Friday, July 19, 2013

Thoughts on knitting ....

(Authors note: When I talk of knitting I do, of course, include crochet. I wouldn't want to offend anyone.....)

This is something I think ALL non knitters should understand! I LOVE making things for people who genuinely appreciate the work, time and effort that has gone into creating it but I don't (and won't) make things for people who see me in one of my jerseys and say "That's so beautiful! Will you make me one?" as if I could quickly run one up before dinner! In fact, I wouldn't knit them a fire extinguisher if they were on fire!!!!

Only fellow yarnaholics will appreciate this one. You see, in my humble opinion, there's always a place for the good quality acrylics that are out there - especially here in Africa where knitting with pure wool means you'll end up with a garment that looks mind-blowing in your wardrobe but you'll NEVER wear because of the heat - but there are just soooooo many beautiful, stunning (but sadly) expensive yarns to be had that I have been known to completely change the project just so I can buy one or two tiny balls of exquisite yarn goodness! I've also been known to purchase such yarn and then put it in my yarn cupboard where I spend some considerable months quietly whispering to it whenever I open the cupboard door about what it may (or may not) grow into or stroking it surreptitiously when no-one else is watching...... The fact that the cost of such yarn could wipe out the debt of a small third world country has nothing to do with it. DH doesn't understand (how could he, he doesn't knit) but there are only a certain number of days in anyone's life that are free to knit (or crochet), so why waste them on rubbish yarn??? I buy what I can afford but always buy the BEST I can afford .... I guess that could go for any purchase but it's definitely my personal mantra for yarn shopping!

If you ever meet a crafter who says "I never start another project until my current WIP (work-in-progress) is finished" - take it from me, SHE'S LYING!!!! You cannot qualify from The World College of Crafting until you have at least 2 UFOs (Unfinished Objects) stashed away somewhere in your house. These are NEVER in your yarn cupboard by the way - because then you would see them almost every day and be forced to either frog them (unpick) or finish them (God forbid) - but rather are (a) squashed into a grocery bag (never one of your favourite WIP bags) and forced under your bed, (b)  pushed to the very back of another cupboard (usually one that houses all those gifts that you hate and are never going to use) or (c) shoved up in the loft (if you're lucky enough to have one)! 
And there they stay, usually until you move house .....

And then we come to the subject of a knitter's yarn stash. What can I say? Perhaps only four things:
1. It exists so don't let anyone ever tell you it doesn't.
2. It's as important to the knitter as oxygen so denying her this absolute necessity is akin to standing in front of an oncoming train.
3. It only grows - like an alien creature it does not have the capacity to shrink or "become less" (such a strange concept).
4. You will need to re-mortgage your house at some point to pay for it.
And that is all I have to say about that.

Fact: Knitting is great therapy. It's true that when denied their sticks and string knitters have been known to kill small animals and children (I rarely fly anymore for fear of taking out a fellow passenger due to frustration - let's face it, reading just doesn't cut the mustard!). So please, I beg you, when your knitter gets that glazed look in their eyes and their fingers begin to twitch, never ever stand between them and their craft. Just smile knowingly and remember that after just a few short minutes, normal service will be resumed. Thank you.

I've come to the conclusion that if you're not careful technology can (and does) seriously encroach on your knitting time. I have often spent an entire afternoon flitting through Ravelry, Patternfish and Pinterest (the devil incarnate) with my knitting right beside me but not a stitch gets done. I won't mention the blog following that absolutely and most definitely has to happen because I really need to know who has walked down which lane in the past 24 hours or taken the most stunning photo...... Need I say more? Well all do it.

So on those pearly words of wisdom I leave you now. Hopefully not to go and make something for someone who won't appreciate it, nor go out and buy cheap and nasty yarn, nor deny all those UFOs that you have lurking around your house, nor further deny that you have a literal mountain of yarn stashed away and yet your children are starving, nor to say that you live to knit and not the other way around, nor to spend the next 3 hours on the internet looking at all the things you're going to make...... 
No. Rather let me leave you with this -

Have a great day.
Til soon.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Some FOs, some WIPs, two new additions and the ocean....

For those of you that are not "yarnie types", FOs stands for Finished Objects and WIPs are Works In Progress....

Let's start with my latest FOs. A while ago now a fellow blogger (Shelley who has since deleted her blog - so sad....) sent me these in a yarn swap.

They were four balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace yarn in the most gorgeous deep claret colour. For months I have looked at them in my yarn stash quite unable to decide what to make with them. I wanted to do them justice, to find a pattern that would merit this spectacular yarn. It is extremely fine (lace weight) and extremely light. I spent hours on Ravelry trying to find a pattern that I could do (I had never worked with lace before) and finally, F I N A L L Y after months and months of deliberation, I settled on the Holden Shawlette and here is my finished version...

