27 October 2008

Life underground (aka life as a student teacher)

Sorry this blog has been so neglected of late. I started training as a primary school teacher in September and have been submerged in a torrent of study, deadlines and essays since then. I do keep things updated on Ravelry - takes little effort and not very much of my overworked brainpower - so if you want to know what I've been up to in the knitting world (which is not all that much given the limited amount of time I get to knit), then you an find me here:


Yours exhaustedly


26 June 2008

Nearly FOs (or how to avoid blocking)

I go through frustrating periods when I don't quite finish things. My mum always got frustrated with my dad for doing just that. And, when I picked up knitting again a couple of years ago, vowed I would never have lots of UFOs sitting around.

In my defence, I am now trying to get ahead of my PGCE in September and am doing lots of pre-reading. On top of that, my initial assignment (before they have taught us anything) has landed on the electronic doormat and I am skirting round that too.

The UFOs in question are nearly complete. In fact, the Aleita Shell (the blue tank) is actually complete and simply needs to be blocked. But there's the rub. I haven't got the time - or indeed the motivation - to spend ages bent over it, pinning it out and all the other fun that goes with blocking. I hope I can get to it in time to wear it over the summer otherwise it will become a tank top over the winter.

Same story for the Sally Melville dress (which is from her Needful Yarns: Sally Melville Collection leaflet and strangely calls itself a cabled jumper. A jumper in the UK is a pullover or sweater, but definitely not a dress.) The knitting is complete and has been for some weeks. However, it needs blocking and then sewing up (all the way up those side seams). Having said that, there is not a lot of call for a knit dress in Aran weight in the summer, even here in temperate England. But, if I don't manage to get to it before the autumn, the coursework will kick in properly and any thoughts of blocking will just be a distraction from actually doing any coursework. It will become like washing up, tidying up or spring cleaning when I was at university the first time, during the run up to exams. When faced with the prospect of revising for the entire afternoon, the washing up would suddenly become appealing and the spring cleaning an absolute imperative.

Here's hoping I get to it before this time next year, then.

Going Japanese

For the summer, I've decided two things.

  1. I should try to stop adding to my ever-increasing stash
  2. I should therefore knit things using up some of that stash

As a result, on the needles at the moment is Leaf Kimono Top (Interweave Knits Summer 08). it's meant to be knit in a lovely linen yarn but as my stash contains no linen whatsoever, I found the nearest summery substitute - Rowan Handknit DK cotton. It's a very dark bottle green and I've had it in my stash for years. I think I bought it when I lived in Scotland and the nearest John Lewis (over in Edinburgh) was having a sale. I moved down to Surrey in September 1999 so that shows how long it's been lurking in my cupboards.

I have finished the front and back, having had to remind myself how to knit lace and also learn how to decrease in lace. It took me about three attempts to work out where I was in the pattern. I didn't engage my brain particularly well on the first goes and managed to misalign the second half of the lace pattern. It's taught me a lot and has made me a better knitter. No pain, no gain...

I'm now 2/3 of the way through the first sleeve. I may yet still hate the FO. It's the first time I've knit anything like this. I usually go for things with negative ease but this should end up with the reverse in abundance. It's meant to be loose and airy, perfect for throwing over a camisole. The jury is out. It may get to the pile of "Things I am going to chalk up to experience" and languish at the back of my wardrobe for years to come.

7 May 2008

And another FO

This was a cardigan I started on the plane to Toronto, rather than schlepping Promenade with me for fear of getting it confiscated at security. I like the yarn - Sirdar Preuvian natural (or something like that) in pale pink, grey and with the odd hint of blueish mauve running through it.
It was an easy knit, with enough shaping to keep me interested. It was virtually complete for weeks but as I was sewing up the shawl collar, I was not giving it my full attention and inadvertently joined the mid-back seam inside out. I had yet to master the appropriate stitch and so had backstitched it. I sew my seams to stay put and having sedwn in all the loose ends neatly, realised my mistake and had to set about unpicking it all. In so doing, I managed to damage the edge 2x2 rib. I tried to salvage it but made a pretty awful mess of the second attempt at the seam. I put it aside in disgust and tried to ignore it. Weeks later, I came back to it and had another go, having now mastered how to sew up a rib seam. The finished article isn't perfect due to the damaged edge stitch but it is 100% better than it was and is now wearable. I'll try to get a photo of me in it some time as it really does look better in person.

"Kite" on a real, live 5 year old

As promised, here are some photos of my 5 year old daughter wearing her sweater for the first time. She had just come out of the bath, hence the wet hair, but was so eager to wear it that she insisted on doing so before going to bed. Ironically, hot, dry, sunny weather has now arrived (at least for this week) so she hasn't worn it since. I'm quite pleased. I made it intentionally with room for growth, although the sleeves are a little on the long side.

30 April 2008

Finished objects abound

Rogue is complete. Finally. After what seemed like an age blocking. I have to confess it was a pig to block. Debbie Bliss and I are definitely not the best of friends. I wanted to have this hoodie in something warm but soft and cozy. I chose DB cashmerino aran. I think it was probably a mistake. It stretched like fury when I washed it in preparation for blocking and it took me a very long time to block it to the right size and shape. Even after blocking it feels like it is stretching and will probably end up a mini-dress. It also looks as if it has the tendency ot pill horribly. Hey, you live and learn...

The other FO is a pullover for my 5 year old daughter. She has been nagging me for a mummy-made jumper ever since I embarked on Chelsea for my son. It has finally been blocked and finished and when I get a moment I will post some photos of the proud recipient wearing it. It's a pattern from the Rowan Story book of Little Knits and was knitted in Rowan All Seasons Cotton. So, unlike her darling elder brother (who declared on first and subsequent wearings of Chelsea that it itches) loves it and wanted to wear it to bed on her first evening of it being finished. Don't you just love an appreciative audience??

26 April 2008

What a difference a day makes... (well, actually about 16 days)

The picture on the left was taken on Sunday 6 April when we had freak snowfall, both for this area and for this time of year. The poor buds trying to poke their heads out were all but swamped by the snowfall. My daffodils were completely flattened by the unexpected 2.5 inch white blanket which appeared over the space of about an hour. The photo on the right shows those same buds flourishing in the spring warmth a mere 16 days later. April is always a mixed month in the UK and this year has proved that rule.