Friday, 23 July 2010

Look at the Birdie!!

Since my needles have been free of the jumper I have been steaming ahead with some of the baby projects I had planned. The first of which was a tiny little birdie stuffed toy which was really simple to make. He may not be elaborate but I prefer simple colours and patterns when it comes to kitting out my kids and this new one will be no different. I recently bought a book of baby patterns and this is the first of many of the items I will be making from it.

I used some yarn I had left over in my bag - a really nice cotton and merino wool mix that I bought absolutely ages ago. He was super fast to knit and is basically just a long rectangle of stocking stitch with some ingenious folding and seaming that turns him into a little pyramid. If I were to make any more of these I'd try some funkier colours and different animals to see what works.
And speaking of experimental knitting, the boyfriend has now put me to work on some ideas of his own. Using this technique, he is having me knit superhero versions with the appropriate logos in fairisle. I'll admit, I've never tried knitting motifs before but after a few trial runs with some cheap acrylic yarn, I think I've got the knack now. They have tentatively been dubbed Super Sacks and hopefully our boys will have the cutest little collection of first superhero toys that are completely suitable from birth. What more could a geek dad ask for?

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Cue some suitably epic music ... the jumper is completed!!

At long last I have finished the Herculean task that was a pretty basic jumper. Let's face it - there was no colour work, no cabling, nothing that would tax any average knitter. But I found the endless hours spent knitting the front and back extremely dull, not to mention the final sewing up which was made more difficult by the aforementioned yarn issues. I just don't have the patience for great big projects, and the fact that I had lots of exciting little baby projects lined up only made me more impatient with the whole thing.

Maybe in a year or two I'll attempt another adult jumper. The boyfriend was quite taken with it and mentioned more than once that he would like one just like it. But if I thought knitting a jumper for my stick thin rake of a dad was a chore, the thought of knitting another for a man who wears XXL and can best be described as 'burly' brings me out in hives!! Maybe if I find a super chunky wool and use larger needles it'll only take me a few months! It is flattering to hear him praise my work though, as he has fiercely resisted my offers to knit him scarves and hats.

In the end, the complex pattern quickly made sense, and after the inital disaster, there were no more problems. The neckline, with it's three buttons and collar, was really satisfying to see come together, and I'm glad I opted for a pattern with a little more interest than your basic pullover. Fingers crossed it fits! It is now winging its way to Belfast, by next day delivery, for my dad's birthday tomorrow. Talk about cutting it fine!

Sorry for the poor photo. It was hastily taken last night before the whole thing was parceled up. Hopefully I'll soon have one of the man himself wearing it. I'm actually really proud that I managed the button holes and collar as it was something I've never attempted before. I even made a little tag for it, with a logo and everything - that's right, you're witnessing the creation of a brand! Now, if only I could find enough people willing to wait great lengths of time for a slightly mis-shapen jumper which they would happily pay for, I'd have my very own cottage industry!

The best thing about finishing this jumper though is that I no longer have to work with that horrid yarn. After my rant on here I found that tons of people have similar complaints with Debbie Bliss yarns, so that is definitely a brand I will be staying clear of in the future. I now have a few quick and easy baby items on the go, in beautiful soft cotton and merino wool mixes, and I will have tons of things to show you in the coming weeks.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Woolly Rant

I'm nearing the finish line with my very first jumper, and beyond the initial ribbing disaster, there have been no further knitting hi-jinks to report. I have, however, developed a deep love-hate relationship with the yarn I'm using.

I prefer to knit in decent wool or cotton rather than acrylics or blends, especially if an item is a gift, as this particular jumper is. The price of the yarn usually reflects it's 'luxury' status, and I am usually happy to pay the extra cost. However, this jumper was my first knitting project using Debbie Bliss branded yarns and I have to say, I am not impressed. I usually stick to Rowan as I love their milk cottons for knitting soft baby items. However, my local wool shop (which is a bit of an overly grand way of putting it, as it is actually just the wool department of John Lewis) had Debbie Bliss Luxury Donegal Aran Tweed yarn in the exact colour that I knew this person would love. So I bought it.

