Sunday, 30 May 2010

Toe-Up Socks! Or, I learned something new!

I mentioned in my last post that on my knitting retreat I was taught a couple of new skills. I also said that I wanted to finish something before I mentioned them. Well here is one of them. I took a knitting sock class. Yes I do realise that I already know how to knit socks. Whilst the beginner sock knitters were taught cuff down myself and a few others were taught toe-up. It felt strange and wrong and almost like I was cheating on the cuff down sock but I had fun learning how. I was taught using socks for adults but I decided I wanted to knit children's socks instead. So I gave up on the big socks and last week I tried a kids toe up sock and finished it. Unfortunately I had no clue as to sizing and made lots of mistakes with the wrapping of stitches (it's fiddly). After getting some more advice from the teacher I had another go yesterday and finished my first pair. I am so proud of myself. They actually look neat. I promised a friend I would knit her a set of socks for her nephew and this makes ideal practise. The measurements I used though were for cuff down so these ones are a little big.
Having gotten the pattern down and confident with the sizing I started another pair last night and finished them this morning. I'm afraid I got a little too cocky as this pair is not as neat as the first (I photographed the good side). Still I do like the colour reversal.

With still some yarn leftover (50g of white and 50g of blue Rowan milk cotton DK) I got cockier still and knitted up a pair of stripey socks. There is something you should know about me. I hate colour changes. I am rubbish at it and instead admire colour changes in other peoples work. I have picked up a few tips though recently and so decided to attempt it with the very simple stripe. Glad I did as these might be my favourite pair. They have turned out a little smaller than the blue pair despite having the same rows. I think the stripes have changed my tension. They should still fit though.

So I have my first part of the set done. I plan to do some more in other colours. I'll just keep going until the yarn runs out. So I learned two tricks in the last few weeks. That's not including another class I took during the weekend away. You will just have to wait for that one though.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Knitting Retreat.

If you aren't already a member of a knitting group I highly recommend it. I have been going to one for two years now and you couldn't meet a lovelier bunch of women. I have also learned so much from them. Before I went I knitted nothing but scarves. Now I knit socks and blankets and have learned to give something a try. If your group then decides to go on a knitting weekend I recommend this too. My knitting group went to Gartmore House which is just next to Aberfoyle. We were there for two days and the treatment we received can't compare to most hotels. Gartmore are used to craft groups and welcome them. We were given a large sunlit room for the two days. It was filled with lots of comfy sofas and large tables. We were also well fed and the food was lovely and fresh.

It was so much fun and relaxing. You would think that nerves might be strained as we hadn't spent so much time in each others company before. This wasn't the case at all. There was lots of constant laughter. It was also a great chance to get to know others in the group we didn't know quite so well.

Two members of our group offered to teach classes in their speciality. I took part in both classes and as a result I finally learned to crochet granny squares. Something I have been wanting to do for years. I also learned to knit toe up socks which is definitely interesting and means there will be more sock books I will be buying.

To top it off we were surrounded by farms and beautiful countryside. These were the views from my room.

Whilst it was tempting to stay indoors and knit/crochet all weekend the lovely sunshine and area tempted most of us out for walks at various points during those two days. On the first day a few of us were highly amused at being stared at by cows. They even followed us. You can't tell we are city bred can you?

Some of the views from the surrounding area.

The trail through the woods. We walked along here until the midgies chased as back to the cool work room.

After the weekend we were all exhausted but we had so much fun and can't believe we didn't do this sooner. Plans are already underway for next year. Hopefully I will have some photo's soon of what I actually accomplished while there.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

My Challenge

Last year a member of the knitting group I run thought it would be a great idea to set challenges. I am always up for something new in the group and agreed. We now have a challenge every Spring and autumn with a set theme. There are always two prizes at the end. One for an original design and another for adapted. It's intended that people can do any craft they like so long as it fits in with the theme. Tonight was our Spring challenge. The theme was 'My Favourite Things'. There was also an added restriction. Due to lack of space (we were in a bigger place last year) each entry had to be about A4 in size. Of course I am not happy with making things easy for myself. I add the extra challenge of giving myself three days to get it done despite having had three months. I honestly thought I had an extra week but panic hit on Saturday when I realised it was this week. I did the same thing on the last two challenges and actually didn't have an entry for one. Shockingly I did actually manage to do exactly what I had planned all along and I did so in two days.

