Saturday, 12 November 2011

Buoyed by success...

I'm delighted to say that my two super cute Saffron cardigans went down a storm with the recipients! You know what it's like when you make something as a gift - you have that last minute panic that the person you made it for isn't going to like it, or they do, but it doesn't fit. Add in to the mix the fact that the recipients are 4 years old, and would presumably have no qualms about tossing it aside if they didn't like it. I needn't have worried. The gift wrap was barely off and they were dragging the cardigans on. They insisted they wore them for the rest of the night, and refused to take them off to go to bed. That goes down as a success in my book!

I don't have any photo's of them on, but here's the pink one finished:


... and here's the lilac one:


As soon as they were cast off, I was itching to get something else cast on. My next planned project was a lovely side to side jacket/cardigan from Drops Design. As some other Ravellers had complained the finished result was too short, I decided to cast on for the medium length, while following all other instructions for the small. About half a day into the knitting, I felt it was still going to be too short, so ripped out, and cast on again for the XXL (ridiculous as it sounds!), still following the rest of the instructions for the small. Several days into the knitting for that size, I realised it was STILL going to be too short. The Rowan Kid Classic that I had chosen simply had too much 'bounce' for all the ribbing in the pattern (which was supposed to be knit in Garnstudio Drops Alpaca). I made the painful decision to rip out once and for all. I do really like the pattern though, so may go back and knit again, this time in the recommended yarn. If I do, I will still make it longer than the recommended length though.

I decided to use the yarn for this lovely Holl Sweater from Kirsten Johnstone. As soon as I saw this pattern, I thought it would look lovely in this oatmeal coloured yarn. I must say, I'm thoroughly enjoying knitting this, and it's just knitting up so quickly! I've done less than a day's knitting, and already I'm 2/3 of the way through the front:


I'm also doing this as part of a KAL on Ravelry. If you fancy joining us, dive on in!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Lilac Saffron cardigan...nearly there...

Lilac Saffron cardigan by sandra_mcg
Lilac Saffron cardigan, a photo by sandra_mcg on Flickr.
Fairly powering through my Saffron now. That’s me finished the ruffle, and just got the sleeves to go now. I’m going this as part of Anadiomena’s Spice Girls KAL, which is my first KAL and came along at just the right time. The KAL is running from mid-September to end October, and I’m hoping to have this finished by the last weekend in October to give as a gift.

This is the second time I’ve knitted this pattern, and I must say, it’s beautiful. Such an easy knit, but so pretty. The wool I’m using is Sirdar Snuggly Pearls, which has a lovely thread of mother of pearl running through it, and that just adds to the sweet prettiness of the cardigan I think.

I’m off to a couple of workshops next week as part of the Yarn Cake’s first birthday celebrations. Ideally, I’d like to have this finished by them so I can start playing around with the techniques I learn at the workshops, but I’m not so sure I’ll manage it as I’ve got a pretty busy week coming up. I’ll just need to get as much done as possible this weekend...

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Scottish Quilt Championships 2011

I spent a great day at the Scottish Quilt Championships at Ingliston on Saturday 24 September. As usual, I arrived early and left late – I was in the door and browsing within 15 minutes of the doors opening, and was one of the last folk lingering as the stalls were closing up. As well as competition quilts, there were several special exhibitions from individuals and from quilting groups.

I’m not sure what it is I get out of a show like this. Is it looking at the quilts on display or is it looking at the trader stalls? I think it must be a bit of both. There were plenty of quilts on display, and the Royal Highland Showground has a fair bit of space for showing quilts. There was the quilt competition, with Bed, Cot, and Miniature quilt categories as well as Large and Small Wallhangings, under 16, and the competition theme. I’m not sure what the theme was, but by I’m guessing from the entries that it was some kind of woodland theme. There were also special exhibitions by both individuals and quilting groups.

I took pictures of my favourite quilts. You can see the full set on my Flickr page.

