Collective crafting

Tonight I had an impromptu craft evening with my best friend and fellow craft enthusiast.

We had a lovely chilled out evening, listening to music and chatting over her dining  table; me with my knitting, and her on the sewing machine. Check out the cute cupcake pouch she made for me!

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I took my cardigan and we looked at the sleeve length and decided it needs a couple more rows before the cuff. I should be able to get that done in the next couple of days as long as I don’t get distracted, (I may have cast on another colourwork hat…) and then on to the second sleeve. The end is surely in sight now!

I’ve even done quite well out of the evening. She’s tried knitting and crochet, but sewing is definitely her forte, so she handed me a bag of the most gorgeous alpaca fluff to finish off a scarf she’d been working on, and to knit her a matching hat! Lucky me!

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Fair Isle first

I knit another hat. I knit a stranded colourwork hat. I can knit Fair Isle! Woah! This opens up a whole load of new knitting adventures!

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This is the free pattern Clayoquot Toque from Tin Can Knits. They’ve just run a week long blog series on using colour in knitting, which inspired me to have a go at something a bit different from usual. Their post of tips for knitting fair isle was really helpful.

I used Stylecraft Special DK as I have a lot of that in my stash, in a variety of colours. After reading some of the posts on colour choosing strategies, I picked 3 colours that I thought would work well together and would suit Pumpkin, and got knitting. I was surprised by how easy it was once I worked out how to flick with one colour and pick with the other. Rows of three colours were more tricky, but there’s only two of those so it wasn’t too much of a challenge. I loved seeing the pattern emerge and will definitely be knitting more fair isle in the future. Even the floats on the reverse side look quite pretty!

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Pumpkin wanted a pompom added after I took these photos. The pom pom was not entirely successful but it’ll do for now. Pumpkin likes it.

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Now I think I’d better get back to those crazy annoying sleeves.

Leaves

I’ve had a quiet week, the like of which I’ve not known for quite some time! The usual school runs and children’s activities have happened as normal, but I’ve had no rehearsals and I’ve run no errands and done no shopping. I needed some downtime. That’s not to say I’ve done nothing at all. I’ve been working on two projects, one of which is still in progress, but I hope to reveal the finished object soon.

The second was a very quick win. I’ve been itching to cast on something different for a long time but have been steadfastly resisting as I want Crazy Stripes finished. I’m so bored of the sleeves though that I’m just not knitting at all. On Tuesday evening I gave in and dug a ball of yarn out of my stash. This yarn was destined to be a hat for Pickle. I bought it a couple of years ago with the intention of making him a Benjamin Bunny hat a la CBeebies Peter Rabbit cartoon. I tried coming up with my own pattern for it but after a couple of attempts, for reasons I don’t recall any more – it probably didn’t fit or didn’t look right – it got frogged and banished to the stash box.

On Tuesday it reappeared, a quick trawl of Ravelry was executed and knitting recommenced. By Thursday evening, it was off the needles and on Pickle’s head.

It’s called Leaf Hat available free on Ravelry. Its a lovely pattern to knit, but unfortunately isnt terribly well written. The guage seems off, although I was adjusting for a difference in yarn weight and for size, and the crown decrease instructions are particularly unclear. Fortunately, reading back through other completed projects often proved useful and someone had taken the time to rewrite that part of the pattern, so it was no bother in the end.

Pickle loves it and it fits well. I’d definitely consider making another! Perfect for cold weather. Maybe he’ll help with raking up the leaves in the garden over the weekend!

 

Oh October!

It’s October again. October always seems to be when silly season begins and then, well, it’s non stop til Christmas really.

Rehearsals are stepping up a gear for the show I’m performing in at the end of the month. We still have our little knitting corner when we’re not required for a particular scene, and generally it’s all very enjoyable.

I’ve also just auditioned for two more shows – a musical and a play – and have ended up being cast in the role I wanted for both of them! They’re like buses. I did heaps of auditions in the summer and was only cast in one and now two come along at once! Typical! Should be lots of fun though, as long as I don’t wear myself out with all the rehearsals!

