Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Plans for 2009


My knitting plans for 2009 are pretty much the same as they were for 2008: one pair of socks every month and whatever else I can fit in!

I definitely want to tackle a Yarnissima pattern and a Cookie A pattern at some point, now that I have overcome my fear of toe-ups! I am also enjoying the Loumms Year of Socks, so will probably keep up with that.

Beyond socks, I have the yarn waiting for two Norah Gaughan projects: Loppem and Eastlake… though I am beginning to sway towards the Lacy Waves Top from Lace Style instead of the latter.

The Big Dream Plan has to be Sylvi!

And of course, the Barn Raising Squares Blanket using leftover sock yarn. I plan to get going on this over the holidays too.


2009 ought to be the year my sewing takes off. I am thinking of taking a page out of Erica B’s book and making myself some Basics – I hesitate to call it a capsule wardrobe, but that’s what I mean! Smart trousers, sharp shirts, a funky jacket. The key will be identifying the right patterns and getting a really good fit. No more of this floppy baggy kawaii comfort (well, not for work!).

First up: black cavalry twill wide-legged trousers like the ones at Old Town. I have the pattern and fabric already, so no excuses! I am also planning a grey pleated formal skirt using this pattern - though I must beware of making a school uniform!

I am on the lookout for the perfect long-sleeved shirt pattern. Preferably with several options for different collars / sleeves to ring the changes with different fabrics. Possibly a vintage pattern to add a bit of spice? At the moment I am swaying between a 1970’s pointy collar and a 1950’s peekaboo neck number – ooh! I don’t have any suitable fabrics “in stock” so will have to do so some shopping at some point...

I still have a few lengths of tweed to use up, so expect a quirky skirt or two!

The Shopping List

Clearly it won’t be long before I crack and press “purchase” on “Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn” and pre-order “Socks From the Toe up”.

I am also developing an addiction for the whole look of Betsey Johnson for Alley Cat sewing patterns from the 70’s and fear I may be about to start a collection… even if I never sew them! I missed out on an amazing “complete wardrobe” pattern last week by prevaricating for too long. Tsk!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Seasonal socks

Back of sock, followed by front of sock:

The Mulled Wine socks are progressing well. I got a bit grumpy when I realised that I was knitting a complicated lace pattern which was about to disappear under the fancy berried cuff... I think I would have shoved plain ribbing under there if I had thought about it first.
However, the attention to detail on this pattern from Loumms Year of Socks is really impressive - I have learned how to avoid a hole when turning the cuff inside out, and how to achieve a perfect short row heel with another hole-avoidance technique. Splendid work Lou and Emms!
And I had a lovely little surprise in the post from Penny: a tiny ball of Opal and some point protectors - thanks Penny!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas!

Last minute socks for next door's baby! Why do I do these things to myself? Second sock at the heel flap now (4pm on Christmas Eve) so I think I will finish in time! But the Gingerbread I made for her parents has sunk... sigh! Card by my daughter.

The pattern is my favourite for tinies: the Newborn Sock Recipe. Westport Waves stitch pattern over 40 stitches. Yarn Yard sock wool in Famous colourway.
Happy Christmas everybody!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Intermittent service warning

Dear Reader,

Blogging may be thin on the ground until after the holiday season. My Broadband connection has been "fixed"... but I do fear it may be more of an Elastoplast job than a Triple Bypass Operation.

My mother arrives on Monday, so the weekend will be spent on the second level of domestic deep-cleansing (the kind that involves scrubbing brushes and buckets of Flash).

I WILL be finishing the second sock for FL within the next two days!

I am going to see Twilight with my daughter - yay!

And I have an urgent need to start wrapping presents.

And buy food.

But I am going to cast on for Mulled Wine socks asap.

And on Tuesday 23rd, FL has a Haematology Review appointment.

So there will be things to show and tell when technology permits!

Have a great holiday season wherever you may be!



Friday, December 19, 2008

Review of 2008

It’s that time of year when all the Sunday supplements are doing Reviews of 2008 and bloggers are publishing their goals for 2009 – so why should I be different!

2008 Knitting

This was definitely my most productive knitting year to date - hooray!

Socks: 10 pairs down, the 11th are 75% done (Fl’s Christmas stockings – eek!)
Gloves / Mittens: 4 pairs
Hats: 3
Full-sized garments: 1, Manon
Baby garments: 1, Hoodie
Scarves / shawls: 7

The highlights were definitely the Shetland Lace Triangle – my first ever lace project! And Manon – my first full-sized garment in years!

Special sock mention: Aethenoth. My first-ever toe-up sock and a great pattern to boot!

The Socks from Stash Club plan was semi-successful... in the sense that I did knit socks from stash yarns. But not a whole pair for every month of the year. And I also acquired several more skeins of sock yarn, and did not knit my way through all of them. The current outstanding sock yarn stash is enough for… ahem… 29 pairs of socks. Which at the current production rate will take me THREE YEARS!

