Unstuck

Posted by Caroline in doubleweave, Knitting, socks, Weaving on June 18th, 2018

I’ve not done any weaving in a very long time. The floor loom has been sitting gathering dust on a project that was going nowhere, I threaded it in July 2014 and wove seven inches before deciding that I hated it. The red and the black were fine but there was something wrong with the yellow and orange. Funnily enough the colours did not improve at all with the passage of time but it still took nearly four years to admit that this was a failure and pick up the scissors. I have a suspicion that I’m not going to like this piece of fabric either but that’s fine, it’s a sample and if I learn something from it then it will have done its job and it can leave home as a lap blanket. Planning it occupied my mind at a difficult time so even if it doesn’t make it to the finish line it will still not have been a waste. Also, it’s all leftover sock yarn so I’ve already had the value out of the original purchase. You may be able to tell from these justifications that I already think that it is a total write off and I haven’t got half of it threaded yet.

I knitted one pair of socks from the scrap bag that needed a bit of a stripe adjustment because I was running out of the brighter yarn on the second sock. No-one will notice that the teal stripe on the top sock is wider as it nears the toe, it’s less noticeable than it would be if the solid toe had started six rounds earlier. After that I got on a bit of a roll. Once upon a time I bought some lovely cashmere/superwash merino/silk sock yarn from a destash and before it arrived I bought two other similar sock yarns to go with it for my grand plan. When I received the very lovely yarn I found that it had been home to moths and by the time I finished with the skein I ended up with over a dozen small balls which rather took the shine off it. Enough time has passed now that I don’t feel bitter when I look at it and needless to say I can’t remember now what I intended to do with 300g of orange/red yarn. When I was tidying up and found the bag I looked at the small balls and thought”stripes”. Whenever I look like running out of brown yarn I rummage in the sock scrap bag for something to dye brown and set off again. I could be good for months with this, I was intending to knit round and round until I ran out of yarn but then something better came along.

This will not count in the reckoning of yarn in and out because this is foster knitting. This is the point at which I start knitting (oh dear, all those rows of rib I don’t have to do, how sad) and I can show you now what it will grow up to be because I’ve knitted it before. This is the start of a Nine Tailors sock kit, when I knitted it in 2010 I said that it was the most interesting thing that I had ever knitted and I think that is still the case. It has lace, beads, cables and fiendish colourwork. This time I am going to knit the colour chart the right way up and there will be twice as much of it as I’ll be following the pattern rather than making it shorter to accommodate my trouser bottoms.

I’ve held off posting this until Monday afternoon which was the last day of A levels in this house, exams are still going on depending on subject but we are done now. This is one ending that I’m glad to see, I want to turn the page and move on to the next chapter.

 

 



Me vs sock scraps yet again

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, hats, Knitting, Spinning on May 24th, 2018

I’m still on a mission to reduce the bag of sock yarn leftovers. They are tumbling out of the top of the bag so it’s either use some up or get a bigger bag. I’ve gone down the route of “bigger bag” once  already so that has not proved to be much of a long term solution. I would normally knit half a dozen pairs of striped socks but the only feet that need socks are my son’s and he says that he has enough now. After further discussion it seems that was because he had too many to fit in the drawer, I came up with storage solutions and now I have the green light to knit more.

This should have been a hat with earflaps but I was done with it before I reached that stage. It is all leftover sock yarn so even without earflaps it is a winner. This is a free pattern, Ch’ullu and I rather liked it but not enough to make another. My dislike is down to setting off with a circular needle that was just slightly too short so it was an effort to move the stitches along. It did stretch the floats out nicely so I stuck with it. When I changed to dpns after the decreases you could see the transition very clearly – lovely smooth colourwork vs puckering. A quick pass with a steam iron made it all look the same so I could have changed needles without making it obvious in the knitting. Learning through doing it wrong – I make these mistakes so you don’t have to.

For the record, 100g of yarn does not an Ulina make. This weighs 163g which explains why I ran out of the main colour just before reaching the sleeves. After that it all went downhill because I was knitting at night and I thought that the solid yarn was brown which would have picked out the brown in the first yarn. It was a shock the next morning to find that it was a deep burgundy which went with nothing at all. I should have ripped it out but I’d already done the messing about at the beginning of the sleeves and it was easier not to bother. It doesn’t have buttons yet, I made buttonholes on both sides so I can be indecisive right until the last minute. The body yarn in this is the one from my last post, the scary orange vanished with a bit of red dye.

