Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Crying Out For An LYS

I now have my new pc set up and working. It's superduper fast compared to the old one. One thing that isn't fast though, is uploading images to Blogger. I'd always assumed it was my computer being slow, but it would appear that in this case, it's Blogger. Takes ages. In fact, right now it's not actually letting me upload images at all. It pretends it is, but no image appears. How irritating.

Anyway, I haven't been doing much blogging, as you know. But I haven't done that much knitting, either. Oh, I couldn't let a whole day go by without doing any knitting at all, but I've been spreading my time between the knitting and Other Things, instead of being completely obsessed about the knitting and only the knitting. That includes the purchasing of yarn and needles, too. Some of the Other Things I have been doing are, exercising (yippee), sprouting seeds again (yippee), reading, cleaning my house and playing more with Charles, rather than mostly reading to him and looking at books. Here is a pic of my beloved sprouter.

They are very good for you but I won't bore you with the details. But I should definitely live to 1003 yrs old if I eat these sprouted mung beans, radishes and alfafas!

The photo at the top is of the socks I'm knitting. I felt the urge to knit a sort-of-lace sock with the Ja Woll yarn, and I'm pleased so far. But whether they'll fit great when they're finished is another thing. The Koigu ones I knitted are like little boats on my feet. The foot length is fine, but they're too wide. So I wear them as house socks instead of with shoes, although they were great with my walking boots yesterday, on a canal walk. Of course, you will be made aware of how they turn out!

Speaking of which, after asking for advice on seaming Celandine, I forgot to let you know what I did in the end. Well, I noticed that Louisa Harding mentioned two types of seaming in her pattern book, including backstitch. And although I know the mattress stitch is so much better, I did the backstitch. BUT the reason was that the fabric was so flimsy I knew I'd get away with it, you know, without bulking up the seams. So, that's what I did and it came out great. I would be wary of using backstitch on most items, though.

My trip to John Lewis MK.......The weekend before last, I had such bad PMT (no, honestly, it was BAD) I wasn't myself at all. OH had to get Charles and himself out of the house two days running as I was such a nutter (though not violently, you understand) and in a fit of I will do whatever I want and won't consider anyone else in the whole world, I disappeared off shopping for the afternoon (having only just realised what I'd long suspected was true - that John Lewis stock yarn). Well, I was quite excited at the prospect of being surrounded by so much real-life yarn (as excited as is possible when you feel that horrid) and, since the girl on the phone at JL had assured me that they carried too many lines of yarn to list them, well, brilliant!! But my high hopes were short-lived. Yes, yarn of all hues lined the shelves, but there were only about four shelves - all filled to the brim with Debbie Bliss, Rowan and Jaeger. Depressed? I never knew the meaning of the word....... There's nothing wrong with the aforementioned yarns, but I was nursing hopes of something, well, a bit more exotic. You know, Noro, or something. But no. Then I cast my mind back to the time I went to JL MK for some fabric, during my dressmaking phase, and it brought back horrid memories of exactly the same feeling of disappointment with their selection. Why, oh why do I have to travel so far (probably London) to find decent stuff? I mean, it's not as if Aylesbury is in the middle of nowhere, but there is nothing there and it's my local place to shop. As far as I know there isn't one dedicated LYS for miles around. I never thought I'd say this, but why can't it be more like LA, as far as LYS's are concerned? I'll stick with the internet.

Just ordered some Lorna's Laces from Get Knitted. It's the new Swirl DK. Will post photos when it arrives.

Got to go - Charles now has a nasty cold and a temperature. Really wish my friends would take heed of what I say and not visit us with bugs. OH's dad is having chemo for the next six weeks and can't afford to be ill and we see a lot of him. I'll have to start turning these people away (cripes I'm evil again).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Keeping My Fingers Crossed

Right - I've got to type quickly, before my pc throws another fit and stops me.

