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Monday, September 25, 2006

Sunday's Sky & Introducing Knitters' Row Counter Necklaces

I just had to show you the sky looking to the west of our property yesterday evening!

Doesn't it look dramatic!

On Saturday I attended a Finishing Techniques Workshop at Canterbury C&H Fabrics taken by Jane Clarke which was extremely useful. One of the topics covered was using short row shaping and the three needle bind off for shoulder shaping to avoid that horrid steps and stairs effect that you get when the method of casting off groups of stitches over a couple of rows is used for shoulder shaping.

I can see I'll be using this quite a lot as not only does it avoid the steps and stairs effect but the three needle bind off makes for a very neat seam without any sewing!

Other areas covered were picking up stitches around necklines, mattress stitch and making horizontal buttonholes (photo on left) which are really useful for the very large buttons that are fashionable at the moment.

Both Jane herself and the manager of C&H Fabrics bent over backwards to make sure we had a good learning experience as well as being made to feel very welcome. The manager gave us cards entitling us to 10% discount on anything purchased within the next two weeks (to be used once only). I quite liked this because, at other workshops I've attended, the 10% discount has only applied to the day of the workshop. (I did use mine on the day, however!) He gave us a pile of vouchers each, too, to buy one drink and get one free in the coffee shop which will come in very useful. So, all in all, the Canterbury C&H Fabrics' workshops get a big thumbs up from me! C & H Fabrics are also about to launch an online store so, if you're not near one, you'll now be able to order online!

After the workshop was over, we all went down to the basement where the yarn is. There's a good selection of Rowan, RYC, Jaeger, etc, and I was looking for a pattern and some yarn to knit something for our gardener's new baby son. My choice was Jimmy from the RYC Classic Babies Collection and I bought the yarn to make it with (cashsoft baby DK which is gorgeous).

Other books I bought were Modular Knitting by Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer and the Rowan Felted Collection which has patterns for the most amazing felted bags and other felted items.

What really made by day, though, was to find this wire writer which, on browsing the internet I could only find in the US. So, of course, that had to come home with me, too!

Also, over the weekend I had a thought that some people might prefer a row counter necklace rather than a bracelet so I designed one for Knitz & Glitz.

It works along exactly the same lines as the bracelet and I made it just the right length so that the beads could be moved through the ring to count the rows easily. I haven't seen any other necklaces like this despite trawling the internet, so I think Knitz & Glitz may be the first to be offering them for sale.

These Italian Charm Bracelets which seem to be 'the thing' at the moment have also found their way onto the Knitz & Glitz site.

Click on photo to enlarge image

Click on photo to enlarge image

Starter bracelets are composed of multiple links which can be replaced with different charms so that the wearer can have as few or as many as they like or collect them over a period of time but the ones I've sourced for Knitz & Glitz, of course, focus on knitting related charms!

Another job accomplished over the weekend, with the help of my wonderful DH, was sorting out some packaging and labels, etc, which we've kept to a minimum. All sets of stitchmarkers come with a pretty organza bag so that they won't get lost!

A huge thanks again to all my lovely knitting friends who've promoted me on their blogs. I'm so touched by that and special thanks to dear Carrie Anne who promoted me on her podcast - BritKnitCast - which got me listening to it! I really enjoyed it and will be listening again. Carrie Anne always interviews someone on her podcast and this time it was Zoe of Hello Mango Yarn. So, if you haven't had a listen yet to BritKnitCast, I recommend you try it!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Knitters' Row Counter Bracelets

Thanks for all the comments on the shawl in my previous post!

I just wanted to let you all know that I've started a new line on Knitz & Glitz being row counter bracelets.

Anyone who's interested can check them out here. There are only a couple of designs at the moment but I'll be putting more on the site in the next week or so.

EDIT: I also managed to get some better photos of the wirework necklace I made by utilising my newly acquired 'alien' display head as a model! Check out post below if you're interested.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Swallowtail Finished and Messing About With Wire

I finished the Swallowtail Shawl from the current Interweave Knits yesterday afternoon and I'm pleased to say that, despite my worries, I didn't after all run out of the cashmere Posh Yarn! The Posh Yarn seems to have excellent yardage as this shawl and the Heartstrings Beaded Lace Scarf both took less than 50g each. The colour's not represented well in these photos. The raspberry shade is exactly like the photo in the previous post.

