2015 round-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kaerlig handwarmers by Ysolda Teague
Kaerlig handwarmers by Ysolda Teague

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

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

Targets for 2016:

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

Needles at the ready: onwards.

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.

A year of writing

Happy New Year.

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.

Commonplace

In the last few months I’ve been reading a lot about notebooks, planners and various ways of organising life in an analogue way. The digital way, whether digital calendar or task list, just doesn’t suit me. It has to be pens and notebooks all the way.
One of the things I kept reading about was the practice of keeping a Commonplace book, but I couldn’t find anywhere that said what it was or what the point is or how to do it. Imagine my joy when I found this post:
http://alyjuma.com/commonplace-book/
Just what I wanted. Found via The Well-Appointed Desk.
More here.
I do keep a couple of notebooks on the go. I have a Moleskine which goes with me everywhere I go, for planning, work stuff and random notes. I also keep a notebook for knitting, which is where I keep notes of how I customise patterns, plus useful knowledge. Here is my favourite page.

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Transcription: “How to get blood out of wool
Cold water soak
Rinse over & over until it is all out
A little mild soap if needed
Rinse from back side, with pressure.”
No idea where that information comes from. Hope I never need to use it.

Yarndale 2015

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

September the 1st is a fixture in my calendar: Sock Sniper begins. I’ve already written a little, but wasn’t able to disclose much in my last post. My heart sank when I discovered I had a Canadian target. This would be the year I discovered the truth of whether Canada Post lives up to its reputation.

It did.

My socks were completed on September 4th and posted on September 5th. The made landfall in Canada on September 9th, but didn’t reach their destination until the 24th. I believe it was Canadian customs, rather than Canada Post itself that was the real culprit, but it was infuriating to watch the tracking websites show no update for weeks on end.

Sniper Socks
Sniper Socks

My death came at the hands of yogaknot on September 24th as well.

Lethal Weapon 2015
Lethal Weapon 2015

In between posting and receiving death socks, I busied myself with a secret project that I must get round to posting to France. Then I decided that I really should do some serious work on one of my long-term WIPs.

The sock yarn blanket scarf has been on the needles for 5 years. It made steady progress until it became too big to carry around in a bag and work on during meetings. Every so often, usually for the olympics, I would set a target of knitting a handful of squares. Looking back at photos, I can see that it reached the designated halfway point before February this year, then I realised that there were ‘only’ about 70 squares left to knit and it sounded achievable.  By mid-September I decided that I wanted to wear it to Yarndale, so I knuckled down and knitted as much as possible. In the last few days leading up to Yarndale I had about 40 squares left to do, plus the applied i-cord border to knit and the ends to sew in from the last few sessions.

I called time on the project at midnight the evening before Yarndale. All the squares were knitted, all the ends were sewn in, but there were still about 14 edge squares without a border. So close. I took it to Yarndale anyway, where I showed it to Joy at The Knitting Goddess, since it is approximately 50% her yarn.  She liked it (and you may see some of these pictures on her blog in the next week or two). I’m keeping the rest of the Yarndale stuff for another post.

After a few days, I finished the final bit of the edging and took it outside for some beauty shots.

This, then, is a history of my sock-knitting up until now. It contains at least one square from every sock (or glove) I have ever knitted. It began only 3 years into my knitting career, when I was concerned that my sock-yarn scraps were getting out of hand. With hindsight, I can see they weren’t out of hand at all. At that time I had knitted only 7 pairs of socks and 2 pairs of gloves. Now, it is well over 50 pairs, so there’s a little more variation as it gets up the blanket.

The question remains: will I actually wear it? It’s a little cumbersome for regular wear, but it is lovely wrapped around the shoulders in the evenings.

Now, of course, I need another sock yarn scrap project. I’m not going to do another of these exactly the same because it lost its usefulness as a travelling project when it got too big.  Perhaps I will make squares of about 25 little squares joined together, then seam them all into a bigger item.

WIP round-up

  • I have started the Snow under Cedar sock. Lovely braided cast-on, some colourwork with beading. The next thing to do is another braid, then onto the main colour chart.
  • No progress on the cotton square a month blanket
  • Still unsure what to do with the Greebo socks. Still probably looking at a restart
  • No progress on the Curl
  • No progress on Color Affection
  • New item: pink socks for the little girl. Last week (when I was in the throes of knitting the scarf) she demanded I make her some pink socks. I promised that when I had finished another project, I would. I’m using scraps from various socks for these. So tiny: only 44 stitches at the ankle, so they shouldn’t take long.

