Belated Christmassy round-up

I never did talk about how Christmas was in the end, did I?  So I shall inflict in upon the world now.  I actually did get everything finished and ready that I needed to.  All my online shopping arrived (whew!) even though the post was all over the place, I finished the present I was making for Mum, and I even made chocolate chip cookies with moderate success!

Branching OutThe scarf for Mum was the Branching Out pattern [Ravlink], and I knitted it in a lovely Merino / Tencel blend that I spun on the wheel – the first time I’ve knit with my own handspun.  I just left it as a single, and it worked really well (imo, anyway!) and I like the way the colour repeats came out.  Mum says she really likes it too, which is the main thing!

I also joined two Christmas swaps, one through the Limegreenjelly group, and one through Plurk.  The post was / is still being less kind where those are concerned.  It seems to have eaten the parcel from the latter altogether, but I have now had my LGJ parcel from Cal, and a fabulous one it is too:

Two braids of LGJ fibre (one Merino/Silk, one Merino, yum!), a beautiful skein of Posh Yarn Elinor, an Orange Blossom perfume stick which I think is from Lush, mini Green & Black’s choccy bars (om nom nom!), a set of Knit Pro interchangeable needle tips and a cable for them (which spookily I’ve been wanting for ages), and an adorable Lego keyring. :-D  I just hope she likes her gifts from me as much as I do mine.

WIP Blitz

The last, oh, while, I’ve been feeling quite determined to finish off all the knitting projects I have sitting around partly done.  Which is good!  Right?  Right.  It feels like I’ve done more knitting this year than I actually have in terms of finished projects (though the Knitting Meter in the side bar tells me that I’ve knit 2023 yards in the last year… and I’m only putting entries into that when I either finish a ball of yarn, or a project).  But maybe that’s because I still have seven projects on the go.

I had planned not to start any new ones until I’d finished several of those I had lurking.  But well, best laid plans and all that.  Mum asked me to make a couple of things for her, and then I finished my basic “portable project” socks, so I just had to start another pair for that purpose, didn’t I?  And now Christmas is fast approaching… eek!  Still, I am feeling more organised and purposeful about the whole thing.  My knitting, I mean, not just Christmas.  And bizarrely, I think a lot of that is because I finally made the decision to (temporarily) frog my Ishbel and restart it – probably after Christmas – on larger needles.  I checked my gauge again, and I had 23½ sts / 4″ where I should have had 20sts.  No wonder it’d come up so small, and the knit fabric was probably a bit too dense.  I shall swatch again with 4.5mm and 5mm needles and see how it goes.  Whether I’ll end up running out of yarn again I don’t know, but I’ll give it a try, anyway.  I’ve weighed the re-wound ball, and it’s as it should be, so I assume the yardage is correct too.  But the best thing is, I feel much better – obviously that one had been hanging over me without me even realising it!

Now, I know I’ve said this a thousand times, but I’m going to knuckle down and sew up my two “UFOs” – the jumper and the cardigan.  I’ve decided that the pieces of the mohair jumper really do need blocking before I sew them, since mohair is so floaty, but at least now I have the table sorted out and ready to sew on.

So my plan is to finish my Gap Year Travels shawlette / scarf (which frees up the needles for whichever cardigan I go for, I believe), and also my Menace jumper (block, sew, crochet, block again).  Then to start my Christmas knitting and… just keep knitting until I have finished stuff!  I reckon that’ll work.

Falling off the yarn wagon

Ummmm….. it was my birthday and I’ll buy yarn if I want to?

So, I know I said I wasn’t going to buy any more yarn, and lord knows, I don’t exactly need any. Seriously, I’m all yarned out. You know that – you’ve seen my stash. I have lots. But those sock yarns are just so scrummy, and apparently don’t count towards your stash anyway. Of course they still dent your bank balance a bit, but whoops, too late now! But it was my birthday last month, so I treated myself to some yarn that I had been stalking for a while. And then I decided that that’ll be it until… well, until I’ve knitted a lot of it up!

That wasn’t me falling off the yarn wagon, though – at that point, I wasn’t even on it despite my oh so good intentions. I was the person half-heartedly jogging along behind the wagon, occasionally making a vague jump up but not quite getting on board. But last month when I began clearing out my stash, I made my yarn diet ‘resolution’. I was then really good and resisted all yarn except for the YY glove kit that I already mentioned… which I justified because [a] it’s for something I need (gloves) [b] it counts as my sock yarn allowance, and [c] the money for it came from the yarn I’d sold on eBay.

