Knitting around the world

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Diary of A Knitter - Hogmanay 2011

Shawls of 2011
Start Weight - 489
Weight Lost - 4
Weight Gained - 0
Balance - 485

The Year's End

So here we are on the last day of 2011. A time of reflection, a time to look back at what was achieved or not in the last 12 months.
My own year got off to a not so good start with illness striking me a blow early on in the year, this caused me severe anxiety issues which in turn led to agoraphobic tendencies. Not good. I spent a good few months not leaving the house unless I really had to. But all was not lost, I discovered the delights of watching road race cycling on the TV and I re-kindled my acquaintance with Ravelry, which in turn opened up a hitherto unexplored world of patterns, yarns and friends.
Around June I cast on my first ever lace shawl using a charted pattern. I was terrified, I had steered well clear of charts up to that point. The shawl I chose was Girasole by Jared Flood, not for the faint hearted some may say, but I was up to the challenge and produced a piece of knitting which I will always be proud. It was knitted in baby yarn for the 12th great grandchild of a lovely friend. Baby Sophie seems happy being snuggled up in her lovely shawl and that thought makes me happy.
So moving on through the year I used my love of all things knitting to help me overcome my fears, and by the end of September I was ready to start back to work taking things very slowly. All that time when I was off work my hands kept moving, so here are some of the fruits of my knitting year 2011.

General Knitting

If I discovered anything about my knitting this past year it was,
  1. Circular needles are for me.
  2. Charts are just mind over matter, one stitch at a time.
  3. I love knitting shawls.
  4. I love knitting bottom-up shawls
  5. Stitch-markers are my best friend

The last day of the year for me is also a day to look forward. 
So what will 2012 bring, well who knows?
I know that for me I will try to be a stronger person mentally and I will try not to take things so personally that they eat away at my self confidence. 
I will continue to knit and enjoy my passion for lacy shawls.
I will continue with the hexi-puffs, and one day a quilt may appear.
Hopefully my stash will deplete somewhat.
And finally hopefully DH will be given some relief from the constant pain he is in and he can start to lead a more normal life.

I leave you and 2011 with a Scottish blessing of sorts,
A guid new year to yin an a', an mony may ye see.

Happy New Year everyone, stay safe and happy crafting.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Diary of a Knitter - Week 4 Begins

Start Weight - 487
Weight Lost - 2
Weight Gained - 4
Balance - 489

Christmas, been and gone.

So it is all over for another year and whilst the diet took a bit of a hit, both yarn wise and food wise it could have been a lot worse.
I as you can see gained 4 skeins, these were all part of a lovely gift of sock weight yarns from my lovely hubby who encourages my passion for shawl knitting.

Ripples Crafts delightful yarns.

He had ordered this surprise pack from Ripples Crafts who is an independent dyer in the North west of Scotland. Helen the owner had asked him a few questions about what I like to knit and colours and she put together this gift for him. The colours are from the left, Ginger, Assynt Jewels, Very Plummy and Mulberry Delight, these were accompanied by the cute wee project bag and some locking stitch markers.
I also got some knitting goodies from my Mum. She gave me a book I had had my eye on for sometime called Knit Swirl by Sandra McIver.

This is a collection of knitting patterns for jackets all knitted in one piece with if I remember correctly just one seam to sew up.
I must admit to having already cast on one of the jackets, the Strata Sphere using some yarn from my stash.

I will keep you updated with my progress. So far I have managed the cast on of 561 stitches and almost completed the 1st welt.
Mum also got me some cute snowmen stitch markers and a set of Knit-Pro metal needle tips which I had asked for.
These tips are also for a specific project I have in mind. I recently bought my very first skein of lace weight yarn and a friend in one of the forums I read on Ravelry has a design that I fell in love with. It is the Persica shawl,

this shawl looks just divine and when I saw it I knew I would just have to knit it.

So with all the other things I already have on the needles I think I have my work cut out for the beginning of 2012.

Hope Christmas brought you all you wished for.

