Sunday, 6 December 2015

Obsessive Compulsive Knitting

I had planned to write last weekend but I was completely absorbed in my knitting.
Since I last wrote to you, which must be nearly a month ago now, I've been busily knitting on mKAL's. It's the first time I've ever managed to keep up with them.

I did try to knit along with the Advent  Calendar Scarf 2011 KAL. It's a lovely idea. Every day in December a pattern is released to knit, typically it's only about 40 rows, and there's a repeated pattern that separates each day. I tried to keep up, but it's a really busy time and I fell further and further behind! I failed. I tried again in 2012 and failed again. The scarves everyone made were gorgeous and there were so many proud folk wearing their scarves on Christmas day. Me? I think my 2013 effort is still languishing somewhere waiting to be frogged. So I decided that mKAL's just aren't for me.

Then Wooley Wormhead emailed me with notification of this year's mKAL hat-a-long. A hat is a teeny tiny project. I thought I had a fighting chance of keeping up. I did!!! I love the results, I did leave off the pom-pom though. I'm not a pom-pom kind of gal.
I love the fit of this hat, the split brim means it sits wonderfully low on my head even when I have my hair in a pony tail.

And because why would you knit one mKAL when you can knit two.......... Stephen West started his annual mKAL. I must confess that I didn't pay much attention to it at the start. I do like some of his older patterns, but his more recent designs have been a little 'out there' for my tastes. Then people started posting their progress pictures on Instagram. The pattern 'The Doodler' looked so lovely in myriad variations. I just had to cast on. I was a week behind but I didn't care! I picked my yarn and set off. I can tell you now that the pattern is completely released it's a wonderful mix of short rows and streaks of colour. Clue 2 included a massive cable. I must confess to being rather nervous that the 37 stitch cable would snap my wooden needles - it was tight!!

I love the results, I finished it last Tuesday, blocked it over night and proudly wore it to work on the Wednesday. I've had lots of lovely comments about it since.

All this mKAL knitting has meant that bugger all got done! I mean nothing!!!! My housework has been done only in such a manner as the house wouldn't be condemned as insanitary. Food was prepared after a fashion - there was a lot of re-heating going on!! 

Then a few days ago my mum rang me and booked a visit next weekend to exchange Christmas gifts!!! EEEEKKKK!!!! 

I hadn't even thought about Christmas! I mean, I have been picking up bits and bobs as I've seen them, but I haven't put serious effort into preparing. 
Shine on!!! This time in 3 weeks it'll all be over bar the fighting!!!

I need to get a wiggle on!!

In other news the weather has been wreaking havoc. The past 48 hours have been horrendous. Over in the UK the Met Office has decided it would be a cunning plan to name storms. Well, I wish they'd pack it in. We're only up to D in the alphabet and each one has been worse than the last. I'm sure the storms have gotten worse since they started naming them!! 
Any how, storm Desmond has ruined many thousand's of peoples' Christmas. In Cumbria the Met Office issued a Red Severe Weather warning for rain and an Amber Severe Weather Warning for wind yesterday and today. I've not seen anything like it for years. 

Friday night was the Awards Evening and Christmas dinner for the Archery club Ben and I are members of. It was held in a hotel about 30 miles north of me out in the country. As I left work on Friday night the wind was picking up and the police were asking people not to travel if they could avoid it. I really didn't want to miss the dinner and I didn't want to lose the money I'd paid for the meal, but at the end of the day it was cheaper to lose that money than replace the car! If it was summer time and I didn't have to drive all that way in the dark, I might have given the trip a go. As it stood, I didn't want to turn a corner on a twisty, narrow country road and find a tree or a flood in the dark. So I stayed at home.

Yesterday is my usual day to do the grocery shop. I looked out of my window and couldn't see Penrith for the rain coming down. I said to Matthew I'd better go in the landrover as the Met Office and the Highways Agency were both saying that travelling conditions had worsened overnight. Matthew very kindly said he'd take me shopping.

