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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It's All Silk and Ribbon Round Here!

Two skeins of lovely sari silk came through the post this morning. This is grade one sari silk, beautifully soft and also very reasonably priced. One skein is for the Floribunda curly whirly cravat for Sue's daughter and the other one is for moi (not sure what for yet but I liked it so much I thought I'd get another!)

Saris seem to be figuring a lot in my knitting these days as I've just started the Button Wrap from Louisa Harding's Accessories Collection in Impressions and Sari Ribbon. Here's a photo of the Button Wrap from the pattern book.

I've got another Louisa Harding project on my "to do" list that I've already bought the yarn for (Orchiz) which I'm going to be knitting in green sari ribbon. So, rather than duplicate the green, I decided to opt for a different colourway than that shown in the pattern for the Button Wrap and chose Impression in the red colourway and Sari Ribbon in petal.

The sari ribbon edging should be 4-6 inches long according to the instructions. At present, it's six inches long but I may trim it down to four inches when I'm finished depending on how it looks. The pattern also calls for three buttons which I, personally, think makes it look a bit too busy (button-wise)! To me, the Button Wrap does seem to have a sort of quaint olde worlde type look about it so I think I'll go with the antique style larger button and another smaller one but omit the smallest button.

Turning to the subject of Yuletide Gnomes, I've almost finished the knitting part of number one gnome (just one arm, beard, and nose left to do) but I've a feeling that the sewing/stuffing part may prove to be quite time consuming. As it's less than four weeks to go till Xmas, I'm going to have to get on with it if I'm aiming for a family of them!

Isn't it great that, as well as stimulating the market so that we now have loads of yummy yarns to choose from, the resurgence of interest in knitting and other crafts has also meant that there are a lot more yarn shops to choose from some of which are providing workshops and venues in which people can relax and knit. One of the more recent yarn shops to open is The Knit Tin in Olney, Bucks, and they've organised a schedule of workshops covering different aspects of knitting and crochet. I missed out on the beading and embellishment workshops scheduled at C&H Fabrics in both Canterbury and Tunbridge Wells because, by the time I found out about them, all of the places had gone. To compensate, I've booked for the Intarsia and Beaded Bag Workshop with Debbie Abrahams (of '25 Cushions to Knit' and 'Blankets and Throws' fame) on 10th December at the Knit Tin. Okay, it's quite a way to travel for a workshop but, hey, I'll be able to check out a new yarn shop, meet new people, and make an intarsia and beaded bag into the bargain so I'm not complaining. Of course, the fact that there's a 10% discount on all purchases on the day of the workshop for those attending has nothing at all to do with it.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Nice Gestures

People know I like bears. Could it be something to do with the fact that they're in every room here at home? I mean, you can't even go and sit in the "little room" without a bear looking on!!!

But, I do so love bears. There's something about them that's warm, enfolding, cuddly and, most of all, cute, but if ever I meet a grizzly, I may well change my mind.

This one (the 3-D bookmark on the left in the photo), from Sue at the office, really cheered me up the other day when I was feeling a bit down. Nice gestures can do that. Just little things but they can make all the difference to what might otherwise have been described as "a bad day". Thanks, Sue! Sue reads my blog now and again so she might see this. The bear pencil on the right was given to me by MIL last time she came over. She nearly always brings something small and beary so when there's no room left at Hawkley Lodge for us to sit or sleep or eat, etc, because the bears are taking up all the space, we can blame her.

I've almost finished MIL's clapotis but ran out of yarn for just a tiny bit. However, Kerrie from Hip Knits has come to the rescue once again and is going to send me a bit more yarn so that I can finish it. When it's finished I'm going to wrap it in the tissue and place it in the box shown in the photo to make it just that little bit more special.

My second Ruffles in double stranded Kid Silk Spray is finished.

Thanks to a suggestion from Sheila of UKHK, I learnt how to do backwards knitting so that, this time, I could avoid all the turning involved due to the short rowed formation of the twirls in Ruffles which got really tiresome last time. I also found some links to backwards knitting tutorials (both English and Continental styles) and have put these in the sidebar of Curly Whirlies blog in case they're helpful to anyone else.

I may have to knit another Ruffles now because I discovered, after reading the pattern properly, that the gauge was such that I could have knitted it singly and it would have looked all floaty and ethereal. I had it in my head that it needed to be done double stranded so it's cost an arm and leg to make, too. I've still got one more curly whirly on the go and after that I'm going to give the addiction a break for a while though I have promised Sue at the office I'll make a Floribunda for her daughter which won't take very long.

Outside is dark and cold and not very camera friendly which is why I had to take the photo of the beary things on the window sill. Inside though it's nice and cosy. DH is watching the rugby while doing cross stitch and I'm about to start on a Yuletide Gnome. I'm really looking forward to Xmas and cold winter evenings cosily ensconced with DH, both of us satisfying our creative urges to do crafty things. Think I'm mellowing with age . . . . .

