An evening off.

I don’t do this often enough: I tend to do my knitting at the same time as other things (watching TV) or at the very end of the day. But this evening, I’m going to designate myself an official Evening Off from the computer. I’m going to go and sit on the sofa (actually I think one of the reasons I don’t do this all that often is that my sofa isn’t fantastic for lounging on) and listen to podcasts or music – I might Listen Again to Mark Lamarr’s God’s Jukebox from Saturday… I missed it again! Or, huh, maybe I’ll listen to Radcliffe and Maconie and then Masters of Rock first. But mainly, I shall knit!

Aaaaaaaaaaand since it’s almost nine o’clock already, I really should get off teh internets and get on with it, shouldn’t I? TTFN!

The monkey fell out of his bunk and slid down the elephant’s trunk

I’ve been whizzing through the foot of my second Monkey sock – yay! I am of course in no way inspired by the fact that I need those 2.5mm DPNs for another project I want to start. Oh no. Hah! (I need another set of 2.5s, is what I need. Ooo, or maybe a circular needle in that size, just for variety.)

But anyway, the foot of these socks goes so much faster than the leg! Quite possibly as much as twice as fast, in fact. Not that the leg was slow going, mind you. But the foot, remember, only has the pattern repeats on two needles, and the other two are nice speedy plain stocking stitch. The twice as fast thing is suddenly making sense! Plus, with my short little size 4, I only do five pattern repeats on the foot including the gusset decrease section. Which is one less than the leg to start with.

The outcome of all this is, I’ve now finished the lace repeats (yay), and all I have to do is the toe decreases and kitchener stitch the toe up. I like kitchener stitch. It’s all neat and invisible and …. weave-y. Oh look, my vocab has turned in for the night!

So I’m going to finish these socks off tonight while listening to podcasts before I go to sleep. Hoorah! I’m strongly tempted to take myself to the shop at the bottom of my road that sells all sorts of fascinating shop fittings and models, tomorrow. Because I want a head (please mentally pronounce that “hiid”) and a foot (“fuut”) or two for the displaying of my hats and socks. I know I have Angelique-the-toy-head (named by Ally manymany years ago), but she’s, well, technically a toy. And not life sized, which makes her not quite right for displaying hats. I’m not sure if I’d be better off getting a foot (or pair of feet), or some of those lovely wooden sock blockers – plastic ones are OK, but if you’re going to get some, you might as well get some dead spiffy ones, no? Shop model feet have the advantage of being properly foot-shaped, but sock blockers are easier to store. It’s a conundrum! Anyone have any advice?


I’ve been pretty busy over the last few days. Phew! But I have been knitting – I’ll make a longer post all about that a bit later. Right now I’m in the middle of a massive tidy-up / clear out that was actually inspired by me deciding that I need to destash my yarn. As in, knit from the stash. Not (*gasp*) give it away or anything drastic. Well, maybe a skein or two as gifts.

But the point is, I need to declutter my entire life. Or at least my flat. So I’ve been doing that. I’m still not properly sorted out after the move in December. But now I’m on a roll, and I know what the major problems were (wardrobe in the wrong place, and not enough storage – soon to be solved). Whee!
You never know, once I’ve done the big stuff and made a trip or two to the charity shop and the tip, I might even get around to sorting out my filing. Ahahahah! Yeah, right.

Oh, and before I forget (because I’m rubbish like that), hi to my secret pal, “Miss Teri”. *waves* I’ve had my own secret pal assignment too so I’ve been diligently stalking them. Mwahaha! I’ve bought them stuff already too. This is fun!

SP11 again!

I had an email today to say that the Secret Pal matches are starting to go out. *bounce* I’m ridiculously excited about this whole thing, really. I do hope I get a non-UK pal, upstream or downstream or both. I really like the idea of exchanging things that we can’t generally get in our own countries, and getting to try completely new stuff.

I’ve also got to drop a line to the swap organisers to let them know that I’m actually going to be away (at the LoM con / meet-up!) on 1st Sept, which is when I’m sposed to first get in touch with my pal(s?). Still, I’m sure it won’t matter if I send the mail a day or so early. Shame I can’t get my mail to send as a timed thingy, like making a scheduled blog post.

In other news, the weather has been revolting today… which has at least meant I’ve not been dying from hayfever ;-) Every cloud (and there are lots of them in the sky right now!), and so on! The cat still insisted in going out in the pouring rain, of course. I’d better go get him in and dry him off now.

The big baboon by the light of the moon was combing his auburn hair

First Monkey sock up to the heel flap (click for a larger version)I’ve been beavering away at my Monkey socks, one repeat at a time, usually while listening to podcasts. One of the nice things about this pattern is that the lace repeats are logical, and so very easily memorised. But you know, I don’t think I made a proper ‘project info’ entry for this project. So:
Pattern: Monkey socks, from Knitty (Winter 06).
Yarn: Opal Rodeo #1170.
Needles: Set of five 2.5mm DPNs.

