Friday, 18 December 2015

Instagram Get Your Yarn Wishes Granted

Whilst my social media presence has declined to practically none existent over the last few years (I really should attempt a blog post of mental illness) I find that Instagram is by far the easiest to keep up with.   My feed is generally knitting and yarn related and it's much easier to snap a photo of a new skein of yarn or a WIP with my iPhone than worry about posting yet another miserable Facebook status.   

The Instagram #getyouryarnwishes hash tag was endearing to watch last year as knitters granted wishes of skeins, patterns or notions to, quite often, complete strangers.  This year I decided I'd participate and sent out several skeins, needles and Ravelry patterns from Wish Lists.  It was completely heart warming and uplifting - one of those truly warm, fuzzy moments!  As well as granting wishes I was also extremely lucky as I had several wishes granted myself.  

First up I received this fabulous speckled skein of sock yarn "Monsters Ball"  from the lovely Tracy at Norah George.  It's beautifully soft and I'm already browsing for the perfect project as well as lusting over lots of her yarn!

Secondly was my request for grey fingering/sock weight yarn - I realised whilst stash diving for yarn for a hat that I really don't have much grey in my stash despite it being a colour I am really drawn to at the moment, especially for accessories.  I most certainly didn't expect to receive such a luscious skein of DyeForYarn Merino/Silk in a perfect shade "Dolphin in my Bath Tub"

Next up (yes, I am a lucky, lucky girl!) is a skein that flew insanely quickly over from Canada!  I sadly miss out on many none UK indie dyers as I get charged customs on all parcels (the joy of once running a WAHM business that imported goods from the US!) so I was extra excited to get a skein of stunning Satchel from Mrs Crosby in Scarlet Ibis.

Last but by no means least, I was gifted the skein of custom self striping I had on order with British Bea Knits.  Even more perfect that it's called Nyree Dawn hehe!  Sparkle Sock in a self striping black - hot pink - black - lime green!  What's not to completely LOVE!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Procrastination and Castonitis!

The last couple of months have flown by in such a blur of noise and...well noise!  Despite not actually doing much of note I also don't seem to have achieved much and I think this year has very much been my year of procrastination! 

Procrastination and castonitis - I just can't help myself - I have SO many planned projects and SO much gorgeous yarn that I keep casting on new things :-/

As it's definitely become hat weather again, I whipped up a new beanie for Vaughan.  I've had this VERY bright SMC Merino in the stash just for him (with some equally colourful orange for Oliver) and at his request added some black stripes.

I have a matching pair of fingerless gloves on the needles for him too - the first just needs the thumb reworking (too small) and then I need to remember what I've knitted to make the second! 

In a moment of weakness I cast on the Aisling Shawl I'd planned in a gorgeous Truly Hooked OMFG Sparkle Blank and a skein of Five Moons Artemis 4Ply in Anthra.  I haven't got far but it's a fabulous combination.

I was lucky enough to test knit a gorgeous design hat last month which was promptly stolen by Rachael - currently no further news on the release but it's a fabulous cable pattern knit in Baby Alpaca DK.

Last month also marked another MKAL hosted by the fabulous Woolly Wormhead.  This time the pattern was revealed as Skelter and it was a hugely enjoyable, quick knit.  I chose a skein of Malabrigo Worsted in the Frank Ochre colourway and was really pleased that I didn't lose too much stitch definition using a singles yarn.

I've already cast on another Woolly Wormhead hat - this time the newly released and insanely gorgeous Rosalind which I'm making with Wollmeise Pure in Wasabi.

Other than hats I have knitted a couple more of the doomed Raspberry mitts!  Considering they were originally planned for the Fun Club (Home Ed group) sale last November and I still have 3 of the 10 gloves to knit...gloves which only take me a day each...I think we can safely say it's a project I'm putting off!  Rather like the huge green blanket which sits at the side of the sofa by my WIP basket, mocking me LOL! 

