Monday, 26 October 2015

Autumn on the Mountain

My oh my, doesn't the time fly!  Can you believe it's almost Halloween?  Only a second ago I looked through my window and saw this...

good weather

...and now?  See for yourself:

bad weather

I'm manipulating the evidence here, but only slightly.  The pictures were taken no more than a few weeks apart. The ugly one, however, IS from today.  What you see is not fog, not exactly - I'm in the centre of a %&*#^% cloud!  It happens a lot around here, because of the elevation: the clouds just can't be bothered to lift their lazy backsides over the mountain so they hug the ground instead, enveloping us in the grey wetness.  The effect, when you go outside, is curious - like rain, but stationary.  The droplets don't fall, they hang in the air, so you crash into them as you walk through, not the other way round. 

Usually I hate being all Pollyanna about things but at times like this it's either this or crying the afternoon away.  A lightless, dripping day outside?  Brilliant!  PERFECT knitting conditions.  Let's grab some needles and talk yarn stuff. 

Last time I was here, I was working on a pair of Owlies for my Sister's birthday.  Here they are, all done:

Owlie socks

I fell in love with the owl cable and with adding beads to knitwear, so I went on knitting and improvised a matching pair of fingerless mitts.

Owlie mittens

The package still felt little light, so I added something else to the bunch:

Tinsel hedgehog

This fella is King Cole's Tinsel Hedgehog, if you were wondering.  I'm not a big fan of glitter, so I chose a down-to-earth colour for his fur but otherwise I followed the pattern as written.  A very pleasant pattern it is too, quick and simple, perfect for a last minute gift. 

Next up - Indian Feathers shawl.

indian feathers shawl

As you can see, I'm still under the beading spell.  I *blush* may have bought a *more blushing* rather substantial amount of size 6/0 beads, so this probably isn't the last word on the matter...

indian feathers shawl detail

I'm uncomfortably between projects right now.  There's enough yarn in the stash to last me a decade, but after a few days wasted browsing through patterns, I'm still undecided.  Something biggish is on my mind, a jacket perhaps, but whatever design I look at, there's something not quite right.  The fit is not 'mine'.  The gauge is all wonky.  The 'wow factor' is just not there.  I rather feel like mindless knitting just now but I fear I'll end up designing something from scratch.  I've been lazily swatching today, trying out various pretty stitches, thinking the pattern up.  We'll see if the idea ever becomes solid enough to be born as a garment;  keep your fingers crossed, will ya?

I can't sign off without introducing you to the newest member of our household.  She's nameless as yet and disarmingly cute:

black rabbit

Any ideas for a decent rabbit name?

Saturday, 5 September 2015

A triple 'ta-dah!'

Oh boy, don't I have things to show you!  I've been knitting like a demon recently and I have a small pile of Finished Objects to present.  Well ok, maybe two pairs of socks and a shawl don't exactly constitute a pile, but still - considering I've knit them within a week or so, it's decent results, no?

Number 1 - Vestigial Socks by Beata Jezek

Vestigial socks

Nice, eh?  I loved the pattern, so straightforward, so quick to knit up, so lovely.  Highly recommended.  In fact, I HAVE recommended it to my newly found knitting friends and one of them already has a Vestigial Sock on her needles :)

Vestigial socks

Number 2 - Aylesbury Shawl

Aylesbury shawlette

Lo and behold, another shawl done and dusted.  To be honest, it's a shawlette rather than a shawl, it eats up around 400m of yarn and can be knit in three days from start to finish, average knitting speed.

Aylesbury shawlette

A lovely little pattern;  I was halfway through before I realised it was designed by Aisling M. Doonan, whose Ardrum Scarf I've knit a while back.  A quick browse through Ravelry revealed that there are quite a few knitworthy (and free!) designs in her collection so if you're into lace, do check her out. 

Aylesbury shawlette

It's lace on garter stitch background, therefore details of the pattern can be a little hard to make out.  On the plus side, it stays flat.  Really, really flat, without the slightest inclination to curl anywhere and you have no idea how much I appreciate this.  Hatred of curling edges in knitting is one of my (completely irrational) quirks. 

Number 3 - Foot Ovens, or my variation on the theme

A simple design by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (known also as the Yarn Harlot - in the unlikely event of anyone not recognising the name).  Originally written for chunky alpaca, I made my pair out of aran weight acrylic and it worked just fine.  I had to fiddle with the numbers a bit of course, but there are few patterns where I don't.

