Sunday, 31 August 2014

New starts

Good morning. 

Happy Labour Day weekend to you all in the States. 

Happy Sunday to those of us who aren't! :-)

As the title suggests I'm looking forward to new starts this week. 

My baby (11 years old, but he'll always be my baby) starts secondary school on Wednesday. I'm a nervous wreck. He's completely nonplus. 

September also sees the start of a new epic KAL over in my Evenstar group on Ravelry. There's a thread entitled 'The consequence of Evenstar' I encourage you to check it out. We will be casting on In Dreams, another of Susan Pandorf's stunning patterns. This one is a half pi shawl with a measly 5000 beads. 

Yes, that's right! FIVE THOUSAND BEADS!!! No pre-stringing here, each one is placed individually. I'm not sure if this pattern will break me, but I'm going to thoroughly enjoy finding out!

As with the Evenstar KAL, there are no time pressures here. If you complete the pattern in a week (?!?!?) or a year that's great. The group is there to motivate, inspire and listen to your howls of frustration. 

Why don't you join us for a little slice of crazy pie this autumn?

Last weekend was a bank holiday weekend here in England. We had good friends come and stay with us. They have a whippet called Floyd and while we walked our pooches down the lane our boys cycled. It seems that while the boys cycled they were also searching in the hedgerows. 

They found these three ma-hoo-sive mushrooms!

Which I promptly fried up for dinner! They were gorgeous. So fresh and mushroomy. I know it sounds daft, but the mushrooms you buy in the supermarket don't really taste of much. But these suckers taste divine!!

Feeling the love- 

Since I last wrote to you I've finished my It's All xraymd's fault socks. 

I'm sorry for the less than inspirational photo. I know I promised no more sofa shots, but I just realised that I didn't take a glamorous shot, and now they're in the wash!!

I also finished the With Mel shawlette. I was a little worried when I was knitting it that it would be a little small on me. Mel and I are poles apart size-wise! Once I'd cast off I felt a little better about the wingspan of the shawl, but I decided to block it hard too. 

It wraps just nicely over my shoulders, but I think I'll mostly wear it as a scarf
This is how I wear most of my shawlettes. I love how it turned out. I'll be knitting it again I'm sure. Check out WithMelDotCom for the pattern. 

 The Sun Ray shawl has also come out of hibernation this week. It dawned on me that September and the In Dreams KAL was looming. I thought I should clear off as many big WIP's as I can. I've made some progress up chart D. The snag is I spend an inordinate amount of time just gazing at the shawl! I'll knit a row and just look at it for a while! It really is lovely. However, I need to accept it's beauty and crack on with it! I'm no way near half way and looking is not progressing! 

I've also discovered the joys of washi tape..... I know, I know, I'm always last to the party! 

I have astigmatism in both eyes and even with my glasses I sometimes struggle to keep them going the same way (I'm special! I know ;-) ) when I look at complicated charts, sometimes my eyes will wander down to the row below or above. When I'm using the iPad and PDFexpert I can highlight the row I'm on, or enlarge the image so that I can only see the row I'm working on. This pattern is from a hard copy book though. I photocopied the pattern and I've been crossing off the rows as I knit, but sometimes I still wander off. Now I've put a piece of washi tape on the pattern though, I'm finding it much easier. Can't find washi tape? Well a low tack masking tape from the DIY store will do just as well and no doubt be a damn site cheaper too! 

I've worked some on Ben's socks, but not a whole lot. 

I've worked on that blasted sock yarn blanket. That ball just refuses to get smaller!  The only consolation is that it's now plenty big enough to snuggle under while I work on it. The weather has turned positively autumnal this last week. Dewy mornings and a distinct chill in the air. We've had the fire lit on more than one occasion. 

I've spun too this week, but again, I've not made a huge amount of progress. 

It's been one of those weeks when I've dabbled at lots of things and got nothing to show for my efforts! 

Hey ho

On the horizon - 

I'll be dabbling again I imagine! I could really do with winding my In Dreams yarn into a cake and swatching. Cast on is the 14th of September, so I've got a while yet. 

I'm hoping and praying that Ben survives his first days at big school. This is a huge leap for him and I'm sure he'll have a great time. I'm such a worry wort

Have a lovely week guys

Ellen x 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Can you spare a minute?

