Friday, 30 November 2007

Can a tumble dryer really kill the planet?

Our tumble dryer broke last weekend - the drum stopped turning and there was a smell of burning rubber. I seriously considered not replacing it - after all we are always being told not to use them - dry your clothes outside (not in this part of the country where it's always raining), get a clothes horse (my kids would soon have that on the floor and anyway, where the heck would I put it?) or use the radiators (have you noticed how stuff that is dried on the radiator ends up feeling like cardboard?). No-one ever mentions the fact that one you have used one of these methods to dry your clothes, use of the steam iron is then compulsory to remove that cardboard feeling.
So all you eco clever clogs out there...which is worse the tumble dryer or the steam iron? After just 4 days without a dryer and therefore almost without a washing machine (no point washing if you can't dry and yes it has been raining almost all week) I've decided that in a house with 3 children, a tumble dryer is ESSENTIAL.
So how did I rescue my green credentials? I went to and ordered the spare parts needed to fix the tumble dryer. Cost? About £25 and in a couple of days time the Dryer will be like new and I will be happily drying all the clothes by machine again.
Tumble Driers have very few parts and almost all of them are easily accessible once the back of the machine is off. SO, if your tumble dryer breaks - at least think about repairing it yourself. It isn't hard (not if I can do it, it isn't) and it's got to be better to repair than fill a landfill site with a large hunk of metal.

Monday, 19 November 2007

There must be another way...

I finished my duaghter's Pinwheel Jacket but I'm not going to blog it....yet. Her verdict? 'Me no like it' once I had finally got her to try it on I could see that the arms are way too small - the pattern says 'knit until sleeve measures 12 inches'. Well my daughter must have arms like a baboon because she's only 2 but the sleeves are still too short. I didn't like the way the yarnovers ended up being HUGE holes around the arms either - they look OK on the circle for the body but once you pick up and start knitting the sleeves, well bleughhh.
Anyway, I didn't like knitting it and I don't like the finished result either. I'm too fed up to rip out the sleeves and work on it so I've put it away for a while.

Which brings me to my next topic....
I've got really tired of the whole cast-on, photograph, finish, photograph, blog, Ravelry thing. Knitting is supposed to be a hobby, something that keeps me busy, keeps my mind occupied and my hands off the chocolate. Lately it's become about buying more yarn than I need, casting on for things in too much of a rush and feeling pressurised into blogging when I don't want to.
I'm glad there's going to be a break before SP12 because I need one. Blogging is supposed to be a hobby too - not a chore.
I'll blog again when I've got something decent to show you - and not before!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Can't Finish Anything....

It's really frustrating but I can't finish anything. I have more half-finished projects now than I have EVER had in my life. What's wrong with me?

I finished this Tilted Duster weeks ago but I'm just not happy with it....I got round to sewing on a hook and eye to try to close the front properly but it's still not right. I'm also not happy with the neatness of the knitting and the way it hangs. See how wrinkly the bottom is? I've steamed it twice but it's just not right.

If you knit a Tilted Duster I would also say DON'T block or even press the collar ribbing - when the cardigan is on your body you need the flex of the ribbing to allow the collar to mould round your shoulders and neck. If you press the ribbing all you'll get is a flapping mess.

Also on the needles I have Bellatrix socks - one finished but not overjoyed with it so who know when I'll do the second.

The ribbed cuff was WAY too small - only 60 stitches and the socks are quite long - mid calf on me - so extra width was needed. i had to cut the cuff off and re-knit it, adding some increases and a few rows of stocking stitch at the top to make a roll. I've still not found a sock pattern than I want to knit more than once and with most of them I struggle to knit the second. Anyone want to leave suggestions of socks that are fun to knit, fit properly and look nice so you acutally want to wear them?

I have knitted pieces for 3 Alan Dart Snowme snowmen from Simply Knitting but they look like a pile of fluff at the moment so not worth photographing yet. And finally (well not quite but I'll leave the other UFOs for another day) a baby Pinwheel Jacket for Miranda. The Cotton was a bargain - 50p a ball and the whole cardigan will only take 2 balls.

Here's the center of it - it's really fiddly to start with and drove me mad. Would be easier to knit in wool or something else with some stretch. The red stripe is the waste yarn marking where the sleeve will go - the BEST thing aboout this cardigan is that there's no sewing up to do - when it's done it's done....

So don't forget, I'm looking for suggestions for socks that are fun to knit and great to wear.

Monday, 22 October 2007

The Best Thing about a Postal Strike

Is that all your packages arrive at once! Here at last is my Fall Felted Bag from my partner Penny Here's the HUGE bag she made for me and it's full of goodies! Question is, will my laptop fit inside?
You bet it will and Penny has sewn in an extra pocket on the inside which is exactly the right size for the mouse! Well done Penny, it's a really great, useful bag, thanks a million. But wait, Penny sent more...
The dark yarn you can't quite see is Hacho 100% Merino which is SO soft, Regia Bamboo and a thick single from DuraSport with some Canadian Kool-Aid for dyeing with. How fabulous is this? But wait there's more...
Clods (apparently addictive so I haven't opened them yet!) Cadbury's Dark Chocolate and some handcream(Penny, how did you know I had just finished my last tube?) And a really pretty beaded bag - isn't this lovely? Inside is a necklace and a pair of earrings which are beautiful but can I take a decent picture of them? No of course not. I'll keep trying though as you deserve to see them - they're great.
So thanks to my new friend in Canada who sent me a wonderful package that was definitely worth the wait. I love it all and don't worry I won't be giving any of it away Penny!!

