Monday, July 28

Free stuff!

C'mon guys, no-one has signed up for my 'pay it forward' offer!

Don't you want me to make something for you for free?! Didn't you read to the end of the post? Or did my post just drop down the page too quickly? Or perhaps no-one is reading any more (but I know that's not true, I've got a counter you see! I know all about you lot out there!)

Last chance for free stuff. I don't want the paying forward to stop with me, it will be too much to bear....

Sunday, July 20

Every day's a schoolday

It has been a busy weekend so far, and it's not over yet! I have been shopping, dyeing, sewing, cooking and working, with a little bit of DIY thrown in.

First the shopping:

A nice pair of linen trousers from a stall in Deptford market for £7 - only problem? The colour! White is not a good look on me, but luckily I knew what to do. The high street is also home to Peter & Joan's, my first stop for haberdashery and hardware. I bought a Dylon washing machine dye, in olive green, and hey presto! This is a very poor picture of them as in reality they are a much darker colour.

What did I learn? Cotton thread does not take dye. If you are going to take up your new trousers, best to stitch them in a colour matching the dye, not white!

These items came from one of the charity shops near by - some lovely coloured needles to add to my burgeoning collection (you can never have too many, especially when they look this good, is my opinion).

This nifty little gadget is something new to me - never seen one before but it's quite cute, even though I will probably never use it, I'll stick to my tried and trusted method of scrawling on the pattern or counting back afterwards. You can use it mark how many rows you've done, how many increases or decreases, and I do like the fact that it has got a 4" scale on one side, to remind you of the importance of gauge no doubt, and a needle gauge on the other!

The next thing I did was make a cosy for my Sunflower Swift, something I've been meaning to do for about a year!

This is where it has lived up until now:

This is where it will live from now on:

I have to admit to being rather proud of this creation - I knew from the start what I wanted to make, and the finished object is really pretty close to my original idea! It's also quite neat and well-finished, which pleases me too!

The outside is some rather nice Alexander Henry tattoo print fabric, and it's lined with some of the offcuts of our Ikea curtains. I also bought some padding which I stitched to the lining to form some padding for protection of the swift - quilted in a kind of lopsided, impatient way. I wanted to use the leftovers of the fleece I've been spinning, but most of it is dark brown and I didn't think it would look good under the lining, which is see-through in parts.

The pegs have their own little bag which I saved from a gift someone gave me, it's a lovely dark maroon chiffony fabric which goes very well with the ensemble.

What did I learn? I found out a lot more about my sewing machine including what some of the knobs are for, and I realised that I need to have more patience and do better preparation for my sewing projects. It DOES make sense to make a pattern, even if you are itching to get on with the sewing!

Finally cooking. With the help of a book, I learned how to dress a crab (or should that be 'undress'? I've always found the phrase very confusing!). And I decided that I would probably never bother again - it's far too time consuming!

Thursday, July 17

Latest socks

Made with leftovers sent by Laura in the Sockapalooza exchange last year.

Sunday, July 13

Totally crafty weekend

Merino/tencel mix from the Yarn Yard, finally finished spinning and plying this. LOVELY colours! It was quite difficult to spin as it's quite slippery and needed a lot of twist, but once I got the hang of it I managed ok. I spun it really fine, this is probably somewhere between sock and lace weight, I might use it to make my first attempt at lace! Don't hold your breath though!

The somewhat cowl, which has been stalled for quite a while, is finally on the home stretch! It was stalled because I was bored with the stocking stitch, then it stalled again because I was hating doing the three inches of 2x2 ribbing around the bottom, but I persevered and finally got to the bottom of the main body.

Now I've reached the 2x2 ribbing of the first sleeve - also quite yawnful but each round is much shorter than the body, so hopefully I won't get stalled on this.

I've also discovered that this yarn, Blue Sky Alpaca's 100% alpaca, is not very forgiving of mistakes or shoddy finishing. I already had to unpick one of my finished ends because it looked dreadful from the right side. I'm not very conscientious at making sure my ends are in suitable places - especially on the body where it's such a faff to rip back when you discover you're at the end of the yarn and it's right in the middle of the front. This has taught me that it's worth making the effort!

