Sunday, 23 April 2017

Stash Enhancement and What I did on my Holidays Part 2

Hello and hope you are all well!

In this post I am going to combine a quick stash update with a few more of my FOs from my hiatus.  I was going to try and hold off on yarn purchases until the end of July when I will be going to Fibre East in Bedfordshire, but yesterday morning I felt like a little jaunt.  So off I drove to a yarn shop which I knew of but had never visited before.  They had quite a bit of yarn which I don't find in my usual yarn shop and some of it was on sale!  I therefore came away with a little more yarn to add to the already ridiculous amounts of yarn in my stash.

And this is what I bought! From left to right, there is a skein of Rowan Fine Art sock yarn in the Kingfisher colourway, a ball of Noro Silk Garden Sock in the S8 colourway and a ball of Katia Socks Darling 4 in colourway 60.  The Rowan and the Noro were on sale as either the yarn or the colourway are being discontinued.  These are all new to me sock yarns and it will be interesting to see what they turn into eventually.  Nothing is likely to happen to them just yet as I feel that I should be working more from deep stash, rather than casting on the new goodies.

All of my current projects are at that uninteresting to look at stage where, although you have made progress on them, it is either not immediately apparent or they haven't quite reached a point where you can say that you have hit a particular milestone.  So I am going to show you the next few of my finished objects from my long hiatus.

Moving on from my Hitchhiker, the next two FOs were both Christmas presents - the first got finished in time and the second being slightly delayed.

Every year I make Christmas ornaments for my two nieces and up until Christmas 2015, these had always been done in cross stitch.  2015 saw my first knitted Christmas ornaments going on the tree.  The pattern for these came from the "Keepsake Collection" and free yarn kit from Issue 86 of "Let's Knit" magazine.  They were knit flat on 3.5mm needles and the letters are done in duplicate stitch.  The first stocking was cast on on 31 August 2015 (forward planning!) and the second stocking was cast off on 2 October 2015.  However, due to my tendency to procrastinate, they weren't actually sewn up and finished until 22 December 2015.  That was the same day as I cast on the second Christmas project, the one that didn't get finished in time, mainly because I thought of it late and then had to order the yarn.

This is my third pair of Cabled Handwarmers designed by Pat Strong for Issue 38 of "Knit Now" magazine.  I called them "Going Postal" as they were a Christmas present for my oldest friend who is a postwoman.  They were knit flat in King Cole Baby Alpaca in colourway 502 (Grey) on 4mm needles.  The idea was that they would keep her hands warm but still enable her to make deliveries easily, and the colour wouldn't show the dirt much or attract unwanted attention.  Having cast on on 22 December 2015, the first handwarmer was cast off on New Year's Eve with the second one being cast on immediately and then cast off on 9 January 2016.  They were blocked and sewn up before being handed over on 18 January 2016.

The third and final FO for this post was something for me.  Back in July 2014, I went to my first yarn festival, Fibre East in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, which was a completely new experience for me, being more used to quilt shows.  The first skein of yarn I bought was sparkly sock yarn by Fleabubs by Lala in her "Where the Wild Roses Grow" colourway.  This then sat in my stash for the best part of 18 months until I decided that it was far too colourful to use for socks and that it deserved to be turned into something that would be seen.  So I cast on Kelly McClure's "Sockhead Slouch Hat", which is a free pattern on Ravelry.

This photo was taken while it was still a work in progress but the only photos I have of it as a FO are rubbish, taken indoors in the winter in very bad light, and I wanted you to get some idea of the actual colour of the yarn.  This was taken before I started the decreases, but basically you end up with a long slouchy hat with a rolled up brim.  You can see the finished hat here.

There are still a couple more "holiday" posts to come, but I don't want to make these posts too long and picture heavy.  So, moving on to what's happening in Real Life, my most recent trip to Slimming World revealed that, despite having had a very nice family Easter meal, I have lost another 1.5lb, bringing me to a total of 6lb in three weeks.  What is more, having managed to restrain myself from eating any Easter eggs, I was also Slimmer of the Week, which was a nice surprise.  The aim for this coming week is to get my half stone (7lb) award - this works out as about 3.2 kilos for people who work in metric.

In general, I am feeling quite positive and as if I am moving forward, instead of still being stuck in a rut.  I have plans for the next few weekends and will report back as I tick these off.  It's getting late now and I have to work tomorrow, so wishing all the best to you and yours!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Good Friday bind off, Easter Sunday cast on!

