Thursday, 31 March 2011

Day Four: 31st March. Where are they now? 2KCBWDAY4

Whatever happened to your __________?
Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

Let's talk about the first pair of socks I ever knit. DK weight yarn (Sirdar Denim Tweed), 3.75mm DPNs, and the pattern Campfire. It's an incredibly well written pattern, taking you easily through each stage of knitting the sock in a lovely chatty manner. I just trusted everything this pattern said to me.

Here is the first sock, having completed the leg and the heel flap. I was a little scared when turning the heel, but the pattern said to trust it, and I did.

Phew! It worked! Look at that wonderful hell turn :P My first ever heel turn! So glad I documented it. I carried on with the foot, wondering how I would know when to stop for the toes...

Ooo... about there ish right? For a first sock, its not looking bad!

And here it is, the first sock completed:

And it was a darn good fit! Shame they were never actually intended for me...

Here is my nan, on her 70th birthday, opening her handknit socks. My first pair of knit socks.

She wore them so much. Her partner George would tell me how when she wasn't feeling well, or had cold feet at night, he would go to my nan's sock drawer, get out my socks, and put them on her feet.

My nan told me she would show them off to her friends, who were all jealous that she had a granddaughter who could knit so well. "Socks," they would say, "they were always the hardest thing I would knit."

Sadly these socks have deceased. My nan wore them so much they developed holes, ones so big I was unable to darn them.

Still, at least I know they were loved, and my nan will always be on my "To Knit For" list.

xxx Elle xxx

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Day Three: 30th March. Tidy mind, tidy stitches. 2KCBWDAY3

How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

During the house renovations, the stash is everywhere. Well, not everywhere. Its organised, but in two different rooms. The yarn is in 3 poofeee things (poufee?), you know, the boxes you put your feet on whilst relaxing on the sofa.

Here is poofeee number 1.

He is in the main bedroom, sitting on top of a chest of drawers. I know, I know, I'm scared too that he's going to jump off.

He contains my sock yarn and handspun yarn scraps, which will all one day become blankets. Honestly.

Yeah... I should get started on that soon...

Poofeee number 2 is on the floor next to the chest of drawers that number 1 is on top of.

He is frequently covered in stuff, coz thats my side of the bed. That white yarn there... thats going to be a top for my nan. I've only had the stuff about a year!

He contains all my sock yarn. And some sock books. If you look carefully at the next picture you will the yarn I've bagged with patterns ready to grab for the UK Sock Knitter's A-Z KAL.

Phew. So thats 2 of the 3 poofeee's done. Number 3 is currently in our makeshift lounge (aka the guest bedroom). He's taking up a lot of valuable floorspace, but TechGeek does like to put his feet up whilst watching TV (not that we can do that anymore - he blew up the media PC last night and there is no TV ariel port anywhere but the actual lounge!).

Number 3 contains the rest of the yarn. My handspun. Random odd balls of stuff. The yarn for my B-Side Cardigan. That sort of thing.

And now for the fibre. Of course, we all start off saying "I'm only going to have enough to fit in one box!" Yeah, this was my one box.

It's a terrible picture, but as you can see, its in the makeshift lounge as my makeshift coffee table. Anyway, to be fair, most of the fibre does live in there. Theres only a little bit on the floor... Look...

Ahem. Anyway. Once the garage has been converted in TechGeek's office, I get the back bedroom as my craftroom. And even if the garage doesn't get converted, I still get the built in wardrobe for storage.

See, lots of space for stuff and things and fluff! YAY!

Anyways, I'm going to put an Ikea Expediet bookcase in there, as the little boxes will be perfect for differing yarns, books, and I can buy one of those drawer thingies to put needles and notions in... plus the whole top shelf can contain fleece should I ever buy one.

