Tuesday, 13 December 2011

FO: Snowbaby

Just a quickie post today, to show you my lovely new hat. I have decided that waiting for decent light will mean waiting forever, so apologies about the photo quality.

Pattern: Snowbaby Hat by Eskimmimi (rav link)
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran in Purple (#13) and Off-White (#16). It should be knit in DK but I fell for that purple.
Bought at: Create Cafe, Ilkley, still probably my favourite yarn shop of all time.
Needles: 3.75mm 60cm KnitPro Interchangeables. Needed to go down to this size from the recommended 4mm to get guage.

After a false start where I measured my gauge but decided it would do [massive error => massive hat], this second attempt went much better. I heartily recommend it as a first project in Fair Isle, as there are no long strands on the back so no need to figure out the complexities of weaving vs. twisting, and of course only two colours - though I did manage to get myself in a twist! A clear and well-written pattern meant I could use my brainpower to learn the stranding, not deciphering.

I am mightily happy with the result: lovely and cosy, butt he fabric is still sufficiently flexible despite my mucking about with the yarn size. I am so happy with it that when OH asked if he might have one knitted for him, I didn't fret about how much knitting should get done before Christmas or get too cross about the lovely scarf I knitted him last year that he has LOST, and just said, 'as long as you take me to the yarn shop'. More on that story later...

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Fair 2011

I was glad to go to Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Fair 2011, though now I have been three years on the bounce I think it may be time to have a year off. Don't get me wrong, it's still incredibly inspiring and full of as much craft stuff as I might ever need; it's just that I totally forgot to take photos while I was actually in the place, felt a bit ill and a bit claustrophobic. So yes, sorry, not one photo of an awesomely artistic quilt or crazy knitted fashion project, just photos of my haul.

First a parade of sock yarn. We have some Daffodil by Bar T'at yarns (available from Create Cafe, Ilkley) which will probably become some sort of spring shawl / scarf, possible for Mother's Day. The ZigZag ball is destined to become socks, hopefully skew socks [knitty, ravelry] for myself, but we shall see who else asks for socks before the year is out! The last ball of dark blues is what my mum asked for some legwarmers in. God only knows why I didn't point her in the direction of chunky yarn, but I have made my bed and must now lie in it.

And then the parade of cross stitch kits. The bookmarks are definitely for me, the other flowers may become Mother's Day presents and the little ones are probably going to be framed or something as part of Mum's birthday. It does seem like my mum is destined to do rather well out of my crafting in the coming months, but I guess that's her reward for taking me!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Too Big, Too Small, Just Right.

Accidentally left it rather long between posts, oopsie. This is mainly because the knitting has been a bit up and down lately. Well, mainly down. I've had one hat too big...

one hat too small...

and one hat just right that I keep forgetting to photograph whenever I see the friend I gave it to. Though on the up side, Lauriel is progressing nicely (with help from Steph!) and I have some fabby stripey socks.
Ahhhh toasty toeses! Hoping for some good posts in the coming days, I have been doing a lot of stuff that isn't knitting and have a massive pile of nearly finished objects to crack on with. I will go and do that now, catch you soon!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

What I've been doing lately... again.

It has been a while, hasn't it? I apologise. I've been under the weather. Had a ton of work to do. The ususal. A lot has happened, but sadly it is getting to that time of year when I have to be a bit careful and not tell you about any Christmas presents I'm making.

First up in things that have progressed is Lauriel. Look, she's almost there! Cardigan-shaped! Sleeves! Can actually try it on!

Sadly, the next thing is picking up for the button bands when there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth so I have been procrastinating that.

Next on the list is some gloves to match a hat (Woolly Wormhead's QL Slouch) from the remaining yarn. Since I loved knitting the hat and I generally love knitting mittlets, they knit up a treat.
Don't get too attached though. They're being frogged as I'm a) 1g short of yarn to do the second one and b) they're a little tight. Attempts to acquire more yarn have so far failed. A G&T tonight and they will be frogged, to wait for a day with more decisive-ness.

I also had a minor disaster with a sock (the fab self-striping ones photographed poorly here). Just turned the heel, popped it in my handbag to do on the bus and horror of horrors- one dpn has pulled out completely. The one with all the heel stitches on. So now I need to rescue that and crack on with it.

So, after having a few minor knitting disasters this week, I knitted a hat for this poor fellow over the weekend.

