Duckie power!

Happy Friday, sports fans! (I don’t know if you actually are sports fans, but you could be, so I’m sticking with it).

I finally have something crafty that I can show you – huzzah! In just a few weeks there will be a slew of FO posts and hopefully happy recipients but until then, I have the little yellow ducks…

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(I like to think they are having a chat on my windowsill…”Quack quack?” “Quack, quack, quack quack.” “Quaaaack”. Photo by me)

Why little duckies? I hear you ask. Well, that’s a good question.

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(Going for a little sill-swim. Photo by me.)

A few months back we featured this duck pattern in Simply Knitting. The duck is obviously cute, but it’s also for a good cause.

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(They wanted to use my typewriter but, of course, that’s ridiculous (they have no fingers). So that’s why the picture is shocking. Adorable, but shocking. Photo by me.)

The Little Yellow Duck Project aims to raise awareness for blood, organ and bone marrow donation. This is such an important part of medicine and effects thousands of people every year. The point of these knitted (or crocheted or sewn, patterns available for all three) ducks is for them to be left in public places with a little tag that displays their name, the TYLDP website and tells the finder to take them home. It’s an exercise in mystery and intrigue that will hopefully result in getting more people registered as donors.

So…

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Here’s one of my ducks looking very coy nestled in the rosemary plants outside Ask in Bath….

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And here’s the other on a sculpture by the Abbey. This one even got a little shower before heading off to her new home! Her perch was a bit precarious, so I popped her somewhere safer before I left.

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I positioned these guys on my way to work yesterday morning, so I can wait to see if they have vanished today. Finger’s crossed!

The knitting pattern was designed by Alan Dart (love him) and so it was a joy to work from, easy to understand, and I don’t think mine is too far off his original. (I saw it in the flesh, it is cuter than mine, but it was made by Alan’s fair hand, so it was going to be.) Get your hands on all of the patterns at www.thelittleyellowduckproject.org/patterns and why not make some of your own ducks for unsuspecting strangers to take home?

I’m off to make a few more myself…

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Literature Crush

Well hey there! I know, I know, where have I been? Well, the making hasn’t stopped, per se, it’s just not the kind I can talk about. Lots of gifts and plenty of things for work have been jumping off my needles and out of my sewing machine but I can’t show you any of them. Yet.

Instead, let’s talk about books, shall we?

For quite some time now I’ve regarded myself as a strange literature graduate and geek. There are a lot of writers and texts that I haven’t come into contact with that, considering my education and interest, I really should have. When I started university it was Chaucer and Marlowe. As an adult in charge of her own reading (I know right? What a rebel) I’m discovering it’s so much more than that.

My latest discovery is Truman Capote. Oh Truman, where have you been all my life? The recommendation for Capote came to me in a round-about way. I was trawling through a friend’s blog archives (it’s not stalking, honest) and she made a passing comment about how much she loves Capote’s work. This was right before my birthday so I thought, what the heck, and asked for his short stories as a gift. Once unwrapped, the book took up residence on my shelf and gathered dust for a while. Shinier books and good weather stole my attention. For shame.

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But then I read Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (I’m only slightly obsessed with this book) and Capote is mentioned as a background character (you’ve gotta love a bit of meta-literature!) It reminded me that the book was waiting and so when I finished Ruta’s masterpiece, I turned to Truman.

Oh Truman.

His writing is lyrical without being fussy. He evokes his era so effortlessly, you are instantly transported to 40s America. He’s honest without being brutal and he touches on things that you didn’t even realise were true until he showed you. I haven’t even finished the collection of short stories and I’m hooked, addicted, obsessed!

In the introduction to my edition, Capote is discussed in parallel to Hemingway. I’ve been a Hemingway Groupie for some time now. My dissertation was a short story in his style and so I’ve read a huge whacking proportion of his work. I love it. Yes, he’s a misogynist and I’m not condoning that. I get sick of his pathetic female characters. But by the same token, I get sick of pathetic male characters in other literature. When I want to wallow in the depressing, the dark and the gritty, I turn to Papa. But now, when I want a rosy hue to the difficult things, when I want to feel like there’s still good underneath all the crap, I have Capote.

Thanks Truman, you’re a babe.

P.S. My copy of the book has a photo of Capote on the cover. I find this a little unsettling. He has very probing eyes. A little too probing for my bedside table…

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Tea time!

Howdy y’all. This is just a very brief little post…

Fancy reading something about a spot of tea? I’ve started blogging for Cosy Tea (as well as this blog, don’t worry). Check out my first post!

 

 

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Well that was productive

Happy Bank Holiday Monday!