Foot ovens

The best part?  A pair can be whipped up in a day or two.  That's size large, too.

Foot ovens

So, what do you think?  Not too shabby for a week of work? 

Let's hope the productive stretch continues for another while.  I have Owlies on the needles now - I saw the pattern yesterday evening and could hardly sleep at night from the desire to cast them on.  It's my first time beading, too.  By a total coincidence (synchronicity???), I found a teeny tiny crochet hook in my hardware tin, so I'm all ready to go. 

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Borderline scratchy

Just as promised, let me present another shawl, fresh off the needles.  Here's Danielle:

border collie and knit shawl

Oops, sorry about that!  The Puppy likes Danielle too, take your eyes off for a second and she'll install herself right on top of the lace, without any regard for its fragility. 

Let's try again.  Danielle, in all of its (block-in-progress) glory:

knit shawl blocking

Right, I know pictures are rather unimpressive so far, but would you be eager for an outdoor photo shoot when the outdoor looks like this?

Irish summer

I didn't think so.  Wait for the weather to clear, you might say, but with Ireland experiencing the worst summer in decades, this could be quite a wait.  A pretty detail will have to do:

knit shawl detail

A quick knit, simple and lovely (free!) pattern.  About a week from start to finish, with a logical, easy to memorize chart.  Unless I'm very much mistaken (which could happen, but Ravelry notes confirm my version), one line in chart 5 is off by 1 stitch (per side)*.  Easy enough to rectify, just add one stitch near the beginning and the end of the offending row and from there it's smooth sailing. 

Yarn:  30% mohair, 20% wool, 50% acrylic, 350m/50g.  I ordered it specifically for Danielle - I couldn't imagine so leafy a shawl in colour other than green - and while I love the shade, I'm slightly disappointed by how the yarn feels against the skin.  I'd call it borderline scratchy - not quite unpleasant, but definitely not smooth and soft.  That's natural fibres for you, I'm afraid.  This particular yarn is not too bad, but I've seen (touched!) wools you could flay someone with. 

Just something to think about, before you order online :)

* I'm sorry, I forgot to write down exactly which line has the mistake.  Now I'm not 100% sure anymore and I don't want to mislead you.  You'll see it when you get there :)  

Monday, 24 August 2015

Alone no more and a brand new shawl

Despite silence on the blog, a lot is happening in my little knitterly world.  Turns out there are knitters - and even spinners! - on my mountain.  While spending time with other people is not the easiest thing in the world for the introvert me, it is really good to meet someone who gets this whole knitting thing.  I'm more used to the look of friendly incomprehension from the general public and while I don't hold it against anyone, it's a pleasure to experience something different. 

A lot of brainstorming takes place, and who knows where it will lead me and my new friends?  I'll let you know when anything significant emerges, for now let me share another recent creation - and why, it is another shawl, thank you so much for asking!

knitted lace shawl

A very pleasant pattern by a Polish designer, Kasia Smolak, it's called Creamy Shawl and it works up in a breeze.  I think it took me about a week, maybe 10 days from start to finish, eating up around 600m of sport weight yarn (20% alpaca, 40% merino, 10% mohair, 30% acrylic).  Just imagine it wound up around your neck rather than this handsome fence post on my patio*:

knitted lace shawl

It could happen, you know? The shawl may still be snatched by my sister for an upcoming wedding but if it's not, I'm putting it up for sale.  Do let me know if you're interested - my email address is contactstitchsmart(at)gmail(dot)com.  I thought I'd like to wrap myself up in something warm and pretty but in the end, it's not quite 'me'.  Off it has to go, one way or another.

knitted lace shawl

What do you think about the frilly edge?  I'm inclined to block it out of existence (whether it would block out is another story), but a friend said it adds character to the piece.  Does it?  Should I try and fight this particular windmill? 

More shawls coming soon.  I'm on a roll.

* See the stormy sky in the background?   That's Irish summer for you...

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

One Lousy Day

I didn't finish Oceanspray in time.  I was late.  By one day.  ONE LOUSY DAY. 

The world didn't end.  Even with the surprise element spoiled, the shawl was gifted away and duly admired.  All's good.

oceanspray knit shawl

I don't know if you can fully appreciate it from the picture, but the finished knit is HUGE.  So huge, in fact, that I had serious problems trying to block in on two single beds put together.  I never bothered to measure it but my goodness.  It's a blanket rather than a shawl. 

