Tuesday, 26 July 2016

And It's Over in the Blink of an Eye

The three weeks of the Tour de France just flew by.  I've spent the time, whilst watching the cycling, concentrating on my stash busting and I'm pleased to say that it's been an enjoyable three weeks.

In my previous blog post, I showed you the first six projects I had completed.  I'm pleased to say that I managed to complete another six projects by the end of the Tour.  That's one better that last year.

I blitzed the Schmancy Shawl that I had started knitting.  It blocked up beautifully.  For this project I was using up some frogged Rowan 4 ply.  You can see full details of this project on Ravelry, here.

The edging blocked out beautifully and I love the drape of the shawl.

The next project completed was a crocheted basket.  I had two balls of rather rough cotton which I used doubled and it created the perfect fabric for the basket.

Next, some mittens.  I used some beige 4 ply for the cuff lining and the main body of each mitten was knitted using some unidentified yarn that I had picked up in the charity shop very cheaply.  These should be lovely and snug when it gets colder.

Some leftover angora yarn made a colourful and fluffy yarn bag.

And some leftover lace weight wool & silk yarn became a mini shawl and a doily.

In total I used 603g.  This was less than last year but in my defence, I was using much finer yarns than last year, so I reckon the yardage used this year was higher than last year.

So all in all, I'd say that Chris Froome and I have had a very successful 2016 Tour de France.

With all this successful stash busting, I'm joining in with Linda's Stash Buster Party once again.  I must admit, it has been a great incentive to me over the last few months and I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel (or even the craft room).  Next month it will be six months since I had my stash weigh in and I'm planning on getting the scales out again to see how I am progressing.  At the moment I reckon I have busted over 6kg of stash, which is one third of my starting total.  I have a few works in progress that I'm hoping to get off the needles in the next few weeks and reduce the total even further.

In other news, we had a lovely weekend down in London visiting Eve.  We went down on Friday and came home yesterday.  The weather was hot and sticky but we manged to get out and about with Eve every day.  We had a great trip to Greenwich on Saturday - so much to see and great views across the river to Canary Wharf.

It was lovely to see Eve again and to be able to explore more of London.  There's still so much more we'd like to visit, so plenty more trips down to London  are definitely on the cards.

Well the Tour de France may be over, but we have the Olympics to look forward to very shortly.  I haven't decided if I'm going to do a themed knitting and crocheting challenge for this, but whatever I decide, I'll be glued to the television for the duration!

Have a good week.  See you soon.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Tour de France Time Again

Here we are more than half way through the Tour de France and I haven't up dated you on what I'm doing!  How lax of me.

Last year, I joined in with the Tour de France group on Ravelry and did some stash-busting.  I managed to complete 11 items and used up 768g of very old stash.  This year, although I was tempted to just work on one major project for the three week duration of the Tour (the Yellow Jersey), I decided that my stash-busting mission is still very much ongoing, so I should repeat last year's endeavours, sprint for the line and go for the Points Jersey (the Green Jersey).

So far I have made three pigeons!

Two Coasters using my Eveline's Motif Pattern.

A pair of very red socks.

A colourful meditation mandala.  I made this up as I went along - great fun.

Some pretty bunting using my Daisy Chain Bunting Pattern.

Three coat hangers, incorporating my Floral Embellishment Pattern.

I'm currently working on a shawl.  It has an applied lacy border and I'm just over a quarter of the way along the edge.

I've also recently cast on some mittens and I'm hoping to fit in a few more small items and another shawl!  I've only got until 24th July, so time is of the essence.

Last month, I finished two more pairs of socks whilst watching the European Championships (congrats to Portugal).  Usually I only knit one pair of socks from each of the 100g of sock yarn I have, but because I prefer to knit ankle socks, I find that I have about 45g leftover.  So, these two pairs of socks are knitted with the same yarn, but for the second pair, I have knitted contrast toes, heels and cuffs.  This used but virtually the whole of the 100g, so I was pleased with this.  For both these pairs of socks, I again used the Sockmatician's Toe Up recipe, which is now firmly confirmed as one of my favourite recipes.

I entered my four pairs of socks that I knitted up during the Euros into The Sockmaticians Toe Up KAL and whilst watching his latest podcast I was very excited to hear my name mentioned and find out that I had won a skein of fingering weight yarn - Thank you so much Nathan.

This weekend, besides the Tour de France, we will also be watching the first cricket test match between England and Pakistan, the Open Golf from Troon and there's also some darts on.  It's hard work being a sports fan!  At least I should make excellent progress with the shawl.

Until next time, happy crafting to you all.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

I'm Sew Excited

We've had a mini break, not really a holiday, just a break from home.  Grace went to Glastonbury (which she really enjoyed) and while she was away, we stayed at her flat in Sheffield to look after her hamster!

