Sunday, 15 May 2016

I will be charging for autographs

Good Afternoon All!!!

How are you all keeping? I am well.

The sun is shining as it has pretty much all week. It's been gloriously warm in sunny Cumbria this week. Needless to say it turned chilly on Friday, just in time for the weekend, but at least the sun is still in a mostly blue sky.

There is nothing in this whole world that beats getting two loads of washing dry on the line by lunchtime now is there?!

It's been a rather fabulous week here. Well, work has been utterly uneventful (which is fabulous, trust me!). The Monday after I wrote last we all trolled a few juctions down the motorway to visit 1818 Antiques. They had a general sale and a music sale on. Matthew decided we should go and have a look.

We had browsed the catalogue before we set off and had an idea of some items we'd like to have a go bidding on.

This was our first auction (not the last!!) so our adrenaline and excitement levels were high..... well, mine and Matthew's levels were high. Ben was utterly nonplus . I must say at this point though, that Ben was so very patient. He wasn't overly keen about going, he was ripped from his bed at 7am so that we could set off by 9. There was an item he liked, but other than that he'd have much rather stayed at home and played on his X-box.

I registered for a bidding card and we had a first hand look at the items we'd decided to have a go at winning.

Here's were it gets good........ this auction was going to be filmed!!!! Antiques Road Trip was calling in and auctioning off the items the contestants had bought during that leg of the trip. Matthew and I had spent some time looking at the catalogue trying to work out which items might have been bought by the celebs. Matthew had a good idea, and liked the look of one of the items.

In the end, we'd decided that we were going to bid on a microscope (for Ben) , a canteen (for Ben to store his precious things in), a pewter plate (Matthew thought this was a Road Trip item), a mixed lot of jewellery (there was a couple of rather nice stones in amongst some tat),some rather tatty looking bits of watch (because Matthew liked the look of one of the watches), and a hi-fi system.

We sat down ready for the auction to begin. In front of us and slightly to the left was some reserved seating which was obviously for the turns. I worked out that we'd be out of shot and that was fine by me. I got comfy and got out my knitting.  Well, what self respecting knitter would head out for a day sat down and not bring a knitting project!?

So the auction began. It was really rather good! Even though Matthew did most of the bidding for us, I enjoyed the thrill of the chase. About halfway through the celebs appeared and we knew their items must be coming up. I liked the look of a little lead token. It had a cute donkey on the front of it. It had an estimate of £30-50. The bidding started and at the last minute I decided to have a go. The bidding got to £40 and I stopped, I really didn't want to pay more than that for it. I carried on knitting. A couple of minutes after the item finished, a young lady with a clip-board approached me and said that the token had been one of the items on the show, and they'd filmed me bidding! I had to sign a form saying it was ok for them to include the footage.

Matthew set about bidding for the plate and won it! He signed his form and lo! We're both going to be on telly!!!!!! If you form an orderly queue I'll sign autographs ;-)

The program will air in September this year, so you all need to keep your eyes peeled for the mad knitting lady in the centre of the room!!

While the auction was on, Matthew decided he'd like to get the autographs of the 2 contestants but we didn't have a pen. He wouldn't go find one, so that was the end of that.
Ben was starting to get fidgety, and we'd bid on most of the items we wanted, so I took him for a wander outside.
Out in the carpark I saw the 2 gents in question having a cup of coffee. Now at this point I should point out that I am not in the habit of harassing strangers. My idea of celeb spotting is to spot them, say "OOH, there's such and such!" and let everyone else go get selfies and autographs. Well, this time I don't know what came over me! I grabbed Ben, and went and said hello. I was apologetic (ish) about interrupting their coffee break, and asked for a photo. They were most obliging and lovely fellows

Here I am with Charles Hanson on the left and James Braxton on the right. All round good eggs!

You are unlikely, however, to see my son. He was there for the whole day, but this is the view we had of him
Just a hood!

Ah well, at least we got him there and he was so good about spending the WHOLE day there!

So onto the crafting

Feeling the love -

My walking *2 socks felt most of the love that Monday. As I said last time, I've got 3 pairs of socks on the go right now, but I wanted to take a pair of socks with me that I didn't have to look at so I could take in all the sights and sounds of the auction. These socks were just at the right point for the trip. I turned the heel on the journey down, and knit the whole leg while we were there! I was so chuffed.
I have since cast on the second toe and I'm slowly working up the foot.

