crafting

Westknits MKAL 2021

Just to make things clear right from the start there are going to be spoilers in this post so if you’re taking part in the Stephen West MKAL 2021 and you don’t want to see clue one, then thank you for your time but stop reading right now. There will be spoiler photos below.

This is my first time taking part in a Westknits MKAL I’ve always felt tempted by them but I’ve never actually made the leap before. I think, like a lot of people who hold back, it’s the mystery part that I was hesitant about but now I’ve started I absolutely love it and thankfully as the design is emerging I am enjoying it so much. I think it’s going to be absolutely stunning.

The kit I bought at Sweater Weather

Originally I bought a pack from Fruitful Fusion at the new Sweater Weather festival in the Maltings, Farnham, Surrey last month and I did actually cast on with the colours from that pack but, and this is not a criticism of those yarns at all because they are each individually gorgeous, I just wanted to swap out a couple to give it a slightly more autumnal feel.

My MKAL palette

So here are my runners you need five skeins. one has to be dark one light and one colour pop I’m not sure I’ve stuck strictly to that but here we are my colour A is called Sunflower (Fruitful Fusion) my B is from Travel Knitter I can’t remember the actual name of this yarn because I took it from a project that I frogged but this is a sort of peacock teal, C is Orange Hot Chocolate (Fruitful Fusion), D is Forest (Fruitful Fusion) and lastly E is Rusty Nail from Once Upon a Time Skeins who sadly no longer dies commercially (and I feel the loss sorely).

So you can see I really have gone for the most autumnal colours I could put together I like that section 1 looks like the sun and the teal looks like a stormy sky with the autumnal colours of foliage peeking through. I hope I’ll be this lucky with my shawl story for the rest of the colours going forward with the MKAL but so far so good.

crafting · Knitting

Colour work and me – On the Fence Socks

I started making the socks quite long time ago now I think it might have been last year (or maybe even the year before) when Ciasbod podcast was doing her free sock year long knit long using free sock patterns and this was the first pair. The pattern is called On the Fence by Anna Lange and it is available on Ravelry.

I thought I’d give them a go because I’ve never made colour work socks before, to be honest it has never really appealed, it just seems too fiddly and I was a bit intimidated. But then again as the knitalong name says – they’re a free sock pattern so I thought why not dip my toe in (excuse the lame pun there) and have a go.

I cast on using yarn I had in stash, the navy was a full ball that I picked up in the Rag Market market in Birmingham quite a long time ago and pink was left over West Yorkshire Spinners’ Florist range from my Hermione socks. Basically what I’m saying here is I didn’t invest heavily.

I don’t really enjoy using charts so I have found that part a bit difficult and on the first sock I made a few mistakes but only I know about them and really who is going to look at my socks that closely? So it doesn’t really matter if there are some wobbles.

Turns out colour work’s not so bad after all. I’m not saying I’m going to rush do it again, it wasn’t bad but I didn’t love it. The placement of the colour work is a bit lost on me because that’s never going to be on show up there near the cuff and I moved up by about 10 to 15 rows the colourwork band that is supposed to join up with the contrast toe so I could have it peeking out of where the gap starts of my maryjane shoes. They do look a bit odd seeing them like this, I know.

I’m on the foot of the second sock now so not doing too badly with second sock syndrome, even though these have been on my needles for over a year, that’s no big deal for me. I’m not really a monogamous knitter so projects can hang around with me for a very, very long time and that that never really bothers me. Let’s see – perhaps I will make more colourwork socks in the future perhaps I won’t but at least I’m not intimidated by them now.

crafting · Knitting

I lost at yarn chicken

I finished my Habitation Throw and I want to say right now that this story has a happy ending, even though I did mess it up along the way in more ways than running out of yarn.

Right here is where I ran out of yarn, so so near the end but not close enough that I could fudge it and finish a bit short without it looking weird. You can see in these two pictures just how close to the end I was, that’s the very last row of eyelets before the final decreases and i-cord bind off.

Where I went wrong with yarn management was right in the middle, I did exactly what the pattern and everyone else tells you not to do, I just used up all of half my yarn before starting the decreases so when I got to the other end I was just a few metres short.