I have to say, I am very proud of myself although this pattern is very very easy and was a great first lace project. Working with such fine yarn is an experience but it grows much quicker than I had thought it would and because it's so light I never felt as though I were carrying a ton of bricks around with me (which can happen when making shawls and wraps). Anyway, it only used one ball of the yarn that Shelley sent me so I have three left to make another shawl.....does that mean I have to make another decision....cripes!

My next FO was an attempt to use up some of the bits and bobs in my stash that will never stretch to a garment of any degree. I am always reluctant to throw away or discard those half balls and quarter balls that remain when a project is finished and I try and keep them in bags by yarn weight. My 'cotton' bag was feeling nicely plump so I decided to crochet a couple of dishcloths.

These are about 15cm square and they really do make washing dishes so much easier and more enjoyable. I know that I need to get a life, but there you go.....

Next up is my WIP which proved to be very difficult to capture on my camera. The colour of the yarn is called Sea Mist and it's a greeny blue (in fact, the very colour of the sea!) but for some reason my camera didn't like that particular shade. This was the best I could get and it looks more like a baby blue which it isn't.

The pattern is the Texture Shawl Recipe by Orlane and I'm doing it in double knitting wool although I think it would be fab in 4 ply. Again the pattern is very easy and the textured stitch really does break up the stocking stitch with great effect. Am thinking this will be a fab shawl.

I am still working on my Readers Wrap which I previously posted about here but am hopeful I will finish it this weekend! It's been a really great project to do - just simple stocking stitch, melodic and therapeutic....

My two new additions are these -

Two new bags - YAY!  The first I received from Elizabeth at Mrs Thomasina Tittlemouse (one of my favourite blogs). She made it herself and it's quite exquisite.

Front view

Closeup of the bird whom I've named Charlie (don't ask me why...)

Closeup of the flower made up of four layers of fabric with a button through the centre - delightful!

Back view (LOVE the red flowers!)

It really is beautiful and will be my bag of choice to take to work when I start my new business next month. Thanks again Elizabeth....

The second bag came from Yarndale which for those of you that don't know, is a huge craft and yarn festival being held in Skipton in North Yorkshire at the end of September. Seeing as I live in South Africa and cannot jump on a train to attend, I thought buying one of their bags was the next best thing.. (Excuse the creases but I couldn't be bothered to get the iron out ....)

Is that sheep logo not the cutest thing? I've nicknamed her Shirley (well she can't be Shaun) and in true Yorkshire fashion 'I think she's a grand lass!'. Sigh, still wish I could go though.....

And on a final note (this post seems to have gotten longer and longer) we went to the beach last week for 5 days and it was G-R-E-A-T!!!!!!!!!!!! Here are some pics....

The view from our apartment

A Wagtail on the rocks (and no, that's not the name of a cocktail!)

DH pretending his trying out for Brighton & Hove Albion (his team)!

And finally, sunrise on the Natal coast. (This pic has not been enhanced in any way. This is how sunrises are in this amazing country.)

Thanks for stopping by.
Till soon.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

End of one chapter, beginning of another....

I finished teaching last Friday. I've been an ex-preschool teacher for an entire week and I have to say, it feels no different! I suppose because all the schools are on holiday now so I know that my 'little darlings' are all tucked away in their homes with their mums and dads or on holiday at the beach on in the mountains so I don't feel as though I'm missing out on them. I know I'll feel differently when the schools go back and I'll think of them cuddling their new teacher (who, by the way, is totally fab) or sitting on her lap pretending to put "makup" on her face....or doing her hair with sticky playdo fingers.....or pretending she's sick in bed and playing nurse "cos she's got an ow'ie"......sigh. It's funny how their little souls eat into your heart. Even the ones that you could happily throttle on a daily basis somehow manage to gently strum your heartstrings with winning smiles or cheeky songs. Actually, I'm a firm believer in the adage "there are no bad children, only bad parents" so I tried to warm myself to even the naughtiest children which wasn't always easy. I do miss them but I have new things to turn to and new excitements to grab hold of......but more about that later. By the way, we had a dressing up day on the last day of school and I went as Funny Lady. What do you think?

The kids thought it was hysterical and kept asking me "Why did you paint your hair green?" !!!! Well, I thought, if you can't be silly when you're nearly 50 when can you be silly?

On the craft front, I've made two more bags with Lucy's bag pattern for a friend of mine and her 4 year old daughter. They came out pretty well so I hope they like them....

