Pottering Around

You would think that with Nicola and James returning to school this week that life would settle down and I would be, at the very least, semi organised.  Well this is me and this is reality and organised is a word that isn’t even popping up on my radar at the moment.

I have been busy cleaning the house and have spent several days pottering around my sewing room – resorting “stuff” and rearranging other parts of it. Nothing noteworthy to show a photo of but at last I have a decent sized pin board up on one wall which will, hopefully, help me to keep track of the more important items I use every day such as the list of needles and crochet hooks and their sizes in both metric, US and UK sizing.  With all the pattern hunting I have been doing lately it seems to be a daily task to check what size needles I need not to mention the other list that shows the different sizes of wool and their symbols.

I have managed to get stuck into the pantry and reorganise some of the food I store there.  I have always kept a fairly good stock pile of the basics we use all the time – flour, sugar, toilet paper, pasta etc but I decided that I really needed to work out just how much of each item I needed to store.  With the new taxes that have been introduced, work – while it’s still there it is obvious that people are watching their dollars more so than in the past – and  trying to pay off our mortgage sooner rather than later, it was time for a rethink.  So I have bought some new containers and have been stocking up.

Sorting the Pantry

I really had trouble finding big containers that were also food grade plastic and were a reasonable price. Well actually I had trouble finding big containers that were food grade let alone anything else so I ended up with these plastic tubs.  They are about 5 litres in size and will hold four kilograms of sugar or three kilograms of flour.  They aren’t marked as recyclable or even if they are food grade but they did say on the label that they are useful in the kitchen so they will have to do for the moment. If anyone knows where I can get 5 litre or bigger containers that don’t cost an arm and a leg and are food grade please let me know.  I also put a couple of bay leaves in each tub and several more leaves around the pantry shelves to keep the pantry moths away as I seem to have one or two who have decided that my home is also their  home    : – (

As the sun has been shining – this morning it was really warm – I have also spent time outside spinning.  One of the clean up areas was my fleece pile and believe me there is plenty of it. I kept telling myself it was keeping the cupboards warm but I don’t believe that for an instant and I really want to use up what I have before I purchase any more.

Spinning Alpaca

The Australian Sheep and Wool Show is on this weekend and I’m off to Bendigo to stay with Elise for a few days and to check out all the scrummy fibres and dyes and other goodies at the show.  I have told myself I can’t buy any fleece or roving no matter how tempting it is but I am allowed to buy some more Landscape dyes to dye the fibre I already have.  I figure it’s a nice compromise. I get to come home with some goodies and I get to play with colour and fibre.  Elise has one of her uni friends coming for tea on Friday night so it will be lovely to meet her too as well as spend time with Elise and Ralf.

There has been lots of knitting happening. A major sort through my wool has meant I have been busy hunting for patterns to use up all the wool I have.  It’s been quite a creative journey so far but I am enjoying it.

Ipod/Iphone cosy - sock wool

I whipped up this little Ipod cosy the other day in left over sock wool. It’s super easy.

Sock Wool Ipod/Iphone Cosy.

All you need is some left over sock wool (this cosy took approx 30 metres) a set each of  double pointed needles in 2 mm and 2.75 mm.

With 2 mm needles (yes they feel like toothpicks they are so fine) cast on 42 stitches and join in the round.

Knit 1, Purl 1 for six rounds then change to 2.75 mm needles

Keep knitting in the round until your cosy is the right length – I knitted for five inches measured from the cast on edge.

Turn the cosy inside out and using the Three Needle Bind Off Method (which is super easy) cast off. Darn in any ends and ta da it’s done.

Super cool and best of all cause it’s self patterned sock wool you don’t need to do any fancy patterns as  the wool does it for you. Of course if you fancy working your own pattern just check the number of stitches needed for each pattern repeat will divide evenly into the number you cast on (adding an extra stitch or two shouldn’t make too much of a difference to the overall size – but don’t add any more than just a couple of stitches) and go for it.  Lets face it – if it doesn’t work you haven’t invested hundreds of hours or for that matter hundreds of dollars on yarn – so just pull it out and start again.

 

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Knitting Progress

At last I feel like I might be on the edge of the land of the living.

