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?)
  5. Memere (French grandmother) – mittens – not yet decided on pattern

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!

Elysia

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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
  • 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!

Yarn Diet Alert!

We’re on high alert!

I’ve decided I want to go to EYF 2018 (Edinburgh Yarn Festival in mid-March), and that’s gonna be mega expensive in booking tickets, train, accommodation, but also in yarn purchases!

Therefore, I’m imposing a yarn diet until March, and a sort of destash (as in, knitting stuff up and finishing it so I have less yarn in the stash). I won’t totally abstain from yarn if there happens to be, say, a Qing Fibre update or something… but I will try my best.

Note, I’m not saying there’ll be a fibre diet. I’m still going to allow myself to purchase and spin fibre. Ideally I will sell some of it if I can!

On the destash side of things, I cracked and started a Penguono – while not good for increasing my number of unfinished projects back up from 3 to 4 (I know, doesn’t actually seem that many but I seriously have to finish up my featherweight cardigan, it’s been months…), it is a great pattern for using up stashed yarn. I will actually be trying to knit up as much of my handspun as possible. This will give me a sample (which I can show friends and so on!), and free up some stash space for more handspun. I also want to get a feel for the quality of my handspun when knit in a garment, and this should give me some more ideas on how to improve in the future. Photos to come!

Anyway, that’s all really! I just wanted to formally announce my yarn diet, haha.

Autumn Updates

So here in Wales we have transitioned into Autumn! It has been a little while and I have been keeping up with all kinds of craft so I thought I’d share a little update!

  • I dyed seven skeins of Shetland wool, Aran weight, for a farmhouse cardigan – I’ll include photos soon (currently typing on parents’ iPad while visiting my hometown). The colourway is purple and grey and brown – called ‘mini roll’
  • I am finishing up my sock projects – I had socks on the needles since May as I was planning to learn the fish lips kiss heel. I was a bit intimidated by the pattern PDFs but the other week I finally knuckled down and conquered it. It’s actually very user friendly. The second sock heel has been done and I just need to knit the foot and toe. 
  • My featherweight cardigan is progressing but it is slow and the lace weight yarn is quite difficult to work with when it comes to keeping tension consistent. Actually, my tension isn’t. I am considering frogging it.  But maybe I’ll just push to finish it and hope that blocking fixes most of the issues. 
  • I’ve kept spinning up,made a few sales, spun a bunch of skeins. I think I should makes separate post for it. I’m enjoying it but trying to make sure I do most of my spinning on Sundays. 
  • I’ve been listening to a new crafting podcast; Stranded Podcast!
  • I learned about cable knitting this weekend, maybe my ultimate goal of knitting a Michele Wang sweater might not be that far off after all. But first I’ll finish all my current projects and have my own little stash busting push this year. What a good idea actually, I could use the rest of the year to tie up loose ends (ooh, kinda pun) and use up stash ready for 2018. 

A Dyer’s Shopping List

Hi all,

It’s been a while!

A little update on my crafting activities: I’ve done a bunch of knitting, featherweight cardigan is still on the needles though! I’m working on a pair of self striping knitpicks felici socks, vanilla pattern. I’m also now working on a little table cover for a slightly splintery end table, no pattern, just deciding what to do as I go! What else… I have to knit a hat for my sister, no pattern, just winging it. I’m almost at the decreases.

Handspun yarn, green and natural, tied into a hankHandspun yarn, single ply, colourful with purples, whites, greys... still on the bobbin, attached to the spinning wheel

Spinning wise, I’ve done a bunch of spindle and wheel spinning. My skills are improving slowly and my spinning is getting more even. I need to work on balancing my yarn better when I am plying.

And, new thing! Well, I’ve been toying with the plan of dyeing yarn basically since I discovered hand dyed yarns maybe even a year ago or so (I only started knitting in August 2016!)… the reason for this is I would love to dye my own colours as and when required, and I want to be able to dye the colours I require without searching for the perfect match.

Also, some of my favourite dyers are based in USA which is not practical for me to order from due to customs fees (and my low wage job! In future, I will one day order from these lovely people, but not right now). A bunch of my favourite UK dyers are either now working on wholesale orders all the time or are sold out in a snap! I’m often at work during their updates too.

So, I ordered some bits for my experiments. I’m gonna list below what I’ve ordered and what I still need to get, for future reference! I’m currently watching Lara from Gynx Yarns’ video on dyeing as she has a great equipment list.

Bought/Have

  1. 7 x 100g aran Shetland wool yarn (enough for the worsted boxy pattern)
  2. A bunch of acid dyes
  3. Pipette
  4. Plastic measuring container
  5. Latex gloves x 1
  6. Simple dust mask (to upgrade if I do more)
  7. Apron
  8. Citric acid
  9. Tongs

Need

  1. Salt
  2. Stainless steel pot
  3. Find a notebook (I have one, I just need to christen one the dye book)
  4. A few tea towels (I can dampen them when mixing dye powders and if the powder falls out of containers it will be attracted to the dampness/it’ll go on there rather than float about and get in things like lungs)

Extra

  1. Respirator
  2. Urea
  3. Containers for dye stock (plastic or if I use old jars I need to sterilise them)
  4. More sturdy gloves
  5. Safety information for dyes and other things I’m using (MSDS) – I don’t have a printer at the moment – this is something I should do though!
  6. PH testing paper
  7. Little measuring spoons

Extra task: I should really join my local guild!

