Friday, March 31, 2006

Frogging Along

Thunder got his own back for the lack of attention while we were poorly by biting throught the Cherry Tree Laceweight yarn I was knitting my River wrap with. So now it has a join and has been abandoned in disgust. I was not impressed. Seeing as I have such a huge ball of it there should be no need for a join at all. And its not even at the end of a row either! He chewed it before I'd reached the end.....and I am not frogging lace! As I haven't really done that much of it anyway I may start again. I'll see how I feel about it in a few days. I wasn't mad at Thunder, just surprised as he's never bothered with actual yarn, it's always been my beloved Brittany's he liked to nibble on! And cardboard boxes of course hence the photo ;) We thought we'd give him his own box to eat to try and keep him away from yarn, needles and books. Some hope.....

Due to popular request I've given in and here are a couple of god awful pics of me wearing Deep. Deep itself looks lovely, even though I wouldn't have chosen those colours together - but as I had to try the vest top on anyway seemed a good idea to kill two birds with one stone. So to speak. I knew I looked rough having been ill, but lordy lord, now there is photographic evidence to prove it. The headless photo was too ghastly for words, though Deep does look very fetching!

Unfortunately once on the mend there was quite a bit of frogging to do on my 2nd lovely pink Lana Grossa sock. It had also suffered while we were ill and I found a couple of stupid mistakes. They probably wouldn't notice but because it is such a beautiful yarn and the first sock was perfect I just wasn't happy with it, so I frogged her till almost the beginning of the gusset decreasing! Will I ever learn not to knit anything with shaping when I'm poorly?

And the halterneck top I was knitting using Lana Grossa Multicot........well she is no more. Yep, totally frogged. The tension was perfect, gauge worked out wonderfully, colours gorgeous BUT the stupid pattern did not explain half of the shaping. I only realised about 10 rows before finishing! Stupid Rebecca pattern. I will be selling the mag on Ebay - they're totally overpriced and very very short on actual instructions. I always wondered how the pattern instructions were so tiny - its cos most of it you just have to guess yourself. Not impressed at all. I thought Rowan patterns were supposed to be hard to follow if you're not used to them, but this was just ridiculous. No matter how many times you read this Rebecca pattern, the info you need just isn't there. And no, there is no errata for the pattern. Hmpf!

I do however have another halterneck pattern from Garnstudio. Perhaps that one will actually work. I'm not particularly inclined to rework the yarn yet though, I'll move on and go back when the bad memory has dimmed......

However I did actually manage to do the finishing touches to Chardonnay and here she is. Isn't she pretty? The little strap will stop any fall out accidents and the flower is rather cute me thinks. And she's knitted in only 2 balls of Jaeger Trinity. Boy does that have great yardage. Pressing her before sewing up really evened her out - as I find it does with most yarns that contain cotton. I really can't get my head round wearing her, as she is totally a holiday top, only to be worn once suntanned. And I can't quite imagine that, seeing as spring has only just arrived.

An interesting thing happened though whilst knitting the now frogged Rebecca halterneck. It dawned on me that I did not like knitting garments in the round! Yes, it was quicker with no purl rows but I started to find it incredibly tedious and boring and it got to the point where I could only bear to knit 1 or 2 rounds. It felt like watching paint try......give me my Brittany's and straight knitting any day!

I ended up ordering the lovely Buttercup design from Kim Hargreaves last Thursday evening after showing it to my DH who agreed it was indeed lovely and that he would get it for my birthday. But its not arrived yet.....I know I can't have it yet anyway but I really want it to arrive. You know, just so I know its here and safe and waiting for me patiently ;) It should arrive next week, as I had a lovely email from Kim explaining there was an issue with the pattern and they were expecting it to come in Monday. So something to look forward to next week!

I'm beginning to feel like the only person in the world without the Rowan Holiday/Cotton Braid shade card. Kangaroo have been waiting for more stock for ages. If anyone knows anywhere that actually has them in stock, I'd love to know. At this rate it will be next season before I get one :(

We had some not so great news on our ever looming holiday. The direct flight to Langkawi has been changed and now we have to change planes at Kuala Lumpur. The really bad bit - there is currently a 5 hr 30 min wait till the connecting flight!!! Oh my god. We were not happy. It's only an hour on the connecting flight too. Crap isn't it?

