I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions (there’s way too much potential for recrimination and self-loathing in setting ambitious goals for myself at a low time of year), but I do know that if I actually ever want to be good at sewing and spinning what I need is regular practice; the reason I am a good knitter these days is not because I’m a natural knitting genius (I wish!) but because I have been knitting pretty much every day for over seven years now, building up muscle memory, learning tricks and techniques and finding better ways of doing things. So, seduced by the completely artificial significance of the calendar change, I have decided to set myself a goal of spending an hour every weekend (unless I’m away from home) spinning and an hour sewing. I’m hoping this will help to make both of them become more of a habit, and that the regular practice will help me to make gradual but steady improvement, though it’s also about giving myself permission to stop after an hour, knowing that I can always pick it up again next weekend, rather than pushing on to complete a project when I’m getting tired and fed up and ending up not enjoying it and convincing myself that I’ll never be any good and not even trying again for ages.
Anyway, I got off to a good start by managing to find time to spin and sew today. Unfortunately, the sewing is a Sekrit Project so I can’t show you any pictures of that, but an hour with my wheel got the second half of a braid of New Zealand Polwarth I bought from Easyknits in the summer spun up.
I was trying to concentrate on drafting a finer yarn than I’ve managed before, which was successful in parts although bits of it are thicker than I’d like, and also on drafting more slowly to get more twist in the yarn, which I definitely managed. It may be overtwisted, but I’ll see how it turns out when I’ve plied it. It’s pretty, anyway, and if it turns out bulky again I have a kind of a Plan involving 10 balls of chunky purple Jaeger yarn I bought years ago without considering that 10 balls of chunky isn’t quite enough for a jumper for me, and a nice simple pattern like Vivido which might look quite nice with a bit of toning/contrasting handspun thrown in…
Meet Ngaio, my new wheel.
She’s an Ashford Kiwi 2, so I’ve named her after another Kiwi who could spin a fine yarn. I bought her from the lovely Antje at The Yarn Cake, who arranged to have her shipped directly to me, and she arrived very quickly. I’ve spent most of the last couple of days beeswaxing all the wood, painting the drive-wheel (which took one and a bit tester pots of purple multi-surface emulsion from Homebase) and assembling her.
I’ve had a little play, resulting in the complete destruction of the second ball of North Ronaldsay roving from my Hilltop Cloud learn to spin kit, and a more successful try at “spinning” some leftover sock yarn to learn the motions. I’m sure we’ll get there!
I do like being able to wear tights again. I know lots of people hate them but in my book brightly coloured legs beat bare legs any day.
I’m less happy about it still being dark when my alarm goes off at 6am, and today it was pouring with rain so I couldn’t even take my outfit photo outside!
My orange jacket, which I bought on something of a whim, really has become a favourite this summer. Whoever would have thought that orange was a colour that would go with everything?
Between the jacket and the elephant scarf and purple shoes, I even managed to make navy trousers and a white top feel like me!
So, it did rain last night, a bit. And then it rained a lot this morning, with thunder and everything, but it hasn’t really done much except make it even more humid as all the rain evaporates. The office is like a sauna, and we don’t have enough fans, and the heat is making everyone grumpy (particularly the people whose fans have been pinched by other people when they were out of the office) and frankly it’s pretty horrendous, and the forecast is for three more days of this before the weekend. Not good at all.
Blouse – charity shop
Skirt – White Stuff
Shoes – Arche
It’s almost the end of May, and I’m not sure the temperature even got into double figures today. Even in thick tights, a cardigan and a wool shawl I was definitely on the chilly side. I think I might break out the woollies tomorrow!
Shawl – Aurantium
Shawl pin – Spindlecat
Cardigan – Monsoon
Dress – M&S
Tights – Debenhams
Shoes – Jones Bootmaker
I did get to wear my new shawl pin, which I fell in love with when I saw it in a Ravelry advert and broke my usual rule of not ordering things from the US (because of cost and the risk of getting lost and customs issues) for.
