Sunday 28 February 2016

A Year of Projects Update - Week 35

My husband has been laid low this week with flu.  It means that this week has been a little bit mad!  I have still managed to get in some knitting - of course!
I have just this minute finished some mitts for Thomas - so new that I haven't taken photos.  He has put them on the radiator for tomorrow so I may not get to photograph those.
I have made progress on Hitofude.
I have got one more pattern repeat to the increases then its straight down to the bottom.  I am loving knitting this as its been a while since I have knit lace and I do so enjoy it.
I have picked up my sock club socks again and I am now onto the last chart then its the heel so it should start to fly by now (the last chart is only a short one).  Daniel has informed me though that he needs me to start his next socks now before I finish these, so I will start those this afternoon after the ironing.
I have also made a little progress on Bracken.  I love working with this yarn as it is so gorgeous and squishy.  It is Mellifera yarn cash dk and it is splendid.
I also took possession of the print version of Interpretations 3 by Joji and Veera.  I love it - I am currently gushing over the patterns and want to knit everything.  I will need yarn purchases though and I have been so good I think I will virtual shop for a bit longer.  I want to finish the 2 sweaters I have otn and then I want to knit a worsted boxy and From Way Back - so I have a while to plan!
I think that is it for now - hope you all have a good week.
Check out the group here   

Sunday 21 February 2016

A Year of Projects Update - week 34

I can't believe we are at the end of the half term break already!  Thomas was struck down with flu this week, bless him.  In the end he was 5 days on the sofa being sick - I did think we might have to take him to A and E with dehydration on Thursday but he rallied and is now as well as can be and demanding MacDonalds!!
The only good thing about this was that I was able to do quite a lot of knitting and crafty things.
I made great progress on Hitofude and got to the waist band yesterday.  I now only have the long rows of the skirt to finish.
My progress will slow now but I hope to still get it finished by the end of the Self indulgent KAL hosted by the yarniacs podcast - 20th March.
I cast on and completed a sunhat for Daniel, who loves it.
I made a little progress on my socks, but haven't given them much love this week.
I also signed up for another KAL (its fine as I'm using stash yarn!) with Katya Frankel -the Anything Goes KAL where you can knit any of her designs.  I have chosen Bracken and CO last night.
In addition to all of that I have been spending money on books.  I have been totally taken in by Interpretations 3 that has just been released by Joji Locatelli and Veera Valimaki so decided I needed the print version of the book.  It's in the post as we speak!  I will tell you how fab it is next week.  While I was there on the Pom Pom website, I'm afraid I was sucked in and took out a subscription to their magazine (Pom Pom quaterly) - Oh well.  I bought these because I have not bought yarn for so long.  However, I was reading Caffeine Girl blog and she mentioned a sock yarn from Arne and Carlos by Regia that I was hankering after a little while ago.  I needed some more wool wash and so checked that Loveknitting didn't have any - but they did - so I had to get some!!  Ho hum - must stop buying things!
To see what everyone else has been up to this week check out the link here - you can also check out our progress on Instagram using the hashtag #yop5

Wednesday 17 February 2016

A Soap Making Foray

I mentioned in my Year of Projects Posts, that I was trying my hand at soap making and several readers expressed that I share my experiences.  So here we are!
Firstly, I just have to say, these are my own very limited observations and thoughts, and are not intended to be comprehensive or provide a tutorial or such like.
I have now tried two methods of soap making, melt and pour and a natural soap (a more traditional soap).
Lets start with the natural soap. (I am using a kit - the Natural Soap Making Kit by Kirstie Allsopp as seen here.)
Now firstly I have to say that it is not finished yet.  I went against all my knitting training and did not read through the pattern to the end first!  If I had I would have found that when my soap is at the stage it is at, at the moment, it is still corrosive and needs 3/4 weeks to 'age'!!  (I will come back to this later).
So it started well, I had a kit so everything was measured out, but I didn't want to make it all , so decided to half everything.  This process was easy and then had to put in a microwave till it got to 60 degrees.  I don't have a thermometer so just went to when it was all melted together, which seemed fine.  I was a little apprehensive about the caustic soda given all the warnings, even though I use it at school.  But that too was fine, I used the gloves as instructed and opened a window but I didn't notice any fumes.  Then I got to mix together, which all went swimmingly.  I was supposed to mix for 10 minutes, break for 5 then repeat until it had started to set.  Well it thickened but didn't get to the trace point Kirstie Allsopp wanted.  So I read the instructions and they said to heat it back up to kick start the reaction - it didn't say how hot or indeed if you had to get it to trace (leave a trail), so I didn't (being a little fed up of stirring at this point).  I went ahead and added my lemongrass and lavender and poured it into moulds.
It took a day but did set ok, and now I have to wait till it ages.
Now the Scientist in me is a little agitated at the lack of a definitive timescale, so I will get some pH paper from school to test it before I use it.  Here it is - curing.  A little rustic looking, but, I guess, that is the point.
It looks as though it will be nice and lathery (if that is a word!), but is it worth the faff? Probably not - I don't think I have enough patience to get any more of this, but I do have the remaining half kit, which if it sets ok and is not still corrosive (!) I will use with some colouring and different fragrance later in the year.
The melt and pour base.
Now this was a whole different kettle of fish.  This was so easy - you just cut up how much you want, melt it in the microwave, add colouring and pour into moulds.  I will make some adjustments to my original batch however.  I used too much and therefore by the time it was all melting it had formed bubbles which resulted in a white bloom to the finished soap.  You can just about make it out on this photo - the top soap was the one with bubbles, the bottom soap made later without.
I so next time I will use less soap and more fragrance.  Then the only issue with this one is it doesn't produce a lot of lather, enough but not lots.
In summary, I want this soap for myself and gifts.  In truth I think that means it will be the melt and pour base that I get more of for ease and reliability.  I will however, use up the kit and will be a little more adventurous if the soaps I have here lather well.
So there you have it - my assessment of soap making!

