Sunday, 28 May 2017

A Finish, a Start and some Fun

Apologies for the delay in coming back to you.  I did hope to be more on top of my blogging now I've restarted, but it hasn't quite gone to plan.  However I am here now.

And in accordance with the title of this post, I have a Finished Object.  I finished my Fireworks Hitchhiker on 22 May, washed it and blocked it, and have given it to my Mum, but strictly on the proviso that she gives it me back to be washed!

It is not a full Hitchhiker in that it only has 40 points - I had just over 3g (about 13m) left when I had finished the bind off.  The light is a bit off - the green is actually more yellow than you see here, but photography is not one of my talents.

Having finished one project and having received the needles for my next project, I then cast on for a new pair of socks.  But not just any pair of socks - this is my first colourwork project.  It is a Drops pattern, so free, and it is number 126-4.  I am calling them my Ring O'Roses socks - a slight variation on what Drops are calling the pattern.

Again, not a brilliant photo but at least you get some idea of how it is developing.  The main colour is Drops Fabel in the 400 Black colourway and the contrast colour is Drops Delight in the 6 Pink/Purple Mix colourway - the yarns used in the actual pattern.  I am enjoying knitting this so far, but it is definitely a at home alone in the quiet project - not one for Knit Group.

My other three WIPs have all made progress, but none of them have reached a point worth showing off.  Besides I wanted to tell you about my little jaunt last Sunday.

My oldest friend in all the world (we have known each other for over 40 years) and I have been discussing going for a walk in the Peak District of Derbyshire for some time.  The stars all aligned last Sunday and I drove out to her house, getting there about 9am.  She then drove us to Ambergate Station where we parked up before walking a short distance to the Cromford Canal.  I then got to choose between a 7.5 mile circular walk taking in the town of Crich mainly uphill through woods and probably muddy due to all the rain we had had in the previous few days, or a 10 mile return trip along the canal path to Cromford and back on the flat.  I am not a great one for excessive exercise so I chose the flat route.

We had a really good time.  The weather was just right - not too hot, not too cold.  The path was nice and dry.  We saw lots of interesting, fun things - a pike, swans nesting, a canal boat, a dinosaur, lots of baby ducklings, coots and moorhens.  The scenery was lovely.  We did lots of chatting and catching up.  On the way, we stopped at the place where the High Peaks trail crosses the Cromford Canal for a comfort break - and a dog's head appeared under the partition much to my surprise.  And when we got to Cromford, we ate our pack-up at a picnic bench and then decided to go across the road and take a look at Cromford Mill.  This was built by Richard Arkwright and is part of the 15 mile long Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Before we got to the road, we passed a building where we could see crafty stuff going on so we went in.  It turned out that the Arkwright Spinsters hold a demonstration on the 3rd Sunday of each month and we had struck lucky.  There was handspun yarn for sale and I came away with this:

100g and 198 yards of handspun Bluefaced Leicester.  No plans for this as yet, but I couldn't resist.

After having a look round the exterior of the Mill, we turned our feet back towards Ambergate, the car and my friend's house for tea.  By the time we reached the car, my right leg had put in a mild complaint at the unusual amount of exercise it had been subjected to and my left leg had thrown a major tantrum and was demanding to speak to the management!  Fortunately it had calmed down a bit by the time tea was over and I was ready to drive home, and getting up and pacing the hall several times later that evening meant that the following morning I was experiencing only very mild discomfort on my way to the bus stop.  But we had a really good time and are ready to repeat the experience.  We are also in discussions about going on holiday together next year, which would be fabulous.

In other news, I have lost another 2lb since I last posted, bringing me to 10.5lb lost in total.  According to my Mum and my sister, you can see that I've lost weight which is encouraging as I still have just over a stone to go.

I'm going to love you and leave you with some photos of my walk - what I really need to learn is how to stick them together into one montage, rather than have several separate ones - if you have any ideas on how to do this, please let me know.  Anyway, until my next post, may all be well with you and yours.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Stash, more Stash and a new Start

Ok, so there has been stash and lots of it.  There has also been a busy weekend and a new start.

