Friday, 29 October 2010

Finished objects and stash enhancement

As it's Friday I feel I'd better start things off with an FO as that's what Fridays are all about right? This was a very quick little project knit at the request of my mother in law. Mr NM's aunt is due to give birth in the next couple of weeks and we've been assured it's a little girl. It better had be now! The mother in law requested two pink hats, one in a newborn size and one in a 3-6 months size. I used a pattern from a magazine for these and I hope they're OK. They're knit in Sirdar Snuggly Baby Crofter which is just wonderfully soft. It's an acrylic/nylon blend but isn't squeaky or nasty, it's soft and wonderful plus it washes really well so is just perfect for baby knits. The original pattern included a little crocheted flower for the top of the hats and believe me I tried to crochet, I did. I just couldn't do it. I am determined to learn though so perhaps the next time someone in the family has a little girl I'll be able to add pretty crocheted flowers to the hats! I just hope Mr NM's aunt likes them.

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Moving on…

On Sunday evening I travelled down to London with Mr NM. He had to attend a training course for work down there and I was able to get some cheap train tickets and join him. Whilst he was busy learning I was busy doing a little yarn tour of London! I may have fallen spectacularly off the yarn diet wagon! To be fair though this was pre-planned and aside from the wool week purchases I had largely been saving my yarn money for this trip.

We'll start with Monday which was a gloriously bright but chilly day. I started my day with a trip to John Lewis. I know I can visit there when I see my in-laws but I had £20 in vouchers so I decided I would visit their yarn section first. I had a rule for my yarn purchases in London which was not to buy anything I can buy at my LYS near home, the only shop where this rule did not apply was John Lewis as I suspected they wouldn't have much there that I couldn't buy at home but as it was a voucher I didn't mind so much. It turned out though that I did manage to pick up yarn in John Lewis that isn't on sale at my LYS or at the John Lewis in Liverpool (where the in laws are) so that was good.

My standard could get it at home yarn purchase was two balls of Rowan Kidsilk Haze in a delicious deep orange shade. I'm not a big wearer of orange but I do like it and I just loved this, I believe the colourway is "Marmalade" and I want to use it to make a Citron.

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My second yarny purchase at John Lewis was one I can't get at my LYS, they had some Araucania yarns and being a lover of socks I went for some of the Ranco. I don't know if the colourway has a name, it's just numbers on the tag but it's beautiful shades of blue, purple, green and a maroony colour. It's just lovely, very similar colours to the Fyberspates Laceweight I have. This may not become socks though, it may become some sort of shawlette but we'll see. I do think it's rather beautiful whatever it may become.

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Whilst in John Lewis some sort of knitting group was meeting and there was a woman wearing the Kaffe Fassett jumper dress from the latest Rowan Magazine, I can't remember the name of the design but it uses many shades of felted tweed and stranded colourwork and it's GORGEOUS. I couldn't dream of having the patience to knit it or more importantly the money for the yarn but this lady had knit one and was wearing it. I tried not to stare but I may have just a bit, I wanted to tell her how beautiful it was and how much I admired it but I got rather shy about it and I'm always unsure of how people will react in London, it's not like Yorkshire so I just admired from afar.

After visiting John Lewis I had a general potter around some museums including looking at the fashion section in the V&A but as it was half term everywhere was rather packed. I got some lunch, one of my favourite things about London that you can't get in Leeds…pick and mix sushi!

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We do have some good Japanese restaurants in Leeds including one serving fantastic sushi that is much better than this stuff but come on…it's pick and mix sushi, what's not to love about it?! I have to have some when I'm in London.

In the afternoon I hit one of the proper yarn shops in London, iKnit. The only yarn shop in the UK with a licence so serve alcohol apparently though I didn't have anything to drink!

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There was a lot of lovely yarn in iKnit but quite a lot of things I can purchase at my LYS and some things I really couldn't think of a project for, I tried to stick to things I had a project in mind for when I was shopping…for once! In the end I only purchased one skein from iKnit but it is very lovely and is my most favourite colour ever, green! Honestly it is green, even though in this picture it looks rather more blue. It's Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in Jade. I was hoping to knit the November MOCK for Sock Knitters Anonymous on Ravelry with this but I'm starting to think that whislt it says "semi-solid" on the lable it's too varigated so I may use something else. I'll find a lovely pattern for this though I'm sure.