I must confess to having a serious case of second sock syndrome! All three of my sock projects are on to the second sock and I want to work on none of them!

I place the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of Zena aka Little Yellow Uke. In her last episode she talked about wanting short ankle socks for summer. I promptly decided that I must have ankle socks too!! I went stash diving and came up with 2 gorgeous skeins. I must confess now, that I can't remember where I got them from. I think it was a dyer who'd posted on facebook about a sweetie themed box. I just can't for the life of me remember who it was so I can't link them here. If anyone recognises the skeins, please let me know and I'll put a link here for others to find her yarn because it is truly gorgeous!

Don't they just scream summer!?

I made myself promise that I had to clear some WIP's before I can cast on my shortie socks.

I do have an FO for you this week.

I told you last time about Nebulae. I'm so happy that I now have a lovely shawl. I must confess to having doubts that ripping the whole Wingspan shawl out was the best idea, but now Nebulae tells me I made the right decision. The prompt for the KAL was reach for the stars so to add extra sparkle to my Nebula I added beads. I had some 8/0 beads in stash and to be honest they're a bit too small for fingering weight yarn. Some of the beads had too narrow a hole to go over the stitches. I beaded the first K2tog on each row and I think it just gives a subtle twinkle to the finished object.

My poor WIP bag has seen no action at all. I just have no desire to work on the projects in it. BUT! I did pull one project out and frog it. I had set about knitting May Morning by Lost City Knits back in May last year while I was on holiday. It's a lovely triangle shawl with a repeating leaf pattern all over. I chose it last year to make good holiday knitting - a simple repeating pattern and beads to add some interest. I worked on it on the flight home and kept on knitting until it was about 10 inches deep. Then I put it away to work on something else. Since then it just hasn't floated my boat. I've picked it up and put it back down untouched more often than is funny!

Then I got smacked in the face by another stunning Romi Hill pattern! She runs a Pins and Lace club each year. Now this is well out of my league as the yarn, shawl pins and patterns are expensive to import into the UK, but the ebook with the patterns only is more than a good buy. I came across Romi after the first Winter pattern was published, but she release the new Spring pattern last week. It's called Emerald Deep and it's nothing short of breathtaking. I called my project Citrine Deep because my yarn is lovely shades of yellow and green that remind me of citrine stones. The beads match perfectly and I'm too excited for words about knitting it.

Of course sparkly gold washi tape is a must-have for this project!

As soon as the pattern was released I just had to work on it.

The pattern doesn't call for beads, but I decided to bead all of the 3 stitch decreases. I finished the first chart and I'm smitten. I desperately wanted to carry on, but I made myself put it down to finish Nebulae.

Now, however, Nebulae is finished and as soon as I press the publish button here, I'm going to set about knitting the second chart.

I think I'll have to ration myself. I must finish one of my languishing second socks before I move onto chart 3. Another sock before chart 4,etc etc.

I'm in no real rush to finish this, so I really must make sure I get the less sparkly projects finished too,

As I mentioned last time, I am knitting 2 pairs of the same sock pattern. It's my latest pattern and I released it yesterday. It's called A Path Less Travelled and I'm really happy with how it turned out.

I'm offering a coupon code for the rest of May - type 'path2016' at the checkout and the pattern will be yours free, gratis and for nothing. After that it's £1.80. I do hope you like it as much as I do. Please spread the word about the socks and the coupon!

On the horizon-

I will finish some socks (maybe)
I will work on my poor Trillian which has felt no love all week (definitely)
I will work on the stunning fabulousness that is my Citrine deep (hell yes!!)

Well, I need to get a wiggle on. It's just dawned on me that I need to go do the recycling before I can settle down to some serious lace knitting!

I hope you all have a fabulous fortnight

Speak anon!!
Ellen x

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Invisible mending

Before I get into the nub of this week's musings, can I just ask about the weather? I mean, what the what now?!

Last week Cumbria had glorious weather, I think we were one of the warmest places in the UK. This week couldn't be more different. We've had snow on and off all week.

I'm sitting this morning under 2 blankets with my fire blazing. It's freezing.

It's May for crying out loud.

To be fair, I'm sure I can remember this May bank holiday weekend being chilly in the past.
The swallows who arrived a week or so ago must be thinking seriously about going back to Africa!
The daffodils are suffering

Weather rant over - on to the crafty stuff.

