Saturday, 28 December 2013

Post Christmas musings.

This will be another of those posts of many parts I think. I sit here in Boxing Day looking out of my living room window at the start of a beautiful day. It's nearly 9am and the sky is still tinged with sunrise pinks and oranges. The ground is covered with a hard, white frost. I wonder if we might have snow later?

I'm snuggled under my log cabin blanket. It's cold in the house this morning. Matthew cleaned the fire out last night and I think the lack of residual ash meant it burned out quicker. It's stubbornly refusing to give out any significant quantity of heat at the moment. No matter! Between my blanket, my PJ's and my stripy socks I'm good. Coupled with a brew, my knitting and a book, I'm sorted.  

So far this morning I've finished cleaning the kitchen following last night's epic dinner. I've also sterilised and filled a couple of Kilner jars with the scary amount of goose fat that was produced! I'll pick over the carcass later and make stock from the bones. I'm not sure if it'll make good stock, but I'll sharpish find out!

Week in review and feeling the love - 
Christmas Day came and went. Dinner was served on time,(ish) but the goose took a little more carving than I originally anticipated, so I think the accompaniments could have been warmer. Ben had a great day, I think he got what he wanted, and he spent it equally divided between his Xbox and  us.  Matthew took the dog out for a walk on the fells while I got dinner started. It was a lovely day. 

I read a book called 'The Husband's Secret' by Liane Moriarty this week. It was a pleasantly unchallenging read. It's been ages since I read a book. How bad is that!? I picked it because it was the first book at the top of the best seller list on iTunes that wasn't soft porn! Honestly!! I nearly died when I saw the top 2 titles!? And me, a good convent girl and all!!? *cough* 

The story follows the lives of seemingly unrelated women as their lives become entwined by the secret of one man. As the book progresses you can sense the threads coming closer until the book reaches it's conclusion. It was a 'no-brainer' read. I knit and read and was entertained. It was just the kind of read I needed this week. Nothing too complicated, but enough going on to keep my interest piqued. It's not Liane's only book, I'm not sure I'll read another any time soon, but it would make great holiday reading. 

On the knitting front I still aim to clear my WIP's from 2013. Matthew's socks got finished yesterday morning 3 and a bit days after they where cast on. A record for me. He likes them and they fit fine. 


Next on my hit list is Annie. It's a cowl I cast on ages ago. Remember? From that pink Louisa Harding silk blend yarn? I pick it up and put it back down regularly.  It's not that I hate knitting it, it's just that it won't grow. It's a DK weight yarn, but I keep knitting and the cake doesn't get any smaller and the cowl doesn't get any longer! I'm thinking it's going to finish as a scarf rather than a cowl. I bought 4 or 5 skeins and I've got one and a bit left. The fabric is only 32 inches long so I'm thinking I'll just knit until I run out and leave it there. I don't think I can face grafting the ends together, but we'll see. 

Time has passed and it's now Saturday and Annie is finished. I knit until the last inch of yarn. I actually over cooked it slightly and I had to graft a few inches I cut off when joining the last ball to the end of the project to finish the cast off. Now that's cutting things fine! I know I could have ripped back a row and finished that way, but I wanted to get as much fabric as I possibly could. Needless to say I've decided it's going to be a scarf rather than a cowl. Life's too short. It may be that this scarf is too short as well, but when it's washed and blocked it's in the gift drawer for next year! 

This leaves three WIP's - Jean's vanilla socks, the Silver Birch socks, and Mara's mitts. I'm now concentrating on the vanilla socks. I've finished the first one and I'm working my way to the heel of the second  as we speak. 

I'm onto another book too. I'm reading Rachel's Holliday by Marian Keyes. I'm approaching half way. It's a story about Rachel. She's a drug addict in rehab at home in Ireland. Again it really isn't my usual read. I'm not sure how I came to have it on the iPad. It must have been a freebie as I really can't see myself buying it. It's not bad actually. The parts of the story about her time in rehab and what goes on in group therapy are interesting. I see many traits of the addicts I work with- the denial, the blame etc. Rachel's thoughts on therapy are interspersed with memories of her life in New York. Some of those memories are a tad raunchy, you have been warned! I'll let you know next week how the next half progresses. 

On the horizon - 
Another bitty week. I'm in work Monday and Tuesday although I'm hoping to get away early on Tuesday. We're closed on Wednesday for New Year and then normal service is resumed on Thursday. 

I hope to get the vanilla socks done by the end of the year. I can't see me finishing the silver birch and Mara's mitts by then, but I think it's likely to be the mitts which next feel the love. 

Until 2014, have a great new year. 
PS - if any of you have ideas for my next book, let me know. I'm open to suggestions. 

Ellen x  

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Looking forward

Just a quick one. 

I've been thinking -

I'm going to run another KAL over on the knit to stay sane group on Ravelry. 

In 2014 I'm going to knit from stash. Often, my problem is indecision. So you guys will get to make my decisions for me. 

At the beginning of the KAL post a skein or skeins you want to use from your stash
Next select a few patterns you fancy knitting
Make a poll in the Lets KAL thread and let folk vote on what you should cast on

I'm going to run the KAL every 2 months.

It's open to everyone in the group. Post your poll in the "lets KAL" thread and knit from stash

Feel free to use your projects in other groups if they will allow it

I'll open a chat thread and an FO thread. 

There will be a prize at the end of each KAL - probably a pattern or stitch markers unless something else fall in my lap. 

I hope you guys join in  It'll be fun! 

Have a good week

Ellen x 

Friday, 20 December 2013

Happy anniversary!!

Week in review - 

I sat down to write to you on Sunday but put it off because I wanted to finish the gift knitting. Then I sat down to write on Tuesday night to celebrate completing the last infernal wrap  I put it off again because it dawned on me that today is my blog-iversary! It's now a year since I started!

Where did the year go?

This time last year I hoped to share my year with you, the highs and lows of crafting. I wanted to put out some patterns. 

I've had many more highs than lows and in a year that has been difficult in places, knitting has kept me sane (it's all relative mind you!). I published 2 patterns which gave me a deep respect for those guys out there who do the job properly! I've never begrudged paying for a pattern, but now I feel every penny I pay has been earned by that designer and then some! 

This year I've created some beautiful projects. I love the evenstar I gave to my mum. I created some functional projects too. Ringo and Rusty the rats love their hammock! So far they haven't chewed it to death! 

I've set myself realistic targets and I achieved them all. At the beginning of the year I wanted to finish the evenstar and publish patterns. I managed both so what now? What are my goals for next year? I'm thinking I'd like to do another evenstar maybe I'll cast on that Viajant√® I've been threatening for so long. I'm not sure yet. I'll try to crystallise some ideas for the new year blog. 
 But what about this week? I've been off work and it's been great. Monday saw me suck up my courage and go into Ben's bedroom! Those of you who follow me on Instagram or Twitter will have seen the before and after shots! It ruined my back for a couple of days, but the result was worth it! And even better than that, today the room is as tidy as it was on Monday ! Now THAT's a miracle!!

