Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Soft and snuggly

Well the baby knitting is now well underway with one top blocking as we speak. Alas, the rain hasn't really let up for over a week now so good light for photos is a bit scarce so no pics as yet - but I can show you the  lovely colours of baby yarns I'm planning to use.

I first bought Patons Fairytale DK online thinking all baby yarn would be reasonably soft but as it is 100% wool, it does have a bit more roughness than I was hoping for - although the colours are rather lovely.  The pinks and the apple greens are especially nice for some stripey numbers, I think. Maybe this will be better for heavier cardis and tops that aren't directly next to the skin. I do also want to be practical and acrylic is hardwearing and easily washable so I wanted to get some acrylic too but it had to be soft.

So my trip to the wool shop found me some Sirdar Snuggly - sooo soft! I didn't manage to get all the colours I wanted but the main ones were there so I was happy enough:-) The deep pink is lovely although I did want to find another mid pink to go with it but no. I do have one ball already (top left ball in box) but one may not be enough. But, I'll wait and see.

So what am I intending to knit with all this lovely yarn then? Oh, I have so many ideas! I've been looking for inspiring patterns and projects on Ravelry and in magazines for shape, pattern and colours. I'm trying to think of things that will be versatile as well as lovely, like cardi's that can go with lots of tops and dresses, or knitted dresses that can be worn over long sleeved tops if it's a bit cold. Here's a little look at some pics I've been inspired by so far:

The top that's blocking is a little cardi with a small lace motif in a solid colour. But while I'm waiting for it to dry and be ready for seaming then some crocheted edging, I'm thinking of casting on a dress...... but which one? Sis, any preferences?

Other knitting - Vivian made some good progress and is at 12" high. Saying that, I have noticed one cable is longer in height than the rest which means either dropping stitches at each cable down 12 rows to fix which is taking ages or  shoving in a lifeline and ripping back the 12 rows..... so it's on hold while I think which one would be less painful. At this moment in time I'm favouring more drastic action as in all honestly it may well be quicker!

Righty-ho, off to sort out the baby dress patterns..... see you soon!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Sunshine Award

I've been meaning to blog about this for ages - I got a sunshine award:-)) Kindly awarded by Erika - thank you Erika! I was really chuffed to bits to receive one as the Sunshine Blog Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspires others in the blog world. So I'm a positive and cheery creative influence:-))

The reason I haven't written about this sooner is that I have to pass this on to another 12 well deserving bloggers and I've spent ages thinking about who to give these to. There are a lot of blogs I follow that are very well known as well as relatively new ones. Who would be as pleased as me to receive one? Who is a positive and creative inspiration to others? It's been very hard to decide and I have swithered for a few weeks as there are so many skilled and wonderfully creative people out there to choose from.

I do feel it is important to be able to pass this award on to help and support creative people in blogland so my choices have been made with this in mind as well. Do please visit the links and let some sunshine into your day:-)

Ok, here are my 12 winners of the Sunshine Award:

1. Lucy - Attic 24 - Such a wonderful positive and colourful blog. A totally inspiring place to visit and escape to - truly a home from home. Lucy is also very generous in sharing her work with us in very helpful tutorials so we can all crochet to our hearts content. And content and happy is where we would all like to be, with Lucy's help:-) Thank you Lucy! 

2. Suz - Suz crochet Groove - now here is a very inspiring site:-) Suz is so visually creative, every post is a feast of colour, techniques and information. A very regular blogger, you are always guaranteed a little slice of creative happiness when you visit.

3. Lisa - The Bold Soul - an inspiring blog in a slightly different creative vein. Lisa writes a personal, insightful narrative of being a Bold Soul in life. An American living her dream of living and loving in Paris. She is a writer and life coach who is not afraid to tell it like it is:) and to encourage us to live our dreams to get the life we want. Very inspiring and a friend on the journey through life.