So ask me this question in a year... see if the yarn really will fit in that one bookcase :P

xxx Elle xxx

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP 2KCBWDAY2

Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

To be honest, I constantly feel the need to push myself to learn new skills. Hence why my first lace project was a shetland shawl in cobweb weight black yarn. In terms of knitting and crochet, in the past year I learnt to knit toe-up socks, and crochet the cardigan that has not been documented.

However, the main skill I've learnt is spinning.

Oh yes, this time last year, I was spinning on a spindle. And whilst I didn't hate it, I wasn't exactly enamoured with it.

But then my nan bought me a spinning wheel. An Ashford Joy, who I named Joyce after my nan, and she came from a wonderful home (PuddytatPurr).

There I am spinning on her. Thats the first day I got her, and look at me go! I'm spinning some Blue Faced Leciester, and whilst I don't have an actual finished picture, I do have one of it on the bobbin.

Spinning on the wheel was a completely new learning curve to spinning on the drop spindle. I needed treadle, draft and make sure there was enough twist all at the same time. With a drop spindle you can spin, put it down, draft, and then make sure there is enough twist. Do that with the wheel and you just end up with a mess hahaha.

What I call my first real project was the BFL that PuddytatPurr dyed that came with my wheel. The colourway is called Menace, and I forgot to take a picture of it still in the braid.
You can kind of see it though. Black, red, with white splodges that made a nice grey. After I spun that, I asked PuddytatPurr to dye me a plain black so I could ply them together.

And there we have my first yarn. Overspun, overplied... its so energised as I knit with it that it twists back on itself and becomes a little ARGH. But I don't care. I made this yarn, and I love it. And its becoming a Harry Shawl, and I need to take an updated picture because its nearly finished.

Oh the prettyness of the yarn! Yum! I had a total of around 700 yards (200g), which isn't bad for such a overspun/plied yarn!

And so here we are, nearly a year after I got my wheel. My last completed yarn was a merino/alpaca mix from The Thylacine, as I joined her fibre club and double dosed, I had 200g of this beautiful colourway called Walkabout.

And it was an absolute dream to spin. It was soft like butter, it was easy to draft... I repeatedly said I didn't want my spinning on this to end! But I am so happy with the end result. Take a looksee!

Its so even! And not over or underplied! And it so soft and smooshy! And for 200g, I got 1040 yards.

I love spinning, I love the friends I've made because I'm now spinning, I love making yarn! This is definitely one skill I'm the most proud of.

xxx Elle xx

Monday, 28 March 2011

Day One: 28th March. A Tale of Two Yarns. 2KCBWDAY1

Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

That yarn there... thats Sirdar Click DK. Its 30% wool and 70% acrylic. I bought it with my friend Emily, who bought the same yarn only in a mustard type yellow, from Get Knitted in Brislington. At the time it was the best yarn either of us could afford, and we were both going to knit the same top (Giselle). When we bought our yarn, we thought it was fabulous, it was soft and shiny. We cast on at the same time, but soon I was knitting ahead. And then I stopped. I fell out of love with the pattern.

That was the official line anyway. I actually fell out of love with the yarn.

Shortly after starting, I fell ill. A year later I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. During that time I started to become more sensitive to things - sounds, vibrations, the way things feel...

And this yarn became squeaky. And scratchy.

It had far too much acrylic in it for my liking.

And the project just sat there, until February 2010, when I frogged it for the Ravelympics.

I have since used some of the yarn, I crocheted a cardigan which I never documented. Mostly because when I take the cardie off you can hear the static. I have some of this yarn still, I think it will either be donated somewhere, or become a baby blanket.

 And now, some yummy yarn. Laughing Yaffle. The sock yarn of happiness. I have at least 13 skeins of Yaffle yarn in my stash. These two are one of the first lots I bought. I can't remember if they were actually the first (in which case TechGeek bought them for me), or the first I bought after I got my new job. Either way, they were early on, and neither of them have been used yet. Miss Scarlet (the red one) will definitely be used this year for the UK Sock Knitter's A-Z KAL, for my W pattern (Whorl/Whirl).

