A re-entry to the world..

Well, hello there, good looking!  First up an apology for being absent for so long – and thank you to everyone who took time to drop me a comment after using my ‘how to use crochet charts’ tutorials – it’s really appreciated.

Secondly, a shout out to the lovely ladies at F this Knit and Teaching your Brain to Knit – two podcasts I started listening to recently on my stupidly long commute who have inspired me to get my act together and start posting again.  Of course it also meant I started commuting by bike again so I no longer have time to listen to three 1 hour long podcasts a day but I am listening when I can, and both these are interesting podcasts for different reasons (warning: F this Knit is “not safe for work” and if you are easily offended or don’t like swearing this is not the podcast for you)

FOs (Finished Objects)

What’s been finished since my last post

Finished Items – May 2019

Obviously I have finished more than these since my last post, but I am going to go with just this year or it will get way too depressing.  Hopefully doing this will also mean I start updating Ravelry properly to keep track of yarns, needles/hooks, yardage and pattern sources as I am really bad at that!

WIPs (Works in Progress)

Works actively being worked on – (not hibernating or we’d be here forever) including my PP (Purse Project or the project that is living in my handbag)

  • Spiderweb Skirt, Hook 5mm, Knit Picks Dishie in “EggPlant”
  • Test swatches for a bias wrap (PP)
  • Test swatches for modular stole
  • Cotton Baby Blanket

Every Day’s a School Day

What I’m learning from my crafting this month..

  • Gauge
    My Ambient sweater has taught me that my tension might be different on circulars to dpns and that it might be worth swatching with both types if making a sweater or cardigan that you want to fit you particularly in the sleeves!
  • Don’t design in the round if you aren’t going to use the benefits of working in the round / READ the damn pattern.
    Started the skirt and ripped back twice before realising that the perfectly clear word ‘turn’ at the end of the pattern row was meant to be followed.  I think the pattern designer was trying to prevent a visible seam but I was getting a horrible noticeable diagonal ridge (sure that’s my fault for not turning) and was having to count the over 100 stitches every round to try and get it to place right – it just wasn’t working for me.  Personally I think if you are not going to take advantage of working in the round to get the (really pretty) fabric that looks different to standard crochet for 30 something rows then work flat and seam with a flat stitch.

Bits of Sheep

Stash reduction or enhancement

I am very definitely SABLE (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy) and have been on a self imposed yarn diet for the best part of 4 years now.  The stash however isn’t reducing, so i think they might be breading. Of course if I go to a yarn show it would be rude not to support independent traders or pass-up on the large retailer discount sales, and I am very good at starting projects that I just don’t have the yarn for in my stash…!

Going “Cold Sheep” refers to when a crafter (usually self nominated) decides not to buy more yarn/fibre until a self determined dent has been made in the existing stash.  But obviously we *need* that pretty skein for those thingymajigs we might have to make at some point in the future

I did buy a bit of yarn in France, but given I was in La Droguerie (a wonderful fairytale of a yarn shop) I thought I was very restrained (1 small cone of lace-weight mohair sparkle – Voilette, 67% superfine mohair 33% stelina, 35gr, 300mtrs in colourway Cendrillon) and Phildar let me buy yarn to play with some ideas – two balls of Phil Mohair Soie (70% mohair, 30% silk, 25gr, 195mtrs in colours givre and minerai (similar to Rowan kid silk haze but a ¼ of the price) and a ball of 100% cotton in the palest blue for the collar and I may have bought a packet of 8 different 10g mini balls for the cuteness factor.  Oops.

Having also taken 8 months to realise I need to make another baby blanket (I really should have realised that one a bit quicker – she looked pregnant from about month 2) I was cycling home and thinking about what cotton I had in stash… I knew I had a couple of balls of cotton for making ‘spa cloths’ (dish cloths) at Christmas but wasn’t sure about the quantities or colours.  Of course once I got to my stash I discovered the 50 (yes, that’s fifty) balls of 100% cotton in baby pink, lilac, baby blue, soft fushia, a muted purple and white that I picked up for about £20 a few years ago with the intention of using them up in my classes. So I guess I can sacrifice a few of those to the cause! I’m having great fun with this one. Starting with a simple crochet block stitch pattern, I discounted the blue (normally I don’t do baby blankets in gendered colours but the blue jarred against the other pink shades and she happens to be having a girl) and having laid out one ball of each in order, I’m using a random number generator (a 4 sided dice for those amongst you who know what that is) to decide the colour for each colour block row.

