Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Staying within my means.

Up until very recently, I've had a tendancy to acquire yarn as the fancy took me. The odd skein here or there and the odd sweater's-worth in the sales - at the LYS, on ebay, where-ever really. With the purchase of the new house however, and its various attendant expenses, this has had to change.

This has actually been quite a useful exersize and less monotonous than I had anticipated (I had visions of me plowing through my stash mountain, until it resembled more of a hillock, knitting only patterns that leant themselves to the yarn I already had. It hasn't worked out like this at all.

In my early knitting days about three years ago, I knew little about yarn and even less about buying practical amounts. Being a good and thrifty Scottish girl, I scouted out the sales bins and picked up bits and pieces that I thought I could use... and most of it is still in my stash (or was until a few weeks ago). I ruthlessly scoured the stash for odd balls that I would never use and offered then for collection on Glasgow freecycle, (they went in a matter of minutes!). I then looked for yarn that I would never use or that was left-over from a project which was present in quantities of more than a skein and put it on my Ravelry 'swap' page. That's where things got interesting.

The lovely Britta in Odense, Denmark, had a use for all the Rowan Summer Tweed I'd stashed and never got round to using (horrible rough stuff to knit with), about 800g in total and offered to find me an equivalent quantity of sock yarn for a swap. Last week, this arrived in the post:


Regia silk 6-ply...

Arwetta sock yarn which feels absolutely beautiful...

Opal Hundertwasser sock yarn (silver spiral)...

Opal Batik...

So now I have lots of new yarn that I'll definitely use - the resident radiologist and I always need socks and I'm addicted to knitting them, my stash is looking a bit sleeker and more usable and I'm still within budget. Happy days!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008


Apologies for the picture - heavy post but they're just too pretty to miss.

These are the highlights from the Glasgow Orchid Fair that the resident radiologist took me to a couple of weekends ago at the beautifully restored Kibble Palace in the grounds of the Botanic Gardens.

Orchids are among my favourite plants, though I only have success with the phalaenopsis species at home. I bought a cymbidium at the fair a couple of years ago which looked great beside all the other specimens but was enormous when I got it home. It eventually had to go on its holidays to my mother who had more space. I have it back now (divided into two smaller plants) and am going to try to coax it into flower this summer.

This last one particularly caught my eye and I was very amused when I saw it's name - Phalaenopsis 'Little Mary' !

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Saartje's Bootees

It's been another busy week at work, but we've managed to stay pretty productive at home too. The house is slowly transforming into something we want to live in and I'm starting to plan out what we're going to do with the garden.

In advance of major landscaping - new fences, raised beds etc - I spent a bit of time weeding the drive, lawn and an existing flower bed on Sunday. Dandelions are our major problem and in two hours on Sunday morning, I removed half a wheelie-bin full of the devils. Many many thanks to Pat, a friend of ours who gave us a dandelion knife and a paving knife as part of a wedding present, they were put to good use at last and did their jobs admirably.

Knitting also happened at the weekend. I found out last week that my cousin had had a little boy (rather a surprise as I didn't know she was pregnant) so some emergency casting-on occurred. These were the result. Saartje's bootees. I knitted two pairs, the smaller size in left-over Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the Ice house colourway and the larger size in some Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.

These were an absolute blast to knit. They took about an hour per pair and are sooooo cute. They've already been blocked and are going in the post today. I think that it would be really simple to adjust the pattern to make larger sizes too - the big ones only measured 3.5 inches from toe to heel.

I also got a bit creative in the kitchen and there is now a kilogram of rhubarb and orange jam and 3 kilograms of seville orange marmalade in the larder. Yuuummmeee.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Spring socks

Spring has most definitely arrived in Glasgow. There have been a few advance signs for a month or so now - daffodils and crocuses etc, but now it's mild and sunny and I've turned the central heating off. This doesn't mean that we aren't still getting rain, hail, snow and sun all in the space of half and hour (this is Glasgow after all), but the days are brighter, it's light to well past 8pm and things look colourful again.

This change in the daylight has shifted my colour preferences from the warm reds, oranges, pinks and purples I drift towards in winter to cooler blues and greens. These preferences are perfectly summed up in my new socks....

These are my first attempt at Jaywalkers (I can't post a link I'm afraid as MagKnits has been abruptly taken off-line). I was actually very lucky to get the pattern as, though I'd had it bookmarked for ages (maybe even a couple of years), I only downloaded it a day or so before the site was taken down.

The pattern is really simple to knit and fits me very well. I can't believe how long it's taken me to get round to this pattern, I kept putting it off as I thought it looked a bit tricky, and the reality is the opposite.

The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in colourway 'Icehouse'. This is my first experience with Lorna's Laces and it's beautiful to knit with. As can be seen from the second and third photos (different sides of the same sock) the colour pooling is a bit wierd, but that's not something I worry about too much in socks (at least not enough to rip out a pattern I've been meaning to knit for ages).

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

More socks

Apologies for the break - I would promise to make an effort to blog more but I know that my work schedule, which is a bit manic at the moment, is not going to let up on me for quite a while.

Despite the crazy work hours (experiments starting at 6am and finishing at 11pm), there has been yarn use. I've finished the stealth crochet project I've been working on for several months (pictures here due to family members lurking around the blog). It was a bit of a slog and there were lots of ends to weave in but the result was worth it. Thankyou very much, Ali, for the yarn.

I've also been working my way through a pair of toe-up socks for the resident radiologist. I've wanted to try this technique for a while as it gives better control over the yarn usage - once I'm past the heel I can just keep going until I've used half the yarn and then cast off without worrying that the foot isn't going to be long enough. However, all the patterns I found on the web used a short-row heel and the resident radiologist has indicated in the past that he prefers the fit of a heel-flap. With this in mind, and given that he wears his hand-knit socks daily and gives them a pretty good hammering, I decided to reverse-engineer the top-down heel-flap pattern that I already used.

It worked out pretty well. I couldn't get my head round the figure-of-eight cast on so I used the provisional method at the toe and went from there. If anyone is particularly interested in how to make the heel-flap work from the toe-up, write me a comment and I'll go into it in more detail.

The finished sock looks pretty like all my previous ones but definitely took longer to complete (though I might get better with time). The yarn is Regia 4-fadig color in a semi-solid blue (from John Lewis) - the colour is better in the picture of the balls - and the second sock is on the home straight (past the heel and part-way up the leg).

Once the second sock is done, I might manage to pick up the gathered pullover again - which still has no arms and also needs to be shortened at the hem by a couple of inches, or i might use up the left-over 4ply from the socks and stealth crochet project to make squares for my blanket!