On Saturday, I had a go at making a couple of pieces with wire and beads (no other ingredients) which meant I had to shape all of the pieces including the spiral hook and eye on this choker type necklace which consists of a central scrolled piece, two zig zag pieces and handmade beaded chain as well as the hook and eye. I'm not happy with the mix of zig zags and scrolls though as the sharp angled lines of the zig zags, I feel, are not in harmony with the more flowing and softer lines of the centre piece. I'll probably remove the zig zags and replace them with scrolled pieces.

EDITED to replace the original very bad photo with these two photos below which show better how the choker would look when worn and which are modelled by my new 'alien' display head (teehee). I'm beginning to think the zig zags are perhaps not so bad after all.

Front view

Back view showing spiral hook and eye

I also shaped this pin (below).

Neither of the pieces are as good as I'd like them to be but I'm just honing my skills at the moment and did learn quite a lot, I think, in making them.

Friday, September 15, 2006


I started the Swallowtail Shawl from the current Interweave Knits in the raspberry pure cashmere laceweight Posh Yarn which had been destined for Sivia Harding's Victorian Shoulderette.

At the moment, it looks all bunched up as it's on straight needles. I'll always try to knit on straights rather than circulars if I can get away with it simply because, being a right needle under arm knitter, I can get on much quicker on straights.

I'm really enjoying knitting this pattern as there's a definite feeling of progression with it. There are five different charts to follow consecutively (I'm just coming to the end of the third) so you don't really get a chance to get bored. Just as you get used to one chart, you're moving onto the next. It seems a very quick knit, too, so there's the IG factor. The trickiest part has been the P5tog but I got around that by not doing the NUPP [(k1, yo, k1, yo, k1) in same stitch] too tightly and doing the purl five together by moving the five stitches onto the right hand needle and passing them over one by one. Where there's a will, there's a way usually, isn't there?

One other problem - I had thought there would be more than enough of the Posh Yarn to complete the pattern. What I'd completely forgotten is that, when Posh Yarn first launched, they were selling 50g skeins and that is what I bought? I had looked at Posh Yarn's site and calculated the yardage from the amount given for 100g. Doh! However, I'm not phased and I'm not going to send it to the frog pond. What I plan to do if I run out is to buy some more cashmere in the raspberry shade and knit the edging in that. Hopefully, then, any slight differences might not matter. Anyway, I'm so taken with the pattern, I'm planning to make more than one!

I'm very busy with work at the moment and, other than that, I've been working on more pieces for Knitz & Glitz. I've added some more stitchmarkers and am also working on several new lines as well as replenishing those that have been sold out.

Lastly, with reference to my query in the last post about the word 'cowp' meaning 'to swap', just as a matter of interest (maybe only to us northerners!), I found this report on the Durham-Tyneside Dialect Survey 2001. See, Tina, I didn't make it up! LOL

EDIT: Yay!! There was enough Posh Yarn and it's now finished (presently being blocked). Photos soon!!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Almost a Kilo of Sari Silk!

I've been acquiring stuff lately without paying for it! No, I haven't been shoplifting! One of the items was as a result of a swap (or cowp as my mam would have said - has anyone else heard of this word for swap - I think it's of northern origin?). I gave my 1000 Great Motifs book (of which I had acquired two) to Claire but the deal ended up being a swap as she sent the items below in return. Thanks again, Claire!

Two balls of lovely RYC Cashsoft 4 ply and the Seaton Collection. As Claire says, the patterns in the Seaton Collection are a bit dated but there are some amazing colour charts in there which have taken as their inspiration the likes of, for instance, woven carpets of Turkestan, mediaeval French tapestries, Italian Renaissance frescoes, Moghul embroideries, Afghani needlework, illustrations in Old English herbals and so on.

On Saturday, I was surprised to receive a parcel containing just a few grams short of a kilo of gorgeous sari silk yarn which has been most generously donated by Hipknits to the November Cancer Charities Craft Fair. Thanks once again, Kerrie, for such a kind and generous donation!

