Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

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 (4KCBWDAY4): A Skein of Many Colours

boxofchocolates

It was red and yellow and pink and green and, well, mostly red, right?

Day Four (Thursday April 25th): Colour Review
What are your favourite colours for knitted or crocheted projects. Have a think about what colours you seem to favour when yarn shopping and crafting.

Only after writing this part of your post should you then actually look to see what colours you have used in your projects. Make a quick tally of what colours you have used in your projects over the past year and compare it to the colours you have written about. Compare this, in turn, to the colours that are most dominant in your yarn stash – do they correlate?

Now think back to your house animal – do the colours you have chosen relate to your animal in anyway – if you are in the house of peacock, for example, are your projects often multicoloured and bright?

What seemed, at first, to be a straightforward topic for today’s post, quickly led me down a rabbit warren of yarn-based navel gazing. As those of you who know me well or have followed this week’s posts so far will have no doubt ascertained, I am more of a ‘use The Force’ kind of girl as opposed to strategic planner when it comes to both yarn acquisition and project selection. It would seem, therefore, sensible to break it down into smaller, bite sized chunks under the headings of, “what I think I like” versus “the cold, hard reality.” Now, I am aware that cold, hard reality is not something we often like to bring into our crafting, but sometimes we need the truth, even if we can’t handle the truth!

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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 (4KCBWDay2): The Beekeeper and the Bumblebee

beekeeper ornament

Image Details: ‘beekeeper ornament’ by mrwalter, via Flickr.

Day Two (Tuesday April 23rd): A Mascot Project.
Your task today is to either think of or research a project that embodies that house/animal. It could be a knitting or crochet pattern – either of the animal itself or something that makes you think of the qualities of that house.

I would really like to say that, when choosing a project, I go through a structured and logical estimation process, whereby I decide on the optimal item and yarn to go with it, taking into account all essential and hopefully some desirable criteria too. Ok, ok, you can stop snorting now! I do none of the above. My Ravelry queue is, quite frankly, a joke to be ignored. My stash isn’t all stashed, so I end up having to go diving to see what is in there. I queue and favourite patterns on a whim, only to return and remove them from the queue a couple of months down the line.

I never do this fabled thing, where I organize patterns and yarn into a little bag ready to be knit. I have heard of it happening, but never in my house I am afraid. That is because I see stash as more of a living being. It exudes forces which can shape and change the way you think about your craft and indeed its own destiny. Something that might have even been bought for one project has the ability to subvert your will to whatever it wants to be, in the end. I liken it to some of the fundamental laws of physics and firmly believe that if you try and organize your stash too much, it will fight back and disorganise itself. So, I just let it mingle around in a couple of plastic lidded tubs to do its own thing and cook up whatever mischief it likes. It’s the safest way all round.

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Episode 9: The Enemy Within

Funky fur rhino-lion dog, anyone?

Funky fur rhino-lion dog, anyone?

Listen here

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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Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013

Writing Apparatus

Image Details: “Writing Apparatus” by Kazarelth, via Flickr.

The 4th annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is coming up next month, between the 22nd and 28th April. This is run by Mimi of the Eskimimimakes Blog, and involves Knitting and Crochet bloggers taking part in a week-long series of blogs, one per day, on a specific theme. The themes for this year are due to be released tomorrow, so if the idea of doing a post a day is a bit daunting, you can write some in advance and schedule them to post automatically on the given day. This is also good if you are expecting to be away or busy during that week.

KCBW2013

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Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

This week (23-29 April 2012) is the third annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, run by Eskimimi Makes. The aim of the week is to blog every day on a variety of different topics, and by including a specific tag, you can find everyone else who is taking part via the all encompassing power that is Google search.

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