Yarndale is usually the highlight of my knitting year: all my favourite websites and blogs come to life. All the yarns I know only by name can be felt as well as seen. Yarndale this year was excellent (apart from the queueing – despite having advance tickets, we queued for nearly an hour).
Once inside, it was a feast for the senses. So much colour, a few fibre animals enjoying the attentions of passers by, and much spotting of amazing creations. People seemed to have thought as I did – going to a yarn festival means wearing the yarny creation you are most proud of (I wore my Knit your Arrow 2 shawl) . My friend and I spent much of the day shamelessly commenting on the scarves and shawls and jumpers that were on display, like a constant fashion show. Each tea break meant sitting where we could see people queuing and playing guess the pattern.
This year was the first time I kept within budget – only spending what I had in my wallet – although I only managed this because I discovered I had more cash in my wallet than I had at first thought.
Here’s the haul. Quite restrained.
There’s some beautiful neutral linen, plus a whole set of linen mini-skeins. Corriedale and Manx Loughtan fibre, some new tapestry needles in the most beautiful packaging ever and a Scheepes mug. Another purchase went straight to DH to be wrapped up for Christmas, so that will have to remain untold for now.
I’m quite excited to have linen to knit with. The Mason-Dixon knitting books have patterns for linen, but I’ve never found any linen yarn before. I’m hoping it will be a summer top of some sort.
By far the most exciting thing happened on the way back to the car. We had heard rumours that Ysolda was at Yarndale and we found ourselves walking just behind her. As my friend was wearing a shawl made out of one of her kits, she turned round and noticed it. It was really nice to meet her in person and she even gamely agreed to have photos taken.
Here’s a reminder of my 2017 knitting/fibre goals.
Complete 12 or more knitting/crochet projects
Complete 2 or more spinning projects
Keep accurate spinning records
Knit something from handspun
Watch more Craftsy classes
The year started very well, with finished projects flying off the needles throughout January.
The silk mittens were completed and put into immediate use underneath the fingerless mitts I made last year. For cycling in winter, two layers of gloves are perfect. The silk mittens are quite rustic, as the gauge varies significantly depending on how thin I drafted the silk. If I were to make them again, I’d make the hand section smaller, as they feel a little loose. Having used the Knitters Handy Book of Patterns to make them, I was quite chuffed to get a comment from Ann Budd herself on my project page.
Next, I finally finished my god-daughter’s Christmas present, only a week or two late. It’s a cardigan/jacket knit in one piece, mostly plain stockinette, but with a sideways cabled border round the edge. This gave me some good practice at grafting in pattern. I’ve since received several pictures of her wearing it, so it has obviously proved popular. The yarn is a cotton-wool mix that should be fairly hard-wearing.
This next project was a first attempt at illusion knitting. The pattern appeared as one of the puzzle weeks that we take part in. Sadly, I was completely stumped by the puzzle, which you can find here, until the solution was revealed, but I decided to knit the mystery pattern anyway. I used some cheap acrylic black and white yarns that haven’t even made it onto Ravelry yet, despite being bought several years ago.
Oh the irony, when I discovered that I had knit the woolmark in a yarn that is against everything that trademark stands for.
As far as spinning goes, I’ve done a bit: turning a gorgeous braid of Merino, Shetland, Alpaca and Silk into some singles. Plying is next on the agenda. The yarn looks as if it is dark red, but it has lovely flecks of green in. I think it will end up looking heathered. I have spent today keeping my Ravelry stash up to date, but can’t really add much to the spinning records until the plying is done, when I can have a go at calculating wpi, grist etc. Perhaps one day this will be a hat.
My intention of learning brioche stitch is making progress, having cast on a swatch and nailed the basics. It really is a lot easier than I was expecting (and much easier using two colours than it would be using one). I started to look at increases and decreases, then got bored because the swatch really will never be anything other than a swatch as I’m using up scraps of yarn. One of my online friends suggests making an object instead. She may be right. Anyway, it’s a step in the right direction.
I have looked at a few Craftsy classes. The other day I watched several hours on a day I was very tired indeed. It was Stephen West on Shawlscapes. Deliciously eccentric and I learned some interesting ideas for how to change the shape of shawls.