This is my third project out of the sock scrap bag. Much as I would love to know how much it weighs that won’t be happening until it is finished because it is set out in the order that I want to put it on the loom and I’m not messing that up just to weigh it. It should end up at two metres long, if it is a thing of wonder and beauty then I’ll make three or four more and make it into a blanket. If it remains as unappealing as it looks now then I’ll cut it in half, sew it together side by side and make a lap blanket. Either way it gets me back into weaving and uses up sock scraps. I’m not going to say “how can it possibly go wrong?” because it’s years since I warped a loom and I’m rediscovering all those beginner errors that I thought I’d left behind me.

I’m still ahead on yarn usage because I haven’t bought any. I’ve knitted the hat without earflaps (71g) and the baby jacket (163g), two more Tychus (180g) and most of a pair of socks that will fall into next month. I also sold 560g of fibre so the total used since last time is 974g for a total to date of 5.94kg

 



Tackling the sock scraps bag

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, Spinning on April 12th, 2018

I finished spinning the yak silk blend and decided to leave it in its original (natural) colour. I’m still pondering the next decision which is what it is going to be. I suspect that it is wanting to be a simple cowl but it could also be a woven scarf and it obviously can’t be both so it gets to sit for a little longer while I make my mind up. The rest of the spinning recently has all been in colour, there was 70g of purple superwash and nylon which I also had in blue so I spun both of those intending to use them with the bag of sock yarn leftovers. I also had a length of red/brown/gold which was rather more red/brown/orange than I had intended it to be. The colour has not improved at all with keeping so I turned it into yarn and fixed the colour issue with dye. I like the yarn on the right more than the yarn on the left and as it is now has less contrast it will work better with the bag of sock yarn leftovers.

I have had two false starts, three if you count the mitten that is sitting waiting for the second hand. Again, the theme is using up sock yarn leftovers. I thought about making mini mittens for an advent calendar but this is as far as I got with the first one before deciding that it was more trouble than it was worth. You can just see the “1″ emerging in the pattern. It was too fiddly and needed a pattern so failed the requirements for travel knitting. I tried a bigger mitten, one that was actually hand sized and that worked better because it didn’t need a pattern but despite being round and round knitting it didn’t really grab me. The third false start was a baby jacket, a lovely slab of striped garter that could be stuck in my handbag and dragged out while I waited for the gigging musician to finish his thing. This would have worked except that I’ve knitted it many times before and so didn’t read the pattern. I was carrying it around for weeks before I picked the pattern up and saw that I’d missed some essential shaping not long after the start. I would like to say that this is how we learn except that this is a repeat offence and I didn’t learn from my previous lessons so I’m not hopeful that I won’t do this again.

I am hoping that this project makes it to the finish line and turns into a child sized earflap hat. The lighter purple is the yarn that I spun this month, the darker is a single 50g ball of Fabel sock yarn and I’m going to use those in stripes together with whatever I pull out of the scrap bag. I’m struggling a bit at the moment because the circular needle I’m using is only just small enough for the number of stitches I have. On the plus side this is pulling out the work so I have no worries about the floats being tight but it is an effort moving the stitches around the needle. I’ve started so I’ll carry on with this needle until I reach the first decrease round but if I knit another I either need to make a bigger size or find a shorter needle.

In March I bought neither yarn nor fibre. I knitted another five hats (450g) and a pair of socks (90g) so that makes 540g in the month and 4.97kg to date. The socks were another scrap bag creation, one of the yarns was self striping and I was amused beyond belief to find that the toes ended up matching without any thought on my part. The stripes in the body of the sock are yarn changes, they would never be an exact match because one of the yarns was a colour changing one and another was from a dyed sock blank. They are an obvious pair and that’s good enough for me. Today his feet left the house in a pair (and I use the term very loosely) that had one green foot and one red. I hope he has another pair the same.



