Friday, 27 April 2007

Granny squares, cat blankets and a little something to make you smile

I've been trying to use up some of the odds and ends in the stash to make space for more lovelies for a while and as usual, I fall back on that age old stand by the granny square. I've been doing them for as long as I can remember - they were probably the first thing I learned to crochet all those years ago. (I think I must have been about ten). Anyhow, back to the point on the post. I discovered I had a pile of blue yarn left over from knitting for DS so I thought what better way to use it up than to make a big comfy floor cushion for him to roll around on. I managed to get a copy of 200 Crochet Blocks from the library and found myself a rather nice alternative to the usual treble blocks and so I began.

They turned out a little bigger than expected (about 6 inches square). I don't know why I was expecting them to be smaller, it's not as though it was the first time crocheting or anything. I just plain didn't think! So the cushion is either going to be huge or maybe a blanket. A cat blanket perhaps? Here's the lovely Amber showing just how much she appreciates our efforts and this is mum trying to crochet her own granny blanket around the cat.

Daft animal, I can't decide whether she loves us or the knitting more!

I think maybe it's time that I made her a blanket of her own so that maybe she'll leave ours alone. Will it work? Maybe. Probably not knowing the cat. Still it'll be worth a go.

Thanks SusanCrowe for posting the link to the Granny Along blog, this one really made me smile. It certainly gives a whole new meaning to the granny square!

Enjoy :D

Thursday, 26 April 2007

My second Forest Canopy

I'm all excited I've finished knitting it already - and in only a week! I'm very pleased with myself, can't wait to block it. This time it's in 100% wool 4ply and it's the first of my hand dyed yarn that I've knitted up. The colour's perhaps a bit bright but it'll look really funky, well as funky as a shawl can. There's been a bit of a happy accident with the way that the colour has pooled in places.

I know that I wanted to use as much of the yarn as possible with it being hand dyed (well, I wanted it as big as possible too) but talk about cutting it a bit fine, there's only about 2 metres left! I did three extra repeats in the end and I kept weighing the ball after each one. The last repeat took almost 10g which left me about the same again for the border. I wasn't sure whether I might have to do one less border row but in the end, I managed to complete the pattern. Just. hehe

Anyhow, hope to get it blocked in the morning so that should mean pictures of the finished article over the weekend. Yay.

Now just have to decide which of my UFO's to work on. I think I might break out the sewing machine and get my Noni bag finished. I'd love to be able to take it along to the knitting group next week and show it off again.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

I must resist new projects.

Who am I trying to kid? What was I thinking of saying I'd finish all my outstanding projects before I started another? I can safely say I have successfully failed that one already! I am not only now halfway through a pair of socks (licketysplit), a Forest Canopy and now I have started a sockalong. Talk about getting carried away! hehe, do I care. Hmm, I think not.

Back to the project amnesty, I picked up my IVY again last week and have now transferred it to a set of Denises. So far only done a couple of extra rows. I'll have to have a proper bash at it again this week if I get a chance. It's such a lovely pattern but I just haven't been able to get motivated to get it finished. (Actually I think it was after picking this up that I started the FC again. Maybe someone's trying to tell me something!). Having been off and taken a picture and come back again, I still love it. Can't believe I was considering frogging it an hour ago! I must be nuts.

Anyhow, while I had the camera out I thought I'd have a fish around in a few of the bags strewn over my bedroom floor and see what I found. Look, UFO's!
An aran waistcoat for DS, just needing it's zip stitched in.

My beautiful Noni Bag, awaiting lining.

Some aran mittens that I started in February. One of which I made fingerless and the second I knitted the full glove for some reason (which of course now eludes me!).

The yarn chosen by DS when I dragged him to my LYS the other week. I had to bribe him to let me browse with a new jumper! He chose the colours himself. Luckily he's forgotten about it - as you can see it didn't get started. Oops.

The slightly worrying thing is that I am sure that there may be another one or two knocking about among the stuff in there. I really must have a proper tidy up at some point. Looking at these projects, I think I'm beginning to develop a bit of a theme here. I hadn't realised that I was so bad at getting things stitched up and finished off! Mind you, I do have rather more projects on the go than usual too. The trouble is, there's always something new I want to try. Short of cloistering myself away from the outside world (lol, like that's really going to happen!) I can't see how I can avoid discovering new projects. Does everyone else really have more will power than me or do they have UFO's stashed away all over the place too?

