Saturday, 22 December 2012

More Hats

December seems to have been a month for making hats.

A couple of weeks ago I met up with my older sister, Sonia, so we could sit down and have a cup of coffee in a local cafe as we hadn't seen each other for a while.  I wore my red, crocheted Lucy Cloche hat.  Sonia admired it and asked if I would make her one, in autumn colours, so I said that yes, I would.  A few days later, I went round to my parents' house and wore my hat.  My mother admired it and asked if I would make her one, to match her coat, which is navy blue and pink patterned, so I said that yes, I would!

I went home and ordered some appropriately-coloured yarn from Deramores and a few days later (because their customer service is so good) a package turned up. 

I started Sonia's hat last Monday at knitting group and by Tuesday night it was finished apart from sewing on the flower.  On Wednesday, I started my mother's hat and finished it off this morning.  Although I hadn't planned on making these as Christmas gifts (we don't exchange gifts between the adults on my side of the family), because they're both finished, I'm going to wrap them up in festive paper before handing them over.


I think they've come out rather well and I hope both ladies like them.

It's onwards to Christmas preparations now.  I'm sure that I'm like many of your out there who find the days leading up to Christmas rather busy and stressful.  There just seems to be so much to do and it all takes more time than I think it will.  I suddenly remembered this morning that I hadn't blocked the scarf I've made for hubby's stepmother, so that's now pinned out on mats on my bed and I hope it'll be dry by tonight.

There will be eight of us for Christmas lunch and dinner, so I'm busy making a shopping list, as well as a list of jobs that need doing.

Today is my husband's birthday and he got home from Manchester (where he's been working Mon-Fri for the last few weeks) two hours earlier than expected.  While it was lovely that he was home so soon, it did drive me into panic mode as I hadn't wrapped his birthday presents and they were lying on our bed with the intention that I'd do that job while the girls were eating their dinner.  Cue me rushing into the hall and giving him the rather startingly welcome of "don't go in the bedroom"!

Tomorrow is DD1's birthday (and I haven't wrapped her presents yet either) and I can't believe she'll be a teenager.  Where has the time gone?

I haven't wrapped Christmas presents either - can you spot a theme? - and I need to get on and do the ones for my nephews today so I can take them round to my parents' house tomorrow morning when I go and collect our Christmas Dinner turkey as my parents are at my sister's house on Christmas Eve.

I suppose I'd better get going and try and tick off some more of the tasks on my Jobs To Do list before I go off to work this evening.  Yes, I'm doing my usual two shifts at Tesco this weekend.  6pm-11.15pm this evening and 1pm-6pm tomorrow.  I'm anticipating that it will be very busy in the shop, especially tomorrow (it's a Tesco Express) as people rush about doing their last-minute shopping so they don't have to go out on Christmas Eve.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and that Father Christmas brings you lots of knitting things.  I'm hoping that he'll bring me some Brooklyn Tweed Loft yarn - I did ask hubby to pass on the website address for Loop London :D

Friday, 21 December 2012

Trumpet Blowing

I mentioned yesterday that I'd been doing some spinning.

I had 150g of some wool/nylon blend fibre (but I've lost the label and can't remember what breed of sheep the wool's from) so I took off 50g and put that away for future use:

I had a 100g 'bump' of some brown (moorit) Shetland roving:

I had 2 50g 'bumps' of Schoppel Fingerwolle pencil roving in Burnt Almond:

I spun each type of yarn into singles (bad photo due to poor light):

Then I put my jumbo flyer and bobbin on my wheel and gave my legs a good workout plying the three singles together (over the course of two days).  I'd intended to make two skeins of a similar size, but the bobbin looked like it might take the whole lot, so I kept treadling until the first single (the Burnt Almonds Fingerwolle) ran out.  I ended up with this:

It weighs 261g and is 303 metres in length and is a chunky-weight yarn.  After washing and whacking it, I squished it in a towel and hung it up to dry.  It wasn't completely dry the following day, so it got put into the airing cupboard to finish off.  It's going to be made into a scarf for me.

Having the two other singles left on bobbins, I then plyed them until the Shetland ran out and got 56 metres out of 26g.  I still had some of the multicoloured cream/yellow/orange/brown single left, so navajo plyed that and got a 12g mini-skein that's 20.5 metres in length.

The three yarns together:

The other 50g of the multi-coloured braid of roving I hand-carded into rolags, spun into two singles and then plyed.  I got what I think is a rather pretty two-ply yarn that's 125 metres in length and is sport-weight/DK.  I've got a ball of Cygnet DK in cream which I've used as an accent colour in a hat, so I might stripe the two yarns into mittens.

I'm really pleased with these spinning results.  I feel as though I've made a proper improvement in my spinning over the last 12 months.

I'm about to start on a big spinning project.  I've got 500g of North Ronaldsay roving which I'm planning on spinning into a sweater's worth of yarn.  A bit of a big undertaking, so wish me luck.