Tuesday was a bitty day. The car had to go to the garage to have a wheel bearing replaced. I walked the 4(?) miles home and worked on the gift knitting as I travelled. My goal that day was to get the last ballet wrap done and blocked as it needed to be in the post on Wednesday. I did get it finished, but not a lot else happened until that last stitch was cast off !  The evening brought knit night. That night we relocated to the pub. We had a great evening chatting, knitting and setting the world to rights. We had to be politely told to go home by the long suffering barmaid ! We also discovered our host Mara's dark, dirty secret ! It's so dark and dirty I'm going to tell you guys too! Mara has the worst case of castonitis EVER! I mean ever!! In the whole world I'm sure!! She coughed to having 32 scarf projects on the go!!!!!!!  That night she cast on 2 more projects ! We decided she should start a new business casting on for folk seeing as she's so addicted to the process!  

One of the projects she cast on was a pair of gauntlets. I know she hasn't got a snowball's chance in hell of finishing one let alone 2, and this leads me nicely to Wednesday. I got to sit down and catch up with Mel on the Singlehanded (!!!!!! SQUEE!!!) knits podcast. Mel showed us a new pattern she was releasing and I knew instantly it was meant to be. Mel has graciously give this pattern to her blog readers. All she asks in return is that you knit a pair for someone who needs them! I decided then and there that Mara needs a pair! Her gallery is cold, and left to her, she's only going to make a pair of gauntlets if she seams up all those cast on edges!!

Wednesday also brought the end of the school term. Ben's school finished by putting on a Christmas event at a local church. It's a beautiful little church a few miles deeper into the country and it just fits the school kids and some parents. The children put on a lovely performance about the Christmas story and we all sang a couple of carols. They make me cry. Every time. I wonder why that is? 

Any how, next came Thursday. Yesterday I travelled down to my mum and dad's. It wasn't the most pleasant of journeys, the weather was most uncooperative. But we arrived safely and that's what counts. We  exchanged gifts with my sister and caught up a little. I cast on a pair of Hawaiian Snowflake mitts. The pattern is great. I'm struggling with my yarn choice though. It's a gradient coloured merino single. The single is splitting easily and at the moment I'm on a dark red/brown shade which is making it difficult to see the stitches especially when the light is so bad in my mum's. I think I'll set them aside until I get home. I want to do the job properly. 
You can see how the pattern is getting lost a little in the dark colours. I'm loving the fabric though, and the garter stitch is gorgeous!! 

Something special happened too. 

No! Calm down!!! It's my RIGHT hand!! It is my wedding band though. My mum and dad gave it to me because they where tired of fretting over it. This is such a special ring. It's made from my mum's, my Nana's and my great-grandmother's wedding rings. They were melted together and split into 3 new rings. My mum has one, my sister got hers 8 years ago when she got married and I got mine yesterday because my parents got tired of waiting for me to tie the knot!  Matthew and I have been together 20 years now and he's in no rush to make an honest woman of me!

Today is Friday. Today we'll exchange gifts with mum and dad and my aunty will pop over. I need to drop off a huge bin bag of clothes to a friend's house that Ben has grown out of (a dirty habit in my opinion!) and we'll make our way home. 

On the horizon - 
Christmas approaches! I hope you all have a great festive season however you chose to spend your day. 
On the domestic front, I'm still thinking happy thoughts about that goose! It'll be fine! I hope. 

On the crafting front, I'd like to start the year with a clean-ish slate. I'd like to finish up as many WIP's as I can. My WIP list isn't too bad. I have the Annie scarf and 2 socks on the go. Not forgetting Mara's mitts. 

Have a lovely Christmas. 

Speak soon! 
Ellen x  

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Child 1 - 0 Mother

Pester power wins. Today I put up the tree. Sigh!

I usually try to put it off a little longer, but next weekend I'll be busy. 

Week in review - 

I'm working hard. Things are getting busier by the day. But all work and no play...... When I get a lunch break or 5 quiet minutes, I like to catch up with my podcasts and my blogs. This week I want to share Mel's blog with you. Now, I'm sure that you all already know Mel, she's huge! Rad! And has more talent in her little finger than I have in my whole body! But in case you've missed her blog, you should head over and read all about it. 

Mel talks to two lovely ladies called Jane and Shannon this week. They have just put out a new book called Journey. From what I've seen it's a work of beauty. It's more than a collection of 6 patterns. It does what it says on the cover. It's a journey. An over used word these days, but the photography is stunning and the patterns flow with purpose through the book. 

Mel, Jane and Shannon have a copy of the book up for grabs. Check out Mel's Ravelry group. Mel is also offering you the chance to win one of her mum's project bags. As the proud owner of a "sew buttons on icecream" bag I can assure you they're worth spending your hard earned cash on. 

I took the dog out for a walk on Sunday. We went up onto the fells. It was a beautiful day. Cold breezy and crisp. 

As I walked and the dog ran I worked on Jean's vanilla socks. I got a fair bit done. It's was a beautiful day. It was so quiet up there. I loved the combination of the open space, the gambolling of the dog and my knitting. I came home calmed and invigorated. Is that even possible!?

Feeling the love - 

Apart from the bit of work on Jean's socks I've mostly been working on Sophie's wrap. 

It's nearly done, I'm trying to keep the motivation going and I'll cast on Mollie's version. I've done a little work on Alex's dodecahedron too. 

On the horizon - 

I've managed to complete one wrap in a week, so doing another larger one is doable yes? Well, it's jolly well going to have to be! I need to get these gifts wrapped and posted by next weekend! No pressure. 

Do you think I'll get Christmas knitting done in good time next year!? 

Probably not, but hey ho! 

If I do get my wraps done, and my dodecahedron I'll work on Jean's socks. With any luck I'll work on the silver birch too. 

Wish me luck! 

Have a great week. 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Did you miss me?

Gosh darn it!  I'll start again then! Just been merrily typing away and the iPad had some sort of hissy fit and I've lost the lot! 

So, did you miss me? I missed you guys. 

Week(s) in review - 
Last weekend saw me come to blog and wonder what I'd achieved in the previous week. I'd been busy all week and, on reflection, I had nothing to show for it. Don't you just hate it when that happens? 

This week is the week when my Christmas spirit starts evaporating. I'm not a 'Bah Humbug!' type ofperson by  nature, but there's only so much grumpy, bad tempered-ness  I can stand before I start to lose my festive happiness. Don't worry folks, the weekends do recharge my Christmas batteries, running around town trying to finish my gift shopping, writing my lists and checking them twice sees my spirit levels replenished. Or maybe that's just vodka!

