Party’s ready to start – so where’s the party girl?

Feb 8, Blueberry’s official due date, has now come and gone (okay, maybe not quite gone in some timezones…).

I figured I ought to pack my hospital stuff, so I did… and now they sit there in the bedroom looking all ready to party but with nowhere to go!

I’m not sure if I’m having the beginnings of contractions – sort of very mild cramping that happens every hour or so… nothing that I can’t talk through or ignore. Will keep an eye out and see. Could just be braxton-hicks contractions (fakey ones).

Meimei & Deuce’s walker is coming today so that when the time comes, we have a dog sitter that the furry monkeys will be familiar with to make sure they’re being cared for while we’re all headless chickens running amok towards and at the hospital.

We found out something interesting about Meimei via Tarquin‘s owner. He’s done some research and is pretty sure that the dogs christened ‘black fluffies’ by HKDR, and Lamma Island Retrievers by me, are actually Belgian Groenendael Sheepdogs. It’s pretty amazing – the character traits are pretty spot on. From Wikipedia:

“Belgian Shepherd Dogs are described as highly intelligent, alert, sensitive to everything going on around them and form very strong relationship bonds. They are said to be loyal, intelligent, fun, highly trainable and well suited to family life. They should receive plenty of socializing as puppies and will benefit from regular activity and close interaction with people throughout their lifespan. Their herding heritage gives them a comparatively high energy level, and mental as well as physical exercise is necessary to keep a Belgian happy and healthy.

Belgian Shepherds do well in sports such as obedience training and dog agility. They are used as assistance and search and rescue dogs, as well as police, military and narcotics dogs.”

Well she certainly is quite clever and needs alot of mental stimulation to keep her from using her brains for mischief (like figuring out how to get the lid off the rubbish can). She also likes to herd us when we walk with her – she always waits for the last straggler of the group and makes sure we are all together.  It’s a bit sad too- knowing that someone must have abandoned at least one Belgian Sheepdog on Lamma Island for there to have been so many stray litters. Must find Meimei some kind of agility course for her to train on.

Meanwhile some Socktopus Sokkusu news – we have a limited edition colourway for Valentine’s 2012 – “My Funny Valentine”. It’s a heartfelt deep rich red with veins of purple.

There are still some skeins left, perfect for a shawl or pair of socks for a loved one or dear friend!  You can find it in the Socktopus Shop here.

We’ll also have a special pop-up this Friday with some of our popular, but resting, pinks and reds including Pout, Strawberry & Pinkly.

Knit Nation Merchandise Clearance Sale

We’re also making room in our stock room for more yarn – and so we’re having a clearance sale on all our Knit Nation merchandise.  All the mugs and bags are now 50% off; mugs were £8 each and are now £4 each, and bingo bags are £3 down from £6. You can stock up here.

Knit Love Club 2011 Patterns

For those of you waiting on the release of last year’s Knit Love Club patterns, we’ll be releasing them individually as follows for £4.50 each:

1 March: Gnomely
1 May: Fiyero
1 July: Zories
1 September: Blueberry Jig
1 November: Vignoble & Methuselah
1 December: Breadcrumbs & Lussekatter

We are also offering a KLC 2011 Pattern Yearbook ebook. You’ll automatically receive each pattern on its release date via a Ravelry PDF download.  The KLC 2011 ebook is available for £27.  You can purchase the 2011 Pattern Yearbook using the link below:

And for the first 2012 Knit Love Club patterns, as the pattern pack has now been sent out, I thought I’d show you the first two patterns for the year.

[spoiler]

For the February Knit Love Club kit, I created a slipped stitch pattern called Fanque’s Circus , designed to show off highly variegated yarns, and used those for both patterns.   The club colourway is called Thunder & Blazes, which inspired the whole circus theme (Thunder & Blazes is the march that signals the entrance of the clowns).

The first of the two patterns for February is Fanque’s Circus Socks, a pretty sock with a picot cuff.

The second pattern is Fanque’s Circus Mittens – a pair of cozy mittens using the same stitch pattern. Here is Ling modelling her pair (photo also courtesty of Ling).

The following two photos are courtesy of Heli Rajavaara, and also show the mittens in a solid colour. I think they look quite pretty in solid too.

I’m really excited to see our club members’s WIPs and FOs for the yarn and Feb patterns.

[/spoiler]

Now to wait and see about Blueberry. She needs to get her dancing shoes on. The music’s on, the dance floor’s waiting….. the party is raring to go. Just waiting for the party girl now!

