Friday, 28 February 2014

Daleks in Manhatten

Back at the start of the month I shared the charts I had designed for my Doctor Who themed cross stitch art. I've been working on and off on the first chart, and I'm so pleased with how it's going.

How awesome do the Daleks look! I am even more excited about getting to the Tardis one now I've seen how well the charts are translating into a finished piece. It'll be a while before I get to that chart though, as I still have two more gold Daleks to stitch after I'm done with this one!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

WIP: Knotty Gloves

When I cast on my latest pair of gloves, I didn't realise I was hitting a milestone. These gloves are the 200th project I have recorded in Ravelry since I joined in 2010. Fair enough, some of those projects are tiny and may have only taken an hour or two to make, whereas others are epic projects taking over a year from start to finish. And eleven of those projects have found their way to the frog pond. Even with that in mind, 200 projects in less than four years.. that's an average of 50 projects a year. Fifty! I'll admit, I'm a little bit impressed with myself.

So here is project number 200 then. It's a pair of Knotty Gloves using Knit Picks Palette in a gorgeous bright red. I decided to use the Palette because I had such success with the leafy fingerless gloves I made a couple of years ago. Plus, you know, bright red gloves. Who wouldn't?

What these gloves are reminding me is that I really get frustrated with the amount of faff involved in knitting actual fingers on gloves. The pattern has full fingers, but I prefer my gloves fingerless so I have bound off each finger after 15 rounds. Just the thumb to finish on the left glove, then it's on to the right. Once these are finished, I will be able to throw away my shop bought gloves that I've worn to death over the last few years and are now falling apart! Then all of my gloves will be handknits. I'm never buying gloves again!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Unravel 2014

This past weekend was the weekend of Unravel, a knitting festival held annually at the Farnham Maltings centre in Farnham, Surrey. I've been for the past couple of years, but this year was in two minds about whether or not I should go. There was no pressing need to buy any particular yarn and for the most part, I reasoned that most of the vendors would be the same. In fact, there would be large gaping hole in the list of vendors, since A Stash Addict took a break and isn't dyeing yarn at the moment.

It was Sarah over at Crafts from the Cwtch who convinced me to go, with a very lovely "it wouldn't be the same without you" comment on her Facebook page. So, I ordered my ticked and said to myself that I would go for a couple of hours, treat myself to a nice skein of yarn if one caught my eye and just say hello to the folks I know from last year.

I actually ended up staying for six hours, and had an absolutely fantastic time. The yarn stalls were almost incidental to the whole day! Sarah said it quite well herself last year in her post about Unravel 2013.

The main hall towards the end of the day
I got there pretty early, which meant I had a chance to wander round on my own in the relative quiet before the crowds really arrived. It seemed more spread out this year, although I'm not sure if that is a result of fewer vendors or the Maltings using more of the space available to them.

The other big difference between this year's festival and previous years, was the lack of large quantities of yarn bombing outside the venue. Last year, it was everywhere, with road signs and balloons among the many decorations.

This pigeon was one of the only pieces I found
outside the venue this year

I met up with Sarah fairly early in the day; she was there with the lovely Wink from A Creative Being who had flown in from the Netherlands to come to Unravel. It didn't occur to me on Saturday, but I have today been giggling about our rhyming names. Wink and Tink! We should team up and fight crime, or something. Armed with crochet hooks. Anyway... we were joined by Tanya from A Yarn Loving Mama, and as we wandered round we spent far more time saying hello to fellow Ravellers, Instagrammers and bloggers than we did shopping. Sarah's mum, Lynda (star of the Great British Sewing Bee!) popped along for a bit as well, and then our walk around became even more entertaining. It was like hanging out with a celebrity!

Everyone was stopping her to say "OMG, you're Lynda from the Sewing Bee! Can I have a picture?". We joked she should have brought a pile of signed photos to hand out.

Of course, in-between the many hours of chatting and giggling (and there was a fair amount of giggling), I did find time to do a little bit of shopping.

I just love this year's logo

This year's bag is a bit sturdier than last year's. I keep my knitting needles in last year's bag but this one I think I will use to store projects in.

I can't believe I spent less than half of the money I took with me! Aside from the project bag and those two gorgeous green vintage buttons, the only stall I bought anything from was Easyknits! I spent a long while lusting after their yarn last year, but didn't buy any, so decided this year if I was going to treat myself, I would treat myself to some Deeply Wicked sock yarn.

