Thursday, 25 August 2011

Do you ever have one of THOSE weeks?

I'm sure you do.

This week has been one of THOSE WEEKS for me.

It all started off well.  Sunday night we went for a family meal (15 of us!) to celebrate my Dad's 80th birthday.  The restaurant had said that no problem, they'd be able to cook something gluten and dairy free for DD2 so I didn't need to take anything food-wise with me for her.  We chose food for her and it arrived, but it wasn't until she was halfway through her starter of chicken and salad leaves (an adaptation of a Caesar salad!) that I realised the leaves had dressing on them and that the chicken was coated with something.  This has meant a very up and down few days and nights with her, with more pronounced autistic characteristics than usual and very disrupted sleeping patterns for her, which means I'm sleep-deprived as well.

The knock-effect is that I've been making some really stupid mistakes in my knitting and crocheting, so don't have anything to show this week.

I started an African Flower motif cushion a couple of weeks ago.  The flowers themselves have turned out really well and I'm so pleased with them.  The motif is hexagonal and my plan was to sew them together to make a big hexagon and buy a circular cushion pad.  However, once I'd sewn them together, I realised the other day that I'll have to come up with a wide but not very high triangle to fill in the gaps and I can't work that out at the moment.  I've tried three times so far and all that's happened is I've got frustrated and irritable and have shouted at the dog.  So, I'm leaving that for a bit and am working on the back side of the cushion cover, which I decided would be one flower motif in the centre and then just plain stripes all round that central hexagon until it's big enough.  Maybe by the time I've done that bit I'll have worked out how to fill in the front gaps (I might post a request on Ravelry for that one).

To cheer myself up, I decided to cast on some socks using one of the two skeins of Malabrigo sock yarn I bought a while back.  I chose the skein of Lettuce and the Go With The Flow socks which were in my queue.  I decided to convert the pattern to toe-up - something I've done with other patterns.  Halfway up one 15-row repeat, I had a look and thought to myself "that doesn't look right".  'That' was about ten rounds further down, so I checked and it was wrong, so I ripped back.  Not too bad, except the pattern's a zigzag rib and I hate ripping back ribbing because the purl stitches try to escape.  Off I went again and got up to the gusset, which was no problem, then the heel turn - again, that went without a hitch.  Then came the heel flap (with toe-up gusset+heel flap socks, the gusset stitches are incorporated into the heel flap by ssk and p2togs as the flap is worked up).  In the pattern, the cuff and sock leg are worked, then the heel flap, which is half-linen stitch, except that after the heel flap's been knitted, the whole sock's turned inside out, which makes for a pretty heel flap.  "Oh, I can do that in reverse" thought I and, indeed I could.  Instead of knits, I did purls and instead of sl1wyif I did sl1wyib.  Only, once I'd finished the heel flap, I didn't like the way that there were ladders between the p2togs and the first stitch of the linen stitch bit.  By this time, I'd done a couple of rounds of the leg as well.  That was yesterday, late evening, so I decided to sleep on it.  This morning I took one look and then it was rip, rip, rip, all the way back to the end of the gusset.  I've now re-done the heel - with Eye of Partridge stitch and it looks much neater.

I also got caught up in the Beekeeper's Quilt excitement and as I've got a lot of sock yarn leftovers, bought the pattern and started making little hexapuffs.  Seven puffs down, I thought about joining them together.  Tie them at the corners as in the pattern?  Hmm  - not sure about that.  Seam them with whip stitch?  A bit too bulky.  I finally came up with something that's more or less mattress stitch, but that leaves the cast on and cast off edges.  Long-tail cast on means there are bumps at the bottom and a 3-needle cast off means there's a ridge at the top (never mind the little 'ears' caused by loose stitches at the ends).  I might have to resort to Kitchener Stitch ---- or I might just mark this one down to experience, tell myself I should think before I get caught up in the latest viral knitting pattern hoo-ha because, quite honestly, even if I did finish a puffy quilt, I have absolutely no idea what I'd do with it.  I've already got a mitred square sock yarn blanket on the go and there are some very pretty crochet patterns for sock yarn leftovers that I've been browsing through as well.

