Year of Projects 2022/23: Week Four

It’s just a quick spinning update from me. I haven’t managed as much spinning in terms of completed skeins this TdF but I have spun most days which has been a nice change and I’m super pleased to have finished up two long term spinning projects.

I finished up the 12 Days of Christmas Hilltop Cloud calendar first which had been on the wheel for six months. I’m happy with how this three ply came out and it looks like I have around 850m of yarn now that it’s washed. I’ll make a project post about this next week. I then spun up 50g of a Fellview Fibres merino/cashmere/silk blend as a lace weight yarn. I love this and want to find a shawl pattern for it when I finish the other 50g.

And finally there was the HTC mystery fibre which is part of a five skein fade pack. I’ve been at this one for at least three years so it’s nice to be finished with it. The final skein is not as consistent as the first four but I’m hoping I’ll get away with it. My plan is to cast on a So Faded (Ravelry link) which I swatched for all those years ago. With hindsight I would now like a cardigan rather than a sweater but since I have spun the fibre to make the sweater gauge I’m going to stick to that. I just need to decide whether to move dark to light or light to dark from the top down.

Finally the garden continues to deliver up some bits and pieces. We’re harvesting peas, potatoes, tomatoes, and courgettes now. I think I’m leaving the carrots and beets to grow a bit bigger. I might have made an error with how large sprouting broccoli can grow, it’s currently taking up a lot of room and crowding out some of my other plants. I’ve made second sowings of root veg and radicchio to try and keep some things going over into autumn and winter. I’m quite pleased with how things have gone this year and I think I’m slowing starting to learn what things work best. It’s great to have finally had some rain this week!

That’s it for me. Hopefully I’ll have something on the needles for next week.

Year of Projects 22/3: Week Three

This week has still been all about the Tour for me. I finished up the first half of my lace weight yarn . It ended up 48g and 380m so I’m on target for an 800m skein at the end of things. I think this will make a heavy weight lace in the end. I’m really pleased with how this has turned out. It’s slow going because I’m focusing on consistency, but that’s ok.

I made a start on the final braid of my sweater spin. I’m not loving this spin to be honest, and it’s entirely my fault. I’ve been working on this for so long that the fibre has compacted and it’s a tough spin. I’m not even 100% sure what the fibre is any more. It’s kind of getting spun any old how now and I’m hoping it will all work out in the end.

To offset that tough spin I made these from some Fellview Fibre rolag tails. Carol at FVF very kindly sent members of her Ravelry group 50g of leftover bits from the beautiful rolags she makes to see what we would make of them during the tour. This colourway is called Mother of Pearl and I was really pleased to get these. I used the blending board to make up some rolags. I’m getting better at these but they’re still a bit uneven.

So that’s it for this week. There have been lots of potatoes from the garden and a few peas and beans. It’s getting warm out there at the moment so I’m hoping it all survives the heatwave we’re having. I do appreciate my very cool house!

Year of Projects 22/23: Week Two

Well it’s been a busy week this week. Sadly not on the crafting front so much. Wednesday was super busy at work due to staff shortages so between that and watching things unfold in Parliament I didn’t get much spinning done that day. Thursday was my partner’s birthday (and still partly glued to what was going on in government) so we went and did brunch and had a mooch around the bookshops and delis. Friday/Saturday I tried to get in the garden where I could as things were starting to get out of control.

So I did manage to spin every day but I’m not as far through as I wanted to be. I’m about a quarter of my way through this merino/cashmere/silk blend. I’m hoping to be consistent enough for a 2-ply lace so I’m making more of an effort to spin a short forward draw. My default spin tends to be short backwards, which is quicker and easier but I now realise a lot less consistent. I’ll stick with 25g to a bobbin because I’m terrified of snapping the fibre and losing the end in the bobbin if I keep going!

The garden has been a bit overlooked due to the wet weather we’ve been having, this sudden change has been a good opportunity to get back out there. I harvested some more shallots and potatoes this week and turned some of these:

Into this:

It looks rock hard but it’s actually perfectly crispy 😂 Potato pizza is one of my greatest discoveries of lockdown.

