Friday, 29 June 2012

(U)FO Friday..... and the tricky issue of yarn storage

So yesterday I decided it was time to sort and clean the Cwtch. YIKES! I had no idea I'd amassed so much yarn - some for projects to come and some left over from my growing list of Finished Objects. In the grand scheme of things it's not really a "stash" but it's more than I have space for in the meagre drawers beneath the coffee table. (I also hadn't realised how many UNfinished Objects are squirrelled away, but that's for another post!)

My friend Lee and I were talking about yarn storage last week which lead me to Pinterest where I found a few ideas, including these:

Source: via Sarah on Pinterest

Source: via Sarah on Pinterest

Source: via Sarah on Pinterest
Source: Lion Brand Yarn
My Cwtch is a very small room on the ground floor of our house - in other houses with this layout it's the Study (it's the perfect size for a study) but we didn't need one as D has an Edit Suite upstairs so I managed to squeeze in a small sofa and a rather large armchair as well as a table and shelves to make it my own little space. This leaves very little opportunity to add further storage, so my next job is to sort the shelves and drawers I already have and attempt to house the yarn that is currently hidden in bags behind the sofa and then I'll see just how much extra space I need. I'd love to know how you store your yarn and craft supplies - please leave a comment.

I'll be back on Sunday with the first of my 2nd Year of Projects posts, 
in the meantime pop to Tami's for some finished projects.
Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Decisions, decisions

YARN: Drops Lace in Light Grey Green
NEEDLES: 3.5mm (started on 2 circulars, now moved onto one)
STILL READING: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (67% read)
After casting on Nuvem, I am really not sure about it in this yarn - the pattern recommends Wollmeise (which is hard to get hold of here) and this is quite a bit lighter so it's not quite knitting up as I was hoping... but there is one made from this yarn on the projects page, which looks lovely. I may just keep knitting for a little while and see how it gets on - it's looking better now I've switched to a single circular needle, as a ladder was developing between the two circular needles I was using as per the pattern. I'm assured by several people (including my mother and the designer) that it'll look better when washed. What do you think? Hoping some of the people at Tami's and Ginny's will have some thoughts on this....
Tuesday, 26 June 2012

June Shawl Knitalong Update #4

Hello Knitalongers, I've seen so many new pictures this week on the Instagram feed - you have some beautiful colour combinations in the works! Please keep adding them, and remember to post your URL links at the bottom of this post so we can all take a look. 

If you saw last Friday's post, you'll already know I finished my second shawl. I've been really surprised at how quickly this pattern knits up and I wouldn't rule out making any more... but not this month! 
Ravelry project notes including yarn info are here 
It's been named 'the Bertie Bassett shawl' because of the striking resemblance to Liquorice Allsort sweets, something that I really hadn't anticipated when I chose the colours - the darkest yarn is actually midnight blue rather than black. I really wasn't sure about the high contrast when I was knitting it, but luckily it's grown on me since then. 

After making the first one, I made a few little changes the second time:
  • The dropped YO modification was introduced on the second section and this reduced the 'hump' which was much more visible in the first shawl prior to blocking.
  • Twisting the carried yarns at the side of the work had left the first shawl a little tight so this time I didn't twist, I just let the yarns do their own thing. The result is generally much nicer, although you can see in the second picture below there is one slightly tight section. 
  • I intentionally missed a few stripes off the first shawl. This one was made as per the pattern and is quite a bit deeper. This has made it sufficiently large without blocking it, leaving the lovely garter stitch bumps and ridges intact. 
Whilst growing to like the bright Noro stripes, I'm not quite so happy with the border colours. Not being a fan of yellow, I wanted to cast off before the colour change and somehow it doesn't quite look 'finished'. I am thinking of possibly trying a little (single row?) crochet border in the main Midnight blue yarn. 

I've really enjoyed knitting this pattern (twice) and have to say that despite the hump and being narrower, I much prefer the first - the colours are just so perfect and I like the slubby thick Noro sections. I'd love to try making another the other way around, so that the main colour top section would be to the left of centre rather than to the right. I prefer the way the Stripe Study Shawl is shaped to wrap around the body to the right, and this pattern is 'back to front' in comparison. For now I have a long list of other patterns to be getting on with and the second Year of Projects starts on Sunday too so this won't be happening any time soon.

