Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Alexandra Palace and Urban Cross-Stitch

Since I didn't make it to iKnit Day, I decided I definitely had to go to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. I've been for the past two years with my mum, but she was away on holiday this time, so I decided to go with an old friend. However, in the end she couldn't make it, so I ended up going alone. And you know what? I had a really good time. It's silly, but if I hadn't thought my friend was coming I would never have gone alone, but once I got there, I really enjoyed myself.

I was pretty restrained on the yarn front. Having been before, you get to know which stands will be there and so less overwhelmed by it all. I bought some gorgeous alpaca/silk/cashmere laceweight yarn and some black alpaca blend to make a cowl for the bf (yes, another one). I was most excited that there was a Habu stand. I've heard so much about their yarns but never seen/felt them in person. And all I can say is wow! I wanted to buy all of it just to see all the different types of fabric I could create. I eventually decided on a dark blue/purple shade of their wool/stainless steel mix and some buttery yellow silk. I can't wait to knit up the wool/steel mix. I'm going to do either a scarf or a cowl. Something sculptural.

My last purchase was of the non-yarn variety. I bought a little urban cross-stitch kit. I haven't done cross-stitch since I was little, but I always enjoyed it. I just didn't want to crochet pictures of flowers and puppies and things. But this one is a little mini-kit of a pacman with a ghost and cherry. And the ghost glows in the dark! I just love it. I bought it from this company. They also do lots of kits of Banksy prints. My little one only took me a few hours so I'm thinking of getting a bigger one to do. I really enjoyed it! Even the bf thinks it's cool and that doesn't happen very often with my crafting.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

I take back everything I've ever said...

I'm currently writing my first essay in 8 years and it's hard! Being a scientist/mathematician I've always liked to express the opinion that of course science and maths is far more difficult and requires much more work than humanities. (This was probably also fuelled at university by all those humanities students who only had about 2 lectures a week.) But I have to take it all back now. I'm struggling with this first essay for my course and it's only 700 words! I'm interested in the topic and can easily talk about and debate it, but putting words on paper...it's so hard! I shall have to wait for the bf to get home (he's an english literature masters graduate) so he can help me.
Needless to say, not much knitting has been going on lately.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Cowl Love

The summer holidays are fast drawing to a close and I'm looking to September and the start of my course with a mix of apprehension and excitement. I think the biggest thing I'm worried about (other than inner-city schools) is not having any time to myself and that means no time to knit! I think this is spurring me on to finish all those projects that have been festering. I've finished about 4 projects in the last week which has to be a first for me. I tried taking pics yesterday but my camera didn't like the grey weather and so I didn't like how they came out. I shall try taking more (or getting my bf to take more) tomorrow. But here is one thing I've finished recently.


This is the first cowl I've ever knit or even ever owned and I love it! I love wearing scarves and pretty much wear one all year round, but this is so much better. No ends to get in the way, it's just perfect. And my bf likes it so much, I had to make one for him too! But he left it at this bandmates house so I haven't had a chance to photograph is on him. This is also the first of my knits in preparation for winter.

One good thing in all my finishing of wips is that I've nearly finished my second version of my Anthropologie cardi. I've found it a real challenge and I think this is why it's taken me so long. I loved the first version, but there were quite a few things that I wasn't completely happy with so had to change. I'm much happier with the second version. I hope at least that's when it's all finished and I get the pattern done that other people will be happy with my efforts too.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Hemlock Ring Blanket


I started this project at the end of June and it has been a rather quick knit. I would have finished it sooner, but I was away in Canada for a week and a half and I deemed this project too heavy to take with me. The yarn I used was Rowan Pure Wool Aran in a lovely chocolate brown. I used almost exactly 5 balls. I enjoyed knitting it, but it did get rather laborious by the end when I had over 600sts on the needles. Each round took me about 20mins! (I don't knit that fast.)


