The tree has come down

I’m in the final hours of my ‘holiday’ break from work. Whilst it hasn’t felt like a real holiday, due to my Spinning folio commitments, I do feel as though I’ve achieved a lot. It’s been intense! I reflected on this, this past week, and I can’t remember working this hard for my final year folio for my design degree! No kidding. As I’ve knit up my samples and put together my folio pages, I can see just how much I’ve learnt, wow. And also, I’ll never spin Flax again, haha.

I am pleased (and relieved) to say, my Spinning folio work is now complete, (aside from labelling my folders (4 large binders) and (3) skein boxes with some fanciness). I have just one more task to complete before I can be properly finished, and that is to do my Major Project. I have a little over 2 months left to do that, and I think I can do it. My crafting freedom cannot commence until this is done. Sweet, sweet FREE CRAFTING time, I can’t wait.

For my project, I’ve decided to spin and knit for a pair of socks. One of my teachers gave me the heads-up on obtaining some Shropshire. Try saying that 3 times fast, it’s really fun! Shropshire is a Downs Sheep, and the fibre is well recognised as a good choice for socks, due to it’s bounciness and resilience to felting.

The pattern I’ve chosen to knit is Ottoline by Rachel Coopey

I was able to get some light grey Shropshire, as well as some darker Shropshire. I’m going to spin it as a 3 ply crepe yarn, to give it extra strength. I plan to do some Natural Dyeing to get another colour in for these colourwork socks, and I think I might overdye the darker Shropshire, so it will be a more intense contrast.

But first, I’ve got a lot of spinning to do.

December

I really truly need to blog more often, December was busy!

Damian and I were in Brisbane again in late November, to early December. We ate delicious food, went for walks and worked, it was kind of a working holiday for me. It’s a shame the weather was not it’s typical Brisbane weather whilst I was there, when I touched down in Melbourne it was 37 degrees, gah…

When I got home, I had 4 days of advents to open!

This years Advent calendars were from My Creative Garage and also Little Woollie Makes, in 8 ply. I was very pleased with my choices, I’m also happy to not have started any advent projects immediately, (not that I have the time!) because I always seem to arrange them in a different order than is intended.

The following weekend, The Richmond Knitters had their annual Christmas (festivus) Dinner party. It was a very joyous occasion, and I would say it was our best yet.

Danni from Halfbaked Hand-dyed (and Damian) had one more surprise up their sleeve. As revealed on Christmas morning…

Damian asked Danni if she could choose 2 surprise skeins for me (as a surprise gift from Damian). It was probably a really tough ask… because I already have all of my favourite colour ways by Danni, and it’s quite a bit… I opened my gift and I couldn’t believe my eyes… 2 gobstopper balls of unreleased colour ways! And they are totally me. I really don’t know how to thank Danni enough.

Our family Christmases were spread over Christmas eve and Christmas day this year.

They were wonderful occasions and it was lovely to spread out the celebrations and eating over 2 days for once!

Wondering how my Spinning Folio is going? I’m on leave for a couple of weeks, and I’m making the most of it. I hope for some hotter days next week, so I can wash some fleece for my major project.

Christmas is coming

We put up the tree yesterday and I’m so glad we did. It’s one thing off the list before the silly season really begins. This year we did a combination of hand-made ornaments and colourful baubles. Normally I like to add a new hand-made ornament or two to the tree, but with the year that it’s been, there just hasn’t been time.

My Christmas ‘yarny’ preparations began months ago of course. The wrapped yarn on the left has been this way since July! It was the very last yarn Louley yarn offered before they suddenly announced they were winding up their dyeing business. I love surprises, so this package won’t be unwrapped until the 1st of December.

The 2 balls on the right were purchased during the Big Wool Show. Danni’s yarn is too irresistible to pass up, and it is the first yarn I purchased since the Bendigo Show (so yay for me!).

For this Christmas, I also ordered 2 yarn advent calendars from Little Woollie and My Creative Garage (I had 4 calendars last year, and that was a lot!). I opted for the 8ply versions this time, so I can make different scrappy projects with them. I’ll share more on those next time.

I’m finally getting down to putting my Spinning folio together. For each of the fibre samples we’ve spun, we need to put together a page with notes and samples. I think there’s approximately 50 samples altogether. There’s also the skeins we need to present separately which are 20-40 grams each, I was hoping to have these pages done before Christmas, so then I would ‘only’ have my major project to work on, but this seems like a pipe dream now. It’s good to have goals!

RAINCHECK

So after my brilliant record for walking consecutive days in a row (and getting a lot of reading/listening done); it rained a lot last week (and it continues to do so). Nevertheless I still got a few walks in and listened to The Comfort Book by Matt Haig.

