Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Yellow silk shrug

I started yet another project last night- I seem to have startitis at the moment. It's going to be a shrug (Ravelry link) but so far I've only managed to get ribbing around the neck line done. It's going well but there's a little tiny problem. My gauge is twice that that is given for the pattern. That's not a problem in itself as it's an easy calculation to fit my gauge into the pattern. What I am worried about is that I might not have enough yarn to complete said project now. I only have three balls of this yarn in my stash and the yardage isn't great. I really don't want to have buy anymore- not only because matching the dye lot would be next to impossible now but also because the yarn is 50% silk.

Now I know that y'all know about my 'views' on silk (if you missed the previous rant on this subject then check out this post) so let me quickly explain myself. The yarn that I am using here is Lang Silk Dream (second link is a Ravelry one) which my mum bought for me last year for my birthday. It got included in the haul as I was on a bit of a yarn high at the time. My mum took me into a wonderful little LYS that I hadn't been to before called Spin A Yarn in Bovey Tracey, Devon and basically told me to keep piling yarn up on the counter until she said stop. They had so many brands that I hadn't seen before that I got a bit carried away looking at the colours and picking things up and petting them that I didn't really pay any attention to what was going on the heap as far as content was concerned. The Lang made it based purely on the colour. Yellow is my very favourite colour. I know it's one of those colours that really polarises people and I think that's because it's very easy for yellow to look horrible. It can be very difficult just to find a nice plain yellow yarn- it gets even more difficult once you start combining it with other colours. One of my friends summed this up succinctly the other day but I'm danged if I can remember how she put it so I'm just going to hope that you get what I mean. Anyway, my point is that the buttery yellow colour of this yarn is just beautiful- it's almost my perfect shade of yellow, hence I own some.
So after having 'sat' on it for the better part of a year I finally got around to doing something with it. It was choice #2 from my 'posh' stash that I was going through the other day. I picked the Hacho (Mirasol) over it but only because I couldn't think of anything to make with it. Well, it obviously played on my mind.
Oddly enough, I picked a shrug pattern out because it felt like the right thing to make with the yarn but it wasn't until this morning that I realised just what a good choice this had been. I think I've been processing this all subconsciously. Just recently I've been thinking about weddings- I have to go to one this summer and some friends of mine recently announced their engagement (so the inevitable planning of a knitted wedding gift has started). Specifically though I've been thinking about that I will wear to this years wedding. It occurred to me the other day that I don't need to buy a dress (woohoo) because my mum has made a fabulous one for me from some Alexander Henry* fabric which is, I think, called Yellow Bird Seed and looks a bit like this (the colours aren't exactly right I'm afraid):

I had forgotten about it as she still has to fit the straps to it and I haven't seen it since Christmas. Well, maybe I hadn't totally forgotten about it- weirdly enough I think that the shrug will be the perfect accompaniment to the dress. I'm going to see my parents at the weekend so I will take the yarn with me to see how well it matches the dress but if it does then that is both a strange and wonderful coincidence.

*BTW Alexander Henry fabrics are my absolute favourite- I have a secret hoard of fat quarters of different prints from the collection. I'm a complete sucker for it every time. Whenever I have a few pennies spare that I don't need for yarn I buy another little piece of fabric heaven. I have no idea what I will do with all of it as I'm not really much of a sewer but I do love it so. I have plans to one day go on a course and perfect my sewing skills to the point where I will dare to use some of it. For the moment though it has it's own special box all to itself :D

Monday, 27 April 2009

Is it a bad thing...

that being presented with the following made me immensely happy? Or that I then had to immediately arrange them and take a photograph? And blog about it? Or should I be checking myself into a padded cell as I type?

