Thursday, 31 July 2008

Goody goody....

Goody goody is the name of the new colourway from the Blue Moon Sock Club. Just like sweeties - Refreshers, if I am going to be specific. Very pretty, and totally not something that I would ever have chosen for myself. But it is all about stepping outside the box, after all.

There has been some online debate as to whether or not this colourway can be described as pastel. I think that my skein is, without a doubt, but there is a strong coral colour hiding in there as well, just to spice it up a bit. Some people have a quite strong turquoise, as well - not me.

Not just one pattern but two, with this shipment, and I really like the one from JC Briar. I always seem to like her patterns, and with this one she has used my favourite garter stitch heel again, so that the sock is reversible. I think I will enjoy knitting this. And it is pretty!

Actually, I really must get together a basic pattern that uses that heel, I am sure it would become a staple.

What else? More nice things. The little necklace that I was working on the other day did get finished in time for work, and I've been wearing it. It is very light and comfortable, and I like it. It looks like buttons....

I am no good at arty shots, that's clear. Try this.

Not really buttons. Each little disc only has one hole. This has given me some ideas, though, regarding what might be done with real mother-of-pearl buttons.

Something else that is nice arrived this morning in the post.

I love looking through the Toast catalogue. Their things are always totally to my taste - this is Jamie and Jessie Seaton's company, and let us not forget that they used to design knitwear. For Rowan, as well, in the early days.

But this knitting bag - solid wood handles, no plastic here - and made of linen, lined with cotton, and with naive embroidery worked in wool, on both sides - this knitting bag originally sold for £85, and although I looked and I coveted, I never thought of buying. Because that is, shall we say, not cheap. Toast never is. But I managed to get this in the archive sale for £17 and am feeling quite pleased with myself, definitely. Yet another for the collection.

I did finish the Giotto display flag, and I'm quite pleased with this as well. I have been recalling how much I used to enjoy embroidery.

If you think that this doesn't quite look like the picture in the magazine, you would be right. I have condensed the border slightly - but I wasn't going to leave out the embroidered edging. Both this design and Breughel are worked in Kid Classic, and I will just say that for Fair Isle, Kid Classic is just about perfect. It is so nice and grabby - but it is also really soft in the hand. Hard to imagine an improvement, really.

I've finally cast on for another sock, by the way. The last one from the 2007 Blue Moon Sock Club, Cat Bordhi's Salish Sea Socks. Picture sometime soon..... interesting construction, this one.

And now I must head off to work. The new yarns need to have magically appeared on display in the yarnwall when the store opens tomorrow morning, and that necessitates a degree of frantic activity by somebody at strange hours of this evening and tomorrow morning. And that would be me.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Isn't it quiet......

Not surprising, either, with the weather as excellent as it is at the moment. I am still here, although blogging hasn't been high on the list of priorities over the last few days.

Here is some knitting.

This is a display swatch for Breughel, from Rowan 44. Excellent fun knitting these little things - the only thing is that I keep falling in love with new projects. I could post pictures of the rest of the swatches I have made, but as the books aren't out for a few days yet, I probably shouldn't. Rowan 44 however has been out since the middle of this month, so I can show you this. I still haven't finished the last swatch from the magazine. I must get my act together and do it over the weekend.

Kimono is wandering slowly onward. However, as it is too hot to wear this to work at the moment, I am not feeling very motivated. I keep wanting to go and knit on Tender - the Kim Hargreaves fisherman's rib pullover in black Calmer. And I will finish the shortsleeved tops that are on the needles first!

You may remember that I am working with three different dyelots for Kimono - the borders in the main dyelot and the body of the garment alternating between the main one and one of the odd ones, in two row stripes. For the most part it takes a hard look to see that anything is happening, except for one odd ball which has definitely produced visible stripes - very subtle, it is just a tiny shade difference, but visible.

I have decided it is a design feature. Shall we say, quirky? Of course I meant it to be like that!

One other thing that I am debating mentally is whether to follow the pattern instructions and knit the moss stitch front band separately, then stitch it on - or whether to simply work it all in with the fronts. I know why the designer did it the way she has - it will help the garment keep its shape, because the seam will add stability to the construction. But I am lazy. I know I should do this one by the pattern, but it will take longer.....