I missed knit night this week. I had a meeting on Tuesday night in Carlisle. It was a compulsory meeting  for pharmacists who offer needle exchange and addiction services. It was billed as an update. I hoped it may refresh my knowledge about therapy rational. Nope. It was the new trust who runs the service in the northwest telling us all about an error reporting programme that I can't report to nor access the results of.  So, not only did I waste 4 hours of my life, I missed knit night! And that really messed up my week. I had no idea that the 2 hours I spend around a table with my knitting pals with a cup of tea had become so important to me but they have. It's the only 2 hours that are selfishly mine, and it turns out that I really don't like to share them! 

Feeling the love - 

I'm trying to be a good girl. Honestly. Trying is the operative word here. I'm attempting to remain focused on the Christmas knitting. I've now got a mere 2 weeks to get 2 ballet wraps and a stuffie finished so that I can get them posted off. Is that motivating enough for me? Nope, my attention is constantly wandering to non-urgent knitting. 

On the plus side though I do have an FO. And it is a gift! I finished Kittie's wrap. 

I need to wash and block it, but it's essentially done. I did discover, however, why it came out small enough to fit Kitty rather than Sophie. When I came to cast on for the second wrap, I had 2 circular needles floating around not in their cases. I knew one was the needle I used for the wrap, but I couldn't for the life of me remember what I'd used the second one for. So I got out my needle gauge and they're both 4mm. That is bad guys. I got one out of a 4.5mm case. I'm sure I did. But this is why you're supposed to swatch! Did I swatch? Nope! And I paid the price. An extra wrap to knit ! "Bum" said Ellen. There is a second problem which leads on from this though, I did use 4.5mm DPN's  for the sleeves. I don't think you could tell though. Well, I mean a fellow knitter would see, but the recipient won't notice. So it's staying as it is. 

I did cast on a second wrap. This one is definitely Sophie's. I'm still using the 4mm needle, and I've gone up a size. I'll use 4mm DPN's this time, and I'll hopefully only knit the tie once (Kitty's got ripped out and done again, as I noticed that halfway though it I reverted back to stocking stitch rather than garter for reasons best known to myself!)

On the Christmas knitting front, I've also cast on for Alex's present. He's getting a dodecahedron. And why not!? 

It's made out of sock yarn scraps and I'm loving it. You make each point one at a time, but link them together as you knit. I'm halfway through after just a couple of days. With any luck I'll get it finished this week, so that at least one set of gifts is ready to go. 

I haven't been all good though. I have been distracted by selfish knitting. I cast on the Silver Birch socks from Pom Pom Quarterly.  I'm using rainbow sock yarn from my LYS Jan & Cecelia dye it up in gorgeous variegated colours. LOVE!  It is sit down and concentrate knit though. So it will get attention when I can fit it in. 

I've also cast on a travelling project. Plain vanilla socks that, if they get done in time, will form part of my MIL's gift. They're made using Rico Superba country. 

I've spun some too. I've put aside the batt from Monica. Only because I wanted to spin thoughtlessly. Monica's batt needs my attention. It's full of lovely things that come out in the single in ways I've never seen before. It's going to be a lovely arty yarn. I'm thinking that it's going to stay a single. I don't want to lose any of the character. 

So I've started some merino/silk from Wingham Wool Works in various shades of brown. It's spinnig up thin and easily. I'm going to spin straight through and then N-ply it. I'm hoping to get enough for socks. Fingers crossed. 

On the horizon - 

Christmas knitting. Nothing else. Just that. 

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ah ha ah ha

Have a great week 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Attention Diverted

Ok, I know last week I said I'd get on with Christmas knitting. Wwwwwweeeeeellllll............ That didn't really happen. 

Don't get me wrong, Christmas is on my mind, but the desire to do obligation knitting has left me. Completely. Utterly. Oh! Pants! This is bad!

Week in review - 
As you may gather, Christmas is on my mind. I've been making lists and checking them twice.  I've got my parents-in-law (ish) over  for Christmas dinner. My other half, Matthew, has requested goose. Sure, no problem I said! Ever since I've had a mild panic brewing. It's just like a big chicken, right? How hard can it be to cook? I've got a list for the meal - what we're having. I've got a list for what I need to buy to make the first list happen. I've got a list of when I need to achieve things by. And then there's the gift list. That list is getting checked off nicely. Well, all apart from the hand knit section obviously! 

I made a purchase this week. I had an email from Future Publishing. They put out The Knitter magazine.  I subscribed to it from issue one. After a couple of years I thought that I'm never going to knit half of these projects, my money could be better spent on yarn, so I cancelled my subscription. Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful magazine, and most of the patterns are lovely and knit-able but I looked at my priorities and something had to give. The email was an advert for a new, one off title - The Pro Guide to Knitting. At £9.99 I thought I'd give it a go. 

I have to say I'm a little disappointed. There are 18 advanced technique guides and 14 patterns. Of the 14 patterns I have at least 6 that I can immediately recognise from my Knitter magazine collection. I've got a funny feeling that all of the patterns have been published previously. The advanced techniques don't strike me as being overly advanced. One of them is how to knit in the round! I'm not impressed.  
It's a lovely magazine, beautifully put together, but if you already get The Knitter, don't bother. You've got this magazine already.  

Feeling the love - 

The star anise socks where finished last week. I'm really pleased with them. They match perfectly. The only other thing I've worked on is another pair of socks. I didn't cast on the silver birch socks from Pom Pom magazine. My itch for self striping socks needed to be scratched. So I cast on a pair using Sparkle Duck. 

It's their Sparkle's stripes sock base. There isn't a colour way name and this colour isn't on their website at the moment. I bought it at this year's Woolfest. It's a beautifully saturated purple (obviously) and green. I bought one of their spirit mini skeins in the green to make the heels and toes. This Sparkle's stripes is a lovely yarn. It's soft and the stitch definition is great. 100g gives you a good 425m of yarn which it seems will give me enough yarn left over to make a little stuffie of some kind. 

Again I'm a fail at all else. I'm completely obsessed with these socks. I've spun almost nothing! 

On the horizon - 

Again, I hope to get the socks finished by knit night. Then I'm not going to cast anything else on until I've finished a gift item. Honest. HONEST!!!! I won't! Cross my heart!!

The Christmas madness will start next week at work. Double pescriptions will start to appear to cover the Christmas period. Wish me luck. It's over the next month I start to lose all my Christmas spirit. It doesn't tend to re-appear until 6pm Christmas Eve when I finish work!

Have a great week guys 

Oh, and if you have any tips on cooking goose, PLEASE comment below! I'm having nightmares! 

Ellen x 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Winter is upon us

Week in Review

It's been a cold one. There's snow on them thar hills! 

There has been little to share with you that's not knitting related. I've worked, I've taught and I've slept. There has been other bits and bobs, but none that you want to know I'm sure! 

