Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Unusual Words

As I have very little inspiration this morning, I turn to my trusty "list of unusual words" topic *laughs* I haven't done one for a while and I do enjoy them, so it seemed like a good plan...

My theme for this list is "words that I never knew existed/words that really have no need to exist"!

Agraffe - the wire that holds the cork in a champagne bottle
Callipygian - having beautiful or elegantly shaped buttocks
Dactylion - the tip of the middle finger
Erinaceous - relating to, or resembling, hedgehogs
Jumetous - smelling like horse urine
Mytacism - the incorrect or excessive use of the letter M
Preantepenultimate - fourth from last
Qualtagh - the first person you see upon leaving your house
Witzelsucht - a feeble attempt at humour

And, as always, one to tie this in to my blog:

Ulotrichous - having very wooly hair *laughs*

Monday, 30 January 2012

Nerd Wars

So, I decided late last week to sign up for...

A tournament of geekiness, Nerd Wars is a friendly Ravelry crafting competition among different kinds of nerds. I didn't participate in any of the earlier tournaments, but I thought it would be fun to join in this time. I'm pretty new to the concept, so I have no idea what's going on at this stage, but I'm sure I'll pick it up as I go along *laughs*

I joined Team Impala, for lovers of the TV show Supernatural. I was torn between this team and Team Browncoats (Firefly) but in the end I figured that Supernatural would probably have more scope for tying my projects to the theme!

Anyway, once I have a bit more of a clue about what I'm doing, I'll let you know ;)

Friday, 27 January 2012

A Conversation Piece*

So, as you may have gathered from yesterday's post, I finished my fair isle hat *grins* And it was fair easier than I expected.

I utilised boyfriend's wooden head to show it off, so much easier than trying to take pictures of my own head *laughs*

Although the pattern is for a tam shaped hat, as you can see, I have left it as a beanie shape. This is partly because it came out quite small and I thought it might look silly trying to be a tam, but mostly because I am not entirely convinced that the tam is a good shape for me ;)

This does mean that the crown isn't quite as striking as it might be, but I think it still looks really cool:

I'm really happy with my first try at colourwork, it went much smoother than I expected, no tangles or tantrums or anything *laughs* Here's a larger version of the close-up from yesterday, and I'm really impressed with how even it looks (I was expecting it to come out all lumpy and bumpy!)

So, details:

Pattern: Tam #3 from Three Tams
Yarn: cream - Lamb's Pride Worsted, coloured - Knit One Crochet Two Paintbox (the coloured yarn was slightly disappointing, the colour changes are a little muddy and it felt like it might disintegrate in my hands a few times) But as a finished project it did use up a ball and a half from stash ;)
Modifications: just the shape, and a small error in following the chart at one point

Other: you might be able to see from the pictures that I did manage to get the ribbing completely wrong. I followed the first line of the pattern, to set up the colour pattern (alternate knit stitches of each colour) but managed to skip the next instruction which was the knit the main colour and purl the contrast. So, my ribbing is not so much ribbing. Ooops ;) Luckily it looks cute slightly rolled up anyway *laughs*

Of course, using a wooden head for the pictures is effective, but gives you no indication of how it actually looks on my head... So I managed a slightly awkward and badly lit shot just for you guys *smiles*

See, it fits!

It's Friday, you know what to do by now... Visit Tami'sNatural Suburbia and Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Have a great weekend

*"I can wear a hat or take it off, but either way it's a conversation piece" - Hedda Hopper

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Huh... So that wasn't as hard as expected either!

I mentioned yesterday that I had finished my fair isle hat *grins* Proper showing off will come tomorrow, for finished object Friday, of course.  But after posting last week about how socks aren't as hard as people expect , I thought I would continue the theme ;)

I've always been a bit intimidated by fair isle. It looks so complicated, and was something else that I thought only really accomplished knitters could do. But I had some yarn for a fair isle hat that I won in a giveaway and decided to add "colourwork" to my crafting goals for this year.

So, I cast on just to test the water. And it wasn't as hard as I expected. I got this far pretty quickly:

I was amazed at what I was achieving *grins* It looks like it should and everything. 