Of course, I have even more new projects planned - namely The Doodler by the awesome Stephen West!  All the WIP and FO pictures have changed my opinion on speckle/sprinkle dyed yarns and I have increasingly found myself drooling over skeins I would never have considered before.  I have a couple of skeins of neon Madelinetosh which I'm debating teaming with either a solid black or a speckle skein with lots of black and neon...I just haven't found the perfect skein yet but I definitely need no encouragement when it comes to spending far too much time window shopping for yarn instead of knitting. 

On that note...I'm off back to my needles!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

An Update Post

Since I'm being forced to sit through the Merseyside Derby with the Husbeast I figured I'd do some virtual housekeeping and update my WIP's and the like since things are getting more settled here.

We finally handed back the keys to our old house a few weeks ago.  The move was hard work - not least because we did it all ourselves, slowly ferrying things over to the new house, filling the garage then taking everything upstairs.  As we have a Ford Galaxy it was quite easy to fit *most* things in with all the seats removed.  We did hire a man with a van company for our few really large things which was a complete farce but at least we got everything here in one piece.  Unfortunately we then found out that we couldn't fit our super king size divan upstairs so we have been sleeping on just the  mattress on the floor for a month - which Oliver (who still co-sleeps) found wonderful - me and Lee, not so much! 

It's most definitely a very different property to what we're used to!  We've been living detached with large gardens for the last 8+ years so moving to a three story town house in the city centre is VERY strange!  It's remarkably quiet though (no idea if our neighbours feel that way any more hehe) and we've fitted most of our essential things in (although I much preferred it when it was minimalist).  Thankfully we have been able to use a fabulous friends garage to store the rest as we no longer have the luxury of quite so much space and several out buildings we used to - I do very much miss the summer house although the garden here is very lovely and usable.

In amongst the stress of moving, Oliver decided to stop breastfeeding last month, totally out of the blue.  It's meant a bit of an emotional, hormonal rollercoaster for me.  In fact, I have been pregnant and/or breastfeeding since finding out I was pregnant with Harrison in April 2004, a week before our wedding, so it feels very strange to be at the end of the stage of my life (as well as no longer babywearing or cloth nappying or all of the other things that used to define me!)

I still have my knitting though and I've even managed to finish a couple of things lately!  Excuse the iPhone only photos though as I have yet to dig out the DSLR.

First off are my elbow length fingerless gloves made with the gorgeous Fab Funky Fibres self striping yarn.  These were slower than usual as I was concocting the pattern as I went and then had to replicate it for the second glove from my half-arsed notes!

Not only are they very gorgeous, they only used 60g of the 108g skein I had so there should be enough for a shorter pair of gloves (or another long pair with solid coloured ribbing/thumbs). 

As the weather is on the turn with a definite autumnal nip in the air I decided to cast on a hat as a quick WIP. I have had a gorgeous skein of Babylonglegs Stellar DK in Wasabi (lime green, merino, silk, sparkle - what's not to love!) stashed for a Woolly Wormhead Castiel for ages and it seemed the perfect time to cast on.  

Otherwise, I am still working on my Avalanche sweater, which is slowly growing and gazing adoringly at my bag of new yarn from Yarndale which is all whispering at me to cast on more yumminess!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Yarndale 2015

After a rather knackering month of moving, this weekend was a very much needed break!  I'd booked on a coach trip to Yarndale with the fabulous Knit Nottingham and as it meant a very early start - single digits in the time and everything -  myself and Carla decided to make a weekend of it and stayed over in Nottingham the night before.  It's the first time I've been away since having Oliver (in fact it's only the second time I've been away since having kids other than when I was in hospital!) so it felt rather liberating!  After a cheeky Nando's where we were a good decade older than everyone else and an early night, we were out at 7 am to get breakfast (Starbucks for me and the beginning of my excess coffee consumption for the day) and catch the coach up to Yorkshire. 

A few hours later and we arrived.  It was all extremely exciting and I took a grand total of one photo!

The atmosphere was amazing and the five hours we were there were a whirlwind of fabulous people, yarn and fibre.  It was fantastic to meet the faces behind some of the brands and shops I have been using for years and to discover new dyers and yarns.  We bumped into a few old friends as well and it was just a fabulous experience all round!

