Friday, 19 October 2018

Yarn Along: All about the Christmas jumpers

Just like that the newborn days are over.* I can't believe our daughter has been here for over six weeks already. We seem to be doing pretty well, and have been out most days. So far the third is definitely proving to be the easiest (though a lot of that may be because of managed expectations)!

I have managed to rediscover the knack of both knitting and crocheting while feeding the baby, so for a couple of weeks I worked on a blanket for a friend's new baby. The baby arrived at the end of September, slightly earlier than their due date, and before the blanket was finished. Once the baby was here I made a concerted effort to finish the blanket and got the whole thing done by the end of the baby's due date. Hooray! The blanket pattern is Hydrangea Blanket by Lucy of Attic 24 and was a pleasure to crochet - the pattern is simple and the blanket grew quickly, a perfect mindless project (having said that it is a bit smaller than I planned as my maths was off, oops. It's still plenty big enough). If you want more details, you can find them on my Ravelry project page.



Since the start of the Festive Cheer KAL, I have been concentrating on festive knitting. A couple of weeks ago a new pattern leapt to the top of my queue: Vinterskov by Karie Westermann. I've wanted to knit myself a festive jumper for ages, and this is such a subtle and understated festive design that it'll get worn well past the festive season. I'm knitting it in Cascade 220 Superwash** that has been in my stash for ages. The pattern came out on a Thursday and I'd already swatched by the end of Friday! As soon as the swatch was dry and I knew I'd got gauge I cast on. The jumper is making lovely progress (with the small caveat that once I'd knitted a few rounds I thought the gauge was a bit tight, so I put the whole thing on waste yarn and blocked it to check the blocked gauge. I needn't have done as it was fine! It's always best to be safe though; I want this jumper to fit).




The other festive knit that is on the needles is both festive and a gift. I have been meaning to make mini Harry-Potter initial jumper-decorations for a Harry Potter obsessed friend and her husband ever since they got married five years ago. They now have two children, so that's an extra two to knit. I have no idea why it took me so long to get round to casting on as each one only takes an hour or so (plus embroidery time; the embroidery is still to come). I'm using the Mini Christmas Jumper Bunting pattern by Sue Stratford, and the jumpers are so easy to knit! I might even make more than the four I'm planning...


And what have I been reading since I last wrote?

The Creakers by Tom Fletcher
I was reading this last time I wrote a Yarn Along post, and the book continued in much the same vein: a fairly classic 'what's under the bed?' story. I enjoyed the story, but wasn't captivated by it. I'd happily read it again with any of my children though, which I think is a good sign. The Christmasaurus is definitely better!

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay
A book passed on to me by a friend, and one that came highly recommended by my husband who got to it before I did. This is the diary of a UK doctor about his time working in obstetrics and gynaecology. I read this *fast*. The writing is very readable, and many of the anecdotes are very, very funny, in a rather black way. The book also managed to be enlightening about how the NHS works, and was at times poignant and heart-breaking. I would recommend this book to anyone (unless you are particularly squeamish; if that's the case you should probably give it a miss).

The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
Yes, I have now started to include books I read to my children... I missed out on The Worst Witch series as a child, but a few friends have suggested them as things to read with my four year old, and the box set was available at a very good price from The Book People a few weeks ago, so I ordered the seven-book series. Book one has not disappointed. Set in a boarding school for witches, with main characters Mildred and her friend Maud, two witches who aren't very good at following the rules, and you have a fairly classic children's story. Written in the late 1970s-early 1980s, The Worst Witch has aged well: I enjoyed the story, as did both my four year old and my seven year old. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
I picked this up based on recommendations from a few friends, and, let's be totally honest here, because the cover has battenburg cake on it. I read the first few chapters and every word sent me to sleep. Apparently it's not for me! I'm not sure I read enough to tell you anything about it; I've popped it back on the 'to read' pile, and might get back to it one day.

My Teenage Diary
This book accompanies the Radio 4 series that I love, so it was an excellent library find. The book is excerpts from celebrities' teenager diaries, and it is as unintentionally funny as that sounds. The diaries do work better on the radio, as there they are read by the celebrity in question, but the book is an entertaining enough diversion. 


What have you been working on recently? Read anything good? 

Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Until next time, happy knitting.

*Confession: I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago, and it's taken me ages to get round to taking the photos for it! I've edited it to make sense with what's actually happening at the minute.

**Affiliate link.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Yarnometer: July 2018

The Yarnometer (my monthly look at what yarn has come and gone from my stash) has taken a bit of a back seat over the past couple of months, but it is back! Over the next few weeks I’ll be catching up with weekly posts. Here are my yarny ins and outs for July.


Projects finished
Socks for my son
These were a joy to knit; I had earmarked the yarn as socks for me as not only is it in my favourite colours, but it is also sparkly (it’s Opal Surprise if you want to try and get hold of some - the yarn is discontinued, but you might get lucky on a destash). In theory children’s socks are quick but as my son now has size 3.5 feet, they’re not that much quicker than mine!


