Wednesday, December 31, 2014

On the Eve

Celeriac and Apple Soup - Happy Christmas!
Recipe here.
7 days without an internet connection.  Did you miss me?  I missed you!
A salutatory lesson in digital reliance.
We are 8.5 kilometres of brittle unburied cable from the nearest Telephone Exchange.  The end of the line.  Every time someone gets connected further upstream, our connection dwindles and fades, until it dies.  Mr BT says there is nothing much he can do, unless we move house, but for now we are back online.
So  while I might declutter, I dare not "go paperless". That would be very very foolish indeed.
Meantime... I have been knitting.
This is the sock I cast on on Christmas Eve (Regia Colorations 3311).  I finished the first one in the hospital waiting room yesterday.
All is well.  More Pomalidomide.  That is ten months now.  Wow.

And The Girl got a new Stovetop hat in green baby llama Miski, when my first attempt at her Christmas hat (Skiff) turned out to be ginormous.  I am going to offer that one to The Boy, who has a headful of dreadlocks to keep warm.
I tested my new Turkish spindle and made some 2-ply lumpy red wool.
And then I cracked out some Norwegian wool / bamboo mix and managed this:
Oh yeah, baby, I made laceweight!
I am a very happy spinner!

I am halfway through my Infuscate Curl.
And on the final panel of my Kex Blanket.

I finished listening to Outlander, which my son says sounds like "Fifty Shades of Tartan".  I won't be bothering with the rest of the series.  Sorry if you are a fan.
I have The Paying Guests ready to go.
And I am reading Upstairs at the Party.

If this seems a little rushed, that's because it is.
If my internet connection is doomed, I don't hold out much hope for this blog.  Sigh.

And on that cheerful note:  Happy 2015 when it arrives!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Socking with Gingerbread Aliens

Happy Christmas Eve to all of you!
I have an unexpected Finished Object to share:  my Inge socks.
These were from the Rachel Coopey / Knitting Goddess Little Bit Club, September edition.
It is a lovely pattern, which reminds me of a summer seashore - just the thing to wear on a wild December night by the woodburner!
Those travelling cables caused me a lot of stress:  I couldn't seem to find the best way to divide the stitches across my dpns and kept dropping stitches.
I must have knit the pair twice before I finished.

So when it came to choosing a project for the Christmas Eve Cast On with Little Bobbins Knits, I was determined to keep it simple.
This is the Regia yarn I bought after seeing a pair of Susan B Anderson's socks (Colorations 3311).
These will be my first-ever vanilla socks - yes, really!
I can't wait to see the Fake Isle patterning start to appear, all by itself!

I have lots more to show you, but my internet connection has been sporadic and I don't want to push my luck.

So I will leave you with a quick taste of our Christmas Gingerbread aliens :)
Every one has a character all of its own.
That's Bartholomew in the middle. He's a bit of a bully.
Who knew raisin eyes could look so creepy?
They are delicious though!

The recipe is from the Hummingbird Bakery, here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Twas The Knit Before Christmas

I had a wild weekend of scrubbing and vacuuming in the wake of our painters.
There was plaster dust everywhere.
Not good for FL's lungs, on top of a heavy cold!
But almost everything is shiny and clean now. 
Look at the glare from that fresh white gloss on the windowsill!
I just need to chuck out the dog on Christmas Eve and scrub the floor of paw-prints, so that for one day at least I can risk letting my ball of yarn roll off the sofa...!
Although I didn't have much knitting time over the weekend, I am making good progress on my Kex Blanket.  By Friday, I should be ready to start the final slice of tartan.  After that, I "just" have to work the border and it will be done - woo hoo!
I only managed to squeeze in one lace repeat of my Infuscate Curl.  This beast requires good daylight and maximum concentration.
It is going to be lovely!
In sock news, I ripped out more of Inge than I knit in the past week.  I had dropped not one but two stitches in the most meandering sections of travelling stitches.  I tried looping them back up, but got into a terrible tangle.  So I did the sensible thing and ripped back a week's-worth of lunchtime knitting.  I don't think I will finish this pair in 2014 after all.
But who can tell?  I might just decide to sit down and do it til it's done, so I can start 2015 with a whole heap of finished objects and new cast-ons - exciting!

Friday, December 12, 2014

And Lo, Pandora's Box was Opened...