The other day I was taking my shoes off and noticed a huge hole in the toe of my sock! It was on the side near my toe decreases. I have no idea how I managed to achieve this because it's not like it would wear through there. I'm not aware that I have razor sharp toe nails either (eugh!!!)

I think it must have got caught on something. These socks are only a couple of years old, they're made from Rico Superba 6 ply, super snuggly and no way near ready to be consigned to the bin. There's no wear anywhere on the sock at all so I decided I needed to rescue them. I had a ratch through my stash because I was sure I hadn't used the scraps from these socks anywhere else. I found the part ball and set about to re-knit the toe.
I originally knit these 2 years ago and I thought at that time I was knitting my socks top down. I thought it would be a doddle to rip out the toe and knit another..... erm......... not so much!

According to my Ravelry project page I knit these on 2.75mm needles. So I used a 2mm needle to pick up the right leg of each stitch the row below what I thought was the first toe decrease.

This was a doddle. The 2mm needle was so easy to slip into each stitch. Once I had each stitch caught on the cable of the needle, I carefully turned the sock inside out so I could unpick the toe. Here's where the delight started. I expected to struggle a little bit because these socks have been on and off my feet for 2 years. I expected to find a bit of felting. This toe stubbornly refused to unzip.

Turns out I knit them toe up! What an eejit!!! I mean, now, when I look at the other sock it's obvious that the toe is increased not decreased. Well, it took some doing, but I unpicked that pesky toe.

I reknit the toe with no problems and kitchenered up the live stitches. All in all it probably took a little over an hour, but now I have a shiny new toe! And you can't tell there was ever a problem

As every my photography is awesome isn't it?! The gorgeous tea towel on the arm of the sofa, the minions tin of stitch markers, the sleeping dog! David Bailey I ain't!!

Any hoo, that's just last night's knitting shenanigans.

It's been a fortnight since I last wrote to you and I have been a busy little bee.
To be fair, I've been a busy been on one particular project for the past 6 weeks, but I haven't been able to post anything on social media. But now the cat is out of the bag and I can share.

Last time I showed you my Shard by Romi Hill. I might have fallen down a bit of a Romi rabbit hole. She launched her 2016 mKAL back at the end of March and I just had to sign up. Her patterns are so pretty and the Ravelry group are a lovely bunch of people. One of the stipulations of the KAL was total media silence until the end of April. The shawl was released in 5 parts. The first 3 were easy to knit, I loved knitting them. Romi stretches your knitting experiences. The fourth clue nearly had me in tears! I was knitting away merrily, I was nearly at the end of the clue when I realised I'd made a mistake. Now at this point I should note that I had a good few stitches on the needles and I don't use lifelines. I absolutely didn't want to rip out all that work and have risk losing some errant yarn overs.

Originally I thought I'd managed to shift the pattern over so I thought I'd be able to drop the stitches involved and knit them back up again.

Can you see that block of knit stitches in the triangle shape? The faggoting each side is supposed to be symmetrical. There's supposed to be 3 lines each side. I thought I'd managed to get 4 on one and 2 on the other, so I dropped down and started to knit back up again.

The sight of this may have made me weep a little, I can't lie! It took me a while to work out just how far I'd ripped down, I tried four times that night to knit it back up, but each time I had lots of yarn left over. There was just too much to block out. It was really awful. It turns out I hadn't shifted the faggoting over, I'd managed to add in a whole extra section.

So there was nothing for it, I had to take the whole shawl off the needles and rip it out. I ripped back about 15 rows. I picked up all the stitches I could see, then I tinked back another row. This way I knew I hadn't missed or dropped any yarn overs.

I put the shawl in time out for a day or so, until I had forgiven it!

Clue 5 was a knitted on edging. There was lots of discussion on the Ravelry thread. Lots of folk were nervous about running out of yarn. Romi has form for using all of your yardage. I had 72 grams of my yarn left. Romi had you work out how much yarn each repeat took before you got too far into the edging. The pattern gave 2 options, a standard edging and a slightly slimmer one with 4 stitches less. I was more than a little nervous about it, I'd already decided that the slim edging was for me but I still didn't want to be getting to the end of the project playing yarn chicken. The edging had a picot finish, so I decided to leave that out too. Just to be sure.

As it was, I finished the project with 15g left. I've looked at the other projects online and the picot edge is gorgeous, but I'm happy with mine too. It took a bit of knitting, but I'm so thrilled with the finished object.

This is Morning Trail and I love it! I can't recommend this pattern enough. Will I knit another? Do you know what? I think I will!

