Summer Holiday Parallel Universe

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LouBug and I are currently living in a parallel universe…We’re both at the start of the long school summer break, and have weeks and weeks yawning in front of us, but that is where the similarity ends…

LouBug has metaphorically kissed goodbye to her brood of children and skipped merrily into the joyous expanse of the summer break – au revoir pupils, this teacher has clocked off!

A swift phone call to LouBug HQ confirmed my fears that her only foray into “multi tasking” over the coming weeks will be reading her Kindle and knitting at the same time.

I, on the other hand, have skipped headlong into a chief supervisory role of two school’s-out-for-summer giddy boys. Yes, I know I birthed them and should brave the summer as one would stand firm against the ravages of a tornado…but please allow me just this one moment of wailing WHERE HAS ALL MY TIME GONE?!!

My case in point: The Scarf.

Several blog posts ago (back in the heady days of term time), I mused as to how I might create a wonderous lace pattern scarf. I did give it a go, efforts documented below:

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Yes, you might well laugh, but this took ages. LouBug confirmed my fear, that this is the reality of knitting with cobwebs and that progress would be sloooooooow.

The combination of my current summer holiday time Hoover reality, and my need for near instant knitting gratification has lead me to The Cheat. LouBug has let me into a little knitting secret…Apparently you can fake lace knitting with some fine yarn, large needles, good blocking and rapid garter stitch.

My efforts above (shown again below, for those readers with stamina who have reached this far but can’t face scrolling back up), aren’t that inspiring.

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It has a slight dish cloth aura, which really wasn’t the look I was after. Back to the drawing board. The Debbie Bliss yarn is too nice to waste, so although it pains me I shall be ripping it back and starting again with something new…ho hum.

KnitWit

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Knitting a Rainbow

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Ok, so I have the attention span of a kitten in a butterfly tent. This is well documented. Just look at my pile of WIPs (no, seriously, have a good look, there are some common themes (and a lot of purple) but many projects stop/started so long ago it boggles even me).

Conversely that is twinned with brief bursts of solo knitting that cannot be forced, focused or trained (or I would be able to start Christmas knitting in September). So despite my declarations of intent over bath mitts, Christmas and socks, I have been consumed by a new project.

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This is the Radiating Star pattern by Alexis Layton. I originally made this pattern a fair few years ago, but I could only afford to use acrylic, and didn’t really understand the point of blocking.

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Luckily I mentioned it to my knitting group and they warned me about not ironing acrylic (picture a group of women doing a slow motion “Nooooooo” as they dived between me and the imaginary iron) and I wet blocked it as best as I could. I then fell slowly and completely in love with the finished object. A proper lace project. It wasn’t another scarf (another mild addiction of mine), and most importantly it was purple. The yarn also had a slightly heathered effect, which, after only working with single blocked colours, impressed my younger self no end.

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Now, I do still love this lap blanket and I do love the easy, progressive lace pattern that swirls out of a star in the middle. One thing that I was always a bit annoyed about was the one in the picture has points blocked in on the edge and mine wouldn’t (and believe me I tried!).

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Until now! So here goes radiating star blanket #2. A nice wool-based yarn (with an added bonus of sequins built in the yarn roughly every 6 inches) that flows from one gorgeous colour to the next. I especially love, love, love the way the colour-way made the inside star all purple.

I am on the second ball now (although I chose DK instead of the suggested chunky as I wanted a lighter shawl/blanket). I have started to hit the wall – one that only 300-400 stitches to a row can produce. Eye of the tiger! And hopefully this won’t fall from grace and end up for a brief six-month stay in the project box!

LouBug

Little bit of Lace

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Summer is a funny time for knitters. Christmas knits are starting to happen, but the will and want for summer knits is still burning bright. Those cool cottons, non-sweaty silks and light linens call more to me than the heat packing acrylic and animal fibres on my to-do list. I am a great believer in being a selfish knitter (not necessarily by not knitting for others but knitting only on my own terms) and so my eye has turned to my stash and my books.

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First up there – progress on the bath mitt front.

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I personally like the duck one, but concede that the picture is hard to see (any thoughts, oh great hive mind?). The heart one is fun, and the rectangle is a better shape but I’m not sure I like the 4ply as it is not as soft on the body. Next plan is a simpler zig-zag pattern and it really has to be this orange!

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Inspired by KnitWit’s lace scarf, and unearthing some lovely yarn while stash diving, I have decided to dust off my much browsed, yet to be used, copy of Victorian Lace Today.

