Thursday, September 27, 2007

Where did all the time go?!

I am busy. I am sooooooooo busy. I am in one of those phases where there is so much to do of incredible importance that my brain just fries and I have to take the evening off because I can't decide which of the ridiculously important things is more important to do before the others.

There hasn't been much knitting recently, because if I haven't been working on part-time job A (site & user support for 3 websites & PA-ing for my boss) then I should be doing part-time job B (being a lecturer and running 3 courses - term starts Monday, but my summer has been spent planning and preparing), and if I'm not doing that I should be working on my PhD (ha! Like that's had a look-in since July), and if I'm not doing that I should be doing at least one of the 5 other things I've committed to in a fit of "can't-say-no"...

It's all fun, but it leaves little knitting time.

This evening I thought about my to-do list, felt a bit overwhelmed, and decided to watch TV and knit instead. (Tomorrow I will break things down into manageable tasks and get stuck in). I had previously got some knitting done last weekend during a 3-hour car journey, and finished the sleeves for my Fairly-Easy Fair Isle, so today I joined them to the body and have got started on the yoke.

I realised I never posted any photos of my mammoth Kool Aid dyeing session!

Here's the finished objects - don't they look cute?

The original yarn is 50% wool, 50% acrylic, so the original colour is still visible a little, giving it some depth. I think the core of the yarn was acrylic, and the outer part was wool, because they all have bright blue halos!

And the original colours. I like the fact that the original colours are all different, although I'm glad that the dyed versions go with each other a lot nicer than the originals do! But the fact I was able to use differently coloured originals and dye them with the same dye (blue kool aid) means that should they fade, I can just over dye the whole thing. (This picture shows the original yarns and the finished results sitting on top of the body of the cardigan, which is a dark navy blue).

It's not just yarn I dyed ;)

And here's the colours knit into the cuff of the sleeve:

I think they go really well together, but have decided when I do the yoke that I will leave out the green. I think I'll stick to blue and purple for the yoke, because I'm not really a lime-green person (or really a colourful person!). I have to keep remembering that although it's fun to knit with the three colours, and they are all pretty, I need to have a finished product that I'm going to wear.

Put it this way, I realised that I would not buy that cardigan (with green in the yoke) if I saw it in a shop.

However, the splash of colour on the cuff is lovely, and I really like how the blue and purple go together, so I'm confident that the yoke will be fine, and I'll like it. Here's where I'm up to so far (this photo shows the back):

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Friday, September 21, 2007


I haven't been blogging much this month, because I felt there 'wasn't much' for me to blog about. Of course, now I come to write a post I realise that there's loads and loads, and if I'm not super careful this will turn into one of my super boring posts with far too much text and not enough photos. I've been a bad blogger, I do apologise.

It also turns out - I've been tagged! It hasn't happened before, but I am going to try and combine an update with the tagging thing, and hope not to get too verbose ;)

I'm not going to tag anyone else, but if you want to do this, let me know in the comments!

I have been tagged by DarnCatCrochet.

So I'm it......

Here are the “official” rules:
1. Players must list one fact, word, or tidbit that is somehow relevant to their life for each letter of your first or middle name.

2. When you are tagged you need to write your own post containing your first or middle name game facts, word, or tidbit.

3. At the end of your post choose one person for each letter of your name to tag.

4. Don’t forget to leave a comment telling them ,they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

5. If I have tagged YOU, please join in on the fun! (Rules supplied by Hannah at bittersweet)

My middle name is MARY. My very Catholic grandmother was not overly impressed that I was named after a punk pop star (despite it being a biblical name!), so my parents opted for Mary as a consolation prize ;)

Now, DarnCat (I love that film BTW, the Hayley Mills version) won't know this, but it is completely her fault that I've got my etsy obsession. Well, her fault via Harry Potter. See, I spent the week leading up to the last HP book reading all the previous ones, getting totally immersed in HP land (my 'tradition' is to read each one in a day leading up to the release of the next one). Then the following week we saw the fifth film. Then... I was having HP withdrawal symptoms!

