Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Manly socks

One thing I have hoped for in my short time as a knitter is a bit more speed. I knit quite slowly as is standard for most new knitters I imagine but I want to knit quickly. I watch my mum whizzing away at speeds where I hardly see her fingers move and wish I could do the same. Of course my mum has been knitting for over 50 years, I've been knitting for about 20 months now, not counting her attempts to teach me as a child which didn't work very well as I got very bored very quickly!

On Monday morning I cast on a pair of socks for my husband, last night I had this. That's a full cuff of stockinette sock. Unbelievable. I've also knit half the heel flap now and am feeling very accomplished. I must apologise for the picture quality, I took it with my phone camera late in the evening with only the artificial lighting of my living room.

The only knitting time I spent on this was a little on Monday morning and evening, some time on the bus yesterday afternoon then another hour or two of yesterday evening whist I watched the lucky future recipent play Fifa.
It looks like I'm getting faster. I knit socks for him for Christmas and they took a full month of these snippets of knitting time I get, I know it took a week to get to the instep decreases after starting the first sock. I think I could finish a pair in 2 weeks now if pushed, if it was a week off work I think I could even finish a pair in a week, certainly a pair for me and not Mr big feet anyway!!
I would like to be faster still, especially when knitting flat as whist my knit stitches do whizz along pretty well now my purling is still on the slow side. I am happy though, I am getting faster and faster. Hurrah! More socks for me knit more quickly.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Weekend FOs and project planning

I finished two items at the weekend so feel very accomplished even if my husband did accuse me of being "obsessive" as I furiously knit on my Monkey socks insisting that they needed to be finished by Sunday night. I'm glad I did insist though, I'm so happy that they are done and love the colours and the pattern so much. I will definitely be knitting them again, probably using one of my skeins of Colinette Jitterbug I'm thinking that October Afternoon Monkeys could look rather lovely.

These are my Monkeys knit using some gorgeous Laughing Yaffle yarn in the Hummingbird colourway, I love them oh so much. They are a little on the snug size so I think if when I knit them again I'll use a 2.75mm needle instead.

I also finished knitting the cardigan for my cousin's baby. It only took a week, I was very impressed as this means I should be able to knit a few more baby garments before the baby comes in September. It's nice to have such a quick knit available to me, a bit of instant gratification if you like. Good stuff. It's also oh so cute! I can't believe how teeny tiny and love it is. I used Sirdar Snuggly yarn as my cousin already has two small children and really what new mum has the time for handwashing anyway? I have a nice pattern which uses sock yarn as well so may make something from my sock yarn stash which is machine washable but also is wool to keep baby warmer than acrylic. It wouldn't be right on the baby's skin anyway so shouldn't be irritating. I wish more people I know would have babies for me to knit for, it's just so much fun!

I promised Mr Northermonkey that when I finished my socks I'd knit another pair for him. Knitting for my lovely husband is no mean feat, he is of course completely deserving of hand knit socks. He loves the pair I knit him for Christmas and wears them frequently, he buys me yarn and knitting goodies and he encourages my habit (apart from when he tells me I'm getting obsessive about finishing items, he prefers it when he can see knitting as a relaxing hobby for me) so like I say, he deserves hand knits.

The only form of knitted gift Mr Northernmonkey will accept is hand knit socks, he isn't much of a scarf wearer and the only hat he wants to wear is a Liverpool Football Club one, he certainly doesn't want hand knit jumpers so socks it is. The only problem is my darling, beloved and wonderful husband has size 11 feet. That is A LOT of sock. He only wants plain ones which means I feel like I'm knitting forever. This is why he so far has one pair and no more. It will change though, I have cast on and knit about 30 rounds using yarn he picked whilst we were in Berlin. I will have to get some fancier socks on the needles for a break from stockinette and I am still working on a cardigan for myself so I should be just fine and not too bored or anything. There's no rush to finish them so it's not so bad but we'll see how long these take me. I must make sure I don't make the cuff too long, not just for the sake of not getting bored but obviously I need to get two pairs from his ball. I know I can, his first pair were made from 2 balls of Regia with a little left over and this one ball has the same yardage as those two, it's just that I have to judge where the half way point is. It'll be fine!

