Category Archives: Knitting

Follow Your Arrow

My Ysolda mystery shawl is finished and blocked.

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It’s not as asymmetric as I thought it would be but it’s a very wearable shape.

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And it’s a lovely size for wearing instead of cardigan.

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I used Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply, in “Cherry”, and it took 168g. I love the colour, it’s so gloriously rich and deep.

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Meanwhile, I’ve finished my first bobbin of singles for the Stitched Together spinalong. I’m really pleased with how finely and evenly I’ve managed to spin!

STSAL first bobbin

Sunny shawl

So, my Pi Shawl, cast on in September to be a reminder of sunshine to me in the winter months, is finished just as spring seems to have come along.

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It took nearly all of my two skeins of heavy laceweight yarn – I obviously judged when to start the edging just right as I only had 3g left at the end. I think it’s about a metre and a half across, so that means the circumference is almost five metres – no wonder the edging felt like it took forever!

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Sadly I don’t think the pictures really do justice to how lovely it is, mostly because it’s not easy to photograph a circular shawl, but I’m very happy with it.

And this weekend I must push on with the Ysolda mystery shawl. Why did I decide to knit two things with sideways edgings at the same time? They just seem to take so much longer…

Golden

I’ve never thought I could wear yellow, but this goldy/mustardy/saffron shade seems to be just fine. And so cheerful!

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(There will be proper pictures of the shawl at the weekend, but I couldn’t resist wearing it today.)

Weekend crafting, 8-9 March

This hasn’t been the best of weekends. Even though it has felt like spring outside I’ve been feeling very low and have spent a lot of time asleep and yet still feel exhausted. I haven’t really been feeling in the mood for crafting, although my output for the weekend looks quite impressive.

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I knitted the body of this mouse on Tuesday, so only had the legs and ears to do yesterday. The pattern is Ysolda‘s Mousie, and I used bits of leftover sock yarn. It’s a first birthday present for my brother’s girlfriend’s baby (I can’t help feeling there must be a better way to put that, but I’m not sure I can actually call her my niece when they are in a poly relationship and my brother is co-parenting but not the father), and is a white mouse because of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. I always find knitting toys horribly fiddly, but it’s very sweet.

I also finally finished my Pi Shawl.

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It is currently taking up most of the living-room floor to block. There will be better pictures next weekend!

And I got out my wheel for the first time in a couple of weeks, and finished spinning the Hilltop Cloud batt.

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My original plan was to try Navajo plying it, but I think I’m actually going to ply it with a sample of Welsh Black I’m working on now.

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I think that should produce an interesting yarn, and also gives me the chance of a reasonable yardage. I’ve only got 25g of the Welsh Black, compared to 35g of the batt, so I suspect there will be a bit left over to try Navajo plying anyway!

Making something different

I’ve spent the last two days taking part in a participatory video workshop as part of a project aimed at reducing stigma around mental health issues run by a local charity with funding from Time to Change. There were seven of us involved; we all had some form of mental health problem but other than that we were a very diverse group (well, as diverse as you are likely to find in Oxford, which is not a very diverse city). Our ages ranged from mid-20s to retirement age and while affluent educated Oxford was certainly represented there were also people from less privileged backgrounds. We spent the weekend getting to know each other, learning how to use the camcorders, sharing some of our experiences of mental health problems and finally recording 30 seconds each of talking to camera as well as some shorter clips to show more about us as people and make the point that we are far more than just our mental health issues. (No prizes for guessing what got filmed for me there…) I had thought that I would talk about my experience of depression, and maybe about how crafting helps me, but in the end I chickened out of that because I’m currently in a place where sharing a hopeful, optimistic story about how I fill my life with things that make it easier to live with depression felt too much like a lie, but given how small Oxford is (one of the other volunteers mentioned that she used to follow me on Twitter and read my outfit posts, that’s how small it is) and that one of the ideas is that the video might be shown in workplaces I wasn’t brave enough to say what I’m really feeling right now, that after five years of trying so many different things I don’t feel that my depression has got any better and am very short on hope for the future. Not where someone from work might see it, maybe in a few months’ time when (hopefully) I will be feeling better because it won’t be winter anymore and some of the other stuff that’s putting me under stress will have been sorted out. Because yes, there is a stigma attached to mental health problems, and while I am increasingly open about mine because I am tired of not being I’m still wary of admitting to feeling suicidal, especially in something where there isn’t a timestamp and a string of other posts to show how the negative emotions ebb and flow. Anyway, 30 seconds isn’t very long so I just talked about how important I think it is to talk about mental health, and how talking has helped me to build up my support network but other people have also told me that my openness has helped them to be more open as well.

