Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Holidays!

Happy, happy holidays! Time now to log out of blogland for a few days, eat lots of food and give presents. I do love giving people pressies:) So I hope you have a lovely time whatever you are doing this year for Christmas, make merry and enjoy and I'll see you soon!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Autumn leaves

December does seem to be a month of sporadic blogging in between the knitting for christmas! So this is the reason everything has been rather quiet around here - the autumn leaves lace wrap. It's the rectangular modified version of the gail/nightsong triangular shawl called spring leaves, (ravelry link),  but as I was using burnt orangey browns, I had to call it autumn instead:)

It has been a real joy to knit up as the directions are very simple and easy to follow, and watching the leaf motifs appear as you knit is amazing. Nothing like lace knitting to make you feel more accomplished :)) The only thing to be aware of with this pattern is that it's knitted from the centre out so you can have directional leaves, clever! BUT don't be put off by this as you don't have to think about grafting lace at all.  No, it's all cleverly done with a provisional cast on and then picking up those stitches for the second half. You also get a lovely diamond motif where they meet and no sign of a join. Such a well considered aspect of this shawl.

When I realised this was knitted in two halves, I thought, aha! I have the perfect yarn all ready and waiting to be knitted. A sock blank, cedarwood, that I dyed last year has been sitting wound into 2x50gm balls, waiting to be made into socks. As I've moved away from socks somewhat, having two balls exactly the same for this shawl was perfect as I wouldn't have to worry about weighing the ball as I go;))

I managed to get 6 pattern repeats and the edging pattern each side from my 100gms (approx 400mtrs) but I did use a lifeline this time just in case I ran out before the chart finished. I do learn my lessons! The yarn is fingering weight and it was knitted on 4.5mm needles.

It was much more difficult to watch tv knitting this one. I tended to make mistakes when I lost concentration! so it was kind of knitted watching Terry Pratchett's Hogfather;

Miss marple's 'Body in the Library'- not her body but you know what I mean;) - from this lovely box set I got for my birthday:

And A christmas Carol - the 1999 version with Patrick Stewart - as it's so very nearly christmas now!!:

It's feeling a lot more like Christmas now.... only two more sleeps to go...... 

Monday, 13 December 2010

Deep red habitat

Hello, hello! I've been sucked away into knitting for christmas land, where everything revolves around christmas television, nice munchies and speedy knitting as the deadline draws ever nearer - 12 days to go.....

But I have a finished hat to show you - a lovely deep red version of Jared Flood's (Brooklyn Tweed) 'Habitat'. I love this deep colour too! Even though I knitted a version of this hat a few years ago, it felt like a new pattern but it did seem easier this time around and quicker too. Does this mean I'm getting better?? Ah, ha, fate will slap me down for getting cocky:))

I wouldn't say I was totally in the zone knitting the cables or that it was a super quick intuitive knit for me on this occasion, but it was fast, only taking a few days whilst watching tv, which does tend to slow me down when I have charts to read as well as distract me.  But you do need to be doing something else as well when you try to cram a lot of knitting in before christmas:) For those of you interested, this was knitted watching Ice Age - (ah, Sid the sloth cracks me up every time;))),  the Mentalist and a few CSI's.

I do love the all over cabling on this hat and once the first few rows of pattern are done its easy to see if you are crossing over in the right direction - or not. Sometimes I catch myself expecting it to be wrong the first time - which in this case is just as well!! Just the one cross but at least I noticed straight away and not near the end! It was much easier to tink back a few rows than rip back two days work.

This yarn has a lovely lighter red fleck in it too which keeps the colour from being too solid but doesn't fight the cabling. One of the happy occasions where it's even nicer knitted than in the ball.  And if you look closely at the hat laid out from the centre, can you see the flower shape? Like a 5 star petal motif, very subtle though. What a clever pattern. I don't think I noticed this the first time around.

So another knit down, and I don't really want to think how many there are still to fit into the 12 remaining days..... I really should have a better plan for next year - but I say that every time ;)) Off I go for some more christmas tv watching. What shall it be next on the needles?

Monday, 6 December 2010


Well, today is the day:) The 40th birthday has arrived and nope, I don't feel any different;)) Not that I expected to, lol! Today though has been lovely. I've managed to talk to all my family and friends, received lots of lovely thoughtful gifts and messages and pretty much gone through today on a bit of high:) My balloon is bobbing around in the living room making me smile when I look up at it and as it's helium, it will be around for a while yet as a happy reminder.

