Sunday, 27 February 2011

Giving something back......

One of my favourite, leisurely activities is to take a little wander through Blogland - I get lots of crafty inspiration and feed my senses with pretty colours and things. I hadn't done this in a looooong time, so yesterday I took advantage of a momentary lull in the usual weekend madness, and came across a couple of new charity projects which I think are worthy of wider attention / publicity.

First up, there is Crochet a Rainbow - this has been set up by crochet designer, Sarah London, who is based in Australia. Watching the footage of the devastation caused by the recent floods, she desperately wanted to do something to help. She has come up with a devilishly simple, but super effective, plan: she is asking for donations of granny squares in bright colours. (For full details and instructions, click on the rainbow button at the top right of this blog).
So, this morning, I decided to resurrect 'Crochet Sunday' - this was something I started doing back in the summer (i.e. a bit of leisurely crochet while waking up to my favourite day of the week), but which has lapsed a little recently. You may remember that, back in July, I was given some squares and wool by a colleague? Well, I had turned a few of them into the larger 8"squares required for Knit-A-Square, but still had quite a few that hadn't been 'dealt with'. Imagine my hapiness when I discovered that they were all made up of 5 rounds - perfect! Well, except for one thing: they all needed multiple ends weaving in:

Nothing much else to do but roll up my sleeves and get going really......cue a scene of slight chaos and confusion - but it's all crafty, so it doesn't matter!!

Even Miss A got in on the act:
- note how I sacrificed one of my precious sheets of 12 x 12 scrapbooking card??? No, seriously - I love the fact that she seems to have inherited the 'crafty gene' in the biggest possible way - long may it continue!

And here's the final result - 41 squares all tidied up and ready for posting tomorrow!

And the 2nd charity I hear you ask? Well this one is much closer to home - set up by the lovely Mrs Twins, this one is called Sunshine International Blankets of Love (or SIBOL) for short. Basically, Mrs Twins (aka Sue) collects 6" squares of all designs (knitted and crocheted) which she then makes up into blankets for the elderly. This one appeals to me on several fronts - the squares will be quicker to make than the ones for Knit-A-Square, I can plunder my enormous collection of square patterns and it's a UK-based effort. Guess you could say I'm spreading the love! Pictures in due course - once I've actually settled on a pattern / colour scheme.....seriously, that's the hardest part :-)

And what of Knit-A-Square? I will admit that things have slackened off a bit recently, but I have still managed a few bits and pieces:

And then, of course, there are two famous afghans that were started last spring. If you remember, one of them was going to be for the 1st child of some friends (the other is/was for Miss A - but more of that another time). Well, that particular child was born back in May - so then the blanket was going to be for my niece/nephew - well, that child has also now been born! Both babies got other goodies from me, which leaves me without a recipient at the moment. I figured it might be a good idea to actually get it finished so it could go to the next baby to come along - whenever that might be!
I am actually quite a bit further along than I realised - almost 50% of the 64 squares are done. Here's the green square - I need 10 of these, but they're pretty quick. Then (hallelujah!), I get to move onto the pretty colours: blue, pink and purple - yummy!

Centered Square from 200 Crochet Blocks by Jan Eaton
Patons Diploma Gold DK in Dark Green (6246) & Thyme (6213)
and King Cole Big Value DK in Lawn (11), 4.5mm hook, 6" across

I hope all your Sundays were as crafty and colour-filled as our :-)

Saturday, 26 February 2011

THREE pairs!

I have managed to finish not one, not two, but THREE pairs of socks since I last posted - not bad, given that I've also been very busy with family stuff (more on that later) and getting my head round some fairly major changes at work.....but enough of that uninteresting, work-related stuff, let's get to the pictures!

First up, I finally finished the Gentian socks for the Hazel Knits KAL. I was given this particular skein of yarn (Artisan sock in Sagebrush) last summer by the awesome Christine - I wonder if she realised just how addicted to it I would become? (Actually, given how much of this stuff she has, I think she probably did - naughty girl!)

