Saturday, 31 December 2011

Mama Marmelade

Seeing as I blogged about Dad's Christmas present, here is Mum's too (now that she's got it and I can't spoil the surprise by posting about it on here too soon).

This was ably modelled by my friend Pam. Thank you!

Here's a bit more of a close up:

I thought I did well on the size.  I had to guesstimate and thought that at six repeats it wouldn't remain too small.  Yeah right!  I had no idea that blocking would get it to this size:

I wanted a pattern with some stocking stitch in it and not just all-over lace. This is beautiful.  It is from a Finnish pattern that thankfully had charts.  So, how difficult can it be?

Well, the chart symbols were just fine.  But it turned out that I couldn't make head or tail of a sort of wheat sheaf symbol and had to improvise.  I still have the correct amount of stitches, so this 'own version' of mine isn't a problem. I would have liked to get it closer to the original though because this stitch would have added a slight gather or butterfly shape to the top of the rounded bit of the motifs.

Still, it seems well enough!

The colours in the above pictures are a touch too sugary pink.  There is a light purple/lilac and a soft pink in this.  The following pictures don't show the right shades either - but here it goes, just to show what it looked like unblocked.

A bit of a close-up:

And while it was very much a work in progress:

The yarn is by Krafty Koala and I got it from Knit Nation in summer 2011.  I loved the colours, I quite rightly thought my Mum would too, but I didn't take into account that this is a gossamer lace weight.  Whoops!

Turned out well though, thankfully!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Recently finished project

Socks for Dad, Christmas present.

The yarn is XXL Trekking in the Deep Blue colourway 451.  There are bits of purple and very short bits of a darker blue in there too.  It is very subtle which I love.  I think the following photo shows the colours quite well.

I would like to believe that this yarn makes for very good men's socks.

I didn't want to add too much design.  So I thought that just a bit of a cable running down each side of the foot from the gusset/heel point upwards would do nicely.  It gives me something interesting to do and doesn't make the socks too fancy.  I don't see guys being into complicated patterns much.

I should add that I designed these myself, from scratch.  I thoroughly enjoy doing that!

The foot part is completely plain.  Even though the yarn is superwash (I checked before I ordered.  I can't see my Dad hand washing his socks.  Can you?)  I expect the part that will be inside the shoes to go a touch felted.  Probably not a lot, but just that little bit.

I really enjoyed making these and now I just hope that they'll fit.  I asked for his measurements and am fairly confident that I stuck to them - the only thing is that I am a little worried about  is that they are not long enough - you have to pull a bit to get the foot length.  I understand that you should make socks with a negative ease of ten per cent and that's what I did here. So fingers crossed I guess!

Now I just have to send them hopefully in time for Christmas!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Sock Sisterrs! - Guy Knitters welcome

Woohoo!  I am starting a monthly sock knitting club.  By club I mean a get-together of like-minded people who like to sit and chat, knit socks, talk socks, compare socks and generally motivate each other - with any kind of DPN knitting.

Do you like knitting socks?  Do you live in London and would like to come along?

We could swap ideas about patterns, help each other with oddly worded instructions, show off our completed projects, talk sock yarns and compare notes about yarn shops or good online sites.

I thought of meeting up once month, perhaps on the first Monday of the month?  I will keep an open mind about that for now in case this weekday doesn't suit people.  I already had some feedback from some people about Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays not being very good, and seeing as Thursdays aren't brilliant for me I ended up with a Monday after this process of elimination.  But nothing is set in stone.

Shall I explain the name a little?  It had to have something to do with socks (well duh, obviously), Sisters goes nicely with that but just 'sock sisters' isn't all that unique.  No chance of trying to google that.  But stick an extra 'r' in there (a bit like in 'Grrls') and this is easily googlable! (go on, try it)

And please let me say that guy knitters are very welcome, the more the merrier!

I am thinking of posting information about this on various social media sites, like Google+ and Facebook, mention it on Twitter and also form a Ravelry group.  Right now the first meeting in December is posted to the 'London Knitting and Craft Meetup Group' on  So if you are a member of that meet-up group then please set your RSVP there!  If you are not, you are still very welcome, just let me know.  You can contact me any time for more information.

The venue will be in central London.  It is probably going to be the Royal Festival Hall unless we are a small group only - in that case it might be nicer to go to a coffee bar like Caffe Nero or Costa Coffee in the Piccadilly or Covent Garden areas.  I will confirm the weekend before.

The first meeting will be Monday 12th December 2011.  We can get a bit of Christmas knitting in! [Apologies, this is rescheduled from 5 December]

I will update this page once I put the Ravelry group together so that you can go there for all the ins and outs about the group, the meetings, the members.  We'll also be able to post pictures of our completed projects showing off our crafty cleverness!  Sock Sisterrs go!

There is just one thing I would like to mention. I will be very happy to advise you if you would like any pointers or help with a tricky bit, I am delighted to share what I know (and to learn from others) - exchanging tips and tricks is what these meetings are all about!  The only thing is that I will not be able to teach anyone how to knit.  I envisage this sock club as a social get-together with lots of knitting, chatting and eating cake but it is not a class or teaching event.  I am very happy to help, and I'm sure others don't mind having their brains picked either, but as I said it is not a workshop or course.  The meetings will be free of charge.  The only cost to you will be your coffee and cake, or civilised glass of wine if we're at the RFH!

I will also bring along a set of instructions for a pair of basic socks, so if you haven't knit socks for a while then this can serve as handy reference.  Please make sure you bring all the bits and pieces you need: a set of four or five double pointed needles (DPNs), your instructions and a suitable sock yarn.  The 4 ply yarns that have a bit of nylon in it are great for socks because it makes them more durable.

There are some great patterns out there.  Ravelry in particular is wonderful for free patterns (as well as those you need to pay a little for).  You can also check out how other people found knitting them, and look at their photos.

Let me know if you would like any other kind of information and I will update this page.

I am so excited and really, really looking forward to the 5th! Come along, indulge in knitting socks, sock, socks!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A bag sew-along!

I love the idea: a sew-along for a bag that you can use for crafts projects.  What an utterly brilliant idea to use up some of my fabric stash.

I might even get a nice gift out of this, you never know.  Unless of course I like the bag so much that I can't help but keep it.

I came across this on Google+ (love that site).  Here is a link to Knit Purl Gurl's blog explaining the sew-along.

You can easily catch up if you feel like taking part.

There is also a Ravelry group, a link to the tutorial, and other links and tips listed on this blog post.

I just need to go and buy a zipper now!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Christmas knitting

So, I'm doing it again.

I had promised myself not to do this again... If I remember correctly that's exactly what I was thinking last year too! And same result: yup, you've guessed it - I will be knitting some Christmas presents again this year after solemnly promising myself that this year I wouldn't.

Various reasons: I might not pick something the other person will really like (liking in terms of what it is, as well as liking to wear or use), or all my time and effort might not produce the sort of result that I envisaged (falling short I mean) or the intended recipient might not actually appreciate how much time and effort I've gone to even if all else worked out.

