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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Clean Windows!

Yesterday, Bob came along and helped me to clean the windows. We just got the outsides done before it started raining and then we did the insides. It's amazing how window cleaning can become that much more bearable when you've got someone to laugh and joke with whilst you're doing them and I've now got windows that I can actually see through! LOL

He also brought me a late birthday pressie. It turned out to be a book that I already have though.

If anyone fancies this and would like to do a swap, I'm open to offers/suggestions.

The postie brought these this morning.

The Angela Wrap and Rosebud Shawl patterns from Heirloom Knitting and issue no. 1 of 'Knit Today'. Inside the 'Knit Today' magazine, there's a pattern for a cardi which I quite like but which I already have as it's in Rowan 39. There's also an article explaining very clearly a supposedly foolproof method of how to embroider knitwear using tracing paper and a template that was provided. There were very clear diagrams of the embroidery stitches, too, so this could be useful if you like the template.

Other than that there was a scarf, a crocheted coverlet, a KSH shrug, a crocheted bracelet in Twilley's Goldfingering, a Colinette top (again taken from a pattern book which some might have already - this time the Muse book), a Sirdar top in Firefly (yuk, but YMMV), groovy grapes, what looks like a very basic sock pattern, patterns for a simple kids' cardi and jumper, a felted scarf that just looks like squares of st st and garter stitch alternated, three pages of a Buyers' Guide which reviews books on one page, buttons on another and yarn on the next (multicoloured yarn this month), and a knit library which gives several charts for fair isle designs and some knitting stitches . . . oh, and a recipe - fast food for nights when you have to knit!! There was also a free Beginners' Guide to Knitting that came with it.

Having understood that this was meant to be aimed at more experienced knitters, I'm disappointed. I don't think it fills the gap in the market that could be taken up by an Interweave Knits equivalent and, if anything, is probably pitched just a tad higher than Simply Knitting but I don't think there's a great deal of difference. Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against this type of knitting magazine and I buy Simply Knitting every month. It's just that I'd been looking forward to what I thought was going to be a knitting magazine aimed at more experienced knitters. So, I'm now eagerly awaiting the launch of Yarn Forward in the hope that that one may fill the gap.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Rainbows, Arches & Columns

The generosity of knitters seems to know no bounds! Today, yet another package was delivered by our postie for the charity Craft Fair. This time it was from Ceris at UKnitty who sent three gorgeous rainbow curly whirly scarves and corsages.

Don't they make a beautifully colourful display! Thank you so much, Ceris! Our stall in November is going to be absolutely brimming with knitterly goodness, and it's all down to you knitters and your generosity and selflessness. Here's another shot, closer up, so that you can see the corsages better. It really was like discovering a rainbow when I opened that package this morning, I can tell you!

Apart from my own knitted donations, I decided to have a root around in my stash of knitted items to see if there was anything there that I could add to the ever increasing cache and found a scarf that I'd knitted just over a year ago before I realised how a good blocking could improve lace. It's the arches and columns lace scarf from a free pattern at Crystal Palace Yarns knitted in Jaeger Extra Fine Merino 4ply (machine washable) in Heath together with a strand of Rowan KSH in Pearl. It was a crumpled mess when I took it out of the drawer but after being immersed in silk and wool wash and tepid water for half an hour, rinsed and wrapped in a large bath towel to absorb excess water and then blocked, this was the result.

And, just so that I get good value out of my dress form, here's the essential dress form shot. LOL

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lost Mojo!

For a while there I lost my knitting mojo and, from what I've read on other people's blogs, this seems to be a bit of an epidemic lately. I tried to analyse what it was all about as far as I was concerned and decided that there were several factors involved. These are:

(a) I've got several projects that are not far off finished but which give me about as much inspiration as the thought of taking a dip in the North Sea in the middle of December;

(b) I start something full of enthusiasm and then I experience that 'grass is always greener on the other side' syndrome when my head gets turned by something else that another knitter is working on or that I've seen in a book or whilst surfing the net, and;

(c) I've got into a bit of a rut in that I'm not stretching myself. Lately, I've not been adding to my skills but just knitting items that don't present any challenges to me.

To remedy this sad situation, I've decided to try to finish the items that are almost finished. There's one item that's really been bothering me though, which is nowhere near finished, so I've resolved at last to ditch it and use the yarn for something else. The item referred to is this one . . . . .

. . . . . and this is the reason why I'm going to ditch it.

This is Jagger from Jaeger 'Knits for Men' and a friend of ours, Bob, chose the pattern which I agreed to knit, not knowing that each diamond had to be worked separately so that the tension isn't affected. The knitting I don't mind at all but sewing up is on my list of least favourite things to do. I will knit something in its place though especially as Bob's going to help me clean the windows this week (another job I hate)!

