Wednesday, 30 December 2009

2009 Round-Up

I've been having my usual look at how 2009 has gone, knit-wise. I've added another 43 finished projects to Ravelry. These have included 10 pairs of socks, 3 adult cardigans and nine presents for babies. I've also got 8 WIPs, 226 things queued and 187 yarns stashed. Quite a few of those are 50g balls but still, that's a lot of yarn. Probably just as well I haven't been able to get to the sales at all.

My greatest triumph was definitely my Kauni which I have been wearing frequently since I finished it. The buttons were definitely a good choice.

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I learnt a huge amount from making this and loved it all.

I've also really loved my Kai Mei socks and the malabrigo they were made in.

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Even David, the anti-knitting physio, has admired these.

Up until christmas eve I would have said that back-aside, I had had a healthy year. The black dog has been kept at bay even though I changed my anti-d in the summer. Even my back - now that the sciatica is just a painful memory - is on the up. The exercises I've been given and the physio are all helping and the operation itself really couldn't have gone any better than it did. I was lucky I had the healthcare to pay for such a good surgeon.

So what does 2010 hold? For a start it will hopefully hold the completion of my physio and the return of full mobility to my leg. It should also contain some good knitting events with SkipNorth, the London one at UCL and (for others) KnitCamp in Stirling. Personally I have definitely decided against it. It's too far and too much just to get to and stay there, never mind classes or shopping. But if it is run elsewhere in 2011 or 12 maybe I'll make the trek depending on how much further south it goes.

One thing I know for certain is coming up in Feb is a Knicker Workshop at the Make Lounge as this was Pooch's christmas present for me. Expect to see some absolutely scintillating underwear being blogged about when that comes round.

Photobucket(By Stella McCartney. Pretty cool.)

Monday, 28 December 2009

Back, and 6lbs lighter

I had decided to try to drop another half a stone in 2010. I didn't think I'd be doing it in the last couple of days. And I find it hard to believe that anyone has ever visited my MIL's house and left lighter than when they arrived. I seem to have had what I can only describe as gastric flu and have barely eaten a thing since the 23rd. Rather annoying since this year saw a record haul of chocolate and I haven't been able to even think about opening any of it. I also haven't knitted a stitch since xmas day. There. Now you believe I'm ill, don't you. This was me last night on the train home. And this was before it was delayed for an hour.

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Fortunately I am feeling a bit better now. As lovely as it is to see my in-laws, it is always so much more comfortable to be ill at home and when we got back last night I nose dived straight into my bed, with my duvet, my pillows, my crocheted blanket. Mmmmmm. Nothing like it.

Before my yuck came on our little nephew, Alfie, spent the day at his grandmas with his mum and dad. He really is beautiful. Such a chubby little face! And he was wonderfully behaved the whole time. Happy to be held by different people and smiley too. Pooch was very good with him although he never looks totally at ease when holding a baby.

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I've come back to sad news - Woolly Wokshop is closing. Very sad. I've been using and recommending them for years. My final recommendation is that you get over there for a 25% off closing sale. They have denise needle sets and luxury sock wool as well as clover accessories and your more everyday things so something for everyone.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Neeeeeeoooooooowwwwwww

High speed blog post. I've been horribly busy the last week and no chance to do anything properly other than eat - so now look a bit like I've swallowed a balloon. I was in company with my mum's cat who had had food left out for her when they went away for a weekend. The neighbour was supposed to dish it out and mum had left twice as much as was usual 'just in case'. The neighbour gave the cat all of it and 'pear shaped' would be a polite comment on her shape. She's always been fairly svelte but she's in a new class in the beauty parade now.

Anyway....I am soon to be published in the online magazine SlashStroke.

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I made these pulse warmers for their second issue so I'll link here when the pattern goes up. They were very simple with a bit of intarsia but the team behind it are not familiar with knitting and so were pleasurably amazed. Apparently there was a scuffle over who got to keep them after the photoshoot, which is afterall what every knitter wants to hear about their finished objects.

I've also finished my estonian button socks.

