Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Knitters Treat Exchange

I must be mad, having just written about how little spare time I have, I've signed up for a 3rd swap - this will have to be the last one until one of them ends. It's Knitters Treat Exchange and here are the answers to their questionnaire.

1. What's your favourite type of yarn? Anything woolly - alpaca, cashmere, lambswool.
2. What's your least favourite type of yarn? Eyelash or any of those strange acrylic 'novelty yarns'.
3. What's the first thing you do when you visit a new yarn shop? Look in the bargain basket.
4. What other crafts do you do / would like to do? I do knitting, crochet, dressmaking, embroidery, card making, origami - hundreds of things really, depending on what takes my fancy. I'm looking for ways to use up my HUGE stash of fabrics and leftovers so I might make Bags or Quilts next.
5. What magazines do you currently subscribe to? Interweave Knits and Vogue Knitting
6. Put this type of magazine in order of preference:
Other Craft
Celebrity Gossip
7. What items do you like to knit / crochet? I like to knit items that you can't find in the shops so I won't waste my time on plain jumpers and cardigans - I knit things in the round or sideways or with unusual construction/patterns that you couldn't get in Marks & Spencers. I also like a challenge so I like to knit things that are really tricky and need concentration, that way I find myself thinking about the knitting and not about all the other c**p in my life.
8. Are you allergic to anything? No
9. What do you like to* smell of?(*This is not a typo. The question is: What do you like to smell of) I like to smell of nothing but my husband likes me to smell of Anais Anais or Angel or Coconut Body Butter!!
10. What's your favourite way to relax? Reading in a quiet room, preferably for several hours at time with chocolate or cake and mugs of tea.
11. You're stood in front of a Victorian style sweetshop, an Italian cafe, an old fashioned bakery and a dainty tea room. Where do you go first? Am I on my own or with 3 screaming kids? If I'm on my own I'd go the sweetshop, if I'm with the rest of the family then I'd go in the Bakery.
12. What do you come out with? From the sweetshop I would buy Rhubarb & Custard, Tooty Frooties, Pineapple Chunks, Pear Drops and Yorkshire Mixture (you'd have to be British to understand any of that!!!) They're all the sweets I would buy from the sweet shop on the way home from school - 2 ounces at a time and sucked very slowly to make them last the whole bus ride.
13. Where do you go next? In the Italian Cafe for Latte and a sticky bun. (Oh and a read of the paper or perhaps several papers......)
14. Any other words of wisdom for your pal? Happiness is not a destination but a mode of travel. (Apparently)

Not Enough Time to Go Round

Well there isn't, is there? On Friday mornings I do the Supermarket shop with my daughter, Friday Afternoons I try to find some child centred activity for the two youngest. Saturdays we do Family Shopping (clothes, shoes etc) and housework. Sundays we do Car Boots, Sunday Market and Family Outings. There's no time to go near the computer let alone pick up the needles so hobbies seem to be limited to Monday to Friday Evenings once the kids have gone to bed.
Having spent Friday afternoon trying to keep the two children amused, by teatime my daughter was vomiting violently and I was trying to keep up with the cleaning up. By bedtime I had a car and 3 car seats, 3 lots of clothes, 1 lot of pyjamas, two sheets and a blanket to be cleaned - YUK.
Spent Saturday morning cleaning the stinky car and seats and then left the kids to clean the outside with buckets and sponges.
By Sunday teatime Son No. 2 was vomiting violently and then I had to clean up 2 carpets, 1 bathroom, 1 duvet & cover, 1 sheet, 2 pillows, 3 lots of clothes and dozens of towels that I used to clean up with. By bedtime I was throwing up violently too, but I'm a grown-up and I can get to the bathroom in time so no extra cleaning required!!
By Monday morning I had run out of clean sheets, duvet covers and towels and had to phone my Mum to come and help with the clearing up as I was too ill to even think about it. Fortunately she came, even though she lives 2 hrs drive away, and did the cleaning and most of the washing for me whilst I lay, feeling abysmal, on the sofa.

So after all that - no knitting, no hobbies of any kind. Just cleaning, washing, ironing and more cleaning. Tomorrow they are all going back to Nursery and God help anyone who is sick tonight!!

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Popcorn Bear

He's finally finished. I bought this kit after falling in love with him on QVC and wanted to give him to my daughter when she was born as he comes with a little Adoption Certificate that you can fill in. Needless the say, the knitting part got done really quickly but I left the dreaded sewing up for months.

My daughter is now 20 months old and Popcorn bear is finally finished - here he is and he looks so cute that I have now added him to some of the pictures on my website as a kind of Mascot.

I think I need to trim the fur around the eyes a bit don't you?

