Sunday, 29 April 2012

Day 7: Crafting Balance (3KCBWDAY7)

I have an open mind when it comes to other crafts. Knitting is my main passion, but it is not my first love; that is cross-stitch. I joined a cross-stitch club at school when I was nine and really took to it. In my teens, it all fell by the wayside, and then at 21 I learned to knit again and never looked back. I have also returned to cross-stitch, but am nothing like as prolific as I am with knit projects. I do enjoy both, but I think knitting just fits into my life much better - cross-stitch lends itself less well to train and bus journeys, and for me at least requires better light than knitting.

I do like giving good cross-stitched Christmas card. 

I have dallied in other crafts, too. At Harrogate Knitting and Stitch Fair (but expertly missed in the relevant blog post), I bought a beading kit. I am progressing with this, but it requires sitting still for quite a while so progress since November has been slow. I have now finished the beading but not done the background, and am very much enjoying it. I'll give more details when it is finished.

I have tried crochet, and though it caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth on my part, I will try again sometime this summer (as I mentioned yesterday). I also intend to do some more sewing. But on the whole, I feel like I have a good crafting balance already, and even when I am in a just-knitting phase, I feel like I have a good balance. As long as I am doing some kind of craft, I am pretty happy.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Day 6: Improving Your Skillset (3KCBWDAY6)

Last year, I set myself two modest targets. One was to try colourwork using Eskimimi's Snowbaby Hat, which I have done and double done. I am happy with my hat and wear it whenever I can, and I like the feeling of achieving targets. The other was to make a hedgehog, which I have not done, and I feel a little guilty about this. My reason is that I should not buy yarn for so small a project, but use the ends of something I have made already, and I have not knitted anything brown yet. I may just have to bite the bullet and buy, but first I might raid my mum's yarn stash.

In general, I feel like I have progressed as a knitter in the past year. Not only stranded colourwork, but garments, complex lace, and socks. All excellent steps on the road to being Expert Knitter. A good year by my standards, and given that I have only been knitting 2.5 years I think I'm making some pretty complex stuff and challenging myself.

But what should me next steps be? I do want to try intarsia, to continue the colour work thing as I enjoyed stranded so much. The other thing I want to try (again) is crochet - I have the yarn for a ripple blanket a lot like this one (ravelry link), though my first endeavours were full of frustration and swearing. So those shall be my targets for before the next blog week - intarsia and crochet. And the hedgehog!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Day 5: Something a Bit Different (3KCBWDAY5)

Once again, with apologies to Rogers & Hammerstein.

Oh what a beautiful yarn!

There's a knitting plan in progress here,
There's a knitting plan in progress here,
The yarn pile's as high as an elephant's eye
And it looks like it's climbing clear up to the sky....

Oh what a beautiful pattern!
Oh what a beautiful yarn!
I got a wonderful feeling,
Together they'll go as I hope.

Oh the knitting plan is looking dodgy
Oh the knitting plan is looking dodgy 
There's false starts and restarts and hold-ups to boot,
And it looks like it might all need a rethink....

Oh what a beautiful pattern!
Oh what a beautiful yarn!
I got a wonderful feeling,
Together they go as I hope.

All the projects are looking so lovely,
All the projects are looking so lovely, 
Despite all my doubts the outcome is ace,
And it looks like I'll have something cosy to wear

Oh what a beautiful pattern!
Oh what a beautiful yarn!
I got a wonderful feeling,
Together they go as I'd hoped.

Oh what a beautiful day.

(Now I suggest you go and find the unadulterated version from Oklahoma!. Here it is sung by Hugh Jackman in some super-cool trousers)

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Day 4: A Knitter or Crocheter for All Seasons? (3KCBWDAY4)

This was where I used my scientific mind to it's full potential. I actually put together something in Excel that has all my finished projects, by month.

Yeah, it's a little hard to read, sorry, hopefully you can see there are months along the top and projects named underneath. Generally, it looks like I knit less in May/June and more in Autumn and Spring - but oddly not winter. But what about the type of project I'm making?

Here I have made pink the complex lace stuff compared to the easier less-need-to-look-at-a-chart stuff. It is so uniformly spread, it could be butter on toast.

My gift knitting also shows less seasonality than I'd expected - and nothing in December! So far, I can see very little trend at all....

Ah, I see it now. Here I've done garments red, socks yellow, gloves green, scarves blue and hats pink. I do garments and socks in the winter, and hats and gloves in July (?!) and the Autumn, mainly.

