Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Monkey swap 3 questionnaire

Monkey Sock Swap THREE Questionnaire

The basics:

Do you consider yourself a beginning sock knitter, an intermediate, or have you been doing this so long you could probably knit a pair in your sleep?
Beginner – have just finished my first pair (and am very pleased with them)

The measurements:

Shoe Size: UK 4 (Europe 37, US 6.5)
Foot circumference: 8 inches
Foot length: 9 inches

Yarn Preferences:

What colors do you love?
Blues, greens, “colours from nature”

Do you prefer solids or variegated?
Solids with a textured pattern, variegated for plain socks

Do you prefer wool, cotton or acrylic yarn?
Wool or cotton

What colors would you never wear?

What are your favorite brands of yarn?
I don’t have a favourite brand as such, I tend to prefer unusual, locally produced / spun / dyed yarns – things that I can’t buy in John Lewis (big department store).

Are there any new brands you would like to try?
I was interested to read about the new yarns with unusual components, for example, I’m knitting a scarf with soy bean protein in it, Bamboo is great for everything – yarn, needles, socks, chopping boards, dishcloths, floorboards … and I love the idea of Seacell (yarn from seaweed – ha!)

Cookie A. Patterns:

Which of her patterns have you already knit?

Which pattern(s) would you like to knit and don’t already own?
Rhiannon is lovely, but I love any sock pattern with cabling.

Other pertinent information:

Would you be willing to have an international Monkey Pal or do you prefer one in the US?
I’m in the UK, so don’t mind, although for swapping interesting things, a pal abroad would be good.

Do you have any allergies?
Nuts, but that’s not very relevant for sock knitting!

Will your knitting be exposed to smoke or animals?
I have 2 cats, who will try to get their paws on my socks, but I’ll do my best …

Are you on Ravelry yet? If you don’t mind having new friends, what is your Ravelry name?
Not yet, only 4000 people in front of me though …

Thursday, 23 August 2007


I'm posting this early as on the 25th I'll be in York, celebrating my birthday and trying not to fall into craft shops with my friends.

Random Applique and friend have challenged us to a blogging game of scattergories. This weeks challenge is brought to you by the letter L and the categories Animals, Food and Sewing. Miraculously I had some of these photos already (those are the ones with the good images - its been truly awful weather here, as it often is for my birthday - sigh). I've taken the categories quite loosely to make it more fun to investigate, hope this still qualifies!

Oops, I've just reread the rules, and I'm only supposed to post one picture per category. Ah well, the more the merrier I say!

So we have from left to right, top to bottom:

  1. Lemon thyme, which went into a lovely tea of garlic (from our garden) cooked slowly in lots of olice oil until golden and soft, then add the thyme, stir into cooked pasta and add crumbled piquant goats cheese - yum!
  2. Lemongrass - you can't see, but this is a packet of seeds, as I'm expanding my culinary horticultural experience - so it will be food in a few months time!
  3. Leeks - our first leeks looked like grass for many months, but turned out delicious, particularly shredded and fried with cooked potatoes, shredded sprouts, garlic and cubes of bacon
  4. A lorikeet, at Woburn safari park. Took a liking to husband's beard. I volunteered to be photographer rather than cup holder - phew!
  5. Lionel, the leopard. Nuff said.
  6. A Loghtan sheep (I think). This is a rare breed from the Isle of Man, seen in Rockingham Forest. The type we'd love to have on our theoretical smallholding ...
  7. Linen - waiting to be turned into number 8. This is from a shop called russell and chapple, and is gorgeous heavyweight linen, just dying to be turned into a hanging. It was pretty expensive, at £20 a metre, but as it's theatrical fabric it is over 2 metres wide, which means as long as you don't mind the herringbone going the wrong way it will make a perfect Tree of Life hanging for the firebreast
  8. My first crewelwork hanging (on linen). I love the simplicity of the stitches, combined with the medieval earthy colours.
  9. Leftovers (yarnwise) waiting for something exciting to happen to them. I wonder if it will?

