The Lure of Casting On #knitting

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The best laid plans get a raspberry from Cat. I have failed to knit any of the things I planned to finish. The log cabin blanket seems to have turned into a knitting black hole (I know I am adding rows, but the damn thing seems to be the same size). The green cardi has been given an airing but I cannot face sorting out the trim, too much frogging and testing is required for an end-of-term fried brain.

I wish that I could say that the socks were now done. But I can’t as they have sat lonely to one side, this is my busy week in my two-week timetable so my sneaky lunch knitting has been impossible. Now, normally I find that as soon as I finish the heel, the foot whizzes along, especially on the second sock (I am luckily rarely hit but second sock syndrome). This is helped by my size 4-5 feet, and it always feels like I am going downhill (oddly I can find the leg section more like going uphill, go figure). There is only a few hours work left, but my TV knit time has been consumed with other things.

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A couple of years ago I made this blanket for a friend who was having a baby. Of all the knit gifts I have given, this was the hardest to part with (even though it was happily received and enjoyed). I always promised myself that I would do one for me as well. Most of the yarn was free magazine yarn, or left overs, and the only yarn I bought was the black and white (as I wanted to ensure I had enough of it and that the dye lots matched).

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So say hello to my version of the “Dolly Mix” blanket. I am still all about the mitre squares and I have now accumulated enough different colours to make a start. Unlike the baby blanket, I intend this to be a full-sized double bed blanket (so about 12 by 12 squares), which is a tad ambitious I admit. The nature of the mitre squares mean that I can stop at each full grid point and assess. The plan is to knit up my current range of colours and then rest the project until the autumn, by which time I will hopefully have enough to finish it. The pattern is basically cast on 41, knit 4 rows black and then finish the mitre up with about 10-15g of DK yarn.

I really like the way the black makes the colours pop and (unlike the log cabin blanket) each square takes about 40 minutes and with each shrinking row it feels like it is speeding along. Hopefully it will help to kick-start my knitting/finishing mojo!

LouBug

Following The Knit Winds

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My knit winds are still blowing due “finish up” and flush with success from my mitre cushion I knit on and resist the urge to cast on. I am trying to concentrate on one project at a time (which is crazy talk from me as I usually run between projects like an ADHD kitten on a sugar rush). It has the bonus of getting things knit quicker, but the down side that big projects don’t get nibbled at and still remain big.

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Currently on my radar is the green cardigan. This stalled as I was stuck on the trim (the cuff pattern didn’t really work for the trim) and I am still unsure of the current plan. I am tempted to do a simple k2p2 rib (like the purple version) and add the cuff trim to the last 10 rows to link it together. This will involve ripping out the current trim (which is about a quarter done), and I am even tempted to combine the old trim on the neck line and the new plan for the front. We shall see.

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My on the go sock is creeping along (helped by a few sneaky lunchtime knit sessions), and I am tempted to make a quick pair of sock finger-less mittens with the needles afterward. These are light weight open mittens to wear when driving, as I can keep my palms warm while having a good grip with my fingers on the wheel. I am looking thoughtfully at purple and grey leftover yarn (a Christmas knit from a few years ago). I tempted to use some fluffy sock yarn (which I wasn’t a fan of on my feet) to make some super snuggly cuffs. But (of course) I am committed to finishing things up first!

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I also want to finish my log cabin blanket, mainly because I want to start my crochet kit from Ally Pally! There is about half left to do, but it does chug along quite easily as it is all garter stitch which makes it a good TV knit. It would be good to finish this in the next few weeks before it gets too warm to want it on the bed. The downside is that each round is getting longer, therefore more of a job to get done, which does feel like running uphill. In heavy boots. In the rain. Carrying a big bag. This might have to be one of those knits where I break up the repeats with other knits.

Unless, of course, the knit-winds change and the lure of casting on grows too much.

LouBug

 

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

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