Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WIP Wednesday: things other than knitting

I've been doing some non-knitting things lately, so I wanted to show my other hobby WIPs this week.

First, I've become slightly obsessed with the idea of growing things since we moved into our new flat. A few weeks ago I bought one of those grow-your-own-herb kits, and I'm pleased to report that I haven't killed them yet!

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I've got parsley, basil, and chives sprouting cheerfully on the window sill. Hopefully I can keep them alive long enough to reap some delicious fresh herbs this spring.

I've also been sewing - although I got a sewing machine the Christmas before last, I haven't used it much other than for some hemming and repairs, and a few small projects. Now I've got the bug, though.

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Above, you can see most of the bits of my tweed handbag. I've actually sewn it all together since I took the photo, but I still need to attach the handle. I bought the tweed when I went to Harris last summer and dithered about choosing a bag pattern for ages until I finally settled on the Simply Stylish Bag by Lisa Lam. It's relatively simple as handbags go, but it's the most complicated thing I've sewn so far, in that it involves many layers, and interfacing, and magnetic snaps, and pockets... so I'm pretty pleased that it mostly worked out. Some wonkiness involved, but that's to be expected. FO photos coming up once I get that handle attached.

I'm linking up with Stitch-Along Wednesday this week. Click the link to check out more WIPs.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2015

How lucky I am to have such a festival in the city where I live!

EYF 2015 was this past weekend, and it did not disappoint. I didn't take any classes, but I sure exercised my stash-down exception. Wheee! As is typical, I hardly took any photos, and most of them are badly lit / blurry. Here's a glimpse of the WestKnits / Ysolda stall, though, festooned in beautifully mad colourful shawls. That sums up the yarn festival for me: beautiful and mad.

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Almost as soon as I arrived, I visited my friends at the charity yarn-winding table. EYF's charity of choice this year was the Teapot Trust, who provide art therapy to chronically ill children. EYF volunteers wound skeins into cakes for a donation to the trust, but the Teapot Trust also had a table of gift items for sale to raise funds. I bought a pair of earrings shaped like teapots from them because they were so cute.

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Then I went and bought yarn. And more yarn. I had a short list of projects to buy for, as per my stash down exception, but I was blinded by the pretties, so I didn't really stick to it.

There was so much beautiful stuff, much of it from companies I'd heard of but never seen in real life, and some of it from dyers I'd never heard of.

First up, Old Maiden Aunt. Obviously, I knew I'd spend time digging through the piles of loveliness since I'm a big fan. I ended up with this skein of 4 ply merino in the Crazy Ivan colourway. (Spot the Firefly reference.) It's impossible to describe or photograph, but think purple, teal, blue, green, and red all in subtle layers. Like an oil slick, only not shiny.

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Next, Easy Knits. This is a new-to-me dyer, which so many insane vibrant colours. Again, I ended up with merino 4 ply:
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The neon green is a bit outside my normal colour range, but it just called to me.

Finally, I stopped at Eden Cottage Yarns, and picked up some more merino 4 ply (sensing a theme?) in a lovely faceted charcoal gray.

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I didn't intend to buy solely merino sock yarn, but that's what happened. Oh well! Sometimes you just have to roll with it. As of now, the only skeins that have been assigned to a project are the neon green Easyknits and the Eden Cottage - I plan on using them together in a Pendulum shawl.

The festival seems like it was a roaring success, and I look forward to next time! Maybe I'll even take some classes. Maybe by then I'll have made some more space in my stash. Haha.

Friday, March 13, 2015

FO: Elf socks

I now have in my possession some fabulous (if I do say so myself) elf-themed socks. These were not the most enjoyable of projects, and if I made them again I would make some more changes... but I think they were worth it in the end.

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Pattern: Tauriel by Josiah Bain
Yarn: 75% wool, 25% nylon, my own hand-dyed with tea (see this post for details).

Mods: Shortened the ankle by 1 repeat, change heel to twisted-slip-stitch to keep the flow of the ribbing/cables, kind of ignored the instructions for the toes and partly winged it.

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Mistake the 1st:
I probably should have made a larger size. I balked at the cast-on stitch counts for the sizes above small; even though I do not have small feet, I rarely if ever need to cast on more than 68 stitches for socks. So, even though in my brain I knew I was a medium, I cast on for the small. As a result, the cables are stretched to maximum. Luckily, they are super-stretchy since it is basically ribbing with some cabley twists thrown in. The socks fit and are pretty comfy nonetheless, but I think they would look better a little less stretched. Oh well. Should have trusted the pattern.

Mistake the 2nd:
I shouldn't have shortened the ankles - these turned out slightly shorter than I normally like my woolly socks. Oh well. Still fine.

Mistake the 3rd:
I misjudged how long the toes would be. The pattern says to begin the toe shaping on one of several cable pattern rounds, and if the socks aren't long enough by then, to do ribbing until it gets to that point. I think mine look out of proportion because of where I started the ribbing. I probably could have gotten away with continuing the cables for longer and then doing a more rapid set of toe decreases. Never mind.

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Despite these frustrating details, I do like the socks and will wear them a lot - none of these things are bad enough to make me want to frog and start over. Definitely in the Good Enough category of FOs. I'm excited to have finally used my tea-dyed yarn, and look forward to seeing how it holds up to washing.

For those keeping track, this skein was part of my Sock Yarn Stash Match category. 3 more skeins to go!

