Friday, 30 May 2014

Stash Dash Week 1

So, just a quick little update today, since it's the end of week 1 of Stash Dash and I wanted to put everything in one place. At least, that was the plan... until I woke up this morning feeling utterly awful with the beginnings of a bug of some sort.

So I'll be throwing some quick pictures up here and then heading to the sofa to veg out with the new copy of Simply Crochet.

I've finished 2 things this week, both small bits of spinning from samples I've received with orders.

The first is 15m of chain plied Merino from Nunoco:

And the second was also chain plied, 39.5m of BFL/Silk in the Monster Mash colourway from Fondant Fibre - which was gloriously easy to spin.



I actually really love this spun up! The red blobs have merged with the other colours to seem more brown, and the overall finished colour is kind of a field in spring - I love it!

The main crochet project I've been working on is a cushion cover for my parents:

The front has been finished for a while, I just finally got around to weaving in the ends last night, and I made a start on the panels for the back.

I kinda need to get this finished for the 8th June so that I can give it to my Mum, so I have extra motivation to get this finished :)

Meterage week 1:  54.5
Total meterage: 54.5/5000

Thursday, 22 May 2014

In which real life catches up with me...

Although not in quite such a sinister way as that title makes it sound!

It just been a busy few weeks - both with work and with my social life... which, apparently, isn't dead! Or maybe it's the walking undead... I'm not entirely sure!

Anyway, it's all culminated in a dramatic case of start-itis! I seriously keep getting part way through something and then having a brilliant idea for something else which I decide to start immediately. I think this is where knitters have slightly more restrictions than crocheters - a knitter has a finite number of needles (unless you go out and buy more, and I see podcasts where people do that) whereas a crocheter can just stick a stitch marker into the working loop and take that hook over to another project!

This week's new starter was inspired by my WIP from a couple of weeks ago... which is totally still a WIP!

Yes, it's another Snowdrop Shawl! This one with a variation that was inspired by Martina Behm's Brickless shawl - and seriously, there are 2 things that inspire me to try knitting: making my own socks, and Martina's design page on ravelry!

So, I inserted a couple of rows of a lace effect every few solid rows - I was unsure the first few repeats, but I have to say that I do love it.

One thing I don't love so much? The yarn!

It's Drops Delight, which is 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon (intended for socks) and is fulled singles, in the purple/turquoise colourway. I've worked with Drops yarn before - I adore their Alpaca, which is soft and generally lovely to work with.

This became the bane of my life within the first half ball! It's squeaky, which I've never encountered with a wool before, but the main issue is the thickness - it varies from wire-thin to super-bulky thick over a relatively small space. 

Please excuse the lighting - this was taken at about half eleven at night.  But that *points upwards* is not even the worst bit I came across. I didn't get a photo of the worst one because I was too busy cursing and cleaning up bits of fibre as the yarn drafted apart in my hands! 

I shall be finishing the project - not least because I have three balls of yarn that I do not want rattling around in my stash any longer than absolutely necessary. But I suspect this may be offered out to friends/family who will appreciate that this looks pretty without remembering the hassles that were involved in making it.

My other thing recently has been stash building... which I have now officially (mostly) stopped since I am saving for a wheel! *does a happy dance* I headed over to Shunklies studio a few weeks ago with some other ladies from Ravelry for a fun-filled day of playing with fibre. We learned to wet felt, how best to use a drum carder and I got to play on a couple of spinning wheel, which was my main aim for the day.

Aaaaand I may have spent a ridiculous amount of time since then considering wheels and costs and which has the most benefits over the others. I think I've settled on one I prefer over the others, but it all does depend on how much it costs to get my car through its MOT next week!

So.... just a few of my stash additions... although at least two of them are specifically for the Tour de Fleece in July!

Which is really just another reason to buy a wheel - think how much I could get done for the TdF, and stash dash...

Speaking of, Stash Dash 2014 starts tomorrow, and all my current WIPs (assuming I get them finished in time) count towards the total! My very quick guesstimate yesterday, assuming I get certain projects finished and manage my minimum on a spindle for the TdF, puts me at just over 3.5K... only another 1.5K to find :(

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

WIP Wednesday

Another WIP post this week - mostly because I seem to be in the kind of mood recently where I'm permanently distracted by new ideas, and so nothing gets finished!

For instance, I sat down yesterday evening with the intention of starting the swatching for a hexagon blanket... and promptly started the Snowdrop Shawl that I've been contemplating for the last couple of months!

The Babylonglegs yarn I'm using has been in my stash for a few months, bought on something of an impulse and put to one side when it first arrived as it was somewhat darker than expected. Still, it's lovely yarn, and every time I spotted it I was determined to make something with it... Likewise the Snowdrop Shawl has been in my Ravelry queue for several months, and flicking through my (surprisingly well maintained) queue last night, inspiration struck and I set off... glancing guiltily at the open instructions for hexagons that I was pushing aside!