So I started lurking on Craftster, because they often have threads about the costumes in the HP films (one thread had a link to a documentary all about costume in HP films; as an ex-wardrobe mistress I found it fascinating). Then I found a thread about a crocheted Harry Potter and Hedwig (I love Hedwig!) that were just fabulous. Utterly utterly amazing; the best knitted/crocheted toys I've ever seen. DarnCat was the designer, so I started stalking her blog, desperately waiting for her to release the pattern (can I crochet? Of course not ;) ). She also did a Hermione and a Ron, and now I reeeeeeeally need my crochet-ing friend to teach me (I think I can bribe her with goes on my spinning wheel).

Now, I was aware of etsy before, obviously. But having money in my paypal account mixed with Harry Potter withdrawal symptoms... Anyway, since my pattern purchase, I may well have bought stitch markers, bracelets and t-shirts. Not all HP related ;)

And the best part: it feels like it's all free! My 'rule' is that anything bought with money from paypal, has to be paid for with money already in my paypal account that I didn't put there. i.e., I have to sell some of my old crap on ebay, in order to fund my etsy habit. So I'm decluttering too ;)

Earlier in late Spring/Summer, I heard about 2 things. Ravelry, and Mystery Stole 3. I decided that I was both above taking part in things 'just because everyone else is', and - being aware of my injuries - better off not joining a website which would involve more typing, nor a KAL that would involve loads of knitting.


Of course, I loooooooooooooooove MS3. If I'm honest, I've loved it ever since I first saw the first clue (yet I *still* didn't join, even though there were a few days left). I've been stalking Melanie's blog, desperately waiting for the pattern to be released. And today it has been! Hoorah!

So now I'm super antsy, waiting for my download email to arrive!

As for Ravelry, I've signed up, but I think there are still a couple of million people in front of me in the queue. I've realised that I don't *have* to actively type loads, but can use it as a resource. Same with every other Mystery project! Just because I'm getting the clues doesn't mean I HAVE to knit them! So I've now signed up for the Secret of the Stole and Secret of Chrysopolis as well, so I don't miss out again! However, I think MS3 is going to be my priority, once the download email finally arrives!!!

My pledge has succeeded! Hoorah! It's still open until the middle of October, though, so you can still sign up if you want :)

I haven't started my mini-hats yet, but I have been unravelling crappy old acrylic WIPs that I'm going to use the yarn for hats instead. I've pledged to make a minimum of 5 hats, but I'm hoping that I get to use up all my old acrylic instead! (I have nothing against acrylic - the emphasis here is on old!).

My friends are holding a Knit-In to make hats, so I'll probably start when we do that. Or I'll start this weekend - who knows ;)

I'm thinking for MS3 that I'll just go with Jaggerspun Zephyr, since that's the yarn used in the sample, and I can get that over here. I'm thinking maybe the darkest grey that I can get, and using lighter silver beads (I have no idea where to buy decent beads in the city I live now!).

There's a new Knitty, and I love Cherie Amour. I was looking at yarns to sub, but then realised that since it has a pretty short yardage, I could spin for it!

I've decided to get some dyed Corriedale combed tops, and make a 2-ply bulky yarn. My plan is to have one ply being all one colour, but to make the other ply multi-coloured (ie., spin a tuft of colour A, then B, then C, then back to A, etc). The two strands will barber-pole, but the knitting should appear to be striped, as the multi-coloured strand should stand out more. (Clear as mud, right?)

I'm thinking of using the following colours:
Plum Duff
Jelly Bean
Grape Jelly

They are all shown next to each other on this site:

Bu obviously the colours in the photo might be off! I think they're actually darker in real life, especially the grape jelly, as this site has the same fibre with different photos, and there are slight differences.

So! The million dollar questions! Do you think I'm bonkers? Do the colours go well together, or should I rethink? Which colour should I pick to be the single-colour ply? I'm thinking Jelly Bean or Plum Duff (but that might have to depend on me sampling once I've bought the fibre).

I'd really appreciate any input, because Mr Bee is a) not really interested b) complaining I have too much fibre already, and why don't I use that instead (answer: I don't have enough of any one fibre!).

My MS3 pattern just arrived - hoorah!

(oh, and I failed on the 'not being too verbose' front: I'll do photos soon :) )

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Yet more blithering

It's not a good week to not have the camera! Luckily I've remembered that I have photos from an old secret project which has finally been sent to its recipient, so I can post those soon.

