Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 Review

So, another year ends and I thought I'd look back over things I've finished during 2011.

I've even made a mosaic:

In total, thats:

- 7 scarves or shawls
- 4 pairs of socks (one pair I didn't photograph)
- 4 Baby Surprise Jackets and 2 February Baby cardigans
- 1 hat
- 2 adult-sized cardigans
- 1 cardigan for DD1
- 3 blankets (2 knitted, 1 crocheted)
- 1 crocheted bag
- 4 crocheted cushion covers
- various crocheted dish/wash cloths

These finished items total 20,807 metres of yarn.

Not bad going, even if I do say so myself.

Happy New Year to you all and may 2012 bring everything you hope for :)

Saturday, 24 December 2011

On Top of Things

This Christmas, because I'm working this evening from 5pm until 10pm when the store where I work closes (a Whole Hour Early - so I've got to go in an hour earlier than usual!) we've had to have Things done so that hubby isn't a grumpy bah humbug when I get home because he's had to spend the whole evening wrapping presents, cleaning up and then getting the children to bed.  So, the presents are wrapped, the turkey will be defrosted in time to go in the oven at lunchtime tomorrow so we can eat late afternoon/early evening, the bathrooms have been cleaned, there's a ham steam-baking in the oven (it's 4kg+ and I didn't have a saucepan or stockpot big enough for it to bubble away on the hob so it's in a large roasting pan in the oven, with water in the bottom and the tray covered in foil), I've even cleaned out the fridge.  All that needs doing now is a general tidy up in the lounge and the vaccuum cleaner to be pushed around downstairs.  Hubby will bring presents down later, once both girls are asleep.  It's lovely, not feeling overly pressured on Christmas Eve!

The only thing I'm not sure about is this:
It's hubby's (not often used) exercise bike and it's in the dining room.  It may have to be wheeled into the hallway tomorrow once my in-laws arrive for the day!

Here's a photo of our 'forest' of trees.  The big tree is the same one we've used for a few years now (decorated by the girls - I leave them to get on with it).  The small tree usually sits either in the hall or in DD1's bedroom, but my mother-in-law bought the green foil trees for us this year and we thought it would be nice to have all the trees together in one area of the lounge.
I've even finished knitting the Hitchhiker scarf for my mother-in-law's birthday present.  Her birthday's 2 Jan and I wanted to get this finished, washed, blocked and wrapped before Christmas, which I've achieved.  It's a nice pattern and is a fairly simple, straightfoward eight-row repeat.  The yarn is a skein of Unicorn I bought a couple of years ago from Fyberspates.  It's no longer available as it was a special yarn for a 2009 club run by Fyberspates and The Natural Dye Studio and is 70% baby llama, 20% cashmere and 10% silk.  I chose the pattern because it doesn't really need to be blocked after washing but can be laid out flat or lightly steamed.  I thought it would  be a bit off giving the scarf as a present along with an A4 sheet of paper giving detailed instructions for blocking!

Some photos:
 It's quite wide, but not overly deep, which I like.

It's started at one edge with stitches increased during each eight-row pattern repeat until you either have enough yarn for one more repeat plus enough to cast off, or you think it's long enough.  Then, you cast off and the cast off is the other diagonal edge of the scarf.  This means the two diagonal edges aren't symmetrical, but I like that as well.
 Once it's rolled up to make wrapping easier, it looks nice!
Increasing at the neck edge on each row gives a nice, gentle curve to the scarf.  I like this too!

The yarn was, on the whole, pretty well behaved and for the most part striped nicely, with only one patch of pooling in the centre.  However, as the yarn's dyed in three shades of blue, the contrast isn't severe and I think it works.

Can you tell I'm pleased with the way it's turned out?  I hope mother-in-law does as well as I've never made anything for her. 

All it leaves me to say is *Merry Christmas* and, if I don't manage another post next week, *Happy New Year*.  I'm hoping (once the girls are back at school) to get all my FO photos together in a mosaic, together with stats of how much yarn used, etc during 2010.  In the meantime, I'll be carrying on with DD2's ripple blanket.  It's about halfway there!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Simple City Shawlette

I finished the knitting part of this a couple of weeks ago, but didn't get round to blocking it until a couple of days ago. 

The pattern's Simple City by Mimi Hill (Eskimimi) but I'm not sure if it's still available to buy as she doesn't have  her website any more.