Stay safe and happy crafting.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Diary of a Knitter - Somewhere in Week 3

Start Weight - 487
Weight Lost - 1
Weight Gained - 0
Balance - 486

Getting Lost

So, I kept the diary almost daily for two weeks, then I have kind of got lost. It has been a busyish time at home. DH had his birthday, I had a cold and felt awful. I did keep knitting though and have lost another skein in weight, so the diet is still on track. Mind you it is now Christmas Eve and who knows if I will receive some yarny goodness from Santa tomorrow. Have I been a good girl this year? Well, I was not out and about much due to illness, so I really have not had much opportunity to be naughty.  I have been naughty on the yarn front though, I do know that. Too many Oh Shiny's have crept into my stash, which is why I am keeping this diary and am on this diet.
I really must concentrate in 2012 on finishing what I start, keeping my knitting ADD under control and of course sticking to the diet. Will I do it? Only time will tell.

So am I ready for the big day tomorrow? Well all the shopping is done, all the food bought, presents wrapped, so yes I think I am ready. No tree this year, so our gifts are piled up under the fire, much to the bemusement of kitten Mysti for whom this is all new,

Is there any yarn in there?

Now back to my knitting and a happy afternoon and evening tracking the movements of Santa on the Norad Tracks Santa website, Great fun for all ages, okay yes I am a big kid at heart.

So all that remains to be said is a Merry Christmas to everyone, stay safe and happy crafting

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Diary of a Knitter - Day 13

Start Weight - 488
Weight Lost - 1
Weight Gained - 0
Balance - 487

Back to Knitting

So without pesky interferences like work or shopping etc, yesterday I was able to concentrate on getting some knitting done. I for once concentrated on one project and managed to finish the centre section of Sylvia's shawl.

It looks somewhat bunched up on the needle, but is growing along nicely. I am enjoying my first experience with Knit Picks yarn. This is the Shine Sport a soft cotton based yarn with a lovely sheen which glides easily on the needles making knitting with it a pleasure. This section finishes with 288 stitches on the needle, then the next row begins the pattern section and the stitch count immediately jumps to 432. So the long rows have begun, but the 4 row pattern is so easy to remember that it makes for great TV knitting. 
And at this time of year TV knitting is just what is needed. There are some great looking new programmes coming on the box this Christmas and a few old favourites which I will try not to miss. I love the crime drama genre, both UK based and some US based. Also our own news based comedy panel shows keep me giggling at their unique take on the weeks happenings.
Oops off on a tangent there, so back to knitting. All that effort yesterday also resulted in a weight loss of 1 skein, so with 2 weeks of the diet passed I am pleased that I am down 5 skeins overall. 
A grey dreich sort of day here, so more knitting is on the cards and maybe some baking too, it is DH's birthday tomorrow after all. And we all need cake on our birthday.

Stay safe and happy crafting.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Diary of a Knitter - Days 10, 11 & 12

Start Weight - 488
Weight Lost - 0
Weight Gained - 0
Balance - 488

That Work Thing!

Santa & Elf

Yes I have been missing again. This time because a wee thing called work got in the way. I don't have regular work hours during the winter months, but I am always available to help out when required and this was one such occasion when my presence was requested.
It was our annual Supersonic Santa weekend where Santa leaves his busy North Pole behind and comes to meet our wee visitors on board our Boeing 707 in the shadow of Concorde.

We also had a visit from the wonderful local theatrical groups Musical Youth & Encore who treated us to a variety of beautifully sung Christmas carols. Which sounded just divine in the acoustics of the hanger.

We had crafty "make and take" for the youngsters with the chance to print their own wrapping paper or make 3D Christmas cards. Also a look back at Christmas during war-time with toys and recipes  from the era.

Now to Knitting

So the above activity ate up many hours, but I still managed to finish all the knitting on the Daybreak for DH. Still have the ends to be sewn in and washed and blocked, but I am so pleased to have finished the long part. Pictures and finished item to appear here soon. Talking of which DH's birthday is on Wed, so I'd better get a move on!!

Stay safe and happy crafting.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Diary of a Knitter - Days 8 & 9

Start Weight - 490
Weight Lost - 2
Weight Gained - 0
Balance - 488


Yes, yesterday I was missing in action. With good reason though, I was out with my friends from work for our Christmas lunch in Edinburgh. 14 of us met up and enjoyed a lovely Chinese buffet lunch in the heart of the city. This was the first time I had been in Edinburgh, other than for hospital appointments with DH, for about 2 years. Wow, the sheer amount of people was amazing. I had my trusty wee camera with me and took a couple of snaps to share with you.

Scott Monument on Princes Street

Balmoral Hotel in the afternoon sunshine.

