Project Spectrum 2.0 April and May plans

The laptop is looking a little healthier now, DB is ‘accidentally mishearing’ me when I ask him about his opening his Easter Eggs as ‘ordering a new laptop’, and the next two months look like they will be many many times more productive than Feb/March for PS2.0 projects. I’ve been saving some stuff to finish, but I also have tons of yarns that I could work on, and tons of projects for them… Here is just a snippet.
The Greens
1) Finish stripey cardi
2) Knit gift socks for Basia in Piece of Beauty yarn (probably Monkey pattern)
3) Rams Horn cardi from Knitting Nature in Knit Picks Andean Silk
4) Kidsilk Haze vest of my own design using stash yarn (woohoo!)
The Pinks
4) Andrea’s RPM socks in STR Rhodonite (already half finished)
5) Socks for Shona in Fleece Artist Sea Wool Rose Garden (the most gorgeous heavyweight sock yarn I’ve ever used, and knits up with beautiful definition)
6) Socks for me in Alice’s Garden from my wonderful Sockret Pal 😀
7) A Fitted Knits puff sleeved cardi in that Phildar Phil’Douce gift yarn
8) More socks for me in the now apparently defunct Curious Yarns yarn in Heathertop
9) Even more socks for me in the other gift yarn from my Sockret Pal 😀
Sigh, so many projects and so little time! I’ll at least have a good 3 pairs of socks by the end of this section, and a cardi too, so that’s a good start! Should have at least one more garment on top of that, and I had a sudden idea the other day for what to make for that pending birthday gift – a felted flower brooch with beads sewn on. I have a few inspirational pics saved, and I’ll go by instructions by Rowan for the felting and shaping techniques. Plus I can use a few odds and ends of yarn I have hanging around as they would fit her taste too. I just need to draw something up, knit and felt up a few squares (probably no worse than swatch size) to trim to the right shape and size, and play around a little, so should be lots of fun to make something so small but with lots of thought in. Wrapped in tissue paper in a box, I have high hopes for it, so cross your fingers on it for me. First step is to rummage through my stash, but I think some Kidsilk Haze mixed with Kid Classic and some other heavier yarns could make for a nice floral design. Stitched up with more KSH and beads, it could be quite pretty.
Oh, and at the end of April I go to Barcelona. And the end of May sees my 30th birthday (a day of fear as I enter my first meaningfully scary decade (shouldn’t I have everything by now?! When I was little I thought I’d be married by 18 – lmao!), but at least I can have a big party and a good excuse to get my mates round from all the corners of the country).
Should be a good couple of months ;D

A quickie ;)

Thank you for all your lovely comments! I love how everyone seems to interested in different things. I’ll respond this weekend to all questions though – the laptop is playing up (first the keyboard, then the memory), but it is 2 and a half years old so has done us proud for the price it was purchased at, and it hasn’t gone yet. Just that DB needs it for important work stuff soon, so I don’t want to wear it out! My puter is unplugged to free an extension, so my other option is using the media PC to post which means using the TV screen to surf the web :S Ok in small doses, but not good for writing a million emails or commenting on other blogs :/
Oh and Leah, yeah I know about the Soak, but US to UK exchange rate and postage is just too much 🙁 It would make it more expensive than buying a bottle of whiskey! I’ll wait till I need more things/Yahaira gets gorgeous things in that I really really have to have before I slip some into an order… Prob won’t be too long 😉
Oh, and last but not least – I got some Seawool! Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. Ruth was totally right about it!
More when things are reliable/I can get onto a pc that doesn’t nearly melt my eyes when I type for more than 10mins…

An interesting productive weekend (i.e. long post with many pics)

