Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Looking Back on 2008

In 2008, I knit and crocheted 65 finished objects!

The highlight of my knitting year had to be getting my arka pattern published on The Inside Loop! I've been getting my designer hat on this year, and to be published was a great honour, and a good impetus! I've got a few other designs on the go :) As a (slight) aside, when I was at my parents over the holidays, my Dad had printed out the pattern and took it to show my relatives! I take it that means he's happy too!

I learned to read crochet patterns and be a "proper" crocheter. I've taken to crochet quite well, I think. I actually find it easier to adapt crochet patterns than knitting ones, if I need to make something smaller or bigger for example, even though I've been knitting since I was about 5 or 6! Maybe I don't feel as constrained by the "rules" and following the pattern, since I've done it for less time, or maybe crochet is just intrinsically easier to adapt, I'm not sure. But I definitely love it. Actually, 30 of my FOs this year were crocheted! (wow, I hadn't realised it was so many!)

I danced 5 solos with Isis Wings, one in a windy field at a local gala day! Let me tell you, if you're doing a Isis Wings dance outside, do it on a day when it's not windy! :D I danced Bollywood at a few charity events with my friend, and went to 5 haflas (I think, I may be forgetting one!) I even taught some school kids Bollywood, that was fun!

I learned in my Tribal class how to dance with a sword! I've done one performance with it, hiding at the back of the class in case my sword fell off my head, but I did it! Sword dancing is very cool, I'd definitely like to get better at it!

I opened a flickr account, and started thinking about photography more seriously. I've signed up for a digital photography/photoshop class in the New Year, and I think Tupac is getting seriously sick of the camera appearing!

I took a sewing class, and although that has kind of fallen away for a little while, I can now use my machine, and do some very basic sewing!

Wow, I seem to have achieved a lot this year! Looking back on it and picking out everything I've done was really interesting, who'd have thunk I'd been so productive I think there's a tendency to focus on the negative things in life, so trying to find all the positive creative things I've done was quite an eye opener!

What have you achieved out there this year? Here's something fun, think of all the things you've learned or done, or anything, and post them on your blog, or in the comments here if you want. Leave me a link in the comments if you do post on your blog, so I can go read! Let's be positive as we go into the New Year!

Friday, 26 December 2008

Happy Christmas!!


Tupac hopes you all had as exciting and happy a xmas as he had, and are all worn out and happy. (And that you all got lots of presents/teddies too!)

Monday, 22 December 2008

Hello Kitty Witch!

I have completed tons of projects recently! I've been going crazy for small quick projects like hats and scarves, and since I've had a lot of time to knit while other stuff has been going on, I've completed stuff at an average of one every two days for a little while now! I've added the projects to ravelry, but not all of them have photos yet. I'm too busy knitting and crocheting to take photos! ;)

I've got photos of some, so I figure to give myself time to take more photos, (and so I can get back to knitting soon. Obsessed, me? Nooooooo!) I'll blog about each of my FOs individually, or maybe two at a time. That way I can focus on each of them and give them the attention they deserve, and it also gives me blog fodder for a few days instead of cramming it all in one post then having nothing to say for ages :)

First off is my Hello Kitty Witch amigurumi, which I started on Halloween this year, thinking it would be super fast and it'd be done in one night (yeah, I think my brain was not quite engaged with that thought process!). I finished it today, three days before Christmas ;/

I was inspired to make it by seeing MandaR's one on ravelry, which actually did take her only one day!!!!! Very impressive!

But even though mine took ages, she's so cuuuuuute!


I totally love her! It was well worth the fiddliness, and sewing in of small bits ;) She's not very Christmasy, but she's up on the bookshelf in the living room regardless.

Oh, pattern details! It's the Amigurumi Kitty Witch by Armina Parnagian and it's available as a free Ravelry download.

Amigurumi are so obviously a Japanese thing! They're so small and fiddly, and you have to be so precise to get good results. I totally had to put myself in almost a zen mind state, deliberately slowing down every action to get it right. If I hurried, it looked bad, so I had to keeeep goooing veeeery sloooowly.

I had to change a couple of bits of the pattern. I couldn’t understand the instrucitions for the bow at all, so I just made some stitches till they looked vaguely bow-shaped. Don’t ask me what I did, I have no idea ;) It was definitely not what was written down anyway! I also had to miss out one of the 2sc-in-each-st increase rows for the gown, cos it came out looking too wonky with it in. I didn’t have any pipe cleaners for the broomstick, so I made three chains and twisted them together instead. Oh, and I didn#t have pre-made eyes, so I just stitched them on. And that's all my mods.

(Just as an aside, I was looking at the rav page for this pattern, and there's only 6 projects, including mine. Strange for such a cute pattern!)

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Xmas Knitting . . . Done!

OK, earlier on this year I thought I would have only two gifts to make for Christmas. And I ended up knitting neither of those. I was going to crochet the Seraphina Shawl for my mum and my gran. My gran passed away, and I made hers in the days after her death in an attempt to comfort myself. And I decided my mum would like other things better. Then I forgot all about Christmas till basically the beginning of this month!

It seems like I decided what to make people all in December. Just as well I've got a lot of time to knit :)

I made this for my friend from bellydance class, and gave it to her yesterday:


It's basically a knock off of the burly-que-hat from the Spring 2007 issue of Knitscene. I saw the pattern on Ravelry, and just thought of this woman, it's perfect for her. So I searched ebay, the in-search-of boards on Ravelry, all the shops I could think of, but couldn't find a copy of the magazine. Eventually I looked at the pictures and figured I could make my own version. I feel kind of bad just basically copying the pictures, but I do intend to buy the pattern as soon as I find it, and I could not find it anywhere, and this pattern would be perfect for my friend. I totally want to support the designer, so if anyone knows where I can buy the mag, let me know please :)

Anyway, I gave it to my friend yesterday cos it was the last class of the year, and it got a great reaction! Reactions like that are what make me want to give my knitting away, she loved it! I just knew it was for her as soon as I saw it :D Almost makes me want to give up being a selfish knitter!