So I carried on, and tried a few tips I'd received through some comments on my first post about it. My tension was pretty tight, but for my first attempt I was amazed that I was doing it at all. And when I blocked it, everything seemed to even up nicely:

I started with my usual style of knitting (English), and dropped the colour I wasn't using as I went. After a while I got a bit sick of picking up and dropping the yarn so I tried holding the contrast colour in my left hand. Incredibly, I got the hang of it and could knit with yarn in each hand. I felt like a bit of a superhero when I managed that *laughs*

As you can probably tell, I am pretty proud of myself at this point. But the fact is, it really isn't as hard as I expected. I picked up a load of new skills (fair isle, picking instead of throwing, reading a chart) which felt fantastic, but I felt like I was cheating - it really is simpler than it looks ;)

This discovery of course meant that I started looking at loads of colourwork patterns. I have yarn to make another hat first, for practice and to improve my tension, but then I want to move on to exciting new things. I can try things with more than 2 colours, for example. 

And then I remembered putting a pattern on my "one day, when I'm good enough" list. Little Birds, by Ysolda Teague:

I love the shape and the simplicity of this pattern. Now I feel like I can actually make it *grins*

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Work In Progress Wednesday Number 36

Last week I had a very busy WIP picture, having had a bit of a casting on frenzy... This week, I have had a bit of a finishing frenzy instead *laughs* So, the scarf, hat and swap cowl are all done. I'll be posting about the hat on Friday, as it's the one I am most proud of ;)

You may wonder if this means I have cast on more projects to replace them. It's a fair assumption *laughs* But no, I have been working on the 3 WIPs I still have, showing remarkable restraint!

You can see that I have dragged the fuzzy ballet sweater out of hibernation finally. I stopped knitting it last year because I was focusing on Christmas presents, but as I only need to finish the sleeves and seam it together, it seemed a waste to leave it hanging around!

My Princess Unicorn sock now has a heel. And a much more sensible shape than my last pair of socks *laughs* See...?!

My Shalom cardigan has passed the twisted rib yoke and is ready to divide for the sleeves. I'm making it in a particularly cheap and cheerful yarn, 80% acrylic/20% wool. Similar to the one I used for my hooded cardigan. I forgot how much I actually really like this yarn. It's surprisingly soft, knits up nicely and is very easy to work with and care for. It's certainly not the most luxurious, but great for a cardigan that I hope will get a lot of wear.

As for the book - I am reading "The Raw Shark Texts". I picked it up from the library, based entirely on the title and the cover *laughs* I'm not far into it yet, but it seems interesting and a bit different.

As ever, if you want more lovely knitting and reading content, head to Tami's and Ginny's *smiles* And this week I am also linking up at Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Crafting On.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Yarn Cocktails

I realised that I completely forgot to tell you about a new knitting book that I bought after Christmas. It was in the sales, and I probably wouldn't have picked it up had it not been for the fact that it was only 50p *laughs*

The Knitter's Guide to Yarn Cocktails.

If I'm honest, I was most drawn to it by the picture on the cover, and the price ;) The book is slightly strange, with all the patterns named after cocktails - most of which don't bear any resemblance to the pattern or even the colour of the yarn used. But it is a bit of (cheap) fun, especially the slightly bizarre pattern descriptions!

There are a couple of patterns that I may consider making at some point. And there are a few that are, quite frankly, terrifying:

The Banana Boat Men's Boxers, for example.

Funnily enough, boyfriend has requested that I do not, ever, under any circumstances, make these for him *laughs*

Monday, 23 January 2012

Forgotten Stash

As we know, I am currently working on a goal of knitting from stash (as are many other bloggers this year!)

I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the yarns in my stash and think about why I haven't done anything with them yet *laughs* Hopefully it'll give me a kick to get round to using them ;)

This is the oldest stashed item I think. 3 balls of superwash sock yarn. I'd bought it to make a capelet thing from Vampire Knits, before realising that I would never wear a capelet! I'll probably use it to make socks at some point, but I have much more exciting sock yarn in my stash, so who knows when this may see the light of day!

