Sorry Peggy, I know I said I would post this yesterday, but I was overcome with wetlands fever.
The first Stashbuster Spirals is complete.
I am so happy with this sock. The colours have come together in a most serendipitous way. The 'stretched out' look for the Regia Jacquard is extremely pleasing, as is the way the Lorna's Laces coordinates with the green variegated yarn.
You may have noticed from the photo that I have done the toe and the heel in the same yarn, rather than in two different ones as specified in the pattern. This was a deliberate decision. I wasn't really taken by the look of the toe, heel and cuff each being done in a different yarn; I preferred a slightly subtler look so I chose to match toe and heel and then do a different cuff, which I think has worked out well. Lorna's Laces may not be the most sturdy of the three yarns but I felt it coordinated best with the other two.
Anna asked if there was any special trick for knowing if you have enough yarn. I just weighed the oddments I had and figured that as they came to 100g that would be enough for a pair. I then halved each colour so I have equal amounts for each sock. That way I know Sock 2 can have the same toe and heel as Sock 1.
Here's an 'on the foot' shot.
This shot reveal the major problem with these socks.
They are too big for me. See the baggy heel? The toe is baggy too, although you can't see it as clearly in the photo. I had intended these to be for me, so why I didn't check the length more carefully I don't know.
However, all is not lost. I have a friend who has slightly longer feet than I. She is also a friend who should have had some socks from me before now and totally deserves a pair. She is the sort of person who will appreciate hand knitted socks, plus she hasn't had the best time of it recently. We had arranged to meet up on Wednesday, so I took the sock in progress along with me for her to try - now I'm appreciating the whole toe-up thing. It fits perfectly, so when Sock 2 is done they will be on their way to her.
I wonder is it karma that this is one of the few pairs of socks I'm having a hard time parting with? When I tried on the finished sock the other night, just to see how it looked, it felt so soft, I really did sigh, 'I wish this sock fitted me'. Am I being taught a lesson for not getting on and knitting my friend a pair before now? I don't know, but I do know I'm going to be doing another pair of these very soon.
I know I've said it before, but today was a beautiful day. 21 degrees in late October insists that you must be outside. The children and I consulted. London Zoo was mooted, but quashed by me due to travelling time. We would not leave until after lunch and it closes at 4.30pm, meaning a three hour trip to the zoo would work out at over £10 per hour - too much even for a half term treat.
I have been wanting to visit the Wetlands Centre ever since it was opened. We often pass its brown sign as it is on our route out of London to Taunton. I am a sucker for brown signs. For those of you outside of the UK, brown signs generally indicate a tourist/family attraction and are placed in strategic points on main traffic routes in order to entice you in. They raise opposing feelings in Toby and me; I want to go, he doesn't. Most drives en famille are punctuated with me crying, 'We should go there', with him countering, 'We don't have time/it's too expensive/it will be too crowded'. Up until now, my strongest brown sign feelings have been aroused by the Wetlands Centre and Longleat - also on the way to Taunton. I am still working on Longleat and am confident I will succeed, but it seemed that the Wetlands Centre would have to be accomplished on my own. Longleat will require Toby's cooperation as we need the car in order to survive - I will persevere.
I was able to lure the children into my plan by judicious showing of the website, so off we trotted after a hasty cheese sandwich lunch.
We weren't disappointed. If you live in London I highly recommend a visit. It is a 10 minute train ride from Clapham Junction, followed by a 10 minute walk or 5 minute bus ride. Once you're inside the 105 acre site it's hard to believe you're in London, such is the feeling of space.
One part of the centre is divided into various habitats, providing you with opportunties to see the birds close up. Sam and Josie had taken sketchbooks and made good use of them.
We also took photos. These were our favourite birds. Josie thought, 'They were trying to look smart as they knew they were having their photo taken'. She wasn't far wrong, as the information board said, 'Watch them spend hours preening themselves and each other'.
The centre makes good use of the natural materials found in wetlands. This is the fence round one of the lagoons.
Most of the site is taken up by a vast manmade wetland, with a variety of habitats designed to appeal to native and migratory birds. Dotted around it are hides of different shapes and sizes from which one can observe the birds. These aren't just for show, there were lots of serious 'twitchers' there, kitted out with high spec telescopes and cameras. Strict 'hide rules' had to be observed - no loud noises, no running etc. Josie and I were so engrossed we didn't even notice Sam taking this picture.
I even managed to get a little knitting done while the children sketched. We stayed until 20 minutes before closing and I had to be strict to get the children to leave. What better recommendation can there be?
It's been all socks all the time at the Wool Palace this weekend. Toby's socks are done.
Nice and bright, just the way he likes them.
Thank you for all your suggestions on using up the odds and ends. I will definitely be using some of the ideas in the near future.
For now I have started another pair of Stashbuster Spirals. I had a look at the scraps I had and these three seemed to go together nicely.