Oh yeah, the worst thing about a Postal Strike? Is people who buy something from you on eBay (or via your website) in the middle of a Postal Strike and then complain that their parcel hasn't arrived..... Messages vary from ' bk not arrvd...problem? thnx' (I kid you not, people really do use text language to complain.) to the longwinded letter of meticulous complaint spanning several paragraphs. It's been impossible not to write sarcastic replies beginning with 'Yes, there's a problem - it's called a Postal Strike, it's beyond my control.' or ' You may not be aware but we have been having a series of Postal Strikes.....' I'm at the end of my tether with them and I don't think I can bear to write anymore replies.

Off to try and finish my Tilted Duster....

Saturday, 13 October 2007

SP11 First Package - How Lucky am I this week?

How I hate the Royal Mail - first they kept me and my Knit1Tea2 package apart for far too long and today I found out that they have also been 'storing' this fantastic hoard for me until they could get off their striking rear-ends for long enough to deliver some mail.....

My SP11 Pal is in Seattle - ooh Grey's Anatomy - and I have another clue as to her identity but I'm not going to try too hard to follow up on it as I don't want to know who she is just yet... Her package has a pink theme so here we have pink hand-made stitch markers, pink grapefruit soap and cherries covered in chocolate (they won't last long as cherries are my favourite fruit).

Next we have Loony Boony in very pale cream. SP11 says it's for Hanami - I have it on my Ravelry queue - I'm gonna have a hard time choosing which of my queue projects to do first!

But wait, there's more. I had said I wanted a pale pink Hanami to match the Japanese Cherry blossom so SP sent some hanks of undyed yarn and some Jaquard Dye in pink!! Now I can't decide whether to dye the yarn pale pink, dip dye the yarn so it's pink at one end and cream at the other or even to knit the Hanami and hand-dye the finished stole.... Decisions, Decisions....

And finally something I never thought that I would get to call my own - a SIGNED copy of this.
And it isn't just signed, it's dedicated TO ME by the Yarn Harlot herself. Wonder how early I can go to bed so I can read it?

Aren't I a lucky girl? Thank you, thank you whoever you are!

Knit 1 Tea 2 Package Arrived

Finally the Royal Mail is not on strike and manages to deliver some post.... My KnitOne TeaTwo package all the way from the US.

Here is the all important tea - I have never tried Black or Green Tea so those will be first to try next week. The Yorkshire Tea is packaged just a few miles away so it has been all the way to the US and back again!!
Next we have an ENORMOUS mug with beautiful flowers on it - definitely a real mug size, there is a rabbit tape measure, sheep magnet (my youngest has stolen it already!) and two bars of chocolate which I've never seen before. The chocolate will have to be hidden before the kids see it.
And if all that wasn't enough, then I have all natural soap and chocolate orange lip balm, a lovely card with an Owl on it and some hand made....wash cloths? They are far too soft to be coasters so unless Katie emails and tells me I'm wrong, I have decided that they are washcloths.

Why is it that Digital Cameras can't take decent pictures of anything red? This is Koigu (I have never seen it in the flesh before so I'm so pleased to have this yarn.) The colour on here looks purple and lilac but the actual yarn is shade P859 and is Dark Red. I didn't even use the flash and the camera still got it wrong. I'll have to try to edit the photo manually.
Anyway, a huge thank you to Katie who sent me all these lovely things and made a dismal Saturday much easier to bear.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Fall Felted Bag Exchange Weekly Topic

I may be too late on this one, but here we go....

As of this weekend, the season has officially changed on the calendar - but what makes Autumn feel like Autumn to you, and why?

Firstly, these - Autumn Bliss Raspberries. I grow them as bushes behind my garage and this is the first year I have had a full crop. They start Fruiting in September and will carry on until the first frosts come. If I'm picking these it must be Autumn.

I freeze them for puddings - cheesecake, cakes and crumbles. I make them into jam and cook them with sugar to make a sauce for my eldest son's Ice Cream.

There is also a large Damson tree in the garden which produces far more Damsons than I can use. This year I gave lots away to other people and there were still masses left.

And finally I also have one of these....

A Pear tree. I bought it when my eldest son was born in 1998 and it is planted in a very large pot so we can take it with us whenever we move house (three different places so far). Some years it produces nothing and others it is laden. This year was a good year and I will be poaching the pears in syrup and then freezing them. They get put into crumbles with Blueberries (I grow those too but they have finished fruiting by the end of August) or smothered in dark chocolate sauce. Nigella has just done a recipe for Pear and Ginger Muffins, so this year I will trying those.

For me, Autumn means fruit picking, jam making and freezing. Every day gets a little bit colder and every morning gets a little bit darker.

Monday, 1 October 2007

A Public Apology

I would like to write a public apology to my Secret Pall 11 Upstream pal for not blogging at the required level of 4 posts per month. My son has ADHD and is very ill at the moment - his meds are not working, my husband has lost his job so we have no salary to speak of and bills to pay. Please forgive me for not posting - Blogging is currently the last thing on my mind....

