Wednesday, 29 December 2010

By Jove, I Think He's Got It!

My mother asked the other day why the bottom shelf of our airing cupboard had nothing on it.

"Because that's where Christine dries her knitted things after she's washed them in the bath" came hubby's reply.  "She also wraps them in a towel and jumps on them - no idea what that's about" he added.

I think he's finally 'getting it'!

Christmas here was not too hectic, but still tiring.  Lots of cooking and we had three roast dinners on the trot last week (we asked Daughter #1 what she wanted to have for dinner for her birthday on the 23rd when two sets of grandparents came for the evening and she said roast pork.  We were hoping she'd say spag bol or lasagne!  So, it was roast pork on 23rd, roast turkey on Christmas Eve (so hubby could have his traditional turkey on toast with ketchup for breakfast on Christmas Day) and roast beef on Christmas Day.  We've managed three roast-potato-free days since the 25th though and tonight it might be pasta.

There's been some knitting going on around here as well.  I've finished off both the James C Brett chunky sweater, and my Volna scarf.  This is mainly thanks to the world Darts championship, which hubby insists on watching at every opportunity.  As he's busy watching probably the least attractive men to grace the TV screen throw 3 pointy things at a round thing (I actually do enjoy the odd game of darts, but it's not really a spectator sport) and therefore doesn't need to have a conversation with me, it means I get to knit for a couple of hours, which is a rarity unless the girls are at school, hubby's at work and there are no cats in the garden to mock and upset the dogs.

Volna needs soaking and blocking, but I put the sweater in the washing machine on a wool cycle, then laid it out in the airing cupboard.  I'll put up some photos here and on my Ravelry page next week once the girls are back at school, especially as Daughter #2 has taken a shine to my camera and wants to use it whenever she sees it, or wants to dance around singing loudly while I video her.

Until then, Happy New Year and may 2011 be either stash-reducing or stash-enhancing, depending on how you look on knitterly life.  Me?  I'm going for the reduction option, especially as I've now taken to stowing my stash in the en-suite bathroom (the shower's broken, so we don't use it but use the main bathroom instead).  Heaven help me if hubby decides that this spring is going to be the one where he decides to get it fixed as I'll have to find somewhere else.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Mainly a Progress Report

I haven't done a huge amount of knitting this week.  There always seems to be so much to do in the run-up to Christmas.  Not just the shopping (although that's definitely time-consuming whether it's going out to the shops, or ordering over the Internet) but card-writing and other activities, especially where children are concerned.  Last week, C's school choir was singing in the annual carol concert at a local church so, as well as attending the lunchtime performance, I had to drop her off and then pick her up again that evening.  This week, it was R's school play on Tuesday morning.

A few hours have been taken up with decorating the Christmas tree (I don't think a single bauble or piece of tinsel was left in the box) and the lounge/dining room (all manner of brightly-coloured hanging foil decorations, shiny garlands and paper chains).

But, I have been doing some knitting and since last week I've finished off the body of my Marble sweater:

I have no idea how many rows I did for the body, but it comes to lower hip level.  I just kept knitting round and round until I finished the first 200g ball of  yarn.

I also knitted a sleeve.
Using EZ's percentage system, I cast on 31 stitches and joined them in the round (I always cast on one extra stitch than I need and then knit the first and last together at the end of the first round), and then used her increase methodology of two stitches increased every five rows.  This makes it easy to remember when to increase - basically, on every row that ends in a 5 or 0.  I increased up to 50 stitches and then worked straight until the sleeve was long enough.  This was 90 rows.  12 stitches put on waste yarn for the under-arm and the rest on another piece of waste yarn, ready to be joined onto the body once the second sleeve's finished (as you can see from the photo, I've made a start on it - I think I've done 20 rows or so).

