Monday 29 February 2016

Hurray for Leap Years!

All I can say, is thank goodness there's an extra day in the month this year, otherwise I would be struggling to get anything completed.

I had hoped to tick off two of the wips on my list, and if I get a move on, I may still have time this evening to achieve this goal.  In the meantime, I have completed one of the projects I was working on.  It's another crochet bag (you can see the one I made last year, here).

This one, as you can see is delightfully colourful.

I used the same granny square pattern as last time, the Rosie Posie Grannie Square by Sandra Paul.  It really is a great pattern and makes a lovely dense square.

I've used a canvas bag for the lining and the handles this time have been recycled from an old bag that had started to look shabby in the body.

I love it.  You can see details of the project and the pattern I used over on my Ravelry page, here.

And of course, the bag has contributed to my stash busting endeavours.  I used a total of 267g of Stylecraft Special DK for this project.  I've got a special notebook to record how I'm using up the stash and I'm hoping for even bigger reductions in March.

I'm linking this project to Linda's Stash Busting party, which is providing a wonderful incentive to get things finished.  Bring on the next wip!

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Dottie Angel Dress - the trial run

I had a day off from knitting and crocheting yesterday.  Well, when I say a day off, what I mean is, I spent slightly less hours in the day knitting and crocheting than I usually do.  For me, there is no such thing as "not knitting" - I tried it once and it was scary!

Anyway, yesterday I did some dressmaking.  I want to be good at dressmaking and enjoy the process, but I still find it very stressful and I don't feel very confident.  But it's like knitting, you see a cardigan or a dress in the shops and you think I could make that - you've just got to give it a go.

So yesterday was devoted to making the Dottie Angel dress.  I was given the pattern for Christmas by Grace.  And here is my first attempt.

It's a very simple dress with minimal pattern pieces so it shouldn't take too long to make but there's a lot of attention to neat edgings and seams so it took all morning and afternoon to make.  I'm pleased with the result.

The original pattern has pockets, which I omitted.

I would love to make a really colourful version, so I'm on the look out for suitable fabrics.

It's a simple tunic dress with ties to fasten at the back - no zips or buttons - very simple.

My version - because I was practising - is made from a single size bed sheet (£4 from Primark).  Now that I've had a trial run, I'll be quicker and more comfortable for the next version (fingers crossed) and I'll use nicer fabric.  But this one is nice enough for now.

All I need now is some warmer weather so I can wear the dress.

Sunday 21 February 2016

Make a List...

Isn't February flying by!  As usual I've set myself so many goals and targets, I'll be lucky if I get even half of them done.  I have so many knitting and crocheting projects on the go now that I need to stop creating new projects and concentrate on getting some finished.

So, obviously the first thing you do in this situation is draw up a list (I love lists).  I've split all the wips into three groups: short term, medium term and long term.  I maybe should have a fourth group called open ended but I'm not too worried about the long term projects at the moment.

For the medium term projects, shown in the baskets and bags above and taking up a significant amount of space in the living room, I have -
Eve's Fair Isle cardigan,
Grey cardigan for me,
Hansel Hap,
Leftie shawl,
Granny Square bag,
Aran Sophie blanket.

The last one is something I started earlier this week.  It's the Sophie's Universe blanket that I made last year, but using up my leftovers of Aran weight yarn.  It'll be a modified version, as there isn't that much yarn to work with.

So I'm hoping to get maybe two of these finished during the course of the next week - although I haven't decided which two to work on yet, so I'm flitting from one to another at the moment until I decide (which probably means that I won't get any of them finished!)

In the short term category I only have one project and that's my February socks.  I've been using my new basket for this project.

I've been asked by a number of you for instructions on how I make my basket liners, so I'll write up some notes and share them with you shortly.  But back to the socks, and at last  I have something finished to show you.

They are just plain vanilla socks, cuff down, using Regia 4 ply.

I love the colours, they remind me of the rows of lipstick testers on the cosmetics counter.

Full details of this project can be found on my Ravelry project page, here.