It is a very basic hat and I knit it in under 24 hours from stash yarn (from the Box of Yarn That Doesn't Exist i.e. is full of low-grade DK or odds & ends). Clearly I did something odd with the decrease rate but I like the result given that I made it up as I went along. And the recipient has been suitably grateful which makes the whole endeavor worthwhile.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Loop, London

I went to Cambridge for a Summer School, stayed in a lovely college, ate lots of food and slept very little. But mostly this was really hard work for 11 days with one and a half days off in the middle. The half day was spent punting...

... and of course knitting. So on my full day off I wanted to do something that was very much not summer school-related, very much not in Cambridge. So I went all the way to London town, met up with the lovely Sophie who whisked me away to somewhere I have wanted to go for a long time now.
Loop London. Yes, it's lovely window display does have woodland-creature-related art on it. And like many a knitter before me, I stepped in to a little woolly haven.

This was an excellent way to leave the stress of the previous week and the hustle-and-bustle of London that my inner Northerner still has issues with and just think about knitting. There was a lot of really lovely yarn [bottom photo] - I mean the £10-£15/skein sock yarn, which I love - but there was also decent yarn more suitable for a beginner (under £5/ball DK). I got some of each...

100g Malabrigo sock in Impressionist Sky. Will probably make something for my mum, as she loves that sort of colour. Probably not socks, it's too pretty! I did spend a long time squeezing the Wollmeise but this colour spoke to me.

This one is really much much greener than this, but my camera will not do it justice. 50g of Rico Cotton DK, probably for making some little mittletts or something. As yet unsure, mainly bought because I loved the colour.

Overall, Loop is a brilliant yarn shop and was in a good area with plenty of cafes and other interesting shops, walking distance from King's Cross (but probably not with luggage!) and an excellent selection of yarn. Heartily recommended!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

What's on my needles

I have realised in all my excitement of travelling to the four corners of Britain, it has been a fair while since I have mentioned what I'm actually knitting. And this is because, for the lat month, it has been dominated by one item: Lauriel.

I am a lot in love with this pattern and apart from some teething problems with the rib at the start has flowed off my needles (as I mentioned a while ago). Except, it has been a very busy month and so it is not getting the attention it deserves. Much progress was made during my working from Scotland days, but this stalled as I reached Cambridge and the ribbing at the bottom of the body. I have come to the simple conclusion that I have the wrong number of stitches which is why the ribbing won't work, have fudged accordingly and need to see how it turns out.

Meanwhile, I needed something to do in the seminars I attended in Cambridge. Socks were an obvious solution.
My coursemates were supportive and maybe a little impressed with my skills over the fortnight (I did only get in about an hour a day, with note-taking). I was wondering if I could come up with a decent name for the project and when I asked my neighbour she said unhesitatingly 'The Sanity Socks'. After all, what is better for keeping your head during ten 12-hour days plus a half-day Saturday than some self-striping socks?

When I was at home for a few days and needed some knitting for while I was catching up with Torchwood (still very behind though, tsk!), I picked up my first ever knitted thing: the Garter Stitch Scarf. Last year I decided it was too short to be useful, so grabbed some extra wool in an end-of-line sale to make it useful again. As the weather begins to turn colder, I fear I may need it sooner rather than later!

I will probably have more exciting travel stories when I next write. Until next time x

Thursday, 15 September 2011


Today I have been in classes from 9am to 9pm for the fifth day in a row, and my brain is fried. It is too fried to sort out Lauriel which I keep messing up. Too fried to play pool. Definitely too fried to do any of the massive pile of work that is lurking just out of my eyeline. So as that is all no fun at all and I could do with some escape, I'm going to write about another of Scotland's tourist attractions I went to this month; Culross (pronounced coo-ros).

It is a lovely old village that much of has been protected by the National Trust for Scotland - and it is easy to see why, it is too cute. We pottered round the manor house (called the Palace, a little optimistically!) and had a brilliant tour of the village which I learned loads on. And then we had tea and cake, of course.

The manor house - built 1626! - is a fab shade of yellow and contains all kinds of crafty treats (I did take a couple of shots before remembering that NTS properties are ususally no photos allowed, oops!). There is still a little of the original paint on the walls/ceiling in a couple of the rooms, and the paintings are really beautiful. The Culross Needlework Guild has done a ton of work in there, it was absolutely stunning, especially in the Garden Room (that was deffo no photos!).

The whole place grew up on a clever mining scheme that got coal out from under the Forth, in the 16th and 17th centuries. The good stuff they sold and the poorer quality coal was used for turning the salty Firth of Forth waters into salt. It was eventually flooded in a severe storm but at low tide, you can still see the old harbour wall and the borehole (circled in red) they used to send the miners down in (nb. it doesn't have a train service (freight-only line) but I did see buses and the car parking was easy and free).