But I have reduced my stash by a further 5 balls at least.  I have also used my 10 balls of Knit Picks Dishie (for the Skirt).  I bought specific yarn for my other completed projects this year so they came in and went out again.

Balls/Skeins In Balls/Skeins Out Net Balance
5 15 -10

Oh Shiny…

The source of my startitis – for example planned projects , inspirations or ideas that have caught my eye or subjects or topics that have snagged my attention..

Honestly I am playing with so many ideas at the moment I barely have time to think!  After a recent one week trip to Lille in the north of France I came back with so many photos of things that could be turned into knit or crochet (or, in one case, a hand painted silk scarf) patterns.  At the moment I am swatching (and frogging and swatching and frogging and swatching) a bias knit rectangular wrap which has single stitch vertical lines.

Who would have thought that there is more than one way to do a vertical line, but the single stitch of a different colour doesn’t work.  I’ve tried dropped stitches, beading, double knitting, duplicate stitching, travelling or raised stitches..… nothing is working right yet, but I will get there I promise.

I have also been distracted by a crochet pattern idea (also inspired by the trip to France – a 17th Century Persian sandstone window screen in the Louvre in Lens being the source) which involves modular triangles.  I had done a pattern that wasn’t modular in a couple of hours but it just doesn’t have the crisp definition of line I want, even after blocking…

So, before the post gets even more ridiculously long I’d better sign off and progress with some of those current projects.  See you next month!

Scandi Cuffs

So I finished my little cuffs (yesterday in fact) and thankfully I do indeed have a matching pair.  Phew! Given I have to give these away tomorrow I’m delighted I have a two that look like they belong together.

twos a crowd

close up of stitches

and i know you all wanna see inside…

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I was working on a baby blanket (or rather needed to start a baby blanket).  The advantage with working a stash busting blanket (in the rather fun block stitch) is that the colours change every row and it’s a wonderful rainbow.  The downside is *ends*!  Oh my word, the ends! Finally for today I just had to mention the clocks changed, the weather warmed and 4 days later my jasmine is in full flower and as I cycle home in the evenings I can smell my own little garden from about 150yards away.  How wonderful!

Are you feeling tense?

So my current little pet project is a gift.  My boss retires at the end of the month and I wanted to give her a little something.  She is another crafter so I know it will be appreciated, and I wanted to do something knit as she can crochet her own stuff that she wants.

Another friend had given me a craft magazine, and nestled in the pages was a pair of knitted cuffs (Arrow Cuffs from Knitting from the North by Hilary Grant – and if you want the book there’s a matching cowl)

you can click the photo to be taken to the free pattern

I haven’t done stranded work before, and had some Fyberspates Scrumptious yarn left over from the Foolproof cowl I made and this little project appealed.

As you know I love learning new techniques, just for the sake of it.  I had a blast doing a little bit of colourwork and stranding – working out how not to end up with a massive tangled knot of yarns and carrying two yarns at the same time while working on dpns…  However, to be completely honest I’m not sure this is the best application of this technique for me.  And here’s why…

one of these things is not like the others…

The first cuff I did is the one on the right.  Once finished I discovered that I can get it over my relatively small knuckles and thumb.  Just.  It’s snug.  However as a gift there’s a worry that you might damage them taking them on and off so I needed to have a looser tension for the second cuff.  That would be the one on the left.  Erm.  Ah.

So now we are making cuff number 3.  (isn’t there supposed to be a problem with starting the second item of any paired project?)

hopefully the tension will match ONE of the exisiting cuffs. Either one will do!

TED Tuesday – Gratitude

I have so many of these talks to share with you, and am looking forward to getting some of my favourites up here.

Last month I shared the concept of TED talks with you, along with my suggested ‘starter talk’.  If you missed it, it’s here.

