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

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Knitting All The Things…

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Autumn is in full blaze and it won’t be long before winter starts thinking dark thoughts. And so, I now find myself in need of all the things I started to knit in the hazy summer days. Now, you might have gathered that I have a bit of a strained relationship with my WIPs, some of whom I have barely spoken to or looked at in months. Others get doted on for months and then suddenly forgotten and others never leave my side until they are finished (I think they make the other WIPs jealous). There are even the strange few that I adore so much that I immediately cast on a twin (which invariably then gets forgotten).

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Ally Pally is a good motivator, as I often see things that inspire me and I want to make (and then invariably realise that I actually saw them – and started them – last year). This then leads to an all points search for it and I start going through the WIP box and bag check everything. For me this is usually a bit of a reality check (up there with a full stash search, pack and sort) as I find things that are quite cool and I want to work on them.

A lot of my projects manage to stay near the top of my project box (and so stand a chance of ever being finished) but far too many seem to have slipped through the gaps in my attention. And I am resolved to power through them and try to add at least an inch to every project. It may not sound much, but it just might be enough to start a completion frenzy for that lonely little project.

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So, to help shame me into finishing things, here is the list of bagged and started projects for the world to see:

*deep breath*

1. Four pairs of socks.

2. Two shawls.

3. Two cardis.

4. One jumper.

5. Two blankets.

6. One pair of mittens.

7. One brioche scarf.

8. One mitre square pillow.

9. One sock weight scarf (scrap down).

10. Two TMNT hats.

11. Two hello kitty hats.

12. Three pairs of Christmas socks, a dinosaur, a penguin, an angel, a small teddy, a reindeer and snowflakes for an already crocheted wreath.

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Some of these are Christmas knits (and on the schedule for half-term), some are small silly things (I do love the Let’s Knit kits) and some are serious projects that will need a hefty chunk of time.

Time to start knitting!

LouBug

Baby, It’s Cold Outside…The WIP Box

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I really want to start playing with my new Ally Pally kits (teddy, Coast blanket and Latvian mittens). Two things are stopping me at the moment – First the need to wind the yarn into yarn cakes (I love my ball winder); second the sheer number of WIPs. As mentioned, things have got a little out of control in my WIP box and I am committed to having a bit of a knit down to try to finish things, while it is still cold enough to wear them! I am resolved; I will re-boot some stalled projects, inject new life into the forgotten and just plain peck at the hulking heap of WIPs.

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In my last post I publicly admitted all of the projects in my WIP box, and now I would like to show you my first finished. This isn’t too much of a surprise, as I love the fluromania colours, pattern and (let’s face it) socks. Also (to be fair) they were pretty much done! But here I am, one less to go and not auto-casting on another (like a chain smoker in a 1960s action movie). I am also edging closer to finishing the red jumper (one sleeve done, next one picked up and 120 rows to go) and the green cardi (no new progress, but only the trim to go).

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But, let’s face it, these projects were already surviving near the top of the to-do pile and don’t really count amongst the legion of stalled projects. To help edge the poor forgotten knits along, I am also committed to knitting at least an inch on every stalled project (which might help re-boot my interest). First up in the re-boot is my wave pair of colour-work mittens (hey, I want to knit mittens, let’s go with that vibe). I even wound the yarn in the same way they did in the book (inside each other) as this apparently stops it tangling (after some snarl ups, I am not convinced and I plan to rewind them into separate balls when the first mitten is finished).

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These came bouncing, puppy like, into the WIP box earlier this year after finishing my lovely green and purple pair. These won my heart as I successfully did a complex stranded pattern without messing it up or leaving it to quietly decompose in the corner. Flush with success, I decided to make another pair, but when I bought the yarn I made a rookie error and chose the colours without considering the weight. The lovely purple pair was DK (4mm DPN), the wave pair is 4ply (2mm DPN). Which is great for the pattern, as it allows more wave repeats, but is twice the number of stitches per row and easily twice the number of rows.

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Snails have moved faster than this knits up. Not since the glacial slowness of the double knitting star scarf (shortened to a snood) has progress felt this painful. It does look epic, it will be super snug, and it even has a foxy little thumb gusset, but I need to seriously re-set my knit-expectations. It will also be good practice, as the lovely Latvian mittens will be on a wincingly small 1.5 DPN (so small, I will have to buy the needles, as even my mammoth hoard doesn’t have them) and will be equally slow progressing.

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There is also the small matter of the other three socks. The colour-work sheep socks I think might be better after the mittens, the CookieA heart socks are a tinsey bit involved, which leaves me the long forgotten Ruby Slipper socks. These will look excellent (basically they will look like I am wearing ruby slippers with white ankle socks on) but they have been re-started so many times, due to changes in ankle pattern, approach and frustration. The new plan is to now follow the EZ moccasin sock pattern and hopefully they will actually happen. If not, they will be formally frogged and the yarn re-purposed to make tiny Christmas decorations.
As long as the siren call of the sock stash can be quelled….

LouBug

Starting the February Finish Up

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Long term readers of the blog might remember my annual post-Christmas cracking of the WIP (work in progress). This is where projects face the question “Finish or Frog?”  This fits in nicely this time of year ,as I am too broke to go yarn shopping and desperate to start new things.  However, I cannot start new things as all of my row counters and all my 4mm interchangeable tips (and 2.5 DPNs) are in use.  Yes, I could just buy more, but then I would also end up buying more yarn (the only way to not buy yarn is to keep a 100 metre gap between me and the LYS).