I do love a long weekend, nothing quite beats the feeling on a Sunday night of knowing you don’t have to go into work the next day. Don’t-cha think?

There’s also the lie-ins, the good food and, you guessed it, all that knitting time. And this weekend I’ve really made the most of all that knitting time, finishing all three (that’s right three!) of my Works In Progress.

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The silk top finished it’s blocking…

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…the Madelinetosh shawl has grown somewhat…

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…and my magical dream socks are finally done!

It’s a lot to take in. I know. Let’s work in reverse. These bloody socks. They’ve been on my needles for around 6 months. That’s a long old time for a pair of socks. I had a misfire, pulling back sock number one to start again with more stitches, and then I just got a bit bored of them. Odd, isn’t it? To get sick of multi-coloured, sparkly things (Ooh La La by A Stash Addict, to be exact). But I did. Then there was the fact that it was my lunchtime project, which only gave me 45 minutes of knitting at a time, so it’s no surprise really that I didn’t ever make much progress. But here we are. Half a year later they are done, a bit snugger than I would like, but then they still need a good block so let’s stay positive, people!

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(It’s so bloody hard to take good photos of your own feet! Photo by me.)

Remember my Multnomah shawl? I used just shy of a skein of Madelintosh sock (purchased on honeymoon) and I loved it. With a bit of wear though, I discovered it was a little small for the way I wanted to wear it – round the front, neckerchief stylie. So I undid the cast-off, picked up the stitches and added another set of 5 pattern repeats. It had a slightly hurried block (I needed to hoover where it was pinned out) but it looks perfect, see!

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(Cheesy grin for my accomplishment. Photo by me.)

Last but not least. My beauty. My shining glory. The best thing I have ever knitted. My Purl Bee Summer Sweater. I LOVE IT. Yes the caps are necessary. I put it on the first time yesterday and it fits perfectly. I was stunned, Steven was stunned – he even said “Wow that looks really good” and he never says that about my hand-knits! The Debbie Bliss Silk is light, soft and glorious to wear. It all came together.

I added bust darts, to increase the finished chest measurement by 10cm. I also increased the sleeves by 13 stitches (I only meant to increase by 8, but my maths went a bit screwy – I’m glad my maths went a bit screwy, the extra space is very welcome). Both adaptations seem to have worked wonders and I, for one, am shocked in a very happy way.

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I had way more yarn than the pattern called for, so I thought I’d be laughing, but it turned out that I had to unravel my tension square to finish the last row and cast off for the neckline. Clearly my added fabric ate up a whole heck of a lot of yarn. It just means that there are some contrasting finishes on the neck and sleeves. Finishes, by the way, that happen to be my first ever attached I-cords.

Let me just take a moment to say that I love attached I-cords. They are therapeutic and steady and I don’t have to pick up a gazillion stitches. (Two things I dislike greatly in knitting: picking up stitches and sewing pieces together, closely followed by casting on.) Not only were they wonderful to work, they were the very last finishing touch – no seams! My kind of pattern.

And, because I promised, here’s my take on the Purl Bee’s photo. It’s rubbish, but hey.

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So now the question is, what to knit next? I have 390 yards of Madelinetosh left and I can’t decide what it’s destined to be. I’ve learned recently that I don’t really wear hats, gloves or mitts, and I don’t really want to knit things I won’t wear. So will it be a cowl? Another, different shawl? Or super posh socks? What do you guys think?

I hope your weekends were lovely, and filled with plenty of crafty fun!

P.S. I haven’t forgotten the duckies! They need a photo shoot of their own…

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Just passing through…

…to say Hi before work. Hi!

Well, here in Bath the sun has buggered off. Thanks, sun. Just in time for the bank holiday weekend…

But to brighten up your Friday morning a bit, I’ve got some progress to show you on my Purl Bee Silken Straw Summer Sweater. It’s blocking!

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Yup, that’s a shoddy, low light, 10-at-night photo of my greeny-blue top on a blue towel. Sorry guys, I realised it’s hard to see, but the light wasn’t much better this morning and the towel was still blue, so this will have to do! Besides, it’s only a teaser, to whet your appetite for proper photos, or as proper as mine get. (There’s even debris in the back ground – one high-heeled shoe, a blow dryer cable and the heels of some steel-toe capped boots. Plus my big toe. Hi big toe! Shoddy photography, must do better.)

It’s still damp at the moment, which means that it should be dry sometime over the weekend and I can get on with wearing it! It looks massive on the towel, but sometimes I forget there’s a lot of me to cover, so it might actually be alright. If it’s too big it will be the first thing I’ve ever knitted in more than 10 years that is. So I, for one, doubt it.

Anyway, more details and the full lowdown of my adaptations, with better pictures (I promise) soon!