Finished Celandine, photos above (sorry you have to see all the rubbish in my house. I'd normally cut it out of the photo but pc wouldn't let me today). Remember I said I was having trouble getting the correct tension? I never did get the 22 sts the pattern required - the closest I could get was 24 (per 10cm). According to my rusty brain, that means the top should have come out slightly smaller. Well, I don't know what Louisa Harding was thinking when she designed this top, but it's huge. I knitted the second size up (34) and it's like a tent. OH (always tactful) said it looks like a top my Granny would have knitted. And now he's calling me Frank Spencer (you know, the knitted tank-top). He did say it was lovely and quite an achievement (not in a patronising way) but that it just didn't flatter me. Well, I think that's the understatement of the year so far. Sack and potatoes spring to mind.........But, never one to refuse a challenge, I jumped right to it and ordered some matching Kimono Ribbon and threaded it in three bands around the bust area and it pulled the whole thing in. I quite like it now. OH said he's willing to be converted but he's still not keen at this present moment in time. But that's tough titties, as I will wear it when I want. Going back to the tension thing, though, I really felt from the beginning that the tension required created a fabric that was just too flimsy and insubstantial - and I was right. But I've learnt from this.
Oh, and by the way, I think I'm not allergic to angora, but the bits were irritating my nose as they flew off when I was knitting.

Anyway, here is my Odessa. I got the beads from Robin's Beads on eBay. Great service. I'm really pleased with this hat and am making another exactly the same for my lovely sister, as she liked mine so much. It's the first time I've knitted with beads and I think it's only a couple more steps to complete addiction. The beads appeal to me in their jewel-like, glittery way. These ones are called Woodland Mix (japanese) and the yarn used was RYC Cashsoft DK in Lime.

Just started a pair of kind-of-lace socks in that blue cotton I bought, and a scarf in the rest of the Kimono Ribbon. Well, I couldn't just leave it sat there in all its glossy beauty. The scarf won't be breaking any new ground - it's just plain knitting. Just some flim-flam to go with a summer outfit. Gotta go.

Must remember to tell you about my depressing trip to John Lewis Milton Keynes on Sunday.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I'm hardly posting anything at present, as my computer is on its "last legs" and will rarely work properly and certainly won't let me do anything at all with photos. The annoying thing is I have a sparkling new one just sat in the hall, waiting. OH and I don't know how to set the thing up - it has to be networked with his pc in his office. Poops.

Anyway, I have Celandine almost finished except for a couple of seams and Odessa is finished, too. Will post photos asap.

But watch out, I'm still keeping an eye on you all.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Seams I Need Some Assistance (again)

That there yarn is Noro Blossom in colourway 15. Yes, I know you may have seen this before, as this is the exact same stuff I knitted the Blossom Shrug from. Same colour even. That's because I loved the colourway so much once I started knitting with it (having been a bit unsure about it when it arrived in the post). The fact that I had a skein left from the shrug helped to make my mind up - such a skinflint, aren't I? I had been planning a variation on the tubey, but maybe I'll make something completely different up. Something with ruffle bits round the neck. Yep, sounds gruesome enough - let's get started. Have to check out exactly how to do ruffley bits first. May I take this opportunity to be bossy and opinionated and say, "if you haven't tried out blossom yet, jolly well what are you waiting about for? Get some right now". This stuff, I could rave about it. It warms up immediately you touch it and keeps that heat and throws it right back at you, but at the same time, it's very light and soft against the skin. Magic. Or at least it was when I knitted it with 7mm needles for the shrug.

Right. The thing I need to ask you all about (if you're out there, anyone, today/whenever)... I'm just over half way through this Celandine and am thinking about seaming. You must understand I've only ever seemed one proper garment - Orangina - and because the ribbing at the bottom was knit in the round I thought it was obvious the side seams above the ribbing should be joined invisibly. Can't remember what it's called, but you lay the two halves side by side and sew one stitch from each and you can't see the join. Okay, for this angora tank-top, I'm assuming that would not be the way to seam. Can I just put the back and front right-sides together and sew them, like when you're sewing, not knitting? I'm assuming it's acceptable that not every knitted garment can be seamed in that invisible way.