I'm hoping to get in one or two more blog posts before the end of the year as I've got other FOs to show off, but if time doesn't allow it, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Thursday, 20 December 2012


The last few weeks have been somewhat busy!  In the run-up to Christmas, I decided that the dining room walls needed all of DD2's 'artwork' scrubbed off and then a fresh coat of paint.  As DD2 can't be trusted to not touch wet paint, my time with a brush and a tin of emulsion are limited to before 12 noon so the paint can be touch-dry for when she gets home from school, so it's taken me several days of fragmented painting to get it done, but now I've only got one wall to finish with a second coat of paint (hurrah!). 

I also wanted to put up a new curtain track and new curtains in the dining room.  I bought two sets of the same curtains and the ones in the bay window of the lounge have been up for months, but we'd never quite got round to doing the dining room ones.  After a fair bit of cursing, grrr-ing and frustration (our walls are plasterboard) on my part and hubby coming to the rescue at the weekend with his strength, it was finally up and, apart from shortening them by about 15cm/6", the curtains are now up.

All this has eaten into my knitting/crocheting/spinning time, especially when it's come to finishing things off.  DD1's green hoodie is finished and is now on a quick wash/low spin cycle of the machine.  Mother-in-law's scarf needs blocking (or washing, drying and steam-blocking; I'm really running out of time on this one).

I do have one or two things to show off though.

First off, a hat:

This is a simple 2X2 ribbed hat from the Patons Easy Knits booklet (it might not be called exactly that but I've put it away upstairs) for their wool-blend aran yarn.  I changed the pattern slightly to knit it in the round and avoid seaming and used some Stylecraft Life Aran in a nice blue shade that's slightly heathery.  The hat was made for my friend Martin (who's in his 50s and single, so needed something machine-washable!).  A few weeks ago Martin came into Tesco when I was working and was wearing what was/is a hideous hat.  A brown, acrylic, ribbed beanie.  It may be from Lacoste, but hideous it is, and will always be.  So, I grimaced at the brown, told Martin he needed a decent hat with some wool in it to keep noggin warm in the winter and that I'd make him one.  I saw him last weekend and gave it to him and he immediately took off the brown monstrosity and went off to a local cafe wearing the new hat!!

The hat took less than one 100g ball of yarn and although I seemed to be ribbing for England, I'm very pleased with it and would use this pattern again (the pattern booklet also has a hat variation where the brim's ribbed but the crown of the hat is in stocking stitch - maybe I'll do that one next time).

Here's our Christmas tree.  It got put up the weekend before last and is mostly the work of DD2.  DD1 and I put on the lights and the tinsel, but bauble placement is courtesy of my youngest.  She insisted we put the paper angel she made at school three or four years ago on the top of the tree, as we have done ever since she brought it home.  It's getting a bit tatty now, the wings are a bit curled up, her head is rather bowed and she's lost a lot of her glitter.  DD2 was also Director of Operations when it came to putting up the other decorations.  She stood there telling her father where each one was to be pinned!

I've been doing some spinning (as a bit of stress-buster really) so if all goes to plan I'll be back tomorrow to show you the resulting yarn. 

Monday, 3 December 2012

Happy Christmas to Me

My husband is a generous soul when it comes to buying me Christmas and birthday gifts (my spinning wheel a couple of years ago is a case in point), but sometimes there are things that make me come over all 'wantie' and not have the patience to wait for gift-giving times of the year (I think he's already done gift-buying for this Christmas).

Kate Davies' book (released for sale today) was one of those things.  I've been reading Kate's tantalising posts on her blog over the last week or so as she revealed the patterns that are in the book.  So, I was all set to order a copy this morning after I'd got the girls off to school, Jess walked and my laptop booted up, so you can imagine my horror and disappointment when the book was showing up as sold out just after 9.10am.  This was followed by relief a few minutes later when I clicked the buy button again and a copy was in my virtual basket on Kate's website.  A few key-strokes to log into my PayPal account and a couple of mouse clicks and all was done.  A copy of the book will be winging its way to me in due course.

I'm a very happy bunny.  I'd be a bit of a happier bunny if my stash situation meant I could order some yarn as soon as the book arrives and I've chosen which item I want to make first, but I'll have to content myself with reading through it and knitting up at least a sweater's worth of yarn before that (unless I get some money for Christmas).

Here's a link to Kate Davies' website and blog (if you don't already read it).  The designs are featured in various blog posts - just scroll down.  Aren't the designs all gorgeous?  Am I being a naughty enabler? 

Must get knitting and knit down the stash!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Hoodie - Progress

DD1's hooded cardigan is coming along rather nicely.

I finished knitting the hood this morning.  Rather than working the back as two separate halves, I did it as one piece and then did a three-needle cast off instead of casting off each half and mattress stitching the seam up the back.  I think it looks neater that way.

This is the tip of the hood, where there are decreases.  At first, I did ssk on the last two stitches of the first half and k2tog straight away on the first two stitches of the second half, but it was a bit gappy in the middle, so I ripped back and did ssk, k2, k2tog, which I think looks neater.