On the last point I am thinking of my brother who appreciated the cute as a button amigurumi puppy keyring attachment that I made for him so little that he gave it away without knowing if that recipient would like it either (he chucked it in with the parcel of an ebay sale).  I suppose I can count myself lucky that he didn't just bin it.  I think that he felt that I should have known that he doesn't need any key rings (he's got one) and therefore he shouldn't have to decide what to do with one that was given to him anyway.  So work the mysterious minds of my male relatives.  Funny species that.

I'm wondering what he'll do with this year's idea of a suitable gift for him (suitable in my mind) - I thought of a hat.  He doesn't wear them (so that would be a point against) but on occasion he does need one.  It can get pretty darn cold where he lives, to the point where snow is blowing round your ears and un-be-hatted ears are no fun in weather like that!  So who knows, if I manage to hit on the right sort of colour, pattern and fit?  He might, just might, possibly, like it.  Though I won't hold my breath.

Dad is getting a pair of socks this year, if he likes it or not.  He's the one who keeps insisting that he doesn't want "any" presents at all! I mean: any!!! As in: none at all. But then he and his wife do exchange just the one present between them anyway.  So I'm not falling for that again.  I reckon he just wants to avoid getting rubbish gifts.  That's what I think.

It has one advantage: if I don't get stuff done for the occasion, I can give it to him later.  I just mustn't make the mistake of telling him that I didn't manage, or it didn't work out, or whatever, - he's just not keen on hearing that.  Better if he thinks he's really not getting anything, and then I can surprise him with a gift that I wanted him to have.  I do hope that works for the both of us.  It does for me.

So that's the two most difficult people in my life sorted: men.  What a relief!  The socks are even coming along nicely (I shall blog them soon) and I'm pretty sure that the hat is not going to present a great challenge in terms of the time needed to knit it up.  Finding a suitable pattern and trying to decide how big it needs to be, that's where the tricky bit lies.  I shall meet this challenge with steely determination and fortitude!

I also already started the gift for my mother.  And I won't say, just yet, what it is because between my sister and my mother it is just possible that one of them might read this blog.  So best keep that to myself.

I have an idea for my sister's present which may change because it involves a fabric I found that I think she might like but I'm not at all sold on whether she might like the item that I'm thinking of making.  It would be the sort of thing that she probably won't wear, doesn't really need and therefore might not like all that much (in comparison to all sorts of other things that I could make for her instead) but it would look utterly darn gorgeous and I think she'd like it - even if it ended up just being hung up and admired.  Err... maybe admired.  I'm not actually that sure about that part either.  Oh dear!

So the plans are drawn up, some of the work has been started, I will keep on the look-out for those materials that I still need - and I'll be doing more thinking work to try and test the present ideas for my siblings against some kind of reality check.  If I can bear to do that...

Just one thing's for sure: I won't be making any more key ring attachments for my brother.  Not a single one.  I wonder why...

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Some sewing

I just realised that I have a photo of a sewing project that I didn't just attempt but completed.  It's not a garment but something very useful nevertheless:

The inside of my handbag.  This is a pretty cheap bag from one of those luggage stores lining the high street.  I even got a little off because I haggled.  I didn't do that very gracefully but I wouldn't have bought it for the full price.  Which turns out to be a really good thing because the coarse, plasticky fabric that connected the inner lining to the outer shell of the bag just literally disintegrated.

It started to rip in one area and after a very short while these two pieces had developed such big holes that I kept throwing stuff in between lining and shell instead of inside the actual compartment.  It looked horrible too.

I felt very lucky when I discovered that the lining was still attached to the zipper when I took the coarse ripped stuff out - otherwise this would have been much more of a mending job than it was.  There was also a strip of plastic attached to the top of the lining all the way round and this had disintegrated as well: it had ripped and shredded, - bits of it had come off and created quite a mess in my bag.  I got to the stage where I didn't even want to touch the bag anymore, it just felt horrible.

The rest of the bag did not yet show any wear or tear (even though some more of that coarse fabric clads an outer compartment or two) and the outer shell is actually nice and sturdy.  So I removed all the ripped bits and pulled that shredded plastic off too.  The inner lining topped by the zip then lifted clean out.

I sewed two straight strips of my pretty flower sprig fabric (a cheap half meter from an Indian fabric shop in Shepherds Bush) onto the lining, just straight through both layers of lining fabric and the zip material.  You can just about see the two stitching lines in the photo if you look closely. I don't think it looks too bad.

While I had the whole thing out I figured I might as well add an improvement: I made and attached an inner compartment!  This is what you can see in the photo: the inner bit in the same flower sprig fabric is just a pocket that I sewed into the lining, near the top.  It could do with a fastening because this pocket hangs quite far down but other than that it's fine.

I hand-stitched the new flower strips to the grey binding strip that runs all round the top - I had cut the coarse fabric off very close to the inner stitching line.  I could push the new flower fabric underneath the grey tape and just whip-stitch it into place, you can't see those stitches in this photo because the grey edge is tilted inwards.  I could have used grey thread if I'd thought about it but the black thread doesn't show too badly.

I am so pleased with this mending job!  It is a task that needed doing, it is an item I use every day, I achieved it by sewing! (I have such a mental block about sewing that this seems almost the best bit about it!) and I completed it to my satisfaction.  It just feels like an all-round good thing.

It makes me very glad every time I set eyes on my bag.  Seeing that pretty flower fabric makes me think quite often: "I made that!"

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Sewing Room by Beyond Fabrics

A few months back (apology for my tardiness) I went along to the opening of the Sewing Room.  This is the second location around the corner from Beyond Fabrics, a wonderful quilting fabric and crafts items shop on Columbia Road.

They offer courses and workshops in this location. There are four places equipped with sewing machines.

The fabric shop Beyond Fabrics on Columbia Road itself is very lovely too. In addition to lovely fabrics for quilting, they have very interesting haberdashery items and a good selection of books too.

I bought a lovely book about making fabric flowers:

click to go through to Amazon

I particularly liked their plain cotton fabrics: there is a very good range of colours - I like using plain cottons with patterned fabrics for my quilting patchwork work.  Using too many highlyl patterned fabrics makes the result look quite busy and crowded.

Here are some items I made using this kind of mix:



And that's already most of the quilted items I made, don't think of this as a small sampling, instead: that's pretty much it.  I started a couple more smaller items and didn't get very far on those.

And here's one more item where I used more patterned fabrics and ended up with a rather buzzy result.  Next time, I would probably sash something like this with a plain fabric to calm it down a lot.  PS: the switched round 'N' in the bottom right corner is not a design feature - it was a long day, I had a deadline looming, and what can I say...

It does give the overall design a bit of balance though: the counter weight to the 'N' in the top left corner? I should just say that it was meant to look like that, cough... (Yup, you're right: I'm trying it on)


Further update on the spits and starts...

Move along now, nothing much to report...

My knitting is still languishing quite a bit.  The only 'update' I have is those projects that I didn't say anything about in my last post.

This is a close-up shot of my Drops Viscose Cotton top in purple.  I love the yarn, it is so smooth and glossy and sumptuous!  A bit splitty so you have to pay attention to where you put the tips of your needle but nice to knit with otherwise: it flows off one needle and onto the other one.

