Green, Green Knitting Grass

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Colour-wise it is interesting that to survive the last rounds of the big red granny, I have been breaking things up by knitting some bright green socks. For those in the know about such things, red and green are on the same cone in the eye (which is why you can be red/green colour blind) and subconsciously I have followed this in my desire to distance myself from the sea of red.

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However, the big red granny is now (finally) done – just in time for high summer! But it is nice to know that it will be ready and waiting for me come September, or perhaps earlier judging by last summer

 

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I have also now finished my green on-the-go socks (basic no cuff, rib leg and plain foot). Another outing from the ever lovely JitterBug, bought this time from the “Norfolk yarn shop“ in Norwich. This is a relatively new (but thoroughly lovely) yarn shop in the centre of the town (in one of the side streets) and handily located near a very nice coffee shop. It was a struggle to only buy two skeins but I was strong and (technically) as I cast on straight away only one skein went to stash so really it only counts as one…… honest!

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So, two projects done and now to stick to my plan of clearing up my WIP box for summer.   Or at least my more honest plan of getting to the point that I can actually close my WIP box! I am still feeling the heat, so I think I will crack on with some floaty shawls, only three on the go to choose from….

LouBug

Blue Yoner #knitting

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Sorry for the hiatus, but Easter is my busy season (main GCSE marking) and KnitWit was off tripping around the world. But I’m back and although the blog was left hanging, I have been knitting like a demon. So where were we?

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The socks are done! Sorry for the old photo, but they are currently in the wash! And I have now moved onto this rather eye popping pair (Jitterbug “popsicle” which is the green one on the right) as my lunch time knitting.

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I think I will re-name them as I see a more spring/wood/meadow feel (for me a popsicle is more reds and oranges). I cannot think of an eye catching (ear catching?) name, but I fancy something a bit Lord of the Rings – like Fangorn or Buckleberry would work (or indeed simply call them “Hobbity socks”).

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As I have been (unsubtlety) reminded, I have been re-miss in not mentioning the lovely blue yarn that KnitWit gave me with my Christmas bundle, the often coveted “Malbro” is a heady mix of merino and silk and has been carefully positioned for maximum petting for months now. Whole Ravelry groups are devoted to this stuff and it is clear why; crisp colours, fantastically soft and supporting Women’s co-operatives in Peru; a feel good yarn on many different levels. Over Easter I took it from its petting perch and wound it into a ball and get it ready for use. It is 4ply but far too nice to use for socks (and I love socks!), so I have decided to give my “Sock yarn shawls” book another airing.

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The variegated blue/purple needs some room to shine, so a solid starting triangle (with a lace edge) is the way forwards. This pattern (Timpani) is the current firm favourite, as it has the solid start and the large blocks on the lace will carry on showing the colours off. I was tempted to do this earlier with some bright pink Jittterbug, but in my heart I know it would be a bit too dayglow for my taste in jackets.

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I will admit I also chose the solid block start as it is a speedy way to knit and I have already got most of the body triangle done. Onto the lace!

LouBug

When The Going Gets Tough… The Tough Knit Socks

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A new job is always a stressful transition. But factor in the emotional roller coaster that is teaching (and that is on a good day) and welcome to a stress work-nado (like a sharknado but with fewer chainsaws) of my life. Start of term is always a bit mad, as there are a billion things to do (we are talking a six Post-It note to-do list, people). Some of this has been hampered by me needing to learn new systems, find out who the “go to” people are and the actual location of meeting rooms. Luckily, everyone has been super nice – even the kids!

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But let us sidestep all of that and fall face first into the woolly loving embrace of knitting!

