We all fall down part 2.

When it comes to unfinished projects I have several that eye me from their bags and fill me sometimes with joy and sometimes with dread.

Pretty cardigan is too small for me.

Oops! Too small!

There is the top down cardigan that was too small when I first made it and had to be frogged back to above the waist. It’s almost done only the ribbing and buttons to go. It’s a very cute little garment made of hand dyed DK weight in shades of lilac, mauve, pink and grey. It’s also nowhere near going to fit me now. I’ve had to stop running due to an ankle injury and I’ve been working long hours and keeping my energy up with cake, chocolate and takeaways with inevitable results. I don’t mind getting fatter… much… but I do mind finishing a project after all this time only to find it won’t wrap around me. There’s little incentive to do the last bits of fiddly dull finishing work.

Then there’s the much more promising slouchy teal sweater. This is a simple two piece short sleaved layering piece with a boat neck and probably some decorative buttons on the shoulder which I have yet to find. I am in love with this project which I just know will be stylish and wearable and exactly what I need for the spring. But it’s all in plain slip stitch stockinette equivalent. There’s enough counting that I can’t really do it at knit night (and I’ve been too busy for knit night anyway recently) but it’s also too dull really to want to do at home. I need to just pick it up and do a row or two a day and then it’ll jog along nicely. Soon, soon.

There’s the Neverending Shrug of Doom which started out as a way to show off some gorgeous hand dyed silk yarn and has morphed into something rare and terrible with a life of its own. Nothing about this project has gone right. I have started off and frogged the silk itself several times. Then I got the silk right by deciding to use it as a collar for the shrug and bought some plain black wool for the body. Now the body is being a nuisance! I gave it an initial shot and got half way through before trying to pin it all togerther an see how it looked. Disastrous! The wool pulled on the silk and the collar looked mishapen and the torso hung away from my body in weird directions. This was not the glamourous vintage-inspired Hollywood diva-esque garment I had envisaged. This was a mess.

Madeline Tosh shawlette

So pretty but I'm halfway through the first skein already...

I found a fix for now. I am using measurements from a shrug I own that fits to make the pieces up in slip stitch. Except that at some point my tension changed and I made the second half of the front 1.5 times the size of the first half with the same yarn and hook. I may be the only person in the world who crochets even looser when she is stressed! Rip it, rip it and I’m trying again. I will succeed!

I have  the Sirdar Big Softie cushion covers to do. Just big spirals to sew together and fill. These will be lots of fun but I need to buy an extra ball of each colour first and as I bought the original balls in a shop on the other side of London I will have to phone up and order them to be sent over. I have started one of these.

I started a shawlette with the Madeline Tosh that Greentrianglegirl of A Playful Day gave me for my birthday then realised I needed another two skeins. Do they sell merino light in London? I should be so lucky! I will probably end up trading on Ravelry with someone in the States.

Crochet shawl motif pattern

Crochet shawl motif pattern

I have two lace shawls in process. One is a 1920s style shawl based on this square motif pattern that I have extended outwards and outwards.  The other is the final product that I am making with the recycled yarn I talked about in this post. I decided in the end to throw most of it out because winding it all without a swift and ballwinder would have been hellish. What I’ve got left will make a nice semicircular shawl and I’m using a doily pattern with a leaves and flowers theme to do that.

I’m making a cowl type neckwarmer for my sister in beeeeaaaaauuuutiful soft alpaca. This is a copy of the one I made for my mum for Christmas and should actually be done really soon. I can do this one on the train so it’s getting along nicely. I hope to post a joint celebration of both versions soon.

Finally there’s the fab handbag that I am storming through and need to find handles for. In my mind I’m thinking dark bamboo or semicircular wood. The yarn, not my usual taste, is a gift from lovely, lovely Rachel. (Cf the photos of my glazed carrot dish.) It’s Rowan Colourscape in the eye-popping Candy Pink colourway. Between the brightness and the chunkiness though it’s turning into a rocking handbag and the combination of self-striping yarn with tweed stitch is a winner.

I think that’s all my current UFOs. Of course I have two unstarted projects, a cardy for my sister and a lace scarf for a friend. The yarn is there, the will is there, but I feel that would be a new quantum leap in start-itis. I have decided that until at least one of the big projects is gone I won’t get going on another. Wish me luck though. I feel I have many miles before dawn…


We all fall down part 1.

