Monday, 30 July 2012

Snappy Happy Monday

Unexpected flowers in the garden

More unexpected flowers

I love fuschias

Saw a hot air balloon flying really low over the motorway

Went to our wedding caterers for a tasting session

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Year of Projects update - 29th July

The weather has been rather warm here for the last week or so, so knitting shawls and cardigans has been far from the top of my list of priorities! This hasn't halted progress on my list though, as I have finally got around to doing the finishing on my Capucine hats.

The first hat was knit exactly according to the pattern, but gauge issues meant it came out really small. As I'd cut the yarn between stripes instead of carrying the yarn up the side of the work, I couldn't really unravel and re-do in a larger size. It's perfect for a young child, so I will just save it up and give it to someone for Christmas.

For the second hat I reworked the pattern to make it bigger. Unfortunately, this was only a partial success. The circumference is better, but I should have knit more rows before joining in the round and starting the decreases.

All is not lost, however. I can also give this one away and start a third one, using different colours:

The remainder of this lovely bright green and the black I used to make Jamie's gloves. I'm not sure whether I will do stripes like the first hat, or something slightly different. That will depend on how much of each colour I have left I guess! But I will do this one later in the year, as I am quite keen to get back to the Cwtch shawl now the weather is cooling down again.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Further adventures in sewing

Back in June, I posted some photos of some LRP costume I'd made for my current character. Having now worn the kit for two events, I am pleased to say that I am absolutely loving it. Warm layers for such thin material, with all the benefits of being machine washable and drying really quickly once I get back from the event and discover how much mud it is covered in.

The last event (last weekend) was so hot, I ditched the skirts and only wore the giant green harem trousers. I thought you might like to see how they looked:

When I got home, I decided what I really needed was to make more giant harem trousers. While very tired, I declared that I actually wanted a bright yellow pair, but when I later found myself in the fabric shop common sense took over, and I decided to purchase colours that would go with the rest of my kit.

I still have plenty of the batik fabrics I used last time hanging around, so I chose plain colours that would match that. I've got another waistcoat in my costume box which I really like, so I'm going to reverse engineer it and make new waistcoats in the same style but using the fabric which matches the rest of the kit. It's this red waistcoat here:

But I will be using the gorgeous batiks here:

Plus the really lovely blue one I used for my second waistcoat:

They all contain the right shades of purple to match the purple fabric I've bought, and the teal one is a nice contrast.

A few more successful goes at making the really simple stuff, and I'll be just about ready to try something a little more complicated.

Friday, 27 July 2012

FO Friday - Bees

Back in April last year, I made a couple of amigurumi bees for Jamie. We hung them up on the edge of the stairs and they had a merry old time getting in everyone's way as they walked in and out of the living room. When we moved to the new house, there wasn't a similarly irritating place to hang them, so they found a home on the light fitting over the dining table.

The only photo I could find that showed the bees
was this one from my amigurumi comic strip!

The light fitting has space for four bees, however, so recently Jamie has been saying that we need more bees. As the weather has been far too hot this week for working on any of my other WIPs, I decided to dig out the black and yellow acrylic and make some more bees.

I have run out of white though, so these bees have natural coloured wings. I think that's ok though, as it means we'll be able to distinguish between the original bees and the new bees! They haven't yet found their way up to the light fitting yet, because I don't know where my invisible nylon thread has gone. It's been "put away" somewhere during the move I am sure.

Nothing quite like small amigurumi for a quick crafting fix!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Getting into the Olympic spirit

A little while ago, a suggestion came up in The Blog Hub group on Ravelry that we put together a team for the Ravelympics Ravellenic Games. At the time, I thought "that's a great idea" but as the discussion kind of dropped off, I never actually remembered to do anything about it when the time came to sign up. So I ended up missing the sign ups altogether!

In fact, it was only when I saw the whole outrage at the US Olympic Committee for forcing them to change the name to avoid the trademarks that I was reminded about it. As I'd missed the chance to get properly involved in all the fun and games on Ravelry (and with my enormous list of YoP patterns to work through, I didn't really want to add anything else to the mix) I thought I would make something in support of the Games (of both the sporting and knitting kind).

