Thursday, 26 July 2012

Summer Solstice Scarf

Remember the light blue handspun yarn a few weeks ago when I didn't think I had enough to make the Wendy Johnson shawlette for her Summer Solstice KAL?

Well, I decided to jump in and start it off, hoping that as the clues were released, if I was running short of yarn I could leave out some rows?  I waited until the first few clues had been released and then cast on and was weighing the yarn after every two rows (really!) and got to a point where I thought it might just be possible to squeeze the whole shawlette out of the 344 metres of yarn I had. 

Then, the last clue was made available and ...... after the first person had knitted like the wind, cast off, sewn in ends, soaked and blocked her version, then put up photos on Ravelry...... I decided that although it's a very nice shawlette, it's not really the sort of thing I'd  wear.  The full thing is more of a capelet than a shawlette.  Wendy had said it was a 'sort of' crescent shape, but... well, here's a link to the pattern's Ravelry page and if you look at this version you can see what I mean.

So, I left out some rows.  About 20 rows in total, I think.  This meant it's very much a scarf rather than a shawlette or capelet and it's something I'll wear.

Here it is worn with the centre of the scarf at the front:
And this time, wound around the neck:

I was going to start Breckon last night (with the purple King Cole merino).  However, when I went through my basket to see if I'd put my 2.75mm circular in there, I came across a bag containing five balls of Patons Smoothie.  I thought for a bit as to why it was downstairs and not upstairs in the stash-box and then I remembered that I'd told DD1 I'd make her a cardigan for her holiday with Granny.  As she leaves in just under three weeks, I thought I'd better find a pattern and get going.

I chose this one from the Classic Elite website, designed by Cecily Glowik MacDonald.  A simple top-down cardigan which can be worn back to front as a top and with garter stitch triangles at the bottom to add a bit of interest.  I've got this far:

30 rows in, I think.  There are 56 rows of yoke before dividing for body and sleeves.  I reckon it's doable, as long as I don't get waylaid by something else.  The yarn's a bit splitty, but it does knit up nicely.  I don't think the photo shows off the subtle variegation of the yarn.  The colours are pretty and DD1 is one of those really annoying people who seem able to wear any colour!

Better get back to it I suppose!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Two cardigans - technically speaking

When my husband told me at the beginning of July that this month I should buy some clothes for myself, I'm not sure this is what he had in mind:

Technically, both are cardigans.  It's just that one lot needs to be knitted and the other lot needs to be spun into yarn and then knitted.

The purple is King Cole merino blend 4ply in the colour Damson.  That's going to be Breckon by Amy Christoffers.

The fleece/fibre/roving/whatnot is some North Ronaldsay and is destined to become a Reine by Alexis Winslow.

Both patterns are from Wool People Vol 3 by the Brooklyn Tweed team.  Although Loop London now stock Brooklyn Tweed yarns, the budget wouldn't stretch that far -- yet.  I will make a sweater in either the worsted-weight Shelter or the fingering-weight Loft though.  All spare £s are currently going towards the Clarinet Fund (although that's grown considerably thanks to a rebate from the water people - I've been overpaying by about £20 a month for the last year it would seem!).

I'll be doing a tension square for the King Cole as it's a different yarn than Loft.  Although the Loft has more metres per gramme than the King Cole, it's spun in a different way (woollen spun) which makes it an airier yarn. 

Before I can cast on Breckon I've got to find my 2.75mm circular as I think I'll need it and it's not in my needle case and I've got to finish spinning some burgundy merino before I can start on the Ronaldsay.

I've also finished my Summer Solstice scarf/shawl and that's blocking in the spare room, so I'm hoping it'll be dry by the end of the day.

Oh, I did buy some ready-to-wear clothes, in case you were wondering.  Marks and Spencer had an offer of two t-shirts for £8 when I was in a few weeks ago so I bought three for me and one for DD1.  Oh, and last week when I had to be in Colchester for an optician's appointment I came away with a new pair of reading glasses (so I can see my stitches when I'm knitting - especially socks).  I also bought a new black leather handbag from Debenhams.  I remembered the unused £25 gift-card that hubby bought me as part of my Christmas present and they had a 20% off sale!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Busy, busy, busy

Phew!  July is always a bit of a busy month and this year it's been busier than usual.

One of the downsides of having children at school that are not local (DD2's special needs school is nine miles away and DD1's grammar school 12 miles away) is that getting to any events there take time.  As it's been the end of the school year with various activities, that's meant more travelling than usual.  Add on the Olympic Torch relay and I've sometimes felt as though I'm either travelling somewhere, or planning the logistics for getting somewhere.

