Sunday, February 23, 2014

Across the finishing line

I managed to get my Canyonlands Shawl finished for the end of the Ravellenic Games.
Got the ends sewn in on Friday, having cast off the night before. As usual with shawls, it doesn't look like very much until it's blocked!

Blocking. This time I used a tiny bit of Ecover delicates laundry liquid, and left it to soak for half an hour, before rinsing and squeezing dry.

And then pinned out - it's so much bigger!

And finished!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ravellenic Games - and they're off

Right, so I was all set for the start of the Ravellenic games last Friday. We'd been to Reading for the day on the train so I had to cast on on the train back. In preparation I'd wound the yarn for the shawl  into a ball:

And dug out the pattern and yarn for the cardigan WIP I need to get finished. That's a bumper pack of over 1kg of the yarn I got in a bargainous sale at Skip North years ago, rather than the amount I need to knit to get it finished!

I did a little bit of swatching for the shawl, as the top part of it is garter stitch, so I thought I'd investigate how it looked. The shawl is meant to be on 4mm needles using fingering weight yarn, but my 4mm needles were already in use for the cardigan project, so I went down to 3.75mm, as I wasn't sure if I'd have enough yarn or not.

Within five days I'd finished the first half of the shawl, which is garter stitch with increases, so straightforward. This was good TV knitting, including subtitled Scandi-crime dramas. I love the way the greens and blues are coming out in the shawl too!

Not sure how far I'll get with the Ravellenic projects though. Since I cast on the whole new lot of flooding happened, and although my home isn't affected, I've done some volunteering in a local flood relief centre, so haven't had as much time for knitting as I'd anticipated.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More flooding 2014

After the flooding last month, the waters went back down again and everything carried on as normal. Except the rain carried on, and more and more water piled down the Thames, and since the weekend the flood waters have risen again. It's been a lot worse this time, and several of our friends have had to leave their homes. Ours is absolutely fine, and we've just had a few problems getting to work (road closures and trains not running) but so far have been able to pretty much function as normal.

It has however been very strange seeing the area we live in plastered all over the news, and visited by every politician possible (wearing an array of wellies).

 This road leading to the park is becoming one with the Thames.

 Flooded multi-storey car park on the banks of the Thames.
 This is normally a semi-circular seating area on the banks of the Thames, but the river's now so high all the steps/seats are under water!
 The road under the railway bridge is now closed to traffic, although pedestrians can still walk that way as the Thames is only(!)  halfway across the road.
River Colne going through the Two Rivers shopping centre. It's usually well over a metre below this level. That's a good name for a shopping centre...

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Ravellenic games

Back in 2006 I "competed" in what was then known as the Knitting Olympics. I found this old post about it whilst hunting around on my blog for something else. And how things have changed in eight years. Not only did Ravelry not exist then, but it was three jobs and an awful lot of house moves ago. In that post, I list all the things I need to do in the Olympic timeframe:
10th - 26th February. I calculate that I have two Knit Lincs meetings, four nights away for work, nine days at work, two days in London, 300 miles of train travel and 600 miles of car travel (but with me driving) to get done in that time too.
 How things change. This time around, for the 2014 Ravellenic Games (7th - 23rd February), I'll have:
Eight days at work
 249 miles of car travel
No train travel
No days in London
No nights away
4 knitting group meetings

However, according to my across the finishing line post, in 2006 I also had all the catering provided by Mum, plus a cat to cheer me on. Back in 2006 I managed to complete two baby jumpers for Feed the Children in the time. I know my knitting has speeded up since then, but that I also have much less time available now - all those nights away for work consisted of having an early meal in a pub, then spending the entire evening sitting in a B & B knitting away. Plus the trips into London each involved about 3 hours of knitting time.

So, I've joined Team GB for the Ravellenic games. And I'm trying to decide what to knit. I am stash-busting so I don't want to buy any more yarn for it, although I was very tempted to join in with the rainbow project idea to raise awareness and protest about the appalling way LGBT people are treated in Russia.

