Friday, August 31, 2007

Guard Knitter in the Knitting Mobile

I've had a really busy, and sadly knit-free, few days!

Tuesday was a big knitting day though. A friend of a friend was moving house, into a flat on a really busy high street, and was worried that people would steal from her van while she was carrying things in. I offered my services as a carrier, but what with my reputation as a bit of a cripple I was enlisted as Van Guarder instead. They were very worried that I'd get bored, just stood by a van for hours.

How can a knitter who is not currently in the throes of RSI get bored while standing around for hours?!

So I got to spend lots of Tuesday lounging against a van, knitting. I decided not to take the shawl because I'd been a bit cocky the night before ("OMG I'm such a great lace knitter, I have this pattern completely memorised, I can totally watch TV at the same time... huh? Why I am missing a stitch?"), made a mistake, and realised that I do need to concentrate for shawl knitting! Likewise mini-hats would have been too awkward - I'm planning to knit those on looooooooooooooong metal straights held under the armpit, and thought that might attract undue attention from any passing police officer.

So cardigan it was. I got heaps knitted on the body (I think standing up was really good for my arms - must keep me in good posture!), and now I'm trawling ebay for suitable colours to do the colourwork in.

Sadly I just haven't had a chance to knit since then, but the weekend is a-coming :)

My pledge is going well! Innocent even mentioned it both on their knitter-natter page, and on their main blog too! I'm really hopeful that it will succeed, and maybe others will set up pledges too. More hats for Innocent!

Remember, if you're planning to knit a mini-hat, you can sign the pledge too :)

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

I'll knit hats, but I'd like you to knit some too!

So, since 2003 Innocent Smoothies have been selling drinks wearing knitted hats during November, in order to raise money for Age Concern (50p from every hat-wearing bottle sold goes to Age Concern). Last year some of my friends knit up loads and loads of hats, but it was during a severe-RSI period for me, and sadly all I could do was watch.

This year I have happier joints, and want to join in with The Big Knit!

There's a website called PledgeBank, of which the general gist is “I’ll do it, but only if you’ll help me”, and I've always thought it would be a great way to motivate charity knitting.

So I've set up a pledge too - "I will knit at least 5 hats for Innocent Smoothies' The Big Knit but only if 35 other people will knit at least 1 hat too."

Sign my pledge at PledgeBank

If you want to get involved please sign up! I'd love to have my pledge succeed :)

Innocent Smoothies make yummy drinks here in the UK (I think they may have spread across Europe a little too), and in November they sell their smoothies with little hats on the bottles and donate 50p to Age Concern's fund to help older people through the winter. All the hats are donated by the public, and this year they want to collect 400,000 hats in order to raise £200,000!

If my pledge succeeds then that means we'll be donating a minimum of 40 hats to the cause, but it would be great if we could send in more.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

T-minus 15...

(what does that even mean?)

Today I took receipt of one batch of newly bought stitch-markers. They aren't the ones I'd planned to use for my shawl (yeah, yeah, excuses excuses), but it means that if the second batch don't turn up sharpish then technically I have no excuse not to cast on!

And talking of technical things - it has been brought to my attention that some of my old posts are turning up in RSS readers. I have no idea why this is happening, but I'm not editing old posts right now. I will be soon though - I plan to start using the label function in blogger - so that's a head's up.

Oh, and Gods of Knitting Fate strike again. In my Start-itis post I mentioned that the Corset Pullover is languishing in my unknitted pile, despite the fact that I have the yarn for it and I even swatched (though it was so long ago I'll have to do it again). I've just found out that this week on Knitting Daily it is the week of the Corset Pullover. Think someone's trying to tell me something?

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Sunday, August 19, 2007


This weekend I may not have posted any more FO reports - but I have finished two more items! Yesterday I finally finished my Alien Illusion scarf! It's been on the needles since 2005 - so I've finally freed up my US5 Denises (I realise that they're Denises so I could just change the tips, but this is an achievement ;) ) ready for my Forest Sun shawl.

And then today I sewed up my new mittens. With the current weather, I may need them sooner rather than later!

I've noticed that I've got start-itis at the moment. I have start-itis for pretty much anything that isn't the Swallowtail Shawl knit with my Forest Sun skein. I find that I tend to do this whenever I'm gearing up to knit a major project. I did it the other year with the Corset Pullover (which is still not started). I think I'm just trying to put off the major thing, because I'm worried it'll end up all rubbish :-/

I mean, it's summer, I've just spun some delightful fibre to make a shawl... so why was I knitting mittens out of acrylic oddments?!

