Working hard at new things

I’m determined to, at some point, write about everything that I’ve been doing since I last blogged regularly. It may take me a while, but bit by bit I’ll get there!

At the beginning of July, I was trying to decide what to give to my sons’ teachers for the traditional end of year gift. Cheeky has two teachers this year, as they’ve come back from maternity leave on a job share, so I had three gifts to find.

I decided that they would have lots of chocolates, flowers and toiletries and so, being a 24/7 knitter, decided to use my talent for the greater good and make them something! I decided on mittens, being a lot quicker than scarves, and then decided to knit fingerless ones with the intention that they could be useful during autumn P.E. lessons in the cold wind!

The first pair I knitted from an existing pattern, with slight adaptations. For a start, the pattern made elbow length gloves but I didn’t have the time for that so I made them a few inches shorter. I was pleased with how they turned out;

The second pair, though, was a different story. I really wanted to make a pair of mittens with a cable (twist) design, but couldn’t find a pattern I liked anywhere. So then I sat and thought to myself, this is silly. I’ve been knitting for a long time now, I should really be able to design my own patterns rather than relying on Ravelry‘s database for everything. So I designed some myself!

I was really pleased by how they turned out, and also that I managed to match up the yarns exactly between the two gloves so that the stripes happened in the same places on each one! And then I had to make something for a Ravelry swap I took part in (about which, more later) and so I thought, another pair of mittens from this pattern would be a good idea, just to make sure that the pattern works well and there are no errors;

And here they are. I was even more pleased with them in a solid colour, as the pattern really pops at you from these ones. So i decided to bite the bullet and publish the pattern on Ravelry, which means that I’m now a published designer! It was very exciting to see “Jennie Powell’s original designs” above my pattern, and I’ve opened some floodgate or other in my mind. Every day I’m thinking of new patterns to create. I’ve just got to find the time to knit them now!

Traveling Woman

Before anyone gets excited (or anyone English corrects me on my spelling!) I’m not talking about me, I’m talking about the shawl I finished yesterday. The pattern is called Traveling Woman and I’m so pleased with how it has turned out.

I only began it when I went to the St Mellons’ Agricultural Show with Ellie on Saturday, but finished it up last night in time to cast on my next project!

This is the fifth (I think!) lacy shawl I have made now, but the first for myself. As such, I’m sure it will hold a place in my heart and get lots of wear!

The pattern is freely available on Ravelry, and I think it’ll almost certainly be one that I’ll knit again. The yarn was a 4ply sock yarn from Jelliebean Yarns (Ellie had a basket full on her stall at St Mellons Show on Saturday, in various colourways) in the colourway ‘Summer Meadow’. When I knit this again, I think the only thing I’d change would be to knit an extra lace repeat of the innermost scoops you can see as I had lots of yarn left at the end and it might as well be all knitted up rather than languish in a corner of my stash somewhere waiting for some little project to finish it up!

Anyway, having sent all of you into shock with two blog posts in the same week for the first time in an awfully long time, I’ll finish now as I want to go and see if my shawl is drying nicely (it’s all pinned out on my bed to set the pattern properly) and then I want to do a bit more on my next project before going out to do the grocery shopping.

Toodlepip!

I got the gold!

When I logged in to Ravelry this morning, I was thrilled to see this waiting for me in recognition of my completion of my Shawl of Happiness in the 2010 Winter Ravelympics;

And this medal-wearing dog for my Ravatar (Ravatar = Ravelry Avatar, of course!)

I modified it slightly so that I wouldn’t look exactly the same as the many, many other victorious Ravthletes (see what they did there??) and the gold medal is there, but he’s hiding it modestly just under the edge of the picture!

Onwards and upwards, to the next project!

I never knew lace could kill…

…but I think this shawl might just about do for me by the time I’m done with the Ravelympics project I’ve picked out. I think the yarn is cursed. Or possibly the needles. Or maybe it’s just me.

This is the yarn.