What else? I am running out of podcasts to listen to during my drive to and from work - the seemingly inexhaustible stack of Cast On issues has dwindled to just one. After that I shall have to wait for new episodes to go up, just like everyone else. But I do have the last series of Sticks & String still waiting for me though, and that's equally excellent. I just want more.....

To do today - more wardrobe sorting. I have lost my first rush of enthusiasm for this, but it really does need doing. Also, start that last display swatch. And knit more on Kimono. And enjoy the sunshine!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Time flies

I can hardly believe that it's Wednesday already. What on earth have I been doing? There certainly isn't a whole lot of knitting progress to show.....

Well. I have been knitting swatches for display in the shop, and another one is finished, bar the embroidery. There is a lot of embroidery in Rowan 44, and although it is years since I've done any, I remember how much I used to love it. Years ago, literally. I don't think I've done any at all since I made that Chinese-y embroidered bag.... Anyway, embroidery still to do. I'll get that done today.

So that leaves one more for which I already have the yarn, and I should get that one on the needles today at the very least - and two more for which I don't have the yarn. Not having the pattern wouldn't be a problem, I would do something or other. But having no yarn, that is a stopper.

I have knit about ten rows on Kimono. I am not showing you another picture of beige Bamboo Tape as it looks exactly the same as last time. Very much looking forward to getting this piece off the needles and starting on the front, or the pockets at the very least, and the masterplan is for this to happen today. Ha ha ha....

Another thing that I've been doing is cleaning. We both had a sudden and completely inexplicable urge to clean the house from top to bottom - and that's what we spent Monday doing. It is so nice having everything tidy and neat! I want to keep it like this, and I hope that we will manage to do so.

I'm still sorting through the clothes cupboards. I am a long long way from a capsule wardrobe, that is very clear. Decluttering and culling is a good thing, but it does take a while writing careful descriptions for eBay listings.

Also, I have a new favourite distraction. I haven't done any beadwork for ages, and I am currently making a little necklace using discs that look like buttons. It remains to be seen whether I am going to mess this up, or whether I will be wearing it to work on Thursday.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Sunday evening

Halfway through my weekend, at this point. I find that I like working on Saturday and having Sunday and Monday off work - it is nice being slightly out of step with the rest of the world. Although I do miss my spinning group which meets on Saturdays....

Spinning is on my mind more and more. It is something that I do enjoy greatly, and I haven't been making the time for it. I didn't get as far as reorganising the workroom over the past few days, but the great stash cull is going to happen at some point over the coming months, and then I should be able to see the wood for the trees, if you know what I mean. That is not yet, though.

Now, regarding recent comments -

Queen of the Froggers, the lacy raglan top pattern is to be found in All Seasons at the Mill. This book has some rather good patterns for All Seasons Cotton, which is one of my favourite yarns. I've already made the Wrap Top from this book, and I have plans for the Hooded Tunic as well.

And Lisa, I can understand what you mean - for any knitting project, our biggest investment is always our time. I am in awe of people who not only spin, but also dye their own handspu. I don't feel the call for that, myself, and am happy just to admire.

I've decided what to knit - Kimono. Everything else is put aside for the time being until this is completed, and I will not cast on for anything else until this and the other tops are all finished - that's Dauphine, Cookie, and the Slouchy Cover-up. This may call for some serious willpower..... At the moment, I am right at the top of the back. Another twenty rows - and they are long rows, as the sleeves are worked all in one piece with the back (and front) - another twenty rows and I will be shaping the shoulders and the neckline. The odd dyelot which is being worked in alternate pairs of rows does show slightly in certain lights, when it gives the effect of a slight variegation. Fine, I think.

Tomorrow I must work another display swatch, though. I want to get them out of the way - after I finish the two still outstanding, I will have to wait for the yarn to arrive for the rest. It would be good if all the others were done before the last instalment arrives. Photos soon.....

But the thing that has left me feeling quite pleased with myself is the wardrobe cull. A smaller, more select, better organised wardrobe - that's a good objective. Those articles about capsule wardrobes are always strangely compelling for me, although I know that in reality I wouldn't be happy living that way. Anyway, I am working my way through my two cupboards. Every single item is being taken out and tried on - and I've had a pleasant surprise.

The surprise was to find that some things which haven't been worn for quite a while now, suddenly fit me. I haven't been watching my weight at all, and it is some weeks since I stood on the scales - after a period of weightloss things seemed to have stalled, and I had decided that my weight had stabilised. Except that things seemed to have changed.

