Thursday, 30 June 2005

Not really here

I didn't intend to post today, but it seems that Blogger have just added an image upload feature, so I had to try it out. I guess it works; fab! I think I've got the alignment a little muddled though as I was trying to "tweak" it afterwards. Bad move.

Here for your delectation is a pic of my fabulous package of Clover silk yarn as it arrived from HipKnits:
A box of heaven
Plus I admit to buying yarn for Christmas projects already. Well it was going for a great price on ebay; what more incentive does a girl need?! It's a taupe ladder yarn destined to be a shawl type affair for a relative:
Yes, Christmas projects already!
I wore my grape top for the first time today - and have to admit to chickening out and wearing a camisole underneath. I can't be having my daughter's (male) teacher or the butcher staring at my lingerie now can I?! ;-)
I've finished the fronts of my peachy bolero and started the sleeves today. That Linen Print knits up sooooo quickly! Pics soon...

Wednesday, 29 June 2005

What have you done for me lately?

"You" meaning "Blogland" and it's associated processes & people. Well quite a lot actually. I don't know where this train of thought came from, but I realised the other evening that Blogging Has Seriously Enhanced My Knitting. I guess that makes me a BEK - a Blog-Enhanced Knitter. Or something.

So what has it done? Well try this lot for starters:

Physical Benefits:
- improved my techniques and skills (by inspiring me to go on Jane Crowfoot's Professional Finishing course and of course by seeing the fab projects that all you others knit-bloggers have done)
- removed some of my bad habits (e.g. joining yarn in the middle of a row)
- enhanced my toolset (e.g. Clover Chibi darning needles, bamboo straight needles, Addi Turbo circulars, beaded stitch markers, etc!)
- enhanced my yarn stash (by introducing me to online stores such as HipKnits)
- increased the number of knitting friends whom I "know" online

Psychological Benefits:
- improved my confidence in my knitting
- spend time finding the fit, styles, and colours that make me feel good in the garments I make
- increased my obsessive compulsion to spend every spare minute knitting!
- encouraged me to have a go at different projects (e.g. I'm now considering knitting up a pair of socks, and also have a ball of Rowan KSH & beads to knit some fine lacy project)
- made me want to knit what I wear and wear what I knit!
- encouraged me to join in (SP4, SP5, to comment on other knitting blogs & start hunting for a KAL that I fancy)

There's only 1 drawback: reduced amount of time for actually knitting (it's spent blogging & reading knitting blogs instead)! Still that's 11:1 which is pretty good going.

So, everyone, THANKS!! :-)

Monday, 27 June 2005

New project & a bargain - what a great day!

Well I have started a half-sleeved bolero cardigan for myself as promised. I'm using my stash (note the halo!) of Rowan Linen Print in Peachy with a modified pattern from my Knitware Sweaters program and it's looking good so far:

I love quick projects!

I did start the right front last night but unpicked it to change the edge shaping to look more like the lovely little bolero from the summer Vogue Knitting mag.

Today was bargain day! I picked up a couple of balls of yarn as an extra gift for my Secret Pal's birthday, and couldn't resist this lonely little ball of Rowan Classic Cashsoft 4-ply for a scarf for me - well it cost just £1.97!

One yummy scarf-to-be

It's soooo soft!

I also picked up this:

A natty little device

It's an inexpensive little plastic pompom-maker, and the inner rings pop out to make smaller pompoms if required. Saves me cutting out cardboard rings all the time; my girls love pompoms!

I'm off to restart that bolero front - back soon with more progress pics!

Saturday, 25 June 2005

Pressies for everyone

What a great day. Last night I finished my grape top, and wore it for part of today; here's a shot my 6yo daughter took of me wearing it:

Wow, it fits as if it were made for me!

I'm really pleased with it as it fits beautifully and the All Seasons Cotton is a joy to wear.

As promised, here are the pics of my first Secret Pal 5 package which I received first thing this morning. First, my girls wearing their new tops which were part of the package:

A big hit! :-)

They fit great, and the girls have worn them all day. They were so pleased to receive such a lovely surprise. Thank you Secret Pal from them!

