2016 Knitting Project round-up

Here are my knitting/crochet/spinning aims from the beginning of 2016:

  • Continue with the aim of one finished object per month
    Considering I had almost three months off knitting, I’m fairly pleased with managing to complete 11 projects.  3 of the completed items were started in 2015, the others are all from 2016.
  • Knit a usable item from my handspun
    Still not quite managed this, but I’m including my mittens from unspun mawata in this category.
  • Watch more of the Craftsy classes I have bought (so tempting when they are on sale to buy them all)
    I have watched a few more of them, but still could do better. At least I haven’t bought many this year!
  • Learn a new skill (perhaps Brioche stitch)
    Still not learned Brioche.
    I did spend a week learning inkle weaving, so I’m ticking this category
    I also learnt to knit backwards
  • Spin more
    Had a go at spindle-spinning silk tops
    I’m pretty bad at keeping records of spinning. I have done some more spinning.

Here’s the gallery of finished items: 6 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of mittens, a shawl, a blanket and a toy.

Note that Ravelry links will only work if you are a Rav member (sign up: it’s free)

  1. Mittens from Knitworthy 2, project finished on New Year’s Day
  2. Sweet Coriolis socks. Using yarn from a Knitting Goddess club from years ago – one sock is mostly yellow with some grey, the other is mostly grey with some yellow. I don’t have a picture of the finished pair, but they fit very well.
  3. A non-matching pair of socks, using two patterns that I only wanted to knit once.
  4. Tour de Sock 2016 round 1
  5. Tour de Sock 2016 round 2
  6. Tour de Sock 2016 round 3: backwards knitting!
  7. My Ravellenic Games project: A Follow Your Arrow 2 shawl. Really chuffed to get this done within the time limit
  8. Crochet blanket for my beautiful niece
  9. Tour de Sock 2016 round 6: finished some time after the deadline
  10. Squad Mitts – a surprise present for a good friend
  11. Denise: a toy for de niece, from Edwards Crochet Imaginarium

Aims for 2017:

  • Complete 12 or more knitting/crochet projects
  • Complete 2 or more spinning projects
  • Keep accurate spinning records
  • Knit something from handspun
  • Brioche stitch
  • Watch more Craftsy classes

Darn it 2

It only took me nearly 4 months to get round to putting the instructions I linked to in my last post into action.

darn2 darn1

It’s a bit fiddly, and I’m not sure how comfortable it will be in a shoe, but I think it works.

2015 round-up

At the beginning of 2015 I had 6 knitting WIPs and an aim to reduce this significantly during the year. Several of the WIPs had been on the needles for some time, the oldest being from 2010. I wanted to spend more time on knitting I wanted to do, rather than being limited to what I felt I ought to be knitting.

Here’s the parade of finished objects for the year.

My target for the year was one finished project per month, which I exceeded over the course of the year, although some months did not contain a finished item. May was a particularly strong month with four completed items and September was also strong.

This year included my first real foray into knitting for other people’s babies. The Millamia blanket kit was a really good buy – I just love to knit that yarn and the miles of garter stitch was an exceedingly pleasant way to pass the time.The whimsy of including a one sixteenth scale replica of the blanket for the enclosed cuddly toy kept me entertained for ages.

The final completed project of the year: a Baby Surprise Jacket was a joy to knit as well. You can see the yarn in my post-Yarndale post, but I never got round to blogging progress. It is just such a clever design and intuitive to knit once you get into it. I  chose the yarn knowing that the baby in question has a Mum (Hi Daisy) who understands about handwash items. Definitely not a practical choice, but very soft. I had a good time picking colours that were gender-neutral but leaning towards probably being a girl. Tip for next time: put a buttonhole in the swatch so you don’t have to wait until it is finished to buy the buttons.

Of the WIPs from the beginning of 2015 I passed on one unfinished to Mum for her to finish (the crochet amigurumi). I finished four projects and have one remaining. This is the one I predicted would still be a WIP at the end of the year – the cotton square blanket, begun in 2011. I really ought to bring that to a close one way or another this year.

This year I have also finished some spinning projects, although I don’t appear to have photos of them all.

I kicked off 2016 in style by finishing my first knitting project on New Year’s Day.

Kaerlig handwarmers by Ysolda Teague
Kaerlig handwarmers by Ysolda Teague

I was particularly chuffed that the pooling of colours matched so well between the pair. This is an intriguing construction, beginning with the ribbing on the cuff, then casting on for the hand, knitting it onto the cuff as you go, then short-rowing for the thumb section.

At the beginning of the year, I once again had 6 WIPs, briefly reduced to five before starting the crochet modular scarf seen in the previous post.

Targets for 2016:

  • Continue with the aim of one finished object per month
  • Knit a usable item from my handspun
  • Watch more of the Craftsy classes I have bought (so tempting when they are on sale to buy them all)
  • Learn a new skill (perhaps Brioche stitch)
  • Spin more

Needles at the ready: onwards.

September

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.

farintotheforest
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.

Update:

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 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:

wpid-img_20150715_215438.jpg

Then I had a crack at plying it and it became this:
wpid-img_20150715_231216.jpg

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

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?

That’s a wrap

A wrap?

Well, actually, no – not a literal wrap but rather some socks, a strange square item and a blanket.

It’s all about finishing projects this year. I’ve been aiming for one a month and I’m up to date.

April came in a few days late, but the camouflage lace socks are done and dusted, a mere 11 months after their debut on the needles.

finished socks

They really did come out pretty much exactly as I hoped. The camouflage colours have pooled and swirled exactly as needed, particularly on the legs. The feet are almost striping, but not too regularly.

