Saturday, 30 April 2005

What a day!

I did it - the Finishing Techniques day course. Wow - the best £35 I've spent in a long time. I'm tired but extremely happy. :-)

Our teacher was the lovely Jane Crowfoot - author of the wonderfully informative "Finishing Techniques for Hand Knitters" book which I can thoroughly recommend. Buy it and READ IT! I'm not a new knitter by a long shot, but it's taught me plenty.

We covered all sorts of techniques - casting on and off, but my main focus was the seaming. Firstly we did a regular mattress stitch side seams:

Mattress stitch seam

Only now I can do it faster and easier than ever before. The seam above is actually to the right of the dodgy line of stitches up the middle - that's my terrible blocking (read killing) of the acrylic yarn squares last night; well it was late.

Then is was on to shoulder seams - which I always hated. Up to now that is. We learned to mattress stitch them as above, and also to graft them:

Grafted seam front

This is sewing a seam so that it looks like a regular knitted row, and it's wonderful! You can go on to undo the cast off edges to reduce the bulk! Here's the back of my example with one cast-off edge undone:

Grafted seam back

One of the first revelations of the day for me was the fact that I'm a loose knitter! Me! I never knew that before, but that explains why the green chenille in the lower part of the picture above looks so awful - do it again in a size smaller needle and it looks much neater.

Then it was on to seaming sleeves onto the main body of the knitting. I was really looking forward to this as I wasn't happy with my regular method as used on my current Angel project. Here's how it looked before:

Yuck - my old seaming method

And here's how it looks now:

What a difference!

Amazingly fab! And so quick and easy to do. I can't believe I've never learned how to do this properly before. I'm going to undo my original seam completely and re-do it like this of course.

Finally I had to get the obligatory signature in my copy of Jane's book:

Signed, sealed, delivered..

A big thank you goes to Jane for teaching us in her patient and clear way, and also to Rose and everyone else who helped to organise the event. Here's one happy knitter signing off for tonight. :-)

Friday, 29 April 2005

Crochet time

I have a new nephew on the way - due in August, so of course I have to dedicate a new project as an arrival gift. New project demands new stash! So I ebayed, and here it is:

New stash!

It's a boucle 4-ply yarn in a mix of wool, acrylic, and silk - machine washable of course due to the project it's intended for, which is a crochet diagonal baby blanket which I started as soon as I ripped open the yarn parcel this morning:

New project!

Ok so we're not talking traditional baby blanket colours here - it's a denimy blue sand mix. But you see my brother (the new dad-to-be) is a bike-mad motocrosser, so the family all go to the motocross meetings to watch him race almost every Sunday. Do white/pastel baby blankets and motocross meetings mix well? I think not. Hence the chosen colourway. See, there is method in my madness after all. ;-)

Meanwhile progress on the edging for Angel is slow:

Slow progress

I can only bear to work 2 repeats of the pattern at any one sitting, so this may take a while.

Anyway I've been busy knitting squares to practise seaming methods on during tomorrow's finishing course:

Curly squares

I guess I really should block them - ho hum. Like I feel like getting the iron out again at 10:15pm.. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. ;-)

Stash buster!

I have finished something recently - another bias knit scarf using odds and ends of stash! I had a part ball of Patons Whisper yarn and a full ball of Patons Bella yarn (which I bought for a few pennies at a local charity shop a while back), so they became this:

Stash buster!

The Patons Bella is a flat tape yarn in a very deep plum shade, and it's made a very subtle background for the fluffy Whisper yarn:

So where exactly is that deep plum yarn?!

I just carried on until the Whisper yarn ran out, and it's just about long enough. Phew! Now what to do with the rest of the Bella yarn..?!

Blooming marvellous

After taking the photos of my yarn crafting progress, I got into the mood, so carried on with the camera in the garden. It was a gloriously sunny day today, so I thought I'd let you take a peek at the new projects delighting me outside:

Funky fern!

Captivating camellia

Terrific tulips

Beautiful bluebells

Wonderful wallflowers

I guess that just about sums up the colours I love a.t.m.! OK, I'll let you go now. :-)

Wednesday, 27 April 2005

So you want to know about Sandra?

OK, I can see I've sparked your interest here. Tracy and Karen asked where to get hold of the Sandra magazine I mentioned in my last post.

I bought my UK subscription from Unique Magazines and got great service from them. It took about 3-4 weeks for the first issue to arrive after I'd placed the order.

As for obtaining the magazine in the USA, a quick Google search turned up who seem to ship to the USA and other countries. They stock the English and Spanish translations of Sandra magazine, but I've never used them so can't give any recommendations.

OK? So go burden your credit card - but not by very much. ;-)

Tuesday, 26 April 2005

More goodies!