I didn't have space to spread them both out fully AND have a place to stand to take the photo - they are quite big - but you can see the difference in size here. After several people asking for more information, I'm going to publish a "blocking" post next month using the second shawl, so you may like keep an eye out for that.
I have absolutely LOVED this second knitalong and seeing all the different shawls taking shape, so a huge THANK YOU to everyone for joining in. As we are almost at the end of the month this will be the last update post, but you can will still be able to see the 50 most recent photos posted to the gallery at any time by visiting the Knitalong page and the Linky (below) will be left open so people can add more links at any time. 

Of course I'm already wondering what we could do next .... maybe a September Sock KAL in preparation for Christmas gifting? We could go with something plain and simple for novice sock-knitters that could be modified by the more advanced "socker" to include a more complex pattern...? Or perhaps something else entirely. What do you think? 
Sunday, 24 June 2012

A wet weekend in Wales and a big tangle of yarn

This weekend Mum and I packed the kids and overnight essentials into the car and headed across the M4 into Wales. It was our first trip "home" since she relocated to our (English) village in February, which meant the novelty of a hotel! When you're 3 and 5 that's quite an exciting adventure requiring rucksacks full of books, a bazillion soft toys, and a carpet picnic. They absolutely loved it, but almost two hours past their usual bedtime I had to implement a complete "lights out" policy in our room. As I'd left my night-vision goggles at home*, this meant .... NO KNITTING!  Never have I been more thankful for my iPad, a set of earphones and BBC iPlayer

Despite their late night, both were up at 06:00 this morning with lots of energy and too much volume! The stress of trying to keep them quiet proved too much so I resorted to a very early breakfast (porridge in McDonalds also counts as an adventure, who knew?!) and duck-feeding in the rain.....without any bread (the shops were all shut but a local passer-by took pity and offered us a few slices from his bag!)

After filling up on cwtches from my grandparents we came home this afternoon to D's delicious cottage pie. I don't care for football but as D is watching the England match tonight (I think it's a game to decide whether Italy or Germany get to knock them out of Euro 2012, or something like that) I decided to relax after my long drive by balling up the gorgeous skeins of Drops Lace that just arrived, and cast on Nuvem

Urgh - what a mistake! I have a Sunflower Swift and it comes with unfeasibly short pegs to hold the skein on (you can see one here with the spoils of one skein - they sell longer ones but I am loathe to spend even more money on something I don't like very much - shouldn't the longer length be standard?). The yarn kept falling off the swift, which meant I had to constantly stop/start with the yarn winder to untangle and reset the skein. Each time I started winding again the tension was slightly different....and the whole thing ended up in a great big mess.  Lacking the patience for this tonight, I've salvaged one ball of just under half the skein and am wondering if I dare to try to cast on the shawl which involves lots of stitches and a COUPLE of rather long circular needles.  
 Maybe tomorrow....?

*I don't really have any night vision goggles.... but if a benevolent 'spy shop' owner happens to read knitting blogs and would like to make a donation.... 
Friday, 22 June 2012

Half a Ta-dah & something for the scatter-brained blogger

My second Color Affection shawl, which shall hereafter be known as "the Bertie Bassett shawl" is done but not yet blocked so I'll save a detailed Ta-dah for Tuesday's Knitalong update when I'll compare and contrast it with my first one. Today I will take the opportunity to tell you about something that has revolutionised my blogging over the last couple of weeks. 

I feel I should admit that I'm a scatter-brain, one of those people who will walk into a room and forget why they are there...several times a day.  It's worse after having two children, but if I'm honest I have always been this way. It doesn't help that I have lots of ideas - they flash in and out of my head at speed.... and are often gone again before being fully acknowledged or thought through. (In my professional life I got around this by continuously scribbling in a huge Filofax, and surrounding myself with talented people I could 'download' things to - they were what Belbin would have categorised as the Implementers and Completer Finishers. As a stay-at-home Mum, the Filofax is long gone and the majority of ideas I have are as likely to come to fruition as I am to look good in a skimpy bikini.) Blogging is not much different - I often have ideas for this blog or elsewhere, but by the time I'm in front of the laptop with the chance to write,  they are long gone. 

