Scandi Cuffs

So I finished my little cuffs (yesterday in fact) and thankfully I do indeed have a matching pair.  Phew! Given I have to give these away tomorrow I’m delighted I have a two that look like they belong together.

twos a crowd

close up of stitches

and i know you all wanna see inside…

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I was working on a baby blanket (or rather needed to start a baby blanket).  The advantage with working a stash busting blanket (in the rather fun block stitch) is that the colours change every row and it’s a wonderful rainbow.  The downside is *ends*!  Oh my word, the ends! Finally for today I just had to mention the clocks changed, the weather warmed and 4 days later my jasmine is in full flower and as I cycle home in the evenings I can smell my own little garden from about 150yards away.  How wonderful!

projects update…

ICE has finally thawed and finished and while I initially wasn’t convinced (I’ll be honest!) I have found myself wearing it a lot the last few days.  It’s a lovely wearable shape, and the colour I’ve chosen goes with a lot of things!

I think the pattern as written has the sleeve a little short – but that could me having a *much* tighter gauge than the designer (though my swatch came out right).

Of course it was also a good opportunity to practice my continental style knitting.  I like the knit stitch and will use that again, but I’m really not a fan of Norwegian purl.  It might make more sense if doing rib stitches, but for doing stockingette it makes no sense at all!

I also picked up and finished two (yes TWO!) little crochet projects.  After procrastinating for a long time (as regular readers will know I have ideas and then they have to ‘simmer’ for a while) I finally opened my copy of Mary Korinor’s Crochet Lace and did two projects.

One is a baby blanket for a work colleague and the other is a stash busting shawl using up 5 balls of kid silk haze “acquired” at a swap meet.

baby blanket and haze shawl

baby blanket and haze shawl

Mary has a very interesting approach to her work – including the all important “how much to leave for the border” calculations.  Of course Mary was English, and I have made several “design features” out of the fact that I frequently forgot this and mixed up which stitch I was supposed to be doing.  I find Mary fascinating in that often she will describe in words the stitches for the centre and inner borders and then give just a chart for the outer/edging border.  I found this approach very interesting as charts for the middle section would be very useful, and if you can’t read charts then you can’t finish the project.

I’m really pleased with how both projects have turned out, and am tempted to just go ahead and do the other shawls in the book out of curiosity – in particular the two ‘granny square’ based shawls as mine are both over 20 years old and starting to look a little tired.

I really enjoyed the kid silk project, and am now playing with some stitch variations to work out how to make a capelet shape that hugs the shoulders with a beaded edge.  I might even be able to make it a one skein (or two at most) project.  I need to dig through my stash and find my fyberspates faerywings as I think it would be particularly gorgeous in that.

I’m about to come  to the end of my current contract and have a few weeks while I job hunt.  During that time I plan to write up some of my patterns and publish them –  so watch this space!


Zooming Along

Two posts within a week?!  What is going on?

Well I promised you an updated on the Zoom Loom I told you I had purchased with my Birthday money (because, as I’ve already said I am fundamentally 6 years old).  I’ve had chance to have a play and I can honestly say it is fun.

woven blanket

woven blanket

I’ve ended up with a ‘summer weight’ baby blanket – which is perfect as an acquaintance is about to have her first child.

Each square is 4″ (unsurprising really given it’s a 4″ loom) and takes about 9 yards of yarn (depending exactly on what fibre you are using – I was using a bit less for the acrylic above, and a bit more for the 100% cotton I tried) and after a bit of practice it does indeed take about 15 minutes to create a square.  The blanket is 30 squares (5 x 6) and a border ending up 24″ by 28″.

A  single squareThe drape and handle of each square is lovely, particularly on the cotton yarn I did a couple of test squares with and I’m really quite looking forward to trying it with two different yarns – or a variegated yarn – to see what colour “stuff” happens.  I may have some lust for the shawl sized triangle looms I’ve seen around on Google.  Lust that will never be requited, but still one can dream

The only thing I’m not overwhelmed by is the process of joining the squares together.  Using the suggested “whip stitch” method looks a bit untidy to my eye (particularly at the junctions and corners) and a single crochet ridge won’t work either.  There are suggestions in various places of crochet inserts and other sewing methods so I think I need to try some of those.

