Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Is it Just me or...

...Am I becoming lace obsessed?

I'm sitting here with half a bottle of a good red inside trying to work out the next installement of the mystic waters stole...not a good mix! I'm up to row 149 which is good but once again I can't figure out what's going on in the middle so perhaps it's best left to the morrow.

I would show you where I'm up to but a) the camera cable's upstairs; b) the lighting's appalling down here and c) I've just consumed half a bottle of a good red!

So you'll just have to make do with a recent snap of the horrible hounds...

...Who are both fit and well and not at all concerned about my ability (or lack of) on the lace front!

Other knitterly news that I have no pictures for...I'm nearly at the second foot on my Ma's socks...which is nice but the metal needles are hell on my hands which is less nice, sigh!

After deciding I wasn't going to touch any UFO's until after Christmas I've now frogged 2 projects, the Eastern Cable Jacket which I got antsy over after a friend's project in Jaeger Matchmaker stretched massively after blocking (I've had personal experience of it growing but blamed it on myself). Anyway, I've decided to get the proper yarn and start from scratch but in the intervening, the knitted yarn has rejoined the stash. I'll look for a stabilizing stitch pattern (like slip stitch) or maybe just WASH the swatch and calculate accordingly for the next Matchmaker project!

For a similar reason, I unearthed a Colinette chenille project buried for many months that looks hopelessly gappy and like it'll stretch 3 sizes bigger in the wash. So that was also added back into the stash but I haven't a clue what it'll become in it's new life, it's foxing me!

So maybe I'll get around to a bit of (EEEEK!!!) sewing up or (EEEEEEEEEEK!!!!!!!!!!) sewing in zips in the meanwhile...but don't hold your breath!

Ooh yes, before I forget, we had our first Knitting night at the NEW VENUE!!!! It's still in it's infancy and waiting stock but it's building up to be a cute new yarn shop...and its all MINE!!!! MWAHAHAHAHA! (well, and everyone elses, of course!). It was fun, it took a bit to get going, a shop out of hours is bound to be quieter than a pub but raucous laughter was certainly heard at various points (and I pity the poor saps who will be renting the flat above!).

And if course, I'm ignoring Sunday right now, I'll think about it maybe...Saturday?

And if there isn't a single spelling mistake in this post, a minor miracle will have ocurred....

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Secret of the Stole update, I'm getting Quicker!

No excuses this time, maybe I'm feeling a teensy bit better this weekend! Anyway, here are promised photos and I even finished clue 4 in record time, I had only 8 rows left when I went to bed Friday evening (but then I found a mistake and thought it best not to tackle it on half a bottle of wine!). So it WAS completed by Saturday lunchtime...

...I pinned it out this time and put it on a black background 'cos this cashmere- can look greyish on the wrong backing. It's funny to compare this yarn with the one below, they're very different!

Actually, I'm quite pleased that it didn't take too long this week, The Mystic waters clue is a LOT more difficult in comparison and MUCH easier to make mistakes so it needs my full concentration.

This is where I'm up to so far, about 2/3rds of the way thru the clue. The yarn as I've mentioned previously is a gorgeous cashmere silk blend lovingly hand-dyed by Posh Yarns. The shade is Azul and I bought 3 skeins especially for this project. The silk in the mix makes it much more soft and slippery to knit and the yarn, a laceweight is actually thicker than the cashmere 4ply! The pattern is lovely and suits the yarn really well and hopefully I'll be able to stretch the yardage (or shrink the pattern!).

In other knitting news, here's the finished BMP socks....

As I'd mentioned, I scaled down the stitches on the leg and used 2.75mm needles then switched to 2.25mm needles for the feet for extra wearability. If I did them again, I might rotate the hi-score table to the side, but aside from that I;m relatively happy (though fair-isle isn't my forte!).

And here's the first of 2 socks for my mum...pity they don't photograph well!

...You see, they're too long for the hanger foot blocker...

And they look plain weird unblocked! Still, you get the idea, they're ribbed so they fit both my large calves and my mum's much skinnier ones! She's gluten intolerant and has to watch her cholesterol so she doesn't get the chance to put on weight! Come the winter, these little babies will keep her tootsies toasty!