I really love Yaffle yarns for a variety of reasons. Let me list some for you:
  1. The amazing colours. They are beautiful. They always look good together. They are intense. They don't fade after multiple washes. Stunning.
  2. The yardage. For approx 100g you get approx 460 yards. Thats freakin' generous. Thats more than enough for your average adult pair of socks. I usually have a fair bit left over, so I've started making my socks a tiny bit longer.
  3. The price. £9.99. Billy bargain or what for an indie dyed yarn! 
  4. The service. Posted as quickly as possible, wrapped in pink tissue paper, sprinkled with glittery stars, hearts, shiny things. Lushness.
  5. The smell. Oh my god the smell. Not to everyones taste I'm sure, but I love it. Unfortunately it does make me itch these days, but I'm not complaining! Whatever the yarn is finally washed in... its yum!
  6. The wearability. Its 80% wool and 20% nylon, making it strong! One of my longest wearing pairs of socks is my yellow pair that was knit over a year and a half ago. They still look amazing, no signs of wear (touch wood!), and no colour fading.
And those are my reasons for loving this sock yarn. Its definitely one of my favourites.

Day one complete. I'm liking this!

xxx Elle xxx

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Knitting And Crochet Blog Week

I meant to write this a while ago... And I didn't.

Mostly because I've been lazy.

Partly because I forgot.

Anyway, I want to take part in the Knitting And Crochet Blog Week which starts tomorrow, Monday 28th March 2011. You get a topic every day to blog about.

It will be full of epic win.


xxx Elle xxx

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

A plethora of socks! Mmm plethora...

Plethora may be my favourite word right now... I don't know why... but it really is. Plethora. Say it with me people... Plethora.

Ok, so if you say a word too much it starts to sound silly and you forget why you are saying it. Plethora.

Anyway. Socks. Here are pairs number 18, 19 and 20! Only 6 pairs left to complete the 26 Pair Mini Plunge! WOOHOO!

Number 18:

These were also my "C" socks for the UK Sock Knitter's A-Z KAL. The pattern is Crooked Cable, the yarn is Violet Green Socrates in colourway... um... Landscape! Yes, thats what that is. Plethora.

And... number 19!

Also my "D" socks for the UK Sock Knitter's A-Z KAL! The pattern is Dumbledore's Christmas Stockings and the yarn is Violet Green Socrates Solemate in colourway Serpentine. They are both for my nan for Mother's Day (April 3rd I think, its late this year!).

And finally... to complete my plethora of socks... number 20!

The pattern for this is Rib Fantastic from the book Knitting Socks With Handpainted Yarn. I didn't use a handpainted yarn though, I used Opal Neon. I couldn't capture the colours very well, what with the terrible weather we have in England (but sunny for the past 3 days! YAY! MORE SUN NEEDED PLEASE!). I also used my fabulous Blackthorn DPNs to knit these. And if you don't know what Blackthorn DPNs are, they are made from a carbon composite that is also used to build aircraft and formula 1 racing cars. And if you want to hear my review of them, Episode 16 of Miss Elle Knits has it :D

I'm currently on sock #2 of pair #21, they are Escalator Socks using Regia in black. They are for my father, and the first sock had 3g left over. Eeep. They are also my "E" socks for the UK Sock Knitter's A-Z KAL. Phew, that is a mouthful to say you know. Anyway. I've also been working on my Veil of Isis shawl and I did a stupid thing of counting how many stitches there are. I'm at 1000 stitches. 1000. And it needs to get bigger. I have 69g of yarn left. I don't think I'll be able to get to 8 pattern repeats before doing the border, seeings as how when I started repeat 6 I was at 89grams. And I have no idea how much yarn the border will use as its 32 rows. I'd rather play it safe and have a little left over, than have to rip back my border and a whole repeat. 1000 stitches per round. Mental.

