Sunday, 29 July 2007

New! Improved!! Now with Photos!!!! (and yarn, and F.O's and MS 3 blah blah blah)

Shock horror, we have normal service again!

(Or as normal as you can get when your service provider's not sent you a bill for your broadband service for 3 months!). Hopefully, things will iron themselves out, but it doesn't give me faith in their abilitles.

Anyway, when life gives you lemons, you....
...sell them and buy yarn to knit! (or fleece to spin).

Speaking of which....

..The first two bobbins worth of Portland fleece as promised. You can't really see but one has strands of Angelina fibre mixed in at different points for a bit of glitter and they both have dyed silk tops added in so despite me not really liking the look on the skein, I know they will knit up in stripes of colour that blend into one another.

I haven't actually spun any more yarn this week, I've been busy doing this...

...The Jackety coaty thing.
I finally finished the front rib mid week then spent the following day sewing it all together.

Wacky collar eh?
On the fit front, I think it does benefit from the shaping on the sides, the rib sort of waterfalls down the front if you don't pin it in just the right place and there is the tendency to baloon a teensy bit around the bottom but overall I'm happy.

Plus, the sun has got his hat on a little more often of late so it's way too hot to wear it! Seems like the wool knitting theory is working then!

Which is why this has grown too. The wool that has been used on this jacket (Jaeger Matchmaker) is a little scratchy to knit with so I'm hoping it will soften up a bit on wearing. Hopefully when it's finished, it should look like this (you can click on the pic for a better view).

I'll be on the straight and narrow with it shortly but until the shaping etc. is out of the way, I needed a simpler project for knitting group. I had considered Monkey socks, but perhaps I'm all socked out at the moment, or maybe I just needed to dive into the stash and come up with...

...this pattern. I'd picked up the Sirdar Blur and pattern just after Christmas. I started it on Tuesday but the chevron lace was a little taxing (what with all that nattering and all); so I've got all the hard stuff out of the way and it's plain stocking stitch all the way from now on, so, perhaps I'll have a little voddie in my lime 'n' soda come Tuesday!

Okay, 'cos it's variegated, you can't actually SEE the chevrons, but hopefully once it's spread out, you'll at least see the lace holes...maybe...?

Not a problem with this project though!

The MS 3 Stole Continues apace; I've completed clue 4 this weekend, no shortening, just as it was written, and boy, has it grown!

First, the close-up.

I had to get a close up of the beads 'cos you can't see them at all on the full pics.

This is it in all it's glory. I did most of the two pages last weekend but would have felt bereft of weekend action if I hadn't reserved the last 40 rows for Friday!

It's steaming ahead now, the many rows of the same sort of thing did start to get a bit repetitive, strange 'cos I would have said I liked things to follow the same pattern, easier to remember etc. but on this one I've liked not knowing what happens next, it's added to the mystery.

Somewhat less mysterious is probably my oldest UFO, finally tracked down amongst the stash.

It's an Alice Starmore design from the Celtic Collection book (with modifications)- can't remember the name but I'll have to add it to my list on the UFO along. Still, the overall odds have to be good, I think that's four down off the list now!

The Ebay stuff went well so I'll have a nice little pot for a few refresher lessons and now the last loan payment's been made, we may be looking for a new (to us) car in the near future. We should be getting some vital pointing done on the outside of the house this coming week and Mel's promised to come down so there's fun for all the family! There'll be goodies for your perusal, Mel, hopefully it'll take your mind off the sad news (and out from under Jak's feet!) at least for a while.

There are plans afoot for a rather special holiday with he and me, so keep your fingers crossed for Tuesday!

Monday, 23 July 2007

I am still here, honest!

Sorry for the lack of pics on this one, I felt if I didn't post something soon, another whole week would flash by and as I'm unlikely to remember what happened last week by next week (hope you're still following!), I thought this would be better than nothing.

I've been a busy bee and spun both bobbins of yarn into two handsome hanks. Well, actually, not so handsome hanks, but I know that they'll knit up extremely nicely as we've been here before with the cinderella fleece (formerly known as the S**tty fleece!). I ended up going for plain old navajo again so the stripes won't be as long as anticipated BUT they're shaping up nicely all the same. I sort of spent an entire day finishing it, pushing myself way beyond tired so understandably, I'm having a wee rest from spinning right now.

