Tuesday, 30 March 2010


A couple of weeks ago (on the 14th of March) I went to the Scottish Bead Fair in Perth.

This was the first time I'd been to anything like this, and it was a bit overwhelming at first. The room wasn't particularly huge, but it was full of beads! There were quite a few exhibitors, and when I walked through the door, it seemed like there was sparkles everywhere!

I went to the bead fair looking for some beads to do some lace knitting with. I want to make the Bandana pattern by Kalinumba (ravelry page), and I've actually had the pattern for ages, but it requires beads. I really don't know anything about beads or beading, so I felt a little uncomfortable buying off the internet. I knew I would end up with the wrong thing, and needing to buy more, then I would have all these beads sitting about. So when I heard about the bead fair, I figured that was the perfect time to go and look at beads in person, to buy something that would work for the pattern.

Like I said, I was totally overwhelmed when I first walked in. Sparkles and bead everywhere! I walked past the first few booths just in a daze. Luckily I'm self-aware enough to realise this though, and managed to stop myself grabbing the first sparkly stuff that I saw and buying it! Bellydance souks (marketplaces) have taught me some lessons at least! :D

So I walked round a few booths, just taking it all in, then I saw some black glass beads that would work for the Bandana pattern. So I bought them (the ones on the string in the pic below), then at the next booth, I saw some that would work even better. So after thinking about it, I bought them too (the ones in the tubes, and loose), to use for the Bandana pattern, and I'll use the other beads for another project, yet to be determined.

Black Beads
Black Beads

Then I walked around the rest of the stalls for about an hour and a half, and bought more beads :D Some of them, I bought just because they were pretty, such as these hematite beads.

Hematite Beads

I love hematite. It's possibly my favourite stone/crystal/thing. I have no clue what I'll do with these, but for now, I like to just touch and look at them. I like how hematite feels cold to the touch, and so shiny :)

I bought some random charms and pendants. The pendants are going to go on some circular memory wire necklaces in the next couple of days (already ordered them off ebay)

Charms and Pendants

And some random shiny metal things:

Pretty Metal Things

I think I might put this one on a bag or something:


This one on a tribal costume item of some sort:


and the heart on a necklace (I don't have a seperate photo of that)

While I was taking photos of all these beads, I took some other photos of other beads I have:

Butterflies and Leaves
Butterflies and Leaves

I seem to like black beads :D

Don't worry, I'm not about to take up beading instead of fibre crafts. Beads are pretty and sparkly, and I love all that, but beading itself is far too fiddly for me. I just don't have the patience. I kind of wish I did though, after going to the bead fair and seeing all those fabulous beads. I think knitting requires a whole different sort of patience. Beading requires a whole lot more concentration and stillness to get the fine motor control, I think. Maybe I can just collect beads for the prettiness though ;)

On a side note though, I was thinking if I get so overwhelmed at a bead fair when I'm not so interested in beads, how on earth would I cope at a yarn event, like Stitches or Rhinebeck? I think it's good that I'm on a whole different continent from those events. But I was planning to go to the UK Knit Camp in August... I think I'd better start saving money now.... :D

Monday, 29 March 2010

Monogamously Mariah

I've been working non-stop and exclusively on my Mariah sweater (pattern from knitty.com here) for the past couple of weeks. It's been 13 days and I'm on the hood now, I reckon the knittiing will be finished in a couple of days. I'll still need to find a zip and sew the seams, but that shouldn't take too long. I'm very excited about the sweater nearly being done, and I want to wear it now!

I've made a couple of mods with this version. The last time I made this sweater, I just followed the pattern straight, and I hardly paid any attention to what was actually happening, it seems. I couldn't even remember how the yoke was put together. You knit the pieces on straight needles up to the armholes, then you join them all and work raglan shaping. I think when I made it last, I didn't even know what raglan shaping was. I just did what the pattern told me. It turned out great, but it's so different to use a pattern and actually to understand what's going on.

The first mod I made was in the raglan shaping, and it was actually unintentional. Instead of decreasing, knitting the 2 stitches either side of the stitch marker, then decreasing again, I just decreased either side of the marker, without the knit stitches in between. There was a decrease right at the edge, at the beginning of the shaping, to remove the selvedge stitches, and I just continued decreasing at that point, without going on to read the next bit of the pattern correctly. It looks fine though. I didn't actually notice till I was about 10 rows into the shaping, and there was no way I was ripping back all of those yoke stitches!


Oh, actually I'd made a change in the arm patterning before that. You're supposed to increase in the rib pattern, adding cables when you have enough stitches, but I just increased in stockinette. It just looked tidier, and I couldn't be bothered fiddling about adding in all those extra cables ;)


I changed the top of the sleeve too. When you finish the main cable pattern, you're supposed to work up to the neck in the cable rib pattern, but again, I just went straight into stockinette for the tidiness, and the ease of working decreases into it.

