Thursday, 31 January 2008

My Best of 2007

Wow, what a week it's been. I've been meaning to get back to blogging for a few days but well, sometimes real life interferes. I'll save that explanation for another time. Anyway, back to where I left off last time - best of 2007.
This has actually been more difficult to decide than I realised, there are somethings that were really obvious that I needed to include but some (like the yarns) where it was very difficult to narrow it down to just one. Anyhow, here's what I came up with.

1. your best FO of the year
I think this is probably my Noni Lattice Bag, I absolutely love it and use it a lot. It made such a great hold all, I actually use it as my knitting bag and take it along to all my SnB meetings.

2. best FO of the year made by a blog you link to
This was quite a difficult one to decide but I think the person who consistently amazes me with the things she knits is Soo. I'm not sure I can narrow it down to one particular item as she has knitted some incredible lace projects this last year but I've loved her Nieblings.

3. best yarn you tried
I tried quite a few new yarns in 2007 but one of my favourites is the Natural Dye Studio BFL sock yarn. I've got another couple of skeins in my stash, I'm just waiting for the right pattern to knit it up. I got to visit Amanda's studio last summer and it was really inspiring to see the way she dyes - and it's all completely natural. Fab.

4. best new book/mag/pattern of 2007
I experienced Interweave Knits for the first time this year, discovered Elizabeth Zimmerman and Nora Bellows and of course, Ravelry!

5. best new knitting technique or gadget you tried in 2007
Felting, definately. I've always been a bit of a handbag queen but now I can make my own fab and unique ones.

6. top 5 inspirations--what five things inspired you the most over the past year?
One of the most inspirational things of last year was discovering my local knitting group, Colchester Stitch and Bitch. I've made some fabulous friends, taught and learned new techniques, shared patterns, coffee and lots of good times. I only wish we had time to do it more than once a fortnight. They have been a real lifeline and source of joy.

7. designer who most amazed & inspired you throughout the year
Nora Bellows - her designs are so vibrant

8. knitting resolutions for 2008--what's next for you and your blog?
So 2008, what next? The blog initially was a bit of an experiment as I've never been a great one for keeping diaries but I think it's been a success - it's almost a year old! I'd like to update the style of the blog a little so expect some changes over the next few months.
For me, I'd like to get some more of my ideas converted into patterns and hopefully get some published. I'm going to be going back to work shortly and hopefully by the end of the year, I'll be a trainee teacher (gulp!). Most importantly of course, keep knitting!

Friday, 18 January 2008

Best of 2007?

I was catching up on my blog reading earlier and I came across a link to this on Moggle's blog, "What's your best of 2007?" from Knitlit's blog and of course, it got me thinking. Although I've knitted for years, I've really got back into it in a big way over the last year or so. I've perfected lots of new techniques and new yarns, had some great (and not so great) FO's , discovered the blogiverse and of course started this blog.

So, what is the best then? Hmm, I shall have to ponder on that a bit more.

Can you tell what it is yet?

Originally uploaded by Bearium
There's something about crocheting amigurumi that I find strangely satisfying. Maybe it's just the simplicity of it, after all you just keep on going round and round. It's funny, even the most complex of them often start off life looking like a skittle.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

No yarn+ saving=spinning wheel?

I want a wheel and I'm going to stamp my foot and sulk until I get one! Well, maybe not as I doubt it'll get me anywhere. Grr, it's no use, I'm just going to have to save up. Bah! So that's me on a yarn diet - it's a good job I've made the most of it in the last couple of weeks then. Actually, I've been pretty good, I've only bought one or two bits in the sales but it's so hard to resist when you see a bargain. Nevermind whether you need it or not - a bargain is a bargain!

Ok I admit it, I have a yarn habit and the thought of not being able to feed my habit is a little daunting but I really want that spinning wheel. Not that I can actually use one yet you have to understand but I really really want one. So I'd better share the last of my newly acquired stash purchases before I go into withdrawal.

