Thursday, 23 October 2008

woohoo stash!

or rather, lets take a look at what fell into my bag at Ally Pally.

I finally made it to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace this year and wow, what a revelation. It was a horrendously early start involving a couple of buses and a coach trip into London but boy was it worth it. Once inside and I got my first sight of the crochet hyperbolic reef, I even forgave the two ladies who sat behind me talking beading at the tops of their voices for the whole of the journey there (and actually all the way home again!). It's about fifteen years since I've been to Ally Pally - I went to my University May Ball there, and I'd forgotten quite how big it is. It's massive and for the show, filled wall to wall with every type of knitting, stitching, embroidery and textile craft need I could possibly have. I've never been to a "knitting show", let alone one on that scale and reckon I spent most of the first hour wandering round with my mouth hanging open. I'd originally planned to go along Nadia, one of my fellow Colchester knitters but a family funeral intervened and I found myself wandering around for the first hour by myself. Even though I've travelled quite extensively by myself in the past, I actually find attending these sort of events by myself quite daunting so I was really pleased when I bumped into Helen (another friend from Colchester) after an hour and we trundled around together for the rest of the day. I was pretty restained and am glad I went with a budget, it would be so easy to spend a fortune there although apart from a few special offers, there weren't many savings to be made for buying there and then. For me what was so great was being able to go round and have a squish of the yarn. Yes, I have to admit it, I spent most of the day stroking yarn like a real weirdo. Still with so many yarn brands on hand that I'd never seen in the flesh, it would have been rude not to. In the end I came home with mostly sock yarns and all brands I couldn't get locally so here goes, here's my photo haul. First the socks yarns, Lang Jawoll Cotton Jacquard, Noro and some Fabel. All of which I've been wanting to try. The Noro has a definate crunchy feel to it so I'm hoping it's going to wash up much softer - I have heard rumours of people using conditioner on it but I hope I won't have to go to those lengths. Baby alpaca laceweight from Knitncaboodle. I just have to have it, it's so soft! and finally some fibre from Piiku. I absolutely love the colour but don't think it's suitable for spinning. I can feel a needle felt endeavour coming on. Just wish I'd remembered to buy some needles for it.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

So what gives?

I promised a proper catch up a while back and so I guess I'd better spill what's been going on and where I'm at. There's not going to be much knitting content (if any) in this post so feel free to stop reading now.

So what gives? I mentioned previously that I was lacking motivation to write and well that's mostly because I've been a little stressed out by recent events. This is mainly a knitting blog so I've probably never made it clear about how my life is set up but basically I'm a single parent and I have a beautiful little boy who's now in school. I'm just beginning to get my life back on track. Or so I thought. We have a pretty good relationship with his family but at the end of the day, being on opposite sides of the world is never easy and it's been about three years since we actually saw the MM's father. So where is this going? Well that would be the sudden offer of plane tickets to Australia and the complete emotional roller coaster that it started.

I think I have gone from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other over the last few months and it's left me completely reeling. I swear I'm spottier now than I ever was as a teenager! From unsatisfactory meetings with the school headmaster to negotiating with the education board to take holiday during term time. I ended up writing almost an essay on the school holiday application to justify why exactly I am choosing to disrupt his education and how I'm going to work around this. I'm generally a fairly private person (yes I do know I write a blog) but have had to lay myself open emotionally to almost complete strangers. I've never felt more out of control in my life and I don't like it. I'm obviously more like my mother than I realised - I'm a closet control freak!

Just when I thought it was all sorted out and the tickets arrive, I get slammed again this time by the bureaucrats of the Australian government. Get this, to enable the MM to have a tourist visa to visit Australia, I now have to prove that I have the sole legal right to make decisions for him. So now, I have to go and find myself a solicitor and get them to certify copies of his birth certificate to say that yes, I have. Who'd have thought back then I'd have been so pleased now that his father wasn't there to register his birth?! Once I've sent that to them then will then "reconsider" his application. Getting his first passport was a complete breeze by comparison.

Still, there are lots of positives to this trip too and once I've finished detangling all the red tape we can start thinking about actually packing our bags. The trip's planned for the end of November so I guess I should really start counting down now.

Sometimes I've been happy, sometimes I've been gloomy but can I just say a great big thank you to all my friends who have listened to me and talked me down (or up) when I've needed it. I raise my cuppa to you all seeing as it's far to early in the day to be anything stronger. So anyhow, now that that's all out of the way normal service can resume and the (ir)regular knit posts can continue.

She spins!

As you might have guessed from a previous post, I have a spinning wheel now, albeit a loaner and I love it. The day I picked it up, I went straight home, grabbed some fibre and started playing. In fact, I played with it so much that weekend, I gave myself backache and set off my elbow again. I had to stop knitting for a few days until it settled down. Still, it was worth it, I can spin. Well, sort of. I span two singles from the remains of the Corriedale from my spindle kit and ended up with marmelade yarn. It's pretty slubby and very bright but it's definately yarn. I signed up for the first of Diane's Spin tutorials and broke out the BFL from my PM Woolcraft splurge and merrily span away. I'm actually really pleased with this yarn, it's so soft and the colours are fantastic. It reminds my of Monet's waterlilies - a very happy accident as I just asked for a mixture of blues and greens.
Finally I span the Corriedale from Babylonglegs and now have this funky green yarn.I've no idea what I'm going to make with it any of it yet but who cares!

The thing about leaving it such a long time in blogging is that life moves on so quickly and I've been back to the Spinning Guild since I started writing this. I can't give all the ladies there enough praise as they are so friendly and helpful. I'm still spinning away on my borrowed wheel and loving it. I've currently got some of my own dyed corriedale on the bobbin (the berry coloured one on the right) and am making plans for the merino I bought. This time at the guild, we had a drum carder and hackle demonstration which was superb. I'm all inspired and seeing the simple construction of the hackle, I think I might have a go at building one. The guild do own both a hackle and a drum carder but I'm at the back of a long queue to get hold of either. Needs must and I can't wait that long!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

FO - Crochet BSJ

Well, strictly speaking it's not actually a baby surprise jacket, it's the All-in-One Crochet Cardigan pattern from Stitch Stud. By hey, it's basically a rather clever crochet version of the pattern without the catchy name. I used the US version and translated it myself as I was too impatient to wait for the UK one to come out but you can get both from his website if you click the pattern link. Hey ho.
Right the project details, I used Sirdar Baby Bonus DK and whilst it looks completely yellow on the picture is actually strands of yellow and white plied together. I know it's acrylic yarn but I go back to the Sirdar Bonus again and again as it's so practical and incredibly good value. The pattern used almost a complete ball of yarn. One of these days I will actually remember to measure the size of the finished pattern but from memory it was probably for about a 3 month size baby.

For some reason, I decided to use the 4mm bamboo hook that I got free with Let's Knit and while I persevered and used it throughtout, I don't think I'll be using it again. I'm not sure I like bamboo hooks (perhaps it's just the cheap ones?), in fact I have some bamboo dpn's too and again I find they're just a bit too grippy. Good for some yarns I guess so I'm not going to be chucking them out just yet. I'll be going back to my old metal aero's for the next project. I guess these days they'd probably be described as vintage but I love them. They're so smooth and the grip is in just the right place.

Will I make the pattern again? Yes for sure. I just need someone else to have another baby to give me another excuse to make it again!