I am knitting though - in the spare moments I have. I was knitting a scarf for my downstream SP until I found out she doesn't like purple - project now on hold. I am knitting a Felted Bag for the Fall Felted Bag Exchange and it is almost ready to send out but of course I cannot blog the bag until my partner has received it. My favourite project of the moment is the Norah Gaughan Tilted Duster from Interweave Knits Fall 2007. I am using Drops Alaska in Dark Red and have completed the bodice and sleeves. When I can find the camera and charge the batteries - I will blog a picture of it. I got the yarn from this website and they were absolutely fantastic - not only is the yarn very reasonably priced but I got the yarn the day after I ordered it. FANTASTIC CUSTOMER SERVICE - if you are in the UK then please visit Scandinavian Knitting Design for DROPS and HP Love yarns.

I need to go now as it is 22:30pm and my son is still awake upstairs singing at the top of his voice. He is going to wake up his Brother and Sister in a minute!!

Friday, 14 September 2007

A Blatant Plug...

I make no apologies for doing this - I need to sell more from my website (see link on the right of this blog to and what could be nicer than a new Knitting Project Bag? Fairly Traded, all hand made in Madagascar from sustainable sources...every one of them is unique.

These are imaginatively called 'Polka' and also come in bright pink and in Lavender. Plenty of room in one of these for a good sized project and all your other belongings - take one to Knitting Group maybe? p.s. Kerrie Allman of Hipknits has one of the Chocolate Coloured ones....

This one is called 'Jacaranda' and is a LARGE basket for large projects (or your shopping). I love the design on the front , don't you?

How Eco-Friendly would you like to be? These Handbags are made from really soft woven hemp and each one has a hand-carved horn decoration on the front. No two bags are the same. These are also fully-lined and come with zipped pockets inside.

There are more details of sizes and prices here and if you are outside the UK and would like one of my lovely bags, please email me for Shipping Costs - sales [at] greengreenplanet [dot] com.
You can also find lots of other lovely eco-friendly, All Natural gifts and treats on the same Website at very good prices.

Plug over (for now, I may be forced to do this again sometime) now back to the Knitting/Dyeing/Felting......

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Interweave Knits Honeycomb Socks

From the Fall 2007 edition - this is one of the staff projects (you can download the pattern and 6 more toe-up patterns here Knitted in Silkwood 4 ply Sock Yarn, Bluebells colourway. The yarn is 100% wool and isn't particularly soft but the finished socks will be good for winter.
I like the colourway - all blues and purples - and the fact that this yarn produces subtle stripes and no pooling. Unfortunately there are 3 reasons I don't like the pattern. Firstly, the honeycomb stitch around the leg produces a tight fabric with little stretch and the sock is VERY difficult to put on as it won't stretch round my heel. Secondly, I don't like the fact that the honeycomb has the purl stitches in front, I prefer one with the knit stitches in front instead. Thirdly, I am a bit of a perfectionist and I don't like the way that the rib pattern on the foot morphs into the honeycomb stitch - the two patterns don't line up properly. (See photo 2) On the positive side, this is now the basis for a sock pattern of my own that really fits my foot....
Watch this space - this sock is going to be frogged back to the beginning of the leg and redone (in my opinion) properly.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

FFBE Contest

What is your favourite yarn for felting and why? I haven't done much felting, that's one of the reasons I joined this swap. So far my favourite is Noro Kureyon because I like the way it stripes during the knitting and they way they look after felting.

1 person not from the USA - Katie B is from New Brunswick, Canada - she is here.

1 person with a dog - Laurie D has a dog called Bailey - she is here.

1 person with a child - Tonia, she is here

Do you prefer October or November and why? November I think because it's usually colder and crisper than October which can be just horribly damp. I'm also a sucker for Guy Fawkes - Toffee Apples, Parkin, Tomato Soup drunk from a plastic cup next to a HUGE bonfire and best of all - the fireworks. I love fireworks!

Monday, 27 August 2007

Holiday Stress.....

I don't know why I do it, but I do it every year and regret it....I'm talking about going on holiday with my family - 3 kids and an ADHD husband plus (this year only - I've promised myself) my Mother.

About a week before we go the stress level starts to rise as I try to wash, iron and pack for 3 children plus myself. This being England, it could rain, hail, snow, shine, blow a hurricane or any combination of the above; I have also known it to be three of those IN ONE DAY. This means I need to pack 3 times the amount of clothes that you would normally take on holiday - waterproof clothes, hot weather clothes, beach wear, fleeces and wellies, smartish clothes to go out for a meal, scruffy clothes for Rock-Pooling in the rain.....the list of possibilities seems endless.

All this packing has to be done at the last minute since they don't have a lot of clothes so, unless I let them wander round in pyjamas for 3 days, I can only finalise the packing the day before we go.

After I've finished with the children's packing I have to start on mine. Same problem as before - 'What shall I take? Will it rain, snow or shine?' coupled with the questions 'Will this fit? Will my bum look big in this?' I haul my summer clothes out of storage and commence a mammoth 'trying on' session in front of a full length mirror. Anything that looks too grim is relegated to the floor. Two hours later I am left with what I think they call a 'capsule wardrobe' aka 'the only clothes that fit and don't look too bad'.

