Spinning Sunday

Today has mostly been about spinning, though I have also knitted some more of the border of my Ysolda mystery shawl.

I finished spinning up my 25g sample of Black Welsh and plied it with some of the singles from my merino/Shetland Hilltop Cloud batt.

Merino/Shetland and Black Welsh

The merino/Shetland was obvoiusly lighter than the Black Welsh, as I ended up with 42g of yarn which clocked in at a whopping 78 metres. After a less-than successful attempt at Navajo plying the remaining merino/silk I wound it off into a plying bracelet and ended up with 32m/15g of yarn from that.

Merino/Shetland 2-ply

I’d like to use the two together in some way, maybe with the lighter merino/Shetland as an edging and the thicker yarn for the main piece, though I’m not quite sure what that piece should be given that I only have 110m of yarn and that isn’t going to go very far.

And then I decided to start my project for the Stitched Together spin-along which is happening in March and April, mostly because I was a bit worried that if I waited until next weekend to start I might not be able to resist buying some fibre especially for the challenge and I really need to work with what I’ve got before the stash takes over the house. I picked some merino/Shetland/soysilk roving, also from Hilltop Cloud, which I ordered from a potluck sale she had a few months ago as a way to get some cheap fibre to practice on, because I’m still a bit scared of completely messing up and ruining expensive fibre.

roving

I split the roving into two and will make a 2-ply yarn, mostly because I only have three bobbins and two lazy kate pins on my wheel so can’t really do anything else (I am thinking about getting more bobbins and a free-standing kate so I can try a 3-ply). The fibre is a bit compacted but it’s coming out pretty well so far.

Hilltop Cloud roving

(Also, I have a new phone, and it takes really good pictures – all the yarn pictures in this post were taken with it. That is very exciting!)

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…

In the pink

I don’t know if it’s the signs of spring everywhere, or the massive quantities of Vitamin D I’ve been taking for the last ten days, or just natural mood cycling, but I feel so much happier than I did just a few days ago.

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It also struck me, as I was waking home along the canal this evening, listening to the birds singing and looking at the birds and the blossoms, that mindfulness, or something akin to mindfulness, is much easier when I’m feeling happy anyway. The world is full of beauty and wonder and I want to experience it as fully as I can; why would I ever want to lose myself in my own thoughts when there is just so much to occupy my attention? But when I’m feeling depressed, the world loses all its charms and feels cold and grey and unpleasant, and I’d rather hide away from it as much as possible, so I’m much further away from mindfulness. And while meditation is definitely calming, I’m not sure which is the chicken and which is the egg when it comes to the relationship between mindfulness and depression.

Springing

One of the first things I remember reading which really seemed to me to describe the way I experienced depression (which I didn’t know was depression at the time, because it was the 1980s and depression wasn’t something people talked about, or at least not the people I knew) was Diana Wynne Jones’s Fire and Hemlock, which talks about the heroine feeling a “jet of misery” inside her. I’m sure the sense of recognition I felt at that is a huge part of why Fire and Hemlock is my favourite of Diana Wynne Jones’s books and a comfort read I go back to again and again.

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It’s funny how often emotions seem to be reflected in the stomach. Butterflies for anxiety, obviously, and for the last few weeks I haven’t so much had a jet of misery as a cold hard lump of ice settled just below my solar plexus. And happiness has its physical component, too: a kind of bubbling, fizzing sensation. It’s not one I’ve felt very often over the last few months, but walking home this evening, in the sunshine of what really felt like a spring afternoon (even though it was still chillier than the number of people in cropped trousers might have made you think), having had an OK day at work and just got off the phone to T, for a few minutes it felt as though the iceberg of depression had melted and the spring of happiness was bubbling through again.

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.)

Cautiously optimistic

I don’t want to tempt Fate, but even though getting up, showering and putting clothes on still felt like a huge effort this morning once I was dressed and at work I definitely felt more comfortable in my own skin than I have for several weeks.

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I could tell I was feeling a bit better last night because I am trying to keep up the mindfulness practice, even though the course wasn’t as inspiring as I would have hoped (and there were some things which I felt were uncomfortably victim-blamey, like being told that “people’s attitude to stress is what determines their reaction to it” and “people who make time for nurturing activities get less depressed”, which seemed to me to come awfully close to “if you’re stressed or depressed, it’s because you have the wrong attitude”), because the meditation does seem to have a calming effect, and after several days of finding it really hard to concentrate last night it was suddenly much easier to quieten my mind down. And today, while I’m still definitely depressed, it’s been more of a dull ache than the unbearable pain of the last few weeks. Hopefully that’s a good sign.

Another good sign is the fact that I’m starting to have random crafty thoughts again. Walking to work this morning I was thinking about what I might spin for the Stitched Together Spin-Along, and last night I was considering puffin fabric and thinking about making a puffin skirt. Which I think has to be done, but which print should I choose, and which fabric should I go for?

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!