Do not plan for ventures before finishing what is at hand.

So turns out this Euripides fella knows what he’s talking about, and I probably should take heed. Because this is my current list of Unfinished Objects (UFOs). They will be finished, I promise. The when is the issue. The when is always the issue. I thought I’d share them with you!

1. The Elisalex dress by ByHandLondon

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Am so close with this one – just the lining and the hem to do. So why haven’t I done it? I literally am unable to answer that question.

2. Socks.

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I can 100% tell you why these haven’t been finished. Am 98% sure that these will fit precisely 0% of people. Maths.

3. The Violet blouse by Collette

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All cut out and ready to go – I just need a good stretch of time to get on with it. I think it will be a quick sew. You know, once I start to actually sew.

4. Finlay Fox.

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Is he even called Finlay? He looks like a Finlay. Well he will, when he’s stuffed. And has eyes. And isn’t in pieces on my coffee table.

Poor Finlay.

5. Sweater.

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To be fair, I have only just started this. Which means it might be ready by – I dunno – next Winter? I probs won’t even like teal then.

So what’s on your unfinished pile? And are yours strewn all over your flat like mine?

Today’s quote is from Euripides.

Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.

Yesterday afternoon I went to my first ever Knitting and Stitching Show, in Alexandra Palace.

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Wowsers was this a big event. I thought I would share a few tips if you’re planning to go, either to Ally Pally or at one of the other events around the country.

1. Book in advance.

I only really decided to go a couple of days ahead of time, so I missed out on any special offers or coupons or money off offers that were going around. As I could go on the Thursday afternoon (Thursdays are open late, till 7 – all other days, they close at 5pm), I got a cheaper “late entry” ticket at 8 pounds, which is half of the usual entry fee, and totally worth it. I had a good couple of hours of wandering around, and it was quieter than it would be on the weekend (Saturday tickets sold out at some point last week I think – so I can’t imagine how busy that would be!)

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How cute is this little blue-tit?

2. Book workshops if you can.

I didn’t – as I said, I wasn’t organised enough and so didn’t book into any workshops. This is a real shame, as I think that’s where the real value of the event lies. Next year I will definitely get myself organised and get a couple of workshops in the diary.

3. Wear flat shoes.

A lot of walking. A lot. Trainers are a must.

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Knitted love-birds, guys. KNITTED LOVE-BIRDS.

4. Wear layers!

Because of our crappy weather I was wearing a massive raincoat (to be honest, I love my big yellow raincoat, so I have been wearing it even when the sun is shining, but I digress), and by the end of my visit I was sweltering. Yes, I could have taken it off, but I am a bear of small brain. Also – HYDRATE. Poor yarn decisions are made when under-watered. It’s a well known fact.

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Ok so this may be one too many pictures of knitted birds.

5. Plan ahead, and know what you want to buy

I tried to do this, I really did. I had notes and everything, on what I needed, and how much. But when I got there, it kind of all went a bit wrong and – ooh shiny!

I didn’t buy anything I don’t have a plan for, so I wasn’t too bad – but there’s still a list of things I need, and it just means my to-do list is only getting bigger.

6. Get a map

Yeah, yeah like anybody needs telling to get a map. Turns out I do. I told you I was a bear of small brain, right? The list of London exhibitors is here, if you want to be really smart.

Anyway. Don’t make the same mistakes I made – but even if you do, you’ll have a great time.

So, you want to know what I bought, right? Prepare yourself for some poorly lit photos (it was a long day). Ready? Ready.

First off: 3 magazines for a tenner from the Practical Publishing stall – two sewing (with patterns) and one knitting. Have already made a start on the cute little fox that came with Knit Now.

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Oh you like your blog photos blurry AND badly lit? Well you’ve come to the right place my friend – take a seat, rest your feet.

Bargain, right? I think so.

Then I focused on getting my yarn supplies. I first hunted down the huge piles of yarn from the Black Sheep Wool stall – I’ve bought from them online a couple of times, and it’s a great range and a very speedy service. Although I do think you need to squeeze a few balls before you commit to buying, amirite ladies.