If you wouldn't mind, would you please read this blog post:

It's from my good friend Mel.

It's an emotional post, it made me well up while I was in work (that'll teach me to sneakily read blog posts at work :-&)

If you can, and you want to please help.

Spread the love 

Thank you
Ellen x

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Only Lefties are in their Right Minds

Happy Sunday folks!

I last wrote to you at the very beginning of my holidays, and here I am already at the end of them! I'm not quite sure where those 14 days went, but this time tomorrow I'll be knee deep in work, the memories of the last two weeks fading fast! ;-)

It has been a busy two weeks, I've lots to tell you about!

I've ticked many things of my to do list.  Sadly most of them are housework related and therefore far too boring to tell you about. Suffice to say, my cream carpet was returned to it's original glory for all of a week, now, sadly there are dirty marks on it again from a welding project brought into the house by the other half - sigh.

We went to a local exhibition centre called Rheged. There are a few shops there selling Cumbrian wares. The exhibition hall changes frequently. At the moment there is a Lego exhibition on by Warren Elsmore.

The Olympic Park in London

The Trevi Fountain in Rome

It was quite a sight to see - buildings from around the world made of Lego. The centre piece was St Pancras Station. Stunning. 

 My only complaint was that it wasn't very inspirationally displayed. St Pancras Station sat in the middle of the room with the other buildings under glass set on plinths around the room. It felt like they'd been plonked there. The room wasn't decorated, there was no flow, odd. There was, however, a couple of tables in the entrance to the exhibition where children could build their own Lego sculptures. Over all it was ok, thankfully it only cost us £1.50 each. If it had been any more, I'd have been a tad miffed.

There has been much crafting this week, so let's get to it!

As promised last time, here's a photo of my completed fulled single yarn. I'm really rather happy with it, but lord knows what it'll become.

Feeling the Love -

What a fortnight it's been. I've made progress left, right and centre, but there has been only one FO! My Enforced Monogamy socks are done. All hail sport weight socks I say!

There is quite a lot of yarn left over. I think that together with my other Regia 6 ply, it may make a rather cute stuffie!

OOOH! OOOH! OOOH! I lied!!! I have another FO!!!!!!

I'm really rather pleased with myself! I made a skirt!!!! I know!! Get me!?!?
(sorry for all of the exclamation marks, but I'm really chuffed!!)(sorry again)

This is one of my Camp Aloha Friends projects. I'm delighted with the results.
It's an A-line skirt with an invisible zip. It fits a treat. I'm so happy with it I might even be tempted to try my hand with another project sooner rather than later.

Definitely done with the FO's now. Promise.

I do have a couple of HO's though. Both Ben's second socks and my It's All Xraymd's fault socks have felt significant love. Ben's second sock is still a toe, but my second Thanks sock is racing down towards the toe.

The Thanks socks have been an interesting knit. I'm knitting along with Andrea and I'm helping her wrestle with the chart aspect of the pattern. I'm having to knit and conciously think about what I'm doing. Rather than blindly following the instructions, I'm thinking about what I'm doing and why, how can I best describe this in plain language to someone who's never knitted from a chart before. It's been an eye opener and seeing as how I have a pattern out at test knitters now, I'm thinking about how best I can change the instructions to be more clear. Stand by! In an effort to describe the sock to those who've never knitted it before I made a quick YouTube video.

In other Camp Aloha Friends news, a little while ago I made paper beads with using a tutorial from Zena. I knew I wanted to make stitch markers with them, it just took me a while. So Friday I got out my equipment and had a play.

Now, our Camp Director, Mel, wanted us to take a step in her shoes. She wanted to think about what it is to teach or coach someone. She asked us to put together a tutorial, she told us to think about anything, any task, and work out a way to present the information to someone else. "Stretch yourself" was her only guidance. So, I thought that making our beads into stitch markers would be a nice tutorial. I set up the camera and started. Sadly, however, I neglected to factor in the disruption two 11 year old children can have on your plans! It took many takes, and in the end I settled for the best of a bad bunch! The end result sees my hands wander out of frame often, but you can't hear the kids hollering and having fun, so it's the lesser of two evils!

