Sunday, 23 February 2014

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I'd rather it didn't come back another day too.

This morning I awoke to the sound of drums. 

Odd, thought my sleep befuddled mind. 

Nope, not drums - rain. BIG fat heavy rain. 

And wind. Lots of wind

I'm done with this weather now. I'd love to wake to a clear, crisp day. I don't need warmth, I'd settle for calm and cold. 

Any how. Rant over. 

How has your week been? 

Mine consisted of work and not a lot else really. No excitement. My work week passed relatively quickly and uneventfully. I had a rubbish day on Friday. I elaborate more about it in the podcast so I won't repeat myself here. Suffice to say I had a glass or two of wine that evening. 

I'm sitting on my sofa this morning writing to you, eating toast and drinking tea. I just looked up to see four little eyes looking at me. It seems the rats would like some toast for their breakfast too! I love watching them eat. Their little 'hands' are so sweet.

Any how, I  digress!

Feeling the love - 

The beginning of the week saw me finish up Marion's socks. I love the way they turned out. 

I love how the colour saturation matches on each sock. I had hoped to make matching cuffs with the remaining yarn. Turns out, I didn't have enough left over. So the pattern in my head goes on hold until such time as I can set it down in yarn. It may or may not be cuffs, I might turn it into fingerless mitts. I'll see when I start working out the finer details. 

I worked on my blanket at knit night on Tuesday. I snuggled underneath it as I worked. I think I'll keep it for this purpose until the spring warms up the walls of Mara's gallery. It was lovely crocheting while my lap was warm and cozy. 

I contemplated working on Ben's second sock towards the latter part of the week. I had started the toe, but when I picked it up again I didn't like the tension. It seemed way too loose. I ripped it out and then lost the will to knit it........... so I cast on a pair of socks for me! Oops!  They're a plain vanilla sock to carry round with me. They'll be done when they're done. 

My favourite thing I've worked on this week is Hana Hou. LOVE IT!!!!! I'm using 3 balls at the same time. When I swatched I learned that I didn't like the way switching skeins every 2 rows worked up. It made for a very stripey fabric, and when you're my size, stripes aren't necessarily your friend. It was suggested by a friend that I try 3 skeins and alternate every row. I love the results. The fabric is gorgeous. The yarn barf that results I love less so! 

I got myself into such a knot. Every time I turned my work the barf got worse. I'd knit a few rows, then untangle the mess and repeat. I've since got a system in place. Each cake is in a different place and when I turn my work, I rotate them. Problem solved. It is making for slower progress though. I'm not overly bothered. I'm just enjoying working with the yarn and the pattern combo.

Did I say I LOVE IT?!?!?!?

This morning I've had a great knitting session. I settled down with my tea, Hana Hou and Mel's latest podcast. I got quite a bit of work done. 

It's very purple. But you wouldn't expect any less from me would you!?

I've spun some this week too. I do love to spin. I just wish I had more time. So many nice things to fit into such a small amount of time I have left in my day. Sigh. 

I'm trying to spin quite thinly. I'd like to chain ply it and use it for socks. It's a merino silk blend, and I'm hoping that the silk will add some durability to the yarn. We'll see

On the Horizon - 

My mother in law sets off on a long trip today. She'll be away for a month. I wish her a safe and wonderful trip. 

I hope to continue making progress on all my projects, although I can sense a frogging coming on with the peacock shawl. I'm just not feeling it. I think it's because I don't seem to have enough quiet time to concentrate on the pattern. It's not difficult, it's just that I haven't got it set in my head yet. Maybe I'll try and devote some time to it this week. Maybe. 

Have a great week guys

Ellen x 

Sunday, 16 February 2014

I've only gone and done it!

Morning folks!

Today, finally, I've woken to blue skies and bird song! What a difference it makes to the day. 

Week in review. 

Weather wise it's been a complete fail. We've had continuous wind and rain. Sideways sleet was a particular treat! It seems so long ago now as I look out of the living room window at the gorgeous blue sky this morning. 

On Tuesday we had the worst wind I've ever experienced. It's actually shifted the chimney on the roof. I suppose Matthew will have to shin up there and take a look at it before too long. 

My mum and dad where supposed to sail off on a cruise from Southampton on Wednesday. He rang me yesterday saying they where hoping to set off that afternoon. I have the distinct impression it's going to be a lumpy trip. 

