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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dancing on Ice

Ice skating with Laurie

I've been fitting in my knitting around my current job of full-time children's entertainer. I've been playing hide and seek, reading books, and I've watched more episodes of Peppa Pig than are strictly good for me. And today we went ice-skating. After seeing another little girl skating about on the "ice" rink at the soft play centre we visited Laurie wanted to give it a try. We were worried that she might last for only a few minutes before deciding that she was wasn't that keen but she lasted the whole half hour!

She was pretty good too! She got a compliment from another little girl who was very impressed that it was her first go. She even let go of my hand occasionally.

Ice skating with Laurie

I'm keen to do some more ice skating on real ice (rather than a plastic rink) when I get back to Oxford - I need to get some practice in for the next time I go with Laurie.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Post-Christmas knitting

I'm taking a break from the Aeolian shawl, only because I'm just about to run out of yarn. Again! I've got another skein back at the flat but I only brought the current skein up to Bolton with me. It's a shame because it would be great to be able to block it and try it on with the dress whilst I'm up here but there are only 14 rows* to go so there should be no trouble about finishing it in time for the wedding.

In the meantime I've been playing with two of my Christmas presents from my parents - my deluxe set of KnitPro interchangeable needles (all the sizes from 3.5mm to 7mm and cables from 40cm to 100cm) and my Vogue Knitting Stitchionary: Cables v. 2 (btw whilst searching for the link to that book I found that you can access some of the Vogue Stitchionary patterns free online here - there are cables, knit and purl, and colourwork patterns).

The result (so far) is the beginnings of a reversible cabled rib scarf in the Blacker Designs pink Cotswold yarn that I bought at UK Knit Camp.

Reversible cable scarf

I love this cable - it's going to make for a really thick squooshy scarf.

* Although admittedly those 14 rows add up to about 13,000 stitches!

Monday, December 27, 2010


THE DRESS is finished. I finished the hems earlier whilst watching various bits of Christmas TV online (Poirot, Dr Who). There was one very nasty moment when my sewing machine decided to choose the last two feet of stitching on the bit of the dress that shows to start spewing bits of oily fluff up through the stitching plate leaving one very distinct black spot and one black smear on the hem at the front. Which leads me to a couple more wedding dress "DO"s.

DO clean your machine before you start work on your dress.

and similarly

DO de-scale/clean your iron (or buy a new one) and make sure the cover of your ironing board is clean (or buy a new one). Ask me how I know this is a good idea! Luckily the pieces which the iron spit brown water on are completely covered by the drapes.

Tomorrow I'll be braving the Christmas sales in search of a bra that will go under the dress before awaiting the arrival of my sister, brother-in-law, and my niece in the afternoon. We're all very excited about seeing L open her pressies.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I meant to say ....

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you had a joyous and peaceful day.

Liz x

One wedding dress and a partridge in a pear tree

Wedding dress

The dress is as nearly done now as makes no difference, just the hem to do now. It's a lot of sewing but it's straightforward. I was so pleased to get the zipper in yesterday - it's the trickiest bit so I put it off all morning whilst we did the lining. In the end it took the entire length of Don Giovanni (absolutely cracking production - *love* Gerald Finley - still available on iPlayer) from Glyndebourne on BBC2 on Christmas eve to get it in but I made a pretty good job of it. I had a try on earlier with the necklace and earrings that the boyfriend bought me for Christmas and it looks great. Now I just need to get cracking on the edging for the shawl.

I've got a few make-yer-own-dress "do"s and "don't"s

DO have the odd glass of champagne whilst sewing. Steadies the nerves if not the hands. I'd steer clear of red wine though, especially if you're going for white or ivory.

DON'T try to make alterations (especially involving cutting) whilst you're actually wearing the dress. I learnt this one from the lovely Jo who had a horrific experience with her wedding dress and a seam ripper. If you do have a disaster try to keep cool - Jo did manage to salvage the situation by re-fusing the fibres of the silk fabric back together using pins and fusible interfacing.

DO buy new pins and needles and DO ask the people at the haberdashers for advice on which needles to use. For silk and satin really the finer the needle the better, I'm using size 9s. I'm also using bridal pins to avoid making holes in the fabric.

