‘Freedom’ Visit & Shawlography MKAL Spoilers and updates

Yesterday, with our lockdown over and many restrictions being lifted in Melbourne, I went to visit my mum. It’s the first time I’ve seen her in many months.

I was finally able to give her the blanket I crocheted for her for her birthday in September. I loved making it for her, as I crocheted each stitch, hoping and wishing I would be able to see her for her birthday, as we all know that was not to be.

All is well now (apart from the pandemic not being over), because she has her blanket and she loves it. Melbourne’s weather is still cool, so the warm blanket feelings can still be enjoyed for the time being.

I made the blanket in secret, not saying too much about it on social media, in case she saw any commentary. Which meant I also had to keep it a secret from you!

The pattern is The Woodland Blanket by Lucy of Attic 24. It is made from a whopping 1.7 kilos of odd balls of stash wool.

I really enjoyed making this design and I would consider making another one from my stash of odd balls in different colours (it seems I’ve exhausted some of these colours and yet removing 1.7kgs from the stash bins didn’t make a dent!)

Onto my Stephen West MKAL, if you don’t want to see or know any spoilers turn away now…

Clue 3 has just dropped on Friday and I can’t believe the MKAL is nearly over, it’s been so much fun. Here’s some pictures of my shawl after clue 2 and finally a little photo of the beginning of clue 3.

With clue 3, Stephen West has popped my Brioche cherry! The technique I’ve been most afraid of doing for MANY years, and now I’ve finally done it! I’m so grateful for Stephen’s tutorials on YouTube for this mystery knit-along. They are very well produced and clear, he’s wonderful. I may have added a few more of his patterns to my queue…

SURPRISES and SPOILERS

Stephen West’s Mystery Knit-along or MKAL began last weekend! I have been looking forward to this cast-on oh so much. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE surprises and I hate spoilers.

Early last week, I made the rookie mistake and I signed up last minute to take an online class learning Colour work in Crochet for the weekend. The class ran on Saturday and Sunday morning at 8am for 2 hours each day.

Therefore, I wasn’t able to begin the Knit-along with the vigour I had hoped! The class was interesting and I learnt some new things… but there was a ton of ‘homework’ between the 2 classes. It took me at least a few hours (maybe 4 hours) to get what I needed to done and prepared for Sunday’s class. If I hadn’t done the homework there would have been no point showing up to class on Sunday. I felt that, that would have been a waste no matter how much I wanted to start the MKAL!

Here’s some samples from the class, using the techniques, intarsia and stranded colourwork, and sometimes they were used together. I was interested in learning these techniques for the creative potential, or for just making some really fun dishcloths!

Once Sunday’s class was finished I tossed my crochet aside and got down to the MKAL; all the while knowing I had to avoid social media for the accidental spoilers. So I’m social media ‘lite’ this week, whilst I catch up to everyone else.

SPOILER ALERT… this is where I got to on Sunday:

I’ve now completed section 2, the wedges section. I have to say, I was not a fan of this section, it was fiddly, took a long time and I don’t have much to show for it! I want to knit hard, and these little short rows are just not doing it! Not to worry, I know that from here on in as the sections get bigger because the shawl will get bigger, I’m hoping there’s less fussing and more knitting or knittin’ as Stephen would say.

I think I’ll be caught up in time for the next clue, and I won’t make the same ‘mistake’ this weekend. If you don’t hear from me, it’s because I’m knitting. And yes… I know it’s not a race, but I love surprises and not spoilers… so it is a race, don’t let anyone fool you.

Staying Busy

A couple of weekends ago, in the wee-hours of the morning… I spent a few hours with Jillian Moreno and a bunch of cool Spinners mainly from the US through ‘Stitches at Home’, an online fibre festival.

I’ve wanted to become a better Spinner, with a capital ‘S’ for sometime. I am actually enrolled to do the local Guild’s certificate of spinning, but due to delays it is now beginning in November. I can hardly wait.

Jillian was wonderful and the class(es) were very enjoyable, that’s right, there were 3 mornings of getting up before 5am to front class, yawn.

The best thing I learnt? Long-draw isn’t the only form of Woollen spinning. Long-draw SCARES ME! I learned that Woollen Spinning (I’m normally a Worsted Spinner) is a lot simpler than I first thought. There of course is still a lot of practise to be done, but I feel better for the acknowledge, that I can do both, and it’s not hard… it’s just going to take some practise!

