Sock It!

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The pre-summer hoard clearance has had a mixed success, with a number of projects finished (I will tot it up for a future post) and I really did resist casting on! Which obviously led to a massive glut of casting on as soon as summer hit, so I still don’t have any free row counters! I think I might formerly give up on that goal now until February and just buy a bunch of row counters. Why fight the inevitable!

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A clear winner of this finishing frenzy has been Mr LouBug, as he scored a new blanket AND a pair of socks. I am pleased with how the timey-whimey socks came out (trekking sock yarn for the curious) and I like the way the colour flashes look like a temporal vortex in Dr Who.

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The only down side to knitting these was the curse of dark yarn. We have all been there. Grab out you knitting at knit night only to discover that the pub lighting is not good for dark yarn and then having to peer like “granny who forgot her glasses” all evening. Not a good look, but worth it all to see his face (and then the look of sadness as he realised that the blazing sun was not sock wearing compatible). Bless him that he wore them for a good 30 minutes before I insisted he took them off before he melted.

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On a more selfish note, work has begun on my summer neon socks (fluro-mania we love you). Originally I was going to knock out a basic rib candy cane sock (no cuff, k2p2 to heel and then plain) but the yarn needed a little something-something more so I threw in a cheeky texture pattern to add interest.

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I have often seen this in pattern directories and overlooked it as too blokey, but I am really impressed with how it works with the neon stripes. One to bank for future use me thinks.

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Needing an easy sock to take along with me, I dug out some less eye watering yarn (Opal “Vincent Van Gogh”) and did do a basic candy cane with them. I am only half convinced over the colour wash (as the blue colour-way ones I did for Mr LouBug were much better) and they are unfairly placed next to the neon socks in my project box.

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Perhaps they will shine a little more when autumn makes burnt orange and mute colours more perfect.

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I will confess that I did buy a little more yarn this holiday (not as bad as last year though!). More on that later, but a shout out to Loop, IKnit and Sharpe Works and thank you for being lovely!

LouBug

 

Double Rainbows All The Way!

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Ok, so a bit of a cheat as this was finished just before I broke up, but all hail the mighty (and re-named) “Double Rainbow” shawl (pocket gods anyone?). Pinned out for blocking, it looked so much like the rainbow level of Mario cart that I couldn’t resist finding a LEGO car to complete the photo. Obviously this is why it knitted up so fast, it must have hit a booster bonus puzzle box!

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I will admit that this scarf is one of the few things making me wish September closer, as I cannot wait to wear it. Being made from 4ply sock yarn (just 100g, stash dive bargain!) makes it light and wafty (so more a glamour scarf than a heat grabber).

I love, love, love the pattern (“Summer Stream Scarf” by Asami Kawa). I will admit that it took a little while to feel the love, as it is knitted in two halves and grafted in the middle (so each row is twice as long as it should be). And there were hard words said to it on the small subject of yarn colour jumps (the saga of correcting it still leaves a small twitch above my right eye).

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I think you will agree that the hard work of splicing and matching have paid off and I have successfully matched the colours from left to right.

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I am even pleased with how well the middle graft went (which was always going to be a dodgy bit). Admittedly, I did have to re-do it a couple of times, but with some aggressive blocking I have made it as subtle as possible.

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But, who is looking at the middle when there is this excellent lacy trim to pet?

Now all I have to do is seek out some arctic level air-con so that I can justify wearing this early!

LouBug

Knitting Hiatus Is Good For The Soul

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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KnitWit

Star Wars Cushions

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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:

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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:

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

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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!):

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

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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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