Monday, 31 January 2011

Just Another Manic Monday

I had a really good weekend seeing mum, and showing off my new jumper *grins*.

The impressively even back...

My final workaround for that troublesome neck...

And last, but clearly the opposite of least, the fab front... Check out those cables ;)

Mum was impressed to say the least *proud smile*

We went shopping on Saturday and bought lots of lovely things (nothing crafty though - retail therapy of the ready-made, instant gratification kind!) Then we popped in to see my grandparents, both of whom were also impressed with my jumper.

I'm making it sound like the weekend was all about the jumper, but we did talk about other things too *laughs*

I just wish I could have stayed longer. But, back to work this morning, with a full to do list and a sense of Monday Morning ennui!


Pattern: Big Sack Sweater from Stitch 'n' Bitch
Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool Aran
Modifications: button at the neck
Difficulty: 2/5
Fun-ness: Started pretty high, but got dull halfway through!

New Skills

  • Cables
  • Seaming (not fantastically well, but next time will be easier!)
  • Picking up stitches

Friday, 28 January 2011

Elementary My Dear

My jumper is finished *pauses for applause* In fact, I'm wearing it right now (and bloody hell, it's warm!) But, until my mum has seen it in person, there will be no picture.

I'm not sure if this is a common thing, but as soon as I'd finished it, properly, including weaving in ends and stuff, I wasn't sure if I liked it any more. This morning I'm much happier with it, even though it's pretty far from perfect. So far a colleague, who knitted when he was younger so actually knows what goes into making these things, has been pretty impressed. According to him, it doesn't look like I knitted it myself - which I'm taking as a pretty big compliment *smiles*

So, instead of pictures of that (and in preparation for the brown-ness of the next post), I present to you.... my shower curtain!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Slightly Less Stupid Jumper

So, jumper is almost finished.

I redid the neck, again, and it is still not quite right *sigh* It's blocking at the moment, so hopefully it'll stretch to the required size. If not, I have bought a button that will look quite nice as a closure. Not perfect, but I couldn't do that bloody neck again!

My seams are... well, certainly not perfect. Not sure if I misunderstood the mattress stitch instruction, or just did it badly, but I have to say I actually quite like the way they look. They're a bit uneven, but hopefully the blocking process will smooth the worst of that out.

When I'd finished the knitting and seaming, I was a bit perturbed by the fact that the jumper was really quite short.  Yet he arms are the right length, and I followed the pattern for the body exactly (perhaps I should have twigged that I needed an extra repeat or two, being that I like jumpers long, but hey, it was my first time!) So it's currently stretching out... Bit worried about the arms though, they really don't need to get any longer - I'm not a gorilla *laughs*

No picture yet, I'm wearing the jumper when I see mum, so no sneak peaks!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Stupid Jumper

It was all going so well *sigh*

I've finished the body and sleeves of the jumper, connected them together in order to do the neck and done the neck... Twice so far.

Picking up stitches went fine, knitting the shorter version of the rolled neck, fine. Then I cast off. My cast off was far too tight, which was a small problem when I realised that once the neck was seamed together, there was no way it would fit over my head (and I have a fairly small head).

So I unwound that, then decided that I'd actually prefer the longer version of the neck (which, frankly I should have known in the first place, I was just being too impatient and wanted to get it finished). So I redid the whole of the neck, with a stretchier (apparently) cast off.

Still too tight.

So, this evening, I will be starting the neck again. For the third time *growls*

This time, I think I'll pick up more stitches than the pattern called for, it's supposed to be a slouchy neck after all, and mine would have been snug around the neck - no wonder it wouldn't go over my head! I may also change to larger needles for the bind off, so that I can make it a little looser... Not sure how well that will work with the pattern though.

I don't know why this part has gone so wrong, the rest was going so well, but my gauge seems to have gone all awry suddenly and I just can't get it to work. But I am determined to. I could probably bodge it slightly to work, but I want it to be done well. I'm certain that in years to come, I'll look back on this first jumper and laugh at how amateur it is, but for now it's the biggest thing I've done and it'll be done as well as I bloody can.

