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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 Cath├ędrale 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.