I don't know whether Juno the hamster appreciated us being there because she spent all her time trying to chew through the bars of her pen to escape!

Anyway, we had a lovely time in Sheffield, very relaxing.

Now that I'm settling into dressmaking and feeling more confident, I've been watching The Great British Sewing Bee on TV.  This is the first time I've watched the series, which is now in Season 4.  I really enjoyed watching this and feel that I've learnt quite a few new things.  At the moment, my dressmaking projects can be classed as "Easy" or "Beginner" but I'm determined to branch out and tackle some more challenging projects in the future.

For the time being I'm making nice, simple summer dresses.  Here is the latest one I've made.

(I never look relaxed when my husband is taking the photos!)

I have again used the Simplicity 6262 pattern, but having put sleeves in the previous version I made, I have decided I'm more of a sleeveless dress person - at least as far as summer dresses are concerned.  I added a ribbon around the waist this time.  It adds quite a nice trim, but I could have done with applying it better - next time I'll be able to do it better.

I'm hoping for some warm and sunny weather now, so that I can wear it.

Whilst we were in Sheffield I was looking at the sewing machines in John Lewis.  I thought I should maybe update my machine and I was interested in finding out more about how to do buttonholes.  When I got back home, I thought I would check the handbook for my machine to see what it could do as far as buttonholes were concerned.  I was amazed and overjoyed to find out that my machine does one step buttonholes that are precisely sized to the buttons you want to use.  I've only had this machine a mere 21 years, and who knew that it was as clever as that!  I really need to explore what else it can do, I'm clearly not using it anywhere near to its capabilities.

Tomorrow I'm planning on cutting out another summer dress, pink this time - let's hope my optimism is rewarded with some nicer weather.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Socks, Socks, Socks!

I think I'm suffering from sport overload!  I'm enjoying the football and US Open golf, but I've reached that stage where I need to get on with other things.  Thankfully the number of football matches per day reduces after today and the golf should be finished this evening.

On the plus side, I have managed to work my way through quite a bit of yarn.  The yarn stash is reducing nicely.  Firstly, the aran cardigan is finished.  (Full details on Ravelry, HERE)

This yarn was leftover from a hat that Grace made.  The pattern is Maddalena by Louisa Harding, a pattern I've made before and worn  a lot.  So if it works, then I'm happy to go with it again.

The only problem I have is that it's purple.  I'm strangely drawn to purple yarn - I now have three purple cardigans, unfortunately I have no dresses or skirts that go with them.  I need to buy myself some purple fabric and make a coordinating dress.  So let's put it on the wish list.

I've also knitted two pairs of socks.  The first pair incorporates the Cobblestone pattern by Mina Philipp from her latest collection.  (Details on Ravelry, HERE)

I was using the Sockmaticians recipe for toe up socks with a traditional heel turn and flap and I can say that I love it.  I much prefer toe up socks (no kitchener for the toes!) and up until now I hadn't settled on a heel I liked for this method.  This pattern now provides me with a heel I like and I'll be using it for most of my socks from now on.

The second pair of socks I've made also use the Sockmaticians recipe, but this time I used DK weight yarn rather than my usual 4 ply.  (Details on Ravelry, HERE)

I used a chart from a Finnish pattern called Eukalyptus which creates a lovely lacy pattern.

This yarn has been frogged multiple times so it's a real stash buster - I'm therefore joining in with Linda's Crafty Corner's Stash Busting Party for this one.

I'm now on my third pair of socks - my aim is to make at least five pairs of socks to use up stashed yarn during the European Championships.  I'm well on my way to achieving this goal and could possibly make more but I suspect that by the time I've knitted five pairs of socks I'll be ready to move on to other things.

And finally, I've finished the last three squares for my Block - a - Month  blanket.  The two large squares were not the ones selected for this month.  I didn't like the ones selected so I substituted these because I just wanted to get them out of the way.

I now have the equivalent of 16 large squares, which is enough for my blanket.  The next job, the one I really love, is deciding the placement of the squares then sewing them together.  I'll leave crocheting the border until next month.  I haven't decided what I'm doing for this yet, but I'm thinking of making quite a deep border.

So that's me all accounted for.  I'm hoping to get some fresh air over the next week, inbetween sock knitting!

Enjoy the week ahead whatever you have planned.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

I'm Ready, Are You?

It's been an interesting few days.  My husband and I had a lovely two nights away in Oswestry, but since we got back, I have not been well for a day or two - achy and shivery and no energy.  It sounds like a bug to me but my husband reckons it could be an allergic reaction to the countryside!  Today I'm starting feeling more normal again - the bounce is slowly coming back.

Oswestry was a fairly last minute decision.  And it worked out so well.  The weather was gorgeously hot and sunny.  We had picnics in the park, a walk around Oswestry, we visited Chirk Castle, lots of pubs and ate far too much.  On the way home we stopped off in Rhuddlan and visited the castle - you can't beat a Welsh castle.

