30 June 2006

Sexy Knitters Club

What a day so far. I have joined the Sexy Knitters Club and I will be knitting the current choice for the July KAL - Tempting II. Much excitement! Oooh! Aah! I think it is sexy…

I left my first blog at SKC this morning. I lamented my indecision on yarn therefore the very last minute dash to buy the needed yarn for the project. No sooner than I had posted than the yarn arrived. Three hours later actually but I want to exaggerate – blogger’s prerogative, exclamation marks included! I was so pleased with MCA direct. The only thing with internet buying is you are never quite sure what the yarn will look like colour wise. So, as it turns out the yarn is two shades darker than I anticipated but I still love it! Calmer in Kiwi. I can’t wait to cast on for the KAL. The lesson? There has to be one, no? Always imagine the yarn two shades darker or buy shade cards. I know, I am a skinflint sometimes…

And the footie… Well I am working from home today so I am ‘reduced’ listening to the commentary via BBC online. As my husband’s best friends said earlier today – it is not to be missed. It is a ‘final’ match and a “Clash of the Titans”. I am not sure who to support. Completely torn here. I know who Marietta is supporting. I am listening, but it is hard to write a report and listen to all the excitement. So far though I am holding up. If it comes down to penalty shoot outs I will have to go downstairs and watch… I can’t miss that!

My word! What a penalty shoot out. I am so impressed with Germany and pleased that England did not meet them here. They were so determined and they got through. Anybody who plays them better watch out! There is nothing like playing on home turf to pep that determination. Wow! Germany beat Argentina, who would have thought.

And what about tomorrow? I am already having anxieties about that – how will I manage it??!!! The family are descending on us so, DH and I better go food shopping - now. I will either be ecstatic or depressed when I blog tomorrow…

27 June 2006

Bring it On!

The title is in reference to knitting but before I talk about that, I want to update you on my work life. I can do this too no? I do like a detour.

This week has turned out to be much better than last week, so far. As I type this I am on the train home… The conductor has just come through and wants to see our tickets. Why is it that they decide to come through just when I decide to occupy myself intensely? Mhhh? It is beyond me. Can’t they see I am busy???? They should ask in advance...

Anyway [ticket shown with a smile], as I was saying, I am on my way home and usually (last two weeks) I am working on Loll, as I inch my way home. Yesterday though, I had to do some work. I thought I would be able to dedicate some time to knitting too but ohh noooo, I worked all the way home. Blast! I was not too impressed with myself or my work but you know what, I had a less stressful day at work today. It was all worth it in the end.

My confined space is making me look funny while typing. My shoulders are hunched up rather high and I am beginning to feel tense around the shoulders perhaps typing this on the train is not such a good idea after all. No matter, I will persevere.

You will have noticed that I have joined the Rowanette Blog Ring which has provided me with more opportunity to visit knit sibs as Brenda Dayne calls them. I just want to see what everyone is creating and knitting. I am amazed at what is out there. Apart from, this I love Rowan patterns. So, I thought it would be fun to see what patterns others have decided to knit. Also Rowan yarns being expensive, I wanted to spy what yarn substitutions people have made in the past.

I must also add that my first proper adult cardigan... after learning to knit at the age of 5 or 6… no, wait for it… then rediscovering knitting when I was… well around 6 years ago… was a Rowan pattern - Onza it was/is called. It was so simple and straight forward, that I fell in love with Rowan. I remember mentioning the cost of the yarn to my ‘mentor’, but all she said at the time is that it is worth it. Which I have discovered is true but since then the yarn world has moved on. More suppliers are coming on line, therefore more competition, therefore cheaper yarn available but not necessarily lower standards. Even in the UK. It is happening. Bring it on, I say! Laters!

25 June 2006

Bend it Beckham!

He did too. The old Beckahm was back. What an afternoon for England! So many moments of ooooooohhhh… Agonising close calls but we pulled through.