And finally (on the knitting front)...

...The little red square I mentioned in the last post. I might just squeeze another out this week but as I may be comissioned to knit a sweater for the new shop imminently, my spare knitting time will be severely limited!

Anyway, also as promised last time, my latest haul of stash enhancement...

I managed to get a ball (or two..or three...or) of Sublime Merino Angora...soooo soft!

Plus a couple of pairs of my fave Fiskars soft touch scissors... all half price! I DID feel a bit guilty and 'fess up to hubby...(he laughed!).

And the promised haul from the friendship guild...

...There's an extra blob of Merino somewhere, I picked up enough for a sweater's worth. I also got some will reside with my other wild and wacky fibres 'till I get round to playing with them, some tencel, broken silk tops (much easier to spin with) and BFL washed fleece.

The idea was to mix the ultraviolet purple with the paler purple to give the finished knitting some variation and add silk in for shine, It ended up looking like this...

...I was very unsure of the final effect, had to live with it for a week until I was happy with the effect, the while silk peeking out somehow made it was less shiny than I'd thought too. Still needs a wash and dry then I can explore it in the skein, watch this space...!

You might be wondering quite how I manage to fit in as many knitting hours as I do, It's no miracle, I've suffered with a number of conditions for a while and now it looks like I might have a low thyroid condition adding to the mix. I do what I can in a day then I rest and while I rest, I knit! It's been a fantastic therapy for me in my down times and so long as I don't overdo it and kick off the arthritis, it keeps me from getting down about life. With a little luck, I should get a reasonable diagnosis in a few weeks and maybe start to swing things in my favour. 'Till then, I'll keep on Knitting!

Thursday, 25 October 2007

I give up! Secret of the Stole Update...finally!

Well, I had it all planned, but then life gets in the way!
My Sunday post was postponed because of a fab friendship day on Saturday (goodies pics to follow) hence family meet-up the next day.

Still, I've been a dilligent knitter, I actually finished clue 3 on Sunday...but I lost the lead to upload the photos! Still, better late than never...again!

It's really growing now, I'll have to check what the finished length is again to see I'm on target as tomorrow's clue lets you shorten or lengthen it so I can make the judgement call then.

Again, I'm really impressed at how this is turning out, the cashmere won't show it's true beauty until it's finished and washed but it's draping nicely, even at this stage.

The BMP socks were also completed over the weekend leaving a space in the itinerary for another Christmas project. I have a great glove pattern all lined up for the MIL, then I went and lost it so I had to do a bit of quick thinking to skip a couple of projects- need to print out the Jaywalker pattern again and focus on some long ribby socks for my Ma. There'll be some update photos in the next post so you'll have to wait and see!

I have some luscious cashmere/silk laceweight on the needles too for the Mystic Waters Knitalong which started on Wednesday. I love everything about the pattern and the yarn but there's a's a triangular shawl and I might not have enough to finish it. The pattern calls for 1200 metres but in error, I got 1200 yards! Ah well, watch this space, there may yet be a substitution or a bit of jiggery pokery.

If that wasn't enough, I've been squeezing in a little charity knitting for a very worthy cause ,
the Chilidren's Society Big Knit campaign. They're looking for 8" knitted squares in red wool to make a gigantic christmas stocking. You can click on the link below for more information if you can lend a hand. They need 7500 squares for the beginning of December and they're only up to 596 so far.

The new knitting shop continues to form, We're moving the Tuesday knitting group there next week! With a little luck, they're hoping to open by the end of next week (and I'm getting a sneek preview tomorrow)!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

If I Don't Take a Minute.....

....To type this post, a whole week will have gone by, so, better late than never!

I managed to catch up with the 2 clues on Secret of the Stole, see what you think...

I'm afraid they're rather rushed photos so they don't exactly show the cashmere's potential but at least you can see it's growing! Unfortunately, as I was dragging it out of its hiding place to photograph it, I snapped the thread from the cone so that'll be an extra end to weave in, bugger!