Then my part; lots of pressies for me here!

What a great selection!

It includes 4 balls of delicate pink cotton yarn and a coordinating dusky pink slub cotton yarn, plus 2 balls of variegated pink crochet thread which I could use as a edging for a top made from the cotton yarns. Then there's a lovely pink iron-on flower, some fab beads, 2 laces, a lovely handmade paper card, some delicious almond nougat type smooth chocolate, a vegetable sauce mix (apparently used all the time there) and 3 packs of yummy-looking hot chocolate drink mix!

Wow! I can't believe there was so much packed into that one box, and apparently there's more to come! The cost of items must be much lower there (Croatia) than here; which is great. Thank you so much Secret Pal for such a wonderful selection. The chocolate is gorgeous BTW - and almost all gone. ;-)

Christmas has come early..

Oooh, I just received the most amazing package from my Secret Pal - all the way from Croatia! I can't believe how many goodies are packed into that box - but you'll have to wait until later for the details. ;-)
Many many thanks to you Secret Pal, you are the best!

Friday, 24 June 2005

The tool for the job

We're definately on the home straight with the grape top now. I finished knitting the front last night - and the incredibly easy neckline shaping was a dream to knit; it follows the stitch pattern beautifully.
Today I grafted the shoulders together; with my recently-acquired knowledge from Jane Crowfoot's finishing course and my Clover Chibi darning needle with the hooked end it was sew (sorry, bad pun) easy!

How easy is that? VERY!

I'm using my cutting board from my patchworking phase to use as a flat base perched across my knees, and it works like a dream.

So the shoulders are now grafted, and I've worked crab stitch (reverse double crochet) around the neckline. The pattern says to pick up stitches around the armhole, purl 1 row, then cast off. All that for 1 row? I don't think so. I'm going to seam the sides and work the crab stitch around the armholes too. Much quicker, easier, and more consistent I think.

The finishing has been going so well that I've even finished off the edging for Angel, and have pinned it in place ready for slip stitching. OMG, I might even finish that soon too!

Monday, 20 June 2005

Too hot to knit!

Yes, you read it right. I can't quite believe it myself but this weekend it was too hot to knit. I guess I could have sat indoors in front of a fan, but I didn't dare miss possibly the hottest and sunniest weekend of this summer. After all my knitted summer tops should look even better with a (slight) healthy glow to my skin. :-)

We had a fabulous time at my in-laws' place in the
Clee Hills; such a beautiful place. We sat in the garden until 11:20pm on Saturday evening, overlooking the hills, illuminated simply by a few candles and an amazingly bright moon, drinking home-made wine, and watching a few small bats going about their nightly business. No really, there were bats; it wasn't just the wine. ;-)

Anyway it was finished off with a very dramatic storm yesterday evening as we arrived back home; thunder and lightning with torrential rain, followed by small pebbles of clear ice raining down (hail stones? more like glass pebbles!), and then a river of water flooding down our street from the main road on higher ground. We were very lucky in that nothing was damaged, so it was all quite astounding to watch.

So, the end result of all that was very little knitting - just about 6 rows last night! I did manage to crochet the beaded edge onto my mohair wrap, and I really like it:

It's a beady edge wrap!

I still don't think I could get much wear from it due to my sensitive skin, although it is very soft. So I'm undecided. Should I keep it or not?

I did enjoy the beading experience, although it wasn't knitting with them. Threading them onto the yarn wasn't nearly as painful as I'd imagined, and I have lots of beads and Kid Silk Haze left. Hmm... ;-)

The current weather has gripped me with another obsession - I MUST knit a half-sleeve bolero type cardi and I must knit it very soon! Something along the lines of
this with slightly longer sleeves. I do have a 500g pack of Rowan Linen Print in the Peachy shade which I think would go nicely with a lot of my clothing, and it means I would get to use up some stash. Wahay!

