Thursday, 29 March 2012

Of socks and dyeing things

Well, I had a reasonably productive day today. Between doing the laundry, keeping little man happy and fed and the other things that needed to be done I finished the pair of socks for himself that I've been working on since the beginning of February. There's a bit of a saga behind these socks. Before Christmas picked out the yarn for his socks from my stash. I didn't promise to have them for Christmas but maybe for his birthday in January. Well his birthday came and went and I still hadn't cast on. So I figured maybe Valentine's day would be a good deadline. I cast on on February 1st and when the 14th rolled around I had one solitary sock. Himself tried it on and was happy with the fit but thought the toe was too pointy. So I ripped it out and replaced the original wedge toe with a short row toe. When I showed it to himself we had success the toe was less pointy and he was happy!

Then I got a case of second sock syndrome but here is where the fabulous ladies of the Itty bitty knits group on ravelry came in. In mid February Mel (womaninashoe on rav) started a WIP (work in progress) thread to encourage all of us to reduce the number of WIPs we had. I had 5 WIPs in my work basket which of course included The Socks!This did not include my swap knitting (I was taking part in the groups Easter swap). So I left the socks aside for some swap knitting and I finished the 2 cowls I had in my WIP list. Then finally a week or so ago I started on the second sock. I finished it this morning and he was good enough to model them when he got home from work.

The yarn is The Dublin Dye Company Twinkle Toes sock yarn in the colour way "last light". I definitely think the colour way name is appropriate. The colours brings to mind the evening sky at dusk. My sister-in-law E bought this yarn for me at the This is Knit yarn tasting back in September.

For the socks themselves I cast on 64 stitches. Knit in 1x1 rib for a 2 inch cuff. I then increased to 72 stitches and switched to K4 P2 rib. I used a heel flap heel and worked the foot in stocking stitch. Finally I worked short row toes. I found this tutorial on short row toes and heels really helpful, great photos and clear instructions. 

All I have left in my WIP pile now is my Lintilla shawl and my poor one armed, legless Tiny Elf. But before I start tackling them I am going to work on some more swap knitting. This itty bitty group swap is H themed and must included either a Hippo or a Hedgehog designed by Susan B. Anderson as well as some other H/hippo/hedgehog themed goodies. I have a list of ideas but it remains to be seen if I get them all done by the mail out deadline of May 7th.

So what of the dyeing things??

This morning I made my maiden voyage into the world of yarn dyeing. The itty bitty group is having a Dye-A-Long which has been useful for picking up tips. I used some Knit Picks bare superwash merino DK and Kool-Aid in black cherry, cherry and pink lemonade flavours. I followed the knitty tutorial for microwave dyeing and got to it. I was aiming for a graduation of the colours although it turned out a bit patchy where I obviously should have moved the yarn around a bit more when I added in the Kool-Aid.

But once it was wound into a cake I think it looks quite nice.

I'm not sure what it's going to become but at the moment I'm thinking either The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief or Honey Cowl.

On a side note, I found a great tutorial on how to wind a yarn cake with a paper tube which can be found here. I've seen E do this when she so happily winds some of my yarn but I'd never managed to do it successfully myself until now! I don't have a swift or a ball winder but with the help of that tutorial, a toilet paper tube and an upturned laundry basket I got a very pretty yarn cake. I'll definitely be trying this again.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Quilting weekend!

I've finally started little man's quilt! I'm following the quilt-a-long which has been in the Farmer's Journal over the last 9 or so weeks but I'm making doubles of each block to have a bigger quilt. I think it should turn out around 1 m x 2 m or so. For this quilt I'm using a lot of bright colours and some jungle prints as it's for a little boy. What I particularly like about this quilt is the fact that each block is a different design and a different size so it gives a bit of added interest to it.

Firstly, I want to thank a Ravelry friend of mine Diana (grandmabuck on rav). During the week I received a wonderful package of quilting supplies from her including tools and metres and metres of fabric, some of which you will see in the blocks I'm sewing. 

So back to the quilt. As I'm pretty much on catch-up mode for this quilt-a-long, I'm starting at the end and working my way backwards. On Friday, I got out my sewing machine and started on my first blocks. These two "flower and leaf" motif blocks (week 8, block 7), involved a bit of appliqué using some bondaweb. They're not quite finished yet. I'm going to do some blanket stitch around the appliqué to finish it off and so I don't have to worry about it coming apart. I'm really pleased with how they turned out though.