Whilst I have no photos from the day I do have lots of my haul (albeit very badly lit as it's considerably overcast here at the moment!)  I went with only one specific skein in mind  - a dark grey sparkle sock - but came home with quite a few more.

Of course, I picked up the obligatory bag and pin but think I was quite restrained considered  I came home with half of my money still!

I wanted to pick up some fibre as I have none whatsoever in my stash at the moment.  There's 200g of the gorgeous Blue Spruce Merino/Zwartbles from the lovely John Arbon Textiles as well as 200g of Grass Green Merino (which perfectly matched my dress!), 100g of natural grey merino from Adelaide Walker and a gorgeous "Aspen Glade" Gradient Pack from Hilltop Cloud.

My yarn haul was considerably less restrained!

The gorgeous sock blank was actually a prize won at the Knit Nottingham 5th Birthday Bash dyed by the talented Truly Hooked.

Next on the bottom are two bloody AMAZING skeins from WooSheeps - I can see a huge amount of my yarn funds winging their way in the future!  The left is "Tom" in "Tequila" which is a huge 150g/600m skein of sparkle sock and the right is "Barry" in "Bubblegum" which again is a huge 150g/600m skein of SW Merino.  they just look sooooo good together!

I picked up a skein of Deeply Wicked from the ever lovely Jon at EasyKnits - "Pinky" matches my hair perfectly so it had to be done!  (Although I could not get an accurate colour representation photo at all!)  I adore solid coloured skeins so could easily have blown the budget!

Last but by no means least are a skein of Artemis 4Ply in "Anthra" from Five Moons - this was my must have skein of grey sparkle sock!  Again, I could have spent all day choosing solid coloured skeins especially the smaller 50g skeins (next year maybe hehe)

And my last purchase of the day was a "Stormy Rainbow" Sparkle Sock from Cuddlebums.

I seem to have a "thing" for sparkle sock, grey, pink and green!  If yarn storage wasn't such an issue at the moment (as in too much yarn rather than not enough storage) I would have indulged much more!  There are a few stalls I wish I'd gone back to - I really wanted some Eden Cottage Yarns and I also wanted some self striping sock but didn't find the perfect colour anywhere!  I have to say that after 5 hours I was really ready to go though - I'd had 7 shots of espresso to keep me going but I was very much exhausted!

 Yarndale 2016 is already scribbled in my diary!

Monday, 17 August 2015

A FO, a WIP and some WM!

All the initials!  In amongst the naffness of the housing and adult-type-stuff I have actually managed to do some knitting!  My mojo often gets up and leaves when I'm feeling low but I'm too stubborn to ditch my knitting at the moment as I have far too many projects planned.

First to update is a FO.  Yay!  I finally finished my Biellese Shawl a few weeks ago which, bar the forever hibernating blanket, is the WIP I've had on the go the longest.  Thankfully, being a bottom up shawl, the rows got increasingly shorter as I went on and the end result is really gorgeous - using such high contrast colours really makes the slip stitch details pop.  The lovely yarn is by West Yorkshire Spinners and is the fabulously soft and bright Bubblegum and Sour Apple from the Signature 4 Ply range.

I'm still working away on my Avalanche sweater (although with the house move and procrastination, I doubt very much it will be ready for Yarndale!) but decided a quick WIP was required, so I dug some amazing FabFunkyFibres self striping yarn out of the stash which I'd purchased with the intention of a pair of long fingerless gloves.

With this project in mind I invested in a new pair of 9" Hiya Hiya Sharp Circular needles - they are definitely up there with one of my favourite needles and I loved the prospect of not having to magic loop or use DPN's!  They do take some getting used to with regard to where you hold them and ensuring your tension is even but they really do facilitate speedy knitting of socks and gloves.

The pattern is loosely based on Gothy Gauntlets and I shall endeavour to decipher my scribbles so that I can write it up (and knit the second glove). The first glove used just 30g so I have enough left over to knit a shorter pair as well - possibly with a solid coloured cuff/thumb.

Finally, I have broken my Pre-Yarndale Yarn Diet by investing in another couple of skeins of Wollmeise Lace this month.  I've been on the look out for Fruhling in Lace for a while as it's one of my favourite WM colourways.  This WD Lace skein doesn't dissapoint and is almost a neon hi lighter shade!