Finally it's confession time. I've been keeping an eye on the
Hip Knits site all day for the earliest view of their latest silk yarns, and have succumbed to 400g of this scrummy silk yarn in Clover! Sigh, I'm in heaven. :-)

Thursday, 16 June 2005

Time to reveal the secret

OK, it's time for you to see the secret project. Remember I spotted a few projects I liked in the latest issue of Sandra magazine? One of them was this one which I said at the time looked like a quick project - well it is! Just 5 days after starting (ok the second time around!) the back is finished:

Halfway there!

I love this top. It's a really addictive pattern, and works up very quickly in the substituted Rowan All Seasons Cotton - which I got gauge with first time. :-) The front is now started, so watch this space for a FO soon..

A few days ago I was given (yes, for free!) 3 older Vogue Knitting hardback books that the lovely
Jen was clearing out - thanks Jen! I've had a quick look through the "Vogue Knitting Vintage Collection" and spotted this which is definately on my To-Do list:

Neat scarf

It's just so neat! I love the beaded corners too. That's it for now; back to that knitting..

Wednesday, 15 June 2005

The sky is full of flying goodies!

What an exciting day; not only am I about to send off my first Secret Pal parcel, I also received an email to say my Secret Pal is sending my first parcel today too! Wooo-hoooh! That postie had better watch out that he doesn't get pounced on.. ;-)

I had a wonderful evening last night; for the first time in ages I had the entire evening free of other jobs and could happily knit undisturbed for about 3 hours. Aaahhh, wonderful. :-) I made good progress on my secret project - which I will shortly reveal as I plan to post a picture of it. I'm about halfway up the back and I adore it. It's so addictive as it's a travelling pattern AND variegated yarn - well kind of; I've substituted Rowan All Seasons Cotton in the print shade "Grape" and it's working up a treat. I can't help but stay up way too late with this project - it's always a case of "just one more row..". You know what I mean.

Actually I only kept it a secret to start with as I was rather embarrassed about having bought even more yarn to do this project.. But hey, I'm a knitter, right? That's what we do! Anyway it's only 6 balls of ASC, which I'm buying 2 balls at a time as the very helpful and gracious Rose has put all the same dyelot in layby for me. Thanks Rose. :-)

BTW thanks for all the fab comments you've all left; I *love* to get new comments. :-) I also get them emailed to me with the intention of replying to them, but the emails nearly always have an anonymous address so I can't reply. Does anyone know how I can get round this? Do I have to block anonymous comments? I wasn't sure as the comment always links to the commenters profile and so on to their blog, but then I have to reply by leaving a comment on their blog. Hmmm, it's a puzzle.

Better go now. Hopefully I'll return with pics later.. :-)

Monday, 13 June 2005

Ready for the off

OK, the blocking worked and I'm very pleased with the end result. Here is Branching Out done in Jaeger Alpaca 4-ply with 28 repeats (I could probably have squeezed another 2 repeats in but enough is enough!):

Ready for take-off!

And now that I have your attention, here's a sneak preview of my secret project:

Sneak preview

Bet you can't guess what it is yet! A clue: it's for me. ;-)

BTW have you cast your vote in the
Great Blocking Debate yet?

On a floral note, my home is filled with my most gorgeous scent of these flowers in almost every room:

Need that scratch 'n' sniff feature again..!

Aren't I lucky?!

Sunday, 12 June 2005

Virgin activity

Yes, it's true, this is my first time. (Blush). I've never blocked before. Shock, horror! I usually just steam iron the offending pieces gently until they submit. ;-)

This time is different. I finished the
Branching Out scarf at 12:50am this morning (yes that's like the middle of the night!). It looked so delicate and soft, and the yarn is so yummy (Jaeger Alpaca 4-ply) that I decided to Do It The Right Way. Here are my attempts this morning:

I never could keep a straight line!

I think it will be fine. When it's dry I'm packing it in tissue paper and sending it off to my Secret Pal; hope she likes it!

