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 · Knitting

The Habitation Throw and managing WIPs

For the longest time I’ve been admiring the Helen Stewart (otherwise known as Curious Handmade) Habitation Throw. There are always delicious pictures of it on Instagram, so many people seem to be making them in the most sublime colours and also it just looks so snuggly and such a comforting that I had to cast one on.

I did intend to gift it, originally. I have someone in mind and everything. I was gifted some really pretty peach and white sparkly acrylic baby yarn by someone at work and I thought that would just make the prettiest blanket. But then I forgot all about that when we moved house so that yarn is still living in a suitcase in my wardrobe. Then I had a lovely trip to Handmade Studios in Petersfield and they had a little basket full of beautiful mini skein sets by Felt Fusion. There is a really beautiful teal set that I fancied but I needed at least two sets to make the blanket big enough but there was only one teal set in stock and I couldn’t find another set of minis that would work well with the teal so I bought the spring greens set and the yellows. I think I made the right choice because they are so pretty and so sunny and springlike and cheerful, working with them makes me smile every time I pick it up.

I had a grand time with The Mister sorting out how I was going to transition the colours, at first I thought I’d start the deepest shade of green to the lightest in the middle green and the on the other half go from the lightest yellow to the deepest at the other end. I think that could have been really beautiful and half of me wishes I had done that, but I laid them all out on the big grey rug in the living room in different combinations of how I was going to do the stripes and and we agreed that what looked nicest was having the deepest shades at the outer corner and then striping alternate colours into the middle. You can see from the pictures further down better than I can explain it but basically it goes deepest green, palest yellow, next deepest green, next stronger yellow until you end with the palest green before the strongest yellow.

This has been quite a quick one really, I’m terrible for casting things on, doing a little bit on them and then casting something else on, doing a little bit on that and then going back to some other aging project, doing a little something on that, and round and round we go never finishing anything. This year I’ve been doing things a bit differently. Now, I have to make at least one black snood for my Etsy shop every day, so I alternate between that and one main project (Habitation Throw). Once I’ve finished the daily black snood I can then swap that for a second project because I like to have that little bit of variety.

So for instance today I’ve started off by working on a medium black snood because I always need to keep those stocked up, then once I’ve finished that I can bring in another thing in the snood’s place. Today that means I’ve got the Habitation Throw and then I’m also doing a mustard snood because that colour is completely sold out in my shop so they need a restock. The main project and the black snood are the same every day but the alternate project changes every day. My alternate project yesterday was a 1960s style beret, I didn’t get much done on that and I don’t think I have enough yarn to finish it either. Just to make it a bit more complicated I alternate the second project will be a snood in a different colour to black one one day, and then a knitting project on another day.

If I was knitting monogamously on the Habitation Throw it would be long finished but because I’m mixing in other projects with it it takes much longer to complete but I will actually finish it. It just works for me and keeps it fun because otherwise if I do one project and just snoods every day it would make crocheting the snoods feel like a bit of a chore. I do enjoy making snoods so I don’t want to spoil them for myself by making them endlessly every single day.

I feel that if I did that and they felt like a chore they might not be made to the best of my abilities because you have to enjoy what you’re making to make it well, don’t you?

So to get back to the Habitation Throw…. as you can see I’m a good way through it now in fact I’m nearly finished I’m down to my last two mini skin cakes. I have this palest of the greens to go and then the strongest of the yellows and then that’s done. What I think what I’m going to do with it is I might use it to cheer up the spare room because that’s where I’m work for my day job and I spend most of my day in there. It just needs just a little touch of colour so I thought I might just hang it on the back of the door and then that will brighten things up a bit in the background for when I have those fascinating Zoom meetings.

Nearly done, I’ll miss knitting it.

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?

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.

crafting · Knitting

Today I’m Making… Strictly Socks

Its Strictly season! Thank god for that. I needed a bit of sparkle and fun. You know what else that means don’t you? Its Strictly Sock time. If you don’t know what I’m talking about it’s the sock MAL run by Ali of the Little Drops of Wonderful podcast on YouTube. She runs this very easy going knit along every year where you quite simply knit a pair of socks while you watch Strictly. You’ll have to check the podcast (there’s a Ravelry group too) for all the details but there are prizes and cheating is encouraged so you don’t have to worry about sticking to a load of rules.

Not a ton of progress, admittedly.

