Sunday, 28 November 2010

Snow Was Good For Something!

If you haven't heard me rant over the last two days then you won't understand just how much I hate the snow. It does look pretty but only for five minutes. It's cold, wet, made me miss out on seeing my friends and I can't walk in it. When I try to walk in it I look like I shouldn't be allowed out without supervision. I have been told that no one looks good walking in the snow but I beg to differ. I have been overtaken not just by children but by the elderly. Having said that there was one good thing about it. As I wasn't going to venture outside unless I had to I managed to finish another Christmas present.

These socks are for my sister. This is the yarn I mentioned in a previous post. I bought it months ago back when it was spring and yarn called Daffodil made sense. I love Lorna Laces though and love the colours. The pattern is from a book called "Knit Socks" by Betsy Lee McCarthy and the pattern is called "Peaks 'n' Valleys". It's a simple two row repeat which doesn't take much concentration. I love the effect using the self-striping yarn.

The book is one of two I treated myself to about a month ago. The layout is very different to most sock books. Each patter gives you two choices to follow. There is always a choice for women's socks but the second choice can be men's socks or children's. In some cases it's just a choice between two different yarns. Each step is broken down more than in most books. For that reason I think it could be a great book for a beginner. It also has a wide range of pattern choice from lace, to cable to colour work. Some of the books I have probably have patterns in it that appeal to me more but there are still enough in there to make it worth while. I would look out for socks being too tight though. Despite casting on more stitches than I would normally these socks seem a little tight. If I was knitting them for myself I would move up a needle size. As these are the only pair I have knitted from this book I can't possibly comment on the rest. It's something to look out for though.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

My First Lace Shawl!

I have had on my bookshelf "Victorian Lace" by Jane Sowerby for a few years now. It has been much admired but always gently placed back on the shelf with wistful thinking. Until this year that is. One of my new years resolutions was to try a lace shawl. I decided my gran would be the perfect recipient for such a gift and that Christmas was a big enough time frame. The weekend away with my knitting group was a perfect setting to try something new (i.e. surrounded by experts to call on should I need help) and so gave me the excuse to put this book to use and fulfil my new years resolution. I have done lace before but lace socks is nowhere near the same as a lace shawl.

I actually enjoyed it. I like the repetitive nature of the lace pattern and the outcome at the end. I think I also made the right choice in using sock yarn (4ply) rather than lace weight. That said I did have other things in between which meant that this was left aside for a long time. Christmas seemed so far away. This weekend I picked it up again and managed to finish not only the centre piece but also the border and the surprise crochet edging.

I have a nasty habit of getting half way through a pattern and then deciding as soon as I don't take something in I can't do it. This was the case with the edging. I was sure when I got to it I couldn't do it and was contemplating finishing without it. In the end (and possible because it was for my gran) I forced myself to read the how to part at the back and learned how to do a crochet cast on which was the only thing stopping me. Turns out it was easier than I thought. I was ready to celebrate the fact that I was finished and then I read that I had to do some crochet (hence the crochet surprise). I only learned to crochet this year so again I was sure I couldn't do it and again I forced myself to read it properly and give it a go. So after a day of blocking I have my only new years resolution complete. I have finished my first lace shawl and I have learned to do something new in the process. Lets just hope my gran will like it (in the photograph my mum was coerced into posing with it).

I highly recommend the book itself. It has so many beautiful patterns in it with a whole how to section at the back. It has more instructions on different ways to cast on than I knew existed. If I had the time (or the talent) I would knit every single one of the shawls within. I also think that a few of them could be easily modified to throws if shawls aren't your thing.

I have only three pieces of advice if you decide to get this book and use it. Firstly if you have never tried lace before then take a chart and maybe knit something small such as a scarf. It should get you used to following charts as well as knitting with lace. Also, use a thicker yarn such as 4 ply. You can still get that lace effect by using larger needles. Lastly, blocking does make a difference. Before I blocked I couldn't see the lace in the centre piece and the border was nothing more than a curled up edge.

I have plans for more lace but not until after Christmas. Until then I will have to make do with lace socks.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

One Christmas present down!

I was working on Christmas decorations for my Folksy store. Then I realised I might not be giving myself enough time to finish Christmas presents. So it was back to the knitting. I finally managed to finish my first one. This pair of socks is for my dad. Once again I used neutral colours as he isn't fond of bright socks. I love the way the yarn stripes up and am actually a little jealous that I didn't use it for myself. Unfortunately the tag for the yarn has long since gone and I didn't think to take a note of it (a tip to everyone - keep a hold of the tags from your yarn as not only does it give you washing instructions it helps when someone else asks what it is). I always promise myself I will hold onto them but they always end up in the bin.

As well as being the first Christmas present finished (he will get other things, promise) it was also the first time I used my knit pro DPNs. They really do make a difference. It's so smooth and your knitting just seems to flow with them. I highly recommend them.

I am working on more Christmas presents and yes also more socks. I am currently knitting a pair for my sister. The yarn is Lorna Laces and I am loving the colours. They are actually spring colours. I did buy it in the spring but have only now got round to using it. It actually works out well as I hate the winter and this seems to brighten up the day a little.