Debbie Bliss Rialto DK yarnHowwwwwever, I tripped and bought yarn and stuff after Knit & Natter last Saturday. The fatal flaw with K&N is that I’d have to leave early to catch my bus back home… and I don’t want to do that. So that leaves me with almost an hour to kill when it finishes. Of course I’m going to go to the yarn shop (the group meets in the pub opposite). Actually I still haven’t broken my yarn diet rules1, but I feel kind of bad nevertheless. Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett yarn I got some Debbie Bliss Rialto DK, which is for a Christmas gift and was a planned purchase, and some sock yarn – Regia’s Kaffe Fassett Design Line in Mirage Fire, which I think is new. I refrained from buying more than one lot of sock yarn, though, so at least that’s something! *g* I did succumb to the lure of a couple of Addi Turbo bamboo circular needles, though. I’m using one pair already, and they are lovely and smooth with a non-tangley cord and all. But the join between the bamboo and the bit that connects it to the cord isn’t smooth. There’s a definite jump that the stitches catch on all the time. :-/ Still, maybe I can do something about it. I really hope so, because they’re lovely in every other respect, and I don’t want to spoil the very nice yarn that’s being knit on them. Anyone have any advice about that?

So yeah, I haven’t technically fallen off the wagon, but I felt the need to confess my purchases anyway. That’s probably the best way of keeping on top of what I do buy within my allowance and making sure I don’t slip. Keep it all public so I’ll be too embarrassed to fail! Think it’ll work?

1 To re-cap:

  1. No more yarn for larger projects until I’ve used the yarn I already have in my stash which is mentally assigned to things in my queue.
  2. Budget the amount of sock yarn / single skeins that I can buy: this will be sock club yarn plus an allowance of £15 a month max. This should probably also cover needles and notions as well, come to think of it. And books.
  3. Yarn for gifts and commissions doesn’t count, but I am going to try to knit from my stash for those as well where possible.

SP11 Package #1! :-D

So! My first SP11 package came! …. A week and a half ago. I’m a bad blogger and totally failed to post about it til now, but I did email my pal and gush a lot. *g* Also… I now, totally accidentally, know who she is! It’s because (a) she’s on my blogroll and Ravelry friends-list, (b) she really doesn’t live very far away from me, so even though all she put for a return address was a postcode, I recognised which town it was…. and (c) my suspicions were aroused because her real name was written on the little card that came with the scrummy hand-painted yarn she’d got me. So I asked her, and yes, it turns out she’s Janey. It’s kind of hilarious, because I was having such fun with the mystery aspect – not that knowing who she is has spoiled anything. But it’s fairly ironic that all those factors came together like that and gave it away. *g* Especially since I’m a relative newbie to the knit-blogging community and don’t know all that many people!

But anyway, on to the best bit: the PRESENTS! *mercenary* ;-)

Inside the box

I like the anticipation almost as much as the opening them up, so I took the box into my bedroom and sat on the bed to open it. When I opened it up, the gifts inside were beautifully wrapped in purple tissue paper and ribbon. So I carefully prodded them for a little while, and then took them out of the box and laid them on the bed…

Wrapped pressies

Oooooo, exciting! Then there was some more prodding, and eventually, I started opening them. *g* Of course, the Xandermog had to come and investigate.

Xander investigates the pressies

But there wasn’t anything edible for him, so he soon lost interest ;-) So, what did I get?

SP11 package 1

From the back: Thorntons fudge (omg yum: that didn’t last long!!). A wibbly-wobbly pen… because it has purple hair and therefore made Janey think of me! Thorntons strawberries and cream toffee (once again, yum!). Two balls of Debbie Bliss SoHo, because she’d noticed I haven’t yet tried any felting projects – and I do want to, so yay! A skein of gorgeous black and purple hand-painted sock yarn from Gemini Knits. A dinky little sheep notepad (cute!). A set of 2.5mm Brittany birch DPNS!!! An absolutely charming book of sheep pictures and verse. And last but certainly not least (except in size *g*), three of the cutest little sheep stitch markers in the WORLD. As you can see, they’re tiny – they’re for small needles too, so perfect for sock knitting. Yay! So here’s bigger pic of them. Look at their little faces!

Tiny wickle sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeps!

