Thursday, 28 April 2016

April Socks - Broken Seed Stitch Socks

Surprise! April's socks are finished. Didn't think I would do it but this last week I have barely put the pins down (away from work that is). This time I used a pattern that I had mentioned to you in a previous post. It was one that I wanted to try using a variegated yarn but required a contrasting yarn for every second row. The pattern is called Broken Seed Stitch and is by ravelry designer Hannah Levaniemi. She has some lovely patterns there so worth checking her out (this is her only sock pattern though).

For this pattern you need to have an idea on how the sock is constructed because the pattern doesn't give you this. All it does is give you some advice and gives the four row repeat that gives the sock this beautiful striping effect.

The four row repeat is fairly easy and once you have done it you can pretty much go it alone. You can see the effect it has even though the pattern is quite simple. It was fun to watch the stripes of colour spiral round the sock. Also to see the effect of a plain yarn knitted alternatively.

As I said you are left to construct the sock yourself. It suggests a 60 stitch cast on which was perfect. For the cuff I chose a rib of k2, p2.  The heel I went with a short row heel. The reason is actually a lazy one. It meant I could knit the heel in the solid colour and I wouldn't have to cut any of the yarns which I might have done on my usual heel turn. I think not having to do a gusset works better for the pattern of the sock anyway.

Since I was using less of the hand dyed yarn than I normally would I got a second pair of socks out of it. I decided to knit a pair for my sister so that we are now sock twins. I have to say I loved knitting the second pair almost as much as the first.

This is the variegated yarn I used. I won this on a charity auction Lisa set up a few years ago. I had started a basic pair of socks with it and hated the way the yarn pooled. It wasn't striping very well. For this pattern though it was perfect. It has a stripe of white through it too which worried me slightly since I was using white as a contrasting yarn. In actual fact I think that it enhanced the pattern. It broadened those stripes of green making it stand out more against the purple. Sadly I didn't keep the tag and I can only make out part of the tag from this image so I can't remember where it came from. If anyone knows who the hand dyer was please let me know. For the contrasting yarn I used a Rowan wool cotton in 4 ply. It was a little thicker than the sock yarn but this actually worked out perfectly as it made for a sturdier cuff and heel. Especially since I was doing the short row heal and it meant there were none of those horrible gaps that can occur.

Next months socks are going to be a basic sock but I am excited about this as I can't wait to see how the yarn I have chosen knits up. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Craft Goodies #2

Is it possible to be both good and bad? So April will be the first month in, well, months that I haven't added to my stash. That doesn't mean I haven't looked but I haven't bought anything yarny. I did buy some crafting goodies and since my last post on crafting goodies was back in September I think that' not too bad. 

First up we have a blocking board that I have been trying to get my hands on for months. I thought this would be an ideal way to block all of those little squares that I have. The board is by Daisy Boo Creations. The reason they are so hard to come acrosss is that they are extremely well made and they are done by hand. As you all know these things take time to create and they have quite the reputation so everyone is wanting one. It was first come first served but now you can join a waiting list so long as you are willing to wait and happy to pay a deposit up front. I was more than happy to do this and my patience paid off cause look what I now have. It made for a very pretty parcel too which you can see on my instagram feed if you are interested. Now I just need for my wrist to get better so that I can crochet all those squares together.

I have long been an admirer of needle minders ever since I saw one from my old knitting group with one. I have since seen them about Instagram and I have always meant to purchase one for myself. I then came across Arty Moments and I could no longer resist. She has a whole host of different needle minders but it was the scrabble tiles that appealed to my not so inner geek. I then spotted the dominos tile and the next thing I knew there were two winging their way to me (oops).

These are fab for stitchers. I am very guilty of threading the needle through my fabric when I'm not using it. Other stitchers will tell you that this is not good for the fabric. These little minders will hold onto the needle without fear of distorting your fabric. It's also a good way of holding onto extra needles if you have a lot of colour changes. Saves you from constantly rethreading your needle. I will warn you that the magnets are strong so you should always keep them seperated otherwise you might separate the magnet from the front piece. Something that the lovely Stacey warns you of if you are ordering from Arty Moments. And did I start a new project just so that I could show these off? Don't be silly, pfft!

Lastly I treated myself to some washi tape because I really don't have enough! Moving on. I got these tapes from etsy too. These are by Unwrap Colour who do a whole host of lovely washi tapes. It was actually a challenge not to go mad. I even bought one with little cats for my sister. For myself I stuck with little houses, biscuits, hot air balloons and little pineapples.

I'm going to be honest. The houses are my favourite. I can't wait to use it.

All of these pages have been added to my craft shopping page as well as linked here. If anyone has any new crafting toys I would love to hear about them.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Mum's Garden April 2016

 Friday was Earth Day which seems apt as I have spent the entire week (just about) working on the garden. I've been off this week, my dad has been away and the sun has been shining. Perfect conditions to getting things organised. I have done a lot of planting and apart from a few seedlings that are still on the window ledge everything is pretty much out. All I need to do now is take care of it and watch everything grow.

I am still waiting for most of the plants to start blooming at the back and the front. The same is not true of the rock garden along the side of the house. Old favourites are starting to bloom again and have come up a lot thicker than last year. These little white flowers are among my favourite. They look so dainty and they always seem to come up well.

These yellow flowers have grown a lot thickeer. There were definitely more spaces between the flowers last year. As a result there is a firm block of yellow and it looks lovely. Glad I save these from my father who wanted to pull them up a few weeks ago thinking they were weeds. You would think he would have learned his lesson from when he did that to my mum when she first planted her rock garden.

I planted this last year. I thought it was a gonner as the edges are a litttle brown (I'll fix that next week). The little purple flowers have come back once more though and there are a lot more of them.