I can't decide if I prefer making seamless sweaters and cardigans from the bottom up or top down.  Both have their advantages.  With top down, if you knit the sleeves before the body, you can make the body as long as you want, or until your yarn runs out.  With bottom up, you get the bulk of the knitting out of the way before doing the decreasing part of the yoke.  Plus, decreasing the stitches up to the neck (on a raglan or round yoke) means you're working on fewer and fewer stitches, which means the rows knit up more quickly.

Anyway, that's about it.  It's the end of school for both girls today and I think both of them are feeling the effects of a long and busy term and will appreciate not having to get up so early (except on Christmas Day!).  Cara will be 11 next week and is definitely a pre-teen.  She suddenly seems to have gone from being an early-riser (6am-ish) to having to be roused in the morning to get up and ready for school.  Rianna's a different kettle of fish.  Autistic people often have skewed sleep patterns and she certainly fits the mould, not going to sleep until 10pm-ish at the earliest and then not wanting to get up in the morning, plus often being up in the middle of the night.

I also need to visit my parents today.  I bought the birthday present they're giving Cara so need to drop it off so they (well, Mum) can wrap it up.  It's a beginner weaving loom, which I hope she'll like.  She's tried knitting and crochet and can do both, but patience is thin on the ground for children of her age and the results weren't quick enough for her so I hope she gets on better with the loom.  I also need to deliver the two pairs of trousers I shortened for Dad yesterday and the socks I knitted for Mum.  She bought the sock yarn in Lidl and I made up the pattern myself.  They're toe-up with a plain foot, gusset heel and a k4 p2 ribbed cuff, which I staggered so it forms a sort of V.  For the cuff, I did k1, p2.
The colour's not that exciting but at £3.99 for 4 x 50g balls of sock yarn, you can't expect too much I suppose.  I'll probably make her another pair in something prettier for her birthday in May.

Not sure if I'll find the time to make another blog post next Friday as it's Christmas Eve and, as well as Cara's birthday on 23rd, it's hubby's on 22nd, so if I don't, may I taken this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Friday, 10 December 2010

WIP and FO Round-Up

It's been one of those weeks where I seem to have been busy, but with nothing to show at the end of it - I'm sure you all know what I mean.  I often feel this when I've had a week where I've had to do more shopping than usual.  Living in the smallest town in England means that if I want more than just the basics, I have to travel to another town - usually Colchester or Harwich/Dovercourt.  Hubby asked me the other day if I'd drop off his suit at the dry cleaner.  Fine.  Not a problem.  Except the dry cleaner we use is in Dovercourt, which is 11 miles away.  By the time I've driven there, parked, gone to the dry cleaner and then back to the car, at least an hour has passed, usually longer as I try to fit in other things to make the journey worthwhile (there's a Lidl in Harwich - mmm Christmas Gingerbread etc).  Such is life, but I don't mind as it's a nice place to live.

On the crafting front, I didn't think I'd made much progress with anything, but having taken some photos this morning, I've proved myself wrong.

First off, with the Volna scarf, I've progressed a bit.  I'm find this a time-consuming scarf to knit.  The pattern needs attention and the yarn's a bit slippery, but the end result will be worth it, and that's the main thing.

Three full repeats to date and I'm hoping to get 8 or 9 repeats in total. 

I also cast on for the James C Brett Marble Chunky sweaters, using Elizabeth Zimmermann's 'percentage' recipe from "Knitting Without Tears".  At a tension/gauge of 15sts per 4", I've cast on 150 stitches for the body, which will give me a sweater of 40".  So far, I've done 30-odd rounds and it's easy TV knitting although I have to take care to keep an eye as it's easy to split this plied yarn.