I took inspiration from the Friendship Ring square I made last year and modified the pattern to include five rings joined as per the Olympic Rings logo. I then surrounded them with two rounds of natural coloured yarn and added a loop to easily hang the rings over the edge of my bookcase.

They have been doing a sterling job decorating the scoreboard of our work Olympic themed team building week we had the other week, when the torch came to Reading and Bracknell, but I have brought them home today to hang up in readiness for the opening ceremony on Friday.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Return to basics

On Sunday afternoon I found myself lying on the sofa, recovering from a hard couple of hours work mowing the lawn with a strimmer. I knew I wanted to craft while I watched TV, but didn't want to knit more of the Cwtch Shawl, or go back to picking up stitches on Eleonora, or weave in all the ends on my first Capucine. I briefly toyed with the idea of starting something else from my list (!), but then my eye fell on the big basket of WIPs next to the TV stand. Spilling out of it were the four giant balls of yarn for my Sofa Bed Afghan and I realised that granny squares would be ideal TV crafting on a relaxing Sunday afternoon.

So I've been working on those this week.

It's getting tricky to photograph them all together! I laid them out as they will be in the final blanket (there's an extra round of grey to go on each square, but I'm joining them all together at the end to save on sewing). It's going to be pretty big I think, hopefully big enough to cover the sofa bed.

This is how it will look
I've got 10 big squares and 38 little ones to do. Fortunately the little ones don't take very long. I may hit a stumbling block before I finish, as I will run out of the grey yarn before the others, as that ball was already part used when I started this. I'm hoping I will be able to get my hands on it when I need more!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Snappy Happy Monday

Another weekly round up of my week, as seen through my Instagram feed:

All of the fruit in my garden is really starting to grow now

I spotted this oak tree growing in the middle of the lawn -
I suspect the squirrel buried an acorn there last year and forgot

On Wednesday the Olympic Torch came to town
and the route went right past my house!

Rodriguez the fox

I finally unpacked my jewellery this weekend. Tutorial on the
jewellery racks is here

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Year of Projects update 15th July

My focus this week has mostly been on the Cwtch Shawl. It's been an absolute pleasure to work on, as the plain stocking stitch means I don't need to concentrate too much!

It's a bit scrunched up on the needle, so I can't really show you just how big it's getting! I am only five rows away from the border, having already increased the size of this section to accommodate two more heart repeats in the border chart.

It's hard to show, but I think you can just about see here the really subtle colour variation in the yarn. It sort of fades from one shade of pink to another and back again, but not so strongly that it stripes obviously. It's gorgeous.

The two stitch garter border looks fab as well. I can't wait to get to the heart border and see how that looks. I'd love to say this will be finished by next Sunday, but as we have a LRP event this weekend, I will be in a muddy, waterlogged field from Wednesday until Monday, so will most definitely not be taking this shawl with me!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Wednesday progress

The urge to cast on all of the things from the list has struck again. Last year, I had a similar experience. There's something about setting targets that makes me want to achieve them all at once! I know I've got a year to finish everything on the list, but I want to start it all now.

What I have done this weekend is start picking up the stitches on Eleonora. After my enormous headache trying to figure out how to spread the stitches evenly across the entire piece, I finally relented and created an excel spreadsheet to help me figure it out!

I've been using a crochet hook to pick up the stitches, as it's much easier than trying to do it with only the needle. I'm about halfway around now, so hopefully over the next few days I will complete this onerous task and get back to knitting. I'm finding the whole picking up stitches process quite tedious, I have to say. But it's better than seaming, so I am going to just have to put up with it.

I've finished the knitting on my second Capucine hat and have been making tassels. I need to block the hats before I attach them though, as even though I did the maths and increased the size of the second hat, it's still a bit snug so needs to be stretched out a bit. As the yarn is acrylic, it should be a fairly quick job to pin out and steam them.

I needed something less complicated to knit while I was watching the Wimbledon finals on Sunday, so I decided to cast on another project from the list: the Cwtch shawl in a gorgeous skein of Natural Dye Studio silk/camel blend fingering weight yarn. The yarn and pattern were part of my most recent swap parcel and so far I am loving it! The yarn is so soft and has a beautiful sheen from the silk content. I'm motoring through the plain stocking stitch section at the moment, and can't wait to get to the heart motif border.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Snappy Happy Monday

Danielle over at A Stash Addict recently started up a Monday blog meme to share Instagram shots from the previous week. I thought today I would join in the fun, and show you some of the things I've been up to lately.