On the bright side, the beads that my Secret Pal sent me in the first package work wonderfully with the piece, they contrast just enough to stand out without being glaring so once again, thank you, my Secret Pal!

I actually finished the stole on Monday evening and, not put off by the somewhat slow going of the Scar sock incident, returned to the BMP's...

I'm really pleased with the progress, this photo shows exactly where I'm at right now, i.e. just starting the foot of the second sock. I've made a few modifications to the original but ended up doing the feet on 2.25mm needles as per (nearly) the original instructions. this does have the slight disadvantage that there are acres of plain stocking stitch on the foot after the great variation in the leg and it doesn't exactly grow very quickly!

Never mind, at least I can oficially say I've got into Christmas knitting and I'm hopeful for a relatively speedy finish- after clue 3, of course!

Good times ahead with the Cheshire Guild Friendship Day on Saturday and my First course on the 4th November too, I'll be (hopefully) teaching them how to design knitted clothes for themselves. I've been hammering the keyboard refining my original worksheets down to 6 pages (max. photocopies per student!). So far, the numbers are few but I'm hoping that there will be some last-minute takers as it will certainly be an interesting day! Ah well, whatever happens, Burton Manor always puts on a great Buffet lunch on a Sunday, they do the full carvery bit, and for once, I won't be paying for it!

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Well and truly Dead!

Not really!
It's just !'ve had the quickest competition of my life!

Started on Saturday and ended for me on Sunday when these were delivered...

It must be a record to be "killed" quite so quickly!
(for those that don't know the rules, your "assassin" has to knit and deliver a pair of scoks to you before you finish your pair and it arrives at your "victim"). Thing was, this time it was my mate woolydoodles, the pattern was posted late Friday but I only picked it up Saturday morning and had just about finished one sock by midday Sunday. Mel arrived at 4ish this afternoon complete with this pair of beauties!

Well, I may have dropped out of the competition early but I do have a nice pair of socks to wear!

In other news, the Print o the Wave is finally finished...

...It blocked beautifully and looks very pretty. I do like it but am quite relieved to have finally finished and it will no doubt be winging its way to its new home this week (extremely slowly!).

It's quite a bit darker than the pics but you get the idea, I just hope the intended recipient likes it!

So, big project ticked off, sock wars somewhat prematurely ended, what do I turn to? Christmas projects? Naah, I've been catching up with Secret of the stole, completed clue 1 from last week and am working my way through clue 2! I have had to frog around 30 rows which slowed things down a bit but with luck I'll be completed mid-week so I can actually get on with some Christmas knitting.

Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Secret pal stuff, Holiday goodies and other knitterly stuff (post 2)

Whew! Camera's charged, photos downloaded and trimmed, now I can tell you all about what happened last week (in between blogging about the dream holiday!).

Secret Pal Stuff

Firstly, massive apologies for the delay in posting about this, the fates were definintely smiling on me when postie delivered my first SP parcel half an hour after they were meant to go out on strike! He definitely deserves a Christmas Bonus!

I was so excited, it was postmarked Australia! Luckily, I had the camera at the side of me so I restrained myself from ripping the tissue 'till I took a pic.

And this was what was inside...

...There was a cute knitted flower brooch in lovely soft mohair, some really unusual stitch markers (wherever did you find those?) with knitterly images all the way through like Blackpool Rock! Then there was a Smiggle? retractable pencil (It took a few hours to work out what to do!), pencil case and jotter pad and a beautiful sea green/turquoisey bag of knitting beads that would look lovely on that cashmere yarn, you clever thing!

But that's not all...

Three lovely balls of pure merino supersoft yarn that are just begging to be knitted up into something gorgeous and maybe felted too?

So, thank you so much, my secret Australian pal, you've said we seem to have a lot in common so I'm itching to find out more about you.

I've agreed with my spoilee that I'll be posting 2 parcels rather than 3 and because I'm sending them surface mail, the first one is already winging its way over the water to its new home, the second will be hot on it's heels as soon as I've completed her knitted gift- the main reason why I haven't blogged at all since last wednesday....Biting off more than you can chew anyone?