Sunday Morning Waffles Scarf

I‘m sorry for the long silence. Work has been hectic but things have settled and I finally have my weekends, and blogging time, back again. Boy I’ve missed them!  I have a peace offering, in the hopes you forgive my long silence! A free scarf pattern, called Sunday Morning Waffles… but first…

So what has been keeping me crazy busy? The book has been very demanding, but I can happily report that book has been sent off to repro, and I should be getting a colour proof this week. It looks pretty cool. I’ve also been at the dye pots like woman possesed – over six hundred skeins have been sent out to their new homes….one a secret project, an order to L’Oisivethe in Paris, Holland Road Yarn Company in New Zealand, and finally Loopy Ewe’s huge order, which Sheri has hinted might be in their update on the 13th. Fingers crossed!

Ayame

I love the fun activities that Sheri dreams up for The Loopy Ewe – the next one is Camp Loopy – all the fun of a knitting camp without the bugs and ache of sleeping on the hard lumpy ground! Their first Camping Project – “Campfire Nights” is to knit a two-color cape, shawl, or scarf between June 15 and July 15. The Loopy Ewe is offering 20% off of the yarn for this project if you add “Camp Loopy” to the order notes and let them know which yarn in that order to be used for the Camp Project. And is it bad of me to show you what might come up in their update? Tee hee…

Lime & Basil

Queenie

Jammy Dodger

Paradise Lost

Lorelai

Summer Crush

Wooing Ruby

Chestnut Cream

Fly Eye

Pinkly

Poseidon

Slice of Orange

Prairie Dusk

I thought I’d join in on the Campfire Nights – but couldn’t find a two colour project that was feeling the love. So I decided to do a little make up your own – and came up with this:

I’m calling the two colour brioche stitch scarf Sunday Morning Waffles.  I had some fun pairing up colours before deciding. Prairie Dusk & HB2 were my first choice…  but then, what about Prairie Dusk & Lorelai?

Or Slice of Orange (sheesh I really should have called it Glow cause it does just that) with HB2, Fly Eye, Summer Crush, or Lorelai?

Or maybe classic Ysolda HB2 & Wooing Ruby? Or Fly Eye and Lime & Basil? Oh decisions decisions….

I gave in to the call of my glow baby – and paired it with my second favourite Lorelai. I think it looks pretty, don’t you?  And the brioche is a nice cushy stitch, great to keep warm.  Would you like to join the Campfire Nights Camp Loopy Project? Head on over to Loopy Ewe and get yourself some yarn!

Pattern: Sunday Morning Waffles

Needle size: Approx 2.5mm circulars or two long DPNs

Yarn: 2 skein of Sokkusu Original (or other fingering weight yarn) in contrasting colours.

LC: Slice of Orange

DC: Lorelai

Gauge: In pattern: 5.5 sts/inch

Finished size: Blocked width approx 10″, length as long as you want it, but for a good length scarf at least 60″

Notes: Each row is worked twice in each direction – once with the LC, and again with the DC.  Using one colour, you’ll work across the row, then sliding the work back to the start position, you’ll work across the row again in the same direction with the second colour.  Turn the work, then work the RS twice, first with the LC, then again with the DC.  There is a selvedge of 3 sts either side of the work which are only worked when working the DC rows.

With DC, loosely cast-on 50 sts. Knit 8 rows, slipping the first st of every row purlwise and bringing the yarn to the back between the needles before knitting to the end.

Set-up row 1 A (WS LC): Sl first three sts purlwise.  With LC, * yf, sl1, yo, k1; repeat from * to 3 sts from end. Bring LC yarn to back between needles, slip last three sts purlwise. Do not turn.

Set-up row 1 B (WS DC): Slide work to other side of needle, and using DC, sl1 purlwise, bring yarn to back between needles, k2, *slip yo from Set-up row 1A purlwise wyif, p2; repeat from * to last three sts, k3, turn.

Row 1 A (RS LC): Sl first three sts purlwise.  With LC,* sl1 yo p2tog (the yarn over and next st); repeat from * to last three sts, bring yarn to back, slip last three sts purlwise. Do not turn.

Row 1 B (RS DC): Slide work to other side of needle, and using DC, sl1 purlwise, bring yarn to back between needles, k2, k1 (the st that is partially behind a yarn over, just move the yarn over slightly to the left to be able to knit this st), *sl yo purlwise wyib, k2 (the second st will be partially behind a yarn over, do as you did before to knit this); repeat from * to last 5 sts, sl yo purlwise wyib, k4, turn.

Row 2 A (WS LC):  Sl first three sts purlwise.  With LC,*with yarn in front, sl1, yo, k2tog (the yarn over and next st); repeat from * to last three sts, slip last three sts purlwise. Do not turn.