However I do think there will be more of these little squares in my future…


Finally finishing projects!

I’ve had a great week catching up on several bits – and a bad week in that it’s been a stress filled and eventful week.

I finally got around to photographing all my outstanding stash (from last October!) so I’ve added a huge heap of yardage to my Ravelry stash pages and made a complete mockery of my ‘2013 Yarn Diet’.  Must. Not. Buy. More. Yarn.  Well, at least not for myself!

I also finished a couple of projects! Yeah, go me!

I finished a cushion ‘front’ that I had been doing in that popular ruffle yarn, you know the stuff.  I loved the colour but didn’t want a scarf, and it so happened that the colourway worked well with my existing living room decor.  It’s only taken about a year to get around to finish this..

Ruffle CushionI also finished the baby blanket, and I’m really pleased with how it came out.  The Nikkim Cotton was perfect and it’s gone beautifully soft during blocking.  I just know it will wear well in use – perfect for busy parents.

cotton baby blanketI also made headway on starting the samples for the Beginners Tunisian Workshop I’ll be teaching in June, and made a great ‘sampler spa cloth’ in Paton’s 100% cotton.

spa cloth

The cotton I can’t recommend highly enough if you’re looking for a tight twist cotton – it comes in 4ply and DK, in range of fabulous colours.  It gives great stitch definition (as you can see), has a gorgeous eggshell-like soft sheen and I loved it so much I’ve picked up a range of colours to use in the class for the lucky students to take away with them..

multicolour cotton

Today I’m finally getting around to blocking the samples for the Crochet 102 (Shaping) class, and I have plans for some KnitPicks multi-colour I acquired…

Welcome to 2013

Happy New Year dear reader and friend. I hope that the next 12 months bring you joy and happiness and as little of the salt of life as we can get away with to allow us to fully enjoy and appreciate the good times.

Frankly, I’m hoping for a much better year than 2012.  Seeing as the Incas didn’t predict the end of the world, just a new beginning, i’m really hoping that 2013 signifies that new start, and I have lots and lots planned for the next 12 months.

First up, I’ve been promising pictures of this since I can remember, so here’s the lovely Cloudy Skies Cowl

Cloudy Skies Cowl

I really enjoyed this project, the rustic texture (I got used to working with 4ply or lighter so it was a pleasure to work in a thick worsted), the cable, the kitchner graft.  I love it.  I’m really pleased I was able to do this handspun justice, and it’s given me a lot of confidence to tackle some more stuff in 2013.

I’m going to be good and list out all the projects I am currently doing, and those I want to get to (health allowing) in 2013…  Deep breath and here goes…

Currently in progress…

  • Jan Sweater – this has been ongoing now since August 2011.  Which isn’t good.  Last week I finally acknowledged that the INCH difference in the hem between front and back would not ‘block out’, so despite having passed the arm shaping I took the needles out, ripped back to the 1×1 ribbing and forced myself to knit that extra inch.  Of course, that means I’ve put myself back by a goodly way, but I’ll be happier with the finished sweater, which I am determined to finish this year! (knitting)
  • Bee’s Honeymeade Shawl – I love this yarn, I love this pattern, and it’s been ongoing since October 2011.  Another one I’m determined to finish (tunisian & crochet)
  • Sunset Chameleon Blanket – given the child is due to join the population in February I really need to crack on with this don’t I?! (crochet)
  • Herbie Shawl – another one started back in 2011.  I’m really enjoying this shawl, and am about 50% done.  I find the ‘non-pattern/recipe’ formula very liberating, and much of the stalling on this is deciding what stitch pattern to use next. (knitting)

Projects I want to do / start

  • Queen of the Night Shawl – (*I think you might need to have a Ravelry account to follow that link*) I have the yarn, I have the beads, I have the pattern, but I want to know I’m pretty consistent on the hands before I start this one. (knitting)
  • The Giovannina Stole is another that I have the yarn and pattern for (since 2011) and I even bought my signature needles specifically to do this pattern. (knitting)
  • The Tranquil Hairpin Lace Tunic is pretty high on the list as well
  • Finish the samples for my Crochet 102 course – I’m about 70% done with this, so the end is in sight (making large swatches was never my thing to start with, and doing them repeatedly is dull, but thankfully it is a one time job!)
  • Make samples for other courses in the pipeline, a Crochet 103 (oh yes, boys and girls), a basic Tunisian 101 course, and a Tunisian 102, a Hairpin Lace 101 and a Broomstick Lace 101.  Of  course I need to write the material as well, and all courses will be subject to demand and uptake, but the plan is there…

Of course I have more projects than just those that I have the yarn for, ready to go, (12 to be exact) and I have several projects that I have yarn for and ideas but no set pattern (5 or 6 I think), or I have to write the pattern myself, but I  think only adding 3 official projects to my existing list is probably sensible until we can get my hands reliably fixed.

