Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Happy Easter Bunny :)

I'm a very happy Easter Bunny as I've finished my Easter socks - Yay!!

Here they are and they fit just perfick . . .

These were a joy to knit - very straightforward pattern.  The self striping yarn does all the work for you.  I decided not to try and make them match exactly as I thought it would be fun to see how the colours worked on the second sock - if you look closely you can see the difference - subtle, eh!?:)

I love the flea stitch pattern on the sole too - very toasty!

It took me far longer to complete the second sock as I decided to take a leisurely pace and enjoy my Easter Hols with my boys, which I did! :) :)

We had some lovely sunny (but windy!) weather here in the Hebrides and I enjoyed a plod or two out the moor track beside our home.  Everything went at a very leisurely pace - no work or school deadlines or timescales to meet - just nice relaxed mealtimes, some homemade muffins here and there - I enjoyed my 'staycation' on the croft very much, hehe!

Hope you had or are having a nice Easter break too . . . 

See you soon :)
Alison x

Friday, 3 April 2015

Bubbles - Circular Shawl

While I remember and before I completely immerse myself in my upcoming Easter Hols . . . the finished 'Bubbles' circular shawl.  This is an old 1950's baby shawl pattern which was great fun to knit and very absorbing (which I'm sure my family will testify to!) - it took a month to complete . . . . 

I did block the finished shawl although it's made in acrylic yarn which seemingly doesn't respond to blocking but I thought I should follow the pattern instructions anyway which was to wrap the finished shawl in a damp towel, then stretch out and pin flat to dry . . . .

I pinned it out on one of  the boys old duvet covers ( which helpfully has a square grid on it!) placed on top of the carpet in my eldest's bedroom before he came home for his Easter break (it was the only piece of  spare floor big enough in the house!).  I don't think it did any harm to block it - maybe it opened the pattern a little bit but not really very much!  It was a good experiment anyway :)

It's difficult to show the shawl in it's true beauty!, but here are some more pics anyway . . .

Sorry, my photos are dreadful!  It does have a lovely drape to it though - I knitted in 3 ply Baby yarn (Colemans Comfort I think!) on 5 mm needles.  The recommended needle size for the yarn is 3.25 mm needles so it's a good illustration how you need a considerably larger needle for knitting lace, certainly in this case.

You can see my project notes on my Ravelry page for more info and maybe even some better photos (I've no idea where I've put them now -oooops!).

Have a lovely Easter, whatever your plans are - I'm off to enjoy my week off, maybe finish that second sock - we'll see :)

Alison x

Friday, 27 March 2015

Easter Socks :)

I seem to be jumping from one project to another with great urgency at the moment - no idea why, but I can't cope without having some 'crafty/knitty' project on the go!

My 'Bubbles' shawl is all done and dusted with and I was really pleased at how it turned out (pic to follow).

The general idea was to draw things to a brief halt before the Easter Hols . . . . hmmmmm, well that was the idea anyway :)  However an old pattern jumped out from my folder, saying 'knit me, knit me!' - you know what I mean, hehe!  I was looking for a quick 'knitty' fix before eldest son comes home from Uni for the Easter break (I'll need all my time to make him some home cooked meals as an anti-dote to student fare/ready-meals!)

Circles and Spirals Socks by Mimi Kezer is such a fun pattern to knit!  There were only 9 projects attached to this pattern on Ravelry (now 10 with mine!) and I can't understand why - the photo grabbed my attention straightaway :)  

I used yarn from my stash (remember the self-striping yarn which was meant for a plain old 'vanilla' sock earlier in the year - too boring!).  I think these yarns were made for this sock pattern :) :)  The self striping effect of the contrast colour yarn gives a really clever effect of lots of of colour changes without the hard work - only two colours and it looks like twenty, whoooop!

I was a little wary of the 'flea stitch' patterning on the heels and soles but it was more straightforward than it looks and gives a lovely 'toasty' warm feel to the sock :)

The first sock came off the needles last night and I was delighted with the fit . . .

Very cute pattern and it really revived my colour stranded knitting skills - a good learning curve for colour work too.  Well done to Mimi Kezer for such a fun knit!

Now I can't decide whether to cast on the other sock straight away . . . . I probably will though :) :) :)

Cheerio an Drasda!
Alison xxx

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

A Frothy Confection . . .

