Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Our Mini-Break....

Last week DH and I had a little one night mini-break at a local Spa hotel. It will be my 50th birthday at the end of April but we decided to go away now as it's school hols and easier for my Mum to look after the kids when she doesn't have to worry about the school run.

We went to Fordoun Hotel & Spa and it was lovely. We've stayed here before (it's only 10 minutes drive from our house) so we knew what to expect but it's one of those places that never disappoints. Expensive, but well worth the money.

Our room
Our verandah
The view from the verandah
A walk through woodland
More Hadedas (I told you they were common)
Our room (far left on the end)
Another walkway leading to.....
....individual and very private bungalows
A water feature
Love birds......
Til soon.
x









Monday, April 7, 2014

12 in 12 Challenge

Hello!

Having a good week? I finally finished another of my 12 in 12 Challenge knits and here it is!!!


What do you think? I used this yarn 


which was one of those weird purchases that I loved when I bought it but grew to hate rather quickly. I'm not sure why tho because green is my most favourite of colours and this has ever conceivable shade of green in it! The texture is a bit dodgy - a little too close to those dreadful boucle yarns of the 60s - but it was very soft and I'm sure will feel wonderful to wear. I just hated it more and more so by the time the last stitch was stitched I had already decided to give it away to a friend that had admired it a lot during its creation. She loves it and wore it home the day I gave it to her so I know it's gone to someone who will wear it, love it and cherish it which is more than I would have done. I think it would have been one of my FOs that got shoved in the back of the cupboard and never again saw the light of day (and there's been a few of those in my life).....

Just quickly before I go I thought I'd show you this


which is a Hadeda (pronounced haa-dee-daa) otherwise known as the Ibis. They are enormous birds (about 76cm long) and very common in South African gardens. It was extremely misty this morning and when I opened the curtains this one was sitting on our pergola! It looked decidedly Jurassic so if I see any dinosaurs wandering about, I'll let you know.....

Til soon.
x



Sunday, April 6, 2014

67 Blankets for Madiba Day 2014

Hello!

Earlier this year I became involved in a wonderful initiative that (like many other wonderful initiatives) started with a single idea by a single individual and has blossomed into a Worldwide phenomenon. It's called 67 Blankets for Madiba Day and some of you may already have heard about it but if not, HERE'S a link to a short Youtube video about how it started and what it is..... please have a look.

So I decided to knit a blanket using all the odd bits and pieces that I had in my stash. I didn't think I had very much and I envisaged buying at least 4 balls of wool at some point. I was wrong. I have completed the blanket without buying a single ball!!!

Take a look ....


I wasn't too bothered about colour co-ordination and literally just used up every scrap of yarn that I had. At the end I laid it out on my bed just as the squares came out of the bag and started crocheting them together.


Then I decided on a simple edging (thanks Lucy)....


And I could see it finally coming together.....


A quick swirl around in the bath with some Woolite and out on the line to dry....




My Beautiful Blanket for Madiba Day!!!
Til soon....
x









Sunday, March 2, 2014

Brights and Buttons....

Hello! Yikes it's been a while. I haven't yet managed to get into a rhythm with my blog posts this year but promise to be a little more organised from now on!

So, Feb has been and gone. Why does time speed up as you get older? It seems I've just got things organised at the beginning of the month when suddenly it's month end and I haven't done anything! Does anyone else get that? (Or is it just me????)

I have managed to finish the first of my 12 of 12 Challenge. It's this -


What do you think? I'm really happy with it altho I didn't do the side shaping as I wanted a kind of "tunic" thing going on rather than a fitted sweater. Its this pattern (Gabbro by Carol Feller). Do you like the lace panel down the sides and at the neck? I do. Here's some more pics.....



It looks fab with jeans and is roomy enough for a long-sleeve T in those cold winter months .... always useful.

On a completely different subject, fruit salad!!!! DH and I had a sudden yearning the other day for fresh fruit salad and seeing as we're in the middle of Summer here with lots of fruit in the shops (well, what's left after we've exported it all to Tescos and the like....)
we made this -



And it was just as delicious as it looks - so much so that DH made another one 2 days later!