But although I didn't intend to, you do start to take stock and think just what have I been doing in those 40 years? 40 years, blimey! When did it creep up to that?? I'd like to think I'm focusing on enjoying life in the now so I wasn't counting:)) But there do seem to be bits that just flew by as chunks of years!

All this introspection has made me hunt out old photographs. I'm not very good at keeping a photographic record of myself as I don't think I photograph well most days but as I've been looking back I realise I really should have been documenting those younger days - when I looked my best!!! But then, when I'm about 80, I'll probably wish I took some photos of me at 40 so I could see me when I was 'young':)) So everything in perspective. Also, I find it interesting to see my parents and their old photographs so I really should be keeping a record for posterity myself.

Me at 21, (on the right) celebrating in the pub at art school

So, a yearly birthday photo? Mmmm, wait till I wash my hair, and slap some make-up on:) I was also thinking how I wish I had written thoughts down at the time - what was that girl of 21 thinking in that photo? Was she happy? Was she excited, nervous, confident? Funny how  you can look more relaxed when it's someone you feel comfortable with taking the photo. The facial expressions look more genuine and less forced. OR maybe that's just the drink:)) Don't let the orange juice fool you, I'm sure there was vodka involved somewhere!!

I was never one for diaries or journals when I was young - "woke up, got dressed,  had breakfast, ....." same old, same old:) Although I am aware of the irony now I keep a blog which is essentially a journal. Although I do usually stick to creative endeavours in it but that's probably because I don't want to bore you with the trivia of my day - unless its eye candy trivia like lovely cakes or yummy new yarn:)

But because I don't write it here either, then there is no history to these photos, no context to put them in other than the year and names on the back, and my faulty memory. I don't necessarily want to save everything to posterity but maybe a little background detail should be written: where was I, was it a good day, what age was I, what dreams or aspirations did I have? - as by the time I'm 80, I probably won't remember anything except the names of everyone I went to school with when I was 4:))) Sounds pretty much like a personal diary to me. Maybe I've finally grown into diary writing  - as long as I don't have to write it every day - still suck at that as you probably know already:)

So, in the spirit of recording EVENTS, here is some lovely birthday cake eye candy for you to keep you going till I wash my hair and take 40 million photos till I get one I like:)

Thank you everyone for all my lovely birthday wishes and presents - now I'm off to have a piece of cake;))

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Bird in hand mittens

Well, that week went by fast! I've been knitting away trying to make a dent on my christmas list - mainly these bird in hand intarsia mittens. So far it's taken me most of this week to finish one, which was longer than I had planned for but I do love the way they are turning out.

There is something so lovely about intarsia mittens. They conjure up images of cold, crisp winter days with startlingly blue skies and having to wade through feet of snow to make snowmen or have a snowball fight:) Of course, the wearer of these mittens won't be getting cold hands as these are super snug! Having the two threads weaving in and out of the back makes it twice as dense and these are knitted tighter than normal gauge too so altogether more compact and toastie for the hands!

It's been a while since I've knitted any colourwork so it took me a bit to get back into the swing of things. The inside weaving came back quickly but keeping tension on dpn's at the joins was more problematic. I still have to block this first glove so I hope it evens out somewhat. Hopefully the second one will be a bit more even in tension. But of course, the pattern is so lovely that you won't notice a little thing like the odd uneven stitch or two now would you? :))

It's the attention to detail that makes this pattern work so well I think. I love the little braiding detail between the cuff sections and the picot edging - yum! I also love the way this pattern has the traditional birdseye pattern for the palm side of the mitten - very nice contrast - and this panel is very easy to knit too:) It looks just as good on the inside as the outside so I thought I'd show you that as well so you can see the weaving in of the threads. I must admit I am a bit of a perfectionist with intarsia and I like to keep it as neat as I can, so each floating thread is wrapped every 3 sts to keep larger catchable loops from forming.

And there is one more surprise with these mittens - the bird:) Yes, the bird that makes these bird in hand mittens is a little embroidered bird on the top of the thumb. Ah no, you won't be finding it on mine yet as I'll only stitch it in place once they are blocked but I can show you where it will be......

Okay, see that kind of white bird shaped blob at the top of the thumb? There! Yes, it does take a bit of imagining:)) but draw a little beak, add an eye, a bit of wing detail..... yes, it's there! and it will be on both thumbs so it will make you smile every time you see it. Lovely!