We had the family over with us to watch the game and my little niece who is just under two years old started imitating my [rather] loud expression of oooooohhhhh! Then we scored and I raised my hands with a verbal expression of ‘yeeeeessss’. That was the expression for the afternoon for her. Bless her. So every time she says yes now she raises her arms in the air...

Some knitting accompanied the footie watching but not very much. I was too excited. Which was fine but I have still to complete the front. My intention was to compete it yesterday. Oh, and the family were drinking bud-wei-ser, mind boggles…

The photos? I just thought to share more of our garden piccies…

24 June 2006

Nag, Nag, Nag…

Oh what a bother! Earlier today my dear hubby got really annoyed with me. I didn’t mind because I knew it was for a good reason that I nagged him. You see, we both were in the garden enjoying the sun and really chilling out. Then, I suggested that although he had put some suntan lotion on he should not sit directly in the sun just after midday. Oh, my goodness! You would have thought I asked him to eat worms… He was so resistant. Talk about one digging their heels in! But you see I had good reason. Last year the docs found a melanoma and removed etc., etc. So, I didn’t stop at his annoyance, which annoyed him even more... I kept going until he moved into the shade. It was warm enough.

Anyway, we soon made up and went to a local fete but I forgot my camera so I can't show you what they had there. But we bought plants for the garden for all of £2, crystal glasses for £3 and a picture frame for £2. Not bad eh? A bargain I say.

We also got to enjoy our first ever home grown strawberries. They were very sweet and tart... No pun intended. Seriously, it was lovely to enjoys the fruits of our labour.

I nearly forgot. That update on my knitting adventures... Well, Loll is coming along. The back is complete as I mentioned earlier, and I should finish the front today. More pictures when I am feeling happy about where I am... Actually, forget that here is one...

Oh, yes and the footie... The whole country awaits with baited breath. England v Ecuador... Not to be missed!

22 June 2006

When it rains…

...it really pours! This week has really 'had' me at work. I have been working long hours and today, oh, is unmentionable.

I have been determined to do my knitting though which means that I have broken the back of Loll... ahem, I have completed the back that is... Now onto one of the fronts. It feels good to be here. I am actually progressing.

Meanwhile, thinking ahead, I have started contemplating blocking. I have never blocked any of my knitting and I would like to block Loll. Any advice out there. I have read about people making blocking boards or using space beds etc but what exactly do you guys do with the garment while blocking? Being new to this realm, any advice would be good.

Oh and the world cup... I could not for the life of me type while England were playing. Something happened to my fingers and they froze! Even when I tried to knit; which would have been detrimental actually, as it would have turned out very holey. England v Sweden was an absolute nightmare to watch. I have stayed away from the television since then – well actually, I could not get to it, seeing as I have collapsed into a tired heap every night. Tonight, I have just about mustered the energy to stay up and do this.
Until the weekend my friends.

19 June 2006

You knit too much when…

...you try to knit with your eyes closed and, pretend that it is the calming effect of knitting lulling you into a sense of calm... WHAT! I think I have a serious problem here. I know I am tired, but I am still trying to knit so that I can literally break the back of that Loll.

Meanwhile, I received some very good news today. One of my oldest friends is going to have her second baby. I have not seen her for ages but you know, it is one of those friendships you know will last a lifetime. Congratulations matey!

I wonder what my needles will be up to until then… Nightly, night.

Oh! And that photo of Loll, lolling around last Saturday…
No footie for me today...

17 June 2006

Game of Attrition…

Disallowed, disallowed why oh why??? It was in! The Italian pulled a fast one – injury indeed. If it was an injury surely he would have stayed off the pitch, but he came back. Can you tell that I am supporting the US? I think they have played very well. I am so upset with the referee though. Three red cards, countless yellow cards... Heart breaking stuff. So, is Italy out? 1 all at the moment and we are at 74 minutes. Loll is lolling around as we speak, she was this afternoon too...