DO make sure you've got plenty of spares - I'm on my third needle so far after I bent two when I hit a pin. Talking of which, if you do hit a pin whilst stitching check if it's been nicked at all when you take it out. I tend to bend any nicked pins in half and put them in the thread bin. Talking of which...

DO use a thread bin. It makes it so much easier to keep tidy.

Wedding dress

DO snip threads off as you go. If you wait till the end of the project you'll be there for hours searching for threads to snip.

I'm so excited about finishing the dress tomorrow, yay!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ready, set, go

The presents are wrapped, my bag is (almost) packed, and tomorrow I'll be venturing onto the trains in the fond hope of making it up to Bolton for Christmas. At the same time the boyfriend will be setting off in the car in the opposite direction for Kent. Since we won't be spending Christmas together we've already exchanged gifts - the boyfriend seemed very happy with his (non-hand-knitted) sweater and I'm very chuffed with my necklace and earrings which the boyfriend very sweetly picked out to match THE DRESS. He gets top marks for thoughtfulness.

I really hope that I get a seat on the train tomorrow. If I do I should have a very comfortable journey, I've got a bunch of DVDs packed and my new legwarmers to work on. I found a fabulous pattern on from the Spring '08 Knitty on Ravelry called Mosey - they should be just what I want. Pictures when I've got something a little more interesting to show you than one inch of 2 x 2 rib.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cabin fever

After four days snow bound in Woodstock the boyfriend and I are very much hoping to be able to get into work by bus tomorrow, not least so that we can buy milk. Although we suspect that milk was delivered to the local Co-Op this morning it had all gone again by the time we got there.

Milk tomorrow

The other thing we need to sort out in town is a little bit of last minute Christmas shopping. It seemed a really dumb idea at the beginning of last week when I was staggering round town doing Christmas shopping whilst carrying a whole weekend's packing in a hugh rucksack on my bag but after four days without a bus into town it's looking smarter by the minute. I only have three gifts left to get thanks to my earlier mad dash and a stint on Amazon last week.

Today it's been all about the icicles. As the snow has melted off the roofs the display has got even more spectacular.


Who needs those icicle Christmas lights, eh? (Sorry, Dad.)

We were a bit concerned about how well the guttering would stand up to the weight of the ice and it seems we weren't alone. I snapped the picture above just before a couple of chaps in hard hats came along with a paint roller tied to an extending ladder to knock them down. I hope they got hazard pay, one or two of those icicles were about a yard long.

Clearing icicles

Clearing icicles

There are icicles everywhere, not just on the buildings.

Frozen trees

It looks like this tree collapsed under the weight of its own icicles.

Frozen trees

Indoors there's been successful work and not so successful knitting. The cabled legwarmer which was almost up to my knee yesterday is back to being a ball of yarn again.

Ripped legwarmer

It was a goodly length but not enough ease around the calves, at least not when worn over any of my multitude of winter tights. I do love how these cables look though so I think I'll reknit along similar lines.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, ok it can stop snowing now!

We've only had three days of snow here in north Oxfordshire so we shouldn't really complain, not when some parts of the country have been putting up with it for weeks. I was very thankful when the lovely men from John Lewis delivered our new washing machine promptly at 7:50am on Saturday morning, before the snow started and our road looked like this.

Snowed in

We're very happy with our new toy - we've not quite worked through the mountain of laundry but we can at least put the lid on the basket now.

New washer

So now we're just holed up in the flat, waiting to see whether we'll be able to get away to our respective families for Christmas. At the moment we're still hopeful that things will be a bit clearer by Thursday when we're due to travel but we'll see.

In the meantime the snow certainly is very pretty. I think this year's photos of Blenheim are even more spectacular than last year's.

Winter sun

Queen pool in snow

We went out to enjoy the scenery in the amazing afternoon light yesterday before heading home for tea and comfort knitting (cabled legwarmers).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


The washing machine died last night. Not with a bang, nor a whimper, more of a sinister rattling noise. The boyfriend was so alarmed that he stopped the program halfway through the cycle to investigate. Once we'd got the thing out of the little cave in the kitchen where it lives and got the back off it we didn't find out what was causing the rattling noise but we did discover that in addition to rattling it was also leaking! At 13 years old and having been repaired once already we felt that the washer had reached the end of its natural life.

