Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Years Resolutions

It's the end of another year. Again, I'm looking back wondering where all the time went. And quite what I did with it all...

This time last year, I wrote a post detailing my goals for the year.

I had signed up for the 11 Shawls in 2011 challenge on Ravelry. Sadly, whilst I did complete the challenge (with all the knitting done by September), this challenge seems to have done the opposite of what it was supposed to. Now, when I go looking for a shawl pattern to knit, I cannot find one that I want to knit anymore. Well, not lace shawls anyhow - there are a couple of solid shawls I'd like to get done, but I'm not finding lace knitting as awesome as I did last year. Maybe it's a good thing to get the bug out of me. Eventually, though everything was knit and blocked by September, I didn't post them on Rav until last week, which is how little I cared about actually finishing the challenge. Not surprisingly, I have not signed up for the next one.

Secondly, I promised to blog at least twice a month. Technically, I did not manage this as I only blogged once in September, however with a total of 51 blog posts - almost one per week - I definitely reached my goal of blogging more. I would like to keep this up in the New Year, as well as keeping up with my Twitter.

The last goal from last year was to lose weight. I lost some, I gained some, in the end I think I'm leaving this year a little lighter than I went into last year, but this is also something I need to keep up.

This year, I have a few goals, not many of which are crafty, but I shall mention them anyway.

My first goal is to get my black belt. I'm not sure how realistic it is, but I do know I will need to put a lot of work in.

My second goal is to take the idea in my head and put it down on paper and see if I can make it into some kind of pattern that people would like to knit.

My last goal is to try and do more interesting stuff in my life. I'm not quite sure what that will look like yet, but I'm hoping I'll know it when it appears.

Whatever you are doing, I wish you the very happiest of New Year's and I hope that the one coming brings you all you could wish for (I wish for Wollmeise...).

Friday, 23 December 2011

Crisis in Confidence

I think I should just give up on this knitting lark. I am clearly no good at it. Case in point; my Pomatomus socks.

I was so excited at the thought that I would get these done this week. For one thing this will be the second pair of socks I have managed to knit both of this year! (I am not fast when it comes to socks). For another thing, I really enjoyed this pattern. Something about the way that the yarn transformed into this springy, bouncy, lovely textured garment was so appealing to me. I've had this yarn sat around for a while (it's Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in a colourway called Echo, though I have no idea what colour it is. When I first bought it I thought it was grey, then realised it was too brown to be grey. But it's not quite right for mushroom either. I think we've decided to call it 'taupe' since taupe just seems to be universal for 'some kind of brown that we can't quite figure out what kind') I cast on for another pair of socks, but really wasn't feeling it. But I came across it this year and decided it needed to be Pomatomus. And it needed to be Pomatomus RIGHT NOW. Except, as usually happens, it became one Pomatomus RIGHT NOW and the other one took a bit longer (I got distr...SQUIRREL).

So this week rolls around and I'm on holiday and with my family so I can't do holiday knitting while the person I'm knitting for is still up, so I pick back up my second sock and finish it in record time (for me).


See the problem yet? Maybe not. I know I didn't.

I finished the sock on Tuesday evening and sewed in the ends on both socks. I decided to wear them yesterday. I'd already tried on the one I made first, so I knew it would fit and had made sure to knit to second to exactly the same number of pattern repeats etc.

But wait, what's this?

See it now?

See how one sock is a dramatically different size from the other? Desperate, I checked the pattern repeats, thinking if I had just missed one out, maybe I could tink back - I have plenty of yarn left, but to no avail. The pattern repeats are the same, it's my gauge that is off.

And how off is it possible for gauge to get?

I have one sock that comes up to normal sock height above my ankle, and one that comes halfway up my calf.

The moral of this story is:
Knit socks two a time in the future!

For FO's that worked a lot better than mine, see Tami's Amis.

And lastly, I would like to wish those that celebrate a very Happy Christmas Eve Eve. I hope that this season brings you joy and peace and everything you could wish for.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Today I am EPIC and WIN

This past week has been particularly stressful. It started last Saturday when I went on the first day of a two weekend course to train to become a Regional Judge in Gymnastics. I was brimming with confidence bearing in mind my sweeping victory on my Club Judge course when I finished with a 96% distinction. Turns out, pride comes before a fall (who knew?) and I ended up being completely thrown by what we had to learn. The extra theory alone was daunting, but when it came to the practical side (judging video clips of routines) I absolutely could not do it. I was not coming up with the correct score at all.

To make matters worse, I hadn't quite thought things through when I signed up for this course and hadn't worked out how close it was to the final submission date for my photography coursework for the OU course I've been taking online. Truth be told, I had completely fallen behind with the course and didn't have anything ready to go.

So, with my judging exam on Sunday (today) and my coursework due in my 12pm on Monday (tomorrow), I have not stopped working all week.

Today I passed my judging exam. I won't know the score for a couple of months (I think probably quite a bit lower than my club judging), but I passed.