Done and buttoned

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Stashbash, sweaters on February 28th, 2018

The button tin came up with the buttons for the little pink baby jacket, they were too small for the holes that I’d made so there was some additional sewing involved. This is Muscardinus, it’s a free pattern and there is an English version. It was the hood that I was interested in, I wanted to know whether I liked it enough to bring it into my repertoire for adding to other baby jackets. It’s a nice enough hood so now if you see a little jacket with a hood you know where I snagged it from. I wasn’t sold on the extra knitting for the turn back cuff nor the slipped stitch edge trim and another time I would make the buttonholes smaller. I ignored the instructions for joining the hood, there should have been a decorative twiddly bit at the tip but I was done at that point. In my mind it was going to be a quick little knit, the reality is that knitting 170g of sock yarn does not happen overnight.

The larger blue cardi is also finished including the buttons and sewing in the few ends. I took the buttons from last year’s brown cardigan as they are my favourites. Eight would have been better than six but I only have six so that’s just too bad. The pattern is the seamless yoke sweater from Ann Budd’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns and it’s knitted in Forsell’s Touch of Silk. I bought two kilo cones of it last year and the brown sweater that I finished last Spring has worn very well. The photo on the right shows the blue cardigan on top of the brown cardigan, it is too big but it’s still wearable, I could fix it by reknitting the bottom and grafting it back together just short of the underarms. I’m thinking about doing that but in the meantime I’m going to give it some new buttons from the button tin. You can see in the photo on the right that the blue one is looking a bit pointy at the bottom front, I’ve pulled it out of shape while I was sewing on the button but it was straight before I started and it will be straight again.

I’ve rehomed some big bags of random yarn this month which outweighed the 850g reduction in stash from these two cardigans. My totals for the month were 2.93kg out, 100g in. That makes a net total to date of 4.43kg so that 4kg target that I set myself for the year was not too hard after all. I think I’m going to keep track of the movements for the rest of the year as I still have lovely yarn that needs to be knitted and I’m more likely to do that if I stop buying more.

I’ve spun and plied the 100g of yak/silk fibre, I thought that I’d dye it copper but now that I have the yarn I’m not sure that I will. Maybe I’ll look at that next time.



Back to socks

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Spinning, sweaters on February 19th, 2018

All of my knitting has reached the stage where it needs a bit of effort so I have cast it aside and started something new. These are socks from the scrap bag, once I started pulling out small balls of yarn I ended up with enough for three pairs of socks so that’s probably what I’ll be making. Most of the balls are big enough for me to not worry about running out of yarn before the toe but just so I eliminate all possibility of that I’m knitting both socks at the same time. I’m sticking with ten round stripes because it makes counting the length of the sock really easy. There are four stripes in the cuff and eight in the foot except that this time I’m going to reduce the foot length just a bit. I’m adding a bit of length to the heel flap for a high arch and having that extra ease in the gusset means that the foot is stretched less and that means that there is effectively more length in the foot. I’ll see how well they fit before launching the next pair.

I’ve been spinning as part of my clearing up programme. The three batts were similar in colour so I used one in each ply. The resulting yarn will go into the next batch of hats with the left over yarn from the blue cardigan. (The skein at the top is a different colour because I found a bobbin full of single left from another project and I tidied that away too.) The coned blue is not left over yet, I only have the front bands and neckband to knit on the cardigan but the whole thing is sitting in the airing cupboard. I knew that it will grow on washing but I wanted to be sure that it would grow enough before I spent the time finishing it. The plan is to dry the cardigan, rejoice that it fits, knit the bands and then start hats with the leftovers. I haven’t seen the buttons I’d planned for it but I’m pretty sure that they exist and my tidy up means that I know a lot of places where they aren’t.

I have bought 100g of fibre this month. I’m claiming the “ooh, shiny” exemption as well as it not being something that I already have. This is a yak silk blend and I think I’m going to dye the yarn gold (which sounds much prettier than orange). The silk will take the colour and the brown yak may change colour slightly. I may not have knitted many hats this month but I’ve taken a few bags of leftovers to the post office and a new life in someone else’s stash so I’m confident that there is more going out than coming in.

