Tag Archives: socks

Making something different

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!

These socks were made for walking

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…

Weekend crafting, 1-2 February

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.


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).

Recent knits

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!


Woolly jewellery

When I was at Woolfest in June I bought some gorgeously-coloured felted beads and some embroidery silks with the plan of making necklaces out of them. A mere three and a half months later I finally got round to doing that.

Blue and orange necklace

Bright blue and orange beads, strung on orange thread as a short necklace. I sewed a small button to one end of the thread and made a loop at the other to fasten the necklace.

Purple necklace

Purple, burgundy and red beads on burgundy thread as a long necklace.

Obviously, that didn’t take very long. I have no idea why I put it off for so long.

In case you think putting some beads on some thread is a pretty poor excuse for actual crafting content, I did finish a pair of socks as well.


They’re the Bigger on the Inside socks by Heidi Nick, in the leftover Sparkleduck Galaxy from my Bigger on the Inside shawl; it seemed quite appropriate to pick another Doctor Who themed pattern, and I wanted swirly Time Vortex-y cables which is certainly what I got. I love the way the cables are worked around the heel increases at the back.

Sparkly socks

The only modification I made was to mirror the cable twists on the second sock. I didn’t think I would have quite enough yarn so I ended up using a different blue yarn from my stash for the toes, though it might actually have been OK in the end.

Yarn crawl

Yesterday I went to London for the Great London Yarn Crawl (kind of like a pub crawl but with yarn shops instead of pubs – far more civilised and much more appropriate for those of us who don’t drink alcohol).

Yarn crawl

There were five routes, and I had picked the purple route (what a surprise!). Each group visited four shops during the day, travelling between them by Underground, bus and train; there was probably as much time spent travelling, knitting and chatting as there was shopping, but the other knitters in the group were lovely and great company and it was fun to see the surprised looks of other people at the sight of a group of thirteen women all knitting on public transport. I completely failed to take any photos during the day, but there are lots on the flickr group for the day, including several of our group from Katheleen.

Unsurprisingly, I did manage to buy quite a lot of things.

Yarn crawl haul

We started the day at Loop, which was the only shop I’d been to before, where I couldn’t resist some Madeline Tosh Tosh Merino Light:


From Loop, we headed up to Finsbury Park and the Handweavers Studio, where I went a bit mad over the little sample bags of different kinds of fibre they had.


Well, everyone says that when you’re first learning to spin you should try as many different fibres as possible! I even got a tiny bag of qiviut, which is very soft but does remind me rather of the lint that we empty out of the vacuum cleaner, and I also bought a niddy-noddy to make it easier to skein yarn after I’ve spun it.

We then took a rather circuitous route (south to Green Park then about the same distance north in a slightly more westerly direction) to West Hampstead where we stopped for some lunch before visiting the Village Haberdashery, a lovely little shop as much devoted to sewing as knitting, where I bought the new Colette Patterns Zinnia skirt pattern. And then, finally, we caught the Thameslink train to Herne Hill and visited Sharp Works. I was flagging a bit by this point, but still managed to buy a skein of Manos del Uruguay Alegria sock yarn for T (never let it be said I go on yarny days out and don’t think of him!).

Manos Alegria

(I also had another present for T when I met up with him in the evening; a finished pair of Earl Greys from the stripy Sparkleduck yarn I bought for him at Woolfest:

Stripy socks

I was knitting on these on the train down and the various bits of public transport, finally kitchenering the toes and weaving in the ends on the Jubilee Line to West Hampstead.)

At the end of the day we all headed back to Waterloo for the “afterparty” in the upstairs room of a pub. For me, this was the only (comparatively) low point of the day; I was physically tired and had also reached the limit of my capacity to socialise with people and even if I didn’t find pubs difficult places to be anyway what I really needed was some quiet time by myself, and it turned out that the room was really not big enough for all the people trying to squeeze into it and the bar was very small and had a long queue and I really couldn’t be bothered to stand around waiting for my turn so I could buy a lime and soda, and with hindsight I should just have skipped it completely and found a quietish corner of a cafe to sit down with a cup of tea until it was time to go and meet T. But that’s really just me, and nothing at all to do with the organisation of the day, which was terrific, and I will definitely try to go along again next year, time and budget allowing!