There may have been yarn buying going on. Most for specific projects. T came to choose some yarn for a scarf and picked Stylecraft DK. Very cheap tastes! The Woosheeps gradient pack was, however, pure indulgence in a colourway called Gothling. I wonder what it will be.
As far as keeping up with my 2017 goals, I think I’ve made good progress with all of them. It would be nice to finish March with another finished item, but then I’ve cast on another new one today rather than pressing on.
Sock knitting progress has been mixed. I signed up for Sock Madness, but was defeated by the round 1 pattern, which consisted of half of every row being twisted stitches. It was an interesting fabric, but it met an end shortly after I realised I had misinterpreted the pattern and done all the gussets wrong. In the mean time, I’ve been gradually continuing with the Scrappies, using up rainbow coloured scraps from my scrap box. Using some of the Knitting Goddess yarn I got from the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show, I have started a shawl in some simple lace.
During February, I took part in an Instagram game, following yarn-related prompts each day. This got me to evaluate some of my WIPS and so I can admit that the Color Affection that I started with some gorgeous cashmere laceweight has gone to the frog pond. The colours did not have enough contrast for Color Affection so I need to find another use for them.
I’ll leave you with this morning’s work: destined to be legwarmers for a small person. Incredible how fast DK yarn knits up when you are used to fingering weight.
It feels like absolutely AGES since I last picked up the needles. I’ve been very good and tried to minimise any use of my right thumb – no sewing, knitting, spinning or crochet and minimal typing and writing. Every day I can feel that the healing is progressing more. Today I’ve hardly thought about resting it because I’ve had very few reminders of the tendonitis.
The day before I went to the doctor, I tried to open a screw-lid on a can of petrol to decant into the car. It was very tight and it aggravated the thumb to the worst pain it had been. I had to call DH to come and help me in the end.
After a couple of days of rest, I couldn’t feel any ill effects of typing so I could at least do my work. The handwriting took longer to be painless, so my great resolution of daily writing took a bit of a knock, but that is now back to normal. Yesterday I did a colouring page in my Mason-Dixon Knitter’s Colouring Book and only felt a little twinge.
This evening I am going to try knitting again, just for a little while, with plenty of breaks and hand-stretches.
The deprivation has been really annoying. I’ve spent evenings feeling twitchy and as if I’m wasting time in front of the tv with nothing to do. As I was telling one of my knitting friends about this at the school gate, I estimated that I’ve been off knitting for 3 weeks. Nope – 10 days, (I just checked my diary) but it has felt a lot longer. I think it has felt a lot longer to the people around me too! Poor children: why is Mummy so grumpy?
For the next week, I’m going to try avoiding pulling, twisting and lifting things with my right hand, as that seems to be what aggravates the tendon. Fine movements, such as flicking yarn round a needle, should be OK.
Edit to add: Alas, knitting is not possible yet. I set myself the challenge of completing 2 rounds of a sock. Round 1 was fine. Round 2 not so much.
Before Christmas, my lovely daughter was dancing with me and swung her full weight on my right thumb. I thought little of it at the time, just carried on with the day.
A month or so later I realised that the thumb was still aching on and off. One trip to the doctor later and I have come away with a diagnosis of tendonitis in the thumb. Apparently quite a common injury, but can go on a while. I’m under instructions to rest it, and treat with ibuprofen and heat.
It turns out that I use my right thumb for… everything. Getting dressed, cutting food, writing, typing, lifting, turning, shaking hands and, of course, knitting, spinning and crochet.
I have a feeling that crochet doesn’t use it as much as the others do, so hopefully I’ll be back to that before too long.
Anyone want to take a guess how long it is until I start to crack under the strain of being without my destressing mechanism?
For Christmas I was given, among other things, a copy of The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde. I came across sketchnoting a few months ago (via a link from the Bullet Journal site I think) and I’ve been following his website and reading about it.
My initial impression was that sketchnoting isn’t really that ground-breaking, just a way of entertaining yourself while taking notes in lectures and talks. I also was sceptical about whether I could draw well enough to make it worthwhile trying.
Today I went to a day conference on rural ministry, over the border in the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales. With four half hour talks in the morning and two seminars in the afternoon, there was plenty of scope for trying out sketchnoting.