I also picked up a bargain skein of Lace in Moses - whilst blue is not a colour I tend to use very often but is still very gorgeous in an understated way!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Exciting news

The last few weeks have been fraught to say the least!  After the rather unfortunate house sale news we received a further blow when, after exhausting the possibility of private renting again, we discovered that there was a significant delay on processing applications for local social housing.  Totally unconcerned with our situation we were referred to the local homeless team who advised us to stay in our current house!  Their advise was to quite literally ignore the notice we had been given and hope that by the time our landlord has applied to the court to evict us formally (costs of which we would be liable for as well as losing our deposit here and the likelihood of private renting ever again) they may have started on our application.  Failing that, wait to be evicted from the property and then they could house us in emergency accommodation.

Shocked was an understatement!

A couple of very tearful days later I happened to find a property that had just been listed to let.  It looked like a possibility for us and the following evening we went to view it.

It was stunning!  Very unlike any house I'd ever foresee us living in, in that it's a new build three storey town house in the city (although only 15 minutes drive from here).  All very professional - the house and the area - styled, modern and VERY not me...I'd rather live in a dilapidated cottage in the middle of nowhere with not a cream carpet in sight!  But it's spacious (and expensive!) and at 9am the following morning we paid our application fees and spent several days with EVERYTHING crossed.

We get the keys in four days!

I'm still somewhat in a state of shock if I'm honest.  After things literally falling apart to be moving to a stunning house in the space of a few days.  We now have just under a month to move everything and sort everything here before giving back the keys (ironically on Rach's 9th birthday)  I'm hoping that this is the start of things looking up for us after the most horrendous three years.  The new place will take some getting used to - if nothing else we have four VERY loud unschooled children who have only ever lived in detached houses!  The boys will now be sharing a room as we're downsizing from four to three bedrooms as well as losing our current sprawling mature garden to a very small one (but still far better than the alternative)  I'm not overly familiar with Derby so will need to explore a bit (with the ever constant worry that my crippling agoraphobia will return - something I am determined to continue to fight)

So after this weekend it will be all systems go to sort and de-clutter and start packing!  I have an entire garage full of children's clothes and craft stuff that I need to be ruthless with.  I'm also determined to get back to looking after myself as I have been really naff at that for the last few months and my weight and health have taken a nose dive with my mental health (well, the weight has gone the other way...luckily my new diet will be called "paying the rent" hehe)  Fingers crossed things all go well!

Not to neglect my knitting waffle, I'll pop another post on with some knitting updates (and a FO!) tomorrow.  

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Relocation, relocation

My current blog (and online presence in general) quietness is due to the unfortunate news that the house we rent in has been sold.  It's been on the market for some time and was, I guess, inevitable but couldn't have happened at a worse time. 

The reality for us being that in two months we will be homeless.   It sounds melodramatic and obviously there is always the last resort of applying for emergency accommodation with the local authority but at the moment it's a real possibility.   Not a situation I thought we would ever be in (although given everything that has changed over the last couple of years I could say that about most of our life at the moment!)

I have been attempting to remain optimistic that *something* will come up but it's looking less and less likely with every house we get turned down for and I honestly have no idea what our future holds.  I keep thinking that we must be due some good luck...or just something.  Some ounce of happiness or a light at the end of the tunnel.

For now we are clinging desperately to the fact that we are a family that love each other and nothing will change that.  It's our one constant.


Monday, 22 June 2015

Rainy Days

The weather here is distinctly un-summery at the moment.  It's currently cold, grey and drizzly and not remotely conducive to dragging myself out of the low mood I've found I've fallen back into.

After not doing any crafting at all for a good week or so I have unearthed my mojo thankfully.  Hmm so what have I been up to?

Since my fibre stash is rather low I decided to get my loom out.  I'd been playing with the idea of using an Easyknits Sushi Roll for the warp and something in a complimentary turquoise for the weft. 

