Thursday, 31 March 2011

Another one bites the dust

I finished my Jaden sweater!!! It looks really pretty :-) I don't though, especially in this photo, which is why I cut off the head, and the photo is slightly elongated:

On the plus side, it makes me look taller :-) Oh, and this photo of the back - because you have to see the back, and my ass looks really good ;-P

Whaddaya think? I love it! (The sweater, not my ass). Already wore it out on a mini excursion to the library and back, but sadly, had to take it off because it really isn't sweater weather here yet. Still, I look forward to wearing it again soon! In order to finish the sweater, I had to get extra yarn, which I found via Ravelry (See? Best website in the world!!!) A girl in Canada had a skein and a half left, and was willing to part with it. I sent her some yarn and yummy kiwi goodies, and she sent me the Knit Picks yarn and this:

T has adopted the squishy red maple leaf, and keeps pressing it so it will play the Canadian national anthem, which by the way, is really long. I've devoured about half the maple candy already, with a little help from Deane and Shahn. I'm saving the red lobster lollipop and the chocolate hockey puck for now, and I'm waiting for the right time to try the salt water taffy (read: a bit of a wuss, and scared it'll taste nasty). The boys are working their way through the chocolate coins. I love swaps!

I've been working a bit more on my Christchurch shawl, but haven't got too far - it requires concentration, and is definitely not something I can work on while watching TV so only gets picked up occasionally. Plus its at the point now where it takes a while to do a row because they're quite long. I'm loving how its looking though, and the yarn is gooooooorgeous!!!! Merino, silk and cashmere - mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I finished a Jaywalker, and I'm a little over halfway done on the leg of the other - they'll be fraternal socks because the yarn skeins were quite different, such is the nature of hand painted yarns:

I'm cool with it. If you're ballsy enough to wear ridiculously bright socks, a little difference in pattern isn't going to matter, right? Not sure I mentioned the yarn previously - it's Knitsch in a limited edition colourway, 'Van Gogh'. Kinda reminds me of Perky Nanas though...

Also finished all my squares for the Ron Weasley blanket swap:

I received the first lot of squares from overseas, along with more goodies:

The Reece's Pieces I'm happily fobbing off onto other people (like the Wednesday knitting group at The Little Craft Store) - I'm not really a fan of peanut butter. But the other two are teeth-pulling, jaw-breaking, cavity-inducing delights, that I'm more than happy to munch my way through. Although I will reluctantly share these too ;-) There's about 11 more people left to send their squares in, so I'm starting to wonder just how much junk food I'm going to end up with - perhaps I should try spreading it out a bit, so they last the better part of a year, instead of scoffing it all within a month. I've managed to avoid the dentist quite well so far, don't want to put that in jeopardy...

SM5 is going well - our team finished Round Two a few days ago, and now get to patiently wait for all the other teams to finish so we can move on to Round Three. I'm excited to see what pair of socks will be next - this competition is so much fun!! It may possibly result in an excess of hand knit socks though, perhaps I should find worthy recipients. Of course, they'd all have to have feet that are the same size as mine. My feet are the 'minimum size requirement' for the competition, and there's no way I'm going to knit socks bigger than I have to, especially when the people I'm competing against can knit faster than me!! It's all about speed - that's not to say that quality gets neglected of course. They're still awesomely well made, decent socks (if I do say so myself ;-P). My gift knitting pile is ever increasing - I just have to match gifts made to people in need of one. Now that's the challenging part...

Friday, 25 March 2011

I made it!!!

I'm officially through to Round Three of SM5! I think I finished somewhere around 7th, but I'm not too sure about that. Definitely in the top ten though. Most of the top ten finishers were from my team (because they lumped all the fast knitters together) so that doesn't bode well for the later stages of the competition, but boy howdy, it sure makes things exciting!!