This month, take just 12 minutes out of your day to find out how you can permentantly change your brain chemistry to feel happier!   (I know, this one is in French, but it’s subtitled so don’t panic – and it really is worth it)

There is a lot of stuff floating around about gratitude and making lists about the small things that make you happy and journalling about the good things……  this is where it all started – and gives you the reasons WHY it’s possibly a good idea to note that really good cup of tea or coffee you had today.

I’ll be honest.  I’m not as good as doing 3 things a day like she suggests, but i try for one a day, and have been for the last 6 months or so, and I have noticed that I am a bit more positive and a bit less inclined to ‘the sky is falling!’ than I used to be.  Baby steps n’est pas?



Invisible crafting still counts right?

It feels like a while since I updated – and to be fair it is.  Half term descended upon me from a great height, and then I trapped a nerve in my upper back resulting in varying levels of mobility for the last few weeks.

Naturally I haven’t been doing much crafting – inbetween dashing up the country to visit the smaller people while they were off school and lying flat on the floor saying ow – there hasn’t been much chance.

I’ve started the second of two small ‘wrist warmer’ mitts in left over yarn.  A reasonably quick little stranded project during which I have discovered that I carry my floats WAY to tight.  Bah.  Photo’s to follow…

I also took up adult Irish Step dance – much to the amusement of my largely unco-operative body.  Seriously I thought I was going to die after the warm up in the first lesson.  Having a blast though and really enjoying getting back to dance – albeit a compeletely different form to what I have done before.

I have a  baby blanket to start – and that due date isn’t getting any further away, but it will be an excuse to use up some of my mega stash of cottons, so looking forward to that.

I have a whole list of blog posts to share with you – and I’ve started diarising when I need to do them, so hopefully I shall be a bit more consistent in posting!

Keep crafting till next time (hopefully with pictures!)

Knitting makes you less lonely

Just a quick post this week as I dash from pillar to post.  I wonder if there are actual places called ‘Pillar’ and ‘Post’?

Anyway, the BBC reported this week on things to do to combat loneliness – and top of the list was knitting!

If you want to make your hobby count twice against loneliness, then getting involved in the Big Knit with your local Age UK could be something to consider.  If you make a few hats (and seriously any number is gratefully received) then Innocent (of Smoothie fame) gives the local Age UK 25p for every hat.

That 25p is then used to fund befriending services which pays for volunteers to go into people’s homes and give them companionship, company on outings and a weekly chat to look forward to.

Each beginner hat can be done in about 25 minutes (or faster!) but there are some amazing patterns out there!  To make sure that money goes into your local area, see if your local Age UK is involved with the scheme and send your hats directly to them – rather than it being distributed across the country by the National Office.

Tonight is wet and windy – so my own knitted hat was much appreciated!  Keep warm and I promise to post soon!

Who invented 1.5mm needles anyway?

A very quick update my lovely reader.  I’ve been furiously making little crochet flowers for a ‘secret’ project for my family Christmas (which is in February this year, all families have their little foibles don’t they?) so I can’t show you those.

I’ve also been working on my ‘desk drawer’ project.   Due to the fact I cycle to work I don’t want to carry more than I have to, so I have a project I leave in work so I always have something to work on at lunchtime as the mood strikes me.  My current ‘desk drawer’ project is the Norweign Mittens.

I did work out that if I do two rows *every* lunch time, I’ll be finished the first glove (but not the thumb) in 8 weeks!

What possessed me to do my first stranded project on tiny needles in the round I’m still at a loss to explain, however it is fun doing my first stranded project and I’m slowly learning the best ways to hold the two strands of yarn so I don’t end up with a knotted mess after each session.

Today I am hoping to pull out the yarn stash and start the ‘longer-than-today’ task of sorting it into something a bit more organised. I currently have two official 65ltr plastic storage bins and several ‘unofficial’ spots, WiP bags, temporary boxes and bags… I have bought some more storage boxes so hopefully I’ll be able to split it down into something a bit more ‘findable’ – update to follow!

Have you met TED?*

If you don’t already know about TED Talks, it’s sufficent to know they are AWESOME and cover a world of subjects and topics from the best way to tie your shoelaces to the latest information on cutting edge technology (the first conference in 1984 included unveiling the brand new Apple Mac).  If you want to know more, I’ve included loads of info after the video.