Ok so what else did I get up to today... spot of gardening. You see I love our garden but it is on the bigger side of average English gardens. This means (for us at least) that we cannot go long without any garden attention.

Back to footie, hubbie has just commented that the game is really now a war of attrition – two foes slugging away trying to wear each other down. I want the US to win ... 13 minutes to go and it is lively. I like a lively match but please don’t let the Italians score. The US is really on the attack here and looking good. Come on USA score for crying out loud!!!! Sort those Italians out! Oh... it is tense people, tense... 8 minutes to go and then extra time after that. If I had beer in the house this would be the time to have it – to calm the nerves. They are fraught I can tell ya. Knitting? What knitting? Scared of making mistakes... lack of attention you see. The footie wins without a doubt.

It is interesting you know. Any other time of the year, I would not be interested in football. You see when I was young (this makes me feel old) my father watched football all the time... The Italians nearly scored again. 3½ minutes to go... As I was saying, Dad watched football all the time. As we had one television, we (the children) could either watch or leave. Most of the time, we left. Looking back, it was not all the time that Dad watched football actually, just when we wanted to watch Dynasty (oh yes, we watched it!)... 90 seconds away!!!! Breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe... So... I developed an aversion to football in my younger years, however occasionally; I get involved as I am now. I am sure Dad will be pleased when I tell him... (This is a diversion tactic by the way - to pass time quickly). Italians nearly scored again. COME ON USA!!!! HOLD IT TOGETHER! You have done so well, so far. 9 against 10... 90 minutes er... seconds, to go of the extra time. HANG IN THERE USA... I c..a..n..t t y p e a n y m o r e... it is too tense. It is over! It is all over! America 1, Italy 1. Amazing!

OK, I have to see to dinner now… Yes, it is late but I was watching football...
p.s. can't add photos to this thing... again... maybe tomorrow. I wanted to share more of the garden and Loll lolling around.

Swatch & See

Aahhh! Another glorious day in the garden. Here is a picture of dear hubby enjoying the weather outside. He is also trying to educate me on bird watching. I love it, but I just can’t remember the birds nor recognise them!

Meanwhile, I had a brainwave (sp) – a stash busting idea! Lotus Blossom Tank could be my next project after the next one... I run up to the spare bedroom but... lo and behold the yarn I had in mind does not have the tension required. Not being experienced at yarn substitution, I thought it best to give in here. The original tension required is 22sts/36 rws the said yarn tension is 24-26 sts... I have just realised as I write this... I could increase the needle size and still get the right tension, no? I think I have enough yarn to make it. Yipee! OK, ok! I am excited about LBT but I will have to contain myself. I will only start it when I finish one of the other projects... Lets see how long I hold out... Now to swatch and see... I will keep you posted.

Can you tell I am getting bored with Loll? Yes, I am... I always get like this after I have done most of the back. I enjoy seeing the pattern unfold and when it does, I get bored. Get me out of here I am only a knitter! No wonder people knit in the round. You don’t have to do it all over again. I will perk up honestly...

No footie recently. Two late nights at work (even when I was working from home) have meant little blogging, knitting, or footie. Anyway, back to the garden... Yup those roses are really in our garden. We planted them on the day we moved into the house. Aren’t they beautiful?

14 June 2006

Multi-tasking – Knitting, Blogging and Footie

Oh what to do? Watch football, knit or blog? I have decided to do all at the same time – well kind off. I am taking break from knitting as I write but I am still watching the footie. Germany against Poland. I am supporting the ‘said’ underdog as usual - Poland. But you know they have just lost one player to a red card! What are they doing – 74 minutes under their belts and what’s that, a red card? Why???