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The yarn is by Nickerjac on Folksy (nothing at the mo but bookmark for updates) and is really glorious. I have completely failed to get a decent photo of it but I absolutely adore it. I've gone off pure wool sock yarn recently having had a few go before their time at the heels. This has just the right amount of nylon to strengthen it and I look forward to wearing these for years to come.

To finish, I leave you with the most amazing alternative-to-a-nativity I've seen this year. To be found in the lobby of the Luttrel Arms in Dunster.

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I'm off to the in-laws today and back on the 27th. May all your pies be mincey.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Christmas Spirit

I have been trying to feel a bit christmassier (is that even a word - it looks weird). So I have invested in a christmas hits album from i-tunes AND I've put the christmas tree up AND I made some decorations. When putting the tree up I came across the two sequin baubles Nic and I made last year and so I made another one this evening.


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So christmassy! I love making these. The others one I made were a tesco kit and have come out surprisingly well.


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It's all done with glue - no sewing at any point - so I'm not sure how they'll hold up but they should be fine for this year at least.

Two of them star the Pooch, who is as I type freezing his nads off in the Arctic Circle. It's not some sort of penance - it was his choice and one I gladly opted out of. Sadly Norway with 30 mins daylight per day is not turning out to be as entertaining as he hoped but on the plus side there are at least two knitting shops so hopefully father christmas will have lots to haul my way this year!

I finally met up with Nic again today and had a good catch up on news. I was sad to hear Stash has closed. We also had a good chat about forthcoming knitting festivals and holidays, including SkipNorth, mightiest of them all. She also gave me the most AMAZING christmas presents. This is the most wonderful...Meet, Penelope.


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Beeaaauuutiful! I absolutely love her. Nic made her herself. I have completely forgotten the name of the pattern designer but she is a genius. Nic also gave me this amazing Bargello book, a lucet making thingamybob and accessories and these gorgeous ceramic buttons.


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All of the things are brilliant! I am one lucky bunny.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Flickr as a Resource

I think a lot of people just use Flickr to host photos and don't realise what an amazing resource it is. If I ever had to stop knitting, embroidery would be my next thing. These are just a few of my 'favourites'. Anyone can type in 'vintage embroidery' or 'banana' or anything and find images others have done. There are also groups for sharing. I love "Hoop Love Vintage Transfers" and "Vintage Embroidery Patterns". And of course if I get the urge to do some embroidery all I need is a printer and an iron-on transfer pencil and I'm away.

Here are a few of my current faves.

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1. WB 003 d, 2. Daphne, 3. Monarch 206 - cat pattern, 4. Super sewing girl! in progress, 5. girl and duck, 6. Untitled, 7. RobotSpring, 8. Birthday Owl Fabric postcard, 9. Y-Yarn, 10. The Acorn Fairy, 11. WB 2-945 e, 12. pink on yellow splat bird

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Byrne on Health

Pooch has flu again - the third time in a year. Now Pooch takes care to exercise and eat vegetables. He drinks berocca and consumes fruit for pleasure. I, on the other hand, mainline chocolate and pepsi max like they're about to start rationing and avoid unnecessary fruit and veg unless I have a hankering for some. I have not had flu the whole year. The only real health problem I've had in the last 12 months has been my back and that couldn't have been prevented however many forests of broccolly I had consumed.

So, to summarise my conclusions on this subject:
  • The human body is a sophisticated machine. It needs gentle maintenance. Suddenly exercising, especially outside when it is cold, is not gentle. You're going to freak out your body.
  • You are self-aware. Your body sends you messages when it's hungry, thirsty, tired etc. And sometimes it tells you it needs fruit or vegetables. Forcing these things on yourself when your body isn't asking for them isn't necessary.
  • If you eat something toxic your body freaks out and tries to get rid of it. If you can consume large quantities of pepsi max and chocolate and not feel ill it's a sign it's not hurting you.


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Now while I strongly believe all these things I am also aware that I am only feeling the short-term effects of my lifestyle. It could be in a year or two's time I'll have a baby with no head or drop dead because my arteries are blocked solid. But for now...I'm not the one with flu.
Looking after Pooch has at least taken my mind off an outrage I suffered at the hands of Ellery Queen. Look at this book cover.