I bought 10 balls of this lovely lovely Sirdar Click yarn for £16 instead of RRP £32. The only plan I have for this is to get nekkid and wrap myself up in it’s soft squeezy loveliness  make unidentified (as yet) Christmas presents*.

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This is possibly the most sinister photograph of a ball of yarn ever taken.

You can’t really see the detail of the colour in that photo, so lucky for you…

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…I took an even worse photo! I assume the colour is discontinued, and that’s why it was so cheap. It’s a lovely soft grey with speckles and will make a great scarf. Did I mention that it’s lovely? It’s totally lovely, guys.

I should stop there before I embarrass myself further, but I’m kind of committed to this now, so.

Next stop on the yarn trail was a pattern and two (massive) balls of Rustic Aran yarn from James C. Brett. This cardigan is going to be SNUGGLY. Pity it’ll be mid-summer by the time I finish it. Together this all came to £21, and I have no idea whether this is reasonable or not because I forgot to hydrate.

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I then bought three fabrics. A lovely spotty cotton poplin from Abakhan (£4.99/m) and then a cotton lawn (£6/m) and some grey wool (£9/m) from M. Rosenberg & Son.

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I can only apologise for these photos.

The poplin and lawn will be blouses/shirts, and the wool is going to be a shift dress (I have a new job and gleefully declared that I would make myself a dress to celebrate. I may have been drunk. Or dehydrated. Possibly both)

So there you have it! That’s my take-home from the 2014 Knitting and Stitching Show. Main lesson learned – I need to take better photos of my stash.

How did you find it, and what did you buy?

Today’s quote is from Elizabeth Zimmerman, knitter-extraordinaire.

Winter is coming.

Bit of a dramatic title for a blog entry about knitting, but I do like an entrance.

I have two different knitting projects to share with you today – one for a grown-up, and one for a teeny tiny baby.

Let’s start with the baby. My friend recently had a little boy – very little, as he was born a massive three months early – and to celebrate his arrival I made some cute little booties and a matching hat from free patterns on ravelry.

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The booties are the Mary Jane booties by Lucy Sinkler. They were very easy to knit up, using garter stitch, and knit flat. I got the little yellow buttons from John Lewis, and the yarn is a My First Regia. I actually started to knit this up before the baby came and I knew the sex, as I thought the purple running through the yarn would be more obvious, and the finished booties would be less blue. But no matter, the baby blue has worked out fine!

And there was enough yarn left over to knit up a hat – it wasn’t in the original plan, but I think the matching set will look lovely when he’s able to be out and about and wearing clothes. The hat pattern is the Eyelet baby hat by Marianna’s Lazy Daisy Days which is super quick to knit up, and taught me a new stitch – the PSSO (Pass Slipped Stitch Over) to create holes in the hat. I actually had to make this twice – this shows how fast it was to knit – the first time I mis-understood the PSSO stitch. The pattern says S1 K1 PSSO, and for some reason I decided that PSSO meant S1 K1 THEN pass the slipped stitch over. So basically I was doubling the slipped and knit stitches. Bear has a small brain. I didn’t realise until the very end, despite the fact that the count never worked at the end of the row… And THEN, it that wasn’t enough, when it came time to sew it up, it started to unravel. Not cool, dude.

But the second time around, it all worked ok and I think it looks so cute!

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Bit of a blurry photo, but you get the idea!

And then onto the adults. Basically I had 4 balls of yarn left over from my throw so I decided to use up my stash and make a matching hat and scarf combo. Nothing much to say about either of them – the scarf is knit up in stocking stitch – using 3 balls – and the hat is ribbed all the way up (knit in the round) with a pompom on top – from the book Learn to Knit, Love to Knit – and this used up the final ball.

These simple knits don’t really need four pictures but we had so much fun taking them, with Maeby wanting a piece of the action, I thought I’d share a few with you! I apologise for the poseur photo at the end, not sure what I was doing.

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Everyone loves a pompom

Today’s quote is – well, if you don’t know, where have you been?

To-do list 6: I like to hear a storm at night. It is so cosy to snuggle down among the blankets and feel that it can’t get at you.