So now I'm going to sit down and work out which other projects I want to concentrate on and hopefully finish - before I get tempted to start something new!

Monday 15 February 2016

Losing Weight

After last week's weigh in of my yarn stash, I realised that I really need to take control of the situation.

Weighing the stash in kilograms doesn't mean that much to me, I'm a pounds and ounces girl.  18 kg, is it a lot?  18 doesn't sound like that big a number.  My husband brought me back down to Earth by telling me it's about 3 stones!!

Ok so I've been in denial - I'm a stashaholic!  In my defence, I've been knitting and crocheting, non-stop (and I do mean NON-STOP) for nearly 50 years - so that's a lot of yarn leftovers accumulated over the years.  And that's the main problem, a lot of the yarn I have is bits and pieces leftover from cardigans and sweaters I've knitted over the years.   I just can't bear to throw the bits out.  I've tended to ignore them, but now I'm going to tackle the problem.

By working on one box at a time, I'm going to sort through, use up or throw out the leftovers.  So from now on, I'm on a yarn diet.  My aim is to reduce the stash to half its current weight - yes, I want to lose 9 kg - and preferably by September, so that I can go to Yarndale with a clear conscience and treat myself by buying far too much yarn!

So easing myself gently into this, I started with one of the smallest boxes.  Here are the results of my first week of dieting.

Firstly I tackled some odds and ends of DK weight yarn.

I crocheted a coaster using my Sunny Days pattern.

Then I cleared out more bits by crocheting this cover for a wooden coat hanger.

A small basket got a makeover with this liner.

Then there were some very tiny bits and pieces of 4 ply yarn.

I used what I could to make some mini granny squares for my sock yarn blanket.

Grace had passed some of her leftover sock yarn (Wendy Roam Fusion) for me to make some mini granny squares and to knit a mini sweater to add to my bunting.

The remainder of this yarn will be passed back to Grace.

9g of chunky yarn has become a knitted scarf for Little Bear.

187g of unusable bits have been thrown out.

The total reduction for the week is 341g.  Not bad for now.  That was just one small box.  There are plenty more to work through but at least I've made a start.

If I reduce the amount of time spent sleeping and eating, and I knit a bit faster, you never know, I might just lose that weight after all.

Saturday 13 February 2016

Catching Up

Time marches on, and I have a number of projects to share with you.  Recently I've started two new shawl knitting patterns (not that I'm short of a shawl or two!)

The first one, I've been wanting to knit for ages.  It's called Hansel Hap and it's by Gudrun Johnston.  This is the pattern picture...

And here are the colours I'm using.

I'm using Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumper weight Shetland wool.  I've completed the garter stitch central triangle and I've just started the border.

The second shawl I'm knitting, is probably more of a scarf than a shawl.  It's called Leftie and it's by Martina Behm.  It's a pattern I had down to do at some point in the future, but Grace visited recently and brought me some lovely Rico Superba Poems 4 ply which works perfectly with this pattern.  Here's the pattern picture...

And here's what I've done so far.

It's fun watching the colour changes evolve.  Can't wait to get to the lovely red colours.

The only things completed so far this month are my squares for the Block-a-Month CAL.  I'm only crocheting two of the three squares for this month, I've decided to be far more selective this year as to which squares I complete.

The first square is called Fan Dance.

The small square for this month is called Granny Heart Square and as usual I made four of these to equal the size of the big square.

I seem to have quite a few projects started now and I'd like to start work on another pair of socks.  I'd also like to make an effort to sort out my stash and try and lose a few kilos from it.  So there's plenty for me to be getting on with.  I think tomorrow will be a lazy knitting day for me.  I hope you're all having a good weekend and Happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday 10 February 2016

The Big Weigh In

Well I finally plucked up the courage - and energy, to weigh up my entire yarn stash.  I'm following Linda's example (from Linda's Crafty Corner) and facing up to the truth - I'm also very curious to find out the actual numbers.