This afternoon, I decided I'd tackle the next couple of blocks. First up the pinwheel blocks which were from week 4 (block 3). These involved a bit more cutting and sewing compared the first ones above but were simple enough to follow, although I did manage to sew the two halves of the green block so that one side was upside down and therefore not a pinwheel. So out came the seam ripper and the second attempt was much more successful. They're not completely square (I'm not sure how that happened) but I think I might be able to get away with it. I could just trim it down a little bit and put a border on to bring it up to size, I think that could work as the blocks above have borders. Or if all else fails and I'm not happy when it comes to putting the quilt together I'll just re-do them.

(Apologies about the quality of the photos, I ended up taking them at a very odd angle.)

Finally, the last set of blocks I sewed this weekend were the hourglass design (week 5, block 4). These had a similar construction to the pinwheel blocks, so I was aware of any mistakes that could happen along the way. I don't particularly like the quality of the gingham fabric I used so I think I'll avoid using it again in the rest of the quilt.

Overall I'm happy with how my first blocks turned out. I'm about half way through the number of blocks I need so, hopefully, over the next few weeks I'll be able to drag my sewing machine out again and do a few more.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Happy St Patrick's Day!!

Today as I think everyone knows is St Patrick's day. Our national day of celebration. Of course we had the usual mix of weather, sun (sort of), wind and torrential rain all in the space of a few hours and of course it was a bit chilly too. Thankfully the rain held off while we ventured into the village to watch the parade. Now this is pretty much a typical Irish village parade, no fancy floats or anything like that. Just local businesses and clubs marching done the main street. There were tractors ...... a LOT of tractors ...

Some horses...

Even a green sheep!

Now for your amusement, a couple of pieces of trivia.

1. St Patrick couldn't have driven the snakes out of Ireland! There were never any snakes in Ireland for him to drive out or at least not post ice-age. The only native land reptile in Ireland is the viviparous or common lizard. The closest thing to a snake in the wild here is the slow worm. It's mostly found on the Burren. It's not a native species and was most likely deliberately introduced in the 60's. It's also not a snake but a legless lizard.

2. The national colour of Ireland is blue NOT green. St Patrick's blue is used on the presidential standard and is also seen in the Dáil.

Finally, I'll leave you with how the youngest fur baby Jasmine is spending the evening.

Happy St Patrick's day everyone!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Lazin' on a rainy afternoon

What to do on a dreary, rainy Friday afternoon?

Well himself is gone to do the groceries and little man is having his nap......

...... which means I have a little time to myself, and I'll emphasize little as I'm sure as soon as I get comfortable, little man will wake up. But while I have this precious time I get to enjoy this .......

Tea, chocolate, knitting and a  dvd, what more does a girl need?

Monday, 12 March 2012

The start of things to come???

I've taken the plunge and set up a blog! 

So what am I going to blog about? Well the idea was to write about my attempt to make my first quilt, add in a bit about my knitting projects and my family along the way. I'm very much a newbie sewer. In secondary school home economics class our teacher pretty much ended up doing most of my sewing projects, probably out of frustration. At the end of 3 years I still couldn't set up a sewing machine, which is no reflection on the teacher but more so my complete inability to absorb the information. Then about 18 months ago I took it upon myself to learn to sew. It was a New Year's resolution of sorts (taken in September!). I set off to take a night class in sewing for beginners to learn the basics. I then took a couple of half day quilting classes which I loved and thought I'd do a bit more. Then I got pregnant with my son (little man) and well morning sickness and absolute exhaustion kinda kicked the sewing (and for a while knitting) into touch. He's now 5 months old and definitely eating into my crafting time but in a wonderful way that I wouldn't change for the world.

This year I  am making myself do more sewing! My quilting escapades will be helped along by following the quilt-a-long in the Farmers Journal (such a culchie I know!) and the Block of the Month over on Craftsy. Once I get started I'll try and blog about my progress here.

In the meantime, here are a couple of projects I've recently completed. Meet Mavis and Mildred the Easter chickens....

and Timmy the little lamb....

These are for an Easter themed swap I'm taking part in in the Itty Bitty knitters group over on Ravelry (you'll probably hear a lot about this wonderful group of ladies). They are currently winging their way to my swap partner along with some other goodies that I hope she likes. 

I found the pattern for the chickens on the Bustle and Sew blog. Timmy is from the "Spud and Chloe on the farm" book by the wonderful Susan B Anderson (you'll probably hear a lot about her too!)

I don't know how good an idea this is or even how much blogging I'll even do? But I guess it's best to start at the beginning and see where life takes you.