Screenshot from
Enter Blogsy for iPad! I came across Blogsy on one of the blogs I follow (you guessed it, I've forgotten which one!) and thought it would be worth looking again at blogging apps, which have so far failed to impress me. This one is quite different to anything I've used or considered before - mainly because media is so easily integrated - you can drag and drop images, videos and web content with incredible ease. It's very simple and intuitive to use (with lots of how-to videos) and supports many different blogging platforms. Plus in moments of complete numptiness, when you can't do something that's actually very easy, the support is superb - I had a (stupid) query and it was answered in less than 5 minutes - that's the kind of service I like!

I usually have my iPad to hand, so I'm now prepared for those random ideas, whenever they strike. Since I've had the app, I think all of my posts have been drafted using Blogsy and most posted entirely from the app, as formatting is a doddle. In fact, as I exclusively use an iPhone camera, my photos are automatically in my iCloud Photostream and are ready to 'drag and drop' with less fuss than using the laptop - I prefer Blogsy for picture-heavy posts.  I've never had so many draft posts ready to use or expand on, and that alone is well-worth worth £2.99. If you have a blog and an iPad, I'd recommend taking a look. 
I blog with Blogsy
Today's links are Blogsy & Tami's FO Friday.
Have a great weekend! 
Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Wednesday's Knits & Books

Following yesterday's woeful post, I'm delighted to tell you that the drugs kicked in during the afternoon and the first thing to return was my knitting mojo. (The second was my voice, but that wasn't quite so well received. I think the family preferred my silence.) My mum had the children, D was busy, and I certainly didn't feel up to ironing so there was little for me to do but sit quietly and get on with my shawl. I made good progress. With 14 rows to go until the border, I can't decide if it looks more like Liquorice Allsorts or messy handwriting....?
YARNS: Lang Yarns Jawoll Superwash Sock in Midnight & Ecru
Noro Kureyon Sock in S102 (discontinued?)
With a little luck, this should take only a few more evenings, leaving time to plan for the Second Year of Projects which starts on July 1st! Oh and I seem to have ordered 1,600m of Drops Lace to knit Martina Behm's Nuvem over the summer so I'm going to be a very busy girl indeed. I blame this entirely on a friend who I should not be allowed to text or email after 9pm when my defences are low and I'm so very easily led! (If you follow the Facebook page and saw the ridiculous shall-I-shan't-I conversation some weeks ago, you'll know who I mean.)

Last Wednesday I was just starting The Book Thief. I'm now over half way and very much enjoying it considering it's set in Nazi Germany during WWII and is narrated by Death. I have found much humour as well as some wonderfully drawn characters between the (virtual) pages, particularly Liesel Meminger's foster parents and her best friend  - although I can't help thinking there will not be a happy ending, especially for the Jewish man who is currently being being hidden in the basement of the main characters' home. There is a lot going on in this book but I'm trying to just enjoy it for what it is - a very readable story. 
A few links to share before I go. Firstly did you see that Annie from Knitsofacto (yes, the same Annie who solved my asymmetrical YO issue) is arranging a Knitters' Retreat in March? I spoke to her about it and there are a few spaces left, so if you fancy a weekend away in a beautiful hotel, with great food, lovely company and LOTS of knitting there's still time to take a look at the preliminary details and contact Annie if you're interested. As it's Wednesday, here are the links to WIP Wednesday and the Yarn Along.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

June Shawl Update #3

Hello fellow Knitalong-ers! How are you all doing? I've been seeing pictures scattered in various places about the web and know there are quite a lot of people taking part who haven't posted in the Tuesday Linky yet, so wanted to take the opportunity to say a big HELLO - it's lovely to have you knitting along! Please don't be shy this week - if you don't have a blog or use Instagram, you can leave a link to your Ravelry project page, photo host (eg Photobucket/ Flickr/ Picasa) or anywhere else we can see your pictures. I feel confident in saying that "Knitalong-ers" love nothing more than a nosey at everyone else's colours and progress - so let's see what you've got!

