Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Progress update... and another quick FO

Progress this week is less spectacular as last week (after all, I'm not finishing a whole blanket every week!), but it's been steady. With the granny square blanket finished and the sock still stuck in my office at work (I've been working from home a lot this week) I've reconnected with the Garter Yoke Cardi.

I have to say that now that the garter section is finished I'm enjoying it a lot more. I don't really like knitting garter stitch for too long. It's odd really - shouldn't it be easier and quicker than stockinette? I think I just enjoy seeing that smooth stockinette stitch fabric grow as I knit. 

Here is the cardi as it looks now:

Gratuitous close up of the increase:

I've finished the increase section and I'm about to separate the sleeves from the body. They are supposed to go on waste yarn, which is why I stopped knitting - I was at D's mum's house and I didn't have any waste yarn with me. 

This is obviously not even nearly finished, so it's going to stay with me for a while, but a lot of the more concentration-heavy stuff is done (as long as I can keep track of all those button holes. So many button holes!!) so it should be quite good mindless knitting while the house is full of family for boy #3's Christening. 

I do have one little FO to share, though - here is the little granny square pillow I was knitting with the spare granny squares last week:

It's just the one side - once it was done I carefully sewed it to the existing cushion cover. I'm really happy with it. The construction was easy - 9 granny squares, then 2 rows of double crochet around each square. I then crocheted all the squares together and started double crochet rows around and around the set of squares until it was nearly the right size. Right towards the end I added one row of the same pattern that I used for the squares (triple crochet, 3 into one stitch, then a gap of 2 stitches, etc) followed by 1 row of chain stitch. At the moment the pillow is on the sofa but I think eventually it may live in Matilda the caravan. 

More of Matilda and my plans for her to come later in the week! :) 

I played along with:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

All the To-Dos...

Just look at that pile of bedding...

It's been a bit hectic in our house these past few days. A lot of tidying, cleaning, sorting going is going on.

The reason? Well, it's the start of term soon, and that's always the time in our house to get organised, to start thinking about how to optimise things around here to keep the (not so) well oiled machine of our chaotic household ticking over when my work timetable is less flexible than it is over the summer. Oh, I work a lot over the summer, but it's my work, my writing. With term starting it becomes less about that and more about following a set teaching timetable. It's not bad per se, in fact in some ways it's helpful, but it does mean that we have to become a bit more organised as a family because there is just less slack in the system.

The main reason for the increase of activity these past few days is boy #3's impending Christening. We've been meaning to do this for ages and had, in fact, fixed on a date a few times, but there were always good reasons to postpone - illness, a recent loss in the family, another big family do, ... - and before we knew it boy #3 was 2 1/2 years old. After coming back from our holiday this summer we decided to just get. it. done. We told the families and a few friends, and we let everyone know that while we'd love it if they could join us, we were aware that it was short notice and we were not planning a big do, so nobody would be upset or sulking if for one reason or another things didn't work out and people couldn't make it. 

Well, it turns out that most people actually could make it, meaning that the house will be rather full for the next week or so. I've been tidying and cleaning, and getting out extra bedding, and I'm wondering what we might cook to feed them all. I'm looking forward to it all, though, even while I'm also trying to snatch a few minutes here and there of quiet time - a stroll through the garden, a little chat with the chicken ladies, a cup of tea while gazing at my sewing and knitting utensils in the craft room, which is shortly to be handed over to our guests. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Allotmenting in September

Today I was working from home, mainly because I'm off to Leeds for the evening later on, and since we have no kids at home today and the weather is beautiful, D and I took ourselves off to the allotment for our lunch break. 

While D was cutting the grass I went around and harvested. This space continues to amaze me. This is only our first proper year of allotment gardening, and we are still learning, but this space truly keeps on giving. Even without any fertilizing, and with a constant battle against encroaching weeds, we've harvested so much here this summer.

This was my vegetable basket today:

So many courgettes, and cucumbers, and beans (the beans have been amazing - we've had buckets of them). There are even a few patty pan pumpkins in there. We've not been so lucky with the carrots - despite the netting there is some damage from carrot fly, and they are also somewhat woody and dry. I will have to read up on how to improve conditions for them.

