Yarndale 2015

I went off to Yarndale for the Saturday, this time with a friend from my local knitting group. They’ve really got the hang of the logistics now. We didn’t have to queue much at all, except when it got really busy at lunchtime.

Once again, my little corner of the internet came to life. I saw and touched a lot of things I’ve been wondering at buying online. There were examples of various patterns I’ve been reading about (even a Fox Paws attached to a stand). All in all it was a delight.

The one down side to the day was that there weren’t any classes or workshops that I wanted to take. They were all either beginner level or just not making anything I wanted to learn. I spent a little more time than previously just sitting and knitting in the Knit n Natter zone, as a break from the midday chaos of the stands.

It was charming to meet a fellow sniper (and, it turns out, blog-reader) in real life, along with her Mum. Hi Alendra!

There seemed to be a greater proportion of stalls selling completed items this year, but still loads selling yarn and fibre. I bought a few things: only one batch of yarn, but quite a bit of fibre (hover over images for details).

There were a couple of other things that I’ve handed to DH for my Christmas present, so  I’ll try to forget them.

I was being quite strict with my budget, so didn’t buy the gorgeous gradient yarns that I found on the Woo Sheeps stand.  Maybe in the new year.


September the 1st is a fixture in my calendar: Sock Sniper begins. I’ve already written a little, but wasn’t able to disclose much in my last post. My heart sank when I discovered I had a Canadian target. This would be the year I discovered the truth of whether Canada Post lives up to its reputation.

It did.

My socks were completed on September 4th and posted on September 5th. The made landfall in Canada on September 9th, but didn’t reach their destination until the 24th. I believe it was Canadian customs, rather than Canada Post itself that was the real culprit, but it was infuriating to watch the tracking websites show no update for weeks on end.

Sniper Socks
Sniper Socks

My death came at the hands of yogaknot on September 24th as well.

Lethal Weapon 2015
Lethal Weapon 2015

In between posting and receiving death socks, I busied myself with a secret project that I must get round to posting to France. Then I decided that I really should do some serious work on one of my long-term WIPs.

The sock yarn blanket scarf has been on the needles for 5 years. It made steady progress until it became too big to carry around in a bag and work on during meetings. Every so often, usually for the olympics, I would set a target of knitting a handful of squares. Looking back at photos, I can see that it reached the designated halfway point before February this year, then I realised that there were ‘only’ about 70 squares left to knit and it sounded achievable.  By mid-September I decided that I wanted to wear it to Yarndale, so I knuckled down and knitted as much as possible. In the last few days leading up to Yarndale I had about 40 squares left to do, plus the applied i-cord border to knit and the ends to sew in from the last few sessions.

I called time on the project at midnight the evening before Yarndale. All the squares were knitted, all the ends were sewn in, but there were still about 14 edge squares without a border. So close. I took it to Yarndale anyway, where I showed it to Joy at The Knitting Goddess, since it is approximately 50% her yarn.  She liked it (and you may see some of these pictures on her blog in the next week or two). I’m keeping the rest of the Yarndale stuff for another post.

After a few days, I finished the final bit of the edging and took it outside for some beauty shots.

This, then, is a history of my sock-knitting up until now. It contains at least one square from every sock (or glove) I have ever knitted. It began only 3 years into my knitting career, when I was concerned that my sock-yarn scraps were getting out of hand. With hindsight, I can see they weren’t out of hand at all. At that time I had knitted only 7 pairs of socks and 2 pairs of gloves. Now, it is well over 50 pairs, so there’s a little more variation as it gets up the blanket.

The question remains: will I actually wear it? It’s a little cumbersome for regular wear, but it is lovely wrapped around the shoulders in the evenings.

Now, of course, I need another sock yarn scrap project. I’m not going to do another of these exactly the same because it lost its usefulness as a travelling project when it got too big.  Perhaps I will make squares of about 25 little squares joined together, then seam them all into a bigger item.

