Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Free Pattern: Aguamenti Cuffs

I wrote up another pattern, and put it up on ravelry, this time for free :

Aguamenti Mitts

Aguamenti Mitts

Aguamenti Cuffs

You can download the pattern from ravelry directly, or you can use this link: download now

I designed them for the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup, charms class, sept 09. The task was to make something based on Harry's use of the Aguamenti spell. I thought about it, and realised that even though we generally think of water as being cold, when you're in water, and you come out of it, it's always colder outside. So my reasoning was that water could keep you warm, and if you wrapped your arms in it, they'd be warm all day! And the aguamenti cuffs were born!

I took a stitch pattern from Jan Eaton's book, 200 Ripple Stitches, and adapted it quite a bit, to make a ripply, watery textured pair of mitts.

This pattern uses fingering/sock weight yarn, and knits up to a small/medium size (up to 9.5" circumference), but it can easily be made larger by substituting a thicker yarn and/or bigger needles.


Monday, 28 September 2009

Plumes Beret Pattern - Available To Buy

I've been working like a busy little bee over the past few days writing this pattern up, and getting photos etc, but here it is :)

Plumes Beret
Plumes Beret
Plumes Beret
Plumes Beret
Plumes Beret
Plumes Beret

It's the Plumes Beret, available for £2.50 from ravelry. Or you can use this link to purchase the pattern

It's a slouchy beret, written for small and medium sizes (20" & 22"). It uses Sirdar Country Style DK, or you can substitute any other DK yarn that gets you 24sts to 4". The lace pattern is both written and charted, and easy to follow.

I think the beret is great for transitional seasons like spring or autumn. It's very slouchy, and quite cute, if I do say so myself!


Sunday, 20 September 2009

Winning Prizes!!

The good thing about not blogging properly for a couple of months is that when you get back to it, there's so much to write about ;) This post is a bit image-heavy, but I couldn't pick the best one or two to show, so I just put them all up ;)

Recently, we had the local town "flower show", where people enter their flowers (obviously), handcrafts, baking and photos. Last year, my bf's mother, aka the MIL for short even though it's not technically correct, but never mind, went to look at the entries, and saw that they had this years handcrafts section list. So she got me a copy in case I'd be interested in putting something in. Well, at the beginning I wasn't so much (it seems like a very "old person" kind of thing to do, even more than knitting itself!), but then I saw they had a toilet roll cover section, and I had seen the perfect pattern on Ravelry (insert mischievous grin here!)

Bender, Guardian of The Bum Fodder!
Bender, Guardian of The Bum Fodder!
Bender, Guardian of The Bum Fodder!
Bender, Guardian of The Bum Fodder!

Bender, Guardian of the Bum Fodder!!

The pattern is by Elizabeth Jarvis, available here for free on Ravelry. And it is teh awesome!!!! It's very well written, easy to follow, and makes a fab Bender from Futurama toilet roll cover. What more could any household require????

I had to make it and put it in. I just had to! I had visions of rows of crinoline ladies, barbies with flouncy dresses on top of toilet rolls, and I couldn't resist putting a Bender cover in there. I know, I'm thoroughly evil and naughty!

But he won first prize!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Some of the ladies running the event didn't know what it was, he even got called a monster, but I thought it was awesome when an older lady told me she loved the Bender cover and started talking to me about Futurama. Talk about blowing stereotypes out the water, I loved that.

Hello Kitty Witch - Prize Winner!

I also entered a Hello Kitty amigurumi I made a while ago, in the soft toy section, and she won third prize!!!

Prize-winning Buddies!

Prize-winning Buddies!!

The Hello Kitty pattern is by Armina Parnagian and is another free pattern from Ravelry, available here. It's another really cool pattern, very cute!