I have however been tackling my UFO's, and the jackety coaty thing now has 4 1/2" of its 6" front rib done. With over 200 sts per row and the fact that you can't see the difference between knit and purl stitches in anything other than bright sunlight (which we haven't exactly had in abundance), I do feel that's something to be proud of. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, just about!

This weekend, the latest installement of MS3 has focussed my attention, this time 2 pages with around 70 rows per page ( it's 2 weeks worth). The pattern's settled somewhat so it does knit up more quickly and the fact that hubby did overtime Saturday did leave me a full day to get stuck in so we're onto the 2nd page now. it seems to be growing at a great rate of knots somehow, all of a sudden. I promise I'll post some pics when I get a moment.

Anyway, the reason why this blog is pictureless and indeed late is mostly down to the fact that Virgin, our service provider, in their great wisdom decided to terminate our broadband service on Friday afternoon. We waited the appropriate time to see if it was a fault then phoned them, got the runaround, complained and finally got a supervisor to agree to waive the charges as it was not our fault we were on a premium line, it was their screw-up.

Anyway, an hour later (11.35pm), we finally had service back again (no explanations), but it had knocked out the router etc. so the only way we could access the internet was downstairs with the laptop via a cable and no way of connecting with the other 'puters to get pics. It was only on Sunday afternoon with the help of my brother that we got everything working smoothly again (I type this with fingers crossed for, as I was typing this post, we lost internet again, but luckily for a short burst!).

Ah, the joy of the internet, you get used to it then something goes wrong!

Saturday, however, was an exciting day. I got my Ebay books thru ( I spent £138 on FOUR Alice Starmore books- when we had £200 in the account for the end of the month!); Took the dogs round the park then usual postie arrived with my pre-ordered Harry Potter- perhaps not so cheap as ASDA but saved me spending megabucks there in the process! Amongst the letters was also a bill from British Gas who have so hopelessly overcalculated our usage that we had a bill with a credit of £104 which, luckily, they automatically refunded so we don't have to live on bread and dripping after all! YAAAY!!! We also got a £15 quarterly gas bill, ditto previous comment, ditto timing.

I am, however, resisting the charms of the Potter until I have read the rest, in order. We're up to Goblet of Fire so we're halfway there! You forget all the subtle nuances that they leave out, or switch inthe films, so it's been refreshing to re-read them again.

My ebay stuff finished on Sunday evening with fantastic results, so I'm waiting for payments to trickle in and for ebay to work out why it won't let me send the second highest bidder a second chance offer (technology again!). Mama is due for a visit tomorrow so what remains after she's had her pick will probably be listed over the next fortnight or so.

I am itching to cast on for some Monkey socks to cover the transportable, not too difficult to remember, new thing category. Most of my current projects are either more complicated or large to tote so it does make sense, doesn't it? Oh yeah, and I found the zip to the Noro cardi, no excuses now eh?

Monday, 16 July 2007

Endings and Beginnings SP10, MS 3, UFO's and stuff

Wow, there are a lot of endings in this post!
Firstly, the final Jaywalker is complete!

I can FINALLY get on to something else- depending on how virtuous I feel, it could be another UFO ( See below for further news!), or one of my 3 current projects- Spinning ( no, I couldn't resist playing with the Portland, think last time- ONLY BETTER!); Eastern Jacket and Adamas Shawl.....

Watch this space...............

I can't hold it in anymore, I got my second (and final) parcel thru the post this morning!!!!!!!

There's a cute drawstring bag (did you make that yourself Charity?- it's lovely!), 2 patterns, some pretty photos - whose yarn stash is that one?

But there's more.....

....A knitting book that Charity messaged me about a week or so ago- it was on my mailing list, I'm chuffed to finally have a copy! There were 3 little dinky sachets of woolwash in different scents PLUS 2 pretty fridge magnets, one with a pic of Seattle, her hometown....

....Here it is in all it's glory, a magnificant skein of Socks that Rock in stunning- Fire on the Mountain!
But there's even more!