It's been a fortnight filled with helping. At knit night a couple of weeks ago, one of the ladies came in wearing a Leftie by Martina Bhem. Much cooing over it ensued and Karen decided she must make one! It is, after all, an excellent way to use up all of those sock yarn scraps. Karen got stuck! She emailed me for help with the pattern. So, I brought up the pattern on my ipad one morning, got two balls of sock yarn that hadn't been put away yet (*coughs*) and cast on. I followed the pattern past the first leaf, making notes as I did to clarify the pattern instructions and emailed them to Karen and ripped out the swatch I was playing with. Karen informed me she is flying with the pattern now. I was left thinking of all the colour and yarn combinations that Leftie would look good in. I was reminded of the yarn I used to make Inspira and Mara's Mitts. How lovely would the body of the shawl look in that dark fading black colour of my Inspira? And those leaves would look great in Mara's yarn. Hmmm, I thought. All of my sock yarn scraps have been made into gigantic magic cakes for my sock so new yarn may have to be purchased (*coughs* again). A quick trip into town saw me return with a black ball of Jawoll Magic and a gorgeous 50g ball of bright rainbow happiness that I promptly lost the tag of! Both are singles, and are knitting up lovely. I'm happy with the results, but picking up wraps when your yarn is a single who's sole purpose in life is to split and cause probems has proved tricky! But I'm inspired to keep on knitting, both Zena (littleyellowuke on rav, instagram and twitter) and Deb of the World of Imagination blog are also knitting it and their progress photos are inspirational.

I'm loving how the leaves are slowly changing colour. I'm also weaving in my ends as I go. The idea of leaving them all to the last minute fills me with dread.

I've spent a great deal of time on my sock yarn blanket. I'm about halfway through one of those giant magic cakes I mentioned earlier. I've got another two made and I'm thinking that when these are finished, I'm going to call the blanket done.

Since I last wrote, Mel of the Single Handed Knits blog and video podcast has had a revelation. She's moving away from that blog and has started another. With Mel Dot com is a thing of beauty. The photography is nothing short of stunning and, as always, Mel writes in a wonderfully inspirational way.To celebrate her new blog, she's designed a lovely shawlette. She has been giving the instructions for the pattern in weekly instalments. I did some stash diving and came up with a ball of Opal Say it with Flowers. I'd scored it a while back on ebay for a song, but didn't really know what I'd do with it. It's a hand dyed effect yarn with red and blue mixing in the middle to make shades of purple. I wasn't sure how it would knit up in Mel's pattern Menehune. It's knit with an applied edging and I was concerned that I'd end up with odd striping as I knit that edging. As it stands, I'm really happy with my progress. Here I am, Sunday afternoon, and I'm already waiting for the next set of instructions just hours after Mel released this week's video.

On the Horizon -

I'm hoping to at least finish my Thanks socks this week, I hope to make progress on Ben's socks too.
Mel has thrown another WIP-shaped spanner in the works! Tomorrow sees her release another pattern. Hapa is another garter stitch shawl with fabulous colour work. I've caked my yarn ready.

I'm using two skeins of hand spun. The blue is spun from BFL batts I bought at Woolclip a while back. The red is Merino from Forest Fibres.

So between going back to work and having new shawl goodness to work on, I'm not sure that my existing WIP's will see much action!

Have a great week,
See ya!
Ellen x

P.S. This week's photography is courtesy of Ben. He wanted to help. I think he did a good job! naks Ben x Love ya!! ;-)

Sunday, 3 August 2014

If my head wasn't screwed on........

I'd forget it!!!





Good morning good people! How the devil are you all?

This morning the blog comes from the Wirral. I'm visiting my mum and dad for a couple of days at the start of my holiday. 

So far my holiday has been a catalogue of errors. Starting on Friday night. 

We had had a lovely night with Matthew's family, catching up and having a great fun. It was the first time in ages I'd had more than one glass of wine. In fact, I'd probably had three and was a little bit tiddled if I'm honest. It got to about 10 pm and we decided to go home, Ben was getting tired and we had to pack up and leave for my mum' handy on the Saturday morning. 