We left at about 11:30 and the water had already overwhelmed the land drains on the site. As we travelled into town, there was a significant flood on the road, but we were ok in the Landie. I wouldn't have liked to make the journey in my car! We were only in town for an hour, but what a difference in that hour! 
Sorry for the poor quality of the photos, but we where driving over the bridge, so we couldn't really slow down for a proper shot.

The River Eamont broke it's bank on the Penrith side and was lapping at the houses closest to it, the flood on the road got significantly worse, and the land drains on our site completely gave up making our access road into a new river. We've just collectively spent thousands of pounds replacing those drains and resurfacing the roads. Well, now all that new lovely road is in a culvert at the end of the site! It's carnage.

As the day progressed the weather worsened, reports on the net told of flooding in the local towns, Keswick flood defences failed, as did Cockermouth, Kendal and Carlisle. The damage is horrendous. Thousands of people have been evacuated and their homes ruined.

This is Appleby the river should be behind the white houses!

This is Keswick before the flood defences gave up completely. You can see the water just starting to overflow the walls

 Discretion is the better part of valour and I decided it wasn't worth venturing out last night for Ben's karate Christmas party either.

Our social lives have gone from hero to zero in 48 hours!! 

I am eternally grateful that we have been spared damage, and hopeful that the community can club together to fix what's broken. We've done it before, we'll do it again. Suffice to say tomorrow will be a difficult day at work I think!!!

This morning the dog still needed to be walked so I put on my walking boots and ventured out.

When the dog's gotta go, the dog's gotta go!

Water levels have dropped significantly but all this gravel should be surfacing the road further up the valley!
The water is up to Murphy's chest here. He was unimpressed. 

That lake isn't supposed to be there. That's the run off from the valley. 

Feeling the Love - 

I've already told you about my FO's and what I've been mainly working on these last few weeks, but let me fill in some blanks.

I'd originally promised to clear my WIP's and I have worked on Leftie some..... but not a whole lot! I've added a grand total of five more leaves it! I'm almost half way I think judging by the look of the ball I'm using to knit the leaves.

I also culled a project. While I was waiting for the boys to finish faffing so we could go on holiday back in May I cast on my Thankful shawl using some handspun. The handspun I picked was a cobweb laceweight I spun from LongDrawJames on etsy (I don't think he's dying at the moment). It was one of the first things I made and I didn't have the sense to record much vital information about it! I have no idea what the fibre content is, possibly polworth. All I know is that I got 1200 yards!! 

Originally I decided to knit about half the weight of the yarn into the body and then start the lace patterning. I must confess to giving up on that idea when my stitch count on the body got over 300! I decided to change to the lace work early. The more I worked on it, the more I didn't like what I  was looking at. I went down to 3.5mm needles because the yarn was so fine, but even so, I didn't like the fabric. So I ripped it out. Carefully!!! Ripping out handspun is no fun people!!!

Then of course I had the dilema of what to make with the yarn now! I certainly didn't want to re-skein it and put it back into stash. The whole idea of casting the thing on was to use up my oldest handspun.  
I searched Ravelry for a shawl in cobweb weight that took my fancy and I came up with Happily Ever After by Meilindis. It's a delightful half pi shawl based on Elizabeth Zimmerman's formula. I love how the various patterns flow into each other and the leaf edging is gorgeous. The projects online are stunning and I knew it had to be mine. I bought the pattern (a measly £3.55 - all that work for so little money, Meilindis has sold herself short!!) and immediately I  started to read through....



There are nupps!!!!!!!!! I hate nupps!!!!!!!!!!

I've tried a few times to get along with nupps, but they just want to break my needles!! They are evil!!!

But I'm determined not to be disheartened. I will once again try the nupp. And if they defeat me, I will replace the little swines with beads!! This shawl will be mine!!!

One day!

I've also worked on the yellow and blue socks I told you about last time. I'm really taken with how they're knitting up. I really need to get a wiggle on and get them finished before Christmas but things just keep distracting me!!

