Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hat patterns

I'm going to knit a hat for my sister for Christmas, but she doesn't know exactly what she wants. So here you are, sis, a selection of patterns to peruse - let me know which one you like.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The three projects approach

I've been trying the three projects approach for the last couple of weeks, and it seems to be yielding results. Grumperina outlined an ideal state of having exactly three projects on the go at once with one easy portable, one easy stay at home and one more complicated.

My current three are:

1) Evie - the easy portable

Very bored with this now, but can't bear the guilt of another unfinished summer top

2) Stripy throw - the easy, but too big to heft around

Still enjoying, but still hasn't got to the desired width, never mind length

3) MS3 - the complicated

Having a bit of a renaissance. I just finished chart H tonight, so two more charts or around 100 rows to go. Let's ignore the fact that the rows are getting ever longer.

The main reason I am sticking to three at a time is to try to actually finish something before I start another. I really want to make a start on my Christmas knitting, but am resisting. The throw is going to take ages, but it should be possible to finish in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Highlights from the K&S show

I went to the Knitting & Stitching show on Thursday and Saturday, and enjoyed both. On Thursday, I did a recce and didn't buy much at all, and went home feeling very virtuous. I did however, fall off the wagon on Saturday....
I took Kerrie Allman's knitted flowers class, which has given me enough confidence to tackle the scarf on the cover of Vogue Knitting. We made silk roses and chrysanthemums, and it was quick and easy.

Two of my favourite stalls were Touch Yarns from New Zealand had some interesting possum yarn, and soft hand dyed boucle. Knitwitches had loads of hand dyed cashmere and silk.were two of my favourite stalls.
Top of the range luxury was represented by Teos Handspun and Shilasdair handspun cashmere, for qiviut and shokay for yak. I particularly like the knitted yak, knitted from yak yarn! The shadecards are pretty cute too.

I didn't venture far into the yarns at the opposite end of the spectrum, although there did seem to be plenty of takers for the jumbo cones of acrylic. I did see the James C Brett Marble that Lixie favours in her podcasts, but wasn't hugely tempted. Good for babies, but not so keen for me.

The vendors on the Sublime Yarns were very friendly, and their patterns and yarns are always great. The colour palette is indeed sublime and very sophisticated.
Rkmwools had a good range of well priced yarns, and the textiles student on the stand was only to keen to help me mix up some combinations for small projects.

The quilting exhibition was interesting, with a wide range of styles. I thought the quilted blog was a clever idea.

How to survive Ally Pally

Just back from the marathon of the K&S show at Ally Pally. Despite a heavy cold and a raw throat, I had a great time. I've been going to the show for years, long before I became a knitter. It's the most comprehensive show in the UK, but can be utterly exhausting. Here are my top ten tips for getting the most out of it:

1) Make a plan
Order the programme ahead of time, and mark what you want to see. This means you won't accidentally miss something and read about it later.

2) Don't be rigid about the plan
When there are thousands of people milling about, it's better to drift along and see the less crowded places. You'll take in some of the places on your plan, and can consult your plan when you stop for a break to check what's left

3) Don't take the tube
Driving seems the most luxurious way to get there, as you don't need to worry about bags, coats, timetables etc. However, if you don't/ won't drive, and can't find a willing chauffeur, I'd go with the coach. You can leave coats on it, deposit bags from time to time and knit, read or nap on the journey. Failing that, try the train. I did it for the first time this year, and found it much less crowded than the tube. It also has the advantage that you can walk from the train station to the show - if you don't mind the hill... It's not plain sailing with the train, and confusing that different lines operate on weekdays and weekends. The Moorgate trains are great, the King's Cross ones, not so much.
Avoid the tube. It's dirty, overcrowded, and dumps you miles from AP. You then have to wait, often for half an hour, to get the bus.

4) Dress for a sauna
Lightweight T shirt and the most comfortable shoes you own. Don't bother wearing a gorgeous handknit sweater; you will boil. Use the cloakroom (if you came by public transport). Expensive, but better than carting heavy bags around all day.

5) Take cash and chequebook
Most of the vendors do take cards, but the machines don't get a proper signal, and there are vendors who will only take cash or cheque.

6) Bring lunch and water
Unfortunately, the queues for food and drink are huge, and there isn't enough seating once you finally get something. It's worth buying something en route, so that you don't go hungry. Definitely bring a litre of water, and sip throughout the day.

7) Take in a class or show
It's very hot and crowded at AP. Plan to take a class or see the fashion show. This gives you a chance to sit down for an hour (seating at AP is notoriously inadequate), and makes all the difference between feeling utterly drained or refreshed enough to last the day. It's great to take home a new skill, and the teachers are usually well known.

8) Go twice
If there's lots you want to see and do, consider going on two days. I find it puts far less pressure on you to see everything, and allows you to ponder those luxury purchases before you splurge.

9) See the exhibitions in small chunks
I like seeing the exhibitions, but find my eyes glaze over if I try to tackle it all in one go. Alternate an exhibition with shopping, snacking and classes, and you'll appreciate it more.

10) Use the off peak hours
It's busiest between 12 and 4. If you can, arrive early, or leave late. You'll cover three times the ground in those off peak hours.

11) Grab a bargain, muse over the luxuries
If you see something you think is a real bargain, grab it. It will go. If you are investing in luxury yarn for a big project, make a note of the stand number, and keep going. See what else there is, then come back. It saves carrying around all day, and avoids finding something you like more later.

OK, eleven tips rather than ten. You're all set, enjoy!