I have to confess, I like bed quilts, rather than wallhangings, and traditional block patterns over art quilts, or quilts representing a scene. You’d probably have guessed that just from looking at the ones I picked out. One thing that did surprise me though was how much I liked the Baltimore quilts that were on display. The 2 that I’ve photographed were simply stunning.  I can only dream of having the time, skill, patience and imagination that must have gone into making them. I was rather disappointed in the number of entries in some of the categories. The under 16 competition for example had only one entry! Now I know that there are many talented quilters out there, both at home and as members of local groups. If you know a young quilter, why not encourage them to enter next year – it would be a great experience for them I’m sure, and good for us to get a glimpse of how much young talent is out there.

There was also a nice selection of traders. One of the new traders that I hadn’t seen before was Images of Egypt (for some reason I can’t find a web address – if anyone knows of one let me know!) They had a nice selection of fabrics at very reasonable prices, and some fabulous (I think appliqu├ęd) quilts on display. I made my one and only purchase at their stall – a bag of beads for my Saffron knitting projects. There can’t be many other folk who could spend all day at the show and still come out essentially empty handed, but I do it nearly every year. Clearly, I’m not as able as others to think on my feet!
One thing that I did find a bit annoying was that there were a couple of stalls selling non-quilting related things. There was one stall exclusively selling jewellery and another quilting stall with a fair bit of shelf space devoted to knitting wool. While I like looking at jewellery as much as the next person, and I’m a knitter so enjoy looking at wools, I was at a quilt show and wanted to see those spaces taken up with quilty things. I’m worried that more and more stalls will ‘diversify’, so that in the end the quilting gets squeezed out and the trading hall becomes more of a general sale. This is exactly what has happened to the Creative Stitches show at the SECC. When I was there in March, there were plenty of stalls selling clothes, jewellery, handbags and chocolates but barely anything selling needlecraft supplies, which is what I had spend my entry fee to see.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Saffron cardigan - in progress

Progress as as 15 August 2011.

First ball of yarn just finished. Reckon I'm about 2/3 of the way through the body. Still got body to finish, frill round the body, then both sleeves.

2 more balls of yarn to go, so fingers crossed there should be enough.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Less talking more knitting please!

Good start to the week - seems that the Royal Mail don't follow the local public holidays, so my KnitPros Interchangeables arrived on Monday - yay! Overall, I'm delighted with the needles - I've posted a review, which I'll keep updated.

Now that the KnitPros have arrived, I managed to make a start on my Saffron cardigan, that's going to be my 'lunchtime' project. Normally, I'll spend a quick half hour eating lunch at my desk and aimlessly browsing the internet, then get back to work, but I figured that I could make better use of my time by having a nice easy project to work on. My circular shawl project would be no use - it takes over half an hour to do one row, but I should be able to get a good few rows of this cute little cardigan done in the time between eating lunch and having to get back to work. Well that was the theory, but boy, does knitting in public attract a lot of attention! As soon as I brought the needles out of the bag folk were asking what I was working on, who it was for and so on. I spent so much time showing them my pattern, discussing progress so far, and hearing all about their own projects that I barely had time to get any knitting done. Yet, these were people that I'd hardly ever spoken to before - yes we'd nod in the corridor, but that was about it. Who would have thought knitting could be such a sociable thing! While it's been nice to talk to new people, I am hoping that after a couple of days, interest will have died down and I can focus on the knitting.

REVIEW: KnitPro Interchangeables Nickel Plated

Summary:

Lovely needles – easy to work with. Starter pack does represent a good saving on buying the components separately. Only downside is the plastic wallet – quite a cheap feel to it, and not designed to accommodate new tips/cables as you add to your collection.

Detailed review:

Nickel Tips: Nice to work with. Not at all slippy like others have found. Quite the contrary in fact - the stitches feel nice and safe on the needles, and need a bit of a push to move along them. Not much of a push mind you - the stitches move along nice and smoothly. Some have mentioned the tips are cold, but I haven’t found them to be (but I’m used to metal needles anyway)

Cables: Really flexible. Stitches move along the cable easily.

