Friday, 25 July 2008

Phone sox

This all came about when I first noticed that my projects on Ravelry amount to 13. Well I have to confess to being a little! on the superstitious side so immeadiately went EEEEKKKKK. What is a girl to do 13 projects very unlucky, at playgroup earlier that day my friend Rose showed us her newest purchase, a cute lttle phone sock that had Eeyore on (my favourite character, I was soooooo jealous). Hey I thought great little quick project to take me up to number 14 and wipe out all the bad luck heading my way. It was also the eve of Max's birthday and we were (hubby and I)supposed to be wrapping presents (his job) putting up balloons, banners and doing final prep for his party the next day (my jobsssssss). Did I metion that I am a tad on the awkward side? good that explains why I cast on a phone sock in order to expel any bad luck that may rain down on Max's birthday (Max's birthday/party outside/rain can you see my logic because hubby couldn't) instead of doing all the other jobs I should have benn doing. In my defense it was early when I cast it on about 8pm and Max being excited about the next day wasn't asleep and I wasn't going to start decorating the house until he was asleep.
In spite of the arguments between hubby and I about me sat knitting when I had loads to do the phone sock was completed by the end of the evening in spite of putting it down very few rows to blow up a few more balloons or hunt out the banners from wherever I'd hidden them. I also managed to get everything else done even if bedtime came rather late.
The next day guests came for Max's party and he had a fantastic time with loads of pressies and playmates and being center of attention. My phone was left on the breakfast bar wearing it's new sock and had many admiring glances and wow thats greats!!! It was only a matter of time before the question Will you make me one please? was asked. And the prize went to Paige my 13 year old niece.

I didn't make it there and then, it was my childs party and even I won't push hubby's patience that far !!!!!!! but when she came round the next weekend and had a rummage through ny oddment baskets I asked her if she was sure about 4 times before I said ok. Pastel pink baby dk with hot pink and silvery threads eyelash stripes Hmmmmm. I have to confess it looked a little better finished than I thought it would. Paige anyway loved it which is what matters most.
This is where my brain went into overdrive a little I think. I suddenly had a thought about teachers leaving pressies for the end of the school year. Max was finishing both playgroup and preschool completley and starting big school September and Zakk was moving up a year and so changing teachers. Now being so young there are a lot of assistant teachers etc in the classes. Also after coming out of a huge run of birthdays in out family over the last 10 weeks or so (5 of them in our house). Basically around 75%of the whole close family, all of our parents, hubby's siblings, some of their children and all but 1 of our household are in this period the bank balance at this time of year is never very healthy. After a quick count of how many presents needed, 3 for playgroup, usually 6 for preschool but then they went and got 4 work experience kids in. Same for Zakk's school, usually 4 but they also had student experince in so that went up to 6. That is a lot of presents to get and even worse when you are on a restricted budget trying to get large quantities of the same thing is a nightmare. Not helped by the fact that evryone else is chasing the same thing. That is when my brainwave struck, PHONE SOX as pressies for all the teachers, they wouldn't cost anything with the amount of oddments I have never mind digging into my stash if I needed it. I can knock one out in less than an hour including sewing up. PERFECT.

With good intentions I started off well and did a few the first night. I was trying to make them all individual one offs which was very easy at first, I even made my friend Rebecca from playgroup one in Aston Villa colours. She is a huge footie fan and so I knew would be more likely to use it if in her team colours. Playgroup ladies were the first to finish and so knowing I had lots more to do made a few extras so they had a choice. I filled them up with choclates as well placed them in a giftbag so they could all choose their favourite.

I repeated this again for preschool , much harder going and the dread of sitting down everynight to knit even more phone sox, I made 12 altogether and was getting fed up of them. I also had to leave the whole bag there as Max finished at lunchtime and not all the teachers were there before lunch. That meant starting from scratch for Zakk's teachers and I ended up doing another 8. I was sooooo well and truly fed up although I did knit another one for my SIL as an extra for her birthday present in between preschool and normal school finishing. I was having nightmares about the darn things or so I thought, then I realised it wasn't a nightmare, it was real hubby was having a converstion about me knitting even more of the *$@$ things and selling them. How on earth I managed to stay calm and not run out the room sreaming with my hands over my ears I will never ever know.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


