Sunday 29 April 2012

3KCBWDAY7: Crafting Balance

Crafting Balance

 Are you a knitter or a crocheter, or are you a bit of both ? If you are monogamous in your yarn-based crafting, is it because you do not enjoy the other craft or have you simply never given yourself the push to learn it ? Is it because the items that you best enjoy crafting are more suited to the needles or the hook ? Do you plan on ever trying to take up and fully learn the other craft ? If you are equally comfortable knitting as you are crocheting, how do you balance both crafts ? Do you always have projects of each on the go, or do you go through periods of favoring one over the other ? How did you come to learn and love your crafts ?

Well, I can crochet, and it is something I definitely wanted to do more of this year; but you know how it is, other stuff gets in the way. I also patchwork and embroider on an irregular basis. In comparison, knitting and crochet are 'quick' hobbies - if you only have a few minutes, you can pick it up and do a few rows/rounds (depending on the complexity of your pattern) in whatever time you have available; embroidery and patchwork, for me, are pastimes where I need to be able to devote a chunk of time to it so that I can focus and get into the 'flow' of what I'm doing.Sewing is also where my cursing is at its most inventive - I very rarely feel the need to swear when I'm knitting.

In addition, all the detritus equipment and other bits and bobs that are needed are not the kind of things where you can simply whip them in and out of whatever storage you have them in - they kind of have to be a semi-permanent fixture, or else you spend more time setting up and then packing up than you do crafting. Unless you are one of those very fortunate people with a dedicated craft room and a child  who is named something other than 'Destructo Boy' ....

My most recent crochet was the edgings and cuffs on this jacket for Milly; I find it much easier to improvise without a pattern in crochet, for some reason:

Oh, this is Milly:

And the patchwork I've done since the last KCBW (here and here), Mini Diva's pinker than pink cushion with appliqued hearts:

Which I didn't know she was so over pink until after I'd made it. Of course.

But actually, where I really need to find balance is between the internet and crafting. Because I am so nosy, and never want to miss out on anything, it is easy for me to get sucked into surfing for hours on the things I am interested in; the forums which cover my interests are, I guess, the biggest time-suck. But then, if I didn't surf, I would never find out about the latest patterns, soaps, decks, fabrics, yarns, techniques ....if you are reading this, then I know you totally get where I'm coming from with this.

So I'm off to Google 3KCBWDAY7 and lose yet more crafting time in the abyss of other crafting blogs ....

Saturday 28 April 2012

3KCBWDAY6: Improving Your Skillset

Crystal Vision Tarot

Improving Your Skillset

How far down the road to learning your craft do you believe yourself to be ? Are you comfortable with what you know or are you always striving to learn new skills and add to your knowledge base ? Take a look at a few knitting or crochet books and have a look at some of the skills mentioned in the patterns. Can you start your amigurumi pieces with a magic circle, have you ever tried double knitting, how's your intarsia ? If you are feeling brave, make a list of some of the skills you have not yet tried but would like to have a go at, and perhaps even set yourself a deadline of when you'd like to have tried them by.

I had a quick look at last year's KCBW post about this topic, to see if I'd set myself any targets. I've actually achieved  two of them, I was surprised to discover: I've learned to read lace charts, and I've made a lace shawl (actually, 9 shawls). The Starflower Estonian Lace Baby Blanket remains unknitted, as does anything from the 'Victorian Lace Today' book.

Instead, the unanticipated new thing I tried was intarsia:

And I shan't be bothering again, as for me, the results do not justify the hassles.

For next year, I have decided I have no goals or targets as far as learning new skills goes: knitting is a pastime I use for enjoyment and relaxation, and as such, is not the place for targets and goals of improvement, even if self-imposed. I don't enjoy the words 'must', 'should' and 'ought' in my hobbies.

If I want to make something, and it involves learning a new skill or two, then I will learn the new skill; but I shall not be trying to learn something just for learning's sake. Yes, not my usual attitude to learning, and I am feeling somewhat mardy, how did you guess ?

There are far more sunny posts to be found by Googling 3KCBWDAY6 ....

Friday 27 April 2012

3KCBWDAY5: Something a Bit Different

Tarot of the New Vision

Something a Bit Different

It's back, and this time it has the most amazing of prizes (look for the prize for 'most creative post'). This was a massive success last year, and for many it was the highlight of the Blog Week, so this year you are challenged, again, to find a new way of blogging.

This is an experimental blogging day to try and push your creativity in blogging to the same level that you perhaps push your creativity in the items you create. There are no rules of a topic to blog about, but this post should look at a different way to present content on your blog. 