Then there are all the 'must haves' that my children can't last the week without - surf boards, buckets, spades, books, games, story tapes, DVDs etc etc and they can't possibly share any of it so everything is times 2 (or sometimes 3 if the littlest one sees what the other two have got). Before very long there is a HUGE pile of suitcases, bags and equipment stacked on the living room floor. My husband sees the pile and says - 'How come the pile is bigger than the size of our boot? It's not going to fit in'. Two boys start shouting and crying because they can't go on holiday without <<.....insert name of any object here......>>

Dammit - I've forgotten to book the Mother has said she will babysit one night provided I book a meal in a REALLY nice restaurant so she can go out one night too. There is more than one Michelin Starred restaurant in Cornwall but most of them are fully booked, finally manage to get a table in a restaurant that will be swanky enough and then have to start the process all over again to book a 'last night' meal for the 6 of us. The restaurant can only fit us in at 5:30pm or 6pm which is a lot earlier than I like and means dragging the kids off the beach at 4pm....Note to self: book restaurants for next year's holiday in February to ensure satisfactory choice of restaurant and dining time.

By some miracle the whole kit and caboodle is ready by 10pm Thursday and we open the wine. It takes us until 10am the next morning to actually fit it all into the car - we have a large Saab estate and it is full to the brim by the time we set off. I have about 6 inches of leg room and not enough space to knit or even to find a book, I am also bored of playing 'I Spy' by the time we reach the motorway.

Another note for next year - TAKE LESS STUFF.

Part 2 - The Holiday

Friday - Plymouth: Raining
You don't want to see a picture of Plymouth in the rain surely.

Saturday - Truro:Raining
Didn't take any photos of Truro in the rain either but here are two happy boys in their holiday bedroom.

Sunday - St Michael's Mount: Not Raining but blowing a Gale, Grey Skies and Freezing Cold.

Monday - Portreath: Hail, Wind, Sunny Spells - here is one of the sunny spells.

Tuesday - St Ives, Porthminster Beach - At last the sun comes out

Wednesday - St Austell, The Eden Project - Sunshine and Clouds

Thursday - Portreath Again: Very Windy but also sunny.

Here is King Canute, failing to hold back the tide .

Friday - Lappa Valley - Cloudy, Sunny and Windy

And that 'last night' meal - here's my Princess enjoying her Pasta Bolognese.

Saturday - Portreath for the Last Time: Roasting

ADHD Husband forgot the sun was shining and forgot to put any suncream on - he came home looking like a lobster!

Part 3 - Post-Holiday Stress

We always do the journey south in two parts, staying over night in Plymouth to break up the journey. But for some reason we never break the journey back and try to do it in one long slog. Because we had stayed on the beach until 4pm, it was almost midnight when we got home. The kids had no clue what time of day or night it was and all refused to go to bed, we adults we desperate for sleep but they wanted to watch Cartoon Network all night...

Now comes the fun part - unload the car, hoover up half a ton of sand, wash suncream/ice cream/juice and God knows what off the seats and carpets, clean the sticky hand prints off all the windows, door handles and buttons. I unpack all the bags and suitcases onto the kitchen floor only to find that they all have another half ton of sand in them - there is now a mini-beach on the floor. Make a small mountain (and I mean a mountain, it's bigger than my two year old) of washing and stack another pile of toys, books, unworn clothes etc at the bottom of the stairs. How the hell did all of this fit in the car? and why did we take it?

No-one has any clean clothes to wear so for the next two days the kids wear pyjamas and things that don't fit. I do 11 loads of washing and then iron it all, fold it and put it all away. I'm completely shattered - I need a holiday

Oh yeah and holiday knitting? I completed ONE SOCK TOE in 12 days.
I'll be back when I have the energy to type.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Fall Felted Bag Exchange

Have signed up for this one to help me (hopefully) bust my (very small) are my questionnaire answers.

How long have you been knitting or crocheting? How did you learn? or from whom?

I knit and crochet and have been doing it for almost 30 years. My mother taught me to knit dishcloths and I learned most of the more advanced skills from books and patterns. My teacher taught me to crochet when I was 9.

What was your first felted object, and why did you decide to try felting?

I felted a 'One Skein Bag' using Noro Silk Garden. I decided to try it because I had seen such lovely things on other people's Blogs and I like to try new techniques whenever I can.

What are your favorite colors? Any you hate?

My favourite colours are Blue, Purple, Baby Pink, Slate Grey. I hate acid bright colours - hot pink, lime, yellow, orange etc.

What are your favorite styles\types of bags? (Long straps? Short handles? Handbags? Totes? Embellished? Plain? Include links to patterns or photos if you’d like – give your pal an idea of what you enjoy!)

I like bags that are very practical as I tend to use them for storage or for knitting 'on the move'. So short handled totes, messenger bags, laptop bags, craft bags - embellished or plain. I am on Ravelry - ID =BatOutOfHell and have linked to some bag patterns on there. Other than that I like almost all Noni bags especially the embellished ones. I have the pattern for the Lattice but haven't been brave enough to try it yet.

What handbag or bag are you carrying today? Do you use a separate bag to carry your knitting?

I only have ONE bag - it's a black leather one that carries lots of 'stuff' for my 3 children. My knitting gets to travel in a plastic carrier bag or a paper grocery type bag with handles!!

What other things do you enjoy knitting or crocheting?