Talking of which, I have been close to giving Loll a red card as well. Those shapings people talked about. While doing the research mentioned in an earlier entry, I discovered that the shapings of the cardi are not quite to… and Germany nearly scooooreeed! Ohhh! Thank goodness for that… as I was saying the shapings of the cardigan are not quite what is written down. You have to try and imagine what the designer would have intended – physical and visual shaping – then adjust the placement of markers accordingly. What I have ended up with is what you can see in this photograph. Not bad but I have not written it … oh Germany are rather aggressive now, 84 minutes into the game… Good for you Marietta no?… down.

This multi-tasking is wearing me out. Oh by the way, I am also conversing with my hubby as I do this. I am not doing any of these things well but it has to be done otherwise a long night is ahead of me. So, I have not written it down which means I have to be careful when I come to the front but hopefully a visual reference using the back will be enough. Germany have just missed again – yeesss!! But the Polish goal keeper has just got a yellow card for not collecting the ball quick enough – WHAT! When did that rule come in? NOOooooooo! The ball just bounced off the Polish goal three times and then Germany scored! But the whistle had blown phew! No, they have just scored, again!!! Germany that is – tears for the Polish, it means they are out unless Costa Rica beat Ecuador! Torturous! Pleased it was not England though…

OK I give up on trying to blog about knitting. Needless to say, I have survived the alternative shaping. Manana people.

12 June 2006

Knit One, Frog Two

I am glad I read other posts about Loll pattern before I started it. Mind you, I had already committed to it, eh. The posts gave me an idea of what to expect and, I think, reduced what would have been plenty of frustration.

So far, I have used that life line three times and I am not even half way up the back! How many times would I have frogged this if I had not done some research? Boy am I pleased... As you can see from my progress bar, I have made some steps forward since last time but I would like to have been further than this. I will keep those fingers flying!!!

Now, I hope some of you heard my contribution to Brenda Dayne’s pod cast – for Today’s Sweater. I was not expecting this to happen soon but I was very ‘chuffed’ as they say over here! It was wonderful to be included in Brenda’s show. I only hope you enjoyed listening to it. My thanks to Brenda for including me.

11 June 2006

Taking the Bull by its Horns

Finally! The KWC started, it is here. All that build up left me exhausted. Did I cast on at kick off? Nope! Instead I procrastinated. You see I was nervous about starting Loll, and also reluctant to lose that anticipation you get before you start a new project… But what motivation! I finally managed to cast on late Friday night. The timing was perfect, as it also coincided with another of my knitting adventures.

Over the last month, I have been trying to set up a ‘knitting circle/club’. You see, in the last year I attended knitting workshops including some by Emma King and they always left me wanting more. I very much enjoyed that knitting and chatting atmosphere including hints on best techniques from others. It seems other ladies who attended these workshops felt the same way. This year we finally took the bull by its horns and I offered to host the first meeting (10th June). Although there were lots of keen people, the take up was not high for the first meeting. I suspect it had something to do with England playing. So how many came?? Two! That includes me by the way.

We had great fun though, knitting, chatting and eating most of the day. As it was a gorgeous day outside, and we sat in my garden. Fabulous! Guess what I worked on? I didn’t get very far though because of the chatting and eating part. And other bloggers were right; the loll fringe does take ages. Because of this I am using ‘lifelines’ for the first time ever! And yes, I have frogged to that lifeline already… Anyway, one ball down and eight more to go, it is the KWC after all! I am hoping to fly after this, err… hurdle.

Will the knitting club meet again? Yes, yes, yes!!!!! We decided to give it another try next month, by which time the two founding members agreed to have finished current projects. It fits in with the KWC too. Fingers crossed! Or should I say fingers flying…

10 June 2006

The Best Laid Plans

Those knitting world cup training sessions I mentioned were planned as follows…
    Monday – swatch to check tension
    Tuesday – ditto
    Wednesday – swatch loll fringe pattern
    Thursday – swatch rib pattern
    Friday (evening) – cast on baby!
The plan was to do this swatching on the train journey to and from work. I have an hour’s commuting time each way. Forget that work I need to catch up on this is more important…

