Tuesday, 28 April 2009


I'm so excited! My new yarn has arrived from Needlefood and it is GORGEOUS! I always look forward to actually holding the yarns and seeing all the subtleties in the colour for myself. And these are stunning. I bought Scotty's sunflower (the ochers and umbers) and Kitchen's on fire (the reds and fushias - of course:-).

They arrived beautifully wrapped with little stitch markers on a ribbon binding the top - what a beautiful idea! My own stitch markers:-)

Here's a close-up of the top of the bag and the stitch markers. The whole package is so well presented down to the last detail, it really makes you feel special and valued to get such a super pressie through the post!

Out of the wrapping, the yarn feels so soft to the touch - 80% merino, 20% Nylon. Both these skeins are 4ply/fingering weight and have approx. 352 metres per 100gms. So that should be enough for a lovely pair of socks or a small shawl. I'm beginning to see how lovely sock yarn can be in wraps and lace shawls and I think I will be torn whether to knit the fushia skein into socks, which I would love, or a wrap, which I would also love. Sigh! Choices, choices!

The colour blending close up has so many more colours to it - ochres, green/bluey/greys, red ochres, umbers, siennas - all rolled into one. I just can't wait to see this one knitted up. I will have to choose very carefully as I want all these colours to stand out in their full glory and some patterns can be too busy and kill a variegated yarn.

The Scotty's sunflower was a pleasure to photograph and I managed to get some lovely colour perfect close-ups but the fushia! I always have trouble photographing strong pinks and magentas and you would think with how often I use the colour I would have cracked photographing it! I used a polarizing filter which used to work well on my old non-digital camera but I think it was just a bad combination of poor light and - well, me! I'll have to crack this. Any suggestions welcome:-)

So this is as close to the true intensity of the colour as I could get even though the depth of colour and clarity isn't as good as I would like. But it is really bright:-) Well, it is called 'Kitchen's on fire'!! If you like to look closely at the colours before buying yarn, then it would be worth popping over to Needlefood's site to have a look at her excellent photos - and she has close-ups of all her semi solids and variegated yarns. Here's her better picture of this fushia yarn! (told you it was a lot better!)

What was also a lovely surprise was a free goodie bag with my order as it is their first month of trading. Look! Soak! I haven't tried that yet - another major excitement:-) I know, it doesn't take much, but Soak! Yay!

I also got a little lavendar bag as a moth repellant for my yarn:-) Nice touch and smells gorgeous too. I must also admit the sweeties in the background were pretty much gone by the first day - yum!

These lovely yarns came all the way from New Zealand and were only a few days in the post. And the postage was comparable to UK prices if not cheaper. The yarn prices themselves are very reasonable for a hand painted skein too. It's always easy to forget to look outside your own area for yarns as it's natural to presume it is too costly but international buying is now very competitive and very good value for money.

With all the care and attention to detail and, of course the quality of the lovely hand painted yarns themselves, I will definitely be returning when I need some more Needlefood!

Friday, 24 April 2009

Cheery Rhododendron

Not much in the way of knitting has been going on today due to this one new purchase - my lovely pink Rhododendron. It's officially called 'Cheers' I think, but it's now stuck in my head as Cheery - as it is bright and cheery! I had only gone into the garden centre to get some cat friendly slug pellets and this was calling to me. None of the rest were in flower and this was bursting with colour. And a glorious pink! I love how the unopened buds are a deep magenta but the flowers themselves are a delicate lighter pink with those lovely deep pink spots inside.

And just why has this lovely plant stopped me from knitting, you ask? Because I have to clear a space to put it! It grows to 1.8m x 1.8m and needs to be in a more protected space. It was originally going to be a lovely evergreen windbreak to stop all my other plants dying on one side of my garden but the label says it won't like that at all. But now, I have to bring my garden excavation plans forward a little:-)

This year, we've decided that we will still grow vegetables and tomatoes but not in the designated vegetable patch. The slugs were getting fat and the soil wasn't that good for growing, so this year we are having a vegetable and herb pot garden!! This leaves the old veggie patch empty and we have dithered between paving it, planting it with a few plants but we don't really have enough to fill it straight away, or maybe even making a zen garden for me to relax in. I thought that would be the cheapest option - gravel, rake and a few stones - ummm!

But now I've impulsively bought my cheery rhododendron, it needs a home so back to being a raised flower bed it is. Mind you, it will take pride of place:-) and I can 'borrow' some plants to pad it out a bit from elsewhere in the garden - she says optimistically.

