Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy Knitterly New Year!

New Year's Eve is upon us. I can't believe where this last year has gone. I've been spending time on Ravelry looking at my completed projects and also my stash, and have made a few New Year Resolutions. I've already told you about my 2009 Sock Challenge, so I hope to be able to show you a huge variety of socks this time next year. I've decided that I simply must go on a stashbust, so have joined Stashalong 2009 on Angel Yarns. I'm also planning to start knitting a Lizard Ridge blanket, using up my Silk Garden stash. I'd like to knit myself something more substantial than just socks and scarves too, so am on the lookout for a pattern to go with some Debbie Bliss Rialto in a gorgeous shade of aubergine. I'm actually looking forward to using up some of my stash. I don't know what it is about sock yarn. Maybe it's because you can buy a skein or two relatively cheaply, and have something utterly scrumptious to squish and admire. I'm going to try to keep a record of how much yarn I knit during the year, so have tracked down a gadget that should make things simple. Maybe I'll put £1 in a pot for each 100 metres I knit, for future woolly splurges?! Or does that defeat the whole idea of a stashbust, I wonder?! And how long will it be before I'm tempted to buy something?! I will confess all on here, I promise! In the mean time, have a very Happy and Healthy 2009, and Happy Knitting too!
Oh, I almost forgot, I finished my flappy ear hat yesterday. Knitted from stash (feels smug!), it's in Colinette Iona, and is lovely. My ears will be toasty warm on playground duty. No shots of me wearing it yet, as no one has been around to oblige. But here it is anyway .....

Monday, 29 December 2008

Addicted to scarves!

Addicted to scarves!

One of the things I have enjoyed knitting this year has been scarves. These are the ten I have finished during 2008. Some of them have been made as presents - infact, as I go through them, I see that half of them were made for someone else! That makes me feel a lot better! However, I am running out of space to hang them up. This was the first scarf I made, way back in November 2007, and it was this scarf that got me back into knitting after a very, very long gap.

It has been worn to death, and is starting to look a little tatty around the edges. Noro yarn is a bit like Marmite - you either love it or you hate it. And I am definitely in the former group. I just love the beautiful, vibrant colours, and enjoy seeing how the colour patterns develop. Yes, there are knots, and thin bits and thick bits, but it is magical. I'm currently knitting a Noro Striped Scarf, and the colour changes are keeping me entertained! And I have New Year plans for my stash of Silk Garden. All will be revealed come January 1st!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Dyeing to have fun!

I had a go at dyeing some sock yarn today. I gave Snoopydog a Kool Aid sock dyeing kit for Christmas, and bought one for myself at the same time. I got the kit from DT Crafts, and can thoroughly recommend them for an excellent service.

I started off by soaking the skein in water, with a few drops of washing up liquid added, until it was completely saturated. After squeezing out most of the water, I spread the yarn out on a table, and put bits of cling film underneath. I chose three colours (flavours?!) of Kool Aid - Orange, Lemon-Lime and Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade, and mixed two sachets of each with 150ml of water. Then using a syringe, I applied the dye to the wool, about 10ml at a time, letting it soak right in. Where one colour met another, I used my fingers to blend, so that there wouldn't be a hard line there. When the whole skein had been dyed, I wrapped it up in clingfilm and put it in a plastic box with the lid loosely on, and microwaved it for two minutes at a time on full blast. I did this three times, and the water coming from the yarn was relatively clear. I spread the yarn out to let it cool down, then rinsed it thoroughly, and allowed it to dry. It's pretty bright, but for a first attempt, I'm fairly pleased. I will knit it up into some socks in due course and let you see them!
Here is the finished skein, in all its glory!

It will make some very bright socks, just what's needed on these drab winter days!

I've also cast on a couple of new projects - some modified Monkeys (my January socks from Sock Challenge 2009), my Noro striped scarf, and a hat with earflaps using a beautiful yarn from Colinette. I'll update you on their progress later, or check them out on Ravelry.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Boxing Day Madness

We decided to test drive Mr Josiekitten's hat and scarf this morning. It was a sunny but cold day as we headed along the north Norfolk coast. There were crowds of people walking along the seafront at Cromer, and this is why......

................. the Boxing Day swim! It was bitterly cold and the wind off the North Sea made it feel even colder, but there was a big crowd of brave (mad?!) souls taking part. About 10 minutes after the swimmers had been for a dip, the beach looked like this........
Mr Josiekitten declared that his hat and scarf were mighty fine at keeping out the cold, and I felt suitably pleased with my festive offerings!

On the way home, we followed a trail of footprints......

I think whoever made these was in a hurry to get warm!
We came home and lit our new stove and were toasty warm in no time at all ......
I had some lovely gifts for Christmas. Amongst other things, Mr Josiekitten gave me the latest book by the Yarn Harlot, and I had a squishy parcel from my good friend Snoopydog - a skein of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend together with this pattern for a drop stitch scarf. Here's the yarn ......

It feels absolutely gorgeous, and I can't wait to cast on!