Today has been a fun fibre day. Let me put it this way: my fingers are blue.

And no, I don't mean with RSI numbness. I forgot to wear gloves during some very hands-on Kool Aid dyeing ;)

Today I went to my first Guild meeting. There is a little bit of a story to this, which I think I have previously been too embarrassed to write about. There was a summer fete style event back in June, which I went to, because my friend had been the year before & said there had been spinners. So I packed up my [empty] spindle (at this point I didn't have the Bosworth, and had only spindle spun about 15 yards altogether!) and some merino top, and went to find the spinners. Well, it was a hot day, I was nervous, I was babbling... and I was completely incompetent at spinning! I hadn't pre-drafted, my hands were sweaty, I was being watched by lots of people, I kept dropping my spindle (as in, drop it and it rolls under a table, kind of dropping it). And my babbling was about how good at spinning I was, so I really was setting myself up for humiliation. Uh-huh. It was one of those days.

(This is why I was so thrilled that I didn't suck at spinning in front of the Majacraft designer and the spindling tutors at Woolfest! I had previous form for looking like a prat).

What I should've done was taken a pre-spun spindle or my Ella shawl, rather than trying to join in.

Anyway, today was a lot more relaxed. It was the first session after a summer break, so it was just a 'bring a craft & show'n'tell' type event. Seeing as I am not very good at meeting new people, it went well! (I think I brought the average age of the room down to about 79 ;) ). I got some spindling done on my Bosworth (my spindles tend to get neglected), showed off my half-completed Swallowtail, and got to see an Inkle loom in action.

When I got home I ended up knitting more of my cardie. I'd been talking about dyeing earlier, and all my yarn has arrived, so all that was left to do was guess-timate how much yarn I'd need to dye. I did this by knotting a marker onto the live yarn at yard points, and seeing how much I was using for each row.

The dyeing has gone OK, I think. Not quite as consistent as I hoped, but that's my fault for using drink as a dye! I ended up with an ounce of each colour yarn (hot pink, yellow & 'camel') which I wanted to overdye with blue Kool Aid to get purple, green and blue. 12 sachets of Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade, and I think I've probably saturated it as much as it will go. The yarn is 50% acrylic, so I knew it was never going to be completely overdyed. I might reskein and use one further sachet on each to make sure I've got as complete coverage as possible. I've certainly got good coverage on my fingertips!

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

New fings

Sadly no photos, as Mr Bee has taken the camera away with him, so I shall attempt to not be too verbose with a filler-post.

I've been a-shoppin' again (that's the problem with me decluttering by selling stuff on ebay... I immediately find stuff to spend the paypal money on!). This time I bought some Knit Picks options needles, in size US4 & 5. They've only just got a stockist in the UK, so I settled down for a long wait thinking there'd be a waiting list, and - whammo! - they arrived today!

I decided not to get the whole set (although I've spent 1/4 of the cost of it on just 2 sets of needles & cords :-/) because I do love my Denises. Plus I have heaps of inherited straights. But the Denises only go down as far as a 5, and the 5 is a right pain in the arse! I'm using it now for my Swallowtail, and half my 'knitting' time is actually spent easing the stitches over the join. Size 6 and up is fine, but the 5s are a tad fiddly.

I really want to switch immediately to my Knit Picks, but think I should wait until I've finished the Budding Lace part of the shawl. I've only got 2 more repeats to go, so hopefully it won't take too long! My gauge tends to change between plastic and metal, so I thought if I switched needles between lace patterns it wouldn't be too noticeable.

Next purchases have been balls of yarn for my Fairly-Easy Fair Isle. I have 10 balls of Sirdar Nova in navy (which I'm using for the body), and 10 balls in hot hot hot pink. I dyed a sample of the pink with blue Kool Aid, and it went a lovely purple colour, so I thought I'd buy some more light colours & see what shades I could get. I've bought 2 yellow balls (I hope to get green!) which might not turn up for days; but the 2 balls of 'camel' arrived today. Or yesterday. Who knows? The postman left the package behind the dustbin and didn't knock or leave a card.

I want to wait for the yellow to arrive before I do lots of experimenting, so it's a good job I can occupy myself with my new needles!

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