Sunday, 25 May 2014

Looking and Seeing are Two Completely Different Things

Good morning folks.

This morning's blog is brought to you by two boys who went to bed at silly o'clock this morning and woke up at 06:30!

It is therefore sponsored by a 6 cup cafetiere of English Breakfast tea from Teapigs!
I may or may not wind up with an arrythmia at the bottom of it!

Any how, how the devil are you all? Had a good week?

My week has been all work and no play. It's a long Bank Holiday weekend though this weekend, and I plan to chill.  I got my housework done yesterday (although, as I write this I realise I didn't dust yesterday! Sigh) so today should be my own. I'd love to go swimming, but I'll see. I've got lots of learning stuff to write up on the computer too.

Feeling the Love -

In sharp contrast to last week, I have lots  of progress to show you.

Firstly I finished the first of my Twisted Limone socks. Gosh darn it, I can't find the tag now. For the life of me I can't remember the colour way name.

There are ends to weave in still, but I love how they knit up. I used 2.5mm needles and cast on 60 stitches, I think they may well be for my MIL as they're a tad snug on my feet. I haven't cast on the second toe yet, but I don't think I'm going to go down with second sock syndrome as it's been a joy to work on them.

This is the reason for my not casting on that second sock. I decided to work on another Piper's Journey. This is my Freud sock yarn in the Violent Violet colour way. My sock yarn is dyed in 50g cakes, so I magic knotted 2 together so that each end of the skein is the outside of the 50g cakes. I love the way the colour is fading from the deep, rich plum to a more speckled turquoise and purple colour as I get further into the project. 

As I knit it dawned on me that the applied edging is going to change colour in a different way to the body. This isn't the look I want, so I've had a wander through my stitch dictionaries and found a new lace pattern to add. This is no longer the Journey of a Piper, it's my journey of shawl designing.

The next project I've been working on explains the title.

I've been working on the Sun Ray shawl. Again chart B had me stumped. I just couldn't make the stitch count match the pattern. My effort didn't resemble the pattern on Ravelry's completed projects. For two nights this week, I've wrestled with this pattern. It was so frustrating, it wasn't difficult lace by any means, it was a basic lattice.

On Friday I had an epiphany. As I was just about to admit defeat for the third time this week, I realised that I was making 3 stitches rather than 2. Dear Lord in all Creation!!!!! I've looked at that pattern how many times over the last two weeks!?!?! The beginning of the shawl uses M3, but then the lacework uses M2. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

This is yesterday's  progress. As you can see, I'm a big fan of stitch markers when I'm knitting lace. I'd rather check my work after each repeat than put in a lifeline. Granted, sometimes that's bitten me on the bum, but I'm now super quick at tinking back ;-). I think I need to find some lighter markers though, having 20 on your needles at this stage of the game seems heavy.

On the Horizon - 

Next week I'll probably be working on the Sun Ray shawl and when I'm not able to work lace the Violent Violet shawlette will probably see action.

Have a lovely weekend

Ellen x 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Nothing to declare

As the title suggests I have NOTHING to show you this week. My net knitting progress is a big fat nada, zilch, nowt.

It's not that I haven't done anything!  I have. I decided to pull out that mammoth cake of yarn I recycled from that sweater last year. Remember

I had a lovely mail day last Monday. I ordered The First Book Of Modern Lace Knitting by Marianne Kinzel. I may have also purchased the second book and a stunning book called The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting by the rather fabulous Elizabeth Lovick. *coughs*

The two books by Marianne where originally published in the 50's and 60's, the way the patterns are written seemed odd to me at first, but they are clearly written and, when you get into the rhythmn of the pattern, they're easy enough to follow. 

I decided to knit the Sun Ray Dinner cloth pattern. It's going to be a 62" pi shawl of loveliness. In my infinite wisdom I cast it on at knit night. Not the best plan, I ripped it out twice after messing up the first lot of increases. I settled into a rhythmn then. Away I went, I got to grips with the charts and raced through chart A. Chart B was my downfall. I made a mistake right back at the beginning and with no lifelines it meant I ripped the whole thing out. Lesson learned. I started again. This time I got a third of the way through chart B before realising somehow I'd managed to get a completely different stitch count. 

