Saturday, 30 January 2010

Black coffee skein completed

While I was thinking about what to show you today, I realised I hadn't shown you the finished skein spun from the Black Coffee roving.  It took me pretty much right up to christmas but I managed to get the singles spun, plied and posted just in time for my mum's birthday. What was especially nice was the post arrived while I was on the phone to her so I got to hear all the 'oohs and aahs' when she opened the parcel:-)

Want to see?.... ok:-)

The sad thing was the light was so poor for photos between finishing and posting that although I took loads of pictures, very few came close to the true colour of the spun fleece. But you can get a good idea of how the two singles plied together. I was thinking there would be more of a colour contrast with greens and plums in the mix but overall it's quite subtle and harmonious.

This is my first proper plied yarn and although the singles were a little thick and thin in places this did even out through the plying to give quite a nice fingering weight/4ply yarn. But I did learn an awful lot about tension, under and overspinning and getting the right amount of twist in the plying stage so it's been really helpful - and addictive:-) Yup, I'm itching to start playing some more!

I still have a little of this bobbin left as I managed to spin one half of the roving a lot longer than the other although they weighted exactly the same:-) but I think I just seem to make thinner yarn the longer I spin! If I can just get consistant! Spinners out there, is there a knack to this or is it as I suspect,  just practice?!

So I'll have to ply this up so I can free the bobbins for the next lot of roving. I'm thinking of mixing two different dyed rovings together either during the singles spinning stage or as two different coloured singels to ply together. Now, if I can just get the never ending DIY out the way for a little while.....:-)

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Lotus Hat

So I've been busy these last few days catching up on some knitting. I've made some good progress on the Little Minx socks and the zauberball is showing up the textured pattern very nicely but the horizontal stripes haven't made an appearance as yet. Hopefully a good night of knitting this evening will change that and I'll take some photos to show you the difference.

But I do have a finished hat to show you - the Lotus hat designed by uptownpurls. The pattern is free, knitted in aranweight and is a nice quick knit. It's charted rather than written but its very simple to follow.

The only thing to watch out for is when the decreases change slant - you can see the criss cross pattern in the picture? One ridge is created by a K2tog decrease shifting one stitch for about 4 rows or so, then it starts a new ridge in the opposite direction. You need to use an SSK decrease here to keep the new ridge definition. The chart is very clear and tells you this but I didn't notice at first and had to take back a few rows - which was a pain with all the lace YO's floating around. If you do make a mistake and have to rip back, check your needle count before carrying on;-)) It'll be a YO missed out somewhere along the row.

But if you are much more with it than me:-) then you will rattle through this lovely design. It's designed as a beanie but also has instructions to increase the length as well if you prefer a longer hat. When it says the beanie version will just touch the ears - it means exactly that! I was worried it was a little too neat for me but now I've blocked it and set it to dry on the dummy head, it's grown slightly - just enough to be a better fit. Some knitters on ravelry have said that the larger size is too big and have to turn the rib edging over to fit better so maybe 3 pattern repeats and blocking is the best answer for a small/medium sized head and 4 pattern repeats for a large?

Overall, I love the pattern - a simple lace knit with impressive results. The decreasing for the crown is very cleverly written and the pattern flows seamlessly. Well worth the effort this one:-)

Friday, 22 January 2010

Little minx

Well, at last the DIY is finished for the week and I can put my feet up and relax - and knit:-) And first up on the needles is these lovely twisted rib stitch toe-up socks called 'Little Minx' designed by Karen Scott  (designer of those lovely cabley cornflower cowls and socks I knitted.) This is another test knit and I need to get my ass in gear for Karen:-)) So don't worry Karen, they are doing and I hope to have made a huge dent in them over the weekend, if not even finished the first sock.

I was knitting away fine, enjoying the twists of the pattern but the more I knitted in this yarn, the more I felt unhappy. The yarn is Trekking's hand art, a lovely skein in itself but it is fighting the textures of this lovely pattern - sigh. So, I've decided to switch yarns. I'm sure this yarn will look lovely knitted as something else but its not doing my sock any favours!