2 skeins of 100% silk, in a greeny-grey colour. It is gorgeous, and I had started making a scarf with it but it went wrong and I gave up on it. I have a pattern queued for this, ready for when I want to make a silk scarf.

100% alpaca DK in a lovely dusky purple. I originally bought 5 balls of this, which wasn't really enough to do anything with. I have now acquired another 3 (in the same dyelot no less) so I now have enough to make a v-neck vest, which is what I wanted to do in the first place *laughs* This will probably be the next garment I cast on.

100% bamboo (apparently!) that I got from ebay. As it is from Hong Kong, I don't have much information to go on as the label is not in English, so I need to try and measure how much I have. As it is a lighter yarn, this will definitely have to wait until warmer weather.

Sock yarn, won in a swap in June. I think I'm hesitating on this one because I want to make interesting socks but I'm stumped as to what pattern might work with the colours in the yarn.

My lovely llama yarn, bought at knit nation. I do have a plan for this, and nearly started it a while ago. But the pattern calls for a lot of 2x2 rib, and I was working on my mum's ribbed cardigan at the time and couldn't face another one!

And my Wollmeise. I'm wavering on what to knit with this. Whether I go for luxury socks, a shrug, a wrap... I don't want to make the wrong decision!

Of course, I have plenty of other stashed yarn awaiting action too, but these were the ones that jumped out at me this morning ;)

Friday, 20 January 2012

Public Service Announcement

This is a public service announcement about the dangers of knitting while drinking. You may not think it can happen to you, but please pay attention just in case.

On Christmas Eve, heading out to meet my mum and brother at the hotel we'd booked for the next few days, I grabbed some knitting to take with me. I decided to start a plain, toe-up vanilla sock, something I knew I could work on while chatting.

I did not take into account that I would also be drinking. Not heavily, but apparently too much to knit well *laughs* Even just knitting stocking stitch in the round.

So, as this is a PSA, here are some of the side effects you may experience should you drink and knit.

  • You may forget to stop decreasing your toe at a sensible number of stitches, and end up with 16 stitches more than you ordinarily would for a pair of socks
  • You may not notice this until some considerable time has passed
  • You may decide that you are not in the mood to rip back, and carry on regardless
  • You may come up with the cunning plan to make the foot slightly shorter, to stretch the stitches a little 
  • You may, after finishing the foot, realise that you need to decrease the number of stitches to avoid having baggy ankles
  • You may throw these decreases in randomly at the start of the next few rows, without giving it much thought
You may, as a result, end up with a sock that has a footprint that looks like this:

And a profile that looks like this... Behold, The Drunken Sock of Deformity. It sort of looks like a fish to me!

Strangely, this sock actually fits. It's obviously not the best fit, but on my foot it looks pretty normal. Normal enough that I made a second one, at least *laughs*

Drunken Sock of Deformity is on the right. On the left is the second sock, which presented its own dilemma... Whether to knit it the same as the other, to make a properly matching pair, or to make it normal sized. 

I settled on a compromise, of not making it so badly as the first, but still not quite right. Apparently I hit a sweet spot in the yarn, and ended up with crazy pooling colours instead. 

They swish around the foot. It's quite fun really. I know lots of people hate pooling yarns, but I wanted my socks to pool (in fact, I was disappointed that the first sock didn't!)

So, in conclusion, knitting and drinking is not something I can recommend. Even if you do end up with a pair of socks that have a good story behind them *laughs*

On the plus side, they are made with stashed yarn that I received in a swap. I think I had taken the yarn off my previously published totals already, as the socks were finished before the new year, but at least it's something else out of the stash!

And if you're reading this and thinking about how hard socks are to knit, I encourage you to read yesterday's post *grins*

Of course, being Friday, head out to see some more (hopefully less drunken) FOs, Creativity and Fibre Arts. Have a good weekend :)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Socks are Hard

I’ve posted before about how much the world of blogging introduced me to projects and ideas that I’d never considered before. The most notable of these has to be socks... And as I have seen a few of my favourite bloggers venturing into the land of sock making recently, I got to thinking about them in probably more depth than is healthy *laughs*

My second ever pair of socks, and probably still my favourites!