Interchangeability: Great idea and no problems so far. Tips have screwed on to cables without difficulty and the tightening key makes them feel nice and secure. Join between tip and cable is very smooth, with no snagging.

Accessories: Tightening key feels very flimsy, but is probably up for the job – the tips and cables are very fine, so the tightening key needs to be too. I’ve used the short cable with an ender on one end when picking up some dropped stitches, and the enders seemed fine. Not as easy to screw in as the tips though, and I ended up with a slight ‘dip’ between the cable and the ender that some stitches could get caught on. I’m not sure whether this was just because I hadn’t screwed them well enough in. I was in a hurry and didn’t need them ultra secure, so I didn’t bother too much. They were a bit fiddly to unscrew again, but not a major problem.

Storage Wallet: Quite disappointing. Cheap plastic feel to it. The pack has 3 sets of tips, and there are 3 slots for storing tips. As it’s a starter pack, I imagine most people will be intending to add additional tips as they go, so would have expected some spare tip slots to accommodate these. The slots that are there are way wider than required for the tips themselves, so in theory you would be able to put more than 1 set of tips in each slot. I don’t fancy doing that though – too much risk of them scratching each other or getting mixed up. There are 2 front pockets that must be intended for the cables, but they’d need to be coiled quite tightly, and I think I’d prefer to relax them a little during storage. Ultimately, I think I’ll end up making a custom wallet to store them in.
________________________

I bought the Starter set, which has 4, 5 and 6 mm tips, and 60, 80 and 100 cm cables, all in a see through plastic wallet. Each cable pack includes a pair of cable enders and a key for tightening (i.e. the starter pack comes with 6 enders, and 3 tightening keys). I added extra 3mm tips and 150cm cable.

Date purchased: 18 July 2011
Purchased from:
Art of Yarn
Last updated: 24 July 2011

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Back on track...eventually

Phew! After two weeks of thinking about it, making a mess of it, and having to draft my mum in to help, I'm finally out of my dropped stitch nightmare. In the end, had to rip back about 3 hours worth of knitting, but I reckon I spent double that just trying to retrieve the situation, and failing miserably.

Still, not to worry - it's fixed now and I've been able to get some work done on it today. Managed to get a few rows past where I made the original mistake, and I'm back to enjoying working on it.

Rather frustratingly, my KnitPros still haven't arrived. The shop did say 6-8 days for delivery, and it's still within that timescale, but I want them now!! On top of that, it's a holiday weekend here, so no postal deliveries until Tuesday at the earliest now. Fingers crossed they'll be waiting for me when I get home from work on Tuesday night...

Monday, 11 July 2011

A stitch in time would have saved more than nine...

It's been a frustrating week on the shawl knitting front.

Made a silly, but (what should have been) easily rectifiable mistake at the beginning of a pattern row. And of course, I only realised it at the end of the row! Not to worry, should have been straightforward enough to work back and fix it. Disaster struck though - managed to drop a stitch early on and really messed up trying to pick it up. This happened over a week ago and I'd been dreading going back to it to fix it. I finally bit the bullet on Sunday, and ended up spending the whole day trying to fix it...and it's still not finished! Nearly there, but not quite. I'll be busy most of the week, so it'll probably be the weekend before I can pick it up again.

I'm not going to let it get me down though - I've been really enjoying it, and had been making good progress, so I'm looking forward to getting back on with it.

Got myself a little present to take my mind off of it - ordered a nice shiny set of KnitPro interchangeable needles, nickel plate. I'm hoping they'll arrive at some point this week. I've got a nice little project lined up for them when they arrive. Will need to get my shawl sorted before I start on that one though...

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Circular shawl - progress so far

I knew I wasn't going to have as much time to spend on this over the last week. I've probably managed about 6 hours or so. Have managed to get through 1 repeat of the pattern in that time.