Well, I've cast on and done the picot edging of glove number 2 so back to the intarsia and braiding for the afternoon, snug inside watching tv while it is SNOWING outside. Yes, snowing! We never get snow this early - what is up??? It's not deep or lying much but it's not even December yet. But we may get a white christmas!! Time to hunt out my christmas films - and munchies. Is it too early to start on the christmas snacks??  See you soon! :))

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Hmm, what next?

Well the Brea bag is off the needles, sewn up and waiting the lining, handle and button. Fabric and button are sorted and should be here in a few days but I lost out on the belt on e-bay so I'll have to hunt around for something else instead - hopefully quickly so I can call this christmas present finished! I'll take some photos tomorrow in daylight but now I have to consider what's next on the needles?

© Wollschnegge

I'm thinking that this lovely rectangular version of the Gail shawl I found on ravelry will be up next. The designer Jane left a comment for me to say that there is a written up rectangular version already called Spring Leaves - yay! I'm so glad I found that out before I started improvising :) And doesn't it look lovely? I am thinking more of a scarf width than a larger wrap so I will probably reduce the number of leaf repeats - 3 instead of 5? But it's so lovely I think I'll be returning to this one again when I have more time for a full wrap:)

But I'll need a tv watching project as well  - I know I'd better not be distracted with detailed lace till I get into a flow again - so what else?

Well, I'm still thinking about the lovely red and white bird mittens but an alternative to them is Ysolda's lovely snapdragon flip-top mitts and matching beret. The advantage with choosing these instead is that I've already knitted the beret:)) but I don't have any more matching yarn for the mitts in my stash - oh dear, what a shame! I'll have to buy more yarn:)

© Sapphire2001

And if I'm going to be buying more yarn, I may as well get some for the lovely skew socks :) Yes, I could dye some but I want to try out the regia sock yarn that has stretch in it - if I can find it online. I just think that's such a cool way to stop socks getting baggy. I know they look cool but after a while socks, well, kind of s-l-i-d-e :)) Either that or I'm not knitting them tight enough:)

And lastly today, the gorgeous cable 'Gordian' gloves designed by Julia Mueller. These have been on my to-do list for ages too. I love the complexity of the fine cabling - even on the fingers! Such attention to detailing make these such a special pattern. But I can't do them all so these may have to be saved for another time as I know how long gloves take me:))
So there will be lace knitting soon and there will be gloves/mitts/mittens  - I just haven't decided which ones yet:)) Anyone else knitting along for christmas?

Monday, 15 November 2010

Brea bag

One of my christmas maybe's has made it on the needles. Last in the mosaic, the brea bag has been in my queue of lovely things to make for ages. I didn't know who it was going to be for then but now, pattern and person have gelled together and we are steaming ahead in knitting this one up.

The Brea bag pattern is designed by Norah Gaughan for Berroco and is a very quick knit as it uses two strands of worsted together. You don't knit this in the round though so there are a lot of stitches to cast on straight needles. Thankfully, you are constantly decreasing each RS row so the numbers become more manageable very quickly. I did check my gauge on this one before I started as this was a stash yarn with no bands but it was spot on! I'm quite happy if this comes out bigger but any smaller and its more a purse;)

I'm planning on lining this one too once I get the fabric I want on E-bay. I've already spotted a belt I can adapt as a strap/handle so all I have to find is a really nice button. Still searching but I have a bit of time yet;)

When I was cropping my photos, I suddenly thought how easy it would be to adapt this pattern into a hexagonal cushion. Just increase the repeated sections to 6 on circulars and no seam either!  If I bulked up the yarns I could get a really nice big floor cushion too. Or, make loads of hexagons and sew them all into a blanket/throw. One takes a couple of hours once you're familiar with the pattern and I'm sure I would get quicker with practice;) I imagine it would be quite heavy though if they were all double worsted weight.

With a bit of photoshop playing I've copied the full hexagon into a blanket pattern - Yum! Love the gothic style pattern the cables make and the bright red!! Maybe not so calming for a bedroom but it would look stunning as a throw over a sofa or chair, don't you think? But perhaps after the christmas knitting list is finished....:)

Friday, 12 November 2010

To do list......

7. Crochet bag from squares, 8. Footstool Sideview

With the Christmas deadline drawing nearer, I thought I would make a visual list of things I'm considering making. Don't panic for me quite yet:)) Although there are 13 photos here and not all that many days left till the 25th December - I refuse to count to keep the panic at bay! - I'm not intending to make all of these. Some are either/or contenders such as the bags or mitts, for instance.

