As rare as hen’s teeth…

Last Monday I achieved something I thought fairly impossible for me and finished two projects in one day!  When it’s not deadline knitting I’m not very disciplined – I think it’s a reaction to having three to four weeks or sometimes much less to make a sample and write the pattern and having to be very disciplined in order to get it done in between going to work, sleeping and eating.

(Stop laughing.)

The first was something secret-ish that I’d been working on for about a week:

Mystery project

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

I can’t tell you much about this at the moment, except that it’s made from Noro yarn, so the colours are gorgeous.  Hopefully soon I’ll be able to show you more (soon might be two weeks or two months, as I’m fitting this in between other projects).

Once I’d finished this, I was on a roll, so I dug these out of my project bag:

Half-finished mitts

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Remember them?  They’re the Louisa Harding Charm Mittens that I started for a KAL back in June.  Yes, June.  Shush!  Other things got in the way of finishing these in time for the KAL (which finished at the end of June) and they’ve been hibernating ever since, with just the thumb on the left mitten to do and a the seams to sew on the same hand.  (They were a bit further on than in this picture, but I just wanted to get them finished, so I didn’t take another picture until they were done.)

A little while later I had these finished too!  Yay!  (Only 5 months late.  *blushes*)  You can see them on Ravelry here.

Finished Charm Mitts

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

I really pleased with both my projects, but it’s been unseasonably mild over the past week, so I’ve not worn either of them yet.  But old habits die hard, so rather than being good and finishing some socks, I’ve now cast on a pair of mittens and a jumper (The latter of which, it has to be said, while coming on very quickly, is not going all that well.  I may have to frog and start again.  More on that next time – keep your fingers crossed!).  There really is no cure for startitis.  *sigh*

Are you a good little project finisher, or a reprobate multiple project starter like me?

Lottie x

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A few of my favourite things…

….. raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favourite things!

Well not really…. apart from the warm woollen mittens of course!  I love mittens 🙂 but I prefer parcels of yarn to be packed in something a little studier than brown paper and string!

However, I do have a few favourite things when designing.  Some, like these bird books are things I have been fond of since childhood.  I have always loved watching the birds in our garden.  Not just the fancy ones, but the everyday birds as well.   They all have their different personalities!

Woodpigeons seem dopey and inept at anything except eating and chasing a potential mate.  They will pick up one twig at a time when nest building, having carefully selected it, then put it down in what looks like a moment of doubt, before picking up another, almost identical twig.  This goes on and on in a cycle to the point where you are amazed that they can actually build a nest at all!

Blackbirds are aggressive and very territorial, but this is offset by a rather comical ‘livid hop’ as I call it, towards their bitter rival.  Sparrows are playful, hopping in and out of puddles and chirping excitedly, and Magpies are furtive, and wait until you’re not looking to snatch those scraps of leftover food from the garden.

Bird Books

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Not only are the birds themselves inspiring, but their Latin names can make especially good pattern names 😉

I also have sketchbooks and notebooks aplenty, which are always to hand if I have an idea worth preserving in the middle of the night (this is not unusual)!  This one is huge and handily spiral bound with sections of plain, lined and graph paper which is especially handy if I think of a charted lace or colourwork pattern that I want to jot down.  I also has a handy pocket at the back which is useful for any inspiring cuttings and pictures (if you look carefully you might notice that this is stuffed with such things).  If this sounds good to you, Paperchase do these every season in different cover designs (although there is usually only one to choose from at any time) so get yourself down there!

Sketch book

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

This one was bought for me for Christmas a couple of years ago by my colleague Anne along with a perfectly proportioned propelling pencil (try saying that quickly), and though much smaller than the other book, it has all the same features, plus several little clear pockets throughout, which are perfect for keeping errant yarn labels next to the pattern I’m drafting so all the yardage and content information is close at hand!

Little sketch book

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

It’s also the perfect size to slip in your bag or take on holiday, so now I never have to be without my sketchbook.  I love the pattern on the cover, which makes me think of Japanese Amigurumi toys!  Weirdly, the colours and pastel rainbows also remind me of (80’s/90’s throwback alert) Care Bears (although if you have no idea of what Care Bears are, I suggest you avoid clicking that link and remember that sometimes, ignorance is bliss).

What do you like to keep handy when you’re knitting?

Lottie x

The predictable kind of souvenirs (if you’re a knitter)!

Well you didn’t think I’d come back from my holiday in Slovenia without something knitting related did you? 😉

As Sarah from woodlandknitter said: ‘What, no yarn?’

She knows me too well!

In fact, on our journey from the airport to the hotel we spotted a yarn shop which was still open even though it was late on a Saturday evening – cue many jokes about desperate knitters nipping out to get their late night fix of yarn! To non – knitters this might seem funny, but personally I don’t think it takes much of a leap in imagination for this to be plausible. I mean, how often have you thought at about 11pm at night ‘Oh, I’ve just had the best idea of what to knit with this yarn!’ or ‘Wow, this pattern on Ravelry is amazing! I wonder if I’ve got anything in my stash for that? and before you know it, it’s midnight and you’re buried under a pile of yarn.  

Or is that just me?  *blushes*

Obviously I could not leave this little gem unexplored, so a few days later I went to investigate. Despite being tiny and also stocking sewing, embroidery and dressmaking supplies there was a surprisingly large selection of yarns, thanks to a quite ingenious three layered set of shelves full of yarn, where you could slide the front and middle layers away (rather like a yarn filled sliding door) to reveal yet more yarn in the layer behind (I want one 😉 ).

I did try my best to resist temptation, but there’s only so long a girl can withstand the intense gravitational pull of nice yarn (this is obviously an under researched scientific phenomenon) and eventually I gave in to it (but I was quite restrained – yes really).

I restricted myself to just three balls (told you I was good ;)), two balls of this lovely soft merino 4ply:

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….. and one ball of this interesting lace weight which shades from pink through to blue and emerald green:

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You have to look down the middle of the ball to see all the colours properly (a good tip if you’re choosing self striping yarns and want to know how the colours will turn out but can’t look at the yarn knitted up) but aren’t they pretty?

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I can’t wait to choose a project to use these on that will remind me of my trip 🙂 every time I wear it.

Do you like to bring yarn back from holiday? Have you ever found a lovely yarn shop in an unexpected place?

Lottie x