My Olympia round up is shamefully late, I know. It's the usual excuse - work, family, busy, blah, blah, blah.
Anyway, I went along on Friday to help out at the Relax & Knit stand and maybe do a bit of shopping. It was primarily a stitching show, almost all cross stitch from what I could see but there was a nice little knitting section upstairs. HipKnits were there, plus a somewhat reduced Get Knitted, Silkwood Angoras and a few others whose names I can't recall.
It was great fun on the Relax & Knit - nowhere near as manic as Ally Pally but still lots of people very enthusiastic to talk about knitting. It seemed that most people on Friday knew how to knit already and either wanted to try out some of the novelty yarns we had on the tables or learn new techniques. Domnio knitting proved very popular, courtesy of Yvonne and Mary-Lou was demonstrating the use of the Loopa to quite a few people too.
I got to meet lots of nice knitters and quite a few bloggers as well. Kerrie, of course, and Ruth. Nic was there too, helping on the Silkwood stand. I'm sure there were others who I haven't linked to - apologies if I've missed you out!
I didn't buy much at all. Get Knitted only had the self patterning sock yarns, which I have more than enough of already, so I showed restraint there. HipKnits had loads of lovely stuff, but I was good again and just bought
a couple of dye your own sock yarn packs to do with the children over Easter. If it goes well I might do it with my knitting class next term - so Kerrie, keep some packs for me!
With all the money I saved by not buying yarn I was able to buy something I had been secretly planning to get. A rather nice wooden frame to use with (ahem) this
No, you're not seeing things. That is indeed a needlepoint kit. That sound you can hear in the background? That's the maniacal laughter of Ms Woollywarbler - happy that someone else has joined her on the dark side.
Don't worry - this is still a knitting blog. It's just nice to have a change from time to time don't you think?
On Saturday I renewed my knitting credentials and met up with Polly, Amelia, MarydeB and Kay at Liberty for a couple of hours of knitting and chatting. It was lots of fun. I hadn't met Kay or Mary before and they were both very good company. I would have liked to have stayed longer but family duties called. Family commitments also meant I couldn't make it to Loop on Sunday for Kay's talk, but I hear it went very well.
Coming tomorrow (and this time it really will be tomorrow, I promise) I prove to you that I am still knitting as I reveal the latest mitred square combinations.
I was going to post about the weekend but I have been attempting to work from home today with one sick child and a laptop which refuses to connect to the wireless network. The situation was not helped by being called into school at 11 o'clock to pick up another sick child.
Still, at least they were both on hand to help with the competition results. It seemed churlish not to let them choose a number each, so there will be two winners this time round.
First up, Josie chose
Jenn, that's you!
Then Sam arose from his sickbed - actually the sofa, with Harry Potter on DVD, and chose
Congratulations to Yvette! Woolly goodness will be on its way to both of you very soon.
Thank you for all the gadget suggestions. I'm liking the sound of this mini Kacha-Kacha - must keep an eye out for that - the fact that it locks might stop the children (and occasionally the husband) thinking it's a toy, as Carol and Sarah mentioned. I am suitably impressed by Lauren's 8 Chibis and Cheryl's many, many ways with paperclips.
Quite a few of you mentioned the magnetic board. I love my one of these as well, in fact I'm thinking about getting another one, but I discounted it in this post as it doesn't really fit in the pencil case. As for tape measures - well, we could do a whole post on them alone couldn't we? I love my Clover (natch) tape measure - lovely smooth return action on it. Erin mentioned the GoKnit pouch, which I have just purchased also. Perfect size for carrying a sock around, which is the perfect commuter knitting, so I am a fan too.
Coming tomorrow, barring continuing sickness, I'll tell you what we got up to at the weekend and what I got up to at Olympia, including my purchases, one of which may cause surprise...
The subject of the Knitters Review newsletter that dropped into my inbox this morning got me thinking about gadgets.
I don't know about you, but I have a little stash of gadgets that I carry around with me. Most of them probably aren't strictly necessary, but I feel nervous if I don't have them with me.
Many years ago, I read Maggie Righetti's 'Knitting in Plain English', where she talked about carrying a pencil case with your notions in it. She also mentioned that mothers regularly carried something similar, containing tissues, sweets and other necessities. This immediately made me feel deeply inadequate and a failure for my last few years of parenting, as I had no such pencil case, despite having (at that time) a baby and a toddler. Obviously I resolved not to make the same mistake with my knitting and since then, I have faithfully carried the pencil case with me.
