I went off to Yarndale for the Saturday, this time with a friend from my local knitting group. They’ve really got the hang of the logistics now. We didn’t have to queue much at all, except when it got really busy at lunchtime.
Once again, my little corner of the internet came to life. I saw and touched a lot of things I’ve been wondering at buying online. There were examples of various patterns I’ve been reading about (even a Fox Paws attached to a stand). All in all it was a delight.
The one down side to the day was that there weren’t any classes or workshops that I wanted to take. They were all either beginner level or just not making anything I wanted to learn. I spent a little more time than previously just sitting and knitting in the Knit n Natter zone, as a break from the midday chaos of the stands.
It was charming to meet a fellow sniper (and, it turns out, blog-reader) in real life, along with her Mum. Hi Alendra!
There seemed to be a greater proportion of stalls selling completed items this year, but still loads selling yarn and fibre. I bought a few things: only one batch of yarn, but quite a bit of fibre (hover over images for details).
There were a couple of other things that I’ve handed to DH for my Christmas present, so I’ll try to forget them.
I was being quite strict with my budget, so didn’t buy the gorgeous gradient yarns that I found on the Woo Sheeps stand. Maybe in the new year.
September the 1st is a fixture in my calendar: Sock Sniper begins. I’ve already written a little, but wasn’t able to disclose much in my last post. My heart sank when I discovered I had a Canadian target. This would be the year I discovered the truth of whether Canada Post lives up to its reputation.
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).
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
Seems a long time since Sock Sniper started, and indeed it is 2 months. Things got quite tense in the last weeks. I had no idea where my third pair of socks to finish were coming from and it was weeks before they arrived. By that point we were down to the final three: me and two Americans. The day the socks arrived, I heard on the forums that the socks knitted for me had been posted, so there wasn’t a moment to lose. The person who had started the socks had only knitted the first leg, so there was a fair bit left to do.
How fast can I knit a sock and a half? Well, I started at 11pm on Wednesday evening, knitted for an hour, then went to bed. On Thursday, I knitted all day (apart from feeding the children) and kitchenered the toe at 2.30am on Friday. They went in the post on Friday morning and I went home to rest my eyes and hands.
This week I got back from a few days away, fully expecting to have been ‘killed’, but the socks didn’t arrive until Friday morning, the same day as the socks I knitted arrived in Louisiana, USA. I was killed 5 or 6 hours before the other person, but it was called as a tie by our commander in chief, since it was the same postal day. Cue much rejoicing. Now I am waiting eagerly for the prize to arrive. People keep asking me what I am going to do with 20 skeins of sock yarn. I’m guessing there will be a few people with warmer feet over the next few years. I wonder what else I can knit with sock yarn?
When you get a lovely prize like this I think it is nice to share. So, leave a comment saying what you have done to deserve a free skein of sock yarn and in a few weeks (when the yarns have arrived in the post), I’ll choose the comment that amused or touched me most and post you a skein of yarn.
Do you want to see the socks that killed me?
Aren’t they a glorious colour?
I must figure out sometime just how many pairs of socks I’ve knitted and sent round the world. It’s quite a few now.
In my last post at the end of Blog Week, I mentioned that one of my plans for the next year is to end up with less yarn in the stash. In order to do that, I need a baseline to work from. I spent an afternoon with my Ravelry stash, bringing it up to date, and I have some figures to play with.
Incidentally, did you know you can download a spreadsheet of your stash? Just press the excel logo on the top right of the stash page.
It is difficult to know whether it will be more appropriate to look at the stash in terms of length or weight, so I have both here. Obviously, using a thick yarn up will have a greater impact on the weight, rather than the yardage and using a thin yarn will have the opposite effect.
In total, in my stash, I have 8.67 kg of yarn, which comes out as 15 miles, 68 chains, 18 yards and 6 inches. (I do like the imperial system for measurements of length, although for small weights I prefer metric – see bottom of post for a little reminder of how it works).
Of this total, a little over half (4.5kg; 8m 48ch 17yds) has been designated for a particular project and a fair proportion of this (1.9kg; 1m 78ch 17yds) is attached to projects that I have already started.
