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Did you know this blog has been going for four years?!? That’s a lot of yarn, knitting, spinning and nonsense. I have been wondering whether or not to continue, I mean why on earth do I do it? Some of you lovely readers have been with me since the beginning (for which you really should be awarded some kind of endurance prize) and others might dip in and out occasionally. Altogether there are, on average, 16,000 of you a year (well not so many the first couple of years but now that seems to be my stable readership). Thank you, having just gone to find that out, I’m pretty astounded to be honest.
But back to my wondering about blogging and life and the universe in general. Well, just the former really. I started a video blog for a couple of weeks, however I have decided not to continue, for several reasons. Firstly, it’s more work over an intense period. I thought talking to camera would be easier than actual writing, energy wise, but as it happens, this is less tiring. Then there’s the exposing factor. I mean you get to see me with all my stutters, pauses and sniffs (I discovered I do that a lot!) whereas there’s a chance to edit this (I know you can edit videos but I have no idea how to and no inclination to find out). So I think the blog is the way forward for now.

Right, now we’ve sorted out that dilemma, let’s return to a little yarny chat.

I have two main wips on the needles and one finished object. Joji Locatelli released a new pattern not so long ago (have you noticed she’s one of the pattern monsters? She releases tons of them, I have no idea how she manages it) called ‘I see Spring‘, which is a plainish boxy-style sweater with just a little lace detail at the front neckline. Having some Eden Cottage Titus burning a hole in my stash I thought it would be perfect; I was right! It’s a lovely pattern with some interesting short row shaping and I’m really pleased. I know I’m pleased as I didn’t take it off for about a week after finishing it.


My only misgivings are that I made the sleeves slightly too long, although I quite like that as it makes little ‘hand hugs’, and that the Titus, probably due to the silk content, is very unforgiving. You can see every tiny inconsistency and hiding balls changes is difficult so I think in future I’m going to save it for shawl knitting. I like the boxy shape and the dropped shoulders, especially as it means you don’t have much knitting to do on the sleeves, plus the colour is very wearable. I’m a bit slow to the party as it’s only just dawning on me that I need to knit in colours I actually wear as opposed to any random pretty skein colour.

So I had my usual couple of days of moping about with finished object trauma then started this

which is on its way to being Tegna from Caitlin Hunter (aka Boylandknitworks). After the lace border, it’s a tedious hike through stocking stitch tundra but at least this one has short sleeves (there’s a tiny voice inside reminding me I hate short sleeved tops, but my other ‘this time it’ll be different’ voice is happily drowning that out).

And to see me through the boredom, I’ve started a shawl from Curious Handmade, I’ll tell you more about it next time but here’s a wee photo to keep you going.

Fleece to halfway, maybe

Mr Weaving Heart isn’t that keen on hand knits for him (have sympathy, he grew up in the age of the kind of jumper made famous by Giles Brandrith, scarred for life) apart from the odd hat or pair of socks, so when he finally agreed to a sweater I grabbed the opportunity firmly with both hands.

We decided upon a simple raglan jumper, Bradbury by Julie Hoover. Around the same time a merino x Gotland/Shetland fleece from Fernhill Farm had arrived here so it made perfect sense to spin this into jumper yarn.

It’s a lovely fleece, long staple in beautiful crimpy locks that had already had the skirting done – so nice.


I washed it in my usual manner – in the bath with very hot water (topped up with the kettle if needed, it needs to be too hot for your hands) with a squirt of washing up liquid, then soaked for 15 minutes (don’t let the water cool too much, you don’t want the lanolin to resolidify back onto the wool) and rinsed once, with some vinegar if I happen to have some sloshing around.

I’ve used the spin function on my washing machine before, but this was a rather fine fleece so I didn’t dare, instead it was wrapped in towels, trodden on, then laid out by a radiator. The cat particularly enjoys this part and usually ‘helps’ by sleeping on said fleece.


As the locks were still fairly intact, I tried a little combing but actually just flick carding the ends of each lock gave an equally spinnable result and is much quicker so I decided on that way.

I’ve developed a routine of carding a little each evening, then spinning. I plan to spin the entire lot, then it will be dyed navy with a small amount kept undyed for the contrast stripes and shoulders in the pattern. 

I’ve finished about half so far, this is the yarn unwashed. As it’s all mainly for dyeing, there’s little point setting the twist at this point, so this is still quite lanoliny (I think I’ve just invented a word).


