Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Finally, finally, finally!

I have finished the funky scarf for Linda and posted it off to her. I am so relieved, it was an ordeal in the end, but I do like how it turned out and when my hands have had a rest I might try and make one for myself. It is 100% cotton and my own design.

I started by crochetting a grid in chains and trebles (9 chain, 1 treble) but every now and then leaving a square gap to add a crochet flower. This was the sketch I worked from. Really professional looking - not.

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I added lots of curly wurly fringes, the idea being to add leaves and flowers at the end of each. But when I had finished the basic scarf I realised that I had 90 flowers and leaves to crochet and sew on! However it was finally completed and here are the pics to prove it.

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Ally Pally part 2 - The Superstars

Where else could I rub shoulders with so many luminaries of the knitting world?

My friend Margareta and I went to a Prudence Mapstone workshop on Bullions (a particularly difficult crochet stitch which looks fantastic in freeform). We caught up with her later on her stall.

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Then there was Lucy Neatby, who I think is just fantastic, telling us how to keep our stitches contented. I also learnt how to do a quicker and looser cast off.

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She also described how this fantastic waistcoat is made out of 4 triangles. Well I am sure only she could make 4 triangles look this good.

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I wanted to buy some Cashmerino to make the
Fetching fingerless gloves so I headed for the Debbie Bliss stall. I didn't realise that there was an Aran and a DK weight and couldn't remember what the pattern used. So I asked the lady herself.

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I was amazed to find out she was unaware of the pattern, but then I suppose people use her yarns for stuff all the time. Given that only one ball was necessary she thought the DK was the more likely but to be on the safe side I bought one of each. Just as well as it turns out to be the Aran yarn that is needed! However there is a knitalong for Fetching and someone posted that using the DK with 2.5mm needles gives a child size pair. Perfect.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Ally Pally part 1 - The Shopping

So many things to buy... There was a lot more knitting this year and about 4 or 5 spinning based stalls when I only remember 1 before, but on the whole a lot the same as last year.

So what did I get? - A swift and some short bits of merino tops in lots of colours from the
Handweavers Studio. A travelling bead organiser for myself and one for a Christmas present.

These magazines, there seem to be 2 new UK ones
Knit Today and Yarn Forward. Knit Today seemed a bit of a clone of the 2 existing UK mags but Yarn Forward was much better and I am considering subscribing.

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This fabulous book, I want to make so many of these bags.

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I just discovered that the incredible swan bag S'wanderful has it's own knitalong as well.

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And Yarn! Some of Lucy Neatby's Tradewinds Celestial Merino in a yummy Fiery Fuchsia, I might make socks with it or just fondle it.

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More Sock wool from Schoeller and Stahl and Regia (Regia silk and Bamboo). Some Lambs Pride Worsted, just to try it out. Some unbranded lopi style yarn in reds and black, Debbie Bliss Cashmerino and yes some novelty yarns for trims on bags and gloves.

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I also fulfilled a long held wish to have some hardwood sock needles and nearly broke the bank on these
Monkey Sticks (2mm rosewood) from Foreign Strand . The trouble is at this size they are a bit bendy and I am scared of breaking them!

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I also bought a set of new crochet hooks on the recommendation of Prudence Mapstone who says they helped with her RSI. They are imported from Japan and are comfy to use. I went to her workshop on Bullion Stitch. She recommends an even single ply or a skeined counter plied yarn for this stitch. I tried the Lambs Pride Worsted and it worked brilliantly. I must try and get more of this in other colours. It seems a mite pricey though compared to the States. I paid £5.99 for a 4 oz skein (Thats almost $12)

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And fibre. I scored 200gs of Tussah silk to mix with the mohair from my goats and a luscious batt of Finn wool dyed in purples, reds and orange from
Piiku. I remember last year they almost sold out the first day! I think it is intended for felting but I bought it for spinning. It is a shame I had left my euros in the car as she would have accepted them instead I cleaned out my purse of sterling (until I encountered the next ATM)!

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

First Things First

Thanks for all the encouragement and advice. I am still having problems with my hands and am beginning to suspect arthritis. Although a friend suggested it might be a withdrawal symptom from stopping steroids (I had been taking steroids, initially very high doses, for a year and a half. I had a something (infarction, odema, aneurism - something) on my optic nerve and started to lose my eyesight (very scary). My eyesight is better than ever now but I had to withdraw the steroids slowly or the condition recurred. I ought to express my gratitude to the French Health System at this point who dealt with the situation so promptly, I am positive that if I had still been living in the UK I would be blind now). Anyhow maybe this is some kind of body detox and it will work itself out eventually. Once the Funky Scarf is finished I will avoid crochet for awhile. In reply to the comments I am sure the way I hold my hook exacerbates the matter and I have watched other, faster, better crochetters hold theirs completely differently and tried to emulate, but I get so clumsy I drop everything. I would also like to knit Continental and have the same problem. I obviously need more patience and willpower. BTW (Jaichan in the comments) what is a pastry scraper? Why would you want to scrape pastry?