I think I may be turning into a crazy cat lady. But if I can’t have a real cat (and I can’t, because T is allergic to cats) at least I can have cat-themed clothing. I may also have just ordered some Bagpuss-coloured stripy sock yarn, too…
I don’t watch a lot of TV, and have never been keen on ‘reality’ TV, so I wasn’t planning on watching The Great British Sewing Bee last night. But then so many people on Twitter and Ravelry were praising it I thought I ought to at least give it a try before dismissing it, and ended up watching it on iPlayer. It had some interesting bits, but I don’t see why everything has to be a competition these days, and why someone always has to be the ‘best’. It seems as though doing something because you enjoy it isn’t enough any more, and amateurs are encouraged to put themselves forward to be judged by the standards of people who do this professionally.
Now, I think I’m a pretty good knitter, and aspire to be a reasonable dressmaker. But the main reason I knit is because I enjoy it; I love the colours and softness of the yarn, and the way the process of knitting is calming and restful, and how wonderful it is to have a beautiful, unique handknitted item at the end of it. I don’t quite love the process of dressmaking yet (though I did quite enjoy making my Birgitte on Sunday, so I’m getting there!) but I do love knowing that my dressmaking skills will mean I never end up with the same dress as someone else in the office again, and that I can have clothes which are not only beautiful and unique but in styles and shapes which suit me, whether or not those happen to be in fashion. Of course, I love it when people compliment the things I’ve made, but what they think isn’t really the point; I do it because it makes me happy.
Of course, we all do things for different reasons, and I guess there are people who want to get that kind of validation of their skills. And of course there are plenty of people who would like to earn a living from their hobbies (I definitely don’t. Work is stressful, and I think things I enjoy doing for fun would just become stressful too if I did them for money. Rather like the way doing a degree in English Literature has left me prone to long periods when I can’t read for pleasure at all). And lots of people seem to have enjoyed the programme; it just wasn’t my thing at all and I don’t really see the attraction of the competition format. Then again, I don’t like competitions generally; I find them far too tense. I think I’ll stick to Doctor Who in future!
Shawl – Godiva
Jacket – Jigsaw
Dress – Gap
Tights – Accessorize
Boots – Gabor
I am not feeling 100%. I don’t know if it’s just the effect of the arctic weather or if I’m coming down with something, but I spent most of today feeling like the walking dead and still do, really.
My outfit photos are also weather-afflicted, as I couldn’t take an outdoor picture today because the roof of the bird-table, which I normally balance the camera on, was covered with ice (I watched a collared dove attempting not to slide off it yesterday, not entirely successfully) and even though it isn’t a terribly expensive camera, and is several years old now, it didn’t seem like a good idea to balance it on an icy surface, so I took pictures in the conservatory instead.
Shawl – Isaura
Jacket – Debenhams
Dress – Gap
Tights – Debenhams
Boots – Gabor
At least the orange tights and shawl provided a bit of brightness on another freezing, grey day!
As most people reading this will probably be aware, Google have announced that they are closing Google Reader in a few months’ time. I currently subscribe to feeds for over 200 different blogs (you can see a selection of posts in the sidebar here if you want to check out the people I think are interestng!) so I have been investigating alternatives (because I am not going to remember to check 200+ blogs for new posts on a regular basis, but I don’t want to lose touch with the people whose blogs I read either.) A lot of people seem to be recommending feedly, but I really dislike the magazine-style interface and can’t find any way to switch to a nice simple list or a page of posts I can scroll down and read on the iPad version, and I’ve seen a few bloggers mentioning Bloglovin’ so I thought I’d check it out and it looks OK so far (and they do put the apostrophe at the end of the name on the site, though not on the tab label, which irritates me a bit).
Anyway, most of the point of this post is that to ‘claim’ my blog I have to give them a little bit of free advertising. So, here goes. Follow my blog with Bloglovin. Or follow it with something else. Or don’t follow it at all. It’s your choice :-)