So as to avoid leaving on a sulky and cross note, here is a picture of some pandas.

Monday, 24 January 2011

When Life Gives you Lemons...

... Make Cheesecake *grins*

I went to see a friend of mine on Saturday night. Phil made dinner and, as is our tradition, I took cheesecake.

I love this cheesecake. I've been using this recipe since making it at a school cookery lesson and it is still my favourite ever cheesecake (in fairness, closely followed by Prezzo's Honeycomb Smash Cheesecake).

The only modification to the original recipe is a ginger biscuit base, instead of digestives, idea courtesy of my mum who knew it would be soooooo much better as a result.

I realised that I've been making this for 15 years *wide eyes* Ok, so that makes me feel old!


100g Ginger biscuits - crushed
60g Butter - melted

1 small tub Philadelphia (you can use "light", but this is a hugely calorific recipe - so it makes no difference *laughs)
1 small tub Double Cream
4tbsp Caster Sugar
Zest and juice of 2 large Lemons

Mix the melted butter into the crushed biscuits, pack down into your chosen cheesecake dish (for this one I made them in individual ramekins, but a springform cake tin works well). Refrigerate.

Soften the Philly and mix in the sugar. Add the lemon zest and gradually add the juice (if you add all the juice at once it tends to develop lumps and then you have to waste time mixing it back to smoothness). You might not need all of the juice, probably only three quarters of it, unless you like it really, really tart!

Whip the cream (you want it as firm as you can) then fold into the Philly mixture. Pour over the biscuit base.

It looks very soft (and it is - I hate baked cheesecakes) so it needs time in the fridge. Overnight preferably, though it still won't be without gorgeous, silky, creamy wobbliness! Of course, making it in ramekins means that it doesn't matter that it's not altogether firm.

I also made some candied lemon peel to go on the top, but I pretty much made that up as I went along, so no recipe for that one!


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

But I don't like it, and my pictures keep disappearing thanks to blogger, and photobucket isn't working right.... Aaaargh!

Must find a better way *determined stomping off*

Friday, 21 January 2011


I posted a little while ago about the projects on my ever-growing "to knit" list.

Here are the projects that I want to try, but are on my "only when I'm much better at knitting" list *laughs*

Little Birds by Ysolda. I love the shape of this, and the pattern is really sweet... I just need to learn colourwork before I attempt it. As I have a fair few techniques yet to learn, this pattern is still on my "one day" pile.

Sylvi by Mari Muinonen. Perhaps not too complicated, although I've only done very simple cables so far. I think that the volume of knitting for this might be putting me off slightly, I already want my damn jumper to be finished. At least it doesn't appear to involve endless stocking stitch - that's a bonus! Click to embiggen (and therefore see the lack of stocking stitch!)

And this utterly adorable Bat Shawl by Emilee Mooney. I love this *covets* But my attention span and current inability to even get very simple lace patterns correct is giving me some pause. I really want to make it, I just want to make it well, and that feels like it might be beyond me at the moment.

And a close up, just to show how cute those little bats are:

Looking back at these, they're not nearly as complicated as I recall thinking they were when I first saw them. Blowing my own trumpet here slightly, but I'm so proud of how far I've come, given that I have only been knitting for 2 and a half months *puffs out chest* For some reason, it has sort of clicked, much more so than I was expecting (I mean, come on, I started doing it entirely wrong!)

So maybe my "one day" projects won't be as far away as I was thinking...

Or, maybe, I have so many things on my wish list that I'll be knitting forever ;)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Boring Progress Update

I finished the first sleeve on my brown jumper, so I now have 1 sleeve and the neck left to knit. Then I have to block it all out and sew it together, but I'm ignoring that bit and focusing on the fact that it's nearly done!

I really want it done by next week, so I can wear it when I head to visit my mum *waves "hi mum"*

I seem to have a habit of knitting to a deadline, not sure if this is entirely sensible, but at least it stops me leaving unfinished objects just languishing!

