Friday, 31 October 2014

Something Wicked This Way Comes...

... probably not what you're expecting though.

I have a FINISHED ITEM to show you!!! In fact, brace yourself, I have TWO FINISHED ITEMS!!!

I'm talking about crochet, of course.

Ages ago (I wish I could remember when, but I don't think I made a note of it anywhere), I started making something called a Road Trip Scarf, so-called because the person who designed it was on a road trip when she did so. (I can't imagine creating a new pattern whilst on a road trip, even if it was one of our 11-hour long drives up to the Highlands of Scotland - I'd be too busy just looking out at the scenery. I'm also not clever enough to design a pattern).

Anyway, these scarves seemed to be all over the crochet groups that I'm a member of on Facebook, and around the same time, I was trying to think of something I could make with two 100g balls of King Cole Riot.

Oops, can't rotate it...

Lightbulb moment!

According to the Deramores website, the shade colour that I had - 402 - is called Wicked, so allow me to introduce my...

Wicked Scarf!! (wow, that name took some thinking about)

Haven't blocked it - literally just finished it here!!

There are lots of variations on the embellishments, but most people seem to use a mixture of flowers and braids or tassels. I squeezed almost every last inch out of the two balls of yarn, because I wanted the scarf to be as big as possible, but at some point I had to stop increasing and allow enough yarn for the edging (which I tweaked slightly from the original pattern). Once I'd done that, I still had some yarn left, so it was time to do some flowers. I wasn't too keen on the ones on the pattern, so I found these and made two, attaching a wooden bead to the centre. I also didn't like the braids on the pattern, so I made six chains (I think I chained 20), threaded a bead onto each one, and then tied three to each corner of the scarf. I still had a little bit of yarn left, so I cut it into small lengths and put tassels into the last stitch of each chain.

I'm really pleased with how it's turned out. When I started making it, I was hooked (excuse the pun) - I loved how quickly it grew. Then I kind of got a bit bored with it, and moved onto something else (more on that in a minute), and then went back to the scarf recently to try and get it finished, albeit only on an evening after Junior has gone to bed - little Mr Grabby-Hands is not conducive to getting any crochet done! I wasn't sure how my flowers and tassels would work out, I'm not very good at that kind of thing usually, but I'm pleased with them. The wooden beads knock together though, which might get a bit annoying after a while! But I like how they look. So there it is, a finished scarf - yay me!!

Speaking of Junior, I really wanted to make something for him to wear. My mother in law is always tearing patterns out of her Woman's Weekly, and one of them was a little cardigan in a kind of basketweave stitch (I think it might also be known as a waffle stitch, but don't quote me on that). So I thought I'd have a go at it. I bought the yarn from a shop in Skipton that was having a closing down sale; in hindsight I wish I'd bought a nicer colour online, but I was desperate to start making the cardigan, so I chose this pale blue. I don't really like it though as I think it's a kind of 'old-fashioned' colour, I could've gone for something a lot more vibrant. It was meant to be 4-ply, but it felt like DK to me, and it wasn't nice to work with, kind of fluffy and splitty at the same time.

But I soldiered on. I made the back. Then I made the left and right fronts. Then two sleeves. It all went surprisingly smoothly for me. Then I had to make the last piece, the collar. Such a small bit of the cardigan, but I came unstuck several times, mostly because it involved something called a Short Row Technique, which I'd never heard of before. And it wasn't explained in the pattern, it was obviously assumed that I'd know what a 'turning row' was. I didn't. I asked on the Ravelry forums and thankfully someone explained it in just the right way for it to fall into place, and I finished the collar, attached it, and then sewed all the seams. I bought some buttons the other day (with bees on, as a nod to Chris' beekeeping hobby) and attached them this evening, so this is also just finished.

Excuse the not very good photos, taken this evening in the living room where the light is a bit dim.

It's not perfect, by any means, but I am quite pleased with it because it's the first item of clothing I've ever made, if you don't count scarves and gloves etc. My sewing leaves a lot to be desired, so the seams are a bit of a mess if you look closely, and I'm not sure how long those buttons will stay on. But overall, I'm pleased, even though I think it's a bit old-fashioned. I think I'll try and get Junior to wear it once, at least, and after that it might go in his memory box as the first thing his mum ever made for him!