...This wonderful shawl which was folded within the cute bag- it's amazing that you had ANY time with moving, changing jobs and getting ill to knit any of this! It's a lovely mix of greens, browns and greys and it feels nice too!

The front points can be flung over opposite shoulders, short poncho style, or left to drape down the front as in the pic- you'll notice Trouble had to get in on the act!!! (Hint, bottom leftish-his nose!)

...And this was the second fridge magnet, I LOVE the sentiment, I'm the most untogether person out there!

So this, for me marks the real finish of SP10. Thanks, Charity for all your hard work, I hope you had fun too! You'll have to post what you recieved, I don't think I've seen anything yet?

Two, actually, It may have taken me 5 hours to sew in a zip by hand ( and leave me with a blister!), but another project ticked off the list.

Whether it actually does anything for me fashion wise is another issue, but, hey, it's Colinette, it must have cost me £30-£40 from the bargain bins to create so it's damn well going to get some wear!

The second was finding, then frogging the front of the hideous fluffy thing which will at some future date be transformed into a less cabley, more streamlined sweater.

MS 3 Clue 3
I sort of got seduced by the fleece over the weekend, so it took until today to complete the last 25 rows. I am still in there, still enjoying myself and will no doubt be in withdrawal this weekend when there will be no clue 'cos of Harry Potter Book launch.

It's growing, isn't it?

Still not sure how long it will end up, it's meant to be 77", but whether my tension is anything like, who knows?

I've been looking at the designer's blog/site, and I have to say, I LOVE her shawls/stoles!

I may have to purchase one or two next month, to continue with once MS3 is over, we shall see!

I have been following another fellow blogger of late with particular interest as she is a designer who blogs about the processes of designing and then sells you the patterns when it's all finished and written up. WELL, I have been seduced by her BEE FIELDS SHAWL!

I've waited a short while for it to become available as a pattern and now I've got my greedy mitts on it!

Do you see a certain lace element taking over?

Talking of all things Potter (yes, I've pre-ordered!) I've been watching the films in order and racing thru the books in order to fully re-acquaint myself with all the little bits. I appear to have developed a fascination with the Knitwear! Not exactly unusual, himself usually raises eyes heavenwards as I scan programmes for suitable candidates, but I've got a bee in my bonnet about Molly Weasley's outfits in Chamber of Secrets. The first, the Housecoat which a version of is in Charmed Knits - but I want to tweak it to make it MORE like the original- even though what I know about crochet, I could write on the back of a postage stamp!

The second is far more complicated, it's the lacy/cutout sweater she wears during the floo powder incident and later at Diagon alley. It's impossible, so, I want it.....

...I mean, I've drawn little diagrams on the back of the nearest envelope (also a common occurrence), it's sort of boucle shapes roughly resembling horseshoes held together with bars of thread. I mean, it could be devore, some cutout fabric, I really need to get it out of my system fast 'cos I know it'd drive me nuts- BUT...if I could make something that was IN THE SPIRIT, a little more user friendly?

Thursday, 12 July 2007

A Lovely Surprise!! SP10 stuff

I must admit to feeling a wee bit sorry for myself of late, the throat thing has been getting me down, especially the idea that I have to wait 3-4 weeks for it to go away/go back for tests to see if it's anything more sinister.

So it was a lovely surprise to find a jam-packed yellow mailing bag on my doorstep when I returned, somewhat wearily from a friends house.

This was what I found inside...

....peeking out at the back there is a lovely handknitted cotton washcloth in springlike greens. yellows and blues, the whole package was wrapped in the green tissue you can see at the back and tied with the lovely cord you see at the front.

Romelda had warned me she was sending me a birthday present and told me it was a cloth BUT she didn't tell me about the other goodies she sneaked in! She'd bought me EZ's Knitter's Alamnac AND Knitting Workshop ( which costs an arm and a leg IF you can get it over here!), PLUS she'd sent me the cutest card I've seen in ages!

Romy, you have spoiled me rotten and I thank you, you've made my day! (But you are a VERY naughty girl!!!!!). Just you watch out, there'll be something in the post back at'cha given time!

I've met some amazing people thru SP10, and I feel honoured to have taken part, I know I've put my heart and soul into those packages I sent out and I know others have too. SP11 is now signing up, ready for matches in August and the round proper starts again in September. Plenty of time to knit warm wooly things that'll actually be useful! I hope I get to make new friends next round too!

