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Winter projects

31 Oct

I’ve got some small ambitions for handmade presents for the holiday season this year. Small, in that I probably won’t end up making too many things myself this year but there will probably be lots of Etsy orders.

As a stash busting measure, and a present trial, I thought I’d see how long it would take to do a version of the Eleventh Hour Scarf with Texere Bella – the answer is, an afternoon on the sofa.

Only downside – matching it with a black wool coat is a bit of a no-no because it’s really sheddy. But at £5.20 for a skein, which makes a perfectly adequate scarf, it’s a pretty good deal. Buying a different coloured coat might make it less of a bargain.

Knit Nation 2010 – Wollmeise, Yarnissima, Knitwitches and more

1 Aug

A quick trip to Knit Nation on Thursday and Friday this week make me realise that it’s time to get back to pointy sticks and tying holes with string, as a friend puts it. I also need to learn to read knitting. That’s another story.

Alice ‘Socktopus‘ and Cookie A are the brains behind Knit Nation, where the motto was Learn Shop Knit Spin. Also ‘Unus Multorum’ but I don’t know what that means. Perhaps “Spend lots of money, have a giggle with your knitterly pals, fondle yarn, raid the housekeeping”.

With some snafus (Paypal related) trying to book classes early on, and due to some changes in teachers it turned out that the classes I was going to take ended up being cancelled anyway. Boo. Seems it wasn’t meant to be. On a whim, I checked what was available on Tuesday and signed up for Yarnissima‘s ‘Baby Spice Socks’ class on Friday afternoon and Helen’s friend had a Marketplace preview ticket that she couldn’t use for Thursday night.  Win!

I refute the allegation that there was a ‘stampede’ to get to the Wollmeise Stall on the first night…especially I was rather near the front of that queue with lovely Helen, as we formed the advance party for our group. We behaved ourselves! Ok, we kind of trotted down the marketplace hall and we did bypass all of the other stalls en route to Wollmeise (we went back afterwards, and the next day). Claudia had brought a metric ton of yarn so really, there was more than enough to go around, and even with hardcore addicts seeking out particular colours it was all remarkably amicable, cooperative and gleeful, frankly. We pawed, we picked, we replaced, we handed over and made others happy.  There was an intense air of concentration as knitters carefully laid out skeins of yarn on the red shopping bags, assessed colour choices, did considerable mental maths to see how the budget could be stretched.  Considered putting skeins back. Rationalised that they were saving the airfare they’d have to spend to get to Germany to buy more, bought those skeins (it’s a bit like carbon-offsetting.  Yarn offsetting).

As ever Claudia had planned stock carefully and there was even enough of the elusive lace to replenish baskets more than once each day. I was reasonably restrained (or so I thought) and came away with three sock and one lace from Wollmeise and then some Knitwitches silk for me and for my mum. I bought some undyed yarn for experimentation from Artisan  Yarns, I think it was an angora/cashmere/silk blend. (not the easiest websites to negotiate, unfortunately – why is this so often the way with knitterly sites?) and some virgin Knitwitches cashmere.  Soooooooft.

Yarnissima’s class on Friday was relaxed and lovely – unlike the baby sock I knitted, which had tension like steel wool and would have only been suitable for an infant with a club foot – and it helped me to get my head around techniques for more interesting sock construction. I usually do top-down, as I love a good heel flap, frankly, but there’s always that elusive ability to maximise your yarn as you can with toe-up. Before class I was able to have lunch with GingerLucy and Klozknitz, two very favourite people, and the post-marketplace preview on Thursday turned into crepes with Lotusen, GingerLucy and Rooboost. It was lovely to bump into Bittersweetie too and to meet Hoxton Handmade.  Work and related night-time events mean it’s been a very long time since I got to see my knitter girls and I miss them so this was all the more valuable.

When I came home I dug out Ysolda’s Ariel wrap I’ve been knitting since the Wollmeise market trip last year and did a few more rows. (I was too in awe of her to talk to her – knitting royalty). I unearthed the Sindelfingen Rainbow Opal socks, yarn procured on the same trip. Much to my chagrin, I also decided to frog and start over on the Lucky Clover because, true to form, I stopped concentrating at one point and then did all sorts of crazy things (doubled up on rows, omitted to finish the row in the correct pattern repeat, frogged and then did it wrong all over again) and it wasn’t getting any prettier. The plan is to cast on some more projects, including the Lucky Clover again. Yes, this might seem like folly but it might also keep me engaged, having projects to choose from.  I’m also working on an idiot-proofing my knitting, as well as learning how to read it in the first place. Imagine not being dependent on written instructions? Chart-reading 101 is in order.

Who fancies a Lucky Clover knitalong?

