Thursday, 28 February 2013

February round up

I'm a couple of days late posting this but that's the way this whole week seems to have gone. The first day of the month coinciding with the end of the week meant lots to do at work yesterday and to be honest, the sunshine the rest of the week has tempted me outside in the spare times I've had; but here we go:

Recipes blogged this month:

None this month which isn't very good. I must try harder next month.

Projects started:

Colourful stripy crochet blanket - there's no post about making this yet but the link does take you to the yarn I'm using

This doesn't seem like much for me, but the thing about blankets is that they are addictive which means I'm not starting lots of projects and then putting them to one side like I can end up doing.One the other hand they are time consuming, so I don't feel like I've finished much recently.

Projects finished:

High Speed knitting

Stripy crochet blanket

Projects frogged/ in the WIP Pile:

15 stitch blanket: this is still in the WIP pile but I finally have the yarn to finish it so once my colourful blanket is finished this is next on my list.

Yarn in this year:

7150g As this includes my monster haul in January there's not much I can do to make this figure better this year. I've bought less than half what I bought last month, possibly even only a quarter.

This converts into 22,445 meters or 13.9 miles

Yarn knitted or crocheted this year:


5723 meters or 3.55 miles

I've still got a way to go on trying to balance my yarn in and my yarn out for the year. In fact it might never actually happen, but still its interesting to compare what comes in and what goes out. 

Books reviewed:

Week 6: William - An Englishman

Week 7: Mariana

Week 8: Cranford

Week 9: The Help

Well, I didn't quite meet my aim to post two or three times a week, but I still think its been a busy month. I'm really enjoying making my blankets and I'm hoping that I get my colourful one finished in March. I have plans in my head for about six or seven but I have a feeling some of them will remain as plans.

Still a red one for the living room would be nice.....

Swap Parcel - Alice in Wonderland

Today I received a wonderful swap parcel from an Alice in Wonderland swap I took part in on Ravelry.

Its full of beautiful things:

All in all I received:

A key to wonderland
Two different types of yarn plus some fibre (the fur of a Bandersnatch to be precise)
Some tea part gloves
A shell
A tortoise (or a sea turtle perhaps)
A Vogue knitting magazine with Alice in Wonderland themed patterns
A scarf
Some fruit tea
And all sorts of wonderful little things likes buttons, stitch markers, kool aid dye (I've always wanted to try and use this), sewing needles, hair grips, a dormouse (not a real one obviously), a tape measure and some Alice in Wonderland stationery.

This was a lovely parcel and I feel very spoilt! It also seems appropriate given that the first book I chose to read this year was Alice in Wonderland.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

52 Books - Week 8

I realise we are on week 9, but I read this last week and didn't get chance to write it up. Week 9's will follow sometime this week with any luck.

I wasn't feeling well last week so I fell back on some comfort reading - Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. My mother suggested I read this as a teenager and I loved it. I've read it again several times over the years, and whilst I enjoyed the TV adaptation for me it wasn't a patch on the book.

Its a gentle story told over several years. Its one of those which seems like its meandering slowly, but actually quite a lot happens over the story. I feel that unlike many books, its quite a life like story. It has highs and lows but they are realistic highs and lows, leaving you feeling like Cranford is an actual place and you know the people.

Plus I always wanted to live in Cranford, the town where women rule!

Book Title: Cranford

Author: Elizabeth Gaskell

Enjoyment: 10/10

Would read again: 10/10

Comments: This is a dreamy, quiet book with a realistic story. Its got some great humour in there and its really a tale of friendships and how they survive through life.

W H Smiths

Sunday, 24 February 2013

FO - Stripy crochet blanket

I've been a bit quite this week, my ME/CFS has flared up a little and I just seem to have had one of those weeks.

On the plus side I've finished my stripy crochet blanket:

Taking photos of blankets is quite difficult but hopefully that will give you an idea.

It weighs 1.15kg, which is 3590.3 yards of yarn, and it took me a month altogether. I used the following Stylecraft Special DK colours:

1099 Grey x 4
1203 Silver x 4
1063 Graphite x 4
1001 White x 7
1002 Black x 4

The stripes are completely random, which actually bothered me as I was doing it. I tend to organise things and  doing something randomly like this was strange. But I'm glad I did and I liked the effect once it was finished.

I had bought 2kg of yarn to do this with which means I have some left over. I already have plans for that though...

The blanket is 185 stitches wide and the whole thing is double crochet stitch (UK terms) including the border. Its very simple but that was what I was going for. Nice mindless TV crocheting which I could do even when I was tired because I didn't have to think.