Top Of Sleeve Modification

Also, I was working the medium size, but then I continued decreasing in the yoke until I had the right number of stitches for the small size. One thing I had noticed with my original sweater was that it sat kind of low down on the shoulders, so I wanted a little extra fabric to bring it closer to the neck. It makes it a little more snug around the neck too, so it won't be slipping down all the time.

Normally I wouldn't make all these mods, I would just follow the pattern even if I wanted to change something, because I would think the pattern must be right, it must be me that is wrong. Maybe it's because I've made this pattern before, or maybe I'm getting a bit more confident with my knitting. I think it's probably a bit of both, but it's quite liberating thinking "oh, I'll just change that" and going straight ahead and doing it. It definitely helps that I now know a lot more about sweater construction anyway. Who knows, maybe I'll become one of those knitters who can just look at a pattern and hugely modify it straight off! I've often been jealous when people say stuff like "I liked the cable pattern, so I just put it into this sweater, and tweaked the numbers, and added some shaping as well." Actually, come to think of it, shaping is something that scares me a little. I didn't add any into this sweater. I don't quite get the 3d-ness of it all. Maybe I'll have to try adding that into something soon, to get over that :) I'll be a fearless knitter eventually, lol!!

(some pretty cable pictures!)

Sunday, 21 March 2010


Belly dance post this time! It feels like ages since I've written one of these, and now I have about 3 of them to write and post! :)

A couple of weeks ago I performed my very first improvised dance. I danced to "Zapphire of Love" by Hossam Ramzy, and basically the only bit where I planned what I was going to do was the very beginning where I used a veil. Even that ended up changing somewhat on the night though! In the past, I've made up choreographies, or planned out much more than that at least. I've improvised a little with Isis Wings, but really, they're pretty easy to improvise with, and very easy to hide behind. In this dance, it was just me (after I'd chucked the veil away after the first section!)

I was pretty terrified before I went on. I'd been practicing dancing to the song, just improvising, but to be honest, that practice hadn't gone well. I'd usually stopped halfway through the song, dejected at how little moves I seemed to know. But I made myself go on to the floor, telling myself it'd be easier when I got the adrenaline from actually performing.

And it was! There were a few times where it felt like I was repeating what I'd done 10 seconds before, but no real times where I ran out of moves. And it was easier to fill up the time with audience interaction (I can't really pretend doing it to empty chairs, I need the actual people there to interact with).

I actually enjoyed just dancing to the music, instead of trying to remember a choreography and then panicking when it disappears from my head. It was kind of interesting to see what moves just "came out".

I'd gone to a workshop a while ago (with Lorna Gow), where she had given tips for improvising to Egyptian music. One of the tips she gave was to seperate the music into different emotional sections, and she gave examples of how to do that. That advice was really helpful when preparing for the performance. At first during my practice, I was totally overwhelmed by the music, trying to fit moves to every bit of the music, but remembering her workshop, I calmed down a bit and just tried to feel the "emotion" of the music. That worked much better, and I think it made for a better dance. I know that when I choreograph, I have a tendancy to try to hit every single accent, which can be a bit frantic in a Hossam Ramzy piece :D I don't know if I'd have had the confidence to improvise to this piece of music if it wasn't for that workshop. Actually, one of the other bellydance posts I have to write is about another Lorna workshop! She's so fabulous!!

I'm dancing (improvising) again to the same piece of music in a few weeks at another hafla, so it'll be interesting to see how it turns out that time. I think some of the moves will end up being the same, but the audience layout is completely different at this venue, so I'll have to change what I'm doing just on the basis of that, as well as because it's not rehearsed. There is a video of this last performance, but I won't be able to get it for another few weeks, so you'll have to wait to see it, I'm afraid... ;)

Sunday, 14 March 2010


There's something very soothing about making the same pattern over and over, especially if it's something small that can be completed in a couple of hours. Then by the end of the day you've got three or four of the items. It makes you feel very productive!

There were the ruffley flowers that I wrote about last time, and I also discovered this other flower pattern: Spiral Flower Headband / Earwarmer by Shana Galbraith. I love this flower! I really like the spiralling effect of the petals. So I made 3 ;)

Spiral Flowers

Spiral Flowers

Spiral Flowers

Spiral Flowers

I think I like the orange one best, even though the purple one photographs best - I seem to be in an orange mood right now, which is strange since the colour isn't actually that flattering on me unless it's a very bright orange. Which this larger flower is, thankfully. ;)

I wanted to try the flower pattern in different colours to see what it looked like, and also because by the time the first flower was done, I felt like I was only just getting the hang of the pattern. I don't know what I'll use them for, maybe more tribal costuming. I'm still undecided on whether to make the headband as in the pattern, or to make a belt.

