Monthly Archives: June 2013

Steeks ahoy

Just a quick post as we are off to Woolfest tomorrow amid much excitement (on my part anyway, Mr Knittingkitten is putting a brave face on it). I have finished a pair of socks just in time

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So they will be accompanying me and hopefully do their job by keeping my toes warm in the tent at night. Now I’m afraid to say I can’t remember what the yarn is, except that I think it is American and contains some BFL, nor can I remember what the pattern is….bad blogger. I promise I will take more note in the future.

I have finished the main part of my throw so sewed up the steek stitches and attacked it with a large pair of fabric scissors. I am relatively new to steeking having avoided any pattern that required butchering my carefully knit stitches with a sharp instrument. However, as I like a little fair isle it is hard to avoid for long and now I am fairly confident I quite enjoy the challenge.

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Fin kindly agreed to model the throw before I picked up the, gulp, 940 border stitches…

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Ok enough for now as it is rather late and I promise to bring you back lots of wooly loveliness from Woolfest, if I must!

I can dye a rainbow

So I’ve had a very happy weekend playing with yarn. I had some left over (I hope, it’s from my Rams and Yowes throw which isn’t actually finished…) handspun shetland that was just shouting to be part of my dyeing experiment. I made up equal quantities of yellow, blue and red and then mixed them in various quantities (9:3 red and yellow, 6:6 red and yellow, 3:9 red and yellow and so forth) until I had 12 different mixtures.

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I dyed a little skein of yarn in each colour and look!

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Beautiful! Do you know what it reminds me of? Can you remember getting one of those packs of felt tips when you were little and then spending hours arranging the colours? It’s like being 8 again, I think dyeing is definitely the way forward….

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As you can see, it wasn’t a complete success, the dye uptake wasn’t even and the graduation between the shades wasn’t exactly as I had hoped for but I have learnt some lessons for next time.
Ok so as well as dyeing, I have been doing a little spinning. Remember that fleece I dyed? Well yesterday evening was spent spinning it, just quickly as I want a ‘rustic’ looking Aran/chunky weight yarn. My plan is to knit a hat in time for Woolfest next weekend.

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Let me say that again….for Woolfest next weekend!! Yes, we are planning to go. It is my first time and I am so excited. It will be quite a journey as we have a drive of about 350 miles, with 2 dogs and then plan to camp…all on top of me supposedly managing my M.E and fibromyalgia. It is not exactly the best plan but sometimes I allow my stubbornness to take over and go against what I know is ‘best’ for me. But that’s human.

Betcha by golly wow!

It’s mid-Summer in Caithness and the sun in shining (unlike much of the country I believe) and we are living in almost permanent daylight. I understand, from a wise friend, that for about 6 weeks the sun doesn’t really set and at night the darkest it becomes is twilight. Funnily enough I find this most strange; I moved here prepared for long dark winters and it never occurred to me I would find the summer the most difficult thing to become adapted to. I think this has something to do with being a knitter! I look forward to snuggling down in a cosy house with a looong evening of knitting ahead of me. I also enjoy the drama of winter, the howling gales and the threat of being snowed in. However all things considered, light nights are not the worst of hardships and I’m sure that the nights will soon be drawing in….

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Here are our monkey dogs, Fin and Bess, are enjoying the warm(er) summer sea. We live near a broch which is a circular Iron Age stone structure unique to Scotland with most being located in Caithness and Orkney and there is a harbour and lots of little bays and cliffs that the dogs have much fun jumping from after their ball.

On the yarny front I bought a little acid dye kit and have started to experiment with dying some yarn. I was rather pleased with my first attempt

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This is some shetland lace weight as is this below

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And I had a go at dying some fleece, this is some black faced woodland

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I also tried with some Manx loaghton which is a brown fleece and it ended up looking like, ahem, snot so I haven’t taken any pics of that!!

I have also start another project

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Can you guess what it is yet? It’s crocheted in some rather lovely North Ronaldsay yarn which is a little prickly so had taken up residence in my stash for a while until I came across this project which seems perfect. I will keep you updated….

And breathe….