The yarn is surprisingly nice. Its quite soft, its warm and it was easy to work with. I have definitely found an acrylic I like. I wouldn't necessarily rush to make jumpers out of the stuff, but for a blanket I can sling in the washing machine every once in awhile its perfect.

Now I've started on blanket number two which is definitely more colourful than this one. There were times making this one where my brain  was convinced the whole world had gone grey scale. It might go with my living room but its a little on the boring side to work with.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Craft storage

Before we moved house I didn't really have much specific craft storage. A lot of it was kept in the spare room in various drawers, some was kept in the living room and the rest was stashed away in odd places here and there without a huge amount of organisation.

At some point in this house this:

Is going to be my craft room. Please try not to laugh too hard when I say that, it really is going to look good one day honestly...

In the meantime my dining room also has all my craft stuff in it which means it is less dining room and more random furniture room.

I do however have more storage space for my craft stuff, even if it means part of it is under my stairs, at least it is all in the same general vicinity.

As I've been buying blanket weight quantities of yarn recently I wanted to keep it all together and at the same time have some sort of porable storage for it. When I am making my stripy blanket I have a minimum of five balls of yarn sitting around. I was finding myself not tidying them away because it was easier to balance them along the back of the sofa. Which doesn't make for a tidy living room.

So the other weekend we had a quick wander around the town centre where I live. Its not exactly got much but it does have a B&M Bargains which yielded these:

Each basket contains a blankets worth of yarn. The middle one holds my yarn for the current blanket, and it does make my life easier. It sits next to the sofa when I am crocheting and it easily whisked away into the dining room if someone calls. Even if I don't have time to move it a basket full of yarn somehow looks a lot neater than random balls lying around.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

52 books - Week 7

This week I have read Mariana by Monica Dickens. This is my last of the books I ordered from Persephone just after Christmas and I think probably my favourite of the three.

The story moves quite quickly through the life of Mary, going from her childhood through to getting married and beyond. Its basically a love story although she makes some wrong turns along the way.

Mary is easy to engage with, the book is sufficiently fast paced to keep my attention and yet you don't feel like its missed any of the important facts out.

I really enjoyed reading this book and would happily read it again. In fact I liked it enough to go and have a look if I could find any more by the same author.

I can't say much about parts of the book without giving too much of the story away but it is a satisfying read with a fitting ending.

Book Title: Mariana

Author: Monica Dickens

Enjoyment: 9/10

Would read again: 10/10

Comments: I really enjoyed this book and would happily pick it up and read it again. The main character is very life like and its an easy story to lose yourself in.

Persephone Books

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Small skein society No 2

Today I should really be writing about my book of the week. I also want to share some links to blogs I love to read, including this lovely lady here. I've got an update on my stripy blanket and some house pictures.

However I'm not going to write about any of that today because my second parcel for the Small Skein Society has come through from the Yarn Yard:

I love the colours on this one, purples are always a favourite with me. I do feel a bit guilty that I haven't even looked at the first instalment recently never mind done anything with it. I'm in too much of a big blanket mood at the moment.

I did have a passing thought that if I saved up my instalments for a year I could do something with them on a larger scale. Something colourful and fancy.

I've been looking at pictures of stained glass recently, I love the ones with big blocks of colour which gradually changes over the piece.

I might try sketching something out at some point. It may be something which would work better in fabric, in fact I first envisaged it in fabric. Now though, I am wondering whether it would work knitted, or even crocheted. If I do make it I know exactly where in the house I would hang it as well.

Monday, 11 February 2013

WIP - Stripy crochet blanket

I thought it was about time I showed an update on the Stripy crochet blanket, it feels like I've been talking about it forever.

I actually checked though and I started it on the 25th of January, so its not being going on for as long as I thought.

I've worked out that I need to crochet 60 of the wide stripes before I put on a border. I'm working out the size off a grey throw that is in constant use in our living room and is a nice size.

Each wide stripe is 5 rows of crochet so that should work out at 300 actual crochet rows altogether, which doesn't really sound that much. I am on the 29th stripe (technically the 30th one I crocheted as I had to undo one, but I'm trying to forget that).

So I really am nearly half way through. Of course I have to do the border as well and I know that is going to take longer to do than a stripe or two but hopefully by that point the fact that I am so near the end will spur me on. This isn't necessarily always the case, I have had far too many projects lingering in my WIP basket waiting for a sleeve to be sewn up or some buttons sewn on. I always enjoy starting a project far more than finishing one off.

So here is is so far:

Not bad I think for 18 days work, it averages out at more than a stripe a day, and as some days I haven't actually picked it up I think actually I am closer to two stripes a day.

