Thursday, 23 June 2011

Remembering the important things

When things are getting on top of me I write a to-do list.

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I try to remember the most important things:

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Sadly I do not have a mug reminding me to take and then upload knitting progress pictures.


Friday, 17 June 2011

Try something new today

UK readers must know I am not working for a particular supermarket, other supermarkets and other advertising slogans are available!

One of my ongoing goals with knitting is to be a more fearless knitter. I will admit I can be rather timid where my needles and yarn are concerned. I see a pattern and it will have a technique in it which will cause me to panic and back away, no matter how beautiful the pattern. Well NO MORE. I am working hard on learning new techniques, grabbing the bull by the horns or at least the project by the needles and getting stuck in.

I imagine some people will laugh at the latest knitting fear I have decided to overcome. I know it’s a great favourite of many knitters but it has something that has had me backing away from so many beautiful patterns. Toe up socks.

Yep. Three years of knitting (not counting childhood fumbles with thick needles and squeaky acrylic) and 18 pairs of socks (plus two pairs OTK) and not one of the socks I have knit has been toe up. My sock knitting has been exclusively of the top down, heel flap/gusset construction (I’ll get to my fear of top down patterns with short row heels later!) with no exceptions…until now.

The Knitter magazine includes a “masterclass” in every issue which is always an interesting read. The latest one was on Judy’s Magic Cast On. I decided it was about time for me to give it a go and knit toe up socks so I sought out a pattern. I decided there was absolutely no point in doing things by halves and had seen that Yarnissima had designed the mystery sock for the Solid Socks Group on Ravelry so I decided on that. I’m not joining in with their KAL as I don’t have any solid or semi-solid sock yarn in my stash (and my current yarn diet is VERY strict) but I am looking at their projects and enjoying my knitting.

I made a start and it all seems to be going just fine.

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I’m using some Regia yarn I bought when I was in Dortmund last year. I managed the cast on and got going. I’m a bit further through the second clue than I have managed to photograph and I hope to make more progress at the weekend.

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My Ravely project page is here.

So far so good anyway. I’ve seen the clue for the heel and did have a mini panic BUT I shall persevere, it’s only knitting, no one will die if I make a mess of it.

Here’s to learning new things and knitting without fear!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

WIPW - Maggie

I've not joined in with Work in Progress Wednesdays for quite a while so thought as I would rectify that to show the progress on my current garmet project. I am knitting Maggie by Kim Hargreaves and whilst it could be progressing more quickly I don't think I'm doing too badly.

Last time I posted this I had the back but now I have the back and the left front:

The front grew quickly once I was past the rather bothersome garter stitch edge. It's not difficult to knit, it's garter stitch, it's just that it feels like endless garter stitch. The edge is knit side to side then stitches are picked up to knit the front, it's the same on the back and the sleeves. It is shaped with short rows and the bottom edge is ruffled with a picot. It looks good but ohmygoodness it was BORING to knit it. I couldn't knit mindlessly as I needed to keep careful count so I knew when the short rows started. I do like the edging though, I suppose it's worth it!

It does make knitting the right front an unappealing prospect but I'm sure I'll be happy with it when it's done. I have marked up the rows where the buttons will go on the left front and made a note of these so I actually remember to knit the button holes on the right front (a bonus of this cardigan is that the button band is knit with the fronts so no fussing about picking that up afterwards)

I am pleased to be progressing with this anyway. It's my weekend project, during the week I knit socks as I may only have a short amount of knitting time. At the weekend I can sit and get stuck into bigger projects so I'm hoping that I will find enough time this weekend to get the right front done or at least most of the way done. I'm not entirely looking forward to sewing it up when I'm finished with the knitting but this yarn (Rowan Luxury Cotton DK) is very drapey so I do think it will benefit from the additional structure seams add. I do think my next garment will be seamless though.

I'm very pleased that I am working my way through my stash bit by bit and keeping to my goals for the year of actually using up my garment quantities of yarn which were entirely bought in sales with no real project in mind for them!

My project page for Maggie with yarn details is here.

More WIPW posts can be found on Tami's blog here.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The good and the bad

It is raining heavily in my part of West Yorkshire at the moment but I have a bit of summer in my living room. We have a beautiful peony plant in the garden, unfortunately the flowers are so heavy that they droop to the ground and get don't last very long. I know when they're drooping it upsets Mr.NM so this year I decided to enjoy some of them in our living room instead.

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I left some outside of course and the bees seem to be enjoying them.

I finished my cowl. The way the weather is I feel like I could be wearing it now! I'm really happy with the way it came out and I just love this yarn, it's such a gorgeous colour and so soft and snuggly. I'm looking forward to knitting the matching fingerless mitts.

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I think I should actually knit the patterns from magazines I buy more often!

I am going to show you something now and I suggest you get a cup of tea and sit down, it's quite shocking and rather upsetting. Are you ready? Well there was a little accident in the Monkey household...

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Do you see what's wrong with that picture? Let's get a bit closer shall we?

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One of my 5mm knitpro nova tips...bent...bah! I am not happy. I believe it was stepped on and whilst I know it shouldn't have been on the floor (and am not entirely certain how it came to be left on the floor) but I'm still upset. Fortunately I don't need a 5mm tip at the moment but I must remember to replace it before I come to do a project using a 5mm needle only to find I don't have one any more.

