Friday, April 27, 2007

Blossom, in print, Mint Royale

3 BTs

1. Around the corner from my house there is a tree with the most lovely blossom. Every year I wait for it to come out, and it is currently in full bloom. It is my favourite tree of the neighbourhood.

2. Seeing my name in print in Simply Knitting magazine.

3. Driving to work with Blue Song by Mint Royale on the CD. Check out the YouTube video in my "Have a Look" section on the left.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Yarn Forward

Just wondering if anyone who subscribes to this mag has had their Issue 2 yet? I'm still waiting for mine.

Fame, bag & jimjams.

Well, this morning I took the morning off so I could go into town and do my Excel exam, and afterwards go to WH Smith to get my copy of Simply Knitting (none of my local shops stock it). I went into the learndirect centre and took the exam, and passed with 83%. So on to databases next.

I then went to Smith's and got my mag. I popped upstairs to Costa and got a cappucino and sat to check out the mag. Well, Stash sent off a couple of sets of my markers to Simply Knitting and it seems they picked the non-sheep version to feature!!! These..............

I suppose it is still 15 minutes of fame, and hopefully the sheep will be in the next issue with the bigger feature of Stash as "shop of the month". Of course I had made loads of sheep for them and none of these, so I had to go and get supplies to make more of these. They are a much quicker make though, so they can have them on Saturday. I delivered some coloured sheep in to Stash anyway and while I was there I got this.........

to make a felted bag for M (see link on the left in WIPs and Plans). It's not her birthday until July but if I get it done now, it is out of the way. She will be 6 and LOVES pink. This is called Splash Aran and has coloured flecks in it. They had a felted bag made with it in the shop and it looks lovely.

On the way to the bus stop I popped into the market and had a rummage in their bargain bin, and picked up a few balls of this for £1 each...............

I thought it might do for the pyjamas?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ooooooh, aaahhhhh!!

The postie redeemed himself this morning, he brought me this..............

Posh Yarn Eva 4 ply cashmere/silk in Dapple. I can't describe how soft & silky it is. I want to carry it around in my pocket so I can keep putting my hands in and feeling it!!! Ooooo. This is my first Posh Yarn purchase, but I get the feeling it won't be my last.

I wrote a letter to Burton Manor this morning to let them know I was disappointed with the course on Sunday. Seems Chris has done the same thing so they ought to take notice.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Missing Postman

My postman has gone awol!! He didn't come today and I have got stuff on its way that I WANT!!! When Colin worked from home, we had loads of post every day, but now he has moved to the offices, his post all goes there so some days, like today, we don't get any.

Apologies for my rant yesterday, but I had to let it out, hee hee.

I am having a day off today and catching up on much neglected things I need to do. This morning I have been sheeping, for Wendy and Chris. Chris also wanted four of "anything else" so I have rustled up these for her. Hope they are okay.

This is the batch I took into Stash on Saturday, need to do a coloured batch next.

And this is the bamboo tape that I swapped with Wendy on Sunday. I think I came off with a pretty good deal there, they are £4.75 a ball in Stash and there's 4 and a bit there.

Then I need to make a birthday card for a friend, do some Excel revision and then tackle the ironing pile while catching up on the things I've recorded on telly and haven't watched yet. Oooo, busy, busy, busy bee!!!

I've added a link to my flickr page where I've put all my finished projects. I'll add to it as I get more things finished.

Monday, April 23, 2007

My day at the Manor

(Sorry, bit long.......)

Yesterday I went off to Burton Manor on the Wirral for a day course called "Designer Fashion Hand Knitting". Ok, so they got 2 out of 4 words of the description correct - hand & knitting - good effort.

Here is the description from the brochure:
"For experienced knitters looking at how to transfer a design idea into knitted reality. Using fashion photographs or your own sketched ideas, we examine adaptations for size and shape, and wool and needle size calculations. After experimenting with different wools, colours and textures you will be able to write up knitting instructions for your own individual garment/s. The emphasis will be on sharing ideas."

What would you expect from that description? I took it to be learning how to design a garment to fit with shaping and fitting, and working out sizing from gauge, stuff like that. It seems most of the others in the group thought similarly. Here's how it went:

There were 8 of us in the group and we all sat in a semicircle with our bags of yarn and needles that we'd been told to bring. The first alarm bells regarding the word "fashion" should have sounded when the teacher arrived wearing what I can only describe as a man's jumper. Mid-thigh length, straight up and down with a huge rib gathered around the bottom and cuffs, in brown horizontal stripes, crew neck, probably an aran weight. This was paired with a pair of Simon Cowell waistline (ie belted under the armpits) polyester navy "slacks" and very sensible shoes. I don't want to be critical, she was a lady of a certain age and we'll all get there at some point, but NOTHING about her screamed "fashion". Moving on..................