23 Jul

It’s not my idea, but the brainchild of the very lovely Helen over at Craft Actually. She has designed a gorgeous pattern for a shawl, which is available on Ravelry at the moment or via the link on her blog. Helen is raising money for Cancer Research UK, and $5 from every pattern sold in July and August will be doing towards this great cause. Apparently she’s going to do a knitalong for the pattern in August, so get ahead and get the pattern now!

Wollmeise – I get it. I got it. Also – other stuff.

25 May

Well, where have I been?  Away! And now you're going to hear about it allllllllllllll in one fell swoop.  Perhaps pop off and make a cuppa now.  I've been a busy bee.  On yarn tourism trips. Writing and reading and knitting and crafting and getting fit and healthy. I'm in a very happy place right now.  Yay! That's mainly because I've been subtly changing things around in my work life to get some of that elusive 'balance' stuff.  That means not taking shit at work essentially and now that I have wrangled my conscience around so that it is now acceptable [to me] to do my contractual hours, work hard and then bugger off, life is better. Much better. Plus writing every day makes my life make so much more sense.  As does shedding the fat suit I'd been wearing for quite a while – am halfway there and feeling very bouncy.  It's all very very good.

First, some housekeeping!  Thank you to everyone who ran a Race for Life, who cheered on runners, and who supported the iKnit team on our particular night.  With Gift Aid we raised almost £5,000! The little thank you gift of some lovely EasyKnits yarn (plus a gift voucher for his site – I'm loving the new Skinny Semi Solids) goes to…. Monica! Please send me your address so I can send on the goodies.

What else have I been up to?

Writing.  About to embark on this in June. Those of you who know me IRL, I'll be allowed out again in July, with a couple of exceptions!

Crafting: 

  • Knitting: The Misti socks are still on the go, almost at the toes on both.  Also working on an Ysolda Teague pattern for the Ariel Scarf (she is an AMAZING designer and check out her blog at the moment for details of tons of fun places to visit along the Eastern seaboard) though doing it wrap sized in Malabrigo lace – oh, the softness! It's the sort of thing that you touch and immediately want to draw to your cheek because it's gossamer-like.  Never mind that it will take a while to finish.  It will  be worth it.  And will also require considerable blocking.  Also – it's working!  It's only simple lace but it's a milestone for me.

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  • Two baby quilts about to be delivered so no pics yet. 
  • Some quick-fix steampunk jewellery for White Mischief with the lovely Lotusen

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  • Also with Lotusen, there was a trip to the Secret Liberty Fabric Shop, which I rather thought I'd blogged but it just shows that the dementia is rearing its ugly head again.  I made this skirt from the stash however, using Sew What skirts and the front darts, are, I have to say, perfect.  Though as it turns out I have a natural bustle the back ones a bit freaky.  Should have spaced them out more. No, you're not seeing it, you just get a shot of the front:

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    Stored up for summer dresses are the following fabrics:
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    And finally, relating to the title of the post, I now get Wollmeise.  I remember Klozknitz brandishing some at me in a most excited manner at the last I Knit Day, which she'd just scored from the lovely Yarnissima, and me thinking 'Oh yes, that's nice dear'.  Ah, the innocence of it all.

    Quite a while ago, GingerLucy mooted a trip to Germany to visit a handcraft market. That's right folks, a trip to another country to look at wood-carvings. Or something like that. With us being the way we are, we all immediately said 'Sounds lovely. Have you looked into flights? When are we off?'

    The real reason for heading to Sindelfingen was the pursuit and trapping of the elusive Wool Tit – or Wollmeise.  Lucy's organisation was impeccable, coordinating us all on the London end, plus she managed to liaise with a local Raveller, the wonderful Doris.  Doris was a powerhouse of a woman whose main mission in life seems to be to share the Wollmeise joy.  She was like the German Tourist board personified – she suggested hotels, collected us from the airport, booked dinner for the first evening, gave us a guided tour of Stuttgart, took us in search of spargel (sidenote: I've never known a vegetable to be so controversial and such a source or national pride – with England, Germany and Holland all claiming right now to be producing the world's best asparagus) and also acted as official translator.  She made the trip so easy!  She was also acting as a yarn Samaritan – mainly buying at the market for other people. 

    For those of you still think 'eh? Yarn? Whassat? Whassa fuss alabout?' the Wollmeise's shop updates are sporadic and deliberately unannounced – because the volume of traffic so frequently causes the server to crash and therefore it's notoriously difficult to 'catch' an update and purchase anything from her – especially for anyone outside Europe as her updates generally happen in the wee hours of EST.  That's why there was also two other couples in our party – from Chicago and Calgary.  Intercontinental yarn tourism, which was great because as well as them being super-nice, they make us seem less crazy! (B&E – you've already been across the pond for yarn… London's Calling for September….)

    We arrived early the first day.

    We'd been told to. 

    We gawped. 

    Oh the beauty!  Her dyeing process results in an unheard of vibrancy for the sort of base yarns she uses, plus she has scrupulous quality control and is extremely exacting about what she offers for sale. I didn't really understand the names, what was rare and therefore sought-after and good for trading, or the bases, come to it. I just understood The Pretty.