Tosh Merino Light in Jade

Beautiful birthday gift Madeline Tosh Merino Light

When I first started crocheting I had two things I was determined not to do. I was not going to acquire stash that did not have an associated project and I was not going to acquire unfinished objects that would languish, mere mothbait, in bags around my flat.

Partly this was fear of clutter. I’m not the world’s tidiest person and I have a hatred of accumulating stuff as a result.The fewer things I own the fewer things can end up on the floor or in piles on every flat surface.

Partly it was just frugality. I’ve been living on a fairly tight budget for the last few years and the idea of building up a stash of yarn when I really need an emergency fund was scary to me. Partly it was a hatred of the part of myself that is a starter and not a finisher.  The part that enters projects ablaze with enthusiasm and whines when things get rough.

Oh but I am only human and there are so many pretty patterns in the world (too many of them in my head) and there are many, many pretty yarns. Oh and the yarn shops will find a way to tempt. With their sales and their last-chance-to-buys and their skeins that aren’t quite big enough for a whole project so you have to buy two. And don’t get me started about enabling friends…

JC Rennie at Nest

JC Rennie at Nest for my slouchy sweater

I now have two clear plastic boxes full of yarn. That’s apart from the skeins in project bags halfway through being made into projects. Oh and the big plastic bag of Sirdar Big Softie that I will be making into cushion covers.

I’ve sorted the yarn in boxes  into two types. Box A is the good box. Box A contains all the yarns that I know what I want to do with. My neverending shrug project and my two current lace shawls (and the other one that I have designed but not started) and my slouchy jumper and the last bit of ribbing for my mauve cardigan.

Box B. Now Box B is a different matter. Box B is the naughty box. Box B is the box that sits in the corner mocking me with it’s fibres rare and strange saying “you bought us, now what are you going to do with us?” Box B contains the little packets of sale yarn. The ends of skeins of past projects. The mohair and the handspun that I have been offered as gifts and couldn’t bear to refuse. The bright shiny tencel that I might be going to make into motifs, if I didn’t kind of hate motifs. Box B is a joker and a tease. Box B is everything I was afraid of.


Mums are brilliant!

Well, mine is anyway.

I have just had a big bowl of apple crumble because my mum came up to see my sister and me just after her birthday and she brought us gifts!

Lots of yummy fruit and veg from the garden. Mmmm…

So I now have loads of tomatos, some little squashes which will be perfect for stuffing and baking. Although if I’m feeling lazy I’ll  just slice ’em and roast ’em in lots of oil. And apples… LOTS of apples.

My parents live in the countryside and have multiple apple trees and so this year we have a bumper crop. I see apple sauce in my future. And at least one more crumble. Another reason why my mum’s brilliant is that she is a fantastic cook . She taught me to make crumbles. Pretty much my favourite dessert.

I haven’t taken a picture of the crumble because, well,  you know what apple crumble looks like. You also know that I don’t have a good enough camera to make it look pretty. I really should invest at some point. If I’m going to write a food blog, having a reasonable camera is kind of a good idea.

The best thing about making apple crumble is that you can have it for breakfast. Coffee and apple crumble. If you haven’t done it, you really should. Especially if like me you use 50/50 flour and oats for the crumble, so you can kind of kid yourself it’s like having porridge (but better)!

Folded crocus scarf

Folded crocus scarf

Anyway, so it being Mama’s birthday El and I got together and spent an hour or so hunting through patterns on Ravelry and narrowing down our choices. El had a much clearer idea of our mother’s taste than I do and made suggestions of what I should look for, while I plugged ideas into the database and pondered yarn choices and yardages.

We decided on Laura Rintala’s Crocus Scarf but decided to do as many extra pattern repeats as we could get out fo the yarn because we wanted something a bit more luxurious looking than the photos.

Then we popped down to Loop in Islington and caused chaos pulling all the DK and sock yarn out of the shelves and failing to stack it back again properly. (I think everyone does this but it’s hard not to feel self-conscious as you take your hand away and it all comes cascading down on your head… again!) Eventually El came to a decision and we went with the classic: Malabrigo sock in Botticelli Red.

Now I don’t need to wax lyrical about Malabrigo sock yarn. If you’re reading this blog the chances are you know about Malabrigo sock yarn. Pure, soft, soft merino lusciousness and beeeeeyooooootiful colours. Sigh.

