I'll keep this one a bit more personal; the more general (and possibly more exciting) knitting news is now over at handknitter.co.uk
Finished item and end of year review
I've just finished this Sweet Baby Sweater in time for the little lad's birthday.
It seemed a good time to review my New Year's resolution, which was to finish more projects this year than I start (I'm a compulsive starter).
Click through to the Stitchin' Bints blog to see how I've done.
I love casting on
I've said this many times, but I do love casting on. It's so full of hope and expectation.
This is the first toe of my 'Water Sprite' socks. I've spun the yarn by hand spindle, the fibre is a wool / bamboo mix and was dyed by patricia of Yummy Yarns UK.
I'm using my favourite pattern, Ginkgo Socks from Cotton and Cloud.
Pearl would rather be knitting
... and so would I.
I've updated some of the products in the Cafepress store to include this slogan.
Hope you like it!
I now have a Sale page for end-of-line or shop damaged - items discounted for any reason.
There are some bargains to be had - dig in!
New shopping cart
Due to some ongoing problems with the Paypal shopping cart I have recently switched to a different shopping cart (Don't worry, checkout is still Paypal).
If you have any problems at all, please let me know
This is by far my favourite Valentine's pattern.
I made some of the chocs last year but didn't have time to make the box. I put them into a nice sweetie box :)
The link goes to my blog post, there's a link near the top which takes you to the pattern
Learning to crochet
At Christmas Mum showed me how to hold a crochet hook. I've resisted crochet for a long time, but a long time ago I pinned this pattern: Tatiana Pullover from Interweave - it's lovely and inspired me to learn to use a hook.
After lots of head-scratching over the pattern and gazing at Youtube videos it's taking shape!
The yarn I've chosen is Tekapo in dark red, beautiful dk 100% wool.
Five steps to knit a great fit
It's easy to dive in to a new pattern only to find that it doesn't fit when finished, which is frustrating given the amount of work involved. I'm talking from experience.
So this article from Stefanie Japel (aka Glampyre) which appears on Knitty.com had me hooked. Really good advice from one who knows.
Yarn bowls in progress
I visited Helen over Christmas and have been able to bring away a limited number of her yarn bowls in the original design, large size. Available now on this site.
More in this and other designs are in progress.
First FO of the year! Cute bootees
I'm so pleased with these, knit on my grandmother's needles and using a vintage pattern.
Festive blockpick: A Spectrum of Santas!
Bonnie has made these little Santas - pattern from Anna of Mochimochi Land
Congratulations to Bonnie who won the Mochimochi Photo Contest with these images.
I've not made very much progress with my own knitting and spinning projects recently because I've been spinning this 130g of cat fluff for a friend.
There's more of a colour variation than you can see from the photo; in places it's almost white and in some places dark brown. I'm looking forward to seeing how it looks knitted up. The owner isn't sure yet what she'll make.
Blogpick - Knitting in Living Color
I hadn't seen this lovely quote from Winston Churchill before, but to me the great man has become even greater.
"I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns."
I've stolen that quote from knittingdaily (and corrected their americanism of 'colour' - Winnie was English and would have said it with the 'u' of course).
Kathleen's post goes on to talk about her favourite colours, about how her favourites grey and orange can look great with the poor brown, and some useful tips re colour moving and pooling.
One last yarnbomb
I feel that we've seen yarnbombing so many times that it now takes something special to raise our eyebrows, but as a little bit of a retrospective, some of the best (remember the Smart car and the bus?) are featured in this short movie, which is actually a trailer for a forthcoming documentary about the subject with commentary and projects from Magda Sayeg / Knitta Please.
And one last one for luck - in New York, looking like a particularly devious rubik's cube...
Tardis socks finished! Just in time
I'm really pleased with these. It's my first go at colourwork - intarsia in the round - and embroidered detail.
The chart gives you the leg - then you use your favourite sock pattern. I carried the squares over the foot and enjoyed knitting that 'waffle' pattern.
Follow the links for more details and the pattern.
A change of mind
Or "I can feel a frogging coming on"
One of my Works in Progress came to a bit of a halt, I wasn't feeling right about the yarn.
I recently spun some black yarn (undyed zwartbles fleece) that I was going to use for some hiking socks. But instead I tried knitting a sample of the Opulent Raglan jumper, and it looks so much better than the grey I've been using. So I have quite a lot of the grey one to unravel but I'm much happier with the black.