A lot of my images are favorited photos from ravelry that I couldn't find on Flickr so I'll give you a rundown for each one so I can credit the photo owner as well as give you the pattern details and links. This could end up a huge post so I'll post all 13 over the next few days. Today I think we'll do the first 4:)

Big and bold in the centre, the mosaic maker call this No 1:)

The lovely Eternal knot baby blanket designed by Daniel Yuhas. Very clever cable pattern going on in this one that I can't wait to try out - loving the looped ends! It will take a bit of time so it's a christmas maybe but more likely a birthday possibility as it would give me a few more months to make it;))

No 2 we have the super lovely elbow length crocheted opera gloves designed by Shiri Mor. The link is for the Lion brand site where you have to log in but it's free to join. I'm hoping these won't take too long to make as I fancy a pair myself! No fingers which is a relief as I always find in knit that the fingers take up as much time as knitting the rest of the damn glove! (hence no pics of stripey armwarmers as yet;))

© Yarntangler

No 3 - lovely lacy 'Gail' shawl designed by Jane Araujo. It may look familiar as I did nearly finish making this one before (I know..... UFO's lurking under my desk:))  This time though I need a rectangular wrap and I'm thinking this pattern would look lovely and hopefully be easy enough to adapt? If anyone has done this already, a link would be very handy! As the shawl has charts, I'm thinking this logically should be easier to translate into a wrap without increases - she says hopefully:)) The link is for Ravelry but again its free to join if you haven't already:)

ETA: Thanks to designer Jane Araujo for the info that Gail is already available as a rectangular shawl - yay! You can find the pattern here  on Sew-mad's blog. So now all I need is the dyed yarn:)

No 4 is the super lovely Bird in Hand mitts designed by Kate Gilbert. Now these I've been meaning to knit for such a long time and I think now is the time:) They look super snuggly and there is just something about the red and white combo that works perfectly for me.

But I'm thinking I may need to leave a goodly amount of time for these as I'm a bit out of practice knitting intarsia and these might just stretch my idea of a quick knit:) But other mitts are in the mosaic later on so these are most likely to be an either/or pair. I do so feel like knitting them though  - they seem to embody snow, log fires and christmas don't they?

Well, with three biggies in that list, I think my time has already been filled up! I think I'm going to have to weigh up just how long these will take to make in reality. Either that or knit a lot faster:)) Seems like I'm always wishing that:) but all I really need to do is get more organised and start earlier - which never seems to happen!

If anyone has knitted any of these patterns, I would be interested to hear how long they took you to make! Back tomorrow with the next list of possibilities!

Friday, 5 November 2010

What if?

Today has been more of an internet surfing day, looking for inspiration and lovely images on flickr while I let my creative ideas percolate away for a while in my head.  It's amazing how long you can spend happily searching - and then you lose another chunk of time just composing mosaics :)

Today's search seemed to end up focusing on swirly patterns and form. For me, using a mosaic stirs up the creative thinking processes - to put wrought iron next to glass, glass next to dyed fabric and mixed media surface pattern,  linking back to the swirly wrought iron patterns..... unusual elements together.... makes you think outside the box and start saying  'what if?'

What if I crocheted with a different material?

What if I worked in layers of patterns?

What if I cut away instead of added layers?

What if I crocheted in tubes instead of using a wire core?

Could I trap things inside? Encapsulate them?

Could I colour or paint the wire/thread after it is constructed rather than before?


What if.......?

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Shadow play

I wonder what this looks like with a shadow....... swirls and spirals......

Looks like a little snail popping up to say hello........

Would it look any good coiled around a bowl shape? Hmm, maybe not. Feels like it wants to be more organic and less moulded.....

Bit of a treble clef appearing in the shadows.....:)

Getting a little bit more complex now, adding a few more swirly shadows........

No idea where this may go yet,  just thinking and shadow playing:)) Interesting to consider how the shadows integrate during the ideas process rather than at the end. Maybe a step forward or maybe just another fork along the creative path into something I haven't considered yet...  I'm just going to go with the flow:)

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Happy, happy:)

There has been a little bit of christmas knitting going on over the last few days  - yummy stripey armwarmer gloves:) I love these so much its going to be hard to part with them! But I can console myself with the fact I still have another ball of Wendy's lovely 'happy' bamboo yarn - colourway capricorn - stashed away that I can knit up for me another time!

This yarn is a soft 4ply/fingering weight bamboo mix - 75% bamboo/25% nylon - with a lovely sheen to it and it is knitting up very nicely indeed. The bamboo doesn't have as much elasticity as wool and although it's looking fine on 2.5mm needles, I think it would have been slightly better on 2.25mm's with my tension.

