FO Round Up!

Well hi there, readerinos!

How are you guys doing? It’s been manic around these parts recently. Birthdays, friends visiting and crazy work deadlines have taken up all of my energy. Hence the radio silence from me in Blogland. Many apologies for that my lovelies. I’d like to say I’m going to be back on it…but…I’m going on holiday on Friday so boo-yah! Sun, sea and sand here I come and my god do I need it.

Anyway, just to keep you topped up with my special brand of entertainment, I thought I’d fill you in on a few of my FOs before I saunter off into the sunset.

Remember those gifts I was knitting? The crafty things I couldn’t tell you about? They’re done! All done, dusted and happily living with their recipients. So here’s what I was stitching…

First off, Steven got some more woollen wonders.

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(Snuggly mitts. Photo by me.)

These are the Purl Bee’s cuffed hand warmers. When we visited Purl Soho last May, I bought the yarn to make myself a pair and Steven chose these colours for his own set. They’re actually a charcoal and pale grey combo but the photo makes them look quite purple. I think it’s the background I used. Anyway, he might have to do a bit of mending already because I’m such a bad sewer and the top, paler part seems to be coming away already. Oops…

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(Cosy cowl. Photo by me.)

This is a slightly shorter version of the GAP-tastic cowl by Jan Geigley. I hunted high and low for the right yarn to make this cowl. I knew that Steven found wool itchy, so that was out. I also knew that I needed something chunky in a grey that would co-ordinate well with the mitts and that part proved to be damn tricky. In the end KnitPicks Swish saved my bacon. 100% superwash Merino wool with the squashiest ply I’ve ever experienced. I found just two skeins in the perfect colour at Great British Yarns and snapped them up. There wasn’t enough to make the original epic-sized cowl, but it’s long enough to wrap around Steven’s neck twice and is snuggly cosy so I’m happy!

He requested both of these (such a well trained boy) and I was more than happy to oblige. He may have asked for the mitts over a year ago when we were on our honeymoon but, hey, at least he got them at some point. Plus, the cowl was a much more recent request so I’m sure I get some points for that. It’s also a huge improvement from last year when the socks that were meant for his birthday became Christmas presents. More than four months later. Yeah.

I also finished this colourful wonder…

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(So stripy! Photo by me)

My sister-in-law Charlotte (hi Charlotte!) mentioned in passing that she would like a poncho for our family holiday to Spain (this Friday. Did I mention that?) Last week was her 21st birthday and so I jumped at the opportunity to give her something homemade for her coming-of-age. I’ve never knitted a poncho before but I thought if she was going to wear a poncho it would have to be a full-on poncho. Hence the textured garter stitch ribs, eyelet pattern and loud colour scheme. It’s based on the Summer Poncho by Karen Stelzer, although I tweaked it a little bit to suit my yarn needs and also worked the first few rows flat to create a kind of collar.

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(In all its poncho-y glory. Photo by me.)

The best part? I’m pretty sure she liked it…

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(Happy Birthday Char-lotte! Photo by Matt McCauley)

So that’s what’s been flying off my needles in the last month or so. I’ve also been chipping away at something for work that STILL isn’t done (which is entirely my fault) that I will show you pictures of when the issue is on sale. I will be overjoyed when that little time-suck is finished.

Since finishing all these gifts I’ve cast on a cardigan for me (oooh, I know, right?) and I’m thinking about a shawl project to take with me on my holibobs…just in case I feel the need to knit. You know when the sun gets too much for me and I’ve had enough sangria. Thinking about it, maybe I don’t need a holiday knitting project… Do you guys take knitting away with you?

Anyway, catch you on the flip side chaps!

(P.S. I think it’s quite impressive that I only mentioned my holiday four times. You may disagree :-P)

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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…

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…

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.

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!

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…

Welcome to the world!

Morning campers! Happy Belated Easter, the chocolatey-est, and therefore one of my favourite celebratory weekends. Also, 4 day weekend! Bliss. I hope you all had suitably lazy and sugary weekends. I for one will never grow out of an Easter egg hunt, and thankfully it seems neither will my mum!

Of course Easter isn’t just about chocolate. It’s also about teeny tiny lambs popping up everywhere and chicks peep-peeping into the world and one of my friends contributed to that part of Easter with a fresh little baby; her second son Hayden.

I’ve never knitted for a baby before. I was a bad neglectful friend when Lucie had her first baby, and I didn’t knit little Eythan anything, for which I still feel bad. So it was all different for Hayden. I chose a nice zesty spearmint in a practical machine-washable acrylic and made this.

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A teeny tiny trio of warmth. (Photo by me.)

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I can’t decide if the hat is my favourite… (Photo by me.)

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…or the bootees. (Photo by me.)

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I think the mittens look like little fishies. (Photo by me.)

I chose classic roll-top bootees from a book, The Knitter’s Bible (which really is my bible) and went for a matching rolly hat that I found on Ravelry. I did adapt the hat a little, because I wasn’t in the mood to knit in the round. It translated to flat well enough and I think it’s rather dashing – it even looks a bit like a mini top hat in that photo! The mittens are the least matchy, because without a bit of ribbing those suckers would never stay on.

Anyway, they whizzed off in the post to Lucie and Chris the other day and I hope everyone likes them. I’m not sure they’ll be big enough, but it’s the thought that counts right? Soft things are lovely to have around no matter what.

Welcome to the world, Hayden! And congratulations to mummy and daddy and big bro Eythan.