So we are now knackered from clearing the surface, digging out all the accumulated weeds and laying out the bed with bricks. But too tired for any planting. So, after a day of hard graft and no knitting, cheery is still in it's pot but a lot closer to a new home.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Albem is finished!

As you can see I had a busy night last night:-) Yes, the Albem cabled bag is now officially finished. It was really easy to finish off too. I thought I would use blanket stitch or similar to wrap over the edges but if I had read the pattern that far, I would have seen they suggested crocheting an edge all around. Duh! In fact, it said, stitch all the pieces together and then crochet the edge. So I didn't:-) I just joined them with the crochet chain. Half as much work! The crochet works well to strengthen the edges too. I may have done mine a wee bit too close together as the fabric is rippling slightly - but in my haste to finish, I didn't block the pieces:-0 So it's more like a combination of the two. But once you have something in the bag it's fine!

Took this to show you the final length of the strap. One big loop attached on all three sides with plenty of shoulder strap left. This sits very comfotably just above the hip so once something is in the bag it will be lowered slightly to hip length. The strap isn't giving too much I'm pleased to say. Good thing too! So changing the pattern to cable is a success.

The only thing I should have done differently - and it may bug me enough to go back and change it - is the loop for the toggle. As you follow the crocheted edge around the flap at the front, there is a little gap in the middle where the stitches are pulled apart by the loop widening. Is that all, you ask? Well, no. You see, you aren't meant to make the loop then - of course I did 'cause I thought I would be clever. Adding it after the whole thing is finished would be the smart move. Because, I managed to forget to measure the loop for the button I was going to use. So now the loop is too small and only comes undone if you kind of stretch it and the bag - it's a definite knack you'd have to learn! - and this is meant to be a present:( Not good.

The bummer is now, me being clever an' all, I'll have to undo the crocheted edge back to the centre just to add a couple more chains - if I can find the end as I darned it in very well - as you can't have a chain stitch running:-)

Either that or I'm lazy and change the button to something smaller:-)))

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Grafting those cables

At last! At last! The big knit is over and the cabled strap is ready to join together. Now comes the bit I haven't been looking forward to. Grafting. That pesky Kitchener stitch. I remember the last time I tried this on my little rose pink shrug and the stocking stitch was fine but the rib was so, so messy. But, that was then and maybe I'll have better luck with more practice:-)

So here are the ends all ready for grafting. Only 10 stitches so not a mammoth task, except some are knit and some are purl. I went back to Knitwitch's video for grafting on You Tube and refreshed my memory and while I was watching it, it suddenly occurred to me that I just reverse the process for purl. Keeping it in the right order so you have a knit over the knit and a purl over the purl would be an interesting challenge but the bag is so nearly finished!!! I will master this!

So off I went and damn me, if it didn't work first time! I had got myself psyched up for a major hoo-ha and knitting being thrown down in a fit of peak. But no! It all went smoothly. The knitting gods have been shining on me this afternoon and I am very grateful!! Can you see the join? It's pretty much invisible - high five! I know there is a little disturbance where it fits together as a zigzag with the stitches fitting in between each other and it leaves a little kink at the edges but it's a whole lot better than I was expecting. Woo hoo! I am soooo pleased! And I'm feeling a little bit cleverer than when I woke up this morning:-)

Kitchener stitch is sussed!

Now, all I have to do is blanket stitch the strap to the bag and get a pretty button and it's finished! I may even finish it tonight - I can't wait to see it finished! I'm all excited:-)

Monday, 20 April 2009

Oops, I did it again....

So, I've gone and started something that wasn't in the plan - not in the list of must do's, want to do's or even might if I have the time sometime this year do's. I have WIP's (works in progress) that are nearly finished and only need that little shove to get them done and dusted so I can get all the projects off the needles for new, exciting spring knits. But this kind of came up behind when I wasn't looking and hijacked the needles!

So what am I knitting? Some new complex lace or cable pattern? Some lovely fresh spring number? Umm, no.

Does this look familiar?

Or this?

Sigh, yes, not only have I knitted it once before but TWICE! Not only isn't it a spring knit but it's another winter beret to add to the increasing beret pile - well the ones I have kept for me:-) And as this one is very pink, it'll probably stay mine!

But, although I do have things to finish that I should be feeling guilty about, I am really enjoying this small pink project in aran weight and it feels like it's flying off the needles. Do you ever feel that sometimes? Some projects tick over, some drag, but sometimes they just flow.