To cap it all, today the dishwasher died.  It had been struggling to clean the dishes, even though I've only had it 3.5 years or so (it does get used quite a lot; at least 12 loads a week) and had been leaving gritty bits on glasses and bowls, despite being topped up with dishwasher salt and rinse aid, the filters cleaned out, a Finish dishwasher cleaner run through it and Mr Muscle put down the kitchen sink and left overnight.  Today, I noticed there was water coming out of the bottom and when I pulled it out to have a look, I spotted a tear/hole in the water-out hose.  I put it on a pre-wash to see how bad it was, but I must have caused more damage than was there previously when I pulled it out from under the worktop as it suddenly stopped working and all the electrics tripped (which meant the Wii went off, which meant DD2 had a hissy fit).  Out came a screwdriver and I took the bottom of the dishwasher off and water had got inside.  It's now been disconnected and I've paid a ridiculous amount of money (£35) to have a new dishwasher delivered tomorrow.  Just what I needed when I've still got DD1's train and bus ticket for school to pay for, plus her music tuition fees for the autumn term.

As I said - it's been One of Those Weeks.

Hopefully next week will be better and I'll be able to show you some knitting and crochet goodies!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

More Hooking than Knitting

I seem to have more crochet WIPs than knitting ones at the moment, which is unusual.

This morning, I had 3 crochet WIPs (Granny Stripe Blanket, Claudia Scarf and Ruffled Flower Cushion) and 1 knitting WIP (a Feb Baby cardigan but without the lace pattern).

This evening, I have 2 crochet WIPs and 1 knitting WIP, which means that one of my crochet WIPs has been promoted to an FO!

Here it is:

The front:

The back:

Then DD2 wanted to get in on the act (she always appears when I get my camera out) but Jess our not-yet-two-year-old labrador decided she wanted to get on the sofa with DD2 (you can just see the dog on the right of the photo):

and all was a bit bedlam-ish for a while as DD1 (for whom I made the cushion) was worried that between them DD2 and the dog would spoil her new cushion.

(Relative) calm was restored so DD1 asked if I'd take a photo of her with her new cushion:

And then the cushion was taken upstairs to her bedroom, out of harm's way.

Cushion details:
Yarn - Wendy Peter Pan DK (various colours - I used 156g in total)
Hook - 4mm metal one
Pattern - via the Attic24 blog
Size - 40cm diameter as I already had a circular cushion pad that size
Modifications - none except that I added a button to each side to cover the centre hole

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A New Iron

On Saturday when hubby came back from wherever it was he'd been, Jess (our labrador: not yet 2 and still rather bouncy) got Very Excited that he was back.  So excited in fact that she jumped up and put her front paws on the kitchen worktop so that she could bring him a tea towel as a present (it's usually tea towels, dishcloths or socks that she brings him).  Unfortunately, she managed to knock the iron off the side (where it had been left to cool down).  The iron broke - and it was a pretty pink Morphy Richards one - so I spent the next few minutes picking up bits of pink and white iron from the floor.  There were also some words spoken along the lines of 'bloody dog'; I'm sure you get my drift.

So, on Sunday morning hubby went off to Argos to pick up a new iron.  I'd already looked online, chosen the iron I wanted (a Breville retailing at £29.99), reserved one and had the reservation code sent through to hubby's mobile phone.  All seemed well.

Except.... when he got home, he hadn't bought that iron at all.  He'd forgotten to take his phone with him and hadn't thought to ask one of the sales assistants to help him get it.  So, he'd looked at the irons in the catalogue and bought a different Breville one.  An iron that cost £59.99, so £30 more than originally planned and he could have given me that £30 so I could stalk the Wollmeise website in the hope of an update (if I could be bothered, which is not likely, it has to be said).

