Knitting Hiatus Is Good For The Soul

[Disclaimer! WordPress won't let me upload photos boo hoo. Photos pending]

Contrary to KnitWit’s moaning, I have neither emigrated nor been in a drunken yarn covered heap for the last few weeks. The reality is that, as I am currently in the weird limbo between schools, I will be without a laptop until my most excellent new school gives me one in September. Of all the churning emotional roller coaster moments of my last week with my lovely old school, cleaning out and handing in my laptop was an expectedly emotional moment.

So farewell my constant companion! We have bonded through hours of marking and report writing, we have shared a grimace while booting up on Monday morning and shared bruises when I almost broke a toe dropping you.   I have left some knitting patterns on the hard drive for you, for old times’ sake.

PHOTO

Words really cannot describe the wonders of the summer holiday. It is the trade-off for all those lost evenings, eroded weekends and dealing with teenagers all day. So I have been anxious to cram in as much as possible, which has (ironically) left me with fewer knit hours than normal. However, I do have a lot of unblogged knitting I can use to make KnitWit think that I have been knitting night and day for weeks. Basically now is the time to deep clean, MOT and fix as much as possible around the house. First up on my summer holiday promise list has been to re-decorate my craft room. I went for pale purple (amethyst shower number 5 for the curious).

PHOTO

Normal people look through magazines to help them select their wall colour. I will admit to using my stash, as I do have every shade of purple imaginable accounted for (you might have guessed I like purple) and then finding the Dulux card to match (the pale purple in the top right was the winner). Three bloody days up a ladder later (if I haven’t sweated down a dress size then there is no justice in the world) and all hail the mighty purple room! KnitWit will be pleased to note that I have had a sort out as well and managed to remove two bin bags of stuff. The number that will go up after I have finished sorting the patterns out of the magazines.

I think I will play catch-up with the finished projects over the next few blogs (not that I was pouring my “leaving after 8 years aaaaaghhaaa!” energy into knitting), so I will apologise in advance if there are any repeats or omissions.

PHOTO

So first up is a quick little Christmas knit, from a Let’s Knit kit from a while ago. It’s cute, silly and stripey and I think I will call him Henry. Time allowing Henry might get a lady friend, but we shall see how I get on. I will admit that I find toy knitting both fascinating and irritating. I love the way they look, but I get rapidly annoyed at the number of small parts (and so the amount of sewing up) but then I fall back in love when it comes to putting the faces on. This can be a bit hit of miss (paging my freaky robin) but I think it is worth working at.

And so to the cupboard scrubbing, drawer sorting and garden de-foresting *sigh*. If anyone wants me, I will be in a yarn covered heap in the corner….

LouBug

Happy Feet

wpid-1407420913378.jpg

Hmmm, not so much Happy Feet – more like Hot Feet! It was hotter than the sun in the back of the house yesterday when I took this photo, but one must suffer for one’s art. Heat stroke aside, these man-sized monster booties are a combination of triumph and despair. The triumph is, of course, that they are even finished. This has come at a cost. The precise cost was £13.99. I was mugged at the local toy shop for a box of rubber bands (or Loom Bands to be exact, which were probably manufactured in the Far East for about 10p).

Ho hum, who am I to complain when that £13.99 bought be hours of peace and quiet as my offspring busied themselves making lurid bracelets. Plus side being their hand-to-eye coordination, concentration levels and pincer movement are now A Grade…downside is we all now have matching fluorescent bracelets to wear. A bit like being in a cult.

wpid-1407420808226.jpgwpid-1407421119099.jpg

Anyway, I digress. Rather than using this time to cure cancer or something useful, I used it to blanket stitch my booties together. They do have a distinctive “home-made” look about them, and they are actually massive. Mr KnitWit tried them on, after much duress, and had a slight panicked look about him when I suggested they were a much better fit for him. Another plus is their “danger” element. Life on the edge. Boy #2 succumbed to this danger and before I could say “mind the slippery floor with the iceskate booties”, he came crashing down on the wooden floor.

wpid-1407421073587.jpgwpid-1407421030320.jpg

All in all, I think these woolly delights are better suited to a) carpet and b) bed. I don’t think the soles would stand up to the demands of general slipper wear and it would be tragic after all of this time for them to fall apart. I shall neatly pack them away (by that I mean put them on display for all to see) until such time that my icy extremities need hiding from the world.

