Sunday, 17 April 2011

FO: Spring Forward (Blue)

This is my first pair of socks, and I may have bitten off more than I can chew with Spring Forward. Don't get me wrong, lovely well-written, simple pattern; it was just a little too much to learn picking up stitches, turning the heel etc. while doing a pattern. So, if you're new to socks, find a plain vanilla sock pattern and then knit these.

As with any 'first', there were trials, tribulations, and times when I just ran off to more experienced knitters, but overall I enjoyed the process. The yarn I chose was really easy to use and reasonably priced - King Cole Merino 4ply in Slate Blue, from Baa Ram Ewe, Headingley.

I joined the two balls of yarn using a Russian join, supported by this website and the ever-patient Steph. It was a little confusing at first but actually is a great idea and worth persisting with.

Yeah, slight second sock syndrome though - I did the join well into the second sock as you can see, and there was snow on the ground. That second sock only took two months. But again, worth it in the end - knitted for my Mum, she was really touched and proud of how I'm coming along as a knitter (though, since she taught me to knit, maybe a little worried about what she started!!)

Thursday, 14 April 2011

FO: Spring Ishbel

It would seem blog week has thrown me all out of whack. I finished two projects that week and still haven't blogged about them. And there's all sorts of knitterly topics I have in my head or things on the horizon.

So to Ishbel.

(taken using flash)

I really, really enjoyed this pattern. Though the lacework meant it was needed a fair bit of brainpower, as I got into the swing of each row I found I could at least watch TV or a film. I used to live with a lovely fellow student, now teacher, and I saw the yarn and thought of her instantly. I showed it to her online and she make squeaking noises. Another day, I showed her the pattern and more squeaking ensued. And so her birthday present idea was born in my mind.

(taken with no flash)

I used Zauberball in Flowers (aka Floral Language, aka Durch die Blumen), bought at Harrogate Knitting & Stitching Fair way back in November. I cast on between Christmas and New Year, and after a couple of train journeys was making good progress; it was looking good, knitting up quickly, and the green was peeking through and making me rather excited.

However, there was a go-slow when the lacework started - the rows became too long to take it on the train, it became too difficult to do socially, and I was so crazy busy that my knitting time at home almost vanished. I took it to a fabulous craft day with ewenique and this really sparked my love of it again, especially as she gave me a coincidentally matching project bag 'for Christmas'.
Initially, I knitted the small version, but then I had only one stripe and loads of yarn left so I tinkered about a bit and managed to do the pattern section: ABABAC - first two rows of D - E. And trust me, that is literally as much as the yarn would allow (at least at my gauge) - there was a lot of cunning lifeline placement! The two skills I learned were lifeline placement and blocking by myself - so proud of it I even took photos of the blocking stage...

But the best part by far was giving it to my former housemate. She was so genuinely touched that she could not stop thanking and hugging me. This cheered me up so much after a few rough days that it made all the trials worthwhile.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

WIP Wednesday

I don't normally do WIP Wednesday, but I realised I haven't given an update about what's on my needles in a good long while, and I have some time to blog on a Wednesday. A match made in heaven. So, apologies for the godawful photos, a long day at work means I have looked whistfully out of the window at the beautiful sunshine but not actually been able to take any knitting photos in daylight.

Today's news is relatively exciting - there is a Beautiful Thing afoot.

Well, at least I hope it's going to be a beautiful thing - the pattern is Eskimimi's Simple City, a beautiful thing - and the yarn is Artisan Yarns Sock in Lavendar's Dilly (mentioned when I bought it and during Blog Week). I'm still not quite sure the whole parcel is living up to my expectations, but they are rather high so maybe that was inevitable.

The other news is about this wee fiend:

I know that it doesn't look like much, but the body has been in that state since at least September. That is some serious hibernation. And that provisional cast on was done about this time last year. Pretty lame, if you ask me. Though, as of Knit & Natter last night, there is also a plunger arm:

Of course, I didn't say it was attached....

Sunday, 3 April 2011

My Knitting and Crochet Time - 2KCBWDAY7

Write about your typical crafting time. When it is that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys. What items do you like to surround yourself with whilst you twirl your hook like a majorette’s baton or work those needles like a skilled set of samurai swords. Do you always have snacks to hand, or are you a strictly ‘no crumbs near my yarn!’ kind of knitter.