Row 2 B (WS DC): Slide work to other side of needle, and using DC, sl1 purlwise, bring yarn to back between needles, k2, *sl yo purlwise wyif, p2; repeat from * to last 3 sts, k3, turn.

Continue working four steps of Rows 1-2 as set til work is about as 50 inches long, ending with Row 2B.

Using DC, knit 8 rows, slipping the first st of every row purlwise and bringing the yarn between the needles before knitting to the end.

Bind off. Weave in ends.

Block, and then wear to keep you toasty warm!

 

Helpful abbreviations:

wyib – with yarn in back

wyif – with yarn in front

yf – yarn to front

yo – yarn over

 

Diagon Alley

It is COLD out there again. Here I thought spring was well and truly on its way. No matter, it’s a great excuse to break out some knitwear. I’ve been working on a pair of Diagon Alley fingerless gloves for myself. These were initially released as part of Knitsch’s yarn club ‘Flights of Fancy’, and after some nagging (you can all thank Tricia!) it’s finally available for purchase on Ravelry.

Tricia finished hers first in Sokkus-Xtra Ayame:

Then me (mine is in a test colour of Sokkusu-Xtra)

And finally Carrie with an almost finished glove. I’m guessing here but the yarn looks like Knitsch Yarn‘s Peacocks in the Parlour:

I wonder how many of these wip photos with wip photos with wip photos (etc) we can make? Hee hee.

50% of all pattern sales to MSF

It’s such a relief to have my dad here in front me, safe and sound. Listening to him recount his experience has really driven home how very lucky we are to live in such security and stability.

Feeling like I need to give something back for how fortunate we have been, as a gesture of thanks to karma and the Powers That Be, from today Friday 25th Feb until further notice, 50% of all pattern sales on Ravelry and in the Shop will be donated to Médecins Sans Frontières in their response efforts to violence in the Arab countries.

Gnomely [Beware – Spoilers!]

It’s the three week marker from posting out the Jan Knit Love Club kit, which means I can blog about the new club sock which I’ve been itching to do for some time!

The club yarn for the first kit is Sokkusu-X – a merino cashmere nylon mix in a 70/20/10 proportion. It has 3 plies, which makes it a nicely rounded yarn. And very very soft.  The club yarn is regularly Sokkusu-O, but for I thought we needed something a little more indulgent to start the year off.

Before we go any further – if you haven’t received your yarn yet (though I’m hopeing by now every one has) then please don’t read any more if you want it all to be a surprise!

The colour was inspired by a visit down on the Isle of Wight to my MIL & FIL. We went for a walk along Colwell Bay, and came across algae & seaweed on some of the shoreline. Except the algae was a red purple. It looked very striking sitting atop sandstone next to the greasy blue-grey of the water.

It took a few tries to get the sandstone colour right (some of the combos looked like varsity colours). But finally I hit the nail on the head.

The colourway is called Corallina, after the red algae.

The sock is called Gnomely (after Cookie A who is very much a gnomely cutie), and is a bias sock. I am enchanted by bias knitting, and got to use my new shadow wrap technique in it. It’s so perfect for variegated yarns. I am going to be exploring the bias a little more.. so many possibilities!


Here it is in Granooey.

Rumpled, Spring Shoots & Mince Pie Mayhem

Sock patterns Rumpled!, Spring Shoots and Mince Pie Mayhem are now available for purchase on Ravelry as pdf downloads.

I have been up to my eyeballs in pdfs, indesign documents, alignment, layers, text styles. for weeks now… I had NO IDEA that formatting and layout could take so long… and be so totally absorbing.  I looked at the clock yesterday and it was 1pm.  Then I looked again and it was 9pm.  How did that happen? I get hooked in the way I get hooked in by video games (drat you Kate for showing me Angry Birds!! so many hours sucked into the void). I’ve been working on the yearbook for the Knit Love Club 2010 – which is taking FOREVER but I am finally happy with how it is looking. Wanna see the front and back covers?

Yup that is my favourite yellow green colour on the back. It’s also in the Socktopus logo (the thin lines in the background).  I also noticed that is is all over in Cookie’s knit.sock.love book.  If one can moon over a colour, I am definitely mooning over this one.

And since I’m feeling the love and want to share – it is Valentine’s Day still somewhere after all – remember the new advert for Knit Nation in Knitting Magazine that I mentioned but wouldn’t show you, meanie that I am? If you’re on Ravelry you probably have seen the new banner ads and notebook ads. Here is a sneak preview of the full page – it should be hitting the stands on the 17th.