A closer-up pic of the way the yarn's striping and marbling (I'm rather pleased with the effect):

I've also been doing some spinning and here are some FOs (I'm calling them FOs because it takes me less time to knit a pair of socks than it does to spin 100g of fibre into something resembling yarn).  Hubby bought me an Ashford Traveller (which I named Betty) for Christmas last year and I've slowly been learning how to spin with it.  I'm a very slow spinner and there are days when I end up despairing that I'll ever get the hang of it, especially if I get distracted and break the strand so I have to attach a new bit of 'fluff'.  However, a couple of weeks ago I finished Navajo plying some pretty peach fibre that I got from my friend Lucy (Bearium on Ravelry).  It's 102g and made (from memory as my notebook's upstairs and I've been up and down the stairs all morning) approx 200 metres, which I think makes it a worsted weight.  Not sure what I'll make from it - maybe a feather & fan neckwarmer/cowl.

I also finished spinning some merino/silk mix which I bought months ago from The Alpaca Spinner, plied it earlier this week and it's now been soaked this morning and is hanging up to dry.  It's the Peppercorn shade and I'm very pleased with how it's turned out.  This is more of a light DK weight.  Just under 250m and about 94g (I don't think I weighed the two halves of the fibre correctly, so there's still some on one of the bobbins).  I two-plied this.

Do you like my Niddy-Noddy?  I made it from some waste pipe and t-connectors I got in B&Q.  Cost me a few £ and about half-an-hour of my time (I didn't even try to find the hacksaw from the garage - I use the bread knife!).

So, nothing exciting really, but I want to keep the momentum going and make a post once a week or so otherwise I'll never get round to it.

Ooh - nearly forgot.  I ordered and received in the post yesterday a copy of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's "Free-Range Knitter" and started reading it yesterday evening.  Enjoying it very much so far - I enjoy reading Stephanie's blog and the book's written in the same friendly, chatty style.

Friday, 3 December 2010

I learned to knit when I was 6.....

.... and I'm now 45, so you'd think that I'd have learned to read a chart, check the symbols, etc, etc.

Or perhaps not.  I was halfway up the first of a pair of Grove Mittens (from Jared Flood's "Made in Brooklyn" booklet) when it dawned on me that I'd done the cuff wrong.  Admittedly, I'm used to a . to denote a purl stitch on a chart and, on this particular one, purls were represented by a blank square, but I'd made a mental note of that.  Obviously it went straight out of my head.  Anyway, on every other row, I was supposed to do k1tbl, p1.  I did k1tbl, k1.  I had a look at the cuff and tried on the mitten (I was Magic Looping so that wasn't difficult to do once I'd pushed the stitches onto the cable) and thought it looked ok, so carried on and did the same on the second mitten.

Anyway, they were a quick knit (only 50 rounds per mitten, plus cuff and thumb) and are finished.

The yarn is King Cole Merino Blend Superwash DK in Emerald Green.  It's a yarn I can see myself using again.  Nice and springy; soft and smooth to knit with.  I used my 4mm KnitPro Harmony tips for these, but it may be the last outing for them as they've got a bit scratched with use and aren't as smooth as they were.  Not sure whether or not to get another set, or to use the Spectra (acrylic) or Nova (metal) 4mm tips I've got.

I've also got another Jared Flood FO to show off!  This is the Guernsey Wrap.  Mr F designed this pattern to be made with his Shelter yarn (worsted weight and I'd love some, but can't justify the cost, plus postage costs, plus customs and PO charges).  I made mine using some yarn that's spun in Cornwall from the fleeces of a local flock of sheep (local as in the next village along from us - about 3 miles away).  The yarn's DK, so I knew the wrap wouldn't be as wide as the original, or as long, so I modified the pattern, doing three full repeats of the first and third charts, which also meant that the scarf's mirrored which the original isn't.

The yarn's a bit hairy, but I blocked it after giving it a soak in some water to which I'd added hair conditioner and I think it'll be fine.  Nice and warm for this current cold spell of weather.  I'm hoping that no cold winds are going to get past this one!

I'm now back to knitting on my Volna scarf and trying to not cast on the James C Brett chunky for my 'sloppy Joe' sweater.  Well.... maybe I should just knit a swatch so I can work out tension and then do the calculations for it.

Until next time..