Monday, 23 March 2009

Spring Stroll Sock Pattern Available For Sale!

I've designed these socks, and put them up for sale on ravelry. You can buy them here for £2, if you're a member of the ravelry site. If you're not, you can email me at the address in the top right corner (the contact me box), and we can work out another way to purchase the pattern.

I designed these socks with spring in mind. Bare branches, gently bending down, waiting to be covered in a new growth of leaves. They're knit cuff-down, and the cables should be easy enough for someone who is new to cabling to be able to follow, and understand how the stitch crossing is working. I wrote the cable pattern out in words, and charted it too. I used Opal Uni 4 ply, in shade 1418 (green), but any other fingering weight yarn can be substituted. The pattern is written in one size, but instructions are given on how to customize the fit.

I'm totally excited about these socks. It's my third design to be put "out there". I hope you all like them :)

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Software Hitlist

What is the software I can't live without? I saw this list on Crochetzu's website, and being the geek I am, was totally intrigued. I even followed all the links back through knitwith homespun and needlesandvectors to see what other people thought. Computers are such a large part of my life, but I kind of take the software for granted. Until I need to reinstall windows that is, then everything resets and I have to think of what programs I need to reinstall. I actually have a folder backed up on cd with various install files, purely for that purpose (yes, I'm that much of a geek!). And all my install disks are in a box together in my spare room, waiting for that moment when windows will crash and die (because it always does). Here's some of the stuff on those cds and in that box:

Office professional
Photoshop (I've only learnt to work it recently, and already I can't live without it!)
Flickr uploader
Itunes (I need my podcasts!!)
Zonealarm (it's amazing how many programs try to sneakily connect to the internet, and I love that this program can stop them!)
VLC media player (much better than windows media player!)
Nero cd burning package
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Winrar (it's the one I prefer out of all the zip/conpressed files extraction programs)

Then there's all the drivers that I have to keep backed up. There's a lot more programs that would get reinstalled, but this list is all of the priority ones!

What are your can't-live-without programs?

Weird And Wonderful Gloves

In the last month, I've made a couple of sweaters. One crocheted, the Icelandic Turtleneck Pullover from the Crochet Me book, and one knitted, Tubey from (I still haven't got FO pics yet. Bad, bad yarndancer!) Oh, and the Back To School U Neck Vest from Fitted Knits, which I did for Vestuary, and have actually managed to blog about already. I wanted to keep going, and make more garments, but I think all that productivity wore me out a little, and I just couldn't decide on what to make. There were a few days where I just sat on ravelry and looked through patterns, unable to make a decision. It ended up I wasn't knitting anything at all, just looking at patterns. I guess I was kind of burned out. I want to do more colourwork as well, but I really don't need gloves or hats at the moment (the weather's actually been quite nice and spring-like here), and I don't feel like committing to a full colourwork sweater just yet. Come to think of it, does anyone out there have any ideas for stranded colourwork patterns that aren't hats or gloves? I may need to go browse ravelry for that too, lol!

Anyway, I got my knitting mojo back when I saw the "#06 Gauntlets of Regret" pattern by Shiri Mor, while browsing ravelery. Sure, it's gloves, but they're pretty, funky gloves, not big functional ones. :) So I made two pairs:

Sparkly Gauntlets of No Regrets
Black Gauntlets of No Regrets

I made the sparkly ones first. They're made from a black yarn which has a pink lurex thread plied around it. I like my sparkly yarn!! Then I thought I would make some plain black ones like the original pattern.

They knit up quite quickly, and by the 2nd pair, I had the pattern pretty much memorised. It's easy to change the pattern to account for gauge issues - I cast on the 2nd size number of stitches for the finger cuff, but kept going on in pattern till I had the very largest number of stitches for the wrist cuff as I think my row gauge must have been different. Either that or I have wonky sized hands!!

Then, while I was at the Princess Farhana workshops, I saw a dancer who was wearing long armwarmers which were bright orange. Being the knitting geek I am, I surreptitiously checked them out, and they weren't just straight stocking stitch like I thought they were at first, they actually had rows of ribbing at various points to hold them up. Well, I wanted them! So I got home, looked in my stash and found some bright orange acrylic. But I guess I'm still a little dubious about wearing colours that are too bright, so I decided to make the rib stripes a different colour, navy. I think it turned out good!

FO Armwarmers You Can See From Space
FO Armwarmers You Can See From Space

Yes, the orange actually is that bright!!