I don't get much time for crochet these days (not complaining though!), so the time that I can spend on it is a lot more valuable. I feel like I've really knuckled down to get these two items finished, and I'm quite proud of myself for that. There have been loads of other things that I've wanted to start, but I've been quite strict and not allowed myself to get distracted with another project. And now it feels really good to know that I've got those two out of the way!

Months ago I started a chunky tablecloth for the outside patio table; I just bought acrylic yarn from Poundworld for that, since it's only going to be used outside. It's a real slog though, the yarn is quite rough and doesn't seem to slide through my fingers so I keep having to pull a length out every few stitches. I'm not enjoying it, but I've got too far to abandon it, so I think that's going to be the next project to finish, before I allow myself to start anything new.

But not tonight - I'm off to bed!!

Happy Halloween!

Chris has bought a couple of pumpkins recently, to practice carving them for Halloween.

I know they're supposed to look 'scary' once they have a candle inside, but this one looks like something out of a horror movie, even in the day time!

Hmm, think we need to try again...

Monday, 27 October 2014

Absent Friends

It's only a coincidence that I'm writing this after my previous post where I acknowledge that I haven't been blogging as frequently as I'd like. From my Filofax 'to-blog-about' list, I thought this might be one of the easier topics to start with. But this is something I've been thinking about for a while, and I've also noticed other bloggers commenting on it.

I have a veeeerry long list in my right-hand sidebar of blogs which I read on a regular basis. There is a bit of a mixture there - quite a few were discovered thanks to a mutual love of crochet, there are one or two relating to Strictly Come Dancing and other reality tv shows, some Scottish blogs and some where I just like the style of writing.

The way that the list is arranged, is in order of most recent post first, so when you scroll down to the bottom there are the blogs which haven't been updated for months, and even years.

I wonder why?

I know it's incredibly morbid of me to even think it, but I often wonder if something awful has happened to the author of the blog - a life-changing illness or accident, or even the very worst-case scenario, that they are no longer with us. Because the thing is, unless you have a co-author, or someone who can access and edit your blog, how would anyone ever know what had happened to you? I suppose somebody could leave a comment to explain, but that's if they even know that you have a blog. Chris knows that I write this one, or at least, I've mentioned it on occasion, but I'm not sure he'd remember that, let alone know the name of it. If something terrible did happen though, updating your blog with a statement probably wouldn't be a priority for your family or friends, would it?

On a lighter note, maybe the blog authors have just got a bit fed up with blogging, or they are too busy just getting on with their lives? Which is absolutely fine and understandable, I'm not in any way suggesting that they should still be writing if they don't want to.

I guess I was just prompted to mention this because I miss some of these blogs:

Andrea at Apples and Pears - I hope Andrea is ok. - I used to be able to read (and enjoy) this blog, but it now says that it's open to invited readers only, and I'm not invited! Which is a shame, because the last blog post which shows on my sidebar is tantalisingly entitled 'Scotland', and I would've loved to read what she had to say about my favourite part of the world!

Ugly Overload - This was just an interesting blog I came across, the opposite of the very popular Cute Overload. I can't say that I really miss it, because I didn't look at it all the time, but it seemed to be doing really well, and it's strange that it hasn't had any more posts since 2013. 

Paper Mountains - I'm afraid I can't remember the name of the lady who writes the blog, but I believe she and her family had gone to live in Scotland, which was one of the reasons I enjoyed reading her posts. This one is also invitation only.

Crochet With Raymond - I really enjoyed reading about the gorgeous Raymond, and admiring Alice's colourful crochet creations, so it was incredibly sad when she announced that they had lost Raymond, and therefore she wouldn't be carrying on with her blog. It was never clear to me whether they believed he'd died, or just wandered off on an adventure of his own - I prefer to think it's the latter. Of course I completely understand why she stopped writing this blog.

These ones have also been unusually quiet (for them):

(I was just about to add another one to that list, but when I went to copy the web address, there was a new post!)

Those are just a few of the ones that haven't been updated for a while. I know this will seem really hypocritical after I've just said that I miss them, but I think I am going to remove some of the older ones from the list. I've left them there a long time, to see if they are updated, but now I think it's time to let them go, hopefully to make way for some new, interesting blogs to read. Any suggestions would be welcome!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Busy But Happy :-)

This poor little blog has been neglected for a while, but with very good reason. I am absolutely loving being a mum, and spending my days with Junior, who is a bundle of joy and so much fun to be around.

