Monday, August 25, 2014

Things to do when you run out of yarn

Demonstrate your swearing prowess... again.
 Mend your husband's sweater... again.
 Bake Blueberry Spelt Muffins (again!)
 Plan a new project.
 Start a new project.
 Buy more yarn!
 Pet a tractor.
 "Ooh - what big wheels you've got!"
 Go for a walk in the barley.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

FO: Richting Hat by Andrea Rangel

While waiting for the pattern/s for my test-knitting to arrive, I distracted myself by whipping up a quick hat for autumn.
Because it is most definitely autumn in these parts!  The temperature has not made it into double figures (celsius) any morning this week and I have been piling on the layers to stay warm at my desk.
This is the Richting Hat by Andrea Rangel.  The pattern popped up among the New Patterns on Ravelry a couple of weeks ago and I had been visiting it daily until I decided it just had to be purchased and knitted up.
I used half a ball of JC Rennie Supersoft Lambswool and it was done in 4 evenings of gentle knitting.  This wool is very soft and sheepy.  My hat will need a bath before I wear it in the rain, unless I want to reek of eau-de-mouton.  But at only £4 a ball, it is truly bargainous and a great substitute for Brooklyn Tweed Loft, as used by the designer.  It comes in some gorgeous colours too.  This is Oxford grey and was leftover from my Mystery Mitts project.  The cast-on edge used a tiny length of JC Rennie Unique Shetland in the colour Confetti.

The pattern is a simple texture of knits and purls - not the feather-and-fan stitch I was expecting.  So it was easier, and yet less easily-memorised than it might have been.
I made the smallest size on 3.5mm needles and it fits me really well.  I would knit the larger size if you have bigger hair.
Right now, I am all fired up to knit a stack of these in a multitude of colours, to squirrel away in various pockets in case I am caught out in The Weather.
But first... I have an urgent appointment with a Giant Crochet Blanket and an utterly compelling novel.
See you on the other side!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

FO: Stop Go Dinosaur Socks

What is it with little boys and dinosaurs?
My toddler son was obsessed by the creatures.
He later moved on to knights and pirates, but "diddors" will always have a special place in his heart.
At 21, he may no longer carry a tiny stegosaurus in his pocket (though I wouldn't put it past him) but I reckon he will appreciate some warm dinosaur socks this winter.
Red or green?  Which do you prefer?
One of each!
They are not quite matching, as there was a knot just past the heel turn of sock 2 and I didn't quite get the stripes re-aligned.
The difference is more noticeable at the toes.
But really?  I don't think anyone will be looking at his toes when there are dinosaurs dancing round his ankles!
Pattern:  The chart comes from the Brachiosockus pattern, but I adapted it to be top-down over 72 stitches, so the dinosaurs are the only thing these socks have in common with the original.  I have written extensive notes on my Ravelry page for these.
Yarn:  Online Supersocke 100 Paradise Color for the self-striping background; Online Supersocke 100 in plain black for heels and toes;  Yarn Yard Toddy sock for the red and green - leftovers from FL's Wallace socks and my Fred and George socks.

This is the last pair in my Summer of Socks season.  I have cast on for the Woodcutter's Socks, but other projects are taking up my knitterly energies right now, including some exciting test-knitting on the horizon - woo hoo!  Looking forward to that! :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pollyanna says: "Throw your arms in the air like you just don't care!"