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If you are intending to read this book, skip over this next paragraph.
Wouldn't that cover suggest to you that the murderer is male? It uses two male pronouns. The whole point of the book is on page 177 you are challenged to solve the crime. I'd discounted the women because of the cover. And as you'll already have guessed...it was a woman.
Bah. At least Mum's cardi is continuing nicely.

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I've also started wondeirng about what knitting to take to the in-laws at xmas. Going to be lots of time for it but just not sure. I'm only knitting from stash at the moment and god knows I have enough but I just can't decide what to do.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

So in conclusion

I have come to a conclusion about several things I've been thinking about recently. Here is one.

Byrne on Infidelity

Once someone in a relationship has cheated, that relationship is over. If both parties are willing to try, and the cheater is really lucky, they can build a new relationship. But if nothing changes after the cheating it's like being diagnosed with a major disease and not seeking treatment. That relationship is inevitably going to die.

One of the both good and bad sides of being on sick leave is that you get a lot of time alone. This can be good for thinking but it can also be bad in the same way. I feel like I've had a good chance to think things through but at the same time I know my limited communication skills have got worse. I suppose this is because I've had the majority of my conversations with myself and as my sister recently said "It's ok for you, you don't care about that kind of thing." and so I've got clumsy when chatting to people about potentially sensitive topics. Plus I'm doing a lot more of that what's-the-word type of thing when talking to others. I guess my internal monologues must have only been using simplistic words.

A-n-y-w-a-y...my other conclusion concerns crushes. But I haven't thought of a concise way to explain it. And maybe I won;t since I am rapidly getting back to proper hours at the workplace of doom. I'll do 4.5 hours on 4 days next week which will include sending out exam results to 120+ people and receiving at least 20 loads of abuse and, if I'm lucky, one brief email of thanks. There's no denying working does use up way too much of my time. I don;t know how I'm going to be able to keep up my knitting output having to work all these hours. How much longer, I keep asking him, is Pooch going to take to get to a point where I can sit about at home and knit all day? Respect to feminism but let's not forget a woman's right to choose and I'm happy to choose to sit and knit full time while someone else earns my chocolate money.

Knitting output is already down as since I finished the Kauni I've only found time to make a pair of socks (xmas present so not blogged), a pair of D(uc)K Feet, a hat and finalise the design and start my Mum's cardi. The hat is something of a dilemma. Here it is.

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It's nice and everything, but I'm not sure it's suitable. You see, I got my Chief Exec in the secret santa swap. It's only a £5 one so no one's expecting gold but I'm not really sure it's him. The blue is noro iroha and the variegated is a 50/50 wool mix. The pattern is a free Brooklyn Tweed one I found on ravelry as being specifically 'for men'.

Something I'm happier about is Mum's cardi. It's already been through at least 2 abortive starts and this time I've stuck with the DROPS pattern but changed to just the one purple and added beads instead.

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I'm using the crochet bead method where you don't string them onto the yarn but add them to each stitch as you go. It's much more time consuming but looks a tonne better. Unfortunately I seem to have sustained a knitting related shoulder injury which is slowing progress but meh, what can you do. I must knit on.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

D(uc)K Feet

Duck feet booties in DK yarn. Holla.


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Yarn: 40g DK yellow. I used Patons Fairytale but anything would do.
Tension: 5 st to 1 inch in stockinette
Needle: 3.75mm circ/dpns or whatever you need to get guage.
Also need: 1 stitch marker.

I did these as magic loop but you could do 2 circs or dpns. If using dpns then will be easier to use 5 rather than 4.