Looks innocuous enough, doesn’t it? Springlike, light, pretty. Well, you’re wrong. There’s evil in that yarn. But the only cure is for me to get the shawl finished and delivered to it’s rightful owner. I started this pattern last April, quickly discovered that it would drive me mad and frogged it. I rewound the ball of yarn, found a lovely crochet pattern, dug out the crochet hook and made a start. I got to this

before discovering the inherent evil in this mohair. I loved the pattern and was really enjoying crocheting it up, but the ball of yarn was magically shrinking in front of my eyes. At the rate it was disappearing, I might just manage a nice cushion cover with this pattern, but there was no way I was getting a full length wrap. So, back to plan A. I frogged it (again), and cast on to knit the original pattern. I managed 18 rows before giving in to the despair and leaving it in the bag for three months. But I am determined this thing will not beat me! There are 22 sets of 16 rows to knit (each 16 rows makes one pattern repeat) and I WILL DO THIS BY THE END OF THE WINTER OLYMPICS! I may need some quiet time in a padded room by then…but that’s a whole other concern. So far I’ve knitted six of those twenty two pattern repeats. I’m aiming at another two today, after which I will only need to aim at one a day. Which is more than enough to test my patience, my temper and my sanity.

**I would like to point out that the yarn itself is very nice. It’s a 2ply (thin, for non-knitters!) kid mohair (fluffy, for non-yarnies!) yarn, and feels lovely to work with. It’s just so hard to see where all the stitches are, given the inherent fluffy factor. However, I’m trying to convince myself that this same fluff factor will make it harder to spot the inevitable mistakes!

**EDITED TO ADD I’ve just noticed that my keyboard is covered in suspiciously green yarn fluff. It hates me. It can read, or mind read, and it hates me. There is no hope. If noone hears from me for a few days, send in the search parties. Tell them to look under the mountain of pale green (with hints of peach) fluff.

Procrastinating

I really should be typing up Handsome’s story, but I’m delaying the struggle to decipher. I’ve visited Ravelry, have bought my mother a triple dvd set of Elvis movies (bargain sale!) and I’m about to go and check my blog reader for new entries.

I’m planning a few posts in the near future about my favourite recipes. Having studied my search engine referrals (as I said yesterday) I’ve discovered that many people reach this blog looking for cookery advice. I’m not sure that I’m at all qualified to help in this regard, but I’m happy to share recipes for our favourite meals. Also, I’m going to put myself and my family to the great hardship of experimenting a little with the ‘cake in a cup‘ microwave recipe!

Probably the last of the Christmas presents

I meant to post all of these posts at the beginning of the month, but I got carried away with writing about other things, so here we are, a day away from February and I’m still writing about Christmas! I’ll probably just about finish telling you about last Christmas before I start writing about the next one!

Anyway, today I want to show you some of the presents I made for my friend Maria’s family.

First up, I made her mum this apron and oven glove set;

After Maria made dinner wearing her little dress and high heels, not getting a mark on her, I thought that an apron would make a good present for her mum. We agreed at the time that either of us would have ended up covered in flour and gravy had we attempted cooking in such an outfit! She seemed to like her set anyway, putting it on straight away and wearing it for the evening! And I loved her Christmas crown!

Also, Maria’s mum loves her Nintendo DS, apparently spending time on it on most days before she goes to bed. So when I saw this pattern in one of my magazines I thought it would be perfect for her.

I thought this little Shaun the Sheep pattern was really cute! I lined the case with felt, and you can’t see here but it buttons up at the top to keep the DS from sliding out.

Maria’s sister has her birthday just after new year, so I had to think of Christmas and birthday presents at the same time. For her Christmas present I made her a pair of fingerless gloves of my own designing. I’m annoyed with myself for not having taken a picture, but I’m planning on making some more soon anyway so I’ll photograph them instead. I also made her a hat.

This pattern, from Ravelry, is based on the hat that ‘Hermione’ wore in ‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince’. I designed the gloves to have matching cables, and they were obviously made in the same wool, Sirdar Click DK which is a wool and acrylic blend. Hopefully enough wool to make them warm, but enough acrylic to make them easy to care for!

Finally, for Maria’s sister’s birthday I made her some jewelry. I’d not really done very much with beading and jewelry making before, but I was quite pleased with the outcome.

Just a simple bracelet and earrings set. Not the best picture as I suddenly realised as I was packaging it up that I’d not taken a photo, but you get the idea! I also made a necklace and bracelet set for Maria, but I’ve yet to get a picture of that. She definitely liked them though, as I’ve seen her wearing them many times since Christmas. Nothing like a spot of appreciation to give you a warm glow inside!

Just a quick post today…

…as I have lots to do!

I’ve been busily crafting away and have completed a few more projects recently. I’ve not got a photo of my jumper yet, and there’s another project which I can’t share as it’s secret, but I’ve got two things to show you.

GG got a new phone recently, and didnt like the cover that came with it. So, he asked me to make him a phone sock. I even bought him a manly button to do the top up!