I’ve not managed much knitting this week, after being absolutely knackered for various reasons. And yet I have two finished objects for photos, and a promise to keep on a WiP, and also some lovely lovely lovely secret pal pics after a week of miserable weather. And a little story which may lead to nice things later on.
Ok, first up, a pair of easy chunky socks for Chris at work. Easy, quick and therefore very easy to procrastinate on, and after he complained when he saw me working on something else at work, I thought perhaps it was time to kill the project and shut him up (temporarily – he’ll want other things now, or replacement socks when these wear out).
There. That was easy wasn’t it. I cast on for the second sock last night, finished it this morning. Made in leftover bits of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Superchunky, so even in man socks they were knocked out fairly sharpish. Don’t know why I was so lazy over them.
Number 2 – Hourglass!!! It wasn’t dry till this morning, so I couldn’t take pics that justify it (weather issues, filthy mirror, bad hair blah blah blah and all this just in the pic here!).
Made with a large quantity of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (a theme here?), maybe about 7-800g as I estimate there is about 300g left over in little bits and bats with a couple of good nick balls in there too. The yarn was recycled from another project (remember the ribby cardi of evil? The one that was oh so warm and soft, but looked, frankly, shitty?), so the quality of the fabric isn’t top notch, but is good enough for me. Finished with a week to spare for Project Spectrum 2.0 (if I include blocking) so that was quite good wasn’t it?
I do love this jumper, both for wearing and learning about stuff I’ll use in future in my own ideas (when they happen). Even though the seams took about 3 and a half hours to do (and do properly), I would use that technique again as it just adds a professional touch to the way the garment looks. It would be fab for making glove and mitten cuffs to add some thickness as it is still very forgiving of stretching in the way it is sewn. The shape and the fit of it is great too, and I love the sleeves and the way you only need a few decreases in comparison to the increases at the top – to get that shape I would probably have gone way over the top in shaping… In other words, this is the first garment I’ve made (not including socks please note) that I feel I’ve learnt about construction and design from enough to go out and make one from scratch. I’m impressed with the bottom up one piece method too, although I still feel drawn to top down for the sake of yarn estimates until I get used to the numbers, and I hated doing the decreases for the collar at the start, dragging the sweater round my lap on that circ needle. The only mod I’ve made to this, apart from subbing yarn, is the one everyone else and their dogs use, and made a couple of extra decreases on the collar to save scary 80s flashbacks and shoulder slippage. And it only took about a year to get this done 😉
Trois – a flash at things to come. RPM made in STR Rhodonite for Andrea 🙂 Not much to show yet, but you can see why I like the yarn with this pattern.
It is starting to stray a little, but I think the play between pattern and colour will work really well even if they don’t move together, hopefully in an optical illusion kind of effect. Should be a good one 🙂
I’m also working on Pippa, the felted bag of neglect, who is now officially my oldest project still on the needles. Pippa will not be having a coming out ball by the end of the month. No fancy dresses for her. I have about 80cm of st-st on straight needles to go to finish her off, plus sewing, felting, more sewing and probably a large amount of staring blankly at her wondering whether she will be of any use to me. Well, she might not go to a ball, but she will probably end up in the pub a few times, or be useful as a literal knitting bag. I might even gift her to a particular person I have in mind, but I won’t know that till later.
The best for last. My sockret pal has been having a rough time of it recently, but she still managed to send me a parcel which arrived last weekend in the middle of a major snow, sleet and rain festival. Behold how gorgeous she is 🙂
Brooke went with an ‘Alice at the Mad Hatter’s teaparty’ theme, so I have a little tin of chinese flower tea (which I currently can’t bring myself to open in case I drink it all – smells gooood), some hedgehog stitchmarkers, apple-cider lip balm (yum yum, on my lips as I type), a cucumber and green tea soap (another tasty smell, and packaged so beautifully), a sachet of raspberry and cream beads which is in my wardrobe to keep it fresh, postcards of Brooke’s family (only kidding petal ;D), some gorgeous stamps. Oh, and just the best, most fitting colourway of yarn I’ve ever been gifted. Brooke dyed that yarn herself, and it is called Alice’s Garden. It smells of the raspberry and cream but also came with a little lavender sachet too to keep it clear of bugs. I seriously cannot wait to wind and swatch with this to pick a pattern. It fits in with some of next month’s PS2.0 stuff, but I had promised to knit older stash before new ones each time I made a sock for myself. I know strictly speaking the HipKnits cashmere was an older one from stash, so maybe I could be guilt free and remind myself that STR is for someone else…