I actually tried three different yarns for the weft but aren't 100% happy with any of them!  Nothing I tried really made the warp pop though and in the end I have chosen to go with a turquoise lace weight yarn which makes a lovely fabric due to it's cashmere content.  It's not exactly what I envisioned and almost feels a waste of the gorgeous Sushi roll but I'm going to carry on and see how it turns out!

I also decided to move my loom up to the summer house - it's lovely having a little crafting corner where I can leave everything set up!   We've ripped up the disintegrating carpet and I turned up the hems on some curtains we had in a previous house.

Whilst I haven't knitted much I did decide to throw a skein of undyed yarn in the dye pot.  This was a 50/50 Merino Silk blend with 600m per 150g skein.  It's destined for my Pebble Beach Shawl and I couldn't decide whether I wanted hot pink or green.  In the end pink won and I used a mix of Magenta and Hot Fuchsia acid dyes.  I honestly didn't like the end result when wet - far too purple/red toned but as it dried I fell in love!

Monday, 8 June 2015

More Spinning

I am absolutely loving having my wheel set up in the summer house as it gives me much more of an opportunity to spin, whether it's a quick 5 minutes or an afternoon sat in the sun!  I've even given my wheel a light sanding and waxed it all again as a treat.

I finished some more Fondant Fibre Rolags yesterday - these were the Priscilla colour way (an 80% Merino/20% Tussah Silk blend) which is just my colours (although the skein is still a tad damp here).  I added a bit of silver pretty much everything in sight!  The lawn has taken on a somewhat sparkly appearance and I even found some in my undie drawer this morning.

Also finished in the last couple of weeks is some handdyed, handspun merino "Punky Liquorice"

The mini skein is a 2 ply of the pink singles in the main skein.

And a huge skein of "Raven" which is again a Merino/Tussah Silk blend that Carla gifted me for Christmas.

My spinning is definitely finer and more consistent now and I've found my feet with my drafting technique - just practice makes perfect now!  I'd love a high speed flyer as I much prefer finer yarns so that's on my wish list for Christmas.

Since I was re labelling the stash, here's a shot of all my handspun to date.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

A Finished Rainbow!

After a very, very late (or early!) spot of knitting on Friday night I finally cast off my Rainbow Pop Spots. I was that tired that I probably tinked more on Friday than I have knitted all week - never a good idea to combine lace and tiredness! I've yet to wash and block (as I have no where to do block it at the moment) but it's an impressive 198cm x 10cm unblocked.

I'm so pleased with how the hand dyed colours have turned out!  In total I used 234g of yarn:

Scarlet Spots - 3g 
Orange Spots - 7g
Yellow Spots - 12g
Green Spots - 16g
Blue Spots - 27g
Plum Spots - 30g
Undyed/White - 109g 
Scarlet Border - 30g

Whilst the border seemed never ending, the lace is a great contrast to the shawl body.  I'm still debating whether I should have gone for a black background colour but as it's far too late now and I'm not knitting another (no offence to the pattern - which I thought was fabulous!) as my wish list is already faaaaaar too long!  The white is lovely and summery though so will at least add a happy injection of colour into my usual black attire!

Monday, 25 May 2015

A WIP Update

It's been a while since I updated my WIP accountability list and wish list and given that the bank holiday weather is rather dull and grey I thought I'd dig out my project bags and check my progress.

As far as my WIP List from the beginning of the year goes,  there are a woeful amount of FO!!

JUL HAT in Yarn Stories Fine Merino and Baby Alpaca DK (Fuchsia) - Completed/FO

ORLA MITTS in Bergere de France Ideal (Meije, Calanque, Vitamine, Citronnier) - Completed/FO

SONNENSEGEL in Noro Kureyon Sock (240) and Drops Brushed Alpaca Silk (02 Hellgrau) - Still in the early stages but in no rush with this one!

 in Lion Brand Amazing (Muana Loa)
- Completed/FO

 in Rico Design Creative Poems Aran (04 and 05)
- Still hibernating!

THE HULK (AKA PLUM ISLAND BIG BABY BLANKET) in Cygnet Seriously Chunky (Meadow Green)
- Still hibernating...may complete it this decade!

in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 Ply (Bubblegum and Sour Apple)
- I haven't picked this up since my last update as I've been working on the Pop Spots!!