Charles hasn't been very well for a few days. Twice since November I've taken him to the emergency doctor in the night and twice I haven't been convinced of the diagnosis and twice now I have been correct. One of these times the GP concerned (the emergency GP) failed to spot that the reason my son was having such difficulty breathing was not just that he had a bad cold, but that his tonsils were swollen and sceptic. And last night they told me he was screaming uncontrollably due to teething. I felt that wasn't right, as he appeared to recoil from pain as soon as anything touched his mouth, and took him back today, having see that the roof of his mouth looked sore. I was told it's covered in coldsores and this is extremely painful. Nobody in our family suffers from coldsores, so I don't know how he got them. Charles is generally a very robust and healthy child and I can see right away when something isn't right. Anyway, the message in this is, when it comes to your health, or that of your loved-ones, trust your instincts.

The photo above is of Celandine, but hey, check out this pattern (the Diamonique)- don't you just have to have it for the Summer? In black.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

All in a Day's Work

True to my word, I cast on for Celandine in Louisa Harding Kimono Angora yesterday, starting with the back. Bit of ribbing and then plain st st all the way. It was a devil of a job to get my gauge right and I'm knitting so loosely now, and am so relaxed I'm practically dribbling. And I've still got two too many stitches over the 10cm. But never mind that, the width seems okay. Trouble is over the years I've seemingly taken Trinny and Susannah's advice too literally and most everything I wear is body-skimming (you know, don't have too much excess fabric - it makes you look larger). But tank tops probably aren't meant to be part of the slinky look and I'll wear something under it, so there has to be a teensy-weensie bit of give. We'll see. I must say it's fab just doing st st. I can speak and breathe and everything, instead of counting and repeating and remembering (Ella/Orangina.....). However the drawback is that I have to keep stopping at increasingly regular intervals to scratch my nose. I've never known such irritation - the bits of yarn literally fly and stick up my nostrils. I can feel them. By the time I went to bed last night I couldn't stop sneezing and felt pretty yuk. Is it possible to be allergic to angora? I don't mean scratchy allergic, I mean sniffly allergic?

But I haven't knitted one stitch of Celandine today. Why? It starts with The Needle Debacle. I ordered some bamboo 5mm/40cm needles to knit Rollin Beret with (you know, I had the Debbie Bliss Maya all lined up), but the company didn't have the bamboo. Would I like the Addi metal ones? Or a longer length? No thanks, I said. OK we've cancelled your order, they said. So I ordered them from eBay.

The listing said the item was in the UK. It wasn't - it was in Hong Kong. But I didn't know this at the time. The bloke never answered my mail and the needles hadn't arrived in ten days or so. Then the original needle company sent me my bamboo needles on the cancelled order. But they were the wrong length anyway. So they sent me replacements but they were metal and not
bamboo. So this morning I had two lots of metal needles turn up (the Hong Kong ones finally arrived). Sorry - I hope that wasn't too tedious. I must admit the UK company, Ka@ng@roo said that I could keep the 60cm ones foc and they'd replace the 40cm in bamboo. All's well that ends well. But because I actually had the right size needles this morning, I thought, oh, I'll just cast on with these stupid, slippery metal Addis and see if I might keep a pair (if they knit okay), as I want to start the hat. Couple of hours later and Bob's your uncle. And just look! This is Woolly Wormhead's pattern. Can't tell you how pleased I am and it will look mighty fine placed on my French antique coat and hat stand, with all the other hats. I don't think I've ever mentioned my hats but I'll save that for another day. Let's just say it's a shame you can't see one scrap of the coat/hat thing for all the stuff on it. Obviously the needles

were fine. I used the silver Addi turbos before and found them so slippery, it was quite tricky at times, although I was knitting ribbon with them, so not a good combination. But they were just right with the Maya, which may even have "stuck" a bit with the bamboos.

