Saturday, 21 June 2008

Well, that's another fine mess...

... I got myself into.

I am going crazy just trying to unpick the sewing up on Tulip. I now wish I had just left the thing alone and finished it but decided never to wear it.

Instead, I got all perfectionist and ambitious and actually wanted to wear the thing. I know that rag and bone men don't really come visiting like they used to, but I wish they would come down this cul-de-sac because they wouldn't be disappointed and then I could be free.

I don't care what anyone says, you just don't get this stress with socks.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Groundhog weekend

Last weekend I spent virtually all my knitting time sewing up Rowan Tulip. The plan was to wear it on Monday to school. The kids have been asking me about it all week. Today even one of the cleaners told me that she has been looking out for it but hasn't seen it yet.

The fact of the matter is that all the knitting and sewing have been done, but not satisfactorily. I feel that the best course of action would be to undo the sewing and start again. It is a hideous thought; I loathe sewing up, but considering the time I've invested in the knitting I think this will be the right course of action. It is irksome doing it all again this weekend, but it is worthwhile.

I have finished the stashbuster socks for my mum and I put them in the post for her today. She's not expecting them, so that should be a nice Saturday morning surprise for her. I was getting quite attached to these socks, but she is probably due a new pair and she is always pleased to receive knitted presents.

I had quite a complimentary conversation with the lady at the post office today.

Lady: "Are they (the socks) going to Australia again?"

Me: "No, these are for my mum."

Lady: "No bright tights today, then?"

Me: "No, it's a bit too warm."

Lady: "You're my daughter's teacher. I described what you were wearing and she told me who you are."

Me: "Wow, who is your daughter?"

She then proceeded to tell me who her daughter is, and low and behold I do teach her. Clearly I must have be very memorable on some day in the winter.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Good old Granby Percival

Just got in from work and Granby is playing with a dead mouse. He is a mouser after all! I'm so proud of him. He is going to get salmon for a week.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Trying not to throw in the towel

Rowan Tulip is perilously close to completion. And I am perilously close to throwing in the towel.

This is undoubtedly the best garment I have ever made. I have learned how to sew shoulders using matress stitch. I have picked up 276 stitches and attached a trim along the fronts and neck and then done the same with the sleeves. I only have the ties to complete now and the thing is finished. And yet, I am really disappointed with it all.

The fronts are puckered and the lovely drape that this had only a couple of days ago has quickly disappeared. I don't think I have knitted it long enough, so when I put it on, it feels short and ill fitting. The sleeves do not resemble in anyway the pictures and one is much tighter on my arm than the other. (That or I have abnormally different arms.) I am trying to remember that this is going to be a huge milestone and that I have learned a lot on the way, but I feel embarrassed by what I have produced. It will be ready to wear in Germany, but I don't think it will end up in the suitcase.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Dying of shame

Even though I am completely embarrassed about what I am going to write, I feel I have to tell the story anyway.

Last night I had some knitters around to knit. We were having a nice time, chatting, knitting, I was even doing some picking up stitches on the Tulip cardigan. Suddenly a couple of knitters noticed a mouse squeeze under the door and run behind the settee.

I just started to panic. I do not like mice. If I see one at the allotment I think it's quite cute, but the thought of them inside and running across me in the night just freaks me out. I felt so ashamed that I had people around and there was a mouse in the flat. I had to leave the room and left the other knitters to sort it out. I'm such a coward.

Where was Granby in all of this? Asleep in his cardboard box in the bathroom. Did he wake up with all this commotion? Nah. Did he sniff out the mouse and catch it? Nah. Honestly, that cat! When we go away he's going to my friend Cath's because she has some mice in her newly purchased house and I've been saying she can have my little mouser. Granby clearly thinks there is such a thing as a free lunch.

Anyway, I decided to phone Ezzie who had to leave the allotment and get the hell over here. He promptly came and with the help of the knitters located the mouse and picked it up. I missed all of this because I was in the little bedroom, hiding and being hysterical. There was an almighty scream at one point from the living room. It turns out the mouse escaped from Ezzie and jumped between Lucy and Jeanette. He did manage to catch it again and then he took it out and let it free.

The living room was a right state, but I found all of that funny. The large yucca plant then fell on Jeanette and periodically Granby tried to come into the living room and see what was happening. It's too late locking the door when the horse has bolted, Granby. I am so disappointed in that cat.

