thomasinaknitsheader 2

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blue moon and stars

Just a quick post to show off my first foray into the murky world of stitch markers.

Blue moon and stars

R and I went to see The Magic Flute at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. It was a fabulous production: great singing, wonderful set and costume design and a big snake - what's not to like?

Anyway, I picked up the beads and fixings for these markers at Bead Aura in Neal's Yard on the way to the opera house. I wish I could say that they were inspired by the Queen of the Night but I just liked the colours!

I've not posted for a little while, but it's not been for lack of knitting or stitching. In fact I've been very busy on a secret project with the STR lightweight that I bought from Christine.

Secret project

Can you tell what it is yet? Of course you can't, it is a secret project after all.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Mental block

I've been itching to get started cutting and sewing Felix's fabric since she gave it to me last Wednesday but first there was another little job I had to do:

needle roll detail

This is Katie's needle roll in the fabulous cupcake fabric. I'm getting more and moe confident with the quilting foot and I'm pretty pleased with how the quilting on this turned out.

needle roll open

It's basically a large zig-zag with the lines of stitching about 1 cm apart and a few places where it goes off at a tangent.

Once i got let loose on Felix's parcel I decided on a basic snowball quilt using the oak leaves and the darker green gingham for the corners and the other six colours for the "snowballs". Sadly, despite spending a lot of time and paper doodling out different quilt designs and making calculations I still managed to balls it up rather as I somehow managed to misunderestimate by half how many corner squares I would need. It's not a crisis but it does mean that my squares aren't quit based on a nine patch block and that piecing them is a little bit trickier.

Piecing the corner

Still, the first eight seem to have gone OK.

first blocks

Monday, February 18, 2008

Stained Glass Quilt

Stained glass quilt

I finished off the quilt top on Saturday morning and couldn't resist pinning it up against the window to show off the colours. I'm going to finish it off with a border in either the red or dark green and a back in the cream to show off the quilting. It's just going to be a lap quilt with a finished size of probably 36" by 56" and should be lovely and bright for the spring.

Whilst the quilt top looks pretty impressive I'm conscious that behind the scenes (or seams if you like) it could be neater and there are some fairly fudgy spots. However, I'm on the learning curve and I've learnt a few useful lessons for my next attempt such as the larger the individual pieces the easier (and quicker) it is and that less than a quarter-inch seam allowance is not a good idea.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Finally I get to show off the great fabric I got at Hobbycraft at the weekend. It's been under wraps till now as I used it to make a needle case for Lara's birthday present and I wanted it to be a surprise.

Cupcake fabric

I bought quarter metres of the three fabrics plus another metre of the cupcake print for Felix as I was pretty sure she'd love it. My hunch was confirmed when she turned up having bought the very same fabric herself (also from Hobbycraft) to wrap up her own present for Lara (Felix has revolutionary ideas about wrapping paper which I may be adopting).

The Twighlight Zone vibe just got more intense as Felix presented me with my own beautifully wrapped parcel just as I was saying how I nearly bought this great cabbage print fabric and how I still really wantesd it.

Card and pressie

Birthday fabric

Lo and behold, the very same was in my parcel (second from the left). I'm going to have so much fun making these up into a spring garden-y type of quilt, maybe with strips like Jane Brocket's Allotment quilt or a simple log cabin. I really enjoyed making the star blocks over Christmas for my current on the go quilt project but they are a bit labour intensive and I'd like something a little more relaxing (and with a little less ironing!)

Talking of which...

Pieced together

There's nothing like either a) the successful conclusion of a project or b) new stash to fill you with enthusiasm so it was small wonder that I got out the sewing machine when I got home and got piecing.

There are now 16 completed blocks sewn together and I think I need 8 more (which are cut out but not yet pieced) to make a decent sized top. A job for the weekend I think.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Early Valentine!

My Socks That Rock lightweight arrived in the mail this morning from Christine along with a really cute little tag and some heart-shaped chocolates.

Between the light and the not-so-great camera phone picture this is not a representative picture of the colour of this yarn. The colourway is Blue Moonstone and it's kind of a sky blue/bluey-grey with some undyed patches. I know it must have been a bit of a wrench for Christine to part with this (just remember it's in a good cause!) but I can assure her that it's gone to a good home, there'll be lots of other sock yarn to keep it company and I have big plans for this little skein - it's going to look so pretty knit up.

I'm nearly through the first ball in my Tatami - once I've finished the first ball I'll try to do some knitting maths to check whether I'll have enough yarn to complete. I really should do, given that I'm knitting to gauge and the yarn I'm using has a longer yardage than the recommended yarn. I'm (not actually sure how that squares with the fact that I had to go down two needle sizes to get gauge but I guess it will all work out). I'm up to the second lot of side decreases anyway. Tatami looks like a huge project (especially if you knit a giant one like Felix) but the extra width gained from the drop stitches means that your rows are much shorter than for a conventional cardi (yay) so at the moment it seems to be motoring. This is partly helped by the fact that I've made one slight adjustment to the pattern and am knitting, rather than purling, my drop stitches - so much faster. I can't see that it will make too much difference to the overall size (I swatched the other way!) but am perfectly prepared to listen to arguments to the contrary and/or be struck down by the knitting gods for my hubris.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Birthday yarn cakes

Birthday yarn cakes

Yesterday was "our* birthday"! Number three on the list of reactions I get when I tell people I have a twin brother after "are you identical" and "do you know what the other one is thinking" (to which the respective answers are "no" and "actually sometimes yes") is "too bad you have to share your birthday". In fact I love sharing my birthday with my twin. When we were growing up the fact that it was the birthday of 2 out of 5 of our family made it much more special a day - to the extent that my elder sister had to be bought a consolation present to make up for the fact that all the other kids (me and Ste) were getting spoilt rotten.

