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?

My Birkin tale of woe

So many lessons can be learnt from attempting to knit Birkin, the infamous colour work sweater by Caitlin Hunter.

These things have come to my mind in the last day:

– If you’re going to fail, fail fast and hard and then move on

– Pattern reviews are super important, but not even as important as the shared experience of your knitting friends who have been knitting ahead of you. PAY ATTENTION to their advice. AND If you don’t remember what size you cast on, STOP and CHECK!

– Good colour choices are not the most important thing, they don’t make ill-fitted sweaters fit any better

– I’m not going to have the same issues as other knitters, disasters don’t happen to me. YES THEY DO! I’m quite capable of messing up, thank you very much

– I’m not knitting it again, nope

Without further ado, here’s the last photo you’ll see of my Birkin:

On the theme of failed yoke sweaters, here’s my new Cowl 🙂

Whilst I was tidying up some WIPs, I made the decision on this freeform yoke that I began in a class several years ago. It’s so important to get the shaping correct, right from the start.

Despite the Birkin setback, my Granny Square Crochet Sweater is finished and I love it. I need to take some photos when the weather is less sweaty. The WIP count is going down in time for February. Yippee.

Making Plans

If last year taught me anything, it was to not make any plans… at least not too far in advance and not too far from home.

My only plan that was not destroyed last year, was my notion to cast on 1 pair of socks and 1 new garment each month. It was glorious and it made me giddy.

I’m still weighing up my knitting plans for this new year (whilst trying to dispense with the left-over WIPs). I like making plans, it gives me something to look forward to, and don’t we need that right now? I’m not allowing myself to get excited about ‘Bendigo’ or travel or seeing family and friends at important events, because I just don’t want the disappointment. But I can… get excited about knitting.

In my planning, I know that this year, I’m going to need to focus on SOCKS for me…

These 6 pairs of socks have become threadbare and holey underneath the soles of my feet in 2020. I can’t be bothered mending them (they’ve been well-loved), there’s even a pair of Patonyle socks in there, sadness!

Last year I ended up knitting just 4 pairs of socks for me:

Not enough to replace the outgoing socks in my sock drawer!

The striped pair is the Richmond Knitters Christmas yarn from 2019, hand-dyed by our favourite dyer, Danni of Half-baked Hand dyed on Etsy. The pink and blue pair are Arne & Carlos Regia yarn, which I nicknamed my Corona socks, because I couldn’t get the pattern tension right on the second sock, see the aqua wave on the top sock? That’s how both socks should look.

I also used my own hand spun yarn to knit a further 2 pairs for me.

So I did some numbers… if I knit as many metres this year as I did last year, and if I knit nothing else, I could knit myself…

50 pairs of socks!!!!

Now, I’m not going to do that, but it’s fun thinking about it.

Here’s my sock box of potential for the year, with the finished Norfolk socks already finding it’s bragging place in the box for the next 11 months (I might wear them at Christmas)

There’s enough yarn in here for 18 pairs of socks. I love having this set out in my living room like this, I find it so inspiring. Even if they don’t all get turned into socks this year, they bring me joy to just ponder.

My ‘Hug Me Later’ coasters made an appearance on Arne & Carlos’ special podcast this week, I love those guys.