Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Time for a change

You may have noticed things look a little different around here...  The rainy background is very appropriate for the weather we are currently experiencing.  A lot.

And I needed to add something new to THE LIST.  I received in the mail today, a big squishy bag full of yarn.  Five smooshy soft hanks of this black yarn, which will become a sweater for Deane.  Hopefully.

I'm swatching.  Yes, can you believe it?  I AM SWATCHING!!!  Watch this space ;-)

btw, updated THE LIST as follows:

  • fingerless mitts for X in black
  • fingerless mitts for T in green
  • fingerless mitts for mum, because I forgot she wanted some for Mother's Day, or maybe these - in progress 
  • scarf for _________________ (shh, it's a secret!) - in progress
  • shawl for mum (the original size is too small) - just an extension, not the whole thing again
  • sweater for me
  • socks for X (no pattern required)
  • socks for T (no pattern required)
  • socks for school librarian (again, no pattern required)
  • socks for Deane (haven't decided yet what pattern, so many to choose from!!)
  • fingerless gloves for Deane (maybe. I'm still a little annoyed about the $2 shop ones)
  • armwarmers for me
  • sweater for me
  • kindle covers x 3 for mum, MIL and bff
  • sweater for Deane - swatching in progress, haven't decided on pattern yet

Monday, 25 June 2012

Weekending

What is a good weekend?  Getting out and enjoying life?  Staying in and enjoying some rest and relaxation?  I couldn't really say.  This weekend I did a little of both.  Let's start with Friday (because according to my boys, the weekend starts as soon as the 3 o'clock bell rings at school).

Friday afternoon saw me in the school library tidying up the books in the dewey decimal section.  Lordy, do those kids know how to mess up the numerical order!!  It was oddly enjoyable.  I also managed to sneak the librarian's socks on my feet for a quick pic.  She'd kept them in the library, hoping to snap a pic herself when she had some time, but (unsurprisingly) never did get around to it.  A school library is an unexpectedly busy place.


As you can see, they're fairly plain socks.  Knit from the cuff down with 12 rows of 1x1 ribbing, I knit the leg to 5.25" from CO edge, did a standard slip-stitch heel flap and gusset, and knit the foot to fit her 24cm (9.5") feet.  Standard toe.  I timed myself to see how long it took me to knit the first sock, because for some reason I was curious, and according to my iPhone stopwatch, it took me 5 hours, 36 minutes, and 9.4 seconds to knit it (not including cast on, first row, and grafting the toe.  So I cheated a little ;-P)  Not a bad effort I suppose.  I guess, in theory, I could knit a pair of socks in a day.  Hmm, I see another challenge forming...

These socks were knit, not with the Happy Go Knitty yarn I originally purchased for them, but with some Touch Yarns Magic Merino I found at Crafty Knitwits.  It was a little better suited colour-wise I think.  The librarian likes red and orange, which this yarn (mostly) is, whereas the Happy Go Knitty yarn had a lot of yellow.  Plus it means I get to keep it for myself.  Mwaaaahahahahahaha!!!  (Selfish much?)  And the unforseen bonus?  There is enough of the Touch yarn left for a whole other pair of socks!  Perhaps I'll make her another pair for Christmas :-)

So while I was reorganising books, I got chatting to another parent about knitting.  She was very keen to learn, so I gave her some ideas of where to go for supplies, and wrote down some websites to check out.  I grabbed her email so I could send some links as well.  It started out that I was going to send her to somewhere that teaches knitting, but by the end of the weekend I had volunteered my services to teach her myself.  Why?  I have no idea.  I'm a terrible teacher!  Oh well.  She seems over-the-moon about the prospect of learning, so hopefully I won't put her off with my lack of... je ne sais quoi...

With a good bye to everyone when the bell rang, the boys and I headed home to start our weekend of blobbing and what have you, and I cooked a yummy dinner.  Once the boys were in bed, I watched some Vampire Diaries (OMG the ending of season three is ::imagine weird screechy noise here, depicting ridiculous over-excitement::) and wandered off to bed, where I fell asleep trying to read A Clash of Kings (second Game of Thrones book).

