Thursday, 31 March 2011

Where are they now - 2KCBWDAY4


This was a tricky topic for me to respond to. I am by my own admission a selfish knitter and I’d say 90% of my projects are knit for me. I’ve knit a few baby things for friends and family, socks for my husband and socks for my mum but I know what has become of them, my husband and my mum both wear their knit gifts frequently and the babies, well they will have grown out of what I knit them now so I suppose I don’t know where their knits have gone on to but I don’t really think about it. I have knit two scarves for my mother in law including a very time consuming lace scarf, I’ve never seen her wear that one and I saw her wear the other once. I know they’re snuggled up in the top of her wardrobe. I didn't really want to write about something I knit for myself so I had a little think.

The one thing I did knit and have no idea where it is my Innocent Smoothie hats. I hope someone did buy the smoothies with my hats on them and that they made someone smile because knitting them and lining up all the teeny tiny hats certainly made me smile, as did going through all my sock leftovers and remembering knitting the socks whist I made the hats. I really need to start making some more for this year’s campaign.

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Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Tidy mind, tidy stitches - 2KCBWDAY3

Tidy is not a word that anyone has ever really applied to me. I am pretty scatty to be honest. I lose things, I spill things, I trip over things and am generally pretty shambolic. If I button up my shirt with all the buttons in the right holes first time I’m having a good day.

The silly thing is I love organising things, in theory. I love to come up with great systems of organisation where everything is just so. I drool over storage boxes and files and other organisational tools. I even go along with my big plans of organisation, I write down what I spend, I keep my receipts, everything is in the right place…for about a week, tops.

My stash organisation reflects this. There is a clear desire to be organised there but there’s a big pile of scatty thrown right in with it.

My stash is split into two sections. Jumper quantities, baby gift knitting yarn and odd balls of DK and aran weights live on top of the wardrobe in our spare bedroom. I got these two fabric storage boxes from Ikea, they fold flat which is pretty cool if either is ever empty but neither one has been since I bought them and filled them with yarn.

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Check out the lovely artex on the bedroom ceiling! Inside the boxes are far less pretty than the outside. In some (probably futile) attempt to deter moths I wrap my yarn in plastic bags. It doesn’t look pretty but so far the yarn is both moth free and dust free, the tops of the boxes are open so the yarn does need some protection. The pink bag you can see a bit of in the picture contains lots of straight knitting needles that I hardly use anymore but heaven forbid I’d do something rash like give them away, I might need them.

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My other knitting stash box contains sock yarn and laceweight as well as some rogue balls of other yarns which shouldn’t be in there! This box lives in the top of the wardrobe in my bedroom. Once again we have a delightful textured ceiling there! Also for anyone with a fondness for old school gaming and computing that’s an Amiga under the box, sadly it’s a bit broken but Mr.NM clings to the hope he can fix it some day.


I know I have to show you a little view inside as well

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Mmmm squishy! Again yarns are put into little plastic bags in the hope of protecting them, at least I feel like I’m doing something.

I think you can see there is an attempt at organisation, it’s probably as good as I’ll ever get! One day when we buy our own house I am hoping to find one with space for an Expedit bookcase/shelf unit from Ikea so I can get that and display my stash, Mr NM has OKed this idea as he is far more organised and tidy than I am!

As well as “organising” my stash I need somewhere to keep my WIPs. Whilst they naughtily sneak themselves onto Mr NM’s blu-ray shelf (which is next to where I sit on the sofa) or onto the coffee table or just the floor next to my sofa spot this is where they’re supposed to live. I have a mini linen basket tucked down the side of the sofa which contains my WIPs (currently too many), my interchangeable needle case, a Namaste buddy case for sewing needles and other little bits and pieces and my button tin. There are also other scraps, the odd book and bits of tat in there, I'm terrible. I am still a little embarrassed by the current number of WIPs, I need to turn those into FOs.

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So there you go, my attempt at organisation. Fortunately looking around I see plenty of others are just as scatty as me and have the problem of WIPs and balls of yarn turning up all around the house, I swear it breeds and moves by itself!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011



Skills I've not learned in the past year - how to avoid accidentally deleting my blog post. Oops!

