Stash crash

Stash crash 1
Little bits of things

I was brushing my teeth when the truth hit me; those yarns in my stash, the ones I have kept every time I have been through a weeding session, are only in my stash because I have not been inspired to knit them.

It’s not that they are bad yarns, and it is not that I don’t like them, although perhaps I do not love them as once I did. Some of them are yarns I like very much indeed, but they are in entirely the wrong quantities, weights, or colours to knit the things I want to knit. Every time I have not used them, but chosen a different yarn instead, has increased the chance that I will never use them.

It may well be that this is the point in my life where I go stash-free. Forget Brexit, it’s time for Yarnxit!

I hope you are feeling happy with your stash this autumn morning. Feel free to point me to lovely pictures of your yarn because I’m counting down the days until I can buy some wool that I do want to knit.

Give an inch

One more inch

I really want to be knitting. I need the soothing, repetitive motion. I need the creative release. I need the warm, woolly goodness. I just don’t really know what to knit. Therefore, instead of knitting consistently on a project, I have descended into knitting an inch of ribbing in various yarns on various needles before changing my mind.

The photo shows my latest attempt which will be the cuff of a sock if it survives that long. The previous attempt at a sock was ripped out completely when I got to the heel because I just wasn’t feeling the love. I spent some time over the weekend looking at the yarns I have and whether I could find a pattern for a garment to suit them, with less than stellar results on both fronts. I did, however, dig out this 100g ball of Botany wool from 21st Century Yarns which I thought would be totally unsuitable for socks, yet cast on anyway. It actually feels quite sturdy so it may work out and at least I like the colours which in daylight tend more towards the pinky-mushroom than the photo suggests.

Next Monday I may have a whole new inch of ribbing to show you, but for now this is my knitting progress. I hope your projects are progressing with rather more enthusiasm.

Bye-bye summer 2019

Berries & Lichen
The fruits of our labours

I can’t remember a year when the arrival of September has coincided so exactly with the arrival of autumnal days. Over the course of the weekend, the temperature here has suddenly dropped from highs of 30℃ to 20℃ and the sun that was scorching on the last day of August seems merely warm and pleasant now that September is here.

I am settling bit by bit into my new work role and letting my routines unfurl themselves in their own time to fit around the new schedule.

I unpicked the socks I was knitting and now I have nothing on the needles. Nothing has grabbed my attention and there are no pressing gaps in my wardrobe that need to be filled. The ice-cream pink jumper will still probably be my next garment, although I don’t know when I will start knitting it; when the mood takes me is my best estimate. I have an idea that I should knit a warm hat for my Helsinki trip next February, but I’m not sure.

It is definitely time to be getting back into a writing routine, not only for my blog posts, but also back to working on my novel. I had a very interesting conversation with a gentleman I met today who is also working on a novel, and it was inspiring in a quiet, comfortable way. It started when he brought out not only his 2019 diary, but also his 2020 diary which he was already carrying around with him – a very impressive action. In fact, if I had not been working at the time, I would have been very interested to delve into his “everyday carry” bag to see exactly what he was toting around; rather like a fully interactive, real-life YouTube video.

All in all, though tangible progress is rather hard to see, when I refer back to my Word of the Year (Establish), I think I am moving in the right direction.

 

Stationary?

Muted socks - back
Back of socks

There has been progress, but it has been slow and this is the total amount of knitting I have done in the past week. I remember the days when I could knit the whole back of a cardigan in that amount of time, but the tides of life dictate my knitting performance. The tides of life, and the weather – over the past few days we have seen the return of the crazy temperatures we had early in the summer and I am not amused.

Muted socks - front
Front of socks on hold

As you may be able to see, I am currently working on the heel flap of the sock, with the stitches for the front on hold across two stitch holders. I have, apparently, chosen to work the heel flap in stocking stitch which is not my usual method. I noticed that after a couple of rows and I couldn’t be bothered to tink back and use a twisted rib which, in itself, indicates to me that I am not investing my accustomed amount of enthusiasm in this project.

When I cast on the sock, I said how soothing the colours are, and I still think that there is a lot to like in the muted shades of green, grey and pinky-purple. However, when I work on it I’m afraid ‘calming’ turns to ‘boring’ and I miss the splendid colours of my lovely golden cable-front cardigan and the bright and cheerful Mama Weer All Crazee Cowl. This sock yarn is the knitting equivalent of zonking out in front of the television, complete with the associated post-nap regret.

