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.
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.
Apparently it rained every day but one in January here in Oxford, and I’m pretty sure it’s rained every day in February too. That’s a lot of rain.
My Gore-Tex lined Clarks boots are still not entirely comfortable, but as the problem seems to be that there’s just too much space in the ankle wearing them with handknitted socks over my tights seems to help, although that does make them a bit too tight in the feet. However, I think it’s worth a little discomfort not to have wet feet.
The weather is doing absolutely nothing to help my mental health, which is always at its lowest ebb in February; my mood plummets at the end of January as the reviving effect of the Christmas break wears off, and by mid-February I’m really struggling to make it through each day or see any point in being alive. Basically, I think that my brain is trying to kill me by convincing me that I’m a worthless waste of space and the world would be a better place without me in it and every day is a struggle not to give in to it. I do wonder whether living somewhere which actually had sunshine in the winter would make a difference…
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.
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…
Today’s outfit combined an actual vintage skirt with a jumper from a vintage pattern, although I suspect that wearing the jumper over a long-sleeved t-shirt lost any actual vintage credibility I might have aspired to. (Though really, whoever thought short-sleeved jumpers were a sensible idea?)
I left work just after five, because I had been wrestling with the black dog all day and mostly losing and I couldn’t take any more, and it was actually still properly daylight so I managed to retrace my morning walk along the canal (it was pretty dark by the end, but I could see well enough to avoid falling in, even if I couldn’t spot the muddy bits). After a difficult day the quiet and the birdsong and even the gathering darkness felt like a much-needed balm for my soul, but oh, how tedious being depressed is. I’m still persevering with the mindfulness, but at the moment it’s hard going because I’m in the kind of mood where I really resent doing things to manage my depression and make it easier to live with. I don’t want to live with it, I want it to be cured and never come back. Which isn’t going to happen, but particularly when things are bad it’s very hard to accept that.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
This is probably my least favourite of the outfits I’ve worn this week, but because today was the one day when I wasn’t out at the cinema (Tuesday) or knitting (yesterday) or wrestling with iTunes for an hour and a half until it was time to go and watch University Challenge (Monday), this is the one that gets a blog post.
At least the hummingbirds were cheerful on another miserable wet day.
This week I made a bag.
It’s not just any old bag, though. This is a special bottle-carrying bag.
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.
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.