Start again…

I had a good think about this, what new skills have I learned in the last year of knitting. I was amused to note that actually I'm knitting exactly the same sock pattern now as I was at this time last year, Monkey by Cookie A.

That aside I feel I have developed a lot as a knitter over the last twelve months and have taken on some projects I would have shied away from this time last year including two large lace projects, my green shawl and my mother in law's pink scarf. I knew how to knit lace this time last year though, I just didn't do it much so hardly a +1up.

A skill that is new since last year is cabling without a cable needle, I'm pretty certain this time last year I'd have looked at you like you were crazy had you even suggested this to me. I wasn't very good at cables, I hadn't knit many of them and often found little ladders at the sides of them. I liked the look but actually knitting them was another matter entirely and I will admit I hated faffing with the cable needle but really didn't believe there could be another way for me. I then joined a KAL on ravelry for a mystery sock pattern by Cookie A. In the pattern notes she recommended cabling without a cable needle, ha I thought, not for me.

I got my cable needle out and started the project. After one round (yes the cables or rather twisted stitches) started on the FIRST ROUND of this pattern, a round which involved dropping my cable needle, muttering, cursing, pulling out and starting again, I decided to give this cabling without a needle a go. I'm so glad I did.

These were the socks from that first cable needle free experience and I still love them:

I don't think I'd have kept going past the first few rounds had I continued with my cable needle as there were twists on pretty much every round of the pattern. I've since knit more socks with tiny, twisty cables and once again didn't use a cable needle and once again was so glad I made the effort to learn this simple technique as it really is so much quicker.

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I'm not saying I'm putting away my cable needles forever, for wider cables over quite a few stitches I will still use one but it has opened up a whole new stack of sock patterns for me to play with and I do love the look of tiny little twisty stitches.

As for how I want to develop as a knitter, my next +1up well there is a technique that still frightens me even though I know I shouldn't be frightened of knitting, the worst that can happen is I'll have to rip it out. Still I get into a panic when I think of it.


I'm determined though, I even bought wool in Edinburgh with stranded colourwork in mind, good, old fashioned, sticky wool which I was assured is excellent for colourwork (and I saw a lovely example in the shop) so I am going to give it a go this year and add that to my list of knitting techniques.

Monday, 28 March 2011

A tale of two yarns - 2KCBWDAY1


I read a lot of the posts last year but didn't join in with blog week. This year I felt a bit more confident that I would be able to write daily on the topics given so decided to give it a go.

So...two to choose? In preparing for this week I thought a lot about my yarn stash, I panicked a little about it's expansion since summer 2008 when I re-learned how to knit and I thought about the yarns I have used in that time. When I started re-learning I didn’t know all that much about yarn, my mother has always knit as did my grandmother but they never went for the luxury yarns, they couldn’t afford to.

I also didn’t call it yarn, in the UK it’s pretty standard for (uninitiated) people to refer to it all as wool whether or not it’s from a sheep. The LYS nearest to where I grew up is called “The Wool Shop” but very little of what they sell is 100% wool, it’s mostly blends and also rather a lot of 100% acrylic. I must also admit I can’t say yarn without snickering a bit and doing a pirate impression. When looking for yarns to learn with I bought a lot of cheaper, mostly acrylic, yarn and balked at the idea that anyone would spend £5 or more on just one ball of yarn.

Oh how I’ve changed! I still don’t tend to spend more than £5 on a ball of yarn unless we’re taking handdyed sock yarn or lace weight (where you’re getting a fair bit of yarn for your money anyway) but I completely understand why people might spend that and the value of good quality yarn in natural fibres.

That said, I am not a yarn snob. I will knit with acrylic quite happily and believe it has a place in the knitting world, particularly if you don’t want to have to hand wash knits and especially when making baby garments, hand wash only baby yarns I don’t understand! Not being a yarn snob and finding a place for most yarns made choosing a yarn I hadn’t really got on with quite difficult. I didn’t want to go for a novelty yarn, I’ve not really used any (though have some in my stash which was rather an error of judgement when I got over excited by an offer on Readicut) so I had a good think of what has not worked so well for me.

I settled pretty quickly on the yarn used for The Cardigan of Doom. I can’t say it was the wrong yarn for the project, the pattern was designed for this yarn. It was just that the yarn and I just did not get on.

