Sunday, March 01, 2015

February in Review

Historically, February is the month when I lose courage in my own convictions, find myself close to tears for no good reason, and am likely to spend at least one day fast asleep.  This February was pretty stressful, but I managed to stay well and did not do anything really* stupid - result!
New yarn from FO and Dye on Etsy
I kept to my pledge not to buy shop coffee (that's two whole months!  £100 saved!)
But... I bought 4 second-hand books, 4 skeins of yarn, a project bag and 4 fat quarters of fabric.
I decided not to renew my subscription to Knit Now magazine, and am considering replacing it with Inside Crochet which excites me far more, even though I have not done any crochet recently.

Finished Neon Monkey socks
I did some tentative sewing, which made me feel like sewing is something I might do again.

Finished Puerperium baby cardi
Knitting occupied my hands and my thoughts for a large part of the month, and I finished 2 shawls, a baby cardigan and a pair of socks.  One of those shawls was a test knit - yay!

New project:  Argent Curl
Reading
I read less this month than in January.  A History of Rain and The Interestings are the only library books I spent significant time with and neither is finished.  No audiobook this month, which was a definite gap in my life.  However, just yesterday I started reading Women in Clothes and I am hooked.  It is the outcome of a survey of hundreds of women from many nationalities and backgrounds about their relationship with clothes.  It is absolutely fascinating,  I am only 50 pages into the 514 pages, but it possible that I will spend today reading this and doing nothing else... well, except knitting.  A day can't go by without my knitting.

New project:  Regia Arne and Carlos socks
Myeloma news
In Myeloma news, FL is still doing well on Pomalidomide.  If I hold my breath much longer I will faint.  I really need to try to relax about his health.  He is coming to the conclusion that he might not be safe on the roads any more... but without the car he is stranded on the farm.
Which leads to the thought that I may not be able to continue to work full time, or we might have to move, or both.  And none of this can be resolved easily or quickly.

*So I cut my hair, dyed my fringe lilac and went "lalala" like any sensible person would.
 
 Typical February behaviour ;)

PS I kept one side as a bob... so as long as I stay on the right side of the boss... ie his left side, all will be well!  Heheheh.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

FO: Full Spectrum Caesious Curl by Hunter Hammersen

Are you looking for an easy shawl pattern to use up every last scrap of a totally mad variegated skein of wondrous rainbow beauty?
Here it is!
This is the Caesious pattern from Hunter Hammersen's Curls.
I used my precious skein of Highland Handmades Sugar Maple Sock in the Fruju colourway.  This was sold to help towards SillyFru's medical bills after she was diagnosed with Hairy Cell Leukemia.

While I knew that this yarn would stripe up beautifully as a sock or glove, I was keen to make the best possible use of the available yardage.
I saved just enough yarn to knit a Barn Raising Square.

I wanted something big and bold and beautiful.
And I got it!
It's squooshy too! :)

I knitted 4 rows at a time, here and there.
Once I got going, it grew remarkably quickly.
And I learned how to do a Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off (using Ysolda's video) to finish.
Yay!  New skillz!
But I didn't realise just how big it was until it was blocked.
Fabulous!



Now I just need to decide which shawl to knit next, because obviously I am working my way through the book...
Are you a Curl addict yet?


Sunday, February 22, 2015

I Don't Want No Scrubs

It was a helluva week at work.
All my pent-up rage and frustration was put to good use - I stuck pins in things, I cut things up and I knit up a storm.
And there was some retail therapy too.

Where shall I begin?
I finished my Caesious Curl, out of Highland Handmades Sugar Maple Sock yarn in the Fruju colourway.  It is blocking now.
I reserved enough of the yarn to make a square for my late lamented Barn Raising Quilt.
I started this project in November 2009.
No, that is not a typo.  8 squares knitted in 5 years. - what a speed demon!
All the cool kids are making Barn Raising Squares right now.  Let's see how long they stick at it, eh? ;)
This yarn is so  lovely I wanted to make sure I used every last scrap.
I have been working steadily on my second Neon Monkey sock.  I am saving the final push for the hospital waiting room on Tuesday.
The smell of the finish line was my excuse for buying another skein of Regia self-patterning sock yarn.
If you haven't come across Arne and Carlos's limited edition Regia collaboration yet, I suggest you act  quickly - it is selling out fast!  I fell for this Summer Night colourway (3657) and scoured the internet to find a ball - from McAree yarns in Edinburgh.  I ordered it on Friday and it was with me on Saturday - you can't do better than that!  It is hard to tell from this picture, but I have every reason to believe it is going to knit up to look like Norwegian colourwork = love!