 This is the three-needle cast off seam on the right side.
The inside seam of the hood.
I think this definitely looks neater than sewing the seam and as it's unlikely that the hood will be worn up, this seam will probably be visible when the cardigan's worn.

Finally, a sideways look at the hood.  I'm sure there are better-shaped hood patterns out there, but I hope this will look better once it's attached to the body of the cardigan.

I'm not going to sew the hood to the body as the pattern states.  I left the stitches at the top of the cardigan on some waste yarn, so I'll pick up a few stitches on the right band, knit along the stitches on waste yarn and then pick up a few stitches on the left band.  After that, I'll pick up stitches along the edge of the hood (probably 3 stitches for each 4 rows) and then I'll adjust the hood stitches so I've got the same amount as at the top of the cardigan and then I'll do a three-needle cast off.  That should give a nice firm, but neat-looking edge to the top of the cardigan.  It sounds more complicated than it is!  After that, I'll have yarn ends to sew in, a few stitches to sew together at the underarms and then I'll need to find buttons to sew on.

With regards to my mother-in-law's scarf, I've admitted defeat on what I was trying to do as I still wasn't happy with it and I've decided to maker her a garter stitch Baktus scarf instead.  I think I'll get a better scarf for the amount of yarn I've got.  The Baktus is a great pattern - very easy, but it looks nice.

Progress to date:

It shouldn't take me long to finish this off and get it blocked ready for hubby to take it with him when he visits his father and stepmother a few days after Christmas (DD2 and I will be staying at home with Jess - to cut a long story short, mother-in-law doesn't like dogs and we don't want to put Jess in kennels for just one night).

Apologies for the poor quality of the my photos by the way - I've no idea why I'm taking particularly bad shots at the moment.  I might have to consult the camera manual.  The poor light with this horrible weather doesn't help much either.

Talking of the weather, we're fortunate in that we live halfway up a hill that's part of a tidal river valley, so our house isn't at risk of flooding, but I know that there are many out there who must be worried, so please take care and if you have to drive through areas where the roads are at risk of flooding, be especially careful and test your brakes after you've driven through flooded bits.

I'm hoping the weather will brighten up for a couple of days.  The high winds at the weekend blew off part of the felt on the roof of the chickens' house and I'd like the wood underneath to have the chance of drying out a bit before I nail it back on again.

I'll be back soon, hopefully with the cardigan finished off (well, maybe without buttons - must consult with DD1 about the type she'd like) and I'll also tell you about the next thing that will be on my needles.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Hoodie Update

I've been steadily knitting away on DD1's hooded cardigan and I've now got it to the point where the body and sleeves are done and the button and buttonhole bands are completed.

(the colour's more green than that but it's a horrible windy, murky day today and I've had to switch on the lights in the lounge).

I shall be casting on the hood later today and will be browsing the internet for buttons.  I'm thinking of going with wooden ones, but will check with DD1 when she gets home from school.

I've made various modifications to the pattern which I'll detail when I do an FO post about it.

I've also been knitting away on the scarf for my mother-in-law, but I'm not happy with it.

I like the yarn (well, I would say that, wouldn't I - I spun it myself!).  I like the fabric that's knitting  up.  What I don't like is that it isn't getting wide enough as quickly as I'd like.  So, I think I'm going to frog it and instead of doing increases at the edges every other row and increases down the spine every four rows, I'm going to carry on doing the spine increases every four rows, but increase at the edge on every row.  I'm sure I've got some navy chunky-weight acrylic in a box or bag somewhere, so might do a test (might go up to a 6mm needle as well) to see how it looks rather than keep frogging and re-knitting the handspun yarn.  It's all rather frustrating as I can picture in my mind how I want it to look .

Hopefully I'll have sorted it out by the next time I post.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

I, too, have made a hat!

Looking on the feed thingammy  of blogs I follow on Monday, I noticed that Lucy at Attic24 was proudly announcing through her entry's title that she'd made a hat.  I duly read through, admired and decided that this was the type of hat that I, too, was going to make.

Later on that morning, I had to go into Colchester to collect some things I'd ordered from M&S so paid a trip to Franklins, the main yarn shop in the town.  I came out with three balls of King Cole Merino Blend DK.  One in dark red, one in a leafy green and one in dark blue.  I should have bought two balls of the red as crochet eats yarn more quickly than does knitting.  I also bought a ball of Wendy Roam Fusion sock yarn, some short 5mm KnitPro tips and an 80cm KnitPro cable (it's a size I use a lot) but let's forget about those additional things that jumped into my hands, shall we.

I was busy on Monday afternoon, so it was Tuesday morning before I got the chance to introduce hook to yarn, but off I went and by Tuesday evening, I'd finished the main part of the hat.  Because of only having one ball of the main colour yarn, my hat is more stripey than Lucy's and I didn't have enough red  yarn to do a final round of trebles, so did doubles on that row - I don't think it's made much of a difference to the hat at all.