In other news, my Richard Castle book arrived. It's so cute, with the dedication being the same as they mention on the show, and the cover quotes referring to him "doing his research". My only dilemma now is whether I read it immediately (which is what I want to do!) or keep it for the next few weeks to take on holiday with me *ponders*

I'm not great at delayed gratification, so hanging on to it until holiday might be tough, but hopefully I'll have enough knitting to keep me occupied until then. It does seem to eat into my reading time!

And, because this is not exactly an exciting or visually engaging post, here's a picture of a paintball being shot with an air rifle (don't ask me why, I just like the colours *laughs*)

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


This morning, a collection of fabulosity...

The front of my jumper (no sniggering at the back, I think it's fabulous and that's all that counts *grins*)

The awesome shoes I was wearing yesterday (I would have posted them while I was wearing them, but the fat ninjas took over and just wouldn't share the limelight!)

Craft supplies that I got in my Christmas stocking. Ok, I know that craft supplies don't usually come under the heading "fab", but I just love the packaging. Cardboard die-cuts, packaged in crisp bags (or chip bags if you're American) I don't want to open them though!

Cute little pink bells that I got during post Christmas shopping. No idea what to do with them, but so cute!

This gorgeous lamp, link courtesy of the utterly fabulous Jen at Epbot. I want it, oh I want it for my own *ignores the fact that I'm quoting a Nightmare Before Christmas song and moves on*

 So, that's the fabulousness on my mind this morning *smiles*

Monday, 17 January 2011


I finished the front of my brown jumper over the weekend... Without cocking up the cabling ;) Very relieved at not having to confess to my smugness getting me into trouble *laughs* I'm halfway through sleeve one now, and the endless stocking stitch is starting to get a little tiresome. My enjoyment of increasing and decreasing is also waning, now that I don't really have to think about it any more.

I'm bored of posting brown pictures, so no photos of progress. Instead, some baking...

I made ninjabread men yesterday *grins*

Pre-baking photos:

(I still can't figure out how to rotate photos on blogger, oops)

Post baking photo:

They look a little obese, huh?! I know biscuits spread while cooking, I was expecting that, so I'm thinking these guys are more like Sumo Ninjas! Or, at least, Ninjas who have let themselves go a bit *laughs* I am calling them Finjas.

I'm not actually that keen on the way they taste though :( After spending ages trying to find a recipe that only included ingredients I already had in the house, I ended up using the one provided on the back of the cookie cutter packet. It's ok, but they're a little bitter.

Though I suppose you would be bitter if you were a fat ninja ;)

(edited to add: yes, I am aware that I said I was bored of brown pictures and then proceeded to put up some pictures of biscuits that happen to be... well, brown *rolls eyes at self* I'm a moron, what can I say?!)

Friday, 14 January 2011

Knitting Personality

I was reading something the other day about different types of knitting personality. Some people are process knitters and some people are product knitters... Somewhat self-explanatory really, whether you enjoy doing the knitting or having the finished object the most.

I haven't quite decided which category I fall into, it seems to depend on a few things. What can I say, I'm complicated *laughs*

  • If I'm knitting something I really want to wear, then I want the product
  • If the yarn or pattern is not entirely fun, again I'm all about the product
  • If I'm collapsed in front of the TV with very little brain power, the process is what I want
  • If the process is particularly tactile, that's what holds me to the project
So, when I was making the purple shrug, the process was my focus. I loved knitting with that yarn so much that I carried on going, despite knowing that it was unlikely the product would resemble the pattern. 

Once I'd finished that knit, however, the product was crucial. I'd have been gutted if it had come out completely awful (that may have more to do with it being my first knitted garment though!)

My brown jumper is somewhere else. I want the product, so that's my focus. Endless rows of stocking stitch are not entirely engaging (apart from during the aforementioned TV-collapse moments), so the process isn't altogether that much fun. However (see, told you I was complicated), after the endless stocking stitch, there are more interesting things like increases and decreases. I'm sure that these are pretty dull to an experienced knitter, but I'm still at a stage where they're quite exciting new skills.

