Friday, April 28, 2006

Doesn't Time Fly

The annual craft fair at Shepton Mallet was on last weekend so on a gloriously sunny Saturday off we went. We had to take the very scenic route due to roadworks but had a fabulous drive enjoying all the lovely scenery. We really are lucky to have so much beauty all around us. I have to admit I wasn't greatly looking forward to the fair as it is a very average fair, and if it wasn't for Web Of Wool I probably wouldn't bother. But to my surprise there were some new exhibitors including Taj Yarns so I was quite happy. Shopping was restrained as expected, but I'm really pleased with the bits I got. The 3 balls of bargain Rowan Big Wool Tuft will be for a scarf that I wanted to make last year and finally I had a chance to fondle some Regia Silk and it is indeed lovely and very soft and silky. So of course I got 2 balls - and some more Clover accesories as you can never have enough of those can you ;)

On the drive home we stopped off at the new garden Centre in Cheddar which was very nice and managed to find another food bowl for Thunder. He has more than one but hates the ceramic one and chucks it over as soon as it goes in his cage. Finnicky thing he is. So now he has a plastic rounded one that is exactly the same as the bowl that came with the cage and peace is restored at feeding time as he most definitely approves of this one.

My recent post mentioning Custard made me realise that many readers might not have seen him before, as I've not posted a pic of him for ages. Bad hamster mum that I am! So here he is. He's getting on a bit these days but is still as much a houdini as he's always been. Just getting thinner now!

I also forgot to mention last post that my copy of FCEK & Crochet arrived from the US and luckily it was as good as before and I was pleased. It certainly was much better than Knit Simple. I expect when the next issue is due I'll get it again as it only seems to be printed twice a year.

After my recent slowness with sock knitting I've played catch up and have another sock for you. I have so much enjoyed knitting this sock. Partly due to the muted pastel colours - so very different to my normal brights - but also due to the yarn itself. Its Socka with Polycon and is a really bouncy yarn, if that makes any sense. I just love the way it feels and looks. Sock no. 2 has been started and is currently waiting a heel flap. I love this yarn so much I got another colour at the fair - must be in my pastel phase.....

Finishing has been very poor this week I'm afraid as I just haven't been in the mood. It seems the closer to holiday I get the less finishing I'm doing. Strange isn't it. There will be a sudden mad rush to get it all done no doubt as I won't want to leave anything unfinished before I go.

There has been the 3 accident syndrome again. First my lovely expense glass electronic scales go kapput, not helped by me dropping them first. Then I discovered my electricity meter is no longer working. And the third is I have a filling that is starting to crumble away, which is of course just what you want a few weeks before your holiday. Such is life eh!

We had a little day trip to Cornwall which was lovely though very tiring, and ended it sitting in a cafe by a beach watching the waves crashing up on some rocks. It was very beautiful though I didn't have my camera with me so no pics I'm afraid.

I'm finally well on the way to getting me a new knitted bag after the sari silk saga. This is one side of her and she is lovely and bright. The other side is almost done and I've done both sides the same rather than have a front and back. I wonder how the handle will hold up as that part won't get lined. All my other bags have had handles attached. Mind you, only shoulder bags get lined straps so maybe nothing to worry about....

Friday, April 21, 2006

I've Cracked It

At last I managed to conquer that darned crochet edging on Elspeth. In the end I did the picot row with a 2.5mm crochet hook instead of a 3.5 and still missed some DCs out. Oh boy was it hard work! I've done plenty of crochet edgings and never had any trouble with any of them. They were all simple and easy to work and looked great, even with my limited crochet skills. Phew, I'm real glad it's over with....just the arms now to do!

I really can't explain why its taken so long for the 2nd Lana Grossa sock to get done. I just seem to have totally gone off sock knitting. Yes, unbelievable but true! Maybe its been the challenge of that darned edging and the other finising thats just taken over my sock knitting time. Thats the downside of knitting summer tops and smaller items like bags. So much finishing to be done!

Talking of socks, I found one in the washing machine. Nothing unusual you think? But this one was wrapped round the drum! I just saw what looked like a bit of fluff and found it was the top of a sock (my DHs of course...). I pulled and half of it came out then jammed. So no washing could be done and it kind of explained the peculiar noise the machine had been making recently. Of course once DH was home he managed to get the whole sock out. I just wonder how many more are hidden in there. I'd heard about machines eating socks, but had never experienced it myself. Oh my, what if it eats one of my precious handknitted socks!!!!!