On the needles

Well, the last proper post was rather vague and waffly, so I shall try to be more concrete with this one. I thought I'd better consolidate my 'on the needles' list, partly cos I don't actually have one, and partly cos it should jolt me into action to actually finish some of these d**nable things!

So, on various needles at the moment are the following:

Breeze socks from Knitty.com. I've finished the first and have just turned the heel and picked up the stitches on the second, so just the 24 row lace/cable pattern repeats to manage and I'm done! This is my second attempt at socks, the first being abandoned due to sheer boredom and dispiriting holes round the heel. This pattern is much more exciting, and fits quite nicely, although next time I won't make these socks in a patterned yarn, so that the cable/lace pattern shows up better.

  • Update - see 'doh!' post below - sigh

  • FireBrunette's Candle Flame scarf , which is another 2nd attempt. This new scarf is loverly indeed, and much kinder on my loose/tight knitting (practice practice practice).

  • Another Knitty knit, this time mittens for mother. After my impulsive purchase of 6 skeins of Rowan Tapestry (it was the Soy Bean Protein, it drew me in), with the intention of knitting a nice wide scarf with a pattern, I realised that the wool was too hairy to make a pattern stand out, so I decided on a simpler scarf, which uses less wool, and leaves me free to make these Knucks mittens, and later a hat when she tells me how big her head is (v large apparently, but we used to take the same size riding helmet so I take that as an insult). These mittens were so quick - I started them on friday night and have nearly finished the 2nd one (it's monday)
    Finished! As of yesterday! Hooray!

    And here's the scarf, which is so easy to knit and very satisfying, so I'm going to add it to my stash of commuting knits This is of course separate and additional to my other stashes ...

  • Finally, a monkey, who looks rather forlorn at the moment, and not really much like a monkey, but he will I promise

  • Percent bars courtesy of Yarn Tomato btw - thank you!

    Oh, techie toys, why do you torment me?

    broken R

    Is this not very cool indeed? Courtesy of Spell with flickr

    Wednesday, 22 August 2007

    New template!


    Tuesday, 21 August 2007

    yarn over, and over, and over again


    I have just discovered to my annoyance that for the entirety of my first Breeze sock I have been yarn overing in the wrong direction. I did wonder why my nice lacey holes were not nice and lacey (or hole like) but I assumed it was a tension / yarn gauge issue. Now upon starting the new sock, I have been yarn overing and I have holes! Sigh. I guess I must have picked up some dodgy instructions about yarnovers at some point, and not paid enough attention to what I was doing when I was following the pattern.

    That'll teach me to knit on the train when I really should be napping!

    Monday, 20 August 2007

    musings of a secret pal

    I wonder when my secret pal will contact me? I am incredibly impatient i know, but I do so get excited.

    My imagination is brimming over with ideas and thoughts about what to put in my packages ...

    I think I will make them up as mini-kits, as my treatee (is that a word - the only other way of describing it would be my 'downward secret pal' which sounds wrong) says she is fairly new to knitting, and she hasn't posted a lot of things on her blog so I'm assuming she is open to anything (heh heh heh!)

    What do you think? Is this a reasonable secret pallish thing to do? So far I've been thinking sock kit, lace kit, felt kit?? with extra bits and bobs in there too of course ...

    hmm. Thinking hat on and list making coming up methinks.

    Tuesday, 14 August 2007


    No, not a word of the day unfortunately, this is apparently what I have wrong with me, although the doctor couldn't spell it. It is basically gunk in my inner ear, caused by an infection, which has completely ruined my brain's ability to detect where I am in space and time (the practical and rather comical result being that if I turn my head left I fall over).

    The good thing about this problem is that as long as I don't move too much or too quickly, I feel fine. I can't ride a bike therefore, but I can knit (and type). Hoorah! The bad thing is that it might not go away, which is a shame as I have a nice shiny bike waiting for the good weather in the shed. Ah well.

    As a consequence of aforesaid labyrinth issues, I decided to make something nice and easy and non-brain-taxing yesterday - and chose the Watch cap from the Opinionated Knitter. This uses Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Prime Rib" stitch, which creates a lovely thick stretch ribbed fabric. I knitted it on 7 1/2 mm needles, with some gorgeous space dyed Freedom Wool (which smells so sheepy - mmm) and it took less that 100g to make a warm hat with quite a big turned up brim.