This one is definitely flowing and it's getting me thinking about tinkering with the pattern, playing with YO's and creating new beret patterns. So what if the eyelets went off in a slant instead of straight up? What if they were all over the beret? And how many stitches would that need to cast on etc, etc. So I'm knitting away and my mind is working overtime.

So not only will I not feel guilty about knitting my lovely new pink beret, I fully intend to keep on with my beret phase and play some more. I'm sure I can live without a spring cardi for another week or two:-) If I get on a roll, then I can always say I've started early for christmas!!!

Happy knitting!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Albem cabley progress

Well, this week has seemed to fly by with other stuff and now all of a sudden it's thursday and I haven't blogged since the weekend. You would think that would mean lots of knitting progress, wouldn't you? Well, some, but not as much as I would like. But the chunky Albem can't not make progress being a lovely quick knit:-) So, to update.

The front was already completed, the back and the joined flap are now completed and I am on to the gusset/strap. This is meant to be knitted in a 1x1 rib but I think a cabled strap would be much nicer. So I've started a long strap with a provisional cast - on (the white thread at the bottom) using the cable stitch from the main body of the bag and I'm knitting and knitting and knitting. It is getting a bit repititious now, hence the slowing down of progress:-)

I used a provisional cast on so I can graft the end stitches and the cast on row together to create a seamless loop to attach all the way around the bag, so no dodgy joins to take any stress. I cast on using ten stitches instead of the 9 for rib and basically K1, P2, K4 (these will be the cable sts), P2, K1. The 4 row repeat follows the pattern for the bag.

It's also meant to have tassles but I'll have to think about that one! I'm not sure as it's not for me. But I've got a feeling when this is finished, I'm going to find it hard to part with:-)

But onwards with the strap........ the green stripey socks seem really appealing right now:-)

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Magenta Ishbel scarf

Some progress for you on the Ishbel scarf I've been knitting. This got a bit sidelined by the albem cable bag but I'm back on track and working a few rows in between other things. I can't really watch tv whilst knitting this so it really needs a good block of time devoted to it to get the final few sections finished. I'm knitting the smaller version in fingering weight/4ply and have probably done about nearly half the lace edging now.

Its a nice, logical pattern that uses the same vine pattern as the Ishbel beret and the design is mirrored on either side. You have this nice lace YO line up the middle, which really helps you keep track of each section and off you go. The pattern by Ysolda, is in both chart and written form, with sizes for a small or large shawl/scarf for both laceweight or fingering/4ply.

I do love the final look of lace but it never looks that dynamic till it has been blocked. I found some lovely examples of finished Ishbels' for you here, here, here and Ysolda's own pics here. So plenty of inspiration for me to get finished and blocking.

Hmm, blocking will be a problem, though. I don't think I've blocked anything that big before and basically, I don't have anything big enough to spread it out on or pin it to. Suggestions anyone?

And then there's the cat...... Is there a safe place to actually put it once it is pinned? :-)

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Albem cable bag

New project for you today - the Albem cable bag designed by Berroco. It's a free pattern so if you want to download the PDF or print it out, just follow the link. This has been sitting in my to-do list for a while as I've been looking for just the right yarn to use. It uses two strands of worsted weight - I'm using aran - so knits up super quick. When I got the teal aran for the Vivian hoodie, I remembered this teal cable bag and well, that was it, a perfect match. So I went back and bought the last 400gm ball so I could make this.

The pattern says to use 7mm but this was far too loose and much bigger than the given measurements so I downsized to 6mm and it's sooo much better, a lovely dense cabley knit that is going to be strong enough for a knitted bag without sagging. The bag is simple in design, a front panel, a back panel with flap and a gusset & strap.

I only started last night and I am pretty much on the way to finishing the front as well as the completed back. I may tinker with the gusset pattern and the length of the strap as I want more of a waist/hipster bag.

As far as my other works in progress, the magenta Ishbel scarf is moving slowly but surely - pictures for you next post, and the green stripey sock will be, I hope, soon finished. Just a matter of matching the heel stripes and then a quick run the the finish - I hope:-)

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Random Wednesday

While I was downloading the magenta flowers from my phone I found a whole stash of photos I had forgotten I'd taken. This was one I took way back last summer when all the tourists were down in Cornwall with their campers. Both campers were filling up with petrol/diesel - I love how you could probably fit two of the small camper into the big one the size of a bus!