Here are my socks:

The pattern is Nornir (Ravelry link) by Caoua Coffee. It is incredibly well written and easy to follow. The results are stunning, but it is a slow knit. Yes, I knit them in three days, but the progress of the sock as you are knitting it is very slow. It basically takes two rows to grow the length of one, due to the stitch pattern (every second row you knit a stitch below on every fourth stitch - am I making sense? It's getting late...) And when you finally get to the foot and think 'yay, this will go heaps faster now!', it kinda doesn't, because the stitch pattern on the top of the foot is still the same, and the bottom of the foot is knit like this:

Every second stitch on every second row is slipped, thereby slowing the growth of the socks row by row, so it doesn't overtake the length of the top of the foot. I'm probably talking complete gibberish now... I apologise.

The yarn is the latest instalment of the Flights of Fancy Yarn Club from Knitsch - the colourway is Hansel. Ooooh, pretty! Wish I had more :-( He's all gone now.

I've been resting my hands today - the only thing I knit was half a blanket square, so I could finish all the squares for the Ron Weasley blanket swap:

All done now, with plenty of time to spare - yay!

I had plans to sew up my Jaden sweater, but it just hasn't happened today for various reasons:

a) I ran out of time
b) My hands are still a little sore, recovering from the monster effort of knitting a simple yet challenging pair of socks in record time (for me anyway)
c) ... oh wait, there's only two reasons...

I hope my hands are feeling better tomorrow - I'm already staring longingly at the pile of yarn sitting in the giant fruit bowl in my lounge, dreaming of all the lovely things I want to make with it ::sigh::

Of course, I already have my Crazy Jays (Rav link):

And my Christchurch shawl (yes, another Rav link. Have you signed up yet? Hmmmmmm??):

Sitting on the needles, ready to go. Perhaps a little spinning tomorrow instead - gotta rest those hands, ready for Round Three!!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

No time for fancy shmancy updates

The pattern was released for round two of SM5. Must fob the kids off to school, and knit! Knit like the wind!!!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

It was fun while it lasted...

I have a feeling I won't be advancing very far in SM5 - I've been put in the 'Needles of Fire' team with the Norwegians and the Swedish. I'll get knocked out in the next round, for sure. Oh well. At least I'll get a bunch of cool sock patterns ;-)

Just as I predicted, I suffered a bout of 'startitis', and have cast on my Christchurch shawl, and a pair of Jaywalkers (please note, these are both Ravelry links. If you don't have a Ravelry account by now, for God's sake go and get one! Hurry up!!)

The Christchurch shawl pattern and (absolutely gorgeous) MadelineTosh Pashmina yarn was bought as part of a fundraiser for the Christchurch earthquake relief, run my the lovely Miss Polly of Little Country Wools, and the pattern designer Bristol Ivy. I've only knit 52 rows so far, but I'm loving it. I'll post progress pics when I've actually knit enough to warrant them.

The Jaywalkers were the perfect little project to take on a trip to Te Awamutu for a family gathering today, and great for knitting while watching a little Buffy last night (and probably again tonight).

I only have half a square left to knit for the Ron Weasley blanket swap, but I couldn't be bothered digging out enough scraps to finish it last night, so it'll probably stay that way for several days, until I get sick of looking at it unfinished.

All these projects will of course be put on hold the moment the Round Two pattern for SM5 is released. The pattern specs have been put up already - they were there this morning when I woke up. The pattern itself should be released in the next couple of days now that all the teams have been announced (why I couldn't have been put in 'Team Minnow' or 'Team Socks of Secret' I don't know) - it's going to take a fair bit of effort to keep up with these Norwegians!! I think I've decided on the yarn and needles already, so I think I'm as prepared as I'll ever be...

Friday, 18 March 2011

I do so enjoy finishing things

Don't you? It's been a fairly productive year so far, and I'm rather enjoying that feeling. I hope it continues for some time. I have plenty of projects to be getting on with!!

But for now, to be added to the finished list:

This 'Fear of Commitment' cowl - knit with my green Valentine's Day bouquet yarn. The button can easily be moved to different positions, so the cowl can be worn different ways (see pattern website).