One thing that did happen was the arrival of the latest Pom Pom Quarterly magazine. Once again the editorial team have done a great job. The photography is stunning, the projects are inspirational and the mix of knitting, crochet and cookery is unique. I tried in vain to eek out this edition. I wanted to make it last as long as I could. It didn't work. I sat down with a brew and read every word in one wonderful evening. 
My next pair of sock may well be the Silver Birch by Louise Tilbrook

Feeling the love - 

I've been a bad girl. I'm sorry. I know I should be working on Christmas gift knitting, but I cast on a sock instead. It's been great. It's ages since I worked on a sock and I realise now how much I've missed knitting them. Their almost instant gratification is addictive. 
I'm already onto the heel of the second sock

I'm doing a 64 stitch vanilla sock, using Opal sock yarn in the star anise colour way. This is my first time using the Fish lips kiss heel It is a thing of simple beauty. I can't recommend this heel highly enough. For $1 you get not only the heel pattern, but you get the recipe for socks that fit.... every time. If you're a sock knitter, you have to try this pattern. It's a revelation. 

Aaaaannnnnddddd that's all for the knitting!  I know! It's a bit pants! But it is a sock and a half in a week. And that's not too shabby..... right?!

On the spinning front I've worked a little on a braid from deep stash.

 It's polwarth from Dyespinknit in the One Year Older colour way. Considering it's been in stash for 2 years it's spinning up a dream. I'm using my Turkish spindle that I managed to break when I plied the Autumn Sky single from Nunoco. I took the shaft out of the cop and tried to take the arms out when I heard a crack. I broke the thinner of the 2 arms. But i was a girl guide (briefly!) and I've fixed it. Super glue and cotton thread can fix a multitude of problems. The shaft doesn't fit as far in to the arms as it used to, but it still spins well so all is not lost. My plan is to make a 4ply. Stupidly I didn't think on to split the fibre into 4, so I'll fill the spindle four times and hope for the best! 

On the horizon - 

I'd like to get the star anise socks done by knit night. 

I REALLY should work on the ballet wrap!

I'll spin on my wheel and spindle 

Will I cast on those silver birch socks? Probably!

Have a great week guys! 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Half Term Capers

I've decided I need to go back to work for a rest. This week has been none stop. 

Week in review - 
Monday was an odd kind of day. Our electricity supplier needed to turn off the electricity to do some maintenance on our sub-station. It was supposed to be off for 2 hours from 1 to 3 o'clock. This in itself would have been fine, but I borrowed Ben's best friend for 2 days and two 10 year olds with no electricity is horrendous. I've seen heroin addicts withdraw and be happier!!! Honestly!! You'd think their world had come crashing down. To make matters worse, the weather was awful. And then the power didn't come back in until gone 4 o'clock!!! Disaster!!! 

Tuesday was a bitty kind of day and essentially I achieved nothing!!  I did make knit night though, I had a great couple of hours chatting. 

Wednesday saw Ben and I travel over to the north east to visit Beamish. Beamish is an open air museum which shows the history if the north. There are lots of living exhibits. There is a pit, a school house, a farm, a Georgian manor house, and shops. The staff all dress in period costume and will tell you what it's like to live in Victorian England. It's a great day out. We ended the day by staying at a hotel. It was a small country hotel, the decor was a bit tired, but I can't fault the staff and the food was lovely. 

 On Thursday Ben I went home. We set off early because my mum and dad where traveling up to visit us. We had a nice time catching up. 

Friday was a really busy day. I had housework to do before I packed for our family trip to Hull. We went to visit friends. We don't get over to them very often, so it's good to spend time with them. It was an epic journey. Ben and I set off at 1:45 to pick Matthew up from Uni in Preston. From there we travelled over to Hull. We arrived at 6pm. Phew. I did get quite a bit of knitting done though. Well, until it went dark anyway. 

Today (Sunday) we went for a walk down by the river Humber. It was so windy! I can assure you there are no cobwebs within a 10 mile radius! 

This weekend we've all just chilled and chatted. Good food, good booze, good company. What more can you ask for?!

Feeling the love - 

This week I've finished spinning some Numoco fibre on my Turkish spindle. It was a batt dropping from my smorgasbord box. The colour way is Autumn Sky and it's a blend of merino, soy, and silk. Yummy. I wasn't sure how I wanted to finish it. I put it to the Nunoco group. I asked them to vote. Either I could leave it as a single, fulled; I could 2 ply it from the cop; or I could chain ply it. Each option has its pro's and con's. Would the single felt enough with all the added extras in the blend? Would I make a hash of plying from a centre pull ball (I have done this on more than one occasion)? Chain plying would preserve the colour changes but I'd lose a lot of yardage. So I left the decision to the majority, and they said I should 2 ply it. And so I did - 

I got 90 yards and while plying I realised I'd done a really bad job of spinning the single. It was very thick and thin. Gutted. But it plied up into a lovely little skein. Soft and squishy

On the knitting front I've mainly been working on the hitchhiker. It's finished now. 

This photo washes the colours out. My hike was a little longer than Martina's. I got 52 points. I could possibly worked another repeat, but I was bothered I'd run out of yarn. It needs to have the ends woven in and a gentle blocking. 

I finished the hitchhiker yesterday so I started working on Sophie's ballet wrap. The further I work on it, the more convinced I become it won't fit. So I tried it on Kitty. Ta da!! It seems Kitty will be getting a ballet wrap for Christmas!! And I'll be going back to my LYS for more pink yarn!! 

On the Horizon - 
I'm now spinning my batt from Monica48. It's lovely. I'll continue to spin it up this week. 

I'm still working on Kitty's ballet wrap. 

When I packed to come away this weekend I realised that my sock drawer is sadly lacking hand knit socks, so I'll cast on a new pair for me. I can't remember the last time I knit sock for me!!

So, have a great week guys. 
I'll see you on the flip side. 

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Phew! I'm ready for a break!

Week in review -

As this week's title suggests, I'm fit to drop. Those of you with kids in the UK will know its half term around these parts. My son is on half term this week coming, but my second pharmacist's children were off this week. In my infinite wisdom I decided not to employ a locum to cover her hours. I thought it'd be fine. Don't get me wrong it was fine, even with the fact I had a fulltime technician off too. But dear me it was hard work. If I wasn't ready for a week off before, I am now! I'm pooped!!

At knit night this week I picked up a couple of mugs. The woman who hosts us has a gallery. Her husband is the most amazing potter. His work is stunning. Now I have a couple of his mugs I covet his teapots.  You can find his work Here. Please leave some things for me to buy next week!

Next week promises to be busy too! I've got things to do every day. But it'll be good to be busy with home things rather than work things.

Feeling the love this week -

I finally finished the Dragonfly fibre. I got about 900 yards of 2 ply. It's a heavy laceweight to a very light fingering. I'm really happy with it.