I decided to make a book bag. Everyone knew straight away this was mine as they know how much I love books. I have made book bags before but with aida and evenweave. They had a cross stitch design on the front and were completely hand stitched. I saw this lovely butterfly fabric in my local craft store. It was sitting aside in a pack all on it lonesome. Clearly it was all that was left of it which was why it was being sold like that. I had to buy it and I knew straight away this was what I was going to use it for. I love butterflies which just adds to the favourite things theme. I also love the colours. This time I decided to embroider a scene for the front. One of my favourite books as a child was "The Secret Garden" by Francis Hodgson Burnett. I would say after reading this I knew I was never going to get enough of reading books. So it was apt that I used a scene which reminded me of this. The tree and the swing in particular. I added some little extra things in there which are also some of my favourites. An owl, a mushroom house to represent fairy tales, a dragon, bluebells, poppies, the colour blue, buttons and a pile of books. I wish I could have got frogs in there but unfortunately the little frog button I had was just too big for the scene.

While I didn't win (and if you saw the entries which did win you would not be surprised. This knitting group are such a talented bunch) I am proud of what I achieved. I did two things I am not really used to doing; used my sewing machine and embroidery. I also didn't follow a pattern. The embroidery I made up as I went with just an image of what I wanted to do in my head. Also my sister loves it and has said she would like one too. I plan to make one with her favourite things as a birthday present.

The question is will I learn to not leave these things to the last minute? I doubt it.

Friday, 14 May 2010


Knitted Icons has been a fad for a few years now. They were made all the more popular by Harry Hills TV Burp which ran a competition. I myself found them funny but not enough to want to actually knit one. Then a magazine I buy regularly (Lets Knit) published a pattern of Jedward dolls. Again I am not a fan but I have a friend who does (honestly she is sane and a genuinely lovely person so don't hold it against her). When I mentioned this pattern to her she got so excited I couldn't help but offer to knit them for her. So a month ago now I bought in the supplies and got started. In a few days the first doll was almost finished. He just needed a jacket and his face.

However, I had a revelation. I hate knitting dolls. There is nothing more boring. I was quite surprised by this as in high school I knitted dolls for friends and don't remember having this hatred (ok so hatred is maybe too strong a word). So I mistakenly put down the needles and began other things. Since then I have done baby sets, baby blanket, throw, several socks and I am sure there are other things. Anything but knit those dolls. Every week I would write my craft to do list and the priority would always be to finish them but the following week it would remain uncrossed. Luckily I had already warned my friend before hand that I had other things to do first.

This week I finally kept my promise to myself. Get those dolls finished. I don't think I would have done it had it not been for the fact that I am going on a knitting break away this weekend. I didn't want to start anything else as I had plans for what I was going to work on whilst away (plus I needed my sock needles free for a toe up sock class). So it was the dolls or nothing. 1a.m. I stayed up to finishing the felt edging on those jackets. I refused to go to sleep till they were done and posted on ravelry. I didn't care how tired I was I just wanted to finish them. By 1.10a.m. I was in my bed having updated my ravelry page and cleared everything away.

I actually think part of the problem was the pattern. It was a horrible pattern. First of all it turned out a lot bigger than I was expecting. I thought they would be a little larger than my hand. Instead they are the size of my arm. The suggested rows for the jacket was off by 13. I am a tight knitter so I know it's not me. Instead I went by the cm measurements and still the jacket is a little too big. Also it curls. It's all in stocking stitch and despite the felt edging it curls. Overall I am not impressed. If I ever do another doll (which I doubt at this point) I think I will stick to Alan Dart.

Meanwhile I am off to my weekend away with some lovely knitting buddies with the sweet relief of knowing I don't have this project to come back to. I can enjoy the lovely shawl I will be knitting for my gran.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Fathers Day Socks.

A few months back my dad asked me to knit him some socks. He usually takes no interest in crafts done by myself or my mum which is why we never make him anything (handmade objects should only go to those who appreciate them). So I knitted him a pair in black as that was what he wanted. Knitting the largest size socks in black is a nightmare. I swore never again. Then he hinted at my mum to knit him another pair. At this point my mum had only knitted one pair of socks. I didn't want her to be put off them for life so decided to knit up a pair for his fathers day (yes I do realise it's a month away). As it was a present I felt that I should get to chose the colour. Or rather chose that they should actually have some colour. I found some Happy yarn by Wendy in my stash in colours sober enough to please my boring father. Brown in particular is not my colour and with grey, green and blue I didn't think I would enjoy it. Surprisingly I did. If you have never knitted with Happy before you should. It's so lovely and silky soft. It comes in 100g which is plenty for a pair of socks. Actually I managed to knit these socks and still have a little to spare. I was sure I would have to use another ball (my dad has large feet). I also surprised myself by enjoying the colour changes. I may even knit another pair for dad for Christmas, maybe.

Meanwhile I have moved on to Jedward. Hopefully my next post will explain all.

Friday, 7 May 2010

There Is Something Wrong With Me!