I will begin at the beginning and go on until I get to the end.  In the beginning, I missed Love Your Local Yarn Shop Day as I said in my last post, so last Tuesday (9 May) I rushed out in my lunch hour to see what new yarns had arrived for LYLYS Day at my local yarn shop.  I had some gift cards that my family gave me at Christmas which I had been keeping for the occasion, and I came away with these:


The pair of skeins on the left is Eleanor of Knit Nottingham's own hand dyed 4ply yarn (80/20 merino/bamboo) in "The Deep", and my current plan is to make Helen Stewart's Talisman Shawl out of it.  The skein on the right is Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace (45% silk 55% merino) in the "Teal" colourway, which I bought because I love the colour.

In my last post, I also mentioned a project which I couldn't cast on until I had the right needles.  I ordered the needles on Friday night (12 May) and there may have been a few balls of sock yarn which also fell into the basket.

These are all Drops sock yarns bought in the on-going Drops sale at 35% off.  Top left is Drops Fabel Uni Colour in "Turquoise", top right is Drops Fabel Print in "Blue Lagoon", bottom left is Drops Fabel Print in "Berry Dreams" and bottom right is Drops Delight Print in "Pink/Purple".  There would have been more, but the colours I wanted were out of stock at the time of ordering.  This little lot arrived in the post yesterday, along with my new needles.

Then after ordering needles and yarn on Friday night, I went hunting through my stash of patterns and yarn to find a suitable sock pattern to cast on.  Having cast off my last pair of socks nearly a month previously, I was starting to get withdrawal symptoms.  I have plans for my first pair of colourwork socks but those had to wait for the needles that were on order.  I needed something that came between vanilla and complicated, something that I could knit on the bus.  In the end, I plumped for the Petty Harbour pattern by Rayna Curtis, which is a free pattern on Ravelry.  I am knitting them in Opal 20 Jahre yarn in the "Wir Sagen Danke" colourway.  

I cast the first sock on on Saturday morning - 64 stitches on 2.5mm needles.  I have gone down a needle size because I think that my tension has loosened up - I have been a very tight knitter and all my earlier socks have been on 2.75mm needles.  Apart from sock withdrawal symptoms, I cast these socks on because I was about to have a very busy weekend and wanted something relatively straightforward and portable to knit on.  

For the last eight years my Mum has organised an annual Open Gardens weekend on the street that I grew up on and this was the ninth and final year.  It may continue on a bi-annual basis but Mum won't be organising it.  Every year the event has raised money for a different charity and this year it was in aid of the local branch of Parkinson's UK.  There were 10 gardens open to the public, two cafes, a pop-up book stall, a plant stall, patchwork quilts for sale, performances by a local choir, folk singers and a storyteller and a Parkinson's UK stall.  

My role on these occasions has been to run the tombola (see the UK explanation).  The event is open from 2pm to 6pm on both the Saturday and the Sunday, and I spend those eight hours being polite and charming and persuading people that they want to pay 50p a ticket in the hope that they will win a prize.  The prizes are generally quite good as they tend to be unwanted Christmas and birthday presents donated by people in what is considered to be a "nice" area, so smellies, knicknacks, vouchers from the local garden centre and so on.

So for me, there is the setting up - we had about 300 prizes this year, the "selling" for four hours without a break, and the taking down.  The "selling" is the hardest part - I am not at all fond of people en masse, and after a while the "polite and charming" bit doesn't come as easily.  And this year there was the added bonus that one of the neighbours had organised a collection and presentation for Mum on Sunday night, and I had to somehow get her there without her knowing what it was for.

It was however a great success.  We raised over £3,700 for the local branch of Parkinson's UK, which they were very happy about, and hopefully I will never have to run the tombola again!

Also on a positive note, despite the non-Slimming World buffet at the seminar, I managed to lose another pound last week so have now lost 8.5lbs in total.  After all the weekend palaver, which included cake at the presentation, I am just hoping for any kind of loss this week.

