Friday, 11 April 2014

Visiting the Doctor

Here I am again with one of my what-we-did-in-the-holidays posts! Being British, I am very fond of the sci fi hero known as the Doctor. You might also know him by his alternative name, Dr Who. Ds and I went on a train trip to Cardiff in Wales, where the series is filmed, at the BBC Cymru drama studios and also on location in the city itself.

Picture heavy post follows!

Our first stop was at a location that fans of the programme will recognise as the entrance to Torchwood. The building with the writing on the side is actually the Millennium Centre, a concert and theatre venue.



Cardiff has stood in for various locations, including Central Park NY - this is a show made on a comparatively low budget, so flying the actors over to the real deal isn't really an option! Instead, they did things with digital images, I presume.

Our trip was also attempting to control costs, so rather than joining an organised tour, we used the mobile walking tour available free to download from the BBC website, in conjuction with a free street map given to us at the hotel and assistance from various very helpful Welsh people. We spent a very pleasant afternoon re-living various episodes. For example, the Senedd building pictured below, home of the Welsh National Assembly, was the setting for the Lazarus Experiment (we got to go in, which was awesome!)


The main event, though, happened on Thursday. This way to the Daleks...



The first part of the exhibition is an interactive experience that is lots of fun. And there were Daleks, so be warned ;-)

Then ds and I spent a couple of hours looking round the exhibition.

Keys to the Tardis

Costumes belonging to my Doctors

The interior of the Tardis of my youth!

Ds is inside! See him peeping out there! 
Being rather hungry after all the excitement, we went for lunch in an American diner which turned out also to be a Dr Who film location. Ds was overjoyed at being able to sit at the very table where Dr Who had sat (the episode was the Impossible Astronaut)


If Dr Who is not your thing, Cardiff is a beautiful city with cultural, shopping and sports attractions. Here's the Millennium Stadium (multiple Dr Who episodes).


We were very lucky with the weather, as you can see. What a great trip! And I also did knitting, on the train. Started my second sock :)

Monday, 31 March 2014

Stashdown #3: March 2014

In March, I didn't buy any yarn. So no incoming yarn to add at all, hurray.

I finished my shawl, plus I knitted a few little projects, so I made quite a dent in my yarn coming in to date (even though I'm still up on the start of the year).

I knitted up:

499 yards in my mermaid's song shawl.
61 yards in the toadstool baby rattle
49 yards making a few more hats for innocent smoothie bottle
212 yards making another Far North beret, one that fits me this time

Altogether that's 821 yards out for the month.

Brought forward last month ytd: +1973
Less reduction for this month: -821
New YTD: +1152

I have wound yarn ready for knitting up, and although I'm going to need to buy one more lot of yarn for my OWL plans for next term, I hope I might focus on knitting from stash apart from that.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Yarn Winding

This morning, I accomplished a task in about 15 minutes, owing to the introduction of knitting-related technology, that previously would have taken me several hours.

Non-knitters may not know this, but knitting yarn is not always sold in balls ready for knitting. A lot of the time, it looks like this:


That is known as a hank, I believe.

I used to unfasten the hanks, position them over the backs of two chairs at an angle to each other, and wind them into balls by hand. It took a long time, and made my arms ache. (If you want to know why yarn like this must be wound into a ball, I can tell you that if you try knitting from the unwound hank, you can end up with 800 yards of laceweight yarn to untangle! Guess how I know! But as a new-ish and solitary knitter, I had no idea...)

So, as I was getting tired of winding yarn by hand, I thought I'd invest in one of these:



That is a ball winder. It was pretty useful to me in February when I was working with laceweight yarn held double. For that, I needed to create two balls of yarn, and I did that from ready-wound balls, so to speak. The machine also gives you yarn wound to an even tension, which is good.

I'm still quite a solitary knitter, and I didn't realise until after I got the ball winder that you need two pieces of equipment to work together if you want to wind hanks into balls for knitting. You also need one of these:


This is a yarn swift, sometimes called a knitting umbrella. Mine arrived yesterday in the post. You put the hank of yarn on it, and then attach the end to the ball winder and turn the handle. The ball winds as the swift spins. The whole process is very smooth and easy.


I'm sure a lot of readers are wondering why I'm bothering to write about this, but *I* didn't know this, as a knitter previously, so I bet there are others who don't know it either.

Anyway, 20 minutes later, 3 hanks of yarn were three wound balls ready for knitting. I also wound 400 yards of fingering weight, but I didn't photograph that.


Ready for casting on!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

A hat that fits

Remember a few weeks ago, I mentioned I had made a colourwork hat that was too big for me?

I made it again using different yarn and a smaller needle, and this time it fits me:


Looky look! It's me on teh Interwebs!


Of course, wouldn't you know, I make a lovely winter hat just as Spring seems to have arrived. But never mind, there is always next Winter.

This hat was made in Knit Picks Telemark and a 3mm needle. The pattern is in a book called Knit Hats Now but it was reprinted in Knit Now magazine, which is where I encountered it. I have decided I really enjoy stranded colourwork, so I didn't mind making it twice!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Mermaid's Song

I have finally finished my Mermaid's Song lace shawl I started in January.


This is one which maybe shows the lace border a bit more clearly. There is a silver-lined crystal bead at  every point:


And this one from another angle, that shows the sheer nature of the laceweight yarn:


It took me weeks to knit the lace border with the beads, but only about six days to knit the short-row shaped stockinette section.

The pattern is by Susannah Ic, and was published in the interweave magazine The Unofficial Harry Potter knits (unfortunately this is not for sale in the UK owing to copyright restrictions, but an American friend of mine kindly sent me a copy as a gift). I used just short of 500 yards of laceweight yarn in semi-solid blue from the Knitting Goddess, who hand dyes yarn in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. I love blue, so I am very happy with the FO.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Handknit rattle

I made another baby item this week. I don't even know any babies in real life... but some of my online friends have them, so I might despatch a few of my recent baby items this way!

This time I made a rattle:


As an aside, I like taking pictures of my FOs in my apple trees. They are outside, in natural light, held still, without needing any assistance, and they are at the right height for me too.

I used scraps of leftover sock yarn to make it (yay stashdown!) and a free pattern at Purl Soho.

This rattle has a cat toy inside - one of those plastic balls with the bells in it, to make it rattle. As all the seams are picked up and knitted, and the toy is securely packed within toy stuffing inside, it's safe for a baby. I was very thorough with the fastening off. But in awareness of the safety angle, I decided not to embroider any spots on the cap using duplicate stitch, as suggested in the original pattern, just in case that stitching might come loose and be a choking hazard.

The rattle is adorable, and makes a lovely jingly noise, so I shall put it in the post asap. That's after I handed it in for my Quidditch homework, natch.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Shawl progress

I've been knitting on a laceweight shawl since January. I was making very slow progress until now, but finally it seems to be picking up speed.

First I had to knit 25 lace repeats on the border, with beads, and that took simply forever. Here's a pic of it in progress:


This week, I finally finished the border section, picked up stitches along the border and started the short row shaping section. Here's where I am now:


I must get this done by end of March, and it actually looks feasible, as although the "short" rows are now quite long, there are not so many of them left.