Monday, December 31

End of year FOs

After a trip to the Kentish Weald to see Cosmo and his folks, I came away inspired by hats. Cosmo's mum was sporting a rather fine Urchin hat, which I decided to try making, with some of the yarn left over from my sister's christmas teacosy (Rowan chunky print, been in the stash about 14 months, discontinued).

Here's the teacosy (it ended up with a sprouting of i-cord on the top rather than a pom pom, and was very well received by its new owner!)

The leftover ball of yarn became the Urchin hat. Next one I make, I may adapt it to be slightly longer and a little bit looser fitting. The fact that I didn't have any 7mm needles didn't help, hence it was knitted on 6.5mm. And while I'm talking about Rowan yarn, I'll have a moan. In all my knitting experience, Rowan yarns are the ONLY yarns I have found knots in. Not just once, but more times than is acceptable. I had a particularly bad run a couple of years ago with a load of scottish tweed chunky. I got so annoyed after I found several knots in several balls that I complained to Rowan. What did they do? They sent me an apologetic letter and a free copy of their magazine, which was full of OTT catwalk designs that were of no use to me.

I was reminded of this episode last night, when I found TWO knots in a single ball of the Chunky Print. Am I the only one who's had this experience, or is it a common problem?

Mum if you are reading this, look away now!

Everyone else scroll down....

Despite the fact that they are Mum's christmas socks, she still hasn't seen them yet! Circumstances have meant that my folks still haven't got their christmas pressies, but I'm planning to remedy this situation very soon by tripping up home to see them.

The socks have been a long time coming, but are finally complete! Here they are hanging out on the balcony, drying out ready for wrapping and labelling!
They are my own toe-up pattern, I've included a rather nice Broken Rib Diagonal stitch along the front panel of the foot, and all around the leg. I picked the pattern out of the Harmony Guide 450 Knitting Stitches Volume 2. The yarn is Ophelia sock yarn from HipKnits - I like the variegated colour and the almost shiny texture of the yarn, which is 100% merino superwash, I believe.

I've also been busy with socks for myself - here's the first of a pair of basic toe-up socks knitted with the Halloweeny yarn I bought in the Yarn Yard a couple of months ago. Omigod the colours are gorgeous, and I am loving the way the colour comes out in huge diagonal washes across the foot. I also love the fact that my short row heel and magic cast-on toes end up with little thin stripes, it makes them stand out more.

They fit perfectly. I can't wait to get the second one done, and get them on! I've been modelling the first one with my Mary Jane shoes and jeans. It looks fab!

Just to finish off the new year, a Peculiar Fact about me. Am I the only person in the world who makes the effort to wind her yarn into centre-pull balls, then uses the yarn from the outside in?!

Friday, December 28

Christmas/New Year hiatus

Well thank goodness THAT's over with for another year!

If you must know, I had a fantastic birthday, and helped the Curse celebrate his birthday the day after, then it was downhill all the way to Christmas and beyond.

Looking on the positive side:

1. There are FOs! I finished mum's christmas socks, I also finished the first of a new pair for me, which are going to be the New Favourite Socks (at the moment it is New Favourite Sock). They are gorgeous, there will be pictures in the next day or two as soon as my free time and daylight coincide!

2. There are new possessions! A book about spinning, a niddy noddy (which the Curse bought for my birthday by craftily following the internet link I gave him and filling in his bank card details....he's so clever sometimes!), two skeins of the softest Mirasol 100% baby llama yarn, a gorgeous turquoise colour that I think is just begging to become a hat, and the Vogue Ultimate Sock Book (or Joy of Socks as I keep calling it!).

3. No-one was poisoned by my cooking, we didn't spend the night at Heathrow, nor did we get burgled. There is much to be thankful for when I look at it that way!

Roll on January...!

Saturday, December 22

Deadline met!

Quick beanie hat for a friend who has his 40th birthday on 3 January. And I thought it was bad having a christmas birthday! Imagine trying to whip up enthusiasm among your friends for a new year birthday!

Anyway the beanie is a very simple design: cast on approx 100 stitches (it's DK yarn on 3mm DPNs) rib two for about 10 rows, then change up a couple of needle sizes and stocking stitch until the hat is about 150mm long (you can add rows of colour if you wish).

Decrease starts with K7, K2tog repeated along round, followed by a K round. Then go down to K6, K2tog followed by a K round. Keep decreasing like this until you have six or eight stitches left in total. Cut thread and draw end through remaining stitches.

Nice huh?

Tuesday, December 18

First attempt

I am so chuffed! Look at this! My first attempt at spinning, all on my own without any help!

I took a trip up to the Handweavers' Studio in Walthamstow last week, and picked up some little sample bags of different types of wool; the white shown here is unnamed cheap mix (I think it was just labelled 'carded white wool' or something).

