Thursday, 29 September 2011

Mind ever-changing, patience of a squirrel in Autumn

You know how last week I said I really wanted to cast on some socks? Well, I did, but not the ones I originally intended. Instead of casting on Toxic socks, I went on a hunt, tracked down a digital copy of Yarn Forward issue #26 from July 2010, and cast on a pair of Danu socks instead. Few people (on Ravelry at least) have made these socks - whether its because the pattern was published in a magazine, or because they're knit on 2.25mm needles with 80 stitches around I can't really say, but they're lovely socks, and I'm glad I decided to make them.

I've been a member of Sock Knitters Anonymous on Ravelry for some time now, but almost never participate in the monthly Sockdown Challenge, for various reasons. They've just started a new cycle of the Challenge though, and I was determined to join in! So with the designers for the month of September named, I spent most of the month um-ing and ah-ing over what socks I would make, and whether or not I would actually have time to knit them, before I finally decided on the Danu pattern. Of course, looking at the picture, they look like fairly simple socks. It wasn't until I'd purchased the online copy and printed the pattern that I realised they were knit on small needles with lots of stitches. I will not be deterred though, and have managed to get through six pattern repeats on the legs so far:



And the yarn? Oh, the yarn!! Malabrigo Sock in Ravelry Red. Simply stunning!! The more I knit with it, the more I want to buy skeins and skeins of it to make anything and everything!! Of course, the budget will not allow it, but dude, its good stuff! And the colour is just gorgeous. I'm going to love these socks for ever and ever and hug them and kiss them and marry them. Oh wait, I don't think you're allowed to marry inanimate objects... Oh well, I guess Deane will suffice, and I can just wear the socks :-) I have until the end of October to finish these (which I'm sure will be no problem at all) and I will enter the draw along with hundreds of other crazy sock knitters to win a prize. The odds aren't in my favour, but on the plus side, I get a cool pair of socks! I've already picked out the pair I'm going to knit for October - they look much simpler. Its Tea Time socks, which I think I'll knit in the September Knitsch Flights of Fancy Yarn Club colourway:


Isn't it a beautiful blue? Its called Cook's Beach. LOVE it!!

In other knitting news...

My poor, neglected Simplicity cardigan has one sleeve done. It only took me a couple of days, so I know the other sleeve will only take me a couple of days as well, then I can block it and wear it, but I've been sidetracked by socks, and blanket squares, and a cabled afghan. I'm on the last square of ten, but me being the impatient wee thing that I am, blocked the squares and sent them off before remembering to take a picture!! And I sent them to the wrong address! The person I sent them to participated in the last round, and I still had her address (or so I thought) so I posted them off, only to discover she moved last month - oops. Hopefully she'll be able to arrange something at her end to get a hold of the parcel. Way to go, Jody... I'll post a pic of the last square when its done though - this one is being knit with Vintage yarn again, in Porcelain and Port Wine.

The afghan is coming along nicely - I'm over quarter of the way through the first panel so far:



I'm knitting it in John Q Mia yarn I bought a couple of years ago from Knit World in Wellington, for something ridiculous like $2.30 or $2.80 a ball (can't quite remember now). The afghan will take around 40 balls of yarn, so I'm glad I got it at a good price. Its not the flashest yarn around, but it is remarkably soft, and I quite like working with it, even with the slight hint of sheepy smell it has.

I managed to drag out my sewing machine yesterday too, for a bit of a change of pace. I got the most awesome swap package in the mail the other day:




OMG look at that fibre!!! Yummy!! And dude, the brown fibre in that little bag there? It's yak! Yes, YAK!! Wow!!!! Anyway, the fibre was wrapped in some really nice fabric, which was the perfect amount for a box bag - something I've always wanted. So I hunted out a tutorial on the interwebs (amazing place, this internet thing), and away I went. I also dug out some neat fabric from my stash, that my friend Margaret had given me a little while back - perfect for a knitting project bag. So after a few hours sewing, I ended up with two (slightly wonky, but who's looking that closely?) box bags:



This one I'm going to keep for myself, because the fabric is beautiful:



And this one, I have an idea for:



I have enough interfacing for one more, I just have to get another zip. And have a good ol' dig through the stash to find the perfect piece of fabric :-) The size of the bag is perfect for a pair of socks-in-progress, but they can be used for other things as well. Me? I think I'll use mine for socks. Of course ;-)

Gosh, time has flown yet again, and its time to pick the boys up from school (oops, so much for doing the housework...) Hope you're having a good week!!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Yarn diet? What yarn diet?