Two Christmas stockings
The big reveal for these will happen in October, when the pattern is published by Knit Now magazine, but for now, here are a few hints: they’re intarsia character stockings and there’s a ‘boy’ version and a ‘girl’ version (not that that should limit you, I love them both!). The delay between writing this and publishing it means I can share these with you now! Here they are, Mr Men and Little Miss stockings! The patterns will come with issue 94 of Knit Now magazine.

Mr Men and Little Miss stockings. Image copyright Practocal Publishing

Siren Song socks
This was a pattern sample for my Siren Song socks and the yarn from Phileas Yarns was lovely to work with, if a pain to photograph!

The ins and outs of yarn
Yarn in
  • 120 g of hand-dyed yarn from Beehive Yarns. This was part of the Tits Out yarn collective that happened in the summer, and this yarn is a very bright and very pretty speckled yarn with a bright pink contrast. In theory I think this was meant to be a sock set, but I think it would make a fabulous shawl.
  • 200 g of yarn in the Love Knitting* sale. I was sent these Yarns to review, and the review can be found here. I didn’t get round to knitting the Beeswax Hat before the end of the KAL, but it will happen in the autumn,  it I have turned the stripey yarn into socks.
  • 550 g of Sublime Extra Fine Merino* in pink, and 550 g in turquoise. Two discontinued colourways of one of my favourite Yarns came to my attention in a July, and I couldn’t pass up the bargain. I’m currently spending a lot of time trying to decide what to turn them into.
  • 100 g ‘Blue yarn from Kath’. Who is Kath, and what was the blue yarn? I have no idea, but it’s on my list, so must have been a thing. I wish I knew what though...**
  • 650 g yarn for a commission
  • 100 g Bo Peep DK* from West Yorkshire Spinners to sample



Yarn out 
Destashed
  • 589 g was sent to my mum (who likes a good yarn parcel!)
  • 100 g was given to my friend Lynda for her birthday
  • 120 g was sent to Knit for Peace 

Knitted
  • 53 g: socks for my son
  • 84 g: stocking 1
  • 90 g: stocking 2
  • 90 g: Siren Song socks 

Total
Yarn in: 2270 g
Yarn out or used: 1126 g
Total: +1144 g (hmm, another month where more comes in than goes out...)

Year to date
Yarn in: 20937 g
Yarn out: 7452 g
Yarn used: 4701 g
Total: 6514 g

Well, another month in which I seem to have managed to have bought rather more yarn than I’ve used. Did I do better in August?!


*Affiliate link
**I remembered! It was some lovely blue hand-dyed yarn from a destash. It'll become a hat for this winter

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Festive Cheer KAL 2018

In the knitting world we are well into the festive knitting season, whether it's knitting Christmas decorations or gifts. To celebrate that, I'm hosting a festive knitalong (KAL) in my Ravelry group* and on Instagram.

The KAL will be called the Festive Cheer KAL, and all you need to do to join in is to either knit (or crochet) a festive item, or an item that you'll be giving as a gift over the festive season, and post your progress in either the thread in my Ravelry group* or on Instagram using the hashtag #festivecheerKAL2018 (if you want to double your chances of winning, you can post in both).


The KAL will run between October 1st and November 30th 2018, but will be a very relaxed affair, so works in progress (WIPs) are included, and you don't have to finish anything, just post your progress.

I'll be drawing two winners, one from Instagram and one from my Ravelry group. The prize winners will be selected using a random number generator from all posts posted between October 1st and November 30th 2018.

Happy knitting!

********

The rules
1. Knit or crochet a festive item, or an item to be given as a gift over the festive season
2. Post a progress shot on Instagram using the hashtag #festivecheerkal2018
Or
3. Post about your progress in the thread in my Ravelry group
4. Only entries posted between October 1st and November 30th 2018 will be included
5. WIPs are allowed and you don't have to finish what you're working on 
6. Two prize winners will be drawn using a random number generator: one from Instagram and one from Ravelry. You may enter on both platforms, but will only be able to win one prize
7. If entering via Instagram, to win a prize, you must be following me on Instagram
8. If entering via the Ravelry thread, to win a prize, you must be a member of the Ravelry group


*Ravelry link. You must be signed in to Ravelry for the link to work

Sunday, 23 September 2018

The crochet-hook black-hole

Somewhere in my house there is a black hole filled with every crochet hook I've ever owned. That's the only possible explanation as to why I cannot locate any crochet hooks at the minute. My knitting needles are all carefully filed, and I thought the hooks were there with them, but apparently not, nor are they in any of the other obvious homes. All of which makes crocheting a baby blanket rather tricky.


I had been planning on making a blanket for a friend's new baby ever since I found out she was pregnant, but even though I've known for months that the baby is due in October, I hadn't realised how quickly October was coming around (for some reason I've spent most of the past week thinking it's February). The yarn has been purchased (I'm using the leftovers from the blanket I crocheted for another friend earlier in the year, along with three balls of pale grey that I bought to go with them), but without a hook, the project is a bit of a non-starter.


I did consider ordering the most likely hook size, I then considered ordering a whole new set of hooks just in case I needed a different size. Both of which are not great options as: (i) the pattern I was planning on using is one I haven't made before so I knew I'd need to play with hook sizes before I'd be happy; (i) I already own lots of crochet hooks, even I can't find them, so it seems silly to replace all of them!


