Thursday, 29 May 2008

Picnic time .............. adventures into crochet

I have been meaning to learn to crochet for a long time and back in the new year I mentioned it as one of my new year knitalutions.

I was particularly inspired by the throw that appeared in Rowan 41 magazine (spring/summer) last year.

Rowan mag 41 cover rowan picnic blanketrowan picnic blanket 2

I just loved the eclectic mix. Every new line is in a new colour.

Back in January I took the plunge and purchased the yarn, fourteen 250grm cones of Provence cotton from Texere.


I have to say that this has reduced the cost of making this throw by about two thirds costing my just over £50 compared to around £150 if I used the suggested Rowan yarns. I had to do a little maths as the cones were 250grms and the pattern mentions 6 x 50grm balls. However I worked out as long as I bought enough yarn in total and an odd number of colours I would be fine. (For those of you that are counting and can see 14 cones that is because there are two of one colour for the border.)

To me it just makes a lovely colour wheel.


Being one for organisation and order I felt compelled to photograph them in their colour groups too. Why? Because I can.........




Ok I was stuck where to put the yellow!

So now to the important part with all the materials in check all I needed to do was learn to crochet. I did have a very lovely lesson with Robynn a while back now and did manage a granny square but have to confess as to forgetting most of it as I haven't put it into practice. I have also been lucky enough to have a few kind offers from other Ravellers to teach me too but yesterday I was able to take up Luise on her offer and look, look what I managed to do.......




And look I really have done some of this at home by myself since. The top row of shells is almost starting to get a more even and regular tension. I am enjoying this. My first plan is to use some cotton left over from the cushion cover that I made Emilie last September and make another one in crochet this time on a smaller scale to the throw while I get the hang of the pattern and improve my technique and my tension.

Oh and all of you out there who offered to help, don't worry I am sure I will be calling on you very soon.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Bankholiday bake in..............................

Ok so the weather may have not been great on Monday but that didn't crush the mood. We decided to cancel our lunchtime BBQ and instead opted for afternoon tea with Spag Bol to follow later on in the evening.
So baking was required and this is the feast on the table.



Banana bread

Blueberry muffins

I am not going to go into the delicacies of cream first or jam first but needless to say there were copious amounts of each. Although at one point we did think we may be abandoning everything and rushing off to the West Middlesex in an ambulance. Number one son was testing how sharp a knife was (silly boy) and gained a small cut, nothing too problematic, in fact all was under control until he decided to sit at the dining table, feint and pull the cloth off with him as he fell to the tiled floor of the conservatory. It was quite a frightening experience as he eyes were wide open and pupils hugely dilated. I managed to get him into recovery and stop his tongue flapping back into his throat for a second time. He wasn't best pleased when we said he was to stay lying on the floor for a while. Little sister went straight into nursing mode and collected her favourite blanket to cover him with and then brought a story book to read to him. You know some people will do anything to get out of the washing up! Anyway all was sorted and we drank tea and ate cake.

I did feel however that something was missing from the table.
Could it have been one of these?


I do have a lovely pot but when I go back for my second cup the tea usually is cold.

So now the dilema - which one should I knit.




I think the sheep could win out here, it reminds me of the loopy bonnets and cardis that my mum knitted for my sister and I in the '70's. I just need to get her to show me how to do that stitch. Watch this space there maybe a sheep pot arriving.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Ultimate knitting bag.............. and sock bag.

I have always been know for my love of bags, apparently I take after my grandmother. Something to do with the pockets and the ability to categorise and organise all at the same time. So on my search for the ultimate knitting bag the jury is still out. However, more recently they have had some excellent contenders.

I have to say at this point I am extremely happy with my Namaste messenger bag that was purchased from Robynn for my birthday last year but one must not be complacent, and you can never have enough bags and each and every bag should have its own purpose.

Anyway I do think I may have found the ultimate sock knitting bag, not just for an individual project, for those there are goknit pouches and JennaLou bags but for the whole caboodle. The ultimate, portable, sock knitting workstation.

The front......

Look at all the little pockets and zippy bits to put in all your essential sock knitting requirements.


The back.....


And plenty of space in the main part of the bag to through in a project pouch and a couple of balls of yarn to boot. Plus it stands up all by itself.

So where did I find this fantastic sock bag with all the space a knitter on the go could need for her tools? And how much does it cost?

Well I will let you into a little secret ........... the answer is a local charity shop and £4. (Hey did I mention it was green aswell - on the recycling front.)