In other news I have been baking. A plethora of baking. My gluten-free bread, lemon and white choc chip cookies for TechGeek (how did they melt off the baking tray and decide to cook on the oven floor?! How does that happen?!), and then making pancake batter. Had a little pancake fail when after spooning batter into frying pan it was realised that all the spatulas where in the dishwasher. Which had just been started. Tongs do not make a good subsitute. TechGeek had one pancake with a giant hole in it. We will do better tonite!

And in further news, last week we were visited by a sparrowhawk who decided to lunch on a blackbird in my backgarden.

Nature is a plethora of awesomeness.

xxx Elle xxx

PS: Go on, say it... I bet it will make you smile... plethora!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

House renovations update

So we have our gorgeous kitchen and bathroom... now its time for the lounge extension. This has involved a multitude of holes being created in all sorts of weird places. Like my craft room, and the stair way...

Anyway, the garage is attached to the house, but doesn't go the full length. Its set slightly forwards from the actual house too, so there is a square of land that we weren't going to do much with. I don't have a before picture, all I can show you is this:

Which if you look carefully enough, you can see the path going off to the left, and tons of plants. None of those plants still exist. Any of them. Not even that bush. All gone and deaded.

So the extension begins with a digger arriving, on a cold and frosty morning. Mark tells us the seat was a sheet of ice. And he had to sit on it to get it off the truck.

It looks cold. Brrr. Then the digging begins! Oh, and since I didn't mention this to begin with... there's going to be a lot of pictures :D

Mmm big pile of rubble! Apparently when you build a house, all the crap just gets shoved into the ground. Its no wonder some people find it difficult to grow stuff in their gardens...

After a big hole has been dug, concrete gets poured into the ground to create a stable footing for the walls (do I sound like an intelligent builder person? Coz I've picked this all up from Grand Desgins :P)

Queue everyone saying: "Oh all that money you just pour into the ground!". Its so true though. The foundations are one of the most expensive parts of the project.

Once thats been set, you can start building a wall.

I think I was probably one of the only people in the world who didn't know that houses have two layers of bricks, and outside pretty layer, and inside crappy looking layer. I honestly thought that cavity insulation was injected inside each brick *sigh*

Anyway... moving on... Then came the big holes in the walls. These were needed for steel thingies to support the house... whilst they removed the outside of the lounge wall to make space for the steel lintel which would support the upstairs of the house.

There was a good chance this could have gone horribly wrong... and the side of house could have fallen down. But it didn't. Happy.

After that the rest of the wall got built... and then we discovered that the measurements were wrong. The garage wall was in the wrong place. Our measurements had presumed the garage wall being in the same place as the lounge wall... so it would be a nice clean, flush wall (if that makes sense). But it wasn't. All we were planning to do was pop up some plasterboard over that wall and have a secret door (the garage is being converted into TechGeek's office/gardening tools storage area - so just pop up some plasterboard again). But no. The wall had to be knocked down, a hole dug, concrete poured in to form a footing... a new wall built. Good thing TechGeek is rich :P

But after all that, everything was fine. Ish. But I'll get to that. The roof began, and with that, the building became pratically water tight... so this could happen.

Bye bye nasty pink lounge wall! As you can see, we must be left with a little pillar, as something needs to support the steel lintel. Luckily thats where the sofas will be, so its not going to impact us in the slightest. Looks big right?

And now there are two new windows! The original window was not sealed correctly and leaked cold into the room. Plus its no longer up to building regulations as the glass isn't thick enough or some such crap. So two brand new windows.

The next issue was the lights. The ones we had fitted into the bathroom and kitchen/diner - no longer made. So we found the same but in a different colour - didn't fit our bulbs. The seller is saying we can't return them, but we will, and we will get our refund (fit for purpose - we told them what bulbs we wanted to use!). So after a little bit of excepetional genius on my part... I found the same, but in a different colour, newly updated... and on SALE! And they fit our bulbs. I iz genius!

And thats the saga up to date. Tune in next time when I will talk about some crafting. I promise. I have socks to show off!

xxx Elle xxx


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