Right, down to basics. The hat was knitted exactly as it says on the pattern. As mentioned, I used the Debbie Bliss Maya and I sewed a piece of Noro Feathers on it. You can get the Maya and the Feathers at Jannette's Rare Yarns, an e-bay store. This woman is fantastic. Everything I have ever ordered has arrived the following day and her postage rates and prices are really competitive. The Feathers is ordered in 10cm pieces. Mine was one 10cm piece, which I sewed into a circle and then onto the hat. Can't wait to have cold enough day to wear it. Forget I said

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Do Not Laugh......

You know I said Ella 2 was so much easier than the first Ella, due to it being the second time round and all that? Well, I finished Ella 2 today, only to find that, somehow on the right extension (the first bit you knit after dividing the triangular bit in the middle) I knitted a whole pattern repeat too many. You would think the number of rows needed for a complete Ella would be enough, wouldn't you? But no - I had to do about 20 extra rows (which is a lot). And the thing that really gets me is that whilst knitting the part where I went wrong, I was dying to get to the next part (the decrease rows) the whole time. How did I manage it? I just don't know. I write each row down as I complete it. I'm at a loss as to how this happened. So the upshot is that one "arm" is longer than the other, but I don't think anyone will notice. This Ella is huge compared to the other one, as I intentionally knitted it with a much looser tension and this time I enlisted the help of OH to stretch it out while I ironed it to death, after spraying it to death with water first, of course. I'm over the hating-it-because-it's-not-perfect thing and suddenly feel quite protective towards it - like I'd wrestle someone to the ground if they accused it of not being perfect enough, or even eyed it in a certain way. I'm happy with it and I know I'll use it. Crikey, excuse how wiped out I look in the next photo - that's what knitting is doing to me. I'm bloody knackered.

I said I might attempt an actual garment next. With much trepidation I'm about to cast on for Celandine, a sleeveless pullover (or tank) from the Louisa Harding "The Design Collection" book. Can't show you a picture, as I forgot to take a photo and my stupid computer is really playing up, so everything's taking ages to do (getting a new one next week - yeahhhh). But the yarn below is what I've chosen for it - Louisa Harding Kimono Angora. So flipping fragile it snaps if you pull it a bit too hard. Obviously I wouldn't expect to put it under that kind of tension whilst knitting normally, although under stressful circumstances, who knows how tight my tension may get? My nose is already quite irritated just from swatching, this could be an uncomfortable experience, due to the "bits" flying everywhere, but it's so soft. Just right for a Princess who can detect a "pea" within a 100 mile radius.

And look - to give myself lots of peace and quiet whilst knitting my garment, see below Charles at home in his new environment. Just got him a nice little puppy cage, chucked him in with a couple of toys and Bob's your uncle. He's quite at home. Great.

Okay, please put the phone back on its holder right now this minute. The cage is really in preparation for my sister's new puppy and Charlie's cousins are the ones resonsible for this abomination. The thing is, Charlie was so happy in the cage, he cried when I said he had to come out, and begged to go back in. Maybe it's not such a bad idea......

It's 11pm and I obviously have to go and drink some red wine.

PS I know Ella really doesn't go with that outfit. Wouldn't want you to think I'd spent hours choosing the right clothes......

Friday, May 12, 2006

Thank you for the info, everyone!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

The above yarn is the Jawoll Cotton Superwash, which was about £3.00 on eBay - bargain! I want to make the Giotto socks, on My Fashionable Life. I was looking for something really quite open, to go with Spring shoes, and these socks are so pretty. The only thing is, Anna used a Magic Loop and I can't figure out where I can buy one in the UK. Anyone know? I could try converting the pattern to dpns but would rather not. Why on earth am I knitting more socks? Heaven knows, because I'm not sure I enjoy it. They might be small, but they're a bit of a pain. Although when I've finished a pair, I do get a great feeling of satisfaction. This is mingled with relief and is very different from the feeling I had when I finished Ella the first. I was quite at a loss, as I enjoyed the process so much.