Mostly, I'm impressed that there is any sort of pattern; I certainly don't plan it that way!! Also, I have only been knitting for less than three years, so there's not been very long for any sort of trend to emerge. The trends I do have probably won't stand up to any sort of statistical testing :p

And here is a little picture of some birds in Leeds' Tropical World, just to lighten things up after all that maths !

'What are you looking at?'

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Day 3: Knitting Hero [3KCBWDAY3]

 I have written and rewritten this blog post a few times now and sorry, I don't think I can pick just one person; there are so many people who inspire me, in big ways and in small. I am a member of two knitting groups and everyone at both of them has given me ideas in one way or another (and made me laugh. a lot).

{Photo credit uncertain; thanks to whoever took it!}

I come from a long line of knitting women and love to chat about knitting with my grandma, aunts and mum, and love hearing about my great-grandma (who I never met) knitting socks for the whole family, seemingly mostly in bed.

{Crafting with my mum, Photo by Ewenique}

I read countless blogs which all give me ideas; most notably those of organiser extraordinaire Eskimimi, the Yarn Harlot and Wendy at Knit and Tonic.

The yarns dyed by The Yarn Yard send my head into a spin, and if I weren't on a yarn diet then Abstract Cat and Wharfedale Woolworks would be getting my custom. And I have enjoyed knitting with sparkleduck this year, bought at Woolfest last year.

[All the Yarn Yard Yarn I own. Apparently I'm in a Blue Phase]

In terms of patterns, I do love the designs of Ysolda and Kate Davies, the socks of Cookie A and the hats of Wooly Wormhead, and love reading their blogs and about their lives and inspiration.

[Me wearing the Orchid Theif Shawl by Ysolda Teague. No, I'm not talking about Lauriel, still]

But by far and away, there are two people who inspire me the most - sum totalling a vast amount of inspiration between them. First, Ewenique, for opening the door to the knitting world, getting me knitting in public, showing me how to use dpns (and indeed what they are), getting me on ravelry and a ton of things besides. And last but by no means least, the eternally lovely Steph, housemate and crafter. I am greatful to you for seeing that my door to the knitting world was opened a crack, then forcing the thing open and wedging it with a ton of books; never, I fear, to be shut again.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Day 2, Wildcard: Craft Your Perfect Day (3KCBWWC)

I was hoping to have inspiration for the photography topic for today, espeically as the prizes are so good, but I just can't summon it. So I'm playing the wildcard; early, I know, but it has to be done.

My Perfect Craft Day is at my place. As this is a dream day, I can totally be living in my dream flat - an older building with all the lovely built-in sound insulation. The main living room has a bay window or ideally a turret, into which a window seat is built so I can sit on it and store all my yarn in it. Or I could be in my dream house with its own craft room, very much like Ewenique's (blogged about here).

I definitely have visitors, not so many that I'm just hosting all day but enough, maybe four. The guestlist is fluid but it definitely includes Ewenique and Steph. They arrive about eleven or twelve; before that I tidy the house, clear any email, get through any chores, maybe blog and definitely go for a walk somewhere. Once they're here, mostly we knit and drink tea, have a spot of lunch, maybe cake and biscuits as the day wears on. My guests probably leave after an early dinner, and then I curl up with my knitting and more tea, and chat to my lovely boyfriend or watch a movie.

But until then, I have a much more modest crafty corner.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012, Day 1: Colour (3KCBWDAY1)

I do love colour. Mainly not brown, black, grey or white but proper colours, if you will. The kind that feature in the rainbow somewhere. Maybe not in what I buy to wear, but in the things I have around me. I grew up in the part of Yorkshire where having at least a rudimentary knowledge of the works of David Hockney is essential. At the foot of my bed for years now has been a print of a beautifully bright piece of Yorkshire (the first picture in this blog post). I have a really colourful Ikea rug, too. And a rainbow blanket. Yes, it may not be tasteful, but it makes me happy.

It does not surprise me that I tend to knit a colour. An intense colour preferably, with high saturation. I find this in all sorts of places, of late mainly at The Yarn Yard. From there, I have bough five (!) skeins; four reside in my stash (but I have plans for them!), and the other became my Wanidas. [The Yarn Yard is also generally (but sadly not currently) home to the magic carpet yarn which Eskimimi used to make these awesome socks. I also love the colour of those. A lot.]

[pretty freakin' green, if you ask me]

With the Wanidas, after a false start, I feel like the pattern and yarn have married together really well. And I love it when that happens like with feather and fan. Though they are also a brilliant colour, so I'll show you them again.