So with sock knitting done and dusted what about the rest of my knitting when I am out on the go? Well this portable sock knitting station started to get me thinking and then I remembered something that I had in my loft. Could it possibly have all the elements needed to satisfy my need to organise, classify and over plan?
I will post the pictures and leave the opinions up to you.






Have you worked out what it was in its previous life yet?

Friday, 23 May 2008

Sock gender crisis................................

From man socks to girl socks.......

I was given a lovely skein of cherry tree hill sock yarn that I had been admiring for a long time and I knew just what I wanted to knit with it. A lovely pair of mens cabled socks. I trawled raverly and the rest of the net, flicked through books on my shelves and couldn't find exactly what I wanted. So I decided to be brave and have a go at designing the sock pattern myself. I have knitted a fair few socks so was well aware of sock construction etc. so I set to work. I need to add here that I decided to start these on the plane to Turkey. So wooden DPNs in place I started. I knitted a bit more on the return journey home and then completed my first sock. I weighed the yarn - fantastic 51grms left. This was going to be close but hey I had weights and measures on my side. Well lets say I would have done had I checked the weight of the original skein (there was no ball band or tag). I made the assumption it started off weighing 100grms, how wrong could I be. It was only after turning the heel on sock two that I realised there was a lot less yarn than I was expecting and it wasn't going to knit 24cm (for mister big feet) from the heel and still have slack to knit a toe. Dilema!
First thought was to try and find a skein of matching yarn and buy it to complete the project. Well no one had any matching yarn on the whole of ravelry, nothing on ebay or with the online retailers that I shop with. The whole task was made harder as I didn't even have a colourway or shade number.

So what to do? In the end the only option was a gender change option. My feet are much smaller. I now have a lovely pair of Ladies cable socks in cherry tree hill.






This really was all that was left of the 115grm skein when I had finished so it was a bit of a close call even for my little trotters. There were also some very scary moments when I went to cut the toe of the already finished man sock and started to wind back the yarn and kept pulling off strands not a small yarn ball. All was fine in the end and I did make another modification to my toe pattern to stop that bulking that was in the original man sock.

All that is left to do now is knit up these.......



.......into another pair. This time I know the yarn is Java and I have a dye lot. I also know exactly where I can buy some more but I think 2 skeins will be enough.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

I've been tagged by Quelle Erqsome...............

Ok so the first bit of info I have dragged straight from Em's blog
I was tagged by Ems for the "Peeps I want to know more about" meme.
The rules: Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
As it was a weekday afternoon I would have been teaching my year 3 class at the school I am currently at, however being a Thursday today I am not teaching now as I am currently working part-time. In fact I may well have been observing my student teach.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):
Collect a letter from the post office that has to be signed for
Update my blog.
Update ravelry stash and projects - I am so far behind its frightening (actually what is frightening is that I see that as something important to put on my to do list.
Take DD to her swimming lesson
Mark QCA test papers ready for report writing over half term.
There are many, many things on my list but I never get to the bottom of it.

3) Snacks I enjoy:
Almost too many to mention. You know it really depends on what mood I am in. If I am trying to be healthy then I have become very partial to dried mango, blueberries, raspberries, dreid nectarine. Sometimes only a huge big bit of chocolate will do.
Also I love nuts, cashew nuts to be precise closely followed by pistachio, usually when I have a salt craving but to be fair I will snack on almost anything if it is there I have zero will power with food.

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
I would have a tea shop down in Devon where I would have 2 pygmy goats in the garden and have a craft stall. I would bake brownies all day long and serve cream teas and bake lovely things. I would spend my evenings knitting by the fire and I would have my own alpacas. I would also have my own stuio for yoga and I would of course have to have a Personal trainer to help beat off all the fat from eating the produce of the tea shop.
I would take a month off every year to go and visit far away places (and their LYS).
I really don't know if I could cope with being a billionaire just a little extra to realise my dreams would be enough for me. Just enough so I didn't have to worry about pensions and university fees for the children.

5) Places you have lived:
I was born in Dorset and used to live at the Naval base in Portland, when I was just over one year old I moved with my parents to Crawley. Apart from that I have lived in Exeter when I was at University and since I have been working I have lived in Twickenham. I eventually want to go and live somewhere more rural, the plan was always Devon but I would settle for Chester, Yorkshire, Scotland, Ireland. A simple life with a community (oh and a good gym with a spa and yoga classes).
6) Peeps I want to know more about
Well Ems has already tagged a few I would be interested in finding out about but here goes I tag:
tinyowlknits (stephanie)
others who very conveniently for them don't have blogs!
Petal and Luise I so would have tagged you both too.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Saturday was the school fair.........................