Just as I suspected, silk/alpaca mix is a tad too drapey to really bring out beauty of this particular pattern.  Eyelets get lost in the stockinette, but as long as the leafy border looks ok, I'm not worried.  It does look ok, doesn't it?

oceanspray detail

Puppy, as ever, insisted on joining in the photo shoot.


I am very, very happy with this pattern.  I used up 4 (and a tiny bit) x 50g skeins, 350m each.  I have another four left.  Any ideas?

Speaking of yarn, I went on a binge recently and bought a small mountain of it, mostly in lace but also some fingering in sweater quantities.  I'm told winters on my mountain get pretty ghastly, with storms and clouds enveloping the whole area.  Rowan berries are already turning red, hazelnuts are almost ripe, summer (such as it was) is on its way out. One needs to be prepared, yes?  

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Chores and deadlines

Can I tell you a secret?

I'm really not good at chores.  I'm supposed to be a proper, organised adult, with a 'to do' list, spotless house and a solid plan for life.  I have none of these things.  Sometimes I even feel guilty for not having them.  More often, I shrug and get over the fact that I won't be called the Housekeeper of the Year anytime soon. 

There are so many things I'd rather do!  I mean - look how uninspiring housework is.  You wash and brush and wipe and dust and polish and clean and two days later?  You have to do it all over again.  It's a never ending battle and you have to sprint constantly just to keep up.  Nauseating.  Wouldn't you rather be knitting?  Wouldn't you?

It's simple.  One day I have to be rich enough to be able to afford a cleaner.  Until then, I'll compromise.

I don't negotiate with animal chores.  Critters need to be fed, watered, walked, cuddled (whichever is appropriate at any given moment) and that's that.  All the rest?  I'll do it if there's no way to avoid it (having no clean underwear is a potent motivator).  I'll leave it for later if I can.  I'll try not to feel guilty about it.

feeding chickens

Do you want one more reason to chuck housework? 

Knitting deadlines. 

I'm some 2/3 through Oceanspray.  Another 10 (long) rows and I'll be able to start the border.  I need to finish it by July 24 or the secret gift will not be secret anymore.  Anyone wants to take bets?  Or at least cheer me along?  I can do it.  I can do it, right?

oceanspray in progress

My Oceanspray doesn't look like much at the moment, just a shapeless pile of grey (Puppy helped in the photo shoot).  I hope blocking will make all the difference although part of me wonders if silk/alpaca yarn isn't too drapey for this pattern?  I suppose I'll find out soon enough...

If you need me, I'll be knitting on the porch. 

Monday, 13 July 2015

Giant's socks and garden sheep

Remember my latest pair of socks?  They were little on the large side, but now...  guys, my socks GREW in washing.  They grew a lot.  As in - they are some giant's socks now, not mine. 

Look, here's the Giant Sock pictured together with a fitting handmade sock and a commercial sock in my size (just for the joke):

socks, handmade and otherwise

As much as I hate the idea of knitting them anew, I see no other option than frogging the whole thing and re-working them with severely reduced stitch counts.  To start with, I'm going to work on 56 rather than 64 stitches.  I'll probably make them shorter, too... hell, I think I'll change pretty much all there is to change because in hindsight, the pattern does not really work that well with this particular yarn.  I'll use Rebecca's pattern as a springboard, but what I'll end up with, only time can tell.    

I'm also going to start soon because I know that if I leave them be for now they'll remain untouched for years, lurking in some dark corner of my stash. 

That's the Plan.  The Plan may be influenced by two things:

1) suddenly I'm flooded by a shitload of work (you know, work, the nasty stuff that keeps the bills paid and gets you all that yarn.  I don't like it either)

2) deadlines for Oceanspray (end of July) and one more - unbloggable - knit gift (three days from today?  I'll need a Tardis for that one...) are approaching fast. 

I'll keep you posted.

By the way, did I ever mention that my neighbourhood is full of sheep?  Look what I saw through my window this morning:

sheep in the garden

Apologies for the crappy picture, I had to be very sneaky because I didn't want my SHEEPdog to notice and chase the visitors away.  The more grass they eat, the less there's left to mow for us :) 

Could anyone tell me what breed sheep are they?  I strongly suspect that only meat breeds are kept on my mountain but you never know...