I read/listened to one of Haig’s fiction novels earlier this year (was it earlier this year?!) titled, The Midnight Library. I think everyone has read this, so I don’t need to tell you it’s good, but it’s good. Then listening to The Comfort Book this week, which is more of a ‘self-help’ book, which I wouldn’t normally gravitate towards let alone admit to reading, was also not bad. Some of it is repetitive, and some of it is jumbled, which the author freely admits to upfront. I certainly can see the correlation between this book and The Midnight Library. It is read by Matt himself, which in itself was comforting. I found some really strong messages in it, but I’ll leave you to read it, to find out for yourself.

Last Sunday week, I attended my second-last class for the Spinning certificate. It was a Creative Yarns class with Janet Day. Janet’s a wonderful teacher and it was a joyful day learning from her. We begun with ‘Beehives’ probably the hardest spin for the day, chosen to be practised first, because our concentration was at it’s best at the start of the session.

Then we moved onto ‘coiled’ yarns, ‘super coils’, and ‘auto-wrap’ yarns. Finally we witnessed Janet make ‘Wolf Yarn’, which is a core-less core-spun yarn, named by Judith Mackenzie because it kept the wolf from the door. Janet explained, once mastered it is fairly quick and looks impressive so sells well, hence keeping the wolf from the door.

I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I’m listening to a new book.

Consistency is Key

It’s funny how when you sort out your priorities, things get done, or get closer to being done.

Whilst walking this week, I needed a shorter book to follow last week’s epic 16 hour listen (not done in one week!). I chose to listen to After Dark by my favourite Japanese author Haruki Murakami. It’s a five hour listen, which is pretty short for Murakami.

It delves into the sub-culture of Tokyo city After Dark, the time when the trains stop running, and before they begin again in the morning. Having been to Tokyo and being kind of familiar with the area spoken about, I found it interesting and a bit of an eye-opener. It is of course, a work of fiction, but the events could all be very real. As with all of Murakami’s stories, there’s always 2 or more stories going on and the dialogue is wonderful. The second story was weird, in Murakami fashion but tied in (at the end) with the main tale. I’m not sure I would recommend this book unless you are a Murakami fan, or are interested in the night life of seedy Tokyo.

Sticking with Murakami, I finally listened to Murakami T: The T-Shirts I Love.

Yes, Murakami is massive into T-Shirts (and vinyl albums), and has quite a collection to write about. I really enjoyed listening to his first written in the 1st person book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I also enjoyed listening to his take on his T-Shirt collection, he has a great sense of humour. Surprisingly, Australia (and Melbourne specifically) was mentioned on couple of occasions, which was fun; imagine running into Murakami here! He had good things to say about our second-hand record stores. The duration is less than 2 hours and it was a fun listen. Coincidently on some of my walks, I’ve been breaking out my ‘Murakami’ T-Shirts purchased from Uniqlo a couple of years ago… he would totally avoid me if he saw me. He likes to keep a low profile.

Murakami’s latest 1st person story book, Novelist as a Vocation, has just been released, but I’m going to save that one for a little while at least.

I’ve been knitting on my mum’s socks this week. Amazingly, there is progress:

The patterned sock is an older design by Cookie A, called Tulip Socks. I think I’ve knit these once before. A great pattern by Cookie, as always, the easy lace stitches makes it look fancy, when it’s really not difficult to knit.

This week, I’ve started the process of setting out my Spinning Folio, I have quite a bit of work ahead of me, but I’ve got a plan or at least the process in place. Who know’s how I’m going to get it all done?

This week

I finished listening to Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton. It was pretty damn good, probably one of my favourite reads/listens. I would highly recommend it. It took me a while to get through the 16 plus hour listen, but with a new walking/listening regime in place I polished off the book in no time.

This week, I also worked on my ‘Colour’ spinning homework. This was a class I missed because I was in Brisbane with Damian. Luckily, I know a thing or two about colour. The homework is still a drag though, despite how pretty it is.

And I’ve reprioritised my projects once again. With Christmas just around the corner, I want to make sure I do actually finish my mum’s 2 pairs of socks in time. Of which, I’m only on the 1st sock of each.

My Stephen West MKAL shawl has taken a back-seat, along with my Nimue crochet blanket. I love all of these projects and I look forward to getting back to them early next year.

EmBRACING MY PACE

‘Embracing my Pace’, the catchcry of Stephen West’s Mystery Knit-along this year, is something I’m most certainly working by. I mean, I’m not knitting slowly… but the first clue (of four) is a killer. At times I found myself wondering how cruel it was to set this as the very first clue. Some kind of twisted test of resilience set by Stephen. I think it will be interesting to see how many FO’s will be completed with this MKAL compared to his other recent years of the KAL.

Just as the fourth and final clue dropped on Thursday night, I was still finishing up my very first clue. Here is is pre-braiding:

Here it is after the weaving:

I’ve watched and seen all of the spoilers for the remaining clues as they’ve dropped. And I’m excited to do each bit from now on in. But now that I’m soooo far behind, it’s not really a knit-along for me anymore, it’s a WIP.