If you are blogging along too, there is now a little banner you can use if you so wish (but please don't feel obliged)...
It hasn't been a very productive week here as I've been struck down by Pharyngitis (which I've been fighting since the Jubilee weekend) so this post finds me typing from my bed with a viciously sore throat. I haven't spoken since Friday and if you know me, you'll know that if I'm neither knitting OR talking, things must be bad. As a result, only a few new rows have appeared over the weekend and I'm just onto the third section of my second Color Affection Shawl, with a long way yet to go...
A few observations:
  • This time I started the 'dropped YO' modification on the second section - this solved the "hump" I had with the other shawl, but as a result the first section looks quite tight and puckered. I'm not sure which is going to work out better in the end, but will let you know.
  • I've been using a cheaper yarn in a solid shade for the main colour this time. The yarn itself (Jawoll Superwash Sock) is fine, but after knitting with devine semi-solid sock yarn from the Knitting Goddess on the first shawl, this feels much less exciting. Each row is exactly the same dark colour, it's boring predictable, and doesn't feel half as nice to knit. It'll be interesting to compare the two when this is finished and has been washed. It's the first time I've ever used such a dark solid 4ply and I'm not keen to repeat it, it's not terribly easy to see the stitches.
  • Using 4 ply Noro for the third colour is much less daunting than the previous worsted weight which had so many thick sections, although I'm not sure if it'll make this a better-looking, more cohesive selection, or simply lack the character of the other. Again, we shall see!
That's it from me for today. Please do leave a URL in the Linky below if you're taking part. On the other hand, if you have stumbled on this post and would like information about the June Shawl Knitalong, and to see the previous posts you can find full details on the new KAL page as well as the last 50 photos participants have posted to the Instagram gallery.
Happy knitting!

Saturday, 16 June 2012


I am, quite literally, speechless. It's Pharyngitis - I'm not supposed to use my voice for a few days (!!!!!). It's very quiet here. You'd think it would be the perfect excuse to knit but frankly I haven't the energy to sit up*.

You're probably wondering what this has to do with passports? That's something that has me the OTHER kind of speechless - I can't believe how much it's costing for new passports for the kids. The good news is we have a week in the sun to look forward to in the next few months and we need it because, with just a few days to go until the Solstice, it's blowing a gale out there again tonight and I'm wondering if Summer is ever coming to SE England.

Hope your weekend is better, and to those celebrating - Happy Fathers' Day for tomorrow xxx

*I must remember to tell you about the great iPad blogging app (Blogsy) I'm using to write this from my bed.


Friday, 15 June 2012

A makeover ta-dah.... and a knitted one with rubbish pics!

I know, I know! Every Friday I tell you that I finished something days ago then didn't block it or photograph it and then post a rubbish picture hastily self-taken on Friday morning. Today is no exception. You see, this week I had another far more important mission... 

Did you see last weekend's post about how My Boy and I have been reconnecting? As part of this I was thinking about the common causes of conflict between us and "the state of the playroom" was very high up that list. (The toys all get pulled out and left all over the floor, things get lost/broken, the kids don't want to play in there because it's messy and they start dragging toys elsewhere, I get stressed out when no one helps to put them away.....) I decided this would be the week to sort and tidy the room and ensure everything had a proper home, that the baby toys and books were removed to make space.
I've tried to make different areas for the various activities that take place there - a comfy area for watching TV, the table is set up for "busy work", there is a separate area for imaginative play which is mostly geared towards Little Miss - she likes to play 'shop', 'babies' and loves the dolls house. The books are sorted and there is a comfy space for My Boy to sit on the floor next to the shelves to read. So far so good - they are really enjoying the space and are KEEPING IT TIDY!!!!

You may recognise the blackboard wall and Ikea spice rack "bookshelf" hack from Pinterest - I did these a while ago, but I'm not sure I mentioned them. It took two entire afternoons to complete the transformation and as Little Miss and I are out in the mornings, it really left no time to think about blocking and photographing the Noro Tunic I made earlier in the week, which is a shame because I like it a lot more than I expected to. 
PATTERN: Improvised - Ravelry notes are here 
YARN: Approx 1.7 balls of Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn (S267)
NEEDLES: 5.5mm 
I'm surprised how far a couple of balls went and there would have been enough yarn to make this a few inches longer if I'd wanted to.  It's already quite a baggy fit below they bust (I made it slightly A-line) and could stretch out considerably longer with blocking. I think I'll get  quite a bit of wear out of it either as a summer top or as a layer in transitional months.  With layering in mind, I made slightly unusual 'open cap sleeves' to accomodate tops with wider arms (I have a few) and details of that can be found on the Ravelry page.