This is the one he bought:
It's digital.  It says it has "easy use digital interface" but I'm suspicious of things that say they are "easy use".  Buttons have to pressed to set the temperature I want.  It's black and grey and from the look of the picture, lights up blue when it's switched on.  At the time my nice, basic, pink Morphy Richards iron got broken, I had one load of laundry in the washing machine and one in the tumble dryer.  Three days later, I still haven't ironed those two laundry loads.  I haven't even plugged in the new iron.
Truth be told?  I'm a bit scared of it. And also a bit disappointed that an iron that cost £59.99 needs human input to make clothes crease-free!  As it's obviously a bit of a posh iron, what if it takes offence at a. the ironing board which has a cover that's seen better days and b. the fact that most of the clothes it will be required to make crease-free are of the t-shirt variety and that the one item it's been used on so far (a John Lewis double-cuffed shirt*) is not the norm around here?

I might have to cast on for a new pair of socks to get up the courage to plug it in and work out what buttons to press.  I wound the Malabrigo sock yarn for them a couple of nights ago.

*I rarely iron hubby's shirts since the time he told me that I didn't do them that well and certainly not the way he'd been taught in the military and I told him if that was so, he could do the bloody things himself.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Pretty Pale Pink

When I go to my knitting group on a Friday morning in the nearby village of Dedham, I sometimes pop into the chemist/gift shop (I think the post office is in there as well) just along the street from the pub where the ladies and I meet up.  On the surface, that seems a reasonable thing to do, except that as well as the pharmacy and gift section, they sell a small amount of yarn.  King Cole acrylic yarn.  Three or four shelves of it in fact.  And I often come home with a ball or two in my bag - just because it's there.  This happened a couple of months ago and I came home with two balls of pale pink King Cole Comfort DK (quite a nice, soft acrylic). 

As my girls are nearly 9 and 11-and-a-half, two x 100g balls of yarn aren't enough to make anything for either of them, so this yarn was destined to be a baby cardigan or two for the box of knits for Romania that I contribute to (I can indulge in my love of knitting baby things and then they go off to where they're appreciated, so it's a win-win situation really).

First off, I cast on for Elizabeth Zimmermann's 'February' Baby Cardigan, from the Knitter's Almanac, which I borrowed from the library (although I think the whole book's available to read on Google Books).  It didn't take long.  I modified it by doing the body before the sleeves, then picking up stitches at the underarm and knitting the sleeves magic-loop style in the round.
The sweater took 88g of yarn (I weighed it).  The buttons I bought from The Range.  Not in their haberdashery department, but in the craft dept.  They sell them as craft buttons (they were on a circular stand) and cost £1 for a pack of quite a lot of buttons.  This pack was red and pale pink buttons, but they also do light and dark blue and then green and grey.

On my Ravelry queue, the first project is a pair of socks, but I've already got a pair on the needles (and if I don't finish those before I cast on another pair, they'll never get done).  Second on the list was the Pimpelliese scarf.  It's very similar to the Baktus scarf, but has a lace edging which is knitted as you go.  I read some of the comments about it on Ravelry and some of them seemed to suggest that this was a bit complicated in parts.  So, I read the pattern to see if I could visualise it in my head.  I couldn't.  So, I thought I'd cast on with the remains of the Comfort DK from the Feb Baby just to see how the pattern worked.  The next thing I knew, I'd done 5 pattern repeats.  As I had another 100g ball of the same yarn, I decided that I might as well carry on and see how far I got.  A week later and 19 repeats on each side of the scarf, I cast off!  This will also go in the Romania box and hopefully it will keep a teenage girl's neck warm this winter.  As I said to someone after she commented that something was too nice to be given to charity, "it may be for charity, but it doesn't mean it can't be stylish".