Patons Pompero

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Now this yarn looks lovely knit up, it has subtle variations in the colour and whist it’s fluffy there is some stitch definition. It’s soft and warm and washed well (by hand of course! It’s supposedly machine washable at 30 but I’m terrified of machine washing handknits even when the yarn is supposed to be machine washable, see yesterday’s blog post for why!) so really there seems to be nothing wrong with it. I may have had some issues with running out of yarn and miss-crossed cables but that wasn’t the fault of the yarn so what’s the problem?

The problem came when I did (inevitably where my knitting is concerned!) make mistakes. I said the yarn is fluffy, well it is, it’s very fluffy, fuzzy even. Take a closer look:

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This yarn is like velcro, seriously. It sticks to itself and is an absolute nightmare to rip out. As well as being velcro-like when attempting to frog note how loosely spun it is, it’s so splitty. It’s a shame really, as I said it’s lovely knit up and once the cardigan was finished I was really pleased with the result but there’s no way I’d knit a garment with it again. If I do come up with something to knit from the 95% of a ball I have left I’ll be doing so with blunt needles in an attempt to get round the splitty-ness.

Now for a beautiful yarn of scrummy gorgeousness. I have a lot of these and it was very difficult to choose. I have become a lover of hand dyed sock yarns in all colours and varieties, I am pretty powerless to resist. This made finding a yarn I adore pretty tricky, how can I possibly choose just one? A good rummage through my stash brought up a yarn that has been in residence for nearly two years, it was a birthday gift in 2009, I still haven’t knit it up because it’s just so beautiful, so soft, so perfect and I’m not sure I can do it justice.

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I’m afraid my picture really doesn’t do justice to just how lovely this yarn is. The colourway of this hank of smooshy gorgeousness is “lush” and it really suits as it is such a rich, lush shade of green with subtle variations into blue-ish greens. I adore the colour, I’ve stated many times my love of green and this is my favourite green yarn. It’s a blend of 80% lambswool, 10% angora and 10% cashmere and is so soft I sit and stroke it and wonder if instead of knitting it I can just keep it as some sort of pet.

It is however not without flaws. According to the band it’s only 280 yards of fingering weight and I’m not entirely sure what to do with that (if I did dare knit it) it’s not enough for a shawl, it’s not enough for socks (not that I’d dare knit them wish such a soft, luxury yarn anyway) leaving me thinking some sort of hat or cowl or perhaps mittens? I just don’t know what to make with it, even if I did dare knit with it.

It also appears to be discontinued, there isn’t much available on-line and their website has disappeared so I assume they have too. I don’t dare fall in love any more by knitting because this is it, I wont get more of this yarn. It also looks absolutely certain to split like mad. Still I love it so and one day I shall come up with something beautiful to knit it into and this will be a happy day indeed.

I must ask myself though what is so great about a yarn I don’t dare knit with? Isn’t that the point of yarn? I think I need to make a goal of finding a project for this yarn and actually knitting it up and giving it the love it deserves instead of tucking it away in my stash where it’s beauty really isn’t appreciated.

Wow, it looks like giving me a subject to write about is dangerous, I babble on even more than I do when I’m just blogging generally about knitting with no direction!

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

If there's a knitting deity s\he hates me

The title says it all. I've had a bad weekend knitting wise.

It all started with my decision to clean my Rose Red my lovely, green, Felted Tweed hat. My first lace project, my first project with any degree of difficulty really. Oh how I loved that hat and how it was complimented by so many people. I was very proud of it. Note the past tense there. My decision to clean it involved putting it in the washing machine with some other delicates as it is allegedly machine washable. Well...not in my washing machine it isn't.

This is my Rose Red now.
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With my hand for scale.

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Bah. I should have known from the noise our washing machine makes on it's spin cycle, both for delicates and everything else, that it was throwing the contents around. At least I know if I want to do a project involving felting my washing machine is great at it.

On the plus side I can now knit a hat with my new Scottish yarn without worrying that I have too many hats already...if such a thing ever is a problem.

On to my second kick in the teeth by the knitting deity...

My February Lady Sweater.

You may recall I thought I was running out of yarn. I couldn't understand exactly how I was running out as I knew I'd bought more than the recommended yardage for my size but sure enough I was definitely running out. I knit the sleeves shorter than I'd planned and was pretty sure I'd make it.