And finally - anyone else heading to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival this weekend? I am so excited and will post a (probably incoherent, babbling) recap of events afterwards. If you see me, say hello! (I'll probably have a ravelry badge labeled Notpanicking. And probably my Colour Affection. And will be ogling the Old Maiden Aunt yarn stall, among others!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Raiun

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It's cardigan-blob day! I'm knitting Raiun by Kirsten Johnstone. I feel like it is going quickly... but then I've been at it nearly a month, according to Ravelry, and I've only just divided for the sleeves. So maybe not quickly, but obviously it is keeping me interested. I'm hopeful I'll finish this in time for warmer weather since I'm using a wool-cotton blend, and will probably leave it at 3/4 sleeves.

Check out more WIPs at Stitch-Along-Wednesday.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Stash Match: Lace Weight

It's Monday Match. That can be a thing now, right? Or not.

Since starting my Stash Match project, I've acquired more laceweight, so I now have two skeins that need projects. This was a challenge since it seems I rarely work with laceweight. (I like it when I do, but it doesn't seem to fall into my shopping cart like 4-ply does!)

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Filatura Di Crosa Centolavaggi: 1531 yards / 1400 metres, 100% merino cobweb

I've had this yarn for years. It's sentimental yarn, since it's the first yarn that my husband ever bought for me - an impulse purchase from when we visited Bologna and randomly found a yarn shop. When we got engaged I briefly harboured thoughts of using it for my wedding shawl... but then I bought a light gold / champagne coloured dress and decided that undyed yarn would be a better coordinating colour. Sentimentality has prevented me from settling on a project. Plus, that is a LOT of very fine yarn, and my style isn't particularly delicate.

I've been feeling the need for a truly challenging project, since I haven't been stretching myself much with my knitting lately. That + loads of cobweb weight yarn lead me to Malgven by Lucy Hague. I've admired her celtic-knotwork shawls for a while, so what better time to try one out? Plus, I've never made a circular shawl before. No time like the present! The pattern is written for laceweight rather than cobweb, so mine may turn out a little smaller / I made need to use different needles.

Maharashtra Silk: 800 yards/732 metres, 100% silk laceweight.

I got this yarn in a swap last year (hence the glimpse of the tasty cow-themed treats I also received). I've never used 100% silk, but I love silk blends, so I hope this will be fun to knit with. It looks like a good candidate for planned pooling, given the way it was dyed. The website I've linked has a tool for figuring out how to get your yarn to pool intentionally in different patterns, but there are also lots of patterns written for planned pooling. I've chosen the Pooling Summer Mesh Stole by Gladys We as a starting point. If I'm going to do something ridiculously complicated with my other yarn, I thought I'd do something slightly simpler with this one. I will change to something else if I find it isn't working with my yarn, of course.

That's all for this installment of Stash Match. I have a few more categories to go, and they are proving difficult, but I'll get there eventually!

Do you have stash yarn that stubbornly refuses to commit to a pattern?

Friday, February 20, 2015

FO: Luna Purpurae

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I have a new cowl(ette)!

Pattern: Luna Viridis by Hilary Smith Callis

Yarn: Sweet Georgia Cashluxe Fine

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Notes: No mods, other than accidentally doing two repeats of one of the lunar bands at the beginning, rather than alternating the direction.

This was a fun knit, and fairly quick. The yarn is so luxurious - Merino/Cashmere/Nylon - maybe the first time I've used such a blend? I can't remember. But anyway, softest ever. I do worry it will become very fuzzy in short order, but in the meantime it looks and feels lovely. The gentle variegation works pretty well with the textured stitch pattern, and I loved watching all the subtle colour variations occur as I knit.

The cowlette thing intrigued me and I'm glad I tried it. It fits well, but unlike a shawlette, I can't pull it more tightly around my neck - so it does feel different to wear. I can still tuck it in when I wear it with a jacket, plus there is a double layer of knitting since the stockinette portion folds under the textured bit, so it is still plenty cozy.

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Just in time for spring? Ah well, it'll get plenty of wear throughout the year here, I'm sure.

See more FOs here!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Wardrobe refashioning

I have this corduroy skirt that I've had for years. It is so comfortable that I haven't been able to give it up, despite its horribly faded appearance. It used to be olive green, but years of wear and washing have turned it dingy gray-green. I stopped wearing it in public because it was getting truly shabby-looking. (And not in a shabby-chic way.)

Exhibit A: Comfiest skirt in the world.
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Some time in the summer it occurred to me that I could dye it and maybe give it a renewed place in my wardrobe. I went out and bought some Dylon dye, and then packed it away and forgot about it until a few weeks ago. I bought the kind of dye that you're meant to use in the washing machine, and I was a bit nervous to try it in our rental flat, and then I just never got around to it. (Probably for the best that I didn't attempt it; since the landlord charged us for leaving a dirty bathroom mirror when we left that flat, I dread to think what would have happened if there had been any discolouration in the washing machine!) When we moved into our new place with our very own new shiny washing machine, I dug out the dye and skirt and got to work.

Exhibit B: Skirt now deep chocolate brown and once again wearable!
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It worked very well. I'm so pleased that I've been able to extend the life of this skirt, since it has been a wardrobe staple for me in years past. This was my first time dyeing in the washing machine, and it was stupidly easy. There was a bit of discolouration on the rubber ring (front-loader), but I think it was mostly pre-existing fuzz stuck to the rubber that got dyed. After a few more washes, and wiping it out with a sponge, it is pretty much gone.

Now my husband wants to try overdyeing some of his faded trousers, so we may give the machine another workout soon.

Have you ever refashioned your old clothes?