Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Hats ahoy

Hopefully our internet connection is sorted out (saying that very quietly!) - DH phoned BT's technical support earlier today, who are now located on the other side of the world! They said they'd phone back, they haven't but *touch wood* not long after that the connection settled down. Hohum.

So, we have hat photos and yarn photos :-) First the hats, this is the Odessa I just finished:

Yarn is RYC Cashsoft DK in "Crush". There is a reasonable chunk of yarn left from the ball, I always wonder about one-skein patterns in case it is very close on yardage, but it's unlikely you'd run out with this. I wasn't impressed to find a big ugly knot half way through the ball though! It's very nice to knit with, soft and doesn't tend to split.

This is the Odessa in Wendy Supreme Cotton DK that I finished a wee while ago. Both are due to be posted off to Caps for a Cure this week.

Additions have been made to the stash this week, firstly this lovely stuff:

Cascade 220 from Get Knitted, the original pink used for Wavy. I shall enjoy knitting that later this year :-) The yarn is gorgeous soft stuff, I can see it might be addictive.

I ordered this from Jannette yesterday lunchtime and it arrived this morning, lightning-fast:

Rowan Yorkshire Tweed DK in Lime Leaf, on offer as it has been discontinued. I also won a 350+g cone of YT DK in Skip (the same colour I'm doing Brigitte in) from ebay yesterday for a whole 6 pounds something :-) This I think will end up as either a v-necked tank or a sleeveless wrap (or a bolero or shrug or ...). Jannette currently has quite a few colours in the YT 4-ply at a very good price indeed, if anyone is in the market for it!

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I'm here but ...

... we are having horrid internet problems, apparently we are still in the "bedding in" period after a broadband regrade (up to 8Mb) and we should expect disruption. It is driving us crazy! It means I can't really blog and I'm having trouble commenting. So, I will be visiting everyone's blog, it might just take me longer than usual.

I finished Odessa tonight so pictures as soon as I can post properly.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Look what the postman brought

Yesterday I received the lovely package from Erin, that I won in her birthday draw :-) I'd been feeling rather down (had a good cry and talked to DH, just work winding me up really!), so you can imagine this was just the tonic:

There is a huge skein of Skacel laceweight merino (1375 yards!), yummy Cadburys Caramel choccies (all gone now I'm afraid!), and the cutest beanie ram whose name is Bam :-) This really tickled me, I call Basil (one of the chinchillas) Bam or Bam Bam :-) Thank you so much Erin!

I think I'm going to go ahead and order the winder, I have fairly imminent use for one to wind the second skein of posh yarn. Also fighting the urge to order yarn for another Clapotis, the trouble is I've seen it now and that was weeks ago, I've held out an awfully long time LOL.

Today I've been looking up hotels in North Yorkshire/York, as DH suggested we go away for a few days over our wedding anniversary (aww). Our first one too, although we've been together a long long time :-) He already knows I want to visit the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop, didn't bat an eyelid :-D It's an area we've visited a few times (York, Castle Howard, Rievaulx Abbey, Fountains Abbey etc.) but only on day trips, so it would be great to have a base for exploring. Not too far away either so no long 8+ hour drives that we've done for the past 5 or 6 years to Cornwall! We love the place but we need a break from frantically packing everything but the kitchen sink for 2 weeks' self-catering in a rented cottage :-)


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Spare Head 2

Look what arrived today, my very own head-form courtesy of a seller on ebay :-)

A very reasonable fiver plus P&P, money well spent as I can now show hats off much more effectively. Hopefully without the flash washout though, it is bucketing down outside at the moment.

Spare Head 2* is modelling the first Odessa I made. I cast on another last night, in RYC Cashsoft DK, both are for Caps for a Cure. I'll finish that one this week with any luck then I can post them off.

I also looked at dress forms on eBay, from what I could see they tend to go for around half of what one costs brand new (the adjustable type, quite a few sellers have non-adjustable ones). I'm not quite sure where one would "live" if I got one though!

One thing I'm almost certainly going to invest in is a manual yarn winder, so I can wind skeins directly off the swift and make nice even centre-pull balls. Apart from second-hand ones on eBay, which I'm none too sure about (could be wonky/worn etc.), the one place I've found them online so far is P&M Woolcraft (22 pounds something). Given the price second hand versions go for on eBay, plus the cost of P&P, this seems very reasonable.

Cherry, so sorry about your poor jumper! Glad I could help out with the replacement :-D There is definitely a green "bug" doing the rounds though!

* "Spare Head 2" is a reference to "Red Dwarf", the android Kryten has various spare body parts including spare heads one and two :-)


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Post-Latifa yarn therapy

Nanatoo is indeed absolutely correct - yarn from Cucumberpatch arrives very quickly indeed, this lot in less than 48 hours :-)

8 x 100g skeins Rowanspun Aran in shade "Hardy", good yardage at 200m per skein. Destined to be a sweater in the autumn/winter.