I have a FO!  Yes, I have finished my third project for 2017.  On the morning of Good Friday, I settled down with my knitting determined to finish my Socks on a Plane and be able to wear them for Easter.  So here they are:

This is a free pattern on Ravelry from Laura Linneman and is knit toe up on two needles.  This was a new technique to me but I enjoyed it so much I am now knitting sweater sleeves the same way.  The yarn is Sara's Texture Crafts in her Standard Socks - Odd Sox - Line Art base in the Watermelon Neon colourway.  I bought it at Fibre East a couple of years ago specifically for this pattern - it has just taken longer to get it knitted up than I anticipated.  Sock 1 was cast on on 17 December 2016 and cast off on 25 February 2017.  Sock 2 was cast on the same day and cast off on 14 April 2017.

Of course, the first comment from everyone who has seen them is that they are odd socks, and I have had to explain that that is what the pattern was written for.  The cables go down the outside of the foot so the pink sock is the right sock and the green sock is the left sock.  I like them very much and may well go hunting for yarn to make another pair.

Having finished my socks, I needed a new project.  I have got another sock pattern lined up but I need to buy the right needles.  It will be my first colourwork pattern, so I am not expecting it to progress very quickly once I finally get started.  In the meantime, however, I have cast on what I am calling my "Berries Snuggle".  As I am not sure what size it is going to end up, whether it is a blanket or a throw or whatever remains to be seen.  This is something of a stash busting exercise, using deep stash which I bought a few months after I started knitting.  I'm using James C Brett Marble Chunky in the Berries colourway and I have two 200g balls amounting to 624 metres.  It is a 3 row rib pattern with a garter border, and currently looks like this:

Only time will tell what it ends up looking like, but it is simple straightforward knitting which I can take to Knit Group and will use up my stash.  If it works out OK, then I have the same amount in two more colourways which could go the same way.

In other news, I had a great day off with eldest niece.  We bought clothes and books, we ate toasted teacake and later on pizza, we got her feet measured (at her Mum's request), we chatted and walked what felt like miles round town.  The one big fail was the new phone cover we were supposed to be looking for - we just couldn't find anything she really liked.  My sister finally texted to ask if she was coming home at all that day so we headed for the bus and icecreams.  I'm counting it as a great success on the Auntie front, and we still need to find a phone cover :-)

I also went to Slimming World that evening and found I had lost another 2lb, so 4.5lb in two weeks!  I had hedged my bets at lunchtime by having a veggie flatbread in Pizza Hut instead of pizza, but there was garlic bread.

Yesterday was Easter Sunday, and as well as casting on a new project, I went to my parents' house for tea.  We had an Easter egg hunt in the back garden, which means I now have chocolate bunnies in my fridge.  We were also "entertained" by my nieces, who put on a Easter Bunny playlet with Harry Potter references - sometimes being a good Auntie can be a real strain.

Tonight I have Knit Group and tomorrow is unfortunately back to work.  I hope that all of you had a good Easter (if you celebrate it) or a nice break (if you don't).

Wishing all the best to you and yours.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

What I did on my holidays - Part 1

Hello again.  I want to start by thanking Cathy and Leonore for their kind comments, which made me feel it was worth posting again after all this time.

This is intended to be the first of a number of catch-up posts to show you what I got up to during my mental health break from the blog.  As my last post before then is dated 25 October 2015, there are nearly 18 months to cover so I am not going to put everything in one post because it would take forever and be very picture heavy.  Projects will therefore be shown in chronological order of finishing to make things a bit easier.

The first project that I finished after things got bad were my Twilight Cabled Handwarmers, which I made for my Mum's 70th birthday.

These used a pattern which I had previously used to make handwarmers for myself, designed by Pat Strong and featured in Issue 38 of "Knit Now" magazine.  This pair were knit in a hand dyed superwash merino DK from Truly Hooked in her "Twilight" colourway on 4mm needles.  They were cast on on 23 October 2015, bound off on 9 November 2015 and sewn up on 13 November 2015.  Mum liked them very much, but they don't look quite like the photo anymore as the colours ran when she first hand washed them, so they are now black, purple and grey instead of black, purple and white.

My second finish was my Hitchhiker shawlette.

This is a design by Martina Behm, which I cast on on 21 June 2015 and bound off on 23 November 2015.  The pattern is called Hitchhiker because it is supposed to have 42 points a la "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy".  I knit mine in a heavy lace weight yarn from Fivemoons - their "Nanna Not Sock" base in the "Shepherd's Delight" colourway.  Instead of 42 points, mine has 50 points because there was 600 metres of yarn and I knit as many points as I could get out of it.

