Sunday, 13 October 2013

Year of Projects 3: 13th October update

A little later than usual getting my update up today, but I've only just got home from a lovely weekend away at a friend's wedding.

Buxted Park Hotel

Despite horrendous rain on Friday and today (which led to some truly awful driving conditions - I'll never understand drivers who don't put their lights on when it's raining that badly), the weather held out on Saturday for the wedding itself. The venue was fabulous, and my friend looked absolutely stunning in her beautiful purple dress (made by the wonderful Angrave Designs). Sadly we had to leave early as Jamie developed a migraine, but that did give me an extra few hours in the hotel to work on my latest project!

I've gone a bit baby blanket mad at the minute. There are so many babies arriving in the next few months; while I am not going to get around to making something for all of them, I am trying my best to get as many of them covered as I can!

Anna's blanket is finished (shared on Friday), and I immediately launched into one for Kayleigh, the other pregnant lady in my team at work. I decided to go all out colourful for that one, and have chosen some of my brighter shades of acrylic. The pattern is from Lion Brand (Rav page here) but I am joining as I go rather than making all the squares separately, because it will mean less work to finish it off. I'm on the 8th square out of twenty, so it's going pretty well. Baby is not due till February so I have time to work on this one and don't need to rush.

The third blanket is a simple granny square, started on Friday in the car on the way down to Kent. I have paired up the spare cream from Anna's blanket with some leftover beige yarns from other projects. I've started with the darkest colour and am working out to the cream. Somewhat fortuitously, I ran out of the darkest beige at the end of a round! This one is currently earmarked as a gift for another work colleague, whose wife is due to give birth in November.

There is another November baby in my social circle, so I am currently thinking that once I finish off the granny square, I will dig out some more of my acrylic stash and see what I can throw together for that one as well! The "use up my stash of acrylic and cotton making things for babies and children" part of my list seems to be going well!

Friday, 11 October 2013

FO: Anna's baby blanket

I had hoped to have $5 in San Fransisco finished by today, but that hasn't happened as I got distracted by a new project! More on that on Sunday. Meanwhile, the first of two baby blankets for the pregnant ladies in my team at work is off the hook and almost ready to go.

I couldn't find a shade of mint green yarn that went with the yellow and peach when I went shopping with my friend last weekend, so we compromised on a creamy yellow which is paler than the yellow I've used for the centre.

I think it still works, although the overall effect does render the blanket slightly closer to the "girl" end of the spectrum rather than gender neutral (as we don't know what this baby is going to be, although as Anna is convinced she's having a girl, hopefully it will work out for the best!).

I say almost ready to go, because I haven't woven the ends in yet, and plan to give it a wash and a quick spin in the tumble dryer to soften it up before I give it to her. We've got three more weeks till she goes off on her maternity leave though, so plenty of time to get that all done.

The pattern is the Lacy Round Ripple Blanket by Heather Tucker. Once you get past the centre section, it's a really simple logical pattern from then on in. I stopped after 36 rounds as I felt my blanket was big enough (mine is about 36" across, point to point), as written it stops after 47 rounds, which would have added an extra 12" to the diameter of my blanket and made it enormous. It's a pretty quick pattern to whip up, should you need an emergency gift, but it does get a bit dull.

I used three different DK weight acrylic yarns. The yellow centre is James C Brett Top Value DK, the final ball in a pack of ten I was given by my mother-in-law several years ago. That yarn certainly did me proud for baby gifts! Three blankets, two pillows and a baby hat! I used almost an entire ball for this blanket.

The peach stripe is Stylecraft Special DK in apricot, which I bought to make Rosie Rabbit for our niece when she was born two years ago. I used up my partial ball, about 65g in total.

The final stripe is Hayfield Bonus DK in cream. 86g was the final tally on that one, and I still have one ball spare as I bought two just in case! Luckily, there are other babies to knit/crochet for so I plan to use that for one of the other babies due to arrive soon.

This blanket also has the honour of being my first actual finish in this year's Year of Projects!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Year of Projects 3: 6th October update

Progress of two different kinds has been made this week. Firstly, actual, tangible progress on my two WIPs that are closest to completion:

$5 in San Fransisco is so very close to being finished! I have one sleeve left to knit, ends to weave in and I need to figure out how I am going to mark which side is the front, as the front and back are shaped slightly differently for a better fit and I don't want to end up putting it on back to front when I wear it. I am still massively pleased with how this is turning out. The colours aren't quite right in the pic above, the bright blue is more green than it looks in that shot.