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Yarn Along - What's on my needles?

I have lots of WIP's this week, which, hopefully, I will make inroads into this week.
Firstly I have my Hitofude - which is still on the arm section but is coming along and I am nearly done with this bit.
Then my sock club socks - Whitby, I have just started the chart, so hopefully, they will seem to progress faster now.
I made Daniel some spidey mitts last week which he loves but has left at after school club, so no pictures.  Thomas then wanted some, but just plain ones - I have finished one bar the thumb and now making progress on the second.
I am finally making Daniel his sunhat and hopefully, it will be finished by summer when we are sure to have lots of sun ;-).
And finally, what am I reading?  Well nothing high brow I'm afraid, but I took possession of this book on Monday and am looking forward to making my way through the patterns.
I had seen a pattern from Rachel Coopey and found that it was from this book.  It is as described socks knitted from top down, toe up and other ways and each has something novel about it.  I am very excited about this book, I have knitted a number of socks over the past year and really enjoy doing it, but now I feel I can branch out and try some new techniques.  I want to try the Mirror socks, Bertha, Cleave, Cumulus, Crossfade, U turn, Smokey Zick Zacks, Seedbeds and square socks (which is pretty much most of them).  But first I really want to try Mitered triangles by Kathryn Alexander.  I have been thinking about what will make up my Year of Projects for next year and I think this book may form the basis of it.
Linking with Nicole and Ginny

Sunday 14 February 2016

A Year of Projects Update - week 33

Yay we made it to half term!  On the bad side I have been struck down with the lurgy the last three days and then last night I was up most of the night with Thomas.  Hopefully, we will get it out of our system and will enjoy the rest of the week!
I have finished a few things this week - the sunhat for the stall, the spidey mitts and vianne.
Now Daniel has worn the spidey mitts every day and now has left them at his after school club and I haven't taken any photos!  So we will retrieve them when we go back to school next week and take photos then.
I have completed my modification of Vianne and now I am pleased to report that I will wear it now and the colour difference isn't noticable in real life unlike the photo!  Next time I decide that I will try a cropped top stop me!
I am still making progress on Hitofude and my sock club socks, and by next week I hope to have some progress photos.
Since we are feeling under the weather today I hope to do lots of knitting today and indulge my latest obsession of podcasts.  I hadn't seen or heard one before this week but now I have been converted a sit means that I can knit and listen and the boys can do their own thing.
If I feel up to it later I may finally get round to doing the soap I have been looking forward to doing.  I don't think I will get to the sewing today but I'm sure I will in the week.
I have signed up for another KAL with Katya Frankel.  I am going to knit Bracken in some of my stash Mellifera yarn.  
On that note, I have been doing very well using my stash - I have not bought any new yarn since December.  However, in chatting in the Anything Goes KAL thread I noticed someone had some yarn from Coldharbour mill which is about 5 miles from my mum and dad, I looked it up to find they are still trading and sell their own spun yarn.  So when I go to visit mum and dad at Easter I shall be taking a visit to the mill!!  It will be my birthday so I will be allowed to treat myself!
Anyway back to the knitting!  To see what the others are doing click here.

Sunday 7 February 2016

A Year of Projects Update - week 32

Ah another week of lots of little bits of progress!  No FO's this week but I have good feelings about next week!!

I have done some more to the second spidey mitt.  This is the closest to being finished, I'm nearly to the decreases.
 I've done a little more to my sock club socks - Whitby by Rachel Coopey.
I have made some progress on Hitofude.  The pattern is lovely and I am really enjoying it but it is taking forever!!  I have only done 6 pattern repeats and need to to do 15 on this portion alone!  No worries, it is coming along.
I have done a few more rows on Vianne - two more button holes, so I think I am pretty much there with that, now to see if it is more wearable now.  I also started work on a few more things for the craft stall in April - some sunhats to begin with.
Only one more week until the half term break and I can't wait - although we have so much planned I wonder if we will fit it all in!!
To see what the other YOPpers have been doing, click here