Just over a fifth of my stash consists of leftovers (most of which is sock leftovers that I am working through gradually and incorporating them into my mitred square scarf).
2.87kg (4m 55ch) of my stash is not yet allocated to any project.
So there we have it. I’ll go through my stash next year again and see what the difference is.
My knitting this month is consistently square. As well as continuing with the mitred square scarf, I’ve revived the 2011 KAL blanket that I’m doing in some cotton from Texere Yarns. I can’t remember what made me shelve it in the first place and I’m quite enjoying it. The group used the patterns from a KAL on bernat.com for the first square each month, then added a second, optional, square from a variety of sources. I had both squares for January and February and part of the first March square when I stopped. I have now finished the first March square, started the second one and added another couple of inches to the January square to make it, well… square. When first knitting it, I was a little optimistic about how far it would stretch!
I was very chuffed to discover that I had won a contest this week. I entered the Sanday Spinners blog week competition and was the only correct entry. I’m looking forward to receiving my carbon fibre needles in a few days.
Today ( search 4KCBWDAY2 to find other participants), the brief is to describe a mascot project.
Your task today is to either think of or research a project that embodies that house/animal. It could be a knitting or crochet pattern – either of the animal itself or something that makes you think of the qualities of that house. […] Whatever you choose, decide upon a project and blog about how and why it relates to your house/creature. You do not have to make this project! It is simply an exercise in blogging about how you come to decide upon what projects to make. Try and blog about the journey which inspiration and investigating patterns, yarns, stitches, (etc) can often guide you through.
My initial thought, which would have been an easy post, was to choose Cookie A’s Monkey socks. I like Cookie’s designs, I have the book they are in (or could very easily download the original pattern from Knitty for free) and I’m not exactly low on sock yarn either. That doesn’t really meet the brief. Time to think of something more challenging.
Most of the yarn I buy is bought on a whim: single skeins of lovely sock yarn or lace-weight. They are all just waiting for the right pattern to come along. The more expensive the yarn, the less likely it is to end up as socks. Feet deserve a treat, but there is a limit. I’m heading towards a shawl-type project instead, and wanting to use up some of the stash. I’ve made one shawl, one lace-weight stole and one cowl for me to wear. I would enjoy a non-traditional construction, or some new techniques.
Here are some of the fancier yarns I’m looking to put to good use in a project.
This is some Malabrigo sock yarn, bought at Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show and waiting for the perfect pattern.
Here’s some beautiful lace-weight 2-ply that I picked up in York when I needed to make up the amount I was purchasing to enough to use a credit card. 260 yards
More laceweight – a bigger skein (870 yards). Another Harrogate purchase.
So, here we have three options for yarn to use, of slightly different weight and yardage.
The next stage is to hit the pattern section of ravelry and play with the search options. Never done this before? Try it. Seriously, stop reading, click here and come back when you’ve finished. You can narrow down the options in so many different ways.
I’ve gone looking for shawl-type patterns before and queued up some possibles:
Woodland Shawl – a long, thin rectangular shawl. No idea why I picked this one. It looks fairly similar to the Willow Leaf Stole that I made a few years ago. Not sure I want another long, thin shawl at the moment. NB – Free pattern
Simmer Dim – Sort of triangular/semi-circular. Brenda Dayne from Cast On has been talking about this shawl for quite a while and I rather like the look of it. Comes in lace-weight and 4-ply.
Verve – This is a circular shawl, worked flat. It came from Twist Collective Winter 2011, so its been in my queue for a while. I always read Twist and pick out my favourites, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually bought any patterns from them. This could be a first. It has bonus monkey-fodder of having picots, which I don’t think I’ve knitted before. There’ll be a lot of shawl to get through before the interesting bit though.
Windward – Not sure where this idea came from. It’s a Canadian designer, so could be via Yarn Harlot. Described as having a non-traditional construction, which I find interesting (and the description uses the word ‘contiguous’ – marvellous). It is written for Malabrigo Sock yarn, so I could actually use the correct yarn for the pattern – not what I usually do, but there’s a first for everything. So, this is definitely on the short-list.