Last night I cast on for the Fairly-Easy Fair Isle cardigan from Stitch'n'Bitch Nation. I spent about an hour swatching and calculating, then cast on. After 5 rows, when I realised that what I'd knit so far was long enough to wrap around my body twice, I realised I may have made a teeny mistake in the figures, and decided to go to bed. This morning I recalculated, and it's looking a lot better. At least, a lot smaller.

The cardigan can be my brainless stockinette project (now I understand why people have these!), while I start on my lace shawl. Which I will do.

When the stitch markers I ordered from the US turn up.

Definitely. I'll start it then.


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Friday, August 17, 2007

Cushion Covers & Cushions

Another quick FO to slip in just before midnight! (apologies for the rather rushed photo).

A few weeks ago I woke up one weekend with an urge to make cushions and cushion covers. I ended up churning out 6 covers (4 still unfinished of course) and 2 cushions, alongside cutting out lots of squares to make a patchwork skirt with (still in square status; the urge has since passed).

(The orange one is a bit of a cheat - I made it about 8 years ago to decorate my room at university. But it's one a pair with the purple one).

I had planned to make the purple cushion back at university, but the backing fabric - the same shiny silver that I use for my spinning pinny - wouldn't go through the sewing machine (this was pre-overlocker), so I left it... And left it...

And then 8 years later, overlocker-enabled, I ended up hand-stitching it!

Ah well. I also made the cushion for the purple cover, using scraps of fabric for the stuffing. It's a really heavy cushion! But nice and squooshy.

The little one down at the front is a mini-patchwork (I also made the cushion inner). I had these 4 small squares of fabric, each with a different picture on. I've had them for years, and never quite knew what to do with them, so since I was in a cushion frenzy, I decided to stitch them together, make a matching backing sheet (2 blue squares and two red), and make a mini-cushion. It's just the right size for back-support, and I'm quite proud of the fact that I did it 'properly' and made sure everything lined up, and even put a zip in.

The effort must have drained me, though, for I haven't made (or finished) any more cushion covers since!

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Buttercup Lake Yarn

Here I am, being a good little Bee with the latest in this week's pile of FOs!

This one is super old - from back at the start of the year! I dyed it at the start of January, spun it at the end, and plyed it in February.

I had dyed the top for my Chapter Two yarn, and my Chapter Three, and I much preferred the Chapter Two - I think because it had more than two colours in it. So when I received my bumper pack of Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade Kool Aid, I decided to use just it and some Pineapple... and blend them in the middle.

The resulting skein is blue, yellow and green - really bright and summery, hence the same.

Of course, like most of the skeins I dye, it's not really my colours! But I can certainly admire it :)

Breed: Cheviot
Fibre prep.: Commercial Top
Colour/Dye: Natural white fibre dyed in the mircowave with Kool Aid (2 sachets Pineapple; 3 sachets Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade)
Weight: c. 100g
Yardage: 119 yards
WPI: c. 13
Method: Wheel spun on Haldane Lewis
Spun: Can't remember!
Plyed: 2-ply, using 'Lazy Kate' #2

I was actually quite shocked when I got the final yardage - I had thought that it would have been a lot more! It certainly doesn't feel super thick, but it is deliciously round and squishy.

I'm not really a yellow person, but the little curls of green are gorgeous!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

FO: Cloth Pad Kit

Well, I wish to keep up with my posting of one FO a day this week, but am in a bit of a rush and don't want to faff about taking photos. What do I have in my Photos folder already...?

Here we go: more cloth pads! (this photo shows the backing fabric - it's actually more of a teal colour)

This was a kit that I put together for a friend's birthday the other month. She's like me - very eco-conscious and very crafty. She also uses a Mooncup, but was talking about getting some cloth pads too.

I decided to give her a 'Make Your Own Cloth Pads' kit, and she really liked it! It was great, as not only did it help me to destash a bit, but I deliberately didn't include a backing fabric, so that she could use her own choice of fabric from her own stash.

I made one pad up as an example, and then gave her a neat pile of terry cloth and muslin (both of which are reused from barely-used terry towel nappies and burp cloths that a cloth-nappying mum gave to me) for inner layers and the top sheet respectively; some waterproof fabric to use as the last layer (it's a bit like thin shower curtain sheeting) and some instructions, all tied up in a big birthday bow.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

FO: Forest Sun Skein

Introducing... my first Forest Sun skein! This fibre was one 2oz batt from The Sanguine Gryphon, and it is bee-youtiful. It's 90% merino, 5% silk tussah and 5% rayon.