Our first task was to knit a swatch - what she called a template. But not a plain swatch. She showed us an example of a "fashionable jumper" with intarsia clouds all over it. and we had to draw a cloud on graph paper and transfer that to our swatch. We all duly did this, and went off for a tea break. When we got back, there was no mention of what to do with the swatch but we then had to move on to something more "advanced" - a swatch with a leaf on it. A few looks passed around the group. Some people did it, I did a leaf in relief in one colour and the girl next to me just did her own thing. The next advanced step was to do another swatch with a flower. At this point there were mutterings, people including myself saying it wasn't really the kind of thing we would knit. One lady had arrived wearing a lovely intarsia cardigan that she had made and obviously didn't need to be doing swatches at all. Another lady hadn't actually knit in more than one colour before so the teacher spent some individual time with her while the rest of us got chatting.

Lunch was lovely. Roast pork or beef, roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy, following by some gorgeous puddings which I won't even start to describe. I had a little bit of fruit salad. I got chatting to the lady with the intarsia cardigan, Wendy, who was very nice, and I told her about my sheep. When we got back to class she asked to see them and then another classmate Christina, had a look, and I ended up with orders from them. As it was, Wendy had some Rowan bamboo tape that she decided wasn't her colour so we did a swap, yarn for sheep.

Well, the afternoon session started with where to find ideas. The teacher showed us some photos of "fashions" which could be adapted, most from magazines she had obviously had since the 70s in some dusty attic room. And some examples of - what can I call them? Pub carpets!! At this point 2 people left, saying that it was not what they thought they were coming for. While the teacher spent some time giving a bit of individual tuition again, the rest of us were chatting again, and it turned out that Christina and I had read a lot of the same books, visited a lot of the same websites, and she also writes a blog. We are also about the same age. Some of the ladies had never used circular needles, knit on the round or made socks so the 2 of us ended up showing them how to do new things. I said to her "you could run a course like this, but much better," and she said "WE could do this, but much better".

The icing on the cake for me, was when a lady was talking about getting the lengths of sleeves right. She asked the teacher if you could knit from the top down instead and she said - wait for it - NO! She said, if you had done all your calculations using your swatch/template, you should get a perfectly sized garment and what would be the point of wanting to knit the other way? I am usually quite shy, and don't speak up for myself but I couldn't help myself. I spoke up!! I said, "actually I have just knit a top-down sweater and its the best fitting sweater I have." I brandished my copy of "Fitted Knits" and told them every jumper in the book was top down. There was no way I was going to let that lady go home thinking that the only way to knit a jumper was in 4 pieces from the bottom up.

Actually I think between the two of us, Christina and I managed to p*** the teacher off with our far superior knowledge. Hee hee. Anyway, it was good to spend the day with other knitters and Christina and I exchanged blog addresses and will hopefully be in touch. I was polite when I left and thanked the teacher for her time, but said what I thought on the feedback sheet. And that was my day out at the Manor.

Last night I finally succumbed to the lure of the Posh Yarn sale, and have ordered 2 skeins of Eva 4ply, cashmere/silk in Dapple. Can't wait to get it. There are a few skeins of things left if you are quick!

It looks like Yarn Forward magazine issue 2 is finally on its way. Looking forward to that. I'm not sure what is happening on the forum side of things at the moment but can't say too much.

Oh, and it is my Wedding anniversary today, 13 years, unlucky for some, but not us!!!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Alpaca socks finished

Here are the finished Natural Dye Studio alpaca/silk toe-up socks. Just before I finished the second one I tried the first one on and found that I had cast off too tightly and it wouldn't go over my heel. So I did 2 less rib rows on the 2nd sock and then frogged back the first sock and re-did the rib cos I couldn't work out how to frog and pick up rib stitches. So I did 2 less rows again so I would have enough ysrn to cast off loosely. And it worked so they are both fine now. I'm really pleased with the gussett and heel, I usually get holes if I do them top down.

I only have 3 projects on the needles now, better cast on something quick!!

I agreed to be an administrator for the SKD forum but things are changing anyway so I'm not sure what the state of play is at the moment.

Countdown - 6 days to sheep in Simply Knitting!!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Happy Birthday!

I didn't post yesterday, but it was Colin's birthday, so.......