The green will become a shawl, because I don't have a green one (as I gave Wingspan away). The other skein, with it's wonderful combination of green, pink and purple.. I think that will sit in my stash for quite a while until I decide what to do with it!

I also picked up three of Jon's patterns, as he was selling them on a really good offer (3 for £5!). Only Orbit appears to be listed on Ravelry though. The Traveling Ammonite shawl looks awesome, as it's knit in a spiral so you're only ever knitting a few stitches at a time, despite it becoming a giant circular shawl. I think, for my birthday later in the year, I may treat myself to one of his Sushi Shawl Along Clubs.

All in all, it was an absolutely excellent day, although I was extremely tired by the time I got home! I am very glad I let Sarah convince me to go, and will definitely be heading back next year!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Year of Projects 3: 23rd February update

I have to say, I have tried very hard to be monogamous to my current YoP project, but it is so difficult! I had a real argument with it last week, when the lace charts were refusing to co-operate and I kept having one too many or one too few stitches on the needle by the end of each row. Due to that, and the casting on of another non-YoP project, I have slipped a bit with progress and am not as far through it now as I wanted to be.

My nifty spreadsheet tracker now tells me I will finish on 25th April, if I religiously knit 10 rows a day from now until then. Last Wednesday, it was saying the 14th, which is another way of saying I haven't really worked on it that much at all since I last posted about it. I'm not overly concerned, because even if I don't finish till May, that's still months before I actually want to wear it!

Friday, 14 February 2014

FO: Cables in the Fog

Golden Gate Bridge in the fog

I can't believe it's been nine months since I flew out to America. Where has the time gone! You may recall I popped into Imagiknit while I was in San Fransisco and bought four wonderfully blue skeins of Cascade 220, with plans to knit $5 in Paris from them.

With the jumper finished, I found myself with leftovers. Now, I love my jumper, and I'd wear it every day if I could. But of course that is not really possible, so I started thinking about things I could do with the leftovers that meant I could carry this little piece of San Fransisco around with me more often. My default setting is gloves, so gloves it was!

The pattern is Cwtchy Cable Armwarmers by my lovely friend Sarah over at Crafts from the Cwtch. At first, I thought I only had enough yarn for the short version, but as it turned out my maths was appalling, and I had enough for almost full length ones.

I made a slight modification to the pattern as written (I don't seem to be able to knit gloves without making changes these days!). The pattern transitions from the cable back to rib at the end of the cable repeat, the row before the next cable row. I worked three additional rows, so that the cable twist sits right up against the ribbing, as it does at the other end. I also didn't have quite enough yarn for 9 full repeats of the cable, so I did 8 instead.

I love them already. The blue is as bright as the blue sky we eventually saw once we'd crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and pulled out of the fog. Between these and my Odessa hat, I now have two very portable and wearable reminders of my honeymoon to keep me smiling during this atrocious winter we're having.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Never say never.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I was frogging my Light of Earendil shrug as I hadn't touched it in almost a year and it was a real shame to have such lovely yarn hiding at the back of my WIP shelf, lonely and forgotten. I decided to knit Chunari instead, because it was (a) free and (b) rectangular. The last thing I wanted, with a laceweight shawl, was to be either casting on or binding off a gazillion stitches. I wanted something I might actually enjoy knitting, something that would actually make it past 20 rows before being abandoned. Something I might even - shock horror - complete in a reasonable timeframe.

I am yet to complete a knitting project in laceweight yarn. The only thing I've successfully made from laceweight was my Jane Austen Shawl, and that was crocheted, and still took me 2 months to complete. So I thought I was setting myself up to fail when I decided that not only was I going to knit Chunari, but I was going to set myself an actual deadline to knit it by. My brother is getting married in August, and I would really like to wear something I've made to the wedding, especially as my own wedding last year didn't feature anything hand-knit or crocheted.

You know what? I'm actually enjoying working on this. I decided to add beads, since I have a ton of them just hanging around now I'm not going to knit Light of Earendil. At first, I looked at the charts with a view to beading the entire thing, but after consulting my husband we decided that insanity would be the end result of that, so as a compromise I am only beading the first and last sections of the shawl. I'm hoping this will add an interesting detail, but also help weight the ends of the shawl down so it doesn't misbehave in the wind.

With only 88 stitches per row, this has a real potential to knit up fairly quickly. The lace patterns are relatively simple and easy to remember, although I have made several mistakes already in the first leaf section! 

In order to keep myself motivated and on track for my August deadline, I made a spreadsheet to track my progress. It tells me how far through the project I am, how many rows I've got left to knit, and projects a finish date based on doing the bare minimum of rows per day (i.e. the total number of rows left divided by the number of days left till the 1st August), and a finish date based on doing a steady 10 rows a day. Of course, I'm not going to robotically knit ten rows a day, every day, from now until it's finished! There will be days when I don't knit on it at all, and then days (most likely at the weekends) when I will do 60 plus rows in one sitting.

At current calculations, I will finish this shawl on the 14th April, doing an average of 10 rows a day. As it is currently my only knitting project on the go, I am unlikely to be distracted by any other knits (although it will have to share my crafting time with the cross stitch projects, which are moving along at a nice pace. More on those next week).

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Year of Projects 3: 9th February update

I showed you this blocking photo last week:

It only seems fair that I now share the beauty shots!

Pattern: Ishbel by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Knit Picks Capretta in Fairy Tale
Needle: 4.5mm

I followed the instructions for the small shawl for the stockinette portion of the shawl, then decided I had enough yarn left to do the additional chart repeats in the lace section for the large shawl. I have to say, it's pretty damn big as it is, I hesitate to think how big it would be if I did the large stockinette section as well! I guess it works out ok size-wise if you knit this in laceweight, though.

With the matching Ishbel Beret I knit last year
I can't wait to start wearing my matching set out and about while the winter weather is still upon us. The shawl and the beret between them used up just under 3 balls of Knit Picks Capretta, which is a wonderful yarn to knit with. I really enjoyed knitting the beret last year (as part of the Second Year of Projects), and I really enjoyed knitting the shawl this time around. It's such an easy lace pattern to remember, I can see why so many people recommend Ishbel as a first triangular shawl to relatively new knitters.

What makes these two projects really special is they wouldn't have been possible without the kindness and generosity of two other people. The patterns (as part of the Whimsical Little Knits book) were given to me by a fellow Raveller, and the yarn was part of a swap package from a fellow blogger. If Paula hadn't sent me this yarn, I would never have had the pleasure of knitting it, as you can't get hold of this particular Knit Picks yarn in the UK (Great British Yarns don't carry it). And she sent it in exactly the right colour for me as well! You don't get much better than that.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Warhammer Scenery - Ruined Buildings

As well as painting our Battle Board, we have also recently painted up our selection of Games Workshop terrain pieces. We had one each of the Basilica Administratum, Manufactorum, Sanctum Imperialis and Shrine of the Aquila sets, and had built them pretty much to the template on the front of the box. We'd not painted them for ages, due to not really being able to settle on a colour scheme! Well, fuelled by our success with the board, we decided to get a move on and sort out the buildings, and agreed on an approach to take.

The Basilica Adminstratum
After the seemingly endless job of cleaning off all the mould lines, everything was undercoated in black. The walls were drybrushed quite heavily with a succession of greys (Charadon Granite, Adeptus Battlegrey, Fenris Grey and Astronomicon Grey). All of the gold detailing is done with Vallejo Liquid Gold in Old Gold. Much better coverage than trying to use Citadel metallic paint! All of the skull details on the outside were drybrushed again with Astronomicon Grey.

The Shrine of the Aquila

The floors were painted in one of two ways. The plain metal grate tiles were heavily drybrushed with Macharius Solar Orange, followed by Boltgun Metal, to give us a lovely rusted look. The checked tiles we painted with Mechrite Red and Dheneb Stone. We thought we'd have to do more to it than that, but the finished look with just the basecoat is exactly what we were after! Dheneb Stone was also used to paint the scrolls on the front of the Sanctum Imperialis.

The Sanctum Imperialis

There's still a fair bit of detail unpainted, but for now they are more than good enough for us to use on our painted board. At some point we'll go back over them and pick out all the little details, like the lights inside and out.

Will share the Manufactorum when it is closer to being finished, for now it just has a basic rusty metal thing going on, but none of the details are done yet!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

WIP Wednesday: Cables in the Fog

When I finished my $5 in San Fransisco jumper, I had a fair amount of yarn left over. Twice as much of the bright blue as the dark, I decided there would be enough to make a pair of fingerless gloves of some kind. I had originally settled on this pair, which I had the pattern for in the Interweave Knits 2009 Accessories magazine (I originally downloaded the magazine for $0.10 because it has the pattern for Koolhaas in it). However, when I actually went to read the pattern, and saw that it was worked flat and then seamed, my heart sank a little. I couldn't be bothered to sit down and re-write the pattern to work in the round. Another pattern was required.

I can't remember exactly what it was that jogged my memory, but I recalled Sarah over at Crafts from the Cwtch sharing a free pattern ages ago for a very similar pair of armwarmers. Pattern chosen, I split my yarn into two even balls and cast on.

At first I thought I only had enough yarn to do the shorter version, but it turns out my maths was completely out, and I actually had enough to do almost the full length version (I managed 8.5 cable repeats in total, instead of 9). I love them already, and I am looking forward to having a little part of my honeymoon to wear all through the autumn/winter/spring, as I can't wear my jumper all of the time!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Stuff

A couple of weeks ago, I was sat watching Doctor Who with my husband, and I had an Idea. What this house really needs is some Doctor Who themed art work on the walls. Now, I could be lazy, and just go and buy myself an Exploding Tardis Van Gogh poster, but where would be the fun in that! I want art that I can control.

It all really started when watching the end of the Rose Tyler story arc, when the Daleks and Cybermen confront each other in the Torchwood Tower. There's a fantastic bit of dialogue between the leaders of each of the races, both convinced of their own superiority.

Cyber Leader: We have five million Cybermen. How many are you?
Dalek: Four
Cyber Leader: You would destroy the Cybermen with four Daleks?
Dalek: We would destroy the Cybermen with one Dalek! You are superior in only one respect.
Cyber Leader: What is that?
Dalek: You are better at dying.

The Cult of Skaro are some of my favourite Doctor Who bad guys, and I wanted to immortalise their coolness in some way on my walls. I quickly sketched out an idea in my head, and suggested it to my husband. A set of four cross stitch panels, individually framed, featuring our favourite quotes from the series and some iconic imagery. After just a few hours, and several more episodes of Doctor Who, I had the basic charts figured out.

Only the Tardis is my original work, the rest is all borrowed from free charts I found on the internet, rearranged alongside the quotes I wanted to use. I used this cross stitch calculator to figure out how big my pictures would actually turn out to be, and luckily had a copy of the DMC catalogue to figure out the colours I'd need. On Sunday, we went to Hobbycraft and I picked up the supplies I needed.

I was only able to pick up two pieces of Aida, but managed to get every colour of thread I needed. I'll have plenty of time between now and when I finish the first two pieces to pick up two more. It's a very limited colour palette, but I think that will help keep the set looking coherent.

I did pretty well at choosing colours from the catalogue; only the blues and the dark grey are different to the colours I initially chose, as once I'd found them in the shop I didn't think they were the right colours. 

I decided to make a start straight away, and have started work on the main Cult of Skaro chart, which depicts the moment the rest of the Cult reject Dalek Sek's leadership.

I'm already completely in love with how it is turning out. Once I've finished up, I will tidy up the charts and publish them here as a downloadable PDF, so more people can have some Doctor Who love on their walls!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Year of Projects 3: 2nd February update

Not much to report this week, I'm afraid! While I have been busy designing and making and doing things, none of it has been for projects on my list. I do have an almost-FO to share, as Ishbel came off the needles last week and is currently chilling out on the blocking board.

The lace section has opened up beautifully, and I am already glad I decided to do the extra repeats. Will hopefully get a proper shot of it with the beret once it's dry, and share that next week.

With that done, I have turned my thoughts to what I should knit next. Common sense tells me to pick up existing WIPs and finish those first, but the lure of a new project is far too great. Luckily, I can do both at once!

Just over a year ago, I started knitting this shrug from my Knits for Nerds book. Just under a year ago, I put it down (not that many more rows in than in the picture above!) and haven't touched it since. The combination of laceweight yarn and beads, and reverse stockinette, and needing to start working in the round at some point (laceweight and DPNs? Sounds horrendous!) meant that I never wanted to knit it. It's a shame, because it's a gorgeous pattern and the yarn is to die for (Fyberspates Scrumptious lace in a wonderful shade of purple).

I picked it back up this morning, and thought "there has to be a better project for this yarn and these beads". I spent half an hour browsing the pattern database on Ravelry, and found this shawl pattern: Chunari. It's free, it's very pretty, and having looked at the pattern, it's pretty straight forward. Rectangular means my stitch count is never going to get to silly levels (as it would if I knit a triangular or circular shawl), and I don't think it will be too difficult to figure out a nice way to add the beads.

Decision made, the shrug was frogged and the yarn is now waiting to be given another chance. I may cast on this afternoon during the rugby!

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