Friday, 26 October 2012

Knitting again!

I guess you can tell from that title what I've been up to recently :)

Thinking off all the decluttering I've been doing recently, it occurs to me that there's no better way of clearing out your stash than actually using it :)

That thought, and clearing out my ravelry queue got me going. I saw lots of patterns that would go with the yarn I have (probably why I queued some of them in the first place lol).

The first pattern I decided to knit was Esperenza by Gabriela Ordenes. I've been meaning to make this for ages, and I've had the yarn planned for ages - a pure wool dk from Freyalyn's Hand-Dyed Yarns. So now that my head feels a little clearer after all the decluttering (weird, but it really does feel clearer!) I actually managed to cast it on and knit it!

Esperanza Cowl

Esperanza Cowl

Esperanza Cowl

Esperanza Cowl

I'm so happy now that I've made this cowl! I think it's a very pretty pattern :) I made a slight modification - cast on 55sts and added the extra sts to the garter stitch section.

Esperanza Cowl

One of my favourite features of this cowl is how people have folded the garter stitch section over. I had extra yardage than was called for, so I figured i'd be happier with a larger fold and it would use up more of the skein. Less clutter :)

Esperanza Cowl

And I also got to go through my button jar and find a use for these pretty blue square buttons! A win all round!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Hmm, Another Unintentional Hiatus...

This year seems to have been full of them :(

To be honest, I've been having an unintentional hiatus from mostly everything. I organised a charity hafla in August, and this time it was by myself mostly. It was a LOT of social activity getting it all together, talking to and emailing a lot of people a lot of times (I was pretty much glued to hotmail and facebook the whole end of August!), and I'm not the most social of butterflies ;). It really seemed to take a lot out of me, which I didn't realise till after the event when I just pretty much collapsed on my sofa, and stayed there for about a month and a half!

The hafla went really well - it was a great night in the end, and we raised £763 for MSF/Doctors Without Borders! I'm very proud of the amount we raised, and of all the fabulous people who came and danced. So it was totally worth it, but next time I'll definitely be getting help from other people instead of knackering myself!

These past two months or so I have done almost nothing productive! No knitting at all, and only the barest amount of spindle spinning. I've played a few video games, and read a few books and basically just slobbed around recharging my energy. But I think it's nearly back to full now, which is good!

Actually, this past month I have been tidying the house a bit and decluttering my mind and surroundings. I have 5 bags of stuff waiting to go to the charity shops and 4 boxes waiting for people I know to look through them and see what they want. It still doesn't feel quite like I've even made a dent in the amount of stuff collected in this house, but I guess it is a good start. I can see the sofa in the spare room now - it's not covered in stuff!

I've even been declutttering my ravelry queue! I've managed to get down from 8000+ to only 5500(ish) - yay me! At the time it was great having all that choice, and it was kind of a pre-vetted group of patterns that I liked, but it was just weighing me down recently. Not that I felt I had to make all of those patterns, but there was just too much choice. My eventual goal is to get to less than 1000 patterns in my ravelry queue - yes, I can hear you laughing! I might be too much of a hoarder for that to actually happen, but I can aim for it! I think that would be enough choice without being too unwieldy on my poor brain!

So I think I may start knitting again very soon. Looking through my queue has meant that I've re-found some lovely patterns, and I'm quite inspired, which is good! I've even got plans for some of my handspun that I've been making this year - hmm, I should take pictures of that!

My energy is obviously coming back, I can't wait!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Ravellenics Observer Shawl - Pictureless Progress

Pattern page here:

My ravelry project page here:

I've been steadily working on my ravellenics shawl, and I've made quite a bit of progress in the past few days. I'm now at the point where, if I was making a small size shawl, I'd be on the edging. I've decided to make the large size though, so I've still got some way to go. I've done my increase round for section 6, and I'm now at 512 stitches per round, and it'll increase to 1024 stitches per round for the edging. I didn't take this into account when deciding to make the large size, lol! Although my computer geeky size does love how the numbers work out :)

I worked it out, and I have 28,672 stitches left to work in this shawl before the end of the Olympics. Hmmmm. I hope I can get it done in time. It's turning out to be an Olympic sized project, indeed!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Ravellenics Observer Shawl - Progress Pictures

Pattern page here:

My ravelry project page here:

After day 3, I had finished the fourth section of this shawl.