Holiday treats

Well, I did promise, and I've realized I've missed something out already! Never mind, it'll just have to sneak in some other time.

So, I picked up this on the Friday at Fort Augustus, not so much of a wool shop as a craft shop with sock wool.

It's Opal Magic? (Like I need more sock yarn!) but i think this does weird and wacky things rather than fair isle or stripe effect, it goes at angles and stuff if I got the right one! I'll find out eventually.

Next, my yarn and fabric haul from Stornoway. Remember that sweet old guy who was a wealth of historical knowledge (and could talk both hind legs of a donkey?).

His shop was a wealth of fabricy goodness, I picked up all these offcuts to make a couple of bags. The picture doesn't give the fabric justice, there are a whole heap of shades and hues in there, maybe I'll get a better one later.

I DID pick up some yarn there too, remember Hebridean Cannonballs?

...'s funny, they look weeny in this pic, but there's actually 5 and a half pounds of yarn there! it's a multistranded yarn twisted together from the same Harris Tweed yarn used to make the fabric above. When we were at a museum near the Butt of Lewis, I spotted the spindle used to twist it, the cannonballs were exactly the same so it's truly handmade yarn! It may not be the softest stuff around but it's still pretty special to me.

So, wht am I going to make with it? Ah, you all know me better than that! It'll make its purpose known oneday.

Knitterly Stuff

Remember that I took 5 projects on holiday?

There was method to my madness, I took a mix of complicated and braindead projects, suitable for all levels of sleep deprivation. Hence. some of it never got touched whilst others got ahead. This was one....

The Space invaders sock DID get a bit further than this but I decided I needed to go down a needle size so I needed brainpower to work out modifications to the foot.

The Blur Sweater did a little better, however, all it needs is a little sewing up (so don't hold your breath!).

Aside from the lacy bits on the end, it was pretty mindless (and incredibly useful!).

But I also needed to do some of this..

...No, I didn't work like the wind, a lot of this (particularly the border) has been worked since I've been home, I'm in two minds about this pattern, it has been a hell of a lot more effort than I thought, considering I knitted a only slightly simpler stole last year for my spoilee. There were errors in the border pattern, the stitches kept slipping off the needles and it's been a two steps forward, one back all the way. Still , I'm on the home stretch now and with a little effort it'll be washed and blocked over the weekend. Not sure if I'll make quite this much effort next time, though!

Still, it's certainly a special gift!

Anyway, I also started THIS while I was away. i had to do something with the Colinette yarn and this fitted the mindless category.

Not exactly high on the priority list right now, considering I'm a week behind the new stole knitalong, sock wars starts on the weekend AND there's still Christmas knitting to consider.

Plates etc. Sigh.

Has it been a week already? Post part1 (and holiday snaps part4?)

Wow, it's been incredibly busy since I returned so apologies for the delays in the last installment.
This post will be somewhat shorter (I'm sure you'll be relieved!) but hopefully there'll be a second post later to bring up the knitterly tone!

You see, the camera batteries have all decided to die so whilst it's easy for me to pull out the last of the holiday snaps for your delectation, transferring all the goodies I've bought and knitted will have to wait until they've had a recharge. Ah, the joys of technology!

Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, safely installed in Aviemore (or Coylumbridge to be precise, about 2 miles down the road). We had a fab room at the Hilton, 2 queen size beds so we had the best nights sleep of the holiday together for once. Our next tour was one we'd done before but our driver had made a shortcut to allow for an extra trip on the Funicular railway in the afternoon. We decided not to go (and as hub was decidedly travelsick when we got off the coach, I think we made the right decision!).

So, we headedoff up towards Inverness and along the side of Loch Ness. It's one of the more famous sites due to the "tales" of Nessie and it is pretty but being at the end of an incredible journey, we couldn't help but feel that other areas had been far more dramatic.

We stopped at a hotel where we could get a picture of the shoreline then a quick photo stop to get this most famous of snaps- Urquhart Castle. It's an atmospheric place to walk around but the new owners have made it less attractive for coachloads with combined entry of the castle and visitor centre being £6.50 so we could only look from a distance. Still, we have been there before, so no skin off our nose!

