Two finished items

Last week on my day off I spent most of the day sourcing items for the boy’s world book day costume: he went as Asterix. Here’s the hat.

asterixhat

I had to buy a hot glue gun to make the wings. Now that is an awesome new toy.

Later in the day, I sat down with some yellow yarn and a crochet hook and came up with this:

tache

A good addition to the dressing up box. I fixed pipe cleaners to the ends of the tache, so it works rather like glasses hooking behind the ear.

In order to complete the World Book Day costume, I had to compromise on the deadline for the Fish Lips Kiss Socks, but they are done as well now, even if they weren’t ready to be opened on the significant birthday for which they were intended.

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I only have four WIPs at the moment: that must be the lowest number for some time. I have new projects all set and ready to go whenever I feel like it, but I keep being drawn to finish up the old ones. This is almost unprecedented, but I’m going with it.

I’m getting out all my WIPs today. I will sit in my chair catching up with all the tv I’ve missed this week and alternate them. The project I really want out of the way is the Amigurumi project, which I started on a whim and swiftly got bored with. I’ve a lovely crochet project waiting to go, but I won’t begin another crochet project until this one is finished. I suppose that means I had better go and work on that, since knitting and crochet projects get finished much more quickly when you work on them, rather than looking disapprovingly at them and wishing they were done.

Writing letters

This month I will be mostly writing letters.  February seems to be the month for committing to writing a real old-fashioned letter every day.

There’s Lettermo, which I have joined up with.

A month of letters 2015 participant

There is also InCoWriMo. That is, of course, International Correspondence Writing Month. Tagline: One a day, every day, February.

I’m following both the sites. Lettermo doesn’t require you to post anything on Sundays, but InCoWriMo does. I’m going to get ahead of the game and write a postcard today. I sorted out a pile of nice writing paper and some things to send to keep me going for the first few days.

On the knitting front, I’ve just covered the rug in the living room in yarn, in an attempt to work out the colour scheme for the next few rows of my sock blanket scarf.

sockblanket

Apologies for the poor light and the distraction of the rug. I was working out when I last used each yarn. You can see that there are a few that haven’t appeared since near the beginning. They’ll be coming up in the next few rows.

Oh, and here’s a link to the finished swirl, which I am snuggled up in as I type.

Finished, yet not

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The swirl is finished, at least the knitting part of it. The joy of the final cast off after two years in progress was a lovely feeling. I spent a good hour with pins and blocking wires yesterday evening and now the spare room smells of wet wool, and is likely to do so for some days. Then the seaming: just one long seam from cuff to cuff round the back of the neck. Time to brush up on mattress stitch.

I’m now torn between starting something new or staying on the finishing off drive. I’ve bought the pattern for Ysolda’s new KAL, but I’m already a week behind, and I don’t really want a time pressure knit.

In a couple of weeks time I have a week away on a conference with work, so I need a really good project to take with me. I think, for now, I’ll keep going with some other WIPs.

2014 FO and WIP round-up

I think most of these links will only work if you have a Ravelry account. If you knit and don’t have an account, I highly recommend it.

What did I finish in 2014?

  • Handwarmers for my sister – finished on January 2nd (a late Christmas present
  • Stranded Advent Scarf – finished on January 23rd
  • Socks for Toby and some more squares on the great big sock yarn scarf. These were both for the 2014 Winter Ravellenics
  • Two (1,2)pairs of socks for Sock Madness
  • A hat for me
  • Ysoldas’s Mystery KAL shawl
  • My portable knitting project: Trillian, a small triangular scarf made of sock yarn (no picture of it finished, but it is often round my neck).
  • Socks for Sock Sniper
  • The big Auction Socks of DOOM

What do I have on the needles and what is the likelihood of completion?