Enjoy the long weekend, even if the weather is a bit grim.

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Well, hi there!

Hello lovely readers!

I hope you are all enjoying this stunning weather, and are reading this post on some kind of mobile device that allows you to be outdoors, squinting to read, because you can’t waste the sunshine in this country! Seriously, you don’t know how long it’s going to last, so grab it with both hands.

Anyway, I’ve just had a wonderful week off, with lots of relaxing, a fair few touristy activities and a good chunk of knitting. In amongst celebrating our first wedding anniversary, living it up Bath style and eating some glorious food, I’ve knitted the bulk of my summer top! There’s now just a couple of attached I-cord edgings, a soak and a block and we’re done! I’m beyond excited. (Yes, I know that sounds sad, sshh).

It’s not finished yet, so no pictures yet, I want you to see it when it’s pretty. For now, here are some of my holiday snaps and the promise of finished silk tops, and duckies to come. That’s right, duckies. Is your interest piqued? It should be…

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Bluebells in Aylesbury.

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The Dairy at Waddesdon Manor.

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Perfect rainbow in Aylesbury.

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One year.

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Artsy rain smudge in Aylesbury.

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The paper roses Steven made. From his imagination. He’s incredible.

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The Roman Baths.

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Farleigh Hungerford Castle.

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Pretty skies at the castle.

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Flowers sprouting from the stone.

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What survives of the tower.

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Artistic window shot.

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Pretty flowers. Niki tells me they are Irises. Thanks  Niki!

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The view from Hedgemead Park, Bath.

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Another view from Hedgemead Park, Bath.

A beautiful week, with some gorgeous weather. See you soon for some knitting fun!

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Ultimate Carbon Power!

It’s Thursday. Which means it’s nearly the weekend. It’s nearly the long, three-day May Day bank holiday weekend. You’d think with the four-day Easter weekend so recently behind us  I’d be able to manage a full week at work quite easily. You’d be wrong. I’m so ready for another long weekend.

Anyway, enough of that. I realised that a lot of my posts recently have been “Look what I made!” Nothing wrong with that, of course, I make a lot of stuff and I’m sure you guys like to see photos. But I thought I might break things up a bit with something different. So today I’m going to give my two pence about KnitPro Karbonz interchangeables.

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Here’s an official promo photo. Swanky eh? Find stockists here.

These little bad boys are on loan to me from work, so I can knit swatches for review and any other little bits and bobs to help the mag along. But in between I’ve been using them for my own projects too, because they are awesome and why wouldn’t you?

As a knitter of about 12 years, I’ve used more circulars and interchangeables in the last year than in the rest of my knitting life put together. That has a lot to do with the fact that I’ve now been working at Simply Knitting for a year, surrounded by skilled and experienced knitters who inspire and help me to learn new things pretty much every day. It’s  one of my favourite things about the job. So when I say I’ve used my fair share of circular needles, what I mean is I’ve used about 5 different brands, but in a relatively short space of time, so it feels like a lot more.

What is the point of that ramble? These are the best circulars I’ve ever used.

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(Photo by me. Do you know how hard it is to take a photo of something shiny in weird light on your phone? Hard.)

The tip is perfect for me, it has a definite point without being so sharp that it could be classed as a weapon and without hurting my finger as I push it through stitches. The cable is flexible and strong and quite fine, so even when you use the smallest needle (3mm) your stitches glide nicely. The join is very simple and very smooth – the only time I’ve had any stitches snag is when I’ve been lazy and I haven’t tightened the joins properly (they started to come undone, so I had to push all the stitches past and tighten it properly – see what happens when you live the Slapdash life?). You get all the tools for tightening and loosening the interchangeables in the set, so that’s nice and easy too. The carbon fibre material that the needles are made of is light and very slick, so your stitches (no matter what fibre, and I’ve used a lot of fibres with them) won’t stick.

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(Photo by me. Three of the four cables that come with the set.)

The full set that I’ve got has needle sizes 3mm-6mm, so you’ve got the most commonly used sizes there. It comes in it’s own case, but the zip on my one was broken, so they’ve been transported into a different needle roll. I don’t see that as a problem, it’s the needles that matter to me.

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(Photo by me. Blurry crotch shot (oo-er) of my silk top. It has grown!)

I used them for my Vine cardigan and I’m currently using them for my silk top, and I haven’t had any problems at all. I will say that I tried to do Magic Loop with them and struggle, so I think I’ll stick to my KnitPro Nova Metal for that as they have a much more malleable cable.

So that’s what I think. I hope you’ve found this useful – let me know if you want anything else reviewed for your reading pleasure. Until next time, amigos…

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