I have also cast-on my Pink Velvet sweater by Andrea Mowry. The yarn is Oyster Yarns Eden’s Blend (from The Purl Box) and it is luscious. I normally don’t knit my sweaters in the same colours as the designer’s sample, but for some reason, I have this time. It is a bit different for me, I hope I haven’t made a mistake. Would you believe, I also didn’t knit a gauge swatch?! I was feeling confident and impatient to start… what could go wrong? I hope to be at the sleeve divide (and the end of the colour work) before the weekend, in time for Stephen West’s Mystery Knit-along to begin. I’ll also know by then, whether my (non-swatching) gamble has paid off… ::nervous laugh:: .

These are the yarns I’ll be using in the MKAL:

This was the result of a stash dive and much contemplation. I can’t wait for the fun of a Stephen West knit-along, we really need it in Melbourne right now. I also really need a hair-cut…

My Sock inventory

Recently I’ve taken stock of my collection of socks.

My current ‘wearing’ socks have actually moved into an actual sock drawer. It took some doing, I’m not sure who designed bedside drawers to just have 2 tiny drawers. With the reorganisation complete, here is my handknit sock drawer September 2021:

Now these are not all of them; there’s the five pairs that I’ve knit this year (so far) that I’m keeping separate until the end of this year (a left-over tradition of the ‘box o’ sox KAL). There’s some in the washing basket, a pair on my feet and then there’s this pile:

The repair pile, or the ‘close to threadbare’ pile, that if there’s not a bunch-of-duplicate-stitch-stitching done soon, I’ll be feeling my cold feet on the tiles. Duplicate stitch takes such a long time to do, hours per pair. But totally worth it, when I’m not ready to let go of the socks. A couple of these pairs are on their second mend. After this, they may go to sock heaven.

I’m totally chuffed with my latest pair of finished socks. They are the Picnic Blanket socks by Helen of Curious Handmade, which were part of her Sock Society this year, and the second pair of socks that I’ve knit in this club.

Quite ironic how life can reflect socks sometimes, or vice versa. For those not living in Melbourne, we are allowed to have (very small) picnics in parks. But the photo below is taken on the fake grass in my front garden!

The yarn is once again by Danni of Halfbaked Handdyed, the colour way name is Pee Wee. I think the pattern and yarn are a perfect combination. They remind me of the ‘bobby’ socks I used to wear in primary school.

I might have to start knitting more socks for other people soon…

Why Hello There!

I know, I know, it’s been a while. I’ve finished a few projects since I’ve visited last, but I don’t need to tell you, these are strange times.

My latest FO (cast-off last night) are these super fun socks. The yarn is by Danni of HalfBaked Hand dyed. The vanilla socks are knitted from mini self-striping balls of yarn that I scored as part of her Advent Calendar of 2020.

They were started many moons ago, when we were ‘holidaying’ in Kyneton, which happened to coincide with another lockdown earlier this year. But no need to talk about lockdowns, that’s not why we’re here.

I don’t believe I’ve shared my Magnum Opus (or arch nemesis), the Birkin Sweater was all finished up in Kyneton as well. I do love the look of it, but somehow the fit still isn’t correct… it’s a show piece, and not an easy to throw on jumper.

I have lots of (crafty chat) to catch you up on, but I’m going to leave it there for today. Speak soon

May progress and catch up

It’s May! It’s been 2 whole months since popping in here, I’ll try to catch you up on some of the things!

We had Easter this year (as opposed to last year), so we made sure to celebrate it by getting together with my family.

The Easter Trifle came from Burch and Purchese and it was outstanding.

D had an Easter Bunny costume laying around that he had used for work, so I took it along to my family-do to see who might like to wear it. It turns out everyone thought that I should wear it… that idea certainly back-fired on me. I had my photo taken with all of the kids, but it turns out one was missing, she held back because she wanted her own photo with bunny. Then just as I was about to get out of costume, my mum also insisted on having her photo taken with me. Too funny.

I knitted just one of Arne & Carlos’ Easter decorations from some left-over yarns. I think there were 12 different eggs designed in conjunction with a daily video podcast they did in the lead-up to Easter.

In April, I returned to Hepburn Springs with some dear friends. Here is Bek modelling my ‘failed’ attempt of the Birkin sweater. It didn’t look like a failure when she wore the yoke, quite the opposite in fact. I have indeed cast this on again in a larger size for more ease. It is going wonderfully well now and I’ve knit past where I was. Who knows what might become of the original attempt?!

