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.






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.

Is it July already?

Posted by Caroline in Book making, Knitting, socks on August 17th, 2017

I can report that the cardigan has had a lot of wear even with the baggy neck that I still don’t like. It’s warm and it fits me and that is good enough. When I come to knit the cone of blue I’ll make more of an effort with the neckline. All I’ve been knitting recently is socks and I’ve reached the stage where I’m bored with them too. This is the sum total of a week’s holiday knitting and it’s even worse than it looks because when I came back I’d only knitted half of the rib. It turns out that there is less knitting time on a cruise than I expected, I took 400g of sock yarn away with me and managed half an inch of rib. It’s an unusual situation, I’m ruling that these will be holiday socks as the yarn went to Norway and back and if these are holiday socks then the rest of the yarn qualifies for holiday socks too.

So where have I been since March? I’ve been at the gym for three hours a week, I’ve been spending at least four hours a week learning Norwegian,  I’ve been making yoghurt every week, the child had a few weeks of exams which always throws my routine and we went on a cruise which needed a ridiculous amount of planning as we’ve never done it before. Oh how they mocked my packing of magnets. Oh how they ate their words when I pinned the daily newsletter to the wall. In addition to this my access to the internet has been hit and miss for months and now I’m at the stage where  my laptop has turned its nose up at wireless internet altogether and has started becoming sniffy about being fastened to the router with a wire. It’s been easy to put off updating the blog until some other time, I started writing this in July and now it’s the middle of August.

I had a request to make River’s journal less authentic and more user friendly by switching out the expensive hand torn thick paper for plain old lined paper. It’s his book and he can have what he wants even if it is wrong. I bought a few exercise books and cut them to size, sewed them into a block that was the right thickness for the existing cover, pasted a bit of cheesecloth onto the spine, cut out the old block, pasted in the new block and replaced the endpapers. Job done, teen pleased. I did toy with the idea of starting from scratch with new covers and making a better job of it but when I finished making this I put the leftover blue leather in a safe place and as usual it’s so safe that I can’t find it now that I want it again.

I was making socks in my last post (oh, what a surprise) and I did finish all of them by the birthday deadlines. I’d like to say that they have all been in wear for months but I’ve just found the black striped pair at the bottom of the knitting bag. Rather like updating the blog, that’s a job that has needed doing for a long time but I just couldn’t be bothered. Unlike the blog when it is ignored for too long yarn starts falling out of the top and rolling under the coffee table. I was wondering what there was in it and was surprised to find two and two half pairs of socks as well as the multiple bags of yarn that I was expecting. There I was thinking I would have to have a Cinderella moment to work out whose feet it was I was aiming these at and it turns out that the blog knew all about it. If only I had told it where I had stashed the Tardis-blue leather.

I’ve lost 27% of my body weight and as a result I’ve lost a lot of my wardrobe too. I don’t mind replacing t shirts as they usually only last a summer until I accidentally bleach them but other than that I don’t want to buy for this summer and then find that (hopefully) things are too big for me next summer. I made one simple blouse come t shirt and then used that pattern to take in some shirts. The shirts cost me less than it would have been to buy the fabric and the majority of the sewing work has been done for me because I’m keeping the hems, collar and front facings. They fasten on the wrong side but as I can get them on and off over my head I don’t much care. I keep taking the odd item to the charity shop while I dither on a hanger by hanger basis as to whether I should get rid or make smaller. Like updating the blog and tidying the yarn basket it’s another job that is easier to put off for another day.



Warm again

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, sweaters on March 7th, 2017

It was just me and the self timer on the camera and I had a race against the fading light so these are all the photos the blog is getting. The plain cardigan is finished, I decided against pockets as I don’t have the need for them that I did when I had a dog. (Those of you who are cat people may not be aware that you can identify a dog owner by the black plastic bags in every pocket of every coat and bag they own). It’s plain as plain except for the rib at each side. I could sell you this as a well thought out alternative to waist shaping but the truth is that it was simply so I didn’t need to bother with a stitch marker. The rib was a big flag that signalled that this was the point to decrease as my bust is smaller than my hips. The yarn is Forsell’s Touch of Silk, it’s made for machine knitting so is sold oiled on the cone. It softens up once you wash out the oil, you can skein and wash it before knitting or wait until the end and scour the finished item in very hot water and washing up liquid which is what I did. I bought a full kilo cone in this dark brown and a part cone in dark blue and I know now that there will be enough of the blue for a sweater without having to resort to stripes. It knits up nicely to four stitches to the inch on a 5mm needle, it would be fine on a smaller needle but I don’t think that I would like the fabric on anything much bigger.

After it was off the needles it seemed a bit gappy around the neck but I convinced myself that it would fill in with the collar. Had I sat and worked out the numbers at that point (ideally even earlier before I’d cast off) I would have seen that the neck was nearly 20″ around which is fine for a sweater where it has to clear your ears but somewhat large for a cardigan. I didn’t look at the stitch count for the final row and so decided that the width was an illusion caused by the lack of a collar. I knitted the collar, both front bands, washed it, dried it, put the buttons on and not surprisingly found that the neck was still gappy. I’ve poked at it for a couple of days, attempted to steam the neck into a more pleasing shape, poked at it some more and tried to muster up the enthusiasm to take off the bands and collar and fix it. In the end I went for plan B which was to run a piece of yarn around the neck and pull it up slightly. It is a quick and dirty fix but it is a fix and if at some future point I want to do the job properly (yeh, as if) then I can.

I usually have a three week delay while I dither over for buttons but this time I had the buttons long before I had the yarn. I’ve had them for months and I’ve been waiting for the right project to put them on. (I typed that and went to check exactly how long I’ve had the buttons for, maybe it was as long as a year? It’s actually three years, doesn’t time fly?) This project is as good as any other to put them on, I get to look at the ravens now rather than having them squirreled away waiting for the perfect project. If a better project comes along I can take them off this and put them on the new thing. I love them, they make me happy every time I pick up the cardigan and that shows that it was the right project to use them on.

I have nearly finished sewing in all the ends on the stripey socks, the birthday is weeks away and I’ve done a sock and a half so far. I ran out of black with a stripe and a toe to go but managed to find three part balls of black within four feet of my seat. I suspect there might be more if I actually went and looked. The coloured leftovers went straight into another pair of socks, the colours all work together because they all went into the same dye bath. I quite like them, the colours work well together and two of the four yarns are sparkly. I’m being daring here and I’ve started knitting on the basis that there is going to be “enough” yarn, usually I’d mark the middle of each ball of yarn so that I could be sure that I had enough for the second sock. If I run out it will be after the heel where it won’t be noticeable and I know what dye I used so I have the chance of transforming another oddment of grey sock yarn into a green that will blend in.



The swatch did not lie but the pattern did

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, sweaters on February 24th, 2017

The cardigan has now reached the exciting stage where I decrease eight stitches every other row. It fits, it’s a bit snug but my tension square says that it should ease up a bit when washed. There will be a collar and button bands in due course and probably afterthought pockets too. It is not the same cardigan as the one I had started last time, after I’d bought the pattern I realised why it was that the entirety of Ravelry thought that it knitted up small. The tension was given over stockinette and the finished measurement was exactly right for the stockinette tension and the number of stitches which would have been fine if it had actually been knitted in stockinette. It had cables and usually patterns add a few extra stitches at the bottom of the cables to compensate for them pulling in but this one didn’t. The cables took at least two inches off the finished width and that wasn’t taken into account anywhere. I would need to address the sizing, sort out the arms (Ravelry was again united in saying that they ran narrow), change the hood to a collar – it was just as easy to ditch the pattern and knit something up based on the tension I had. I had also lost faith in the designer and that’s never a good starting point. It is now a plain crew neck raglan cardigan from “the knitters handy book of sweater patterns”  at four stitches per inch. If I pull my finger out and don’t dither over buttons there’s still a chance I could wear it before the season changes. I usually pick knitwear based on what looks to be an entertaining knit but this time I’m aiming for something finished and warm. This is knitted on what is for me huge needles, most of my knitting is in the 3mm range so 5mm feels massive. It makes for a really quick knit though, or it would do if I was knitting the cardigan and not socks. It very quickly became too big to be carry about knitting.

I’m on with birthday sock knitting, a pair for a birthday in April and another for a birthday in March. If I’d planned this properly then I would have started (and finished) the March ones first but I didn’t. I think I’m on the verge of running out of black sock yarn and to be honest I’m not all that upset about it (although I will be very upset if I don’t reach the toe of the second pair). The child no longer needs black topped socks to comply with a school uniform and I can do without a big slab of black on tiny needles as my evening knitting. If he had smaller feet it wouldn’t be so bad but they go on forever. I’m easing him away from what he sees as being a normal sock by moving to stripes. If I can sell the stripes then I can move onto stripes that are not black. If this fails then I’ll just buy another 500g of black sock yarn and carry on as before unless I accidentally press the wrong button and order grey or navy, either of which would be an improvement over black.

Next time – maybe a finished cardigan?