Friday, 31 December 2010

Another year over...

Whilst I re-learned how to knit in 2008 and knit my first pair of socks in 2009 it wasn’t really until 2010 that I was utterly bitten by the bug. This is the first year when I’ve had a good number of finished objects and can really look back and think wow I did quite a bit of knitting. Not much by the standards of some but rather a lot by my own!

I calculated today that in 2010 I knit approximately 8907 metres of yarn, that’s 8.9km or 5.5 miles of knitting. That sounds like an awful lotv I don’t even want to calculate how many miles of yarn are in my stash, I dread to think.

In my first blog post I wrote:

Part of this blog will be updating progress on my knitting 12 pairs of socks (for myself at least, I've also promised my mum some for her birthday which wont count to my total) and it will also be keeping track of my knitting generally. My other knitting goal for 2010 is to knit my first adult sized garment, a cardigan for myself. I have cardigan/jumper sized quantities of two different yarns in my stash and I want to at least knit one cardigan.

It is also a goal to keep up with my blog, I do have a habit of getting excited about things and being really in to them for a couple of weeks then just giving up, I will not allow my blog to be one of those things.

Well I didn’t quite manage on either of the knitting goals but this is my 83rd blog post in 12 months which isn’t bad going. I can't believe that I even have people "following" my blog and I really appreciate every comment I get, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside that people read and might even be interested in my knitting!

In 2010 I knit (and finished)

10 pairs of socks (including 1 pair for my husband, 1 pair for my mum and 1 pair for my friend’s daughter so really failing on my 12 pairs for myself target!)
2 baby cardigans
2 baby hats
2 Ishbels
1 lace shawl
1 lace scarf
1 shawlette
1 neckwarmer
2 hats
1 pair of mittens
1 washcloth
1 phone sock
1 ipod sock
1 egg cosy
Smoothie hats
2 mini Christmas stockings

That’s 30 FOs (counting the smoothie hats as one), not bad going considering my Ravelry Projects page only shows 8 projects for 2008/9.

I do have three projects still on the needles which include a pair of socks knit up to the gusset decreases (knitting both at the same time), 1 sock ready to start the heel flap and 2 sleeves, a back and a front of a cardigan. Yes that’s THE cardigan also known around these parts as “cardigan of doom”.

This was supposed to be the first adult sized garment part of my 2010 knitting goals and I started it on 25th January 2010 but other projects kept coming along and demanding my attention…then the cable error happened and I tossed it in the naughty corner and didn’t look at it again until yesterday.

Yesterday morning I had this:

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Note terrible cable error that left me so frustrated and the needle through that row ready to pull back. We currently have my mum staying with us (due to an unfortunate burst pipe situation at her house, oh dear!) and I showed her the cardigan in my sulk…well she only went and ripped it back, put the stitches onto the needle at the row before the cable error and threw it at me and told me to get on with it!! I now have a back, 2 sleeves and a left front and intend to finish the right front BEFORE 25th January 2011.

The projects I have been most pleased with in 2010 have probably been the lace scarf for my MiL (even if she wasn’t as pleased as me!), my mum’s Ishbel (which she was VERY pleased with to my delight! If you were wondering the yarn is YarnAddict’s Organic Merino sock yarn and it’s lovely stuff, check out her shop, I used her yarn for my MiL’s scarf as well and it is fabulous) and probably my lime green cabled socks.

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What have your favourite projects of 2010 been?

My most knit with colours have been various shades of green (well it is my favourite), blue and pink (that was mostly gift knitting) and I have without a doubt purchased more yarn than I have knit, very naughty!

So here’s to the end of another year, I can’t say 2010 has been one of my favourites generally but knitting wise it has been very good. I wish everyone a healthy, safe and very happy 2011 and I’ll see you next year with some new knitting goals to work on!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

The most wonderful time of the year.

As much as I enjoy visiting our in-laws and had a wonderful Christmas I am incredibly happy to be back in my own home.

I showed a picture of my in-laws' Christmas tree in my last post, well whilst it was clearly large I'm not sure you can quite work out just how big it is in that photo. I got a picture of Mr NM standing next to it for scale, for reference he's 6'3" so not particularly short!

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I was rather spoilt at Christmas but am just going to share a few knitterly things I received.

Mr NM did go on my Amazon Wishlist and picked out this book:

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Whilst I don't see myself knitting the socks on the cover (oh how I wish I had such pretty toes, mine are best kept under wraps!) I am rather taken with the lovely thick Konnichiwa socks knit on 4mm dpns and they may be my first project from this book.

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My Uncle and his wife very generously bought me some Amazon vouchers which led to the purchase of two books from my wishlist which I'd been lusting after since first seeing them.