As for the knitting, it continues, just very very slowly, not helped by the fact that one of the new needle tips I bought was already catching in the grain so I had to get back to the shop to exchange it. Fortunately Knitpro have a great policy of replacing faulty needles so it didn’t cost me any more.

I took a calculated approach to the remaining grey yarn. I weighed and divided it into two balls, then I cast on and knit a cuff to a length that would match the other edges of the cardigan. I weighed the cuff and the remaining yarn to work out how much I had left for stripes. Then I ripped the cuff out again and got to work. I managed to do the two stripes at the top of the sleeve out of what was left and know I still have enough for the cuffs at the end.

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I’ve started striping in the lighter grey yarn and quite like how it’s looking so far, I’m just not sure how it will look with the whole sleeve done in a different grey. Time will tell.

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As if I needed anything else to work on, I just spotted a small but solid pine coffee table outside a charity shop which I thought I could tidy up by stripping it down and painting or waxing it. We don’t have a coffee table in our living room and I’ve wanted one for ages and at only 8 quid and with some paint leftover from the desk I did a couple of years ago, it couldn’t hurt to try and see what happens. Just gotta find the time to do it around everything else!

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The eagle-eyed amongst you will also have spotted that we’ve done absolutely nothing more with the study. Still a sidelined work in progress. As is the garden currently. It’s silly season out there too as the garden is gradually getting covered with leaves and chestnuts and I remember how much hard work it took to keep on top of it last year. Speaking of which, it’s very nearly a whole year since we moved in here and I just can’t fathom where all that time has gone!

I’m still running. After doing very little over the summer it actually felt great to get back to parkrun. My times were much slower than back in July, and then I ran a couple with the boys – both of them have now run/walked a full 5k – so I was pleasantly surprised to get a new PB last week when I ran it on my own again. Unfortunately rehearsals mean I can’t do parkrun for the next couple of weeks but I’ll keep up the weekday running and get back to it as soon as I can.

The icing on the cake of October is of course Pumpkin’s birthday. He’s very into Mario Kart at the moment, since Mr Jack busted out the old GameCube – retro gaming! – so ideas on a postcard please, for how to make a Mario Kart cake without it being insanely complicated!

I must say, I’m very much looking forward to half term. The boys are exhausted from new school adjustments but they’ll be packed off to the grandparents for half the week while I’ll be rehearsing all hours. But a change is as good as a rest, and I’ll hopefully get a few lie ins.

What do you have going on in October?

Solutions

Yesterday I discovered a new yarn shop. My car was in for a service and MOT so I walked nearly an hour to get there, (which was very enjoyable until the pavement ran out and I had to walk on the road and hop onto the verge every time a car passed.) Unfortunately they didnt stock knitpro needle tips. They had a good selection of yarn though so I hoiked out my cardigan and had a chat with the proprietress about possible solutions to my lack of yarn dilemma. I ended up buying a skein of sock yarn in a lighter grey which I will try incorporating into the sleeve stripes to see how it looks. I’m anticipating it looking too odd to work but I’ll try it and if I hate it I have something else in mind for the grey sock yarn.

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Since the needles were still lacking, I paid a visit to my regular yarn shop today. They had the knitpro tips I was after and I also picked up some 2.25 fixed circulars, since anything less than 3mm is a bit too delicate for the knitpros. I also grabbed a spool of knit-in elastic for socks. I wore my one and only pair of hand knit socks yesterday evening and decided that they would probably benefit from a little elastic so i though I’d try it in whatever future pair I make.

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It’s not going well

The button bands are finally finished. I knitted and frogged, knitted again, tinked, knitted and tinked some more before I was finally happy with it, but its all cast off.

The only problem now is that I am rapidly running out of yarn. I have plenty of the teal colour – in fact, a whole skein I’ve not started yet – but this is all I have left of the grey.