From the top, Lana Grossa green variegated, Regia Jacquard in browns and greys and lastly Lornas Laces in Baltic colourway. I really like the way they are knitting up, it's interesting to see how the Regia fairisle pattern is broken up by the other two yarns; a nice subtle effect I think.
It's good to do a toe up sock for a change. However, I have yet to be convinced about the merits of toe up versus top down. I find the figure of eight cast much slower and more fiddly than grafting the toe stitches together. I wasn't very happy with how the heel turned out on my last toe up pair, so it remains to be seen how I handle it this time.
These will be my 9th pair of socks this year. Do you think I can make it 10 before the end of October?
So the colder weather is creeping up. The mornings are definitely chillier and I am starting to send the children to school in their coats as opposed to denim jackets and hoodies, much to their disgust.
At this time of year a knitter's thoughts turn to the extremities of the body and how to cover them - hats, scarves, gloves, mittens and socks. All lovely things to knit, as they are quick to do and don't use too much yarn.
To spur me on I have joined a few Knitalongs. Gloves and mittens will be coming soon, but first it is time for Socktoberfest.
Now, I know we are more than halfway through October, but I am still going to give it my best shot. I've been having a think about how I can best channel the energy of Socktoberfest into my sock knitting.
I thought it would be good to look at my sock failures through the year and think about what I can do to make amends.
Without further ado, I give you, The Sock Hall of Shame.
First up, on the left are the too narrow Rib & Cable socks in Koigu. These were destined for Sockapal2za but never made it due to the narrowness of the first sock. I have started another one on larger needles but haven't made any progress for at least 2 months.
On the right are some socks for Toby in Opal Brazil (I think). These are not stalled as such, just taking a very long time due to the daunting length needed to fit his feet. What is the need for a 10 inch foot? Why did I think that a ribbed sock would be a good idea?
In the middle are the most shameful of my sock failures. These are the Retro Rib socks, in Lang Jawool. I actually completed a pair of Retro Ribs in Koigu for the first Sockapalooza exchange. The Lang ones were meant to be a practice run, which should give you an idea of how long this one sock has been languishing in the WIP pile.
So, what to do? Well, I think I need a plan that I can stick to. The socks for Toby will be finished first as I am working on them at the moment. I will not let the idea of the 10 inch foot stop me, I will have them done by the end of the week.
As for the other two; my first thoughts were that I would rip out the Retro Rib and finish then Koigu ones, but having had both socks out I have changed my mind. The Retro Rib is so comfortable to wear that I think I am going to knit its mate and give myself a lovely new pair of socks. I will rip back the Rib & Cable socks and use the Koigu for something else.
I think I can achieve all that and leave myself some time before the end of October, which leads me on to my other Socktoberfest project. I want to use up my sock yarn scraps.
Scraps is the wrong word really as there's quite a bit of some of it. It's all nice stuff, Koigu, Lorna's Laces, Opal and Regia. So, I'm looking for some tips here - does anyone have any good patterns for using up odds and ends? I've done the Stashbuster Spirals and may well do it again, but I would love to hear your ideas on using up this lot.
Because, once I've used the odds and ends up, I'm free to dive into this.
Time for the Ally Pally spill I think.
First up I need to say that a combination of very busy days and pooey dull weather has meant that there are only flash photos. Not the best for showing the yarn, but hopefully it will do the job.
I think I was pretty restrained this year. There wasn't anything yelling, 'Buy me', plus so much great stuff can be got easily by mail order in the UK these days, so I didn't feel compelled to splurge too much.
A far away photo was necessary to include my star purchase, the umbrella swift from Handweaver's Studios. I have wanted one for ages. I had been using the tactic of loud sighing, 'If only I had an umbrella swift' every time I wound up a ball of wool, but Toby didn't get the hint so I had to take matters into my own hands. A very good thing to purchase at a show as it's a pretty heavy thing to get sent through the post. Mind you, it's also a pretty heavy thing to carry back home with you, especially when the journey home includes a stop at NikeTown Oxford Circus to pick up your 10K race t-shirt and a trip on the non-existent Northern Line. All that was erased from my mind the first time I clamped it to the table, opened it up and spun it round. Umbrella swift, I think I love you.
Moving along now.
From the left, laceweight scarf kits and a 200g skein of laceweight, all from Touch Yarns; Socka sock yarn from Web of Wool; at the back are 2 cones of 4 ply from Uppingham Yarns, one merino, one lambswool; a skein of Fyberspates sock yarn and 2 skeins of Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn from Get Knitted; in the middle are the latest issue of Vogue Knitting, a steal at £2.00, a couple of patterns from Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop and assorted Clover notions from Get Knitted and Web of Wool. Not in the photo are some nice short Clover dpns, 16cm, which I find the perfect length; so perfect that they are currently being used to knit a pair of socks. I also bought a book on Temari balls, as I have been wanting to have a go at these for a while.