I’m sad to say that I don’t recall the blog that first introduced me to the concept of hand knit socks, but from the moment I saw them I wanted to make my own pair. There was just a small snag; I was a beginner with only a scarf and a half under my belt. The blogs on which I saw these wonderful creations seemed to belong to wonderfully accomplished knitters who could no doubt knock up a pair of socks in a matter of moments while juggling a million other crafty and clever things. But for me, well, socks would be far too hard. Wouldn’t they?

The comments on the blogs I was reading supported this idea, saying how impressive the knitter was, how hard it was to knit socks, how the commenter daren’t try because it would be too tough.

I put the idea out of mind for a while, though not before I bought a beginner sock kit just in case (containing a ball of sock yarn, a set of DPNs and a pattern - incidentally, I still haven't actually used that yarn yet *laughs*). The kit scared me off somewhat, the pattern written with strange and unnerving techniques I had never heard of. I put it to one side, having confirmed my impression that socks are hard.

So as not to waste the kit, I actually used the double pointed needles, making a pair of fingerless mitts. Somehow the fact that I was successfully knitting in the round on 4 needles passed me by and I didn’t register that if I could do that, then surely I could knit socks.

As I got more confident in blogging, I started to comment on other blogs, often replicating the “wow, so clever, socks must be so hard” comments I’d seen so many times before. Yet the responses I got from the knitters always refuted this; telling me that they’re not that hard at all, use a beginner tutorial, take it one stitch at a time, watch youtube videos for the parts you don’t understand...

And then it clicked. I used all of those resources for everything else I wanted to knit, so why not socks? One of my first projects was a jumper, because it never occurred to me that I couldn’t do it. Yet somehow I had got caught into the idea that socks are hard.

So, I made a pair of socks *grins*

My very first socks - they're a bit tight and shorter than ideal, but they look and function like socks! Success *grins*

Guess what... They’re not that hard. Once I had made them, and my blog posts showing them off demonstrated just how excited I was to have managed it, I started to get the same comments on my blog that I’d seen before on others’... Socks are so hard.

I don’t know why socks in particular seem to inspire obsessive joy in those who can make them (I have had a sock on the go ever since I started my first one!) and terror in those who fear that they are too hard *ponders* If you can follow instructions, you can make socks!

Now, I absolutely do not consider myself anything beyond a beginner in the world of sock knitting. I am still awed and intimidated by some of the patterns that I see other bloggers making and how quickly some people can make them. I’ve made 6 pairs (I shan’t count the pair I've just cast on *laughs*). Some were done cuff down and some toe up, but all of them have been plain or ribbed, nothing fancy. One of my goals for this year is to branch out into more involved patterns, but the fact is anyone can make socks. Really *smiles encouragingly at those who want to try but haven't*

I even made man-sized socks, my first toe up pair and my first attempt at magic loop.

There’s a wealth of information online; through Ravelry, youtube, tutorials and the fabulous blogs out there. I used the ever popular Silver's Sock Class for my first (and many subsequent) pairs... It's wonderfully step by step, breaks it all down and has lots of pictures. 

So, if you're wavering about making socks, I encourage you to give it a try. Just be warned, you may get addicted *laughs* If you'd told me a couple of years ago that I would be handknitting socks, I would have thought you were crazy. Now I want an entire sock drawer of handmade, colourful socks! 

Wow, that turned into a bit of an essay, didn't it *laughs*

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Work In Progress Wednesday Number 35

Well, I went on a bit of a casting on frenzy at the weekend *laughs* I think it was the novelty of not having any projects that I have to knit, so I wanted to knit everything. Also, as I'm trying to reduce stash, my brain seemed to think that having lots of projects on the go would make that happen faster ;)

So, in the middle of the picture you can see my fair isle hat. It's about twice as long as last week, despite the fact that I only work on it when I have the time and capacity to focus for a little while ;)

Just peeking in at the bottom left is the Striped Scarf. Not a lot to say on this really, although it is so close to being finished now (which, I think, was a justification for casting on more stuff!) It's nearly 7 foot long at the moment - good thing it's so narrow or I would have lost the will to live *laughs* A few more inches and it'll be finished.