I made it to here, about half way through the cast off on the second sleeve.

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That's where I ran out of yarn. Curses. I threw a bit of a hissy fit and being pretty far from a perfectionist made a decision I know would make many knitters toes curl. I unpicked what I'd cast off already and tinked half a round before that then cast off again. One sleeve is half a round shorter than the other but really, you can't tell. I've never been a perfectionist, there are other little mistakes in the cardigan but that's OK. I claim I'm following the same view of the rug weavers who include an intentional mistakes as only God is perfect. That's it.

I was pleased though, my FLS is finally finished. Done.

In spite of the little issue with the sleeve I'm really happy with it. I love the colour, the yarn is great and it fits really well. I also love the way the buttons work with the yarn. It still needs a little wash to neaten up the stitches (by hand of course!) but I'm wearing it at the moment as I'm so happy it's done I don't want to have to wait for it to dry! Please excuse the rubbish modelling with only semi-dry hair, one day I'll buy a tripod and get better pictures of me wearing my mitts.

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Now it looks like all turned out well doesn't it? I suppose it did. I have a lovely new cardigan and the little adjustments I had to make are hardly noticeable. I should be really happy and for the most part I am, honestly, I am.

The thing that makes me not happy, the thing that made me have a new hissy fit, well...

I was sorting out some of my stash and tidying things away and under my balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply I found this:

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I knew I had enough yarn for the pattern, I knew I'd bought enough. There may have been swear words when I found that last ball.

What have I done to deserve this?

I think I may have an answer to that one. I think I am being punished for this:

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That's my pile of WIPs. Note the cuff of the second glove in the pair I'm making for my mum's birthday, her birthday which came and went earlier this month. Oh dear. Also the fish scarf started back in January and four socks, a first of a pair, a second of a pair and a pair knit in tandem.

That's a lot of WIPs, I don't think I've ever had so many on the go at once. I have decided I'm going to get them finished and I will NOT be starting any new projects until I've at least finished the glove, the second Monkey sock and the March mystery socks. I confess I swatched for another cardigan yesterday but I didn't cast on, I'm not going to cast on. No new projects. If I even hint at starting one shout me down.

At least the baking deity likes me.

These went into the oven:

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These came out:

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I can comfort myself in my annoyance with peanut butter and banana muffins, yum yum yum!

I'm looking forward to next week when I shall be blogging daily, oh my. I'm a little nervous and unsure about some of the days but I think I'm ready and I'm excited.

I hope everyone has a great week.

Friday, 25 March 2011

A little trip away in celebration

Monday marked two years since Mr NM and I did this:

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In celebration we went here:

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That's Edinburgh if you weren't sure. It was wonderful, we had glorious sunny weather (after all my colleagues had warned me last week that we'd be freezing and it was snowing up there!) and I even regretted wearing my big, thick, winter coat and wished I'd taken a lighter weight one. Spring was truly in the air just as it was two years ago when we managed a cold but bright with sunshine day.

I don't have a lot of pictures to show, I'm not sure why I didn't take lots considering the beautiful weather and what a gorgeous place Edinburgh is but there you go. I did take this rather odd shot just because I was so baffled, this is the first hotel room I've been in where there was a telephone in the bathroom, I couldn't think why I'd need to make a call from there!

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One of the most exciting things about the trip was that we travelled by train. Whilst Mr.NM has a driving licence he's not done a lot of driving and isn't very confident so mostly if we're going anywhere I drive, the opportunity to just sit back and relax on the train was wonderful. It was made extra wonderful by the gorgeous view. The train up the east coast to Edinburgh is one well worth taking. I had rather wished we'd been able to get off the train at Berwick-upon-Tweed it was so gorgeous.

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There was knitting on the train, I may have started a new project in the fuzzy, orange ball of Kidsilk Haze fluff purchased last October when I was in London.

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Mmm orange fluff. The colourway is Marmalade and it's a deeper, redder orange than this picture shows.