2008 Sewing

It was also a good year for sewing! When I totalled it up, I only made 3 skirts, 2 tops, 1 coat and 1 dress... but they were all successful. I am particularly pleased with the blouse because it was such a “serious” project and fits so neatly.

The dress has to get a special mention because it required so much alteration and was my first attempt with a “vintage” pattern.

Now I need to have a think about my goals for 2009!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hazel Knits for Christmas

My mother always sends a cheque for Christmas, and I usually squirrel it away for later.

But this year I decided to indulge myself in some Hazel Knits Artisan sock yarn, in Plum Glace and Cami Chic.

Now wrapped and awaiting a tree!
How exciting! It is starting to feel like Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Little Black Dress

Vintage Butterick pattern 4825, size 16 drastically altered to fit.


Ready for opera trips, corporate soirees, cocktail hours and other unlikely social events chez Roobeedoo!

The finishing touch is my Granny's marcasite brooch, gathering the excess funnel-age at the neck. I am happy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Advent socks

Work continues on the second sock for FL. I have finished the cuff – still a long way to go! My fluey brain caused me to knit one lace row twice – two inches ago. Sorry FL but I am not ripping it back. If you look at it with your eyes crossed you won’t notice it. (Yes I tried it!)

As the end of the year approaches, I am restless to finish this project off and start something new over the holidays. I am also thinking (again!) that I need a proper plan of action because I have so much yarn, and so many projects in the Ravelry queue, and no way of organising myself. I had this crazy idea to make myself the equivalent of an advent calendar for the year: a big chart of doors to open one by one at random. Behind each door would be either a pattern or a yarn from the stash. Whatever lies behind the door is my next project… what do you think?! It could be a lot of fun making the chart, printing off photos from Ravelry and sticking them behind the doors!

P.S. This (You Tube link) is NOTHING to do with me, I swear! I found it when I did a search for "Advent Socks"!

Meantime, I intend to get started on the next Loumms Year of Socks pattern: Mulled Wine. They are short socks so should be quick to knit. I think I have enough red Nature’s Palette left after the Cat Mittens. This design begs to be made in a Christmassy colour! I haven’t yet made my customary “teenaged girl cousin” gift this year and these could be the answer. They might be slightly late though… I might have to panic-knit some wristwarmers if FL’s socks don’t finish themselves soon!

And there’s the blanket. I still want and need a blanket for the sofa. Maybe I can get my mum to knit a few squares while she is staying for Christmas! I have decided that Babette is a longer-term plan. For now, I am going to work on the Barn-Raising Squares from Knitalong using leftover sock wool. Apparently you can get three large (7 ½ inch) squares out of 50g of sock yarn – perfect for using up odds and ends of balls!

Anyway, must go and do some cutting and pasting: pass the glue-stick!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Black Sticky Gingerbread

Black Sticky Gingerbread

I cannot pretend that this is a “healthy” recipe, but it makes a sick person feel better…

Enough for two 1lb loaves – one for you and one for your neighbour!

225g / 8oz butter (or Pure margarine)
225g / 8oz soft muscovado sugar (Dark for a really strong flavour, but I like the butterscotchiness of Light)
225g / 8oz black treacle
340g / 12oz plain white flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
290ml / ½ pint milk (or soya substitute)
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
4 handfuls of raisins (optional – I opt!)

Preheat oven to 150C / 300F / Gas mark 2

Line two 1lb loaf tins with greaseproof paper.

Melt butter, sugar, treacle in a small pan or for 30 seconds in the microwave. Leave to cool.

Sift together flour and spices – stir in melted mix and beaten eggs.

Warm milk gently (30 seconds in the microwave), pour onto soda, and mix into main bowlful of ingredients.

Stir in raisins, if used.

Pour into prepared tins.

Bake in oven for 1 hour. Check after 45minutes – if beginning to catch on top, cover with greaseproof paper for last 15 minutes.

Allow to cool. Can be served warm with ice cream (!) or cold lightly buttered, with a hot drink.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The funnel-neck dress

Towards the end of last week I succumbed to an evil cold. Thursday was spent semiconscious on the sofa “working from home” – and strange to report - I really did achieve a whole day’s work despite feeling like poo! I made sticky black treacle gingerbread – my winter cure-all! On Friday I went in to the office and coughed all over a Committee, which wanted to send me home – oops! So I wasn’t hopeful of much crafting this weekend at all. I knitted an inch of the second Highland Dancing sock… and ripped it out again because I got the pattern wrong.

However, on Sunday I made a good start on my Christmas party dress. Remember my inspiration? The funnel-neck number from Toast? Well, I bought one of the 1960’s patterns I showed you from the States via Etsy. From yet another Ruth, as it happens!