Of course it would happen when there is an absolute mountain of laundry to be dealt with. Luckily those nice people at John Lewis are able to deliver a new machine to us some time on Saturday - I should have enough clean clothes to last me until then.

Early night tonight (after staying up late with the ailing washer yesterday) in preparation for tomorrow's Christmas party when I'll be giving the wedding dress muslin its first outing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Crafty weekend

Lots of making and doing this weekend. It started off with some baking with my niece - even at age 3 she's showing a lot of flair for cake decorating.

Baking with Laurie

Then there's been lots of knitting on the wedding shawl in the car from London to Bolton and then on the train this morning from Manchester to Oxford. I was so happy to get onto the relatively bead-free edging set-up chart. Without the beads it's going along quite nicely and I had a lovely time knitting away on the train with an M&S picnic and season 2 of Buffy on DVD on my new laptop.

I didn't get too much knitting done whilst actually in Bolton - just a few rows whilst watching all that Strictly - as most of the time was spent getting started on THE DRESS*.

Wedding dress

I'm afraid there will only be snippet views of the dress until the big day so as not to spoil the surprise for the boyfriend but I can tell you that it's going very well so far. We've sewn together the pieces for the front and back bodice and attached all the drapes and it's looking lovely. The next step, when I go up to Bolton for Christmas, is to work out the fit and then start on the skirt. Very exciting.

* with props to Charlotte Bronte (see Villette).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

So what's going on?

A lot, that's what's been going on.

I've just finished the first skein of yarn for the Aeolian shawl. 400 metres down 600 metres to go according to the yardage amounts given in the pattern. It's a shame I can't have a similar countdown on the bead situation. I thought I was going to run out of yarn on the way back from Bolton this weekend. I got loads done on the train on the way up there to the accompaniment of the latest episode of Cast-On* and an Audible download of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It's a somewhat bare-bones abridgement to get it down to 7 hours of audio but I *heart* Lisbeth Salander and the audio book brings the huge bonus that I finally know how all the Swedish names are pronounced. The only one I was getting vaguely right was Salander (sounds like Elmander you see). Anyway, back to the knitting, the only reason that I didn't have to break into the emergency yarn (bought at Hobbycraft on the way to the station!) was that I rather messed one row up in the car on the way to Manchester and had to spend around an hour sorting it out on the train. You can tell how long the rows are taking now by the fact that I only discovered the problem on the next right side row by which time I was in Stafford!

I had a very productive weekend in Bolton. Between the football and Merlin** and with the sterling assistance of my Mum I got all the pieces for the wedding dress cut out. I can't wait for my next weekend up north when I can make a start on the sewing.

* Squee! Whilst Googling for "cast on" to get that link I just discovered that the cast of Glee are going to be on the X Factor semi-final on Dec. 5th. I'm usually a Strictly girl on Saturday nights but that's definitely worth flipping the channel for.

** I'm so pleased for Morgana that she's finally come out as evil. All that surreptitious smirking over people's shoulders must have been wearing.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

You wait all year for a craft fair ...

... and then it turns up the weekend you're out of town! There's a handmade craft fair on at the town hall in Oxford this Saturday between 11am and 4pm. If it's anything like the one I went to last year it should be fabulous. I won't be there however as hopefully I'll be up in Bolton watching the football and getting started on cutting out the pattern pieces for my wedding dress. I say hopefully because, as the boyfriend helpfully pointed out, there is BIG SNOW forecast which makes getting on a train up north, especially a train which is eventually headed to and from Newcastle (where most of the BIG SNOW seems to be) a somewhat perilous adventure. Really, missing the craft fair is the least of my worries.

However, things are coming along nicely on the wedding front. We met with the caterers on Wednesday and had some tea and cake (very good Victoria sponge) and decided that they would suit us very nicely. We're just waiting for an official terms & conditions email now. So with the caterers ticked off that just leaves the rings, and organist, and flowers, and alcohol, and wedding cake ... the list is getting smaller, believe me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You wait 5 years for a nupp ...

... and then 30 come along at once.

Aeolian shawl - nupps

Earlier this evening I knit my very first nupp* (pronounced /n-oo-p/) with the advice of Lien and Sara who are experienced nupp-ers. Two rows later I felt like an expert myself after knitting 30 of the little things in quick succession. I've now knitted my first out of three sets of Agave motifs and according to Sara, who has knit the Aeolian shawlette, it's downhill all the way (in a good way) from here on in.