It is in fact rather useful to know that all my bits and pieces are in one place and can be grabbed easily as I run out the door. The rest of the family know not to touch the 'Knitting Pencil Case' as it is snappily known. I very occasionally and begrudgingly lend something from it, but it has to be returned immediately.
So, what do I have in it?
Quite a few bits and bobs. The usual suspects of course, scissors, a pen (Get Knitted, natch), crochet hooks, a needle gauge and a tape measure. The tape measure regularly wears out and has to be replaced. I am currently using a Clover one which I highly recommend, lovely return action. I also have to have a mechanical pencil and replacement leads as I prefer to use pencil over pen and living in Japan taught me the benefits of mechanical pencils over the regular kind. If you have to spend your days writing many, many intricate kanji, you need a sharp point and you don't have time to sharpen you pencil every ½ hour.
Most of the things I have listed fall into the category of necessity I think. But the things I really love fall into a different category. Sure, they're useful, but deep down you know you don't really need them. I find that most of these share a common feature.
They are made by Clover.
Clover seems to have managed to corner the market in making things that you didn't know you needed, but once you see them, you know you must, must, must have them, or else you will never knit again. Or maybe, you will knit, but your knitting will always be tinged with a slight sadness, because you don't have those Clover gadgets.
I am a total sucker for Clover. Evidence below.
3 Chibis, each containing at least 2 needles. I love the bent tips. The orange one has special thinner ones, perfect for socks.
I also love these Kacha-Kacha counters. I currently have two, both in use, so I may need to get some more. I'm thinking that maybe they need to start releasing these in different colours, like the Chibis.
Locking stitch markers. I love these so much. I'll make an embarrassing confession. I always have to have two packets of these - one in the pencil case and another, pristine, unopened package in reserve. When the pencil case package starts to look a little short, I transfer over the reserve package, but not before I've bought a new reserve. Seriously though, they are extremely useful. As well as stitch markers, they are very handy for pinning seams together while you're sewing up.
These aren't in the pencil case but they are my newest Clover toy. Coils to hold your needles together, in two different sizes.
It does my anal heart good to see all my dpns held together with appropriately sized plastic coils.
So there you have it, the gadgets and gizmos that I love.
This is my 200th post so I thought I would have a little competition. Leave a comment about your favourite knitting gadget and I will use a random number generator, otherwise known as my children, to pick a winner. You have until Sunday midnight (UK time) as I am off to Olympia tomorrow and then it's the weekend and Mother's Day so I won't be blogging and hopefully the random number generators will be making a fuss of me, with some help from their father.
I'll announce a winner on Monday, who will receive, as always, woolly goodness from my stash.
I swear it's not. Check out JenLa if you don't believe me. However it came at a very handy 'blogging fodder thin on the ground' sort of a day. Let's face it, there's only so many times you can look at a pile of mitred squares aren't there?
So here's my knitblog scavenger hunt answers.
1. A blog which you think people have not discovered.
I don't know about being undiscovered, but I like PeaSoup, which doesn't seem to have a huge number of Bloglines subscribers. I am a lurker rather than a commenter, so sorry if it seems a bit creepy to link.
2. A blog whose author lives close to you physically. Just get as close as you can, it’s all relative.
Dawn is probably the closest to me, although I'm a bit spoilt for choice in London - lots of us knitbloggers around.
3. An unusual or weird animal picture.
Nope, I've failed on that one I'm afraid.
4. An entry that made you laugh and got you strange looks from family or co-workers.
The entry where the Yarn Harlot (you don't need that link do you?) locked herself out of her hotel room in her underwear. Good job I was in the office alone that day - not that I read blogs at work, oh no, no, no.
5. An idea you wish you’d thought of.
Hmmm. Has anyone thought of an idea of a way to knit at your leisure and get paid handsomely for it?
6. Something you’d like to knit.
I am hankering to try Eunny's deep V neck argyle vest.
7. A picture of something you consider beautiful
Pretty much any of the photos you see on Yarnstorm are gorgeous.
8. A blog whose author you’d like to one day meet in person
9. A blog of someone you have already met in person.
I'm lucky to see lots of bloggers pretty regularly at the Liberty knitting group and other get togethers but Tracy was someone that I met first through blogging and then have been lucky enough to meet up with several times since.
