Saturday, 28 January 2006

What does it all mean?

The latest issue of Sandra knitting magazine arrived today.

It's got some nice designs, although most of the ones I like are only in small sizes. I don't think I'll be renewing my subscription because of this, but it's still good for inspiration.

This caught my eye with one design I like - obviously the last symbol on this chart was too complicated for the Sandra design team to work out! Click on the pic to see for yourself. ;-)

My projects have been progressing slowly this week. I worked on the Broadstreet Mittens at today's Knit Chat, only to find when I got home that I needed to undo most of the progress I'd made. I was working on the shell (the thingy that pops over your fingertips to keep them warm) , but realised that I'd only done 4 of the 17 straight rows before shaping the top. No wonder it was turning out very short!

The Rain Dance Shawl is now up to 258 stitches across, and looks rather like a huge blob of colour on my Addi circular neeedle. It rather reminds me of endurance knitting atm!

Saturday, 21 January 2006

Side tracked - again

How could I receive such gorgeous yarn yesterday without trying it out? Well I couldn't, and I started on the Broadstreet Mittens last night. Here's the progress so far.

The Knit Chat group is going to have a 4-needle knitting session soon, so in the meantime I decided to go for the
Magic Loop technique again using a long circular needle. It's working well so far.

Here's a close-up of those lovely colours.

I'm really pleased with the way they're turning out - i.e. not striping. I love the way the colours are blending together without getting lost.

I may well have to buy
more of this yarn in a different colourway. It's so lovely and soft, and very even. It's even tempting me into wanting to try a pair of Jaywalker socks - especially after seeing the ones that Tracy knitted - although I said I'd never knit socks!

I walked up to the Knit Chat today, only to find that nobody else turned up - Fi where were you; I took the knitting mag with me that we spoke about last week for you?

Anyway on my walk back home I called in to my local newsagent to see if they'd got my copy of the latest
VK yet.

They hadn't but they had this copy of the new KnitSimple mag for me - and I hadn't even ordered it! I didn't mind, as I wanted to take a peek anyway.

It's a nice mag, very VK-like, and the patterns are pretty good although nothing grabbed me by the throat and yelled "Knit Me!".

Good job really, with the list of projects-in-waiting I already have.. ;-)

Friday, 20 January 2006

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Ok, so it's out of sequence, but first up we have the Bad:

This morning I had to go to the dentist to have a filling re-done.

Part of a tooth had chipped off a while back on the side of a large filling, and it had to be all taken out and re-done as apparently there was some decay underneath the remaining filling. Maybe I should have had it seen to as soon as it happened, but that's life!

The result was as you see in the pic - my cup of coffee with a straw to drink it from. Not my usual drinking method, but it worked until the feeling came back to my face. ;-)

Now the Good:

To balance that, this morning I received this exciting package.

Wanna see what was inside?


Wait for it...

It was this gorgeous variegated hand dyed merino sock wool, which I bought from this ebay seller. Isn't it just fab?!

I won the auction on Monday, paid on Tuesday, and received the yarn from the USA today (Friday). That's what I call great service!

I'm hoping to make the
Broad Street Mittens from Knitty with it.

As for the Ugly - that has to be the smell from DH's oven chips cooking under the grill this lunchtime. They smelled of a cow farm - which is not what I would expect from any kind of chips - ugh! Needless to say I didn't pinch one.

Thursday, 19 January 2006

Spring Clean Fever

It may be a little early, but I've been grabbed by the throat by Spring Clean Fever. I've been clearing out the garage and house, and even sorting through my yarns - some are destined for eBay and others for the charity shop.

This mad activity is due to several things really:
1) I have time to do this now that my girls are both at school all day
2) DH is due to take delivery this weekend of his new electronic drum kit, which needs a home whilst we sell the other "real" drum kit (have you seen how much space these things take up?!)
3) We're thinking of moving to the south west, so some serious de-cluttering is required (although I'll be amazed if we actually move this year - it takes us ages to do anything)

I've even ditched a project - the round yoke navy school cardigan. It's a lovely pattern, but was looking a little on the small size for my youngest - she's growing at an amazing rate atm. I had finished the right sleeve, and it was 2 inches too short for her!