    Then I tried to photograph it on my head. Bearing in mind that I can't look too far up, these were the results ...

    I think you get the gist of the gorgeousness of the hat. I was going to give it away, but given the weather today I think I might have to knit another one for the intended recipient.

    Monday, 6 August 2007

    Secret Pal 11 questionnaire

    I'm getting more and more excited about the Secret Pal exchange. Here are the answers to the questionnaire - I hope they make some degree of sense - I've added lots of links to elucidate my waffle.

    1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
    - love bamboo, alpaca, cotton, merino
    - hate scratchy acrylic, fun fur, eyelash and other fancy yarns with tickly bits.

    2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
    - needles in a pen pot (not very portable!)
    - hooks in a fabric wrap

    3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
    - started knitting on 7th june 2007
    - learnt at the Ktog knitting group - went with the intention of being the 'only crocheter in the village' and ended up being taught by the hostess, Rhona.
    - Am therefore a beginner, but very ambitious

    4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
    - yes If this doesn't work, search for "So many crafts" on amazon.co.uk wishlists

    5. What's your favorite scent?
    - cut grass, earl grey tea, hot chocolate, tomato plants in the greenhouse (don't really wear perfume)

    6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
    - yes, very.
    - chocolate, but nothing with nuts in it
    - I like childish sweets too - flying saucers, jelly babies, cola bottles, that kind of thing. And I get inexplicable cravings for Smarties quite regularly.

    7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
    - you name it, I'll give it a go.
    - my current passions are sewing (chiefly patchwork and related things), felting, and toy making (just starting out making softies)
    - I can spin, but don't get round to it as often as I would like. I have 2 fleeces under my stairs waiting for me to be organised and wash them (sigh). I will do it before the end of the summer.

    8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
    - easier to say what I don't like. I don't like dance music, heavy metal or classical piano music of the rachmaninov variety. My ipod currently has a selection ranging from Queen to Keane, from the Cranberries to the Scissor Sisters, and from the best of James Bond to KT Tunstall. Oh, and a couple of audio books (read by David Tennant - he of Doctor Who fame in case you don't know of him). Don't know if I have MP3 capacity - I have Itunes so anything is possible probably.

    9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
    - I prefer warm, natural, earthy colours.

    - I love the tones that you get in Shetland wool and those on the front of this book
    - I like brights too, but nothing too lairy. Colours from nature are good.
    - I don't like really babyish colours, pastels etc., and am not that keen on orange.
    - I really hate dark and dingy colours - colour should be cheering or calming, not depressing.

    10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
    - I have a husband and two cats, and I'm not sure which is the more trouble.
    - Neko (big cat) and Yuki (small cat) make a lot of mess, but stay away from my crafty things on pain of unspeakable things happening to them. They just gaze longingly at my knitting now!
    - We also have some frogs and newts in our pond - do they count?

    11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
    - Yes
    - Yes, but I have a big head so I am learning to knit my own
    - Yes, definitely rather than gloves (I have reynauds syndrome so mittens are better than gloves to stop my fingers falling off in the cold).
    - Not really, although I'm going to knit myself of these, which is kind of poncho-ish.

    12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
    Small things (I don't have a lot of patience), amigurumi, scarves, socks, baby booties, bags, hats etc.

    13. What are you knitting right now?
    - This scarf for my dad (trying out entrelac to hone my picking up stitches skills - which are a bit messy at the moment, but by the time I get to the other end I will be much better)
    - A funky 1970s tank top
    (a Patons pattern with a Dallas-esque model - scary!)
    - My first socks (soon to be unpicked in favour of these as I'm feeling quite brave)

    - Innocent smoothie hats

    14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

    15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
    - Haven't done much circular knitting, so straight needles are the way to go. Love knitting a cylinder with 4 dpns - such fun!
    - Bamboo needles are the best, although I have some lovely secondhand anodised aluminium ones that come a close second.