Blockpick: MochiMochi Land
Anna at MochiMochi Land who I've enjoyed following for a while, teased us a while ago about an art project. There was mention of a knitted ball pool which is bound to attract anyone's interest.
The finished project is on show at Lion Brand Studio and lives up to the promise!
I don't usually feature things that you have to pay for, but I'm very pleased to see that she has been working hard on a book of patterns for her delightful teeny tiny toys which is available now.
Blockpick: Why Did They Crochet?
Why do you crochet? Income, an escape from troubles, to create luxuries or perhaps just for the love of it. Nothing changes, as Toni from Crochet Me finds as she studies the origins and history of crochet.
In her blog post you can read some of her findings and click through to the Crochet Me blog to share your own thoughts.
Stitch markers - choosing and using
If you're not sure what pm and sm on your pattern mean, Jess at Lion Brand explains in this ground-up guide to the small but indispensable part of your knitting kit.
do also click the link at the bottom that says 'Stitch Markers: A Lace Knitter's Best Friend' for more marker tips.
Back to back challenge
This challenge proves that it's possible to take the wool from a sheep's back and produce a garment in a day.
The full challenge uses a team of eight people to shear, spin and knit a full-size jumper. I was lucky enough to take part in this practice run at the first Fibre East on Sunday 24 June. We made a child-size jumper, but otherwise followed the rules of the challenge.
A friend said to me the other day "lace knitting is showing up everywhere" If you've not tried knitting with holes before, this blog post from Kathleen of knittingDaily contains a very simple lace pattern that you can repeat to make a very satisfying square.
This post is about reading the chart and doesn't really explain the 'yarn over', the all-important stitch which creates the hole! Simply poise your right needle as if you're knitting the next stitch, but go beside it, not actually into the stitch. Pass your working yarn over the needle as if knitting, creating a new stitch on the needle.
New range of needles
I've taken delivery of a new range of hooks and needles, made from ebony and rosewood with the most exquisite finish.
Made by a small family firm, The 'oily polish' finish is a family secret, apparently. It has a beautiful shine and is waterproof.
Danielle Spector of Reshape Studio has produced these amazing 'knitted' tableware designs in porcelain.
She sells these and other designs (check out the knitted lampshade too) via her Etsy shop, but unfortunately only seems to offer shipping to US and Canada (unless you know differently?)
Blogpick: How to Make and share a Knitting Chart in Excel
Rebecca of Chemknits has written this tutorial in three parts about producing and share a knitting chart. (Details and screenshots are Excel but I'm sure it works in other spreadsheet apps).
Knit a toy mouse for cats awaiting a new home
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is calling on crafters to knit a toy mouse for cats awaiting a new home.
Rachel Dixon (no relation) of the Guardian has provided this pattern, Captain Cat-Battler, created by Lauren O'Farrell from Stitch London. There are some alternative patterns via a link to battersea.org.uk, and and address for your finished toys to reach the cats.
Blogpick: Summer flies
Do your knitting habits change with the seasons? Craftsy magazine held a survey on Facebook and found the top answer to be 'the weather doesn't affect my knitting'. The next highest answer was that projects become smaller; hats and socks.
In response to this, Stefanie Japel has put together her top five free summer patterns.
I guess that like me, you are not often moved by many of the patterns in a top five, but these ones really grabbed me, I've bookmarked three of them.
The Summer flies shawl (I assume meaning that Summer goes quickly, not a reference to the insects) looks lovely and is said to be quick and easy to knit. The Ornamental Socks have a fascinating heel! And the Suntrap Scarf just looks beautiful and summery.
The scarf is similar to one of my own WIPs and reminds me that I should get on with it!
Blogpick: Ancient woolly sock
Kate of Needled writes as beautifully as she takes photographs. You may know that I like a walk and I have enjoyed a little bit of Hadrian's Wall.
This post, which features some gorgeous photos and eulogises about the oldest known woolly sock, made me want to drive up there right away, and I'm sure it will have the same effect on you.
Ultimate Extreme Knitting
What's the most extreme way of knitting you can think of? How about knitting with hockey sticks while standing on broken glass in bare feet? Sounds unlikely - but click the thumbnail for the excruciating picture.
Thanks to Knitting Project of the Day for sharing
Knit in Public Day(s)
I don't usually buy into International Whatever Day, but love seeing / doing public knitting / spinning.
This year, we'll be celebrating World Wide Knit in Public 'Day' from 11 June to 19 June
At the Knit in Public Day website you can find out more, find an event (there are some in the UK) or organise your own.