The next option is to look at Romi Hill. The shawl I made last year is one of her patterns and I loved it. I went looking for lace-weight shawls and didn’t find one that particularly appealed, although Firebird came close.
The final option is to make a standard shawl, using a set of instructions from Laylock, and make the shawl a bit more interesting by adding a pattern. This is what I’m inclining towards for the little ball of yarn, so I can use as much of it as possible. Heart-shaped looks as if it could be quite interesting.
In conclusion, I’ve no real idea what I’m going to do, which is fairly indicative of my knitting style. However, this project will continue in the Extra Credit section of blog week. Within the main blog week there is no expectation of actually making this project – it is just an exercise to look at the process of knitting decisions. For extra credit you can decide to make the project and continue blogging throughout the year. I’ll keep you posted.
Our new house gets so much light. Having lived in a gloomy modern reinterpretation of a cottage for nearly four years (although in all other respects it was an excellent place to live), I am really rather enjoying sitting by the French windows and feeling the sun move gradually across the sky.
While waiting for the baby (who is pretty much a toddler now) to settle herself down to sleep, I have been updating my Ravelry stash with various bits and pieces I have picked up over the last few weeks. I had some assistance with this endeavour:
That collection of yarn is for my amigurumi project (including the elephant I made last week). Can you guess what it is going to be?
I mentioned a while back that I had picked up a spindle. Here’s the evidence:
I’ve got a little ball of singles from my first session at spindle-spinning and I think I’ve got about the same on the spindle now. Time to figure out plying perhaps.
I also finally plucked up the courage to try spinning on the wheel that I have borrowed. Great fun, but I can see that there is a huge amount of stuff to learn.
I’ve got about half an hour before the little one is due to wake up so I had better go and do some knitting. I’ve got into a groove with the pink socks and they are coming on very nicely. Probably won’t be finished in March, since I’m heading into one of the most hectic working weeks of the year, but I have great hopes for my week off after Easter.
It has been a busy couple of months. Here are the highlights, because I guess it is better to write briefly than not at all.
I finished my old job just after a very hectic Christmas
We’ve moved house
There was trouble with the kitchen floor (but I’d really rather not talk about it in detail and it is all ok now)
The little girl started walking on moving day
The little boy has settled into a new school with very little fuss
We had snow and snowmen and sledging in our lovely new garden
There are still cardboard boxes, although not many of them now (and I’ve done nearly all of mine)
I started my new job this week
I am excited, apprehensive, overwhelmed and loving it all at the same time
So, that’s what has been happening outside the knitting world. You can understand why knitting progress has been slow. It has not, however, been non-existent.
I finished the socks for the Mr in time for Christmas (no photos yet since it was a close-run thing and he only found them in a box yesterday night)
There was a lot of knitting goodness in my Christmas present pile, but I’ll come back to that
I have knitted two thirds of a sock and I’ll come back to that too.
I have cast on a Swirl. 545 stitches. Oh boy. At least I knew the trick of using two ends of the ball for a long-tail cast-on. Imagine getting to 544 and running out of yarn. Don’t expect this to be finished any time soon.
Now, in an exciting turn of events, let’s move beyond knitting.
A friend of my Mum spent an evening teaching me to spin on a spindle.
She gave me the spindle and some Icelandic wool to practice with
Then she lent me a spinning wheel for a while. It’s (or are spinning wheels, like steam engines always referred to as ‘she’?) an Ashford Traveller
Last week, someone from one of my new parishes rang me out of the blue offering babysitting and asking if the rumour was true that I was a knitter. She then said she was a spinner and would I like to try it.
There is also a spinning group that meets once a month in an adjacent village. I met the lady that hosts it while taking my daughter to a toddler group. She noticed the hand-knit jumper that J was wearing (thank you again to J’s lovely Godmother).
I think that’s enough for now. I’m determined to have some of the evening with the needles and something relaxing on tv.
I realised today that it has been nearly two weeks since I went to the knitting and stitching show at Harrogate. Time for a report. This has taken me all evening to write, so make the most of it. That was an evening of knitting I couldn’t really afford to miss since I have just 2 rows of the second sock for the husband’s Christmas present done. Working hours have gone fairly mental, so who knows when I’ll next get time.