I made this bag for my mum (I know she doesn't read this cos she doesn't have the internet!). I had made it for myself in the summer, in blue, and she'd hinted (read: told me!) that she wanted one for xmas in purple. That was what made me decide to make her this instead of the Seraphina shawl. :) It's the Cabled Baglet from One Skein Wonders. It knits up really fast, and is really pretty. She's getting this perfume bottle inside it, cos she loves butterflies :)


I went to the shops last Wednesday in an effort to find last minute gifts. I know it's not really last minute, but it's as last minute as I want to allow it to be :) The shops are horrible as it gets closer to Christmas. Me and a friend were scaring ourselves wondering how it would be to go into Toys R Us on the weekend before Christmas. Scaaaary! Then we imagined how it would be to actually work there the weekend before Christmas, and nearly passed out from fear! Kudos to all those workers in the shops, you're braver than me, and work so hard!

Anyway, I popped into the yarn shop (as you do when you're Christmas shopping ;) ) and they had purple sparkly yarn! Normally I would just walk right by it, but suddenly I thought that my mum and my sister love that shade of bright sparkly purple, and would really love scarves made from it. So I bought four balls (it was Stylecraft Cabaret, BTW), and went on my merry way. I also bought a couple of other balls of yarn for a shrug, but we won't mention them, k? ;) Then I was looking around trying to find something for my BF's brother's girlfriend. And just could not find anything. In a flash of inspiration, I looked down at my shopping bag, and thought "she can get a scarf too!". So I went back and got another two balls.


I knit the three scarves in two days! It was just 25sts of garter stitch on 7mm needles, for as long as two balls lasted. They turned out to be 6 inches by 6 feet, which to me is the perfect length for a scarf, so it all turned out good! I couldn't believe they knit up so fast, and the recipients will be more impressed with them being all sparkly than if I made intricate lace scarves for them.

It was my first time knitting using "fun fur" type yarn too. I figured if it was as horrible as some people say, then it would only be three scarves, and I could at least say I'd done it. But it wasn't bad at all knitting with the Stylecraft Cabaret. It's quite soft, and if you need to, it rips out easily and smoothly. I don't think I'd wear the scarf, just because it's a little too fluffy for my taste in clothes, but I wouldn't rule it out. Maybe the other people were using really rubbish fun fur or something. It's definitely all right for whipping up a quick scarf or three!

Anyway, that's all my Christmas knitting done, so I can get back to making stuff for myself! Unless I think of anyone else who needs a scarf!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Plaid Scarf #2

Here's a pic of my 2nd Shades of Plaid scarf.


The details again: The pattern is from the CrochetMe book (amazon link) and is the Shades of Plaid (ravelry link) scarf by Julie Armstrong Holetz. I did my single crochet instead of chain variation, and it's very warm. Just what I need right now :)

I really like this scarf, even if the pic of it is a bit crappy :/ I'll try get some better ones, because I think I like this version better than the green, yellow and brown one. The colours are quite accurate in the picture, very tartany.

As soon as I finished this scarf, I wanted to make another one, but I'm stuck in xmas knitting garter stitch scarf hell just now ;) Well, it's not too bad, but there's a lot of knit stitch going on. I'll definitely make another at some point, it's my new favouritest pattern evaaar! :D I'm thinking about doing one in two colours with slightly different stripe variations. This pattern definitely has my colour imagination going. I keep envisioning different combinations and variations, and I think I'm going to end up with tons of them ;)

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Small Warm Things

Oh my goodness, it has been freezing here! I know it's December now, but still! The weather forecast predicted a big snow on Thursday, which didn't appear :( I looked out of the window on Thursday morning expecting to be inundated with snow from the way the forecast was, and it was raining!!! I was very upset, I wanted to make a snowman! Still, at least with the rain, the temperature has gone up a little. It's now more like 0 degrees Celsius, rather than -4! My gas and electric bills are going to be so huge, the heating has been on all the time more or less.

It's been so cold that I had to make some small things to keep myself warm. Any excuse, eh? ;) I did want to make some more sweaters, but it's too cold. I want small things that are quickly finished and can be put on to keep me warm.

I made this scarf:


The pattern is from the CrochetMe book (amazon link) and is the Shades of Plaid (ravelry link) scarf by Julie Armstrong Holetz. It's my new favourite pattern ;) I've already made another, but I don't have pictures yet. It's great for stashbusting, and I love the tartan-y effect. Must be my Scottishness showing through!

The pattern calls for making a mesh then threading a crochet chain through it, but my chain wasn't big enough for my mesh holes, so I single crocheted (double in UK terms?) into the chain. That made it big enough, and also made it super super warm. I wore my other one out yesterday, and it definitely kept the chill away! I can see I'm going to make quite a few more of these. I keep looking at them and thinking of new colour combinations for it!

I also have become obsessed with cowls. I don't know why, two weeks ago I thought they were the silliest thing ever. I mean, why not just wear a scarf?

But then I made this


and have now decided that they are great. This one is the Darkside Cowl by Sarah Fama, and it's available as a free download on Ravelry.

I love this also. I love how it keeps my neck warm, and yet is not bulky at all. I'm getting a new jacket for Christmas (shhh, I'm not supposed to know, really!), and I keep thinking how great this will look with it.

There was a kind of convoluted process to getting to make this. I have this other yarn that I was trying to think of what to make with it, and saw another cowl pattern which I thought would be perfect, but the pattern got lost in the yarn. So I started looking through the patterns on Ravelry trying to find another one. I didn't find one for that yarn, so I've ended up having to design my own. But then I looked at my yarn on the shelf and saw this gold yarn. I remembered seeing the Darkside Cowl pattern and it just clicked that the two would go well together. It knit up really fast, about a day overall, and I'm very happy with it.