I had nothing at all in my stash that came anywhere near close so I went back to the shop where I’d bought the set originally but they didn’t have any more in stock (pretty sure I bought the the last set) then I went to the source (the yarn dyer) to see if she had any more sets of the yellows mini skeins. Luck was really not wholly on my side because they were not a repeatable set but she had other sets with yellow in that looked close enough so I bought her ‘Autumn’ mini skein set, and very nice it is too.

At the moment I don’t have a plan for the other minis in the set but I feel like the main job of mini skeins is to hang around in your stash until circumstances call them into heroic action.

So here we are, the finished blanket with a slightly differently shaded nub at the end but no worse for it. Felt Fusion yarns are beautiful to work with and it think it blends in well enough to not be noticeable unless I choose to point it out, which in real life I’m not going to do.

This now lives on the chair in my spare room which also acts as my cat’s bedroom and my home office and it brightens up my day every time I look at it.

The other thing I did wrong was to trust in my memory of how magic knot works so 2 or three times knots just fell apart and I had to rescue that as best I could, one of the knots that failed was in the middle of an eyelet row so that was a bit worse to repair but I can’t find where that was now so I must have done a pretty good job.

If you haven’t cast on a Habitation Throw (pattern by Curious Handmade) yet then I really recommend it, its a real comfort knit and you end up with something so beautiful at the end. I’ve cast on another one in cream to gift as a baby blanket, and even knitting it in one colour I really look forward to adding some rows at the end of my working day. I am definitely not using magic knots again though, in the baby blanket version I’ve plumped for Russian joins which are a bit thicker but those sections are so small you really don’t notice them.

crafting · Knitting

Today I’m Making… Christmas socks, yes I am.

The next project that is my main focus are these Bob Socks – the same Louise Tilbrook pattern that I’m using for those grey toned socks – I just really like the way they fit and the wrap and turn heel is so much easier to do than a heel flap and gusset. Picking up stitches is not my favourite thing and with this type of heel you don’t do that at all so that’s a massive win for me, I also prefer a rounded toe to a wedge to fit my Viking toe.

Knitting in the garden at the weekend with the Wee Sew and Sew

I’ve just finished this book too, its a lovely read, OK its a bit sad, after all the woman’s fiancé gets killed in a car crash pretty early on but it doesn’t leave you feeling all full of doom and gloom either, there’s a lot of humour in it with her family and work and all that.

When I first cast these on in December 2020 (cast on as a second pair for the Strictly sockalong) I used the garter panel option from the pattern but I didn’t really like it, but I carried on with it right until I’d nearly finished the first sock and here’s how they looked. Not bad but not my cup of tea somehow. I did however have my Christmas nails painted to match which was a great idea right up until the point the third lockdown started leaving me still having Christmas nails on Valentines day.

The thing is, what is the point of putting the time and effort into making handmade socks if you’re not going to love them? So I ripped them out and started again as a pair of vanilla socks. It’s the stripes, they don’t need any help from texture do they?

The yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners’ Candy Cane, which is a Christmas yarn but its not so Christmassy that you can’t wear these at any time of the year, I think the green is quite spring-like. The needles are Knit Pro Smart Stix dps which I like purely because the stripes are pretty, I don’t use them to measure my knitting but I suppose I could if I couldn’t find any of my tape measures, I do have a bit of a weakness for tape measures so I tend to have quite a lot of them.

I bought mine from a LYS – Seeded in Southsea, well worth a visit if you’re down my way.

If you use Ravelry, I have a project page for these socks which you can find here. I think it is entirely possible I will have finished these by the end of May, I’m entering then into the Needles at the Ready Spring make along, they’re encouraging us all to finish off some WIPs, there are prizes but its the make-along element that I like, its really spurring me on to finish some long standing projects.

So here we are, just about to turn the heel, I reckon the next time you see these I’ll be on on the second sock.

Cat in a teacup!
crafting · Knitting

Today I’m Making… Bob socks

What do you say, 75% complete?