Adding to this rather underwhelmed feeling is the fact that I am not even sure if I need this particular pair of socks. I was knitting them as a less obtrusive pair to wear with my work trousers, but now I’ve started my new job I believe the uniform is going to be a dress, leaving socks for my personal life only. Now, in my personal life (“real” life?), I am a firm believer in the brighter the better, which leaves me in an odd position with regard to these socks and, I have to admit, my current stash of sock yarns. I think I may need to reassess, but this is not the time to do so.

I am not at the point where I am considering ditching this sock project, although it might be a different story if I had anything else on my knitting radar for the next couple of months. I might take the opportunity now to tink back those heel rows and do it differently because I know myself, and the fact that I am not loving the yarn now is no indication of how I will feel about the finished socks. They might end up being the favourite ones in my sock drawer. They might end up being incredibly long-wearing and still be taking their place in my rota when prettier ones are just a distant memory. Such is the way of the world, and I love it.


Sock Yarn = Opal Sport Exclusiv
Needles = KnitPro Karbonz 2.25mm


 

Not that

New sock
Not that but this!

There is a computer service known as IFTTT which allows users to write simple little commands which their computer will action automatically under certain circumstances. The initials stand for If This Then That. An example would be If an e-mail arrives from Harry then move it to the Harry folder. It makes sense because this type of thinking is hard-wired into the human brain – If the sun is just above the horizon then it is early morning or late evening; If the rain comes then the crops will grow. Routines, which I wrote about at the beginning of the week, are often based on the IFTTT scenario.

So what does this concept have to do with the knitting in my photo? Well, the knitting leads me to propose a different concept – NTBT. Not That But This. My photo is clearly not a progress update on the sleeve of the Basilica cardigan which I had just started in my previous blog post. I didn’t get more than a few rows of that completed before realising that this is not the time to be embarking on a complicated pattern. This is the time for sock knitting (enter sock wool, stage left).

I grabbed a ball of Opal Sport Exclusiv out of my stash and made a start. I am enjoying the gentle greens and greys of this yarn’s colourway, so soothing on the soul (oh, wait, should that be the sole?), green being a calming colour. It isn’t quite as soft as the sock wools I normally use, being a blend of 60% wool/25% polypropylene/15% polyamide, but it’s what I had on hand and I’m keen to use up some old yarns. I have a further three lots of sock yarn which I’ll try to get knitted up over the next couple of months, all from West Yorkshire Spinners – a plain grey which may be too boring to knit, but we’ll see; a grey with cream and brown; and a grey with cream and red.

The big change that is coming up is my return to full-time work after a year without a formal job. Between that and knowing that I want to keep aside plenty of time to pursue my creative writing, I anticipate that my knitting production will slow down significantly for the next few months. My main plan for the autumn is to minimise my yarn stash and tidy up the storage in my knitting cabinet, which currently looks like this:

Knitting cabinet
Not exactly inspiring

I’m not sure if I have talked about this piece of furniture before, but it is a music cabinet which belonged to my maternal grandfather who gave music lessons after he retired. One of our favourite parts of our grandparents’ large Edwardian terraced house in York was his Music Room which was on the first floor (upstairs from the ground floor, this being an English house). The bottom part of the cabinet swings downwards to about 45º and I have some knitting patterns stored there, but that area isn’t being used as well as it could be. The real bugbear for me are the Rowan magazines. These are all issues that I love and don’t want to get rid of, but the size makes them difficult to store effectively.

Once the yarns and storage are sorted out, I think my next garment will be the big pink jumper of my dreams. I will have to order wool for that and I don’t want to start it until I am more comfortable about the amount of time my new job will leave for knitting.

So these are my meandering thoughts for a Friday morning. I have a busy weekend of Grandparenting to enjoy before I start work on Monday. Exciting times. I hope that you are all looking forward to the weekend.

Finished object – Mama Weer All Crazee Cowl

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So I finished my cowl and I am delighted with it. I love how enormous it is and I love the glorious colours. It will be warm and cosy, not to mention ultra-cheerful, on cold winter days. Although working the knit one, purl one rib for such a big project was rather hard on the hands, it pays dividends in how the cowl sits and its versatility, so I’m glad I chose that. It also makes the cowl completely reversible which is very useful when the inside of an item is frequently on view.

In the end, I finished after the ninth colour because it felt complete. I had been a bit unsure about adding the stripe of pink at the end because the progression of the nine colours seemed close, and the pink interrupted it. That mini skein will sit in my stash and be used either to augment a pair of socks (it is sock wool, after all), or be added into the colourwork in a patterned sweater somewhere down the line.

