Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Secret Pal 8 Questionnaire No.2

1) What is your favorite season of the year?
I would have to say Winter or maybe Autumn. I used to be a summer girl and a real sun worshipper but now I find it too hot and I really love wool, mohair, angora, cashmere, tweed, leather, suede and all the other winter staples too much to be a summer girl. (I am now of course hankering for my winter wardrobe despite the heatwave!)

2) Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Hmmm. I really haven't had a holiday in a long time (violins please!) as my trips away are taken up with conferences these days (oh woe is me), but I do adore New York and San Francisco. I'm no longer a fan of sunny holidays where you just lie around all day, so cities suit me.

3) If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be?
Definitely Russia. I have had a long hankering to see Moscow and StPetersburg, but I'd also love to see Australia, China and Peru - oh and right now I keep fantasizing about a trip to Venice with my beau.

4) If you could pick any job, and be paid well, what would it be?
Hmmm, well I don't have any aspirations to do very much other than what I am training to do, so I would like to be an art critic/curator/historian and be well paid (which of course is extremely unlikely in the visual arts). Otherwise I guess everyone would like to be a travel writer and see the world for free...

5) If you were going on vacation for 1 week, and had to take ONLY one project with you, what would it be?
Right now I am champing at the bit to knit a Clapotis and am trying to make myself wait until I can find the yarn I'm in love with (Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb in 'Valentine'), and the stitch markers (unless I do a purl stitch), and the time to really enjoy it, so a fictitious holiday (THERE WILL BE NO WEEK LONG VACATION FOR ME ANY TIME SOON) would be perfect!

6) If you won a shopping spree to your favorite Yarn shop, what would you get??
Well, Lion and Lamb in 'Valentine' of course, I think Clapotis needs 3 skeins. In addition to that I'd also like some more sock yarn and a couple of balls of Kidsilk Haze in a pale pink colour to knit a gift for a friend. I'd probably also buy Stephanie Pearl McPhee's Knitting Rules and some of those crazy over size needles that are like broom handles. But I really don't want a stash that takes over my flat, so I have rather modest desires ;-)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Knit a River

Have you knitted your squares for Knit a River?
(top squre by Mummy, bottom square by me)

Wonderful One Skein Wonder

I have finished knitting Stefanie Japel's One Skein Wonder in Hip Knits Aran weight silk in Peony for my friend Katie for her birthday. The OSW seems to have been a huge hit all over the knitting blog-o-sphere and I'm a bit late in jumping on the bandwagon, but I'm soooooooooo glad I did!

This was a really quick and simple knit. At first I didn't think the pattern explained itself properly, but then I thoroughly enjoyed how it sort of sprang into shape!

The Aran silk was lovely to knit with too, it was so soft and the colours (which I spotted on one of annarella's projects) are so sweet and sugary that it seemed like perfect summer knitting.

Oh and I got to use the circular needle sent to me by my Secret Pal and knit in the round on circular needles for the first time. I really liked the final part of the pattern where you pick up stitches all the way round the garment and knit an inch of rib (I did nearly 2 inches because I was having so much fun) in the round.

The only problem is it doesn't photograph well when not being worn, so the picture above is of it folded after I gently blocked it. Actually, I blocked it by spraying it and wearing it until it was dry. Because you knit the ribbing in the round it seemed silly to block the garment flat as it would distort the beautiful shape, and as Katie is the same size as me, I though this would be the best way and I rather think I was right. I hope to post another picture of her wearing it at some point though, so that its cuteness can be fully appreciated.

I have also printed up some labels to use on my knitted gifts and so the picture below is of it all wrapped up and ready for its new owner.
Now I just wish I had some more Hip Knits aran silk so that I could knit myself one!!!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I Knit London

Last Thursday I joined the I Knit London group who were meeting outside at the National Theatre to take in some Freddie-Mercury-tribute juggling (don’t ask; it was kind of funny though). I Knit London is a nomadic knitting group who meet twice monthly at venues all across London. This time there wasn’t a huge turn out, but I am reliably informed that this was due to the fact it wasn’t in a pub; the people there however were lovely. I went with Louise and we both took the opportunity to knit our blue squares for the Knit a River Campaign, which was started by Gerard Allt, (also the founder of I Knit London).