I’ve put some time into my Bob Socks – a pattern by Louise Tilbrook – and I’m really pleased with them. Mind you I cast these on in September 2018 so they were due a bit of attention. I am making these using Opal yarn from the Style range and the colour is Senstationell. I’m knitting them using my beloved Lyn Roberts Design silver dpns, and yes that is silver as in the precious metal, not just the colour.

I do need some fairly normal colour socks, most of my sock yarn is quite bright colours and sometimes you just need something a bit more toned down don’t you? Then again if I cast these on in 2018 and haven’t finished them yet my need can’t be that great can it?

The thing with me is I do like to cast on every single thing that takes my fancy. I’m not happy if I have an empty project bag knocking around and I do like buying project bags. Which is great and everything, but it means I have so many things on the needles that not much actually gets finished. Consequently I’ve been a bit stern with myself and I’m going to make an effort to actually finish some stuff this year. I can’t take all the credit for this self-control, it’s mainly because the marvellous Needles at the Ready YouTube knitting channel are running a MAL to finish your languishing WIPs.

So far it’s going really well, I have cast off and blocked two quite big projects already this year and I’m on track to finish last year’s Christmas socks in time for the height of summer. I’ve also just finished (and listed in my Etsy shop) an embroidered artwork I’ve been working on for a few weeks.

Obviously this is not going to stop me from also casting on all the things, I’ve signed up for the Curious Handmade Shawl Society which starts this month (yarn should be delivered in the next couple of days for the first one) and I’m also going to join in on The Fibre Hustle‘s (another excellent knitting and sewing YouTube channel) Vertices Unit knit-a-long which starts on 1st June. See you there?

crafting · Knitting

The Curling Mist Shawl – The Shawl Society Season 5 – Curious Handmade

Links to patterns and projects in this blog post will take you to Ravelry pages.

Earlier this year I signed up to the Curious Handmade Shawl Society season 5, I bought season 2 of the Curious Handmade (Helen Stewart) The Handmade Sock Society, but I only finished one pair of the set and I don’t know why because all the patterns were absolutely stunning. I didn’t cast them on as each pattern was released and for me that was a mistake – I only finished a pair of the Shell Cottage socks (the first in the set) yet they are one of my favourite pairs of socks to wear and I think they are the prettiest socks I’ve ever made.

At the moment I’m not really in a very socky kind of mood, but I really must make the effort to cast on the others in the series. But I’m not here to talk about knitting socks, or not knitting socks. I am very much in a shawl knitting mood this year and everything I’ve heard about the Shawl Society in previous years has been super positive – everyone who takes part in it loves it and I know Helen Stuart’s shawl designs are right up my alley. Plus I just love the way she writes patterns, I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoy them, she famously has that percentage system so you always know where you are and how far you’ve come but I also love that you can tick off every single row because I am a paper pattern woman and I love a checklist.

I don’t know why I haven’t joined the Shawl Society in previous years (apart from being an idiot) but I signed up this time and now I’m in a six month (at least) stretch of happy.

So the first shawl in season 5 is the Curling Mist Shawl which is an asymmetric shawl that has quite deep bands of garter stitch and bands of a simple cables. The garter panels are just so comforting and satisfying to do and then bands of simple cables are just enough interest without being fiddly or painful. The cables really do look like curling mist or like the view from my spare room when it’s been raining and then the sun comes out and rain water evaporates off the shed roof. I find that kind of thing is absolutely beautiful and you can totally knit this in front of the TV.

I’m making mine all in one colour like in the pattern but I’m not using the yarn weight that the pattern calls for because I think that was a sport weight and I didn’t find one that I liked that was readily available and in my budget so I went with Drops Alpaca in mid brown.

My Curling Mist Shawl on my new decking

It’s quite hairy yarn so I’ll be interested to see how it blocks out but it is clearly going to be a really beautiful cosy shawl because of the alpaca – I’m imagining myself wearing it in the Autumn instead of a jacket. You can’t massively see the detail in this photo but once its blocked I’ll take some better pictures of the cables.

