Friday, August 31, 2007

Tiger Island

The past couple of weeks have whizzed by and although we have been back from the Isle of Wight for a week I seem barely to have had time to draw breath. We had a lovely week on the Isle of Wight, where there was something for everyone in the family to enjoy. We saw model trains at Fort Victoria, real steam trains, the girls had a horse riding lesson and there were tigers galore:

The Isle of Wight Zoo at Sandown has the largest number of tigers in one place in Europe and they were beautiful. Even though they are in captivity and far removed from their natural habitat, they are at so much risk in their natural habitat that at least here they are safe. There was a white tiger, Zena, and Diamond, a beautiful tiger who has no black stripes owing to a form of leucism (the gene which cause the white colouring):

We managed some swimming in the sea and went to see The Needles, an iconic view of the Isle of Wight:

Carisbrooke Castle was another fantastic visit, with plenty to keep the children entertained and you can walk right round the ramparts, which is quite unusual:

I did loads of knitting in the evenings. Baby kimono fever still has me in its grip and these three are all for Brigid's appeal. First up we have one in Rowan Designer DK (a yarn that has been long discontinued):

and then one in Lorna's Laces Shepherd worsted:

and finally one in some handspun cotton left over from another project:

We all thoroughly enjoyed our time on the island and plan to go back before too long as there is so much to see and do:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More baby knitting

In between entertaining the children - here they are (with a friend) on the slide at Horton Park Children's Farm:

and on the big swing at Palewell Park:

I have been catching up with more baby knitting in the past week and finished another kimono in the lovely pink and green (very trendy, I gather) Artyarns supermerino for Ellen's Year 2 teacher who has just had her first baby. It is so cute!

I have also put the yarn left over from Clementine to good use - it was enough to make a baby hat for Brigid's appeal:

I have now heard from Anne, the recipient of Clementine, and she loves it - phew! I am so glad it has arrived safely and that she likes it!

This round of Secret Pal I have already heard from my new upstream pal and have been in touch with my downstream pal, so I am excited about the possibilities over the next few months.

Today has been spent in a packing frenzy as I am off to the Isle of Wight with the children tomorrow - I have unearthed the fishing nets, beach mats and beach tent; done some food shopping, finished the ironing and sent back some work; and, most of all, fretted about what knitting to take and what books to bring too. I plan to finish all my baby knitting on the go - yet more kimonos (I do hope I'm not boring you - but it is such a lovely pattern). I am hoping I might find a yarn shop or two while I'm there but have packed enough to keep me busy for far longer than the week we are going for! I doubt that I'll be able to blog from there, so I'll see you all in a week! Let's hope the weather bucks up its ideas!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Secret Pal 11 questionnaire

Here we go with another round of Secret Pal! And here's my questionnaire:

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I love wool, silk, cashmere and alpaca and also like cotton, especially mercerised cotton. I do not like any synthetic yarn or anything that feels scratchy or itchy when you wear it (mohair, for example).

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

I have a couple of lovely old knitting needle boxes and also store needles upright in tins. I also now have the Knit Picks Options set.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I have been knitting for about 30 years, but only obsessively since I was at university. My mum taught me to knit but I couldn't get the hang of tension when I was younger and just found it very frustrating. I retaught myself at university. I am probably an intermediate to advanced knitter.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
I have an Amazon wishlist.

5. What's your favorite scent?

Lavender and pretty much anything by Space NK.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I love chocolate and fruity sweets. I hate coffee-flavoured sweets (although I love a good cup of coffee!).

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I do some patchwork and have done embroidery and tapestry. I used to have a spinning wheel, but no longer have it (maybe when I have more free time I'll take it up again!). I like making small fabric gifts for people, such as lavender bags.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I like some classical (particularly Bach and Mozart) and some pop, although I listen mostly to the radio (BBC Radio 2 and 4). I also like some jazz, particularly Miles Davis.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?

I loves purples and reds and some dark greens. I don't really like blues or yellows - yellow makes me look ill! I prefer vivid, rich colours to pastels.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I am married, with three children - Ellen, aged 8 and twins Edward and Lily, aged 6. I have one cat, a ginger tom called Max Jaffa.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

I wear scarves, hats and mittens and I have one poncho I knitted myself - but I think one is enough!