It was a really interesting weekend, and the other volunteers were a lovely group of people who I’m really pleased to have had the chance to meet, but I also found it very, very tiring to spend so much time with people I didn’t know well, in a fairly small space, never mind the emotional drain of sharing some deeply personal things, and I ended up having to leave a couple of hours before the end of today’s session because I was exhausted and had got to the point where I really, really needed to be home and have peace and quiet (and a nap, which is what I did once I got in). I was sorry to miss the end, but I think it was the right decision for me, especially as I have work tomorrow.

Obviously, all this means that I don’t have a lot of crafting to share this weekend; I’ve been too tired to knit anything complicated like the edging of the Ysolda shawl, let alone spin or sew. On the other hand, I did finish my second pair of Regia 6-ply walking socks, which are pretty much the same as the first except for having contrast ribbing and toes because the first pair took slightly more than half the yarn.

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This is a good thing, because the canal towpath is very muddy at the moment and the first pair really did need a wash!

Rainbow hat

The rainbow hat I made last weekend is now blocked and has its pompom sewn on.

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I love it, it’s such a fun hat and the pompom makes me smile.

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I wore it yesterday when I went to Unravel for the day, but sadly it was far too warm inside the hall to wear a woolly hat. Luckily I was still wearing a handknitted cardigan (my Cria, which got a lot of compliments) and a shawl, so my credentials as a knitter were never in any doubt. I had a lovely day catching up with friends I haven’t seen for ages, and even though it was so busy it was sometimes quite difficult to get at the stalls I seem to have managed to spend all the money I took with me without too much trouble!

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I was also very impressed with the signage that had been put up along the road from the station to Farnham Maltings where the event was held!

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Given that I was out all day yesterday, it’s not that surprising that I don’t have much crafting to talk about. I am knitting more walking socks, which I took with me yesterday and made good progress on; today I finally started the final clue of the Ysolda mystery shawl, and also spun a bit more of the batt from the Hilltop Cloud learn to spin kit. It’s coming out much finer than I’ve managed to spin before, though I’m always getting quite enough twist into it. I’m pleased with my progress, though.

Weekend crafting, 15-16 February

Due to a combination of having to go out both days this weekend (yesterday for an eye test and a haircut and today to buy mothballs after discovering holes in a old jumper of T’s that was at the back of my wardrobe) and having very little energy or enthusiasm for anything anyway, this weekend I didn’t do any sewing, or any spinning, or knit any of the final clue of the Ysolda mystery shawl.

I did knit a hat, though.

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The pattern is Patricia Martin’s Way Up High, using rainbow mini skeins from The Yarn Yard and undyed yarn from The Knitting Goddess. I took the picture at about four o’clock this afternoon, and finished the hat a couple of hours later, having started it on Friday evening (well, actually I started it on Wednesday, but realised on Friday that I needed the bigger size so had to rip it out and start again). It’s blocking now, but I don’t have a decent picture because by the time I got there the daylight was gone. Proper pictures next weekend, when it’s dry and I’ve sewn on the big rainbow pompom I’ve made to go on top.

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These socks were made for walking

Despite having less sock-knitting time than I used to because I’m walking part of my way home from work in the evenings instead of just getting the bus, I managed to finish my Regia 6-ply walking socks in ten days.

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I wore them today walking to and from work and they’re lovely and cosy and much more cushiony than the Peter Storm walking socks I was wearing before. I only used just over half the ball, as well, so I’m going to order a small ball of a solid colour and then I’ll easily get another pair out.

With the socks out of the way I have cast on Way Up High as a rainbow project for the Olympics, using a set of rainbow mini skeins from The Yarn Yard. Although it struck me last weekend that the colours of the yarn I used for the socks are reminiscent of the bisexual pride flag so maybe I can count them too…

I love you from the bottom of my pencil case

I’ve always liked writing with fountain pens, and since being parted from my beloved fifteenth-birthday-present Waterman for a few weeks in 2012 while Mim‘s father very kindly fixed the clip I have developed a great fondness for Lamy’s Safari range. It started with a black pen and some blue cartridges which I bought in WH Smith as an interim replacement, but then I bought a purple Al-Star (the aluminium version) and purple cartridges and even though I have my Waterman back I’ve been using that at work; the nib is slightly finer and the Waterman is precious enough I don’t really want to have it in the office. And then this week I decided to add to my collection with a pink Safari and some turquoise cartridges, and I thought that maybe I should make a pencil case to keep my collection safe.

