Monday, 29 April 2013

Well now what?

So blog week is over and we are all now left lost and without guidance to pick up our blogs where  we left off. Or not. Actually this isn't how i feel at all.  Blog week was amazing for ideas, both from things I explored and would like to pursue further and also from brilliant posts I saw on other people's blogs.  Anyway, this is something I'll to talk about another day, because today I am here:
Actually I have been here since Saturday on a family holiday to Porth in Cornwall.  We are staying in a super luxurious apartment with that rather impressive view.  We will enjoying the next few days by walking, visiting the beach, the zoo and the odd cider farm and hopefully I will get plenty of knitting time.  I've only brought socks with me as they have been sadly neglected recently.

I also brought Sam's Dashing gloves, but they only needed the ends weaving in so they are now done and Sam finally had his birthday present!

I'm really pleased with how they turned out and Sam seems to like them.  I'm also really loving the yarn I used, Drops Nepal. It's soft enough to wear against the skin but I think it should hold up well to wear (of course only time tell on that one) and knitting up very nicely.  I can see it being a go to aran weight in the future, especially as it is really good value for money too.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Day Seven: Looking Forward

One year from now, when the 5th Knitting and Crochet Blog Week rolls around, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?

Last time I participated in Blog Week (2 years ago, I decided to skip last year having very recently sprogged) we were asked something similar and that post can be found here.  The essence of it was that I would like to try colourwork and I outlined 5 steps that I would follow to achieve that goal.  Out of those 5 steps I have sort of completed just one, learn to spin.  The idea being that I could spin small amounts of several colours to save me buying a whole bunch of yarn I would only use a little of.  I haven't actually done this, but I do have some fibre all ready to go, I have 45g each of 5 colours but obviously I've yet to spin any.  So aside from that the whole post stands really.  The only change that I would make would be to add a couple more projects that I would like to make.  Here is everything in my favourites that I have tagged as colourwork.  This time next year I would really like to have made at least one of them.

Because I think it is a little boring to just regurgitate a 2 year old post, I'm also going to add another goal.  Crochet.  Technically I can crochet, but I do it so rarely that I don't do it very well and because of that I do it rarely.  It's a bit of a vicious circle.  I have started a couple of projects recently but they weren't turning out right and I found it frustrating so I gave up and did some knitting instead.  So this time next year I would also like to have crocheted at least one thing.

So, I hope to see you next year with my completed colourwork and crocheted items.  Blog week has been great fun, yet again.  I've really enjoyed reading all your posts and have been overjoyed to have so much lovely feedback on my posts.  Thanks everybody!
Just because this post has no photos, here's one of Cassie practicing for next years blog week!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Day 6: A Tool to Covet

Write about your favourite knitting or crochet (or spinning, etc) tool. It can either be a tool directly involved in your craft (knitting needles or crochet hook) or something that makes your craft more pleasurable – be it a special lamp, or stitch markers.

Is it an item that you would recommend to others, and if so for which applications/tasks do you think it is most suited. Conversely, do you have a tool/accessory that you regret buying? Why does it not work for you?

As soon as I saw this topic I knew that my ultimate tool, the one that I could never do without would be one of the ultimate triumvirate of knitting and spinning, the ballwinder, the swift and the niddy noddy.  While I can happily say that all three are pretty much indispensable to me, I've decided there can only be one winner, one ultimate tool that you can pry from my cold dead hands.  So, which will it be?