I had a little bit of a palaver with this yarn - for some reason, it reacted totally out-of-character for my spinnings, and was somewhat underplyed.

Most of it was absolutely fine, but the odd bit was far too loose for my liking:

The last time I had a yarn I wasn't happy with, it was my Mermaid's Hair yarn; it was far too overplyed, and I ran that through the wheel again. It only just fit on the bobbin then, and so I didn't think I'd get all the Forest Sun back on the bobbin as it was pretty touch-and-go in the first place. I didn't want to break the yarn either.

I asked on a spinning mailing list if it would be feasible to try out my new Turkish spindle, and add some extra twist to the parts that need it. However, itching to get going, I started immediately:

It was sloooooooooooooooooooooow going. I think that photo was taken after about 5 hours.

Of course, I really should've waited for a response on the list. Someone pointed out that the reason why my Mermaid's Hair yarn poofed up on the bobbin was because I was untwisting it. Since I'd be retwisting the Forest Sun, it would make it tighter, and it would all fit on the bobbin.


By this point, I was getting pretty darned sick of the spindle. The yarn was tangling and snapping, and I was spit-splicing it together loads anyway. I decided to break the yarn and finish the rest off on the wheel, then spit-splice the two yarns back together.

And tada! I got my beautiful skein:

Fibre: 90% green & brown merino, 5% gold silk tussah and 5% gold rayon
Fibre prep.: Batt, torn into strips
Weight: 2oz
Yardage: c. 380 yards
WPI: 24
Method: Wheel spun on Haldane Lewis with larger whorl & new bobbins
Spun: Clockwise
Plyed: Anticlockwise; 2-ply, using 'Lazy Kate' #2 (was a little unplyed, so replyed around half on Turkish spindle & sent the rest back anticlockwise through the wheel to ply a little more)

I haven't knit with this yet - it's next on my list. I did wonder if there'd be a problem since with the spindle re-plyed bits, I tried to only re-ply the un-plyed bits, whereas with the wheel it all got treated pretty much equally. However, in skeining, and then winding into a ball, there didn't seem to be any problems.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Turning old tat into new goodies

Thanks for all the kind comments about my lovely shawl!

In response to Kat: I don't know if you can get the pattern separately (although I really do recommend the yarn!) - it's probably best to keep an eye on Fyperspates pattern page.

I have decided that this week I shall attempt to post one FO report a day, because I've got a number of items that have been finished for ages (ahem, and in some cases, years!).

I had a very crafty weekend - mainly lots of sewing. I went through my mending pile, and then set about turning old clothes (that were so old and crappy that a charity shop would've chucked them) into new, usuable items.

First up: two old t-shirts, which became two new pillow-cases, and a stack of cloth pads:

I have a tiny square cushion, which I got at university when all the pillows that came with my room gave me neck ache. I made one pillow-case for it, out of satin, but otherwise just shoved it into normal sized pillow-cases, which drowned it. The satin one is great for keeping my hair unfuzzed, but not so good for my skin.

So, step up one black cotton t-shirt with a really lame (& cracked) logo on it, and one old pyjama top which is a cotton mix, but has cute sheep on, and hey presto! One plain black pillow-case with blue ribbons, and one sheepy-pillow-case (with a press-stud closure).

I then had enough fabric left over to make 5 cloth pads. I've been using cloth pads for menstrual protection for years now, and have a collection of ones which I've both bought and made. I love them! I recently got a Mooncup and it is utterly fantastic. I like to wear a pad with it though, just in case, and thought it would be good to have some really slim, lightweight ones. Usually I just overlock (serge) round the outside of the pad, but for these I decided to try stitching them with the right sides together, and then turning them inside out.

Then I took a really really old terry dressing gown, which I used to obsessive-compulsively pull all the terry-threads out of (this really was OCD - even years later if I put it on, I used to pull the threads out). I cut this up and overlocked round the edges to make a stack of scrubby washcloths and a bath mat.

And finally, I took the first overlocked garment I'd ever made. I got my overlocker for my 21st, and in a 'must sew must sew' fit, made a 'nightie'. This 'nightie' was a very thin neck-to-ankle tube, with neck and arm slits. Unsurprisingly, I never wore it (I would not have been able to move if I had!). I turned this into a pile of soft washcloths/ hankies, with contrasting overlocking to finish the edges:

And don't let it be said that I haven't been doing any knitting. I recently bought a book called 'Knitted Accessories' in a charity shop. It was only £1.80, and had a nice hooded poncho in it. That same day, a friend lent me an old chest of drawers to use to keep my stash in. So, in order to put everything away neatly, I got everything out. I found a heap of tiny oddment balls of yarn. Then I noticed there was a pattern in this book for a pair of mittens made from a heap of tiny oddment balls of yarn.