The yarn's Rico Design Superba Poems which is a fingering weight yarn with long colour repeats, a bit like Zauberballe.  I wound the yarn into two equal-sized balls and alternated the balls, knitting two rows with the first ball and then two rows with the second.  The yarn was supposed to be 100g, but when I weighed it so I could divide it equally, my scales came in at 130g, which was a bit of a bonus!

I used 3.5mm needles for this and ended up with a decent-sized triangular scarf.  If I made it again, I'd go up to 4mm needles with this yarn as it doesn't drape as much as I thought it would.  The yarn's a bit thick and thin in places and was a bit rough to knit with, so I don't think I'd use it for socks.

The scarf design is fairly easy.  It's garter stitch for the main part and then the foxglove edging is done by increasing every other row, although you do end up with lots and lots of stitches per row.  When I was blocking it, I couldn't get the foxgloves to sit up, but as the scarf dried (I ran some cotton  yarn along the top edge but didn't pin out the other edges) they popped up a bit more and, although they're not all exactly the same, I'm pleased with the overall result.
The photos were taken on my bed this morning and the light downstairs was particularly bad, so sorry for the wrinkly background!

I've just weighed the finished scarf and it's 120g.

I've also finished knitting the blue Hitchhiker scarf and just need to sew in the ends and block it, although it's not going to need a great deal of blocking.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

A Very Special School Christmas Production

Yesterday was 'our' day to go and see the Christmas production at my younger daughter's school.  When I say 'our' day, that's because due to the number of people who want to come and see it, they can't fit everyone in for a single performance, so there are three, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and the classes are allocated a day to go and watch. 

You see, DD2 is autistic and she attends a school for children with special needs.  It's in a village about nine miles from us and she gets picked up and dropped off by mini-bus along with six other children from our locale who go to the same school.  Unfortunately, the school was originally built to educate approx 80 children who wouldn't manage in a  mainstream school, but now has a approx 160 pupils - but the school's the same size.  It's a bit of a hot potato subject, as the school hasn't been made bigger or moved to bigger premises, but many of the pupils have portacabins as classrooms.  They're quite smart portacabins, but still......  There was even a story in the Daily Telegraph last week about it as the headteacher (who in my opinion is the type of person who should receive an OBE rather than someone who scored two goals for England) is Fed Up.

Anyway, yesterday, my parents, my mother-in-law, my older sister and I squeezed into the hall along with lots of other parents, grandparents and other people who wanted to come and watch and were entertained for a couple of hours by these special children, many of whom find every day a struggle to get through due to their varying disabilities and sensitivities.

Younger Daughter's class did a version of the nativity.  She was a mouse.  I sent in a pair of white trousers and a white t-shirt and ears on a headband were made, and facepaint was used for whiskers and a pink mousey nose!  She said her one line "I can't see for all these animals" in what I assume was her mouse voice, but didn't really want to join in with the first song.  For the second song though, she got hold of a microphone.  The teacher did attempt to get the microphone back, but my littl'un wasn't having any of it, so sat on the front of the 'stage' and sang the whole song into the microphone - drowning out all the other children.  She wasn't allowed the microphone for the third song, so had a paddy and was taken back to the classroom! 

What's so good about this school is that such behaviour is accepted as par for the course.  A teacher in a mainstream school may have been embarrassed or got cross with a child whipping away a microphone (that would have been the case at DD1's primary school). At this school, they accept that there are some things that can't be managed without a great deal of fall-out and upheaval and if it's not going to be that much of a problem, they just let things ride for a while. 

It was a lovely morning and there was a fair bit of sniffling and tissue-use, especially at the end when one of the senior boys announced that the next class on would be singing "Feed the World" for all those less fortunate than they are.  That's food for thought.

There were two raffles.  One, for a signed photograph of Sebastial Vettel (no idea who managed to get hold of that) raised £400-odd and the second, for various gifts such as hampers, spa vouchers, that type of thing, raised just under £1100, which was a fantastic effort from the PTA.