Will you be knitting / spinning in public? Make sure you get some snaps and add them here: Spinning and knitting in public - if you have a Flickr account, just click 'join'. If you aren't on Flickr, it's pretty easy to join.
Project Spectum - Green
This is my contribution to Lolly's 'Project Spectrum'. This year she's concentrating on the 'additive' primaries', the basics of coloured light rather than pigment. For June she'd like us to focus on green.
She's set a challenge to capture some greens in your neighbourhood.
Easy! I took this photo on Saturday on a circular walk starting from home. Being in the middle of The National Forest, there's lots of young forest around, including these poplars just beyond Smisby. I've made this picture available in various sizes for desktop / wallpaper at http://uk-walks.info/desktop-wallpaper.html
It's nice to combine my walking with my fibre crafts!
Blogpick - 192 Mochis
When I read 'knitted ball pool' I got very excited. Who wouldn't want to lose themselves in one of those! but I think it was just a passing comment.
This art project by Anna Hrachovec, who designs and makes cute and strange tiny toys, will consist of hundreds of her little characters in a space donated by Lion Brand. She says that she doesn't know exactly what form it'll eventually take, but in the mean time she's posting updates on her blog, Mochimochi Land.
Blogpick - Tips for travel knitting
If you have a holiday planned, will you pack a crochet / knitting project?
Either a scary coincidence or perhaps they planned it... Toni from Crochet Me and Kathleen from Knitting daily (with tips from her friend Amy Palmer) have both written about this topic. (I'm looking out for a similar post from their sister, Spinning Daily, about spinning on the move...)
The general messages are to keep it small, and keep it easy - for example with memorable pattern repeats.
Amy also touches on the subject of kntting on a plane. I wrote about this last year and had some feedback afterwards. It seems to depend on the airport - my blog post gives some specific details, but remember that staff don't always know their own rules. (A 'lifeline' in your work is a good idea in case the worst happens and you have to jettison your needles and buy some at the other end.)
Drop Spindle Spinning
If you're a knitter or just curious about spinning, then this free eBook is for you!
It contains excerpts from well-established books from Lee Raven, Maggie Casey, Amy Clarke Moore and others. You can learn how to make a spindle for yourself and spin & ply your first yarn!
The free download requires you to give your email address to SpinningDaily, but their regular emails are often interesting and worthwhile.
A woolly underwater world
Last year I reported on Textile artist Alison Murray's piece 'Above and Below the Waves'
Alison has created a huge seaside scene involving 2,000 knitters. the contributors did their own thing and Alison took five months to sew it all together.
Alison says, "knitting is an Olympic sport for me and the pieces are of an Olympic size". This piece has a tunnel that you can walk through for wooly underwater experience.
The piece is now on show in Merseyside's Aintree racecourse and money raised will go to the RNLI. You can catch a glimpse on the BBC's website:
Cafe owner Peter Allinson spent six months (on and off - which is my main method too) knitting his own version of the Brighton Royal Pavilion.
Previous work includes the Palace Pier and, according to The Argus, legwarmers made for Max Miller (?!)
Customers find that their teapot is covered with one of Mr Allison's own tea cosies.
With thanks to KnittyBlog for sharing.
Tutorial: Saori weaving
Pam finds this technique expressive and relaxing. It's very portable, uses oddments of yarn and best of all reqires no special equipment (assuming you have a darning needle and some card).
The Amazing Yarn Man
Looking slightly sinister and just a little too lifelike, as if he's about to get up and walk around, this is the Amazing Yarn Man.
Is it a real man who's had stocking stitch tattood all over his body? Thankfully not. He's made from Lion Brand's Amazing yarn and was recently used (along with his equally-colourful sofa) to unnerve attract visitors to their trade stand and is now having a spell at an exhibition at San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles.
Creating Colors: Project Spectrum 2011
Project Spectrum is an opportunity to celebrate a different colour or colour group every month. This year Lolly kicks off the project with the colour Red for the month of May.
Check out the project's Flickr group for loads and loads of inspiration. There are also Facebook and Ravelry groups for chat and more information.
I'm Shiela, I'm very happy to be taking on p2tog and I'll be looking after your orders from now on.
It'll take a while to stock the shop with everything that Alison has been selling. I've got as much as I can online but there's more to come. Please be understanding if there are any teething problems, and please let me know if there's anything that you'd really like to see for sale that's not here already. I may already have it, I may be getting it soon, or it may be something I've not thought of, in which case I'd love to hear about it.
Thank you so much for the supportive messages and thank you to Alison for all her help too.