Wednesday, 27 April 2016

yarn along

You are probably really tired of reading about the Sophie cardigan and the maddeningly slow progress (I feel like) I've been making on it. But that's pretty much what I've been knitting this week, so that's what I'm showing you today! The sleeves are dangerously close to the sleeve cap shaping now, so I'll need to brave the working out of that next, but as ever I am tentatively optimistic, and I might not even need to rip back any of the sleeves which is a shocker I can tell you. My yarn order came yesterday too, so newly replenished I've got my finger's crossed that this sucker will be finished within a week!

I finally finished The Liveship Traders trilogy (Robin Hobb) and it was brilliant! Everything came together fairly quickly towards the end, but I rather enjoyed that after the thousands of pages of build up and tension and talk of destiny. The story is so rich and emotional and there is clearly so much more yet to happen, I will be reading the follow up books she has written, but for now I need an epic-fantasy break. I spotted Moon Over Soho in Waterstones for £1 and the dust cover describes the book as 'What would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the fuzz', so how could I say no? I've discovered this is actually a second in a trilogy so I've dived in pretty blind, but the writing style is quite witty and I'm sure I'm picking up the important bits enough to understand the story. It's not my usual book, but trying something a little different before I go back to the many tales Hobb has to offer. 

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along - do say hello if you are joining in and feel free to leave a link to your blog! :) 

Monday, 25 April 2016

the cardigan (almost) has sleeves!

Pretty much a month to the day later, I'm finally onto the next update on the Sophie Cardigan. I had my second (fourth) wind this week and have knit about halfway up the sleeves! Do not be deceived - the picture above actually shows two sleeves. No no you aren't going crazy, one is beneath the other because, honestly, I couldn't photograph them very well sitting next to each other. 

sleeve detail - c6b cable and moss stitch
I put off the sleeves for a pretty long time because I was scared of the maths involved in working them out. I'm still not convinced I've done it right, but you can only re-read articles on knitting and maths so many times before you are in danger of pulling your hair out in confusion and just say 'dammit I just need to knit!' I used this article to help me work out what I needed to do. I've drawn diagrams and taken measurements, but ended up just diving in! I'm still not sure what to do when I get to the sleeve cap, but I'm going to worry about that when I get there in another 35 rows or so, and I think I will manage it :) seeing them grow (and testing them on my arms) is filling me with quiet confidence that I can get this done! Perhaps not by the end of this month, but within a couple of weeks no doubt. 

Part of the delay is that I will run out of yarn before I finished the sleeve (booooooo) but I've ordered some more (yay!) so all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well, as my old college principle used to say (Aquinas College - represent!).

Here you can see the front panels are now finished in all their glory, and darn it if they don't just look like the front of a cardigan I would like to wear!The button band will be going on very last thing, along with the neck band, and although they are possible still a little on the narrow side, I don't care because they look right and the length is correct which (surely) is more important?

And let's be honest, the most exciting update for the Sophie cardigan progress has to be that Ben bought me this AMAZING bag which I am now using as the project bag, Get your butts to Tesco if you want one too (they also have The Force Awakens too, which I have, and a classic Storm Trooper bag - I'm pretty certain £1 each!).

With any luck, the next update will be the FO post! Watch this space :)

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

fo: baby espeon doorstop

Pattern - Baby Espeon by Evelyn Pham  
Yarn - Stylecraft Special Aran (lavender) 

Ravelry project page - here

Not long after I had finished baby Jolteon, I received a Facebook message from a friend of mine asking me whether I would be able to make one the the Eeveelutions as a doorstop. He and his girlfriend and just moved and he had this idea for an Eevee or Espeon doorstop. The way that Evelyn's patterns are flat on their tummy actually make the design perfect for such a thing, so I got my thinking cap on and said I would do it!

The original patterns are worked in aran weight yarn, but use a much smaller hook than I would naturally go for when crocheting (3.75mm), so previously I have used a 4mm hook and double knit yarn when making Evelyn's patterns. These have come out great, but too small to be doorstops really, so I up-scaled what I usually do and went for a 5mm hook and aran yarn (Stylecraft's colour selection never let's me down with yarn choice!).

The pattern, as ever, was perfect and great to follow. It grew quickly and the shapes are all simple but detailed enough in the right places (an increase for the nose, a decrease for the cheek - that sort of thing), and you're told where each cast off end should be so you know how to stuff and sew everything together. In order to weight the amigurumi so that it would work as a doorstop, I stuffed probably two thirds of the body, arms and legs with toy stuffing, and the rest with decorative stones, the kind you see in a bowl in a hotel lobby or such like. They were small and smooth and we had an abundance in the house for some reason! They worked very well to weigh Espeon down.