With all that done, I'm looking forward to a getting on with my second Color Affection shawl over the weekend, especially as I am not in the slightest bit interested in the football. How about you? 

As usual, I'm linking in with Creative Friday and FO Friday
Hope you have a wonderful weekend xxxx
Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Wednesday's WIPs and books

Ravelry notes here
At the weekend I found myself in the unusual situation of having nothing on my needles (the pile of hibernating winter knits does not count, although I may change my mind if this weather continues!) so I decided to use up the couple of balls of Noro Silk Garden Sock I bought for a few pounds each at The Knitting & Stitching Show. After much pattern-browsing I decided this yarn needed something simple and plain, something really easy to wear. I improvised and cast on a simple raglan tunic. It's almost done so I can show you on Friday. 

My other WIP is a second Color Affection shawl for the knitalong which I am literally just casting on, so there is nothing to show you at the moment (but I'll be updating the Instagram gallery as it progresses).

And after FINALLY finishing the thoroughly enjoyable Farseer Trilogy I'm also onto a different novel - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It's a book I've had for some time and never read but after hearing so many good things about it, it was my choice for the next book club - I do hope it lives up to my expectations. Don't be fooled by the picture, although there is a paperback of this in the house, I had to download it the other night so my Kindle could read it to me while I was knitting  :) 

I'll leave you with links to lots more 'works in progress' and books at
Tami's WIP Wednesday and Ginny's Yarn Along.
Tuesday, 12 June 2012

June Shawl Knitalong - update #2

Hello! In case you missed last Friday's detailed Ta-dah post, or if you saw it before there was a full-width picture here's another glimpse of my first Color Affection shawl.
Ravelry Project notes.
I've been busy with another project over the weekend but later tonight I'll be casting on a second shawl in some different colours although I'm using Jawoll Superwash again for the ecru and midnight blue colours and yet more Noro - this time Kureyon Sock in shade S102. I can't wait to knit another, although I don't expect to knit it as quickly as the last one!
I am so happy to see your lovely shawls in progress and the few that are completed are fab! I've started a new Knitalong page which shows the last 50 pictures from the #JSKknitalong Instagram gallery. (There is also a little something at the bottom of the page for those who like post badges/graphics when they link up to something.)
Please leave a link to your shawl on the Mister Linky below - if you don't have a blog but are a Ravelry member feel free to add your Ravelry project note page to the links, or if you've posted on a forum/webpage you can add the link to your individual post so we can all have a look!
Monday, 11 June 2012

Year of projects

The fact that it has been FOUR MONTHS since my last YoP post probably tells you all you need to know about my update. Frankly, I have been so busy making other things, the projects I chose a year ago have fallen by the wayside. As you can see from the Year of Projects page, I have a few things outstanding on my 'revised' list and am still occasionally working on one project: 

'Circles' throw. 
Works In Progress: 
  • Tea Cosy - Alice at Crochet With Raymond 
  • Granny Square Cushion similar to this one by Alice at Crochet with Raymond
  • Chele by Emma Fassio - The pattern is lovely but wasn't working in the yarn I started it with, so with one sleeve and part of the first front completed this has gone into hibernation. 
It is interesting to me that it's mainly crochet projects that are outstanding. When I compiled the original list I was just getting to grips with crochet and had imagined spending much more time on it, but knitting is still very much my first choice. I do love the possibilities of crochet - the ease of constructing different shapes and of using multiple colours, but I really do prefer the fabric produced by knitting. Plus getting to grips with Continental knitting has meant I am now much faster and really enjoying it. 