We asked Julie, the designer behind the Ravelry party artwork at Knit Nation last year, to create something special for Knit Nation 2011. I am totally in love with it!  It has London’s iconic buildings, a few sheep here and there, old style London signs… and a black cab! how cool.

Hubby, if he is reading, though I suspect his one day of blog reading has tired him out, would be heartened by the support given his beloved golden syrup!  Kerri & Josie – tis true – golden syrup as an ingredient is pretty entrenched in British cooking – especially the puddings!

And Carie – thank you for the tip on flapjacks! Hubby has been making them with honey and they just don’t taste right. I’ll suggest he use his beloved instead – he’ll be soooo excited. And pleased that I’m actually giving him a legit excuse to buy more of the stuff!

PS Happy Birthday Tricia!!

Looking Forward

All good things must come to an end sometime, if only so you can look forward to its coming again. This morning, Cookie, Anne & her husband David all bundled into a taxi and were whisked away to the airport. The flat feels so empty now, with just me and Deuce rattling around. Sad.

But no point in dwelling on the blue… we had a great time and I know that July is going to be a blast.  Last night we went out for a lovely meal at Chutney Mary.  We started out with cocktails – Anne & I had a strawberry vodka cardamom drink, and Cookie had hibiscus flower in prosecco. Very purdy drinks, and tasty too!

Hibiscus Flower in Prosecco

Anne’s husband David came to meet the girls before their trip to Scotland, and it was such a treat to be able to get to know him.  He has a poet’s heart and manner.

David, Anne & Cookie

The restaurant has a lovely conservatory area and we were lucky enough to be seated at one of the large tables under the central tree.

Leggy Gnome, Little Gnome, and Giggly Gnome

I failed to take any photos of any of the food, which was delicious.  I did take a photo of Cookie’s hands demonstrating the b for bread on the left and d for drink on the right as an aide memoire for place settings. I’d never come across this before – I think it is both genius and totally hilarious.  Spent a fair bit of time at dinner laughing at my hands making the same shapes as Cookie’s.  Clearly I’d had a fair bit to drink by this point!

b for Bread and d for Drink!

One thing I can never remember is which side to put the knives and which side to put the fork. I grew up with chopsticks which were always on the right which is no help. And since I grew up in Canada where we use our right hand to hold a fork, and now live in the UK where we use our left hand to hold a fork, it’s all a bit muddled in my head.

We chatted about work, cameras, and eventually came to the topic of blogs – and I found it fascinating that none of our husbands read our blogs! David doesn’t read mine, Cookie’s husband doesn’t read hers, and Anne’s David doesn’t read hers either (though he does post on it from time to time when Anne is away). My David’s argument was that he knows already what I’m doing etc, which would be alright except that half the time he has no idea, and the other half I probably told him but he forgot so he still has no idea. So my curiosity is piqued – do your other halves read your blogs? do you read your other halves’ blogs?

For you Knit Nation aficionados – we have pretty much finalised our teacher list and we will have the class schedule up at the end of the month. Sign up to the newsletter at www.knitnation.co.uk to be first in the know.

The past few weeks have really been a whirlwind -hubby went skiing and so I took advantage of the empty kitchen to do some monumental dyeing. All the KLC skeins, the Man of Rock and the class skeins for Cornwall, and a few extra for the retreat “tuck shop”. About 130 in total over 5 days. My David went to Holland, Cookie & Anne arrived, then my David went to Brussels and we went to Cornwall. After Cornwall, I came home while Cookie & Anne headed north with Anne’s David, and sent out the Gnomely pattern (KLC’s first pattern), and then dyed up all the Bloodlines yarns (for the Twilight kits) and knit up the Bloodlines sock pattern before Cookie, Anne and Anne’s David returned London from the north. Phew!

And there is still more – finish the rest of the text for my book, the Knit Nation class schedule, the Knit Nation website, KLC 2010 patterns for release, and 4 more patterns for the book. Ack and alack. I am going to be SOOO happy when March rolls around and I am done the big ticket things. Then I can go back to some gentle knitting, and maybe even *gasp* knitting on something for myself!

When I passed on the Bloodlines yarns to Dee, we had time for some coffee, chit chat and knitting. Dee brought her Sokkusu-L from the True Blood kit for the Bloodlines Sock Club. I took a few photos since I stupidly sent it all off without photographing the skeins. I totally love this colourway. It’s called Bill Compton and is a super bright blood red – vamp-juice, as it were. She’s knitting it up in my 2luvcrew socks pattern which will be available later this year.

Bill Compton Colourway for Bloodlines