I also have my 2011 Christmas present from my brother to tackle.

Aurora Cabin Cross Stitch

Gold Collection Aurora Cabin Cross Stitch

Having never done cross stitch before, and this being 16×12 inches, I have my work cut out, but I have a frame and I’m determined to get some of  this done, this year.

So, in short I shall be challenging myself to finish at least 1 sweater, 1 blanket and 2 shawls this year.  Along with improving my tunisian, hairpin, broomstick and teaching skills.  If those go well I want to try my hand at some fairly complex cabling in knitting and in crochet – and oh, yes, I’ve got a knook to play with as well!

What do you want to achieve this year?

Life gets in the Way

OK, I’ve been good and written two LONG blog posts.  In fact the one I’m going to post now I wrote 2 weeks ago and haven’t posted it because I wanted to include photos.  But I’m giving up, I haven’t had chance and I’m at the point I want to get the post up so that I can do the follow up info – which I also have written up.  So apologies for a long post without photos – I will get to them, I promise….

I can’t believe I haven’t updated since the 4th November!  I keep promising myself that I’ll get the camera out and photograph the bits I want to share with you, and then life gets in the way.  I have so much to update with you, this post is going to seem a bit random – so apologies in advance!

First up a ‘hands’ update – the consultant has announced (as of the 15th of this month) that it’s probably ‘mild tenosynovitis’, I’m not in *that* much pain (says who?!) and rheumatology only deal with arthritis (utter nonsense) so there is nothing more they can do for me. I asked for referral to physiotherapy, but ‘there is no clinical proof it works’.  I asked for referral to a nutritionist – ‘no clinical proof’.  I even asked about steroid injections – guess what?, yeap. ‘no clinical proof’.  The recommendation is for me to have total rest, don’t use my wrists/hands at all but they weren’t prepared to sign me off work.  The consultant also recommended I take naproxen (along with a stomach lining medication as naproxen is nasty stuff for your liver) for at least 12 months.  It works on a “cellular level” don’t you know – though it won’t help with the pain at all.  He couldn’t write me a prescription, just a note for my doctor to write one.  The upshot is = Go back to my GP, so I’m back to square one.  I was shaking with suppressed anger by the time I left the consultant meeting.

However the chiropractor does seem to be having an effect and my wrists have been slowly improving over the last couple of weeks, so fingers crossed for me.  I’ve had a couple of ‘good’ (almost normal) days which have made me realise just how much this has been affecting me, but the ‘bad’ days are nowhere near as bad as they were – so hopefully we are finally in to the ‘healing’ phase.

We are firmly on the slippery slope to the annual round of liver testing known as Christmas.  A season which challenges my ability to process vast amounts of alcohol and rich foods, and makes me gain weight just as I want to look my slimmest in all my party frocks.  As a result I’m ‘out’ more than usual and therefore doing a bit less crafting than usual.  I wouldn’t change this for the world, it’s great to catch up with people I haven’t seen in months and I do love the whole sparkly event in all its kitsch-ness.  You’ll see more of *that* in my next post!

Coupled with the less crafting I was already doing because of my hands, me being out three or four evenings a week means my crafting time has been almost non-existent – not a good state when you are trying to finish a baby blanket!  I’m a lot further along than I was though, and with a tail wind I am on target to get it done by my own self-imposed deadline of the 20th December.  If I don’t it’s no big deal – the baby isn’t due till February.