I’ve decided that I would like to document and write as much as I can about my dyeing and spinning (and crafts, etc) journey. I still would love to somehow make this a source of income although I acknowledge that I am a big (and not super dedicated) noob compared to all these very knowledgeable, committed and experienced people online! I hope to learn from them. I’ve just decided to ‘see how it goes’ and see if I can give it a shot regardless! I’ve changed my yarnie instagram to virago.yarns now…  welp!

 

Drafting Achieved!

Hi all,

Since my last post I have finally become accustomed to wheel spinning enough to be able to treadle and draft at the same time! My spinning speed and skill has just had a level up! Still a lot to learn but it is definitely motivating and encouraging for me.

I have been plying yarn as well, and loving the effect of it. I have a bunch of handspun yarn that I need to soak before skeining up, I will post a picture when I do. I still need to acquire a niddy noddy so that I can soak it.

I have a question for handspinners: when soaking and setting the twist, are you soaking the yarn while it’s still on a niddy noddy? Or do you soak the skein without having it tied up and with tension? Also, if you soak with a niddy noddy, do you have to use a plastic one? As I’m guessing that soaking a wooden one might make it warp over time.

In other spinning news, I ordered 2 x 100g of blended fibre from Countess Ablaze; one I spun and plied within one day, one left to use. Photos soon! Or if you’re impatient and actually want to see the photos they are on my instagram. I am still waiting on my Spin City batt and Elizabeth Zimmerman book. I might email Spin City in a bit to check up on it but I know that they are made to order and they are probably busy due to Tour de Fleece!

Anyway, that’s my update, just a quick bit of typing before I head to a few hours of overtime at the supermarket (that’s where I work now; can’t remember if I said). Thanks for reading!

Future Project Wishlist!

I’m just watching A Homespun House podcast and thinking about what projects I’d like to knit in the future when my budget is doing better and when I have finished my current projects. I just wanna note these down so I don’t forget!

  1. Striped socks
  2. Bergere goomy patterned socks
  3. Regia patterned socks
  4. Non superwash high twist BFL socks – better for the environment as non plastic and compostable!
  5. Cable knitting – Michele Wang Shelter garments
  6. Stephen West’s Penguono
  7. Frankensocks – to use up sock yarn
  8. Granny stripe blanket – to use up sock yarn

These are just the knitted projects though! Other plans include:

  1. Hand dyeing my own colourways so that I get (hopefully, wishfully) exactly the colours/yarns/blends I want!
  2. Starting up sewing again – avoiding fast fashion/sweat shop/environmentally unsustainable fashion
  3. Getting back into soap making – for sharing eco friendly cosmetics with friends

Temporary Acquisition: Spinning Wheel

It’s been a little while since my last post, welp!

So, one of my peers in Japanese class happens to be a retired lady who has a farm, who also makes amazing food and cakes, is a textile artist… and has a spinning wheel! She hasn’t used it in years so she said I could borrow it. I went to her house and she showed me its set up. I now have it in my home! She said I could have it for a while, and get accustomed to wheel spinning until I eventually buy my own. She also kindly gave us some unwashed long-staple fleece (can’t remember the breed of sheep). That now brings me to 2 bags of some fleece plus a whole Torwen fleece. Eep. Better get to work!

We took it home, set it up… and had problems with it. First with getting to grips with the tension on a double drive band and then I struggled to get the newly spun yarn to wind onto the bobbin. It turns out that the metal bit of the orifice kept twisting around and so the yarn got stuck on that. I didn’t want to permanently alter the wheel in any way since it’s not mine, so C tied up some yarn around it in a way to keep it in position.

It seems to work now, but I am not yet used to both treadling and drafting and feeding the yarn into the orifice. A lot more practice is needed! I have thought about again adjusting the tension so the take-up of the yarn is slower, but I’m wary of causing more issues on this old wheel.

I’m mainly at this point with spindling as well since I tend to park and draft only. Hopefully I’ll practice enough that the process becomes natural and easier.

I have been toying with the idea of being able to spin and sell yarn (along with wanting to be an indie dyer). While this is a long way off, since I’m very new to the act of spinning itself plus not super knowledgeable about all fibres ever… it is a nice dream to non-chalantly (a word?) and slowly pursue. I’m going to continue to think ‘can I get away with making a spinning and dyeing business?’ and work towards improving my skills…

Other Acquisitions

  1. I bought Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitters’ Almanac, second hand, online, am waiting for its arrival!
  2. Last night I got paid from a commission, so was able to purchase an art batt from spin city. I’m so excited for its arrival… it may take a while to arrive as it’s made to order!

And, end of episode progress report:

  1. Seed Stitch Socks – at a deadlock, on the cuff, an inch to go before fish lips kiss heel. I’m intimidated by the FLKH PDF!
  2. Donegal Tweed Socks – on the heel of the first sock
  3. Featherweight Cardigan – cardigan body is complete, next up I must do the sleeves. There was a delay as I needed to order 4mm DPNs for the sleeves!
  4. Snowmelt Shawl – I started the shawl, I got excited! I’m halfway through.