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With work cutting into my knitting time, socks are the best project to work on, as it is all about the visible progress. Both the red jumper and green cardi are still getting the odd row added, but due to their sizes it doesn’t feel like I am doing very much for my time, which can be disheartening. However, my on-going attempts to use up my sock yarn scraps has resulted in a burst of activity and I have finally started to knit the summer socks I wanted (yes, I know it is October). These ‘just cover the foot’ will allow a summer evening cosy toe moment with a lower risk of heat exhaustion. Happily, one pair can be made just from my left over Jitterbug (mmmmmm Jitterbug) and as I need to tweak the cast on down to 56 (opposed to 60) I can play with patterns I cannot usually fit into.

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The pink socks knitted up quite quickly, but they were a bit of a photo finish (50cm of yarn left eek!). When I cast on the next pair, I included a well-placed stripe of blue to ensure the yardage wouldn’t be such a headache. I figure I can then include any left over from this pair as a stripe in the next (and so on). These are now heading happily to the second toe with a comfortable amount of yarn still to go.

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On a more ambitious note, and in a foolish burst of activity at the start of term, I have also cast on these beauties. Stranded colour-work. Sheep. Cool colours. Plan! They look massive (70 cast on looks like a sleeve) but I have faith that it is necessary as stranded work is notoriously non-stretchy and can shrink a bit on the first wash. Naturally being 70 in a round it makes every round take longer and with the added slowdown of stranding which has made it fall from favour. But I keep adding the odd row here and there so it might be one of the surprise creeper projects.

LouBug

Toys In A Million, All Under One Roof

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Yes, it is that time of year again! The leaves are starting to turn brown, there is a nip in the air and I get up super earlier on a Saturday to brave the crazy-town driving in London and (over)indulge in yarny goodness.

So here it is, my big hoard! Which has two points of note, firstly I managed to spend less this year (sadly, even my yarn budget has had a trim down) and oddly I seem to have come home with more.

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Some of this is because these two (irresistible) skeins of Jitterbug represent all the sock yarn I bought. I know; this is an impressive show of self-restraint, up there with not eating the last biscuit.

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As part of my pre-Ally Pally prep I emptied out all my yarn and inventoried what I had. I then drew up a list of things I wanted, rather than my usual approach (which is a five-year-old in a sweet shop). Part of this yarn sort revealed the full extent that my sock stash has, well, exploded in size. Stress buying over the summer, day trips to places with yarn shops and a general sense of “but it is only one more skein” has made its impact felt. So I had to stay strong as I walked past the sale sock yarn, and keep reminding myself of the yarn mountain I already have. The flip side of this is that I shocked myself at lunch by still having well over half of my cash left (those pesky £15-£20 skeins normally burn through my wallet).

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I am also impressed that I avoided adding to my fat quarter pile (and believe me there was plenty of temptation) and lace weight yarn. Both are so very easy to buy and both are slow to use, and so I shall have to be contented with using up the fabulous things I already have. On the other hand, I did give (and keep to) a cross stitch kit budget. The goldfish is my favourite (I shall try to get a better photo later).

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This Rowan Calmer yarn was my best bargain (£20 down from £80!), and was even on the list! I had to be cruel to myself at Blacksheep Wools, the pile was just as inviting as usual. The temptation to burrow inside and build a yarn fort was there, but my yarn inventory had showed me exactly how many unused packets from previous years I still have. It is all good stuff, but there is a limit to how many jumpers I can finish in a year!

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On the other, I can always use a scarf! Especially one with a light reflecting thread. The original plan was to make the light one into a hat, but I keep looking at them as a pair and thinking some kind of striped scarf situation may need to happen.

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Another plus side to not going mad with the sock yarn is that I could totally justify going nuts on beads. I think I pretty much got something from every bead stall there, and I have got some lovely things (a bit too small for my camera to do justice to). My best surprise buy was from a £3 lucky dip bag of charms, in which I managed to get a pumpkin coach (perfect for my fairy tale stitch marker set). Alas, I also have 6 random rabbits with tennis rackets to find a home for….

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This was also the year of the kits (feeding into my aim of buying with a purpose, not with a giddy child approach). This little cutie was my “show special” gift for renewing my Let’s Knit subscription! I am already planning on knitting him/her a little hat and coat. Paws off diddy Knitwitlets, aunty is keeping this one.