On the home front (literally), my army-loving youngest boy is having to make a model dog kennel for a school project so we got busy with the paper mache yesterday .......



There was much squidging and squelching (are there such words?) with the wallpaper paste and altho he seemed a little reluctant at first with the stickiness of it all, once he got stuck in (literally) there was no stopping him. Once it's dry, painted and suitably decorated I shall include pics in a future post. I don't know who had more fun tho, him or me!

On the needles at the moment are socks (as always) and I'm steaming ahead on the Magic Loop! So much easier than DPNs and you don't get those terrible ladders when you jump from one needle to the next! If you haven't tried Magic Loop then give it a go (just Google "Magic Loop" cos there are loads of video tutorials).

I'm also making a couple of gifts so I can't show you too much at the moment ....
there's this ....


together with this ....


and this .... isn't this blue heavenly?


But more about those another time.
In the meanwhile I leave you with my basket of beautiful stash yarn in the sunshine .....



Til soon.
xxx












Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cables, Frogging And In The Round...

Sometimes, things just don't work out as planned. The cake flops for no apparent reason. The car won't start. The dinner party you had prepared for weeks results in two of your guests being struck down with food poisoning - no, this has never happened to me (she lied)......

The same sometimes occurs with knitting. Not often, but sometimes. January 2014 has been one of those 'sometimes' for me. Let me explain.

At the end of last year I ordered this book.....


Now for those of you that have never heard of Amy Herzog, do yourself a favour and go check out her website http://www.amyherzogdesigns.com/. Have a roam around and I think you'll agree that her designs are fab and her CustomFit software truly awesome. I digress....

This particular book is crammed full of amazing patterns but more importantly, her ideas about Fit to Flatter are both welcome and unique. It basically entails working out your true shape and knitting designs that both flatter it and fit you properly. How many of us have knitted sweaters that look great on the pattern only to be hugely disappointed because the arms are too baggy/tight, the neckline too high/low or the whole ensemble just makes you look like a sack of spuds! Amy to the rescue!

I chose to make this -


Simple, classic and cabley (my word meaning full of gorgeous cables)! I had some green-based self patterning yarn and I set to work.



I made the ENTIRE jersey. I was thrilled. Admittedly, it looked a little skinny but hey, that's cables for you. I convinced myself that once I had sewn it up, given it a quick wash and blocked it, all would be well ... 

It was not to be. I sewed up one sleeve and knew straight away that things were NOT going to work out as planned. I sewed up the shoulders and put it over my head. My head did go through the neckline but it was tight ... in fact, very tight. Once the back and front were hanging down over my torso it became obvious (even to a blind man) that there was no way in this life, in my next life or even in a previous life when I was actually an ant, that this sweater was EVER going to fit me. No amount of washing, blocking, praying or tribal dancing would make it happen. It just wasn't going to work. No. Never. Nada.

So I frogged the whole thing. For those of you that don't know what frogging is well, it's the subtle art of (a) admitting that as a knitter you've made a humungus mistake, (b) that you've wasted valuable hours of your life constructing something that with every stitch, a little voice in your brain was saying "It's too small! It's too friggin' small!!!!" and (c) confessing that with middle age you've grown slightly and are no longer a 34 ... or even a 36 ... I took a deep breath, admitted all of the above and unpicked like a demon.

Then I turned my back on Amy (I know it's not her fault but hey, sometimes you just need to blame someone else) and picked a new pattern. I chose this -


Like it? I do. It's Gabbro by Carol Feller (another inspirational designer) and although it's a very simple design, the detail is beautiful. See the cut-outs on the neckline and down the sides? If you can't quite make them out, go to the Ravelry link here and have a look at the pics. Stunning.


Not only is this a lovely design, but it's also going to involve a couple of new skills for me, not least knitting the sleeves on DPNs or using Magic Loop. With my sock experiments I think I've almost mastered DPNs so now it's the turn of Magic Loop. I'm quite looking forward to it but know that I'll need a peaceful hour or five, my laptop, plenty of strong coffee and permission from my conscience to swear out loud when it goes wrong...... But then again, what is life without a challenge?