Although I do keep getting tempted to start one in my colourful Stylecraft special DK. I am trying to be good and only do one at once but I['m not sure how long my resolve will hold out for.

This year is definitely going to be the year of the blanket though if my current project plans are anything to go by.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

FO - High speed knitting

My shawlette I started in London is finally finished. Here is is in all its unblocked glory:

Blocking will have to take place another day, It doesn't need much, just a little to make the garter stitch section lie flat.

This was an extremely easy pattern, the main part was garter stitch and the ruffle was a 2 x 2 rib. Its a perfect project for if you are sitting around talking and need something you don't have to concentrate on.

I can see myself making more of these as its such a quick pattern. If I hadn't hurt my shoulder I think it would have taken me about 3-4 days at most to knit which is pretty good for me.

So my first FO of the month is done. It'll probably be the only one as I'm not even half way through my blanket so I can't imagine finishing that in the next couple of weeks. Still with no interruptions I can see the main bit being finished by the end of March, although I think the border will take awhile longer.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

52 Books - Week 6

The book I chose for this week was "William - An Englishman" by Cicely Hamilton.

I didn't really enjoy this weeks book. I didn't like William as a character and so I found it really hard to engage with the book. I kept putting it down and reading something else instead. I persevered with it and the story itself was interesting and well written in some ways, but not really a book for me.

Its maybe worth reading for the history, the account of the times and as an interesting view of some of the people involved in the suffragette movement at the start of the book. Its an everyday view of the war from a normal couple rather than a high ranking officer etc, and as such interesting, but I believe there are more readable books out there set around the same idea.

Book Title: William - An Englishman

Author: Cicely Hamilton

Enjoyment: 5/10

Would read again: 2/10

Comments: In some ways this is a very good book with an interesting take on modern history. However because I found the main character difficult to like or engage with this was a hard read for me and not something I would pick up again in a hurry.

Persephone Books

Monday, 4 February 2013

ChiaoGoo needles

I've knitted on cheap knitting needles since I started in 2009. I've admired, coveted and researched interchangeable needles several times over the last few years but never actually done anything about it.

95% of my knitting is done on circular knitting needles, straight ones hurt my shoulders and DPN's hurt my brain! So if I got a set of interchangeables it would do for pretty much all my knitting except for small circumference stuff like socks for which I use Hiya Hiya needles:

Tall Yarns
I've put off buying interchangeables because of the price though. Not that they are that expensive for so many needle and cable combinations in one go, its more that paying a few pounds each time for new needles doesn't seem as bad as paying the equivalent of several skeins of yarn in one go.

I've always preferred to spend my spare money on yarn instead of needles. Right up until a couple of weeks ago I got out fixed circular I hadn't knit with for ages and I couldn't get the cable to unkink. It was locked into a tight spiral that got in the way every time I tried to knit and I got fed up.

I'd heard people on Ravelry raving about ChiaoGoo Twist interchangeables and I am so glad I bought some.

The cables don't kink as they have no memory. The tips are pointy without me needing a blood transfusion every time I use them. The needles and joins are smooth, these have actually made my knitting speed increase. I'm in love...

Best of all they come in the prettiest little case:


Saturday, 2 February 2013

WIP - Stripy Blanket

My shoulder is nearly better. We have friends coming round tonight and I intend on getting back to my shawlette that I started last weekend.

In the meantime I have been lucky enough to be able to crochet and so my stripy crochet blanket has been growing:

It’s growing surprisingly fast and I'm enjoying making it. It’s got awhile to go yet (probably several months) but it’s very easy to pick up and put down in-between other projects.

In the meantime I have some exciting house news. When we bought our first house my mother very kindly donated a lot of furniture to us, most of which was my Grandmother's.

Most of it was a little old fashioned, but it was free and so we were able to spend our money on fixing our house rather than buying furniture. It needed a lot of fixing.

I've made changed to various bits of furniture (painting etc) but the one bit I've never really liked is the sofa and chairs in the living room. I'm not much of a green person and these are very old fashioned:

Can you see my knitting tucked down in the corner there?

I'm not going for a matching suite this time. I want a sofa and then two separate arm chairs which match each other. Probably grey or black for the chairs, but I have other ideas for the sofa.

I finally managed to track down what I wanted and it turned up on Wednesday. So I spend part of Wednesday wrestling with furniture with my bad shoulder which was probably a bad idea.

In the next couple of days I'll put some photos up and you can see what I've chosen. I should say what we've chosen, but when decorating the house I tend to make a lot of the decisions although the Husbeast does get a say, especially in the colour scheme.