March Madness #knitting

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Spring is officially in the air and nature is starting to wake up. Even Cat is leaving the safety of the bed to strut in the garden. Normally I run free of the self-imposed finish-up February and start casting on like a mad thing. Except I don’t seem to be. Normally I am ruing my lack of self-control and trying to rein it back in. But not this time. This time I am all about the finishing of things.

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I have no idea why, but I am going to stick to my new year’s knitter-lusions and go whereever the knitting winds take me. And right now I seem to be all committing to one project and riding it all the way home.

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Say hello to the now finished mitre square sock yarn scrap pillow number 4 (free pattern is available!). It was a bit of a push to complete the last row of squares, but I did it and had enough “but I want this colour next” feelings to cast on a token square for pillow number 5. It is a nice way of using up variegated scrap (personally I break up colour repeats into separate balls), as it allows me to create different stripe combinations to my heart’s content. Clashing is good!

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There is also the added bonus that the back (which looks like a hairy rug) will NEVER be seen and (as long as my knots are tight) I do not have to weave in a billion ends. Top tip, if you do have a rug-like effect brewing, try not to have really bitty ones near the edges as you will have to weave some in (they catch in the sewing machine).

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So here it is, all sewn up and stuffed (tip: back the knitted part – I use the same red denim as the back). It will prevent stress on your billion ends and stop sneaky bean bag balls from leaking out. It has now been given pride of place on top of the stash box and the previous mitre cushion has been demoted to general use. Personally I love the rainbow square! It is made from seven different yarns and with eight rows per colour it fits exactly.

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Happily, I think that I have used up the best part of a medium freezer bag of scraps in the process, which helps justify my hoarder-like tendencies in keeping them. “Free” yarn, hard-wearing and sweet shop colours; all with the added bonus that Cat loves sleeping on them and I can dot them around the house in the winter (and garden in the summer).   It brings happiness to the world and minimises cat hair on the sofa!

It is good to finish things!

LouBug

 

Sheep Shop Cambridge

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Thanks to the Sheep Shop in Cambridge for including the loubugknitwit blog on their Local Woolly Bloggers page! LouBug speaks very highly of your shop and now has enough Sparkle Duck yarn to sink a ship!

KnitWit

 

 

How Am I Going To Top That? #knitting

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‘Happenstance’ is now finished (and strategically placed so that I can admire it from the sofa). So, the question is up there, how am I going to top it? I have been nibbling at a few projects with nothing really grabbing me, up to the point I decided to finally tidy away the yarn from the orange socks.

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With me being me, I have all my sock yarn scraps neatly ziplock bagged away. In amongst the plastic bags I unearthed a neat little project bag. And in that project bag was a half-finished mitre square cushion. Hello Sweetie, long time no see!

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This pattern has a soft spot in my heart (this will be pillow number four). It is the first project I made for my (then) new house (I use them for garden pillows). They are Cat’s winter sleep pillow of choice and they have (to-date) clocked over 80 favourites on Ravelry. Quick plug, it is also a free pattern on this site! Go on, down load it (there is a tutorial pattern as well if you are new to mitre squares) what else were you going to do with your left overs?

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As I like to pretend there is some kind of order (even in a scrap pillows), you will notice that the squares alternate from stripes to one yarn. This has the added advantage of using up even the smallest yarn ball. The great joy with mitre squares is that as every odd row decreases, it feels like you are going faster each row until boom! you are down to your last three stitches. I get great pleasure planning out the next square (with careful tonal consideration, or just whim). I really like the “cast on kick” I get from each new square (each square takes about an hour) and the trip down yarn memory lane as my favourite sock yarn is given another outing.

So how do you top complex perfection? By simple pleasures, of course!

LouBug

What I Talk About When I Talk About Knitting

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Guest blog post on the Let’s Knit website! Yippee! Let’s Knit Blog

I like to knit, as does my sister, LouBug. I also like to run. LouBug does not. In fact, knitting is probably the only part of our lives that overlap. There’s a great book I read recently by Haruki Murakami – What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. A whole book about why he loves running, what he thinks about while he is running and how running is integral to his well-being. I guess this is the point of our blog, LouBug and KnitWit. We write about what we’re thinking while we’re knitting (and about the amazing things we knit, of course!).

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LouBug‘s shrug pattern 

We started the blog a couple of years ago in very different circumstances. At the time, I was buried under a couple of small children and LouBug was preoccupied with the workload from a very stressful teaching job. Having a creative outlet, something to show for our day and something separate from our drudge and daily lives was really important for us. Fast forward a couple of years and the doom clouds have now lifted – now we just knit and blog for fun!