  • Cast on 32st using your favourite stretchy cast on. Join to work in round and place marker to show beginning of round.
  • Knit 18 rows in 2x2 rib
Now we're going to do a short row heel over the first 16 stitches. You can change this to a different heel if you want and just pick up the instructions later on. A tutorial on a short row heel can be found here.
  • Knit to 2nd to last st, wrap and turn
  • Purl back to 2nd to last st, wrap and turn
  • K to stitch before last wrapped st, wrap and turn
  • P to stitch before last wrapped st, wrap and turn
  • Continue til 6 stitches wrapped on each side
You'll just have done your last wrap and turn on the purl side. You'll next be doing a knit row starting in the middle of the heel.
  • Knit across and knit the wraps and stitches together a la the tutorial.
  • Knit across the other 16 stitches
  • Knit across the first half of the heel - knitting the stitches and wraps together - then knit across other side of heel.
  • Place marker. This is your new beginning of the round.
So for magic loop I've now got two batches of sticthes - 16 stitches each. The first is the top of the foot and the second is the bottom. If you're using dpns you may need to do some shuffling at this point.
  • Knit 12 rounds in stockinette (knitting every row) This will give you a foot length of about 2 inches.
  • Increase round: *k1, make 1, k14, make 1, k1* twice (This is the only increase)
  • Continue over the 36 stitches you now have in stockinette until the foot measures 4 inches.
Now you need to close the 'toe' of your bootie. I turned the sock inside out and used a three needle bind off. You could also graft or crochet it closed.
Sew in ends and repeat for the other bootie.
They fit a Kermit's feet very well.



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Saturday, 28 November 2009

Knitting, only knitting.

I have....a Kauni!!!


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Those robot buttons really are the business and make it look extra special. It's been an epic journey but I am so thrilled with the result. It's definitely my finest knitting achievement to date.

I went to Greenwich today and I treated myself to a little haul from the button stand in the antique market by the Rivington. Ooooooo.


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They were between 45p and £3 per card. These were the cheapest and probably my faves.


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Beautiful pale blue with knitted texture. So twee!

I also scored some beautiful trimmings. The middle one is silk and amazingly beautiful. The one on the right is quite wide and really really lovely.


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It's all things a woman at the market has had in storage for ever since her mum did a lot of sewing and knitting. Another gem was this, still in its original packaging.


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A freebie from an ancient woman's weekly. It's for hanging a ball of yarn from your wrist. At 50p I couldn't leave it forlornly on the stall!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Back to work

My first day back at work was yesterday and it all went pretty well! I didn't manage to get much done because the boys had stuck pictures of a very hairy beer belly over just about everything on my desk and so it took a while to get around that. They'd also stuck my handset to the base of the phone and put a poster of the bionic woman up on the wall with my face on it. Bless them. I think they missed me! It was certainly nice to see them and have some human interaction again. I've promised krispy kremes for tomorrow! It looks like Team Wank are really kicking up a right royal fuss about my project and are going to open a can of whooppee at the AGM but you never know. No point worrying about it yet.

Finishing the Kauni didn't quite happen but I now only need to finish the collar and then sew down the collar steek. Then the last act will be to black and sew on the buttons. I had got some lovely vintage dark turquoise ones picked out but then when I got to work I picked up my Jimmy Beams parcel. Not only did it contain these two:


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But also this gorgeous set of buttons.


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They were crazily expensive but anyone who is married to a Pooch and loves buttons will appreciate why they had to be mine. But then I looked at them with the kauni and all of a sudden I started thinking....what if?

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See what I mean? It's tempting.

Having finished practically everything I've been left with a small pile of steek trimmings.

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They look so pretty it seems a shame to chuck them. I wondered about felting them into a ball or something but then what would I do with that?

Sunday, 22 November 2009

2 days til deadline

I wanted to get my kauni cardigan finished by the time i went back to work. Well, that is happening on tuesday and lo and behold, it's actually almost done. I finished the sleeves yesterday.

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I did them both togther in the round with steeks between them. I sewed and cut the steeks, hemmed the sleeves and sewed them into the armholes today. It's all given me a massive headache so I'm resting on my laurels and leaving the sewing down of the steeks, the button band and the collar until tomorrow. I may not meet the deadline, because it's definitely going to need blocking, but I think all the structural stuff will have been done. I haven't decided buttons yet but I am sure something in my vast collection will do the job. Here it is as it stands tonight.

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The Kauni has definitely not been a portable project so here are some jaywalkers I've been working on on-and-off for a few months now. The yarn is from The Knittery and ws a gift from a past round of secret pal. It is gorgeous - quite thick and spongy. I'm really happy with them.

