Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Well That's Dead

Ages ago, I knit cunning boyfriend a dishcloth to use at his flat, as he was quite taken with using the ones I had at mine. Once he had it, he wouldn't go back to regular cloths or sponges (apart from when the knit cloth was in the wash anyway) *laughs*

When we moved in together, I noticed it was getting a little bit worn and made a mental note to knit a replacement. I should note that boyfriend does more than his fair share of the washing up because it is one of my most hated household jobs (we do have a dishwasher now though!)

The mental note became a "do this now" note when I picked up the cloth a couple of days ago and saw the state it had become!

Yeah, so that's dead *laughs* I think this is the first thing I have made that has actually worn out too.

So, new yarn ordered, and new cloth created:

Look how fresh it is compared to the old one - I think I need to work on replacing these perhaps a little more often (or at least make plenty so they can work in rotation!)

I went with an alternating pattern of garter stitch and moss/seed stitch for scrubbing capabilities and to keep me interested ;)

I think cunning boyfriend will be pleased with it when he gets home *smiles* I just need to work on a second one now.

I did actually make another dishcloth yesterday, but that one is for my mum who was quite taken with the little one I made her for Christmas and asked for a larger one. So I need a bit of a rest from cotton right now!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Sock Yarns on Review

Edited to add: As I still haven't taken pictures of my Berwick jumper, I'm leaving this up for FO / Fibre Arts Friday in case it is of interest ;)

I heartily admit that I may have become a little obsessed with sock knitting since my first pair - I still dream of an all-handknit sock drawer and I'm getting there slowly *laughs*

Having said that, it might seem a little too obsessed to have been pondering my sock drawer earlier (sometimes it takes a while to decide which pair to wear) and have then come up with this post...

I was interested to see how some of the different sock yarns I'd used had been holding up, so I thought it might be interesting/useful/none of the above to do a quick review of the most worn socks and their condition.

I've focused on the socks I wear the most, which have all had roughly the same amount of wear (ok, so this isn't a scientific study but I think it'll be sufficient!). Also worth noting - I handwash all my socks, even the ones that can go in the machine.

Princess Unicorn Socks
Yarn: KnitPicks Imagination: 50% Merino, 25% Alpaca, 25% Nylon 

The heel on these has completely felted, which is perhaps unsurprising as the yarn is particularly soft and fluffy. They are the only princess soles on the list, which makes me wonder if that has any additional properties that might affect wear. Now I'm going to have to make more to test this theory *laughs*

Super Awesome Happy Rainbow Socks
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici: 75% merino, 25% nylon

I love these socks. They're my softest pair and they feel like old friends when I put them on. Being so soft, I am pretty impressed with how the yarn is holding up, often the softer yarns are not the most hard wearing. You can see some pilling on the foot, but it is relatively minor. The heels are a bit felted, but the stitches are still in good condition. Overall, I'm pleased with these ;)

Second Socks
Yarn: Zauberball: 75% wool, 25% nylon

I think these socks are in the worst condition of all of them. To be fair, they have been around the longest (side note, my first socks aren't on this list because I don't wear them very often!) but I also don't wear them as much as some of the others any more.

The foot is completely pilled, it's hard to show because of how dark the yarn is but even this picture demonstrates a lot of pilling. Where it's not pilled the yarn is completely fuzzy. This is probably due to the fact that Zauberball is a single plied yarn, so it gets fuzzed really easily. Regardless, they still feel good on my feet - I just wouldn't knit anything with a pattern, it would be completely obscured.

Socks the Third
Yarn: Silky 4 ply Sock: 80% wool, 20% tencel

When I first finished these socks, the yarn felt all weird and squeaky and I wasn't sure I'd like them. After a wash it was all good, they became soft and lovely. They have also held up probably better than any of the other socks. Minor pilling and fuzzing around the heel but nothing really of note.

The only thing I will say is that the yarn hasn't got much spring to it, the ribbing on the cuffs is a lot looser now, and they feel like they have stretched a little. So maybe they're not holding up as well as I think. The colour is still awesome though (I dyed the yarn myself you see *laughs*)

Starpower Socks
Yarn: Skinny Bugga: 80% merino, 10% nylon, 10% cashmere

These are my most expensive socks. They are also the worst for pilling. Because of the colour and the pattern, it was really hard to get a good picture, so I picked the bobbly bits off one of the socks and took a photo of that instead *laughs*:

I was a little surprised at how badly these have pilled, and a little disappointed if I'm honest. I have another skein of skinny bugga in my stash, and I'm pretty sure I won't be knitting socks with it. It is beautiful yarn, but not cut out for socks. A shame really, I like the luxury of having some cashmere on my feet ;)

Multicoloured Swap Socks
Yarn: Drachenwolle: 75% wool, 25% nylon

I debated whether or not to include these, as they're made with German yarn that might not be easily accessible to other people (I got it in a swap). But then I looked at how great the condition was and decided to include them anyway.