The first pic here is of the first one of the pair, either at the end, or almost at the end of the heel flap. The stitch marker in the middle is where the cast-on row began. I haven’t bothered with that for the second sock.

One and a bit Monkey socks (click for a larger version)And here’s a pic of the completed first sock and the just cast-on second sock. There’s actually a lot more of it now – I’ve just finished the lace repeats for the leg and done the two set-up rows for the heel flap, so when I’ve finished writing this post, I’m off to go and listen to podcasts and get that heel flap done.

One of these days, I’m going to sit down and knit a pair of socks from start to finish, without working on other projects at the same time. Or, without swapping between those projects all the time. I’ve been trying to use Lixie’s Stashtimator, but I have no idea how long it really takes me to knit a pair of socks. Still, I have a ton more stash to count before I can get to my final figure anyway. Urk. I can tell you, though, that I have *wince* 6.1 miles just of sock yarn. Ouch. And that’s not counting leftovers. I’m realising that “too much stash” is a very subjective thing, because I’ve seen people who think they have a large stash when they only really have a couple of shoeboxes full. How do they do that? I don’t think I’ve had a stash that small since about two weeks after I started knitting! I’ve really got to go on a yarn diet / stashalong, haven’t I?

SP11 Questionnaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I pretty much like anything that feels nice to knit with, to be honest. I’ve knit with some lovely acrylics and some horrible pure wools, and vice versa. Particularly, I do love merino, and guh, cashmere. Cotton, too, and various blends of all the above. Rayon or Tencel blended in can be nice because it makes for the shiny! Silk… I do like, but it can be awkward. Huh, I’m really not very fussy, am I? I adore everything from Posh Yarn and The Yarn Yard, but I also like Regia and Opal sockyarn (although I’m a bit bored with the patterning now), for example. And as I said above, anything that knits up non-prickly, even better if it’s soft and smooshy!

That said, I’ve probably had a surfeit of mohair now. I’m not allergic to it or anything, but I just bought too much when I came across some bargains, and… oh dear. My stash overfloweth. I also wouldn’t buy myself any eyelash type yarn – I have some for gift knitting, but that’s all.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I felt like doing an illustrated answer for this. So:
My knitting needles
The basket at the back has the huge straights that don’t fit anywhere else, and my circulars on the left, and my DPNs on the right (there are stitch holders and stuuuuff in the middle). Then the red box has most of my metal and plastic straights including the longer ones (35cm); the blue roll has various straights up to 30cm long (metal, plastic, and a pair of 8mm bamboos as well); and finally the tapestry roll has a set of bamboo straights. I do have a small collection of crochet hooks too – those are in a pot in my bedroom and I forgot to get them for the photo. Which isn’t surprising, since I hardly ever crochet.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I learned at school or Brownies or somewhere when I was 6 or 7, but I wasn’t really interested and didn’t continue. And since I never considered myself to be a ‘crafty’ person at all, I never thought about trying until about 4 years ago when I was bemoaning to a friend that I was too broke to afford proper Christmas presents for my friends and family. Because of my problems with Bipolar disorder (and accompanying medication), you see, I haven’t worked full time for nearly 5 years now. So, my friend (the lovely Charlotte) came to visit me, bringing needles and yarn, and re-taught me how to knit. I picked it up pretty quickly, and I haven’t stopped since. :-)

I think I’d consider my skill level to be intermediate – I moved on from scarves to hats to designing my own, to bigger projects and then alllll the way down to wee ones like socks pretty fast. I tend to have a ‘no fear’ approach: if I need a new technique for something, or just want to learn it, then I just do it. Never mind whether it’s supposed to be “hard” or “advanced” or not. (This baffles my mother, who now comes to me for knitting advice. But since she can crochet for England and I can barely get my fingers round that whole ‘one hook + yarn’ thing, it all works out.)

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Um, yes. It’s split into two, and it’s kind of long because I consider it to be more of a bookmarking of things I’m planning to get than a “Buy Me All This Stuff!!!!” list. However, I guess it serves both purposes as long as wading through it doesn’t fry everyone else’s brain….
Non-fiction (including knitting books, natch)
General wishlist (fiction books, dvds, etc)

5. What’s your favorite scent?
I love fruity scents like mango, passionfruit, papaya, apple, apricot, peach, citrus and so on – I always go for that sort of shower gel and body spray.
(Because I’m awkward, purfumes generally make me sneeze, and aerosol can sprays make me wheeze. So does even walking past a Lush shop. *sigh* Awkward and slightly asthmatic, that’s me!)