This was, for me anyway, a really nice way to meet people and knit. I liked the fact that knitting was just something that brought us together to convene in a particular location, and, although we did talk about knitting a lot, it wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all of our existences! I definitely plan to go again.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Trip to Stash Yarns

On Saturday morning Louise and I made a mad dash to the new shop Stash Yarns in Putney to check out what it had on offer. I am excited to say that it was a really great shop (even if it is a bit of a trek for me to get to). I bought the person I am spoiling through Secret Pal her final gift and I finally got myself a copy of Knit.1 and also I picked up a copy of KnitScene. I would have loved to have bought some yarn, but I've been spending a bit much recently and Louise and I didn't really have long enough as we were due at a meeting for NODE.London, which is an arts org and season we are both involved with.

What was most exciting was that there were 2 Clapotis' (or is it Clapotii?) knitted up and seeing them in the flesh (yarn) convinced me that I must make one! I have of course seen other peoples' all over the blogosphere and have looked at the pattern lustfully a few times, but seeing one finished, getting to touch the Lion and Lamb yarn (and even knit with it as Stash Yarns have yarn already on the needles so you can have a go!), and being told that it isn't too hard for a beginner spurred me on. Now all I have to do is find some pretty stitch markers because I'll need 18!!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Heavenly Hearts and Needle Cases

Now, many of my friends think I am difficult to buy gifts for and constantly complain as it nears my birthday, but I want this post to be concrete proof that not only am I easy to buy/make for, but you don't even have to know me!!!

Yesterday a new parcel arrived from my Secret Pal and oh my goodness was it good?! !!!

Inside the jiffy were lots of parcel all wrapped up in pretty tissue paper and as I unveiled each one, I can honestly say I gasped with delight. Firstly she made me the most perfect needle cases (one for long straights and one for DPNs). I have never seen a needle case that I have liked, so had - up until now - decided that I would have to cope without one, but now I am the proud owner of not just one, but two!!! The fabric they are made from, which by the way absolutely looks like the type I fabric I would have chosen myself, is a mottled lilac and pink with gold metallic sort of splatterings over the top. They really are just divine and I am so excited to go to my knitting group tomorrow and show them off!

Next in my parcel I found a rosewood circular needle in 3.5mm which my SP says is her favourite size of needle to use. I have yet to use circs and knit in the round, so this was great too, and to have rosewood is pure luxury!

After that, I unwrapped a yummy little wooden heart and a set of heart cards. Now for those who don't know, I collect hearts in all shapes, sizes and formats and have hundreds all over my flat. The cards are fabulous, and as you can see from the picture below have not been unwrapped so that they stay in mint condition until I know where they are going (I am planning to have all my heart cards framed at some point and then I want to cover an entire wall with them - although I might need to move to a bigger flat first). The wooden heart is testing out locations round my lounge. I will probably put it in my coffee table which has a glass top (and a big drawer which I have filled with hearts and art catalogues so that you can see them in the table), but the reflections make it difficult to photograph so I snapped it with the cards.

Finally, I discovered a beautiful set of beaded and felted hearts in lilac, purple and red which were all strung on twisted wire so that they could be hung up. The incredible thing about these hearts is that they absolutely, positively look like something that would already live in my flat! When I showed my Mummy them she said 'how did she know?', and I have to say I am stunned at how spot on they are. I know I would have bought them if I saw them in a shop, so its very exciting to have them just arrive in a parcel!

I have already chosen their spot, forced my (tall) boyfriend into putting a tack in the wall to hang them on and have put them up! Its a shame, however, that the pictures below don't do them justice and don't show quite as well as they should how perfectly the colours go with my lounge which is lilac, purple and red! Oh and by the way, I have hung them next to my pride and joy which is a painting by the artist Peter Monkman (of a Big Brother contestant).