The first page of Sock Yarn one-skein wonders spoke to me!

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I also picked up Luxury Yarn one-skein wonders.

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These books fit perfectly with my sock yarn habit and my additional habit of buying the odd skein of beautiful yarn and not having a clue what to make with it! I also see some perfect gift ideas in both of these books.

I did get some new DPNs and a 40cm 4.5mm circular needle but I don't have pictures, I'm sure you can fill in the blanks for what they look like!

The EZ mittens were finished:

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My mother in law got herself onto the "naughty list" not to be confused with Father Christmas's list my personal "naughty list" could also be described as the not knitworthy list. Whilst she said it was pretty and that it must have taken a while it was then tossed aside and when we went out shopping she wore a shop bought scarf instead. I'm not knitting for her again!

I am hoping that things are better with my mum. I know they will be, my mum is a knitter, she gets it. She also specifically requested an Ishbel so knows exactly what she's getting. Yes, getting, I finished it!

On Monday afternoon this was my mum's Ishbel:

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Yesterday afternoon it looked like this:

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This morning it was dry and ready to be wrapped up, we're having a second Christmas dinner with my mum tonight and she'll get her gift then. I'll also get my knitted gift which I'm terribly excited about, I don't know what I will get as I didn't request anything specific but I know she has knit something. I'll let you know.

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A little blogging thought...if I will take photos on my spare bed I really should iron the sheets.

Also I may have got money and I might have been to the John Lewis Sale...possibly

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Friday, 24 December 2010

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care

I did my best to get some good photos of the finished lace scarf but the short, dark days have not made this easy. In the end the scarf came to work with me and I did my best to take photographs in my lunch hour!

Here it is, blocked and ready. I'm very happy with it and just hope my mother in law is as well. I hope I can let it go, accept it will be hers to do with as she wishes and if she wishes to put it in the back of a wardrobe like last year's scarf so be it.

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It opened up beautifully with blocking and is now about 68” long, perfect for my mother in law who is about 5'9” I believe scarves should be about as long as you are tall.

I'm now all ready for Christmas and settled in at the in-laws, I was optimistic with packing my knitting:

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That very stuffing project bag contains my mum's (still unfinished, oops!) Ishbel, the EZ mitten and if those don't keep me entertained a cabled sock project.

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Gifts are piled high under my in-laws' ridiculously large tree and I am very much looking forward to tomorrow and the days we are staying here.

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I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas if you celebrate it, or an enjoyable 25th December and a great weekend if you don't.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Baby it's cold outside - WIP Wednesday

Only three sleeps until Christmas!

I fear my stocking may contain coal as I’ve been a naughty girl and done something I really, really, really shouldn’t have done. I cast on a new project!

It has been FREEZING round these parts of late with such ridiculous temperatures as -12ºC when we’ve left the house to go to work. It’s just not right. A very kind person at the Phoenix Knitting Forums included two balls of rather delicious Rowan Tapestry in a swap gift and it felt oh so soft and oh so warm and the colourway was oh so lovely I just couldn’t resist. I cast on a pair of mittens. Totally reasonable I’d say as I also managed to lose the pair to this poor little fingerless glove, the first proper piece of knitting from a pattern ever did:


And and and my mum came over for dinner last night and I couldn’t have her seeing me knitting her Christmas present now could I? That just wouldn’t do. I needed a new project and the sock WIPs I have don’t count as they’re far too complicated for sitting and chatting knitting. Oh yes. New mittens was totally reasonable.

Especially as they’re turning out so pretty, please excuse camera phone pictures as I didn’t bring my proper camera into work and it was far too dark to take photos before leaving the house this morning.

I thought I’d get them looking festive!


A closer look at the stitches…a bit wonky in the middle but nothing blocking wont fix.


A quick shot of the yarn. It changes from a dark, charcoal grey through to an incredibly light, almost white grey and back. It’s soft and fuzzy and I’ll admit a touch on the splitty side but knit up it’s so gorgeous I totally forgive the splitting.


It’s far less blue than it looks in this photo (and the darker bits are darker than they look in the other photos) but here you can see how the increases and decreases work in the pattern and if I say so myself are accentuated by the self-striping yarn.


The pattern is Mitered Mittens by Elizabeth Zimmerman from the Knitter’s Almanac (though I’m going to use the gusset thumb mod I found on-line) in Rowan Tapestry (colourway currently un-known as I don’t have the ball band with me), 48 stitches on 3.75mm needles magic loop. Link to my project page here.

I hope I get bonus knitter points for knitting my first ever Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern (can you call such a short paragraph a pattern?!). I’ve had Knitters Almanac and Knitting Without Tears for a while but have never actually knit anything from either, I just enjoy the read. I thought it was high time I knit something and in these cold times mittens seemed entirely appropriate.

