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Friday, October 27, 2006

Another Donation!

Here is the most recent donation for the Cancer Charities Craft Fair to be held in the Tithe Barn at Lenham on Saturday 18th November (not long now!!).

Louise, from Knitty in Pink, knitted and donated it! Isn't it lovely! It's nice and long, very soft and squishy and the corsage does make a nice finishing touch, doesn't it! Thanks again, Louise!

Talking of scarves, I finished the Mariel's Crystals scarf in the Japanese Feather stitch but now I'm in a quandary over how to block it as the label says "Dry Clean Only". The yarn is composed of pure silk and Swarovski Crystals so I'm assuming that it's something to do with the crystals. Maybe it's just the manufacturer being ultra-cautious as it's such an expensive yarn. The other thing I thought it may be to do with is the way the crystals are plied into the yarn. You have to be very careful to make sure you pick up the extra thread with the crystal on as you're knitting otherwise it would have the effect of looking as if the crystal was hanging, rather than knitted in, if you know what I mean. So, maybe if the scarf was fully immersed, this could stretch those separate strands in the plies that the crystals are on and make it look like the crystals were hanging. Here's a photo of the yarn to give you a clearer idea of what I mean.

I've pulled the plies apart a bit so you can see more clearly.

So, unless somebody has a better idea, I'm thinking of pinning it out, giving it a light spray, covering it with a towel and hoping it works.

Other than that, knitting-wise, I'm about half way through a baby jumper for our gardener's new baby son and, as he appears to be growing at a rate of knots, I'd better be getting on with it!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Very Sheepish!

Typical isn't it - you don't hear from me for ages and then two posts in two days! I just had to show you my second custom made scissors fob as I'm really chuffed with it. I've called it 'Very Sheepish' and you can see why by the photo below.

I did manage to get hold of some sheep beads but, unfortunately, they proved to be too heavy for a scissors fob. So good ole polymer clay came to the rescue and the beads were replaced by these handmade polymer clay sheep charms - nice and light! They're not 3D but they do definitely have a front . . .

. . . and a back!

The blogger who commissioned this piece wanted sheep, she likes brown and blue and she said she'd like stitchmarkers added to the ends. So, she has a scissors fob with four sheep and bead stitchmarkers and four bead stitchmarkers making eight in all! Not a bad deal, huh? The stitchmarkers are quite dainty and they'll fit up to size 4mm needles. Well, you wouldn't want great stonking things on a scissors fob, would you?

The sheep charms gave me the idea of also having some sheep needles (see my previous post) talking of which I decided that it might be a good idea for each pair of needles sold at Knitz & Glitz to come in a beaded needle keeper similar to this one.

After much frustration over finding pairs of needles and, indeed, with the wooden ones being able to know their sizes without using a needle gauge, I decided I was going to make little beaded keepers colour coded by size for all my needles! I'm now considering making packs of ten colour coded beaded needle keepers for Knitz & Glitz which will keep needles with their partners from sizes 2.75mm to 7mm and which will come with a colour coded key.

The first needles to go on sale will be the sheep ones in sizes 4mm, 5mm and 6mm. We're collecting lots of lovely Birch tomorrow so we can get started! Wish us luck! :-)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ally Pally and all That

Well, since I last posted, I've been extremely busy! When I've not been doing office work, I've been working on regular orders, a couple of custom orders for scissors fobs (one for Seahorse Claire which you can see here) and new items for Knitz & Glitz plus finishing off the last little bits of a pattern which, all being well, will appear in the March issue of Knitting magazine! What with all that and fitting in housework, cooking, etc, the last few weeks have seemed a bit like a whirlwind!

I did, however, manage to get to Ally Pally this year, not once, but twice! The first time was on the Thursday and then I went again on the Sunday.

I was relatively restrained with my purchases this year as regards quantity but I do believe I may have gone a bit overboard with the other 'q' as I decided that this year, quality would definitely overrule quantity. This only occurred to me after I espied a skein of Tilli Tomas Mariel's Crystals at Foreign Strand seductively winking at me and being all bedazzling in a Swarovski Crystal kind of way. After I'd succumbed and bought that one skein, I knew that I wasn't going to buy a whole load more yarny purchases! I couldn't wait to start knitting it and, after being told that one skein would make a scarf of reasonable length, I decided on a Japanese feather pattern and set to work.

Yes, (blushing a deep crimson red!) that is a second skein of the same you see in the photo. Problem was that the pattern I chose eats up the yarn like there's no tomorrow so it was a choice between coughing up for another skein or ripping it out and starting again in a plainer stitch. After much deliberation, I opted for the former telling myself that I've worked so hard over the last few months that I deserve a little bit of self spoiling and it will be my Xmas pressie to myself! So there! Nearly everything I knit is given away so it's only fair that, when I do get to keep something, it should be something worth keeping don't you think!?

Apart from another purchase for a gift which, therefore, needs to remain secret for the time being, the only other yarny purchase I made was this Clamshell Patchwork shawl Kit from 21st Century Yarns.

