I finished a thing and finally got the opportunity to take a couple of photographs between the rain. This is my Fichu Bleu shawl. The pattern is nice and clear with simple blocks of stockinette and broken rib. Despite this I still went wrong and made my sections of stockinette too deep, which is a good lesson in reading the pattern through to the end rather than assuming I know what I’m doing.
It’s made from these beautiful Fellview Fibre gradient batts in merino. I spun these from the fold but the year it took me to spin them meant that my drafting technique was a bit free and easy to be honest. The singles were then chain plied.
In the end I don’t think my mix and match drafting technique mattered too much in the final finished object. It’s got some nice drape to it despite being a bit more substantial for cooler days. I love the colour changes but with hindsight I think they obscure the side panels of broken rib. I had no real idea what this yarn was going to be so this was a pattern picked knowing what yarn I had on hand and how much but I think it’s worked out well.
Now I just need to figure out how to wear a shawl.
It’s been a reasonably successful week this week. I finished my Fichu Bleu shawl for the Ravellenics. As it’s pretty miserable weather here this weekend I’ve not been able to get out in some decent light to take some photographs so I haven’t properly updated my Ravelry page or done a finished object post about it yet, but here it is on the blocking mats. I definitely need a second set of blocking mats for longer projects!
The shawl has taken up the majority of my time this week but I have made a start on one of my WIPs. This is Mothed which has been on my needles for a good couple of years. It’s another handspun project and there is quite a bit unevenness to the stitches in places as a result of the handspun but I’m quite enjoying the texture it’s giving the piece at the moment.
Not much progress on other projects although there has been some reasonable harvests from the garden. The courgettes and potatoes are still going strong and I need to find something to do with chard. I think we’re going to have a great chilli crop too. If only I could grow some flowers in the borders instead of the fine showing of weeds!
I love a ‘top’ list so as I’m starting to do a bit of craft sorting at the moment it seems like a great opportunity to go through some of my tools and share my particular favourites.
I suppose we should start with the main tools of the trade and talk needles. I’ve tried a few different kinds over the years. I started out with Pony needles and made my way through various kinds. I found the aluminium ones too slippy and the bamboo ones too grippy and I was always splitting the yarn with them. The plastic ones seemed like a good compromise but they just didn’t feel right, I think it was the lack of clicking! Then I tried the KnitPro Karbonz and I fell in love. The metal tips are sharp and slippy enough that they glide through yarn without splitting it but the carbon fibre shafts are grippy enough to prevent the stitches sliding off. They feel ‘warm’ and pleasing to knit with and I love the flexibility of interchangeable needles. The Box of Joy is just that!
Continuing the needle theme the only other needles I use regularly are these Addi CraSyTrio needles. I’ve tried various needles for socks and these are my favourite. Like the Karbonz these combine what I want from sock needles: they aren’t as fiddly as dpns and I don’t have to keep pulling the cable through and rearranging stitches like I do with circulars. The short cable keeps them flexible and not as slippery as metal dpns. I’m also less likely to lose one on the go (or down the sofa).
I’m a sucker for stitch markers and I have a range of stitch markers of various kinds: some nerd themed, others beaded, a smattering of Christmas themed ones, and even one of Elizabeth I’s ‘spymaster’ Sir Francis Walsingham. But these simple metal ring stitch markers are my favourites from a practical perspective. They’re completely smooth so they don’t snag, there are no fiddly bits to get in the way when I’m moving yarn back and forth when knitting and purling, and they have just enough of a pop of colour to keep them interesting. There’s also a bonus cute stitch marker in each tin. I have three or four of these but can usually only put my hands on a few at a time so hopefully I’ll track the others down during this sort out!
These blocking mats and pins from KnitIQ have revolutionised my finishing. I’m not the best finisher (sometimes literally, I’ve had stuff on the needles for years!) but these mats are excellent. The grids really help with shaping the garment, the pins slide in and out of the matting easily and the little case they come in makes tidying them away a breeze even for me. I no longer have to borrow Dylan’s rabbit flooring when I need to block things!
And last but not least is this two at a time sock project bag from QuincePie. I love the fact that the divider is a zippered pocket so that you can keep your bits and pieces separate from your yarns, something I find really helpful when knitting two at a time socks as I usually get all sorts tangled up in the yarn. The addition of a couple of clips for feeding the two separate yarns through keeps everything really tidy, and they come in a range of really cute fabrics. I don’t knit two at a time very often as I find it too fiddly but this really is a great bag
So that’s me and my top five, what would you recommend?