Today I submitted my photography coursework twelve hours before the deadline. Here are a few of the photo's I've put in:

Today, for good measure, I also did my laundry.

Now to sit down with a glass of wine methinks.

P.S. Now if only I could finish my Christmas knitting as well...

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The countdown begins...

I think my life has been consumed by Christmas knitting. And Christmas making stuff (I'm brewing some homemade mead for my brother's Christmas present. I hope it's going well - it's bubbling away merrily, but there seems to be something settling on the bottom).

However, at the start of this month I did cast on for a sweater. My first one in ages. And this time I am determined to make it fit! And wear it! So I decided to go for the Effortless Cardigan by Hannah Fettig (I am nothing if not hopeful), figuring that as an open cardigan, it would be less both if it didn't fit perfectly than, say, a pullover.

At the start of this week, I finished the main body:

And so far - touch wood - it mostly seems to be ok, fit-wise. I say 'mostly ok' because it is an open cardigan and at the moment it's not draping properly. I'm fairly sure this is because it doesn't have the weight from the edging and hasn't yet been blocked - this yarn (Araucania Nature Wool Solids) definitely softens up on blocking, so I'm still holding out hope this will work out (and not turn out like my February Lady Sweater which, upon blocking, went from being a good length just below where my trousers sit, to being somewhere around my knees!)

I'm even being a good girl and, as the yarn is semi-solid kettle dyed, alternating skeins. The colour is looking good and varied as a result, which I'm pleased about. I'm also Russian Joining as I'm lazy and don't like weaving in the ends.

I will just give you one sneak peek look at some Christmas knitting and you can try and guess what it is (and if it'll be done in time!):

I'll give you a clue - it's not a mini-sock or a mini-glove (or a mini anything, really).

In other exciting news, I have gone and joined that Twitter thing. You can find me on it here, and so far I seem to be better at it than I have been at blogging lately! It would be nice to know some more people on there though as so far I am following 47 people and have 12 people following me, which seems a little sad in Twitter terms, where most people seem to be in touch with thousands!

Also, there are more WIPs this Wednesday on Tami's Amis.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Dear Brain,

Please learn to communicate better internally.

I appreciate that the past two days have been very boring for you. I appreciate we have not done much together as a collective lately, but there is a good reason for that.

What you seem to have missed, Brain, is that Body is not feeling well. Body has a cold and Body needs to rest. As such, Body (and I for that) would really love to get some sleep. Neither Body, nor I, are particularly impressed with your chatting all night long and keeping us all up. I know you're bored and as soon as Body is feeling up to it, we'll do some fun stuff. I promise.

But in the meantime, please just be quiet and let us sleep.



Monday, 31 October 2011

Golden Brown

Today has been the first day that it has really felt like autumn. I've been quite disappointed with the season so far - the weather has been strange and so the trees haven't known what to do and so have not yet displayed their amazing colours or dropped many leaves. One of my absolute favourite things to do during the aumtumn is walk down the road stomping through the crispy leaves.

I've been craving this season for some reason this year, more so than previously. It's my favourite time of year, particularly the colours and, of course, the knitwear.

I can tell I've been looking forward to this season because of the colours I've been choosing to knit with. Or rather, the colour.

It started while I was looking for the perfect DK or heavier weight yarn to use to make a Caireen shawl for the Three Countries Shawl KAL group on Ravelry. I couldn't find the brown I was looking for in the UK, but I did find the perfect colour in a fingering weight. So I got that instead and then ordered some of a similar golden brown from Sanguine Gryphon in the Traveller base which is DK. The Caireen is now off the needles, the fingering weight will, I think, become gloves to match.

Then, I decided to join in with another KAL in the APlayfulDay podcast group on Rav which is a sweater KAL. I've decided to knit Hannah Fettig's Effortless Cardigan and managed to find a site selling Araucania Nature Solid on sale. To be fair, I thought it was a mossy green I had ordered. When it arrived, it wasn't green at all. It was entirely brown. And lovely. So was the definitely brown yarn that I had ordered to knit a Koolhaas hat with. That one is also off the needles - it was a crazy quick knit that was done in three days!

Incidently, to prepare for the sweater KAL, I have made a swatch. For the first time ever (it made me fall in love with the yarn even more).

Then, while in London, I stopped at Loop. There I came across the most beautiful shade of madelinetosh tosh sock called William Morris. It is (you guessed it) a deep and luxurious brown with accents of blue. That one is asking to be socks at the moment.

To counter all of this brown, I have also cast on (finally) for my second Pomatomus sock (the first has only been waiting for three or four months for a friend) which is not brown. It's taupe.

P.S. There would have been photos to go with this post, but sadly the downside to autumn (especially the day after the clocks go back) is that there is no light when I'm actually at home to take photos. I will try and get some over the weekend.