I had just settled down on the sofa with a SOFT drink when my mobile rang. 'Unknown' came up on the screen. I have to say I was in two minds as to whether or not to answer it. I did and a nice gentleman from Cumbria Constabulary advised me that the alarm was going off at  the health centre where I work. There was an unsecured door. I had to go down and sort it. 

Thankfully Matthew hadn't had three glasses of wine and was able to drive me down. So, rather than getting ready for bed as he'd planned, poor Ben was bundled into the car and we all set off to town. Thankfully I work just 5 minutes away. As we pulled up into the car park I could see two police vans and a police car parked up. I realised that this was not going to be a quick job! I introduced myself to the officers and asked if they'd give me a lift home when this was all sorted. I told the boys to go home and settled in for a long wait. 

"Why the wait?" I hear you ask. The police officer who seemed to be in charge had decided to call in a dog to search the premises before he'd go in and see what was happening. We were stood in Penrith. The dog in question was in Workington about 40 miles away! Thankfully said dog had a handler who had a car, so he was about 30 minutes away. 

I chatted with the police officers while we waited for the dog van to arrive. Once it did, what appeared to be a pre-pubescent boy got out! (Dear lord, I felt SO old at this point!) he was lovely and jolly and had a huge Alsatian dog who was excited to get to work. A brief search later and it was deemed safe for us to go in and try to sort the alarm out. 

At this point I should state that I only have a key for one door in the health centre and for my pharmacy. Each doctors practice and clinic have their own alarm systems to which I have no access. All I could do was to make sure it wasn't my alarm going off (it wasn't! Phew!) and lock the offending door behind me. 

At this point I'd like sympathise with the good folk of Penrith because I think that alarm will have sounded on and off all night! Sorry guys, but there was nothing I could do about it! I couldn't even work out which alarm was going off!!

A lovely young police officer gave me a lift home in a police van. I'd like at this point to clarify I was sat in the FRONT of the van, not in the back ;-) I could feel the curtains twitch as the van pulled up outside my house at close to midnight!!

A great start to my holidays. 

Saturday saw the usual state of affairs start. The Met Office issued a severe weather warning for rain and floods. Sigh!

I wanted to get down to my mum's as soon as possible before the weather got too bad, so I rushed around the house, packing up bits and bobs I'd need for the trip. Clothes, toiletries, knitting. You know..... just the essentials! 

On the way to my mum's I needed to stop in at Manchester. It isn't strictly on the way, but it's close enough. Matthew and I had decided to buy a kitchen cabinet on eBay. The gent selling it had delivered a kitchenette to us a while ago, but this time the purchase coincided with my trip to mum's so I decided to pick it up. This side trip added an hour onto our journey, so I was doubly keen to set off. I cleaned the windscreen, topped up the fluids and off we jolly well went. 

As we got further south the rain became heavier, in places I was only travelling at 40 miles an hour because of the surface water. We arrived safely and the unit fitted snug as a bug in a rug in the back of my car. I discovered you can lift the bottom bits of the seats lift up so the backs lie flat! Every day is a school day! 

After a really hairy trip down the M53 we arrived safely at mum's and unpacked the car. 
Travel bag - check.  
Hand bag - check
Knitting bag - 
Knitting bag - 

OH! Holy yarn balls batman?!?!?!?! 

Where was my knitting bag!?

I text Matthew, praying I'd left it at home, because otherwise I'd left it on a pavement in Manchester!!

Thankfully (ish) I'd left it at home!  This put me in the horrible position of having NO knitting for the next 3 days?!?!?!?!? 

This is BAD people!!!!

There was nothing for it! I'd have to find a yarn shop! I can't last 3 whole days with no knitting! It can't be done!!

Off we went to Voirrey. It is a craft shop in Brimstage, a small village on the Wirral. Once upon a time Voirrey was a wonderful shop filled to the rafters with cross stitch kits, yarn and other fabric goodness. My heart sank as we approached the door to find shelving outside with loom bands and other cheap tatt on. This didn't bode well. 

As you enter the shop on the left hand side used to be where all the silks and fabric could be found for cross stitch, now it was full of children's toys. If you turned right you used to find the cross stitch kits stretching as far as your eye could see, now they adorn one wall the rest of the space being filled with assorted bits an bobs, none of which was overly inspiring. 