    16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
    - no, but I wound my first centre pull ball the other day on my thumb using this technique and as my thumb was rather numb by the end of it, I think that a yarn winder might go on my wish list

    17. How old is your oldest UFO?
    - ancient - from the days when I was starting out with crochet (many moons ago). I think it was going to be a bag, using yarn unwound from a nasty cardigan, but I never got past the side gussets. Ah well.

    18. What is your favorite holiday?
    Any of the times I have spent in Italy.

    19. Is there anything that you collect?
    - Stuff, specifically yarn and fabric related stuff.
    - I love antique sewing bits and bobs, as you get some really nifty gadgets and unusual colours/fibres.
    - Studio pottery (1950's-1970's art pottery, difficult to describe - will try to post some photos later)

    20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

    books - Any Japanese craft books - if only there was a Kinokuniya in the UK (I'd be a lot poorer!). I also love anything Scandinavian - with their simple design styles that'll never date. I'd love to get my paws on the Vogue Stitchionary books. I'm a librarian, so my list of wanted books is fairly endless. I restrict myself to one page at a time on my amazon wish list, but it's sooo hard ...

    yarns - unusual, handspun/dyed yarn in natural fibres, any of the Habu or Noro yarns (expensive tastes, I know), handmaiden (love the idea of yarn made from seaweed), anything from Garnstudio (particularly love the colours of their cotton yarns), Shokay yak down (gorgeous colours)

    patterns - anything by Elizabeth Zimmermann - I've got the opinionated knitter, am working on my second baby surprise jacket, and it has left me wanting more ...

    needles - I covet the glass needles I've seen around but I'm not sure where to get them. Would love some more wooden needles to start replacing the charity shop set I have at the moment. Adore any of the Clover gadgetry, does a knitting nelly count?

    I don't have any subscriptions, but I love the Interweave crochet and knit magazines

    21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
    - My husband has requested a Gansey for his birthday / christmas / wedding anniversary (depending on when I get round to it). So I have to learn how to knit a sweater, and the complicated cabling and patternign that goes on in such a thing.
    - Oh, and the I-cord cast off - I saw it on a lovely EZ baby bonnet (with a heart shape as the base - v cute indeed)

    22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
    Working on my first pair as we speak. I'm a UK size 4 shoe.

    23. When is your birthday?
    24th August (Hooray!)

    24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?
    not yet (sigh). Only 6404 people in front of me though!

    Christmas in August

    We went over to St Albans on saturday, and I managed to persuade husband that it would be a good idea to walk out to a fabric/knitting shop in the suburbs - Fashion n Fabrics. I did spend some considerable time in hi-fi shops to compensate for the long walk and dreary session in the shop though (I'm not entirely heartless).

    I was absolutely amazed at the number of patchwork fabrics they had, all at reasonable prices, and I managed to get all the Christmas fabrics I needed for present making.

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    It was slightly odd to be buying snowflake fabric on the hottest day of the year, but I'm glad that I am at least trying to be organised this year.

    It was the kind of shop that sells all those little things that you have either been looking for for years but can never find, or never realised that you needed. So I also got 50 embroidery spools, which will go a small distance to organising this little lot. Note - if anyone else makes the journey to St Albans, which I highly recommend, it is useful to note that the shop doesn't take cards. Serendipitously, I had written a cheque that very morning to Jamieson & Smith for their shade cards, and had for some reason shoved my cheque book in my rucksack - phew! Of course, then I botched up writing the cheque as I haven't written one for at least a year, but the ladies in the shop were very nice about it!

    Autumnal shades in the sunshine

    Behold these lovely yarns on the hottest day of the year (so far). The greens and greys are Sirdar Sublime Merino (mmmmm), the pale green is Sirdar Baby Bamboo, then there is Twilleys Freedom Spirit in a shade called Air, and Twilleys Freedom Wool in funky purples and greens. Here are their intended applications - can you match yarn to project???

    • Entrelac scarf
    • Hat for husband
    • Felted hat for mother
    • Baby surprise jacket

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    Thursday, 2 August 2007

    My colours

    I've just been playing with this palette generator - you upload a photo and it returns a beautiful coordinated palette of colours for you.