Anyway, on a less embarrassing note, on Thursday at Cocoa Lucy Littleblue undid my original seams and taught me how to do matress stitch. This was a revelation and very satisfying, and even if I say so myself I did a good job. Last night I tried to pick up 276 stitches five times, but still haven't managed to do it. I'm going to divide it up today and be a bit more methodical about this.

Barbara very kindly made me a flower display. All the flowers are from her garden, which is just fantastic. This cheered me up when I saw it this morning.

I am also loving these cacti in a morning. The flowers are so bright and cheerful. I am particularly pleased with them because we have grown these from seed. We planted them three years ago and they look fantastic now. They live in the greenhouse at the allotment but for the flowering season they come here for their holidays where I can enjoy them. I am so ashamed of the mouse last night, but at least I am proud of these cacti.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Do I? Don't I?

A couple of posts ago I was wondering about changing my new mobile phone for one with a more mega pixel-ed camera. Well, I went back to the shop and the assistant told me I would be best off just buying a separate camera, so I went to a camera shop. I ummed and ahhed a bit but I did leave with a new camera. I am loving this new camera; it's easy to use, it's light and the colours seem good. By some people's standards it would be too basic, but so far it's perfect for me. I'm glad I have a phone with a camera for spontaneous moments, but it's nice to have a decent camera for photographic moments and blogging.

I have now completed the bulk of the knitting on Tulip and I've sewn up the shoulders.

The shoulder seams are probably the best I have ever done, but they still don't match up to other people's standards. I am wondering whether I should undo them or not. I really can be indecisive at times. I know knitters who would undo the seams immediately because it has to be right. I would love to be like that, but I just don't have the skill. I really want a decent garment this time, but I need some help, so if any of my knitting friends want to lend a hand and teach me, I would really appreciate it. I think I need to invest in a decent book about finishing things. I know there are some. Any recommendations?

In the meantime I don't want to start the trim because I have to cast on loads of stitches and then I am going to pick up stitches along the fronts and the neck and then I'll graft them together. I think it would be better to pick up the stitches and then do the trim so that if I can't pick up the number in the pattern, I can do my own and fudge the trim. (That might not make any sense, forgive me, my knitting thoughts can be jumbled at times.) I just must make sure that I get this finished shortly while I still have momentum. I would really like to be wearing it sometime next week.

Inevitably, faced with a standstill with Tulip, I have cast on a sock and am trying to complete this pair of stashbuster socks.
I can't decide whether these are for me or my mum. I think she's due another pair and she is always really appreciative of socks, but at the same time I love the colour combinations. I cannot express how much I love making socks from odds and sods and it is very satisfying when the colours match. These colours don't match, but do they look good together. I have some bits and pieces of my own handspun yarn left over from Shona's pink and purple camping socks. There isn't enough to make a full pair of socks, but combined with similar coloured sock yarn, I think they will look great together.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Socks and locks

On Sunday Caroline and her family hired a canal boat for the day as a birthday treat. Mara and I were lucky enough to be able to go with them and we had a lovely day.

It has been years since I have been on a canal boat and it was the first time I had been to Retford, but with Mara directing us we had no problems getting there. The weather was hot and sunny, but the boat was nice and cool. We chatted and knitted the day away, and generally put the world to rights. We saw the cutest little ducks ever and lots of fish as well.

I knitted the foot of the second Vinca sock that day and the socks enjoyed having their photo taken on a lock. I was really pleased with how normal this seemed. Even the non-knitters on the boat didn't raise an eyebrow at this.

Work and reality just seemed so far away and I went to work yesterday feeling I had not been there for ages, which is always a great feeling. I would definitely like to do this again and was wondering about my birthday. The problem is that I am a winter baby so it might not be the same.

I actually had a go at steering at one (brief) point. I started off okay, but then I got overconfident and panicked, and had to leave it to the experts. I came home and bragged about these two minutes for some time. Daniel, Caroline's son, did a much better job steering on the way back and I was mightily impressed by how well he could hoot that horn.

It was a great way of combining two hobbies, canals and knitting. How civilised.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Technology crazy

I am feeling so pleased with myself and my new phone. I have been taking photographs on the camera and getting to grips with how to use everything. I actually think that the colour is so much truer on the camera phone than it is on the usual camera, which I've always thought made my photos seems quite dark. This is the sock I was blogging about earlier but with the new camera phone and the colours are much more accurate.

And I cannot believe I have got this photo from my mobile onto the computer using Bluetooth. I bought something called a Dongle, and hey presto, I've used Bluetooth.

