Saturday, November 17, 2007

N is for...


I joined facebook on a bit of a whim yesterday... Amazing to see how many people are on there, and also how many of my friends aren't. I'm currently trying to figure out whether I should bother contacting old school friends or not - I mean, if I wanted to be in touch with them, I probably would be anyway...


I found out the other day that Get Knitted are taking pre-orders for the wooden Knitpicks needles. A possible Christmas list item to suggest to my Mum, although I'm not sure if she'd be able to get her head around paying that much for a set of knitting needles. Or if I really need any more needles anyway. (And yes, I do still give my Mum a Christmas list each year, even at my age - it ensure I get things I actually want...)

Friday, November 16, 2007

M is for...

Magic Yarn Ball

I took part in an MYB swap recently, and it was great fun! I managed to pick up a good variety of bits and pieces to include in it on my travels in September, and after a few evenings of frantic crafting I sent it off just before the deadline (assisted by the fact that my partner sent early and I promised myself I wouldn't open my parcel until I sent hers off). As soon as that was done, I unwrapped the following:

The yarn itself was Rowan Kid Classic (so soft and lovely) and I got some great gifts. James was a little shocked that anyone would purposefully melt a record, but I like it...

The items I made for my partner are shown below - a glass bead necklace, a needle case, 2 corchet flowers and matching silver/tourmaline stich markers and earrings (plus a pincushion I forgot to include in the photo)

I completed the pattern suggested (a shrug from one-skein wonders) in about 2 days, but unfortunately it is waaaay too small for me - I need to find a 10 year old to give it to I think!

I don't think I'll be taking part in a huge number of swaps as it took a surprising amount of time to pull this one together and I have other crafting priorities, but the occasional one would be fun...


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

L is for...


As mentioned a few days ago, I've just swatched for the Peacock Feathers shawl. I started swatching in some laceweight silk from colourmart but really wasn't happy with it - too fine, and too slippy for my new Knitpicks needles... So I thought about what was in the stash and decided to try my beautiful Garnstudio Drops Alpaca (picked up in Stockholm) - it is perfect! Unfortunately I didn't have enough, but a spot of shopping at Scandinavian Knitting Design soon fixed that (by the way, I highly recommend them - the package arrived next day!)

It won't be as light and 'lacy' as the original, but I think I prefer that anyway - I like my Seraphim and I think fingering/sock weight shawls are more my style (not that the peacock is for me). I wore Seraphim on Saturday and it was nice to receive so many compliments on it (including from Debbie Stoller...) and to be able to tell everyone about the pattern (do you think I could get commission?)

I really enjoy knitting lace - I think the charts appeal to the scientist in me - but if that's the case, I can't figure out why colourwork holds no interest at all (for the moment at least). Plenty of time for many other favourite techniques in the future I suppose...


Monday, November 12, 2007

K is for...

Knitpicks Options

One of my recent purchases is a set of Knitpicks Options interchangeable needles from Get Knitted. I admired them at ally pally, but knowing that I'd be visiting the GK shop in Bristol the following weekend (October was a bit hard on the finances but good for the stash!) I saved my purchase for a week. I was slightly concerned that they wouldn't have any left after the show, but all was well and I've transferred a couple of my projects onto them already...

My first attempt at using them wasn't entirely successful - silk yarn plus slippery needles is not a recipe for success - but with other yarns they are a dream to use. I've just cast on the Devil Baby Blanket from Crazy Aunt Purl's book and it is progressing well:

That is less than one day's knitting - good given my usual speed (mind you, it was a Sunday...)

I also wanted to write a bit more about the UK Stitch n Bitch day on Saturday - what a great day! It was smaller than I expected, but that worked out well - there was an opportunity for smaller companies to have stalls and more time to speak to the stall holders. I had a lovely chat with a lady who farms cashmere goats down in Devon (Devon Fine Fibres) during which I learnt about how the coats of cashmere goats differ from those of sheep and just why cashmere is so expensive (I hadn't realised just how little you get from each goat in a year!). There was lots of knitting - with the SnB London Stitchettes and others - and I met so many lovely people! To top it all off, I actually managed to stick to my plan not to buy any yarns. I came home with a book and a few patterns - hurray!


Sunday, November 11, 2007

J is for...


The baby surprise jacket is coming along well (plenty of progress made while chatting to the stitchettes at UK SnB day yesterday) - it's for a friend's baby and I don't know if she is expecting a boy or a girl, so I'm hoping the colour is non-specific enough...