Feeling the love - 

I finished Jean's Drizzle hat on Monday. I'm pleased with it. I worked it on a size smaller needle to make it a bit smaller. I concidered moving down a size in the pattern, but when I looked at my hat it's quite a loose slouchy fabric and I thought Jean would prefer something with a bit more structure about it

I also finished the first of Marion's socks. I love the way the colour has become more pronounced as I worked up the leg. I cast on the other toe and I'm now beetling my way towards the heel turn. I should really be concentrating on this sock, but my attention is being diverted by the urge to cast on the matching wrist warmer. I'm going to make up a new pattern. When I searched Ravelry I couldn't find what it was looking for. The creative juice are distracting!

I've also worked on my blanket. It's big enough to snuggle under while I work on it. I think it will be the project I take to knit night for a while. That way it will keep me warm while we chat. 

The rest of my crafting time has been spent swatching. I must confess that my SLYMI class has not felt the love this week. I've been focused on the Hana Hou cardie. I thought the yarn I dyed would be a perfect match but I've struggled with my guage. I've knit 3 swatches now on 3 different needle sizes the first one was just a basic swatch, no frills. I realised my stitch and row count was completely off so I ripped out and went up 0.5mm. This was my most epic swatch ever. I practiced my alternating skeins, I practiced my armhole decrease, my pattern band pick up and the cuff. It was at this point I discovered my stitch count was still way off. Normally I'd have cried, spit my dummy and decided I could not do it. This time though, I thought that I'd learned loads from this swatch, ripped it out and went up another 0.5mm. My stitch count is now bang on where I want it to be, the rows are off, but I'm happy with that. I can measure as I go, that problem is easily fixed.

The thing I'm most excited/nervous about is my new shop! I sucked it up, stopped pontificating and put the sock yarn I dyed up into a shop on Etsy. The shop is called KnitToStaySane. So far there is only the one item there. My violent violet sock yarn. If you fancy some, go snap it up!  I appreciate all constructive feedback. 

So at this point I'm going to publish this blog, have some breakfast, finish the housework, walk the dog snd get some knitting done. 

Have a great week

Ellen. X 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

I need a lottery win.

I do!

I've far too many things to do, but I have to work!  It's getting in the way of my creative mojo.

Week in review. 

This week I have mostly been wrestling with migraines. Again. I am unamused. I've had one everyday since Wednesday.  This can't be right. I'm going to haves my eyes tested this week I hope to rule that out, then I'll ask the quack. Once upon a time I'd have one in a blue moon, this is rediculous

Before my week was taken over by headaches I went to knit night. It was a great night, there was just 4 of us this week so it was a cozy group chatting and putting the world right!  

Feeling the love - 

My WIP list grows...... I know! I know! I know! But I want to knit all the things, and I don't have time to finish them all. 

This week at knit night I worked on Marion's socks. I'm knitting them out of my hand dyed sock yarn. I'm excited by how they're knitting up. I love how the frequency of the colour splashes is increasing as I get into the cake. I can't wait to turn the heel and see how the leg works up. 

I've also been studying this week. I've been swatching like a good 'un. I'm studying with Mel from SingleHandedKnits who is convinced she can turn someone like me, who is violently allergic to swatching, into someone like her who speaks fluent 'Swatchese'! 

She's an amazing tutor. Her passion for her subject oozes from the page and is infectious when you listen to her speak. 

I can't recommend this course enough. If you're out there thinking "swatching? Ptchar! Swatching is for Jessies!" I'd give it a go. There's more to it than meets the eye!

This is the biggest swatch I've ever knitted and I haven't finished with it yet! I'm going to finish the ball and see where the course takes me and my swatch. 

I've also been working on a Drizzle hat for Jean, my mother in law (ish). She asked me for a hat at the end of last year and I promised her a Drizzle. I rustled her up a quick bulky beanie, but it's a smudge too big and so I've been powering through a Drizzle for her

Sorry guys, lord knows where the focus is on that photo! I'm not taking it again though! You'll have to squint and pretend it's ok!!

I'm about half way through the lace section, and then for speed I'm going to stick to stockinette. I remember when I knit mine, I had to concentrate when I worked the crown decrease in pattern. Jean needs her hat yesterday, so good old stockinette it is. 