WIP round-up

  • I have started the Snow under Cedar sock. Lovely braided cast-on, some colourwork with beading. The next thing to do is another braid, then onto the main colour chart.
  • No progress on the cotton square a month blanket
  • Still unsure what to do with the Greebo socks. Still probably looking at a restart
  • No progress on the Curl
  • No progress on Color Affection
  • New item: pink socks for the little girl. Last week (when I was in the throes of knitting the scarf) she demanded I make her some pink socks. I promised that when I had finished another project, I would. I’m using scraps from various socks for these. So tiny: only 44 stitches at the ankle, so they shouldn’t take long.

Knitting plans

A friend (and blog-reader – Hi Daisy) has a rather large bump, so I need to knit something for her. Are you bothered about it being a surprise, or would you like to see it growing? I have yarn and a plan.

I’ve bought Ysolda’s pattern collection, Knitworthy 2, and I’m very tempted by the gloves.

Perhaps it is time to bite the bullet and make some knee-high socks. I now have three pairs of skeins set aside for knee-highs. I’ve even bought a nice dress for work that might go with them.

What have I been reading?

  • The latest in the Lord Peter Wimsey books, originally by Dorothy L Sayers, but continued by Jill Paton Walsh. It’s called The Late Scholar. I rather enjoyed it, particularly the references to earlier books in the series.
  • Final Witness by Simon Tolkien. No guesses what made me pick this one up in the library! Simon is JRRT’s grandson. Very different writing style and subject matter, but a cracking read. I love stories where it is not obvious who is telling the truth and you have to try to figure it out along with the main characters.
  • On the road bike: the search for the nation’s cycling soul by Ned Boulting. I’m familiar with Ned from ITV’s Tour de France coverage. This was an entertaining parade of anecdotes and stories of cycling in the UK. The world of cycling seems much the same as many other niche interests in terms of the passion of those involved in organising it (and the resentment aimed at those who either don’t understand it or seem to have betrayed it).
  • Who Governs Britain? by Anthony King, Millennium Professor of British Government at the University of Essex. This is a pelican introduction, so short, well-structured and readable. I bought it before the election to see if it would help me to figure out what is going on.  Any large organisation or institution becomes unwieldy as it grows. This is taken to extreme in government. Each chapter deals with a group having more or less power and influence on government, exploring the limits of their power and drawing together all the strands of influence. I’m left wondering how the country functions at all.
  • Currently I’m reading Bill Bryson’s Mother Tongue: English And How It Got That Way.
  • For work, I’m also reading Memories, Hopes and Conversations by Mark Lau Branson, and St Teresa’s The Interior Castle

The state of the stash

Yarn Weight Total metres Total Grams
Cobweb 240 30
Lace 3102.1 303
Light Fingering 1797.3 425
Fingering 15992.4 4392
Sport 1161 510
DK 2526.2 1395
Worsted 482.8 240
Aran 1502 890
Bulky 919.1 620
Total 27722.9 8805

Thanks to Ravelry, I can look at how much I have quite easily. Last time I did a stash inventory in 2013, I had 8.67kg of yarn. Looks like I’ve been remarkably consistent and only added less than 150g of yarn since then. This is not quite true: I’ve just gone through and excluded all my scraps and leftover balls from my stash, thus bringing down the totals considerably. When it comes to yardage, I’ve added about 2 miles of yarn to the stash. (When I did this round-up in 2013, I converted all the distances to Miles, chains, yards and feet. Can’t be bothered to do that today, so an approximation will have to do).

Finished item parade

It’s been a busy summer so far as knitting and crochet go. The spinning is on hiatus, shortly to be resumed as my diary settles down to what passes for normal. The boy goes back to school tomorrow and, by the end of the week, I should have time to myself during the day without being interrupted every three seconds (ish) by a small girl demanding to attach stickers to my clothes, or wanting to play. I’ve taken as much time off work this summer as I can to spend with the kids, but I am clearly not meeting their standards.

Parade of finished objects

Not a large parade, but more than one item, so deserving of the term I believe.

This was my summer holiday knitting, although it is, of course, not knitting at all, but crochet. Fingerless gloves, which wended their way to my Mother, ready for her 60th birthday. I have it in mind to make at least two more pairs of these. These are my August finished item.