Right now I’m about 70% of the way through the pattern and I’m making it my main evening TV knitting. I like to have one main project that I work on every days and then lots of others in the background that I can pick up and do a few rows on when the fancy takes me. Another two shawl patterns have been released since I cast this on but my main project at the time was my Vertices Unite so this one had a bit of a slow start, I have cast on the next two and there’s another pattern release at the end of next week I think. I am going to finish this one though before picking up the Silver River Shawl (the next one in the queue!), I have cast that on though and the one after that which is bee themed. I think the next one is a lace weight and I’m pretty sure I know which yarn I’m going to use – I have a West Yorkshire spinners Exquisite Yarn in a gorgeous rich navy blue and I think you need a contrast so once the pattern is released I’ll make a decision about that but I have seen a lovely lemon and grey laceweight yarn in the Wool Warehouse sale (I can’t member the name of it) which would look lovely with the navy but I just want to actually see the pattern before I order it to see if it will work with the design. If by then its no longer in stock it’s not a big deal I’ll just buy something else but I do love that lemon and grey combination.

crafting

The Synonym Scarf

I did it! I actually finished a project. I’m so happy with it and here we are –

I’ve talked about this in a previous post but in case you missed that or didn’t take it in properly (rude) then this was a kit bought from Knit With Attitude so as much as I’d like to, I can’t take any credit for the colours, yarn texture or pattern. The pattern was designed by George Cullen and it is in the Knit with Attitude ten year anniversary book, you can buy the book and the kits here if you want. You should want. It was lovely to knit and the yarn is gorgeous.

I’ve had loads of compliments on the socials for it while I was still knitting it and now that its finished loads more. Personally I think its one of the nicest things I’ve made so I quite fancy casting on another one. I’m currently keeping half an eye open for a laceweight yarn to combine with some yarn in my stash. Damn the stupid Covid or I’d have it already. Mind you Handmade Studios is not very far away I may have that laceweight in hand at the weekend.

Now, my knitting is not perfect, not by a long chalk so let me be a lesson to you. Do not knit when you are a bit tiddly or very tired and definitely not both things together. There is one extra wide yellow stripe where I was a bit tiddly and messed up the stitch count, so I had to bung in some extra stripes so that meant I finished a stripe section on the wrong colour and got the extra thick yellow stripe. I quite liked it though it stayed in. The bit I’m not proud of was starting the very simple lace section very late at night and a glass and a half of chardonnay in. I knew I’d loused it up but I couldn’t be bothered tinking it so I just carried on the next day regardless. So my first lace section looks like its been gnawed by the cat. I should have ripped that back but really its not that horrendous and no-one is checking it for perfection apart from me, are they?

Knitting

Today I’m Making – Mini Mania scarf

I think I’m in the final stretch of my mini mania scarf – at least I’ve nearly finished the I Knit London 2018 advent yarn so after that it will just be a matter of adding another grey stripe and that will be it done.

These first two pictures below are from June last year, its quiet bunched up on the needles so you don’t really get the vastness of it. Plus its linen stitch so you can do quite a few rows without increasing very much length. I wonder if the blocking will make it grow much? I haven’t made anything in linen stitch before.

I do want to finish it and get it blocked, I think it’s going to be absolutely stunning and quite possibly enormous, but on the other hand I’m enjoying making it so I don’t want to finish it particularly. These next two pictures are from this week. You can see how much I’ve done if you look for that bright pink stripe.

That’s quite a lot really, when you think every row is equivalent to doing half a row in height because you’re slipping every other stitch. Look at the way the stitch blends the colours though, in that blue stripe there’s cream and two shades of blue, then in the grey stripe there’s a yarn that was yellow with purple and green flecks and then there’s a semi solid green after that. I reckon I only have another two 5g minis to put in. At some point.

The weather here this week is a bit grey and rubbish, we have had some lovely bright days (though still pretty nippy) recently but it looks like we’re about to have a patch of rainy weather so not ideal for outdoor blocking and drying. I fancy blocking it on mats in the back garden, mainly because I think it will be too big to do indoors without taking over the entire living room floor, but also because I think it will dry faster outside on a nice day than indoors with the central heating on. I get too hot to have the heating on much so I’m a bit worried it might go fusty if it hangs around indoors a bit damp for any length of time.