I must have been more run down and tired than I thought for this bug to hit me the way it did. A week swapping between the bed and the chair beside the fire, no housework or cooking (thank goodness Elise was home) and several nanny naps each day was all I could manage.  It’s taken another week to even get to the stage where I can do more than one job before I need a sit down to gather up some more energy.

The good part about all this sitting around was I did actually manage to get quite a bit of knitting done…..even if it was just one row at a time and resting in between. I have discovered that lacy patterns are all very well but ask me to concentrate on more than a single row and you are asking for trouble and lots of “unknitting”  ; – (((

Finally, what started as the Silver Bells Scarf is finished. It is now the Silver Bells Table Runner as the wool was much too scratchy to even contemplate putting next to someone’s skin plus there wasn’t enough wool to make a scarf.

Silver Bells Table Runner

It will fit very nicely on my big wooden side board and will look lovely on the honey coloured pine.

Silver Bells Table Runner

I am really pleased with it and honestly if you are tempted by it have a go. The pattern is very easy and you purl on every second row so your brain really only has to think for one row then gets a rest.

Silver Bells Table Runner Close Up of Pattern

I have also been experimenting with knitting bowls and then felting them.

I spun this wool from some rolls of Wool Joy had given me twelve months ago and then dyed them.

They have been sitting patiently waiting for the right project and finally it came along.

I was searching Raverly for felted bags and found this pattern for some gorgeous Felted Spinning Wheel Bags.  What a useful and cute little bag. I always seem to have tools that I need for spinning lying around  but there has been no where to put them close to the wheel  where I can easily find them.

So I started experimenting……

Knitted Felted Bowls

Sorry it’s not the best photo but I wasn’t taking them outside to take a better picture – it was minus 2.6 degrees and there was frost everywhere this morning – so I’m afraid you will have to put up with this photo.

The sea green bag is the smallest and just the right size – I halved the number of stitches the pattern said and it worked out the size I wanted.  The Pink and green bag I made first following the instructions and it’s too big for the wheel but is the perfect size to hang on my chair in the lounge room with a centre pull ball of wool in it for when I am knitting or crocheting.  Both of these bags have a felted strap that does up with a button so I can hang them anywhere.  The orange and green bowl is larger and a good size for storing small projects.

I must admit it does feel good to have one project finished and to have had time to experiment with another.  I am also nearing the end on another felted bag I am knitting.  Just some more pattern repeats on the handles then it can be felted and revealed.

Maybe being so sick was a good thing?

 

Some Finishes

With the cooler weather arriving, especially at night, it is very pleasant sitting next to the fire  knitting and it has meant that I’m getting quite a bit done  and most of it from my projects bag where I place wool and patterns into bags for that ‘quick I need something to knit” moment.  it saves thinking when the urge to knit strikes me…vbg.

I found the Antelope Hat pattern ages ago and loved it.

Antelope Hat

When I finally found the perfect yarn – it was in my stash all along – it went into the projects bag to be pulled out just a few weeks ago.  Yes that is how far behind I am on blogging my finished projects.

Antelope Hat

It is super easy and knitted up really fast which is my idea of a good project.

Antelope Hat

I knitted the pattern repeat three times to make it a slouch beanie but could have knitted another pattern repeat as I ended up with enough left over yarn.

Antelope Hat by BoHo knits

Best of all the self striping yarn (Moda Vera “Fauna” from Spotlight) worked perfectly to show off the pattern.  James isn’t super sure he likes it, as you can probably tell from his face,  but I love it and can see myself wearing it for work lots this winter as it’s long enough to pull right down over my ears.

Next was the Gossypium Cowl which you can find on Raverly.

Gossypium

Don’t be fooled and think that this is a difficult knit. It isn’t. The pattern is lovely and repetitive and easy and a delight to knit.  The fact I started this cowl several times is irrelevant and entirely the fault of the knitter and not the pattern. First I managed to twist the stitches when joining them in the round and discovered that mistake five rows into the pattern.  Then I decided I hadn’t cast on enough stitches and had to start again adding another three pattern repeats.  Then I decided that I really didn’t like/love the look of the cowl knitted in a single strand of Moda Vera “Bamboo Wave” as it wasn’t showing the pattern enough. So I pulled it out yet again and started knitting with two strands of yarn.  Much, much better.

