Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mosaic meme

The Questions:

1. What is your first name? Melanie
2. What is your favorite food? potato cakes
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color? red
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert? apple crumble
9. What you want to be when you grow up? rich
10. What do you love most in life? family
11. One Word to describe you? searching
12. Your flickr name? smug sheep

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Yarn meme

Catching up on some old bloglines feeds, I found this yarn meme on feather and fan's blog, and was intrigued. I'm modifying it slightly.

Top 100 Ravelry yarns as of April (ranked by # of projects)


1, Cascade 220 Wool - a lovely springy wool in loads of colours. It is now available in the UK, but more expensive (of course)

4, Noro Kureyon - like everyone else, love the colours, wish it was softer and cheaper

11, Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino (KPPPM) - before I used this, I couldn't believe it was worth the high price tag. But looking at the blendability of the colours compared to the CTH supersock in the same project, it is worth it for something special

21, Cascade 220 Heathers - same as 1

25, Rowan Kidsilk Haze - tough but rewarding

42, Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino- the poor man's KPPPM? I like it, but I don't love it, and colour bleeding has caused me problems

47, Rowan RYC Cashsoft DK - love it, love it, love it -unfortunately, so do moths

49, Rowan Felted Tweed - very nice woolly feel, but takes forever to knit up

50, Rowan Calmer - I really like the top I made from this, and although it seems ridiculously expensive for cotton and acrylic, it is the only one of its kind

67, Rowan Wool Cotton - yes , nice, but too expensive for me

73, Handmaiden Fine Yarn Sea Silk - hmm, nice, but wouldn't bother to buy again

90, Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk - this one is a repeat purchase

92, Rowan All Seasons Cotton - very thick, nice to work with, but I struggle to think of garments I could wear this thick

In stash

10, Noro Silk Garden - waiting to be made into a frilled cardigan

15, Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock Multi - for stripy socks

33, Berroco Ultra Alpaca - for cabled bags

60, Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton - for a baby cardigan

62, Rowan Big Wool - a jacket

68, Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton - baby cardi

72, Misti International Misti Alpaca Chunky - cropped sleeve cardigan

88, Knit Picks Gloss - socks, but maybe a shawl?

97, Mission Falls 1824 Cotton - summer top

Would like to try

3, Malabrigo Yarn Merino Worsted,

6, Lily Sugar’n Cream Solid

7, Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted

12, Knit Picks Wool of the Andes

17, Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky

19, Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock - Lightweight

22, Lily Sugar’n Cream Ombres & Prints

24, Patons SWS (Soy Wool Stripes),

27, Pisgah Yarn & Dyeing Co., Inc Peaches & Creme Ombres

29, Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock - Mediumweight

37, Colinette Jitterbug,

44, South West Trading Company TOFUtsies

45, Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool

46, Mission Falls 1824 Wool

52, Knit Picks Merino Style,

53, Garnstudio Drops Alpaca

54, Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Fingering, 55, Knit Picks Andean Silk

59, Dream in Color Smooshy

61, Dream in Color Classy

66, Karabella Aurora 8

74, Mountain Colors Bearfoot

80, Cascade Ecological Wool

87, Lily Sugar’n Cream Stripes,

91, Cascade 220 Quatro

96, Rowan Kid Classic

98, Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted Multi
99, Cascade Fixation Spray Dyed/Effects,

Not too bothered - the rest! List includes:

Patons Classic Wool Merino, Caron Simply Soft, Red Heart Ltd. Super Saver Solids, Lion Brand Wool-Ease Solid, Lion Brand Homespun,Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, Manos del Uruguay 100% Wool,Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, Plymouth Encore Worsted , Zitron Trekking (XXL), Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, Pisgah Yarn & Dyeing Co., Inc Peaches & Creme Solids, Cascade 220 Superwash, Knit Picks Swish Superwash, , Knit Picks Essential, Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice Solid, Lion Brand Lion Wool Solid, Knit Picks Shine, Dale of Norway/Dalegarn Baby Ull, Lion Brand Microspun, Knit Picks Palette

Saturday, June 21, 2008

So why are they UFOs?

The irony of knitting in public day was that it was one of the few days in the year when I didn't knit in public! The problem was that none of my numerous WIPs was at a suitable point to tuck into a bag and knit without thinking. They were all at a point that needed complicated shaping, too big, needed to wind more yarn, etc. So for once, I found myself staring out of the train window.