This crazy funky Capucine hat, which will be awesome for winter!

fyi - I have pictures of me wearing both the cowl and the hat (although not together) but I'm not putting them on here, because I look awful and don't want to scare you away ;-)

(And the almost finished list...)
I also knit half a dozen squares for the Ron Weasley blanket swap - only two more to go!!

And I finally got around to blocking my Jaden sweater. I've still got a week left to sew it together and finish the neckline (and possibly the ties). I've had an update on the extra yarn coming from Canada - apparently it got sent back to the sender, because the box was damaged. It has been re-shipped express, and hopefully should arrive soon - fingers crossed!!

I dragged out my poor neglected sewing machine the earlier this week, and whipped up 35 blocks for a cot-sized quilt top:

Just the sashing and border to go, and the top will be done. Hopefully next week...

Got some cool mail this week too - the second shipment of the Knitsch yarn club arrived in the mail on Wednesday, and I looooooooove it:

His name is Hansel, and I shall love him, and squish him, and pet him, and stare at him all day. Isn't he preeeeeetty?!?!?

Going by how much Knitsch yarn I have in my stash, it would definitely have to be one of my favourite local yarns, and even better, Tash has opened a shop in Wellington!! The Holland Road Yarn Company. Oh, how I wish we still lived in Wellington... Maybe I could just move into Tash's shop and sleep on the couch there - I know she has one. Do you think she'd mind? Yeah, you're right, she probably would :-( That, and I think the children would start to notice a lack of nutritious meals. Well, at least X would... At best, all I can do is try and find an excuse to organise a trip to Wellington so I can go and visit the shop. And even better, she's stocking a bunch of New Zealand dyers' yarns and fibres, including Maude & Me. Oh dear, I think I may faint...

Speaking of Maude & Me - I got this lovely squishy fibre, for absolutely no reason, completely by surprise in the mail the other week:

It's gradient dyed, from white through purple and into blue. I know exactly what I'm going to (attempt to) do with it - spin two bobbins, and chain ply them, so I have two skeins of gradient dyed yarn to knit a pair of socks with. The question though is - white toes, blue cuff? Or blue toes, white cuff? Decisions, decisions!

Miss Tracee has organised another one of her spin-alongs, which runs until May. So hopefully I'll be able to get it done before then. Maybe one skein, if not both. Ooh, I love -alongs! Read-alongs, knit-alongs, spin-alongs... any -along will do ;-)

Round One of SM5 is drawing to a close - I believe it finishes some time tomorrow. Hopefully Round Two will start fairly soon afterward - I'm itching to knit some socks! Otherwise, I may be forced to cast on a cardigan, or a shawl...

Have a good weekend everyone!!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

The Noise of Boys

It is echoing throughout the tiny apartment as I type this update - X has a friend over for the night. They're very boisterous, so I will soon be shoving headphones in my ears and watching a DVD on the laptop, leaving them to play XBox and exclaim loudly to their hearts' content. T has headed off for a sleepover of a different kind, with his Nanny and Poppy in Napier. Deane has a few things to do down there, so decided to take T for a wee trip just because. That suits me just fine, as it gives me time to finish watching season one of The Vampire Diaries. Deane refused to watch it, so I can happily drool over the hotties without receiving filthy sideways looks ;-)

While I watch, I'm knitting a very simple cowl with the green Valentine's Day bouquet yarn Deane got me. Certainly not my first choice of yarn (acrylic and tencel) and not my favourite colour, but I think it'll look pretty good once finished, with a lovely wooden button to hold it together. I must admit, when I got the yarn, I was at a bit of a loss as to what I could do with it. But thanks to the magic of Ravelry, a projects search under the yarn type brought up all sorts of ideas (things people have made with the yarn previously) - and this cowl was made by somebody using the same yarn in a charcoal colour. I thought it looked pretty good, and decided to copy. I'm knitting it doubled, on 6.5mm needles. It's probably going to end up a little shorter than the 33" stated in the pattern, but not by much, and I think it'll still work well. The perfect way to use up all four skeins! I'm well over halfway now, so should have it finished pretty quickly. I'll take a wee trip over to Wild & Woolly Yarns and Cushla's Village Fabrics in Devonport to look for the perfect button next week, and post finished pics. (I would've added a link for W&W, but they don't appear to have a website. Seriously? In this day and age?!? Really...)