Wednesday I got waylaid by other things until evening, when I used some needlepoint wool to add a row of running stitch through one of the contrast stripes.  This morning, I did two more rows of running stitch using other colours in other stripes and then I made a crocheted flower to go on the side (making it up as I went along), using the colours already in the hat.  I'm rather pleased with the flower.  I didn't want anything too ruffly, but I didn't want something two-dimensional either.

And, here it is, modelled on an upturned pudding basin:

Here's the flower:

And here's a bad photo of me wearing it:

I shall  wear it when I take Jess for a walk this afternoon and when I go and collect DD2 from the station later.  In fact, I shall probably wear it lots of places over the next four or five months :D

Back now to knitting DD1's hoodie (coming along nicely, but a bit slowly) and mother-in-law's Christmas scarf (one false start but I've tweaked the pattern and it's ok now).  I've also got a pair of bright socks on the needles for those times when the pale green and natural shades of the other two items becomes a bit too bland!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

It started off easy....

.... but then my husband and father-in-law got involved.

I have two mothers-in-law (and two fathers-in-law).  The reason for this is that my husband's parents divorced years ago, before I knew him, and both re-married.  As we don't make any distinction between grandparents and step-grandparents with our children, in my mind I refer to them all as my in-laws, not my step-in-laws as a. all four are very nice people and b. it would make life far more difficult than it needs to be.

Anyway, one of my mothers-in-law recently had surgery - shoulder replacement and she's scheduled to have the other one done early next year.  Thinking ahead to Christmas, I thought to myself that I have plenty of yarn in my stash and she's the sort of person who would probably appreciate a hand-knitted scarf.  Easy, you'd think.

So, one evening when I knew hubby was going to be phoning his father, I asked him if he'd find out what colour coat my mother-in-law wears the most.  Still easy,  you'd think?  No.  Turns out she has two or three coats that she wears regularly.  Oh well, I thought, I'm sure I've got something fairly neutral in my stash.  The conversation between hubby and his father moved on.  Father-in-law said that mother-in-law likes big scarves that she wraps around her neck.  Hmm.  Not exactly what I had in mind.  I know she's probably not someone who would wear something very lacy and certainly not ruffled or frilly. 

After hubby got off the phone (I'd wandered off during the latter part of the conversation so didn't get to hear the rest of hubby's side of it) he began telling me the sort of thing his father thought mother-in-law would like.  It started to get even more complicated.  Something 'tweedy' or 'not completely plain, but - you know - with bits in every once in a while'.  I began to wish I'd never considered making her something, especially after hubby started searching online for what he thought would be a suitable yarn.  Most of what he came up with I discounted on the grounds that it would be too scratchy to wear around the neck.

Hubby went off to work and I had a bit of a think about it and then made a decision.  200g of an alpaca/silk blend from World of Wool were soon winging their way to me in the post (those guys at WoW are very fast at processing orders) along with some other 'fluff' that happened to jump into my basket.

I divided the 200g of fibre into three more or less equal bumps:

Then I spun each bump into a single before plying  them into a proper three-ply yarn (as in three separate strands rather than navajo/chain plying).

I ended up with 181g/approx 205m of a brown/cream tweedy yarn that weight-wise lies between aran and chunky:

It's 181g  because the fibre was very flyaway and after every spinning session I found myself brushing fluff off my trousers and also because I completely forgot to put my jumbo flyer and bobbin on the wheel when I started to ply, so ended up wasting some of it when I realised what I'd done and switched to the big bobbin/flyer rather than making two skeins.

My plan is to make a triangular scarf with a five-stitch central spine so it doesn't end in a sharp point at the end.  Stocking stitch, with a row of reverse stocking stitch every six rows to give a bit of interest, I think.  I'm also going to do increases every right-side at the edges, but every other right-side row at the centre so it comes out as a wide but not too deep triangle rather than a traditional almost-right-angled-triangle shawl.

Hopefully you'll see what I mean in a couple of weeks as I'm planning on starting it soon.

In the meantime, DD1's hooded cardigan is coming along very nicely. I've done the back and front  up to the armholes, finished one sleeve and added that to the back and fronts and am nearly halfway up the second sleeve.  As this is a fairly mindless knit, I'm also nearly halfway through Andre Agassi's autobiography which I started last week around the same time I started the first sleeve.

I'll be back soon with more about the hoodie.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

An Admission of Disappointment

I steam blocked my Color Affection scarf/wrap the other day and I'll just come right out and admit that I'm a bit disappointed with it.

Not with the yarn - being a bit trumpet-blowing, I was really pleased with how I spun the yarn.  Not with the pattern itself and the way the colours work; the way the stripes flow around the scarf making it asymmetrical is one of the things that attracted me to the pattern:

It's the top edge I don't like.  It's not straight and I pinned, steamed, re-pinned and re-steamed, but just couldn't get it to lie flat.  There's a lumpy bit right in the middle where I cast on.