I have moved along on a few projects though.  I finished my ‘stormy clouds cowl’ and am delighted with it!  I’d been terrified of this yarn.  Partially because it was gifted and I’m always a bit scared that I won’t do gifted yarn justice somehow, and partially because this particular yarn was hand-spun.  I enjoyed making this, 4 short little rows each evening and I’ve been wearing it for 2 weeks.  It’s just long enough to go over my head and holds its shape well enough to stand guard against chills and drafts over my collar.  It’s beautifully soft, and because I know the yarn was hand-spun by a dear friend I feel like I have a secret hug around my neck, which adds its own little warmth.  I had just enough of the grey yarn to add a crochet border on one edge (once the cream had run out) so I even feel like I have two looks for the price of one – depending on which way up I wear it!  I keep meaning to wash and give it a light blocking, but I haven’t got that far.

I’m now working on finishing a thrummed muff – which is about to celebrate its first birthday.  By ‘finishing’ of course I mean “I must get it out of storage and pick it up again”.  I promised it to my niece last Christmas after she saw me working on it, but then my hands interfered and I haven’t picked it up since March.  It’s an easy project, and done purely to learn the technique.  It’s made in best acrylic and very cheap (quite possibly acrylic) multi-coloured fibre.  This means it’s perfect for niece as I’m not that attached to it, if her mother throws it in the wash it’s not the end of the world, and it’s a fun little project – I still have my muff from when I was even younger!  However I’m not sure I am up-to doing a meter of icord to make the neck strap – any ideas?

I’ve been doing a little more of my continental cowl as well, and am almost at the ‘competent’ level.  I love collecting techniques and skills, and I have found that I now know three different methods of knitting that adjust my tension very slightly from my ‘default’ throwing or ‘British’ style of knitting.  Portuguese style (where you ‘wear’ the yarn around your neck) gives me a slightly tighter, but very even tension, and Continental style gives me a slightly looser, and not so even, tension.

“Why is this useful?” you might be asking yourself. Well, it’s all to do with gauge.  When I finally get around to making something where the fit actually matters I’ll do a gauge swatch.  If I am fractionally out on my stitch counts I can change techniques rather than needle size to see if that helps!  See.  Cool.

I’m also holding my Portuguese, Continental and Backwards knitting in reserve for the day that somebody tells me I’m “doing it wrong”.  Apparently this happens a lot to knitters – but it hasn’t happened to me yet.

With my current lack of desire to take on a bigger project, I’ve been absent-mindedly playing with some Tunisian crochet ideas for a possible workshop in 2013, and I’ve been plugging away at the swatches for a Crochet 102 class planned for early 2013.  Yeap, you heard it here first – I’m confident enough about my hands/wrists to have actually started planning the long promised intermediate level classes.  And you read that right too – classes plural!  The fun I am having with this is a separate long post in itself!

Written down it seems like I’ve been doing LOADS of crafting – but in what amounts to nearly a month I have four 6” swatches, finished a small cowl, about 1/8 of a different cowl, half a Tunisian dish cloth and just over half a baby blanket.  I’m aware that if I had started those projects this time last year, they would all be finished by now – along with working on a more major project such as finishing a sweater or getting at least one of the lace knitted shawls I have queued mostly done.  Frankly I’m just grateful I can do anything at all at the moment, and I’m enjoying the bits I can do.

It always happens in threes…

Well, ok, that’s not strictly true – in the last 8 days I’ve had 5 people tell me their are expecting a least one baby in the February – March period.  I am expecting another 1 to come out of the woodwork in the next few days so I have six (2 sets of 3).

Those of you who know me know that I am possibly the least maternal person in the world.  I’m a fabulous Auntie, and I love kids, on the condition I get to give them back again.  I have no desire to have my own, though I am of the rare breed that is perfectly happy to sit and let an expectant mother talk about the impending massive change in her life all she likes.

Of the five soon to be new mother there are only two who I would actually make anything for, and of those two I will see one of them on the 20th December and then won’t see again until June next year.  So I decided to make a baby blanket for them, but my hands aren’t upto my own pattern, and I wanted to try something a bit new.

I picked up some lovely 100% cotton by Vinni’s Colours in an autumnal mix, but when I started the blanket the short colour runs weren’t happy with the stitch pattern I was using. I put it time out, and a quick ravelry search let me find a much better match – but it needed more yarn!  I placed my order for a blending but contrasting colour and started again on a Chameleon colour change blanket and am much happier with the result.  Photos to follow!