There’s some good progress in the garden overall. I’m hoping the tomatoes will start to ripen in the next week or two. The courgettes are coming along nicely, and we’re harvesting a good crop of peas once a week. There isn’t any sign of the beans yet, and most of these were eaten earlier on in the year so I’ve only got a few surviving plants. The patty pan squash are looking healthy but not cropping yet and the rhubarb is out of control. I’m hoping to offload some of this on colleagues this week, either as fruit or a cake!

The nice thing about being in the garden is seeing a bit more wildlife including this cinnabar moth who was particularly striking:

I also have a family of slow worms living in my compost bin. I could really do with turning the heap but I really don’t want to disturb them.

That’s this week’s projects. I’m hoping to have finished the lace singles next week and to have worked on some of my other spinning projects. I’d really like to get the final skein in my sweater spin finished before the end of the tour!

Year of Projects 22/3: Week One

Despite the fact I spend more money on planners than any grown woman should, there comes a time when I have to admit I don’t really plan anything. Whether this results in freedom or chaos depends on who you ask. Either way what it means for YOP is that I certainly don’t have any specific plans beyond finishing up a WIP or two. After that we get into pretty vague territory and this suits me just fine.

12 Days of Christmas (and another six months). The light isn’t very good here at the moment and these lean a bit more blue than they appear here.

First up obviously is the Tour. I’ve just finished up plying the Hilltop Cloud 12 Days of Christmas Advent Calendar I started back in December. I really fell out of love with this project and as time dragged on I only hated it more. Mostly because I thought I’d made a terrible error in splitting up the fibre and spinning it as a combo spin. Having finally finished the singles and got on to the plying, however, I have to admit I actually really like how it’s turned out. I’ll post a full update in the next few weeks once I’ve got it washed and measured up.

I’m going with the higher twist yarn on the right. I think it will be just a bit crisper for stitch definition on a lace shawl.

July is pretty much devoted to all things spinning. I’m currently working on spinning a lace weight yarn from some merino/cashmere/silk I’ve had for a while now (I think this might be its third Tour). I’ve been playing with ratios and twist a bit and think I’ve finally found the settings I want for the yarn I want. I mixed up my ratios on the card but I’ve fixed that! It’s not particularly fast for lace, but I do have a fast treadle which compensates for that.

Once the Tour is out of the way I want to finish the Ogopogo socks that are still ongoing. I don’t ‘think’ I have any other WIPs, but I could have some I’ve forgotten about, it wouldn’t surprise me. Other knits for this side of 22/23 will probably be a shawl with the cashmere blend lace and I’d like to tackle a brioche scarf with some fingering I have in stash.

I’m hoping to dig out the loom this year as I didn’t do any weaving last year. My loom is far too large for the space available (and my ability) so it doesn’t see much use, sadly. I’m thinking of trying to sell it and downsize. I’m also hoping to explore an embroidery project maybe as something a bit different and start the needle felted rabbit I found under the bed and had forgotten I even had.

In fact there is quite a lot under the bed I’d forgotten about so maybe a stash inventory is in order. I don’t plan to add to stash outside of a couple of spinning projects I’m waiting to hear about, including an advent spin and probably Wonder Wool in 2023, but then does anyone ever plan to add to stash?

Finally the garden is doing really well. We’re harvesting bits here and there including potatoes (Ratte have turned out to be this year’s favourites), peas, shallots, cucumbers and beetroot. Squash and courgettes can’t be too far behind. I can’t believe how fast and large the produce in the polytunnel has grown. I am going to have to rethink plant spacing next year.

That’s it for this week’s update, I look forward to catching up with everyone else’s plans. Happy YOPing!

Tour de Fleece 2022

It’s that time of year again. I’m sure it rolls around quicker every year, a bit like Christmas. Maybe it’s my age…

Anyway I always look forward to the Tour as it usually comes at the point where my crafting mojo has got up and left so it’s good to get back in the saddle. I’m going to spend some time working on my spinning techniques. I say this every year and never do, but this year I really mean it. I’d like to work on neatening up my joins and thinking a bit more about what I want to be spinning. I like a default brainless spin but these are the spins that always end up in stash because I don’t know what to do with them.

Tour plans

So here are my plans for this year’s Tour. From L-R:

  • two braids from Velvet Sixpence that I picked up at Wonder Wool this year. I don’t really have much of a plan for these yet so I’ll see how things go
  • Some down breed fibres for a breed study
  • A Fellview Fibres merino/cashmere/silk blend I want to try and spin as a lace weight
  • The final braid in a Hilltop Cloud fade sweater spin. It’s been a little while since I spun the last one so I’m hoping I can keep the consistency.

