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!