Yesterday was the school fair.


A few weeks ago I decided it might be worth me having a little stall to sell a few of the ipod socks that I have been knitting up out of my odds and ends over the last 18 months and a few other bits and pieces that I had knitted. I also wanted to use the opportunity to teach a few people to knit and encourage those that already could to take it up again.
I wasn't really sure if any of the stuff that I had made would sell mainly because apart from the ipod socks it was mostly hats and scarves and last weekend and the early part of the week had been very warm and not the sort of weather you would make those kinds of purchases in even if it was to put away for the winter months. This put me into a bit of a panic on Wednesday. As a bit of a last minute descision I decided to try out a few knitted corsages and keyrings - I have to say these were very popular, the keyrings totally sold out and I only had a couple of the corsages left.


The ipod socks went down well especially those in the cashmere but I have to say the best bit for me was members of my school knitting group coming along, sitting down and picking up needles and yarn and just taking time out from the fair for a little bit of knit therapy.


I certainly didn't need to worry about the weather and its impact on peoples purchases, with it being a little on the cold side hats and scarves were a welcoming site.

I had a really great day and it was great to chat to meet parents at the school that were also keen knitters and point them in the direction of all things new and knitty on the internet. I think I may well have recruited a few more members for the knitting club too now they have seen what they could produce. Can you spot the skeins of yarn that I had hand dyed out to dress the table, I had some great conversations about those too.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

What is Robynn showcasing..........?

Have you been over to Robynn's Purlescence site recently? If you have you may have seen her show case this month, if you haven't, well you need to get straight over there and have a look.
Amongst the goodies is a fantastic hat kit from Oldmaidenaunt and it is worth it alone for the most fabulous stitch markers / hat charms ever. Back in February Robynn asked if I would mind doing a little test knit on a kit that she was thinking of stocking. And always happy to oblige I said yes and took home the little bundle.


The first thing that I noticed was the most beautiful strawberry stitch markers, which you actually knit up into the hat for decoration if you can bare to part with them. My one regret was returning them with the hat.



It was a very quick and easy knit with instructions for both knitting in the round as well as on straight needles. The pattern for the hat is neatly wrapped around the two handspun skeins of yarn.


Individually they knit up like this...


..... but in this pattern you knit both the skeins changing every couple of rounds to creat this effect.



Isn't it just gorgeous?

You can buy kits from Robynn here.

I have to say I am definately considering the Afternoon Coffe and spoons one. The colours are delicious and the stitch markers even more so.

Actually I want Robynn to source and stock these markers as I would buy tons and tons of them as they are just so, so pretty.

Mosaic and Entrelac...........


So it was Friday night and time to set off to meet the other Socktopods at The Hide in London. I have to say how I made it I don't know I was so, so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open. Anyway I arrived at London Bridge station ready to meet up with Indieknits and others. London Bridge is a very confusing station to meet up with people and there is definately more than one Cornish Pasty stand. Neadless to say I wasn't at the same one everyone else was at!
However once I did find Laura I had to stand and resist the temptation to buy a Krispy Kreme.
Anyway I did meet up with everyone and had a good evening and an opportunity to get started on my Mosaic socks. The first part was easy as all I needed to do was knit the rib for the cuff and at least these were cuff down - easy I thought.

Ok this was going to be my first try at entrelac and luckily I had Dianne (designer of the socks) right next to me to kindly help out whenever I got stuck. I managed to complete the first set of triangles before the end of the evening. A very good start.

Luckily Saturday was also presenting itself with fruitful sock knitting adventures as it was over to Alice's for an evening of PPP&P (thats Pizza with Pjamas and Pride and Predjudice - the BBC 6 episode version). Of course I had to supply Brownies which seems to be a compulsary part of attendance at all current knitting events.

What a fab evening and thanks again to Dianne I was able to complete my first ever entrelac. Unfortuately the heep caused me a few problems and I ended up starting no fewer than 4 times. Maybe the fact it was around 2am when I finally gave up and left it until the morning might have explained some of my woe.



Luckily at breakfast Ysolda was at hand to take me through the structure of a short row heels and I finally managed to complete one.

Apologise now to Dianne as I am afraid I am going to revert to my normal type of toe this time.

Other good parts to the evening included gazing around Alice's yarn room and drooling and I came away with two skeins of Cherry Tree Hill to knit man socks and a book of Tea cosies. One thing I haven't quite worked out is how both evenings managed to escape for me alcohol free! I have to say I made up for it with Bucks Fizz at breakfast though.