Friday, July 11

Lost without it

It's now almost a week since I took my bike in to be mended. It got a broken spoke last week, the inevitable consequences of riding a touring bike on London's pot-holed byways, and has gone in for essential repairs and wheel-truing.

I didn't realise how much I used it until this week - I'd got to the stage of riding to work at least twice a week, usually three times, reducing my exposure to the overcrowded and unreliable train services to just once or twice a week. Of course this week had to be the time that the trains would go totally tits-up, the very week I had to take them every day!

It's probably cos we've been having 'a bit' of rain. Every Londoner knows that our extensive rail system cannot cope with more than a bit of drizzle. But this week has seen frequent cancellations and overcrowding worse than it has been for ages, and has made me yearn for the freedom of the bicycle. Even in the rain!

What's more I haven't been able to get to the swimming baths, as the bike is the only quick and reliable method of getting there and still being able to get to work on time.

Come back darling, I miss you!!

Sunday, July 6

Tour de Fleece/latest projects

Today and yesterday I have been mostly spinning. Aided by four hours' attendance at the Alternative Village Fete outside the National Theatre on the South Bank. I spun Wensleydale, then when I ran out of Wensleydale, (apart from the extremely mucky bits that needed washing) I went on to Bowmont. The Wensleydale is shown below.

The whole time we were entertained by morris dancing, the Bollywood Brass Band and several other acts, and we knitted, spun and made bits for the Great British Sheep.

This is one of the current socks that are on the go, shown here in Noro sock yarn. I don't really like knitting with this, it is rough on the hands and has a tendency to twist. Hopefully it will improve on washing.

This is the Ribbed Lace Bolero knitted in the Jaeger Extra Fine Merino Aran that has been hanging around for a couple of years now. It looks quite good I think, although the pic isn't great because the Curse is not here to help me with the photography at the moment. See that look of concentration on my face as I try to point the camera in the right direction!

And this is the harvest from the blueberry bush on the balcony. Not as impressive as last year's tomatoes, it's true, but still gratifying and delicious!

Saturday, July 5

AWOL/Pay it forward

I know, I know - I have been absent for too long. For that, my apologies. It was a combination of work, pleasure, travel and exhaustion.

There has been knitting - quite a lot of it in fact - and there has even been spinning. But for pictures of both, you'll have to wait until tomorrow I'm afraid.

Last weekend saw me in the seaside town of Folkestone, for the second time this year. The town, which has been down at heel for quite some time, is undergoing a bit of a renaissance, with money being injected to redevelop some of the shops on the Old High St and encourage creative companies and artists to move in, setting up a new Creative Quarter.

Right now the town is hosting the Folkestone Triennial, which involves the work of 22 artists who have been specially commissioned to create works for and about the town.

As you might expect with any collection of artworks, I loved some of them, disliked others, and was indifferent to the rest. But those which I enjoyed were really quite moving and stimulating. It was great to see a selection of works which were site specific - rather than having to try and relate to items in an art gallery. Most of them could not have existed without Folkestone, its history, faded glory and magnificent sea views.

A few of my favourites are here, here, here and here. The picture above is from inside this little beauty.

My friend and I stayed for two nights and had a brilliant time - flying kites, riding bikes, walking the length and breadth of the town, enjoying random events and planning which empty property would be best for the yarn shop/photography gallery/cafe we were going to set up together.

Sadly there were no scallops, but we did enjoy some fresh sardines and some honey ice cream, although not on the same plate.

I spent most of last week in Porto for work; I know, it's a tough job but someone has to do it! The weather was mixed, but the port (especially the white variety) was superb.

I've been contacted by Kristy aka Pixlkitten, who has promised to pay forward a handmade gift to me!

The catch is, I have to commit to the same promise, so here's your chance! Next Saturday I will pick at random three of the commenters from this post (or as many as there are if there are fewer than three!!) and will send them a handmade gift of some description within the next 365 days! So if you want to participate, leave a comment, including your email address, and I will contact you if you are drawn. Naturally, you have to commit to the same promise via your blog.

Here is my pledge:
"I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog."

What I like about this is the fact that Kristy received a pair of socks from me last year in the Sockapalooza exchange. So to some extent she is paying it back to me...!