We had a lovely evening at the pub made even better by unexpected visits from Ruth and the newest Oxford Bluestocking accompanied by Ellen. I was very proud to see my garter stitch cardigan being modelled. It fits just perfectly now which probably means that it will be too small next week! I'll have to see what I can whip up in the next size up.

* a little bobble created by knitting alternate stitches and yarn overs into the same stitch and then purling them together on the next row.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Emptying fast

Seed beads

It's a good thing that I stocked up on beads at the weekend as the level in the original pot is going down at an alarming rate.

I'm well into the transition chart now (where I switch from the yucca to the agave leaf motif and I'm starting to resent the beads a tiny bit as I can just tell how quickly I'd be racing along if I didn't have to do the fiddly bead threading thing twice per repeat. They'd better look nice after all this!

I'm going to drag myself off to do one more row before bedtime in a minute. Early night tonight, partly because I went for a 6 mile run this evening after two weeks off and I am shattered (exercise is only energising when you're fit), partly because I'm heading into work early tomorrow so the boyfriend and I can visit our prospective wedding caterers at lunchtime to sample some tea and cake. I'm really excited at the idea of getting the caterers booked. It's the last really big piece of the wedding (after the church and the reception venue) to be sorted. Everything else on the "to do" list (including making the dress and finishing this shawl) is much less scary.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The real thing!

Squee! I bought my wedding dress today. OK, it's still in its constituent parts but it's still pretty exciting.

Wedding dress

I had a very jolly afternoon in John Lewis looking at fabrics and notions and eating cake.


Well if you're going to have a gateau you might as well have a gateau!

I also stocked up on beads for the Aeolian shawl.

Aeolian shawl

It's coming along nicely now after a bit of a hitch when I realised after starting on the second chart that I was a repeat short on the first chart - Argh! Ripping back beaded lace is tricky. I suspect it might be karmic retribution for me pooh-poohing the idea that a life line might be a good idea last Wednesday at knitting. Maybe I should put one in now.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dress progress report


So the skirt is finally attached to the bodice and ... it's a bit on the large side! It's not easy to tell accurately with one side pinned together and no straps to hold it up at the correct place but I think I could probably take it in by an inch either side and maybe even use the smaller pattern size for the real thing.

I feel like I'm back on track with the dress to a certain extent and it's really reassuring to know that I can make and line the skirt in an evening.

The length at the front is great - the length at the back is OK although I think that I'll be at the head of a long queue of people lining up to tread on it.

I'm also making good progress on the wedding shawl. I got a lot of knitting done on the Eurostar, at the hotel, and at various cafes around Brussels. I've just got three repeats of the first chart to go. The beading hasn't slowed me down as much as I feared thanks to a rather neat little device that I made although it is taking about half an hour to get through two rows at the moment.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I *heart* BXL

BXL mosaic

Just got back from a somewhat damp but otherwise delightful trip to Brussels. Whilst the boyfriend was attending sessions at a conference I spent time exploring the city on foot, window shopping, and drinking more hot chocolate than is really good for me. I really like Brussels - it's such a pretty city and every other shop sells either chocolate or waffles (yay!).

Brussels highlights included:
  • exploring the Cathédrale Saints-Michels-et-Gudule including a photography exhibition by Jean Revillard.
  • drinking tea and eating berry meringue pie whilst knitting in the museum cafe at the Musees Royaux des Beaux Arts. The pictures were good too.
  • seeing rose necked parakeets in the Park de Bruxelles - so cute.
  • wandering round the Grand Place whilst eating a gaufre de Bruxelles - nom!
  • drinking hot chocolate in Laurent Gerbaud chocolatier whilst knitting. I even managed a short conversation about my knitting in French.
  • buying birthday presents for my niece in two really nice shops - the children's section of Tropismes (very browsable bookshop) and Grasshopper (lovely toyshop). Buying children's toys is so much fun.
  • drinking more hot chocolate in Cafe du Vaudeville in the Galeries Hubert with the boyfriend. Sadly I'd already consumed my recommended daily allowance of gaufres so couldn't justify ordering one of the very exciting, plate sized waffles on the menu.
  • finishing the Millennium Trilogy (halfway through the chunnel on the way back) - just in time to see the third film at the cinema. 