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After iKnit I did more wandering as the weather was so pleasant and some touristy looking at the outside of the Houses of Parliament and such. I did have a wander on Regents Street and went in Hamleys (half term so a BAD idea but I do love it in there!) and I spotted this in a shop window I just had to take a photo of!

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I'd argue that lovely yarn for handknits is the best thing to happen to a sheep where this was advertising the woolen tailoring in the (very expensive) shop but seeing adverts for the campaign for wool is always good. Further knitty type advertising was seen in the window of Accessorize where they are selling their knitted accessories and have this rather lovely stripy "Knits" sign. I'm curious as to what they're going to do with these when they change the window displays but I expect that even if they were willing to give them away Mr NM would not be overly enamoured with me having the word KNITS in giant letters in the house, I wouldn't know where to put it!

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Monday was very busy with A LOT of walking and when I woke up on Tuesday my legs ached like crazy! Still I had more to see and another yarn shop to visit that wasn't open on the Monday (I knew it was closed Mondays before going so had planned my shopping around this). My Tuesday started with a trip down memory lane to what used to be my favourite museum in London when I was younger, the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. I even managed to find some interesting knitting related items in there, there was a fair isle jumper in the childrens clothes section but far more interesting was this, I just had to get a photo. I don't know how well you can see but those are teeny tiny handknit mittens made for a baby doll. The details of the doll's origins are here and I was amazed by the detail on the knit items, there was a little vest as well but unfortunately the photo came out even more blurred than the one of the mittens. I just imagnie the time and skill in these because really, they were tiny, the needle used must have been less than 2mm thick as the stitches were smaller than those in my handknit socks. So lovely.

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After the museum I headed to Islington to visit Loop. This is truly a yarn shop of dreams, I could have happily maxed out my credit card but I tried to be reserved!


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To start with I purchased some Skein Queen Blush yarn in Maid Marian, this is a blend of merino and cashmere and is so unbelievably soft and snuggly, I believe this will be a shawlette as it's a bit too delicate for socks and I wouldn’t want to ruin it, also I can never have enough green scarves and shawls anyway!

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I then went a bit alpaca crazy, oh how I love alpaca and it's dreamy smooth softness and warmth. It's just gorgeous. Firstly I got some Old Maiden Aunt in Last Night's Red Dress which is more purple than red but at the same time less purple than the picture shows, oh the nightmare of photographing colour! It's a sort of plum colour I suppose and I spend half my time rubbing it against my face as it feels so wonderful. The alpaca is so soft then it has a wonderful sheen from the silk content. I intend to use this for another Rose Red and will knit a small this time as mine is too large and falls off my head when I run!

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Secondly on the alpaca front I got some laceweight as I am rather falling in love with lace. Whilst there were gorgeous shades of green I told myself I wasn't allowed to get another skein of green yarn! There was also a rather charming coral pink but it's really not my colour at all so I went for this beautiful silvery grey. It's far less blue than the picture shows (though I was tossing up in the shop between a more silvery grey and a blueish grey) and is Alice Lace by Juno Fibre Arts in Shadow Cave (I just had to get some "Alice" lace as that was my grandma's name) which like the Old Maiden Aunt is a blend of Alpaca and Silk and is also dreamily soft. The colour made me think of frosty mornings and this never fails to amuse people but Mr NM's favourite "colour" is grey so I thought he'd like me in a grey shawl. This was my biggest indulgence and the most expensive yarn though I suppose if you calculate pence per metre it was the cheapest yarn…got to love laceweight!

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My final purchase from Loop (and again, I really don't know how I managed to limit myself as they had some gorgeous yarn) was for me to see what all the fuss is about. I bought some Malabrigo worsted in Emerald (I know, I know, more green!) I'm going to use this to knit the Brambles Beret from the latest Knitty which I fell in love with the moment I saw it!

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So there you go, congratulations if you got through all of that! Here is my fall from the wagon all together, it's not so bad really…I can always think of it as 2 pairs of socks, 2 hats and 3 scarves/shawls. Mr NM and I have also agreed I wont get any more yarn for Christmas either! Speaking of Christmas…I'd better get back to my gift knitting, only 57 days to go!

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Friday, 22 October 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year (or will be soon enough!)

