Year of Projects Week Seventeen

Image shows five knitted socks in various stages of completeness.
Socks!

What’s the collective noun for unfinished socks? I’m thinking it should be an ‘embarrassment’. Here’s my embarrassment of socks. I just can’t stop starting socks! I was on the home straight with my plain sock until I realised I had messed up the heel turn and I had to rip it all back. I’m hoping to finish it up this week. I’m committing myself right now to completing the rest before the new year. Maybe. I mean, have you seen the size of that one for my partner amongst all my size fours? It looks like a clown sock!

Other than knitting I have been trying to get some things straight in the garden. Dry days are very few and far between here at the moment but I did manage to clear a vegetable bed yesterday and get my autumn shallots planted. I have another set to go in but I might be waiting a while for another dry day. I also harvested the last of the veggies which included a reasonable haul of courgettes, some peppers, and one single, tiny aubergine! I was super excited at that as I didn’t expect to get anything at all from the plant given the weather.

That’s it for me. I’m hoping to find time for a bit more crafting activity over the next few weeks as I think (hope) I’m through the worst of my busy period at work.

Year of Projects Week Sixteen

I’m having a bit of a sock thing right now and I currently have three pairs on the go. I love how this sock fits so much that I’m casting on another for my partner (since he’s going to be waiting a very long time for the Ogopogo ones). They’re perfect TV knitting. I think I’ll change the heel in the next one and maybe go with Eye of Partridge as I prefer that to the rib. It’s nice to be knitting small socks!

There’s been a new yarn purchase for said socks. I love the colour and feel of this Malabrigo yarn.

There was one other purchase this week which was a Hilltop Cloud 12 Days of Christmas fibre calendar so that’s my festive spinning sorted. Other than these I’m hoping to see the year out making my way through some stash yarn. Probably.

That’s it for this week. I’m hoping work will get a bit less frantic soon as it does tend to get in the way of crafting!

Year of Projects 2021/22 Week Fifteen

This week I’ve been enjoying an easy knit. I’m so impressed with how quickly these can knit up. I haven’t managed to find a lot of opportunities to knit this week but I’ve still managed to mostly complete one sock. Knitting for small feet is definitely much more fun! Most small sock patterns I’ve knitted have tended to be 64 stitches but I’ve found that these, at 58, are a much better fit.

I’m been feeling a bit guilty for leaving my Librarian’s Socks untouched this week but I just didn’t have the concentration. As consolation I have ordered some red sock yarn so that I can cast on simple socks for my partner while he’s waiting. He’ll probably get these before I finish the others!

It finally stopped pouring down this week so we managed to get in our logs for the winter. My autumn shallots have arrived so if it stays dry over the next week I’m going to try and sort out my vegetable beds to get those in. I’m also starting to look forward to planning next year in the garden. Once again I’m not sure if I’ve ordered one lot of seed potatoes or two but I’m sure I’ll plant (and eat) however many turn up.

Year of Projects 2021/22 Week Fourteen

It’s pretty much just socks for me this week. I’ve made progress on my Ogopogo socks for my partner or as I’m calling them Librarian Sock for Librarian’s Socks as they use Third Vault Yarns Librarian Sock blend. Given my partner’s profession it seemed an apt yarn. I’m starting to wonder why I knit socks for people with big feet. I have size four feet and I have decided I’m not knitting socks for anyone with feet bigger than mine again! Well that’s probably not true, but I’d be almost to the cuff by now if I was knitting them for me.

Size eleven socks don’t quite work on a size four sock blocker

I’ve struggled a bit this week as the heel turn seemed unusual to me and I couldn’t make sense of it. Once I stopped trying to make sense of it and just did it, it all worked out fine. I need to remember heels are mostly magic and no good comes of trying to understand why they work, just accept they will and all will be well.

I really like the pattern but they do take a bit more concentration than I really want on some evenings at the moment so I’ve also cast on a pair of simple vanilla socks for me (so short, yay!) for more mindless knitting when I’m a bit frazzled. This is most evenings right now.

I’m struggling with both reading physical books and knitting at the moment (not at the same time, I’ve always struggled with that!) I’m now at an age where my eyes don’t want to do close work without a lot of effort and I don’t think the light in my living room helps. It’s cosy and ready for winter, but I need something brighter for the darker evenings (and the darker days given that it hasn’t stopped raining here all week) so I think that’s going to be my task for this week. Oh and finding some bright red sock yarn as I’ve been asked for a pair of red socks and this is just about the only colour I don’t have in stash.

Year of Projects 2021/22: Week Eleven

Some steady progress this week but nothing much to show for it. I’ve been working away a few rows at a time on my Ogopogo sock (I find cables on socks very fiddly and I really can’t get the hang of cabling without a cable needle). I’ve also finished spinning the second set of singles for the fourth skein in my five skein 3-ply sweater spin (did you manage to follow that?). This will be the largest project I have ever spun for and I ‘think’ I’m keeping things pretty consistent.

Of course I only ‘think’ I’m being consistent because I’ve not actually kept notes. Not properly. Not helpful notes. I found the notes I did write down, for example I wrote down that I was spinning it on my largest ratio, but this is not helpful when I have subsequently bought new whorls with larger ratios. Which was my largest ratio when I started? When did I start? It tells me I’m spinning from the fold. This is good, this is great in fact, but it also tells me I’m spinning it ‘LBD’. What does this mean? I don’t think it means anything except Little Black Dress and I know I’ve not been spinning in one of those. The best I can come up with is it meant long backwards draft, which isn’t even a thing, so I don’t know if I meant long draw or short backwards draft. Anyhow the upshot of all of this (and the fact it’s one of my pieces of homework for my spinning class), is that I have to think about a system for managing my spinning notes and samples.

