Monday, 31 January 2011

Done and dusted

I know I promised a post on The Blasted Cardigan of Doom with modelled photographs and then didn’t actually post one. This was mostly as I had photos taken and came up against a problem. I got Mr NM to take the pictures, I believe the saying is “don’t quit your day job” photographer he is not.

They aren’t bad photos as such but they weren’t really what I was looking for and I’m not sure they really show off the cardigan all that well. Still I shall share as I’m unlikely to get a better photographer any time soon and I don’t have a tripod so setting up some sort of self-portrait scenario is not going to happen.

Some close ups

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As the actual photo he took of me modelling it was poorly lit AND out of focus (bonus points) so the best I have to share is an action shot of me wearing it to the party celebrating his Grandma’s birthday and his grandparents’ 50th Wedding anniversary and looking like the world’s biggest dork…just for a change.

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It is getting quite a bit of wear so I’m happy and I definitely feel I’ve caught the sweater bug as I’m knitting another cardigan and have a little queue of them lining up. If only there were more hours in the day to knit everything I want to…not to mention the yarn budget to match!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Old friends and new

A quick work in progress Wednesday post from me, an on-going project and a new one.

The purple “Twisted Mockery” socks continue, I knit the heel flaps at the weekend and they continue to be lovely and the yarn continues to be a joy to knit with and I continue to think if I can get through some more of my stash I’ll join Ripplescrafts sock yarn club again. Project page here

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As you can see I decided to go for a slip stitch heel for the sturdiness and the cushioning. I love the way the ribbing goes to a point at the back, this is a great pattern and I really recommend it.

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My second project is a new one. It has been in my queue pretty much since I started knitting and joined Ravelry in 2008 along with the queues and project pages of pretty much every other knitter on there! It’s a February Lady Sweater, I felt a seamless cardigan was necessary after the Blasted Cardigan of Doom and am using the Felted Tweed Aran I got in the sales. The yarn looks grey here (as well as out of focus, oh dear!) but I assure you it’s a lovely shade of sage green. Roll on spring, more daylight hours and hopefully fewer grey days where what light there is just isn’t enough. Project page here

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I hope your WIPs are progressing smoothly and that the week is treating you kindly.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Level up!

Evening all. I hope the past week was good to you and the new one will be also.

Whilst my plans for 2011 had been to update my blog twice a week I rather failed this week, mostly because my prime photographing opportunity in the winter months is at the weekend and last weekend we were doing family things with the in-laws, very little knitting was done never mind photography.

This weekend has been better. For a start being at home has meant a lot of incredibly dull but incredibly necessary jobs have been done. All of our clean clothes are ironed, I went shopping so we have food for the week ahead, I made soup and lasagne from scratch (well I used pre-made pasta so almost from scratch!) with extra of both for the freezer ready for busier times, I had a trim at the hairdressers, I cut Mr NM's hair and I put several loads into the washing machine. In our house this gets me "achievement points" and means I can tell Mr NM I've done lots of things and so I shall sit and knit as much as I please. I'm allowed to sit and knit as much as I please anyway but it's more satisfying when I know all of the housework is done already.

As well as housework "achievement points" I got some knitting "achievement points" and worked on my goal of learning new knitterly techniques. I levelled up on my sock knitting skills with a new project (losing points for finishing projects before starting new ones, oops) in which I am knitting a pair of sock using magic loop, both socks on one needle. No second sock syndrome, no counting rows to make sure they match. Nope, they will match and I'll finish the pair at the same time. These are for Mr NM which gets bonus points as he does ask for new socks on a rather frequent basis.

Yarn/needle/pattern details are on my ravelry project page here.

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I'll be honest, I always thought I was a DPNs all the way girl, I really did. I must now admit I have totally fallen in love with magic loop. That is not to say I'm putting down my DPNs, not at all. It's just that sometimes I can see magic loop is the way to go. I don't get ladders in stockinette when knitting magic loop, I don't get them with DPNs if I switch the stitches on the needles but that means remembering which is the first stitch, no such problem with magic loop. Also I've got a habit of shoving sock projects in the bottom of my handbag and alongside this a habit of losing whatever I'm using to stop my stitches sliding off the needles, no such problem with magic loop.