P.P.S. the other downside to autumn is that my nose has decided to get all blocked up today. I'm off for an early night I think.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Three Oaks, Two Fingers

Not in that way. In the 'I've finished two fingers and have two and the thumb to go' way. I would never put two fingers up to these gloves, because I cannot express how much I love these gloves in words. So here it is in pictures:

It fits beautiful, looks way more complicated than it actually is, the yarn is just gorgeous and I think will wear quite well, and, even though I've knitted it on DPNs (the pattern is written for magic loop, but I'm not a fan), I'm really keen to start on the next one! So happy I picked this pattern.

For more WIPS, see Tami's Amis.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


So, it's been a while. To get me back into the swing of things, here's a very brief rundown of the past few weeks:

- Started back at work
- Got Ofsted-ed (inspected) in the third week of the term
- We got a 'good with outstanding features' result, which is the second highest you can get (after 'outstanding') and pretty darn good bearing in mind less than five years ago we were a failing school on the brink of closure
- I've completely overhauled my eating habits and am eating much better and loosing weight as a result
- This led to chronic tummy aches for a week or two while my body got rid of toxins and means that any time I have a glass of wine (or more) I get tummy aches :(
- I've signed up to do a photography course with the Open University (expect lots of pictures starting in the next few weeks)
- I've decided that next year I'm going to grade for my black belt in kung fu
- I've finished my eleventh shawl and so completed my '11 shawls in 2011' challenge
- I just need to photograph and post up the last two...
- I've cast on for the most beautiful pair of gloves ever
- Three Oaks
- In this yarn from the Uncommon Thread:

- While I was looking at the Uncommon Thread, this yarn accidently fell into my basket too:

- But it doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up yet.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


One of the problems with being on holiday is that the days tend to run into each other. As a result, I forgot it was Wednesday today, so this is a WIP Wednesday with no photos.

My main project, however, is not one that I can take pictures of. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was doing a test knit. There is a deadline to it, but it's not for a while, so I've been working on it between other projects and I'm now more than halfway through. The pattern is an enjoyable one - complex enough to keep my interest, but easy enough to be able to watch TV and suddenly realise I've done three repeats, but best of all, I've been able to pick out some errors. Nothing major at all, just something that got missed in a rewrite and a couple of checks over technicalities that may lead to a slight rewording, but it makes me feel like I've actually been useful as a test knitter. I think that maybe if I had just knit the item and it had all been fine I would have been questioning why I was needed as a test knitter at all.

As I said though, the deadline is not for a little while yet, so today I decided I would finally cast something on using my Wollmeise. After a LOT of searching, I finally settled on the Frangipani Shawl. At the moment though, I've only cast on a few stitches.

So my WIPs this week include a project I cannot take photo's of and one that's not worth taking photo's of. Probably a good thing I forgot about taking them then...

For more WIP's, see Tami's Amis.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Had Enough Now

What a rubbish week.

I've already written about my numberplates being stolen on Tuesday while we were out trying to help clean up London. Incidentely, this is a really irritating kind of crime. As I don't typically live in London, am only here on holiday, all my paperwork pertaining to my ownership of the vehicle is 100 miles away, so trying to get replacements has been a nightmare and I'm not allowed to drive because I only have temporary plates. So I went to the DVLA today and I've finally got the paperwork I needed and the plates are on order, but not until I'd been treated like I was the criminal and messed around for over an hour.

On Wednesday morning, I found a massive blob of something nasty looking and black sploged in the middle of my sister's windscreen. Upon cleaning, it was discovered the be a dark purple and smell of Vimto, so we suspect it was fruit. Further investigation showed a patch on the back bumper or my car and my sister's boot no longer stays open when it's unlocked, so we also suspect it was climbed over. We also found a dead pigeon in our front garden. No kidding.

Then on Thursday morning, my mother woke me up early-ish (for a holiday) as on her way to work she had noticed that my front passenger side window had been smashed in. The glove box was open and had been rifled through, but nothing had been taken. Well, my CD player plays CD's, not MP3's, and I doubt I have the same music taste as the young thugs who have taken such a liking to my car.

The police (who I called after the plates went and after the smashed window) have been asking me if I've done something to annoy someone. I've replied that I'd have to be pretty damn annoying to put someone's nose out of joint from 100 miles away. But for whatever reason I've been targeted lately, I'd really like it to stop now.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

London Calling

Whilst I may not live there full time anymore, London is, always has been and always will be my home. I was born here, spent the first eighteen years of my life here and visit regularly. My family live here. It is where I feel most at peace.

For the last three days that peace has been shattered. I'm not going to go into details, because you probably already know. If you don't, check the news.

Today, I went with my sister and niece (Mini-C) to Clapham Junction. We went loaded up with old ski gloves and bin bags and Mini-C took a scoop so she didn't have to touch the broken glass.

We went to join in with the riot clean up. We went to show our solidarity for London and the amazing people who live here. We went to show that no matter what you do to us, our city cannot be destroyed.

Sadly, we weren't allowed to go through the police blockades as Clapham Junction was still a crime scene and still unsafe.