Both yarns are 100% merino in the "Feel the Teal" and "Pie" colourways, and both are slightly variegated, although this is random and pretty subtle, meaning that (so far) there's no unsettling pooling of colour. The pattern calls for Aran weight yarn with a 6mm hook, and this is a 3 ply sock weight yarn, so I initially worked it on a 3mm hook, which gave a dense and quite firm fabric. So I frogged and started again on a 4mm hook, which gives more drape to the fabric, without it becoming lacy.

Also on my hook recently was the beginnings of a pair of cushion covers for my Mum - we're planning to trade so she can knit me some socks! However, I forgot to bring these back with me after my visit over the weekend, so I need to collect them at some point... meantime, have a slightly over-exposed picture I snagged at the weekend.

I've been pretty good on the spinning front however, as I focussed on just one project!

This is Spin City UK's Paintbox, in fibre form and part way through spinning. I wasn't too sure the first bit I span, mostly because there's a surprising amount of yellow in it, but it got considerably better as I progressed. I think this is going to end up chain plied, although the end product may depend on the yardage I get and how the finished yarn looks.

Still, it was affectionately nicknamed "Technicolour Yawn" by my Mum, and the name kinda stuck!

My next big, ongoing project is the Stash Dash 2014... which is actually more of several smaller projects *shrugs* but it gets the point across! So, basically this is a stash busting exercise organised by the Knit Girllls - the linky there goes to their Ravelry group, since that's the easiest way to find information on the Stash Dash and their podcasts.... which, by the way, are well worth watching! They're funny and informative, and possibly the best thing to crochet/spin along to!!

Anyway, the aim is to get through 5000 metres of yarn between 23rd May and 7th August - which I think someone calculated as 500 yards per week. It's a large amount... until you realise that they encourage you to bend the rules in your favour! So, anything that is a WIP before 23rd May, that you finish after this date, counts towards your total! So the three projects above totally count for my total yardage for the dash!!

Anyway, I'll be keeping a running tally of yardage etc through the summer, the same with my progress on the Tour de Fleece - which I'll ramble on about another time... since I think I've gone on long enough today!

(In a short side note - apologies if some of today's pictures are a little dark, it's tipping it down with rain at the moment! I'll replace them if/when I get the weather improves!)

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A very quick WIP Wednesday

It's been a hectic few weeks for me, and it doesn't look like getting much better for the next month or so - my only free weekend in May has just been claimed, so free time is going to have to be grabbed wherever it can!

Consequently, my WIP's haven't changed very much, I'm still plugging along with my Steggie, my ripple blanket has been put off until some cooler weather when I don't mind sitting on the sofa under a half finished blanket, and I picked up some chunky yarn and a rather large hook to make my Mum some cushion covers... and then promptly left everything at my parents' house so I can't work on it or take pictures until the next time I head over there!

One thing I have been working on recently, is some spinning! No, I don't have enough time for another hobby; no, that didn't stop me from buying a 'learn to spin' kit!

Anyway, spinning is quite easily as addictive as crochet, and much easier to do whilst watching the TV. So, my learn to spin kit quickly turned into a couple of spindles, a slowly growing pile of fibre and an entry in to Ravelry's Tour de Fleece.

Seriously... they're so pretty and squishy, and spinning (when it's going right) is so relaxing!

Anyway, most of the fibre I have at the moment is meant for specific projects. and there will be a post at some point with more pictures and details... when I can get my pictures to upload properly at any rate!

Meanwhile, have a few WIP photos...

Oh, and I made my cheap Ikea step stool look a bit prettier... figured I might as well, since the one thing I rarely use it for is standing on!

Friday, 11 April 2014

FO Friday!

I totally didn't expect to have an FO post this week! However, in a fit of productivity Wednesday evening (and having had the bad experience of having to rip out a good two hours' worth of progress on my cross stitch) I managed to finish my Elise Shawl!!

And, to go off on a side note for a moment, it's remarkably difficult to photograph a shawl!!

Anyway, I finished the project from the one skein of Jellybean yarns, with about 5 metres of yarn to spare... which made a lovely little pompom, but I digress. It's a little small for an actual shawl, but perfectly sized to be used as a scarf, which is what I wanted... safe to say I'll be making another with a larger supply of yarn (I already have one in mind).

Blocking it was also a rather frustrating effort - involving a bath sheet, the majority of my living room floor space and a squirty bottle full of warm water... but, this was always going to be a piece that needed a fairly heavy amount of blocking - both to open up the texture and to make the picots show up around the edge.

Here's the before picture:

Please excuse the slightly crumpled background and poor lighting - this was at about 11.00pm Wednesday night... and I certainly didn't have the energy, time or patience to iron the towel before I started blocking!!