Next, we headed to Fort Augustus at the head of the loch and another set of staircase locks for the Caledonian Canal which runs from Fort William to Inverness (so we'd travelled along it in theory if not in practice!).

It was a nice day and we had a little time to stroll around the shops, grab lunch (and find a ball of yarn too!)

I do think the view down the loch is nice though!

Anyway, we split off from the group about 3 ish to explore the town of Aviemore.
We definitely found more than we were expecting! Whilst I was availing myself of the local facilities, hubbie went exploring and discovered this...

There was a wee tunnel and pretty grotto area around the back of the shops that led to the other side of the railway and he just managed to snap this one before the steam train left! (I think it made his day!).

Not quite ubiquitous sweater shot by the tunne

This was from the other side of the tracks with the Cairngorms in the distance. If you click on the pic, you can hopefully see snow on the mountain tops!

We found a walk off the main roads to get back to the Hotel and found an iinteresting shop en route with loads of foodie treasures. Bizarrely, we didn't buy anything, having nowhere to store fresh produce but our mouths did water!

Friday was obviously most of the staff's night off as service was pretty apalling that evening. It took an hour to get through 2 courses and the meals took so long to come out that mine was lukewarm to say the least. Not the best end to a holiday but couldn't be helped, I guess.

So, another early up (6.30am), Breakfast for 7am and on the coach for 8am for the long journey home. It all went incredibly smoothly, we arrived back at Stretton around 4pm and didn't have to wait too long for the feeder coach which just happened to drive down our main road and (with a little pleading!) agreed to drop us a hell of a lot closer to home. We arrived home before 6pm, tired and extremely bag laden but with a whole heap of memories.

Ah well, next post all my goodies, watch this space!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Holiday Snaps part Three (ripples on the water)

(By the way, you can now click on the photos for a better image, wahey new camera!)

So, where were we?
We'd crossed over to Harris, driven up to Lewis and had another packed day on Tuesday. Wednesday was a free day with the option of a half day tour. Did we have an extra lie in? Did we heck!

We clambered back on the coach, me somewhat stiffly after all the steps of the previous day, this time heading up the east side to the "Bridge to Nowhere". The tarmacked road leads right up to it, originally it was designed to join up with the road on the West side but funds ran short so it's a rather grand start to a footpath instead.

Down on the shore was the lovely beach at Garry Sands.

There may have been a feep or two as well! Mostly, they just stood on the roads in front of the coach but being in the back, we mostly saw them sprinting away to the side!

We found a quieter part of the beach and there was time to let my hair down somewhat!

It was a beautiful spot, though!

We carried on to Coll pottery and may have had a purchase or two (but that'll have to be for another post!); before wandering back to Stornoway for lunch. Stornoway was an interesting place, if a little bizarre! Somehow, it seemed so out of place to have a Superdrug and a Woolworths! The roads were in straight rows but the coastline wasn't so it was rather easy to get lost! Ws went around the museum which had onr of the Lewis Chessmen in, had lunch in the Library!, and explored the shops. At dinner on Tuesday night, one lady mentioned a wool shop...well, my wool radar had failed me for once- but I was under the impression it would be a wool-free hol. this time!

So after dinner we decided to go for a bit of a recce. We walked as far as the shops petered out on the main road and discovered a rather dingy little shop down a dark alley. It was shut, of course but it did mention the magic word, KNITWEAR! We found another possibility in a craft shop but it was only Wednesday afternoon that we got lost once again and actually found the yarn shop, we zigged instead of zagging!

Well, it did have an assortment of mainland goodies but somehow I (for once) didn't act like a kid in a candy shop! We'd decided to cross the river and explore Lews castle grounds anyway so we had a little retail therapy along the way anyway. I'll do a goodies post once I've got everything under my belt, shall we say I got some geniune regional goodies instead.

This is Lews Castle, beautiful but unfortunately, unusable. A certain owner took one too many internal walls down to open it up, making it unstable in the process so now it's condemned.