I ordered the pattern books below from Laughing Hens (or is it The Laughing Hen?). Anyway, they must have travelled by space shuttle, as they were here almost as soon as I'd entered my payment details! And the inner wrapping was the most beautiful blue tissue paper, wrapped just like a lovely present - very impressive.

I wanted to find a pattern for a little something for Charlie Townes. Why is it so difficult to find lovely patterns for little boys? Or am I looking in the wrong place? Or is it because boys' clothes aren't as pretty as girls', so the designers can't be bothered? I like a couple of the patterns in the Little Treasures book, but one of them involves working from charts (got to do it sometime), and the other looks a bit tricky. The patterns in the Classic Home book are lovely, but a fair few involve fairisle or intarsia and lots of different colours. I loved the look of a beautiful, cosy-looking fairisle blanket, actually - but then I estimated it would cost over£100 to make. Too much...... There are some gorgeous hot-water bottle covers in there (I'm still using mine and will do until the nights are warmer-don't snigger too much) I might try one of those. Won't be trying the matching bedsocks, I do draw the line at those, you'll be pleased to hear!

These photos are of the apple tree I mentioned before, as it's seen from the landing window, and the view to the left and right. It's lovely to look out at this - Charlie Townes' bedroom looks out over this, too. It almost makes up for the fact that we have quite a busy road running along the front of the house. Oh, well, must go and do some Ella 2. Just started to decrease the right side, still got the left to do.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Not Quite Stash......

Not quite stash because, lately, nothing hangs around long enough to qualify as stash. Remember the jumper I said I might start? The Louisa Harding one? Well, forget that. On Saturday morning the Lorna's Laces in Watercolour arrived and I'd cast on for Ella 2 just as Postie got to the garden gate (he actually said "more goodies for you", when he handed it over, which made me feel slightly ashamed). The two skeins above are all that are left of the four, so far. The other one, in the middle, is the Debbie Bliss Maya, which is more greeny than I expected, but - oh, it's lovely! You should just see it and feel it. It's so real. You're probably wondering what that means but I can't explain it. It's really thick and firm, but soft and there's something old and then again something so new about it. Weird. Can't wait to use it up. That's another thing - I want to do the Rollin' Beret but the needles I ordered over a week ago still haven't arrived. The two pieces of fabric the yarn is sitting on are Kaffe Fassett, Rowan Fabrics. I got them from Wee Mouse Quilting (great company) on eBay to make two Pointy Kitties. I've never been a cuddly toy kind of gal but these Pointy Kitties are cool.

So, I'm finding Ella so easy this time round, I haven't had one mistake or misunderstanding so far. I could almost do it with my eyes closed. And I'm keeping the tension really loose - I can tell because I'm using up more yarn this time. Can't wait to finish it as I reach for the other Ella all the time. so I know I'll use it a lot. Must go and get on with it. Tonight I make chow mein for dinner and it involves lots of preparing, not to mention bathing Charles first and a hundred other things.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

What is it With Me and Socks?

Okay, let me say first that the tops of these socks are supposed to roll down. No, it's not a mistake! But the socks aren't meant to be quite this short. I did less rows on the cuff than the pattern said, but I forgot to allow for the roll-down bit, so they're shorter than I intended. This means that, front-on, my ankles look so ridiculously skinny, it's, well, ridiculous. I keep looking at the socks and wondering if I can be bothered to pick up stitches around the top and knit some more, but I think I've decided not to, and to put it down to experience.

The other thing is, they feel a bit rough to walk on - why? Home-knitted socks are meant to be really comfy. This is the first pair I've knitted for myself and now I'm wondering if my mum and Charles (eager sock recipients/utilisers) are only pretending that their socks are comfy. Maybe next time I'll knit the sole with the stocking-stitch on the wrong side, so that the foot is in contact with the smooth bit. Has anyone else had this problem?

