13 February 2014

The Lovely & The Very Ugly

The Lovely & The Very Ugly

I've been forcing myself to finish some of my WIP's. Believe me, force is not too strong a word for some of these projects. I really had to grit my teeth and knit like the wind to get the mucky brown, very ugly socks (nearly) off the needles. 

You see, I'm not a half-finished WIP sort of person. I don't have bags of abandoned projects lying around. Well, that's not entirely true. I do have a number of half-finished or very nearly finished projects all over the place, it's just that I do have plans to finish them. Eventually. Generally, I like to get stuff off the needles. If I do go off a project, or decide it isn't working, I'll usually frog it. Although that's not until it's sat around unloved for a few months/years and I've tossed and turned a bit about whether it's worth finishing.

Which brings me to my recent revelation. When it comes to knitting, I have an interest time limit of about a month. Six weeks max. If a project is taking longer I start to get antsy. Restless. Bored with it. What starts as an exciting adventure begins to feel like drudgery after about a month or so. My mind wanders off thinking of the next lovely thing to knit and I find myself buying the odd skein here and there in the hopes that I might start something else.

The Lovely & The Very Ugly

I guess that's why I prefer to have only a few things on the needles at any one time. Any more and it all starts to take too long. That month creeps up too fast and, before I know it, I'm feeling a bit cross with my knitting.

I certainly felt cross with the very ugly autumn-coloured socks. The colours that looked so fabulous in the ball, were really not working for me knitted up. Plus, the yarn was splitty and coarse. Argh! My father in Law watched me knit them, heard me grumble and told me he liked them. His comments encouraged me to keep going. "Maybe it's just me" I thought. "Maybe I'll like them when they're finished".

Well, they're nearly finished and I still think they're yuck. All I have to do is kitchener the toes and weave in my ends but I can't quite bring myself to pick them up again. I've gone way past the point of frogging them. Instead, I think I'll make myself spend the 20 minutes I need to get them done, block them and give them to my father in law. 

The Lovely & The Very Ugly

On the other hand, I did really enjoy finishing my lovely indigo blue lace socks. Aren't they so pretty? I love that they're a mirror image of one another. It was a delight to knit these. The pattern was fun and the yarn looked and felt delicious.

When I popped them on my feet my 4 year old niece expressed concern that I'd get cold. She showed me how her finger could poke through the holes and she wondered if I might like to sew them up. She might be right, they might be a bit drafty on especially cold days. But, I'm pretty sure I won't be sewing up any holes. I love those holes. Instead, I think I might try to find a groovy pair of winter shoes to show them off in.

If you're after more details about patterns and yarns, my lovely blue socks are on Ravelry here. The very ugly ones are here.

We're moving into our new house tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm also nervous about unpacking all those boxes. 10 years ago, when we had one small baby, we shipped exactly 100 boxes to our new house. This time, three more children later, we've got over 300. Oh dear.

Wish me luck.

11 February 2014

Stash Love


Would it be so terrible if my stash of yarn was the first thing I unpack on Friday when we move into our new house? I'm sorely tempted because I'm missing it rather a lot. What is it about a stash of yarn? Is it simply the touch and smell of delicious yarn that is so comforting? Or, the thrill of what each skein promises to become? I don't know. Whatever, I can't wait to get my hands on my stash again at the end of the week.

Excitingly, I had a little splurge on yarn and fibre as I left the UK, quickly packing it away before I'd had much time to enjoy it properly. It'll be a little like Christmas when I get my hands on it all again.

Whilst I've been patiently waiting for our moving in day and for our container to be delivered, I've been collecting a few lovely (nearly all local) skeins. I've thought a little about what I might make with each and although nothing is set in stone, at this stage it's all destined for things for me ...

So far, I've squirrelled yarns from New Zealand indie dyers Soft Like Kittens, Happy Go Knitty and Spinning a Yarn. The creamy yarn to the left of the picture is also a New Zealand yarn, a merino/possum mix from Naturally Yarns but the pale blue lace is from Peruvian company Misti Alpaca

Are there any other New Zealand dyers I just have to try? Do tell. I may even brave a sale on Facebook if you tell me it's worth it!

6 February 2014

I'm Back


I've written you dozens of posts over the past couple of months but they've all been in my head. I've thought about you and missed "chatting" with you but somehow, the longer I didn't post, the harder it became ... 

Anyway, I'm back. There is so much to tell you! But, I'm about to start dinner, so I'll have to be quick and pop back again really soon.

