Thursday, 31 December 2009

Bye, bye 2009

I've been looking back at all the things I've been making this year and in perspective, I think I've travelled a lot further than I thought. At the end of 2008, I had never knitted a sock, or a lace shawl, and the dust hadn't been blown off the spinning wheel:-) Now people think I'm good enough to test knit sock patterns for them - who would have thought?:-)) I have moved out of my toe-up sock comfort zone and knitted toe-up gussets with the bright orange stripey firestarters, and most recently knitted my flame red cornflower socks - a top down sock with heel flaps, complex twists and cables no less.

And I had the questionable pleasure of knitting with self striping Noro!! Some of you may recall my, ahem, perseverance with those darned stripey socks, here, here and here!! But, if I hadn't explored the world of self striped yarns, I wouldn't have started experimenting with dyeing my own sock yarns. And the latter half of 2009 has mostly been about dyeing and test knitting these yarns for my now finally opened Etsy Shop - Ultraviolet Yarns. The creative path has its twists and turns but I never thought I'd be an Indie yarnie! :-)))

I've had fun painting sock blanks and designing bigger scarf and shawl blanks too - although they still have to make an appearance in my shop.

So, what's the plan for 2010?

Well, shopwise, I would love to be able to make dyeing yarns into a realistic living! I know! but why not? Dream big:-)) More immediate shop plans include - if there is enough interest -painted sock and scarf blanks but maybe also some undyed ones for anyone who wants to try their hand at dyeing their own. I would like to get a larger range of obviously stripey yarns as well as the semi-solids and subtle variegateds too and that is my first plan of action in January.

This last month especially, I've been taking stock of  exactly where I am and just where I want to go. In the world of knitting, I would like to develop my ideas for designing patterns. I've only been tinkering so far but there has been interest on ravelry for some of my test knits so that is a good place to start. But in the larger creative picture, I'm at a bit of a crossroads.

The world of Ravelry, knitting and crochet, has been a haven for me to keep myself busy and active over the last two years when I've not been able to do much of my usual creative endeavours such as felting, weaving, collage, etc due to poor health. I'd like to think I am regaining enough stamina to at least start making some progress back into these other disciplines - if I am very careful and don't overdo it:-)) - but even if I start small, I'd like to at least set it as an ongoing goal for 2010.

So, as well as knitting and dyeing yarns, there may be a little collage or two popping into the blog now and again, and maybe this time next year, I can sit here as say 'Well, I didn't expect collage and textile art to hijack my blog quite so much.....' :-)))

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Happy Christmas!

I'm off for a little break now over the holidays so enjoy yourselves and make sure you have a very Happy Christmas!  elaine xxx

Sunday, 20 December 2009

E-mail issue....

Thanks to Julie for letting me know my labellehelene e-mail address isn't working. I haven't been receiving comments from blogger either so please forgive no recent replies! I will get it fixed as soon as I can but for now, if you need to get in touch, you can contact me using this e-mail link:

Could NewJerseyLaura get in touch with me at this new address so I can send off your stitch markers to you? Thank you!

Back soon - busy spinning and spinning and soon to be plying...... Enjoy the run up to Christmas! Less than a week to go:-))

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas......

I'm sure something happens in December - normal time must get compressed  because I just don't seem to have as much knitting time in December compared to every other month:-)) I plan, I knit, I even work out 'realistically' just how long each item will take to make, faint, revise list, repeat....... until I have a manageable list, of sorts.

But this year, I actually put less on my making list and I foolishly considered myself ahead of the game this year - ha, ha, ha. The fates do have a way of coming back to bite you when you think these things:-)

I've even noticed how much faster I get at knitting in December. Last year I was churning out mittens, gloves and hats at a scary speed. ( I also wondered why there were very little knitting projects for the next fortnight and remembered the knitting cramp I got in my hands every time I even thought about picking up a pair of needles;-))

But this year, things have just gone pear shaped. I don't really know why. What should have been a few simple knits have somehow become huge never ending projects. Jinxed, every one!  Stitches slip off and run back, simple maths won't add up, patterns knit up super tight and not to gauge - sigh! The knitting fates have a few more spanners up there waiting, I'm sure, and being tired and out of love with knitting right now, I've decided to take heed and throw in the making towel this christmas.

