Friday, 19 December 2014

bag-o-rama

The sewing machine has been buzzing all week. There have been a load of new fabrics arriving, and I'm really excited to get them into the shop. The Foxes were posted yesterday, and half of them have gone already!

I love the sheep and spot combination. That was a suggestion from the lovely folk on Instagram. I've also tweeked the dimensions of the Everyday Knitting Bag so that they fit two yarn cakes side by side.

Both bags are available to order now, and the next posting day will be Tuesday. Get in quick if you fancy those foxes!

 

Monday, 15 December 2014

scrap quilting

Here's something I'm completely chuffed about. It's a thing from the bag of unfinished Christmas things, so that's something to be excited about to begin with. It's also my first ever quilt. That's why the edges are a bit wavey, and some of the blocks don't match exactly. And, this little quilt is already winging it's way across the seas to a family who are expecting. That just warms the cockles of my heart!

Is there another of these in my future? I'm not sure. The process of making a patchwork quilt is made up of a few simple actions that are repeated ad nauseum, with a great deal of precision. You'd be forgiven for thinking that this sounds a lot like knitting. And it is, except for the precision part. Knitting is never going to be millimetre perfect. In knitting there is room for a bit of fudging. Often you can do it in the dark without looking. Patchwork is not like that. Watching a subtitled film, whilst stitching all those tiny sections of fabric - that's never going to happen.

But I do love the frugal nature of it all, and the idea of nothing waisted. I love the memories of all the people and places that go with the fabrics. If you've been reading here for a while, you'll know that I love collecting fabrics from the places I've travelled. I love fabrics that have been gifted. I visited the Quilt Museum in York earlier this year, and it was the provenance of all the fabrics in the older pieces that really appealled to me.

There is already a rather large scrap bag accumulating beside the sewing table. This patchwork thing is not something you can just walk away from.

 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

short excursions

I love watching people take their holiday photos, and they way the choose to compose them. Waiting for everybody to pass by so that they can take a pic that looks like they weren't surrounded by hundreds of other tourists. Snapping twenty shots in the hopes of getting one that looks spontaneous, and queing in order to take the same photo that thousands of other people have. My fasincation with Instagram is an extention of this. How are people choosing to frame their lives. What are they including. Or more importantly, what are they excluding. I love looking at the details that they never consciously included. Things that tell you more about them than they ever intended.

Weirdly, I really enjoy playing 'indentify that spinning wheel' when photo's show glimpses of spinning wheels. For The Hairy Man it's 'identify that insect/creature'.

I'm at Kings Cross watching folk que for Platform 9 3/4, following my annual mole check up. (Wear sunscreen people, WEAR SUNSCREEN!) This is a whistle stop 24 hour trip. I've finished my Christmas shopping, and caught up with a chum; but there isn't much in the way of inspiration. Actually, that's not true. K is an inspirational knitter, and perhaps I ought to ask her if I can bring you some of her adventures in knitting. She has a completely different approach from me, so a trip to her house is always intriguing.

For this trip, I have plucked the Woolly Wormhead Mystery KAL out of the Christmas knitting bag. It stalled after the first clue, becuase it didn't seem to be the right size, I might not have enough yarn, and the final operation on clue one required a bit of attention. It's funny the little things that can bring a project to a griding halt. The whole pattern is out now, but I'm still just working through the installments.

The yarn is beautiful, but more on that later.

 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

aire valley aran

It all started with those darned leg warmers. In winter I used to wear a pair of knee high boots with my skirts and dresses. Now that my main outdoor duties in the winter are walking the dogs, and checking the green houses at the allotment, knee high boots seem a bit fancy. So I took it into my head that legs warmers would be a good casual substitute. Now that they are finished I'm constantly worried that I might be looking a bit Flash Dance, but that is not the purpose of this post.

The focus of today's post is the yarn. West Yorkshire Spinners are local to me. By local I mean that they are in the same county. I can buy their reasonably priced yarn directly from the supplier knowing that no part of it has been outside of Yorkshire by the time it gets to me. But it's not so local that I could nip out for a ball everytime I was wanting to cast on a pair of socks. Now that I've written that, I'm wondering why I couldn't. Is 70 miles too far to travel for sock yarn?

