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 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!

Breed Study: Mohair #1

I’ve been wanting to get started on a breed study for a while now but, well, I can be kinda lazy and easily sidetracked. So since discovering a mohair sample pack this week in my frenzy of reorganising my stash, I thought I’d make the most of the good weather to make a start on it.

The pack is from Cwmstwrdy Fibre Farm and I picked up one of their explorer packs at Wonder Wool Wales earlier this year. The pack contains 100g of first shear kid; 150g of second shear, 250g of young adult; and 250g of adult fleece.

Photo showing four piles of raw mohair grouped as kid, kid second shearing, young adult, and adult.
Unwashed mohair fleece. Clockwise from top left: kid 1st shear, kid 2nd shear, adult, young adult
Photo showing four difference sized locks from shortest to longest
Lock length

I was immediately struck by how soft the first two samples were. Although Anogora are supposed to be quite greasy/waxy I didn’t think these samples seemed very greasy. Despite thinking they weren’t all that dirty, I was quite surprised at the amount of dirt that came out of the adult fleece in particular.

I’m not the best fleece processor. In fact a lot of my previous attempts have resulted in less than satisfactory results. I don’t think my cleaning or my scouring has been the best. Because these are samples it offered the perfect opportunity for trying washing on a small scale. I started with several cold washes using an eco washing up liquid because I didn’t have any scouring wash. I know detergents have mixed reviews in terms of how harsh they are and previously I have used wool wash, but since my previous results weren’t great I thought I’d try something else.

I’m always amazed when I read blogs/watch videos of other peoples crafting that they always seem to have the right tool for the job. And I don’t mean specifically purchased materials, but those bits and pieces they have to hand or picked up in a thrift store that are just perfect for the task at hand. This finally happened to me when I discovered two plastic containers missing lids and two unused plastic baskets in my recent sort out. For once they were perfect fit and they make excellent fleece washing tools! I don’t have to handle the fleece too much when I get it in and out of the bath.

My simple washing system for washing up to 250g of fleece at a time

So anyway, I started with the adult and the kid first shear and soaked them both in several changes of cold water until they were mostly clear. The kid was pretty clean to start with, but a lot of dirt came out of the adult fleece even though it didn’t look too bad. I then scoured the fleece in fairly hot water. I’ve seen suggestions of anywhere between 45°C and 70°C for scouring mohair. In the end I plumped for a mid-way point of around 55-60°C. After three or four changes of water, staying in for twenty minutes at a time to make sure any greasy deposits didn’t resettle, I lightly squeezed the fleece and laid them out on a towel to dry in the sun.

I don’t have a mesh frame for drying, but it was warm enough today that this worked well.

There are some small bits of vegetable matter, but they are the cleanest and non-greasiest fleeces I think I’ve ended up with so I’m pretty pleased with how they’ve turned out. The adult fleece is now almost as super soft as the kid. I’m hoping next weekend will be as sunny so that I can finish the other two samples.

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.

WIP Wednesday

I’m so slow with my crafting that I don’t often post a WIP Wednesday as I have rarely made enough progress between my YOP updates to merit one. However this week I’m trying out something new so here’s a quick look.

I’ve been meaning to take a look at embroidery for a while now and so when I came across these kits produced by The Crewel Work Company I had to give them a go. I’m only on the first stitch so far which is stem stitch. I had to have a few goes at the tree trunk and although it’s still not quite right I’m calling it good enough!

I’ll make a post about the kit once I’ve made a bit more progress but I have to say I’m finding it very easy to work with so far for a complete novice and I adore the historically focused patterns.

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 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!

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!