Thanks too to Mel for checking on my wellbeing today- she keeps in touch to check I'm alive! She's got a few bargains from her LYS but I'm not jealous! I've found a source of HALF PRICE Debbie Bliss PURE SILK!!!!!!

Monday, 9 July 2007

A Trip around the World in one Day!

Hubbie has been off today, having a break from some pretty intense work stuff (which he'd put off for long enough!). In typical fashion, I've picked up, at best guess, a virus (so the doc says) which has left me with a lump in my throat- literally, and the energy of a snail.

So, instead of decorating the bathroom, we took a little time out for a trip 'round the world...

...There's the Roman Boathouse.....

...The Swiss Bridge....

...The Lake that, no matter what angle you are at, you can't see from one end to the other.

We omitted the Swiss Alps (Giant Rockery) , there was just too much to photograph.

So, where were we?

Birkenhead Park...yup, amongst the heart of a very busy town, there's a whole heap of peace and quiet, and plenty of wildlife too...

...Okay, I DID have to crop the photo a bit, but the squirrels were pretty tame (and fat!), I reckon they get fed plenty by passers by.

Itwas a lovely, peaceful couple of hours, we explored both halves of the park, the more cultivated North end and the more natural South end, with another big lake, full of Canada Geese.

Built in 1847, Birkenhead Park was the first of its kind and Central Park by all accounts is modelled on it. It's amazing what's so close to your doorstep, I'm sure in the past it'd been left to rack and ruin, but it's so pretty now, with renovation still going on, the most recent aspect, planting all around the shorelines which will make things even prettier in time to come.

So, it's back home, to check the e-mails ( and collapse in a little puddle), and there's a lovely one from Mel, who waded thru mud on Sunday at the St Helen's Show, brave soul! And another from my SP Charity who's sent me a lovely pattern from Blue Moon Fibre Arts and there's promise of the 2nd package being posted soon! Can't wait!

Some genuine new doggie pics, Biscuit and Floppy concerned for my wellbeing?

Naah, they're after food and Walkies, of course!

Sunday, 8 July 2007

I've been Dye(ing) to show you this one! MS3 update and Woolfest Goodies!

As promised, the full colour pallette of the latest dyefest extravaganza!

From the top, there's Navy (same sort of patchiness as last time, must need shedloads of dye for an even result!); Turquoise, Plain old fleece (as it's not discoloured).

Middle row has pale Bottle green, Emerald green and a Khaki? sort of shade that happens when you mix brown and yellow that's not terribly colourfast.

Bottom row has a Red that looks Pinky, Blue and strong Bottle green ( I chucked half the pot in!)

You can see why I'm not so enamoured by the laceweight at the mo., can't you?
It's begging to be spun, particularly now it's all dry and taking up a whole chair!

The 5th Jaywalker kind of went walkabout but luckily came home again in time for the weekend. It's all done bar the grafting, so now there's only one more to go!

I've been asked what modifications I made, basically there are sixty somethng stitches on the needle rather than the original 76. The pattern has been altered by having a 6 stitch gap in between increases and decreases, rather then the pattern's 7 and using 2.5mm needles with loose tension rather than the advised 2.25mm.

The throw has grown too, but just a bit.

Maybe by next post, you'll see the difference more.
I finished Clue 2!

I am so loving knitting this pattern, there were only 50 rows this time, I nearly thought I'd complete them on Friday night, but when, at 11.30pm I noticed a couple of errors four rows back, I knew it was time to call it a night.

I was busy the following day with a needlefelting course, see the fruits of my labours below.

However, as soon as I got home, it was straight to the needles and on the home straight. I finished around 7.30pm, and I have to say, it was definitely easier than last week.

I think I must be getting into the stride now, the beading's becoming more natural, I have a great setup with the laptop- I don't use a printed pattern, just enlarge the pdf 'till it's big enough for me to see comfortably and count as I go. Far less mistakes to correct this time too!

These are my needlefelted pieces from the day, it was really lucky that Mel had time off post Woolfest, so she came too and we had a really girly day out! Mel, you have to post a pic of your psychedelic cat! The poppy's not quite finished yet, so you'll be able to see it completed sometime!