This was as close as we could get - right on the barrier. Behind me as I took this photo stood approximately 200 people, also ready to help out. The strength of London.

More sad news came though when we got home to discover that my car number plates had been removed. I had parked that morning on my parent's driveway, so they have walked onto our property in order to steal them. They will have taken them to fix onto a vehicle of the same model presumably so they can drive to areas of rioting and join in without fears of their car getting done - I will be instead.

Despite this, I am proud to be a Londoner (in spirit, if not always in body) and I am proud to have been here when all this happened. Standing shoulder to shoulder with others, ready and prepared to fix things that people seem so intent on breaking.

But they won't break us.

Saturday, 30 July 2011


Hello blog.

Sorry I've been away for a bit, a result of which is that this is going to be epic. First I was very very busy, then I was very very not busy which led to me being quite lazy.

Well, lazy on the blogging front, but less so on the knitting front, which is good. I went to Knit Nation for one thing, which was fun, but not as fun as I thought it would be. I only went to the marketplace and I only bought five skeins of yarn (to me that seems a lot, but I don't think it is to a great many people). I went with my sister and my niece (Mini-C). Mini-C started getting a little scritchy after a while, so I gave her my camera to keep her entertained (also because I thought stall owners would be less likely to shout at a 10 year old taking photos than at me). She took about twenty in total, mostly of the Wollmeise on the Loop stall (we're training her well!). Here are a selection of hers:

And here are my pictures of some of the yarn I purchased:

Deeply Wicked sock yarn from Easy Knits in colourway Sunset (trying to pick a colour out of the stunning shades they had on offer was a nightmare! I made my sister help me because I'm very very bad at making up my mind when I'm forced to choose and more often than not walk away with nothing).

Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace in Gold. This was less of a problem choosing - I've been looking at the gold and the cherry colours and trying to pick between them for ages. Then when I went back to the stall to make a decision, I got there just as someone was buying the two cherry skeins they had. Problem sorted!

The Yarn Yard Crannog Lace, I'm not sure what the colourway is, but I know it's been the hardest to photograph. I've been wanting to try out the Crannog since I read about it being a high twist laceweight. Have I mentioned lately how much I love high twist?

I know I said I bought five skeins, but I'll save talking about the other two until later.

Sadly, we only spent about an hour and a half shopping and then, after a quick trip to the Knit Tea Salon, we departed. I definitely would like to go back next time Knit Nation is in town (or, you know, several towns over since I spent more than eight hours driving in order to spend a few hours actually in the place!), but I think I'll make some changes.

1. Book onto some classes - I really regretted leaving it this time around, especially with my sister raving about the classes she took. It also means I'll feel like I got more out of my trip to London.

2. Save up for longer beforehand.

3. Take something slightly more waterproof than my thin hoodie - it THREW it down!

4. Not believe my sister when she says 'let's go to Pizza Express for lunch, it's around here somewhere' when it's throwing it down (for the record, there is no Pizza Express in South Ken).

5. If I'm going to wear a shawl to a place in which I will be surrounded with knitters, I will in the future make sure it's one made from a pattern I can pronounce! I wore my colchicaceae shawl and embarrassed myself on several occasions when people asked me what I was wearing...

Moving on from Knit Nation, I've also completed two more shawls!

This is the Magic of Spring Shawl I've been working on for a while. Mini-C bought it for me for my birthday and I've knit it using some of my own hand dye that I've had hanging about for a while waiting for the perfect project.

And this is a Clockwork made using those other two skeins I bought from Knit Nation! The main colour is Socktopus Sokkusu Original in One Hit Wonder. I LOVE this yarn. Like crazy. For one thing, the colours are spectacular. I was looking for a purple or a grey and this manages to be both, but so subtley it blends perfectly. I have not been able to get a good enough picture of this really. It's also high twist (yup, love me some high twist), beautifully smooth 100% merino. So it feels lovely, looks lovely and knits up lovely. Now why isn't it more commercially available??!! I love indy dyers and all, but I really want some more already! The black is a 4 ply functional sock yarn from The Knitting Goddess that provided a great contrast.

I loved knitting this shawl which is so different from what I would normally make. No lace. None! Not a single yarn over. And yet it kept my interest and I love the way the garter stitch looks.

The last thing I've been working on is something I can't tell you about. I'm knitting on a super secret test knit. All I will say is that I dyed the yarn for it myself and the colour of it reminds me of Holland.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Enthuse me?

This time tomorrow I hope to be in London. Catching up with my family and planning with my sister for the following day. Knit Nation.

I should be thrilled and excited and unable to sit still. Instead, I am sleepy and exhausted and have had a headache for more than a week. It's called end-of-term-itis.

In two days time, I will be surrounded by the best fibres and colours available to the UK. I'm really hoping that I will be able to enjoy it while I'm there.

I was hoping to be able to take my blue shawl with me, but sadly I had forgotten how long a crochet bind off takes. I'm maybe a quarter of the way through, but probably not quite. So it;s not going to be done for another few days I would have thought.

