Monday, 28 April 2008

And the winners are....

Well, actually the big winner was me! I was overwhelmed by the number of entries and all of the fantastic advice. When I decided to do a contest I figured 40 entries was a good target. When the number of comments reached 50 I was astounded....and the advice kept coming and coming.

By this morning at 8am (the closing time) I'd received 131 comments or 129 entries (1 of the comments was an update, the other a duplicate). 129 entries!! Gadzooks! I had so many entries that I decided to introduce a 4th mini contest for regular commenters to even out everyone's chances.

I printed out the comments, cut them up, folded them so I couldn't see the names and then roped in the firm's head of audit (who also happens to be The Caked Crusader) to oversee the draw process.

The winners were randomly selected from this pile of entries.

First I drew the Squishy Yarn for All winner who was Catiebell. Catiebell is a first time commenter and her advice to remember to separate your reds from the rest of your laundry is one we've all probably needed (but not used) at least once.

The second draw was the Come Out of the Closet draw and Helenlam was the winner this time. Her advice to read the whole pattern before casting on is definitely solid -- I can't tell you how many times I've stopped reading a pattern before the critical words 'at the same time'. Much frogging and words a lady shouldn't say while knitting ensue.

I do have to big up the first time commenters here -- your comments were so kind and I'm amazed to find so many of you out there. I hope maybe now that you've broken the ice you might be tempted to comment from time to time -- but even if you don't thanks so much for dropping by!

Clarabelle was the winner of the impromptu draw (aka the I Need to Give Something Nice to One of my Regular Commenters so I'm Adding Another Contest draw). (Not the snappiest name but it'll do.) Clarabelle offered up a few pieces of advice (she's an over achiever), including a few words of wisdom from Mick Jagger about getting what I need even if I don't get what I want.

The final draw was Friends and Family and it embarasses me somewhat to include this photo of the HUGE number of Friends and Family entrants.


Anyway - from that select group I drew Shirl's entry. She had found a short BAFTA nominated film for me called Knitting a Love Song. It's a sweet little film about high school and the power of knitting and if you have 14 minutes I recommend a viewing. (You can view it via the above link or on Youtube.)

But wait there's more
....and if all of that wasn't enough I decided long ago that my 1000th commenter would get a prize. I hadn't actually expected to reach it this soon, but the crazy response to the contest took us racing towards that magic number and over the weekend Batty posted the 1000th comment. To celebrate I'll be sending her a little something as well.

If you lucky winners could send me an email: thingssoolikes at googlemail dot com with your postal address I'll get the squishy loot off to you as soon as possible.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

...and back to Knitting!

(If you haven't already entered my blog anniversary contest - what are you waiting for??? Go do it now!!)(Go - Go - you have to enter by Monday!)

Right, with that out of the way it's back to knitting.

Last week was not a good knitting week due to travel to the Middle East (Qatar specifically) and a freaky hand strain/injury thing which had me NOT KNITTING for 4 WHOLE days. 4! 2 of those were weekend days. Tragedy.

Anyway - I'm back at home, my hand is once again pain free and I have a bit of knitting to show for it.

First up is the Stormwater Shawl, in 2 skeins of 'Nova Scotia' Handmaiden SeaSilk. (I got mine as a lovely kit from Purlescence.)

This is a really simple pattern which I loved knitting. Once you've established the pattern very little concentration is required - which was exactly what I needed! (Work stuff is occupying most of my brain right now.)

Because it is knit from the handpainted SeaSilk you have to work from both skeins at once to avoid the dreaded 'slight but very noticeable' variation in colour. (As I learned last year with the Melon Shawl.)

The pattern suggests a clever way of knitting the pattern on a short circular needle so that you swap between the two yarns every row, rather than every two rows.

For example, if the scarf was plain stocking stitch you would cast on with both yarns together. Then:
Row 1: (Right Side) knit with yarn 1, at the end of the row do not turn your work. Instead slide it back along the needle so you are ready to start row 2 with yarn 2.
Row 2: (Right Side) knit with yarn 2, at the end of the row turn your work
Row 3: (Wrong Side) purl with yarn 1, at the end of the row do not turn your work. Instead slide it back along the needle so you are ready to start row 4 with yarn 2.
Row 4: (Wrong Side) purl with yarn 2, at the end of the row turn your work

....and repeat.