Ali asked about the difficulty of the pattern. I'm not into lace knitting, but I found this easy enough. I would recommend lace beginners (like me!) to sit quietly (no kids, no TV!) and work on a few repeats slowly; by about the 10th repeat you should be getting a good feel for it. I never got to the point where I could do the whole thing without looking at the chart, but I did get a lot quicker.

I still feel awkward using circular needles (you don't have to for this but I wanted the practise), so if I make another I will use straights. And I may well make another; once you get into the rhythm of the pattern it goes pretty fast.

Right, back to my secret project - which I happily frogged completely at 1am this morning; no I haven't gone completely mad, just wait and see!

Friday, 10 June 2005

It's done!

Yes, finally, the crochet diagonal baby blanket is finished:

How do you make an interesting photo of a blanket?

I've now washed it in my Wooly Wash from
Getknitted and it's drying a little outside in the evening sunshine. I'll get it in soon and lay it out properly to finish off drying. Tomorrow it'll be packaged in tissue paper ready for the new arrival (my nephew) in August.

I love the diagonal construction of this; it makes for a lovely bias drape and means that the final stretches bring renewed excitement as the rows get shorter and shorter. I managed to finish them and do the edging in our sunny back garden this afternoon whilst the children were playing. Bliss!

OK, I have to admit to enlarging my stash too. I actually bought this yarn from ebay last month, but I wasn't in when it was delivered and the postie forgot to leave a card. How helpful. In the meantime, when it hadn't arrived, I obtained the proof of posting from the seller and collected a compensation claim form from the Post Office (25 minutes of queuing for one delightful little form!). Then the seller emailed me to say it had been returned to her, and so it finally arrived this morning. What a journey!

I'd actually lost interest in the yarn a little during this whole episode, but that was soon rectified when I opened it today - such vibrant colours! It's a wool/acrylic mix which I'm probably going to use for items for my girls. I have 500g of this colourway:

Carnival yarn!

Plus another 150g of this colourway:

Rainbow yarn!

Now on to the obligatory garden photo; a pinkish yellow (very) old rose in our front garden. I have no idea of it's name, but the scent is just divine:

We need a scratch & sniff pic here!

I admit I've started another project, but I'm keeping that a secret for a little while as the
Branching Out scarf and Angel edging are so close to completion. You'll have to watch this space!

Tuesday, 7 June 2005

The stash has landed!

Yes, my order from Wollywood in Germany is here in double-quick time! I'm impressed. I ordered the yarn last Wednesday evening, received email confirmation the next day, and less than 1 week later it's here:

Lana Grossa "Presto" in shade 06

I guess I'll be making that top soon! Also included was a freebie - a Filati pattern book in English; excellent:

A freebie!

I'll definately be using that company again. :-)

Also today I asked the trusty Rose her opinion, and ended up buying this gorgeous shade of Rowan Kidsilk Haze to do the beaded edging on my mohair wrap:

Yes, I will do my first beaded edging!

Bonus - there will be plenty of yarn left to make a gorgeous featherlight scarf. I'm a happy bunny today. :-)

My girls are happy too - my received their Snazaroo facepaint set I ordered from ebay last week and the girls decided to use it immediately:

Note the bigger toothy gap!

Her own design ;-)

Smiles all round. The house is full of a luscious vanilla scent too; I treated myself to a sale pack of vanilla bodywash and eau de toilette from
The Body Shop today, and I gave a tiny bit to the girls in their evening bath. Good move! Right, where are those knitting needles..?!

Monday, 6 June 2005

Secret Pal 5 activity

Oooh, I do love these Secret Pal exchanges! I heard from the Pal who's spoiling me last week, and now I have the details of the Pal I'm to spoil too. I've been studying her blog and have come up with a shopping list. I just adore buying knitting related items, even if they're not for me!

I've just placed my first order with Getknitted, which includes some woolly wash and kinked darning needles for me; I saw Jane Crowfoot using those kinked needles during my finishing techniques day course, and they look really easy to use. Anything that makes seaming easier has to be a good purchase!

