Saturday, 19 February 2011

A Stash-Busting Hat

I came across a pattern the other day via Wendy Johnson's blog and liked the look of it.  It's the Starving Artist hat by Laura Linneman as is knitted in chunky/bulky weight yarn.  The pattern states US 10.5 needles, which is 6.5mm, but I decided to use 6mm instead to make it a bit smaller and so more child-sized.  I had some Sirdar Click Chunky left over from making my Shalom cardigan last year, so cast on at knitting group yesterday morning and spent another hour and a half when I got home finishing it off, just in time to collect DD1 from school (not something I usually do, but she was hit on the nose by a hockey stick during a PE lesson on Weds and is a bit battered, bruised and feeling slightly fragile, hence me walking with her to and from school).  Anyway, here are pics of the hat.  Not particularly good photos as I couldn't think of anything to model it on (although thinking about it, a plate might have done.

I'll probably make another of these as I've got some chunky-weight handspun I made from some purple and gold merino yarn and then plied together and I think the simple ribbing of this pattern will work with the yarn.  If I could find the notebook where I write down details of the yarn I've spun, I'd know if I've got enough.  In any case, if I make this again, I'll make it a bit longer (I guesstimated this time round) before starting the decrease rounds.
On the subject of knitting groups, I go to two.  On a Monday, I got to one in a village just outside Colchester, which is held in a local pub.  On a Friday (although not every Friday - it depends on what I've got going on that week) I go to a group held in Dedham, a village a few miles from my house, which is (again) held in a pub!

Anyway, last Friday I stopped the car as I had my camera with me and took a photo of the view as I drive down the valley into Dedham.  Pretty, isn't it.  On the other side of the road are fields.  Lots of fields!  It's not a bad place to live!

Anyway, it's back to knitting on the Burridge Lake Aran Afghan.  I had a bit of a glitch with it the other day when I realised that I'd been a bit over-ambitious in trying to knit cables (following three separate charts) while watching TV and getting distracted by one husband, two children and two dogs and had made a mistake about 18 rows further back, which led to me firmly telling everyone that interruptions would NOT be appreciated while I ripped back and picked up the stitches again.  I'm just about up to the point where I realised the mistake and after another eight rows, I'll be halfway through the centre panel (hurrah!).  I'm trying to knit at least eight rows a day on this otherwise it'll get put back upstairs and forgotten about for another few months and I really do want to get this finished by the autumn.

That's about it really.  Nothing of particular note, or excitement, except that I'm now counting down the days until we get our new car.  We've currently got a silver Fiesta which is coming to the end of its lease (hubby's company has a very good car scheme which means we're able to change cars every couple of years) and on 10 March, we should take delivery of a shiny new white Nissan Juke.  It's a car that, when I first saw it advertised on TV, I thought "I'd  like one of those" and my lovely hubby ordered one, even though it's not really a manly type of car (but he has his Renault Kangoo van to drive anyway!).  I went off with the girls a few Tuesdays ago to DD1's swimming lesson thinking that hubby was going to be ordering another Fiesta, but white and when we got home, he told me he'd changed his mind and ordered a Juke instead.  It's moments like these that remind me why I married him!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

WIP Show and Tell

I haven't got any new FOs to show off, but have been making progress on some of my WIPs.

My Burridge Lake Afghan is a real labour of... well, not love exactly, but definitely like.  I think it's because it's such a big item to be making (about 2kg of yarn) and because it's heavily cabled, each patterned row needs attention and I also find that my hands get a bit achey after a while.  I'm still plodding on with it though and it'll be worth the time and effort involved once it's finished (which will probably be in another year, as it's taken me nearly two years to get this far).  I think if I keep it in sight, I'll knit on it more.  The first panel's finished and I've done five of 16 repeats of the middle panel.  Then, the another side panel's knitted, reversing the cables on the first one before the three strips are sewn together and a top and bottom border added (which I'm going to knit on rather than sew on).

The yarn for this is Paton's Diploma Aran in a natural beige colour and the cables are very crisp.  What look like cotton wool balls in the background are, I'm afraid, the result of our 15 month old labrador (Jess) attacking her bed yet again and pulling out the stuffing.

Next up is the other blanket I'm making - my Granny Stripe one.  I bought the 'Lucy' yarn pack of Stylecraft Special DK from Masons (very good service - I'll use them again) and then added one extra colour; a pale yellow.  So far, I've done one colour repeat, plus a couple of rows and I'm really enjoying it.  I've decided to repeat the colour sequence so I use up the colours evenly. 

