handmade

Episode 25: Choose Your Weapon! How to Choose Needles for Sock Knitting

I heart ChiaoGoo.

I heart ChiaoGoo.

Following on from the last episode, where we welcomed Clare Devine to talk about how to choose yarn for knitting socks, this episode sees us explore the next big life knitting question: which needles? Starting off the episode is a little bit of chat about recent travels, then there is a review of Msanzi: South Africa on my Needles from Sally Cameron. We have a giveaway from a fab new indie dyer, Coach House Yarns, before we get into all things needle related.

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Episode 24: Choosing Yarn for Socks with Clare Devine

Sock blockers with Elgin socks!

Sock blockers with Elgin socks!

Image used with permission of Clare Devine.

Hello and welcome to Episode 24 of the podcast. This week we will be mostly learning a lot about how to choose yarn for socks with Clare Devine.

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Episode 18: The First Step is Admitting You Have A Problem

Untitled

Image Details: ‘Untitled’ by rottnapples, via Flickr.

Hello and welcome to episode 18 of the podcast. The first step is indeed admitting you have a problem, when it comes to solving the mother of all knitting funks, it would seem!

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Shinybees in The Knitter Magazine

The Knitter Podcast

That’s right! The podcast was recommended in the latest issue of The Knitter. It was a pleasant surprise; I bought the magazine today to get my copy of the sock heel masterclass article by Clare Devine. I spotted the mention as I was flicking through the rest of the magazine, prior to sitting down for detailed reading.

Along with Clare’s brilliant article, there were some lovely sock patterns in this issue in a separate booklet. There is also a great article on visiting Shetland, which is on our to-do list for this summer, so should come in very handy.

If you would like a quick preview of what is in this issue, you can see it on the preview video on YouTube here.

Episode 15: Swans, Clowns and Unicorns

Unicorn x Piccolo Latte

Image Details: “Unicorn x Piccolo Latte” by Jonathan Lin, via Flickr.

Hello and welcome to Episode 15 of the podcast.

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Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 (4KCBWDAY7): Back to the Future.

Delorean

Image Details: ‘Delorean’ by The Plate Market, via Flickr.

Day Seven (Sunday April 28th): Looking Forward
One year from now, when the 5th Knitting & Crochet Blog Week rolls around, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?

Last year I set myself several things I would like to learn in the coming year, as part of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012. I decided, whilst writing this post, that it would be fun to look back and see if I had managed to achieve any of them. I do feel like I have progressed in my knitting ability during the past year and have attempted projects with wild abandon, without any regard to how difficult they were going to be. I must also confess though, that I have not looked back at those goals set last year until now. So, what did I plan to learn?

1) Fair Isle
2) Adult size jumper, for me
3) Dye some yarn
4) Handspin yarn for a project
5) Learn to do TAAT socks

How did I do?

1) Fair Isle: Epic fail. Didn’t even try any.

2) Adult size jumper, for me: Cast on Owls by Kate Davies, decided that expanding pregnant frame not suited to form fitting jumper of previous size and elected to leave it until after eviction of the little squatter. Left the project in the UK after Christmas as I needed the luggage space for baby paraphernalia.

3) Dye some yarn: Thought about it, read about it, didn’t do it. I planned to attend a yarn dyeing course with Carlé from Nurturing Fibres, however the course unfortunately did not run in the end.

4) Handspin yarn for a project: I haven’t touched the wheel in a while. I really need to start using it as I can’t really justify it’s current existence as a rather beautiful ornament. I think possibly aiming for 10 minutes a day might be the way forward for this.

5) Learn to do Two At A Time socks: Epic fail. Didn’t even try it. Did do a couple more pairs on the old DPNs though.

I found that in typical Bee-like fashion, I got distracted by other projects, such as doing a podcast! I also found that, by having such a wide scope on the goals, I didn’t actually get there because they weren’t broken down into small enough, specific steps. I have therefore decided to slim down this year’s goals to just one and I have already chosen which project I am going to do and when I will start it. If it is finished in time, I may then move on to the other two reserve projects. This way, I have a much more specific path in mind, so it is harder to become distracted from the goal. I am also going to blog about these projects once per week such that you can all keep me on track.

White and Colourful by Suuf.  Image used with kind permission of Suuf, All Rights Reserved.

White and Colourful by Suuf. Image used with kind permission of Suuf, All Rights Reserved.

1) Fair Isle. I am going to complete the White and Colourful hat and mittens project, written by Suuf on Ravelry. She kindly sent me the charts for her self-designed/adapted project, and I intend to start this in August when we return to the UK and finish it by Christmas. This will give me time to clear down my ongoing wips in order to concentrate better on this project.

2) Adult size jumper for me. I am going to get the Owls out of hibernation when I return in August and work on this when I am not in the right frame of mind for Fair Isle! The plan is to finish this before next year’s KCBW.

Box of Chocolates

Box of Chocolates

3) Two At A Time socks. I have the Box of Chocolates yarn and I am going to do Carlé’s Vanilla Sock pattern on Ravelry. As I have it with me now, so should I finish my ongoing wips, I will allow myself to cast them on.

What are your crafty goals for the coming year?

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4KCBWDAY7

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 (4KCBWDAY6): Covet Thy Neighbour’s Knitting Stuff

I heart ChiaoGoo.

I heart ChiaoGoo.

Day Six (Saturday April 27th): A Tool To Covet

Write about your favourite knitting or crochet (or spinning, etc) tool. It can either be a tool directly involved in your craft (knitting needles or crochet hook) or something that makes your craft more pleasurable – be it a special lamp, or stitch markers.