Top left is a cowl using some stashed Manos Silk Blend. This is actually for a swap, so I will say no more about it ;)

Onto the more exciting updates, in the top right you can see the start of a sock. My next pair of socks *grins*  I'm using the KnitPicks Imagination yarn that boyfriend bought me for Christmas, because it is so soft and fluffy and I want soft and fluffy socks.

And, because I have lovely soft yarn, I am also making myself some princess soles *grins* I figured that as I made socks for my brother and boyfriend with luxury soles, it was about time I had some for myself. And, as the yarn is the Unicorn colourway, I am calling these my Princess Unicorn socks ;)

Finally, the lovely teal/green in the bottom corner is the start of my Shalom cardigan (the colour is somewhere between the top picture and the picture below, but with no natural light this morning I was struggling a bit!)

I'm using a giant, 400g ball of yarn, with the idea that knitting it will make a lot of room in my stash *laughs* I'm following a few different people's modifications on ravelry, to make this in aran (worsted) weight instead of chunky, make the yoke finish just above the bust line for a more flattering look, have long sleeves and make it button all the way down.

Quite a few modifications really! But I love the pattern and I want to make a version that suits me. And we saw from my Cria that cardigans that button at the top just don't.

As Tink commented last week, I do also still have my fuzzy ballet sweater on the needles, but as I haven't picked it up in a while it didn't make it into the picture. As I only have the sleeves left to finish, I should really just get it done and out of the way!

No book this week - I've been too busy with all the new projects!

Ok, that turned into quite a long post! Sorry about that ;) But, as ever, if you want more lovely knitting and reading content, head to Tami's and Ginny's *smiles*

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Cookbook Challenge #10 & #11

After a string of highly successful recipes from this challenge, I suppose it was inevitable that I'd get one that didn't work out as planned.

At the weekend boyfriend and I tried a meal using 2 new recipes, both from Good Food magazine: Maple Black Pepper Pork and Broccoli with Onions and Garlic.

Looks good at least *laughs* (yes, there are 2 pork chops on there, I'm not greedy, they're just really thin!)

The issues with it were partly user error and partly the fault of the recipe. With the pork, I overcooked the sauce, which ended up being so overly sticky it solidified *ooops face*

Even so, it was a lot more effort than I would expect for the fact that it wasn't really any tastier than quicker sauces.

With the broccoli, the recipe has you cook the onions on high for a couple of minutes only. Personally, I prefer my onions much more caramelised through slower cooking.

So, this wasn't a particularly successful dish. The pork definitely won't get made again, I have much more enjoyable pork dishes in my repertoire. The broccoli might reappear, but with some significant modifications next time ;)

Monday, 16 January 2012

Couple of Things...

My mum very kindly sent me a couple of pictures of the cardigan I made her for Christmas... Thanks mum!

So I can now show you what it looks like, and what took me so long *laughs*

As I mentioned before, this pattern is entirely 2x2 rib. It looks great (it looks even better on mum), but man was it a labour of love *laughs*

Above is how the pattern is styled, with the folded-back fronts, but with how cold it has been lately, mum has taken to wearing it like this:

Folded over at the front, with more of a shawl collar effect. Both ways look great. So, thanks mum for sending pictures so I can show it off properly *smiles* Apparently it is quite the hit, with lots of compliments flooding in too :)

Another thanks goes to the lovely Laura from Made in Oxford, who left a comment recently offering me a couple of skeins of Debbie Bliss Fez, to potentially use as an accent colour with my new grey Fez. I accepted, on the proviso that I could send her something in return...