It is an old-style size 16 pattern, so I had to do some alterations. I reduced the yoke and front dress pieces by about two inches before I cut the fabric, and then took in the side seams by another two. But I didn’t think to shrink the neck-piece, so it is a bit wider than I would have preferred. To compensate, I am going to have to cut into the armholes radically at the shoulders. At the moment it has dropped shoulders and I look like I am being swallowed up by a giant vacuum cleaner tube. Did you ever see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? The bit where the Vulgarian spies are disguised as funnels with just their feet peeking out…?

So far, my daughter hates it and FL loves it. It is definitely “vintage”-looking and has pretensions towards being something Audrey Hepburn might have worn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Certainly, by the time I have finished it will be “an original”!

Friday, December 05, 2008

MORE sock yarn !

"Moonlight" Echo self-striping bfl from Fyberspates.
This was a surprise! After the mice ate my stashed Echo yarn, I unexpectedly received a further installment of the Fyberspates sock club - even though I had already had my full quota!
I suggested to Jen that the mice had clubbed together to buy me this skein, but in fact it was a simple administrative error. Shame - I liked the idea of guilty yarn-munching rodents pooling their pennies to repay me!
I am definitely not short of sock yarn at the moment. MUST. KNIT. SOCKS.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A pair of kittens

We were unexpectedly snowed in again yesterday, so I took the opportunity to finish the Cat Mittens.

Warning: they come up small! They will fit my daughter but they are too tight for me.

I liked the way the red Nature's Pallette wasn't quite a solid colour, giving the cats a bit more life than a matte colour would have done.

I made it to work this morning but only because FL drove me in. We moved my car to the top of the hill yesterday afternoon when there was a slight thaw, but now the doors are frozen shut! Just as well really because the "main" road was very icey - the plough had been out buit not the gritter!

More snow predicted for later this week, so I will make sure my work notebook is in my bag so that I can work from home. No Broadband (its been 4 weeks now) but at least I will have paper and pen!

Thanks to all the commenters who reminded me that "Midnight at the Lost and Found" is a Meat Loaf song. Crikey that takes me back! I was briefly wooed by a hairy biker who called me "The Pict" and played me Meat Loaf songs. I feel old!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Welcome to the Lost and Found

(I am convinced that is the lyric from a song, but can I find it? Nope!)

This weekend I received a belated birthday present. My lovely blog-pal Roo sent me a glistening silver package! The thing is, she sent it in plenty of time, and was puzzled, then concerned when it failed to appear. As the days went by, and my daily chant “Has a silver package arrived ?” met with the same negative response from FL, day after day, we had come to the conclusion that it had got lost in the post. And I was sad.

So on Saturday, when I once again lamented its loss over breakfast, I was more than a little surprised when FL looked up sharply from his newspaper: “SILVER?!” “Yes, that’s what I have been saying all week – a silver package.” And then he shot out of the room and returned a few seconds later, clutching… a silver package! It had arrived over a week earlier and for reasons he cannot now recall, he put it away in a cupboard with all my other post from that day (why?) and promptly forgot it had ever arrived.

Thank you Roo! It is a skein of HazelKnits sock yarn from Socktopus in the colour “Chocolatier” and it is the most chocolatey, scrumptious soft yarn a girl could ever wish for – seriously, I think I need to stock up on this yarn as it is exactly the texture I prefer (think Piece of Beauty or Jitterbug) and the colour is so deep and multi-layered… yum yum yum! Oh and there was a Socktopus measuring tape too – very cute and useful!

But back to the memory loss… We had another incident recently. FL went out to see our farmer neighbour, to tell him we had a flock of his sheep in our field. He was gone for twenty minutes and when he returned, FL told me he had wiped the floor with said neighbour concerning unpaid debts, sheep munching our EU trees and the fact that the neighbour has been positively hostile towards FL and myself for no known reason for the past almost 5 years. (OMG!)

When he met the neighbour filling a truck with sheep from our field the next morning, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise… but it did. FL came home and remarked that D was taking some sheep off our land, and had been friendly and chatty and wasn’t that amazing, whatever could have got into him? So I mentioned the previous evening’s visit. FL stared at me. “What are you talking about? I didn’t go to see D last night!” “Yes you did, you were gone twenty minutes.” “No I didn’t – don’t be ridiculous, I haven’t been to see D in years!” My daughter and son overheard and joined in with me “Oh yes you did – and you told him off!” And then we realised he had absolutely no memory of the previous night’s encounter.

So it wasn’t actually a great surprise when yesterday he let the dog out for a walk at 7 in the morning... and forgot to go out with him. Instead he came back to bed, where he slept soundly for 2 hours. At 9am the phone rang, and a lady explained that our dog was in her farmyard and could we collect him please? FL was bewildered. He thought the dog was in his basket in the front room? No, in fact Hero had taken himself for a 5-mile walk when he found himself alone outside the front door.

Lost – one memory. Foreboding.