4. Erika - Erika's Craft Corner - a thoughtful and inspiring blog - you can feel Erika's positive and creative nature in every post. Her regular tuesday questions are a must - they make you consider and re-evaluate just why you do the things you do creatively and in life. Thank you Erika for thinking of this and inviting us in;-)

5. Kate - the Garden Bell - What a wonderful blog! Personality, character, creativity and a zest for life all documented here with stunning photography. There is always a creative visual awareness of the potential of each image which is truly inspiring - especially on a grey wet day:-) GO visit!

6.  Melissa - Empress of Dirt - a very insightful blog about her quest for a simple, frugal, creative and healthy life. Written in a such a warm and inclusive manner, this is a real gem for information and links about healthy life choices and how to realistically live a healthier life - a very practical down-to-earth approach touching on recycling and nutrition, to changing old habits and thought patterns to look after the world we live on so it can continue to look after us. Inspiring!

7. Melody - Fibermania - Just the place to go to be inspired by colour, compositon, creativity and quilts! Melody is constantly creating and blogs every day so there is a viual feast every time you visit:-) She has a very comprehensive flickr gallery where you can lose hours - be warned! -  and she has also produced lots of technical info to help those on their creative path. Enjoy!

8.  Kit - Diva Quilts - A visually inspiring glimpse of Kit's creative journey into the world of making and designing quilts. Gorgeous quilts and stunning flickr favs to truly inspire. Go enter the world of the quilting diva and enjoy the ups and downs of the creative journey!

9. Crystal - Sonnet of the Moon / Modify Tradition - well, this is two blogs really, Crystal's own very inspiring quilting blog, Sonnet of the Moon, and the sister quilt-a-long Modify Tradition co-written with Jennifer. To keep up both these blogs and produce regular quilting tutorials, make quilts as well as the everyday things like eating and sleeping is amazing - and very inspiring. Both sites inspire you to actually get that fabric and sewing machine out, they make you feel that these new skills are within your reach and that you can tap into your creativity easily in a helpful and friendly environment. Go, be inspired!

10. Vanessa - Do you mind if I knit - I love to pop in to see how Vanessa is doing every day or two. She invites you into her colourful, creative world and it's just like chatting to your best friend, all familiar, comfortable and relaxed. Her work is always inspiring and fresh, full of colour and vigour and such excellent photography! She is also very generous in providing tutorials so go be inspired:-)

11. Hen - Henhouse - A wonderful journey into the Henhouse, full of vintage fabrics, quilts,  vintage fairs as well as all the lovely things Hen creates. The whole environment is a real pleasure to visit and is a place to explore, enjoy and savour - just like a good vintage shopping trip.

12. Alicia - Posie gets Cosy - A firm favourite with me. I've been following Alicia's blog, well, since I knew blogs exsisted! In fact, she inspired me to start blogging myself. I am always touched by her ability to reach out and include everyone in her world - a true gift. Her world is an inspiring world to be in, full of creative loveliness and inspiring projects. My love of ripple blankets started here too. Simply, thank you Alicia.


So that's it! What a really tough choice. Although I imagine some peoples blogs are too big to answer every sunshine award:-) at least I can show my heartfelt appreciation to these wonderfully creative people who influence and inspire both me and so many others, by giving them a little bit of sunshine into their lives too.

To accept the award is very easy -

1. Put the logo on your blog or within your post.

2. Pass the award to 12 bloggers.

3. Link the nominees within your post.

4. Let them know they received this award by commenting on their blog.

5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

See? Simples!

So I've put the logo up, picked 12 well deserving bloggers. Now I will be going around to leave a comment on each winners blog and share some sunshine:-) In the meantime, why not sit back and relax with a nice cup of tea and go check out all these lovely blogs and leave them a cheerful comment to make their day:-)

See you all soon,
elaine x

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Forest Canopy shawl

One of the handy things about clearing out your space, is that you find lots of WIP's that you had tried to forget about so you would feel less guilty about starting new projects:-) Not that these older projects weren't exciting when I started them, they were just put aside for a little bit whilst working something else out and then that little bit of time grew bigger and bigger until it got stashed and eventually forgotten about.

