This might be what I’ve been looking for to make beautiful decreases.
This might be what I’ve been looking for to make beautiful decreases.
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.
Looking back, I see that the last time I updated my knitting project progress was in March. There’s quite a lot to catch up on.
Legwarmers – April 4th, a commission from my sister to send to a mutual friend’s new baby. The late-night photo has not been kind to this yarn. It wasn’t nearly this orange in real life.
Scrappies – April 22nd
Blanket for Barbies – May 4th (already mentioned in an earlier post)
Bobble hat from handspun – June 3rd. This uses up a braid of Hilltop Cloud fibre, plus my first attempt at navajo plying with some scraps of merino broken tops from John Arbon.
I’ve also been doing a bit more handspun, even keeping up with Tour de Fleece for a couple of weeks until watching Tour de France and knitting socks for Tour de Sock kicked in.
I spun some Masham fibre that I bought at the very first Yarndale. It was 200g of four different natural colours. I worsted-spun a 2-ply at (I think) about a heavy DK weight, maybe worsted weight of each colour and I have plans for this to become a cushion to match, or at least complement, the rug on the living room floor.
Sherilyn shawl – June 17
Tour de Sock rounds 1 to 4 – July and August
With Tour de Sock moving 6 weeks later, it fell at a better time to fit in with work. This meant that I completed 4 stages within the set time: my best result ever. I’m still working on stage 5, which I never really found any flow with. It’s beads and cables, so needs proper concentration. Let’s not talk about stage 6, OK?
Quite pleasingly, this brings my total of completed knitted/crocheted projects for the year to 12 (not counting handspun projects) , thus meeting my target for the whole of the year with over three months in hand.
Tour de Sock stage 5, as I’ve already mentioned above.
The brioche swatch has not grown any further and won’t do unless I remember what needles I borrowed from it. It just needs finishing up really and then I can cast on a proper brioche project.
I’ve been swatching for a Woolly Wormhead hat from her new collection, Elemental. I’m even using the correct yarns as there was a handy 25% off sale. After doing two swatches, neither of which reached the correct gauge, I think I’m there with the third set of needles so the cast-on will happen when I can remember to gather up some cotton yarn (non-felting) to use for the provisional cast-on. (NB since beginning to draft this post, I am now 75% of the way through this hat and loving the German short-rows).
A pair of Cat Bordhi socks using some Socks that Rock mediumweight. These were my carry-along sock project for a few weeks earlier in the summer before TDS took all my available knitting time. I’m just at the heel of the first sock, so waiting for the urge to knit these to strike again.
The yarn I recovered from the frogged Color Affection has been used to begin an intarsia shawl from Knitty. The colours are looking great, but I’m not convinced how far I’ll get with it.
The other knitting WIPs are, of course, the plankton crochet scarf and the 2011 knit a block a month blanket. The intended recipient of the blanket will shortly be 6 years old. She is not particularly impressed by being told that a pile of knitted cotton squares in a box are for her. I do need to knit an awful lot more in order to make the blanket big enough.
While deep in the middle of TDS, we took the kids on holiday away from screens for a week. My Mum very kindly sent some sewing supplies for them and they both got into sewing. The 9yo managed a pretty good counted cross-stitch piece, as well as some free-style minecraft weapons done mostly in running stitch on Binca canvas. The 5yo also managed some of both. I got very fed-up of constantly re-threading needles and untangling knots, but it was great to see them engrossed in something completely non-screen-based.
All that stitching re-awoke my teenage habit of cross-stitching and I spent some time looking for the big cross-stitch project I got to take away with me to university. After consulting family members, I discovered that someone remembered seeing it at our last house, so that meant it was definitely somewhere here. They thought it had been with “all my knitting stuff”, but it definitely wasn’t now. After much searching, I found it in a box of musical instruments in my office cupboard (along with my ocarinas, which had also been mysteriously missing for a while). The project is a picture of the wizards from the Discworld Unseen University and is probably less than 20% completed. It turned out that I did make friends at university, so the anticipated long evenings of sewing alone in my room never materialised. I’ve spent a few evenings on it since finding it, so I hope to complete it someday. The other cross-stitch kit I have on the go was a present from DH about 2 weeks before I discovered knitting. That one is fiendish, with loads of half and quarter stitches, while the Discworld one is really relaxing as it’s all whole stitches. It is much more likely that the Discworld one will be finished one day.