This is my new cowl, made from a very lovely lambswool that I found on Ebay! I loved the colour on sight, and love it even more now that it’s knitted up. Hopefully I’ll have some pictures of me actually wearing it by next week, so that you can see it as it actually should be!

Have a happy weekend everyone. I hope that the sun shines on you all, and that they are smiley days!

Organisation for the New Year!

So, if you saw yesterday’s post, you’ll know that I managed quite a lot of crafty production last year. I would really like to get near the same amount this year, as I really enjoy all my various crafts, and I had a great sense of satisfaction at being able to present those I like best with hand made Christmas gifts. But, in order to achieve it, I will have to be organised.

On Ravelry, I’m in a few groups, including the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup (I’m a Gryffindor!). Assignments are set for the various classes each month, and completed projects win points for your house, towards the goal of winning the house cup. And one of January’s assigments was pure genius. On Ravelry, there is a queuing facility where you can queue all the patterns that you’d like to do. I’ve half-heartedly used it before, but now, thanks to an assignment which demanded the queue organised, catalogued, tagged and in a working order, I’m set up with at least enough projects for a few months! Of course, it’s a work in progress and I dare say I’ll add more as I think of more to make, but it’s certainly made a good start on my goal of 2010 being a more organised year (notice I said goal, not resolution. The R word generally tends to be counter productive for me, so I’m ignoring it for this year. I figure that if you don’t meet a goal, it doesn’t sound as harsh as if you break a resolution!).

In the next couple of days I will have my first couple of completed projects of the year, which I will be sure to show you as and when they are achieved. But for now, I’d like to reiterate that I wish you all a very happy new year for 2010 full of lots of good things. I hope that this time next year you can all look back and have good memories of the year just ended.

I won prizes!

Ravelry was such a good find for me. I’ve been a member of this knitting, crocheting, weaving and spinning community for some time now, but only in the last few months have I really been getting involved with some of the groups. There is a Cardiff Knitters group which I’m in, a group for Welsh yarn addicts and (the one I’m having lots of fun with at the moment!) a Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup! I joined only this term, and was sorted into Gryffindor, and the assignments have helped me to get most of my Christmas knitting and crochet done well ahead of schedule. But the extra fabulous special lovely fact has to be that I have won prizes for two of my projects! Yay!

The first prize I won was for this shawl/cardigan (the pattern is the Berocco Juliana) which I made for Maria for her birthday in September. She always dresses well, and likes to look elegant, and when I saw this pattern I hoped to be able to create something that was both elegant and a little out of the ordinary at the same time. I was quite pleased with the result, and glad that I persevered through the many weeks it took to knit it! I took this project into the detention class in September as I was worried that I wouldn’t get it done in time for Maria’s birthday if I didn’t get a bit of a kick up the bum to keep me motivated. Obviously it worked, and in October the ‘professor’ in charge of the detention room nominated my cardigan for a prize. It was against two other projects, and it was left to other students to vote for their favourite, and my Juliana won! I got my prize (all the way from Ohio) the other day – a beautiful kaleidoscope which gave me a very happy time as I sat looking at the mess in my living room through it, captivated by how beautiful it looked through the prism!

And yesterday I found out that I’ve won a second prize! But…I can’t tell you anything about it, because the item in question is intended to be a present for someone. At least the recipient can be proud in the knowledge (because you should be very sure that I will tell him or her!) that they are receiving a prize winning piece of hand crafted loveliness!!!

I will tell you all about it in January. TTFN!

Knitting kills…

…well, I think my current project might. I can’t discuss it too much because it’s going to be a present, but I’ve been working on it for more than a month now and I am firmly convinced that I’ve found out how I’m going to die. And if it doesn’t kill me, I will die with it grasped in my hands.

It seemed such a good project when I considered the pattern, but it’s taking FOREVER, and I don’t seem to be making a lot of progress! At least I like the colour!

I’m a typical Gemini, loving to flit from one thing to another, like a butterfly, and this project is severely holding my butterfly tendencies back. I’ve got a lost as long as your arm on Ravelry of projects that I want to get my needles or hooks into, and I just have to finish this one first. I think I’m about 40% there. I’ll take it to knitting club tonight, and maybe I’ll get a chunk done. If I do, I’ll come and tell you all about it tomorrow. I’m aiming to finish it by the end of the month. A tad overambitious, I think! But I need a target. And it’s coming almost everywhere with me. It even came to Southerndown on Tuesday! Work yesterday and today, and Stitch and Bitch (obviously) tonight.

Pray for me. Quite seriously, I need to find hitherto untapped sources of patience and stamina, and I can’t do it alone!