I've found myself (again!) doing a body swerve and going off to embark on a new project.  The snowflakes and flowers shawl is sitting pretty for a wee bit - but I will get back to it very soon!!

For some reason or other I started looking at baby shawls - I think mostly I really wanted to use fine yarn on bigger needles and push my lace knitting a bit further.  Anyhow I saw this old Patons vintage pattern from the 1950s and thought I'd give it a bash because (a) the yarn was cheap as chips, being acrylic! (£6 to knit a huge shawl - I can never resist a bargain!!), (b) I actually own a version of this shawl as it was made by a family friend for my youngest when he was born, so I had a good reference point!!, and (c) it just seemed a big challenge and I love all that frothy Victorian style of lace - just yummy!  Seemingly the pattern is an English Victorian version of an old Shetland style of shawl (but more of that later!).

The pattern is called Bubbles - A Beautiful Circular Shawl by the way.

Here's how it started - it has a garter stitch circular panel for the middle - the yarn overs (holes) make the increase and it just grows and grows . . .

It took three days however to complete the centre part and then onto the lace border . . . 

I think this is it sort of halfway through the lace panel (its an old Shetland lace pattern called Old Shale - see I did my research, hehe!!)

Long story short - because it is a very looooooong story, I completed the centre panel and border in about two weeks (Yes, that's where I've been all this time!).  I'm now into my third week of working this shawl, the lace border is complete and I started the lace edging this weekend.  I scribbled a note to say that I estimated 3 days to do the lace edging - who am I kidding!!  Now that I'm in full swing I'm giving myself  a minimum of two weeks - there are 54 scallops . . . .

. . . and it takes me 15 minutes to do each scallop - you can do the math(s)!!!  Well, don't bother actually - it just takes a long time LOL

It's really lovely to do though and I'm particularly enjoying the lace edging - very pretty!  I sort of rushed through the body of the shawl but the edging feels like I'm just adding the finishing touches, so it's quite relaxing.

Here it is today . . . 

It's a bit 'Downton Abbey' - even although I never watched the programme but I love how it's turning out.

Yarn purists might say (and I would have probably said previously) that it's a huge amount of work using a cheap acrylic yarn but I'm using the recommended yarn and really wanted to make it as a learning process.  Just to clarify - there are no babies on the horizon in my immediate family/social circle but some day I might get called up to make a baby shawl and I'll be standing at the ready having completed my 'training' hehe :)

Talking about Shetland Lace, I grabbed myself a little bargain on Amazon and treated myself to this lovely book as I've been getting into the whole lace/shawl knitting thing and I do love traditional knitting/crafts . . . 

It's a really lovely inspiring book - well, I felt I deserved a treat after all my hard work - let's call it an early Mothers Day pressie . . . . . for me of course :)  Written by Elizabeth Lovick - another knitwear designer Giant!  (I have an ever growing list of my knitwear designer heroes!)

OK, back to knitting my lace scallops . . . only another 38 to go!!  (they actually take 12 minutes each to do - not that I'm actually timing that or anything ;-))  However, you can't actually watch TV safely while doing them, so that slows me down somewhat!

It's blowing a 'hoolie' of a gale here in the Outer Hebrides today  . . . so if I'm not back for a while I'm hanging onto a fence post or something, clinging on for dear life - oooops!

Bye for Now,
Alison xxx

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Shawl update . . . half term hols :)

We've been on our school half term break here in the Hebrides - not sure how this works elsewhere in the country but we've enjoyed it anyway!  My plans to document the making of my new shawl from start to finish are a little behind schedule but I HAVE been photographing it as I go along and hope to divulge any tips and info I've gleaned along the way.  With shawl knitting I feel like I've joined a new club in the same way as with sock-knitting, hehe - it's quite exciting :)  

So, I've started another shawl from another free Ravelry pattern which is specifically designed for shawl/lace 'newbies' so takes you from beginning to end with explanations along the way - perfick!  It's called 'Snowflakes and Flowers', by  Sandra Oakeshott - just perfect for this time of year, and it has three different lace patterns to practice your lace knitting techniques.  A lovely pattern to practice with and yet again I'm being forgiving with my errors - no big 'frogging' tantrums here!