And I hear it was on Coast a long time ago. Clearly a program of excellent taste, it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. I heartily recommend it, especially if the hurly-burly of Edinburgh during the festival is finally driving you mad - it is less than an hour away and so relaxing.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

A Darn Good Sunday

So I was in Scotland - or maybe more precisely, in Fife. It's just the north side of the Firth of Forth (the estuary that Edinburgh is on). Why? because my lovely other half is from there. I have been there many, many times over the years we have been together, and had a lot of more active weekends that this one. It's just that this one I thought was the most noteworthy.

Saturday was actually pretty quiet - food shopping, a walk on a beach, a very speedy trip to a yarn shop in the next town (I didn't think it was very good so I'll keep quiet about it). Evening in. On Sunday, he even had a lie in! By the time he got up I think maybe he felt guilty that I'd been up for three hours, eaten breakfast and was well into Cup of Tea Number Four. So when I suggested a rather mad trip in the car to Falkirk and then Glasgow, he agreed as quick as lightening!
So first was the Falkirk Wheel. It is a fabulous piece of millennium engineering that connects two canals in Scotland - the Union and Forth-Clyde. It lifts the boats up/down by rotating around, while using minimal energy and looking pretty. I really enjoyed it; relaxing boat trip, educational in an interesting-not-boring way, and ice cream at the end of it.

{apologies for the dodge reflections}

Then things took a turn towards yarn...

The Yarn Cake is a wee shop in north-west Glasgow (near the Botanic Gardens) and so far, it is the best yarn shop I have been in. It may be small but is perfectly formed; I liked the balance of Drops with indie-dyers (the Yarn Yard and Abstract Cat when I popped by). The decor was simple but effective, there was a good selection of knitting books, and there were tables for perusing books / knitting / debating what to buy / eating cake / drinking tea. Because I am shy, I didn't take photos inside (there were a fair few other customers) and because I am disorganised, I don't have photos of all the stuff I bought there (but I will soon!). And I will certainly go back when I can, armed with camera and confidence.

But overall, it really was a brilliant day out with stunningly sunny weather, doing things, drinking tea and buying yarn. And my other half is very very lovely for doing all the driving - it did go over 100 miles!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

FO Friday - Feather & Fan Socks

I decided, during the knitting funk, that a speedy knit was needed. Something attainable, with a new skill or two thrown in to make me feel like I'm Developing As A Knitter. And so I stumbled upon these guys.

Pattern: the Feather and Fan sock, a toe-up sock pattern with lace on the ankle [ravelry link].
Yarn: 4ply from Woolfest 2011, called 'Rainbow Sock Wool' - a BFL/nylon blend that is lovely and cosy from the Wool Clip stall. The label tells me it was made by Jan & Cecilia and you can email or telephone them, but they don't have their own website or anything.

Love the pattern, so easy to follow and needing just the right amount of brain power. Learned about short-row shaping at the toe and heel, and the awesome super-stretchy bind off at the top. I think I'll be making all my future socks toe-up in future; I just get on with it better than top-down.

I love how this yarn has turned out with these socks. It really is a match made in heaven, and I'm really proud of them. I did have a crisis of confidence with them - clearly related to the general knitting funk - but that makes me even more proud of them. I made it through, and would you look at what I did on the way??

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

"WIP Wednesday" - Lauriel

Today I am doing a (belated) WIP Wednesday because at the moment I only have one thing on my needles, and that is an Exciting Thing. It's belated because I passed out on the sofa about 9pm, woke up an hour later and decided nothing was coming between me and my bed!

Pattern: Lauriel, from Little Red in the City.
Yarn: Subline Extra Fine Merino DK, from Baa Ram Ewe (shop link) in 138 (Reefer)

I have been dying to make garments for a long while now, and I had a good introduction with the bolero, but to be honest, that was so easy it hardly counted. Lauriel is a different beast - I need to think about fit and sizing and guage a lot more. After trying on the sample at the Ysolda event at my LYS and it fitting perfectly, size 34 was clearly the way forward. I measured and I'm a 35 - all good so far. There is increasing to do and that doesn't look too bad. I'm warned there is going to be some maths for bust darts, so we shall have to see how I get on with that. But the little bit I have done has been enjoyable knitting, a well-written pattern though required some brain power (and several frogging episodes when my brain stopped!) The yarn is brilliant to work with; I have a slight tendency to go through it especially on 'tbl' stitches but is so soft gives lovely stitch definition.

Though there is a long way to go....

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Ysolda @ Baa Ram Ewe

I have a pretty epic confession to make. I totally failed to take my camera to this event. I know. FAIL. I do hope that my photos from home (and one scrounged from a friend) will suffice.