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Forums, jammies & Castaway

I have a decision to make. Bruce from Scandinavian Knitting Design (the UK distributors for garnstudio) has asked me if I would like to be an administrator for their forum. I am thinking about it. I don't really have a clue what an administrator does! But they need help, and he has said I could do it for a month or 2 and see how it goes. Typical that now I am back at work, things are happening that I need time for!!

I have got a batch of sheep ready for Stash. Some pink/white and black/white ones for now. And the order for the USA is ready and on its way. It will be interesting to see how many are sold after the magazine comes out.

I have an idea for a design I would like to try, so I will take it with me on Sunday (albeit in my head!). I was lying in bed and thought that it was the time of the year to put away my winter pyjamas. But I need some lighter ones so I thought about knitting a little set with vest top and shorts. I will need a light yarn which will also be cool. I don't know a lot about the different types of yarn, but am guessing a cotton or linen type yarn might work?

I just turned the heel on my second toe-up silk/alpaca sock so its on up the leg to the end now. I hadn't done much on these for a while but got to a fiddly concentration bit on the FLIC and left that for a bit. I probably won't need these socks until next winter now, but then I'll have a nice new pair ready for me when the weather turns again. Work continues on the grey ones.

I have been dipping in and out of Castaway on BBC1, not knowing whether to watch it or not. On Sunday I did watch it and found it very uncomfortable. In the previous episode which I hadn't seen, 2 of the castaways had been sent off on a mission and something had happened between them, causing them to fall out. When they got back, Jonathan was completely ostracized(sp?) and they all turned on him like a pack of savages, to the extent that they decided to throw him out of the main hut and make him live in a tiny hut which let in all the rain, and not give him any food. Ok, so maybe he didn't pull his weight but I think the "punishment" was rather extreme. I remember celebrity Big Brother when this type of bullying was going on, and it became an international racisism issue. The castaway incident has not even been mentioned anywhere as bullying. Yes, Jonathan does seem to be a confrontational character but come on.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Magazine & buttons

An update on the sheep stitch markers.......... they are going to be featured in Simply Knitting Magazine this month (May issue) which comes out on about the 27th April. That gives me an extra weeks grace to get them done! The following issue, (June issue) has Stash as its Shop of the Month, and Helen the owner has to do a piece for it called "Fun for a fiver". She has chosen the sheep again to be featured in that list. I popped in today to get an idea how many they wanted and they said as many as you can do, so I'm going to do 10 of each to get them started and then keep topping up as and when.

These are some buttons I got from ebay this morning to go on my Fab Lace Cardi. I'm not entirely sure they go but I will use them and see what they are like when they are on it - when it is finished. (BTW, T, I am not a fast knitter by any stretch of the imagination but this cardi knits up really quickly on 8mm needles. You could almost do a front in a sitting if you put your mind to it.)

Nina, I'm not sure about the shape of the toes being rounder by going toe-up on a sock. I wouldn't have thought it would make a difference? I'm doing them this way because I'm not sure how far the yarn will go and don't want to run out before I get to the toe!

Next Sunday I am going on a day course called 'Designer Fashion Hand Knitting' at the little arty college on the Wirral. Its all about adjusting patterns to fit, working out measurements and yarn quantities and creating your own designs. Should be interesting. I have to take a selection of needles and yarn, a work in progress, any patterns I have that I may want to adapt and any design ideas. Well I don't have any ideas, I usually just follow a pattern but I'd love to be able to design something and hopefully by the end of the day I'll have some idea how. I'm not sure which yarn to take. I guess a selection of weights, but how many of each? I'm just going to take all my circs in their folder and leave the straights at home. They should do.

I have decided on a pattern for a present for someone for Christmas. I won't show it because the person reads this!! I may even make two, for two people. I have to choose the yarn yet though.

Well, I guess the sheep won't make themselves, so off to the farmyard I go..........hi ho hi ho!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

FLIC in progress

Here are some pictures of my Fabulous Lace Inset Cardigan in progress. I have finished the back and one front and now my Addis are here I have started on the 2nd front.

This is the detail of the lace panel on the front. The colour in this picture matches the actual colour best.
This is the toe up sock for the mystery recipient. I had got up past the heel but I didn't like the heel and so I ripped the whole thing out and started again. That was a practice run anyway, I learnt a few things by doing it so it should be right this time.