I think what I might do is carefully unpick the cast on edge and maybe the first few rows of knitting, one stitch at a time and then cast them off.  I also did the modification I'd read about on Ravelry of a yarn-over between the first two stitches at the beginning of each row, dropping the yarn over on the next row to give the edge a bit more flexibility and I'm glad I did.

All in all, it was an enjoyable knit, even though the rows did get very long towards the end, but I'm not sure it's something I'll wear except at home to keep my shoulders warm on chilly days.  It's very very big and I think I'll find it a bit bulky, especially with the coat I've got.  In addition, I never seem to manage to drape shawls or wraps effectively around my shoulders - maybe I'm the wrong shape.  They droop, flap and fall down and I end up feeling irritated.

Here it is folded up - I think you can get a bit of an idea of its size.

I think I'll mark this one as a process knit.  Happy I made it, but not so sure I'll wear it.

I'm off now to start a new spinning project.  There's a bit of a story behind this one - I'll tell you in another post.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Hooded Cardigan

I've finished knitting my Color Affection scarf/wrap, but I've still got the ends to sew in and then I'll decide on wet or steam blocking.  Quite possibly the latter as I don't think it really needs to be any bigger.

In my last post I said that I'd got 6 x 100g balls of Cygnet wool-rich aran in a light green colour (Pine, it's called) and that I was thinking of making a tunic-style sweater or something like that with it.

That idea was scratched.

Instead, I'm knitting it up into a cardigan for DD1, who is a bit short of knitwear or sweatshirts at the moment (it's her fault for growing).  I had a look through my box file of patterns and pulled out a booklet I bought a while back.  It's Paton's 'Easy Knits' designed for use with their Wool Blend Aran. 

DD1 isn't into fancy knitwear.  She prefers things to be on the plain side; definitely not a flouncy, floral, sparkly girl, but then she is nearly a teenager.  We decided on the women's cardigan, with a hood if I've got enough yarn (I think I do) or a collar if not.  It's this one, but obviously this is the version with a collar:

I decided to fiddle with the pattern though, and knit it from the bottom up in one piece to the armholes, then do the sleeves in the round before joining it all up for the top part.  After a bit of head scratching when my numbers didn't add up - my fault for forgetting that as it's 2x2 rib, I'd need a multiple of 4 stitches +2 - I cast on and by last night I'd done the rib and knitted 28 rows of stocking stitch. 

Progress to date:

The colour's not come out too badly in the photo - it's possibly slightly more green but it's so grey outside today that I've still got on lights in the lounge.

I'll probably make it a bit shorter in the body than the pattern states, simply because although DD1 has a bust size of around 34 inches, she's not tall for her age.  I'm also knitting at what I think is a slightly tighter tension than stated in the pattern because the underarm measurement in the pattern says that the smallest size should come out at 38", which might be a bit baggy, even allowing for some growing room.

Finding patterns for children of DD1's age has proved to be quite difficult.  Children's ones don't go up to a large enough size and adult ones are too big.  Maybe DD1 is unusual in being a nearly-teenager who still likes to wear hand-knitted items and there just isn't the demand for patterns in her size.

This is a mindless knit at the moment, which means I sit there knitting and purling with my e-reader propped up on its deckchair, which suits me fine.  At the end of a fairly long half-term, my brain isn't really up to complicated lace or cables. 

I'm going to do a few more rows while I wait for the postman to arrive as I'm hoping that an order I made from World of Wool on Monday will turn up today.  I got an e.mail yesterday to say that it had been despatched, so fingers crossed.  After that, I've got to go up to Colchester to do some shopping, despite having been to Asda on Monday and Lidl yesterday.  A note came home from DD2's school yesterday saying that tomorrow the children can go to school in fancy dress for a contribution of something like £1 as it's the last day of the half term.  We looked on the Tesco and Asda websites and Asda seems to be my best bet for a Hallowe'en costume in her size (she's 10).  A  bit more notice would have been nice; but at least I don't work weekdays so I'm able to go out and try to find something that she'll like, although I'd planned on not going anywhere today, especially as I bumped my knee on the corner of the coffee table this morning (a definite 'ouch, ouch' moment, which DD2 found hilarious as I hopped around the lounge clutching my leg).  Oh well, the joys of being a parent, eh!

Until the next time, take care :)

Friday, 19 October 2012

Nearly There

I'm now onto the border of my Color Affection scarf/wrap (the dark strip at the top of the photo).

The border's not going to be as deep as the pattern says (which is 2") because I'm going to run out of yarn before then.  According to the pattern, the tension for this should be 36 rows of garter stitch = 4", which means the border should be 18 rows (not that I made a tension swatch for this - it's a scarf/wrap).  I've been weighing the ball of yarn after every row and each loooong row is taking about 4g of yarn.  After ten rows, I've got 18g of yarn left.  As I want to end on a wrong side (even number) row and then do a loose-ish cast off, that means I'll get another two rows of the border left before casting off.  I'm not worried about it.  Certainly not worried enough to buy more fibre and spin it up into yarn.

That's still approx 1300 stitches to knit, including the cast off row. 

