Saturday, 13 August 2011

A bright spot in the week

It has been a  bit of a hard and frustrating week - false labour, back pain and generally feeling the size of a house, combined with missing the Little Whirlwind, who is currently keeping her poor grandparents busy (and worn out).

But there's always a bright spot, and this week it arrived via the postman.

I arrived home one day to find a package sitting on the doorstep, and when I opened it, discovered this package from the lovely Sinead.

There was a half second of "goodness, the baby isn't actually here yet, so should I be opening this" which was followed swiftly by "for goodness sake, the crib is made up in my bedroom and I've bought everything, this is no time to be superstitious". And thank goodness for that, because the contents of the little package really brightened up my week.

Firstly, there was a beautiful handmade card.

And then, the knitting. Oh, the lovely knitting.

A little jacket (and it's so soft and cuddly...)

A bib. When DH saw this he asked me was it not too pretty to actually use. I nearly agree with him - except it's so lovely and soft and cute that it would be a crying shame not to put it to as much use as possible.

And, the final breathtaking piece.

How beautiful is that? It is so soft and delicate. Sinead seems to have unconsciously known that I've been having trouble knitting a 'coming home' hat for this baby. Nothing I cast on seemed to be quite right. Well, I don't need to worry now. What little bundle wouldn't be happy to come home from hospital being kept warm by this?

This is one very lucky baby. And I'm a very lucky and grateful Mum, with a truly lovely knitting friend.

Thank you Sinead.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Is this the cutest thing I have ever knit?

It can't be too far off.

Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan from Looking Glass Knits (Rav link)

There's still some work to do - duplicate stitching on the sheep, blocking and weaving in ends. But it is so adorable already. So adorable in fact that I'm going to do another one - and maybe get my knitting maths out to re-size it to teeny tiny baby size.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

How it all started

I was reading Doogarry's blog the other day - more specifically this post, and it got me thinking about how I got started - and re-started - knitting.

Like Doogarry, and I'd say most our our generation, I learnt to knit at primary school. I wasn't particularly good at it. In fact, my brother was significantly better. That was usually the way - I was the book worm, he was the practical, hands-on person. For a long time my creativity was channeled towards the written word, anything artistic or creative tended to be beyond me, and I felt more in control of pen or the keyboard than needles or paintbrushes (we will gloss over the apron I was forced to make in 1st year of secondary school, and my dreadful attempts in compulsory art classes).

I picked up the knitting needles only once in my teenage years. There was a rule in our house that TV could only be watched in the daytime if you were doing something constructive at the same time. I was a football fan, so the household ironing usually got done on a Saturday afternoon as a result. At one stage, there must have been either a lot of football or not a lot of ironing, so I picked up the needles again and made a teddy bear. He's still around somewhere. When DH saw him for the first time he nicknamed him "roadkill teddy". I was in my mid 20s before I knit another stitch.

In 2005 I was living in Vilnius, Lithuania. I was on duty over the Christmas period, so couldn't get home. My parents decided they would visit me instead. I was all set for their arrival - with one difficulty - they were getting in at 3am. Local television (even when I could understand it) wasn't great after 10pm, and after about midnight turned a little "blue". I needed something to occupy me so I wouldn't fall asleep waiting for them. I spotted knitting needles and cheap acrylic in the supermarket and embarked on a scarf. It kept me awake for the evening, and reignited my knitting knowledge. A friend showed me how to cable and knit in the round a few weeks later, and my first 'grown-up' FO was born - a hot water bottle cozy. Alas the scarf never made it... tiny needles and squeaky acrylic, I was never going to finish it.

When I returned to Ireland I discovered This is Knit - sock knitting classes, lace classes, hauling myself into Blackrock when heavily pregnant, and later using my precious hours of 'me-time' to slip back in and replenish my stash. And now, scheduling trips in there when I'm back home, because it wouldn't be a trip home without a visit.

Somewhere along the way, I discovered that while I may be more comfortable with the written word, the stitch-by-stitch nature of knitting means I have discovered some practical creativity. I've learnt things about colour and texture and materials I thought I would never grasp. I've made some incredible friends - some of whom I have yet to actually physically meet.

It has been a very interesting journey.

FOs: Eyelet yoke cardigan and Drops baby cardigan

It's been a productive week.

Three and a half hours spent sitting at the local hospital having blood tests to rule out gestational diabetes meant lots of extra time for knitting. Add that to an enforced deadline of Wednesday night for one of the baby cardigans and you get two FOs within the space of just over a week.

FO 1: Eyelet yoke cardigan (Rav link) (pattern link)
This was a gift for A's teacher. She's due her second around the same time I am, and as school finished on Thursday, and Belgians aren't quite as superstitious as the Irish about giving baby gifts so early, I decided I'd do a little baby cardigan for her. Of course, I only decided this on Saturday evening.
It turned out quite nice. I wasn't 100% happy with it - once again I neglected to calculate the gauge properly (you'd think I'd have learnt by now), so it turned out huge. And there was no indication of dimensions or length in the pattern so there was a bit of guess work required. Overall, though it made a cute cardigan, it's a lovely pattern and I suspect it may make an appearance again. Madame S seemed to like it too.

I found the buttons in the depths of my knitting basket. I'm sure I got them for some specific purpose ages ago, but they seemed made for this little cardigan.

