Monday, 9 June 2008

Knitbert has Moved

I've moved to Purls In The Pool

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Start at The End and Work Backwards

April has been a busy month! I was away for a whole week on a training course, and what with packing to go away and unpacking when I got back...
Anyway, I've been doing loads of things. Yesterday I went hiking for almost the first time this year. I started in West Hoathly and walked across the Bluebell Railway and around. Here's me by the railway line:

there was a train due in 20 minutes, so we didn't wait, but we did see several puffing through the countryside as we slogged up the hills and across fields. The best part of the walk was the bluebell woods, which were in full bloom with a carpet of blue.

While I was away on my course I did make some progress on the Bergere de France Cable Sweater, but since then I have got sidetracked into glove making. I received a request for some more gloves with a skull motif; here is the first one:

The second glove will have a smiley on the back. For these gloves I used Ann Budd's "Knitters Handy Book of Patterns". While adding the motif, I noticed again that as the unused yarn is carried around, it shows through a little bit in the black areas, and realised that it would be much better if I were to make the pattern go all round the glove. As these gloves are made to a the requirements of someone else, I decided to start another pair of gloves, for me, to try out this technique. You can see this glove at the top of the post. It has a frill round the bottom and a fairisle pattern band, with stripes on the thumb gusset. I've just got to the ring finger. Here's a closeup of the pattern.

I think that's come out much better. When I've finished these and the second black glove, I have a request for another set of skully gloves, and I am going to try designing a fairisle band with skulls in it rather than a skull motif.
Right now I've got two half finished pairs of gloves and a half finished pair of socks to be getting on with, not to mention a cable sweater.
As if that weren't enough, I've decided to have a go at dyeing! Not yarn, though, but fabric. I'll tell you all about that next time. PS for Catbert, here's what your fuschia pink skirt looks like at the moment.

To be continued...

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

The Knitbert List - April

April's list is My Ten Favourite Places:

1. Ambleside in the Lake District. I've had so many happy walking holidays here, with family and friends

2. The Bay of Islands, New Zealand. I love this place, especially the little town of Russell.

3. Nelson, New Zealand. This town just has a good feel to it, and is near the sea and one of the country's National Parks. It has a great market, too, where I got handmade cork shoes and a lovely necklace and earrings.

4. Cambridge. I studied here, and still like to visit and enjoy good food, the river and great pubs, with good friends

5. The West Coast of Scotland. I worked in Oban one summer, and a few years ago I walked the West Highland Way. There is a beautiful, dramatic countryside here which is lovely to walk in

6. Auckland, New Zealand. Breakfast at the Stone Oven, dinner at Monsoon, sailing in Auckand harbour, the Sky Tower, fantastic shops and a beautiful coastline.

7. Paris. I'm going to include Versailles, where I lived for a couple of years. I like the atmosphere and cosiness of Paris, and the grand sweeping avenues of Versailles, not to mention the lovely gardens of the chateau, where I spent many happy Sundays and evenings

8. Alderney. I sailed to Alderney once, the very first trip I made in a sailing yacht. I liked the empty sandy beaches covered with shells, and the little towns.

9. The Greek Islands, where I travelled and holidayed for many years when I was a penniless student.

10. Bath. What a lovely city and so pleasant to wander round. The old Roman Baths are magical too, with the steam rising from the water far below the surface of the modern city

Hmmm, can't help noticing that nowhere I am living now or have lived recently is on the list. I think maybe I need to rethink my strategy for choosing a place to live.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

Here's Catbert at Covent Garden, showing off her Diamond Fantasy Shawl. DSoK the Intern and I travelled to London to meet her on Thursday, in order to collect our Christmas presents, which were tickets to the Lord of The Rings at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. It was a great show, by the way, if you like LoTR I really recommend it. The sets are amazing. We stayed on for a Q&A session with some cast members after the show and I learned amongst other fascinating facts that it takes Galadriel two hours to have her makeup and hair done, and that the hobbit feet are comfortable to wear.

Sadly hobbit feet were not on offer in the souvenir gift shop, or I would have been sorely tempted.

Here is the shawl before blocking:

And after blocking - what a difference! I was afraid it would not be large enough but in fact it is a good size. I used a skein of Lucy Neatby Celestial Merino Dream in Fiery Fuschia, on 5mm Knitpicks Options, and knitted five and a half repeats as I was afraid of running out of yarn. I really enjoyed knitting it and would like to knit myself one now, maybe in a semisolid.

I've also started knitting the Bergere de France Cable sweater. Here's the first few inches of the back:

Saturday, 15 March 2008

There's Hope and Cushions

Last weekend I finally finished two cushions which have been On The Hook for ages. The first one is the textured cushion from Erika Knight's Simple Crochet (a fab book for new crocheters btw). I started this in 2006, I do believe, just after attending the crochet course which got me back into knitting and fibre arts. The yarn is a strange kind of raffia like yarn with beads on it, by Ice Yarns, which I got from Yarn Paradise on ebay. I've also got a blue version of this yarn with sequins rather than beads in.

