Saturday, 28 April 2012

Climbing the learning curve

Today's Knitting and Crochet Blog Week topic is all about skills. What do I have left to learn?

Well, the answer to that is quite a lot, actually. I have only been seriously crocheting and knitting for less than two years, and while I've come a long way since I started, I still have a long way to go.

One thing that has really pushed me this past year in terms of learning new skills has been the Year of Projects. I designed my list of projects with the express aim of improving my knitting skills. Before starting the project, the only knit items I'd done were a few basic garter stitch scarves. While the first few items on the list were scarves, they were lacy scarves that introduced me to new stitches.

Thinking of You scarf

Victorian scarf

I also started learning how to use charted patterns, rather than written instructions only. A major leap forward in my ability to knit came with my first ever triangular shawl, 198yds of heaven:

I've learned to knit in the round on DPNs and circular needles, mastering hats and gloves. I am about to embark on my first ever knit garment, a shrug called Eleonora.

Looking forward to the next Year of Projects (which will kick off in July), I already have big plans to add more skills to my growing repertoire:
  • Stranded colourwork
  • More things that fit
  • Judy's magic cast on
  • Intarsia (in crochet, at least)
  • Possibly even sock knitting!
One of the things I love about knitting and crochet is that once you've mastered the basics, everything else follows on really naturally. Nothing is scary for me any more, although some patterns I choose will be challenging, the end results are always worth the effort. I love being able to create useable items that I can be proud to wear and use. Having resources like Ravelry and all the wonderful blogs that I read makes the whole process a lot easier as well!

Search 3KCBWDAY6 to see what everyone else has done with today's topic. Also, please check back to see my post for yesterday's "Something Different" topic, if you haven't already seen it!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Something different...

Search 3KCBWDAY5 to see what everyone else has come up with for today's "Something Different" theme!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Seasonal knitting?

Back on track with Day 4 of Eskimimi's Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, and today's topic is all about seasonal knitting.

It will be a theme for the day for any British blogger taking part, in which we complain massively about the unseasonable weather we have been having for the last couple of years. This makes it pretty difficult to predict what we should be knitting, because you have no idea when you cast on what the weather is going to be like when the project is finished!

Like Chrissy and Nat, I'm starting to think that cardigans and wraps are the only way forward to get around this changeable weather. I started the Cherry Wrap in September last year, hoping to get it finished quickly and to have it as an extra layer for the office. As you saw yesterday, it still isn't finished! I don't really mind though, because air conditioning means you need layers in the office all year round.

I've only been knitting and crocheting for a couple of years, so I haven't yet settled into a proper seasonal cycle. I'm still at the point where I just knit or crochet things because I want to! I also have a bit of a scarf and glove obsession, so even in the middle of summer I will be casting on gloves. The top five items in my Ravelry queue are warm woolly gloves, a warm woolly hat, a cardigan and two shawls!

I don't think seasonal knitting really matters, if all you make is accessories though. I haven't really branched out too much into clothing yet; I'm still a little wary of things like getting it to fit, and choosing appropriate yarn for the project. I'm hoping Eleonora will cure me of this.

Check out other (probably more interesting) day 4 posts by searching for 3KCBWDAY4 in the search engine of your choice. Definitely come back tomorrow for day 5, I've got something awesome planned for the "something different" topic (provided I have the energy to finish preparing it today!).

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

How does your garden grow?

One of the main drivers for us getting this house, aside from the masses of space, lovely wooden floors and a kitchen three times the size of our old one, is the garden.

Our old house was a Victorian terrace, so the garden was a small paved square, covered in weeds.

This was taken after I'd spent a few hours strimming and sweeping
and generally tidying up the place

Our new house has a massive garden! The living room opens onto a small patio, then there are steps leading up to a raised decking area.

It came with a table and benches, so with our furniture too
we can seat at least 11 people for a BBQ!

So far, so similar. Not much bigger than our old yard. However, to the left of the steps is the path leading to  the rest of the garden.

I'm going to have to do something about
all the dandelions though.

View from halfway up the lawn, back towards the house.

The rest of the lawn and greenhouse, taken from the other side.
You see those blossoming trees? Those are apple trees. There's a pear tree behind the greenhouse too. On the right side of the garden is a plum. There are strawberries growing all around the base of the greenhouse, and next to the house is a space for a kitchen herb garden, currently planted with mint, sage and rosemary.