So, true to my new year's resolution of bringing these back into the light of day, we have the forest canopy shawl - work in progress.

Indeedy.  This was where we left it, oh, sometime last July..... :-) I put vivian aside for a day or two and decided it was time to get this finished. It was very easy to get back into the pattern too. All it took was a few evenings work and DONE! If I'd known it would have taken so little time, I may not have shelved it so readily. For someone who doesn't like old knitting projects hanging over her head, I do seem to have a fair number of them.

I left it wet blocking overnight and most of the next day and the cat didn't attack or try to eat the pins, thank goodness! She did think it was nice to sit on though - go figure! Personally I think it would be a bit wet on the bum but there you go. This was the best shot I could get as the light has been terrible here most of the week but you get the gist of the full shape and pattern - right? Apparently it's meant to stop raining by the weekend so fingers crossed we get a bit of sun so I can get some final photos outside. But I was trying to be creative inside as much as possible:-) So here you are, the finished forest canopy shawl in lovely Fuchsia pink;

Pattern and edging detailing

I think when I take some more photos I will get some help so I can show you what it looks like on. It was too difficult one handed in dodgy light so this is the best so far.....:-) It's a bit bigger in size than my magenta ishbel scarf which I like as it will be more versatile to wear.

As a shawl pattern, this is super easy and ideal for a first lace shawl knit. The pattern has very clear instructions and helpful how-to tips if you are just starting. I used a lifeline near the end in case I ran out of yarn before the pattern finished - another thing I've learned with this project;-)  

Using 4.5mm needles, I only used one skein (352m/385yrds) and managed to get 13 repeats and the edging pattern knitted comfortably with about two rows worth of extra yarn at the end. It's very quick to do (despite me having a few breaks in between) and very easy to increase its size being only an 8 row repeat. You can just keep going as big as you want or until your yarn runs out!  There are some gorgeous versions out there in ravelry and blogland to inspire. I quite fancy trying this out with a hand painted shawl blank - in colour bands with no colour repeated. Harmonious or contrasting colour palettes...... :-)

But I have promised myself to start the Luiza shawl first. Now that will be a little more challenging for me! At least I've got my hand back in knitting lace shawls. Maybe after knitting luiza, I will feel accomplished enough to sort out the mess I left poor nightingale in - all part dropped stitches on holders with no lifeline:( Sigh! But you live and learn!

Back soon with progress on Vivian!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Let's twist again

Goodness, Sunday already! It's been a bitty week - a little bit of doing this and that but nothing really finished, so to speak. I worked a whole day on Vivian and will take some more pics to show you how the cabling is looking - very nice:-) But I had to take a break as it was taking over everything! I was getting far too absorbed with it. I think all my conversations were absentminded '..... yes' and  '.......no's' about five minutes after the question was asked - oops! And I had that kind of abstracted feeling you get from reality when you concentrate too hard on something, which took ages to go before I could rejoin the land of the living.

But I do have some progress pics of my green limone sock for you - one down and one to go. I especially like the rib pattern in little groups of three along the top cuff. And you can see what a clean gusset shaping this has at the heel too. No holes here at all and it has a very professional finish - which makes me feel all the more accomplished - thank you Karen:-)

I'm usually last to finish test knits:-) - I like to think I am being thorough rather than being slow!  - so I think this pattern will soon be released. I'll let you know as soon as I do. If you are already familiar with cables and a bit of shaping but haven't ventured into the world of socks yet, this pattern would be an ideal starting point. There are lots of visual aids and online links to technical info if needed so you feel supported all the way. And you get a lovely pair of socks as well. Now I just have to cast on sock no 2 before I fall foul of the second sock syndrome..... Which reminds me I have another cornflower sock to finish at some point, after the Vivian, the little minx socks and baby knits.