I was so chuffed when I went in an saw that they had both won a prize. The prize is little more than bits of paper with "First Prize" and "Third Prize" on them, but it's the fact that they won that I'm pleased with. I didn't enter them to win a huge monetary award or nothing! (OK, so I entered them to beat the crinoline ladies, which isn't exactly the nicest reason, and I'm sure I lost major karma points for that reason, which I feel kind of guilty about. Must go do something nice to make up for it)

Anyway, I just thought I'd post here and brag. I have next years list of handcraft sections, and I already have a few things lined up. But next time I'll be entering just for the competition. Even though it's seen as a bit of an "old lady" event, it was kind of fun. There was a really nice atmosphere, and it was nice to see other people's creative endeavours too. There were some fab soft toys and quilted pieces!!!! And there was only one crinoline lady ;)

Saturday, 19 September 2009

A New Interest - Gardening

Over the summer, I've discovered that if I plant things from seeds, they grow!

OK, not really news, but it comes as a bit of a suprise to me that I can actually grow stuff, and the soil doesn't become barren and un-life-sustaining at my mere touch. In the past when I've had plants, they died. Unfortunately, without exception.

My landlord is quite knowledgeable about gardening, and is very encouraging about us taking an interest in the garden ;) Last year, he gave us some Lupin plants that he had grown from seeds from his own garden, and I stuck them in the garden, sure that even this short contact with me would kill them.

It didn't ;)

Towards the end of the summer, the lovely flowers all went away, but there were a lot of seed pods. (this was the first time I'd actually noticed a seed pod on a plant, now I'm seeing them everywhere) So for a laugh, I decided to experiment and see if I put the seeds into some soil, would they grow?

One did:

Only One Lupin

All the other pots in that picture had the seeds in them too, but they hadn't come up yet, so I got fed up and chucked the soil into the garden. Maybe they'll grow out there.

But this experiment got me quite interested in the whole seed planting thing. I've now filled up all my window sill space with plant pots. Mostly containing herbs like rocket, dill, basil, thyme and mint, but I planted some wallflowers as well, from seed pods from the wallflowers in my garden. Those are coming along great!


The herbs are growing really well too. I've planted 4 pots of rocket, cos I love the taste, and I've been using that in various dishes. I've used some of my basil too, in a meatloaf I made the other day (yes, I've been cooking too. Not worthy of a blog post yet, but me! Cooking!!) I haven't used any of the mint yet, but I think I'd like to experiment with that and try making some mint tea or something.

This new interest is very strange for me. I've always been so not interested in plants. I could point out "that's a rose bush" and "that plant is red/blue/yellow" or whatever, but that was it! And I wasn't interested in knowing any more than that. Now I keep asking my bf's mum what plants are as we pass them, and I even took some seed pods off a laburnum tree that I was walking past in the street, and planted them. They're growing too!

It's really quite amazing when I think about it, that I can take a little tiny thing like a seed, stick it in some dirt, put it on the windowsill and give it some water every couple of days, and it'll grow into an actual plant!!

This experiment hasn't even cost me much either. I got a lot of plant pots from people I know, and got some other cheap ones from the shop. I use ice cream tubs as saucers for under the plant pots that don't have actual proper saucers. The compost cost less than £5, and I got most of the herb seeds from the pound shop, where it's £1 for a pack of 6 different types of seeds.

I don't think I'll be getting overly obsessed with gardening like my other hobbies, but it's interesting for the moment, and I'm learning a lot about nature, something I hadn't really paid much attention to before. I seem to be getting all domesticated in my old age!!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Odd Socks

These are the latest things to come from the big box of boucle :) A pair of odd-ish socks, that will drive the bf mad since he likes everything to match exactly. Not quite to an OCD level, but close enough that these will drive him nuts every time I put them on. Insert evil grin here ;)

I made a plain yellow sock from some acrylic DK from the box, but went a bit mad and made the cuff 8 inches long, which meant that I didn't have enough left to make another sock the same size. I weighed the yarn and everything to make sure, but I think I would only have enough left for a cuff, and I didn't want to knit that much and then have to rip out again. Luckily, there was some baby green/blue yarn in the box that was the same weight, and there was enough of that for a full sock.

Making two completely different coloured socks would just drive the bf into full blown loony land, and I figured it was a bit too much for me too, even though according to an 8 year old boy I know, odd socks are super-fashionable ;) But I figured I could make a half of each sock yellow and the other half green/blue and they would match. But by the time I figured this out, I was kind of sold on the idea of different coloured socks (again, evil grin), so then I came up with the idea of different halves of the socks being those colours.

