Saturday, October 28, 2006

Yelena cardigan, etc.

It hasn't been a good week for trying to finish the hood on the BdF jacket. I find I can't knit very well with the yarn if I'm tired, so I've left it alone! It is very prone to catching loops on the needles, in much the same way as Lasso.

I started the Yelena cardigan a couple of days ago. This is from Colinette's Femme Fatale book, another collection of designs using Giotto. I'm using shade "Marble" that I bought well over a year ago, originally intended for Maeve from Akashya. This cardigan is in 1x1 rib, might sound slow but actually I'm finding it reasonably quick to knit. Big needles and big yarn is a good combination. I also think this type of fabric is excellent for Giotto.

I'm only using one skein and so far it's looking good, no pooling or striping.

I wanted to show you the wonderful "Sheepish" needles that I received today from Knitz&Glitz, but have had a contretemps with the camera's memory card and the pictures were trashed. Take a look at them on the website! I also can't show the gorgeous skein of Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 yarn (shade Mermaid) that also arrived today from Get Knitted (along with various knitting notions and a pair of Brittany needles). This is my end-of-the-month yarn buy and is for the Ilga Leja Diamonds on the Diagonal scarf. Jannette is selling these patterns on eBay now, and Woolly Workshop also stock some of them.

I'm pleased with how my Octber "yarn diet" went. I did not purchase any yarn on a whim, my only purchase has been the yarn mentioned above (which I was going to do early next week but figured it made little difference overall!). I'll try to continue with being more "restrained" in my yarn-buying for November, to be honest I didn't find it difficult at all for one month.

Another reason to use some lovely stash, at work we have decided to take part in "Operation Christmas Child", and fill two shoeboxes with items for children who otherwise wouldn't get anything, in Europe and elsewhere. At minimum I'm making two hats, one for a 2-4 year old girl, and one for a 5-9 year old boy. These will have to be done this week really so hopefully I'll have them to show when I next blog.

Today we went on a Global Volunteer Day event at the local zoo. We were clearing up some of the animal enclosures, mainly for fallen leaves. We ended up cleaning the capybara and spider monkey area, and later on the enclosure and surrounds of the miniature donkeys. It was a great way to spend part of the day and it was wonderful to see the animals. It's years and years snce we visited this place and they have made huge improvements, some really excellent, large areas for the animals and plenty of environment enrichment.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Drop stitch scarf

Firstly thank you everyone for your comments and good wishes for Basil! He is doing a LOT better, after 24 hours of taking ground-up hay and pellets in a thick paste from a spoon, he started showing interest in eating his "normal" food, and is now eating hard, crunchy foods again which he wouldn't touch before :-) It looks like he is well on the road to full recovery.

Here's the drop stitch scarf with corsage that I mentioned last time. Apologies for the pictures being a little "flash heavy" but we are losing the bright daylight around 5pm now. The pattern is from Knitting magazine a little while ago, from a "Make It Pink" feature. I used Wendy Wild Spice super-chunky yarn, 50/50 wool/acrylic and extremely soft - around one and a quarter 100g skeins.

I'm off to update my yarn and projects spreadsheets now. I need to pick some new projects to start too! I think next up will be Coronet from Knitty for CFAC, then I think a cardigan and a scarf .... I finally picked up the hood on the jacket last night so the end is in sight for that!

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

When chaos comes to visit

Long time no blog, or so it seems! The day after my last post I had a double vaccination, flu in one arm and pneumonia in the other. Nice! Thankfully the effects didn't last too long but last Monday (9th) saw me off work trying to see off the aching. I also had trouble knitting for a while as my hands and arms were sore. And they say these jabs are good for me :-)

A day or so later the real drama began. One of my two chinchillas stopped eating. This is a serious matter in chinchillas, if the gut stops functioning completely it's usually fatal. We took him to the vet and to cut a long story short, he had to go under anaesthetic last Friday (yes, it was the 13th!) and they found sharp "spurs" on his molars which had to be filed away ("burred"). Now again, giving an anaesthetic to a chinnie is a risky business, however we are fortunate to have a vet not too far away who is reasonably experienced with chinchillas. They used the safest gas to put him under, which has a quick recovery time and isn't absorbed into any vital organs.

Basil is now recovering, he has had a check-up and another injection to help his appetite etc, but he obviously still has a sore mouth and isn't keen on chewing at any hard foodstuffs. I've ordered some specialist recovery foods and probiotics today, but following excellent advice I commandeered the liquidiser tonight and ground up some pellets and hay. I made this into thickish paste and tried him with it, he was really keen to eat it which was a huge relief! We have been very worried about him and life has been rather topsy turvy around here, but the fact he has an appetite and wants to eat is excellent news. It can take quite a while for them to fully recover from this type of procedure, especially where they had stopped eating beforehand.