Debbie Bliss Pure Silk. This is my first DB purchase and tbh, I think it's usually far too pricey but this is amazingly soft and strokeable and incredibly cheap at £2.50 a skein. I was restrained and only picked up 3 which should be enough for a small shawl, maybe even another Forest Canopy.4 balls of Patons Misty for a North Roe Shawl. Yes it is black and no I'm not completely crazy, my cousin is a bit of a goth (actually that's a huge understatement, she's a mega goth!) and needs a new shawl.The last of the stash is another ball of Opal sock yarn. Crap colour but mega bargain and I can over-dye it to something more useable.This last thing is not really stash but a pattern to help me use some stash - my Fibertrends clog pattern. I've been preparing skeins for the dye pot this afternoon so I should be able to have a go at my first pair this weekend. Yay. Even bigger yay, the child's size pattern goes up to a 9" foot so I'm hoping I might even be able to squeeze a pair out for even my mega big feet. Oh and today I made myself something to make my life easier, a niddy noddy. Why oh why didn't I get one earlier, it's so quick to wind up yarn with! No more backache from prepping my yarn to dye, fabulous.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Finished - Baby Surprise Jacket

I finally stitched the buttons onto my BSJ this morning so now it's all ready for wrapping and delivery. As I've said before, brown's not usually my first choice of colour but I'm really pleased with this. The stripes definately lift the colour as well although next time I knit this, I might not put in quite so many or maybe make them bigger so there aren't so many ends to darn in!

I didn't actually buy any buttons until last week as I really wasn't quite sure which colour to choose. I came across these ones last week and they're perfect. They even have a little stitching detail around them which picks up the colour in the yarn. The right choice of buttons can make or break a garment so I'm glad I waited.

Right the final details:
Pattern is the Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman (bought from KnitnCaboodle here in the UK)
Needles: 4.5mm 80cm circular
Yarn: Sirdar Bonus DK (used about 75g of the ball) and odds and ends for the stripes
The verdict, will I knit this again? Yes, most definately. I loved the simple construction and the finished shape.

Monday, 14 January 2008

You need to lay off the caffeine more

Sometimes I find it really quite painful reading things that I have written earlier. No matter how much I edit things at the time and jiggle them about, I always manage to spot some glaring error the next time around. My sentences are too long, did I really mean to say that like that? You know, that kind of thing. I know it's probably me being picky again but I really can't stand bad grammar and in this day and age, there's no real excuse for spelling mistakes when most computer programs have some sort of built in spell checker.

Everywhere I go these days it seems there's yet another notice somewhere with a mistake in it. Sometimes it's really hard to stop myself taking out a pen and correcting it! I'm as guilty as the next person of not using the spell checker as often as perhaps I should but at least I am aware of what I'm doing. Like actively choosing to ignore the American dictionary that is built into this program and many others. As I've ticked every box that I've found so far to say that yes, I am actually English, I'm guessing that there isn't a way of changing dictionary in blogger. I have looked. Perhaps not hard enough? Anyway, I'll just have to keep on ignoring it and adding my own words as I go along.

I think perhaps I'm having "one of those evenings" as I'm finding things to gripe about. It's been a long day but I should be blogging about more interesting things like the stash I've acquired when I'm supposed to be abstaining and the like. Maybe it's just because I'm tired and maybe I need to take my own advice and lay off the caffeine for a bit. I seem to have been mainlining it all day, well more than usual anyhow. It's this cold and damp weather that does it, I just find myself constantly switching on the kettle. Hmm, so what next then? Cup of tea? Decaf of course ..... it is nearing bedtime and I do want to get some sleep tonight. lol

Slippers and mittens

I've been threatening to knit the MM a pair of slippers for the last few months, probably ever since I came across the Fibertrends clog pattern. Typically, the same day that I finally ordered a copy of it, someone from the AY forum posted a link to these equally cute felted slippers: Fireside Footies. Of course, I couldn't wait for the clog pattern to arrive so I fished around in the stash and cast them on straight away.

They knit up extremely quickly once you get the hang of the pattern. It looked really straightforward initially but for some reason I couldn't make the numbers work for the heel turn. I must have knitted it and unpicked it three or four times before I fudged it to get where I needed to be. I also posted to the AY knitting forum to check t wasn't just me. Luckily Fiona, one of the resident sock gurus came to the rescue to confirm that actually, the pattern was unclear and that from the comments after the pattern, the writer seemed to intend it to be a square heel. Fiona's explanation is so clear that I'm just going to post it here.