Still bent needles aside I've had a good weekend and am feeling quite accomplished to have another WIP turn into an FO...I'm ignoring the fact it was a new WIP and not one that has been sitting there for ages unknit. Ho hum.

I hope everyone has had a lovely weekend and has an excellent week.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Socks and the Lake District

I finished my stripey socks last week and I am thoroughly chuffed with them. I know some people obsess about stripes matching, I am not one of those people. When I finished the first sock the beginning of the next stripe repeat (which are very long in this Opal yarn) started at the toe. I refused to wind right through my ball of yarn to get to where it started again so just cast on the second sock and knit. They are a few rows out in matching but not enough that you can really tell and I love them anyway.

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I do love this yarn. It's just so soft and doesn't feel at all overprocessed in spite of being mass produced self-striping. I very much envied the socks I had knit for Mr.NM in this yarn so am please to finally have got round to a pair for myself. I have another ball in my stash to do another pair for me (I can't see Mr.NM wanting a pair in the yarn as it's pink, lilac and green but you never know!) I also had quite a bit left over so may be able to get a little pair of trainer socks if I use a different yarn fo the toes.

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My Ravelry project page for the socks with details of yarn is here if you're interested.

My new socks went on a little trip away at the weekend when we visited the Lake District. It was not really woolly sock weather as you will see from the pictures though they kept my feet comfortable for our long walk.

I got Mr.NM to take a photo from the car as we drove over the Hardknott Pass but I'm not sure it really reveals how difficult the driving was (the link explains if you're not familiar with the road). It was rather frightening in my little car which only has a 1.2l engine! Fortunately though we made it in one piece and I did have a great sense of achievement afterwards. I think you should get a badge really "I've survived the Hardknott Pass" or something.

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The glorious (and very un-Lake District like) weather meant our planned walk for the Saturday went ahead. We took a lot of pictures so I'll share a few of the scenery.

The little white dots in this one are lots of sheep, oh my goodness did we see a lot of sheep! Not just in the fields but up in the fells where we ran into plenty of Herdwick sheep, I'm sure they were amused at how we struggled up the hills...if sheep are capable of being amused. I'd like to think they are.

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A rare sight of a sheepless field!

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We saw this rather handsome fellow in one of the fields, look at those horns! Fortunately we did not need to cross this field as I doubt he'd show the indifference that the ewes do.

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Mr.NM fell behind as I stormed ahead with one of our friends...

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Part of our walk took us through a forest of pine trees which smelled fabulous but were not so fun to have to push past when they were close together, they were rather prickly.

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My new socks doing their duty! They got a touch muddy as whilst it was very sunny when we were there it had been raining heavily the week before and the ground was boggy in places. Fortunately the combination of good boots and wool socks meant my feet were dry and comfortable.

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This was the view from the highest point of our walk (well there abouts) it was a bit hazy but breathtaking. I do love this part of the country.

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The end of our walk involved walking back down the Hardknott Pass where I had driven the previous day. This was much harder on the feet (and the knees) than walking over the grass on the hills but after 10 miles of walking it was a relief to know that we were nearing the end of our walk.

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We had a lovely time but on the way home I did not wish to drive through the passes again so took the longer (and much easier) route along the coast. We stopped briefly in Ravenglass for some toasties and a pot of tea feeling sore from the previous day's walk and rather glad to be going home as the rain was threatening. I made a mental note to visit in the future as it was quite pretty. We saw some Morris Dancers but I didn't take any pictures of them, they were wearing impressive costumes though.

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I feel very fortunate to have managed a weekend in the Lakes without getting soaked (I've NEVER achieved a trip there without getting soaked to the skin at least once!) I'm just a little sad now that we don't have another camping trip planned until the end of July. Oh well, it's good to have things to look forward to.

I hope everyone has a lovely week and I'll be back soon with an update on the progress with my cowl.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Another new project you say?

I started another new project...yes I know I have oodles of WIPs but I DON'T CARE. Nope...not one bit. Knitting is not the boss of me and I shall knit whatever I like whenever I like so there.

It's OK to knit new things anyway, I'm "stash-busting" and that's a good thing. The current bit of stash I've decided to bust is the bit that expanded last October when I went to Loop in London. One of my purchases there was a divinely soft skein of Old Maiden Aunt Alpaca/Silk Sport in "Last Night's Red Dress" now I'm not sure what was done in this red dress as the yarn is quite definitely purple to me! Still it's beautiful and soft and I bought it entirely on a whim then had no idea what to do with it.

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Well I found a pattern in my latest copy of Simply Knitting and decided that this yarn would be just lovely for it. The pattern, Aqua Ripples, is for a simple lace cowl and matching fingerless mitts. It's written to be knit in Natural Dye Studio Queenied Love which is double knitting weight and a bit heavier than the Old Maiden Aunt but I decided to give it a go anyway and see how it went. It seems to be going well so far but when I come to the mitts I'm going to use a smaller needle as I think 4mm is really a little big for the yarn I'm using and my hands and wrists are stupidly skinny compared to the rest of me anyway so a tighter fit on the mitts would be better.

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Anyway I'm happy. I'm using up yarn and the magazine purchase was actually worth it as for once I'm knitting one of the printed patterns! Amazing.