I’m aiming for a 4ply weight and, makes sure you’re sitting down at this point, I did sample a little first by knitting up a gauge square. I know, unheard of here but after my recent yarn disasters and the amount of work that is going into this I figured it would pay off. As it was, I got gauge straight away – reaffirming the reason why I don’t usually bother!


So there we are, enough to keep me out of trouble for a wee while perhaps. Now if only I could stop ordering sock yarn…

#fail

I’m pretty sure I’ve used this title for another post but there’s been quite a lot of this going on here today there’s no other word for it really. 

I’m still deciding on whether or not today is going to happen yet but I have a sneaking suspicion it’s not really up to me.

Firstly, I had an amazing weekend away last week, catching up with some knitterly friends. I realised when I was thinking about blogging that I completely missed the one essential blogger opportunity to show you what everyone was working on and sharing some of their amazing fibre and yarns.  So I won’t go on about except to say it cost a couple of  bed days but it was well worth it.

I’ve been knitting a Shusui Shrug for what feels like forever. There have been many mistakes and much sweary frogging but I finally got to bind off the main body last night. It has a contrasting I-cord bind off and I used some handspun merino/bamboo. It has not turned out how I expected, my handspun isn’t nearly as stretchy and floofy as the main yarns so it’s a bit stiff at the edge. I’m hoping blocking will sort this out, lots of hoping. 


I’m unhapppy with the length too but just couldn’t bare adjusting the pattern and knitting 500+ stitches per row for any longer.


So just the sleeves to do. Just, ha! In brioche, using magic loop. Yeah. 

I’ve battled on but I’m defeated right now, so the whole thing is going onto the WIP pile for  a while. I’m feeling very frustrated with the whole thing, I have that unhappy knitter thing of constantly wondering why on earth I chose such an unflattering pattern for my body shape. It looked so cool in the pattern photos but a complete disaster on me. I have to tell you that if it looked like it does on Davina (my manikin) I’d be happy but it really doesn’t and I just can’t bare to show you the photos where I’m modelling it.


I’ve even, gasp, considered frogging the whole thing. Well the yarn was super expensive and one of my friends mentioned the Boxy sweater last weekend and it would be much more my kind of thing, despite the acres and acres of stocking stitch required.

So to console myself I decided to ball up a skein of sock yarn and make some socks. I bought this gorgeous skein of merino and glitter from The Captain and Lovely and haven’t really been able to take my eyes off it. 

Hmm, until it decided to play yarn spider that is. You know, where you put it onto your swift and start winding it onto the ball winder and somehow it goes from a neat skein into a tangle of wool, glitter and dust bunnies (maybe the last part is just me). 


So here is where I’ve ended up. Consoling myself with a cuppa and a blog blurt. Thank you for being there, I know you feel my pain.

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…

The wisdom of sons

I’ve realised I’ve made a mistake in the proper poncho (so called as it’s made from real wool). Not just a ‘tink back a couple of rows’ mistake, but a ‘I need to start again mistake’. It requires a decision, one about whether to start again or to relinquish the whole thing to the WIPs drawer never to emerge again.
Which takes me to a story. Once upon a time, in a far far away land (ie Nottingham) I started knitting. Now as a child I was fortunate enough to have a very lovely Nanny (not the paid variety, it’s what we called our Grandma) who, along with my Mum, taught me to knit. Well tried to. I was not that interested once I discovered that it took longer than half an hour to make a jumper.
However, it left me the legacy of knowledge of the basics, that is to say, how to cast on and knit (not purl).
Years later, after a life changing visit to Skye, I picked up the needles again and the rest is history. The first thing I knit was a very ropey garter stitch scarf, with holes and the problem of how to cast off. With the help of a book and the blessed Internet I learnt more essentials and decided, with a whiff of arrogance and a touch of over confidence that my next project would be an Aran jumper.
Not just any old Aran jumper, a Rowan Aran jumper involving vast quantities of rather expensive yarn and a pattern marked ‘experienced’.
Bare in mind, prior to this I thought a cable needle was something rather painful that nurses used. I bought some needles in the right size then discovered I needed different needles for the ribbing, stitch markers, a cable needle or two plus I needed to learn how to read a knitting chart. Easy right?!?
Surely I, as an educated professional could manage this without a problem? I gainfully set off on my journey and cast on. The ribbing looked lovely and poor old hubby was required to put on his admiring face regularly.
However, by the time I was several inches in to the cabled part, it didn’t look quite right. Being my first proper project though, I decided to ignore this fact and carry on regardless; maybe once it was all sewn together and ‘blocked’ (whatever that meant), it would look alright.
Now in Nottingham there is a lovely department store with a large Rowan Yarn section and display models of some of their patterns, including, at this time, a copy of the sweater I was making. It looked like the pictures, not my slightly grubby knitting.
I returned to the pattern, re read all of the symbols and just couldn’t work out what was wrong.
One evening, I finally had a Eureka moment! I realised I’d been reading the chart from left to right. As you may well know, knitting charts, for some obscure reason (probably so the Knitting Gods can have a good chuckle at people like me) they are to be read from right to left, like Arabic.
The only thing was, I was on the last sleeve – gulp. I calmly put down my knitting and said ‘oh dear’ (actually I suspect it was slightly more colourful than that).
I didn’t know what to do. Should I just finish as I had been doing, surely no one else would be the wiser? It looked ok, just not like the pictures. No one would know. Except me.
I asked the advice of those around me (no doubt already a bit worried following my immediate reaction). My son poked his head up from his DS and said the now infamous words
‘It depends how committed you are’ and returned to his games console.
After some more choice phrases, I undid the lot and re knitted it. I’m quite proud of that now and I’m very fond of the jumper.