As an experiment, I tried a row using the continental knitting style against my usual method of 'throwing' and the tension was much tighter but knitted up a lot quicker. Hmmmm. Knitting whole lengths of stocking stitch in the round for these gloves would certainly go a lot faster this way although I still haven't spent enough time mastering all the stitches K2tog, SSK's etc. yet. But the second glove isn't the time to experiment unless I want varying tensions and sizes of glove:)))

So far, I'm onto the fingers of glove one but I'm shortening the colour runs of the self stripe sock yarn a bit as I want jazzy odd fingers - of course! I'm using an adaptation of Brigids Hearth's armwarmers pattern which you can find here. It's only designed to be long mitts from elbow to just over the thumb, but I like gloves and if you're going to warm your arm, it's a shame to leave the fingers out!! It's a quick knit though and perfect for self-striping yarns.

Actually, this would be a brilliant pattern to use up those leftover small balls of sock yarn and much more personalised too. Shame most of my stash is DK or bigger;) I'll have to hunt out another pattern or modify this one. Do you think Christmas is going to end up being on a theme of gloves?? Wasn't intended to be but it's an idea ....... ;))) 

Monday, 1 November 2010


I've been exploring the world of crochet lace a lot recently, looking at their structure to learn how the complex patterns are actually constructed. It has a rhythm, a balance to its composition which is innately satisfying to me and somehow, don't ask me how yet, I want to translate the essence of this into my work.

I like how the negative space is just as important as the lace pattern  - an equal integral part, yin and yang. Not that I'm going to launch soley into doily making but it's an interesting challenge to take something so obviously traditional visually and translate it into an unexpected contemporary outcome. Just thoughts, no final fixed idea in mind as yet:)

Deconstructing the pattern from photos also made my obsessive, perfectionist side very happy! Everything in its place, logically perfect and exact. To be honest, just drawing the pattern out was becoming a work of art in itself and I had to remind myself that a working diagram was the original intention and my time would actually be better spent crocheting!!

So the yarn has been chosen - a nice silk/wool mix this time instead of the sharp contrasts of mercerised cotton - and I am ready to go. I have had a little trial run to work out the tension of the pattern as this is the one thing that I can't judge perfectly as yet with crochet lace, and it seems good to go if I move down a needle size or two. This could be an unmitigated disaster:)) but hey, you have to start somewhere! So fingers crossed and off I go.......

Monday, 25 October 2010

Little red swing jacket

A little finished piece of Christmas knitting for you - yes, I have one piece crossed of the list:) Okay, it's only little baby size but it makes me feel I am one step nearer getting there:) Also in chunky it knits up nice and quick! The pattern is the Baby tiered swing jacket/cardigan by Lisa Chemery - ravelry link was all I could find. It's quite a versitile pattern as you can knit 0-3 mths, 3-6mths, and 12-18mths with the option of a cardigan or jacket version. I personally wanted the jacket which is just a tier longer than the cardi as I thought it visually balanced better as well as being all the more snuggly for wintertime.

This is a nice quick knit too as it's knitted top down so there are no seams to worry about. One thing I would suggest if you are thinking of knitting this,  is to read the pattern through first as although the instructions make sense, they aren't placed in a logical knitting order on the first page. Yes, you need to remember the buttonholes throughout but do the neck increases first, then think about where the first buttonhole should be:)) Otherwise, there is a lot of ripping back when you realise what you've done! (Treat the buttonhole section in BIG brackets and go straight underneath for the increase row).

It is a lovely pattern though and I really enjoyed knitting it. The way it swings is lovely! And I thought the little ladybird buttons worked really well - not too contrasty but enough detail to make them be noticed up close. Shame this is just on the small side for me:)) Although I haven't forgotten my dream of knitting a red version of Sylvi.

pic by Sadie Dayton on Ravelry
But I'm waiting on finding the right amount of yarn at the right price first as that will be a mammoth knit but oh, so worth it! I wonder if Sylvi is a top down knit..... imagine how heavy that would get on circulars!! Ouch! I can feel the weight:) By the looks of the picture, there are definite seams and I'd imagine the flower pattern is charted from the bottom up. Probably more manageable that way anyway. But, that will have to wait till the rest of the christmas list has progressed somewhat. Still, one down:)) Welcome little red swing coat, I'm sure you will be appreciated by one happy, bubbly niece. But shhhhh, it's a surprise!


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