Tuesday, 31 May 2011


I rejoined the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup on Ravelry :)

I love this group, but I'd dropped out for a few "terms". Then I head Rachel on the KnitCents podcast talking about it, and it reminded me of how much I'd enjoyed it last time, so as soon as the new term was about to begin, I signed up.

In this group, they have "classes" where you get a task - kind of like an inspiration idea, some loose idea, and you craft something that's connected to that idea. This month I did Defence Against The Dark Arts, Astronomy, and Ancient Runes.

Ancient Runes: The task was to craft something that would enable or aid communication. I made some top-(fingers)-down fingerless mitts to "help keep my hands warm when I was texting or phoning my muggle friends on the tellyfone" :D

Fingerless Mitts

Fingerless Mitts

Defence Against The Dark Arts: This task was to craft something you would wear to the beach. I made a poncho/coverup using Cindy Kamps' Medallion Poncho pattern.

Pink Poncho

Astronomy: The task was to create something irregular (based on the asteroid belt) I made a cowl using chunky yarn, just going round and round in SC/DC (depending on what country you're in and what terminology you're using), and working bobbles randomly, just whenever I wanted to make one. I think the final effect turned out quite asteroid-y :D It looks quite interesting as a hat/head-covering as well as around the neck (actually I think it looks better that way!)

Random Bobble Cowl

Random Bobble Cowl

Random Bobble Cowl

Random Bobble Cowl

Random Bobble Cowl

I turned them all in today (the last day of the month), so I could get my points for Ravenclaw. I'm in Ravenclaw, my favourite house, BTW!! Last minute as usual, it's just like when I really was at school, lol!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

More Ripping Back

More progress, then ripping of the Cedar Leaf Shawlette. I managed, with the help of markers, to finish the main body of the shawl. This time, I placed a marker just after each wrap when I worked it, then I wouldn't go past it, and rework it. This worked, and it was much easier to just knit, without having to look down at my work every few minutes to see if I was at the next wrap yet.

I started the leaves around the border, and actually did 13 out of 30. But something was niggling at me. The pattern has you join the stitch of the border to the body, then knit it again on the next row. But it was looking kind of untidy. I checked the picture in the pattern, and mine did look the same as the detail picture, so I was obviously doing it right, but it didn't look right. I tried ignoring it, but with each leaf it bothered me more, and I eventually figured I wouldn't be happy if I just left it.

So I did an experiment, and decided to slip the first stitch on the RS rows for one leaf to see how it looked.

Forgive the crappy picture, it was half past two in the morning, only electric light, and photoshop can only brighten it so much. The colour is actually a rich dark green, less gray than in the photo.

But you can see how on the last leaf, it looks much tidier where the leaf joins the body. That row of knit stitches lies much straighter, and doesn't wibble about so much. The stitches are less squashed together too, and just lie much nicer against the body.

So I ripped out all of my leaves and started again. This time I wasn't so bothered by ripping out though, because it was a choice that I'd made, and not a huge mistake. And those leaves are really fun to knit!

I'll be much happier with the shawlette now. I've knit three of the leaves already, and it's looking much, much nicer. I don't finish every leaf and think how wonky it's looking, which is very nice :)

Friday, 27 May 2011

Negative Knitting

(in the sense of negative growth, not whinyness...)

I'm knitting the Cedar Leaf Shawlette by Alana Dakos. I'm using Sirdar Sublime 100% merino (so lovely!!) It's been going along fine, until I got to the end of the short row section yesterday. I counted the stitches inbetween my wraps - I had the correct number, but I'd just finished a RS row, not a WS row. So I decided to count my wraps.

18 on the left side (the side I was now at), and only 17 on the right side. I puzzled over it for a while. The pattern is so well written that it couldn't be an error, could it? I'd knit the shawlette once before, but I couldn't remember if I'd had any problems that time. So I counted again, in the vain hope that I'd counted wrong the first time.