I've also decided to challenge myself more so, on Friday, I ordered this and this from Heirloom Knitting. Yes, I seem to be okay with knitting lace and I enjoy it very much but, as far as some of the basic techniques for making shawls are concerned, e.g. provisional cast on, methods of casting off, attaching edging by knitting it on, etc, etc, I have little or no experience.

I was cheered up immensely on Saturday by the most unexpected arrival of a package from Rain containing these.

They're based on Knitty's Mrs Beetons but Rain has made several changes so that they're completely unique. I've already tried them on with my black jacket and they look fantastic. I then proceeded to do all sorts of contortions to try to photograph the result but only succeeded in dropping the camera which luckily still seems to work! I really like them and shall wear them lots. Thanks again, Rain!

I haven't got too much to show you on the knitting front although I have been knitting - LOTS! The reason I've not got much to show is that the main project I'm working on is a sort of secret project but I can show you a tiny bit of it (below) which, I'm afraid, wont really tell you a lot about the finished article.

I've also got to get on with the Fetching fingerless gloves which I'm knitting for my OSSP. I've got one done and they're a very quick knit so, hopefully, they should be finished very soon.

Recently, I received some tuition with more advanced wirework techniques. This is the state of part of our dining room table with some of the things I've been working on in various stages of completion.

It's been really interesting to learn new techniques including making my own chain and jump rings as well as making various shapes with my wire jig. The two items at the back are still not completely finished but the red necklace is a mixed media necklace; one side being composed of chain connected to beads and the other being crocheted wire with beads. So, there are no findings - everything was made from scratch just utilising wire - which makes me feel relatively accomplished. :-) The choker in front of the necklace is crocheted and is similar to one I did previously except this one is made of purple wire. The earrings at the right will probably seem familiar to some of you but they've actually been redone now that I'm better at the techniques and I'm much happier with the result.

I learned also to aim for the slightly unconventional in utilising items around the house for jewellery making such as the glass nuggets from my sideboard.

If you look carefully, you'll see that the central one has been turned into something which could be used as a bead by my crocheting around it with wire.

Finally, here's the start of a necklace that I'm making using the wire jig. This is only the central part and the wraps haven't been finished off properly yet but it will give you some idea of how it's going to look.

I've now made all of the shapes and just have to assemble the whole. Basically, it'll be composed of the zigzag wire shapes interspersed with different shapes and sizes of beads in purple tones and, hanging from the middle will be three zigzag wire shapes (one long and two shorter ones either side) with vertically hung beads.

As regards my eShop, it's still being worked on thanks to the help of several kind people. Thank goodness for the generosity of friends with big hearts!

To finish, here are a couple of photos taken at our last Maidstone Knitters' meeting where there were twelve of us including, as I mentioned in my previous post, Katie, (far end of table) from Knit Lincs.

We also met Susie (far end in photo below) who's doing a textiles degree and whose dissertation is focused on knitting.

She's trying to attend as many knitting groups as she can for her research and brought along a questionnaire for us to fill in so that she can gather information to add to what she already has. All of the information will eventually be analysed and it'll be really interesting to see what conclusions she reaches!

EDIT: On Saturday, I had to borrow Chris's tool sharpening stone to use as an anvil so that I could harden my wire shapes with a hammer. He did try to buy an anvil for me on Sunday from B&Q but they didn't stock them! Does anyone know if it's possible to get an anvil from any of the other DIY chains?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

More Craft Fair Goodies

On Saturday morning the postman brought more goodies for the November Cancer Charities Craft Fair, this time from Louise. In the package there was a really nice loopy boa . . .

. . . and this wonderful Heart Scarf made in Patons Jet (wool/alpaca).

Thanks again, Louise, they're really lovely!

I was also given another moebius by Mary-Lou at Maidstone Knitters' meeting.

It was a very good meeting with twelve people present, one of whom was Katie who organises Knits Lincs, and came along to our group on Saturday as she was in the area. I'll post more later as I'm about to go back to bed due to not feeling one hundred percent. Yesterday evening I started feeling very shivery with a headache that nothing could shift as well as nausea. I feel a bit better today but still feel very tired and weak so catch you later.

