Finished object – Wheatfields Pullover

20-03-19 Wheatfield full

Well, here it is in its finished glory – the Wheatfields Sleeveless Pullover. I am really pleased with how it turned out and I think it’s a great layering piece for this time of year. I would wear this as I’ve photographed it over long-sleeved dresses or shirts when you don’t need a full-on cardigan or jumper but need a little bit of extra warmth. I really love the cream wool and I definitely need to knit something in this shade for myself – in fact, I’m pretty sure when I splurge on a kit from Virtual Yarns to knit Scapa, it’s going to be the cream version.

20-03-19 Wheatfield neck

Here’s some detail of the lace stitch and the crocheted border round the neck and armhole. I did two rows of double crochet (UK terminology) for the neckband and just a single row round the armholes. These have provided the perfect minimal edging. As to the lace pattern, it was a joy to work and I almost had it memorised after the first two or three repeats. The only rows that I had to keep consulting the pattern on were the two where you worked the top of the right-hand ear as well as the bottom of the left-hand ear and vice versa – I just couldn’t remember which way you had to work three knit stitches then four knit stitches and which was four knit stitches then three knit stitches.

I knitted this in a fairly small size and it ended up measuring 34″ round the chest. It’s just a bit tight for me which is lucky since it was knitted for sale in my Etsy shop. I used a 3.75mm needle for the main body with two strands of J C Rennie Supersoft Shetland wool held together. I think if I used 4mm needles it would be my size, but then I like the sturdiness of the wool knit at this gauge so I’m happy.

This was knitted bottom-up, in two separate pieces and seamed together as I always do, with a crochet chain. I know that I would get a better finish sewing the seams, but I would rather have a supportive visible seam than go for complete invisibility and lose some of the durability.

The back of the pullover is worked in stocking stitch and I simply whizzed through it. I do enjoy working on a nice stretch of stocking stitch and I like working the purl rows every bit as much as the knit rows, which makes me very odd in the knitting community.

20-03-19 Wheatfield back

Now this is done and up for sale, I am about to return to the Gaudi cardigan which keeps on not progressing even though I still adore it. Perhaps I am not yet quite desperate enough to wear it. One thing that is bothering me is the size; my diet has gone well, but it means some of my knits now don’t fit as well as they once did. I’m going to have a quick check to see if I am still happy with the size I am knitting before I go any further because if I’m going to have to unpick it and knit it smaller, I will be much happier to do that right now.

Whilst I knit this afternoon, I am going to watch the latest video podcast by Knitting The Stash. I find Melissa a very interesting knitter, podcaster and (very recently) yarn wizard and I highly recommend her podcast which you can find on YouTube or via her blog.

So, au revoir until Friday.


Hope your Wednesday is going fantastically well.


 

In which progress is made

11-03-19 knit progress

We live in a universe in which stars are being born in clouds of gas whilst others cool and diminish; entire galaxies are spinning, colliding, grouping and re-forming. So it is with our everyday lives – there are things we have just started, others that we are making some kind of progress on or completed, and a few which we have abandoned.

I have made progress in my crafty life. The lace-pattern front of the sleeveless pullover is complete and I have made a start on the plain back. In tandem with this, in the past few days I have been playing with my French Knitting kit. I bought it years ago and I used a bit of the very basic nylon yarn included to construct a sample ‘tail’ of knitting then promptly put it in my knitting cabinet and ignored it. Now I am experimenting with a ball of Rowan SoftYak DK yarn which is 76% cotton, 15% Yak and 9% nylon. I’d love to know if anyone has used this for a garment and what they thought so I must check it out on Ravelry. My plan is to make something for myself and also as a prototype item I could put in my Etsy shop. I can’t explain what it is, because it’s not really something you can explain – you have to see it. It is inspired by a necklace I saw at the Norfolk Makers’ event cross-bred with an item that I have recently seen in pictures from a designer’s Autumn/Winter 2019 catwalk show.

I have also been working on some Mother’s Day cards to put in my Etsy shop and I’m pleased to say the two designs I’m doing this year are now for sale (clicking the picture captions will take you to my Etsy shop).

11-03-19 knit MD card
A Mother’s Joy
11-03-19 MD card 2
You’re a Gem

The cards feature simple, graphic designs infilled with images of swatches that I have knitted myself. I’m planning to expand what I offer in the way of printed knit-related products to include packs of inspiration cards on a knitting theme and I already have some birthday card designs in the pipeline. At present I’m offering two colourways, but I will increase this with more colours and some textures as time goes on. For my actual knitwear, I am looking at the relative merits of Etsy and Folksy. The latter being UK-based has appeal as I am keen to encourage more ‘local’ buying by not offering to send my hand-knits overseas. That’s not to say in any way that I want to exclude the non-UK residents, but to encourage them to support the skilled craftspeople in their own countries. This is the reason I buy yarns from indie-dyers who, like me, are based in the UK although I love to look at offerings by dyers working all over the world.

