Wednesday, April 08, 2015

WIP Wednesday: breaking my own rules

First, I wanted to say thanks to everyone who found me via the Love Your Blog challenge and stayed to take a look. It's crazy how many blogs I've added to my blogroll just from Monday's festivities - I'm looking forward to finding even more fun reads over the coming weeks!

Second, I have a newish WIP that is breaking all the rules.

I'm making some plain socks using a Fleegle Heel, as a gift.

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The yarn is Fyberspates Sheila's Sock, and it's not electric blue like it appears - more periwinkles and purples.

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Rules broken:

No Vanilla Socks

This isn't a hard and fast rule, but I have so many non-vanilla sock patterns in my queue/favourites that I never have any desire to make plain ones. Unless they are stripey. But these are going really quickly, so maybe these will change my mind about vanilla socks. Also I might try something fun and fancy at the cuff, but I haven't decided what yet.

Deviating from the Stash Match project

I gave myself plenty of scope for changing my mind when I started the stash match project, so it's really fine. This is the first major change I've made, though, so it feels a bit rebellious. The yarn is just a perfect colour for the intended recipient, and I'm still feeling a bit burnt out on cables from my last socks, so I currently have no desire to make the project I originally allocated the yarn for, as gorgeous as it is. There will be other yarns and I may yet come back to it.

Using my "too pretty for socks" yarn, for socks

I have all my digits crossed that it will be okay, since these are meant to be bed socks, and the yarn is technically superwash. somehow knitting gift socks out of obscenely pretty yarn seems more justifiable to me. I know this is irrational, since I should totally use the best for myself, and I can't know if the gift recipient is going to take care of the socks lovingly... but there it is.

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So there it is. Do you have any knitting rules, and do you like to break them?

Linking up with Stitch Along Wednesday this week.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Interactions and community

A Playful Day

The delightful writer/podcaster behind A Playful Day has come up with a new blogging challenge for April that is all about loving your blog. Since I am certainly guilty of leaving my blog unloved over the last year or so, I thought I'd use this opportunity to try and jumpstart some creativity etc etc.

Interactions and community is the theme for this week. I almost didn't participate this week because I thought, what can I say about community that everyone else on the internet won't already have said? But then I thought, this is about me getting out of a blogging rut, and maybe being more introspective that usual and posting about things I don't normally post about is a way to attempt that. It doesn't have to be about being ground-breakingly original. (Hopefully not, anyway.) So. Apologies if you've heard this all before.

Like many knitters today, most of my experiences with the knitting/crafting community happen via the internet. Ravelry is awesome, etc etc - I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be an obsessive knitter without it, because it is an excellent information resource as well as being an interesting community. I've been fortunate to make friends through Ravelry that I never would have met otherwise, and these people have enriched my knitting life as well as my personal life.

Sounds a bit too sentimental? Well, I should probably also mention that the first real-life friends I made when I moved countries were in the knitting group I joined. (A knitting group I found out about on Ravelry, obviously). How's that for sentimental? It's not the only knitting group in town, and I did try a few, but this is the one that I felt like I fit into immediately. Even though we've had to change our venue several times over the years, and membership is fluid, it's the heart of my knitting community. It means that knitting isn't always a solitary activity for me any more, and we all benefit from tips and tricks in addition to chat.

And cake - must not forget cake.

(I meant to take a picture at our last meeting, but I was distracted by knitting and eating cake, so you'll just have to imagine.)

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Blog love

In case you've missed it, A Playful Day is hosting the Love your Blog challenge, starting tomorrow. Every week there will be a new topic to inspire blog people. I know my blog is in need of some attention given my neglect over the last year or two, so hopefully this will help.

A Playful Day

Come join in!

Friday, April 03, 2015

FO: Tweed Handbag

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It's finished!

Pattern: Simply Stylish Handbag by Lisa Lam

Fabric: Harris Tweed and quilting cotton

Notes: This was my most involved sewing project to date. It involved lots of really narrow seam allowances and handling many layers of fabric at the same time. Also a magnetic snap closure, which turns out is actually super fun to install. The pattern was pretty straight forward, but the physical execution of it gave me trouble at times, since I'm not that experienced with sewing. There's one area where the pattern cuts out and misses a step, so I found myself winging it a bit, but it all worked out in the end.

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The handle came from U-Handbag, where I bought the pattern. It was surprisingly difficult to sew on, and I made a right mess of it on the inside. If I was more of a perfectionist I would have ripped it out and started over, but I was just anxious to get it finished. And nobody is going to look on the inside of my bag, anyway.

The lining is actually purple, not as blue as it appears, and the tweed is black, purple, and teal.

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Mods: I added a fabric loop for keys (as shown above - I neglected to consider the difficulty of photographing the inside of a dark bag, but you get the idea), and an inside pocket (shown below.) I need to get a better carabiner, since the one I used doesn't stay shut.

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I followed this tutorial to add a pocket to the inside, since I don't feel comfortable keeping my phone in the outside pocket.

All in all, I'm very pleased with my bag! I formerly used a bag with a cross-body strap, so using this shorter shoulder strap is taking some getting used to, but the bag is generally the right size for my gear. I won't use it when being a tourist in a very crowded place prone to thieves, since the bag doesn't fully close at the top - the only closure is the small tab across the front that snaps to the body. Maybe for my next bag I'll make something a little less easy to pick-pocket. Still, for every day use it is awesome and I'm proud of myself for making it!

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By the way, it's Fiber Arts Friday - check out some more fibre-related projects there. (Tweed counts as fibre art, yes?)

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!)