I had a bit of a strop on Thursday. It had been a particularly painful day in the head department and when I got tome I took a tablet. These tablets make me feel a bit waffy which I why I don't take them at work. So after tea I snuggled into my sofa, it was chilly in the house - I looked for my blanket. 
Now here's the thing.  
Once upon I time I learnt to crochet. I crocheted large granny squares and made them into a blanket. I got utterly bored of making 12" squares and vowed I wouldn't do that again anytime soon. Ben said he'd like a blanket like mine. I gave him mine and set about making my log cabin blanket.
How was it then, that after making 2 blankets, I was sat on Thursday night with no blanket while Matthew and Ben had one each!?  

Clearly we need to be a 3 blanket household. 

I'm using up Aran weight yarn I have in stock.  Right now it looks quite good with the dusty green and blue, but shortly I'll be adding in a purple that I don't think will go, but meh! It's just for my house, so I'm not fussed. 

The reason for this week's title will soon become apparent. There's a new pattern being released on Monday. I must have it NOW!! 

 I have to wear Hana Hou now!

Since it's been posted on Ravelry I've been trawling the internet for yarn. Sport weight yarn is tricky here. It's not something that's readily available in the UK. And being the tight wad I am, I'm disinclined to spend yarn money on postage and import duty! 

So I had a cunning plan. I'd use an Aran weight. The decreased stitch count will give me more ease as I'm a big girl and I want this to be a snugly cardie. You know, like the photos! Granted, it would take two of the model to make one of me, but with some jiggery pokery I can make this work. Yes? 

If when I swatch the Aran (I know! Get me?! Girly swot!) I don't like the fabric I do have some sport weight in stock. I didn't realise it was a sport until I was messing with the yarn. 

It's lambs wool it bought to dye up. When I was with Marion I dyed up 2 skeins and love the results. Snag is I'm not sure how repeatable they are. I put two 100g skeins into a bath which contained the remains of a couple of dying experiments. I know it's my purple dye, but I've no idea how much was in there. I've ordered 500g more, so I figure when it arrives I'll dye up the other 3 skeins I have left with the new batch and I'll have enough for my project. While I'm waiting for the time to get that done (pesky work!) I'll use the dyed skeins I have to swatch *faints with pride*!

With any luck I can get similar results with the next batch. 

On the horizon. 

I'll mostly be working. :-(

When I'm not doing that I'll be trying to keep up with my studies, I have to get Jean's hat done, and I want to work on the blanket and Marion's socks. 

What I REALLY want to be doing though is swatching for my Hana Hou. 

Hope you all have a great week. 

Ellen x 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

What I did in my Holidays

Good morning people!

Now THAT was a quick week. I can't believe that in 24 hour's time I'll be at work again. Boo Hiss.

Week in review and feeling the love -

Monday was a great day. A really great day. I spent it with my friend Marion. She is my fibre guru. There's nothing she doesn't know. And she's an all round good egg! What more can you ask for? I'd been planning to have a dying tutorial from her for ages,but life just kept getting in the way.  Finally though we got together and had fun.
First up I learned how to prepare my dye, what happens when you use different concentrations, and how to mix your colours.

How fab are those colours? Can you see there's a purple thing going on? These are the samples we investigated with. They're rug wool so Marion could trust me not to manage to break them! I'm thinking they need to be a fair isle tea cozy for something. 

Next up came different techniques for dying. We used hand painting and steam to dye some top of Marion's. Wow! The colours were wonderful. I am, however, a terrible blogger and didn't get a photo of that. Gosh darn it. 

Next on the list of things to do was tidy up. Well, use up what dye was lurking in the dye baths anyway. I had brought round the yarn I'd bought to play with so we dyed 200g of the lamb's wool. 

As an aside I was a tad miffed about that particular purchase. I bought a lot if 500g of lamb's wool from eBay. The listing did say that the lots weigh between 475g and 525g. Mine weighed on the nose 
475g. I have to way I wondered how many weigh more, if most of them weigh 475g and it's a cunning plan to get more sales from their product. Having said that it's not a bad product and for £12 I really can't complain. But I can wonder!

Any hoo, back to the dye pots. Those two 100g skeins turned out lovely. A gently tonal lilac. 