I've washed and thwacked it and once it's dry I'll pack it up and send it on it's way. I've also started to spin on my Turkish spindle again. I'm spinning some Nunoco fibre. It's a mini batt from my smorgasbord box. It's called autumn sky and it's a  gorgeous blend of merino, tussah silk, corn fibre and soya. I thought I'd leave it as a single and full it slightly, but I'm not sure how it will felt with all of the other ingredients. I don't want to ply it because I want to preserve the colour gradient. The only way of plying and doing that is to Navaho ply it and I'll lose lots of yardage. We'll see

On the knitting front I've been exclusively knitting on the Hitchhiker. I've now exceeded the 42 points, I'm now intrigued to see how many I finish up with.

It dawned on me this week that it's about 2 months until Christmas. I really need to get a wiggle on with the gift knitting.  I need to focus and get the job done!

On the horizon -

I don't think I'll get much spinning done, but I really need to work on those gifts   My goal next week is to make significant progress on the gift knitting.

I'm taking Ben to Beamish next week. It's a huge museum in the North East. I'll report back, I'm looking forward to seeing the Victorian pharmacy they have. Maybe I'll find a spinning wheel to play with there!

Have a great week guys.


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Poorly Sick Pig :-(

Hey there guys! Huge apologies for the lateness of this post. This weekend I've mostly been poorly. I've got a throat infection I think, and I feel awful.
I'm still at work though (such a trooper! I know!) so by the end of the day I'm completely done in.

This post will be brief, I'm sorry.

Week in Review:
There's not a lot to say about this past week, I've worked and I've spun and that's pretty much it. We have new additions to the family! We have 2 pet rats called Ringo and Rusty. I'll post photos as soon as they've settled in enough. Trying to convince Ben to take baby steps with them is proving difficult. He's been desperate to have a small furry pet for years, and now they're here he wants to play with them all of the time!

Feeling the love:
I've worked mostly on getting the second single of the dragonfly fibre done. I'm really pleased with it. I've started to ply now and it's coming out nicely. I'm a bit concerned about my bobbins though. I weighed the fibre when I split it, so I know that I had 50g in each half, but as I'm plying it's becoming really obvious that I'm going to have a lot left on my second bobbin. I'll try to take it off and make a centre-pull ball to tag it onto the yarn I'm plying. This has never gone well for me, so I can only hope for the best!

I have knitted too, I'm still working on my Hitchhiker. There's not a lot to see right now as it's started to grow more slowly.

On the horizon:
I'll have the dragonfly finished this week I'm sure
I'm hoping to have the Hitchhiker finished (HA!)
I'm hoping that my throat will be less septic!!

Sorry for the lack of photo's this week,
And the lack of content!
Hoping for a good week and I'm looking forward to being off work next week!

Have a good one

Ellen x

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The third time IS a charm

Don't panic good readers, I'm still here! It seems though, my weekends escape me more often than not!

Week in review -
This week has been tricky. Work has been interesting; I've had numerous queries and it's been great. I loathe weeks when all I get to do is dispense. This week I've had loads of clinical and pharmacological questions to answer and it's made for great challenges.

I've also had new challenges on the coaching front. Normally I coach older children to swim at  swimming club. This week, however, I've been teaching the youngest children. They're 4 and 5 years old, and with the best will in the world, I find them tricky. Their short attention spans mean I have had to change my teaching style to keep them on my side. It's difficult, but I've enjoyed it.

Feeling the love -
I know I had all these good intentions last week, but they all went to the wall!
I DID get to knit night and had a great time. I met 4 new women and loved the 2 hours we had to knit, crochet and spin together. I'll be back with bells on next week! I had intended to cast on either socks or Viajante but managed to cast on neither! What I did do though, was to cast on  hitchhiker. I'm using some of the first handspun I'd ever made. I love knitting with handspun. Even such an early attempt as this. There are places where my plying is woeful but as I'm knitting, I love watching the colours knit up and I love seeing how my plying is improving as I work my way through the skein.

I've also been deep stash diving. A long time ago I decided to make garter stitch scarves using super bulky yarn. I found a few of the scarves that I hadn't sold or given away and unravelled them. So far I've made one cowl. I think I have enough yarn to make 2 more. I'm not going to write up the pattern and publish it because I've no idea what the yarn is. But I have put all the I instructions  I used to make it on the project page. If you fancy making something similar, feel free to use these directions 'till your heart's content.

I have spun too. I've made a little progress on dragonfly, but it's slow going. Such is spinning thin!

On the horizon -

Will I get Hitchhiker finished?
Will I get cowl numbers 2 and 3 finished?
What about Annie?
What about those ballet wraps!?

Wish me luck! I'm going in!!!

Up until Next time, have a good one

Ellen. X

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Third time's a charm

Week in review - 

It's been a week. I've not had a lot of fun, but thankfully I've had my knitting to keep me sane. I'm forever grateful for the knitting community. You guys cheer me up. When I'm feeling that  I want the world to stop so I can get off, a visit to Ravelry to look at the boards raises my spirits. 

The week hasn't been all doom and gloom though. My son was on the television this week! Our village is one of the first rural communities to get fibre optic broadband and his school has been hooked up. Regional television came to record the moment, and Ben was interviewed. So, at the tender age of 10 he's had his 15 seconds of fame. 

On the work front it's been an interesting week. My love as a pharmacist is clinical pharmacy. There isn't a day that goes by that I regret moving out of hospital pharmacy and into community pharmacy. I miss the juicy clinical challenges. In community pharmacy these challenges are few and far between. I'm lucky, in that I work in a building with 2 large GP practices, so clinical queries happen more often. This week I've had the opportunity to get my teeth sunk into some good problems that have lead to me learning new things. Happy days. 

The title of this week's blog comes from the fact that, once again, I didn't get to knit night this week! This time it was cancelled. Gutted. But you never know, if the planets align I might just get there next time! Keep everything crossed for me guys! 

Feeling the Love - 

This week I've found myselft working on Annie surprisingly enough. I think the stresses of the week have only allowed me to mindlessly knit while I've chewed over what's been going on. This means I've made some good progress. I've nearly finished the second skein and it's clear to me now that I'll have to use all 4 skeins. The yardage on these skeins is quite short. It's knitting into a gorgeous fabric. The drape is great and I think it will be a beautifully warm scarf. The hand dyed colours are finally working with the pattern. 

I also heard back from the girls' mum who gave me their up to date chest measurements. They've grown! How rude!? So Sophie's pink wrap has been ripped out and I'm nearly back to where I'd originally got up to.  I'm enjoying the knit so far, I've got a little way to go on the raglan shaping, then we'll see where I go next. 

Don't keel over guys, but I've finally got a decent amount of spinning done too. I've finished the first single of the dragonfly top. I've pre-drafted the second half in an attempt to get some nice barber poling going on. 

It's a lovely spin, but I can't wait to move onto something else. I can feel a batt coming on. But having said that, Ben is spinning some clown barf top I bought for him at Woolfest this year. He decided he wanted me to split up the colours. He's going to spin one after the other and then I'm going to Navaho ply them for him. 