Gossypium

The pattern is based over four rows and it calls for 8 repeats of those rows. I didn’t do that many as I was running out of yarn but I think it’s fine as it is.  I played a fine game of yarn chicken with this cowl.   I ended up having to cast off the final edge in a single strand of yarn as there wasn’t enough left to knit with it doubled.  I actually like it like that – it’s not such a thick edging and it does sit much nicer.

I knitted myself a vest – finally. In one of my Spin Off Magazines there was a lovely pattern for a vest that is knitted sideways ie from the side seams to each front and then the side seam across the back to the other side seam.

Sideways Knitted Vest

Join all those bits together, knit a band up on front, across the back neck and down the other front and knit a band on each armhole and you’re done. Simple!!

Back View

I’m sorry the photos aren’t better but the wool is black alpaca that I hand spun as a single yarn and then plyed it with yarn from an acrylic jumper to make a slightly thicker yarn that is super soft and so warm.

I did alter the pattern slightly in that I added width to the back middle and to the fronts as the pattern was a small and I’m not – unfortunately!!!  It has stretched to the perfect length and was just the thing on Friday (when these photos were taken) and I went shopping.

Hand spun Alpaca plied with acrylic yarn

Sorry about the photo but this is the best I could take of what the yarn looks like.

Now I am working on the Silver Bells scarf except it’s more likely to end up as a lovely lacey table runner than a shawl.   I’m not sure I will have enough wool to complete it and to make matters worse I’m not sure what the fleece was that I used to spin this wool but I’m predicting it will be way to scratchy to wear around my neck.

Silver Bells Scarf

Regardless of those minor obstacles it is working out very nicely and if it means I have to retreat to a quiet corner of the house every now and then in order to concentrate on the pattern then that’s what I will do.  Actually I can do it while the TV is on providing no one wants my attention and there isn’t anything exciting happening on TV.  The only mistake I have made I think is that I should have used slightly smaller needles as when you look at the photos on Raverly the pattern is much more defined.  I still love it though and am have heaps more progress since this photo was taken.

Just so you are not completely bored with all the photos of knitting……

Apples

…..here are some apples from our trees. Granny Smith and possibly Pink Lady although I suspect it’s Royal Gala.  Either way they are lovely eat and as  James is eating apples by the dozen so it’s nice to have some lovely home grown organic apples for him to snack on.

Neptune’s Tears

Yet another $1.00 jumper from the op shop pulled apart although for a while there I didn’t think I would get any useable yarn from it at all.

40% Mohair, 32% polyester, 28% Acrylic

It was a machine knitted jumper and not only did I have over locking on the seams to contend with it also  had a sort of bias strip attached to some of the edges which made life interesting.  In the end I rescued what I could and abandoned the rest.

160 grams

The jumper is (or should I say was) 40% mohair, 32% polyester, 28% acrylic.  It has lovely and very subtle shades of green and bluey green.

I have a total of 160 grams which I am sincerely hoping is enough to crochet Neptune’s Tears as I think the colours and shading will be perfect.

Ready to Use

If that fails then I’m back to the drawing board.

I have no idea when I will get this started but I do have all the wool in a bag (carefully labelled so I don’t loose it) and I have the pattern saved for when the itch to begin it hits me.

I told myself……

….no more patterns.

…..no more wool.

….no more starting new projects until I have worked on some of the back log of unfinished projects.

I just wish that sometimes I would listen to myself.

There is shawl that people are raving about.

It’s the Colour Affection Shawl by Veera Välimäki  and I will admit to falling in love with it instantly.

Completely, head over heels in love with it.

I resisted.  Truly I did. I told myself I did not need another pattern.  I told myself I did not have the yarn.  I told myself I wasn’t spending money – it was the year to save.

I didn’t listen to myself.

I bought the pattern.

I have the yarn – although I may need to dye some of it and in my defence it will reduce some of the sock weight wool I have.

Now I have a problem. The idea of spinning my own wool (which would reduce the fleece stash by just a little bit) is very appealing……………….incredibly……………………….awesomely appealing.