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I roughly measured it this afternoon and I reckon there’s just under 50m there. That’s barely going to be enough to do the two cuffs, let alone any stripes down the sleeves. I guess I’m going to have to do the sleeves as a solid colour, but its not really the look I was going for. I was hoping to at least have enough grey to do a handful of stripes. I did try to get hold of another skein of grey, but its hand dyed and seemingly a very unusual shade of grey as I couldn’t find anything that came even close to matching.

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To make matters worse, I just managed to snap one of my knitpro needles. This is not going well.

What would you do with the sleeves?

Buttons and bands

One button band is finally bound off! I used the tubular bind off again, which I’ve really got the hang of now. I just remind myself how it goes using the Very Pink Knits Tubular Bind Off tutorial, http://verypink.com/2011/12/01/tubular-bind-off/ and that gets me started.

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Now I need to pick up the second band and decide where the buttonholes need to be.

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New rehearsals

I’ve just started rehearsing for my next show. With the exception of one or two fellow cast members, the whole team is new to me, though largely not new to each other. I have to admit, walking into a rehearsal room for the first time can be a pretty terrifying experience.

Fortunately, pretty early on, I spotted a small pile of knitting sitting by someone’s bag in the corner and I knew I’d be at home there.  Not one, but two knitters in fact, and everyone else seems lovely and friendly too. Now I just need to get my cardigan to the point that I can take it to rehearsals with me and knit sleeves between scenes.

And breathe

I’m so glad its finally the holidays, I feel like I might have a chance to catch my breath.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of busy. My head has been full to bursting of all the dates and information I needed to remember. This time of year is always kinda crazy with school stuff, but with two children starting new schools in september, this year has been mad. All the usual school events, sports days, school trips, fundraising activities, as well as leavers assemblies and parties and transition days for visiting new schools and the associated paperwork and thought processes involved in making sure nothing gets missed. I’m sure some things have been missed.

But we’ve finally made it to the end of term. We’ve said our goodbyes to school, teachers and friends, and cut the last tie to our old town. When we moved house last year, this was the worst case scenario – having to commute back to our old town for Pumpkin’s school until the very end of the academic year – but I think its actually been a good thing for Pumpkin in the end as he gets to leave at the same time as everyone else and participate in all the leavers activities. Personally though, I’m so happy to be done with the commuting and we’ll save a fortune in petrol costs! I can’t wait to be able to walk to school again in September!

Crafting, as usual, has taken a back seat. I have been working on the first button band, but I’m not happy with how it sits at the neckline and hemline edges. I’m currently debating whether it will block out or whether I need to frog and start again. Sigh. I think it may just need one extra stitch adding in at each end to push the ends of the row out to level with the bind off edge of the neck and hem. I dont have much experience of finishing projects like this, so any suggestions?

The veggies in the garden are coming along well, though something has started munching the mini courgettes.

Ive also had another audition and am waiting to hear what comes of that. Im expecting it to be fifth time unlucky, but ya never know!

Running is also continuing to happen. Today is the first time in several weeks that I’ve not been to the local parkrun. In seven runs I’ve got my time down from over 40mins to just over 33mins. I was really surprised by achieving that personal best last week! I’m still aiming for a sub30 by Christmas, just gotta keep the motivation going.

What’s life like for you right now?

A tough day

I’m feeling a little discombobulated today. Pumpkin didn’t want to go to school today as all of his friends are off to visit their new junior school, finding out which class and which house they will be in when they start there in September. Pumpkin is one of only two children who won’t be going with them.

Since we moved house last October, it’s been a continuing waiting game to find out where he will be going to school in September, and, though he does have a place at a local school, we’re still waiting to find out whether he can go to the same school that his brother will be starting in September. It’s been stressful. It still is.

So I feel for Pumpkin today, but am also feeling a bit wobbly myself. I have been in need of distraction. Last night I found myself trawling Ravelry for a new project. I nearly went and raided my stash for something suitable this morning, but decided instead to utilise the drive to work on something and started casting off the neckline of Crazy Stripes. An hour later and it was done!

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I don’t think I can face an hour at the park after school listening to the other mummies chirp about what house their child is in, so maybe I’ll take the boys out for a treat somewhere. I think we’ll both have done well to get through the day.