And I mean completely! By row 26 I should have had 200 stitches. I had 400 and a few past that! Lord knows how I managed it. 

Needless to say, the whole thing got ripped out. Again! As I ripped it out I did think to myself I should take photos for you, but I was so twisted with myself I could to be faffed. So I have nothing to show for this week.

What a plank! 

So this week I'm changing things up a little. 

I want to ask for your help. 

Last year I took part in a Midnight Walk to raise funds for a charity called Hospice at Home. They provide nursing care to those terminally ill in their homes. They offer support to the patients and their families and are invaluable. 

While walking I knit on a pair of socks. My thought was that I'd raffle them off to raise more funds. In the end those socks raised £72 all on their own.

It seems that my walking and knitting stuck in the heads of the organisers as I was asked if I was going to walk and knit this year too. How could I resist? This year the walk is a Full Moon walk. I'm going to knit while I walk again this year, but I'm going one step further (lots of puns intended! ;-) )

I'm going to raffle off my socks like last year but this year I've set up a Just Giving page. A donation to my page gives one raffle ticket in the draw for the socks knit on the walk. I'm also going to do something a bit special for my blog readers too. If you do decide to make a donation to my page, please comment below to let me know that you've donated. On Sunday 8th June 2014 I will randomly select one person from those who commented on this blog entry to win a pair of socks custom made for you. You will get to pick a skein of yarn from my not unsubstantial sock yarn stash. I'll need you to make a foot template and email me a copy of that outline, but don't worry I'll walk you through the information I need. 

Blog readers will effectively get 2 oportunities to win socks, a ticket in the draw for the moonlit socks and the chance to win socks especially for you. 

Please share this blog post, I'd love to raise more than last year if I possibly can. 

That said, here we are halfway through May and I realised that I didn't draw for a winner in the March/April FO thread. Filipa and Kate both posted beautiful FO's so I'll give you both a pattern. Please   PM me on Ravelry with the details of a pattern you'd like up to the value of $7. 

Have a great week guys. 

Hopefully I'll have some progress to share with you next week!

Ellen x 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Where did my weekend go?

Hello there! How the devil are you all? 

Happy Mother's Day to you guys on the other side of the Atlantic. I hope you have had a lovely day. 

I'm confused. My weekend vanished. I've achieved little. 

I'm currently doing a leadership course. It's run by The Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education who are based at Manchester University. Most of the courses they run are distance learning, or evening meetings lasting a few hours which take place locally. This course, however is a pilot. It's a 4 day course run face to face with a group of 28 delegates at the university's conference centre. It's been really interesting, not only learning new skills, but taking part in the dry run. Giving feedback on the course has made me think more about what I'm learning. Friday and Saturday saw us all undertake the two day residential. At first I wasn't sure, Saturday is my family day. I get my housework done and spend time with Ben. 

On reflection having an overnight stay was brilliant. It gave us all a chance to get to know each other better. No matter how much group work you do, or what you chat about over lunch, it isn't the same as socialising with no work pressures. It proved to be a great opportunity to get to know some great people from areas of the industry I would rarely come in contact with. Who know when these contacts will come in handy. 

Needless to say, arriving home at 5pm on Saturday threw a spanner into the works. I had to cram my whole weekend's worth of tasks into one day. Thankfully Matthew had done the washing and Jean cooked for us on Saturday evening which took a great deal of pressure off my shoulders after a long drive home. So today involved cooking, grocery shopping and homework. Not overly exciting. 

Ooh, but what was exciting was that we went for a little trip out this morning. One of my friends is selling their camper van. We went to have a look at it. It's 28 years old and hanging on in there - just. The price they want for it is reasonable, but there's work to be done that we weren't expecting. So, the hunt goes on. Hopefully soon the stars will align and the right van will come our way. 

It was a shame, Ben got really excited about it. We all did, but it just want the right van for us. 

The hunt continues. 