You travel further into the shop and you still find the fabric emporium, the one area that remains unchanged and still lovely. You move further in to find the yarn section. I was bitterly dissapointed. If you look at their website you'd have positive,excited thoughts about the yarns they stock, the notions and patterns. Sadly this wasn't backed up by what my eyes saw. Most of the shelves had a single row of  yarn on. Some were completely empty. The yarn was uninspired. Lots of acrylic, cheap and cheerful yarn. They did have a selection of sock yarn, but the rest was that icky stuff that essentially knits itself into frilly scarves that have never seen a sheep! 

I picked up a ball of Regia self striping sock yarn, but they didn't have DPN's in a size I could happily knit up socks with so I set it down. The only sizes they had where 4mm and 2.75mm. So I plumped for the 2.75mm and a ball of Rico Superba Country 6ply. It's a subtly variegated black/purple colour. 

I also picked up some lovely sparkly buttons and some fabric I'm hoping to use to appliqué onto my Camp Aloha Friends skirt. 

On the whole I'm sure you've picked up that I was dissapointed with my trip. It strikes me that Voirrey is confused about what it wants to be. It's spreading it's resources too thin, some focus is required so that it does a few things well, rather than trying to be all things to all men. 

But still, I had one project to work on now, and I cast on a vanilla sock as my mum drove us home. I was rather chuffed with myself actually. I managed to do a Turkish cast on using DPN's. Happy days. 

The afternoon was spent raiding my mum's paper crafting stash. I wanted to make some tags. I'd made some with bits and bobs I had at home earlier at camp and I was happy with what I'd come up with. I knew that I wanted to play more with the idea, so after picking some papers, cards and embelishments Mum, Ben and I settled down to some crafting. 

We had lots of fun. I also made some writing paper. I can't wait to sit quietly and use those sheets and send them off to some special folk. 

Feeling the love - 

In my bag that is languishing at home are the projects I wanted to share with you, so photos will follow next week. 

I worked on Ben's socks this week, I turned the heel and I'm now working up the leg. Thankfully Ben doesn't want the socks to be too long, so in a couple of rows I'll start the ribbing. 

I also worked on the shawl I'm designing. I'm still enjoying the project and I'm happy with how it's turning out. Hopefully I'll have a pattern written up ready to be tested sooner rather than later. 

I also started another pair of socks. I am taking no responsibility for these socks what so ever! I received a message from 'xraymd' Andrea asking for some pointers for knitting the Thanks socks. We've exchanged a few messages, and I decided to knit along with her. I'm knitting the pattern as originally written by Regina Satta this time, the only modifications I'm making are in the way I'm making the increases and decreases. I love this sock. The way it's constructed makes it feel like a super quick knit. I've turned my first heel and I'm now racing down the foot. I even did the heel as written, my first heel flap and gusset since I discovered the Fish Lips Kiss Heel so many months ago! I'm using 15cm DPN's that I bought at Woolfest and the gusset is so much easier to work on them than the usual DPN's I use for socks. I think I'll keep my old ones for FLK heels and use the longer 15cm ones if I'm wanting to make gussets - fewer problems with stitches falling off and running for the hills!!

Last week I took the plunge and fulled the BFL/silk singles. I wound it onto my niddy noddy and I was pleasantly surprised that it only broke twice. I was convinced it would fall apart. I put plenty of ties on it and then gave it the shock of it's life! Ben helped me as I plunged it from hot to cold water. He especially liked thwacking it on the veranda rail.
Doesn't look like much right now does it?!

 I had put the skein in my knitting bag along with my niddy noddy so that I could re-skein and measure it. I suppose that will have to wait now! Ggggrrrr

Any hoo

On the horizon - 

Who knows!?

The next 2 weeks are my own. I've no real plans, so I'm excited to see what I will get done

On the crafty front, I've got 2 pairs of socks to finish, 2 shawls, a skein of yarn to re-skein and measure, a skirt to make, a project bag to weave fabric for and then put together and who knows what Mel has in store for us in August. I can't wait!!!

I'll keep you posted

Have a great week

Ellen x