Dragonscale gloves
Dragonscale gloves

With September comes Sniper Season. Here’s my first shot, aimed far into the West. I posted these on September 5th, which may even be record time for me. I usually manage to knit them within the first week. 4 days is a time I’m quite pleased with.

Sniper Socks
Sniper Socks

Next comes an item which both is and isn’t a finished item. I’ve completed the Far Into the Forest first sock, but I’ve had enough of the pattern, so I’m not knitting another one.

Far into the Forest sock

Instead I have cast on for another colourwork sock, using the remaining yarn and another pattern: Snow Under Cedars.

Finally, I don’t think this is a finished object, but it was one of the highlights of the summer:

j knitting
J begins her knitting career

My daughter showed an interest in learning to knit. We got some suitably pink yarn and settled down together. She loves learning the knitting rhyme and saying it with me, she’s getting the hang of the movements that go with it but, she would much rather go freestyle. We’ve had a few incidences of a great big tangly mess at the end of a knitting session. Still, she’s nearly caught up with her brother in the length of knitting she’s managed.

WIP round-up

  • No progress on the cotton square a month blanket
  • No further squares added to the sock yarn scarf
  • Rachel Coopey’s Greebo socks in the Greebo colourway from Knitting Goddess.  I’m halfway up one foot, but they are turning out rather large. No-one I’ve shown it to has expressed an interest in wearing it. May need a re-start in a smaller size
  • Ianthine: A Curl from Hunter Hammersen’s book Curls. Still on 2nd or 3rd repeat. Needs some good autumn tv viewing.
  • New item: Color Affection, using some cashmere lace-weight. It’s going well, but the yarn is quite fragile and keeps breaking. This was not helped by it having been nibbled round the edges by a mouse in my knitting bag.

Reading round-up

This has been the summer of the big trashy re-read, mostly on Kindle.

I have read:

  • All the Twilight novels again, plus The Host
  • The Stieg Larsson Millennium Trilogy
  • Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour bookstore
  • Gail Carriger’s Alexia Tarabotti series: Soulless, Heartless, Timeless, Blameless, Changeless. These were a re-read of books I have previously got from the library. They are steam-punk with werewolves and vampires: really funny. I also read the short story prequel The Curious Case and the series Etiquette and Espionage, Curtsies and Conspiracies, Waistcoats and Weaponry, which are aimed more at the young adult market. There’s some crossover of characters. I’ve so far managed not to buy the other series, which is set later on, but it is only a matter of time.

Less trashy reading that has been accomplished is as follows:

  • Jesus Feminist – Surprisingly non-cringe-worthy. A good approach to cutting through all the patriarchal baggage that the Church has gathered over the years, without turning towards the man-hating end of the spectrum.
  • Alan Turing: The Enigma – interesting biography, but it did get tedious in places
  • Lingo: A language-spotter’s guide to Europe – fascinating. Short chapters, each about a different language.
  • Racing Through the Dark: the autobiography of David Millar – I’ve become fascinated by the stories of the dark side of professional cycling. This one is no-holds-barred, introspective and penitent.
  • The new Patrick Gale novel: A Place Called Winter. Heartbreaking, with an undercurrent of menace.

There might be more, but this is what I can remember.


I’ve also read The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District, by James Rebanks. A real insight into the production of wool and lamb in this country. Sobering at times, but also inspiring.


Tour de Fleece latest


The Suffolk skein is washed and hanging out to dry. Tomorrow I’ll try and figure out how thick it is. Somewhere between DK and worsted I think.
I’ve moved onto some Black Welsh Mountain. The fibre feels a lot harsher than the Suffolk. I’m spinning it quite thin, doing a lot of checking against the sample to try and keep it even. Harder than with a thicker yarn.

Tour de Fleece Day 10?

I am up to date with my commitment to spin at least 10 minutes for each day that the riders ride, although a couple of times it has carried over into the next day for a double stint when work and family commitments required.