We are very excited about the greenhouse. We plan to grow chillis, peppers, tomatoes and garlic; I also want to try out potatoes in pots.

I brought my sycamore seedlings over from the old house. They are doing well! Soon I will need to re-pot them. I'm not sure if they should stay out on the table, or if I should put them in the greenhouse. What do you think?

Wildcard Wednesday

I'm not too keen on today's KCBW topic, as I don't really have any knitting/crocheting heroes to speak of! So I'm going to use the wildcard topic today, which should tie neatly into Tami's WIP Wednesday meme as well.

Craft Your Perfect Day
Plan your fantasy day with your craft, It might just take up one hour of your day or be the entire focus of the day, but tell your readers where you'd love to craft, whether you'd craft alone or with friends, knitting or crocheting something simple or spending a day learning new skills. 

It's been less than a week since I moved into my new house and while the stash is unpacked and ready to go, I simply don't have the time to craft at the moment. There is far too much unpacking to do (don't you go looking upstairs in my house anytime soon!) and the old house to be completely cleaned today as well (otherwise known as "losing the will to live so I can get my deposit back" day).

But with all this space available to me, a lovely comfy and cosy living room corner and a fully extended dining table crying out to be used for sewing, is it any wonder I am already daydreaming about all the amazing things I will be able to do here once I have the time?

For starters, I need to get some serious blocking on.

Fern Cowl

I still haven't figured out the best way to approach blocking this cowl! I'm sure it will be fiddly and irritating, but worth it once it's done and I can start wearing it (hopefully before it warms up too much and it is relegated to the winter wardrobe for six months).

Cherry Wrap

I put off blocking the pieces for my Cherry Wrap, because I simply did not have the room to do all three panels at once. I figured it would be kind of important to do them all side by side, to ensure I block them all out to the same dimensions. Now, I can lay them out on the floor and still be able to walk through the room!

Poncho Resurrection

In a perfect world, I would open up my bag of poncho motifs and discover that the End Weaving In Fairies had visited during the night, and I was ready to start crocheting them all together.

I'd finish this damn dishcloth just to get the needles back for something else! For some reason it really hasn't gripped my imagination, although I am sure I will love the finished object when I am done.

Granny Square

Those End Weaving In Fairies need to work their magic on this blanket too.


While I waited for all that blocking to dry, I'd dig out my Hypernova scarf and knit furiously until I was done. Since the blocking boards and wires would be out, I could then block it straight away and have a fabulous new scarf (not that I need more scarves - you have no idea just how many scarves I found in wardrobes when I was packing last weekend!).

Of course, in a perfect world, it wouldn't be raining so heavily like it actually is today. It would be warm and sunny, and I could be doing all of this outside on the lawn. I'd take a stereo outside, and listen to classical music while I knit. I'd pop to town and buy the yarn for Eleonora (if you recall, I had to wait until we moved because there was no space for a cardigan-worth of yarn in the old house) so as soon as Hypernova was pinned out, I could cast on my cardigan.

Although, finishing off Hypernova would probably fill me back up with so much love and enthusiasm for the Wollmeise, that I'd be tempted to cast on my second skein and start knitting Momijigari. Perhaps if I had two pairs of arms, I could knit both at once? But then I'd need a third pair, because I'm also really excited to start the Lazy Katy shawl.

Of course, I'm never going to have the time to just sit and spend an entire day with my yarn. As I said, today is cleaning the old house day. Tomorrow I have to empty and repack the garage, so I can get to the washing machine and tumble dryer. Friday I really need to focus on the upstairs of the house, get the rest of the clothes away and sort out the random boxes of tat that have accumulated over the years.

Hopefully this weekend I will have time to knit again! It's been a couple of weeks now and I am really starting to miss it.

To find posts on today's topic, search for 3KCBWDAY3. To see if anyone has used the wildcard, search for 3KCBWWC.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Welcome home.

After a very long couple of weeks, where there was no time to do much packing and yet an entire house which needed to be packed, we are finally installed in our new house! I can’t tell you how pleased I am that the move is over. We had epic amounts of help from our friends, and managed to get pretty much everything across from one house to the other in just one day. It’s been a bit crazy here since, unpacking everything and deciding where it should go. But we’re getting there.

This is the living room, on Friday night after we got here with the first mini van load (we came over on the Friday with the bed and the cat, to make sure he was settled and safe in the bedroom upstairs to be locked in there during the day of the move).