I will admit I'm a little afraid of the bit where I get to the heel BUT I have this tutorial and I'm reminding myself that it will all be fine, it's only knitting, no one dies if I make a mistake. It will be just fine.

So yes, achievement points and levelling up.

This post may have been influenced by my frequent observations of Mr NM as he plays computer games and the discussions that follow.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Autumnal socks in winter - FO Friday

I've made a start on my goal of 12 finished pairs of socks for the year, I may have cheated by starting them in October but I've finished them in 2011 so they count to this year's total.

Autumnal mystery socks
Pattern: 2010 TTL Mystery Sock by Kirsten Kapur
Yarn: Ripplescrafts hand dyed sock yarn in Spring Myrtle

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This picture is a bit closer for colour accuracy but the red is a bit darker than this

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Just because I like playing with the macro function on my camera

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I enjoyed knitting the socks, I wasn't sure about the sampler style of them but actually it really does work and I like them a lot. When I actually focussed the knit was quick and the pattern easy to memorise. The yarn is lovely too and I think when I've worked through a bit more of my stash I may join the Ripplescrafts sock yarn club again as the service was excellent, the colours are really rich and the dye doesn't run when you wash them as it has in other handdyed yarn I've used. This reminds me I must pick up some white vinegar and attempt to set the dye a bit better on my lime green socks which many washes later continue to make the water look like the cheap and shockingly sugary limeade I drank as a child.

Also the blasted cardigan of doom was finished last night, I took a quick, late night, no natural light photo as proof but I think this cardigan deserves a blog entry of it's own with some better pictures of me modelling it.

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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Let's twist again

The cardigan of doom still hasn't dried so I'm really hoping it hurries up with that. Mr NM is away overnight on Thursday which is looking like prime, quiet, making up time. I do know how to mattress stitch and have used it on baby garments I've knit but even then I feel nervous and like I'll much up my cardigan. I need to do it slowly and fingers crossed it will go well and the cabled band will fit around the neck properly and I will be able to graft it together and it will all look great. I hope so!

One of my personal goals for January has been to get the two pairs of socks I've been knitting on since October and November off the needles and finished. I am not allowing myself to cast on any new sock projects (or currently any new projects at all) until they're done. One pair was finished on Sunday (they're awaiting photographing) and the other pair continues to be a WIP:

The pattern is Twisted Mockery by Lisa Stichweh and it was the November Mystery Sock for the Sock Knitters Anonymous group on Ravelry. Clearly I didn't actually finish it in November! The yarn is from Ripples Crafts and was part of the sock club last year, I think it was April but it could have been May. It's a darker purple than the picture shows.

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I love the way the diagonal bands of twisted stitches come right round to the back of the foot ending in a point

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I'm actually further on than this now as I was knitting on them yesterday evening, I am 4 rows from finishing the first chart on the second sock and they did feel to be flying but we did watch two films last night and I knit throughout which helped! I am not the fastest knitter so I really need time to sit down and do nothing but for a few hours if I'm going to make good progress. I am trying to make a decision for the heel. The pattern specifies a slipped stitch heel which I know is the more hardwearing option but a stockinette heel would continue the stockinette which has been added in to the back of the foot and I think that would look lovely. I just can't decide. I do have a pair of socks with a stockinette heel flap and they haven't worn through nor do they look in any worse condition than my socks with slipped stitch heels. Decisions decisions.

I walked past this sculpture near my work when I was on my lunchbreak yesterday, I don't usually have my camera when I was past but as I was doing my WIP photos I did and all I could think when looking at it was that it should be holding a skein of yarn ready to be wound! Perhaps I knit too much…

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Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Finishing what I started

When I got home from work last night this was waiting on the doormat, a slight break in my stashdown but a necessary purchase so it doesn't count.


I couldn't get the same dye lot and it's a little darker but it's not too obvious and honestly I don't care, the knitting on the Cardigan of Doom is DONE. You read that right, finished. I've knit it. The parts are all washed and it's drying on our spare bed as I type ready for seaming.