I’ve never yet managed to take my intended route into Harrogate by car. You just get sucked in to a line of slow moving traffic that spits you out at the top of the steep hill with all the shops on, inevitably in the wrong lane.
On the way from the car park to the conference centre I found a lovely old-fashioned toy shop and completed my quest to find a rag doll for my daughter’s first birthday.
Once inside, I got the programme and spent a few minutes scanning it. My usual strategy is to circle all the exhibitors I want to see and plan an initial route. Nearly every knitting-related booth was in hall B so I spent the whole morning in there. My main purpose for the day was to find a skein of laceweight that I can make a really big shawl with. I had a no big purchases before lunch rule that was a wise decision. The only thing I bought was a set of stitch markers.
I love Cat Bordhi’s patterns, and she extols the virtues of using letter of the alphabet stitch markers. These are the ones she commissioned from Addi. I’ll let you know how they go.
Highlights of the morning included:
I met my mother-in-law and sister-in-law for lunch in the Royal Hall and we spent quite a while looking at the art installation called The Unfinishable.
All around the outside of the tent are fastened various projects that have been donated by their owners. Walking around the outside we kept saying ‘I could finish that’ and wondering at the waste of all the materials. Inside are all the stories of how they got there and why they have been considered unfinishable. There are so many sad tales that I really began to appreciate the worth of this project and how it has removed (in some cases) decades of guilt from crafters.
After lunch I went back over my list, made decisions on what to buy and then went for a scout round the other halls to see if I had missed anything. Mostly, I hadn’t missed much. They really had corralled the knitters into hall B.
My favourite supplier from previous years, Artisan Yarns, was there with a whole rack of Smoothie Sock Yarn from Artists’ Palette Yarns.
While buying these matching skeins (next year I will have a pair of knee socks) I met the dyer of Smoothie Sock, who was pleased to hear that this is my absolute favourite sock yarn, particularly the semi-solids, since it doesn’t ever seem to pool and feels lovely running through the fingers on the way to the needles.
My quest for laceweight yarn was successful, although I won’t be able to blog it properly until after Christmas since my mother-in-law took it home with her to be wrapped up for my present. It was from Eden Cottage Yarns, a stall where I spent a good half hour of the morning. I was recognised by my scarf when I returned later in the day to make my purchase – always a good tip to wear something that knitters will remember, even if it does make for an uncomfortably hot day. I was wearing my Elektra.
At this point I thought I was done and so I was aimlessly wandering the halls when a magic word caught my eye: Malabrigo.
Every year I splash out on one (well I try to limit it to one) skein of yarn that is so beautiful, either to touch or look at, that it simply screams *BUY ME*. This was it this year. No way is this going to be socks. I think another scarf/stole/shawl type item is required.
That was the end of my buying, coming in £1.75 over my estimated budget. I can’t really explain this next photo.
Knit Pro Karbonz in the wild. I think the day had got to me.
I understand the 2mm needles; the 2mm dpns in my harmony set feel really flimsy and I’ve never dared knit with them. What on earth am I going to knit with 1.5mm dpns? Does the world of teeny tiny dolls clothes in cobweb weight beckon?
Every year, I look out for the next sock knitting gimmick. One year it was Zauberballs, another year sock yarn with the two strands wound together onto a rolling dispenser. I didn’t find it this year (or was that the Karbonz?), but the amount of fibre (as in tops or un-spun fleece) was definitely on the increase. I predict a surge in hand-spinning and I’m happy to jump on that bandwagon. Moving back to near York should mean I can investigate the spinning guild there. Just need a spindle.
I met the family again for a coffee next to the knitted village for a final show and tell. (My mother-in-law bought nothing all day, except the things she purloined from our bags to be kept for Christmas. Serious strength of character there.)
There were a LOT of churches for such a small village. In fact, an extremely good selection of amenities altogether. Charming.
I left Harrogate, following the only road that the traffic signs appeared to allow, heading out of the town centre. This turned out to be the A59 towards Skipton. This is entirely the wrong direction. After several miles of detours and small country roads, I eventually found myself back on the A59 to York and I wended my way home.