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Sock Madness

I wasn't feeling terribly happy with the world at the weekend and so, after mooching round the house for a bit I found myself diving into my stash of posh yarns. I have a fairly large stash of fibre based goodies that I geekily arrange according to type and grade. My 'posh' stash lives in a wicker basket in the lounge, in a cat-proof cupboard, away from light, smells and guinea pigs. All my very best yarn is in there including that yummy yummy angora that I bought as a treat for myself. I have to admit that I don't often go into it. It's more a place to put things after I have finished petting them than anything else. Most of the yarn is merely for having. I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this, buying really nice yarn as a treat or on a whim and then squirreling it away like some kind of fibery nut. Usually I haven't got a clue what I would make with any of it but really, that's not the point of owning it. It's the skein version of a comfort blanket. Which is how I found myself digging through it at the weekend. Surrounded by beautiful fibre and glorious colour I started to feel better and well, comforted.
Whilst I was going through it skein by skein I suddenly realised however that if I was ever going to use any of it then there was no better time than right at that moment. It would give me something to do, something to concentrate on other than the gloomies, plus it would be as much of a treat to work with it as it would to own and hold it. So I had a really good rummage and spent a happy half hour picking out which one to use and then working out what I would make from it.
The yarn that I eventually chose was 'Hacho' by Mirasol.
I had 2 skeins of this in my stash that my mother had bought for me as a birthday present last year. At the time I thought I might make socks with it- this was mostly driven by the colour. I mean look at it! It has a little bit of everything in it. It's not sock weight- in fact I think it's classed as an aran weight yarn but that only makes for thick spongy socks for hiking. At first I was tempted to try and think of something other than socks to make with it. It kinda seemed a shame to use such nice wool for socks in a way. In the end I just thought 'what the hell' and went with the sock idea anyway. I mean, I only had 2 skeins so I wouldn't have been able to make anything very big without combining it with another yarn. All the planning and swatching that goes with that just wasn't appealing. I wanted to be using it right there and then! I don't need any more gloves or scarves or hats at the moment and I wasn't convinced I'd wear them anyway as the yarn is so colourful so socks were the logical and indeed, only choice.
After having made up my mind to just go for it and make the thing that I wanted to make I set to it with fervour. I was very happy to find that it also gave me a chance to use some gorgeous wooden Lantern Moon dpns that my mum had bought me for Christmas this year. At the time I had thought "whatever am I going to use 4" 3.75mm dpns for?" and it turns out that it was this!
I went with a toe up attack as I wasn't sure how much yarn it would take- this way I could just knit until it ran out. I used a short row heel/toe as I always do- there is no other way as far as I am concerned. Finally I added in a bit of staggered ribbing to make it interesting to knit and ta-da! my newest socks were born. Here's the first one in all it's finished glory:

Bit of a pain to photograph as I was trying to wear it at the same time as taking the picture :)
A real easy and fun knit though- the yarn made it delightful in fact. It's super comfy to wear, fits nicely and has all those pretty colours for me to distract myself with. The cast-off was a bit of a pain. I had to do and re-do it a total of 4 times, eventually working up to a 10mm needle just to get the gauge right. But it's done now and I love it. Number 2 is on the needles as I type, and yes, it did make me feel much happier!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Playing catch up

There are a number of things that I have to admit to being horribly behind on. Two things in particular need some attention right away and those are my traveling scarves. Both my TSG #27 scarf and my Red Sox scarf are home now. I have had them for about 2 weeks and haven't yet, I have to admit, finished them off. I think I was a scarfed out by the time they got back which is a real pity as both of them are beautiful.
So, in an effort to start the process of completion off, I'm going to put up all the photographs of the last pieces that I knitted for other peoples scarves. This then leaves me with just my own scarves to report on- hopefully being so close to finishing will prompt me to get them onto the needles and get them done. The theory is that a public shaming will prompt me into action!
First up then is the final section that I did for a Red Sox traveling scarf:

This section was an absolute pain- not the finished item that is as it was a relatively straight forward and quick knit to do in the end but getting the tension right! Oh! Painful, painful, painful. The owner of this scarf is a complete polar opposite to me as far as tension is concerned. Where mine is relatively tight and thus gives small, close stitches, theirs is much looser giving a light airy material. The challenge was to use the same stitch count and match the width of the scarf which required much, much swatching with different sized needles and different thicknesses of yarn. Nailed it in the end though!
TSG scarf #7- first an overview:

Check out the section 2 back from mine- I love how the variegated yarn has turned out for this section.
And then a close up of the section that I knitted for it (awful photo I do apologise):

I think I used this stitch on another section that I did for the Red Sox Traveling scarf that I have been working on. It uses those twisted stitches that I love so much (guess why I picked that then) but they do tend to pull in a little. It had lots of bounce though so I'm sure it will block out to the required width.
TSG scarf #6- first an overview:

It was really nice to see a colourful scarf going round- some of the blues in this are just beautiful.
And then a close up of the section that I knitted for it:

This is a simple float stitch motif. Again it has a lot of bounce so should block out. I enjoyed knitting it but I was disappointed that the yarn didn't look nicer after I had finished. For some reason the stitches just end up looking messy. I'm not sure whether it has something to do with the fibre content in this case. It's a wool blend mix I know that much but the original ball band had gone walkies.
I knitted 2 sections for scarf #4 as it had skipped a person en route. I don't have a picture of the finished scarf as I forgot to get the camera out before I posted it back to its owner so the following two photos of my sections are courtesy of them. My thanks go out! (It was bugging me terribly that I had forgotten).
Here is the first section that I knitted:

This is a slanted slip-stitch. Great fun to knit once I had got the hang of dropping a stitch, not panicking and not insisting on putting it on a third needle. I think I'll use this again.
And here is the second:

Just a simple stockinette with some nice purple stripes to balance out the scarf. The rest of it had bits of colour through out and this just seemed to compliment it all. I was especially pleased to find the purple in my stash as this scarfs owner had said that they liked it after I used it for another section on someone else's scarf.
And that's all folks! I think that now makes me all up to date on my traveling scarf adventures. Now to finish them off- just in time for the hot summer weather. D'oh :)

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

A few changes

So, what do you think?
I've been having a little play with the settings and format (as you may well have noticed) and tweaked a few things. Some of which will be immediately obvious such as my title bar- I finally got around to working out how to make a picture fit up there. Others are a little more subtle. A few are on trial such as the buttons that I added in under the posts. I have to admit that I ripped this idea off of a friend albeit very slo-o-o-wly as it's taken me weeks to work out how to do it :)
Of course, after having found said setting I couldn't decide what buttons I wanted so I tried to think of the ones that I would like to see on other peoples blogs. There's a good chance that they will change about or maybe even disappear but for the moment you call all have some clicky fun. I spent a substantial amount of time just worrying over the colour. I've always plumped for a plain white blog until now as I know that colour can polarise peoples reactions, i.e. if you are someone that doesn't like colour X then you aren't even going to bother reading a post before deciding that you don't like the blog. In the end I went for just a little bit of colour. I'm on a green kick at the moment because it's spring time and all the leaves are starting to peek back through so that was an obvious choice. That and all the yellow options were horrible!
Nearly all of the changes that I have made I'm still undecided on so if anyone has any comments or thoughts I'd love to hear them whether they be good or bad.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Eco Tote FO

So you remember that skein of Lily Sugar'n Cream that I was gifted recently? Well, this is what happened to it. So if you could just take your eyes away from the stunning wood door and beautiful inlaid brass lock and focus on the bag for a second I'll take you on a little knitting tour. Now I've mentioned this before but the pattern that I used for this is called Elisa's Nest Tote which can be found at the Purl Bee (or via Ravelry if you are a member). I also think I have spouted on about just how pleased I am with this bag so I'll try and keep the gushing to a minimum and just try and persuade you what a great project this is to make by adding in extra pictures.

Okay, so I'm not fooling any of you by saying I'll stay away from the keyboard but I'll keep it to a minimum and only point out three things.
Firstly check out the stripes. I used a combination of Rowan Cotton Glace with the Sugar'n Cream. I love how the variegated yarn has come out to so that the stripes there aren't solid. This yarn was lovely to knit with. It's one of the softest cottons I've used and didn't dry the skin out on my fingers like some other cotton yarns I've used. Plus it has yellow in it which is my favourite colour- I think it makes the bag look even more summery.
Secondly, you need to know that the Cotton Glace that I used is 'recycled'. It's part of a stash that I got on Freecycle last year. I'm sure the previous owner would be just as pleased as I am to see it going into a project like this.
Thirdly, the final part of the beauty of all of this is just how flexible the pattern is. Because the gauge doesn't really matter unless you want a very specific size of bag you can substitute any yarn that you like and change the size really easily. I made my slightly wider than suggested by casting on an extra 10 stitches. The size was otherwise determined by how much yarn I had- I just kept knitting until I ran out of the Sugar'n Cream (I was delighted to find that by the time I had woven in the ends and snipped the excess off I was left with less than 3" of yarn- how's that for efficiency?). The only drag was adding on all the i-cord as I find it utterly boring to knit but the applied i-cord does give the edge of the bag a really nice finish and the handles are, I have to admit, quite comfy. I only used 4 stitches for the i-cord instead of the recommended 6 because of the difference in thickness of yarn from that of the pattern. It made the i-cord much much quicker to knit though which was brilliant. Otherwise I may have gone mad. The thicker yarn also makes for slightly smaller holes so I've found that I can put my keys in the bag with fear of loosing them.
So to say that I'm pleased with this would be a bit of an understatement as I'm sure you have all worked out :)

