Saturday, 26 June 2010

New Challenges

Ok, so first off I'll get my little rant out of the way. Not so much a rant actually, rather, just pointing out the obvious and predictable. While I was away in Egypt my copies of 'The Knitter' magazine and 'Yarn Forward' arrived in the post. Hubby well knows by now that the first thing I look for when I get hold of any material like this is to see if any mens patterns have been included. He checked my face while I flicked through the first publication.

Flick, flap, flick. Page open.
Him: "What is it?"
"One second"
Next magazine - flick, flap, flick. Page open.
"Hmmmm" (with raised eyebrow)
Him:  "Oh"

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen. Hubby knew it before I even showed him the magazines and I would assume that, if you've been reading me for any length of time, you can see what's coming too. Two of the most popular knitting magazines in Britain, one of which certainly is entirely polished in every other sense, have produced YET AGAIN a pair of the dullest, most boring and tedious mens patterns ever. Only outdone, I would assume, by whatever they publish next month. I guess that in the interests of fairness, I ought to point out they may actually only have printed ONE of the dullest, most boring and tedious patterns ever because, in truth, they are almost identical. The one below is from 'The Knitter' and is knitted in a very daring blue. Blue for a boy. How original. I wonder how many sleepless nights the designer endured before finally settling on that wacky shade. As for 'Yarn Forward's offering, it was simply so yawnworthy that I couldn't be bothered to take a picture of it. Suffice to say, turn the blue version cream and add elbow patches (err....hello?) and you're basically there. It's not like the jumpers are unattractive. Just dull. Who wants to spend hours, days, weeks even, working on a knitted project PLUS £100 or so on yarn only to end up with something that looks like it was bashed out in a sweatshop and purchased in Primark for a fiver?

Then again, I'm not sure what else to expect from a magazine that uses this woman as their cover model...

So a lot is to do with styling, and I'm not having a go at the woman personally but....perleeeese.... with those pigtails she looks like she is about to star in some low budget pornographical movie. I don't wish to trash the magazine too much because, in general (that is, models and mens patterns aside) it is superb. The womens patterns are fantastic, the articles are far more in-depth and interesting than many others you could get hold of, and the whole thing is put together with a great sense of quality. I guess nothing is perfect. return to my real reason for posting - I've decided that I am a lazy knitter. Rather, I knew this all along. But, do you not find that with gifts to knit and stashes to use up and etsy/folksy shops to stock, the temptation to just keep on churning things out without ever developing yourself is almost overwhelming? I do. So I've decided that I'm not going to worry about who I'm knitting for or how long I take over the project (could make for some dull blogging if it drags on too long but hey-ho!). It's time to take up some more challenging techniques! I've never knitted lace before, at least, not a proper, full throttle lace project. I don't think little panels or borders really count. Besides, I'd like to learn to use charts too. As if 'The Knitter' somehow pre-empted my decision and decided to offer an olive branch over the lacklustre mens patterns, they kindly included this article to get me started:

I scoured ALL of my knitting magazines in search of an appealing lace project which, in itself, was quite a challenge - I subscribe to so many! My top two were the 'Prairie Rose Shawl' from a back issue of 'The Knitter' and the 'Dalenni Scarf' from 'Yarn Forward'.

The 'Dalenni Scarf' is knitted in color-mart laceweight 2 ply (which I just happen to have in my stash for once!) while the 'Prairie Rose Shawl' is knitted in a Jamieson and Smith 2 ply lace (sadly not in my stash!)
After spending four and a half hours winding the color-mart yarn into a ball (seriously! Don't ask me what happened as I have no idea!) I decided that I preferred the lace pattern of the PRS and so I started on that first and just hoped that the gauge would be similar (I don't believe it is now!). However, because the yarn is so fine and similar in colour to my bamboo needles (I intended to knit the shawl and then take an even greater risk and perform my first dye job on the finished piece to liven up the rather dull beige!) I had terrible trouble maintaining the correct number of stitches. I imagine I was knitting some together when I ought not to.

I had a look on 'ravelry' and some people had knitted this shawl in The Natural Dye Studio's sock yarn. Again, this is something I had in my stash, so I picked it up and knitted a swatch (the very blurred picture below!). The thing is, now I'm not sure I like it as much. I feel like the 4 ply sock yarn is too thick for the shawl and is detracting from the open nature of the pattern.

The next picture shows the swatch alongside the yarn I wanted to use. You'll see what a difference there is in the yarn weight.

And that's pretty much where I am right now! Dithering and indecisive about how to progress! I wanted the knitting itself to be a challenge - I didn't expect choosing an appropriate pattern and yarn to cause so much trouble. Usually I just pick up, cast on and go....

Of course, all the while this has been going on I've been coming across hundreds of other adorable lace projects, as well as adding to my list of knitterly challenges (intarsia, fair isle, learning new cast-on methods, double knitting).

I'm feeling rather flustered!

More soon (when I've made a decision!)

Mother's Ruin xxx

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

I'm back!

If this was a Hollywood movie, I'd re-appear from my holiday looking tanned, slim, mysterious in big shades with sun-bleached hair and some kind of vibrant, drapey thing slung around my neck. In reality, I crashed back onto UK soil at 4am, eyes tired and puffy, shivering due to the drop from 50 degrees to 15 and rubbing red knees in a vain attempt to remove from them the imprint of the seat in front, all the while lugging around a case containing enough washing to occupy an entire army of housewives for over a month.

Talk about travelling in style!