I've been comparing my purchases this year against last year. I am definitely much more focused on socks and lace this year. Last year I bought from Kaalund and Colinette, neither of which inspired me this year. I spent about the same at Touch this year as last year, so that obviously still appeals. This year I was very tempted by Jamiesons, whereas last year I don't think I even visited their stand. The idea of buying 4 ply on cones wouldn't have occured to me last year.
Despite my changing tastes I have used everything I bought last year and I hope I will do the same with this year's purchases. It will be interesting to see what next year brings.
Ally Pally was just as fun as I thought it would be. Polly has done a brilliant round up of the highlights of the show, so I won't attempt to compete with her.
The day didn't start off too well, with heavy rain and the Northern line being closed. I also had to delay my leaving time slightly as there was a little bit of emergency sewing needed on the Viennese Shrug - it seems that the third wash had stretched it a little and the armholes needed sewing up a bit. Nothing that couldn't be fixed with a little mattress stitch.
I bumped into Dawn on the shuttle bus on the way up the hill so we were able to consult and make sure that there were no shopping opportunites left unmarked on the floor plan.
Once inside, it was a case of divide and conquer. I shopped mainly on my own, but met up with the girls for lunch and a much needed coffee later in the afternoon. Poor Tracy had a rather longer coach ride than expected, so missed out on lunch, but we managed to meet up with her quite a few times through the day.
Amelia, Jacinta and Polly admiring the famous Poetry.
The trend for more knitting stands seems to have carried on from last year. There was so much to see and fondle. I finally got to meet Kerrie in the flesh. Her stand was looking lovely and she had able assistance from her father (just don't ask him about tension or needle sizes). Kristine, Aimee and Cindy were doing sterling work on the Debbie Bliss stand.
Silkwood's stand was looking wonderful.
Web of Wool had an impressive display of sock yarn - Jacinta and Amelia certainly seemed interested.
Get Knitted's stand was incredibly busy - it was hard to see past the customers for most of the day. They had wonderful displays of Lorna's Laces, Cherry Tree Hill and Fyberspates yarns. But a rumour was spreading through the hall that there might also be some Koigu lurking in a box. We approached Sue to investigate further.
Apparently the UPS van had pulled up as Sue and the gang were leaving for Ally Pally. With no time to spare, they had taken the box of Koigu with them but hadn't had a chance to unpack it. Well, what else could a knitter do? Polly, Amelia and myself volunteered to take care of it for them.
See how happy Amelia looks?
See how she opens the box? Her hands are moving too fast for the camera to capture.
Don't worry, there should still be some left. I was repeating Polly's mantra, 'If I can order it, I don't need to buy it'. I almost lost strength when confronted with a wall of Cash Iroha, but as there were only 10 skeins in each colour I resisted.
So, the highlights for me? Touch Yarns were as fabulous as last year, I'm sure Polly will agree with me. Jamieson's had lots of lovely laceweight, plus all of their pattern books to drool over. Alchemy Yarns were just beautiful. GMC were selling the latest Vogue Knitting for £2.00 an issue and it's a good one.
What did I buy? Well, you'll have to wait for that I'm afraid. I have 5 boys descending on me in less than half an hour, as somebody in this house is turning 9 tomorrow...
I never go out on Saturday night anymore. Saturday night used to be all about getting dressed up, meeting friends and going to clubs. Now Saturday night is usually about renting a DVD and having some wine and maybe a takeaway. Oh the joys of parenthood.
This Saturday (that's the one just gone) was different. I got to go out. True, I didn't dress up and I did buy some wine, but I still went out, in the dark, on my own. Which is pretty exciting.
Even more exciting was the fact that I was hooking up with Kristine and Aimee at their swish 'garden' flat in Knightsbridge. Jacinta, Sharon and I went along for a wine and cheese soiree and we had a lot of fun. Things got kicking once we got iTunes going on the laptop and there was plenty of 80s music for us to listen to.
There was a mirrored wall in the living room, so where better to indulge in a knitting fashion show?
Aimee modelling the Shaped Edge Jacket, also from Simply Soft.
The star of the show was the Bolero Jacket from the cover of Simply Soft. We all tried it on and agreed it is the sort of thing you wouldn't necessarily pick to knit from the photo, but once you've tried it, you want it.
See how happy I look? Obviously I hadn't seen my hair for a couple of hours. I had it cut the next day.
We also had a look at Mermaid which was a lot shorter than I had pictured. However, it hadn't been blocked and even a short Mermaid looked beautiful.
Once we were done modelling, there was plenty of time to knit and chat.
Sharon with her lovely Clapotis.
Kristine working on her Marlowe from the new Jaeger book.
Good wine, good food and good friends - what more could one ask for on a Saturday night? For the record, Aimee was still wearing the bolero jacket when I left to get the bus home.