Life Update

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since my last post – a lot has been going on – and actually I’m writing this into a word processor for the moment since we have no internet. I’ll post it once we get our net back.

I’m not really sure when my last post was anyway. But after months of me waiting and hoping, we have moved from rural Wales to Manchester. I love where we used to live, but there weren’t opportunities for me job-wise and I really wasn’t enjoying my job; we were understaffed but not really getting any replacement staff in, our duties were increasing to fill the gap, etc.

I transferred stores and now I’m working slightly less hours per week (24 per week) which I hope will allow me to look for a job.I can’t yet resume my search since I’m waiting on the internet! I even ventured out to the local library to do some job hunting on their computers; it was closed. I walked to the library half an hour away; also closed! So, I’ve returned home for the day. I’m going to draw after writing this little update.

I thought I’d give a crafting update as well since that is the focus of this blog (in addition to being a sort of personal diary)…

EYF 2018: I went to EYF with my mum, what an overwhelming and exciting adventure! I loved it and enjoyed it, despite not feeling at my best mentally (I think due to lack of decent sleep). I met a lot of kind people, a couple of podcasters, and briefly got a photo with Stephen West after my mum asked him to take a picture with me… I didn’t want to bother him too much since he was so busy and I actually had no knitwear on me anyway, let alone any design by him! But I appreciated it in the end and he was very kind.

Another highlight was meeting Louise of Spin City as she was a great and friendly person to chat to, and she let me try out her Kromski Fantasia and Minstrel – both lovely wheels. I got a hand dyed fibre braid off her (merino nylon – yes – despite me trying to avoid non natural fibres at the moment – sorry world) which has some really beautiful colours. I’d love to get more of her fibre for my spinning queue, but I think her braids (not batts – lots of batts on site) aren’t really available at the moment on her website. She’s probably busy with Wonderwool Wales coming up! I’m a bit sad I’ll miss that event since I’ve moved but to be honest, I have so much waiting in my stash to be spun and knit that it’s for the best!

I spent about £130 at EYF, which might not seem like that much judging by some of the haul photos I saw, but for me it’s the biggest shop I’ve done in so long. My purchases included some non-nylon sock weight yarn from Blacker Yarns (eager to try out no nylon socks, inspired by Mrs M’s Curiosity Cabinet podcast). I also bought MCN sock yarn from Qing Fibre, a long time favourite dyer of mine, and I can’t resist her colourways. They are my special treat! Along with that I got 2 skeins of yarn from Cosmic Strings, potentially to knit a Mount Pleasant – a sort of cropped, short sleeved, cute top – and yep, again, more nylon. I will allow myself this for now. It’s a process.

Lastly I bought 2 skeins of shetland yarn from Garthenor, who oddly actually operated very close to where I lived in Wales. They had been on my list for a while but before due to funds being sort of short, I wasn’t able to order from them. These 2 skeins will hopefully work as a Treccia hat (pattern by Michele Wang).

I really hope I can go to EYF again.

Knitting: I managed to finish my Featherweight Cardigan! After smashing through the sleeves while in semi-homeless limbo between 2 houses, I also completed the collar while trapped in motorway traffic on the way to visit my parents (driven by my dad – not driving and knitting!). The only problem is: my cast off edge, while neat, is not as stretchy as I need it to be. So the fabric is cinched and looks silly! This is my fault, I didn’t think that a stretchy cast off would be a good idea and I was so wrong! So I have to get round to ripping back the cast off edge and re-casting off hundreds of collar stitches again. It’ll be nice when it’s done!

Another mini issue which I’ve decided to ignore is that my tension was all horrible, so horrible, on the sleeves. I used DPNs because I haven’t yet learned magic loop. It’s really obviously laddered in some places, etc. I’m hoping it’ll improve in blocking. It had been hibernating on the needles for so long that I just decided I needed to complete it asap, no matter if there were tension issues.

I plan to learn magic loop, cabling without cable needles, toe up socks and more… over the next year or so.

Spinning: After EYF I used some money my parents had contributed for my birthday and bought a spinning wheel – the Kromski Fantasia – from Spin City, as I had enjoyed using it at EYF. I put it together last week with the help of my dad and started spinning on it. I’m still working out tension and created the most ugly over-spun yarn ever on it. I’ll keep trying though. It’s living at my parents’ house for now. While I’m here in Manchester I’ll slowly drop spindle my way through my stash here. I really don’t enjoy plying on my drop spindle so I really hope I can get to grips with tension on the wheel.

Well, that’s probably all I should update you all on for now, since this must be a pretty long post! Apart rom that, I’m working at the new store, shy and a little nervous, wanting to do my best… and hoping to look for full time Monday to Friday work as soon as I can get internet back.

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone is well,

E

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Fibre Sustainability

Thoughts about sustainability in general life and also craft have been on my mind for a long time. Listening to podcasts such as Woolful (now Making podcast), Mrs M’s Curiosity Cabinet and A Maker’s Pilgrimage have given me a lot of ideas, inspiration and information on the subject. I recommend checking them out if you’re interested too! Anyway, I’m considering ways to slowly make my life and making more sustainable for the environment.

As is my way (at least according to previous posts), I’ve arranged my little thoughts on how I can improve the sustainability of my fibre practice and consumption below. Some of these are a bit vague or more personal to me, but perhaps they might be interesting for others to consider. If you have any suggestions or opinions of your own, I would love to hear them.

Improving my fibre practice and consumption

  1. Buying less, using what I have, being less impulsive
  2. Buying local
  3. Making my own yarn from local fleece
  4. Avoiding nylon and plastics in fibre; for example testing out non superwash, nylon-free socks
  5. Making use of local/UK fleece
  6. Actually using the items that I have crafted
  7. Encouraging and informing others about crafting and the above points
  8. Sharing resources with other crafters
  9. Understanding where my shortcomings are and finding information to improve; for example if I buy lots of dyed cotton items, or buy products made from a less sustainable fibre
  10. Composting non plastic fibre waste
  11. Reusing fibre waste where possible; e.g. as ties for hand spun hanks of yarn

I have a few non fibre related long term goals and they are: growing my own food, sewing, and one day maybe having rescued battery farm chickens!

Buying Local

I thought I would also include in this blog post a little list of some lovely local-to-me yarn and fibre sellers. Perhaps other crafters living in Wales might like to try these shops out:

  1. Nunoco – spinning fibre from a seller in Bethesda. I have bought from Nunoco, they have a lovely range of fibres, it’s great quality and they shipped surprisingly very quickly.
  2. Hilltop Cloud – spinning fibre and hand dyed yarn, a lovely blog too. From very close to me! I hope I can buy from them soon.
  3. Barber Black Sheep – spinning fibre and hand dyed yarn again, lovely range.
  4. Garthenor – another very local organic yarn seller, I would love to try their yarn out sometime soon, once I have worked through my yarn pantry a bit more.

Well friends, that’s all for now. I’m going to go do a bit more spinning, listen to some podcasts and drink tea. On Sunday I’m heading to a friend’s place with my Japanese teacher and we are going to sort through some fleece she collected from her flock. I don’t think it’s full fleeces and I don’t know how easy they’ll be to work with, but we will see what could be made with it.

Thanks for reading!

E

Why I Knit Socks

Hi all!

First of all I just want to share with you this link to a lovely sock designer on ravelry. A bunch of the patterns are free surprisingly (they are so good looking I would be happy to pay). Another designer I like is Sunflower Knit, they have a bunch of sock patterns among a variety of shawls, garments, etc. Ash had a sale on from 14-28th Feb so I bought a couple shawl designs! Actually I’m posting this on 27th Feb so there’s still time if you’re fast!

Anyway, the thing I wanted to write about… Last year I knit 12 pairs of socks for Yarngasm Podcast‘s Box o’ Sox KAL (knit along). I still haven’t actually worn those socks yet – they feel too special! I will at some point, I’m just wearing through my old store-bought socks and I still have to weave in some ends (shh).

I’m still knitting socks, I usually have 1 or 2 pairs on the go alongside longer term WIPs, and my family and other people sometimes seem confused and ask me why I bother to make socks. I’ve been thinking about it and here’s a little list… aside from the – ‘well, why not?’ response.

  1. They’re a very portable project – I can carry them around and knit on them while travelling.
  2. They can be meditative, ‘mindless’ knitting – meaning I don’t have to concentrate too hard on them, so they’re good for knitting while watching TV etc.
  3. They don’t require much yarn – good for budget knitting! Sweaters would require at least 400g of yarn…
  4. They can be as challenging as you want them to be. Granted I’ve only done vanilla socks plus a couple classics like Hermione’s Everyday Socks and Mercury Socks, but I do aim to do some more challenging ones too. They would be a great way to build skills in lace knitting, cables, colourwork, etc.
  5. I want to have a handmade wardrobe. I want to be self sufficient. I want to push towards being more environmentally sustainable with my choices (this will also involve moving away from superwash and also from nylon blends – eventually).
  6. I want to sample gorgeous hand dyed yarns from indie dyers without buying a ton of skeins.
  7. I want to connect with a historical craft – this fits in with all of my crafting activities, really!

Do you have any more reasons for knitting socks? Or for doing any craft?

Thanks and take care!

E

Cloudy Jade Batt – singles

Photo of 5 twisted hanks of yarn going from a pale jade to black colour one by one, single (unplied)

I finished spinning my spin city Cloudy Jade batts (200g)! Here’s a photo to show you the colours and how I spun them, there are 3 more (8 twisted hanks in total) but some are currently drying, etc. These are singles, spun on the drop spindle. I’m still getting used to spinning singles so they might be over spun in some areas, and there are variations in thickness of course, but I think the amount of twist should still be ok for knitting and the yarn seems to hold together fine. I will aim to improve my consistency in future!

I have loved every spin city bit of fibre I’ve worked with so far. Apart from this I have spun up a luxury batt ‘Inkblot’, plied with laceweight black malabrigo. I also spun about 20g of Spring Green (think that was the name) that was provided with my Inkblot batt, possibly because it was dispatched a little later. I have one 100g batt in my stash, looking forward to spinning that up too in future. After I’ve knit up some stash and spun up some older fibre stash.

Originally I was planning to knit something for myself in them, some sort of small ish shawl, but I think I might just knit my mum the Linus shawl instead. I feel like my aesthetic is constantly changing, and my yarn spinning and purchasing (and knitting) can’t keep up. This could turn into something I might wear for sure, we’ll see how it goes though. I know my mum will probably enjoy anything hand knit.

Other brief writings about my aesthetic, I’m in love with both pastels and neutrals, and I’m often a sucker for bright neons as well. When I first started knitting I just bought everything I could (mainly malabrigo) in lots of colours, and I feel like I’ve kind of grown out of a lot of them? I think in future I’m going to aim for neutrals; greys, charcoal, black, browns… plus try to fit in some pastels and things like lavender and dusty pinks. I do love a good jade too as you can see. Neons I think will be a sort of accent colour for me in future. I don’t know. Working it out. I just really want to make a bunch of Michele Wang patterns!

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m going to snatch a bit of time crocheting on the granny stripe and then maybe cast on another Luuk hat for an incoming baby (friend’s, not mine). Then I have to go to work unfortunately… More writing about that later perhaps!

Thanks for reading,

E

Granny Stripe Blanket

I don’t know why, but eating through my yarn stash and transforming that neglected yarn into a lovely blanket makes me feel really motivated. I just want to keep going to the next colour, choose something nice and blend it in. There’s a special accomplished feeling I get when I use up a small ball of leftover yarn from a shawl or sock project. I have also been splicing yarn ends together so I feel good about not making any excess waste too!

The project has also captured the interest of my mum, who can knit and crochet but doesn’t have a lot of free time. This project is easy to pick up and work on a bit at a time since it’s just trebles, so it’s good for her kind of lifestyle. I told her I’ll save some of my yarn scraps for her to have a go too.

You can find the pattern available here. I’m completely new to crochet so I also found the youtube tutorials by Bella Coco useful for starting out.

 

Stash is deadly!

Ok, overstatement there… Quite a while ago, while I was starting out on my knitting and fibre adventure, around summer 2016, we had a serious moth infestation in the house. We had a big battle against the moths, having discovered portions of the carpet which had been eaten away and various items of clothing with holes in. It’s now February 2018 and we haven’t seen any moths about in quite a while.

I was, however, having a look through all my stash, organising it. In some of my handspun and some older stash yarn I had, I found what appeared to be moth eggs! I quickly dumped those yarns into the compost bin, since they were fully animal fibre (and also non superwash yarns I think). Since then I’ve put all my yarn into zip lock bags as recommended by my mum, and I’m going to have to keep a watchful eye over the stash box. I did find some more suspected egg like things in some of the yarn, luckily not my favourite yarn… so I have isolated them in their own bags and I removed the suspect eggs. I’m hoping there aren’t any more eggs on those ones. I have heard that agitation will hatch the eggs so I have to be careful that it doesn’t potentially spread to my lovely yarns.

What other updates do I have? I’m working through my stash again. I guiltily made some yarn purchases during my birthday week in mid January, including a sock blank from Stranded Dyeworks (knitting up into vanilla sock now) and a sock blank from Twisted Fintch also.

I’m spinning through my stash as well and have about 6 skeins waiting for a soak to set the twist, and 6 balls waiting to be plied.

Project wise, recently I learned how to crochet one evening, albeit probably not very skillfully, so I’m trying to do a granny stripe blanket in order to eat through some stash. My penguono is on hold until I spin some more of my stash, to then be knit up. I have 2 pairs of socks on the needles, hoping to reduce that to one at some point. My featherweight cardigan is languishing somewhere (better check that for moth eggs!), BUT I did finally finish my Pyry sweater (we are knitters pattern and yarn)!

Right, I actually have work in about ten minutes so I’ll leave this update for now!

See you all soon and hopefully with photos next time,

E

The Gift Knitting List

Hey all!

I hope January is treating everyone well.

I have a bunch of knitting requests for 2018.. and ideas for gifts for certain people… so I’m just popping on to post the list here so that I can keep track of it!

Do you do much gift knitting? I have done a reasonable amount, scarves for family members and occasional hats. A few friends are expecting babies so I would like to knit up things for them now too. I think gift knitting for me felt a bit tedious when I was trying to knit up simple bits for friends way back in Christmas 2016 when I was fairly new to knitting… but now I’m thinking that gift knitting may be a good way of trying out new patterns and techniques.

This month I completed a baby hat using the free Luuk pattern on ravelry, it was an incredibly quick knit and lovely hat, although I’ll have to admit like many on the comments for the pattern I was a little perplexed by the crown decreases chart.

I’m probably going to knit a couple more of the Luuk hat as they are so fast and a cute design. But after that I should keep my eyes open for other cute (and possibly challenging) baby hat patterns. If anyone has any suggestions let me know!

Anyway, without further ado I will write my list.

  1. Sister – headband – not yet decided on pattern
  2. Sister – Bedford Sweater by Michele Wang
  3. Sian – baby hat (Luuk again)
  4. Mum – hat (She Rises by Rizzaknits?) – ended up doing Ysolda’s Snapdragon Tam
  5. Memere (French grandmother) – mittens – not yet decided on pattern – ended up knitting a simple hat with yarn I was gifted – the yarn wasn’t suitable for mitts.

I’m pretty sure the list was going to be bigger! At least, in my head it was. I’ll think about it more and add to it!

Have a great week all and take care!

E

Intention Setting

I find goal setting quite useful! Yesterday I was just finishing up at work and I was thinking about my plans for today, a day off work. I wanted to have a contemplative, calm day but also wanted to make sure I would be fairly productive. So I’ve listed my (creative) goals for the day… and then thought further about the coming months and year. I haven’t included stuff like chores in my day plan (although they’re in my notebook to do list).

For the day

  • Spin for Aled (commission) – done!
  • Soak yarn when completed – done!
  • Work on portfolio project – this is an art project, not a craft project, but it’s important for me to get done so I’m including it!

For the first quarter of the year

  • Complete my current portfolio project in January

For the whole year

  • Learn magic loop technique – done!
  • Learn toe up socks
  • Knit a Michele Wang hat
  • Knit a Michele Wang sweater
  • Knit up my aran weight simple cardigan using my hand dyed shetland yarn.

Craft blog —> Personal blog

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My unfinished featherweight cardigan waiting for some love…

Hey friends!

This is just a small post to say that I’ve decided that if I feel like it, I’m going to post personal blog posts here too! That might include posts about everyday life and trying to be sustainable, etc. I hope that’s alright with you all.

Also I hope that everyone is having a great time this December – happy holidays and have a great new year too.

Lots of love,

E

What yarn diet?

Yarn diet update!

So I’ve managed to avoid Qing Fibre updates… I looked up the site when updates hit but reasoned my way out of buying more. I loved all the colourways of course but I know that I have no projects in mind for QF right now and I can’t afford multiple skeins anyway.

I have however cracked a little and bought some commercial yarn (some acrylic too!) for a Christmas present for my dad, and some baby hats. I would have used stash yarn for the baby hats, but a large chunk of my yarns are not superwash and the other chunk are fancy AF and I’m guessing tired new parents aren’t going to be too thrilled with specialised washing instructions for knitted gifts. So for now they will be given knitted acrylic items…

In future though I’d love to switch to solely non-superwash, non-plasticy yarn although I know that’s not necessarily practical for things like socks. I’m finding it hard to find non superwash blue faced leceister yarn, ideally high twist. If anyone knows of a supplier, please do let me know! Even if it’s undyed, I would happily dye it! One day when I can spin decently enough, with a behaving wheel, I could perhaps spin BFL myself for socks. That’s a far off goal though.

Apart from the yarn diet update, on my needles so far… I have my featherweight, which is lagging due to tension issues with lace and fiddly 4mm DPNs which I bought with far too much length.

Other projects include some new mercury socks in a non nylon blended yarn (although superwash), my penguono (which is huge and an amazing stash buster) and a tiny first sock on 9 inch circulars – this is a baby project which I just cast on for a simple mindless knit while travelling by car to South Wales.

Lastly, I also have my weareknitters Pyry sweater which is so close to completion, it just needs to be sewn together. I sewed the shoulders and arms but I still need to do underarm and sides. I have two days off in a row this week so I might set aside 30min or so to get that done. I’d love to get some of my projects out of the way and have a reasonably clean new year slate.

As for the hopeful thoughts about selling my yarn and other bits, I have a yarn spinning commission! I have to sort it for January which might be a push as I have a lot on but I’ll try. And I’ve ordered some fibre for the project. More on this when I get to it!

Goals for 2018 knitting/crafting… knit a Michele Wang pattern… spin more… finish up my projects… do less vanilla socks and more challenging knits. Dye yarn for projects where appropriate. That’s it for now but I haven’t given it tons of thought. This festive period has been a bit hectic for knitting and contemplation but I’m hoping my 6 days off for Christmas will give me time to re-centre myself.

Happy holidays all!