Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Happy and Peaceful Christmas to you all

Hello strangers!

There's no doubt about it, I have been a very bad blogger of late. Life has been the thief of time, for which I apologise. I'm sorry not to have visited you all for so long, I promise to do better in 2009.

I have a simple knit to show you, which I finished last month. DD asked for a scarf - "by tonight, if not tomorrow" if you please, in baby pink with twisty bits. This is what I came up with, knitted using Sirdar Click chunky it took about 10 hours all told. There are more photos on Ravelry if you wanted to take a look.

02/08/2009 Back in December, I added this pattern to Ravelry. At the time, I really couldn't make head or tail of what I needed to do in order to make the pattern available as a pdf, and as I really didn't want to sell it I simply wrote the instructions out on the pattern page.
It has been pointed out to me this morning that this is the wrong thing to have done, and so I have transferred the pattern here and provided a blog link instead.

Cast on 27 sts

Row 1: k12, p3, k12

Row 2: ( and all alt rows ) k4, p8, k3, p8, k4

Row 3: k4, C4B, p3, C4F, k4

Row 5: ( and rows 7 and 9 ) as row 1

These 10 rows form the pattern. Repeat until you are fed up with it, and cast off. Add fringing if desired.

It is possible to knit this scarf with any yarn that knits to a tension of 14 stitches and 19 rows = 4 inches (10 cm) on #10.5 (6½mm) needles ( although I used 7mm )

I am quite sure also that by playing with the stitch count either side of the cable section, it could be knitted in any thickness of yarn and needle gauge.
I really would like to apolgise to Ravelry for this oversight on my behalf.

I had a wonderful weekend at the end of November when I went on a Sock Knitting Retreat with Lucy Neatby. Fab-u-lous and Craig would say, and many thanks to Alice from Socktopus for all her hard work in organising such an inspirational weekend for us all.

Not much more news, other than that my nephew's treatment appears to be going well and that my daughter has a Staff Nurse post all lined up for when her training has finished. Nursing jobs being as scarce as they are, it's great to know that she has her first footing on that career ladder. I have heard glowing reports from the hospital grapevine that she has been a great student nurse, and I am sure she will be a great asset to the nursing profession.

I shall leave you with my usual photo at this time of the year. Knitted years ago by my mum ( who was a wonderfully talented and resourceful knitter ) this is my one true family heirloom.

A Happy and Peaceful Christmas everyone, see you all very soon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Splodgy Scarf

This is another of the yarns that I dyed on the Dyeing Workshop. I was disappointed by the splodginess but really pleased with what I managed to make :-)

The scarf is a Sue Morgan design, available from Get Knitted - you might need to scroll down on the link. It's a very simple knit, it's a two row pattern, one of which is GS and I like the finished result very much. I used #9 Aero needles.

And the splodges have disappeared into the pattern :-)

I am going to give this to a friend for Christmas - they are "her" colours. I'm not going to say who, I don't THINK she reads my blog but you never know. She's a good friend though, and I'm pleased I've made her something I know she'll like :-)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hand Dyed Monkey Socks

Thank you all for your supportive comments on my previous post.

Do you remember this superwash merino yarn that I dyed on the Dyeing Workshop back in August?

Well here it is, knitted up into a pair of Monkey socks :-)

Not perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing of socks, but I have derived no end of satisfaction from knitting with a yarn that I dyed myself. I used the usual 2.5mm needles.

The yarn was dyed using acid dyes, and I am pleased to report that none came off on my hands while knitting ( which isn't always the case with some bought yarns ) and that it was also colourfast on blocking too.

I don't think I'll ever put anyone out of business, but for someone like me who is not in the least bit artistic the workshop was great fun and I'd recommend it to anyone.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Words

I haven't been here for a while. And apologies to all of you whose blogs I haven't visited recently.

We've had a lot to think about in chez Aknita in the last few weeks. There's been a lot of worry and uncertainty, waiting, and new words to learn.

The first new words we had to learn were brain tumour. Then there was genetic. The best word was noncancerous.

Then there was the surgery to remove the tumour, then the histology to wait for and another new word - medulloblastoma - and life has changed for ever.

My nephew has 12 months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to go through. I'm obviously being somewhat reticent here in blogland and don't want to go into too much personal detail, other than that we are all being encouraged to think of a positive result, so there's light at the end of this dark tunnel. It is very rare for this type of cancer to affect adults.

I am in turn angry, confused and just plain mad that this can happen to such a lovely young man.

I think my ventures into blogland are going to haphazard for a while. Please bear with me if I'm not reading your blogs as often as I used to, and keep us all in your thoughts.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Swaps Are Like Buses Too ;-)

Do you remember the socks I knitted for Hanne recently? They were knitted as part of a secret sock swap over on the CTNY forum, and yesterday my wonderful socks arrived in return. I was very excited indeed when I realised that my secret swap parter was none other than Gilraen who is one of the most accomplished sock knitters that I know.

