Monday, 24 December 2007

Merry Christmas from the seaside!

Here are the ingredients gathered together to make a gorgeous cranberry and chestnut stuffing roll to go with the Christmas dinner tomorrow.

I was amazed to find them all in nearby little Perranporth - even fresh cranberries and fresh chestnuts!

Here's something else we found at Perranporth - a christmas tree with working lights on the rock!

I don't think it'll last long, and goodness knows how they got the lights to work out there, but it looked great when we saw it.

That rock is actually huge; when the tide is on its way out you can climb up to the top. Usually the Perran flag flies on a pole where the tree currently is.

And here's our own little christmas tree, as decorated by my DDs.

Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Happy Birthday DD!

My first-born daughter is 9 years old today - how the years have flown. Here she is way back in 1998, just a few minutes old - my beautiful little eskimo baby!

We are so proud of her - both of her achievements and more importantly of her kind, nurturing, and loving character. Happy Birthday sweetheart!

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Domestic bliss.. ensured with the arrival of a new oven. Am I sad? Maybe.. but I don't care.

Just look at how shiny it is! I really don't want to get it dirty - but then it is so lovely to use. The grill was christened with sausages this morning, and the main oven is shown here being christened with cottage pie.

Perhaps I should crochet some new hot pads in honour of it. ;-)

BTW, thanks for all your encouraging comments about my cable frogging madness. It makes me feel a little more sane.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Excuse me, did you say progress..?

The crazy cable sleeve is finished, and it has 13,006 stitches (including cast-on and cast-off). It looks amazing and feels wonderful.

And I'm going to frog it.

I used 86 grams of the merino for the sleeve so I do have enough for the whole sweater, but I've changed my mind about a few minor details. Only little things... like the gauge... the design... the size... :-)

I clipped the sleeve together and tried it on - a very illuminating thing to do.

Whilst it fitted, it was too snug for what I had envisaged. I like a good fit, but I don't want it to feel like a second skin. I had stretched the swatch slightly to measure the gauge, but obviously I couldn't tell what that would feel like in the finished garment - until now.

And that twisted rib; it looked great but when stretched taught it reminded me too much of the plastic-feel-acrylic throttlingly tight poloneck handknit sweaters I was encased in when I was a child. It had to go.

So I've changed both the pattern gauge and the design. I've taken away the twisted ribbing and replaced it with a minimal garter stitch edging. I've replaced the funnel neck with a v-neck. I've added more ease to the whole garment.

I've also swatched another stitch pattern. Whilst those all-over cables were gorgeous, the final look was rather too intense over a large piece of knitting.

DH questioned my sanity when I modelled the sleeve and announced that it was headed for the frog pond. He asked how long it had taken me to knit it (I don't get much knitting time atm) - and I suggested that it would be silly continuing to knit a garment that I knew wasn't what I wanted...

So here's version 2. There are some plain columns between the cables, no rib, and the fit is looser.

It's quite different to what I had initially imagined, and it may still change again. But that's the joy of designing your own garment isn't it?!

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Cable heaven

That's where I seem to have gone. I adore this yarn and cable pattern so much, I have to make myself put it down. Of course whether that's still the case if I don't have enough yarn and need to start over remains to be seen.

Quite why I've become obsessed with cables is a mystery to me. I love the look of them (unlike bobbles) but rarely feel the need to knit them. It must be something to do with the cold weather I guess!

The plan is to finish this sleeve (not long to go!), then calculate exactly how much yarn is required for the whole garment based on how much I used for the sleeve.

Fingers crossed..

Monday, 19 November 2007

When all is not as it seems

Sometimes things seem that they will be perfect... and then they turn out to be not quite so good. As was that perfect pattern for the merino chocolate orange yarn.

As I worked the first sleeve, increasing slowly, I realised that all was not well. The stitch pattern covered 24 rows, but seemed to jump after the first half. Although the knitting looked pretty good, I couldn't get the flow - and had no idea how to bring those new side stitches into the pattern.

I measured the progress I had so far, and realised that if I followed the increase instructions, the finished sleeve would measure 24" from cuff to armhole - even my arms aren't that long!

The pattern gauge was given in stocking stitch, and I had matched it exactly, but the lace cable pattern for the actual design was turning out to be a different beast.

Things had to change. I frogged the 3" of sleeve I had worked, and decided to create my own pattern.