Here’s the nice daylight shot.

the beauty shot

The boring but beautiful garter blanket has been finished, along with a little surprise extra, meeting my arbitrary May finished item deadline, but steaming right on past the arrival of Baby Joshua, who is now over a week old. Never mind, he’ll get it before too long. There were a LOT of ends to sew in, but I think I got the hang of sewing in ends on garter stitch after a while.

blankie

Here’s the strange square object:

squarething

It is the sampler piece for Franklin Habit’s Craftsy class on Heirloom Lace Edgings: four pieces of the same edging attached in different ways: one knitted on, one in herringbone, one in whip stitch and one in a modified version of mattress stitch. It’s been a good exercise, and I could listen to Franklin all day. This item is definitely one to tuck away in a box somewhere: I can’t think of a sensible use for it. I have one more chapter in this class to listen to and work through, then onto one of the spinning classes I bought in the sale earlier in the year.

We got a Google Chromecast earlier in the year and it has really come into its own with the Craftsy classes. I watch them using the Craftsy app on the tablet, then cast the screen to the tv.

WIP update

  • No progress on the cotton square a month blanket
  • A few squares added to the sock yarn scarf
  • The crochet amigurumi project has gone into hibernation – in fact it has gone home with my Mum to be finished. I don’t like the yarn, or the tight gauge needed for stuffed objects and I can’t face making another three elephants. Happily, Mum can.
  • New item: Rachel Coopey’s Greebo socks in the Greebo colourway from Knitting Goddess. This is a same-difference set of sock yarn: one set of yellow yarn with grey bits and one set of grey yarn with yellow.
  • New item: Ianthine: A Curl from Hunter Hammersen’s book Curls. Using lace-weight handspun that I bought from Grace and Jacob when they had their shop in York. There really isn’t enough of the handspun for a full scarf, but I can’t think what else to use it for. At least with a Curl, you just keep going until all the yarn is gone and there isn’t really a right size for it. I tried a few different gauges until I found one I liked. It’s been a while since I knitted with lace-weight.

Reading update

I did pick up Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell again. I started from the beginning and got about two chapters further on than I did last time before getting bored. I will try and finish it, but I really don’t care much what happens to the characters. I’ve got the new BBC dramatization recording, so I would like to finish the book before watching that. I got sidetracked into a complete re-read of The Earth’s Children series by Jean M Auel.

Biographies are always part of my reading life: perhaps the only non-frivolous reading I regularly commit to. This spring I’ve really enjoyed Rowan’s Rule: The Biography of the Archbishop, by Rupert Shott. Now I’ve moved onto Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. The biography of Rowan Williams was very interesting from a work point of view, since it analyses events and trends from the recent past. Looking back, it puts a different perspective on it than it felt living through it at the time. I’m rather enjoying the mathematical bits of the Alan Turing book. So far, it’s a good general introduction to the state of mathematical thinking at the beginning of the 1930s, as well as a horrifying view of the lack of respect for scientific education at the time.

I also finished the complete re-read of the Yarn Harlot’s blog just after Easter and very much enjoyed it. It’s like spending time with someone you know very well. Bizarre, this blogging thing, isn’t it? The number of people whose blogs I’ve been reading for years without them knowing the first thing about me.

Spinning update

That needs a whole other post I think. There is yarn.

Two finished items

Last week on my day off I spent most of the day sourcing items for the boy’s world book day costume: he went as Asterix. Here’s the hat.

asterixhat

I had to buy a hot glue gun to make the wings. Now that is an awesome new toy.

Later in the day, I sat down with some yellow yarn and a crochet hook and came up with this:

tache

A good addition to the dressing up box. I fixed pipe cleaners to the ends of the tache, so it works rather like glasses hooking behind the ear.

In order to complete the World Book Day costume, I had to compromise on the deadline for the Fish Lips Kiss Socks, but they are done as well now, even if they weren’t ready to be opened on the significant birthday for which they were intended.

fishlips

I only have four WIPs at the moment: that must be the lowest number for some time. I have new projects all set and ready to go whenever I feel like it, but I keep being drawn to finish up the old ones. This is almost unprecedented, but I’m going with it.

I’m getting out all my WIPs today. I will sit in my chair catching up with all the tv I’ve missed this week and alternate them. The project I really want out of the way is the Amigurumi project, which I started on a whim and swiftly got bored with. I’ve a lovely crochet project waiting to go, but I won’t begin another crochet project until this one is finished. I suppose that means I had better go and work on that, since knitting and crochet projects get finished much more quickly when you work on them, rather than looking disapprovingly at them and wishing they were done.

Writing letters

This month I will be mostly writing letters.  February seems to be the month for committing to writing a real old-fashioned letter every day.

There’s Lettermo, which I have joined up with.

A month of letters 2015 participant

There is also InCoWriMo. That is, of course, International Correspondence Writing Month. Tagline: One a day, every day, February.

I’m following both the sites. Lettermo doesn’t require you to post anything on Sundays, but InCoWriMo does. I’m going to get ahead of the game and write a postcard today. I sorted out a pile of nice writing paper and some things to send to keep me going for the first few days.

On the knitting front, I’ve just covered the rug in the living room in yarn, in an attempt to work out the colour scheme for the next few rows of my sock blanket scarf.

sockblanket

Apologies for the poor light and the distraction of the rug. I was working out when I last used each yarn. You can see that there are a few that haven’t appeared since near the beginning. They’ll be coming up in the next few rows.

Oh, and here’s a link to the finished swirl, which I am snuggled up in as I type.

Finished, yet not

image

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.