Sunday, 8 November 2015

Bet You Weren't Expecting This!

To be fair, neither was I.

I'd always planned to blog today, I think I've decided that fortnightly works for me, but I wasn't sure I'd actually put fingers to keyboard!

I've pottered about over the last 2 weeks, being kind to my back and not really being very active. This is bad for the weight loss and good for my back to heal. So today I plan to get back in the pool. I had planned to go earlier in the week, but I really wasn't confident that I could haul my arse back out of the water once I got in! 

I'd been really nervous about getting on the scales. Three weeks of inactivity was going to take it's toll and I was not looking forward to finding out how much damage had been done.  As it turns out I've put on just 2 pounds. I'm happy with that. It could have been so much worse! Now I just have to get back into the swing of things and get those 2lb shifted.

This weekend has been a real worry. Ben has been felled by a particularly nasty virus.  He told me he was sick on Friday morning. Being the good mother I am, I said "That's nice, what do you want for breakfast?" He said he'd have coco pops. I told him to get his uniform on - after all, if you can eat breakfast, you can go to school! Turns out he was actually ill and not wanting to skive off school on a Friday! I got a phone call in work at about 11am asking me to take him home, he wasn't well.  Oops! 

He was nodding off in the car, I dropped him at his Nana's and he slept all day. He slept all Saturday too. This morning I tempted him out of bed with some lentil soup. So hopefully he's on the mend, his throat is still sore, but he's looking better.

Autumn is here with a vengence. The rain has been biblical today and the trees are looking more naked today than they did yesterday. The wind and rain has beaten the leaves from their branches. 
While I walked the dog for a walk yesterday I found this - 

Itsn't it pretty? I have been looking for edible 'shrooms to no avail.

Feeling the love - 

A good while back a bought an antique carbouy from one of the girls at work. It has to be a good 40 years old, if not more. It was used to store distilled water in the pharmacy. I knew I had to have it as soon as she brought it in. I had no idea what I wanted to do with it, but I wanted to keep this piece of pharmacy history. 
Now, my house is tiny. I mean really small! So buying 'stuff' that serves no purpose than to take up space and generally create clutter is not a good plan. This glass jar isn't small either! It's 18 inches tall and 34 inches in diameter. It's a wonderful tear-drop shape and is hand blown so there are imperfections in the glass. Syl had kept it in her loft for years and had tried to make a terrarium out of it so it was a tad mucky inside. I brought it home and Matthew just raised his eyebrows and sighed. Then I dropped the bombshell on him that I wanted him to turn a wooden stand for it! He sighed again. He had a look at his turned pieces on our side board and suggested I use a bowl he'd already made. I wasn't keen, because they're all quite deep and I wanted the tear-drop shape to be seen and celebrated rather than hidden in it's stand. Then I turned it upside down, so that the neck of the carbouy was inside the bowl. We had a collective light bulb moment! It looked just like a giant light bulb!!!! So, I bought some LED Christmas tree lights and hey presto!!

Isn't it fab? Matthew says he'll drill a hole in the bottom of the bowl so that the wire can come out there rather than sticking up out of the side as it is now, but I'm really rather taken with it!

On the crafting front, I've been a good girl and a bad girl!  Remember last time I told you I wanted to clear my ridiculous WIP list?

Let's start by what was missing from the WIP photo last week.

had been working on a jumper. A while ago I dyed up some yarn to make Hana Hou.  I got almost the whole garment done when I ran out of yarn. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any more of the base to dye up another skein. So I thought I'd knit the next size down. I have lost weight after all and the cardigan is a chunky, loose knit. I set about knitting Hana Hou again. The snag is that when I dyed the yarn, I split it into 2 saucepans. They conducted heat differently and the yarn came out 2 slightly different shades - one was more blue than the other. Because of this I knit with 3 balls of yarn. Usually when you're using hand dyed yarn, alternating 2 skeins is sufficient to stop colour pooling and obvious ball changes. I swatched with 2 balls and found the fabric to be too stripy for my liking. So I tried 3 balls. It worked a treat, the fabric was lovely. The snag is that alternating 3 skeins is a faff. Progress was slow and arduous. It got to the point that I really didn't enjoy the knit. I frogged. I have a different yarn for Hana Hou, so one day I'll cast it back on.
I wandered Ravelry to find a sweater with the yardage I had.  I found Carrie. I loved the chunky cowl neck and the simple diamond patterning on the body to break the monotony of so much stocking stitch. I cast it on at the beginning of October and was working on it steadily. I alternated 2 skeins and was desperate to finish. The bonus of being laid up for so long meant I rattled through and got it finished within a month!