We really didn't have any clues as to the teeth problem until early last week, chinnies are very good at hiding discomfort and pain and even though I watch them like a hawk, there was nothing to indicate this problem developing. It may well reoccur, but we can help guard against it to some extent by ensuring he eats enough hay (which they use their molars to grind down). DH is now looking for a small grinder/combi tool so we don't have to use the huge liquidiser!

Aside from the worry for the past week or so, there have been some lovely things arriving by post to brighten the day. Firstly, I won a draw on Mary-Lou's blog for one of her lovely bag charms. This has lobster claws which hold stitchmarkers and is a lovely idea, especially if you are taking your knitting with you on a trip.

Thanks Mary Lou! Please visit MLQKnits for more charms, stitch markers etc!

I also ordered one of the snazzy row counter bracelets from Knitz & Glitz, this one is made in wooden beads:

On Sunday we assembled the Ashford rigid heddle loom:

In the interim I had ordered the full-colour Ashford book for rigid heddle weaving, which arrived today and looks to be very useful indeed. Hopefully I will have a chance to warp it up this weekend. My first project will likely be a bag, and I'd like to make a lovely big wrap once I get the hang of things.

I did manage some knitting, mainly a scarf in a lovely soft chunky yarn, wich will be for the craft fair. I need to tidy one end and sew together the rose corsage pin that goes with it before I take a picture.

Finally I can show the secret project I mentioned last time, a pair of "Fetching" fingerless gloves in Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk aran. These were a birthday present for a good friend :-)

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Garlic bread - it's the future

Short of any form of witty title for this somewhat delayed posting, I turn to "Phoenix Nights" for inspiration :-)

I was all set to blog last weekend. I'd finished a hat the previous Sunday (that's nearly two weeks ago now) but it needed washing and blocking before being photographed. However I was also working on another project which shall remain secret just for now, so waited to block both together. Without further ado, here's the hat:

Pattern: Lace Edged Hat by Julie M. Hentz
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft DK
Yardage: around three quarters of one 50g skein
Needles: 4.5mm 12" Addis (pattern suggests 4mm)

This is my September hat for Caps for a Cure. I decided to go with a slightly larger needle size in case the hat turned out too snug, it's fine and doesn't actually cover the eyes on a person, in case anyone was wondering! The head form is not quite to scale for an adult human head. I also did only two repeats of the lace pattern rather than three.

Next up, I've been working on my Bergere de France jacket this week. One front edge is complete and I'm half way through the second. I've turned the completed one back on itself to give an idea of how it will look when hemmed:

All of the cream edgings are folded double and hemmed on the right side when finishing. Just the hood to do after this then it's down to the seaming.

Here's some gorgeous yarn that arrived recently, Twilleys Freedom Spirit in Fire:

I'm still waiting for the pattern book, I'm planning to make the shrug/bolero with this yarn.

Speaking of yarn, I've embarked on a small yarn diet. No yarn to be bought for the month of October. Hopefully I can continue that into November too. It does give me a chance to knit up all sorts of projects without trying to fill the house with yarn at the same time!

Hopefully some of you listen to Carrie Anne's excellent BritKnitCast. If you do you'll know that in the episode before the current one, she was talking about her new loom. I'd already seen the first items to come off the loom on her blog, and they looked fantastic. Listening to the podcast convinced me that a loom would be a great acquisition and a whole new area of fibre arts to learn.

I've been interested in spinning for some time having seen many many bloggers who both knit and spin. However we are a bit short of floor space here, and a wheel with all its accoutrements wouldn't really have a "home", we'd end up falling over it! It also seems to be quite a learning curve to spin yarns well, and adding together my limited free time plus some coordination/dexterity issues, it isn't something I'll be taking up any time soon.

To cut a long story short, I ordered a 60cm Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom from P&M Woolcraft, and it arrived around 36 hours after ordering, how's that for speedy service! The loom comes with a 10DPI heddle (suitable for DK yarn), and I ordered a 7.5DPI heddle for aran weight as well. Sadly I didn't have time to wax and assemble it last weekend, but I'm determined to do that this weekend. Here's the loom in its box, it has been unpacked and checked then put back in the box:

There is a nice welcome pack included, with a copy of the Ashford knitting/weaving/spinning magazine, and various documentation. There is even a piece of sandpaper should you need to smooth any sharp edges! From what I've seen the wood is beautifully finished and unlikely to need the attentions of the sandpaper.

Hopefully I'll be able to post pictures of the assembled loom some time this weekend :-)

As to the fate of the KSH scarf - it has been frogged and I will make it in garter stich this time! Thanks to Mary Lou for the insight - no, I don't really like moss stitch, especially with yarn so fine :-) Also frogged this week was Sgt Pepper. In common with several others I just didn't like the fabric the Cathay gives at the stated tension. Any suggested projects for the black Cathay (9 or 10 skeins) gratefully received. I'm sure I'll find something for it.

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