Today I’m Making… Fireflies Rising Shawl

This year for the first time I’ve managed to remember to buy a ticket for Yarn in the City’s Great London Yarn Crawl, this is their fifth year anniversary so I’m counting myself as double-lucky for bagging a ticket on the Metropolitan route.  Do have a look, it is going to be fantastic and I’m not just telling you this because I’m so pleased with myself, sometimes they get a cancellation so keep an eye on their Ravelry thread for ticket swaps.

Yarn in the City have a KAL for the yarn crawl, its the gorgeous Fireflies Rising shawlette by Helen Stewart, and at the time I bought it she was donating money to the charity Refuge which pretty much decided it for me.  One of the things I love about this pattern is she has a column showing in percentages how far you are along, I’ve just passed the 55% mark, I’m on 107 with 321 stitches on the needle!

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A row is taking a fair old while to complete now so I’m not knitting this on the train to work anymore. Though thinking about it I travel in to Waterloo and with the huge engineering works in August I might well have time to do 3 rows per journey and read 50 pages of my book.  If I get a seat.

My yarn is from Once Upon a Time Skeins, who is a local indie dyer based in Basingstoke which isn’t that far from me but I don’t think she sells in any local shops.  I bought my skeins directly from her (she’s lovely) at the Yarnporium.  There is only one more skein left of the colour I’m on now and I had been wishing I’d made the shawlette just from this colour because its all lovely gingerish shades and knits so beautifully.  I’m going back to my natural red hair too so I think its going to look really nice on. The thing is, I’ve just spotted someone else has finished one in a very similar colour and it looks incredible, but, that means mine is still unique so I’m happy to stick with what I have now.

This pattern is such a joy to knit I’m very tempted to cast on another one straight after finishing this one. The fireflies are some very easy and satisfying yarn overs and double decreases, though having said that when I did the first set I made an almighty mess of it through trying to do it late at night after wine.  I pulled it back and redid it and just look how great it looks even before blocking, its a bit cableish looking while its on the needles.

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I’m still trying to match my nails to my knitting and doing pretty well I think. I’m all up to date with snood orders too so no sudden nail colour changes to contend with.

 

I really want to wear mine on the day so please keep your fingers crossed for me that it doesn’t rain on 9th September and if you’re on the same route as me I am looking forward to meet you on the 9th and dying to hit the shops.

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Today I’m Making… socks for my bloke

This last week I’ve been on a knitting retreat at the ever excellent Westcliffe Knitting Hotel in Blackpool (really you must go if you can, its fantastic). The one thing I was determined to finish was the socks I’ve been knitting for my bloke for the last couple of months or so.

I didn’t. But I’ve finished them this morning (I came home yesterday evening) and I’m really pleased with them. So is he, and so is his mum!

I found a great sock pattern from 1986 in a charity shop and used that because it has a nice spiral decrease for the toe (like you’d see when knitting a beret) rather than a grafted toe. I dislike that chisel tip look you usually get, anyway, with a few tweaks this is going to be my standard sock pattern, there are also only 5 stitches to pick up after turning the heel and no silly heel flap.   I am going to rewrite the heel to make it sturdier but to be honest I don’t really need to.

So here they are, charmingly modelled by himself with barely any direction from me, he’s worn them round his mum’s just now and she’d like a pair too, scaling the pattern down for her feet won’t be any trouble at all, once she’s measured her foot and chosen her colour I’ll get cracking on them.

I do want to say something about the yarn, and I’m sorry to say its not going to be overly positive. I used the Debbie Bliss Rialto so called luxury yarn.  It looks delightful as you knit (unfortunately I bought three balls so I’ve got to use it up) but it unplys as you knit shockingly and I can’t work a way out to stop it (any suggestions anyone?). It lurches in width from thick to thin to very thick and very thin alarmingly but strangely it hasn’t affected the finished socks that I can see so not a huge problem but not something you’d expect when you’ve paid £10.50 a ball. I am quite worried about wear with it unplying so badly (you can’t do a whole round without it happening), where it has happened the yarn must surely be a fair bit weaker.  Now, I know I could take photos and send it back and blah blah but I’m not going to, I’d rather just not buy it again.

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Still for all that I’ve make a very fine pair of sock and Mr GinPoodle is very happy with them indeed so its all worked out well in the end, eh?

 

 

Today I’m making…. Toe-up socks

I think I started knitting these toe-up socks earlier this year, the yarn is a mega cheapy from Tiger and to be honest the colour is lovely but lets just say I expect they will be hard wearing fellers and leave it at that.  The colour is lovely, a raspberry toed purple but I wouldn’t buy this yarn again.

Other projects distracted me for a while when the pattern asked for a 2.5mm short circular needle and I took an age to get around to buying one.  Mind you I don’t think it’s entirely necessary to use a circular I reckon I could have carried on with my carbon dpns quite happily though the circular does mean you can try them on as you go so that’s a bonus but I prefer the dpn’s.

 

 

I’ve never got on with the magic loop method either, I find it a bit of a faff so I think for me socks and circs don’t go.

So here we are working the heel and the finish line in sight so to speak.  If only I liked this yarn more, I’d feel more motivated to crack on with them.