Mum and Dad came to visit, and we celebrated our engagement
with a couple of bottles of champagne

I found myself in casualty on Sunday morning last weekend
(nothing serious, I promise)

The weather has been so terrible lately I've not had a chance to mow
the lawn, which is turning into a bit of a jungle!

Our friends threw us a surprise engagement dinner party on Saturday

Hazel challenged me to photograph red, which meant I got to
play with me new picture framing app on my phone

I am quite sad because I decorated a cupcake in work on Thursday last week, and it was beautiful, but I forgot to take a picture of it before I ate it! I have a new phone now, with a much better camera, so hopefully will be more inclined to get it out and snap random things like that when they happen.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Year of Projects update - 8th July

I know, I know, I said I'd finish my existing YoP WIPs from last year before I started on this year's list. Well, I couldn't resist the lure of casting on something new, so when I failed to do the maths to pick up the stitches on Eleonora, I turned to my list to find something simple and quick to do while I waited to figure out the stitch count and for my new circular needle to arrive.

I dug out these two yarns from my stash, and found my 5mm needles to cast on for Capucine.

I found the endless rows of garter stitch rather soothing, and quite enjoyed the transition from knitting flat to knitting in the round, where the fabric shifts from garter to stocking stitch. Very quickly I found myself casting off and thinking "job well done".

I'm so pleased with the way the stripes turned out!

I quickly realised I had an issue. Let this be a lesson to you all in checking gauge before starting a project! As I hadn't checked mine, I didn't realise I was hitting 4 stitches per inch instead of 3. So my hat is tiny! Well, not tiny, but definitely not adult size! I estimate it's a 16" circumference hat, whereas I need 23". So once I've weaved in the ends and added the tassles, I will be gifting it to the nearest child.

Of course, I was sad about not having a hat for myself, so I sat down with the pattern and calculated how many stitches I'd need at my gauge to get a hat that would fit. Half an hour later and I had a pattern that I thought would work, and cast on immediately!

I am a little sad that I have now run out of the brown yarn, so my hat will just have a brown edge and the rest will be green. The tassles on the small hat will have to be plain green too. If I hadn't cut my yarn each colour change, and carried it up the work instead, I might have frogged the original hat to reuse the brown. As it is though, I shall be content with a bright green hat.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Life is a blur

I've been ridiculously busy these last couple of weeks. Work has been manic, so I've been doing some stupidly long days in the office, and we haven't had a weekend to ourselves since the start of June!

It's not all bad though, as we've been doing quite a bit of planning for the wedding, and got to spend some time wandering in a tropical rainforest on Saturday.

I am not sure what this is, but it was very pretty

My parents came down for the weekend, so we took them to the Living Rainforest as we weren't sure the weather was going to behave to do anything outdoors. It's mostly plants, but they have a few primates, reptiles and insects, with quite a few free roaming tropical birds.

This is a bat flower. We were lucky to visit when it was in season!
We weren't lucky enough to see Cinnamon, the two toed sloth that lives in the canopy, but I did make friends with the Goeldi's monkeys they have.

This little guy came right up to the glass and kept mimicking my head movements.

There were lots of plants currently in bloom.

One great thing about the Living Rainforest is that once you've bought a ticket, you can keep going back for a whole year without paying any more. So if at any point we fancy going back, we can do it for free!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Almost there...

I knit as much as I was able to this weekend, and am pleased to say that I bound off the second sleeve on Eleonora yesterday afternoon!

Now all that remains is to pick up the stitches around the body and knit the border. I've got 280 stitches to pick up, and I have to do it evenly otherwise it's going to look really weird. After a lot of thinking, I decided the easiest way would be to pin it out and divide the edge up with stitchmarkers.

I screwed up my maths the first time I tried, so it's currently in time out on the table while I figure out the right way to do it! I'm also not sure my circular needle is long enough, so I might have to order a longer one to do this part!

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