The wrong side of the sock which is in St st shows the strong colour variegations of the yarns nicely. I really like this side:-) But it's just too busy to handle a complex texture on top - see?

The red banding is taking over completely in this close-up of the right side and the twists verticals are getting lost. So bye, bye, trekking and hello.... Zauberball!!!



Yup. I'm thinking of using a tonal colourway rather than the high contrasting ones though. Something like almond or cranberry going up and down the tonal scale s-l-o-w-l-y so we have colour variation but it won't interfere with the lovely twists. What do you think?

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Nearly there.....

Nearly. Finished. Painting.  Whew! All we need to do now is wallpaper the dodgy wall that wouldn't go smooth. The weekend is mine - no DIY, no emergency anything. The TV, a comfy chair and my knitting are all booked in - disturb me at your peril:-)))

Back tomorrow with a proper post but for now, I'll leave you with a little mosaic taster of things to come this week - hopefully, if the DIY god is kind:-)

G'night for now, brain is scrambled .......zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, 18 January 2010

Stripey lucy bag

Hurrah! We have blogging lift-off today:-) Yes, my monitor arrived at lunchtime and I've been fiddling around trying to get as accurate a colour to the real knitted and crocheted thing as possible so I can post some photos!!

And here we have a bright start to the week with my Stripey Lucy bag - so called as Lucy from attic24 designed this and kindly wrote up a tutorial for all those who would like one of their own. I haven't quite finished this yet though as you can see the handles still need attaching and the flowers are half done as we speak. I have actually crocheted quite a few flowers now but I keep playing with the colours so I'll end up with twice as many as I'll need, but that's fine as I can save them to decorate another project sometime.....:-)

The bag itself is constructed with a simple circular base, increased to whatever size you fancy, then the increases stop and you carry on crocheting a tube till you think the height is right for your bag. The bag also has a lovely scalloped edging around the top - which is the same detailing as my stripey mitts but they were a Lucy pattern as well!

I didn't follow Lucy's recommended join as I didn't want to cut and knot the threads but it ended up looking a bit messy on the 'right' side of the bag - you can see it has a 'jog'/obvious join centre right of the picture. Rather than take it all back, I just turned it inside out as the join is a bit subtler:-) Next time I'll pay attention to the instructions:-)

So the bag is just waiting its little flower and leaf decorations and then it will be officially finished - my first FO of the year. This is a lovely quick crochet and works well with all the pattern details like the edging and the flowers. I went for a rainbow palette but I'm thinking this would look lovely in a more monochromatic colour scheme of chocolates and mochas or with an antiqued colour scheme of pale greens and muted pinks......mmmm!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Bloggers Day of Action

After I posted, I realised that today is Bloggers Day of Action for Haiti. By now we've all seen the devastating and distressing pictures and footage. If you can help, please do, even if it is a very small amount as all the small amounts add up. Google have set up a Crisis response page where you can go directly to donate without wading through internet pages.  You can find it here. Thanks for reading!

Good intentions....:-)

Hello, hello! A belated happy new year to you all. Well, hmm. My new year has got off to a good blogging start! Halfway through the month and no posts - that must be a bit of a record:-)) When my mum is asking me if I'm okay because she's heard I've not been blogging (not having the internet herself) then it must be bad!!

So yes, I am still here, and thank you for all your lovely comments on my last post looking back at 2009. So far this year I've only managed to get sidetracked by my 'Good Intentions'. That is the problem with good intentions, it's a nice idea.... This year, I've been trying to 'focus' on one thing 100% and trying to do it well before moving on to the next thing.  This resolution came about because, as usual, I got to the end of the year with a huge pile of unfinished projects and no inclination to finish them as there are new socks and warm cable jumpers to be knitted, like the Fireside sweater designed by Amber Allison. See how easy it is to be distracted from the project at hand?