EDIT: Thanks for all the well wishes. I feel much perkier today (Monday). Just realised that there were a couple of questions asked in the comments to the last post which I haven't answered. Sorry! Anyway, Piglottie asked if the Fetching fingerless gloves were a bit on the small side. I don't think they are but they might seem to be because the cables pull them in. I have an average sized hand and they fit fine and aren't tight at all. HTH Cherry asked if I'd got into the beading magazines yet. Not half! Bead & Button mag now finds its way into my bag as soon as it hits the shelves (after paying for it, of course!) LOL

Friday, August 11, 2006

Not Depending on Blogger

Okay, I've solved the problem with the photo posting at least temporarily. I didn't like using Flickr to upload photos because the small size that Flickr automatically creates is too small for my liking and the next size up (medium) is so large that it throws the sidebar out. I like to use the large size that Blogger provides so would like something roughly equivalent from Flickr.


So, what I've done is grab hold of the html of the photo above from Flickr but changed the sizing by substituting what was there for width 375 and height 250 which seems to work fairly well. Okay, if it was a portrait photo as opposed to landscape, the width and height would be transposed but I'm going to try it for a while and at least it's an option in future when Blogger decides to go on strike.

For those who have a Flickr account and also aren't happy with the small size photo created by Flickr but aren't sure how to do this, this is what to do. Just click on the photo in Flickr that you want to blog and you'll see 'available sizes' above it. Click on small or medium (doesn't matter which as you're going to change the size). Scroll down and copy the html, then go to Blogger and paste the html into your post. After that you just need to change the height and width within the html to those that you prefer. Some people use the 'Blog This' button but I'm not sure you can change the sizing this way. I'm also not exactly sure how to centre the photo rather than have it left aligned as it is now.

So, after all that, I'd better explain what's in the photo. There are the Fetching fingerless gloves in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran which I'm knitting for my One Skein Secret Pal and a couple of pieces of handmade jewellery I've made for myself. The necklace is just strung on nylon thread and the bracelet is crocheted with wire and beads added.

EDIT: Solved the problem of getting the photos centred. Just need to add: style="display: block; text-align: center" to the html text after img.

Pin Photo for Knitnana

Blogger is just being so mean! Is anyone else having trouble uploading photos to their blogs? I patiently wait for my photos to be uploaded and, then the button comes up to say its done but, when I click on the button, there's nothing there! This has happened before but it seems to be getting worse lately, happening more often and lasting for longer before it's fixed. Anyway, after many attempts and lots of under my breath mutterings and, eventually, nasty words out loud, I got the photo of the pin uploaded. So, here you go, Knitnana! Hope you like it!

I still want to show you a couple of other things but I'm not sitting here for ages again trying to negotiate with a temperamental Blogger. So, just because I've seen this on a few other people's blogs but, mostly, to show Blogger that I can get html for graphics without Blogger's help (hah, go eat your heart out, Blogger!), I thought for once I'd be a bit of a sheep and post which ice cream I'm most compatible with!

You Are Rocky Road Ice Cream

Unpredictable and wild, you know how to have fun.
You're also a trendsetter who takes risks with new things.
You know about the latest and greatest - and may have invented it!

You are most compatible with vanilla ice cream.

This really made me laugh! If I'm supposed to be all these things, how come I'm most compatible with the plainest and tamest ice cream!??

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Thanks for all the info on the new magazines. Looking forward very much to the new ones but, knowing me, I'll probably end up buying all four UK magazines anyway just in case I miss something. LOL

Well, I had a few things to show you but Blogger wasn't being very friendly again and I had to really beg for just one itsy bitsy little picture!

Rapunzel from Patons 'A Princess Tale' booklet
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!" I used to love that fairy tale as a child. Just the thought of a girl with such long hair that it could reach right down to the ground from the tower was fascinating. I must admit though I did wonder how painful it would be for Rapunzel to have someone clutching on to her tresses as they climbed up and how strong the roots of her hair would need to be to actually withstand the stress. In reality, the situation would probably be much less romantic, the end result being a bald Rapunzel with hair pulled out at the roots and the climber with a broken neck on the ground below still clutching her locks and bits of scalp. Yuk. Anyway, yes, the Rapunzel baby cardi is finished! Heidi, the details of the pattern are above.

Knitnana was looking forward to a sneak preview of her prize for my first Blogiversary competition but I wasn't able to upload the photo. Sorry! I'll try again later. She chose a shawl pin in turquoise and browns which is now winging its way across the pond.

As for my eShop, Cherry, it turns out it was at least workable after all. A big thanks to Sharon from Maidstone Knitters who has been an absolute star and has helped me so much in pulling it together. Although it's true that the template is unable to be customised, it wasn't quite true that I couldn't have a shop name displayed. We're still working on it but it should be up and running in about a week. The templates available are not very prepossessing and, believe it or not, of the garish colours available, yellow was the least evil!

'Til later . . . . .