    These are the colours it generated from my profile photo: (scroll down, there seems to be an unusual gap here ...)

    lovely aren't they. I can see this is going to be a fun new toy!

    Blog review #3

    This is a knitting blog I adore. In fact, I don't think I have seen anything on Saartje Knits that I don't love! Saartje lives in the Netherlands, and writes in English, although I should be trying to read the Dutch bits too as I am currently in charge of cataloguing Dutch books at work.

    Anyway, the blogs details all the gorgeous things Saartje makes, and includes some free patterns. I knitted Saartje's booties (pdf file) a little while ago, and they came out just perfect, and I am off to buy some Noro Kureyon to make this hat for my mum's birthday soon

    • Reasons to visit this blog: Classic designs in stunning colours and yarns. Patterns.
    • Things to see: This page of finished things I really must sort out some better photography equipment - makes my photos look dire :-(
    • Favourite post at the moment: Glove knitting (24 July 2007) - showing an absolutely beautiful entrelac cuff on a glove - I've never heard of this technique but it looks gorgeous and textural. Gloves are going on my to-do list

    Secret Pal 11

    Hooray! I've just got my confirmation email from the Secret Pal people. I am very very excited about this, both receiving surprise packages, and going shopping for treats for my spoilee. In fact, I think that I'm more looking forward to the second aspect, particularly with Christmas coming up (yes, the fabrics are in the shops now!)

    This should also force me to keep up to date with my blog, as it is one of the requirements of the exchange. Not that I don't want to, I just need a bit of a push now and then.

    Wednesday, 1 August 2007

    Small hats, small coats, small everything ...

    Well, once again I have been delayed in posting, this time by the insistence of a friend that we all go out for a meal together last night. Being forcefed calzone and zabaglione - what a trial!

    Anyway, on to the myriad crafty things I have been up to recently.

    Up till recently, my craft space has consisted of a cupboard and an old bureau in the spare room. The bureau didn't open out far enough to put anything bigger than A4 on it, and wasn't strong enough for my sewing machine (which spent its working life on the floor), and the storage space - well, don't get me started ...

    So a couple of weeks ago, I hit upon a cunning plan. I persuaded my dear husband that the bureau would be much better placed in the library, where it could house the laptop and modem and look a lot nicer than the large melamine ikea table we had in there already. Of course, we'd then have to find something to do with the table ... can you see where I'm going yet?

    So now, after much planning, painting, drilling of holes (it's a chimney breast so we kept hitting stone lintel - I have much filling and repainting to do - sigh), organising and reorganising, my "craft room", which used to look like this:

    desk before

    now looks like this:
    desk now
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    I have lots of drawers on the right for all my paper-related crafty things, boxes above for my fabric, a linen-basket under the desk in which shall live my yarn (until deemed pretty enough for display in my new display thing - more in a later post when I've photographed it - suffice to say I am turning irredeemably girly), a board for inspirational/unfinished items, and a plinth on the left for my sewing machine. Bless Ikea! I'm feeling more creative already!

    Other craft news is mostly knitting related, as that is my latest fad. I've made a start on some hats for the innocent smoothie people who put them on the top of their drinks bottles and give 50p to age concern for each one sold. They are dead easy to make, and may make a small dent in my yarn mountain. Some require bobbles, and I have rediscovered the lost art of making pom poms, which pleases me no end.

    smoothie hatsfavourite smoothie hat so far

    and finally, possibly the most exciting news. After reading all about her work on the web (and becoming a little obsessed, it has to be said, I was inspired by this picture on Brooklyn Tweed's blog to overcome my miserly nature and buy the book to get the pattern. And lo, the postman did provide, and he provided mightily:

    opinionated knitter book

    and out of the book, came forth marvellousness ...

    baby surprise jacket undone
    jellyfish? terrible mistake??

    but no!, it magically turns into this

    baby surprise jacket - surprise!

    This is made in nasty cheap wool, but now I know I am capable of such wonderful things, I'm straight off down to Stash yarns asap to stock up and start making some of these (hope it's cold in york this winter otherwise the recipient is going to be a little warm!)