Sunday, 29 May 2005

Secret Pal 5 questionnaire

Here we are:

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? Or is it all the same to you?
I tend to use yarns with a higher acrylic content for my kids as they get washed a lot! I guess I'm becoming more of a yarn snob when it comes to my own garments though - I love Rowan, Colinette, etc, mainly cotton/viscose mixes.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?
Spin - no. Crochet - yes.

3. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, pets, fibers, perfume, etc.)
I'm allergic to nickel.

4. How long have you been knitting?
Over 30 years on and off!

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Yes - the link's on my blog.

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)
Vanilla, lemon, or white musk.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth?
Absolutely - I adore chocolate but don't really go for "candy".

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?
I used to do patchwork but now I'm just obsessed with knitting and crochet.

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
Music? Oooh, Pink, Led Zep, Fleetwood Mac, Stereophonics, Reef, Nirvana, All Saints, Gwyn Stefani,... I don't know if I can play MP3s or not!

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?
Definately pink. I love rich plums/aubergines on the more burgundy end of the scale rather than going into bright purples. Variegated yarns. Muted colours - moss greens, soft blues, beiges, etc. No yellows/oranges for me - although bright rainbow colours are great for my kids.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
Hubby & 2 young daughters. No pets.

12. What are your life dreams? (really stretching it here, I know)
To stay happily married to my hubby for ever and raise our girls to be happy and healthy. :-) To live somewhere less hectic.

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?
Variegated yarns. Smooth yarns which give good stitch definition. Cotton mixes. Very soft merinos. Anything larger than UK 3-ply weight.

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
Brushed acrylic - yeuch! Anything that sheds or pills badly. Scratchy yarns.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?
I guess textured patterns or variegated yarns, but nothing with dps.

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Scarves or kids' clothes cuz they're quick!

17. What are you knitting right now?
Ooh, lots - a crochet baby blanket, crochet cardigan, lace scarf, ribbed cardigan lace edging.. enough!

18. What do you think about ponchos?
I love them on my daughters but not on me.

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?
I guess straight, but I do use a few Addi Turbo circulars too.

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Bamboo for smooth yarns, aluminium for grabby yarns like chenille.

21. Are you a sock knitter?
Definately not!

22. How did you learn to knit?
My mum taught me many years ago.

23. How old is your oldest UFO?
A crochet ripple tunic which I started probably about 5 years ago - oops!

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?
Nothing in particular.

25. What is your favorite holiday?
Hot and sunny by the beach in a hotel with my family somewhere like Spain/Balearic islands.

26. Is there anything that you collect?
Yarn, beaded stitch markers, beads (not tiny ones).

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

28. Any books out there you are dying to get your hands on?
"Yarns to Dye For: Creating Self Patterning Yarns for Knitting" by Kathleen Taylor
"Loop-d-Loop: more than 40 Novel Knitting Projects" by Teva Durham
plus many others - they're all on my Amazon Wishlist

There ya go!

Saturday, 28 May 2005

Take me to the beach

I did get my Beach Tank finished last night, and wore it today. :-) Here's a pic taken by my eldest daughter; excuse the hair - it was a very windy day!


I must fight the urge to start something else, and finish some of the other projects on the needles first. I must.. ;-)

Friday, 27 May 2005

It's sunny - quick, get the camera out!

It's been a beautiful sunny hot day, so today's post is a bit of a photo frenzy. :-)

First up we have an almost complete Beach Tank:

We have boob covers!

See how the pooling on the front has given me boob covers?! The eyelets are really in the centre although they don't look like it on this photo. It's knitted, seamed, and just needs the ends sewing in (hopefully tonight). Wow, I'll actually get to wear this soon, and it's taken me less than 2 weeks to make it - that has to be a record for me. ;-)

Next up is the slow progress on the crochet diagonal baby blanket; I'm on the straight rows now so it shouldn't be too long before I can start decreasing for the final corner:

A bit further on

I had a lovely surprise from the postie this morning, when I received not 1 but 2 knitting mags! The first was the latest June issue of Sandra, and I adore the cover top:

Love that cover top

I've found a supplier for the Lana Grossa "Presto" yarn (no there's none on ebay accepting Paypal!) and it's not too costly even though it's being sent from Germany. Hello credit card.. ;-)

There are a few decent projects inside too - a crochet top and cardigan I quite like:

More crochet projects

Also this top with offset patterning which looks like quite a quick project:

Offset diagonal eyelets

The second magazine was the Sandra Children's Special; again I love the cover cardigan:

Sandra Childrens Special June 2005

Then there's this boy's hooded cardigan which would work just as well for my girls:

Sporty and unisex

How can I resist this beautiful little top? I think it's worked in a 4-ply yarn so I'm going to try substituting something like Patons 4-ply Cotton which is a lovely yarn with a huge 330m per 100g for around £3:

How cute?!