So after I tried on my old favourite Fatface trousers that I haven't been able to do up for absolutely ages - I mean, not even close - and discovered that they are not just comfortable but even a bit loose (!) - then I got on the scales. I mean, things like that never happen to me. Usually it has been the other way round, I go to put on an old favourite that hasn't been out of the wardrobe for a few months and discover that it won't do up.

Anyway, to my huge surprise and delight I discovered that I had lost more weight - exactly twenty pounds have been shed since I went glutenfree earlier this year. And I hadn't even realised! And with no effort and no deprivation at all! All I've been doing is eating glutenfree - very, very carefully, because I've discovered that if I get accidentally 'glutened' now, it really does affect me quite badly, and things are not right again for about three days. 'Modified starch' is a killer. Sometimes it is fine, sometimes not - so, best avoided.

Now, I just have to do the same again, plus a bit more, and my BMI will be back where it should be - it's more than 20 years since that was the case. Twenty pounds has taken just about 6 months. I need to lose another 32 pounds. I wonder if things will continue? I've said that a lot of times over the past few months, as I recall. I think I will try weighing myself once a month from now on.

So - onward, as they say - but hopefully not upward......

Friday, 18 July 2008

Things to do

  • Laundry and a modicum of housework.

  • Plan exactly what I am going to put where in the yarnwall at work - new yarns arriving soon, you see.

  • Tidy up the workroom. Ha ha ha ha ha.

  • Finalise my timetable for teaching sessions over the next few months. Actually this should probably be top of the list..... definitely comes before the housework.

  • Decide what to knit. There are several garments on the needles at the moment that I want to be wearing right now, namely Cookie, the Slouchy Cover-up, Dauphine, and Kimono. None of them are finished because I keep flitting from one to the other. So, decide which one to finish first, and stick to that until it is done. This may be the most difficult thing on the list.

  • Knit some more of the chosen garment. Try to finish the current piece and start on another.

  • Knit another swatch. Or two if I feel inspired, or if I have not yet made up my mind which garment is 'the one'.

  • Begin the annual wardrobe clear-out. Actually I am quite looking forward to starting this. Each year I go through my cupboards, take everything out and decide whether it stays or whether it goes. If it goes, it usually goes to eBay, because the extra cash is very useful.

  • Start sorting out the stash. This is a big task, but it needs to be done. I think that I have too much yarn. I do know what I have, but I have lost track of exactly where everything is. And I know also that there is stuff that can go to eBay. So, as with the wardrobe cull, everything is going to get taken out and looked at critically. I want to end up with a smaller, more select, and better organised stash of yarn and fibre.

  • Think about getting back to spinning. I haven't done any spinning for ages and I am missing it. This goes hand in hand with getting the stash organised and tidying up the workroom, as my spinning chair currently has stuff on and around it. I want to be able to just sit down at the wheel and spin, without having to move anything out of the way first.

  • Stop making lists and get on with it all!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The over-committed knitter

That would be me.

I have too many things on the needles again, and most of them seem to be creamy beige, which isn't helping.

I have cast on for something else as well, and it isn't Alloy - it is Kimono, from the newly released Studio 11, in Bamboo Tape yet again. The colour is Wafer, a deep cream, and I'm loving this.

I would show you a picture, but Blogger (yet again) won't let me post pictures. I will try again later.

I have more than one dyelot to cope with for this. I'm making size L, and the pattern says 13 balls - I've got 9 of one dyelot, 4 of a second dyelot, and 1 ball of yet a third dyelot, because I am an inveterate buyer of 'one ball extra just in case'. So, two rows of the main dyelot and two rows from another ball...... I can see a shade difference, but I think it is more apparent to me because I know it is there and I am looking for it. I don't think it will notice in wear.

Cookie has not been touched, nor has Dauphine. Progress on the front of the Slouchy Cover-up has been minimal. And I don't even have any socks on the needles to distract me, so really there is no excuse at all. Too many projects, nothing gets finished. I need to get a handle on this, it isn't good. I must focus and get things actually finished, I really must.

However I have also been knitting display flags, and I've got four of them done now. There are just two more that I really should be getting on with, and also there are also two for which the yarn has not yet arrived. I will wait for the new seasons launch before I say more about these, other than that they are extremely fun to knit, and I really like the patterns and the colours.

