Saturday, 26 June 2010

Clapo'd out, but it's finished

The big news this week is that I have, at long last, finished my Clapotis, and it is blocking as I type this.  It didn't die quietly though.  Not content with making me rip out three inches of drunken knitting (from a night at I-Knit London which has an alcohol license), it let me get part way through the decreases until I was getting complacent, then slammed me with a non-dropped stitch about 3 inches earlier.  But I wasn't beaten, I unravelled the edge stitch back to the problem, dropped the stitch, then crocheted back up the edge.  It happened again near the end, but I didn't mind ripping back at that point because I had decreased down to about 15 stitches so it was no big deal.  So it's done.  Thank god.

The other big news is that I topped my Garden BOM quilt.  Adding on the 'Roses and Magnolia' border that I had to order from America really makes this quilt, and I'm pretty pleased with it.  The design isn't ideal, you certainly wouldn't aim for a quilt looking like this.  But considering the starting point of 18 unrelated blocks, I feel a sense of achievement at what I have accomplished.  I took it along to sewing group today, and everyone really liked it.

As I had finished the group project, I was free to work on something new.  I wanted something quick, so I pulled out four packs of Moda/Mary Engelbreit charm squares that I got for $3.99 each at Hancocks Paducah, and tried out the Disappearing Four Patch  tutorial that I found on the internet. It is easy and quick to do.  These fabrics are probably a bit too busy for it, you would see the pattern better if there were more contrast, but I enjoyed the quick piecing and bright colours.

I've had two yarn squishies arrive in the post this week.  This pack is Bergere de France Coton Mercerise, and I am going to have a go at the delectable Eyelet Jumper from No. 152 Spring Summer 2010.  This a wonderful lacy tunic which shades up from one luscious icecream colour into the next.  I've started knitting the tension swatch.  I think the pattern is within my ability level but I am having a bit of trouble with the twisted cable rib because the thin cotton is too slippery and the cable needle falls out.

My other squishie was a kit of yarns from Jamieson & Smith for the official Knit Camp pulloverI don't have a chance in heck of getting this done in time to wear on the trip, but I know others are beavering away at it and there is a group on Ravelry.  I will probably just add this project to my (incredibly long) queue.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Now I want to machine knit

I spent an enjoyable day yesterday at the UK Machine Knitting Guild AGM in Basingstoke.  I am not a member, but the AGM only took up one hour of the day and non-members could pay at the door to hear the talks and shop in the market.  I had a really good day.  People were incredibly friendly, it wasn't that crowded, and there were two speakers, Ruth Lee and Iris Bishop.  I wore a machine knitted multi-colour tuck stitch cardigan that I made about 10 years ago, which attracted several admiring compliments and I was asked to take part in the fashion show at the end of the day when everybody wearing something they'd knitted did a twirl down the aisle.  There were some great club displays, and I picked up two Nina Miklin books quite cheaply from Heathercraft. Iris Bishop's talk was really interesting and she was quite funny as well.  I bought two of her books, one of seasonal fair isle designs (incredibly intricate) and one for a knit woven wavy top.  Now I feel like I really want to get my machine knitting going again.  I also realised, after a conversation with a gentleman who services machines, that my sponge bar in my 881 must be shot as well, since it has many of the symptoms he described such as needles popping up and jamming in the carriage.

And while I was listening to the talks, I was knitting these cute baby booties which are from a free pattern here.  I was able to knit both and stitch them both together over the course of the day.  They are an easy knit but quite cute when they are done.

 I forgot to blog that I finished the first of the Broken Rib Socks .  This is from the Little Box of Sock Patterns and has a bit of a strange heel with an upside-down gusset.  I also experimented with doing reverse stockinette stitch under the ball of my foot to see if that makes them more comfy.  They fit but are probably a little too loose to stay up well.  This is Tofutsi yarn, very pretty.  Now I have to knit the second one....

And I've been sewing.  I've been slowly assembling the Garden Theme BOM Quilt, which is a bit like putting together a jigsaw where you have to make all the in-between pieces.  I am using a very unscientific method (not good at math here), just putting the pieces up on the design wall in the desired position, then measuring the gaps to see how wide I need to cut the bushy-fabric-background strips to go around them.  Slightly complicated by the bushy fabric being directional.

A friend of mine came over from America to visit the V&A quilt show, and she brought prezzies!  She brought me these lovely colonial pottery pieces for my dollshouse, plus some mini-shopping bags.

And she brought me some Peltex interfacing, that I couldn't find here in the UK when I was making my sewing basket.  And the gifts were in this great bag from the 2010 Chicago quilt show.  Isn't she lovely!

I made a project right away with the Peltex.  I needed a case for my mini Filofax diary that lives in my handbag.  I used to have the original slipcase but I lost it.  I started by cutting out a flat-pack box shape from the Peltex.

Then I covered it in pretty quilting fabric, turning the seam allowances to the inside in a folded hem, and stitching them down by machine all around the outside edge. I also machine stitched down the fold lines.

Then I folded the shape into a box, and hand-stitched it together using a whipstitch.  Voila, a cute box that the diary fits into snugly.  It makes me smile when I come across it in my handbag when I am digging around for something.

And it's that time of year, when I make you look at pictures from my garden.  Here are these amazing roses that keep living from year to year (unlike many of my other plants) and are absolutely huge - about the size of a bread plate.