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Back to the poncho; to be honest, and applying that principle, I’m not that committed. Off to the cupboard it goes.

Hello again

I’d just been contemplating what to blog about when I realised that I haven’t written one since July. Ages ago and there’s been at least one birthday, several days of grand children visiting, sunshine, rain and rather a lot of chocolate eaten since.
Which brings me no closer to deciding the subject of today’s blog. It’s a little like starting a conversation with someone you haven’t seen for a while. You know; that awkward silence where you try to remember the last time you spoke and the level of intimacy of the relationship so you know how to reply to that ambiguous question ‘So, how are you?’. Do I simply say ‘Fine’ and then turn the conversation back onto that subject of endless British fascination and comment on what terrible weather we’re having, given that it’s the Summer holidays and isn’t it miserable, especially for the children, but at least we had that one nice day on a weekend..? Or do I go to the other extreme and inappropriately tell you all about the ins and outs of that embarrassing infection I had as a result of sitting on a public toilet seat that’s not really cleared up yet, but don’t worry, it’s not infectious any longer, well, I think that’s what the doctor said but you can never really trust these locum GPs can you..? (Clue: that part isn’t true, really).
So in the way that I’ve learnt to be the easiest path forward, I’ll keep it simple and just bring you up to date with some general craftiness (the yarn kind not the anti-social kind). Good plan, except I’ve just realised I. Have. No. Photos. Which leads to exceptionally boring reading, yarn demands pictures; the main point of reading blogs (in my humble opinion) is yarn porn and pretty things to glance over and drool, just a little. Not that I’m saying mine are particularly drool-worthy but you know what I mean.
So here is a selection of old, but no less worthy, projects just to keep you going until our grand children leave and I feel less as though I have no idea where anything is under the mountain of Lego and loom bands.

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Remember that? My hand spun Jacob wool sweater, I discovered today that it has 35 ‘loves’ on Ravelry, by far my most, which makes me a little proud and very appreciative of our lovely British wool.

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Now that is a project I finished before starting the blog so some of you won’t have seen it before. It’s knit from baby llama (sounds a little cruel don’t you think? I’m fairly sure it isn’t) and is the softest of soft things. Well it would be if, unlike me, you’re not allergic to the stuff. Bah!
Finally this

IMG_3533.JPG I told a lie, I do have some photos of a recently finished project. This was a warp from my stash, to use up a little of my yarn mountain, bamboo and silk/merino, in a block twill pattern. There were two scarves from this warp, one has already sold which is wonderful and they are both lovely. David is nekkid now and likely to stay that way for at least the next ten days. Brrrr. It’s very cold for the time of year don’t you think?

Knitting. That is all.

I can feel myself returning to knitting and I can feel the yearning to hold some needles in my hands creeping though my veins. The first sign is trawling patterns on Ravelry, the next is actually transforming some WIPs into FOs and then I know I’m definitely resmitten (is that a word?) when I order a kit for a sweater. I came across this and fell in love with the colours and the simple slouchy design. It reminds me a little of the first hand knitted sweater I remember wearing, made by my Mum that was a ‘sloppy Joe’ 80s style in purple mohair. I absolutely loved that jumper and wore it for a long time passed the time it was fashionable, if purple mohair ever was!
I’ve finally finished my hand spun Caithness Jacob wool sweater. I’m really pleased, it’s the first thing I’ve made from fleece to final garment, including designing the pattern. It fits well and I’m looking forward to showing it off at my spinning group.

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