Turn Heel
R1: S1 P16 P2tog P1
R2: S1 K11 K2tog K1 -
at this point there are 14 sts in the middle section which is a big clue! - and 4 each side still to be decreased awayTurn
R3: S1 P to
2st before the break (the last turn) P2tog, P1 Turn
R4: S1 K to
2st before the break (the last turn) K2tog, K1 - there are still 14 sts in the middle section, and 3 each side
work rows 3 & 4 for
6 more rows (until no st remain to be worked) (14 st should remain)

Hey presto, two square square heels later and we have a pair of slippers ready for felting. I thought that I'd just point out at this stage that the decreases for the toes need to be completed twice for each round, you'll see what I mean if you knit them.

They look rather stumpy don't they? He does have pretty big feet for his age so I'm hoping that when they felt they're going to shrink small enough as it was a pattern written for adults. If not, mum'll end up with an extra pair of slippers as hers are tiny.

I'm beginning to realise that it's usually a mistake to allow the MM to have too much input into the colour choice of the things I knit for him. Luckily the bulk of the slipper was going to be knitted in blue as that was what was available but I offered to put a coloured stripe around the top for a bit of interest and guess what he chose.... pink! I had to laugh but then he's still a bit young to understand that pink isn't generally a colour choice for boys.

I don't know whether it's just me being picky but if I had written a pattern and realised that people were having problems with it, I'd want to amend it to make it clear. Maybe it's my inner perfectionist trying to make itself heard again but I actually find it really frustrating that other people don't feel the need. Obviously I could just write all my own patterns and I do dabble with that and invariably I amend things as I go along but why reinvent the wheel? If you come across a really nice pattern, why not knit it? Anyhow, minor rant over.

Righty ho, what next. Mittens. I finally managed to get a reasonable picture of my aran mittens. No matter what I did, I couldn't quite do the colour justice as it is actually a much deeper red than the scarlet in the photo. They have a pretty diamond cable up both sides and are finished off at the top with a twisted rib to match the cuff. My fingers only just poke out at the top so they're quite toasty for fingerless mitts. These are actually the second pair of these I've knitted as I made a pair for my sister last winter in cream - in fact, the same time as these were started originally. Hers actually match my aran beanie.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Waving not drowning

You know, I've never quite managed to get to grips with this whole posting everyday business but then this week has actually been quite a busy week. Anyhow, I'm back again and once more sat in front of my pc and I have pictures like I promised!

So, what have I actually been doing? Where do I start? Well, there's the whole new school run and boy has that changed a few things around here. I'm looking forward to things settling down a bit now that the Mighty Midget is going to be in school every day. Whoohoo, free time! (lol, who am I trying to kid!) I've been knitting of course and this week was Stitch and Bitch week so I got to meet up with all my lovely knitting pals who I haven't seen since before Christmas.

Right, how about some pictures then. This is the first time (I think) that I have had knitting goodies for Christmas and I'm really pleased with the selection. Mum always asks me what I want and usually I have no idea so it was great to be able to say, actually I'll have a book. I gave her a list of some that I've been eyeing up for a while and left it up to her. I didn't just get one though, I got three! Fantastic. How about these then, I have something for almost all my current knitting passions - Spin to Knit as I'm determined to get to grips with spinning this year. Andean Folk Knits, mostly for this little purse bag pattern but also because it reminds me of my time spent backpacking in Peru and finally, Heirloom Lace. There are so many beautiful lace patterns in it, I'm not entirely sure where to start.

My aunt also bought me this pack of strange brown yarn to play with. It's the strangest stuff I've seen in a while, almost like a string with bits of chenille woven into it. Not quite sure what I'm going to do with it but I'm sure I'll think of something.

Finally the last of my knitting gifts and probably the most surprising. I opened up a parcel from my sister to discover a scarf. She taught herself to knit - how cool is that! I lured her into John Lewis' last time I was in Manchester and showed her the delights of the knitting department. She was apparently hooked and went back again after I left and I have this lovely snuggly shawl to show for it. Thanks sis :)

Thursday, 3 January 2008

A quick finish? Well almost.

I thought I'd be clever and share a quickie FO with you all but I can't for the life of me take a decent picture of it. There's something about the red that makes all the lights flare off it. It'll have to wait for better daylight but with the weather we've got currently, I'm not entirely sure when that'll be :s Anyhow, I made mittens. Aran ones.