So far the chest is empty, my living has knitting all over it, and I've been making mittens:

Admittedly, I do need to work on my ball management somewhat!

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Friday, August 10, 2007

FO: Faux Faroese Mini Shawl

I shall try to go easy on the photos, but I love my shawl so much!

It's just perfect in every way. The perfect size - one skein is just right. It doesn't look it on the needles, but it really is the perfect length. There's no way it would look as nice with two full skeins as the ruffle would be too low, although someone perhaps with wider shoulders might want to make it a little longer. The ruffle is genius, and the yarn is soooooo squooshily fantastic!

I think this is the most wearable garment I have ever knitted (I do have to admit that apart from Ella, which is adorning the back of a chair, all my other knitted items are on the top shelf in the wardrobe :-/) - maybe because I think this is also the first time I haven't substituted the yarn? Ahem.

In all its glory:

Pattern: Faux Faroese Mini Shawl
Yarn: Scrumptious from Fyberspates, Moss colourway
Needles: US11 Denises
Modifications: None, I don't think. Go me!

One of the many things that I love about this shawl is that I can fasten it at the front like this:

No big knots, no flowing tails, just a neat pin and it's all sorted. It won't slip off, it keeps my shoulders nice and cosy, and makes a really pretty framing effect.

Ideal to try out one of my new brooches:

Another photo from the back - this was is taken while wearing the brooch - the top one was taken while the shawl was just loose around my shoulders (no - there isn't really a difference, I just needed an excuse to post another pic).

I'm going to the theatre in Stratford next week - I hope the weather holds so that I can wear my lovely shawl there!

Now the main question is - how many more shall I make? ;)


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

FO: Seaberry Shell

I have just finished my mini-shawl, and it is totally awesome! Hopefully tomorrow will be a nice photo day. It's so beautiful, and so clever and I'm so happy! Earlier today I bought this pattern from Sivia Harding: the Victorian Shoulderette which I've been admiring for the past week or so. The mini-shawl will actually do up with a brooch in a similar way to the VS, so that's a bonus too, as that's something I liked about the VS. Plus, I have too lovely little brooches I haven't had a chance to wear yet.

Talking of FOs - here's the one I made back in the end of June. Amazingly I completed it over two weekends - but it is a rather large gague. Unfortunately, like all other knitted garments I appear to have made (bar my lovely mini-shawl!), I'm just not sure about it. My body has grown very quickly recently, and I'm still not quite used to dealing with my new bosomses. So not quite used to them, in fact, that I am not posting a photo of me wearing this top, since it seems to, erm, emphasise them.

I think maybe if I had a tight, longsleeved top on under it I might feel a little more comfortable. Or maybe I should stop eating so many pies (gah - but then I'd need to buy more new bras ;) ).


From this:

To this:

To this:

Did I mention that I'd managed to get hold of some Interweave Knits? I think I have them all going back to Spring last year now, or maybe Summer.

Anyway, this is the Seaberry Shell from IK Summer 2006, by Wenlan Chia. I think this was the issue with an interview with her, and it talked about how she likes to use fat yarns, etc. I was taken by the idea of making something quickly, and liked the look of the Shell. Amazingly enough, one of the to-be-frogged-charity-shop-jumpers I'd bought last year fit the gauge to a T, and was cotton too (the pattern yarn was a cotton/silk mix). Seemed perfect, and it worked out really well!

I have enough of the jumper left over to make another one of Chia's patterns that is on my knit-imminently list, the Tea Rose Halter from, I think, IK Spring 07.

Pattern: Seaberry Shell from IK Summer 2006, by Wenlan Chia
Yarn: Recycled navy blue cotton jumper.
Needles: US11 Denises
Modifications: I cast on 40 stitches instead, which I think was 4 more than the pattern stated. I possible could've gone with more. I also had to get a few more repeats in to get it to the right length.
Button: The pattern calls for something crazy like a 1.75" button. The largest one I could find was about 1.5" and looked like a dinner plate! It took a while, going through my nanny's* button box, to find the perfect button, but I really like this dusky blue - it really sets off the navy of the knitting.

* I had a paternal grandma and a maternal nanny; I did not have an au pair.

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