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Scrap of lace


I've started the wedding shawl!! The yarn is Manos lace in baby alpaca, silk, and cashmere and the finished shawl will have around 2000 tiny pearlised beads knit into it*. I think squee is the word I'm looking for. I'm making it extra hard on myself by using the really teeny beads - I suspect I won't find a crochet hook small enough to go through these but I'm using a length of beading wire with a short fold in it. Seems to be working OK so far. Of course the reason that I'm using the tiny beads is that those are the ones I happened to have to hand. I'm not actually sure that I have enough beads to see me right through the shawl but in the unlikely event that I can't match them I'll use slightly larger beads further down and call it a design feature.

* assuming I don't go insane first.

Monday, November 08, 2010

FO - Knotty gloves

Knotty gloves

Pattern: Knotty gloves by Julia Mueller
Yarn: Oxford Kitchen Yarns Sock
Needles: 2.5mm

So I didn't get the gloves done for bonfire night but they are finished in time for the boyfriend and my trip to Brussels this week. I do like how they look with my grey coat and they'll be keeping my fingers toasty this weekend.

Knotty gloves

I was running round like mad after work today picking up Euros, a guide book and some holiday reading. I just finished The Girl Who Played with Fire and I now have The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest to look forward to. It's about 700 pages long so that and the three skeins of Manos del Uruguay lace that I picked up at lunchtime today for my wedding shawl should keep me busy on holiday. I've decided (I think) to knit the Aeolian shawl with a beaded border. I don't have any beads yet but I should be able to find some by the time I get to the point when I need them.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Damp squibs

It's a decidedly rainly bonfire night here in Oxfordshire. The boyfriend and I (plus future sister-in-law) went to the fireworks display at Somerville. It may have been raining a bit but it didn't dampen the fireworks or the spirits of the spectators. Much whooping and clapping after the final rocket had exploded (and we all retreated back into the dry). The Knotty gloves weren't finished in time after all - they're a day late and two fingers (and a thumb) short. I expect them to be done by the time I reach Banbury on the train tomorrow which means I need to get organised and sort out some weekend knitting. For the first time in ages I really feel like knitting some proper lace. Something like this or this or this. This is partly because I've been browsing shawls on Ravelry searching for the perfect wedding shawl (they're all so pretty) and partly because I've rediscovered my Peacock feathers shawl. Having gone around for years saying that I didn't want to knit any more laceweight shawls because I had so few occasions to wear them I've finally twigged that the Peacock looks fabulous worn as a scarf.

The trouble is, having decided I want to knit a shawl I don't seem to have any laceweight yarn around. What I do have is lots of odds and ends of sock yarn and a couple of glove patterns that I need to work up so I'll get working on those whilst I work out which of these lovely shawls I want to knit.

All coming together

A bit more progress on the wedding dress muslin this evening. I stitched the side back pieces to the centre back of the bodice and finished the edges for the back drapes. I then switched from sewing to knitting in an effort to finish the Knotty gloves in time for bonfire night tomorrow. I don't think it's going to happen I'm afraid. I've got the best part of four fingers plus a thumb to knit before tomorrow evening and right now I'm alternating between blogging and feeding paper into the printer whilst the boyfriend prints out the wedding invitations from the laptop. After visting most of the stationers in Oxford I finally tracked down some cream C5 envelopes that could be bought as a pack (rather than for 65 pence per envelope). Note to self: next time we embark on anything involving invitations we will source envelopes before finalising layout and design.

We've also had a very encouraging quote on the catering front, much more encouraging at least than the firm that quoted us a price for which, as Cat pointed out yesterday, we could have taken all our guests for a champagne tea at the Randolph and still have money to spare!