So these are my bigger plans but I have some bits and pieces for playing around with too. For now I still have fibre on the wheel to finish off so I’ll get on with plying that and then see what to work on next.

Happy Tour everyone!

Year of Projects 2021/22: Week Fifty Two

So I lost my mojo and came to a screeching halt on my YOP journey some weeks ago. No real reason why I just don’t seem to have had the energy. I am however starting to make plans for the Tour and I’m really hoping that spinning for this will help get me back on track with my crafting. I’m taking the first day of the Tour off as leave to get a good start on things and although I don’t have much planned in terms of volume of spinning, I would like to take some time to improve various aspects of my spinning and try new things. There will definitely be an attempt as a lace weight yarn in there.

I will be taking my Ogopogo socks into YOP 22/23 but I can at least confirm that I did eventually rip back the neckline on my Boxy and redo it. I’m so much happier with it now.

The garden is doing really well. The new polytunnel has been a really good investment and I’m surprised at what a difference it has made to my efforts. Unfortunately it is hammering down here right now so there are no picture updates, but hopefully the weather will pick up soon.

Anyway hopefully I’ll get back to into the swing of things. I like starting a new YOP part way through the calendar year as it’s a good opportunity to take stock of things. Sometimes I think the only reason I work in education is so that I get two starts to the year every year. If I get one ‘wrong’ I can have another go in a few months!

Year of Projects 2021/22: Week Forty Six

Only a quick update for me. Very little progress on any knitting projects. I finished blocky Boxy and love the finish of the final fabric but need to sew in a few ends ( and decide on redoing the neck).

Speedwell

I’ve made small progress on my Ogopogo sock. I have two big spinning projects I want to finish before the Tour de Fleece starts so I think spinning will become a bit of a focus for the next few months. I used to spin for hours and just don’t seem to have the staying power I used to. I know I could finish them during the Tour, but for some reason I like a fresh wheel on Day 1.

Greater Stitchwort

There’s been lots happening in the garden so I might have a separate post on that soon. This weekend I’ve been potting on lots of veggies and filling endless bags with weeds. I’m using a garden journal for keeping a log of what I’m up to. As well as space for weekly activities it also has pages of prompts to help develop your gardening skills and knowledge. One of the tasks this week has been to go out for a walk and take some photos of local wildflowers, identify them, and sketch them. I think sketching is a bit beyond me but the photos here are some examples of what is currently in bloom in the hedgerows near me.

I ‘think’ this is Cuckoo Flower but not 100%

In final news I had my eye test this week and suddenly my struggles with knitting, and reading physical books became clear when my reading prescription jumped quite significantly. I’m hoping getting new (if horrifically expensive) glasses will see me making a bit more progress once I’m not struggling so much!

Happy crafting!

Year of Projects 2021/22: Week Forty Five

So I’ve been laid low with Covid for the last week and a half, hence no update last week. I’ll be honest I haven’t felt like doing much of anything so even though I had to have a few days off work all I managed was sleeping. Lots and lots of sleeping. So this week is a bit of a round up as to where I’m at.

I did mention finishing Boxy and I have finally blocked it today. I’m not the best at blocking things, and could clearly do with another set of blocking mats, but it’s good to get this ticked off. There are still some ends to weave in and a couple of bits to tidy. I’m not 100% happy with the way I picked up the stitches on the collar but I’ll wait and see how I feel about it when it’s finished.

I’ve also picked up my Ogopogo socks so one of those is now complete. I’m annoyed to have discovered the red vanilla socks I finished a couple of months ago have felted in the wash. I’m not really sure what happened there but I’m a bit gutted because a) massive man feet and b) they were such a lovely colour.

I’ve finally managed to get in the garden to get some things potted on. The first half of the polytunnel is all established, I’ve alternated root crops of carrot, beetroot, and parsnip with some taller cucumbers, tomatoes and chillis. I’ve have some peas and beans desperate to go in the ground but I need some 6ft canes as I ordered 2ft ones by mistake! I also harvested a decent crop of rhubarb today so I’m looking at things to do with that.

