23 July 2013

hamstrung on happy street

Usually the kind of freak who uses electronic baking scales (because precision is fun) and finds ironing bedlinen therapeutic (just call me Monica), our lives are currently a complete bourach. (Google it, it's approximately the most onomatopoeic word in the known universe. Thank you Gaelic.) It's actually quite liberating, but the panic is starting to kick in. Because nobody can find their clean knickers in the morning.

It's chaos, but it's (mostly) brilliant.

I've been trying to keep up with the illustrating, doing respectably well in recent Spoonflower contests but still just missing out on the top ten. And my silk scarf designs for BetaFashion both placed very near the top in the Art Deco competition (there are about eighty entries altogether, and as far as I can tell, one of mine placed eighth, the other about sixteenthish). The judges have yet to decide which (if any) of the scarves are to be printed, but I'm pretty pleased with my progress so far regardless. Keeping my fingers crossed. My theory is that if I keep plugging away at these open contests, I'll break into the top flight eventually, and it's all great Illustrator practice in the meantime. That's the idea anyway.

But what is not going so swimmingly is reading and knitting. I have completely stopped reading. Between the gardening and the school holidays and everything else, I'm not making the time. I have a list as long as my arm to catch up with, but I suspect it's just not going to happen until school starts again.

And knitting. Well, that is where I need some of your solid gold-plated advice.

You probably know that I fell head over heels with Veera's Happy Street pattern as soon as I saw it. It's so rare to see a knitting pattern that is youthful and modern, and Veera just seems to hit the nail on the head every time.

Image from 100% rain

So I spent weeks trying to find the Madelinetosh colours in any shop that wasn't going to bankrupt me. As soon as I mentioned my struggles here a few months ago, Sarah contacted me to say she could try dyeing the colours for me! She did, and they are AWESOME, and I have the dual self-righteous warm fuzzies of a) having supported a lovely UK-based businesswoman and b) not being bankrupt.

Win, win.

So I wound the wool, packed my needle, printed the pattern; all ready for a wee trip away. After settling down in a comfortable chair, all set to cast on, I read those fateful words: Cut yarn after each colour change.

Heart sink.

What I love about all the other Veera shawls I've made (and I've made a LOT) is that you can carry the strands all the way through the pattern, resulting in (usually) just two ends to weave in at the beginning and two at the end, and a very neat finished product. But looking at the picture of Happy Street, I guess it's going to end up with at least two dozen cut ends. And I'm a novice, so my finishing is very far from invisible. So I'm in a quandary, and would love to hear your advice.

1. Have you made Happy Street? Do you think I should just crack on regardless and hope for the best (because the pattern is so beautiful)?
2. What's the secret to finishing? There is almost certainly a "proper" way to do it that I'm not aware of (I basically make it up as I go along). Do you know of an online resource I can read/watch to teach me how to weave in neatly?
3. If the answers to the above are both "No", do you know of another pattern that would look as fantastic using about 400m each of these beautiful colours that Sarah made for me? 

I get so much great advice, tips and tricks through this blogging lark (not to mention recipes, hand-dyed wool, book recommendations, inspiration, ideas, support... I could go on). Thank you, I appreciate it, and will try not to be absent for so long again.

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