The grand prize for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, as donated by JenACKnitwear and Fyberspates will be given to the most creative blog post after a nomination and voting round, and due to the immensity of the prize it really is worth putting a bit of time and effort into this. At the very least you will get an amazing post out of it.  


Well, I didn't quite know what to do, as inspiration has been sadly lacking. So I thought I would inflict some poetry on you - but not just my own;  oh no, I am far more wicked and evil devious  generous and encouraging than that. I shall also inflict other people's poetry on you. I might even make you inflict torture gift us with the blessing of your own carefully wrought rhyming stanzas, if you are not very, very careful. 

But hey ! There is a plus side. There will be a prize, so make sure I have a way of contacting you ... entries must be in by Friday 4th May, 2012.

Do please feel free to nominate this post here.

So without further ado, the apparently hardcore poet that is me proudly presents my very own cinquain:


                                                          Knitting, poetry

                                                  Ponder, verse, comment

                                                  Creative brain wins yarn

                                                                     Enter ! 

Thursday 26 April 2012

3KCBWDAY4: A Knitter for All Seasons

Whimsical Tarot

A Knitter for All Seasons

As spring is in the air in the northern hemisphere and those in the southern hemisphere start setting their sights for the arrival of winter, a lot of crocheters and knitters find that their crafting changes along with their wardrobe. Have a look through your finished projects and explain the seasonality of your craft to your readers. Do you make warm woollens the whole year through in preparation for the colder months, or do you live somewhere that never feels the chill and so invest your time in beautiful homewares and delicate lace items. How does your local seasonal weather affect your craft?

Well, the Queen of Swords in today's card is me in more than just characteristics: see that gorgeous fur-lined hooded cape ? That's me (OK, I'll use faux fur seeing as how we're in  the 21st century and I'm not a Viking) and I'd wear it on most days in the UK. Except I'd do it up so as not to let the cold wind in. I layer up every day, and the last cardigan doesn't come off until around 28C/82F or higher depending on the wind: in the UK it can be August before you might get a day or so with that kind of temperature. My DH thinks I should just put buttons on a duvet and be done with it.

There are three places in my adult life that I have felt totally comfortable: Turkey, Miami, and Honduras. All with seasonal temperatures in the region of 32C/93F and upwards - and even then I have to put a sweater on inside buildings, as they are all air-conditioned. This is the reason my family think I am one of these:

courtesy of

 Personally, I think one of these is a tad more appropriate, but hey, whatever:

courtesy of

 Can we spell 'digression' and 'tangential' ?

Anyway. I am always cold, and I always imagine despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, that everyone else is the same as me - which means that my knitting is not affected much by so-called 'seasonality'. What with global warming, the zombie apocalypse (an actual official government website - go on, you know you want to look) and the Mayan end of the world just around the corner, it's best to be prepared for the worst.

courtesy of endoftheworld2012

 Which means I need to keep knitting like a crazy person so we will all be toasty warm when we die.

I forgot to say that I bailed on Day 2, the photography challenge, so don't go looking for that post on this blog; but put 3KCBWDAY4 into Google and see what turns up for other blogs today. Bet my post is the only one referencing reptiles, zombies and knitting.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

3KCBWDAY3: Your Knitting Hero

Tarot of 78 Doors

Well, today I was feeling a little lost; in addition to the trudge home from school getting me so wet I had to change shoes, socks and trousers when I got in, I had seen Mini Diva off on a posh coach for her first residential school trip. Suffice it to say, I was not the only parent with blurry vision - but tell anyone else, and I'll have to kill you.

Even sugary carbohydrates in the form of an Apple Chelsea Bun from the bakery was not enough to lift my spirits. This helped a bit:

But ... TA- DA ! Enter my somewhat unlikely Knitting Hero, with this:

Yes, you guessed: my Knitting Hero today is my lovely postman, who is out in all weathers bringing forgotten orders to cheer up miserable mommies. You have to agree, his timing is impeccable. Inside the package from Kemps was:

Would you like a closer look ? I did:

8 balls of Twilleys Freedom Gorgeous DK in 'Delphinium' for the ridiculously bargain price of £1.29/$2.08 each, total cost £10.32/$16.62; a blend of bamboo and nylon, I think it will go perfectly with this pattern:

So now I am ensconced with the heating on and a milky coffee and another sugar-laden high, ready to go and read some more of the other Knitting & Crochet Blog Week day 3 posts .... just pop 3KCBWDAY3 into your friend Google ...

Monday 23 April 2012

3KCBW Day 1: Color Lovers

Shadowscape Tarot

OK, today kicks off Day 1 in the 3rd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week: you can find all the details over at Mimi's place - it's not too late to join in, and there's loads of luvverly prizes to be won, including soaps made by yours truly ....

