Friday, 20 August 2010

Magenta Ruffle Shrug

This is a project from last year.  It took me a rather long time to tidy up the raw inside edge where I picked up stitches for the ruffle. At the time I didn't realise that the inside near the neck would show when you wear it.  It folds out, so of course it would!

I put a herringbone stitch over the join and now it's finished! The only thing left to do was take a picture. Nice to have this done and ticked off my WIP list.

Lion Wool website: Ruffle Shrug
Patons Merino Wool DK
4 mm

I found it a touch tricky to figure out how to fold the rectangle over to sew partial seams which leave the armholes open, - the instructions weren't all that helpful on this point.  It eventually clicked: just keep the ribbing going in the same direction.  My ribbing actually goes the other way than the one on the Lion's site - I must have knitted the rectangle with the height dimension for the width and vice versa.  Not too different, it's much of a muchness!
I'm happy with this.

Saturday, 14 August 2010


I am busy knitting up a fitted summer top in Araucania Lonco Multy - a lovely variegated cotton yarn.  It is very pleasant to knit with and I love all the colours in this: pink, lilac, darker purple and grey.  I was really looking forward to wearing this top.

This is just one of the projects I'm trying to get somewhere with but I've run into a problem now that I should have done something about when it first happened!

Unfortunately I am getting more and more disenchanted with the yarn's striping.  I knew it was a risk to make a raglan-seamed top, knitted from the top down - because of how the colours might pool.  When you knit a different amount of stitches in every row then the bands of colour are bound to 'wander' around - and at some point you might have them repeat on top of each other for a number of rows.

And would you know, it happened at the point just before seperating into body and sleeves, i.e. at the point of casting on new stitches for the underarm area: a big old stripe of the same colour creating a band of about two inches!

I do have a smaller pooled stripe a little higher up but it is much thinner and blends in better.  The worst thing about the second bigger pooled stripe is where it happened: just above the bustline, which rather emphasises a part of my anatomy that doesn't need attention drawn to it...


Even cutting the yarn wouldn't have worked: I should have used two different balls of yarn in alternating rows.  Unfortunately I only thought of this just now as I am typing this.  Bit late in the day!

I did notice this band of pooling at the time, but I still carried on.  I guess I thought that repeated pooling further down would distract from this one.  Just my luck that I am getting single row striping for the remainder of the garment! T'sh.
If it still looks as awful once I'm done, then I may have to go back and re-knit just that section (I am not ripping this back, no way) - and graft this to the other piece.  What joy, - and I am mean that entirely sarcastically!  I am not bad at grafting but I don't fancy having to get the tension right all the way around.

Major grumble!

The London Bead Company in Kentish Town

Last Monday evening I popped into The London Bead Company, in Kentish Town (London, UK), because I had an appointment in that neck of the woods.

I have known of this shop for years, but this week was the first time that I went in.

It was a frustrating experience.  They have a good product range: lots of different seed beads, plenty of crystals and more expensive bead items, crafts supplies like pliers etc, lots of bits and pieces - and something I particularly liked: beading wire in lots of different colours, really gorgous colours! They do them in different weights which is fantastic.

Having said all that, I was rather disappointed with their customer service.  Maybe I caught them on a bad day, maybe it was rather late (5.15pm) after long and tiring hours?  But I think they could have done a lot better.  Normally I am unable to leave a shop like this without spending at least £25, I just can't bear leaving lovely stuff  behind!  Well, on Monday I managed to part with only £2.75 - that must be a record for me, at other times I'm the proverbial magpie!

I happened to pick up one of the small itty-bitty bags of seed beads (no idea how many it contained or how many grams, there was no information that I could see) because I loved the wonderful colour.  Fridica would know the one I mean, it was a sort of minty aqua!  Just her colour.  Slightly iridescent, really pretty!

But they looked just absolutely tiny!  I had never seen anything as titchy as that!  So I asked for the size.  I have been buying seed beads as if it was going out of fashion, but I can't remember what the sizes are.  I think I was told that this was a size 11.  Because they were so small that I felt you'd need a magnifying glass to work with them, I was told the next size up is a size 8 (that gels with what I had seen on the Internet) - but when the sales assistant pointed to those I was really shocked that these were huge!  Well, in comparison!  I was so sure that I had lots of beads at home that were bigger than the tiny ones.  In the course of discussing the sizes, the two assistants kept referring to them as 'delicates' - now I'm sure it must be wonderful and ever so up-on-things to know the proper names for an item, but frankly that's no help to a customer to whom that name doesn't mean a thing ('delicates' just makes me think of bloomers, undies and g-strings, snort, I know: very puerile of me).  Particularly when said proper name is being pronounced in those slightly too high-pitched tones of incredulity at someone who obviously needed a huge gap in their education filled.  Really rather grating to get a word called out to you several times, it made me feel a bit stupid to be honest.

It got worse.  I was so silly as to say that a) I couldn't believe that there were no bigger ones than those 'delicates' and still smaller than size 8, and b) that I couldn't imagine getting a needle through them!  I was informed that you could.  With a beading needle.  Aha.  So I must have been using needles that weren't what I thought.

So I asked after beading needles.  What they looked like.  I had to ask point-blank to be shown them because that service was not forthcoming even after three questions about them.  I would have thought that it's a given to show an interested customer a product in order to try and sell said item to said customer.