Right, I'd better go and prepare the strawberries for DH's pud as he's looking like a sad puppy ;-), make tomororw's sandwiches (groan!) and then get on with my Branching Out scarf - now that's more like it. :-)

Saturday, 4 June 2005

Domestic bliss

Ah, life is good. We're having a wonderful end to a wonderful week of work and school. Today started with a baking session, which meant we a batch of the most delicicous muffins to eat made from apple, carrot, raisins, maple syrup, and honey (etc). These are the remaining two for me and DH tonight:


After that I did some unintended hard work in my garden. I was just going to plant my bean and pea plants, but ended up clearing a little section of the border for them so that I can get to them more easily. It doesn't look much, but it took about 3 hours:

The new veg patch

Yes the obelisk is wonky; it just about survived a neighbour's massive tree crashing across 3 gardens (our being the last one) a couple of winters ago.

Then of course there's the knitting part of the day. First up my mohair wrap is off the needles; I just need to sew in the ends and find a suitable yarn to use to edge it with a row of tiny blue/purple beads across the wavy ends:

Wave hello!

And yes, I have to admit, I did start something new. It's just a small project so I can justify it to myself whilst waiting for my Lana Grossa yarn to arrive from Germany. It's Knitty's "Branching Out" in lilac Jaeger Alpaca:

What? A new WIP?!

I'm quite getting into this lacy knitting, although I still find it awkward working on circular needles. I know I didn't have to for this, but I wanted the practice.

The edging for Angel is creeping along, and I've now reached the decrease rows of the diagonal crochet baby blanket! Yippee - nearly done!

Wednesday, 1 June 2005

Flaming June

Pardon? "Flaming June"? More like "flamin' weather". I took my girls with my MIL to Wonderland today, and we had a good time but returned home thoroughly soaked and cold. As we got on Teddy's Train back to the Town Park, my youngest daughter said "Look Mommy, I've got dragon's breath" - meaning she could see her breath as it was so cold!

Still, I'm warm and dry now, although my hair still looks like it's been electrocuted - no I'm not posting a pic of that.. ;-)

I forgot to say the other day I bought a bracelet from
Oasis to match my Beach Tank, and it matches quite a few other of my garments very nicely too:

Oooh.. more beach inspiration..

I was playing around with yarn for the cover top of the June '05 Sandra mag, and worked up a swatch using 2 strands of
Rowan Linen Drape. I managed to purchase a huge bag full of Linen Drape in a sale a few months back for the disgustingly bargain-atious amount of 50p per ball. You should have seen me, balancing as many balls as I could in my arms with it falling all over the place while I raced to the till before anyone else could get their mitts on any of it.. ;-)

After all that excitement, I really didn't know what to do with it as there is a mixture of 6 complimentary but different shades and I've gone off stripes. This swatch has shown me the light! I don't think it would be stretchy enough for the top, but I adore the look, and so I think I'll be cooking up another design on Knitware Sweaters for this very shortly:


As for the Sandra top, I got sick of being saintly and trying to find something to make do from my stash. So I bit the bullet and ordered the yarn specified in the pattern, which is
Lana Grossa "Presto", from Wollywood in Germany - I even bought the same shade pictured (06) as I seem to be going through a blue phase in my knitting right now. I'll let you know when it arrives!

As for my other purchases this week, they're completely non-knitting related, but I got almost as excited about them.
They include a fab new Breville Diva steam iron in pink!

Yes, I'm excited about my new iron.. Does that make me a sad individual?!

And also a new little house for my seedlings, which I've been contemplating for the last 2 years so it was hardly an impulse buy:

Snug as a bug - hopefully not!

Oh, and a couple of flower pics for today; firstly my newly-planted hanging basket:

I hope it fills out!

Finally the irises which have just started to bloom in front of my white broom which I grew from seed:

Blue and white again..
You can just spot a couple of peony buds at the bottom there too. :-)

Well, time to return to my mohair wrap and crochet diagonal blanket - both of which are getting close to completion. Watch this space..