J is also for Jane Brockett, who blogs at yarnstorm. I had the pleasure of attending a 'workshop' with her at the SnB day yesterday (it turned out to be more of a talk really, about colourful crochet squares, but was interesting anyway!). There's been a fair bit of controversy over her book, particularly on Ravelry, but having flicked through it I decided to get myself a copy - I like it for the way it is so bright and colourful, and it is interesting to read about one person's approach to life and creativity, even if it isn't the way I live mine! Anyway, I got my copy signed on the day, along with a copy of Debbie Stoller's new book 'Son of Stitch and Bitch' which has some interesting patterns in it, most of which I'm pretty sure James wouldn't like (just as well too, I've got quite enough projects to keep me busy at the moment thank you very much!)


Saturday, November 10, 2007

I is for...

I Knit London

Hurray to IKL for organising UK Stitch n Bitch day, which is today.

Boo to the fact that this is the second Saturday running where I've had to set the alarm!


Friday, November 09, 2007

H is for...


I've been a bit stumped for a topic beginning with H, so this one might be scraping the barrel! I was pondering earlier the difference between machine knitting and handknitting - I have tried machine knitting a little (my Granny had a knitting machine - in fact I wonder if she still has it stowed in the attic somewhere...) but I think I prefer handknitting - it may not be as fast, but it's a heck of a lot more portable! (and more suited to a flat in London...)

On another (related) topic, I'm amused to realise quite how many people are secret knitters/crocheters - my SnB page a day calendar at work has triggered a few confessions, and I mentioned that I was heading to UK Stitch 'n' Bitch day tomorrow (expecting complete disinterest) to discover that yet another colleague is a secret fan... I may have to do a bit more knitting in the staff room and see if I can get some people to join me!


Thursday, November 08, 2007

G is for...

Garter stitch

One of my many WIPs at the moment is the 'baby surprise jacket' (see the Schoolhouse press website - scroll down the page a bit) for a friend who is expecting in the New Year. It is an interesting design whereby, after a bit of woollen origami, you only need to seam along the top of the sleeves to turn what looks like a very peculiar piece of knitting into a little jacket! The whole thing is done in garter stitch (like the Mason-Dixon baby kimonos I've knitted in the past) and I have to say I'm still rather on the fence as to whether I like garter stitch or not. The plus side is that it is all knit stitches - no purling to slow you down. But I kind of like the smooth surface you get from stockinette stitch, where you can see the pattern of the individual stitches much more clearly, and trace the path of the yarn...

Perhaps if I knit another I'll take a look on Ravelry and see if anyone has tried to knit it in stockinette.

Speaking of which, I've just swatched for the Peacock Feathers shawl as a very special present for someone... I'm not sure if I want to knit it as triangular shawl though, so I decided to see if anyone had knitted it as a rectangular stole, and lo and behold, a combination of Google and Ravelry lead me to Chappysmom who has done just that. It looks great and so I'm now trying to work my way through back through the charts to convert them into a form my brain can cope with when knitting without those triangular increases...


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

F is for...


There's pretty much only one place we bother to go for furniture: Ikea. I have a feeling that Ikea is the sort of place you love or hate, but when you're trying to furnish your first home, there really aren't many places that allow you to purchase attractive furniture at an affordable price. The downside is, of course, that you have to put it together yourself, and it can be mighty annoying when they don't have what you want in stock (when we were trying to get the furniture for our flat, we ended up having to pay a trip to 2 branches of Ikea in one day, just to get all the stiff we needed while we had a van to transport it in...)

This evening, we went to our local branch (hurray for London - when I lived in Devon it was a 90 minute drive to the nearest Ikea, now its about 10 minutes and that's only because of the traffic!) in search of storage for the 2 household obsessions: CDs and yarn. Last time we went (just for the CDs) we were after a Benno rack (see here - we've just filled our sixth one...) but they were out of stock. This evening they had plenty, but I was also after some storage for my yarn, in the eternal struggle to keep my stash tidy... I'd identified the perfect thing, which will even hopefully fit my sewing machine on top (see here) but when we got down to the warehouse... Out of stock. So another trip beckons in a couple of weeks. Joy.

And can anyone explain why, even when they don't have what we want, we always manage to spend somewhere in the region of £40-£45 on 'stuff'?!


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

E is for...


Well, it had to be really, didn't it?! Lady Eleanor continues to progress well, in fact I'm past the 50% mark now, working my way towards the big decision: to fringe or not to fringe?

I think the solution is to see how it looks at 90% done, as the pattern fringe will take about 1/2 a ball, so I need to know if it is long enough to spare that - and whether I really think a fringe will suit me and whether it will suit the project - it's a combination of the two really, isn't it? I also plan to peruse Ravelry and see what other people have done...