The soft creamy fluff developed first into this:


Then I had a crack at plying it and it became this:

The top bobbin is a normal 2 ply. The bottom one is the leftover, Andean plied.
Apologies for rubbish night time shots.

Did I mention I finished the socks as well?

I’m discovering, with the help of my team mates in team Awesome Already, that the trick to completing projects is actually sitting down and working on them. Who knew?

Tour de Fleece Day 3

Day 3: more creamy white wool spun. If you want pictures, look at the day 2 post and imagine a bit more.
The yarn I washed yesterday has come out really very nicely indeed. Despite making a complete guess of how much ply twist to put in, it’s very nearly balanced. It is a very interesting yarn in terms of thickness, being somewhat variable.

Very much enjoying the bicycling on TV. Hurrah for Chris Froome! I read his autobiography last month: fascinating story.

Tour de what now?

If the first few months of this year have been all about finishing things up, the last month has… er not.  Now back up to 6 unfinished objects.

I have two extra pairs of socks on the needles, both part of Tour de Sock, which I was determined to take part in only as a cheerleader, rather than competing, this year. The stage two pattern was a new technique for me: two colours (which I have done before), but including increases and decreases (this was the new bit).


I was knitting along at my usual snail-like pace, with a new target of hoping to finish them before the end of the Tour (beginning of August), when Otilde showed a picture of a possible combination of yarn and beads for stage four. I made a rash, tongue-in-cheek, comment along the lines of that being a terrible combination and she ought to get rid of them in my direction. The next thing I know, there is a parcel of yarn and beads on the doormat and I am committed to: “cast on with the rest of us when the pattern comes out, and do your level best to finish it before the deadline”.

Day one of the pattern was a day off, so I knuckled down and had this by the end of the day.


Day two was not so productive, but I now have a heel flap and turn.

Day three (today) is for casting on the second sock, (and catching up with work). I’ll be happy if I have two or three repeats of the beading done by the end of the day.

In other news, the Tour de France begins today, so that means that the Tour de Fleece begins too. The premise: the riders ride, we spin. I’m setting myself a beginner target of spinning for 10 minutes per day every day that the riders are active.

I’ve begun to spin some undyed Wensleydale yarn, so that is the first thing to get on with.



The Jacob Humbug spinning project was finished in April. I’ve got about 125g of a 2ply yarn, of somewhat variable thickness. The singles rested for quite a while before plying, so it was quite tricky to figure out how much to ply. The tricks I learned last year at Wingham Wool work rather rely on the singles being still quite full of energy. Anyway, I went ahead and tried to overply it. One skein is completely balanced and one is very slightly… underplied.

I’ve found some useful nails outside the kitchen, under the overhanging roof, for hanging skeins to dry.  I have no idea what the nails are actually meant for, but they do the trick. They are sheltered enough that, even if it rains, the skeins still dry.

The two skeins are awaiting inspiration for their final destiny. They might be a little too tough to be worn next to the skin. Possibly a cushion cover or tea-cosy?

Next, in the spinning odyssey, I had a birthday and my generous friends and relations added a little more to my spinning wheel fund. I had a look at my bank account and discovered that I had enough to put in an order with Gill at Sanday Spinners. Here’s what happened next (mouse-over for captions):

I began to spin, using some bright red BFL that I bought from Grace and Jacob while they still had a bricks and mortar shop in York.

I managed to spin a variety of thicknesses, just by changing the tension and speed.


I’m not yet at the point of being able to keep spinning the same thickness for more than a few yards, but getting better each time I try.

I spun up a little onto two bobbins, plied it, washed it and set it to dry. Then I knitted it!


The two bobbins I had spun weren’t evenly loaded, so I had some left over on one of them, but only a few yards. I thought I might as well have a shot at Navajo plying, having seen a few videos of people doing it. Now that’s fun (I didn’t have much control over it)!


The next spinning project is to keep doing  a few more samples, aiming for consistency over several yards.

If you remember, I have elected to have spinning as my personal project for a leadership course I’m doing with work this year. The next residential is in a few weeks time so I ought to have made some  more progress to show them.