In order of acquisition the ball winder came first.  I can't be sure exactly what prompted me to buy it, but I wouldn't be surprised it if was attempting to ball 2 skeins of Filatura di Crosa Centolavaggi by hand that did it.  Phew!  Anyway, the ball winder arrived in my life around about the same time as sock knitting and was immediately put into good use winding skeins of lovely handpainted sock yarn into lovely cakes of handpainted sock yarn.  Of course it wasn't long until I realised that the ballwinder was good but it was not great without some way of managing the skein to be wound.  I tried to get by without a swift..
Photo from this blog post
..but I soon ran out of ingenious ways to manage and even sooner ran out of volunteers to stand with their arms out for me, so I gave in and bought my swift.  I loved it so much I blogged about it.  As with many such  useful tool I became complacent and started to take it for granted until a few months ago when, horror of horrors, I couldn't find it anywhere.  I think I thought I didn't wind yarn that often but as soon as I lost my swift it seemed like I needed yarn that was in a skein for everything I wanted to knit.  I got by by choosing other projects, by bribing my sister with handspun to help me and eventually by attempting to wind a skein draped around a chair back.  I think the resulting mess from that little experiment will haunt my dreams for a good long while!  It was at that point I started looking for a replacement.  Of course I couldn't find one that was anywhere near the price of the one I'd lost but I was beginning to think I'd have to splurge when, joy of joys, I found my swift.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I did a happy dance!

My most recent acquisition was my niddy noddy as it's not something I really needed until I started spinning.  I was almost tempted just to pick it outright as my favourite tool just because it's called a niddy noddy, but that would be silly.  Again this was a tool that I put off buying for far too long as I was getting by by wrapping my yarn around the legs of a stool.
This was kind of exhausting and took forever.  I'm not sure, but I suspect that I was pregnant when I finally broke down and just bought the niddy noddy.  I've no idea why I waited so long, that thing is magic.  Perfect skeins in about a tenth of the time.

So, verdict time, which one is my ultimate tool?  First, the ball winder is helpful but I could wind a ball pretty easily by hand if I had to.  I wouldn't enjoy it, but I could do it.  The niddy noddy is great and saves a lot of time, but there are other ways to make a skein.  Slower ways for sure, but ways nonetheless.  But my swift, as I have recently discovered, I just cannot live without and therefore can now be dubbed my ultimate knitting tool.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Day Five: Something a Bit Different

It’s the annual challenge to blog in a way different to how you normally blog. You may choose to create a podcast, or vlog, create a wordless post or write in verse.

I had a plan for today's post, it was going to be awesome (if I do say so myself!).  Unfortunately this plan relied rather heavily on the cooperation 13 month old so of course it was a total fail.  So please imagine that what follows is a video of a baby giving a great long speech in baby talk complete with hilarious gesturing and subtitles 'translating' what she is saying rather than just a transcript and a couple of photos.  Thank you.

"This is a Cassie Political Broadcast, brought to you by the Toys not Yarn Party."
"After taking a close look at Mummy's Blog this week we have concluded, without a doubt, that she has too much yarn.  We believe that is is taking up more than her allotted amount of space and certain parties (notably myself and the cats) are aggrieved that they are not allowed to play with it."
"We are therefore recommending , nay, insisting that she takes herself in hand and immediately embarks upon a Stashdown.  We propose that she commences the stashdown by knitting me a nice cotton shrug to go with my party dress that I will be wearing to a wedding in May, followed by a little vest too keep the chill off on summer evenings.  We believe that it would then be acceptable for her to knit herself something nice, preferably something large that uses a lot of yarn.  A cardigan perhaps?  We hope that Mummy will put our recommendations into practice forthwith and we expect her to document her achievements meticulously on her blog for our inspection.  Thank you."

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Day Four: Colour Review

What are your favourite colours for knitted or crocheted projects. Have a think about what colours you seem to favour when yarn shopping and crafting.

Only after writing this part of your post should you then actually look to see what colours you have used in your projects. Make a quick tally of what colours you have used in your projects over the past year and compare it to the colours you have written about. Compare this, in turn, to the colours that are most dominant in your yarn stash – do they correlate?

Now think back to your house animal - do the colours you have chosen relate to your animal in anyway - if you are in the house of peacock, for example, are your projects often multicoloured and bright?