This week I’ve been starting to try and sort through some of my knitting related stash. It’s spread all over the house meaning that when I want a certain size needle/those gold beads/a crochet hook/my favourite stitch markers/ my plying spindle I have to search several locations to try and find what I’m looking for. I’m hoping to start finding a proper home for things over the coming weeks and get some of my stash into Ravelry. I have some long weekends coming up so I’m hoping to use that to start getting to grips with where to store things like beads and notions.
In the course of sorting I came across an old project from (I think) 2018. This is some of my handspun but I have no idea what the pattern was that I was using. I’m also not happy with how this was knitting up, I think it’s a bit too thin. I never like frogging a project but I don’t think this is ever going to see the light of day as a finished item. I’m not sure what this yarn is going to be, maybe a second yarn in a held double project?
In other news I’ve been making some good progress on my shawl for the Ravellenics. I’ve realised that I have gone wrong and my stockinette sections are deeper than they should be but I’m not too bothered about that. I have no idea if this will ever be something I’ll wear, but I really like this gradient.
It’s been a difficult week with all this heat. Despite the through draft created by having all of my windows and doors replaced this week it couldn’t cool things down enough to think much about knitting.
I did make progress on the Fyne vest. Aaaand then I made a mistake again. And then I had to unravel it again. I have knitted the same fifteen rows more times than I can count now and I’m rapidly falling out of love with it.I’m giving myself one last attempt to get it right and then I’m frogging it for good (or maybe setting it on fire and casting it into the abyss).
I did make some Ravellenics progress however. I cast on Fichu Bleu with the gradient I spun during the TdF. I’m never really sure if I’m a shawl person, some people make them look chic and effortless but I think I look like a badger wrapped in a blanket. Nevertheless I think it’s a nice simple pattern for watching the games and I think it works well with the chain ply.
So the Tour de Fleece comes to a close. I managed to complete my Witch Hazel gradient from Fellview Fibres. I really love the colours in this one and although there are some subtle differences in the spinning between the first part which I spun last year and this year’s two skeins, I don’t think it is enough to make much difference.
This year I’ve committed myself to keeping better notes on Ravelry about my projects so I’m pleased to say this is already logged and stashed. I can also say that the project worked out to be:
Wheel: Schacht Matchless
Angle of Twist: 40°
Grist: 1321 YPP
I’m not yet sure what I’m going to do with it so I’ll get to spend some time poking around Ravelry looking for ideas.
In other project news this week has seen some garden related productivity. I planted some shallots last autumn and harvested these a couple of weeks ago. Courtesy of my partner they’re now on their way to being our first pickles of the season. We have cider, red wine, and balsamic vinegars here – just waiting for some more red wine to top up the middle one. We’re hoping for a good crop of chillies for pickling later in the year.
It’s been slow progress this week with one thing and another. Work was hectic at the start of the week and then we had a couple of days in Hay on Wye. I love mooching bookstores and there are certainly plenty in Hay, the town of books. I was surprised at how utterly exhausted I was but I think it’s probably the most I’ve done in a single day since we went back into lockdown at the end of last year!
Anyway, being busy and away from my wheel means there isn’t a lot of progress to report this week but I have made some progress on my gradient spin. I have one more batt to spin and then some chain plying, I’m hoping to finish up that in the next day or so. My next project is this sweater spin:
I’m spinning this as a traditional 3 ply. Annoyingly I can’t remember what the base is so I’m hoping I come across the packaging soon. Keeping better records, either using Ravelry or a paper journal, is one of my goals for this year as I hardly ever remember to log them properly.
I’ve also spent some time digging around some of my WIPs:
Mothed 3/4 of body done and 3/4 of one sleeve. I think I’m going to have to start the sleeve again as I’m not too sure where I got to with the stitch decreases. This is a handspun project.
Le Facteur another handspun project that’s been on the needles for over three years. I will probably frog this.
Elizabeth Montagu socks as part of the Bluestockings knit along. I’ve fallen waaaay behind with this KAL
Fyne Vest I lost heart with this a bit when I kept having to rip it back but I’m determined to finish it!
A project on the loom that I haven’t looked at in a couple of years. It’s a straightforward wrap, nothing fancy but I hand dyed the yarn to go with a dress for a friend’s wedding. I had to go out and buy a cardigan instead!
To be fair there aren’t as many as I expected, but I’m not ruling out finding some more stashed in odd places. This week I want to push on with spinning and see what I can get done in the last few days of the TdF.
I stumbled across the Year of Projects group on Ravelry this week. The group set out their crafting plans and projects for the year and then blog about their progress each week. You can read more about the group here.
