Sunday, August 2, 2015

A little light crafting & a new goal

The sun's been out and so have I; gardening, running, or simply just being outside and enjoying this beautiful place in which we live.

You may have noticed I've changed my header and here's the reason - Mrs Titch has finally produced some babies. We thought she was never going to get the hang of this nesting mullarky. There were eggs laid where she sat on the lawn and she'd just walk off and leave them, outside the Utility room door, in flowerbeds/flowerpots in fact anywhere she happened to be at the time!

Then one day she didn't come up to the house with Titch and Quackers. She didn't appear for about 10 days so we crossed our fingers and hoped. Then one evening whilst I was sitting knitting I heard a frantic tapping on the back door and there she was, desperate for food and very grateful for the bread and grain I threw out for her. She was definitely sitting on a clutch of eggs.

A few days later, whilst I was out doing something with Bloom, she made an appearance with 10 ducklings in tow but Mike couldn't take a photo 'cos I'd got the camera with me. Then we didn't see anything of her again for another week and we feared the worst but then she reappeared and although she'd sadly lost 2 she still had 8 remaining ones who you can see in the header photo. They seem to be growing bigger every time they come up for food.

She's actually proving to be a very good mother and is vigilant and protective all the time. They all follow me into the barn when I'm getting their feed and it's such an honour to be trusted by completely wild creatures.

The 2 paler ones are most unusual

Awwh! Cuteness overload.

Now, back to the craft bits. There's knitting and it's something I have never done before - a knitted shawl. I crocheted many shawls back in the 70s and haven't felt the urge but I rather fancied a lightweight shawl I could scrunch up rather than wear around my shoulders. I chose the Miss Dashwood Shawl which is designed for sport weight yarn but chose a laceweight instead to make it lighter and more ethereal.

The colour is more accurate in the last photo below - a deep teal/blue

I picked out some 4ply acrylic yarn to do a test as I wanted to check out the pattern before using the finer lace yarn. It started with the border edging using cream yarn and a provisional cast-on (used when you need to pick up the live stitches later and I used the crochet method as I find it quick and easy).

It seemed OK but I wasn't sure about one part of it where it called for PDD - purl double decrease. I checked online and lots of people had been getting in a tizz with it so it wasn't just me!

The PDD refers to the line of chains lying on top of eachother.
I stuck a photo of it on the designer's thread to see if it was correct and she said she couldn't tell. So I read what others had done and decided to just play around until I found the method I liked best and which gave the desired effect.

This next swatch is made using the lace weight yarn after I'd worked out the pattern to my satisfaction. I'll put my pattern notes on Ravelry when I've finished but in case anyone pops along here before I do this is a brief summary of what I did over the 5 stitches involved: purl, purl, keeping yarn in front slip the next stitch onto the righthand needle through the back of it's loop, yarnover (this is part of the secret to success), slip the next stitch knitwise (I experimenting doing it purlwise but it didn't affect the outcome either way) & then the next one through the back of the loop. Then slip the last stitch back onto the lefthand needle by inserting your needle into the back of the loop (this twists the stitch), slip the next stitch back but do not twist this one, purl those 2 stitches together and then slip the last stitch on the righthand needle over the top of them, yarnover then purl 2 stitches. 


If you enlarge the photo below you'll see how the stitches twist over which they didn't do in my orginal swatch.

In the photo above you'll notice 2 yellow threads running through a row of stitches. They are what is known as 'lifelines' and they can be invaluable in lace knitting 'cos if you drop a stitch or make a mistake it can be really hard to work out how to fix it when using such fine yarn. 

What I did was insert one after each 16 row repeat just in case of mishap and I'm jolly glad I did as there were 2 instances when I had to rip back - once involving a furry friend and once when I dropped a stitch and the yarn got stuck together. You're supposed to insert lifelines on rows when you don't have any yarnovers (yo's) but as there are yo's on every row I just ignored that advice!

One thing I did which people might find useful is to annotate my chart with things I needed to watch or timesavers. 

The white rows are knit from right to left but the grey rows are knit from left to right so I annotated them with a dash just to remind myself - I have absentmindedly knit them from right to left before now and it just makes me focus. You'll also see numbers on some rows and they are just the number of purl stitches so I don't have to count the squares each time. Other things I might mark would be unusual symbols or stitches.

Then there's some crochet. It's the Circles of the Sun CAL which is 9 small squares for a cushion cover. There have been 5 squares so far and I've modified most of them as I didn't like that the centre motifs didn't sit well within the square (eg points were off-centre which would have annoyed me!). 

I'm using leftover Rowan cotton glace in colours to match the dining room curtains.

Updated challenge

I was looking at where I was in my 2015 challenge (13 marathons in 12 months to represent the 13 years since I started running). I'd given myself plenty of contingency in case I got injured and had to pull out of one but I've already completed 12 marathons since the start of my challenge which meant that if I remained injury-free and ran all my remaining marathons then I would have completed 56 by the end of my challenge. 

Now that is such a silly number isn't it and I like more satisfying numbers such as 55 or even 60! 

As I was musing I had a phonecall from ARUK just checking how everything was going and general updating and during that chat I had the thought: This year's challenge was supposed to mark the start of my 60 by 60 campaign which I had to complete by June 2017. Yep, you've guessed it, I decided to add an extra 7 to bring my tally up to 60 by the end of the year.

Of course I had to check it with Mike as it would mean doing 10 marathons in the remaining 5 months when my challenge was supposed to finish in October. 2 marathons a month. That would be 20 marathons for the year. Oh my! Plus, as I already do lots of other things around dementia that take me away from our homelife I wanted to make sure he didn't mind.

He said yes (he's the best support crew ever and so understanding) but made me promise not to overstretch myself. Moi? Well I probably will actually but I firmly believe I can do anything until proved otherwise and ARUK should get some more excellent publicity from it. Now all I have to do is stay injury-free…………..

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