On a technical note - knitting with the eyelash yarn was horrible as I couldn't see the increases and decreases clearly enough - even counting the rows was difficult. I don't normally use row counters or stitch markers but if I ever do anything in this kind of yarn again, I'm going to use both. I can't tell you how many times I dropped stitches and couldn't find them, nor how many times I lost count of the row number and had to start the piece again!! Still he's really cute and has his own little blankie to cuddle too!!

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Signed up for another swap!!

I have 2007 Knit-Alongs and Swaps set up as a feed into my Blog Reader as I want to do more swapping. I've joined an Easter themed magic yarn ball swap as it sounded fun and a little different to SP10. Here are the answers to the swap's Questionnaire (i thought it might help my SP10 Pal a little!!!)

My favorite colors - Blue, Pale Pink, Cherry Red, Aqua, Emerald Green, Slate Grey, Purple. I hate acid, bright and neon colours.

My hobbies - well knitting, reading and I'd really like to spend more time gardening but it's son cold and windy here that I'd rather stay indoors instead.

My kitchen theme and colors - I don't do themed rooms but my kitchen has pale cream cupboards, slate floor and black granite worktops. Stainless Steel appliances & cream walls. Does that help?

My bathroom theme and colors - our en-suite bathroom is limestone so pale yellow/beige/cream and it has a chocolate tiled border and chrome fixtures.

My dislikes - nuts, fish, loud noises, argumentative people, trashy TV.

My crafts - knitting crochet, origami, card-making, painting, drawing, dressmaking, soft-furnishings, baking cakes.
My allergies - none.

My favorite pets - grew up with 3 dogs and 13 cats so I don't dislike animals but I would NEVER have another one in my house again!!

My favorite scents - Freesia, Lilies, Jasmine, Hyacinth.

Other stuff about me - i would like to fill my life with more.....
Silence (my kids make too much noise)
Tidiness (my cluttered house makes me depressed)
Plants (I find them very restful and they are always grateful for tender loving care)
Chocolate (can't get enough of it, so long as it doesn't have any nuts in it)
Books (but I really shouldn't get any more)
Beautiful Things (especially if I have made them myself)

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Mason-Dixon Knitting

Yeah I know, I said I wasn't going to get any more books but we needed a map for our holiday and to save on shipping costs from Amazon I had to order another book. (well I didn't HAVE to but it seemed a shame not to) I ordered Mason Dixon Knitting and I'm glad I did, although it wasn't cheap!
When I first opened it I thought I'd made a huge mistake and that it was going to have to go back but when I settled down later with a cup of tea and looked more carefully, I found that I couldn't stop looking at it. Now I'm not a knitted dishcloth kinda gal really. I mean who on earth would sit and knit a dishcloth - that's what J-Cloths were invented for, and anyway we have a dishwasher so cloths are used for cleaning not dishwashing, but I still enjoyed looking at the dishcloths they had knitted (and the knitted towels? well for goodness sake who needs them!!)

So having thought it was going to be way too shabby chic for my tastes, I kept going and I found that I enjoyed the banter and the style of the storytelling so I carried on reading. Then I got to the bit about knitted quilts and that was much better - It was something totally new for me, I'd never really thought about making a blanket the way they described it and it looks like fun.

There is plenty to read and lovely pictures to drool over and out of this book I will probably make:-
The Baby Kimono (but larger for my 20 month old) - I love things knitted all in one piece cuff to cuff.
The Decorated Denim Jacket (also for my 20 month old daughter but I'm tempted to decorate my own now too!)
A Tilted Log Cabin Blanket (not sure what I'll do with it but it looks so beautiful) .

Things I DEFINITELY WON'T be knitting are the Dishcloths, Hand Towels, Washcloths and Baby Bibs - far too utilitarian and no fun to knit either.

Other projects and photos in the book have inspired me to research other Knitting Designers and Websites so this book will keep me going for a while yet. I'm glad I bought it, I didn't need another knitting book but this one is more fun than a pattern book and I know I'll be keeping it and reading it again and again.

Retail Therapy

I mentioned that I was going for some Retail Therapy .... I drove to the nearest place with not 1 but 3 (!!!) Yarn Shops and forced myself to browse around the whole shop in each case rather than just doing a quick recce. As a result I was tempted into buying two more skeins of Noro Silk Garden (well they were in the Reduced Basket so who could resist), a packet of seed beads to embellish the Ella Shawl, a Knitting Needle Gauge because I've found a pile of needles with no size marked on them and a whole stack of ideas for my Secret Pal.

