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She's making a list. She's making another list.

I do like a good list. I may have gone a little overboard this December, however.

Just a small selection of the many lists that I have underway at the moment. It does make me laugh. I can also see, in my office, 8 sheets of paper all with a different list of some kind scribbled across them.

Luckily, I am managing to cross off a good few items every day. It's my attempt to get things rolling for Christmas around these parts and I do appear to be, perhaps not winning, but at least on schedule at the moment. Other than work, today's big item that I have to make a start on is Christmas cards. Every year I say I won't do them. Every year I realise that I (mostly) like to write a little note to people who I don't see very often or who I don't say nice words to often enough, so I always do send a good few out.

Of course, it's important to have such important list-writing activities supervised by special helpers...

Aren't they cute?! The pattern is Rudolph, That Reindeer by Judith Baser, who wrote it to help raise money for P/Hop in support of the work of Medecins Sans Frontiers. They are great fun to knit - I can easily get one finished while watching telly in the evening. I changed the pattern very slightly with a tiny pompom nose instead of the knitted version of the pattern, because, well, tiny pompom nose!



Yesterday, I locked myself out of my house and in order to get back in (this was after trying a lot of other options), my Father-in-Law smashed a pane of glass in the front door. What a complete twerp I am. Big fat massive FAIL.

In better news, Kate put more patterns from Colours of Shetland up on Ravelry yesterday, one of which is Northmavine, the stripy hoody cardigan that I fell completely and utterly in love with on my trip to Shetland in October. I was so smitten, in fact, that I cast on a sleeve as soon as the original pattern text arrived in the folder for the book. Yes, I took advantage of my position as book designer, I do confess. But come on. I'm only human. How was I supposed to resist?!

I'm using the same yarn as the pattern calls for, in different colours. I actually prefer the colours of Kate's original Northmavine, but as I have a nearly-complete (ahem, although I think it's going to be frogged - another tale for another day) cardigan that is in very very similar colours, I decided I should choose some others from the VAST number of options in the Jamieson & Smith yarn emporium.

My MC is 51, a grey that has a slight hint of lavender to it (it is in fact, the exact same shade as Coopknit Rachel's hair!);  CC1 is shade 43, a heathered plummy purple (which is used as the hem turn contrast shade); CC2 is shade 133 a deep reddish-magenta; CC3 is FC9 a light heathered blue-purple that up close is a mix of pale teal and purple; and finally, my utter favourite of these shades, CC4 is FC56, a glorious peacock mix of deep purples with flashes of greeny-blue. I'm going to use this as my 'trim' shade to finish off all the icord edges. I had a ball choosing the colours on my trip, with lots of help from JenAC, Rachel, Sarah and Charlie - thanks guys!

As there are four colours used in the stripes, it's not advisable to carry all four colours along, so apart from the MC, the other yarns are all broken for each stripe. The thought of quite so many ends to weave in once the hoody was finished made me feel a little faint if I'm honest, so I had a chat with my guru (AKA JenACKnitwear) and decided to try weaving the yarn ends as I knitted - it's working well so far I think.

I found some tutorials online - try the lovely Cotton and Cloud video on YouTube which shows how to weave in as you knit Fair Isle. Basically, about 5 or 6 stitches before the colour change, on the back of the work I  bring the new yarn up and over the working yarn, and then bring it back over and under on the next stitch as I knit those 5 or 6 stitches, leaving just a small end, and do the same with the previous colour once I change to the new colour. I'm hoping this will minimise the number of ends that I have to weave in at the end and so far seems to work well to hide the colour changes at the back. I'm sure that makes no sense - sorry! Google is your best bet if you want to find out how to do this.

(Oh, just a note, the different, smooth yarn coming through in the centre of the photo is my 'decrease counter' another top tip from JenAC, via Yarnharlot, to keep track of decreases - basically I have a length of contrasting yarn threaded on a needle and every time I decrease I pull it through to one side of the work, then through to the other side when I complete the next decrease - it helps a complete numpty like me to keep track!)

So far I have one sleeve pretty much at the correct length and I'm happy with my tension - I have to admit that I often start garments with a sleeve instead of knitting a special tension swatch. I just have to bear in mind that I might have to rip out the first 4 or 5 inches of work if the tension doesn't work out!


A book, a book - (nearly) an actual book!

The biggest news in these here parts is that Kate's book, Colours of Shetland, which I've been working on for the past month or so, is currently being printed - yesterday I hopped on over to watch the cover section on its first pass through the press. See?

Colours of Shetland cover sectionThe cover isn't behind bars, my iPhone just couldn't cope with the special daylight lamps that the printers use to check that the ink is behaving on the paper.