Mitreing (is that a word? Surely it can't be mitring can it?) continues apace at the Wool Palace.
I've worked out I need 48 small squares to make a blanket 3 large squares wide and 4 long. I've done 15 so far.
It's a good job I have plenty of supplies.
I got a lot of neutral shades of DK cotton on Ebay last year when the first mitred squares frenzy hit me. Our friends don't know whether they are having a boy or a girl (very inconsiderate towards knitters don't you think?) so I am sticking to neutrals with a few bright colours thrown in for interest.
I had a play around with my stock yesterday and came up with some colour combinations I think will work well together.
I plan to edge it all with a taupe or cream border. I'm also thinking about backing it with some soft cotton, although maybe that will make it too heavy. What do you think?
Is it just me or are things a bit sock heavy at the Wool Palace at the moment? I don't know if it's the stash taking over or what, but I feel I'm becoming slightly obsessed.
Luckily for me I realised yesterday that a friend's baby is rapidly becoming due and I haven't knitted a thing.
I was going to make Book of the Month for March a baby knitting book but then I remembered these.
So no Book of the Month for March. For the rest of the month it will just be me, a bag full of Rowan DK cotton and some bamboo dpns.
Please don't talk about the number of ends that will need to be woven in.
I went to the gym this morning. When I went I had forgotten that I had promised to take the children swimming and I that I had also promised Josie a chance to go out on her rollerskates.
An hour in the gym, followed by an hour swimming, followed by a quick sandwich and then 1½ hours in the park makes one quite tired.
When we got back from the park I stuck a chicken in the oven, settled the children in front of Bill Oddie watching wildlife in South Africa, poured myself a glass of red wine and spent some time with this.
This little beauty is Badcaul, one of Anna's delightful sock patterns. I am knitting it in some Fleece Artist sock yarn, colourway Jester, that I bought from Kangaroo at the Brighton show.
I love the feeling of anticipation one gets when using a new yarn. How will it feel? Will it stripe? Will it pool? Winding it up into a ball gives one the first clues. Does it tangle? How do the colours fall?
The Fleece Artist has been a dream so far. It wound up wonderfully with no tangling and it feels lovely to knit with. Combine that with a pattern I haven't tried before and you get a recipe for satisfaction.
The cables and the slip stitches add interest without slowing down the flow of the knitting while the yarn manages to be bright without being garish.
These should be my Sockapaloooza socks - if I can give them up.
Thank you for all the tips and support over the short row heels. I am sorry to have caused some of you distress at the sight of such large, gaping holes. Rest assured, remedial action will be taken.
Yes, it was Wales. Snowdonia to be precise. In fact the photo in the previous post was of Sam and Josie in front of Yr Wyddffa, or Mt Snowdon as it is also known.
We stayed in a cottage we have rented before, in Beddgelert. The cottage is in a beautiful location at any time of year, but just take a look at the views from the balcony on Saturday morning.
Toby was meant to be ice climbing on Saturday but a combination of equipment and transportation problems meant he wasn't able to. Bad news for him, but good news for the family as it meant we did the walk we had planned for Sunday on Saturday, when the weather was at its best.
No, Tracy, we didn't tackle Snowdon itself - although I did catch Toby staring longingly up at Crib Goch. We didn't have any ice axes with us, only two small(ish) children, so stuck to gentler terrain, though still spectacular.
This is part of the Ogwen Valley. Wonderful walks in what feels like a really remote setting, yet it is accessible by a 10 minute walk from the road. We circumnavigated the (frozen) lake while watching other walkers make their way up to the Glyders and Tryfan.
Contrary to appearances in the photo, we didn't take the children out in just fleeces and tracksuit trousers. Although snowy, the sun was very warm and the valley is sheltered, so they quickly shed most of their outer layers. In fact it was so warm, we stopped for a picnic by the lake.
Here's Sam learning that while it's fun to go down, you have to come back up the hill if you want to do it again.
There was no fresh snowfall on Saturday night, but there was still a fair bit of snow around. On Sunday we did a small section of the Watkin Path and then back by another trail. Sam got to practice his map reading for cubs.
Despite the 6 hour drive each way it was a fun break. We're back in London with some colour in our cheeks, wet boots and lots of washing to do.