Year of Projects 2022/23: Week Eighteen

I don’t know where my mojo has gone but it has been missing for some time now. I can’t seem to find the motivation to cast on anything new since finishing up my Secrets and Storms shawl a few weeks ago. I think the (Ravelry link) There and Back Again Story Scarf will be a contender as I’ve been promising this one for a while.

Picture of crewel embroidery in round embroidery frame. Work shows two rabbits on a hill under some trees.
Slow progress, but progress!

In the meantime, since I can’t face any knitting, I’ve finally picked up my crewel project this week. I’ve done a couple of sections this week, finishing off the hills and the rabbits. I need a lot of practice but I’m really enjoying this and have started looking at my next project. I think I’ve learned quite a lot on this one, including remembering to check the instructions carefully… and regularly.

There is absolutely nothing going on in the garden now. I didn’t take appropriate care of my brassicas in the late summer/early autumn and so I have lost all those to caterpillars. There are still some root veg to use and some leeks but we’re pretty much at the end now.

That’s it I think for this week. I’ll try and make some progress on something in the next few days!

Year of Projects 2022/23: Week Fourteen

This week I have finally finished my Secrets and Storms shawl. It’s currently blocking and I’ll try and get a FO post up by the end of the week. I’m currently back to my orphaned sock projects and I’m also looking for a larger project. I’m trying to only use yarn I already have rather than be seduced by another project which needs another yarn. We’ll see how long that lasts!

The weather has been better this weekend so I managed to get in the garden today. I have managed to get my new strawberry plants in just in time. I think these will have time to settle before the autumn weather gets properly cold and frosty. I propagated these off runners from my existing plants. I’m please with how well the plants had already taken in their pots. The soil in this bed isn’t the bast, but for some reason the strawberries do really well here.

I’ve also managed to get my shallots in so that they have time to become established before the winter. After a bit of trial and error I’m sticking with Jermor this year. I found these dried and stored much better than whatever last year’s spring shallots were.

I’m slowly making my way around the garden putting things ‘to bed’ for the winter. I know it will make spring so much easier if I get this bit done before the rains get too bad. I think I’ve learned a lot in the garden this year and I’ll try and get my thoughts down in a blog post in the next week or two so that I don’t forget!

Finally this week I’ve been picking and pickling the last few bits of harvest. We now have pickled shallots, chillies, and now cucumber and shallot sandwich pickle. The pickling liquor is whatever vinegar I have to hand, plus some sugar, turmeric, and mustard seeds to taste. I’m not sure it will make it to Christmas which was the original plan.

Year of Projects 22/23: Week Thirteen

Well it’s been a few weeks since I last posted. I’ve been doing bits and pieces but nothing really of any note, and I’ve been quite busy with the house reorganisation. Things have been plodding along very slowly, so here’s a quick update to try and inspire me to get things finished.

Crafting:

I’m nearly finished with my shawl and just have some garter stitch rows of the contrast colour to add. I got a bit stuck with this when I had a phase of frogging and redoing the same eight rows over and over in some kind of horrific groundhog day! I’ll finish this up this week though and I do love the colours in the contrast yarn and how they work so well with the aster stitch.

I now washed, scoured, and dried all of my mohair. I just managed to catch the tail end of the warmers days here I think. I’m hoping to make a start on sampling different ways of spinning in the next few weeks.

Very little progress has been made on my embroidery or my socks, but hopefully they’ll see some attention in the next week or so once I’ve finished my shawl.

In the garden:

Things are slowing up now in the garden. I think we’ve finally picked the last of the tomatoes. I let the padron peppers grow much larger than usual as I was interested in seeing whether these would turn red. They have (and they’re quite hot!) we’re using some of these in cooking and we’ve also pickled a few for later in the year.

I need to start putting the garden to bed for winter in the next few weeks and clear it up a bit. My shallots have arrived and I need to get those into a new bed this year. I also need to do a bit on the strawberry and wildflower beds. Hopefully it will stay dry next weekend as it’s heading towards the last opportunity for getting some jobs done!

In the home:

You may remember I started looking at having our kitchen done back in February. Well this week the company we want to use got in touch to let us know they’re ready to move on to the next stage. We’re still no where near getting done but I think we’re nearer to actually getting on the list to be done eventually! It’s such a long wait to get any work done at the moment! Anyway I’ve lost valuable crafting and reading time this week to ‘what I wish I known before I had a new kitchen’ research. I’m many hours in and I’m not sure I’m any clearer about what I actually want!

So that’s my quick update for this week. There’s not much happening but I’m hoping there might be some finished items and progress on other projects this week.

Have a great week!

Year of Projects 22/3: Week Nine

It’s been a hectic few weeks here so I’ve missed an update and still have very little to show for it. I’ve made some progress on my embroidery and some on my shawl. Unfortunately my shawl has seen one of those weeks where I have knitted and frogged the same six rows over and over again. It’s not even difficult! I do seem to be back on track now.