So now I'm designing a cowl for the other yarn that I originally intended to use, and when I was tidying my stash yesterday I came across another two yarns that would look nice as cowls. Some wider and floppier and some tight like this one. It's a bit scary, this sudden obsession, but I might as well go with it. Because of Christmas etc, the new cowl pattern probably won't be written up for a little while, but I'm planning to write it up and put it up for free. Eventually. ;)

Now I'm off to make more small warm things :)

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Unintentional NaKniSweMo

Ok, so I wasn't particpating in the NaKniSweMo knitalong, but I finished a sweater in the month of November! I started on the 1st and finished on the 25th (and I'm posting on the 30th, so I just make it with all aspects!)


It's my second Rogue Sweater. I bought this pattern ages ago, and made a red one, which I absolutely love and wear all the time. I loved knitting the pattern, it's so well written and a lot of fun with the cables and pocket. Plus it knits up pretty fast. So I decided to make a black one as well.

I used James C Brett Aran with Wool on 5.5mm needles. For some reason, even though I used the same size of yarn, needles, and pattern, this one came out a little looser and the hood is quite bigger and floppier round my head. But that's cool, I can pretend I'm a mad hoody (see 2nd definition on link if you don't know what that is)!

I changed the pattern a little to knit the sleeves in the round up till the shoulder cap, and moved the increase stitches in by a stitch, so the sleeve looks much tidier and nicer than my red one which has some quite bad seaming!

I really like this sweater. I've already planned what mods to make for the next one (3 needle bind off at the shoulder to avoid seaming that little bit, and casting off the stitches at the top of the hood cos grafting them onto the cable section is a PITA) This'll probably be the last sweater for a little while at least though, because it's absolutely baltic here! There's been frost on the ground for the last 3 days solid with no signs of it disappearing. I've been wearing my hats and gloves and scarfs non stop, and I need more warm things, pronto!

Here's a macro picture of the frost on top of my fence, so you can see how cold it is! (Also, somehow I managed to get a bokeh picture with my camera, where the foreground is sharp and the background is blurred! No idea how it did that, but I like the effect and wanted to show it off!)


Sunday, 23 November 2008


Out the back garden at 8 this morning. (The sun had only been up half an hour)

Macro snow on a buddleia plant.

Tupac liked the snow :)

Let me out to play some more!!!

Exhausted after all that fun!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Arka Hat and Mittens Pattern Up!!!!!!

Yay! The pattern for these mittens and the hat is up on The Inside Loop, here.

I was so excited when it went up this morning, I was planning to spend all day refreshing the page to see when it came up, then it was up at 8 in the morning!

This issue of The Inside Loop is fab, and no, not just cos it has my pattern in! There are a ton of other great patterns too, and some really interesting articles. I particularly liked the article on photographing knits and yarn. It's something I need to work on and this article is super helpful! The whole magazine is great, a whole bunch of the patterns got queued!

Kate and Diane did a really great job putting this magazine together. Thank you to both, they totally deserve a rest and lot of chocolate now! Go and check it out, if you haven't already! :D

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Published!!! (soon :D )

Thank you all for the lovely comments on my Laminara shawl. I've been visting my parents and generally very busy so it still isn't blocked, but that is a job for either today or tomorrow, without fail! The pattern was from - here.

Anyway, today's is just a little post, basically to let y'all know that I've got a pattern coming up in the next issue of The Inside Loop online magazine!!!! Yay!!! [jumping around the living room for joy!] It'll be up on Thursday (only 2 days left, eep), and I'm very excited and nervous, and all sorts of fun emotions! (This is my first published pattern) But you'll have to wait till Thursday to see it. (I'm such a tease, I know, but that's the rules!)

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Lumpy Laminaria!

I finished knitting my Laminaria Shawl!

I'm very excited about it. This is the first piece of lace I've knitted that has that 'lumpy' unblocked look about it, and I can't wait to see it all blocked out! I thought I'd post my unblocked pics so that other people can see how it looks before the magic blocking. I've seen many pics of finished Laminarias but I like to see pics of unblocked lace too, because there always seems to be such a magical transformation! (Can you tell I'm a bit excited about this shawl?! I hope the blocking lives up to all I've heard! :D )


This one shows the full unblocked shape of the shawl, but the colours are a little off. The weather's been rubbish here lately, no sun at all, and the flash just blurred everything up, so that's why this is so dark.


This shows a detail of the unblocked lumpiness, and the edge, which looks all ruffly just now. The colours are pretty accurate in this one for some reason. My camera's been very strange recently, I think it must have heard me talking about getting a new one and is upset with me :D

Unfortunately I won't be able to block the shawl for a couple of days cos I'm going to visit my family, so it'll have to wait :(

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

America - Yes, They Did!

I've been following the American election pretty closely. Partly because it's such an historic one (only 40-50 years after the civil rights movement a black president gets elected, how amazing is that!), partly because of my own political beliefs, and partly because whatever the President of the USA decides, my own government and others throughout the world are strongly influenced one way or the other. Opinions on either side have been very strong this election, and it's been a big thing even this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

I want to offer my congratulations to the winners of this election, and to the American public. Like I said before, this is an historic day, and I hope President Obama's term in office lives up to the hopes and dreams that were invested in his election.

I've always been interested in politics, I think it influences all of our lives, and even though political decisions sometimes seems remote and inaccessible, this election proves that people can have the power to have their voice heard and to influence the direction their lives will take.

I will always vote in every election I am eligible to vote in. Not because people died to allow me that right (everyone always gives that reason, and it's an important one, but just not big in my own thinking), but because I have opinions, and am lucky enough to live in a country where I can voice them. I know that there are those who will ignore the voice of the people, and those who just plain want to take their voice away, but this election has galvanized my interest, and I have an increased desire to involve myself in those issues I feel strongly about, and that affect myself and others.