Since declaring that I was going on a yarn diet on or around the 29th July, I have spent a little over $400 on yarn, fibre and needles. In my defense, over half was spent at KAN which totally shouldn't count, and about $66 worth was for a swap, which also shouldn't count. So really, I've only spent about $100. Not bad for two months' worth, huh? Think of the investment! ;-) (Us yarnies are really good at justifying purchases of the fibery kind).

The blanket squares for the Ron Weasley swap are coming along nicely - I blocked the first five, and here's a wee pic:


The top three are knit using some green Naturally Loyal left over from knitting Cecil(ia), and the darker green was a ball of Skeinz Prism yarn that was in my KAN goodie bag. The other two were knit using the Vintage yarn I bought from The Little Craft Store last week. The pattern is deceptively easy - you only knit with one colour at a time, and its a simple slipped stitch pattern that any beginner knitter can do. I've knit another 2 1/2 squares since, and should have them done in time for send out, the date for which has been extended to the 8th October. Yay! Gosh, its hard to believe its nearly October already!! OMG, I'm going to be 32 in under three weeks...

Let's not get sidetracked though. I finished the Rick socks I was knitting in the Knitsch Kelly yarn:



Love them! Don't have skinny enough legs!! Good thing they're already assigned as a Christmas present ;-) After I'd bound these off, I found myself with a lonely two works-in-progress. I knew the blanket squares would be finished soon, so I wanted to cast something else on. Of course, I have the problem of wanting to KNIT ALL THE THINGS so I couldn't decide between Toxic socks which would look seriously awesome in the bright pink Wollmeise and black sock yarn I have in my stash, or the Burridge Lake Aran Afghan that I've had on my to-do list for about two years. It finally came down to the fact that I had the afghan yarn in stash taking up valuable storage space in the spare room, plus the pattern already corrected with errata on hand. So cast on the afghan I did. I haven't got far because, seriously, this thing takes concentration!! Cables cables everywhere! All at different stages! Oh, the fun I will have!! I was hoping (because apparently I'm crazy) that I could get this done by Christmas, because it is supposed to be another present (ever since I first decided to make the thing, it was going to be a gift. I just never got around to it). We shall see how it goes...

I have the feeling though, that the Toxic socks will be cast on soon. They're just too awesome to wait for long. The afghan isn't the kind of project you can cart around, my squares will be done soon, and I'm avoiding the sleeves on my Simplicity cardigan (although I'm not sure why...) Did I mention, I want to KNIT ALL THE THINGS?!?!?!?

I really should just dive in and knit those darned sleeves. It's silly to put them off. We're coming into Spring now, and I'll want to wear that cardigan soon. No excuses really. Perhaps I'll finish the squares first, then the sleeves. Hmm.

Speaking of putting things off, I've been avoiding road running for a while, and working myself up into a lather about the impending quarter marathon I stupidly signed up for several months back. It's at the end of October, which is arriving at a fair rate of knots. I've gone a little soft, and have been sticking to treadmill running because its easier. Well, this morning I bit the bullet, and went for a run along Quay Street/Tamaki Drive - a popular waterfront running route. Turns out I had nothing to worry about!! I had no problems, an ran a nice 9.36km at a fairly easy pace in a little under an hour. I don't think I'll have any issues running an extra kilometre or so come race time. As I like to say (and it makes X laugh every time) - piece of piss! I can do this quarter marathon - bring it on!! And just think, when I've finished, I can reward myself with a nice, hefty yarn purchase ;-p Ooh, what shall I buy myself for my birthday? (Or rather, tell Deane what to buy for my birthday). A couple of skeins of Fibre Co. yarn, or a skein of Sweet Georgia from Little Country Wools? The Sweet Georgia just because it is gooooorgeous, and the Fibre Co. yarn because I want to make this hat and OMG that yarn is squidgy soft! A few skeins of TouchYarns Merino Possum so I can knit the Mandel sweater? A subscription to a knitting magazine? Perhaps I should start leaving hints around the place now...