I'm really happy with the end result.

I've worked on some of the massive WIP heap too! Jean's hat is finished. It was a challenging knit. Not difficult per se, but challenging. Sumner consists of tucks in the fabric. You work stocking stitch then a few rounds of purl. Next you pick up all of the stitches from the last stocking stitch round and knit these stitches together with the live stitches. The snag is that you pick up a hundred and odd stitches using a circular needle inside the hat. To start with I used a 2.5mm circular needle. 

This proved tricky. trying to pick up the stitches with the same size needle was tight. It took me an hour to work just one round! Time for a re-think. I was knitting the body on DPN's so the last round of stocking stitch I knit onto the circular, then I worked the first row of purls stitches by picking up a stitch off the circular and working back onto the DPN's while leaving the circular behind.

This meant that the stitches were ready on the circular needle waiting to be knitted together with the live stitches. This still took an hour to do. OK, so another re-think later and I decided to use a much smaller circular needle to pick up those pesky stitches - I used a 2mm circular instead and things progressed much more quickly. Don't get me wrong, it was still fiddly, but I got quicker with each repeat.

I also had two pairs of socks on the needles. I wasn't overly feeling the love for either of them to be fair. The brown ones with the travelling purl stitch had more mistakes than enough. In the end I frogged them both. I cast on something new. Yes, yes!! I know I said I was clearing the WIP's but in my defense it was a net decrease of ONE project! I cast on iSanquar by Nathan Taylor. I've been watching his videos on YouTube and thoroughly enjoyed them. Nathan's thing is double knitting, his patterns are awesome. One day I will give it a whirl, but in the mean time, I had 2 balls of sock yarn and an itch for colourwork. I had ripped out Jean's colourwork hat because it drove me mad, but I had this itch and it just wouldn't go away. 

I had to modify the pattern significantly because Nathan wrote it for the smaller iPhone 5. I'd just upgraded mine to the 6s plus so it's wider and much longer. I charted my pattern and set off. Using the brown as the base colour and the Opal self patterning yarn for the colourwork. 
Use self patterning sock yarn for colourwork!!!!!

Can you see the purple?
You can't!!! Honestly!! The purple as exactly the same colour value as the brown so it blends in a treat!!! Which...... funnily enough, wasn't the look I was going for!!! GGGRRRR  
Having said that I persevered. After all, it's just for me and it was my first real attempt at patterned colourwork. 
As a little aside - Sanquhar is a town just into Scotland which is famous for having the oldest working post office in the world, but also for their two-coloured patterned gloves. Traditionally the gloves are black and white or navy and cream, but other colours have been used too. The patterns are all named e.g the Midge and the Fly, The Duke, Shepherd's Paid and Rose. The gloves are typically knit on very small needles usually less than 2mm in diameter.

My phone sock was worked on a 2mm circular Knit Pro symphonie wooden needle. It turns out that my tension is far too tight and I managed to snap the thing! Thankfully I had a metal Addi 2mm needle to use instead. I was very good, weaving in my floats on the back. I kept sizing up the work and trying it on my phone. I quickly realised that the colourwork was once again really tight and things were going to be very snug. I knew that I couldn't increase the number of stitches because that would have made the sock too big and the patterns look out of place, so I prayed that a good hard block would cure my sizing issues. And what do you know!? A bar of Lindt chocolate is just the right size to block an iPhone sock on!

You really can't see the details of the patterns thanks to that pesky Opal yarn, but at the top, below the ribbing are my initials! Honestly!!!

Still, for a first attempt I'm happy with it. I do think I'll be knitting another mind you. I'll use two solid colours this time and I might go up a needle size to try and make the tension a little less dense.  I'll also try really hard to relax, hopefully that should loosen things up a tad too.

