and just be happy to enjoy Christmas and not worry about accomplishing it!

Monday, December 05, 2011

I think I've found The One

I've got some very special yarn tucked in my stash. Jade Sapphire silk/cashmere 2ply. It was love at first sight/stroke when I was lucky enough to win it a long time ago now. I've written about its treasured status before. I've been waiting to find a pattern that I thought would suit it, show it off, be special but not so special it shouts over the yarn. I thought for a while that it might become a very simple basketweave scarf like I made for my Mammy's birthday this summer. That thought never became action though and this weekend I think I found the yarn's destiny.

I think it was the Yarn Harlot's version I was admiring. Then I was imagining it in a darker colour and wondering whether I had anything suitable stashed. Then I hopped over to Anne's site Knitspot and finally when I saw the words Jade Sapphire Cashmere/Silk Laceweight the penny dropped!

I'm impressed at my patience as I haven't actually cast it on yet and am still knitting on the small pile of gifts! Maybe it's not patience maybe it's because the path to the stash is chaos! Or perhaps it's just that having waited this long I may as well savour each individual step. Just knowing what's coming is a wonderful treat in itself.

Friday, December 02, 2011

A Good substitute but will it be a good substitute?

This yarn is Good. In arriving with me it has generated a wonderfully tiny carbon footprint, it comes from an independent business with aims and policies that I fully support and I feel a little reflected glow of Goodliness about using it and pleasure that I put my money where my heart is.
I'm also a little concerned though. It's rather delumptiously woolly and rugged feeling, traits I admire and covet in yarns for certain items but I'm making a cowl with it. A snuggly next to the tender underchin skin gift of a cowl. Hmmm understand my concern? 

I went for the 50/50 wool and alpaca blend as I'm using it in place of the 50/50 wool and alpaca Blue Sky Alpacas bulky yarn. I was intent on using that yarn as that is what the pattern is written for and I had a specific request for this precise cowl. My Auntie picked it from the book she kindly gave me last Christmas. I love gift knitting when I know it will be appreciated so I was really focusing on getting it exactly as the picture looked. I'm normally quite brave about substituting though very often it's because I'm looking to save some pennies and so they aren't always the most conscientious of purchases. I was searching online for UK suppliers of the Blue Skys when I read some of the comments that accompanied the gifting of the pattern to Guardian online readers to celebrate UK Wool week (in summary nice idea but an interesting choice of pattern given the US yarn it's written for).  So as I was committed to the spends and over my normal cost hurdle for maximising my conscientious consumer credentials it made sense to me to substitute for a similar cost UK yarn of the right colour and composition.

I fear my desire to re-create what my Auntie saw may have gone a bit awry; at the end of the day she wants a chunky grey cowl. She's not a knitter and is not concerned about having a wool/alpaca blend. I could have opted for the 100% alpaca got the same Goodly buzz and it would likely have been a lot softer. My one saving hope is that I asked the shop if this was suitable substitute and they agreed it was so perhaps it will wash up much softer?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In the last two weeks..

.. it feels like all I've done is work though as I uploaded my camera card to find the picture I wanted to accompany this post I found these before and after shots of our kitchen cupboard so it looks like I've been present and domestic-ing in the house without even realising it!

 There's something about taking a before photo of tidying up that makes it so much more bearable for me. It still looks much more like photo number two and I'd forgotten it ever got as bad as number one so these were a nice surprise!

I have also been gently knitting away on a chunky cardigan that is getting close to the end - rather thrilling though I still dare not call it a Christmas present for fear I will curse my fingers. Still I was feeling a bit too much work makes Jack a dull girl and then I had a rather splendid crafty weekend.

