Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Knitting Future//Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

I do think about my knitting future quite alot, infact if you have a look at 2013 ravelry queue you will see that all of my queued items for 2013 have yarn already bought and organised. Is it a little sad? Well maybe but it's fun to just be organised.

By this time next year I hope to have knit these beautiful items:

Of course that's just 4 of the 23 items on my 2013 list; which doesn't include my sockopus KAL that I'm joining (the book came - it's beautiful) or the various WIP's I have on the go right now. It's crazy but I said it at the beginning of the week that I feel that learning while you knit is hugely important. I love all of my finished objects but the actual knitting is great.

Anyways I have to say a HUGE thank you to Mimi for hosting the 4th Knitting and Crochet Blog Week; I've had a blast again. And a massive thank you to all of my new followers and to everyone who left a comment on the blog this week - I really appreciate it.

What are you hoping to learn in this coming year?
V xo

PS: today's code is: 4KCBWDAY7; make sure you use this code if you're playing along.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Interchangeable//Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

Alright so if you've already popped by the blog this morning, you may have noticed that this post was completely blank - that was a scheduling FAIL on my part!!!

If I'm completely honest, when it comes to tools, I think I'm more Bee than Monkey. Why? Because I change my mind about my favourite everytime I cast on a new project.

For example when I cast on for my OWLS's sweater my favourite tool was definitely my knit pro interchangeables; but then I cast on for Kristofer's puppy and suddenly a simple pair of metal straights are my favourite. Whilst working on my fairisle needle case (which is finished BTW) I fell in love with my tiny bamboo straights. I literally flit from favourite to favourite.

And don't even get me started on accessories......

V xo

PS: today's code is: 4KCBWDAY6; make sure you use this code if you're playing along.
PPS: go check out the knit nerd giveaway happening RIGHT NOW; you could win a pretty pattern.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Life; As The Wife; Of A Knit Nerd//Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

My wonderful wife and our boys are my everything, and I know that we mean the same to her. Although we know our place, only by a slim margin, it is second to her absolute passion for knitting. This is quite new, maybe a year or so but her passion has no boundaries (I mean that! NONE!!).

She will whip out a project anywhere (I have to be honest, at first it was like she had got her breast out to feed a baby! I didn't know where to look, neither thing bothers me now though). Vicki plans our days out and then figures out where she can fit in knitting; and what projects travel best and will be easiest to work on in that environment.

I should tell you know, it's not that I don't want to knit. I can't, LOL! It is not even the act of knitting that messes it up for me; it is, infact, my temperament. I tried and several rows in the stitches are so tight I can't even get my needle in. I can't grasp the whole concept of tension at all, and before you know it the thing you can loosely (unlike my knitting) call a couple of rows, is on the floor at the other side of the room - needles included, after bouncing off the wall!! After several attempts I gave it a miss.

Another confession I must make, is not understand the knitters lingo which can be limiting when conversing with my wife. For example, Vic said to me in a phone call the other day that she had blistered her fingers on her first attempt at felting. I had no idea what that was, or equally importantly, why or how she got blisters from it AND honestly I wasn't sure I really wanted to know. A few more words and abbreviations that I often get confused by are DPN's, YO, frogging, cast off, purl (don't they come from oysters?), make 1, slip slip knit, fair isle (is that one word or 2?) My mind is actually going blank and numb as I type this.

Now to Ravelry, the multimillion member forum that I now call my wife's second home! Often first actually! Which is full of awesome, creative, passionate, diverse, friendly ENABLERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!; who have been an amazing support to Vicki in general as well as in knitting and who I hold partly responsible for the crazy amount of wool (oh goodness I just committed a mortal sin), I did of course mean to say yarn! No wait wool! Oh help! I have literally no idea what I am saying! Which is it, wool or yarn?!

I do, however, love getting hand knitted gifts.
Happy Knitting,
Jay (a knit nerd's wife) xx

PS: today's code is: 4KCBWDAY5; make sure you use this code if you're playing along.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Colourific (A Little Bit of Purple)//Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

When I was growing up, my favourite colour was purple (to be honest, to this day, it's still PURPLE!!!). I always wanted a bedroom with purple walls, but my Mum hated the idea so it didn't happen..... fastforward to 25 and I finally got my purple wall!! It was a really pretty, sparkly purple and I hated it!!!! I really didn't like it - for me, purple doesn't belong on the wall. But it totally belongs in knitting, and there are so many pretty shades:
Now I would love to beable to say that I knit loads in purple; but let's face it, it's pretty but not overly practical - unless it's for socks (or my very pretty OWLS sweater), or hats, or mitts..... um yeah. Purple does work well with alot of things - and I wear alot of grey, which of course goes really well with purple. Having said all of that, my knitting tends to be a rainbow of colours - I just love colour (and grey).