Here it is bunched up on the needles, on my rug. It's big.  

You can just see the tips of my Crocs, which should give an idea of the size. 

Apart from changing colour every two rows and doing increases at the edges of the rows, this is mostly mindless knitting (there are short rows, but they're a doddle).  Fortunately, I can knit and read at the same time, so I've been getting through my latest book at a fair pace, especially as I can prop my e-reader up on the deckchair hubby bought me last Christmas.  I reckon I'll get another few chapters read while I finish off the last couple of rows.  Then, I'm going to 'cheat' and just use a bigger sized KnitPro tip to cast off, not even bothering to attach it to a cable.

I'm now thinking ahead to what I'm going to cast on next.  I've got other things on the needles, but I've got 6x100g balls of light green Cygnet aran (originally bought to make an Acorns cardigan, but I've gone off that pattern now) and I'm thinking a short-sleeved tunic-type sweater might be a useful addition to my wardrobe, so I've been trawling Ravelry for patterns.

Back to the garter stitching now! 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Three Colours

I've now got to the section of my Color Affection scarf/wrap where I'm using three colours and doing short rows to get the sweeping stripes that give it it's asymmetric look.

It's getting so wide now that I decided to join my 150cm KnitPro cable onto the 100cm one I was using rather than just transfer the stitches onto the 150cm one.  It does mean I have to be careful that I don't tangle the cable in the yarn when I'm starting a new row.  At the end of this section, I should have 387 stitches on the needle if I've done the increases correctly, so it's a good thing that it's all garter stitch and I can knit while watching TV.

I'm not that happy with the edge.  It's tricky trying to twist up the two yarns that aren't being used as well as keeping the edge relaxed.  I'm hoping that when it comes to blocking, it'll look better.  If I'm still not happy with it, I might turn the edge over and hem it for a neater look.

I've done half of the three-colour rows and as four extra stitches are knitted per stripe, as well as stitches being increased at the beginning and end of each stripe, I'm hoping I'll have enough of the cream and grey yarns to finish that section, otherwise I'll have to either buy some more of the Shetland fibre and spin it up, or see if the pattern will work ending the section earlier.

Hopefully I'll know in a couple of days and will let you know!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Ten Things

Ten things to summarise Life since my last blog post.

1.  I came down with a real stinker of a cold a couple of weeks ago.  One of the achey, sniffly, chesty, coughy, have-to-drag-myself-out-of-bed-each-morning types of cold.  I'm much better now, but it still hasn't gone.

2.  After just over six weeks of the girls being on summer holidays and then three and a bit weeks of hubby being on holiday from work, I was quite looking forward to getting my house back in my sole possession (at least between 8.30am and 3.30pm) from last week.

3.  Number 2. didn't happen.  Hubby hasn't got anything on work-wise that really requires his presence in London or elsewhere, so he's still at home.  Well, except for last week when on Weds he left the house at 11am, had an evening meeting that went on very late, so he stayed in a hotel overnight and then arrived home at 2.30pm the following day.

4.  After I'd dropped hubby off at the train station (I think that was partly so I could be sure he'd actually gone!!) I went into Colchester, despite feeling rubbish, and did the paperwork to buy DD1's clarinet.

5.  The result of number 3. and 4. meant that I actually had about six daytime hours to myself at home, plus a couple of hours on Weds evening.  I think that makes it a total of something like twelve 'me-hours' since the end of the last school year in July (popping to the supermarket doesn't count).  It certainly feels like it and probably explains quite a lot of things, especially my feelings of irritation and wanting to say "please just all go away and leave me in peace for a bit".

6.  Friday last week I went back into Colchester to pick up DD1's new clarinet.  It's very shiny and nice-looking and she's now getting used to it.

7.  Number 4. and 6. mean that I won't be going to Ally Pally this year because I've spent all my spare money.  To be honest, I'm not that fussed as there's nothing I particularly want to buy or see, so I'll save money over the next year and will plan to go to the 2013 show instead (yes, I know I probably said that last year, but I've still got lots of yarn in my stash).

8.  I've barely done any spinning while I've had this cold (and time constraints), so there's nothing to show.

9.  I've done some knitting on my Color Affection scarf/wrap.  I'm on the middle section where the second colour's introduced and striped with the first colour.  Later today I'm hoping to start the next section where the third colour's introduced.

I'm generally pleased with it, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to make the edge look neater once it's soaked and blocked.

It's difficult keeping the edge neat but relaxed, especially when changing colour every two rows.

10.  I've knitted a hat, but think it might be a bit small. I shall soak and block it and then see what I think and will show you next time because it's a nice pattern. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

Color Affection

I haven't been idle over the last week or so, but I haven't actually got a great deal of knitting done.

I've been spinning instead.

The start of the new school year means that my thoughts turn towards autumn and then, to winter.  Which means woolly-wear!  With hubby at home on hols until the beginning of October, my time in which to concentrate on things has been somewhat limited, so I've been spinning.