This is the first time I've knitted this shawl pattern, but my mum has used it many times over the years and she recommended it as an easy but effective pattern to start off with. She wasn't wrong! The lacy pattern is very simple and easy to memorise.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Knitting's taken over

Haven't made much progress on the Sunshine and Shadow. Since I came back from holiday, all I've wanted to do is knit. This is what I've been working on:


I'm working on the circular version. It's my first shawl, and I'm really enjoying it. That said, it's quite an easy pattern, in comparison with most shawl patterns. It's knitted in 3ply wool on circular wires, with garter stitch in the centre and a simple but effective lace pattern at the edges. I've been able to devote quite a bit of time to it over the last week, so I've made real progress, and have finished the centre. The lacy part's going to take quite a bit more time though - each row has well over 400 stitches, so it takes a while to get through each row. It's also difficult to get photos because there are so many stitches on the wire, so I might have to wait until the end to photograph, rather than taking in progress photos.

Here's the link to the Ravelry page to see the other projects:
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/shawl-pbnc8008

Sunday, 1 May 2011

What a difference a week makes!

Wow, I've made some real progress with the Sunshine and Shadow this week.

Last week, I had just finished cutting the fabric into strips. The guidance in the book was to piece all the strips together, join them into a tube, then cut strips across the width of the tube and unpick one of the joins where the edge of the block would be. I gave this a go, but I found it was really difficult to cut the tube of fabric straight, and ended up with some fairly wonky strips. Next time round, I decided to join all the strips into one piece of fabric, but not join together into a tube, then just cut into strips across the full width (slightly awkward, as my mat is only 24" long, while the pieced fabric is about 26" wide, so I can't cut in one go).


Once cut, I stitched the free ends together, to form the tube, and unpicked one seam to form the edge.

I pieced the strips into pairs, then the pairs together to form blocks 4 deep. I'm not going to sew them any bigger than that until I'm ready to piece the whole top.

I'm quite surprised how quickly it's come together. This is how far I've got in a week -


Not quite a quarter of the way yet, but pretty close.

I'm really enjoying working on this. The colours are lovely.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Progress made on a UFO!

This week's been a really productive one - at last!

Picked up a UFO from about 4 years ago, where I had bought all of the fabric, started cutting, then life got in the way, and it got abandonned. This week, I managed to get all of the fabric cut, and make a start on the pieceing.

It's an amish sunshine and shadow inspired by one I saw in the Quilter's Guide to Amish Quilts (the one that's the inspiration is on p36 if you're interested!)

Strips all cut and ready to be pieced.
I just love those solids, and the fact that when put together they are so much more than the sum of their parts. The strips are all 2 inches, so the sqaures should be 1 1/2 inches when pieced. I've realised that in these photos, they're grouped together by colour, this isn't the order they sit in the quilt.

Of course, all this means now is that my Blackford's Beauty now moves from being a WIP to a UFO

The Quilter's Guide to Amish QuiltsThe Quilter's Guide to Amish Quilts 

Saturday, 16 April 2011

An unproductive week

Haven't had a minute to myself this week, so no progress whatsoever on my Blackford's Beauty blocks.

I did get a treat through the post though, The Quilter's Guide to Amish quilts arrived in the post yesterday. Haven't managed to go through it properly yet, but I'm looking forward to having a good read through. I'm a real fan of Amish quilts.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

First block finished

Finished the first block of my Blackford's Beauty today.

Ended up abandoning the block I started last week - too many mistakes in it to make it work. Second go was much better. Decided to start with the darker flashes - a bit more forgiving on the points that the bright yellow of my first attempt. Really love the way these solids look together - jewel-like, don't you think?



Made a start on block #2 this afternoon too.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

What I've been working on

I spent all day yesterday working on the first block for my new Blackford's Beauty variation quilt, and it's still not finished! Struggling a bit to get all the points and joins matched up. Will try to do a bit more this morning, and hopefully get it finished.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Paisley Patchers 25th Anniversary Show

Last Saturday (26th March) was the Paisley Patchers 25th Anniversary Quilt Show. What a lovely day - lots of super quilts.