I also bought some of those gorgeous L Nichols handmade vintage glass buttons from Dixie who was there.

Mine were made by Dixie's father in the fifties. If you don't know about Lionel Nichols and his handmade buttons already, you can read all about it here. I was fascinated to learn that when, by the late sixties, buttons were no longer so 'in', Dixie's father then began to make costume jewellery for the hippy boutiques and was "a grandfather figure on the Kings Road and Carnaby Street".

When I went back to Ally Pally on Sunday, I spent most of the time in the Knit & Relax area where I said hello to Yvonne and met Wye Sue for the first time. I also met Gerard from IKnit London who had a table full of blue yarn for his Knit a River project.

I really enjoyed myself making a few squares towards the 'river' and, if you don't believe me, look at the photo here! (scroll down). The magazine in front of me in the photo is Yarn Forward (which is very good by the way) and the look of concentration on my face is because I was following one of the patterns for a Knit a River square published in the mag.

I've had lots of ideas for Knitz & Glitz over the last couple of weeks and one of them involves polymer clay, wood and a dash of rhinestones here and there!

Handmade knitting needles will be appearing in the Knitz & Glitz shop very soon. They will be available in dozens of designs including sheep, flowers, bees, frogs, seahorses, butterflies, snails, kitsch ones, bling ones with rhinestones or beads and the BIG BLING - think rhinestone encrusted. The plan is to offer them in a range of sizes and different types of wood including birch and to offer custom-made designs. So, if anyone wants a design that isn't there or wants something really personalised, they just need to use the contact link via Knitz & Glitz and their wish is our command as they say!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

OSSP Goodies and New Designs

The weekend brought lovely goodies in the post from my One Skein Secret Pal. She sent a shawl that she'd knitted in handspun, hand-dyed yarn.

She also sent me a bag that she'd made which has little pockets sewn in to hold knitting needles and both items are in my favourite colours, too!

The pal who sent these to me is Mary and she blogs here. A big thanks once again, Mary, for the wonderful gifts! Lizzy was my lovely One Skein pal recipient and she blogs here!

Still no knitting to show but more to tell about that soon! I did, however, work on a couple of new designs for Knitz & Glitz. Firstly, I was asked to design a scissors fob and, after seeing the lovely one that Mandella made, I was inspired to want to make one immediately! However, as the one I was asked to make is to be in a particular colourway and with particular charms, both of which I didn't have at the time, I thought I'd have a go with the Metallic Rain beads that I got from Earth Faire some time ago and came up with this.

I made two of these out of the beads that I had and still have enough to make another!

Lately, I think I've become much more confident with my wirework so have been able to branch out a bit in my designs. These are three of the pins I designed at the weekend. The first I called Cobalt & Crystal.

Amazingly, this one was snapped up almost as soon as I put it up for sale!

Secondly, I called this one Ice Maiden!

And, lastly, one which includes Swarovski Crystals which, because of the colour combination, I named Mochaccino and Cointreau . . .

. . . - both of which I love! Yum!!!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Still here!

Seems like long time, no blog, but I am still alive and kicking and very busy!! Knitz & Glitz has taken off really well and, along with my office work, keeps me out of mischief! Not that I would think of getting up to any mischief, of course. I've had orders, not only from the UK, but from the US, Norway, Ireland, etc, etc, and every single customer who has received items up to now has been so kind with their comments.

I have been busy on the knitting front as well and I'm dying to show you but I still can't reveal anything. Sorry - but it's secret for the moment!

What I can show you is this fab surprise package I got from my lovely friend Tina a couple of days ago.

Tina really knows what I like and that nobody can go wrong with beads, buttons and embellishments as far as I'm concerned! LOL As you can see from the photo, the package contained a butterfly embellishment (which, funnily enough, I'd been thinking of getting for some time), a beaded bookmark (not only do I like this but it's also given me the idea of making some for Knitz & Glitz) and, the piece de resistance, those fabby dabby doo buttons! I LOVE those buttons and it's going to have to be a REALLY special project to merit being adorned with those! Here's a close up so you can drool over them.

Thanks again, Tina! That package really made my day and cheered me up no end!

Next, this is just for Purlpower (and, of course, anyone else who might find it useful). Purlpower asked about the short row shaping and three needle bind off that we did at the Finishing Techniques Workshop. This is how it was done. Giving an example of a shoulder shaping starting with 27 sts and casting off nine and then another nine, what you would do is instead of casting the stitches off, work 18 sts and then wrap a stitch and turn, then purl back, then pick up the wrapped stitch and knit it with the stitch above it on the next row. Then, on your next right side row, work nine stitches and wrap the next stitch, purl back and pick up the wrapped stitch on the next row and knit with the stitch above it. If you haven't done short row wrapping before, there are loads of links showing you how to do it if you google.

With the three needle bind off, it's simple, you just keep the stitches of both shoulders live and then place the needles side by side with both wrong sides facing outwards (right sides facing each other). Then, using a third needle, cast them off together. So, just cast off as you normally would but cast the stitches of both shoulders off together. HTH

Ta-ta for now!