Isn’t that awesome? I don’t know what I love the most… the yarn, the sweets, the stationary / sheepy things are all brilliant, and the sock yarn just couldn’t be better colours for me! But I think perhaps the adorable stitch markers, and the DPNs which were on my mental luxury wishlist (and which I admit, I’ve spent an awful lot of time just stroking!) have to come out on top. Just! Janey, you’re the best pal ever – THANK YOU!! :-D

Fetching so far

Fetching wristwarmer cuffFetching is progressing nicely, and it’s an absolute pleasure to knit. I have found the cables a bit more fiddly that others that I’ve done in the past, for some reason, but it is a nice straightforward little pattern, and is coming out beautifully. And as you can see, the Posh Yarn Sophia 6-ply (in Mute) looks utterly scrummy.
FYI, the project stats are:
Pattern: Fetching by Cheryl Niamath, from Knitty (Summer 06).
Yarn: Posh Yarn Sophia 6-ply (100% cashmere) in Mute.
Needles: Set of 5 4mm DPNs.
I’m now, by the way, further up than shown in this pic – I’ll take another one when I’m significantly more along with it.
But for right now… I think I’m going to stretch my legs around the flat a bit, and get something to eat. Which reminds me, I wanted to make a shout-out to my lovely encouraging monitor, Lisa – thank you for your support! And I wish I could go and get some fresh air, but it’s ‘orrible and rainy, and 3am, so I guess that’ll have to wait til the morning. Food first, some stretches, then a shower. That’ll do me for now.


Skein Wars: Victory! (Click for larger version)So, I finally beat that skein of Eva Tuscany into submission and got it wound into a ball! Woohoo! However, I have to admit… I did resort to scissors. I tried for three whole days (on and off, not constantly, obviously) to detangle it. And I suppose I could have unwound the 1/3 I already had on the ball-winder. But that just seemed like the road to further tangling, so in the end I took a deep breath, and…. snipped. Once I’d done that, the detangling actually went dead fast, and as you can see I now have a lovely neat centre-pull ball. Two extra ends to be woven in, yes, but never mind.
So, I’ve been busily swatching away. I’ll be making the Forest Canopy Shawl with it, and as Eva 4ply’s not the same weight as the recommended yarn (which I think is a worsted weight), I needed to figure out which needle size I want. This is a pattern which is fairly friendly for using different weights of yarn, and gives lots of comprehensive information on the pre-knitting part of the process – three whole pages, in fact! Since this is my first big lace project (hats, socks, and even BP (which is ‘big’ but only a very simple lace pattern) don’t count) it’s nice to have clearly laid out instructions and suggestions like that.
Anyway! I started out with 4mm needles, but that gave me a gauge of 24×28, when what I was after was 22×14. I have no idea how that can be, actually – surely you normally get more rows to a gauge than stitches? Stitches are wider than they are high. I’m wondering if that’s a typo, and it should actually be 22×24? You know what? I think it has to be. I’ve just had a glance through every pattern I have to hand (which is quite a few, since I just printed a whole slew from Knitty), and 22sts x 24rows makes far more sense. Also, that’s the gauge I’ve now got by swatching on 4.5mm bamboos, and I like the way that knitted up as well. Drapey, but not too floppy.
Posh Yarn Eva 4ply 'Tuscany' (Click for larger version)So that’s what I’ve decided on: Forest Canopy shawl in Posh Yarn Eva 4ply ‘Tuscany’, on 4.5mm needles. As I mentioned above, I’m starting off on bamboo straights, but when it grows too big I’ll have to move it to circulars. I’ll need an 80cm one, I think, and I don’t actually have a 4.5mm one in that length.
I wonder if it’s worth getting a set of Denise’s or Boye Needlemasters? I’m drawn to the Boye ones, because they’re shiny. Literally shiny: multicoloured metallics. Shiiiiiiiiiinyyyyy. Plus, I think they have a couple more sizes than the Denise set. If I learned the Magic Loop technique, I could use them for the sock knitting as well, and not need to get the new DPNs that I was coveting. Anybody have them, and/or have any opinions on which might be better? Or if it’s worth it at all? This would also solve the possible problem I have with making Fetching from PY Sophia 6ply – I’m not sure that 4mm needles are going to get the right gauge for that. Although of course, going up to 4.5mm might make the fabric too floppy, in which case I’ll just have to get some 8ply instead. Maybe I should have gone for that in the first place.
Still, I spose there’s only one way to find out: SWATCH!