But I was also yearning colour, and luckily stumbled over Julieta's stall on Greenwich Market, which I had totally forgotten about. I don't go down there very often and only popped in to go to the healthfood shop... but luckily for me, I wandered round the stalls a bit and found her. And she sells little balls of merino roving in lovely colours - more appropriate for felting I think, but suitable for my initial attempts and enough to sate my appetite!

That's what the pink is. It was much more difficult to spin, but I found it easier if I made the effort to pull it all apart and fluff it out before starting.

What I was most pleased about was my success at plying - although I'd only seen it demonstrated the once, I found it very simple to do and it worked out brilliantly!

And now the big question; what to make with my little sample? Egg cosy anyone?!

Wednesday, December 12

It's curtains for you!

Did I mention how much I like my new curtains? The main curtains are thick, dark aubergine colour, and block out most of the light. And the thin layer (I hesitate to call them nets, it has such unpleasant connotations) makes a lovely pattern on the wall when the light comes through!

Monday, December 10

She's here to stay

I've resisted the temptation to give her a name, I'm just going to be content to refer to her as a being, not an inanimate object.

We only met last week, via Ebay - I was a bit cautious given what I'd read about buying second hand wheels and at first was not sure whether to commit myself fully. But given bidding was very low, and this was a chance to get a top of the range wheel for the same budget I'd set for my entry-level wheel, I gave in to temptation.

In fact it worked out very well - as the reserve was not met (I had stopped bidding at the limit of my budget) myself and her seller came to a private arrangement which meant I would be able to see, and try the wheel before handing over the cash.
This satisfied my naturally-cautious side, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Right now she's tucked down in the corner of the lounge, waiting for me to get out and buy some fibre so I can get on with it! I've spun up the last bits I brought home from the knitting & spinning weekend, and I'm starting to get the hang of the treadling, so hopefully it won't be too long before we are intimate acquaintances!

She's very compact, a modern style that I wasn't sure I liked at first, but I'm totally sold on now - I love the fact that every part of the wheel is so thoroughly detailed and carefully finished. I'm sure we will become firm friends.

The next Clapotis?

I've just seen the new Knitty.

My prediction is that this will be the next Clapotis. Even I might try it, although I'm actually scared of lace...

Sunday, December 9

Deck the halls!

Last week I received a very touching gift from the Queen of Crochet (who soon may have to be renamed to Queen of Fibrecrafts!). These glorious knitted christmas tree decorations are a real triumph - she managed to deal very well with the colourwork at her first attempt and produced these gorgeous little items for me.

To be totally honest we hadn't really thought about getting a christmas tree this year (especially after I saw the cheapest ones down at Sainsbury's were £22.99!) but we might have to relent now we've got such unique decorations for it!

I am always torn between the feeling that christmas isn't really christmas without the smell of a pine tree and a host of fairy lights in the corner of the lounge, and the sadness of throwing out the tree after a few weeks, its faded glory reminding me what a waste it seems.

I suspect we will be treeless again this year - the Curse is very good at moaning about wanting a tree, but not in the least bit proactive in going out and getting one so it usually falls to me to decide - but we will certainly have to have some kind of decorations so that the knitted baubles can take pride of place!

PS There will be more about The Wheel once I have calmed down a bit!

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Wednesday, December 5

United front

This time last year, I was inspired by a posting from the Yarn Harlot to give my christmas donation to the charity Medecins sans Frontieres. At the time, her appeal had raised some US$120,000 and she wanted to double it.

Her total is based on a trust system - she just asks givers to email her with the amount they have donated and she will add it to her total. Naturally she knows we knitters are a trustworthy bunch, and even if there were a few people in there who thought it was ok to lie about giving money to charity, her total would still not be too far off.

I knew at the time that she was bogged down with hundreds of emails - for goodness sake it must take all her time just to read the comments on her blog, she regularly gets a couple of hundred a day! So I wasn't surprised not to get a reply or email from her, I realised that would have been asking a lot.

However by last week, I had almost completely forgotten about my donation, so it was a lovely surprise to get an email from her out of the blue! Imagine, an email from The Harlot! In my very own inbox! Stephanie Pearl-McPhee wrote to ME!

Granted it was only a short note of thanks, but still... and so I was prompted to check back and see how the appeal was going. Take a look guys, and be amazed! Nearly half a million dollars has been raised by knitters worldwide! And as the Harlot says, that's a lot of yarn funds!

If you were ever in doubt as to the power of the knitting community worldwide, I think this is a valuable lesson in Yarn Power!

And if you are inspired enough to want to join the appeal, you can donate online, then grab your 'Tricoteuses sans Frontieres' button, slap it on your blog, and let the Harlot know!

Tuesday, December 4

Totally smitten!

They are finished, they are lovely! And they garner many admiring glances wherever they go! Thank you Elliphantom!