Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Must be a really gripping subject he's discussing, right? Well, it is 'web analytics' and that basically means measuring the traffic on your website.
You might think that considering the number of clicks on your website or blog, and making graphs and statistics out of them is a bit boring, and Avinash might agree. He's insistent that if a website or blog is going to hold any lasting value, it has to know what purpose it serves for its visitors. It has to know why people visit, and if they got what they wanted - so better ask them.
So, here is my question to you, right now. Why are you here? What brought you to Beelzebub Knits today, and did you get what you came for?
A prize ball of yummy sock yarn goes to the writer of the comment that will most help improve BK.
The blog of Avinash Kaushik is here.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
With the small items boxed off, that has cleared the way a bit for me to re-energise the larger WIPs. I've decided to tackle them one at a time, so I'm almost exclusively working on Perugino II at the moment (with occasional sneaky short bursts on Basil, which is my no-brainer project for when I can't handle anything else). Perugino actually had an end-of-October deadline attached to it when I started a few months ago, so that's why it's my top priority now. 60% of the actual knitting is done. I know from experience that blocking it and making the tassels won't be quick but it's making measurable progress, that's the main thing.
Wouldn't it be nice if I had everything done by Xmas, then I could have a completely fresh line-up of projects to start 2008. Something to aim for.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
At the absolute most basic count, there are four or five each of sweaters, hats and scarves. Around three sock patterns, a blanket, a shawl, a Harry Potter dress-up kit (robe, wizard cap, stuffed toy) and a handful of accessories including bags. However, this basic shopping list really does not do Alison Hansel justice. You don't need to be a Potter fan to appreciate the thoughtful work that's gone into putting Charmed Knits together.
The book is far from frou-frou and is full of good, solid-looking, wearable patterns. Hansel has gone to the trouble of providing a range of sizes for adults and children for all the sweaters. Added to this, several of the patterns are photographed in more than one colourway and displaying various optional features. Her three Elf Hats for babies are distinctively different - and all as cute as a button, incidentally. She's similarly generous with her sock patterns, seemingly offering the reader as many options as she can squeeze under one heading.
Hansel is an independent designer and so the recommended yarns in her patterns show wide variety, while her sensible, quite plain sense of design means it won't be hard for a British reader to substitute their own favourites for the American yarns in Hansel's book. The socks pictured here are knit usiing Knit Picks Essential (regular sock yarn, mostly superwash wool, the rest nylon). Another pattern, the ribbed Quidditch Sweater is made in hard-wearing Plymouth Encore Worsted (75% acrylic, 25% wool, DK gauge). The most luxurious item in the book, the lace Invisibility Shawl, is knit from Hip Knits Laceweight Cashmere (100% cashmere).
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Sirdar has made an unexpected appearance on my field of consciousness lately. I keep noticing this rather nice boatneck sweater that they advertise in the knitting magazines. The pattern accompanies their Ocean yarn.
While I was online buying patterns, I was also drawn to this, which uses the same yarn:
And while I was shopping for the blue yarn, a couple of other shades fell into my basket. This:
I am slowly finding my way around Ravelry and starting to upload stuff. It is a lovely thing but also huge and complex, like a warehouse crossed with a labyrinth.
Right now it only accepts photos uploaded from Flickr.com, which is fine, Flickr seems like a great service and everyone uses it. There's a problem in the sense that:
- My yarn stash and collection of projects is vast and it'll take forever to find all the photos on my PC, catalogue them, upload them, organise them, and synchronise all this across four platforms (PC hard disk, Blogger, Flickr, Ravelry). Yowsers.
- I can barely find my way round Ravelry and have no idea how to use the 'organise' tools.
- I am simultaneously learning Flickr for the first time and right now I am confused about a bunch of stuff, including the difference between a 'set' and a 'group', and why my photos are all stretched.
This means my progress on uploading stuff to Ravelry is very slow and patchy (although I am determined to get it all up there eventually!). In turn, this cuts into my blogging time, which then cuts into my knitting time.
That all said, I am relieved to say there has been some progress on the knitting front. Here is the news.
As you know, I am suffering with far too many WIPs right now. Recently I was blogging about the problems caused when a multiplicity of projects leads you to forget crucial details about each one when you're not working on it. This week I've discovered a second problem: too many WIPs makes it feel like you'll never get to the end. I am sick of some these items hanging around on my WIP list when I could be pattern-browsing for new projects.
There is only one thing for it, and that is to systematically finish some items. There has been mostly good progress on finishing small items this week.
Clara's Baby Surprise Jacket
This is wet blocking. I decided to block it before sewing on the buttons. Then it is out of the Finishing Basket and off to the baby, who is probably twice its size by now.
Sven's Red/White Arsenal Socks
Done! Here they are, wet-blocking on a pair of sock blockers, hanging from the Knitting Tree (which once again demonstrates its wonderful convenience & versatility).
I made these while on the road in the US earlier this year. They've been in the finishing basket for ages and I'm happy to report that they are now in use. Those are my feet, looking happy.
Were awaiting wet blocking and are now sitting damply on a pair of sock blockers, hanging from the Knitting Tree, along with the red'n'white socks.
These would be Ian's Rainbow Socks. Gah. I have had so many problems with the heel on Sock 2, mostly down to my own stupidity. I had to rip it out and reknit it, now I'm having problems getting it to rejoin the foot of the sock, on the back needle where the under-part of the heel joins to the sole of the foot.