Chirk Castle

Embroidery Exhibition at Chirk Castle

The Fox Inn, Oswestry

Rhuddlan Castle

Today, I am taking it easy, watching the cricket (third test match against Sri Lanka), watching some cycling (Criterium de Dauphine) and catching up with my knitting.  You know you're ill when you don't even feel like knitting!

I've been knitting an aran cardigan (in this heat!) to use up some yarn that Grace had leftover from a hat she made.  I started it on the 1st June and by the end of the 2nd I had completed the back and two fronts.  I was fairly optimistic that I would get it finished within five days, but sadly I had to eat and sleep, so not quite possible.  I didn't take it to Oswestry with me, so I have only just picked it back up today.  I just have the sleeve head on the last sleeve to do - not sure I have any suitable buttons, but apart from that it will be finished this afternoon.

For my car journey to Oswestry knitting, I frogged a shawl I made a while ago and started knitting up a scarf with the yarn.  The yarn is Sirdar Crofter in lovely pinks, purples, cream and grey, so in theory some of my favourite colours.  Sadly every time I knit it up, I'm never happy with the finished article.  Prior to being a shawl, this yarn was a sweater - it has been multi- frogged.  This is its last chance to please me.

Scarf is knit on the bias

In our house, we are all ready and waiting for the football tomorrow.  The European Championships kick off tomorrow evening and then after that there'll be at least two matches a day for a considerable time.  There will of course be lots of other sport that we will need to fit in, the US Open golf championship is on next week, there's a Formula 1 Grand Prix race this weekend and the Tour de France cycling race starts at the beginning of July - whew, that's a lot of knitting time!

For the duration of the Euorpean Championship, I have decided to knit socks - I'm hoping for a minimum of five pairs.  I have three unused quantities of sock yarn, plus I would like to use some older leftovers.  Each pair will involve a technique that I haven't tried yet - can't wait to cast on and get started.

I'm not going to just knit socks though.  I would also like to start a new cardigan - Fair Isle - yes please.  Look at those pretty colours.

So that's the plan for the next month or so.  Will you be watching the football?  Who will you be supporting?  I will be cheering on Wales (Land of my fathers!).

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Catching Up

The sun is shining, England are winning easily in the cricket and my crafting is all going well.  My husband and I have just come back from a lovely couple of days in St Albans.

The weather was a lot better than when we visited last year in November and Eve got the train out of London to meet up with us - so a perfect time we had.

We had a lovely walk around Verulamium Park, a visit to the cathedral and a relaxing lunch.

It was all over so quickly but such a great time.

This past week I've been busy with my dressmaking.  I'm definitely growing in confidence now and enjoying the process more rather than just finding it stressful all the time.

I made a practice dress for a pattern I had recently acquired- McCall's M7116, using a bedsheet in a lovely aubergine colour - I made view B.

I liked the style of the dress, it's different to the usual dresses I make but there were a number of issues that I wasn't happy with.  The sleeves were rather short, the bodice also too short and the neck too wide.  I think I could probably address these issues without too much difficulty but in the end I went out and bought a new pattern that is more to my taste in style - Newlook 6262.  I particularly like view B with the short sleeves (shown in yellow on the pattern envelope) - all my dresses so far have been sleeveless.

I didn't feel I needed to make a full practice dress but I did want to have a go at fitting the sleeves, so I used some leftover sheet and I'm so glad I did.  The sleeve went in no problem, but the neckline was surprisingly high and uncomfortable.  I altered the pattern to lower the neck and now I have a dress that it very comfortable to wear.

The fabric is from my stash, bought sometime last year and it's so pretty and very summery.

So happy happy happy.  I have three more dress lengths of fabric in my stash so now that I'm on a roll with the sewing I'm hoping to have some lovely additions to my wardrobe.

I could do with knitting up a light coloured cardigan to go with the summery dress, but instead I've just finished a navy coloured cardi.  It's just a plain cropped style - my favourite and it goes well with a number of dresses I wear a lot, which is why I made it.

Please excuse the bad photographs -
they were taken in the hotel room by my husband !!
I don't have enough light coloured wool in my stash to make a plain cardigan and as I'm on a yarn diet, I'm restricted to knitting from stash.  I reckon I have two more cardigans worth of stash knitting to get out of the way and then I'm going to treat myself to some nice cream wool.  Looking forward to that.

As I find it almost impossible to not use up every scrap of yarn, I've made six more little sock yarn sweaters to add to my bunting.

So that's what I've been up to.  I'm planning on spending the rest of the bank holiday weekend working on my Mandala Madness blanket which hasn't been shown any love for some time.  I'll also be catching up on all the sporting events that are happening this weekend on the television.  A nice relaxing few days ahead of me.  I hope plenty of relaxation comes your way too.  Bye for now.