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Also finished this weekend is Pooch's tea caddy. He requested one a few weeks ago and having looked at very posh or horrible options I bought a plain wooden chest on ebay and have painted it with acrylic.

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Pooch himself demanded the 'poison' drawer so freak out my sister. I've filled it with Nettle tea bags. Yuck. They taste so bad they can't possibly be good for you.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Pretzel = epic fail

In a way I'm surprised I haven't been blogging more frequently since I've certainly had more time to do my own things. But then apart from endlessly knitting the Kauni and the occasional outing I haven't really been actually doing that much. But today has been a day of high achievement, so pin back your ears.

The day started with the eternal Kauni. Despite having spent hours on it in the last week I still seem to be only just up to the elbows which is where I am sure I was a week ago. Eventually I'll finish those sleeves - but it's going to be hard to stick with it. Getting a bit samey now.

After an hour of Kauni and a Mission Impossible I moved to making pretzels. This is part of my bread fetish which I've developed recently. So far it's been going pretty well but I cna not honestly claim the pretzals were a success. Judge for yourself...

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The back left one was ok looking and they don't taste *too* bad but...nah. I tried them about 10 years ago with similar results. These were an improvement but the dough was too wet this time. Third time lucky I guess.

So having knit and baked there was only one thing left to do - embroider. And this was juuuuust riiiight. (This is a goldilocks reference - suspect it only really came across in my head though.) I got some Sublime Stitching transfers in the post last week and combining these with some others I give you my nephew's xmas present (or part of it).

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One is the blue bird of happiness, which is a Kurt Halsey design. The other is a rocket which is my favourite of the SS designs and which a lucky few will discover emblazened on my own pants.
Back-wise I saw my physio yesterday and I am making "excellent progress" - which is nice. Sadly this means there's no reason for me not to go back to work so today marks the start of my final week on sick leave. I can't complain and in a way will be strangely happy to go back. I haven't missed 90% of it but the interaction with people on a daily basis is definitely something I'm looking forward to.

Sadly I had a catch up call with my boss yesterday and she mentioned that my area is the latest target for Team Wank, or the BatShitCrazies as I've previously described them. I told Pooch and he asked me how I felt about that. I find that I just don't care. It will be irritating in that it will cause extra work and stress my boss who tends to pass these things on. But ultimately - if they did cancel my main project area - I honestly wouldn't give a monkies. I've been watching Alain de Botton's "Status Anxiety" on dvd and must go and read the book again. It's really made me think about who I'm trying to please in life and what I work for and why I go shopping and...everything. If you haven't ever read any of his stuff I would very strongly recommend it. It's modern philosophy but not hard to read or patronising and it's very relevant.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy

Ever since the op my sleep patterns have gone completely out the window. I obviously haven't been as active as I would normally be but even on the days when I'm out a lot and moving about I still don;t sleep until about 1am and often later - and I used to be a strictly 10.30pm girl. I've been waking up at 8 each morning in an attempt to get into a routine but it doesn't help and although I do get up then I get up feeling exhausted. Except this morning. This morning I apparently slept through Pooch getting up and going to work, slept through my alarm at 8, slept through the 9am community bus that beeps on the road outside promptly at 9am every weekday, and only woke up at 10.15. And I actually felt like I'd been asleep and was waking up feeling refreshed. Bliss. Of course now I won;t get to sleep til 3am. I wonder if I should just give in and move to a 3am-11am sleep cycle but then I am going to start back at work in 10 days so it's not a good option.

I went to the physio on monday and he reported I was in excellent shape all things considered. He then disappointed me and made me wear a pair of shorts while he rubbed KY into my thigh. It wasn't as sexy as it sounds and it hurt a lot because the nerve is something or other - short or something like that. Meh. Ah well. As usual he ripped the piss out of my knitting and I tried to explain steeking to him while he jabbed his elbow into my arse. He just doesn't get it. He is definitely one of those people who would say "What just one?" when you tell them you're knitting a sock. And then go on about how you can get 5 pairs for a pound.