Just some of the many boxes that came over! We’ve been focusing initially on getting the living room sorted, and ferrying as much of the rest of the crap upstairs as we can. Most of those boxes are books and DVDs; emptying those back out onto the shelves made a huge difference to the space we had to work in!

It’s so great to be able to have all the books together on one wall, and to have the space to extend the dining table permanently. The only thing left to do on this side is to hang my gigantic mirror in that space on the red wall.

It feels like home now I’ve got the pictures up. Another sofa will be squeezing in here hopefully, but we can’t work out what we need until we’ve got everything away and can see the space we have left.

You can’t quite see it in this picture, but my yarn shelves are just to the right. A bit further away from my side of the sofa than they were, but so much easier to access and organise!

I'm sure I will re-arrange them several times before I am happy. I need to figure out a sensible way to store all of my needles and hooks - I'm thinking of sewing some sort of case that will hang down the side of the shelves, so they are easy to access (and more importantly, easy to put away - I found so many random DPNs hiding down the back of the sofa and under furniture when we moved everything out!). Anyone got any good suggestions for needle case patterns I can use as inspiration?

Photography Challenge Day!

When the topics were first announced for Knitting and Crochet Blog week, I got very excited about today's post. A first chance to test out the capabilities of my replacement camera for something fun.

Sadly, I haven't had a lot of time, or the right sort of weather, to get anything done recently. I'm hoping that my new house and garden will provide far more opportunity to stage interesting pics of my projects. There'll certainly be a lot more light, and at the very least, nice plain white walls to use as a backdrop!

I've already seen a few amazing entries for today's topic, and I'm sure my previous efforts wont even compare, but in the spirit of getting involved, here's my two most interesting FO photos:

I'd seriously recommend searching for "3KCBWDAY2" on the internet search engine of your choice, to check out the other posts from today.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day One - Colour Lovers

I'm so excited to be taking part in Knitting and Crochet Blog week again this year. I'm just a bit cross that the house move timing has meant I've had less time than I really wanted to prepare for it. I'm hoping I can still do full justice to the suggested post topics, but I'll let you all be the judge of that!

For more information about Knitting and Crochet Blog week, head on over to to read all about it. To find more of today's posts, search the internet for 3KCBWDAY1.

Colour Lovers

Today we are posting about our love of colour. It comes as no surprise that practitioners of the fibre arts are lovers of colour. The right or wrong colour choice can make or break a project. And it is oh so easy to get stuck in a colour rut. We all have favourite colours that we reach for even without thinking.

To demonstrate, I have made a chart (lets face it, knitters are massive geeks).

I looked at everything I've made (just things that you wear, so scarves, hats, gloves, clothing) and it's pretty obvious where my colour sympathies lie!

A selection of my purple/pink projects

I really have to push myself to choose something other than purple. It's been my favourite colour for years. When I was a kid, and was given free reign to decorate my bedroom in whatever colour scheme I chose, I opted for two different shades of purple on the walls and a pink ceiling!

However, more recently I have been branching out. My sole yarn purchase at Unravel was a Zauberball for a Lazy Katy shawl, and I think I surprised everyone by choosing blue.

I surprised myself when I finally allowed myself to order some Candy Skein for myself. The other skeins I'd bought for prizes/swap parcels were in shades of purple, but for myself I selected two different blues.

Alright, I know blue isn't exactly too far a leap away from purple, but it's a start!

Of course, I'll really be breaking the purple cycle when I finally cast on my second skein of Wollmeise. I think I've finally settled on a pattern (this one).

Wollmeise 20:20 Twin in colourway Sonne

I think part of the reason I've gone for Momijigari is because the sample on the pattern page is knit in similar colours. I have a real hard time visualising how the colours in a skein of variegated yarn will knit up, and having trawled the project page for Wollmeise in Sonne no end of times I think it will look alright as this shawl.

Photo copyright Beth Kling, used with permission
As I have a lot of black in my wardrobe I am sure it will look fabulous in bright yellow and orange!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

A brief pause...

Taking a quick break in the madness to pop in and say "I'm still here, honest!". I just noticed I'm up to 100 followers now, so I think it might be time for another giveaway soon - watch this space!

I'm also still getting a lot of traffic from the Government Free VJJ campaign, which is awesome. People aren't just stopping by and smiling at the pattern, either. There are now 43 projects on Ravelry for my Crocheted Uterus pattern, and the campaign seems to be showing no signs of slowing down. I remain amazed that my simple little PDF is playing such a key role in a very important political movement.