LouBug and I are like chalk and cheese, Laurel and Hardy. I studied science; she studied art. I like gritty dramas; she likes science fiction. I like running; she likes… erm, not running. You get the picture. What we do have in common is the love of having something to show for our time. We sisters are busy bees; we like order and plans. We do share some genes after all. LouBug’s love of knitting started way before mine, however, as her skill and mountain of knitted produce duly shows.

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LouBug’s pillow pattern

In the spirit of order and lists, here are my top five reasons why I love knitting:

1. Nobody is watching. A botched stitch or two is not going to get my pay docked. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. There’s not much in life that you can truly say that about.

2. One row or 100 rows, it doesn’t matter! Only got 15 minutes? Who cares, all of these rows add up in the end. As if by magic, something wonderful appears.

3. People think I’m clever and artistic, even though I really am NOT! I hated art at school and have a lower-than-average artistic ability. And yet, here I am, adorned with beautiful knitted creations.

4. It gives me an excuse to write. I knit a bit, then write a lot. Oh, how I love to broadcast my thoughts and opinions. Knitting is my vehicle. It could well have been something else. Now, of course, I’m addicted to the knit. Save yourselves, there’s no hope for me now!

5. Hmm, number 5… erm… well, I get to watch people who really love knitting and have spent a lifetime perfecting their skill. It’s like a secret world that I’ve just about scraped into. And it’s quite fascinating…
If you’ve got this far, then well done. As a reward, you can have some images of knitting. The good, the bad and the ugly (namely the accidental “knitted bib”).

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Out of all the things I’ve knitted in my knitting life, scarves are by far my favourite. I feel a list brewing…

1. They are easy and portable. Or perhaps not-so-easy and portable. Either way they can be transported in my bag to random events and worked on.

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2. They are a cheap-skate’s option for plastic surgery. I’d like to add I’m not at that stage of life yet, but they do have an excellent way of hiding a scraggy old neck, or a fat neck, or perhaps even a neck covered in lizard scales. Very handy.

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3. They are almost at eye height, attracting the maximum amount of compliments (shallow, I know).

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4. They can try complicated stitches, which in my case involves perhaps a cable or two, without fear of botching the whole thing and chucking millions of pounds worth of yarn in the bin in a hissy fit.

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5. For the commitment-phobic, scarves are the perfect project. Garter stitch, cables, chunky lace – all of these can all be achieved in just a few days with the correct yarn purchase. You could even try your hand at super chunky yarn if you’re prepared to use giant 15mm needles. The downside to the super chunky yarn is that it’s so massive that one can’t see one’s feet or indeed crucial coat zips or buttons. Oh well…

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For more knitting ramblings, see the KnitWit posts over at the LouBugKnitWit blog. If you don’t like ramblings, skip the KnitWit posts and head straight for the more informative LouBug posts and free patterns. She does far more knitting, and far less rambling…

KnitWit

Knitted Purple Kisses

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I am a little speechless. The unexpected and miraculous has happened. I have finished the purple silk shawl in a week. I shall pause to allow you to recover your composure, as it is shocking news indeed. I, LouBug, have managed to knit ONLY one thing for a week, and complex lace at that. Say hello to Happenstance (from sock yarn shawls)…

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The keen-eyed might notice a white life line placed on the penultimate repeat. The good thing about indie yarn is the uniqueness, the bad thing is they can be a bit vague about yardage! Luckily they erred on the side of generous, but even then I wasn’t sure there was enough for an extra full repeat. I snuck in a life line, and knitted on with hope. Hope was rewarded and I was left with barely six inches at the end. Silk blocks like a dream and is really soft, but it is a bugger to photograph (the gorgeous sheen is not very flash friendly). And you will have to trust me that the colour is amazing, as it washes light and dark across several shades of the purple. The lace is a mix of knit and purl (giving it a nice dimensional look). You can see the arrow head lace a little better in the blocking photo.

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Time for a close up!

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I shall now parade around the house wearing it (complete with dramatic shoulder sweeps). See you in a few hours, hold my calls.