This was the first project which has really needed blocking and I did my best at blocking it hard. However, I think perhaps I could have blocked it more since it's still a bit wrinkly. I kept going for 120-something rounds, I can't quite remember the exact number off the top of my head. I'd definitely like to knit another one. This one is to be gifted to my boyfriend's brother and his fiancee as a housewarming gift. I'll be sad to see it go. It was also really hard to photograph. In real life, it's a rich chocolate brown colour, but in these photos it looks rather washed out. I think the truest colour is in the picture above.


Saturday, 19 July 2008

I have been knitting! Honest!

Well, I have no good reason for such a long absence from my blog. I could claim I've been too busy, but really I think laziness does factor in there somewhere. To be fair, the end of the summer term at school was pretty manic and I didn't really have time to even do much knitting. Now I'm on holiday I have all the time in the world to knit!

My current wips are The Hemlock Ring Blanket, which I finished the other night and is now waiting to be blocked. I really hope it's going to block well because at the moment it just looks like a crumpled mess! I'm halfway through knitting Butterfly from Rowan 37. I've wanted to knit this for years, but I've always been put off because I thought it'd be difficult. Now I'm actually doing it I'm rather underwhelmed by the pattern. I hope as well that it doesn't stretch too much because otherwise it's going to turn out huge even though I'm knitting a size smaller. The last thing I'm working on is a second version of this cardigan. I've had so many people ask me for a pattern on Ravelry, but there are quite a few things I wasn't happy about with the first one. So I'm knitting it again and trying to work out a pattern as I go along.

I've decided that writing patterns is a lot like writing songs. When I was in a band, we were constantly re-working songs, and even though a song would be officially "finished" you were always changing little bits here and there. Another similarity is that for me, when designing songs I have to have an idea before I can find a yarn. When I write songs, for me the music has to come first and then the words. I could never do it the other way around. And for ages I felt that I wasn't a proper songwriter because I felt it was so hard to write a song for my lyrics. But I've learnt that however you want to create is ok. This makes me feel slightly better about my ever-expanding stash and the fact that my poor boyfriend does not understand when I have to buy more to fulfil a design because nothing in my stash will do.

So here's to lots more creativity this summer before I sign my life away to my PGCE course in September!

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Too much knitting...

For ages now I have enviously been watching other knitters working away on beautiful hats. Since I have such huge hair, wearing hats is kind of difficult. However, about 6 months ago, I found the perfect hat. It was amazing, and it looked good on me. I wore it pretty much constantly all winter long. Until I lost it about 3 weeks ago. I was so annoyed, but that's what will happen if you wander around London drunk. Anyway, this prompted me to have a go at making my own hat. I haven't knitted a hat before, so I decided to go with a pattern. I needed maximum slouchy-ness, so I went with Knit and Tonic's Le Slouch. I worked it up in about 4 hours, tried it on and it was just too small. Seriously, my hair is getting big. So the next day I ripped it out, and made my own version. Here it is:

And here's what I did.

I cast on 68 sts as the pattern says, but then I worked a 2x2 rib for 2 inches. I did the same increase round of K2, m1, but then I worked an extra increase round of K4, kfb. (121 sts)
After that, I knit until the hat measured about 7 inches from the cast on edge.
I decided I was going to have seven sections at the top, so on the next round I ha to decrease 2 sts to make the numbers work. I did this by k2tog at the beginning of the round, then k2tog about half way round. (119 sts)
On the next round, I placed a marker every 17 sts, giving me 7 sections. I then followed the pattern from there by decreasing a st either side of each marker, but instead of decreasing 12 sts each round, I decreased 14 sts. Et voila! Un nouveau chapeau!


The only bad thing that came out of all these hats, is that I now keep getting cramp in my left hand. I think it's from holding the dpns. I'm going to be careful not to knit too much over the next few days because I don't want to damage anything. I've got the hat bug though now. I love all the hats that Ysolda Teague has done recently. They're all so beautiful. Sadly, I don't think they'd fit over all my hair. Maybe it's time for a new hairstyle...

