Where did April go?

April seems to have slid past without making so much as a gentle ripple on the surface of my life. I've been deep in gift knitting/crochet which is (thankfully) nearly finished - many of the friends-who-I-make-stuff-for have birthdays in April and May so at least I get time during the summer to cast on a few things for myself before the Christmas present rush begins. 

Latest off the hook is this blanket for Liz's birthday and I'm really pleased with how the colours of Jitterbug and Koigu work together.

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Flossie the Faithful Companion has spent much of the month asleep; when awake, she veers between being seriously in-your-face pushy

Pushy
 
and won't-look-you-in-the-eyes shy.

Shy


Now, what have I been up to?

A lot of crochet and knitting, mainly for presents so unbloggable at the moment. Projects on the needles include a Nuvem (Rav link) which is about half done; it's growing very slowly now with umpteen stitches to a round. I haven't counted the stitches because the enormous number would seriously put me off doing any more and I don't want it to lurk unfinished...

The weather has been fairly unspeakable until a couple of days ago when the big yellow thing in the sky appeared for more than a couple of minutes at a time and the wind changed to a gentle breeze. In spite of the lousy weather, my balcony pots are looking lovely - mainly pansies and violas in white, lilac, purple and yellow.

Balcony_flowers

I've finally got rid of the pigeons - 30 quid's worth of bird spikes has done the trick and I can now enjoy sitting outside in peace without pigeon crap everywhere. My balcony does have a certain Alcatraz feel to it though...

Spikes

Flossie's very happy and enjoying the outside world and the sun. Here she is, soaking up the last bit of yesterday's sunshine.

Catching_rays


Knitted gifts

Now that January has got into its stride, here's a look at gifts I made for Christmas.

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Mitts_for_Liz2

Fingerless mittens for Liz in hand dyed high twist merino; my own design using a stitch pattern from a Japanese stitch dictionary.

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Elise shawls for Kris and her mum in hand dyed BFL sock.

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Long crochet scarf with fringe for Julie; my own design in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.

On the what's-on-the-needles-now front, not much. Huldran is progressing slowly (lovely, lovely Wollmeise) and there are a couple of pairs of plain vanilla socks on the go. I think I'd better go cast something else on! 


Pause

The days between Christmas and New Year feel slightly odd to me - like someone's pressed a pause button. Way back when, New Year's Day was only a Bank Holiday in Scotland and life south of the border got back to normal straight after Boxing Day. I can't say that I like this time of year either.

Right, that's the grumble out of the way. Not a lot happening at Wibbo Towers apart from generally mindless knitting and a little excitement after finding a terrific crochet block pattern which looks perfect for using up my bits and pieces of yarn. It's this one

and it's free to download here. I really should finish a couple of things first then it's out with the hooks...


Busy, busy, busy

Brighton Craft Guerrilla will be at Craftaganza's Christmas Market at Fabrica on December 10 and I'm busy dyeing, stitching and crocheting all manner of stuff for the stall. The venue's nice and central and we're looking forward to plenty of visitors wandering round and (hopefully) buying! I'll post more details nearer the date.

Dyeing_September2011

This is the latest batch of sock yarn ready to be skeined and labelled; I'd better go do just that...


Now, where was I?

The last few months have sped past. I'm reminded of that Douglas Adams quote I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. 

There have been several deadlines at Wibbo Towers, albeit self-imposed ones. The first one was to make a wedding present for Steph and Benn - a ripple stitch crochet blanket.

Blanket_detail

Blanket_card

Blanket_finished

Then there was a shawl from Steph to wear at her wedding. She chose the Misty Blossom Stole pattern (ravelry link) and wanted a bright red semi-solid yarn to match one of the flower colours in her dress.

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Dyed_yarn

Shawl1

Shawl2

Shawl4

I was really pleased with how this turned out (as was Steph!) - I knitted it exactly to pattern apart from substituting a narrow picot edge for the original lace edging.


My knitting and crochet time

Write about your typical crafting time. When is it that you are likely to craft - alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys?

I'm happily retired and these days can do as much or as little knitting, crochet, embroidery, sewing as I fancy. After over thirty years designing and making things for clients and publishers, it's a joy to be able to make exactly what I want.

I ease into a typical day with a mug of tea and an hour or so's knitting or crochet.