Jumpers, cardigans, wraps and socks are my projects of choice.

What sort of needles do you enjoy working with? (straights vs circs, bamboo vs aluminum)

Straight for most things, like metal needles as they feel much sturdier. I use circs for knitting sweaters in the round and for large projects that won't fit on straights e.g. shawls. I knit socks with dpns - I only have metal ones and have never tried anything else.

What’s one project you’ve not yet tried but are dying to make?


What’s one yarn you’ve not yet tried but are dying to work with?

Koigu PPPM

What other hobbies do you have? Do you spin? Sew? Garden?

I love dyeing yarn and finished projects especially hand-painting them. I sew bags, scrap quilts, clothes and soft furnishings whenever I get the time. I have a large garden and don't get anywhere near enough time to look after it properly.

Besides yarn, do you collect anything?


What kind of goodies do you enjoy? Sweets? Salty? Anything you hate or are allergic to?

I have a huge Sweet Tooth and like anything sweet EXCEPT toffee. I hate nuts, aniseed and liquorice.

Do you have any kiddos? (Furry kind count!)

3 children - elder son aged 9.5, younger son aged 5, daughter aged 2. No pets (yet!)

What kind of project best personifies you and why?

Tricky one...anything unusual in terms of construction or design. I like to be different and don't follow the crowd if I can help it.

What is your favorite part of Autumn? You can also share a special Autumn memory if you'd prefer!

I love the colours of the leaves more than anything else and have memories from my childhood of kicking through HUGE piles of them on my way to school. By the time I got there I had leaves stuck to my socks all the way up to my knees.

Tell us 3 things you would do if you won 10 million dollars in the lottery.

Pay off my mortgage and other debts.

Buy some new clothes for my husband and then for me.

Take a 'Round the World' trip to Peru, Mauritius, Madagascar, New Zealand and a few more places besides.

Some Finished Objects At Last!!!

First we have Rowan Glade from the Spring Edition of 'Simply Knitting'. This was easily the worst pattern I have ever knitted - I had to make so many modifications to the pattern to get it to fit. The fronts are knitted at a Size 14, the back at a Size 10. I had to remove the frills on the end of the sleeves because a) they were past my fingertips - not very practical and b) I ran out of yarn and this shade is discontinued. I also crocheted an edging as I didn't like the idea of knitting one 5 stitched wide and 230 rows long and then sewing it on - yuk!
I don't know whether to be pleased with it or not - it took so much effort that I can hardly bear to wear it. Oh yes and I've decided I also don't like knitting with cotton so, once my balls of Rowan Cotton Glace have been used up, I won't be buying any more.

And here is the obligatory - foot/leg/sock shot that everyone else's blog seems to have. This is a Lucy Neatby Fiesta Feet sock (I have actually completed the pair of them). Knitted in Panda Wool (Cream) and Panda Cotton (Fruit Salad). Had to use the cotton because they don't do the Panda Wool in Fruit Salad but as it is blended with nylon, the yarn is very elastic and not like the dreaded cotton at all.
I loved every minute of this pattern - it's a challenging knit that produces a lovely comfy sock. I'll be knitting it again but next time will make a few pattern modifications....

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Fall Felted Bag Exchange

I have been thinking about felting bags since I took up knitting again - this is something new that seems to have sprung out of nowhere whilst I have 'been away'. I am not a handbag kind of gal (I've said that many times before, sorry if I'm boring you with it now) but I do use them for storing my knitting, craft projects, shopping etc.

I think I'll be signing up to this swap. If you want to join in - sign-ups start August 15th.

Friday, 10 August 2007

SP11 Questionnaire

Here are my answers for this round and here are my answers for SP10 just so you can see how much I've changed in the last few months!