I got stuck knitting this when I got to the armholes.  I should say that I am, again, making up the pattern as I go along.  Not the easiest of ways to be knitting, I'm sure.  I decided to knit the back of this in plain stocking stitch and only the front in this pattern (from one of my stitch dictionaries).  It makes for an interesting difference in texture and also stretchiness!

I managed to make three different kinds of swatches: the ribbing at the hem, the stocking stitch and the pattern.  Because Viscose/Cotton won't block well I just went with how the fabric lies, I didn't even attempt to stretch it.  I reckon that if this were to stretch more over my boobs and less over other areas then the entire thing would look out of whack.  Don't want that to happen.

I think I'm stuck now because I'm not quite sure how to edge the armsholes and the neckline.  I have the feeling that a garter stitch edging wouldn't be the best, I think a bit of ribbing would be better.  It would also stretch a lot more so that ought to make the garment work better?  I should just go for it really.

In further comment to the Trachtentuch to be dyed a rich, warm, dark brown (I don't have a shawl in that colour yet).  I just bought four more lots of 100 gram skeins of undyed BFL yarn at Alexandra Pally - I really ought to get into yarn dyeing or otherwise I'll have all of those kinds of things (yarn and WIPs) lying around for ages.  It would be really good to just dye up some of those skeins 'on spec', - I don't suppose that I need to know -exactly- what I'm going to do with the yarn.  As long as I go for colours that I haven't got already: I reckon that would be good.  A nice rich dark red/wine type of colour, a mid blue?  Ooh, and grey! But I'm not sure how successful I would be at dyeing a grey.  Purple should be a lot easier to achieve, I would be very interested in a purple that's almost only red and another one that almost only blue.  And an exact half/half measure.  Maybe I could try mixing that up in Polymer Clay (Fimo) first, just to get an idea?

The Cascade jumper in blue and grey: I really do not know why I put this one down.  The yarn is really great to knit with, the colours look fantastic with each other and it is now getting colder and colder to the point where I'd like to be able to wear this already.  Plus: I have a pattern for it!  The only sticking point is where I'll switch from blue to grey.  But I just realised: if I don't my first stab attempt, then I could just rip down and try again.  That's miles better than not trying at all.  So, who knows this may get picked up again very soon.

I also have a black jumper that I loved knitting back when it was a current project.  To my shame I have to admit that I took my measurements (in order to achieve the best fit possible) and then proceeded to apply the wrong measurement to the armhole depth.  I must admit that I was pulled up short about there being two inches in differences but I just assumed that the pattern must have been written for a petite figure, and not mine.  I should have thought it through a bit better!

So I need to rip this down quite a bit.  Not a problem because I like knitting and this is easy stocking stitch.  Just what the doctor ordered.  The problem is though that the yarn has incredible memory: I did re-knit a bit and the resulting fabric is glaringly different in texture.  I will have to rip this bit down as well and then wind the ripped yarn over a board, wet it down and see if it goes back to being smooth once it's dry again.  I seem to remember reading about a treatment like that to 'de-kink' yarn.  It's been a while and I didn't exactly expect that I would ever need to know, so I don't remember exactly.  I ought to google that.

This black jumper was the first full size garment that I started when the knitting bug really struck, about two years ago.  I have been knitting for about 30 years but it's only been the last few years that I discovered it as a craft and an obsession!

It is such a shame that this black jumper has been lying around unfinished for all this time.  Not as bad as my black and white (piano key neckline) top, but still.

Wouldn't it be nice if I could finish even just one item out of the whole lot?

Saturday, 8 October 2011

My knitting is stuttering

If my knitting was a car then it would be, well, stuttering.  Not really going anywhere, spits and starts, and definitely no real sense of purpose let alone progress!

I haven't blogged in a little while so I thought I might as well post a screen grab of my current WIPs:

That's without those projects that I've sent into Ravelry hibernation, just so I don't have to look at them every time I load up my project page.

The Levenwick cardigan didn't need sewing up (it's seamless, don't you just love that?) but I need to sew the pocket on as well as the buttons.  In actual fact I did sew four of the seven I need on, but then realised that at least one ended up in totally the wrong place.  Maybe sewing on of buttons isn't the most ideal activity to attempt at knitting group.
I may also have to rip the sleeves down an inch, they got a bit long.  Not too bothered about that right now though.

I may have run out of the icy pink yarn.  I can't for the life of me find another ball in my stash that I am sure I have.  It's probably found itself a terrific hiding place and is spending its time laughing at me!  I'll just leave it until I can think straight again and trust myself to check my stash properly.

That reminds me that I started another 4ply cotton project that I didn't list yet.  It's a mid pink, I know I only have four balls which really did not even feel like it was going to be enough even though the yardage requirement seemed to promise that.  Should listen to your instincts!  I found some spare black 4ply so I should be able to do a two-colour top.  Sleeveless, strappy, not too much back - that sort of thing.

The cream-coloured Trachtentuch is waiting to be dyed.  I would love this to be a rich but darkish brown!  I don't have anything in brown yet but there are some light coloured trousers that would go beautifully with that kind of shade!  There are a few other projects that need dying - I have the feeling that it'll be a very, very long time till I get to it!

Love the colourwork Birdsong socks, one of the few patterns that I just had to get even though you have to pay for it.  But I need free head space to focus on the pattern and I'm just not in the mood right now.

The Steinrose lace is at an awkward stage: there are flower shapes (sort of like Gentian?) that ask for a kind of cabling: you have to twist two stitches in every second row.  The result is very pretty but it is so tiresome to knit!  I hate cables, they're just not my thing.  Maybe in a chunky knit, but not in this fiddly Malabrigo lace.  I should probably send this into hibernation as well.

The Vintage doily is at a great stage right now: lots of very easy pattern.  Just a big zigzag really.  Totes easy to do.  Unfortunately there are a lot of stitches at this stage of the game and I keep wondering what possibly possessed me to knit this single-stranded seeing as it's 1ply!  What on earth...?

My rectangular Niebling shawl is the most accessible project right now: just stocking stitch until I used up a bit more yarn, then I'll pick up stitches around to do a narrow stocking stitch border.  Unfortunately I can't take it out and about with me: there are four circular needles in there (that makes eight needle tips) and I'm too scared about possibly doing someone damage if things went wrong...

So there you go.  Lots of hiccups and not a lot of progress to report on.

But at least I'm getting a blog post out of it.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Will I wear it?

I've just had the most brilliant insight ever. Well, it feels like 'ever' because something became so exceedingly clear only just now.  It probably should have been obvious but I never considered it before.

I have been puzzled by the way I knit and use yarn.  I thoroughly enjoy the whole process: from buying yarn (yep, I'm an addict), to looking at patterns and selecting the one that spoke to me the most, via chosing the stash yarn (let's pretend I always use yarn that I already have), through adaptating designs or improvising, and then knitting like turbo-charged, - to finally ending up with a finished item.

Unless of course it's languishing in my ever growing WIP collection. That's very much a possibility.  Often because I got stuck on something, or got a little fed up needling away at the same old item: I have startitis because I am itching to be knitting other things, trying something new, going for a challenge!

