And In With The New…Knitting

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During Easter I took the time to give the stash a bit of an airing and (predictably) now cast on a pile of things. I have even bagged up some Christmas sock knits (yes, I do know it is May). I had the slightly embarrassing conversation with Mummy KnitBug where I revealed the full extent of where the stash went (which is basically like admitting to how much you weigh, although it is possible that I might actually weight less than the stash – what a frightening thought….). The conversation started with asking what colour she wanted, which she said could be anything I could spare from the stash. This then led me to admit that she could pretty much name any colour and I would have it (for example I have a few different shades of purple) and yes, I did in fact have the requested bright pink/blue.

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Dolly Mix has progressed well, and has got the planned 6×6 (36) squares completed; to cover a double bed I think I need about 12×12 (144) squares but I knew before I started that there wasn’t going to be enough to do this in one hit. The point of the blanket is to use up scrap DK (from projects, free magazine yarn or from knit kits that don’t catch my eye) and not buy more yarn! So (as planned) I am now going to rest it until the summer to give me time to generate more scrap DK acrylic.

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One potential source of yarn is the now started crochet kit by Attic24 bought at last year’s Ally Pally. I usually resist kits, as in my heart I know that I can do it cheaper (or in a better colour, material or with massive design changes) but I would have bought the finished blanket (if available) as it is such a perfect balance of colours. For once I “want that one” and have no planned changes. I am still very much at the starting blocks, but given that projects can languish for years, a six month wait is practically a rush starter. I am considerably slower on crochet that knitting, so it might be done for winter (2015? 2017? 2049?). Hopefully I will speed up as I go and chew through all 84 rows (with 213 stitches per row) nice and quickly.

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Last (but not least) I have now flown through the blue yonder shawl. This is from the very lovely 4ply that KnitWit bought me at Christmas (which is incredibly soft) and I chose “Timpani” from Sock Yarn Shawls. This starts off with a plain section, which should show off the subtle blue/lavender purple colour wash and then ends with an interlocking rectangle lace trim. Things got a bit interesting when I completed the original number of repeats, popped in a little lifeline and then attempted to squeak in another pattern repeat before the trim. For those that heard the howl of frustration, I didn’t! but my trusty life-line meant that it was annoying and not soul destroying.

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As a top tip, I have used dental floss for my life-line; not as random as it sounds! The hive mind of Ravelry rates it for life-line as it is slightly waxed (making it easy to remove), stronger than sewing thread (so less likely to snap) and easy to stash in your notions case. However, the minty fresh aroma is definitely a little odd with the lavender scent generated by the anti-moth herb bag.   Let us hope the smell fades over time!

LouBug

 

 

 

 

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Australian Yarn Bombing

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I have been away, but I have brought gifts! Behold: A photo of my first ever yarn bombing spot. This was taken whilst strolling along one balmy evening along the Sunshine Coast in Australia. Yes, I’m showing off – I’ve been all the way to Australia with two small children and survived to tell the tale. Medal please!

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The trouble with planning such a big trip (oh yes, boo hoo me!), is that it requires huge amounts of time and effort to plan, and then to recover from. Plus bringing two pointy sticks on board aircraft appears to be frowned upon. These are my slacker excuses as to why I have neglected this poor blog for approximately the last 400 years (yes, it really has been that long).

Anyway, as a brief interlude between knitting projects – a holiday slide show:

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Australian Prime Minister – Best holiday spot. Ever!

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I can assure you that this kangaroo was alive – it was just VERY lazy

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Koala – Also very lazy!

Okay – enough holiday snaps. To ease me into life in the northern hemisphere once again, I have dug out my striped blanket. Really nice to knit (knit, knit, knit), and it should be completed in about the year 2020.