On Monday morning we wandered up to the outlet village, which of course includes Borders. Because I left empty handed last time, and because I had a 20% off voucher, I bought this.....
and these ingenious little bookmarks which clip on the side of the page so you know which line you finished on in your book. Perfect for knitting patterns, especially the FLIC cos you have to follow the main instructions and the lace panel at the same time.

The finale of Life on Mars last night was very good, but I'm still a bit unsure as to what was real and what wasn't!! If the past was real, how did he know stuff about the future, and if the future was real, then what he did at the end would have meant he couldn't have survived in the past after he did it!! Hmm, now you people who didn't watch it are wondering what the hell I'm talking about, ha ha ha!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I found these cartoons through a link on Clare's 3 Beautiful Things. They are wonderfully drawn and very thought provoking as well as entertaining.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Apes, food, sheep & socks

Happy Easter!!!

First of all I have an appeal to make. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching OrangUtan diary this week on BBC1. They have been my absolute favourite animals for years, the expressions on their faces........ Anyway, if you have also enjoyed it, the sad news is that since they filmed the series the centre has run out of funding and they desperately need money to keep the place open. So please make a donation to save these beautiful animals.

Thank you.

Onto other things............

This weekend is turning out to be pretty busy.

On Friday afternoon we went to visit baby Robert and his proud mum and dad. It was a lovely day so we went for a short walk to the nearby mere to see the ducks and geese, not that he was aware of any of it, but it was nice for us!! Sheldon was duly delivered to his new owner.

On Saturday morning we went to the Chester Food & Drink Festival. This is an annual event and we have been for the last 3 years. It is held in a marquee at Chester Castle and lots of local producers come and have a stall to show off their wares. And there are lots of tasting opportunities!! Yum. The cookery demonstration was by Simon Rimmer from Something for the Weekend so we watched him making cheese and potato cakes, salmon with chorizo and new potatoes, and a cheesecake which was basically a heart attack on a plate. It was made with 600g mascarponi cheese, 600g soft cheese, 6 eggs, who knows how much sugar - all to make ONE cheesecake!!

One of the stands sells pork products and at lunchtime they sell rolls with either bacon or saugage fillings, or the speciality is the Hog Roast. They set up a whole pig on a spit roast at 4am and it is ready for 12.30. Then they carve it and stuff it into baps with apple sauce and stuffing. Absolutely delicious!!!

Today I have been making sheep. But because I had put off making some for a lady in the USA, I have done hers and only have 16 extra for the shop so far. But the good thing is, once I stop procrastinating and get on with them I am getting quicker, and if I do a small number at a time it isn't so bad. Little and often is obviously the key. It is also difficult to know how many to make for the shop as we don't know what the demand will be. Depending which magazine it is going in, the publication date is either 19th April or 29th April, so at least a couple of weeks to build up the stocks. In total I have made 40 this weekend.

And I couldn't resisit having a go at these while I was at it.......

The mouths are a bit odd, I drew them on in pen before they were cooked and it may have been better to do it afterwards. Ah well, they are only for my amusement!!

And then earlier on our neighbour phoned and asked us round for tea tomorrow afternoon. It is Paul's birthday tomorrow and then Colin's 9 days later so we are getting together to celebrate both. She mentioned steak and chips which sounds fab!

On the knitting front, I am still on the Fab Lace cardi - the back and one front are finished but I am going to wait for my Addis before I carry on as they may be lighter on my hands, and I have been having problems with my left thumb. In the meantime I got this from garnstudio

and have started making a pair of toe-up socks for a mystery recepient with the Karisma. I am doing them toe-up because I'm not sure how far the yarn will go. It is fiddly though cos I'm trying to work from 3 methods at once because I have a different number of stitches to any of them. Huh, just to make life difficult!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

15 minutes of fame!!!

Ooooh, I'm sooo excited!!!................

I have just been into town because it is Farmer's Market day and we always go and get our fish from Paul the fishman. Colin gave me the afternoon off because he had to go to see a client and couldn't get into town. So I decided to have a mooch around while I was there. Of course that meant going to the various yarn outlets. Not having any success at the usual market or the Arts and Crafts shop I decided to go into the "posh yarn shop" to get some Addis for the Thuja socks. So, Steve the owner served me and then said, "Can you get ready to make some more sheep stitch markers?" I explained that I was now working and didn't really have the time, but then he said "Only they are going to be featured in either Knitting or Simply Knitting magazine and we may get a bit of interest." Yikes. So I said, "Well I'd better make the time then, how exciting!" He can't remember which of the 2 magazines it is but he thinks it is in the next issue of whichever one it is. And it will give my name as the person who makes them for the shop!

