The postman rang

have been avidly stalking my letterbox on the instruction of Stephcuddles , knitter, clay artist and blogger extraordinare, after having been lucky enough to have won her recent blog giveaway.  Now, I have entered a fair few blog competitions in my time but I am a serial loser.  You make your own luck, and the luck that I generate is always bad!  Maybe you only win if you want it bad enough – OK, that may be true of a competition, but this is a game of chance and so that doesn’t count, yet somehow, the morning after I knew the giveaway had been drawn I lay in bed thinking ‘I wonder if I could just have won that draw’.  And I know what made me think that, because only one thing could make me so irrational…

Oh, Zauberball, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways…  No, too many ways to count.

But wait, there is something even more charming that was also part of the giveaway.  Stephcuddles has recently turned to polymer clay modelling (a love I can understand as it is another favourite past-time of my own) and as part of her blog competition asked entrants to name a favourite animal and fruit/vegetable.  Well, I was never going to say an animal other than monkeys, was I?  And fruit…  Surely there is only one companion fruit that a monkey would even consider…

Can you believe how cute and well-formed these little guys are?  I have been awaiting autumn so that I can cast on for a very special Monkey Scarf with my monkey knitting needles and now these stitch markers will definitely be used for possibly the most monkey-ish project ever to be conceived.

A second ring of the doorbell heralded the arrival of a box I had been awaiting…

Lots of fresh yarn, ready for dyeing.  I opened up the box and plunged my head in for a few seconds, like one big meatball in a bowl of yarn spaghetti.  Now I have regained my senses I have lots of dyeing to do.  Once I have finished for the day I shall just sit and admire my zauberball for a bit and try to imagine what it should become.  I have decided to wait until I have finished my two current works in progress before casting on any more, and then I think I will be putting Lisa’s Shalimar sock and Stephcuddles’ crazy zauberball forward for two sumptuous and indulgent new projects.

Stephcuddles has a lovely little blog here so do drop by and say hi to her, she’s rather lovely.

And that’s why they call it the blues

Sometimes I find that all the little things that occupy my tiny creative sphere start to take on a theme and work in harmony with each other. I sat my current spinning down alongside the yarn I had just balled to begin a new project with and went out to clear my mind and indulge in the ever-relaxing pursuit of duck feeding. Luckily the canal is a literal stone’s throw away and the lively quacking sounds from the water assured me that there was a large contingent of flappy-beaked bred eaters in attendance.

When I returned back to the warmth and comforts of indoors I lay Mooncalf’s mitts down whilst I removed the rest of my outdoors gear and returned to notice just how well they looked alongside all of the other fibre treats I have been working on.

The cool greens and blues with the subtle range of greys all seem to be part of what I am taking comfort in at the moment. I am not always drawn to these cool colours, but at the moment their gentle hues seem to be an antidote to the fiery business of everything else I have been working on, and an answer to the hot pinks and spicy oranges of recent projects. Spinning the gentle green kid mohair feels calming. Even winding the subtle blue-grey Louisa Harding Grace hand-dyed yarn (which Mooncalf handily informed me goes by the delightful name of ‘pigeon’, a city wise bird with an air of irreverence – I have respect for pigeons) bought me joy with the promise of projects yet to be devised.

This yarn from Vivianne looks and feels scrummy. It’s smooth and cool. A glossy single ply with the occasional slub. being a hand-dyed yarn there are variations from skein to skein. One of the two I have has a lot more turquoise/blue than the other, and the yarn tells you to alternate stripes from two or more skeins to avoid obvious changes from skein to skein. The skein with the lesser amount of blue also only has any blue in one half of the skein. As I was winding the yarn into balls the second half of one of the balls was only shades of grey for at least half its length, but such things are the nature and part of the charm of hand dyed yarns, and perhaps something to work with rather than fight against.

Kidding me softly

Last night I picked out my most special fibre and started to spin it. I have considered and delayed in coming to decide how to spin this fibre, thinking that perhaps I should wait until I know how to spin a bit better or one day am in a position in which I might be able to buy or borrow a spinning wheel, but last night I decided that I might as well just enjoy playing with the lustrous strands.