Yes, hopefully more on baby knits soon......:-) Have soft yarn, just have to decide what to knit. It's a baby pattern jungle out there!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Dear Vivian,

I collected my new chunky yarn for Vivian, hoping this time I will get gauge so we can get started. Isn't it nice? It looks even better than the picture on Ebay. (I always worry that the pictures online will be wrong and I'll end up with a really BAD colour:-)) But this one is lovely - just what I was looking for. And as the seller lived just down the road - coincidence or what? - she let me collect rather than pay a lot of postage and have the 4-8 business days wait, which was much appreciated as time is a-ticking for this here Vivian:)

So I started knitting pronto to see if I would get gauge....... YES:-)) First time too. Right size of needles and perfect gauge in both st st and seed stitch. Whew! The pics are a bit luminous as it was very late saturday night when I took these but proof positive before the big knit begins.

Of course, being impatient, I started casting on late saturday night, thinking it's only just a couple of rows and I'd feel a lot better knowing I've at least started. Ahem. Anyone who has already knitted Vivian or read the discussion boards on Ravelry regarding Vivian (which I had, no excuse), will know that the first 2 rows need a lot of concentration to set up and to get a feel of the structure of the pattern as this is knit in the round (i.e. back and the two fronts all at once on the needles with no seams).

Shall I show you the results of saturday nights hard work? Yes? It's quite impressive....:-)


Ta Da!!

Yup, a big pile of ripped back knitting. At this point, I went to bed! But I did learn a lot although at this point it doesn't look like it. I learned that the pattern starts on a WS row!!  (as well as don't start anything this complex when you are tired:-) Fresh day on sunday......

Sunday - sunshine!
Hiatus for Mothers day here in the UK on sunday. Very nice day visiting, lots of food and conversation - a nice break from knitting:-) I'll get back to vivian on monday, promise!

Monday - positive mood:-)
Cast on again, 188sts using the long tail cast on on 5mm circulars. This cast on is perfect for this pattern as it automatically sets the knitting up for a ws first row. Cast on fine, check. Row 1 WS row - I remembered:-) - followed each chart along the cast on row. Done. Go to start row 2 - problem.......

As you know, I'm a bit of a perfectionist! But I also like a bit of a challenge as well as a new project that pushes my learning skills. I haven't knitted a lot of garments using charts so I'm not really in practice as it were but I like to think I know the basics. Today's lesson in humility is refresh this knowledge often - or, to coin a very apt phrase,  use it or you lose it!

I had a little problem with row 2 as I had to start two of the 6 charts on row 2. But this didn't make logical sense as the rest all cable on row 4 and this would cable on row 5. Ysolda is a very logical and considered designer so this wouldn't happen. But I rechecked row 1 and it just doesn't mention these two charts. Hmmm. Time to call in the big guns - ravelry!

So yesterday, I spent a very pleasant afternoon chatting on the Vivian KAL on Ravelry where I got so much help! I was right, the cables do all cable on  row 4 - whew! BUT I realised that I'd been reading the charts from the wrong side and all the pattern  would be backwards.

Note to self: WS rows read from left to right
                              RS rows read from right to left

Yes, you know what's coming, don't you?

Yup. Another pile of ripped back knitting. But more lessons learned. See how positive I'm being?!

Monday - later on.....

I have cast on again, got past those tricky first two rows and feel like I'm making some progress, finally. I can actually see the pattern emerging now and I am much more confident about progressing. In reality, just minor blip in my memory! At least I had some really good help on Ravelry to make this a lot less painful than it could have been.

Now here is some progress for you:-) 14 rows of no mistake knitting. All cables slanting the right way, all present and correct. Soon there will be decreases and increases to shape the waist:-)) Just don't ask me to watch TV with this one, ok?

I've done some more detailed notes on Ravelry if anyone is interested - the kind of stuff we think we should know and don't want to ask if we can help it, but in truth would prefer a reminder of, kind of stuff :-)) If you're not in ravelry and want to know more details, just drop me an e-mail, happy to help. (But ravelry is such a lifesaver for projects like these, it would be worth joining (it's free) just for their help and support, never mind access to all the free patterns!!)

Back to Vivian now, nearly time for another cable row:-)

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Lemon & Lime Twist

So, I thought I'd surprise you with some more knitting! There is still stuff needing find a home that I really should be concentrating on but I'm very good at ignoring it while I knit my lovely sock:-) Ah, procrastination is my friend - well, my knitting friend anyway!