I thought about what I liked from this design, browsed through my stitch dictionaries for a while, and ended up with this:

I'm doing basically the same shape garment, but with a flowing cable design - twisted 2-stitch cables rotating anti-clockwise for the cuffs and collar, leading into wider 6-stitch cables turning clockwise in alternate columns as they climb the garment.

It flows - and I like it.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Serendipity - the Tale of a New Project

Yep, I've found another great new project.. I think I'm suffering from startitis at the moment. I had dug out the allotted yarn for the "Central Park Hoodie" but didn't like the swatch, so that's been shelved again for now in favour of this...

Almost 12 months ago, after spending the day manning a stall at a particularly uninspiring craft fair (i.e. virtually no sales), I agreed a great trade with Fiona of Yarnwise - 4 of my knitted collars for 500g of gorgeous chocolate orange merino wool.
Think clementines, conkers, and steaming hot chocolate all swirled up together in the dyebath...

The merino has sat patiently waiting in the stash since then, until last month when I heard it sweetly singing to me. I wound it into balls, and put it in my "Pending"* stash box whilst keeping an eye open for pattern inspiration.

Now that the weather is finally cooling down, I decided on a sweater - but not just any old sweater. I want to end up with one of those favourite comfy kinds of sweater that is a joy to throw on and wear; not too heavy, not too cool, just the right size. One I want to wear all the time - you know the sort. It also has to be a joy to knit - not so complex that I need silence to work on it, but not an endless sea of stocking stitch either.

Two nights ago night serendipity struck! Whilst chatting to my in-laws (who had stayed for dinner as thanks for babysitting our DDs whilst we attended the school parent's evening) I decided to browse through my file of patterns (mainly prints of free web patterns that I've come across on random surf sessions) and, quite by accident, found the perfect match for the merino!

The pattern is for a lacy cabled sweater, from the Canadian yarn manufacturer
Kertzer - and I'm so glad I printed it as it doesn't seem to be on their site now. It uses about 475g-worth of the yardage that I have in the merino, with exactly the same gauge - even the finished measurements seem to be perfect for my height and arm length which is unusual.

I was so excited I swatched immediately (bang on target), then unravelled and set it aside and started it last night. I know I should be carrying on with the other WIPs but I needed to get a sleeve on the go to use up some of the initial New Project Enthusiasm. :-)

* My stash is held (mainly) in a tower of plastic boxes which fill one corner of our bedroom. The upper boxes are naturally easier to get into, so I tend to use the yarn from those first. The top one is for yarn that I'm hoping to use next - i.e. "Pending". The yarns I'm working with currently are held in the very useful storage stool that came with our cream leather suite, which of course stays close to my chair... ;-)

Monday, 12 November 2007

Bamboo Success!

The frilly bamboo cardigan is done, it fits, and I love it!

This yarn is so lovely - soft, warm, fantastic drape, with a subtle sheen. The finished cardigan fits me really well - even the sleeves are the length I like.

The details:
Yarn - Sirdar Just Bamboo
Pattern - Sirdar Just Bamboo 8878

No modifications. Easy to knit, and great to wear. Big hugs go to the members of the Beatties Knit Chat group who bought this yarn and pattern for me as my leaving present when we moved to Cornwall earlier this year. Thanks everyone!

Friday, 9 November 2007

Knitting extremes

I recently gave in to temptation and bought this skein of hand-dyed cashmere 4ply yarn in shade "Heather" from The Knitting Goddess.

It's an extreme opposite of my recent knitting projects, which have been some quick chunky collars and scarves on 10mm needles. This feels like I'm knitting with sewing thread in comparison, despite using 3.5mm needles!

I've chosen the simple
Feather and Fan pattern as I wanted a simple lace project that would be reversible.

I am starting to love the way the colours are traversing as I work up the scarf, and the yarn is creamy soft although it feels more like laceweight to me than 4ply!

I haven't yet decided whether this will be a Christmas gift for somebody else - or maybe for myself as a special treat. :-)

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

The clock is ticking

WIP Check
Soft Pink Bamboo Cardigan - seamed and awaiting oversewing seams with sewing thread
Driftwood Bamboo Top - need to seam right shoulder and knit neck edging, then seam the rest
Christmas Gift #2 - 40% done
Aubergine Lacy Aran Cropped Cardigan - still awaiting sewing in the ends and sewing on the beads (but should I use different beads?)
Rose Pink Felted Crochet Bag Experiment - we have a small shape that can hold things but I'm not sure it's the shape I wanted..

Pics to follow!