My third project, and the last one for this post, was a cross stitch piece, again for my Mum's 70th birthday.  This was done as part of a collective gift by the other members of Mum's patchwork group.  We all made a 12 inch block with a sleeve on the back which Mum could display on a decorative hanger.  The theme was Gothic, steampunk and skeletons.

This design is "Stitch Night at the Crypt Club" by Prairie Moon, stitched on 32 count Zweigart Murano evenweave in the vintage marbled grey colourway using DMC threads.  I started it on 31 August 2015 and finished the stitching on 6 December 2015.  It was made up as above on 9 December 2015 and handed over to Mum at the patchwork group meeting on 10 December 2015.

One of the reasons that this took relatively long, despite being quite a simple pattern, was that I struggled with the stitch count and found that I had to use a magnifier in order to work on it.  This, combined with other adaptions I found myself making, such as taking my glasses off to read, finally meant that I switched to wearing varifocals the following May (2016) and have been very happy with them ever since.

As you can tell, Mum's 70th birthday was a big event at this time and we, the family, organised a party to celebrate.  Lots of people came, friends and family, and a great time was had by all.  My sister and I spent most of our time in the kitchen dealing with the food etc, but it paid off and Mum really enjoyed herself.

At about the same time, I got two new jobs - one full-time and one part-time.  The full-time job I still have, but the part-time one as administrator for the flats I live in, which was strenuous while it lasted, has fortunately passed to another flat owner who is retired and has more time to give it.  However, I did manage to pay off my car using the extra money, which was a positive thing.

I'm going to finish here as I have tomorrow off to spend with my eldest niece who turned 11 last month.  I don't know where the years have gone.  It seems just yesterday that she started school and now she will be going to secondary school in September.

Wishing all the best to you and yours.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Honey, I'm home!

Hi, I'm back.  Yes, I know it's been a long time, the world has turned and things have changed.  Things have changed for me too.

I stopped posting for a number of reasons, but probably the main underlying reason was my mental health.  At the time I was in a very deep rut with my job, had just failed to get a new job and was heading into the depths of Winter, which always has a bad effect on me.  I had also become far more involved with knitting than with cross-stitch, and perhaps felt that people weren't as interested in the new direction I had taken.  So I was falling into the Slough of Despond and it has taken me quite a while to get myself to a point where I can hopefully see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Anyway, what has changed?  Well, the job I hadn't got when I last posted came back on the market.  It was a job that an ex-colleague had suggested to me, working for her new firm.  It turned out that the person who did get the job only lasted 1 day!  My ex-colleague got in touch to ask if I was still interested, so I went to see her and her boss, had a brief chat, and was offered the job.  I started the new job on 4 January 2016 and let's put it this way - when my ex-colleague handed in her notice this February, the general response of the rest of the team was one of concern - "Mountain Ash isn't going as well, is she?".

What else?  I took the plunge and went back to Slimming World last week - it was bad, worse than ever before.  I am perhaps still not in the right place mentally for losing weight, but my reasoning was that if I went back and stayed to group, then maybe that would get me moving.  I went back this week and found I had lost 2.5lb without putting too much effort into it.  So this is good and positive, and I will keep trying to move forward on this.

The knitting is still playing a major role in my life - it forms the majority of my social life as I am a member of two organised groups and one informal group.  I go to Knit Groups every Monday evening and every Saturday afternoon.  So, rather than make this post into War and Peace, I will show you a photo of my most recent finish and then do some catch-up posts to show you what I have been working on since I was last here.

This is Attune - it is a shawl pattern by Siew Clark.  I knit it in Cygnet Boho Spirit, which is a 100% acrylic DK yarn, in colourway 6461.  It took 6.63 balls of yarn which was 1591.4 metres.  I cast it on on 20 May 2016 and wove the ends in on 27 March 2017.  It has generally been known as "The Monster" because it is so big.  It is a circular shawl in 8 segments and each segment is larger than the previous one, so the first segment is quite short and the last segment is very long.  I am 5 foot 8 inches tall and this is what it looks like on me:

As you can imagine, I was very glad to reach the finishing line with this one.

So, apologies once again for the considerable hiatus between posts and I do have every intention of getting back on track.  Spring has sprung in the UK and things are definitely looking up round here.

All the very best to you and yours.
Mountain Ash