The main problem, though, was the yarn. I was using Wendy Capri, which is a boucle cotton/acrylic mix. A nice enough yarn, and easy care for school, but somehow it just didn't look right when knitted up. It was kind of.. well.. holey. Having a crisp white school shirt underneath was the final straw really, as it highlighted those little holes far more than any other colour would have.

It ended up just looking cheap in my eyes, and I wasn't happy with it. So the half-finished cardigan has gone in the bin (gasp!) - no I didn't even feel like frogging it. The rest of the yarn is destined for the charity shop. At least I learned the magic loop knitting method anyway.

Whilst going through my yarns, I've realised that my yarn buying habits have changed so much and yet so subtlely that over time I've completely reversed my attitude without even realising.

I used to see yarn and grab it, then start thinking of how I could use it later.
Now I either see projects that I love and buy yarn for those, or I see fantastic yarn but have to make sure I know what I could use it for before I splurge on it.

I think this may be partly because I'm buying more expensive items as I get older (that's food, clothing, everything really, not just yarn) so I want to really justify the cost.

Weird what happens over time without you even noticing!

On a more creative note, the Rain Dance Shawl is progressing nicely. I received the circular Addi on Tuesday, and now I'm up to row 94 with 196 stitches and now on the 2nd ball of my yarn. Looking good!

Quote of the day: My youngest DD asked me tonight "mommy, when we move to a new house, can I take my teddy with me?"!

Monday, 16 January 2006

Happy Birthday DH!

Today is my dear hubby's birthday - Happy Birthday darling! We both had the afternoon off work and went for a lovely (and very filling) pub lunch. This evening we've enjoyed a family party at our house - more food!

I haven't had chance to upload the pic of DH about to scoff his great pub food, but here's one of my gorgeous nephew, James, who's now 6.5 months old. It's a lovely pic of him with his Dad - my brother.

James appeared to thoroughly enjoy the party, and gave us lots of beautiful smiles and chuckles. He also let me feed him a huge amount of his favourite food - mashed banana!

Time to go knit, now they've all gone home. ;-)

Sunday, 15 January 2006

I'm rain dancing!

New Year = new type of project i.e. that Rain Dance Shawl. I've never attempted a half-circle shawl before, or any shape of lacy type shawl really. Well now's as good a time as any!
Here's the progress so far.

I'm up to row 64 with 130 stitches on the needles. I've used straights so far, but I'm going to switch to an Addi circular which I've just ordered from
this ebay seller. The straights are too heavy as they are so long, and they're making my shoulders ache, as I discovered last night.

The pattern does have a couple of.. erm.. idiosyncracies. The stitch count after row 39 should be 122 (31,30,30,31 in each panel) not 82. Not a big problem, and pretty obvious when you get there.

The second "feature" is that the first chart is not consistent with the others. Which has led to the couple of raindrops highlighted being out of sequence.

The first chart does both the shaping and eyelet pattern on the odd rows. All the subsequent charts do just the shaping on the odd rows, and the eyelet pattern switches to the even rows.

This isn't pointed out anywhere, but it means that you need to read the pattern rows from right to left on the first chart and then left to right thereafter.

I can live with it. :-)

Friday, 13 January 2006

Birthday Celebrations

I nearly forgot - Six Skeins Under is now 1 year old. Happy Birthday blog! To mark the occasion, we have a FO:

Woohooo! Martha is done! As you can see, it fits, and is lightweight, cuddly, and cosy. The colour is "Chilly" but the finished item is far from that, the yarn being Rowan Cork which is almost all merino wool.

I used 8 balls (400g) as stated in the pattern for the medium size, and I used every last inch. So much so that I had to use a stash yarn to finish off the side seaming tonight. Thanks to the lovely lace-up seaming technique I used last year, the substitute yarn isn't visible at all. I'm chuffed!

It would have been finished earlier this week, but my 2 doughters and I have all been smitten by a horrible heavy cold, so I didn't even feel like knitting much. (That's my excuse for the dishevelled look in the photo too - not that my mind-of-its-own hair ever looks much neater than that!) My 2 "free" (i.e. non-work) days this week were taken up with looking after my 2 little ones as they were off school feeling so poorly. I think we're all on the mend now though, thankfully.

So.... what next? I know I have various other projects still on the needles, but as usual my eye has been taken by a newbie - namely this
Rain Dance Shawl which is a free pattern from Elann. I have 500g of DK wool/acrylic blend yarn in my stash which is unallocated project-wise, which I'm thinking of trying out. I don't know the yardage of it, but maybe I should just suck it and see! it's a bit brighter than the colours I usually go for, but hey, summer's on the way!

