Thursday, January 29, 2009

When I'm not knitting

I love to make things. I've always loved it - my parents and grandparents kept us entertained with crafty projects when we were kids. So it's probably no surprise that when I'm not knitting in my spare time that I'll often be doing something crafty.

Most recently I've been drawn to needlework. There's something soo consuming about needlepoint - I 'switch off' and time flies. I picked up my mermaid needlepoint this week, out of which I'll be making some fun summer sandals. I'm really drawn to the bright colours and wonder if subconsciously I'm dreaming of summer and warmer weather. It is sooo very cold here at the moment.

I've also started stamping and paper crafts again. On my work trip last week I learned that a colleague's wife runs Stampin' Up workshops. And they live down the street from me - bonus! I joined one of the groups earlier this week and we made the most adorable box and filled it with chocolates that are wrapped to match. I'm thinking a version of these might make cute valentine gifts.

The other thing that's keeping me occupied is reading. I received the most wonderful stack of books this year for Christmas. The first I dived into is 'A thousand splendid suns'. I'm thoroughly engrossed and can barely put it down. I'll get up a little earlier than normal to sneak in a few pages, a few more on my lunch break, and again just before bed.

Yes, I'm a crazy (double-chinned) dog lady!

Of course all this reading is eating into craft time! But I'll have this book polished off soon. I'm thinking at that point I should probably return to working on my February NaKniSweMoDo sweater.

Monday, January 26, 2009

More purple ruffles

After making the 'Just enough ruffles' scarf for my Mum out of sock yarn, I decided I needed one for myself. I had one skein of some beautiful Mama Blue Troika sock yarn on hand, in the Urchin colourway, and wanted to see if I could make the scarf with just the one skein.

Last time I doubled the amount of stitches than the original pattern called for, to compensate for the skinnier sock yarn I used. Since I'd used about 1.5 skeins of sock yarn for that version, I was convinced that if I cast on just 50% more this time, that I'd be able to pull off the pattern with just the one skein. Alas no.

I toyed with pulling back and knitting fewer short rows than the pattern called for. And then thought better of it. My Mum's scarf looks so nice with the contrasting edging that I figured I'd do the same with mine.

I found some lovely grey mohair in my stash and knit with 2 strands of it for the last few rows of the ruffle edge, and to cast off. To balance out the grey ruffle edge, I added a couple of single crochet rows of the grey mohair to the cast on edge. Although I would have liked to have made this just out of the purple, I think the grey works well. An added bonus - it goes well with my new grey winter coat.

I think this is the most wonderful pattern -- a quick easy knit that results in a unique looking scarf that isn't too fussy. I see more versions on the horizon... and maybe I'll figure out that magic recipe for making it out of just one skein of sock yarn!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sisterly Sweater Swap

This year my sister made me Rowan Anise out of Rowan Little Big Wool (colour Sugar Spun), and gifted it to me just before I left the UK. I love, love, love it! Thanks Jac -- you are awesome! :)

I'd seen the pattern some time ago and fell in love with it and when my sis started making it I teased her to see if it was a gift for me. I'm not sure if it was originally intended for me, or not, but I certainly lucked out when she presented it to me this week.

Knowing that she was working on this, I thought it would be nice to make something for her also. And I certainly had a massive pile of yarn after the visit to Texere yarns. She mentioned she liked the Rowan Caraway pattern and some of the yarn I purchased - an Alpaca Mohair blend. Since the yarn knits up as bulky, I figured it might work well and was really happy with the light airy fabric it produced. I pulled an all-nighter on this bad girl to make sure I could leave it behind for her (it's just missing ribbon ties at the front).

The quality of the photos is due to the fact that we they were snapped just minutes before we ran out the door to the airport (you can imagine how popular that made 'wait, wait, I HAVE to get a shot of this sweater before I leave!'). Anyhoo it is done and I'm calling this the 'booby prize' -- I think I did much better out of the sisterly sweater swap. I'll be interested to see what she thinks (and hope that she'll be willing to send me better modelled shots... hint, hint Jac ;o)

Oh yes, and this is my Januray sweater for the NaKniSweMoDo (complete a sweater every month in 2009). Extra big needles for this project means that I got a good start off the blocks on this one!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

UK Knitting Delights

I've been back in the UK, with family, over Christmas and the New Year and it's been great! There are a few knitting related highlights I wanted to share with you here on my (mainly) knitblog.

First was meeting the lovely, and talented, knitbloggers from Joli House - Amanda and Lily.
Amanda, and her daughter, Lily live in the same area of the UK as my family and so it was nice to be able to meet up in person at a local cafe. I love the Joli house blog -- Amanda takes some of the most wonderful photos of her gorgeous knitting projects and Lily is a wonderfully talented knitter at such a young age. It was super nice to meet them both.

Second was a trip to Texere yarns - a yarn shop and warehouse in nearby Bradford. What an amazing place!
We arrived and were guided to the shop section which had a lot to offer. We were also offered mince pies and hot drinks. Yum! But it was when we walked into the warehouse that we really got giddy! The place is huge. And full of a wonderful selection of yarns -- British wool, Scottish wool, cotton, silk, mohair, etc etc... all at a really attractive price. Don't even get me started on the bargain section upstairs where yarn was 1p per 1g. Can you imagine? Needless to say I came away with quite the stash. Let's hope it all fits in my suitcase!

And finally there is the knitting content on some of the commercials (quite surprising as knitting isn't as big here in the UK as it is in the US). One was the Shreddies ads (breakfast cereal). I read a couple of reviews that people just didn't like these ads. I thought they were cute.

Knitting Nanas

Nanas Return

The other that does seem to be popular is for PG Tips (tea bags) and features a knitted monkey (not unlike the sock monkey that you'd see in the US). Another cute ad, IMO.

And lastly I'll leave you with this one -- a take on the Queen's Christmas message.

And on that note I'd like to 'shave a stoat' to you all in 2009!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Double the Ruffles

I finished the Just Enough Ruffles scarf to go with the purple and brown gloves that I'd given Mum for Christmas.

The original pattern (Just Enough Ruffles by Laura Chau) calls for a thicker yarn than the Sundara sock yarn I'd selected to go with the gloves, so I made a couple of modifications to the original pattern:
  • Used a 4mm needle (as that what is recommended for the chosen sock yarn)
  • Cast on twice as many stitches as the original pattern calls for
  • I did 20 wraps in the curve
  • I knit a couple of extra rows for the ruffle
I also used 2 colours in the scarf - a dark espresso brown Koigu sock yarn for the first and last few rows, and then the Sundara poppy for the bulk of the scarf. I wasn't sure about using 2 colours at first, but I think it turned out really nice in the end - an extra little detail.

I love the outcome and am going to make one for myself in some mama blue yarn that I've brought with me. Since the above version used more than 1 skein of the Sundara sock yarn, I probably won't cast on as many stitches -- probably increase by only 50% this next time. The scarf is plenty long so this should do the trick.

I love the pattern and think the end result is adorable.