When asked, Kerrie said she didn't mind if it was knitted up for items to sell at the fair or sold as it was. I decided to knit up one of the smaller skeins to make a hat and used the free pattern on the Hipknits site. My reasoning is that I'm almost certain that not many, if any at all, people locally will have seen sari silk yarn before so it would be good for them to see how it knits up to encourage them to buy it. I thought I might also print out some of the free sari silk online patterns to take to the Craft Fair for further customer encouragement! Anyway, here's a photo of the hat.

It's knitted from the top down and the pattern says to do it on two needles (straights). Well, I decided I wanted to do it in the round and took it to Maidstone Knitters with me but found it most awkward trying to get the first row done which involved casting on eight stitches spread over relatively long DPNs and immediately increasing to 16 stitches on the first row whilst at the same time making sure it wasn't twisted. This was made extra difficult as the yarn is quite hairy so you need to really look to see what you're doing. After several attempts I gave up and decided to do it at home where I could concentrate on it better. I was glad I persevered because I love the way the colour changes have worked out in the round.

It was great to see Jan again at Maidstone Knitters after such a long time and she brought with her loads of yarn as she'd been destashing. We shared it between us but I was very good and only accepted this three balls of Patons Pablo below which I'm going to make into hats for the Charity Craft Fair.

Sue, Maidstone Knitters textiles artist 'in residence', showed us how to make one of her fantastic wire bracelets which looks like it's knitted but which is actually made by using a wire wrapping technique. I took some photos during the demo and I'll put these up on the Maidstone Knitters blog later along with instructions on how to make it. I had a go myself today but the wire I used was too thick and I need to have another go with thinner wire.

Remember the crocheted wire chokers I've been making. Below front is one in process.

Well, the medallions I've been using for these have little holes in them which are just crying out to have gems stuck in them to fill them up. However, despite searching high and low for several weeks now I've not been successful in finding the pointed back cabochons that they need. Well, it came to me today that I could use Swarovski Crystal bicones (bicones being two cones end to end as it were have two pointed ends, right?) I don't know why I didn't think of it before. I had some amethyst Swarovski Crystal bicones which were just the right size and the right colour for the purple one I'd crocheted. This is how it looks close up now it's been studded with the Swarovski Crystals.

They haven't been stuck in yet but I have the glue, etc, ready for the job and I think I'll place them in the holes with tweezers to make sure that they go in straight when I do the job properly! I've got some more Swarovski Crystals to make a beaded button loop and a matching amethyst Swarovski Crystal button is planned for fastening.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Magazine Towers!

Thanks for all the comments on my previous post and for all the kindness and help given as I was setting up my eShop. Special thanks to Sharon and Kevin for the help they gave to try to make the most of the 1and1 package; to Louise who made a clearer, sharper looking button than the one DH and I had made; to all those who've added my button to their sidebars and given me plugs on their blogs; to Ruth who emailed me with advice and allowed me to take advantage of her eShop wisdom; for general encouragement from loads of you and, last but certainly not least, to my first customers. My knitting friends are the best!

On Sunday we went to lunch with my in-laws and I acquired a new friend, this time of the beary type. As you can see, he's a gurkha bear. I'll really have to add all the latest bears to my Bears' Gallery as the bear hug (collective noun) has increased enormously since it was last updated!

It came to my attention yesterday, as I was looking for a particular magazine, just how many knitting magazines I actually buy! When they're bought one by one, or as you see them, they can accumulate very rapidly, can't they?!

Here we have the latest issues of Vogue Knitting, Sandra, Interweave Knits, Knit Today, Knitting, Simply Knitting, Knit Simple and Knit 'n' Style! Phew! If I carry on like this, I'm going to very soon get a paper hoarding problem (nightmare visions of one of those houses you see on the likes of clean 'em up and clear 'em away programmes on TV where someone has let things get so out of hand that they have papers looming like tottering towers reaching right up to the ceiling).

I've now almost completed my secret project which is just as well given there's a deadline and am looking forward to starting something new. Okay, I have the other side of the long top to knit (but it's doing nothing at all for me at the moment) and I have various other projects that just need little touches to finish them off. But, no! I think I may just start the Swallowtail Shawl from the latest copy of Interweave Knits.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Knitz & Glitz Up and Running

At last my eShop, Knitz and Glitz, is up and running. Please take a look by clicking on the button below. As you will see, I've also put the button in my sidebar!