In other knitting news..

...This is the first pics of the eastern jacket I mentioned last Monday. My theory being, that knitting warm wool in bad weather would encourage good weather (which it is uncomfortable to knit warm things in!). Well, in the week since I began, there HAS been rain, BUT I actually have had far less wet feet 'cos there's been a whole heap of not wet weather too!

Here's the cable close up, I'm really loving knitting it, even if it does grow more slowly than a lot of recent projects.


It's currently fingers crossed that the (multiple) meeces have found a new home thanks to this little gadget. Hub has cleared up the mass of mouse poo around the microwave area ( I know, Lovely, isn't it?) and so far, fingers crossed, there's no more appeared.
Long may it continue.


My eternal gratitude goes out to Mel who, armed with a shopping list and some pennies, did boldly go forth unto the event that was Woolfest, and, verily, didst bring me prezzies...

500g of young goat mohair from Crookabeck? Angoras. The tips looked well mucky (as mohair often is), so it got a dunking today. The worst of the muck, unfortunately appears to be a heavily veged fleece (serves me right for not picking before!), so there'll be some heavy picking once it's dry.

She also got me some luscious merino silk from Wingham's stand as well as the 72" niddy noddy I'd asked for- the only one in the whole show! That green mix reminds me of Kermit the frog and the right hand front purple is really vibrant in the flesh.

They'll go perfectly with these...

..colours I picked up from Winghams a while back. Not totally sure what it'll be yet, aside from wearable, it can stay on the inspiration pile for now.

There's still a hoofing fleece to come, but she also got me these as a birthday pressie!

There's a threading hook in wood with a 1" and 1/2" WPI tool attached (never lose it again!); a cute sheepie keyring and a fabbo gingerbread sheep ( which by the way was delicious- It got eaten as soon as I got a piccie!). Mel, you are a real sweetie!

The Adamas shawl is looming again, now, thanks to the kindness of my knitting group, I have plenty of stitch markers!

On the top are Donna's Sheep and dangle beaded things, Lyndsey from group whipped up the lilac flower and heart markers on the top row, made a pile of others for samples then gave me them all!

The bottom row was given to me by another of the members, Jean, and I was given another free pack of stitch markers from Simply knitting a few months back so now, I'm ready to go...

...apart from the fact that I've lost the run of the pattern...D'oh!

I'll have to trawl the computer and see if I can find the pattern- it appears in a fit of zeal, I accidentally deleted Charity's e-mail with the original attachments. Double D'oh!
Biscuit despairs of me!

Monday, 2 July 2007

Part Knitter, Part Duck!

Living where we are, we've mostly avoided the worst of the British weather, being somewhat higher up from the Mersey and therefore extremely unlikely to be flooded out of house and home ( though the water pressure's diabolical!). My heart goes out to those poor Yorkshire souls who have been driven from their homes for probably countless weeks by rising and sometimes contaminated floodwaters.

I am however mildly teed off that I end up with wet feet EVERY DAY! Having out of necessity to go around the park at least every morning (the poochies can only cross their legs so long!) and also not having the sort of feet that will comfortably fit into the average wellie or otherwise waterproof footwear, I am beginning to feel like a duck!

I am sure if this continues I will be developing webbed feet! Despite the rain having stopped by the time I went out this morning, I STILL have soaked feet because of the rivers of water flowing down the footpaths, seeking out any low point. The lake had long since overflowed and was taking up most of the path around its edge and I could only watch as more and more water poured in. Typically, I had no camera so you''ll have to use your imagination!

The wool socks have however come in useful round the house whilst waiting for the training shoes to dry out. On that subject, the third pair of Jaywalkers continues to grow, using the 2.5mm needles with the modified pattern certainly takes less time which is a godsend by pair three!

In order to keep my sanity, I have actually cast on for a new project! In the theory that, when you take an umberella, it won't rain, I am knitting the Eastern Style Jacket from Wendy Mode in Jaeger Matchmaker pure Merino. I live in hope of blisteringly hot weather which will make knitting it uncomfortable! Fingers crossed!

Pic to follow

Ah well, knitting group tomorrow, the first Smoke free session ever! Bliss!