It's a nice way of getting single stripes of the two yarns, however, doing it that way meant I had to execue SSP's (slip, slip, purl) a lot, which annoyed me so I was lazy and did it the two rows yarn 1, two rows yarn 2.

As always the blocking process fascinates me. Here's the pre-blocked stole, ok, but nothing special. It's about 18 inches x 60 inches. A long soak and then a patient (ish) pinning session stretches out the stitches and really opens up the pattern.

Released from the pins -- and it's like a totally different piece of knitting!

Finished size is 24 inches x 74 inches.

Its a nice stole and more casual than most of the others I've made. Perfect for evening strolls by the sea in August. (I don't do evening strolls by the sea in August -- but if I did - this would be perfect.)

I finished my identical self striping socks. Opal yarn - have no idea what the colourway is called.

And on the flight to/from Qatar I worked on a pair of socks (Embossed Leaves from Favourite Socks) in a lovely green Socks that Rock yarn. These are my first Socks that Rock socks and I can confirm they do indeed rock.

Unfortunately though, I didn't have any of my 1000 measuring tapes with me on the flights and ....well....I think altitude affects my ability to judge the size of my feet.

(What? You still haven't entered my contest? Sheesh - for the last time - go!)

Monday, 21 April 2008

I'm Asking for Advice

No real knitting update today because - it's (sort of**) my 1 Year Blog Anniversary.

And one of the things I've learned in knitting blog land is that when it's your blog's anniversary you have a contest. So, I'm having a contest -- or 3 mini contests really!

Contest 1: Squishy Yarn for All is open to everyone, regular commenters, lurkers and people just wandering by alike.

The prize is 2 skeins Posh Yarn Cecilia laceweight (110gms about 1400 yards) in gorgeous green colours and a skein of Duet Sock Yarn (DK weight) in blues and purples (Duet Sock Yarn comes with a co-ordinating colour for heels and toes!)

Contest 2: Come Out of the Closet is my not so subtle attempt to lure lurkers out to comment at least once and so it is open to new commenters only. The prize for this contest is 2 skeins of Middle Earth Yarns sock yarn. Cairi dyes beautiful yarns which I've used for some of my favourite socks over the past year.

Contest 3: Friends and Family is open to people I know in real life only -- most of whom are non-knitters but dip into this blog occasionally. My mom is always telling me about aunts and cousins who have been looking at the blog. But apart from the Caked Crusader and a not so subtle (but ignored by me) hint from my sister for a Babette blanket none of my friends or family has been brave enough to leave a comment.

The prize for this contest is that I'll knit the winner (by the end of May) a scarf, or pair of socks, or small cardigan/shrug of their choice. NOTE (primarily directed at my sister): the choice of prize excludes Babette blankets, Lyra's and anything else I deem 'too big'. NOTE 2 (primarily directed at the Caked Crusader): yes, this would include Lemur Puppet jumpers.

No doubt by now you are all chomping at the bit to get a piece of the action. Well, entering is simple, and is the same for all contests: just give me some advice before next Monday morning 28 April - 8am British Summer Time.

The advice can be anything -- words of wisdom found in your last fortune cookie, a pattern you think I should be knitting, or some DVD's or audiobooks you think would be great for knitting, or.... well, whatever you think I need to know!

Leave your advice as a comment. (I expect I'll be able to categorise you all as regular commenters, lurkers or friends/family, but feel free to leave me a hint.)(And don't think that just because I have more cousins than I count that I won't be able to spot an impostor in the Friends and Family group!)

I'll randomly select the winners on Monday morning and let you know who the winners are by Monday afternoon.

Bring on the advice!!

** In a display of organisation and 'on top of things-edness' which make me the sought after professional I am, I managed to miss posting yesterday - which was the actual 1 year of anniversary of this experiment in online knit journalling.

Monday, 7 April 2008

I've Been Podcasted!

This morning WonderMike from Y Knit let me know that this here very blog was mentioned in their latest episode - Lace in Your Face. One of their guests (either Doug or Troy, I confess I didn't know which was speaking at the time)(but Doug (or Troy) - if you're out there today you are my favourite reader!) -- anyway, Doug (or Troy) kindly mentioned my blog as one he likes to visit. I'm still blushing.

