Finishitis

Ssssh…
Keeping to my rule of finishing two projects before starting another one, I should be in the middle of a cast on. Instead, I’m knitting away on the sock blanket scarf. In fact, this evening, I’ve been sewing in ends.

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There is something weird going on in my brain. Maybe it is because I haven’t done the seaming of the swirl, so haven’t really earned a new cast on, but then I make the rules and I think I’m finished, so what’s that all about?

Maybe I am dealing with that rare condition that the Yarn Harlot calls finishitis. Let’s make the most of it because there are three or four projects I would love to see the back of.

Finished, yet not

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The swirl is finished, at least the knitting part of it. The joy of the final cast off after two years in progress was a lovely feeling. I spent a good hour with pins and blocking wires yesterday evening and now the spare room smells of wet wool, and is likely to do so for some days. Then the seaming: just one long seam from cuff to cuff round the back of the neck. Time to brush up on mattress stitch.

I’m now torn between starting something new or staying on the finishing off drive. I’ve bought the pattern for Ysolda’s new KAL, but I’m already a week behind, and I don’t really want a time pressure knit.

In a couple of weeks time I have a week away on a conference with work, so I need a really good project to take with me. I think, for now, I’ll keep going with some other WIPs.

Lazy Saturday

There’s a certain time of day when it becomes too late to have a morning shower. Yes, it’s called the afternoon.
It was my job this morning to wrangle the children, so I got up and made them pancakes for a (late) breakfast. I caught up on a couple of weeks of Desert Island Discs while I cooked and ate, then headed for the shower, but found the window wide open. Far too cold to go in the shower, so window shut and needing to kill time until it’s warm again.
Now I’m stuck. The momentum for getting showered and dressed has gone, the morning has gone and we are expecting visitors this afternoon.
On the knitting front, I’m now 90% of the way through the swirl. The sleeves are done, just the decreases into the front bodice left. I’ve found my next project as well: a new Ysolda KAL. It started last week, but I’m trying to avoid casting on until the swirl is done. See, there is discipline in there somewhere.
Have a lovely Saturday. I’m off for a shower… probably.

A yarn-free zone

Pens

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Although most of my communication happens through a keyboard or a phone, there are still quite a number of things I have to write by hand: cards, letters for work, notes to teachers. I find I think differently when I’m writing to when I’m typing. The physicality of it and the slowness mean the synapses in the brain fire differently and I find that creative processes are changed.

Having the correct pen for the job in hand is more pleasing to me than might be warranted by the insignificance of the task in hand. Is it the pleasing scratch of a pencil, the effortless glide of the gel pen or the springy fountain pen that is right for this particular piece of work?

When I was attending lectures regularly, I always had my set of Staedtler fineline pens. The different colours helped to organise my thoughts. The nib was fine enough for the speedy scrawling that was needed and, very often, the notes were even legible afterwards. Woe betide anyone who replaced a pen out of order in the box.

The writing implement we were first given at school was an HB pencil: yellow and black striped with a red end. I go out of my way to buy these rather than any other pencil because they anchor me back to my very first experiments in writing.  I write in pencil when I’m not sure of what I want to say. The temporary nature is important. It doesn’t matter if something is wrong: it can be rubbed away with no worries.

Fountain pens are the kings of pens. They are needy: demanding ink, objecting if left alone too long, yet have a certain grandeur. The balance of a good fountain pen can increase the pleasure of writing. I have three regular fountain pens:

  • A cheap Parker, filled with permanent black ink for work. This is the pen that gets used by wedding couples to sign their names, records baptisms and funerals in the registers. Every so often I buy a spare pen, yet only ever seem to have one.
  • A nice Parker, metal and smooth to the touch. This is my usual letter writing pen, which sits on my desk until needed. Usually it is filled with blue ink. The previous ink cartridge in it was black and it really didn’t suit the pen. It is much happier in blue. Sadly, very often this pen dries out through under-use. Deplorable, but I have a strategy for overcoming this, of which more later.
  • A Japanese pen, an Ohto Tasche, which travels with me in my handbag. This is the pen I use in meetings. It is a half length pen, only really being usable once you fix the lid on the end, at which point it becomes perfectly balanced. This is the pen that has frivolous colours of ink in. I found a set of cartridges that are pale blue, pink and purple. It has a slightly scratchy writing style, more like a pencil in feel, but I enjoy using it. The smoothness of the action when taking off the lid or replacing it is particularly pleasing.

There are other pens of course: dozens of cheap biros litter the house, (along with a few superior biros that rejoice in the name ‘rollerball’ and are actually quite nice) and there are felt pens galore here and there.

I also have a set of dip pen nibs and a heap of good intentions to figure out how to use them, but haven’t had the time. I rather sympathise with Stephen Fry, who writes in one of his books about how his enthusiasm for calligraphy waxes and wanes. He buys calligraphy sets, spends one glorious afternoon playing with them, then ends up relegating them to the back of a drawer somewhere until they are unusable.

Paper

No matter how many pens you have and how wonderful they are, there is not a lot you can do with them without paper.

I don’t think I am as discerning in my choice of paper as I am with what pen to use. It would probably be of some benefit to my handwriting to take more care over the paper.

Loose leaf paper is the nicest to write on because if you mess up a page you can just begin again. I have a big box of foolscap size, which makes a nice change to the golden ratios of A4 and A5.