The whole scarf

The whole scarf

So I set to work and found that this was a really addictive and fun pattern. It’s simple to memorise but interesting enough to  give you that ‘just one more row’ feeling. The way the pattern works up is cool and it looks far better in real life than in any photo I’ve yet seen. Congratulations Laura for a job well done.

Having done a couple of extra pattern repeats I wasn’t in a position to  do the edging that the pattern recommends for each end so instead I just did a quick row of UK dc/US sc down the sides to neaten things up. A light blocking and we were done.

This was a very quick and satisfying project and thankfully, yes, she likes it. I want to make sure she gets at least another birthday present or two but for now I’m really happy to have got this done and that it really was a joint effort with El in design and me in manufacture. And if you’re thinking of making a quick lace scarf I definitely recommend the pattern. Fast, fun and a great result.


Busy busy

Adrienne's Noro Windowpane Scarf

Adrienne's Noro Windowpane Scarf

Hallo

Long time no see! Sorry I’ve been out of touch for a while but my work life has picked up substantially so I’m out and about a lot and haven’t had a chance to catch up with you all. I do apologise!

So… what’s been happening? Well, I finished a cute scarf for the lovely Elly of The Vintage Cookbook Trials. Of course being a complete dope I forgot to take a photo before I gave it to her. But the pattern was the Noro Windowpane Scarf by Adrienne Lash and I made it in Yarn to Knit 100% Bluefaced Leicester laceweight in the colourway Red.

It’s a simple churn through sort of a pattern. What A Playful Day calls a ‘potato chippy pattern’. The kind of thing that you can do on the train, which I have been as I now have about an hour and a quarter’s commute each way three days a week.

What’s been amazing is that I bought one skein of this yarn and have now finished two projects from it. Yet the yarn still hasn’t run out. I’m now making a third lace scarf with this single skein! Briliant stuff!

Violet Points Scarf

Violet Points Scarf

My new project which I am halfway through is a Violet Points Scarf by Annette Petavy. I love the simplicity of the design and am mulling ways to modify the stitch pattern slightly and create something of my own based on it.

I also finished a slip stitch crochet cardigan that I have been working on. So where are the pics? I hear you cry. Well, I blocked it. Tried it on and realised that I shouldn’t have decreased under the bust as I had made it too small for my tummy.

Siiiiiiiiiiigh!

Also I kind of made a mess of the sleeves too. So I have frogged it back to just under the bust and removed the sleeves  and I’m giving it another go.

At least I know the yarn looks lovely in the pattern though, so eventually I will be happy with it. I am determined!

Wish me luck!


New pretty things…

So I’ve finished the patterns I was designing on the tube when I had my conversation with the charming book-binder the other day. They are a little bit out of season, especially given what a gorgeous spring we’re having, but they’re done and they are, if I say so myself, as cute as pie. Look!

Hat and gloves for Martina's kits

Hat and gloves for Martina's kits

The stitch is a new one I made up which I think I’m going to name the raised shell stitch. It’s actually quite simple to do and gives this neat effect of making the shells stand out from the fabric each one making a kind of little pocket.

In fact I think two nice ways to personalise this pattern would be:

1. To edge the hat/gloves and the edges of the shells with a contrasting colour yarnto make them stand out more.

2.  To sew a small button or bead into the opening of the pocket of each shell making it look sort of like a flowerbud.

Now as much as I’d love to give all you lovely people this pattern for free I’m afraid I’ve made a promise with this one. It’s going to my dear friend Martina at Yarn To Knit. She’s going to be making these up into kits with each one getting the pattern for the hat or the gloves, a hook and enough of her beautiful hand dyed DK yarn to make them up.

I’m going to visit Martina tomorrow, to take pretty photos as my camera is just the diddly one in my phone. (You might have noticed the less than stellar quality of my pictures.) It’s been hard work making patterns to spec but also one that has spurred me on and I have learnt a great deal.

The hat and gloves are going to Martina for samples and we’ll both be at the Spitalfields City Farm Sheep and Wool Fayre so you can come and see them in real life, meet us and say ‘hi’ and get your hands on some of her scumptious yarn. I’d love to see you there.

Modelling Hebe Hat

Modelling Hebe Hat