I did get the fingerless mitts off to my Warm Hands, Warm Hearts swap pal Amy. I knit them out of Colinette Tagliatelli, a 90% merino tape. The suggested needle size is 8mm but I used 5mm and loved the resulting texture, very firm and like dense velvet. I stupidly didn't take a photo so will have to hope Amy posts to her blog when they get there. I am making myself a really long pair though which I hope to finish when all my 'duty' knitting is done. I should finish the funky scarf this weekend but in the meanwhile have received mine already from Janine in Guernsey. It was in 3 narrow strips joined periodically with tiny flowers. Very clever and quite lovely, it has attracted many admiring comments. Also with the scarf were some knitting magazines and some Green and Blacks chocolate (divine) I had never tried the milk one before so I had to sample it straight away (thats quite normal behaviour surely?)

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Dare I show my face in public?

I am so behind with everything!
I owe a funky scarf, a pair of mittens and something angelic knitted for a one skien orphan, and I am so behind. So what is the problem? Well it is my hands they hurt so much when I crochet for more than a few minutes and stupidly I opted to crochet the funky scarf. Since that is the most overdue I have been concentrating on that but I may have to rethink. Knitting doesn't seem a problem. I have never had this problem before so I am hoping it is temporary and goes away forever - soon.


1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I prefer natural fibres, wool, silk, alpaca, soy, bamboo etc but do not have an absolute downer on fancy yarns in small quantities for such things as cuffs on gloves particularly if they are spectacular. I adore multicoloured yarns both bright and muted, Colinette is perhaps my favorite but since I resell it I have plenty. Noro is also wonderful. however I am beginning to value solid colour yarns having realised that having multicoloured everything doesn't suit many people! I have rediscovered lopi yarns which I used to use alot and have started using Debbie bliss Cashmerino and Lambs Pride Worsted both of which I really like. I am open to new ideas here. I also spin so spinning fibres are more than welcome. Just getting into sock knitting too, I have plenty of Opal sock wool but adore stuff like 'Socks that Rock'.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
Mainly decorative vases.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn?
Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I'm self taught and knitted my first item about 30 years ago but there was a big gap before I took it up again about 3 years ago. I am a competent knitter and happy to adapt patterns and make up my own but there are still lots of techniques I haven't tried.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
At least 3! Amazon.co.uk , Amazon.com, and Amazon.fr.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)
Lavender, geranium, Rose

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Is there anything more divine than Reeses's Peanut Butter Cups in all their manifestations?(Especially as they are not available here)

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I spin, I dye, mess around with beads and cardmaking, stained glass and sewing. Interested in anything crafty.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I am fully MP3 compliant and like a diverse range of music from Dylan to U2. Female singer-songwriters, Alanis Morissette, Dido, Shawn Colvin. Souxie, the Au Pairs, Ova, Holly Near, Laurie Anderson. Though I could probably do with some education in classical music. I enjoy talking books and the spoken word too.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
Purples, reds, greens, in all their shades. Intense jewel colours of most colours except browns and pure yellow and blue. Grey and black. Quite alot of 'sludgy' colours including browns and yellows. Blues if they are 'off' (towards the purples, greens or greys). There is very little I do not like in the right combination though pastels are not a favorite.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
1 partner, no resident children. 5 much loved cats (4 black, 1 grey) and 2 Angora goats (who give me lovely mohair)

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
Yes to all though ponchos I find difficult to wear.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Scarves, wraps, fingerless gloves.

13. What are you knitting right now?
A scarf, 3 pairs of fingerless gloves, a shawl and a One Skein Wonder

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Indeed I do.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Whatever suits the job best. I generally tend to use bamboo straights upto a size 8, largerger than that plastic is lighter. I have just bought a set of rosewood dpns which I have yet to try. In circulars I like addi turbos.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
I have just bought a swift. I have 3 ball winders none of which work and I keep thinking I will be able to cobble together one that does from the three ;)

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
Hmm, mumble... more than 20 years (I am thinking of frogging it as I have lost the pattern)

18. What is your favorite holiday?
I like all holidays but Easter with its promise of spring is always nice.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
besides yarn? and spinning fibre?