And the problems began. I found that the yarn had random bits of twig and straw wound in the strands, which would have made for one scratchy jumper. I think I've maanged to catch all of the stray bits, but this was a pretty common issue over 10 balls of yarn, so not exaclty an isolated incident. Then, despite being careful to buy from the same dye lot number, two of my balls had bright purple threads in places. I know a tweed is a mish mash of colours, but beige and browns are acceptable, not purple. There were also random knots along the length of the yarn and in places it was obvious that the strand had snapped and been hastily, and crudely, knotted together by, I can only assume, the manufacturer.

But the final straw came last night as I was carefully seaming the shoulders. The yarn kept simply snapping! I was not impressed at having to unpick several inches of yarn to properly weave it in. With the cost of wool, even acrylics and man-made ones, reaching ridiculous rates, it seems that it is no longer cheaper to knit your own things. And with shoddy, so-called designer brands not delivering the promised finish, how do we know which to avoid?

Oh, and the response from a 'representative' of Debbie Bliss when I complained? Basically, because the yarn is made from natural fibres and not man-made, there will be weaker spots and flaws in the yarn. Deal with it.

I'm seriously unimpressed.

Right, rant over! Normal service will now be resumed!!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Cat pee

This is one of the 'other happenings' promised in this blog title that is not about knitting. These posts may become more frequent depending on how many amusing stories I have to tell. And whether or not anyone else actually finds them amusing.

This one, thrillingly, is about cat pee.

We have two cats - one very old and one very young. And what do the very old and very young of any species have in common? Poor bladder control.

Actually, now I think about it, these two cats may actually have superb bladder control. It's the only way to explain how they can saunter past the litter tray, down the stairs, into the bathroom and pee on my bath mats. That's right - I can no longer have bath mats in my house because one, or both, of these cats has a secret vendetta against me.

It started, innocently enough, with the very old cat. If I left clothes lying on the floor next to the bed, I would wake up to find them soaked in cat pee. Maybe she's trying to tell me to tidy up - although my dear other half has just about all of his wardrobe stored on the floor on his side and it all stays bone dry! I knew it was her because we were between kittens at the time - due to our poor kitten screening abilities we always end up with suicidally stupid little cats and sadly, one met a premature end under a car. My first thought was 'oh, poor thing, she can't make it downstairs to the littler tray in time,' and being that she is elderly, we bought and filled an upstairs tray to save her the embarassment of having to pee on clothing.

But, one night I woke up to find her sitting on my jeans, staring at me and peeing with gay abandon! (I assume it was gay abandon - cat expressions are hard to read.) That was when I became convinced that she hated me. I had moved in and usurped her as queen of her suburban, 3 bed, semi-detached castle. Unfortunately, boyfriend is in some kind of hypnotic, feline thrall to this particular cat, and no amount of bitching from me could make him see this as a problem. Until she peed on some comics.

Mysteriously, the guerilla peeing soon stopped, and life went back to normal. Until the bath mats. And now that we have a new furry friend with a death wish I have no idea who is responsible. There are also suspiciously smelly spots on the hall carpet. My house always smells of cat pee, which is deeply embarassing to me - though not to the boyfriend, who doesn't seem to notice this.

This whole saga has made me a little more unhinged than usual, so caught up am I in trying to catch the furry culprit. But they two of them are wily buggers - they once even managed to come into the bathroom while I was showering and pee on the clothes I had just taken off. I didn't even notice. This means war.

So, until this pee bandit is apprehended, there is a high likelihood of sustaining a head injury while showering at my house. Just remember, that as your face hurtles towards the tasteful green tiling, to curse the damn cats. I accept no responsiblity for their mayhem.