Off to bed now - I'm trying to catch up on my sleep in advance of a very early start up north on Saturday morning. Sky TV or ESPN, or whoever's television coverage of the Bolton v Spurs game this weekend means that the game kicks off at 12.45, just have no consideration for the travelling fans!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


V8150 (front bodice)

Today I took my courage in both hands and basted my drapes. They don't quite look like the picture at the moment but I think they'll look OK once I've done the back and am actually inside the dress (it's the sort of dress that needs to be "filled out" to look like anything I think). The encouraging thing is that my machine coped really well with the gathers - I was really afraid that they'd get completely chewed up by the teeth. Next step is to start the gathers for the back drapes.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Fits like a glove

Knotty gloves

I'm afraid there's not much difference between a work-in-progress shot of a left hand glove and a work-in-progress shot of a right hand glove. They are different though. This glove is (touch wood) error free so far. On the first glove I got so absorbed in the cable pattern that I completely forgot to switch from 2x2 rib to stocking stitch at the relevant place and so let myself in for a lot of tedious dropping down and picking up of stitches to remedy the error. If I manage to avoid any further idiotic errors I should be finished just in time to wear these on bonfire night - gloves very important for the waving around of sparklers.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Learning curve

Dress pieces

This is my big box of pieces: paper, fabric, and lining. Much as I love the contrasting blue basting thread I think that for the real thing I'll be basting by machine. I've stitched the front side panels to the front and it required several little snips to ease round the curves, snips which I'd be much happier making with a good firm line of machine basted stitches at the half inch mark. This is all part of the learning process though and yet another reason why it's a really good idea to make a muslin.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Very quick post

Because I am exhausted! I feel like I lost an hour's sleep in the timechange last night rather than gaining one. However, things are going well on the dressmaking front. All the underlining pieces are now basted to the relevant fabric piece and I had a good read through the dress pattern today and I'm fairly confident that I understand what's going on at each step.

I'm also making good progress on the Knotty gloves - glove number one is done and I'm three rounds into glove number two. I'm starting to think that gloves may be the new socks. I'm sure there must be as many ways to work a thumb gusset as to turn a heel.

To Bee (who didn't come off at all stalkerish in her comment the other day), yes, the gloves I was working on at the bus stop were the Knotty gloves. Here you can see glove #1 in all its three-fingered glory.

Knotty gloves

If you see us again at the bus stop do feel free to say "hi". It's a bit strange for me when the blog and the real world collide but I'm sure I'll manage.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Actual sewing

It's been all go on the wedding dress front. I picked up the pattern from Darn it and Stitch on Saturday and then had a lovely afternoon in Reading with Felix on Sunday picking out fabric, lining, and notions for the muslin followed by tea at Bill's Restaurant and Produce Store. I love this place and am hoping to make a return visit very soon.

Anyway since then I must have put in at least fifteen hours' work on the muslin but it's only today that I got on to any actual sewing. It took two or three hours to cut out all the paper pieces and then around another seven to cut out the fabric and lining pieces. There are 18 numbered pieces some of which have to be cut out several times (in both fabric and lining) and three of which have extensions which have to be taped on. Then there's not only lining but also underlining which means even more cutting out! Still, it's all done now and I spent a very jolly evening watching Strictly and Merlin* and basting the fabric pieces to the underlining to create a double thickness. I really like this method of construction. The underlining really adds stability to the satin fabric which is otherwise prone to stretching out of shape on the bias and it should make for a much more secure base layer underneath the drapes. Plus it means I'll have at least three layers of fabric (four with the drapes) to keep me warm in chilly February.

I'll take some pictures of the basted pieces tomorrow - they look so neat with the claret fabric and blue stitching - but today I'll leave you with just the cut out pieces.

V8150 pattern pieces

See what I mean about the multiplicity of pieces? I can see at least three number 16s in this photo alone. The pinned-on labels are, I find, essential for maintaining my sanity. You can tell which piece is which by comparing it with the schematic but it makes life so much easier if you number them as you go along.

* This week Merlin and Arthur seemed to have strayed into Middle Earth. There were winged nazgul and a mini Barad-dur and at one point the Fisher King gave Merlin the light of Elendil. OK, it was the water of Avalon but he more or less said that it would be a light for him in dark places, when all other lights go out.

Friday, October 29, 2010

FO - raspberry Veyla mittens

Finished Veyla mittens

Pattern: Veyla from Whimsical Little Knits 2 by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Pure Dyed Ryeland 4 ply from Blacker Designs (less than one ball!)
Needles: 3.25mm dpns
Wee vintage buttons from Darn it and Stitch.

Veyla button detail

Look at the little buttons!

Veyla leaf detail

And the sweet little leaf! These mittens match my blog.