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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

 

 

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

Knit, Knit, Knit

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Ah, yes – what holiday is complete without the essential purchase of composting toilet bags? I’ve just ordered several for our family summer trip on the high seas. Apparently the Scandinavians don’t dig pumping raw sewage into their waters, which is fair enough. The thought of dealing with bags of sewage, however, and the ever-present threat of “Boy Overboard” is enough to send me over the edge, but one must soldier on. I have great faith that my seafarer father will stop any disasters – after all I survived, along with my siblings, many a voyage. Tethering my sons to the rigging wearing miniature life-jackets should do the trick – for their safety of course, not just for some quiet time drinking in the sun.

For the moment though, thoughts of our watery-camping style holiday will have to take a back seat – there are still many glorious child-free weeks to savour before The Summer Holiday.

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As you can see above, my knitting efforts have been bounding along. I manage about 8 rows a night, which includes one black stripe and one coloured stripe. At this rate, I’ll be done by the time winter sets in, hurray!

The colours are great, and I’m feeling so confident that I’m going to attempt knitting whilst watching Borgen, my latest Nordic Noir pleasure. Not since the days/lost hours and hours of watching The Killing (another Danish subtitled delight), have I attempted such feats of brain power.  All of this must be achieved in the upcoming crucial four weeks, before everything grinds to a halt and one must spend the long summer days herding, entertaining and hiding from ones children long enough to micro sleep. Better crack on then.

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KnitWit

Winter Is Coming!

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Fooled you! No it is not winter yet, not even close, but I have been knitting blankets anyway. I have no idea why I seem to knit heavy, hot and large blankets in the summer, but it does seem to be a bit of an annual pattern. Granny’s Garden was last year’s effort, Rainbow blanket before that, yoyo throws before that, I could go on. This year, filled to the brim with “Game of Thrones” (a must-have viewing), I have decided to name Mr LouBug’s new blanket “Game of Throws”

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Made from two big balls (200g each) of James Brett’s Marble Chunky, which I managed to get half-price in the high street, I cast on 100 and knit until it was all used up. It worked out at just over a metre by about 70cms, which is a good length for keeping laps warm and drafts out in our Victorian built house. I have already planned to make myself one in a different colour-way, but as I prefer narrower and longer throws I think I will cast on 80 for mine. Drum roll please, and I give you “Game of Throws” (guarded by a terrible dragon).

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And guarded it needs to be. Cat decided to move in to the blanket (as possession is nine-tenths of the law) while it was still on the needles. In true Game of Thrones style, I thought that the armies would start massing for war and the banners would be called.

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So far, this mighty battle of wills was only narrowly been avoided by the hot day, but Mr LouBug will have a fight on his hands when the temperature drops.  Don’t tell him, but my money is on Cat winning!

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I am really pleased with how it has worked out, the pure acrylic is quite soft and the colour wash is nice and autumnal. Perfect Mr LouBug colours!

Now time to slay a dragon and win the north!

LouBug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Bear From Let’s Knit

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Here he is. George. Taken from a free pattern in last month’s Let’s Knit. I’ve given him a slightly “office loon” look with his improvised bow tie. He’s like one of those colleagues whose dedication to the firm has reached double digits, perhaps even adorning their desk with a little sign “you don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps!”

Life clearly is not as fast-paced as it should be – I am now making up personalities for my knitted teddy. This is very bad. Very, very bad.

George plus Eggberts

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Still, the sun is shining and the temperature is hovering around 25 degrees – so clearly a great time to be ploughing on with my chunky knit lap blanket!

I’m aiming for one black stripe and one (6 row) colour stripe a night (before I merrily collapse snoring in front of some terrible Sky Living programme). As I said, a fast-paced life indeed.

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I’ve completed the three colour stripes that I’m planning, so I’m back on the pink next. It’s all garter, which basically means I’m far more likely to tackle it during my prime knitting time (fatigued at the end of the day).

All the other patterns I’ve seen are all light-weight lace knits. How I’d love to churn out a delicate scarf or shawl, and how tempting despite my many failed efforts and clear lack of skill. I’m more likely to be chosen as a last-minute substitute for the World Cup team than I am to successfully complete one of these wonders. Lace knitting has become like a bad relationship, I know 4 ply is not my type, but I can’t help thinking it’ll be different this time!

KnitWit

 

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