But that's not even the biggest issue that's been puzzling me.

Let's say that I actually finished something.  Yes, it has been known to happen.  And very proud of it I am too.  Lovely.

Why then do my Finished Objects so often go from lying around while still a WIP (grrrh) to lying around neatly folded in a 'Finished Objects' stack?  Why don't I actually wear and use the lovely thing?


I'd been trying to explore that conundrum by ruminating about whether I just enjoy the actual knitting itself so much that I've never been all that concerned with the outcome.  I was onto something but I hadn't thought far enough.

Now I'm looking at things from another angle.  Very recently I picked up an old idea and decided to run with it.  I want to, finally!, develop and put together a core wardrobe.  What's sometimes called a capsule wardrobe.  I love that word!  It sounds so seriously grown up.

The idea is that I have a list of 15 items (it was meant to be ten but it got longer, ahem, so sue me: it's my list), all clothing options that I decided I need.  Or at the very least: most definitely want!  I will write about them another time, this blog post is about my insight.  Suffice to say that I want to make sure I have no gaps of list items that just never made it home with me.  For whatever strange reason.

The list consists mainly of rather sensible items (skirt, trousers, blouse, jacket, etc) but it also has a couple of rather more ambitious items like a trench coat (I've wanted one for decades!) as well as the ultimate of desired clothing options: the little black dress.

Now I do realise that the last one is so very grown up that I don't actually know if I'll ever actually get one, let alone wear it, quite apart from the fact that I might never actually have an occasion to.  Might have to create one, hah!

But never mind.

I started going through my clothes, all that rubbish that accumulated while I wasn't looking, apparently, hoping to chuck stuff but mainly hunt out those items that get to proudly take a position on my list.  There is also a "list" of supplementary items that don't make 'the' list but are nice enough to keep and wear too.  Very important point that last one.

All of this has allowed me to look at my stuff with not just a critical eye but also a specific criteria in mind: is this item good enough?  Do I want it?  Will I wear it?

And that's when it went 'click' in my head.  All those lovely items that I knit up like possessed, are they items that I will wear?  And not just that: do they fit in with my other things, those things that are going on my lists?

Big insight: if a knitted item doesn't go with anything I've got that I like to wear, well, then the question of why a garment remains unworn is really not very difficult to solve at all!  It might be nice, but it's just not 'me'.

Major insight!  Bit of a revelation that one.

The nicest thing about this is that I can now make things that fill gaps in my wardrobe*.  I'm completely sure that I will still produce knits that don't fit with most other things, but that's the joy of creative making: we enjoy the process even though sometimes it doesn't have an outcome that's as useful as we'd like.

If I make something that I loved making but only realise later won't wear, well: then I have a great present for someone who will love it and will hopefully wear it too.

Fingers crossed.

*: I realised that I could do with something round my neck (a neckwarmer or a cowl, I've already got plenty of shawls) in either a plum or aubergine, or otherwise a dark red or pink. I think I've got just the thing in my stash!  See pic above.

Friday, 22 July 2011

My 'further reading' is on its way!

I went to Franklin Habit's wonderful class at Knit Nation called 'Photographing your fibre' and it was a great workshop.

I finally learnt the basics of photography - that's where all those seemingly tricky settings on your photo camera come in!  And surprise, surprise: they don't seem all that tricky, or certainly not difficult at all, when someone explains them to you in connection with the results you're hoping to achieve. Hah!

Like taking pretty pics for my Ravelry projects page.  Or even this here blog thingy.  Probably more the blog than the Ravelry page but my new found knowledge will, I feel entitled to hope, contribute to both!

Franklin recommended the National Geographic Guide to Photography, by: the Editors thereof.  So I had a mooch around the various online sites that get most of my book buying custom these days, and that's when things got a touch confusing.

It turns out that National Geographic has not just published one book on photography, but there's a whole series of them!


Now I was quite sure that I wanted the sort of beginners book that would explain the basics just like Franklin's class did so well. I wanted to go over all those settings again, and I was also very intrigued by Franklin mentioning that the guide goes into what to do with the digital snapshots on the computer with something like Photoshop. Fabulous!

So guides for photo film cameras as well as black and white photography were immediately out.  I also have no need (just yet, but give me time!) to get the one about landscape photography (I don't think my knitted projects have anything particularly panoramic to them...) nor the action shot photography that I almost dumped in my shopping basket before I realised that there's more than one (right at the very beginning before aforesaid confusion set in).

I almost got the one where the customer reviews describe their delight in having various Nat Geo photographers describe their tips, when I wondered if they'd ever taken pictures of knitting and came to the conclusion that, sadly, they probably hadn't.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel quite certain in that little bit of crystal ball divining...

I briefly considered the 'People and Portraits' version (seeing as models come under people, and portraits might have to do with things being close up) but was put off by the fact that there are named authors and not 'the editors' that Franklin mentioned.  I could at least make the attempt to get the one he described!  No matter how difficult and time-consuming this endeavour was turning out!  No: perseverance, girl, that's what you need, I told myself...

So after a fairly lengthy process of eliminating all those that I felt weren't the most ideal first buy, I was still left with two books that I couldn't make my mind up between!

Here are their covers:


They are both called the National Geographic Field Guide to Photography, - the first one has the subtitle: Digital (I reckon that's a good one if I wish to sidestep all those tips that might apply to the old-fashioned photo film cameras and associated techniques) and the second one says: Secrets to Taking Great Pictures.

Well, I'm sorry! But I was sold on the second one!
I have no idea if this is a good one to get, but come on! The promise of learning secrets - I mean that's what gossip is based on, isn't it?  The allure of finding out something that not everybody knows, basically the definition of a secret. Though at least one customer review said that though they appreciated what they learnt, they were still left confused about just what those secrets were meant to be...

So you've already guessed the outcome: of course I got both. Duh. (This is me we're talking about: Ms Overenthusiastic!)

But only (that's my justification) because I went for the used option and got both of them on the cheap.  I'm sure the words in them are just the same as in a new book and should this copy ever fall apart I'll be able to re-buy the one that I preferred.  I don't mean to boast but including postage I got both for under a tenner (in Great British Pounds, or Sterling, that is) - none too shabby!

I'm very pleased with my shopping spree and I am even more delighted to be advised that both books were despatched already as well.

I shall keep you updated on what they are like and if I like them.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Wasn't it lovely

Knit Nation 2011 was lovely!  I thoroughly enjoyed the market place and bought way too much yarn (definitely not a surprise, I knew I would and everyone who knows me knew I would as well.)

And Franklin Habit's class 'Photographing Your Fibre' was brilliant!

I tend to cycle through my hobbies.  Knitting has been the thing for the last two and half year when it was other things before.  Photography is one of them.

So I've been wanting to get better at taking photos for quite a while.  The Knit Nation class sounded great: combining two of my interests in a class given by someone who's blog I read and like a lot.  Brilliant combination!

It was fantastic.  I finally know what a f-stop is and what it does!  Hurrah!  It's about depth of field!
So if you've got your lovely model wearing a fantastic jumper you knit and want to showcase then an interesting backdrop is not a bad idea.  If however said background is so very busy that it crowds out the model let alone the great jumper, then that ain't such a great thing...