What's your favourite colour? Does it take place in alot of your knitting?
V xo

PS: today's code is: 4KCBWDAY4; make sure you use this code if you're playing along.
PPS: Pop by tomorrow for something a little different!!!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

An Info-Knitty-Graphic//Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

When I think about my knitting, I think about all of the things I've knit - and the progress I've made along the way (as well as the mistakes)........

1. This bag took me 11 months to knit, it shouldn't have - it is a simple garter stitch bag, it's very pretty BUT it stretched alot!!!
2. I still wear my kitty hat, I am totally in love with it - you knit it flat, then seam it. It's super simple and very cute.
3. I knit these mary janes and pretty quickly fell out of love with them - they stretched and the yarn wasn't hard wearing. I wouldn't knit slippers again unless they were felted afterwards.
4. Florence the Elefante was one of my favourite knits, she was probably one of the most complex knits of last year for me. She isn't perfect, the increases in her face weren't as perfect as they could have been but I was super proud of her at the time.
5. Lenny the Elephant was probably my favourite knit of last year, he turned out pretty perfect. And he was the first item I've knit with yarn from an indie dyer (candy skein yummy DK).
6. This hat was one thing I wish I had swatched for, the yarn bloomed quite a bit and the hat is too big for my wife now. It fits me but I have a big head and I knit the smallest size!!! I would knit this hat again though, it's super pretty.
7. The Queen of Hearts shawl is an own design, and I'm still so proud of it. I really enjoyed knitting it and my Gran loves her shawl.
8. In February 2013 I took part in my very first yarn bombing; which I really enjoyed. I also knit a little heart garland for my wife for valentine's day - she loves it.
9. I knit my Blue Fudge plains for my very good friend, Carol. It was lovely to knit, and the baby cashmerino yarn helped of course. I'm hoping to knit another one of these for me really soon.
10. Regular readers of my blog will know all about my owls sweater; I loved knitting it - so much love went into every stitch of this, my first sweater. I love it. I will make changes when I knit it again - I intend on making it tunic length, with the sleeves just slightly longer.
11. My green pom-pom hat was knit up when the freeze hit in March 2013, it's super warm but I would knit a few more rows so it fits my head a little more snuggly.
12. My first socks; this was a travel project - ok it was supposed to be but ended up being a knit all the time project. I love these socks, they are super super warm and, as yesterday's posted stated, I have already cast on my 2nd pair.

I think my infographic shows how much I've grown as a knitter; and hopefully shows a small amount of the direction I'm hoping to go in.
V xo

PS: today's code is: 4KCBWDAY3; make sure you use this code if you're playing along.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Mascot Monkey//Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

When I choose what projects to make, I have some criteria:
1. Do I need it?
2. Will I learn anything by knitting it?
3. If it's a gift - will it be appreciated?
4. Do I need to buy yarn, needles, or other notions?
5. Is the pattern a much loved one, or does it have it's issues?
So when our friend Jen got pregnant; I knew I wanted to knit something for her upcoming arrival - so I spoke to Jay to find out what she likes. I have decided on a cute little hat, but I wanted to knit a softie - because I've knit softies for babies before and they always seems to go down well with new parents. Anyways it's turns out that Jen (and Darren) love monkey's - so I went to my go-to softie knitter, Rebecca Danger - she's my favourite softie designer by far!!! And I found Jerry the Musical Monkey:

 Isn't he super cute? And what I love about Rebecca's patterns are you can use any weight yarn you choose - which is fab because it changes the size and means you can knit with yarn that suits the person - for example for a baby, you probably want machine washable; whereas if I was knitting a softie for myself I might use something hand-dyed.

Jay and I had a long discussion about yarn colours, and what would suit a baby girl - I knew I wanted to use Robin Chunky - it's a heavy acrylic based yarn that is really perfect for children's softies, it's nice and hard-wearing.

I finally chose a pretty dusky pink colour, and a mottled cream colour:

I think Miss Monkey is going to be super pretty, the yarn is here and she is ready to be cast-on. I'm really pleased with the colour choices and the pattern. I just need to decide on a name for her and how I'm going to do her eyes.

So this is a challenge for you, my readers, what would you call this monkey? And what would you do for eyes? I'm tempted to just use some black yarn and stitch them on - I'm just not sure that plastic safety eyes are the right thing for the project. Let me know.

I hope you are continuing to enjoy KCBW 2013; I'm really having fun.
V x
PS: today's code is: 4KCBWDAY2; make sure you use this code if you're playing along.