Once I'd done the vegetable harvesting I went around my Dahlias and cosmos to cut flowers for the house. I love flowers in the house and my aim this year was to grow enough cut flowers that I wouldn't have to buy any for the summer months. The cosmos was slow to start with (lots and lots of greenery and no flowers), although it is starting to pick up speed now, but the Dahlias have been truly amazing. The more I cut for the house, the more seem to appear. When we got there today it was a riot of colour:

I cut most of them because as I said - the more I cut the more the plants produce - and we always find room in the house for a jug of flowers. This was the trough at the end of our short visit:

When we got home I immediately arranged them into various jugs:

Pretty, no? 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

WIP Wednesday update!

Well, it's been a productive week. 

I finished the granny square blanket... I'm still a bit in shock, I think. I've had this on the go for so long I don't think I really believe that it would ever be finished. 

The blanket was done a few days ago, actually, and we've had it on the sofa ever since. It's quite heavy, but in a good way, and very cuddly and warm. The boys love it, although I've had to scold them a few times for digging their little toes into the granny squares. I guess it's quite tempting... 

I'm so so happy with it!

In fact, I'm so happy with it, I decided that with the remaining 9 squares (they were the first ones and the gauge was just totally different because I was still learning) I was going to make a little cushion cover for the new stylish Matilda the Caravan. I edged these with blue so they'd match her new shiny outside paint. This is not finished, but I'm planning to crochet around the edge until it's the right size to cover that side of the pillow. I'll then hand-sew the crochet onto the cream pillow itself and tadaa! new cushion cover made out of an old (and rather worn) one!

In between all this I've obviously completed my handspun mobius cowl. I've actually been wearing this on and off - it's great to wear. How did I know know how comfortable cowls are? 

I've also continued to make progress with the Lombard Street sock #2. I've had a couple of hospital appointments this week and as I'm sure we all know, that always entails a lot of waiting around. All good for sock knitting, though, so to be honest I quite enjoyed the quiet time to sit down and work on this .I can't show you a picture though, because, guess what - I've forgotten it at work.

I've also been digging around for some yarn that might be suitable for Steph's Hitofude KAL and I managed to find this:

This is a HUGE cone of some sort of burgundy wool. I think it's lace-weight, so a little thin for Hitofude. May do a swatch, though.

Then I found this:

Honestly, I'm a little bit horrified. There are two cones of 4-ply, one of them superwash. There are also two hanks of Knitpicks yarn, one of them lace-weight, the other 4-ply. Seriously, I had no idea I had all this stuff!! The problem is that I'd have to dye it. Perhaps some Koolaid dying might do the trick? 

I'm also looking forward to starting Liesl. Here is all the yarn - should be enough, no? 

There is still no progress on the Garter Yoke Cardi, but it's next on my list. What with the crochet obsession I've just not found a moment to think myself back into this project (what row was I on anyway??). I'm looking forward to reconnecting with it in the coming week, though.

Oh, and last but not least, D's auntie gifted the boys with this:

Boy #3 calls him 'Ratty Bear'. Isn't he adorable? 

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Sunday, September 07, 2014

Spinning... and a super-quick FO

I went to my monthly spinning group, Beretun Spinners, yesterday. They meet up on the first Saturday of each month for a whole day of spinning and fiber goodness. I don't often get to go, what with the busy job and the even more busy family life, but when I do go it's always lovely. The spinners in the group are amazing - so many so very talented people, and they are always friendly and happy to share advice and help. 

Look at those gorgeous rolags - sadly they were not mine. 

I don't get to spin much these days. Boy #1 is OK with the wheel now, but both boy #2 and #3 would play with the wheel and the fiber endlessly if I left it out. The wheel is usually locked up in D's office and I'm just too plain lazy to drag it out in the evening only to lock it back up at the end of the night. So spinning tends to happen at the group only. That said, over the months I have made inroads into my huge (it's a theme with my hobbies...) fiber stash. My plan is to get rid of all the beautiful but often small amounts of dyed fiber in order to make room for one or two big fleeces with enough yarn to knit larger garments. 

Look what I finished this time:

This is merino/silk (the dark blue), plied with some merino (the light blue). It's only one skein, but it should be around 100g, so definitely enough for a hat.

The second skein is the last of a number of skeins I spun a few years back. I had some of the fiber left over and decided to spin it up quickly so I would have some more. I'm thinking of making Liesl with the yarn - if I skip the sleeves I may just have enough... 

