Monday, 30 April 2012

3KCBWDAY6 - Improving your Skillset

As I don't tend to post at the weekends, I'm a couple of days behind on the last 2 Knit and Crochet Blog Week topics, so I'll post them both today instead ;)

6. Improving Your Skillset
How far down the road to learning your craft do you believe yourself to be? Are you comfortable with what you know or are you always striving to learn new skills and add to your knowledge base? Take a look at a few knitting or crochet books and have a look at some of the skills mentioned in the patterns. Can you start your amigurumi pieces with a magic circle, have you ever tried double knitting, how's your intarsia? If you are feeling brave, make a list of some of the skills which you have not yet tried but would like to have a go at, and perhaps even set yourself a deadline of when you'd like to have tried them by.

During last year’s Knit and Crochet Blog Week, I think I’d been knitting for approximately 6 months… Which means I’m now at about 18 months.

Earlier this year I set out what I considered to be my crafting goals, skills that I wanted to acquire and/or improve. I’m really happy with what I’ve already achieved as a knitter, I tried cables, garments and socks all in a fairly short space of time. I found that if I assume something won’t be hard, it turns out that I’m usually right *laughs*

In fact, just to throw in a little self-promotion here, I wrote a series of posts on how some of the skills that some of us fear will be too hard, just aren’t: Socks are Hard and Colourwork. I strongly believe that if we tell ourselves it is easy, there’s no reason for it not to be. Having said that, I still haven’t braved steeking *laughs*

So, back to my goals. I wanted to try colourwork for the first time…

That went really well, I enjoyed the rhythm of it, and I love the finished article.

I wanted to learn to cable without a cable needle. I picked that up pretty quickly, thanks to the fact that the socks I am (still) making for cunning boyfriend are covered in 2 stitch cables. There’s no way I wanted to wrestle with a tiny cable needle on top of 4 DPNs! Now that I’ve learned, I haven’t picked up a cable needle since.

My other goals weren’t skill based as such (unless you consider using stashed yarn instead of buying new to be a skill – it’s certainly a challenge!) so I think it’s time for me to consider what I want to achieve next… The 2 main things are:

Better finishing. I’m not great at seaming, I rush it because I want to finish the item. But I know that taking the extra time to do it well will pay dividends in the long run, by giving me a better garment. So I need to be more patient and work harder at finishing (although I tend to avoid patterns with seaming in general!)

Deciding whether or not I want to knit lace. I aspire to knit wonderful lace pieces and envy those who can do so (I’m a little impatient, if you hadn’t already noticed that, and lace needs a level of concentration I’m just not sure I can provide *rolls eyes at self*)… But, I don’t actually know if I would wear lace items, I think they’re beautiful, but maybe the fact that I’m not a lace knitter is not a slight on my skills, it’s just me knitting what I know I want to wear…

Friday, 27 April 2012

3KCBWDAY5 - Something a Bit Different

This was a massive success last year, and for many it was the highlight of the Blog Week, so this year you are challenged, again, to find a new way of blogging.

Last year, I loved my "this is me" post. This year, please enjoy my short film; "this is my knitting" *laughs* I compiled a year's worth of work in progress shots into a slideshow.

Please click to play *smiles*

And please come back shortly for my FO Friday post - I finished my Narragansett and want to show it off!

Genius and Virtue*

I finished my Narragansett last weekend *grins* Waiting for it to block was torturous - I wanted to wear it right away, plus I was terrified that it wouldn't come out the right size! Eventually it dried and I immediately put it on (ok, it may have still been a teeny, tiny bit damp, but I was impatient *laughs*)

I am now completely in love with this jumper/sweater. I love the shape, the detailing and the soft grey of the yarn.

I wish the pictures did it justice, but sadly I am not a particularly good model! Of course, doing a rushed photoshoot in the morning before work, in the house, isn't the best way to show something off ;)

Anyway, on to the details that make this so lovely:

The twisted rib boatneck is gorgeous, I love this shape.

And the detailing being picked up on the hip works really well, and ties everything together nicely:

Pattern: Narragansett
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Fez - bought in the John Lewis sale at Christmas. I think I used 6 balls, so I have another 4 left to play with. Haven't decided if I want to make a matching hat or if I should dye the leftovers a different colour...
Modifications: I don't think I made any - which makes a change!

Although there are so many patterns out there that I have no desire to make the same things more than once, this might be the exception! Maybe with a different style cable, but I really do love the way this turned out and I'm very tempted to make more *laughs*

* "Genius and virtue are to be more often found clothed in gray than in peacock bright." Van Wyck Brooks

Thursday, 26 April 2012

3KCBWDAY4 - A Knitter or Crocheter For All Seasons?