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Frederick the Literate

Frederick the Literate, cross-stitched by DH, is now finished and has been mounted and framed. Hasn't he done a good job?!!

This isn't a brilliant photo because the glass reflects but you get the idea. We had it framed at King's School Shop in Canterbury pictured below. I love this 17th century building with its crooked door!

DH has now started on a set of four cross stitched Popcorn bears to go with the half knitted bear that I started some time ago. Note the word "some". Hopefully it won't attain UFO status!

Currently on the needles I have MIL's clapotis which is almost finished (photo soon) and a curly whirly in Sirdar Boa (below).

I'm almost half way through another Ruffles, too, (this time in Kid Silk Spray in the Regal colourway) . . . . .

. . . . . and, of course, I still have the Peacock's Pride scarf to finish.

The yarn for the Simply Knitting yuletide gnome arrived today from Mavis Crafts so that will be next on the list. After I've made one, I'll decide if I want to make more following which I'm determined to stop the curly whirliness for a while as I have the yarn for two projects from Louisa Harding's Design Collection.

Aside from all this playing with the pointy sticks, I've been busy with other stuff like really making a hole in my office work. I've also been enjoying watching Shakespeare Retold on BBC1? Has anyone else been following this? Last week it was MacBeth. The kingdom was represented by a restaurant; only two murders took place and the three witches were represented by dustbinmen! Then, last night, it was The Taming of the Shrew. I really enjoyed this one and thought it was a better representation of the actual feel of the play than the others. Kate was depicted as an unattractive, ill-tempered politician whose aspirations included becoming leader of the opposition. The actress (Shirley Henderson) who played Kate portrayed just the right kind of vicious hissing voice and postures. It was quite amusing!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pile o' Petals on a Plate!

Falling Petals is now finished and is shown below in her Pile o' Petals stance. Forgive me for this one but I do like novel photo shots and was inspired by Mary-Lou's photo of her CW coil dropped down into a flat circle and couldn't resist experimenting with Falling Petals

Here she is in more normal stance!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Falling Petals and Butterfly Loom

I started curly whirly no. 5 which was meant to be crocheted in Rowan Calmer and Sirdar Boa but with no definite plan in mind. In the end, though, I felt that the Boa and the Rowan Calmer didn't look quite right together so I decided, instead, to have Rowan Calmer with an edging of some Kid Silk Spray that I'd bought to make another Ruffles with. I cobbled together something along the lines of what I thought would pass muster for a petal trim and it looks like this. I've decided to call it "Falling Petals". I've still got about half of the trim to do before it's finished.

The trim is composed of groups of three petals in a cluster with five double crochet in between to separate them. A close up of one of the petal trios is below.

The now unused Sirdar Boa will be ideal to use for a scarf or bag on the Butterfly Loom that I bought recently.

I bought the medium sized one (pictured right) but they do come in different sizes depending upon what one wants to make with them. I had a practice with some old acrylic yarn (photo below). Different effects are created according to the different yarns used, how many yarns one wraps together, how many times one wraps them around the loom (thickness) and the way they are wrapped. For instance, with an eyelash yarn and a contrasting non-eyelash yarn wrapped together, you wouldn't see the flower type pattern that you can see with the sample I did because the fuzziness of the eyelash yarn would obscure it. What you would get though is a very interesting contrast between the yarns with loops of the contrasting yarn being visible through the eyelash. You can use any amount and type of yarns together and wrap as many times as you like to create different effects. With a large loom, a cushion cover can be made with ribbons woven through the base pattern which looks quite effective.

With scarves, one makes squares and then joins them together (the joins don't show). I thought it might be an idea to make some Xmas coasters and table mats using some red or green yarn together with something with a bit of sparkle in it but I've decided to make at least one of the Simply Knitting yuletide gnomes, and preferably two or three, so it's dependent on how much time I have to spare!

After one has wrapped the yarn to gain the desired effect, the yarn has to be fastened off at the back by knotting. The wrapping and the knotting both have to be done in a certain sequence. I'm looking forward to having a little play with it using non-practice yarn to see how it turns out.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Works in Progress

There's nothing to show in the way of finished objects this time - just WIPs. I started the clapotis for MIL in the Hip Knits Silk which was custom dyed to MIL's choice by Kerrie.

I've also made some progress with the Silk Tweed Kasuri Scarf and started on my fifth curly whirly.

This one's going to be crocheted in Rowan Calmer and Sirdar Boa. These two yarns were spotted in C&H yesterday and just seemed to want to be together so I couldn't really buy one without the other. I don't know exactly how this scarf is going to work out. I'm just doing it as it comes. I'm trying to get more into freeforming so when I bought the yarn, apart from the fact that I decided to buy enough to make a CW, I didn't have any detailed plan in mind. I crocheted the amount of chain that felt right and I'm just increasing as and when to get the amount of frill I want. I'm then going to do something with the Boa and possibly a little something else but not sure what yet.

Also, whilst in C&H recently, I saw the most beautiful scarf (not curly whirly) that had been made on a butterfly loom. This prompted me to buy a loom though I haven't had time to have a play with it yet.