I'm a bit nervous about the finishing, this is the first adult sized garment I've made and my making up skills do rather leave something to be desired. It's not so bad on baby things, they're tiny, there isn't that much sewing. This is looking like A LOT of sewing and I'm dreading it a bit.

Four words that are appealing for my next adult knit:

Top down, seamless construction.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Library enhancement

Along with my goal of actually using my recipe books to cook recipes from instead of just drooling over the pictures I am going to make some effort to knit patterns from my knitting books. I have rather a lot of knitting pattern books, not many compared to some I'm sure but rather a lot. I have also increased my knitting pattern book collection with presents and spending money from Christmas, the last of my new knitting books arrived on Saturday morning.

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This is more than just a pattern book and includes instructions for "advanced" knitting techniques such as colourwork, cables, lace, pattern design and scary things that put fear into my heart such as this mad thing they call "steeking". I had read positive reviews and I'm one of many knitters who learned (or rather re-learned as my grandma had taught me the basics as a child) how to knit from Debbie Stoller's Stitch and Bitch. I never knit any of the patterns from the first book (apart from the ribbed scarf but that's hardly a pattern) but I found it incredibly useful for tips and techniques. I had heard that this book has not only the clear instructions with pictures of her previous books but also has some fabulous patterns. The people who said this were not wrong. It does have lovely patterns for garments and accessories which I am sure I will actually use and actually knit from and I would definitely recommend it.

I must confess though that from all my knitting books the only patterns I've actually knit from them were my MiL's scarf which was a pattern from Knitted Lace of Estonia, the Elizabeth Zimmerman mittens from The Knitter's Almanac (and even then I used an on-line mod for the thumbs), the ribbed scarf from Stitch and Bitch (as I said, hardly a pattern) and I use Yarn Harlot's sock recipe for my basic socks. I know Monkey appears in Knit. Sock. Love. but I knit it from the pattern on Knitty and I have cast on a scarf pattern from my sock yarn One Skein Wonders Book. I'm as bad with magazines. I subscribe to The Knitter (well Mr NM pays, it was a present) and buy Simply Knitting and Get Knitted every month but I rarely actually knit from them. I really must start actually using these books and magazines for patterns as well as the wonder that is the internet otherwise why did I pay for them?

One thing I did knit from a magazine pattern, the Cardigan of Doom, we saw how well that went! Worry not though, I have not burned it in the back garden in a stinking rage, I promise. I am simply awaiting the delivery of a ball of Pompero bought on ebay to finish it off. It will be the wrong dyelot and right on the front which is annoying BUT I do have long hair which I generally wear loose over my shoulders so hopefully that will hide the bit knit from a different dyelot and no one will notice.

Also note to self not buying yarn doesn't really count if I keep buying knitting books instead, it's still spending money.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Getting my act together

Good evening everyone, I hope that the first week of 2011 has been good to you, it has to me and there are still a couple of hours in which I can eat dinner, do some knitting and try to forget it's Monday tomorrow and I have to go back to work.

A key part of my greater plans for 2011 is to be more organised. In my head I am a very organised person, I am addicted to writing lists and making spreadsheets to manage my budgets and managing my life. In reality I start these things then they tail off and I end up in a great big muddle over and over again. NO MORE I SAY! Mr NM says no more too as he is part of the 2011 organisation drive.

Mr NM and I rent a small and far from perfectly formed 1960s semi. In many ways it's lovely, our neighbours and pleasant enough and the street is quite quiet. Where it all falls down is storage space. Sadly both Mr NM and I are hoarders, not in the scary way like in that US TV programme but we do have a habit of hanging onto things and after over 8 years together there is a lot to hang on to! Part of our organisation drive is using the space we have more effectively (and I'll admit some getting rid of stuff) but we're taking it slowly instead of trying to do everything all in one go and at once and getting very disheartened, this is where my organisation drives usually fall down!