Probably I would have been done by now if, last weekend, I had not picked up a book. I read a lot. I always have a book on the go and I can't imagine a day going by in which I do not read. However, as a dyslexic (with Meares Irelens), I am a slow reader. So for me to have sucked up an entire almost 400 page book in three evenings, it has to be a good book, so I am eager to recommend it here. The book was Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes. It's a compelling read about a relationship that descends into domestic abuse on one side and the recovery coming out of it - both told simultaneously. If you have been unfortunate enough to be caught in a controlling relationship, I can imagine that this book would be triggering, so maybe not a recommendation for you, because it seems so amazingly realistic. Whilst I am a reader, it's rare I find a book I do not want to put down, but this was one - I was more interested in finding out what happened next that in knitting! - and now I've finished, I want to read it again, right now.

Now I just need to get this excited about Knit Nation. Someone enthuse me?

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

In review

I was planning on posting up a review of some yarn I purchased a few weeks ago along with my WIP's. Unfortunately I just popped onto the website so that I could link back to it, to find out that it has been taken down due to a health scare. The message says that they are looking to bring the site back up, but will be cutting back on the yarns they carry. I'm hoping that the one I'm reviewing will not be one cut back, so I'm going to post the review anyway.

A few weeks ago, one Sunday evening, I decided to buy some yarn. I'd been thinking of trying to knit a quick stole to match the dress I'd ordered to wear to the school Prom (for the students I work with - I'm not 16!). I'd been umming and ahhing for a while as I was looking for a yarn that seemed to be impossible to find - light laceweight, in black and cheap with good yardage. Yeah, I'm pretty demanding!

While doing my research, I stumbled across Heirloom Knitting. Their Merino Lace fit the bill perfectly! 2 ply 100% merino, in a huge variety of colours, with 375 metres per 25 gram ball and at £3.25 per ball extremely affordable.

I ordered on the Sunday evening. On the Monday afternoon I got an e-mail saying they were really sorry, but the black was out of stock and they were unlikely to get any more in, would I like charcoal grey instead? I said OK since the dress I'd ordered was grey. The yarn arrived on Tuesday. Hows that for service!

I've really enjoyed working with this yarn. It's lovely and soft, the ply is fairly loose and it's working up beautifully and the finished item will be light and flowing and fairly stretchy. I really hope this is one of the yarns that Heirloom Knitting continue to carry as I would definitely be happy to add more to my stash.

Only problem is, the pattern, whilst visually stunning is a boring knit. It's made up of only two different rows repeated a number of times each. Also, the Prom was last week and the stole wasn't ready. But then my dress didn't arrive either, so at least I now have until next year!

In other news, the blue shawl is finally moving along after several false starts.

Hopefully I'll have it done by next Friday and will be able to take it to Knit Nation (so excited!)

For some other WIPs, visit Tami's Amis.

Thursday, 23 June 2011


Turns out I've had quite a good few days and I'm desperate to show off and I'm feeling dead chuffed with myself.

Firstly I passed my grading yesterday with 76% (above 60% is a pass, above 70% is good). I was expecting it to be my lowest grading, but actually that's one of my highest (lowest was 72%, highest was 78&), so I was really pleased with that score. I messed up a lot at the beginning, but as I got into the flow things got better. I did get cracked over the head by one the other students who was punching in for me - I was doing a foot lift and body drop takedown on him and as he fell his elbow caught my head just behind me ear - but things went better after that, so maybe it helped.

Then today, I got in from work to find that the scores had arrived from the judging exam I sat a month or so ago (the instructor had told us that the scores would be sent off the British Gymnastics for moderation and they would then send them out with our certificate and log book to log the competitions we judge at).

For the Practical section (watching clips of gymnastics routines and writing down our scores) I got 94%. For the Theory section I got 100%. This means I got an overall score of 96% and a distinction! This gives me a lot more hope that I can progress to National and maybe even International judging! Maybe I will get to the Olympics someday!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

All the stuff, none of the time

I NEED to be finishing off the giant purple Aeolian that I should have given to a friend in March. Unfortunately, after waiting a while for the yarn to arrive from the States, I have used it to create this:

I find yarn tangles to be a mix of glorious satisfaction and enormous frustration. I get to a point where I think 'I've been here for six and a half hours, my arms ache, I can't feel my back and my stomach is threatening to eat itself if I don't feed it soon, I really need to...oooo what about if I pull on this bit...'. It's quite addictive. And this tangle got so big I had to move it upstairs to my spare room (the blocking room) for the space to spread it out. This is the aftermath. However, I really don't need mad tangles when I'm on deadline.

I NEED to be knitting on the Wisp stole that I randomly decided to cast on for a week ago so I could wear it to the school prom (wow I feel 16 when I write that) with the dress I ordered which may or may not arrive in time for the dance in a week's time.