In other news, I'm currently working on my first submission. In my goals for the year, I wanted to submit two pieces for publication, and self-publish two myself. It is quite hard-going. The fun part is designing and knitting up my ideas, but writing out the patterns is such a headache. There is just so much to think about! I'm persevering with it because I think the first one must be the hardest. Once you've got an idea of how it all works and a template to work to, I'm sure it must get easier. So watch this space. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Alpine Shrug


So here's my latest finished object. I actually finished it a few weeks ago but I've been waiting for the weather to allow me to take decent pictures. I think it took me about a week to finish, maybe even less. I thought that I'd find it boring knitting four pieces exactly the same, but it knits up so quick, you don't have time to be bored!


The only mod I made was to knit one less repeat than the pattern called for. This was to make sure I didn't run out of wool. My mum had already made one and she had run out so warned me about it. I still ended up using a 6th ball to join the seams! I crocheted the seams rather than sewing them as it just seemed easier. I think my tension must have been quite loose and this was why I used more than 5 balls. It has come out rather huge! I haven't put any kind of fastening on it since I rather like it the way it is. I may add something in the future. It depends how fed up I get with having to hoist it back onto my shoulders all the time.

I finished another project last week but I'm not going to blog about it yet because I'm going to try submitting it. I'm really pleased with how it's turned out, but pattern-writing is tricky! We'll see how it goes. Wish me luck!

Friday, 15 February 2008

My name in lights

One of the things that I wanted to do this year was to pursue singing more. When people hear me sing, they always ask me why I don't do something with my voice and I never have a good answer, except that I'm lazy! I think for a while now I've been lacking in confidence about my voice. But over the last year, I've found a really great singing teacher who's given me my confidence back. So I decided to get off my backside and go join an operatic/musical society (all part of the NY resolutions of doing more) because I love performing on the stage (got that from being in a band) and choirs can be a bit boring. This week I went for an audition for a part in their latest show, The Man Of La Mancha. And I got the part!! I'm so excited and the standard was extremely high, but I did it, and this has boosted my confidence so much. And ok, so I won't have my name in lights, but it's a start!
I'm feeling the same at the moment about knitting too. I think I need to have more faith in myself and not be-little my talents so much. I've worked hard to learn both these skills of knitting and singing but too often I dismiss them. I am good at what I do and I should say that more. I've been so encouraged by people on Ravelry asking for a pattern for my Anthropologie-inspired jacket so I'm trying to work on that right now. I think you have to just go for things and see what happens. I have nothing to lose and I shouldn't be afraid of not being good enough. That shouldn't be a reason for not trying.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Resolutions out the window

I didn't keep to my blogging once a week resolution very well, did I? I'm sure it's been about a month! Anyway, I'm feeling in a much better frame of mind. The days are starting to get noticeably longer and even though it's only by about an hour each end, it's really making a difference to how I feel. Three weeks ago I had my interview for my PGCE course. At the time, I thought it went dreadfully and convinced myself that I wasn't going to get in. Then a week later I had my letter confirming I'd got a place! I was over the moon and now I'm feeling a lot happier about the whole teaching thing. I'm excited to start doing something new again as I think I have had enough of being an assistant! It's hard work trying to second-guess someone else all the time, so I'm looking forward to working by myself and being the one in charge.
I don't feel like I've got much knitting done, though I do have two finished objects, so it can't be as bad as I think. I'll blog the first one today, then the other one in a few days when I've taken pics.

Finished object: Briar Rose by Ysolda Teague.
Time it took to knit: About one week.


I am really happy with this knit. It was a really clever construction, and I like when I can learn a new technique through a project. The fit is perfect too. The only trouble I had was with the decreases for the arms. I didn't think the instructions were that clear as to where to do the decreases and I had a lot of trouble making them line up neatly. Nevertheless I would definately recommend this pattern to other people!


One other great thing happened to me this week. On Ravelry, someone asked me if I was going to write a pattern for one of the jackets I'd designed myself. It's only a little thing, but it put a huge smile on my face! It's something that I had sort of planned to do a pattern for, but I want to make a second version first as there's some thing I'm not completely happy with. I think I'd make it a free pattern though since it will be my first one and the idea for the jacket came from Anthropologie in the first place. Here's a pic of it:


So watch this space!