Also in this week's post:  a new project bag from Sewn By Lindsay on Etsy.  Her USP is a clear plastic window with a card inside to note project details upon - clever idea!
I have been ogling this brogues and ditsy-print fabric combination for months, watching the currency conversion fluctuate up and down until I finally could wait no longer.
I am calling this is my Albert Nobbs bag.
It is just the right size for a one-skein shawl project.

But I know what you are really waiting to see - the sewing!
Yes, folks, it's true.  I sewed something.  Woo hoo!
This is the Solo Top from Oki-Style patterns.

I used a simple cotton lawn in a dangerously uniform-like forest green.
It is a colour I love, but in this style it has a distinct whiff of disinfectant.
I don't want No Scrubs
This is my prototype / muslin.  The real thing will be made of silk.
Darts on the right side!
I know, exciting, right?
Could this blog actually be starting to get interesting again?

But if anyone can solve the mystery of how ugly the back looks, please let me know...?

Quite apart from the fact that I need a haircut - what is that v-shaped fold doing there?
Just as well it's too cold here to wear it without a cardigan.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

FO: Convergent - a Test Knit Shawl

Ta da!
Finally I can reveal the results of my 12-day test-knitting adventure!
This is the Convergent Shawl by Josh Ryks of Geoknittrix Designs, presenter of the Sword of a Knitter podcast.
The moment I saw the yarns that Josh was using for his prototype, I knew I had to test-knit the design, sight unseen.  Because as you know, I am all about neon at the moment!

The funny thing is, that there turquoise blue is not actually intended to be glow-in-the-dark.
But set against the neon yellow flashes in the Online sock yarn I used for Colour A, it absolutely blazes with electricity!
This shawl has a very clever construction.
I won't divulge the secret sauce, but you can probably see that it changes direction partway through.
My job as a test-knitter was to make sure that the instructions as written produced the intended shape.
I was working "blind", without any pictures of Josh's version, which was an interesting challenge. And a good one!
I enjoyed the interactivity of checking the maths and comparing notes with Josh, alongside the discipline of doing what I was told and reporting back with the results.
And the results are pretty spectacular!
I love the textures and the geometry of this beast.
It is a tricky to get a photograph of the whole thing.
I am tempted to pin it on the wall as a piece of art!

But really I just want to wear it :)

Stats:
Pattern:  Convergent by Josh Ryks, Geoknittrix
Yarn:  100g of OnLine Supersocke 100 Neon Color Two (01731) and about 60g of Atomic City Fibers sock yarn in the colour Oppenheimer's Blue Cadillac.
I only had to break into the second 50g skein of the turquoise after the first edge of the i-cord bind-off, so you could do it with 50g if you were willing to bind off in a contrasting yarn - a mini skein perhaps?
But I came pretty close to using the whole 100g ball of the Supersocke.

Process:
A whole lot of fun!
It is one of those "episodic" patterns that keep the knitter interested with something new to do and think about every time they pick it up.
I can testify that you can trust this designer to know what he is talking about - just do what you are told and you will get a beautiful shawl out of it!

PS:  The shawl pin was a gift.  I'm sorry I don't know where it came from, but there are similar ones on Etsy.
And yes, that's my new navv sweater-dress from Gather and See.
Huge!  Comfy! Just try to prise me out of it!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fog Bound

I have finished my Test Knit and it is really rather glorious - I can't wait to show you when the pattern goes live!
But what this means is that all my other knitting, reading and thinking has been on hold.
I have built up quite a backlog of library books on short-term loans, so unless I devote myself to those, they will have to be returned unread.  I suppose I can reserve them again.
As you can see, I also ordered Coop Knits Socks Volume 2.
Of course I did!
I have reached the stage where I have more Rachel Coopey patterns to knit than I have sock yarn in the stash - woo hoo!
That doesn't actually mean I need to buy more sock yarn.
Ah well.
These two colours of Yarn Yard Marchmont are from another knitter's destash on Ravelry.
Legbar (above) is a lovely semi-solid of blue-ish greys with some natural cream shining through.
Waverley (below) is a far more saturated murky smoky greenish blue-ish grey that I have coveted for a long time.
My excuse for buying these is that I already had three purples in the same base - all lovely, but far too close to each other to make meaningful colourwork.
But together with the greys?
Fab.