The little green rock plant I planted last month had also begun to bloom. I love the deep purple.

This one though Is my favourite. Although I planted it at the same time as the last one the flowers that were there at the time withered and then these blooms have grown back in. So long as I take care to remove the dead flowers each time it should continue to do that during the summer.

As I said I am still waaiting for many fo the plants to bloom. I think these tulips will open in the next week or so. Keeping in mind that I planted these only a few months ago. I looked at one of the neighbours tulips and they are still waiting to bloom too.

While sitting on the bench and having a coffee during the week I happened to turn and look at the plant post on a little set of shelves we have in the garden. I noticed at the back there was a little white pot and I recognised two little buds coming up from it. These are the trumpet lillies that my mum loved. I didn't think they would grow again and so put the pot away and forgot about it. I have since tidied up the pot and added a little more soil. By summer we should have those large beautiful blooms again. I actually bought some more of these bulbs and planted some in the front garden so we should have more of them.

 The Magnolia Tree has also begun flowering again. A little late this year as this was also fully bloomed this time last year. As long as it still does sit I'm not complaining. There was a time when my mum thought this little tree was on its last legs.

There are a few spaces in the garden this year. I got rid of a rather large fern shrub last year. I was planning on getting another Hosta as it was one of my mum's favourites. There are already three of them though and when I saw these rose bushes I couldn't resist. We have a pink one where the shrun should be, a yellow on to the front where we planted sunflowers last year and a white one in a large plant pot. My mum always loved roses. Sadly no red roses but when she had roses in the garden they were usually pink. 

So fingers crossed that next months post will show a garden filled with colour. All this gardening has been giving my wrist and hand a break. The good news is I have been knitting again. Providing I exercise my hand I'm managing the knitting quite well and for longer periods of time. I think it will be a while yet before I can go back to the crochet though.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

What's New In April

Apologies for the absence this week. You might have to expect that over the next month or so although I will try my best to give some warning. There are a few things that are occurring that have caused me to stay away from my blog. First of all my over exertion in trying to get my blanket finished has finally taken it's toll. My right arm from my elbow to my thumb is a little painful. I've taken a short break from knitting and crafting but today when trying to work on this months socks I gave up after a time. It doesn't help that my job involves a lot of writing. So my crafting will have to take a back seat for now. The second reason is actually a happier one. I am in the process of finalising buying my own flat. It's all happened rather quickly although I feel that now the process has slowed right down. Waiting for the mortgage lender and lawyers feels painfully slow. Although I have been assured that this has been faster than normal. I'll just have to be patient.

In the meantime I leave you with some things that I have come across this month. First of all there is the Knitting & Show coming up in Edinburgh. It's similar to the Edinburgh Yarn festival differing only in that it also features fabric. There are some classes but all of these appear to be stitchy related. I was hoping to go as I am collecting fabric for a quilt I am planning for my new bedroom. Getting the colours I want is proving difficult and I had hoped to find some there. I am now working that weekend as I agreed to swap shifts for a friend. It's probably a good thing as I can spend that money on things I'll need for my new home. It's taking place at the Royal Highland Centre from 28th-1st May. If you head over to the Knitting & Stitching show website you should be able to get tickets and see the list of vendors.

If you are curious about how the Edinburgh Yarn Festival went then head over to Lisa's blog as she has written a fantastic post on her experiences.

Sophie's Universe is a year old now but I came across this very recently. I can't remember where but I have a hunch it was good old Instagram. This is a Crochet Along project designed by the author of the blog Look at What I Made. If you love crochet and colours definitely follow her blog. She has a lot of free tutorials and patterns on there and her work is lovely.

This is what the finished pattern looks like. It's absolutely stunning. You can even pick up yarn packs based on whether you want to do it in aron, DK or 4ply. I am planning on adding this to my rather large to do list but I am going to choose my own colours. I just haven't worked out what those colours will be. A fun project I think. If you want to have a look you can find it here.

In an effort to prepare for moving I have been having a ruthless gut out. Part of that has involved going through all of my magazines (of which there are a lot) and taking out what I like. While doing that I have come across a few articles that I don't remember reading the first time. One of those articles was about the blogger behind Sew Sweetness. She is a quilter but is famous for her stitched bags and patterns. I am sure there was a pattern with her article which was the reason I then jotted down her blog in my notebook. Go have a look.

This image comes from Mothy & Squid and represents my next topic, mini skeins. My friend Lisa posted on her instagram some mini skeins she planned to put on her etsy page. I had mentioned that I noticed their popularity of late and wondered what people used them for. A set of mini skeins quite often comes in a set of colours each one about 20g. It can be like the rainbow above or it can be a range of colours that go well together. Lisa said that many people use them for socks and I have seen people knit stripey socks with them. The thought of all those ends though would just put me off. Mothy & Squid actually uses them for the cuffs, heels and toes of socks to give them an extra pop. While this may seem new (as it was to me). I came across an advert for mini skeins within an early edition of Knitter (so about 6/7 years ago maybe more). Not that new then but I think it's only now that it's taken off. I am actually planning a larger post with some ideas on what you could do with your own set of mini skeins.

This time last year series 3 of the Great British Sewing Bee had ended. In fact it had ended the month before. I have been waiting impatiently for season 4 to start believing it would have happened long before now. A friend of mine posted me a link with news that it was due to start in early May. Sadly the BBC website for the programme has no information on this so for now I remain ever hopeful that come May this programme will return. And with it expect lots of sewing related posts.

I will try to post at least once or twice a week. With my poor wrist and the upheaval of organising my soon to be new flat I can't make promises of more than that.

If anyone would like the opportunity to guest post then feel free to get in touch. It can be any topic you like so long as it's craft related.