Brooke, I’ve said this already in my email, but I have the best secret pal. You surpassed all expectations, particularly given your rough year so far. Thank you so much for these beautiful gifts.
Finally, a little story. After many unfortunate occurances this week, I was going to, then wasn’t, then did go to the first Knitting and Crochet Guild open day on Saturday. My mum took me, both of us thinking we could do with a day out and some nice things, plus I was hoping that I might see something special for my secret pal before I send her parcel out on Monday (no such luck – everything they had was stuff she’d already have 🙁 the thought was there though). I did get the full set of Barbara Walker’s Treasury series, something I’ve wanted for forever (or at least since I saw the first book), and at a much cheaper rate than I could ever get on Amazon or in second hand shops seeing as there are no good ones that would have it round here. Beautiful crisp new copies too. Because I knew I would buy them all and not just two of them like I considered, I bought a single ball of yarn (plus I really really don’t need any more yarn! I’d taken some to donate for them to sell, like a good girl, too). One ball of Trekking Pro Natura (25% bamboo) in colour 1605, a lovely dark nearly solid blue grey blend.
The shade is much more solid than it looks on Get Knitted. No idea if it will knit up like that though! I need more nearly solid yarns to make some of the more decorative sock patterns in my books, so I figured on ball of yarn wouldn’t ruin the stash after donating a big bag full of yarn (perhaps I should mention there was 500g of Jaeger Mohair Art, 400g of 4 ply mercerised cotton in a colour I’ve gone off, and some remnants of the DB Astrakahn which I would never have used. Over a kilo – hoorah!). While we were there, mum bought a big pile of R2 Rag in a coral colour from the yarn mountain, and I picked up some buttons (25p a packet) and some new Inox bamboo 2.5mm dpns to help supplement the increasingly broken/missing collection, and bumped into Amelia who I was totally rubbish with and didn’t recognise till she came right up to me (although I would like to point out that when I shop, I shop and that is all I can concentrate on ;D). Sorry pet! You have every right to smack me one ;p She bought lots of things too, and revealed the very clever idea of putting nice yarn in individual balls in a big vase. Mmmmmmmmm.
After that we popped down to Holmfirth for lunch, then headed to the local farmshop and saw the alpaca again 🙂 After wandering round the shop and picking up the best red onion chutney ever plus some beer, I asked the lady serving whether the alpaca belonged to the farm, and she told me that a lady was using the field to keep them there rather than them being farm property, and that she was going to sell the fleece. Intrigued, we wandered back outside and put our bags in the boot of the car, spotting that a woman with a couple of boys was in the field. We were parked right next to the field gate, so we thought we’d have a nosy along with quite a lot of other people. The little dark alpaca had a bridle on and wasn’t all that happy about it – it would jump up a little, then kneel down, then the boy holding the lead would pet the alpaca a little, it would feel better and wag it’s tail a little, and get up again for a bit, then get cross again, and the whole thing cycled through a few times while we were there 😀 The lady came up to the fence and told us she was trying to get the younger animal used to wearing the harness as she was going to a show soon, but as it was only 6 months old, it hadn’t really had any experience wearing one, and was rebelling a bit. She told me about how she had plans to have a full herd of animals in the different colours, was hoping to get a pregnant female soon, and how alpaca have to live in at least pairs of the same sex as they get lonely and stressed, but that males and females can’t live together. She’d got some fleece from another breeder, and had a few from her own animals, and she spins her fleece into yarn and has plans to knit clothes and sell fibre and so on. I mentioned I was a very amateur spinner on drop spindles and a keen knitter, and we petted the younger animal a little, and she was generally very interesting, and said that she has a business in a mill complex I pass on the way to town and that I should pop in some time. Her and her husband both have their own businesses in addition to the alpaca plans, so she gave me a leaflet and told me to contact her and we’d get together. I’ll be emailing her this week, as she suggested quite a few interesting things, which if they come to fruition could be very cool indeed. If nothing else though, I learnt a lot about alpaca, including that if one of her sons lets go of the lead on the harness, the alpaca will run away very fast and she will be very difficult to catch. We thought we better leave at that point 🙂
Ok that’s enough. It is probably a good idea for me to do some more spinning now (it fits in with PS2.0 btw!).