I am going great guns with my self-imposed month of creative writing challenge, although the format of the challenge has changed somewhat in the first week. I’ll do an update about this on Wednesday.

Well, that’s what I’ve been doing for the past few days. I hope the weekend has been enjoyable and productive for all of you who so kindly read my blog. Feel free to let me know in the comments what crafty (or not-so-crafty) projects you are working on.


 

Landscapes, wheatfields

03-03-19 Writer

Last Saturday was my second trip to the Castle Writers’ group at Norwich Castle Museum and this time we covered the topic of landscape and how the setting can act like another character within your writing. This is a concept that I will have to work on because logic dictates that the landscape needs people to react with or, at the very least, a character to observe it. However powerful the elements are, they are only dramatic in terms of the effect they exert on a person or an object which we care about. That’s how it seems to me, but like I say, I need to work on it.

The other thing I am working on at the moment is a sleeveless pullover, a transitional piece to extend the life of winter dresses and blouses into the spring weather. Here it is so far:-

06-03-19 WIP
Fields of Wheat

I am absolutely loving working in my favourite Shetland yarn (J C Rennie Supersoft Shetland) which I am holding as a double-strand to work at approximately DK gauge. I am also enamoured of this particular shade. It is such a good, clotted-cream colour, neutral but uplifting. The lace pattern reminds me of wheatsheaves, thus I am thinking of this garment as Fields of Wheat. It is destined to go into my Etsy shop, worst luck, as part of me wishes I was knitting this for myself. I am knitting a small size, but I intend to make it available in a medium and large as well. The design will feature a v-neck and the back will be in stocking stitch.

I really enjoy knitting a nice, simple lace pattern and this one has proven to be quite easy to get the hang of. It has a 12-row repeat which is just right to do in one sitting, meaning I get a pleasing feeling of progress each time I work on the top. Even so, I am looking forward to getting the front finished because I just love a good expanse of stocking stitch.


I hope you are enjoying your current projects, whatever field they may be in. Do you have a work in progress that is making you smile?


 

Strike up the band!

I like to think I go my own way in life; stand apart; never follow the herd; make considered choices. Every so often, though, I’m right there, leaping onto the bandwagon and waving a flag with the rest of the human race. So, deep breath, I am experimenting with turning my phone screen to monochrome – a bang-up-to-date trend.

If you want to read the full low-down on why it makes sense to do this, try reading this essay on Medium (you can read up to three essays a month on Medium free of charge so I believe you should be able to follow this link). The gist is that all the bright colours on your device act like a sugar-rush to your brain and keep you coming back for more. Putting your device on greyscale is more restful to the eyes and more boring to the brain, so you reduce your desire to keep picking up the phone.

This intrigued me so I tried it yesterday and this is what I found. First, and most importantly, it wasn’t an epiphany and, unlike the writer of the essay, I didn’t find that colours in the real world seemed brighter, although yesterday was a spectacular day of bright, warm sunshine and deep blue skies so everything looked pretty bright to begin with. I am not sure if I used my phone less than usual, but I don’t use my phone as much as some people do so clearly mileage will differ from person to person. What I particularly did like about the greyscale screens was how easy it became to differentiate between the icons for different apps and I wonder if this is where colours mess with my head. I have struggled with situations where I open completely the wrong app, not just once, but every time I want to open one I consistently open another one, as if my brain has got a particular option wired into it and won’t be told that it’s wrong. With the colours gone, the symbols stand out better and are easier for me to comprehend.

To illustrate the point, here are comparative screenshots from my own phone:-

25-02-19 Std open screen
Opening screen standard
25-02-19 Grey open screen
Opening screen greyscale
25-02-19 Std phone screen
Apps screen standard
25-02-19 Grey phone screen
Apps screen greyscale

The greyscale is quite a warm grey and very pleasing to look at. I like the way the bubbles on the opening screen wallpaper look like pearls when the opening screen is translated to greyscale. The wallpaper is an old Apple desktop background from the days when iMacs came in colours like Tangerine and the Strawberry shade shown.

One important thing to note is that this is just about turning the display from colour to monochrome. For example, if you look in your Photos app, all of the photos show in monochrome; if you take a photo, the camera shows you the image as monochrome. However, the photos are all still in colour, the camera still shoots a colour photo. As soon as you turn your display back to colour all the colours are there. Also, this is not a ‘hack’, it is simply using a setting that is built-in, certainly to Apple phones. If you are interested in trying it yourself, the essay I referred to above directs you on the steps you need to take.

Will I keep my phone on this setting? Who knows? (Anyone familiar with the Dr Who 50th Anniversary episode will recall that the answer to the question “Who knows?” is Tom Baker, tapping the side of his nose.) And does it matter? Indeed, if it does matter, how far will this go? Will I end up with a black and white TV and only write in black ink on white paper? Anything is possible.