Here it is looking rather sombrero-like. It's getting too big to stretch out without taking it off the needles.

Ravellenics Day 4 - Observer Shawl - After Section 4

And here's a close-up of the zig-zag section:

Ravellenics Day 4 - Observer Shawl - After Section 4

This section confused me a bit at first. I was finding it hard to "read" the lace pattern because it's a written pattern, and the yarn overs were a little difficult to figure out where to place because I was trying to overthink it instead of just following the pattern :) But the designer Mindy posted some helpful tips on the ravelry board, and I also began to recognise the relationship between the yo's on the rounds. I did have to rip out the section half way through, because I'd made a mistake somewhere, but I'd recognised the relationshi[ by then, and could just zoom straight through.

I knitted a whole lot on it yesterday, and am now at the halfway point of section 5 - yay! I'm at the next zig-zag portion now :)

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Ravellenics Day 1 - Observer Shawl

I cast on for my Observer Shawl last night :)

Pattern page here:

My ravelry project page here:

I'm using this huge cone of light fingering weight yarn

Ravellenics Day 1 - Observer Shawl - Big Cone Of Yarn

on 5mm needles, and it's coming out great! I had wondered about the large needle size, but it's really knitting up into a nice fabric.

The shawl is knitted using the Pi formula by Elizabeth Zimmerman and each part of the shawl is written out as a separate section, which is very useful for keeping track of where you are in the pattern. It's a written pattern, not charted, but having it in these sections makes it much easier to read - also the way Mindy writes her patterns with regard to pattern repeats makes it a "clean" pattern and very easy to read. There's no extraneous waffling - it's all very much to the point and straight-forward. I like her style of pattern writing :)

This is the shawl after section 2:

Ravellenics Day 1 - Observer Shawl - After Section 2

And this is is after section 3:

Ravellenics Day 1 - Observer Shawl - After Section 3

which is where I stopped last night.

Getting pictures of black yarn in knitting is very difficult! I ended up with my fingers etc being washed out and just a big white blur because the camera needed to absorb so much light for the dark stitches to show. Still, nobody's looking at the pictures for my fingers or toes (hopefully, lol) :) Also - trying to take a picture of circular knitting that wants to fold in on itself requires about 3 or 4 hands! I don't know how I'm going to manage it when the shawl gets bigger!

I'm really enjoying this project. The beginning was hard - I had to knit my end piece of yarn from the CO into my first row, because I kept picking that up and knitting with that instead. I had to frog it a couple of times because I was getting muddled up with that bit of yarn. But now it’s got going, it’s really quite addictive! I'll be knitting more on it tonight, I'm super excited! :D

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Ravellenics Tomorrow, Yay!

Tomorrow is the start of the Olympic Games, and that means it's also the start of the Ravellenic Games over on Ravelry - yaaay!!

I've joined Team MinKnit this time - it's a team being captained by Mindy from MinKnit designs and also she hosts the Knitting Minknits podcast, which I really enjoy and recommend. She talks about her knitting and her designing, which I find really interesting. Her podcast is both informative and friendly - it's one of my favourite ones now. This is going to be a smaller team, which is ideal for me, because I get totally overwhelmed by the larger groups. I go on and see like 500 new posts in one day and just don't bother even looking. I think this group is going to be lots of fun. There are some lovely people talking on the thread already, and I feel like I can chime in at any time and be welcomed, which is always good in a team/group :)

Mindy has designed the Observer shawl, which is a $4 on ravelry, or free if you're in Team Minknit. It's beautiful! I've never made a circular shawl before, but I really like this one. I like the geometric-ness of the zig-zag lace, and I think it would look awesome in 2 or even multi colours because of the defined rings of lace. My first knitting of it is going to be in one colour though.

The pattern is designed so that the small size would use only one skein of sock yarn, which is awesome! I have a large cone of black yarn though - of a light fingering weight, so I'm going to make either the large size, or even larger :D

I've added my project page on ravelry, and changed my ravatar to the Team Minknit one - I can't believe I'm going to have to wait till 9pm tomorrow to cast on!