Have decided that Yarn as a gift is going to be tricky as I don't have a big stash of yarn anymore - it all got put into the blanket. Quality yarn (as preferred by my Secret Pal) is expensive and takes up a large portion of the suggested budget so I've decided to go down the 'Spoiling' route and have come up with a long list of lovely 'nice to have' things that you probably wouldn't buy yourself AND they fit better with the budget. It's a shame I can't say any more to help any fellow SP10ers who are also struggling to come up with suitable suggestions. Perhaps I'll put some photos and lists up when it's finished.

Ella Shawl Update

I've finished the first 25g skein of yarn and pinned it out to see if I could make a decision as to its fate.. Here is a close-up of the overall effect.

I can't quite get the correct colour on the screen - in real life the pink colour is darker and contains colour variations within in but I'm sure you get the idea. Here is a close-up of an area I really like where the colours have mixed beautifully.

I think that's really, really pretty. However, this yarn has teeth - here are two close-ups of areas where it is pooling. One pool is grey and the other pink.Hmmm what to do about it? Can't see myself knitting from two skeins really as the edge is too delicate to carry the yarns up and I hate the thought of weaving hundreds of ends in.

So tonight I'm going to wind the other skein into a ball and get the crochet hook out to see if I can come up with a more forgiving lace pattern.

Birthday Boy!!

Nothing to do with Knitting - here's the Birthday Boy - Son No.1 is 9 today!!! Here he is with his best geeky smile.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

A Difficult Morning

I knew it would happen, but I was powerless to stop it.... this morning Son 1 announced he wanted a Birthday Party. What's so unusual about that? Well for a start, it's his birthday TOMORROW and we've been asking him for about 3 weeks now whether he wanted a party or not and he wouldn't answer.
So this morning there were floods of tears and temper tantrums as it finally dawned on him that it is now TOO LATE to organise a party. So what do we do now? (Apart from feeling guilty of course) I've sent him to school with a piece of paper on which to write the names of the boys he wants to invite - total so far.....3 names (minimum 12 required for the party at the Soft Play Centre). He refuses to invite any more people because he doesn't like them (or they are mean to him, fair enough) so we are at an impasse.
Life is tough when your 9 year old has the emotional intelligence of a 3 year old and you just can't help him. Maybe he'll have forgotten all about it when he comes home from school (I should be so lucky).
In the meantime I'm going out shopping and to look for Secret Pal gift ideas. I'm not in the mood to clean, tidy up or list on eBay so I think a little Retail Therapy is called for.....

It's Official - SP10 Has Started!

Yesterday I was allocated a Secret Pal to spoil, no clues here as to who she is though - that would spoil the fun! My own 'Spoiler' has also contacted me (she's probably the only one reading this) and so a big HELLO to Secret Squirrel.

Monday, 12 March 2007

We Sold Some Stuff!!

Three cheers everybody - last night we sold some stuff on eBay. We sold 9 of the Toys and Games and for mostly good prices - nothing outrageously high and one item did go for 1 penny but never mind, as the Man of the House pointed out - we now have two empty plastic crates!! Most of them have already been paid for with Paypal so I can send them out straight away.
Task for this morning then is to make sure that it's all clean and working and get it wrapped up for the trip to the village Post Office.
There are another two boxes of toys listed on eBay this week so this time next week I should be getting rid of some more!!
Great news!!

Saturday, 10 March 2007

On the Needles....an Ella Shawl

I have some beuatiful cobweb weight kid mohair, hand-dyed from the Natural Dye Studio. I was completely at a loss as to what to make with it and I posted on Yahoo Groups and Knitting Forums asking for inspiration. I received some good suggestions for shawl patterns but no-one got in touch and said - 'look what I made with it' so I was left to my own devices and this is what I came up with.

It's the Ella Shawl from Knitty.com - the pattern says Aran Silk I think but I'm never too hung up on what a pattern says, I usually go my own way with things. I've knitted it furiously, frogged it twice and tinked many rows due to miscounts and dropped stitches but I've got this far and now I'm not sure what to do with it. I've never been a big fan of 'stripy' yarn - too many memories of those kids jumpers popular in the 70s which were knitted in multi-coloured acrylic. Stripy yarn is good for socks (but only in plain or rib pattern - I hate what it does with a lacy pattern, makes my eyes boggle) but I've not seen anything else I like unless the hues are very close to each other. When knitted up this cobweb yarn is getting too stripy and the contrast between the plum and the grey is too much for me.

So what to do? Persist?(even though this kind of knitting gives me RSI pains all the way up my right arm) or frog and try another pattern instead? Here's a picture of it - let me know what you think (and if you have suggestions for a pattern that would drown out the stripiness!)
P.S. Why does lace knitting always look like a bag of rags when you're knitting it?