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Hey, where did Spring go?

We had some really nice weather last week, but this week has gone back to crappy wintery climes. Rain, chilly winds... bring back the warm sunshine!! Although I am a little jealous that Wellington got a really awesome hailstorm with massive thunder and lightning. Seems I always miss out on the good stuff. Woe is me ;-)

With Deane away in Singapore last week, I churned through a season of Buffy and a season of Bones on DVD, and a pair of socks for dad, not to mention half a pair of socks for somebody else. They were originally going to be for me, but you need skinny chicken legs for this style of sock (a little too snug at the top) so they'll be going to somebody else. Plus, I maintain that I don't like green! Even though I happen to be wearing green right now, but I digress. The sock looks fantastic, and absolutely needs its mate. I'm so very glad I decided to repurpose this yarn:


Don't you agree? I shall try to get the pair finished this month, and declare that this shall be the first project for the 2011 Christmas Gift List. I have already chosen the lucky recipient (because, you know, everybody wants a pair of handknit socks, even if they don't realise it yet) ;-) Anyway, project deets:

Pattern: Rick by Cookie A (love her!!!)
Yarn: 'Kelly', a Flights of Fancy Yarn Club colourway from Knitsch
Needles: Ummm... (runs off to check) ...2.75mm - the pattern calls for 2.5mm, but I had an inkling that this pair would be a little on the tight side due to the bias pattern, and went up a size. Glad I did! Wouldn't have fit otherwise (still don't fit me well, but you know...)

A deceptively simple pattern to follow and memorise - very intuitive. The foot chart does require a little more attention, but not much.

And my dad's socks are on the way to him now for his birthday (which isn't for another few days, but what the hey?).



Pattern: Earl Grey by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka the Yarn Harlot
Yarn: Regia Havanna Colour - although I don't know what the colour name is, because I can't understand German, nor their yarn ball bands O.o
Needles: 2.5mm - I finally got to use the 2.5mm ChiaoGoo RED circular needle I received as a prize in Sock Madness. They are fantastic!!! Love love love them! Want more! Don't think anyone stocks them in this country though :-(

I knit the entire pair in Continental (almost - I picked up the heel stitches using English). They were a remarkably fast knit given the size of them (10" feet, 72 stitches around). I'm really getting the hang of this speed-knitting thing I think. I'm very happy in the knowledge that I can now easily change between the two styles without any problems (unless its a difficult pattern, in which I will always revert to English).

I was aware before starting these socks that the cable pattern on the side would not show well due to the dark colour and the variegation in the yarn, but I've had this yarn in my stash for a few years now (it was part of a Harry Potter group swap in 2009 I think) and I've been wanting to use it for ages. Plus, I don't think dad will be showing off the patterning to his buddies ;-) I didn't continue the cabling down the feet, mainly because I'd worked 24-odd rows before realising I should have cabled right after picking up the heel stitches and continuing in the round, but it was optional anyway, and like I said, I don't think dad will care.

I got Deane to put these socks on for a pic, but he is such an appallingly atrocious casual sock model, I decided it was best to just leave them on their own. Trust me, you'd have agreed ;-)

I have also managed to knit two more blanket squares for the Ron Weasley blanket swap, and popped in to The Little Craft Store today to purchase some yummy Vintage yarn for the other squares. I love the Vintage colour range, it is quite delightful. I'm looking forward to working with it!

Alas, time has flown by rather quickly today, and I have to go cook food lest my family starve. After which, I shall be knitting some handspun mittens. Not that I need them right now, but its a project I've had on my 'to-do' list for an age, and there's a class in the HPKCHC they will fit into perfectly, so why not? Enjoy the rest of your week!!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Calibratin' mah doodacky

I was at the gym the other day, with a personal trainer. She was checking my running gait pattern for me, because I've been having a few issues with my left hip, and my right lower leg. She also showed me a few good stretches and self-massage thingees that would help me improve my running and avoid injury.