Knotty cable detail

These gloves match my blog too! I'm really enjoying knitting these. The cable pattern is beautifully plump and squishy and good fun to knit. In fact I'm going back to knitting them right now whilst I watch the second half of It Takes Two and enjoy a tasty, toasty treat.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

You know it’s Autumn when…

There are beautiful autumn leaves on the tree in the little quad at work.

Autumn leaves

And fabulous Hallowe’en cakes in the window of the patisserie that I walk past in the mornings.

Hallowe'en window display

And I have two pairs of gloves on the go in my knitting bag.

The Veyla mittens now have the perfect vintage buttons from Darn it and Stitch. I saw them when I was in there at the weekend picking up the pattern for my wedding dress (squee!) but didn’t have the mittens with me in order to check the colour. The only question now is do I keep these for myself or save them to be a Christmas present for someone? FO post tomorrow.

The other gloves are definitely going to be for me. I’ve wanted to make the Knotty gloves ever since I first saw the pattern but never quite seemed to have the right yarn. Then I realised yesterday that I probably had just enough Oxford Kitchen Yarns sock to make a pair of gloves. I’ve had the skein hanging around for quite some time, in fact at one point it was half a pair of Interlocking Leaves socks, and never found the right project for it until now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pretty little mittens

I'm quite enamoured of this pattern. I'm on Veyla mark two and I think there'll be another pair after this.

Veyla mitten

I love the fancy cuff and the lacy edging and the wee buttons at the wrist. Ok there are no wee buttons as yet but I have some in mind.

It's very much the season for knitting accessories, some cosy mittens here, a woolly hat there. And whilst I'm knitting little things I can get back to working out what the next big thing will be.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Full speed ahead

The wedding planning has been cranked up a notch here. Although the boyfriend and I got engaged waaaaaay back in January we didn't get going with preparations until a week last Thursday when we visited the priest to arrange a date. Since then we've obtained certificates of baptism which in my case involved quite a bit of ringing round as the church where I was baptized closed down in 1990 and is now an antiques centre. Eventually I tracked down the records from the church in the archives of my home town's public library. I got a very sweet email back from the museum assistant who seemed to think it was quite exciting to help me find my records so I could get married (probably makes a change from all the genealogy enthusiasts). On Saturday we went on a marriage preparation day which was really nice. It answered a lot of my questions about what the service would be like, encouraged us to think about some fairly important questions, and generally made me feel I was very lucky to be marrying such a lovely guy. Then today we found out that we have a provisional booking for a reception venue which I'm really excited about. We won't be able to visit it to look round for a few days but that's quite a good thing as it gives us time to get some quotes from other places for comparison. The other really exciting thing that's happened today is I've ordered a dress pattern (for THE dress) from Darn It and Stitch. Squeee!

Away from all the wedding fever we have a finished object.

FO: Shimmer Socks

Shimmer socks

Pattern: Shimmer Socks by Meg Croft
Yarn: Merino slim sock in Merlot by The Knittery
Needles: 2.5mm dpns

I'm really pleased with these. I didn't follow the pattern all the way through, just used the stitch pattern and added in my own toe, heel and cuff. I love how the lifted stitches highlight the semi-solid yarn. I initially went for a picot turned hem but after seeing Felix's socks changed to a 2x2 rib cuff - there's a reason why it's a classic.

Next up - I just started swatching for the o w l s sweater of dreams. Stay tuned for progress.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Roses in autumn

The boyfriend and I had the loveliest afternoon in Blenheim today. We went to hear the choir of St Martin in the Fields singing in the chapel (just fabulous) and then went for a walk to the rose garden and back.

You'd think it was the height of summer from these pictures.

Blenheim roses

I love the rose garden at Blenheim. It's a shame that the boyfriend and I are planning to get married in the middle of winter, otherwise I'd be very tempted to sneak in there for some wedding pics.

Back at the flat I managed a bit of craftiness involving some buttons and an inexpensive M&S sweater.