That we can all lead busy lives these days is widely recognised and ways of reducing stress are discussed in the same breath as the values that add to our pressures. One of the reasons behind our move to Caithness was to try and distance ourselves, just a little, from the ‘gotta get there quicker, gotta have it sooner, gotta…gotta…gotta’ (apologies for the Americanism but it seemed to fit nicely there) lifestyle.
Although I wrote the following to help manage my chronic illness I think it is a useful tool for anyone wanting to simplify their life, or even just as an exercise into deeper self awareness. What am I talking about? Well, it is my ‘Not To Do List’. It is the opposite of a ‘To Do List’ (fairly obviously!). I am very good at forgetting what is good for me so I have found it reminds me to look after myself.
Mine includes:
Not to…
1. volunteer for things I don’t enjoy – I am great at this, I don’t know where it stems from, maybe from a misguided sense of duty. It’s no good for anyone because if I am doing something I don’t enjoy I have a tendency to become a little resentful which leads to much huffing and puffing that, I’m sure, is unpleasant to be around. Much better that I stick to things I like doing and leave the other stuff for people who enjoy that.
2. wear uncomfortable clothes – you know the ones I mean, tights that live up to their name, shirts that are too fitted so your arms can’t move freely, trousers that sit half way around your bum, not a good look, especially for a middle aged woman with a copious spare tyre.
3. Spend time with draining people – the ones who pretend to be concerned about you but really just want someone to dump their rubbish onto, without your permission. Life is definitely too short for this one, spend time with those who nurture the true you.
4. Do more than one activity at a time – I know, I know, women are supposed to be able to multi-task. But why do it? Surely one thing at a time means that we can properly focus on the job in hand, therefore doing it well and saving time.
5. Clean for more than half an hour – easy one this one, again life is just too damn short! I prefer to be a yarn bunny with dust bunnies…

So onto current projects, my Rams and Yowes throw is coming along nicely, I’ve nearly finished the body and I’m looking forward to steeking. Yes, you did read that correctly, I am a happy steeker and I will share that part of the journey with you soon; once that is done I will have just the border to knit.

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I have also been doing a little carding, I think that I have ‘bonded’ with my new wheel and can say we are finally good friends and this has inspired me to think about more spinning. A very nice woman called Jean of naturalyarn.co.uk gifted me some samples of fleece a while ago and they have been sitting patiently in my craft room awaiting attention. I carded some today, I love how fleece can be transformed into little wooly clouds. This is some white faced woodland before

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And after….

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Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a huge pile of carded batts just to curl up on…?
Until next time, go well.

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Fish not frogs

Please excuse the title, I really couldn’t think of anything else…
As is often the case I have reached the weekend and can feel the familiar tendrils of fatigue creeping over me. This is frustrating as I don’t want to spend my precious energy entirely at work, it is nice to have some left for playtime. I live with M.E and this has significantly impacted upon my way of life; I now work part-time, I am no longer able to go walking and I experience various symptoms day-by-day. I have found a useful way of describing it called ‘spoon theory’ which is a way of understanding any chronic illness, I’ve tried linking it but I’m not sure if is worked, google it if you want to know more.
Our vegetables are coming along well, I think it has been a touch warmer in Caithness this year so far and everything is growing quickly it seems, including our asylum seeking mushrooms, as Mr Knittingkitten describes them. They have sprung up from no where and we think they are of the illegal variety, soon to be removed before the dogs can get their muddy paws on them and have their first hallucinogenic experience (only joking…not sure they work on dogs!). We have already had some strawberries…so much nicer than shop bought ones and something that I am able to grow reasonably well (I am most definitely not green fingered).

We are approaching mid-summer and the nights are veryshort here, it barely gets dark and there are some beautiful skies, cue some photos…

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Although I don’t think there will be the opportunity for more photos today, the rain has come in and it’s looking fairly miserable, which is GREAT yarny weather and good timing as it is our first craft group this afternoon. I will let you know how it goes but I hope there will be much spinning as we have a spinning newby coming along to get some tips. I have a new wheel that I am still acclimatising too

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An Ashford Joy, isn’t she lovely?
The weather however won’t be welcomed by many in Caithness today as it is the Canisbay Show and the Wick Lifeboat Day this afternoon so I hope it clears for then.
Anyway, enough for now, enjoy your weekend, go well.