We toyed with the idea of staying the night in Kuala Lumpur but decided having just an evening before travelling back to the airport with all our luggage the following day wouldn't be worth it, even of course if we were able to do that. It's all getting a bit close you see. We're hoping there are more flight changes which work better in our favour. Fingers crossed eh?

Friday, March 24, 2006

A Generous Husband...

Well, after last week I don't really have too much to show on the knitting front. My DH in his generosity gave me his flu and I woke up last Friday without the energy to even lift my head off the pillow to have a drink of water. Not good. We spent most of the weekend asleep and rather poorly. It's the first time my husband can remember having flu and I have never seen him as ill as he was. Thankfully its all easing off now, and I can't wait to get back to normal.

I did start a blanket though as I needed something simple and mindless to knit. Its knitted all in one piece and was most relaxing to knit as was a nice easy pattern. Now of course, I'm not sure if I want to carry on or not. I've a feeling doing squares would be better for me, as I can do them as I please and eventually, one day, they magically turn themselves into a blanket. Or something like that. Hmmmm. Currently, the project has lost my interest. But it has to be said, I don't find blankets particularly interesting anyway. Maybe I'll play with some stitch patterns and do squares. At least if I don't like a square its not the end of world is it?

Although spring has still yet to arrive properly I've started another summer top. It's a halterneck done in one piece and should be a nice simple easy pattern. I'm using some Lana Grossa Multicot Print from stash and a Rebecca pattern. I didn't do a tension swatch though, so fingers crossed I don't have to frog!

I did manage to finish the front of my Chardonnay top in Jaeger Trinity. Now its just the edging and a strap to be done plus a flower. You didn't think it had only one strap now did you? Oh yes, I can just see an accident waiting to pop out.....All will be revealed when its finally done. Its the first time I've used Trinity and am still surprised at how lovely and soft it is. I would however drop a needle size next time I use it for a slightly firmer fabric. Depending on where I check the tension it works out at either 22 or 21 sts per really is quite fine!

As we were asleep most of Sunday there was no sewing up done. But I'm hoping this weekend will see the crochet edge of Elspeth finally tackled.

I was getting worried as my birthday present list is shockingly small. Usually there is tons of stuff I want. But I just had a look at the latest Kim Hargreaves summer collection and spied this beauty called Buttercup. She is lovely, although in my not so favourite 4 ply, but would make a love pressie. I'm thinking Bleached colourway as she'll go with everything then.

Poor Thunder hasn't been getting as much attention as usual due to his poorly parents but has been very snuggly most of the time, with occasion naughtiness. He did make me laugh yesterday when I had to nip upstairs while he was out of his cage. He knocked down the gate to upstairs and bless his furry paws, just came up the stairs to find out where I was. How cute is that ;)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Plethora of FOs

I forgot to mention last post that I'd started a sock with one of the lovely Lana Grossa Milenweit yarns, which as you can see is now finished, and was using Clover bamboo DPNs with them. I'm pleased to report that they are indeed lovely and smooth and straight away could tell the gauge was fine. Hoorah! I'm back on slick needles with weeny stitches ;) They are a little pointed for my liking, but will no doubt go a bit blunter with use.

If you look carefully at said beautiful sock you can see the gusset decreases seem to go on forever! I followed the Simply Splendid Socks pattern exactly and wow was it an eye opener. I've realised that most of my socks don't have a heel flap quite long enough, well the short trainer socks anyway. Mostly because the heel is knitted in stocking stitch so merges into the cuff so you can't really tell if it fits well or not, or is long enough. The slip stitch heel is so brilliant and I can't get over how well they fit now, especially over the heel. The one thing I would not do again is the heel turning from the pattern, as it left quite a few stitches more than a standard French heel. Add that to the extra stitches picked up from the longer heel flap - well now the extra long gusset decreasing becomes very clear! I honestly thought it would never stop......

Now the only reason I started using Brittany's was because I lost a beloved 15cm Inox bamboo DPN and wasn't keen on the 20cm length ones I ordered. For some reason its hard to get the 15cm Inox bamboo in the UK, but I've seen them at Rikes Wollmaus so thought next time I order from them, I'll get another set.