When I rummaged in my small fibre box for the pale green pure kid mohair it was nestled up against another plait of fibre of mixed green and blue hues, and it looked so perfect next to the kid mohair that I wondered if the two fibres should not be worked together somehow.

I’m not sure if the two fibres will end up in the same yarn or the same project, but I’ve decided not to worry about it, but instead to just enjoy the spinning. And what a joy to spin the kid mohair is. Soft, silky long strands that slip through the fingers leaving behind a smooth twist of yarn with sheen and lustre. Spinning kid mohair may require a different technique to how I have spun before, but I decided to just see how it felt to spin, and it feels just perfect. Maybe there is a better way, but I’m just going to enjoy working with these fibres and see what results from them.

Lace Scarf

This is a simple, quick to knit scarf where a very basic and easy to memorise ace repeat is teamed with a luxury yarn to provide a quick and simple to knit lace accessory with a real touch of indulgence due to the cashmere blend of Skein Queen’s Blush hand dyed yarn. Each skein feels like a cuddle and a cloud.

This is the fifth and final pattern of a little collection I have written due for release in the summer, for a special project I have been taking part in. Each of the five patterns aims to introduce a new skill or technique to a relatively new knitter, whilst also remaining a pleasurable knit for more seasoned needle twiddlers. Simple patterns with interest.

The other patterns in the collection are the mittens, hat, and hot water bottle cosy from the last few days, and a pair of socks.

The mittens are knit flat using only knit and purl stitches and require only knowledge of the two basic stitches plus casting on and binding off. The hat introduces very basic colourwork in the form of stripes, plus knitting in the round and picking up stitches. The hot water bottle incorporates very simple cabling whilst the scarf introduces lace. The socks end the collection with small diameter knitting and simple short rows, following on from my Short Row heels and toes tutorial and developing this into a full multi-sized pattern.

I feel I have been able to think of little other than this project over the last few weeks, so I am happy to be able to sign it off for a while. I’m looking forward to some slightly more leisurely knitting in my spare time for a while, but I will post with a few more details about what I have been up to in the future. Specifically, around June 1st.

Fingerless mitts with texture

My aim was these mitts was to try to create a really basic, easy beginner’s pattern that still had some detail that took the finished item a step above that of a garter stitch scarf. These mitts only requite knowledge of how to knit and purl, and they are knit flat. There are no increases or decreases, no thumb gussets or afterthought stitch holders, no DPNs or anything like that. All they requires are a little (really, very little) sewing up afterwards. I hoped to make them easy enough for even a very beginner knitter or very young knitter to manage and yet end up with a project that they could feel a sense of accomplishment with.

The textured motifs are in the form of moss stitch diamonds on stockinette backgrounds, bordered on all sides with stretchy 1×1 rib, ensuring that they fit a wide range of hand sizes and also keeping them snug against the hands.

These aren’t a pattern I have written for this site or Ravelry, but readers may well see them again in a few months!

Damask Shawl

I knit the largest of this shawls three given size options for maximum impact, in beautiful, saturated turquoise yarn. The result is vibrant and s very eye-catching. I am in love.

I knit the pattern as written, with the one small modification of leaving off most of the nupps. I knit the first two rows of nupps (little, two-row bobbles that are a signature of a lot of Estonian lace but are now found in many modern lace knitting patterns) but decided that the impact was not worth wrangling cased by trying to purl seven stitches together. I think nupps are more noticeable on fine lace-weight yarn, where the gathering of the stitches is quite a contrast to the light-as-air lacework around then, but in this heavier 4-ply yarn they do not show quite so readily.

There were a few different ways that I could have blocked the edge of this shawl, but in the end I went for a scalloped edge with little swallowtail points on each scallop, as I thought I recalled this is how the designer had blocked the original (though I stopped short f actually checking this at the time, as I was too involved with thousands of pins by this point). I really like the elegant lines of the blocked edge and think it lends a great deal to the overall look of the shawl, especially as it reminds me of a bright blue butterfly in this vivid yarn.