We discussed all things running, and I told her about how I'd moved to treadmill running for several reasons (new city and not knowing where to run, not knowing how far I've run because there's no distance markers, forever coming up with lame excuses to just go to the gym and run on the treadmill because its easier etc etc), but that I would have to start running outside again, to prepare for the quarter marathon that is coming up way too fast (OMG less than two months now!!!). She showed me her Nike SportBand, and how it tracked your distance, time, pace and calories burned (not that I care about calories, but the rest is rather handy information), and told me she got it at Dress-Smart for $40 (normal retail $100).

So what did I do? Drove on out to Dress-Smart in Onehunga and bought me a Nike SportBand!! Unfortunately the only colour they had was pink, but for a $60 saving I wasn't going to complain. And it matches my iPod and headphones :-) For some reason, Deane seems to think I like pink, and keeps buying me pink running accessories...

Anyway, before you go all gung-ho and start running all over the place, the website recommends you calibrate your SportBand by running a known distance (say, on a track) and setting it to your running style/speed etc so on future runs it can get an accurate reading. It took me a few days of research online, but I finally found a park relatively nearby (read: 15 minutes drive away in Mt. Roskill) that had an accessible running track, and I headed down there this morning to 'calibrate mah doodacky'. As per the very minimal instructions, I pressed the wee button down on the wristband for three seconds, then off I went. Five laps later (2km) I pressed the button down again for another three seconds, as per the very minimal instructions. I drove home and plugged the sensor into the laptop, and apparently I'd only run for 0.01 miles, for less than 30 seconds. Something obviously went wrong there! After mucking around with it for a wee while, I figured I had it set.

So I drove back out to the park, and tried again. Another five laps (and another 2km) I drove home again, and plugged in the sensor. It worked! Unfortunately, it was all set to miles. No good. I tried changing the settings to kilometres, and it kept saying it had, but my run still said miles. And I couldn't get it to calibrate on the site - apparently I had no valid runs. The instructions were not helping!!! The minimum run distance for calibration was 400 metres, but they recommended 1.6km (hence the 2km/5 lap thing).

I deleted my profile, and set up a new one. Now I am heading back out to the park for one last 2km run in the hopes that the third time will be lucky. Fingers crossed!

*************************************************************************************

I'm back, my doodacky is officially calibrated, and I have run 6km today. I think its time for a cup of tea and a hot shower. Technological genius I most decidedly am not :-)

Monday, 5 September 2011

Fibre love

I've had a few squidgy blobs of goodness arrive at my place over the last several weeks, and I haven't featured any here lately, so I thought I'd better catch y'all up ;-)

I spied some loveliness being spun by a certain someone with a talent for colour during the Tour de Fleece, and declared 'I must have some'. She kindly obliged:


gypsy kids on 100% polwarth from Miss Tracee of maude & me. Isn't it just delightful? I thoroughly enjoy just looking at it peeking out of my (slightly overflowing, ahem) fibre basket next to my Lovely. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it, but we're perfectly happy with the status quo for the time being.

Now, keeping in mind my 'yarn diet' (I've never been good at sticking to diets, that's why I never go on them, just sayin') this is technically the only fibre I've purchased recently. I have bought a few other bits and pieces, but they're for swaps, and totally don't count ;-) Moving on...

I won me some yummy m&m fibre during the Tour de Fleece (although I'm pretty sure Tracee just likes giving her stuff away, and finds any reason possible to do so) - this one is called arms aloft:


Also 100% polwarth. Again, I have no idea what I'm going to do with it yet, but I don't think that's really the point now, is it?

I won some more fibre in the HPKCHC for some other handspun I turned in for a class (its a vicious cycle I tell you!!!):


Two batts of punta wool, tencel and bamboo in the colourway Resurrection Stone from linuxchic of Nerd Girl Yarns. I'm seriously looking forward to spinning these up! No, I don't know what I'm going to do with them! Refer to my previous comment ;-)

Now that you've seen some of the goodies coming in to my hot little hands, I must show you what I'm actually doing with some of the previously acquired fibre that has been languishing in the fibre basket for a while. I started spinning my sock pencil roving from Vintage Purls:


Although I stopped, because I was fairly certain it wasn't coming out thin or twisty enough to become durable sock yarn. I'm undecided as to whether I should attempt to fix it, or just spin it as it is and knit it into something non-sockish. I think I'll leave it a bit longer. You never know, I may have an epiphany...