I’m not that motivated to finish this book either, it looked good from the blurb on the back, its a collection of articles published by a writer who died young when he was swept out to sea whilst torturing fish.  Anyway turns out he was massively into dance culture and football which to me just means YOB. I’ve set myself a low target of reading 26 books this year and I’m already one book behind schedule and this bloke isn’t helping. Dunno about Bliss to be Alive, more like bliss to get to the end. Still it was a freebie from my days working at DK so can’t complain too much.

Why don’t I just rip these socks and make some with the huge stash of beautiful handspun hand dyed yarn I’ve bought from I Knit London and just squirreled away? I think there must be something wrong with me sometimes but then again these were supposed to be just a trial pair to see if I got on with a toe-up sock and I can take the fancy stuff with me to Westcliffe when I go back for a week at the end of July.

Oh didn’t I mention that before? I’ve only booked myself in for a whole week at the Westcliffe Knitting Hotel in Blackpool the last week of July.  Can’t bloody wait.

 

 

I Knit Fandango – May 2015

Piddling about on the internet one Friday lunchtime at work last month I stumbled across the I Knit Fandango. Well, I nearly cried, I’d had no idea it even existed let alone was on and I was missing it.  Annoyingly I’ve promised myself I won’t go to any more craft fairs this year because I have such a huge amount of stuff I’ve already bought at other fairs and not even unpacked. But it’s the I Knit Fandango, its only on for one more day and its run by Gerard of I Knit London, the finest knitting shop I know set conveniently right by Waterloo Station in Lower Marsh.  There was no way I wasn’t going to go.

So off I trotted in the morning on the train from Hampshire to dearest most darling London dreaming of the lovely stroll I was going to have over the bridge and along to the RHS halls. Good grief how could I have forgotten the tourist hell that is Westminster on a Saturday morning? At one point I was trapped in a vast european school party, lovely well behaved children but quite alarming to find yourself swept along like Gulliver.  Then I got caught up in what seemed to be a procession of cathedral admiring zombies.  Finally, after a restorative mocha in Pret I’m headed towards the delightful venue (and not being one to miss a saucy opportunity, I flagged down a couple of mounted police to ask directions when I was quite near the entrance) and I was IN!

SAM_2438Its not a huge venue and it wasn’t too packed out with people so you could have a really good look at everything and there was a lot to look at, I took this picture pretty near the end of the day so it was nice and quiet but not too quiet. Every single stall was great quality, none of that nonsense filler you get at the bigger shows like people selling wellies. Everything here is interesting and yarn related.  The price range was good so you can come out of there with hand dyed yarn, a cup of tea and change out of a tenner or you can go to town like me and set your budget at ‘sod it, I’ve got a credit card’. I bought a shopping bag and filled it. SAM_2459 

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Talking of tea, you know who did the catering? Only the Finchley WI! As you can imagine the cakeage was very good. I had two of these fellers and a lovely chat with another knitter and one of the WI women.

There was also generous seating where you could eat and knit and gossip. I muscled in on a Ravelry group, they didn’t seem to mind. All in all I had the most fantastic day and didn’t really want to leave. I was hideously jealous of the woman working on the I Knit London stand, what a great job that must be.  I bought a copy of Cast On, Cast Off and have already used it to update my Gin Poodle pattern with good results. I’m going to pop in later this week to the shop to buy some of their own dyed yarn (called Knit or Dye) because I keep daydreaming about it.

Now brace yourself for a ton of showing off the treasures I bought.

SAM_2472SAM_2465 The Knitting and Crochet Guild had a yarn winding service, they were charging 25p for 100g I think. Peanuts.  This was a genius idea because it meant I bought yarn and had it wound on the same day and that means I am actually going to knit with it rather than consider attempting to wind it myself at some point in the dim and distant.  The Guild also had made load of shawl pins out of old metal knitting needles and large glass beads.  My one is fantastic and one day soon I am going to open the packet and use it. I may even join the Guild.

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I bought this (new) hat pattern and yarn from The Island Wool Company, I had such a nice long chat with the owner, she could not have been more helpful and patient. She has an online shop and was more than happy for people to squeeze and sigh over her excellent yarns.  Took me about 20 minutes to choose a colour.

I had a little splurge at Max’s World on a card and some jewellery, decided against a ‘hooker’ necklace.

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I bought two patterns from Medecins Sans Frontieres. They had tons of patterns and the deal was you donated what you thought they were worth. Got chatting to one of the women working on the stall and she told me about an Italian knitting holiday she went on and that is pretty much all I can think about now. Italy might be a bit expensive but I have found a knitting B&B in Blackpool.

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I fell in love recently with a pattern on Ravelry called Knit Night, its a shawl pattern designed to show off hand dyed yarns so I bought two skeins from Fibres Exotica to make that.  Again the spinner/dyer was super helpful, she opened out skeins for me to have a really good look and her daughter was really chatty too. I learned how she paints the skeins side by side so that they come out a close to each other as poss. She went to a lot of trouble with me and the yarns I bought were only £6.50 each.  I thought that was a huge bargain. This was the point where I went for a second visit to the Finchley WI while the Guild wound my yarn.

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I know I say this about every show I go to but this is the best one. For a specialist knitting show I prefer it to Unravel in Farnham because this one is friendlier and the range is better.  I really hope he does another one next year.  I’d really like him to do another one this year so long as it doesn’t clash with the Festival of Quilts or the Knitting and Stitching Show.