This is the shawl after I've finished the first pattern of the  snowflakes - I'm using Drops Delight yarn which is a little similar to the Noro yarn suggested, yet another variegated yarn I had left from an abandoned crochet project. . . . 

Here's the start, nearer the cast on stage . . .

The lower edge of the picture is the cast on edge (the top of your finished shawl).  You can see there's a column of single knitted stitches down the centre.  Either side of this centre line is a repeat of the same pattern, which is gradullay increased row by row.  The pattern asks for a garter tab cast on method -  I think this is a good tutorial to follow if you get confused!.

Both patterns I've followed give instructions for one side of the shawl which gets repeated for the other side, so you have a centre panel (of one or two stitches) with the pattern repeated on either side.  Both shawls are triangular shaped and knitted from the top down.  I was very confused when I started the first one as I had no idea which part of the shawl I was knitting!

Here's a pic of the beginning of my current shawl where you can see the pattern more clearly . . .

Sorry, I'm holding it lengthwise here - just to confuse further!
You can see the centre stitch and also the edging along the top - the line of holes are created with 'yarn overs'.  This is the snowflake pattern - quite small motifs but still pretty.  I'm using a 32 inch circular needle with bamboo points (cheap and cheerful!) - size 3.5 mm.  In shawl lace knitting I think the general idea is to go approx one needle size bigger than the yarn suggests so you get a 'floaty' fabric, but it depends on what you want.  I had a few test rows and decided this needle was fine for my first attempt at a more floaty shawl - it's all a bit experimental!  (I actually thought I'd chosen a 3.75 mm needle but never mind).

By the way, I've found that having gotten used to reading knitting charts, I tend to use a mixture of both and sometimes write out pattern repeats to keep me right - this combination works quite well for me.

I've just finished the second pattern repeat which is tulips - let me tell you there are a couple of wonky tulips in this shawl 'garden', hehe but heigh ho, I'm learning so there!  Today I'll be knitting the 'flower' pattern if I feel so inclined!  (well, it is Sunday after all) :)

Anyway, all very technical information but I am getting into this 'shawl knitting' thing :)

Here's a nice pic of the moor yesterday - we had a lovely crisp sunny day - first moor plod of the year, hurray! . . . 

Yes, I do go outside occasionally!

Also I made some flapjacks yesterday just because.  They look a bit disastrous here but they tasted nice . . .

I'm off to have one right now with a nice cup of coffee :)  This recipe came from youngest's Dorling Kindersley's 'Childrens Quick and Easy Cookbook' - a much used copy!

Hope you had a nice weekend, extended or not!  I'll be back soon with more tales of the shawl - I'm taking a relaxed approach to this one as I know the 'ropes' so to speak so no frantic knitting sessions thankfully!  Perhaps an end-February finish-line??  See you soon :)

P.S.  If I make the flapjacks again I'll post the recipe - I'm thinking of adding a drizzle of chocolate on top, some dried apricots maybe - mmmmmmmmm! :)

Alison xx

Thursday, 5 February 2015

It's a shawl thing . . . .

When I'm not on my blog for an extended spell, it usually means I've got so completed obsessed with making something, I can't stop long enough to write about it!  That's sort of happened the last couple of weeks and January was such a long difficult month, financially-speaking, I just pulled down the hatches and knittted my way through the month, pretending it wasn't really happening -  it seemed to work for me :) :)

I've had a real breakthrough by learning to read lace knitting charts - well, its just opened up a whole new world of patterns to me!  It started with a pair of lace socks (more of them later), but led me on to making a lace shawl - gasp!!!  I've never had a notion to make a shawl but a funky free pattern on Ravelry has been sitting in my 'fave' list for a while.  I bashed on with this so quickly I couldn't stop to blog about it, but here it is in its full glory . . . . 

I used some yarn/wool called Aire Valley Aran Fusions from West Yorkshire Spinners - from a previously ripped out project from last Winter!  The colours are lovely though - this is Autumn Mix.  I used a 6 mm needle.