FO 2: Drops baby cardigan (Rav link) (pattern link)
My first attempt at a drops pattern. It felt a bit like the knitting equivalent of riding a bike without stabilisers for the first time! As @bioniclaura told me on twitter... more like guidelines than a pattern. Well, the guidelines worked wonders. I did have to resort to pen and paper to map out the yoke, just to be sure I had it right. I'd grabbed some lovely cotton/milk fibre yarn (Linea Pura Latte from Lana Grossa) as I was running out the door to the hospital on Wednesday, so had to cast on with what I had. The stitch gauge was right, but I'm not sure the row gauge was. Something went wrong with the neckline in any case. But I love it. If the yarn blocks as nicely as I expect it to, I'll be doing a few more of these - I bought quite a bit of the yarn a while ago, but never quite figured out what to do with it.

Next up? A hat to match the drops cardigan (already cast off). And then, when I get a quiet evening, finally plucking up the courage to do that steeking I've been putting off...

Friday, 24 June 2011

Clearing the decks

I think this must be some sort of knitter's version of nesting (in which case, baby: it's a little early just yet, how about you stay put another few weeks), but recently I've felt the need to work my way through various WIPs that were in various stages of completeness.

With the result that...

 I finished off my Centrique in Scrumptious DK from Fyberspates. After getting inexplicably stuck halfway through it was amazing how quickly I finished it once I sorted out the problems
 I did the seams on my February baby sweater. It still needs to be blocked and have some buttons sewn on. I love this pattern and will have to find a lighter weight yarn to do a smaller version

 I grafted the underarms on this little Owlet that has been sitting in my WIP pile for months. I'm not 100% happy with it, but I'm sure when it's actually on a baby it will look cute.

And I weaved in ends on two baby blankets.

The striped one still needs a backing sewn on, but the cabled blanket (based on This is Knit's Cuddles and Cables Blanket) just needs to be blocked.

All of which means, I've only got WIPs left that are either completely ancient, or just started. And it also means I may not be able to put off steeking the baby cardigan for much longer.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Taking a leap...

I have just cast off my 'self-designed' (based mainly on Elizabeth Zimmerman's percentage system) baby cardigan. 

I can spot a few issues straight off... I think the ribbing is too deep, and the arms are a little long (although the cuffs can be folded up), and the body a little short. It's not completely awful though, which leads to the big issue. 

You'll note that there's no divide in the front, no button bands or place to put them. This is all because I had the crazy idea that I would steek this cardigan. Yes, take a scissors to my knitting and merrily cut up through it. 

And now, it's almost time. I can put it off just a little longer - weave a few ends in, graft the underarms, give it a good soak and block it. But very soon I'm going to have to bite the bullet and just do it. 

Or perhaps I could wait until after this baby comes so at least I could have a stiff gin to help me on my way.... 

Monday, 28 March 2011

A belated Valentine's present

Around Valentine's Day I was lusting over something on ebay that looked like it was going to go well over the budget I'd set myself. So I resigned myself to letting it pass by. Until I got an email to say I had bought it - my lovely DH had bid on it, 'adding' his Valentine's budget to what I had intended to spend.

And then I had to wait. It was big and heavy and in the UK. So I had to wait until I was in the UK before I could get it. And that happened this weekend. I finally got to open it this evening.

First there was the package:

Which I opened to reveal this:

I'm told it's Shetland top (plus some lovely mohair boucle and bluefaced Leicester DK). But, believe it or not, that's just the padding. What sort of lovely package gets the honour of such lovely padding? And does all this lovely fibre mean I have to learn to spin now?

Under all the lovely padding lay this:

A wonderfully beautiful antique Cymbal sock knitter.

I was truly spoilt.

However, I now need to learn how to use it!

Monday, 3 January 2011

2010 Round-up

2010 was a good year. There was very little drama, other than the usual family complications. It was a year of new friends, new challenges and wrapped up with some lovely news (which I'm not committing to writing just yet).

Some of the highlights of the year:

* Knit Nation: There are not enough words to describe what a wonderful weekend I had. Firstly, there was the joy of the solo trip. I used to travel a lot by myself before the Little Whirlwind came along, but trips these days are usually a family affair. Equally entertaining, but very different.
Then there was the yarn. Oh, so much beautiful yarn. My half-empty suitcase did not stay that way for long. I was lucky I'd set myself a budget or we'd still be eating beans on toast to compensate. I went to two great classes, but the real highlight was the people I met. Sinead and Laura - Irish knitters I'd 'known' through Ravelry for a while, and new friends Gail (Flibbertygibbet) and Chalyn . Living here, isolated through language and other factors, it was so lovely to sit and knit and get to know people.

* Discovering a local craft fair. There may not have been much yarn, or many people crafting. But it was a craft fair where you could get beer and schnitzel. I shall be returning.

* Twitter. Sinead convinced me that I had to give in and try it when we met at Knit Nation. I've been hooked ever since. I've had virtual knit nights (#twitknit), met some new friends. And finally, during the chaos that was  the European snow storm and my epic fight (and failure) to get home for Christmas, I'd have been lost without it, both for the support and the information.

* And finally, a highlight that snuck in right at the end of the year. With my Christmas holiday shortened, I didn't think I'd managed to fit in any knitting time, when someone suggested an impromtu Twitter/ knitty meet up in Dublin. I packed DH and Little Whirlwind off to the zoo and got myself into town. What a wonderful afternoon, seeing old friends, meeting new ones and finally being able to put faces to names, especially @alifeofherown (who has a standing invitation to really come and have those mince pies) and @undermeoxter (who it was a real joy to finally meet, and who seems to have forgiven me/the Belgian Postal Service for her Secret Santa gift last year arriving so late).

So, farewell 2010, you were pretty good to me really. I wonder what 2011 will bring...