Sorry. That's a bit over the top with the photos but I love all those yummy colours sooooo much!!!! I particularly like the floral lining that I chose for my friend's bag as it's a little bit more grown up than the polka dots although I LOVE polka dots on anything (who doesn't?). This friend, however, is very feminine and elegant so I thought the floral would be more 'her'.

As for knitting, well, I've been wanting to make this for ages and ages and so finally this week I cast on and got going. It's just my sort of pattern. Half cardi and half shawl/wrap and very very easy which is always a good thing when, if you're like me, you have 3 or 4 projects on the go at once! The yarn I'm using is lovely to work with. It's Elle Marco and the colourway is called Strawberry (what's not to like?) and is mainly red and white with flecks of black so it will go with almost everything in my wardrobe.....

This is how much I've done so far....please excuse the watering can. I wanted something to prop up the WIP!

And a close up of how it looks ..... gorgeous! I can almost taste those strawberries......

We're off to the beach on Monday for 5 days and I can't wait! Just to feel the sand in my toes and smell that salty air....heaven! Lots of long beach walks planned, sitting on the verandah watching the waves and not much else.....I hope your week is as good as mine will be. ♥

Til soon.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Winding down.....

Sorry that it's been a while but life is pretty busy at the moment. In just over a week I'll be finished teaching my 'little darlings' at the preschool and moving on to bigger things!  I've decided to try my hand at running my own business and so will be putting my teaching career on hold for a while until 'my ship comes in' (or not as the case may be)...... In which case I'll be on the lookout for another teaching post but I'm not thinking about that at the moment!

Because of my sudden rush to get things up to date in my classroom and at least give the impression to the new teacher that I not only knew what I was doing but was organised too, this month has been a wee bit hectic but I have managed a few things so I thought I'd share them with you.

First of all, I made a little holder for all my beads and necklaces. My mom bought me the 'Smile' ornament and I just added some cup hooks. Cool hey? And Oh So Useful Too!!!!

Next up - I've been enjoying some Autumnal strolls through my garden. The light here in South Africa in the Autumn/Winter is amazing......Very crisp and clear.

This is a Weaver bird's nest. They hang from the trees and are so intricately made. A masterpiece of nature I 
always think.

I've also managed a little bit of this and that on the creative front. I started a commission - one of the Lucy Bags for a friend. Here it is after a couple of hours

 And here's one I've almost finished for her daughter.

Some flowers for the bag. These are the Triple Layer Flowers that we all know and love from Lucy at Attic24.

And lastly here are some bunting triangles which I'll be sending to Lucy for Yarndale. I thought she might appreciate some from Africa!

So not too idle!!! Have also got two beanies (with decorative flowers of course) on the go so my fingers are knowing no rest!!!!

Til soon.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What do you think?

I'm planning to restyle our living room and I need your help. I have four different accent colour schemes in mind and I can't decide which one to go for. We have a biscuit coloured lounge suite (3 seater sofa and two squishy armchairs) and lots of African art on the walls - mainly animals but following a distinctly 'natural' colour scheme (browns, creams, oranges etc). Think sunsets and the african bush.

I've done some collages of the different colour schemes and need your help to decide which one you think would fit best. I have my favourite but am interested for other opinions.

Here goes. The first one is my Duck Egg scheme. I LOVE duck egg blue. Doesn't really go with the whole 'Africa' thing but it's the colour of the sky and we have sky here....LOTS of sky.....

My second scheme is Glorious Green. My favourite colour is green so I guess this is a natural choice for me.

My third choice is Berry Red. I really like brown and red together but am worried that during our very hot summers this scheme will make the room too warm. Could be good as a winter scheme though...

And finally we have the Spicy Orange scheme! Hubby loves orange so this one was really for him but now it's together I really love it too! What do you think?

Am knitting and hooking as usual but have nothing as yet to show for my efforts. Thanks for stopping by!
Til soon.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A labour of love....

A while ago you may have read my post about a commission that a friend of mine had given me to knit her a cable jersey. This was the pattern

Yes, I said, of course I can make it for you!!!!! And make it I did. Here it is:

Please excuse the sun dappled pic but it's late afternoon and my bedroom has the best natural light albeit a bit glary!!! Here's a pic with the curtains closed which shows up the cables a little better.

It's taken me just over two months to knit and whilst I love doing cable work, I have to say that this one was heavy going. My fingers took some strain as there were just SO MANY cables in the pattern! The sleeves were slightly easier but still mind-blowingly weighty! It felt like I was wading through deep mud whilst climbing a very steep hill! Still, I struggled on and finally finished it earlier this week.

Here's some close ups of the cables

And one last sun blasted look before I hand it over this evening....

I do like it, I really do. I just hope she does too.
Til soon.