Gilraen has a wonderful knack of choosing just the right pattern for a given yarn, and these wonderful socks are no exception. Knitted using Evolution yarn in # Lime and Violet these lovely socks fit like gloves, and I am a very lucky recipient indeed.

My lovely parcel was completed with a box of yummy French sweeties, my absolute favourites. Thank you Gilraen, for such a thoughtful parcel.

And as if yesterday wasn't exciting enough, the postman called again today :-) this time with my Secret Autumn Santa swap present from the lovely Linda

One again I have been remarkably spoiled. Just look at this pretty box and how beautifully everything was wrapped.

My parcel included a lovely Welsh Dragon pen and notebook, a lovely sheepy mug and even little sheepy all of my own :-) There was also a candle, some delicious Green and Black chocolate, some Options chocolaty drinks ( there's a definite theme there ) and a ball of beautiful Skeins merino/bamboo mix in Jay.

The sheep is a nodding sheep btw - I love him, he agrees with every word I say ;)

Linda also very thoughfully included patterns for the yarn - the Climbing Vines Scarf pattern, the Summer Ivy Socks pattern, and her very own pattern for Diagon Alley Socks.

I would like to thank you both very much for your kindness and generosity, and also for being such lovely friends :-)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Forest Canopies are like Buses .............

......... you don't see one for ages, then three come along at once ;-)

This first one was knitted using size 7 Aero knitting needles and is a recent Yarn Yard Club Yarn. The lovely foresty colours made it a perfect choice for a new Autumn shawl and it's all mine :-)

The main skein of yarn went on FOR EVER and so I have fourteen pattern repeats and eighteen border rows with absolutely none of the main colour left aside from yarn from the cast on and cast off!

All of my shawls have names, there's my Dreamcatcher shawl, my Art Deco shawl, and now this - my Norway shawl :-)

Secondly, this shawl is on the way to none other than Jo, who is sadly blogless but nevertheless is the undisputed Queen of Cardigans. Again, it was knitted using size 7 Aero needles, this time the yarn is Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn and the shade is Birches.

I do hope you like it Jo.

And finally, something a little different. Knitted using 5.5 mm needles ( and I am pleased to say that I only had to resort to nasty circular needles for the border ) this shawl was knitted using two skeins of Colinette DK ( the one they had before Cadenza ) in # Sahara.
It's on the way to a friend who hasn't been feeling well recently - I hope it's bright enough to cheer her up :-)


The last two shawls were blocked using my new blocking wires - oh how I love my blocking wires :-)

There are times when the right equipment really does make a difference

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Professional Finishing with Debbie Abrahams

Thursday was as good a day as I have spent for ages. I went along to my LYS, The Knitting Parlour , to attend a workshop with Debbie Abrahams and what a brilliant and wonderful day it was. The workshop was all about how to achieve a professional finish, and included techniques such as blocking and pressing, joining the shoulders by casting off the stitches together, picking up stitches around the neck, sewing in a drop-shoulder sleeve, sewing the knitted panels together using mattress stitch and sewing in the ends.

I can do all of the above adequately but not to a high standard, so I was very keen to learn how to do them all better.

Now Blossom, I know you sat very patiently at Colinette a couple of years ago and showed me how to do mattress stitch but I've never really "got" it so I thought the workshop would be a good opportunity to reinforce the principles and more besides. Debbie had provided us with "homework" - a little teddy's sweater to knit, and we started by blocking the panels. Not mentioning any names, but someone misread the pattern and her sweater had a scoop neckline unlike all the others but hey ho - perhaps we'll just call it a design feature ;-)!

It was so lovely to meet so many other knitters - some of them Ravellers, some of them who had no idea that the internet was such a useful tool for us all. There were sock knitters and almost complete beginners and it was fab to meet them all. Debbie was simply lovely, a charming, patient and friendly young woman, and such a good teacher :-) She was wearing a beaded hand knit in Rowan 4-ply soft which she said had washed and washed - there was no sign of pilling at all.

We started with a three needle bind off - now I didn't know that it's best to use a needle one size larger than you've knitted with to do this, it makes it less tight. Picking up the syitches on a neckband was a revelation - I taught myself to do this, it's amazing what CAN be achieved when it's done correctly.

And as for mattress stitch - well by George I think I've got it! I haven't finished teddy's jumper yet, Debbie said she wanted us to do a sleeve and side seam and leave the rest to work on at home. But I have sewn the best dropped sleeve ever and the best side and sleeve seams too and am chuffed to bits.

