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?

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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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Seasons may change

I’m kinda itching to knit at the moment, but I’m at the tricky stages of Crazy Stripes with bind offs and button bands and I need to be able to sit down and concentrate on it so as not to mess it up at a vital moment. And I have to be monogamous or it’ll end up in a wip pile forever more while I get distracted by new pretties. So knitting just ain’t happening at the moment.

In the meantime, I’m in more of a reading phase. I ploughed through 4 or 5 books while we were on holiday. A couple of them, admittedly, were actually children’s novels, so a fast read, but even so it was lovely to have the chance to just chill out with my nose in a book. I’m now back onto Game of Thrones. Having stalled a bit on the previous one, I’m now on to the final volume that’s currently published. I have a feeling I’m going to be a bit frustrated at the end of this one as the next one isn’t released yet, but hubby is catching me up a bit now, so maybe we can move over to the TV show instead.

Our holiday in Germany was great. The campsite had excellent facilities, the boys swam every day in the indoor pool and we loved the local area. The landscapes were stunning and the views spectacular. We did a lot of walking and went down to the local town of Saarburg a couple of times and even found a yarn shop there!

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I had a browse but restrained myself from buying as I know I’ve got some stashbusting to do, whenever I get the chance to start a new project.

We returned home to wilting tomatoes, a moderate sized pumpkin and a lush patch of unexpected autumn crocuses.

We moved in almost a year ago now, so we’ve nearly gone full seasonal cycle in the garden and as autumn approaches I know I’m in for a month or two of hard work raking leaves and chestnuts.

The boys have started their new school and seem to be settling in well, and I now have daytimes all to myself. I’ve been doing jobs and running errands this week, but once things shake down into the new routine, I’ll get the cardigan finished and then I can make a start on some new projects. My head is swimming with ideas, so it’ll be nice to have to time to actually execute some of them. I’ve also just finished sewing nametags onto the last of the school shirts. I’m so glad I made an early start on it and did it over several sessions instead of leaving everything to the last minute like I usually do!

Summer

Having struggled to fill it in previous years, this summer seems to have ended up packed full of activities and away time.

Shopping with friends for cardigan buttons and other goodies.

A little DIY in the kitchen and the saucepan lids have a new home.

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A return to the family ranch is always good for the soul.

The tomatoes are coming along well and we have a pumpkin that has continued growing beyond golf ball size.

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There’s also been lots of reading (Swallows and Amazons with Pumpkin is wonderful!), lots of sewing and still a few name labels to go! Lots of fun at the park and meeting friends, cinema, theatre, TV, Scrabble, all sorts! The summer isn’t over yet and there’s plenty more fun to be had.

Hope you’re enjoying yours!

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.

Edges

This week I have been out in the garden lots.

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Our lawn has a brick edging all the way round, but the gradual creep of grass and moss from one side, and dirt, bark, twigs and leaves from the other has obscured it over time. So off I went to the garden centre and acquired myself an edging iron and set to work. There’s a long way to go, but it looks better already, non?

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We also have four veg boxes which I’ve wanted to do something with since we moved in. A couple of months ago I got as far as digging over a couple of them and covering them with a net to keep the cats off, but they’d gotten considerably weedy again since then.

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I acquired a couple of veg plants at the garden centre – courgette, pepper, pumpkin – to complement the courgette I already had languishing on the kitchen windowsill, so I’ve dug over the veg box again and prepared it for the plants to go in.

Today, with the weather being so hot, I’ve combined a little more work with sitting in the shade doing some knitting. It’s been a while.

I finished the bind off along the bottom hem while we were on holiday though I’m not entirely happy with it. I kept getting lost in the sequence of steps, but ploughed on anyway. The result is something that I’m pretty sure is secure, but certainly isn’t pretty. I realised about halfway across just how bad it was looking but unfortunately, as it was a sewn bind off, I couldn’t see an easy way of unpicking what I’d already done. At that point though, I took a few minutes to really think through the process and learn how to read where I was in the sequence of steps and after that it got a lot better.

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Here it is, looking really bobbly and messy on the left and getting neater towards the right. It’s in the middle of the bottom hem so hopefully it won’t be tooooooo noticeable when I’m wearing it. At least now I understand what I’m doing, all the other edges should be a lot neater. Neckline next!

Bind off begins!

It’s happening!! At last, I’m finally actually doing the epic bind-off along the bottom of the Crazy Stripes cardigan.

I watched several different YouTube tutorials for tubular bind off in 1×1 rib (I think this one by VeryPink Knits is the clearest) and then took a very deep breath before cutting my yarn with the longest tail you’ve ever seen! Four times the length of the piece is recommended and I’m working on nearly 300 stitches here!

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As you can see, I have several strands through my yarn needle. I had to double the tail over a couple of times or I’d be walking halfway across the room to pull the tail through each stitch!

The first few stitches are a bit on the loose side. I’m hoping I can wiggle them a bit at the end to even them out a little. But generally it’s looking pretty good so far and I have two gym classes to sit through today so hopefully I’ll get a good way through!

How do you approach new techniques? Procrastinate for weeks and approach with caution, research and a deep breath? Or dive straight in?