A Knitter or Crocheter For All Seasons?
As spring is in the air in the northern hemisphere and those in the southern hemisphere start setting their sights for the arrival of winter, a lot of crocheters and knitters find that their crafting changes along with their wardrobe. Have a look through your finished projects and explain the seasonality of your craft to your readers. Do you make warm woollens the whole year through in preparation for the colder months, or do you live somewhere that never feels the chill and so invest your time in beautiful homewares and delicate lace items. How does your local seasonal weather affect your craft?

Last July I cast on a blanket. This year the weather turned beautifully warm at the beginning of April, and I was knitting my Narragansett jumper (in a nice and cosy merino/camel yarn)… So it appears that I am not at all seasonally minded *laughs*

I knit what I want to knit, whether it’s the appropriate season or not. Luckily (or not!) the weather here is so variable that most of the things I knit can make an appearance “out of season” anyway ;)

Lately I have been much more interested in knitting cardigans. I looked at my shop-bought wardrobe and realised that I like layering, and my most-worn items tend to be in that vein. It works for the weather – much easier to slip a cardigan or shrug on and off as the clouds race across the sky than to wear a jumper. So I knit Cria and Shalom, I have yarn to knit at least 3 more cardigans once I have chosen the patterns.

I’ve definitely noticed that I lack the inclination to knit summery items. Perhaps it’s because I like the feel of wool, alpaca, angora… And hate the feel of cotton yarn. I’ve tried knitting with 4ply cotton, which was the most unenjoyable knitting I think I’ve ever attempted. Even if I did love the colour!

But, I do want to knit things that work for summer, I’d like to be an all seasons knitter. Well, I have some mystery bamboo yarn in my stash so this may be the year to experiment *laughs* That’s if we get a decent summer of course ;)

In the meantime, I think I'll stick with layering items, cardigans, wraps, shrugs, vests... I like their versatility.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

3KCBWWC - Craft your Perfect Day

For today’s topic, I think I’m going to invoke the wildcard. It’s not that there aren’t people who inspire me, it’s that there are many! I’m inspired by my fellow bloggers, by Ravelry friends and their projects, by a few designers whose patterns always appeal to me… To save my inevitable anxiety, I’ll just go with the wildcard!

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

Now this one I can do *laughs* I spend plenty of time daydreaming about my fantasy craft life ;)

I dream of having a giant, well lit craft room. In one corner there's a space set up for taking photos, with perfect lights and a crisp white back drop. A long desk runs down one wall, with a computer at one end, a sewing machine at the other and lots of space for crafting in the middle. 

There's also a sofa for sitting and knitting, a TV and a cool storage system for yarn and other craft materials. One wall is taken up with giant whiteboards.

So, now that I've set the scene *laughs*...

In my perfect day, I'd get up and head to my sanctuary. I'd post to my blog, check out my followed blogs and have a quick look at Ravelry. Social media bits and pieces. General online housekeeping. You know what I mean ;)

I'd switch on the TV for an hour or so of knitting on my latest project, waiting conveniently uninterrupted since my last knitting session. 

After a quick break for refreshments I'd head back to the computer, this time to work on my novel. The whiteboards are within easy chair-swiveling reach, for quick notes and keeping track of characters as I work. 

I totally imagine myself looking all intense and distracted at the same time, a pen shoved through my messy bun, glasses slipping down my nose absentmindedly as I type furiously *laughs* 

After a while of writing, I'd head down to my huge (imaginary so far) kitchen and whip up something for lunch. 

The afternoon would be taken up with more crafting - knitting, papercrafting, jewellery making, anything I feel like really. Then, preparing a tasty dinner to be enjoyed with cunning boyfriend, before snuggling up on the sofa together (of course, I'd also have my knitting with me at this point!)

*wistful sigh*

Ah, a girl can dream. 


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

3KCBWDAY2 - Photography Day

Uh oh…

My photography isn’t the best, I must be honest! I don’t havemuch space in my little flat, so most photography takes place on top of myantique travelling trunk. The light is probably better in my bedroom, but thenI’d have to use my bed for pictures, which involves all sorts ofunpleasantness, like ironing sheets *yikes face*

Ok, so with that disclaimer out of the way *laughs*...

I'm a big fan of texture, something that can be difficult to convey in a photo when it comes to knitted items! I love this photo I took, of some twisted ribbing in squishy yarn:

With some knit pictures, they need a little tweaking to show the texture. So, although this one had just the right light to show what I wanted, I decided to see what would happen with some tweaking anyway...