Sunshine and knitting don't mix

Well, not all of the time anyhow. Wow, where does the time go? I can't believe it's nearly a week since the last post! So, what have I been doing? Well, I did say I was a fair weather gardener so that's exactly what I've been doing - making the most of our somewhat unusual spring heatwave. The garden's beginning to look lovely but the knitting's been on a bit of a backburner.

Having said that, I do seem to have got quite a bit done. Lorna's baby shawl did indeed get frogged as I wasn't happy with it. There were a couple of imperfections in the yarn that were a little too noticeable. I might just be lazy and knit a cardigan instead. Hmm, will have to have a think. Either way, I need to get a move on and get it reknitted as the baby is due in about three weeks!

I'm almost finished the first of the tabi style socks - just need to finish off the ribbing on the cuff. I got sidetracked again - by another Forest Canopy. I think it was probably as I was getting frustrated with the other shawl :s Anyhow, this one has absolutely raced along (no sore elbow to contend with this time). I started it last Thursday I think and hit the 195 stitch mark last night. I've got loads of yarn left too. I weighed it last night - there's still about 35g left of the 100g hank so I should get quite a number of extra pattern repeats out of it. I'm using 5mm Denises and some 4ply 100% wool that I dyed a while back. Actually, I dyed it with a FC in mind as I enjoyed the pattern so much the first time around. It's not quite as bright in real life as it looks on the picture but the colour has pooled quite a lot in a couple of places. I can understand why some people only knit lace in plain colours now but I think I quite like the effect this time. I've tried stretching the pattern out a couple of times and I think it'll look fine - I'll be able to see better once it's blocked obviously.

On the sock front, did I mention already that I signed up for sockapalousa4? I think I did anyhow, 1000 participants it's going to be huge! Still waiting to hear who my exchange pal is going to be. Back on the AY forum I managed to volunteer myself to start up a Sockalong too. So it's going to be a Sockalong Sockathon as most people were happy to do all of the patterns suggested. In no particular order we'll be tackling Bayerische, Monkey and then an Opal Rainforest of our choice. It should be fun :D I definately need to go and buy some more sock yarn although I might tackle Monkey in some of the Jojoland Melody I bought.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Squishy Parcel

A lovely new parcel and my first experience of getting yarn from the states. I have to say I'm pretty (make that VERY) pleased. So here for your ogling pleasure is Jojoland Melody in blue/rose/wine all 10 balls of it. Yes I did say 10.

To add to that, my first laceweight yarn. It's so unbelievably fine, I can understand why people say it looks like it could break. It's sky blue and sand coloured and should knit up to something lovely - possibly the Spring Things Shawl which has sprouted another KAL. Well, have to see. I might have a look for a free pattern first as I saw on Dee's blog a link to a huge number of free triangle shawl patterns. Definately an excuse to do some browsing.
I ended up ordering far more yarn than I probably need (sound familiar anyone?) and I keep telling myself it's because I can sell some of it on ebay. Is that likely to happen? Hmm, I don't know.

Anyhow, I do have to keep going back and giving it a rub. It definately needs a project. Need to complete another UFO first.

What a lovely weekend.

So much so that not much knitting got done. I really am a fair weather gardener and have been making myself busy trying to get on top of the weeding. I think I might even be beginning to make some progress.

So back to the knitting. I have finished the socks for DS and yes, they look like they're different sizes to me too. I was so careful about writing down what I'd done for the first pair as well. Anyhow, you live and learn. So far he has refused to try them on. Typical, and after all he made all that fuss about me making him a pair as well! So here they are. I will try and gt him to model them at some point. The little monster!

I have been a bit naughty too, I started another project. I know I'm supposed to be clearing the UFO's but I just couldn't resist and my brittanys were calling out for a new project. So, the Tabi socks it is then or Lickety Split from Knitty as they are actually called. I haven't actually bought any new yarn for these so it's not all bad (Who am I trying to kid!) and they are probably going to be given to my sister. Well, the yarn was bought with the intention of knitting her some socks. I'm getting around whether to match the striping (not an unmitigated success last time) by using Opal Uni for the toes, heel and cuff. If the stripes come even part way close after that, it's a bonus. I think she'll be pleased as they're looking pretty funky so far.
I took them along to my first Stitch and Bitch meeting in Colchester last night and have actually turned the heel now too. They're a lovely bunch of ladies and hopefully I'll be able to get along to the next meeting too. It's great to be able to see other knitters in action as I've not been very brave about knitting in public so far. I have no idea why, it's not as though I'm actually new to it or anything. So here's to a new and braver me. I'm a knitter and I'm not afraid to show it!