I started off with a pack of four 'bumps' of Shetland prepared fleece/roving from World of Wool:

 (I've 'stolen' the photo from the World of Wool website because I forgot to take a photo before I started spinning).

My plan was to spin the natural, grey and black into a thinnish yarn to make a Color Affection scarf/wrap.

I ended up with these three skeins:

Black = 101g/213 metres
Grey = 97g/223 metres
Natural = 94g/276 metres

I'm quite pleased because my spinning was fairly consistent and the three colours are a similar weight (more sport-weight than fingering).

This morning, I wound the yarns into cakes:

And at knitting group this morning I cast on and got this far:

I did the modification that others have mentioned in their project notes, of putting a yo between the first and second stitch at the beginning of each row and then dropping it on the next row to stop the edge being too tight when it comes to blocking at the end.

I'm not sure I'll have enough yarn to do the wrap exactly as per the pattern, so might modify it to make it a bit smaller (but it is rather big), or I might just see how far the yarn takes me and then fudge it a bit at the end.

I'll let you know in a future post.

Tomorrow's the first day back at music school for DD1 and as hubby's going to be doing kitchen tiling, I'll be taking DD2 with me and then, as the weather forecast is good, we might go for an earlyish run around on a beach somewhere (probably Clacton).  Unfortunately, it means that I won't be able to go to one of the quarterly(ish) Saturday get-togethers in Frating, a village a few miles from Colchester, which is a shame, but hopefully I'll be able to get to the next one.

I hope everyone has a good weekend :)

Friday, 14 September 2012

Nympheas Lace Scarf - FO

Yes - finally, I have finished knitting and blocked my Nympheas scarf.

I decided I needed to just get on and do it rather than picking it up, doing one pattern repeat and then putting it down again before picking it back up again a couple of days later.

The pattern: Nympheas by Mimi Hill (Ravelry link).
The yarn: Angel Sock from Natural Dye Studio in a dusky pink.
Needles: 4mm KnitPro Spectra.

The scarf measured 27x110cm before blocking.

After blocking, it had grown to 30x150cm, which gives a decent size.

Here's a close-up of the pattern.

And here's a close-up of one diamond.
Would I recommend this pattern?  Yes.  Mimi's patterns are always clearly written out and with this one, there are written instructions as well as a chart. 

I have to admit that when I first saw that it wasn't perfectly symmetrical but the rows of diamonds/leaves are offset, I wasn't 100% sure, but now that it's finished, I really like it.

Unfortunately, I don't really have anything to wear it with, so it may end up as a gift for someone.

Friday, 31 August 2012

More Twist Required

Did I mention that several months ago I bought a bag of 'lap waste' from World of Wool to practise my spinning?  I can't remember to be honest.  In the 500g bag of various fibres and colours that WoW make up from left-overs that won't make up a full braid or bag was a good variety and I've used it to blend different colours (for a hat - I think I took a photo of that skein of yarn I made and blogged about it) and used some of it to blend three different colours (pretty sure I blogged about that as well).  In the bag was a clump of something cream-coloured, slightly shiny and rather wispy.  I didn't think it was silk, knew it hadn't adorned an animal's back.  I asked on Ravelry, in the UK Spinners group and we decided that it was probably either soy, bamboo or tencel. 

I started to spin it and it drafted nicely so I continued until it was all spun up into a single and I wondered what to do with it.  Then I remembered I had a small bag (approx 50g) of some natural coloured Jacob fibre, so spun that into a single.  Then I plyed (should that be plied?) the two singles together into this:

100g in weight, 273 metres, which makes it a sport-weight/light DK.

Can you see?  My plying's a bit loose in places; I think it needs a bit more twist.

This morning I shall be winding the skein into a centre-pull ball and then putting it back through my wheel to put in a bit more twist.  Then I'll skein it up again, wash it again, whack it again and hang it up to dry (again).

I think this will become a Squoffle scarf.  Although the pattern's written for chunky yarn to make a short scarf that buttons into a neck-warmer, it'll be easy to cast on extra stitches (it's a repeat of 3sts +2) to make it wider to suit a thinner yarn.

Oh well, off to get out my swift and ball winder - I did think about plying it from the swift onto the wheel, but think that might be a recipe for disaster with child and dog around, so I'll take a few extra minutes to wind it into a ball.

Then, I'll be able to get on with spinning some more shetland top I've got. 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Are we nearly there yet?

'There' being the end of the school holidays.

Don't get me wrong.  I love my daughters dearly, but the long summer holidays do start to drag and finding things to occupy DD2 can be difficult.  Her disability means that even going to a  play-park can be stressful as her difficulties in understanding acceptable social behaviour can be challenging (I don't think I'll quickly forget the incident at the top of a slide where she pushed a younger child down because he was dithering and she wanted her turn).  The other day, she tried to use a bike and a scooter belonging to other children who were there, which caused them consternation and resulted in a mini-tantrum when I said that no, she couldn't use them.  DD1 has been away twice with grandparents - the first time for a few nights in Paris and then for a week on a cruise-ship around the northern Med, the lucky girl.  Husband has been working away for the whole month and is gone Mon-Fri, so I've been doing the 'married single parent' thing again.

