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.
This is a good thing, because the canal towpath is very muddy at the moment and the first pair really did need a wash!
The rainbow hat I made last weekend is now blocked and has its pompom sewn on.
I love it, it’s such a fun hat and the pompom makes me smile.
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!
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!
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.
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…
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.
The Sekrit Sewing Project is no longer Sekrit (it was a birthday present for my friend B, hence the secrecy), so I can show you what it was.
It’s a Japanese knot bag, made from two fat quarters of quilting cottong using this tutorial. It took me about three and a half hours to make – two hours the weekend before last to do steps one to five and an hour and a half last weekend to try to work out what the hell I was actually meant to do for step six, try various different approaches and eventually realise that I probably shouldn’t have sewn the seams on the sides of the handles right to the top, unpick the tops of the seams, sew the linings together, press everything to within an inch of its life and slip-stitch the tops of the handles in the outer fabrics together while ensuring that all frayed ends were poked carefull away inside. Possibly not a tutorial that was actually aimed at beginners…
I’m pleased with the finished object, though, and more importantly B seems pleased with it too! It’s big enough to fit a small knitting project – socks, hat or so on – and I do like the way you can hang the strap from your wrist while keeping the contents secure (very important for knitting on the bus). I might even make myself one, though I might just be thinking of doing that to put off starting to think seriously about dressmaking again.
I don’t think I ever blogged my finished Trillian shawl, because by the time it was blocked and ready to show off I really wasn’t feeling like blogging, but like it a lot and wore it today.
I love how the yarn pooled and striped as the shawl got wider, and it’s a really nice shape to wear as a scarf to add a bit of interest to a plain dress and keep out the drafts round my neck without adding too much warmth (I think it’s ridiculous that offices seem to be kept so warm that a cardigan is excessive in January, but they do).
I’m definitely planning to make more of Martina Behm’s patterns, this was simple enough to be a fun, fast knit and make good use of a yarn that was too variegated to show off lace or cables, but I love the way it looks.
Sneaking in under the wire, one last finished project for 2013:
Completely plain top-down socks for me in Sparkleduck‘s self-striping yarn in the “Cloth Cat” colourway. Bagpuss socks to cheer me up on wet grey winter days (such as today appears to be).
I finished another pair of Earl Greys for T:
The yarn is Twistle from The Yarn Yard, a (discontinued) high-twist merino/nylon sock yarn. The colours were perfect for socks for T, but because of the extra twist the yarn is only 400 yards to 100g, rather than the normal 400m, and that isn’t quite enough for T-sized socks, which is why one toe is plain grey. (It’s one two rather than both because I was weighing the yarn as I got to the end of the first sock, and was delighted to finish with exactly 50g left – only to weigh the completed sock and discover that it weighed 53g, so the skein must have been slightly over. But I couldn’t be bothered to unravel the first toe to make them match.) I won’t be trying to use the high-twist sock yarns for socks for T again!
I also finished this year’s Woolly Wormhead Mystery Hat. This is knitted in Fyberspates Vivacious DK in wonderful bright magenta.
I knitted the non-slouchy version but it’s still pretty slouchy, and the yarn is quite dense so it feels surprisingly heavy, particularly compared to the Tea Cake tam which is very light, but I like it a lot.
I used some of the leftovers to make myself a new keyring, as my sheep keyring has reached the stage where it looks like a blob of grubby fluff and a pipecleaner rather than an actual sheep.
This is Skein Queen Debbie Orr’s Sweet Little Owlets pattern and the buttons are from Susan Sharpe.
I’m still plugging along on my Pi Shawl, but most of my knitting time over the last few days has been spent on Martina Behm‘s Trillian. I cast on for this on Wednesday evening, having finished T’s socks at knit night and needing something that I could knit on the bus on Thursday morning that didn’t require me to wind yarn; I’m using some Schaefer Anne in the “Virgina Woof” colourway that I wound a couple of months ago for a shawl that turned out to be too lacy for the variegated yarn to work well, but it’s perfect for the garter stitch of Trillian, and the pattern is absolutely addictive. I have even been taking it to bed with me to get a few more rows done before I put the light out!
The theme of the design competition at this year’s Glasgow School of Yarn was “Iconic Glasgow”, and the winning entry was a hat cunningly designed to look like the wrapper of a Tunnock’s Tea Cake, designed by my friend Lauren. I couldn’t resist volunteering to test knit the pattern, and now have my very own Tea Cake Tam!
It’s knitting in Jamieson and Smith’s 2-ply jumper weight yarn, and the corrugated ribbing makes it lovely and cosy over my ears.
It took me less than a week to knit and is such a fun hat I’m sure I’ll be wearing it lots.
If you want to knit your own (and who could resist?) Lauren has now released the pattern, and it’s free on Ravelry until the end of the month: Tea Cake. I’m wondering about making another one in blue and yellow like the dark chocolate version. Though for now I think I might just settle for a cuppa and an actual tea cake.
Last weekend I decided I was going to have a go at knitting up my handspun. I looked at various cowl patterns on Ravelry and was initially planning to combine it with a commercial yarn in a solid colour to make something like the Paint Boxes cowl, but there was so much variability in the thickness of the handspun that it looked very strange against the even thickness of the commercial yarn, so in the end I decided that I’d just use the handspun and make a Calorimetry out of it.
The yarn is very thick-and-thin; in places it was more like pencil roving than yarn, and in others it was far too thin and twisty (and in some places I had the two extremes plied together), but it doesn’t make a bad fabric knitted up.
The result may be bit big (I needed to put two buttons at the back and the ends overlap by several inches) but it’s lovely and cosy.
Anyway, there is likely to be a lot more handspun around here, as one of the things I am doing this weekend is assmbling my new wheel…