So when I got a newsletter from Lana Grossa letting me know that Filati Handknitting 25 had just come out, I thought perfect, I can order the magazine and needles at the same time. Then I realised that I could order another ball of sock yarn and still pay the same postage. Well, it would have been rude not to wouldn't it? So I ordered yet another ball of Magico, this time in denim blues. Unbelievably, the order arrived in only 3 days. The colour didn't grab me but DH thought it lovely. No doubt its because it is not in my usual bright colours. No doubt DH will be right and they will look lovely knitted up. Apologies for the blurriness, I didn't notice till I was about to post.

I realised I've been a bit slow in getting the finishing touches done to some FOs and very poor on the photo front. But when its cold weather we go into hibernation over the weekend and thats the time I usually get to wear to new FOs and so get a photo shoot. However, we made a real effort and this is the result. Mostly down to the fact we had to go John Lewis for some of the organic toiletries I buy. I make a lot of stuff myself, but not bath or shower stuff.

I know I've said it before, probably about pretty much most items I make, but Laura really is just gorgeous. The colour is amazing, the design superb and all together she's just fantastic. This is what Rowan is all about for me and I never ever got that feeling with the acrylicy yarns and other makes I used before I discovered Rowan. I don't want to knit an ok garment, I want a stunning one that I'll be proud to wear. So if costs more, thats fine with me. Better that than finishing something you know you wouldn't wear in the cold light of day if someone paid you.....and believe me, in the 80s I used to knit a few of them. And to add insult to injury they used to fit crap as well as look crap. A total waste of money it was. So for me just not worth it.

And last but not definitely not least is the fab Deep. I'm keeping to my sewing up on a Sunday idea, for at least one seam, and its working well. I don't mind doing a bit more in the week then somehow. I did try and use Summer Tweed to sew up and was very gentle and careful and pulled the stitches through after only a couple but it was doomed to fail from the start. It likes to snap. All those bobbly bits on the yarn were never going to be sewn up smoothly. So I swapped to some 4 ply and it was so easy. Summer Tweed is very forgiving when sewing up with 4ply and it took hardly any time at all and the seams are fantastic.

It's not warm enough to wear her yet but I've tried her on several times and am very pleased with the result, as is DH. She is very comfortable and sits just right. I think I will probably wear her with a brooch though, as I do with Iris, otherwise I think she will start to slip down my shoulders. I tried her on with said brooch, and she does look very lovely indeed. Wonder how long it will be till I can wear her?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Spring Has Sprung

Well finally it looks like spring has actually arrived. Literally overnight. One day freezing. Next day mild. Its quite amazing how your mood changes with some sunshine. Though now we're having lots of rain, but who cares, its not freezing any more!

The last of my Valentine's sock yarn arrived from Germany. Fab colours and I really love the dark pink/red colourway and am glad I got that as well. Spot the booklet that came with the yarn? As well as having pics of all the Lana Grossa Milenweit colours it has the fab Simply Splendid Socks pattern from Lucy Neatby. And even better, her pattern instructions for the heel are how I did my last pair and loved it, with the slip stitches on the purl row rather than the knit row. Much easier. So I'm very happy ;) Her heel turning instructions are different though and I've no idea what its called. Hopefully they'll fit real good, otherwise there will be trouble!

On the sock subject, I'm sorry to bore those that have already seen the single sock, but I had to share this photo of the pair. They are just wonderful. Perfect for brightening up the day - and did I already mention how well they fit? Plus they're also the first FO of March to appear. Many more should follow.....

It was my DHs birthday this week and to celebrate we went to our favourite indian restaurant. I just love Indian food, no trouble with allergies or intolerances there. And the food here is amazing. Just perfect for a night out.

The downside to the birthday celebrations was that I didn't get much sewing up or finishing done. Well its my excuse and I'm sticking to it ;)

However I did pick up the border for Deep which is now all done. I won't bore you with details but will say it was an extremely painful process and not one I wish to repeat for quite a while. I knew it wouldn't be good, but I didn't expect it to be quite so hellish. The border does look lovely though and DH was suitably impressed when I tried it on, even without the arms which was a good sign.

So now just the arms to sew up. I'm deliberating whether to try and sew up with Summer Tweed or see if I can find something else to make the job less painful. Tips anyone?