I WANT to be knitting on the blue shawl of doom - having ripped it back and fixed a few bits and bobs I didn't like from the first attempt, I started again, did the first lace row and was four stitches over. I think this shawl might be my knitting nemesis and I really want to be working on it and kicking into shape and teaching it who's boss.

I WANT to be casting on for a second Pomatomus before another sock goes two years without a friend.

I WANT to be winding this:

into a lovely ball and casting for a pair of Nutkins because it's so very pretty and I want it and that's all there is to it.

Instead, what I'm going to go and do is work on a work in progress that has been going on for longer than I've been knitting. I am on my way to go and grade. I am currently a grey belt in Kung Fu. If all goes well tonight, I will be a grey belt with a black tab. When I've got another two tabs, I will be grading for my black belt. But for now, I have this hurdle to jump. And I'm bricking it. Although I am bored on my belt and I am desperate to get this over and done with and I have chosen the date to grade (and chosen to grade at all - my current sifu offered to let me move onto the next level without grading, but I am meritocratic to a fault), suddenly I don't feel ready. I'm worried that I'm not going to pass with a high enough score to make me happy. And I'm nervous in general.

So for tonight, with all the stuff I want and need to be getting on with, it's kung fu that is my work in progress.

For more works in progress, see Tami's Amis.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Record Breakers

I've had a bit of a crazy weekend. On Friday, I went to my friend's house for our usual craft night. Sadly, it was just the two of us, but we had a great night anyway. We set the world to rights over a few glasses (bottles) of wine, got lots done, watched films, ate popcorn and generally got quite squiffy.

I may have walked home again at 7 the next morning.

But while I was there, we decided to set a World Record on the Sunday.

So we did. Two in fact.

Well, ok, so we went and joined in with an existing world record attempt that someone else had entirely organised. But I feel we were instrumental in bringing this achievement to Norwich. Well, ok, us and the other 860 people who turned up. Still, I think it's impressive. (please note - I did not zumba for twelve hours - I zumba-d for one and a half).

I feel I should mention this amazing feat of mine (whaddya mean I just turned up and wiggled a bit, it was hardcore effort I tell ya!) since all knitting is rubbish and making me angry. Well, ok, just my blue shawl. But I have to rip it all out and start again, meaning a weeks worth of knitting is down the pan. Apparently my inability to do maths is a major problem when it comes to knitting and means I miss entire sections of chart and end up grumbley.

But I least I did something right this weekend.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Not My Favourite

Spring Leaves is all finished:

And I have to be honest,

I'm not a huge fan of it.

I don't think it's a fault with the pattern at all, I think it's all me.

It started with the ordering of the yarn. I didn't have a project in mind when I ordered it, just knew that I was loving dying. When I received the parcel, I realised that I had misread the information. I thought it was a heavy laceweight with almost 700 yards to 100 grams. Turns out it was a light weight yarn with almost 700 yards to 50 grams.

Never mind, I thought, I could still use it for something, so I set about dying. I have been wanting to try using Dr Oetker food dye for a while. Not only did I have a lot of it in my cupboard from baking, it's easier to get hold of in the UK than Kool Aid. It worked well and the colour is really saturated. Only problem is, it's not the colour I was looking for. I wanted a more bluey-green and this is more mint. I tired to over dye it with a blue, but it just wouldn't take.

Still, when the Three Countries Shawl KAL group on Ravelry decided to use the Spring Leaves pattern as their April - June KAL, I thought immediately of this yarn. I thought the green would work well with the leaf-y pattern and it was spring-like.

Trouble is, I still can't get over that colour. I'm sure it's a nice colour, I just can't get over it not being what I wanted.

For some FO's people probably do like, have a look at Tami's Amis.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Getting my mojo back...

Pomatomus the first is finished!

Ta da!

I was worried all the time I was knitting it because it seemed so long - especially the heel, but I was assured that this was normal and I'm pleased to say that it fits pretty well. It's a little loose, but not baggy, and I think the looseness is as much to do with the stretch of the pattern than it being too big.

However, Pomatomus the second may have to wait a while, because I got my lace mojo back!

Uh...ok, so it doesn't look like much at the moment and is, primarily, stockinette rather than lace, but when it grows up it's going to be a Magic of Spring Shawl.

I cast on on Sunday, so really it should be bigger than this by now, but I hit a bit of a stumbling block when I realised that I couldn't figure out what I was supposed to do after chart 1. I had an idea of what needed to be done, but for some reason I couldn't make it make sense in my head. I checked everywhere I could for the answer, but this shawl hasn't been knit that often (about ten times) and apparently everyone else understood it all just fine. So, I sucked up my pride and messaged the designer for help. I go a response today, basically telling me that what I thought I had to do IS what I have to do, so now I'm back on with it and hopefully I'll have some lace to show off soon.

The Spring Leaves shawl is finally off the needles as well, so I'm going to grab my blocking wires and break them out! Quite excited about this...

For more WIPs, see Tami's Amis.

Friday, 3 June 2011


That's a Finally Finished Object.

