Saturday, 31 January 2015

I'm still alive

Wow, it has been a very long time since I posted on here. A lot has changed in the past year since I posted, and it's going to be very hard to summarise the past few months, but here goes:
  • Graduated from medical school
  • Spent two months in Malawi, Africa working in a hospital
  • Moved back up to Leeds
  • Started my years as a junior doctor
  • Finished my first of 6 4 month job placements, and moved on to the second

So yes, in a nutshell, very busy. I stopped blogging whilst working towards my medical school finals, which obviously took up an awful lot of my time and energy, and then wasn't really able to blog whilst in Africa, as there wasn't really any reliable internet connection. Hopefully I can do a blog post about my time there, as it was an incredible time, but no promises!

Connor and I then moved to Leeds so I could start my junior doctor training, and rented our first proper house. We've furnished it with freebies and charity shop things, but it is lovely and it really feels like home. In August, I started officially working as a doctor, in gastroenterology, and the first 4 month job just flew by. It was a terrify, exhilarating and confusing time, and I feel like I almost learnt more doing it than my 5 years in medical school. I'm now working in paediatrics, just coming to the end of 2 months in paediatric surgery, before I move on yet again to paediatric medicine.

I am loving work, I have met some amazing people and seen some incredible things. I am now completely sure that I picked the right career for me, and I'm looking forward to many more years doing it.

And now, the knitting. It was not a very productive year for me, what with everything else that was going on, but this is what I made:

At the top on the left are baby projects. We now have two new babies in the family (though one is a toddler now), and I made them a gift each over Christmas. I love the design of the blanket, Sleeping Baby's Castle, I think the knitted castle is incredible.

Bottom left are charity items, three preemie hats and three innocent smoothie bottle hat for the Big Knit in aid of Age UK.

Top right are socks, including what may well be my favourite knitted socks, Sock Strap. It's an amazing construction, the back in knitted, then the sides picked up and knitted outwards from the back, with the top knitted down after that. There is also Hopsox, made as a birthday gift for my best friend, in my hand dyed wool, and the socks I knitted Connor for Christmas 2013, which were written about in my last blog post!

Bottom right is a present I made for my Mum. It's a modified version of Anthemion, in hand spun silk yarn. I only had 68g of yarn, so I turned the wrap into a scarf, and modified the number of middle repeats, using every scrap of yarn.

The latest thing I have knitted is Saioa, in a squishy BFL single bought from a spinner at the Westmoreland County Show. It's really soft and warm, perfect considering the snow we've been having!

I am still knitted. I actually finished one more project in the last year, and wore it a couple of times, before deciding it was just too small. This is Arielle, and my gauge was slightly off, and so I have frogged the whole thing and am now reknitting it on slightly larger needles. Yes, I am crazy, but I love the pattern so much that it was a shame I would never wear it

I've also finished a none knitting project. This is a whole new thing for me, branching out into furniture! I mentioned that we have furnished out house with second hand furniture which was gifts from family or from the charity shop (I should really do a blog tour, you might be surprised at how nice some of it can be). I was given a gift of a set of 1970s nested tables, which were varnished in a hideous dark orange brown. They were practical, but really not very nice. So, on my last week off work, I set about stripping them down, and doing them up

I stripped off the varnish, sanded them down and waxed them. The wood underneath was lovely, and I wanted to show it off. The first two pictures of the rows show off the before and after best, and the biggest table has found a home next to my spinning wheel, where it goes rather nicely.

So there you have it. I will try and blog more regularly, because it would be lovely to get back into blogging a bit more. Hopefully I can do a few more posts to fill in the gaps, because this barely seems to do justice to what has been a whirlwind year!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Third Year of Projects Week 20 to 22

I'm really not doing well at updating here!

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If you remember last time I posted, I had been working on my Shetland fleece. I've now carded a good chunk more and also spun a full skein of yarn. It's 91g of DK weight, 169 yards, and has an identical grist to my sample, which I was really pleased with, as it means my spinning is consistent enough to spin a jumper's worth of yarn from this fleece. The only problem might be yardage, but I'm doing to see what I get when I've finished spinning it all, and hopefully it will be enough.

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I also have an update to the yarn that I stripped of colour last week. As you can see, I tried to strip the colour from a few skeins, but only one worked.The others became slightly lighter, but not enough to be usable. Also, the yarn became quite rough and brittle, which will be fine for my quilt, but I wouldn't suggest doing this for yarn destined for clothing. I then overdyed the one that worked using Wilton's Icing Dyes. I did a bit of experimenting, first trying to paint stripes on in Royal Blue and Sky Blue, which just led to a large amount of blue dye water all over my kitchen, and I think I would need more of  paste to do this.

So after a bit of mopping so I didn't dye my entire kitchen blue, I rubbed the Royal Blue dye paste directly on to the yarn in a random fashion, wrapped it in cling film and microwaved it. This worked to an extent, but the yarn was still majoritively grey, and the blue dye had not been completely heat set, so I overdyed it in a pot on the stove with Sky Blue. I was hoping for a slightly lighter colour than I got, to show the colour variations better, but I'm happy with this yarn, and I can definitely use it now, which is a plus.

