Monday, 3 June 2013

It's been a while...

Since my last post (how can it be more than a month?!) I've been to Poland on holiday (visiting family) for a few days and up to Glasgow for a weekend to celebrate my husband's birthday.  Both gave me a chance to do some knitting or crochet, with mixed success.

- I had a go at crocheting on the plane, with the idea of making a crochet version of the snuggly bunnies I've enjoyed knitting. Unfortunately I don't think I've got the hang of crocheting a sphere yet and the head of this snuggly was pretty creepy!  I think I was getting better at doing neat circles though so it's not all bad.  I think I'll probably rip it out and see if I feel like trying again...

- I also started another zig-zag möbius cowl with some merino yarn from my stash, but got into a tangle while I was travelling so it had to wait until I got home.  I managed to rescue it by going back a couple of rows and was very pleased with the result in the end.  This pattern is definitely one of my favourites: I love that the 3 cowls I've made so far are all so different in texture and drape but that they all worked.  I like the practicality of a circular scarf too; it's quite windy where I live so it's good to have a scarf that can't blow away.

This cowl has now been sent to a friend as a long-distance hug.  It also counts as Stash-buster Project 12, and used 70g.

My other travelling project is a Spiral Blanket of Awesome which I think will be a baby blanket (SB Project 13) - probably for my expected niece/nephew. I'm using a couple of balls of Sirdar Crofter from the stash:

It's been a nice simple knit, which was perfect for the train journey to/from Glasgow.  I may well have a go at another if this looks good once it's finished.  At the moment it's a little tricky to see what the final size and shape will be but I'm happy so far.

In other news... I'm trying to get myself a bit fitter again.  My back was playing up while we were on holiday, which hasn't happened for a long while, so I'm switching to a different Pilates class and trying to do some walking.  I did a lap of our village this evening (about 1.75 miles) at a brisk walk; this is a neglected habit which I think was good for me.  I hope the weather holds so I don't have any more excuses to stay indoors!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Completely normal!

We've got a few days away planned, which involve 4 flights, 6 hotel nights and a couple of car journeys.  We're hoping to meet with family we haven't seen in years and I'm looking forward to it.

Which means I'm doing my packing list ready for next week.  And the item needing the most planning? Well, it's my choice of knitting of course!

...and reading other yarny blogs means I know this is totally normal ;-)

(although I might not admit this to my husband...)

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Can anyone help inspire me?

I made quite a good start to my stash-busting efforts for 2013, but now I've reached a bit of a dead end.  I still have a fair amount of yarn... but it doesn't seem to go together to make something I can complete and either give or use.

I need help!

Looking at the yarns I have in bigger quantities, there is:

  • one more skein (100g) of the Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend.  The first skein was made into a scarf, so I'm looking for something different to do with this

  • 6 balls of a moss-green cotton (300g, approx. 780m), which was bought for a now-frogged cardigan.

  • 3 balls of a medium-weight sock yarn (300g, 1170m), which was bought for a lightweight blanket which I'm no longer sure would work... I probably want to keep one or two balls for a blanket and add some contrasting yarn to make it more interesting.  The colours in the yarn are close to those I often wear.

  • various baby dk yarns, mainly acrylic and shades of cream, pastel blue and green
  • and I've inherited 10 balls of Patons Diploma Gold dk in a nice blue-green shade (just under 1200m) which I'm not sure how to use. 

I've realised I'm probably a process knitter, but I do still want to make something useful or which can be given and appreciated...  
  • I'd quite like a more interesting project, to balance some of the garter stitch knits I've been making recently.
  • I'm going to a family wedding in August which could be an opportunity for a wrap or shrug, but I don't know what colour my outfit will be yet.
  • I'm going to be an aunt for the first time later this year - I gave my brother and his wife a blanket when they were married so I've been thinking about making a similar idea for the baby...
  • I always seem to know a few people expecting babies these days - some of them may appreciate small knitted pressies.
  • I like scarves but find them a bit frustrating towards the end.  I've probably knitted as many cowls as I need for now; that feels a bit more of an autumn/winterish knit than a spring project.
  • I've been admiring a few shawl patterns although I'm not sure how/if I'd wear one myself.  Can I find something interesting to knit which could be worn wrapped around my neck instead?
  • I don't enjoy sewing in loose ends or doing lots of seams.
  • We have a short holiday coming up so something portable would be nice for that.

I'll keep searching but any suggestions will be very welcome!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

WIP Wednesday - BSJ no. 4 and rubber ducky

Two WIPs to show today (the market bag's taking a bit of a rest at the moment):

First is my current BSJ, which is close to being completed now.