If you thought knitted lace shawls had to be floaty, intricate, flyaway things - think again!  This pattern by Sylvia Bo Bilvia is written for worsted weight (btw DK and aran) and is a fab introduction to shawl knitting.  It's got me hooked anyway :)  I've still to block this (seemingly lace shawls MUST be stretched and blocked) but I will possibly just stretch it out and spray block it with a water spritzer thingy (I found a finished kitchen cleaner spray bottle under my kitchen sink) - you've probably got one too if you look ;-)

I've started another shawl in a lighter weight yarn, so I'll try to document it as I go - it's such a lovely process to make a shawl.  There's a little bit of magic involved in it in the same way as sock knitting has - the finished piece seems to emerge triumphantly at the end!

Here's the lace sock by the way . . . 

Sorry, slightly dark pic - I told you January was grim, hehe!  A lovely leafy pattern by Stephanie Van der Linden from Around the World in Knitted Socks, a really lovely book.

It looks sort of medieval in this picture - my other half thought I was knitting a shoe!  I wasn't using the suggested yarn, but some Guernsey wool I had in my stash - I think it's still pretty though.  I'm on the second sock but the ball of wool is running out fast . . . 

Anyhoo, sorry for the absence but now that yukky January is out of the way I hope to be here a little more often :)  I've promised to document my current shawl project (another fantastic free pattern from Ravelry!) so a promise, is a promise!  It would be nice to document it from the cast-on all the way to the blocking process (which is quite new to me).  I'll try and throw in what I've learnt so far about lace shawl knitting too :)

See you soon :)
Alison x

P.S.  BTW I do have errors in my shawl but this variegated yarn is VERY forgiving - I think the errors make it more unique, haha!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Happy New Year to One and all :)

Sorry, I missed the post where I was going to give a little countdown to Christmas and wish you all festive greetings!  The countdown went at a stupendous rate, preceded by a little vist to Glasgow to catch up with family and then travel back home with my eldest son for his Uni Xmas break - proceedings gathered pace as soon as I got back and it was Christmas day before I knew it - pheeeew :)  And, as everyone knows, once you are caught up in the festivities - well, you've got to hold tight, and jump in with both feet - so we did!

Our break has been smattered with family visits, meals aplenty, long lie-ins and late nights.  I decided to take up a little knitty project at the beginning of the hols so I would come out at the other end with some sense of achievement, other than long hours spent in the kitchen, overdose of chocolates and other such festive delights, ahem . . .   

While in Glasgow I visited a little yarn shop near eldest son's student flat and picked up a couple of balls of yarn in an earthy copper blue/green shade (yes I did go to Glasgow and come back with only two balls of wool, and no other shopping - what an achievement!!)  I set to making this pattern which I'd got on Ravelry last year, and had a notion for . . . 

Really enjoying making this although I wish I'd chosen a more feminine colour (I must have been homesick for the Outer Hebrides when I purchased it in the Glasgow Yarn Shop!!).  It's my first time following a knitting chart as opposed to written instructions, so a really good learning experience too.

Here's where I'm at with it today . . . 

Clock the little lego figure at the top left of the pic - actually there's only half of him left, hehe :)

Very traditional Celtic/Hebridean/Scottish etc. - liking it a lot!  It has a 3 button fastening, so looking forward to choosing some nice buttons to complement the pattern/colour :)

We've had a very relaxing break in between dashing back and forward to Stornoway to replace food supplies!  (OK, and drink!).  The weather here has been great just up till the New Year - and now we can just curl up in front of the open coal fire for a day or two before going back to work.

We took a relaxing stroll along Gress beach on Boxing Day, that's about the sum of exercise, but it was very nice!

It was mobbed with people, haha! . . . 

We did a little beach-combing or beach-scouring . . . 

crab shell amongst the seaweed . . . 

and clock the lovely turquoise colour of the lobster pot washed up on the beach . . . 

I hope you all had a lovely festive time over the last couple of weeks.  Ours has been fab especially with eldest being home on his hols - we'll be a bit down hearted when he goes back to Glasgow next week :(  I'll have to keep going with crafty projects to cheer myself up!

Well, off to have left over fish pie from New Year's dinner - yum!  It was very nice yesterday and should be even better today :)

All the best for 2015 - let's hope it's full of health and happiness . . . . . . and creativity of course!!!

Sorry, no resoloutions yets - I've been too busy on holiday-mode, perhaps next week :)

Bliadhna Mhath Ur from the Hebrides!
Alison xxx