Hello!!!! Reality check, plan very unlikely. The training sessions instead went like this…
    Monday – swatch to check tension
    Tuesday – ditto
    Wednesday – ditto
    Thursday – forgot yarn etc at home.
    Friday (evening) – cast on regardless!
Thursday as you can tell was frustrating… But I was also relieved actually. I caught up with some sleep. Beautiful except the train was so cold. Why is it that at the mere glimpse of sunshine all air conditioners go on? The result is that you wear cardigans all the time – well most of the time. My office is the same, the minute there is sunshine outside, the air cons come on. So, the only opportunities I have to show off my shoulders are at home and when walking back and forth between the train station and the office. Does this make sense? It makes stash enhancement excuses for me but come on!!!! I want to wear other knitted garments too!!! OK so that is the knitting link. Rant over… for now.

So back to my training sessions. They are not going well. I initially started with what I thought was a shortcut - knitting just over an inch square then counting the rows and stitches in an inch square. Multiplying these by 4 to get the proper picture. Clever no? Noooooo. It all got too much by Tuesday. After starting with the 5mm needles then moving down to 4.5mm because my tension was too loose resulting in too few stitches and rows; the figures got to me. How could smaller needles producing fewer stitches? They were meant to be increasing.

Jiminy was at it again. “Start again! You should have done this in the first place!!! Ha haaa!”. Aiyeeeee! So, I settled down to doing the full swatch first with the 4.5mm because earlier attempts indicated that this would hit the nail on the head. Nada! Zilch! Way to big. Reduce please… 4mm did the trick but brought up another dilemma. The pattern calls for one whole mm less needles to start with do I adjust accordingly or do I make a different call?

I will sleep on it but I CANT WAIT TO CAST ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Loll and World Cup here I come… What an excellent excuse to watch footie.

08 June 2006

Acts of Kindness

You know after my last blog, I wondered whether I would get very far with my unfinished project. It is called Sahara by the way – did I mention that? I don’t think so. So yes, I called it Sahara because of that travel log I alluded to . I will revisit this particular side of my knitting adventures later…

For now, those emails I sent out in desperate search of discounted yarn were answered most impressively. I got a very gentle response from the online yarn shop I had originally ordered from – Scandinavian Knitting Design. Yup they came up trumps and I was very pleased but not only this, it is the way in which they answered my plea.

First of all they wrote back to me within hours of me sending out my email. Bruce, who was my main contact, said he should have a look around to see if they could find anything. By the time I got home last night - tarrah! There were emails waiting for me. Emails of joy! Bruce had managed to find two balls of the yarn I was looking for, in their demonstration box. AND… wait for this, it was discounted… Now fellow knitters tell me – an answer to a plea or what??? He promised to send it out to me as soon as possible. Bless him and Karen who was the other person involved in saving this knitter in distress. Kni[gh]t in shining amour he was.

Hand on your brow pleaaaase damsel!! Kni[gh]t on that horse – keep that armour polished! He didn’t stop there! I was looking for three balls of yarn. The hardest to find was the main colour of course, for which they were missing one. Murphy’s law? I prefer to call it by its other name S*d’s law… Anyway, as I was saying he had another trick up his sleeve – he contacted one of the other customers, who had bought the last of this orange yarn, and asked her whether she would be using it all and whether she could spare one for a fellow knitter.

And she… bless her cotton socks… responded immediately. Her name is Claire by the way and she has her own blog (Claire I hope you don’t mind me mentioning your name and blog). Fine, Claire said. She didn’t mind helping a fellow knitter out. Of course I responded quickly… Thank you very much Claire, where, when, how? I asked. You know what she said? Free of charge. If this is uncomfortable with you, she added, then donate money on my behalf to charity. What a woman. Thank you so much Claire!!!!