Lined Up
Exciting news - I need to knit 2 family baby gifts! No, neither is for me. ;-) Two of my relatives are due with babies next April; only one is going to try to find out the sex beforehand (and even then there's no guarantee is there?!) so generic colours are required.

I'm not keen on knitting toys these days (too much sewing required afterwards) so I've decided to knit "Lucky" - a very cute moss stitch cardigan in the "Pipsqueaks" book. I may need to do a different pattern for the second one if the moss stitch gets too much, but we'll see.

I'll be using Rowan All Seasons Cotton in shade "Tapestry" - a sandy beige - from my stash again (woohoo!). I have a 500g pack of it which I was saving to knit myself the "Apricot" cardigan from Rebecca magazine, but I've changed my mind on that one. Great pattern, but I really need to lose weight before I'd do it justice.

In The Distance
I'm itching to start some socks using the Tofutsies yarn I bought recently, but I do need to finish some WIPs first. The "Central Park Hoodie" is calling to me from Knitscene (a stash of various aran yarns are marinating ready for that), as is the "Rogue" hoodie - I have some lovely Adriafil Point yarn reserved for that one. Why do future projects always seem so appealing..?

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Holy Shaping!

Driftwood Bamboo Top

Would you take a look at this:

This is how the pattern instructions say to do the shaping increases - make 1 by picking up and knitting into the back loop into the next 2 stitches. Hmm, holy indeed.

This is how I normally do my shaping increases - make 1 by knitting into the loop of the stitch below. Much better.

Looks like the yarn manufacturers don't always kow best when it comes to pattern instructions.

I guess I'll be sticking to my usual way - thank goodness went to the Finishing Techniques day run by Jane Crowfoot where I learned it!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Early bird

Hey - a next-day post? What's going on?!

Well I'm stuck at home, and the postie very graciously delivered a parcel of great fabrics from
Fiddlesticks Fabrics and Crafts this lunchtime. The parcel included this lovely piece, which I have literally just finished converting into this first Christmas 2007 present!

I'm so pleased with it - hence the large number of photos. :-)

This is a big carry-all type affair, reaching down to the hip.

I followed this free crochet hobo bag pattern and used 500g of Rowan Linen Drape from my stash, a large button from Truro Fabrics, and the lining fabric as before.

Thank goodness the yarn wasn't full price otherwise it would have cost almost £40 to make.

That's the first present crossed off the list for this year!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Toasty Buttered Marshmallow

Well what to say? Lots has been happening, and there are many WIPs at various stages - both knitting and crochet.

Here's one item - a knitted collar worked up in Colinette Silky Chic along with some Jaeger Matchmaker Merino and some hand-dyed superwash soft merino sock yarn.

It's as soft as butter, as squidgy as marshmallow, and as warm as toast - so I guess that's a Toasty Buttered Marshmallow!

The wristies to go with it are currently on the needles - they include some Regia sock yarn and Rowan Kid Silk Haze too. I'll probably put the set on Etsy when it's finished.

The hardest part of this was finding a button that I liked for it - why is that always the case? Any recommendations for really good button websites would be greatly appreciated!

The other news for today concerns my health again - the tachycardia has cleared up and I'm off the beta-blockers, but now I have shingles on my back. It's rather an extreme way of getting more knititng time don't you think?!

Monday, 1 October 2007

The C word

Watch out -Christmas Project Alert! All I can say is that it's crocheted and I'm using some (there's a lot - it was in the bargain bin at 50p per ball quite some time ago) of my Rowan Linen Drape stash yarn - yes, I said stash yarn. See the light shining on that pic? It's from my halo!

Now you know why all is quiet.. but WIPS are transforming into FOs.. more later.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Trinity shines!

Announcing Trinity - the little crochet bag with a big personality. :-)

See that lovely squishy padded strap? And the gorgeous texture? And the yummy cotton/viscose blend yarn which makes her shine?!

I am really pleased with this design. The size is perfect - just big enough to fit in those girly essentials, but snug enough to fit neatly under your arm out of the way.

And all that from some leftover yarn plus a little quilt wadding, a button, and some patchworking fabric.

I just hope her new owner doesn't read this blog as Trinity is destined to be a gift.

Anyway, I'm hoping to get the pattern up for sale real soon on my Etsy shop - see the panel on the right - so feel free to buy it!

Monday, 17 September 2007

What are you doing?

No I haven't given up on my WIPs.

I'm doing something I haven't done in a very long time and also finishing off Trinity.