What started out as love at first sight for this project quickly deteriorated into a love/hate pairing.
From the first time I saw the picture for Glace in an ad for Rowan Summer Delights by Martin Storey I fell in love. I should have read the signs though for what was to come, they were very clear. After trying to get hold of a copy and discovering that it hadn't even been released, then waiting for Mothers day to come and go as I had requested voucher for my local rowan stockist (my local dept store) I finally rushed up there to get it only to find ....they hadn't got it. I did finally manage to get it another 3 weeks later. I was overjoyed at the book itself though, Glace which is the cover photo is only the tip of the iceberg, for £6.95 I think the book is fantastic value, for me especially as there is not one design in there that I would not knit. 16 patterns of sheer loveliness. I have to confess though I winced very heavily when I priced up the yarn for it, just shy of £50 which is a lot of money to me (did I mention I'm a stay at home mum of four?????). I found a substitute yarn in James C. Brett's kool Kotton in a really pretty shade of Lilac. It was in a sale bag ready wrapped which worked out to under £10 so I was very very chuffed.
This though is where it all goes downhill pretty steadily. I started knitting it with that lovely first high rush of enthusiasm for a new project, with that extra bit of glee that you get when it's something you really really fallen in love with.
It knitted up quite well and even though it was endless 2x2 rib my high was still up there. Next night I picked it up again, finished the first ball started the second ball finished the rib (YEY) and started on the left half of the front and was almost to the top when I decided it was time for bed.

Next day did my jobs and still excited at how well it was progressing decided to pick up my pins and carry on knitting. I don't always get chance to knit in the day apart from weekends when we have visitors when I can sit and chat and knit at the same time. Good job I did. In natural light I could see something was very wrong, it looked two different colours. I had checked the ball bands hadn't I?? When I looked again I had 6 that had shade lot 1001 and 1 that was 1011. GGRRRRRRRRRRRRR and typically had used the odd ball first AARRRGGGHHHH. How many times have you bought yarn and there has been a very noticeable difference in the shade lots?? occasionally I have had and there has been virtually no difference at all but this was a big difference, the difference between brand new and left in the garden for several weeks to fade in the sun. Because I had bought it already in a bag I hadn't noticed it in daylight and in artificial light in which I had been knitting you couldn't see it. This was the start also of a very steep learning curve for me and how much store our fellow US knitter put in yardage/meterage. You see although I'm what I consider myself to be an experienced knitter I suppose I'm a little old school and when I was taught to knit yardage never existed, or at least I was never told about it. So when this happened I had one ball less than the pattern said and I presumed that I wouldn't have enough to finish it without that ball so I tried frogging it and using the different shade yarn alternating with the other yarn. More endless 2x2 rib knitted in artificial light to check it the next morning to see what I knew but refused to accept. It looked cr*p. Frogged again.
A week or so later shopping in my notsolocal hobbycraft I came across some patons vintage, another cotton blend in a colour I loved, a mix of hot pinks/oranges that although the yarn wasn't very soft but would tolerate just for the colour. In the sale (have I also mentioned my fetish for bargain yarn) at £1 a ball.There were seven left in that colour again how many balls the pattern said I needed. I checked the tension on the ball band which to memory looked fine and when hubby agreed to me buying it (he was in a grump at the time) I was excited to be able to start Glace again.
In the meantime I had already started another design from the Summer Delights book, Fondant using the yarn I'd started Glace in. I also loved this top so made myself finish this first before I restarted Glace.
Fondant done and I wore it to my next knit meet taking Glace with me. Cast it on in the afternoon, started knitting on the bus and carried on at the meet and I remember saying to one of the other ladies as I started my second ball, mmm I do hope there will be enough of this as I hadn't seemed to have done as much at the second ball point as I had before, I double checked the tension which seemed fine although it did feel to be knitting up a bit thicker than before!!!! Alarm bells were ringing and all of you who know about yardage already will probably be shouting at me and how dumb I am at this point. Me though I plugged on through the alarm bells until I realised I had used more than half the yarn but was nowhere near the halfway point.
Just before this point though I went yarn sale shopping with my friend Lynda who I met at the knit group I attend. I had had a birthday and had more vouchers for the dept store which I had saved and hubby even gave me extra cash to take with me. ps hubby hates my knitting with a vengeance so for him to donate cash for me to extend my stash is a very very big deal. Anyway Lynda and I went lovely scrummy yarn shopping and the yarn that is recommended for Glace was in the sale.... and I had enough to buy some and some other yarn too. WHOO HOO. We had a fab day,great company,scrummy yarn, lunch and book shopping fantastic.
Anyway, I bought some of the ryc silk cotton, 10 balls in fact although at the time I was still ignoring the warning signs that that Glace and Patons vintage wouldn't work, and there were two other projects in the Summer Delights that I wanted to attempt. It was that night though that I had to face the truth that I just hadn't got enough, it was also this point that the penny dropped and lessons learnt about yardage. It was also at this point that Glace had the name change to Nemesis.
I had earmarked the silk cotton for one of two other patterns but at this point I was so fed up and dejected at all the (self inflicted admittedly) problems knitting Glace I sort of come to the realisation if I didn't knit it now then I probably never would so with a bit of a heavy heart I cast on Glace for which I vowed would be my last time using the yarn specified in the pattern. 2x2 rib again. I have to admit though that as I carried on it got a lot easier and the knowledge that I would have more than enough with loads to spare spurned me on. When i got past the left hand side point and started the right hand side it felt great. I hadn't got past that point before and that was when I fell in love with it again. By the time I did finish it all was forgiven.
I don't think I have ever had so many problems with such a simple pattern and never on that scale with substituting yarns before. But it just goes to show that even someone like me who has been knitting for 30 years or so can make major blunders. So if any newbies read this hopefully you can learn by my mistakes. And just a final note, if I had used that first ball of lilac James.c. Bretts as my 3rd or 4th the penny would have clicked that I would have had enough to finish it after all without the rogue ball of different shade lot!!!!!! I discovered this after checking the yardage but much too late to use it as I had already made fondant.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Bargain Haul

