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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That Knitting Time Again

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Finish up February is kicking into the final gear, with a good crop of results for this year. For those not familiar with this, it is the annual WIP trawl that aims to finish or frog projects that have lurked in the project box for too long. Life is too short to waste good yarn on bad projects!

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I personally like it as it forces me to re-look at projects that have hibernated for so long that I have forgotten they exist. They are often things with an evening’s worth of knitting done but then forgotten. Projects like this already blogged-about owl, who languished for some time before rising from the depths of the project box, like a blue sparkly phoenix.

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Projects can end at the bottom of the box for a range of reasons; sometimes they have mis-behaved (for example the gauge has been madly off prediction), sometimes they have proven too difficult for my brain at the time (lace, I am talking to you right now) and sometimes for no reason other than a newer, shinier project caught my eye. This scarf is a prime example (Lumio light reflecting yarn for the curious), less than an evening was all that was needed to finish it.

This year there hasn’t been much project pruning (as the up side to regular sort outs is that it does make you more ruthless about keeping casting on doomed projects). This was a definite high point as I made the happy realisation that everything in the project box was wanted and viable, just slipped out of sight.

Now, what else can I finish?

LouBug

Sock It To Them

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Finish Up February is slowly still chugging along (yes, I know it is now March), and has resulted in a new finished pair of socks.  Admittedly the pair breaks the “rules” as I cast on when I shouldn’t have had, but it is my game and I can change it when I want to!  I like the colour-way, as the grey and purple sits well together and being Regia I already know that they will wash and wear like iron.

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And now I have cast on a gorgeous new pair with a really cool colour-way.  It is from the summer yarn holiday explosion (Get Knitted in Bristol) and happily I have three more in the same brand and hopefully the same wash/transition of colours.

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These are just what the doctor ordered as the dreary days are starting to brighten and green things are starting to emerge.  I especially like that they reflect my current garden view of green grass, yellow flowers and blue sky.  I have called them “Sprung”, as I hope that they will herald the new spring (and an end to the dreary wet weather).

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Talking of green things, my Zonki socks are chugging along.  These do require more brain power that I have (as the lace is wonderfully complex) but I really like the way they are coming out.  The leaves have a nice 3D puffy effect and the yarn over pattern really shows it off well.  I shall keep picking at these but I suspect that they won’t get done until Easter.

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Well, my yarn diet isn’t going very well, but I have at least managed a one-in-one-out sock ratio with this lovely yarn now snuggling into the stash.  I like the Vincent colour-way (I used a different one on Mr LouBug’s Christmas socks) and it strikes me as a good autumny colour-way.  The blue will be better for summer, as it is eye-catching and a bit tropical watery.

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I got this on the way to Braintree Free-Port, a little yarn shop that is basically a summer-house at the back of Cherry Tree garden centre.  It is a nice idea, and there are about a dozen of these summer-houses all with different shops in them.  This is nice as it allows small start-up businesses to rent small units that are lockable but also attached to a larger shopping area and is a great place to find new boutique shops.

Time to sit in the sun and knit!

LouBug

A Time For Growing Things

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The foxes can now see! Yep, the buttons arrived and have been suitably placed to give maximum cuteness. So KnitWit, how’s your one fox pillow going….?

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Now I have the glory of a newly finished project behind me, my nose has started twitching as the air of spring is here. In the name of spring-cleaning I have had my stash box out and started dreaming of new projects.

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First up, I have made a good start on my pink sparkle scarf. This has been frogged from an unsuccessful crochet scarf and one of the first casualties from Finish-Up-February. Incidentally, despite only finishing two things, I did reach my goal of six row counters and I think it has helped my knitting mojo to know that the there are no unloved projects lurking around. This yarn is a prime example. It was sitting unloved for the best part of six months and now it is back and knitting up fast (I only cast on last week and I have already reached the halfway mark).

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It is based on the central panel of my disappointing cobweb scarf (ok, I am being unfair, the scarf is fine but it was such a trauma to finish it, I can’t bring myself to use it. Time will heal that I am sure. After knitting with cobweb yarn (think sewing thread), this 4ply is flying along, helped by the fact that it is only 30 stitches (not 60 stitches) wide. The colour transition works nicely and fades from almost white to a dark wine purple. There is also a “Crystal Barbie” coloured thread running through it (hard to photograph) that twinkles in the light.  

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I am also happy to report that by tracking and counting the colour changes I am comfortably sure that I will not run out of yarn. This is a blessed relief after the trauma of being short on the cobweb one! I am already debating using the rest to put a trim on the short ends. Failing that, I might have enough to make a skinny jacket scarf.

So, what yarn have you recently rescued from an unloved corner of your project box?

LouBug

 

Finish up February – the Big Knitting Push

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Momentum is building, Rows are being worked through. Things are being done.

Nothing has actually been finished, but I have been quite disciplined and focused on a few older projects which has helped them to gain momentum.

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I started my main push on the double knitted star scarf, which was progressing well (two more stars done) but I have hit the wall.  Double knitting is interesting (and in fairness I plan to use it again) but it requires full attention at all stages which makes it feel frustratingly slow moving.