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So here it is, 2014’s “Finish up February”.  Ok, so I tend to start this in January (especially in the long gap between New Year and January payday) and I tend to end it at half term (as who could resist new projects and time off?). But, it’s February is when the real push kicks in.

The goal is to end up with at least six empty row counters by half-term (not casting on is the real challenge).  I usually start by opening every single project bag and rating it from frog to finish.  This then quickly shows two trends; projects that are good but been neglected or projects that I have completely forgotten about and have two sad little rows on with neither ‘will’ nor ‘want’ to do any more.

There are those who can keep old projects for years and end up hiding them around the house, but I feel too sorry for the yarn.  Better to release it back into the wilderness of my stash than to leave it neglected in the corner.

Feb3

So far so good. I have finished my Christmas “Sittin’ & Knittin’ socks”.  These are the plain socks I knitted over Christmas to let my brain (which may or may not have been hitting the seasonal drinks) unwind.  These socks have seen nearly every Christmas special that catch-up TV can offer and have been a pleasing balm for my snotty flu brain.

If you remember, I wasn’t sure about the colour, but it has grown on me (even if it is more uncooked aubergine rather than “choc mint”). Being Jitterbug (mmm Jitterbug) it is lovely and soft and deliciously decadent merino.  Not that I am addicted (or even sponsored by them!) but you have to love a yarn that is practically named for me (when LouBug dances, she is the Jitterbug!). Even better, the colours look like a kids colouring book.

Feb4

I am also pleased to report the completion of my “Katniss” socks, which were started to celebrate the second Hunger Games film.  The colour reminded me of the forest greens in the film and the criss-cross pattern looked like a plat (which Katniss wears), as well as the fence around District 12.

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The pattern is a CookieA “Wandia” from Sock Innovation, which I have made before, but this time I made a teeny balls up on the cuff (K2 P2 K1 P2). On one sock the K1 is exactly 1 stitch jogged to the right of the main pattern.  This means that it doesn’t line up with the first diamond.  Grr….

Feb7

I consider it a point of personal growth that I did not frog the damn thing and start over! Admittedly it is hard to spot (I challenge you to see the fault in the two cuff pictures).  But I consider it a bad sign that I still notice it (despite the hazy yarn) and I accept that if it still bothers me after the first wear and wash I will be doing a franken-sock chop and graft to fix it *sigh*.

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So, anyone joining me on Finish up February? How many row counters are you aiming for?

LouBug

Chunky Yarn Knitting

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Well, 2014 is here and I am happy to report that I have already started and finished TWO projects.  KnitWit’s influence has led me back towards chunky and a little LYS trip on the 31st also left me buying some of the light reflective “Lumio” yarn (which I spotted first, but KnitWit has already claimed blog glory on).

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For those who haven’t seen this yet, it is basically an acrylic chunky that has a thin thread of a light reflective fabric (think of the high-vis stripes on trainers).   It comes with a back of the ball band pattern for a hat (which KnitWit made) and it comes in a variety of colours.

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It is hard to photograph, but it looks like it has small bright white speckles in it as it catches the light.  This look especially cool when you have it in a shadow, or are out in the dark, as the light seems to come from nowhere.

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I decided to make a snood with it, and I think it has come out rather well. I cast on 20 and I kept going until I had about 2 foot of yarn left – I used this to graft the end to the beginning. I was really pleased that I made it all during a lost afternoon of film watching.  I love it when the light catches it as it looks like someone has turned on a fibre optic glow thread. I have to admit that I do keep showing unsuspecting people at work (even the kids) just because the coolness needs to be shared.

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Another win for 2014 is this new mauve hat.

The yarn (Hayfield chunky with wool) is from Ally Pally and the pattern is “Starving Artist” by Laura Linnerman.   I spotted a friend at work with a similar hat, totally coveted it, and did a full-out books, folder and internet search to find the right pattern.

Now, I am not a massive hat wearer and I am very much a weather dependant hat wearer (whether it is preventing sunstroke or hyperthermia) but this one has been out several times already despite the weather only being a bit wet.  This may become the hat that converted me – stranger things have happened!

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Fresh on the needles, and despite the fact that I have 3 other jumpers on the go, I also cast on a new jumper (it sort of just happened, I blame the mulled wine).

I am using my own pattern (Big Grey Huggle Jumper) and it is a relaxing k2p2 with shaping.  Part of me really loves these 400g balls of yarn, as there is a definite hobbit knitting comedy appeal about them, with the added bonus of nothing but cast on/off ends to be woven at the end.

Anyone else have a burst of activity fuelled by mince pies and box-sets?

LouBug

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

One Row Lace Scarf – New WIP 4KCBWDAY3

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I picked up this lovely red 4 ply sock yarn at Franklin’s in Colchester. LouBug gave me an elaborate shawl pattern to try, but being the older sister I have decided to over-rule her decision. Not because my knitting knowledge is superior, just because I have found an easier pattern 🙂

My first port-of-call (of course) was Ravelry. After plugging in my requirements, I discovered a free pattern for the One Row Lace Scarf by Turvid.

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It looks great, but (crucially) looks very simple. A few knits and YOs and this scarf will be mine!

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Thwarted, as ever, by my lack of kit – I just have to source some 6mm needles first.

Then, this scarf will be mine!

4KCBWDAY3

KnitWit
Ps – If anyone is wondering what the crazy letter/number combos are hidden in the blogs this week, they are part of the 4th Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

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