A few days later, I received these 2 gorgeous balls (they look more blue in the picture, but they're a gorgeous teal in real life)

I haven't decided what I'm doing with the grey version of this yarn yet, so these will either be an accent colour or be used for something gorgeous on their own *grins*

I sent Laura this yarn, that I bought a Knit Nation:

Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud. It is such gorgeous yarn, but I have come to the conclusion that I do not have the patience to knit with laceweight *laughs* I really hope Laura likes it! So, although 2 balls came in, one went out. And the one that went out has loads more yardage ;)

Friday, 13 January 2012

The Foundational Key*

Success at last! Cria is finally finished *grins*

Which is about time really, considering my Ravelry notes show that this was cast on at the beginning of July! Yikes, it did take me a long time.

The pattern shows most of the pictures with the cardigan fastened like this:

Cute, but not entirely flattering I don't think. So I will probably wear it more like this:

Much more my style *grins*

So, details:

Pattern: Cria by Ysolda Teague. I didn't love the way the pattern was written, there were parts that I thought were needlessly complicated. But there were some good features, like the one row buttonholes.
Yarn: Jaeger Monte Cristo Cool Crepe DK. The yarn (which is discontinued) was a gift from boyfriend's mum, as she no longer knits. It's a heavier weight than in the pattern, so I used smaller needles to get the same gauge (mainly so I didn't have to calculate any changes to the pattern!) - which does make this a more dense and heavy cardigan than the original.
Modifications: I omitted the faux seams down the sides, I didn't really see the point of adding seams when I was knitting it seamlessly! I added some extra increases towards the end to fit my measurements more accurately.

I really like this cardigan. I don't 100% love it, but that is usually what happens when I finish knitting something, especially something that has taken a lot of work and wasn't too much fun to knit. I need a little space from it first I think *laughs*

This picture is probably the most accurate representation of the colour, and shows the buttons too. I got these from ebay, for not a lot of money at all. The first set I found that I liked would have come to £25! No way was I paying that for buttons *laughs*

I'm toying with changing the sleeves, I didn't have enough yarn to make them as long as I would like, so I will most likely wear them at 3/4 length. So I may unravel and just make them that length anyway. I haven't decided yet but I did have them rolled up when I wore it earlier in the week.

Overall, I'm just glad this is finally off the needles! Finally getting down to some action on it recently really helped move things along.

* "Action is the foundational key to all success" - Pablo Picasso

As ever, please visit TamiNatural SuburbiaWisdom Begins in Wonder for more Friday Fibreyness!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Crafting Goals 2012

I know I'm a little late with this post, what with us being nearly 2 weeks into 2012 already, but better late than never, right? *laughs*

I don't make resolutions, I find that they lead only to failure and disappointment (for me at least!) But I do have some aims or goals... I know they sound like the same thing as resolutions, but in my head they are very different! I intend to do the things listed below, but if I don't do them this year then I can do them next year. Much more flexible than resolutions ;)

Knitting goals

  • Colourwork. As I showed yesterday, I have already started on this (thanks for all the comments/emails/tweets with tips - much appreciated!) 
  • Socks with an actual pattern. All of my socks so far have been plain; either stockinette or ribbed. I do plan to make some that have a little bit more going on, time to challenge myself I think!
  • Cabling without a cable needle. Looks like a good plan, and if the socks that I make have any kind of cables then I certainly don't want to be fiddling with tiny stitches and a cable needle as well as DPNs
  • Using stash. I know I've mentioned this one before! With lots of gorgeous yarns in my stash, and lots of patterns in my queue, it seems like an excellent time to stop buying and start knitting what I have
  • Finish up my WIPs. This is a really easy one, as I only have a couple on the go *laughs* The reason I include it is thanks to a comment from Tink yesterday - I had completely forgotten about the fuzzy ballet sweater, so I need to dig it out of hiding and get it done!
  • Make more garments. I have yarn for a number of garments, from jumpers (sweaters) to vests and cardigans. I love wearing garments that I have made, they feel so much more accomplished than accessories somehow. This goal will also help with the stash reduction goal of course *grins*
Non-knitting goals
  • Continue with the Cook from Cookbook (or magazines) challenge. Some of the recipes I have posted have become favourites in my house, and have been made a few times already. So the aim of increasing our meal repertoire has been achieved but can definitely continue ;)
  • Make some projects from my World of Geekcraft book, which will involve new skills and new crafts. I'm not specifying which skills/crafts/projects I intend to work on, because chances are I will change my mind plenty of times before finally deciding ;)
  • Get better at crochet. Or at least, make some more crocheted things. 