One thing I will just say is that I think Cocoon may be the nicest yarn I've worked with for quite a while - winter yarn, that is. It is unexpectedly soft and silky - really nice. Pictures when I've got them all ready. If Blogger will let me, that is......

And now it is later. Blogger is talking to me again, so I can show you my uniformly beige knitting. I did say that progress on the front of the KSH Slouchy Coverup was minimal....

..... as indeed that is the case. It is going to look so nice when it is finished though.

Here is Kimono.

Bamboo Tape is such lovely stuff to work with. I've done a bit more this evening, and I've just started the shaping for the sleeves. That little stitch marker is hanging on one of the strands of yarn to identify which skein is the odd dyelot, by the way.

Friday, 11 July 2008

And now, photos!

Finally Blogger has decided to co-operate!

Here is the Lacy Raglan Top, looking very unprepossessing.

This picture doesn't do it justice at all, it is surprisingly flattering to wear. The neckline works beautifully and is bra-friendly - I had worried that it might be too wide, but no, all is well. The shaping at the sides (which completely doesn't show here) makes it look as though I have more of a waist than is actually the case. And it is comfortable to wear. Just the thing for work, when it is July, the air conditioning isn't working, and you have to wear a Rowan handknit.

Here's the raglan detail. A very easy knit, and a very useful garment. I might make another one next year, in a different colour.

Lenore socks.

These took far, far too long. Not sure why, other than the fact that I have been knitting pullovers all the time. Nice yarn - Blue Moon Socks That Rock lightweight, nice colour, although not one I would choose, and nice pattern. Don't know that I'll be making another pair, though.

And finally, Bark.

Gorgeous, gorgeous thing. Lovely and thick and soft, wonderfully wrappy. I haven't crocheted anything sizeable for far too long, and this is a nice easy project with which to ease back into it again.

On the needles at the moment, the Slouchy Cover-up. Here is the state of play this morning - ie with most of the back done - and which I have actually finished a few minutes ago.

Not sure if I will get the front cast on this evening, I am making display flags. Lovely fun!

Back in the saddle

Actually, I've just been listening to a Cast-On podcast with that title. I'm working my way through all the back issues on my drive to and from work, and there's only about a dozen left. It is a long drive, you see. And I'm not even going to mention petrol prices at the moment. I will just say, very quietly, £5.62 for one Imperial gallon. Or for those on the other side of the pond, US$ 9.47 for one US gallon. I am very glad that I have a Smart car.

Anyway, the new battery for my camera finally arrived, and things can now return to normal - or they could if Blogger would let me upload pictures. Most frustrating. I shall try again later.

I am still knitting, although I have been somewhat sidetracked. Dauphine is sitting on the table in the conservatory looking at me reproachfully, because I don't think I've worked more than a couple of rows on it this week.

Instead, I seem to be stuck on Kidsilk Haze. Currently flying off the needles is the Slouchy Cover-Up from Rowan Studio 5, in Ice Cream, which is a rather nice champagne colour. If ice cream were actually this colour, it would probably be a mixture of peach and vanilla. Or maybe a vanilla made with Jersey cream. If Blogger would let me show you a picture then all would be clear.

Anyway, it is lovely. I haven't worked with KSH for a while now, and I had almost forgotten how nice it is to knit with. This is two strands of KSH held together, on 5.5mm needles, so it is growing fast.

I think that I will just finish the back of this today, and then I have something rather nice to do, which I am really looking forward to. Display flags. I've done a set of these once before, shortly after I started working for Rowan, and I really enjoyed it then. This time looks to be even more fun. A whole array of nice little swatches - well, not so little actually - for a whole selection of patterns from the new Autumn/Winter range. Excellent fun.

And, yes, I have a copy of the new magazine already. No, I'm not telling you what's in it. I will just say that there are eight designs that absolutely have to be mine. And two of those are in my opinion among the most beautiful things that Rowan has ever produced........

Friday, 4 July 2008

Home again

We are back. We had a truly wonderful holiday, but it is good to be home again. Actually, we've been back since Sunday last, but I haven't managed to find the time to post.