So that means that I'm taking part in the shawl sailing and the lace longjump events with this project. I've only officially added this project just now - if there's any time left after finishing it, I may add another, but I'll wait and see :)

Are you taking part in the ravellenic games? What team are you on, and what are you making - I want to know! :D

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Arrrg - Dyelots!!

I'm knitting - well, attempting to knit - the Kourtney Light Weight vest top by Mishellee Zaharis. I'm using a pink Stylecraft Special 4 ply yarn that has been in my stash for ages. I've tried to use it for 2 other large projects and it hasn't worked for anything. In fact, I kind of wanted to just get rid of it, but I'm a Taurus - I'm stubborn ;) I kind of had this idea that I could "defeat" the yarn, and make it become something lovely.

This vest is a lovely pattern - I like the ruffles round the front neck - totally girly and un-me :) And so I started knitting it in this pink yarn. My gauge was off - 6sts to the inch instead of 5, but no bother, I did maths (!) and knit the numbers for a couple of sizes larger. I even worked out the different numbers of row to account for my 8.5 rows to the inch instead of the 7.5 in the pattern. I get all the way to the armholes, change balls and look:

Dyelot Disaster

A great big stripe where the new ball is a completely different shade of pink! Arrrrg!

(Strangely, the yarn in the balls looked identical. Weird.)

I actually almost cried. It didn't take terribly long to knit this far because it's quite a loose gauge for the yarn, on 4mm needles. And up to the armholes only took one 100g ball! But still! To make matters worse - I have another half ball in this yarn (3 total) but this other ball matches the top darker stripe, not the bottom one! Of course, I had to start knitting with the odd ball!

So I (quite literally!) threw it in the corner, and went to sleep. My partner suggested just keeping knitting and then over-dying the whole garment, but I don't even know if that would work properly. I suppose I could chuck it in a basin full of Dylon! :D

But since I have this 150g that match, I guess it makes more sense (to me, at least) to start again, and re-knit the whole thing. Dying seems like a whole other step, and an unknown one at that. I haven't really done any dying before.

After having slept on it, it doesn't seem like such a disaster, more of a huge annoyance. But ooh, I was so angry last night! I'm sure the balls all had the same dyelot number, and stylecraft are usually very good at getting all the dyelots to match. Maybe it wasn't the same dyelot after all - I lost the band months ago when I tried to make it into some other random thing. But dammit, it should have been! Cos I wanted it to be!! Yeah, I've just gone into peevish mode now about it, which is better than angry crying mode.

(Seriously, crying over dyelots!!! In my defence, it was late and I was sleepy, and apparently I just am the type of person who would cry over such a silly thing! lol!)

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Some Actual Knitting Content!

In my quest to slowly get back into blogging etc, I took some photos of some FOs that I finished at the end of last year/beginning of this year. Gloves and mittens are easy to take relatively decent photos of, so I started with them :)

First off, last year at some point I frogged my version of the Druid Mittens that I had started to make with fingering weight yarn (I posted about them here) They were just a bit too small, and I never got round to finishing them, because I kind of knew that I'd be unhappy with them. Then I thought of making them with DK weight yarn instead, as it would be an easy way to make them larger without having to mess about with the pattern. So I used this green yarn (it's wool/acrylic, possibly Stylecraft Life DK, but I've forgotten exactly. I'm about 80% sure it's Life DK though), and slightly larger needles I think. See, this is why keeping blog posts and putting things on ravelry is much easier when you do it directly after making the item! :D Anyway, I just knit the pattern as written, since I didn't have much brain space for modifications, and I just wanted to get them done and out of my queue. Here's some photos:

Druid Mittens

Druid Mittens

And here's a photo with one of them steam blocked and the other not:

Druid Mittens - mid blocking

Pattern: Druid Mittens by Jared Flood, from Vogue Knitting Fall 2008
My ravelry project page: here

I did another re-knit as well. I don't know if I'd ever posted about the Something Floral fingerless mitts, but I'd started to knit them in some fingering weight yarn before - in black and white. But again, they were small. So I decided to just frog them (I went through a bit of a frogging phase in my knitting slump!) But I really like the pattern, and wanted to make them, so I cast them on again. This time I used different yarn - it's possibly Regia sock yarn, but again, I've forgotten and lost the ball bands :)

This is the project that made me figure out that I need to knit colourwork either on very large needles compared to the pattern recommendation, or go up a yarn weight. They're still snug, even using larger needles, but they can at least go on now :) They'll be perfect for autumn days either with T-shirts or under a cardi or something.