I used worsted weight acrylic on 4.5mm needles. The original ones were made of quite thin yarn, probably fingering weight, and were definitely machine made, so mine turned out quite different, but I think I prefer mine! No generic shop bought armwarmers for me! :)

They're pretty easy to figure out how to make them from the pictures, but I'll be writing up a pattern anyway. Who knows, maybe someone else out there wants armwarmers that can blind people!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Princess Farhana in Glasgow

I am such a bad bad blogger!!! It's been ages since I wrote here, and now I have like, 3 posts I want to write all at once. So if there's a rush of activity here over the next few days, it's because I got lazy, and now I have to catch up.

Princess Farhana Glasgow Fan Dance

I'll write first about bellydance workshops I went to over the weekend. Princess Farhana was performing on the Friday night, then she was doing workshops over the Saturday and Sunday. Because I stay a bit away from Glasgow, it involved staying overnight, so I went down on the Friday with some friends, and we stayed and did the Saturday workshops. Unfortunately, it would have cost too much to stay over on Saturday night and do the Sunday workshops too, so we came back on Saturday night.

I first heard about Princess Farhana on an interview she did on the podcast Shimmycast. She was very entertaining, and sounded really interesting, so I googled and youtubed her. (Her site is here, by the way). I thought she was amazing! She's a great dancer with tons of attitude. That was early last year sometime, I think. Then a couple of months ago I heard about these workshops, and just had to go to some, even if I couldn't make it to all.

The performance on Friday night was fantastic!!!! There were other local dancers on before her, who were also very good BTW, and she came on at the end of the 2nd and 3rd sets. The first dances she did, at the end of the 2nd set, were straight cabaret bellydances. She was so pretty, and such a wonderful dancer. I wish I could adequately tell you all how great she was. It totally made me look forward to the workshops the next day.

Then at the end of the 3rd set, she came on and did a fan dance. I managed to get some nice shots of this (I mastered the manual setting on my camera that night too, changed the f numbers and shutter speeds and everything, but that's a whole blog post in itself!). This was wonderful. She was so playful and cheeky, and has such a lovely smile, she really drew you into the dance. Just typing this, my memory has kicked in, and I wish I was there watching her all over again!

Princess Farhana Glasgow Fan Dance

Princess Farhana Glasgow Fan Dance

I did all 3 workshops on the Saturday. The first one was "Extreme Taqsim", where she went over various moves like flutters, we did lots of shimmy drills and went over pretty hand movements. The 2nd one was "Rockin’ Raqs Sharqi combinations
Hollywood style" where we did combos, surprisingly enough. What I really liked about Princess Farhana's workshops was the fact that we drilled each movement and combo until we all had it, and then drilled it some more. That approach really helped the movements stay in my brain and muscles, and even when I went home that night and showed my friends what we had been doing, I could remember it all. I took notes anyway on the combos, but the repetition was really helpful in getting me to understand and remember them. I've been to other workshops where they just sort of rush through the teaching, one move onto another, and I only remember one or two things from them. I remember everything from Princess Farhana's workshops.

Princess Farhana Glasgow Fan Dance

Princess Farhana Glasgow Fan Dance

The 3rd workshop was about stage make up, and how to apply false eyelashes effectively. My make up skills are non-existant, so this was really helpful. She gave lots of good tips to us all. She made up one person, while we were supposed to follow along on our own face, but I was having trouble paying attention and doing it at the same time, so eventually I just stopped doing my own face, and watched her make up the other person. I figured I would learn more that way, and I can always practice taking more time at home. Better to watch her while I had her there in front of me! :)

I really, really enjoyed these workshops (can you tell?!) I learned so many new things, and she taught it very well. Her style of teaching is friendly, she's very approachable and just generally lovely and amazing. I hope she comes back to Scotland soon, I'll definitely be back!

Princess Farhana Glasgow Fan Dance

Princess Farhana Glasgow Fan Dance

Monday, 9 March 2009


I just finished making a small scarf/neckwarmer, so I figured this would also be a good time to blog about a couple of other scarves I made in February, and never got around to writing about.

I'll start with my latest scarf.

Alpine Frost Scarflet

The pattern is the Alpine Frost Scarf, by Amy O'Neill Houck from the Interweave Crochet magazine, winter 2008. I used some unknown lilac cotton yarn that I got from a charity shop ages ago. I had two balls of it, and was going to make a longer scarf, but my mum's birthday was coming up, and I was trying to think of what I could get her while I was making it. Then I remembered she likes purple. Then I looked down, and thought that it would be perfect for her. I decided to split the two balls, as it were, and make two small, separate scarves. It's spring anyway, and it's getting too warm to wear a huge long scarf. One ball of the cotton made a 30" scarf, which, when I held it up to my neck, looked like it would be quite cute with a brooch or pin. So I made the two of them (it worked up super fast, and the cotton was lovely and cool to work with, it felt very soft and smooth!) and went in search of a brooch. Apparently, however, they've become totally unfashionable sometime in the recent past, at least according to most of the shops I went in, which didn't stock any!!! What's that all about? Mum buys them all the time, and wears them, yet I couldn't find any. As a last resort I went into Debenhams, and browsed the jewellery dept. Luckily, they had some. I got the butterfly brooch in the picture for myself, and I got her a purple one shaped like a fan.