No photographs today as I haven't had time to get me, camera, knitting and camera cable all in the same place at the same time. Today has been a bit manic, and I really meant to go to the SnB London meeting this evening, but after leaving work later than planned, cycling home, rushing to change and going to the dentist, all I really want to do this evening is sit on the sofa with James, my knitting and a bit of TV. In that order.


Monday, November 05, 2007

D is for...


So, it's actually over a month since my trip to London, but I've only just got around to posting about it. Oh well!

I only had one day to look around, but I liked Dublin and I hope to go back. I was amazed at how small the place is, given it is a capital city - but then when you realise that the whole of Eire has a population of something like 4 million, and London itself has about 7 million, that puts things into perspective. It being a catholic country, Sunday shopping options were a bit limited too. I'd hunted the internet for yarn shops, but most I found were unfortunately closed - including this one, which looked interesting:

I had a bit more success at Hickeys, which focuses more on fabrics (if only I'd had more than hand luggage to carry things in!)

They do have a selection of yarns in the basement - mostly the usual uninspiring acrylic mixes, but I managed to pick some lovely Kilcarra Aran tweed in a heathery purple:

And i just had to get a shot of their fantastic window dressing:

After finding some yarn to take home and hobbling around the city for as long as I could manage (given my huge blisters), I headed to the airport. They made me take off my shoes at security and I left them off for the rest of the journey home. That's right, I got one the plane, off the plane, went through Heathrow airport, got on the tube, changed at Green Park onto another line and got to my station all in my socks. Can you imagine the looks I got for that? Even in London I don't think you see all that many people travelling on the tube in socks...

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

C is for...


This is what got me back into the whole world of crafting - good old crochet. About 2.5/3 years ago, I saw a woman on the bus crocheting a small circular motif. Having handed in my thesis, and thus having a bit of time on my hands, I thought "Hmmm... I could probably do that!" bought some yarn and a couple of books, had a bit of a look on the internet and started my first attempt - a chunky piece in blue acrylic which mysteriously turned into a triangle.

First lesson - that is what turning chains are for! I got my hands on the book '200 crochet squares' and decided that my first project would be an afghan made of a mixture of squares, in browns and naturals - to match the colour ideas I had for when I finally got a place of my own and was able to decorate it (yes, I plan that far ahead, and yes, my lounge is now brown/soft coffee/dark red!). So far I have about 8 squares - that book is great to look at, but I think it has a few errors, and all of the squares turned out completely different sizes!

Since then I have taught myself to hold the hook and yarn properly (at first I held it like I was knitting, not surprising as that was what I learnt first over 20 years ago) and not made much progress on the afghan. One day though...

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

B is for...


Which is where I'm off today, hence the ridiculously early post on a Saturday morning. You know those times you agree to something and then realise later on that you're actually going to have to do it? Today is one of those days - I agreed to speak at a careers conference on my 'unusual' choices (only in science could my route be considered alternative!) so having created a presentation in my lunchtime last week (there's nothing like being well prepared!) today I'm off to deliver it. Twice.

Wish me luck...


Friday, November 02, 2007

A is for...


I spent a long time (or so it felt) in academia - and when I left I thought I'd seen the back of it. Three years undergraduate, almost four years postgraduate, and by the end of that time I'd had enough. I'm not cut out for working in the lab, so I ran away to a life of science policy - thinking that was the thing for me. Well, it turns out I'm still figuring out what's right, and that process of figuring out has taken me back to... you've guessed it - academia! The difference being, I no longer have to work in a lab, and I get to smile to myself as I watch the latest batch of unsuspecting PhD students begin their research...

On the plus side, my MPhil certificate arrived last week, and one of the signatures is that of my old uni's new chancellor, Floella Benjamin. All my friends are going to think I made it up. (This is likely to be a UK specific joke, limited to a certain age range - I've told a few people at work and received blank looks as the majority of people here are from abroad!)

As for the rest of life, Lady Eleanor is progressing well, I've started umpteen new projects, spent a small fortune at Ally Pally and Get Knitted, wasted a lot of time on Ravelry and bought a new bed. Life is good :-)


Thursday, November 01, 2007


So, after a whole month of not posting, I'm going to try for the complete opposite - just in time for NaBloPoMo. Taking some inspiration from Bella Dia's project this summer (and to give me something to start working with), I'm going to use an alphabet theme. Starting tomorrow. Well, there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, so I need to save a day or two to fit it in!