It has been a foggy weekend here.
FL has mostly been asleep.
I have mostly been knitting.
Hopefully next time I write I will be able to share pictures of The Awesome! ;)

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Underlings and Secret Things

We had our first proper snow of the winter, and the farm road is still a mess of snow and ice, even though there is no weather left in the city.
At the same time, we had a series of unfortunate events:  a leaking kitchen skylight, a blown-open bathroom skylight (fancy some snow in your morning shower?!), then the handle came off the oven door, my exhaust pipe started rattling alarmingly and I thought it was going to fall off, FL got his car stuck in the mud, and the chimney was blocked.  So there was a moment there when we were being assaulted on all sides by wind, rain and snow, with no fire, an inaccessible access road, one unreliable car and one in the bog, no mail or rubbish collections and... yeah.  It was all a bit much.
So I have been appreciating a gradual return to normality.

There has been lots of knitting in these parts, but my main project is a secret test knit - whoo! 
I can show you the yarn I am using (above), but that's your lot - oh how mysterious and fascinating! ;)

So progress on Kex has stalled yet again.  Sorry Kex!
But once the secret is off my needles, I will be cracking on with the blanket border.
That's all I have left to do - woo hoo!
In sewing news...
I desperately need new underlings, so pulled myself together to order some supplies and do some actual stitching.
This is the Grace pattern by Ohhh Lulu. 
I saw Jessica's pants, and decided to copy her :)
This is my test pair, using oddments from the stash.
These took me 3 hours to make, because I was determined to make a proper job of my first sewing of 2015.

Verdict?
They seem to fit, though I am not sure that quilting weight cotton is the best choice for underwear.
I have ordered some flowery flannel, to make some winter warmers - with any luck, that should chase the snow away!

Sunday, February 01, 2015

January in Review

Red Bird of Happiness, made from handspun
Literature inhaled:
Upstairs at the Party -  Linda Grant - pretty good but nothing compared to...
Euphoria -  Lily King - the last few paragraphs broke my heart.
The Paying Guests - Sarah Waters - as audio book, compelling listening
The Beautiful Wreck - Larissa Brown - still reading it, still loving it.  I might have to buy a print copy to keep forever.  Is it possible that I have fallen in love with Old Norse?
History of the Rain - Niall Williams - started today, un-put-downable, laugh-out-loud funny and yet sad because of the circumstances of its bedridden narrator.
First Neon Monkey sock

Music adored:
July Talk, playing it on a loop at my desk and in the car.  I am obsessed.

Coffee bought in shops or cafes:
ZERO!!!!  That means I am £2.50 x 20 working days = £50 better off than usual - woo hoo!

Puerperium cardigan for work colleague's sprog
Unethical Clothes bought:  3 pairs of trousers from Mango
Unethical Clothes sent back:  3 pairs of trousers from Mango (clownishly big in two sizes)
Outcome:  a complaint to Mango about their shockingly poor customer service.  The free returns label sends your goods to a 3rd party shipping company in the UK which then batches up parcels and sends them on to Spain.  This can take 3 weeks.  If your refund does not come through, you have to contact the shipping company with your Royal Mail reference and ask them for a copy of their shipping label for you to fax (FAX!) to Mango!  This is inefficient at best, and the potential for fraud is enormous.  None of this is explained on their website.
Refunds received:  1 so far (it took 3 weeks).  2 still waiting.

It probably serves me right for breaking my pledge not to shop with unethical retailers.
Not to shop full stop.
However....

Ethical Clothes Bought:
One absolutely wonderful wool / cashmere big baggy sweater / dress made in a small workshop in Portugal for Beaumont Organic, purchased from Gather and See in their sale at a massively reduced price.  I am almost afraid to put it on because I don't think I will ever take it off again.  You'll see it in action soon, I promise!
Ethical sweater :)

Yarn bought:
None.  But lots of knitting progress made, as the pictures show.

Fabric bought:
None. Just as well, as I haven't done any sewing yet this year.  It can't be long now.  I am going slightly nuts wearing the same things all the time and I don't seem to have the skillz or patience to buy regular clothes.

Myeloma update:
In the words of the Consultant, FL's latest Freelite result is "Not perfect, but controlled".  Hmm.
He has had new pain in his ribs, but it is under control.
The Consultant prescribed Pomalidomide again - how much longer will he get away with this?  Pomalidomide is our only hope, but we know those Freelite numbers are critical and the Consultant's evasive answer concerns me.
Keep on taking the tablets.

And keep knitting.