That’s what friends are for!

Life’s been rather busy here of late. Suffice to say I’ve not had much time for crafting and even less for blogging. I’ve rehearsed and performed one show already this year and I have a musical nearing curtain up.

I’ve done a spot of flower arranging; my cardigan just needs binding off, buttons and blocking. The alpaca hat and scarf for my bestie is in a state of perpetual WIP – I’m not sure they’ll be done in time for wear before the weather warms up. Soz, C! I’ve missed Unravel Festival for this year, although I will be going to the Knitting and Stitching Show with my bestie in a couple of weeks time – excited, much? Thanks, C! (Anyone else going?) I’ve just been given a stack of costume bits to sew for the musical. But looooook what my bestie just brought back from holiday for me…

Ain’t she just the best!? Just gotta find time to knit them now…!

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Fear

What do you do when you’ve been working on a project for so long, and you’re so close to the end, but you have fear that it’s all totally wrong?

I love the pattern, I love the colours. In general I like how it looks. I’m terrified that it doesn’t fit well, the neckline is too wide, there is way too much ease around the body. I have no idea what blocking will do to it, whether it will grow or not, whether the sleeves will end up too long. I’m not sure I like the texture of the neck band. Will I even wear it once it’s done, if it ever gets done? Could I bring myself to rip the whole thing if I decide it’s just not right?

Is this a normal part of garment making or am I overthinking? I’m so close to finishing it, but so terrified of the end result not being what I want.

Good times!

I do enjoy Christmas. The run up is always a little crazy with school nativities and activities, parties, planning and shopping, decorating, preparing and wrapping. I’ve had rehearsals for two different shows as well as taking part in my church carol service – learning the harmonies for various carols has been a particular highlight!

I also ended up with various creative projects on the go too. Along with the apron for my nephew which I showed you last time…

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There was a fair isle hearts hat for my niece. I used the TinCanKnits Clayoquot Toque pattern as the starting point, but changed it up with a folded brim and my own design for the hearts.

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And a wheat bag for my sister in law, which I made from a little corduroy skirt I found in a charity shop. I used my mum’s sewing machine to sew it – she’s got an all singing, all dancing Janome machine that took a little getting used to, but sewing machine aspirations right there! – and filled it with wheat and homegrown lavender.

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There’s also been a fair amount of baking. Vanilla shortbread and slightly experimental apple and cinnamon cupcakes with caramel buttercream (I’ll be making those again!). My first ever meringue kisses made in a hurry to use up some egg whites before we went away for a few days, and my first ever Christmas pudding which fed the family on Christmas Day.

Fortunately, Christmas itself is a time to chill out and spend time relaxing with family and generally not doing too much except eat and wash up and eat some more and keep the kids entertained!

When we travel up to spend time with my family, Mr Jack and I like to spend time on the journey reflecting on the year past. It’s been a good one, with lots of things falling into place following the last couple of years of upheaval with house hunting, moving, school uncertainties etc. The boys are well settled at their new school, and we feel better rooted in our new house and town. I’ve surprisingly become a runner over the last year. I’m loving parkrun, and though I didn’t quite officially meet my target of a sub-30 minute 5k parkrun by Christmas, I have done sub-30 training runs and I’m not far off that at parkrun. I’ve also shed nearly 2 and a half stone thanks to Slimming World. I aimed to be at target by Christmas and was just a couple of pounds away. Technically that’s within the target range anyway, so I’ll call it a win! I feel very boring going on about food and pounds but ultimately I feel so much better for having done it and just for me!

I’ve been involved in some great theatre this year too and am so excited for what’s lined up for next year already. My first turn in  Shakespeare in February followed by a fun musical in March and then I’m booked to see both Harry Potter and Hamilton in London during April.

Then of course there’s also Unravel in Feb and the Knitting and Stitching show in March too. Plenty to be looking forward to.

For now though, I’m going to enjoy a few more days of food and family and a chance to not do much. Maybe I’ll manage to get this second crazy sleeve done before the year is out. Now that would be an achievement!

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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?

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.

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!