Something Floral Mitts

Something Floral Mitts

Some detail shots:

- top edgeSomething Floral Mitts

Something Floral Mitts - detail

Something Floral Mitts - flower detail

And mid-steam-blocking:

Something Floral Mitts - mid blocking

Pattern: Something Floral by Miranda Grant
My ravelry project page: here

And finally, a pattern I'd been wanting to knit for ages, in a yarn that I'd been wondering what to make out of for ages :)

Reading Mitts

Reading Mitts

Reading Mitts - top edge

Reading Mitts - bottom edge

Pattern: Susie Rogers' Reading Mitts by Susie Rogers
Yarn: a colourmart merino (DK?) that I got in my goodie bag at Knit Camp. I'd been wondering what to make out of it for ages, because I wasn't sure how much there was. Then I saw this pattern in my queue and the two matched together! I had a teeny bit left over, it just went in my scraps bag :)
My ravelry project page: here

Yay, a post about actual knitting! I'm going to try to photograph some more stuff later on or tomorrow - it turns out that even though I considered I was in a knitting slump, I still managed to get quite a few projects finished! :D

Friday, 29 June 2012

Tutorial: Ordering PDF Patterns From Knit Picks From Overseas

One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog up again was to write a tutorial. I recently ordered a pattern from the knit picks website () and OMG it was a convoluted experience!! I had to take information from various places on the internet, and combine them with my own making stuff up. Eventually I got the pattern, but I wanted to post how I did it, so that other people can follow the steps.

The problem is that Knit Picks does not allow shipping to other countries. But I just wanted to buy a pdf download, which does not involve shipping. You still have to put in a shipping address though, in the order form.

Now, the information used in this tutorial apparantly came from a Knit Picks employee and was then posted on ravelry. I found the information here, but apparantly there's an earlier thread that I can't find.

To illustrate how to order a pattern from "overseas" (not the U.S. in other words), I'll be using the order page for the Cabled Summer Top by Lee Gant, because it's a pretty top and I want the pattern ;)

So, first you go to the pattern page on

Click on "get the pattern" in the right hand corner. It'll take you down the page to the "kit builder" where you could buy the yarn if you lived in the U.S. But you don't, or you wouldn't be using this tutorial, so ignore this and just click "add to cart".

It'll take you to the top of the page again, just click on the checkout button in the top right now, which will take you to this page.

Click "checkout" at the bottom.

Now,this is the complicated bit. Fill in your proper billing information, your name, address, email etc. Put "not applicable" for the state, and whatever your country is in the drop down box.


Your phone number may not have the correct number of digits (this is the bit that threw me for ages!) American phone numbers have 10 digits plus the 1 at the beginning for the country code (for example 1-800-123-1234) You'll see on the first picture that knitpicks have their own phone number laid out on the top of the screen. You need to put in that many digits (minus the country code). My UK landline has 11 digits. What I had to do was drop the 0 at the beginning of my phone number, and just put in the rest of the digits, as in this example (this is NOT my real phone number by the way - I don't think it's any real phone number. It's just an example. Don't try and phone it!)

For the shipping address, put in knitpicks own address. This is the advice that was given to the ravelry member from their own staff, so I'm assuming it's OK. It works anyway.

Fill in the shipping address as shown in this picture. Then fill in your first and last names, and the phone number you used before.

If this works, you'll be taken to the credit card details page. I have deleted my personal details from this photo - you'll have your billing and shipping addresses shown on the left.

Scroll down and fill in your credit card details and click submit order, and away you go!

You'll see an order received page now.

And in your email, you'll soon get a link to download your pattern.