As the knitting part of Deep was finished I got to start a new project. YAY!!! So I started a design called Chardonnay which is a strappy holiday top knitted in Jaeger Trinity, which is just so lovely and soft. Much softer than Summer Tweed, though still bobbly and textured. I'm using Shell which is discontinued and from my stash. Oh yes, aren't I good? It's a bit boring at the moment as there is yet more ribbing to be done. I'll be glad when the ribbing is done and I'm back to lovely plain old stocking stitch.

The pattern is from Knitting magazine, and is the ONLY pattern I've seen in it that I knew I would make. My DH usually laughs hysterically at most of the patterns. He does the same with Simply Knitting too and says it isn't worth the paper its printed on. Some issues he most certainly does have a point. But both mags have lots of ads that are always interesting and stuff on new items. And Knitting has superb technical articles that are worth keeping. And I can always flog copies of Simply Knitting on Ebay - as I have done in the past. So I carry on subscribing.......and give my DH a good laugh into the bargain. Can't ask for more than that ;)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Where is Spring?

We've had several days of snow now and frankly, I'm fed up with it. I mean, its March now and how am I supposed to get into holiday knitting mode when its SNOWING!!! OK, rant over now, but I mean, really, what is going on???

Luckily my latest pair of socks are a very snug and warm 6 ply yarn. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed knitting them. Thick solid bands of bright colour interspersed with an intarsia pattern. Fab. I've also done the Eye Of Partridge heel on them and boy has it made a difference to the fit. These are really really snug around the ankle and fit me so much better than my normal stocking stitch heel. Yay! It is also a really simple heel too. I worked the heel slightly differently though, swapping the K and P stitches so that the plain row was knitted instead of purled. I came across that tip on a blog, but of course can't remember where I saw it now. Whoever you were, thank you very much ;)

Which leads on quite nicely to a not so good discovery. Remember the lovely Lorna's Laces socks that I showed last post? Well, after washing I was not too impressed to find they did not fit as snug as the previous pair. I had thought whilst knitting them that the gauge seemed slightly off, but remember they changed a fair bit after washing. But these are definitely not so snug, and trainer socks need to be SNUG! It gave me a headache I can tell you. The only difference was the make of DPN - the sizes were the same, both 2.5mm. Hmmm. So maybe the Brittany's will go back in the DPN bag and out will come the Clover's as they are much smoother. I was quite surprised it made such a difference, but as the previous LLs were knitted on smooth Inox bamboo DPNs that can be the only reason. And the Inox really are much much smoother than the Brittany DPNs! Hey ho. You live and learn.

To make matters even more interesting, the Regia Stretch pair I made a little while back had a perfect gauge, and were on the Brittany DPNs. Which just makes the whole business more confusing. But I guess being a stretch yarn, there will be more give anyway. Best not to use the Brittany's then, I'd hate to make another pair and have the same thing happen. I have a pair of 2.25 Brittany's but of course won't know if that will make enough difference. All very strange though.....who'd have thought changing manufacturer would make such a difference. And yep, I checked the DPNs in my needle gauge. Both sets were 2.5mm.....

Anyway despite this awful weather I have made progress with Elspeth and she is all sewn up as you can see. She looks great in plain stocking stitch and of course I've tried her on. The next step is the crochet border which I'm planning to do by only working 3 out of 4 stitches. A number of people had difficulty getting it to fit correctly and also sit right, and missing out stitches seems to be the best way of getting it right. We shall see!

I managed to get this gorgeous pink Lana Grosso sock yarn on Ebay. I've had it on back order for a while from a german company when I spotted it on Ebay so had to have it. I've changed the colourway on my previous order which hopefully should arrive soon. We love sock yarn ;)

It's been a long while coming, but finally here is a recent shot of the sweet but destructive chinchillas brothers, Roxy and Roo. Roo is on the left and has a real boxers nose. Roxy has a real cute angelic face.

Roxy is my favourite, he is the sweetest natured of all 3 chinchillas and his naughty brother Roo bullies him all the time. Poor thing. But he has a pipe he goes to sleep in that his brother doesn't like, so he manages to get some piece and quiet.

Can you see what I mean about the boxers nose? He is a real bruiser of a chinchilla. And the noisiest of the bunch!