So in case you're wondering: beading needles are completely straight (without any bulge for the eye of the needle) and pretty thin.  So the needle's eye is pretty tiny too.  And yes, you could get that through one of those 'delicates' (snort).  What I was using actually split the longish cylindrical beads I have, I will be able to work with those now!

Then I asked for the price of the 'delicates', I couldn't see that displayed anywhere - together with weight or number of beads.  I really don't understand why you have to ask?  I was told £2.95 (How much??) - good heavens, that's a bit eye-watering, isn't it?

I put those back in a hurry.  Then it got better.  I wandered around some more and found lots more seed beads on the opposite wall of the shop.  And guess what?

You'll never guess.  Those ones were bigger!  I knew it.  So I asked again.  And was told that these are also size 11 (or whatever the smallest size was, I feel too traumatised to trust my memory) - but they were definitely the sort of size of the stuff I've got at home!  No magnifying glass required!

So what's the difference?

Well, the ones I was holding are ..."round"... and the other ones ..."cylindrical"...  For goodness sake!  Couldn't someone have pointed them out to me?  And guess how much these are, same size bag: £1.40.  That's a - lot - better!  But what kind of customer service is it that makes it necessary to play 20 questions for crying out loud?  Way more difficult than pulling teeth, such hard work.

Early on I also looked at some pliers but wasn't sure if their function is to just hold stuff or cut wires. I would have liked to ask but couldn't get anyone's attention. I think they were between £7 and £15. It would have been so easy to sell me one of those.

Worst of all was that I felt laughed at, for not knowing more about the subject matter.  Even though it wasn't true I said that I was new to this.  That made no difference, I didn't dislodge nuggets of wisdom at a better rate than I had before.

There were a few customers in the shop, and at some point three members of staff.  One appeared with a fistful of paperwork and soon left again, the older sales assistant (the one telling me about the beading needle, eventually) also busied herself with some paper work and disappeared as well.  Leaving the younger member of staff who was at least a bit friendlier though also not as forthcoming as I would have liked.

What I would have liked was to buy quite a few of those "round" seed beads because I thought their price was okay and they do have some gorgeous colours.  But by then I just couldn't be bothered.  Seeing as I still had the royal blue wire in my hand (£1.75), plus the four beading needles (4 for £1), I paid for those, and that was it.  I was never more glad to be leaving a shop again!

I didn't buy the silver beads, I include
them here to show the needle size

So if you'd like to check out what they have, great.  But if you have any questions before you buy you're probably better off going to the bead shops near Covent Garden, there are at least three of them and they are much better at displaying i.e. pricing information and answering questions.

The London Bead Company is pretty much exactly opposite Kentish Town tube and overground station.  Make sure to use the pedestrian crossing, traffic round there is ever flowing.  If you're knackered after your visit I can recommend the Assembly House pub - just up the road a bit from the tube station, turning right.

Good luck.


Sorry about the major moan but I am really disappointed.  You'd think that a shop would want to sell you their goods and not make it way too difficult.  Am I being unreasonable in feeling so upset?  It was my first visit to this shop, has anyone else been there and do you have different experiences?  I would love to get more positive feedback and try them again.  Maybe they'll make up for a bad first impression.

Rolodex bracelet

Well, that's what I call it - the tabs remind me of a Rolodex roll.  I am sure there must be other bracelets like this out there, but I thought of the design myself - it is not inspired by one I had seen.  Sometimes ideas like this just pop into your head.  It took me a while to start, but once I did it went surprisingly quickly.

I love the result!

I haven't been blogging for a little while.  I have made progress, flitting from one project to another, but there are no completed projects to report on.  Except for this bracelet!  I am really pleased with it.  I made other bracelets before with the same hand-weaving technique so I made sure to make this one a little wider at eight beads in a row.  Unfortunately it didn't turn out as big and chunky as I had imagined, this is much more dainty than I had in mind - so I may be making another one at some point.  Not just yet though.

I bought quite a few different findings, if that term includes closures!  Some months back I couldn't resist but kept popping into some bead shops here in London.  I spent a fortune!  I tend to do that when the enthusiasm overwhelms me, and unfortunately I get rather enthusiastic about things for a while, and then I move on.

Laying in crafts supplies has the advantage that you can pick things up again at a later stage, it's not like my huge stash of beads and things is going to go off!

It was lovely being able to dip into my things and find a closure for this bracelet that I really like.  Here is another photo to show it:

After a lot of knitting it was nice to pick up a different craft for a change.  You don't get tired of a thing when you can get back to it after a little diversion.  It keeps things interesting!

Talking about that, I also did a little bit of sewing but wasn't happy with the result at all: I managed to produce a top that is way too big for me.  There must be a logical error somewhere when I cut this out, it is wider than it should be so I think I may have forgotten to omit the centre front seam allowances when I cut the single pieces on the fold, whoops!  It is frustrating - so it's so much nicer when you manage to start something that turns out well and that you can finish, which is even better!

Talking about finishing items: having the closure to hand was fantastic for finishing this bracelet as soon as the weaving was done.  All too often my lack of success in completing things is down to the enforced stop to things.  You try to buy what you need as soon as you can, but it isn't easy to then make yourself sit down with to do the last little bit.  It's my biggest downfall.