Sketchy

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.

Drawing arrows works well
Drawing arrows works well

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.

Small but perfectly formed
Small but perfectly formed

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.

A little bit of WIP

This evening I decided to tackle a new project, which has been queued up for 15 months. At Yarndale in 2014 I bought a scarf kit from the now sadly discontinued Natural Dye Studio to make a Plankton Scarf.
It’s a modular project, which fills the gap left by the epic sock yarn scarf, but using specific yarn, so not diminishing the sock yarn scraps in any way. This may become problematic at a later date, but is fine for now, (one can always buy bigger boxes).
The children very helpfully assisted in winding the yarn before bedtime, then I perused the pattern before jumping in and making the first motif.
There’s a couple of challenges:

The pattern is written for 8 colours, but the kit only contains 5, so there’s no compunction to follow the very detailed chart of colour options at the end of the pattern, but I’ll have to come up with my own colour design instead.

There’s one instruction that has me baffled, which is to do with the chain stitches at the beginning of the rounds. How do you “crochet chain stitches into a gap”? Chain stitches just are where they are as far as I’ve ever known. The intended effect seems to be anchoring the chain stitches slightly to the rear of where they would naturally form. More experimentation needed. My crochet tutor (aka Mum) is popping by for a visit tomorrow so I shall consult her and see what she says.

Anyway, I’ve got one finished motif with ends sewn in ready for blocking.

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One down, 89 to go.

I think I’ve found an error in the written instructions, although the chart is correct. 9dcs on round 5 rather than 8.

Here’s the latest on the yellow and grey socks. They’ve been frogged once and I’m not sure whether they won’t succumb again, as I’m not overly impressed with the pooling on the leg.

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The blue and white sock is progressing nicely, albeit slowly. I’ve just tackled two colour purling for the heel flap.

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That’s all the active WIPs at the moment. There are inactive ones too, but they’ve made no progress since the last update.

Finished objects will follow in due course.

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 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).

fairisleleaves

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.

beadedsock

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.

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.

He is risen. I have fallen… asleep

When you are a vicar, Holy Week is a really big deal. This year I’ve upped the number of services slightly, plus we’ve had a big theme of exploring creative prayer during Lent. I’ve loved pretty much every minute of it, but it has been full on.
Today, after two services and a home communion, I kicked my email inbox into a bit of shape, did some planning ahead for the next two weeks then, at quarter to five, I stopped. I relaxed, snuggled up on the sofa with the girl, and let things go.
It turns out that I’m quite tired and have been running fueled on adrenaline for quite a while. It feels very good indeed to relax, although now I have no motivation to make anything happen. I’ve sat in a chair all evening reading about knitting, (yes, still the yarn harlot; yes, I have a problem; no, I am not stopping because I’m at 2012 now, so the end is in sight), unable to make decisions about what to knit, drink or watch.
Of those three things, the only thing I managed to sort out was what to drink: whisky and ginger wine. To my knowledge, it’s the first time I’ve tried that combination, but my Dad drinks it. I think he calls it a Whisky Mac. I’m fairly sure that Mum doesn’t let him use the decent whisky for it, but I’m a whisky snob so there is no poor whisky in the house, just the nice bottle of Tobermory I got in December. I spent a happy couple of minutes tasting various ratios until I got something that was sweet but with a good kick.

On the knitting front, since I last posted I have been creating more stripes on the baby blanket: boring, garter stitch, still lovely colours, nearly at the halfway point.

I’m hoping for a decent amount of actual knitting time this week, but now I’m going to head for bed with a book. I’m wondering about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. I bought it when it first came out because it was such a beautiful book, but got distracted about a third of the way through. I’m inclined to try again and if it doesn’t suit this time then it is going to the charity shop. That tome is too big to be purely ornamental.

Daylight

It really is true that you get better photos of knitted stuff when you take them in daylight.

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That’s more like the intensity. Observant readers will notice that I haven’t actually knitted any more, just turned it over to photograph the other side.

We had a little trip to A&E yesterday. It turns out it was nothing to worry about, but the nice people on the 111 line couldn’t be sure without me taking the small person in to be seen. Do you know how long we had to wait?

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Three rounds of a lace sock.
That isn’t long at all and we were by no means an urgent case. I love the NHS.

In other news, the Easter holidays have started. I have escaped upstairs for some quality alone time.

P.S. I’m onto 2007 in the great Yarn Harlot reread.

Colour

Today I am enthralled by colour, the brighter the better.

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This is quite possibly the simplest knitting that I have ever attempted, but the irregularity of the stripes is keeping me interested.

That’s not actually the colour that really has me gripped. No, that would be this:

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Only of course I’m blogging late at night so the colour looks nothing like that. It is a towel of the the deepest, brightest magenta and belongs to my three year old daughter. She told us she was too big for baby towels, (she had a point: they only reached her legs if she curled up into a ball) so Phil let her choose her own towel at the supermarket. She picked this one… and now I have towel envy. It has that fluffy new towel softness going on as well.
In other news, the camouflage lace socks are coming along. I now have one whole sock and a cuff. This finishing off of knitted stuff is gripping, (for me at least).

Weak

Yesterday I started another read-through of the Yarn Harlot’s blog. This is a really bad idea for many reasons, mostly linked to my responsibilities as wife, mother and office-holder, plus the undesirability of prolonged sleep-deprivation, the twitchiness of my left eye and the lack of any real plan for work tomorrow.

Still, here’s a lovely box of wool that is gradually turning into a blanket. The colours are much more vibrant than this in real life.

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I also have a deep urge to cast on something big and complicated in laceweight wool.
It is possible that the Yarn Harlot’s attitude to life and knitting is somewhat catching. I’m hoping the read-through won’t be a complete one. It was ok the first time because she had only been blogging for 4 years. Now it is 11 years.