I vacillated somewhat over whether to take part this year, as I find right now that the topics are quite challenging for me, and I'm kinda lazy. So let's start and see what happens, shall we, my lucky readers ?
Today's topic is:

Colour Lovers
Colour is one of our greatest expressions of ourselves when we choose to knit or crochet, so how do you choose what colours you buy and crochet or knit with. Have a look through your stash and see if there is a predominance of one colour. Do the same with your finished projects - do they match? Do you love a rainbow of bright hues, or more subdued tones. How much attention do you pay to the original colour that a garment is knit in when you see a pattern? Tell readers about your love or  confusion over colour.

 Looking through my 99 projects recorded at Ravelry, no, you can't tell what is my favorite color at all, I don't think. This is because I haven't yet knitted myself anything - everything I have made in the last ... umm ... 3 1/2  years since I took up knitting again and simultaneously joined Ravelry, has been made for other people, mainly family members and friends.

There's a fair bit of pink and blue, because of having Destructo Boy and Mini Diva to knit for, although I am sad to tell you Mini Diva is really pretty much over pink: ''it immaculately sucks, Mum''; and also because I have done a fair bit of knitting for babies -I am a traditionalist most of the time.

There are some few colors that I can really enjoy and appreciate, but knowing that they are not my kind of color; for example, I knew immediately what colorways I needed for the Very Important Ladies' Shawls (VILS) I'm making this year:

Auntie Vera's Karise
Auntie Hazel's Lady Bertram

Auntie Fashion's Candleflame
 can't say who this is for yet

And then, there will be shawls using these colorways: 

Crazy Zauberball in Olive
Artesano 4ply Alpaca in Sweetpea
I think you will agree from even this small sampling, that knitting for others allows me a pretty unrestricted scope when it comes to color. My stash is just as varied; but it does contain something I actually bought to make something for myself. Unfortunately the project is in a (permanent) time out, as I had a huge learning experience when it came to substituting yarn, and how not only yarn weight but also considering the meterage is Really Important ... it is such a pretty color, too:

Patons Flower Garden (discontinued)
A very rough count shows the majority of my projects (30 or so) are in the pink/purple color range; the next nearest is the blue family with about 18. But remember, I have made nothing for myself: so I think it would be fair to say that since one cannot really extrapolate too far from the one yarn that is mine, therefore, as regards color, I remain a woman of mystery.

To check out all the other posts for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, just pop '3KCBWDAY1' into Google, and start reading. In the words of Captain Oates, you may be some time ....


Sunday 22 April 2012

The Big Four-Oh

Paulina Tarot
Wizards Tarot

Oh no, not mine. Had you there for a moment, didn't I ?

Today is a post that will be short and sweet: it is merely to wish my baby sister (who the faithful will know as 'Auntie Fashion') a very happy 40th birthday.

On the surface she may appear as fragile and ethereal as the delicate Queen of Pentacles from the Paulina Tarot; but in reality, her chronic illness (Behcets Syndrome) has highlighted the fact that in actuality she has far more in common with the stubborn and determined Queen of Pentacles from the Wizard's Tarot.

Long may she continue to enjoy to the maximum all that life offers her.           

Me trying not to drop the new baby

Tuesday 17 April 2012

The Bandwagon

Druidcraft Tarot
Well, today is very wintry: cold, wet, and gray. So I am going to snuggle on the sofa with some knitting and daytime TV. I hasten to say, before I ruin what reputation I might have for both class and brains, it isn't chat show angst, but crime in the form of Law & Order that will entertain me - I like my perversions to be imaginary.

Speaking of imaginary ... I haven't yet seen any of the HBO series 'Game of Thrones' based on the 1st book of George R.R.Martin's series of books 'A Song of Fire and Ice', as we don't subscribe to the relevant channel here. But as I am not dead, do not live under a rock or in an alternate universe, I am completely aware of how it has taken the viewing world by storm; and so, while in the library a few days ago, when I caught sight of the 1st book, I thought I could catch up with the rest of the world through the written word instead.

About 3 pages in, I realized I had already read these books, some years ago; but long enough ago to have forgotten the details of the story and make it worth while reading again. 

 From the advertizing campaign for the series, no-one could have missed that Sheffielder Sean Bean was a central character. A shoo-in for the role, no doubt, given his acting ability and his prior role as the fatally flawed Boromir. You drool over consider the pictures, and you can just smell the overpoweringly pungent aromas of sweat, leather, horse and iron ...

And having read 'Game of Thrones' I went to look at the cast list, to find that he played Eddard Stark, and excellent casting it was too. Looking through the rest of the list, I didn't see many actors that I recognized, but thought that several of them appear too old for their characters as they are described in the book, many of whom are in their early to mid teens.