I originally bought 2 braids of barf! One was a bright rainbow, and the one he's spinning. I offered him one, but he wanted half of each. So now I'm thinking that with my half of each skein, I could have a go at making a 5-ply yarn. I have no idea how I would ply 5 singles together. Some research will have to happen I think. Maybe I could make a 2-ply and a 3-ply. Can you imagine the results? Mmm. Maybe the batt will have to wait for next time. 

On the horizon - 

I'd love to make some good progress on my second dragonfly single. I really want to get it winging it's way to the recipient. 

I think I'll get the third skein of yarn started on Annie's, and Sophie's wrap needs to see some serious action. 

And then there's knit night. Well. If it comes off, I'd like to either start a pair of socks, or I'm thinking that Viajante by Martina Behm is calling me. 

Have a great week. 
Keep smiling

Ellen x 

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Creative Juices

Hello all

Again, it's a late post this week.  I've been a busy little bee!

Week in review -

Work is work, another busy week. Is there anything else? I think not.
I had great hopes to get to a new knit group on Tuesday, sadly it didn't happen. My other half had a hospital appointment over in Newcastle. It's a good hour and a half from our house. His appointment was at 4pm and the knitting group meets at 7pm. Plenty of time I thought.....Nope! We didn't get seen by the Registrar until gone 6pm and we got back in the house at 8:30. A frustrating day, but on the  upside I got lots of knitting done! I worked on my Ammolite cowl and Annie scarf. It was a great shame that the winter approaches because it went dark on the way home, and my knitting in the car was curtailed by lack of light!

This weekend I've mostly been working on another kind of project entirely.

This is my latest acquisition. It is a 1960's or 1970's sewing box. I bought it from ebay and it was a bargain. The listing said there was some surface scratches "consummate with age". The seller listed a photo of the scratches, but when it arrived those scratches seemed a lot more prominent to me. One of those scratches was made with a biro and was as deep as the Grand Canyon!

Thankfully though, my other half is a keen wood worker and had all the tools handy to fix the problem. This weekend I learned how to strip the varnish off, and how to re-finish the surface. I've scraped, sealed, sanded, sealed, sanded, waxed, buffed, waxed and buffed and now I have this:

I'm so pleased with it! I'm already working on filling it!

Feeling the love this week -

Well as you know, I've worked on Ammolite and Annie while waiting patiently in the hospital. I got Ammolite finished and I'm really pleased with it.

I used Debbie Bliss Cashmerino aran. It's a lovely yarn, soft and squishy with great stitch definition.  The Annie will be a WIP for a while I think.
 I'm planning on using 2 skeins of the Louisa Harding Grace yarn, but it might end up being more, depending on how much I get out of the first one. It's not the most exciting of patterns, and I have to say that scarves bore me silly. So it's going to be at the bottom of my project bag for the foreseeable!
As this week's title suggests, the creative juices have been flowing this week, and for the latter part, I've been working on a new design. It's a hat. I've completed the prototype and I'm now knitting it a second time while I write up the pattern.
 I'm happy with how it's turning out. I'll post a link to the pattern on Ravelry next week hopefully. At the moment, I'm planning on publishing the pattern for a beanie-style hat this week coming and I'm going to update it soon with another slouchy version later.
Spinning has become the victim of my obsessional knitting I'm afraid. I do want to spin, it's just that there are too few hours in the day for me to get everything I need done.

On the Horizon -

I can see many more hats coming up! I've finally got new chest measurements for the girl's ballet wraps, so I'll crack on with those this week too.

With some good luck and a following wind I'll get to Knit Night and maybe even get some spinning done!!

Wish me luck

Until next week

Have fun

Ellen x

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Better Late than Never

Week in Review -

Oh, my gosh what a week it's been.  It started on an epic footing because we had a tour around Ben's next school.  For those not based in the UK, our kids go to primary school from the age of 4-11 and then the move up to secondary school until they're either 16 or 18 depending on how far they want to go with exams.  Ben is due to move up next September, so now is the time to decide where he goes.  On the whole primary schools are significantly smaller than secondary, and it's a huge step for a child moving up.  The school Ben is going to has been working with his current school for a few years now, they start integrating the children from the age of 9.  It starts with the French teacher coming into give the kids lessons once a fortnight and culminates with the children who are due to move up going to the secondary school for a few lessons. The idea is that the kids have an idea of where they're going and what they can expect when they get there.

This school is huge!! I mean vast. It has it's own car mechanic shop, construction yard, hairdressers, professional kitchens as well as the usual science labs and classrooms. I was suitably impressed, the teachers seem to be genuinely passionate about their subjects. I get the impression that Ben will be encouraged to achieve all he can there, regardless of whether he decides to go down an academic or vocational route when the time comes.  It's a big step for Ben, this school took 270 year seven children last year, that's almost three times the total number of kids in the whole of his primary school! Little fish in a big pond has never been more true!

The reason I'm late tonight is because we've had guests over this weekend.  My good friend Steph, her husband and her son have been staying. They wanted to come up because of an event called C-Art.  A good friend of Steph's was exhibiting so we went for a look.  Sophie's work is stunning, she was showing her ink drawings and I have to say I may have weakened and bought one! Not for me I must say, but  Christmas is coming and when I saw this particular picture I knew it had to come home for a special person.

Also because Steph is a budding knitter a visit to Woolclip was in order.  They too have been bitten by the C-Art bug, and where showing their solidarity to the cause by changing the decorations on their tree outside:

I was a very good girl! I bought nothing, so I'm sorry guys, but there will be no enabling this week!!! I did go there with the thought that I'd buy buttons, Cumbrian slate buttons to be exact. There is a new member of the co-operative who runs Sheepfold and she has some wonderful kits on sale. One of these kits is for a cushion. Now I'm the type of knitter who shies away from kits, because more often than not, I can source most of the components from stash! BUT!!!! These cushions have the most divine slate buttons, and I'd heard that she was selling just the buttons at Woolclip. They were lovely, but bigger and heavier that I'd imagined. I loved their texture, the feel of them and their colour, but they where thicker that I thought they'd be. They couldn't be any thinner in all fairness, because I'm sure the  slate would be liable to breaking if they were. I wanted to use them as feature buttons on pieces such as hats, and I think their bulk would pull the fabric too much; on the cushions they were designed for, they look great, but sadly they weren't for me. Bum!

The weekend also saw us go for a couple of walks with the dogs.  We walked down by the River Eden in the village of Askham, there is a small church in the village and as I walked passed the gate I saw this and was particularly taken with it

Can you see the heart dangling in the tree? I think there must have been a wedding there recently.  I love it!

Feeling the love this week -

This week I've been finishing and frogging.

I finally finished Wisteria! I'm delighted with it. It's a bit big, but that's because I'm finally shifting some bulk, so I'm not bothered about that!!!