As ever, the answer was pretty obvious, and I popped round to a crocheting friend's for an afternoon to borrow some hooks and do a couple of test swatches (I was right not to order just one hook - I had to try two). I'm now ploughing on with the blanket, and it's looking lovely (the pattern is Hydrangea Stripe blanket by Lucy of Attic 24) and it's mindless enough to do whilst feeding a baby! I have ordered myself a single hook in the right size as I have a favourite type of hook (Clover Soft Touch* - the ergonomic handle means I can crochet for ages without my hand cramping up), and am keeping my fingers crossed that the rest of the hooks hooks turn up one day! 

*Affiliate link.

Friday, 14 September 2018

New design: Little Fox Sweater

I have a new pattern for you today, the Little Fox Sweater.*



Foxes are one of my favourite creatures, and a perennial favourite children's character. The Little Fox jumper is perfect for Autumn with its cheeky fox on the front.


The Little Fox Sweater is knitted flat from the bottom up in sections that are seamed before adding the neckline in the round. The jumper is knitted in stocking stitch with 2 x 2 ribbing for the cuffs, hem and neckline; the fox motif is added using the intarsia technique. The pattern is written in 5 sizes: 2 (4, 6, 8, 10) years and is designed to fit with 2 inches of positive ease.



The sample is knitted in Stylecraft Life DK,* one of my favourite yarns for hard-wearing children's garments. Using DK weight yarn makes for a nice lightweight jumper that is perfect for layering.

Fancy knitting your own Little Fox Sweater? You can find the pattern in the October 2018 issue of I Like Knitting magazine. I Like Knitting magazine* is an e-magazine that is available via a subscription model, giving you access to a whole host of beautiful patterns. You can also favourite and queue the pattern via the Ravelry pattern page.


Want to add the pattern to your Ravelry queue or favourites? The Ravelry pattern entry can be found here.

*Affiliate link.

Images copyright I Like Knitting.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Yarn along: In with the new

The past week has been one of many firsts: first day of infant school; first day of junior school; first day back at work for my husband after paternity leave; first day of looking after a newborn on my own in rather a long time. And somehow we’ve taken it all in our stride. I’m still in that happy newborn bubble, where to do lists have been replaced by lists of achievements (some as mundane as hanging out the washing and getting it back in again before the rain), and all that really matters is that we make it through each day in once piece.

I have managed to fit in a bit of reading, and some knitting (an additional bonus of all those hours spent feeding!). My reading for the last couple of weeks has apparently been sponsored by the Fletcher family, as I’ve read Happy Mum, Happy Baby by Giovanna Fletcher, followed in quick succession by The Creakers, which is written by her husband Tom Fletcher. Happy Mum, Happy Baby was passed on to me from my sister, and could be described as a memoir of early parenting, covering Giovanna’s personal experience of her first few years of being a parent first to one then two small boys. The book was the perfect read for the first few days of having a newborn - I have the hardback, so could lie it on a surface and not have to worry about losing my page, the font was quite big and the content light and chatty. The read was enjoyable, but don’t expect anything revolutionary, this really is just one mum telling the reader about her experience of parenting. Most of her parenting choices are very similar to mine, which made the read a comforting one, but if your views are very different to hers I suspect this book would annoy you massively!


The Creakers was a Christmas present to my son, which we tried reading together earlier in the year, but he didn’t enjoy it (all the parents in a town go missing within the first couple of chapters), so we stopped reading really early on in the story. The book’s been living on my bedside table ever since, so I picked it up last week, as children's books are perfect for reading whilst feeding in the middle of the night! I’m enjoying the story so far - it’s got a good level of suspense, and the story is really engaging. The tale is a classic 'things that go bump in the night', and I'm excited to see where Fletcher takes it.


My needles have been pretty quiet since the baby arrived. I've finished a baby cardigan, which is just adorable (it's a Baby Vertebrae, but I striped the yoke). I have contemplated casting on something new and exciting (possibly a cardigan for me), but instead have continued with the socks I was knitting for the Yarndale sock line. I have absolutely missed the deadline for these (they needed to arrive in Skipton by the start of September), and at a few rounds a day they may still be on the needles when Yarndale actually happens, but that's fine, I'll donate them next year. I'm using Cascade Heritage Prints* in the colourway Lights, and it's beautiful to work with - the yarn is smooth and non-splity and the colours are really vibrant. Maybe next month I'll have something new on the needles, but don't hold your breath!



What are you reading and working on at the minute? Any book recommendations?

Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along.


Happy knitting!

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Baby news

We have a baby!

It's been quiet round here for a few weeks while I've been on the beginnings of maternity leave. Well I finally have news for you: I gave birth to my second daughter last week!


She is amazing, and I'm enjoying lots of precious newborn cuddles. Having already had two babies, I know that the snuggly sleepy phase won't last long, so excuse me while I go and spend some more time just gazing at her.

Happy knitting (I've managed a whole two inches of baby sleeve since she arrived!).