Sunday, 28 August 2011

YOP update 28th August

I have a dilemma, folks. I've fallen out of love with one of the patterns on my list. It needs to be replaced, and I need your help in choosing it's replacement!

The pattern in question is the Sapphire Shrug.

Sure, it's really pretty. It looks like it would be fun to crochet. I already have the pattern, as it is in the Crochet Collection bookzine I bought recently. But I find myself wondering, is it really worth the effort? Will I actually get any use out of it? Plus, the estimated cost of using the recommended yarn is nearly £100. Seriously. That's a lot of money for something I may never wear. Even with the cheapest substitution, it will still cost me something like £30-£40.

So, I am looking for alternatives. Sadly, there don't seem to be that many in the way of great crocheted shrugs/cardigans out there. What I think I want is something I can throw on in the office, to combat the over-enthusiastic air-conditioning unit above my desk. Some days, it's like sitting in a Arctic wind!
I already have the Cherry Wrap on my list. The only other crochet pattern I could find that I like was this Simple Crocheted Shrug from Lion Brand, which is free and should be a quick project as it uses bulky weight yarn.

But I'm not sold on it from a fashion perspective. Will it suit me? I'm not sure. The Cherry Wrap is quite un-fitted as well, so I think it would be nice to have something a bit more stylish and suitably impressive should any of my colleagues exclaim "What an amazing cardigan, where did you get it from?". With that in mind, I've broadened my horizons to look at knit patterns, as there seems to be more choice there. In terms of my YoP list, it would be tacked onto the end of the knitting section, as I'm sure a fitted cardigan/shrug would be more complicated than anything else already on the list!

These are the ones that have caught my eye:
Eleonora by Dawn Matkovic
Hug Me! by Julia Mueller
Top-Down Shoulder Warmer by Laura Chau

Sabine by Perl Grey
So what I'd really love is if you guys could help me choose which pattern to put on my list in place of the Sapphire Shrug. Ive added a  poll to the sidebar (up on the right, by the Year of Projects banner) to make it easy for you to cast your vote.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

WIP resurrection

I bet you thought I'd completely abandoned this project, since I've been rather silent on it's progress for some time now.

The last time I showed you a picture, it looked like this:

Has it really been two months since I took this pic?

Now, it looks like this:

Yep, definitely should have hoovered.

Halfway! A new ball of thread! It feels like progress!

Other folks will be sharing more exciting progress reports over at Tami's - go check it out!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Happy Monday!

Usually Monday is a gloomy day. The start of the week. Back in work after an excellent weekend. Nothing to look forward to except five long, dull days working before the next excellent weekend.

Not so today! Today has been made of win. Let me take you through all the wonderful things today has brought.

Firstly, I woke to my email from the ACCA confirming I had passed both exams I sat back in June. I am now a fully qualified accountant and I never have to sit another exam again!

Big celebrations here.
Well, there would be, if Jamie were here.

So I started out my day in a really good mood.

But wait, what was that email below my ACCA results? Why, it was from Marie over at Underground Crafter, letting me know I had won one of her week of giveaways! I've never won a giveaway before so I am very excited. My prize is a 2012 crochet pattern calendar featuring several of Marie's designs.
Then I headed into work, and found a message in my Ravelry inbox from Charlotte over at An Accidental Knitter, encouraging me to check out her latest blog post. Turns out, she had been awarded one of those viral blog awards, and had in turn awarded it to me!

So the smile I already had on my face got wider. Imagine how wide it got, when later on in the day again, I was reading through my blogroll and saw that after being awarded the above by Charlotte, Keri over at When Did I Become A Knitter had also awarded it to me!

I was definitely feeling the love.

As a final added bonus to the awesomeness of my day so far, I spotted a link on Peppermint Mocha Mama's twitter feed this afternoon bringing my attention to the fact you could download the Interweave Knits Accessories 2009 e-zine for 10 cents. Yep, ten whole cents. That's seven pence in UK terms at today's exchange rates. Who wouldn't want to take advantage of that?

62 patterns for 10 cents.

Still not convinced? Check out the patterns included on the e-zine's Ravelry page. I've already queued several patterns, including these fingerless mitts (available for download for $5.50!), Koolhaas by Jared Flood ($4.50 to download individually), this lovely Arrowhead shawl (ok, that one's free), these rib and cable socks (only available in an old Interweave magazine from 2005) and these awesome subway mittens ($3.50 for download). So even if I only do those five patterns, that's $13.50 worth of pattern I've bought for ten cents.

I loves me a bargain!

And if all that wasn't enough to make me really smile, the massive outpouring of love I've had from the cat this evening has been the icing on the cake. See, Jamie's already headed down to the site of the LRP event we're at this weekend (all that responsibility of being one of the folks that helps run the game) so it's just me and the cat for a couple of days. Since Jamie is usually working from home, Fidget gets very used to having company during the day. He's really missed his Daddy today, so I'm getting extra cuddles this evening.

Oh, one more thing before I go. I'm off at the event for a week from Wednesday, so I've scheduled a couple of posts for while I'm away (fingers crossed they all work just fine). I'm adding a poll to the sidebar now, but it won't make sense to you till Sunday's Year of Projects post! I'll look forward to reading all of your posts when I get back on Tuesday.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

YOP update 21st August

A finished project! I shared a quick glimpse of it unblocked on Friday, but have since found time to get it on the ironing board and give it a steam.
Cream on blue, not exactly a great colour choice for a photograph!
Black background you say? Much better!

Pattern: Victorian Scarf by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence (direct link here)
Yarn: Sirdar Simply Recycled DK (51% recycled cotton, 49% acrylic)
Needles: 6mm
Finished dimensions: unblocked 44" x 4", blocked X" x X"

This is, all things considered, a very simple lace pattern, but for me at least it was a step up from the Easy Lace Stole (still in progress), as it involved some sexy new stitches, such as ssk and k3tog. As a stepping stone to more complicated projects, it was a great choice.

If I were to make it again, I would probably do some things differently. Like starting with a provisional cast on and knitting from the middle out, so the chevrons point in the same direction on each end and the stockinette border at the ends would match better.

I am pleased with my yarn choice. The Sirdar Simply Recycled is incredibly smooth and the scarf feels lovely against my skin. I used about three quarters of the 50g ball, so I could have got a few more repeats out of it. I'd definitely use it again, I think it might be very nice for a vest or similar. It comes in some very pretty muted shades of blue, pink and green.

The pattern as downloaded contained only the chart, which although perfectly understandable, I found difficult to keep track of. So I wrote out the instructions in Word and worked from that. I know at some point I am going to have to get better at working from charts, as I am bound to eventually choose a complicated lace pattern which is chart only. But for now, this halfway house approach seems to be working just fine.

As soon as that scarf came off the needles, I cast on immediately with the next knit project on the list (seriously, that Easy Lace Stole is going to be my last knit FO from the list at this rate!). The Thinking of You scarf is another DK weight lace scarf project, but far more complex than the Victorian Scarf. It involves such terrifying concepts as knitting and purling in the same row and working a pattern on both RS and WS. The pattern changes too, the first two thirds in a relatively simple four row repeat eyelet rib pattern, before changing to the interlocking heart motif.

So far, I've managed about 16 rows.
Quite clearly, this photo was taken after about 4 rows. It's longer than this.

I'm not sure how much progress I'm going to get done this week, as I'm off to a LRP event on Wednesday and not back till Tuesday!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Off the Needles

Just a quick one this morning - my Victorian Scarf is finally off the needles and awaiting blocking! Have a rather terrible photo of it laid out on my living room carpet, for measuring:

Hmmm, maybe I should have hoovered first.
I did 22 repeats in total, so it's now 44" long and 4" wide. Hopefully when I pin it all out it will be closer to 6" wide, as the edge is wavy but you can't really see that at the moment. I don't think it will get longer; if anything going wider might make it a bit shorter.

It may not fit on my ironing board. With any luck, I will get around to blocking it this weekend in time for the YOP update on Sunday.

Head on over to Tami's for more FOs (with better photography all around!).

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

WIP Wednesday - actual progress!