I like bright colours, I love pinks, turquoises, lime greens and I especially like them all together. However, I know without even looking that my stash does not reflect this at all.  This is very much a choice and something I have given a lot of thought to.  When I buy clothes  I do tend to buy colours and the brighter the better. 
Stripes patterns and great big details are all welcome in my wardrobe and as a result good number of my clothes do not go together very well.  So, in the interests of wearability I tend to keep the colours of my knits fairly conservative.  If I'm going to spend a lot of time and effort hand knitting a garment I'm going to want to get a lot of wear out of it and therefore a bright pink and orange striped cardigan is not going to be a winner.
There are exceptions to this rule in the form of sock yarn and my own handspun.  As far as I am concerned socks do not need to match anything as they are largely hidden so I like them to be kind of loud and/or variegated or stripey.  I occasionally buy solid colours so that I can knit socks with stitch patterns that may get lost in a busier colourway.  It is with my handspun that my bee-like tendencies manifest themselves the most.  Spinning solids bores me rigid, but I'm finding it hard to know what to knit with my growing collection of single skeins in crazy colours.  I really want to spin enough yarn for a larger project in sensible colours but the lure of things like this is almost irresistible.
My solution has been to implement a buddy system where I choose two fibres, one interesting and one plain and I spin a bobbin of one followed by a bobbin of the other until they are both finished and can be plied one after the other.  Not only is this a way of controlling my urge to flit from project to project, I've found that is actually spurring me on as I spin faster to finish one bobbin and get on to the next.
So, now it's finally time to have a look at the colours in my stash.  Seeing as I was making all those lovely charts about my stash the other day, I thought I'd make just one more.  Voila

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Day Three: Infographic

There are many ways of conveying information on a blog; text and images being the two most widely used. Many infographics combine both these elements to provide a visual way of presenting text information. Make your own infographic (no fancy imaging software needed, you can draw it on paper and photograph it if you want) to convey any element of your craft(s). It can be just for fun or a thoroughly researched presentation of an idea/finding.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Day Two: A Mascot Project

Your task today is to either think of or research a project that embodies that house/animal. It could be a knitting or crochet pattern – either of the animal itself or something that makes you think of the qualities of that house. Alternatively it could be a type or colour of yarn, or a single button. Whatever you choose, decide upon a project and blog about how and why it relates to your house/creature. You do not have to make this project! It is simply an exercise in blogging about how you come to decide upon what projects to make. Try and blog about the journey which inspiration and investigating patterns, yarns, stitches, (etc) can often guide you through. You may wish to make a collage or 'mood board' to present several ideas, or even sketch out your own design.

Before I start today I just want to make a comment about yesterday.  I absolutely loved reading yesterday's posts and comments and was really encouraged to see so many people identify as bees.  I think I felt like I was a lone 'flitter' unable to knuckle down and finished anything while every other knitter was managing to sit down to just one project and knit it til it was done.  I feel better now!

So, on to todays exercise which was an interesting one that made me really think about how I approach my projects.  Frankly, by the end I realised that it's a miracle that I ever settle on a project at all.

I have 2 usual starting points, either yarn or a specific garment type.  This time I'm just going in with a keyword, BEE and seeing what I come up with.  The process is very much the same although the starting point is different.  As usual my only real resource is Ravelry, occasionally I'll flip through books for inspiration but most of them are on Ravelry anyway.

I begun my search by typing 'bee' into the pattern search.  I got loads of results so I narrowed them down to clothing and because I immediately saw some really cute kids clothes I narrowed it down again to only include baby clothes.  You can see my search here.  Although I was really looking for a literal bee garment I spotted a few really cute things to save in my favourites for later, i.e this adorable little Twiggy dress.  Whenever I'm deciding on a project my favourites list grows immensely, I do very often go back and remove quite a lot of things that it is clear I will never make.  An immediate contender (could it really be that easy?) was Busy Bee a cute little bee hoodie, especially as I have been looking out for the perfect baby hoodie for quite some time now.  Could this be the one?  Maybe, but not for this project because I saw this Baby Jumper which set my mind thinking that a little bee dress would be super cute, perhaps with a fabric sunhat for the summer.  It wouldn't be the first bee dress I've made either!
Slightly crap bee costume made out of t-shirts!
Time for a new search then.  This time I selected 'dress' from the main pattern page and went on to refine it from there.  Again I selected baby as the size and this time I chose to only look at free patterns, simply to narrow down the number of resuklts I was getting.  Again I ended up favouriting things unrelated to this project like this Lovely Easy Knitted and Material Dress  but I also came across this Striped Bubble Dress which also seems like a contender for my bee dress.  So now I have 2 in the running, how do I choose?  Well because I am lazy I decide that I will knit the one which requires the thickest yarn, but then I realise that both are knit with 4-ply and around 3mm needles.  Immediately I have gone off both dresses and go back to my search, this time selecting DK as the weight.  I don't want anything any thicker because I don't really want a heavy winter dress.  This time a lovely short sleeved dress called Apples catches my attention, knit with stripes instead of colourwork this would make a lovely bee dress.  Perfect with leggings or tights and good for our Great British 'Summertime' where little sundresses often sit in the wardrobe waiting for a heatwave that never comes.  Aaand there we have it, after a few twists and turns a project is born.  Time to dive into the stash and find something suitable, I know there is no yellow in there at all but that's nothing a bit of food dye can't cure....