The pattern was from Aneeta Patel’s book “Knitty Gritty”.

wpid-1404481106836.jpg

KnitWit

Star Wars Cushions

wpid-1407058141154.jpg

Where o where is LouBug? At least I have an excuse for my blog abandonment (not much knitting can be done when one is buried under ones own children whilst whining “is the summer holiday over yet?!” – Answer: not even close). I have my fears that LouBug is having fun somewhere and in the giddy excitement of vest tops and factor 30 suncream has forgotten all about her responsibilities!

Our annual house-swap is complete, which for me means spending all the kids’ icecream money in her well-frequented wool shop. For LouBug this means spending the equivalent of a mortgage repayment in expensive London yarn shops (a nosey look in her bag when we finally met up revealed two lots of fancy looking yarn at £25 each nestled amongst many other things!).

Anyway, my attempt at knitting some arm warmers with my newest loot has not worked out well, and I am now on the hunt for a more suitable (easy) pattern. Check out the pretty colours though:

wpid-1406747647598.jpgwpid-1406747604844.jpg

With this frustration zipped away for the time being, I thought it high time I tackled the dreaded sewing machine. I was kindly gifted this Singer machine when a good friend of mine was getting ready to emigrated back to Japan. The move was postponed indefinitely, but I was assured I could still keep the machine! Grand plans to create wonders with my machine and the long-ago purchased Ally Pally material were only thwarted by my crushing lack of skill, but I have decided to tackle this gaping gap in my knowledge. After chucking the instruction book across the room and deciding it would be easier to propel myself to the moon in a cereal packet rather than thread the evil thing, I turned (of course) to You Tube. Several competent and perky Americans confirmed what I suspected, that it is actually very easy to use. So away I went – and here are the photos to prove it:

Stage 1: Woman versus Machine:

wpid-1406998155712.jpg

Stage 2: Pin fleece backing to fancy Star Wars material:

wpid-1406998054767.jpg

Stage 3: Turn the air blue and thump machine several times as it unthreads the needle over and over! Manage to soldier on and ponder for a while how to get a cushion into a sealed square. Decide to create a pillowcase effect (zip option not an option!):

wpid-1407013239998.jpgwpid-1407014366772.jpg

Stage 4: Cushion complete and hand-sew flappy bit down to stop small hands stashing things in the cushion case:

wpid-1407014423940.jpg

Stage 5: Do it all again for pillow #2. One cushion for 2 boys just doesn’t fly in this house:

wpid-1407058141154.jpg

With hindsight I have decided that the continuous and annoying unthreading was because of the fleece backing I was sewing, as opposed to the machine handler (of course). With this in mind I am considering unbanishing the sewing machine from the corner and having a go with the other material I bought at Alexandra Palace – the truth will out.

KnitWit

Kindle Publishing Despair & Other Excuses Why I Can’t Knit

wpid-1406060469460.jpg

Here they are, as a pair. Not actually finished of course, but united nonetheless. The mere thought of actually putting them on my feet make we want to self-combust with excess heat (there is a heatwave here at the mo), but one thing you can be sure of in the UK – the miserable, cold, damp weather is never far away! For now though, glorious sunny August is stretching ahead and I have come to terms with my summer holiday sentence. I shall take it like a man (although not my man of course, hiding in his air-conditioned office far far away from the front line). Clenched jaw, stiff upper lip and no negotiating. I shall be fine.