So, which is it? Product or process? Is there a third option, can I be "Contrary Knitter"? Or maybe "Ah whatever, who needs labels anyway" ;)

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Knit ALL The Things

I seem to have a problem. A new problem.

There are too many things I want to knit! And of course, each thing takes considerable time and care, so I don't get to move on to new things for what seems like forever *petulant pout*

I'm trying to be good, and have no more than 2 things on the needles at any time. I can't stick to just one, I get too fed up, but if I had as many things on the go as I want to I'd never finish anything! The slight sticking point here is that I technically have 3 unfinished things, my brown jumper, wisp scarf and the feather and fan scarf.

Poor feather and fan scarf has been callously neglected. It's not complicated, and I was enjoying making it, but it's cotton yarn and not altogether lovely to knit with. Which was fine until I bought all the gorgeously soft and fluffy stuff after Christmas and hurled the cotton to one side. Ooops.

So I thought I'd post a few pictures of things in my queue, the things I want to knit. These are the things I will (eventually) get round do doing. My aspirational "I'll never manage that in a million years" projects can wait for a different post.

For reference (although I may regret this when mine turns out looking nothing like it), this is the anticipated finished article for my brown jumper:

Also from Stitch 'n' Bitch, and the top I bought the purple Kidsilk Aura in anticipation of making:

Sorry for the rubbishness of the pictures, it's not easy trying to take a picture of a book at night with an overhead light!

An easy enough project, that I actually already started. "My So Called Scarf" by Allison Isaacs. I cast it on in Sirdar Big Softie, which I hated working with, was too tight for the stitch pattern and just didn't look right at all. I think the fact that it was all one colour really detracted from the pattern. My first lesson in the fact that "you need the right yarn for the project" extends beyond just the weight of the yarn.

I love wearing vest/tank tops over shirts for work, and really want to make one myself (also, no sleeves means it shouldn't take quite as long as a jumper!) I particularly like the shape of this one, and I do want to learn colourwork at some point, so this is definitely on my to do list. Devon by Alexandra Closs:

This one was originally on my aspirational list, but as I have discovered that cables aren't nearly as challenging as expected, I may give it a go. It still has a bunch of skills I've never tried though, so it'll be a little while before I tackle it: OWLS by Kate Davies:

And I'd like to take another stab at this. This was the pattern I was supposed to be following when I created my purple shrug *tries to ignore the vast discrepancy between the two* My gauge being off meant that I ended up with something entirely different, but it was a really quick and enjoyable knit.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Some Stuff I Can't Think of a Title For ;)

I figure that the limited progress I have made on my brown jumper will be an utterly lame blog post, but that's currently the only thing I'm working on (and my Wisp scarf, but again, limited progress). So instead, I thought I'd post some stuff I think is pretty cool:

First up, I love the TV Series Castle ...

Pause in broadcast for a gratuitous picture of Nathan Fillion (ok, so the picture is from Firefly, don't judge, I still miss it *pines*)

Anyway, this honestly wasn't (just) an excuse to post that picture, the awesome is to follow...

I found out yesterday that you can buy the books the character Richard Castle is writing in the series, Heat Wave and Naked Heat. The books are actually the same as the books in the show, down to the characters, the "author" (obviously ghost written, but still...) and the covers.

How cool is that?! I've ordered Heat Wave, by all accounts it is actually a pretty good story, if it is then I have no doubt that I'll order Naked Heat too. How lame is it that I'm actually quite excited about this?!

I need to get baking, because I got these for Christmas...

I may also have to try and ice them, so that they actually look like ninjas... *wonders if there's some form of almost black biscuit I could make*

I have to learn how to make this hat:

It's on Etsy, but I don't feel like paying $20 for it. I figure some chunky white wool to make a regular beanie, then stitching the details on after. Not sure if that'll work for the eyes though *has a think* But I have so many knitting projects I want to make that this can probably wait a while.