Speaking of finished pics, here's one now:

Munch Munch - aka Day of the Dead Arm Warmers (Ravelry link)

I didn't realise until I'd nearly finished the first mitt that the black yarn I was knitting with was actually a DK weight, not fingering weight. Duh! How'd I miss that?!? Still, they came out perfectly alright, and pretty cosy. In fact, had I knit them in fingering weight, they'd probably be a little too tight. I posted them to my sister yesterday morning, so hopefully she should have them by Monday - only a little over a week late...

Next on the knitting 'to do' list is the hat I was planning on making with my juicy handspun (from last week). Another small project I can get out of the way relatively quickly (hooray for instant gratification!) that I can also hand in for a class assignment for HPKCHC. I think I've pretty much sorted projects for six classes...

There's only a week left of the first round of Sock Madness, after which everyone with a completed pair of socks will be sorted into teams. Then the real competition begins!! I'm trying to find small projects to cram into the space, as I don't want to cast on anything too big. At least not until I've finished my Jaden sweater - which I still have to block and sew together. I'm waiting on the extra yarn to arrive from Canada still (hopefully it'll be here soon) to finish off the neck, and maybe do the ties as well. Other than the socks for SM5, next on the knitting list is either my handspun cardigan (which I still haven't decided on a pattern for), or a cardigan with the navy blue laceweight yarn I got super cheap from Skeinz. A scarf and some fingerless gloves for Deane need to be done before winter, but there's still plenty of time for that, right? I've been daydreaming about some long fingerless mitts for me, I think maybe black and white striped... Oh, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to need a black hat...

Oops, wait, I still have eight squares to knit for the Ron Weasley blanket swap! And a quilt to sew!! Better get cracking ;-)

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

You may proceed

I made it into the top 25 finishers for Round One of SM5!! W00t! Having said that, Round One isn't a real indication of what the competition is like, because people have a full two weeks to complete their socks, so it's not a major rush. However, it's still fun. The pattern was fairly well written, and the socks themselves are quite nice. I am rather glad we got the rib socks done and out of the way already though, I'm ridiculously slow at knitting rib, and I'm sure it would've hindered me in later rounds.

Anyway, pair of completed socks:

They fit perfectly - unlike many other SM5 participants. Some are just knitting as fast as possible, and pay no attention to the fit of the socks - they just want to get them done and move on. Seems a bit silly to me - why knit a pair of socks that isn't going to fit either yourself or the person you intend to give them to? But, to each their own... I'm guessing gauge is not really a factor in this competition, as long as you have a finished pair.

Anyway, now I have the better part of two weeks to work on other projects (like my sister's fingerless mitts) and I can relax a bit before the panic of Round Two sets in ;-)

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The race continues

Well, its been a day and a half since the pattern was released, and so far there are three people on the list that have completed a pair of socks. And this is the slow round!! This round of SM5 goes for up to two weeks, so people generally aren't in too much of a rush - 160 knitters will make it through to the next round to be split into teams. Earlier this afternoon I cast off sock #1:

Yes, the photo is a bit crappy, but it was overcast earlier and our apartment is all gloomy at the best of times, so it'll just have to do. I'll get a better FO picture when I've finished the pair. There'll be no rush at all - I'm well on the way to being in the top 50 finishers at this stage. Then I'll have some time to chill out and work on other projects before the next round starts. It'll be all on then - that's when the true madness begins!!

