Sunday, 11 January 2009

UK swap - Winter Warmers for your head

What is your favourite style of hat?
I sort of have two criteria, that which I'd love to knit and that which I'd actually use! The wind can bite pretty hard around here so it tends to go straight through most knitted hats. When I was considering knitting a hat for hubbie for xmas it was an EZ double thickness number relatively tightly knit. Not exactly fashionable but would most likely keep the weather at bay! I aspire to knitting tam style hats (berets) but am not at all sure they'd suit me. Possibly peaked newsboy caps would suit me better but as my head's smaller than average a lot of commercial hats swamp my short hair and make me look like a chemo victim!
I have a Canadian russian style hat (earflaps/ties) that I've had for too many years to mention and that generally keeps the cold and wet away.

Do you have a favourite yarn for making hats with?
Wool all the way. If it can be felted then it's even less likely to let the wind/wet through.
What hat patterns are in your queue at the moment?
Funnily enough, there's not many due to the first statement. In general terms, I like the pretty lacy hats, the cabled ones and aspire to knitting a fair isle tam but this is about the only one in my favourites. This one took my eye recently.

a) 'Cos for some reason I've never knitted entrelac yet and b) 'cos it's pretty!

Do you have a favourite handmade hat that you (or someone else) has made?
I've got Wooly Wormhead's e-book and lots of aspirations but not a lot else though I did get sent a lovely lacy hat in a swap a while back. I use it in the spring when the weather's a bit kinder and not wet.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Warming Your Knees (UK Swap)

(If you're looking for the weekly post, just scroll past this one...)
What has been your favourite finished blanket/lapghan?

Not something I generally knit because it takes a lot of time to create BUT…
I did knit up a blanket from handspun. (Pity I don't have a photo!)

Basically, when I was pretty new to the spinning scene, I bought fleeces indiscriminately. If it was cheap, it was mine! Hence I ended up with a Derbyshire gritstone fleece with half of Derbyshire in it…the thorny bits; and 2kg of black Shropshire that was coarse as dog hair (and not the sort you spin!). So, in a fit of using the rubbish fleece before the good stuff, I forced myself to work through them, producing a combination of black, off white and black and white tweed yarns.

There was thick, thin and everything in between (I was playing with spinning techniques) and I ended up with around 2kg of not soft yarn. Well, it was never going to go next to the skin so a big lap blanket sounded ideal. I got out the Harmony stitch guides, cast on random numbers of stitches and found a pattern that needed that amount. I picked up along the edge of the last one to save sewing up and the changing patterns kept me entertained until I had a sizeable blanket that gets a lot of use come the cold weather! It may not be pretty (I never had enough to put a border around) but it’s serviceable and keeps the draughts away.

Do you have a favourite pattern that you'd like to make in the future?

There are lots of patterns I like but I’m not sure I’d have the staying power to keep at it!

I must admit though I've had a fondness for this one for a while.

Do you have a favourite type of yarn for making blankets/lapghans?
Wool or wool blends. It's washable and keeps you warm!

New Years Resolutions...after a fashion!

I’ve thought long and hard about this one...I still want to challenge myself but not to overwhelm myself and therefore run away from every single goal I’ve set (like last year!). I also have to bear in mind that I will have less free time in 2009 and that with the time I do have I need to start thinking about clearing space, re-organising my sizeable stash and attempting to get some sort of order for the first time in I-don’t-know –how-long.

In crafty news I will still aim to reduce my UFO’s at a faster pace than I create new ones and attempt to keep up with Lace KAL’s that entice me and then suck up most of my remaining time so...with all that weighed in the it is.

1) I will aim to spin 1600gms of fibre in 3 months and then knit a cabled sweater (to be decided) in 2009.

2) I will continue to attempt to keep up with the current (Christmas) KAL and the next one I’m signed up for (late January) but not beat myself up if I don’t.

3) I will give it my darnedest for this year’s Sock Madness from March given the time I have available...I already have a HUGE stack of suitable sock yarn ready and waiting...

4) I will aim to finish at least one UFO a month, other commitments permitting.

5) I have just joined the “26 in 26” group with the aim to lose a pound a week ready for Woolfest. With the Wii Fit board for xmas, I hope to get a little extra excercise in and less intake to try and shift the weight. Something to aim for, anyway!

But above all...
6)I reserve the right to ditch any of the above and do whatever the hell I want if any of it gets like too much pressure ‘cos let’s face it, life’s stressful enough without too much extra squeeze!

With that in mind, I’ve done a 50% catalogue of the prepared fibres invading the house in order to find a suitable ready-to-go option for the first resolution. I’ve settled for oatmeal BFL which may well get the dye treatment after spinning so I can get straight into it. It will be boring but I’ve set mini targets of 200g per week to slot in amongst everything else.

I’ve been slogging away at the Christmas Shawl KAL too....

These pic's were after I completed clue 4 earlier in the week but now I'm here...

...and a close-up....
I’ve needed the rest days to catch up but as of 10.30pm Friday, I completed clue 6 on Saturday with clue 7 due today. I do hope the weekly clues are still bite-size as the daily ones are definitely taking more than one day!

For better or worse, I’ve also signed up for Mystic Star KAL starting late January but as it only takes a single 1000 yard skein and is in 4 parts I’m hoping it won’t eat into my time too much. My yarn’s been picked and paid for so I’ll be ready to go when it arrives, more yummy tencel from Yarntopia Treasures.

The weather here’s been so cold, we never did manage to get to see the “men” at Crosby sands though it had been more bearable on Friday. In fact, on Saturday morning the sun was shining and the temperature was almost bearable though it got colder again in the evening.
Maybe it was the sun that kind of addled my brain as Saturday was the day I booked the entire year’s holidays in one fell swoop! In fact, I’ve not only booked two weeks plus but I’ve organised separate accommodation for Skip North in March and will be booking Woolfest accommodation ASAP too!(actually, now it's all booked) Phew!

There is method in my madness, we’ve been mulling over a bigger than usual holiday in Ireland for some while now so when the holiday cottage brochure hit the mat, I felt it was time to do something about it. I’d pre-planned a later trip to Bakewell too as it’s a great base for the area and their farmers market is fantastic but when I investigated the single property I’d previously singled out, all the cheap weeks had already gone so in order to get a booking at all, it had to be done now. Still, although I’m feeling a bit twitchy with quite how much I’ve booked today, with only £25 deposits they can be paid off in stages and I don’t need to worry about making any more choices this year.

The Ireland trip is more complicated than usual as both the ferry and cottage has been booked BUT I need to find somewhere for a two night stay on the way down (might as well have a wee taster elsewhere too...) and a B+B close to the ferry terminal for the early sailing on the return trip. It’ll be challenging but more of an adventure than usual without having to rely on a coach company and what they think you want to visit. We’ll be discovering the region between Cork and Waterford and it’ll be totally new to both of us which is the exciting bit. Plus if the fates are with us, I might get the chance to visit Jo.
Well, there's a lot of pennies to be found for this little lot but if I pay off little and often we might just break even. 'Till then I'll just have to rein in the bargain hunting!