A few weeks ago I took out a 1 year subscription to the German "Sandra" knitting magazine - the English translation of course - my A-level German won't stretch that far! I used to have this magazine many years ago, and getting rid of my unwanted copies renewed my interest in it recently.
Well I received my first issue today - the May 2005 issue. There are lots of great patterns in there, not least the cover design:

More goodies!

Then there's this which I reckon would look great as a summer evening top:

Fancy wrap top

And I particularly like the waist shaping created by the cable patterning on this sweater:

Great waist!

I don't have time to scan all the patterns I like in there, but I'd recommend getting a peek for yourself. At £2 Sterling for 43 patterns I think it's great value!

Sunday, 24 April 2005

A Golden Ticket

I bought it at last! My ticket to my first 1-day knitting course! :-) It's a finishing course next Saturday (30th April) run by the talented Jane Crowfoot, author of this wonderful book which is of course in my knitting library. Should be an interesting day; I'll let you know!

I'm on the home run for Angel - the edging for the bottom hem of the body. It says to do as many repeats as required to fit around. Hmm. The body is entirely knitted of double rib, so how many repeats is that? Maybe Jane will help me out..

How many repeats?!

As I have to concentrate so hard on the edging pattern, I started something else to do in a more "look no hands" mode (I wish). It's this:


It's the drop-stitch lacy scarf from the latest Spring/Summer 2005 Vogue Knitting. Yes, I'm actually knitting one of the patterns! Unheard of for me! AND (brag, brag) I'm using stash yarn. Is the brilliance of my halo blinding you yet?! No? It will; after buying that ticket I'm really broke now. Good job the price includes lunch. ;-)

Wednesday, 20 April 2005

Kim Hargreaves - at last!

I was very happy to discover this morning that the Kim Hargreaves site is finally up and running. Wahay!

She's come up with some pretty designs, my favourite being
Glimmer. I'm a sucker for frilly edges a.t.m.

I don't think I'll be purchasing any of the current range of kits though. I'd prefer to opt for patterns only as I'm not keen on the yarns used. All the garments are made using Rowan Cotton Denim or Summer Tweed yarns, neither of which I really want to knit or wear. Well not enough to convince me to spend the money required anyway.

I've seen Cotton Denim being used, and the dye went everywhere - staining my friend's hands and needles, and I'm really not sure about a yarn that's meant to shrink when you wash it. I guess I'm a little reserved that way. ;-)

The Summer Tweed looks nice, but I'm not sure I'd be able to comfortably wear it. I know it feels soft on the hank, but my skin is very fussy and I can't bear to wear anything even vaguely scratchy.

Having said all that, it's a great looking site and well worth a visit! Keep up the good work Kim - but next time would you use different yarns please? ;-)

Sunday, 17 April 2005

Ang - what's that?

Well it's just over half an Angel. As in:

Half an Angel = Ang!

Ok, sorry, but I have been feeling poorly for a while now. It has to affect the brain. Anyway here's the final slog of double rib - the second sleeve:

The final K2 P2 slog

It's actually about half done now, then just the seaming, lace edging, more seaming, front border, and buttons to go. I'll decide on buttons when I get to that point.

I do still love this cardi as it's so soft in the Rowan Wool Cotton, and I'm sure my eldest daughter will get loads of wear from it as the sleeves are slightly too long for her a.t.m. - intentionally! With that amount of double rib I really don't feel inclined to knit another one right now, although it would make a great school cardi done in navy blue.

Must.. stop.. buying.. pattern.. books..

It's just too tempting. Then I get frustrated cuz I've got a million other projects I want to do first. Then my DH gets cranky cuz all I think and dream about is knitting - constantly. ;-)

But until then, I have 2 more sources of temptation, namely:

VK Spring/Summer 2005

Imo, this is a fab issue of VK. There are loads of projects I like, not least this one:

Yummy summer cables

The other book I gave in to was a must-buy. It was on offer with "Knitting" magazine for the cost of the P&P only. Well how can you say "no" to that? It arrived a couple of days ago:

Fab book!

I have to say I didn't hold out much hope of actually liking that much in it, but I had to take a peek to find out. I was wrong! It's a great book, and has loads of patterns I like! Groan! I love the cardi on the cover which is done using 9 balls of Rowan All Seasons Cotton, which I already have in my stash although it's supposed to be earmarked for the Apricot Jacket from Rebecca 27. Hmm, decision time soon I think. There's also this one which I adore:

2000 beads..?!

It uses 10 balls of Rowan Cotton Glace and no less than 2000 (choke) tiny beads. I adore beads. I seem to collect them. But I've never knitted with them.

I think that may be about to change. :-)

Saturday, 16 April 2005

Tee hee..

I love these quizzes and the Incredibles, so here's my perfect mix!

Which Incredibles Character Are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

Give it a try!