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


That's my favourite non-word when things aren't crystal clear (confusabled). That's what I am just now because I saw this link on Katie's blog that details a new UK magazine called 'Yarn Forward', which will be targeted towards more advanced knitters, and which is due to be launched on 1st October. Why am I confused or confusabled?!! Well, because according to Angel Yarns forum, there was a new UK magazine called 'Knit Today' due to be launched on 24th August also to be aimed at more advanced knitters. Now the big question is are they one and the same magazine and the confusion has been brought about due to a different choice of name and launch date or are we, in the UK, actually going to have two knitting magazines aimed at advanced knitters and, if so, will our yearning for all things knitterly plus our pockets be able to withstand such temptations or will we go into complete overload mode? Whatever . . . I think it'll be fantastic to have even one UK knitting magazine equivalent to Interweave Knits, etc, (hopefully) but two! . . . well, a lot of us will feel we're in knitters' heaven I should think . . . mmmmmmm . . .

Illegitimi non carborundum . . .

. . . .otherwise known as don't let the b......s grind you down! Thanks for all the advice and commiserations on my 1and1 experience both via comments to my blog entry and email. It's really great to be part of such a supportive community. I am pursuing various avenues including our credit card company to try to get out of this unfair agreement. Can an eShop which is incapable of even displaying a logo or company name be "fit for purpose"? It's really put me off and knocked my confidence back big time but I'm not going to let it beat me.

I'm already starting to get enquiries about the handmade items in my gallery which can be found here and I've sold my first set of stitchmarkers! Knitnana gave me a great idea. Thanks, knitnana! You see, she really loved the colours of the choc ice choker but doesn't do chokers, hence I'll be custom making the shawl pin that she chose as her prize for winning my Blogiversary competition in these colours. So, if you don't see what you want, colourwise or stylewise, just contact me and I'll see what I can do.

I will look into other ways of getting my shop up and running but, in the meantime, if anyone is interested in any of the jewellery or stitchmarkers, please get in touch with me. Over the next week, I'll be adding quite a few more items including adding to the range of stitchmarkers which can be ordered in any size required right up to 15mm.

Can I pick your brains? One suggestion was that I could start a blog just to showcase my items and add a price and Paypal link for each one of them. I could then put a link in the sidebar of this blog to "my shop" blog. At least it would be a temporary solution. Is this a good idea? Can anyone think of any reasons why this shouldn't work in the short term?

Amidst all the kerfuffle, I finished the edging on the Rapunzel baby cardi.

Click on photo to enlarge

The ribbon for slotting through the eyelets and the buttons have been bought and it now just needs sewing up and a final blocking.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Winner and my 1and1 Experience

Well the winner of my Blogiversary draw which DH picked out of the hat last night is Knitnana. Congratulations, Knitnana! Please take a look at my Jewellery and Stitchmarkers Gallery here and email me to let me know which item you'd like and your address. My contact details are in my Blogger Profile.

As regards my eShop, I'm not having such a good time. On a recommendation I signed up with 1and1. I signed up for a year's contract and paid the first six months up front on the understanding (or so I thought) that a 60 day money back guarantee applied in case of non-satisfaction. That was on 22nd July (ten days ago). It wasn't until yesterday evening that I really got a chance to sit down and look at it to find that it was absolutely no use to me as a website at all. It turns out, according to the person I spoke to on Technical Help, that the £9.99 a month package doesn't even allow you to do the most basic customisation of your template such as having your company name on your website. Doh! Even if I paid a website designer, I was told, they wouldn't be able to add a logo or anything to the site but, if I paid an extra £30 a month, this would be possible! I certainly couldn't afford to pay out £39.99 a month for a tiny little enterprise such as mine so that's out.

To add insult to injury, I was then told I wasn't able to claim back any refund whatsoever as I had apparently clicked on the box that stated I would like to have the free Photo Book and the terms and conditions to that state that opting for the "free" photo book negates the 60 day money back guarantee (I didn't notice this) which meant that I had only seven days cooling off period to claim any refund. As ten days have gone by, I'm now left with paying £9.99 a month plus VAT for a site which is worse than useless and which I will never use. I haven't taken advantage of the "free" photo book either as I don't even really know what it is but I thought as it said it was free, I might as well go for it. So, it's back to the drawing board with the eShop and goodbye to the £79.21 I've already paid 1and1 and also the next six months' payment. I feel really annoyed with myself that I was caught out like this! I also found the person I spoke to at 1and1 quite rude and thought their statement that "it's your own fault if you couldn't be bothered to read the terms and conditions" was slightly less than diplomatic. So, poo to 1and1 is what I say!

Quite a few Rowan members have been discussing the new Rowan magazine and I couldn't comment as I hadn't had mine but, on a more positive note, it finally arrived today.

It must be one of those weeks . . . . .