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I used this tutorial, though I didn’t bother printing out the pdf pattern but just drew a rectangle of about the right size on some paper and used that as a template to cut out the main fabric, lining and some wadding. It went together pretty easily and was good practice at inserting a zip (I did have to unpick and resew the first side after I’d done the second and realised that I’d managed to stitch it much closer to the zip teeth). And it’s the perfect size to keep my pens safe.

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I also finished spinning up the Falkland from last week, which drafted just fine this time so it was clearly just that I was too tired before.

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I’m pretty consistently managing to get around 36m of 2-ply yarn from 25g of fibre at the moment, which is a considerable improvement on where I was a month or so ago although ideally I’d like to be managing around 50-60m to get enough to usefully knit with.

I also started spinning up the merino/Shetland batt that came in the drop spindle kit I bought from Hilltop Cloud. Given that it was a carded batt and not tops I wanted to try using more of a woollen spinning technique and I found it surprisingly easy to go back and redraft the partly-spun yarn so that it ended up thinner and more even. I think this counts as progress!

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I’ve also been knitting (obviously) – I’ve finished the fourth clue on the Ysolda mystery shawl and am halfway down the leg of my second walking sock. In the end, after looking at where my socks seem to wear, I did an Eye of Partridge heel flap and continued the slipped stitches on the bottom of the heel turn, but did the sole in plain stocking stitch. If that turns out not to be strong enough, I’ll rethink for the next pair. They’re knitting up so quickly it’s not as though having to make more will be that much of a hardship!

Weekend crafting, 1-2 February

This week I made a bag.

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It’s not just any old bag, though. This is a special bottle-carrying bag.

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Our local council don’t do kerbside collection of glass bottles for recycling, so T takes any bottles and jars to the bottle bank in the village. He’d been using a bottle bag that he got at the Co-op some years ago, with dividers to keep the bottles from knocking against each other, but the bag eventually ripped and the Co-op don’t do them any more, only the cardboard carriers which don’t stand up to repeated use, especially in the wettest Janaury in 250 years. So I offered to make him one, using the old Co-op bag as a template and three-quarters of a metre of heavy cotton that I bought in the local fabric shop. (It was a wide fabric and I didn’t actually need all the length, but that’s good as I have lots left if the bag needs patching.) The bag itself is fairly basic with a single piece for the front, back and base (meaning there’s no base seam to come undone), while the bottle insert consists of two short pieces and one longer one, sewn together to make a grid and then stitched to the sides of the bag (which was less fiddly than I thought it was going to be). It’s not exactly a work of art – the seams are a bit wonky and I ran out of black thread halfway through so several of the seams were stitched with black thread in the bobbin and white thread in the needle – but hopefully it’ll do the job and it will be mendable if it breaks.

In knitting, I finished the third clue of the Ysolda knitalong and also finished the socks I cast on for T at New Year.

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The yarn is Schoppel-Wolle Admiral Cat Print, and while I have used Admiral yarns in the past with no problem I wouldn’t recommend this one – it’s lovely and soft but was so horrendously splitty it really wasn’t any fun to knit with, and then when I came to photograph the socks today I found a hole in the sole of one of them where it looked as though the yarn had just come apart (I really don’t think I accidentally snipped it with my scissors, I’m sure I would have noticed!) and although I’ve duplicated stitches to close up the hole I don’t have high hopes for the longevity of this pair.

My next pair of socks are going to be vanilla socks for me, in Regia 6-ply, because I go through commercial walking socks in approximately two weeks and they don’t keep my feet warm in cold weather anyway. I’m hoping that the Regia will be tough enough to last a while. Anyone have any recommendations for particularly heavy-duty heels and toes? I’m wondering about carrying on the slip-stitch pattern from the heel flap onto the bottom of the heel and under the ball of the foot.

With all that sewing and knitting, it’s probably not much of a surprise that I didn’t really manage any spinning. I did start spinning a sample of white Falkland, but ended up struggling to draft it properly. I don’t know if Falkland is harder to draft than the BFL and Jacob I spun last week and the week before or if I’d just used up all my energy for the weekend (the start of February is pretty much my lowest time of year) but in any case I decided that when things are going badly it’s usually best to put them to one side until another day. I did a lot more sewing than I normally would this weekend, so maybe next weekend I’ll make a point of doing more spinning.