For all this, I'm pleased to tell you that we had a lovely time. Usually I get myself into a bit of a frenzy when I go away somewhere. I've never understood how or why people travel literally thousands of miles, only to sit on a beach 24/7. This time, however, I was one of those people! My third visit to Egypt and, therefore, something of a veteran! I've seen all the major sights before so, save for a couple of boat trips, I spent the entire time lazing around and reading (4 books in the first five days - when I realised that I'd run out of reading material I turned instead to Vodka! Needless to say, I soon turned back. A hangover in 50 degree heat is less than pleasant!!! On the subject of reading and to continue my aside - Dawn French's 'Dear Fatty' is an excellent read if anybody fancies it. I don't often go for autobiographies but she is, it seems, a genuinely funny lady!)

We hit our resort at precisely the correct time. It was quiet and relaxed, though we were informed that the management had just purchased the building next door and, in a matter of days, the resort was going to triple in capacity and size. The only downside was (as I often find!) the other tourists. Don't get me wrong - I'm not racist or xenophobic (more about that in a second) and there are, of course, always exceptions to every rule. But really, I was so so so tired of nodding to/smiling at/ greeting the German/Russian/Slovakian guests only to be stared at or, perhaps worse, entirely ignored. There was one lovely lady, though, (and this is where I prove that I give everyone a fair chance) called Tina. She was 60 years old, travelling alone (widow) and didn't speak a word of English! I spent many happy hours conversing with her about all sorts using my very limited knowledge of the German language, With a lot of gesticulation, pointing, drawing in the sand and remembering about every tenth word that I needed we managed to get through quite a lot! Strangely, I think it was on of the highlights of the holiday.....

Here are some of the pictures for you to enjoy - of course, I've removed all of the ones that I'm in. I don't need my readers wondering why nobody bothered to help the beached whale back into the water. I was pleased to see that bourgenvilia (how does one spell it?!) was growing all over our resort - such a cheering sight. And of course, the sea was blue, blue, blue....................

Back soon with some crafty news (that is why we're all here after all!)

Hope you've all been well my little bunch of creative Goddesses (and Gods!)....

Mother's Ruin xxx

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Where I am...

I'm still here .....just. I'm not going to apologise for my half-hearted blogging efforts in recent weeks - I know that there are MORE than enough talented, friendly, wonderful bloggers and crafters out there to keep you entertained and that in reality, much as I may secretly hope otherwise, you probably have not noticed I was missing!

Things have been so crazy with me. My working life has been entirely turned upside-down. Some would argue that change is good (and normally I'd agree) but unfortunately what is happening here is not good at all. I wont bother you with details, suffice to say that I am very unhappy right now. Of course, when you're spending 40 hours a week in an office the size of a matchbox and resenting every minute of it, you have little energy left for creative pursuits. I go home at the end of every day feeling physically and emotionally tired. Furthermore, weekends at the moment seem to be devoted to stressing about the coming week. My crafting output has been somewhere in the region of.....err....zilch - thus, no blogging!

Add into the mix the fact that 70% of Britain seem to have their birthdays in May/June (what is it with randy parents in Aug/Sept?!!!) and all are clamouring for attention, presents, attendance to parties etc etc etc and my life has not been my own!

It was just rubbing salt into the wound yesterday when I had to call my broadband provider because I was unable to access the internet and NOTHING was resolved until I had spoken to three members of staff and spent 4 hours on the phone! That's service for you! Quite infuriating was their request that I, the customer, the one paying for the 'service', was asked to run the diagnostics myself and then call them back with the results. I'm sorry - is it inconvenient? Are you due a cigarette break? Do you need me to hang-up in order that you can trot across the office and speak to Sharon about last nights date? Argh!

On a brighter note - I am on holiday next week. We've booked a week in Egypt (on an absolute shoe-string budget. More like tooth floss) and, having already been several times and visited all the main sites and points of historical interest, I am confident that I will have no guilt in plonking my bottom on the beach and relaxing for the whole time.

So, I guess this is it for now. Don't forget me - I certainly have not forgotten you! You are my crafty friends, my delightful little talents and I miss speaking with you. But for now - au revoir... I'll see you in a week or so....hopefully feeling a little more like my usual self.

Look after yourselves (and each other!)

Much Love

Mother's Ruin xxx

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Sporadic blogging

Well, it's been a little while, hasn't it?!

I'm afraid you'll have to accept my apologies for my sporadic blogging - something that I anticipate will continue for the next week or so. Unfortunately, I have been incredibly busy with things both at work and at home.

When I left you last, I was working on my Mod Sampler Quilt. I'm pleased to report that I've nearly finished the quilt top! Yay! I just have to sew on the 4 pieces of sashing that act as a 'frame' around the entire quilt top. I actually decided to change the Mod Sampler in a several ways. After following the layout that was included with the instructions I decided that I wanted a design that was less regimented, so I've placed my pieced squares in a random order that was pleasing to me (and probably me alone!). Also, when I laid everything out I realised that I had enough materials to make the quilt larger. I definitely wanted the finished project to be as big as possible, so rather than use the leftover pieced squares on the back of the quilt I have included them on the quilt top with an extra row of sashing. Having also realised that my backing fabric was going to be too narrow, I now plan to cut the plain cream cotton in half lengthwise and move it to the edges. The vertical strip that will be created between those two halves will then be filled in with some nice Amy Butler fabric that I have. Groovy, huh?! 

Here are just a couple of quick pictures of the progress so far. I made a mistake when cutting my sashing strips so they did not come out exactly straight which means, by turn, that the whole quilt top is a bit skewed. That said, I think it could have been a lot worse so I am relieved that the whole project was not totally ruined.

I'll be back with more as soon as I can!

Happy crafting!

Mother's Ruin xxx