Mini stash dashing update

Hi all,

I have a bunch of stuff I want to do today (Sunday), so I thought I’d just write a mini update of projects.

  1. My parents came over for the weekend and my mum was kind enough to help me rip back my normal bind off on the collar of my cardigan (MANY stitches – laceweight!), and then we both worked on casting off with a stretchier finish. I then sorted the ends out and gave it a soak, it’s now drying in the sun, laid flat!
  2. My parents also brought my spinning wheel up with them so I did a bunch of spinning too – it’s so fast compared to spindling! Not that spindling isn’t lovely too. But I’ve almost finished spinning up the first bobbin of some Countess Ablaze fibre from my stash – colourway is F is for Fidelio. I do enjoy Countess Ablaze’s fibre blends and recommend checking them out.
  3. I also was reunited with my sewing machine! AND my fabric purchase which I thought had possibly been lost in the mail was rescued – it had turned up at our old house and C picked it up when he went back to Wales on a day trip. I’m hoping to use the fabric and the machine to attempt some project bags as a reintroduction to sewing. Then … I bought a Merchant and Mills pattern last night for the Factory Dress which I want to attempt.
  4. RE other projects, when my family was down, I got my sister to try on the 1 sock I had in progress for and then knitted the remainder up to the correct length. I’ve started the second sock but I think I’ve just been knitting too much over other projects and am not drawn to it right now. It could also be that I’m just bored of vanilla socks, without having any commute or travel time at the moment.
  5. I finished both sleeves of my Farmhouse Cardigan – using my hand dyed yarn, picture in previous blog post – and started on the body of the cardi while binge watching Glow. More to come!
  6. My mum seemed to enjoy hand winding yarn balls – I don’t have a swift and ball winder – so I was very happy to let her wind up a few balls for future projects!
  7. C has decided he’s going to crochet so he’s trying at the moment!

That’s all for my super quick update, I’m going to draw a bit more and maybe do a bit of my 3D commission, then I’ll be downstairs, possibly spinning or starting on project bags.

Pictures to come!

Elysia

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Low Key Stash Dashing

Hi friends,

Stash dash is currently in full force – a summer stash defeating make-along by the knit girls. I haven’t necessarily been participating, but I have been aware of it happening, seeing podcasters share their makes for it (particularly on Stranded Podcast!).

I’m sort of doing a little low key stash dash of my own – without the meterage counting and so on; I’m just trying to work my way through old projects and deep stash yarns/fibres, to make way for my newer projects.

My main focus this weekend (ok, it’s only Friday, but I worked extra hours the past 2 weeks to have it off) has been to spin through some mini batts which I bought at a local makers’ fair. To be honest, I did not enjoy working with these batts. They were mystery fibre content, or at least it wasn’t noted in any way by the seller. It was not a nice feeling spinning them and there were lots of tangles, clumps, nepps and very short staple bits in there. Anyway. I’ve managed to spin them all up into singles and I can get back to spinning things that feel nice in my hands again! At some point I have to ply the growing pile of hand wound singles balls on the craft counter…

Apart from that, a friend from Norway (living in HK, moving to Nanking soon!) came down to visit and she asked if I would teach her to knit socks. She’d only knit a scarf really and a hat in primary school so I brought not only the sock-making bits but a hat I’d already cast on. This was to get her used to knitting in the round, knitting and purling and holding the needles, etc. It worked out very well. That could partially be down to her being a good and enthusiastic student. Anyway, we got her started on socks on DPNs. I would have been tempted to teach her to use magic loop (or 9″ circs if she preferred) but I didn’t have any circulars spare to give.

Side note: I used the hat to give myself more practice doing the picking knitting technique! As in – holding the yarn in the left hand. I’m getting there with it although am still not as fast as when I do my go-to flicking technique (see very pink knits flicking technique video on youtube for a good example).

I finished off the hat within a day or so and have just turned the heel of the sock I was working on when I demonstrated for her. The sock is knit in Hedgehog Fibres sock, which I believe is 90% merino 10% nylon. It’s deep stash, I bought it for £14/100g x2 from a lovely lady on instagram as she had a mini destash. I didn’t end up using it for anything really for ages. I did make my 2nd ever pair of socks from them a long time ago, but the needles I had were still too thick (budget needles from charity shop, didn’t know what size they were but they were bigger than 2.5mm) and so the fabric created didn’t make the ideal sock material. This time I am knitting a tight gauge on 2.25mm needles and they’re looking a lot better. People have said HHF sock is splitty and I have to agree, although now that I’m working at a more ideal gauge (imo) and with a bit more experience in knitting, I think despite this it does create a lovely fabric and the splitting isn’t really a problem at least for vanilla socks.