Nope, still uneven. And I couldn't really fudge it without the shaping being completely uneven. Instead of lovely crescent shape, it would be a wonky banana shape. And nobody wants a wonky banana shawl, do they. (Or do they? I'm sensing a design opportunity here, lol) Anyway, I didn't want this shawl to be a wonky banana. So I counted and recounted.

The only thing I could think of was that I had missed a wrap on the right side of the shawl. But all my wraps had the correct amount of stitches between them. I peered and counted at my wraps, trying to figure out what had gone wrong.

Then I saw it.

One of my stitches had two wraps around it.

The fourth wrap in...

I hadn't been using any sort of markers, just looking to see where the previous wrap was and working from there. So I'd evidently knit past a wrap, not seeing it because I was on the purl side, and reworked that stitch.

Sigh. There was nothing for it but ripping. Ripping back about 14 sets of wrap and turns with up to 200sts between each one. I think my heart broke just a little as I pulled the stitches off the needle.

I only pulled off the stitches in between the wraps that were correct, so I would only(!) have to rework those middle 200sts again (for another 14 sets of wrap and turn rows!) So in one fell swoop, all the knitting I'd done that day (about three hours) disappeared and so did most of my work from the day before. :(

Oh well. Enough time has passed now I can look on the bright side. I get to spend more time knitting the lovely Sublime yarn. There's always a positive :)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

WIP Wednesday - Willow Scarf

I've seen this idea on a few blogs recently - WIP Wednesday, where you talk/write about something that you're working on. And since I only seem to write about projects when they're done now, I decided to try to implement it on my own blog. I kind of miss tracking the progress of large projects, and it's somehow less satisfying to only have one post saying "look, here's a sweater" and that's it.

This week's WIP is the Willow Scarf. This is a pattern (found on ravelry here) by Vikki Harding of Wild Fire Fibres. It's a rectangular scarf with a repeating lace pattern.

WIP Wednesday - Willow Scarf

I'm using 2 cones of lace/cobweb-weight yarn held together to make more of a fingering weight yarn, on 4mm straight needles (yes, I've resurrected my straights for this, and I'm quite enjoying it!) It's making a nice fabric, not to thin or flyaway, which it definitely would be with one strand of yarn.

It's acrylic, but the lace is still showing well, and I've used this yarn and needle combination before, so I know it'll look even better when it's steam-blocked.

WIP Wednesday - Willow Scarf

Lots of people think you can't block acrylic, but steam-blocking does open it up and make it look a lot nicer. You just won't get the big size increase that you can get by blocking wool. Whatever the knit size is, that's the size it's going to stay. But you can still make it look really nice with steam-blocking.

To block acrylic, I just lay the scarf out flat and hold my iron a few inches over it (NEVER directly on the fabric!!!) then I press the steam button. I get the fabric nice and saturated with steam then take the iron away and lay it to the side (VERY important, I always take time to think during this process, and make sure it's away, I don't want to burn myself!) then I flatten the scarf out a bit with both of my hands, stretching the lace out so the holes open up.

This scarf is about 3/4 done. My rule of thumb with scarves is to hold it between both hands across my body so it'll be about the size of my wingspan (the same height as me, I understand, though I've never actually measured myself and tested that theory) I don't tend to measure it out very often. I used to religiously measure out 60" or whatever the pattern said with a tape measure, but really, does it matter if it's an inch or two or even ten off? If I can hold it out between both hands without folding my wrists or elbows in, then it's done to me. I'm either more lazy or easygoing about this stuff now, I'm not entirely sure which, lol!

This project is my couch knitting. Because I'm using the two cones together, it has to be beside and slightly beneath me or the cones fall about everywhere, so I've got them in a paper bag beside the couch, and I pull the yarn up from there. It means it's less portable, but I can get a repeat or so done at a time and I can see progress.

I've technically memorised the pattern, but I still get halfway through the repeat and need to check the chart. It doesn't seem to matter what half I finish, the first or second, I still need to verify where I am with the chart. But since it's not one of my portable projects, that doesn't really matter, I suppose.

I'm enjoying working on this in my piecemeal fashion, doing a few rows at a time whenever I can sit down long enough. I started this back in March, so it's one of my more longer projects, but I'm enjoying it very much.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Blogoversary Contest Winner!!