Oh and I signed up to Sockapalooza 4. Yay my first sock swap. Definately a good excuse to get some practise in.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Do not change your needles half way through a project!

As I said yesterday I picked up the sock I had on the go again over the weekend. I've been merrily knitting away, turned the heel last night and am now on the final straight for the second sock - the leg itself. All fine and dandy you might think, well it is, sort of. I'm using one of the Opal Element colourways which is knitting up nicely but as there was such an obvious stripe around the toe, I decided to match the socks.
Having knitted the first sock (all bar the cuff) I decided to start the second on my new Brittany Birch dpn's. Well, to cut a long story short I think my tension for the second sock must differ slightly, not by much but enough to throw the striping out after the heel. Ho hum. So am I going to frog them? No dammit! I still like them and DS won't care either way.

So, the moral of the story is.... Do not change your needles half way through a project!

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

So much for an Easter break!

Have been afk for a couple of days due to a trip to Manchester to see my sister. She lives just round the corner from the "spiky old statue" as it's always referred to by DS otherwise known as the "B of the Bang". Anyhow, we thought yeah lets go to Manchester. We can get out into the Peak District, see the hills and do a spot of walking. Well, it was a nice thought anyhow. The whole weekend ended up being spent decorating! Four whole days of it and all of them sunny - which for Manchester is pretty good. Still, it was lovely to see my sis and I now have a commission for a huge painting to put up on her wall.

On the knitting front it's been slow progress (decorating is exhausting!) although I have picked up the pair of socks I started for DS again which has reminded me how much I like knitting socks. Bronte posted a link to the Blue Blog's sockapalouza 4 , I really enjoyed the AY Spring Secret Santa so I might give this a whirl as it looks like fun. I finally bought a set of pink Denises (yes I gave in) and have switched my baby shawl onto them but having seen it spread out a little more, I think I might frog it and restart it. There are a couple of places that I'm not happy with and as it's a gift, it really needs to be perfect or near to. I might go up a needle size too as the stitches seem to drag on the cable a bit - it's more or less the same diameter as needle tip (presumably the 3.75mm one, I'm using the 4mm for the shawl) unlike a regular circular needle. So I'll have to see how they pan out.

Oh and I was really naughty (shhh don't tell anyone) and bought some yarn online but there'll be more on that when the parcel arrives!

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Denises .. again

I'm sorry to keep harping on about this, well actually, I'm not. Fiona (resident AY guru and general enabler) pointed me in the direction of these... Rainbow Denises!! How cool are they? Only downside is that they are on the other side of the pond. I very nearly ordered them last night but I have been good and resisted, well so far anyway. I am going to take a wander over to Maldon tomorrow morning if I have the time and take a look at the regular ones in Ethnits. I think I'd like to have a fondle before I commit myself and also, I'm not sure I want to wait for the delivery. Well that and it gives me an excuse to have a wander round the shop - if I save on the delivery etc, I can buy more yarn! Hmm, coloured needles or more yarn - it is a bit of a dilemma. Still, if I take the munchkin with me it should limit my spending. His current phrase when I want to look at something is "it's boring" - who is it that teaches children these things? grrr

Project Amnesty... part 1

As promised, the start of my "Project Amnesty" otherwise known as the "to do" list or "those things I have started and haven't finished yet". Pictures will have to follow separately as I'm sure there's going to be a few things I might have missed. I'm hoping that this list isn't going to give the impression that I have the attention span of a goldfish. It's just that if I buy something new, I just HAVE to start it otherwise it sits and calls to me.

So here we go:
Noni Lattice Bag - still needs lining
Noni mini bag - needs decorating
Lorna's Baby Shawl - in progress
IVY - needs some lighter weight needles (hehe Denises?)
Aran hoodie
Aran fingerless gloves
T's Socks
T's Stripey jumper

hmm, only 8 things? Hopefully that's the lot but this is just the things that I can remember starting!

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Fresh from the microwave

Last weeks efforts all wound up and ready for a project. This is almost the last of Granny's yellow 4ply. I really like the way the food colour dyes the wool, it's giving me some lovely vibrant colours. The bottom was dyed using red and cochineal and where the two colours meet over the yellow yarn, it has left it a lovely peach colour. It's very hard to get a good picture of the colour even in natural daylight - it is much pinker than this shows. As much as I love the pink/red, I'm really looking forward to knitting up the green. I used both green and blue to dye it so there are some fabulous graduations in the colours, it should make either a lovely Pacific Northwest Shawl or maybe a home designed one.