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Oh dear, yes. However, and it pains me to say this, I’m on a healthy eating diet so I can’t have much. But I’m not forbidden sweets – phew! I love European chocolate (but not American, it’s got that weird waxy taste, ick), sherbert, shortbread, cookies, that sort of thing. Not too keen on toffees. Love fudge. Erm. Fruity sweets are also yummy. I like trying new and exotic things! But yeah, like I said… can’t have much at once :-/

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I’ve been known to make cards for friends and relations, but craft-wise, knitting is about it. The other creative things I do tend towards writing, music, and web design.
I don’t spin, but I do want to learn! I even have some roving… but no spindle as yet.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
Really, all sorts. Rock, metal, jazz, blues, funk, folk, pop, indie, ska, plus variations and branches of those. Fave artists include Skunk Anansie, Skin, Candie Payne, KT Tunstall, Meat Loaf, Guns n Roses, Metallica, Linkin Park, Christina Aguilera, Nina Simone, Damien Rice, Rammstein, Foo Fighters, Jools Holland and Queen. And then there’s the classical. I love early music (Gregorian chant and so on), oratorio, the Romantic piano works, opera, and of course lots of symphonies and concertos (partic. clarinet concertos, as that’s my instrument). Some of my favourite composers are JS Bach, Hadyn, Handel, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Shostakovitch, Stravinsky, Britten, Rutter, Greig and Tchaikovsky.

And now that I’ve blinded you with musicology, I’ll mention that I really do like pretty much anything, and I love finding new artists and music.
Oh, duh. Yes, my computer does indeed play mp3s. So does my DVD player for that matter. And hey, my mp3 player too!

9. What’s your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can’t stand?
This is an interesting one – personally, I wear a lot of black, and dark greens, purples and reds. Actually, most reds from bright through to dark. But I do love those deep rich jewel colours – blues too. For knitting purposes, though, the only thing I’m really not into is pink. Unless it was to be a violent hot pink teamed with black or dark purple, or something. Think punk! Anyway, I really love all shades of greens and purples as well as red, but all sorts of colours call to me in yarn form. Except pretty pinks. So not me.
Wow, I really can’t just answer the damn question straight, can I?

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I have a cat, and it’s just me and him living here. Mum and bro live the other side of town.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
Scarves, hats, gloves, wristwarmers, yes. Mittens, no, though I wouldn’t rule them out for all time. Ponchos… no, and I don’t think I’m likely to. Though again, you never know! But not at the moment.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Socks, wristwarmers / gloves and hats. Oh, beautiful circular gratification! Er, or something. I seem to knit a lot of scarves too, but that’s mindless telly knitting. I’m well hooked on the socks at the moment. But I like making larger items as well – jumpers (that’s sweaters, US people) and cardigans, both for adults and kids. Although obviously the kiddie ones are faster *g*. However, I’m terrible at finishing, which is why I think the socks and hats take the biscuit for me – hardly any ends to sew in! And they only take one or two skeins of yarn, so they’re a relatively cheap project… and I can get extra yarn gratification because you can have a variety of different sock yarn for the same number of balls that it would take to make one larger project. Whee!

13. What are you knitting right now?
Too many things? I have two cardigans and a jumper hibernating, two of which just need sewing up. Then for active knitting projects, I have a Harry Potter house scarf that I’m weaving in ends for, and on the needles are a mindless-knitting skinny scarf, Monkey socks, Fetching wristwarmers, and my Forest Canopy shawl.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Yes! :-)

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
For sock knitting it’s DPNs, but I do want to learn Magic Loop. The 2 circs technique doesn’t appeal to me. But anyway, in general, I really tend to go with whichever seems best for the project and yarn that I’m doing. I use all of them quite happily. If I’m knitting a hat, say, I often start out on a 40cm circular, then change to DPNs when I’m decreasing. And for my Forest Canopy, I’ve started out on straights and when it gets too wide I’ll change to a circular.
Bamboos are lovely, of course, but aluminium or plastic suit some yarns better. I’ve not tried bamboo DPNs for my sock knitting yet, though. Or at all, come to that. But I’ve not had any problems with the aluminium ones so I’m quite happy with them.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
Got a slightly knackered ball winder, but sadly no swift. Yet! I’m going to save up.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
*cough* About 3 years old. *cough*

18. What is your favorite holiday?
As in public holiday? I like May Bank Holiday when all the bikers come down here, and Bonfire Night for the awesome processions and fireworks. Hee!