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
I love knitting presents for people and knit a lot of ponchos for the girls' friends as birthday gifts. I also knit a lot for friends' babies. I like knitting scarves and am getting into shawl knitting. I knit socks occasionally and usually have at least one cardigan or jumper on the go for someone!

13. What are you knitting right now?
My two main projects on the needles are a cardigan for myself (which I have had on the go for a while) and numerous baby projects both for friends and a charity appeal. I am also planning to knit the Montego Bay scarf in the next few weeks.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

I love it!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I get a more even tension on straight needles, although I like Addi turbo circulars when they are needed, particularly the lace needles. Since I have got my Knit Picks Options needles I have used them pretty much all the time and would love some of the smaller sizes. They are a perfect weight in my opinion and I really like the feel of them as I knit. I may be a permanent convert to circs (although I knit socks on DPNs and cannot see this changing). I also collect vintage coloured metal needles - they are so lovely to knit with and so pretty on display.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
I own a swift but not a yarn winder.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?

Er, about 15 years.

18. What is your favorite holiday?

I like some bits of Christmas but can find the build-up a bit too frenzied and get stressed out every year! Although not strictly speaking a holiday, I probably like the freedom of the summer holidays best - I love the beach!

19. Is there anything that you collect?

Other than vintage coloured needles and yarn, I have a thing for vintage buttons too - I like using them on my knitting, as they make it really special.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I would love to try some yarn by the more indie dyers like Hello Yarn, Yarn Pirate or some of the European dyers. I have a subscription to Rowan, Knitting magazine and to Interweave Knits. Interweave is probably my favourite magazine. I usually buy Vogue Knitting too, but can get this in the local newsagent. There are some great new books coming out this autumn!

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I would like to learn twined knitting and improve my lace knitting.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
I do knit socks, but have very strange feet - high insteps and quite wide. I am an adult size 7 (EU 40). Let me know if you need more details!

23. When is your birthday?
26 July

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?
Yes, although I haven’t put very much up there yet. My ID is knittingingrid

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Summer fun

The children have reverted to squabbling a bit as the summer holidays progress and so I have this past week used my tried and trusted technique of taking them out every morning to give them a good run. We have usually taken a picnic and then come back in the afternoon, when they have got rid of their excess energy and play better together. I enjoy going out, but my ploy to wear them out is wearing me out too, particularly as I am working a lot and seem to have a million things to do! This past week we have been to Richmond Park, Kew Gardens and the Wetlands Centre, which are all within easy reach of home (lucky us!). And now that summer is finally here, what better way to cool down on a hot day than running under the raining clouds at the Wetlands Centre:

All the outdoor play that has been going on means that I have grabbed every opportunity while they are entertained to get out my knitting. I have finally finished this baby kimono which had been languishing because I ran out of yarn (I am using Artyarns Supermerino and I just love the colours). I managed to find some more on eBay and finally finished it and gave it to a friend at school, who was really pleased. Again, it is the baby kimono from Mason-Dixon Knitting, a pattern I love and which is perfect for a newborn:

So perfect, that I knitted another one for Brigid's appeal:

I plan to knit a couple more over the next couple of weeks before sending them off to her and hope to manage a hat or two as well. I also want to devote a bit of time to thinking about crafts for the school fair as I have been asked to help with this. Does anyone have any ideas about good sellers that are relatively quick to make?

I have been rather bogged down with work, so much so that I am now having to turn down jobs (the summer always gets very busy, as does Christmas, which is always hard to factor in to everything else) - not that I am complaining! I am so looking forward to going to the Isle of Wight next week for a bit of bucket and spading.

I seem once again to have put knitting for myself on the back burner in my efforts to knit for others. I will take some knitting for myself to the Isle of Wight, but want to finish all the baby garments first. Dawn and Polly have the sensible idea of posting lists of planned knitting on their blogs at the beginning of each month - perhaps I should join them (lists are my kind of thing!) next month.

We went to a family celebration (golden wedding anniversary) last weekend too and here is Lily the party girl (wearing the gold ribbon from the cake in her hair) enjoying herself immensely (and that is Coke she is drinking - not merlot!):

I have signed up for another round of Secret Pal and am looking forward to meeting some more knitters. I have so enjoyed the last round - it has been fun to meet Sabine and Melanie!