The question is, should I try to measure a 50g ball first to determine the yardage (after checking the tension of course)? What do you reckon?

Monday, 9 January 2006

Dream Seam

It has to be a record - for me at least.

Four raglan seams completed with minimum fuss in less than 1 hour! This Rowan Cork is a dream to seam with; it almost laces itself up, especially with the way the pattern is written for this Martha. I'm impressed!

Now to continue with the collar, which is knitted sideways until it's long enough to fit around the neck. Watch out for a modeled Martha real soon!

Saturday, 7 January 2006

New Year, New Routine, New FO!

Hope you're all enjoying 2006 so far; I am! I have a new routine, new plans, etc - we just need to see how long they last. ;-) Here's a taster: Yesterday I treated myself to a foot spa (I've had the machine for several years and hardly used it!) and did my first 90 minute karate lesson last night.

School time:
My youngest DD started full-time school this week (i.e. all day rather than mornings only) so we had to get her kitted out in her uniform. She's so proud of it, and seems to have grown up a little more overnight.

Can you tell from this pic that she loves going to school atm?! Long may it last.

Of course this has implications for me too. It means that I get Thursdays and Fridays to myself from 9am to 3pm - wahay! This is the first time ever, that I've had such a decent length of free time to do whatever I please.

I have all sorts of things on the cards, as well as being able to get the ironing, etc out of the way before the evening (who on earth feels like doing it then?). This week I spent a total of 5.5 ours shopping - which is a good amount of exercise as I walked home with the heavy shopping too (see the Intermission below).

I could even find out my Pilates DVD and actually spend time doing some of it instead of just staring at the cover. And of course there's a load more knitting time. :-)

First FO of 2006:
It's the mini clapotis, although I did modify the pattern slightly to make it a little bigger. Here it is pre-blocked.

I used just under 100g of Phildar Brasil yarn on 5mm bamboo needles. The yarn is a viscose/cotton/acrylic/polyester/nylon mix with 103m to 50g, with the recommended needles being 3.5 - 4.5mm, so it's around DK weight.

I repeated section 2 (increases) twice to get to 47 stitches, and then worked section 3 (straight) 11 times, before working section 4 (decreases) twice to mirror the increases.
I like it - it fits snugly around my shoulders when stretched out, so I can pin it around me at work.

Of course we have to have a close-up, to highlight the lovely sparkles in this yummy yarn.

I still have just over 100g left, so another scrummy scarf will be on the needles at some point I think!

Knitting Intermission:
I felt compelled to photograph these veg; namely carrots and parsnips, with a sweet potato hiding in the top corner. They are not just any veg, they are real veg, i.e. they have dirt on, and I bought them from our local farmers market. This is one of my main aims for this year - to buy as much as possible of our food from local (and if possible organic) sources. They're fresher so they taste far better, and we're keeping our local businesses, well, in business! What other reasons does anyone need?
End of Intermission.

Martha in Cork:
I wanted to point out the Cork element as this is not the
Martha that Tracy is knitting. Rowan have very confusingly named 2 of their current projects the same, although they are quite different (but I love both of them!).

Anyway, this Martha (of the Cork Collection) now has the back and front complete. Please note the delicately waving cables along the raglan shaping. I had to sweat over the front right edge cable as I twisted it the wrong way, and 10 rows later decided I couldn't live with it.

So I grabbed a crochet hook and bit the bullet. I dropped the 4 cable stitches down 10 rows, and very slowly and painstakingly picked them up again, twisting them the right way in the process. I think I was 1 row out somewhere, but I can't tell, so I'm pleased with the result.

BTW, the shaping on the right front raglan is done using K2togtbl with the left front shaping done using a standard K2tog. Does anyone know why the tbl version shows up as a series of diagonal lines whereas the standard version just diappears into the knitting? I'd rather not see those lines on one side, but I'll be darned if I can get rid of them. Is it just me, or does that happen to everyone?

Finally here's the left sleeve.

Actually, it's finished now, and I'm part-way up the right sleeve, but they look pretty much the same. They have to be marked "left" and "right" as the shaping at the top of the arm is different for each side; very weird but let's hope it all works out.

Watch this space!