Watch this space!

Friday, 14 September 2007

Legs Eleven

Yep, it's that day again - our wedding anniversary.

Eleven years today, and this time we're celebrating by strolling on our local beach together with out daughters, eating yummy locally-made ice-cream. :-)

We'd never have guessed that one in a million years.

While we're on the beach theme, here's my latest stash aquisition - a ball of Tofutsies!

It only seemed right, as it's made from 2.5% chitin which is fibre from crushed crab and shrimp shells.

I bought it from p2tog on ebay - thoroughly recommended.

This yarn feels so good (it also contain soy silk, superwash wool, and cotton) and the colours are really vibrant - I know I will be tempted to buy some of the other colourways too.

I feel a sock WIP coming on..

Here's Trinity in her current state. Can you tell what she's morphing in to?

Finally I have to admit to being VERY naughty and starting yet another new project. The "Just Bamboo" in Driftwood was calling to me and I couldn't resist. :-)

Friday, 7 September 2007

FO reveal

So here we are, the FO is revealed as being.. the blue chevron top, started way back in April.

It's come out better than I thought - I used an extremely minimal pattern from Rebecca magazine (issue no 27 in case you're wondering) and substituted the yarn with the cheapy cotton/viscose blend
I bought from Lidl in March.

The viscose blend has given it a wonderful drape; I would definitely use that yarn blend again although not necessarily such a cheap one - it had plenty of knots in each ball. You get what you pay for.

I've started playing around with the leftover pale blue yarn and the lovely "Trinity Stitch" from my crochet stitch dictionary. We'll see what this transforms into as it grows..

I enhanced my stash too! I recently bought the spring issue of Interweave Crochet, and love it so much that I've subscribed via The Woolly Workshop.

Of course while I was ordering from them I thought I'd better try out some of their sale yarns too.

The drop spindle finally arrived from
P&M Woolcraft after an unfortunate delay with minimal communication resulted in a wait of 6 weeks, although I've read from other customers that this isn't normal.

Now I can start to play with the
llama fibre I bought from Llama Lland!

I'll finish off with a couple of sky-gazing shots I wanted to share:

The hot air balloon that flew over our house a couple of days ago (look at that sky!)..
..and a gorgeous moon pic that DH managed to get last week. Stunning!

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Friday, 31 August 2007

Frilly bamboo

We have frilly progress. :-)

The cardigan trim is done in 4 separate parts, so I only had to seam the shoulders before I could get stuck in - that makes me happy.

The cardigan now has a frilled trim on the back hem, and I think it looks lovely.

It's very easy to do; just an alternating K2tog, YO pattern done using 3 increasing sizes of needle, with a cast-on 2, cast-off 5 finish. Very effective.

On a health note, I had news this morning that all my ECG and blood test results are fine, which is great news.

That means that my recent palpitations and feeling unwell are down to stress and anxiety - not surprising really with the accumulation of events over the past 9 months.

So apart from my whopping bruise left from my last blood test (it started bleeding again as I got up to go, so we had to press hard on it) and a few panic attacks which I need to get under control, all is well - or can become so anyway.

I'm well impressed with the doctors and nurses at our local surgery - they were all prompt, thorough, encouraging, and really put me at my ease. We're very lucky to have such a great resource available.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Beetroot and bamboo

We have a very kind elderly neighbour with an allotment producing too much food for him and his wife to eat by themselves.

So we currently have this - a small bucketful of fresh raw beetroot, grown about 10 feet away from our garden boundary.

I'm thrilled to have such a kind and generous neighbour, and if ever we have a glut of anything edible we will return the favour.

I have to admit that I've never taken to pickled beetroot and have never bought it fresh to cook with. So having absolutely no idea what to do with this bucket full of goodness, I scoured the
Good Food website for ideas - and there were plenty.

I decided to try a couple out for a family BBQ last night to celebrate my in-laws buying their new house just a few minutes walk from ours.

This is one of the results - beetroot houmous - divine!

I would have shown you the
beetroot slaw too, but that's all gone already. :-)

The other project simmering away is this - the frilled cardigan in Sirdar Bamboo.

All the main pieces are now finished, so I can seam those shoulders and start on the beautiful edging..

Thursday, 23 August 2007

All manner of presents

Many thanks for all your birthday wishes; I had 3 days of celebrations as I visited various friends and family, and ended up with 4 birthday cakes! Very yummy they all were too. ;-)

I had some lovely pressies including a beautiful Seasalt organic cotton halterneck beach dress, some Moshulu beach shoes (cuz I can't drive in flip-flops), a rashie for under my wetsuit, some Lush goodies, money, and chocolates.