There was a cow in the mustard field the other night.
And it would be easy to get stressed about that... but really?  All it took was a phone call and Daisy was on her way home again.
The barley is so very nearly ready to harvest that this weekend's storm could have been the waste of whole month's sunshine and a whole year's crop... but it has recovered, and the wind has dropped.
 See that purple stripe?  Almost totally off-pattern, because I mis-read the instructions.  But I like it, so what does it matter if it is "not right"?
And now that I have found the lurid green yarn I was searching for when I started Sock One, there is no reason why Sock Two should not have GREEN DINOSAURS (to be shouted out loud in a public place) instead of red :)
And yes I bought more sock yarn - but how could I resist when it is super-squishy and looks an awful lot like the pair in the picture? (Dublin Dye Company swing sock yarn; Woodcutter's Socks pattern by Rachel Coopey).
 Even though my Knitting Goddess / Rachel Coopey sock club yarn arrived and has an equally-enticing pattern to go with it?
 And even if the summer is almost over, there are still some beautiful evenings to enjoy before the darkness closes in.
And who knew that a pizza crust made out of finely-chopped cauliflower, oats and ground almonds could be so amazingly tasty? Not my darling FL, that's for sure! (Recipe from A Modern Way to Eat).

And if you are here for the Myeloma update - FL is doing OK. He may have dropped another vertebrae, in his upper back, but the Consultant decided not to take an x-ray.  We are all hoping the resulting pain will settle on its own.  My interpretation of this scenario is : "as long as we don't have evidence of progression, he can stay on Pomalidomide... but if we take an x-ray and it shows he is getting worse, we can't continue to prescribe the drug."  As the only alternative to Pom would be painkillers, he might as well take painkillers if he needs them.  And actually, he hasn't taken any since the weekend - phew!

Saturday, August 09, 2014

FO: Wise Owl's Poppy Field socks

 My Summer of Socks is storming on!
I finished another pair for me - this time in self-striping yarn from Twisted Limone, a UK-based purveyor of woolly self-striping gobstoppers.  If you want some of this yarn, you will have to stalk her Etsy shop between 3pm and 4pm (UK time) on a Saturday afternoon.  (I don't know what's going on today - her update is already live and it's only 12.30pm!)
She only dyes 3 or 4 balls a week, and every one is unique, though she does custom orders if you spot something in her Sold archives that you can't live without.  I have a habit of "checking" every Saturday... just in case there is a heart-stopping colourway on the shelf.  This was my first and only purchase to date:  the Poppy Field colour.  It is a 75% superwash wool / 25% nylon base and is slightly hairy.
The stripes are pretty even and I took great care to start the second sock at the same part of the sequence as the first... but as you can see, I didn't quite manage an identical pair.
Sock One has a pink mini-stripe on the front of the foot...

While Sock Two has a broader stripe of lime green...

 But if I really cared about stuff like that I would knit "after-thought heels" instead of using patterns with traditional heel-flaps.
I started the heel flap on Sock One at the end of a black stripe, while the second one (with the same number of rows in the leg) started on the third row of lime green.
I used Kate Atherley's (free) pattern:  "Wise Hilda's Basic Ribbed Sock" over 60 stitches.
It has an unusually narrow heel-base, which sits underneath my foot rather than cupping the heel.  I am not sure if I like this or not:  I will wear this pair for a while before I decide whether or not to knit the pattern again.  I am very happy with the ribbing, which made them more fun to knit than a plain sock and shows off the stripes pretty well.
There is something almost Wicked-Witch-of-the-West about these socks!
I like them a lot!

P.S. Before you ask, those are indeed new shoes in the top picture.  Studded Doc Martens!  I found them on ebay.  The previous owner said she had only worn them once and they are in perfect condition.  I had hoped they would work with summer skirts but I need thick socks underneath to fit properly.  I am pleased to report I can drive in them and they are very comfortable - woo hoo!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Making it Work