In other news, I dipped out of circulation a bit last week, but now I’m back and raring to go. It’s good to take a few days out, even when your days ‘in’ aren’t exactly bursting at the seams. I am going great guns with the InCoWriMo challenge and should complete it so long as neither of my hands drops off. I am working on a idea for a Mother’s Day card to sell in my Etsy shop (https://www.etsy.com/shop/pamalisonknits) and the latest Avon brochure is online (https://www.avon.uk.com/store/pamalisonbeautyshop/) – there is a nice new springtime perfume which comes with a generous gift with purchase, and also the launch of a Korean Beauty line which I can see being popular with the trendy set.

I hope your week is off to a good start and I’ll see you back here midweek.


 

Inspiration and a Sopwith Camel

It has been a funny old week, with me veering wildly between a total lack of inspiration and an outpouring of inspiration that didn’t know where to stop. Not the kind of week where I have been able to get things under control; and when I say “things” I mean my head.

There is a lot of wisdom to be found on the subject of inspiration and the advice unwaveringly boils down to “don’t wait for inspiration, build a solid practice of turning up to your creative deeds and the inspiration will follow”. This is good advice and it actually works. It is how people get their books written, their jumpers knitted, their paintings done, their cakes baked. I know myself just how effective it can be. That is, except on the occasions when you just can’t think of a single thing to write about (or knit, or cook, or paint, or wherever your personal creative muse pushes you).

My periods of inspiration this week have been mainly confined to the realm of knitting, partly a personal project which I will share with you later in the month (nothing major, but I worked on it yesterday and it provided me with some laughs and an interesting insight into my yarn-buying habits); and partly on a product idea for my Etsy shop which I need to complete, photograph and load up for sale. This is all very good, except my aim for this week was to balance my time between trying to find some paying work, sorting the prototype item for my shop, and doing some creative writing and only one of those three was actually getting done.

This is where the inspiration part really comes into play, because at tea-time yesterday I had a spiffing short story title pop into my head unbidden (well, actually it was something I said out loud to myself and then thought “Blast, that would make a good short story!”) so I jotted it down for consideration at a later date. When I sat down later in the evening to read the Haruki Murakami novel I got for Christmas – which is, by the way, every bit as brilliant as all his previous works – I read exactly one paragraph before I realised that I really wanted to be writing something rather than reading, so I wrote a few paragraphs of the short story. It felt very good indeed to make a start on it.

Now, to less esoteric business. Normally on a Friday I would bring you a Quote of the Week, but this week I wanted to share something I read as I was out and about in Norwich.

07-01-19 sopwith camel
The Sopwith Camel, built in Norwich by Boulton and Paul

This is part of a plaque that is sited in the Riverside complex in my home city of Norwich, UK. I think I knew before that the Sopwith Camel was built in Norwich, but it’s one of those facts I forget for long periods of time. This particularly charms me because as a teenager I was very fond of the Peanuts cartoons by Charles M Schultz and Snoopy often pretended his kennel was a Sopwith Camel.

And, of course, as soon as I think of Snoopy, I think of my favourite ever Snoopy image. I was somewhere between the ages of 16 and 18 when I purchased the following greeting card which I kept in physical form for many, many years, but now I only have the scanned image. For me, this is the quintessential Snoopy.

 

I have, thus far, managed to avoid using my little typewriter to draft any stories, but how long can it be?


I hope this little ramble has amused you momentarily and that you have, perhaps, had a more productive week than I have managed.


 

Pile of plans

Back from my “staycation” holiday and buzzing with ideas which rapidly need to be transformed into goals and achieved.

I previously alluded to my desire to earn my living using more of my creativity, and one part of this is my plan to open an Etsy shop selling hand-knitted accessories and baby clothes. Over the past month I have been doing some experimental knitting to establish the kind of things that I plan to make. Unfortunately, the results to date have been less than stellar, but, as with anything creative, you can learn a lot from the things that don’t go quite as you’d like them to.

One very important thing I have learned whilst working on my prototypes is that I have a quite specific vision of the style of items that I want to produce. This is more fundamental than ideas of individual patterns, it is about what my output will look like as a whole. It is about the type of knits that I enjoy doing, the colours that will inspire me, and it is also about the materials that I will use.

I have always been something of a “yarn snob” and using wools that I wouldn’t normally gravitate towards over the past month has proved to me that I need to use good quality materials if I’m going to be happy with what I produce. In view of this, I’ve ordered a couple of packages of yarn to experiment with, and now they are here I’m ready to put in some serious knitting time.

Pile of Plans
Not a pile of wool, but a pile of plans

I hope by next week I will have some finished objects that I am happy to share with you. I may do a “compare and contrast” with the items that I have been less happy with. I would also like to do a review of each company that I order wool from.

In the meantime, I would like to wish all my readers a happy, constructive, and inspiring week.