And here's right after it was pinned and sprayed with warm water (I prefer to pin most of my crochet when it's dry and then wet it, rather than pining after soaking in water):

Hmm... and I didn't realise the top edge was that wonky when I pinned it!! Actually, the more that I look at it, the more I realise that that's possibly one of the worst pieces of blocking I've ever done!!

Anyway, 18 hours or so and some hunting for a coat hanger later... Tah Dah!!!

I'm unbelievably pleased, impressed and charmed by it! :) So, uh, have a few more photos!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

WIP Wednesday

Uhm, well I think it's safe to say that my WIP's are getting a little out of hand at the moment! My mum asked me the other day how I manage to fit all of it in... the obvious answer being that it's the reason I never seem to get anything finished!! It's not helped by the fact that I'm pretty busy at the moment with work, so I'm not exactly full of motivation to set to and get things finished - I'm much more likely to be distracted by whatever simply little thing catches my eye.

First, something that's kinda finished, but not...

I have a chronic lack of vases in my flat at the moment (not helped by my tendency to use the ones I do have for holding small balls of yarn that have no other purpose) and the over-sized jars I use in place of vases are kinda ugly. So I crocheted a cover for one of the jars to make it look better! The cover itself is finished, though I intend to make some decorations to attach to it... just struggling to decide which ones in particular at the moment!

I'm probably now about half way through my Elise shawl... or at least halfway through the yarn :) It's already proving to be something of a pain to photograph, so have an up close and personal picture of the yarn and it's unblocked texture!

I also have no idea how I'm going to block this when it's finished...! It's going to need some pretty harsh pinning to stretch the pattern to how it should be, so I'm thinking a dunk in the bath and then pinned onto a sheet or something on my living room floor.  Images of that palaver will, naturally, be posted at a later date :)

I've also made a start on a small mountain of African flowers for my Steggie! It's pretty slow going considering they're so small, though the size of the hook and the absolutely tiny starting chain circle mean that my hands cramp up after a couple of them and I need a break... still, loving them so far!

And here's one in-progress... on a 1.75mm hook!

No, really, a 1.75mm hook! My mum promptly declared me crazy when she saw it... and I don't think I can really argue with her on that one!!

My OUAT sampler is on a little bit of a hold for the moment - I'm saving it to take back home with me over the Easter break, but I was tempted down the sewing path once again by the Frosted Pumpkins, with their new pattern released on the 1st April... this one practically begged to be bought, especially considering I already had some suitable fabric on hand and just needed to order the thread. At least, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!! Here's the progress so far:

Sunday, 6 April 2014

I do love innovative solutions!

So, I'm one of those people that has a stupid number of tabs open on their browser at all times - I just closed a few since I couldn't see when new post notifications popped up on my tumblr account, but I still have 17 open at the moment!

Anyway, one that I rarely have open is my twitter feed - mostly because it pops up with new messages every few seconds and tries to distract me... that and BBC Sport are ridiculously bad at warning for spoilers when you're waiting until later to watch the repeat of a given Formula 1 race, but that's a whole other rant. So I popped on the other day and say a message from Folksy linking through to this blog post.

Well, considering how bad my chances are at winning giveaways (I have a bad track record) and the fact that when I clicked through to the kickstarter page there were still the first tier of early bird rewards available, I figured I'd back the project anyway! (And I like the idea of supporting smaller companies like this!)

Image from here and copyright

Basically, it's a portable lightbox! Anyone that has ever tried to photograph their work knows how tricky it can be to get a decent photograph, what with variable lighting, finding a stable surface and something to use as a backdrop and then when you finally get sorted, the light has changed cause it's started raining or... well, you get the picture, if you'll pardon the pun.

I know it's possible to make a lightbox with a bit of ingenuity and a spare cardboard box, but it's something I never quite got around to doing, and then I stopped selling jewellery online and never really needed to worry about it after that... until I started trying to photograph things for this blog and for instagram.

I also know that there are other solutions out there that you can buy, but the last time I looked at those, they either took up too much space when not in use, required their own lighting system or were simply too expensive. This one just needs setting near a light source and off you go! And, the best bit about it? It folds up again when you've finished and seems to take up about the same amount of space as an A4 cardboard folder!

Now, this obviously isn't going to be suitable for photographing larger objects, in fact the space is around about the size of an A4 sheet of paper, but it's a great idea for photographing the smaller objects I've been making recently. And for updating my jewellery shots should I get around to popping those back up online.

It's already passed it's funding goal, but there are still second tier early bird rewards available if you head over there soon-ish, and the whole thing is open for another 30 days if you decide it's something you want to fund and try out for yourself!

The kickstarter page is linked above but is also HERE.