What do you think of my bargain haul????The church opposite our house was having a table top sale last Saturday. I clocked them quite early setting it all up, it's only a small church and so was only a small sale of 8 tables or so. But a little voice in my head kept telling to go over and have a look, "there are goodies on offer" it kept saying to me. Hubby declined my invite to go over an investigate so the two younger boys and I went on our own after mugging daddy for all the spare change he had in his pocket.

At the second stall I struck gold, I spotted a plastic wallet containing all the patterns pictured and when I asked how much the gentleman said 50p. I thought "oh" but then he started saying there's also this and this and started putting a load of other craft and embroidery things on a pile. I'm half way through thinking how many 50p's does this man think I have when it clicked (I am a little slow on the uptake on occasion) that he meant for the lot. I'm just recovering after a an attack of the chuffty's (being very very happy)Then he said ooh I think there's something else here as well if your interested in knitting and picked up a wooden box which I had already spotted and looked a little suspicious to me and had already planned to investigate as soon as he stopped loading me up with half his table, he opened it and it was full of knitting and crotchet needles and bits and bobs. He said you can have that for another 50p if you want. I would have snatched his arm off if it hadn't meant dropping everything I was already holding but manged to do the deal before someone came up behind me and put in a better offer. All of this lot plus the embroidery bits not pictured for £1. Whoo Hoo bargain of the century or WHAT!!!!!!!!

I was ready to go home there and then and stroke through my scrummy bits but I had the boys with me and only the greedy thought of finding more knitbits encouraged me to go and find something that would keep them quiet so I could dive into my treasure in peace. The boys did actually do quite well with a errm what did they have now aarrhhh let me think. Yes I can remember I'm not that bad with my one "knit" mind honest. They had a jigsaw, cuddly tigger, sand play set, some lego a doggy teddy (this is a bit like the generation game only with more cuddly toys, my boys lurrrrve cuddly toys) uummmmm can't think what else.

I also bought a few small bags that I thought I could use for crotchet projects if I ever get round to learning it. We spent £7. 80 in all and come back with three carrier bags full and even a present for daddy, an Ozzy Osbourne book. I did find some yarn but it was too hideous even for me to buy it even with my raging addition to all things yarn. Especially bargain yarn. It was an awful acrylic chocolate brown boucle type with bright red/green and yellows in it. A real 80's throwback nightmare, the only thing I would have considered knitting in it would be a blanket for the cat but I think she would have left home rather than sleep on it.
I then had a lovely time with a cup of coffee sorting through it all. The boys have put a huge order in for various bits and bobs with Tom and Jerry being top of the list (they are huge fans although I feel very old when I say I much prefer the newer ones as the violence is a lot less horrifying.) thay also adore the Jean Greenhowes dinosaurs. Unfortunately my LYS is closed at the moment so I can't get any stuffing so they will have to wait another week or two. Just as well I have enough on my plate at the moment with my NEMESIS.