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!

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?

Garden pompoms

Isn’t it nice to have some sunshine again! I’m enjoying my garden at the moment, especially these pompom pops of purple chives which are right outside my kitchen doors. I do love alliums, and it’s still exciting seeing what my new garden has to offer me as the seasons progress.

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Knitting has been sorely lacking here of late. I am gearing up to do a tubular bind off of the bottom ribbing of my crazy stripes, but haven’t managed to summon the courage or find the time to dedicate to it properly yet. Soon, I hope.

Theatrics continue. I have auditioned for a play and got a recall, but am still waiting to hear whether I’ve been cast. This week also sees the start of workshops for the next full-scale musical production my local society are doing. It will be good to get stuck into something again soon.

I’m also trying to get back into running again. I did quite well at the start of the year, running fairly regularly and getting up to 3k routes, with the aim of taking part in a parkrun 5k event. I stalled at 3k though and life and (not wanting to cripple myself before) shows got in the way, as they do. So, after several months of not running at all, I did the sensible thing and just decided to go for it and do the parkrun anyway! Crippling yourself *after* a show is fine, right!? I didn’t manage to run the full 5k. There was rather more walking than I’d have liked, but hey, I made it to the finishing line in a reasonable time, and I can only get better, right!? Maybe having a time to beat will encourage me to put some work in!