I’m a HUGE fan of these informative, interesting and thought provoking talks (never longer than 20 minutes) and often do a sort of wiki-links thing following random talks and subject hopping losing hours and learning loads!

I decided that I wanted to keep a better track of my favourite talks, and also that I wanted to share them with my lovely readers, who are by definition, intelligent and have enquiring minds.  So this is the start of a new monthly feature – TED Tuesdays!

So, here’s a starting point for you, one of my favourite talks that may well change how you work with your google searches and social media….

Extra Info about TED

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and began in 1984 as a conference to share ideas across a broad range of subjects.  It became a regular conference in 1990, and gets speakers in a vast array of fields (including scientists, philosophers, musicians, religious leaders, philanthropists, and many others) to give some of the best talks in the world.

Lucky for us, their tag line is “ideas worth spreading” – which means all their talks, since 2006 are shared on TED.com and YouTube for free.  That’s currently over 2,400 talks on every possible subject from Adventure to Wikipedia.  Which is just as well as a ticket to the conference will set you back a cool $17,000 this year.

This is just a starting point.  Along with the sister conference; TEDGlobal, TEDx events (free under a licence to be organised by anyone, anywhere), TEDMed (medical and health based talks), TED Radio Hour (using several talks to theme an hour discussion on a single topic – my new favourite podcast) and TED Open Translation Project (which is translating TED talks into 110 languages to improve accessibility) there are literally thousands of talks on top of the core talks.  There is also books, studies, blogs, newsletters…..

So.  Look out for my favourite talks each month and let me know – what are YOUR ideas worth sharing?  I’d love to know what you think of this talk – let me know in comments!

*yes, it’s a ‘how I met your mother’ reference.

Welcome to another 12 months of interesting times

2017 has started, and despite 2016 being memorable for lots of wrong reasons, I had barely got used to it!

Happy New Year dear reader, and I hope this year turns out better for all of us.  My main goal is not to not break any major bones resulting in a 12 week hiatus on most things – but particuarly crafting.

I did manage, over the Christmas break, to complete a huge project that I had been working on most of the year for a friend.  Of course it came down to the wire and I completely forgot to take photos.  A challenge thrown down on St Stephen’s Day (that’s Boxing Day to most of the UK) resulted in me crocheting a hat in DK weight sequin yarn with a 3.75mm hook in a little over 3 hours.  Of course I also don’t have photos of that either.  I did however manage to take a couple of photos of my ‘plane’ knitting though – and now have a lovely pair of alpaca/wool close fitting fingerless gloves.

snuggly fingers

The pattern is Easy Peasy Fingerless Mitts by Make Something Special and whips up in no time (relatively)  – I’m not the world’s fastest knitter by any stretch of the imagination, and these took me about 5 hours all in.

So, first post of the year, and the usual promises and resolutions loom on the horizon.  I’ve got lots to share with you, and big plans.  Some of my break was spent with lots of sheets of paper writing down lots of ideas and plans and resolving them down into something feasible.

The first resolution involves this blog.  I’m a perfectionist which results in me not doing anything until it’s perfect in my head, beautifully presented, hundreds of photographs, witty and insightful, and preferably topical… which realistically is never going to happen.  I’ve accepted that and so have the idea for a series of small ‘update’ posts that should (hopefully) mean that I post more regularly.  I’ve even got a ‘theme’ plan for regular posts on a monthly basis which broadens the original spec of the ‘crafting’ blog, but frankly I am more than just the crafting in my life – which admittedly is a large and important part, but not the only part!

The second resolution is after the confidence boost and publication of the Manchester Shawl last year I have promised to publish at least 4 more patterns this year.  That involves quite a lot of work so fingers crossed.

Of course there are several other non-craft related resolutions – the usual ‘lose weight’, ‘improve my second language (French)’, watch less telly, don’t get blown up by Trump…. stuff.

Right, I’m posting this, imperfections and all, and moving on to working off some of the weight I’ve gained over the celebration period and the 3 months before when I couldn’t cycle to work due to a broken elbow.  I’ll let you know how it went very soon!

So, what are your resolutions for this year?