Thank you everyone for your balanced enthusiasm / horror at my ruffle-tastic coat fever.
I think it may have been the paint fumes (we are having the front room redecorated right now - yay!)
The idea has not gone away.
It is still bubbling at the back of my consciousness, waiting to re-erupt.
But I decided to be "sensible" and try out a simpler Oki-Style pattern before throwing 2.8 metres of wool into the abyss.
So... I bought the patterns for this top and skirt:
 And these trousers.
And then I purchased two suiting remnants from Sherwood Fabrics (who sell the lovely green coat material) for the skirt and trousers.
And a piece each of forest green cotton lawn and  (ahem) burgundy silk to make the top, twice.
Because clearly that was the only sensible thing to do with two weeks off work over Christmas and no discernible fabric stash to fall back on.
Sensible, non?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Kick Up The Sew-Jo?

Somebody talk me down...

 This is the Arte coat pattern from Oki Style on Etsy.
Wouldn't it look amazing in this green wool check?
Has anyone used an Oki Style pattern?
Is this a very bad case of cold-weather-induced madness?

Or could this be exactly the challenge I need to get myself sewing again?

EDITED TO ADD:  I have since discovered that you can view the sewing instructions for Oki Style patterns before buying:  how clever!  So I now know that this pattern is (possibly) less scary than it looks, and requires 2.8m of fabric to make my size.
This facility is available on the main Oki Style website, where prices are in Euros and appear cheaper than on Etsy.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Yokes and Curls and All The Things

We are barely into December, but already I am excited about planning for 2015.
This is probably Significant Birthday Whiplash.
2015 will be the year I knit from stash.  I know I have said that before, but this time it doesn't feel like a penance, it feels like a reward! There are so many lovely yarns in there, just waiting for the right project to come along, and there has been a recent avalanche of "right projects" added to my Ravelry queue.

You might recognise this project?  Yes, I have returned to my Kex Blanket.
If I persevere I could finish it this year :)
After that?

I mentioned to FL that there are 7 cardigans I want to knit.  He was puzzled:  "What are you going to do with 7 cardigans?"  Um... wear them?
No, he doesn't get it, does he?  So I muttered something about how it takes me 18 months to knit a garment, so not to worry.
But honestly?  I would definitely enjoy owning and wearing 7 handknitted cardigans!
Cockatoo Brae and Epistrophy top my "Yokes" list, and I have appropriate yarn at the ready, so I will commit to those for the time being.
Kolmarden Jacket
Although... I have a yearning to knit Kolmarden from the latest Knitscene, using black shetland wool held together with neon pink sock yarn...?

In Sock Plan Land, I still have several pairs of my 2014 Little Bit Club socks to knit.

Final instalment of the Little Bit Club
I changed my club to the SparkLynne base for the final 3 months, and now that it comes to it, I am reluctant to "waste" the sparkles on socks!
So I might shake things up and mis-match yarns and patterns.  Who says I have to use the "right" yarn for the pattern when I have an alternative available?
I am still working on my second Inge sock.

Second Inge sock
I had hoped by now to be immersed in test-knitting shawls for an up-and-coming designer, but I clearly have not played the game correctly, and after initial enthusiasm for my skillz, the designer in question ignored my Ravelry PMs.
I suspect my lack of social media activity may have marked me down as an Old Fogey.  And the designer in question probably noticed that I hadn't actually knitted any of their previous designs, and selected test-knitters from the existing fan base.  I guess that's fair.  Shrugs.
But yeah, I'm disappointed.  I will just have to suck it up and buy the patterns when they are released.
Totally worth it - they are fab.
Meantime, I have developed a serious thing for Hunter Hammersen's new Curls collection.
In my head, I will smash through my stash of luxury single skeins knitting through this book of delicious designs.
My first Curl:  Infuscate
Perfect gift-knitting too!  (Not for this Christmas obviously.)
I have the e-book.  I was all set to treat myself to the print copy, but the shipping cost was extortionate, doubling the cost of the book.  So I have printed out the whole thing to add to my ring binder of "2015 Knits"... because we all know that I ignore my Ravelry queue, but I can't avoid the folder on the window sill next to my knitting seat!
I started with the trickiest pattern in the book:  Infuscate.
It's a doozy.  For knitting in daylight only.
Prehistoric Barn-Raising Square
Other stuff
Who remembers my Barn Raising Squares blanket?
It is hilarious to think that I expected to knit one square a week and be finished in a year!
But I am besotted by blankets right now.  So who knows - I might get back to it, and clear out all my sock-weight scraps in the process.
This Time I Mean It.
Gosh - that sounds a lot like a plan!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

All I Want For Christmas

I have been stalking Etsy for weeks now, in the hope that Threads Thru Time would have a Turkish spindle update.  And kapow!
Mine all mine - thank you FL, you just bought me something a great deal more manageable than a giant spinning wheel :)
This is their "small" Turkish spindle, which weighs only 0.9 ounces and is therefore capable of spinning fingering weight yarn.  Unlike some other little spindles, it still has a 6 inch shaft, so holds more yarn than the really tiny ones.
And it is a beautiful colour too.
It would have been great if I could have sourced this within the UK, but the only makers I have found produce much heavier spindles.  My first Turkish spindle, from Kerry Spindles in Bridlington is great for spinning a thicker yarn, but my ambitions lie elsewhere.  Imagine if I could spin the yarn to knit a shawl or a pair of socks?!
Bounce bounce bounce...
So that's what I'm getting for Christmas.