The only thing now is that I wish I had bought a more expensive phone because I now want the 5 megapixel camera because I wouldn't need a separate camera then. The phone was really cheap in the end. The package was £79.oo which included £20 top up and I asked the lady to shave something off the price and she took £30 off, which I think was fantastic. You can take it back if you are not happy with it within 28 days and I'm actually thinking of doing that for a better camera. What do you think? Have I just become a tech freak or am I still a long way off?

Momentus decision

That title's a bit of an exaggeration, but it feels like a momentus decision to me. I am going to buy a new mobile phone today. My current one is really old. It has a green screen, the game snake, no camera and it's party trick is that it switches itself off constantly, especially when you are mid conversation. Lucy (Knitbird) kindly donated her old phone to me but I couldn't get that working so today I've decided to buy a new one and it's going to have a camera. I can't believe how excited I am about this.

I was also excited last night when I stumbled across this missing sock. It's a stashbuster sock and I finished it a couple of months ago. I've been wanting to start and finish the pair but couldn't find it anywhere to get them as identical as possible. It turned out that Ezzie had put it in the odd socks bag. Technically it is an odd sock, but I have pointed out that I could wrongly have been accused of Second Sock Syndrom because he should have investigated the sock's background before sending it to such a desperate place.

I really love stashbuster socks. This one has the cuff, heel and toe in Lorna's Laces Sweetie and that combined in the body with Lorna's Laces Mountain Creek and some of my first KoolAid handdyed sock yarn. They make a great combination and it is a such a great way of using up those small balls of yarn you are left with at the end of a sock project. I feel it's like getting a freebie sock.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

A blast from the past

I'm really getting somewhere with my promises, you know and I have made great progress with Rowan Tulip. It is over a year since I knitted anything on this cardigan. The back was completed last year and I had knitted half the left side before. But, on Sunday I ripped the left side back and started again with both the right and left side. This was demoralising because a lot of the knitting had been done, but was it was the right thing to do because the fronts will be identical and I only have to work out the badly worded pattern once.

From the photo it's hard to make out, but both sides are on the one needle. I'm going to change my percentage bar shortly to 40%. In terms of area there isn't much to do, but I keep reading a little further down the pattern and the trim looks like it might be a bugger. Woolforbrains did point this out to me once before and when I've been on Ravelry the trim is the real bugbear. But I will not be deterred. This cardigan is going and will be worn in Germany and that won't be July 2009.

I still can't make out I'm a 'starter finisher' person yet though, as I am doing a little sock knitting on the side. However, this is like a snack which doesn't ruin your appetite and is not my main meal at the moment.

What I'm loving about Tulip at the moment is making the two fronts identical. What is driving me mad about these socks is that they are not quite identical. The yarn is Vinca from Peakwool and I like the colours and the colour changes, but because the changes are so subtle, I've slightly misjudged that colour change and so these socks are slightly out. It's driving me mad. Thankfully they are for Ezzie, who assures me this is not a problem. He just loves hand knitted socks. This is good; I couldn't possible give them to someone else as a gift.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

New month, new McKnitty

I cannot believe it is June. How on this earth did that happen? I know it's all to do with the earth spinning around the sun, but seriously, have we done more rotations this year of something?

Instead of feeling all downhearted by the things I have not managed to do this year, I have been feeling surprisingly up beat. I have changed the look of the blog and I am much more pleased with it now. I saw Lucy Littleblue's percentage bars and felt inspired to include the same on my blog. It took me over an hour to figure all that out, but I didn't give up, so I'm pleased with myself about that. I took some gorgeous greyhounds for some nice walks this morning. I've been to the allotment for a little while and my best friend got engaged yesterday, so there was lots of good news around here.

And today I have not done any sock knitting. Instead I have knitted some of Tulip. I actually ripped back all of the left front I started over a year ago and instead caston the left and right fronts on the same needles, but with different balls of yarn, and feel sure that this time I am going to do it. I know people sometimes knit the sleeves at the same time and that it is psychologically uplifting. I know it's the same amount of knitting and will take the same length of time, but I will feel as if the cardigan will be more complete once those two sides are done and at the same time.

I swore this time last year that I would be wearing that cardigan in Germany. Well, July 2007 came and went and the cardigan never saw the light of day again. But, so far so good. I've made good progress and am already onto the decreasing at the front. So with my current determination I should be wearing it in Germany this July.

As much as I hated the baby cardigan thing I showed you yesterday, it was good for my soul. It taught me that I can knit projects other than socks, I can sew things (even though it wasn't great) and I meet deadlines. That little piddly cardigan has done wonders for me and my knitting.