Just a few buttons


Just a few buttons

For just £2.50 worth of buttons from Darn It & Stitch it's a much fancier sweater. I was going to make little pleats at each button to gather the neck in more but didn't have the right coloured cotton thread. Besides, the neckline is fine if I wear it over a t-shirt and in our office at the moment layering is a good thing. I can't tell from one day to the next if I'll be freezing cold or massively overheated. It almost makes me impatient for the predictability of winter when I know I'll be cold all the time!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Twinkle toes

FO - Hedera socks


Pattern: Hedera by Cookie A.
Yarn: Louet Gems Opal
Needles: 2.75mm

Woot! I have new socks, I've made good progress on a previously stalled pair of socks, and we've just Freecycled our unwanted sofa. I love Freecycle - it's a complete win-win. The nice chap who turned up with a white van got a free sofa and we got rid of our old sofa just over 24 hours after posting an "offered" notice. Admittedly the old table lamp (also up on Freecycle) isn't going quite as quickly but then it's not taking up as much space in our living room. I was really relieved when the guy who took the sofa arrived in a van - one response to the ad asked whether the sofa would fit in a Picasso. It might, but only with great difficulty.

Plus I have new yarn and a shiny new pattern idea which I'm very excited about. I'm going to get knitting on that now whilst watching Spooks.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quick Random Tuesday

I'm onto my second Hedera sock in some silvery Louet Gems Opal I bought back at the iKnit day in 2009. I wasn't too enthused about knitting with the yarn (it's a bit on the thick side) but on 2.75mm needles these are turning out to be surprisingly delicate and lacy. Knitting up quickly too - I only started sock #1 on Sunday evening.

I'm listening to Wolf Hall read by Simon Slater as an Audible download. For those of you that think that either the non-member's price (£23.99) or the monthly subscription (£7.99) seem a bit steep I have two words for you - free trial. Wolf Hall is fantastic btw. I'd not previously read the book and I'm loving it. I'm about 6 hours down, 18 to go.

I'm just about to head off to the running club for the regular Tuesday night run then it's home for Masterchef the Professionals on video. Hurrah for the return of Monica and Michel!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cloisonné yay!

The ends are woven in, the buttons (I used some of the ones which Felix bought me from Duttons last year) are sewn on and the Cloisonné jacket is ready for me to wear to work tomorrow.

Cloisonne jacket

Pattern: Cloisonné jacket by Deborah Helmke
Source: Interweave Fall 2010
Needles: 4.5mm circs
Yarn: (just over) 5 balls New Lanark DK in natural brown and 1.5 balls in ecru.
Modifications: knit in the round with a steek and knit-on button band; I also knit just one lace repeat round the bottom hem.

I'm so pleased with how this turned out. The shape is great - just around the length of a cropped jacket and the yarn is delicious. It's softened up amazingly after blocking and just feels fabulous. This is going to be lovely ad cosy to wear in the office this autumn.

Cloisonne jacket

I really like the garter stitch collar too - it's a detail I'll be borrowing for future projects I'm sure.

It's a good thing that the Cloisonne jacket worked out so well because the eyelet cap is a bit of a flat failure. Actually "flat" is the wrong word, it's more of a floofy failure. Blocking didn't sort out the problem, rather after blocking the hat has assumed the proportions of two hats. That being so I'm going to follow Vanessa's example over at do you mind if I knit? and cut it in half. I'm pretty hopeful that I can at least get a ribbed beanie out of the lower half.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Finished objects galore

I've finished off a whole bunch of projects this week. Currently blocking in various locations around my living room are the Cloisonne jacket, Eyelet cap, and a garter stitch baby jacket.

The Cloisonne jacket was all but done before I went on holiday but I felt it was too bulky to cart around Ireland just for the sake of finishing the collar.

Cloisonne jacket

There are still a few ends to weave in here and there, the steek facing needs to be tacked down in a couple of places, and it needs buttons but it should be ready to wear by the weekend I hope.

Garter stitch baby jacket

This one doesn't need anything else to make it ready to wear - it just needs the intended wearer to arrive on the scene :-)

Eyelet cap

This one doesn't need anything else doing to it either. In fact I'd be wearing it already if it weren't for the fact that it's floofing out at the top of the brim in a most unattractive manner (think a handspun Shetland chef's hat).

Finalment we have a freezer paper stencilled t-shirt made at Ellen's gathering at the weekend using a stencil from this fabulous book which was brought by Abby.

Freezer paper stencilled shirt

I have to say that freezer paper stencilling is the most fun ever. It's crafty, you get a great finished object, and there's a high instant gratification quotient. I also stencilled this cute owl (traced from a card that Kate sent me).

Freezer paper stencilled owl

I was so pleased with how this turned out. Check out Ellen's post if you want to see the big reveal.