Quick post to reveal the winner of my blogoversary contest from the 7th of May.

Thank you so much for leaving comments everyone! I wish you all could have won, but unfortunately it could only be one person. Thank goodness for the random number generator at www.random.org which meant that I didn't have to pick one person by myself though! :D

(pic of the generated number, having taken out non-entrants and doubles)

And the winner of this yummy Manos Silk Blend yarn:

is Siga!!!! Yay!!

(I'll pm you on ravelry Siga to let you know, and you can send your details whatever way you choose, through Ravelry or email or whatever)

Well done Siga!!

I really enjoyed seeing all your comments, thank you all so much! And I've found some more wonderful blogs to follow through this too :) Thank you again!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Open Studios Weekend

Last weekend was the Open Studios event in my local area. This is an event where artists throughout the area open up their studios (hence the name lol!) for people to come and see what they do and then buy or commission their work. It's a really awesome, inspiringly creative weekend, when it becomes apparent just how many creative people there are locally. This year 77 artists took part officially (some people open up their studios at this time but aren't in the brochure. They usually seem to join officially the next year though)

I went round quite a few of these artist's studios - not having a car there was no way I'd be able to go round all of them by bus. But I "did" 3 towns/villages over the Saturday and Sunday.

I bought some items from some of the artists that I saw.

Raku Heart Brooch

I bought this raku clay brooch from Moyra Stewart. It's surprisingly lightweight. Because it looks like stone, and because it was marked as a clay item, I assumed it would be heavy, but it's so light! It hardly weighs anything at all. I think it'll be perfect for pinning a shawl or something because it won't pull the fabric at all, being so lightweight.

Heart Card

Leaf Brooch

Hearts and brooches seemed to a theme in some of my favourite works. I got this card from Aileen Clarke, as well as the leaf brooch. I saw the brooch and just couldn't get it out of my head, so I bought it :) I really like Aileen's work. I first came across her on Flickr, and I try to get to her studio whenever it's open.

Skull Bag

And I got this bag from LucyMoose. What can I say? I'm a sucker for skulls :)

I think my personal favourite thing about Open Studios is the inspiration I get from seeing all these creative people's work. There is so much variety and talent out there that you kind of forget about when meeting people in day to day life. I came away from this year's Open studios with so many ideas and a strong desire to make stuff and be creative too! I want to draw and paint and make textile art - you name it, I just want to do it! I wish I had more time lol! :D

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Blogoversary Giveaway!!

It's my blogoversary!!

Get your own free Blogoversary button!

Four years since I started blogging - I can't believe it! It just seems like yesterday that I created my google account and jumped in :) I haven't been blogging so regularly recently, but I still do love it - writing about all my projects etc and sharing them will you all. Writing has always been something I'm drawn to do - I love how my thoughts flow out onto the paper or screen and suddenly my random thoughts have some substance to them.

What I love most of all is the feedback I get from you guys. I don't get many comments here, but I really do appreciate each and every one. I feel like blogging has made me some really nice connections with awesome people, and I'm very grateful for that. It's a totally unexpected benefit. I thought I'd just be writing stuff up here and no-one would bother to look - to have people look and comment is amazing to me!

So to thank everyone for making this such a nice place on the internet for me, I've decided to give away this lovely skein of kettle-dyed Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend yarn (30% silk, 70% Merino extra-fine wool), colourway 9999 (lots of lovely purples). It is 100grams, approx 300yds/270m and a DK weight yarn (22-24sts to 4" on 3.5-4.25mm needles).

It's much lovelier than my very amateur photography makes it out to be! :D

Simply post a comment below - anything would be great. And if there's anyone out there lurking who would like a chance to get this gorgeous skein of yarn, please say hi! I'd love to "meet" more of you out there! I'll ship internationally, so anyone in other countries than the UK please feel free to comment too!

I'll keep this giveaway open for 2 weeks, then use a random number generator to pick a winner on the 21st of May. Good luck everyone!