The podcast was a great 33 minute diversion this morning -- and I would have said that even without the reference to me! Apart from Doug and Troy they also spoke to my latest crushes - Lew and Gene who are master knitters from the Lacy Knitters Guild. I defy you to listen to that section and not go - "aaaahhhh - how cute are they?".

And to prove that the world is powered by some sort of crazy synchronicity thing WonderMike and hizKnits closed the podcast with an homage to Public Enemy's 'Bring the Noize' called Lace for Boyz. Now the orginal is a track from the very same album Zane Lowe and I bonded over last week! Hip hop is alive and well in the world of knitting!

Naturally being me, after feeling ridiculously pleased, I started to worry. Sure Doug (or Troy) liked my blog so far - but what if it starts to become stale. What if I run out of things to say or (eeeek) knit? What if Doug (or Troy) think my next project sucks?

Luckily before I could sink into a pit of despair at disappointing my now favourite reader Doug (or Troy) the phone rang and I had to do some work.

Knitting wise, I'm still working on the self striping socks.

Just to prove I can I'm making these socks as matching socks.

So far so good.

I've also cast on the Faux Russian Stole from a Gathering of Lace using an amazing reddy - orange Claudia's Handpainted silk. I am not sure what makes the stole Russian, so I'm even less clear why it's Faux.

But it is.

The pattern is fairly straightforward so far, but hasn't really grabbed my interest. The yarn is crocking like a crazy crocking thing. (Crocking, I discovered last week, is what you call it when the dye from yarn rubs off onto your fingers, pattern pages or anything else it comes in contact with.)

The excessive crocking makes it look like you've been feasting on Cheesies (or Cheesy Wotsits for my UK friends) instead of knitting. It washes off as easily as Cheesie dust, but I confess it doesn't taste as good if you are tempted to lick it off your fingers.

PS to Opal -- the sock pattern in the last post is Waving Lace.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Still Reclaiming the Hipness of the Knit

A few of you (very few of you I suspect) may have been around last summer when I started a one woman campaign to 'Reclaim the Hipness of the Knit' which revolved around getting Zane Lowe to say the 'knit' word during his radio programme. (Zane presents a specialist music programme - generally new music - very hip and trendy.)(I think when Zane pictures his audience it's full of old-ish knitters.) Anyway - you'll recall my euphoria at successfully getting him to say 'knit' not once, but TWICE. Fast forward a few months to Zane's annual 'Masterpiece' season and -- I've made it to the website! (scroll down to the 'Your Masterpieces' section) (Tonight is the final night of the Masterpieces season - Guns 'n Roses Appetite for Destruction -- I guess I'll have to whip up a scarf for Axl Rose.)

And just to prove that I was indeed knitting while listening to Zane - here are the socks I completed on Tuesday while listening. (I confess they aren't for the members of Public Enemy, they are for my Mom.)(Who has never to my knowledge, rapped or indeed listened to what I suspect she'd call 'Hippity Hoppity' music.)

They are from Favourite Socks, made with Dream in Colour Smooshy yarn.

I like the pattern, easy to remember but fun to knit. It has a scalloped rib cuff, which is cute but I'm not sure the socks will stay up!!

A few days ago Batty posted pictures of some socks she had just finished and they reminded me how much I love self striping/patterning yarn. So last night while settling into The Apprentice (UK version) I cast these on. (And really, what was Alan Sugar thinking??? That has to be the biggest board room injustice EVER.)

Plain round and round knitting. Lovely.

And finally I present this disappointing scarf.

Last Thursday I went to check out iKnit's new location near Waterloo Station. It is way more convenient for me and I'm soooo pleased they made the move. The new shop is lovely and as welcoming and cosy as ever.

Anyway, while I was there I was tempted by two skeins of really lovely Tilli Thomas silk yarn pre-strung with beads. It looked so gorgeous I had to have some.

Not content with just having it - I wanted to make something that made the most of the sheen of the silk and sparkling beads.

I faffed around with quite a few lace patterns on the weekend and really struggled to find something that worked. (This was made more pleasant by 3 hours of David Tennant as Casanova. It was very funny, and DT was as charming as you'd expect.)

After many aborted attempts I ended up with this simple pattern. I crocheted a ruffle on each end and I'm totally underwhelmed by the finished object.


Lesson for the week:
Simple yarn - you have a million ways to make it special.
Special yarn - there is no where to go but down!!