Feeling the love - 

Wwwwweeeeelllllllll.............. - remember last week when I said I'd be working on WIP's?
Wwwweeeeeeeelllllllllll that didn't really happen very much. 


I did work on Hana Hou, don't get me wrong. It's just that it's a big project and I can't take it everywhere I'd like to knit. 

I'm working on the armholes on the back right now so as the stitch count decreases, my work rate should visibly increase. I'm still loving the fabric this yarn is making. LOVE!!

So, to remedy the lack of portable project I started a new Piper's Journey. I'm using my Violent Violet Sock yarn this time. The pattern calls for sport weight I think, but I really fancied seeing how my yarn knit up into something other than socks. 

When I dye my yarn I split the 100g skeins into two 50g cakes to get the colour effects. I knew I wanted to use the whole 100g to get a decent sized shawl so I knotted the skeins together using the magic knot. The nature of my dying process means that the outside of the cake is a different colour to the inside, so I knotted the skeins at the inside of the cake if that makes sense. This way I'll get a colour progression from dark purple to a lighter plum and back to dark purple.

You can see how dark purple the centre of the shawl is and the outside of the cake

A cunning plan I thought. But then I remembered Sue's Journey. I used Opal sock yarn for that project. I love the way the colour repeats merged and flowed into one for the garter stitch body of the shawl. The applied edging, however, has a definite striping about it. Now, it's not that I don't like the effect, but what I didn't want to happen on this Journey. If I knit the edging as described in the pattern the colour would change from left to right as the edging is knit on. 

So I'm thinking as I work on the body. I'm going to use the increases and the overall shape of the shawl as written in the pattern, but instead of applying a border, I'm going to transition into a lace edging. As I write, the epiphany telling me what to knit and how hasn't happened yet, but I'm hoping for inspiration before I reach the halfway point!

I've been faffing about with my sock yarn blanket too. I knew I wanted to frog the Six'es blanket, so I ripped that out on Tuesday. Wednesday saw Matthew and I travel to Newcastle for an appointment so I decided to work on a new pattern. I tried the mitred square blanket, but decided it want for me when I realised there would be miriad ends to weave in. Not a chance! So I decided to make a version of the nattily entitled 70629AD. It's  one of Lion Brand's free patterns. It's designed for much heavier weight yarn, but my thought is that I'll keep going until I run out of yarn or get bored.

As you can see, I've got a way to go yet. I'm using simple half trebles and the occasional spike stitch for excitement. 

Those hawk eyed out there may have noticed the row counter safety pinned to the middle of the work. It's there to remind me how many stitches I have between increases. I keep forgetting and having to go back and count. With this, my problem is solved........ unless I forget to move it on! 


When I was packing for the trip away I finally settled on taking two projects. I took the blanket with a few little balls of yarn to work on, and I took a brand new pair of socks. 

I'm completely mesmerised by the joys of this yarn. 

I can't sing the praises of this yarn loud enough! The transition between colours is so crisp. The colour saturation is stunning. I LOVE. These socks. This colour way is called 'Bitter Sweet' and it's fab!

This afternoon I've been studying. In order to keep me focused I decided to ply the blue jewel bug single I finished last week. I hoped that a week chilling could be sufficient to relax the single enough to chain ply it. 

I'm really happy with the results. I didn't measure it (I lost count!) but I think it will be a DK to sport weight. LOVE!

I've no idea what it will be yet. 

On the horizon - 
More homework than is amusing!

I'm spinning some BFL/silk I bought from Woolfest last year so that will hopefully see some action. 

I'm working on Hana Hou honestly!

The sock yarn blanket is still exciting, so that will feel the love

And sfter that - socks? My new Journey? 

We'll see
Have a great week. 


Sunday, 4 May 2014

WIP crack away, WIP crack away, WIP crack away!!!!


I'm writing to you later than usual today. I've had a busy morning. 

I've been out for a swim this morning. I took Ben with me and we managed to swim 1000m. We practiced our dives and tumble turns. It's been a while for me, but once the muscle memory kicked back in all was well. I think I did ok. Ben is now quicker than me. He took great delight in catching my feet. We'll see if he can keep catching me as my fitness improves. At the moment, there are corpses out there with better fitness levels than me! 