It is a swine to work with because it splits, but it was manageable for the cushion front, as the lace pattern is quite interesting, so I did that quite quickly. Then you are supposed to crochet the back in two pieces, in double crochet (that's single crochet for any US readers). I'm sorry to say that I'm such a shallow crocheter that I found interminable double crochet with a yarn that splits was not enjoyable. What am I like? So I stopped. For over a year. Finally I worked out that I would just use the front, and attach it to a sewn cushion cover, and that's what I've done. I think it looks really cool!

The second cushion is made of granny squares, and it is loosely based on the Modern Afghan pattern, also from Simple Crochet. Regular readers may recall that I started crocheting these aquares about one year ago, mainly on the flight from Hong Kong to Auckland. There was one square which I didn't like so much as the others, and until I got around to frogging that square and redoing it with better colours I was stuck. As soon as I had changed that square I wanted to carry on and complete the cushion, so that's what I have been doing. I just love it and it is so cosy and snuggly.

One day I am going to make a granny square afghan, too, as I just enjoy playing with the colours so much.

I have also got around to tidying up the blog sidebar a bit. Finished in 2006 has gone; I have added the last two projects for 2007, although I must say that the overall total still looks a little pitiful compared to some; and I have created a Finished in 2008 category. So far, it is mid March, and these cushions are my first FOs, which is a bit disturbing, but the Diamond Fantasy Shawl and the second Snowflake sock are whizzing along now.

And finally, I have created a section for the Babette Blanket. I intend to post a photo for the colours for each month's theme and then the crocheted squares when they are done. This month's colours are intended to represent new growth of leaves and buds in Spring.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

The Knitbert List - March

This year I thought we would have a change from Memory Lane, and have the Knitbert List. I got the idea from Jacquie. So I will publish a list of 10 things each month.

March's List is:

10 Favourite Foods:

1. Smoked salmon
2. Any other kind of salmon
3. Fish and chips (I prefer plaice, but cod is good too)
4. A mixed salad, with watercress and rocket, and assorted vegetables, and a garlic vinaigrette
5. Risotto (any kind - I had one with smoked haddock and chorizo last week, and I also like butternut squash risotto, mushroom risotto, asparagus risotto, well, you get the idea...
6. Pumpkin and Ginger soup (my favourite Hallowe'en recipe)
7. Creme brulee, which I think is a good test of a chef's ability
8. Venison. I once had a wild venison burger and chips, in Geraldine, NZ. Mmmm!
9. Roast Turkey
10. Chocolate mousse. Did you know that this is one of the lowest fat deserts you can have? No really, help yourself to seconds...

As it happens, I have been tagged by Fiona, which means I have to give five facts about myself. So there you are, ten facts for the price of five. I should really tag other people, but I'm still thinking about it.

Last week I finished crocheting my Romance squares for my Babette blanket, for the Crafty Threads and Yarns Quilt a Long (yes, I know it's not a quilt). I like how they have turned out, and I am currently planning my colours for the March theme, which is Hope. I've got some more Karisma from Scandinavian Knitting Designs on order.

I also realised this week that I was about to run out of two marvellous cosmetic creams which I purchased in Singapore last summer. They are by a company called Skin Food, and they really work well, so I was a little worried that I would age ten years overnight, which at my time of life, dear reader, is no laughing matter. Skin Food is a Korean brand, and does not seem to be available in Europe. However, I found Sweet Violet's Gift Shop on ebay, and she stocked some Skin Food products. I emailed her and within 24 hours she was stocking what I had asked about, and some new related products which I most certainly will be trying. I am looking forward to receiving my order, as I'll be able to expose my skin to daylight again.

Catbert will be pleased to learn that I have restarted work on her Diamond Fantasy Shawl, and now have only two repeats to go. Go Knitbert!

Monday, 25 February 2008

Shawl Is Forgiven, but Hooked on Crochet

Oh my! Where has the time gone! It's nearly the end of February. I have finished my crochet cushion - or at least the crocheted bit. I'm really pleased with it, I love the colours. I just have to sew a cushion cover and attach it to the front now, which won't happen this week because I'm away from home. I've also got a cunning plan to finish my other crochet cushion, which (if I've got it in my knitting bag) I'll take a photo of later to show you as it's been a UFO for so long that no living reader of my blog will remember it.

Although I have forgiven the shawl, I am temporarily distracted from restarting it (sorry Catbert) by my Quiltalong square for February. The theme is Romance, and I have been crocheting some squares in pinks, purples and greys, which I am enjoying. I was forced to order some new yarn for this, as I did not have anything suitable in stash, and I chose DROPS Karisma from Scandinavian Knitting Design, which is 100% washable wool and very reasonably priced.


