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