So, that should keep me busy for a while *laughs*

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Work In Progress Wednesday Number 34

Oooh, first week back for the work in progress Wednesday and yarn along  parties *waves* Hi everyone :)

Having finished my Cria (finally! More about that on Friday), as well as a project that was started and finished before ever setting foot on the blog, I actually only have a couple of WIPs on the go at the moment. Shocking, I know *laughs*

My Noro Striped Scarf version:

It's actually King Cole Riot, so the colours aren't as saturated as Noro would be, but I really like the more muted tones. It's quite a skinny scarf, as you can see, and I am planning to make it really long. Which makes it quite hard to photograph *laughs* I'm about halfway done, and it is a nice mindless knit, so hopefully it'll be finished fairly soon.

My other WIP is one I started as part of my desire to learn some new skills this year. As I haven't been knitting that long, everything I have learned so far is technically a new skill, but I feel like I haven't tried anything to challenge me in a little while.

So I decided it was time to try out colourwork *grins proudly* Plus, the pattern is of course charted, and I've never knit from a chart before. The fact that the chart is simple, just showing which colour goes where, seems like an excellent introduction to me ;)

I'm quite pleased with how this is going, I am even knitting with a different colour yarn in each hand (I started with both in one hand, dropping the colour I wasn't using, but that got annoying very quickly!) My tension isn't perfect, but hey, it's my first time with 2 colours and I'm just happy that it currently looks like it is supposed to ;)

As for my book, it's one I spotted on someone else's yarn along post a while back (I'm sorry, I can't remember who it was now) and thought it looked interesting. So it went onto my Christmas list and mum couldn't help but by it because it looked so strange. I'm quite enjoying it *smiles*

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Cookbook Challenge #9

It's been a little while, but I have a new recipe to share for my Cookbook Challenge. Actually, I spent ages at the weekend clipping recipes from my ever-increasing pile of Good Food magazines, so I have quite a few new recipes to try out. Which is great, because as much as I love reading the magazine, cooking from it is obviously the point of getting it *laughs*

So, today's recipe is Quiche Lorraine Frittata

I made this as per the recipe, apart from increasing the ingredients slightly so I could use up all the eggs I had ;)

Fresh out of the oven:

Stupidly, I had forgotten to buy salad or anything to accompany it, so boyfriend and I just had a big slice each. It was really, really tasty, but quite rich! Definitely needed some sort of light accompaniment.

Mmmmm, look at the crunchy cheesy topping. The texture was very light and almost bubbly, much more like an omelette than a quiche. However, we had the leftovers cold last night, and the texture had settled into a denser consistency and was much more quiche-like. The richness seemed reduced as well, and on balance I think I prefer it cold.

It's such a simple recipe to make, so I'd say it'll get made again. Although next time I might halve the recipe. And remember the salad ;)

Monday, 9 January 2012

New Year - Stash Status

So, now that we're well and truly into the new year (and I am back at work *sigh*), I thought it was about time I worked out the status of my stash...

Last time I worked this out, in November, I had used 11 balls up since I started counting (not including the in-progress projects).

Since then, I finished the socks I was working on, plus Hitchhiker, socks for my brother for Christmas, and (finally) my Cria *grins* You'll have to wait until Friday for the details on that one though ;)

So, add another 15.5 balls used up! Projects such as the dishcloths, mum's cardigan and mum's scarf unfortunately don't count towards my totals, as the yarn was specifically bought for the projects and therefore did not come from stash. But the 15 balls of yarn they used up does account for quite a lot of my knitting time!