  • The Swirl (50% complete). Very likely to finish the knitting. The seaming might get procrastinated.
  • The Sock blanket scarf (60% complete). Now too big to carry round as a portable knitting project, but too small to be finished. Slim chance of finishing any time soon.
  • The amigurumi project. I’ve lost interest in this. I have an elephant and half a turtle. Needs bringing to a close before I start another crochet project.
  • Some camouflage lace socks (first sock nearly done).  Highly likely to be finished. These were put aside in order to do the great big auction socks of DOOM. It was a toss-up as to whether to finish these before the swirl, but the swirl is definitely winter knitting, so these can wait.
  • Some plain socks using the Fish Lips Kiss Heel – always nice to learn a new heel. (Honesty here – I’ve just had to add this to Ravelry because I started it over the summer when I was in a hurry for a new project and never got round to adding it as a WIP). My current portable project: slowly but surely it will be finished.
  • The big cotton blanket from 2011. I think I’ve six squares completed. Let’s not kid ourselves: I may as well add this to the WIP list for the end of next year. The blanket needs to be bigger than the child it is destined for (or her dolls) and she is now 3.

The plan is to finish the swirl before starting anything else.

What is in the queue and ready to begin?

  • Color Affection: yarn wound, pattern printed
  • Kadril – pattern gifted by Beth in 2013, yarn chosen, needs winding
  • Knee-length socks for me. Yarn purchased, need to choose pattern
  • A crochet kit that I bought at Yarndale (impulse purchase because the yarn is so pretty)

    Beautiful Yarn
    Beautiful Yarn

Looking further ahead

  • I’d like to learn to fit a sweater properly
  • I’ve got a great big skein of laceweight that wants to be a big shawl
  • Spinning, perhaps even spinning for a particular project and then knitting it

Not even a year

*breezes nonchalantly back into the room as if it has only been five minutes*

The Ysolda knitalong from January you say? It went quite well. There were five clues, each with two options, so you could end up with one of 32 different shawls.

Here’s mine, ravelled here, and being worn pretty much every day now the winter has started to bite.

It’s a peculiarly vibrant red, that I love, although it’s nowhere near the colour palette I usually inhabit.

There were dramas in the knitting. I ran about three yards short of the red yarn, so had to redo almost the entire knitted on border to insert the grey panels. There was swearing that evening.

Since then, I made an attempt at Sock Madness in March, but only reached round 2. It’s a lovely group to be part of, but I think that sock-knitting contests are something I’m going to step away from for a while.  There are exceptions of course: I still love Sock Sniper. I got my kill this year, but was taken out within an hour of returning from the post-office. There’s so much I want to knit in order to learn more and the structured Knit-a-longs often don’t have patterns that challenge or inspire at the time.

In the spring I made a foolish error: I committed myself to knitting a pair of socks for a charity auction. The lot went for a good amount of money, but ended up being bought by a man. I had intended to specify that they were ladies socks in the catalogue, but I missed out on checking the entry. I’m committed to knitting a really big pair of socks and I’m no longer enjoying it. The design process has been interesting – this is the first pair of longer socks I’ve had a go at – but the actual knitting is fairly soul-destroying, even with some sneaky cables and a bit of gansey-type patterning. Still, it has to be done. Surely if I keep knitting they will eventually be finished. I’m keeping away from all sorts of lovely yarny distractions until they are done and in the post.

I’ve a few posts in mind to ease me back into the idea of blogging:

  • In which my spinning makes a great leap forward
  • In which I go to Yarndale 2014
  • Discussions on notebooks, organisation and blogs
  • WIP round-up

My life is rather unbalanced at the moment. Too much work and not enough knitting, or thinking and writing about knitting. This must change. I’ve been putting some support systems in place at work to help me work more effectively. I need to do the same for play as well.

This evening I will leave it here I think. How was your summer? Knit anything nice?

[edited for spellings and to insert a link]

New Year New Stash

Why, yes, it has been a long time since the last post. Thank you for asking.

First things first: the winner of the skein of sock yarn from the last post…

There were three comments qualifying for yarn. I couldn’t decide between them on merit, since they were all good reasons. I went to a random number generator and it said number 1 was the winner. Chronologically, the first comment was from Daisy. A skein of yarn will be heading your way soon. Seems a fair reward for getting me into this knitting malarky in the first place.

Would you like to see the loot? Of course you would. I’ve been doing a lot of show and tell sessions when knitters come to visit.

Prize Yarn

If you want to see the details, I suggest going to look at my ravelry stash, since it is all photographed and catalogued in detail.