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This next kit was a Stylecraft bargain (£25 for 15 balls) which will make a “Coast” ripple blanket by Attic24. I have already decided to trim it with light blue sparkle yarn and I also got a cute keyring as I managed to impress the stall holder by fashioning a handle out of a second plastic bag to help contain the yarn-splosion.

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Saving the best for last, I got this Latvian mitten kit (£10!) which I fell in love with. I was not alone in this mitten love and believe me, a set of 1.5 DPNs could not be found anywhere in Ally Pally for love nor money. I am a little daunted to knit on that kind of gauge, but I have been dancing around the edges of knitting a pair of these style mittens and seeing the kit made it seem too perfect to pass up.

But first I will need those pesky 1.5 needles…

LouBug

Zokni’d Out

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I am proud to say that I have now completed one of the first (could even be the first) sock patterns I ever printed out. Flushed with the success of the famous ‘first ever socks’ (and already in love with sock yarn) I plundered Ravelry like a starving student at an “all you can eat” Chinese buffet. A whole new world of patterns and ideas had suddenly been opened to me and I dived right in.

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But these socks defeated me before I even attempted to cast them on. The pin prick to my balloon of puffed-up pride. I adored the look of the socks, but felt my stomach drop at the mere sight of the lace pattern. What were these crazy things called YO, SSK, K2TOG? What the sock did the symbols mean? How on Earth could you possibly follow a pattern AND knit a sock? What crazy talk is this?

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So I sighed, and focussed on easier, self-striping patterns (I finally cut my pattern sock teeth on the ever popular “Monkey” by CookieA).

A year or so later, the lovely American lady at my knit group did a yarn run for us, on her holiday trip back to the States. This gorgeous pale super soft green yarn was my prize and I went back to my pattern folder to find it a friend. Zokni (by Pepperknit) seemed a perfect match (it even looked like the one in the picture) but yet again I bottled it.   The yarn was just too nice (and irreplaceable if I mucked it up). The pattern was still too hard. But the pattern was also too perfect a match to re-purpose the yarn. Big sigh, and back into the stash it went.

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And then, earlier this year a lightning bolt struck me. I realised that I was trapped in the pattern of buying nice yarn but then failing to use it, which basically left me a dream stash full of unusable yarn. I either needed to stop buying the good stuff or start using it (or failing that, accept my place on hoarders TV). So I got the lot out and consciously broke the mould and knitted a plain sock with my much coveted Jitterbug. Lightning didn’t strike, the Monty Python foot didn’t squash me and the world’s sheep didn’t suddenly go bald. Nope, all I got was some damn fine socks. So I re-examined the Zokni pattern and realised that it wasn’t as terrible as I remember. Its moment had finally come.

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I have been power knitting through these (with a brief brain frazzle that meant a side track back to plain and pink socks) and now they are done. The scary ten row repeat is actually very logical and I can see it creeping into other projects as it was fun to make.

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Lace socks can be hard to photograph (so bear with me) but trust me that their beauty and glory would make a poet cry. I just hope they don’t felt…

LouBug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Water And Hot Fire

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The warm weather has resulted in a rare burst of speed in my knitting and projects have been flying off the needles in the last couple of weeks. Naturally this has been matched by a worrying level of casting on (and if I am worried then you know there must be more than a few new projects on the go).

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First up, something still, calm and spring-like (picture daffodils in a field with a clear sky above). I give you Sprung (see above). I am really happy about the way the yarn has washed in and out of the colour changes. This is from the yarn super bargain I got at Get Knitted in Bristol over the summer, and I am pleased to report that I have three more balls (in different colour ways) still to enjoy.

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Annoyingly, it is a tiny bit out of sync on the toes (despite being exactly the same row count and matching exactly earlier), but even I concede that it is barely visible especially with the curve over the top, so I think I will let that one be.