Knitting plans

A friend (and blog-reader – Hi Daisy) has a rather large bump, so I need to knit something for her. Are you bothered about it being a surprise, or would you like to see it growing? I have yarn and a plan.

I’ve bought Ysolda’s pattern collection, Knitworthy 2, and I’m very tempted by the gloves.

Perhaps it is time to bite the bullet and make some knee-high socks. I now have three pairs of skeins set aside for knee-highs. I’ve even bought a nice dress for work that might go with them.

What have I been reading?

  • The latest in the Lord Peter Wimsey books, originally by Dorothy L Sayers, but continued by Jill Paton Walsh. It’s called The Late Scholar. I rather enjoyed it, particularly the references to earlier books in the series.
  • Final Witness by Simon Tolkien. No guesses what made me pick this one up in the library! Simon is JRRT’s grandson. Very different writing style and subject matter, but a cracking read. I love stories where it is not obvious who is telling the truth and you have to try to figure it out along with the main characters.
  • On the road bike: the search for the nation’s cycling soul by Ned Boulting. I’m familiar with Ned from ITV’s Tour de France coverage. This was an entertaining parade of anecdotes and stories of cycling in the UK. The world of cycling seems much the same as many other niche interests in terms of the passion of those involved in organising it (and the resentment aimed at those who either don’t understand it or seem to have betrayed it).
  • Who Governs Britain? by Anthony King, Millennium Professor of British Government at the University of Essex. This is a pelican introduction, so short, well-structured and readable. I bought it before the election to see if it would help me to figure out what is going on.  Any large organisation or institution becomes unwieldy as it grows. This is taken to extreme in government. Each chapter deals with a group having more or less power and influence on government, exploring the limits of their power and drawing together all the strands of influence. I’m left wondering how the country functions at all.
  • Currently I’m reading Bill Bryson’s Mother Tongue: English And How It Got That Way.
  • For work, I’m also reading Memories, Hopes and Conversations by Mark Lau Branson, and St Teresa’s The Interior Castle

The state of the stash

Yarn Weight Total metres Total Grams
Cobweb 240 30
Lace 3102.1 303
Light Fingering 1797.3 425
Fingering 15992.4 4392
Sport 1161 510
DK 2526.2 1395
Worsted 482.8 240
Aran 1502 890
Bulky 919.1 620
Total 27722.9 8805

Thanks to Ravelry, I can look at how much I have quite easily. Last time I did a stash inventory in 2013, I had 8.67kg of yarn. Looks like I’ve been remarkably consistent and only added less than 150g of yarn since then. This is not quite true: I’ve just gone through and excluded all my scraps and leftover balls from my stash, thus bringing down the totals considerably. When it comes to yardage, I’ve added about 2 miles of yarn to the stash. (When I did this round-up in 2013, I converted all the distances to Miles, chains, yards and feet. Can’t be bothered to do that today, so an approximation will have to do).

Finished item parade

It’s been a busy summer so far as knitting and crochet go. The spinning is on hiatus, shortly to be resumed as my diary settles down to what passes for normal. The boy goes back to school tomorrow and, by the end of the week, I should have time to myself during the day without being interrupted every three seconds (ish) by a small girl demanding to attach stickers to my clothes, or wanting to play. I’ve taken as much time off work this summer as I can to spend with the kids, but I am clearly not meeting their standards.

Parade of finished objects

Not a large parade, but more than one item, so deserving of the term I believe.

This was my summer holiday knitting, although it is, of course, not knitting at all, but crochet. Fingerless gloves, which wended their way to my Mother, ready for her 60th birthday. I have it in mind to make at least two more pairs of these. These are my August finished item.

Dragonscale gloves
Dragonscale gloves

With September comes Sniper Season. Here’s my first shot, aimed far into the West. I posted these on September 5th, which may even be record time for me. I usually manage to knit them within the first week. 4 days is a time I’m quite pleased with.

Sniper Socks
Sniper Socks

Next comes an item which both is and isn’t a finished item. I’ve completed the Far Into the Forest first sock, but I’ve had enough of the pattern, so I’m not knitting another one.

farintotheforest
Far into the Forest sock

Instead I have cast on for another colourwork sock, using the remaining yarn and another pattern: Snow Under Cedars.