They aren't the softest socks in my drawer, but aside from a small amount of fuzziness on the heels, they look the same as the day I finished them.

Drunken Socks of Deformity
Yarn: Moonlight and Laughter Merino Superwash Sock: 100% merino

Sock yarn with no nylon - I expected these to fall apart if I'm honest! They've pilled a little on the feet, and the heels are quite felted, but they're actually much better than I expected. One heel is worse than the other, but if you know the backstory of these socks then that won't come as a surprise ;)


So there you have it - the softest yarns aren't necessarily going to fall to bits after a few wears, the hardiest yarn is still pretty hardy, and the expensive yarn may be best used for something that gets a little less wear than your average pair of socks.

I hope this post has been interesting, or informative, or at least just not horribly dull!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Potential Shawls - Roundup

Thank you for such lovely comments on my pretty pink shawl on Friday *smiles*

A couple of commenters mentioned that they liked the idea of a shawl that starts from the longest part and gets smaller as it goes. I certainly liked that feature, so I thought I would post a roundup of some other shawls with the same construction - I've been looking at them for my next shawl project *laughs*

I used the wonderful search features of Ravelry to find shawls with the characteristics "triangle shaped" and "bottom up" - if you click here, you can find the full results. There are also a lot of crescent shawls that start from the lace prtion, but as they still have quite a long cast off, I haven't included them here.

Damask - Kitman Figeroua (the same designer as my pink shawl)

© kitman

Summer Mystery Shawlette - Wendy D. Johnston.

This one is actually a free pattern - as it was a mystery pattern that was released as various clues during its original knitalong, it comes in 5 separate parts.

© Wendy D. Johnson

My Heaven - Patusha

Another free pattern. The image used for the pattern page is pretty but doesn't show what the shawl would look like, nearly leading me to skip past it. Luckily I looked closer, because I think it is lovely.

© bienchensmama

A lot of the other patterns in the search results had "bottom up" in the description, but I can't quite work out if they mean the same thing I do (start with a long cast on and decrease down to a few stitches before binding off). I've included one of these below, because it is just gorgeous *laughs*

Aranami Shawl - Olga Buraya-Kefelian

© olgajazzy

Friday, 15 March 2013

Oh, So Pretty

I should preface this post by mentioning that I don't tend to knit lace, and I don't tend to buy pastel coloured yarns - I'm more of a brights girl ;)

So the shawl I am about to show you for this FO / Creative Friday may come as a bit of a surprise - it certainly did to me *laughs* It started when I bought this yarn from A Stash Addict...

I was drawn to its delicate softness, and when it arrived I knew it wasn't going to be socks. I don't usually have yarn that tells me what it wants to be, but this was adamant it would be lace.

Last weekend, boyfriend and I had a housewarming party, and I decided a week before that, that I wanted a shawl to wear - so this yarn came out of its cosy stashed hiding place and became:

My Pastel Peacock. The Peacock Shawlette pattern starts from the lace, so requires a crazily long cast on - but then it gets faster and faster as you knit it - something I very much liked *laughs* In fact, it was a ridiculously fast project, that only took me 3 days (admittedly I did nothing but knit for much of that time, but that's not really the point).

I am excited to say that there are no mistakes in the lace - a first for me *grins* Usually I have to bodge something somewhere along the way, but this came out perfectly.

The colours are quite hard to capture (aren't they always?!) but the picture below is probably the most accurate. I love how the yarn looks in this pattern, it all fit together just how I wanted it.

All in all, I am in love with this project - it isn't my usual type of thing and that makes it even better I think. Of course now I want to knit all the lace shawls ever, but that's pretty much my way *laughs*

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Why Can't Projects Knit Themselves?

I thought that getting my in-progress Celestarium out of its project bag might give me the much needed impetus to pick it back up and make more progress on it...

It sort of worked - I reminded myself just how much I love it. The pattern is inspired, and I adore the yarn I'm using, it makes me think of stormy skies. The beads look great too.

But looking at it also demonstrated just how much more knitting there is to do. Yikes. I'm on the E charts, which means I have another round of increases to go - doubling the stitch count - and then many, many rows of the F charts before I even think about the edging *sigh*

I want to get it finished though, because it is so gorgeous and I want to wear it and bore everyone I come into contact with by insisting they admire it and telling them all about it ;)

I'll get there. I just need to not cast on anything new for a while (I have a second sock and another shawl on to go too). But honestly, how likely is that?!