I also had a plea from one of the girls at work, her grandson needed a hat. A pom-pom hat to be specific! Do you remember my comment at the beginning of this post? I'm REALLY not a pom-pom kinda gal! Not only do I not wear pom-poms, I don't make them either! In my opinion they're an abject waste of yarn! But how could I say no?!

I found a nice pattern on Rav Cute Mock Cable Hat. It comes in 4 sizes and is well written. It took me all of half a day to knit the smallest size and one whole evening of grumbling and trimming to make the pom-pom

I do have concerns that the weight of that pom-pom might give the little boy neck ache! But we'll see. If push comes to shove I can make another, smaller one! In my defence Teddy's mum did say she wanted a big pom-pom. 

Now that the KAL's are finished I was quite content to work on my WIP's. I thought I'd crack out the granny square blanket that's been ongoing for a good year now if not longer. I'm making lots of little squares from 3 different colours of aran weight and my plan is to edge them all with a fourth colour and crochet them together using that colour too. I'm working my way through the second of the three 500g balls - I think I'm well over half way through it. I love that I can wip up a square in 5 minutes flat! I'm trying to resist the urge to start edging them. 

My original plan was to make all the squares, throw them all in a big bin liner to mix them up and then just take one at a time, edge it and sew it together with the next one. I want the colours to be as random as I can make them. I know that if I'm not careful I'll try to make a pretty pattern and then I'll be there all day trying to decide which colour to use next!!

So there I was merrily crocheting away and then...... BAM!!!!!!....... I wound up casting on another shawl! 
Don't judge me!! It's a mission of mercy. A friend of mine needs a new shawl. Who am I to leave a person in need? It had to be done!!

So I cast on Descent Into Madness by Josh Ryks. His patterns are gorgeous, I've been eyeing them up for a while, so I have to confess it didn't take much time to decide to cast on. I've named the project Madness Healed on my Ravelry board and I really hope I can get it off to the recipient sooner rather than later.I started last night and I'm thoroughly enjoying the knit. The shawl starts with garter stitch colourwork and then progresses into a slipped stitch pattern. It's edged with an icord which gives the shawl great lines and form. While knitting The Doodler I learned to hide my ends in the icord so that's my plan for this project too. At the moment there aren't many ends, but I'm carrying the yarn I'm not using up inside the icord too. If there's a way to avoid weaving in ends I'm all for it!! Huzzah!

On the Horizon - 

As Christmas approaches we go into silly season at work. The pharmacy will be closed for 4 days in a row and many of my customers are convinced that disaster will strike and therefore they must order in every medication they possibly can - just in case! This means that over the next few weeks my workload will double, my start time will get earlier and my lunch breaks will dissapear. Consequently my knitting time will become more scarse and much more precious. 
I really do need to finish those socks, but if push comes to shove the loveley lady in question is OK with an IOU! I'd really rather not have to wrap them still on the needles, but hey ho!

I want to make good progress with Madness healed.

So my priorities are now the socks and the shawl. Then after that, I'll finish that bloody Leftie!! If it kills me!! 


I've had a cunning plan.

A week or so ago I had an email from Susan Pandorf - you know, the clever lady behind the awesome Even Star and the epic In Dreams shawls. She as released another pattern! It's called Hymn Muil and it's gorgeous!!! It's a triangular shawl worked side to side with no beads but plenty of lace!

So here's my plan - why don't we cast it on together!? It was New Year's Day 2013 when I started Evenstar, so why not cast on Emyn Muil this New Year's Day 2016?
Go on!!!......... You know you want to!
Head over to the Evenstar KAL group on Ravelry and say hello, join in, cast on.
Once again this a no pressure KAL there's no time scale, the group only serves to cheer you on, cheer you up and cheer your results at the end.
Wish me luck

Have a lovely few weeks,
I hope to have another post up before Christmas, but don't hold your breath!

Ellen x