Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Be prepared

I've been keeping a migraine at bay for the last couple of days, so decided not to go to my usual exercise class and have a quiet evening at home instead.  It started by listening to the radio while I cut all the buttons off a t-shirt I'm getting rid of...

There were quite a few!  I just couldn't bring myself to put them in the bin though, and the t-shirt wasn't really suitable for passing on to a charity shop.  They're so pretty!

I've been thinking a little about my yarn stash and why it's there, and I think the root is that I like to be prepared.  You just never know when I'll need that particular colour and weight of yarn, or when I'll want to rustle up a quick novelty scarf (ok - perhaps not the scarf!)

I also have a small library of books I might want to read again, CDs I may listen to, and countless other sets of craft materials which may come in handy.  The buttons are the same.  I know many people will have bigger button boxes than me (women mainly, since of course men collect nails and washers instead) but I still have a collection of buttons which I don't know I'll ever use.  But that's just it - I don't know... and if I throw them out then I know I'll need to use them the very next day.

So I spent a relaxed half hour this evening painstakingly snipping away each of these pretty buttons to save them from the bin.  Now I just need to find a project to make use of them... and hope I've got the yarn to match!

As far as the stash-busting goes though... the BSJ is coming on well:
Although it seemed to be going for my eyes when I was working on it at the weekend, so I've put it aside for now.  I'm still a bit undecided what I think of this one - I love the pattern of course, but I'm not convinced by the yarn.  I've got a 100g ball still to start, but I probably won't keep the remaining bit once this is finished.  I'll see what I feel when the time comes though.

But I am enjoying the Chinook Scarf:

I weighed the remaining yarn this evening and there was 75g, so that means I'm about a quarter of the way in to this.  The colour's somewhere between these two pictures, but I guess that's the joy of taking photos during a Cumbrian winter.  No daylight to be had!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Biting the bullet

Well, I've started on a new pattern for the Silk Blend.  I decided to have a go at a Chinook Scarf, and have done two pattern repeats this evening.  It's a bit early to say what I think of it yet, but I'm happy to have a go.

My plan is to make the whole scarf out of one skein or so, and probably use the remaining skein for a pair of mitts or a hat or something similar.

I've also been working on the BSJ, which is a favourite for me.  I love the simplicity and elegance of the design, and it's great for when I'm chatting with friends and don't want to concentrate on a complex knitting pattern.  This picture was taken a couple of days ago; I'm almost ready to decrease for the neck now.

So... just a quick post again because it's getting late, but I'm pleased to be able to see some progress in the stash-busting.  I'm still trying to decide if I want to make lots of granny squares from the acrylic yarn, or if it's better to donate most of it to a local charity.  It's not worth anything to sell but perhaps there have been a couple of community yarn-bombs recently so they may appreciate some extra yarn for that.

Monday, 21 January 2013


So far in the stash-busting endeavour I've completed one project - the Snuggly Bunny (30g) - and  I've got one WIP (a BSJ).  So my mind is turning to what to make with the rest of the stash.  Ideally, I want my next project to be something slightly more challenging than the garter stitch BSJ (much as I love that design).

I've been browsing Ravelry, and have some ideas for what to make with the Manos Silk Blend.  I've got 2 skeins and have wound one of them into a ball to try to get a feel for it.  I can't say that's helped me as much as I hoped... but I think this yarn wants to be a scarf/shawl for myself.  I probably wouldn't wear it as a shawl, but a shallow triangle wrapped round my neck would work well with jeans or when it's chilly at work.  If there's some left over then I'll make some fingerless mitts to match.

At the moment the Chinook Scarf seems to be winning, although a small Boneyard Shawl or a Springtime Bandit scarf also look interesting... or maybe a Stockholm Scarf...  I want to decide fairly soon though - right now I seem to have stalled on choosing the "right" pattern; but that's probably why it's still in the stash in the first place!  This is my first time knitting with a silk yarn so I need to learn not to be so precious and just cast on.

In other plans... I think some of the Debbie Bliss Paloma might become a slouchy hat, but this time I've got 4 skeins to play with so I don't want to end up with too little for anything else...  oh the decisions!

And for the dreaded dk acrylics, I spotted a crocheted granny square sampler idea in Linda's Crafty Corner blog, which has got me thinking.  I'm not sure if I've got the patience to do that properly, but it's worth a thought.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

2013: the year of the de-stash

We've been living in our house for 10 years now, and last year was something of a turning point for beginning to declutter our home.  Over Christmas we emptied the kitchen cupboards and the dresser with the aim of only putting half of the contents back in.  It sounds fairly trivial, but it was significant for us.  We've slowly made progress in other parts of the house (we can almost fit our books onto the shelves, and we're working on the CDs - no mean feat!) and now I need to think about my yarn stash.

I was hopping around some links from the FO Friday gathering and came across a StashBuster Challenge 2013 link.  It looks like a great idea, so I'm joining in...