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I had said all along that my trip to Edinburgh was one of the occasions where my yarn diet could be broken. I was still very reserved when I made my little visit to K1 Yarns Knitting Boutique a charming little shop with a lovely and very enthusiastic member of staff. Mr NM initially joined me in the shop but ran away when the lady working there started enthusiastically thrusting angora at us and telling us all about her future knitting plans. Sadly pure angora was not in my knitting budget no matter how soft and fuzzy, I also rather surprised her by telling her they do actually sell Orkney Angora at my LYS in Leeds! The rule was I could only buy something there I can't buy at home.

What I did go for was two 50g balls of DK weight 100% Scottish Wool in Turquoise and Silver as I am determined to have a go at colourwork and make some sort of hat from this.

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I hope everyone else has had a lovely week, I am enjoying my last few days at home before my return to the daily grind. I will mostly be attempting to prepare for some heavy duty blogging next week as part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Not a lot to show

I’ve been meaning to upload knitting photos from last weekend all week and have kept forgetting to do it, I finally managed to get my act together today and put the pictures onto my computer and then onto flickr. Progress at last! Unfortunately I realised I only actually had three pictures (well more than three but that included multiple pictures of the same thing) and nothing much to write about. Oops. Things are a bit hectic at the moment and I’ve felt like I’ve been rushing along with my feet not even touching the ground. Since Monday I have knit one round of a sock, that’s it, just one round of sock.

I did finish the second clue of my mystery sock for both socks, I am still in love with this yarn, the colours are just so pretty.

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As my current case of sock-startitis is still very much present I wound some yarn to knit another pair of socks, this time Hedera by Cookie A. the yarn is Colinette Jitterbug in October Afternoon

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Isn’t that pretty? Such lovely colours and so squishy. I like the yarn a lot, the colours a lot, the way it knits up a lot, the pattern a lot. I should be super happy with this, I should be but well… it does this:

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I’m not sure how clear that is but my fingers are a delightful shade of orangey red there where the dye rubs off onto them. Mr.NM is concerned about what it might do to my feet and keeps saying “you’d better not be putting that yarn on the sofa” if it stains like that. Sigh. I love it so much but I am not happy about the colour running and I’ve heard it then fades like mad when you wash it, how disappointing.

That is all I have to show you. I have finished the first sleeve of my February Lady Sweater but I didn’t take a picture, I am panicking about the possibility I will not have enough yarn to finish the second sleeve. Again. This is becoming an ongoing theme. I’m quite annoyed as I checked and calculated and making it to measurements I had the recommended yardage…well apparently not. I’ll just have to see what happens and hope that I was calculating correctly when I stopped with the first sleeve so I have enough yarn. I have one full ball and a bit of a ball of yarn to work with. Fingers and toes crossed!

I’m off work next week so am hoping for good knitterly progress and lots of pictures to share, I hope anyway. I also need to start planning for the Knitting and Crochet Blog week because if I attempt to do each day spontaneously I'm doomed to fail as it will get mixed up with the hundred and one other things I attempt to do week to week.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Progress and buttony goodness

I'm in a very good mood today as Mr NM and I are both having a day off work, we're not doing anything in particular, just enjoying some relaxing time at home.

I finished the first clue of the mystery socks and am really liking how they're working up and how the pattern looks in this lovely spring fling yarn. I'm waiting for the second clue to be published, it should be some time today and if the first clue is anything to go by this pattern is going to be fabulous.

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For in between clues I've cast on my second Monkey sock in Jitterbug, I rather like the way it pools on the cuff, I love the colours of this yarn. Colinette do such delicious, rich colourways and the yarn is so squishy. It's just a pity that the yardage is on the short side for Jitterbug really as it limits pattern choice for socks.

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Another project has made a comeback, I've not blogged about it for just over a month and I've not been particularly dedicated with knitting it, just picking it up now and then for a repeat of the pattern. Still it has been moving along slowly but surely and I've just about finished the body (as of now I have about 4 rows of garter stitch and the cast off to do, that will be done today) then it's on to the sleeves. I had thought I'd make the sleeves longer on this than in the pattern but as I only have two and a bit balls of yarn left they're going to be 3/4 length as in the pattern. I'm happy with that though, I love the cardigan already and I can see myself wearing a lot.