Admittedly this is because you are knitting the front and back at the same time – so obviously it takes longer as it is twice the amount of work. It can be disheartening to spend a full evening and only progress by 11 rows.  I am totally with the plan of shortening it to a snood (paging KnitWit!), but that still leaves three (to be honest probably four) stars to go.  Hopefully it won’t have to have another 18 month time out….

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This weekend I have been blasting the cobweb scarf and it has grown impressively since I last blogged about it.  The main panel (58 stitches wide and a staggering 264 rows long) is done!

It was going nice and quickly by the end as I got into the rhythm of the pattern and I am already considering using the lace pattern to use up the recently frogged pink sparkly yarn.  My advice for anyone doing this is put a stitch marker between each repeat as it really helped me to speed along as my brain keyed into “stitch marker means YO” so all I really had to do was keep track of whether it was a knit or purl row.

I have now started on the trim, and after a few false starts I have got my head around how it joins to the sides.  The next challenge is the corners (I will have the book clutched to me like a security blanket), which I think I understand but I am a little wary of.

Definitely time to insert a life line!

LouBug

Blingin’ the Knittin’

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Finish up February is plodding on and so naturally I have been distracted into doing other things.  To my credit I haven’t cast on anything new (well maybe just one, but I like to have an easy pair of socks in my work/school bag). My want for the new hasn’t gone away.

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So, I have been directing this big ball of energy into embellishing another batch of project bags (because obviously I don’t have enough already).  I really love iron-on patches and I am fully aware of which ones are currently on sale in every craft shop in a 5 mile radius, as I always check the stands on my way to the yarn.

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Seriously, they are great.  Small amount of effort (2 mins with an iron) and *boom* a nice little lift to an otherwise gorgeous bag.  Glittery butterflies – I am there; cute little octopuses – sparkle away; cartoon cakes – all mine!

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Of all the bags made and played with, the pink butterfly one deserves a special mention as it was a bit of a fail-to-awesome bag.

All things being equal, I can get two bags from a fat quarter, one medium and a small sock bag. In order to keep the pattern repeat on the pink Cinderella fabric, I judged where to cut without measuring.  I happily made the medium drawstring bag and then made the small one but realised that the remaining fabric (even with a zip instead of drawstring) wasn’t big enough for a yarn cake.  It looked like an overstuffed sausage. I was so annoyed with it that there isn’t even any photographic evidence of it!

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Cue sulking, especially as I had already ironed on the butterfly.  I hit on the idea of cutting the bag up and using it to make an applique patch but as I was sorting through my fabric box I found some lime green fabric, which I have now inserted as an oval base.  It is now my favourite sock bag and I think I will use it as a new style bag as the insides are very roomy.

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Now, onto the knitting!

LouBug

Bath Mitt Frenzy

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It was always inevitable that ‘Finish-Up February’ would stutter to a halt with half term and ‘Crazy Cast-On March’ would begin early (although I am now on the sleeves of the big green jumper!). It is this time of year when my project bag collection, love of new needles and prolific stitch marker making suddenly pay off. It is unusual for me to focus on just one area of knitting (usually it is a scatter gun of casting on anything from blankets to egg cosies) but I am currently mad about knitting bath mitts.

Flannels annoy me. They either have to be bunched up in your palm or flap about while trying to soap up. Bath mitts are a genius item that allow a languid, relaxing bath moment to happen while also being practical and allow gentle soaping alongside much needed exfoliation.

I haven’t really made many bath related accessories before, but I have been aware that they are a big thing with our knitters across the pond. I have always been a bit reluctant to dismiss it as a knitting activity, as I appreciate that my sock knitting is regarded as mildly barmy by some knitters. However, the moment is now with me, fuelled by the fact that my favourite bath mitt has gone way beyond “well-loved” and is now firmly in the “not-even-for-dusters” camp.

The time has come, my friends, I have bought my last bath mitt!

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I like to approach things mildly logically and my first step was to get stocked up with some likely yarn. Luckily KnitWit was down at LouBug HQ this weekend and so we hit the shops. I think I have pretty much cleared out my local yarn shops of all of the likely varieties of cotton (I might have gone a bit mad, but it was rather pretty and I can always use it).

Second step is well underway; I have fired up the old sketchbook and I have been bouncing ideas around to see what I can see. The real joy of bath mitts is that one side is plan garter stitch (for exfoliation) but the other is a blank canvas of possibilities. The main thing stopping me at the moment is every time I am about to start knitting the main side I come up with a better idea!

The third step is still to come, the testing phase. Me (being me) I have carefully noted everything down and I fully plan to test, wash and check all the outcomes. I have no wish to make a bath mitt that leaves my arms an interesting shade of orange (even though I do come from Essex) or one that turns my whole wash blue.

Now, I am aware that my various obsessions have led to me making multiple versions of an item (just look at my project bag, stitch marker and sock collections). I am currently ignoring the fact that if I make one from each of the yarn types then I will have more bath mitts than a reasonable person needs. Factor in the fact that each ball should make about two and all I can say is “Be warned friends and family members, this Christmas is likely to have a bit of a gift theme…..”

LouBug

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