Monday, 22 April 2013

On Being A Monkey//Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

In all honesty I found it difficult to choose which "house" I fell into; so I quizzed my wife and MIL - and they chose Monkey. Why I asked myself?

I love to be challenged by my knitting; infact regular readers of this little blog might remember that my OWL (one little word) for this year is LEARN - I want to learn as much as possible. So what does mean? It means that I challenged myself to knit my first sweater:
 And I thoroughly enjoyed the knit, it had some complicated instructions - I had never done short rows before and splitting for the sleeves was a little tricky - BUT I did it, I finished my first sweater and I love it. So on to the next challenge - socks!!!

I've wanted to knit socks for a while, infact I got a sock book almost 2 years ago but I was super nervous; I'd heard alot of negative things about socks. I think knitters fall into 2 sock categories - those who do and those who hate!!! I decided to just give it a go; afterall if I failed no-one needed to know and I could always frog them and use the yarn for something else. In actual fact my socks were a resounding success, not only did I enjoy the knit but I love the results:
Don't get me wrong they have their little issues, but I had so much fun I've already cast on my 2nd pair, and bought DPN's for 4-ply socks. I've also bought the lovely Socktopus book - and I cannot wait to get stuck into some beautiful socks for the spring.

My motto in life; especially as a person with a long-term illness; is to always learn, to try my hardest to succeed AND (most importantly) enjoy myself. 2013 is definitely a year of learning for me - what will you learn this year?

Are you playing along with KCBW this year? What "house" do you fall into?
V xo

PS: today's code is: 4KCBWDAY1; make sure you use this code if you're playing along.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Alicia//Knit Nerds

This week I have the lovely Alicia of Woolen Diversions. Everytime Alicia blogs, she takes her readers on an adventure with her, she knows how to tell her tale - which I love. She has a passion for design, in particular socks and hats (my favourite) so when she contacted me asking to be a knit nerd, I jumped at such an amazing opportunity.

Here she is:
1. How long have you been knitting/crocheting, and who taught you?
 I have been knitting for 7 years, I first learned from a friend in college to keep me busy while I had knee surgery. I became really obsessed with it about 4 years ago when I started grad school. I found that knitting was the perfect distraction from the rigors of scientific studies: creative but still productive, portable and beautiful, comforting and fun.

2. What is your favourite yarny thing to make?
My favorite thing to knit is a toss-up between shawls and socks. I love wearing both and will usually incorporate them into my daily wardrobe. Shawls are gorgeous and the perfect layering pieces year-round. Socks are great portable projects and a fun way to try out lots of interesting stitches on a smaller item. Plus, they're so comfortable and there are so many great sock yarns out there.
3. Who is your biggest yarny inspiration?
I have a TON of yarn-y role models but the biggest is probably the Yarn Harlot. Her blog and books got me really excited about yarn and knitting in the first place. Following the instructions in her book, Knitting Rules!, is how I learned to knit socks and her blog is how I found Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock, my favorite sock yarn. Her blog is also part of why I started spinning. So yeah, I have a big knitterly crush on her. I also adore the writing of Clara Parkes. I learned so much from her books (The Knitter's Book of Yarn, The Knitters Book of Wool, and The Knitter's Book of Socks) about fiber content, yarn structure, and how it affects your knitting. I highly recommend them.
4. What is your favourite finished object?
My favorite completed project is difficult to choose but I think it might be my Rock Island shawl (designed by Jared Flood) knit with Mithril, a lovely laceweight Merino wool yarn now sold by The Verdant Gryphon. It's such a great weight and a versatile piece: pretty enough to be worn over a dress but casual enough to be worn kerchief-style on an everyday basis. It is probably my most worn shawl and it is surprisingly warm for its lightness. 

5. What inspired you to start your blog?
I started my blog, Woolen Diversions, while I was in the midst of writing my master's thesis. I had just started designing and (again!) needed a distraction from working all the time, so it fit the bill nicely. Plus, I'm pretty sure my friends were getting tired of me blabbing about yarn all the time and the blog gave me another outlet through which to do so to an audience that actually cared.
6. As a designer, what is your favourite of your own designs?
It's difficult to choose a favorite design, as I have a soft spot for all of them! I think the one that is the most fun to knit, though, is my Syrinx Shells cowl design. It is made with superbulky Malabrigo Rasta yarn and incorporates a really interesting and addicting Estonian shell stitch. Since it's such a bulky yarn the knitting goes super quickly and the cables, lace, and twisted stitches are really fun to work.
7. If you could give 3 pieces of yarny advice, what would they be?
1- Knit everything. Even if you think you can't do it, try it, you might like it. For the longest time I thought knitted socks were weird and totally didn't get it. Then I knit them, saw how awesome they were, and now they're my favorite!
2- Study up. Learn about fiber, learn about yarn structure, and think about these things when you are choosing yarn for a project. Besides being a fascinating topic in and of itself, the anatomy of the yarn used makes a huge difference in the overall quality and beauty of a finished piece.
3- Use the good stuff when you can. I'm a sucker for hand-dyed, natural fibers and have found that if I don't love the yarn I'm using, I won't finish or love the knitted item, so for me it's worth the expense. I also like supporting artisans and companies whose work and ethics I admire, so that comes into my choices as well.