I'll definitely make this again, in the yarn I'd originally intended for it - Fyberspates Sparkle Sock.  That one will be for me because, well, you know, you can never have too many scarves - can you?

This afternoon I shall be casting on the second of my pair of socks in Wendy Happy yarn as I finished the first one this morning, in between ironing piles.  If I ever mention that I'm considering buying this (mis-named) yarn again, please shout at me online or track me down and hit me with a wet fish.  I like the colours, but the yarn is splitty, slippery and has very little stretch.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Deco is finished!


Yesterday, the postman delivered the 13mm press studs I'd ordered the day before (excellent service - these ones, via Amazon ).  So I gave the front bands a light press with the iron and then got out my tape measure to work out where to place the buttons.  I'd originally planned on using 8 buttons and press studs, but decided on 6 due to a combination of a. maths and b. looking at 8 buttons placed along the bands and deciding that they looked too crowded.  First off, I marked the button placements with pins.  Then, I sewed on the buttons.  After that, I sewed on the press studs, first the one to go behind the button, then it's corresponding flat part.  I snipped off the last bit of thread and Deco was finished.  So, I got out my camera and took some photos (except I forgot to take a photo of the back view, but it looks just like the examples on the Ravelry page). With hindsight, it might have been better to do the press studs first and then sew the buttons on afterwards as the way I did it was a bit fiddly.

The colour's most like the second picture, but I took the photos last night when a. it was dark and b. the weather had gone all grey and rainy.

I've also finished off a baby cardigan and a scarf (using the same yarn for both - there's a reason for that which I'll explain in my next entry), except for the finishing touches such as sewing in ends and pressing, so I'll be here again soon to show off!

I'm going to look at my Ravelry queue now to decide what to cast on next (despite still having 4 WIPs, including a pair of socks I don't really like, but have decided to keep plodding away at).

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Deco - nearly there

Last week, I finished the knitting of my Deco cardigan.  Because the bottom and top edges kept curling up, I decided to do a line of crocheted slip stitches to add a tiny bit of weight and to add a  bit to the edge of the neckband (I should have picked the first stitch up right at the very edge of the front bands).

After blocking (which I did properly, pinning it out on my foam mats - yay, go me!), it was all lying much flatter.

I'd bought some red grosgrain ribbon to line the front bands, but decided that I wanted the facings to be slightly more than the width of the bands, which the ribbon wasn't.  So.... I had a look in my fabric stash and found some cotton that I thought would do nicely.

This morning, I used hubby's spirit level-cum-metre measurer thingammy to cut out two rectangles.  Then, I turned the fabric in at each side and ironed it, carefully pinned the facings in place.  After I'd done the pinning, I checked that the front bands were still the same length as each other and then I hand sewed the facings in place.

I'm now waiting for some 13mm plastic press studs to be delivered so I can sew them down the bands before sewing on the buttons, which are obviously only for decoration because the fastening's done with the press studs.  I'd thought I might be able to get away with using some plastic press studs I bought from my local haberdashery/yarn store by sewing them on both sides of the bands, but decided that after all the hours I'd spent knitting the cardigan it was worth waiting a few extra days for fastenings that will do the job much better and give a neater overall appearance.  I bought them from Amazon, using the link that Kate Davies (I think it was her) gave on the Deco project page comments on Ravelry.

Anyway - here it is knitted, facings sewn in, but without fastenings:

And here's a pic of the facing on the right front:

And a closer up pic so you can see the fabric I chose:

As you can see, it needs another blocking/pressing now that the facings have been sewn in, but I'm really pleased with it so far.

It's definitely worth taking time over finishing off.  Compared to the number of hours spent knitting, an extra hour or two on the finishing touches really is worth it.

In the meantime, while I wait for the postman to deliver the press studs, I've got some finishing off of another couple of things to be getting on with and I've also got an idea in my head for a scarf which I'm hoping will work out once it's on the needles!