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There's also been a few knitting finishes. I finished the minion hat that I was making last week. I ended up merging two patterns and modifying them both. I used the knitting pattern from one hat with the eye from a different hat which was entirely crochet

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This was made for a friend, and a mutual friend and I threw her a full minion themed birthday, so this was made to match the cake we made (she baked, it's coffee and walnut, and I tasted, then we both decorated. Plus we made a cake for the minion cake, so we wouldn't have to cut into the minion straight away).

This project (the hat and the cake) involved transporting 4 bags of cake baking equipment and an entire bag of yarn to our rented flat, as we were on placement about 2 hours away during the week, baking and crafting like mad, and then transporting the cake, the hat and all the supplies back with us without breaking anything, so it was a real labour of love! I think it was appreciated though.

The other big finish was the design for my waterfall cowl, which I am so happy with. It's really soft and snuggly and I'm still in love with the stitch pattern

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I think that it is the perfect length, because it wraps warmly around the neck, but also can be left to hang loose without being too long. It's also reversible:

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In case you can't tell, I'm really proud of this pattern, which is currently being test knit, and should hopefully be released pretty soon. I also taught myself to photoshop because I could not get a colour correct picture of this greeny-blue, and I think the photos came out pretty well as well. It's definitely a useful skill to have.

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And last but not least, what I'm actually working on at the moment. As this is the first update in December, I think I need a hexipuff update, I'm up to 74 puffs which is pretty good. I'm now frantically Christmas knitting, and as Connor has been bugging me for a pair of socks for ages, I'm making him some

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Size 10 men's socks on 2.5mm needles! And only in stockinette too! I must really love him...

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Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Third Year of Projects Week 15 to 19

So I know I have been away for a very long time, life got really busy and I have been on a placement that involves staying away from home during the week, and I've only just got myself settled in really.

This is going to be a picture heavy post, because even though I've not been at home, the knitting hasn't stopped, it's just getting moved about. I've been working on my Shetland fleece, it's all been washed, and I've carded a good chunk, as well as spinning up and knitting a few samples

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I was playing around with both 2ply and 3ply of different single thickness, and knitting them up to see the finished product, and I have to say, I wasn't expecting the striping that I got. It must be because each of the rollags I originally carded had a different combination of colours in it, so after knitting these, I decided to split the wool by colour as well as softness to get a more even coloured yarn, because I'm not a big fan of the stripes.

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I've also been working on my crochet skills, and made another couple of characters from the book Creepy Cute Crochet as a gift for my friend. I'm getting a bit better at reading my crochet now, and I also learnt a few new skills like crocheting through the back loop, and crocheting on a tiny hook with embroidery thread. They're still not perfect by any means, the girl's head is bigger than the guy's, even though they're from the same pattern, and her headband looks nothing like the one in the pattern! Also, my embroidery leaves something to be desired, as I could not get the girls face to look right.

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And onto WIPs. The Blue Beekeeper's Quilt is going well. Puffs are the perfect portable project for when I'm away, so I've been making quite a few, and I'm now up to 70 puffs. There are a few colours that don't seem to fit, and I'm not sure if they'll make it into the finished blanket, but we will see... I might overdye some of them

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And talking of overdying, I have been playing with stripping colour out of yarn to then overdye. I had a load of black yarn from a job lot on ebay, which I was pretty sure I would never use, and some pre-dye dye remover, so I decided to give it a go. I ended up only using about half of this yarn, because I had to use the dye remover twice to get any result at all. And boy did it smell bad!

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Out of 5 skeins (between 30 and 50g each), I only managed to strip any dye out of one. And it came out a tangled mess, because you constantly have to stir the yarn .

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But after detangling, it looks like it is overdyable. I have to say though, it's made the yarn feel a a bit brittle, and I can't say it was a perfect success. Nothing ventured, nothing gained though I probably won't do this again.

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I have had a few problems with startitis as well recently. I've been wanting to design this cowl for a while, and I recently blocked some shawls for a lady on Ravelry, and she sent me this yarn in return, and let me say, the picture really does not do it justice. It's Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply, and I am in love with this yarn. It's a much more turquoise colour, and it has a beautiful sheen and drap because of the silk content, and it's so soft!

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I've also started a minion hat, as a silly gift for a friend's birthday. Another friend is making her a minion cake, so I thought that this would go along with that perfectly.

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And finally, these are the socks I was working on last time I posted. After turning the heel, I realised they were much too small, and so I had to frog back to the cuff, and start again on bigger needles. They're in time out for a bit, as I can't really face reknitting them at the moment.

So there you have it, a whistle-stop tour of my last month of crafting!