Notebooks are a mixed blessing. Not only do they seem intimidating in their blankness, but they are quite tricky to write in with a decent pen unless they have the sort of spine that lies flat. I like to buy notebooks, but tend to wait to use them until I find a worthy use, so I have a little stash that probably won’t ever run out.

Get to the point

I did have a reason for writing about stationery. Last year, in late February, I discovered this site: Lettermo. The challenge is:

  1. In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.
  2. Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.

I’m inclined to take up the challenge this year, since I was too late last year. In preparation, I’ve been assessing my store of stationery items. The missing ingredients to the whole challenge are people to write to and things to say. Without either of those, the challenge will fall rather flat.

If you would like to receive a letter as part of the Lettermo challenge this year, then leave a comment including a topic or two you would like me to write about. Don’t put your address in the comment (unless you really don’t care about it being online). You can probably figure out how to send me a more private message if you look at the about page, (which I have just had to compose).

In which I go to Yarndale 2014

Having enjoyed Yarndale so much in 2013, I booked to go again in the autumn. My friend Daisy rather conveniently came to visit the week of Yarndale, so we went together.  She’s blogged at rather greater length and with more pictures than me.

The evening before, I did a  thorough analysis of my stash, looking at strengths, weaknesses and gaps. I concluded that I definitely don’t need more 4ply/sock yarn, and probably not any more lace-weight, but any other weight would be reasonable to buy.

The thing is… I’m really good at buying sock yarn. I know what I like, what makes a good yarn and what is good value. I decided that the way to make it not a pointless purchase was to er… buy in greater quantity.

Here’s the sock-weight yarn I bought:

The one on the left is a crochet kit for this scarf. The middle yarn is 200g of Crazy Zauberball: I’m thinking a shawl for this. The right hand yarn is some of the new yarn base from the Knitting Goddess, who is very persuasive in a gentle way. The old KG sock yarn was 75% merino 25% nylon and I love it. The new one uses British wool: partly BFL, partly undeclared along with the nylon. It has the advantage of not crossing the Atlantic to Peru to be spun, but it is, naturally, not as soft as the merino. I’ll just have to knit it and see if I like it. These may well be quite plain, long socks.

Here is the other weight yarn I bought, according to the original plan:

yarnroving

100g of Knitting Goddess roving. I used some of this last year to make my sister’s hat and I rather covet one for me too.

I need a more detailed plan next time I go to buy yarn. I don’t have the experience to buy “a sweater’s worth of yarn”, as I have heard others talk about buying. I need to have a specific pattern in mind before committing to that amount of yarn.

In the afternoon, we did a short course on Latvian knitting, in which we learned some twined braiding, to be used on mitten cuffs. It wasn’t an amazing course for a variety of logistical reasons, but it was interesting and I made this:

Braid sampler
Braid sampler

In general, Yarndale has the advantage of being very focussed (unsurprisingly) on yarn, without the beading, sewing and papercraft that clogs up other local option of the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate. The venue worked much better this year and I really enjoyed it.

2014 FO and WIP round-up

I think most of these links will only work if you have a Ravelry account. If you knit and don’t have an account, I highly recommend it.

What did I finish in 2014?

  • Handwarmers for my sister – finished on January 2nd (a late Christmas present
  • Stranded Advent Scarf – finished on January 23rd
  • Socks for Toby and some more squares on the great big sock yarn scarf. These were both for the 2014 Winter Ravellenics
  • Two (1,2)pairs of socks for Sock Madness
  • A hat for me
  • Ysoldas’s Mystery KAL shawl
  • My portable knitting project: Trillian, a small triangular scarf made of sock yarn (no picture of it finished, but it is often round my neck).
  • Socks for Sock Sniper
  • The big Auction Socks of DOOM

What do I have on the needles and what is the likelihood of completion?

  • The Swirl (50% complete). Very likely to finish the knitting. The seaming might get procrastinated.
  • The Sock blanket scarf (60% complete). Now too big to carry round as a portable knitting project, but too small to be finished. Slim chance of finishing any time soon.
  • The amigurumi project. I’ve lost interest in this. I have an elephant and half a turtle. Needs bringing to a close before I start another crochet project.
  • Some camouflage lace socks (first sock nearly done).  Highly likely to be finished. These were put aside in order to do the great big auction socks of DOOM. It was a toss-up as to whether to finish these before the swirl, but the swirl is definitely winter knitting, so these can wait.
  • Some plain socks using the Fish Lips Kiss Heel – always nice to learn a new heel. (Honesty here – I’ve just had to add this to Ravelry because I started it over the summer when I was in a hurry for a new project and never got round to adding it as a WIP). My current portable project: slowly but surely it will be finished.
  • The big cotton blanket from 2011. I think I’ve six squares completed. Let’s not kid ourselves: I may as well add this to the WIP list for the end of next year. The blanket needs to be bigger than the child it is destined for (or her dolls) and she is now 3.

The plan is to finish the swirl before starting anything else.

What is in the queue and ready to begin?

  • Color Affection: yarn wound, pattern printed
  • Kadril – pattern gifted by Beth in 2013, yarn chosen, needs winding
  • Knee-length socks for me. Yarn purchased, need to choose pattern
  • A crochet kit that I bought at Yarndale (impulse purchase because the yarn is so pretty)

    Beautiful Yarn
    Beautiful Yarn

Looking further ahead

  • I’d like to learn to fit a sweater properly
  • I’ve got a great big skein of laceweight that wants to be a big shawl
  • Spinning, perhaps even spinning for a particular project and then knitting it