I have updated my projects archive with the full details of this knit and I just want to take this opportunity to point you in the direction of Noodle Soup Yarns whose mini skein set I used on this project. Charley is a very talented dyer who lives in my home county of Norfolk and sells her hand-dyed wools at local craft fairs and through her online shop.

Taking photos of the finished object, I was struck all over again by how rotten I am at taking selfies. In fact, I think that is the thing above all others that marks me out as a member of my generation. I have just about got the hang of it to show my face, but I have to admit defeat over trying to photograph myself wearing the things I knit. I think the answer might be a tailor’s dummy (or is dress form a better term?), but it is unlikely to make an appearance given the bijou nature of my flat.

Whilst I was waiting for Holby City to start last night, I sneakily cast on my next garment – Basilica by Martin Storey for Rowan. I am knitting the sleeve to begin with to act as a swatch, although I have used the yarns and needles before and I’m confident about the gauge I will get.

14-08-19 Basilica cast on

I hope you’re getting on well with your creative projects and everything else in your life. Today the temperature in Norfolk has dropped and it’s dull and threatening rain. I recognise this weather – it heralds autumn and that can’t come quickly enough for me, even if it’s only to give me a chance to swaddle myself in that crazy collection of colour.

 

I don’t have plans and schemes

I don’t have plans and schemes
And I don’t have hopes and dreams
I don’t have anything
Since I don’t have you

Well, actually, I do!

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My next garment

Over the past couple of days I have been examining my modest yarn stash to work out which yarns I want to keep and which I am never going to use so therefore need to donate to charity. I’ve also been getting some exercise winding small remnants of Shetland wool from the cones into balls as I think they will be easier to store. I am saving all of these to make a Fairisle patterned sweater one of these old days.

Since I finished Gaudi earlier this year and ended up with plenty of left-overs of the Rowan Felted Tweed DK, I have had the above cardigan on my radar. It is Basilica by Martin Storey – a lovely, cosy-looking bundle of colour which will my third project from the excellent Rowan pattern book New Vintage DK, which I bought in autumn 2018.

After careful consideration, I have come up with the following colour scheme:

Main colour for ribs and collar – a double strand of JC Rennie Supersoft Lambswool in Marine (the ball nearest to the model’s head in my photo)

Secondary colour, for the larger colour blocks on body and sleeves – a double strand of JC Rennie Supersoft Lambswool, one strand Blueprint and one strand an unknown shade of grey

Stripes – Rowan Felted Tweed DK in Mineral and Clay, double strands of JC Rennie Supersoft Lambswool in Medium Grey and an unknown shade of orange

I am planning one very small change to the way the pattern is written so that the stripes are at the bottom of the garment and the solid colour block starts at the armhole and stretches to the neck. This will get around the fact that I have a limited amount of my secondary colour.

Considering that this garment is knit in stocking stitch with a very simple stripe sequence, I am surprised that Rowan felt they needed to produce it as a charted design. I understand (although I don’t entirely agree with) the use of charts to convey complicated instructions that would take up too much space if written out in full, but in this instance I can’t imagine the written instructions would take up as much room as the chart.

That’s the limit of my knitting plans and schemes so far. The pale pink “sloppy joe” jumper is still on my list, but first I want to concentrate on getting this bunch of wools out of my stash. I don’t really have any other sweater quantities stored away, which is a lovely position to be in. Ideally, I’d like to run my stash down completely. Lovely though yarns are in their skeins and balls, I like them so much better when I’ve turned them into garments and put them in my wardrobe!

Well, I think I will knit another couple of rows on my cowl before tea – I am just starting colour number eight.


For your education and/or enjoyment, why not take a listen to Don McLean’s version of Since I Don’t Have You?


 

A curiosity cabinet

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Mama Weer All Crazee Cowl – progress to date

Today I am going to write about a miscellany of ideas, connected only in that they spark my interest, thus the title of “Curiosity Cabinet” seemed appropriate.

To kick things off, there is progress on my Crazee Cowl and I am now on the seventh of the planned ten colours. I must admit I am ready for this to be finished and I am reserving the right to call it done without using all ten mini skeins. That being said, the colour I started at the weekend is very much my cup of tea, gorgeous shades of deep purple/blue, teal and turquoise with splashes of verdant green and yellow. This has led me to conclude that when I am using a colourful yarn I like it to be really vibrant and multicoloured. It’s not that I dislike the more muted combinations in middle of the cowl, I just really like the bright ones.

I like to learn from the projects I work on, and if my learning point on this one has been to invest in wild and wonderful colours on my special skeins of yarn then it’s a lesson well worth learning. Thinking about it, this cowl itself has the air of a curiosity cabinet about it, and if I wasn’t so enamoured with the Slade-inspired “Mama Weer All Crazee Cowl” I think I would rename it “Curiosity Cabinet”.