Now here comes the confession - 

I may have cast on a lot of things I shouldn't! 

I was feeling the Nathan love and cast on Wuppertal. I used that pesky Opal yarn held double to make a DK-ish weight. Nathan says he knit his in 4 hours on a coach trip, mine took a little longer than that, but I'm happy with the results. It's going in the Christmas gift drawer. I made the ribbing a deeper than the pattern called for and I'm glad I did as it would have been rather neat otherwise.

Again, that self patterning yarn means you can't make out the details of the pattern, but there's a rather nice cabled section on the hat. It made the knitting fly with a short 4 round repeat, before I knew it, I was done!

That's not all........ I may have cast on Woolly Wormhead's mystery hat too. I cracked out the first clue in an evening. I'm using left over yarn from my Carrie jumper and I'm loving the texture of the garter stitch. I decided that I wasn't going to alternate the 2 shades this time, mainly because I've no idea how the hat is constructed, so I don't know how easy alternating skeins is going to be. Instead I've decided that I'll alternate for a few rows before I need to join new yarn.

Spoiler alert!!!!

Well, to be fair, it could be anything so hopefully it's not too much of a spoiler!! I won't be posting more photos though, until all the clues are released.

Not content with casting on 2 new projects and not touching any of my languishing WIP's I cast on another!!!!! (hangs head in shame)

How could I resist though!? Mel is hosting a KAL in her 6 Bits Storybooks group on Ravelry. It has to be the most laid back KAL in history. Knit something from her Unearth magazine... or not! Yes, you read correctly. The KAL runs from the 2nd November to the 2nd January; start to knit one of the patterns from the magazine with no pressure to finish. Post your progress in the group and you could win goodies. If you finish, great! If not, great!! If you just cheer folk on using Instagram, great!! You are entered for a prize even if you don't knit a stitch and cheer for everyone else! How cool is that?

I cast on the Unearth Mitts. I used some Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply in a rather sweet dusty lilac colour. To my mind it's rather pink, but the ball band assures me the colour is lilac. The mitts have a really interesting construction being knit flat, seamed and then the cuff is worked in the round. I had them cast off within 3 days, and those were working days mind you - there was less than 10 hours work in them. I love them. They're gorgeous, so sweet. Despite how they look in the photo, they are the same length! Promise.

Last weekend I went to walk the dog, recently I've been yomping the dog - the poor thing has to really run to keep up - his little, short legs mean that my brisk walk is a flat run for him! Last weekend though, my back was still feeling a tad fragile, so I decided that I'd knit and walk.

Disaster!!!!! I had no socks on the needles! After all, I'd frogged the only 2 pairs I was working on. I knew I didn't want to knit commercial yarn so I dug out a bright skein from my happy skein pile. It's from A Stash Addict who isn't dying at the moment. 

It's a lovely BFL/nylon blend in the Tripping Peacock colourway.

It's lime green and a teal/blue colour. I was a bit concerned as I caked the yarn. I untwisted the skein and put it on my swift. I'm careful about undoing knots on the ties rather than cutting them off because I have been known to cut more than the tie (you aren't alone Mel!) When I removed the ties, I noticed a pale section on the yarn where the tie had been a bit too tight during they dying process.

I did worry that it would show up on the socks, but I needn't have done, they're working up well and I love the fact that the colours aren't pooling. I don't mind pooling, don't get me wrong, but I love how these colours are working together.

My caston-itis is assuaged. I have returned to the WIP's.

I have mostly knit on Leftie as I promised I would last time. I really should have counted my leaves so I know how much progress I've made. Doh!!

Ah well, I currently have 23, so now I can see just what progress I make when I next write. 

I've also picked up the Sun Rays shawl. I've done 2 rows and made no visual progress to speak of so there's no point really showing you a photo. Good lord it takes some knitting! Even the rest rows take ages to get around. I have a measly 960 stitches. The last round had a gut wobbling 2200!! What madness is this!?

There has been no love for any other projects. Oh...wait a minute, that's a lie.... I added ONE whole mitred square to my blanket. 

So that's all I have.

I promise to work on my WIP's and my waistline!

See you all next time

Ellen x