As you might have guessed, I like the camaraderie of this, not to mention the hint of accountability. I love planning things. I love planners. I love getting behind systems that this year will absolutely revolutionise my sloth-like tendencies and make me more productive. But I’m trying to get away from that at the moment so I’m not going to be planning anything in minute detail, I just want to spend the year working on things that interest me and sharing them with people who I hope will also find them interesting.
That said, I have some plans, obviously. I want to do some stash reduction (doesn’t everyone?) I have both fibre and yarn to use up and it might be good to get it in to Ravelry, so there’s a project right there.
I have some fleece I need to finish prepping. I’ve not been great with prepping my own fibre, it always seems to be a bit disappointing so this is definitively an area I’d like to explore. I also have some equipment I’ve not used very much like my loom and blending board. It would be good to get to grips with these.
I’d like to finish the sweater spin that I’m doing at the moment for this pattern, although I’m open to other gradient patterns. I ‘think’ I will get enough yardage out of the fibre but I’ll have to wait and see. I also have this double knit scarf on the list. I have done double knitting before but I admit I’ve struggled to get going with this in a lace weight yarn so that will be an ongoing labour of love I think.
Oh and WIPs. I want to take stock of WIPs and decide to finish them or frog them. I’m tired of their silent taunting from the various cupboards I’ve stashed them in. I’m also tired of them falling out of every cupboard I open!
But first up for me is to finish my TdF. I’ve made some decent progress on the gradient spin I’ve been working on. I hope to finish that this week and move on to my next project, probably the sweater spin I mentioned which I am 3/5ths of the way though. Here’s my tour spinning to date.
It’s been a year between the two skeins and I think I’ve spun the second skein a little more semi-worsted than the first so there is some variance. I’m not sure how this will play out in a project. Depending on length I’d planned a cowl or shawl so hopefully it won’t make too much difference.
So it’s Tour de Fleece time of year again. My job means that July and August are my somewhat quieter times of the year and so the Tour generally signifies the start of a slower pace of life and an opportunity to transfer some of the year’s pent up tension into some fibre.
Despite the calm the Tour ushers in, I always make a ridiculous amount of plans and line up way too many projects than I could ever hope to spin in the time available. ‘This year I’ll learn long draw/process a fleece from scratch/finally spin lace weight/complete a jumper’s worth just on a spindle…’, you get the idea. I just seem to try and make things complicated. And no, I don’t ever really get to any of that.
This past year I’ve started taking running a bit more seriously. I’ve come to appreciate the need for goals. I understand why just going out there and doing what feels good (or least bad) won’t help me break any records or go any further. I need structure and I need challenges. More importantly however, I’ve learned that improvement comes with rest days and slower days as much as it does with hill drills and sprints. And I’ve come to enjoy these days instead of thinking I should be doing more/faster/further. I’m thinking there is possibly something to take from this into my spinning.
So this TdF there are no big plans for me. There is no photo of the several kilos of fibre I want to get through; there are no hoops to jump through; there isn’t even a stack of books on my bedside table. What there is this year is the equivalent of that weekend longer run. I’m going to oil up my wheel, pick the next fibre project to hand, and just enjoy my time at the wheel and with the spinning community. I think the running and the fibre craft community are two of the most supportive corners of the Internet so here’s a shout out to you both and thanks for everything.
Oh, and since we’re here, this is my progress to date after Day One.
Welcome to my first WIP Wednesday. I feel I am actually justified in classing this a work in progress as it is actually progressing, albeit slowly, rather than being a ‘work stuffed in a bag/cupboard/drawer’. There’s plenty of time for those to make an appearance in the not too distant future.
As I said, I haven’t done much knitting lately. I think extended lockdowns have affected my attention span and I just want my non-work time to just wash over me without any effort on my part. I’m trying to get back to it (and reading which has also fallen by the wayside). This is the project that is currently on my needles. It’s Marie Wallin’s Fyne Vest.
The yarn for this is a DK yarn from Rowan. DK is a weight I almost never use, but I found this yarn on sale in Booth’s Bookshop in Hay on Wye and came away with armfuls of it thinking I’d find a pattern eventually (let’s quickly gloss over going to the book capital of the UK and coming away with more yarn stash). It’s a wool/alpaca blend and I really love these colours and how they work together.
Progress so far is a bit slow and fiddly and I’ve resolved never to knit stranded work in the flat (is that an expression?) ever again. I note that a lot of others on Ravelry adapted the pattern for knitting in the round but I’m not sure I’m good enough to go off pattern so here I am. Fiddly aside, the pattern is nice and clear so far and it’s not taking too long once I actually get down to it. How’s everyone else getting on with their works in progress?