Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Tidy Minds, Tidy Stitches 2SKCBWDAY3

This will be a short post for me I fear. I would love to be as superorganised as I am in my professional and home life but sadly my knitting stash does not benefit from the same principles.

I do my best to stuff it all into boxes to protect from dust and the dreaded winged beasties but apart from that - it's every skein for himself.

The only exception is my beloved stash of laceweight yarn - none of which I have used yet. I keep it in a pretty box and take it out to stroke it sometimes.

I use Ravelry to keep a track of my projects (both real and imaginary) but that is about as organised as I get. I'm looking forward to reading about others organisational tips though - and plan to even implement a few of them.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Day Two: Skill plus 1UP 2SKCBWDAY2

My new skill for this year would have to be crochet. I am by no means an expert now, but compared to where I was a year ago I am so much more proficient and confident. My previous crochet attempts had been limited to some very wobbly granny squares and practice squares which always seemed to end up triangular, as I managed to lose stitches with each turn.

The credit to my new found skills must go to the amazing Lucy (of Attic24 fame) whose well-written and clear step by step tutorials were just the thing to get me hooked - sorry couldn't resist the pun.
Ripple - first attempt
The Neat Ripple blanket pattern was my first project and by jove, it worked. I was rippling away with the best of them. The project isn't quite finished yet - it started as a stash buster and then I realised how much extra yarn I would need to make more than a dishcloth-sized blanket. But it is growing slowly and I'm very happy with it.

My first official crochet FO is a little circular placemat I made, again following one of Lucy's tutorials. Just a little hooky something to brighten up a dull little windowsill. The circle is a bit wobbly in places but I am very happy with it.
I'm not sure that crochet will replace knitting as my 'go-to' hobby for relaxation and therapy but I found it very enjoyable nevertheless and one day...I will finish that blanket.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Day One: 28th March. A Tale of Two Yarns.

The challenge for today is to review two yarns, one which is a favourite and one which is the opposite:

When it comes to yarn I am a fickle creature I'm afraid and my current yarn is often 'my most favourite ever'. I am currently using some Shilasdair Luxury dk yarn for a scarf and it is wonderfully soft with an amazing drape and feel. I don't have enough experience of it though to declare it a true favourite...yet.

Trying to come up with my favourite yarn sent my poor head into a bit of a spin - which to choose? My favourite luxury yarn, favourite work-horse yarn, favourite sock yarn? Decisions, decisions.

In the end though, I settled for my beloved Rowan Felted Tweed. What is not to love about this yarn? The colour palette is deliciously muted and I am a complete sucker for anything tweedy. Although, unlike some rivals, the tweedy flecks in this yarn are subtle and work well with this base yarn rather than jumping out at you in a rather alarming manner. Admittedly it isn't the cheapest of yarn, but I have made the Gathered Pullover using just four balls of yarn - complete bargain. Another slight drawback is it's response to vigorous washing - as the name suggests - any mishandling or maltreatment of the beloved item and it will start to felt (ask me how I know!). But as long as you are nice to it, treat it well and wash with care it will reward you by looking good long into the future. My Gathered Pullover has just finished it's second winter, with frequent use, and it still looks good.

Now for the worst yarn.

In some ways this is more difficult. It would be easy to pick on some defenceless, nasty acrylic that I bought on an ebay impulse and then regretted ever since. Fun fur, really cheap, harsh acrylic, pom-pom yarn - all have entered my stash at some point. Mostly it was destined for the local charity shop once I came to my senses.

Instead I have gone for a yarn that I had really high hopes of and which disappointed me on many levels. It is another Rowan yarn, and as the many project pages on Ravelry atest, it is very popular, but it is not for me. I'm talking about Rowan Calmer.