So if you set your f-stop setting to a measure that will reduce the dept of field so that the background is no longer in sharp focus but gets blurred out a little, then that's much better!

I learnt so much - about the types and sources of light.  I found out that trying to take photographs on a sunny, cloudless day is not the best way to go about it, and that a bit of cloud cover is much better because it diffuses that direct sunlight a bit.  Or you can have your model in a deep porch with the sun to one side.

Another very good thing to remember: keep the sun over your shoulder (if you're the photographer, ahem) to make sure that the sunlight lights up your model's face instead of framing a perfect silhouette if the sun is behind your model.

I really liked the fact that Franklin made the technical information about the settings on a photo camera so accessible and letting me connect them in my head with what I am trying to achieve.  The whole photography subject just doesn't seem quite so complicated any more!

Isn't that fab?

Now the only 'problem' is that I need a new camera... Not just want but need. My old one has been getting increasingly dodgy and I now know that it only boasts some preset settings (macro, portrait, mid distance and landscape, I think) and doesn't allow any further choice. Not something I can practice my newly won skills with!

I saw someone else's camera that allows you to display the settings you used to take a picture.  Now that sounds like an eminently sensible function to have!  I didn't know of this, I was already considering whether I needed to write up little cards with setting notes to include in the photo - while I'm practising. This is much better!

Yes, I do believe that I -need- a new camera...

Photos of the yarns I got are to follow.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Knit Nation starts today!

I'm off to Knit Nation tonight!  I can't wait!

The list of vendors reads terrifically wonderful: utterly, utterly tempting!

Just take a look:

Anova Books
Artisan Yarns
Atomic Knitting
Blacker Designs & Yarns
Brownberry Yarns
GMC Publishing
Great British Yarns
Habu Textiles
Jeanette Sloan
John Arbon Textiles
Juno Fibre Arts
Knitting Magazine
Krafty Koala
Loop Knitting
Old Maiden Aunt
Purl Alpaca Designs
Renaissance Dyeing
Skein Queen
StitchMastery Knitting Software
Susan Crawford Vintage
Sweet Clement
Tall Yarns'n'Tales
Toft Alpaca Shop
The Bothered Owl
The Little Knitting Company
The Natural Dye Studio
The Yarn Yard
Tilly Flop Designs
Twisted Angle
Well Manor Farm
Woolly Wormhead
Yarn Box

I am particularly looking forward to Sweet Clement yarns - Pippa's tweets have wetted my appetite for her amazing new colours!  I just cannot wait to see them.

I am also keen to check out The Little Knitting Company's stall - I cannot quite remember if it was lkco's online site where I saw linen yarns, whoever has any will have me hog their stall!

Quite some time in the past I heard of Sparkleduck yarns.  At the time I concluded that I would never be able to buy any of these because I couldn't imagine myself going to a wool event where they would be available (too far away, didn't find out in time, no money, etc etc).  Well!  How times have changed.
So very curious to see what these are like!

I also heard of several people sharing one stall which includes the two lovely ladies from the Bothered Owl - I'm rather keen to buy some of their crochet stitch markers!  They are extremely useful because you can hook them into your knitting or crochet and easily take them back out too without any danger of them coming off when you least want that to happen.  I think their designs are wonderfully quirky!

I will make a point of stopping by Skein Queen and Artisan Yarns too.  I have seen their yarns at other events and they are lovely.

And for the first time prior to this event I had the opportunity to hear about the sheer hard work that went into preparing for Knit Nation by those vendors who I think tweeted their progress updates in an exhausted bid to preserve their sanity!  I am seriously impressed by how much yarn they had to get ready, how much winding and labelling goes into all this - even down to keeping their fingers crossed that the sun would shine so the precious newly dyed yarns would dry okay!

The tales of back pain and incapacity, sore throats and colds abounded.  I am keeping my fingers tightly crossed in hoping that everyone recovers well enough by the time tonight's Market Place Preview starts!

I really must stop by those tweeters who I could identify!  One of them must be Easy Knits, I heard of Jeanette Sloan, Tilly Flop Designs, NicsKnots and Old Maiden Aunt.  Oh and Ysolda too of course!  Her photobooth sounds like a really good laugh.

Now, how soon can I get myself there and how quickly can it be 5 o'clock? Pretty please?


My own Twitter handle is: GiselleKnits.  Nice and descriptive.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Slippery slopes - it's a snow white jumper!

I finished a few more projects (yay to me!) - I'll need to write them up gradually.  I must have put more time into knitting and finishing things than writing about them.  Not the worst way round of doing things!

So here's the white jumper in Gedifra Amara.

Pattern:   Seamless jumper by Elizabeth Zimmermann
From:       Knitting Without Tears

I have a feeling that this yarn is being discontinued.  I bought one ball at John Lewis and then found the yarn pretty cheap on a website. They had nine so I snagged them all up.  I had started what was going to be a little scarflet (in a feather and fan pattern) which was going to be my 'leave at work and take with me to knitting group when I forget my normal knitting' project.  I must think of another one to bring in and leave under my desk (Note to self: bring it, don't just sing it).

Then I found that I needed ball No 10 as well.  I wasn't totally sold on the scarf idea in any case so I ripped that one down without much in the way of regret.

The pattern is wonderful, I really, really enjoyed knitting this!  I'm sure you're aware that I've got a soft spot for Elizabeth Zimmermann patterns and this one is just as idiosyncratically described and wonderful to knit as the others I've tried.  I just love it.

This version of the seamless sweater has the saddle shoulder detail.  I love the way the decrease line curves towards the body for an inch or so, then runs upwards for a good bit before it comes across to the neckline near the shoulders. It's a great shape, very flattering!

A friend is making the Hybrid sweater and I was 'helping' with it.  I'm sure that all the information I've thrown at her is more likely to put her off!  I must say that I enjoyed knitting this one so much that I'd like to try the Hybrid sweater next.

The yarn is very slippery, it literally flows onto the needles and runs back off them!  The yarn was pretty easy to unwind from the rolls of cardboard: you just had to hold it up and let a bit of it spill off!

It is made from a cotton core wound around with nylon thread.  The colourways in white and black are great: same colour for the cotton as for the nylon.  I feel that other colours just aren't as successful: the shade of the cotton is a lot more muted and dull than the nylon colour.  I think it gives the resulting fabric quite an old-fashioned look, I'm just not keen.  I first became aware of this yarn when I spotted the bright turquoise shade and went up to investigate.  On a closer look I chose the white instead!  Still, I'm not sure, but they may be discontinuing that.  At least John Lewis had it in their sale, 'to clear'.  It might be a summer yarn that's being rotated with whatever winter yarns Gedifra wants to get into stores.


I'm slightly annoyed that the decrease line at the shoulders is not perfectly straight: there is a kink at the point where you change to knitting the shoulder bits backward and forwards.  Minor niggle though.  I quite like my idea for the neckline: I did a K1 P1 ribbing and I think I used a thinner needle a bit further in - did the ribbing for long enough so I can turn it in, - but I also added some more stocking stitch and increased a few stitches around to make sure that I could sew the inside down in a suitable spot.  It worked alright!  I can still pull the jumper over my head - which has got to be the most decisive criteria for wethehr a jumper is suitable for wearing!