The experience made me think about all the UFOs I have, and why they are languishing. I decided to examine each of them:

1) Erin jumper

  • out of season
  • not sure where I am in the pattern
  • bulky and hard to carry around

2) Ozzy octopus

  • fiddly bits and making up left

3) Sunrise circle

  • making up

4) Adventure bag

  • too big to carry around
  • the pointy needles hurt my finger tips

5) Lucy handbag

  • not sure where I am in the pattern
6) Vogue strappy top

  • reached a really fiddly bit with lots of stitches on holders
7) Green top

  • bored with pattern
  • out of season when I stopped on it

8) Sahara

  • one fiddly bit left to do

9) Fish sampler

  • not sure where I am in the pattern, lost the flow
10) pink glitz bag

  • not sure where I am in the pattern
  • need to cut out lining pieces
11) simple crochet bag

  • not sure where I am in the pattern

12) Mystery stole 3

  • Need to concentrate to get back into flow of lace knitting
  • Rows are getting longer and longer

13) Garden path shawl from elann

  • Hmm, not even sure that's what it is, let alone where I am in the pattern.
  • Yarn and needle combination is too sticky

14) Purple cardigan

  • Adapting the pattern gauge and size is too hard
  • Yarn dye comes off on my hands
  • Don't know where I am in the pattern

15) Fuzzy scarf

  • Needs frogging

16) Chevron tie

  • Fiddly as have to keep cutting yarn and darning in ends

17) Fuchsia crochet bag

  • Lost place in pattern

18) Jolien

  • Reaching fiddly shoulder shaping

The overall themes are:

I don't know where I am in the pattern and/or I'm at a fiddly bit ie. it's not just case of pick it up and go, I need to invest some time and brainpower in figuring it out

The projects aren't portable due to size or complexity

The longer the project has idled, the greater the mental barrier to picking it up

However, I have successfully finished some large projects, and some of the features these shared were:
Blitzed in one go ie. never sat in the UFO pile
No finishing or finished immediately
Lots of simple stockinette or crochet so suitable for TV knitting

Not really sure what I do with this information, other than think twice before starting a complex project; experience shows it's more likely to get off the needles if it's easy, even if it's large.
I really do have to try and get some of these UFOs moving. I haven't even counted the items that need lining, buttons, etc.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Vauxhall city farm

We took an excursion to the Vauxhall City Farm Sheep & Wool day today, organised by the local spinning group. Turns out the farm actually only has one sheep, but had borrowed a couple more from another farm. The highlight was the shearing of Lamby, a black Wensleydale with an impressive fleece, by Tommy, who kept up an informative commentary as he sheared. Lamby had never been shorn before and was literally rigid with fear and struggling mightily, so it was a painstaking process.

Manoeuvring her into position

Starting with the stomach

Shaving those sideburns

Nearly finished

All done!

The crimp and lustre of the fleece are lovely. The spinners will make the most of the fleece, and have already started carefully combing the locks. Lamby gets to keep the topknot.

There were spinning and drop spindle demos, a chance to dip in the indigo dye pot, and goods and handspun for sale. I couldn't resist a beautiful handspun mini shawl, and some hand dyed amazingly soft alpaca yarn.

I particularly liked the hand dyed and in some cases hand spun felted bags. They were made up of lots of short lengths of different colours, which blended beautifully and made a feature of the knots.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Airport-induced crochet

Recent air travel meant that I needed a portable crochet project, so I started on the Prepster from the Happy Hooker. This has been on my wishlist for ages, and I brought the yarn for this from the US last Memorial Day, so I was happy to start it.

I discovered that Cascade 220 is really easy to wind into centre pull balls; no knots, twists or strange doublebacks on the skein. I was surprised to find out how lofty it is for a dk weight, and that it is quite soft. I can see why this such a popular staple yarn in the US.

Starting the project was a bit of a challenge. I tried to swatch with the recommended 3.75mm hook, but the yarn kept catching, so I moved up to a 4mm. This hook worked much better, but I had to work the gauge swatch tightly to get the correct tension for the pattern. Moving on to the main body, I started work and measured after a few rows. I must have reverted to my normal tension as the back was about 4 inches too wide! I then tried again tightly, but too much so, and the back was too narrow. Finally, like Goldilocks, I managed to get it just right.

Crochet moves along so much faster than knitting, and seems to be easier to change the shaping too. My row gauge is a bit off, so I've added a few rows and increased the buttonhole spacing. I've also added shoulder shaping to the front, as it is missing from the pattern.