Just changing the brightness, contrast and saturation really changes the way the texture appears. I love it :)

Monday, 23 April 2012

Colour Lovers

So, I'm participating in Knit and Crochet blog week again this year. I had such fun last year finding new blogs, and new readers, so here goes... 

Today's prompt is:

Colour is one of our greatest expressions of ourselves when we choose to knit or crochet, so how do you choose what colours you buy and crochet or knit with. Have a look through your stash and see if there is a predominance of one colour. Do the same with your finished projects - do they match? Do you love a rainbow of bright hues, or more subdued tones. How much attention do you pay to the original colour that a garment is knit in when you see a pattern? Tell readers about your love or confusion over colour.

Great first topic *smiles*

I love colour. I actually have mild synesthesia , so the world is already pretty colourful to me. I'm not keen on neons or pastels, but other than that I'm a fan of pretty much all colours. Unlike most people I know, my favourite colour is orange - but you can probably tell that from my blog colourscheme *laughs*

I do tend to go through phases when it comes to what I buy or knit. Right now, almost everything I am working on is grey (I love the soothing sense I get from the colour, or lack of it!) A while back, everything that came off the needles seemed to be blue:

Then I'll go through a green phase, or a purple phase. Thinking about it, I have quite a lot of purple yarn in my stash right now, so I have a feeling that I'll end up overtaken by purple some time soon *laughs*

When it comes to knitting garments, I prefer solid or semi-solid colours. Subtle tones work well for me, so that there is depth to the colour but nothing crazy. I save the crazy colours for my socks, where pooling is welcomed and clashing colours positively encouraged *grins*

 See - told you I like orange ;)

I also love playing with colour, and have experimented with dyeing my own yarn...

It's amazing what you can achieve with kool aid and food dye! I want to dye everything I can get my hands on now, but I shall resist for the time being - until I have a need for more crazy sock yarn *grins*

To find other posts from today's topic, google 3KCBWDAY1. And for more info, go to Eskimimi's blog :)

Friday, 20 April 2012

Little Finishes

I don't have much to show this week, although I do have a couple of little items I knit for Nerd Wars, so I'm not entirely lacking in FOs *laughs*

My Narragansett is so close to being finished that I almost decided to stay up late and knit like the wind, so I could show it off today. But then I decided that, as it needs blocking, that would be silly and rushed, and I'd be better off leaving it until next week ;)

So, in the meantime, here are my little finishes:

A cute little heart *smiles* I actually knitted my mum a heart some time ago, but this is a massive improvement. It's only tiny, but is all squishable and lovely ;)

And a dishcloth with Angel wings on it. The pattern doesn't show up that well, but I like the seed/moss stitch edging much more than the garter stitch ones I've made preiovusly. 

Anyway, that's it from me, but head over to Tamis, Wisdom Begins in Wonder and Natural Suburbia for more lovely Friday goodness :)

Thursday, 19 April 2012


I've mentioned a few times that I like to participate in swaps, and yesterday I was very excited to recieve my parcel from the Shakespeare swap I joined *grins* Stupidly, I didn't take any pictures of what I sent to my recipient, but I do have lots of pictures of what I received!

Everything was wrapped and had a relevant quote from Shakespeare on it *smiles*

The first thing I opened was this cute hat. It's supposed to be a floppy style I believe, although I do have a particularly tiny head so I might need to find a way to tighten the brim!

Lots of goodies - A book on the flora and fauna used in Shakespeare's plays which is really interesting, some very lovely caramel filled chocolate, a peacock feather shawl pin, some gift tags with literary quotes on, some kool aid (yay) and magnetic Shakespeare poetry that I can't wait to play with *grins*

Yarn goodies - 3 balls of Knit Picks City Tweed DK, in a gorgeous tweedy teal colour, and 2 balls of Knit Picks Essential in purple. 