I really enjoyed this knit.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Oh that old WIP?

Glad you like it, I just flung that on and off my needles, nothing to it...

Yeah right, as if!!
It took me almost exactly a year.  A year of this mainly lying around.  I got the yarn in a sale (yup, there was a reason why this was cheap) and as soon as I knitted with it, I realised why.  This is called haspel silk and it looks gorgeous: lustreous, smooth, like liquid steel... Lovely!

Unfortunately it's a right b**ch to knit with.  'scuse the language.  As soon as you hit it with the tip of your needle, the yarn puffs up as if it was raffia.  It is extremely splitty and snags as soon as you even look at it.  If you have a rough bit of finger nail anywhere near it, you're bound to pull a puffy little cloud of fibrous plumage that will stick out like mad.  I'll be trying to pull all those to the wrong side with a crochet hook.  Well, you live in hope, don't you.

Love the stitch pattern.  I adapted it a bit from one called 'branch panel' - made the adjacent K2tog and SSK into a double decrease and mirrored each second section.  Unaltered it would have been quite wonky, this gives me something that looks like scales.

Which is why I am calling it Steely Dragon's Teeth Top.  Got a nice ring to it.

I'm very pleased that I managed to make it fit.  Pretty darn good even if I say so myself.  Love, love, love how the side seams came out.  Just take a look:

Isn't that delightful?  Well, I delight in them, I'm not usually so neat, so this is something to celebrate - seeing as we didn't get Rapture while I was sewing these yesterday...

I put a single row of crochet around the neckline as edging.  It looks a bit like I only cast off and then couldn't be bothered to do anything else with it but I wanted a neat (check), slim (check) and stylish (uh... not so much) edge.  Oh well, two out of three ain't all bad.

I even wove in - all - the ends too, and there were doo damn many of them I can tell ya... Maddening they were.

But now it's done, done, done, done!  Might even wear it tomorrow if the weather plays ball.

I wish everyone happy WIP finishing!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The dreaded sewing up bit...

I'm sure you've been there: you were enthusiastically knitting, crocheting, dressmaking, whatever... - it was all going so well!  You got very close to the finish line: you cast off your knitting, did the last bit of crochet, machine stitched the last hem... and nothing.

Dead stop in the water.

Those pesky finishing touches!  Loose threads to weave in, seams to sew or crochet up, buttons to sew on... I'm sure you know the exact type of thing I'm talking about.  Aren't they just horrendous to accomplish?

It's as if you were filled with all the joys of spring: boundless energy to motor through the bulk of your project, and just as soon as you get to within the last 5%, it all just peters out and you feel about as energetic as a depleted bouncy castle. Lacklustre and unenthusiastic doesn't even begin to cover it!

I think I might have had a good idea.  And boy is it paying off!  Do it the easy way!

That is if you're in the habit of meeting up with friends for crafty endeavours.  Or maybe even when you're not doing that already, maybe this is the start of a beautiful leisure pursuit!

Anyway, before I get waxing too lyrically: I had the rather utterly fantastic idea to propose a 'sewing-up' meeting of my knitting group (as one of our odd ones).  We had sock meetings, crochet get-togethers, evenings for tapestry and needlework - why not theme one as the encouragement to finish those pesky WIPs off?

And do you know what?  It's worked before it even happened.  Because 'The event' is taking place tonight and because I didn't want to run around the house like a panicked blue-bottomed fly, I actually collected a few projects in advance and stuck them into a carrier bag which, even better!, I then managed to take with me for tonight!  Now if that's not success in the making, I don't know what is.

Wait!  It got even better.

At lunchtime I -actually- (woo! Surprising myself here) managed to sit and start on one of those four projects that I took along.  Two smaller, two bigger ones.  I mended a hole in a favourite cardigan (major success! I've been wanting to wear said cardie for simply ages) and a hole in a sock (how do you get a huge hole in the back of a sock heel on only wearing it twice? I don't get that at all) - and I even started on whip-stitching the binding for a quilted pot holder, a project that's been lying around for about a year and lots and lots-of-time-I-don't-really-care-to-add-up-right-now... {cough}.

The one project I was hoping to be getting on with is the one I haven't started yet.  But it's only lunchtimes, the day is still young... so I could conceivably dedicate myself to that one as my main task of the evening?  Here's hoping...

It's my plum-coloured leightweight top that I knit from the back hem up, increasing into the sleeves and then down the front to the front hem.  With lots of holding against myself for measuring.  It's 1 ply held double and I already crocheted one of the side seams.  It took an entire evening!  Not happy.  Not looking forward to the second one, really need to get motivated here...

Keep your fingers crossed!  Any progress shall be joyfully reported forthwith!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Knit Nation - 15-17 July 2011

I am so excited!  I managed to snag myself a place on a specific class at this year's Knit Nation taking place 15 - 17 July at Imperial College.

I liked the description of many classes but didn't feel that I would get lots out of them.  I am happy enough to look for info about things I don't know yet, either online or by asking others.  But there is one class that I would give my eye tooth for!  (Whatever that might be)

I registered to do the 'Photographing your Fibre' class on Sunday given by Franklin Habit.  I immediately wanted to do this class because it would be very useful (I'd love to take better pictures for my Ravelry projects page) - and the description of the class convinced me further: I really, really, really want to do this! Badly.

The course info includes:
"...learn the basics of lighting, depth of field, styling and common fiber-photography problems like capturing true color, capturing stitch definition, and photographing lace. We will also learn how to make a light tent at home, cheap! You don’t need fancy equipment to make good photographs–the emphasis will be on getting the best possible images using your camera."

Tips on making a light tent at home!!  How completely, absolutely, totally fabulous is that?  I am over the moon!

I like the fact that students are to bring their own camera (so there must be some practice involved! And you learn with the camera you'll be using) and a project or two (boy, I can think of loads! It'll definitely have to be one black one, very difficult, and a funny colour like pink: for the trueness).  I am very keen on any tips to do with capturing stitch definition too - my favourite method of taking pictures involves taking lots of pics at as many angles as I can think of, in preferably day light, keep fingers tightly crossed and hope for the best!  Things have improved somewhat since I discovered the 'macro' setting on my camera, oops...

So I was already very excited about getting a place, about going to Knit Nation for the first time, and about what I was going to learn.  And then I finally got round to investigating the website a bit more, and my little beady eyes fell on some more information on Franklin Habit himself:

"Franklin is a writer, illustrator, photographer and author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). You can read his musings, essays, cartoons, and the adventures of Dolores the Sheep on his blog Franklin has contributed to Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Cast On: A Podcast for Knitters, Twist Collective, and writes a regular column on historic knitting patterns for"

Oh my gosh, I'm about to faint!  I've only been subscribed to The Panopticon's blog for utterly ages!  Love that blog.  I can't believe it's the same person!  (I still remember the blog post about 'fingering weight', look it up if you want a full-throated belly laugh, too funy for words...)
How do I luck into things like that?