I'm not sure whether I'll get to the Outstanding items before the end of the month, but you know what, I'm already considering joining in for the next one
Edited: I've decided to do it! I've made a few new graphics for use on this blog but if anyone else who is taking part would like to use them, please feel free:

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Oh, My Boy! (On parenting 2)

The children have had a whole week together. Due to the weather, much of it has been spent indoors. They have played "mums & babies", "dads & babies", "school" and "ballet classes", constructed a "whole world city", several train lines, a den, and used at least half a ream of paper for drawing/making lists/ "practicing cutting". They have both also excelled themselves in mess- and noise-production.
They always start off great...... but then Something happens. Usually this will be caused by My Boy (almost 6) saying or doing 'something' unkind to Little Miss (just 3). Being less articulate and unable to formulate a verbal response to adequately reflect her upset, she will become frustrated and resort to physical retaliation. It is completely exhausting as a parent referee, and it really stresses me out. This is one of the main reasons I've been reading the book Calmer, Easier Happier Parenting by Noel Janis-Norton (which I've started writing about here).

Through the exercises in 'Descriptive Praise' (of which I will be writing more at Natural Mamas blog later in the week) I've felt that MB and I have been starting to relate to each other more effectively in the last week or so. We have also shared several moments which felt really special, including last night when I was tucking him into bed. I took the opportunity to tell him how much I love them both and how I feel when they argue and fight. I asked whether it's really so hard to be kind and considerate to the little sister who adores him. I was quite shocked by his reply - by his self-awareness and honesty. He said "I loved you so much when I was a little boy and she wasn't here, and I still love you so much Mum, but I am jealous of her and I miss it being just me and you, and sometimes it makes it very hard to be nice to her."

So on Sunday morning, Little Miss is off to bake cakes with 'Nan' and I'm heading out with just the lad - no one else, no distractions - he will have my undivided attention for a few hours. I can't wait. You see, I've missed hanging out with my little buddy too, and he's growing up ever so quickly.
Friday, 8 June 2012

June Shawl Knitalong Geekery: Color Affection Dissection

Ravelry pattern notes here
The first Color Affection shawl for the June KAL flew off the needles on Wednesday. I really enjoyed this project and it will always remind me of our lovely Diamond Jubilee weekend (I did actually toy with the idea of a patriotic red, white & blue version). In the interest of full disclosure, here's a geeky ta-dah!

I'm very happy with the yarns for this. It was a bit of a mixture, but definitely the thing I am most pleased with. The main colour came from The Knitting Goddess (50g Merino/nylon sock wool in Slate) and as a semi-solid provided a little interest in the first section without too much variation in colour so it doesn't distract from the Noro. It knitted up beautifully. (Don't forget the special 15% discount on 50g & 100g skeins of Knitting Goddess yarns for KAL participants until 14th June - use the code COLOUR15)
The ecru was from my stash, Jawoll Superwash Sock yarn, and it was a revelation. At just £3.75 a ball this is a great option. It's soft, knits beautifully and, by missing out the final white stripe I used only one ball. (The remaining yarn is pictured,  not enough for one more long stripe.)
I like this yarn a lot and have already ordered more. I've used Lang Yarns Mille Colori and Mille Fiamme previously for some of my favourite knits, and this has certainly encouraged me to try more. For the price, I think it is hard to beat.

My third yarn, shamelessly copied from this shawl, was Nori Aya. I have a soft spot for Noro yarns, after my first "proper" knit was made from Sekku. There's something irresistible about the irregular character and blend of colours and I love the way the colours change in this shawl and especially how the border turned out. I'll be honest, I did gulp a little at some of the chunkier sections of this worsted weight yarn when knitting it into neat soft 4ply stitches! But it's the character of the yarn, and I decided to live with it, rather than start chopping bits out. 
This is the second Veera Välimäki shawl I've made and the patterns have both been great - written clearly and simple. Just like the knits themselves. Before starting, I read a lot of comments about the edge puckering and how many people had inserted a yarn over between the first two knit stitches of each row, dropping it on the return row to prevent puckering. I used this modification, but twisting the colours up the side of the work a bit too tightly meant I still have a puckered edge. Instead of working M1L/R for the increases, I used KFB. I prefer the look of KFB, ie that it's not so visible, and it's also easier to remember so I'll do the same on the next one.
I am really disappointed with the "hump" at the centre of the first section and thought I'd done something very wrong until I could see that it wasn't just me having this issue, so either it's a problem with the pattern or lots of people have made the same error...? I'm not sure how to resolve this on the next one so any suggestions would be welcomed. I prefer not having to rely on blocking to remedy things like this, it feels like such a sloppy solution. Despite these little niggles, the design is lovely and I can see why this is such a popular pattern.
'Spring Tulips'