It was fun for me looking at the city of my birth through the eyes of a tourist, and had I not been alone by this time I would have spent longer.
Yesterday was also the first time in about 4 years I had been on a train. What a great way to travel, from our wee coastal town to the center of the city in 15 minutes. No worrying about one-way streets or where to park, just off the train, up the ramp and there you are. I will definitely be doing that again.

Now to Knitting

So even with all that excitement you may have noticed a weight loss in my diet. Yes with my on-going efforts to finish the Daybreak, I have used up another 2 skeins. I am a happy bunny. The knitting of this shawl should be finished this evening, then just to wash and block. So it looks like it will be ready in time for DH's birthday, which might just make up for his sweater not being. There really is not much hope of the sweater being finished before 2012 kicks in. Ah well, the best laid plans and all that!!

Stay safe and happy crafting.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Diary of a Knitter - Day 7

Start Weight - 490
Weight Lost - 0
Weight Gained - 0
Balance - 490

So Near and Yet So Far

Well before the eyes gave up last night I made it to just one row short of finishing the second section of my Daybreak shawl/scarf for DH. This means the stripy section is all but finished. I am making a great effort to finish this as his birthday is next week and there is absolutely no way barring the intervention of the knitting fairies that I will finish his Birthday Boy sweater in time.
Sometimes my knitting ADD is a curse!! I seem too easily drawn to the ooh shiny and new!! And if I have suitable yarn and needles free then cast on it is. I have seen threads in some forums on Ravelry which throughout the year have Cast on Mania, where they cast on a new project every day for a month. Now whilst I could easily do this I have avoided these threads like the plague as I have enough trouble with where I am just now. So I will continue on my personal path to knitting Nirvana through my stash reduction plan and casting on only when I have finished two projects. My aim is to have no more than 4 different projects on the needles at any one time. These will eventually consist of 1 lacy project, 1 easy TV knitting project, 1 scrappy project and 1 other. Of course I may have to deviate from this if I receive any more commission work, which of course will take a precedence.

Other Stuff!!

So away from the needles yesterday evening I made a start on the dreaded (to me) wrapping of the Christmas presents. This year I have only 4 lots to wrap, but I find it along with the writing of cards the most stressful time of the season. I love choosing gifts for folk and hoping that I have gotten just the right thing, but I simply detest the wrapping up. Maybe it is because I am not very artistic, or that I am naturally clumsy, but I simply have nightmares about this part of the process. Also my handwriting is not the neatest at the best of times, so cards written under stress are more like a scribbled mess than written with love.
Anyway, here is evening number 1's effort.

This has all now been squeezed into a huge box and is off in the post to it's intended recipients.
Just 3 more lots to go.

We are also running behind on the decorations, so will have to dig them out and make a start. No tree this year, as we simply don't have the space, and with a 9 month old kitten it would be asking for trouble, but enough pretties to make the place look festive.

Stay safe and happy crafting.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Diary of a Knitter - Day 6

Start Weight - 490
Weight Lost - 0
Weight Gained - 0
Balance - 0

Mojo at a Low

A funny day yesterday, after sharing my high of the finished Damask, my desire to knit hit a low. I just could not settle into any sort of rhythm and therefore have nothing much of significance to report today. The only thing I could really get my teeth into was my sock weight scraps blanket which is all garter stitch. So a bitty of progress on that, but as it is knitted on 3mm needles it does not look like much.

Scrappy Wappy Do Dah

As I said before it has an unusual construction which evolves as a diamond shape off the needles which means you continually increase, but no decreases are ever required so you can knit until you run out of yarn, or the square reaches the size you want. It is such easy knitting and until it grows too big will make a great take along project as no pattern or marking off of rows is required.

Oh well off to wrap the pressies at last. Hopefully my mojo will return this evening.

Stay safe and happy crafting.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Diary of a Knitter - Day 5

Start Weight - 490
Weight Lost - 0
Weight Gained - 0
Balance - 0

It's Finished

Butterscotch Damask
I had a feeling of euphoria yesterday. I finally got round to taking something out of the finishing box of doom and I have a fully finished project to share.
I so loved knitting this shawl, the pattern is by one of my favourite designers, Kitman Figueroa, and the shawl is a bottom up construction. This means you cast on a large number of stitches and the shawl decreases in size the more you knit. Such fun to see the pattern emerge and feel each row getting quicker and quicker to knit.