But instead of feeling the accustomed guilt, I just feel relief! Whew! I didn't realise I was getting quite so stressed about the whole thing. And if I'm not happy then the knitting becomes a chore and these are gifts that should be made with love, not lots of curse words:-))

So, although I have actually got a few finished things, like this new pink 'turn a square' hat and even a half finished pair of matching mittens, I think either I can keep them for birthdays or if I'm really smart, get a head start on christmas for next year!! But just don't tell the fates quite yet ..........:-)

Friday, 11 December 2009

Giveaway winners;-)

Well, today's the day for announcing the stitch marker giveaway winners! I can't believe a week has passed already. The christmas knitting list has had to be shortened to more realistic proportions so I can stop the panicking now and start to enjoy the run up to Christmas.

So, in true Christmas spirit, let's give away some pressies! And using a random number generator, the winners are:-

First up, the swirly markers and the winner is....

Second set of markers were the multi-coloured ladybirds/ladybugs, and the winner is.......  Julie!

Next are the lovely big flower marlers, and the winner is.....Aik!

Next are everyone's favourites - the smilies! And the winner of these is........ New Jersey Laura!

And the final set of red ladybirds goes to ...... Purple!

Thank you everyone for taking part and congratulations to the winners. If  Jersey, Julie, Aik, Newjerseylaura and Purple could contact me at with your postal details, I will get the stitch markers off to you as soon as possible - hopefully before Christmas!

I will be stocking my Etsy shop with these over the weekend so if you weren't so lucky this time you can always treat yourself to a little stocking filler! I've also been debating just how many markers make a set - 4? 5? 7? I would be grateful for your thoughts on this as there doesn't seem to be a hard and fast rule on this with sellers but I bet knitters know the answer:-) I'm thinking 5 at the moment but look forward to hearing what practically works for you.

Back soon with some more present making, and thank you all again for taking part in my little christmas giveaway:-) elaine x

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Turn a square... or two

It always happens at this time of the year - the knitting rush towards christmas is on and the gaps between posts gets longer! So much making going on that I can't show you quite yet but for now you can get a peek at the hat I finished last night. The weather is so dull today I had to use a lamp for photos but you can see it's a stripey blue beanie from Jared Flood's 'Turn a Square' pattern.

The pattern is super easy to knit up and I finished this in an afternoon/evening. It's worked in worsted weight using one solid and one tonal yarn. The lighter stripe is my tonal yarn but it is very subtle in these photos. I think the contrast between the two yarns may be too much - it gives really definite stripes but the tonal subtleties are a bit lost. Maybe having the lighter colour as the predominant one would help.

I used two DK yarns  - which didn't seem the same thickness, go figure! -  so I had to make some pattern alternations. The pattern calls for stripes in 2 rows, then 3 row thicknesses. My thinner yarn was for the three rows but didn't look much thicker than my chunkier two row yarn so I ended up knitting 4 instead. Now this is finished I'm thinking it is an excellent beanie but a bit neat to be flattering for the people I have it in mind for as presents so I'm going to cast on a few more stitches for the next one to give a slightly looser fit.

And I've even got the yarn all ready waiting to be cast on:-) It has a slight yellow tinge from the artificial light but this should knit up to be a lovely soft tonal pink and grey hat. I may change the solid colour to a grey tone but it depends if I have any in my stash! Mmmm, I think there is a little angora left from the soft grey cornflower cowl....... I'm thinking that would work better. Keep you posted on how this works out. If there is decent light tomorrow, you may even get some colour accurate photos!

Oh, and there are some snowflakes in the wind this week I have to show you - metaphorically speaking:-) Now back to some christmas speed knitting....... see you soon!

Friday, 4 December 2009

A little Christmas giveaway!