But there are things I want to blog about, and it's hard to find the time to do so (not complaining though). Also, I tend to forget some of them, and by the time I remember again, the moment has passed. I've just made a list in my Filofax, of topics that I want to write about, which is a start, and I'm going to try to at least write some draft posts, even if it takes me a few days to finish just one. They will probably be a bit random though, not that there has ever been any kind of order to this blog so far!

So, back soon, hopefully, with some new posts...

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Not quite finished...

After Yarndale, I spent a bit of time looking at the online shops of the exhibitors. One retailer who I made a purchase from - Eden Cottage Yarns - mentioned on their website that they were going to be at Armley Mill Wool Festival on Saturday 4th October.

Hello? How had I not heard about this before? Well, because it was the first one, apparently.

I'd had such a lovely time at Yarndale, I found it quite hard to 'let go' (I hope fellow yarn addicts will understand what I mean). This past week I've been obsessed with finding as many blogs about Yarndale as I can, I just love reading about other people's experiences of the weekend, as well as seeing all their fabulous purchases, of course!

So when I found out about another, albeit much smaller, festival that was local to me, I felt like I needed to go, kind of for a bit of closure.

I've never been to Armley Mill, but I had an idea where it was, and we didn't have anything on today. After a discussion with Chris about whether he could have Junior, we decided to make it a family trip. Chris wasn't particularly bothered about the yarny side of things, but we thought he might find something interesting to look at in the mill, so off we went, arriving at about 10.20, although I didn't realise that the festival started at 11.00. Some of the stalls were still setting up, but we were still able to go in and look around. We watched a demonstration of some of the mill machinery (it's so bad that I don't actually know what it was - a loom, maybe?), and by the time that had finished it was almost 11.00, so I went back to the stalls, and Chris wandered off with Junior.

I had a good look around and eventually made a few purchases, but I was quite restrained. There was lots of gorgeous yarn there, but I'm running out of space, and I don't think I should be spending a fortune on luxury yarn when I don't have firm plans for it.

So, this was my little haul from today:

Two skeins of Cobweb Lace from Natural Born Dyers. It's 50% Baby Suri Alpaca / 30% Merino Wool / 20% Silk and it is lush! The stallholder showed me a shawl that had been made up in this yarn - I kept picking it up and he asked me if I wanted the pattern for it, but I said "no, I just love touching it!". I'm not quite sure what I'm going to use it for. I really want to have a go at the Lost Souls shawl; the pattern says to use Aran but I fancy doing it in a lighter weight yarn, so that it's soft and drapey. I'm not sure whether this will be too light to show off the skull pattern, but I suppose I could try it for a few pattern repeats and see what it looks like. If it doesn't work I'll look for something that specifically uses this yarn because it's wonderful. The colour is called Mudstones, which doesn't sound very nice, but it's a lovely silvery-bluey-gray. I wanted an appropriate 'skull' colour, without being too dark and depressing! But even if I end up using it for something else, it's still a lovely shade.

When I first went to the NBD stall, the chap was demonstrating one of their stick spinners, with the wonderful name of a Spurtzleur! I'd been saying to Chris that I was interesting in spinning, so he kind of shoved me forwards to have a go! The NBD chap explained about the spinner and how to use it, then handed it over. "Right, the thing is, I'm left-handed," I said, "will that make a difference?" There followed a brief moment where we both tried to figure out how to do it, before I ended up trying it the right-handed way after all (I crochet right-handed anyway). So I had a go, and I was hopeless! Operator error entirely! But it was interesting, and I'm still keen to try spinning at some point.

Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the stall where I bought these brooch pins and tiny 'handmade' tags.

I bought these badges at the stall of The Knitting Goddess. She was at Yarndale, and I remember seeing the tray of badges, but I couldn't get near them! The advantage of arriving early today meant I could have a good look through - she seemed to have a lot more knitting-related ones than crochet, but I managed to find these six. I'm going to pin them to my project bag, along with my Yarndale pin badges (although, annoyingly, I've lost the back off of one of them, but I'll have a spare somewhere).

So that was it, not a lot today, but like I said, I think it was the closure I needed from Yarndale. I feel like I've learned a lot more in the last couple of weeks about different yarns, especially the 'luxury' ones. I've squeezed and smooshed so much gorgeousness last Saturday and today that I feel more confident about knowing what I want, and I'd know what to choose if I was ordering them online, for instance. Not that I'm planning to buy any more yarn at the moment though... (ha!)
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