Body stitch detail
The yarn I used for this was some yummy Malabrigo Silky DK. This was so soft on the hands and just a pleasure to work with.
Even though I am on a yarn diet I can definitely see more of this creeping into my stash in the future.
I must admit though that my least favourite part of knitting this shawl was the dreaded nupps. Trying to purl 7 stitches together tried both my patience and my fingers. I unfortunately found out too late about using a crochet hook to make life easier. Ah well, knitting is a learning curve, and when we stop learning we stop enjoying.

Border detail
I have actually cast on this shawl again, this time in a gorgeous semi-solid pink for my lovely friend Yvonne and this time I am using beads instead of the nupps. Yes another learning curve, as I have never used beads before, and I was astonished at just how small they are when they arrived the other day.
Never mind I have researched how to add them and have decided to go for the crochet hook method. I will let you know how I get on as I come to them.

Knitting to the Power of Four

Yesterday I noticed something. I had not really noticed it before, but I suppose I have been doing it subconsciously for sometime now. It would seem that I knit to the power of four. As you know I have a variety of projects on the needles at any one time, (usually too many) and I noticed that I knit four rows on a project then move on and repeat, rotating through each in turn. This may mean that projects take a while to finish, but it also ensures that I don't ever get bored. Am I a freak? Am I just odd? Who knows, but it works for me!

Stay safe and happy crafting. 

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Diary of a Knitter - Day 4

Start Weight - 491
Weight lost - 1
Weight gained - 0
Balance - 490

So another skein bit the project yesterday. One skein of Knit Picks Shine Sport on the baby shawl for my friend Sylvia. I am motoring along with this project. It is easy TV knitting, all knit in the round with  8 sections of gradual increases on every second row. I can knit away and watch my favourite programmes at the same time.

We woke up to a dusting of snow on the ground yesterday, which with DH's disability, meant a day in the house. So I decided to get on with blocking one of the projects in the finishing box. So it was duly soaked, rolled in a towel, and then pinned out on my blocking boards. It is just about dry now, so final pics will come tomorrow.

I also started thinking about my knitting kit. Now aside from needles, what could I simply not live without? I came up with 5 things,

from left to right, tape measure, needle gauge, snips, needles for sewing up and stitch markers.

You may think a needle gauge is an odd choice, but I almost exclusively use circular needles which do not have the sizes marked on them like straight needles do.

I keep my nearest and dearest kit all together in a make up bag. I used to buy a fair bit of Avon cosmetics in my life before knitting and accumulated a fair few of these wee bags, so now I have found a perfect use for them.

Knitting Kit Bag

No wrapping of Christmas goodies was done yesterday, so hopefully today I will get my butt into gear and make a start, but to be honest my needles are screaming at me, and I do so want to just relax and knit. So what to do???

Stay safe and happy crafting.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Diary of a Knitter - Day 3

Start Weight - 492
Weight Lost - 1
Weight Gained - 0
Balance - 491

Yay!!! I have a loss to report today. 1 skein of gorgeous black Rico Design Merino DK bit the dust in my Daybreak project for DH.

I may also manage to add to that tomorrow, as I also knitted on the baby shawl yesterday, and just the fact that I could no longer keep my eyes open meant that I did not finish a skein on that.

So if I use up that other skein today, does that mean I will immediately rush out to buy more yarn in my 2 - 1 diet? The answer to the is a resounding NO. I am promising myself that I will not do that. I will treat myself sometimes, but not every time. After all, those 77.000+ yards add up to just over 44 miles. That is approximately the distance between Edinburgh and Glasgow, the two major cities here in Scotland's central belt. And since this year so far I have knitted just over 11 miles of yarn it means I still have enough to keep me going for four more years.

Anyway, there is more than knitting to be done today. I have great plans to finally begin washing and blocking some items from my finishing box. I am a terrible procrastinator when it comes to such things. All the fiddly bits are done, the ends all sewn in, it is just finding the space in this tiny flat to lay out the blocking boards and get on with it. Hope fully tomorrow this Damask,

will be looking much better.

Also there are plans afoot to start wrapping Christmas presents. All are bought, just to be wrapped and sent out. Oh and the dreaded writing of the cards, definitely my least favourite part of Christmas.