On a more ‘on topic’ note, I’ve knitted one sole for one of the boots. Cunningly I fluffed the instructions, but it has all worked out okay in the end. Instead of rib I’ve got moss stitch, which gives the sole a toughened look. Good for my chilly floorboards. No idea how to sew them on yet, but I shall cross that bridge when I come to it.

wpid-1406060371281.jpg

My list of excuses as to my lack of productivity is not pretty. It hasn’t involved fun or gallivanting of any kind. Behold my list of excuses for my pathetic churn-out rate (shamed of course, by LouBug’s inhuman knitting output – more of that to come). Is there anything more tedious than reading about why someone can’t find the time to knit, on an actual knitting blog? Discuss amongst yourselves and answers on a postcard please.

Pathetic Excuse Number 1:

Labels

wpid-1406060324856.jpg

In my efforts to be organised and keep the Tedious Job List to a minimum over the summer holidays, I have started the loooooong task of labelling school clothing. Not just any old labelling, of course, but hand sewn name labels. Is there anything more boring? Eight pairs of trousers, four pairs of shorts, 4000 t-shirts, a million jumpers, bags, sports kits…I could go on, but I fear I may lose the will to live. I’ve barely made a dent in the pile, and it has already taken precious hours away from more exciting things in my life…or even the less exciting things. I feel like I’ve suddenly gained employment in a sweat shop.

Pathetic Excuse Number 2:

E-Book

wpid-1406060238491.jpg

Otherwise known as “vanity publishing”, LouBug and I have been exploring the idea of self-publishing volume I of our blog on Kindle. Easy? Sadly no. Well, easy up until the point of filling in a terrifying document for the United States Tax Man. But I’m English! I know my rights! Turns out Amazon don’t care and want all of your personal details to ship off to the IRS. All a bit weird for me, so I’ve (half) given up. All of this research and fretting has sucked away hours and hours of my life, and turned out to be a depressing interlude between sewing on bl**dy labels!

Has anyone ever had success at this? Someone tell me it isn’t as sinister as it first appears?!

Pathetic Excuse Number 3:

End-Of-Term Thousand Yard Stare

Sports day, summer shows, curriculum evenings, new starters meetings (all four of them) – I could go on. It has taken its toll. It has (almost) made me look forward to the end of term…

KnitWit

Lacy Knitted Things

lace

Continuing on my project hoard busting plan, I have now turned my focus on my small pile of lace work on my to-do pile.

lace2

I have already mentioned the lovely purple silk scarf/shawl I completely forgot about (from “Sock Yarn Shawls”). Picture the glow of purple shining on my face as I opened the bag expecting to find another pair of socks!

Pure silk (which was a complete git to wind into a ball) bought at least two years ago. I know this as I bought the same brand but in blue last year at the ever wonderful Ally Pally. Photographs do not do it justice, as the yarn has an incredible colour depth to it (as well as a nice fade in/out wash – a bit like stonewash jeans). It should block like a dream. I have been pecking at it – the pattern isn’t too difficult, but there is a lot of it! I shall try to go into full burn over the summer.

lace3

What has currently been occupying my attention is this lovely little scarf. Cast on (frogged and bagged after a small disagreement over tension) about three months ago. It is a light jacket scarf called “Summer Stream Scarf” by Asami Kawa which is knitted in two parts and grafted in the middle.  I have made it with Drops Colour Transition Sock Yarn and, because I am me, I have carefully matched the yarn and cast on both ends at once (to be grafted in the middle). I’ve moved Heaven, Earth and all the angels to try to match the colour repeat. Symmetry matters, people!

lace4

Now, I am a patient person, but three knot related colour jumps (damn you!) in a yarn that subtly washes into the next colour (so any colour jumps create a hard line that screams out “hello look at me!”) would test the sanity of the saintly. I have thrown the full force of my stubbornness at it (fear me) and I have managed to locate and match in replacement sections to better hide the jumps. In real terms this meant unwinding the WHOLE DAMN BALL and feeding it through my hands in strong sunlight and then performing surgical splices. I would like to say that the whole process took two hours. I really would. But it didn’t, and I don’t really want to talk to anyone about it (apart from the stash, it understand my pain).