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Another thing in the finish pile – I give you my self-medicating stress socks (see above). As I am sure you remember, these socks were a point of high necessity after a particularly hard week with deadlines and crazy levels of marking pounding at my door. There was none of the usual ‘calmly getting the yarn out, short listing, narrowing down and eventually selecting the top choices until the winner is found’. Nope, this was a quick mental review of what was available (and near the top) and then grab and cast on while my brain continued to frizz.

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Many people would worry that my brain needed bright pink socks to chill out but I am lovin’ the bright pink “Honolulu” Jitterbug (mmmm Jitterbug). The photo doesn’t do the bright pink justice, but trust me, it does indeed look like red-hot magma peeking out from under a burnt liquid metal crust.

Now, back to my knitting frenzy!

LouBug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yarn (Hang) Over #knitting

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And now it is birthday time again! Check out the carrot cake my Dad made!

This year the universe smiled on me as OFSTED didn’t make an appearance (I kid you not, they came on my birthday last year). Instead I got sunshine, fine food and pampering! I would like to give a big thank-you to my friends and family for my lovely presents. A big shout out to KnitWit for my lovely book (a Blurb hardback printed book of all of our blog posts so far – who would have thought we had written so much). Here’s to volume 2!

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As the wrapping paper is tidied and work returns to normal, I think I am now suffering a bit of a yarn hang over. I have been (relatively) restrained recently and mostly been keeping to my one in, one out sock yarn reduction plan and I have managed to reduce the summer holiday over-spill bag.

Unfortunately, I sort of lost all self-control over the Easter break and, with birthday money burning a hole in my pocket, the yarn shops gave their siren call. There are no two ways about it, I have definitely over-indulged and even Mr LouBug isn’t fooled that I only spent my birthday cash. This has gone beyond struggling to do the metaphorical top button of my jeans up and moved on to buying large tents and cutting a hole for my head in the top.

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This isn’t even all of it. This is just the yarn I needed to sort into storage today. I am not sure I really want to admit to all of it, especially after Mr LouBug innocently asked if Ally Pally was early this year. Luckily I am somewhat skilled at storing/hiding yarn, so soon he won’t see a thing…..

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First up on my stash shaming/gloating is my new best friend. Hello Fluromania. I first eyed up this eye-popping new yarn by Regia on my birthday money trip to the Tiptree Cheap Shop. The top two photographs do not do it justice, this stuff simply glows like an 80s disco dancer’s dream sequence. I was so impressed with it that I instantly bought the other two when I saw them in Cambridge (I only popped into John Lewis for some 12mm jump rings). I may have squeaked. Yes, I definitely think there was a little squeak (and possibly a burst of speed) when I spotted this GLOWING from the other side of the store.

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While I was in Cambridge it would have been rude not to pop to the Sheep Shop (especially on national yarn shops day). But it was definitely not good for my ability to close the stash box, as they just happen to stock Sparkleduck. Locally dyed in Cambridge, it comes in bright eye-popping colours and I just love the colour-ways. Jitterbug better watch its back, there is another contender for the top spot in my most favourite yarn list!

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But Jitterbug need not worry just yet. Sadly the Cheap Shop are not getting any more in as the supplier has raised the cost, so I did my bit to help them clear the existing stock. I know, I am just self-less like that… It looked particularly “bonfiry” next to the bright toxic Regia in my basket and I am already dreaming of a pair of autumn socks.

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Lastly (for today) I will show you the yarn I got on my birthday trip to Bury St Edmunds (home of Wibbling Wools). It looked nice enough until I spotted the picture on the ball band and then it had to come home with me. Ok, I was a year too late to win the Mini Cooper, but check out the bold self-stripe pattern. I have used mock fair-Isle yarn before, but this definitely decided to go up a notch and it should look like a TV test pattern when done.

And now I had better see if I can do up my actual top button on my jeans. Time for a double diet me thinks…

LouBug

 

 

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