Finally, due to the good weather, we have some gardening pics. I've been planting lots of seeds lately (with assistance from my 2 little helpers of course). We have surprise peas - surprise because one lot are regular peas and the other are sugarsnaps, but I can't remember which:

Which is which?

We also have a very few green bean plants as many didn't come up this year for some reason; I'll have to fight the slugs for these:

.. and green beans!

I couldn't resist showing you my top 3 favourite plants in my garden at the moment. I took the pics at 7pm this evening in glorious sunshine. Firstly my all-time favourite flowers, Aquilegia; these for some reason (and to my great delight) have grown massive this year:

My favourite

They're so tall I've had to stake them, and the leaves are as big as my hands!

In our front garden we have this beautiful Ceonothus bush which started out 3 or 4 years ago as a tiny stick and is now 8 feet across! Close up the flowers are almost luminous cornflower blue:

From a mere stick costing £1..

Finally we have a wonderful Deutzia bush in our back garden, which at this time of year from my kitchen window looks like a bush covered in wedding confetti:

Anyone getting married..?

BTW, thanks for all your comments for the library book wishlist. I'm working on it, and will post the final list here once it's done.

OK, that's more than enough for one post. Better get on with sewing those ends in. :-)

Tuesday, 24 May 2005

What's on your Wishlist?

Firstly, I feel better today, thank you. So no more whining. OK, now on to my post:

I regularly visit our local library with my daughters as they have great children’s facilities. The most loved ones are 2 touch-screen computers with educational games and painting software for under-5s, and 2 sets of wall-mounted headphones attached to auto-run CD players playing stories and songs above a mini sofa! These are fab; the CD player starts when you pick up the headphones - ah, the wonders of modern technology.. ;-)

Anyway on one particular visit whilst the children were engrossed, I decided to search for knitting and crochet books for myself. There is a craft section, but after searching and asking I found it contains just 4 books of interest to me:

    1) A Harmony crochet stitch pattern book (which I’ve borrowed 5 times so far!)
    2) A beginners guide to knitting (good book, but not what I was looking for)
    3) “Baby Knits for Beginners” by Debbie Bliss (good for baby patterns obviously!)
    4) “Junior Knits” by Debbie Bliss (nice patterns for 3-10 year olds)

OK, it’s a start but that’s all. One of the staff there also knits/crochets, and she said that I should take in a list of recommendations for knitting/crochet books and they’d try to get at least some of them! Wow, now there’s an offer not to be missed!

So here’s my list so far (in no particular order, and mainly based on a browse through Amazon):

    1) “Stitch ‘n’ Bitch Handbook” by Debbie Stoller
    2) “Stitch ‘n’ Bitch Nation” by Debbie Stoller
    3) “1000 Sweaters” by Jane Crowfoot
    4) “Loop-d-Loop: More than 40 Novel Knitting Projects” by Teva Durham
    5) “440 More Knitting Stitches” by Harmony Guide
    6) “At Knit’s End” by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
    7) “Simple Knits with a Twist” by Erika Knight
    8) “Scarf Style: Innovative to Traditional, 31 Inspirational Styles to Knit and Crochet” by Pam Allen
    9) “Domino Knitting” by Vivien Hoxbro
    10) “Knitted Embellishments” by Nicky Epstein
    11) “Hip to Crochet” by Judith Swartz
    12) “Simple Crochet” by Erika Knight
    13) “Freeform Knitting and Crochet” by Jenny Dowde
    14) “Hooked on Crochet” by Candi Jensen
    15) “Knit and Crochet with Beads” by Lily Chin
    16) “Kids Crochet: Projects for Kids of all Ages” by Kelli Ronci & Lena Corwin
    17) “Bead Crochet: A Beadwork How-To Book” by Bethany Barry
    18) “Crochet for Barbie Doll” by Nicky Epstein
    19) “200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws and Afghans: Crochet Squares to Mix-and-Match” by Jan Eaton
    20) “Knitting Without Tears: Basic Techniques and Easy-to-Follow Directions for Garments to Fit All Sizes” by Elizabeth Zimmermann

I’m sure you all have your own favourites that you could add - suggestions please? Or have you tried out any of the above and been disappointed? Maybe we could build an all-time Top 20/30/40/etc of knitting and crochet books for all (or at least the majority of) ages, experience levels, and tastes!

Monday, 23 May 2005

"Don't panic but..."

"...would you like an ambulance sent for your daughter...?" These were the candid words that greeted me down the telephone line yesterday evening from NHSDirect. I must say the staff were very reassuring, helpful, informative, etc, etc. But those words made me shudder.

How did we get to that? Let me enlighten you with a mini diary of events for my youngest daughter and myself; you'll understand just how many single magpies I've been noticing in recent days...

Saturday: I experienced the same chest and back pains as recent weeks meaning that my pleurisy had not cleared up (BTW many thanks for all your get well wishes!).

Monday: I visited my doctor who prescribed more antibiotics & told me that I would need to take time off work self-certified because "it's cheaper" than giving out a doctor's note.

Wednesday: My DD had her pre-school booster vaccination meaning an injection in both arms for no less than 7 (yes, seven) different illnesses at the same time. (I had previously booked annual leave from work for this so I could stay with her, but as it turned out I was off sick anyway. No problem, I thought, they'll just cancel it when I return to work.)

Thursday: DD's upper left arm became swollen to maximum capacity and bright red.

Friday: The swelling on my DD's arm started to turn into brown lumpy patches and became painful. This resulted in the evening being spent at the emergency doctor's waiting to be seen and antibiotics (the same as mine!) prescribed for infection in the arm - now where has that come from??

Saturday: DD fell headlong on the pavement whilst running her fastest to go into
Gymbobs, and received nasty scuffs and bruising to both knees - although she managed not to hurt her arm further.

Sunday: was spent at our local (overcrowded and under-resourced) hospital all evening due to DD having sudden difficulty breathing possibly caused by antibiotics - hence the title of this post. I have to say that the staff, again, were excellent, but the middle of the night is the only time we've ever seen parking spaces there, and when we arrived at A&E reception it was so full there were no seats left (and there are lots of them)...

Monday: I poured myself a (thankfully white) cup of water from the machine at work only to find unexpected strings of light green algae suspended in it. (Needless to say the servicing company has been called & we're all buying bottled drinks.) Then I discovered that I couldn't claim back my annual leave mentioned earlier as the time off was self-certified and not covered by a doctor's note...

Tracy, it doesn't seem that I'm saluting these magpies in the correct way.

Somebody please tell me it'll all be ok soon... please. ;-(

Hopefully normal knitting service will resume soon...

Wednesday, 18 May 2005

Life's a Beach

Ho hum. I'm off work sick again this week; still trying to shake off this pleurisy. I'm on another course of stronger antibiotics, and resting as much as I can. It seems to be doing the trick; I do feel like I'm on the mend and the chest/back pains have subsided. It probably explains why I felt so low and lifeless last Friday.

So what is a girl to do whilst recovering - why, start a new project of course! I know, naughty me, but I wanted some no-brain stocking stitch to keep my hands busy. So I got out this stash (yes, stash!) yarn:

Sand, water, surf, shells.. can you hear the seagulls yet?!

It's Narvik Young Touch mercerised cotton obtained from ebay a couple of years ago. I just adore those beach-inspired colours!

I had to be careful with the design I created using my Knitware Sweaters program as I only have 300g (630m) of this yarn and no chance of getting any more. I swatched, measured the gauge, frogged the swatch, and measured the length of yarn used. Then I created (hopefully very accurately!) a garter stitch edged cap sleeve summer top pattern; here are the schematics from the program:

A picture says a thousand words - or a couple of pages of knitting instructions anyway

On Saturday I created the pattern in about 2 minutes flat and started knitting at the regular Beatties Knit Chat meeting; so far I've done the back:

Of course it has to pool - it's beach-inspired!

I actually love the pooling - it looks so, well, pool-like! Also quite funky and retro I reckon.

Can you make out where I did the shaping? I decided to incorporate more into the body to add a little feature and make the seaming easier! I've always wanted to try this, and now there it is. Not sure it looks entirely as I wanted, but it's there and it's ok I think.

By the time I got to starting the front the antibiotics had kicked in and I was feeling a little more competent. So I decided to add a little lace panel to the centre front, as inspired by recent posts at Wendy's blog:

Lace shovels digging in the sand? I think I need a holiday..

I love it so far; Rose - we'll have to wait and see if I need to wear a vest underneath it.. ;-) The lace panel is from my "Harmony" Guide to Knitting Stitches: v. 1 and has the very grand title "Vandyke Lace Panel II"! Note the careful use of my beautiful co-ordinating beaded stitch markers from my wonderful SP4 pal - many thanks Leslie!

Oh yes, I nearly forgot, the yarn for my youngest daughter's crochet poncho arrived a couple of days ago:

Look up - there's a rainbow!

Yes, it's definately rainbow and blue! She does spend a fair amount of time gazing skywards, so it's only to be expected I guess.

Friday, 13 May 2005

Friday the 13th

What a day. Notorious. I saw a single magpie on no less than FIVE occasions today; you know how it goes "One for sorrow..". Well nothing bad actually happened, but I've been feeling really pi**ed off from the moment I woke up and still do now. I'm not even particularly motivated to knit or crochet. Sheesh. I hope this doesn't last.

I did manage to buy the yarn from
ebay for my youngest daughter's requested crochet poncho, in her requested colours - rainbow and blue. I'll post a pic when the yarn arrives.

Also my eldest daughter asked me to knit her a pair of shorts. Yes, you read it right. She wants knitted shorts - in red, to match her tank that I finished recently. I can create a pattern for her using my copy of the
Knitware Basics program, but first I really should make the dress that my youngest daughter asked for a few weeks ago - multicoloured again.

Enough. I think maybe a Jack Daniels and coke is in order.

Thursday, 12 May 2005

It's a Tigger day!

Yep, stripes everywhere. Although personally I'm wearing a top covered with circles, but that's life.

First up is my eldest daughter's
crochet striped poncho. When fringing the ladder scarf/belt the other evening I decided that fringing was not such a nasty pastime, and so got round to doing this one last night. I must confess that it's been in the To-Do pile for a fair few months. I got rid of the corkscrew edging because despite being beautiful, it was very heavy and using masses of yarn. So here is my daughter wearing it at breakfast time this morning (as soon as she set eyes on it!):

Quote: "Mommy you finished it at last!"

I guess she must like it as I have to take it to school when I collect her this afternoon so that she can wear it on the way home. :-) Makes me feel good, that does. Here it is in all it's glory:

I wonder if it makes good wings..?

Now I know that I'm part of the "Say no to the Poncho" ring, but you are allowed to make them for other people. I wouldn't dream of wearing one myself; I never liked them first time around.

Of course my youngest daughter has requested one now, in "rainbow and blue" colours. Better get ebay-ing for more yarn! Hee hee. ;-)

And now, as promised, the picture of the variegated mohair wrap:


I really do love this, and I find the easy-peasy Feather and Fan stitch very addictive.

Right, better go do some housework!

Tuesday, 10 May 2005

Money, money, money

Have you seen the knitwear at Peruvian Connection? Stunning garments but a little out of my price range, even in the sale. I keep checking though, just in case. ;-)

A little more suited to my bank balance is Secret Pal 5 which I've just signed up for. I really enjoyed Secret Pal 4, and loved the gifts I received, so the next one was kinda obligatory for me. Why not join in for some surprise stash-enhancing fun?

Just found out about this - National Knitting Week 10th - 16th October 2005. Spread the word!

Monday, 9 May 2005

The finish line is in sight..

I've been feeling rather guilty these past few days from having such a huge pile of projects on the go again. Fortunately I managed to get some inspiration from this, and coaxed myself into seaming Angel last night.

Nearly there..

Now she's ready for seaming with the unknown length of edging required... I have to get my DD to model the cardigan and see how far the existing length of edging reaches around the double rib body. Then I should be able to see how much more to knit and how much to stretch the body when I sew the edging on.
All sounds a bit fiddly to me; good job I didn't know this when I was initially choosing the project or it would have ended up on my Not-To-Do list.

Fringe this!

I went on to frantically knit up all the ladder yarn left over from the cowl-scarf-necklace-thingy. I did 12 stitches and garter stitch, and made sure I had enough yarn left for a fringe, and ended up with this:

It's a tasty decorative scarf..

..and it's a funky belt

Which I rather like.

After that I knitted up the last few stitches from the first ball of the mohair for my wrap, and then promptly frogged it all carefully AGAIN - this is the 3rd time if you include the tension square! It just wasn't going to be long enough, so I resolved to stick with my original calculations and width, and cast on again for 4 pattern repeats wide and as many long as the yarn will stretch to.
I promise you will see the gorgeous colours of this yarn soon!
I guess that answers
Janine's question about whether I'm using a pattern or not - no! Just the Ridged Feather Stitch (Feather and Fan) stitch instructions from my stitch directory.

The Yarn Gallery - FAB!

OK I guess I'd better end the suspense about my purchase from The Yarn Gallery. I ordered last Wednesday evening, and received the yarn before I got out of bed on Saturday morning - thank you DH for greeting the postie in your bathrobe. ;-) The yarn is just wonderful, and a perfect subtle match for the Colinette Mercury in the "Dusk" colourway I had bought it to be partners with:

A lovely partnership!

The yarn is Flurry in the Woodland colourway. It's beautifully soft and
Paula very kindly immediately dyed an extra 100g for me to fulfil my order.

Flurry by name and flurry by nature!

Then there's the wonderous spiral scarf pin that I couldn't resist to go with this project.

What a beauty!

Lightweight, beautifully made, gorgeous packaging, and I can't wait to use it. If you're a close friend of mine look out - you may be receiving one of these for your birthday/Christmas present (but you can't have mine). ;-)
Fab service, Fab products, Fab company. I'll be back!

Friday, 6 May 2005

What kind of knitting needles are you?

You are interchangeable.
Fun, free, and into everything, you've got every
eventuality covered and every opportunity just
has to be taken. Every fiber is wonderful, and
every day is a new beginning. You are good at
so many things, it's amazing, but you can
easily lose your place and forget to show up.
They have row counters for people like you!

What kind of knitting needles are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, 5 May 2005

Did I mention a wrap?

Oh yes, I think I did. Ok so I'm a fickle person, easily distracted. But can you claim to being a One Project kinda knitter? I'm sure not. So here's my new love:

It's shrunk!

It's shrunk because last night I'd done 8 repeats long by 4 repeats wide of the Ridged Feather Stitch pattern for this wrap. Then I decided it wasn't wide enough, so I ripped it all out today and cast on for 5 repeats wide. The yarn is a yummy variegated Filatura Di Crosa mohair (from ebay of course) and you'll see the colours next time I'm sure as I can't put it down a.t.m.!

Meanwhile the crochet diagonal baby blanket is growing:

It's growing!

And looking rather organic I think:

Back to nature

Remember the lacy scarf from the latest Vogue Knitting mag that I was working on? Well it's finished but I rather fancy an edging in a little left-over white furry Eskimo yarn:

To edge or not?

Here's a close-up cuz I love it:

Surf's Up!

Definately surf-inspired.

Oh b.t.w., I made another yarn purchase yesterday, which I'll say no more about until it arrives apart from the fact that it's from the newly-found online shop of The Yarn Gallery. Check out the spiral scarf pins in the Jewellery section!

Judging from those photos, my projects seem to have taken on a blue tint recently. Maybe I'm all pinked out! Right, back to the knitting. :-)

Wednesday, 4 May 2005

That glorious English weather

I've just done my morning ritual of checking the weather for the day on my favourite forecasting site and decided that the weather has gone mad - or should that be typically English? I quote:

" Friday, a strengthening North-westerly wind will keep temperatures down across all areas, with the risk of snow across higher ground in Scotland".

Plus a quick glance at my local forecast shows me for the next few days the "real feel" temperature is struggling to stay above 10 degrees C.

Back on with the central heating, back out with the sweaters. I knew I cast on that mohair wrap last night for some reason - but more of that later. Gotta go to work now - better take my scarf.

Tuesday, 3 May 2005


Hope you all had an enjoyable May Day Bank Holiday yesterday.

We stayed with my DH's parents and went for a walk and picnic in the beautiful Mortimer Forest in Ludlow. On the way back we stopped at the riverside cafe for an ice-cream - that was during a sunny bit in between the rainy bits - well it was an English Bank Holiday!

After eating our ice-creams my dear MIL took my daughters for an exploration across the metal grid spanning the weir and over the rock stepping stones to the little island. Good idea.

I decided to follow - bad idea.

There I was confidently striding along to catch them up over the grid, then down the stone slope towards the stepping stones, when I failed to notice the Very Slippy Bit leading down to the water's edge. You guessed it, the next second I found myself sat very firmly on the rock, having performed an absolute classic feet-shooting-out-forwards-from-underneath-you type move!

Luckily the rock had been worn very smooth by the water over the years. Luckily I had landed on a slimey and damp bit of rock and not actually in the water. Luckily I had put out me left arm as I felt myself slipping to take the inital force off my derriere. Unluckily that arm is now very sore!

Still, at least DH got the whole incident on camcorder, so you may be lucky enough to watch it on "You've Been Framed" or some similar program in the future!

And hey, I can still knit, so what's the big deal?! And I had finished my ice-cream already.. ;-)