So, in conclusion, I feel the most spoilt person in the entire world (the knitting world at least) and I rather think I have the best Secret Pal in the world (the knitting world at least), so I want to say sorry to everyone else that they don't have my Secret Pal and THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to my Secret Pal who is just amazing!!!!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Sock Research

Ugh, I'm having problems with blogger again. I wrote a post on my recent activities but when I publish it it messes up the layout of my entire blog. I know the pictures are the right size, so I just don't get it...

Anyway, in addition to knitting the things it the (above mentioned) post which I will one day actually publish. I have also been looking at all things sock related in order to learn as much as possible before I take the sock plunge again. I have to admit I quite like the idea of always have a pair of socks on the go as they make quite hypnotic knitting.

I found this aritcle on Knitty which provides lots of helpful hints and tips, and a new pal at my knitting group has given me an Opal pattern to look at. Then I found a guide (scroll to bottom of GK site) on Get Knitted which helps you calculate socks (I think the fact my first pair fitted was a bit of a fluke). Finally, I have been gazing at lots of sock yarns. Now I definitely prefer variegated ones that knit up all different colours, or self striping, because plain colours look a bit boring to me - unless you are knitting a complicated pattern like lace and I don't know how to do that yet. I also loved how warm the wool from my first pair was and I think that that should be the benefit of hand knitted socks, so I've been looking for (easy care) wool, cashmere and angora.

Monday, July 03, 2006

No Such Thing as a Free Knitting Pattern?

OK, so the title of this post is going a bit far, of course there is such a thing as a free knitting pattern (in fact there are loads - hurrah for Knitty) but when you are a beginner, you can't tell which ones are correct and which ones contain mistakes - until you knit them!

So for another project (more on that later) I am knitting wash cloths (or posh flannels). I found several patterns online which looked cute, printed them up and then bought a range of Sirdar 100% cotton and sat down with some 4mm needles in the hideous heat of Sunday...

The pattern was for a Waffle Face Cloth, but after knitting the first 6 rows of this pattern I realised that when it says:

Rows 1-5 K5, P5 (all the way)
Rows 6-10 P5, K5 (all the way) Repeat all rows (1-10) twice
Repeat rows 1-5 one more time

It should say:

Row 1: k5, p5
Row 2: P5, K5
Row 3: K5, P5
Row 4: P5, K5
Row 5: K5, P5

Row 6: K5, P5
Row 7: P5, K5
Row 8: K5, P5
Row 9: P5, K5
Row 10: K5, P5

And that it is actually these rows that set the pattern!!!

So after writing this down just so that I was clear, I churned out 2 lovely cloths, one in white and one in a pale pink colour that Sirdar call Flamingo. I think they look really good and I like the checkered pattern, and I'm even proud of myself that I knew what the pattern should say, but I'm disappointed it wasn't right in the first place.

Then I set out to knit a Bobble Wash Cloth, which is cute and a bit more intricate. Although this pattern is correct (which is a bonus), for a beginner (which lets face it you probably are if you even need a pattern to knit a wash cloth!), I think instead of saying:

Bobble Pattern: Row 1: (Right Side) K5, Purl until last 5 sts, K5.
Row 2: K5, *(K1, P1, K1) in next stitch, P3tog*, repeat between *'s to last 5sts, K5.
Row 3: K5, P to last 5 sts, K5.
Row 4: K5, *P3tog, (K1, P1, K1) in next stitch, * repeat between *'s to last 5 sts, K5.

It would be easier if it said:

Row 1: (Right Side) K5, Purl until last 5 sts, K5.
Row 2: K5, *(K1, P1, K1) in next stitch, P3tog*, repeat between *'s to last 8sts, P3tog, K5.
Row 3: K5, P to last 5 sts, K5.
Row 4: K5, *P3tog, (K1, P1, K1) in next stitch, * repeat between *'s to last 6 sts, K1, P1, K1 in next stitch, K5.

I'm probably being pedantic, but its nice to know that the rows of bobbles end differently to the way they start i.e. if they start with 'P3tog' they end with 'K1, P1, K1 in next stitch'.

Anyway, wash cloths make really relaxing knitting! And if you are at all interested, this site is the cutest (read kitschest) site I've found for patterns!