It turned up the day after I ordered it, and I must say I love it. It's very soft, and the colours are gorgeous, I'll be buying more of this. It's a dream to crochet with, too.

I've also been tagged, which I'll respond to in my next post, and apparently I've won an award too! I'm off to the Cabled Climber's blog to find out more...

Sunday, 27 January 2008

A Right Shawl

Last weekend I took Catbert's Diamond Fantasy Scarf to a swimming gala. Now the thing about swimming galas is that mostly all you can see is a lot of splashing, and you can't talk to anyone because you either can't hear them over the sounds of the screaming supporters and the organisers' announcements, or you are being told to be quiet so the swimmers can dive off the side in peace. And they go on for hours and hours. They are ideal for knitting in fact. I confidently expected to complete another repeat at least. After two rows I saw I had made a mistake, and the pattern was one stitch out along the whole row.
What would have been the sensible thing to do? Yes, dear reader, I should have tinked back to the start of the row and sorted it there and then. Instead I thought "it probably won't show" and carried on knitting. I carried on for six rows. Each one looked less alright than the last. Finally, I came to the point where if I knitted another row I would be casting off 5 stitches, and I realised I would have to either rip back or forever hold my peace. It really didn't look right, so I began tinking. By the end of the swimming gala I was nearly back to where I had been at the start.
I spent most of the next morning with my teeth clenched and snarling "I'm knitting lace" whenever anyone came near me, trying to work out where the mistake had come from and how to fix it. In the end I worked it out, and began reknitting, and now I have finished the rows I had to undo and a couple more. I'm still really cross with it, so I've put it in the naughty corner and have been doing crochet for the rest of the week. It looks OK though! and it is going to be very, very nice.

I have finished the first Snowflake sock, with a variegated toe, and I really like it. I'll do the second one soon, no really I will.

Here's the crochet I have been doing, as part of the 2008 Quiltalong on the Crafty Threads and Yarns forum. Yes, I do know it's not a quilt. The theme for January was Snowdrops, so I have interpreted it in colour as crochet squares, using the Babette Blanket pattern from Interweave Crochet. My idea is to do squares from it each month, and have a finished blanket at the end of the year. The photo shows the squares so far, and the colours I have assembled. I will have to be careful not to use too many different colours, so it doesn't look a mess.

I've also restarted my crochet cushion with granny squares that I did last year on the flights to and from New Zealand. The first thing I have done is undo and redo one square, which I didn't think was quite right from a colour point of view, and now I'm going to crochet some more squares. I'll show some photos when I have made a bit more progress.

Friday, 11 January 2008

In Which the Week Ends Better Than It Began

Oh my, I wasn't in a good state on Monday was I? Well, it's Friday now and my cold is better, the weekend is ahead and I bought some yarn this afternoon. I got some Regia Crazy Colour, which looks fun, and some black St Ives sock yarn, which I think may be useful for some Skully Socks I have in things are looking up.

I had a bit of an Amazon moment, too, and I have "Favourite Socks" on its way. And aren't the Snowflakes coming on well? This one is up to the toe now. 100% of readers who expressed a preference were in favour of a contrasting toe (thanks Franney!) so that's what I've decided to do.

Soooo, what would I like to do in 2008? Mmmm, chews pencil thoughtfully.
As far as knitting is concerned, I think I'd like to do the following in 2008:

- Design something and then knit it
- Knit a lot more than I did in 2007
- Knit more socks using my impressive sock yarn stash
- Knit up some of my impressive laceweight stash
- Knit some cardigans and pullovers (maybe even ones I have designed)
- Knit some scarves
- Maybe knit a toy...or a Dalek
- Buy quite a lot more scrumptious yarn which I haven't bought before to replace what I will be knitting up (yeah right).

Most important of all, enjoy knitting and playing with yarn.

I do have a mental list of some patterns which I already know I would like to knit, but I think I won't list them, I'll let it be a surprise!

I'm also doing a Quilt Along on the Crafty Threads and Yarns Forum. The idea is to do a square each month around a defined theme. The square can be quilted or knitted. I do quite like the idea of making an afghan for 2008, with a square for each month, but after my catastrophic failure to qualify even for the Wooden Spoon award for Sock a Month 2007, I don't want to set my expectations too high. January's theme is Snowdrops, and frankly my brain hurts just thinking about it.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Hello Cruel World...

In the end I took the rest of last week off, I just could not face returning. So this is my first day back. It was cold and dark when I got up this morning. I have a cold. I couldn't remember my password when I arrived at work (what am I saying? I could hardly remember my own name), so I entered the wrong one three times and was locked out of my account until IT could get around to unlocking it.

All the things I didn't have time to do before the break haven't got done by themselves, so I still have to do them.

I hate January.

I think I need to buy some yarn...

When I'm in a better frame of mind I'll post a picture of my first Snowflake sock, which is nearing completion. Should I do it with a contrasting toe as well, I wonder?
I'll also see if I can think of some objectives for 2008. Groan.