I'm back on the slimming wagon. Day 1. I'll keep you posted, but don't worry, this isn't about to become my diet diary!

Also today I knit a special little something I'd like to share with you. There is a website I'd like to direct you to. It's a worthy cause and one worth supporting and promoting. The Little Yellow Duck Project aims to encourage people to become blood, bone marrow and organ donors. If you go to the site you can find patterns for crochet, knitted and sewn ducks. The idea is you leave a duck somewhere for someone to take home and love. Each duck has a label on asking the finders to register their duck on the website. This is a global campaign and it would be lovely if some of you guys thought it was one worth helping. 

I knit a duck this morning. And I left it on a table in the leisure centre when Ben and I went swimming.

By the time we came out an hour later it had gone. I hope Jennie the duck has found a lovely new home and is put on the map! I bought a 100g ball of lemon yellow yarn and I'm thinking I'll make a duck a week and leave it somewhere until my yarn runs out. I wonder how many that will make. 

In other charitable news, I've just signed up to do the Hospice From Home Midnight Walk again this year. On Friday 6th June at midnight I will be walking around Penrith knitting socks. Those socks will be raffled again to raise money for the hospice. Last year just the socks raised about £70. I'd like to beat that this year. Fingers crossed. 

Feeling the love - 

As the title suggests, this week I have mainly been finishing WIP's. The red onion socks where first to feel my wrath. 

The stripes don't quite match, but they're not that far off the pair looks mismatched either. I love the fit and the colours. I knit these on 2.25mm circular needles and I think I must be knitting tighter. I've not got nearly as much yarn left over a I usually do from a ball of Opal. I haven't made them longer than usual. Who knows, maybe I had a light ball. 

I also finished the log cabin blanket. Towards the end I was definitely playing yarn chicken! I wanted to finish the edge with single rows of trebles, I got 3/4 of the way around with the blue and ran out! So I had to rip it back. I thought I'd do doubles instead, but I didn't like the fabric it made. Third time was a charm and I settled on half trebles. I ran out of blue a few stitches before the end of the round, but what the heck, it's only for me and I don't mind. I think I've got maybe 10 yards of the green and purple left and that's it. 

Please ignore the dandilions! I will cut the grass soon - ish!!

I'm now back working on Hana Hou. I'm progressing upwards on the back heading for the arm holes. It's a lovely knit. I can't wait to be able to wear it. If my desire to finish WIP's continues, it may be sooner rather than later. 

The peacock shawl also had a couple of rows added to it. There's not a whole lot of point showing you as lace looks like nothing on earth while it's on the needles doesn't it?

Whenu has seen some action too. Last night I just had to spin. I made good progress and I'm now into the green section of the batt. I'm still enjoying the spin. The fibre is a dream. So soft and well prepared! 
I'm hoping to finish it soon. 

The question is, so I spin the orange half of the set next or finish up the logwood BFL? Decisions!

On the horizon- 

I'm starting to get REALLY excited now. Camp Aloha Friends draws ever closer. If you haven't decided to come to camp this summer I implore you to think about it. Mel from Single Handed Knits podcast has put in so much work to ensure we have a great summer. There's loads to learn and create. You can make your own bitters, learn how to tatt, dabble in flower pressing, there's paper and fabric crafts to investigate. There's even knitting and crochet. What more can you want?  Mel says there are still a couple of suitcases left, but get in there quick as they won't be available for long. If you fancy mooching around and finding your own supplies, you can sign up to be a day camper like me. 

I can't wait to meet new folk and expand my horizons!
Camp starts on June 25th. Squee!!

On the horizon - 

Aside from getting stupidly excited about camp and not forgetting Woolfeat, I'd like to continue with my WIP crunching

Hana Hou is at the top of my hit list. 

Next is the logwood BFL 

Close behind is the blessed peacock shawl ......... still!

Then, I've got a yearning for stripy socks!

Have a great week guys

Ellen x