Thursday, 26 May 2011

From Sheep to Shawl

Not that I did the shearing, washing, scouring or carding, and my friend Lucy did the dyeing of this BFL (I think it's BFL - I really should make a note if there's no label to remind me).

I started with this:

It took me about a week to get to this:

Another day to get to here:

And then it took me five days to knit it up into this:

And a closer-up shot of the stitch pattern:

The pattern is Multnomah (Ravelry link) by Kate Elsa and is an easy pattern to knit.  There are increases on every row at the edges and every other row at the middle, the eyelets formed by the yarn-over increases separated by a five-stitch garter spine which I like very much as it's a bit different from the usual one-stitch spine and I think works well with the feather and fan bottom part of the shawlette. 

This was my first time doing fractal spinning which is where the fibre is split in half lengthwise and one half spun from start to finish so there are very long colour repeats.  The other half is split further - I split into four lengths of fibre - so that when the yarn's two-plyed together, you get a very nice tweedy effect a bit like Crazy Zauberballe.  This was also the thinnest yarn I've spun since I got my wheel (named Betty - she's an Ashford Traveller) for Christmas 2009 and I ended up with 382 metres, so I've been feeling rather pleased with myself.

Feather and fan is a pain to try to block out though!

I also finished a pair of socks this morning which I started at the beginning of February.  Shameful.

So, I've now cast on a Deco cardigan (a Kate Davies pattern - she's the lady who designed the very popular Owls sweater).  I'm using Wendy Mode DK in red and am using 3mm needles as called for in the pattern as a firmish fabric is aimed for to show of the slipped stitch pattern.

I'm still plodding away on my Shale baby blanket though - that's good TV knitting.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

In which I've finished something


I thought I'd do a bit of a 'where I'm at' post today.  Craft-wise, I've been doing more spinning than knitting over the last few days and will show you the results if I'm happy with them!!

On the knitting and crochet front, I've joined in the One Bag-Along (or is it 1Bag) on the Phoenix forum and have used some pinky-purple Patons DK cotton that's been knitted a bit then frogged a couple of times (I'm not that keen on it and am sure I only bought it because it was a Very Good Bargain).  I've used the Attic24 crochet bag pattern, but have done a slightly different stitch on the body of the bag.  I'd nearly done one strap when I had a look at it and realised that my foundation chain was too tight, so have frogged it and will re-do it with a bit more care this time.  I forgot to take a photo earlier so will make a mental note to do a show and tell on that next time.

In the entry before last, I mentioned a Kemps order.  Well, that arrived and I cast on for the Little Peacocks cropped, short-sleeved cardigan that afternoon.  It only took me just over a week in total.  I'm pleased with the way it's come out:

I pressed it under a damp cloth, but haven't wet-blocked it and think I'm going to use a skinny needle to even out some of the fans as well.

The yarn is Patons Linen Touch and was £1.29 per 50g ball.  It's the Coral colour.

Here's a pic (exposure's horrible I'm afraid) of the stitch pattern:

Best of all, the Tuesday after I'd started knitting the cardigan, I went to the new Asda supermarket in Dovercourt, which is 10-12 miles away from my house.  It was the second time I'd been in there since it opened and I hadn't looked at the clothing department on my first visit.  I was pleasantly surprised because it's not one of those humungous hypermarkets, but a decent size for a smallish town.  The clothing part of the store was much bigger than I was expecting and whilst I was looking through the aisles, on the lookout for school trousers for DD1, I spotted a floral dress.  The Asda website lists it as a 'tea dress'.  It reaches just below her knees, has a lined skirt and short sleeves and... well, here's a picture with the cardigan over the top:

The colour of the poppies on the dress match the colour of the cardigan.  As you can see, that dress was put into my shopping trolley pretty smartish.  It's cotton, has a cotton-lined skirt - and cost £6 (DD1's 11).  It makes a nice addition to her summer wardrobe (although the weather's a bit grey and bleurgh today) and will be a good outfit for her holiday with grandparents in August.