Progress in knitting

Since the beginning of November, there has been much knitting. I had been asked for a hat and hand warmer combination for Christmas from my sister. The hat was completed in mid-November, the hand warmers just after New Year – she enjoyed trying the half-completed hand warmers on when we saw her at Christmas. The hat was a heavily adapted design and the hand warmers were a completely new design, since I couldn’t find what I wanted on Ravelry.

handwarmers
I think she likes them

Where would you go to find an expert in how to make gloves fit really well? For socks I know that Cookie A or Cat Bordhi are good to go to when you want the technical details. Is there a gloves guru?

The reason for the delay in the hand warmers was that I decided to join the Sock Madness Advent Scarf knit-along. From December 1st to 24th, I awoke each day to an email with the next section of pattern in it. It was all in 2-colour stranded knitting and I really enjoyed it. I kept up with the schedule until the 21st December, then work got really, really crazily busy so I paused. The scarf is now upstairs, blocking, before I graft it together to make an infinity scarf.

It is possible that I might have got the KAL bug because I’ve just started another one: the Ysolda Teague Follow Your Arrow Mystery Knit Along. Clue 1 was released on Monday, so if you want to join in there is still plenty of time.

And the winner is…

Seems a long time since Sock Sniper started, and indeed it is 2 months. Things got quite tense in the last weeks. I had no idea where my third pair of socks to finish were coming from and it was weeks before they arrived. By that point we were down to the final three: me and two Americans. The day the socks arrived, I heard on the forums that the socks knitted for me had been posted, so there wasn’t a moment to lose. The person who had started the socks had only knitted the first leg, so there was a fair bit left to do.

How fast can I knit a sock and a half? Well, I started at 11pm on Wednesday evening, knitted for an hour, then went to bed. On Thursday, I knitted all day (apart from feeding the children) and kitchenered the toe at 2.30am on Friday. They went in the post on Friday morning and I went home to rest my eyes and hands.

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This week I got back from a few days away, fully expecting to have been ‘killed’, but the socks didn’t arrive until Friday morning, the same day as the socks I knitted arrived in Louisiana, USA. I was killed 5 or 6 hours before the other person, but it was called as a tie by our commander in chief, since it was the same postal day. Cue much rejoicing. Now I am waiting eagerly for the prize to arrive. People keep asking me what I am going to do with 20 skeins of sock yarn. I’m guessing there will be a few people with warmer feet over the next few years. I wonder what else I can knit with sock yarn?

When you get a lovely prize like this I think it is nice to share. So, leave a comment saying what you have done to deserve a free skein of sock yarn and in a few weeks (when the yarns have arrived in the post), I’ll choose the comment that amused or touched me most and post you a skein of yarn.

Do you want to see the socks that killed me?

deathsocks

Aren’t they a glorious colour?

I must figure out sometime just how many pairs of socks I’ve knitted and sent round the world. It’s quite a few now.

The state of the yarn

Looking in my knitting photos folder for September, it looks like it has been a busy month.Sniper Shot

I left you awaiting the release of the patterns for Sock Sniper. They were duly released and I fired my first shot across the Atlantic, taking a rookie sniper from Massachusetts out of the game.  Not my fastest knit ever, but they were started on Sunday and posted/fired on Thursday in a week where I was at work, but with nothing optional in the diary to allow for extra knitting.

Two weeks later, socks in progress arrived from my original target’s target. Dream in Color Smooshy Cashmere was the yarn and knitting it was like being constantly stroked with the softest fluff imaginable. I was reluctant to let it loose from my grasp, but the game is the thing. The socks arrived halfway down the first heel-flap, so I had three-quarters of a pair to knit in a week with a lot in the diary. The socks accompanied me to hear the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Bradford. They were admired by nuns and became part of a conference on social media.

Weapon 2

The socks left here a couple of weeks ago, heading back to the States where they took out a sniper who had just fired her third shot.

Since then, I’ve been waiting. The commander in chief tells me that socks in progress are on their way to me, but they have yet to arrive. Out of 100 snipers who began the contest, there are only 5 left. I’m the only one outside the USA. I am already the last surviving member of my platoon, and the last international sniper. Is it possible that I might get even further?