I also started a cardigan a couple of weeks ago.  I wrote about the yarn that was misbehaving and pooling horribly.  First off, I tried it with a plain cardigan from a pattern dating from the 1960s, but that didn't work out.  Then, I thought I'd use the yarn to make a Tempest cardigan, but the yarn didn't want to be a Tempest and even though I alternated balls, it kept blobbing (that's the best word I can come up with for the effect).  So, I went back to the February Lady Sweater pattern which I've used three times before, did some simple maths and worked out that using this yarn which is a heavy 4ply/light DK on 4mm needles, the directions for the largest size in the pattern would result in a cardigan to fit me (well, I hope so anyway).  So far, I've done the garter stitch yoke, put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn and am now on the body.  I'm not doing the lace pattern of the original cardigan, but am doing stocking stitch instead.  A bit mindless, but good TV knitting.  I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to put buttons/buttonholes all the way down the front, or if I'm just going to have three on the yoke.  When I get to the next buttonhole row I'll make a decision.

Finally, I've started another pair of plain socks.  Patterned socks, especially lacy ones, aren't appealing to me at the moment.  I've got a pair on the needles in a lovely pink yarn, but I keep passing them by.  These spring-like socks are to my usual toe-up recipe and are in some Opal Rainforest yarn called Baronesse Bambolina.  They're knitting up very prettily and the colours certainly brighten up these dreary February days.

So, that's it for now.  I've also got my Kadril Orenberg lace scarf which I've put away for now until I can print out a better quality copy of the pattern as my printer was on its last legs when I first downloaded the pattern and the copy's a bit fuzzy and is difficult to read.

That's all for now.  I suppose I'd better actually do some knitting or crocheting, rather than just typing about it!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Yummy Sock Yarn.....

.... that's actually made it from skein to needles to being ready to keep my feet warm.

I admit that I'm guilty of hoarding nice sock yarn.  I see a skein, think how lovely it looks,  buy it and then put it away with the other skeins of lovely sock yarn and then, when it comes to knitting myself a pair of sock, often bypass the lovely stuff and go with something else such as Regia (which is nice, but not 'lovely' - I'm sure you know what I mean).

So, a sort-of resolution for 2011 is to knit up the yummy yarns as well as the workaday ones.  I don't mind hand-washing socks as it doesn't take long.  Just pop them in the sink with some warm water and some shampoo, swirl them about a bit then leave them for however long it takes to make and drink a cup of tea.  Socks then out of the sink into the bathtub where they're rinsed using the shower attachment and then back into the sink which now has water and a blob of hair conditioner in it.  Then it's the squeezing in a towel thing before the socks are hung over the slats that make up the bottom shelf of the airing cupboard where they quite happily dry out without further intervention from me.  It sounds a bit of a faff when it's written down, but it's not really.

Anyway, having had four pairs of socks develop holes over the course of a fortnight, it was time to knit new socks for me, so I turned to the yummy yarn bag of yarn and first wound the skein of Outrageous sock yarn from Laughing Yaffle into a ball and away I went. 

These were the result, finished a couple of weeks ago:

Then, I cast on with some sock yarn from Fyberspates and made these:

Both pairs are made using a 2mm metal KnitPro circular and are 64 stitches round as I find that makes a nice, firmish fabric that wears well.  The Outrageous pair are slightly shorter in the leg than the Rhubarb pair.

Ooh, that reminds me.  I don't know if anyone else out there does this, but I always keep track of how many rows I've knitted for the foot and then the leg so I can make each sock exactly the same and I also make the ribbing one quarter the number of rows that I've knitted for the leg.  So, in the case of the Outrageous socks, that was 60 rounds for the leg and 15 rounds of ribbing and for the Rhubarb socks, 64 rounds for the leg and 16 rounds of ribbing.  Others I know knit until they've got x inches or cms rather than counting rows.  Maybe I'm odd!

Onto the next pair of socks now.  I've got 2 balls of Nature Spun fingering yarn - one blue and one jade green - and I'm going to use the Ulmus shawl/stole pattern on the instep and legs.  Just got to do a bit of maths and scribbling on paper to balance the pattern across the stitches.

In the meantime, there's always crocheting to be done on my Granny Stripe blanket (I'll post a picture once I've done one colour repeat) and the cardigan I'm making with the purpley-pink yarn that keeps misbehaving (that deserves a post all to itself!).