Picture By Amber Allison

But isn't it nice?  And it's even nicer that Agnes gifted this pattern to me for Christmas through Ravelry - what a gorgeous and thoughtful present. Thank you so much Agnes:-) I have to match some yarn to the pattern before I can start though but I'm not sure what colour to go for yet. I may surprise you all and not knit it in bright magenta:-) But it will be perfect for all this cold weather we're having at the moment here in the UK.

One of the main reasons for not managing to blog so far this month is my monitor upped and died on me. RIP little monitor..... you were lovely and only had a short life of three years, which seems very short financially when it comes to replacing you - but how I miss a decent screen! At present I'm using a little tv that can be used as a monitor but the colour and red tones look very red and heightened. The menu buttons to change this are greyed out and not available to change when using it as a computer monitor so I can't post my pics as they all look terrible! And if I alter them in photoshop, to what colour level? It's like working blind:-)) On the good side though, my new 23" widescreen monitor (great online deal) will arrive this weekend - fingers crossed -  so hopefully I can get back to posting with decent pictures soon.

And I have lots of things to show you from over the christmas period - the finished spun black coffee yarn, my crocheted stripey lucy bag, a pair of cabled mittens that are ongoing, my durrow cabled jumper that should have been a christmas present that has been resurrected, a pair of yummy socks I'm test knitting..... See! there is so much to January that I haven't managed to post about yet.

Yarn for my test knitted socks - trekking hand art

As well as the monitor issues, I have been carrying out my 'good intentions' of sticking to one project at a time - to the detriment of everything else it seems! And that good intention has been DIYing. Trying to get my living room finished so I can have a normal room again, just like everyone else. Hoping I won't have to climb over any more moved furniture whilst trying to remember which room the TV is plugged into today! Dreaming about evenings filled with knitting, spinning and crochet rather than sanding, polyfilla and paint. Can you tell I'm not in love with decorating? When you're a perfectionist it just goes on and on.....:-) Personally I can think of so many things I'd rather be doing!!!

Anyway:-) Decorating with Chronic fatigue is hilarious!! With only such short bursts of energy it's like watching a comedy:-)) Week 1 has all been about filling and smoothing all the walls which is about finished and I'm just about ready to start painting so not quite out of the woods yet. Anyway, my day goes something like this:

Get up, groan, hide knitting, and wear messy DIY clothes (yup, I had to actually designate some DIY clothes - sad, I know.)

*  Fill and sand for a bit, rest for a bit,

*  Fill and sand for another bit, rest for another bit,

*  Sand for a smaller bit, rest for a bigger bit,

*  Sand for an even smaller bit, rest for an even bigger bit,

*  Collapse;-) day over, go to bed.

Repeat for a week or as long as required until walls are prepared.

Week 2 - repeat above with paint, collapse;-)

Hopefully at the end of two or three weeks, you can look at the finished room and think how nice it looks, have a party and treat yourself to a nice present ** yarn** for having slogged so hard - oops, you've already got the monitor coming, scrub that - okay, a big tub of yummy ice cream then. And collapse for a week of hard earned rest:-)) January finished. But at least I can rest nice and relaxed in my new room, feet up watching a good film with some comfort knitting at hand!

Can you see a flaw in my good intentions plan? Yup? Not much time for knitting. Not much time at all to make projects to blog about. No time to blog!!  It's just not going to work, is it? I've already caved in and started to knit some chunky cable mittens as a quick knitting fix this week:-) I think I just have to admit that it's all well and good making these 'logical' intentions but it's just not me, I just don't fit that mould.  As much as I hate having lots of UFO's (unfinished objects), I can't be anything else it seems, so bring on the multi-tasking:) They'll all get done at some point -maybe not even this year, but hey! So maybe my resolution should just be to go with the flow, which is what I've always done anyway. If it ain't broke:-))


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