But wait, that might not be it!! You might get your pattern downloaded as a cfm file - for example "downloadpattern.cfm" Confusing, huh? Don't worry, just go to the folder where the file has downloaded, and rename the file to "downloadpattern.pdf" It will now open in adobe acrobat reader, and you can print out your shiny new pattern!

I hope this tutorial makes sense and helps you. This is my first time writing a real internet tutorial, I hope I've added enough pictures and made it sound easy, which it is really. All you're changing is the shipping address, the phone number and renaming a file. Let me know if it helps, or if you have any other questions. The information is out there on ravelry etc, but I thought it would be helpful to have it all grouped into one page :)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

I Aten't Dead....

I've just been on hiatus, I guess ;)

It's been over 6 months since I last posted - I'm sure no-one's still subscribed, but here I am anyway lol!

I totally lost my knitting mojo over Christmas and winter. I just couldn't think of anything I wanted to knit. And whenever I did try something, it went wrong - like it would be too big, or too small, or too... something. My stash was totally hanging over my head - I would stare at the bookshelves of yarn, and wonder just what on earth I could do with all of that yarn! And some things, I had plans for, like pullovers and clothing items, but I was having (mental) issues with my body too, and just felt like nothing would fit or look nice, or if it fit now, what would happen if I ever managed to lose weight? Or what if I put on weight? What was the point?

So I dropped out of knitting for a while. I sewed a little bit - made some fabric flowers and bettered some of my hand-sewing skills. I didn't go anywhere near blogs or even ravelry - there were just all these pretty, amazing objects taunting me with their makeability. So I spent months reading books, playing video games, or just sat on facebook. Which is full of all my bellydancing buddies and that's fantastic, but I still missed knitting.

Slowly, I seem to have come out of my knitting slump. I started with some small objects - fingerless mitts mostly. You can't go far wrong with them :) And now I'm back to knitting sweaters! I've crept back onto ravelry and my queue has started expanding again - it appears that so many amazing patterns have come out while I've been away! And now I'm going to slowly get back to blogging and reading other people's blogs. :)

I rearranged my blog reading layout - I used to use blogger to keep track of all the blogs I read, but it wasn't really a good layout at all. And then they changed it while I've been away and it's even more convoluted! So I've dragged all my fave blogs to a toolbar folder on firefox, and I can just scroll through that instead of having to open another program, or go to a specific page, which I was just forgetting to do. Soon I'll be back to commenting on them all, but I'm taking it slow this time - I don't want to burn myself out again by jumping back in too soon. This social networking stuff takes a lot of energy, and my levels are just starting to rise again! :)

I've also decided to stop beating myself about photographing all my knits. I kind of felt that they should all be photographed in lovely natural light, with fnacy bokeh effects and everything. This kind of hung over my head too, because in Scotland in the winter - this isn't really possible without big fancy photography rigs and tons of spare time to take 100 photos of every object from every angle. So I was beginning to feel like there was no point in taking photos if they weren't totally professional quality. I know, totally dumb, right? And I had this big thing against using the flash on my camera, when sometimes it's just the right thing that needs to be used... I'm so strange. From now on, I'll just try for the best picture I can get. With flash or without, indoors or outdoors depending on the weather and light, it doesn't really matter. A crappy photo with flash in front of a mirror is better than no photo at all, right?

I've been thinking a lot about my expectations for myself, and what I do. For this whole blogging thing - they were far too high. I'm not sure what I wanted my blog to be - a big professional looking site full of gorgeous pictures, and a tiny thin version of me in beautiful handknits posed on an Icelandic beach or something. Um, that's not my life?! So I'm going to endeavour - not to lower my standards or expectations for myself, but to make them reasonable, and realistic.

This is a good plan, I think, and I'm going to slowly work on it. And maybe I should apply the same thinking to other areas of my life... Actually, seeing that last sentence on the last paragraph written out - it makes so much sense. Why have I not been thinking like that already??? So, to repeat:

I'm going to endeavour - not to lower my standards or expectations for myself, but to make them reasonable, and realistic.

Gosh, this post has been all therapeutic and stuff! I'm really excited about getting back to my online knitting life now! :D