I kind of feel I wasted my weekend finishing time on the sari silk bag. It is done and I really do not like it. It doesn't hang straight and although blocking would help, I'm really disappointed with the bamboo handdles. They don't hang straight either and I think they look rather cheap and tacky. And to make things even worse, they are also very uncomfortable to hold. So the bag is going in the charity bag. I didn't bother to line it.....just not worth it. So a disappointment overall and no, I won't be using recycled sari silk again. The variety in quality and different thicknesses just do not do it for me I'm afraid. It wasn't helped by the skein I bought consisting of 2 very different colours and thicknesses, as you can see from the pics. I did like the colour of the side shown in the first pic though. Oh well, we live and learn eh :(

So still no new bag so of course I went back to my favourite Emma King book 25 Bags to Knit and have started another bag from there. Should do the trick lovely.

I did have some good news though. As you can see in the pic I've finished the back of Flame, and would you believe it, I managed to get away with using slightly under 2 balls which is great news as I'll have enough to finish her. She won't be able to have the tie straps but thats fine, as I wasn't too keen on those anyway.

Thunder and Custard had a close encounter the other day. The little escapee Custard ran over to where Thunder was and guess who was scared! Yep, you guessed it, Thunder who is so much bigger than wee little Custard was the scaredy rabbit! It was really quite funny. And a couple of evenings previously I had Custard on one side of the sofa and Thunder on the other, and they just totally ignored each other. Weird eh?

This evening it finally felt like a real spring evening - for the first time this year it was warm and sunny. Lets hope it continues eh....

Friday, April 14, 2006

April Showers

Well Sophie is finally complete which is good. She fits perfectly and in fact reminds me of a swimming cossie, thats how snug she is. Downside is that the colour is really too dark for me. The yarn was bought for a totally different project which didn't work out and the shade chosen by my husband. I ended up taking back the unused balls and Sophie seemed like the perfect project for the 4 remaining balls.

I will wear her but only once I have a tan and at home, rather than on holiday. Linen Print is rather heavy and not something I'd want to take away with me. So that is the end of my first and last time knitting with Linen Print. I find teeny summer tops and halternecks never quite work out as planned, especially compared to the jackets & cardigans I've made which I'm almost always absolutely delighted with. And compared with the amount of wear summer tops get anyway, it doesn't seem really worth the effort sometimes. This may explain why I haven't bought any yarn this year for summer! I think I'll stick to shrugs, boleros and cardi's as I always get so much more wear out of them.

So exactly why I've started on Flame, a vest from Rowan 31 in Linen Drape I'm not quite certain. Except that its in my stash and has to be used. Whats worse is that the pattern requires 5 balls and I only have 4. And I'd forgotten how long Linen Drape takes to knit up! It is a gorgeous yarn though and will make a pretty vest, if I have enough that is. I'll find out soon enough, as both the back and the front are the same. The pic shows 1 balls worth so we'll see. I've seen some on Ebay but not sure of the dye lot. Hopefully the seller will let me know. And if anyone has a ball of Seahorse Shade 854 Lot 23I2 they would part with, I'd be most interested ;)

Still on summer tops, I've started another Kitty halterneck top in Cotton Braid which is just so lovely to knit with. I know I've said it before, but it really is like knitting with cotton wool and knits up amazing quickly. I got 2 balls from the ever so generous Linda all the way from Australia, and managed to get 2 more of the same dye lot. Perfect! This Kitty is in Klimt colourway and is one of the very few knitted items that I will be taking away on holiday. I wore my one in Botticelli last year over my bikini several times and loved how soft it was. So this year I will have 2 with me. Of course I already have a pink Animal beach skirt that will look fab with it. So thank you very much Linda - I can't wait to wear it! Reminds me, better get on with finishing it then.....luckily the crochet edging on this one is really simple so won't take long, thank goodness!

A quick mention on Elspeth then. I've been ignoring her as I was a bit wary of doing the picot edge again.....and finding it wasn't working out right. I finally plucked up courage Wednesday to try her and as I thought, it took a few goes before I was finally happy with how it was looking and ended up using a 2.5mm crochet hook. Fingers crossed it still looks ok around the front shaping......I haven't got that far yet!!!

I'd understood that Family Circle Easy Knitting was no more and that it was replaced by Knit Simple. Well thats kind of true, the subscriptions for FCEK were indeed taken over by Knit Simple. However there's been a change of publisher all round and FCEK has now reappeared as FCEK & Crochet. I managed to order a copy from the US as its only available on newstands in the US. Lets hope its worth the price, as the postage was almost double the price of the mag!