My latest skein of yarn finished drying yesterday - 124g/154 metres bulky two ply 100% perendale:

The colour is 'juicy' from maude & me.

Should be plenty to knit this hat with. I'll add it to the 'to do' list :-)

Earlier in the week I cast on (a little late unfortunately) a pair of mitts (Ravelry link) for my younger sister for her birthday (which is today. Oops). I'm pretty sure she's going to like them. Progress pic:

Lookee!! Little mini skulls!! The pattern calls them 'Day of the Dead Arm Warmers'. I'm calling them Munch Munch (^_^) Zombie skulls anyone? Mwaaahahahahahaaaa!!!

Hope y'all had a good weekend, see you next week :-)

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Game On!!!

I woke up this morning at about 7am. Of course, the first thing I did after getting T a milo was log on to the computer and into Ravelry. Ta da!! Pattern!! (Ravelry link)

Not surprisingly, the teaser pictures did exactly what they were designed to do, and tricked people into thinking they knew what sock was coming up first. Of course, the first sock isn't anything like what everyone thought it was, it's something entirely different. So the colours I had out and ready (and harrassed Polly all week to get in my hot little hands so I had it before the pattern release) aren't quite right. I feel a little less guilty about annoying Polly because the yarn I thought I needed, I do actually need. But I still need a different colour that I don't have, so now I have to wait patiently for the yarn store to open so I can go and get it and start knitting.

Naturally, I will be knitting these socks in black and white - good ol' kiwi colours ;-) I'll save the Knitsch Grape (Ravelry link) I had out for the other colourwork sock once it's released (if I make it that far), and I'll just have to get another skein of Shibui Natural White off Polly at a later date. Phew!! Roll on 10am, I'm itching to get knitting!!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Madness is setting in

The Round One pattern specs have been released - the first sock is a two colour pattern. I've chosen my yarn, I'm pretty sure of the needle size (although I may obsess a little more and actually knit a swatch today). Now the game starts - waiting for the pattern release!! Checking over and over and over again to see if the post is up on the board - the all-important link to the pattern. Of course, after the first round, all patterns are sent via email, so I think then I'll be setting up my phone to receive all new emails so I know instantly when it arrives, but for now its just the obsessive checking of the SM5 board.

Over the last few days I knit a total of 12 blanket squares for Christchurch, and handed them over at knitting yesterday morning. I forgot to take a picture of them, but don't worry - they weren't all that exciting anyway.

I finished my handspun - 132g/474m two ply lace/light fingering weight yarn in 'waking up the wolves' by maude & me.

Ahhh, just look at that beautiful, squidgy 100% merino goodness :-) Yummy! Of course, I have no idea what I'm going to make with it, but for now I'm just happy to leave it sitting with my other yarn, looking all gorgeous and smooshy.

I've started spinning another braid of m&m fibre - 'juicy' on 100% perendale. I'm spinning it bulky, with the hopes of getting enough yardage to make this hat. Pics to come later - I'm already halfway done with spinning the single. Bulky is soooooo much faster to spin than laceweight!!

New classes are up for the House Cup, and I keep thinking of ways to fit socks into the classes. I've already figured out how to fit the first sock into Defence Against the Dark Arts - but then, I have to wait for the pattern release to be sure it'll work. Still, I could always make it fit somewhere else...

My brain is otherwise occupied with the unofficial theme song for Sock Madness (I tried to embed it in this post, but couldn't get it to work). Every time I hear it, I start bouncing around in my seat, clapping my hands and grinning like the village idiot. Its just so funny!! The lyrics make absolutely no sense. Perfect for when you're going crazy over knitting socks ;-) Maybe thats the point - a little mindless entertainment to give your brain a rest. Either way, I find it funny, and I'm sure the boys will love it when I play it for them later.

We have goal setting interviews at school today, so they're home for the day. We'll head in to school this afternoon for their 10 minute time slots with their teachers. Meanwhile, we get to blob, and this gives me more time to keep checking the SM5 board for the pattern release...