With Christmas coming along, I’m hoping to get at least the 2 pairs of socks I have on the needles for mum, finished in time. My knitting dance card is full for the remainder of the year.

The beautiful blooms on our tree, have been a joy to watch as they grow each day. Will it ever stop raining?

This morning on my walk (yes, a new routine I’m trying out), was a real treat. I left home at 7 in the morning (unheard of) and came across a bit of activity at my local park.

Pretty cool huh. Mind you, I don’t think they’re cool when they’re sailing past my house dangerously close.

It’s the long weekend, and I’m here for it. A bit of catching up on my spinning homework (as always), spending time with family, and maybe even a bit of knitting on clue two.

A Three Month Catch-up

As I write today, it’s Saturday and it’s pouring with rain. I’m so thankful I don’t need to go anywhere today, and it’s a good time to take stock.

Warning! This is going to be a photo heavy blog post!

I thought I might start here. These 2 photos represent all that I’ve been spinning for the last 11 months as part of the Spinning Certificate I’m undertaking at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria. There is still some 3 classes of spinning to come, to add to this pile of yarn, then I’m somehow going to put it together into a folio of samples and notes. There’s also a major project to add to this body of work. Pretty impressive huh? Once I have all of this in a more presentable form, I’ll share with you some more of what is here. This is all handed in, in March 2023, so there may be a big update then.

In August, Damian and I went to Kyneton for about 10 days. It was a good opportunity to catch-up on some spinning (!) and to eat lots of delicious food, and to relax.

We also got down to Du Fermier in Trentham and shared a few laughs and good food with Annie Smithers.

In September, there was more spinning, making secret blanket squares for a friend’s wedding blanket, a visit to mum for her birthday (I visit her as often as I can now), I picked up my finished quilt from the long-arm quilter and I stayed in Hepburn for a long weekend with friends.

In October, I went to the Royal Melbourne Show (the first time in years!) with my sister and niece and nephew. I also went to Brisbane with Damian and had another lovely time there.

I begun the Stephen West Mystery KAL when I got home from Brisbane … and ‘I’m embracing my pace’. I think a lot of people are… not so many spoilers online this year, oh Stephen what have you done?!

Clue three has been released on Thursday night, and I’m still on the first clue, about half-way through… (more than what’s shown here)

Last weekend was a visit to mum’s and seeing her beautiful snowball blossoms, a trip to Murrumbeena for a friends’ quilt show. Our Weeping Cheals (Cherry) tree has begun to blossom this week.

This weekend I’ve got a catch-up at the guild tomorrow, I think we’re getting down to the business end of our course. So today will be spent working out what to take with me tomorrow, and hopefully knocking over more of clue one of this mystery shawl. And it continues to rain outside…

Somethings have had to give

It has been a while since my last blog post; as you may have guessed… my Spinning certificate has taken over my life, or rather just all of my free time.

Since I was here last, I’ve had to make some hard decisions. Like pausing my crochet in the Nimue crochet blanket-along. I was really enjoying it too 😓.

I’ve even had to slow down on knitting my mum’s socks, just to get my Magnolia Bloom Tunic finished in time for the Bendigo Sheep Show.

And finish it, I did, with about 3 days to spare…

I didn’t have time to block my Tunic, I also dared not to. During the first ‘wearing’ the length grew by a couple of inches, thanks Alpaca! I was cosy and warm wearing the dress outdoors at the show, I didn’t even need a coat. I was a tad too warm wearing it to the Women of Wool lunch though.

My knitting group the Richmond Knitters, contributed the major prize for Zigo Zago’s annual Bendigo raffle this year, and I squeezed in some time to make a couple of patches from Shelley Husband’s Granny Square Flair book. I’ve always wanted to know how to crochet 3D patterns, and now thanks to Shelley’s instructions I’ve done it.

But mostly my ‘free’ time has been spent, trying to claw back from being so far behind on my Spinning homework. It seems that when I feel as though I’m catching up, I have another class, which produces more homework samples. It never seems to end!

I’ve found merino the most difficult fibre to wash. I ended up washing it, lock-by-lock, I kid you not, after my first batch was a bit felted and rubbish. There’s been a lot less fibre prep, that I’ve had to do with the recent fibres, and it has been a welcome change. I never want to have to wash fleece or any other fibre for that matter again!

So far I’ve spun: 3 kinds of wool, mohair, alpaca, cashmere, angora, and several man-made fibres. I’m now up to my Silk (5) samples, and I’ve got Cotton (3) to go as well. Tomorrow at the guild, I’ll be learning to spin Flax, and the homework just keeps coming…

Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying it all very much. I’m learning heaps in a lovely environment of knowledgeable (and fun) women.