But as I've sold some Jaeger Albany yarn on Ebay I thought I'd treat myself. Ebay can be funny at times. I'd tried selling 2 lots of Albany together with a pattern booklet, but had no takers. So I thought I'd split them up this time and only listed the yarn. And guess what, the same person buys both lots of yarn for more they were originally listed and now don't get the pattern book. So a lesson to learn, lumping stuff together doesn't always work so well!

Thunder says hello and wishes everyone a good Easter. As he's moulting the poor thing is rather fed up of his parents constantly attacking him with a brush. Aah!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Crochet Picot Edge and Insanity

Its been so sunny here at last that we had our first trip of the year to the beach on Sunday and ate chips on the pier. Only downside was the FREEZING WIND! Boy did that go right through us.....should have worn hat, scarf & gloves. We had fun though and DH won me some cuddly toys. Will I ever grow up? Nope ;)

My Sunday finishing day worked wonders to start with and I finally started to tackle the crochet edging on Elspeth. By Sunday evening I had done DC all the way round, and boy did that take a little while. I'd forgotten how much you need to concentrate on crochet when doing an edging and it made my eyes go all googly. No way was I even going to think about the crochet picot edging till another day. Enough was enough! I did actually try reading the instructions but that was enough to give me brain damage so I gave up. My poor brain was in need of a rest.

So the next day I reread the instructions and now they made perfect sense. I'd read all about peoples troubles with the edging and so made sure it lied flat. BUT, the problem is, we're not 2 dimensional and our bodies are definitely not flat. I won't bore you with the details but after numerous attemps with the picot edging worked over different stitches, missing stitches etc etc, I finally admitted defeat. It looked awful on and the edging was just stuck out looking oh so crap. So yes, I realised I had to right back to the beginning and redo all the DCs on fewer stitches.... so now I've frogged the edging, and thats it for the time being. I gotta have a break now before I totally lose what few marbles I have remaining!

To try and keep my sanity I also worked on Sophie, one of 2 WIPs I have from last year. You can read about all the fun and games I had with her back then here, here, and even here. But this time I was determined she would cause me no trouble, and after a couple of false starts, she was as good as gold. I made sure I marked both sides of the increases to make sure I didn't go wrong anywhere and it worked a treat. So she is knitted up and now waiting for finishing.

I had planned to start another summer top but somehow instead finally wound up my skein of Recycled Sari Silk which had hidden herself in the lounge, together with bamboo bag handles. You know, the kind of project you don't bother putting away properly as 'it will only take 5 minutes'. But of course this is never true. Oh if only. But she kind of spoke to me and a quick look at few online patterns for an idea of gauge and style I wanted, and I was off. The cast on row and following row were most offputting. Sari silk is very rigid indeed, and it was almost like knitting with wire. But after a few rows it became much easier and quite enjoyable. And so in an evening I had one side of a bag. I weighed the skein so that I could keep checking how much I had left for the other side. Don't want to end up with one short side now do we?

What had surprised me is how firm the knitted fabric is. I expected it to be much softer. I used 5mm needles, which is really about the smallest size I could get away with, and the result is fabulously firm,, which is exactly whats need for a bag. I might, just might, even get away without a lining. I won't know till she's sewn up though and it may not be worth the risk. But she sure is pretty, and heavy! This is some seriously solid yarn.

A couple of other points I noted, this stuff sheds! All over yourself, the sofa, etc etc. No way would I want to wear it myself either. Great for a bag or make up bag, but couldn't imagine wearing it. It would also be rather heavy. It also just kind of fell apart in a couple of places while knitting with it, but this is a yarn that doesn't mind a join mid row, so not a problem. Don't let this put you off, these are just my thoughts and I'm sure I will make something else with it one day. Its just not what I'd call a day-to-day yarn, if that makes any sense.

At the beginning of the week the lovely Buttercup kit arrived from Kim Hargeaves. I got another lovely email from her regarding the unusual delay which was lovely. It is nice when someone takes the time to explain and I was most impressed, though of course it was only a week. I have to admit to peeking in the kit too. Shhhh - don't tell my DH - he doesn't know! The pattern is printed really really well and I'm so glad it doesn't have a chart. I kind of realised after ordering that it was lace and sometimes you get a chart, but thankfully its written out. I just cannot read charts. Cross stitch charts yes, knitting no. Unless its intarsia. Anything really, as long as its not lace..... it all leads to even more insanity you see :)