The result is that I'm weary, fatigued, stressed and, at times, bad-tempered.  It also means that with the seemingly constant interruptions of children requiring meals, snacks, drinks, batteries, etc, etc, etc, my times has been very fragmented and I haven't got a great deal of crafting done.  Naively, I had the idea that I'd be able to get on with things whilst the girls were at home.  Delusional, or what?  I thought I'd be able to finish my Nympheas scarft.  Not a chance - lace + autistic child is not a good combination.  Spinning?  Pfft.  Not when DD2 wants to have a go. 

So, it's been stocking stitch and that's about it.

I sewed the ends in on these socks this morning:

They've been on the needles since mid-July, so I thought I'd finish them off.  They're made from Natural Dye Studio Unicorn yarn - 70% baby llama, 20% cashmere and 10% silk (I think) and they're soft and comfortable and a bit of an indulgence for socks because they'll probably wear out quite quickly.

I've also had the pattern for the Lucy bag for a while.  I'd also spun some natural coloured Jacob fibre and some burgundy merino, so thought I'd use it for the bag.  It only took a week to do the knitting.  It was a bit of floppy mess when I'd finished the knitting part:

Then I slung it into the washing machine with a pair of trainers and put it on a quick, 30C wash to see how (if at all - I wasn't sure if the merino was superwash or not) it would felt.  Then, I put it on a  40C 1hr wash cycle to felt it down a bit more.  After that, I looked for something to shape it round and decided the waste bin from the downstairs bathroom was the right size, albeit not quite tall enough.  I hung it up on the over-door hook between the lounge and the bathroom and left it there while we went off to see my parents as it was my Dad's 81st birthday yesterday:

It's now dried and I'm considering lining it as it's a bit fuzzy (I might put some sellotape over it to take off some of the fuzzy bits). 

The jacob felted down more than the merino did (but it was spun slightly thinner), but I quite like the slight puckering effect that's given the darker stripes.  The felted bag doesn't show it, but from the lowest cream strip upwards, there are the same number of rows.  Alternating the cream and the burgundy, I knitted 12, 10, 8, 6 and finally 4 rows of each colour, which took me up to 120 total rows from the cast on (the taller bag size).  I made the longer strap in burgundy - a little big longer than the pattern stated for the shorter strap - and the short strap in cream/off-white.

I've had a look through my fabric stash and have various Kaffe Fassett striped and plain fabrics that I bought years ago, so might make a lining out of those.  I shall have a think about it.  It might have to wait until after the start of the school year - I don't think DD2 and my sewing machine in the same room together would be a good idea.

I've cast on for my Breckon cardigan and am about half way through the 4" of ribbing.  I think the yarn I'm using will work better on smaller needles than the pattern calls for, so I'm going to be fiddling about with the pattern, using the stitch count for one size, but the dimensions of one size smaller than that.  Hopefully I'll be able to show you a bit more of that next time.

In the meantime, while there's still just under two weeks of school holidays left, I might wind some Lorna's Laces into balls and start another pair of vanilla socks.  I don't think there's going to be much else I'll be able to do without much frogging and swearing!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Short-Sleeved Cardigan showing off

It's finished, and it took less than 300g of yarn (it weighs 273g including the buttons).

Back view:
Side detail:
I'm particularly pleased with the buttons:
They match very well, don't you think?

There was slight pooling just above the waist, but that only lasted for a few rows:
The pattern was quick and easy - top down construction so minimal finishing.  My only criticism is that the whole pattern's on two pages, so it's a bit squished up.  I missed out the instructions on the top ribbing after the first buttonhole because it just said "work 2 rows even" in the middle of the line, but by the time I realised I was halfway down the yoke and decided I wouldn't rip back.  I did make the sleeves a bit longer than the pattern stated because DD1 asked me to as she doesn't like cap sleeves.  I think the pattern says to pick up the stitches around the armhole, work one row and then go straight into the sleeve ribbing, so I did ten rows stocking stitch after picking up the stitches from the waste yarn and then did five rows of ribbing.

Would I make it again?  Yes, but I might do garter stitch instead of the ribbing at the neck and around the sleeves and on the button/hole bands as others have done.  I think it's a pattern that could be modified to make it longer, perhaps leaving out the reverse stocking stitch triangles, or adding a stitch pattern.  Overall, I'm very pleased with this and think it's something that DD1 will get a lot of wear out of, especially on her forthcoming cruising holiday with Granny and Grandad (lucky girl!).

Since finishing this, I've been spinning.  I finished some burgundy merino which I'm planning on making into a Lucy bag.  I'm not sure yet if I've got enough, or if I'll have to add some other yarn in as stripes.  Once I've done some housework and ironing I'll wind it off onto my niddy noddy and work out how many metres I've got.

I also started spinning some yarn for a Colour Affection scarf/wrap, but more about that next time.