I snipped the yellow sock just above the cuff (kind of wish I'd got a photo of the plain yellow sock now), picked up stitches from the cuff, and knit another foot in the green/blue. Then I picked up the stitches from the top of the yellow foot, and am now knitting up in 2x2 rib for the cuff. I'm going to do a sewn bind-off a la Elizabeth Zimmerman (from "knitting without tears" book) so that the tops of each sock will look the same. Even though one is a cast on and one will be a bind off, they'll match :)

I was a bit weirded out by these socks at first when knitting the green/blue foot. I thought they were going to be too strange even for me. But now that I'm further up the green/blue cuffs, I think they're going to look pretty funky when they're finished. I'll still have a little of each yarn left, but I already have plans for it. The ugly yarn stash is decreasing steadily!!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The Big Box of Boucle

Back to knitting!

Most of my yarn is organized (hah!) on a couple of bookshelves in the spare room, where I can see it, and it's all nice and lovely. However, I have this box at the bottom of the shelves, which I have been up till now trying to ignore.

This is all yarn that I bought around 2004/2005 when I restarted knitting. I had no yarn in my house, so I apparently bought any I could find! I bought any random yarn from charity shops, just to have something to knit with (this was before I knew about all the yarn stores near me, and wasn't sure if you could even buy such a thing as nice yarn in Scotland! :D I've since found out, of course, that you most definitely can!!!)

It's mostly boucle, all in pale pastel baby colours. It's been sitting in that box for years now, since I organized all my yarn and couldn't think of a section to put this into, and just threw it into the box and threw the box in the corner :)

But recently, without even a conscious effort, I've been using it! In fact, that is the box now, after another tidy up, untangling of a huge mess of yarn ends, and with some of the yarn gone. Seriously, I couldn't even close the box before! It was bad. Very bad. Run away and hide in the cupboard bad.

But like I said, I must have gone through an unconscious clearing up phase in my head. I was a bit stuck for things to knit. The summer seriously knocked my knitting mojo, and I haven't been interested in it for a while. Or I'd start a project, get a bit through it, and then put it aside, not wanting to to look at it again.

So the first thing I did was to untangle the ends. The mess was in a big chunk the diameter of which was the size of both my hands laid out flat beside each other. It didn't actually take that long to sort out though. I thought I'd just have to cut the ends and throw the chunk away, but it all came untangled in less than an hour. Then I looked at the box.

I was sick of this yarn. I still am, a bit. It's really annoying to me to have yarn with no idea of what it could be used for. Even if it's a vague knitting fantasy dream to be done some time in the far off future, that's still a plan for the yarn, to me. So I picked up a ball, looked at it, and thought, what could possibly be done with this? A scarf? I might not wear it, though. The colours are so not me.

But, I was bored. The bf was playing a video game, and I couldn't think of anything to watch, play, read or anything. So I cast on some stitches, and started knitting a moss stitch rectangle.

It didn't turn out long enough for a scarf, but it was long enough to sew both ends together and make a cowl!!

Warm Cowl

And I actually like it! It's warm, and the colours look fab with my black winter coat. I used it as my project for the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup, Potions class (something warm to represent the pepper-up potion).

I then went to task with some mustard coloured acrylic that looks like it came straight from the 70s. Heck, it may well have!!

Long Skinny Thick Ribbed Scarf
Long Skinny Thick Ribbed Scarf

I cast on 30 sts, and knit in 2x2 rib for as long as the yarn lasted. I figured at least I'd be doing something with it. If I didn't like it, well, Christmas is coming up. Or there are plenty charity shops around to donate it to. But I like it! Another thing that will look fab with my black winter coat. And it's super warm, being made out of chunky weight yarn.