It's an awful "Selfie" but it'll do for now!

I also finished Sue's Journey. I'm pleased with it, but it didn't use nearly as much yarn as I thought it might.  I had yarn left over from the first ball. This is good, because it means I can make a pair of socks with the second ball.

The frogging happened when I picked up my Pink forellei Shawl.  The more I looked at it, the less happy I was with how the lace was turning out.  So it's gone, I'll knit the shawl for sure, but not with such a heavily variegated yarn.

I started to work on the ballet wraps I mentioned last week, and then I stopped! I swatched for the Sweet Blossom wrap, but couldn't get gauge for love nor money. Any other time, I'd have tried to work some maths magic and fudge the pattern, but it's got a very original construction, and I'm not sure if I started messing with stitch counts, it would turn out the way it was supposed to! So I went back to the Ravelry drawing board and came up with another pattern - Ballet wrap by Shannon Passmore. It's a lovely simple pattern which I think will knit up a treat.  I set about knitting the first one, then had a crisis of confidence. I measured the girls about 6 months ago! What if they'd grown more than I thought they would!? What if I put all this effort into their wraps and they didn't fit!!!?? I've text their mum and asked for new chest measurements and arm lengths! Just in case!!!

When I finished the journey, this meant I now had nothing to work on!!! I can't remember the last time I had absolutely no projects to work on! The gorgeous Louisa Harding yarn was still calling to me, so I've cast on something new with it. I'm now knitting Annie, a lovely reversible cowl. It's knit in a form of waffle stitch, that seems to be working well with the yarn so far. You knit until you nearly run out and then seam the two ends together, so that way I won't waste any of this lovely yarn. I think I'm going to use 2 skeins on this project. If If I like it, then I can knit another and it'll make it's way into the gift draw.

On the spinning front, I think I've managed 20 minutes this week if that. I long to spin, I want to spin, but I just keep knitting! I'm thinking that now I have new projects with loose time constraints on them, I can spin safe in the knowledge that I've got no pressures!

On the horizon -

I've found a knitting group near by!!! I'm so excited!! We were visiting another local artist today (who knew there where so many so close!?) who is a potter (may have put an order in for a couple of his great mugs, and possibly one of his teapots may come home too) while he was talking to the boys I was wandering around his gallery. Not only is there a lovely display of his work, but his wife makes hats and jewelry so obviously the shiny things caught my eye! As I perused the nooks and crannies I found socks for sale, and gauntlets and jumpers - hand knit by her mum! I happened to mention the price of one jumper (over £100 I'm selling myself short!) to my other half and she asked if I knit. I showed her a couple of the photos on my phone of my projects, I think she liked them. So, hopefully come Tuesday night, I'll be sitting with some like-minded folk knitting away! Oohh!! What project shall I take!? I'll have to cast some more on!!!

On the yarn front, I'll be working on the cowl. I'm bound to cast on a pair of socks and I'd like to cast on one of the projects from Pom Pom Quarterly that I bought the yarn for, but which one!?!?

Will I spin? Gosh I hope so

I've also opened a thread in the Rav group. When the group reaches 100 members, I'll give away some stitch markers and a tin to put them in. Still looking for the perfect tin, but here are some of my markers I made up this week:

Have a great week guys


Sunday, 15 September 2013

And the Winner Is........

Good morning all!!!

This week's blog has a video embedded if I can get the technology to work for me! I've drawn a winner of the batt I had up for grabs on the Knit to stay sane Ravelry Group.

Week in review -

This week has mostly been a wet one! The weather has definitely turned now, there's a distinct Autumnal feel about the place. Today I look out of the window at the Pennines and the sky is full of clouds heavy with rain. We have gales forecast for today too. 

Swim Club has started back too, so I'm back to coaching 5 sessions a week.  In an attempt to shift a few of the many pounds I need to lose I'm swimming too.  So far this week I have swum 10km. I'm hoping that once this blog is written the pool will be open and I can go add another 2km to my total for the week.  I've been a little disappointed to though, I've eaten nothing but dust and bird food and yet I've still managed to put on 2lb. Gutted. I'll keep chipping away though, hopefully I'll see the rewards I'm looking for soon.

Feeling the Love -
I have an FO!!!! Neil's socks are finished and it was close I can tell you! I had a couple of yards left once I cast off. I really must get away from this knitting to the last inch, it's not good for my nerves you know!

Wisteria has also seen a lot of action this week, I've almost finished.  I'm onto the final few patterned inches of the second sleeve. I'm so excited to get this project done. I've tried it on and it fits a treat. I love the length of the sleeves. I think I'll get a lot of wear out of it this year.

On the Horizon -

Now the socks are finished I'll work on  Sue's Journey as my mobile project. I'm also going to work on my Pink Forelei shawl at home.

New projects coming up soon include 2 ballet wraps and a gorgeous cardigan for me from pompom quarterly magazine

I hope desperately to spin this week, I've missed it. I felt that I should really get the big projects I'd committed to finished, so I felt guilty about spinning. This yarn is for a good person, and I don't want to spin bad vibes into it!

And so to the video - hope you have a good week all

Until next time
Ellen x

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Ta Da!!!!!

This week I've mostly been a really good girl.

I set myself the task of working exclusively on Wisteria to get the body finished and I did just that.

Swimming has started back this week and I'm easing the kids back into it gently. It's encouraged me to get back in the water, so I'm off to try and get 2km in this morning.

The Knit to Stay Sane group on Ravelry now has an amazing 82 members! I'm so excited!

We have a couple of threads going at the moment. There's prize thread called Paying it Forward. I'm giving a batt away. It's lovely and I encourage everyone to go over and comment. This time next week I'll draw a winner. Originally I'd said that I'll use a random number generator to draw the winner, but we've got chatter on the thread now. I don't want to delete anyone's comments so I'll put everyone's name into a hat and draw a winner that way.
It seems that there are more than a few folk who don't spin in the group, so if a non-spinner wins the batt I'll give them the option of receiving it to do with what they will, or I'll spin it up for them. Now there is a caveat to that! I'm no expert spinner and at the moment I'm not the best at spinning with intention! Most of my yarn comes out thin - ranging from a heavy laceweight to a fingering depending on the fibre. So if you want me to spin it for you, I'm happy  to do it, but the yarn you receive will be a surprise .... to both of us!!

Please feel free to start any threads you like over there.

I've been concentrating on my goals from last week and I have progress that you can see! While I was working on these projects though, I couldn't see any growth for ages! How does that work? Despite patterning, you slog away at something and seem to get no further to the finish line? Hey ho! I got things done in the end!

Feeling the Love -

I promoted Wisteria to the "Take Everywhere" project and put Makai on the back burner. Considering when I last wrote I was so close to finishing the body, it took ages to get it finished. I passed the finish line on Thursday and started the sleeve. I put it down when I finished the first ball. I'm using Hayfield Bonus Aran. It's an acrylic wool blend (don't judge! When you're my size, pure wool jumpers get expensive!) which comes in 400g balls. I've used one ball on the body and got a sleeve started. I think I'll have a good half ball left over, I can feel Christmas cowls coming up soon!