Politics in the UK seems less fractured, with less of a difference between the main parties. To be honest, it's hard to choose between them at times, because we're a smaller nation, with less room for divide. The main parties are chasing after the same few votes, which means their policies have to be kind of similar to attract them. But I will never be one of those who say my vote has no impact, and certainly not after last night!

Good luck America, and well done on making your voice heard!

Sunday, 2 November 2008


I have a serious case of startitis. I've finished one project:


BPT from Knitty

I like this jacket. I didn't do any waist shaping as I want it as an outerwear jacket to go over other clothes, so after the armholes had been seperated, it was just straight knitting with cables. I got gauge with this yarn (Teddy Vanguard (worsted weight)), but the fabric is a little thin, that's my only complaint (about the yarn). I guess it's more of a spring/autumn jacket than a winter one ;) The only thing that really bugs me about this sweater is the incessant rolling of the icord hem. It was fun to knit the icord and join it at the same time, but it just keeps rolling! Maybe it's because of the relative thin-ness of the fabric compared to the icord. Whatever it is, it's really annoying. I'm going to have to try fix it some way, maybe some crochet on the inside, or line it with some fabric. Maybe I could line the whole thing, then it'd be a little thicker. But whatever I decide to do, it won't be for a while yet anyway.

I wore it to Jewel Of Yorkshire, and it was perfect for the autumn weather down there. (yeah, I know, it's been finished for a month, and I'm only blogging about it now. Bad, bad blogger!)

Anyway, since then it feels like I've started a billion other things. I attempted the trystero sock pattern by Cookie A for Socktoberfest, but that was a bust. First they were too small on 2.25mm needles, so I went up to 2.75mm and they're too big :( They're sitting in the corner until some 2.5mm needles arrive from ebay. If they don't fit after that, I don't know what I'll do. Cry, probably.

I've been knitting steadily on Laminaria, I'm halfway through the first edging chart now, it should be finished soon! Yay!

I'm also making the Shades of Plaid scarf from the Crochet Me book, and I'm about 4/5 of the way through that. I'm sewing in ends, and threading it all together. It should also be finished soon.

I started a couple of soft toys, including an Octopus toy designed by Jean Greenhowe. However, I was trying to use up odds and ends for that, and didn't have enough of the colours I wanted to use. I'm either going to have to use more colours or buy more to make it.

And yesterday I felt an insatiable urge to cast on my second Rogue sweater, this time in black.

According to Ravelry, I have 6 projects on the go, which is more than I've ever had before! It's not bothering me too much though, most of them are small, and I'm sure I'll go through a finishing phase soon. :)

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Woo Hoo!

I've been linked as a designer on Ravelry!

I've only got one pattern there so far, the free scarf patten I put up here ages ago, but I'm hoping to have many more linked there soon! I'm very excited, I just had to post! :D

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Jewel of Yorkshire 2008

Wow! The weekend at Jewel of Yorkshire was amazing! For those who don't know, it's a weekend of bellydance workshops, shopping and performances in Saltaire, Yorkshire. There are always tons of teachers and workshops to choose from and the souk (market-place thingy) is wonderful. Lots and lots of sparkles, enough so that I got sparkle overload at one point and had to go sit down before my brain exploded!

I chose to do 4 workshops this year - 2 with Raqia Hassan (famous Egyptian dancer), 1 with Ozgen Ozgec and 1 with Anne Kingston. That last one was billed as belly burlesque with 2 veils, but apparantly that information was wrong, it was one veil connected round the neck (much like Isis Wings really). I was a bit diappointed, but I learned a few interesting moves from it, but I think they'll apply more to my Isis Wing dancing.

Raqia is amazing!!!! She's so talented and lovely (she has the nicest smile BTW, it just lights up her whole face). I learned so much from just those 2 workshops. I had been a bit hesitant to book them since I had never seen her before (or even heard of her) but she was highly recommended, so I took the opportunity, and I'm glad I did. I'm only sorry I didn't book more workshops with her. She taught choreographies, but she said herself she was more interested in teaching the moves and technique. She broke the moves right down, explained where they had come from, what dancers she watched and how she got her inspiration, everything in fact. I took notes and learned a whole bunch of new moves and variations on moves. I need to drill them all now so they stay in my brain. She's very inspiring. She took the time to correct and help individuals in the class as well. She was watching us all very closely and gave us instruction, but she did it so nicely! It wasn't like "You're doing it wrong" It was more "Just move this way, and you'll get it". If any dancers out there get the chance to learn from her, take it!!!

The workshop with Ozgen was also fantastic. I'd seen him on youtube (even linked his video lol) and he makes it look so easy and effortless. But there is so much in his dance! It's very tightly choreographed, and the moves change all the time for interest. That makes it hard to learn in a way, but he broke everything right down, even though it was a masterclass, and probably a lot of teachers wouldn't have taken the time to do that. Again, he explained things clearly and took the time to make sure we had the moves. His performances at the evening hafla were amazing! He's such a dynamic performer, with tons of energy and well, it was just fantastic. I wrote on my review sheet that they should definitely get him back next year, cos he's great!

I'm thinking about going next year in April. Usually the group of us that travel down just go to the October one, but there are a bunch of fab teachers booked for the April one next year, so I'll have to start saving my pennies! (Lorna Gow, Sara Farouk, and Maria D'Silva just for starters! And I've still to look up/learn about some of the other teachers who I'm sure will turn out to be fab too!)

This post is getting a bit long so I'll have to write another post with photos of all the shinies and sparklies I bought at this year's one. :D

Monday, 20 October 2008

Trystero Is Kicking My Bottom!

A while ago, I tried to start Trystero by Cookie A. I love the pattern, but back then it seemed too hard. I don't know what I was doing wrong, but I just couldn't even start the cabled portion properly. I got the ribbing done, then got stuck. I put them down and left them, meaning to get back to them.

And I didn't. Until Socktoberfest came along! I've never participated in Socktoberfest before, but this year it suddenly struck me that this would be the perfect motivation to restart these socks. I'm determined to finally finish them!