This is my fourth BSJ, and I think I've pretty much worked out my favourite modifications:

  • slip the last stitch of each row purlwise to give a neat edge (knitting into the back of that stitch to begin the following row)
  • do the increases as kfb on the marked stitch and the stitch before (RS rows)
  • purl the marked stitch on WS rows, to give a clear diagonal line at the increase
  • do the 5 stitch cast-off as written (or possibly a couple of rows earlier), starting on a RS row
  • decrease by one stitch at either end of each RS row until starting the button band so that the neck is a bit bigger than the original pattern.  This time I knitted the first 3 stitches, ssk, knitted to 5 stitches from the end, k2tog, k2, slip last stitch purlwise.
  • this meant I started the centre section at 150 stitches instead of 158 (based on starting the neck at 152 as written)
  • pick up the 10 stitches at either side of the body length so that the stitches are visible on the RS of the jacket (ie. pick up by purling on the RS row and knitting on the WS row)
All that's left now is to finish the last few rows of the button band.  I plan to make the button holes on both sides, so that it can be for a boy or a girl, although I've not decided exactly which row to do them on or at which points in the length of the button band.  I'll probably do an i-cord cast-off to finish off.

This is definitely one of my favourite designs for baby knits :o)

I'm also still working on my practice project for continental knitting.  It takes a bit of concentration, partly for the technique and partly because I need to count the stitches to give the pattern, so I need to choose the right moments for it.  

I don't think it will be neat enough for a present but I'll definitely keep it as a memory piece.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Trying something new

I've started one of my knitting goals:  I've tried continental knitting for the first time, and so far I'm very pleased with the result...

I've started with a washcloth using some of my stash (turquoise cotton, although this photo doesn't show the shade very well).  The tension's very loose compared to my normal knitting and not too even yet, but I'm very happy for my first attempt.

It takes some concentration though... 
My hands felt very clumsy at first: my right hand kept grabbing for the yarn, but it learned over the next few rows to just concentrate on moving the needle. It feels a little like crochet in that respect.

I chose a pattern which began with a few rows of garter stitch to get the feel of knitting before attempting to purl. I watched a YouTube video for the Norwegian purl method, which does seem easier than bringing the yarn to the front.  I may even decide I like moss stitch if I can get the hang of this!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Baby bunnies

I've found a lovely wee pattern which is ideal for small baby gifts... I've called it a Snuggly Bunny (the original design is Cuddly).

I've made three so far... the first was bright lime green:

...then a fab turquoise:

...and the most recent (Stash-buster project 10, 25g) was a companion to a baby kimono I made a couple of years ago, and has been given to welcome some friends' 2nd daughter:

They've all been made with cotton yarns from my stash (even before I started the stash-buster challenge) and I'm so pleased with the effect.  The face is always a bit of a challenge to get right though!

I've made some small mods to the pattern to try to make the head a bit easier to shape but otherwise it's been perfect.  I like that the head is stuffed with a small bundle of leftover yarn so that there's no white stuffing peeking through any gaps, and of course I'm always happy not to have any seams to sew up!

The pattern can be made in an evening or so; perfect for when I want to make a smaller, personal gift.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

March Makings

March's Finished Objects...

SB Project 6 (60g):
I had some King Cole Mirage yarn which had been bought for a mitred square project but the colour repeat was too long to work with that pattern.  So I tried various other ideas after that but nothing quite worked...

I finally settled on this Rollercoaster Scarf design.

It was interesting enough to work on, and the colour repeat was almost perfect for the ribbing, but I have to admit I'm not totally happy with the result.  Perhaps there just wasn't enough yarn to make it the right size, but the finished scarf doesn't want to wrap nicely around my neck.  If I was to try again, then maybe a bigger needle would have given a better drape, although I think the yarn just doesn't want to relax enough to give a comfortable shape (despite blocking).  It's a shame because I do like the colours, but at least I tried.

SB Project 7 (30g):
I had a single skein remaining of the Debbie Bliss Paloma, so made a pair of wristlets for myself.  They were an enjoyable knit during a couple of car journeys, with some extra time for the thumbs.  I've made the thumb cast-offs slightly too tight for comfort, so will probably need to unpick those and redo, but otherwise I love the soft warmth of the yarn.

SB Project 8 (55g):
We visited Kirkwall in Orkney last year during a mini-cruise for our 10th wedding anniversary, and I bought a couple of balls of yarn as souvenirs.  One ball became a Zig-zag Möbius Cowl which I wear daily, and the other has been used for a pair of fingerless mitts for myself.

I've really enjoyed this yarn; it's been very forgiving to work with and, although slightly scratchy at first, is lovely and soft to wear.  It makes such a difference using real wool and I'm sure these mitts will become firm favourites once the unusually freezing spring weather has subsided.

I also managed to pass on 2350g of random yarns to our church knit and natter group.

So that gives me a grand total of... very nearly 2500g stash-busted in March.  I'm very pleased :-)