Alicia is doing a giveaway of 2 patterns; and you could be in with a chance to win BOTH of them. So what do you have to do?
1. Pop over and like Alicia's Facebook page; then come back here and leave a comment letting me know you've done it.
2. Pop over to Ravelry and add Alicia as one of your favourite designers; then come back and leave a seperate comment letting me know which of Alicia's designs is your favourite.
If you do both 1 and 2, please make sure you leave 2 comments, to be in it to win it!!!
The winner(s) will be chosen at random on Saturday 27th April 2013!!!

Thanks so much Alicia for the wonderful knit nerds interview and the fabulous giveaway.
V xo

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Pretty Green Eyelet Rib//WIP Wednesday

Yup, that's right - I cast on my 2nd pair of socks. These are still knit in DK and from the same book as my first pair but with a little bit of interest and a slightly different heel:
 I am in love with the eyelet rib detail, it's super pretty and it's knit in a 5-stitch pattern:
I have to admit that I *might* be slightly addicted to socks - and by slightly I mean completely!!! I've bought a copy of the book Socktopus AND some gorgeous candy skein fingering yarn; so some very beautiful socks will be on the needles very soon. I promise I'm not ignoring my other WIP's, I do intend on getting back to them later this week.
Most of my family is away this week to Belfast this week; Robbie (my oldest) was supposed to be going with them but unfortunately he caught a nasty bug so he's spending this week with me. Today we are off up the coast, I'll share a couple of photos later in the week - especially as some of them will be yarny.
I know I'm on a yarn diet - however I did state that this week was a free week; and I'm trying to get all the yarn together I need to knit my queue; anyway stop by later in the week.
As usual I am playing along with Tami and Ginny; what are you knitting this week?
V xo

Friday, 12 April 2013

Travel Socks//Finished Object Friday

I think since I started this blog last February, I've mentioned (quite a number of times) that I want to be the kind of knitter who isn't afraid to learn new skills and move forward with her craft. Thus last week I cast on my very first pair of socks; to say I was nervous is an understatement! However they actually knit up really quickly and I'm totally in love with them:
 They fit really well; to be honest the toes are the only part I'm not hugely happy with - I'm not that good at grafting yet, but I'm sure I shall get there:
 I am very happy with the heel, considering most knitters find turning the heel is the hardest part, I really enjoyed it and I think it came out pretty well. I actually found picking up for the gusset was the hardest part:
 And of course no sock photo shoot is complete without some kind of arty shot; so here it is:
And in true knitter style, I have already cast on my 2nd travel socks - which are some pretty eyelet rib ones from the same book. Thank you so much to everyone for commenting on my WIP wednesday post - I've had a look at quite alot of sock patterns on Ravelry as a result.
As usual I am playing along with Tami; have a knitty Friday and an inspired weekend.
V xo

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Travel Socks//WIP Wednesday

It's always around this time of year that I seem to go out more; maybe it's the lighter days or maybe there are just more events centered around spring/summer. Last year, as a very new knitter, I wasn't sure what a travel project should entail - what size, how complicated etc. I spent much of last summer taking out complicated shawls (Hogwarts Express) or a baby cardigan that I made so many mistakes in that I didn't gift it. Fast forward to this year and I realised; as a more experienced knitter; that I needed something small, easy and without too many stitches. I asked on Ravelry and the vast majority of people voted for socks - I haven't knit socks, ever. I've tried using the magic loop method but failed due to length of needles, wrong yarn, complicated pattern - it just wasn't happening.
However I finally got my sock kit together, I bought a sock knitting book a few years ago called How to Knit Socks by Edie Eckman - it's a range of patterns that starts a new sock knitter off using DK weight yarn (instead of 4-ply sock). The first pattern in the book is a very basic sock, knit on 5 (or 4) dpn's - I happen to have gained some dpn's; and they were in the right size. I had bought some very pretty debbie bliss rialto print DK yarn that just seemed perfect - and off I went:
 Within just 3 days I had finished my first sock!! I had a blast knitting this; the rib went really quickly - then it's just plain knitting and turning the heel - I did put in a lifeline at this point because I was freaking out just a little bit however it actually went very well....... as did picking up stitches for the gusset. Don't get me wrong sock #1 is not perfect, but it fits really well and it looks super pretty - I'm very happy with it and I might be slightly addicted to sock knitting. I have started on sock #2, but it's going a little slower because it's been a super busy few days:
I will admit that I haven't travelled much with these socks; I wanted to get used to the structure of socks and feel comfortable knitting them before taking them out. I'm now fairly certain I could take my socks anywhere (with the pattern) and not have issues with mistakes. I can't believe how afraid I was of socks - they look really complicated, but I think the best thing for me to do was start with a thicker yarn and bigger needles just to explore sock knitting. I plan on knitting a couple more pairs from this book and then moving to something in a 4-ply (need to get some smaller dpn's). What are your favourite 4-ply sock patterns?