It really was a lovely time. Living on a narrowboat is different from living in bricks and mortar. The impact on the environment is so much less..... 50 gallons of fuel lasts us most of a year. We get a lot of our power from a solar panel. You go to sleep when it gets dark, you wake when you've slept long enough. There are lights, of course, but as the daylight starts to fail we tend to light candles rather than flipping a switch. Water consumption is more considered. We have a good sized water tank - 250 gallons - and it is easy to fill it at a water point - but a tap is never left running. We bought a newspaper once. We listened to the radio occasionally, and we didn't even turn on the television.

It is so separate from 'normal' life. Even in a city centre, the waterway will always be a quiet ribbon of trees and water, within the city but distinct from it. In the countryside, you find yourself away from roads, in beautiful isolation. When you want to, you can stop, moor up, and stay as long as you choose. When you want to move on, you move at rather less than walking pace. There are locks, you see - sometimes a lot of them - and that slows you down well below the normal 4mph speed limit.

We arrived back suntanned and well rested

It wasn't the nicest of homecomings, actually, because when I opened the front door the very first thing I noticed - well, I could hardly fail to notice it - was a smell. A very, very bad smell indeed. I mean really unbelievably awful. It practically came out the front door to meet me..... It turned out that we'd had a power cut at some point over the last three weeks, the circuit breaker on the main board had tripped when the power came back on, as it has a habit of doing - and so there had been no power to the fridge freezer for a quite a while. The fridge, of course, was pretty much empty apart from a few things in jars - but the freezer had had a normal amount of food inside.

So we had to deal with that.

I still cannot get the smell out of the fridge, by the way. I've tried everything I can think of - wiping out with bicarb solution, leaving a cut lemon in there, leaving some bicarb in there in an open dish - and still it lingers. Currently I've got several fridge deodorisers in there. They seem to be helping a little bit, but it's an uphill battle. If anyone has any suggestions as to how I can deal with this, I'd really appreciate it!

Now, knitting.

I really wish I could show you what I've been doing, but my camera isn't working at the moment. We think the battery is dead, and we've ordered a new one, but until it arrives I am camera-less and blog pictures will have to wait.

I have finished three projects.

The Lenore socks are done. These were the second-to-last of the Blue Moon Sock Club mailings last year, and it has taken me a quite disgracefully long time to finish them. This is mainly because I haven't been working on them, of course. I like them, even though red/black is a colour that I would never have chosen myself. They fit well, and are comfortable to wear. I made the medium size, and changed nothing at all. Nice straightforward pattern, well written, and lovely yarn. I do like Blue Moon yarns....

Bark from Rowan 38 is done. This pattern is by Anna Tillman, and it is a chunky crochet shawl. Not my usual sort of thing at all, and I don't know quite why this project caught my attention the way it did - but I really enjoyed making it, and it well definitely be worn when the weather gets cool enough to warrant it. Although it is called a shawl, really this is more of a scarf, certainly in terms of wear. It is soft and thick, gorgeously textural, and wraps beautifully - to be fastened with a pin, I think. Very 'organic'.

I didn't need as much yarn as the pattern said, by the way. There are four colours of Chunky Print required. For two of the colours, you need just one ball, and for the other two colours the pattern says two balls- but I only needed to touch the second ball for one colour (the dark brown,Pit). The edging is in Big Wool Tuft, and the pattern says 3 balls - I used 2, which was fortunate as I had only been able to find two. So, leftover Chunky Print in the stash now. This will probably be a hat at some point, I expect.

The Lacy Raglan Top from All Seasons at the Mill is done, too. I used the last of the All Seasons Cotton in Slick, a dark marled grey, long discontinued, from stash. This is a nice straightforward knit, and makes a nice straightforward shortsleeved cotton top for me to wear to work. I made size L, and it is comfortable and looks fine.

Currently on the needles I have Dauphine, from Rowan 43. I haven't finished the first piece yet - currently I'm working on the back. The armhole shaping is done, and I'm heading up towards the neckline. This is pretty, and it's growing quite fast despite the fine yarn, mainly because of the stripes, I think. Very more-ish, if you know what I mean. Not entirely my usual colours - I cannot remember when I last knitted with anything like the pinky red in this - but the rest is mainly blues and greens, so not too far out of the comfort zone here.

Cookie, I'm afraid, hasn't been touched. I will get back to it soon.....

Also, I am trying very hard indeed not to cast on for Alloy, in black Bamboo Tape. This is calling my name right now.........