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Just a brief one.
The good – I got a Sockret Pal package, and my pal is SO better than yours. Also I finished the knitting on the Hourglass 😀
The bad – I ate something bad yesterday I think, and had an interesting morning, followed by a less interesting but still slightly interesting afternoon. I think I’m ok-ish now. And the UK really needs to get someone to order Soak wool wash in. It is divine and sooo much easier, but nobody on this side of the water stocks it. I’ll risk customs costs to get some though, gladly.
The ugly – my lace leaf pullover needs a major shave. I currently look like a so-drunk-he’s-very-ill Fozzy Bear in it. Still warm and cosy though. And now I have to do some sewing to finish Hourglass off :S

Just processing some thoughts

I’m currently enjoying a couple of extra days off to make up for the week of leave that turned into sickness, and it is bliss. Yesterday I did a little housework, and a lot of lazing around and enjoying a quiet house and a quiet environment. I also managed to knit a sleeve and attach it to the hourglass sweater, so now I just have one sleeve, the yoke and the sewing over to do. Definitely looks good for finishing this month. For some reason though, knitting the sleeve really tired my hands out. Because I finished well before lunchtime, I could have really made a dent into the second sleeve, but no. My poor yarn finger couldn’t handle it.
Instead I ripped out the sock I was making in STR (Retro Rib btw), and changed my pattern to RPM from Knitty, and it looks soooo much better. The pattern is currently following the stripe in the yarn perfectly. It is ACE. I suspect that will change, at least after the heel, but for now it looks just spot on 😀
The point of this post is kind of to gather my thoughts for future knitting. These projects have been taking my time up for so long that I’m not sure where to head next when they are done. I’d like to stick with the PS2.0 theme colours, which means knitting up my Knitpicks Andean Silk, which should be good. I’ll also finish off my stripey cardi, which won’t take long at that gauge, and Chris’s socks, another quick job using DB Cashmerino Superchunky. All of those feature green, so it would be nice to incorporate some of the yellow and pink too (pink and purple will be featuring in my next gift knit – a friend reminded me that her April birthday often still has snow, and we are due snow next week, so a scarf it is!). I don’t think I have ANY yellow in my stash 😀 Do you think I’m a yellow girl? There you go then. There are some nice pinks though. The only question is which pinks and how to use them. Because, you know, clearly I cannot actually think about working on the projects from this section that will need finishing off (Chrissie and the felted bag), or even just starting them properly. And I’ve decided to frog Print O’ the Wave and reknit it using the same yarn, doing it correctly (!!) and using the added border from the Posh Yarns version so that I don’t run out of yarn. It does mean it won’t get knitted up until August, but it will take one WiP off the list till then, and by the time that one is finished, it will work for an autumn scarf.
I’m really enjoying thinking in terms of colours and timing – it is definitely making me think about my stash yarns in a more creative way and about how to put yarns together rather than how I can use that one yarn, that single fibre, that couple of balls with x yardage. The inspiration on the Flickr site is overwhelming – there are so many very talented people out there, and for some people this may be the best way to discover their own creative voice.
Hmmm, that was an odd post, but I need breakfast now. Hopefully there will be pics of a nearly finished jumper soon. Or at least a pretty RPM sock.