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I'm usually supervised by Fearsome Miss Flossie who sits by my feet waiting patiently for her breakfast. 

I haven't had a television since 2001 and much of my crafting is accompanied by audio books, radio programmes or music, with the occasional film DVD when I'm knitting something that doesn't need concentration.

Day7_audio_books

I live round the corner from an excellent library (name-checking Hove Library) which has a really good, constantly changing audio book selection (above is yesterday's haul) and I also have a subscription to Audible. Music-wise, I listen to classical music, opera, rock, folk, jazz and I'm a big fan of Radio 5 live's football coverage.

Day7_music

I try and balance hours spent crafting by myself with regular company in the shape of a couple of knitting groups (Brighton Knitters and Knit & Natter at Cocoon) and with regular exercise walking by the sea. 

Day7_down_the_road

This is the last of this year's Knitting and Crochet Blog Week's posts - thanks for the comments and see you again next year :o)

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Where are they now?

Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something you sent off to charity.

Many years ago (sometime during the 80s) I crocheted a huge bedspread in hexagon motifs using Rowan's Lightweight DK. The yarn came in an enormous range of colours and in 25g/70m skeins. I couldn't afford to buy all the yarn at once, so I used to pick up a fivers-worth at a time from Reis Wools in Holborn. I had no colour plan in my head and because the hexagons were joined together as I worked, I couldn't make any changes once they were in place. The small inner voice of doubt in my head should have warned me, but I ignored it and pressed on. And on. And on. Until the bedspread was finished and I'd worked several rows of edging round it. At that point, trying it out on the bed made me realise with horror that I absolutely hated the colours. All that hideous yellow! What on earth had I been thinking of?

Illfated2

Illfated1

So I folded up the bedspread and put it away, firmly out of sight, where it stayed for the best part of fifteen years. Then it occured to me that I could unpick the whole thing and re-use the yarn. That way madness lies; I soon abandoned the unpicking, (don't faint) cut the bedspread into four and ran the pieces through my washing machine a couple of times. I ended up with nice thick felt and the colours didn't look too bad because they'd faded slightly in the wash and each hexagon had shrunk to about half its original size.

Two thicknesses made a comfy seat pad for my studio chair

Chair_cushion

Favourite_perch

and some is in use as a cat perch handy rug to take down to the beach. 

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Skill + 1UP

Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year.

It's been a curate's egg sort of year. I learnt and used some new techniques but these were balanced out by a lot of frogging of projects that I wasn't totally convinced about. If I'm not enjoying knitting/crocheting something, or I don't think it'll fit/suit me, then I frog it.

Mandala_clues1_2

I discovered, practised and perfected working a belly button start (brilliant) and got halfway through a circular shawl in laceweight before I had an attack of it-looks-too-much-like-a-doily and frogged it. However, learning something new is never wasted and I'll use the technique again next time I knit a square shawl. I like square shawls, they don't look like doilies ;o)

Pine_tree1

Pine_tree_detail

I knitted a shawl pattern that had a section of lace-on-both-sides patterning across the border section. The finished shawl looks really pretty but confirmed my previous opinion that I don't enjoy working this type of lace stitches even in an easy-to-handle yarn like Koigu; I much prefer purling wrong-side rows.

Mitten1

I designed and knitted a pair of mittens that actually fitted me properly (small hands, short fingers) and wrote the pattern up rather than leaving it in scrappy note form (this is a major step for me).

Colours_DK2

Exhausted

I learnt much more this year about dyeing yarn from Ravelry forums, a friend who dyes fabric and through trial-and-error. I'm much more confident now about dyeing the colours/effects that I want and getting a dyebath to exhaust. 

  Japanese_crochet_books

In the next year, I plan to get better acquainted with Japanese crochet patterns. I have books, yarn and hooks, so no excuses! 

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Not a lot going on...

...that's blogable. Knitting and crochet projects at the moment are mainly gifts of the birthday and wedding variety; funny how you come across lots of patterns you're keen on making for yourself when you're busy doing other stuff!

I finished knitting a new shawl before the gift-creating started.

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The pattern's called Yggdrasil and it shows off the long colour changes of the yarn (Rico's Superba Poems sock yarn) nicely. I had about 5g left from a 100g ball of the Candy colourway.