This is both an FO post and a gentle reminder though I doubt knitters will really need reminding.

Christmas is coming and I don't know about the goose but my WIP bag is getting fat and doing so at a much faster rate than my FO pile. I really need to focus, I'm not going overboard on knitted gifts so actually progressing with the ones I'm making would be a good plan!

A speedly little project knit on Saturday morning in no time at all using Regia's Christmas sock yarn, I have red, cream and green but only used the red and cream here which have little flecks of gold thread running through them for that extra festive feel. The pattern is from Little Cotton Rabbits and is my favourite sort of pattern, a free one! It's knit flat then seamed and had clear pictures with the instructions. This is my first bit of colourwork knitting (not counting stripes and a little bit in a smoothie hat which wasn't really a pattern) and it wasn't too tricky. I am quite slow as my brain refuses to figure out holding yarn in left and right hands meaning I threw both colours with my right hand. I intend to practice though until I can carry a colour in each hand as this monkey wants some colourwork mittens!

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I intend to knit a couple more of these little stockings, they're so easy and look so effective. Nothing better than an easy and well written free pattern, especially one that will bring some Christmas cheer!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Progress progress progress

It’s that time of week again, it seems to come round so quickly. I do love Wednesdays, not just because it’s WIP day and I get to see lovely things other knitters are working on and post about what I’m working on. I’ve always loved Wednesdays (apart from the year I had double maths on Wednesday in High School, that was rubbish!) I love Wednesdays because Wednesday is choir rehearsal day. I’m not much of a singer and definitely better off in the chorus than as a soloist but I love going. Singing is so much fun and I’ve been a member of my choir for 18 years now (though it has changed from an 8 years and up girls and ladies joint choir to an adults only female choir in that time) and I’ve known those ladies all that time. Initially I went as an 8 year old but the ladies still in the choir are mostly the same ones who were there when I was a child. It’s just wonderful and I love it, it’s like a little second family!

Back to the knitting though…

My pink vanilla socks are progressing, not quickly but they’re progressing. I finished the first on holiday and am now getting on with the second. It’s not the most interesting knit, I’d always intended to knit them in tandem but when it came round to it I got so into knitting the first one I finished it in no time and hadn’t even started the second! The second is being done now, I’m sure it wont take long.

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Due to my ongoing issues with startitis when I saw what people had knit from the first clue of this year’s Through The Loops mystery sock I just couldn’t help myself and found myself joining in, how could I resist this interesting and ever changing pattern? Well I couldn’t! The yarn was part of the Ripples Crafts sock club earlier this year, some time in spring. The colourway is "Spring Myrtle" but I think it's far more autumnal than spring-ish. It’s a more rusty red than the picture really slows and is just lovely to knit with. I’m enjoying this pattern a lot because it doesn’t get boring and same-y. It’s really good fun.

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Some WIPs have not been so good. Remember the cardigan I’ve had on the needles for months on end? The one I was so determined to progress with? Well I quickly finished the back and was feeling very pleased with myself for this.

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At the weekend I cast on the left front, I could really see the end of this cardigan drawing nearer and was thoroughly enjoying knitting it. I worked the left front right through the first set of decreases and was feeling very pleased with myself, very pleased indeed. I’d written down which rows all the decreases came on, followed them closely and was racing along through that left front, feeling good…and then…and then…

Then I saw this. Do you see it? You see there, I’ve finished the first lot of decreases but can you see it?

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Look closer, see it now?

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ARGHHHHHHHHHHH pride comes before a fall and I was feeling really proud of myself when I realised I was already about a quarter of the way up that left front. I just glanced, then had another look when something in my brain said “um that’s not right” nope. It wasn’t right. It was WRONG. It was a miss crossed cable a few rows down. A miss crossed cable a few rows down in possibly one of the most annoying and un-froggable yarns ever. This stuff is like Velcro, it sticks to itself so much. It’s so difficult to even tink a few stitches never mind the rows I’ll have to go back to fix this. I did not fix it at the weekend, oh no. This left front was banished to the naughty corner to think about what it had done, how it had disappointed me, how me and the cardigan just were not friends at the moment.

I wonder if it’s punishment from the knitting gods for not working on my mother in law’s Christmas scarf. I promptly picked that up and almost immediately made a mistake in that too. Clearly my brain had turned to cotton wool.