But that's not all - my sender also made me a really beautiful shawl. I haven't managed to get a decent picture of it, but it is almost black, with subtle hints of purple, and beautiful matching beads in the lace part. It's gorgeous, and beading is something I haven't tried, so it's extra special to receive something I wouldn't have made myself *smiles*

I haven't signed up for any more swaps for the time being, I think I may have overdone them a little at the beginning of this year. But then I get beautiful gifts like this and think maybe I should do a few more *laughs*

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


This week, I have pretty much only been working on a couple of projects - which demonstrates a lot more focus than I usually display *laughs*

I posted yesterday about my progress on the Stripe Study Shawl, which is coming along nicely and I'm still enjoying immensely (despite the rows getting so much longer already!) So I won't bore you by going on about it again ;)

Apart from that, I have been working almost exclusively on my Narragansett. I've finished the body and nearly finished the first arm. I have a few more rows of ribbing before that gets cast off and I can start the second arm/final piece *grins*

It looks a bit warped and lumpy in this shot - but I can assure that is more a reflection on my photography than my knitting *laughs* I am in love with this jumper. I've tried it on a couple of times and can't wait to finish and wear it - I'd show you a picture but it is currently a little too small. My swatch demonstrated that the yarn grows a fair bit on blocking, so it's a bit of a leap of faith at the moment!

I haven't been doing much reading again, but this book is perfect for dipping in and out of. It's just a series of small snapshots of bizarre scientific and psychological experiments that have been conducted over the years.

As ever, if you want more lovely knitting and reading content, head to Tami's and Ginny's *smiles* And no doubt next week I will be deomstrating far less focus, and will be back to working on all my WIPs at once ;)

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Stripe Study Shawl KAL Update #2

Good morning and welcome to my second Stripe Study Shawl Knitalong update *smiles*

It's getting harder to photograph now *laughs* The rows seem to be getting really long, and yet the shawl itself still seems pretty small. Which does not bode well for the length of the upcoming rows!

Luckily I am still loving it, both the simplicity of knitting garter stitch and the striking look of the shawl. Each row adds to the overall look and I really like that. I'm part way through row 10 at this stage. I would have been further along had it not been for this:

I sliced open my finger (not entirely sure how either), which then swelled up and was incredibly sore. So that stopped me being able to knit for a good few days :(

I tested it out last night, and am happy to announce that it has healed enough to knit, albeit slower than usual!

As there are now a few people joining in with the Knitalong, I thought it might be worth adding a Mr. Linky, so please do drop your links in there so that we can keep track! And the fabulous Sarah, my co-conspirator in this knitalong, sent me the details of how to add a collage of the knitalong projects pictured on Instagram (if you want yours featured here, just tag your photo with #sssknitalong):

Oh, and I'm also linking up with Frontier Dreams, with Keep Calm Crafting on today too *grins*

Monday, 16 April 2012

Cookbook Challenge #12

It's been ages since I last did a cookbook challenge, so last week I grabbed my folder of recipes clipped from Good Food Magazine and selected one for dinner.

Chicken and Chorizo Traybake. 

Just the type of thing I like - good flavours and easy to prepare and cook. After the chopping stage, everything goes into one pan and goes into the oven for 45 mins. No fussing about at all, perfect *grins*

Pre-cooked shot (as I forgot to take any pictures of the ingredients!)

As usual, I made a few modifications to the recipe - thyme instead of rosemary (as that's what I had available) and sweet potato wedges instead of regular potatoes (as I'm not keen on potato wedges, but I love sweet potato).

Other than that, everything else was as per the recipe.

Look how gorgeous it is *grins* It was so very tasty, the sweet potatoes really soaked up the chorizo juices, the chicken was so perfect and the onions were sticky and caramelised.

Definitely a huge success. Quite rich, but really, really tasty.

Another one to add to the list of will-make-again *laughs*

Friday, 13 April 2012

2 at a time Socks

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I finished my 2 at a time socks *grins* Doing them 2 at a time was much easier than I expected, and I love that I have a finished pair straight away - no second sock syndrome!

Apart from the very first pair of socks I made (when I knitted obsessively on them until they were done) these are the quickest socks I've ever completed.

The picture below is a more accurate representation of the colour - so thank you to everyone who said they'd be too girly for my brother, meaning I had to make them my own *laughs*

The purple and greeny-teal colours, combined with some strange splotchy pooling, means that I have dubbed these my "Toxic Swamp Socks" ;) This is not a bad thing, I like the toxic swamp effect!

So, I have a new pair of socks, which is always exciting, the needles are now free for more, and I have lots of sock yarn I want to use... But, I should probably cast on for my brother this time, he has been waiting patiently and I have just kept the socks that I had started to make for him. Although, boyfriend does still have a sock languishing too. Perhaps I should finish those before casting on for more socks for me *laughs*

Anyway, enough of my jabbering, it's Friday, so you know what to do... Visit Tami'sNatural Suburbia and Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Have a great weekend  

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Time After Time

A little while ago I bought this rather boring looking clock. It was in the sale, and I had a feeling I could do something with it. And, as I needed a new clock (my old one just doesn't fit in with how my decor has changed), it seemed worth a shot.