But that's not all I've been working on since I last wrote.

Feeling the love -

I have been merrily working on my Trillian. The colours of the Wollmeise continue to delight me. They're so vibrant.
There is a little bit of pooling starting as the shawl grows. I love it! But this project isn't without it's problems. The problem is with the yarn! I know - shocker! Everyone raves about Wollmeise. I was so excited about having some and knitting it. Don't get me wrong, I really DO love the colour, the problem is with the yarn itself. It's a 6ply yarn and it's splitty. Annoyingly so! I keep splitting the yarn as I knit and I'm having to fix the splits as I knit. It's not enough to make me hate the yarn, but it's enough to take a bit of the shine off the project.
This is why I haven't made as much progress as I thought I might have done. I'll keep on with it because the colours are to die for and I want the shawl! Also I can't fail at this library knitting project at the first hurdle now can I?

I've also been knitting all the socks. I currently have 3 on the needles. I have my second pair of walking socks which are now at the heel turn. I'm only working on them while I walk to work or walk the dog. The weather has been so shocking recently that walking when necessary hasn't involved knitting!

I'm also working on my new sock pattern. I have 2 different pairs on the go. I started the sock using my usualy recipe for my foot. I cast on 16 stitches and increased to 64. I worked my pattern up the foot and turned a short row heel as is my want. After running up the leg I cast off and tried on the sock........ Too tight!!!! GAHH!!!

I should have realised that the pattern would decrease the elasticity of the sock. So I cast on another pair on different needles to test the difference in gauge. I think it's going to be much better, but it does mean I'll have to think about how I write the sizing on the pattern.

Come to think of it, I don't usually get socks test knit, but if anyone out there fancies running a quick sock up for me, let me know. That way I can see how the gauge and knitting technique of another knitter compares to mine. I'm in no real rush to publish it, so there's no real time constraints. Either post a comment on the blog or PM me on Rav and I'll get a copy of the pattern over to you.

Not content with all this sock knitting and not having any desire to finish any of the WIP's languishing beside me, I cast on another shawl. Again my Romi love continues. I'm completely obsessed by her shawls. The May KAL on her group is entitled Reach for the Stars. So long as you can link your project to this theme, you're good. So I'm using a skein of Sparkleduck Galaxy and I think the colourway is Out of Darkness.  It's a lovely merino/nylon/stellina 2 ply, round and plump. I've knit it once before, those of you who've read my earliest blog posts might remember back in February 2013 I finished Wingspan. I never really liked it. I was fairly new to shawl knitting and I merrily followed the pattern without question. I knit just the minimum number of wedges the pattern suggested and used wrap and turn short rows. I hated how those short rows looked and I really wasn't happy with the size of the finished object. When I look back, I should have worked another wedge because I think I had enough yarn.
Any hoo, the upshot of this was that I ripped the shawl out and balled up the yarn with the bit I had left from the original project. It's been sitting in that ball waiting to become something new.

When the prompt came up for Romi's May KAL it was destined to be cast on again. I looked through Romi's extensive pattern library and came across Artesian. It's a lovely short row shawl with garter stitch and a lovely lace mesh work. It's similar to Shard in it's construction. I cast on last night and I've got a few rows done. I'm not using wrap and turn short rows as indicated in the pattern, I just don't like how they look on garter stitch. I'm using German short rows instead. Once I finish the first wedge I'll have a better idea how they're going to look. Romi has you use 20 stitch markers to guide you. I wanted a way to make identifying those markers easier, so I used gold coloured ones for the odd numbered markers and silver for the even ones. To make the last marker stand out and make the right side easy to spot, I used a black marker for number 20. I haven't really got much progress to show you all this week, but I hope to have something worth photographing next week.

On the horizon -
With any luck, I won't be tempted to cast on anything else! I've got so much I need to finish up it's getting silly now.

I'd love to be able to finish up some of those socks, make good progress on the shawls and maybe, just maybe, pick out a languishing WIP and give it some love!!!

Or maybe not ;-)

Tomorrow is May Day. It's a bank holiday in the UK and as a family we're off for a jolly down to Kendall. It's not very far away and we're going to go to our first auction. We're going antiques hunting!!! I can't wait.  I'll be taking a pair of socks to knit on so that I don't accidentally bid on anything!

So guys, I hope you all have a fruitful couple of weeks.

Speak again soon

Ellen x