Saturday saw me meeting up with my friend Margaret, who was up from Wellington visiting her daughter and grand-daughter.  We went to a market that was literally a one minute walk from my house that I was heretofore completely oblivious about.  Having said that, the stuff at said market was mostly for babies.  And my boys are a little past that stage.  Although I did manage to get them some new, nearly indestructible (for me) drink bottles.  You see, I'd bought them drink bottles some time ago, and being the good mum, decided to wash them first.  Although, also being a relatively lazy mum, put them through the dishwasher, where they warped and no longer stood straight on their own, and were prone to falling over.  Duh.  The new drink bottles are a lot more hardy - they're made out of stainless steel.  And I got two for $20 (original retail price $30 each).  Score!  btw, they're dishwasher safe.  I checked ;-) 

I also knit a little bit on the latest Vintage Purls socks - the first instalment of the Winter Sock Yarn Club.  I won't post any pics yet, as some of the Club members haven't received their parcels, and I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise.  Although the odds of any of these people reading my blog are slim at best, you never can be too careful.  Plus the pattern isn't linked on Ravelry yet (see aforementioned reason).  I absolutely adore the colour, and the pattern is proving to be quite the challenge for me.  It has a very interesting cable right up the middle of the sock, and I have to admit I screwed it up a little bit.  I wasn't happy with it because it didn't look right, so decided to drop the sitches to fix it rather than frog back, because it also has cables running the length of each side, plus the rest of the sock is reverse stockinette, and I don't seem to enjoy purling as much as knitting. You get the idea - I was trying to avoid re-doing a large chunk of knitting.  Of course, dropping stitches and reknitting them is fiddly at the best of times, but on 2.5mm needles, with a dark-coloured yarn, and a tricky three-way cable?  Crazy!  I did manage to fix the cable but got rather stroppy when, upon fixing it, discovered it looked untidy due to the stretched stitches beside the cable that resulted from the 'sock-surgery', and threw it across the room.  A cup of tea and several (hundred) deep breaths later, I picked it back up and readjusted the stitches so it looked 'normal' again, and resumed knitting.  I have mastered the cable now, and can happily knit the pattern without having to refer to the chart.  Always a good thing.

Sunday morning involved pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, a supermarket visit, and a trip to Kraftbomb, where I discovered Happy Go Knitty had a table.  Of course I couldn't walk away without a purchase (specifically this BFL sock yarn).  I'm thinking it would be awesome for these socks, but what colour to go with???  Any suggestions?  White?  Black?  Blue?  Green?  Yellow?  Help!!

I knit a little bit on the VP Club socks, but got to the gusset increases and couldn't be bothered with them.  Don't know why.  Instead, I cast on another project on THE LIST.  Something that is fairly mindless to knit, and I can cart it around to places like the laundromat (which I have been avoiding by writing this post.  It was raining).  There was no knitting group on Sunday, due to everyone being away/sick/moving house/settling into new house/recovering from first week at work, so I stayed home and knit.  Not so bad, but I'll definitely be going next Sunday.  School holidays!  I'll be grabbing every chance I can to get out of the house and away from the male hominids!

It is now Monday, the boys are at school, Deane is at work, and the sun has come out.  I'm thinking laundromat, then library, with lots of knitting crammed in.  Have a good week!!

Monday, 18 June 2012

It's vampire season

What's that you say?  There's no such thing?  Well, pooh-pooh to you!!  It'll be vampire season if I say it's vampire season!  There's only five months to go until Breaking Dawn Part II comes out at the movies - the countdown begins...

True Blood is coming back to TV - season five!  Hurrah!!  Over the weekend I read a Lynsay Sands novel.  I forgot how much I enjoyed them.  Already reserved the next one from the library.  (I hope to get plenty of reading in before study starts up again in July.)  Plus, a friend of mine is currently honeymooning over in Italy (so jealous!) and sent me a postcard from Montepulciano, which she proclaimed to be 'very New Moon-ish'.  See?  Vampire season.

What better way to pass the dreary, cold, wet days than to snuggle up on the couch with a blanket, a vampire romance novel and some knitting?  I've been trying out the text-to-speech function on my kindle, and although it is rather mechanic, you get used to it after a while.  It can be quite funny too, particularly when it does things like read "hmm" as "h-m-m" - spelling it out.  Gave me a smile every time.  And oh, listening to the robotic male voice reading the raunchy scenes was quite hilarious!!

I can put in my ear-buds and plug them into the kindle, allowing me to knit and ignore the kids simultaneously.  I get annoyed with their constant banter and bickering over games, so it's nice to be able to drown it out rather than have it grate on my nerves.  And they know that if they want something, they just need to give me a tap, or wave their arms around frantically to get my attention.  While listening and knitting this weekend, I managed to finish mum's shawl-of-epic-proportions:


I took this picture in front of the back doors/window just to give you an idea of scale.  I haven't blocked it yet either, so it'll probably end up even bigger.  Do you think it'll fit now mum? ;-)  Three 120g skeins of Knitsch sock yarn went into this shawl, as the original size was too small (which was only one skein).  Just in case you're interested, this is the Yvaine pattern.  So I did manage to knit the two extra skeins within a week after all.  What was I worried about?  Pfft...