Next week I will be working on a special design project, as my family are all away in Belfast for the week, I will share a couple of small sneak peeks but nothing too major. I also need to get Kristofer's puppy finished, Robbie's dinosaur started and the start of a Monkey gift - it's going to be a hectic knitting time but I'm looking forward to getting stuck in. Lastly Kristofer has asked me to knit him some socks; he also claims that "my mummy can knit everything" - I swear he thinks I'm magic.

I'm playing along with Tami and Ginny as usual; go check our their blogs to see what everyone else is working on.
V xo

Friday, 5 April 2013

Cadbury Owls//Finished Object Friday

My Cadbury Owls Sweater has been officially finished for over 2 weeks; but due to hail/snow/rain/sleet it was difficult to get photos outside. Last weekend we finally had a day that was dry enough and sunny enough to get some pictures - so thank you to my lovely MIL for being willing to stand outside when it was less than warm!!!

This is my favourite spot in our garden, I take alot of my FO photos here:
 Of course I had to to a close up of the Owls, I'm really pleased with how neatly they came out - the really do look like Owls!!! I was going to put buttons on all the owls but then I found these in our button bag (there was only 6 - and I need 2 spares, just incase) so I sewed them on and fell in love:
 And of course a standing photo, I'm glad I did the extra length on this - I think it would have been far too short if I hadn't. This angle makes my boobs look giant - they are actually not quite this big IRL! hehe:
I already have some yummy dusty pink yarn to make another Owl's sweater, maybe with large pearl beads for eyes this time? I think I will make it a little longer - more tunic length if I can but I love the short sleeves - I like to layer.
What have you finished lately? Pop over to Tami's blog to check out other FO's.
V xo

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Knit the Queue//Knit Life

I am still playing along with Knit the Queue over on Ravelry; it's taken me a good while to settle on my final queue for 2013 but it's finally done; I have 22 items on there with just these 5 that don't have yarn yet. So what's the plan? I am going to buy the yarn for these last 5 knits; then I'm on a yarn diet (except for gift knits) until the end of year. Then in 2014 I shall join in Knit the Queue again and try to use at least half of my remaining stash - so we'll see if it works. I think I shall probably do some destashing also - it's good for the bank balance and such!!!!
If you've looked at my queue you will have noticed a couple of toys with no yarn choices - these are both gifts; one is for my oldest son and the other is a baby gift - I'll get yarn for those as and when I need it.
Notions (needles, soak, buttons etc) will not be included in my stash list - so I can still buy a few things. Next on my list is a swift and ball winder - those are pretty important for me.
How do you destash? Are you on a yarn diet?
V xo

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Practice makes Perfect?//WIP Wednesday

I would love to say that I have worked tiredlessly on all of my projects this week, but that's just not true - I have done a little bit of work on most of my projects but not enough to share them all with you so I'll just share my practice pieces with you!!!
Firstly my lovely MIL bought me some Debbie Bliss cotton DK yarn for Easter; I really wanted some cotton to get started on amigurumi - did it work? Not so much; I did some practicing on a tiny piglet but amigurumi is small, the stitches are small and it's hard work - I will be persevering, but maybe on the weekend when the children are with their dad!! These are the pretty yarns and the super cute bag my lovely wife bought for me (UK people - the bag is from Primark):
One of the projects I have done quite a bit of work on this week is my fair isle practice piece, which will be a felted needle case. I'm over halfway done with this now; just 30 more rows to go. I'm really gaining speed and confidence with this piece; my tension is getting more even - it's hard to get tension when you're knitting both english and continental in one piece!!! Anyway here it is:
 What have you been working on this week? As usual I'm playing along with Tami and Ginny - go check out their blogs and see what everyone else is working on.
V xo