SO. I started knitting them, on size 2.25mm needles, same as I always use. This time, I didn't get stuck at all. The pattern just suddenly seemed to make sense. It's fairly straightforward - I don't know why I got stuck at all the first time. It's just a case of knitting the rib then moving round a few stitches and following the chart. I'm magic-looping this time, maybe that makes a difference, or maybe my brain is just switched on this time round! :) So I was getting really into knitting them, and got down to the heel flap. Then I decided to try them on.

Can you guess what's coming? :)

Yup, too tight.


I had to rip all of this:


Right back to the beginning. I've restarted on 2.75mm needles. I had to restart immediately, or I know I'd just put the pattern aside till next socktoberfest! I've done a couple of repeats now, and they seem a lot more stretchy, but I haven't tried them on yet. I'm hoping so much that I don't have to start them on 3mm needles! That just seems ridiculous to me somehow.

The pattern is really quite ingenious. It's straightforward but looks much more complicated because you move the stitches around to begin knitting the round in a different place. The technique's really quite amazing, simple yet so effective! (Maybe that's why I got stuck first time around, I just couldn't wrap my head round it.)

I'm very glad I decided to do these for socktoberfest, I don't think I'd have the heart to keep restarting otherwise! They're like the socks that don't want to be knit! I think they'll look really good when they're finished, if they ever get finished, that is!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Catch Up

Blimey, where to begin?! I've been suffering a little lack of motivation recently, which is why I haven't been blogging. I've even not been knitting for a few days! I'm hoping to change that though!

I knit this sweater:


and I haven't knit a stitch since! I don't know what's going on. I've been playing video games (the first Silent Hill for PS and Lego Star Wars on the DS when the bf's using the TV) and browsing my queue, looking for inspiration. I'm sure I'll find it soon though - over 1600 queued items now! It's almost getting to be a game with myself now, seeing just how many patterns there are out there that I would make one day. Lots of people use their queue for things they're going to make soon, but I fill it up with things that I would make theoretically, one day. Then it's easy to look through for inspiration. I also tagged each and every item in there and organised it. That took AGES! But now I have tabs at the top with seperate sections, and it's not so scary to browse any more. I just have to remember to add tags to new items as I add them, I always forget!

Anyway, the sweater. It's using the raglan pattern from Ann Budd's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. I used a broken rib pattern (basically knit one row, then K1, P1 the next row) and James C Brett Aran with Wool. 5.5mm needles. It's absolutely huge! I knit it a size bigger than I would normally because I wanted it to be my slob-around sweater for the winter. As it's bigger it'll go over layers (and layers!) of clothes so I can be super warm.

The raglan pattern from Ann Budd's book is knit from the bottom up, which in some ways I much prefer to top-down. With knitting from the bottom I can see after an inch or so if it's going to be the right size. If I'm knitting from the top down, I always have to wait till it's under the arms before I can really tell, and it never is the right size. I haven't knit any top down sweater that I haven't had to rip back after the arm seperations, and it's really, really annoying! Nobody else seems to have this problem! But this sweater worked out fine. Only trouble is, now my bf's bugging me for one in black. I had a couple of balls of this orangey brown anyway, so I just got the inspiration that it would look good in a broken rib pattern, and knit away. Now I have to go and buy black for him. Oh no, more yarn shopping, whatever will I do!!!! :D

Ooooooh, speaking of yarn, check out what I got in the mail!


It's a present from Moggle for testing her liquorice shrug pattern. It's handspun BFL/angora, and it's lovely! This is the first handspun I've ever seen in person and wow! It's amazing. I can't wait to knit it up, I'm looking for a hat pattern just now for it.

I'm packing just now to go to Jewel of Yorkshire, a belly dance weekend in Yorkshire, surprisingly enough! I'm really looking forward to it. I'm taking four classes. Two with Raqia Hassan (a very famous Egyptian dancer), one with Ozgen Ozgec (Turkish male dancer) and one with Anne Kingstone - a belly burlesque one with two veils! I'm quite looking forward to that one! OK, I have to show you all this video of Ozgen:

Go to 2.25min and you'll see why I posted that one! Lol! I'm not quite sure what the shoe thing is all about. I'm not doing that kind of class with him, I'm doing a turkish oriental class, so I hope there's no shoe shenanigans in that one! He seems like a very good dancer from what I've seen on youtube so shoes aside, I'm really looking forward to learning from him. I couldn't find any vids of Raqia dancing, but people highly recommend her, so I thought I would take the opportunity to take some of her classes.

I'm leaving tomorrow, and coming back on Monday. It'll be nice to get away for a bit! :)

Friday, 19 September 2008

Finishing Party!

OK, it wasn't really a party, it was me, a sewing needle and a crochet hook, but 3 things got finished! Yay!

This is the liquorice shrug, by Megan Marshall. I love this shrug! I test knit the pattern for her, it was a lot of fun to knit, and it's now my favourite piece of clothing. :) Oh, the pattern link takes you to the ravelry page for that pattern, where you will be able to buy it later.

I used Debbie Bliss Rialto 4 ply for this shrug, I think it must be my first time knitting with merino. I love this yarn to bits, it's very soft and yummy. Black is a bit of a pain to see the stitches in, but I have lots of lamps in the house! :D

I wore the shrug to dance class last night, and got some very nice comments about it. I always have to explain how knitting is not old fashioned whenever I talk to new people about knitting though. But it's fun to watch the slightly surprised and bemused look that comes across people's faces when I say I made something!

These are crochet slippers designed by Zuleika, from life in the zu. This was another pattern testing project.

These are so super cute! I love them. I used James C Brett With Wool Aran, an acrylic/wool blend. They worked up really quite quickly and like I say, very cute when on.