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Eek, eek, grr...

Double eek because Blogger appears to have wiped my entire blog roll (you know, that bit at the beginning where you can add peoples blogs and it lets you know whenever it gets updated. That thing, yeah, what ever its called. You know...) so now I have lost my entire list of contacts. This means that I'm going to have to spend ages trawling around the Internet hunting down peoples blogs to add back to the list. Luckily I should be able to find all my fellow 'Lesser Known Skein-ers' without too much problem but is was a pretty hefty blog roll to have to replace in one go which is the reason for the grrrr.
What I guess I'm really trying to say though is that I'm sorry if I have suddenly dropped off of peoples 'following' list, don't leave a comment for a while or seem to be lost in the ether. I will be trying to hunt you all down again! and I promise that it is nothing personal. I'm actually quite upset that it has all been lost. I really enjoyed spending my lunch breaks reading people's posts, especially as it was a good way of keeping in touch with many of my friends from Ravelry.
I'll get it done though- even if it takes all week!

So I got distracted...

The Easter break has really put a mockers on all that I had planned to do. I diligently made a big long list of all the targets and little jobs that I felt would make my life a brighter and cheerier place and set myself the task of crossing off half of all the things on the list (it was a very big list) during the break.
Unfortunately (and you heard that one coming I'm sure), I got a little sidetracked. There are three things at fault for this. Firstly, I got sucked into playing a computer game. Not any computer game I'll have you know, but one of the most awesome games ever created. If you don't know it and you like RPG's then I would seriously suggest that you go out right away and buy yourself a copy of Okami. This game is right up there with Zelda (my all time favourite) for me. It is a beautifully executed piece of game play with just the right pitch, look and puzzle to keep anyone hooked. What makes it especially fun is the innovative use of the Wii-mote that you use as though it were a paintbrush.
So, yes, ahem. I might have been spending just a little bit of time playing that :D
Second on my list of distractions was the ball of Lily Sugar'n Cream that I was gifted recently. It pretty much jumped straight onto the needles as soon as it walked out of the bag. I then had to spend some time knitting up a tote bag (Ravelry link) which came out beautifully. There was a reasonable amount of i-cord involved however which I find both tedious and slow to knit although the thick yarn and larger sized needles helped to speed things up a bit. I haven't got any photos of the FO yet but expect to see it here shortly. I have a big pile of things that I need to take pictures of and I hope to tackle it tomorrow. It's the one thing that is a real pain at the moment but the DH told me the other day that he is going to be getting me a camera for my birthday! which is wonderful news as up until now I have been totally reliant on using the facilities at work. This hasn't been too much of a problem as I come in early and can do all the yarn-porn photos outside of work hours but it will be great to able to take some that are a bit more exciting and set in the 'real' world as it were. It also means that I will be able to take photos of things-other-than-yarn such as the kitties and the Great Vegetable Experiment II.
Third and certainly by no means least, IT'S BASEBALL SEASON! Yay! we are back into regular season baseball once more and it just so happened that a lot of the games were on at a good time for us to watch. Most of the regular season games start at 1am our time :( but we had at least four over the Easter break that started at about 9pm. Unfortunately the Sox didn't seem to want to win many of them for us but I did get to see both Varitek and Lowell homer and run around in tight pants and knee high socks. Yum.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

I'm a lucky girl!