One thing I notice as I add my yarn list into the spreadsheet, is how much of it is in small amounts. There may be 4 sides of a notebook but a lot of that is in ones or twos. The nice thing is that this has crystallised my yarn-buying goals, I now realise that I'd be better off in the main buying a decent quantity of one yarn, rather than bits and bobs, especially if I see something in a sale. It will give me a lot more scope for what to make with it. The spreadsheet also enables you to buy more yarn, because you are absolutely certain you don't have the right yarn for a new project :-D

Thanks for all your lovely comments on Latifa! Cherry, I agree with you 100%, the world definitely needs more lovely frivolous things like ruffles and fringes :-)

Right, off to feed and clean the animals then it may well be Pimms-o-clock!


Monday, May 15, 2006

Latifa scarf!

Please, no-one faint with shock. I have finally finished Latifa. I started it in January and proceeded to abandon it on a regular basis for other projects (Clapotis, I'm looking at you).

I did the last 4 or 5 ruffles yesterday (hands *ouch*), then sewed in all the Koigu ends last night. It was finished yesterday but by 11 or 12 at night it was a tad dark to take photos. Today wasn't much lighter either, it has decided to be GLOOMY, that almost half-light you get with a heavy cloud cover and drizzle all day. However I don't think the photos came out half bad, no camera flash which surprised me given light levels indoors:

Pattern: Latifa scarf from Knitty, by Jillian Moreno
Yarn: Garnstudio Silketweed in shades 02 15 01 and 21 (used around a half to two-thirds of each), and Koigu KPPPM in shade 121 (used 1.5 skeins)
Needles: 3.25mm metal needles (ouch)

When I'd knitted the main garter stitch section, I found the edges were quite uneven. This seemed to be due to the varying thicknesses of the different colours of Silketweed - brown being the thickest and green being by far the thinnest. I washed and pinned it out to block, which did a fantastic job of evening it up.

When the pattern says, take regular breaks when ruffling, it means it :-) I found it very hard on my hands, the combination of a metal needle and the multiple increases doesn't leave a lot of breathing room. I found I was lucky if I could manage 3 ruffles in one session. However, I'm very pleased with the final result, and at this rate will be able to wear it if we continue to have temperatures of 13C this week!

I'd probably have finished earlier on Sunday if I hadn't been distracted on Saturday, by cataloguing my stash. Several bloggers have been doing this recently and since I'd already made a projects spreadsheet, and needed to do some general sorting out of yarn anyway, i made an inventory of all of it. It didn't actually take that long, which leads me to believe my stash isn't that big :-D Big enough for 4 sides of a reporters notebook, hmm. I'm currently in the middle of adding it to a spreadsheet. I already have the thing calculating total yardage, and for good measure working out what that is in metres too.

In celebration of finishing Latifa, and because I saw the link to the sale items on Kendra's blog, I ordered enough Rowanspun Aran for a sweater yesterday :-) Today of course I found I could have saved several pounds as McA have the same stuff (drat) but I got mine from Cucumberpatch (shade Hardy, the brightish green). No pattern in mind yet, I might use it as my first self-designed sweater with the able assistance of Ann Budd's book. It's one for the autumn anyway :-)

What else has been occurring this week? I ordered Mason Dixon Knitting from amazon.com (I had a gift certificate to use), and One Skein plus two Neil Gaiman books from amazon.co.uk. Bizarrely the price at amazon.co.uk appears to have rocketed since I placed my order. Looking forward to both books very much.

The TARDIS bag and scarf arrived just in time for my friend's birthday and she seems to like them! It's always a gamble, it seems to me, knitting for people when the item is a surprise, even more so when you haven't had the opportunity to meet in person!

Thanks to the folks who suggested links for buttons last week, the sites are all very interesting: Hazel for Ronda Terry and Debbie Abrahams, and Kendra for Nichols Buttons (amazing couture buttons from the 1940s to 1960s).

It has also been nice to see Harry Potter Knitting getting back on track, with new maintainers. One of the members there is putting together a Quidditch Sweater pattern (both sweater and zipped cardigan) which I am looking forward to immensely.

Now I really ought to finish the jacket, but first I'm going to cast on another Odessa for caps for a Cure, this time in RYC Cashsoft DK. I'm hoping to send both this and the original cotton version off this month.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Our garden

First things first, I am a very lucky knitblogger this week, as I have won Erin's weekly prize in her ongoing birthday draw! There is some lovely pink laceweight yarn, along with choccies and a very cute stuffed toy ram :-) I'm looking forward to the parcel arriving! Thanks Erin! Please do pop over and visit her blog :-)

No knitting photos until this weekend at the earliest, but I took these yesterday in our back garden. We've been out after work this week planting tubs and sorting out the borders, given the splendid weather.

First the border by the house. This is in shade most of the time, so we have lots of ferns and hostas in there. The first photo is the left hand side, mostly shuttlecock ferns which self-seed (spore) at an alarming rate! They are just unfurling the croziers, in a couple of weeks this bed will be a mass of green. There are also some bluebells in here that we inherited, these have the most amazing scent at night-time. Also hostas which again are just starting to unfurl their leaves.