I’m just about ready for Christmas apart from a few small bits to buy (and a missing Amazon package) and we travel to the in-laws on Friday evening weather permitting. The Christmas Monkey I got free with my tea-bags is all ready too and looking very festive with his Christmas jumper!


I hope to be back on Friday with some pictures of the finished scarf for my mother in law.

I have accepted that my mum’s Ishbel will be accompanying me to the in-laws and finished over Christmas which is fine as I’m probably going to see my mum and do gift swapping on 30th December.

Monday, 20 December 2010

He's making a list and checking it twice...

Only five sleeps to Christmas and I'm feeling pretty much ready. I am awaiting a few deliveries but Royal Mail were struggling to catch up after the heavy snow only for another lot to fall at the end of last week. It wasn't too bad in Leeds but I imagine plenty of what I ordered is not coming from Leeds so I will have to be patient and if things don't arrive it's OK, they'll turn up eventually and Christmas will just go on for longer!

One thing that will definitely be wrapped and under the tree is my mother in law's scarf! I finally finished the knitting on Saturday evening, grafted the top edge onto the rest of the scarf and on Sunday gave it a bath and pinned it out on the spare bed.

I am really happy with the scarf, I just hope my mother in law is as she asked for a red one…oops! The yarn did look red in the photo on the website I ordered it from but that must have been my computer. Still, she does wear pink and I'd argue it suits her better than red so I am hopeful that she will like this anyway. I did knit her a red scarf last year that she never wears so maybe she doesn't like red scarves as much as she claims! No I'm not entirely sure why she asked me to knit her another scarf when she never wears last year's.

Having a bath

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Pinned out, I folded it in half so that the points at either end would be blocked evenly though I do need to work on my blocking skills generally, I'm pretty rubbish at it!

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A quick close up!

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It was just about dry when I touched it this morning so should be ready by tonight. I am hoping to manage to get it out for a daylight photo before I wrap it up ready for opening on Christmas day.

My mother's Ishbel is not done, I've almost finished the first repeat of chart A which translates to I haven't done very much! Oops. Things have been rather hectic of late though and my knitting has lost out to every other thing I have to do. This is not something I am happy with but alas I have to lead an adult life and sometimes things are just more important than knitting. Fortunately I do still have time as we're spending Christmas with the in-laws and I wont see my mum until the 29th or 30th December (as yet undecided on an exact date!) so I can knit on her Ishbel whilst I'm at the in-laws if I don't finish it before Friday. I doubt I'll finish before Friday!
I have a confession also. On Saturday me and my mum battled through the snow (all 2cm of it!) and went to Ilkley for last minute Christmas shopping. I should have taken my camera as the moor all covered in an icing sugar dusting of snow was beautiful but alas my current brain state (and the fact I'd been at the work Christmas party the night before!) meant I forgot. The confession part is that whilst I did buy for others in Ilkley I snuck in something for myself! Very naughty just before Christmas but there we go. I called in at Create, a rather charming yarn and craft shop and café hidden away in a little arcade. I did make sure I bought yarn I can't buy anywhere else (apart from on their website) and treated myself to a skein of hand dyed Ba T'at sock yarn.

The colourway is "Pheasant" and I do think it's rather lovely and unlike anything else in my stash. I just love the autumnal reds and greens thrown in with the shades of brown…just like a real pheasant. The best bit was when I bought it the very nice lady asked if I'd like to have it wound. As I usually have to enlist the help of my mother or use my feet when winding yarn I accepted their generous offer and watched rather transfixed as they put the skein onto the swift and wound with the ball winder. I really want a swift and ball winder!
Look at the lovely little cake it made

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I must admit that having it all wound and ready like that makes me want to knit from it straight away ahead of the masses in my stash. I might just do that, there's no harm in taking it along at Christmas incase a lovely sock knitting book with irresistable patterns may happen to find a way into my stocking.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Oh Christmas tree(s)

Things got very festive at Monkey Towers this weekend. I must admit that it doesn’t take a lot to get me feeling festive anyway but this year I have tried to be sensible and I held out until 11th December before the big tree went up. I am rather greedy on the tree front and we actually have two, the smaller one went up on 1st December as that was the day it snowed very heavily and we walked 6 miles home from work, after that I needed some Christmas cheer!

Here is our dinky tree, it’s only 3ft tall and goes on a side table in our living room. Unlike my big tree it is rather subtle and all dark red and gold matching! It does have multi coloured lights though, I much prefer multi coloured lights to white ones and these ones make my heart sing with joy they are so pretty. I can make them twinkle but usually we just have them set to stay on constantly as the twinkling can be a bit distracting and Mr NM calls it the Christmas disco!