Meanwhile, my kni[gh]t was still producing the goods. I wanted to receive the yarn ASAP of course, so asked how I could pay quickly in order to get the yarn and given that this was an unconventional order (I think?). Not to worry Tusa, he replied I will send you a Paypal button. He had actually gone into previous records and found out that I was Paypal set… I tell you, I was impressed. The button arrived a few hours later. On I clicked, directly to Paypal with the right amount. As easy as that.

Aahh… What a relief, my yarn distress sorted out through acts of kindness. I am charged with being a recipient of these acts of kindness and as a result want to say to anybody who is reading this, please pass it along in whatever way you can – make someone’s day.

p.s. This entry was intended for 6th June but I had connectivity issues with blogger…

04 June 2006

Against the Wall

You know, you read about these things in other people’s blogs and think – no not me I would not do that… Well this w/e I discovered that I had made exactly the same mistake as others have.

Last month I spent a whole day (well almost a whole day) having knitplosion moments. I had discovered that I could design my own sweaters rather than find a pattern to suit my stash… Well maybe I am stretching it here, this is more of a stash enhancement excuse.

Anyway, I don’t know why this had not dawned on me before but there I was making my first calculations for my first sweater. I researched the net and found some instructions on how to make a drop sleeve sweater. Now… I like cardigans, so I thought I wanted my first design to be a cardigan. While I was at it I decided to calculate for other sizes too.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention, I thought that it would be best to start with a child’s sweater. Small, short, quick and would make a perfect gift. After much time calculating the dimensions noting them down etc., I ordered the yarn from an online shop and it arrived two days later. At the time of ordering I checked out how much was in stock with the company and I noted that they had plenty…

The yarn arrived and I very excitedly cast on to check my gauge, so that I could adapt the pattern I wanted to knit. A television programme had inspired this cardigan – a travel log actually (more on this later). Now, it was time to turn this pattern into fabric… I swatched and cast on.

As usual, I flitted between this and the project I have recently finished. Normal state of affairs for knitters no? After completing the other project, I decided to pick this other one up. Happily knitting away, then I realised that I did not have enough yarn for the main colour. So I thought, easy, I will just order some more and maybe some spare for some socks later on. On, I logged, poised with card details but then smack! I ran into a dead-end… no more yarn in stock. Then I thought ok, so I will see whether other suppliers have any in stock, another wall… They don’t do mail order.. Aaarrrgghhh!!!!.

OK, I thought, I will email this and other suppliers, meanwhile I will see if others overseas stock this yarn. Of course they do in the Scandinavian countries (where the yarn is from) but I could not read the websites, they are all in Scandinavian languages… Ok, deep breaths… Q. do I have friends in these countries, I can't remember! Deep breaths... I am sure I have friends over there, but of course I could make one now!!!!

Seriously, what to do? Patience my husband cautioned, wait for a reply and then if need be find a stockist in another country. But I wanted to finish this project before next Friday!!! Well, my jiminy cricket said, you should have ordered more in the first place, how many times have you heard this happen to other people??? Shut up! I think… I hope at least one of them stocks the yarn…

02 June 2006

Who am I kidding?

I have finished it!!!! At last...

Am I pleased with it? Well, I have mixed feelings. I have checked and re-checked the pattern to see whether it looks on me, as it does on the model. I think it is close... The only thing I did different was to add the toggle because I prefer to have my cardis closed, partly closed at least. The loop was made out of a two stitch I-cord.

The construction once it was all knitted went well no major hiccups except I had this dread at it not looking as it should. Well, here is a photo. Let me know what you think. Does it look half decent? I think the lack of shaping is what is holding me back. I like them fitted and not sure why I did not think about this before I started. Ho, hum - you live and learn.

Tomorrow is Saturday so I will wear it all day and then make up my mind. In the past when I have not been sure of my sweater, I have waited a little and it has grown on me... Hubby says it is fine but he knows I am a little sensitive at the moment as I have just finished it after a long slog – he is nice like that.