I love that book. It is full of ridiculously beautiful lace projects (the ones that casually ask for 1700 yards of sewing thread fine yarn) with lovely photos and tempting instructions (chart led for those who are curious). I have owned this book for years, even started a few patterns, but never had the nudge to start.

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Sisterly competitiveness aside (Mr LouBug accused me a starting my lace scarf just to flex my knitting mojo at KnitWit), this was the nudge I needed.

It is made from some Kid Silk Haze, which has the distinction of being both the most expensive yarn beginner me ever bought and the most frogged. Seriously, frogging anything with mohair type hair should be a punishment only for the truly naughty. It was originally bought about seven years ago when I was trying to make a cardigan from a magazine and not really understanding how to substitute yarns.

The crucial difference between a cotton/wool based aran and a microfibre/cotton based DK was a lesson learnt the hard way (I tried to match the gauge and really didn’t understand why it mocked me from afar). Luckily I hesitated before buying the trim yarn, which was seven balls of Kid Silk Haze (which was actually the named yarn) and hedged my bets with buying only 3. The cardigan taught me that I do not like modular clothes (the back didn’t match the front and could have fit a hunchback elephant) and caused me to learn how to use circulars to knit flat (as the flexible cable means you can try it on as you go).

This then resulted in me both knitting and designing my first cardigan and leaving me with 3 balls of Kid Silk Haze. This yarn has quietly guilted me. Too nice to knit something plain, but any mistakes in lace with it are punished swiftly and with malice. After failing to knit a complex leaf pattern (which would only have been properly visible after blocking) I saved what I could and buried it deep in the stash.

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Until today. Since that wine soothing, chocolate healing frogging hell I have mastered many skills. For one I can read a chart without losing which line I am on! So here I go again, but this time with a much simpler, much more haze yarn friendly pattern (that leaf pattern would work better with a silk based yarn).

LouBug

One Row Lace Scarf – Complete!

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This scarf, this item of great beauty, is by far the best, most difficult yet amazing things I have knitted so far. The pattern was so simple, yet looks like only a knitting master could manage it. The pattern is One Row Lace Scarf by Turvid.

Not a single mistake, not one moment of cursing and no rows ripped back. I think it is worth blocking, to show its full glory, and then I shall be parading about in it for all to wonder at.

Drumroll please – behold…THE SCARF:

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KnitWit

Spring Loaded

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Not only is it April, but it is snowing! Last Easter I took my table outside and sunned myself while getting the big Easter coursework marking done. This year I am most definitely not. Seriously, snow in April?!?!? So I have done what all knitters do in times like this, when the going gets tough, the tough start knitting. I figure the universe is highly likely to declare a heat-wave if I start knitting spring coloured things and hopefully I will be casting them off with a sigh and putting them away ready for 2014 (not huddling under blankets grateful for the new woolly things).

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Obviously I have no yarn and need to go shopping (la la la I can’t hear you, there is no yarn in the yarn box). Luckily a local Vintage Fair had a yarn stall selling the most wonderful spring coloured sock yarn (well worth queuing in the snow flurries to get in). It is by The Hen House, with its gorgeous flashes of pinks, yellows and greens. I am currently torn between making socks or using my lovely new book Sock-yarn Shawls: 15 Lacy Knitted Shawl Patterns by Jen Lucas to make a bold statement shawl. The sweet agony of choice!

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From there to a little day trip to London, in which I shrugged off museums and art galleries and managed to nip over to Angel to go to Loop. I love Loop and would happily move in and sleep under the counter, which has nothing to do with the fact that they have a whole Billy Bookcase full of sock yarn. It is such an oasis of calm in mad old London and always has something to delight.

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The photo really doesn’t do it full justice, the yellow yarn is actually high-vis fluorescent yellow. It actually glows when you peek in the bag! I am torn between going for socks all the way, or teaming it up with a black and having a striped scarf. For the moment I shall just pet it and boggle at how bright it is.

The light purple is lace weight and is going to have to disappear until my birthday (bless my mum) but I think I will brave my copy of Victorian Lace Today (by Jane Sowerby) and make one of their intimidatingly beautiful shawl wraps.

The dark purple and green are destined to be a thick pair of colour work mittens (possibly Norwegian style, possibly waves) which I will use to tempt the contrary weather back to sunshine. I figure it is a win-win, and if the warm weather doesn’t re-appear I will at least have warm hands!

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Until then I shall content myself with my nearly finished socks (yarn by Sparkle Duck) and dream of a time when it is too hot to wear them.

LouBug

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