19. Is there anything that you collect?
Yarn, books and cat hair? Actually, I kind of collect (or at least, people are always buying me!) sheep themed things. This is from pre-knitting times – it all originated at a Scout and Guide camp when I was 13, and somehow kind of stuck. Ever since then my little doodle mascot has been Baa-naby the Sheep. One of these days I’ll photograph and post some of the weird and wonderful sheep-themed things I have, especially since Woolly Wormhead is/was doing a thingummy on her blog about sheep (not real live ones) turning up in odd places. Oh, and (wood)wind instruments. Send me ur bassoonz! Or, you know. Not. ;-)

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
Heh, just a few! I think all the books are on my wishlist, so I won’t list them again. Although the ones that pop to mind immediately are The Happy Hooker, and Ann Budd’s sock book (which I’ve forgotten the proper title of). Yarns… I’d love to get a chance to try some of the American sock yarns (or any non-UK yarn) like Socks That Rock, Lime and Violet or Lisa Souza. I’ve also been wanting to find a good cotton or summery sock yarn. I wonder if bamboo would be any good? As for patterns, I can’t think of anything particular, but I like socks and lace and cables (not necessarily all together).

I’ve just cancelled my subscription to Simply Knitting, and taken out one to Rowan. Of course I also like Knitty, Magknits and The AntiCraft.

21. Are there any new techniques you’d like to learn?
Always – toe up socks, magic loop, and… hmm… I guess improving my intarsia / fairisle skills. Oh yes, and I must remember to look up the jogless jog and double check that excellent weaving-in-as-you-go tutorial.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
Oh yes. I’m a UK size 4 / European 37. My foot length is 8.5″ / 22cm, my ankle circumference is 10″ / 26cm, and the circumference of the ball of my foot is 8.625″ / 22.5cm.

23. When is your birthday?
17th October. Urk, I’m nearly older again!

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what’s your ID?
I am, and yes, I do spend half my life there. My ID is soulstar.

Die Wolle!

Also! Ich kann nicht gut Deutsch spreche, aber wolle ich für einer blog Eintrag es versuchen. Ich habe aus BockstarkKnits einen Preis gewinnt! (And really, me writing this in German is silly, since the fab Kris who runs the site is actually an American expat.) Letze Samstag, es kam mit der Post: eine handgemacht strickendes Projekt Tasche, und ein schön Strang das grün Sockenwolle. Klasse!
So, yeah, if you didn’t get that, or are still in hysterics over my crappy grammar (please feel free to correct me, because I know I’m rubbish but I’m trying to re-learn!), what I’m trying to say is that I won this fabulous sushi-pattern handmade project bag and a skein of German indie-dyed yarn (from Tausendschön) in Kris’ last competition on her site. They arrived in the post last Saturday (yes, I know, I’m slow at posting about it!), and I love them :-) So hey, here’s a photo:

Mein Preis aus BockstarkKnits!

Close up of the inside - click for a larger versionI love the contrasting lining of the bag… and it’s kinda cool to have a fishy one, because woe, I can’t eat sushi (or any kind of seafood) because I seem to be allergic to it. But at least now I can look at it! Also, check out that lovely green yarn. I don’t know if Kris knew this before she sent it, but I loooove green, and this is a particularly yummy shade.
So in conclusion – yay! Thank you Kris! Vielen Danke!

Secret Pal 11!

I’m all signed up for Secret Pal 11 – whee, my first knitty exchange! This is just a quick post to say hi in case anyone wanders over here. My questionnaire will be up soon! Everything to do with the exchange will be under the Swaps category, and also tagged as swaps and sp11, so it should be easy enough to find.
Now, I think I might bend my graphical powers (hah) to making a button…
Well, not right now. Now I’m going to bed. But tomorrow or Sunday, I expect.

Not Dead!

Despite appearances, the blogathon didn’t kill me. Hoorah! It did wipe me out for a bit there, though, and then I had to spend some time catching up on the things I’d got behind on while I was thus wiped out. But anyway, now I’m back and feelin’ fiiiiine.

I survived the blogathon!

And I raised a fantastic $199.66, which translates to £98.64 in real money, all thanks to my wonderful sponsors:
– Mum
– Anonymous

THANK YOU, guys. And thank you to my excellent charity, MDF, who sent me a lovely email and have invited me to submit a piece for the charity’s quarterly magazine about the blogathon and why I chose them as my charity. I’ll be sending that off to them shortly, so you never know, I might even get in print. :-)

I’d like to highlight a few of the posts I made during the ‘thon – the ones that got the actual content, really. It was amazingly hard to write what feel like ‘full’ posts to me for every one, because it just takes me too long! So there ended up just being a relatively small number of more meaty ones, interspersed by briefer comments. Anyway, the ones I wanted to point out are:
Bipolar Disorder, and MDF: The Bipolar Organisation
Fetching So Far
Excitement! I Won!
Forest Canopy
My First Socks
Loopylou and the Multitude of HP Scarves

I guess that’s all on the ‘thon until another year, then. Maybe next year, maybe not! It’s been three years since I did it last, so I’m not going to commit myself now. But I certainly do intend to do it again… and try to remember next time not to do pretty much a full day’s activity *before* I start, next time…
And now we return you to our non-regularly scheduled knitting posts!