In the spirit of the Yarn Harlot, I would like to  throw some gift inspiration your way, for knitters and non-knitters.  Because we all have bottoms.
I am not being sponsored for these links.

Ethical Pants!
I already knew about Pants to Poverty, and my self-stitched undies are based on the PtP basic pant design.  But I didn't know they offered a subscription scheme, Pants For Life.  Fresh knickers through the post every month of the year! That is the link for women, but they make man-pants too.  Cool beanz.
Man-Pants from Pants To Povery

In the same vein, but in somewhat slinkier fabrics and styles, I discovered Who Made Your Pants. This is a workers' co-operative.  Not only do they train refugees to make pants for a fair wage, their fabrics are sourced from big companies at the end of each season.  I am truly impressed by their business model.  They also offer a subscription scheme.  And if you are thinking "£21.50 for a pair of pants, WTF?!" think a little harder.  Your purchase is empowering another woman by giving her a job, an income, a training opportunity and a community.  Just saying.
They don't offer man-pants at the moment, but hope to do so soon.
Rosalind pants from Who Made Your Pants

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Myeloma Update: Keep Taking The Tablets

A glimpse of yesterday's sunrise.
FL was back at the hospital.
All is well.
He was prescribed another month of Pomalidomide.
We are so very very fortunate.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

FO: The Big Red Doily aka Old World Blanket by Abigail Phelps

2014 will forever be known as The Year of the Blanket.
First there was the Mysterious Crochet Blanket.
Then there was the Big Red Doily.
I won the pattern in a giveaway on Heather's Knitting Go Podcast.
This is the Old World Shawl or Blanket by Abigail Phelps, from her Hiraed Casgliad collection.
I was very excited but rather overwhelmed by the prospect of knitting a laceweight gradient-dyed shawl in this pattern. It would be beautiful, but I didn't think I would actually wear it.  What a waste of all that work!
Modelled shot
During one of several online quests to top up cotton supplies for my Mysterious Crochet number, I noticed that the shop also sold Cascade Eco Plus - ooh!  I fell for this glorious rich cherry red (Scarlet) and scooped up a couple of skeins, which I thought would be enough for a small blanket, or possibly a cardigan... either way it meant I could have free postage on my cotton order!
I can't quite remember what tipped me over into the decision to knit the Old World blanket. 
Partway through, I realised I needed a lot more than two skeins, and bought another three.
In the end it took three full 250g skeins plus 110g of the fourth (860g total).
(So I still have 390g left in the stash to play with - woo hoo!)
This is not Little Red Riding Hood
I used a 200m (edit: I meant 200cm obviously!) cable on my Knitpro Spectra interchangeables.  This was a good choice of needle:  it did not come undone, not even once, despite a lot of heavy stitch-shuffling.  I would not have welcomed a detached cable on that many stitches!
It is a really straightforward pattern, in the sense that the leafy lace flows steadily across the diameter in a logical way.  However, I went wrong at the top of the second chart on page 4 of the pattern.  Noticing that the final ten rows were labelled with two set of numbers, I assumed this meant you worked them twice.  Wrong!
It was only when I was contemplating my border chart choice (garter or lace) that I realised that neither progressed naturally from my row 183... and that there was another unlabelled chart at the top of page 5.
As each row was taking me about an hour to work by this stage, the prospect of unravelling ten rows did not appeal.
I PM'ed the designer on Ravelry and she confirmed my fears.  She suggested working the additional unlabelled chart before the border (another ten rows), or else realigning my lace by moving the stitch marker.  I thought I would go for option two.
However, it wasn't right.  It just didn't sync up properly.
Modified garter lace border
So instead I threw caution to the wind and came up with my own variation of the garter border.
And it worked!
Impossible to photograph indoors!
So here we have it:  the Big Red Doily.  Even unblocked. it is plenty big enough for a single bed or snuggling on the sofa.  It should save its recipient a small fortune in heating bills this winter!  And will be so much more practical than a hand-knitted jumper, which would require more frequent and careful washing.
Now, where's that Kex blanket I was knitting...?