There's a pretty visitor's centre with wooden replicas of Lewis Chessmen guarding the gates.

And inside an interesting tale of a local man, Namely Lord Leverhulme, one of the Lever Brothers and a millionaire in his own right. He bought the islands in the twenties, made the (somewhat inadvisable) castle renovations and built the bridge before giving it all away to a trust which now manages certain areas of Lewis.

They respect art and craft over there a lot more than the mainland, look at the tree...

A house for the wee folk, perhaps?

You'll have to click on this one for a panorama of Stornoway (we have a clever pic stitching thingummy too!)

A little additional retail therapy later, we had another excellent meal (honey roast Gammon with Peaches, salad selection and mint chocolate mousse for dessert!), we went to our room to pack our cases ready for the morning. Here's where the ripple in our perfect holiday happened. I'm not being funny, I know it was a complicated trip but I was extremely angry with how we were handled that night.

I had noticed a wind-type noise the first morning at the Caladh and being a light sleeper it had disturbed me minorly, then on Tuesday night, a loud fan-like noise started up around 8pm. It was disturbing but the noise stopped unexpectedly at 10pm so I got a reasonable nights sleep then. On Wednesday night, the noise started again, even louder, so much so that it vibrated the walls but i wasn't too worried because I expected it to stop. It didn't.

Around half-past eleven, after desperately trying to sleep and getting more and more wound up, I checked with the neighbouring room (for that read I accused him of keeping his bathroom fan on- I'm not proud of that one!) then went down to reception to complain. I was told there were no other rooms available, that the only fan-like noise was the kitchen fans but that they were DEFINITELY turned off at 10pm. I had informed the girl at reception of the noise the night before-which stopped at 10 but she insisted it must be noise from the industry out back. I was skeptical, we were in the middle of the hotel and no one else was complaining but she just kept reiterating that she was sorry but there were no other rooms available as the hotel was full.

When I returned to our room, I told Hub of our discussion, he got dressed and went to investigate. He too went down to reception, this time speaking to a male who had the nouse to actually CHECK the fans. Lo and behold, 3 of them were on FULL! They were switched off at 12.30am, I was so wound up by this point that it was around 3am before I got any sleep...and then they switched them on again at 6am! Okay, they weren't loud but when you're listening out for a noise like that, it's enough to start the adrenaline again. To my knowledge, neither myself or hub have recieved a proper apology and for that, I'm still angry.

I don't exactly do very well on 3 hours sleep.

we went to the Butt of Lewis which is the most northerly point on the island.

It was pretty, but all I wanted to do was sleep. Hubbie definitely took the photos on this one. We did travel on to a local museum and had a civilized elevenses with tea and cakes (lots of cakes!)and I did try to make light of the whole thing as I could tell it had stressed hub out but that doesn't mean I didn't have a very rough morning.

We returned to Stornoway with half an hour to spare before the ferry crossing, enough time to grab a butty and join the crowds boarding on foot. Can you see what a beautiful day it is? The weather was definitely being kind to us and the crossing was extremely smooth, considering it had been cancelled the day before!

I snapped this one through a rather mucky window, our last views of Stornoway as we departed.

Gratuitous Sweater shot number...oh, I don't know, 3 maybe?

That point 5 cardi definitely came in handy and Mister P is sporting his Wendy Fusion ensemble. (don't forget you can click on them to make 'em bigger).

Despite being a much longer crossing (2 hours 45 mins), you could actually see land on the horizon so it felt like it should have been shorter. As we came into the wide bay, the sea was so calm then as we traversed the loch, the water was like glass as we glided through it. It was truly beautiful, despite seeing so many breathtaking views, this topped them all!

This was taken just as we left the ferry on the coach, it's the tiny village of Ullapool. Our views were all too brief as we raced along the road to Inverness then on to Aviemore and Coylumbridge to our final hotel, a Hilton, our swankiest yet! We had a wonderful room with not one but TWO Queen size beds so we were able to share a bed for the first time all hoilday!

I slept well that night!