Of the six talks, here’s the one that looks most like a sketchnote. I still wonder if I could have captured more using traditional notes, but I do think I’ve got the most important things down in a way that makes sense to me. More importantly, I found it easy to concentrate, didn’t fall asleep and found that the quality of my listening was better: I was listening with the question, “what are the most important things I’m hearing” foremost in my mind.
My conclusion is that sketchnoting may well be a fruitful way forward. It relies on the people speaking being well organised and flagging up verbally what they consider to be the most important areas. I think it would be very difficult to sketchnote a poor speaker. I will continue to explore the concept (including finishing reading the book – just chapter 7 to go, which is the chapter that concentrates on how to draw) and see how it goes.
In the past year I’ve really got attached to my notebook. It’s a Moleskine 5″ by 7″ with lined pages. Being a Moleskine, the paper is too flimsy for fountain pens but I use it with a Staedtler triplus ball medium and I’ve found it really useful. Since last February, when I started it, I’ve used 181 pages out of 240.
I keep my master to-do lists in there.
I use a page per day, when I’ve got a day at my desk, to keep track of all the things I should be doing.
It travels with me to meetings and I write down all my action points in there, so I know there’s only one place to look.
I’m using a version of the bullet journal system (including
I keep notes from lectures and sermons in there
the children have used it to draw in when they are bored
I’m now at the point of deciding whether to get another Moleskine or switch to a different notebook. I’ve got a Leuchterm A5 with a dot grid for my longer pieces of writing and reflection, but I think it is too big to use for a notebook that travels everywhere (the Moleskine is just that bit narrower and it makes the difference). I also picked up a Rhodiarama, so I could have a notebook that would take fountain pen ink, but it is the same size as the Leuchterm and I’m not sure that fountain pen would be very practical in the places I use my travelling notebook. The Church seems to have something against the idea of providing tables to lean on in any kind of taught session or meeting.
In other news
There was also a really beautiful window in the seminar room I was in. I tried drawing it in a quieter moment, but it didn’t work out well. Good thing I had my camera handy. There were some green and pink parts to the window that you can’t see in the photo that added to the perfection.
I continued with my crochet scarf during the talks – another way to stop me falling asleep is to have a knitting or crochet project that I know off by heart (or nearly) in my hands. Progress: 5/90. I need a spreadsheet to keep track of which colour combinations I have used.
I’ve decided that 2016 will be a year of writing. Quite what that looks like I’m not yet sure but don’t hold your breath that there will suddenly be more frequent posts on the blog. My plan is to write something, somewhere every day. Some days this will be covered by work: for example I usually write 1000 words per week for a Sunday morning sermon. I’m also trying to be more intentional about doing theological reflection as I’ve finally come round to the idea that it might occasionally be useful. Blogging about knitting is also included, as well as writing letters. It might include creative writing or calligraphy.
In October I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat,Pray,Love fame). It’s a fabulous book about creativity and I can’t recommend it highly enough. There is one concept that has stuck with me particularly from the book: being a disciplined half-ass as opposed to a lazy perfectionist. Creativity is stifled by our own propensity to think that we are not good enough. Writing something, whether it is good or not, without self-censorship on the grounds of being rubbish is the key to getting better at writing. I see that every week as I’m writing sermons for work. There’s no real way of getting around the fact that, come Sunday morning, I have to be standing up talking about Jesus. This happens, whether or not I am actually happy with what I have prepared. I have discovered that there is very little correlation between how happy I am with the sermon and how happy other people are. (They tend to like the short ones and the ones with funny bits). The discipline of writing and writing and writing, week after week, means that I suffer far less from the crippling lack of self-esteem and writer’s block that I used to be plagued with in the early days. Remind me of this at 6am tomorrow morning when I am staring at the screen in despair.
That will have to do for now. I have a date with the family at a Chinese restaurant. My daughter has just enquired whether it is bonfire night tonight. I think this is because the last time we went out after dark it was bonfire night, so her expectations are set accordingly. She is now changing out of her wellies and putting her torch away.
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.
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.
My death came at the hands of yogaknot on September 24th as well.
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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 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.
Here’s the strange square object:
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.
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.
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.
That needs a whole other post I think. There is yarn.