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I picked up buttons for my cardigan at the weekend from Duttons for Buttons in Harrogate. I took my mum there for her birthday (Harrogate, not specifically the button shop!) I did take my camera with me but it was such a grey and drizzly day I didn't end up taking any pictures to share. I love these buttons though, I knew I wanted wooden buttons and I think they work really well with the yarn which has little brown flecks that don't really show up in the photos. I love the design of the buttons, I think they're quite unusual and they're so smooth and feel great quality.

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I somehow managed to be restrained and only make that purchase, I wanted to buy so many buttons as they have such an amazing selection. Their shops are well worth a visit if you're in Harrogate, York or Ilkley.

I hope everyone has a great week and I hope I'll have a finished cardigan to show you soon.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

A March mystery - WIP Wednesday

I am rather a fan of the concept of a mystery sock pattern. You get a clue a week and at the end of clues you have a finished sock, it’s fun. It’s particularly good because in theory you can complete each clue as it comes out and then have the rest of the week to knit other things before another clue is published. My last two mystery socks I’ve not been so diligent about finishing clues as soon as they’re published but with the March Mock on Sock Knitters Anonymous I am hopeful that I will stick to the knitting schedule.

Knowing this was a lace sock and feeling a need for more lace socks in my collection (intentional holes in socks may seem a bit silly but I think they look so pretty that I overlook the madness) I prepared ahead. At the weekend I went stash diving and came out with what I decided was the perfect yarn.

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To the sensible eye this may not look the perfect yarn for a lace pattern, the colours may obscure the pattern somewhat so why did I think it was perfect? The colourway is called “Spring Fling”. What could be more perfect for spring mystery socks? Such a perfect name for such a delightful colourway. It makes me think of the park I frequented as a little girl which bursts into colour every spring with purple crocuses, for me this yarn is the purple of those crocuses against the green grass, just wonderful. Of course I’ve made it clear in the past I have a great fondness for green but purple comes pretty high up my list as well, particularly combined with green. I had a poke through my stash and I have quite a few yarns which combine these colours and that makes me feel terribly excited.

I love, love, love Laughing Yaffle yarn by the way, the colours are always fabulous and the pair of socks I’ve knit from it (the rest lurks in my stash filled with beautiful, colourful potential) have worn really well. If you haven’t before you should totally click the link and check out her shop.

I weighed my skein before winding so I knew when to stop winding my first ball and start a second. I know it should be 100g but I do like to double check so my two balls are exactly the same weight and therefore length.

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I then set about winding it. Oh how I long for a ball winder and swift to speed this process up, even just a swift would do so I don’t have to rest it over my knees or enlist the help of Mr NM or my mother.

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When I was done I had two balls of yarn ready so I’d be able to knit both socks at the same time and hopefully avoid the dreaded second sock syndrome. I don’t even bother attempting centre pull balls, I’ve tried in the past and ended in a dreadful tangle so go for the traditional ball which is fine for me, I don’t mind it bobbing around when I’m knitting as I don’t have any pets or small children who might decide it’s a play thing.

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This morning I had this, yes, this morning! I took a photo before work and it was almost fully light outside if a little overcast. I will admit I attempted to brighten up the picture with some picture editing software (and have put the contrast up a bit too much, oh dear) but still, it was light in the morning so I am a happy monkey.

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The ribbing is a little wonky but never mind, that will even out when it has had a wash. I’m already loving the pattern and there are some pretty examples in the group of people who have completed the first clue so I’m excited about what this sock could become.

If you read Mimi’s blog (and you should) she has put up details about the second annual knitting and crochet blog week. I read some blogs that were participating last year but didn’t join in myself. I am going to have a go this year and am all ready thinking about things to write and looking forward to it. I hope lots of people join in and have fun with this, particularly with day 5.


Just for your information I may or may not be suffering from a case of not just startitis but a particularly aggressive strain of sock-startitis. I have the overwhelming urge to cast on ALL THE SOCKS with no clear sign of when or if this will pass. Symptoms have included obsessively going through my sock yarn stash, considering buying more dpns to allow for an increased number of SIPs and bookmarking just about every page in Knit.Sock.Love. Protect yourself for I fear it’s highly contagious and an be contracted by looking through beautiful sock projects on Ravelry, sock yarn fumes and indeed ownership of Knit.Sock.Love. Membership of the Sock Knitters Anonymous group on Ravelry doesn't help. You have been warned.