In the photo below the socks are placed face down with the heel pointing towards you. The sock with the teal heel is the problem. See where it joins the purple stripe on the sole of the foot? Having reknit the heel, I grafted the stitches together with the live stitches from the purple stripe, not too tightly, and then weaved in the end (talk about tempting Fate!). What I've found is that this has created a hard seam that is acutely noticeable when the sock is on the foot. I will have to unpick it and see if I can find another way. Grr. There is work to be done here. I am also less than delighted with the toe on Sock 2. I am occasionally tempted to cut off the sock at the leg and knit the heel and foot of Sock 2 all over again, from scratch. Luckily, I have more yarn.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The yarn of which I speak is Ribbon Ball by Be Sweet. It's composed of a strand of fluffy mohair, a small, loopy boucle & a thin metallic thread, and it looks like this:
See those bows? Those are hand-tied on to the yarn by women in South Africa (there's a Fair Trade-y back story to the product to make you feel better about the outrageous, Marie Antoinette luxury of it all).
Loop in Lnodon are selling it for £18 for 50g.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Of course, after attending such an important event, it is polite practice in the online knitting community to show your fellow knitters what you brought home. Before I show you the haul, I'd like to say that I was extremely restrained on the yarn buying front. No kilo-sized packs of discontinued Rowan & Jaeger, although there was plenty to be had. Not one of the giant skeins of sweater yarn, each one the size of a sweater in its own right, that bulged temptingly from Colinette's stand. I was pretty good, I thought. That said, I'll show you the booty.
I adore knitting magazines, I love the random selection of patterns that accumulates if you collect them. I did particularly well at the stand of Knitting Magazine, where they had tons of back issues and recent issues that I'd missed. I now wonder how I got all these home on the bus.
Because you can never have too many. First up, a heavy cardigan from Sirdar. In a more subdued colour (I'm thinking iron grey, something Shetland-y, maybe), that rib collar's going to look great.
I can't resist long coats. Sirdar surprises me sometimes, I have low expectations of their fashion sense, but then once in a while they get it perfectly.
Had to have the new Kaffe Fasset book, for the sexy colour pictures. Top-quality yarn p*rn.
This little lot came free in a goody bag, courtesy of Knitting Magazine. Two pairs of wooden needles, three balls of Elle Plume, one box of gold & silver sequins, one box of orange beads, one box of green beads & a 'love knitting' sticker.
One set of tiny Brittany birch dpns (2.5mm) and one set of Sox Stix (2.75mm).
OK, here's the bit you've been waiting for. First up, some Colinette Jitterbug sock yarn in Fruit Coulis. These colours are spectacular, you can taste blackcurrant and raspberry in your mouth when you look at it. That said, I have used this yarn before to make a pair of socks in the red Mardi Gras colourway. I found it totally overpowering, to be honest. The pooling and colour flashes when I knit up a plain sock were damaging my retinas. So - although you must understand that I adore the colours and texture of this luxurious sock yarn, I am going to have to choose a sock pattern carefully so as to control the flashing & pooling effect. If I make the right choice, this yarn has the potential to be amazing socks.
Next up, some Austermann Step sock yarn with jojoba and aloe vera(!). I am not sure I think the added ingredients in any way justify the premium price of this yarn but I saw a couple of finished socks using this yarn on one of the exhibition stands, and I had to have it. It's always the colour that draws me in. Probably one of these balls will become socks for Joe, and the other, a pair for Sven.
And that's what happened at Ally Pally.
Monday, October 08, 2007
The other big achievement this evening was weaving in all the remaining ends on the Baby Surprise Jacket. The boucle was a pain. If you have ever tried to weave boucle ends into boucle fabric, you'll know what I'm talking about. All that remains to do now is sewing up the shoulder seams (oh great, more boucle!) and sewing on the buttons.
*glows with pride*
Well, this week I’m learning what goes wrong. What I’ve discovered is that when I have a WIP on the needles, no matter how many detailed notes I think I’ve made about needle sizes, decreasing patterns, etc, there is always a ton more information in my head that escapes notation and promptly evaporates if I don’t work on that project for a day or three.
For instance, take the Rainbow Socks. These couldn’t be simpler. I’m knitting the second sock of the pair, so I have a reference point. It’s an ultra-plain vanilla sock in stocking stitch with a garter stitch short-row heel and common wedge toe. So simple I can do it without looking. And there’s your problem right there. I was knitting on Sock 2 just the other day and the time came to work the heel. I’d taken the precaution of making a note that I worked the heel of Sock 1 over 36 sts of the total 60, and that I picked up a few stitches when starting the foot, so as to close the holes at the corners.
I thought my careful notes were fool-proof so I happily knit the heel and then the rest of Sock 2 (which seemed to take no time at all – strange, as Sock 1 took months). When I’d finished the blinking sock, I then realised that the one thing my notes didn’t tell me was that I didn’t need to switch to a smaller needle size to do the heel, even though that’s the convention with garter stitch short-row heels. Because I was feeling blasé and on top of the project, I hadn’t had the sense to have a good look at Sock 1 before starting to knit. So Sock 2 ended up with a heel that is much smaller than Sock 1. Dammit.
And that is why there has not been much knitting progress this weekend. Last night I sat down with Sock 2 and unpicked that heel. I now have a flat tube of knitting with a split in it, waiting for a correctly-sized heel to go in.
Don’t tell anyone, but the toes on these socks don’t seem to perfectly match either. It’s not noticeable though. That’s my story, anyway. You see what happens when you leave even something as simple as socks unattended? I need to get that WIP list right down to something manageable, asap.
It is going to be a festival of finishing this week. Clara’s Baby Surprise Jacket and Imken’s angora socks are absolute top of the list. More news and photos coming soon.