Last but not least, my February Lady Sweater. The knitting for this got done ages ago, but I had to find buttons big enough. I ended up buying 2x100 button sets off ebay to get 3 the same. But now I have a growing button collection too, which is a bonus. For this, I used Teddy Vanguard. I wasn't sure about the solid colour when it came off the needles, I thought it might look better in a semi solid, but when I added the buttons and tried it on, it hung just right, and I was very pleased :)

So now I only have Laminaria on the needles and a sweater I started yesterday. Oh, and the BPT jacket is still waiting on a zip so it still counts as a WIP. How hard can it be to find a 24 inch bottle green zip? Apparantly, it's very hard. The poor jacket has been sitting there for ages! Laminaria had to wait for a bit, because my needles were too blunt, and my thumb started to ache from pushing it through, but I ordered some new ones, and it's doable now :) These needles still aren't particularly sharp, but they work. The sweater is a big cosy sweater to slob about in during winter, using more of the James C Brett Aran, and Anne Budd's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Retail and Pattern Therapy

Wow! Thank you all so much for the lovely comments on my last post! They really help make me feel better, thank you :) I'm seriously thinking about printing them out and making a don't-pay-attention-to-mean-people card to look at whenever I feel them getting to me. :)

I really think it must be a control thing with these people, who feel the need to put others down so they won't get ideas above their station. I've had the exact same experience with other people throughout my past, where they invoke the People Who Will Laugh in order to stop me doing something. They've used exactly the same words as this person last week, and that really shocked me! I think I must have a pattern picking out these sort of people unfortunately. :( At least I recognise their behaviour (only took me 30 years, lol), so I can try to ignore it. My strategy really is to turn it into a sort of battle in my head. Someone says I shouldn't do something, well I'll just have to force myself to try twice as hard. It always seems to surprise me when it happens though, and I start feeling bad about myself regardless of whether I know what they're up to. Stupid emotions ;)

So anyway, let's talk about something nice and ignore the meanies! Yarn!!!!!

I kind of had an expedition to my LYS ;) I bought some Debbie Bliss Rialto 4 ply for a shrug, which I'm knitting up just now. I also stumbled on the sale basket, oops! I bought 6 balls of Debbie Bliss cotton DK, which I'm thinking will also become a shrug.

I've also been buying lots of patterns (emotional purchasing, moi? Never!)

I have queued a lot of patterns from these mags! This is the first interweave knits I've ever liked the patterns enough to buy. A lot of people don't seem to like the newer issues of Interweave Knits, but I really like this one, whereas I didn't like previous ones that other people liked. I'm contrary like that! I really like the Estes Vest in particular.

I bought the Debbie Bliss mag from Web of Wool online, and I must say I'm very impressed with their service. I ordered on Wednesday night and it was here Friday morning! I'll definitely buy from them again. The mag itself is lovely, lots of nice patterns. It has that very definite Debbie Bliss style. And there's a recipe for scones! That made me laugh.

And I bought the pattern for Faux Bois from Twist Collective.

Ever since I first saw that scarf it's been stuck in my head. I wanted to buy it immediately, but then I read that it has steeking as well as colourwork! I got a bit scared and left it for a while, but it won't go out of my head! So even though it's scary, I'll have to give it a go.

Oh, and the fall Knitty came out! Drool! I'm really liking Camden, Retrofit and Baroque. I've queued others, but they're my favourites. My rav queue is getting beyond ridiculous now, over 1500, and they just keep bringing the great patterns out!

So that's my retail and pattern therapy. :) With the length of this post, I think I'd better leave it till the next one to list what I've actually been knitting!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Back (with some issues)

It feels like I haven't blogged for ages, but it's only been a week. It's been a bit sucky round here. Something happened that gave me a pretty big blow to my self-esteem - someone was very mean to me, and I cried. That happy self-esteemy post about my belly dance birthday where I said I was happy to be myself? Complete opposite, all in a couple of days, all because of some mean comments, by someone in a bad mood. I tried to ignore them, and not to cry and not to let them get to me, but dammit, they did. Not as much as they were intended to, I think though, but they still got to me.

I had a dance performance on Sunday too. It was interesting trying to get into performance mode feeling like the ugliest, most worthless person in the room. But I got up on the stage, and it actually made me feel better. I was performing a couple of bollywood routines with my friend at a council sponsored multi-cultural event. There were stalls with foods from and information about China, Poland, the Czech republic and a whole lot of other countries, represented by people from those areas who lived locally. I don't know what they thought of two white women dancing bollywood, but we went on and did it anyway.

The audience was a mix of children and adults. Most of the children had their faces painted. It was interesting to look down and see kids with tiger faces running around in front of us! And kids are always a good audience, they're so un-self-conscious, and they dance as well (usually copying the moves enviably well). So that part was helpful. The adults were also smiley and encouraging, which isn't always the case with non-dance crowds. Some of them even started moving in their seats - you know, dancing a little without standing up? They were fantastic! I came off stage feeling like, you know, it doesn't matter if I have a few extra pounds, dancing can still make me feel good.

Of course, that didn't last forever. I'm still feeling a bit depressed, and it's quite an effort to force myself to do things, but I will force myself. This person who was mean to me is not going to make me stop doing what I love - dance or anything else. I may not be the best at what I want to do (I'm not just talking about dance now, more about things in general), and people may not like it, but it's not their life. There are certain things I want to achieve, and I can't let comments like theirs stop me. I may not achieve them in the end, but at least I'll feel good that I tried.

There have been a few people in my life who have told me that I shouldn't even attempt some things because 1: I'm not going to manage it so why bother? and 2: I'll just make a fool of myself and other people will laugh at me.