Over the past year, I have made my first forays into garment knitting, and they also tend to be a colour - though not such a bold one as I would use for socks! I've made a red bolero, and two green jumpers: Cadence and Owls. Owls is probably my favourite coloured one - greatest saturation! - and the best photo I've managed to take of it is still the first one.

If I look over what I knit for myself and what is in my stash, it is mostly purple, blue or green, with a couple of red things and maybe one pink thing. Well, I love colour, but I'm not demented; I know I will probably not suit orange!

Friday, 20 April 2012

FO: Wanida (on a Friday)

I finished them! Now I have two green socks.

And I love 'em! They're so green!! They turned out just how I'd hoped, despite my false start with a different colour yarn. This does mean I have knit this pattern three times instead of the usual two, which I think been a partial reason for the delay. 

Now they may be a little small, but this was before I blocked them - I was just too excited to show them off. If they're still a little small, I'll probably donate them to someone with slightly smaller feet than me. Maybe.

Yarn: Bonny by The Yarn Yard
Pattern: Wanida by Cookie A [ravelry link], from the book Sock Innovation [amazon uk link, ravelry link
Mods: None. Looking at them not I wish I'd done the ribbing on a needle size smaller but they seem to stay up anyway. 

In short, I am well chuffed with them. 

PS. In other news, I intend to do my best to take part in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, despite spending the week working at a Conference (boo) though in Vienna (yay). 

Thursday, 12 April 2012

FO: Magrathea

Finally, another finished object! I have been getting bogged down in knitting lately and over-thinking things, and it has been nice to make a decision, stick to it and finish something. Let me tell you all about it, from the start...
{Apologies for the photos of me looking like a dweeb. I'm living alone at the moment :( }

I bought this pattern because I love Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in which the planet Magrathea features, without any particular yarn in mind. It sat there waiting for it's yarn friend for a few months. First I chose the wrong sort of yarn, both colour and fibre (it was mentioned briefly during my Trying to Kick the Funk post months ago). But then, I saw this yarn in Loop, London in September and fell in love then and there. It turns out to be the prefect partner for this pattern!

There were a few false starts with this yarn, as I found the first 'setup' section tricky - I think it was mainly trying to get my head around the idea of a sideways shawl. Once I got past the first section, the second 'body' section you repeat many times and so I was fine with that after a few repeats; it flew off the needles [though I may have had a few stalling moments, as I mentioned back at the start of February]. There was a little frogging episodes with the final few sections, as the pattern says you need 25% of your yarn to do the edging, and I was determined to maximise this; I take full responsibility for my own meagerness! But then, at the end of the body, trouble. I had the right number of stitches for Size The First (smallest), but had done enough pattern repeats for Size The Second. Time to make a decision. This took weeks and weeks, when it stayed in this sorry state

...Until a visit to the lovely Ewenique when she (quite rightly!) told me to man up and fudge it. Which I duly did, adding stitches in the final pattern repeat to make sure I had enough. The end sections went flew off the needles over the weekend and Monday evening, much to my delight, and it was all finished in time to block before bed on Monday night.

Still in love with that edging :)

Monday, 2 April 2012

False Starts

There has been a bit of a lull, which I regret; things have been getting busy, both in life and at work. I'll tell you about it all in good time; first to show you what I've been working on.

My two main current projects are my Wanida socks and my Magrathea Shawl. More on Magrathea another day. Wanida is a Cookie A pattern from Sock Innovation (kindly lent by Steph though I love the book so I will buy my own copy. Soon.). I saw the pattern and in a fit of ardour cast on with the nearest skein of yarn. However, once I'd boshed my way through the first sock, I took a step back and realised it was not the best yarn for the job.

Such a shame, as it is from The Yarn Yard, my yarn store du jour. It is a 75% superwash wool / 25% nylon designed-for-socks blend called Bonny in the colurway Making Mischief. And boy did it live up to its name!!

However, I never say die with such things, and after a bit of moaning (and maybe a G&T) I cast on the same pattern but with a different skein of yarn, also from The Yarn Yard, also Bonny, but in a very different colour*.
*apologies, I do not know the colour name. There was a sale and some quick purchasing of two skeins of the same price, and with names a53 and a44. It's deffo one of those, though which I have no idea.

And now I love it! I think this is the best combination I could come up with from my sock yarn stash and very much enjoying knitting them (apart from picking up the stitches along the side of the heel, with thanks again to Steph for doing that). First green sock done, and just turned the heel on the second. Just not enough hours in the day to make more progress!

PS. I know I have made two socks, I just don't do odd socks. It was my genius play for the game 'I have never' - until this photo was taken that is!