I've also swatched for the Deco cardigan.  My tension's slight out - the pattern says 26 sts per 4", but I'm getting slightly over 25, but if I knit the 36" size, that'll give me a bit of ease.  I'm reluctant to go down a needle size as a. it'll make the fabric too firm and b. I'm getting row tension.  The pattern suggests a heavy 4-ply, sport-weight or lighter DK yarn and I've gone for Wendy Mode (the other Kemps purchase) in scarlet red.  I'm resisting the temptation to cast on the cardigan though as I've got what seem to be a never-ending pair of socks on the needles and also a blanket.  This one:

It's the Shale Baby Blanket by Jared Flood.  Written for worsted/aran weight yarn, I'm using Cygnet Kiddies 100% acrylic DK in yellow (I wonder if I'll be kicked off the Brooklyn Tweed group on Ravelry!!!) so have done an extra two pattern repeats.  

The pattern looks much more complicated than it is as the feather & fan and eyelet 'cable' are done every fourth row and the other three rows are just 'knit the knits; purl the purls' rows.  It'll be about 80cm wide when it's finished and given a light press and I'm just over halfway through as I've got four 100g balls of the yarn and started the third one a couple of days ago.
I suppose I'd better stop thinking about crafting stuff and get back into Mum mode now, otherwise I'll have two hungry children on my hands. 

Until next time, take care :)

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Male and Female Hobbies

Hubby decided a couple of months ago that he fancied making home-made wine.  So off he trotted (well, drove) to a local home-brew place and came home armed with various gizmos and gadgets, plus some tins of grape concentrate.

Being male, this new hobby has obviously taken up lots of his time at home and I've listened to hours of talk about how it's made, what grape variety is being used for this batch as well as hearing the 'blomp, blomp' of fermentation every time I go upstairs as he's using the spare bedroom/office as his home-brewing base.

Wine-making is obviously a Very Technical Activity and I've had to bite my tongue on several occasions when I've wanted to get to the sink for various reasons (the least of which is that it's close to the cooker and we all need to eat) but there are various bits and pieces being sterlilised in there.

Still, some of the wine he's made is of the 'drinkable after four weeks' variety and truth be told, is rather nice to slurp.

However, last Sunday he took the biscuit.  I'd been knitting on DD1's Little Peacock cardigan (more on that in a few days as it won't be long before it's finished) and had got up several times to help hubby as he was doing something with one of the wines he's making in quantity (something like 30 litres) and a tub containing that volume of liquid is not only heavy, but a bit unwieldy.  He'd been up and down the stairs countless times since mid-morning and it was now mid-afternoon and I admit that DD1 and I had exchanged wry looks on more than one occasion as hubby told us what stage he was at, what he was going to do next, etc.  Having been asked to come and assist yet again, I let out a sigh, put down my knitting and went into the kitchen.  Obviously I hadn't got my helpful look properly in place because I was told "don't bother - go back and do your knitting - I've only been working all day".  WORKING?!!!!  I couldn't let that one pass, so I told him that wine-making was not 'working', it's a hobby, as is my knitting.  Then I went and did a few more rows!

I've also been reminded that some of the wines he's making are ones I particularly like (Sauvignon Blanc, for example), so I've retaliated by reminding him that I've offered to knit him something, but he's declined the offer.  I won't remind him that when he has a snooze on the sofa on a Saturday afternoon, it's often one of the blankets I've made or the patchwork quilt I made that he pulls over himself: after all, I'm beyond that type of petty behaviour :lol:

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Versatile Blogger

Mara at Fantasia Yarns has nominated me for a blogging award, which is very nice.

The brief is to list seven things about me that you might not know and nominate five other blogs.