And finally, I bring you news that today, for possibly the first time in my life, I am wearing bright red lipstick *strikes a pose* Considering I almost never wear lipstick of any description, this is a significant departure for me. But I'm wearing a black and white dress, black tights and black boots, so I decided a bit of colour would be fun... And it is *grins* I'm quite enjoying the vampy feeling ;)

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

How Now, Brown... Jumper

As I've made a little bit more progress on the brown jumper, I thought I'd post some pics. It is, however, quite hard to make them look good, given the overwhelming brown-ness of everything! It looks good in real life though, honest *laughs*

So, the exciting looking back of the jumper:

Ok, not so exciting. But I was very proud of my incredibly even decreasing for the armholes:

Also not that exciting in picture form really, is it? Well, I'm impressed with it anyway ;)

The front has a cable running up the front, that you can't really see in this picture due to it being all squashed up on the needles. That, and the fact that I've only done one repeat so far...

Before I started the jumper I thought I'd better see if I was capable of making cables, they look so complicated that I was a bit worried I'd struggle. So I tested them out on a plain square (or rectangle in the end) of cheaper yarn to get used to the technique:

No one told me they were so damn easy *laughs*! I was expecting complicated moving of stitches on and off the cable needle every row, struggling to move said stitches, paying lots of attention to where I was so I didn't cock it up (which is usually my downfall, short attention span you see)... I didn't realise that all the work is done in one row per repeat *revelationary grin* So now I can make something that looks complicated, but is actually not, and feel marvellously smug ;)

Which will probably bite me in the arse, pride commeth before a fall and all that. I'm now expecting to be soon writing a follow-up post where I have made some stupid error and had to start over *yikes face*

Monday, 10 January 2011

Monkey Business

Ok, so there seems to be a bit of an animal theme emerging at the moment!

Knitting-wise, I'm currently making a jumper, so progress is slow but ongoing. I finished the back over the weekend but it's not much to take a picture of, being a large piece of brown knitting, so I thought I'd blog something a bit more colourful instead. As the front has cabling, that might make for a better post when it's done.

So, onto the monkeys...

After I bought my sewing machine, made my cushion covers and altered a couple of tops, I wanted to make something else. But my ambition far outweighed my ability, and a couple of disastrous attempts at bags and clothing later, I decided to scale down a bit *wry smile*

Which is where sock monkeys came in. I can't quite remember where the idea came from, but a bit of online research turned up a tutorial and off I went to the shops. One sock-buying-frenzy later I had my supplies.

I'm not posting a picture of the first one I made, it's utterly hideous. For some reason boyfriend likes it though (well, he says he likes it, he's amazingly supportive of my random obsessions!). I've made quite a few now, with a small amount of improvement... well, if you don't look too closely anyway ;)

This little one I have sat on my desk at work, and I made a similar one in purple zebra stripes for my best friend.

This one was for my brother, a mascot for his festival. I believe he has named it Phil. He took some great pics of it out and about, must get him to send me them again.

This one was for my cousin and his boyfriend. They imaginitively named it "Monkeybutt" *laughs* It's a whole lot bigger than the others I made, being crafted from giant man-socks, but I loved the pattern.

And this last one is my mum's (actually, I made her 2, one for home and one for her desk at work), which she kindly sent me a picture of sat on her bed. It's made of really fluffy socks, so it's gorgeously soft but it was evil to sew! I had to do most of it by hand as it kept gumming up my sewing machine. 

As is my way with any new craft, I went mad buying millions of pairs of socks. Then promptly stopped making sock monkeys *rolls eyes* I will make some more, I actually quite enjoy it, despite the hand sewing component of putting them together. I really don't need to make any more though, I've given away at least 7 and I still have an army of them taking over my house!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Animal Magic


I have a small problem...

I like posting daily, or at least close to it. Which in itself isn't a problem of course. No, the problem is that knitting takes forever, and there are only so many work in progress shots you can post without things getting interminably dull!