When I felt I'd made some progress on the sleeve I picked Makai back up.  This shawl is lovely. I think the way it's designed to sit over the shoulders is great. The pattern says to work a certain amount before starting on the edging. Of course Mel is over in America, so the length is given in inches. While I was at work on Thursday I wanted to check my progress. We only have metric tape measures and lets just say I got it wrong, very wrong! So wrong that I ended up doing an extra pattern repeat! The stitch pattern has become a lovely rhythmn like the waves crashing on the shore and I was content knitting away until I glanced at my yarn and realised that disaster could well be facing me! I was running out of yarn and quickly.

I'd already decided I was going to knit the gentle ruffle version of the edging which involves increasing your stitch count by two thirds. My mind was in a spin trying to figure out how I could solve this problem. I really didn't want to rip out the extra pattern repeat. I actually liked that extra length. So what to do? Stash dive! Obviously! Wandering through my stash I rooted out another ball I'd forgotten I had! Problem solved. But the more I thought about it the less happy I was, I really didn't want to break into another ball for 8 rows of garter stitch. So after a wobble on twitter I was encouraged to think outside the box.

I had a good look inside my scraps box! I came up with a couple of options

 From the top - Option 1: use the new ball and finish the project as directed. Option 2: Use assorted scraps to finish these include a random sock yarn, my first ever handspun (really thick and thin in places) and some rainbow coloured merino I've spun into a rather nice fingering weight (if I do say so myself!). Option 3: Use only the merino to finish.

I debated for ages. In the end I decided to blend the sock yarn, what Roam I had left and the merino together to finish the ruffled edge. I started the sock yarn and knitted 3 rows, I added in the merino and knitted one, then I used the original yarn to knit a row, used the sock yarn for 2, the merino for 2 and continued to blend the three yarns together until I was happy with the edging. I had just enough sock yarn and nearly enough merino in the mini skein to work the edging. I kept enough original yarn in reserve to cast off.

Ta Da!!

I'm really happy with it. It's not blocked yet as I finished it just before midnight last night. I love how the colours blended in the ruffle. Every now and then you can see a shot of blue from the merino.

The flash has bleached the colours slightly but you get the idea
So back to Wisteria for me.  Neil's socks (remember them!?) have been promoted back up to mobile knitting as the sweater really isn't that portable anymore.

On the horizon - 

This week I hope to progress with Wisteria. I'm not feeling so much pressure now. I'm happy to keep plodding on, now I'm onto sleeves the progress is visible and so far it's keeping me motivated.

I'll be working on the second of Neil's socks. I have the toe done, so the rest of the sock calls. Can I get to the heel turn in a week? We'll see.

I'm desperate to spin this week too. I haven't touched my wheel or spindles all week. My gorgeous Dragon fly needs to see some action.

Oh, and because I've nothing better to do with my evenings I'd like to get 10km swam this week too! 

Hope to see you guys over in the Ravelry group.

Have a great week

Ellen x 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Pay it forward

Once upon a time .......................
I decided to join a group to spin along with during the Tour de Fleece this year. I found the Shiny Happy People; I'm sure I've mentioned them before. They're a lovely group, they enjoy each others virtual company and are very welcoming. The point of me telling you this is that I won a batt donated by one of those shiny people. Her name is Monica and she's so talented. Her online shop has the most divine spindles. This week my prize arrived. I was so excited to see what she'd sent me. When I opened the packaging I was over the moon! Monica had sent me 2 batts! And some silk!!

So I've decided to pay forward one of the batts in this amazing gift. I've started a Ravelry group. You can find us in the Knit To Stay Sane group. There's a thread entitled Pay It Forward.

 If this batt tickles your fancy (and it should because it's too lovely for words) you can post a comment and I'll pick a winner on Sunday 15th September. I'll declare the winner on my blog that day. 

The group will, I hope, become a place for like minded people to chat about what they're up to and how thin their sanity is being stretched! So I'd love it if you head on over there to check out what we're doing. 

Others happenings this week included the arrival of my first ever Pom Pom Quarterly magazine. This magazine is put out by a group of people down south and is a work of art. It is a great mix of fibre arts and life in general The photography is superb, with large images of the knits, great tutorials which are well explained and a rather fab recipe for a cocktail and chocolates! What more can you ask for?

The creators of the mag have thought of everything, for those of us who like to use electronic devices, each magazine comes with it's own code to download all of the patterns featured to your Ravelry account! This means I can dowload the patterns to my tablet and the gorgeous magazine won't get battered in my knitting bag as I knit!

I do have a gripe though, sorry.  There are eight patterns in this issue, half of them are knit from yarn from the US or Canada, 2 are from Europe and 2 are from the UK. One of the UK yarns chosen would cost me over £100 to knit the item! So my gripe is twofold I suppose. Firstly why not use British dyers and suppliers of yarn? Etsy is full of wonderfully talented folk. And secondly £100!!!! Really!?! I'm all for inspirational knits but a remortgage for a sweater seems a tad over the top to me.  That said, it's easy enough to substitute yarns and of those eight patterns I already have yarn on the way for three of them and there is only one I can't see myself ever knitting, so it's a subscription I'll be renewing next year!

Feeling the love this week -

This week I've been a good girl! I'm motoring along on Wisteria and I'm now down to the bottom pattern section of the body. Despite the heavy cabling, I'm making good progress, the countdown to the finish is helping, as is the motivation of my knitting buddy Dorre who has finished one of her sweaters already! Sheesh she's good. The greatest boon to my knitting has to be the tutorial in Pom Pom Quarterly about cabling without a cable needle. With a pattern which needs repeated fifteen times a round, this new knowledge has proven invaluable!

Makai has also seen some action, the opportunities to knit on it have been few and far between this week, so progress hasn't been great. I've decided that as soon as it's done, it's going to a lovely lady who's been poorly this week. It came as a great shock to me when I found out she was ill as I'd seen her last week and she seemed fine. To be knocked off her feet so badly shook me up almost as much as it had her!

My Dragonfly spin continues too. I'm still loving working with the fibre and it's spinning thin. REALLY thin.

Consequently progress seems slow. I can see the bobbin filling steadily so I know in my heart I am winning, but it's slow going. I'm not wanting to rush as I want to make the best job of this as I can.

On the Horizon -

Could this next week see Makai finished? Could I get the blessed body of Wisteria done? Is there any hope of maybe getting halfway down a sleeve?

Who knows, but I'll certainly give it a jolly good go!

I'd love to have an FO to show you all next time

Until next time, I'd like to encourage you to join the Knit to Stay Sane group. Come over and chat, it'd be great to see what you're all up to and maybe you could win that yummy batt

Ellen x