My aim for 2017 of keeping better records of spinning projects has not been met. See above for completed project.
I’m now nearly all the way through a beautiful braid of fibre from Hilltop Cloud. I’m spinning it fractally, so it should be a lovely marled/barber-pole skein when it is done.
We seem to be in the part of the year that I categorise as ‘too hot to knit’. It doesn’t tend to last very long, but the thought of holding anything woolly in my hands for longer than absolutely necessary is currently not tempting.
What does a knitter do when knitting becomes unpalatable?
For drawing, I’m doing a basic online course with the Doodle Institute, I have a book on botanical line drawing to work through, and I have Mike Rohde’s Sketchnote workbook. It’s sketchnoting that has provoked this interest. It’s such a good way of organising information on the page so that it’s easy to review, but also sticks in the brain.
There hasn’t been a complete dearth of knitting since March. I’m most of the way through a hat made from my handspun and I’ve started another pair of socks.
From the library:
A book I own but have never read:
Whatever I want to read:
Rather than repeating the list of reading aims for the year each time, I have built a page that I can keep updated throughout the year.
There are probably more books that I have read or re-read since January, but I haven’t been keeping a very effective list. This is just what I can find from my various electronic devices and from looking around.
My local library is closing for refurbishment in a week or two, after which it will reopen as a volunteer-run library. I overheard the librarian this afternoon explaining that she will shortly be out of a job. Such short-sighted policy from the government, taking so much local authority budget away that they have no choice but to cut library staff. It’s fine for our local town as there is a small army of active retired people there. I can foresee in other places it will be incredibly difficult to recruit enough volunteers. Plus, what does it say to people wanting to become professional librarians if it is implied that anyone can do this with willingness and a couple of hours training. The rate that our kids get through books, we would be stony broke if it wasn’t for the library. I like to think that my library fines, however small, are helping in some way to keep it going! Yes, that’s why I don’t take the books back on time, nothing to do with always forgetting to write down the due-date in my diary.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. […] And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)
Here’s a reminder of my 2017 knitting/fibre goals.
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.
Here are my knitting/crochet/spinning aims from the beginning of 2016:
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)
Towards the end of the year, I stopped checking the challenge list for things to read, so I wasn’t sure how many of these I would have managed. I’ve relaxed my rule on not including re-reads and I’m allowing books to appear in more than one category.
New books read that don’t quite fit any of these categories.
The Pact, by Jodi Picoult
The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
Happier at Home, by Gretchen Rubin
Better than before, by Gretchen Rubin
I really enjoyed these three books. Gretchen has spent a lot of time figuring out what makes her happier and trying different methods of improving her life and her habits. While we are quite different personality types, there was plenty of food for thought there.
Fast Exercise, by Michael Mosley
Vulcan 607, by Rowland White
Prudence, by Gail Carriger
The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson
Over-all, the reading challenge did make me read some books I would never have picked up. The recommendation from your local bookshop category was particularly good. I’ve got into the habit of popping in there and picking up something every two to three months or so.
Here are the 2017 reading challenges from the same person (Modern Mrs Darcy).
I’m not particularly taken with either of them, so here is my own list, taking inspiration from both of them (and last year too).
I’ll include re-reads unless the category particularly excludes them and also allow books to appear in multiple categories.
First, looking at how I spend money on books:
Second, considering reading that will stretch my mind
Third, including reading that will relax and restore me
Happy New Year. I’m beginning the year with a major focus on tidying up and organising. The blog (although often neglected as usual) is no exception. New theme (Twenty Seventeen), new header.
It only took me nearly 4 months to get round to putting the instructions I linked to in my last post into action.
It’s a bit fiddly, and I’m not sure how comfortable it will be in a shoe, but I think it works.