So, armed with some supplies, this weekend I had a go at making it look a little more me...

A combination of copper spray paint, a bronze ink pad and black ink to change the dull colour, plus some embellishments... The copper wire was a treasure found in my dad's workshop, and I bought some really cool metal page corners and cogs. They're the Tim Holtz Idea-Ology range, which I am completely in love with *grins*

Overall, I'm really pleased with how it turned out:

So much better!

Some close-ups of the details...

At the top, I clipped a couple of the page corners and used them to make a bit more of a statement of the empty curve. A bit of ink to create more texture, and some stick on "rivets" and I think it looks pretty cool *grins*

I used ink on the corner pieces to bring out the design more, and a little on the cogs to make them look a little older and more worn. You can also see the slight colouration added to the edge of the clock face.

And, because I am really pleased with this redesign, here's a quick before and after comparison:

Pretty cool, huh? For a total cost of about £15, I have a unique and very me clock. Plus some leftover cogs and corners for my next project. Not bad considering the clocks I was looking at before deciding to try this makeover were £30-£80!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Shades of Grey

Once again, my knitting picture appears to be dominated by grey yarn *laughs*

Good thing I love the colour grey really!

The only splash of colour comes from the gorgeous emerald green yarn (that appears teal in this picture *sigh*) that is part of my Stripe Study Shawl. As it's part of a knitalong, progress was updated yesterday, but I put it in today's picture so there was at least some colour *laughs*

Gran's scarf has only progressed a tiny bit, and boyfriend's sock appears to have stalled again. Sorry darling ;) I did finish my 2 at a time socks over the weekend though, so they will reappear on Friday.

The most progress (aside from finishing my socks - the fastest socks I think I've ever knit!), has been on my Narragansett. I've done most of the body now, and have started the detail on the hip.

I have about another inch or 2 to go with that before I start the bottom ribbing. I'm really pleased this is coming along so quickly, I can't wait to finish it!

All the progress does come at a cost though... I have no book on the go at all right now.

As ever, if you want more lovely knitting and (actual) reading content, head to Tami's and Ginny's *smiles*

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Stripe Study Shawl KAL Update #1

It's Tuesday, which means it is the first update in the Stripe Study Shawl Knitalong that Sarah and I are doing *grins*

I took my grey skein of yarn with my to my mum's over Easter and she kindly helped to wind it (saving poor boyfriend the arm ache of a second skein of Wollmeise!). When I got back, I saw that Sarah had tweeted that she already had stripes! So I cast on immediately *laughs*

And now I have stripes too...

5 of them. I'm completely in love with this shawl already. I love the simplicity of it, the Wollmeise feels gorgeous once knit (I find it somewhat nondescript in the skein - pretty but not amazing to touch) and the colours are so vibrant.

This picture should show the colours a bit better:

I don't usually complain about the sun, but the way it was streaming through my window this morning made it very difficult to get a good picture of the wonderful bright green!

Don't forget to go and check out Sarah's lovely blog, Crafts from the Cwtch, to see her progress today. And if you're still wavering about joining us, here is an excellent Q&A post she cunningly put together to entice you. We've only just started, and the first bit is so quick, so you can definitely catch up!

And if you are participating, let me know so I can link to your blog too *smiles*

Here are some of the other participants:


Friday, 6 April 2012

Plum Cowl

I finally have photos so I can show off my plum cowl *grins*

It was such an easy knit, and I absolutely love it. It's light, but warm, versatile and the yarn is gorgeous.

And I really do mean versatile... There are 4 different ways to wear it. Traditional cowl:

Cowl with slight shoulder covering:

Kind of a wrap style (this is probably my least favourite way to wear it though - it is a little restricting around the arms!)

And it even works as a cute little hood *laughs*

Ok, that's quite a lot of pictures of me for one post!
Pattern: Euro Cowl
Yarn: Candy Skein, in the Plum colourway. I love this yarn. It's so soft and lovely to work with, and I am extremely grateful to Tink for sending it to me in the blog hob swap *grins*

I can see this being a great item to throw in a bag on summer evenings, when a little bit of extra warmth might be required. It squishes up pretty small. Because the pattern is 4ply knit on larger needles, it's really light and stretchy (as you can probably tell from the pictures *laughs), so I haven't blocked it - I like the way it fits as it is.

Oh, and while you're here, check out yesterday's post about the knitalong that Sarah and I are doing :) Open invitation to anyone who wishes to join in *grins*