Essentially this combines all of my yarn hobbies with my inner stationery nerd. Add in a smattering of basic preservation knowledge (because although I reckon I’ve got about forty more years left in me at best, my project notes must survive for a thousand years) and there’s a good chance I’ll never make anything again as I’ll still be perfecting my project note system!

Ring binders seem the obvious choice. They’re flexible, can take extensive notes as well as small sample skeins/fibres, they can combine paper, card, wallets etc. I think I’ll end up going forward with this although I’m not a big fan of binders. I find them too large for sitting on the sofa leafing through my projects with a cup of tea and a piece of cake.

A card index system could work, and I have an old library card catalogue unit for this (it’s currently used for my spindle and pocket notebook storage). Or maybe these and a storage box for them for portability? I have a feeling though that I’d lose lose cards and they’d never end up back where they should be.

I’ve used Happy Planner in the past for my planning, and something based on their disc binder system could work and would function a little like a binder. Or maybe scrapbooking or photo albums with stiffer pages could work where I could punch the paper and tie my sample yarn in, paste in any notes and then cross reference with samples skeins kept in another box?

I’ve still got a lot of thinking to do on this but I’d love to hear about how you store your crafting notes.

Finished Object: From Fluff to Stuff

Two weeks after finishing it I’m finally getting around to posting my Mothed FO. I struggled to get gauge with this so I knitted the large hoping for a medium(ish) (why yes, I am terrible with gauge and just hope for the best). Then lockdown happened and I wished I’d knitted the next size up 😂. Still I’m nearly back down to my pre-lockdown weight so hopefully I’ll get some autumn wear out of this. I want it to hang loosely and it fits a little too well at the moment.

The yarn is a Fellview Fibre spin from a few years ago in the colourway Jet Powered, which I think was a merino/silk blend. The yarn was a traditional 3-ply with the rolags as one ply, and then one ply of a camel/silk blend and one of yak/silk.

I was pretty happy with this spin at the time, but finishing up this project a couple of things strike me. The first is that my spinning has really improved over the last few years. I’m still far from perfect, but I spin much more consistently now and my yarns are softer. The second is that Yak is not a fibre for me. I’ve tried it a couple of times and it always seems to come out a little over plied. Still it’s made for a jumper with a nice lightness and drape to it that I think will make good autumn/spring wear.

Despite the two years it sat in a cupboard (a lot less than I thought) this is actually a pretty quick and easy knit and I think I’d use it as a template for another jumper in the future, probably with a slightly thicker yarn or one with less drape and more ‘spring’.

Year of Projects 2021/2 Week Nine

Only a very quick update from me today. I’ve finished my Mothed jumper this week and it’s currently being blocked. I’ll write a proper post about it later in the week but here it is.

I’ve made little progress on anything else this week as I have shingles and haven’t felt like doing much of anything. There has been some progress on the socks but not much. I’ve also finished watching the School of SweetGeorgia class on blending boards and I’ve dug out a Hilltop Cloud mixed bag of merino and silk to start having a go. It will be good to finally get the board out from under the bed where it’s sat for the last year!

Year of Projects 2021/22 Week Eight

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks so I didn’t get around to posting last week. I’ve been making some steady progress on my Mothed jumper and I’m now onto the final couple of inches on the body. I went with 3/4 sleeves, partly because that’s what I like but also I’m a bit worried about having enough yarn to finish the body! I’m keeping this as my TV knit this week.

Image shows jumper knitted top down with three quarter sleeves and an incomplete body.
Mothed

Despite having some WIPs still to finish up I cast on a new project this weekend because I found the yarn and had to use it. This is Third Vault Yarns in Deep Space on the Librarian Sock base. I love this colourway and it’s knitting up great with the Ogopogo sock pattern.

I also decided to try out the School of SweetGeorgia fibre craft school with two weeks access for $1 at the moment. I enjoyed Felicia Lo’s Craftsy classes on dyeing several years ago and her SweetGeorgia platform has dyeing classes as well as knitting, weaving, spinning, and more. I’ve dipped in and out of a couple of classes and watched most of the one on blending boards as that’s my next project I think. There are opportunities to attend live sessions online although I’ve not looked into how that will work out with the time difference. I can imagine I’ll dip in and out of this with a monthly subscription here and there but I don’t know whether it would be worth a subscription for a whole year.

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Finished Object: From Fluff to Stuff

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.

Tools of the Trade: My Top Five Knitting Tools

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!

Image shows box of eight pairs of interchangable needles
KnitPro Karbonz Box of Joy

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).

Image shows Addi cabled double pointed needles for sock knitting. Image also show sock in progress.
Addi CraSyTrio needles

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!

Image shows two tins of scattered metal ring stitch markers
Stitch Markers

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!

Image shows two interlocking knitting blocking mats with grid pattern on front and storage case
KnitIQ blocking mats

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

Image shows a drawstring bag with green lining. The bag is divided by a zippered pouch and has two clips to each side to keep yarn separate
Two at a time sock project bag

So that’s me and my top five, what would you recommend?