Monthly Archives: January 2016

Hello pretties

There’s something very special about the first time you finish a project. Like your very first hand knitted hat, complete with lumpy bumpy bits; it can make you feel so…well…dare I say it…*whispers*…proud. We have a thing about admitting that feeling, and the internalised saying ‘pride comes before a fall’ immediately flashes up before your eyes prophesising doom so we squish it down and try and mould the feeling into ‘vaguely pleased’.

Well I’m vaguely pleased about this finished object. Meet my pretties:

  

They are wrist warmers made from just 1oz of spindle spun fluff. I call it fluff because that’s exactly what it was; a blend of alpaca/merino/camel/tussah silk (from my pre-vegan days obviously) and spun up into yarn that whispered lacy frivolous knitting, whilst fluttering it’s eyelashes. 

  
The pattern is a very simple ‘vine’ lace one and knit in the round: cast on 50 stitches

Join in the round and alternate knit and purl rows for the border, then work the pattern over 10 stitches starting with ssk, yo, k1, yo, knit 5, knit2tog. Every other row is a knit row and you just move the yo, knit, yo along one stitch each pattern row, then back again. That makes perfect sense to me anyway and explains why I don’t write knitting patterns for a living.

  

  
Ok, after the rather intense vegan post, I thought I’d share a few projects I’m currently working on.

Above is the warp that has just gone onto Ollie; it’s a custom wrap based on some Aurora photos, for a lovely mama who is needing something bright and cheery. There will be a lot of care going into this one (I mean emotionally; a lot of care always goes into the making of my wraps) and it’s to be woven in a simple diamond twill which will be lovely. 

(Geekery: 8/2 Egyptian cotton warp at 25 epi, 22/2 black cottolin weft with silver blessing threads)
Next we have this:

  
Just a little hooky; the pattern is a Ravelry download called ‘Tides of Change’ by Frank o’Randle. I’ve realised I prefer to crochet circles with different patterns each round, it kind of livens things up.

Spinning wise I’m plying this:

  
Isn’t it yummy? I still have tons of animal spinning fibre in my stash and this is a textured batt from Cottage Alpaca Creations on Etsy

and I’ve spun the singles on two top whorl spindles and am in the middle of plying it on a Turkish. I’m hoping there will be enough for a small pair of fingerless gloves.

So that’s it, just simple fibre crafts, no bells or whistles, just uncomplicated loveliness. Enjoy your weekend.

Catch up (with myself)

IMG_8725

Lemon and raspberry no-cheesecake

Following my previous post, I’ve had a couple of requests to update you with how our new vegan lifestyle is going so if you’re interested in anything to do with animals and food you are in the right place.

Up to about 4 months ago, I thought veganism was a diet followed by hardcore vegetarians, faddy eaters and extreme left-wing, slightly whiffy, self-righteous ex-hippies really.

It had never interested me; yes I had seen glimpses of the horrific photos of animal abuse shared by PETA and the like but I didn’t really believe that cruelty actually happened in the UK in the vast majority of farms. We live next to a sheep and beef farm for heaven’s sake.

Once the seeds had been sewn by my BFF and a vet programme I started doing some research. I read about the heart breaking reports of horrific abuse in the US in Eating Animals and Slaughterhouse but that was over the pond, in factory farms right?

So I dug a little further and discovered a Food Standards Agency review of conditions in UK slaughterhouses conducted after instances of cruelty were revealed following uncover filming in the early 2015 by an animal welfare organisation. The report reveals that while the majority of slaughterhouses meet the standards required for humane slaughter, a few don’t (the report can be read here).

This concerned me enormously; I discovered that I wasn’t comfortable knowing that even one animal had suffered needlessly just because I liked eating meat.

Anyway to cut a long story slightly shorter, 4 months on I am 100% vegan and have learned that this is NOT simply a diet but a way of life.

The myth that not consuming meat or other animal products is hard is one perpetuated by many so-called vegans who promote reductionism – where you aim to reduce the amount of animal products consumed by adhering to ‘Meatless Monday’ for example.

For us it has been relatively simple. I make our own almond milk (soo much nicer than any commercially produced plant milk) to have with homemade granola (a lot of shop sold contains honey) for breakfast.

We eat lots more vegetables without trying, our five-a-day is easily achieved nowadays, and I enjoy it. Roast vegetables, casseroles, varieties of humous, nut roasts (yes I know but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it) and stir fries are just a few of the wide variety of food and meals we have.

IMG_8783 (1)

Baked sweet potato, beans, vegan sour cream, guacamole, roast spicy courgette with salad

Homemade vegan ice cream (man, the BEST), chocolate brownie, chia seed and almond milk pudding, numerous dark chocolates and truffles mean that my sweet tooth does not go ignored.

Many omnivores complain about vegans being ‘preachy’; let me tell you, it’s really hard not to be. We see them consuming products tainted by needless cruelty and death; it is an effort not to think of the animals like cows and pigs being ‘processed’ on the kill floor right now, not to think of the baby chicks being ground up alive just because they are male. It’s heartbreaking from my perspective.

Did you know that cholesterol is only found in animal products? I certainly didn’t and it’s shocking to think of how much is spent by the NHS every day on Statins when all that is needed is a vegan lifestyle.

I guess the only part I’ve found a teeny bit difficult is the wool thing. I’m not going to explain why using wool isn’t ok, there is lots of info via Google if you’re interested. As you may know, wool and other animal fibres have been a huge part of my work and life. I’m putting a brave face on it and sourcing lots of animal friendly fibres like faux cashmere for spinning and some lovely linen/viscose for weaving but it’s not the same. How could it be? It’s the same as switching to a plant milk; it won’t taste the same as cow’s milk. It’s different and to expect otherwise is completely unrealistic and naive. I’ve decided to use up my (fairly considerable) stash but just not buy any more and so far so good. I hold onto the fact that it may be slightly tough for me, for the sheep that has been handled roughly by the shearer and frightened by the shouting and activity around her, it pales into insignificance.

OK, I’m going to leave it there with these final questions: how would you feel if it was your dog or cat? Why are other animals different?

And I’m just going to leave this here.

IMG_7877

Chocolate and peanut butter cookie

 

 

Hoot-ananny 

  
I started the New Year with a new knit. As I’ve ceased using animal fibres, this leaves me with a huge range of (much cheaper) *whispers* acrylic yarn to use.

Yep you read correctly, I said the acrylic word. Acrylic. Acrylic. ACRYLIC.

I’ve embraced Stylecraft as they produce the best non-squeaky yarn. I hate a squeak, don’t you?

I’ve loved my Kate Davies Owl sweater, so much I went on to make a cardi from the same pattern. But both in wool, and to be completely honest, both leave me with sore arms from the scratchy-ness (M.E. has left me with very sensitive skin).

So I dusted off my trusty pattern (actually, I simply accessed my Ravelry library and downloaded it but that doesn’t flow as well in a sentence), got my mitts on some Stylecraft Special Chunky yarn and went to it.

It’s such an easy, quick knit, it only took a week, albeit over Christmas in front of lots of telly.

  
As you can tell, some of my owls are blind. If I could knit on buttons it would be fine but sewing is my nemesis so it’s staying just like that.

Now I’m off to look at more acrylic, I have a stash that needs a little work…