This design is knitted from the top down and although the neckline is done on two needles, after that you switch to a circular needle which means VERY LITTLE SEWING UP AT THE END!!!! Yay for circulars!

I started this yesterday and have already charged ahead......


Can you see the neckline, the cut-outs and sleeve shaping? This is what I love about top-down knitting - you can see the sweater literally growing out of the needles! I've already slipped it over my head to check the fit and it's perfect! The shoulders sit where they should and all is well in my little world once again!

I shall return to Amy's design during the course of the year and this time I will knit the version not for the size I wish I still was, but rather for the size that I really am....... although I may well lose weight by then ....... and then again, maybe I won't ......

Til soon.
x











Saturday, January 11, 2014

Kim Hargreaves

Hello .......
For those of you that follow knitwear designers the name Kim Hargreaves will not be new to you. She is (in my humble opinion) an amazing designer and comes up with designs that are both unique and very wearable - definitely my kind of garments.
If you'd like to know more about Kim, click here.

A while ago I ordered one of Kim's knitting pattern books.
Now I'm not a great fan of knitting books as although I love looking through them, they do tend to be expensive and there is usually only one or two patterns that I would ever make.
However, this one was different.
As I scrolled through it on the internet (or the interweb as my 73 year old mom calls it!) I was finding myself saying things like "I'd make that" and "I could wear that with jeans"......
That's when I know that I need to buy the book.
It arrived today and is as glorious in print as it was on the interweb (sorry but I just can't stop using that word) ......
It's called Spirit .......


Can you see the writing down on the bottom right-hand side? Guess what it says?


21 designs!!!! Now that has GOT to be good value for money!
I thought I'd show you my favourites. I know I'll make all these at some point.....
within the next 2 years ....
or 12 months .....
or 6 months .......

First up is this one called Poise. It's so elegant with it's mix of rib and cables.
I love the neckline and I also love the way it's fitted.
I used to hate fitted sweaters but I'm realising now (thanks largely to What Not To Wear) that "big and baggy" (or "comfortable" as I used to call it) simply makes me look bigger than I really am!
We all have curves so why not show them off!!!!


Next is a cheeky little number called Peek. It's lacy and a little bit see through but with our climate here in South Africa, something that will let the cool air through is often much appreciated!


Then we have Bold. Great for Winter days with a pair of jeans and boots. Very striking. Knitted here in petrol blue and white but I'm thinking of two shades of grey.....


Moving on to Moni which is a classic shape and could be worn with almost anything (always useful)! I'm seeing this in a berry red which is one of my strongest colours.


Don't you love the collar?


Finally we get to my absolute bestest favourite .... Ease. Feast your eyes on this.


I love everything about this design. The shawl collar, the double breasted front, the moss stitch welts and cuffs and especially the colour. Dirty, sludgy, autumn/winter colours are my palette and this deep mushroom ticks all the right boxes for me.

Here's a couple of close ups ....



♥ ♥ ♥ LOVE, LOVE, LOVE ♥ ♥ ♥

So that's my little bit of eye candy for the day.
And just when I thought that my choices for my 12 in 12 Challenge had been made ...... Ho Hum.

Til soon.
xxx







Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sock adventures....

I've been busy today. Knitting. Knitting socks. I know I've made socks before but they were 2 needle socks not real knitted socks....

I've always wanted to master the art of knitting socks on dpns (double pointed needles) but have never managed to master the art of handing 4 needles all at the same time. Until today. Here's the proof.....

 


 

 
Excuse the obvious ladder running up the front!!! I need to perfect my skills at joining between needles but apart from that, I'm really pleased with how it all turned out.
 
A proper 'turned heel' .... did you see it? Did you? Did you?
 
 
I'm so chuffed. A day well spent learning a new skill. I have lots of socks planned now but first I have to go shopping for sock wool........ such a chore......

Til soon.
xxx