As doorstops go, the finished Espeon is still perhaps on the small side, and I couldn't stuff it with as many stones as I would like so it isn't as heavy as doorstops can usually be. Proportionally however it all worked very well, and it managed to keep my bedroom door open!

My friend seemed very happy with Espeon and he assured me his doors are quite light too, so it should do the trick! Doing this has helped me learn a thing or two, so perhaps if you decide to make a Pokemon doorstop I would perhaps suggest the following,
  • double up the aran yarn (make sure you chose a durable acrylic or cotton as it will be on the door)
  • up the crochet hook to 6mm or 6.5mm to get a better size, though check you don't have too many gaps in the crochet 
  • stuff the doorstop with something heavier than the decorative stones I used - a bag of steel shot or something like that? Rice might work if in a bag but be cautious that it stays dry/won't attract animals
All in all, very happy with how this turned out and I sort of want to make it again so I can have one! I do have extra lavender yarn left over, but I might just make that into a smaller Espeon so that Jolteon and Eevee have a friend :)

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

yarn along

Welcome to Wednesday, hump day, or better yet - yarn along day! Last night I went round to Sophie's for the evening (yes, THE Sophie, THE inspiration behind the cardigan I keep prattling on about!) and we dubbed it, along with her sister, #tippletuesday - because wine was sorely needed (I mean, when is it ever not?). I really think this will catch on as a craze, expect to see it trending on Twitter in your country any day now - most likely next Tuesday. 

I've got the bug back for crochet Pokemon. I'm working on an Espeon doorstop for a friend who's commissioned one. It was a stroke of genius on his part! I wasn't sure how much yarn I would need, so hopefully I've ordered 2 balls and 1 remains untouched, so I may just have to make another for myself. Expect a more thorough look on how this guy came together next week!

Ah, the beekeeper quilt. Pretty much every knitter has one on the go, right? I haven't knitted a hexipuff in over 2 years *looks appropriately ashamed of myself*. Over Christmas when I was ordering yarn for orders, Wool Warehouse were selling these limited yarns in gorgeous colours, and really cheaply, that just so happen to be 4-ply yarn ... so now I've bought more yarn for the quilt I need to get my but in gear if I am ever to knit over 300 of these things. 
*UPDATE the guage on the cotton yarn is all wrong, so I won't be using the beautiful colours for the quilt, I will instead have to come up with some other ingenious plan for them :) alas.

On the reading front, I have finally finished The Mad Ship, and wowee was it amazing! If you are an epic-fantasy fan, and you haven't tried Robin Hobb yet, DO IT! The second book just got better and better, and I can't wait to read up on all the character's stories (which I find is always a danger in a book with multiple points of view - think A Song of Ice and Fire). Everything is just tumbling and spiralling in the best way and I can't wait to dive straight into the third book of The Liveship Trader's Trilogy, Ship of Destiny. I'm anticipating magic and heartbreak and swashbuckling adventure *shivers with delight*. 

I'm also getting myself back into playing video games, and just started Final Fantasy XIII again last night - I'm sorry if this is sacrilegious, but it is my favourite Final Fantasy game (right up there with IX) and playing it is getting me excited at the prospect of cosplaying as Lightning again at the next comic con. 

Happy knitting and reading everyone!! What are you working on this week?

Monday, 11 April 2016

in which I ate 4 cinnamon rolls in one day

Really though, doesn't that title just speak volumes to you? It was the best-worst realisation on Sunday. Wake up early, bake some fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and come some time early evening that realisation that, if you are going to bake a dozen rolls for breakfast for two people, you have to take one for the team and just spend the day eating them (and I didn't even go for a run - oops!). 

It was some much needed comfort eating though, I don't mind admitting that. But it rounded off just an excellently chilled weekend, and I have two left with my name on them waiting for me this evening mm mm mmmmmm.
For my Instagram followers you will have noticed that I've actually baked these before - just a few weeks ago in fact. I dream about these rolls, they work so well and taste oh-so-delightfully-bad for you! You can find the recipe here, they truly are a dieters nightmarish delight! 

And so started my terrific Sunday, which was filled with baking and eating and knitting and crochet and gardening. Sure, there were household chores sprinkled in there, and a measly attempt at exercise on the bike while I watched Bleach, but it was just a great day with Ben doing nothing except what I wanted (and perhaps applying for a job in the evening). 
pepper seedlings

My chives and peppers are doing pleasingly well on the windowsill so far. There are also some tomatoes, carrots, courgettes and mint yet to be planted, and some sunflowers for outside. I've really got the gardening bug after I was so successful with my first attempt last year. Ben was a super star and helped clear a weed-ridden flower bed at the front too, and I planted some seeds that Aldi promises me will make an overflowing and colourful patch of flora. One can only hope this goes well. 