Last time I was at the group I also finally spun up some delicious looking merino/silk mix I had lying around for years. The colours were so vibrant!

There were actually three skeins of this, but it only occurred to me to take a picture when I'd already used two of them! I spun this deliberately slubby, which was more of a challenge than I thought it would be. Sure it should be easy to spin up something really messily? Turns out that spinning neatly is much much easier!

This time I brought some big circular needles and cast on for Haley Waxberg's Bulky Mobius Cowl. 

Such a fun and quick project! I knitted for about an hour yesterday and then another hour today and tadaa, it's done! The yarn is so soft, so it won't be irritating on the skin to wear it. I think I'll get a lot of wear out of this.

This was such a fun little thing to knit, I don't think this is the only cowl project in my future...

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Thursday, September 04, 2014

WIP Wednesdays - on Thursday!

OK, so this WIP post is a day late, but never mind that - there's been some actual progress this week!

My obsession with the granny square blanket has continued unabated, so I'm pretty much done with it by now. In fact, if I hadn't decided last night to add one or two more rows to it so it would drape more nicely across the sofa I'd be finished by now. I've crocheted all the squares together and have even sewn in most of the ends. The only thing left is to crochet once around the whole thing, but obviously I have to wait with that until I've made more squares for another row or two... Hopefully it'll be done by Friday so I can do a proper FO post for it. It also needs to be washed and blocked properly, but I think that'll have to wait - I want to admire it on the sofa for a few days before I wash it and can't use it for days until it's dry!

 I've also made progress on my Lombard Street Socks. I've finished sock #1!! In the end I kind of made up my own pattern, lol, because the instructions were confusing because I wasn't knitting on dpns. It all worked out perfectly, though, so no harm done. Today I briefly went into work to look in on a colleague's conference, but because it's normally my day off I decided that I would use the half hour before to cast on for sock #2. I've only done a few rows on it but I've done the piquot edging , meaning that I can start with the lace and cable pattern now. I'm really pleased with this pattern - it's fun to knit, and the sock fits perfectly.

I'm taking a couple of days off now, which I am very excited about. D and I have plans to finally paint our old caravan. I bought Matilda (yes, all our vehicles have names...) on ebay last year. It was a bit of a spur of the moment purchase and she is very old and hasn't in fact been anywhere since we've bought her. Her tires need looking at and really, my idea was that she'd mainly be a summer house that we could, very occasionally, take with us when we go camping. I'd like to re-do the interior (take out the nasty-looking little bathroom and the wardrobe to make some room, paint the lot, make covers for the seats, etc.

With all those grand plans, though, not much has happened since she came home to stay with us. After her first winter here she looked decidedly run down and overall pretty green and slimy. We were not enamored. All five of us, armed with sponges and brushes and lots of soapy water, were able to restore her to her slightly shabby previous self, but I think the time has come for her to get her make-over, so this morning we armored ourselves with paint brushes and a tub of Dulux Weathershield and got to work:

Isn't this better? She's not finished, of course - she'll get a coat of white around the middle tomorrow, and we are contemplating whether to paint the roof white or blue... 

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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The last days of summer...

We've had a surprisingly nice last few days - surprising not because of the time of year, but because of the performance record of the August weather so far. The boys went back to school this morning, with boy#3 having his first pre-school morning ever, and I'm taking a bit of time off here and there this week to catch up on things and re-charge my batteries before my own work load picks up again at the start of the university year.

We spent these last few days before the start of school enjoying all the little things we like - boy #1 went to his best friend's birthday party and came back full of Mac Donalds junk food (my stomach turns just a little bit but he LOVED it), and all three boys enjoyed time with their little cousin. We dug and weeded at the allotment and brought home more spuds and carrots and late-summer salads as well as more beans (these beans, they just keep on coming!). 

Boy #1 and #2 spent quite a bit of time with D in the shed. They love shed time and both of them worked hard on their little projects.

As for knitting and hooking progress - I'm planning on finishing the granny square blanket in the next few days - hopefully there will be a FO post this Friday. If I can get all the critters and boys off the half-finished blanket that is - it seems to be some kind of kids and animal magnet (that's not even our dog - it belongs to BIL). 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Autumn is in the air... Time to get my stash organised¬

This morning, on my drive to work, there was fog over the hills. This is the first time in months that this has happened. This morning I was also contemplating for the first time in months whether I should wear tights and boots.  It really looks as if the summer is over quite early this year.