With blocking it's come out at 228cm x 48cm (roughly 90" x 19") but blocking negates some of the charm of the garter stitch, so I'm thinking of knitting the lace version of the pattern but with 4 ply yarn on the next one to see how much difference the extra repeats will make, then hopefully I can very lightly block the edges.  I have ordered some more Jawoll in midnight blue and another ball of the ecru and I'm now wondering whether I should use up the Noro Kureyon Sock I still have left from my Spring Tulips Shawl as the third colour.

I suppose you'd like to see how it looks blocked....? Well I'd love to show you some great pictures of it, and you'd think I'd have learned my lesson already, but here we are, another Friday and I'm relying on the kids to take pictures of my FO. Consequently I have about 20 blurry pictures of a partial-shawl, of the ceiling above me,  of the shelves next to me, and not a single decent one of me holding it out to full length. Instead I can only offer you a sofa wearing it, and some self-taken shots of it in action...
You can see that blocking has removed the hump and the puckered edge and has also lengthened it sufficiently. And hopefully you can also see why I absolutely love it      

Edited: My mother came to the rescue - here's a better shot in (too) bright daylight, which gives a better indication of the finished size

I'll be back on Tuesday with pictures of some of the other shawls from the #JSKknitalong Instagram gallery and another Mister Linky for everyone who'd like to share their progress. It's not too late to join us!
There are more lovely things at FO Friday and Creative Friday
Enjoy your weekend!
Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Queen, the Knitalong, and a party

The weather did me a favour this weekend on two accounts. Firstly, it offered the perfect excuse opportunity to sit (guilt-free) on the sofa watching the excellent Diamond Jubilee programming on TV. I learned so much about the Queen, not just as Monarch but as a woman and mother. As a mum of two I found a deep respect for the newly-wed parent of two pre-schoolers who, in her mid twenties, suddenly found herself as Monarch and Head of the Commonwealth. I loved the family footage of her playing with the children and being a mum, hearing how she and the Duke made bedtime an important part of their daily routine and how they tried to have as "normal" a family life as possible within the obvious constraints. The thing that really struck me, was the loving home that the Queen was part of when she was growing up and how she has strived to do the same for her own family. I also realised just how much she has relied on her husband over the years and their obvious love and respect for each other is very touching after so long together. I hope he makes a speedy recovery from the infection that hospitalised him yesterday.

If you've been following the June Shawl Knitalong you may have already seen my progress, which has been the other unexpected benefit of wet weather and cancelled plans.

YARNS: Noro Aya (#19) 50% cotton/ 35% silk/ 15%wool

Knitting Goddess 4ply sock yarn (Slate) - 75% super wash merino/ 25% nylon

Lang Yarns Jawoll Superwash (Ecru) - 75% new wool/ 25% nylon

The pattern is really great, although I'm working a few modifications - KFB in place of M1, YO between the first 2 sts which is dropped on the next row, and a few rows less on the section with 3 colour stripes. Last night I found myself just a few rows from the end of the stripe section and about to use the last of my ball of ecru. The prior Noro stripe had been the dark colour I'd hoped to have at the end of the striped I decided to skip the last few stripes and move onto the border (which I may make a little longer than in the pattern) and save the other ball of ecru for a second shawl. Despite the yarn over modification, the tension along the edge is still a little off, which I think is due to twisting the colours up the side of the work - next time I would probably not twist, but let them do their own thing.

I had expected this shawl to take a few weeks as I usually only knit in the evening for an hour or so, but the extra time around the house over the bank holidays has meant it's been flying off the needles. I still have no idea how this is going to look when it's off those needles as I'm knitting on an 80cm cable and it's very scrunched up, but I do love the colours. I'm already planning another in navy, ecru and Spectrum rainbow yarn which I am waiting to be delivered from the Yarn Yard.