A couple of weekends ago it was DD1's end of year music school concert.  I'd booked that weekend off work as annual leave as I'd missed the Christmas concert and didn't want to miss this one.  DD1 doesn't have music (clarinet) lessons at her school - she goes on a Saturday morning to the local district's music school in a(nother) school in a village ten miles from where we live. 

It was a good, fun evening.  DD1 is quite good at playing her clarinet and is currently working towards her Grade V, which she'll take in November.  I'm trying to save enough money (around £800) so that we can get her a new, better-quality clarinet, which will improve her playing.

DD2 had four nights away from home (Mon-Fri) when she went away on school camp.  I'm sure you can imagine that I was rather apprehensive and nervous about her going as she's never been away from home without me before and kept saying that it was going to be her, me and Jess (the dog) on holiday.  All was fine though and she seems to have had a great time. 

While DD2 was away, DD1 had a music 'thing' at school.  Part of the school's curriculum music lessons, the girls had to perform two songs - a set one and one of their own choosing - which they had to arrange, provide accompaniment and choreograph. DD1's year were doing their performance from 8.55am though, which meant that even though she'd stayed at my in-laws' the night before so hubby and I could go out for the evening, I still had to be up early and get a train just before 8am to get there on time (I didn't drive because there had been more-wine-than-usual-drinking going on the previous evening and the traffic would have been horrible to drive in!).  DD1 was a bit disappointed that her class didn't score a higher mark than they did and, parental bias aside, I did think that the teacher marking the girls was a bit harsh for the first two forms (DD1's was second) and didn't take into account the nerves of the first form to go on-stage, or the style of the song that DD1's form performed as their choice (you're not going to be all beaming smiles if you're singing a song in a sombre/serious manner, are you).

Friday morning of that week, the Olympic Torch relay was coming through Colchester.  It's a bit of a sore point in our and our neighbouring towns that the Torch only ran along something like 100m of our borough and didn't go through other towns in our district such as Harwich or Clacton, but DD1 and I got up extra-early and were on the 6.54am train to Colchester. It was rainy and we waited with hoods up for an hour before the torch-runner came along the High Street and we got a three-second glimpse.  At least we can say we were there though. Being a military town, there were service-men and women lining the high street on one side:

There was a decent turn-out and one little girl standing opposite had made her own torch:
And then the torch itself came past:
 And then it was gone!
Last week it was DD2's sports day at school.  Due to the weather we've been having, they weren't able to use the field, so it was held on the playground (which isn't very big due to the number of temporary classrooms they have to use - another sore point):
The children were very well behaved and (mostly) did what they were supposed to do and then everyone went back to their classrooms and got changed out of their PE kit (for some reason known only to her DD2 kept on her tights under her PE shorts!) and then parents were allowed to go and have a look around the classroom.

All this activity has meant I haven't made a great deal of progress on my knitting projects.  I'm at the ribbing of the first of a pair of toe-up vanilla socks.  I've done a couple of repeats of my pink Nympheas scarf.

I have finished knitting the Wendy Johnson Summer Solstice Mystery Shawl:

It now needs blocking but that won't happen until Tuesday at the earliest because I've got nowhere to block it until then.  DD1's off for a few days with Granny (to Paris, the lucky girl) so I might use her bedroom floor - if it's tidy enough.  I think I'll do a separate blog post about this shawlette though as it hasn't exactly gone how I thought it would.

I have been knitting on my sock yarn blanket though.  I started this about three years ago when the Monday knitting group started up and it gets picked up sporadically.  With the busyness of life this month though, it's been knitted on again as it's an easy project to pick up and put down again and it's something that can be knitted while chatting away at knitting group.

I think I've got 96 squares done now and most of them are from yarn I've used for socks, so it's a bit like knitting a project history.  I'm making this in a rather haphazard, higgledy-piggledy way, not worrying too much about which colours to put in next, or which direction the next row of squares is going to go.  I did think about putting some bigger squares in, but think I'll stick to the smaller ones.  When I've decided it's big enough, I'll buy some plain 4ply (something like Cygnet) and do a knitted on 15-20-stitch border.

I've also been doing some spinning - some burgundy merino that was donated by someone at a Saturday get-together.  I'm spinning an aran-weight yarn to make into a felted bag.

I hope you've got through all this.  I really should make an effort to blog more regularly.

Before I sign off, I do have something else to show:

I have nine of these.  I'll tell you what for in a few days.