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?
Wool is my absolute favourite, Merino or wool mixed with something like silk or Alpaca to make it soft.
What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
Mohair makes me itch. I don't like eyelash yarns either.
2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I have a zip-up case that my husband bought me years and years ago. It contains a full set of metal 30cm needles from 3mm to 6mm. My fabulous SP10 pal WanderlustKnits made me a needle case and in it I keep the Namaste Glass Needles she gave me and the thicker needles. Hooks and Circular needles get thrown into whatever I can find - they don't have a special place.
3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
My mother taught me when I was about 9 with dishcloth string and a pair of wooden needles. I think I am an advanced knitter and I love a challenge.
4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
I have an Amazon wish list and an Angel Yarns wish list too! I'm not expecting my SP to send ANY of these things but at least it gives an idea of the kinds of yarns, patterns and colours I like.
5. What's your favorite scent?
I wear Anais Anais but I like the smell of Freesia and Lilies.
6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I have the worst sweet tooth in the Western World. I love chocolate especially Plain Chocolate and I also like it with 'additions' like cherries, orange, mint, raisins etc. I HATE NUTS. I love old-fashioned English boiled sweets (hard candy I think in the US) my favourites are 'Rhubarb and Custard' and 'Yorkshire Mixture', Pineapple Cubes and Cherry Drops.
7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I like to sew (with a machine) and make bags, clothes, scrap quilts, soft furnishings etc. I like to draw and paint but don't get the time. My current obsession is dyeing and I would love to try the new ranges of 'Natural Dyes' that are appearing. I don't spin and don't really want to!
8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I like all sorts of music - Queen, Genesis, Meatloaf oh and somebody's Blog reminded me about the Cocteau Twins the other day and so I found myself rummaging through boxes of old records... I remembered then that I like The Smiths, The Cure and a load of other Indie Bands from the late 1980s.
9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
My favourite colours are Blue, Cherry Red, Dark Purple and Pale Pink. I just can't stand fuchsia pink, orange or any other acid bright colour.
10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I am married with 3 children, no pets.
11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I wear scarves/wraps/stoles.
12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
I knit jumpers and cardigans the most but I also enjoy socks.
13. What are you knitting right now?
I am finishing up Glade and then will be finishing Mystery Stole 3 before starting on a pair of socks, probably Pomatomus.
14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I prefer straight needles for most things but really like knitting sweaters in the round on circulars. I own one pair of glass needles which are great - the rest are all metal.
16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
I own a swift (my fab SP10 AGAIN) but am currently borrowing a ball winder from a friend.
17. How old is your oldest UFO?
I have been trying to knit Glade since April - I just have to sew it up now!
18. What is your favorite holiday?
19. Is there anything that you collect?
20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
Where do I start? Loads of books are on my Amazon Wish List. I would love to try Louet or Koigu. I have a long list of Patterns that I love on Ravelry - probably too many for me ever to finish knitting them all. I have subs to Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits but these only started recently - Vogue with the Capecho issue (think it's Winter 2006) and Interweave with Spring 2007. I'm always happy to have back issues especially second-hand ones. I like the look of Interweave Crochet but have never seen an issue 'in the flesh'.
21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Hairpin Lace
22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
More of a sock knitter than I was a few months ago - I do enjoy knitting them but I like to keep a mix of projects going. I have a UK size 5.5 foot, if you need other measurements then please ask!
23. When is your birthday?
December (after the swap has finished!)
24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?
YES, I love Ravelry and have been spending far too much time on it these last few weeks. My ID is BatOutOfHell.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Knit 1 Tea 2 Color Swap Questionnaire

I wasn't put off by the disastrous Dye-No-Mite swap - I've signed up for this one so I can spread the word about Scones globally.... Sign-ups are still open, get yourself over there and join in!

Here's my questionnaire answers:-

Do you like loose tea or bags, or both – something you want to try?
Bags please - loose tea makes far too much mess!!

What is your favorite kind of tea (Brand, flavor, variety, etc)?
For everyday drinking - Taylor's Yorkshire Tea. This is a blend of Indian teas specially made for the hard water found in most of Yorkshire.

Favorite color in regards to tea or one you would like to try? (black, green, red, and white) (keeping in mind that this is how this swap is set up).
Black is my favourite but I'm willing to try other kinds....

Would you say you were a tea pot kind of person or just a hot water heater kind?
What the heck is a hot water heater? We Brits have electric kettles with which to ensure our water is properly boiled! I am too lazy to use a teapot for one person and just pour boiling water on a teabag in the mug.

What tea accessories would you like but have never purchased for yourself?
I've always wanted a traditional English teapot actually - we only have one of those fancy glass Bodum ones.

How do you prefer to be pampered? (examples: mani/pedi, bubble bath, yummy treat, etc).
Manicures, long bubble baths, chocolate.

If you were a kind of yarn what would you be and why?
Well I'd like to be a slim 4 ply but in reality I'm more like a light weight Aran (worsted). Definitely a one off hand-painted colourway though with many different hues - unexpected or unconventional - the kind of colourway that makes you look at it in the yarn shop.

If you had to knit/crochet baby booties, a fun fur scarf, or a fair isle sweater, which would you choose and why?
A Fair-isle jumper because it's complicated and interesting to knit. Satisfying when it's finished and will last a lifetime if you take care of it.

What other event would make you skip a tea party? (A garden party? A book club meeting? A yoga class? Opening night for a new action thriller? etc?)
I wouldn't skip something I'd been invited to but I would go to any of the above if it meant getting a few hours away from the children and the house!

What treat would you consider essential at your tea party? (Sweet? Salty? Scones? Those petite pastry trays with a couple of all sorts of things? Little crust less sandwiches?)
A 3 tier Cake Stand a bit like this. The bottom tier is for crustless sandwiches, the middle tier is for Scones or other Savoury items and the top is for the sweet pastries and cakes - I like handmade mini chocolate eclairs best.
Unfortunately the one I have has only two tiers so I don't bother with the sandwiches!

When buying yarn for a project how do you choose - do you buy the one called for or do you substitute?
I buy the specified yarn if I can, otherwise I use Yarndex and substitute like mad especially for something cheaper!

What do you carry your knitting/crocheting in when on the go?
Plastic Bags, brown paper bags - anything to keep the project and yarn clean.

Favorite movie to watch while knitting/crocheting?

Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or anything I've seen many times before so I don't have to watch it properly. (I can't knit anything other than stocking stitch without looking at the knitting).

Are you a traditional tea cup kind of person or a mug type of person? Do you care if they match?
I like mugs because you get more tea and that also means that the tea stays hotter for longer. My pet hate is lukewarm tea.

Favorite childhood birthday party?
I can only remember having ONE childhood birthday party and it wasn't exactly a success - probably best forgotten in fact. Let's not go there.....

Favorite type of scone and jam?