Lastly, can’t remember if I mentioned; I think I did; I started knitting up the 7 skeins of shetland that I hand dyed last year (I think it was last year?). I’m making the farmhouse cardigan pattern by Amy Christoffers, which has a bunch of new to me stuff (namely the pockets and how the sleeves are done). I have to say I’m a bit nervous about it, not sure how it’s all going to work out or if I’ll make countless mistakes and be unable to finish, but I’ll give it a go and go slowly. First up is sleeve knitting anyway, which is pretty gentle for me.

I thought I’d finish with a small update on my previous post – aiming for frugality/budgeting and increased productivity.

Frugality: this worked out I think – despite having some incoming expenses I managed to save money by only having packed lunches at work, and me and C barely had any takeaways or meals out this month. Most of my money goes on food to be honest. I did buy three skeins of yarn to treat myself but that’s all. It’s pay day today and I managed to reach today with a reasonable amount remaining from my previous wages, woohoo!

Productivity: This past work week I was struggling a bit to do anything useful after work, as I was doing over time and was leaving work later as my friend from work who gives me a lift early in the morning has gone on holiday to Turkey. The week before as well was a bit difficult as C had to work late on several nights so I was on food and washing up duty every night…

Today since I’m off I’ve managed to complete my chores and daily tasks. I need to get on with some art and a 3D modelling commission now though. I’m going to continue watching war and peace (bbc version 1970s) while attempting to paint – although it’s too hot so I’ll prob end up standing up and spinning since that way it’s cooler.

Thanks for reading my little update! I hope everyone is well.

Reining it in

Since I found out that I’d got the new job I have been in a sort of moderate ‘treat yo self’ mode. I was lucky that on leaving my supermarket job I managed to pick up a small annual bonus. I had been tempted to take the plunge and buy a PS4 (I’ve not had a proper console since the PS1!) but I held back out of being cautious and reluctant to spend so much. I did buy a bunch of yarn and fibre though, and impulse bought a couple of pin badges… and admittedly ate more luxuriously than before.

It’s been three weeks since I started the new job. I’m still kind of in this mode. My excuse is probably that I’ve been really tired out by getting back into full time work… the takeaway habit is continuing and the impulse to buy cute pin badges lingers!

I do think it’s time to rein it in a bit now though. At least until my first pay day. There’s a ton of expenses coming up – promised visits to my sister, uni friends and high school friends, and more. I also found a Japanese class to sign up to but it’s £550 for two semesters.

Why am I writing about this in my craft blog? Well, I stretch the definition of this blog a bit now, I think. It’s a bit more of a personal endeavour, and I’m pretty invested in topics such as saving money and trying not to consume too much.

On top of this, not only have I been indulging a bit too much money wise, but I have also been somewhat less productive in terms of my projects and studies. I think this can be chalked down to tiredness again, but also social obligations this summer and the previous disruptions of moving house and changing jobs. I still have a bunch of social weekend events planned (they were a long time coming so I want to go through with them) but I will try to limit and space them out a little bit more. I want to claw back a bit of self control now that things are settling down.

I have a great friend whom I met online and her motivation, self discipline, productivity and progress in her chosen study… is always inspiring to me. And now she regales me with tales of someone she knows who is even more amazingly self disciplined and prolific! This has definitely given me food for thought.

So my two goals for the summer – since summer starts officially (?) in a few days – I want to be a bit more frugal and get back into budgeting, and I want to get back into and possibly surpass my usual level of productivity through a bit more self discipline and time management.

They’re not concrete/tangible type goals though so they may be a little slippery to achieve, but I will try my best. It’ll have to wait tonight though as I’m stuck in a car heading back from a BBQ. I won’t be back til just before 10pm and I have to wake up at 5.15am tomorrow for work!

As an aside, I won’t be regulating my knitting and crafting time in this way as these things are my more spontaneous and non-pressured pursuits. I don’t know if I mentioned in previous posts but I do art and I study Japanese as my main ‘educational’/vocational pursuits, so those will be the main things I’ll focus my planning on.

Are you also interested in topics like productivity? Do you have any goals or particular methods you use?

Thank you for reading and good luck to anyone else who is on this kind of journey.

Jobs, creations, shop, whatnot

I’m writing to you from my parents’ house in Essex today.

Job update

The company I mentioned previously got back to me! I will be starting my new job on 29th May and am looking forward to it. Until then there is the task of resignation and organising what happens to my pension and all of that too. I will tackle those things once I return from my parents’ house.

Also, the reason I came back here was for a careers advice meeting in London. Prior to this I had filled in multiple surveys and completed tests. I had my 2+ hour meeting on Wednesday. It was useful, and involved answering a lot of questions and being presented with several career suggestions. It was overwhelming in a way (not in a bad way) and I don’t think I can remember all of the advice and suggestions given. Luckily they follow up with a written report later on so I will deal with that more once that comes through… before making any decisions and so forth.

Knitting update

I’m plugging away, trying to finish my sock wips. Although I admit to casting on a new vanilla sock due to the fact I was going to be flying home for my career advice meeting. The vanilla sock is progressing quickly though and I love these types of projects for their portability and simplicity as a travel activity.

The Michele Wang hat  (Treccia) took a back seat due to being busy, but luckily I was able to use my parents’ printer to print the chart out, so it should be easier to work on without having to stare at the computer screen for chart instructions.

Craft update

I finished a bit of freelance work and was paid very quickly (which I love). I put half into our house account and treated myself with the other half. I ordered some fabric and sewing supplies! I have been wanting to get back into sewing for years but have resisted due to time, not having the tools or financial resources. Unfortunately, PayPal changed my delivery address while ordering to our previous house! So we will see if things arrive smoothly (due to mail direct) or if somehow I end up losing £30+ of fabric. Fingers crossed!

Shop thoughts 

The ‘smol shop’; a casual low pressure shop space for all my made things. I mainly create small drawings on nice paper, but also want to include my handspun and other things that I can create. For example, I am still quite interested in dyeing yarn; which I did get done but had to take a break from due to finances! I didn’t have the capital to invest in more yarn and I will probably try to knit more stash before working on it. Also the sewing; this is a thing that is going to happen, I’m going to low key practice this and if it gets good I will think about selling stuff (as I end up thinking about with all of my creative pursuits). I really don’t want to pressure myself too much as I know it will make me hesitant and fearful. I want to approach it with a ‘see how it goes’ mindset. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Update & a sprinkle of knitting

Hi!

I didn’t realise that I didn’t mention knitting in my last post – the first personal only post! And today I might be continuing that trend. Thought I’d write a little update. I was originally planning on not posting that previous post until later on, but I accidentally posted and just left it there anyway.

Later on the day I posted – or was it the next day – I heard back from the company. They said they were going to make me a formal offer soon for a job but had to first get it approved. So I’m currently waiting to hear when things go through. They said it’s pretty much always fine yet I still have a small bit of anxiety that things might fall through. I’ll celebrate properly and tell people about the job more once it’s all sorted. I’m just eager to begin!

For a long time, basically since I left my games artist job in Jan 2017, I avoided writing about work situations since I was wondering if it would affect my job hunting prospects. I feel as though I might be more free to write whatever I feel like once I settle into the next job.

More updates soon!

I promise a small bit of knitting talk… so project updates:

  • Hat for my sister – Finished! 2×2 rib, no pattern, but followed a blog post for crown decreases. I made it from Hedgehog Fibres aran weight merino in Fool’s Gold and Genie, left over yarn from a hat I made previously for myself. It felt good to knit up old stash for a gift! I also knitted a coaster afterwards so I could have a nice memento of such a colourful yarn.
  • Treccia – I treated myself to the Treccia hat pattern by Michele Wang. I bought 2 skeins of fingering weight shetland yarn from Garthenor when I went to EYF2018. I started knitting the hat last night and it has been pleasantly challenging from the get-go. I’ve finished the ribbing and am just getting into the cabling.
  • Socks – Socks everywhere! I have many socks on the needles. 1 pair of ankle socks for my sister, from leftover sock blank yarn; 1 pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks for a friend as they’re a bit small for me and I have enough socks already; 1 pair of basically vanilla socks with contrasting HT&Cs; 1 pair of Monkey Socks which I started to learn and get used to the magic loop technique – which I LOVE!
  • Featherweight Cardigan – argh. I did all the knitting for this cardigan finally while we were waiting to move into our new home. But then I cast off with the incorrect method and at some point I have to rip back my cast off and re do it!
  • Penguono – getting frogged!

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

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.