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… 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.
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.

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.

Knitting

Today I’m Making… Shell Cottage Socks

We’re settling in nicely to our new home, we love this area, the people are so friendly and smiley – I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy anywhere I’ve lived.

Of course the house needs a few bits and bobs doing but nothing urgent and we’ve almost unpacked everything, I think there are about 18 boxes left, and most of that is stuff that really belongs in the loft or it’s my craft supplies that I need to buy new storage for. So now that we’re pretty much sorted I have been able to do some lovely relaxing Sunday knitting and what is better than a nice pair of socks?

Teensy bit too long for my blockers

These are my Shell Cottage Socks, they’re a design by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade and were the first socks in last year’s Sock Society. I love this pattern its so pretty and effective, I actually have two pairs of these on the needles but these grey ones are my favourite. I think they look just like those lovely cobblestone cottages you see driving through Hampshire.

I cast these on when the pattern was first released but because I like to cast on all the things and knit them all at once progress is painfully slow on with every single thing I make. I only recently finished the first sock – a good 18 months later.

I’m quite pleased with my gusset

This is absolutely no reflection on the pattern, I love Curious Handmade patterns, they’re so well written I’d happy knit nothing else but when I enjoy something I want it to last so here we are. I mean really, what is the rush? I’ll still have feet next week…

I’m knitting them on my lovely Knitpro wooden cubic out of Debbie Bliss Rialto Sock, which is very pretty but a bit too keen on unplying for my peace of mind.

Debbie Bliss Rialto Sock
Yarn bowl from Little Wren Potteries on Etsy
This is where they sleep, this bag is from Flying Tiger on one of their £2 sale days.
Lou Lou is not that interested in knitting.

Books · Knitting

Today I’m making… The Eren jumper

Good morning. Here we are again at Sunday and a nice long day of knitting ahead. It absolutely tipped down with rain here all day yesterday so that would have been a perfect day to make some progress with this jumper but I had a few things I needed to go to the next town along for so I spent the day getting drenched in between getting a hair cut, shopping (boring household things) and going to the post office.

So today the skies are clear and I’m staying indoors with YouTube, podcasts, Jewellery Maker and Sewing Quarter for company. Lovely. I’ll probably nip out to Costa later for a black forest hot chocolate but I really like a nice day in so I’m not that bothered if I don’t.

So here we are with today’s main project – the Eren jumper that I’m making for The Mister. I only have a female stand so please excuse the breastiness. Let me tell you, putting this on the stand still on the needles was not my best move. Getting it on was not easy and getting it off was worse. Even though I was careful I pinged the end caps off my needles and about 15 stitches came off. Thankfully alpaca yarn isn’t eager to unravel itself but it was a hairy moment.

Not that I’m not capable of picking up dropped stitches but I’d rather not. The yarn is locally produced at the fabulous Pennybridge Farm, they get it spun locally somewhere and sell the yarn in their farm shop. I bought five skeins and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that will be enough because I the chances of getting the exact same shade again are pretty low I would have thought. I’ll see where I am when I’ve finished the body before doing the rib, if I have to get another skein I’ll do the ribbing and neck in with that.

I would say the spinning of this yarn is generally excellent but there are the odd nubbly sections which we’re choosing to see as enhancing the natural beauty of the yarn, but best to let you know if that sort of thing bothers you. It is the softest most beautiful yarn and the colour is such a beautiful blend of pale faun. I’d happily knit with this again and again.

Can you see here the the colours? There’s a biscuitty beige, a taupe an almost yellow tone and also an underlying greyness that looks much more pronounced in this photo that in reality. Its beautiful. I cannot stress enough how enjoyable this is to knit with and the handle is a delight. We’re both in love with it.

I think they sell it for £14 a skein or 5 for £60 which is a very good price for alpaca. Its all undyed with very high welfare conditions.

This is the rear view, its going to have raglan sleeves and I’m pretty sure the neck will sit much higher than this, its just rolled a bit. Excuse the rumples, I’m using quite a small project bag to store it because it squishes up really small but it won’t fit in there much longer, certainly not when I get started on the sleeves. I estimate I have another 13 rows on the body to go, that will mean it will sit about hip length on The Mister.

There’s my Little Wren yarn bowl. That was also nearly a casualty of putting this jumper on the stand. At the point where the end cap pinged off I also nearly knocked the yarn bowl off its perch which would have been the end of that because we have hard floors and that’ how the last one went. Though you can buy kintsugi kits on Etsy and if I’d thought of it I would have got one to repair the last yarn bowl. That’s definitely what I’d do if I broke this one. I’m not going to break this one. I’m not.

Between bouts of knitting I’m reading this excellent book. A woman at work lent it to me, she said she couldn’t put it down and even thought about booking a day’s holiday to finish reading it. I can absolutely see why. Its so gripping. I’m going to buy The Mister a copy, he doesn’t get a lot of time to read so he’d need to have it for too long really and to be honest, it’s such a good book I feel bad for denying the author the royalties.

I can’t really tell you too much about it without giving any spoilers but basically this absolutely lovely guy has his world turned upside down on a spur of the moment decision. I said to my friend the other day that I know it’s not real, but I’m really worried about this guy. He’s such a nice person and I want things to be alright for him but I don’t think they will be.

As usual I’m limiting myself to 50 pages a day but I can completely see how you’d want to read the whole thing in one sitting, the descriptions are so evocative I can really see the characters, they seem so real its excruciating. I really think you should buy this book.

crafting · Knitting

Today I’m making… Christmas angels

Every year the local churches distribute hundreds of these little angels around town, they just appear overnight each with a positive message attached about Christmas, they call it the Fleet Angels project. Its a lovely sight, they’re literally everywhere – on shop window sills, hanging off trees and buses, dangling from railings… you might even find one hanging on your front door. I’m not a Christian but I do have a fair amount of scrap yarn that I accumulate throughout the year from my Gin Poodles and such like so I like to contribute the odd angel as and when I can. This year I have only made two, this one being the second, but there’s plenty of time to make more.

They only take about an hour to make because they’re only about three or four inches tall. This one is made from yarn left over from Gin Poodles and the gold wings are made from a tiny bit of metallic gold thread I had for making snoods a long time ago. I could really do with some other skin tone colours but I don’t have anything even remotely suitable in my scraps at the moment. I have seen some made using bright colours for the faces, but that’s not my thing really. Last year I sewed hair onto mine but that’s a lot of work and if I’m honest they looked terrible, they also look dreadful if you try to embroider a face on them. Somehow they’re just nice with no features.

I’ll be dropping this one off at the collection point (Living Stones book shop on Fleet Road) on Tuesday morning because I have an appointment at the dentists and I can pass by there on my way to the station and I’ll appreciate having something nice to do after the dentists I expect.

The tension is pretty rough isn’t it? I don’t care, it’s not important for it to be neat, it’s going to sit in a box in the back of a shop for a couple of months anyway. They have a blessing ceremony at one of the churches in December, its quite sweet, they take them all along to a special service and put them out on tables and the vicar blesses them.

Then over the next few days the local area’s Facebook group is full of pictures of them on display or from people that have found one and taken it home. You’re totally supposed to take them home, they’re not really yarn bombing, they’re intended for people to take them home and read the message and I suppose encourage people to attend church.