So things have been getting a little hectic again at work- its looks as though any reprieve I got from playing the 'I'm really sick' card has now worn off. Which means that I am horribly behind with my blog AGAIN and my knitting AGAIN and everything else that I want to be working on. I have made some progress with a few crafty things recently because I had to- they had deadlines attached and I didn't want to let anyone down. I'll post about that next but first I wanted to share something with you all that really really cheered me up this week. Just when I was having a glum and gloomy Eeyore day I got a surprise parcel in the post. It was full of marvelous goodies.
Check out this photo:

So starting in the top left: Wonderful scrummy tea that is now nearly all gone. The stuff right at the top was delicious. The buttons/pin badges have been added to my collection (the owl made it onto my jacket already). The blue Tagua nut button is perfect for a project that I have in mind. In fact its a bit scary just how well the colours match. The Sugar'n Cream is a real treat for me and made me go squeeeeee all evening as I plotted what to do with it. It's one of those mythic yarns that seem to be in plentiful supply in the states but you never ever see over here. It's going to go into a eco tote that I can pack into my handbag. I shall never ever need a plastic bag again. The mouse is one of a pair that where a gift for my kitties. Fenway has already mauled them both- he loves them so much. It's really cute to see him carrying them around in his mouth, especially the black one as it matches his fur so it's hard to know where cat ends and mouse begins. The CD is a few songs by the Beuna Vista Social Club (lovelovelove). The blue envelope is a handwritten note for me that makes me go all squooshy inside whenever I read it. Finally the pretty black yarn to the left of the photo is a skein of Koigu KPM yarn (another first for me along with the Sugar'n Cream). This I am just going to pet for a bit :D

Friday, 3 April 2009

Knitting addiction

I was just browsing Ravelry (yes, again) and I came across a link for a Knitting Addiction Quiz. Here's my results:

"You scored 74%. You have the optimum level of addiction; beginning knitters strive to be you! You'd knit almost anywhere and anytime, but there are times and places where even you know knitting is not permitted. Like, maybe, a wedding or a funeral. Tell your family they don't have anything to complain about."


Thursday, 2 April 2009

More sock madness

Whilst I was ill I got a bit of a sock fetish going. My Vegetable garden socks only left me wanting more after I had finished them so I cast on for anther pair straight away. For my second set I decided that it was time to start tackling some of my stashed socks yarns and there was one skein in particular that I felt guilty about having ignored. It took me a while to find it but eventually I unearthed the ball of Opal sock yarn that I had bought 2 years ago. It's in a rainbow colourway and when knitted up comes out in fairly broad stripes of blue, pink, yellow, x2 oranges and green. I'd played around with the skein a couple of times trying to find a good pattern to use with it but there's not many patterns created deliberately for socks that have this kind of striping in them. In fact, as far as I can tell, most sock patterns seem to be created for a plain yarn- or one with short colour repeats. I'm not sure why this should be as there is plenty of crazily coloured sock yarn out there. I guess people are just happy to have the colour changes do all the work but I get so bored knitting plain socks nowadays.
So I took it upon myself to do two things. The first was to make a pledge to try out and collect as many sock patterns as possible that would work with crazy sock yarn. So from now on I shall just use a pattern that I like with whatever yarn I like and see how it comes out. Now this may well result in some pretty fugly FO's but I like wearing crazy socks so it won't be a bother to me. I can just giggle about it to myself when no one else is looking.
The second thing I decided was to try designing some socks of my own. Well, when I say design I don't really mean in any kind of professional way. More a sort of 'throw it together' approach. To start me off on this I put my rainbow Opal to work and decided to combine socks with my new all time favourite stitch- Mock Cables.
And lo, the Mock Cable Monsters were born...

Might have gotten a bit carried away with using the Mock Cable stitch...
but I do love how the striped come out with this yarn especially around the heel. There's no faffing around or cutting of yarn to get the stripes arranged into a pleasing manner although it does help that the mock cable is only a four row repeat as it gave me a bit of freedom about when I should insert the heel.
Speaking of which, the heel has got to be one of my favourite parts of these socks. I always use a short row heel and toe when making socks, regardless of the pattern but normally just settle for it being plain with some twisted stitches to make it stronger. In this instance I carried on with the ribbing as well and the combination of that with the twisted stitches worked much better than I could have hoped.I still have the other sock of the pair to make. I'm going to jog the colours on a bit so that the stripes are out of sync with this first one. I figured that it would be almost impossible to get the second one to be the same as the first and that if you are going to make ugly socks then what the hell, why not make them properly ugly? Not point in holding back at this stage.