Anyway, closer to home, I am manically busy at the moment, between moving house and doing two LARP events two weekends in a row! I've been exhausted all week, and the most crafting I've managed is weaving in the ends on Sophie's gloves, since I felt so guilty about not having them finished in time for last weekend (it was quite cold and damp where we were camping, and I'm sure she'd have appreciated the warm snuggly gloves over the weekend!).

But they're finished now! I wove in the ends at roleplay night last night, and they're going in the bag tonight to take down to Wales to give to her tomorrow. I will try and get a better photo, because they look awesome worn.

I'm picking up the keys for the new house tomorrow; we're so excited! It's a real shame I'm away for the weekend, so we can't take advantage and start moving things across. I'm going to be pretty busy packing and moving in the next week or so, but I'll be back for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week at the end of April!

Friday, 6 April 2012

Good Friday

How is it Easter already? Where is the year going? It seems like only yesterday it was the middle of winter...

As I am off to the first LRP event of the year this weekend, I don't have anything new to share. But, in what is rapidly becoming a time honoured tradition, last night I found myself frantically blocking a finished item to take with me to the event!

When I finished my hooded cowl, I threw it to one side thinking "how the heck am I going to block this?". As the weather forecast is so dismal for the Easter weekend, I decided on Wednesday that actually, I'd quite like to take it with me. So a quick discussion about the logistics of steam blocking the hood was had with Jamie, and last night I set about getting it done.

Nothing is blocked correctly unless a cat is involved
I covered some of my foam letter blocks with a towel (I wasn't sure how the steam would affect them) and started pinning it out. I folded it exactly in half, along the seam of the hood, and stretched it out as far as it would comfortably go. It was quite tricky to ensure the bottom and top were pinned to the same dimensions! A quick steam with the iron, and it was done. I really don't know why I put off blocking my acrylic knits, because it takes hardly any time at all!

I apologise for the terrible photograph, but it's the best I could manage on my own. I trust you can see the difference blocking has made! It drapes so much better now, and the border pattern is more visible. I also stretched out the neck ribbing when I steamed it, so it wouldn't sit so uncomfortably tight around my neck.

The purple ribbon I found in my box of LRP kit, and will go perfectly with the other ribbons I wear in my hair. Hopefully I will get some photos from the event of me wearing it with the rest of my kit.

I'm also quite excited, because this event will be the first true test of my Leafy Fingerless Gloves, which were made specifically with LRP in mind.

I'm hoping they will keep my hands toasty and warm, even in the middle of the night!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Year of Projects update 1st April

This is going to be my last Year of Projects update for a couple of weeks. The two projects from my list that I currently have on the go have both reached a stage where updates are pointless! Hypernova is growing slowly; I'm getting close to the point where I have to knit with my scales handy, to make sure I start my increase section with enough yarn to finish it. This makes it harder to knit on the go.

The Cherry Wrap has seen some attention this week. Last time I updated on it, back in January, I had finished the main panels for the body and was starting on the sleeves. It looked like this:

I don't have an updated photo, but I am pleased to say that I finished hooking the second sleeve about twenty minutes ago. Now all it needs is blocking, and seaming. I was worried I'd run out of yarn, but I've got about two thirds of my final ball left over, which should be enough.

The main reason I haven't really done much crafting this weekend is because of the house move. This was my last free weekend before we actually move on the 21st, as I'm away at LRP events at Easter and the following weekend! We focused on getting rid of things this weekend, which involved a trip to the recycling centre to offload all our old and broken electricals and two trips to the bottle bank to recycle the glassware that had accumulated over the last couple of years.

This was the second trip

Today was all about the garden. Our back yard was covered in weeds; even the trees were doing their best to take over. We'd promised our agent we'd tidy the garden up before we left, so I dug out the strimmer and hedge trimmer and got to work.

This pile of branches is everything I took off the holly bush, sycamore tree and the porcelain berry vine.

You can see the vine on the right. It used to reach all the way up to the wall of the house! These things grow like you wouldn't believe (up to 5m a year, I understand) and we'd not cut it back, well, ever.

It looks so much nicer now it's clean and tidy. Almost a shame to be leaving! But I am looking forward to having a greenhouse and a lawn.

I was, of course, observed all afternoon by my neighbour's cat, Pepe.

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