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

eBay Update - We have Bids!!!

I managed to list 33 items on eBay last week and guess what? There are bids on 5 of them so that's a whole £3.97 (before fees) and a few more cubic inches of space that we'll have by the end of the week. I decided to list everything at 99p start and resolved to take anything that doesn't sell to the next Charity Shop I happen to be passing. (Can't make a special trip can I, that wouldn't be very Green!)

I'm going to put some more Books up for sale tonight - we have to reduce the numbers as they are taking up too much space now.

Book Collector's Anonymous

Yesterday I was trying to stop Sons Numbers 1 and 2 from killing each other so I had to stay in the same room as them for most of the time. Whilst I was there twiddling my thumbs I started to wonder just how many books we really have in this house and how much more room we might have if I got rid of a few.
Do you remember the photos of my bookshelves? I grabbed an old envelope and a pen and started (roughly) counting how many I could see in the Living Room. Later on that evening when the 'Man of the House' had come home to take his turn separating the boys, I went round the rest of the house and finished my list. The result surprised me - I honestly thought we had more.
Here's the list:-

  • Kitchen (Cooking & Gardening) - 145
  • Hallway (Crime, Science Fiction, Reference) - 449
  • Living Room (Crafts, Fiction, Maths & other Hobbies) - 893
  • Dining Room (Crime & Autobiography) - 438
  • Landing (Science Fiction, History & Sport) - 401

Grand Total - 2326 and that's doesn't include the pile on our bedside tables or the children's books.

Last week when we were sorting some things to put on eBay we filled 6 boxes with books that we think we might be able to sell on there. I listed the first 20 this morning. I've put another 20 onto Amazon and 20 on http://www.readitswapit.co.uk It's going to take an awfully long time to cut down the numbers, especially as my OH has been collecting these since he was a child. Wish me luck - it would be so much easier to just put the books in the bin but I can't do that can I?

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Look What I Found in the Cupboard!

This is what I made with my wool stash. It measures about 6 feet wide and 8 feet long and contains 224 Granny Afghan crocheted squares!

I used to have a serious knitting habit, my Mother had a serious knitting habit, my Grandmother had a knitting habit..... As a child I was the recipient of all the odd balls of wool left at the end of each project so there were bags and bags full of all kinds of things - wool, mohair, ribbon yarns, acrylic, really nasty nylon - all kept under the stairs or in the bottom of the wardrobe.

During the 80s my mother had a thing for those really complicated 'picture sweaters' the ones where the entire front was a work of art in wool. They took about 20 balls in different colours and I ended up with the leftovers! As a child I would crochet and knit them into clothes for my teddies (never dolls - I wasn't a dolly kind of girl). Mine were the best dressed teddies in the United Kingdom and I had alot of them. I hated sewing up (still do) so things were either crocheted in the round or knitted and then crocheted together with slip stitch. Despite my best efforts there were still bags and bags of wool leftover and I added to it throughout my teens until I laid down the needles once I'd left university. There the poor stash of wool lay, forgotten and acquiring that damp, musty smell that wool takes on when it is unloved. In my early twenties I left my Father's house and bought my own flat - the wool went with me but was still untouched. It stayed that way until I was in my mid twenties and bored in the evenings.

I started to knit sample squares in different colours - one square of each pattern from the two or three stitch dictionaries I had. The trouble was that because each pattern has a different tension all the squares and rectangles were different sizes and piecing the thing together was impossible. So I unravelled it all and started this afghan.

I decided early on to keep the colours similar in each square as I didn't like the stripy multi-coloured version I'd seen in books. I did four rounds in colour and then threw the square on the pile. The pile of squares was stuffed in yet another bag and stayed there for many more months until I finally finished and then bought some black wool to join it all together. I worked another round in black and then joined the squares to make this rainbow afghan. My stash was all used up, the bags empty and the cupboard bare. But what a way to use up a wool stash!
In this blanket I can still recognise wools from different sweaters - my father's multicoloured ski sweaters, my teenage picture sweaters, my mothers posh mohair numbers, my Grandma's sock wool- they're all there and the longer I look the more I can remember what was knitted with each yarn. Some of them elude me - I can't remember what on earth was knitted in the pinky-mauve or that vile hot pink that really jumps out at you, but it must have come from somewhere.
And what did I do with this labour of love, oh go on have a guess.....
Yep I put it in a cupboard, then it went in my Mother-in-law's loft and there it stayed for years and years until last week when it came home again. I was going to give it away but now that I've seen it again, I don't think I can. I've put it here in the hope that others will see it and decide to make an afghan of their own with their own yarn memories in it! This is one item of clutter that I'll just have to keep.