 



Not a moth in sight

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Spinning, sweaters on January 26th, 2018

I’ve not had any major crises in the last couple of weeks, I can’t work out whether that is because things are genuinely going better or whether I’m just more able to cope with ordinary everyday setbacks without making them into insurmountable obstacles. Please cross your fingers and hope that I can sit and wonder about this for another couple of weeks rather than finding out by suddenly having to cope with something.

I don’t have any socks on the needles right now (I know, I know but I’m not myself at the moment)  so the little baby jacket has become travel knitting. The two balls of wool means that it doesn’t fit in my handbag very well but on the plus side it doesn’t usually need the pattern and it’s not as if I have anything else to choose from. I’ve folded it over so that it looks more obviously what it is, I cast on at the cuff and I have the back on hold while I work one front. I did briefly consider working the back at the same time from the other end of the balls but that’s one of those ideas that seems good at the time but really isn’t. I’m not sure whether the turn back on the cuff is worth it either, I usually give the designer the benefit of the doubt the first time through but I’m looking at it now and only seeing the extra work.

I’ve made a start on something else that is not suitable as travel knitting. This is the bottom of a cardigan for me, there is going to be a bit more of the texture bit until I think I’ve done enough and then a switch to plain stockinette until the yoke. I wanted something plain firstly because dark fabric doesn’t show cables well but mostly because I’ll be knitting this in the evening and I don’t want to be struggling to see what I’m doing. I’ve seen the buttons recently and hopefully I’ll find them again before I get to the part where I need them. This is sitting on top of the cone, it looks massive, that is what a kilo of aran yarn looks like.

I’ve spent hours this week sorting through and tidying up wool, both fibre and yarn. I photographed some of it and entered it on Ravelry and once I start sorting through the yarn bins I’ll itemise the rest of it. I’ve gathered all the sock yarn into one place and needless to say it doesn’t fit into its designated bag. I don’t know why this should be a surprise to me because it’s what usually happens when I try to get it into some sort of order. I moved it into a bigger bag and it doesn’t fit into that either. During my excavation of the spare bedroom I found some spare parts for the sofa bed and the blue leather that I made Riversong’s journal from but I failed to find the needle tipped oil pen that I need for the spinning wheel or the other oil pen that I was using before that one. The orifice hooks have also vanished so I suspect that somewhere there is a bag with all the missing bits in. That will have to wait for another day because I’m done with tidying up for now, I made the major investment decision of buying another oil pen for the cost of a coffee and a cake.

It appears that losing weight has fixed my knee problem as I sat and spun a bobbin with no ill effects. This is really good news, especially considering the weight of fibre that’s boxed up waiting for me to get to it. I have yet to try the treadles on the loom but hopefully that should be good now too.



Stashbash 2018 – January

Posted by Caroline in hats, Knitting, socks, Stashbash on January 22nd, 2018

These may look like hats but they are part of my strategy for tidying up the front bedroom. The spare bedroom has yet again reached the stage where I look in, sigh and walk away even though I know from previous experience that it never takes as long as I think it will to clear it up and get everything back into boxes.  The last time I had a serious sort through of the stash was six years ago when I decided to move out a net two kilos of yarn. At that time I had no idea how big a challenge that would be and it was a surprise to me that by October I’d used up 8.9kg. Admittedly I’d bought rather a lot during the year but once the purchases had been netted off I still hit the target. This year I’m planning to buy less so I think that to aim for a net four kilo reduction is possible. It’s not only about having less stuff in boxes but also about seeing the wood for the trees and getting reacquainted with what I have. I’ve reopened the Etsy shop and intend spinning all the fibre into yarn as that takes up less space. There will no doubt be a number of project bags that will need new homes once I’ve moved enough stuff off the floor to be able to get to the box with the fabric in.

The hats on the right are random odd balls together with the leftovers from the grey cardigan that I knitted for mum in 2014. There are a few small balls of grey left now but not enough for another hat. The hats on the left feature the leftovers from the brown cardigan that I knitted earlier this year. There is one more brown hat on the needles which I think is the last one. I could have done something radical such as weigh how much yarn one hat takes but that thought eluded me. So far all of the yarn has come from off the floor and knitting it means that I don’t have to put it away. There were a few other grey hats but they left in a parcel of other woolies earlier in the month. I also sold a few odd balls of cotton yarn making the total used for January 1.5kg. I bought nothing so that’s 1.5kg net.