I lived my life for years trying to live life according to those rules and reasons, and it's only now that I'm nearly 30 that I've realised those reasons are rubbish. They're not reasons that I should use to avoid doing anything. If people laugh at me, they laugh at me. I tried to hide in the shadows all through school and beyond, and you know what, people still laughed at me. There's a growing part of me that just does not care about that sort of person. They're going to laugh no matter what, and they're going to find something about me to laugh at. It's not my job to hide things so that they can't laugh at them. It's not going to make them nicer people, or myself happy. So f*** them. The only part of it that I can influence is that I can do things that make me happy. So I'll just have to make myself keep doing those things. The laughers usually don't have anything in their own lives that make them happy, I've noticed. They don't attempt anything of their own, so they laugh at others. Well, they can laugh, point and stare. I'm me, and I can't change me. I've spent the past week wishing I could, and I'll spend a large part of the next week wishing I could, but I know I can't.

As for the first reason I shouldn't attempt anything - that I'll just fail? Well, I won't know that till I try. I probably will fail. I've failed at a lot of things in my life. But one day, I might succeed.

I think it's more of an attempt to keep the status quo going. If I try to actually do stuff, then things might change and I might not be so available or pliable. Life may not go as these people want for them because I might not be able to facilitate it. Well, that's not my job either. Letting these comments hurt me lets them win in a way. Letting them stop what I'm doing definitely lets them win. I just have to turn it into a battle inside my head, then I'll definitely keep going. :) If only the comments didn't hurt so much in the meantime.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Vogue Shawl Completed!!!!!

OK, the knitting was done a while ago, and the blocking was done about a week ago, but I've finally taken pictures, so now it counts as finished!

Pattern: #02 Beaded Shawl by Karen Joan Raz from Vogue Knitting, Winter 2007/08
Yarn: Rennie 100% pure wool, off of ebay, in gray
Needle size: 4mm
Started: June 30 2008
Completed: September 4 2008

(Thank goodness for ravelry, eh? I'd never have remembered all that, or taken notes)

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Laminaria, a work sort of in progress :)

I'd thouhght I'd write a post about one of my many WIPs. The knitting I'm actually doing just now is secret deadliney stuff, so I can't write about it, but I have one or two other things waiting in the wings. I think it'll only take another 3 or 4 days till I'm finished what I have to do, then I can get onto some creating that I can actually write about!

So, Laminaria. I'm in the middle of the first section so far, and it looks kinda pretty. :)

I'm using a yarn I think I mentioned before. I got 3 skeins of handdyed laceweight off ebay ages ago ridiculously cheap. I seem to remember it being something like £2.99 for all three skeins, but part of me is thinking that can't be right. But I think it is. See, ridiculously cheap!!!! Each skein is approx 900 yards, I remember that. So I should be able to get a good two or three shawls out of it. I already have another one picked out for this yarn: the mystic light shawl by Anna Dalvi. It's a pay for pattern, but I think it'll look really good in this yarn. I'll wait till I've finished Laminaria first.

What I've got done of Laminaria, I've enjoyed. I didn't get to do much of it before other things got in the way, but I'm going back to it as soon as they're done.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Not Feeling Well :(

My allergies are really playing up today. I'm allergic to a few things, I think, but I've never had a proper test. I know I'm allergic to cats, although that's not what's causing it today. I've got hayfever, and I'm probably allergic to dust and who knows what else. It doesn't help that Tupac sheds what seems like half his coat every day. My bf decided to get an air purifier to stop me sniffing so much. It arrived yesterday, and today I feel like death!!! I think it must be moving the dust and stuff around as it ionizes it and makes it fall to the floor, and it's irritating my nose something terrible! I've been sneezing and sniffing all day and I just feel pathetic and ill. Even antihistamines didn't help. So I've been lying around the house just feeling sorry for myself.

Big projects are out of the question today, as is anything that requires thinking. So I made another fan bookmark. My sister liked her bookmark so much she wants more! She gave me a big list of what colours they all had to be and everything. Since I have this pattern memorised, it's fairly easy to get on with even while sniffing. One of them is finished so far.

My other projects can wait for today. My BPT jacket just needs the zip put on now. I got a zip off ebay, but I think it might be too bright a green colour. Maybe I'll have to buy another zip, but that's too much thinking for today.

I've started Laminaria, in a lovely red laceweight yarn I got for a ridiculously low price off eBay ages ago. I'll post about that with pictures later, when I can navigate the whole picture uploady thingy.

I also started the February Lady Sweater, like about everyone else on the planet, it seems like! I'm just at the shoulders, for the second time, because for the life of me I cannot do top-down raglans properly. The first attempt is always the wrong size. I'm getting a bit sick of it to be honest, because you can't tell with top down sweaters if they're wrong till you get past the armholes, and then you have to rip it all back and start again. At least with bottom up sweaters you can tell after an inch or so how it's going to fit, and if you need to make a different size. I'm at the armhole seperating now, and I don't want to attempt it today in case it's the wrong size again, because I'll just cry if it is.

So bookmarks it is. I can make them while lying in bed and drinking hot chocolate and watching red dwarf. All that would be rather good if I wasn't sniffing at the same time, lol!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Belly Dance Birthday

I just realised the other day that I've been dancing for four years, near enough exactly. I can't remember what date I first went to dance class, but I can remember the class, which shows what a huge impact it had on me. It must have been around August or September 2004, and the class was rehearsing for a performance coming up at the beginning of November. They were still learning their routine, so it was fairly easy for the teachers to break the moves down for the beginners (there were a few of us, but only two have lasted from that particular batch of newbies!). We didn't start off with drilling moves, which is what my teacher tries to do with beginners, but I think the hurried learn-a-bellydance-routine-in-a-couple-of-months technique worked for me. I got to see what the moves were actually for - how they ran together and became combinations, and eventually a whole routine. If I'd started with drilling eights and circles like everyone else, I would have got bored, I think.

I remember sneaking a look in the mirror in that first class. I was so self-conscious. I was wearing a skirt, for goodness sake! And dancing, actually moving in front of people! And the teachers (there were two in that class) kept looking at me to see what I was doing!

I expected to see what I'd seen in every photo taken of me (mostly as a teenager, but I was in my early twenties at that point). A gangly, uncoordinated, awkward mess of limbs and long tangled hair. And a big belly (pretty much imagined, I have to admit).