I have had a number of finishes over the last few weeks. Lots of WIP slowly but surely finishing. The next logical step would be for me to finish up some of the others. Two of them I could finish within a week. I have socks to knit for my dad (one done and just started the other). I also promised a friend I would knit Jedward dolls which I did start and have almost finished one. But then guess what happened? I ordered yarn I needed to take with me to the knitting weekend. I am planning to knit a shawl for my gran for her Christmas. I thought the weekend would be a good time to work on it as there would be lots of help should I need it.

The yarn arrived at the start of the week. Look how pretty it is! I love the colour and I love the feel of Lorna's lace. What harm could it do to start the shawl? I decided it was only sensible to cast on and do a few rows. Give myself time to get to know the pattern a little so that I wouldn't be completely flummoxed when I was away.

So I cast on and decided I would just work till the end of the first pattern repeat on the chart. The yarn is so lovely and soft and it really is amazing to work with. I got to the end of the first repeat and then decided what harm could it do to work until the end of the chart. It was just one more repeat of the pattern. I then decided that since the rest is worked based on the last chart but you are adding to it that it was once again only sensible to do one more repeat. I did actually manage to leave it there. I honestly think I would have finished it by now and moved onto the border had I not torn myself away. Luckily I have 14 more pattern repeats to do. I think that will be plenty for the weekend.

I moved back to my dad's socks. I managed to get one sock done and casted on the second sock. It was late on Tuesday when I did this so only did the first couple of rows to get it going. The next day sister is over and I give her the throw I knitted using the sock yarn. I love the feel of it and the way it drapes (thankfully sister does too). I was almost sorry to have finished it.

As I plan to make three more of these for friends birthdays and I have the yarn for two I decided what harm could it do to cast on another. The problem is I don't want to work on the socks (which considering how much I love knitting socks is saying something) or the Jedward dolls. I want to keep going with this through. I love Happy yarn by Wendy. It's silky soft. Never mind the fact that the socks are also in Happy yarn. Every day I say okay today I work on.... and I pick up this instead.

Today I work on socks and tomorrow I finish one Jedward doll...maybe!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

A Throw And A Blanket.

A while back I started a throw for my sister. Actually it started out as an experiment and it unintentionally grew from there. There is a fantastic book called "Knitalong" by Larissa Brown and Martin John Brown. Larissa is actually the founder of the ravelry sight. It talks about the virtues of group knitting and has some fantastic patterns in there too. I loved this book when I first bought it a few years ago. I read it from cover to cover but never did try out any of the patterns. On ravelry I saw that someone had done the Barn-Raising quilt from the book (actually lots of people have but someone had done it recently). I love the idea of knitting squares and turning them into throws and blankets. Just haven't done any yet. I decided to try out the square pattern. I had no intentions of doing more than try it at that point. I picked up some regia 4ply sock yarn I had bought on sale although I wasn't a fan of those colours together (red, pink and orange). It was so easy to do and I knew straight away that it was going to be addictive. I just loved the idea that knitting on the round would become a square. So of course I kept going.

The quilt itself is supposed to be made up of lots of these squares stitched together. The idea is that you yourself or a group of you knit up these squares using left over sock yarn. Brilliant! Although I already have a plan for my leftover sock yarn. So I kept going. I decided to knit a throw out of one large square. I wanted to see how it affected the striping of the yarn as it grew. This of course meant that I had to order more yarn and 2 balls of 50g sock wool is not enough for a throw. I used up 7 balls and it's big enough to use as a lapghan. To prevent the edging from curling I used a simple garter stitch border. I love it so much I now have the yarn to do two more for friends and I have a third planned in my head. I don't want to take credit for originality here though. If you type in Barn raising quilt into the ravelry search engine you will see that a number of people have knitted the large square.

In the same week I have another finish. I bought a baby tweed blanket pattern by Brooklyn Tweed from the ravelry site a while ago. I love his designs (and am getting to do one of his classes in August, yeah!). I am sure I blogged about starting this a while ago. It's a basic garter stitch square with a fern and fan stitch edging. It was unusual enough that I decided to knit for a friend who will be having a baby shower soon. I had originally wanted to knit it up in navy and cream but the store didn't have navy tweed yarn so I opted for green and natural tweed. It's easy to knit and the pattern was very easy to follow. I unfortunately can't count so despite the pattern telling me how many yards of yarn I would need I miscalculated. I got half way through the border and ran out of the natural colour. The store had also ran out. After ordering both colours online I was able to get back on it over the weekend. I love how it turned out and hope my friend will like it. If I am honest though I would do it again in the colours I originally wanted. Unfortunately there isn't enough time for that.