I have been pretty good when it comes to yarn purchases in that time too. By November I had only bought 6 new balls of yarn since I started counting. Since then, a few more have come through the door, of course. But nothing too bad... I got 2 skeins of sock yarn from boyfriend for Christmas (50g skeins, so 2 required for a pair of socks) and I bought a few bits myself.

10 balls of Debbie Bliss Fez, in a lovely soft grey. This is the only thing I bought in the sales, I was very restrained and I made myself by a sensible quantity, instead of my usual trick of buying odd balls here and there and having nothing to do with them!

Talking of odd balls, the one other new yarn purchase was a single ball of King Cole Riot. I'd bought a single ball of this a while ago, with no plan, and it's been sitting in my stash ever since, waiting to be used. As I didn't have any idea what to do with it, I bought a second ball in a different colour to make a Noro Striped Scarf. So, one ball in equals 2 used up, which seemed like a good plan to me ;) No picture, because the scarf is already in progress.

As this is all a bit abstract, here are some actual figures:

Total stash (balls): 99.5
Total stash (meters): 19,632
Total stash (yards): 21,469

So, that is what I am aiming to reduce. Shouldn't be too hard *laughs*

Friday, 6 January 2012

Finished Friday Reveals

Well, I can finally reveal some of the projects I was working on before Christmas... Well, I could if I had managed to take photos of all of them *rolls eyes at self* I do have some though, so here goes:

The first one wasn't a secret project, it was the scarf I was knitting for mum that I have blogged about before. I didn't expect to finish it in time before heading off to meet mum and brother for Christmas, but I actually managed to get it done that morning *grins*

Yarn: Colinette Art in Lagoon
Pattern: A Little Bit Bohemian
Thoughts: A lovely easy pattern, really enjoyed knitting it and the yarn was really nice to work with too. If I made it again I would make it longer, but it's actually quite a nice length with just one ball. I wish I'd taken a picture of mum wearing it though.

Second reveal is one that I sneakily mentioned a few weeks ago, with a teaser shot. My brother's Christmas present was this pair of handknit socks:

Brother had asked for handknit socks for Christmas, to wear with boots, so I made him a cosy pair in DK weight. As explained in my previous post about these, I dyed some stash yarn to make them and I love the way the yarn came out *smiles* You may have noticed the uneven number of red stripes on the tops of the socks - well, he has feet that are slightly different sizes and as he was having custom made socks he asked for this to be accomadated. So, the 3-stripe sock is marginally longer than the 2-stripe *laughs*

The biggest present I worked on is the one I stupidly forgot to get a picture of. I made a cardigan for my mum. I do have a very crappy picture of the pattern:

Yarn: Stylecraft Brushstrokes Chunky (in a White and grey colourway rather than the one on the pattern)
Pattern: Entirely in 2x2 rib. The whole thing. It felt like it went on forever! Also, I used the Eastern European method (wrapping the yarn clockwise on the purl stitches) to make a tidier rib, so the entire thing was done in a completely different technique to the one I am used to.Mum chose the pattern, as it seemed like a bad idea to spend ages knitting a gift if I didn't know that she would want it!
Thoughts: Didn't love making it if I'm honest, but I still knitted every stitch with love as it was a gift for mum. It's quite a lot of knitting, even if I did make it a few inches shorter than the pattern (by request - I didn't just get sick of it!)

And I posted about the dishcloths for my granddad - thank you for all the lovely comments about them. I really wasn't sure what his reaction would be but he seemed to really appreciate them. He looked at all the different stitch patterns and then said "But I can't polish brass with them". When I asked if brass didn't react well to cotton, he said "No, it's not that, they're just too nice" *grins*

I told him I expect to see them filthy and ragged next time I visit, and that I can make him more so he mustn't save them for best ;)

So, it doesn't seem like a lot, but it certainly felt like it *laughs* I enjoyed giving the gifts and they were all well received. Mum has worn her cardigan out a few times and had some lovely comments from other people, which makes me very happy.

Anyway, that's it from me today, it turned into quite a long wrap up in the end! But you know where to go for more: TamiNatural SuburbiaWisdom Begins in Wonder