Another of the sections was also on press while I was there, so here's an action shot:
Colours of Shetland - Section 1 on press.The guys let me climb up on one of the Heidelberg presses to see the CMYK process inks as I was taking photos - they are properly big machines in a properly big industrial unit that's full of the hustle and bustle of a busy, deadline-filled, successful printing business.

One last shot from up on top of the press:

Heidelberg Press My worries about paper and colour, etc, etc have been (more or less) put to rest (not specifically for this book, I worry whenever I send anything to print, I've tried not to but I'm not gonna get over that issue, I think!). I'm so excited that this book will be available to order from Kate's online shop from next Monday 3rd December - it's been a complete joy to work on from beginning to end. So many things to KNIT!

I have already cast on one of the cardigans in the book (Kate is busy putting the pattern pages up on Ravelry all this week with lots of beautiful photos and all the yarn details) - I admit I couldn't wait after I came back from Shetland at the start of October. I'll share photos once Kate has put the design on Rav.

This is already getting a bit long isn't it?! oops - I must get in the habit of posting more regularly with shorter entries. So, on that note, I shall save the rest of this post for tomorrow - it will involve buttons, pompoms and hats. I know. ROCK AND ROLL!


TWO (yes, TWO, count 'em!)

I finished off two long-term knitty things yesterday (actually, it was the day before, but this blog post was delayed just a tad).

This pleases me greatly. Mostly because I can now cast on lots and lots of NEW stuff without feeling so guilty about the number of WIPs looking sad and forlorn...

I'll start with the oldest - a pair of stripy, garter-stitch mitts, with added happy-flappiness. I see from my Ravelry page that I started these in December 2011. oops. 11 months spent languishing, and it took me less than two hours to finish them, including weaving in all the ends and finding/attaching buttons. I truly am a loony for leaving these, not least because the yarn they are knitted in is an absolute joy to work with. (Posh Yarn Emily, sadly discontinued, a sport weight blend of cashmere, angora and wool that has the most squishy, rounded, plump and luscious stitch definition *ever*. Ever, ever.)

Here, see? Plump, I tells you.

Excuse me while I take a moment. They are SQUISHABLE!

Ahem. They have no pattern to link, as I just made things up as I went along. I knew that I wanted to use this yarn, in this combination, as a fabulous friend knitted me a gorgeous Scalene and I happened to have the same colours in my stash. They are matchy mitts. Well, kind of. I realised after the the first one that striping the top flap was a bit of a mistake, as when the flap is folded back, you can see the slightly untidy looking reverse garter stripes. So the second mitt has solid top and bottom with stripes in the middle - works far better! Anyhow, here are some (too many!) photos of my flappy, matchy mitts of snuggle....

Apologies for poor photo overkill - it's a dreary day and the lighting is not good.

That's probably more than enough photos of mitts for today, except I just can't help but give them a big thumbs up - they are going to keep my fingers so warm!

Second up is a pair of socks, again in Posh Yarn (yes, I am hopelessly devoted to the delicious colours that Tony dyes and I appear to have rather a lot of it in my stash!) this time the yarn base is Eliza, a 75% Merino, 25% nylon sock yarn that I hope will wear well - it certainly was jolly nice to knit with.The colour is called Castile, a glorious coral pink, with flashes of a clearer pink that only shows in daylight, and I love it. I knitted size Small and have nearly half the skein left, so I can use it again for another project too - win!

The pattern, ah now, the pattern is Dunkerton Sweet, written by the ever-so-fabulous JenAC and is from the Cloudy Apples eBook, a collaboration with the equally fabulous Kyoko Nakayoshi. As soon as I saw these socks, during the photo shoot for the eBook, I knew that I had to knit myself a pair. Cloudy Apples is a lovely collection of nine accessories and I'm very sure that the socks won't be the only pattern that I knit from it! I worked on the layouts for the eBook for Jen and Kyoko and it was such a fun project to be involved with - every stage was filled with warmth and fun, and I'm hopeful that this is conveyed. (I've just realised that I blogged about these previously, so apologies for repeating myself!)

Right. I think I've blethered enough for today. I have much to tell, so will be trying to blog very regularly from now on.


Adventures with Maisie

Yesterday was a particularly glorious autumnal day around these parts - the sky was a deep deep blue and there are still a few trees clinging to their beautiful show of leaves to give the odd, unexpected burst of joy as they come into view.

So yesterday's adventure with Maisie was an absolute delight - we meandered along our usual path in the woods to the back of our house, she found a great deal of smells to chase and sniff down while I took far too many photos...

Long-shadows.Autumn Beech.Steps.My hill.Sunliit Field Maple.Homeward.Yellow tree, black 'bird'.Sorry for overdoing the photos. I hope to be back tomorrow with other stuff!