Then we started to play.

We caked up two 50g balls of my sock yarn. After a good soak we put them into a dye bath of turquoise. Once the dye was exhausted we turned the cakes over in the water and added purple (obviously!). I'm do impressed with the results

The skeins were supposed to be matched. After all, they where treated the same. They're clearly not the same, but I can't wait to make them into not quite matching socks. 

It was at this point I remembered I'm a mother and had a child to collect from school. Oops! In my rush to get packed and back home, I forgot to pick up my purple dye. As it was, it's not necessarily a bad thing. I may have been tempted to dye ALL the things for the rest of the week otherwise!  Once I collected the child, I did play a little bit though. It would have been rude not to!

These skeins where made using the same technique as the purple ones. This time I used yellow first and then added turquoise. I caked the yarn far too tight at the dye couldn't penetrate very far into the ball. But I like the results anyway. I like the speckled effect.  Soon they will be socks for Marion. 

Tuesday was also a dying day. This time it was me changing colour. I wanted to have quite a big colour change. I went to the hairdressers to have a dip dye done. Now, at this point I should maybe mention that it's been 25 years since my hair as been it's natural colour. I wanted to have the purple at the front covered over and returned back to my 'natural' dark brown and the bottom of my hair purple. 

I did say that I'd post pictures on the web of the results. They are conspicuous by their absence. I'm not 100% happy with how it turned out. I know my hair will go bright purple. I know this because I've been doing it for the past 5 years. The hairdressers didn't manage it though and the ends are a dark auburne red colour. Which in itself is odd because I watched them put on the exact same hair dye as I use. Still the results aren't bad. They just aren't what I wanted. 

A deflated, sad kind of day. I consoled myself with knitting on my scalloped tulip socks. 

Wednesday was a frustrating day. I spent the morning battling with technology. Frankly I'm a little tired of it now. The result of my musings is that you can now stream the podcast without the need to download it. Unless a techno genius can tell me in words of one syllable how to get iTunes to listen to me, I give up. Sorry guys. But there's more to life! It seriously ate into my knitting time. How rude!?

On the upside though, I got the pattern finished and published for the Scalloped Tulip socks. I'm really pleased with how it turned out and I can't wait to see what other folk make of them. If love to see someone else knit them up and love them as much as I do. 

My afternoon was completely scuppered by family needs. Harrumph. But being a wife (ish) and mother will do that to you. I picked a poorly boy up from one school and a stranded boy up from another. All in all, not a lot of knitting got done. 

Thursday was my knitting day. I wanted to finish the in preparation socks. February was looming and I wanted to nail the pattern so it was ready should it be needed for Friendship Fetish February. I did finish them and I amended the pattern. That amendment has been linked on my project page and on last week's blog if anyone out there downloaded the first version.  It's essentially the same, but I've added some simple patterning on the back of the leg which ties up with the patterning on the top of the foot.  

It's not a great photo, contortionism isn't my bag, but can you see the purl detail which crosses around the back of the leg?

Friday was a busy day.  Lots to do. My parents visited yesterday so Friday was a day to haul ass and clean up. Not that the house was a pit, but you know what I mean don't you!? I did my Friday big shop. I cleaned out the rats (much less stressful for them now I have the travel box for them) I dusted, cleaned the kitchen and bathroom and got the washing done. 

I flew around the house with a sense of purpose. I wanted to get the jobs done so I could sit quietly and guilt free and listen to my first installment of my Swatch Like You Mean It class. I have homework to do! 

Before I got to settle down with my homework I felt like I needed to make some progress on Ben's socks. I got one done but didn't cast on the second because swatching has my attention now! I know!? Get me!?

On the horizon - 

Week one of my class begins properly on Monday. I can't wait to see what's in store for us. 

I need to work on Ben's second sock and also a hat I promised Jean. I'm knitting her a Drizzle. I've nearly finsihed the first stockinette portion. 

I need to finish my homework today and I'm not quite 2/3's the way through. 

I need to work on that poor unloved peacock shawl. 

And don't mention the spinning! I just realised yesterday that the brown merino/silk top has been on the wheel since the beginning of December! That is so bad!  I need to focus. Maybe after I've finished my homework I should dedicate some time to it. 

We'll see. 

Have a great week

Ellen x