Lorna's Baby Shawl

Here's the first pictures of the baby shawl I'm making for my friend. She's due in May so I have about another month to get it completed. I looked through all my baby patterns (I have lots of "vintage" pattern books) but I couldn't find one I liked and as I couldn't find one online either, I decided to make one up. I'm using Sirdar Baby Bonus 4ply in a lovely lemon yellow, it's very soft and snuggly and washing machine safe.

I keep seeing all these cute photos of babies posing on top of fabulous circular shawls - I don't remember DS ever being like that so what on earth makes me think that other people babies are like that, I don't know! Anyhow, I decided to make a round shawl with a sort of pinwheel effect in the centre. Once it's big enough the plan is to knit a lacy border around the edge. Simple enough you would think (and it is knitting up nicely if I say so myself) but I'm being hampered by the fact my needles are too short already and it only measures about 10" diameter atm!

Monday, 2 April 2007

Forest Canopy KAL

My Forest Canopy shawl finally complete and blocked. I've really enjoyed knitting up this pattern and I'm sure it won't be long before I do another. It's a really quick knit and the pattern is far simpler than I had originally thought - it's certainly very effective. I think I might use some of the yarn from my first dye batch to do a second.

Here's the pint sized model showing how charming he can be. Must be something about boys. Anyhow I think it actually fits him far better than me - even with the 3 extra pattern repeats. I've decided that I like my shawls to be big. Will just have to do another!

I have already got another lace project on the go. I forget who warned me that lace is addictive but they were certainly right! One of my old school friends is expecting so I've decided to knit her a baby shawl - it's lemon yellow, circular and I'm not using a pattern. I must be crazier than I thought - oh and my needles are not long enough already. Looks like I might be buying those Denises sooner rather than later although I have now discovered Knitpicks too. Pricey but far nicer looking - the Denises are definately ugly! It's a shame that there's not a home brand of these interchangeable needles as it's a bit of a pain having to get them shipped over.

Anyhow, back to the knitting and I must check up on the midget as it's all gone quiet.... I'm thinking I should probably be worried.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

To dye for

Some while back I inherited not only my gran's old knitting machine but also a couple of huge boxes full of cones of yarn to go with it. Most of it's acrylic and her choice of colours was a bit dubious sometimes but buried among them all I found a couple of cones of 100% 4pl wool. One still in it's natural colour and one in a somewhat revolting yellow. Not that I have anything against yellow per say but there is only so much yellow a person can wear. It's not really my colour to say the least. Anyhow, to get back to the point of this post, I'd been enthusing over some Opal sock yarn that I'd been knitting up and the self striping etc when I started to take an interest in the possibility of dyeing some.

So I started looking into how it was done, cooking it on the stove, various references to crock pots (I'm guessing that's some american invention as I'd not come across it before), cooking it up for various lengths of time (hours in some cases). I mean, who has the time to actually do all that? I know I don't work atm but I do have a very inquisitive midget under foot. It's not really all that realistic is it?

I'd read a lot about using about Kool-Aid but what I had in my cupboard was food colouring and lots of it. (The benefit of being talked into icing the family's wedding cakes over the years). So, free wool, free "dye" and I even found a bottle of white vinegar in the back of the cupboard. Bonus! It would have been rude not to give it a go. Finally back on the Angel Yarns forums I came across a link to a really helpful blog Beatlewear and the rest as they say, is history.

So, I turned my cones of yarn into ready to dye skeins. Not having either a swift or a niddy noddy I had to resort to wrapping my kitchen chairs in yarn. Yes I did feel a bit mad at the time, my DS thought I was too - he even offered to help at one point which did make me panic a bit. Needless to say I packed up quickly and left the next stage for when he would definately be unavailable for assistance. I love nursery mornings! My new skeins went into a bucket of vinegar & water and were forgotten for the night.

Having packed DS off to nursery for the morning, I fished out my food colourings and began to play. I think I must have used almost every glass pot I have in the cupboard. Anyhow here it is ready to go into the microwave and my resulting laundry ;)

Finally, the finished product. Skeined and ready to go.

To say that I'm a little pleased with my first attempt would be somewhat of an understatement. I need to do more!