So, getting on for 6 months after moving into our flat, I finally finished the cable-throw-of-a-thousand-deadlines (“I’ll get it done before we move home”, I said, “I’ll finish it for Christmas”, I vowed…)

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This was my first attempt at cabling, and I was very surprised at how straightforward it was. To cable, all you need is a cable needle, which is a small knitting needle with a bend in it. When you get to the point in your pattern where the cable starts, simply slip the required number of stitches onto the cable needle. Then either move them to the front of your needles when you carry on knitting the rest of your stitches (a left cross cable), or move them to the back of the needles (a right cross cable) – the direction will be clear in the pattern.

The two different directions of cable.

The pattern I used was the Lion Brand cable comfort throw pattern – available free from their website, all you need to do is register. The throw is knit on 9mm needles in five long panels, then sewn together – which means you don’t have to worry about lugging around a huge throw every time you want to get out your knitting. It’s a great pattern for people who are new to cabling as it’s knit on big chunky wool, so you can see what your doing. I don’t think you can get Lion Brand yarn easily in the UK, so instead I used Hayfield Super Chunky yarn, which is so easy to work with and feels really cosy in the finished throw. It’s 80% acrylic and 20% wool, so it’s machine-washable too.

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So here it is!

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It seems to be a big hit with Maeby too – as soon as it was finished and on the back of the sofa she lept up and tried to get her claws into it, before finally settling down to sleep. Sorry Maeby, you’re going to have to share this with me…

Proof of cosiness.

Proof of cosiness.

Today’s quote is from L. M. Montgomery

To do list 5: On the other hand, you have different fingers

Oh dear, I seem to be slowing down on completing my crafty to-do list. However, I finally got around to finishing the three pairs of fingerless gloves I’d planned for my three closest friends for Christmas. Luckily for me the first chance we had to all get together was at the end of January, which gave me some much needed bonus time on the needles. But hey, better late than never, right?

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The fingerless gloves in all their glory. Spot the deliberate mistakes.

I got the pattern from a book my sister got me for last year’s birthday (I feel bad, she didn’t get a pair herself) – and knitted the gloves up pretty quickly (my issue was with picking up the needles to knit, not the knitting itself)using some dk wool from John Lewis. Three balls in 3 different colours were enough to make 2 pairs of gloves – in fact I think there would be enough to make 2 pairs with to balls of yarn, as long as you swap around the colour contrasts.

This is how they’re meant to look.

It’s a really straightforward pattern – the two ends are in 2×2 rib, and it’s a simple stocking stitch for around 15cm in the middle. It’s knit flat, then sewn together with mattress stitch. You probably can’t tell from the pictures, but only one of those pairs went to plan – I sewed up one of the purple pair inside out so now the seam is on the outside, and the blue pair I somehow managed to knit upside down. Ah well. My friends seem pretty happy with them!

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So back to the to-do list. What shall I tackle next?

Today’s quote is from Steven Wright.

To do list 4: There’s really nothing quite as sweet as tiny little baby feet

The to-do list goes on. Slowly slowly. Although I’m adding to it quicker than I’m completing things, I am still working away at the things on there!

Baby booties. Acting as cutesy ornaments until baby arrives...

Baby booties. Acting as cutesy ornaments until baby arrives…

My most recent completed project were these adorable baby booties. Originally meant for a friend who is due in February – but I since found out that another friend is due sooner – any day now I think – and so the to-do list simultaneously decreased and increased by one.

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Apologies for the rubbish photo. I finished these late at night, the night before flying to Hong Kong for Christmas, so didn’t get a chance to take any better photos!

I used this free pattern from Ravelry – I wanted something straightforward, as I find knitting on small needles so tricksy (am all fingers and thumbs, and a frequent dropper of stitches), and also knitted on straight needles – so I could use what supplies I already had. I got the wool from John Lewis – My First Regia (picture below), which cost less than two pounds for a 25g ball, and was really easy to work with. I used less than one ball, and I reckon I could squeeze another pair of booties out of what’s left. Although of course I got over excited in John Lewis haberdashery, and bought two balls.