First, the book.

It is an excellent, excellent book. It has so much stuff in it that I do not know, and probably should before embarking on proper garment knitting. I do have a tick of never being able to remember knitting pattern names, and so I wrote them on those blue page-marker post-it notes you can see peeking out. Now my knitting pals thinks I'm a bit of a stationary geek! How little they know....

Back to the point, I had already spent a fair while looking through the book, and the two patterns that caught my eye were Lauriel and Skelf (the little red website has photos). The best part was that there were samples to try on and the smaller size was pretty much perfect for me! To my mind, Lauriel clearly goes better with skirts and Skelf would work better with jeans & boots - though both would work with either, I'm sure - and since I'm into skirts at the moment, Lauriel is went to the top of the To Knit List!

It's going to be knit in this: Subline extra-fine merino DK
This was mainly because it was recommended by baa ram ewe (the advice is currently on the front page of their website). It was rather a treat for myself but I justified it. After all, I had a knitting funk on!

And since you only live once, I also got the deeply cute project bag, as you can never have enough and my sweater-sized one is full of the guilt-inducing Grandma's Cardigan (more on that soon!).

And it was all totally worth it: my knitting funk has been knocked for six! It was a great evening talking a lot about knitting with some lovely ladies (photo by Rachel at Reward(ing) Memories)

Friday, 29 July 2011

Trying to Kick the Funk

So, I have been in a bit of a knitting funk of late. Starting things and partway through, deciding they're not the right yarn/pattern combo, so ripping back. Making mistakes and ripping back. Having things not work and ripping back. Realising something is not the right size and ripping back. Running out of yarn and ripping back. It's not been a good month.

So far, I've only had knitting blips for days or maybe a week, but as you can tell it has been going on for a while. Maybe I've been working hard. Maybe I've been having too much non-knitting fun. But this week I have had to face the music: I am in a knitting funk.

I have tried several things to get out of it, and none of them have worked.... yet!

1. Soldier on

The first is a hat where the ribbed band was way too loose. I have knit the Grace Lace Beret before but in acrylic so wasn't expecting the ribbing to be tight (featured as part of Blog Week), but this yarn had enough wool content that it should have worked. It got this far and was frogged.
The next is the lovely angora mittens. I have knitted these until I have run out of yarn, and have just decided they are too big. Frogged, to be reborn when I can face the maths.
2. Buy yarn for the next project, as an incentive.

This is destined to be a Snowbaby Hat by eskimimi (rav link). It involves colourwork and I have never done that before. So, as everything seemed to be going wrong so far, I have not cast it on -- I was just hoping that a little temptation of future work might make me work harder and so things would go right again.

3. Buy stunning artisan yarn with no project in mind.

Both from The Yarn Yard in Making Mischief (above) and Hare (below). Probably both going to become lacework shawls for myself, unless I am feeling very generous. Though they are both stunning, I still haven't quite pinned down a project for either of them, yet. Though there are a lot of 4ply shawls on my waiting list.

4. Buy a random ball of yarn and then fail to knit anything with it.

Though not for want of trying. This has often inspired me in the past, but all I wanted to make some vanilla socks for some quick gratification. It turns out bamboo yarn was not the answer - the ribbing had no grip. Then I tried to make a lovely lace shawl - the yarn was too busy and obscured the pattern (I did have three attempts at the shawl before giving up). Then some mittlets - they just didn't work at all. They were supposed to be doing some scrunching up on the wrist but, whether it was the yarn, the pattern, or the knitter, it just plain didn't happen. Frogged and this ball of yarn is condemned to the Box Of Yarn That Doesn't Exist.

5. Go to a knitting event with knitting friends
Though I think that is a tale for another day...

Sunday, 17 July 2011

FO: Lush Green Orchid Thief

Some years ago, I bought a lovely green dress for a wedding and, being I was on a short deadline, I bought a cheapo shawl and shoes to go with it. But I felt this outfit could have a shawl knitted for it, to make it more brilliant for wedding season this year. However, having knit it and tried it on with the dress, they don't match. Also, this dress was clearly bought before the advent of the Cake Diet.

I love the shawl, the dress is being donated to a thinner friend.
Yarn: Jawoll Magic 4ply in colour 17 (called grasshopper or apple - either way, green). Bought at Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Fair 2010

Lovely pattern, though be sure to check out the errata and the relevant ravelry discussion before struggling on. And definitely, definitely, use lifelines (unless you are a really really great knitter). The yarn is great if a little prone to felting, but I love how it has turned out.