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The importance of being honest and WIPs no more

Good morning my lovelies. It has been a few days since my last post and I have some finished projects to show off. But firstly I want to write about honesty…one of the reasons I started this blog was because a lot of the blogs I follow present an image of a charmed life of crafting, cute kids and good taste Cath Kidston style. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that but I felt that blogs representing my life were a little lacking. However, even in my early days of blogging the temptation to show you only the very lovely parts of my life is extremely tempting and I have already fallen into the trap of styling my photos (very badly I might add) and only blogging about certain aspects of my life and omitting some of a the more, shall I say, difficult parts.
There is a balance to be had as I also have my privacy and, dear reader (as she comes over all Charlotte Bronte), some areas are none of your business.
A few years ago I read an interview in a knitting magazine with Alice Starmore (a scottish knitting designer and writer) and it had a photo of her sitting in her house with views over the sea on the Hebridean island where she lived. I felt so envious and dreamed of living in a similar place being able to sit in a chair knitting away looking out to sea. At the time we lived in the middle of Nottingham, on a main road opposite a supermarket. Seeing that photo inspired me to persuade my hubby to think about where we REALLY wanted to live and some years later we now stay in the middle of nowhere by the sea and I can sit in our conservatory knitting watching the waves crash against the cliffs.

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It is a dream come true. However, I, me , myself is still in the dream which means that all of my ‘issues’ (for want of a much better description) have travelling with me, I haven’t transformed into Alice Starmore…so I continue to think the grass is greener and still have emotional ups and downs and live with life on life’s terms. And this is the part I want to convey here, not the dream, although that is part of my life now, but all of the reality. Ok, enough already! I expect you are ready for some lovely, simple and straight forward crafty pics. My cushion inner arrived it is all finished

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I love it, it works well with the granny stripe blanket and brightens up the sofa.
Mr Knittingkitten was away for a couple of days to see his family so I took the opportunity to make some more coasters

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I was a bit lost without him and couldn’t really settle to any projects so just played around with various patterns

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Yes I admit it, that photo was a touch ‘styled’, note the Orla Keily mug (show off!). They are cute but slightly too small. Hey ho. Anyway, he has returned safe and sound so I have started a new project, not sure whether it will be a cushion or blanket, I guess it depends on how many squares I make (stating the obvious)

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Right enough for today, thanks for reading and go well

World knitting in public day

Yesterday was ‘world knitting in public day’ where thousands of knitty folks across the globe take their knitting to the streets (or cafes, or parks, or on the bus or anywhere really). I don’t know how this started but I do know it has been going for several years with local yarn stores and knitting groups organising mass (I use this word to denote 2 or more people!) public displays of knitting to promote knitting as a craft.
However in the more remote parts of the knitting universe some of us have to simply go it alone and in this spirit I took my current WIP to Duncansby Head.

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It is the most north-easterly part of the Scottish mainland and is just past John o’Groats where the headland juts into the North Sea and it is most famous for the Duncansby Stacks, a group of dramatic rock pinnacles. It is also an ideal spot for whale watching, something Mr Knittingkitten is a little obsessed with. Since moving to Caithness he has seen various fishy types including minke whales, dolphins, porpoise and basking sharks but not the elusive orca or killer whale. It is the time of year to spot these and there has been quite a lot of activity around the Caithness coast this year, with fantastic photos being posted on twitter almost daily but we always seems to just miss them by about 10 minutes…
We spent about 2 hours knitting looking out to sea, I saw what looked like a couple of porpoise briefly (ahem, it could have been a wave) but nothing else despite ideal conditions. There was a very big ship and we think they were probably all hiding behind that just to annoy us. I enjoyed my knitting….

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And the views were stunning!
Anyway that’s all for now, go well x
PS I broke ANOTHER needle
PPS I keep forgetting to tell you about the curlews, next time hopefully 🙂