Before blocking the shawl measure 95cm at its widest point. Blocking bought this measurement out to about 170cm, opening out the lace work beautifully. Every stitch, every wrapped yarn over and every carefully placed decrease can now be properly appreciated.

I am very (perhaps overly, I can’t fake humility here) happy with my first large lace project. I cannot wait to use it. I can already see myself sitting outside my favourite canalside pub in late spring, with this draped over my shoulders, enjoying the long-missed sunshine.

Fuji Yoga Socks

Once the last three stitches of the Damask shawl were knit together and the yarn cut away from the ball, I was left with 70g of beautiful Cherry Tree Hill Supersock yarn with which to play, from my initial 200g. I absolutely love this yarn, it is easily my favourite yarn ever. So springy and vibrant (too vibrant, in fact, for my camera. I just cannot capture this amazing turquoise colour for love nor money), but unfortunately too spendy for my pocket, so I’m going to make sure to make the absolute most of the 200g I was so kindly given.

So, though there is not enough for a full length pair of socks, I thought I would give the Fuji Socks, pictured on the front of my new Knitted Socks East and West book a go. I was hesitant about using this yarn for socks (though it is manufactured as a sock yarn) simply because it is perhaps too luxurious for my feet. But then why shouldn’t my feet be pampered once in a while?

Fuji Socks are, appropriately, all about pampering. Designed to be toe-less for pedicure treatments, they are the ultimate treat sock. However, I think I might modify them to be yoga socks, rather than pedicure socks, I haven’t quite decided. Yoga socks are both heel-less and toe-less, so that those parts of the feet come into contact with the floor/mat when worn. Being in direct contact with the floor gives your bare feet better grip and balance. And I could still wear them when painting my toenails pretty colours.

I’m quite enjoying the little bit of the pattern that I have knit so far. The cuff threw up a little surprise in that the sharply defined columns of twisted rib are interrupted by four small blossoms, made with little wrapped yarn over stitches.

I have one, tiny, tiny irritation about the socks. The blossom motif is 7 stitches wide, and the main pattern of the sock is 16 stitches across. The odd number of stitches used for the small cuff motif and the even number of stitches used for the main panel of stitches (which runs down the top of the foot with the rest of the sock in stockinette stitch), means that the two patterns always line up to be half a stitch off-centre. It almost certainly won’t be noticeable when the socks are complete, but that tiny, nagging voice of the perfectionist keeps on giving a knowing chuckle every time I think of it.

As neat as a pin

Those pins can only mean one thing. The first project of 2019 is off the needles and is currently being wet blocked. I’d usually hope that a 4-ply lace object would dry overnight, but with the cold, damp weather we’ve been experiencing recently it may be a day or two longer. I’m really looking forward to freeing this first large lace project from it’s hundreds of Lillipution pins and metres of rope-like embroidery floss, regimenting the stitches until they dry and set in place.

I am now going to bask in the great sense of achievement in signing off the first (of hopefully many) F/Os of the year, and striking one box off my list of WIPs.

One more stitch dictionary will not hurt

Father Craigmas must have consulted the wishlist I drew up with the help of Amazon, as around New Year (thanks for that, Amazon Elves & Royal Mail) a late Christmas present turned up, to take its place proudly on my knitting books shelf.

I do love a good stitch collection, and the harmony guides are well presented with decent pictures. A time will always come along when I find I need one that I don’t yet have – such as when making my collection of Granny Squares and deciding that it’d be an even better on-going project if I could throw in the odd ‘special’ square.

With that in mind, please do not point out that I am missing at least one from the Harmony Stitch guides collection, because I sort of already know and I have decided to try and avoid learning any more of it, because if I know about it then I will surely needit. I’m already semi-frustrated by the fact that the two left-most Harmony guides in the above picture are the older editions, and so do not match the others that I have bought since, knowing for certain that other exist will surely tip me over the edge.