Monday, 22 April 2013

Day One: The House Cup

A bit like Harry Potter but not quite, this year's Knit and Crochet Blog Week is split into 4 houses.  Don your favourite knitted or crocheted hat and let it guide you to which house you'll be in.

In my mind it goes like this: I get my letter summoning me to Fluffwarts School of Knitcraft and Stitchery, pack my bags with plenty of knitting for the long journey on the Fluffwarts Express and arrive for the sorting.  The sorting beanie would barely touch my head before shouting 'HOUSE OF BEE!'  Seriously, there was no ambiguity here, no procrastinating about my choices, I'm a bee through and through.
The House of Bee: Bees are busy and industrious, but can flit from one interesting project to the next as bright and shiny things capture their interest.

Regular readers will know that I have been trying to stop myself from flitting from project to project by limiting myself to one big project and two sock projects at a time.  This is working well, I've stuck to it so far and even though I still hover between these projects it means that I do actually finish things from time to time.  The main problem with being a bee is that sometimes I'm working on so much concurrently that I rarely get the satisfaction of an FO.  Sometimes one project will hold my attention from start to finish and I've noticed that they are small things like hats and gloves so I'm making a conscious effort to knit more of those things because, for me, the thrill of an FO can't be beat.

However, while I have managed to impose some discipline into my knitting, I am still continally tempted by the sweet nectar of (whisper it) other crafts. I can be knitting away and all of a sudden I'll find myself wandering into the dining room and sitting behind the spinning wheel for a bit.  From the spinning wheel I can see my handcarders and the big bag of alpaca I've been working on, so I'll make a few rolags before thinking that maybe it's time I finished up sewing that little bag I can see draped over the top of the sewing machine just there......  On and on it goes.  So the question is do I try to curb these impulses, maybe get some kind of craft rota going for myself, or do I embrace my bee like nature and just accept that it is who I am?  

Sunday, 21 April 2013


After what has felt like an eternal winter we have finally had a peek at the sun over the last few days.  Whether it's here to stay or not I don't know, but I'm feeling confident that we won't now be plunged back into the depths of winter again.  This is quite a relief as we are are off to the Cornwall coast at the end of April for a lovely family holiday.  Of course, this is England and it could quite conceivably rain for the whole week but I'm choosing to believe that it will be fine.  I will take plenty of knitting though, just in case.

By then I should have finished Sam's Dashing gloves, the first one is done and the second one shouldn't be too far behind.  Not that it really matters because I'm fairly sure he'll just put them in a drawer until next winter now.  Sigh.
This lovely weather has also put me in a bit of a spring cleaning mood, which is highly unusual for me.  Our dining room also serves double duty as my craft room and frankly it is not really doing a good job of being either.  So I'm clearing out, rearranging and formulating a plan to make it work much better.  Unfortunately I'm at the 'breaking eggs' stage of the tidying omelette and all I've done is made a HUGE mess.  I guess I know what I'll be doing with my weekend then!