Classic English All Butter Scone - no fancy additions. Raspberry jam is my favourite even though Cream Teas here always come with Strawberry.

If you use candles, what is your favorite scent?
Citrus - lemon, lime, grapefruit, mandarin - that kind of refreshing smell.

If you could choose 3 people to have 'tea' with, who would they be and why? (famous or not, living or dead).
Margaret Thatcher, Stephen Hawking and Patrick Stewart (yes that's right Jean-Luc Picard!). Perhaps not all at the same time - Patrick Stewart supports Tony Blair....

You've been invited to a tea party, what 'props' will you wear (formal or casual)?
Well I'd have to wear a 'tea dress' and a little cardigan over the top!

Any allergies/preferences you have or are willing to admit to?
I find Mohair very difficult to wear as it makes me itch. No real allergies although I do ABSOLUTELY HATE nuts.

Anything we missed that you want your pal to know?
Don't think so - my pal can always ask me!!

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

And the Winner is....

As you might be able to see in the photo, Thomas' rain collector collected 2.7 inches or 66mm of rain during La Tour. The official weather station for our village recorded 91mm so some of the rain must have been horizontal and didn't make it in to our tube!!!

Well done Phoebe - you get to choose one of the following as your prize!

Washed and Softened Recycled Sari Silk - 200g, enough for a tote, shawl or scarf.

Schaefer Ann Sock Yarn (not a bad likeness of the colour on my monitor as least) Merino/Mohair/Nylon blend.

500g of Green & Blacks Organic Chocolate in any of these flavours.

Or a copy of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Almanac (new copy).

Thanks to everyone for joining in, the kids enjoyed watching the rain and counting up the days and the Weather Station is now permanently attached to our fence post!

The winner of La Lanterne Rouge is 5elementknitr
and she wins Une Parapluie! Let's hope she has some use for it over there in Colorado (or perhaps she can take it on holiday with her to somewhere wetter).

Tour De France KAL

I can't quite decide whether to be proud or not, after all 'Skin of the Sea' is still in a ball awaiting a decision on over-dyeing, hand painting or 'try another colourway instead'. The back of Glade is up to its armpits but no further and I am a few (about 15) rows off completing Clue 4 of MS3. I've worked on this so hard that I have RSI in my right hand again so even though it isn't quite there yet, I'm taking a break from it until after Clue 5 comes out .
I was right about it being a boring slog - all those repetitive motifs in the middle and the cable motif up the sides which I still need to refer to the chart for...... the pattern should change for the next clue so I'm looking forward to Friday and finding out the theme and what that lifeline's for.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Le Competition

Number of days on which it has rained during the tour


There are two people with the correct answer - Debby and Phoebe.
Here is your tie-break question (you can all join in!) - How much rain fell on my house during La TDF? Answer in Millimetres or Inches whichever you prefer - nearest answer gets the prize.
Clue: it was ALOT - over 2 inches/50mm but we weren't flooded so don't go over the top with your guess!

Friday, 27 July 2007

Mystery Stole 3 Update!

Clue 3 is now finished. Now for the boring slog up clue 4 - unfortunately I saw a picture of a Clue 4 stole on somebody's blog and I know from the photo and also from looking at the Chart, that this is where it gets repetitive. There is some Mystery left in the Mystery Stole however, we have have been instructed to put in a lifeline at row 287 which is in the middle of clue 4. Nobody know why and we've got to wait until at least August 4th to find out!
Glade has reached the armhole shaping so who knows, I may be able to sprint my way to half a Glade and Half a Stole by the time les cyclists arrivent a L'Arc de Triomphe a dimanche!!!

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Picked up the Needles again....

the knitting diet lasted about as long as one of my 'normal' diets and as soon as I could park the kids in front of a DVD, out they came. Glade is now 35 rows tall and as soon as they go to bed, MS3 will come out of its plastic bag. Tonight I will knit until my eyes close for tomorrow I have another day of 'Mommy Hell' to face - 3 children and the school holidays!

P.S. On the subject of Swap Etiquette...
If your swap partner failed to send you anything at all in a swap and you happened to find out who she was, would you a) 'name and shame' her on your blog b) boil quietly and wait for Universal Karma to restore the balance or c) something else? Your input would be appreciated - I just can't decide how long to be English and Polite!

Not Much Knitting Going On

Because of this...... Miranda was 2 on the 24th of July and here she is after her 'party' in Pizza Hut (her favourite food after chocolate) opening her presents. No Knitting needles were picked up in honour of her birthday.... Tour de France KAL you will have to wait until tomorrow.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Tour De France Mystery Stole

I just can't face re-knitting the back of that Glade so here is my new Tour De France project - Mystery Stole 3! I know I've started very very late but here I am at the end of Clue 2 now. It's easy enough to knit but it can't be done at the same time as looking after children as they interrupt my counting.... Hoping to start clue 3 tonight and be caught up to the rest of the group by the time the next clue is out on August 4th.
Knitted in Jaggerspun Zephyr Wool/Silk in Ebony colourway with size 8 beads that I am now threading on using the 'dental floss' method but using thread instead of dental floss!!!
Wish me luck!

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Ribbit Ribbit

It seems a little frivolous to be laughing at the number of days it has rained when people have been evacuated from their homes, trapped in their cars overnight on the Motorway and had their holidays ruined.....but the rain just doesn't want to stop - it's raining as I write this. There were two days this week without rain and we managed to get the grass cut and I got sunburnt but on Friday the rain started all over again and it hasn't stopped since......