Goodness - that was an unexpected surge in comments!  Thank you all for your supportive words on my latest sewing venture "Le Top Victor" :)
It was interesting that FL had made no comment on this garment until I mentioned my surprise at the number of notes I had received from readers.  "Really?"  he said "That's odd - it's not your best.  It's a bit... maternity".  Great.  At least he didn't say "It makes you look like the side of the barn" though perhaps that what he was thinking!
However, having a stubborn streak, I was not going to give up on this top so easily.  I love the fabric, the neckline and sleeve length please me, and actually I love the swishy swooshy freedom of such a loose shape:  perfect on a hot summer's day!
Ah.  The problem is, we are running out of hot summer days for this year and the North East wind is starting to blow a little chilly-ly.  So I hereby wish to thank those intelligent commenters who advised me to wear a cami / vest underneath.  Well duh
I have been muttering about needing a cami / vest-thing ever since I made my Camber top out of semi-transparent voile.  But my ethically twisted nature made the thought of purchasing such a garment horribly tortuous.
Perhaps buying Asda jeans made any other purchase look like fairtrade organic nirvana, but I just sucked it up and bought a couple of long-line modal camis (one navy and one black) from "Me and Em".  I had been browsing their sale in a wistful way for days.  Of course, these were not reduced.... pah!
I was pleasantly surprised to discover they were made in Portugal.  There is a fair chance they were a more ethical choice than the Asda jeans.
It is not that I don't care about ethics anymore, so much as I am worn out by the self-imposed requirement to wear a halo and feel not-quite-put-together as a result.
I had managed until now without simple black and navy cardigans (Boden), essential camis (Me and Em) and a pair of skinny jeans (Asda)... but the "need" for these garments did not go away in at least two years of searching for the perfect ethical option.  And I actually sent perfectly good me-mades to the charity shop because I could not make them work without such basic wardrobe staples to underpin them.
All of which is a long-winded mea culpa:  Forgive me readers, for I have sinned.
Never mind, eh?  Can I move on now?
What I wore today:
me-made watermelon linen Deer and Doe Chardon skirt
me-made top Victor
Me and Em long-line modal cami in navy
Boden black cardigan (from the sale)
My granny's "jet" beads
Insanely blue tights from the bargain bin in Asda (50p!)
Two-tone brogues, an English handmade shoe manufacturer's sample found on ebay in 2011 for £stupid-cheap, recently resoled.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

FO: Le Top Victor, Republique du Chiffon

Bonjour mes amis!
I have been playing with French sewing patterns again.
This is the downloadable pdf "Le Top Victor" by Republique du Chiffon, available here.
You would not think it from these pictures, but I lengthened it by 5cm.
It is definitely supposed to be a cropped top!
I will spare you the out-takes where the wind flipped it right up - eek!
Being very square, it catches the breeze and there is absolutely nothing to keep it down.
This picture shows you just how square it is...
But cute?
I think so.
Which might be a problem for me.
I think I might be past the stage where I can get away with "cute".
Mouton comme l'agneau, peut-etre?
(Mutton dressed as lamb?)

Victor by RDC, size 36
Cosmic Blue by Atelier Brunette.  I bought 2 metres from Guthrie and Ghani, which was enough for this and a squeezed-out "Top RDC" (to follow).  You could probably make it out of 1.3 metres at this length.
Because I could not bear to waste any of this fabric, I gave myself a headache trying to cut two tops out of 2 metres.  The "bonus" top may be a close fit as I had to shave off 1 cm from the back piece - tsk!
This is supposed to be a beginner-level pattern, but you do need to take special care when adding your 1cm seam allowances to the neck bands and sleeve pieces and sew really accurate seams, as the slightest difference between the outside and inside layers will cause you problems when you put them together.
This fabric shows every little pucker, and I ended up with several permanent wrinkles on my sleeve-bands - grrr!

I am really not sure what I think about the finished top.
I am wearing it here with my new jeans... and I am not sure what I think about them either!  They are not even slightly ethical (so that is not up for discussion because I feel guilty enough) and are the skinniest jeans I have ever worn.  I feel like I am wearing a pair of very thick tights.
They are "Wonderfit" jeans from George at Asda and cost £18.  I bought one pair for me and one for The Girl, both in the same size (small) because they are supposed to fit anyone from a size 8 to a size 12...and I think they probably do.
But although they are comfortable, I am out of my comfort zone.
And the same goes for the top.