I also started spinning some BFL/silk fibre on my snazzy new spindle, Eric. He is dreamy!!! He spins beautifully, and I love him. I haven't spun much, but I'm in no hurry for this fibre (you guessed it, I have no idea what I'm going to do with it yet), so just pick it up and put it down as and when:



And just because, here's an extreme close-up!!

See how thin that single is??? Jeez, I'm such a show-off...

Also absent from the blog of late is some knitting pics!! Yes, I have actually been knitting, but mostly on one project. My Simplicity cardigan:


As you can see, I have (finally) finished the body of the cardigan, and just have the sleeves to go. It is in need of a seriously good blocking (because it looks really bizarre right now) but I can be patient, and wait for it to be finished before I do that. I'm really hoping it comes out looking like the pretty cardigan in the pictures, and not some weirdly misshapen short, wide, semi-transparent... wrap-type-thing... (is quietly cursing self for not knitting and blocking a swatch before starting the project)

I finished my Crazy Knitting Lady mitts:


Totally non-matchy, but that's all part of the crazy!

And since the endless rows of stockinette stitch in laceweight was driving me a little crazy (ie: weirdly misshapen cardigan, as seen above), I cast on some Rick socks (love that Cookie A!):


These are being knit in the Kelly yarn from Knitsch that I was originally using for the doomed Pisqu socks I frogged a couple of weeks ago.

I appear to be suffering a bout of start-itis, as I have also knit a square for the latest round of the Ron Weasley blanket swap, and will be knitting another nine in the next few weeks. I would show you a picture, but the square needs to be blocked, and I can't be arsed right now.

And this morning, I cast on for a pair of Earl Grey socks for my dad, whose birthday is coming up in less than two weeks (gotta love a deadline!). I sent him a bunch of Lotto tickets for Father's Day, and the envelope they came in said something like 'I know you really wanted socks but...' Of course this made something in my brain go 'tweak', and an idea was born! I wrote 'hand knit' into the wee sentence on the envelope, and will (with any luck) be sending him those hand knit socks that he really would have preferred for Father's Day, and would have been all disappointed (I'm sure) that he didn't receive. You see what I did there? Clever, aye! ;-P btw mum? If he really doesn't want any more hand-knit socks, let me know, K? Thanks :-)

I was a good girl and went stash-diving for the yarn for these socks, even though I was actually going to go to the LYS and buy some. I am attempting to stick to the diet, sort of... (using stash yarn for the blanket squares too!)

Well, I have me a lot of knitting to get done, and some dinner to cook for a couple of hungry boys (who will start squawking 'I'm hungry, what is there to eat?' in about two minutes) so I must dash. The sooner they're fed and watered, the sooner I can ship them off to bed, and sit down in front of Buffy with my yarn and sticks ;-) Have a good week!!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Happy Father's Day

I was up nice and early this morning to cook my husband breakfast - I'd been to the supermarket the night before to get all the special ingredients. Unfortunately, going later in the evening means you don't get the best baked bread selection. I was after some sourdough, and thought I'd grabbed a multigrain sourdough loaf, but when I sliced into it this morning, it didn't look right. I checked the bag again, and it was actually a rosemary and garlic batard. Oops. That wouldn't work. So I chucked on some clothes and rushed down to the supermarket again, with instructions to the boys to 'leave dad alone' while I was out.

The only sourdough loaf I could find was an organic vienna loaf from Pandoro Panetteria for $8. Oh, the things we do for our loved ones...

I zipped back home and got started. Within half an hour I had served my beloved a heaping pile of Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon on sourdough, with free range middle bacon and black pudding, and a cup of steaming hot coffee with honey - just what he likes. The kids woke him up with their hand drawn cards and a present - a jar of hand made 'Father's Day Rock' candy from Sweet, with pictures of tools, cars, and things like 'dad' and 'I love dad' in the middles. (There's some pics on their facebook page, which I've linked to. Their website is cabbage.) Deane and the boys scoffed down their breakfasts (I just had sourdough toast and a banana, much better) and I believe they're planning a day of XBox, and perhaps an outing. Me? I'm off to knitting ;-)