The second ball of yarn, ready for more booties.

The second ball of yarn, ready for more booties.

  I’m quite pleased with how they turned out. The pattern is really straightforward, and it doesn’t take long for it to start to come together and look like something suitable for tiny feet. I had to learn one new stitch – ssk, or slip slip knit* – but other than that, it was pretty easy. I really like the ribbons as a tie, too. Let’s hope the bump likes them too!

Big foot, little foot.

Big foot, little foot.

* ssk is a way of decreasing when knitting. To do this, slip two stitches knitwise, one at a time, on to your righthand needle. Then insert the lefthand needle through the front of these two slipped stitches. Pull the yarn up and over the righthand needle, then pull it through – and so knitting these two stitches together. The lionbrand website has a good picture of this stitch here – always better than trying to describe it with words!

To do list 3: As you walk down the fairway of life, you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.

Well, I’m flying through this to-do list now. Nothing to do with the fact that everything I’ve now finished, I had already started (to various degrees) before I wrote the list.

Is that cheating?

This latest project was a cross-stitch kit that came free with issue 30 of Mollie Makes. A very pretty pattern, which I was originally intending as a gift, but then someone somehow managed to get strawberry juice all over it, just minutes after I’d finished it. I’m not going to lie, there were tears before bedtime. I’m not a calm crafter.

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We managed to get most of the juice out and I think you can barely see the stain. But I don’t think it’s suitable for a present now… The frame, I covered with some washi tape that my boyfriend had got me in Hong Kong last time he was there. I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out, and can’t wait to get it up in our new home!

Oh, and I’ve made start on the throw. Still a long way to go but look:

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Quite chuffed with that! Only about 39 more like that, and I’ll be done…

Today’s quote is from Ben Hogan.

To-do List 1: Let them eat brioche

I finally finished the first thing on my to-do list – the scarf – and it looks like the weather has changed to Autumn just at the right time! I made this from some yarn I picked up in a little shop in Dunblane (near Andy Murray’s gold postbox!) whilst on my holiday in Scotland.

The shop was closing down and was selling off balls of this lovely Rico Creative Liesl yarn for 2 balls for a tenner, instead of £13.99 for a single ball! So, despite not having a plan, I bought 2 balls in a lovely maroon colour, with a bit of sparkle running through – as a Yorkshirewoman, I can never let a bargain pass me by. Of course, I’m now kicking myself for not buying more, but there was literally no room in my suitcase for anything else.

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I basically just wanted to recreate the design on the picture on the packaging, which was a brioche stitch scarf. It took me several goes with different sets of instructions before  I could get going with this. I’m not sure why I struggled so much with the stitch, as once I got going, it really is a simple stitch to use. I finally found a pattern that made sense to me on Ravelry, for a brioche stitch infinity scarf – although I’ve left the ends loose for a normal scarf instead of joining them together. You might also see from the pictures that there is a slightly different pattern at each end – this is basically because I made a mistake for a couple of rows (bringing the yarn to the front of the knitting in the Yarn Over, instead of leaving it at the back), and decided to just recreate this error at the other end instead of unpicking it all and starting over (for the 5th time!). I’m going to give this away as a gift – packing for my move has uncovered an embarrassingly large stash of scarves, so I certainly don’t need any more – but I’m not sure who to yet.

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(Not sure why I look so annoyed in this photo!)

To make this I used 1 and a quarter 200g balls of Rico Creative Liesl yarn, although according to the website you can use just one ball – I guess I like my scarves extra chunky…

Cast on an even number of stitches to the width you want your scarf to be (I did 24 stitches)

Row 1: *Yarn over, Slip 1 purl wise,  Knit 1* Repeat *_* to end

Row 2: *Yarn over, Slip 1 purl wise, Knit 2 together* Repeat *_* to end

Repeat Row 2 until you are happy with the length of the scarf.

I’ve now got 3/4 of a ball leftover. I would plan to make a matching hat, but that would mean my to-do list will never be completed!

Today’s quote is from Marie Antoinette