I've mostly been very good and haven't bought any yarn since my mad binge at Yarndale last year.  So I've been working my way through the stash, but it does seem never ending.  By weighing the stash, I felt that I could monitor the stash to see how quickly (or slowly) the stash goes down.

My stash is spread over five rooms; the study, the living room, the dining room, the storeroom and the small bedroom.  So first of all I gathered everything together in the living room.

I started with the smallest stash first, the one from the study (this is destined to become my craft room later in the year).

This box contains (very old) bits and pieces of novelty yarns and leftovers of chunky and lace weights.

This weighed in at 1155g.

Next the yarn currently residing in the living room.

This mostly is in bags and baskets and is the projects I'm working on at the moment.  There's 2 shawls, 2 cardigans and a granny square bag in the making.

The unworked yarn weighed in at 1949g.

Next, the dining room stash.

The hamper contains my Aran weight leftovers - I don't have any unused Aran in the stash.  There's a box of crochet threads and another of 4 ply leftovers.

This little lot weighed in at 3492g.

The storeroom stash next.

This is made up of my supply of 4 ply cottons, more crochet thread, yarn that has been frogged from old cardigans and sweaters, a large ball of purple Aran given to me recently from Grace from her leftovers and a bag of Stylecraft Special DK from a recent order.

This stash weighed in at 3945g.

Finally, the yarn stored in the small bedroom.

This is my serious stuff.  It's mostly acrylic DK with my stash of Jamieson and Smith wool, my sock yarn stash and the remaining Yarndale stash waiting to be used.

This weighed in at a healthy 7739g.

So the grand total of all the unworked yarn in my home at the moment is 18280g or 18.28kg.

That seems like quite a lot, but hang on a minute - what exactly is the definition of stash?

A significant proportion of the yarn I have is made up of leftovers, bits and pieces (and believe me, there's a fair bit of it that is just small pieces).  Many of these bits have been around for years and years, waiting to come in useful, but they are never going to be used in anything significant.  So I reckon, you can't count these as stash.

My Stylecraft Special DK and Bonus DK consists of a range of colours that I can dip into whenever I want.  I regard these as essential supplies, and as such they are topped up on a regular basis.  They are therefore 'stock' rather than stash.

The same can be said for my range of colours in the Jamieson and Smith wool (essential for Fair Isle knitting), my crochet thread (some of which is so old it belonged to my Grandmother) and my 4 ply cottons.

Then I don't think it's realistic to count frogged yarn as stash.  It has, after all been already knitted once.

So the actual, actual stash consists of sock yarn, the Yarndale purchases and the 4 ply I bought especially to make Eve's cardigan for her birthday.  This amounts to just over 2000g.  That's virtually next to nothing - I'm yarn impoverished!

I feel it's imperative I remedy this situation as soon as possible with a healthy injection of new yarn.  Don't you agree?

Monday 8 February 2016

My Cardigan of Many Colours

I've been so excited about sharing my finished cardigan with you.  It has now been soaked and blocked and is ready to wear.

And here it is....

I love it.  The fit is just right and the colours work well together.

I actually used 26 different colours, mostly Rowan Fine Tweed with a couple of bits of Rowan Scottish Tweed thrown in.  I followed a Fair Isle chart from a Debbie Bliss sweater pattern, but used my own measurements to create the cardigan.

It has been knitted using bits and pieces leftover from old projects - and some of it was literally just bits.  Here was my starting point.

And here's the stash now.

I reckon I have used about 360g of yarn, so a significant reduction in the stash.

And here are all the ends that had to be sewn in!  Thankfully I was very disciplined and did this as I went along.  I couldn't face leaving it to the end.

Knitting up the cardigan, I remembered how much I love the Rowan Fine Tweed.  Although my stash of this particular yarn is now considerably depleted, I know I will be buying more in the future.  Once it's been soaked it is lovely and soft and the tweedy colours are gorgeous.

You can see full details of all the colours used on my Ravelry page, here.