This will be the basis of the third phase of hats but not until I’ve made myself a cardigan out of it and have some actual leftovers. This is a kilo cone of aran Forsell Touch of Silk which was so incredibly cheap that it would have been rude not to buy it especially as I bought a second kilo at the same time thereby saving on postage too. It is the same yarn as the brown that I made a cardigan from last year so I already know what sort of fabric it makes and that it changes significantly on scouring as it is oiled for machine knitting.  I would usually start with the measurements of the last cardigan I made but that is already too big because I’ve lost a stone in weight since then. I have the yarn, I have the buttons but I need the measurements and a design idea.  Don’t hold your breath.

It’s not been all hats this month, I’m knitting them on straight needles and they won’t go in my handbag so they don’t make for good travel knitting. These are socks for feet I don’t know very well, if I’m lucky then they will fit but if not they may return for some minor adjustment. I’ve written down the number of rounds so I could reproduce them again if I get lucky. If I don’t get lucky then at least I know the starting numbers from which I can make adjustments.

 

 

 

 



Mending

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks on January 3rd, 2018

I am coping with my life by carefully stepping around the subjects that are too hard at the moment so let’s stick to knitting. I was pretty sure that as low as I was I could still win at socks so I started a pair for Bigfoot on Monday night at his music lesson. When I got home they were no longer in my handbag and nowhere to be seen in the car. I looked in the car and on the floor outside but didn’t fancy driving forty minutes to search the pavement outside his teacher’s house. In the grand scheme of things it was not significant and not a thing to be losing sleep over except that it proved that there was still a way for me to fail at sock knitting. The next day I had a small celebration when I found the missing sock in its hiding place under the driver’s seat of the car. I started the first sock on a colour change so I could make the second one match but when I got to the toe of the first and saw how little yarn was left I ditched that idea. I had less than 10g left after knitting the pair, if I had started the second one in the same place in the colour repeat as the first one I would have ended up with a join and mismatched toes. It looks as if stripes or at least A Stripe is the way to go, that or another 50g of yarn.

The new pair is the one on the far right. The rest have come out of the mending pile, one needed a darn, six needed new toes. One pair of these dates to 2008, one to 2010 and the child pair on the second from right is from 2013. With that pair I did more than replace the toe, I added half an inch to the length as well. There is no wear to the heel on those but they are wearing a bit thin under the sole so I suspect that they will be back in the mending pile again next year. The so called mending pile now consists only of whole-no-holes odd socks. I suspect that their partners may be lurking at the back of someone’s sock drawer but I can’t be bothered to hunt them down.

This is going to be some sort of baby jacket with a hood. I’ve not knitted this pattern before and it was the hood that was the attraction. It is knitted cuff to cuff,  it starts at the cuff at the bottom and I’m currently knitting from the bottom of the front, across the shoulder and down the back. At some point there will be a few stitches cast off in the middle for the beginning of the neck. Although I’ve not knitted this particular pattern I’ve knitted others than run cuff to cuff so there should be no surprises. More sensible knitters would have read the pattern before starting but this is a clear case of do as I say not do as I do.

I am down to one sweater that fits me.  Celtic Dreams is huge and Ophelia was so big that I ripped it. I had hoped that I could just take out the gusset panels on the hips but it was massively big on the bust too. There was no way I would ever wear it again and the yarn was in good condition for an eight year old garment so it has more chance of being used again as yarn rather than as a sweater. I’ve had a few half hearted attempts to cast on for another sweater but it’s too hard at the moment so it’s hats and socks until I can get my head around what I want and what size I am these days.

 

 

 



The end of an era

Posted by Caroline in Family on November 24th, 2017

If I type really quickly and hit publish then that will be better than letting the dust gather for another week. My life has set off in an unexpected and unwanted direction and I don’t really know what I’m doing at the moment. It is a month to Christmas Eve and the only presents I have are socks for feet that no longer live here. It all hurts too much at the moment. I don’t know whether I will be back at some time in the future when everything is less raw.

I’ve nearly got through the first month of being a widow.



Day ten

Posted by Caroline in Non-fibre on November 8th, 2017

I hope to be back in a few weeks with some lace and maybe the start of a sweater.