LouBug

Knitting for #WorldBookDay #RoaldDahl

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(image thanks to http://www.roaldahl.com)

Tears, tantrums and threats…not from my six-year-old, of course, from me. Just to get him to wear my AMAZING knitted World Book Day costume! Gold star for anyone who can guess who he is…anyone? The clue is in the bits of food hanging from the beard. It’s my favourite Roald Dahl character Mr Twit of course! This is such an excellent book, it is outstanding. The copy we have at home has since been passed down to the next generation, but was first purchased as a wedding present for Mr KnitWit. What better literary example does one need of marital life, than The Twits?

I don’t normally create costumes for such school dress-up day occasions. They are usually put together in a semi slap-dash way, knowing full well that half the costume will be discarded/destroyed by morning break. But when deciding on a costume for this year’s World Book Day and my eldest suggested Mr Twit, I just couldn’t resist the challenge of the Knitted Beard.

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I’m confessing my knitting naivety here, but who would have thought there would be so many images and patterns of knitted beards in the world? It is like a secret, slightly weird, sub-culture of people wearing knitted beards. Anyway, I thought I’d go for the ‘high end’ option of the knitted beard world, and began my pattern search on Ravelry. The perfect beard soon loomed into view, although it was actually a pattern for a Santa beard, it did have great ‘beard’ potential. The pattern was thanks to Maisha, who has a great knitting website full of ideas and patterns (plus it is translated into English, for those whose Danish is a bit rusty).

There’s both written and photo tutorials on how to do the all-important ‘loop stitch’, which is central to the whole ‘beard look’. To complete the slightly scraggy look, I knitted on 10mm needles with three strands of yarn (which combined was perfect for the needle size). I knitted with a grey and black chunky yarn and a white eyelash yarn.

The problems I encountered were two-fold. First problem was getting my child to wear the bloomin’ thing. Much thrashing around and complaining about looking silly (fair point). The second was easier to deal with, as it involved further knitting. As the beard had difficulty staying on the face, I knitted a square of the loop stitch to act as hair and sewed the whole thing to a hat. Et voila! Mr Twit was born!

So don’t forget readers, “If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” Roald Dahl, The Twits.

KnitWit

I Couldn’t Resist!

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I will admit it, it is starting to nag at me. But I will never power through finish-up February if I don’t stick to the “no casting on” rule. For those that don’t know, finish-up February is an annual (self-imposed) task aimed at finishing or frogging long-term projects. Each year I attempt to end February with six free row counters and a spring cleaned project box. Not casting on is the real toe curling, mind bending, teeth suckingly difficult part. The only exceptions I make are to ensure that I have my “ready to go: easy sock” knitting (as there is no way I am knitting a blanket on a train or trying to knit lace at knit-night). Even then I have to be strict about when I knit it.

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Winners so far have been my orange socks, green mittens, shawl/blanket and Hooty the owl. So with those fresh under the “done!” banner, my eye now turns to the sad pile of forgotten and unloved project bags. I have already gone through these and I was pleased to find that there were no projects so far gone that the only hope would be to frog and return the yarn to the tender embrace of the stash. The downside is no easy row counter wins! However, I am pleased that I have racked up four so far.

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So, the remaining projects have been aired and ranked. The plan is to focus on one at a time and power through. With a half term holiday’s boost, the current next-to-the-sofa knitting is this silk shawl. You might remember it from last year, as it went along in fits and starts (the chart is a bit eye watering). I picked it back up ready to finish and then threw it at the wall. It hit a tiny little whale sized snag that basically involved frogging the whole damn thing and restarting. Yep. A big time rookie error meant that I forgot that lace charts traditionally only show half the chart (it is repeated to make two identical triangular parts).

I realised a problem was brewing when I tried laying it out flat and the stupid thing pointed at the top not the bottom. Perplexed, I looked at the picture and with stomach dropping dread I realised that the book had two triangles meeting in the middle and I only had one.

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Such was my horror, upset and anger that there are no photos to mark this horrifying discovery. Please enjoy a photo of Cat looking cute instead. You might have heard the unearthly howl. That was me. I am feeling much better now.

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I ripped it back, had a medicinal glass of wine and Let It Think About What It Had Done for a week. I have now restarted it and have only just reached the point where frogged yarn meets new yarn (the crimped curl starred at me every time I looked at it).

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Thankfully, the chart seems much less daunting and with my unintentional practice go, knitting quite quickly. The silk is hard to see in the picture, but it does have a really nice sheen to it that should block like a dream and whisper soft kisses to me every time I wear it. Fingers crossed I should have it done in the next week or two!

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I must not cast on, I must not cast on, I must not cast on, I must not cast on, I must not cast on, I must not cast on, I must not cast on…

LouBug

 

 

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