I've actually made progress on things this week!

Ok, so I'm lazy. This is Sunday's picture. I haven't taken a new one.
Jane Austen Shawl is motoring along nicely. I can work on it almost without looking, which is a real step up for me in terms of crochet skill. I'm loving everything about this project; the colour, the feel of the yummy alpaca/silk yarn, the speed it works up, everything. Yesterday evening I ran out of my first skein, halfway through the 23rd row (out of 32). The second skein isn't wound yet and I'm not sure I've got the time to do it in the next few days, so this one may be taking a seat on the back burner for a little while.

Again with the laziness, this is an old progress shot too. Sorry.
My Easy Lace Stole is actually going really well. It sat unworked for some time, as it was my go-to knit for roleplay night and we haven't roleplayed in a few weeks as people have been on the other side of the world (damn them, and their holidays!). But this week I picked it back up, and surprised myself with the ease at which I got back into the rhythm of knitting it. I know the pattern off by heart, can recognise just by looking at it which row I'm on (although I am not trusting that entirely, and keeping on with my row counter just to make sure). It's now 10 inches long and growing fast.

And a third really lazy photo in a row! Go laziness!
Victorian Scarf could be considered finished, as the pattern says to do 18 repeats, which I have done. But it seems a bit short, so I've decided to keep going for a little while. I only used 30g out of the 50g ball, so I've got plenty of spare yarn to just keep on going until I think it's long enough. It only just wraps around my neck as it is (36" long, unblocked), so I want it longer. I'm not sure how much it will grow when blocked either, as it's a cotton/acrylic blend. Mostly I think it will just even out and get a bit wider, so knitting it longer has to be the only answer.

Now, on to exciting things. I mentioned on Sunday that one of the reasons I didn't instantly dive back into my existing WIPs once I'd finished reading A Dance With Dragons was because I started designing my own intarsia charts for the various heraldic devices of the major noble houses. I have shared some sneak previews of my initial graph paper charts on Twitter this week, but I doubt all of you will have seen that. So, here's a couple of snaps (apologies for poor quality, they are iPhone photos):

House Tully and House Stark
House Lannister and House Baratheon
For some of the houses, I've been able to find images already charted that I've used for inspiration, but the rest of them have been designed from scratch (the House Greyjoy kraken was a bit of a challenge, as was the House Targaryen three-headed dragon). The charts are all done, and I've got a swatch on the go where I'm testing my gauge, measurements and the chart for the name STARK.

I've not done any intarsia work before, so this is going to be a rather exciting experiment. I'm going to do the blanket in Stylecraft Special DK acrylic as it's cheap and comes in a startling array of colours. I need 11 different colours to do this, and I've already picked them out from the Stylecraft range. Next step will be ordering the yarn, and testing out the charts for real.

I've also downloaded some free cross-stitch charting software, to help me generate colour charts for ease of working. If it all works out, I'm hoping to write up the patterns properly and upload them to Ravelry. Although, because of the sheer amount of work involved, I don't think these will be free patterns.

For more WIPs (with more up-to-date photos!), head on over to Tami's!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

At last! A Year of Projects update

Okay, so I've been a bit quiet on the old Year of Projects front for the last couple of weeks, mostly due to reading interfering with my crafting time. But now I'm done with the new George R. R. Martin book, I've reclaimed my spare hours for yarn crafts.

That said, I have successfully once again distracted myself from the WIPs on my list, as I decided (somewhat foolishly) to design a huge intarsia blanket based on the Game of Thrones. So I haven't made as much progress on the WIPs as I'd have liked this week, as I've mostly been drawing out charts and swatching for the blanket. More on that when I've actually got things to share!

The project I have picked back up is my Jane Austen shawl. And I realise I've actually made a fair amount of progress on it since I last shared a picture, so here you go:

For once, colours are quite accurately depicted. It is far more pink
than I originally anticipated! But that's fine, I like pink.

I'm on row 18 out of 32 now, so over half way through the main body of the shawl. I'm not sure how I'm doing in terms of yarn use, as I haven't weighed my yarn cake in a while. I expect I will need to break out the second skein at some point, but I'll have lots of left overs. Maybe I can make some sort of hair fascinator thing to match? I will be wearing it to a wedding, after all...

Speaking of my yarn cake.. I'm sure this is a common problem with laceweight yarn. When I first wound it, it was beautifully solid and structured.

Now, it's falling apart!

I've already had issues with the other end sneaking through the middle and tangling up on the working end. At the moment (as you can see) I'm relying on my knees to hold it in place while I work, but this isn't ideal. Any ideas on how to stabilise my yarn cake while I work with it?

Hopefully by next week I will have an FO to share, as my Victorian Scarf is only a few repeats away from finished. The trouble is, we've got another LRP event fast approaching, so a lot of my time this week will be devoted to finishing off kit making and packing. Hmmm, I wonder how portable that scarf will be, now I have no book to read I could knit on the train again...

Friday, 12 August 2011

FO flashback

It wouldn't be Friday without an FO to share. Sadly, my lack of knitting progress has been well documented over the past two weeks, so quite clearly I haven't magicked up a finished yarn-related project for you today.

Instead, let us fly back through the mists of time, so I can share with you a couple of old sewing projects I did a few years ago. They were both for Jamie's character when we were playing the Borgia-inspired noble house at LRP.

This tunic was the first thing I ever made using an actual pattern. It's pretty basic, granted, but I was so proud of myself when I finished! It was also a bit of a rush job. Burgundy velvet, lined with dark brown and edged with dark blue. Some of my seams are a little wonky but you can't really tell once Jamie's wearing it!

This was attempt two, done with more care and more time to spend on it. It's a bit more complicated. In fact, it was reading this post over at All Fingers and Thumbs earlier on today that reminded me of this project, as it also features peplums! Once again, as I'm sure you can tell, it's wonky as anything. Especially the collar. But, I'm still quite proud of it. I've had a hunt throught the old photos, and I can't seem to find anything that shows him actually wearing any of this kit though!

Looking back at the kit I've made previously is making me want to make more. Only two weeks to go till the next event now, though, so I probably won't have time. I've got other things to sort out in that time, including an enormous leather banner (more on that, later in the week).

I shall leave you with the best picture I can find from the wedding last weekend, showing off my sweet pea shawl with its beady dangly things. For some reason, I was quite accidentally camera-shy!

Head on over to Tami's for actual yarn FOs!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

WIP Wednesday Yarn Along

So, even less progress to report than last week! However, I am going to turn this to my advantage by joining in on another Wednesday link party - the Yarn Along hosted by Ginny over at Small Things.

All my current WIPs in a pile (bar one, actually, that I forgot about, but there's so little to see on that one it's not really worth sharing yet!).

In the project bag are the Easy Lace Stole (untouched for several weeks), the Jane Austen Shawl (worked on a little bit, maybe half a row since I last mentioned it?) and my daffodil filet panel (untouched for maybe a month or more). This bag lives beside my sofa, so I can dip in and out of it whenever I am watching TV. They are all fairly easy and mindless projects, although the filet panel has reached the point where I need to pay more attention than before.

Piled up at the back are the yarn cakes and motifs for my reverse engineered poncho. I took this to the wedding with me at the weekend, and had a mini Stitch 'n' Bitch with another friend who had brought her knitting too. I've done 12 motifs now, out of 120, so it is progressing, just slowly. In front of that is the Victorian Scarf, which is slowly winging its way towards done. It requires more concentration than the rest, but it's only an 8 row pattern repeat and it is very easy to get the hang of, so it's not a slow knit. This has been living loose on the coffee table next to the sofa, but I've just relocated these two projects into another project bag; I don't want to start losing my motifs as I finish them!

And the WIP that has absorbed all of my attention this week - A Dance With Dragons, book five of the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. After a six year wait, the book was finally released in July, but I've been re-reading my way through the first four to get myself in the mood for it, and caught up on the incredibly complex plots and the vast array of characters.

I started reading the new one on Sunday afternoon, and I am now about three quarters of the way through. I just can't put it down! I read on the train to and from work, an hour at lunchtime and a couple of hours each evening. I think I might finish it tonight, or tomorrow.

I have to say, I have not been disappointed by it so far, and I know it's going to end at a point that will make me desperate for book six to be released. Although, I have no idea when that will be. As long as we don't have to wait six more years I will be happy!

So head on over to Tami's to see more knitterly progress, and why not pop over to Ginny's to have a gander at what other folks are knitting and reading this week.

It's a downward spiral...

This Year of Projects is doing bad things for my yarn buying habits. Last month, I posted about how I finally have a stash of yarn, having bought in advance for some of the things on my list.

Last week I went one stage further down this slippery slope, and found myself doing two crazy things.

My first crazy thing was buying a skein of Wollmeise 80/20 Twin sock yarn from eBay. It's for my Hypernova scarf, which is not likely to be cast on for a couple of months; I'd like to get the Easy Lace Stole finished and out of the way first.

I had originally intended to use Malabrigo sock for this scarf, but decided after seeing so many projects in the Wollmeise that I should try and get my hands on some. I stalked the trade and sell pages on Ravelry, and eBay, and eventually plumped for this gorgeous purple and brown skein. Before I committed I checked out other finished objects on Ravelry in this colourway, to make sure I like how it knits up. It's amazing to see how different it looks depending on the pattern:

Mystery Summer Shawlette by siljadevine

Clothilde by LyaNox

Heika's Hitchhiker

anitakvz's Pointelle socks
Judging by the other Hypernova projects, mine should knit up quite stripey. Can't wait to get started, but for now, this lovely skein will have to sit on the shelf with all the other lovely skeins waiting to be knit or crocheted!

My second crazy thing: buying yarn without a project in mind! I've said before that I'm the kind of person who picks a project, chooses a yarn and then buys that yarn and only that yarn. If I have left overs, I do my best to find another project to use it up that doesn't require me to buy more yarn. However, I was idly browsing the internet last week, and noticed an advert for a destash of yarn (not in Ravelry, in a different forum). I thought I'd have a glance down the list, just in case there was anything exciting. There was.

Four balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky in chocolate brown! I haven't even started knitting with the DK or Aran weights of this yarn I've bought, and I already love it so much to want more. I believe this may have been discontinued already, but I'm not sure. It's definitely hard to get hold of; most places I've looked have very limited numbers of a limited range of colours.

So, the question now arises: what to do with 250 yards of chunky cashmerino yarn?

Free Rapunzel hat, by tiny owl knits

I am tempted by this hat. Of course, for this I will need new knitting needles, and to suddenly develop the ability to knit hats. I may add it to my list of projects for the YoP, if I get to the end of my knitting list and still have time to go before the end of June 2012. Or else I'll just make it anyway, when I feel like it!

If you have any other suggestions for patterns to use my Cashmerino Chunky for, I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

I made bling!

Firstly, today is Wednesday, so I should be posting all about my WIPs. Especially today, as Tami is celebrating a whole year of WIP Wednesday link ups over on her blog. Go check it out, it's amazing. Plus, there's a fab giveaway for a skein of Candy Skein yarn!

But my WIP progress report would be extremely dull. A row here, a row there. No progress at all on some projects. So instead, here's an update on my foray into jewellery making, as introduced on Saturday.

With the wedding fast approaching, I have devoted most of the small amount of crafting time I've had available this week to making 50 of these pretty dangly beady things to decorate my Sweet Pea Shawl.

So hard to get a good photo!

Last night, I finished the last one. I had exactly enough lobster clasps, way too many head pins, and slightly too many beads in both sizes, so my earlier worry about breaking one of the smaller glass beads wasn't necessary. I did have to get creative with my colour choices towards the end, as the mix of colours in each bag of beads wasn't exactly the same. I kept to the same colours for each one, but overall there is a nice mix between reds, greens, blues, yellows, blacks and pinks.

A selection of some of the prettiest ones.
I seem to have missed out the green!
I'm still not sure on the best way to wear the shawl on Saturday. My dress is quite short, so just wearing it over my shoulders with the point down the back isn't going to work. I will have to have a bit of a play between now and Saturday.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...