Now we’re into August I’ve been looking at the latest brochures over on Rowan Yarns’ website and, in particular, Martin Storey’s recent offerings which include some lovely, wearable patterns, as I expect from my favourite designer. I particularly like Neat from All Year Round (a very basic v-necked jumper) and Holburn from Easy DK Knits (the round-neck jumper with split and buttoned welt). I think a combination of the two would be particularly interesting. Although I’m not a hoodie girl, I do like the look of Homespun. Finally, I’ve included Tactile, not because of the pattern, but because the first thing I noticed in the picture was the profile of those sliding doors, having spent seven years of my life becoming very closely acquainted with that product line. It’s funny what sticks with you when you are no longer involved with a thing on a daily basis.

Away from the knitting, I’ve been working on my goals for the next three months, as I was pondering in my previous blog post. Over the weekend I worked through a free training module on the American Franklin Planner website and I must say it sparked my enthusiasm to think about my core values much better than either of the books I’ve been reading this year (Getting Things Done by David Allen and The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll). Perhaps it is just the brevity of it that appealed to me, who can tell?

I’ve enjoyed a couple of podcasts over the weekend. On the knitting theme, there was the latest offering from Melissa of Knitting The Stash and I particularly enjoyed the part about receiving vintage knitting magazines for her birthday during which she touched upon the idea that knitting patterns themselves are often quite timeless, it is the styling of the photography which changes and which makes things seem dated. I love a good vintage pattern so I was very interested in this. The other podcast which was audio rather than video, was from NASA and covered commercial ventures in the space programme from whether products can be/should be endorsed, to encouraging commercial space ventures in order to utilise their facilities to reduce the cost of future exploration. All fascinating stuff.

Lastly, here’s a photo I took last week of the military area at Earlham Road Cemetary, with the Spirit of the Army standing sentinel over the soldiers in the summer rain.

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Crazee Cowl/Small Steps

Fouth colour
Almost done with the fourth colour

My Mama Weer All Crazee Cowl is growing slowly. The British heat wave has deadened my pace which, let’s face it, is pretty much a crawl on this project even under conducive weather conditions. It’s not that I don’t love the project, because I do, but 300 stitches of K1 P1 rib in sock yarn on 3.00mm needles makes each row a labour of love. All I can say is thank heaven for Charley of Noodle Soup Yarns because gazing in adoration at the colours in the yarn is what will see me through this project.

Next up I will be moving from the muted purples and browns of the Tickled Plum colourway onto the silvery sparkly purple party named Festive.

Fifth colour
Fifth colour ready to go

You know that happy dance that Snoopy does? Well, that will be me when I hit this colour!

Small Steps

It struck me on Thursday morning that it doesn’t take massive gains to turn the day’s mood from slightly negative to slightly positive. Getting to the post office to find the item you’re posting isn’t going to be as expensive as you expected; finding even one job vacancy you like the sound of and that is in a location you are able to get to; the Met Office promising that temperatures will drop come Saturday. These are the tiny gains which mean a lot. Sometimes it is best to put your head down and just take the next small step, rather than constantly looking at a horizon which never seems to get any closer.

Hope you are all keeping well and those in the southern hemisphere aren’t getting too fed up with the constant “it’s too hot” chant coming from us in the north!

 

Finished object – Cable Front Cardigan

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A finished object… and I took advantage of an invitation for a couple of hours at our local park to rope my daughter into taking some modelled shots for me in between games of balloon football with my grandson.

I am exceptionally happy with how this project turned out. The fit is just great and adding the button makes this garment better suited to my requirements because I don’t really do things that hang open at the front – maybe it’s my narrow shoulders that make things seem precarious if they are not tether shut at some point? I adore the marled effect from the gold and cream yarns held together and I am pleased to say this combination washes really and dries really well which means the garment will be pretty low-maintenance. It’s definitely a fabric that isn’t scared of being bunged in the washing machine. The fact that I knitted this, start to finish, in just a month is testament to how simple and pleasurable a project it was to knit.

You can see more technical information on my project page here.

Just another couple of shots for you:

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FO 2
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This gorgeous button was bought at Liberty of London in 2010 – colours go so well with this cardigan

Those smaller barley-sugar twist cables really please me and I’m really keen to do more cabling, although perhaps I’ll start with the sleeveless top with cabled midriff rather than jumping into the all-over cabled jacket without a life belt!

A finished item put away in the wardrobe makes my heart sing.