So, here goes with my seven things:

1.  I am left-handed, which means I knit and crochet in a way that my mother has described as "cack-handed".

2.  I'm not a very good, or enthusiastic gardener.

3.  I have no curtains up at my lounge window.  We recently put up new net curtains and I've shortened the proper curtains so they'll fit, but am waiting for hubby to put up the rail.  He was going to do it last week, but his drill has broken, so it's been postponed yet again.

4.  My hair is not naturally the colour it is.

5.  I can't bear liver - not even to touch so my husband, who loves it, only gets to eat it if he cooks it himself when I'm at work on a Saturday evening.

6.  I don't really 'get' Facebook, even though I've got an account.  Generally speaking, I use it to play games.

7.  I should exercise more than I do (dog walking's about as good as it gets).

Now, I have to nominate five other blogs and I've decided on these ones:

Clicky Needles

Knitting for Sanity

Confessions of a Graveyard Gypsy

Yarnaholics Not So Anonymous

Ozzy Blackbeard Knits

Most of these people I 'know' from the Phoenix Knitters web forum.

Busy, busy, busy

I'm sitting here this morning with Radio 2 playing in the background and two dogs asleep on the sofa.

This means that after about four weeks of holidays and "working at home" days, I have the house back!

Hubby's been between projects at work, so hasn't been commuting into London as what he had that needed to be done could be done from home.  He's now going to be Very Busy between now and September though and will probably be away for a night or three at a time.  Talk about feast and famine!

The girls were off school for two weeks for the Easter break, followed by a few days back and then the long weekend for the Royal Wedding (wasn't it lovely?) and May Day bank holiday, so my time has been taken up with them. 

I, of course, working my two five-hour shifts at a local small supermarket, didn't have any time off, and even worked on Easter Sunday (which was very, very busy as we were the only shop open in the area).

So, today I'm going to do only Things That Must Be Done and the rest of the time I'm going to have to myself.  I've been knitting Jared Flood's Shale Baby Blanket (Ravelry link) so will probably do some of that and may even switch on the TV to catch up on some programmes I recorded as there was little hope of watching anything all the way through (especially as DD2 has a bit of a Spongebob thing going on at the moment, so switches over to Nickelodeon as soon as anyone's back is turned, hoping to find an episode to watch!).  I'm making the Shale blanket in yellow Cygnet Kiddies DK, so have cast on an extra couple of repeats.  The pattern's a four-row repeat, with only one row of patterning, so can get a bit tedious at times, if I'm honest, but it does look nice.  I've got four balls of this yarn, so shall just keep going until it runs out.  When it's finished, it'll go into my bag of knits for a charity that sends knitted items to Romania for orphans and street kids.

In the meantime, I'm waiting for an order from Kemps Woolshop .  I saw a pattern the other day via my friends page on Ravelry (I think it was a pattern Terri had 'faved') and decided I'd like to make it.  It's Deco (Ravelry link) by Kate Davies and the yarn recommendations are heavy 4-ply/sport/lightweight DK.  I've got some Ethical Twist in stash (bought from Kemps when it was on offer) but I've also ordered some scarlet Wendy Mode DK as I fancy a red cardigan so shall swatch to see how both yarns knit up on the 3mm needles the pattern recommends.  I also ordered some Patons Linen Touch in the coral colourway to knit a summer shrug-type cardigan for my daughter.  She's going on holiday with one set of grandparents in July/August and doesn't have any summer cardigans.  We've chosen the Little Peacock (another Rav link) pattern which is a freebie from Knotions and has a pretty peacock tail/fan pattern throughout.  DD1 turned 11 at the end of last year and is developing into a young lady now, so children's patterns don't always work for her, especially since we did chest/bust-measuring last week and decided that with a bit of room for growth, I need to knit for a 32" chest/bust for her now.  It doesn't seem that long ago that I was knitting baby/toddler cardigans for her.

The Little Peacock will be the next thing I cast on for so it's done in plenty of time for her holiday.

Hopefully, but my next entry I'll have received the yarn and cast on and will be over halfway on the Shale blanket.  There might even be photos!!

See you soon :)