It's really surprising to me how these "ugly" yarns turned into something not really that bad. I was all set for throwing them into a charity shop bag, and now I have two scarfs that I will actually wear this winter. Amazing! I've also picked out a pale baby yellow acrylic DK from the box, and have cast on for a pair of 2x2 rib socks on large needles (3mm, large for socks!) It's going fast, and it looks like they'll be a nice warm, thick pair of socks for winter. I'm not sure about the colour, but I'm ignoring that just now. I just need something easy and fast to knit, and like I said, Christmas is coming up (I'm getting a weekly count down from the MIL, lol!)

Now I just need to think of what else to use all those other balls of yarn for!!!

Question - Should I Post A Video?

OK, I have a video of me dancing my drum solo. It's not at the local hafla that I helped organise, but it's from another hafla a week later. It's not professional quality or anything, it's just my camera stuck on a table at the front of the seating area, and I wander out of shot a couple of time. And I am by no means a professional type dancer. I think I did well, but I'm not one of the Bellydance Superstars just yet!

Should I post it?????

I'm a bit scared, cos it's like, putting myself out there. But it'd be interesting, I suppose, to show y'all that I do actually dance :D

Maybe I should put it up for a short time, just to show people, then take it down again later? I don't know.

Also, for people who've uploaded vids to youtube, can you disable comments on that site? I've stopped reading comments over there, because no matter what video I watch, there are people at the bottom saying "you suck!" Seriously, I don't scroll down past the video part at the top any more. I hate Youtube commenters, hiding behind "anonymity" to be cruel and nasty to people. Or is there anywhere with less traffic that people would recommend posting a video to? Thanks :)

Saturday, 12 September 2009

How The Hafla Went

It's been ages since the hafla, and I'm only just getting around to writing about it! I'm sorry for the delay, but my mind has really been a bit scattered the past few weeks. I've been doing hardly any knitting until very recently, I haven't even been queueing patterns on Ravelry!!! (I'll have to get back to that soon, lol) I think I'm starting to get back to normal now, so I'm updating everything, including this blog :)

The hafla went really well! It was a really good night, with lots of fab dancing. No hiccups of any kind, everything went totally smoothly, and it seems everyone had a good time. Yay!!!

We got to the hall a couple of hours early to set up. I had thought we wouldn't need the time, but we did! A couple of friends very graciously offered to help decorate the hall, and it wouldn't have been half as lovely without those ladies helping. I've been thanking them over and over every time I see them because they did such a great job, and were total life-savers! Here's a shot of how the hall was decorated:

They put up veils and saris and hip belts on the walls of the hall, and it really made the place feel cozy and inviting.

I took the job of checking and selling tickets, which was very social for me! I had to rope another friend into selling raffle tickets though, because it was all getting a bit confusing. It was good to have someone there to talk to during quiet bits when no-one was coming in :)

I had made up the running order of dancers pretty much at random, then tweaked it a bit to make sure solos weren't next to any group performances the dancer might be in to give them time to change. Surprisingly, it all ran very well together. The music flowed well from one track to another, and there was a good mix of dance styles.

We had people doing sword dances (one with my tribal teacher doing double swords!!), bollywood, Tribal Style fans, Celtic fusion, and of course straight-forward bellydance. We started off with a follow along to get things going, had one before the break to encourage people to get up and dance, and another one at the end.

And I did my very first drum solo!

I was shaking before I went on, I don't know if I've ever been so nervous! but it went very well, I got lots of lovely compliments (I'm such an attention whore lol). I did forget a bit right at the beginning, and was just panicing in my head thinking "Oh my God, I'm going to have to improvise this whole drum solo!" Thankfully the music I'd chosen (Groove Sanctuary by Hossam Ramzy) has lots of clearly defined sections, so the next one came up, and I knew where I was. Phew!

The part that I was stressing most about the night was the socialising. I am by no means a social butterfly, and get very nervous having to talk to people. But I made an effort to go round and talk to everyone, and that part went quite well too. I must be coming out of my shell a little, lol! It's only taken 30 years!

All in all, it went very, very well. There was a lot of help from people around us, of course, which made it all go very smoothly. These people were invaluable, and so much help!! **bowing down at their awesomeness** And we raised £400 for charity! I totally want to have another one now, but we'll wait till next year, I think!