Pattern: Gentian by Lisa Stichweh
Yarn: Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Sagebrush
Start Date: 1 January 2011
End Date: 13 February 2011
It's a wondefully squishy, bouncy and quite thick yarn - it knits up with beautiful stitch definition and makes for a pair of very warm, snuggly socks. As a result of Christine's machinations, I have since acquired two more skeins of Artisan - Hoppy Blonde and Cloudy Day (this last one was the Club yarn from December 2010, which I was lucky to get my hands on through a trade with a fellow Ravelry member)

I also ordered the February/March sock club yarn - an amazing deal, as you get TWO skeins of 'surprise' yarn for a really good price. It's currently on it's way over the ocean (hurry up, Mr. Postman!), but I took a sneaky peek at the Hazel Knits blog - and almost fainted.....
Good Morning and Pick Me:

Next up, we have the Monkey socks from the Knit.Sock.Love February KAL - these were made using Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Lightweight in Quinault Canopy. Another nice, thickish, squishy pair of socks - and I love the way the colours twisted themselves around the leg...
Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A. (Knit.Sock.Love)
Yarn: Socks that Rock Lightweight in Quinault Canopy
Start Date: 1 February 2011
End Date: 23 February 2011
The reason these socks took just over three weeks was because I was also knitting another pair for a colleague who's in bad need of some serious cheering up. She's going in for back surgery next week and is just a little nervous to say the least. Hopefully, these will cheer her up nicely while she's on her back for 3 weeks afterwards:
Pattern: Diagonal Rib Socks by Ann Budd (I inverted the cables on the 2nd sock)
Yarn: Lana Grossa Meilenweit Sunset 100 in shade 8701
Start Date: 5 February 2011
End Date: 25 February 2011
Next up on my list is Thelonious, which is the Knit.Sock.Love pattern for March - looks pretty complicated and has required the creation of some special stitch markers so I don't lose my way. I'm also planning on turning the Artisan in Hoppy Blonde (the first yellow picture above) into a pair of Oviatt socks by Melissa Goodale - her description says it all:
"Echoing the grand Art Deco glass of Los Angeles' Oviatt Building, this sock's slip-stitch pattern creates an eye-catching geometry. Ribbing feeds into the window-pane design - much like the period by which it is inspired, Oviatt is functional, elegant and modern". Can't wait...
This post is now quite long enough - I will keep the big family news for the next one!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Plodding along.....

I finished the Hedera socks for the January Knit.Sock.Love KAL - not too sure I understand why people rave about / enjoy this pattern so much. I found it quite boring, and had to really push myself to finish them. They are now in the hands of Royal Mail, heading off to Scotland - hopefully they will bring a touch of spring to my best friend's feet :-)

Pattern: Hedera by Cookie A.
Yarn: Buffy Sock by Juno Fibre Arts in Stargazer colourway
Start date: 15 January 2011
Finish date: 4 February 2011

I'm still soldiering on with the Hazel Knits mystery socks - I've reached the final clue on both socks, so hopefully I will have a new, finished pair to show you shortly. I've enjoyed knitting these - mainly because I know completely understand why people rave so wildly about this yarn. However, they have been slow-going and I will be glad to get them off the needles and onto my feet. The yarn is super squishy and bouncy - and these socks will be very warm and cozy - perfect!

I've also started a pair of Monkey socks for the February Knit.Sock.Love KAL. I'm using some Socks That Rock Lightweight in the Quinault Canopy colourway. I've always drooled over this yarn when I've seen it on Ravelry - so I treated myself to four skeins for my 40th last year. This is the first one to be knitted up - and I LOVE it....the squishiness, the colours, the excitement of seeing how the colours come out and they way in which they pool together in different, mysterious ways......happy sigh! Here's the first sock (are you impressed with the photographic composition?)

I've also started another Mystery Sock (I know, I'm powerless to resist!) in the Barking Dog Yarns group. I've only recently discovered these yarns, and I'm looking forward to knitting with the skein of Sirius that I recently purchased. However, I'm not using that yarn for this project, as my swift has had to be sadly retired to knitting heaven and I am therefore forced to only use yarns that I have already wound into cakes until I can find a replacement.

I started out using a rather interesting yarn I had traded last summer with another Knitting Goddess - it's composed of 50% wool, 50% yak (of all things!). I love the colours and it was coming out quite pretty:

Unfortunately, it feels very stiff and scratchy. It's also unbelievably fragile - in the space of one single row, it broke THREE times. So, I have frogged my progress so far - I think I'll use hold it double and use it for something that won't get intensive wear, like a hat or scarf. We'll see......

I'm now going to be using this:

Zitron Trekking XXL in a lovely grey that is shot through with red, orange and brown. I've had this for ages, so it's definitely time it got used! I've only managed the cast on so far, but I reckon I should make good progress in the next few days.

That's it for today - now must get off and finish those HK socks!


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