Some time ago I fell in love with a Nora Gaughan sweater, knitted in the said Rowan Calmer. Being slightly skint at the time I tracked down a bargain pack of 10 balls of the stuff in a lovely soft pink shade, from the ever reliable BlackSheep wools website. The yarn duly arrived and in a fit of enthusiasm I cast on (to hell with a gauge swatch). A few rows in I started to notice how the yarn felt in my hands - and not in a good way. I have no idea why,but something about the way the yarn passed through my fingers was setting my teeth on edge, in the same way that fingernails down a blackboard used to wind my younger sister up. I ignored it and ploughed on, past the several knots that I found, until I had finished the first ball of yarn and approximately 5" of sweater front. At this point I looked at the piece of fabric and realised that it was wide enough to fit an average hippo - it had definately grown on the needles and I would need to go down several sizes to stand a hope in hell of getting a wearable garment.
I duly frogged the piece but then couldn't bear to pick it up again. Having read a little about the yarn I now know that a gauge swatch is essential to see how the yarn behaves (before and after washing) and I know that that bit was my own fault, but the feel of the yarn was something that I couldn't get past and in the end I sold the yarn on ebay - hence no photo of the offending item.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A little challenge to me...

A little challenge to myself next week.

My cunning plan is to use this event to try and improve my blogging skills somewhat and to perhaps focus on some aspects of my knitting life that I wouldn't ordinarily touch on.

We will see how it goes anyway.
Day One: 28th March. A Tale of Two Yarns.

More details can be found here

Monday, 21 March 2011

F is for...

F..........Flipping boring sock. So boring in fact that I haven't been motivated to blog about it and certainly can't bring myself to photograph it. It isnt the fault of the pattern - Faux cable socks - but the yarn is a dull nasty brown and is anything but inspiring.
It was an impulse ebay purchase and in my defense - the colour looked much richer on the monitor. The perils of online purchasing! Having said that the intended recipient is my father in law who seems happy to wear grey, beige and brown without complaint, and is so keen to get his hands (?feet) on handknit socks that I think he would wear them in any 'male' colour. I can't see him in pink socks, but you never know.

So spring has sprung and I am dying to cast on all manner of prettily coloured projects but I have been very good and plugged away at these until I had completed the heel turn and gusset decrease on the second sock. Knowing that I only have a few more hours knitting time on them meant that I felt completely justified in casting on for this beautiful scarf:

Monkey Bread by Anne Hanson
Yarn: Shilsadair luxury dk

I am on a bit of a free pattern binge at the moment but fell in love with this great scarf pattern, as well as the name. As with all Anne Hanson patterns it is beautifully well written and includes instructions for two different scarf dimensions, an infinity version and a matching hat - bargain!

The yarn is a dream to work with as well - a blend of cashmere, angora and merino lambswool, it is as heavenly as it sounds. More importantly, in a luscious shade of purple it is anything but brown!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

E is for Embossed Leaves

E is for Embossed Leaves
Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

The sock madness shows no signs of abating - E is the latest sock off the needles and I have several candidates lined up for F.

The bad news is that the Abotanicity is languishing in my knitting basket. I have reached the lace portion which I was really looking forward to, but I'm not finding the pattern very intuitive. To make matters worse there are lots of yarn overs at the beginning/end of pattern repeats which makes the use of stitch markers problematic. Each row seems to take forever (although every other row is plain knit - for a bit of a rest) and much concentration is needed to get to the other end without dropping a clanger.

Needless to say - a house full of small people and husband means that I don't get much dedicated knitting time. I will get there in the end I'm sure but it feels a bit dis-heartening at the moment.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

How long?

Baby Wraplan
Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

For some strange reason it seems to have taken three whole months to finish this tiny cardigan- some quirk in the space-time continuum surely! I had somehow managed to finish the whole thing, including buttons, weaving of ends and some nifty embroidery but had procrastinated and still had 1 sleeve stitches on DPNs.

It is a testimoy to my deep loathing of using DPNs that I left the poor little thing lying in my workbasket for 3 months rather than spend the 10 minutes needed to finish the sleeve and cast off.

Still it is done now and it can go into the gift basket with a rather smug feeling until an emergency baby gift is needed.