  • We've bought a house with enough land for a big vege garden, an orchard, some animals and Mr Myrtle's beehives and we move in next week. It'll be fun showing you around;
  •  Summer is STILL going and it's only getting warmer. I'd really forgotten how long and how hot summer is here and I'm in desperate need of some new lightweight, cool things to wear. Won't it be fun to get my sewing machine out of our container next week?
  • I've been knitting, albeit a bit more slowly than usual. My sore shoulder seems to have come right and I've got a few new (finished!) bits to show you;
  • There's even been a bit of crochet;
  • My stash of NZ yarn is slowly growing although I'm quite daunted by the prospect of desperately trying to buy yarn on Facebook at the same time as a gazillion other keen knitters. From what I can gather, you have to be in the right place at the right time and quickly slap a "SOLD" comment on the yarn you like when its photo pops up. My heart stops in panic just at the thought of it. So far I've stuck to my comfort zone - quietly browsing and buying from local on-line and real life stores - although, if you're reading this Sarah, GOSH I MISS THE SHEEP SHOP!
  • The new school year began this week in New Zealand and on Monday three of my four kids had their first day at the little country school near our new house. My nearly four year old "baby" is off to the local Playcentre with me two mornings a week. I suspect things might be a bit up and down while everyone settles in but I'm hoping their daily swim in the school pool will help smooth the road.

So, there you have it. A snippet of where I"m at. Thank you so much for your kind messages wondering where I was and if I was ok, I'm touched that you missed me too.

If you're wondering about my photo - I was inspired to post today whilst trying to untangle my handspun skein. I'm not sure how it happened but it's a huge, tight mess and I seem to be turning it into some sort of boucle yarn trying to sort it out.  It's destined to be a lovely wrap because, I am absolutely thrilled to tell you, sometimes it's cool here in the evenings! 

Despite my worst fears, It looks certain that I'll still need knitwear. Phew.

Back real soon. X

9 December 2013

Winner & Just Getting Started

Just Getting Started

Thank you so much for supporting the fabulous new book Journey, by Shannon Cook & Jane Richmond. What a stylish bunch you are - there were some great ideas on how you'd style the bits and pieces from the collection, you have me very inspired.

You'll be pleased to hear I've got a winner. Congratulations to alcbrooks! You've won an e-copy of the fabulous Journey collection! Sit tight - it shall be with you very soon ...

Just Getting Started

So, I've got more stuff to tell you.

It starts with a sore arm. Mine. Well, it started in my shoulder really and it's been bothering me since I left the UK. Countless rubbing, rolling, stretching and several visits to a person who knows about these sorts of ailments has still left me with rather a sore arm. During my most recent visit this morning it was suggested that I didn't knit for a week. A WHOLE WEEK. I know. Crazy.

I meekly suggested that I didn't think knitting was the problem, if it was anything it was using the computer and my blasted phone. But it was to no avail. I am forbidden from knitting for the rest of the week.

See the pretty thing I've started? I should really have cast on something from the fabulous book I just reviewed (and have no fear, I will soon) but a pretty skein of Misti Alpaca hand painted lace (100% Baby Alpaca) caught my eye first. I bought it, tossed aside the autumn socks I'm making for Mr Myrtle, my pretty indigo blue lacy socks for me and the dark Mulberry cardigan that I'm having a hard job seeing in the evenings and is feeling altogether too hot to work on right now - and cast on the very beautiful Radiance Shawl designed by Helen Stewart.

It's a fun, simple knit and the pattern is thoughtfully written. It's divided into three different formats depending on what takes your fancy. You can choose to follow it written out in full, or an abbreviated version and thirdly, for an easily distracted person like me, instructions numbered row by row. 

Isn't the colour just so pretty? I'm loving that the colour is rich and yet the weight of the yarn is so light. It's working out well in warm, muggy weather. 

I'm a page and a bit into the pattern and I still haven't reached the 10% mark. Even so, it seems to be growing quite quickly, although my last row was a whole row of "knit into the front and back" of almost every stitch. That nearly doubled my stitch count in one fell swoop, so I think it'll start to feel a little slower now, even without my enforced week's break from it.

Just Getting Started

Do you like my basket? I bought it at a fantastic Christmas craft market in Tamahere over the weekend. It's not a traditional Maori kete because it is made from seagrass rather than flax, but I like it nonetheless. It's a cool rounded shape and a good size for medium-sized knitting projects.

What will I do this week with no knitting? Well, I wasn't told not to sew. So, I guess I better do that ... 

I've started a ravelry page for my shawl here.

6 December 2013

Sew Cheerful

Sew Quick

It's a bit wonky, but it's cute and it was pretty speedy to whip up. It's a book bag. Just the perfect size for the reading books and notices that come home from school.

Sew Quick

I fell in love with the happy red and white print. It's a heavy cotton drill with topsy-turvy animals, positioned every which way and I thought it was bright enough to be easily spotted amongst a pile of book bags in the classroom. It's lined with lightweight yellow cotton gingham and I used some thin padding between the layers to give it a bit of puff.

Sew Quick

Long thick strips of bias binding cover the raw edges and give the bag a bit of "zing" and the flap is held down with a magnetic clasp secured on the inside with iron-on interfacing.

The final touch was rather slow, but it was worth it to make the whole thing neat and seam-free - I hand-stitched down the bias binding with tiny, hidden stitches. 

Cute huh? It was lovely to sit down at a sewing machine again, albeit my sister's and not my own. And my wee girl is pretty pleased with her fun book bag.

I really should sew something else while I'm in the mood. I sense it might be time for a new summer dress ...