Plodding on

And so, as the weeks turn towards the end of March, I plug away at my big pile of WiPs and gift knitting. And you know what? This weekend I finished two, both PS2.0 related 😀
First up, we have Conwy from Knitting on the Road, knit in HipKnits 100% cashmere sock yarn in Storm, and using 2.5mm Brittany dpns.
I love these socks. They are yum. The cashmere felt a little harsh at first, but softened up so much during the knitting process. I do appear to have had some kind of winding related accident with this yarn though.
The first sock is visibly wider than the second, but the row gauge was exactly the same. The first sock is also really fuzzy and a little paler than the second. I think this is down to me winding like a demon by hand (before the advent of the swift) off the back of a chair, and letting the outside of the ball of yarn get all fuzzed and sun-bleached while the inside was protected and loved in its cocoon of cushiness. There is a lesson in this. Don’t leave yarn where it can get battered and fluffed up, and don’t wind like a demon because you are obsessively making the hank into a centre-pull ball, only to find that the ball winder won’t work properly with the chair back and makes a big mess. Don’t take your frustration out on the yarn and speed up so that you end up pulling it stupidly tight and making it go a bit wiggly.
I have also learnt from this that I don’t like using calf shaping in my crew socks (a term I learnt this week thanks to Ruth) or making a long leg. I do go for a shorter leg length in general anyway, but these aimed to be about 8 inches before starting the heel flap (I stopped once the shaping was complete, probably about 2 inches shorter than the pattern recommended), which is another 2 inches or so. The shaping combined with my mad stitch gauge has made one sock a bit too loose on the leg for my liking, and one sock just nice. In addition to this, I have learnt that I can make one pair of long socks and one shorter pair – I still have 44g left from the 100 which is plenty for another pair of socks for me, or lots of baby socks in a lovely soft touch yarn 🙂 Shame it isn’t machine washable, the only thing making me stop and think about whether I would make baby or me socks.
Next up, a gifty for Cherry 🙂 I had to hold back on publishing this post in case she read it, as she has a tendancy to sneak a peek on here when she is bored (hello petal! [waves]). I wrote and photographed all this on Sunday afternoon (so you see? I haven’t even finished the weekend and I have finished two things 😀 There won’t be anything else for a looooong time now ;D). Cherry needed some cheering up happy things, and we were going to get a lovely Etsy thing, but it sold out 🙁 Instead, I had a brainwave and remembered the chats we had about how ace Totoro is and how lovely these crochet patterns for the little and big one are, and how she would need to learn crochet, and I would need to learn how to crochet without killing someone with yarn drowning accidents or flinging of the hook in the process. So I made her the little one 🙂
I’m quite pleased with my first attempt at crocheting in the round, but it isn’t very good, certainly in comparison to the designer’s. But I can appreciate how simple it is now to use crochet to make something from nothing, to create something that you don’t have a pattern for just by using your brains and playing around a little. I ad-hoc’d this quite a lot, cutting out rows all over the place, and I messed up the ears as for some reason they are two different lengths, and the tail looks smaller than her tail, oh and I didn’t make the eyes, I just stitched and the feet are mad. And not pink. Definitely purple. But he’s lovely if I do say so myself, for all his faults. Cherry will have found him on her desk by now, with a little letter from him pointing out that he missed the last catbus home and could she look after him instead.
Last but so not the least – new stash.
First the freebie Phildar Phil’Douce, and second, 5 hanks of Malabrigo worsted in Velvet Grapes, destined to be a Cosmic Pluto top down cardi (v2 to be precise), but not quite yet. I still have hopes that my hourglass will be done this month, and after that I will knit Chrissie and the bag inbetween the next colour scheme on the PS2.0 rota, which I think will incorporate my stripey alpaca cardi, and also some more gift knitting.
And I would like to knit a nice piece of lace for someone at work who is having a birthday bash next month, but I can’t see that happening without nearly killing myself again, so it might have to be a Purl scarf with some stash yarn that would suit her just perfectly. Can I still make scarves for people to use in April? Maybe in the UK weather 😉 Or maybe I should go down the sock route, which would mean buying more yarn probably, which right now I would like to avoid if possible. Does anyone have any good suggestions for spring gift knitting that is quite quick but looks good?

Note to self

Just a reminder for me really, but anyone with a likeminded taste in music might want to look these guys up (Leah – you might be interested in hearing what is new on the UK alt scene).
The Klaxons (and the most awful site on the net) if only because Golden Skans is a lovely lovely track. The rest of it is a bit too dancy for me. But then I did say that about the Chemical Brothers till I got used to them 🙂
Air Traffic. Charlotte is a goody. As is Get in Line. Yum.
Cold War Kids sound rather good (a US band so most of you guys will probably already know them :/)
I’m sure there are more, but I’m going to hunt on iTunes for these three…
Oh, and I got a freebie this weekend. 6 balls of vintage Phildar – Phildar Phil’Douce in a dusky pink/purple, gifted to me from the mum-in-law in one of her finds from a bag of yarn for charity knitting. It is mostly acrylic but has 20% kid mohair and is somewhere from fingering to DK weight. No pics yet I’m afraid, but if anyone has heard of this yarn or knows of any that have replaced it for the sake of pattern hunting let me know. There is about 180m a ball, and the yarn is 21st and 30 rows on 3.5mm. It is particularly nice because it has a soft touch, and a little bit of a fluffy airy look, but still had an obvious thread to it rather than the fluffy, madly thin KSH. Does that make sense? In other words it is like a very slightly fluffy/hairy sock yarn than a mohair lace yarn. It is a bit like Jo Sharp Comfort Mohair but without the hairyness (seeing as that is thicker than KSH). I think I’m making this worse actually… It doesn’t seem to shed given the fondling it has undergone, which is a good sign. I have just over 1000m of the stuff so make me a suggestion for use!