Saturday, 20 April 2013


I've been busy carding and spinning my big bag of alpaca recently.  I've still got a long way to go, but the first skein is done and I'm fairly pleased with it.  As it is my first time spinning longdraw the yarn is not entirely even although as a 3-ply this is really only noticeable in odd places.  The woollen technique also means that while this is a wonderfully squidgy yarn it is fairly hairy and might be a bit too tickly for some garments.
So, vital statistics:
Weight - 84g
Length - 54m
Fibre content - 85% alpaca 15% mohair and sparkle
WPI - 10
Obviously this is just an estimate, but when I've finished the bag I should have around 200m of lovely aran weight yarn.  All I need to do now is trawl Ravelry and get some ideas of what to make with it.  Oh and finish spinning the rest, of course!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Hobbycraft made a liar of me!

After my recent assertion that it is very difficult for me to go yarn shopping I found myself being completely proven wrong just yesterday!  My MIL called me and asked if I would like to go to Hobbycraft (big store full of craft supplies), I initially said no due to the copious amount of snot pouring out of Cassie's nose but I was persuaded that some fresh air would do her good.  As we set off I was pretty sure I would come home empty handed, most of the stuff there I can get much cheaper online and the yarn selection is pretty poor.  MIL had a voucher to spend though so I thought I could have fun helping her choose some things.  As is always the way she came home empty handed and I came home with 400g of sock yarn!

However, as this little lot cost me just over £8 I refuse to feel bad about it.  In fact I'm pretty impressed that I managed to leave it at that.  Each of the 50g balls were £1 and they normally sell for around £4.70.  Total bargain.  And as for MIL, she was a bit disappointed particularly as she liked the look of a wooden peg loom which turned out to be just for display purposes, so (providing she doesn't get one for herself in the mean time) that's her birthday present sorted this year. 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


With Morpheus sadly out of the way I found myself free to begin another project and, as luck would have it a lovely woolly package arrived today from Wool Warehouse.
It's all Drops yarn for me to try, I think the grand total for all 13 balls was around £26 so I really havent lost anything if I hate some of it.  I was pretty good I have projects in mind for almost all of it.  I'm particularly excited about using the bright blue and pink Nepal to make a really eyecatching sweater for Cassie, but it's the grey Nepal that I have cast on with first to make some gloves for my brother.
A little while back he complained that he was getting cold hands whilst working in his office and let's face it what knitter can resist that kind of provocation?  I had planned to make him some for his birthday in mid March but I really didn't have time so I popped a little IOU in with his card.  My brother is kind of awesome and really didn't mind that at all so I'm now going to make an extra effort to get them done for him as soon as I can.  Add that to the fact that it is beginning to look like the eternal winter we seem to have had this year may finally be coming to end so I'd best get him his gloves before he no longer needs them.  As today's title suggests I am using the Dashing pattern from Knitty.  I knit the original Fetchings a few years back and found them to be a nice and easy knit so I don't anticipate any problem with these ones.  I know I could certainly do with a win after my recent knitting disappointment.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Morpheus Verdict

I had to agree, after a little thought, that buying more yarn for Cassie's Morpheus was probably the most sensible course of action.  So, buy more yarn is exactly what I did.  Unfortunately none of it was for Morpheus!  Where I live buying yarn is not generally a case of going to a shop and buying it, there really is just nowhere with a good selection around here.  Instead I headed to the one website where I knew I could buy the yarn I needed and added it to my basket, but there was just nothing else I really wanted so I didn't check out.  Then I thought I'd just have a look at some other sites and ended up ordering 13 balls of various Drops yarns, none of which help me at all with the Morpheus problem.  Realistically I think I'm going to end up ripping back and actually I don't feel that sad about it.  The Cygnet yarn was really not a good fit and there was a constant niggling doubt that it might not fit when I'd finished.  It's a nice pattern though so maybe I'll give it another go before too long.

Anyway, every cloud has a silver lining and I am now eagerly awaiting the arrival of a postman weighed down with all of my lovely new yarn.