POP SPOTS by Juju Vail
 in hand dyed yarn
- I'm now 50 repeats into the 111 repeat border *YAWN* It's absolutely huge and gorgeous though so I'm happy to keep going - albeit very slowly.

in Wollmeise Lace Garn Versuch Green -
I'm determined to wear a hand knitted sweater to Yarndale!   Cast this on this week and ripped it all out yesterday as I wasn't remotely happy with my increases.  Will cast it on again later in the hope I can make the increases more consistent/neater.

My wish list has been added too (probably not a good thing!)

AISLING SHAWL by Justyna Lorkowska - I originally planned this in the gorgeous Eden Cottage Yarns Milburn but after seeing a WIP on Ravelry made with a grad yarn and a contrasting colour, I think I may have found the perfect project for the pretty Truly Hooked grad that I was gifted from Carla.  Combined with some grey, I think it will be lovely!

STARLIGHT SHAWL by Anna Dalvi - I'm much happier with the Fuchsia Wollmeise option so really can't wait to cast this on, although it'll likely be towards the end of the year the way I'm going!  But it'll match my hair colour hehe.

PEBBLE BEACH SHAWL by Helen Stewart - This has been in my queue since release but with the newly released sizes I can't resist any longer!!  I think I shall go for a Medium in Wollmeise Wasabi as I'm hoping I would have enough yardage in the 150g skein.  Of course I shall keep my eye out for some WM Lace in either Wasabi or Fuchsia just in case though - or some equally as gorgeous 600m/100g skein lace!

3 COLOUR CASHMERE COWL by Joji Locatelli - I was actually gifted Carla's 3 Colour Cashmere Cowl in Madelinetosh which I need to redo the cast off edge on!  I still love these skeins together though and am just debating whether to go up a needle size/increase the width as I'd prefer a slightly slouchier cowl.

 which, having already started once but frogged, I'm looking forward to casting back on as I loved the beading and the hearts in the red WM!

I think I need to make this a 2015-2016 list!!  With trying to spin regularly as well I'm going to struggle to get even half of these completed but I do so love planning them!!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Where does the time go...

...May seems to have totally disappeared?!  I have absolutely no idea where the last few weeks have gone and seem to have very little to show craft wise for this month!

A week or so a go I decided to move my spinning wheel back down in to the summer house at the bottom of the garden.  It's been relegated to a corner in the hall for a very long time - after the summer house roof started leaking last year - but with the roof now fixed and the weather improving I decided to try to utilise the space a bit more.  Being able to leave my wheel set up has made a hugely positive difference and I have actually been spinning most days.

First off the wheel was some lovely merino, silk and camel spun from Fondant Fibre rolags.

Next up was a gorgeous braid of 50/50 Merino/Tussah Silk that was a present from Carla which she dyed the perfect red!

My spinning has definitely got finer and more consistent!  I'm currently working on some World of Wool Merino/Tussah Silk Custom Blend (another gift from Carla) which I hope to finish this weekend/next week.

Knitting wise I am STILL working on the border of my Pop Spots shawl.  It's truly never ending!!  I'm at just over 40 repeats of the 111 last count so shall keep plodding away at it and might finish sometime this year.  It very much reminds me of my Biellese border (another shawl I need to finish!)

On that note I should also confess to having cast on yet another WIP!  I needed something to stop my knitting mojo leaving with the Pop Spots border and couldn't resist starting my Avalanche sweater in the Wollmeise Lace.  I have to admit to not looking forward to winding the 325g skein into a cake but my (new to me) Jumbo Yarn Winder managed admirably.  Is this not the biggest cake of yarn ever?!

I completed the first and second contiguous sets and am just about to start the third set and neck shaping.  At first glance the pattern seemed rather daunting in so much that there is a huge amount of instructions (I much prefer to knit from charts!) but it's incredibly well detailed and broken down into easily manageable sections so in reality is very simple.  How long it's going to take me to knit is anyone's guess though LOL  I'm hoping to have it completed for Yarndale...might have finished the Pop Spots by then too!!