One thing that this means is that I am contemplating cozy knitwear. With that in mind I thought I'd make  good on my plan of selling / swapping some of the yarn that I'm unlikely to use any time soon in order to enable more useful yarn purchases. I have pledged that this year I will knit from stash, but if I swap wool that's not strictly speaking a purchase, is it? I think I'm prepared to bend the rules a little for that one so I can make room for yarn I'm actually going to use.

The deal is that the yarn can either be bought or else swapped for yarn I may like. Currently I'm looking for:

1) yarn (non-acrylic) for a jumper / cardigan - ideally some fingering/4-ply for Hitofude. I'd like either a berry colour or alternatively dark brown or dark blue would work I think. The pattern asks for Tosh Merino Light by Madelinetosh and I'd need 2-3 skeins or 760 m/840 yards. Some other fingering weight yarn would work too of course, as long as it drapes well.

2) 100% cotton yarn for various crochet projects. I prefer solid colours and dk or aran weight.  

I'll post this in a number of Ravelry swap groups too, so it's first come first get, OK?

I'll accept money (paypal) or alternatively, for some of the yarns I'd be happy to swap. Postage is extra on top (I'll let you know once I've been to the post office).

So here we go:

1 skein of Noro (label lost). I'd like £5 for it or alternatively I'd swap. 

2 balls of Freedom Wool by Twilleys of Stamford. 100% wool, 50g balls with approx. 50 m per ball. This is bulky.  £4 for both, or swap. 

1 50g ball of Jaeger Baby Merino DK in light blue. 100% Merino wool. £1.50 or swap. 

3 balls of Jaeger Baby Merino 4-ply in a greenish blue (Sh 0118). 2 balls are complete, the third is without label and in two pieces (I had started knitting something with this that I've since ripped).  £5 for the lot, or swap.  RESERVED

1 100g ball of San Franccisco Wisom Yarns sock yarn. 75% wool, 25% polyamide. Approx 400 m / 437 Yards. Super Wash.  £2 or swap. 

9 balls of Rowan Cotton Glace. 50g balls, 100% cotton. approx 115 m (125 yards) per ball. This is lovely stuff, but it's pink and I'm just unlikely to EVER knit anything in that colour. :( . These retail at between £4-5.50 per ball. I'd like £35 for the lot.

1 skein of Fyberspates handpainted yarn, lace-weight. Comes with a pattern for a scarf using this skein. This is 100% silk, 45g and with approx. 405 m per skein. This is beautiful, shimmery and so so soft, but I'm not that crazy about variegated yarns anymore. While I love the look of it just on the skein, I just can't think of a project for it that would do it justice and that I'd actually wear. I think it needs to be appreciated by someone else. £6 or swap.  RESERVED

7 balls of Schachenmayr nomotta Two in One. Chunky, 50g and approx 80 m per ball. Colour 98. These look a bit tangled but it's all there and I've never knitted anything with it. It was a spontaneous purchase and I've never found the right project. £14 for all 7

5 balls of Rowan All Seasons Cotton in dark blue. This is aran weight and each 50g ball has approximately 90 m (98 yards) of yarn. 60% cotton, 40 % Acrylic. I'm looking for £17 for all 5.

4 balls of Bambu Novita bamboo yarn. 50 g balls = 135 m. 68% bamboo, 32% cotton. This is a Finnish yarn and to me looks not plied but made with a kind of corking process? £5 or swap.

1 skein of Sari Silk. £3 or swap. 

1 skein of Hipknits hand-dyed 100% super chunky woo.. Approx. 55 m to 100g. £3 or swap. 

4 skeins / balls of Cascade 220 in grey. 2 of the skeins were wound into balls for a project but were not used. Only one of the labels remains but it tells me that this is a 100% wool yarn. 100g per skein and approx. 220 yards. The colour is 8401. This retails for around £5 per skein. I'd like £12 for all 4, or swap.  SOLD

1 skein of Zitron Trekking wool sock yarn. Sock weight. 75% new wool, 25% nylon. 100g = 420 m. £2 or swap.   SOLD

There is probably more to come as I am slowly working my way through my stash...

Also posted to the UK Classifieds group and the Yarn Swap Sell and Trade Community on Ravelry.