I'm happy though as this weekend organisation job 1 was completed and I am very happy with the result. One of the problems with our in many ways lovely house is the kitchen. Most people on the street have knocked the kitchen into the dining room for a open plan type affair or have built our extensions. Whoever owned ours before the landlord never decided to do this leaving the house with a tiny galley style kitchen. When we moved from our old flat into this house I brought a lot of dry goods with us, I'm a Yorkshire girl, I don't throw things away if I have paid for them! Just over 2 years of living here though meant things I thought we'd use got lost in the back of the cupboards as I bought more stuff. This weekend's job was to sort out the big kitchen cupboard and oh boy did we have some past it's best stuff in there!

Before picture of shame and woe:

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After picture of joy and delight:

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I need not buy baking supplies for some time! I am so happy now though with my lovely, tidy cupboard and together Mr NM and I are going to keep it that way, maybe I should take a monthly photo as proof and as some incentive to keep it like that, I don't want another photo of shame on my blog. Also the stork tub contains dried fruit, I don't keep margarine in the cupboard!

To assist in the organisation I took a backwards step. I used to organise myself with a diary/planner type affair and I really needed it. Last year I got a new mobile phone which syncs with my google calendar and all sorts, very fancy stuff but really to be fully organised I need pen and paper.

I think I've mentioned my fondness for owls before so when I saw this in Paperchase I couldn't resist:

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It's wonderfully laid out with the days of the week on one side and gridded paper on the other for all my lists and notes:

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I love it and it's helping already. I am also making a note of what I'm eating as I somehow managed to gain a stone last year and I'd rather not gain any more weight, I'd rather like to lose some if I can.

Having an organised kitchen cupboard allowed me to work on another of my 2011 goals, using my many recipe books and actually cooking meals from them instead of occasionally getting them out and drooling over the pictures. On Saturday night we had a curry night, curry and naan made by me, little nibbly side bits courtesy of Tesco (rice is just rice, hardly requiring a recipe!). If you're thinking this photo explains the weight situation this is Mr NM's portion, I didn't have quite as much.

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Don't worry, I did manage to fit in some knitting time!

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Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Damn you cardigan of doom!

Welcome to my first WIP Wednesday of 2011

This is what I had of the blasted cardigan of doom on Monday:

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Also a closer look at the now correct cable pattern:

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Now I have a tale of woe for you. As I knit up the front and changed to my 10th and final ball of Patons Pompero I thought "hmmm, not a lot of yarn left there". I kept knitting on as my ball got smaller and smaller and I started to panic. I tried knitting faster, the age old knitter response to running out of yarn, I'll see if I can out-knit it. It didn't work. Last night I had about 50cm of yarn left but 10 rows of the front and 16 rows of the cable band that goes round the back of the neck to go. I think I responded admirably, I didn't throw the knitting across the room, I didn't stamp and sulk. I was very mature. I know this was entirely my own fault. I bought the exact number of balls of yarn stated in the project, an amateur mistake. I noticed much earlier in the project that it was eating yarn and even then I made no attempt to get more. I just left it. ARGH!

I now have to hunt down a ball of Patons Pompero in Taupe which will be totally the wrong dye lot, so far I've found it online but I'm looking at just under £3 plus postage, I didn't pay that per ball when I bought it from Kemps last February. Annoyed doesn't begin to describe how I'm feeling now whether I accept it's my own damned fault or not.

Blast and dash and darn and flip.

I also have a new project to show you, it would appear that I am powerless to resist a bit of lace of some description (the cardigan and both my sock projects being cabled in nature) and I wanted to try out a project from my new book, Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders: 101 Patterns That Go Way Beyond Socks. Back when I was a new sock knitter I purchased a ball of rather delightful Wendy Happy and intended to knit socks with it as it was with the sock yarns in the shop I bought it from. I then read reviews about it not really being all that great for socks with little or no stretch and going out of shape when forced to be socks. It sat in my stash doing nothing and perhaps feeling a little hurt as I hadn't a clue what to do with it. I then found this pattern, a scarf with a fish motif "swimming" up it, perfect for my yarn which is in the Pisces colourway!