Obnoxious socks are going well. I took one off the needles the other day to see how it looked and fitted, and I'm halfway up my calf now. Fit is good, so I am enthusiastic about getting these done. I am close to running out of my first two balls of yarn, so there will be a tricky bit of work to split the third ball in two and match up the colour changes for a smooth transition between the two balls, and to keep the stripes matching.

The other progress I have made is more organisational. As a distraction from my revision last week, I sorted out my stash. It was already pretty sorted, in that everything was stored neatly on shelves, roughly split by weight, but I had no record of what was stored where. Plus, the scraps of left over yarn from previous projects was spread out all over the place. Now, everything is neatly stored, part-balls have been rewound to take up less space, and every single yarn in my stash has a note on Ravelry to say where I've put it. I've also started matching up yarns to patterns in my queue, which means choosing and starting new projects is going to be much easier from now on.

I'm off to Hobbycraft this morning to pick up more yarn for the baby blanket; I'm going to take my leftovers from the yellow and peach I've already used, to make sure I find a mint green that matches. Given how many rows I got out of one ball of the peach, I'm going to need at least 200g I think, but then it will be done and I can start thinking about a present for the other person in my team who is having a baby!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Adventures in London

I had my exam yesterday morning, which meant an early start and getting the train into London. It was the first time I'd been through Reading station since they opened the new bridge, so it was quite exciting for me to see what it was like.

It's all very modern and interesting. But I have to say, I much prefer the character of all the old stations I went through while I was in London.

Left - Liverpool Street Station
Right - top - Notting Hill Gate tube station (circle line)
bottom - Paddington Station

My exam was done by 1pm, which left me several hours in which to jet about the city on the tube and visit lots of shops.

First on my list was Loop, in the Islington area of London. It took me ages to find it, as although Camden Passage itself was easy to spot, there is so much going on around you that you don't look at every shop window as you pass, and the first time I walked past it I was looking opposite at the antique stalls! But I found it eventually, and had a good old nose around inside.

Ikea-style cubby holes, every yarn store's friend!

Seeing all those lovely skeins tucked away in their cubby holes reminded me of Imagiknit in San Fransisco, especially as there were a lot of the same brands here that I found in America (like Malabrigo, MadTosh etc). One thing Loop stocks, though, that no other yarn store in the UK does, is Wollmeise.

At £30 a skein though, I decided I didn't need any more just at the moment. It was tough, as some of those colours are AMAZING.

I didn't leave empty handed though.

I couldn't resist the PINK

Another Zauberball, this time a Crazy pink one. No idea what it will become, but either socks or a shawl/scarf would be fine with me! The silvery-grey is a merino-silk blend sport weight yarn that is oh so soft and smooth and such a wonderful steel grey colour. This is going to be a scarf and it is going to be lovely.

mmmmm grey

Once I was done with Loop, I hopped back on the tube and made my way over to Oxford Street. I wanted to have a nose around our John Lewis branch there, and hopefully find some new slippers in one of the many shops along that road. I was suitably impressed with the size and showiness of the John Lewis, but didn't think the haberdashery department had much more going for it than the one in the John Lewis here in Reading. I also failed utterly to find slippers, anywhere. It's very frustrating as the ones I bought in Asda earlier in the year are falling apart and I really can't do without slippers now it's getting colder in the evenings.

I did get to do a bit of touristy sight-seeing though, as I've never been to Oxford Street before!


Marble Arch

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Stash enhancement

I am normally very good at not buying yarn unless I really need it for a project. There are, however, a few exceptions to this general rule, where I find a yarn I simply cannot help but purchase. Even then, in the back of my mind I do ask myself what I am going to make with it once it is mine. Of course, there are never enough hours in the day, so a lot of those impulse purchases are still sitting in my stash waiting for their chance to jump on my needles.

There is one yarn, though, that I ignore all of the above for, and that is Wollmeise. Ever since I got my hands on my first skein and knit Hypernova, I've wanted to buy all of the skeins and save them up for a rainy day.

What this leads to is my idly searching on eBay every now and again to see what is out there. I struck gold the other week, as there was one seller having a destash and she had loads of different colours on offer, at fairly reasonable prices. There were maybe four different skeins I was interested in, and some furious last-minute bidding wars left me in the position of having won two of them. They are both Twin 80/20, in the most fabulous colours:

Mauseballet WD


I think I am going to knit socks with Saami, but Mauseballet is destined to be a shawl or scarf. But for now, they will sit quietly on my shelf and patiently wait their turn. I might get around to knitting them at some point in the next year!
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