Step one feels a bit like going to an AA meeting:  "Hi, my name's Lorna and I'm a yarnaholic.  It's been 2 months since my last yarn purchase"

Step two is to take some pictures of my stash.  Most of it is tucked away in the wardrobe in our spare room.  Some of it is even in proper boxes:

So... here's some of the detail:
I'm calling this the "what was I thinking?" box.  Most of these yarns were bought when I started knitting and before I'd got some idea about what I like knitting with.  I guess we have to learn somehow.  I think I'll try to find people who like novelty yarns to take much of this.  Although you never know - I might get over my dislike of knitting toys and make a fluffy teddybear.

 This box was originally sock yarns (the bottom half in the picture) left over from knitting baby blankets, but some chunky yarns seem to have snuck in.  The 3 skeins at the top right are of Artesano Embrace, which I received as a gift for taking out a magazine subscription.  I wasn't too keen on the pattern they came with, but haven't worked out what I'd rather do with them.

Lots of small balls of dk acrylic yarn.  Again, I bought most of these in the early days, without much of a clue what I'd do with them.  There are more scattered around the house from when they've come in handy as oddments.

This box started as baby yarns, but I can see a couple of chunky yarns which have snuck in there too...

And this was originally cotton yarns (mainly dk) or yarns with a similar feel.  I quite like these, and perhaps I'll do a couple of face/dishcloths as quick knits to use them up a little.  I can see a couple of balls of sock yarn which have found their way in here; perhaps they're hiding from the rampant chunky yarns!

Back in the early days I started a granny square in some acrylic dk yarns from a local shop.  I kind of fell out with it, but perhaps I can find a way to like it again.

And finally, this is an example of the non-boxed yarns.  Hiding in here are some forgotten balls of Rowan 4-ply wool and some lovely soft sock yarn (3 skeins) which I bought to make a light blanket with.  I've decided that probably won't work, but I haven't decided what to do instead - maybe I need to buy some more in a different colourway to get a nice combination (no!  mustn't buy anything more!)

There's more than this (including a number of giveaways from magazines), but these are the main culprits for now...

I have a couple of more special yarns to think about though: 4 skeins of Debbie Bliss Paloma, and 2 of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend.   I don't want to waste these, but I do want to use them so I'm looking for some good ideas for these first.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Snuggly success

Just a quick post today... I'm off out soon!  The good news is that the Snuggly Bunny's finished.  I'm going to try to get a better picture in daylight tomorrow if I can, but it's done :-)

I'm not quite as happy with the face on this one compared to my first; perhaps it's because of the paler yarn I used or perhaps I've just not stitched the eyes and nose quite as well.  I'm still fairly pleased with it though.  It's slightly cuter than it looks here so if I can get a better photo I'll be happy!

This time, I used the 3-needle cast off to join the 2 halves of the body and made the neck 2 stitches narrower for a row or so.  I knitted the head in the round again but otherwise followed the pattern as written.  I do like this design and I'm sure I'll do another soon.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


We've been thinking about moving house this year, and we're likely to end up in a smaller place than we have now ...which means I need to reduce my yarn stash.

So I've been planning my next makes around what I need to use up.

First, I've been using left-over cotton dk yarn for a baby toy.  I made a brightly coloured Bliss baby blanket for our friends' first son a couple of years ago.  This Snuggly Bunny is a great use for the remainders.  The shape is a bit weird before the head is stuffed, but my first was so cute once I'd completed it.  I've done all but the eyes and nose since taking a photo earlier this evening:

Second, I thought I'd do another BSJ (my third) to use up some Fab dk which has been hanging around for a while.  It will look very different to my earlier one which were a bit more stripy, but I think it should still work.  The yarn's soft enough, and it's washable so I hope it'll be practical for the new parents.

Which gets me on to a couple of yarns I've been waiting for the "right" project to use...

I've got some Debbie Bliss Paloma in a deep (but not dark) purple,  some Zitron Trekking sock yarn in another purple mix, and some Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend dk in a lovely green/blue/silver mix which I picked up at Woolfest last year.

I'm looking for something for myself from these, but not sure what yet.  They're all yarns I don't want to fritter away or waste, but I do want to use them so I need to get my thinking cap on!

Friday, 11 January 2013

not a BSJ

Well, I'm pleased to say I've finished the Snug Baby Jacket :-)

It was a strange mix of interesting and boring to knit...
- The initial part of plain garter stitch (with a couple of short rows of waste yarn for the armholes to keep me on my toes) was dull, dull, dull.
- The arms were quite fun to pick up and knit, although I managed to have two ridge rows next to each other so the shoulders aren't quite invisible.  I think I must have misread the pattern, or else I should just have had the confidence to do what I thought it should be...  I don't think it matters though - there's nothing wrong with being able to see where the shoulders are.
- The front portion which was also the front and sides of the hood was a new construction for me (as were the sleeve holes), and I liked the idea of the hood merging into the rest of the jacket.
- I was pleased with my grafting at the back of the hood once that hole was filled; I don't think you can see that join.  The seam between the hood and back of the neck is far from invisible though - that's the only real disappointment.  But again, no-one else will mind.
- And this was my first time doing a sewn bind off.  I liked the effect this gave, with a nearly invisible cast off row which merged nicely into the rest of the fabric.
- The yarn (Sirdar Denim Chunky) was a bit frustrating at times.  I like the feel of it and the colour, but it didn't like me unknitting anything - it tended to split quite badly, so the reknitting looked scruffy.  It didn't help when I totally underestimated how much yarn I'd need to cast-off the hood and front (twice!) which left me a number of unnecessary ends to sew in...