School at Play Scarf

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I think my favourite thing about this pattern is the texture on the fish. It uses a stitch I've not used before "make 2 from 2" where you k2tog, leave on the needle then k2tog tbl. It makes a pretty texture which is supposed to look like scales on the fish and does look rather lovely and add an extra bit of interest to the scarf.

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I've only knit the first repeat and I like how it's turning out, unfortunately my mother whose birthday is in early March (and is therefore a Pisces herself) has taken rather a shine to it and I'm not sure I can deny her it as a birthday present. We'll see anyway.

I suppose I am now going to start my pursuit of the extra yarn for extra yarn for the cardigan and in the meantime work on finishing the two pairs of socks I have on the go and get another couple of repeats on the scarf done.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

1 today!

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear blog,
Happy birthday to you!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Hello 2011


I hope everyone had a good night however you chose to celebrate or ignore the passing of another year. I may have drunk more beer than I should and may have a slightly sore head today, just maybe.

I have high hopes for 2011 and ambitious knitting project plans as well as some new skills I hope to learn or improve on.

2011 Knitting Goals
  1. Finish blasted cardigan of doom
  2. Learn how to do colourwork (I've knit a little on my Christmas stockings but I want to do more and do it faster)
  3. Design my own project (I got a "design your own knits" book last Christmas which I've flicked through but I haven't attempted to do it, I'll probably go for socks)
  4. Knit 12 pairs of socks (got to have this one in there!)
  5. Knit another adult sized garment from stashed yarn
  6. Reduce stash (ha!)
Number 5 is where the ambitious project plans come in. My stash includes adult garment quantities of 5 different yarns and whilst I'm only making a goal of a second adult sized garment I'd rather like to attempt to knit 5 adult sized garments and use up these yarns.

Sirdar Peru - this is a chunky weight yarn so anything knit from this shouldn't take too long. I bought it from readicut for about £10 in one of their offers where you get cheap yarn but they pick the colour. Fortunately I got a lovely shade of purple and it will make a very warm jumper or cardigan, I've seen a possible pattern for this.

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Rowan Luxury Cotton DK - this is possibly my most difficult yarn to find a pattern for, I have 12 balls so plenty and it's lovely soft yarn in a delicate light purple colour but I'm really not sure what possessed me to buy 12 balls of cotton. Well, I do know, it was cheap from Kemps! It's not really very me though. I don't own any clothing in this colour at all and I'm really not a summery clothes person. I am sure I'll find something suitable though.

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Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran - this yarn is LOVELY. It's soft and squidgy and a gorgeous rich, deep pink. It's the only shade of pink I wear and was purchased in the John Lewis post-Christmas sale with the intention of knitting something wonderful last year. I need to make something with this! Also for fear if I don't knit it soon my mum will come and whip it out of my stash to knit herself. I have 12 balls of this.

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Rowan Felted Tweed Aran - this was from my recent John Lewis yarn sale splurge and it's my most favouritest colour, green! A gorgeous sage green with little tweedy flecks, just wonderful. I bought 10 balls and am thinking February Lady Sweater which had been my original plan for the pink until I bought this.

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Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply - a yarn actually bought with a project in mind! My latest copy of The Knitter has a lovely pattern called Nessa which is a seamless jumper with some simple colourwork on the yoke. I intend to practice colourwork on smaller projects first but the moment I saw this pattern I wanted to wear it which means knitting it! The pattern called for Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply which would have cost about £65 which is just silly so I got this for much less in the John Lewis sale! I just hope I have enough...I just have got a 9th ball as I only got 8 though that should be enough.

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For the colourwork I was thinking of combining the blue Rowan Pure Wool 4ply I got as part of my Rowan subscription which is a very pretty shade of blue and looks rather charming with the chocolatey brown of the Rialto 4ply.

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I realise this is A LOT of knitting (for me, I'm pretty slow!) but this is just an ideal world amount of knitting, realistically if I finish the blasted cardigan of doom and I knit one new cardigan in 2011 I'll be very pleased with myself.

Do you have big knitting plans for 2011?