I’ve knit much further than this now, and I’m well into the body of the sweater

I finished knitting my Susurrus sweater in April. You may note that there are not any modelled shots of this FO that took a whole lot of knitting time. To be honest I’m not sure that it suits me, and the shaping is a bit odd, which is all my doing. I think it’s a failure, only this time I won’t be re-knitting it.

Let me explain.

I cast this on in a size with more ease than I normally would. I’m afraid my experience with Birkin had me second guessing myself and the size I should be knitting for myself. Once I divided the yoke into the sleeves and body, I realised there was too much ease. At this point I decreased the number of stitches down to a smaller size. Drastic action much?

I have blocked the sweater now, and I know it could work with the right clothes, or on another body completely. I just don’t think it suits my body.

Did I tell you how wonderfully well my Birkin is looking now?

Yesterday I attended the Handknitter’s guild annual Yarn and Craft market at Coburg Town Hall. It was such a joyous event after having so many things cancelled last year. I went without a shopping list, and bought a lot of pink yarn. But not too much, because you know, Bendigo is coming!

The Enchanted Mesa

I finished knitting my Enchanted Mesa sweater a few days into March, then over the weekend I was able to get some photos of me wearing it.

It’s everything I hoped it would be! It is a ‘dream knit’. The kind where you envisage to make something for yourself, but you never have the time to cast it on (because you’re always knitting something else).

The stars were aligned, when it came to stash yarn and pattern match. This gorgeous Lux Adorna Knits Cashmere DK was biding it’s time (since Stitches West 2015!) in my stash to be made into something worthy of it’s extravagance!

Sadly, I hear the indy yarn company is/has gone out of business just recently. Whilst I was still knitting the yoke, I wondered whether I should try to get ‘more’ of a certain colour. But there is very little left on their website and apart from white, none of the colours matched. So there was no ‘panic’ buying and I saved myself a lot of money by not purchasing anymore. I won ‘yarn chicken’ with about 7 grams of yarn remaining. Hurrah!

The design was really fun to make, and I’m quite convinced that Stephen West is a genius. I hope to make at least one more of his garment designs this year.

Goal setting

I have set my ‘loose’ knitting goals for the year and I promised to share them with you, so here they are 🙂

My sock drawer needs a massive pep up, so my first goal is to knit a pair of socks for myself each month of this year. I completed a pair of socks in January and I’ve almost finished a second pair, so I am on track. Socks for others are not counted in this goal, they will be additional. A lot of my socks are wearing thin, with this WFH business, I’m beginning to avoid wearing certain pairs because their ‘wearing days’ are numbered.

I enjoyed the ‘cast-on a new sweater/cardigan every month plan’ so much last year, it gave me so much joy. I plan to begin that once again once I finish my remaining 2 sweater WIPs. I completed my Granny Square jumper in January, I should… be able to finish Enchanted Mesa in Feb, Susurrus in March… so I’m free to cast on something new in April. This will also amount to a 12 sweater goal this year, for as long as the plan goes…

The problem with these 2 goals is, I also see large blanket projects happening this year. I need to ‘gobble’ up the 8ply leftovers I have, they’re taking up a lot of space, so much space. They are delicious, so I don’t want to destash them. I can also think of at least 2 very important people who would appreciate a blanket. So maybe I can swap out a jumper for a blanket in those months. That would seem sensible.

My goals are not much different from last year. I can’t wait to finish my WIPS so I can get that new project feeling in April.

As mentioned, I’m currently knitting Stephen West’s Enchanted Mesa, and it is just so fun. If these lockdowns continue I expect I’ll end up with a lot of Stephen West sweaters in my wardrobe this year, and I don’t even care.

Granny Raglan Pullover

Before the failure of the sweater that shall not be named… I finished crocheting and knitting and piecing together my Granny Raglan Pullover.

It has been a very long time since I’ve knit a garment in pieces. There’s a much higher level of trust needed to get through knitting something in pieces for me now. Thank goodness I finished this before the Birkin incident.

I was sceptical of this ‘Free’ pattern by Lion Brand. Combining knit and crochet in one design, all the while using scraps of yarn of slightly different gauges, surely I was asking for trouble! After knitting the front and back pieces, I went ahead and knit the first sleeve and blocked the pieces as I went. It kind of looked like it was going to fit together, so then I knit the second sleeve as well.

The pieces were crocheted together from the wrong side, that was awesome and quick. Then finally I knit the neckband, and it was done!

I’m very happy with the result. I would make another one in a heartbeat, you should make one too. It’s a super fun pattern; it’s like wearing a snuggly granny square blanket all day and who doesn’t want that?