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    See, we weren't alone. I can say I didn't know anyone in the shot above.  Mind you by then we'd purchased as much as we could probably carry and were sated for the day. 

    I'm lying, of course.  Next stop on the yarntinerary was a trip to the Opal Factory shop.  Although the shot below looks like Lucy is running into the shop, we were actually quite relaxed at this point havi
    ng already secured the day's* score. 

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    After that we headed into Stuttgart to drop off Lotusen who was off to an important birthday celebration and a even more important gift delivery, which happily coincided with our trip. Later that evening we found a bar in which to watch the Eurovision which I'll totally own up to as my idea (ok, one point – the amazing Dita Von Teese doing a Debbie McGee during Germany's entry and they only scored 12 points… WTF??  Also generally we felt collectively that Germany woz robbed.)

    Sunday dawned and what happened – oh yes, Groundhog Day. *We did it all again. Well, there was always the possibility of different stuff… oh hell, we just wanted to go back.  Twice.  That day.  In my defence, m'lud, all of the stuff from the second trip that day was gifts for others. Not just pressies for me.

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See that face?  That's after the second – ok third, technically –
purchase. That's the face of happy, and it's not just from yarn.  It's
always a good sign when you wake in the morning to find that your
stomach muscles are still sore from laughing so hard for so long the
previous night.  Finding that those whose company you generally very
much enjoy also make perfect travelling companions is a gift. Where are we going next?

Baby steps

8 Mar

You might remember that I had grand hopes for doing some fundraising running this year.  These haven't totally faded but I've had some technical issues – with my feet. I'm going to take myself to the doc this week to get it sorted. 

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So lets start off with baby steps, which will still be plenty of effort – the I Knit Ravelry Group are putting a team together for the Race for Life on the 6th of May and the sponsorship page is here . 'Race' is a fairly elastic description of the event as I personally expect to be sauntering with perhaps a short burst of plodding towards the finish line if all goes well. Whilst knitting. This will be interesting.  Ooh, what should I knit? I know what I'll be knitting with – see below… and with whom, hopefully if she gets let out to play early enough…

I think it's going to be really good fun and it will be great to do
something with knitters to support knitterly friends who've been
affected by cancer. If you fancy joining in, coming along on the day,
joining us in the pub afterwards (that's part of the plan, right??) or
adding some cash to the total, then please do!

As a little incentive to encourage you to mosey on over to the fundraising page, I'm doing a little pink giveaway.  **Leave a comment to enter**.

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The main attraction is a skein of super squooshy lovely sock yarn – produced by the very talented Jon at EasyKnits and he has very generously thrown in a £10 gift voucher for the winner too! In theory I'll be knitting socks on the course using the skein I bought for myself. 

I'll do the draw after the race on the 6th of May. Should my sewing machine recover soon (mutter mutter growl) there will also be a non-knitterly something. In pink, natch. 

Bellatrix toes

26 Feb

And the rest of them.

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I love the Misti Alpaca yarn.  It's squooshy and lovely.  These are my first completed pair of patterned socks though looking at the sole, I kind of wish I'd used this yarn for  stocking stitch socks because I love the colours on the plain part. Also I should really learn about things like gauge or alternatively remember to switch to smaller needles at appropriate points as they are a little loose in the foot. They'll make fine bedsocks though.

I've been having a frankly crappy time recently – couple of people I trusted have let me down badly on some rather crucial issues and these have come to a head after many months.  I think I've worked through what to do and there's still the slimmest of chances for one very major issue to be resolved according to the original plan though I've already resigned myself to that being the remotest of possibilities.  The upside is that once one door closes you get to decide which other one to go through. Maybe wearing new socks.

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The Sockalong

22 Jan

I started a sock knitalong (KAL) on Ravelry, if you want to join in.  Come on down.  If you're not already a Rav member, just sign up for an invitation and it will be through in a couple of days.

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Here's the Bellatrix socks, being helped along by the lovely stitch markers which were a gift from the even more lovely Denise who's probably too busy to join a KAL at the moment unless it's for very little pink socks, mwah. 

As usual with my wayof knitting something, I've screwed up the pattern on the first one, so I've started on the second one; then I'll go back and fix the first one.  Probably.  Must learn to count. 

To house these, I've got one of Sue Moon's fabulous sock bags.  It appears she still has a couple on sale – they are so beautifully made so go in and snap one up if you can. I made the mistake of buying three that I really liked as presents – and then didn't want to give any of them away.  It's got lots of useful pockets and interiors 'straps' so your store needles.  So clever.

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I've also got a Cotton and Clouds bag that I love. 

I haven't got much time for knitting really, finishing up some freelance work that's doing my head in as these things always do, especially after work.  Someone decided I could make time though…

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My feline paperweight.