Not happy.

I will fix that cable at some point but right now the pain is just too raw.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Wool week

In celebration of wool week I made a little trip to my local yarn store

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Baa Ram Ewe is a fantastic yarn shop, it recently won an award from Let's Knit magazine for Best Local Yarn Store and I'd say it's well deserved. They have a good stock of all sorts of yarn, they sell a lot of British brands and locally produced yarn (well we are in Yorkshire, it's not so difficult to sell yarn from local companies even if a lot of them don't actually spin the yarn here anymore!) They also sell Noro, Zauberball, Fyberspates and Natural Dye Studio yarn as well as many other things. They have a knit night every Thursday, (which I can't make it to because I do something else on a Thursday!) put on competitions, have designers visit (including Ysolda, Wooly Wormhead, Amy Butler and soon Susan Crawford), run workshops and are generally fabulous, friendly and super helpful. I love it there and feel so lucky that I've got such a great yarn shop local to me.

I made some lovely wooly purchases there today

First up some Natural Dye Studio Dazzle Sock in the colourway Sweetpea, this is gorgeously soft Blue Faced Leicester wool...yummy!

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Also a more subtle but also soft and lovely ball of Wendsleydale Longwool DK weight in the colourway Fennel. This is destined to scratch the "gotta knit a hat" itch I've been feeling lately. This lovely stuff is bred, spun and dyed in Yorkshire just like me! It feels fantastic to support local companies and local crafts.

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Finally not purchased at my LYS but direct from the seller on Folksy (though she does sometimes have yarn for sale at my LYS). It's 100% Merino laceweight and it might not be local yarn but it's locally dyed by Kirsty of Wharfdale Woolworks, her Folksy shop is here and is well worth checking out for the beautiful colours and gorgeously soft yarns handdyed in Yorkshire. The colourway is Aquatic and it's all shades of beautiful aqua blue, lovely.

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So there you go, that's how I supported Wool Week! I hope you supported wool week in yarny ways too and hope that non-knitters may have celebrated by buying some woollen garments and keeping the British wool trade alive.

Friday, 15 October 2010

and little hats all in a row...

This feels like cheating as an FO post but it is an FO so I’ll go right ahead and post it. I do hope in the next few weeks to have some better FOs to share as I have quite a few WIPs at the moment.
This year I knit some hat for the Innocent Smoothies Big Knit campaign. These were knit and sent off before I went on holiday and I snapped come pictures to share the mini hat goodness. I used sock yarn leftovers to knit these, they’re mostly Regia but there is also some Opal and some King Cole Zig Zag in there as well as some very bright, very squeaky, very cheap pink and green acrylic! I was a little sad to let the scraps of sock yarn go but I have no real intention of knitting a sock yarn blanket so what else was I going to do with it? Now it’s going to help make money for charity and that’s always a good thing in my book.

I think my pompom making skills need practice but I’m a bit lazy and had so many to do so didn’t put a great deal of time into them. Not every hat got a pompom but I don't think it matters too much. I think I’d better make a start now on knitting for next year’s big knit!

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Finally the hats all lined up and ready to go.

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I hope to do a post over the weekend showing how I chose to celebrate wool week, trust me you want to see it! Mmmm my yarn diet may have gone out of the window for a moment there!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Just another manic monday

Actually I wouldn’t say my Mondays are especially manic but after a lazy, yarny weekend they aren’t particularly welcome. I may have rather neglected the housework in favour of watching TV, watching Mr NM play Uncharted 2 and knitting away. I have now finished the back of my cardigan and I pay have started a new sock project, possibly, maybe.

This post is not about the back of my cardigan though, nor is it about my new sock-love. No. This post is about my most recent swapping on the Phoenix Knitting Forums. A little while ago I signed up for the “September Surprise Swap” on the forum. The idea was that you were given the name of a person to send a parcel to but you couldn’t contact them or ask about them, it had to be a surprise which meant a bit of “stalking” to find out what that person liked and making the parcel accordingly.

I checked out my swap partner’s blog and her Ravelry page and found her to be a fan of “girly” colours including pink and lilac and so I set about knitting her a cosy, cabled, pink neckwarmer.