My gauge was totally different for this project, because the yarn I was using was fingering weight, nearly dk, instead of laceweight, so I chained less stitches at the beginning, so I had 39 instead of 57 or whatever it is you need to start (I can't quite remember just now). That, and making it shorter was the only mods I made.

In February, I made two scarves. The first one I made was another version of the Luna Lovegood scarf, this time in a bronzey colour. It actually looked gold in the ball, but it's better that it worked up bronze - that's one of the Ravenclaw colours!

Bronze Luna Lovegood Scarf

I love this scarf pattern! I've made two now, the bronze one and one in silvery grey, and I have a yarn in my stash that I'm thinking would be nice in this pattern too. The Luna Lovegood scarves are the ones I seem to be wearing the most just now. It's a perfect length for wrapping around my neck once then tying in a knot, and it hangs down to my waist. You wouldn't think it would be warm because it's so open, but it's great!

The 2nd scarf was this one:

cabled scarf
cabled scarf2

The pattern is cable scarf 1 by Dagmara (rav link). Again, my yarn was heavier than that used in the pattern, so I had to halve the stitch count in the pattern. It wasn't too hard to modify though, once I'd read the pattern through and figured out what was going on. I had three balls of mohair yarn that I got off ebay specially for this project (I saw it come up in my friend activity on ravelry, and couldn't get it out of my head). I just knit the pattern till the balls were used up, and this was all the yarn that was left over:

All The Yarn That Was Left

I really like this scarf. The yarn softened up after a wash with some conditioner, and it's very organic and fluffy. Very warm too!!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

February Review

February was another productive knitting month :)

I started the Shetland Shorty shrug at the end of January, and finished it at the beginning of February.
My only project for my Year of Colour was the Sheep and Wool hat, which I haven't got any pics of yet :( Actually, writing this has reminded me, so I'll try to do it soon.
Then I heard about the Vest-uary KAL on the Stash and Burn podcast, so I finally made the Back To School U Neck Vest, which I'd been meaning to for ages, so I'm pleased about that.
I made another Luna Lovegood scarf, which I actually haven't blogged about yet.
Then I made a mohair cabled scarf, which I haven't blogged about yet either. :/
And I finished my Icelandic Turtleneck sweater on the 28th, with both armwarmers. Another thing I need to get pics of.

I need to do more colour knitting, I think. I think with the weather getting warmer through February, I've been less inclined to knit hats and gloves and things like that, and I've been set on knitting garments.

And I need to get more pics of my knitting, and blog about it more regularly. I've been too obsessed with my camera, and Flickr, recently. Ha, that sounds odd. Too obsessed with my camera to take pics of my knitting! :D I'm getting better with my camera though, I understand some of the more technical aspects of photography now,, and I've been having lots of fun experimenting.

I also performed at a hafla with my Isis Wings - no vids unfortunately, but other people took some photos, so I may post some of them soon :)

Hmm, from reading over this post, although I did a lot, I still have a lot to do!

Monday, 2 March 2009


I heard about Vest-uary on the Stash and Burn podcast. It's basically a knitalong to make vests in the month of February :) Not much more needs to be said than that!

Of course, I needed yet another thing to join :) so I signed up on the ravelry board. I made the Back To School U Neck Vest by Stephanie Japel from Fitted Knits.

This pattern has been in my queue since I got the book, about a year ago now! I've had the yarn I want to use for it as well in my stash for ages, but just never got round to making it. So, listening to Nicole and Jenny talk about vests and Vest-uary, I realised I could use this as an impetus to actually make it.

It's Grousemoor Aran yarn. I bought a 400g ball off ebay months ago, and it's just been sitting in my stash waiting to be made into this vest :( Poor yarn! But now it's done, and I'm very pleased with how it came out.

Back-to-School U-Neck Vest
Back-to-School U-Neck Vest
Back-to-School U-Neck Vest

I love the colours of the yarn! I didn't even notice that there was some purple in there till I started knitting it! :D

I really liked participating in Vest-uary. It's given me a new appreciation of vests, and my immediate queue is now full of vests and camis. I'm looking forward to next February when the next one is!