I am just so excited, I literally can't contain myself!

Hurrah for a 'Tier 5 Creative Worker Sponsorship Certificate' whatever that might be, which makes it possible for him to teach in the UK.  Blog post on his Upcoming Events here.

- - -

I just looked at the list of vendors as well:

Artisan Yarns, Atomic Knitting, Blacker Designs & Yarns, Brownberry Yarns, Cocoknits, Debonnaire, Easyknits, GMC Publishing, Great British Yarns, Habu Textiles, Jeanette Sloan, John Arbon Textiles, Juno Fibre Arts, Knitting Magazine, Krafty Koala, Loop Knitting, NicsKnots, Nimu, Old Maiden Aunt, Purl Alpaca Designs, Renaissance Dyeing, Skein Queen, Sparkleduck, StitchMastery Knitting Software, Susan Crawford Vintage, Sweet Clement, Tall Yarns'n'Tales, The Bothered Owl, The Little Knitting Company, The Natural Dye Studio, The Yarn Yard, Twisted Angle, Well Manor Farm, Woolly Wormhead, Yarn Box, Ysolda

Some of these sound fascinating and I'm looking forward to checking them out!  I know Sweet Clement, Skein Queen, Artisan Yarns, The Bothered Owl and some other better known ones, - they do great stuff!  They really do.  There are some others that I heard of and I am very curious to check them out.  It'll be great!

- - -

The one project photo that I like best, is this one.  It is, of course, a complete fluke that it came out like that:

It was taken outside in day light, during a break in the rain - those bricks that I placed my project on were still pretty wet!  It was taken quite close up and I am not sure if the light wasn't a bit odd or not (what with the rain only just letting up a bit).  I was very surprised that the background came out as dark as it is.  The true colour of those bricks isn't like that at all, they are much lighter.  The yarn in real life is bright white - there is a hint of a creamy tinge in this.

I am so happy that I managed to get a place!  At 19:59 today I was sat hitting the refresh button to get to the registration page as quickly as possible and I was flying through the registration process - and it worked!  I have my confirmation email (I am still pinching myself to be honest!).
I am so very pleased, it's going to be very, very good!

I can't wait!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Spontaneous project No 2

Here is the second short-sleeved top that slipped into my queue at the time:

Debbie Bliss Prima - loosely following a Drops pattern but I modified this quite a bit because my gauge was very different.  I also didn't knit the sleeves separately to join into the yoke but did a temporary cast-on for those stitches and knit the sleeves back down.   Which means that the zigzag pattern in the sleeves is actually upside down.  Whoops... Not quite intended, really.

This colour navy is unfortunately a discontinued shade. I was incredibly lucky to get more of this yarn (after I, predictably, ran out) from a wonderful website called A Right Good Yarn, whose customer service was tremendous!

They specialise in some discontinued shades/lines and if you can't find it anywhere else (like me) then give them a go.

And imagine how my jaw literally dropped and hit the floor when I realised that somehow I'd lucked into more of the same dyelot! How lucky is that?

I love the way the zigzag and the garter stitch/eyelet strip works together.  I quite like the reversed effect in the sleeves.  The pattern suggested using just one row of garter stitch to start but I decided to repeath the same pattern from the neckline.  I really like it this way.

My silliness in not quite reading the pattern didn't just show up in my upside down sleeves (I should say top-down sleeves) - it started when I 'forgot' to put the zigzag pattern above the hem!  Oh well.

I must say that this very simple hemline is very much my thing.  A lot of my projects look like this.
 There is just something about it.  My most pronounced pet hate is rolled hems (they make me wince) and I am not keen on garter row hems either, though I much prefer those to the rolled hems that, to my way of thinking, just look as if the knitter hadn't realised that stocking stitch will roll up.

The above is the stage when I really got stuck.  Not even running out of yarn quite dampened my enthusiasm in adapting this pattern to my liking (thinking about it, I may have actually decided not to include the zigzag near the bottom, I don't quite remember now...) - but it took me a while to get from the stage shown above to the finished article.

I was very unsure that I had the "right" amount of stitches.  However many that was supposed to be.  My gauge is totally different than in the instructions.  Realising belatedly that I was meant to knit the sleeves hem upwards and unite into the yoke... oops, that slowed me down to a complete full-stop.  A full stop that incorporated much head-scratching and confusion.

Once I checked and found that the zigzag pattern repeat equals ten stitches, and counting mine found that I had 74 - it finally dawned that I couldn't reduce to 70 stitches but would be better off increasing to 80.  Which worked out really well.

If I had gone for decreasing then the sleeve shape would have been exceedingly weird.  An increase and accompanying flaring out, that I could cope with.

So here it is.

PS: 'Scuse the wrinkles, I forgot to take a picture before first wearing this (too impatient for once I guess!) and a subsequent wash.  At least it shows up that the yarn washes very well (just a normal 30 degree mini cycle, not even the delicate or wool function).  I did dry it flat and turned it over a couple of times.  I suppose I should have given the hem area a quick steam before I took the photo.  Next time.

Hats times two

I just realised that I forgot to blog about some of my recent completed objects. Hats. There's even two of them.

The Star crossed slouchy beret. Good fun to knit.

And also the Owl hat:

But why or why did I finish them just as the weather has turned so nice that April is pretending to be summer? My timing is seriously off...

After blocking over a dinner plate (which works surprisingly well):

And just because it looks so funny, here's the hat pre-blocking:

It looks like something out of the Kremlin!

Friday, 18 March 2011

A quick brown yoke top jumped off my needles

Bad play on words?  Well, this is about my knitting and not any typing exercises nor hedges.

This post is really the second part of my previous post, about my stash, suffering from startitis and the soul-gnawing result of too many WIPs that I seem incapable of reducing in number.

Startitis and me: we seem destined to remain footpath companions for a while longer on that long and winding road that's called life.  You know, that mysterious unwinding of a path that's meant to be about progress and learning and developing stuff 'n things as you get older and grow in maturity and... yeah right!

I think I'm learning that I like to indulge in the exact same things just as much now as I did yonks ago.  I've always been a passionate collector of 'stuff'.  Most of the time useful stuff, but stuff nonetheless.

Once I realise that specific types of 'stuff' are not that useful, I might even get myself to the point of getting rid, in a very gradual and cumbersomely slow approach of course - this type of thing just does not come easy: I might need it!  I might want it later!

A few weeks back I made a decision on my WIP number problem and my yarn stash's amazing ability of multiplying as if by magic... (cough, cough).

The decision is: blast it! (or other words to that effect but I don't want to type it, the one that starts with an f)

Blast it!  I'll just go for it.  I don't care how many projects I start, if starting one is what I want then the effing heck: I'll go for it!

And startitis worries: take yourselves by the scruff of yer necks and be gone!  You can go annoy someone else for a while.  Not me!

Which is a very long way of telling you about how the last three projects came about, and a labourious way of saying: I started three new tops.

And Haha: I finished one of them too!  Now how's that for jumping off needles?

Best thing: all three projects use up yarns from my humungous stash.  Worst thing: I had eight balls of Debbie Bliss Prima in navy which turned out not enough so I bought another six.  Whoops-e-doodah, slight fail of attempt re that stash-reducing thingy...