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I have a subscription to the 2 UK mags 'Simply Knitting' and 'Knitting' but will let them lapse when thay are due as they are uninspiring. I also subscribe to Interweave Knits (which I enjoy) and Vogue Knittting (which I am sure I would enjoy if it ever arrived). I enjoy reading inspiring magazines and would be delighted to receive back issues (even well worn ones) of interesting mags. I am currently coveting the felted clogs (knitted and crocheted) on the Stitch Diva site. I would like to try and get the short Brittany dpns in 4.5mm and 5mm for knitting gloves. I have looked fruitlessly for some short bamboo straights for modular knitting.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Having ventured into the realm of socks I want to build on that. I want to try my hand at a lace shawl. I have just done the Prudence Mapstone workshop on Bullions and have all her books so want to try something freeforem. I adore Debbie News book and want to try labyrinth and virtual knitting.22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? Just starting out.

23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)
1st April (no joke)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Normal Service is resumed.

I have been away for ages because after all the distress of Nick's death and the preparations for his memorial service my broadband went down.

The helpline was almost impossible to get through to (it took 30 hours of regular calls before I managed to talk to a person at 1am). They sent out a new router but that wasn't the problem. It was the line. So they informed engineers and told me that it would take 8 to 15 days to fix. Luckily it was a lot less than that.

So I have lots of catching up to do and I beg forgiveness now if I miss out any thanks due to anyone.

First off - Sock Wars!

Well it was a confusing start. Dossiers for assassins were due to be sent out on 22nd September but no time or time zone was given. All day there was speculation on the forum including the slowly sneaking doubt that it might all be an elaborate hoax. However yarnmonkey who was coordinating the whole show lives in Belfast and was caught in hurricane Gordon. She is fine but comms were down. In a brief spell online she managed to get the pattern posted on her blog and later a list of assassins and victims.

It was chaos for a while however as many finished their socks and didn't know where to send them. Wonder of wonder I was one of those people. Yes, really, I finished a pair of socks in a weekend! Only my second pair of socks ever. I never thought I would ever be able to finish a pair of socks but I have done it in a weekend. Considering my record for finishing ANYTHING this is truly nothing short of a miracle. It just goes to show what a bit of competitiveness can do.

Here is the proof. Oops forgot to photo them before stuffing them in an envelope in my eagerness. Well here is a pic of them halfway through.

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Pattern was the Sock of Doom, knitted in Opal 6 ply on 3.5mm dpns.

This has been so good for me in terms of helping me finish things I never even had second sock syndrome, but I am such a sluggard compared to some. i am not sure who was the first to finish their socks but Joni posted pics of her finished socks in the early hours of the morning the day after we received the pattern. I am in awe.

Beware this woman she is a dangerous, approach with caution.

Well I sent my socks to my victim on 26th September but before she could send her part knitted socks to me I was assassinated by a lovely blue pair of socks that came in a parcel full of swag!

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There is some gorgeous Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn, it feels so soft. A stitch 'n' bitch Project Journal that looks so useful, I have started using it already. A PMS shopping list magnetic pad that brought a smile to my face (it is so how I am feeling) and a photo poem book with the cutest animal pictures that really cheered me up. And of course the socks! I can only photo them here as I wrested them from Keith's grip - he stole them from me almost as soon as they arrived even though they fit me perfectly! Thank you so much Ninja Knitter.

What else, oh ages ago I received my stitchmarkers from Mark those Stitches.

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There were some really cute ones, I love the green turtle and the cat one. Thank you Yarnmaniac

I was also part of the Magic Ball of Yarn Swap and received these goodies from Marylyn

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This is the ball of yarn I sent to my partner, 2 pictures from different angles. I had a lot of fun getting it together. It went to Cassandra.

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What else have I been up to?

I knit a One Skein Wonder for my son's girlfriend, Caroline. It is in Colinette Prism colourway Blue Parrot. It took very slightly over one skein (I ran out halfway through casting off). It looks tiny but I had a friend try it on and it looks good.

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I should really send it off but I want to make some fingerless gloves to match.

Talking of fingerless gloves these came from Japan.

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They were knitted by my One Skein Secret Pal, a little late but so sweet, all my friends have tried them on and insisted they look much better on them! My pal was Kastra on LiveJournal (but I haven't managed to link to it).

I also became a One Skein Angel for Katie at Daisychains

Last Thursday I went to a one day patchwork workshop where we were to make a log cabin patchwork in a day! I didn't quite make it but my friend Sharon did.

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She was a beginner sewer too!

My patches are not complete yet and I think I might make them bigger. I went for batiks (just love those bright colours).

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Will I get this finished without the pressure of a workshop? I hope so.

Last thing for now, a picture of the monthly spinning group that has started up here.

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Well thats enough for now but I must post my SP9 questionnaire soon.