I am as yet undecided as to which other socks to cast on. Obviously I have a lot of choice and I do have socks in my ravelry queue and patterns printed and shoved in a folder at home but then the mystery sock on SKA is a cabled sock by Cookie A and I'll admit now I'm tempted to have a go at that, particularly as there's the bonus of it coming out a bit at a time instead of all in one go so I can do it a bit at a time. The problem with that sock though is that they are suggesting 350-500 yards of solid or semi solid yarn and I don't have any solid or semi solid sock yarn. Well I have one skein of semi solid green yarn BUT it's not long enough, it's only about 320 yards I believe so I'd really be pushing it. I clearly need new yarn if I want to knit this sock. I do have my Regia Christmas yarn which is solid with little sparkles but that's for Christmas decorations, not for socks. I'm not sure what to do.

I may have to buy more yarn.

I may have completely messed up my yarn diet by signing up to a sock club anyway, also not solids or semi-solids…I can't resist the bright colours!

I may have a problem.

I can totally buy some semi-solid yarn in a beautiful colour though, my mother in law is giving me birthday money and darling husband said it was totally OK to spend it on yarn. Also work are giving me vouchers so I can use those for the new work trousers I need meaning I can use my own money as yarn money.

See, not a problem at all.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Ishbel and baby cardigan

My finished Ishbel, it looks fine until you get to the bottom rows where it all went to pot! I haven't taken close up pictures of them!! I am wearing it with pride though, mistakes and all. It's still the most complicated piece of knitting I've done so I am still pleased with myself for giving it a go. Next time I knit this pattern (there will be at least one next time as my mum has requested her own for Christmas, probably two as I want one too!) I'll be using lifelines after every pattern repeat, counting carefully and possibly using stitch markers between repeats. I did rush this one because I had initially chosen it as an olympic project and my thoughts were a bit along the lines of to hell with mistakes, I need to get this finished. Next time there will be less rush (I'm hunting for the perfect yarn for my mum when I next get paid and will be starting her Christmas gift around June to make sure it's done!!) and I can relax and enjoy the knit. I do think the pattern is fab.

Currently on my needles is a little baby cardigan. My cousin is having her third baby in September and it was unplanned and unexpected so she doesn't really have anything and didn't keep anything from her previous two children. My mum and I are rising up to the occassion, we both have a fair amount of baby yarn in our stashes bought for little gift knits and so we are on cardigan making duty. It's just fine, I cast on my current cardigan on Saturday evening and have already knit the back and two sleeves. I was amazed both by how quickly it went and rather by how tiny it is. I haven't seen a newborn in a while, people in both mine and my husband's family have had quite a few babies in the last few years but the earliest we've seen any of them was at about 6 weeks old and that was a few years ago so I'd sort of forgotten just how teeny tiny newborns are. I'm knitting 0-3 months cardigans and have been cooing a bit over the little tiny sleeves and such. I have a picture of my progress so far:

I intend to knit maybe another 3 cardigans after this one in the first size and will try to knit a couple more in the next size up as well. They're so quick and easy and it's good practice for seaming and knitting button bands and collars and such. Plus they're oh so cute!! She has her 20 week scan on Friday and is currently trying to decide whether or not she wants to find out the sex, she already has a boy and a girl so isn't really bothered what gender this baby is but it might be nice to know for yarn selection purposes though for now I have plenty of yellow, green and white with flecks of brown and blue in so it's just fine either way.

My second Monkey sock is progressing quite well, it is slowed by my new obsession with knitting for the baby and by the knitting of my own cardigan but I am working on it on the bus and whenever I get spare minutes. I have an appointment for a blood test this afternoon so hopefully that will be delayed and I can get plenty of knitting done in the waiting room!! I am 1.5 repeats from knitting the heel flap, I may finish them this week.

It is my birthday in just under 2 weeks and my wonderful husband instructed me to go on and put together an order for whatever I wanted as part of my birthday present. I am very happy with this arrangement though the yarn ban does still stand. I have ordered some more tips for my knitpro options needles so will have almost a full set apart from the very large needle sizes which I haven't bothered with as generally I don't knit on anything over 8mm and I do have some bamboo and plastic needles in large sizes should I need them. I may pick up those sizes to fill my set in future of course. I also ordered some sock blockers, more for displaying socks for photos than from an actual need to block socks and also a few patterns and some little bits and pieces. Exciting! I have been assured there will be other presents but to be honest I am completely happy with my choices anyway.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Oh dear

I feel a bit bad that it has been 2 weeks since I last posted and here I am with a text only post. Not good. The thing is my knitting has been progressing oh so very slowly. There has been an unfortunate and frustrating incident involving the second Monkey sock where I couldn't even get through the first round without messing up and having to start again. There has been sleeves, seemingly never ending sleeves. There has been stroking of yarn and longing to knit something different but being strong.

