Category Archives: Uncategorized

Lush

I finished my Lush Cardigan (which I was knitting as part of Purlescence‘s knitalong), and even though it’s really not the weather for nice woolly cardis I did put it on for a few minutes yesterday so that T could take some photos (I was jolly glad to take it off again afterwards, though!).

DSCF7461

The yarn is Sweet Georgia merino superwash DK, in “Jade” (though it looks more like teal to me). It’s not a really soft merino, which I think is a good thing as in my experience really soft yarns tend to pill very quickly; it’s not scratchy but it feels quite durable and I’m hoping it will wear well, because I love the cardigan and want to wear it lots!

DSCF7455

I knitted the 39″ bust size, which is 3″ smaller than my full bust measurement but matches my high bust, as I thought that would give me the best fit in the shoulders. I added 2″ of short row bust darts to give a better fit over the bust and worked more increases below the waist to end up with the stitch count for the 46″ size to allow for the fact that my hips are wider than my bust and although I will probably only wear ever do up the top buttons I wanted it to look as though I might conceivably be able to button it all the way up if I chose.

DSCF7459

I’m not sure that was the best idea, because the paired increases have created a little bulge at the sides, though I don’t know if that’s because I did more or just because the pattern didn’t specify the increases to use and I went for M1R and M1L but might well have got them the wrong way round. It doesn’t really show, though, and generally I’m really pleased with the fit.

DSCF7457

After agonising over what kind of buttons to use I finally ordered several sets from Textile Garden and chose a set which proved to be a perfect colour match for the yarn (I had thought that contrasting buttons might be a better choice and ordered a couple of yellow sets to try out).

Lush buttons

Of course, it’ll probably be at least three months before I actually get to wear it, but it’ll be something to look forward to when summer starts turning to autumn!

The Great Scottish Tapestry

While I was in Glasgow last month I took a trip over to Paisley to see the Great Tapestry of Scotland at Paisley Thread Mill. (I have delayed writing this post for so long that the Paisley exhibition has now finished, but the tapestry will be at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh over the summer and at New Lanark in October and November, and if you have a chance to see it you really should go.)

The tapestry (which isn’t actually a tapestry, because tapestries are woven and this is embroidered, but then again so is the Bayueux Tapestry) consists of 160 panels which were embroidered by groups of volunteers around Scotland, depicting scenes from the history of the country from the Ice Age to the present day. I couldn’t hope to photograph half of it, but I did take pictures of some of my favourite details.

Untitled

I love this squirrel’s bright eye and bushy tail!

This panel celebrates Scotland’s involvement with India (although not the delight that is the haggis pakora) and I loved the colours.

The peacock represents the peacock-tail of Paisley designs, on a panel commemorating the mills of Paisley (including the one where I saw the tapestry).

I can’t resist a puffin! This one was on the Shetland panel.

And penguins are almost as good. Not a native Scottish bird, but this panel is about Shackleton.

And finally, I was just amazed at the detail of the embroidered sock on the Fair Isle panel – the way the outside looks like knitting and the inside looks like the inside of stranded colourwork is just incredible.

Weekend crafting

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.

DSCF7081

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…

Introducing Ngaio

Meet Ngaio, my new wheel.

DSCF6959

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.

DSCF6961

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!

A little more conversation

Part of the CBT programme I’m currently undertaking involves making a note of how I spend my time and how my mood fluctuates depending on what I’m doing. Some of it was obvious – work is stressful and makes my mood worse, spending time with T or friends and doing fun things makes me feel better. There were a few surprises, though. I’d always suspected that noodling around aimlessly on the internet wasn’t a particularly positive activity, but I was surprised that blogging also seemed to be something that gives rise to more negative feelings than positive ones.

Thinking about it, though, it makes sense. For me, the main benefits of the internet are finding information (honestly, how did I ever manage before Google?) and talking to my friends. And blogging doesn’t actually let me do either of those things; I’m not learning anything new by writing here, and it’s a really unsatisfactory way of communicating because it doesn’t really seem to lend itself to conversations. I love Twitter, for all its flaws, because at its heart it’s a huge, sprawling, diverse global conversation that I can dip in and out of and that covers all subjects from the serious to the ridiculous, often moving from one to the other in the space of mere minutes. Ravelry’s forums are another kind of conversation; slower-moving, more detailed and also more restricted as to topic (though my favourite groups are the ones which tend to ramble off topic before the discussion gets on to a second page), but it’s still definitely conversation. Livejournal in its heyday was something like a seminar or a discussion group; you wrote a post as an invitation to the people reading your journal to pitch in and discuss the topic, and because there were threaded comments and email notifications of comments conversations did develop where people talked to each other and didn’t just respond to the OP. (I miss that, but somehow I no longer seem to have interesting opinions to post as starting-points for discussion, or even mostly to contribute to other people’s discussion. I have become very dull, I fear.) While blogging doesn’t feel very different from writing posts on LJ, the interaction is totally different. People don’t start conversations in the comments here, and I can’t recall ever getting into a real conversation by commenting on someone else’s blog. A blog is a lecture, with a few audience questions to follow, and I’m not really enjoying holding forth at the moment. It feels too much as if I’m saying ‘Look at me! Don’t I make lovely things? Aren’t I clever at dressing myself?’ and fishing for other people’s compliments. (Also, when it comes to the outfit blogging, I’m working on attaching less relative importance to work and more to non-work things, and writing a blog about what I wear to work doesn’t quite seem to fit with that.)

So I don’t know if this is goodbye, or au revoir, or if my blogging mojo will return tomorrow and I’ll be back with daily outfit posts or irregular craft posts. Meanwhile, I’ll still be on Ravelry and Twitter whatever happens (I’m whitehart on Ravelry and white_hart on Twitter), so if you don’t already do come and chat to me there.

Autumnal

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.

090913

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!

Orange again

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?

140813

Between the jacket and the elephant scarf and purple shoes, I even managed to make navy trousers and a white top feel like me!

Apres le deluge

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.

230713

Blouse – charity shop
Skirt – White Stuff
Shoes – Arche

So much for spring

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!

230513

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.

Shawl pin

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…

In praise of amateurism

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!

030413

Shawl – Godiva
Jacket – Jigsaw
Dress – Gap
Tights – Accessorize
Boots – Gabor