This year I planted one of those packets of mixed meadow flowers, and this is the result.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Happy WWKIP Day! and Pi Shawl finished at last

Happy Worldwide Knit in Public Day!  I'm just back from an enjoyable couple of hours knitting in the pub's garden with my local knitting group.  I took along the bunting that I made a few years ago, which we strung along the sun brollies so that it looked festive.  I also wore my Sirdar Juicy Lace Stole in honour of the occasion, which was just the thing to keep the chill off my shoulders every time the sun went behind a cloud (about every 10 mins it alternated between baking hot and too cold).  The pub was gearing up for the World Cup (football) match tonight, so there was quite a party atmosphere in town with cars blowing their horns and people sounding off noisemakers etc.

I was knitting on my Rhapsody Hat, which is going quite well.  I am just starting the second repeat of the chart. The pattern calls for two repeats of the main chart, then a decrease chart, but as my yarn is thicker I think I am going to have to jump right into the decrease chart soon.  So far it is fitting well.  I was also knitting on the dratted Clapotis and got a few more rows of drudgery done on that.

But the big news is that I finished the Pi Shawl!  At long last!  I feel like I have been knitting it forever but I actually started it last April when I went to Paducah for the quilt show.  Probably it seems longer because I had to un-knit so many times.

This is what it looked like after it came off the needles - not so great.  Knitting lace is really an act of faith.

This is what it looked like after I washed it and started blocking it.

And this is the final block, after about 45 mins of crawling around on the floor moving pins in and out and doing my back in.

When it was pinned out on the white sheet, several 'mistakes' seemed to scream out at me (how on earth did some yarnovers end up twice the size of the other ones?) but as my American friend is fond of saying: "if you can't see it from the back of a galloping horse...".  And it is my first ever lacy shawl, so I am pretty pleased with it.

And this is it after it was completely dry.

I also did some sewing this week, working on assembling my garden quilt.  I joined the waterlily block together with the fishies block, and then created 'paving stones' to go around them both.  This was to make it look like a pond, and also to help these darker blocks to stand out from the bushy background.  It was a bit tricky as the bushy background fabric is directional, so I had to make sure I got it right side up on each side.

I've also decided on the final layout of the quilt.  I am seaming it together starting from the top, and just working my way downwards, figuring out how wide sashing should be and how the blocks will relate to each other.

Now that the Pi Shawl is done, it is time for a new project.  I was looking at this Feather and Fan jacket pattern which is in 'Jackets for Work and Play'.

It calls for bulky yarn, so first I did a swatch in some Debbie Bliss Eco Cotton.  The tension is about right, but it looks chunkier to me than the model in the picture.

Then I had a brainwave and tried swatching the Knitcol that I bought in Malvern a few weeks ago.  This is a DK weight (or slightly heavier) but if I knit it on the same needles, the tension is about right.  It makes a lacier lighter fabric which I am now trying to decide if it would be too flimsy for the cardigan or not.  My knitting group thought it would be alright.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Summer is here (at last)

The weather was still so unsettled that when we went away camping for a few days this week, I had to take everything from my woolly hat and a scarf, through my raincoat and umbrella, right to my sleeveless tops and shorts.  And I used all of them in just a few days.  Gotta love the UK weather.  Currently we are on 'hot', and it has been a gorgeous 26 degrees C or higher the last few days, with blue skies and a pleasant breeze. 

We were camping up near Abingdon, right on the river, which was a gorgeous location.  Abingdon is quite a historic town, and we enjoyed doing a pub crawl around some of the 16thC pubs one night.  In the picture you can see Abingdon and the Thames river, and our little green/cream camping tent at the right of the picture.  We also went into Oxford a couple of times and did a walking tour of the city centre.  I found a brilliant bookstore where everything costs £2, and found three dollshouse books and a knitting stitch compendium by Mary Webb which has 300 stitch patterns, each clearly photographed and charted. 

As we were camping, my craft opportunities for a few days were confined to knitting.  I continued to bind off the Pi Shawl, and am now on the home stretch with only a few feet to go.  It came in quite handy yesterday in Abingdon, when I was knitting in a cafe in the shade and was feeling a bit too cool.  I just draped the shawl over my shoulders and continued to cast off. It felt lovely and light and surprisingly warm.

I also soldiered on with the Clapotis, which I have had quite enough of now.  I have made it to 11 repeats on the centre section, so one more repeat and then I can start decreasing.  Thank goodness.

Before I went away, I finished the Sewing Basket.  I removed the top band that I sewed on last week because I didn't like the wrinkles, and sewed it back on again more neatly.  I also added a carry handle, which isn't in the original pattern but I think makes it more useful. 

There are lots of useful pockets inside.

The other project I took camping was my Rhapsody Hat.  As I planned, I ripped back to the start of the chart and increased 12 stitches (one repeat's worth) around the brim, then re-knit the chart.  This seems to have accomplished my aim of having a snug brim but not over-stretching the fair isle pattern.  Now I need to repeat the chart a second time before I can start decreasing for the crown.

We're off to the garden centre now, to get some belated bedding for our baskets and pots.  It was too cold in early May when I would usually have done it.  And now it's really hot so I hope the garden centre has shading.

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