I am resisting sending it back into the box (to think about what it has done) as it is almost finished. I know that there is the small matter of the half stitch jump to contend with (always an issue when grafting top to top) which will make grafting a battle.

*Sigh*

Still, let’s focus on positives. I wonder if I will find any more lace as I continue my archaeological dig through the project box of doom?

LouBug

Mutant Baby Bootie

wpid-1405068647572.jpg

Here is my half-done giant, mutant, adult bootie. It may look a little crazy now, but you wait ’til I’ve sewn on a pom pom! Once the other bootie is complete, I shall (finally) have used up my stash of Rowan Biggy Print (100% merino wool). A Black Sheep Wools bargain from Alexandra Palace (Rowan down from £69.99 to £29.99!).

wpid-1405068592866.jpgwpid-1405068683758.jpg

The rest of the Rowan went on a rather fetching pillow front. I shall show you a picture in a mo, partly to view the pillow but mainly to shame LouBug and her EPIC UNTIDY WAYS! I’m just in the middle of filling in the Channel 4 form to nominate her for “Hoarder’s Anonymous”/”How Cluttered Is My House?”/”I Have Issues With Throwing Things Out, Get Me Outta Here!” or some such awful day-time TV show.

Fear not, LouBug, I shall pack my Marigolds ready for our annual house-swap. When you return, it shall be minimalist chic! Now, where’s that phone number to order a skip…

Behold – the pillow (atop a handy box containing all known knitting projects – take note LouBug):

wpid-1405068771080.jpg

Below – LouBug’s clutter “solutions”

tv5

Very bad!

Anyway, back to the amazing giant adult booties. Just the other bootie and the two soles to go, shouldn’t take long what with Rowan Biggy Print being like knitting with rope on 12mm needles :-).

KnitWit

“My God, It Is Full Of Stars”

star

Extra geek points if you get the movie quote! [KnitWit: I just Googled it! Is it 2001 A Space Odyssey?]. The moment has finally come. There were many doubts it would ever come to pass. The scarf that cheated the “frog pond” for two whole years is finally done. I might cry a little in relief. I feel that an Oscar speech may be required.

star2

Sweet mother of mercy, it has been a hard one to keep on with! Love for this project has had more twists and turns than a love triangle on Eastenders. For those unfamiliar with the techniques of double knitting (as opposed to DK yarn knitting), it is a technique that allows you to create double-sided colour work that has no visible floats. Think colour-work worked in the round but on straight needles. Whoever came up with the idea was a genius. A slightly evil, twisted genius.

star3

It is a good technique; it uses less yarn than Fair-Isle would (as there are no floats), and the fabric is twice as thick making it a good thermal item. But. And there is (just like me) one hell of a BUT. It takes more than twice as long to do each row as every stitch is fiddley. There is no zoning out on this (as punishment for inattention is swift and horrific). There is no TV knitting. There is no talking to others. There is no swift progress. I did what I could to reduce the pain, stitch markers clearly marking out colour changes, counting “one and, two and” to reduce the chances of miss-placing those markers and a massively reduced expectation for what an hour of knitting should look like.

star4

So, here it is! This was originally cast on well over two years ago (it has survived an impressive two “finish or frog Februarys) and has limped on with rows gradually stacking up. Every time it was dusted off, and another painful star added, it made it more difficult to frog it. The main problem is that it looks mighty fine, therefore there was no ground to frog. I did (however) re-set my expectations and decided that a scarf was foolish and snood was much nicer. This genius moment took the number of stars down from 15 to 8.

star5

I am proud to say that I gathered enough momentum to actually finished 10 stars (as I realised that 8 was do-able but would be a bit short for purpose). It functions as a short jacket scarf as well as buttoning together to make a snood that could be reverse colour matched if I wanted.

star6

Now I have finished, and the making pain is receding in a haze of happy finished product, I think this technique is worth doing again. To help this I have treated myself to the recently published “Knitting double” by Anja Belle, which has some good charts and some good ideas for projects.

star7

Firstly though, I think I will have a little lay-down.

LouBug

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 347 other followers

%d bloggers like this: