2015 and a new start

Happy New Year dear reader!

Pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable.  Tea?  Coffee?  something stronger?  Bovril?

I apologise for being away for so long, 2014 turned into a bit of write off for me, so know it’s done, dusted and hidden under the metaphorical rug we are starting again.  I think the best thing for me to do is to pretend that my long absence didn’t happen and we’ll just pick up where we left off.  Frankly I haven’t achieved much in that time, craftwise, so you’ll just have to trust me that you are not missing much.

As we start a bright new year I have several WiPs (of course, what a surprise) – I’m still working on Giovanninia, still loving it and the pattern is slowly starting to make sense (6 repeats in and 19 to go…) so is slowly working it’s way up the “I can work on this out of the house” listings.  Tirrold is also still ongoing, and I’m still in that 111 rows of 1×1 rib.  I also haven’t done much commuting so that had dented knitting time in that respect.  I also started another sweater Garland, a 1940’s inspired design, after I fell in love with the sample at FibreEast 2014.  It’s beaded and 4ply – I never make it easy for myself do I?  Laura is the one crochet project that is ongoing – in fact it’s in exactly the same place as it was when I last posted in May last year.  Naughty girl!  must do something about that, but it really requires concentration.

Achievements of 2014

Projects and Yarn from 2014

The little guy on the top right there ishalf pound bunny, and is one of two finished projects in 2014.  The other I didn’t get chance to photograph before it went to it’s new owner.  Half Pound Bunny is gorgeous though, and about 1/3 the size of the original one pound bunny.  I enjoyed making him, and he’s very loved in his new home.

Over Christmas I had the joy to be able to (finally) get round to visiting the wonderful Black Sheep Wools in Warrington.  It’s about 20 minutes from my parents, and I’ve been trying to drop in for a visit for the last 2 or 3 years.  A massive (compared to most UK yarn stores) warehouse of a place with everything from fun yarn to finest silks (and a tea shop, don’t forget the tea shop!) I may have lost a few hours due to yarn fumes.  Of course my visit coincided (accidentally) with their winter sale and I may have had a bit of a blow out.  Though to be fair I have bought very little yarn the last two years.

I came away with three packs of 10 skiens (oops)  – Rowan Siena 4ply, Rowan Creative Linen (dk) and Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran (10ply) – but it is a jumper worth in each case.  The 4ply had already been tagged to make Ice by Bernadette Ambergen, a beautiful pattern bought for me by a friend for my birthday.

I’m really looking forward to making this, and am having to be very disciplined in not picking up the needles immediately and discarding everything I’ve already got going on.  However I resigned from my day job in December, so might be going back to a regular commute rather than a cycle commute – at which point I need something nice and easy for the train rides.

The other project I was working on last time we spoke was a pattern designed for the beautiful Cumulus from fyberspates.  It’s finished and I’m 99% pleased with it – it’s going through testing before being made available to everyone, so watch this space. It’s exactly what I wanted, light, warm and perfect for halo yarns even though it’s crocheted rather than knit.  The one “downside” that I’m working out, is getting a better stretch to the cast on edge. I’ve tried a chainless foundation and (surprisingly) it doesn’t quite work, so i’m having to come at this one a bit laterally.

Cumulus Cowl

Cumulus Cowl

What I’m upto these days

Deep breath.  I am determined to try and update much more regularly than I have been.  Ok, that wouldn’t be terribly difficult to be fair.  My current aim is once a week – but we’ll see how realistic that turns out to be!

So, I need to update you on where  I am and what I’m doing.

My hands: still playing up – I’m just about to finish the 3rd course of steroids, as it would appear that steroids is the only thing that beats this thing (still unknown) into a cocked hat once the pain starts. Annoying, but at least we know what works even if we still have no idea what the triggers are (stress is still the favourite of the medical community).

I taught my first course of 2014 yesterday.  A lovely intimate course with three lovely lovely ladies who absolutely got everything I said and went away with lace weight yarn to make their own lovely variations of the Eva shawl.

I, myself, am working (as always) on several projects;

Giovannina – knitted lace rectangular shawl designed by Franklin Habit in lace weight Wollemeise.  Enjoying this project immensely, but it’s a little too concentration worthy to be a commute/t.v. watching project.  It’s growing, but it’s very slow  Given I bought the pattern and the yarn in 2011 there obviously isn’t any rush.  I’ve only another 19 repeats of the pattern to do.

Laura – crochet side to side crescent shawl by Lily Go in Fyberspace ‘lace’.  I say ‘lace’ it’s closer to a cobweb weight.  I’m adding beads to this as well – size 11 seedbeads.  Definitely not a ‘I’m not really thinking about this project’ and it’s going to take the proverbial “while”. It is however going to be stunning when completed.

I needed a project that I didn’t need to focus on quite so much, so (having been out and bought new needles specifically for the project) I’ve cast on for Tirrol by Fyberspates, in Fyberspates lace (see above).  It’s a sweater knit on 2.5mm needles.  And this is my ‘mindless’ project  What was I thinking?  Though I love the idea of getting a sweater out of a single (small) skein.  I have 111 rows of 2×2 rib to do first so again, this could take a while – but at least I can do it on the train / in a waiting room / watching TV / at knit group…

Finally about to research and do a genuinely quick project as a display sample for Purlescence – a crochet cowl in the glorious new yarn Cumulus.  It’s like a ‘thick’ version of kid-silk haze (it pretends to be a 4ply) and comes in the most stunning colours.  I have a ball of bottle green to play with and I’m thinking floaty light lace.  For those of you who want the technical details it’s 150m/164yds per 25gms, 3mm-5mm needles recommended, and is a blend of 74% baby suri alpaca and 26% mulberry silk.  It has a lovely halo and is very soft

Right  I must crack on.  I’ll try and take photographs for next week!

D.I.Y. Yarn Club

Back in November of 2011 I was starting to ponder Christmas presents for myself (my birthday is the 23rd and I invariably get lots of people asking me what I want) and I was looking at all the beautiful different yarn clubs available.  Ones for sock yarns, ones for lace, ones for sock patterns, ones for shawls, ones with a theme, ones for a particular type of fibre, ones for indie dyers… it was all so overwhelming.

I also felt a bit like I was cheating on my existing stash – and I had a couple of unanswerable questions about the yarn clubs (what if I didn’t like the colour, or the pattern, or needed more, or if I fell behind?).

What I ended up deciding to do was my own ‘free’ yarn club.  I would bundle up my existing yarn with the pattern I wanted to make from that yarn, with maybe a surprise and then a ‘sketchy’ note on the outside such as ‘quick’ or ‘laceweight’ or ‘rustic’.  Then each time I finished a project I could ‘adjective’ dive and pick out a surprise lucky dip type package.  Of course life isn’t quite that smooth, so I didn’t get chance to wrap up everything before December, but I did get to give a number of yarn/pattern pairings to a dear friend. I say a number because I genuinely can’t remember how many.  His instructions were to add a *small* surprise if he wished (he is forever buying me little treats) and to hand them back at some point in 2012 to be decided by him.

We meet up for dinner every month(ish), and this month I got an extra bag!  My beautiful forest green Wollmeise was returned to me, along with my signed copy of Franklin Habit’s Giovannina Stole (both of which I had completely forgotten I had handed over in the first place)

Forest Green Wollmeise

do-it-yourself stole kit

along with 2 bars of Lindt chocolate (nom) and a wonderful collection of 1940-1980s patterns (knit and crochet) which he had found in his mothers loft (who used to own a haberdashery).

collection of pattern fronts

anybody else feel old?

(sorry about the blurry quality – I will take some better ones I promise!).  I’ve had a ball reading the Woman’s Weekly from Sept 1980, and some of the yarn pictures are genuinely terrifying – the Paton’s green boarded one you can see on the right has the entire family dressed in the exact same green cabled/lace jumper (though ‘his’ buttons the other way) – no wonder the dog needs two people to hold onto him!

The yarn is sitting staring at me, and I have managed to photocopy my own ‘abuse’ copy of the pattern.  Now I just have to get up the courage to start!