Heads and toes

I suspect that most of the knitters reading this will have heard of Woolly Wormhead, Hat designer extraordinaire. I’ve made several of her Hats myself (I made two last winter alone) and I’m sure I’ll make more. Woolly and her family live on an artists’ commune in northern Italy, which is currently under threat of eviction, and Woolly has just released a special collection of patterns entitled Hatopia to help to raise money towards the legal costs of fighting this. It costs £9 and has 10 gorgeous Hat patterns in it (several of which were on my list of patterns to buy sometime anyway!). If you like knitting Hats, go and check it out and think about buying a copy to support a group of people who are trying to save their home.

Hundertwasser socks

It hasn’t really been hat weather lately, but I have finished another pair of socks for T. Earl Grey again (number 13, according to Ravelry – how is it that I have made so many pairs and I can still never remember if I decrease to 24 or 20 stitches on the toes?), in Opal Hundertwasser. They took me a bit longer than normal because I’ve only been knitting them on the bus, and for a lot of July I was only knitting them on the way to work, when I only spend about 15 minutes on the bus anyway, because it was just too hot to even think about touching wool on the way home, but they’re done. I suspect that pair number 14 won’t be very far behind…

What I did on my holidays

We spent the last week in Cumbria.

I finished my Mixalot socks:


(I also finished my Bigger on the Inside, though it still needs blocking, and knitted enough of my Lady Heather that it feels as though the end is in sight.)

T did jigsaws, including one based on a popular and long-running radio series.

Ambridge jigsaw

We walked from St Bee’s to Whitehaven over the cliffs.


We didn’t see any puffins, but there were lots of gulls and guillemots perching on the cliffs.


I even got to paddle!

(We also managed to get rather sunburnt.)

And I went to Woolfest, where there were sheep and goats and alpacas and angora bunnies.

Jacobs sheep

And lots of gorgeous yarn and fibre and other craft-related things, some of which came home with me.

Woolfest haul

And, most importantly, I got to spend yesterday with friends I haven’t seen in person for far too long. I know that lots of people are a bit sceptical about internet friendships and see them as in some way lesser than friendships made offline, but while I have been burnt a couple of times I have been burnt just as badly by “real-life friends” who turned out not to be quite as much of friends as I thought they were, and for me being able to talk to people through various online services and get advice and support or just distraction and pictures of cute animals when I’ve needed them has been incredibly valuable; I don’t think it would be exaggerating to say that on occasion it really has been a lifeline. But however wonderful it is to have such fabulous people living inside my computer, it’s even more wonderful to get to spend time with them in person and I hope it won’t be too long until the next time!

Sock update

There doesn’t seem to have been a lot of knitting on this blog recently, though there’s been plenty of knitting in my life. I’ve been working on several fairly large projects, though, so they remain very much works in progress; I’m about halfway through the Lady Heather shawl, on to the sleeves of the Metro cardigan, and have nearly finished the TARDISes on Bigger on the Inside. I did finish some socks for T this weekend, though. I think these are my twelfth pair of Earl Greys.

Earl Grey the nth

The yarn is the Knitting Goddess’s basic sock yarn, in a one-off colourwsy she dyed for the first Fibre Flurry show in Birmingham in 2010. Despite having made so many pairs of these socks before, this pair took longer than usual, largely because I managed to decrease too many stitches in the gusset of the first sock and got almost to the tip of the toe before I realised that I had four stitches fewer on the sole than on the top of the foot and had to rip back and reknit the foot.

My next sock project is another of Rachel Coopey’s patterns (I may be slightly obsessed…), Mixalot Socks. The pattern is written for sets of co-ordinating mini skeins but I thought it would be a good opportunity to use up some of my sock yarn leftovers and picked out these five balls (also all from the Knitting Goddess).


As if the colour combination wasn’t crazily colourful enough, I’ve decided to use a random number generator to pick which colour and lace chart to knit each time. These are going to be fun socks!