Here's the one that seems to have finished itself somehow:

A sudden urge had me investigate short-sleeved tops on Ravelry.  I found about 5-6 that I liked and then I started a navy round yoke top.  Ran out of yarn, ordered more, started a brown one (different design) while waiting for more navy yarn to arrive.

That's how that the brown project came about.

I enjoyed knitting it so much that I kept going once I got the navy yarn.  I am not as keen on this brown Lion microspun yarn as I am on the navy one, but I enjoyed the pattern.  I might make this again in a different kind of yarn.

Insights about momentous things like WIP counts and an ever growing stash

This is a post in two parts.

About that startitis thing...
A thought: I have two annoying problems to do with knitting: I have way too many WIPs and I've got a way too big stash.  Which means I have a real bad case of startitis -plus- ! the means to indulge in it too.

A bad combination?

I've been trying to reduce the number of my works in progress.  I have to say that that doesn't work.  All I do is to -not- list a new project on Ravelry if I get the feeling that I won't be finishing it any time soon.  Cheating is what I call that.  Also, my WIP number has stayed the same for way too long.

I won't go into the reasons why.  That'd be repetitive and therefore boring. 

Second problem: that stash of mine.  I reckon it'll take me ten years (if not longer) to get to the end of what I've got.  Knowing that I'll buy more during that time.

But I had a bit of an insight on that today.  It might even help to reduce my purchasing urges.

Ages ago I bought a rather nice ball of Lana Grossa yarn in a black and grey mix that's called Solo Meilenweit.  No idea what to make with it, and it was also a bit more expensive than I liked, but I still had to get it. Tss.  Major slap on wrist for that one.

Last year I went to Germany and made it a point to visit the local yarn shop, as you do.  They specialise in Lana Grossa.  I hadn't come across that before: a shop that buys from just one yarn brand.  Strangely enough although I liked some colours, I didn't necessarily also like the yarn they came in.  It was usually too chunky - most of the current offer was all Autumn and Winter yarns.  I like 4 ply or lace yarn best.  But I did find 300g of a nice sky blue cotton (left over from their summer offer from months earlier), some dishcloth cotton and a single ball of wooly yarn in a nice black and grey mix - so I bought all of those.  It wasn't that expensive, so I'm pretty pleased with my purchase.

I even managed to use up the six balls of blue cotton, on a sleeveless top.  Even more pleased with that!

Today, this morning, I had occasion to look at the Lana Grossa from Germany again.  While my eyes fell on that other ball of wool in black and grey from Lana Grossa that I bought quite a time before that...

You guessed it, it's the same yarn.  Meilenweit!  And not just that: the same colour number too!  Only difference is: the dyelots and the name on the German one is not just 'Solo' but 'Solo Tono'.  But the colour number is the exact same!  They BOTH say: 5208 and the most galling thing about the second one is that it was a little less than half the price... If I'd known that...

Now they're too similar to make a pair of socks out of each one of them, and they are not alike enough to be able to use them for the same project. I would have to say that buying both of these is a bit of a fail.  This raises the normal question of: "what the heck am I going to be doing with this specific part of my stash?" to the same questioned intensified by the power of two, at least...

The most intriguing conclusion I have come to from this is something else though.  This is supported by looking at my Ravelry projects page: there are the same kinds of colours over and over again.  I will never buy an orange or a beige.  I won't have to hold myself back very much from buying a green: I just don't like most greens.  I won't be buying the vast majority of browns either or any other colour with is very muted or sludgy or has a strong tinge of yellow in the mix.  These are just not my colours.  Instead I will go for the same colours over and over again.

I already concluded that I do not need another pink 4 ply yarn.  It's not difficult to guess why: I've already got four of those.  And there are lots of other fibre/weight combos that I already have in most of the colours that I would buy if given the temptation.

Conclusion: it's a good idea to mentally review my stash before buying something new.  Chances are that I've got it already.  If not the exact same thing thensomething so alike there's no point in buying another - because that would just lead to the 'what to do with it' question as above.  And feeling rather a bit sheepish. Ahem.

So my insight: there is an end in sight to my stash buying!  I won't by buying up any single thing I ever come across.  This is a relief.

It also makes me enjoy my stash more: the majority of yarns are those that I will be using, and those are the ones I'm looking forward to rediscovering as the perfect yarn for a new project. But I will be using most of it: I am happy to feel quite sure of that.

Which is where my next post comes in.

Monday, 3 January 2011

One more long term project completed!

It is a very pleasant thing when you hope to do something and you accomplish it within a reasonable amount of time.

I mentioned in my last blog post that I would like to do something about two sewing projects that are lying around, crying out to get picked up again, and a green top that needed very little to go from 95% to all done!

And here it is, I've done it!  (It 'only' took ten months):

My Green Summer Lace Sleeve Top (Ravelry)

I will post a better picture as soon as the top is finished blocking.  All the other pictures I took are rather fuzzy: I hadn't discovered the macro setting on my photo camera yet (isn't it wonderful that you learn something new every so often?) so no wonder...

My photography skills improved considerably since.

I could have waited for this top to dry but couldn't contain myself. Best strike while the iron is hot.

The details:
YarnDebbie Bliss Prima (half strand)
Needles3.25 mm (I think)
Patternmade up as I went along
Sourcelace patterns from Harmony stitch books

I wrote about my madness in wanting to knit this in a different weight than the yarn provides for (Splitting matters).  I am very pleased with the effect.  The only thing is that I should have paid more attention to the dye lots - I got 100g in a different dye lot and managed to introduce stripes across the top part of the garment.  That was completely unintentional and doesn't look interesting enough for me to get away with pretending that it is part of the design.

My solution to any kind of design problem: do something to make it look as if it was always meant to look this way.  I can't come up with anything in this case though.  I thought of embroidering some wavey lines over the stripes but I think that would make it look worse.  So far the stripes are relatively subtle, this is preferable to any 'solution' I can think of. Best leave things as they are instead of messing this up with an "improvement".

The sleeves were meant to be much more flared - possibly gathered at the top (at the shoulders) and then flaring like wings over the top part of the arm.  They didn't work out like that.  I still only attached them at the top half of the armholes which left the bottom half quite unfinished looking: the edges were a little raw and way too loose too.

I used buttonhole stitch to edge the open armholes, something like this:

buttonhole stitch
Or to show the detail a little better, only closer spaced together than this:

Also called blanket stitch
I tried to get these stitches as even as possible, but it could do with a bit of elastic thread to prevent the armhole curve from being too floppy.

The bind-off edging is my own design.  It is a sort of flared edge with picot details.  As soon as I can put my hand on my notes, I will blog about this.  I made up my own thing here because I wanted to avoid this from becoming too tight and rigid as happens when you bind off in the normal manner.

I do like very plain hems.  The yarn is 80% bamboo and 20% merino, so the hem (long tail cast-on, one row purl stitch and then stockinette), does not roll up quite as much as it could, - but it still does.

A turned ridge hem would have been better. Or I'll need to sew a fabric facing to the inside if the curling up remains a problem.