As the 1and1 package I bought won't allow me to embed a logo, or add any graphics, I'm afraid the site itself is very basic but any feedback on the products, prices, etc, will be much appreciated!

I'm off to celebrate now with a glass of wine. Cheers!!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Hats Off to Woolly Wormhead!

This morning I received two parcels in the post. When I opened them I was astounded to find that both parcels each contained five hats from Ruth aka Woolly Wormhead.

Now, Ruth had warned me that she would be sending a few hats towards the Craft Fair in November which will be held in support of Cancer Charities so I expected two or three but TEN!!! That is just SO generous.

As you can see from the above photo, there are a good selection of different types including a jester hat and all are beautifully handmade in natural fibres. I know that probably most, if not all, of you have heard of Woolly Wormhead but, anyone who hasn't should check out her blog and her online shop. Her blog, on which she always has something interesting to say, also features quite a few of her free hat patterns. Her online shop has really cool hat patterns and some of her designs ready knitted for sale as well as her very own handspun yarn which (be warned!) is so yummy, it'll have you drooling! And those of you who do already know about her, why not go over there anyway and tell her how wonderful she is. TEN HATS . . . I still can't get over it!!! . . . . .

Friday, September 01, 2006

Loadsa Piccies!

With work, getting my eShop together and knitting, I've not had a lot of time to blog recently and have also missed visiting others' blogs but I'm going to catch up with that right now! I've lots to show this time but not all that much in the way of knitting as the main project I'm working on is secret for the time being. I finished the Fetching fingerless gloves for my one skein secret pal. They're a much nicer green than shown in the photo but I had to use a flash to take the photo as they were finished at night and I wanted to give them to DH the following morning to post.

I also made my pal this pin as she'd knitted a bolero and couldn't find a suitable button to fasten it with.

She might not like it for the bolero, of course, but, if not, I hope she'll find another use for it.

Whilst sorting out my wardrobe the other day, I came across this cardi which I knitted back in either the late eighties or early nineties and then never wore.

I was wondering if it might look okay worn with a pin so tried it with the pin I made for my pal. Do you think it looks too dated now? I was prone to do this quite a lot - knit things and then never wear them - and I have several items in my wardrobe like this. Maybe I'll donate some of it to the November charity craft fair or maybe I'll actually wear some of it one day.

I finished one side of the Sirdar long top (one down and one to go!) . . . . .

. . . . . and have now added to my yarn collection again after a period of being very self-disciplined since my visit to Stash. I bought eight balls of Patons Spirit in Hobbycraft at £3.25 a ball and every second ball at half price.

I think the main reason I fell for it, apart from it being a bit bargainous, was the Berry colourway. I'm not sure what to do with it yet. I didn't like any of the Patons patterns for it so I think I'll have a go at designing something with it. Hobbycraft also had R2 Rag, Paper, Braid and Fuzzi Felt all at 99p a ball!

Lee and Amanda (DS and DIL) came to stay over the bank holiday and I was in my element because Amanda wanted to learn to knit. She almost completed a pair of wristwarmers over the weekend and was so enthusiastic she actually took her knitting to bed with her "to do a few more rows"! At Hobbycraft, I bought her some more yarn to make more wristwarmers, a row counter, some knitting needles and Alison Dupernex's Beginners' Guide to Knitting. I'd already bought her the first copy of Knit Today magazine with the free mini version of this book so let no-one say I didn't encourage her! LOL

I treated myself to one of those cool S.T.A.M.P.S. watches from the Pink Palace.

They're the latest thing and, basically, you can stick them anywhere like a stamp and then unstick them to stick them somewhere else such as in the shower, on your desk, etc. You can also just buy a strap of your choice and stick it on that or a necklace to stick it on and they come in a neat little case with two sticky patches. There are loads of different designs to choose from for the 'stamp' face and I'm thinking of stocking them in my eShop. Here's a close up of the 'stamp' I chose . . . . .

. . . . . and, as a taster, here are some of the stitchmarkers and pins that I've been making for sale. If you like, you can click on any of the photos to enlarge.

'Pink Icing on the Cake' and 'Purple Helix' stitchmarkers.

'Lucky Ladybird' Lampwork and Clapotis stitchmarkers (a set of eighteen).

'Hearts of Gold' Stitchmarkers and 'Flower Power' Scarf/Shawl Pin.