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 :-)

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

In search of inspiration (or "why use silk when you have cotton?")

I seem to have built up quite a collection of cotton yarns...  Two in particular are taking my attention at the moment, where I've got a few balls to work with but just don't know what to make from them.

First, there is the yarn from an unsuccessful lace cardigan I was making myself a couple of years ago:
I got the decreases wrong for the sleeve and couldn't work out how to fix without starting over, so now I have 6 balls of green cotton dk yarn without a project.

And then there are the 6 balls of cotton 4-ply which I bought for a song from a local shop's bargain bin:
I'm using some to make a stretchy market bag, but I'm stumped for how to use the rest.

Neither yarn has a friend to go with them, and I don't want to waste the larger amounts I've got... so I'm in search of some inventive ideas for my cotton stash.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

It's a chilly spring so far

Spring's on the way, but it's still pretty cold (-5°C yesterday morning!!) so my current stash-buster projects are some warm fingerless mitts...

I did most of the work for these during a car journey to and from a friend's birthday party 2 1/2 hours away.  They were a satisfyingly quick knit, although I've been slow in getting round to doing the final thumb... almost finished though.  
I could have done with making them slightly bigger but I do like the feeling of the soft yarn.

And I've also made one of a pair of Fetching mitts.  I cast on during the knit & natter at the church weekend away - some passers-by were a bit baffled by the double-pointed needles ("you're knitting with 4 needles!") but I made good progress when I wasn't chatting too much.  I think I may have miscounted when to do the cable row once or twice, but I like the feel of knitting with proper wool.  I don't have a ladder where the needles changed, and I'm sure it's down to the yarn texture.

So that's two active stash-buster challenge projects.

And I'm also working on another BSJ... this one is intended for my cousin's baby which is due in June.  I won't see her until a couple of months later though, so I'm using a slightly thicker yarn and bigger needles.

I've found the perfect buttons already.  We were looking round a craft fair a couple of weekends ago and found a stall selling various handmade items from a local enterprise company for people with learning difficulties.  We bought a few cards and I managed to only buy 3 sets of buttons:

I was impressed with the range and quality though (did I mention the handmade bags?) so I'll be keeping an eye out for more craft events from them.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Facing reality and boosting the destash

Looking through my stash, there are a number of bits and pieces that I'm probably not going to get round to using...  but perhaps I can use them to inspire others.  My church is having a weekend away, and one of the ladies is planning a knit and natter session for the Saturday afternoon.  I've offered my stash of dk acrylic yarn as something for any newbies who might like to join in.  She also knows someone at a local charity shop (Hospice at Home) who will happily take in yarn to make into sellable objects.

So... first there's the freebie yarns from magazines (about 550g):

The dk yarns come to about 1000g:
The giant granny square they're sitting on is about 125g.  I'm not sure what to do with that just yet...

and this bag of random yarns that I took off someone else's hands during a destash(!) is about 550g:

I also have half a ball of scarf yarn which is left from a Christmas present I made about a year ago.  I'm not likely to make another from this, but perhaps someone else will enjoy it (95g):

So that gives me a grand total (without the granny square UFO) of about 2200g!!

It would have been nice to try to make something out of these myself, but reality kicked in to tell me that just wasn't going to happen.  I hope they'll be able to go to a good home though, and maybe even help create some new yarn addicts at this weekend's knit and natter time...

And it feels good to have a newly empty box in the cupboard.

(a day later...) oops!  I found some more: there's another 150g to go in the bag (half freebie yarn, and the rest is the remains of the Fab dk from the BSJ).

So that bring the given-away-total to 2350g...  (My husband's very pleased!)

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Some knitting goals...

- to learn continental knitting. I may try a dishcloth or something small to see if I can get an even tension.

- something other than baby knits and scarves! Although I'm not sure I've got the patience to do an adult jumper at the moment, so perhaps a bag will be a good option...

- ...which may mean I need to have another go at lining with fabric. I've done this once before (complete with phone pocket) but it still feels a wee bit scary.

- design something myself? I've adapted a few things, but I don't think I've started anything from scratch. Chunky garter stitch scarves don't count!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Frogging and planning

I have one WIP on the needles, which I hope will be finished during February, but then... there aren't any active projects!  So I'm planning again...

A couple of years ago I knitted some baby kimonos from the Mason-Dixon Knitting book.  I love the simplicity of this design but part-way through one of them I noticed a change in shade when I started a new ball of yarn.  It was supposed to be the same lot but I'd bought it from an oddments bin so no chance to take it back.  I do like the yarn though (a bright green cotton - Wendy Cotton DK), so I've frogged it and will find something small to use the main part on.