Oh yeah, got some pics of my Zephyr cardigan for you too:




Love love LOVE this cardigan!!!  I fully recommend the pattern to anyone as it is well written and easy to follow, even if the layout is a little unconventional.  I did modify the sleeves ever so slightly - only two decreases in total, and I extended the length - both the stockinette, and the ribbed cuff.  I like long sleeves.  This yarn is fast becoming my absolute favourite - Malabrigo Rios.  So soft and squishy and not-at-all-itchy.  Just beautiful.  I couldn't be happier with this cardigan - it is now in competition for wear with my other favourite cardigan, the handspun grey one I made last year.  One can never have too many favourite hand-knits though, right?  So many more things to knit...

Ooh, must share.  Every Sunday on my way to and from knitting, I walk past this manhole cover, and it always makes me smile:


One can only assume this particular acronym was not well-known when the manhole cover was made :-)

Have a good week everyone!  I'm going to go reserve the latest Sookie Stackhouse from the library ;-P

Thursday, 14 June 2012

It's not so bad

After my little whinge about the endless knitting required for mum's shawl the other day, I've been knitting on it quite a bit, and have managed to finish the first skein and start the second.  I'm over halfway!  Phew!


Just so you know, this pic is the best I can do for a progress shot, since the shawl edge I'm knitting is well over twice the length of the circular cable it's currently on.  Which, by the way, is 100cm.  I'm looking forward to getting blocking wires soon, so I think this shawl will be an excellent first blocking project for them :-)  I may actually have this finished by next week, which means I can cast on something else!  Yay!

I got a lovely surprise in the mail yesterday - a prize I won for Sock Madness.  Behold:


A beautiful skein of Wollmeise!!!  The most coveted of coveted yarns!  Hurrah!!!  And can you see those lovely stitch markers?  Here's a terrible, slightly blurry cropped pic:


So cute!!!  My gifter made these with lovely ceramic beads that have pictures of tulips and windmills on them - she is from The Netherlands.  There was much discussion in the group threads about what makes these knitters so fast (because they really are!) and it's been attributed (jokingly) to everything from lutefisk to stroopwafel.  So she was also kind enough to send me some stroopwafels.  I don't think they'll make me knit any faster, but they were rather nice:


The trick is to put it on top of your mug of hot beverage (in my case, tea) so the syrup in the middle goes all gooey yummy.  Good stuff!

I have decided to make a hitchhiker scarf out of the yarn.  The scarf is perfect for knitting with Wollmeise - the designer, Martina Behm, says "The name? Well, if you use a 150g skein of Wollmeise 100% Merino for this, you can make how many teeth? That's right, 42. The answer to the question about the universe and everything, according to Douglas Adams' wonderful book, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". So don‘t forget your towel, and happy knitting!"  I love that book, it is crazy awesome.  Having said that, the skein I have is 80/20 merino/nylon - a sock yarn - which only has 510 yards, not the 575 yards that the 100% merino has.  So I'm thinking (hoping) that perhaps a slightly smaller needle will allow for a narrower, longer scarf with (fingers crossed!) 42 'teeth'.  Because that would be nerdy-cool.  Not that anyone will actually know unless I tell them, and then they'd have to have read Hitchhiker's Guide to get it.  But still...

The weekend is nearly here people, enjoy it! I know I will be :-)  The boys are off to a birthday party of a friend they haven't seen in a while.  Ah, two hours of peace and quiet.  Fantastic!

Side note: As I was typing this post, I almost went through and deleted a bunch of exclamation points, because there seems to be a lot of them.  But then it occurred to me, this is what I'm like in real life.  You may not be able to see the exclamation points, but I'm pretty sure you can hear them when I talk.  When it comes to the subject of knitting, I am this happy!!


Say hello to my little friend, Mr Wasabi Pea (^_^)

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Chugging along

I am now officially on 'school holidays' I guess you could say.  I finished my third assignment last week, and submitted it yesterday.  The second trimester doesn't start until the 9th July.  Oh my, think of all that knitting time!!!  Speaking of knitting, I'm making progress on THE LIST:

THE LIST (In no particular order, just to be clear)
  • fingerless mitts for X in black
  • fingerless mitts for T in green
  • fingerless mitts for mum, because I forgot she wanted some for Mother's Day, or maybe these
  • scarf for _________________ (shh, it's a secret!)
  • shawl for mum (the original size is too small) - just an extension, not the whole thing again
  • sweater for me
  • socks for X (no pattern required)
  • socks for T (no pattern required)
  • socks for school librarian (again, no pattern required)
  • socks for Deane (haven't decided yet what pattern, so many to choose from!!)
  • fingerless gloves for Deane (maybe. I'm still a little annoyed about the $2 shop ones)
  • armwarmers for me
  • sweater for me
  • kindle covers x 3 for mum, MIL and bff
I have made a start on the shawl extension for mum.  It's going to take aaaaaaaaaaaaaages....  I unpicked the bind off on Sunday at knitting group (which was awesome!!  More on that later) and knit a few rows that night.  Knit some more last night.  So far, I've only managed 23 rows.  Each row is over 300 stitches, and that number is going to keep getting bigger.  It just seems to take foooorreeeeevvveeeeerrrr.  Which is odd.  I have two skeins of yarn to add on to this shawl, each about 367 metres, give or take.  It is fingering weight yarn.  Socks are knit with fingering weight yarn.  One skein pretty much covers it for a pair.  I can knit a pair of socks in a few days, even with cables, or lace, or whatever.  So in theory I can knit two pairs in a week, if I was so inclined.  This shawl is just knitting and purling, with four simple increases every other row.  Why then, does it take so much longer to knit the shawl than it does a pair of socks?  Hmmmmm???

I have other projects I want to cast on (see above list), but feel like I have to knit this shawl first before I'm 'allowed'.  Strange, these rules we put in place for ourselves.  Even more strange, that we complain about them.  Or am I alone on this?  Probably...

Anyway, I have a pic of the mitts, although you can't actually tell that's what the picture's for:


My kids are so spazzy ;-)  And they seriously need haircuts!  They love those mitts - as soon as I cast them off and finished weaving in the ends, they went straight on their hands.  Hardly ever come off!  I think I'll have to steal them in the middle of the night to wash them soon, lest they get all gross and stinky.  I've already had to shave them.  Yes, you read that right, shave them.  You see, I made these mitts out of single ply, felted lambswool.  I knew perfectly well before I cast on that they would pill and fluff, but I didn't honestly think they'd get this much wear.  I may end up having to make some more!  But I was trying to use up scraps, of which I have plenty, and I managed to do exactly that.  I have plenty more green yarn scraps, but not so much black.  I may have to think of something else.  Or buy some, as my nephew apparently wants a pair too.  I've started a craze ;-)

With all this new-found spare time, I even did some mending yesterday - darned three socks (badly, but at least I did it, right?), sewed a few buttons, and repaired a much-worn and loved hoodie of X's.  Hope he didn't grow out of it while waiting for it to be fixed.  Yes, it's been sitting in the mending pile for that long!

Anyway, back to Sunday's knitting group.  Sunday was the official World Wide Knit in Public Day (or WWKiP).  We had a fantastic turn-out - eight people!  Considering our usual group consists of two or three people (and sometimes just one!), eight people sitting at the cafe all at once, knitting together, was fantastic.  It was such a chatty, friendly, happy bunch of people, I had a wonderful afternoon.  And best of all, when I got home, Deane had done the laundry :-)

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Camera? What camera? I don't have a camera...

This seems to be what my brain keeps telling itself.  I forgot to take pictures of the socks I knit for the school librarian before handing them to her this morning.  I also forgot to take pictures of the stitching project I finished yesterday before sending it off in the mail.  Why?  Why do I keep forgetting to do this small, simple little thing?  Sadly, I have nothing to show for my efforts over the weekend.  I didn't take pictures of the first batch waffles I made with my new waffle iron (they were excellent by the way) or my second attempt at red velvet pancakes (also very good).  I finished my Zephyr cardigan last week.  I've worn it a few times.  I've been surrounded by people all weekend.  Do I have any pictures of this cardigan?  No.  Of course not.  Deane has bought me two lovely bunches of flowers in the last couple of weeks, and I haven't got pictures of them either.  Hopeless.

Since I have nothing to show here, I might as well just get on with doing other stuff that needs doing - like the three giant bags of washing (although I procrastinated about it for so long it is now raining and I don't want to walk back and forth in the rain to do the laundry so perhaps I will procrastinate a bit more), the vacuuming (it's amazing how much mess can be created when you have a house full of people for four days), or the second half of my assignment, which is due in a couple of weeks.

But, but... I have mum's shawl now, and the two extra skeins of yarn I need for it.  Ooh, now they need to be wound into yarn cakes.  Perhaps I should get on to that.  And maybe I could just unpick the shawl bind off and get it back on the needles before getting out the vacuum cleaner...  or maybe knit just a couple of rows... it's getting cold now, perhaps I should cast on the boys' fingerless mitts so they have something to keep their hands warm for the walk (across the road) to school in the mornings...

Hmmm, perhaps it's better that I don't photograph everything after all... ;-)