This is the right hand side of the same border. I've replanted it this week with an Aquilegia, some foxgloves and a curly-fronded fern. This involved digging out the hardy geranium which has been there since we moved in 8 years ago. I saved a couple of pieces and replanted them under the trees, next to where Oz is buried.

The window with the vertical blinds is ours, the other one is next door's conservatory! There is probably what, 5 feet or so between them. They have built right on the property line. I have no idea what kind of planning permission was sought, but if we'd lived here at the time, we may well have objected to the proximity! You can see why we have vertical blinds :-)

This is one of our baskets, this has tumbler cherry tomatoes along with some violas (again these have quite am amazng scent especially at night). I'll hopefully get some photos of the other baskets and tubs in a few weeks' time when they have had a chance to mature a little.

Finally for today we have the border at the other side of the lawn (you can see the far right of the house border at top left). This was planted from scratch last summer, after we had had a new lawn laid. There used to be a much deeper border there but we didn't really have the time to wade in there in recent years and it was getting out of hand. From left to right we have creeping thyme, rosemary, lavender, I think a giant campanula, Abelia (variegated small shrub), creeping campanula, two different Phlox, a deep almost-black Viola, some inherited blue and white bells, and our ferns and hostas again.

I have now swept the patio, by the way :-)

Latifa is on track to be finished this weekend. I realised that I actually started it in January! It kept being put aside for other projects though, bad me. Much knitting temptation arrived in the form of the new Interweave Knits. I love "Pink Mimosa", the sleeveless wrap cardi with the lace edgings, and I would definitely knit a number of the patterns in there. They have a great feature about lace knitting (or knitting lace), and reference Eunny's tutorials which by coincidence I had been reading earlier that day. Has anyone else invested in a set of blocking wires for lace? I saw the link on AY forums today and thought it looked like a very useful item to have.

I will catch up with comments and some other bits and bobs tomorrow or Sunday :-)


Monday, May 08, 2006

Coming up for air

It has been a busy 7 days, not helped by what seem to be intermittent hayfever symptoms! Much of last week was spent feeling distinctly drained. I am currently running on Time Lite (tm). Not enough hours in the day to achieve everything I'd like to, as a consequence I've been rather scarce online. I've been trying to concentrate on some knitting, specifically finishing my longer-standing WIPs. As you can see from the progress bar, I'm onto the home strait with ruffling Latifa. It certainly feels good to have passed the half way mark. I've speeded up in picking up stitches but still, the final row and the casting off seem to take forever for each one. I'm aiming to have Latifa finished by the end of next weekend. Having said that, I've not touched it tonight, but a large-ish pile of ironing was shifted! Once the scarf is done, I'll concentrate on the jacket. One thing at once until these 2 are finished is my mantra :-)

I was cheered up immensely on Saturday by the arrival of the amulet bag that I won in the draw from Hazel. The bag contained a beautiful piece of citrine, the picture does it absolutely no justice at all. There was also a surprise in the form of a very funky watch, in similar Project Spectrum April colours. Hazel was very thoughtful indeed and popped a spare battery in for the watch as well :-) Thanks again Hazel, they are lovely!


Monday, May 01, 2006

A quick jacket update

Last night I finished the second sleeve and tackled the ripping out of the back section to the proper length before the arm decreases. I have to say it behaved very well when being unravelled and I was able to pick up the stitches onto the needle very easily. It is now completed (again) and is the correct length. This afternoon I sewed the shoulder seams together and had a first try-on. Seems OK, I have to say, despite my fears it would be too small! In hindsight I would possibly have made the next size up.

Here's the odd thing though. I have three balls left of the variegated yarn. Three. That is rather a lot. I've measured and things are how they should be size-wise. The yarn requirements are way off! Surely even allowing for differences in knitters' gauge and technique, three extra balls is excessive! Not sure how much of the plain yarn will be left, as the hood is quite large. I'll post a picture when I've picked up and knit the front borders.


The mystery bag!

Here's how I got the idea for this bag. I wanted to knit something for a friend in the US, and asked what her favourite colours are. Blues and greens was her answer. Then she qualified the blue with a very particular descripton! My original idea was to make a scarf (Branching Out was the result), but once given the germ of an idea, I thought, why not make a themed bag ... the result was the TARDIS bag :-) My friend is a big fan of Doctor Who, going back many years, so when she said "TARDIS blue", this was the result:

Pattern: my own, basically a knitted section of stockinette folded and seamed up the sides. Knitted squares added separately (and kudos to DH for doing the blue on the grey pieces). Bag is lined with a sewn-in felt pocket.
Yarn: Stylecraft DK 100% wool shade Ocean

I was never quite sure how I was going to execute the panels and windows effect, technically there should be eight but that would have looked odd here, I think!

Hopefully this will make my friend laugh, she has had a tough year or so and fingers crossed, this will cheer her up a bit :-)