The idea is that it should be a personal challenge for you, so I have various different ideas:
  • Age 9-10 cabled hoodie for nephew's birthday. I have to knit this anyway, and it's a pattern I know well (this will be the fourth). The challenge will be completing it in the time. It might be a good opportunity to do some more practice with continental knitting, which I haven't done for ages.
  • A secret project. Needs doing, but I won't be able to blog about it or put it on Ravelry so probably not the greatest idea.
  • A shawl in 4 ply - there won't be enough time to do one in laceweight. Not sure how feasible this is, as a lot of my knitting time recently has been whilst watching foreign language sub-titled TV, which really isn't compatible with knitting lace. I really like the Ashton shawlette, but would want to customise it up to a bigger shawl, and I don't have enough of one kind of 4ply yarn to do that, unless I use the Drops alpaca (actually a sport weight) and do stripes. I do have some Schaefer Yarn Anne which is a light fingering weight, although still not quite enough to do the bigger shawl suggested. Or there's the Misty Scarf, for which I actually already possess both yarn and pattern. Or the Juno Regina stole/wrap which looks more straightforward even if it is in laceweight.
  • I also really like the Zuzu's Petals cowl/shawlette, which the Yarn Harlot recently blogged about, but it sounds like this pattern is quite quick, so perhaps won't be challenging enough. Or I could combine it with another project too? And I don't have the right quantity of yarn again for it, unless I use the aforementioned Drops alpaca. And I'm not sure I want a stripy one. Variegated would be fine, but not stripy.
  • Then there are the sock possibilities. A simple pair of socks would only take me about 10 days, so I need something more challenging. It will have to be the stitch pattern, as I've given up with short-row heels as they just don't fit my ridiculously bony skinny heels. A few patterns are in my queue that I want to try. Aquaphobia socks: lovely pattern, but it's slip stitches so not particularly challenging? The Wraptor socks are quite exciting, but I don't think the heel will work with my feet. The Bigger on the Inside socks are quite cool, and have cables, which I haven't done on a sock before. Hermione's Everyday Socks are a definite possibility. As are the Baroque socks, which have twisted stitches/cables and a heel flap. Or the Sapient Pearwood socks, or Having Hope socks (which also has the advantage of all the pattern proceeds going to Cancer Research). I've wanted to knit the Monkey socks for ages too. And Chimaera.
  • Or Fair Isle. I'd love to knit the Sheep Carousel tea cosy, Peerie Flooers hat or Rams and yowes blanket, but I don't have the yarn necessary, so those aren't an option, and definitely the blanket isn't feasible in the time frame!
  • Or the adult size garments, although I'm really not sure how realistic that is. Possibilities here include Hey Teach, which is a cardigan involving lace. This has the disadvantage of being worked flat and needing seaming though. Liesl, which is top-down. Or the Lotus Blossom Tank, although there seems to be some negative comments about the pattern on Ravelry and I don't really want to be knitting with cotton in February.
But, after much much cogitation, the problem was solved by the arrival of this skein, as reported in my last post. And I really really really want to knit with it NOW, so I went searching around, and found the Canyonlands shawl, which looked like a good match. It's for fingering weight yarn, and can be tweaked relatively easily to get the most shawl out of the yarn. Plus, I've started wearing scarves/small shawls to work and this looked like the sort of thing I could wear with my work outfits. So, that's one event (Short Track Shawls) sorted. This one also qualifies for the Lace Luge and Single Skein Speed Skate events.

I had a look at my hibernating projects list, which isn't that long, and decided to have a go at finishing this wrapover cardigan. Started in January 2008, last knitted in June 2008. It appears to have two fronts, a back, one sleeve and a bit of a sleeve, so it just needs one sleeve finishing, the border knitting, blocking and then seaming. So, I have an entry in WIPs Dancing too.

No idea if all this is feasible in the time I've got available, but we shall see...
Are you competing in the Ravellenic Games this time too?

Monday, February 03, 2014

Knitting gifts

A friend is expecting a baby in early February and several of us at knitting group had made things for the baby, so we had an evening of handing over presents. They don't know the sex of the baby, so I played safe and went with purple yarn. This is another Beyond Puerperium, as I love the pattern, it's very clearly written with multiple sizes and yarn weights possible. The yarn used is Rico Baby Classic DK, which I've used before for this pattern. It has nice colours and it machine washable, plus very soft and doesn't feel like acrylic, even though it is. According to my notes I only used 70g of yarn, although that doesn't seem like enough?!

I found these immensely cute ladybird buttons at the local haberdashery. They had red ones too, but that didn't look quite right with the purple. I also found this style of button much easier to sew on.

We had a great evening admiring the ingenious things that had been knitted by the group.

And, last week, I received some yarn in the post. This was from Mostly Knitting, who had come joint first of the Sock Sniper competition, and so had won loads and loads of skeins of sock yarn. She offered to post a skein of it to someone who wrote a comment on her blog about why they deserved a skein of sock yarn. I pointed out that I was the one who got her into knitting in the first place, and this gorgeous skein was posted to me:

Especially good timing as I was having one of those weeks, and this cheered me up no end! It is Butterfly Moon by Alina Shea Creations and the colours are amazing. I may already have a plan for it, but more in another post...

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Garden at the beginning of February 2014

Not a great deal different from last month, really on the bigger picture. It's still been really mild and rather wet still.

However, take a closer look and things are really moving on. The hellebore has several flowers on it now.

The snowdrops are flowering. 

In the cold frame the half-hardy fuchsias are still flowering(!).

And the cyclamen have emerged, as well as the first sign of the tulips in the containers.

Even the campanula is flowering.

And the first crocuses.

Spring definitely seems to be on the way, but it is only the beginning of February so a lot of winter could still happen!