I wanted to make a glitzy pair of socks because, obviously, its Strictly. Lucky lucky lucky me West Yorkshire Spinners have brought out their new Christmas yarn – Silent Night and it is sparkly! Its a sort-of stripe in a few shades of night or evening time blues with silver stellina to represent stars. I know. Its perfect.

I love West Yorkshire Spinners, and these Zandra Rhodes earrings which are sadly too heavy to wear except on Zoom meetings.

A couple of weeks ago I popped in to the brilliant Seeded independent yarn shop in Southsea (near Portsmouth) and picked up a ball (and a ball of WYS Candy Cane too for the Stranded Festive Sock Along) and got the free Comet Sock pattern by Winwick Mum too.

I did cast on for the Comet socks but I feel a bit funny about patterned yarn and lace designs together. It just feels like there is too much going on for me but I cast them on anyway knowing it was pretty sure that I wouldn’t like it, but I’m willing to be won over so I gave it a go.

If you can get to Southsea please go to Seeded, its a treat.

Nope. Frogged that. Two problems here, one is that I can’t do variegated and pattern all mixed up, it makes me feel oogly. Look at the picture from the pattern, you really can’t make out the lace pattern can you? The second is, I can’t watch Strictly and do a lace pattern at the same time. Not my brain, not my fingers.

I pulled them back to the rib and now I’m knitting them as just vanilla socks and I love them. The yarn is so pretty and I can just knit, knit, knit and not care if I’m in the middle of a round if I want to stop and just concentrate on Maisie’s amazing samba. Which I did, a bit open mouthed.

By now I’m sure you’re gagging to find out where I bought the best dpn holder ever for this project aren’t you? Its metallic gold and I got it from Pickle-Lily on Etsy. She has a ton of really nice dpn covers and project bags, so well worth a look there. It all came really nicely packaged too so that was a treat. The envelope had a rainbow on, the covers (I bought two) were wrapped in tissue paper and tied with candy striped twine and there was a little thank you note too. Just bloody lovely.

Also, I’ve had my nails done, so had to get those in.

I am going to make the Comet Socks at some point, the pattern looks really pretty but I’ll make them out of a solid colour yarn. I’d like to see the lace pattern clearly so I can appreciate the desigN. I have some Triskelion yarn in a lovely soft pink that I think would work well but I’m in two minds whether I want to use the pink for that or the Curious Handmade cream tea socks. I think what I need is some midnight blue solid sparkly yarn. Where am I going to find that? No really, tell me if you know where I can find that.


London memories

I’ve been looking through all the images I’ve kept in cloud storage and came across this one from 2017. This is was an absolutely stunning display outside a restaurant at Aldwych in London that I used to pass every day on my way to work. The flowers were all fresh and the colours were just so bright and beautiful. I loved it. It was a highlight of my day the whole time it was there and I would stop for a minute just to look at it from across the road.

Which I’m sure absolutely delighted all my fellow commuters rushing past.

This building is gorgeous too. I loved that the display worked in sympathy with the moulding above it; look at the expression on her face, its just magical. I really recommend looking up when you’re walking around London, or just get on the top deck of a bus and look at things that are above street level, there’s another layer of London up there that will take you right out of whatever ordinary thing you are doing.

This is one of those pictures that I come back to a lot when I want to see something that will lift my mood. I’ve realised looking at this again today that this is the exact colour scheme I’ve been planning for my garden next year.

We moved house at the end of July and have been clearing out what was a pretty scruffy garden, next year we’re going to have a bit of decking laid, the rest is going to be just grass with some stepping stones but on the decking we’re going to have just a few really beautiful pots with flowers in orange, hot pink and bright yellow, so yes it’s exactly this photo that is going to be our inspiration.


Today I’m Making… red snoods

Classic lipstick red

Today I’m concentrating on restocking my classic red snoods. In the picture it looks a bit brighter than in real life, thus is like the perfect shade of red lipstick, it’s an intense red without being too bright.

I think red can almost be used as a neutral, it will add a pop of colour to a dark outfit without looking too colourful and don’t believe that old wives tale about it clashing with red hair, I’m a redhead and I’ve seen other redheads wearing this shade and it looks cute.

If you’re like me and tend to wear mainly dark colours a red snood can be a nice way to add a bit of colour without feeling overwhelmed by it.

As you may know already I moved house not long ago so quite a lot of my yarn is still in boxes, I have only been able to lay my hands on this one back of red so there won’t be many of these in my shop but it is a staple colour for me so if you miss out this time it will be coming back at some point.