My problem is do I have the time for all that spinning?  Will my spinning skills allow me to create a lovely soft, fine and even yarn?  And once the yarn is spun will I be able to decide on what colours to make it in?

As I said I have a problem.

Off to rummage in my stash of fleece and see what’s ready to spin.  Ohh the possibilites.

I might just have to pull out the sock yarn too and see what’s there.

I think I’m incredibly happy that I don’t listen to myself.

 

Reclaimed Wool

One thousand and eighty three meters of beautifully soft yarn reclaimed from a cardigan I bought at the op shop for the princely sum of $1.oo.

1083 metres of yarn

It was hand knitted, a dream to pull apart and reskein.  Best of all when I washed it all those little kinks just dropped out of the yarn which made me suspect it was wool.

The burn test seemed to indicate it might be acrylic though as it smelt horrible, burnt fast and dropped into little melting balls.

Either way I’m so looking forward to knitting with it.  Now to find the perfect pattern.

Last night I finished pulling apart yet another jumper.  Another $1 bargain from the op shop.. It was a man’s jumper with a beautiful pattern – unfortunately Ashley doesn’t wear that kind of clothing so it will be reknitted into something I want to wear.

1650 metres of reclaimed yarn

There was a mountain of yarn – approximately 1650 meters which will let me make something quite fancy – I’m thinking maybe cables or some sort of pattern.  The colour is a beautiful deep cinnamon colour but alas once again the burn test showed it’s probably acrylic. On the plus side all the kinks dropped out when I washed it so it will be easy to knit.

Note to myself. Do NOT  do the burn test when James is sitting there watching me. He was really quite horrified at just how fast it caught on fire and melted and really doesn’t want me to knit it into anything. Sorry mate I will knit this up but I promise I will be extra careful around fires.  Just goes to show though that wool is the safest when it comes to  clothing.

Some Knitting……and Some Crochet

Just to show that I am using up my stash I have been madly knitting squares to make an Elizabeth Zimmerman Mystery Blanket.  Click on the link and it will take you to some gorgeous blankets on Ravelry.

These squares are easy to knit.

Elizabeth Zimmerman Mystery Blanket - starting off using Point Protectors on the needles

Starting off can be a bit tricky – two stitches on each of four double pointed needles can try a girls patience so I worked out that if I put these needle point protectors onto each needle and moved them as I knit each round by the time I had six stitches on each needle the knitting was stable and no stitches would fall off.  Ok so possibly if I started knitting a bit tighter I wouldn’t have the problem of escaping needles but I hate tight knitting with a vengeance – loose and comfortable is more my style…vbg.

Each square begins with  Emily Ocker’s Circular Cast On and I know to some of you it will look daunting but trust me get a couple of these blocks knitted and you won’t ever look back. It’s my preferred method of casting on when I make anything circular now.

If the thought of using a crochet hook brings you out into a cold sweat (and remember you are only casting on 8 stitches for the beginning of these squares and then you change to double pointed needles) then google seach for Circular Cast On which uses knitting needles.  There are plenty of You Tube video’s out there that are excellent to watch also.

I started off pacing myself making just one square a day using what ever colour took my fancy and whatever were the smallest balls…….

Elizabeth Zimmerman Mystery Blanket

….then I got super hooked and I’m making two squares a day. I would try for three squares a day but unfortunately domestic stuff like washing, cooking and the occasional bit of cleaning are getting in the way of knitting bliss.  I will confess to sitting up and watching a movie with Ashley last night that finished at midnight just so I had the excuse to finish off another block.

Each block is being finished off with three rows of black which should make weaving the squares together so much easier……I hope.

Granny Squares from Leftovers

Now if that hasn’t convinced you that I’m totally weird check out my Granny Squares.

I’m determined to use every inch of the yarn I have so I started these Granny Squares. Me being me – measured out exactly how much wool each round takes, labelled each bag appropriately (ie Round 2 – 4 metres) and as I have tiny scraps of wool left I measure them out and put them into the right bag.  I can’t stand the thought of throwing out wool – even the colours I loathe  and this is one way to get something useful and pretty out of what would otherwise be waste.  If I’m totally honest I will admit to being seriously in love with these squares – mix matched colours and all.