Friday, 8 March 2013

New Sock Days Are Good Days

For some reason, I have saved my Ice Cream Waffle socks to wear after blogging about them - so now that I have taken pictures and am composing my FO / Creative Friday post, they have finally made it on to my feet *laughs*

I really like the way the yarn pooled on the foot - but then, I actually like it when my sock pools into interesting patterns ;)

I'm not 100% convinced by these socks, sadly. I knit them to the pattern size that had 64 stitches, because I pretty much always knit 64 stitch socks. However that's when they are plain, and this pattern has very little give in it. So they're a little snugger than I would normally like, even after blocking.

When they're on my feet, the way they stretch makes the pattern quite hard to see, which is a shame because it is a nice pattern (V Junkie)

I really like the circles/waffle effect. I'm not too sure about the cuff though, I think a ribbed cuff tends to make a bit more sense, the one in the pattern has a tendency to roll.

One thing I am liking so far is the heel - it's a short row heel but done in garter stitch instead of stocking stitch. I wasn't too sure how that would feel on, but it's really soft and bouncy. Time will tell on that though! If it works, I might do all my short row heels this way - no purling required *laughs*

I have just under half a ball of this yarn left, and I have some plain brown yarn too - so there may be some interestingly striped socks in my future. But I have a lot of sock yarn, so that probably won't happen for some time!

I know I mentioned on Wednesday that I have a few more finished objects to share, but I think I'll save those for another Friday ;)

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Review - ChiaGoo Swift

For my birthday, my mum bought me a swift. Well, she bought it from my wishlist and when I thanked her for it, confessed that she had no idea what it was and wondered why she had bought me a box of bits of wood *laughs*

There's a reason I chose this particular swift - I don't really have room or the right furniture for a swift that clamps and folds up, so this one that sits on the tabletop seemed like a perfect solution. I thought it would be handy to write a quick review after my experiences of using it. As I mentioned - it was a birthday present from my mum so it wasn't given to me for reviewing purposes, I just thought it might be of interest ;)

Out of the box

See what my mum meant? *laughs* Assembling the pieces took seconds, and everything fit together beautifully. The only thing that bothers me, and this has more to do with my personal design idiosyncrasies than anything else, is that the wood for the dowels doesn't match the wood of the base. I know they're completely different woods, but I'm picky like that *laughs*

In this picture, it kinda looks like a candelabra, doesn't it?! The woodwork has been done really well, so all the slots line up perfectly and fit together in a solid and pleasing way.


Ok, so it's a swift, which isn't something that has a lot of features, but there are a couple of touches I liked. First, the fact that the holes for the dowels are labelled with skein size - although most of my skeins are a relatively standard size. The numbers are lasered in too, so they won't rub off.

The other feature (I say feature but really it's just a nice touch) is the pads on the base, which is good as I'll mostly be using the swift on top of my coffee table, which is an antique chest and I'm pleased that I don't have to worry about scratches.

In Action

I've used the swift twice now. The first time was very exciting (so exciting that I forgot to take any pictures). I wound the yarn by hand - I decided when putting the swift on my wishlist that I would rather have a swift and wind by hand than have a ball winder and still have to drape the yarn over my knees!

The movement of the swift is really smooth. There were a few times where it stuck slightly, but that was entirely to do with the yarn catching on itself and not the swift.

Anyway, I then decided that I wanted all the toys, and bought myself a ball winder too:

Weird looking things, aren't they?

With this, I was able to wind the yarn much faster than I had by hand, so I was interested to see how the swift would fare. I wound as fast as I possibly could (I may have gotten a little carried away *laughs*) and I had no issues at all with the swift. It span quite happily, and was quite meditative to watch ;)

And I ended up with one of those cute little yarn cakes...

I smooshed it a bit when I took it off the winder, but isn't it neat and tidy anyway? Of course now I want to wind all my yarn and stack it up somewhere, but I will try and restrain myself. For now, at least *laughs*

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

It's Been A While

Wow, it seems like ages since I participated in a Work in Progress Wednesday/Yarn Along.

I think a fair bit has probably changed - I finished my Berwick jumper/sweater and my Ice Cream Waffle socks (one or both will appear on Friday *grins*) and I have ripped out my diagonal stripe socks. They just weren't working for me and I want to make sure the lovely yarn gets the right pattern.

Also since I last posted a project round-up, I have started and finished a shawl. I'm quite excited about it, but again, I'll save that for a Friday ;)

So, current projects...