Having de-stashed this yarn, I decided that I would be brave and weigh my entire stash this week, just to see the extent of the damage.  I should really have done this last week because Grace came to stay at the weekend and brought me 11 balls of Stylecraft Special DK that she'd ordered on my behalf.  If she had kept it at her flat I could have got away without including this in the weigh in!  Never mind, it'll all get used eventually - but eventually is probably a very long way away!

Saturday 6 February 2016

How Did That Get There?

A conversation -

Husband - what's that plant that's growing in the garden, I thought at first it was a starfish? (He isn't very knowledgeable about plants).

Me - what plant?

Husband - the one growing on the back lawn.

Me - that'll be a weed.

Husband - the one growing in the grass - the orange one.

Me - we haven't got any orange plants growing in the grass, we only have weeds.

Husband - there's definitely an orange plant growing in the grass, the shape of a starfish.

Me - I'll go and have a look myself!

And what do you know, it is a starfish!!!!

We only live two minutes walk away from the beach, but I'm sure it would take a starfish a lot longer to walk the distance.

Presumably a seagull has lost his tasty snack.

Friday 5 February 2016

Embroidery Squares - the next instalment

I'm getting back on schedule with my embroidery squares.  I seem to be racing through them now - but it's quite a punishing schedule.

Since I last showed you the squares, I have completed another twelve.  Because there are so many, I've condensed them into three collages, so that we're not here all day!

These first four squares (starting in the top left hand corner and working clockwise) represent cross stitch (I actually did some chicken scratch embroidery because I wasn't in the mood for ordinary cross stitch); patchwork; lace and seaside (I love this one).

These second set of squares represent kite; lines (drawn thread work is always fun to do); felt and winter.

The final four squares represent beads; sunshine; butterfly and layers.  The butterfly square is probably my favourite, it's an orange tip butterfly.

Making the mini collages gives an idea of how the squares might look once they've all been joined together.  But that's a long way off, I'm just concentrating on getting them done for now.

I've got another two planned for this afternoon and I'm quite excited by how they will look.  Twenty five squares have already been completed so by the end of today I should be half way through this project.  I'm enjoying it so much, embroidery is a lovely relaxing activity for a blustery February afternoon.

I hope you have an enjoyable and relaxed weekend.  Bye for now.

Tuesday 2 February 2016


Thank you all for your lovely wishes for my weekend in London with Eve.  It really was the most perfect weekend and just what I needed to revive my lagging spirits.

I had a lovely walk from Euston Station through to Aldgate, where Eve lives (not far from the Gherkin).

 Can you see the Gherkin in the distance?

St Paul's

The Bank of England

The 'Walkie Talkie' Building in the distance

Getting nearer to the Gherkin.

I love the contrast between all the styles of architecture.  The church in front of the Gherkin, in the picture above, apparently dates from the sixteenth century.

On Saturday we explored Old Spitalfields Market (my favourite) and then on to Covent Garden.

At Covent Garden, we had an "interesting" encounter with a street entertainer!

Can you see the juggler?  I think he's spotted us!

I got pulled out the audience and had to dance while he juggled!  I reckon my dancing was probably more entertaining than his juggling.

Then Eve was pulled out to assist in one of his juggling stunts.

We felt rather traumatized after that so had to go for tea and cake to revive us.

We finished off the afternoon with a visit to the National Portrait Gallery - always very interesting.

The evening was very relaxing, watching A Royal Night Out on Netflix and drinking wine with Eve's two flatmates.

We had a lazy Sunday morning, then went for a pub lunch before I caught the tube back to Euston.

It was a wonderful weekend, we had so much fun.  I didn't get to Brick Lane for a curry - maybe on my next visit we can fit that in.

The train journeys each way went smoothly, although they were very long.  On the plus side, it gave me plenty of time to make progress on the two cardigans I have started knitting.

The back of the Olivia cardigan

The ribbing all done on the Fair Isle cardigan for Eve

So I'm feeling refreshed, revitalised and full of energy, it's a new month and I'm ready to meet it head on.