A WIP update

Ravelry tells me that I still have 6 WIPs

  • Trillian: Sock yarn scarf made with Malabrigo. This is my current mindless knitting and it is growing slowly
  • The orange cabled socks – I cast on the second sock the other day, but it needs concentration, so it is also going slowly
  • The Swirl – This is my current tv knitting. I have re-knit to the point when I realised my mistake and it is now growing again.
  • I’ve lost interest in the Amigurumi project, I haven’t knit on my mitred squares scarf for a while and the KAL cotton squares for the blanket have not multiplied.
  • I’ve been spinning on the wheel.

In other news…

  • Yarndale, but that needs a post all to itself
  • I have a new knitting (and spinning group)

Update on the Tour de Sock

I posted last at the end of May and, since then, my needles have been busy with socks. It is the annual Tour de Sock competition: six stages of socks, usually of increasing difficulty. The socks are released at intervals of ten days and it is something of a speed knitting competition.

Knitting quickly is not my strong point, mainly because knitting time is stolen from other things I should be doing like feeding or playing with the children, working, or spending time with the husband. I did get some time away on a conference, and found that when I can knit for several hours a day, more knitting appears. Who would have thought?

Here’s the report so far.

Stage 1: The Secret Fan – completed, but not within the time limit.

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You can see on the left the small amount of beading that was involved in this round. The yarn was a Take Five set from The Knitting Goddess, that I’ve had kicking around in the stash for years. I’m fairly pleased with them, but probably should have alternated the colours for a few rows when changing them.

Stage 2 – Did not start. This was a pair of socks with some cables and some simple colourwork and I just didn’t fancy it, plus I still had the stage 1 socks to finish.

Stage 3 – Lebowski – completed within time limit

These socks had three different types of colourwork in them: mosaic, fair-isle and intarsia, plus stripes. I’ve never got the hang of intarsia, and the whole point, for me, of these competitions is to master new things, so I jumped in.

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Turns out that intarsia isn’t too hard, although I am not totally happy with some of the tension in the stitches. Still, I learnt something new and finished the stage on time.The yarn was more Knitting Goddess sock yarn, using up some single skeins left over from previous colourwork socks. I’m nearly out of semi-solids, so will need to go shopping before I do any more like this.

Stage 4 – did not start. I needed a break from knitting socks and I really couldn’t face adding 500 beads to a sock, having established last year that beaded socks are uncomfortable to wear!

Stage 5: Little Deschutes. In progress, will not be completed within time limit.

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Travelling cables. A gorgeous pattern, which is very relaxing, but not quick, even having mastered the art of cabling without a cable needle. The main reason I haven’t got further with these is that I have got seriously into watching the Tour de France, to the extent that I concentrate on it without knitting.

All three of these pairs have been knitted with my new Karbonz circular needle that I won in a contest on Sanday Spinners. Here is the review I sent to them. As you can tell, I’m a big fan of the Karbonz needle. It is so smooth and easy to use. I’m even a convert to magic loop, having stuck to using 2 circulars for the last few years.

There’s just Stage 6 of Tour de Sock left to go. It’s usually a bit of a challenge. This year it calls for yarn that is: “Striped, Long Gradient Color change, or leftovers/minis.” There is great speculation on the discussion board over what it will be.

 

Pre-Blog-Week round-up

Tomorrow sees the start of Knitting and Crochet Blog week but, before that gets under way, there are a few items to blog.

Remember the Woolly Wormhead hat workshop I went on a while back? Well, I finished the hat. It’s a beret with three spirals on it. The spirals rather pull the beret out of shape, but it’s a good basic hat.

Unblocked:

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Blocked (while dry, put on a dinner plate; wet it and leave until dry)

beret

This is the first hat I’ve made that actually fits nicely round the crown. Thanks Woolly, for the handouts and the theory of hats.

The pink socks are coming along nicely, but you’ll be hearing more about that later in the week.

On the edge of the terrace, (not as grand as it sounds), in the back garden we’ve had a really long fence put up to stop the small children jumping off and injuring themselves. As soon as I saw it I thought that it had potential for displaying knitting.

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(We also have a visiting pheasant. I’ve named him Cedric.)

The new header is a first attempt at using the fence. I’m sure there will be more in the future.