I'm still working on my Celestarium, although I haven't actually done more than a couple of rows in weeks. I think the combination of 4 charts plus beading apparatus makes it a bit more of an undertaking than I've been in the mood for lately.

Frogging my socks meant that I had an opening for new socks - I can't not have socks on the needles *laughs* These are my Vegas socks - using yarn I bought in, wait for it, Las Vegas.

I'm really enjoying using this yarn, Tofutsies - it's made of 50% Superwash Wool, 25% soysilk brand fiber, 22.5% Cotton and 2.5% Chitin (apparently made from shrimp and crab shells). Anyway, it's really soft. This is sock 2, I already have the first one finished. 

After finishing my last shawl, I have been quite taken with the idea of knitting lots of them, so I cast on another ;) The pattern is Firiel, and the yarn is Nooch, and it is so very squooshy that I want to buy many, many more skeins *laughs*

It doesn't look like much now, but when it is blocked it'll be lovely, honest! 

Monday, 4 March 2013

Unravelling - In a Good Way!

Now that I have some form of internet (moving is stressful enough without feeling so out of the loop!) I thought it was about time I posted an update about the exciting new yarn I bought at Unravel.

For those who don't know, Unravel is an annual knitting show held in Farnhan Maltings. It comprises many stalls of knitting/crohet/crossstitch/needlework related goodies - everything from yarn and fibre to buttons, beads and notions.

I was excited to book my ticket, until moving weekend happened to coincide with the day I was planning to go. Ooops! Luckily, cunning boyfriend is not only cunning but also amazingly supportive of my hobbies, and insisted I go anyway. A day off from hauling boxes, and a knitting show? Who could say no? *laughs*

The main reason I wanted to go was to finally meet up with Sarah and Tink. We all started blogging at around the same time, so it was great to meet them in person. We've always joked that Tink is my evil twin, and now that she has come to the dark side and is knitting socks, well, the link is complete ;) I also got to meet Gilly, who was lovely and has awesome hair.

I've borrowed this pic from Sarah, as I was sadly lacking my camera:

But enough about the day - you want to see the yarn, right?!

I was in the mood for obnoxiously loud colours, and the first thing that grabbed me was this skein from Sparkleduck:

Teal and orange are two of my favourite colours, I couldn't resist them all twisted together like that!

I spent quite some time at easyknits, trying to decide between a few of their "deeply wicked" skeins. The colours are so wonderfully saturated. After eliminating the first one I loved, due to the fact that it also contained a large proportion of teal and orange, I settled in this one:

So, so bright and wonderful.

When I spotted some Colinette Jitterbug, I had to have some. I've wanted to try it out before so I grabbed a purple skein. Then Sarah pointed out the colour she liked best and I immediately switched my allegiance and bought it...

I was hoping that boyfriend might like it, I think he deserves some socks. Luckily when I got home, he was most taken with it. So at least one of the things I bought has a plan already *laughs*

And while I am on the topic of new yarn, I should also mention the yarn mum got me for my birthday (3 days after Unravel - so really, the skeins I bought were obviously birthday presents to myself *grins*)

KnitPicks Felici. I know there's some drama going on with buying from KnitPicks at the moment, but luckily in the UK you can't buy direct from them, this came from their only UK supplier. Phew. Anyway, it was on my wishlist because I adore my Super Awesome Happy Rainbow socks, they're so soft that I wanted another pair in the same yarn.

Wow, that turned into a long post! I have more to show off - mum bought me a swift for my birthday too - but I think I'll save that for another day ;)

Friday, 1 March 2013

Overdue Update and Exciting New Venture

Hi again, poor neglected blog ;)

I mentioned in my last post that things have been particularly busy lately. And they really have been! But hopefully everything is a little bit more settled now. Cunning boyfriend and I have moved into our new house, which is starting to feel like home now. Especially the funky new office.

I have new yarns, new projects and new toys to show off, although I will post them separately so I don't use up all my content at once *laughs* Most of the new yarn comes from my trip to Unravel, where I met up with Tink and Sarah and had a great time :) Again, more on that later.

Saving my most exciting news for last - I left my job and I'm starting a new venture as a freelance writer. I'm really excited about it, and have spent the last few days getting my new website, twitter and facebook page set up *grins*

web: www.nataliehowells.com
twitter: @NHowellsFW
facebook: Natalie Howells Freelance Writer

I'd love any feedback you might have. Everything's still a bit of a work in progress but constructive criticism is most welcomed.

I'm also available and excited for any guest blogging opportunities - so if you'd like me to write a post for your blog (on any topic, I'm very flexible *laughs*), just let me know. Either leave a comment or use the contact form on the website and I'll get back to you :)

I'll be back on Monday with actual knitting-related content.