I hope you have a nice weekend and that the sun starts to shine wherever you are.  It was nice here mid-morning when I took Jess for a walk, but it's got a bit grey and overcast now.

I'm off to do some ironing and then to check the bag DD1's packed for her Paris trip.  She says she's got everything she needs, but I just want to make sure because, well, she's 12 and there's a good chance she'll have forgotten something.  Like her toothbrush, or hairbrush, or enough pairs of knickers. That sort of thing!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A bit short

A few weeks ago I joined Wendy Johnson's Summer Solstice Mystery Shawl Knitalong on Ravelry.

I bought the pattern (a bargain at US$2).  Then I started to think about yarn.  I knew I had a braid of light blue 'fluff' that I'd bought from Lucy (Bearium) so set to spinning it up as thin as I could with the hope that once plied I'd have enough yarn for the shawl (384-411 metres).

It's short.  By about 40 metres (that was before soaking, thwacking and hanging up with a weight hanging off the bottom, but that's unlikely to make much of a difference).  It's spun up nicely though and I'm pleased with it:

So, it's dilemma time.  Do I try to wing it and use a 3.5mm needle instead of 3.75mm, leave out the nupps (I think I worked out that allowing for 2" of yarn per 5-stitch nupp = 10m of yarn) and hope?  See if I can find some yarn that's a very close match to the colour?  Hope that at some point in the pattern there's a clue where I can leave out a repeat or a few rows?

Or, choose another skein of yarn.

I've got a skein of Natural Dye Studio Scheherazade in a light, sagey green which hubby bought me for Christmas.  It's 65% silk, 35% baby camel so I'm  not sure how it'll block (although others seem to have had success, judging by the projects using it on Ravelry).

Maybe I'll go with that, see how much yarn it takes and then make another one in the handspun if it works out that I've got enough after all (either with nupps, or nuppless).  Everything else in my stash will be too variegated to show off the lace pattern, I think.

In the meantime, the third clue was released today and I haven't even wound any yarn, let alone cast on, which makes me more of a spectator than a participant in this KAL!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Has it really been that long?

It doesn't seem like 2+ weeks since I last posted here, but it is.

It's been a busy couple of weeks round here.  Not so much on the crafting front, but with Other Stuff.

First off, we were coming to the end of our mortgage package, so had to spend time researching other options and deciding if going onto another fixed rate or just going with the bank's standard variable rate would be the best option for us.  All rather tedious and time-consuming, but necessary.

I also had to do a fair bit of preparation for DD2, who's away for a few days with school this week.  With her being autistic, it's often difficult to work out if she's understood what she's being told.  For several weeks, she kept insisting that she, me and Jess (the dog) were going on 'school holidays' whilst hubby and DD1 stayed at home.  I've been doing washing, ironing and labelling of clothes and belongings, never mind a dash up to the big Tesco 10 miles away yesterday morning (before I went to work at 1pm) because the Co-Op in our town didn't have any soya yogurts on the shelves.  Anyway, all was packed on time and off she went to school as usual this morning, with her little case and a bag of various gluten and dairy-free foods for her to have over the next few days (Rice 'milk', rice cakes, gf cornflakes, gf pasta, soya yogurts, etc).  I admit to having a bit of a lump in my throat when she walked down the garden path, pulling her case behind her when it was time for the off this morning.

So, there hasn't been a great deal of knitting being done.  There's been some though.  A few rows of my Nympheas scarf (but still not enough to warrant a photo) have been completed.  I've done some spinning (I'll post about that tomorrow) and I've finished some socks.

These ones:

These are made to a modified version of the orange Charade socks I finished last month.  Basically, I doubled the width of the pattern, so did two knit stitches, the herringbone rib twice, then two knit stitches and repeated those eight stitches across/around the foot/leg. 

Here's a closer-up pic of the pattern:

It's a very simple (free) pattern that's effective, but easy to memorise.

I might make it again at some point, but move the herringbone rib diagonally (although I might do a test swatch to see how much give there is if the pattern's done that way).

I also signed up and bought the pattern for Wendy Johnson's Summer Solstice shawl/scarf.  As the name suggests, the start date was 20 June...... but I haven't done anything; not even wound the yarn from skein to ball.  That's partly due to the spinning I've been doing, so I'll tell you more about that tomorrow.

I've also cast on another pair of socks.  Plain stocking stitch ones this time because sometimes you have yarn that you know doesn't want to be anything other than a pair of vanilla socks.