A rare photo of D & I...almost

Today, in typical British fashion, we had our Jubilee street party in the rain. It started off a little chilly and overcast, but within a couple of hours the rain was battering down against the plastic marquee and we all resorted to winter coats. It didn't dampen our spirits - we had good company and plenty to eat and drink. The children were not as crazy as us and all retreated into one of the houses to watch a DVD, but they are young and have not yet learned that standing or sitting in the cold and rain is part of our British tradition, nay, character.

If you would like to share your Shawl progress with us, please use the link below to enter the URL of your blog post, photohost or even your Ravelry notes, if that's the place you are recording it. You can also view the Instagram gallery online via this link.


Sunday, 3 June 2012

A mini KAL update for the Diamond Jubilee

Source: Vogue Knitting 
Hello! Following the most wonderful wedding of a family friend yesterday, it's been a day of national celebration in honour of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee today. Unfortunately the huge picnic that was planned for our village was cancelled due to the heavy rain so we were confined to an afternoon of watching the celebrations from the sofa. 

On the plus side, the kids asked to go to my mum's for the night, leaving us time to relax - which for D means playing some game or other on some console or other, and for me.... lots of KNITTING! Consequently, the Color Affection shawl for the June Knitalong is making speedy progress (despite a little setback earlier in the day involving a long ladder and a small crochet hook) so I'm much further into it than anticipated.

Some observations so far:
- the shape is (so far) longer and thinner than I expected 
- it knits up REALLY quickly, or seems to because of the frequent changes between the 3 different yarns, and even more so when your 3rd yarn is multicoloured like mine (pictured)
- this pattern would be perfect for a new knitter who wants to make something which looks more complicated than it is. There is very little to remember and the pattern is simple to knit and easy to follow.

I'll post a proper update on Tuesday, but in the meantime, in response to a few requests, even if you don't have an Instagram account you can see the photos being posted there via this online gallery. You can also follow the conversation on the Facebook page and Twitter. Full details of the KAL are here if you're still thinking about taking part. 

Fingers crossed that the weather improves for the rest of the 'long weekend' plans in the UK.
 International readers, I hope you have a wonderful start to your working week. 
Happy Jubilee, everyone! 
Friday, 1 June 2012

Did you ever....?

Did you ever finish knitting something at the start of the week and think there was no hurry to block it.... and then completely forget about it until Friday morning? Then, in a panic, get your 3 year old to take photos of the (still unblocked) item before she goes to pre-school? And they are all blurry, except for one headless shot which includes more of the fireplace than the item? (Thank goodness for cropping and text boxes!) So it is with much kerfuffle that I present to you.....
PATTERN: Framlingham by Joanne Scrace
YARN: Blacker Yarns pure dyed British wool DK 

This is a really nice pattern, which Joanne asked me to test knit,  and the FO deserves much better pictures than this, so I'll add more to the Ravelry project page when it's blocked out and photographed with more appropriate clothing/accessories. There are three different lengths - I made the shortest (I'm 5'3") and with the waist shaping, I think it's surprisingly flattering of the fuller figure, although you can't really see that here.  I rarely knit clothing for myself as it's hard not to feel swamped if I make something that fits my bust, but being in one piece and from the top-down it was easy to see when the hips were wide enough and to tweak a little, as required. 

I will certainly come back to this design as it would be lovely in a thinner yarn with a nice drape - this purple DK was from my stash and it's quite stiff and dense, but I'm pleased with how it turned out anyway. It'll be even better when washed, I'm sure. I imagine this worn over a long-sleeved white top with jeans. If you'd like to have a go at making one, you can use the code "CWTCH" to get a 20% discount on the pattern until the end of June! 

The reason I wasn't thinking about having this ready for a "Ta-dah" today? It's been a busy Jubilee week (as much as I'd love to post photos of the hat parade and the entire school country dancing, there are too many other children in them all)....
.... and the June Shawl Knitalong has just started!!!! I've cast on my Color Affection and am hoping to get as much as I can done today as we've a very busy bank holiday weekend ahead including a wedding, a picnic, and a couple more Jubilee parties.  

I'll be back with an update soon, and will leave you with links to FO Friday & Creative Friday
Hope you have a great weekend - whatever you're doing!
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