Shadow Blue (well pink!) in King Cole Merino Blend Aran in Rose

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I even hunted down some very pretty pink buttons

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It was a very enjoyable knit and didn’t take too long. I think it would make a good quick gift knit and it didn’t use too much yarn (about 2 balls/160m) and the cables weren’t complicated but added interest to the knitting and look effective.

As well as the neckwarmer I included some other bits and pieces I hoped she’d like after my “research” and was pleased to hear that she was very happy with her parcel.

In turn I received a lovely parcel (I still haven’t worked out who from as I’m useless at riddles and they haven’t made themselves known on the forum yet!) but I can show you what I got.

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A lovely autumnal scarf, an also autumnal mug to drink my masses of tea from, some honey soap, tissues, butterscotch flavour Green & Blacks (I’ve been wanting to sample this since I first saw it, now I can!), post-it notes, a little magnetic clip/bookmark and some sock yarn to fuel my sock addiction! Absolutely gorgeous, I’m really pleased with my parcel.

Well, I hope everyone has a marvelous week and I hope to be back on Wednesday to show off my cardigan back and my sock-in-progress.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

It's just another WIP Wednesday

Wednesday rather took me by surprise this week. I didn't go to work on Monday and that always throws me and leaves me not being sure what day it is! Fortunately I did have time on Monday to take photos of a work in progress and uploaded them so I have a post for you.

This is one of those WIPs that feels never ending. Recently I put it into hibernation on my Ravelry page as I felt it was tormenting me in my WIPs, never getting any further, just sitting there asking why I abandoned it. Just before I went away I picked it up again.

About this time last year I got a copy of Simply Knitting and fell in love with the cardigan on the front cover. The pattern is called "Gentle Rose" and has 3/4 length sleeves which are gathered at the bottom, the cuffs and bottom of the cardigan is a band of moss stitch then the body/sleeves are stockinette which then changes to 1x1 ribbing, on the sleeves this is a slow transition leaving a pointed section where extra stitches are added to the rib pattern every row. The final charm is a cable in place of a button band going right up the front and round the back of the neck leaving the front open to be fastened with a pretty pin or just worn open. It's knit using Patons Pompero yarn and whilst the sample in the magazine was pink I rather fell for a greyish brown (the colourway is called "Taupe") shade of the yarn.

I priced up the cardigan but decided against purchasing the yarn as I had many other things to knit then to my absolute joy Pompero was on offer at Kemps for a very good price indeed. I snapped it up and immediately cast on the sleeves, both at the same time on a circular needle so I could make them identical and get them out of the way. This may have been where my plan failed. I knit on those sleeves for what felt like forever, the yarn annoyed me, the pattern annoyed me and then other, more exciting, prettier, QUICKER projects came into my life. The unfinished sleeves were shoved in a bag and forgotten.

Just before my holiday the sleeves were pulled out of my knitting basket again, I observed I really didn't have much to do to get them finished and decided to just get on with it. I now have a pair of sleeves and have cast on and knit the moss stitch section of the back.

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Here's to me actually FINISHING this flipping cardigan! It shouldn't be difficult, it's knit on 5.5mm/6mm needles so should fly compared to my usual sock knitting and recent lace experiments. The only bother is the yarn isn't great to knit with, it looks lovely and feels soft when it's knit up but the actual knitting process can be frustrating, it's very fluffy and sticks together so even a tiny mistake is an absolute 'mare to undo…still I shall persevere and get my first, proper, ADULT garment finished (ignoring the fact there are far more stitches in pairs of socks and my lace shawl) so I can actually wear it with pride this winter.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The traveller returns

My holiday in Rhodes was just marvellous. I hadn't been to any part of Greece since my holiday to Corfu when I was 12 and it was just so fantastic, Mr NM has never been to Greece at all so it was very exciting for him. That week has us pretty set on more visits to other Greek islands and possibly the mainland as well as the people were wonderful, the food was fantastic and the weather was just gorgeous.

There was some of this

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It was accompanied by quite a bit of this though

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This meant I didn't quite get so much knitting done as I'd hoped. I finished the first of my pink vanilla socks and cast on a second but have only done a little of the ribbing. I rather overpacked on the knitting front (as usual!) and in my stupidity also left the pattern for my MiL's scarf at home so I couldn't knit it! Never mind though. My holiday was fabulous and now I'm home and really feeling the cold air and the urge to while away my hours over a pair of knitting needles.