Then there's the present I bought for myself - 500g of Sirdar Bamboo in shade "Driftwood" and a lovely pattern for it.

I'm so impressed with this yarn in my current WIP that I couldn't resist buying more; it has a beautiful sheen and drape, gorgeous shades, and feels fantastic.

I also had a present that wasn't quite so desired - I've had
palpitations and a 120bpm heart rate since my birthday afternoon, and am now hooked up to a 24-hour ECG, had blood tests, and I'm on beta-blocker tablets to reduce my reduce my heartbeat.

The doctor at my local surgery is being amazing - very thorough, sensitive, and encouraging - even to the point of phoning me at home to check I was getting along ok inbetween appointments - I'm impressed.

Hopefully the next couple of weeks will lead to some good news and conclusions.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Hello..? Anyone home..?

Ho hum - another unintentional blog break. Here's what's been going on in sunny(?) Cornwall since the last post:

Wedding Bolero
I finished the wedding bolero! I rate it 6/10 - ok enough to keep and wear but not exactly as planned. Why? Well because
- For some reason I designed the pattern in a size bigger than I need - brain holiday obviously
- I forgot to increase the V-neck depth, so the clasp fastening is higher than I intended
- I should have used a more open stitch for this DK weight yarn - the result is pretty but not as lightweight and drapey as I'd hoped
- Basically I was in too much of a rush to get the darn thing finished in time for the wedding - I really should know by now that good planning is everything!

Still, I do like the garment, it fits (loosely - but better that than too small), and it goes with the wedding outfit so I will wear it.

Garment details:
Materials: 350g mercerised DK cotton, approx 80 crystal beads, 4mm knitting needles, 3.5mm crochet hook, 1 clasp
Knitted in treble lace stitch with a beaded crochet edging

Evening Wrap
I also wanted a bolero or wrap to go with my top for the wedding evening do. I had 200g of
Patons Reef (a beautiful ribbon yarn) in shade "Pebble" to use. Again speed was of the essence so I opted for a wrap.

I played with stitch patterns, started a couple of times with different widths, finished it, tried it on, and promptly dumped it in the Frog Pond. This definately gets a 3/10 - I love the stitch pattern with this yarn, but the finished wrap isn't deep enough and (again I should know by now) wraps, shawls, and stoles are very pretty but they just aren't me!

So in the Frog Pond it waits, and hopefully it will at some point become the bolero it should always have been.

Bamboo Cardigan
Introducing the new WIP - my lovely dusky rose Wendy Bamboo yarn and cardigan pattern gifted from the kind members of the Beatties Knit Chat group just before we moved to Cornwall.

Woohoo - I got gauge!

Assorted trivia

  1. I christened my new wetsuit by body boarding with my DDs last weekend! We managed not to get into difficulties in the strong rip current thankfully

  2. I hit the high-street sales and got bargains from Monsoon, Principles, Wallis, and Next - but no yarn

  3. My MIL and FIL have now also moved down to Cornwall - they're buying a bunglaow about 3 minutes walk from us. My DDs are thrilled to have nanny and grandad living within walking distance :-)
  4. Keeping an eye on the weather - maybe we should stock up on cotton yarns now?

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Show excitement!

Last weekend our local village "Horticultural and Domestic Show" was held at the Community Centre. The local school children could enter some of the show categories; my DDs entered in:
- shell craft
- decorated stone
- edible jewellery
- 4 crispy buns on a plate

There was much rushing about the night before they were due in, to get the entries finished. Of course, we'll be better prepared next year (famous last words?).

It paid off though, as they both came runner up in one of their categories!

What I hadn't realised previously was that there were categories for everyone to enter. Next year I'll be going for the "Handicraft - Open" and DH will be entering the "Photography - Open" ones.

There was a brass band, coconut shy, bouncy castle, and refreshments stall - selling Cornish cream teas - a cup of tea and a scone with strawberry jam and clotted cream. Of course we had to try them - and very delicious they were. ;-)

The whole atmosphere was so very different to the City Show were we were living this time last year - tiny, rural, homely.. just lovely.

We had a great afternoon, and DH has now become involved with the village committee as a result - so he's helping to sort out the village barbeque next week. Another local highlight in our social calendar! :-)