Actually, if I'm completely honest, I found a UFO when I was tidying up yesterday and as it was an almost finished pair of mittens and we have the perfect weather for wearing them, I thought I'd finish them off. So it is a bit of a cheat to gloat about them but hey, that's one less project on the needles so it has to be a good thing doesn't it?

Ooh and the last of my Christmas presents arrived this morning. I got knitting books! Whoohoo, can you tell I'm excited? I need to take more pictures so I'll be back with them later.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

the one where I ran out of wool

It was all going so well, the MM picked the colours, I picked the pattern. Changed my mind, re-wrote it. Mum said, I'll knit it if you want, I said ok. Mum started, got sidetracked by a new aran cardi in a fab raspberry colour and I ended up knitting it anyway.

Mum had done the back and part of the first sleeve so I picked up where she left off. Knocked off the sleeves quick smart and zoomed through the two fronts. The ball was starting to look a bit on the small side so I started to knit both at the same time from either end of the ball. I love knitting kids cardi's in DK. They grow so quickly, you can easily knock one out in a week.

Anyhow, I digress. The ball got smaller and smaller then to my horror, about an inch from the tops, ran out! The ball band was of course missing by now but I drove down to my LYS in the vain hope that they'd still have the same shade. Which, of course, they didn't. Nevermind, it's blue thinks I, I'll pick up a close match and stripe in in or something. Of course when I got home and took another look at it, the shade was so completely off that I put it down and haven't looked at it since.

Well, until yesterday. I have a school jumper to knit up so I thought I should probably take a look at this before casting on (yet) another project. I am trying to reduce the number of WIP's again. So I dragged it out from under all the Christmas debris. "You know", I thought to myself, "those fronts look rather big....." and that's where i got out the tape measure again. At some point between doing the sleeves and starting the fronts my tension changed. Overnight literally. Whether it was the speed I was knitting at or the other projects I was doing at the same time, who knows. It's not out by much probably about half stitch per inch but the two fronts together measure a good 2 inches more than the back. 2 inches!!

So there's good new and bads news. I will obviously have to frog both fronts (grrr) but I may now have enough of the original yarn left to complete the cardigan. Yay!

Anyhow, I cast on for the school jumper instead. Fickle, me? lol

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year

Sometimes the simplest titles are the best aren't they? I think I've been in a bit of a post Christmas slump but now I'm back and hopefully firing on all cylinders again for the New Year. I've dropped in and out of my usual online haunts a few times but not actually got much done. I have a lot of bloglines to catch up on - I have a feeling it might take a while to get around to reading everyone's posts.

The build up to this years celebrations have been the most stressful in the last few years by a long way and to be honest, I'm glad it's all over and we can get back to some sense of normality. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas and the whole giving presents thing but this year has been so hectic. It's also the first year that the Mighty Midget has really hooked into the whole spirit of Christmas, well the commercial side of it anyway. I guess it's the age thing - he's four and a half and has been so excited about everything. In fact, he's been hyperactive since the middle of December. He's beginning to calm down now thank goodness (the sugar and sweets are beginning to run out too) although he has been spoilt completely rotten as per usual.

Actually, this year is going to be all about change for both the MM and I. It's finally come around, my little man is about to start school. The uniform is all here, unfortunately it all needs ironing and labelling but once that's done, he's going to look so cute - and so grown up! So what about me? Well, it's time for me to start earning a living again and it's also make or break time for me to get my ass into gear and actually get my application in for the GTP (Graduate Teacher Training Programme). I've been talking about doing it for so long now but realisitically, unless I apply by the end of January, I'm unlikely to get a place for next September. I've got to stop making excuses and just get it done.

So how about a picture to lighten things up a little? Well, the Craft Fayre didn't turn out to be a complete waste of time, I ended up selling a couple more bags just before Christmas and this was one that I was particularly pleased with. Bags are made to be used so I hope that the recipient loved it as much as I did. I'd quite like to have kept this one for myself!

One thing I must remember for next year is to start my Christmas knits much earlier as I didn't get nearly as many made as I'd intended. Actually, I only managed two! One pair of Pirate Mittens for the MM and a BSJ for my friends baby. If I'm honest, the BSJ isn't quite finished as it needs buttons but I haven't caught up with my friend yet this hoilday. Definately a priority for the New Year. I also got knitting presents this year for the first time and they're superb. I'm going to save them for another post now though as this one's turned out to be a little bit epic.