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Wow, what a busy day! Even busier week!
So what have I been up to?...

...On Monday I wound ( and wound and wound) the LONGEST SKEIN EVER- I tied it in 1 metre lengths and there were 17 ties so I guess it was pretty long- before shrinkage. The yarn was a 50/50 Cheviot and Alpaca 4 ply in a light grey to start off with. All the "to be dyed " stuff went in vinegar water overnight.

So, Tuesday was dye day.Above is the skein after dyeing, it's all one long length wound back and forth to dry! I did a little "splodge" dyeing of some commercial 80% Wool DK, that's what's drying at the back. The Alpaca looked really mean and moody because it was wet ( the flash kinda cancelled that bit out) but that paled as it dried.

As it dried well, Wednesday involved lots of re-winding, first onto the ball winder and then into useable skeins. Of course, I forgot all about this and was later complaining how my arms ached!

Anyway, here's the finished skeins, all 185g. Interestingly, I found another skein I dyed a while back in almost exactly the same combination of colours! however, as each colour is a metre strip, it should stripe up well. I've roughly the same amount of yarn again left on the cone so I've still to decide whether to repeat the procedure all over again or do something different! Watch this space!

On Wednesday, I joined up to MS3 so by Thursday, I decided I really needed to pull my finger out and get the sample square done.

It's actually a humble 20% Mohair, 80% Acrylic but it was the right thickness and the right colour and, above all, it looks pretty. I did try a pure Alpaca 4 ply ( to keep up with the fibre snobs) but it looked hideous and, surprisingly I either didn't have enough or had the wrong sort of colour or thickness despite having a stash the size of a small country so it also saved me from buying any more!

For those that don't know, MS3 ( Mystery Stole 3) runs for 7 weeks, the first clue (first 100 rows) were posted on Friday ( afternoon here) and I completed it around 1pm Sunday. Sign ups close at the end of this week ( I think) so there's still time to join if you wish.

Pretty, n'est ce pas? I love the celtic cables round the outside and whilst I will admit to an odd grey hair or two ( concentration's the key). I mostly found it enjoyable, particularly adding the beads without stringing them on the yarn first (though you can't see them in the pics!).

So, what else have I been up to? Well, I started the 2nd pair of Jaywalkers last Friday...

...However, this 'aint them! The sock fairies have been kind and pair 2 was knitted up in every spare moment and finally finished Friday.

Just to prove I've not just done another closer pic of my original socks!

Pair 2 have made it to their new home and I've actually cast on for pair 3! I'm cheating a wee bit here, though, using 2.5mm needles rather than 2.25mm and a little jiggery pokery with the stitch count so they don't look too wide. The flip side is pair 3 is knitting up even faster than before ( which is necessary with so much else on the go!).

Also, through the week, I have been washing fleece ( the second half got washed today) and dunking in the dyepot. It's a lovely creamy Portland fleece and mostly very soft with very little rubbish in it ( which has been nice). So far today, we have a pot of Navy and Blue to add to the Turquoise and Red of Yesterday and the pale bottle green of Friday. I'm debating as I go as to whether to limit the colours to a palette or just pick up whatever dyejar is to hand, I guess I will find out when there's no more fleece left to dye!

The more regular readers will perhaps enquire as to the 5 bag challenge? You know, spinning, reducing fleece etc?

Shall we say crashed and burned?

Truth is, I haven't touched either wheel since I posted and with newly dyed fleece calling, it's doubtful whether I'll continue on the lace route. I will try to devote an hour to it later in a make or break (pardon the pun!) situation to see whether I can stick to it for a wee bit longer. Or not.

I've also joined a UFO-along. I have so many NFO's, I need a boot up the backside to finish them so just maybe this'll do the trick. I plan to root them all out this week so I can make an honest list of them all then perhaps a frogathon to reduce some back to stash.

I also have cravings to knit something EXPENSIVE. I'm surrounded by gorgeous, premium quality wool yet stuck knitting socks ( which I had to BUY wool for) and lace stuff. I may just have to cast on ONE MORE THING just so I feel like I'm making a dent in it all ( however slight!)

Floppy doesn't really care so long as he gets fuss once in a while!