I cast on for a Muir Shawl in September 2010. I actually finished it a month of two later, folded it nicely and sat it down where it stayed, unblocked and with ends sticking out, for about six months.

I'm really not very good at finishing. It's the most boring part of knitting in my opinion.

But, last week, I sucked it up, decided I wanted to wear it out of my birthday meal and started soaking.

Blocking it was an absolute nightmare. It was quite late and I was very tired - this was the day in which I worked for eleven hours and had to deal with a child protection issue as the last thing of the day (so I took it home, of course), followed by my belly dance class (I can't even remember what we covered I was that tired) followed by a well needed glass or two of wine - so I just wanted to pin it out quickly and head to bed. I had convinced myself that because it is rectangular and has no crazy points or similar, it would be easy. You'd think I'd never blocked before or something!

Instead what happened was that the edging was happy to be stretched and pulled all over the place, but the middle section did not like this at all. I don't think it helped that because the laceweight I'd used is very very delicate, the thing was drying very quickly as I attempted to block.

Eventually I gave up trying to stretch it and just pinned it into a vague rectangular shape and went to bed feeling defeated. I was even more disappointed when I checked on it the next day and found that where I had pinned, the shawl had pulled in around the pin leaving little spikes (you can see them in the above photo). These have more or less worked themselves out now and I decided I could wear it to my birthday meal.

This is, without a doubt, the hugest and most delicate shawl I have ever made. I mostly want to frame it and never wear it for fear with will get snagged on something and unravel into a million ends of thread. It's 30 inches wide and about 6ft long (my tape measure doesn't stretch that far, but I'm 5ft7 and it's longer than my arm span).

Two days after my blocking woes (there may have been a slight temper tantrum somewhere in there too), I drove down to London to visit my family. When I got there I was presented with my birthday present and I could have cried.

A set of blocking wires.

For more stunning FO's, visit Tami's Amis.

p.s. I just read this through and noticed it didn't make much sense in places. I've corrected those I picked up on, but there may be more. I am on day two of an epic headache, so I think I'm just babbling now.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


I think summer is finally, officially here. I can say this with some certainty since today I spent about three hours sitting in the garden knitting and now I am a shiny red colour. I blame A Playful Day since I was absorbed in her latest podcast and didn't notice how long I'd been out.

Having not blogged much lately, I have not shown off any of my current WIPs or really talked about them at all. So here they are:

Pomatomus sock the first is starting to resemble an actual sock what with it's heel and everything. I'm using some Lorna's Laces that I've owned for ages and were originally going to be some Outside In socks. It's a strange taupe-y kind of non-colour. I'm really enjoying the pattern and I'm finding the texture of the knitted sock quite odd. Normally knit socks are quite stiff, or at least that's how I find them (not a big problem since they go on my feet), but these are super stretchy and very soft. I think I've managed to get a good match of yarn to pattern for once, though I am slightly worried by the length of it - my sister assures me this is normal for this pattern though, and for Cookie A socks in general.

(On a slight aside, last night my sister and I sat in the living room knitting, me on the Pomotomus sock and her on her Rock Island shawl. This is quite a reversal for us since normally I knit the shawls and she knits the socks.)

Variegated scarf is moving along. I think this may be an on going project and I will attempt to do a few rows each day to build it up. It's not the most interesting of patterns, as scarves often aren't (or rather, scarves that have two rows repeat until done), but ti's more or less working with the yarn. It's a little pool-y in places, but I think it's bound to be and there's not much that can be done about it (other than cutting the yarn every other row or something else that would be too much effort). I'm getting the hang of using the straights again, though I do keep jamming them in to the sides of the armchair.

The Spring Leaves stole is going less well. Whilst it should be more or less done, in fact I'm about two inches away from finishing it, I also only have about two inches of yarn left. This is hand dyed, so it's not going to be easy to get a match and so I think the only thing for it is to tink back a repeat and then do the finishing chart, but the idea of having to do that and then undo the other end to tink back that repeat so that it mirrors (yes, I am a perfectionist and no I cannot just leave it unbalanced) is hurting my head right now.

If you want to have a look a other people's WIPs, check out Tami Ami's WIP Wednesdays. Meanwhile, I'm off to moisturize.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


Yesterday was my birthday.

I think it was the best and nicest birthday I've had for a while. I was really touched by what my work colleagues gave me:

This unrolls to become:

A needle roll! It has wooden straights from 3mm to 6mm. Granted, it's probably not something I would have bought for myself, but this is from people who will happily admit that the most they know about knitting is that I enjoy it, so I was really pleased that they had put so much thought into my gift.

And actually it meant I could re-cast on for a Hypernova Scarf I'd cast on for earlier. I've had this super variegated lace weight for a while and I haven't really known what to do with it, but I thought this would work well. I was using 3.75mm needles, but I wasn't happy with the gauge and wanted to drop down a few sizes, but my 3.5mm's were in another project and I didn't have any 3mm's. So I re-cast on:

I haven't used straights for such a long time. I feel like Bambi again, all fingers and thumbs and it's so slow! I'm determined to keep at it though!