Finally, I don’t think this is a finished object, but it was one of the highlights of the summer:

j knitting
J begins her knitting career

My daughter showed an interest in learning to knit. We got some suitably pink yarn and settled down together. She loves learning the knitting rhyme and saying it with me, she’s getting the hang of the movements that go with it but, she would much rather go freestyle. We’ve had a few incidences of a great big tangly mess at the end of a knitting session. Still, she’s nearly caught up with her brother in the length of knitting she’s managed.

WIP round-up

  • No progress on the cotton square a month blanket
  • No further squares added to the sock yarn scarf
  • Rachel Coopey’s Greebo socks in the Greebo colourway from Knitting Goddess.  I’m halfway up one foot, but they are turning out rather large. No-one I’ve shown it to has expressed an interest in wearing it. May need a re-start in a smaller size
  • Ianthine: A Curl from Hunter Hammersen’s book Curls. Still on 2nd or 3rd repeat. Needs some good autumn tv viewing.
  • New item: Color Affection, using some cashmere lace-weight. It’s going well, but the yarn is quite fragile and keeps breaking. This was not helped by it having been nibbled round the edges by a mouse in my knitting bag.

Reading round-up

This has been the summer of the big trashy re-read, mostly on Kindle.

I have read:

  • All the Twilight novels again, plus The Host
  • The Stieg Larsson Millennium Trilogy
  • Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour bookstore
  • Gail Carriger’s Alexia Tarabotti series: Soulless, Heartless, Timeless, Blameless, Changeless. These were a re-read of books I have previously got from the library. They are steam-punk with werewolves and vampires: really funny. I also read the short story prequel The Curious Case and the series Etiquette and Espionage, Curtsies and Conspiracies, Waistcoats and Weaponry, which are aimed more at the young adult market. There’s some crossover of characters. I’ve so far managed not to buy the other series, which is set later on, but it is only a matter of time.

Less trashy reading that has been accomplished is as follows:

  • Jesus Feminist – Surprisingly non-cringe-worthy. A good approach to cutting through all the patriarchal baggage that the Church has gathered over the years, without turning towards the man-hating end of the spectrum.
  • Alan Turing: The Enigma – interesting biography, but it did get tedious in places
  • Lingo: A language-spotter’s guide to Europe – fascinating. Short chapters, each about a different language.
  • Racing Through the Dark: the autobiography of David Millar – I’ve become fascinated by the stories of the dark side of professional cycling. This one is no-holds-barred, introspective and penitent.
  • The new Patrick Gale novel: A Place Called Winter. Heartbreaking, with an undercurrent of menace.

There might be more, but this is what I can remember.

Update:

I’ve also read The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District, by James Rebanks. A real insight into the production of wool and lamb in this country. Sobering at times, but also inspiring.

 

Tour de Fleece latest

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The Suffolk skein is washed and hanging out to dry. Tomorrow I’ll try and figure out how thick it is. Somewhere between DK and worsted I think.
I’ve moved onto some Black Welsh Mountain. The fibre feels a lot harsher than the Suffolk. I’m spinning it quite thin, doing a lot of checking against the sample to try and keep it even. Harder than with a thicker yarn.

Tour de Fleece Day 10?

I am up to date with my commitment to spin at least 10 minutes for each day that the riders ride, although a couple of times it has carried over into the next day for a double stint when work and family commitments required.

The soft creamy fluff developed first into this:

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Then I had a crack at plying it and it became this:
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The top bobbin is a normal 2 ply. The bottom one is the leftover, Andean plied.
Apologies for rubbish night time shots.
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Did I mention I finished the socks as well?

I’m discovering, with the help of my team mates in team Awesome Already, that the trick to completing projects is actually sitting down and working on them. Who knew?

Tour de Fleece Day 3

Day 3: more creamy white wool spun. If you want pictures, look at the day 2 post and imagine a bit more.
The yarn I washed yesterday has come out really very nicely indeed. Despite making a complete guess of how much ply twist to put in, it’s very nearly balanced. It is a very interesting yarn in terms of thickness, being somewhat variable.

Very much enjoying the bicycling on TV. Hurrah for Chris Froome! I read his autobiography last month: fascinating story.