Wednesday, 13 April 2005

Don't ignore a cough

I've had a chesty cough for a couple of weeks but didn't think much of it. That was until Monday evening this week, when I had what I can only describe as "stitch" spreading up through my back and across my chest and shoulders. And there it stayed. I had pains when breathing in, and felt very tight-chested and anxious.

It didn't feel quite so bad yesterday after some painkillers, but decided to see the doctor anyway; it just didn't feel right. Good job too - I've been diagnosed with pleurisy! I'm now on a week's course of antibiotics and ordered to rest - as much as anyone with 2 young children can anyway.

So the moral of the story is: don't ignore a cough! I'm just glad I haven't broken an arm or something; after all knitting is very therapeutic. :-)

Thursday, 7 April 2005

Stash news

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had succumbed to some stash enhancement courtesy of ebay. Well here it is:

New stash ;-)
2 balls of gorgeous Filatura di Crosa Mohair Multi just crying out to be made into a lacy scarf.

Ok there was more, I admit it. I also bought this:

Dye experiments to come!
No less than 2kg of undyed unbleached 3-ply cotton yarn. Now I just need to buy a Fibre Reactive Dye Kit from
Texere Yarns to start experimenting with colour. I'm excited and nervous about trying this for the first time!


Remember the bag I was knitting using the Booga Bag pattern and my own mega-chunky stash wool? Well I finally got time to felt it!
Of course I forgot to add something in to the picture for scale, but I did measure it. Pre-felting we had 15.5 inches wide by 15.5 inches high, and looking like this:


I put it through a 60 degree wash cycle with 1 pair of jeans and to my amazement pulled out this:

A felted bag - on purpose!

Wow! I wasn't even sure it would felt but it certainly did! It now measures 8.5 inches high by 11.5 inches wide and is blocking on my daughter's school lunch box. ;-)

This is the close-up before felting:

Stitch definition pre-felting

And the close-up after felting:

Sure is felted!

I won't be able to make this into the classic drawstring Booga as it's felted so successfully that the strap is too short. ;-) I'm planning on sewing it on instead and then sewing a snap fastener to the top centre inside of the bag. I just can't get over it! :-)

Ok, now we're knitting

Knitting time at last! Phew. We have progress on Angel; first the back and left front finished and joined with a 3-needle cast-off:


I love doing shoulders this way as it looks so neat and removes the need for using a sewing needle. ;-)

Then I decided to follow the example of other knitting bloggers who have got sick of being banished to Sleeve Island towards the end of a project: instead of starting the right front, I started a sleeve:

Love that frill!

See the cute frill at the cuff?! It's done first and is lovely to decrease from 177 stitches to just 44 over 3 rows!

The plan is to sew the sleeve in as soon as it's finished, so there's minimal sewing to do at the end of the knitting. That way I might even get it finished this month - fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 6 April 2005

There's a distinct lack of knitting going on

..'cuz there's been too much else happening recently that had to take priority. I'm getting itchy fingers. We have friends coming round tonight but I MUST knit for at least a few rows!

In the meantime, I've just re-discovered the jokes on Penguin biscuit bars. (BTW have you tried Asda's version of these called Puffins in the triple chocolate variety? Just heavenly. Good enough for a supermarket trip even when there are no other groceries needed!)

Anyway here's today's Penguin joke:
Q: What did the policeman say to his stomach?
A: You're under a vest!
Ok it may be an old one, but it made me smile. Small things, small minds, and all that.. ;-)

I did receive a small parcel from the postie whilst dashing out of the house to work this morning. I hurriedly ripped it open and found inside the 2 balls of Filatura di Crosa variegated mohair that I bought from
ebay last week. Looks quite lovely. I'm hoping to make a scarf type affair with it, after playing around with different stitches to see which looks best. It's been years since I used any mohair - we'll soon see if it still tickles my nose as much as it used to!

I've also been browsing around for more inspiration (as if I need more projects on my wish list!) and found that Berroco have got some great free patterns, such as these:

Rachel - faggoting stitch cardigan:

Paulina - sleeveless top with bias ribs and centre cable:

And for my daughters:
Bethany - lacy cotton cardigan:

Lace Skirt:

These are all on my to-do list now. Ho-hum. I guess that's what happens when I have a break from knitting - I just think about it constantly instead!

Friday, 1 April 2005

May I present Lucy..

Here I am wearing her today - and yes it's a bad hair day..

The mannequin shot

The shaping makes for a lovely fit, which doesn't really show as there's only the one button (and another hidden just to the side of that but inside) at the top. It's a lovely cardigan to wear though; just right for this time of year. And yes I did finish it in time for Easter Sunday last weekend. :-)

Now on the needles is "Angel" from the Pipsqueaks book, done in Rowan Wool Cotton in the age 6-7 years size.

K2, P2, K2, P2,....

Not much further to the top of the back, and that's the biggest piece of double ribbing done. Thank goodness this isn't for me..