So, random thoughts today:

Surprise of the week: Finding photos on my phone from my parents visit last October:-)

Most interesting blog this week: well, I have several for you today. Firstly, Posie Gets Cosy has a lovely visual entry on her local walks - always worth visiting.

Design from Material Obsession's new book

My main blog discovery this week is Material Obsession and The Last Piece. I found these sites through a link from Jane Brocket's mention of the book Material Obsession and discovered their quilting blog. Kathy now runs the Material Obsession blog and Sarah has started her own - The Last Piece. So you get twice the loveliness! They are full of ideas for quilts and visuals from the courses they run, the fabrics from their shop, workshops by well known artists - I love Sue Spargo's folk art quilts, yum.

Sue Spargo's design

All photos are from Material obsession's blog - go have a look for more quilting loveliness. It's really got me thinking about applique and decorating surfaces again. Maybe it's time to get my sewing machine out!

Reading: Lots of quilting books I got out of the library - all 7 of them!

Would still like to get done this week: Tidy, then organise my room to include the sewing machine - this could take a while....... Is there such a thing as a Mary Poppins room instead of a bag?! I could do with some invisible storage ready to call out of thin air whenever you need it!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Magenta in bloom

All of a sudden, a little sun and somehow, everything seems to be coming out in bloom. When I parked the car on my way to the library the other day, I couldn't help but notice this magnificent strong magenta coloured rhododendron. There were so many flower heads it was really quite stunning.

Unfortunately I only had the camera on my phone so the pictures aren't as crisp or as tonally balanced as I would have liked, being such a bright day, but they manage to capture enough of the colours and the grandness of this plant. I had forgotten how BIG these can grow if they have the room - me walking backwards into the car park to get more in the photo (no zoom - sigh).

But it doesn't stop there, it keeps on going....... I think I was at the other end of the car park by this stage :-) It was slightly bigger than I could fit in but truly an impressive glory in pink.

I wished I had worn my magenta ishbel beret and I would have blended right in! But being pink inspired after so much sock green, I'm now working on a matching magenta Ishbel scarf - the small version first in 4ply/fingering weight and then I'll work my way up to a larger matching teal 2ply/laceweight version. I've nearly finished the first stocking stitch section and I'll soon start the vine stitch section. Now I'm familiar with the pattern from the beret, I'm hoping this will flow easily straight away - well, here's hoping:-)

I think this will be a warm scarf/shawl but not too bulky for spring. Not much to photograph as yet but I'll keep you posted.

Finally, I'd like to wish my sister a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! and I hope you enjoy wearing your chic, stylish, terribly fashionable teal ishbel beret:-))) Enjoy!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Matching toes

So I'm just about to start the second sock, circulars ready, re-watched the video for Judy's magic cast on and I kept thinking, I was meant to do something before starting the sock. What was it? Oh yes!!!! I've got to match the stripes before I start so both socks are the same - kinda important that. I was quite lucky as the repeat is nearly half a socks length but I only had to wind off a small ball of yarn to get there. I was worried about taking too much off and having one sock shorter than the other :-)
(I know I could have taken the top of the first one back , but hey, it's nicer not to have to !)

So only a small edit of the patterned yarn and on with the sock. This second sock is being knitted wholly on two circulars and the join lines aren't as obvious as with the dpn's, which is goooood! Look! Matching toes:-)

I must say I'm a lot closer with matching the pattern than I thought for a first attempt but I still actually have a lot of the ball left and I'm nearly to the heel of the second sock. Is this normal? If you buy an 100gm ball of trekking - or any 100gm ball of sock yarn knitting on 2.5mm needles - how far does it actually go? If I bought two balls, they might make stripey knee highs!!

Talking of knee-high socks, Cosmicpluto has just released a pattern for both knee-high and over-the-knee socks, plain and stripey. Her raspberry and chocolate stripey socks are just lovely. They are definitely on my to-do list, after the lace wraps, the gloves, and the vivian cable hoodie - I haven't forgotten that and I'm actually looking forward to knitting with aran weight yarn after all this thin 2ply and sock yarn. How quick it will knit up - bliss!

But for now, it's finishing the green stripey sock so I can get the circulars for the 'happy' capricorn stripey gloves. If that yarn lasts as long as this one, I could maybe get socks and gloves out of it!! Okay, maybe pushing it a little but wait and see:-)


Related Posts with Thumbnails