Stay safe and happy crafting.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Diary of a Knitter - Day 2

Start Weight - 492
Weight Lost - 0
Weight Gained - 0
Balance - 492

So day 2 is over. (I write this diary the day after).
No weight lost on the diet yet, but I am so, so close to losing 1.

Yesterday we had severe storms battering us here in Scotland, so what better to cosy up and sort out my knitting. And that is just what I did. I decided early to take stock of what is on the needles at the moment, so I can share with you my progress (or lack of) in this diary.
So here goes (listed in no particular order).

Birthday Boy sweater, allegedly for DH's birthday which is rapidly approaching on the 21st of this month.

Daybreak shawl/scarf. Also for DH, this time for Christmas with a distinct possibility of actually being ready. 

A Girasole shawl in fingering weight yarn for me. I was given money for my birthday back in June and I chose this lovely merino from The Loopy Ewe to knit this beautiful shawl, but life took over and I have only recently cast on.

Again some yarn from The Loopy Ewe, this beautiful Yarn Pirate fingering was reduced to less than half price and just begged to become a shawl.

A fingering weight scraps blanket with unusual construction, which will be ongoing as my scraps bag grows. I have entitled this fun project my Scrappy Wappy Do Dah. It will remain to be seen just how large this project eventually becomes.

I also have a box stuffed full of projects to be fully finished. All the knitting and sewing in of ends is done, they just need to be washed and blocked. I look forward to sharing these with you also.

So there you have it. My on the needles projects, along with the two from yesterday. Plenty to keep me going for a bit. Lets hope my knitters ADD and impulse to Ooh Shiny can be kept under control.

Yesterday I also managed to bake a scrummy Madeira cake which got the thumbs up from DH and also cane under close inspection from our kitten Mysti.

It seemed to meet with approval.

Oh and I may have mentioned to some of you on Facebook that I would reveal the approximate yardage of my yarn stash. Well here goes, it currently stands at around 78,832 yards. Ah well enough to keep me going for a while then.

Stay safe and happy crafting.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Diary of a Knitter - Day 1

So yesterday I decided to go all out on my yarn diet and all the advice says when on a diet to keep a diary, so here it is.

Start weight - 492 skeins (eek)
Weight lost - 0
Weight gained - 0
Balance day 1 - 492

I did knit some yesterday on my commission shawl, in-fact I knitted quiet a lot although I don't have much to show for it as I have knitted the same piece twice. I started on one size of needle but was unhappy with the fabric, so re-started on a smaller needle with more pleasing results.

Shawl progress

Today I hope to cast on another project, my first ever with beads, which is a gift for my lovely friend Yvonne who lives in The Netherlands. She is a lover of pink, so guess which colour her shawl will be?

Yarn and beads at the ready!

It is howling with wind outside and there have been warnings for people to stay indoors today, so a good day for cosying up and knitting all day.

Stay safe and happy crafting!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Time for a Diet

Good grief no, not a food diet, what with the wonderful feasting of Christmas just round the corner!! No a YARN diet.
Upon taking stock of my yarn situation now that December is upon us has made me realise that it is time for me to diet. Not a full blown cold sheep you understand, just a diet. Our wee flat is beginning to burst at the seams with my yarn and DH's model kits. So how do I propose to do this? Well I am not going to fully cease with my addiction to yarnie awesomeness, no, I am doing a 2 or more out 1 in. Yardage is not my issue here it is the sheer number of skeins (or balls) of yarn and how much space they take up. There are a couple of exceptions for which I will allow the rules to be broken.

1. Gifts (seriously do you expect me to tell people not to buy me yarn as a gift?)
2. For commission work. If someone wants something knit in a particular yarn and I do not have it, then who am I to argue.
3. For any swap I may take part in.

So from 1st Dec 2011 - 31st Dec 2012 or beyond this is my goal.
I am already behind due to yarn which was ordered in Nov, but arrived this morning, ah well into stash it goes.
Melon Bomb
Also commission yarn which was ordered yesterday by the customer and also arrived this morning

8 Balls of Knit Picks
And this gorgeous yarn from my favourite indie dyer Ripples Crafts which is just the most gorgeous colour and even has sparkles
Assynt by Moonlight Carnations

Ah well, off I go to count up my entire stash in number of skeins and I will report back tomorrow to let you all know how things are progressing.
Stay warm and safe and happy crafting :)