Well, I guess I know what I'll be doing over Easter weekend then! I wasn't going to do any more because I got a bit fed up with them being so fiddly, but being featured in a national magazine makes all the difference.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Knit club & socks

So yesterday afternoon was knitting group. The venue has changed to a much nicer pub and probably about the same distance for me. I could walk it but I'm a bit lazy. The staff were very friendly and accommodating, and had reserved us 3 tables near the doors out into the garden. As it turned out we only needed a small area this time as there were only 6 of us. This was nice though because it meant we all got to speak to each other easily. Usually there are about 10-12 or more and if you are at one end you don't get to speak to the people at the other end. I was the youngest there, probably by at least 15 years but its great because everyone else has so much experience to share. I got a bit lost when some of them were talking about lace making (not lace knitting, but actual lace making with bobbins etc) because I've never tried it and to be honest I don't have any interest in it.

I took along a skein of the Lamb's Pride and the 8mm needles to do a gauge swatch for the Lace Inset. It didn't take long so I couldn't resist making a start. I got a few rows above the garter stitch waist detail and then did the rest last night at home.

I think it is going to be a bit snug (my tension was a bit off) and from reading a couple of other blogs I found, it turns out somewhat cropped. I'll finish the back as it grows so quickly, and see what it is like held up to me. The colour is Lipstick Red.

Thanks for your comments about Sheldon. On there is a link to the designer's blog and then she has a link to the Sheldon Flickr gallery. So I sent her a picture of my Sheldon and she has added him to the gallery. There are some great ones on there in a variety of colours.

Now, the other day I discovered a terrible thing had happened to one of my handknitted socks.........

These are a pair of my favourites made with Natural Dye Studio merino sock yarn. What do I do? How do you darn socks? I've never done it before. It is a short-row heel if that makes any difference.

I am going to add a pair of Thuja Socks to my "to do " list. I'm not going to say who they are for, but obviously it is a pattern for men's socks so that narrows it down a bit. I just have to find a substitute yarn, so if anyone has any suggestions for a 100% wool (or near enough) DK weight yarn good for socks then leave me a comment.

I have taken the Drops cardigan off of my "to do " list as i have decided I may use the cotton yarn to make Ariel by Ysolda Teague instead.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Another FO!!

3 finished objects in 3 days!!

Here is my scarf all done and dusted, looks like it'll be the sock for knitting club then!

Sunday, April 01, 2007


(Spoiler alert for Iain & Helen - do not look further down if you don't want to see the finished Sheldon!!)

Thank you sooooo much for all your compliments on the SKB. The details are as follows:
Pattern : Simple Knitted Bodice by Stitchdiva
Yarn: 10 balls (2200 yards) of fingering weight 100% wool from ebay seller jojosquare using two strands knitted together. Adding in a strand of garnstudio Glitter thread for lace panels.
Needles: Addi circs - 5mm 60cm, 3.25mm 60cm, DPNs - 5mm and 3.25mm.
Size: The 2nd size up, I think it is size S.

It didn't take me long at all to finish Sheldon in the end. I had to make another shell attachment panel as the first one was too small and his body wouldn't fit into his shell! So I made it on bigger needles this time. Then I sewed it to the shell - I couldn't manage the icord, too fiddly, so I just sewed it together with backstitch, stuffed and sewed on the legs and finally embroidered on some eyes. (I say "embroider" in the loose sense, I just sewed black wool on, back and forth a couple of times until they looked vaguely round-ish!). And then he was done!! He was made with some Natural Dye Studio sock yarn that I had left over, but I think if I make another I would use DK, it would just be less fiddly to knit him a bit bigger. He's not perfect but quite cute. And BTW, all his legs are the same length, they just don't look it in the 2nd picture. (I'll put the pics at the bottom of this post in case Iain & Helen don't want to see him yet. The temptation would be too great for me I'm afraid ;o) )

So tomorrow afternoon is knitting group. My "boss" has kindly allowed me the afternoon off to go. I can't decide what to take to work on. Of course I will take the SKB and Sheldon to show off. But do I take a sock, my Fabel scarf, the cardigan I took 2 months ago and haven't touched since, or do I make a start on the Lace Inset on straight plastic needles and transfer it when the Addis finally arrive? Hmmm, decisions, decisions.

Last night, Colin noticed I had added a couple more photos of Noel Fielding to my sidebar, and said "This obsession with Noel Fielding is getting a bit stronger isn't it?" Hmmm, you may think that, but I couldn't possibly comment!!!!