Oh, the Sophie Cardigan - I knit so much on Saturday and I've finally finished the pesky front panels! There is a v-neck and everything (if you look closely and kindly - an update will be soon to follow) and it's now onto the sleeves. I'm anticipating that, as with everything else, I will start, get very far. and have to rip it all back for some as yet unknown reason. I sincerely hope not, but that seems to be my design process. Plus, I have no idea how to do sleeves without a pattern so hopefully the internet will have a few tricks up it's ... no, I won't put you through that painful pun.

I spent most of yesterday working on a really cool idea, which a friend of mine commissioned from me. There will be more about it in the yarn along on Wednesday, but it's basically an Espeon (Pokemon) doorstop, and I think it will work really well so once it's finished I might have to make another for myself. It's (unsurprisingly) based on one of Evelyn's excellent patterns - I can't wait to show you!

It's been a creative, eating sort of weekend for me these last couple of days - the sort of break you need from work and going out sometimes. It certainly set me up brightly for this week, after I've been in stump with work and the daily grind. I'm really excited to show you all the things I've been working on, now they are taking a much better shape, and I have the baking-bug which I am only going to encourage in myself. I had best learn to love running and quick if that's the case though :) 

Tell me, what is your favourite thing to bake and eat too much of? And then what do you knit to burn off the calories??

Monday, 4 April 2016

march crafting, and plans for april

Every month I aim to set myself, and complete, a ‘crafty challenge’ – a personal goal to help improve my knitting and crochet, and to embolden me to react to all the patterns and inspiration that is available on the internet! By sharing this with you I feel more encouraged to branch out and do these challenges by the end of the same month, and hopefully you will be interested in what I am working. Perhaps it will help inspire you to try something new as well?

I'm wondering about other ways I can do this monthly crafting challenge. I like the process and thinking about what I would like to achieve in the month ahead, being sure to balance it as much as I can with something interesting for you to read, without upsetting myself if I don't manage to hit every goal I set. I suppose sorting the challenge is a bit of a challenge in itself! So, in this vain, I'll do the quick round up on how I got on with last month's challenges, but will structure April's goals a little differently. 

Crochet another baby Pokemon

You can tick that one off the list! I finished baby Jolteon a couple of weeks ago. I was hoping he would be the same size as baby Eevee but he turned out quite smaller - they look better smaller though so, uh oh, I might just have to make Eevee again ... 

List at least 2 new products on our Etsy shop

This was a goal that I had all these great ideas about, but let stress get the better of me and took the fun out of making things (which can be dangerously easy sometimes). I did manage to list a new, Divergent inspired cross stitch sampler, which I actually finished months ago and just never got round to listing. In this was the goal was great as it encouraged me to do this, but the secret project I'm working on was the other product I hope to list and I got too stressed to want to finish it. No matter - instead I will finish it when I choose, as it should be, and will just list it when I can :)

And so, what I'd really like to achieve in April combines the usual knitting and crochet goals, but also a general life goal. 

Finish the Sophie Cardigan

I really think I can do this one - I'm almost to the top of the front panels now (after ripping back and reknitting) and they look pretty promising. The hardest to last though, the sleeves and how to shape a sleeve cap. I have no idea - YouTube save me now! And even if the cardigan doesn't look good (I bloody hope it will!) at least I can say I made one up all by myself!

Craft for pure pleasure

Just spend some time not worrying about Etsy (though if I can make something to sell on there, bonus!) or designing - which may seem contradictory to the first goal, but I am doing that cardiagn solely for myself - or anything like that. Just make and watch TV and relax to the movement of my knitting needles and crochet hook. Maybe even finally get my weaving under way - curse Pinterest and the hundreds of projects I want to try.

Find a new job

I've been ready for a change job-wise for a very long time, but I'm feeling the need for change much more keenly recently (lack of challenge, lack of socialising/day to day interaction). I don't want to go to lots of detail on here for this is my crafting haven, but I did turn to Ben last night and say 'this is the month I will find a new job'. Going in with a positive outcome, and hoping for some positive results - wish me luck!

So we have a structured goal, a goal open to any interpretation, and a non-crafting related goal to help give the month a productive push outside of knitting - though not there is much of a life outside of knitting if we had a choice, am I right? :)