I also made this cute little bow!!

Pretty Bow!

Actually, I made 2 of them in red, and I'm going to make many more in different colours!

I love it! It's so cute! I've been wandering around holding it up to everyone's head and giggling about how cute they look. (the bf looked surprisingly adorable, even with a grumpy, get-that-thing-away-from-me expression) In fact, I think I may have to photoshop a pic of Tupac with this bow on, Hello Kitty style ;D Stay tuned for that!

Oh, in all my raving, I almost forgot to say what pattern it is! It's the "Headband with Bow" pattern by creativeyarn . That one's a free download. It's actually super easy, and very quick to make. I used some random cotton from the stash for that, crocheting it very tightly. The yarn is a DK weight cotton, and I used a 2mm hook. Super tight!!

And, in the spirit of repetition, I cast on another Mariah cardi on Saturday. The first one, I wrote about here.

Mariah Sweater - the beginnning

I've had this brown yarn for a while. It's an acrylic that my mum gave me, and I've been trying to figure out what it wanted to be for ages. I just couldn't think of the right pattern. I wanted something cabley, but not too cabley. I knew I wanted some sort of cardigan/jacket. And even though I've knit this pattern before, my brain just didn't register it till yesterday when I was thinking about all this repetition I've been doing recently. Suddenly it struck me that I could knit the same sweater pattern again!! Gasp!! (Seriously, it was a bit like that, strangely enough. It actually felt like a bit of a revelation that I could use this pattern instead of finding something new. Weird!)

I knit about 7" of the back on Saturday, and another 5 inches yesterday. I think I'm actually liking this yarn in the pattern a lot more than the red. This yarn's a little thicker, and it's showing off the cables beautifully. I decided to start with the back instead of the cabled sleeves as the pattern says because that felt just a little too involved last night. Ribbing and stocking stitch, I can just about handle that just now ;)

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Little Ruffley Flower Obsession

I had another incident of seeing a pattern come up on ravelry's recently added pattern page, and having to make it right now. I seem to have a few of these incidents, that pattern page is quite addictive!

Ruffle Flowers

Ruffle Flowers

These were made using the pattern "Ruffled Crochet Flower" by Shala. It's a free ravelry download. I saw the pattern come up and just thought wow, tribal costume! (Probably because I was at a hafla the night before with lots of fabby dancing and costumes). So I downloaded and printed the pattern, and proceeded to make 3 of them in one day!

The pattern calls for thread and a 1.5mm hook - I used some random orange thread from my stash of crochet cotton, and a 2mm hook, cos that's what was nearby. It worked fine :) The pattern's written up well and easy to follow. The first one took about 3 hours, but I'm getting the time down now :)

I'm envisioning loads of tribal costume ideas using this pattern. I want to add them to a belt, I want to make hairfalls with them, and I want to just add them to everything in my wardrobe!! The original has a button in the middle, making it look more flowerlike, I think black buttons would look great in the middle of all that orange...

Sigh, if only when I thought of something, it would just appear! I'm too impatient, I want these costume pieces now!! But I think I'd be swamped with knitted and crocheted items if that happened, so it's probably best just to go through the process (I'm such a product knitter/crocheter!) I'm having lots of fun making these little flowers though.

And they're so scrunchy in the cotton thread! I keep squishing them in my hand just to feel the texture. I think I finally understand the appeal of tawashi, if not washcloths just yet.

Must go make more...

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Hebi Socks - Pattern Now Available

Yay, I finished my Ravleympics project in time! The pattern was knit, checked over and over and over and over, and published on Sun 28th Feb 2010, with only a few hours to spare till closing ceremonies.

Hebi Socks

Hebi Socks

These are the Hebi socks, so named because the cable and lace pattern reminds me of the patterning on a snake's back (Hebi means snake in Japanese). It might be the green colour that looks so reptilian, but my feet did kind of look like big snakes to me :)

Hebi Socks

The sample is knit in Regia 4 fadig, in colourway no. 327, on 2.75mm needles (US size 2). I used about 1.75 balls, which is approx 402 yards (368m), but if you have two balls of Regia then you'll be fine. Of course, any fingering/sock weight yarn can be substituted. The pattern is written for a women's medium foot/leg, but if you need it to be bigger, then you can substitute bigger yarn and needles.

I would suggest using a solid coloured yarn for these socks to show the pattern. I tried it in a variegated, and it didn't really work, though of course the choice is yours :)

They're knit cuff down, and the pattern is both written and charted. The yarn overs make the pattern quite stretchy, but it's tempered by the cables twisting, so the finished socks are very comfortable.

The pattern is available to buy on Ravelry, or you can use this link to buy

I'm very pleased with these socks. The snake-like aspect was totally unexpected. I just charted and knit, and I like very much how they turned out.