So, I'm pleased I've finished it, I think my friend will like it, and I do like the squishy softness of the yarn which should suit a baby.  I'm not sure I'd make this again though... perhaps with a different yarn, but I'm not sure.

The pattern used a lot of Elizabeth Zimmerman's techniques and was based around her design ideas.  I liked it but I think the moral of this story is... I just can't beat the Baby Surprise Jacket!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Simple pleasures...

There's less to report this week... I've been taking a bit of a break from knitting to do some other things.  But I've managed to sew in the many loose ends in the Snug Baby Jacket which means it's ready for adding the toggles and loops (pictures on Friday I hope!).

I've also found a few minutes to add to the Snuggly Bunny.  I've tried to leave a long tail when I finished the first half, so that I can do the 3-needle cast-off to join without needing to break the main yarn.  I was planning to go for an invisible graft between the two halves, but the Snug jacket has reminded me that I prefer not to have loose ends to sew back in.  This way, I should be able to just keep knitting to make the head without breaking and joining back in...

...which got me thinking a bit about what I enjoy about this quick project and some of the others I've completed recently:
  1. Pulling the yarn from the centre of the ball.  I only "worked out" how to do this recently, but it's so much better!  No more yarn running across the floor, or around the car.
  2. Garter stitch with simple shaping.  Great for mindless knitting while talking to friends or watching tv, but occasional increases or decreases provide a more satisfying level of interest.  Actually, stocking stitch is similar, but I do like the way garter stitch doesn't curl at the edges.
  3. Happy colours.  The Snuggly Bunnies have been made with brightly coloured cotton dk yarn and they're so cheerful.  Great for a winter's evening
  4. Small knits.  Portable, and with a finished result to enjoy quickly.
  5. Knitting with friends.  I meet with 3 friends regularly as a prayer group;  two of us knit (the other 2 can, but choose not to!)  I enjoy sharing ideas and watching each other's work grow as we chat; we've learned a lot from each other.
  6. "Seamless" knits.  I do like patterns where I can avoid having lots of seams to sew, or loose ends to tie in.  Classic designs like the Baby Surprise Jacket, or a mitred-square blanket are fantastic (so long as I remember to weave the ends in as I go).
  7. The personal touch.  I like that this bunny will be a unique present for a friend; it won't take very long to make, but will hopefully have more meaning because it's just for them.

Friday, 4 January 2013

2 UFOs

Unexpected Finished Objects :-)

By the time I'd finished the Red Leafy Scarf for my mother-in-law, I didn't think I'd be able to complete the scarf I'd been working on for Grandma as a Christmas present.  But I'd got far enough to be able to start the decrease section, so it grew surprisingly quickly.  I had a very late finish on the Saturday before we were due to head north and it was pinned out to block before I went to bed.  I was able to wrap it on Sunday and we left on Monday.  Hooray!

It's proved very difficult to get decent pictures of this project - I think maybe the colours haven't given enough contrast - but Grandma was wearing the scarf all Christmas Day.  Success!

So then my fingers were fidgeting but without a project, so I decided to make the Möbius Cowl that I'd considered for my other gran.  I cast this on while at my in-laws' for Sunday lunch and an early Christmas meal, then knit most of the way up to Scotland (with the car light on when it got too dark) and did the final few rows once we'd arrived.  I do like the Möbius construction and this original version gave a lovely lacy effect.  I hope she enjoys wearing it.

Oops!  I nearly forgot another finished project... It was made long before Christmas, but I couldn't post until it had reached its new owner.  I sent my friend a Zig-Zag Möbius which I hope she'll find comfortable and practical since it shouldn't be a fight to keep on in the wind...

It's another challenging make to get a decent photo of, but I liked how it looked in real life.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Back on the needles

I had a few days' break from knitting over Christmas while we were visiting family and friends, so I'm happy to have something new on the needles.

I'm knitting a 2nd Snuggly for a newborn (not sure who yet though)... the first was a lovely quick knit and I'm pleased to be able to use up some of my stash while making something which is fun.  I'm using a bright cotton yarn which was left over from a baby blanket.

It's put together as 2 separate triangles which I grafted together last time, and a head added in the middle with a couple of floppy ears.  The first one was a bit odd while I was making it, but really cute once it was finished:

And we've also had some good news!  Our friends' baby boy has finally arrived, on his big brother's 2nd birthday, so I can finally complete the Snug Baby Jacket I've been making.  It's a chunky duffle coat which been waiting until I knew if baby was a boy or a girl... now I just need to sew in the loose ends and add some toggles to fasten with.

The design is almost seamless (although sadly not invisibly joined since I got it slightly wrong... no-one else will spot that though!) and I chose it as an alternative to the BSJ.  I did enjoy the technique, but perhaps not the endless garter stitch at the beginning.