Spent a very pleasant afternoon making some new stitch markers with my brightly coloured wooden beads that have finally arrived.  A wonderful parcel full of yummy colours and painted patterns - I feel like a kid in a sweet shop:-) Of course when I had finished the light was so poor that I had to put the light on but you get the technicolour jist, don't you?

These stitch markers are much bigger for 'normal' knitting needles compared to my last smaller sets for sock knitting. The rings at the top are 10mm wide so they should fit most needles. I've been itching to make these but I had to wait for the larger findings before I could start but they arrived today so I could get going - at last!

The more I made, the more I loved them:-) I thought the swirls were my favourite but then I saw the multi-coloured ladybirds and then these big flowers! And then, I got to these;-) Smileys:-))

Yup, I'll definitely have to have a set of these! I think if I was getting bogged down in knitting a large garment - as I invariably do! - then seeing these peeping through the knitting would cheer me up immensely and bring a smile to my face.

I'll be posting some of these in my Etsy shop soon but these ones here are up for grabs in my christmas giveaway. So five prizes to be won. Just leave me a comment saying which one you would like to win and I will have a random draw for each set. Feel free to enter for all! I will post the winners next friday 11th December. No restrictions on country - happy to post anywhere:-) Hopefully it will get to you before the christmas rush! Good luck!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Giveaway over at Rachels:-)

Picture from Rachel's blog

Fellow blogger and reader Rachel over at 'G's crafts n' things' is holding a lovely giveaway running till next tuesday 12th december.  She's offering this lovely crochet kitchen set which she will send to any country, so pop over and enter now! Remember to mention what you love best about this time of year in your comment:-)

I particularly like the effect of the variegated yarns in the swirly mats on the left - lovely. A beautiful set just in time for christmas! Thank you Rachel !

And following Rachel's generous Christmas spirit, I may have to have a little christmas giveaway too! Hang in there while I rustle up some little goodies;-)) Now where are my crochet hooks......:-)

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Cornflower socks

Taking up a most of my time on the needles right now are these lovely cabled 'Cornflower socks' designed by Karen Scott. These aren't out as a pattern yet as I'm test knitting them but you may recognise the cable pattern from the grey and purple cornflower cowls I've been knitting. I love how this pattern looks so different on a much smaller scale - so intricate and detailed, lovely!

This sock pattern is for top down socks - a new thing for me as I've just kind of stuck to the toe ups really so far. So I was all excited to learn a new technique:-) The instructions are so easy to follow and the cable pattern is now becoming quite familiar to me. I can even watch tv now without losing my place in all the left and right twists! It's taking quite a bit longer than I expected to make progress with a full cabled pattern in sock yarn but I really think this is worth it as I love how its working up -and I'm also not the fastest cable knitter in the world. I really should learn how to cable without a needle as it would probably help the speed issue!

Anyway, back to the pics - I love these cables:-)) And I'm glad I decided on such a definite colour for these as it gives a decided punch to the sock I think. The yarn is one of my hand dyed semi-solids called 'flame red' but for some reason only weighed 98gms so I decided to keep it for myself:-))

Knitting all went fine till I came to the heel. Now, I generally understand the principle - you knit a heel flap, turn to get a base to the heel and then pick up stitches to shape your gusset so you can carry on with the cables down to the toes.

Nice close-up of the heel  so you can see it a bit clearer. It looks lovely and perfect now but I had a bit of a song and dance to get there - let's just say it was definitely a learning curve;-) I must thank Karen for patiently answering my frantic and confused e-mails over the weekend:-)) You're a star! And I've now got heel flaps 'sorted'. Whew!

So now I'm back on cables for the front of the sock and knitting away on the home run down to the toes where I feel I can manage the decreasing and grafting ok:-) I like the feel of going downhill though, that's a novelty! So right now, I'm in the happy state of free-wheeling down the hill, wind in my hair and enjoying myself till I get to the bottom and then I get to start again with the second sock. Yay! :-)


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