So that was the first thing that appealed. The yarn was local. Their prices are comparible with other similar yarns, and they have a lovely selection of colours. And their Aire Valley and Signature ranges are completely machine washable. One would have thought that I'd be all over that like a rash. You know how I love to shrowd my non knitting family and friends in machine washable knits. So why has it taken till now for me to get this yarn on my needles?

Nylon. The Aire Valley and Signature ranges are machine washable because they are 25% nylon. I have nothing against a bit of judiciously applied nylon. When it comes to socks and gloves that need to be hardwearing and hit the washing machine often, nylon and polyamide just seems prudent. But does one really want nylony things covering the parts of you that you want to breath, such as heads, necks, and armpits. I really wasn't convinced that I wanted to be knitting with aran and DK yarns who's fibre content seemed to contradict the whole purpose of wool.

Enter the leg warmers project. It's seemed like the perfect opportunity to see exactly what Aire Valley Aran was like in the hand. I'm toying with this wee ball of yarn as I write. I can feel the nylon. There is no way I'd want to knit a garment with this, and it's definately not a yarn I'd use for children's things.

It is perfect for leg warmers that have been through the washing machine twice already. It is also ideal for a hat being gifted to a bloke who is likely to get it grubby, and throw it in the wash without thinking. I have another whole ball of this, and am toying with the idea of making a pair of Urban Necessities for a fellow who would definately get them dirty whilst throwing a ball for his dog. It is a strong hard wearing yarn, perfect for all those accessories that are going to have a ruggard outdoor life.

As much as I had my reservations about this yarn, there is a time and a place for a goodly quantity of nylon. How do you feel about nylon in DK and aran weight yarns?

 

 

Monday, 8 December 2014

gift knitting

On the left is the bag of things that still need to be finished for Christmas. On the right is the thing I started yesterday because I wanted to knit something inspirational (and warm).

Christmas seems to have divided knitters this year. Personally, I find gift giving at Christmas stressful, whether the gifts are hand made or not. But - that bag on the left is not stressing me at all. In a minute I'm going to pluck something out of that bag to work on. This week I'm going to keep all those projects ticking over. If they aren't finished in time - well somebody is going to get a lovely surprise in January.

 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

knitter stig

Today I'm in a bit of a stress. And it's a stupid stress, which is really annoying. We have entered the pre Christmas present buying zone. Some of you are saying "But haven't you sent the presents that have to go all the way to New Zealand?" That is a deadline that never gets hit in this house. As long as the presents are sent by the time the Christmas tree goes up on the twelfth, the postman doesn't let me down. Or at least my family don't complain that the postman has let me down.

The problem this year is that I have no idea what to buy anybody. When I think of the people I know exactly what to knit for them, but that ship has sailed. There is a list of folk to get presents for, a stack of presents that have already been purchased, and a load a parcels arriving in the post. Yesterday I bought a load of wrapping stuff in the vain hope that sorting presents into their family bags might help to organise things.

And now I'm sat here trying to work out how to segue from that little grinch in to the last of the November hats. Can you believe I spent last month making hats, and I can't imagine any of them on the heads of the folk that need presents! They are all the wrong size to start, and giving hats to folk who are in the midst of summer seems strange.

As usual I've used the Barley pattern from Tin Can Knits as the basis. Gauge is different, but the general construction method is the same.

The dark grey hat is made from Cascade 220 Superwash, which is a new to me yarn. Don't buy this yarn thinking that it is anything like Cascade 220. It's twice the price, knits to a different gauge, and feels completely different in the hands. However, I would buy this yarn again in a jiffy. If you are making things for anybody who is not going to ever handwash anything, this is a marvellous option. 220 Superwash is fairly competitively priced compared to other superwash wool yarns; but it comes in an exciting array of colours, and the Quattro and Paints ranges are fun without having to splurge on a hand dyed yarn.

I'm not usually so transfixed on the inexpensive yarns. Lately it feels like everywhere I look, somebody is waving a £18 hank of sock yarn. And sometimes I like to remind myself that you can go just as fast with the reasonably priced workhorse yarns. Just call me Stig.

 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

long ribbed tubes

When I started knitting these last week, leg warmers seemed like such a good idea. Surely you can churn out a pair in about the same time it takes to knit a hat.

But low, it has passed me by that I am taller than average. And that all the extra length is in the legs. My body is the same length as everybody elses.

I'm sure Jane Richmond wrote her Leg Warmer pattern quite innocently, never intending for it to become 2x2 rib purgatory for tall knitters.