The "spoiling rotten" still seems to be going on (in the yarn department at any rate). In the midst of many other pressies (including the ultimate gift of M&S** knickers) was a bag of enough hand-dyed Blue-faced Leicester in DK (above) from Oxford Kitchen Yarns to knit a Tatami. The colourway is Latte/Biscuit and is a special order from Katie as she thought (having knit one herself) that Tatami would look much better in a variegated yarn than a more or less solid. The colour is ridiculously caffiaceous - so much so that I want to lick the yarn because I'm convinced it will taste like coffee icing!

On top of that, Katie turned up at the pub on Wednesday bearing a gift of hand-spun, hand-dyed Blue-faced Leicester as a gift from herself and Lara.

Birthday Handspun

This stuff is truly special. It's spun and dyed by Heike whose etsy shop you can find at All the Pretty Fibers and it's the softest, squooshiest yarn you can imagine. I'm keeping it in the skein just to pet for a while!

Finally a work-in-progress. I'm having a bit of a blitz on socks at the moment as I've noticed that a couple of my pairs are wearing through at the heel (I'm going to have a go at reinforcing them of course but I'm not sure how well that will work). The latest pair are just some very simple toe-up blue socks knit from some leftover denim regia of Aliki's which I got at the yarn swap with heels and cuffs in slightly lighter leftover denim regia from my own stash.

Simple little sock

They are knit with a gusset and heel-flap and (inspired by Cat Bordhi) the gusset increases are created by the yarn-overs in the simple lace chevron which then carries on (in a purely decorative function) up the leg.

* me and my twin brother.

** to the Americans - M&S stands for Marks and Spencer and is very, very different from ess & emm.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Destashing for a good cause

A quick update.

Christine over at threedogknits is asking you to buy her yarn to help fund hew trip to New Orleans where she will be doing some volunteer work for the National Trust for Historic Presevation to help restore an older house in a low income area of the city. She does have some lovely stuff and it is in a good cause (or at least that's my excuse for breaking my yarn diet!).

Fearful symmetry*


It's a bit late for the silent poetry reading but for your literary edification I present:

The Tyger by William Blake (1794)

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

There are 4 other verses (plus the first one repeated) but the first is the best. Reading the poem reminded me of a favourite childhood series of books by Willard Price (in particular Tiger Adventure). Perhaps Willard Price isn't quite up there with William Blake in the literary stakes (although he probably knew a damn sight more about tigers) but he does a similarly great job of showing the beauty and danger of these animals in the wild and he's right up there with David Attenborough in giving me a love of natural history.

From tiger hunting onto the equally hazardous occupation of pancake tossing.

The first one always turns out a mess

Pancake in the pan

Good enough to eat

No action shots of pancake tossing sadly as I'm in on my own this evening and self-portraiture does have its limits! Never mind, all the more pancakes for me.

* Or at least rotational symmetry.

Monday, February 04, 2008

You make my day!

Slightly belated I know but I found this half written post in my drafts and thought I'd finish it off.

1) The Oxford Bluestockings - aka Abstar's World, Knitaluscious, The Frog Princess, KnitWit, Mootthings, Oxford Kitchen Yarns and Practical Polly: Despite seeing these girls at least once a week I love being able to catch up on all their knittings and doings via their blogs and I always get very excited when one of them turns up modelling an FO that I'd only previously seen on the blog.

2) Second only due to the fact that blood is thicker than water - the Yarn Harlot. I know that every second knitter out there will also have nominated Stephanie Pearl McPhee so I'm not telling you anything new but the woman is hilarious. Yarn Harlot is the first blog I check out in the mornings and if there's a new post it always makes for a great start to the day. Her knitting is pretty great too.

3) I adore Knitspot. Anne Hanson's designs are bee-yew-tiful (check out this, and this, and these, oh and this!) She always seems to have something new either on her needles or her stove to admire.

4) The Panopticon is where I head for great writing, gorgeous lace knitting, fun cartoons and bitchy comments from chain smoking sheep. Love this blog!

5) Cast-On a podcast for knitters is hosted by Brenda Dayne. Brenda is a great writer and knitter and her voice is as relaxing as a long, hot bath. Her podcasts have got me through more stressful train delays than I care to remember.

6) Slipped Stitch (or Kirsty's Flatmate Alice's blog as I usualy refer to it) is another favourite. Her designs are lovely and quirky and her posts have a nice mix of knit content and other topics.

5) Jared of Brooklyn Tweed is a photographer as well as a knitter and it shows. I only wish I could get my knits to look that good! He spins and designs too and is always willing to respond to queries about the things he's knitted.

6) My Fashionable Life was the first knit blog I started reading. Anna isn't posting so frequently at the moment due to her latest FO (Stanley John Alexander) but her patterns (for free and to buy) are linked to from her site.

9) Librivox is a volunteer organisation which creates audiobooks recordings of works in the public domain. Their catalogue is constantly growing and already contains hundreds of classic works from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.

10) Strange maps is not a knit blog but it's always good for a laugh and some interesting cartographic trivia. This is one of my favourites.

Thanks everyone!