As far as Le Tour is concerned 'Les grenouilles sont arrivee encore!' I completed the back of Glade and whip stitched it to the two fronts to check for fit. It's a good size and length and I'm happy with the sizing. Unfortunately I had forgotten that cotton doesn't knit up neatly after it has been frogged and the stitch sizes were horribly uneven. So, reluctantly, I frogged the back for the second time, skeined up the yarn and dampened it. Now the skein is dry and straight and 'all' I need to do is knit the back for the third time. I'd better get cracking - I've only got a week and at this rate I'll finish Le Tour with NO finished objects to show for my trouble. To add to all that, the postman just delivered Harry Potter...............

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Are you getting 'antsy' waiting for Ravelry?

then check here and you can see exactly where you are in the list..... I only have 384 people ahead of me in the queue and they send out about 1200 invites a week so I should be getting my invite SOON!!!!!

Monday, 16 July 2007

Back in the Race

Betcha any money I don't win a prize in the TDF KAL draw this week but I'll keep mentioning the knitalong and keep hoping that as I'm offering such LOVELY prizes in my competition, the yarn fairies will smile on me and I'll finally win something....
This weekend I wasted a whole day trying to dye the silk for my 'Skin of the Sea' only to discover that neither Food Grade nor Acid dyes will give strong colours on silk - what I need are Cold Water Reactive dyes so 'Skin of the Sea' will have to wait until I get hold of some.
So I decided to find an 'old bike' aka Glade and finish it.

Here's the story so far - I knitted the fronts, back and both sleeves in record time before reading about all the problems other knitters were having with gauge, getting the edging to fit and using too much yarn. I blocked and measured and measured again and weighed the yarn I had left. Conclusion? My tension had loosened after blocking so my pieces were too big, the length of the arms was way too long and I wasn't going to have enough yarn to finish.... I frogged the back piece and put Glade in a plastic bag upstairs.

I had already endured one evening with no knitting and it was terrible - I suffered real withdrawal symptoms and drank too much alcohol. Glade was resurrected on Friday 13th and I have re-knitted almost the whole back. This time I am knitting two sizes smaller to compensate for my tension and I was hoping that this would also generate some extra yarn with which to complete the edging. Looks like I was wrong..... The amount of extra yarn required for a Size 14 vs a Size 10 is almost zilch so I will have to consider a) frogging the sleeves and knitting them shorter (at least that way they won't be too long) and/or b) shortening the edging on the sleeves so as to use less yarn.

Either way Glade could take until the end of the Tour de France to complete so it is now my official Green Jersey project. I will also be dyeing my silk though and my Zephyr Laceweight has arrived so I must catch up with Mystery Stole 3 - there is no clue this Friday in honour of Harry Potter and although I pre-ordered my copy and it will be delivered on SATURDAY morning ( if the Royal Mail decide to deliver on time this week of course) I must take advantage of the spare week to catch up. With all these projects on the go maybe I should swap to 'King of the Mountains' group instead...
Keep checking back - the competition statistics are updated daily along with a new photo every time I take one that's amusing or interesting enough to warrant being posted.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

I Think I've Crashed.....

Allow me to start at the beginning (that's a very fine place to start....)

I ordered this - Aran Weight 100% Silk - Colourway - Vibrant - just look at those wonderful rich colours; a deep red, pale aqua, a little dark orange and maybe some grey/purple. Breathtaking.

I received this.....

Yes I know the photo is upside down but you can see what the colours are like can't you; Bright Orange, Fuschia Pink, Purple and Blue. That orange is scary. I rewound one skein to see if I could make it less scary....

Well that's a whole lot less scary now, in fact it looks great, I'm going to join the Tour De France KAL and knit a Skin of the Sea waistcoat - won't I be the bee's knees in it????

Last night at 10pm I finished the back of the waistcoat, I'd used less than one skein so I was feeling pretty damn smug. Not only was I going to finish way ahead of those pesky cyclists but I was even going to have enough yarn!!! THEN.... oh b*******ks (and lots of other words that are far too rude to type here) There was a mistake in my knitting.

Now really ladies, this mistake is huge, I mean HUGE and you can plainly see it on the last photo I posted - so why didn't any of you tell me before I carried on knitting?? Call yourselves knitters? Can't you see what I've done???? The knitting was banished to the back of the sofa for the rest of the night under the 'Sleep On It' rule of frogging decisions. When I saw it again this morning I just knew I couldn't live with the mistake - it has to be ripped, frogged, undone or whatever.

And another thing, I just can't wear these colours. I held it up against my face and against black and against white and I held it this way and that way but the bottom line is:- I just can't wear these colours - it needs to be more like the photo on the website, I just can't tolerate fuschia pink and orange.

So I've really crashed my bike - now the decision I have to make is this; Do I try to repair my Bike and get back on to finish the race (aka overdye the skeins to make something more acceptable) or do I Buy a new bike (aka start a new project for the KAL). What shall I do???

P.S. Yes it really has rained every day since the Tour started. So far 3 people (including you Meg!) are out of the running and there are still 31 of you still in the race. Keep checking the blog - the top post gets updated every day!!