In other vaguely related news (and why fun stuff has been delayed for the past few weeks) we have nearly completed the spare room project so we have a space where we can work if we’re WFH at the same time. We’ve been using the dining room up until now, but with energy prices increasing we’ve decided to move into the spare room as it’s a lot warmer! If we light the log burner when it’s chilly that will heat both the downstairs living room and the bedrooms so we can hold off on the central heating

As part of this we’ve had a larger reorganisation of the house so I’ve been rearranging my stash. I’ve managed to fit it all into just two places in the house now and my stash is now categorised as:

  • Current (one knitting and one spinning project bag with things I’m actively working on)
  • Intermediate (in fabric cases on the living room bookcases. These are my ‘next up’ projects)
  • Long term (for those yarns and fibres I loved when I bought them but I’m waiting to see what want to be. Also: stash diving.)
  • Deep store. Yarn I’ve fallen out of love with/picked up on a whim/thought I could overdue/repurpose. I should get rid of this really, but I can’t quite bring myself to throw it out.

So after all of that things are neat and organised for now. Also I found sooo many needles and notions I hadn’t even realised I’d lost, as well as lovely skeins I’d forgotten about, it’s like I’ve had a day of shopping for free! One of the things I’ve discovered is this mohair pack from earlier in the year so as it is nice out this weekend I’m going to see if I can get it washed and dried ready for use.

Year of Projects 2022/23: Week Seven

It’s been a scorcher of the week here, and we’re pretty cool compared to more inland regions. We’re not officially into hosepipe ban territory but we should be by the end of the week. I’m trying to only water the parts of the garden in most need at the moment, which is basically my tomatoes and courgettes. I’m still getting lots of tomatoes but the squash/courgettes haven’t been as prolific as in previous years.

I’ve been busy this week decluttering, rearranging, and decorating the spare room. It’s going to be a much more functional space now but it’s been hot work! We’ve basically had to have a reshuffle of every room in the house in order to get rid of the clutter in the spare room, but now we’ve got rid of the double bed we can put in a sofa bed and make the whole space much more useable for work (or crafting. Mostly crafting.)

All this means there hasn’t been a lot of progress this week but I have made some. I haven’t quite finished the aster stitch section of my shawl like I had planned, but I’ve made some progress. I love how the variegated yarn works up in this stitch.

I have also done a little more on the embroidery project I started earlier in the week. I’m really enjoying this and will definitely be doing more of these in the future.

These are probably going to be my projects for the rest of this month although I’m hoping to finish up a pair of socks too. Knitting feels like hot work at the moment! I hope you’ve all had a productive week of crafting.

Year of Projects 2022/23: Week Six

A slow week this week on the crafting side as I was away in Hay on Wye for a few days this week. We like to head here a few times a year for a slow (if expensive) few days of eating, drinking, and trawling bookshops. For as long as I can remember Hay Castle has been under renovation so it was lovely to see it finally completed.

Back home and I finished the first section on my shawl, I’m just about to start the aster stitch section.

The garden has been doing really well but things are starting to come to an end. I picked the last of the peas and cleared the pea and bean bed. I also finished the last lot of the early potatoes (somewhat past their best now) so it’s just the Pink Fir Apple left. I need to check on when these are ready to harvest.

The cucumbers are coming to an end but the tomatoes are going crazy. They haven’t been the tastiest salad tomato, but we’ve found they roast up really well. It feels a bit extravagant in the current energy crisis to have the oven on slow roasting for hours on end, but we’ve found popping in a couple of trays when we’re roasting something else works ok. We roast them at about 150° for forty minutes and then we drain the juice off, turn the oven off and leave them to finish in the heat. They come out semi dried and just a bit sweeter and tastier than when they’re fresh. They’re great for tossing though pasta and salads.

That’s it for the week. I have another week of holiday left so that will probably be spent decluttering the spare room and decorating it. I’m amazed at how much stuff we have cleared out this week, and I’ve not even had to make any tough calls about craft supplies yet! I’m a bit ashamed at my stationery fetish to be honest, I don’t think I will ever need to buy another notebook as long as I live. Or fountain pen ink.

Year of Projects 2022/23: Week Five

The Tour’s over so I’m finally back to knitting. My cable needle inexplicably disappeared for several days (it was exactly where it should be and where I’d looked several times…) so instead of carrying on with my Ogopogo socks I cast on a new project.

I picked up this yarn earlier in the year at Wonderwool to make the Secrets and Storms Shawl (Ravelry link). I’m still a bit undecided about whether to make the large or small version. With hindsight I think maybe a darker grey or another neutral would have worked a little better for me but I love the colouring in the variegated yarn.

Not much else on the crafting side of things for me. I did manage a good haul from the garden which meant I could almost (peppers and aubergines aside) make a full meal from homegrown produce. I made a tumbet which is a Mallorcan vegetable bake made by sautéing potatoes, courgettes, aubergines and peppers and layering them with a tomato sauce before baking. I was pretty pleased to be able to make a fresh tomato sauce out of my own tomatoes, garlic, and shallots! I should probably have taken a photo of the finished thing, but I’d already eaten it by the time I thought about it!

It’s pretty rainy here so there hasn’t been much else going on in the garden. I have a few weeks leave now so I have a quick trip to Hay on Wye (again) to trawl the many bookshops and then I’ve got some home and garden projects I want to catch up on depending on what happens with the weather. I hope you all enjoy your week!

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!