Wishing you and yours all the best until my next.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

What am I knitting?

I thought that today I would show you my current works in progress rather than finished objects or stash. There is actually no new stash to show, but only because of a scheduling issue :-)

I have three projects on the go at the moment and one that I will cast on as soon as I have bought the right needles for it.

My oldest work in progress is my Seaspray Rib Jumper which I cast on 22 October 2016. It is a King Cole pattern No. 3933 for a ribbed V-neck jumper/sweater. The accompanying pattern is for a jacket in the same rib. I am knitting it in King Cole Panache, a 50/50 wool/nylon blend, in the Seaspray (2071) colourway. It is designed to be knit flat in pieces, which is completely different from my first jumper, which was a top down raglan. As you will see, I have knit the back flat, but am knitting the sleeves in the round to save on seaming. I finished the first sleeve this morning and have cast on the second sleeve this afternoon. I hope to get this finished before the cold weather comes back (if it ever goes away and lets us have a summer!).  The orange yarn is a lifeline which I put in before starting the decreases.

My next oldest work in progress is my Fireworks Hitchhiker.  I cast this on Christmas Eve 2016 to be my sanity knitting over the holidays.  I am using Peak District Yarns 75/25 4ply Sock Yarn in her "Fireworks over Tideswell" colourway, which I bought at Bakewell Wool Gathering last year.  When I showed Mum my purchases at the time, she said how much she liked this yarn and the other yarn that I had bought from Peak District Yarns which was in purples and black.  However I've been thinking - I can't remember the last time I wore my first Hitchhiker - it spends its life over a hanger in the airing cupboard - so how often am I going to wear this one.  So this may just go to Mum when it is finished, on the strict proviso that she gives it back to me when it needs washing, to prevent any unfortunate accidents.  I am currently up to 39 points - this is a 425m skein so I don't think that I'm going to manage a full 42 point Hitchhiker.  I'm not even sure that I will definitely get a 40th point out of what I have left, but will do my best.  This may be a finished object next time I post.  The colours are not quite right - it is more of a yellowy green than this.

My final work in progress is my Berries Snuggle.  I've written about this in a previous post, so will just say that I am still working my way through the first 200g ball of Marble Chunky.  Once I get to the end of it, I will look at it and decide how much longer I want it to be and whether I am going to buy a third 200g ball for that purpose.  If I do, that will be going against the stash busting objective of this project, but there is no point in creating an item which is not big enough to do what you want it to do.  I have put a pen on it to give you a better idea of actual length.

The project that I want to cast on next is this one - Drops Ring of Roses Socks.  I just need to get organised and order the proper needles.

And in other news, I said earlier that there was no stash enhancement due to a scheduling issue.  Basically I missed out on Love Your Local Yarn Shop Day yesterday because I had pre-booked myself onto a Guild of One Names Studies seminar in darkest Lincolnshire and was driving a friend there.  Despite the lack of yarn, we had a great time.  Neither of us had been to a Guild event for some time and the people we knew were very pleased to see us, and us to see them.  The topic of the seminar was Occupations and the sources you can use to find out about the occupations of the people in your one name study.  There were five really good speakers, but by far and away my favourite was the first one.  This was Paul Ellis who is the stone carver at Lincoln Cathedral.  He talked to us about his job and showed us some wonderful photographs of his work on the Cathedral.  My friend and I are now thinking of going on a road trip to check it out in real life.  Despite the crappy weather while driving there and back, it was a day well spent and I came home and cracked on with some research into an individual in my study, who appears to have had three wives and 27 criminal convictions!

On the weight loss front, I lost another 1lb this week which brings me to 7.5lb in total and which meant that I got my half stone (7lb) award.  Very happy with that - the only drawback being that the lunch at yesterday's seminar was not exactly slimming friendly, so I will just have to try harder this week.