I have finally finished my 'Haven' scarf. I started knitting it in October when we were on holiday in Kos, but it got overtaken by Christmas knitting. I picked it up again on Christmas Eve, and hey presto, two days later, it's done! It is probably my most favourite scarf at the moment, and I'm looking forward to testing its snuggliness tomorrow, down on the beach. It's huge, and is shedding grey fibres all over my clothes! But I love it. Here's a couple of photos so you can see just how cosy it is .......
I've decided on my first pair of socks for my 2009 Sock Challenge - Monkeys. I've found a modified version on Ravelry, so am hoping that they will be large enough. The pattern has an extra 8 stitches, so fingers crossed! I'm really excited about this challenge, and hope that I will find lots of interesting patterns to knit.
Tomorrow, I'm hoping to try out my Kool Aid. You can be sure I'll let you know how I get on!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Last minute sprint to the finish line and beyond!

I finished Mr Josiekitten's knitted presents today, in the nick of time! He asked for a scarf and hat. I used the Ribs and Ruffles pattern from Misti Alpaca, cast on 27 stitches and omitted the ruffles! I used 6 skeins of Mirasol Sulka, which was lovely to knit with. I used shade 204, a deep chocolate brown colour. It's a mix of 60% merino wool, 20% alpaca and 20% silk. I'm very pleased with the scarf, and think that I may well 'borrow' it from time to time, as it goes perfectly with my brown cords and bodywarmer! The hat I am less happy with. It's based on the Harris hat, by Jane Ellison, and is knitted using one skein of Noro Iro yarn. I changed the pattern, and left off the reverse stocking stitch edging. It's a simple k2p2 ribbing, and I knitted it in the round so I wouldn't have a seam to sew up at the last minute! Although Noro isn't a cheap yarn, it looks a bit rustic next to the scarf, which feels so luxurious. I may well knit him another hat in the New Year. I have a skein of the Sulka left, but I'm not too sure about Mr Josiekitten being a matching hat and scarf kind of man!

The boyzies came outside to investigate, and gave the scarf the paws up for snugglability! They tried their hardest with their cutest, most pleading poses, but I turned a deaf ear on their requests for blankies knitted in Sulka though. Hand wash only - I don't think so! Hopefully, the large turkey sitting in the fridge will be some compensation!

Following yesterday's blog post, I have decided to set myself a challenge for 2009. I have picked out 12 skeins of sock yarn -one for each month - and I am going to knit each pair of socks using a different pattern, rather than the Violet Green sock generator that I usually use. I have a couple of sock books that should prove helpful: Vogue Knitting - the Ultimate Sock Book and Sensational Knitted Socks, so I am hoping to overcome my usual problem with resizing. It was a tricky choice, rummaging in the (large) box of sock yarn, but here's my final twelve:

2009 Sock Challenge!

I shall, no doubt, be making some other knitterly resolutions before January 1st. And I shall report back this time next year on the success of my 2009 Sock Challenge! Watch this space! In the meantime, have a very Happy Christmas, and at least one squishy parcel to open!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

A Year of Socks!

I love knitting socks! And I love sock yarn too! A large part of my stash is made up of lots of delicious skeins of sock yarn - even if I don't buy any at all for the next couple of years, I probably won't run out!!! There is something so magical about the way the colours appear - some of the yarns are a real work of art! I thought that knitting on dpns was going to be impossible, but over the course of this year, I've managed to make 15 pairs of socks (plus a little baby pair), so I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself. Here they are ..........

A Year of Socks!

Most of them have been knitted using the Violet Green Sock Generator pattern. I've also made a couple of the Waving not Drowning socks, again courtesy of Violet Green. My attempts using 'one size' patterns have been pretty awful! Both Monkeys and Jaywalkers ended up being frogged, as they were far too tight. I think that the yarn was jinxed!! Being tall, I have rather large, wide feet, and haven't got enough experience yet to play around with patterns to make them fit me! So that is one of my resolutions for next year - to try to knit a greater variety of sock designs! And I'd like to have a go at dyeing some sock yarn too. My Kool Aid is all ready and waiting, so maybe I'll get a chance to play around a bit over the Christmas holidays.

Monday, 15 December 2008

A squishy birthday!

It was my birthday last week, and I had some lovely presents. I still have them spread out, where I can gaze at them, and squish at regular intervals! I was given a copy of Victorian Lace Today, a book I have drooled over for some considerable time. The photos in the book are wonderful, and I shall try to find an 'easy' project to get me started. I have a skein of Posh laceweight yarn, all ready and waiting. I also now own a pair of sock blockers, so no more wrinkles for me! I was also given some Knitpicks cable needles, so I may be tempted to join in the Vivian Knitalong on the Angel Yarns forum. Two things scare me about this pattern - the zip, and how to lengthen the body and arms with all that cabling.

Three absolutely scrummy skeins of sock yarn .........................

And these cute labels to sew onto my finished woolly gifts.....

As you can see, I was thoroughly spoilt! Thank you very much!
Things have been very slow on the knitting front. School is very hectic, with much singing of carols and travelling to Bethlehem! And as I am responsible for the music in the school, I don't have time to breathe, let alone knit! I've finished my Christmas washcloths, and a scarf, and just need to make Mr Josiekitten a hat and scarf by Christmas day. Otherwise he'll be getting the yarn wrapped up! I can't wait for the holidays - only 4 more gettings up! Two weeks of knitting time! I hope to finish my Haven scarf, and also the Salsa cropped cardigan that has been on the needles for far too long. I'd also like to have another bash at Monkeys socks, making them bigger. Roll on Friday!!