While writing thinking about this post, I realised there is a vast list of places I have knitted, even in a usual week. There was two knitting groups, one of which I remembered to take a photo of - Stitch & Bitch at Leeds University. The other is on Ravelry as Leeds City Knitters, this week at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, but we had a very cute and very distracting four-month-old visiting this week.

Then there is the knitting I do, where I'm the only person knitting. On the bus and train always happen, whether it's the quick journey home or the long journey north to Edinburgh. At my desk when my work gets really frustrating and I just need to do something else for ten minutes. In a normal week, I'd say that it's about half-and-half between social and solo knitting

But this week, I have rediscovered knitting alone in my house. Of course, this is how my forefathers (or foremothers) knitted, of an evening after a long day, by lamplight. I've realised why they did it too - I'm treating it as quality time to myself, an hour or so of self-indulgence before bed. And since the remit asks for detail, I thought I would photograph the Knitting Chair, and tell you about it.

First, the obvious red spotty knitting bag and rainbow blanket - these are probably two of my favourite things in the world, so involving them in the knitting makes my happier and obviously warmer. The rug is an old faithful; I've had since I moved to my first proper flat in Edinburgh which had an uninspiring grey carpet in need of brightening up, and this room is no different with this beige number.

There is also the radio for company and inspiration - I love listening to it when knitting, because if I get stuck I can stop paying attention more easily than I can with TV or films. Having said that, I do watch old favourite films when I've got a whole evening knitting.

The blue magazine rack to the left of the chair mainly contains knitting magazines and miscellaneous patterns. On that is the perennial mug of tea - a necessity when I'm knitting, but equally a necessity whatever I'm doing - and my hand cream of choice, currently Body Shop Mango Body Butter, 'cos I love the smell. I often have some biscuits to hand if I'm knitting for myself, or chocolate if I'm knitting for someone else (it's easier to get the crumbs off).

I sit next to the beautiful cast-iron fireplace which is easily the best feature of the room. It is a shame that my too-big shoe collection lives in front of it, but they have to go somewhere!! This does mean there is a lot of stuff near the knitting chair, with all those shoes and the niknaks on the mantelpiece, and lotions, potions and jewelry on the dressing table.

So the answer to the questions posed in the remit, in summary - all of the above! I like social and solo knitting, I like snacks but am crumb-conscious, and I like to have a vast number of my belongings within arm's reach!!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Something to aspire to - 2KCBWDAY6

This was a topic I really thought I could get my teeth into, as there is a lot of aspects of knitting I feel I could improve at. After all, wisest is she who knows that she does not know (Socrates).

I need to learn some determination to stick at a project I love when I get stuck. It is not only the Doctor who has trouble with these guys...

However, when I looked through my favorites list on Ravelry, stock full of aspirational projects, there was one that stood out a mile:

This I saved to my favorites on March 13th, 2010. That was a loooong time ago. I have probably looked at it lovingly at least once a month since. It epitomises everything that would smash my knitting fears - will I suit what I knit, or might it look horrid? Will I have the skills to make good, well-fitted garments? Will I have the patience? Can I afford the kind of good yarn needed? And at some point I will man up, face those fears by buying the yarn and casting on. But until then, I will continue to practise my skills and lust after it.

And obviously, finish that damn Dalek!

Friday, 1 April 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different - 2KCBWDAY5

A few of my inspiring things
With Apologies to Rogers & Hammerstein

Bright coloured shawlettes and warm woollen mittens,
Living in Yorkshire, the best bit of Britain!
Squishy yarn parcels all tied up with string,
These are a few of my inspiring things.

Nice chocolate biscuits and hot mugs of tea,
Radio Seven and pretty things to see,
Lunch on the grass, a little cloud spotting,
These are a few of my inspiring things.

Learning new things and what fellow knitters do
Especially the guru and demi-guru
Watching my loved ones knitting or sewing
These are a few of my inspiring things

right-hand photo courtesy of ewenique
When the yarn's tight,
When needles sting,
When it makes me mad,
I simply remember these inspiring things
And then I don't feel so bad.