I learned a lot yesterday, the workshop ( which included a lovely lunch ) was very good value for money, and I wouldn't hesitate to anything similar again there. I have a list of 2009 Rowan workshops at The Knitting Parlour if anyone would be interested in going. I bought Debbie's DVD, entitled funnily enough "A Professional Finish" and also there was a little retail therapy I'm afraid ( it's not often I pass on 10% off ) I bought some Sirdar Click Aran in shade 128 and pattern no 9073 A great way to recharge the batteries.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Photos at Last!

Sorry it has taken an age to post these! We are very pleased with our new camera, though it will take a bit of getting used to.

Durham Cathedral

Our hotel looking down from the Tyne Bridge. As you can see, we couldn't have been better placed.


It was such a beautiful day :-)

The elite women

The elite men

DS is in the black running shirt between the red and green vests - the photo is clickable, he is runner 5862

He's in there too - somewhere!

Five minutes later and the crowd of runners was much more tightly packed - it would have been very difficult to pick him out in that lot!

After the race in beautiful South Shields

The yellow buses were used to transport kit from start to finish.

The Red Arrows

Spot the sea gull :-)

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Great North Run

First of all apologies for the picture-free post. We have a new camera as the old one has most definitely died, and we need to load the software onto my laptop to enable us to download. Hopefully tonight :-) ............

I have had a pretty busy time recently. Mum has had another fall in which she sustained some very nasty bruising, especially to her face :-( and what with one thing and another time just flies by.

So it was with a mix of relief and anticipation that Mr A and I set off for Newcastle on Friday morning to watch our oldest son take part in the Great North Run.

We initially tried to book accommodation back in March/April time, and the nearest we could get to Newcastle was a Premier Inn in Bishop Aukland, so imagine my surprise when I checked their website on Thursday and found a vacancy in Newcastle Quays. I phoned straight away and changed our booking - best thing I have ever done. We were so well situated for the Race, literally underneath the Tyne Bridge.

Newcastle is such a lovely city. I doubt I have been anywhere where the people are so friendly and the smiles and warmth so genuine.

Mr A and I have never been to this part of the UK before, an omission on our parts, and we will most certainly be visiting again.

We spent a cold wet Saturday in Durham. Again, what a lovely city, the Cathedral is one of the best I have visited. After a long late lunch we met DS from his train ( he had travelled up from London and was staying in University Halls in Durham with two of his old schoolfriends who were travelling up from Worcester ) and we spent a pleasant couple of hours with him before heading back to Newcastle.

And so to Race Day. The weather was absolutely perfect, cool and sunny. Mr A and I ensconced ourselves on the Tyne Bridge, and watched the Wheelchair Athletes and elite women go through, and then waited for the rest of the field. DS was at the bridge within 12 minutes of the start, we saw him and he saw us :-) and so before the Red Arrows flew by at 11:00 we were on our way to the Metro and South Shields and the finish line.

We never did see DS finish - he was at the family reunion area waiting for us!!!!!! You see he ran the race in a staggering PB time of 1hour, 22 minutes and 44 seconds coming in at position 181 out of all those thousands of people. I am so proud of him. We left him at around 1:00 to go to met his friends, with a feeling of having seen very little of the race, but having seen DS on the iconic bridge was ample for us. Seeing him fit and well at the end was wonderful too. It may be 260 plus miles to Newcastle from Malvern, but every single one of them was worth it :-)

We arrived home to two days worth of post, and to put the icing on the cake of a very special day, DS has been accepted to run in the 2009 London Marathon.

What a perfect weekend, photos WILL follow but a weekend so special simply couldn't wait!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More Monkey Business

I love swaps!

Mind you in February of this year when I signed up for a slow sock swap on CTnY I had my doubts. I had only knitted three pairs of socks prior to that so I was neither an accomplished nor experienced sock knitter. So I've been practicing ;-)

I've been longing to show these off, but have had to wait until they had been received. I posted them last Thursday, the lady in the P.O said it would take a week for them to get to Finland and she was right.

My swappee was Hanne and I was very relieved to see that the socks were a perfect fit as you can see here. I had had a "moment" earlier this morning though. I'd looked at Hanne's blog and seen these - it seems great minds think alike.

I used 2.5mm Lantern Moon dpns, and a Yarn Yard Club yarn from last year. The yarn had spent some time deciding what it wanted to be, and I am very pleased it eventually chose to be Monkey socks. Mind you, it was a very hard thing to put them in the post....... :-)

I also made a little gift bag with a couple of little treats in.

I sent the last few grams of yarn in with the parcel too in case altertions were necessary. Ans now all I have to do is wait to receive a lovely pair of socks myself. I am giving the postman funny looks...................................

Speaking of The Yarn Yard ( which I invaribly do on my blog ) you might like to pop over there if you haven't already, and read her post "A Twilight Barking"