It's getting a bit late and unfortunately I have to go to work in the morning, so I will leave you here.  Wishing all the best to you and yours.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Going on a Yarn Hunt

Well, here I am again and so much for not buying any more yarn until Fibre East!  In my defence, however, I discovered that I had booked myself on a family history seminar on 6 May, which here in the UK is Love Your Local Yarn Shop Day.  This counts as a party day at my local yarn shop - customers bring along food and drink and Eleanor buys in new yarn to tempt us with.  So, as I was going to miss the party and the new yarn, I decided I needed another opportunity to buy yarn.  And lo and behold, the indie dyer with whose yarn I am currently knitting a Hitchhiker shawl announced on Facebook that she was going to be at the Tideswell Food Festival.

Tideswell is a village in the Peak District of Derbyshire, the neighbouring county to mine.  It is about 1 hour 20 minutes drive away, so not too far for a jaunt.  So on Saturday last, I came out of my chiropodist appointment, went and put petrol in the car and drove off to Tideswell.  It was a nice enough drive and when I got there, there was free parking in a field just outside the village.  The only drawback to that became obvious when I opened the car door and found a relatively fresh deposit of sheep dung just where I was about to get out.

Once I had negotiated my way out of the field around the various deposits, it was a gentle walk along the road into the village.  The Food Festival appeared to be very popular as the parking field was just about full and the streets were full of people, often families, wandering between stalls.  The houses tend to be stone built and the deeper you go into the village, the closer they are to the road.  The stalls displayed all sorts of food from cheese to crepes to Thai to burgers to chicken tikka to olives to fresh bread and so on and so forth.

However my main interest was in the church.  Advertised as Craft in the Chancel, there were four stalls in the chancel of the church just before the altar rail selling jewellery, felted cushions, prints and yarn.  And this is what I bought:

This is Peak District Yarns - she can also be found on Facebook.  The colours of the skeins are actually brighter than this, and her prices are very reasonable for hand dyed yarn.

So what did I buy?  The two skeins on the left are her 4ply high twist 80/20 merino/nylon.  The greeny-bluey one is called Damflask, which is the name of a reservoir in the Peak District, and the purpley one is called Win Hill Witches, a reference to a hill also in the Peak District.

The next skein is her 4ply high twist 80/20 merino silk in the Siobhan's Silk colourway.  It is based on a photograph taken by the dyer's friend, Siobhan.  The last skein is in her 4ply 50/50 silk/merino base in the Silver Surfers colourway.

Next question - what am I going to do with them?  Well, the first two will probably become socks, lovely vibrant hand knit socks.  The third one is going to become an Ebb and Flow scarf, a drop stitch pattern from Peak District Yarns which I got free for buying three skeins of her yarn.  And the last one?  I haven't decided yet - it is so nice and squishy that I might just keep it to squish for the time being.

And if that was not enough yarn, what about this?

One of my colleagues has been away on holiday in South Africa for two weeks.  He came back in the office yesterday and presented me with yarn!  What you see there is 62g of natural hand spun South African yarn.  I have no idea what weight it is or how long it is.  Apparently there should have been a label, but it has become unattached.  The rest of the team got sweeties and I got yarn!!!  Guess who is currently my favourite colleague?  I have no plans for it at the moment - just so happy that someone really gets me!

In other news, I got weighed a day early last week and lost 0.5lb.  This was a tad disappointing because if I had lost a whole 1lb, then I would have got my half stone award.  I had to weigh-in early because we were going out for a team meal on my normal weigh-in night.  We went to a posh burger place but I managed fairly well.  I had a vegetarian burger (red kidney beans and beetroot) without the bun and I had the side salad instead of fries.

Tomorrow is weigh-in night and also I need to make the time to vote in the local elections.  This is for our borough council, which deals with council tax, planning, rubbish etc.  Then we have the build-up to the General Election which has been sprung on us.  I won't get onto politics as it will probably give me indigestion.

I think that I will leave this here for now.  My next post really ought to be about what I am currently knitting, just as a change from the projects that I finished while I was not posting.

All the best to you and yours, and I will be back soon.