I need to get all of this lot sorted into place!
Hopefully the lettuce and spring onions will be harvested before the bigger plants crowd them out. I’m still experimenting with spacing.
Crumble or pie?

That’s it for this update. I hope to find time to post a bit more now that work is quieter and I’m back on my feet. The garden is now at the point where I need to keep on top of things so there will probably be a bit more of that to report on in the coming weeks.

Year of Projects: Week Forty Three

It’s been a while since I last updated my blog. Work has been crazy so stopping for the Easter weekend was very welcome. I tacked on a couple of extra days holiday onto the long weekend and my partner and I had a few days in Hay on Wye. For those who don’t know it, Hay is a book town so we basically spent three days trawling antiquarian book shops looking for interesting finds. I still managed to indulge my other hobbies of yarn and stationery however and picked up this lovely hand dyed yarn from a local dyer, The Bobbin Sisters who dye book-themed colourways, and a new fountain pen and inks.

This week also saw the return of Wonderwool. This is my local(ish) yarn festival which, due to Covid, hasn’t run since 2019. It was lovely to see so many people enjoying the day, as well as returning and new suppliers. It makes such a difference to meet the people behind the products; and the animals in several cases! I’m so pleased to see that the event survived the pandemic when it could so easily have been lost and I hope the others return just as strong. Other than the John Arbon I realised later that all of my purchases were from new to me producers which is really nice. I love the ease of online shopping, but it’s not always easy to discover new producers and I often end up going to the same few.

So on to purchases. I picked up this lovely fibre from Velvet Sixpence. Despite the fact that I reverted to my default merino/silk blend I like the fact that this dyer does use a lot of other bases that aren’t so common so I look forward to trawling her Etsy shop when she’s back.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was hoping to start making my way through 52 Weeks of Socks so I mostly went with an eye on sock yarns for making a start on that. First up is some John Arbon yarn.

Followed by Woollen Wytch and Ducky Darlings. The Ducky yarns are probably going to make their way into a shawl/scarf.

And finally for yarns some Mothy Squid (blue and green) which will definitely be socks, and Moonlight yarns which will probably be something shawly. I’m thinking of maybe tackling brioche for the first time but I’m not sure if that would suit something variegated or whether I’d be better with something more solid.

And finally, although I said the one think I definitely didn’t need/want was more raw fleece to sit in the cupboard making me feel guilty for being so lazy, I ignored myself and picked up this mohair sample pack. I love the idea of seeing how the fleece changes and it comes with this lovely information booklet. So when we get the next good weekend I’ll try and make a start on washing the samples.

In news of what I’ve actually done, as opposed to bought, I have finally finished my Boxy so I need to get that blocked and posted. I say finished, I’m waiting to see if blocking helps some of the shoulder stitches sit a little better but if not I might need to rip one shoulder back and redo it. Why oh why when I spot a problem as I’m going along do I not fix it then and instead of deciding ‘it will be ok’. It is never ok, it always annoys me later on and means I don’t enjoy or wear the final thing until it’s fixed – which can take years!

I have quite a lot going on in the garden too, so I’ll post an update on that later in the week. I hope everyone else is being more productive with their projects!

Year of Projects 2021/22: Week Forty

I can’t believe we’re this far through the year already, I’ve barely scratched the surface of yarn related projects! At least Boxy is coming to a close now. I’m just working on the sleeves and finishing up the neckline. I’m not sure what my next larger project will be. Maybe Hitofude which has been on my to knit pile for a while. I’ve started it a few times but the yarn never wanted to be that project. I now have some yarn that I think will be great for it, but I’m not sure it’s the right colour. Aargh!

I’m still slowly spinning my advent spin. I don’t think I’ve ever taken this long to spin anything, I’m not sure where my spinning mojo has gone. I need to get a move on as I want these bobbins clear for TdF which is shockingly on the horizon again.

I bought a new book, 52 Weeks of Socks (or seven and a half years of socks at my pace). There are some really nice patterns here and I kind of like the idea of taking choice out of things and just starting at the beginning. I might make a start on some sock presents using this.

Not much has happened in the garden this week as we’ve had a cold snap. I’m amazed at how warm the polytunnels stay even when there’s a frost, this means everything is still doing ok with the exception of the basil, which I might lose.

That’s it for me this week. Just a photo of my favourite ladies to end on. Despite a completely empty field they like to gather in the shady spot by the gate.