But I didn't see that. I saw myself, dancing. Actually dancing, and the moves didn't look like I was just swinging myself about. My vertical figure 8's looked like vertical figure 8's. Nowhere near as controlled as the teachers, but a proper dancy move nonetheless. That's still my favourite move :)

I'd only tagged along to the class because my boyfriend suggested that I go with his aunt and her friends instead of sitting around being bored all evening. (And he probably had images of sexy belly dancer ladies in his head too. He's male, after all!) But I wanted to go the next week too, to learn more. To make my body move in pretty ways, and actually control how it was moving. This was a revelation for me, that I could control my body's movements.

So I went the next week, and the week after that. And I performed at that hafla in November. Hiding in the corner, but I was dancing on stage with other people looking at me, and I loved it!

I've done a few things I never thought I would. Danced in front of strangers at various places, even been paid for dancing! Someday, I'll have to write about the more memorable performances. I haven't started teaching yet, but it's something I can see myself doing at some point in the future. Me, teaching, telling other people how to do something! It's unbelievable, but I'd like to pass on what I've learned, open up this world to other people.

I still love it. I love that feeling of being on the stage, and having everyone else watch me. Bellydance crowds are very kind and appreciative, which helps! I love to dance to people, I'm even getting eye contact down! Bellydance gives me a way to express myself. I'm very shy, and terrible at talking to people. I stutter, and lose words, and then run out of things to say. But for some reason, I can dance in front of people. And with people, in a group. I can engage with people, actual live people, and they're not so scary when I'm dancing.

My relationship with myself has benefited enormously. I'm a stone (14lbs) heavier than when I started, and I'm constantly losing that stone then putting it back on, but I'm more comfortable in my body, even if it is bigger. I still worry about it, what western woman doesn't?, but I know I can live if I put on a few pounds. Seeing other dancers has really opened up my eyes to the fact that you don't have to be skinny to be good at something, or worth anything. Egyptian dancers especially, it just doesn't seem to be fashionable or desirable for them to be tiny little things. They're women, with women's bodies, and I look at them dancing so beautifully, and I realise I can have a woman's body too, and be a woman. Myself. I am a woman. It's taken me years to get past the fact that I'm not a little girl, and I don't need to struggle to keep a little girl's body. And I don't think I would have managed it without bellydance.

I can't wait to see what the next four years brings for me, in dance and life. I'm so glad I found this art form, that seems to fit me so well, and that I love so much.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Crochet for the Bibliophile

Bookmarks! Lots and lots of bookmarks!

These are from this pattern: fan bookmark by crochetroo. I noticed that my bathroom book didn't have a bookmark in it, I was using old letters to mark my place, and that's just not good enough! I made two gray ones, because I was just getting used to the pattern by the end of the first one. I gave one to my mil, because she had seemed to like it when she saw me making it. Then I made two purple ones. I made one for my mum in purple because that's her favourite colour (I could make her anything in purple and she'd love it. The world's crappiest garter stitch scarf, with dropped stitches and uneven rows - so long as it was in purple, she'd love it!) She suggested I make one for my sister as well. I had to ask her what her favourite colour is (purple!) but I've learnt the pattern now, so it takes me less than an hour to make one. I posted it out to her yesterday. I didn't tell her I was making it for her so it'll be a surprise. I hope she likes it :)
Sidenote: my current bathroom read is A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous. I'll be writing a review of this as soon as I finish cos I have lots to say about it.

After making the gray fan bookmarks, I was getting quite into the whole crochet bookmark thing, so I made this one:

Pattern: fancy filigree bookmark by Cheri Mancini. This one was a bit harder, more fiddly and delicate. I like how mine turned out, but the pattern seems uneven with the picot spacing. I guess it's meant to be like that, because the picture on the pattern is the same, but it's a bit disconcerting to my inner OCDist. If I make another, I'll modify the pattern to space them evenly, I think. This bookmark is currently marking my place in my bedroom book, The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett. It's a really good book, the first discworld one that I've read, and I want to read more.

Next up, the remember the day bookmark by Ferosa Harold. (the link takes you to, you have to register to get the pattern, but it's free, and they don't spam your email account or anything)
This one has bullions in it! My first time doing them. I was totally worried about this all the time while I was making it, because my bullions didn't look right, it didn't look the same as the one in the picture. I kept wondering if I should just rip it out. I kept thinking my yarn choice (mercerised crochet cotton thread) was wrong, and maybe I should have used unmercerised thread. As it happens, I think unmercerised might have been a better choice, but luckily, the bookmark totally came together when I started working the last round! I'm very happy with it, except the back is a little squiggly and uneven, due to my own inexperience with bullions, and the yarn choice. I think unmercerised cotton would have hidden the squiggles more.

I feel like the queen of crochet picots after all these bookmarks! I'm definitely a lot more comfortable with them, and with bullion stitches. What started off as a purely functional project seems to have become all educational all of a sudden!

And finally, something that didn't work out well :(

This is supposed to be the shamrock bookmark, by Michelle Ryan. (that link takes you to a free ravelry download, so you have to be a member of ravelry to access it).
I don't know if I did something wrong or anything, but this is huge! This one repeat is about six inches square, and there's supposed to be a few repeats stacked on top of each other. If I had done the full thing, there's no book in the world large enough for it to be used in! It's my first time trying filet, so it's entirely possible that I messed it up somehow, but I really can't see how. I used a 1.25mm hook and mercerised crochet cotton again, so there doesn't seem to be anything I could have done to make it smaller. So it won't work as a bookmark.
Also, the pattern in the middle doesn't show up as well in real life as it does in a photo. It's a bit undefined in real life. I'm going to see if there's something I can do to salvage it, maybe use it as a motif on a fabric bag or something. It's become a bit of a challenge to myself to save it somehow instead of just ripping it. :) Anyone out there have any other ideas how it can be saved?