Hence the picture of my lunchbox yesterday (well, that and the fact that it's awesome!) So my new plan is for this blog to also cover some of the other stuff I like and do and am amused by. Just have to think of some now *laughs*

Thursday, 6 January 2011


No craft news this morning, but check out my cute new lunchbox!!!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Wisp of Dust

As promised, a work in progress shot of the Kidsilk Haze that will become "Wisp" - a really pretty fishnet lace wrap.

So far I've done 4 panels of the fishnet lace, and have managed to make mistakes in exactly 3 of those panels *rolls eyes* Clearly I'm not cut out for lace knitting, but I am determined to get there.

Close up of the one panel with no cock-ups... For motivational purposes *laughs*

I know it all looks like a bunch of noodles now, but I am reliably informed by the whole of the knitting blogosphere that blocking such projects works miracles. Which is good, as it really doesn't look like the picture from the pattern just yet!

Incidentally, it is impossible to take a picture of this without it looking like I haven't dusted for some time, but I think it'll be gorgeous when it's done *looks menacingly at the noodles* It will be gorgeous. 

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

My First Garment

Although this isn't the first thing I finished knitting, it is the first thing that actually counts as clothing, rather than accessories.

So, here it is, my first finished garment *huge, proud grin*

I modified a capelet pattern. Modifications were a slight necessity upon realising that my gauge was slightly off. Oh, and the fact that about halfway through I decided I wasn't entirely convinced that I even wanted a capelet *rolls eyes*

So I made it longer than planned, and blocked it into a new shape, and have a sorta shrug thing. I even knitted I-cord to fasten it with.

I'm wearing it to work today, and I'm so proud, but a tiny bit annoyed that no one has immediately looked at it in wonder and awe - although I could take that as a compliment, at least it doesn't look homemade ;) I've actually changed where to fasten it, to just below the bust, which looks better, but boyfriend is poorly and not up to taking additional photos, so these will have to suffice.

It's made out of the Alpaca silk yarn I bought at John Lewis and was a joy to knit, the yarn is a soft as butter and was just gorgeous slipping through my hands. I nearly made it twice as long, just so I could carry on *smiles* I used 2 and a half balls of it, so I have a ball and a half left to play with. Maybe some sort of cowl/snood/scarf, so I can enjoy the snuggliness of it more often *ponders*

New skills learned:

  • Raglan sleeves
  • I-cord
  • Paying attention to a pattern! (at least until about halfway...ooops)
  • Modifying something to my preference (and it not going horribly wrong)
  • Blocking a non-rectangular garment
I consider this a success!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Yarn Stash!

Last week I went to John Lewis to enhance my yarn stash. So far I've only bought what I've needed for a specific project, and I had a couple of things in mind that I want to make, so I thought I'd pop to the sales to see if I could find what I was after.

I may have got a bit carried away...!

For the jumper I'm planning to make (one of the ones in Stitch and Bitch), Rowan Pure Wool Aran:

For "Wisp", 2 balls of Rowan Kidsilk Haze, in what I am referring to as "the colour of dust". WIP shots to follow.  

No idea what I plan to make with this, but it felt so soft that I had to buy some. Debbie Bliss Como, 5 balls of the oatmeal colour and 4 of the soft green. The green colour is so much nicer than in this shot, but I couldn't seem to get a good picture.

This is a little closer to the colour, but not by much :(

Terrible photo of the Rowan Kidsilk Aura, 5 balls in a really deep, dark purple. It's almost black (I did actually also get one ball of black, but there's no way to take a good photo of that!) I think I have a plan for this lot - another Stitch and Bitch jumper that I quite like the look of.

And this is my favourite - Debbie Bliss Alpaca silk. It's a much nicer purple than in this picture, and so incredibly soft. Absolutely gorgeous. I got 4 balls, and I've already made something with two and a half of them! More on that FO later.

So, that's my haul. I also got some new bamboo DPNs to replace the ones I used for my mitts (which are bent out of shape, and one snapped), some bamboo 5mm and 6mm needles and a couple of other oddments.

Overall, I spent a little bit more than I was planning, but I'm really pleased with what I found, and can't wait to get knitting with it all. Just need to find patterns for the stuff I hadn't planned to buy...