The event was filmed, so I'm hoping it's the version that will make it onto the DVD that parents can buy.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


I've started something new.  It's the Hitchhiker scarf by Martina Behm who has several patterns listed on Ravelry.  All other WIPs have been put to one side.  The reason?  The scarf is destined to be my mother-in-law's birthday present and her birthday's 2 January.  The yarn I'm using is Unicorn from Fyberspates, which I've mentioned before as it was a yarn produced for a joint-venture competition/yarn club between Jeni at Fyberspates and Amanda at The Natural Dye Studio.  A fingering-weight yarn, the fibre blend isn't specific on Ravelry, but if memory serves, it's 70% baby llama, 20% cashmere and 10% silk (or something like that).  Whatever, it's soft and I hope my mother-in-law will like it as I've never knitted anything for her before.  I spent a few hours looking for a suitable pattern and then saw Hitchhiker on Wendy Johnson's blog, so investigated further on Ravelry and decided that it would work.  One of the difficulties I find with knitting for other people is the after care.  I know that whilst my mother-in-law will be happy to hand-wash a scarf, blocking would be a different matter and if you're giving something as a gift to a non-knitter, it's a bit cheeky to include a sheet of blocking instructions in the package!  So, although I'll probably block Hitchhiker, it won't matter if it's not blocked after further washes.

The yarn's variegated in a subtle way and is knitting up nicely.  A bit of pooling here and there, but that seems to be coming out as stripes that move around the scarf rather than glaring blobs or flashes, so I hope it continues.  The scarf construction is interesting as well.   It starts with 2 stitches and for each 'tooth', 9 stitches are increased and 5 cast off, which means a stitch increase of 4 stitches per 'tooth' (it's an 8-row pattern repeat).  By the end of the knitting and it's time to cast off (determined by the amount of yarn available), the teeth form one side of the scarf and the cast off edge the other side.  Here's a photo of progress to date:

It curves nicely at the top edge and is easy knitting (garter stitch) but with some detail to retain interest.  I started off with 90g of yarn (I used 10g in a ripple blanket for my older daughter) and I've just weighed the ball on my digital kitchen scales and I've got 67g left, so I should get a decent-sized scarf.  I started it on 2 Dec, so if I continue at the same rate, that's averaging just under 6g of yarn a day, so it should be finished in a couple of weeks.

The weather here's bright and sunny, but the temperature has dropped considerably this week and there's been frost on the ground and cars when DD1 and I leave the house at 7.20am to walk to the station so she can get the train to school.  I'm trying to resist putting on the heating during the day if it's just me at home, so I've been washing winter jumpers and layering up.  If it's still cold at the weekend, I'll even be breaking out my vests when I go to work as last weekend every time the door opened, a cold draught wafted across the shop straight at me!  I buy small-sized men's vests from Marks & Spencer as they're longer than the ones in the women's department, even though they're not the most attractive item of clothing I own!  Hubby laughs, but if I'm cold, I'm grumpy!

I'm off now to hopefully get another few repeats of Hitchhiker done before lunch, at which time I'll probably have another laundry load to iron and the dishwasher to empty (I forgot to put it on last night - whoops!).

Thursday, 1 December 2011

What were they thinking?

The yarn colourway design team at Rico that is.

They came up with what I think is quite possibly the most ugly yarn I've ever seen.  It's Rico Creative Micro DK in the 001 (Rainbow iirc) colourway.  100% microfibre, which is what made me buy it as I'd never used microfibre before.  I bought 3 balls, in different colourways to make dishcloths.  The yarn is smooth, soft and makes great dishcloths - being microfibre, they do their job well and are much quicker to dry than cotton.


Do I need to say more?  The first, smaller, square is crocheted doing 1 row of trebles then 2 rows of double crochet.  The circular cloth is made using Lucy at Attic24's circle pattern (with treble crochets) and the second, bigger, square is made using the Vintage Vertical Stripe blanket pattern (basically trebles, but you insert the hook between the stitches of the previous row rather than just in the chain bit right at the top of the previous row trebles).  This last cloth was made as a test piece to a blanket I'm planning on making at some time in the (not too distant, hopefully) future.

I did wonder if this yarn would look better knitted, but having looked at the project page for it on Ravelry, I don't think so.  In fact, one Raveller who used this colourway for an Ishbel shawl named it 'Catsick Ishbel' which I think is quite a good one.

Oh well, I'm sure the worktops won't object and if we really can't bear the sight of them in the kitchen, I'll relegate them to bathroom duties!!

The other colours I bought were a brown, purple, green and orange which striped up not too badly (but I still wouldn't want a garment from it) and one that I think is similar to this one, but has dark blue, pink and grey in it.  If it turns out to be another howler, I'll probably share it with you..... but if I'm feeling extra-kind, I might spare your eyes the torture!