On Saturday I spent four hours dedicated to THE dress - it's really nearly there now - metres of hem to be hand sewn will surely flash by! I've done a few evenings at my sewing teacher's house since the summer and she's now running a once a month sewing class. It's a small group, we bring any project we want to work on and she moves around helping us with whatever we need. Half the time I think just the confidence of knowing someone is nearby is all that is needed to get me moving, that and the act of going. It's a commitment I don't find so easy to make at home. Knitting or crochet squidges in to the nooks and crannies of every day while sewing requires a space - both mental and physical that seems to be tricky to find in my life. Though really if I just sorted out our spare room properly I could make a sewing area in there and hopefully in my mind too. One day! Until then I shall just have to set up my own class for one in between the monthly classes I think. Maybe I'll go out the front door machine in hand and come back in as if I'm at my class :o)

And to say farewell a couple of shots of of oh so beautiful Panda,
something I always find whenever I upload my photos.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Souvenirs of a UK tour!

We're just coming to the end of a fortnight off work, it's been such bliss, a fortnight feels like a real luxury and definitely helped us really relax. We've been flitting around a lot: we started in Bath, then stayed on a farm just south of Bristol, from there to Dorset though I don't remember much of that as I was stuck in bed with a bug - boo! We went up to near Manchester to visit our friends and their two handsome little boys and from Manchester down to south Wales to see more friends and their scrumptious little girl. Phew! We've been home a couple of days and for such total homebodies as us this has probably been our favourite part. A gentler pace in my brain is definitely my favourite souvenir but as we've shopped in most places we stopped we picked up a wealth of more tangible things too. The car boot was straining to hold it all by the end! I've  made a start on some Christmas gift shopping (minimal Christmas knits this year!) and picked up a few things for myself too. My favourite is the little old school embroidery kit pictured below. Astonishingly I bought no wool though I visited two lovely shops. In the second I got some rather marvellous material for a top. The fabric stash is growing! Knitting has strangely been sparse though I finished a sock and I've been more crafty since I got home. Looking forward to catching up on all the posts in my Google Reader and the makey inspiration that I think is the only ingredient that's been missing.
On the road to Bath
One of the glorious windows of Bath Abbey
Favourite coffee -
Near Walcot Street
A gingerbread cottage in the park
The Ballroom at the Assembly Rooms
Folly Farm

George, in charge of security

At Llansteffan Beach

Monday, October 17, 2011

How about rewind?

By Sunday night it was the rewind button I was after, I savoured my weekend but it still went past too fast. Ah well, happy memories made and it'll soon be Friday again.

On the crafting front there was a great discovery. The Mr is happy to sew in ends on granny squares! He's done most of them while we were sofa loafing. He even seems to quite enjoy it. Hurrah!
That left me free to begin sewing the squares together. I've loved making my squares in large part because of the fun of choosing of colour combinations and deciding who nestles next to who is more of the same kind of play. Sometimes it's easy to pick out the next one and at other times I found I needed to look from a distance or place a different one and come back to the gap in question to feel happy about settling neighbours in. It's growing from the centre out and I love having the squares spread out around to choose from but I'm wondering whether I should have left my final few squares to make based on the colours I wanted for the end spaces available. I have yarn of each colour still left so it might just end up as a larger blanket if the last few won't play nicely together!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Feeling

Somehow we're at the weekend again - where is that pause button? I'm certainly trying to push firmly on it right now. I love love love the feeling when I finish work and have the whole weekend ahead of me. 
Today everything is aligned for the optimum Friday evening experience. It has been the most glorious weather here today. The moon was still showing in the fresh morning sky when I left for work and it has been my absolute, number one, favourite type of weather all day. Clear bright blue sky and sunshine with an apple fresh crispness to the air. More of the same forecast tomorrow I think. It's begging for a scrunch in some leaves.
I've got butternut squash and blue cheesey pasta in mind for supper, no doubt to be scoffed in front of an episode from The West Wing box set. I might even manage a row or two of knitting. Then we have little planned for this weekend, a lovely lunch out on Sunday and just lots of time to do what we fancy. It really stretches ahead of me waiting to be filled with whimsy. 

Sunday, October 09, 2011

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