I've got one skein left of the Debbie Bliss Paloma, which I started making into some Fearless Fingerless Mitts.  Unfortunately I've realised I need more yarn than I have, so this will also be getting frogged:

I'm looking for similar patterns which only need one skein so perhaps I'll be more successful if I plan better...

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Stash-buster update

February's Finished Objects...

SB Project 2 (100g):
The BSJ has been taking a back seat a little during the month, because I really couldn't decide if I liked it or not.  I've finished it now though...

This is definitely one of my favourite patterns, and I love that I can make small changes each time so that each BSJ is completely unique.  This time I did the increases by knitting into the front and back of the marked stitch and the one before it on the RS, then purled the marked stitch on the WS rows; that gave a diagonal line of knitted stitches over the garter stitch which was quite effective in the finished jacket.  I added a vertical knit line by picking up the stitches for the button band the "wrong" way.

I also cast off a stitch at the beginning of each row after the first neck cast-offs until the button band, in order to get a slightly wider neck.  This worked quite well, although the edge would have looked much neater if I'd finished it off with an i-cord edging.  The buttons were from my button stash, and were originally salvaged from old clothes - I've no idea what now.

I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out, but I don't like it enough to give to my friends when their baby arrives.  It's nice, but not right for their style.  I'm planning to give it to a local charity shop instead so that they can get some benefit from it.

SB Project 3 (100g):
I've already written about completing the Chinook Scarf.  I did manage to block it in the end, by pinning out each of the points and leaving the straight edge unpinned.  That seemed to work quite well, and I was very happy with the finished result.  I've already worn it a couple of times for work; it feels lovely and soft against my skin and is warm without being too much.

I've finally managed to get a couple of daylight pics:

SB Projects 4 & 5 (150g):
I made myself a Bandana Cowl to use some of the Debbie Bliss Paloma yarn I bought with a birthday voucher last year.  The yarn is so soft and squishy and I'd been waiting for the "right" project to match it with.  This cowl worked very well.

I cast on fewer stitches than the pattern said, since I was using a thicker yarn, then did fewer decrease rows so that it wasn't as deep.  I liked the simple design and it was perfect for wearing while in town looking around the shops.  I gave the first one to my 93-year old gran while she's in hospital, and I hope she likes it.  I'd love it to be a hug from me while we're far apart.

So then I made another for myself... I used 3 skeins in total, although perhaps I'd have preferred the 2nd cowl (mine) to be slightly wider - I'm not sure if it was different to the first, but I was so keen not to run out of yarn that maybe I stopped a row or two earlier?

I'm happy with the cosy feel of this cowl - again, it's quite lightweight but it's lovely and snuggly for the recent cold mornings.

So I'm pleased to have completed 4 projects this month, and to have destashed 350g.  There's still a long way to go!

Thanks again to Linda for hosting this challenge.  I'm feeling inspired by all the creative ways people have found to use up their yarn supplies.  And I've enjoyed remembering the stories behind my own yarn purchases.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Knitting and rugby...

...make a good opportunity to work on a scarf for myself!

The Six Nations 2013 rugby competition started last Saturday, so I took the chance to work on my Chinook Scarf while I watched my national side lose bravely (if somewhat predictably) to the English last week, then comfortably beat the Italians today.  It's turning into an interesting competition this year: by the end of tomorrow there should be 4 teams with one win each, the French with no wins (surprisingly) and either the English or Irish with 2 wins.  It's wide open at the moment which makes for fun viewing.

The side-benefit of this is that I completed my second stash-busting project during today's match.  This was a scarf pattern for some Silk Blend I'd bought a couple of years ago then not been able to match to the "perfect" project...

The pattern is fairly simple, but had some interesting touches.
- This was my first built-in i-cord edging and I did like the way this neatened up the edge and added to the sense of quality.
- The lace border took me a few repeats to get into my head but then was a fun start/finish for the rows.
- And the stocking stitch body made for a nice mindless section (perfect for during a good rugby match).

It needs blocking I think, although I'm not sure how I'll do this yet - the i-cord edging is lovely but could be a bit tricky for pinning out evenly.

I wasn't sure at first if I was going to like the finished result, but when I tried it on this afternoon I was very pleased.  It isn't too big but should be a cosy, pretty addition when the weather's a little chilly (which is quite frequent around here!)

This is a wee bit late for Tami's FO Friday, but I don't really want to wait another 2 weeks (I won't be able to get online next Friday) so I'm going to sneak my link in to yesterday's post.  Well, better late than never!

And for the Stash-Buster 2013 Challenge... this is project number 2 and has used up 100g of a lovely soft yarn.

Project 3 (BSJ) has also been growing during the rugby-viewing, and I'm looking at ideas for the next bit of my stash to be busted.  More to follow once inspiration strikes...