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As you can see Father Christmas has already made a little visit to our house but he'll have to come again as there should be more presents than that! Also I need to re-arrange my beads.

On Saturday all of our snow and ice had gone so I was finally able to get the car out, I went to Tong Garden Centre which is a rather exciting place to go at Christmas as it turns into a winter wonderland. They sell so many different varieties of artificial tree and every type of light and decoration you can imagine and they are all out on display. They also sell real trees which is what I went for, not for me (Mr NM wont let me have one as he says I’d never clear up all the dropped needles!) but for my mum. She had been away on holiday for two weeks and I was picking her up from the airport in the early hours of Sunday morning. I thought it would be rather pleasant for her to come home to a decorated tree as she likes to have one but hates putting it up. I got her a small real tree in a pot and got it all ready for when she got home. Fortunately she was absolutely delighted with it.

I didn’t escape the garden centre without a little something for myself as well! Whilst our big tree does have standard baubles my preference is very much for wooden and fabric decorations, I buy at least one every year and try to get them when I go on day trips to places I wouldn’t usually shop. This is a tradition I’ve picked up from my mum and one I intend to keep going until I have enough unusual decorations to not need any of the baubles. When I saw this I couldn’t resist, a little buttony star! Perfect.

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The Christmas tree was a purchase made when we moved from a two bedroom flat into a house. We used to have a 6ft tree bought from B&Q which was very much from their budget range and when it was our first Christmas in the house 2 years ago I tried the old tree in the corner of our dining room and it looked rather lost to be honest. I saw that there was a special half price offer on all trees at Homebase and headed off to see what I could find. I went for a rather more luxury 7ft tree which has possibly gone the other direction and is a tad too big but I LOVE it. I feel all warm and fuzzy when I dig it out of the shed (fighting off the spiders as I go) and put it up. I love, love, love it! Putting it up usually ends in scratches all over my hands as a battle with each individual branch which must be put on separately but when it’s up it’s wonderful. I love it!

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I got new lights this year too and they are just perfect, wonderful, magical! They are also “Christmas disco” lights but again we generally just have them on the steady on setting. You can also see our little Santa lights strung around the curtain pole.

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I have been knitting away on my Mother in Law’s scarf and I finished the 31 repeats as written in the pattern with just a smidge of yarn left over from the 440m skein, enough to graft the scarf together with the edging but I don’t think it’s quite enough to do the increase row before the grafting.

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Fortunately I bought a second skein of yarn and the thing is it’s not that long as it is and my MiL is a tall lady. I’m going to add a few more repeats before the increases, grafting and blocking and will still have enough extra yarn to knit a pair of socks for myself. Perfect!

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I can finally see the light at the end of this pink, lacy tunnel. I have, at long last, memorised this pattern and can get through the repeats quite quickly so will be done with the knitting by the end of the week and can block it over the weekend. Once that’s done I can finish the lace edging on my mum’s Ishbel which can be done up until 23rd December and blocked whilst we’re away for Christmas as we’re at the in-laws for the actual day and having a second Christmas with my mum when we get back. I’m so relieved to see I really will finish my Christmas knits on time!

I like to think that I may not bother with Christmas gift knitting next year but I imagine when it comes to it I will have changed my mind and will do it all over again.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Goodbye snow, hello FOs

Yesterday morning this was hanging from our utility area window and had been for some days, yesterday afternoon when I returned from work it was gone. This morning the temperature was 6ºC and the snow and ice was finally melting away. I still skated down our garden path but I could finally see my car again and see an end to the snow.

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In between knitting my Christmas gifts I have been involved in some swaps on the Pheonix Knitting Forums. I know that my swapee has received this little stocking, these only take a couple of hours to knit and make up (I’m rubbish at colourwork, you may be faster!) and are so lovely. I may or may not have misplaced the one I knit for myself but I’m sure I’ll be able to whip up another for my own tree.


The other swap was a bigger Secret Santa swap, I know my swapee has received it so I'm OK to post about the FO here.

198 yards of heaven in King Cole Merino Blend Aran I used two full balls and had to break into a third on the second to last row. It was a quick knit and not too tricky so good for gifts. I have used this yarn before and will buy it again, the yardage isn’t great but it’s soft and knits up nicely, it washes well and it’s not too expensive as well as coming in a good range of solid colours. The top picture is most accurate for the colour which I believe is called Kingfisher from looking at the colourways on Modern Knitting but I think the ball band just had a number not a name.

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I’m definitely getting into the festive spirit and am starting to feel excited about Christmas.