On the plus side, I have some Jawoll cotton (is that the name?) coming (more socks) and some Lorna's Laces Watercolour arrived on Saturday morning, for an Ella 2, which I cast-on for about 1 minute after the postman arrived. I now have quite a lot of section 2 done. Would have done more but I settled down to watch a film last night, with OH (me wrapped in Ella1). We used to watch films all the time - we have hundreds, as the OH is a film buff (and not your average Hollywood blockbuster). Last night's film was fantastic, a Korean film called "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance", and if you like baroque music, watch it just for the soundtrack (honestly). I won't attempt a review, as it's not a strong-point of mine, but this film is haunting in a disturbing yet beautiful way. Catch it if you can. It's available on CD Wow at a good price. See you later.......

Thursday, May 04, 2006

What a Beautiful Day, and About Time, Too......

I love this time of year. All the spring flowers are coming into bloom and it's warm enough to spend whole days and evenings outside. The winter is lovely in its cosy, wintry way and we always look forward to lighting a fire in our log burner in the sitting room, but I've had enough by the time it gets to January, and February and March can really try my patience. It's not just being able to be outside more often without feeling like an old croc, having to scuttle here and there before my bones disintegrate from the cold - everything seems so much more beautiful....life seems so much more beautiful. I feel more relaxed and life is good. The above photo is of our largest apple tree in bloom (we only have three, not a whole orchard!). This apple tree is way taller than our house and yields about one million apples that seem to be inedible, but I can see it just about 30 feet away from the window on our upstairs landing and I love it. It's surprising how many people have suggested that we cut it down so that we can "get more sun". But why would I want more sun? I have plenty of sun in other parts of the garden. I only ever sit under a parasol anyway. How could anyone suggest cutting this very old, old tree down? Now I'm ranting, so look at this photo of our lovely robin, who lives in our garden all year round. Isn't he lovely? Luckily our cat hasn't got him yet (he prefers mice).

But today, although the temptation to stay in the garden and listen to the wood pigeons and peacocks (next door) and all the other birdsong, was very strong indeed, we ventured out to Gulliver's World, a plastic-fantastic theme park for children. Friends of ours had free tickets and invited us along for their son's birthday. We had reservations about going to such a place, as generally we prefer to take Charles somewhere more like this:

Ivinghoe Beacon

Or this, at Climping, on the south coast (me looking quite chubby last year.....):

Or this (Tring Canal Festival):

So, you're probably feeling sorry for Charlie Townes right now, but don't - because he has a fantastic time and so do we! Disney World/Land/Whatever is our idea of something horrible, so we entered Gulliver's World with trepidation. All I can say is, Charlie enjoyed himself but in a manufactured kind of way, and in spite of the dust and concrete and plastic and the "you are here to enjoy yourself" mentality (and in spite of the two nasty grazes to his forehead, from a meeting with some concrete). It wasn't that bad, but there were as many tears as there were smiles and we'd all had enough by the time we left. But we couldn't leave before I'd done this:

Don't worry, I'm not really that much of an exhibitionist - no one else was looking!

And now for a tiny piece of knitting stuff - this:

Since photographing this sock this evening, I've now finished it (knitting whilst waiting for images to upload on my ancient computer) but haven't tried it on yet.

No progress on the Fyberspates jumper at all, or anything else, for that matter. However, since seeing the beautiful quilt on Yarnstorm (love, love, love that blog), I've been thinking about quilting (ssshhhhhhhh) and have ordered two books on the subject. The quilting really appeals to me as I've always loved textiles and was quite taken with them in my twenties when I was supposed be studying interior design (but that's another story). Still loving the knitting, though. Once the socks are finished, which should be tomorrow, I might start a Louisa Harding pullover (might)......