This lovely sock is a new test knit designed by Karen called Limone Twist (ravelry link). She knitted these in a gorgeous Wollmeise lemon yellow - scrummy! - so I thought I'd do a bit of lemon and lime. You know, I don't think I have a pair of green socks so I think I'll keep these ones for me - if I have any room left in my sock drawer. Well, a girl has to match her outfits and I do wear every colour under the sun so I correspondingly have a LOT of socks. But not green ones - yet:-)

The pattern is a lovely little twisted rib knitted over 4 rows and has a really clever construction.  After knitting through the chart or written instruction - it has both - you suddenly fall straight into the rhythm of it and you are off! This is the quickest I've knitted a patterned sock and I can even watch tv without losing my place at all - praise indeed;-)) I'm only halfway to the heel but I'm looking forward to another new heel to try - a gusset heel on a toe-up sock. I did try this type before, once, but it was so involved with the detailed patterning that it was difficult to appreciate the structure. In this sock I can see how elegant it looks and it will be interesting to knit and see how the shaping is formed. I know! The little things that please!

So lots more tv to watch so I can knit up a sock storm in Lemon & Lime. If the yarn looks familiar, it's the same hand-dyed sweetgrass green I used for my knotty gloves. I had quite a bit left over as well as another skein so I thought the slight stripes would work well on the sole of the sock. Gives it that little lemony feel to the lime don't you think?

Progress report:-)

So, I've got to dye some more yarns soon so I can start my new shawl, get some more sock yarns in the shop - if I don't divert them for my sock drawer:-) -  and get Vivian and some baby knits started. Nothing huge then, she says wryly!

Vivian is on hold at the moment as the lovely deep teal just isn't knitting to gauge - sigh. But I've got my eye on some chunky yarn on Ebay so hopefully I can be up and running in a week or sooner, depending on the post.

The lovely baby yarn I ordered arrived but wasn't quite as soft to the touch as I'd hoped. Lovely colours though. Maybe I can mix and match with other yarns I already have. But baby patterns have been earmarked and should be appearing soon. The good thing about baby knits is they are quick!

So thats us all up to date I think. Going into town tomorrow so I may have a hunt for some Sirdar snuggly. It is SOOO soft! But I'm not sure if the wool shop has it in stock so fingers crossed or it's back to shopping online. See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Luiza Shawl

Remember the shawl competition that Jane was running last week over at Colours from chaos? Y'know, the one I said I'd never win as I was comment no 1? Yup, I WON!!!! I won this lovely shawl pattern - isn't that so cool? Totally amazing as I never win these things. There was a lot of happy dancing going on yesterday:-)) AND a lot of stash rummaging, hunting for the perfect yarn to use.

But I didn't find anything I thought was going to do this pattern the justice it deserves. So, I've decided I'm going to dye some especially for the occasion - maybe I'll call it 'Lucky Luiza' :-)) I'm thinking a lovely deep rich colourway, slightly variegated but only subtle tonal variations, and I think I may even push my limited shawl skills to work with 2ply laceweight instead of the safer 4ply/fingering! (I will dye some fingering too - just in case!) I'm also going to make extra long skeins of fingering (150gms) so I don't run out like I did with the nightsongs shawl - about 2 rows from the end.

I do love the cobweb look and feel of the finer gauge but I'm a bit dubious of my ability to achieve that quality - but if you don't try, you don't learn and this is so nice, I just have to try!!

This is going to be good for me as I really needed to get my ass in gear and start dyeing some more yarns for the shop. It's been languishing a bit so it could do with a revamp for spring. And of course, I may even have a little yarn giveaway nearer the time......:-) I have some new types of yarn to try out - silk/wool mixes in lace and fingering weight as well as some worsted weight wool, so lots of playing will be going on soon!