Its not like there’s any rush, I’m not exactly knitting to a deadline if I bought the yarn in 2018, cast it on in 2019 and I’m still knitting it in 2021. I really fancy casting on another one after this as a scrappy project. I think if I made another one I’d cast on far fewer stitches and work it end to end rather than long edge up. God can you imagine if after I block this its too short to wear round my shoulders?

It will be fine. It will be fine. It will be fine. It will be fine. It will be fine. It will be fine.

crochet · Etsy · Shopping · vintage · vintage hair

Snood of the week – Fancy green cotton

A new snood, in infancy.

Today I’m going to finish this snood, I’m making a small one as a custom order for a customer and while she’s said she’s in no rush for it I’d rather get it done than have the poor thing hanging around half done and it’s pretty so I want to finish it. I call this one Fancy Green Snood because its fancy on two levels, the pattern is fancy and the cotton is pretty fancy too. I am resisting calling it Spring Greens (which is the name for it in my head).

I have started this snood and restarted it a few times now, it’s one of those stitches that you have to gauge by eye as you do it and a couple of times now I’ve taken a step back from it and seen a stitch in a row 2-3 rows back that I’m not happy with so I unravel it and do it again. If charged for my snoods by an hourly rate some of them would be in three figures. Still though, if its not right its not right and I have to redo it.

I only have this one ball of this mercerised cotton, I have no idea at all where I bought it so the chances are this is going to be a very limited colourway. Mind you, green is one of my favourite colours so if I do ever see some more of this I’d buy it but that kind of depends on being allowed to go to out to shops that are allowed to open…

That first picture was taken a good week ago, I know that because I’ve finished reading that book and nearly finished another since then. Here’s how it looks right now.

Looks a bit darker than in real life but you get the gist.

I only have the edging to do, a bit of sewing and then Bob’s your uncle, Fanny’s your aunt, we’re all tickety-boo and away she goes.

I do have one more of these in stock in my Etsy shop, its a large one. I think I have enough of this colour to make a medium and a small to complete the set but we’ll have to see how that goes as I make them. The pictures below are of the large size, I put a cream ribbon on this one because there is quite a lot of cream in this yarn and also variegated green is much harder to match to a ribbon!

crafting · Knitting

The Synonym Scarf

Here is the story of my Synonym Scarf so far. I don’t know if you are familiar with IKnit7 – roughly speaking its a group of 7 very cool independent bricks and mortar yarn shops who came up with a really good promotion to help them all get through the trials of lockdown. Basically there is a week-long promotion where each shop in turn puts on a special promotion, with discounts, special offers and exclusive kits, that sort of thing. Its good fun because they also do Instagram lives, virtual shop tours, mystery hunts and there was a Zoom party at the end of the last one because there’s also a massive prize draw that you get entered into if you buy something from at least three of the shops. Look it up. I think there have been two so far, not sure if/when they will do another but as the shops are spread all over the UK you get to have a squizz at shops you might never otherwise have heard of or visited.

In the last one Knit With Attitude had a discount code and I’d really fancied getting a copy of their 10 year anniversary book and I also ‘needed’ a pair of needles for a project so I snapped both up then and there. The book is something else, it’s a really beautiful thing (I think the person that does the photography for Laine magazine did the photos for it) it has 12 projects, all of which have been designed by really talented people. To coincide with the book Knit With Attitude are also running a year long knitalong, on Instagram mainly, taking a different pattern from the book each month. Course I’m right in there, I love to feel included in things. February was the Synonym Scarf, designed by George Cullen, who works at KWA and also curated several colourways of yarn kits to go with it. Obvs I I’ve bought one of those because the pattern is right up my street, being a parallelogram with lots of garter stitch, some simple lace, stripes and i-cord edging. Marvellous.

I went for the Indigo set which gets you three skeins of denimy type blues and a skein of mustard. Colemans is my favourite condiment and mustard suits everyone so a pretty safe bet for me because I tend to wear black, navy or charcoal and accessorise with blue and green with the odd bit of mustard or pink thrown in.

What I’m going to say is, however easy and comforting a pattern is, do not knit it when you are dog-tired or tiddly. I’m just going to leave it at that and if you spot a random thick yellow stripe or a patch of wonky lace we’ll say no more about it.