Then, in the evening, I went to a friends house for a barbeque.

There was fabulous company and lots of lovely food:

All in all, a brilliant day. And I still have another two celebrations to go - one with some other friends and one with my family. And I'm determined that this will be the best year ever!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

With Flying Colours

I feel like I've been away for ages, this week has been so crazy busy, I've barely had time to do anything other than think about the maximum deductions for bent arms in support or bent legs (0.5) or for lack of height in flight elements over the bar (0.3) or what that funny squiggle is and if it's worth an A, B, C or D (and that is dependent on the apparatus with beam and floor).

Seriously, I've barely had time to knit! I've done maybe half a repeat of the Spring Leaves and I haven't touched my Pomatomus socks since last week.

It's all paid off though - today I qualified as a Women's Artistic Gymnastics Club Judge. (And I'll admit that I don't know if it was with flying colours, since I won't get the results through for two or three months, but I do know I passed).

I've absolutely loved the whole experience and I'm really looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into judging properly.

For now though, I'm just looking forward to sitting back with my knitting and catching up on blogs on podcasts and everything else I've missed.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

And so it begins...

...the grump that is.

Here are two socks:

Do you see the problem?

The one on the bottom is the second sock - the one knit two years give or take after the first. Now it did occur to me while I was knitting it that it was highly likely that after two years my gauge would have changed, so I did check continuously throughout the process and it seemed to more or less match. Up to the toe, the length was spot on. However, the toe then went a bit mad and seemed to grow to twice the size of the previous sock. I wondered if this could still be passable, but, when it was off the needle, I noticed that the whole thing was a lot wider than the previous sock. Hmm.

So now I have one normal, fitted sock and one giant sock. I haven't quite decided if just blocking them both will even them out enough, or if I should just unpick the toe and see if I can knit it tighter.

So, in the meantime I've been working on my hand dyed Spring Leaves, which I have failed to so far mention and have cast on for some Pomatomus socks using a brownish grey Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock that I originally used for some Outside In socks that ended up being put aside and forgotten about. I'm quite enjoying this sock thing.

In other news, I started on my course today. It's really very intense. Trust me to pick a sport with a rule book one hundred and ninety two A4 pages long!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Forgive Me

A few weeks ago, I posted that I would be going on a course to learn how to become a judge at gymnastics competitions. I've been coaching for about ten years and was a recreational gymnast for ten years before that, so gymnastics has been a part of my life for almost the entirety of my life. I love the sport, but I was never going to be a successful competition gymnast (I'm completely the wrong shape for one thing) and I'm never going to coach an Olympic gymnast either - I just don't have enough time to dedicate to it. So I'm a recreational coach for up to three hours a week (but more likely less). Whilst I do enjoy it (otherwise I wouldn't do it), sometimes recreational (or beginner) can become a little dull. There's only so many forward rolls you can support before getting bored. Any kids who show talent are quickly whisked away to the higher levels for more intense training and are replaced by more kids who can't do a forward roll.

So I'm really looking forward to learning about a different side to the sport and branching out a little bit. I'll be a Woman's Artistic Club Judge and after a year (and three competitions) I can apply for the Regional Judge course and then theoretically (I haven't looked into the further requirements yet), I could then go for National and then International, which could be exciting depending on how much I enjoy it.

Anyway, forgive me for banging on about gymnastics instead of knitting, but there is a reason. This course is taking place over two weekends, Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm. Which means that today was my last day off for three weeks. And I spent it all hungover because I am apparently very daft.

As a result, I don't know how much time I'm going to have to blog, so I might be a little quiet for a while. I don't even know how much time I'm going to have to knit - I may just get home in the evenings and fall straight asleep! I was hoping to have a finished sock to show you as a peace offering, but I'm not quite finished with the toe yet.

Forgive me.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The sad tale of the lonely sock

Here is a sock:

I'm not too sure how long it has been in it's sock form, but I'm guessing about two years. It was the first sock I ever made and whilst I was quite excited when it fit and everything, I wasn't too sure about DPNs and I hadn't particularly enjoyed the process and it seemed really slow. I started the second one, but didn't get past the cuff before other stuff took over. I have knit another pair of socks since, using magic loop, but again didn't enjoy it, so I haven't bothered since.

And my poor other foot has been terribly jealous what with it's boring black socks:

So, while I'm on a shawl hiatus, and in the spirit of liberating my stash, I decided to make the sock a friend:

The cuff was already done, so I just carried on from there and so far have finished the leg and started the heel flap. I guess it's just that now I've had a lot more experience with knitting, but I'm suddenly finding this a much more enjoyable process and much quicker too. I'm liking the DPNs, I'm not getting major ladders like I often do (or overcompensating and ending up with really tight stitches) and all seems to be going well so far.

Who knows, maybe I will end up as a sock knitter after all!

For more WIP stories, take a look at Tami Ami's WIP Wednesday.