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Sunday, 6 October 2013

Third Year of Projects Week 14

I apologise for not getting to everyone's posts last week, it has been a very busy week in terms of real life, which you can read all about later, but I will try to visit them at some point this week.

But in terms of knitting, I started a new pair of socks, which I think will be a birthday gift to my best friend. The pattern is Hopsox and I hand dyed the yarn using Wiltons Icing dyes earlier in the year. I was hoping for a semi-solid, and I think it worked really well

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The pattern is interesting because the cables are ribbed, and there is no chart! Also, the stitch pattern is written on a different page to the leg instructions, and is not just repeated across the leg of the sock. It's pretty easy once you have got through a bit of the pattern, because it's simple to remember, but it did confuse me for a while.

I also got some modelled pictures of my Speleology socks

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So, real life. I'm currently having to decide where abouts in the country I want to be for the next two years, which involves an awful lot of research and trying to decide what my priorities are for work. I have to visit every separate deanery's website, find the relevant information, synthesise it into a document that means I can compare it with other deaneries, and look at the jobs available in that area. It's a lot of work, and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed! In addition, Connor is currently also job hunting, which means that he's trying to find jobs in areas he's interested in (or really any job), but with him being unemployed, it's taken a toll on our finances.

And finally, I spent today packing since I have to move to a small town about 3 hours away for placement, and I will be commuting up there at the end of each weekend, and travelling back home for teaching on a Friday. It's very difficult to know what is best to take if I'm only there for weekdays, and I need bedding and food etc. So, it's been a busy week, and I have a feeling next week will be just as busy! Hopefully we can get it all sorted out soon though!

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Sunday, 29 September 2013

Third Year of Projects Week 13

Wow, look at this, a post on Sunday for once!

I think the main thing this week is that the Speleology socks have been finished!

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I'm actually not too sure about them. It's nothing to do with the pattern, they fit really well, the best of any cabled socks I have made, as the leg has more stitches than the foot, which is perfect for fitting around the calf and ankle. However, I was using the pattern to learn to cable without a cable needle, which means that the tension isn't great throughout the entire sock, and is really bad at the start of the first sock. Also, I had real problems with the yarn twisting, partly I think because I bought it in a destash and it came in a ball rather that a hank or centre pull skein. It meant I had to stop every couple of rows to let it untwist, and I think it has contributed to my funny tension.

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I also spent today making two preemie hats as a quick and easy project, because I'm not feeling too well. I love the fluffy pink yarn in the second one, I think baby hats are the perfect use for novelty yarn, as it's really soft. These used up every scrap of all three yarns, which is perfect!

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Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Third Year of Projects Week 12

This week has been all about working on Speleology. There isn't much to say about it that hasn't already been said really!

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I've done pretty well so far, but I did have 7 hours of train knitting to work on it, because I went to visit my best friend this weekend, and the already long train journey was delayed by an hour. At least it was sunny on the station, but my pattern nearly blew away!

It was a really good weekend. I'm thinking of moving up to her city next year, so we went to look at the hospital and to every yarn shop in the city (6 I think). I didn't buy anything, but not due to lack of things to buy.

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Yes, we were being stupid, but she loved Cthulhu. He is now on her bookshelf with Sidney the Dugong in a top hat and Arnold the owl cushion (she gets all the stupid things that I make...). There were some nice pictures but apparently the only one I have is us messing around with duckface.

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Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Paid Pattern: Drip Drip Drop Socks

Drip Drip Drop Socks 

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These socks were designed to mimic droplets of falling water, and are knitted with an unusual stitch pattern that leads to a block of stitches that are twice as high, wide and thick as the ordinary stitches, and so form a circular droplet shape. The pattern itself is a simple toe up sock with a short row heel, and uses only a combination of modified knit and purl stitches. Please make sure to read the special instructions carefully before starting, as they explain the stitches used in the pattern. 

This pattern is very stretchy, so although three sizes are given, depending on the desired ease, you can choose to go down a size for close fitting socks, or up a size for soft loose socks. The number of stitches around the foot are less than normal in this pattern due to the double wrapped stitches being twice as wide as normal stitches. 

The patten is written for 5 DPNs but can be easily adapted to magic loop or 2 circulars. The stitch pattern is given as both written instructions and charted. 

If there are any problems or queries about the pattern, please do not hesitate to contact me 

Small = 15 - 20cm (6 - 7.5 in) foot circumference,  
Medium = 20 - 25cm (7.5 - 9.5 in) foot circumference,  
Large = 25 - 30cm (9.5 – 11.5 in) foot circumference 

Suggested yarn: I Knit or Dye Horses. 
Yarn details: 4ply/sock weight, 100g skein. 
Gauge: 17.5 st x 24 rows in 2 inches in stockinette stitch. The gauge across the stitch pattern is variable. 
Needles: 2.5mm (US 1.5) or size required to get gauge. 
Items made from this pattern can be sold, but please credit me with the design. 

Cost: £2.50 
These can be purchased on Ravelry here or alternatively click the button below to check out with paypal