I will rise above all this. I would like to finish the Kauni before I go back to work but I'm not sure it's going to happen. I also suspect I might need another ball to get the colours to match. It's annoying that sometimes it seems to be ABCABC and other times it goes ABCBA. I'm trying to keep it ABCABC all the way but we'll see. I'm up to about the elbow on the sleeves so must keep going on those, whack them into place, and do the button bands and cuff. Bleh.

Despite wanting to finish that I did fall for a hat in the Saturday Times magazine. The hat was listed at £255. Yeah right.

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So I broke out some Cascade Quatro I'd had for years and using a free ravelry pattern got going. It came out massive and I couldn't believe it would felt down to the right size....

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But...it did. Two goes int he machine and it was almost there so I added the embroidery with some dark blue tapestry wool halved and voila.

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It's been in the machine again and is just drying. The crown has obviously cocked up but I am happy with it overall. This does seem to be a season of hats for me.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Invincible

That's it. I've done a steek. I've now done everything in knitting. Maybe. I've done lace, cables, knitting backwards, steeking, fairisle, intarsia, socks, jumpers, blankets, hats. Any suggestions for what I've missed?

The steeking went well although I did get butterflies when actually cutting the knitting. I just kept thinking of how many hours of work had gone into it. I used both the Knitty article and the pages on it in Alice Starmore's repinted book.

Having steeked and sewn the shoulders we have....


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I may still redo the neckline at the front as it is a bit high, but apart from that it looks like the size and fit is pretty good! I've cast on the sleeves

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Taking the eek out of steek

The body of my Kauni cardi is now done. There are 4 steeks all together - the big front one, one at each armhole and the neckline one.

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Being a champion bodger there are live stitches on holders in random places too waiting to be 3-needle-bound-off and so on. But first the steeking needs to be done to open up the body and create some room for manouvering.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Slowly but surely

My recovery from the op is progressing nicely, if a bit stop and startish. I think this is my own fault though. It's proving difficult to regulate my activity level. I went out for dinner with friends on friday. Then on sat I was a wreck so hardly did anything, but then couldn't get to sleep til 3am. There's no pain - just exhaustion. I did the same thing last night and couldn't get to sleep so I'm planning an outing this afternoon despite feeling like a chewed up dog toy.

Fortunately the Pooch is now back from japan and arrived bearing gifts. I really am a lucky person. Although it does beg the question - what do you do with lace weight mohair?


The colours don't really come across in the photo. There is a very pale almost grey green, a pale green and a dark green. 40g of the first two and 20g of the third. He also came back with some terribly sweet porcelin polka dot cats and two little discs which we think must be chopstick rests.

So cute!

While Pooch was away I was busy knitting, sewing, embroidering and finishing dyeing my denise needles. I added orange, red and green to the blue ones I had already done. I've done all the needles and my crochet hooks too.

I'm very happy with them and have been knitting with them since and the colours are colourfast.

Lastly, because blogger is being really annoying about inserting images and life is too short, I give you....bread! I'm getting quite into bread now. This one is mostly gone already as we had it with beef and stout soup last night. So domestic!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Aunty Alex and Uncle Grumpy!

Pooch and I are now aunt and uncle to Alife Thomas Coward. Here he is with possibly the proudest grandmother in the whole world!
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It all happened on friday night so he's home with his mum and dad now and looking even more gorgeous than in that photo. I'm just annoyed I can't go and visit yet. My stamina is increasing but I am still exhausted after an hour of moving about. However, every cloud has a silver lining and all this sitting is increasing my output. Here is the polka dot bag I started a few days ago, drying out after felting.
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It's based on one I queued when I first joined Ravelry - more than 2 years ago. It's perfect for a small shoulder bag and is exactly what I wanted.
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The bag was knitted and the dots were crocheted and sewn on before felting. Yarn was doubled for the icord handles.

I've also got back on with the secret wedding afghan, which is no longer a secret. The recipients, who got married in, ahem, august, came round a few days ago and I showed it to them. Since then I've finished another square.
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Says it all really!

A few days ago I was pondering an excursion when I saw this man doing his leaf blowing thing.
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So bloody noisy. I looked at him and remembered the William Shatner song "I can't get behind that" which contains the line "The leaf blowers - is there anything more futile?". Here's the rest of the photo.
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That's a lot of leaves.
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