I finally got past the struggles with the pair to my first Monkey. I am now about to start the third repeat of the pattern on the leg and feeling good about it, I don't imagine it will take too long to finish the sock. I am over half way through the sleeves for the cardigan I am knitting. They do seem to be progressing slowly but I am knitting both sleeves at the same time which does mean that whilst it feels like it's going slowly at least I don't have to do it all over again when I've finished one! This is my first adult sized proper garment so I'm quite excited. I know logically that there are about as many stitches in a pair of socks, especially the socks I knit for my husband's size 11 feet!! Even so it does seem to be taking longer than socks ever do, I'm sure that's my imagination though. I am excited to work on it and look forward to finishing.

I did finish my Ishbel, I can't remember if I already mentioned that? It's not a good story. I still have to block it but I almost don't want to. What I should be doing is frogging the whole thing and starting again and doing it correctly but I can't bear to, not after how long I spent knitting it. I suppose I then have to think that in spite of how long it took to knit will I even wear it knowing how much of a mess I made of the lace pattern? I'm not sure. I probably will block it though, even wear it, use it as a learning experience. Lace should not be knit as an olympic experiment in speedy knitting, particularly not the first lace project other than bits of lace in a hat. I just hope if I do wear it I can hide the mistakes so other knitters don't see it and comment on how rubbish I am at knitting! I'm also not frogging and re-knitting as I didn't care for the yarn, it was splitty no matter how beautiful. I wont be buying any more.

So that's about it. At the weekend I shall try to get pictures of my sleeves in progress and the second Monkey sock in progress and put together a better blog post than this!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The stash

Not all of it but isn't much.

Finished sock and stroking sheep

I finished my first Monkey sock whilst we were in Berlin…well technically I grafted the toe on Sunday at the in-law's flat but It was mostly finished in Germany. I have never wanted my knitting as much as when the plane was delayed and we had 6 and a half hours in Schönefeld Airport. I could have got a good way through the second sock in that time…stupid rules!
Here is Monkey sock number one, the second is currently just stitches cast on to a single needle, I'll start the cuff tonight.

As I mentioned before my darling husband bought me some yarn whilst we were there. Opal self striping yarn. We didn't really go LYS hunting, I had planned to but there was so much to see and I didn't think it was entirely fair to put my husband through yarn shops when there were few shops he was interested in but I wasn't. That and really I couldn't be buying lots of yarn, I have loads already to be getting on with and didn't want to spend too much. We did go in the KaDeWe Idee though, a crafting heaven. The had a lot of Opal and Regia sock yarn which was all a bit cheaper than in the UK. My husband helped me to choose 3 balls, the one on the right is for a pair of socks for him which I will start when I've finished the Monkey socks. He only wants plain knit socks so they'll be mindless bus knitting…A LOT of mindless bus knitting. Mr.Monkey is wonderful and when I can't reach things on high shelves he's brilliant but when it comes to knitting a man who is 6'3" with size 11 feet is not the most fun!! My mum is a much better candidate for knit socks, she only wears a size 3!

On the Friday the weather was beautiful, about 19ÂșC with clear blue skies. We were both very tired from lots of walking and lots of historical sights and my suggestion that we could go to the zoo was welcomed by my husband. Admittedly there was no less walking in the zoo but it was more leisurely. We saw all the big animals (including Knut, the polar bear born at Berlin Zoo) and then walked past the childrens' petting zoo. Mr.Northernmonkey didn't look too excited at the idea and said it was only for children but I insisted, they had sheep and lambs and goats and you could stroke them…how could I miss the opportunity to stroke a sheep? I got him to take a picture. He didn't get much of one when my hand was fully on the sheep, he wouldn't let me bring a sheep home either. It was lovely though, I don't know what I expected really but it was so soft. I suppose I thought that the fleece might be a bit rough but not at all. So lovely.

I understand that today is "Flash your stash day" well I don't have pictures at the moment. I am hoping to take one when I get home from work later tonight. My stash is pretty small really, jumper/cardigan sized quantities of maybe 5 different yarns, enough for about 18 pairs of socks, a couple of skeins for lace weight, some balls of baby yarn and bits and pieces of this and that. It still seems an overwhelming amount of course, even for a small stash that is a lot of knitting to use it up. I will do my best though.
I am in stash busting mode now. I will reduce the stash and hopefully at the same time will reduce my waistline to fit into my favourite jeans which I haven't been able to wear for about 18 months!! It's a yarn and food diet and when I've lost a satisfactory amount of both I can purchase more yarn, not until. Let's see how that goes...