Thank you Jane for the opportunity to knit up your lovely shawl!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Little minxes

Little Minx socks - front

Today we have some knitting progress - yipee! Things are slowly returning to normal with most things having found a home - just a few more things a-waiting but hopefully they can get sorted tonight and then we can be DONE! Maybe a final tweek or two as I start to use this new workspace but that's okay, you can't pre-empt everything! (although I did give it a damned good shot!!)

So, back to the knitting. The little minx socks really are getting there now but I've only been knitting them watching tv and I've not done a lot of that lately so progress is slower than normal shall we say:-) Now I'm downstairs working, I can monopolise the TV and dvd for longer knitting times rather than using my computer to watch films *hehe* Much more comfy in the living room than on a swivel chair, I must say!

Little Minx - back

The foot section knits a bit quicker being plain on one side so you can steam ahead and get some good progress here. Saying that, the twisted cables are so easy to do, you just motor along remembering to twist every 4th row. I can get quite a few repeats done in 1hr of tv watching so it won't be long till I'm at the top. I keep telling myself every row counts but I think a concerted effort is needed to get these finished so I can start Vivian soon. I may just cast on Vivian this weekend anyway as time's-a-tickin' - April the 8th deadline:-)))  (not that you or girlie bump need the reminder sis!!)

You may have noticed that neither sock has a heel yet. Unfortunately the red bit I need is at the end of the ball so I've decided to knit both heels after both socks are finished. That way I can match up the colours better. The yarn isn't totally exact with its colour proportions as I found when I tried to match the second sock to the first but its near enough and still obviously looks like a pair so I can live with that:-))

Because I've had plenty of time to think about adding the heel to the sock, I've thought about different ways for doing this. The afterthought heel - which I intended to use - is meant to be reduced on both sides and then grafted together. I was thinking if I have to graft anyway, maybe I could do a short row heel? I don't like the obvious lines the decreases give the heel shape and I much prefer the sleekness of the short row heel. It would be easier to knit the heel from the top rather than the sock base so the grafting would be meeting st stitch instead of the knits and purls of the twisted rib pattern. I haven't come across anyone else using this method so is there an obvious reason it's not used, do you know? Anyway, I'll give it a try and if it goes pear-shaped, then I can always use the afterthought heel method.....:-))

Tomorrow, I get some nice baby yarn in the post - excited!! Time to start designing and knitting baby stuff. More on that soon:-)) Have a good weekend yourselves now!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Tidying up

Ah, I've had a very indulgent day today:-) Shopping for new storage boxes! The downside of all the moving we've been doing is that things have to find new homes and that hasn't been quite as easy as I'd imagined. When your workspace is out of the visual range of others, you can get away with a lot more messy cramming of yarn, fabric etc to make everything fit but now I'm downstairs, in the view of anyone who visits and has to go to the loo:), I have to be a bit more considerate of my surroundings so my mess doesn't take over! Solution? Storage!

And not just any storage - nice, cheerful, bright storage:-) The amount of pleasure I get finding some lovely boxes and then sorting everything and finally storing them to get a good visual finish is HUGE:-))) Of course, I had to go to the kids section to find some jolly patterns. All the adult boxes were a bit too serious for me - all faux suede, rattan and leather look. No colour at all. You need a workspace to be an inspiring and happy place  - as well as conducive to work, of course! So I think I've managed to find a jolly selection so far. I'm hoping this will be enough and I won't need any more now!

I got 3 dolls, 3 apples, and one set of three round boxes. The rectangular boxes are about shoe box size  - only one size - which is just as well as I may have been tempted to buy more! Now I can add them to the polka dot boxes I got a few weeks ago from Homebase. (top three  are from Wilkinsons -UK and there are links underneath each picture)

Now all I have to do is sort the remaining pile of stuff that is taking up the middle of the room (ahem!) Back soon and maybe we'll have some actual knitting progress to see! I am so looking forward to getting back into a creative routine and if the weather warms up a bit, maybe I can brave the shed and get some dyeing done too. I think we are forecast some sleet this week and it's a bit nippy out there right now so fingers crossed we will at least get some sun and the illusion of spring:-)


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