Finally, the KnitSpeak competition poll is now open for voting so, if you haven't voted yet and can find the time to do so, please look here. The winner will receive 400g Hip Knits silk custom dyed to their choice of colours by Kerrie.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Back from Wales

It was really nice to see Lee and Amanda at the weekend in their new home near Carmarthen in South Wales.

They've been extremely busy and are rightly proud of the results having done all of the work on the flat themselves. On the right is a photo of their main bedroom.

They also have a second bedroom which they've turned into a guest bedroom mainly for when Amanda's small niece and nephew come to stay.

This has a separate study area. I really liked their slimline monitor and have decided to get one of these as it will take up less room than the bulky one I have at the moment.

Here's a couple of photos of their sitting room and some of their kitchen/diner which was put to good use by Amanda who cooked us a lovely meal on Saturday evening

It was like a complete role reversal and felt very weird but at the same time quite nice in that, when they lived near us, we always picked them up and ferried them over to our place for a meal. Well, on Saturday evening, we were completely spoiled in that we were picked up from the hotel, cooked a wonderful meal by Amanda and driven back to the hotel afterwards. We weren't even allowed to help with the washing up as, apparently, that's Lee's job!

On Sunday morning the four of us went shopping in Carmarthen so that Lee and Amanda could choose some housewarming presents from us and, in the afternoon, DH and I explored the countryside a bit. We were quite taken with these water meadows due to flooding of the River Afon Tywi.

On Sunday evening, we all had the most delicious meal in the restaurant of the Ivy Bush Royal Hotel where we were staying.

We travelled back home on Monday and DH remarked that I was much more relaxed than usual. Normally, I'm hanging on to my seat and anything else able to be gripped but I took my mind off DH's driving by sitting in the back and knitting Ruffles from Scarf Style book and reading The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. When DH asked why I was now so relaxed with his driving, I simply replied, "Because I'm now KnitYoga". He didn't reply to this but I noticed from his reflection in the mirror that he gave me a strange look!

On Monday evening, I finished Ruffles. Here it is!

Pattern: 'Ruffles' from Scarf Style Book
Yarn: Sirdar Breeze Cotton Rich DK
Needles: 4mm

I may knit Ruffles again but next time with a more yummy yarn although, having said that, there's no denying that the Sirdar Breeze is incredibly soft.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Double Edgar with a Dash of Ruffles

Well, I managed to stem the Curly Whirliness for a little while and got cracking on the Noro Iro and the Edgars for Xmas pressies. I made one smaller one because, having made a hat already with one skein of this colourway, I only had enough for the cravat sized Edgar. In the other colourway, I had two skeins so I went for the full size on that one.

Everything was going swimmingly and my addiction was being satisfied in part by the setting up of the Curly Whirlies blog where I can savour all the wonders of squiggliness that get posted by other Curly Whirliers and Curly Whirly addicts. My virtuosity knew no bounds but then Christina from UKHK posted a link to the group of an image of Ruffles from the Scarf Style book. This image looked so delectable - even more so than the one in the book - that I was compelled to start it there and then. The closest my stash would allow to what I would have liked to knit Ruffles with was some Sirdar Breeze cotton rich DK. I'd really have liked to treat Ruffles to something a bit more luxuriant but cold turkey was beginning to set in, so I cast on with the Breeze. This is how far I've got.

I think I'm about half way through. The pattern only calls for 22 stitches in all so might be ideal for those who have been put off knitting the Curly Whirlies sideways by the amount of stitches one can end up with which can go into thousands if one is too rash! However, Ruffles' coil is formed by using short rows so there is a lot of turning which can become a bit tiresome after a while.

This is how the coil looks. Luckily the stitches didn't come off the needle when I did this shot! I think this could end up being potentially "twisted phone cable" type annoying. With the short row shaping and having to keep turning the work, I've already had to regularise the coil a few times as it were. Still, once it's knitted, I expect it will stay more or less as is . . . . . hopefully! Or maybe it won't matter that much anyway.

Curly Whirlies blog seems to have taken off quite well. Quite a few people seem to have caught the bug and Lixie has designed some really funky buttons for people to use in their sidebars so they can link to the site. Thank you, Lixie, you're a star! Thanks must also go to Christina who has posted loads of links to free patterns for curly scarves to UKHK (these have been placed on Curly Whirlies' sidebar) and to Chris who helped me with the html for putting the link into the button and placing it so that it didn't throw out the text in the Patterns list.

Next week I have to put all the photos entered for the KnitSpeak competition into a gallery so that the winner can be chosen. I'm not sure how this is going to happen yet. I would like to give the 400g custom dyed Hip Knits Silk to all the competitors because I like all of the photos but I don't think my bank balance will stand this. I'm hoping that I can get people to vote by leaving comments on the blog but I'll have to give it a bit more thought.

I'm looking forward to seeing my DS and DIL this weekend who've just bought their first property together. Mmm . . . . . I wonder if my DIL would like a squiggly scarf?