Friday, 5 April 2013


I've been beaving away on Cassie's Morpheus and it's finally starting to look like a garment that might have a hope of fitting her, but it's becoming abundantly clear that I'm not going to have enough yarn.  Poop.  It's probably time that I realised that she is growing like a weed and that knitting for her is going to keep needing more yarn than it used to!  So, choices time.  Do I?
1. Keep going for as long as I can and call it a cropped sweater.
2. Rip back and start again using different yarn.
3. Rip back and start again using the same yarn but with contrasting collar and cuffs
4. Give the whole thing up as a bad job, how many times do I really want to rip back the same project?
5. Buy more yarn.
Choices, choices.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Blog Week!

Yay, Blog Week is coming up soon and this year I shall be participating again!  Last year I was somewhat occupied, what with having recently given birth and all that jazz but I really enjoyed the year before so I'm really looking forward to taking part again.  If you want to know more go here and this year's topics can be found here

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

On the needles

So now I’m mostly caught up with the things that I have made I can turn my attention to the things that I am making.  I am very much making a conscious effort to keep my UFOs down to a minimum at the moment so this isn’t quite the herculean task that it would once have been.  Much as I love, love, love casting things on, I love finishing projects even more and the key to that is concentrating on projects one at a time.  Ideally I will be allowing myself one ‘big’ project and two sock projects at any one time.  I currently have three socks on the go, but I’m nearly there.
My big project of the moment is a little vest/tee for Cassie mostly based on the Morpheus pattern.  Mostly based because, after the first time I ripped it back I decided to miss out the mesh pattern on the front and back and replace it with a purl ridge pattern instead.  I also decided to keep it that way when I cast on again after ripping back for the second time too!  The yarn I’m using is Cygnet Wool Rich Aran, which in theory is really nice and very good value but I just can’t get gauge with it for anything.  I made an Oslo Jacket with it last year which came out teeny tiny because this yarn seems to be closer to a DK than an Aran so I picked it for this project because DK was called for.  But alas, when I swatched (after the first frogging I thought I’d better) I was still getting too many stitches per inch.  I’ve gone up a size and a needle size so fingers crossed it fits in the end.

Out of my three sock projects I have one plain vanilla sock and two fancy ones that require a bit of concentration.  My aim is for one sock that I can do with my eyes closed and one for times when I can give it a bit of attention.  Of course that means I really need to finish one of my fancy sock projects to get down to my goal of 2 which is why I am currently going great guns on the plain vanilla sock!  But look how pretty it is….

I finally decided to go for it and knit my lovely zauberball and I’m so glad I did.  I had to rip back the heel after I ended up with a very distinct colour shift across the instep but other than that it’s been smooth sailing.  I just needed to make sure that I started the heel once the yarn was completely black just to keep the colours merging nicely into one another and once I’d done that I was happy with it.

This is a Fawkes sock I started around Christmas.  Christmas 2011 that is!  I’m not sure why I stopped because I was really enjoying the pattern.  The only reason I’m not knitting it now is because I have misplaced the copy of the pattern with all my scribbles on so I’m not entirely sure where I got to.  I’m fully capable of looking at the sock and working it out but I’m just lazy and haven’t done it yet.

And finally this sock will be a Kwalla from the Socktopus book.  I haven’t got too far with it but I like it so far.  I’ll be keeping this one on the back burner for a while so I can concentrate on finishing the Fawkes’ and achieving my 3 project goal.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Well that sucked.

I'd been very much looking forward to the Easter weekend, 4 days to spend with friends and family and no work to get in the way.  We even had plans.  Friday was for a spot of shopping, I needed a new dress and Easter gifts were to be purchased.  Saturday would see us going to a wedding (hence the new dress) where we would see some people we hadn't seen for ages.  Sunday was going to be a lovely Easter dinner with Stu's family and Monday we would see my folks.  I was even going to finally take some photos of my current UFOs for my next post.  However..... bam NOROVIRUS!  That was not part of the plan.  Luckily it was only me whose body was in extreme eject mode but Cassie has had some unpleasant nappies and is rather unhappy.  The only thing that really made it better was that Stu was at home to help us out in out hour of need.  Oh wells, roll on the end of April when we have a whole week off work together and fingers crossed that we all remain healthy.