Is it an item that you would recommend to others, and if so for which applications/tasks do you think it is most suited. Conversely, do you have a tool/accessory that you regret buying? Why does it not work for you?

Today’s post was the one that jumped straight out at me as I read the topics for this year’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.  A lifelong aficionado of vintage Granny needles of the kind you can easily pick up for 20p a pair at a charity shop, I have recently started to make the move towards more expensive tools. This was through necessity, rather than a dislike for my retro equipment. It is very difficult to pick up circular needles of the length required to knit shawls. It was a simple as that, really. So, as it was Christmas soon, I requested a set of KnitPro interchangeables. More on these later. I have, recently, however, fallen totally in love with ChiaoGoo needles.

chiaogoo needle
ChiaoGoo apparently means “Crafty Lady”. Not sure how the famous male knitters feel about that, but hey-ho. I have only 2 pairs at the moment, as I wanted to try them before committing to the whole set. I have to say they are brilliant: the cables have no memory and are a rather fetching shade of shiny red; the needles points are lovely and sharp and slide nicely over each other when knitting; and the size is etched onto the needles, which means that so far, it has remained completely intact.

Kaleidoscopic!

Kaleidoscopic!

Contrasting this with the Knitpro interchangeables, I have to say they were a little disappointing, given the good things I had heard about them prior to buying. I suppose you could say they were good value at £49.99 for a set with 8 sizes of points in, however I just felt that the finish was a bit lacking. The coloured wood is indeed very aesthetically pleasing, but the size rubs off the needle almost as soon as you take them out of the packet. Also, the needle points are not always the same, which I find quite upsetting. Then there is the issue of the cables, which need soaking in hot water to straighten them out a bit. Depending on how highly you value these things, this might not be a problem for you, but I am afraid it was for me. The final nail in the KnitPro coffin was the cable needles. They have very irritating grooves in them, which some people love, but I found to be a right pain as the yarn kept getting stuck in the gap, thus making them fiddly and slow to use.

The cable needle of Doom.

The cable needle of Doom.

I think I prefer steel needles over bamboo, and this means that the stainless steel ChiaoGoos are a delight to work with. I still go back to the vintage Aero needles every now and again for flat pieces of baby garments or squares for the Knit a Square project. I do enjoy using DPNs for socks, and the Knitpro sock needle set I have does suffer from the same problems that I found with the interchangeable set in terms of the size rubbing off and a disparity of sharpness between the points of the same set. Might be time to invest in the ChiaoGoo DPNs…

Only requires a comedic entendable metal aerial to look like some kind of Acme controller for setting off small nuclear devices.

Only requires a comedic extendable metal aerial to look like some kind of Acme controller for setting off small nuclear devices.

I have another tool that has been coveted by many readers of this blog, made for me by my talented, wonderful and handsome husband (no, he didn’t write that, but if he could have, I reckon he would have!) This is the UnnyCount. There is only one of them in the whole world and I have it, my friends. It might be large, but it definitely adds an air of authority to knitting projects. It could possibly set off tactical nuclear weapons should the need arise and would almost certainly not look out of place in the knitting bag of an evil henchman. You can read all about it here. And if electronics is your thing, you can read about the Cosmac ELF that dear husband made – and guest blogged about – here. He’s a pretty funny guy, but then I am biased.

Which of your tools will I be coveting today?

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4KCBWDAY6

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 (4KCBWDAY3): What’s Happening in the Hive?

Bee Hive Cake

Image Details: ‘Bee Hive Cake’ by Architekt2, via Flickr.

Day 3 of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, hosted by Eskimimimakes, is upon us. This has definitely been the hardest day for me so far, but then I suppose that is part of the point of taking part. It you do want to jump on the bandwagon a little late, you can find the details here.

Day Three (Wednesday April 24th): Infographic
There are many ways of conveying information on a blog; text and images being the two most widely used. Many infographics combine both these elements to provide a visual way of presenting text information.

Make your own infogaphic (no fancy imaging software needed, you can draw it on paper and photograph it if you want) to convey any element of your craft(s). It can be just for fun or a thoroughly researched presentation of an idea/finding.

I struggled with today’s post. I didn’t have anything I particularly wanted to infographic up, and felt a bit like I needed to do something ‘proper’ than just for fun. So, I sat last night and played around with some infographic makers, which were something new to me and I am sure they could be useful. And I fiddled and played and fiddled and played and my eyes went blurry as I minced around all the different makers, because I am a Bee after all. Then The Beast decided that it was time to scream the house down, complain of stomach ache in Afrikaans and then promptly vomited all over the bed. Cue a 3 hour clean up and go back to bed operation. Sigh.

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Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 (4KCBWDAY1): Be Never too Busy to Bee Shiny

bee

Image Details: “Bee” by BaileyWho?, via Flickr.

So, the first day of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is upon us, and I have sorted myself into the House of Bee. Not only because it has my entire blog and podcast name in the description, but also because it totally describes my attitude to crafting and projects in general.

The description is as follows, “The House of Bee: Bees are busy and industrious, but can flit from one interesting project to the next as bright and shiny things capture their interest.”

House of Bee

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Episode 9: The Enemy Within

Funky fur rhino-lion dog, anyone?

Funky fur rhino-lion dog, anyone?

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Intro

Hello and welcome to Episode 9 of the Shinybees Podcast. A bit of a mixed barrel with a slightly odd theme running through it: Star Trek! I am not a secret Trekkie, I don’t even know that much about it, but I have been subjected to The Original Series in the weeks since the last podcast in pretty much all of my free evening time, so it has somewhat permeated!

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