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

Advertisements

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.

Incoming

I figured it’s a good time to write a blog post today. I’m incredibly tired; I worked on bread department today, starting at 6am (so woke up at 4.30am). I’m currently struggling to keep my eyes open before it’s time to make dinner. Might even have a sneaky nap.

It’s been a week or so. I haven’t yet started my job but it is fast approaching. I have to work right up til this Sunday and then I have the Monday bank holiday to prepare, then on Tuesday I start.

(I took a nap after those two paragraphs and now it’s Thursday!)

I have three more days left at the supermarket, starting tomorrow. I’m looking forward to not having to wear a uniform again, to not finishing late, to not working the full weekend… and I have my fingers crossed that I will fit in well in my new job.

On the craft front, I received a skein from Fine Fish Yarns based in Ireland, bought for myself as a little pay day treat last month.

https://finefishyarns.mysimplestore.com

How could I not be taken in by those colours and by the colour way name ‘twilight grimoire’? I love the word grimoire and stuff associated with witches and occult and strange lovecraftian things.

I’m looking forward to knitting with it. It’s a single skein so to be honest it’ll probably be a pair of comfy socks worn with some big black cardigan and mauve or muted dress/other ensemble.

In the past few months my tastes in style and colour have jumped all over the place. When I first discovered indie dyed yarn I was all about the crazy neons. I still am, but now I’m appreciating natural shades (including undyed breed specific yarns) and more subtle colourings. I can definitely appreciate a good neon and I love pastels but I’m being drawn in by moody subdued colours. I’m not sure which of these schemes suit me best and I don’t want to own a ton of clothes to support a me that operates in several different colour schemes! My plan for the wardrobe is to deal with staples first.

I digress. Anyway, brief note; yes this yarn contains nylon again. And is super wash. I talk about avoiding it a few times in previous posts and I’m still interested in doing that, but it seems I’m a real sucker for indie dyed yarns which are very often on these sorts of bases. I won’t punish myself for it. I will keep trying though!

Anyway, that’s all for now as I better get back onto my to do list. I’m also knitting up a second vanilla sock. Thanks for reading!

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

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

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.