I found this interesting blog which has good episode reviews; however, I feel his enthusiasm and love for the 1st series somewhat outweigh his critical judgment - he describes the book as fantasy, but light, ie, there are no trolls or orcs; in the book, however, Daenerys' transformation at the end of the book is most definitely fantasy, mystical, and arguably magical, as are some other aspects connected to her storyline.

All this is apropos of nothing, really, except to say that I shall be watching the series when it is available on DVD, and meanwhile I am re-reading the rest of the series: I love meaty books with tons of convoluted plotlines ... a real challenge to the program-makers.

Friday 13 April 2012

FO Friday 82: Quick, Quick, Slow

Well, not only is it the Easter holidays coming to an end - boo, hiss and boo again because I have really enjoyed having the kids at home - but I have two proper FOs to share today while they are boogying, grooving and generally getting on down with their bad selves to the UK Top 40.

Firstly, I finally finished the Candleflame Shawl, which I started ... umm ... an embarrassingly long time ago (July 2011, can you believe it ?!) but then again, there was no deadline for it. I will replace this rubbish photo if I can find someone to take a decent one for me:

And to show the detail of the flames with beads:

I altered the top edging to moss stitch from ribbing because I wanted something a little  firmer. This was made using BFL Laceweight in the colorway 'Fire Festival' from Laura at the Abstract Cat, on 3.25mm needles; I used about 600m, and have approximately 210m left for something. Dunno what the something is yet, though ...

And recently I had a request to make something specific; I was wary to start with, because who knows what an incautious 'yes' might have committed me to. But it turned out to be a hat for my young nephew, as his original had fallen into Dover Harbor and, when last seen, it was floating its way to France; the deal was sealed when I was told that my hat was the only one he'd wear - well played indeed, clever SIL. So here it is, another 3am Cable Hat, modelled by Mini Diva:

I even had enough of the original yarn left to complete it, Stylecraft Extra Special DK in 'blue marl': soft, machine washable, easy to knit with. And whilst searching for this half-ball in the yarn tub, I came across another yarn I'd forgotten about which I think will be just right for my next project ... more of  which another time.

Don't forget to check out all the other lovely FOs today over at Tami's Amis ...

Wednesday 11 April 2012

WIP Wednesday 88: Slow Progress

Fenestra Tarot

So my Slice of Lily's Pi Shawl has not been coming along very quickly, mainly because I had to get something else finished - one of only one or two things that I shall make this year that actually have a deadline, but an important one. And then I wanted something smaller, quicker and less slippy to knit and not on circulars; but I had nothing, so did nothing for some few days. I know, sacrilege ! 

But after the Bank Holiday weekend was over,  I found my Big Girl Pants and got on with it, and ignored/fudged the mistakes I made, so have now completed the first repeat (out of 2) of Chart C. I have no idea how many stitches are on the needles, I just know that it's a lot.

Here is a photo in today's sliver of sunshine; the color is really amazing, I don't get bored with it:

With only 1 repeat of Chart C, 1 repeat of Chart D and the ruffle to go, it seems like I might have quite a bit of yarn left; but I know how deceptive looks can be, especially when things are all scrunched up together, as you can't truly see how big or long your work has got ...

Don't forget to check out all the WIP's at Tami's Amis ....

Tuesday 10 April 2012

The Eggsnatcher

Even though the Easter Bank Holiday weekend weather was bad - grey, cold and rainy (we are not complaining about the rain, however, since the hosepipe ban also came into effect this weekend) - DH actually wasn't working for one of the Bank Holidays, so we had a long weekend with him, which was lovely. Once the chores were done, we couch-potatoed through all the good films that were on the TV.

The Easter Bunny visited, leaving generous amounts of chocolate eggs in our front garden, which were collected with much glee by Destructo Boy and Mini Diva, and then divided out without any squabbling, believe it or not.

The children left their two tidy piles of eggs on our bedroom floor. This was unfortunate on two counts: firstly, we have a Thief. The Thief is not allowed upstairs, which he knows; but, secondly, when the house is empty, there is no-one to say him nay. 

So we came back from a short trip to get bread to find nothing but a few bits of shiny gold and silver foil scattered across the carpet, and a rather large shamefaced dog who tried to squeeze himself into the smallest space possible to make himself unnoticeable: which didn't work, there is too much of him to hide successfully ....

He had no supper, and is none the worse for his chocolate intake: we figure even several small eggs don't really impact on him as he is now a healthy 40kg (88lbs) or so. But I think the kids  have at last learned the lesson of not leaving anything edible where Sebastian can reach it ...